In yesterday’s roundup of new music and videos I explained that I had pushed forward by one day a lot of choices I originally intended to spread around yesterday. I did that to make room for some even more-late-breaking stuff, But now, as promised, I’m circling back to those original picks — and of course I added a couple.
What lies ahead of you is in some instances off the usual beaten paths, especially in the first two tracks and the last two. The very last track represents the biggest divergence of them all, but might just be the most brilliant offering of everything here. And now that I’ve (hopefully) teased you into staying with me to the end, let’s begin….
I begin with two songs that I suppose could crudely be summed up as “folk metal”, but I don’t mean folk metal in the vein of this new song by Schandmaul. Both are much more interesting (though that Schandmaul song definitely is a toe-tapper).
The first of them, “Muerte y Libertad“, hit my radar because of a relatively new video for it, although the song itself first surfaced as part of this Mexican band’s latest album Revolución, which they digitally released last November (it will be getting a physical release this year via Sliptrick Records).
I blame my compadre Andy Synn for not telling me about Revolución when it was hot off the presses. He reviewed Aztlan‘s second album here two years ago, noting: “Legión mexica does exactly what you want any Folk/Metal album to do, it captures and captivates, it immerses and inspires, it grips you from the very beginning to the very end (despite its outlandish length), and delivers a spellbinding blend of style, substance, and soul that doesn’t sound quite like anyone else out there at the moment”. I would have thought we’d hear from him about Revolución too, but all’s well that ends well because this video did the job.
It becomes evident from the video that these skull-faced performers (who dress like figures from a “Day of the Dead” celebration) include a trio of percussionists, two guitarists (one of whom also seems to play the trumpet and contributes to the vocals), a bassist, and a lead vocalist. The Mexican Revolution occupies their attention, and their music sure as hell occupied mine.
The song in the video pinwheels off in many directions, melding mariachi music, an array of percussive pulses, sailing, searing, and needling guitar melodies, weird whistling electronics, frenzied soloing, and wild vocals, but it’s all knit together by the dancing acoustic melody that opens the track.
Next we turn to “Μνήμες“, a new single by the Greek black metal band Celtefog, which is the solo project of Archon, who is also the guitarist of the Greek band Empathy. On this song, he’s joined by guest musician Aftolycos, who performs the Pontian Lyra, an instrument you can see on the cover artwork for the single.
The song’s opening seems like a frightening yet entrancing hallucination, accented by impassioned vocal proclamations, the bowing of the Lyra (which comes in bursts, both frantic and sorrowful), and eventually the throb and rattle of bass and drums. The song’s intensity gradually grows until scarring shrieks send it into a fever. The music, produced in a way that gives it a lo-fi scratchiness, seems to whirl like a dervish, and it’s exhilarating yet disturbing.
My googling tells me that the song’s title is an ancient Greek word that means “memory” or “remembrance”. It’s the first single off Celtefog‘s upcoming album Δέλτα.
I put this next song here because it made me smile to think of the whiplash you’re going to get when you hear it right after the exotic first two songs in this collection.
It does sound like we’re going down a rabbit hole at first (a scary topsy-turvy world for sure), but then it becomes a high-voltage shock to the system thanks to the saw-toothed riffing, the explosive drumming, and the teeth-bared snarls and screams.
You can feel the bass beat in your bone marrow, and the jagged pulse of the riffing is both savagely abrasive and heart-pounding. The whole thing is a monstrous marauding menace — right up until things get very creepy again at the end.
“Rabbit Hole” is the opener on Trunk‘s Eternal Vacation EP, which has been out in the world since May 13th. Let the player run, and you’ll be in for a lot more thrills and chills, and so much brutally hard-slugging, pavement-cracking, physical power that you can imagine those pulverizing grooves transforming you into a splatter pattern of bone splinters and bloody goo by the end. The band call it “NIHILISTIC PARTY METAL”, and that does make a strange kind of sense.
