SEEN AND HEARD ON A SATURDAY: MANTAR, WAKE, MERGER REMNANT, ARMED FOR APOCALYPSE, HOURS OF WORSHIP, TOADEATER, NON SERVIAM
A Friday night spent carousing followed by a lazy Saturday morning doesn’t make a good predicate for a Saturday music roundup. And yes, I was languid this morning, rather than hungover, after exercising rare restraint on the alcohol last night. But though functional today, I wasn’t feeling motivated. The cool, gray, damp weather outside may have had something to do with that. While the rest of the country seems to be an oven, I was luxuriating in a Pacific Northwest gift.
And then, and then, I still spent an hour and a half flitting through a list of new songs and videos I’d made in as the week went by. Finally, I made these picks.
Mantar have a new look, at least for the video you’re about to see, and new stylistic ingredients in the music too, but they haven’t forsaken their visceral intensity. It pours out through the vocals, which reach shattering zeniths (and also bring Kurt Cobain to mind at times), and through the angst-ridden but soaring riffs and keys, and the booming and battering drums. It’s also damned difficult to get out of the head once you’ve heard it.
Though their look is different, it’s still riveting to watch these two at work, as you’ll know if you’ve ever seen them on stage.
The song is the closing track on Mantar‘s new album Pain Is Forever and This Is the End, which will be out on July 15th via Metal Blade. Hanno has said this about the song: “‘Odysseus’ is about letting go, about a never-ending journey, about the feeling of never arriving, of being lost and doomed to live life in circles, and about the precious value of sleep.”
Wake‘s sound has changed too, but they too haven’t forsaken their intensity. This next song is crushing and sweeping, glittering and gouging, blistering in its blasting and blazing assaults, tormented in its vocal ravages and fretwork agonies, and overall creates a harrowing but electrifying experience.
“Infinite Inward” is from the album Thought Form Descent, which will be released by Metal Blade on July 22nd.
MERGER REMNANT (Sweden)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the lyrics to this next song, though of course he had no idea of the shattering and splendorous music that would surround them, or with what scalding intensity they would be uttered.
Merger Remnant have already proven their propensity to break through genre walls (as you’d know if you’d heard their 2021 debut EP Dregs (here), and they do it again here. The track is a spine-shaker and a bone-rumbler, provocative of reflexive muscle movement, yet it’s swathed in shimmering and gloriously shining melodies that swirl, soar, and flow above the big bass lines and gut-punching drums. The raw screamed vocals and savage roars are spine-tingling, and the music becomes unnerving too, though even then there’s something about the music that’s still wondrous.
This song, “The Light of Stars“, was included in a compilation that was released on tape by Urkraft Fanzine in their May 2022 issue, but it’s now available digitally.
ARMED FOR APOCALYPSE (U.S.)
When my friend Andy Synn reviewed this California band’s crushing 2018 EP Palm Reader, he praised their “brutal blend of sludge-soaked grooves, filthy Death Metal riffage, and crushing, ‘core-esque breakdowns, all topped off with an onslaught of raw, throat-rending vocals”, but also bemoaned the fact that their profile wasn’t as great as it should have been. He ended his review this way:
“Palm Reader is a practically flawless distillation of everything which makes Armed For Apocalypse great, and should (if there’s any justice in the world) introduce a whole new generation of listeners to the band’s distinctive brand of neck-wrecking, head-crushing, heaviness.”
Now (as Andy and many others hoped would happen), they have a new album on the way. Fittingly, its name is Ritual Violence, and it includes cover art by the great Adam Burke and guest appearances from Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) on the track “Foredoomed” and Trevor Phipps (Unearth) on “Suffer For A Living”. The first single, “Full Of Phlegm“, is what you’ll find next in today’s round-up.
Prepare to have your face de-fleshed by the berserk intensity of the flame-throwing vocals while the rest of the band loosen your bowels, beat you senseless, and roil your brain with crazed, seething riffage. But there’s a surprise in the middle of the song too… which I won’t spoil… before it becomes a towering, stomping monster of desolate but destructive sound (with vocals that somehow become even more terrifyingly intense).
Ritual Violence is set for an October 7 release by Candlelight Records.
HOURS OF WORSHIP (U.S./Portugal)
Now we have a dramatic change of course. The next song features spacious celestial synths and slowly undulating bass tones, semi-growled baritone intonations and steady booming beats, and sonic seas that eventually wash the music in sorrow. It all makes for a captivating juxtaposition of gleaming stellar splendor and soul-stirring despondency.
The song, “Your Lonely Death My Crown”, is from an album named The Cold That You Left, which Iron Bonehead will release on August 19th. The PR materials predict that “fans of Death in June, Type O Negative, early The Cure, Shape of Despair, and Lifelover will embrace Hours of Worship’s uniquely hopeless offering”.
I thought this next song would make for an excellent companion to that Hours of Worship track. In part that’s because its impact is so heart-breaking, and in part because the sorrowful, trilling guitar melodies soar. But it’s also very different in other ways. It races on the back of hurtling drums, the screamed vocals crackle, crack, and become strangled in their agonies, and the bass vibrates in a manic fever.
There’s so much torment and pain in the music, but its afflicted harmonies, which ring with brilliance above both heavy, throbbing bass lines and turbulent percussive cannonades, are somehow mesmerizing and magnificent, and the vocals change into choral tones, becoming reverent. Thus the music presents a grand, tragic pageant of tremendous emotional power.
“Molten Gold” is the last of four long songs on Toadeater‘s new album Bexadde, to be released by F.D.A. Records (CD/LP/Digital) on September 9th, 2022. The not-soon-forgotten cover artwork, “Beholding the complexity of death“, was created by Rafael Pascuale Zamora.
NON SERVIAM (France)
Seemed like it would be a good time to shake things up as a closer for today’s collection, and who better to turn to than the genre-bending maniacs in Non Serviam.
What you’re about to witness is a video for the song “O Whale” from the band’s new “mini-album” (so named despite the presence of 8 tracks and 43 minutes of music), We Are Nothing But Your Krill. The video is almost as mentally discombobulating as the song, which I’ve written about before, and therefore will quote myself (who else will?):
“The song is flagrantly assaulting but also bizarre. The vocals alone are an asylum filled to overflowing, with uber-distorted gutturals trading places with ghastly howls, terrorizing shrieks, ecstatic singing, and maybe a bit of mumbling. Around the voices, the drums hammer and cavort and the music blares, blazes, skitters, and spins around in mad dances.
“Bowel-loosening electro-beats come and go, along with bunker-busting detonations, mercurial fretwork frenzies, tonalities that strike like ice-picks to the ear drums, and other sonic ingredients too numerous and too invasive to count. You might want to set aside some time after listening to pick up your teeth from the floor and stop your head from spinning.”
We Are Nothing But Your Krill will be out on August 5th via Trepanation Recordings.
Has jumped shark Non Servíum…?