Sometimes I begin these columns with well-known names (only if I think the music is good, of course), in an effort to lure visitors into the music of much less well-known bands. I thought about doing that today with new songs and videos by Dark Funeral and Watain, but decided to just move right into obscurity.
Having chosen new stuff by nine different bands, it was going to be hard enough to write very much about them even without also trying to comment about the new singles by those bigger names (if you haven’t heard those tracks, you’ll find them here and here).
When I heard the first single (“XI”) from this Lithuanian post-black metal band’s 2017 debut album, End of Chapter, I had a suspicion that we had something very special on our hands.
By the time we ourselves premiered the second one (“XII”), I had a firm conviction that this record would stand well out from the pack and become a highlight of the year. Finally being able to hear the full album provided confirmation. It was a powerful release from beginning to end, and was also home to a track (“VI”) that I included in our list of 2017’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.
And so it’s exciting news that the band will be releasing a new EP next month through Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions. The first single is also exciting.
“Negation II” storms and rails in unnerving fashion, with a mass of dissonant, roiling riffs and unhinged screaming that puts nerves on edge. Whether the drums are blistering or unpredictably careening, the layering of fleet-fingered guitars feels relentlessly rabid but they also contort in anguish. The bass gets a prominent role, and ugly growls join the mix as well. As I sometimes say, and certainly mean here, you’d best take deep breaths before throwing yourself into this one.
The new EP is entitled Mend. It consists of five songs with a total time of 25 1/2 minutes. It will be out on April 22nd.
TERZIJ DE HORDE (Netherlands)
It occurred to me that having gotten your blood racing with that first song, we should keep the race going.
On April 8th this formidable Dutch band will release their first new music in seven years, an EP with the intriguing title In One Of These, I Am Your Enemy. Two of the tracks are long ones, the title song at 11 1/2 minutes and “Precipice” at almost 14. Not surprisingly, it’s the considerably shorter opening track “Cheiron” that was chosen as the preview song.
Fire blazes on the EP’s cover, and “Cheiron” blazes too, and channels the same kind of mind-rupturing fear that would come from being caught in an out-of-control forest fire moving a hell of a lot faster than you can. The pacing of this track does slow, and the music then becomes more intriguing, but it’s still an unnerving experience. Great work by the rhythm section too, and the vocals are insane. The track ends so abruptly that it feels like it’s going to lead straight into the title track — which I can’t wait to hear.
Referring to the band’s last release, the 2015 debut album Self, the band explain:
Self offered different explorations of the shaping, colonizing, destruction and transcendence of the individual self. ‘In One of These, I Am Your Enemy’ explores how entire worlds are created and destroyed- how the powerful shape, dominate, and discard collective realities. Who wields the politics of death? Who decides what is considered human life? We see the clashing of realities, we walk the spaces between worlds, and find new possibilities and energies to feed resistance and revolution.
In One Of These, I Am Your Enemy will be released in LP and CD editions by Consouling Sounds and on cassette tape by Tartarus Records (links available through the Bandcamp page below).
This band’s 2020 split with Abyss (their second release overall) got me focused on them in a hurry, and now I’m happy to report that on March 11th they’ll release their debut album Zverstvá. I haven’t yet heard all of it, though I’m eager to do so, but the new single “Revúca” (which comes with a lyric video) is damned good.
A press release reports that “Revúca” means “wailing”, and that “the song speaks about climate issues of our wailing planet and its relation to humankind”. The soft ringing guitar tones that announce the song create a sharp contrast with the two songs at the outset of today’s collection, but the music’s energy grows steadily, eventually firing like a feverishly jittery pulse.
The guitars brightly ring and swirl again, but the ranging vocals are persistently harsh and harrowing. The song also benefits from a live-wire rhythm section. When the band reprise the soft opening melody, you may realize that it got stuck in your head the first time you heard it, and there’s a guitar solo as the jolting end approaches which is truly scintillating.
I’m also including a stream of the new album’s title track, which is also well worth your time
Now we come to the one-person French band Ouranos (the work of Silmar) and a song from their forthcoming second album Voir la Lumière.
The incorporation of synths and other experimental electronics into a backbone of black metal was an animating goal in the founding of Ouranos, and that comes through in the multi-faceted first single “L’écho“.
The synths give the music an atmosphere of ominous grandeur, to go along with bestial growls, wild screams, moody bass lines, and battering drums. Other synth accents, which swirl and ping, create an eerie and futuristic mood, and the surmounting sonic cascades begin to sound woeful and even wretched (though hypnotic). In the song’s mid-section, things get downright frightening, and then even more vast and desolate as the song moves forward from there.