NON SERVIAM (France)
It seems like only four days ago (because it actually was only four days ago) that I was crowing about the first two tracks that had been revealed from this unchained French band’s new EP We Are Nothing But Your Krill, and now there’s a third one, with the tongue-in-cheek name of “Kick Them to the Guitar“.
This latest reveal includes guest vocals by Richard Johnson and Jay Randall from Agoraphobic Nosebleed, with Johnson and Non Serviam collaborating on lyrics that tar and feather “peace-loving musicians” (“smash a pacifist to the teeth!“). The distorted vocals sound furiously and bestially insane, and the blistering drums and sandstorm riffing around them create an equally mutilating rage (though some back-beat drum grooves do make an appearance in the midst of the mutilating hyper-madness).
It’s one more example of how adamantly Non Serviam refuse to be tied down, even from one song to the next, which you’ll discover if you hop over to Bandcamp and listen to those other two tracks along with this one.
We Are Nothing But Your Krill will be out on August 5th via Trepanation Recordings.
I’m doing here what I did with Trunk‘s newest release, i.e., just picking one song to highlight, in the hope it will induce you to give the rest of a new release your full attention.
The song in question, “Shava Samskara“, quickly kicks hard in the midst of a thick miasma of dismal riffing. The sharp and slugging beats reverberate and the guitars become a churning and writhing vortex. Demonic vocals come for your throat, and the peal of sinister and anguished melodies ring out above grumbling bass lines and metronomic pops. The song also lurches and stomps, blares and contorts, and the combined effect is psychedelic and exotic, unbalancing and almost queasy at times, yet magnetic.
The song opens an album named Attain Salvation, which is the third full-length by Exterminas, and their first one in seven years. It was released on April 30th by TeufelsZeug Records.
NIGHT ATTACK (U.S.)
And for the third time so far, I’m picking out just one song from a new release, which in this case is The Initiation, the vampire-themed debut EP by the U.S. band Night Attack. The song I picked, “Ripped to Shreds“, is the one that launches the EP.
It’s well-named, because it has a viciously crazed demeanor. The riffing generates a wild pulsating sensation but also convulses in frenzied seizures and swarms like piranha on a fresh carcass. The drumming is riotous, the soloing maniacal, and the blackened vocals a lycanthropic terror.
The energy is explosive and unhinged, but the thing will get your legs jumping too, and there’s a fast-darting, devil-thrash riff lying in wait that’s a ticket straight to headbang city, plus doses of rapidly swirling fretwork that will give your head a ride in a spinning centrifuge.
The Initiation was released just yesterday by the Ukrainian label Metal Scrap Records. It comes recommended for fans of ’80s Thrash and Speed Metal, and early ’90s Death and Blackened Thrash Metal.
Okay, this makes a fourth time today when I’m focusing on just one track from a release that’s already out in full.
The band’s name is Swampworm, but “Kieloben” doesn’t sound swampy in the conventional sense of that word, as it’s often used in metal circles. You need to think less about thick, sludgy, humid music and more about all the things that furiously wriggle beneath the surface of a swamp, “where even water has a billion eyes” (to quote this band).
The song sets the hook hard by splicing together macabre roars and howls, adrenaline-fueled drumming, dense cyclonic riffing, and a buzzing guitar lead that sounds criminally insane. It’s a jolting and scathing attack, and even when the double-kicks rumble and the snare becomes more measured, the wail and scream of the lead guitar still puts the teeth on edge.
Eventually, things do get a bit more swampy. The guitar abrasion claws and crawls beneath air-burst drum detonations, though the screamed vocals remain savagely delirious, and those lead guitar emanations are still terrifying.
The track is one of four on an EP named Nahab, which was released on April 21st. If the song I picked doesn’t fracture your walls and give you psychotic nightmares all by itself, the EP as a whole definitely will. Mentally unbalanced music for mentally unbalanced people, though Swampworm doesn’t offer it for everyone: “I guess there’s no need to mention that fascist blockheads can go and fuck themselfs.”
P.S. The band has disclosed that the name of the EP, Nahab, is the “secret” name of Kezia Mason, the witch in Lovecraft‘s “Dreams in the Witch House”. The band claims inspiration from such artists as The Great Old Ones, Coffinworm, Churchburn, Nasum, and Krzysztof Penderecki.
