I decided I would have enough time to prepare a round-up of new songs and videos today. As I checked out candidates, it hit me that a lot of them were in the vein of black and “blackened” metal (with a healthy heaping of death metal in the mix). And so, with apologies to bands in other genre terrains that have also released worthy new music in recent days, I decided to focus this one on the kind of music I usually explore through this column on Sundays.
I was compelled to lead off with “Sojourn” because of the stunning cover art by The Blazing Seer for this band’s debut album Harrowing. But to be clear, the music isn’t an afterthought. Like the album title, the song is harrowing — a blistering, battering, bleak, and bizarre formulation of dissonant blackened death metal. Through the freakish whining and wailing of the guitars, it applies knives to the listener’s nerves, even when it slows, and the drumwork is as discombobulating as it is electrifying.
The song is also a head-spinner. The technical skill of the performances is very impressive, as it must be to execute a composition of so many maniacal moving parts.
Mithridatum includes members of Abhorrent and The Faceless. The album will be released by Willowtip Records on February 3rd.
IMPERIUM DEKADENZ (Germany)
We’ve lavished a lot of praise on Imperium Dekadenz over the years, and even premiered their 2016 album Dis Manibvs. Now they have a seventh full-length on the way, and the early signs point toward more praise to come.
The first advance song from the album is “Memories… A Raging River“. It might be sufficient to simply quote the band as a preview of what you’ll hear: “A look at a time that left no traces and was irretrievably swept away as if by a raging stream. Brachial guitar lines meet melancholic, filigree melodies, shaken by poignant, touching cries from an endless abyss. Resolutely we step into an approaching darkness.”
I’ll add that this is music of turmoil and tragedy, an emotionally turbulent experience with expansive sweep. The wail of the whirring riffage is riveting, the torment of the vocals is intense, and the heaving bass seems to move the earth, though the music’s intensity is leavened with a haunting, mystical finale (which also wails). It comes with a video that gives the pain a face and translates the desolation and turmoil through cold mountain vistas and raging waters.
The name of the new record, fittingly, is Into Sorrow Evermore. It will be released by Napalm Records on January 20th.
That last song might leave you mesmerized at the end, and I apologize for now obliterating that spell through this next song. “Titan Hammer” is its name, and that’s a good clue to what happens.
Prepare for a ruthless assault that rages at high speed, propelled by unhinged drumming, throat-ripping screams, frantically squirming leads, and delirious riffing that channels madness driven by fear as well as the oppressiveness of a cruel predation. To fetch a different metaphor, it’s a non-stop firestorm within a war zone.
The song is the title track to the forthcoming fifth album by this Chicago band (and their first one in five years). It will be released by ATMF on January 20th and features cover art by Francesco Gemelli.
Up next is a surprise single from one of our favorite Canadian bands, and the first of four tracks they recorded this past summer that will apparently be revealed one by one. This one has an inspiration that will appeal to Tolkienites. As explained by Wormwitch vocalist/bassist Robin Harris at Metal Injection, who hosted the premiere:
“‘Exhumed From Flaming Stars‘ is an homage to the legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien, namely the tragic tale of Túrin Turambar and the fell sword Gurthang, the Iron of Death…”
Wormwitch anchor the song with a humongous, bone-bruising stomp and then send out dense swirling guitar radiations around it — riffing that’s frightening for sure but also imperious and swaggering when the chords slash and clang. The cackling snarls in the vocal department heighten the feeling of ferocity, and the soaring glitter of the guitars adds a vision of splendor. It’s a sudden surprise (though I’ve spoiled it) when the song’s massive stomp vanishes, replaced by ancient, folkish strummed guitars and shimmering synths at the end.
To close I’ve picked an entire album just released yesterday. I wanted to listen to it because of its creator’s eloquent dedication:
“Beloved and a Thousand Seraphim” is dedicated to all brave women of Iran who have paid and are still paying the hefty price of liberty with their lives. It’s a romantic remembrance of Mahsa, Nika, Sarina, Mehrshad and all those beautiful souls who perished in the inhumane savagery of the fanatic scourge in my motherland.
The album will be available for free. Any purchases are much appreciated as always. But the goal of this work is to pay my respects to those brave ladies of Iran and all the lionhearted youth who have been fighting to defeat the invading blind zealots, and also share their epic tales of glory, in life and death, with anyone who might hear my chants.
Lastly, I have to thank Mahshid for her wonderful illustration of our common beloved, Mother Persia, and all her children who have been martyred to become roses of hope on the grey fields of despair.
Forelunar channels these inspirations through four long, classically influenced songs of orchestral black metal. Coupled with harsh chants, reverent male and female choral singing, and scalding screams, that create wide-ranging experiences, by turns heart-lifting and heart-breaking, furious and forlorn. And everything seems to take place gloriously high above the Earth.
In “Vesper” the music storms and becomes a vision of splendor, with heavy low-end upheavals, vivid bass-lines, and brilliant sensations in the high end that sweep, sear, and soar. At times the synth-waves sound like a heavenly host. By contrast, slow and somber piano chords signal a change, and even when the celestial voices return, elevating above the rhythm of a solemn march, the music grieves — and still seems like a grand funeral mass even when the music blazes and the drums begin pumping hard again.
Given the scale and severity of the calamity that inspired the album, it’s not surprising that “Cherub” immediately returns to the kind of widescreen audio panorama that’s the album’s dominant technique, but this time there’s terrible anguish in those sounds, and absolute torment in the wrenching screamed vocals. On the other hand, darting orchestral strings seem to signify resilient defiance, followed by a reprise of the solemn funereal movement that marked “Vesper”, this time elevated by sounds of an organ.
Two more songs are still to come — “Chaste” and “Seraph” — but I’ll let you experience those without my wordy previews. They have their own dynamic movements, their own ranging moods, and some new instrumental accents, but in their towering splendor and heart-felt passion, they’re a match for the first two.
(Thanks go to Miloš for linking me to this extravagant experience.)