SHADES OF BLACK: ARKÆON, HARVEST GULGATHA, INCANTVM, ÚZKOST, DØDSENGEL, WOLOK, DEVISER, ENDLESS LOSS
I was able to devote a lot of time to listening to new music this weekend, despite feeling borderline-miserable. One result was a big round-up of new music yesterday. Another result is this over-stuffed column of blackened sounds – advance songs from seven forthcoming albums, some with videos, and one very recent EP.
Over the last six months or so, I, Voidhanger Records has been announcing new releases in batches. I’ve done my best to call attention to most of them as time has allowed, because (as usual for this label) they are so unconventional and interesting. From the latest batch I’ve picked music from two albums for this column, and the first of those is Parasit, the debut full-length from a veteran Danish trio who call themselves Arkæon.
The band present the themes of the album this way: “Humanity is parasitical to life, as life is parasitical to humanity”. And the lyrics are described as clarifying this concept, “spewing hateful damnation and accursing the absurdity and vulgarism inherent to the parasitic relationship of modern humanity with the autochthonous forces of organic life”.
Two songs from the album have emerged so far. The first one, “Smertens Vilje“, is a high-speed head-wrecker. It’s hard not to move to the snap of the snare, and hard not to feel like parasites are indeed furiously feeding on your brain — and it gets even more dissonant and deliriously demented and unpredictable as it goes. The vocals are berserk, the bass is wonderful, and there’s agony in the music as well as crazed exaltation. We should probably be thankful that one unpredictable change leads the song into softer (but no less strange) territory, though the interlude doesn’t last long.
The second song is the album’s title track, and it appeared with a riveting video. Suffice to say that this song is a madhouse on fire too, and in all its kaleidoscopic twists, turns, and inventive juxtapositions it’s fascinating as well as discombobulating. I don’t know how you rehearse something as intricate and unhinged as this, much less how everyone remembers what the hell they’re supposed to be doing.
Parasit will be released on November 18th.
HARVEST GULGATHA (U.S.)
Ancient Woods is the name of Harvest Gulgaltha‘s new album, which follows 2017’s Altars of Devotion, and “Wheel of the Spirit Essence” is the first advance track.
The riffing here maniacally roils and slithers, and it’s also monstrously heavy. It creates sickening sensations over molten bass work and calamitously booming drums, accompanied by imperious growls. Near-crystalline tones that seem both delirious and unearthly somehow pierce through the destructive black/death calamity, like a counterpoint to the miasma of illness and the ruinous turbulence that surround them.
Actually, the whole thing sounds horrifyingly unearthly. Gruesome yet gripping stuff….
Ancient Woods will be released on November 11th by Godz Ov War Productions.
Here’s the other I, Voidhanger release I mentioned at the outset. I became very excited when I saw that Incantvm is the new project of clarinetist Vittorio Sabelli, a former member of Dawn Of A Dark Age and Notturno. In this new venture’s debut record Strigae he plays not only clarinet but also guitars, bass clarinet, sax, and piano. But he also brought along with him a crowd of additional performers, including vocalists Tenebra (Dreariness) and Nequam (The Magik Way).
The drums are played by Aeternus of Handful of Hate, the bass is by Rubrum, while Sparda and none other than Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ) alternate with the choirs. And four other guests contribute performances on violin, double bass, trumpet, and marimba.
The first advance track “Il Cerchio e il Fuoco” is a long and ever-changing one, richly embroidered by changing instrumentation. At first there’s bleak grandeur to be found, as well as sounds of terrifying despair (the vocals alone are terrifying), and then sedate piano chords, wandering woodwinds, and rough spoken words create a strange and seductive spell, as if we’ve been moved into a dark, smoky cabaret.
More and more changes are still to come, as if we’re witnessing a theatrical portrayal, using a wide variety of musical genre-styles to create an eerie but exhilarating infernal pageant. But you’ll see….
Strigae will be released on November 18th.
Beginning in 2018 we devoted a significant amount of favorable attention to the Pittsburgh band Slaves BC, but they have changed in more ways than one. Their name is now Úzkost, and their music has evolved “from what was once chaotic hardcore into a horrific and disorienting conglomeration of black metal, death metal, doom metal, and harsh noise”. The first manifestation of that journey of change was a 2020 single named “Blood Debt“, and on September 30th of this year they followed that with another single named “Mt’hr“.
