Nov 132022

Like a lot of people in the Seattle area I made a terrible mistake this morning. I woke up early to watch the Seahawks play what turned out to be a miserable football game in Germany. I’d like to have those 3 hours back. I could have used them for extra sleep, or to make this Sunday column longer.

Looking for a way to begin dispelling a black mood, I checked out just a few very new things, and revisited an album I’ve been enjoying since mid-October, one that well-suits my current depressive mood.

MOEROR (Greece)

My first exposure to Moeror came last year, through their excellent split release with Human Serpent and Kvadrat (enthusiastically reviewed here). Based on that, I intended to travel back to their 2020 debut album The Ghosts of Amour Propre, but never did. Maybe I still will, but there’s something more immediate that’s going to pull with greater urgency, and that’s their forthcoming sophomore album All That We Seem.

The album’s first advance song, which arrived with a well-matched video, kindles that feeling of urgency. Like a high tide the song flows in, rushes, and recedes, crashes and creates a dangerous undertow. At the outset there’s post-metal heaviness and an atmosphere of inviting menace that builds against a backing of grinding grit, with head-hooking beats, a sprinkling of light keyboards, and ringing guitar in the building mix.

Embellished with dictatorial gargoyle vocals that elevate into mad screams, the song flows toward frenzy, and ebbs into dismal wailing tones above a throbbing bass pulse, and then surges again through jolting and scissoring chords, gripping drum convulsions, a burst of feverishly screaming fretwork, and a new zenith of vocal madness. The finale is exhilarating but disturbingly berserk.

All That We Seem is set for release on November 25th. It includes session drums by Kevin Paradis.

(Thanks go to to Rennie from starkweather for passing along the link to this one.)




I was drawn to this next song of Québécois black metal by the fantastical cover painting of Mitchell Nolte first and foremost. And then the song turned out to be much more multi-faceted and fascinating that I suspected at first.

After an inviting guitar instrumental, the opening nova of synth-driven sound is pure battering and blazing mayhem but with an overlay of ethereal splendor. There are also hints of medieval and baroque elegance in the song, as well as a languid and luxurious guitar instrumental near the middle.

Acoustic guitars and the nimble and nuanced bass performance, enriched by a fretless tone, bring both folkish and proggy proclivities into the music, and the drumming is pleasingly variable as well. There might be a flute in the mix too. Orphique even leaven the livid lunacy of the acid-spraying vocals with growls and extravagant cries.

There’s something both distressing and buoyant about the experience, something both tormented and glorious. If you’re like me, you’ll find it very easy (maybe even irresistible) to run through “Chromatique” repeatedly.

Orphique is principally the work of one David Potter, but he enlisted a group of additional performers for Orphique‘s debut album Consécration cadavérique, and they are identified at Bandcamp. Sepulchral Productions, which will release the album on November 24th, compares it to Miserere Luminis, the musical collaboration of Gris and Sombres Forêts, which is an appealing reference point for sure.



T.O.M.B. (U.S.)

The next song, by the long-running Pennsylvania band T.O.M.B., comes from a new album whose name — Terror Winds — turns out to be a perfect preview of what the song delivers, though the song’s name is itself a pretty accurate signpost.

Hatred To All” pulls no punches at all and allows no room for breath nor contemplation of anything but the firestorm that engulfs the senses from the very start. The superheated riffing and synth-work strike like a seizure of malicious madness. The music seems to scream in rhythm and writhe in pain, even as the drums race at maniacal speeds and the vocals viciously spew ugliness, no less insane than anything else. Yet there’s an eerie and anguished splendor in the heart-pounding convulsion too, thanks to the clarion emergence of swirling and contorting tonalities as the song approaches the bitter end.

Terror Winds sounds like yet another shift in style from this band, who’ve never seemed too concerned about following a straight and narrow path. It’s set for release on December 2nd by Dark Essence Records.



EXESA (Poland)

To close out today’s column I have an album that I’ve spent a little more time with than the three new songs above. Released on October 22nd and entitled Dom gasnącego słońca (“the house of the dying sun”), it’s the second full-length by this solo project of one Zyx.

The songs provide a disturbing yet captivating amalgam of ringing, grief-stricken melodies, symphonic synths, tormented vocals that snarl and rasp like an iron file (and alternately seem both agonized and scalding in their rage), and moods of boiling desperation, slashing and jolting fury, and foundering hopelessness.

You can feel like you’ve been caught up in a whipping whirlwind, in which brilliantly swirling solos and leads reveal gleaming visions within the sky-high rampaging violence. But you can also fall under tragic spells, thanks again to the reverberating melodies, which elevate to create passages of daunting orchestral grandeur above deep groaning chords and ravishing drum mania, and also wail like massed spirits risen from some vast calamity.

The songs vary in speed and sonic power, but they’re all elaborate, often elegant, and they all manage to colonize the senses very effectively. They’ll often get your blood rushing and your head pumping, but make no mistake, the dominant emotional through-line of the album is one of towering, world-spanning wretchedness.

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