Time is always fleeting, but I kidnapped enough of it to write some brief reviews and heart-felt recommendations for three very recent short releases that have captivated me (maybe especially because more often than not I’m angry and depressed these days). The SHADES OF BLACK reference in the post title is intended to provide the clue that this is all black metal, but no two of these releases sound alike.
One of the commenters on the Bandcamp page for Sørgelig‘s new EP Slaves of Tomorrow did a very nice job in capturing part of what makes the band, and this EP, so special:
“I love Sorgelig’s utterly ruthless and nihilistic, yet also surprisingly humane and hopeful, take on primal black metal. Yes, we all live ‘in the prison of dead dreams,’ but we *can* dream, we can rage, we can spit in the eyes of our masters and call *them* the slaves. We can burn this blighted hell of a failing so-called civilization to the ground and build something better”.
On the new EP Sørgelig‘s vision is still nihilistic and full of rage, but there’s more crust/punk flavors in these three new songs. The music is piercing in its power, ruthless in its ferocity, explosive in its passion (especially the off-the-hook vocals), and absolutely magnetic in the attraction of the riffing. You can listen to these songs once, and get those blazing and harrowing riffs immediately buried in your head like spikes.
But let’s get one thing clear: even if you’re as angry and despairing as Sørgelig profess to be, these songs sound like fight rather than surrender, like relentless defiance as well as searing pain, almost as if to say: “You can cripple me and the ones I love, but I won’t stop coming for your throat”. Hands-down, one of the most powerful EPs I’ve heard this year. It was released on October 5th by Repose Records.
These fabulous Finns return with a three-track offering. The first track will appear on their forthcoming third album but with Dutch vocals (and it was mixed and mastered especially for this release); the second one is an Ulver cover; and the third one is an ambient outro (albeit a sublime one). It’s intended as a send-off to the band’s drummer Myrrys, who left at the end of the recordings, but also as a kind of teaser for the next album.
The opener “At the Crack of Dawn” is a terrific, heart-racing song, both savage and soaring, both viscerally compelling and sweeping in the spellbinding ethereal mysteries that rise in brilliance above the furies.
Iku-Turso chose “Wolf and the Night” (the stunning closing track from Nattens Madrigal) as their Ulver cover, and it’s just as shattering in its bleak intensity as the original (the vocals are especially terrifying), though the keyboards in the cover make it even more mystical and majestically haunting — and there’s a wonderful transition between the song and this EP’s cinematic, high-above-the-earth, completely entrancing, closing track.
In four tracks and about eight minutes this New York band find the
sweet bitter spot between misery and mayhem, creating music that’s bruising in its emotional downfall but electrifying in the ferocity of its percussive and vocal attack.
The riffing is dense and dismal, ranging in its moods from suicidal hopelessness to deranged anguish. Those sensations tend to come in choking waves or to heave and slash, but the drumming is relentlessly light-speed. There’s also a mood of menacing grandeur channeled by “Writhe”, though the transfixing riffage near the end earns the song its name. As grim as the EP is, it’s also absolutely electrifying. And it’s a grower — listen more than once, and you’ll appreciate it even more.