SEEN AND HEARD: KILLING JOKE, VANUM, MIDNIGHT, KONVENT, INCANDESCENCE, HELPLESS
The new music keeps coming in a flood. So what else is new? Well, these six songs and videos are new, and I’d like to recommend them. With a bit of luck I’ll have time to recommend more tomorrow.
KILLING JOKE (UK)
Lord of Chaos is a new Killing Joke EP. Recorded by the original line-up, it’s their first new music in seven years. It includes two brand new recordings, plus two re-workings of songs from the band’s last studio album, 2015’s Pylon. The new songs are described as tracks that “set the tone for the band’s next studio album, currently being worked on in Prague”. The re-worked older songs are titled “Big Buzz” (Motorcade Mix) and “Delete In Dub” (Youth’s Disco 45 Dystopian Dub).
Killing Joke are one of my favorite bands ever, and I’m sure tens of thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) would say the same. So the new EP is welcome here, to say the least. The noise from the dangerous loris compound near the NCS HQ suggests they’re fiendishly happy too, unless they’ve figured out how to pick the locks..
What you’ll find below is the EP’s title track (one of the new songs), which comes with a video. The fervor of my fandom is such that Killing Joke could be banging trashcan tops together and I’d probably applaud. But they’re doing something much better than that here, bringing us a bone-rumbling, body-moving, head-hooking experience, but one whose guitars vent searing intensity. As ever, Jaz Coleman‘s voice is one of a kind, and makes the song haunting as well as grim.
Lord of Chaos will be released by Spinefarm on March 25th.
We haven’t had to wait seven years for new music from Vanum, only three, but their return with a new album is no less eagerly awaited. Their forthcoming third full-length is named Legend, and the just-released first single is “Adversary“.
Vanum bring lots of sensations forward in the song. Beginning with a forlorn and folkloric riff, they carry that evocative melody to heroic heights with the aid of synths (the lead guitar persistently reminds me of a bagpipe) and haughty, harsh vocals. The song becomes ferocious, but its air of sadness and suffering never goes away even as it becomes warlike, and its transfixing melodies continue to seem rooted in ancient times. Easy to get caught up and carried away by this one.
Legend will be released by Profound Lore and Eisenwald on April 22nd. The original painting on the cover was made by Petri Ala-Maunu.
This week also brought us another advance track from Midnight‘s new album Let There Be Witchery (due on March 4th via Metal Blade). This one is named “Nocturnal Molestation“. Despite its name, this track is a piece of glorious anthemic hard rock and classic heavy metal that reaches back many decades, propelled even higher by sky-high soloing and the transition from nasty snarls to falsetto screams.
I think it’s fair to say that Konvent‘s 2020 debut album Puritan Masochism put them on a meteoric trajectory — if meteors rocketed upward instead of down. I sure as hell liked that album, as did Andy Synn (who reviewed it) and Comrade Aleks (who interviewed their bassist).
In the aftermath of that debut’s success, these four ladies have come roaring back back with another album, this one named Call Down the Sun. The first advance track was “Grains“, and this week delivered a second one, “Pipe Dreams“. I’ve included streams of both of them. The newest of these, which also comes with a terrific video, is a big bone-smashing bruiser that will put listeners into a full-body heave. The vocals are tremendous, and the music is as contagious as it is black-hearted and menacing.
And here’s yet another band, like the four above, whose previous music has made them a personal favorite. For those who might not know, they’re a black metal duo from Quebec compirising multi-instrumentalist Philippe Boucher (Beyond Creation, Chthe’ilist) and vocalist Louis-Paul Gauvreau. Their fourth full-length, Le Coeur de L’Homme, is now set for release on April 15th by Profound Lore, accompanied by stunning cover art created by Adam Burke.
The first advance track, “Tréfonds Macabres“, connected in my head with that Vanum song up above — the lead guitar again reminds me of a bagpipe at times, and the song also has an epic (and tragic) quality that seems linked to by-gone ages. Apart from that, it’s absolutely electrifying, from the scalding, heart-wrenching screams to the full-bore explosiveness of the drumming and the incendiary blaze of the riffage.
The song does eventually become less of an onslaught, but then it only deepens the feeling of despair, and when it slows and softens even more dramatically at the end it becomes spellbinding in its sorrow.
To close today’s round-up I’m turning for the sixth time in a row to a band whose previous music has already made me an ardent fan. This time it’s Helpless, whose 2017 debut album Debt made a big positive impression. I see that since then the line-up has changed, with original vocalist/guitarist Dan Couch now joined by Simon Walker on bass and vocals and by Sam Trenchard on drums and vocals. Their new album is named Caged In Gold. It’s accompanied by Chris Nicholls’ fascinating painted artwork.
A press release says that on the new record Helpless “lay down a gauntlet of ill-natured grind and vitriolic blackened riffs alongside cacophonously inharmonic rhythms”. The album’s recently released second single “The Empty Gesture” fulfills that promise and presents a sharp contrast to the song that precedes it in today’s collection.
While the track is technically very impressive, it delivers a high-octane beating while simultaneously using dissonant and discordant fretwork, hair-on-fire screaming, and off-the-hook drumwork to contort the listener’s brain into twisted new shapes. The surgical precision of the performances is unmistakable, but it all still sounds profoundly berserk and frequently unnerving, like rocketing fireworks being blown in unpredictable directions by a hurricane (one that’s maniacally tossing you about at the same time). As we say in the trade, take deep breaths and grab hold of something stable before you press play.
Caged In Gold will be released by Church Road Records on March 25th.