The daunting lyrics of the song are told by a believer in God who found the world sinful, filthy, and disgusting but prided himself on having “lived by Your Book to the letter” — and thus became confused (and probably horrified) to find himself turned away from his hoped-for home at the end of life.
The music ruthlessly pounds and scars the senses, creating a disturbing and disorienting introduction, and then the song explodes in a great storm of momentous blaring chords and unhinged screams and roars. The crack of the snare keeps things on course, but there’s a palpable sense in the music of reality coming apart at the seems. The lead guitar roils and screams in madness and agony, the bass thunders like an earthquake, the drummer convulses in destructive fusillades, and the vocals reach even greater heights of shattering intensity.
For something so ruinous, the song also has a way of locking itself inside your head
Úzkost have announced that another single named “Arise: Assemble! Conjoin Your Flame” will be released on November 25th (and it can be pre-saved on Spotify here).
“Five years after Interequinox, Norwegian Black Metal duo DØDSENGEL announce the coming of a new album. Simultaneously more wild and more exacting, more challenging and more obscure than anything the band has previously released, Bab Al On is a devotional work of idiosyncratic spiritual Black Metal in eleven chapters”.
That was part of the announcement we received from Debemur Morti Productions, along with the news that the album’s opening song “Ad Babalonis Amorem Do Dedico Omnia Nihilo” had been revealed. It begins with a deep ritual chant, and then the vocals elevate in their fervor as the riffing swells to a boil and discharges brazen fanfares. The vocals change repeatedly, and the guitars and the rhythm section repeatedly contort as well. There’s undeniable wildness in the music, as well as mysticism, and big resounding booms and a reprise of those opening chants give it a feeling of daunting reverence.
Bab Al On will be released on December 16th.
I owe thanks to Rennie from starkweather for making a post that alerted me to a new album coming our way from Wolok. Listening to that band has always been a deeply disconcerting, scary, and even disgusting experience, but I’ve never been able to flee from them. Professional therapy might explain why.
The Bilious Hues of Gloom is the name of the new record, which will be released by Brucia Records on December 8th. The first “single” from it happens to be the closing track, “Downfallen“.
That track delivers gruesome crocodilian growls and big thudding beats that might make you want to bounce and at other times might make you think you’re dying. Flying all around that is a batch of guitar weirdness that buzzes, pulsates, and skitters, coupled with doses of shrill, quivering electronics. The combined effect is physically convulsive, hallucinatory, and kind of nauseating.
Nevertheless, I listened to it three times in a row. If I needed therapy before, I need it twice as much now.
With a couple of big breaks in the continuum, Deviser have been making black metal since 1990. Following a five-year gap after their most recent EP (Howling Flames) they’ve now completed a new album named Evil Summons Evil that will be released in February by Hammerheart Records.
The new single from the album is named “Absence of Heaven”, and the lyric video that accompanies it contains words of an esoteric path, which includes the chanting of four names from the 11 sephiroth of the kabbalistic Tree of Life, the emanations through which The Infinite is said to reveal itself. The music is itself exotic and exalted, but packed with pulse-pounding, head-hooking riffs, beneath an overlay of grand, sweeping synths, along with savage, searing vocal intensity. There are feelings of discovery and wonder in the music, but it’s got a lot of visceral strength and compulsive momentum as well.
ENDLESS LOSS (Australia)
I didn’t plan to include the new Endless Loss EP in today’s collection because I seriously doubted I’d have time to write anything about it. But I couldn’t get it out of my head, and so I reconsidered. I still don’t have time to write much, but I’d have felt guilty if I made no mention at all.
The name of the EP is Bloodletting Narcotic Divination. All those words have meaning in the context of the music, but it’s the bloodletting that will probably make the dominant impression, because this bestial music is mauling, mangling, and remorselessly grim and ruinous. It brings into play obliterating drums, thunderous bass, dense and heavy walls of roiling, writhing, and clobbering guitar mayhem, and shrill feverish screaming tones, plus a possessed vocal cacophony of bellowing growls, wild yells, and incinerating screams.
But when you listen from the beginning you may discover the unsettling significance of those other title words too. This is brutally bludgeoning and psychotically violent stuff, but also hallucinatory and esoteric. The band also relentlessly change gears and throw in differing head-hooking rhythmic and riffing motifs that (if you’re like me) Bloodletting Narcotic Divination will keep you rooted in place through all the devastation.
Bloodletting Narcotic Divination was just released via Bandcamp on October 29th.
Shades of Black:
I prefer KABOOM! 🙂
Deviser This Week Bottoms Up !!