This morning I gazed with bleary eyes at the choices I’d made for this column: 1 new video; 8 individual advance tracks; 4 new albums; 3 new EPs; and 1 new split. I had discovered and listened to all of them just since this time last week. The idea of actually writing about all of them was of course absurd, and even more absurd because I slept much later than usual this morning. What to do?
Well, I cut the group of individual songs (and one video) down to 6, which is what you’re now about to experience. As for the albums and EPs, I’ll have to cut those down into something more manageable for Part 2 of today’s column, though at the moment I haven’t yet figured out how to do that. Stay tuned….
I’ve already said my piece about the tremendous new Krallice album Crystalline Exhaustion. Don’t let another day go by without listening to it if you haven’t already. Be sure to watch this next video too. It shows this uber-talented quartet live-recording the instrumental performances for the song “Archlights“. I found it astonishing. It’s as if we are witnessing a hive mind at work.
This is a thrilling song but it’s not a simple one, and to see the performers maneuver through its intricate twists and turns so tightly, with nary a misstep, is amazing. I would expect that most bands, if they could conceive of such a song, would track each instrument separately, making time for corrections, and then later assembling all the pieces. Well, I’m not a musician, and I also get mind-boggled watching live performances of complex material. Maybe doing something like this is easier than it looks, but I seriously doubt it.
My next recommendation is “In This Empty Space“, the first single from this Atlanta progressive black metal band’s debut album Ash in Realms of Stone Icons. I thought it made sense to put it in this position because Colin Marston of Krallice mastered the album, and also because I’ll take just about any excuse to embed the artwork of Mariusz Lewandowski on our pages.
The song goes full-throttle and delivers churning waves of dense riffage, thunderous bass lines, ecstatic fret-melting solos, and a tandem of bestial roars and wild screams. Every instrument seems on the bleeding edge of madness, and yet there are times when the music channels a kind of desperate grandeur (both frantic and sweeping in its sensations) as well as moods of cruel oppression. This extravaganza only allows time to breathe in one passage, which features a mesmerizing bass solo with a fretless tone.
The album will be released by Prosthetic Records on May 4th. By the way, we’re told that the band’s name means emptiness, vacuum, or void in Icelandic.
MORTE FRANCE (France)
The next song, “Agape“, is the first track revealed from Sola Fide, the debut EP of this mysterious French trio.
Booming drums, mutating bass phrasings, and momentous, blazing guitars seize attention in the opening moments, which become a prelude to a fiery attack made of riotous fretwork, raw howling vocals, and a rhythm section that’s constantly changing their patterns. When the band quell the riot, the music becomes mystical, but only briefly, and then the wild cavorting and careening resume in thrilling fashion.
Sola Fide is set for release on March 31 by the Ukrainian label Archaic Sound.
NIGHT BEHEADED (U.S.)
The label breath:sun:blood:bone: describes the music of Night Beheaded as “primitive, raw, and hallucinatory”. The first-revealed track from the band’s debut album Enter Earth is all of those things.
After a ghostly ambient start the drums move at a furious pace and the vocals erupt in berserk, nerve-ruining screams. The surrounding sound is a dense, overpowering wash of abrading chords and frantically quivering tones that are bright but chilling. The song fades away into unearthly ambience again at the end. The combined effect is exhilarating, disturbing, spooky, and yes, hallucinatory.
The words on the Bandcamp page for the album provide a much more extensive overview, including a description of Night Beheaded as an antifascist band and the lyrical content as deriving from “divinatory means using Baedan – A Queer Journal of Heresy and Against His-Story, Against Leviathan! by Freddy Perlman. It will be released on March 4th.
The Arcana Spear is the debut album of this San Diego black/death band, which is set for release by Blood Harvest Records on April 29, and last week we got a stream of the title track to pave the way.
It proceeds like an august, ancient march, but one in which demented wraiths from another dimension writhe around the procession. That turns out to be just an introduction to a barrage of blasting drums, maniacally roiling guitars, and vicious-goblin vocals. The drums occasionally shift to more measured and martial fills, but the guitars remain mad and mercurial. You also get some slashing and jolting grooves and crazed-flamethrower soloing in this high-octane escapade.
TOME OF THE UNREPLENISHED (Cyprus)
To close out this collection of advance tracks I give you the opening number from a new album by the Cypriot band Tome of the Unreplenished.
What “Tellurian” gives you is an immense moving wall of blazing and glittering guitars thrown forward by high-speed but dynamic drum-and-bass propulsion. The vocals vent cauterizing intensity, and the subtle melody in the sound is anguished.
A sudden change occurs, in which the rhythm becomes more stately (and jolting) and heroic voices rise. The music takes on an ancient guise, almost medieval in its caste. When the band surge again, the sound races along a line that’s glorious one side and beleaguered on the next, accented by a heartbreaking solo. The long instrumental jam of rocking drums and vibrant strummed chords at the end is splendid.
The album’s name is Earthbound, and it will be released by Avantgarde Music on April 8th.