It’s another Bandcamp Friday, and thus a good day to spend money. If you’re going broke, it’s also just a good day to listen to new music, because a lot of new stuff has come out today and in the recent days leading up to it.
I’ve picked a few things to recommend, leading off with some big Finnish names — even though their albums aren’t on Bandcamp! — and then getting more obscure and a lot more extreme.
Insomnium decided to make another concept album, which will be their ninth full-length overall. Entitled Anno 1696, and based on a short story by Niilo Sevänen (bass/vocals), it focuses on a time of famine in northern Europe and a period when witch hunts were in full swing all across the continent. The press release says, “Anno 1696 is a tornado of tormented souls, set to a tragedy of Greek proportions”. Sevänen comments:
Photo by Terhi Ylimäinen
“The Torsåker witch trials were a horrible source of nightmarish inspiration. All that talk about 70 women beheaded in this small Swedish parish? It’s real stuff from history! And as if that weren’t enough, there are also some very dark tales of cannibalism and child murder from the years of the great famine.”
For a first preview from Anno 1696, the band have released a gripping video for the new single “Lilian“. Guitarist Markus Vanhala has called this one “the most traditional Insomnium hit song on the album – and an easy starter as single – before the heavier main course comes in. It shows the lighter shade of the album, before all hope leaves.”
Hell yes, it’ a good starter — dreamlike and sweeping, but also hard-hitting and pulse-pounding, fronted by absolutely savage vocals. It really doesn’t sound all that “light” to me, though it does dip into melancholy melody, as well as hitting heights of daunting grandeur.
As if a new album weren’t enough, it’s being released in some editions with an Insomnium EP named Songs of the Dusk, consisting of three more songs from the same recording session. The release date, via Century Media, is February 24th.
Photo by Sam Jamsen
Today Atomic Fire Records is releasing an Amorphis album named Halo (Tour Edition), so named because it comes one week before the Amorphis co-headlining European tour with Eluveitie, joined by Dark Tranquillity and Nailed To Obscurity. To help justify a tour edition of an album released back in February, this version of the record includes a previously unreleased song which was recorded during the band’s latest studio session and is only available on this new CD, and digitally.
That song, “The Well“, is described by vocalist Tomi Joutsen as “on the heavier side of the material recorded during the Halo album sessions,” “drawing some influences from the early Scandinavian early black metal and classic Amorphis vibes”.
It’s true that the classic old Amorphis vibe comes through in this dark but thrilling song. The dancing and swirling flute-like melody and bounding bass lines get their hooks in the head, in the midst of a towering, mythic, and heart-pounding experience; and Joutsen‘s growls and screams are ravaging (there’s some soulful singing too, of course).
OMINOUS SCRIPTURES (Belarus)
In both 2021 and 2020 we hosted premieres of music from previous albums by this Belarusian band, and now they’ve got a third full-length coming out on January 27th via Willowtip Records. The name of this one is Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition. Nice title. To help pave the way they’ve released an album track named “Demonic Totem I Am“.
Not surprisingly, based on this band’s well-established proclivities, this track is a brutal monster — and a thoroughly maniacal one. The drumming is obliterating, and the insectile riffing in the initial attack is nuts. The real bludgeoning begins after that opening paroxysm, and then back and forth they go, erupting in further fretwork seizures and engaging in frequent bouts of jackhammering thuggery. Even in the midst of the beatings, the lead guitar squirms like a fire-worm.
It’s all viciously nasty, and it’s all exhilarating.
From their name alone you can guess a few things about the music of these Serbian “Necro speed hooligans”, even if you haven’t heard them before, and you can make some more guesses based on the name of their new song “At Dawn We Attack” from the forthcoming album Gateways To Hades (more guesses).
I’m a big fan of the beefy bass and the thudding and clattering drums in this song, and equally so of the frenzied riffing and scorching vocal fury. The fretwork is fast — jittering and darting and blaring in a semblance of super-heated madness. Geared toward punching your adrenaline glands into action, the music is feral as hell, but damned catchy too, and the delirious soloing is hellishly glorious. Feel free to scream “ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!” right along with the demon vocalist.
Gateways to Hades will be released on November 25th by Osmose Productions. (Thanks to Miloš for linking me to this one.)
If you’ve made it with me so far in today’s collection, you know I got stuck into some high-speed savagery after those first two opening tracks, and I see no reason to pivot too much here at the end. To close this round-up I picked “Beyond the Pale” from this Boston band’s debut album The Fires of Heaven. In other words, the beatings will continue until morale improves!
The song sounds like we’ve joined a megaton cannonade in progress, coupled with fast and furious riffing that buzzes and jolts. But it turns out that the song also switches tempos and travels in other directions. It stomps and lurches like a brutish beast, chugs like a hellish freight train with the throttle wide open, oppressively heaves, and imperiously blares. Through it all, the vocalist’s mad, crackling snarls and berserk shrieks scorch the ears.
Get your neck loose for this one, and be ready to have your mind infected. I’ll also share this press material about the album’s themes, which connect it up with the album that I chose as the source of this round-up’s opening song:
“Specifically, the lyrics on The Fires of Heaven deal heavily with the Puritan perception of salvation and grace (in other words, whether or not they were going to heaven or hell), and their steadfast belief that Satan and his children/minions (natives and French Catholics) actually lurked in the forests of New England, waiting to murder them and corrupt their godly pursuits and preordained mission to spread their peculiar version of Christianity to the rest of the world.
“Essentially, this paranoia manifested itself as fear and bigotry over time, and resulted in many extremely violent conflicts, as well as various outbreaks of religious paranoia and persecution toward the end of the century – the Salem witchcraft trials as an obvious example”.
The Fires of Heaven is set for release on January 27th by the Rhode Island based Armageddon Label, with a cover painting by Adam Burke.