SEEN AND HEARD: MISERY INDEX, CLEARXCUT, AWAKENING SUN, NEMA, AKLASH
Drowning in new music and regrettably short on time to listen and write about it, I’ve decided to just grab five of the new things I’ve recently seen and heard to share with you today.
MISERY INDEX (U.S.)
I don’t know what came first in the creation of this new Misery Index song, the words or the music, or whether they were conceived together, but both are enraged. The politically charged lyrics begin this way:
Ancient ways ensnared in the monetary grip
Sons and daughters slaved by the wage and the whip
Our way of life crushed, as our lives drown in work
Is this what we’re to think, that a human life is worth?
Backing the words, which are voiced with scalding two-tone intensity, the drilling riffs are grim and the drumwork obliterating, but the guitars also maniacally dart, jolt, and become incendiary in their soaring heat, while the drumwork is (to no one’s surprise) relentlessly explosive.
This new song, presented with a video, is “The Eaters And The Eaten“. It’s taken from the band’s new album Complete Control, which will be out on May 13th via Century Media.
Staying in the vein of music with a vehement social and political message, the next song and video I’ve chosen is an anarchist environmental call to battle — but its opening stanza applies across an even broader range of outrages:
No more mercy shall be given
to those who turn this planet into hell.
No more tolerance for grim tyrants,
who choose profits over lives!
In its music, “The Sky Ablaze” is bleak and bruising, the words expelled in furious, shattering screams and the music discharging a heavyweight punch. The song’s hook-laden swirling guitar melodies are also a big attraction, both memorable and intense, and they leaven the music’s distraught moods with sounds of determined resistance.
The song is off this Vegan straight-edge collective’s new album Songs of Desire Armed, which will be out on April 20th. For those new to the band, it includes members of Implore, Heretoir, and King Apathy. Below I’ve also included a previously released album track, “A Song of Desire Armed”.
AWAKENING SUN (Lithuania)
Next up, with the third video in a row in this collection, is the latest single from a new album by the Lithuanian band Awakening Sun.
“Letting Go” thunders and sears, with bursting machine-gun grooves hard enough to fracture concrete and riffs that sound like boiling acid. But there’s a lot more going on in the song too, including soaring guitar and vocal melodies (the singing in the chorus becomes quickly addictive), doses of rapidly darting and shimmering fretwork, a fire-bright guitar solo, and shrieked vocals that are so unhinged they’ll put the hair up on the back of your neck.
This explosive new song comes from the upcoming album Heaven Is Whatever, which will be out on May 20th. Two more tracks from the album are also out there, and you’ll find them on the Bandcamp stream below
I was previously familiar with the first three bands in this round-up, but Nema is a new discovery. I count six bands on Metal-Archives (most of them split up) who have the same name, but I don’t think this Nema is any of those. I’m not even positive where they’re located, but I’m guessing Germany because that’s the location of the label (Liquid Sun Records) that’s releasing their album Animalia on April 20th.
The song that’s now up for streaming is the album opener, “Lahar“. You’ll likely recognize the famously bleak quotation that opens the track. The abrasive raking chords that come next are also bleak, and the convulsive drumming will give your skull a good battering. The serrated-edge gutturals are stunningly ugly and tormented, and the screams are just as eye-popping. But the guitars also glitter like glass and ring like chimes.
The song also includes an enthralling post-rock instrumental break. The vocals remain voracious, and the rhythms will still slug you, but the song lifts to sweeping heights.
Ukraine is on the minds of most of us every day, and the horrors that have befallen it and the courage of the people there are becoming an inspiration for new music as well. I’m closing today’s collection with a new single by the UK progressive black metal band Aklash that they released with a dedication “to the struggling peoples of Ukraine as victims of Putin’s illegal war”, and a vow to donate all proceeds to the British-Ukrainian Aid organization (here).
Entitled “Cossack“, the song twists and turns over nearly 8 minutes, and in doing so delivers potent drum rhythms, nimble bass lines, and a panoply of gripping riffs and leads that channel a range of emotions — beleaguered, wistful, anguished, desperate, and defiant. Slavic folk melodies play a role in the song, as do furious snarls and inflamed gang shouts. It’s an obviously impassioned song, and one that’s easy to get carried away by.