SEEN AND HEARD ON A SATURDAY: CARCASS, CADAVER, CALLUS, SUN OF THE SUNS, STORMGREY, SHADECROWN, SOMBRE FIGURES, THOMAS BEL, ZORNHEYM
Upon awakening this morning I gave some passing though to concentrating on one or two albums and trying to write something that might pass for a review or two. As you can see, the thought didn’t last long, and I instead dove back into the giant list of new songs and videos that had become the source of the giant two-part roundup I compiled yesterday. And that led to this further compilation… though it does include one album review after all.
“I’d describe this album as dad rock.” So says Jeff Walker about the new Carcass album, Torn Arteries. The song that premiered (here) at Rolling Stone along with an excellent animated video (created by created by the inimitable Costin Chioreanu), an extensive history of the band, and a very enjoyable interview of Walker, is definitely more of a rocking song than most others in Carcass‘ storied discography, but the song’s rapidly chugging riff, worming leads, squirming solo, and booming drums do get their hooks in the head. Moreover, Walker’s vocals are damned nasty, and there’s a devilish atmosphere surrounding the song as well. I like it!
“Dance of Ixtab (Psychopomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in B)” is the name of the song. Torn Arteries is set for release by Nuclear Blast on September 17th.
Next up you’ll hear a battering, blistering, rampantly galloping dose of knives-out, adrenaline-fueled metal marauding, which features Kam Lee of Massacre as a guest and episodes of gloomy, abysmal melody. It comes with a nice split-screen video showing these barbarians at work.
The song is off Edder & Bile, which was released last year by Nuclear Blast.
The artwork and album title grabbed me first, and then the rumbling bass, the clattering drum mania, and the grim, gouging riffage kept the grip. This song is a big earth-shaker and head-mover but also palpably sinister, and the mix of singing and ravenous, fangs-bared hostility works very well. The closing sequence of swirling guitars, titanic bass lines, compulsive drumwork and eerie, brazen melody seals the deal.
The song is from A Breath of Flesh Air, set for release on October 9th.
SUN OF THE SUNS (Italy)
No, the name of the song is not “Tit” — get your mind out of the gutter.
The music of “Tiit” is jolting and darting but segues from those ferocious frenzies into passages that soar and sweep in magnificent fashion, and it also includes streamers of dismal melody, gliitering solo work, and overlays of ominous and harrowing ambience. There’s a fine, wind-swept, hair-tossed video to go along with the music.
The song is the title track and second single taken from Sun Of The Suns‘ debut album, out on August 20 on Scarlet Records.
Stormgrey’s new album DNA of Chaos is a generous slab of heavy-grooved, hook-laden savagery with beautifully vicious vocals. Three of the songs are up for streaming on Bandcamp, but all three are now on my roster of candidates for our 2021 list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs:
The jackhammering, swarming, and morbidly slithering “Suicide for pleasure“; the menacing, mid-paced stomp of “Fuel named hate” (which includes especially riveting drum fills); and the neck-wrecking and perfectly named “Grinder for thy flesh“, which sounds like maniacal circle saws cutting through pounded corpses on an assembly line, accented by a weird and woozy guitar solo.
DNA of Chaos will be released by Great Dane Records on October 15th.
We’ve already had a lot of infectious spine-shakers in this collection, but here’s one more, which comes with a lyric video. The skull-splitting drum rhythms and gut-slugging basswork provide the pulse-punch, creating the foundation for glittering keyboards, spell-casting guitar performances, and extravagantly predatory growls and howls.
“Slivers” is from the upcoming third album Solitarian by this Finnish melodic death/doom band. It will be released on September 17th by Inverse Records.
SOMBRE FIGURES (Finland)
As much as I’ve enjoyed all the preceding songs and videos, I will admit that most of them are “crowd pleasers”. And thus I felt a deviant need to change up this collection with something more deranged and abrasive, and so I’m now turning to the rough, raw, and riotous onslaughts of Sombre Figures.
There is indeed very little that’s sombre about the ruination that this band deliver on their debut album, Streams of Decay. The screaming vocals are completely unhinged and so is the drumming, which delivers bullet-spitting fusillades and grenade blasts at jet speed. Oh hell yes, the riffing (including the bass riffs) is generally delirious too, and hazardous to the ears, but thoroughly electrifying in their displays of crazed, blood-spraying violence.
The band do slow down here and there, as in the horrifyingly dismal intro and outro to “Grandmother of Death”, the sulfurous and sinister mid-paced plundering of “Forest” (though it too explodes in startling paroxysms of shrieking and scything mayhem), the bleak, anguish-steeped slow-rocking of “Ancient Ride”, the nightmarishly hallucinatory opening of “Great Realm”, and the atmosphere of grim, blood-freezing grandeur that somehow flows through the savage madness of “Streams”.
The thing is, these songs have a way of sticking in the head, and (as you may have already deducted) they turn out to have individual personalities, thanks to the band’s knack for inserting evocative melodic hooks (albeit unsettling ones), tempo changes, and catchy beats at just the right times. The shifting flow of the songs across the album makes the most of those changing personalities; it’s like passing through a rogues’ gallery in hell. The un-pretty, rehearsal-room quality of the production also creates an air of punk spontaneity and authenticity that makes them even more contagious.
Streams of Decay was released late last month by the German label Deviant Records.
THOMAS BEL (France)
After that last metallic riot I thought you might need some time to catch your breath, and so have decided to follow it with Thomas Bel‘s completely mesmerizing “Dämmerung“.
There’s a sound that runs through most of the track which seems like the rotation of old wooden wheels slowly proceeding across broken ground, perhaps the passage of a weathered cart beneath grey skies, with a coffin on board. The thought of a coffin is spawned by the ghostly collage of stringed instruments (I would guess violin, cello, and bass) that pass across the mind like mists. The atmosphere is deeply sorrowful and haunting, a feeling augmented by plaintive piano keys. It slowly seeps into the soul, and is so immersive that it has the capacity to transport you out of yourself, spellbound.
Yet near the end, the music becomes more harrowing, with building tension in the strings and hints of abrasion, like a poltergeist’s gasping, coupled with sounds of hammering. Maybe the coffin is being nailed shut, or perhaps a hangman’s scaffold is being finished….
The song is described as an homage to Katerina Golubeva. A little research revealed to me that she was a Russian actress who died in 2011 at age 45, best known for her performance in the tragic 1999 French film Pola X (which is the source of still photos that accompany this release).
“Dämmerung” is out now in an extremely limited run of tapes presented by the distinctive Distant Voices label.
To conclude, I’ve chosen a diabolical video for an equally diabolical (and theatrical) rendering of mad-carnival symphonic metal by Zornheym. Fair warning, there are varying bits of effective singing here, to go along with the harsh, rabid-lion vocals.
The song is from The Zornheim Sleep Experiment, a sophomore full-length set for release on October 22nd by Noble Demon.