Voir La Lumière is set for release by Sludgelord Records on April 1st
We haven’t heard from Kurhan in many a moon, with seven years having passed since the release of their debut album Głód (which we premiered and reviewed here). In one of many efforts to capture the sensation of the music on Głód, I wrote: “Listening to it is like being dropped into a war zone, with shrapnel flying fast and furious and bursts of adrenaline flooding the bloodstream from all the imminent peril.” But I also wrote:
In addition to being turbocharged and technically impressive, the riffs are catchy as hell — they rock and as well as rake, and there’s a feast of headbang food in this banquet…. And the band are also adept at churning out heavy-as-hell death metal grinding, like an industrial-strength concrete pulverizer, as well as jumped-up, punk-influenced romps and brutal chug-tests.
Thankfully, Kurhan are returning with a new album named Wieża that’s approaching an imminent release on March 15th. The first preview track is named “W ciemność“. It’s a hard-charging expression of fury and disgust that benefits from a big growling bass, warlike but dynamic drumming, and raging vocals as raw as fresh roadkill. The riffing moves like the pistons of a rushing freight train, blares in a fever, and cruelly grinds. The song will get you moving, and the hooks are damned catchy too, though the ferocity of the music is undeniable.
Kurhan will be releasing a lyric video for another track between now and the release date, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Now I’m turning to a new single named “весна” that ColdWorld released on March 4th with a dedication to the people of Ukraine.
Google Translate tells me that the song’s title is the Ukrainian word for spring. I don’t know the reason for that choice — maybe it represents a yearning for a peaceful past, or a hope for a brighter season ahead. Those qualities come through in the song, but it’s not a view of the situation through rose-colored glasses. The music is too sad and edged with abrasion for that. Even so, it becomes enthralling, like a dream haunted by pain.
Theriomorph is a solo project of P.E.Packain (aka Vainaya), best known for his solo work in the now-defunct Cornigr and as a key instrumental performer and songwriter in Adaestuo. What I’ve selected for the next installment in today’s collection is the second preview track from the upcoming debut album Diabolical Bloodswords.
“Nocturne, Under the Uninvited” is a frightening and frequently unearthly experience from the very start. The dense, high-toned whine of the riffing sounds like fractures in a sheet of ice propagating at high speed. The drumming is frequently maniacal (and persistently jaw-dropping). The vocals are the sounds of a man boiling in acid, and become even more unnerving when the channel-shifting starts. It’s the soundtrack to a wild hunt that elevates off the earth. Here again, I’ll advise you to take deep breaths before you start.
The album will be released by Terratur Possessions. I haven’t seen a definitive release date or a pre-order location. Thanks go to Miloš for alerting me to this release.
Criterion Void is the debut EP of a band whose precise location is unknown to me (they are reportedly from somewhere in the Cascades region of the U.S.). I don’t know anything about the band’s members either, though they are said to draw inspiration from Emperor, Wolves in the Throne Room, MGLA, and Hulder.
Bell-like and horn-like tones open “Insidious Eye“, and those horn-like blasts persist in striking fashion even after the song explodes in a cold fury. And make no mistake, this opening song is both slaughtering and as grim as a morgue. But the song also seems to dance, to wander with its head down, musing on things lost and never recovered, and to take flight.
The intensity and dynamism of that opening track (including the shattering intensity of the vocals) mark the other three as well. They’re also equally plagued by dark moods, by madness and hopelessness, occasionally switching into sounds that are frighteningly sinister and fiercely ecstatic. There’s even a feeling of haunting splendor leavened with calamitous downfall in “The Eternal Hiss“, and the synth opening of “Observance Pt. 1” is majestic and mesmerizing — before tumult and torment are given free rein again.
This is a very promising debut outing. I hope to learn more about who’s behind it, and I hope for more Veruta music to come as well.
Criterion Void was released on March 4th by Transylvanian Recordings.
ALL ARE TO RETURN (?)
Time to wrap this up. To do that I picked “Carceri“, the opening track from AATR II. That’s the second EP by a two-man formation who call themselves All Are To Return. I tried to figure out who these two are and where they’re located, but came up empty-handed.
This is the only release in today’s collection that isn’t brand new; it came out last November. I decided to give it a “taste test” because I was already over on the Tartarus Records Bandcamp page because of the new Terzij de Horde release featured above.
As noted, the taste I tested is “Carceri“, which was presented with a video. You need to be prepared for a caustic experience. There’s a slow industrial groove in the first segment of the song, surrounded by startling crashes, distorted screams, and clouds of sandpaper grit. Things slow to the point when it seems the song is fading away — and then the music jumps. The electronics and the scary vocal eruptions still viciously claw at your brain like a nightmare, but the megaton beats are arresting.
I’ll add these evocative words about the album, which appear on the Bandcamp page:
An exhausted multitude wasting away, beholden to mass-produced desire. Each screen a window without sky, nothing there but echo-chambers of anxiety. Watchtowers of mirrored glass. The opacity of power that permeates, produces and subjugates. All of us confined to the fragmented totality of arbitrary surveillance. No world beyond to which one might flee.
AATR II is tearing at walls and skin. Hear the ghosts of revolt stirring inside societal prisons. Haunted by the philosophies of power and control. No resignation.