Yesterday I went in search of musical beatings of various kinds. I’m not sure where that impulse came from, maybe the annoyance of being required to do something unpleasant for my fucking day job, or maybe just the surfacing of that constantly lurking desire among metal fans to become embroiled in intensity.
I had no theme in mind when I awoke today, facing the weekend with gummy eyes, and instead just wandered among new songs and videos, like a kid in the candy store aisles. Here’s what filled my hands:
PLAGUE YEARS (U.S.)
Yesterday this Detroit band dropped a surprise EP named All Will Suffer, along with a video for a song named “Suffer“. Lots of suffering in these words, but you won’t wallow in misery when you listen, though you may need to be hospitalized.
The song in the new video is a mid-paced bulldozer that jolts and bludgeons, but it eventually kicks into high-speed thrashing gear just before the vocalist starts bellowing and screaming in insanely raw, hair-raising tones. A dive-bombing solo and freakishly flickering fretwork amp the energy even more. The riffing often skitters in a feeding frenzy, but the band are very adept at beating you senseless too.
The other three songs are just as hellishly addictive, just as heavy-grooved and belligerent, just as likely to give you neck-sprain and fiendish, wild-eyed smiles. Give ’em a listen at Bandcamp, where you can pick up the EP in a variety of formats. Fantastic cover art too!
BLACK ALTAR (Poland)
Black Altar swagger and snarl on “Arcana of the Higher Principles“, giving listeners an opportunity to bob their heads to big bass beats and neck-popping drumwork, and they also provided a gilded acoustic guitar instrumental. But of course, they also light occult bonfires of rapid-fire blasting, high, whining riff-scorchers, crazed soloing, and imperious vocal hostility.
This is a new song that’s the title track to a forthcoming compilation, which also includes 13 tracks from Black Altar‘s splits with Kirkebrann, Beastcraft, and Varathron/Thornspawn. It’s set for release on July 11th by Odium Records and Zazen Sounds, with orders available that day.
SHROUD OF DESPONDENCY (U.S.)
We are told that Shroud of Despondency‘s new album, Air of Abrasion, “was written and tracked in late 2020 before Rory Heikkila underwent surgeries for carpal and cubital tunnel surgeries in both arms. The lyrics reflect the anxiety and tension that were manifesting throughout his every day life and dreams”. That’s a distressing preview, but what of the music?
The first sign is the next song I’ve chosen for today’s roundup, a harrowing, high-energy track called “From the Stomach“. There’s a feeling of unnerving madness in the speedy, mercurial riffing, the braying chords, the freakishly swirling and magically bright leads, and the scorching screams. The turbulent rhythms add to the song’s musical mayhem, and it’s so jam-packed with kaleidoscopic, multi-layered guitar variations and blistering fretwork that it will likely produce lots of dropped jaws and popped eyes.
(Thanks to my friend Miloš for pointing me to this one.)
This next hard-charging death metal monstrosity will get your motor running, thanks to all the fast-changing drumwork, the gut-churning bass lines, the needling and slashing riffage, and the gruesome vocal expulsions. The band also sink into a couple of tarry, moaning, doom-stricken slogs before cavorting, careening, and jackhammering again. It’s all capped by soloing that eerily squirms and squalls.
The song is “Cosmic Parasite“, and it’s the second single from an EP named Vomit Reborn by this New Jersey band that will be out on out on July 22nd. Lyrically, the song “follows the few remaining members of a native species desperately trying to outrun the mass extinction being brought on by a ruthless extraterrestrial attack on their home planet”.
Now for a sharp and stunning change. What I’ve chosen for the next place in this collection is the second track from this California band’s debut album Quiescent, just released by Transylvanian Recordings.
The level of punishment meted out by “Father” is stupefying. It stalks and staggers with towering, earth-shaking power, the drums capable of punching through walls and the immense corroded chords radiating corruption of the flesh. Throat-ruining screams pierce through the hulking juggernaut stomps, the guitar leads skitter and soar in manifestations of transfixing, mind-ruining anguish and cosmic mystery, and the bass moans like a wounded leviathan. It’s a long song, and so the tempos ebb and flow, but the channeling of calamity in various unnerving forms is relentless, and relentlessly stunning.
The album includes three more tracks of even greater length, which all together make up a family of names. If they’re anything like this one, I need to collect and piece together my senses again before running the gauntlet.
INTO THE VALLEY OF DEATH (U.S.)
Now that I’ve stumbled into doom territory, I decided to stay there with this next song.
It presents fat fuzz-bombed riffs and a harrowing, catacomb-striding voice with its own sandpaper tone (lung cancer might not be too far away). The music is primitive, and so thick and oozing that it’s like congealing tar — but peppered with thorns — yet its pulse-and-push is so strong that it would be a challenge to sit still. Be warned: it’s also highly addictive, in addition to being kind of horrifying.
The song is “Ghost“, and it’s off this L.A. band’s debut album Ruthless, which was released near the end of June by Doomsayer Records and which streams in full at Bandcamp.
I’m nearing the end, and at first wasn’t sure where to go after those last two tracks. Then it dawned on me that I couldn’t allow myself to finish without tossing your head into the musical blender of Homeskin‘s Life’s Wishes to Tears.
As I’ve done in other instances today, I’m just focusing on one track from an album you can become devoured by in full. It’s the album opener “Moist With Regret“, and I’m kind of flummoxed about how to introduce it. Maybe just staring at the cover art by Rio Oka is enough of an introduction.
It brings together big sludgy bass lines, skull-snapping snare pops that don’t go in straight lines, heavy doses of screaming vocal lunacy, blaring and convulsing guitar sensations, unexpected stops and starts, a soft noodling solo, cascades of boiling yet mesmerizing tremolo’d chords, and a lot more. The song scampers and pounds, spins around like a drug-infused dervish, will get your head moving, and will tie it up in knots too.
I haven’t yet made my way through the rest of the album, but have heard enough to conclude that the wildness of that opening trip isn’t an outlier. The record was released yesterday by the Berlin label ruego. Stunningly, it seems to be the work of only one person (Garry Brents, also a member of Cara Neir).
Last but not least, last week brought the announcement that the re-formed Dismember have signed with Nuclear Blast, and to help spread the news the label released a re-mastered edition of Like An Ever Flowing Stream for digital streaming. So, you know what to do.
P.S. To address the obvious question, I haven’t seen whether Dismember plan to write new songs.