The next song, “Tragic Heroin“, really took me by surprise — over and over again. Underpinned by sludgy bass lines and unpredictable drum maneuvers, it sounds at first like high-intensity post-metal, and the vocals like a lit-up poet passionately proclaiming his lines on an urban street corner with unnerved people flowing around him like a stream around an immovable stone.
Feelings of despair seep through the music, the vocals catch their own rhythm and then sing, the guitars ring and shine, jitter and dart. The song hits a compulsive rumbling and hammering groove as a violin dances in delight (or maybe agony). The drums start blasting, the vocals become even more wild… and the song abruptly stops, too soon. I discovered that I’d been holding my breath.
The video is also hell of a thing to watch. It was shot by Calum McMillan at the Audio Lounge, Glasgow, and at various locations around the city in 2021. The song comes from Ashenspire‘s second album Hostile Architecture, which will be out on July 18th via Code666/Aural Music. The performers on the album are numerous, and some you will likely recognize. They include:
Alasdair Dunn (voice, drums), Fraser Gordon (guitars, voice), Ben Brown (FALLOCH/BARSHASKETH, bass), James Johnson (violin, voice), Matthew Johnson (saxophone, voice), Scott McLean (FALLOCH, Rhodes, prepared piano), Rylan Gleave (ALL MEN UNTO ME, T/B voice), Amaya Lopez-Carramerro (MAUD THE MOTH, S/A voice), and Otrebor (BOTANIST, hammered dulcimer).
I’ll leave you with the band’s statement about the album:
HOSTILE ARCHITECTURE is a sonic exploration of the ways that subjects under late capitalism are constrained and set in motion via the various structures that uphold stratification and oppression in urban contexts. It is inspired by brutalist, postmodern and utilitarian architectural structures that are found throughout post-industrial cities, hauntological in nature, being designed to provide for the populace through affordable housing but ultimately cost-cutting exercises and unfit for purpose. The term hostile architecture refers to design elements in social spaces that deter the public from using the object for means unintended by the designer, e.g. anti-homeless spikes, which the album presents as emblematic of a foundational contempt for the poor and working class, an exemplification of a status quo fortified in concrete. The album invites the listener to explore the dissonance of these contradictions in their own circumstances and perhaps consider possibilities for a world beyond what Mark Fisher called “Capitalist Realism.”
Now for the biggest divergence from our usual beaten paths in this collection, and the song I said at the beginning might be the most brilliant thing in this entire roundup, though it has a lot of close competition. That song is “Riftweaver“.
The person behind Dioptase explains at Bandcamp: “I’m a clarinetist who likes smashing jazz together with metal and electronic music… But sometimes I leave it untouched. Bear witness to my weird creations!… or don’t, that’s cool too.”
I hasten to add that if instruments like the clarinet or the saxophone (which the person behind Dioptase also performs), or jazz in general, aren’t your usual cuppa tea, you should still listen to this. They’re not my usual cuppa tea either, but I was blown away by “Riftweaver“.
It’s a kind of slow build, with the darting clarinet establishing the song’s central motif above a bubbling bass, a thumping drum, and a cymbal shine. It seems simple enough, but things get more elaborate — much more, as a second clarinet joins in, along with the shimmer of strings.
The tempo, the instrumental patterns, and the moods shift constantly, eventually exploding in tumultuous percussion, wildly free-wheeling clarinet fireworks performed with tremendous virtuosity, and bursts of blazing synths. It’s absolutely exhilarating to hear this head-spinning spectacle — and then joyful to hear that opening melodic motif reappear and take off again.
“Riftweaver” is from an album named Bare Your Teeth, which was released in late April. I’m eager to see where else it goes.
P.S. My research informed me that “dioptase” is an uncommon intensely emerald-green to bluish-green copper cyclosilicate mineral. It’s very fragile, and so specimens must be handled with great care, but it’s prized among mineral collectors.