After spending a ton of time listening to new songs and writing about many of them in the two enormous roundups I posted on Friday and Saturday I despaired of being able to do very much with this week’s SHADES OF BLACK column. But I got a second wind and became inspired by the varying sounds you’re about to discover.
In this two-part edition the bands whose music I chose include some old personal favorites and some very promising newcomers. My second wind is dying, so you’ll most likely have to look for Part 2 on Monday.
These Greek black metal luminaries, whose lineup includes members drawn from Varathron, Hail Spirit Noir, Aenaon, Melan Selas, and Agnes Vein, have a new two-track EP headed our way, and the first of the two songs — “Descending to Acheron” — has now surfaced.
As it begins, the song channels brazen madness, augmented by nimble bass-work, mercurial guitars, and hateful, scalding vocals. A flickering, exotic solo and soaring keys add to the song’s diabolical and dervish-like spirit, which soars to heights of evil majesty.
The other song on the EP, “Premonition of Doom“, isn’t out in the world yet, but I’ll tell you about it: It’s fiery and crazed as well, but its sweeping melodies seem to channel terrible despair as well as heart-swelling glory. The song also stalks and stomps in neck-bending fashion, and brings into play the grand heavy metal chords that, along with those mystical, unearthly synths, are among the hallmarks of classic Hellenic black metal.
The name of the EP is Invoking the Spirit of Doom, and it will be released on 7″ vinyl by Iron Bonehead Productions on October 1st. Also worth noting: The bizarre cover art is a photo of a wax sculpture by Gaetano Giulio Zumbo, titled “Damned Soul”, that he created sometime around 1680.
From listening to this Leipzig-based trio’s next song you probably wouldn’t know that the only instruments it includes are bass and drums, because the band have coaxed such a broad array of tones from the bass. Accompanied by blasting and galloping drums, the familiar low-end tumult comes through, but that’s joined by increasingly feverish dissonance in the upper range, which creates a very unsettling, stomach-churning sensation. Cold abyssal roars and goblin snarls add to the music’s unnerving impact.
The song is from this band’s debut album Trost, set for release on October 1st (vinyl and digital) by Revolvermann Records and Manyiax Records.
There are two bands in this two-part collection who are celebrating there 20th anniversary with the release of new music. and Finland’s Korgonthurus are the first of those, bringing forth a new EP entitled XX.
After a cacophonous and ugly intro track populated by cackling voices, the band mount a feral, thrusting, and swaggering attack in “Demonipalmen“, whose primal, predatory riffing and compulsive, hard-rocking rhythms will enslave your reptile brain. The vocals, which seem to be screamed from a throat being garroted with barbed wire, are maniacal. The song becomes cruel and predatory when the pace slows, but no less primal in its nasty appeal.
The riveting snare beats that helped make “Demonipalmen” so contagious are on full display again in the next two songs. They blend punk-rock rhythms and rampant blasting in “Sieluja Saatanalle“, which is by turns venomously imperial and frighteningly violent, heaving and harrowing, jolting and reckless, and eventually as bleak as a mass grave salted with lye (and with further doses of those insane vocals).
To close, the menacing and marauding “Kahlittu Huora jumalan” will rock your reproductive organs off in merciless fashion. It’s another unmistakably nasty and irresistibly exhilarating piece of work that caps a terrific EP, one that makes it easy to understand why the goat is a symbol of the devil.
XX was released on June 18th by Woodcut Records. A vinyl edition is projected to be available at the end of this month.
The next song I’ve chosen, “Des rêves sales“, begins in eerie and haunting fashion and then explodes without much warning in a typhoon of hammering drums, bubbling bass, and searing waves of distraught melody, with vocals that range from scorching screams to impassioned choral voices. The intensity of the sound seems capable of swallowing you whole, and becomes even more frighteningly intense and otherworldly as the guitars, synths, and the voices writhe and wail in terror and torment.
In the middle of the song, celestial ambient tones and musing bass notes provide a reprieve that’s both hypnotic and uneasy. Larynx-destroying screams, clawing chords, and swelling synths gradually turn up the intensity dial again, only to have the intensity ebb so as to make way for a languid and soulful solo — a final prelude to a crescendo of hurtling drums and sweeping symphonic magnificence laden with feelings of sorrow and despair.
The song is the opening track from this French/Belgian duo’s debut album Une Main, set for release on August 27th by Avantgarde Music. The entire album is already streaming now at the Black Metal Promotion YouTube channel (here), though I haven’t had a chance to listen to all of it.
What comes next are two songs from an unheralded Illinois trio that opened my eyes wide from the first time I heard them.
These two songs are from Sôlt‘s debut album Voidsick, which will be released on September 1st. The thrilling “Gunslinger” brings a wintry blizzard of riffing that’s sweeping in its scale, but the song repeatedly segues into other sensations — of frenzy and fear, anger and anguish, brazen defiance and wild exultation. The drumming is a perpetually dynamic affair, but the screamed vocal tirades are relentlessly furious.
The second song, “Savage“, is equally multi-faceted, though more feral, rabid, and desperate in its moods. On the other hand, “Savage” also includes a stark digression, softening and becoming wistful, and then unfolding into a sweeping piece of melancholy — followed by a throbbing, head-moving segment that has the feeling of abandonment and desolation.
Just based on the evidence of these two multi-faceted tracks, it should be very interesting to see what else happens within Voidsick.