SEEN AND HEARD: DAWN OF SOLACE, OUTER HEAVEN, PATHOLOGY, MORBID MESSIAH, BOURN ULTRA
As I hoped, I had time to compile a second round-up on this Friday… and I have ideas for a third one tomorrow, so do check back. There’s no sandwich this time, unlike the first compilation today, just a severe case of whiplash as you go from the first song into what comes next.
DAWN OF SOLACE (Finland)
It appears that the revival of Dawn of Solace by Tuomas Saukkonen will be a lasting one, because a new album named Flames of Perdition is now set for release on November 12th via the Noble Demon label, and the first item I chose for this collection is a video for its first advance track, “White Noise“.
The emotional power and intensity of the song absolutely floored me. The intensity builds steadily, from its soft and wistful beginning through grim, heavy chords, neck-cracking drums, darting riffs, and the soaring, spine-tingling voice of Mikko Heikkilä (of Kaunis Kuolematon). It reaches a zenith of dark and moving impact via a stunningly beautiful and deeply moving guitar solo by Jukka Salovaara.
It’s a heart-wrenching song, but one that’s going to be hard for you to get out of your head. The accompanying video is a bit of a shock in its scenes of torture, and makes the experience of listening more harrowing.
OUTER HEAVEN (U.S.)
Now it’s time for the whiplash I promised you.
What’s next is a new EP by the phenomenal Pennsylvania death metal band Outer Heaven. As its name might suggest, In Tribute… is a selection of five cover tracks that honor original songs by Repulsion, Morbid Angel, Pig Destroyer, Mortician, and Death.
The EP flies by in less than 14 minutes, but what a tremendous flight it is. Of course Outer Heaven had the benefit of some great songs to work with, but what they’ve done with those tracks is so explosive, so exhilarating, and so powerfully head-hooking that it makes a jaw-dropping, eye-popping first impression… and it’s one of those short releases that also create the compulsion to loop back around to the start and let it run over you a couple more times in a row.
In Tribute… is out now digitally, and physical editions are set for release by Relapse Records on October 8th.
Now that you’ve already experienced whiplash, I decided to just keep lashing you for the next two songs, beginning with a murderous new track from Pathology‘s first album on the Nuclear Blast label, presented through a performance video.
“Engaging in Homicide” is well-named because it’s a maniacal and brutish punisher. The drums discharge like automatic weaponry. The riffing roils, blazes, and hammers. The guttural vocals are foul. The soloing is freakish and fret-melting — and then, as the music soars, it becomes wondrous. Enjoy the beating you are about to receive, as you gurgle your own blood and smile through broken teeth….
The new album, The Everlasting Plague, will be released by Nuclear Blast on November 19th.
MORBID MESSIAH (Mexico)
Staying in slaughtering gear, I’m going to shove you into a “Dungeon of Vermin“. True to their name, Morbid Messiah do bring morbid ingredients into this song, but in the main it’s a blast of marauding mayhem, all pummeling drums, viciously grinding riffage, pounding chords, and horrifying roars. The grim and ghastly melodic riffing, the scorching screams, and the wailing solo that do eventually emerge give the music that morbid cast mentioned above. As the song generates those hopeless and horrifying feelings, the band simultaneously punish your neck with their grooves. And when the song races again, there’s a crazed solo that sends shivers down the spine.
I should add that the track is highly infectious, both fatally diseased and remarkably catchy. It’s from Morbid Messiah’s new EP Disgorged in the Coffin, to be released by Chaos Records on September 24th.
BOURN ULTRA (U.S.)
To close, I’m leading you on a turn of the path. We’re not completely leaving death metal behind, but L.A.’s Bourn Ultra bring other ingredients into the mix on their latest EP, including black metal and doom.
That EP, Skull Throne Inheritor, was released in late May but I only now discovered it. It made such a strong positive impression that I wanted to recommend it even though I usually spend these round-ups with eyes on the horizon rather than gazing in the rearview mirror.
Inspired by Lovecraftian themes, the EP is a frightening but intensely memorable combination of raging violence, tumultuous upheaval, absolutely harrowing (but intelligible) vocals of utmost savagery, and sweeping waves of melody that are grim and grand, heartless and heart-breaking. At times there’s a “pagan/folk” influence that emerges in the rhythms and the melodies, but there’s equally a feeling of towering, ominous grandeur.
The music has a powerhouse sound, like an immense avalanche or like enormous black ocean tides washing over you and pulling you under, to be carried away by riptides. At times, the degree of downfall in the song’s emotional resonance is desolate and crushing, but the sweeping magnificence of the melodies and the thrilling trill of the guitar leads are also capable of channeling intense yearning and the wrenching grief of shattered souls, to go along with the music’s ravishing ferocity and vast scale.
My personal favorite on the EP is probably “Towers of Fire“, though the incandescent leads that surface within “The Crouched One Rises” in the midst of extreme turbulence, have pulled me back to that song just as often. But all the songs are strikingly good, all of them indeed ravishing, all of them epic — with the sole exception of the instrumental closer “To Scale the Skull Throne“, which is more like a magical bobbing and whirling dance. I thought it a very cool and wizardly way to end the EP (and it’s catchy as hell).
Holy crab that dawn of solace single is good. The vocals seem to me a little far back in the soundstage compared to the Waves release, but otherwise it has everything I could have hoped for in a new track from the sad Finns.
Waves was pretty awesome, and the new single isn’t half bad as well – so I’m curious to see what Tuomas and friends come up on his.. 15th? 20th? 88th? full-length release!