Sep 052022

In our never-ending mission to drown people in heavy music we have another roundup to start the new week. We’re doing this even though today is a national holiday here in the U.S., and the culmination of a 3-day holiday weekend. Canada also celebrates the same holiday today, the first Monday in September. Much of the rest of the world observes a similar celebration, but does it on May 1st.

The holiday is generically in honor of “workers”, but really began as a celebration of the labor movement (or “labour”, as they spell it in Canada). “Union” has become something of a dirty word in the U.S. over the last 40 years (in that time the percentage of American workers who belong to a union has fallen by half), though labor organization seems to be experiencing at least a modest resurgence in places like Starbucks shops, Amazon warehouses, and Google’s cafeterias. More power to them.

The holiday has really become just another excuse to have a 3-day weekend of sleeping, eating, drinking, and hanging out with friends. Here in the U.S., tradition also has it that you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, since it unofficially marks the end of summer. But you probably don’t wash your underwear very often anyway, so you’re good. And who wears white band shirts, I mean other than Andy Synn?

Where was I?

Oh yeah… drowning visitors in heavy music. That mission goes on, ’cause we don’t observe holidays at this clinically obsessive place (as if you couldn’t tell from the three posts that preceded this one today).



Last week this Chicago-based deathcore band put out a video for a song from their Blackening Skies EP, which was released just a few weeks ago. Now, I must admit that my interest in deathcore has waned considerably as the years have rolled on, but “Vile Soul” hit me the right way. Maybe it’s because it made me think my house was being pounded by gargantuan pile-drivers… during an avalanche… while being carved by room-sized circle saws….

Or maybe it’s because the song isn’t just about ruthless thuggery and brute-force destruction accompanied by howling madness behind the mic. It flares into bursts of blazing imperiousness, jumps about in a kind of bruising exuberance, and blares in brazen (and squealing) feverishness — until you get close to the end, when all the tumult suddenly vanishes, replaced by glimmering and glittering notes that then fade away into the ether.

In other words, it struck me that there’s something almost playful going on in the midst of all the brutality. Not surprisingly, then, the song is set to footage of a stage show where the audience members are gleefully romping around and the band seem to be having fun trying to bring the venue down around their heads.

Having become enticed, I made my way through the whole EP, and it got its hooks in my head too. The songs qualify as individual songs with their own catchy hooks, and are sufficiently different that the EP makes for an exhilarating trip.

To be sure, the music will mercilessly jackhammer the shit out of you, and the vocalist is capable of blistering the flesh from your face and eating the meat beneath it, but the melodies have character — sometimes exultant and sometimes immersed in agony or tunneling into alien dimensions — and the changes and accent moments within the tracks will keep you own your toes.

In other words, I had fun! And hope you will too.

The music sounds powerful but even and clear, and credit for that goes to Pete Grossman at Bricktop Recording, who engineered, mixed, and mastered it. Mark Erskine at Erskine Designs gets credit for the frightening cover art.



HUSSAR (Canada)

Next I’d like to touch upon yet another advance track from yet another album coming our way from one of my favorite labels, I, Voidhanger Records. This one is the first single off the first studio full-length by the Toronto death-dealers in Hussar.

All-Consuming Hunger” is the album’s title track, and it proves to me that Hussar have a talent for interesting instrumental interplay and switching things up in ways that one might be tempted to call “progressive”, but pull no punches when it comes to mauling and mangling the listener.

When they cause the music to wail and whine in unsettling fashion, they back that with electrifying rhythm-section work. When they convulse in high-speed manias, they kick the adrenaline into high gear while simultaneously creating moods of asylum-quality insanity and riotous insectile frenzy. They also drop some megaton bombs.

There’s a lot of very impressive technical execution going on (along with monstrous vocals, which include a guest appearance by Phil Tougas), but also the kind of songwriting that turns a bevy of brazen, bizarre, and unsettling motifs into insidious ear-worms. At almost 9 minutes in length, it’s one hell of a mind-boggling roller-coaster ride

All-Consuming Hunger is set for release on September 30th. The spectacular cover art was made by the great Luciana Nedelea.



FIRTAN (Germany)

Who knows? Maybe I’ll have time to do a post-holiday roundup tomorrow, but for now I have to close up shop before too much of this Labor Day gets away from me. And to close I picked another long song that provides a non-stop thrill-ride, with some wonderful twists and turns. “Labsal” is the newest single from this German eclectic black metal band’s third album, Marter.

Blazing chaos reigns at the outset, but even there, flickering guitar arpeggios catch hold while the vocalist screams, the drums pummel, the bass rapidly undulates, and the riffing comes in roiling waves. The sound of the conjoined, high-low guitars seems to straddle a line between delirious ecstasy and splintering sanity.

There are some big heavy metal power chords in the works too, along with bursts of screeching fretwork and rapidly morphing drum-and-bass patterns — plus a sharply contrasting and seductive interlude made of sparkling acoustic guitars, moodily humming bass notes, bird-like flickering tones, and a soulful but proggy electric guitar solo.

Marter will be released on September 30th by AOP Records. The fantastic cover art is a painting by Władysław Podkowiński.

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