As promised, this is Part 2 of the column I began here earlier today. It includes reviews and streams of two recently released albums, a track from a forthcoming debut full-length, and a very promising two-song demo.
SOL SISTERE (Chile)
In the summer of this year I premiered a song and video for this next album of atmospheric black metal (which is self-titled though it’s the band’s third full-length). Sometimes that’s the best I can do to help spread the word about a new release, but for this one I felt I should do something more.
At eight tracks and an hour of total music, Sol Sistere provides a lot to take in. More than merely the accumulated length, the music itself provides a wide-ranging experience. At their heights of intensity, the songs deliver jaw-dropping panoramas of sweeping, soaring, incendiary magnificence, with an emotional impact equal to the colossal sonic impact. The moods are often wrenching, manifesting anguish in shattering ways (the vocals alone are relentlessly shattering). Even when the breathtaking typhoons of sound soften, sorrow usually reigns.
Towering grandeur and far-seeing vastness are hallmarks of the music, as are swirling guitars whose brilliant glittering tones pierce the heart. But one shouldn’t (and indeed can’t) overlook the spectacular drumwork that went into these tracks, which works hand-in-glove with everything else to shift the intensity but also provides electrifying fills at almost every turn.
The music often has a dense wall-of-sound effect that completely consumes the mind, though it’s possible to hear all the many textures that go into it. And while aiming high and creating visionary sensations is a dominating inspiration, Sol Sistere do find ways to let listeners breathe, creating mystical and beautiful spaces, brief ethereal trances, but these too are dark in their moods, steeped in melancholy.
Unabashedly emotional, Sol Sistere succeeds in putting your heart in your throat, still pounding, but also proves to be sublimely haunting.
Credit for the record’s cover art goes to Misanthropic Art. It was released by Cult Of Parthenope on October 15th.
FERAL SEASON (U.S.)
I like this California band’s name. It captures much of the feeling of our current time, though I guess it really sums up all of human history, despite the advances of what passes for “civilization”. You get right down to it, humanity is always in a feral season that never seems to end.
The album title is evocative too — Rotting Body In The Range Of Light. The light is there — we can all see it — but the corpus of our existence still seems to be rotten in far too many ways.
Well, enough of my depressive philosophizing. Why I picked this album is of course because of the power of the music conjured by this California duo (Karl Cordtz and Patrick Hills). In so many transfixing ways, it rages, from the piercing sky-high ring of the molten riffs to the turbocharged pummeling of the drums, the magma-like bubbling of the bass, and the acidic hostility of the screaming vocals. Its intensity and scale spawns visions of forest fires out of control, scorching everything in their path, and in its moods the emotional timbre of the music is equally distressing.
Yet pulse-pounding devastation is not all the album offers. In carefully chosen passages, the sounds of ruination are quelled in favor of reflection and reverence, yielding to entrancing bell-like acoustic arpeggios and the mystical sheen of glimmering and whistling synths. Moreover, the ground seems to shake under the impact of massive booming rhythms, and the skin chills under the impact of dismal chords that rise in doomed fanfares and of jittery, dissonant fretwork that radiates dementia. Guitars wail like poltergeists in the ether, and the music becomes eerie and frightening in other ways as well. Folk acoustic picking channels grief and grace.
And there’s more… but hopefully this is enough to induce you to give the album your full attention, from start to finish. Especially as a debut release, it’s a stunner… perhaps only slightly less stunning when you realize that the band consists of members of Occlith and Chrch.
The album was released on October 22nd by Profound Lore.
DARKEST MIND (Belgium)
I included this next song because I thought it went well with the most extravagant elements of the preceding music by Sol Sistere and Feral Season.
“Evoked By the Moon” immediately sucks the wind from your lungs with the sheer incendiary intensity of the riffing, the lightspeed fury of the blast-beats, and the bestial savagery of the vocals. The song is magnificent in its towering scale, and electrifying in its ability to translate madness and chaos into sound.
But it’s a dynamic piece as well. When the tumult in the drums lessens, and the bass surfaces more prominently, the feeling of the blaring and crawling chords and the reptilian leads becomes more dire and desperate, more laden with misery. And near the end, the music seems to dance, creating a feeling of witchy enchantment. From start to finish, it’s completely captivating, and so multi-faceted that listening again is a very easy decision.
This song is taken from Darkest Mind‘s debut album Oracle of Death, which will be released on the 10th of December by Immortal Frost.
END ALL LIFE (Australia)
To conclude today’s column I’ve chosen the debut release of a completely unheralded band from Brisbane named End All Life. It consists of two songs, and I’ll give you a preview of them one by one.
Launched by a distorted guitar lament that becomes a central piece of the song, “Loss Eternal” swells into a dense, mind-broiling cascade of abrasive chords, wailing leads, and cauterizing shrieks in the far distance, propelled by drums that thunder and canter. There’s a sweeping, senses-consuming quality to these agonized, tormented sounds, and the melodies take root despite how emotionally dire and desolate they are. The work of the rhythm section gives the music a visceral, physical potency, and the feverish, channel-shifting solo is transfixing.
“Loss Eternal” is the kind of song that hits damned hard on multiple levels, like a tornado bred to a whirlpool, but even its vortextual intensity doesn’t conceal how elaborately textured it is in its portrayal of… loss eternal.
The title of the second song, “Warheads“, clues you in to what’s coming. It does sound like a warzone of heavy-caliber munitions discharging at a high rate of fire and frenzied combatants who’ve lost their minds in the throes of violence. The riffing boils and sears, generating great waves of derangement and pain. Slashing riffs and swaggering drums create episodes of dangerous tension, and soaring melodies seem to channel tortured helplessness.
Every bit as dense and elaborately textured as “Loss Eternal”, “Warheads” comes across as more catastrophic — but there’s brief singing in this one, and another extended guitar solo at the end that draws out the terrible grief in the music.
I don’t know anything about the people behind End All Life or what else they might have on their resumes, but this demo sounds far more advanced than anyone’s first step. I’m hoping for a lot more to come.
This debut demo is available on the streaming and download services listed below, but not Bandcamp. The cover art, which I really like, was made by Tristan Barnes (a tattooist, and the guitarist for Growth, whose 2020 debut album Andy Synn reviewed for us here).