This was a hell of a week for new metal. All of the following bands released new songs and/or videos (or in Darkthrone’s case just a little Fenriz teaser) and you can check them out by clicking on the names, if you haven’t seen and heard them yet:
I thought all the items linked above ranged from decent to excellent, but I’m not writing about any of them today. I decided instead to focus on music from less well-known names. It was a hell of a week for promising new releases by more obscure groups too. Here’s just a small handful.
THUNDERING HOOVES (UK)
How can I not begin with new music from Thundering Hooves? Their debut album Vestiges, which I discovered thanks to Andy Synn‘s review, proved to be one of my favorite albums of last year, and the source of a track I put on our list of 2021’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.
It would have been too extravagant to hope for another album in the following year, but that’s what we’ll receive on October 7th. I assume Mr. Synn will review this one too, assuming he likes it, so I’ll just focus today on the two of the six songs that are now up for streaming.
The first of those, “A Howl from the Cloister” is (in the band’s words) “loosely based on the novel The Monk by Matthew George Lewis (1796), which chronicles a monk’s descent into vice and depravity after a life of rules and excessive discipline”. The second song out in the world is “The True Death“. We don’t have a description of the theme behind this one.
If it were possible to pithily summarize what made Vestiges such a blast (and it really isn’t easy), I’d say it was how adroitly the band interwove so many stylistic ingredients that don’t usually find themselves all wrapped together (including black, death, doom, thrash, and good old traditional heavy metal) and made highly infectious songs out of them. Based on these two songs, I’d say they’ve done it again.
“A Howl from the Cloister” is sinister and vicious, but it’s also a glorious infernal anthem, while “The True Death” is, if anything, even more menacing, like a shaggy, shambling beast that exhales unhealthy narcotic vapors — and eventually explodes in mad frenzies with dismal and anguishing consequences. Perhaps needless to say, you’ll get your groove on with both of them too.
The name of the new album is Radiance, and it’s coming out digitally and on CD and cassette tape via Mercenary Press.
HUMAN CORPSE ABUSE (U.S.)
Caligari Records introduces Xenoviscerum as “a 12-song album that both seamlessly and disgustingly merges the heaviest elements of goregrind, powerviolence, death metal, d-beat, and punk”. Sounds good right? And then it turns out the band consists of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Shelby Lermo (Vastum, Ulthar) and drummer Adam Jarvis (Pig Destroyer, Misery Index, Lock Up), aided by guest vocal appearances from Nails frontman Todd Jones. Say no more, I’m there!
What did I find? Well, “Convulsing Labyrinth of Flesh” is what I found, the album’s first advance track. Caligari‘s write-up about the album also includes words like “foul” and “reeking”, with references to “themes of horrific, mutated creatures, mind-altering occultism, and Cronenbergian body horror”, so it won’t shock you to learn that this song is indeed an ugly (but electrifying) beast.
It softens up your skull with HM-2 levels of distortion and a dose of clubbing drumwork and then convulses in a riot of roiling and ripping fretwork, unchained percussive mayhem, and ghastly, screeching and roaring vocals. The tempos and drum patterns change with abandon, but are persistently battering, and a feverish solo adds to the madness.
Xenoviscerum will be released in a multitude of formats on October 7th by Caligari (tape), Selfmadegod Records (CD-Europe & US), Obliteration Records (CD-Asia), and Dark Descent Records (digital).
The longest-standing stalwarts in the NCS staff don’t always agree on everything, but all of us are enthusiastic supporters of Antigama, and thus it didn’t take long for word to circulate that they’d released a new video last week.
That video (created by by the appropriately named Sick Studio) is a bizarre, fast-changing collage of dark and disturbing imagery. It’s a fitting match for “Disasters”, the disorienting track it accompanies. There’s some discernible but crazed riffing in the song, whose recurring mad pulse paradoxically gets stuck in the head. The attention-grabbing drumming shifts gears repeatedly, and there’s quite a bit of vocal variation too (all of it unhinged). But in the main, the song is a paroxysm of nightmarish delirium with no hope in sight.
“Disasters” is off Antigama‘s latest album Whiteout, which was released in June by Selfmadegod Records — and we reviewed it here.
MASTIC SCUM (Austria)
This Austrian band pumped out releases at a furious pace beginning in 1993, but it’s been nine years since their last album CTRL, with only the Defy EP breaking the silence five years ago. Yet Mastic Scum now have a new album on the way, and a new song that surfaced last Monday to help pave the path.
That song, “Digital Dementia“, is a hard-charger, and a bit of a throwback to an earlier age. Packed with rapid starts and stops, it’s mission is to give you a relentless jolting, firing bursts of viciously jittering riffage and militarized percussion, interspersed with filaments of dark and demented melody, some slithery and slippery soloing, a few megaton detonations, and doses of ravenous roaring.
The name of the new album is Icon, and it’s set for release on October 7th by MDD Records.
VESSEL OF INIQUITY (UK)
What happens when an arsenal of audio annihilation such as Vessel of Iniquity adds an 8-string guitar to the weaponry? We have our terrorizing answer in a new EP named The Path Unseen.
I can’t out-do the bombastic eloquence of the words that accompany the new EP on Sentient Ruin‘s Bandcamp page for the release, but of course that won’t stop me from offering some impressions of the EP’s first advance track, “Blood Magic“. Let’s do it this way:
Imagine yourselves reaching the end of a wormhole, only to suddenly find yourselves in a nova of destruction that’s violently reducing everything there to atomic particles scattering at ruinous velocities. Is the screaming you hear in the midst of the cataclysm the sound of tortured victims as their minds disintegrate, or is it you that’s screaming?
You might think the maelstrom has spent itself at one point, but no, it resumes, and now the sheer agony of the ravaged souls become tangibly manifest, along with the kind of pile-driving obliteration which ensures that no remnants of civilization will be left.
Sometimes you just have to applaud a project that’s as single-mindedly devoted to the dissolution of reality (and sanity) as this one. Sentient Ruin will release The Path Unseen on October 7th.
I thought about toning things down here at the end of this round-up, and I guess I have –but only by comparison to all the riots that have preceded it. But I assure you, I’m only speaking relatively, because this last song is itself a ravisher.
The name of the song is “Док горим” (“Dok gorim“), which seems to mean “While I’m Burning”, if Google Translate is to believed — and the fires in the accompanying lyric video tend to reinforce the accuracy of the translation. A translation of the lyrics reveal them to be the last cry of someone about to be burned alive, scorning his destructors and welcoming what comes next.
The music packs a visceral punch, thanks to dense, grim, yet raging riffs and blistering drum blasts, but it also defiantly swaggers and slugs, and the fluid guitar leads have a charismatic appeal. There’s also a sublime acoustic interlude that sounds beautifully wistful. That acts as a prelude to a powerfully head-moving sequence that sounds even more defiant and gloriously warlike, backed by vicious snarls and cries, but with doleful guitar melodies in the mix — and an ending that reprises the nostalgic beauty of the interlude.
“Dok gorim” is the second track from a forthcoming debut album by the Serbian pagan black metal band Шакал (Šakal), which seems to mean Jackal. It’s recommended for fans of old Enslaved, Darkthrone, Immortal, Saor, and Primordial. For more info, keep an eye on the locations linked below.