I hope you saw Part I of this column yesterday, because in my humble opinion it includes a lot of great charred music. The same is true of this second Part, even though it doesn’t involve quite as many musical twists and turns as the first one.
PURE WRATH (Indonesia)
This Indonesian black metal project has been a favorite of mine since discovering the first advance track from its debut album Ascetic Eventide back in 2016. Since then the band has moved from a local label (Hitam Kelam Records) to Pest Productions (for the second album) and then to Debemur Morti Productions, which released the 2020 EP The Forlorn Soldier and will soon release the band’s third album Hymn to the Woeful Hearts (which includes drumming by ex-White Ward drummer Yurii Kononov).
The second single from the new album, “Presages From A Restless Soul“, came out last week. I’d like to share the inspiration for the song as described by the band’s mastermind Januaryo Hardy:
I remember the day I had met and talked to an old lady selling handmade bags in the middle of the busiest city in my country. Very skeptical thoughts and doomed opinions came out of her tired lips, since she spent the whole day calling people to check her bags. It turned out she witnessed her husband being kidnapped during the dark time I am generally talking about on this album. He never came back. She told me that this truth will remain hidden and will never be told to the newer generations, since she seemingly had lived her life as ‘a wife of the country’s enemy’, even though this had not been true. There is no justice to be found anymore. She just stopped being optimistic ever since. It really breaks my heart… I decided to tell this story in this song to make sure that I am doing the right thing by spreading knowledge about these events to my generation.
This is a bleak story, one that inspires anger as well as heartbreak, and one that in Ryo‘s understanding compels remembrance. In his emotionally powerful song, the music rages and equally becomes an experience of tormented grandeur. The fiery swirling leads are penetrating and immediately memorable; the vocals are scalding in their intensity; the hurtling drumwork and vibrant basslines have contagious power. The song soars, revealing a piercing sheen of sound, and the ensuing solo is captivating.
The album as a whole also has an explanation from Januaryo Hardy: “The record serves as a dedication to a mother and survivor of the 1965 Indonesian genocide whose son was kidnapped, tortured and brutally beheaded. For more than fifty years she had to pretend everything was normal through every second of her sorrow, living under the shadow of the still-powerful perpetrators”.
DMP will release Hymn to the Woeful Hearts on February 18th.
IN APHELION (Sweden/Netherlands)
The next song I’ve chosen, “World Serpent (Devourer of Dreams)“, is the second track to be revealed (via an Invisible Oranges premiere) from the debut album by this international group, composed of current and former members of Necrophobic and Nifelheim.
Following an organ intro tinged with gothic horror, the music explodes with Vesuvius-like intensity, almost immediately reveals a magnetic lead-guitar motif, and then surges in a savage thrashing race. There’s a feeling of wild ecstasy in the guitar work and the lightning-fast drumming, but sensations of unbridled ferocity in the vocals. One gripping riff follows another, one gripping solo tops the one before, as if the band had a treasure chest full of them. Such a riotous carnival of sound, one that kicks adrenaline levels high and keeps them there.
The new album, Moribund, is set for release on March 11th via Edged Circle Productions.
HELL MILITIA (France)
A decade after their last album (Jacob’s Ladder) this French band have finally returned with a new full-length. Entitled Hollow Void, it will be released on March 18th by Season of Mist Underground Activists. The first advance track, “Dust of Time” is described as a diary of everything that happened over that last decade.
That would be a tough thing to accomplish in a single song, but the music does incorporate differing moods and experiences. Ominous and sinister at first, with a big head-pounding, head-moving beat and searing guitars leading the way, the song builds tension and then breaks out in a turbulent spasm of fury. The drums blast, the guitars roil and writhe, the vocals become even more rabid in their howling and screaming intensity. It’s as if insanity has broken its chains and become mayhem, yet an aura of bleakness, and perhaps hopelessness, comes through too.
All the music up to now has been intense, and there’s no reason to stop as we turn next to an advance track off of From Beyond The Burial Mound, which is the debut album of this band from the Basque country of Spain.
There is no drift in “Harbor of Drifting Souls“. Instead, the drums gallop and hammer, the grime-coated riffing surges and cuts like massed circle-saws, and the barbaric growls come for your throat. The swirling and darting guitar solos are riveting (and paranormal in their sound). Oh yes, it’s a damned infectious track too. More death metal than black metal, but I couldn’t resist including it here because it seemed to fit so well.
From Beyond The Burial Mound will be released by Soulseller Records on February 25th.
OLDE THRONE (New Zealand)
an Gorta Mór is the debut album of a one-man project from Christchurch, New Zealand, who intends to operate from Sweden in the near future. The album is described as “a tribute to the tragedy of the great famine in Ireland from 1845 to 1852”, during which “more than 1 million people died from starvation and disease”.
The title song is divided into two parts, one of which begins the album and the other of which ends it. “an Gorta Mór (Part I)” is the first track to be revealed — and it won’t lower your heart-rate. The tumultuous gallop of the drum ensure that your pulse-rate stays high, and the roiling mass of riffage, pierced by gripping leads, coupled with unhinged vocals, provides extra insurance.
Bearing in mind the conceptual theme of the album, the music does sound terribly anguished, to the point of depicting minds shattered by pain and hopelessness. The experience is emotionally ruinous — and enraged — and very hard to get out of your head after you hear it.
The album will be released by Naturmacht Productions on February 11.
“Formed in 2020, Heltekvad is a three-piece featuring members of some of Denmark’s finest recent acts such as Afsky, Solbrud, Sunken, and Morild“. After reading that in a press release, I didn’t need to know any more to check out the first track released from Heltekvad‘s debut album Morgenrødens Helvedesherre. But I did also see the music characterized as “medieval black metal”, and that did add to the attraction.
That first song, “Ærbødig er den som sejrer“, opens with a kind of medieval fanfare, blending what sounds like horns and flute. With a wild skirl of guitar, the music begins to canter and cavort. The screamed and yelled vocals are maniacal, and there’s a feeling of crazed joy in the bubbling bass and wild flickering and spinning guitars. It seems like a mad, invigorating dance until the drumming steadies, and then melancholy rises, though the vocals remain absolutely eye-popping in their derangement from beginning to end.
The album will be released by Eisenwald on March 25th.
To close this massive two-part collection of blackened sounds I’ve picked a just-released demo named Noxignis by the Chilean one-person band Funestus, whom I’ve written about before. This new two-track release is described by the band as “a small glimpse of things to come”.
As you will soon learn, I decided not to provide no reprieve in the intensity of the music in this collection, but if anything to turn up the heat. “The Ancient Flame I” is indeed incendiary, discharging a gale-force bonfire of raw riffage, blasting drums, and wild screams and echoing yells. The wall of abrading guitars might seem like they’ll drown everything else, but the superheated flicker of the lead guitar comes through, along with the turbulence of the bass and what sounds like a massed choir of deep voices howling wordlessly from a crypt. Even when the drum rhythms change (and they do change repeatedly), the impact of everything else remains overpowering – it’s enough to suck the wind from your lungs.
Take a breath while you can at the end, because “The Ancient Flame II” will throw you into another dense and all-consuming maelstrom. There’s still a lot of rhythmic dynamism on display, but the music is more harrowing than the first track, generating an atmosphere of searing, mind-ruining fear and anguish, which becomes even more penetrating and deleterious when the pacing slows.