SEEN AND HEARD ON A BANDCAMP BLACK FRIDAY: HOST, GOATBURNER, ÚZKOST, FORMLESS ARCHITECT, SLEGEST, ONHOU, TCHORNOBOG, ABYSSAL
When you combine a Black Friday with a Bandcamp Friday the result is a goddamned typhoon of new music and videos, with bands and labels not only launching sales but trying to take further advantage of the situation with new releases, some of them out today and some now up for pre-order.
Correction: As Nic pointed out in a comment on the post following this one, Black Friday was NOT in fact a Bandcamp Friday, and now I’ve forgotten why I thought it was. On the plus side, I get to do something like this again on December 2nd!
I can’t say I’ve waded through all of it to make your shopping experience easier (I’m only one bedraggled human and speed-cloning is a generation or two away), but I did make my way through some of it, and have these recommendations for you.
I also did try to provide some genre scatter in the choices, knowing that not everyone loves everything, and to provide a range of radar elevations among the bands. As vivid proof of that, I’m leading off with…
Yes, this band is composed of metal luminaries Greg Mackintosh and Nick Holmes but the music of their new endeavor, as represented in the song “Hiding From Tomorrow“, is more in the vein of dark post-punk and New Wave than metal, with vivid bouncing beats and darting/glittering electronic pulses providing the drive for Holmes‘ gloomy clean-sung vocals. But on the other hand, the riffing generates a bleak whine, and the shimmery high tones give the music an eerie and ominous cast.
And so, the song is danceable and catchy, but kind of chilling too — and the video by Ash Pears amplifies the track’s unnerving qualities. The song is the second single from a debut album named IX that will be released by Nuclear Blast next February.
This next EP (Danger) wasn’t timed to come out today, but you can still take advantage of the savings offered by this Bandcamp Friday, and hell yes you should take advantage of it.
This four-track offering is a hulking monster of death metal with bursts of violent grindcore mayhem. Goatburner are well-armed to inflict beatings, thanks to a propensity for merciless pounding grooves and skull-cracking snare-work that sounds like gunshots, and to bring the fear with bestial abyssal growls, hair-on-fire screaming, and noxious gagging expulsions.
But the riffs (like the drum patterns) are variable, slashing like a serial killer, digging through bedrock like a big earth-excavating machine, buzzing and whirring in malicious feeding frenzies, or channeling dismal and degrading fevers. And there’s a venomous reptilian riff about half-way through “Lights Out” that delivers a big hellish surprise. Also, “Decapitation” lasts for 7 seconds.
In other words, for a release that only lasts 8 minutes this is a hell of a fine trip. Not surprisingly (if you haven’t fond out about Goatburner from previous releases), both of the band members have extensive resumes. They’ve got a lot more tracks in the works, so (thankfully) a second album is on the way.
This Pittsburgh band who used to go by the name Slaves BC released their third single today, further revealing the ways in which they’ve morphed into a different kind of sound.
The new track “Arise: Assemble! Conjoin Your Flame!“, much like its title, is an exhortation, but a grim and grievous one. It’s heavier than a very heavy thing, and slugs so hard you might feel like checking your fleshy parts for bruising, and the union of harrowing roars and slit-throat screams is scary as shit.
But the song also convulses in blast-beat tirades, and through riffing that blares and seizes up in paroxysms of violence. Along with the screams, the guitars also scream in agony and blaze in a way that creates a towering vision of despair.
In a nutshell, the song hits really fucking hard in more ways than one — emotionally shattering as well as “physically” demolishing. Not exactly easy to hear but very hard to forget. And, as the title proclaims, there’s a message here:
“AACYF” is a call to arms to stand up against systems of oppression in all forms. Cast aside the walls of division that have been erected to keep us from uniting. Whether you think of yourself as a Progressive, Leftist, Communist, Anarchist, or whatever, if you are tired of seeing institutional racism and bigotry in all forms used as tools for Fascism and Capitalism to oppress/crush/murder: then join your flames with ours as comrades. There are way more of us than there are of them.
Together, we can win this fight.
Death to Fascism
FORMLESS ARCHITECT (UK)
One good single that came out today deserves another, and so next I’ve picked “Gateways” by Formless Architect. This one is a quivering, queasy, and relentlessly head-spinning expulsion of proggy tech-death, loaded with darting and squirming fretwork (which sometimes renders ill harmonies), bursts of braying dissonance, a swirling solo, and rapid tempo changes and drum variations.
The growled vocals are relentlessly bellowing, and the band pick their moments to bust skulls, but in the main this is a freakish and kind of mentally diseased escapade that paradoxically turns out to be an ear-worm too. The theme of the song maybe won’t be surprising after you hear it. The band says: “The song is about creating doorways to alternate dimensions by rearranging limbs and internal organs into a certain sequence.”
The sterling artwork was done by Shindy Design
Now let’s turn to “Innsikt“, the multi-faceted first single from a forthcoming fourth album by these genre-bending Norwegians.
Presented through a video that begins and ends with bright bird-song, the track sets the hook with a pulsating and raking riff that feels kind of mean, coupled with rocking punk grooves and a bubbling bass. Yeah, the music is kind of venomous, but the harsh, snarling vocals are even more so. When a solo arrives, it feels downright beaten down, a tracery of despondency, and it leads into a finale of deep melancholy commingled with yearning.
The feral energy of the song, until its sorrowful ending, is also damned infectious, but come to think of it, that downcast ending has gotten stuck in my head too.
The album’s name is Avstand. It’s set for release on January 20th by Dark Essence Records.
Next up is a new (and very well-made) video for another advance track off a forthcoming album by these Dutch doomsters.
“When On High“: is a crusher in many ways. The drums are punishing, and the mammoth chords lumber and stalk with brutish heaviness and heartless mien, cold and corrosive. The vocals are themselves crushing, because they’re so raw in their fury and pain. Mysterious glinting notes also surface when those heaving chords vanish (though the bass continues growling), and they become hypnotic.
But that’s not all. The guitars seethe, the drums snap, the bass pulsates, the silvery keyboards quiver, and thus a fever begins to build within this hulking steamroller, pointing the way to calamity — which arrives in torrid screams, bleak towering chords, and crashing drums, which all devolve into a mass of abrasive noise, as if you hadn’t been roughed-up enough.
The song comes from Onhou’s sophomore release Monument, which will be released by Tartarus Recods on December 9th. It had its premiere at Invisible Oranges with a detailed write-up and band commentary about the meaning of the song.
TCHORNOBOG (U.S.) / ABYSSAL (UK)
Last but quite far from least, I’m including a stream of a new album-length collaboration by these two formidable bands, consisting of two very long songs. Tchornobog‘s Markov Soroka explains it this way:
When we toured with Abyssal and Tchornobog in 2019, we had already written most of the material, since about 2018. It goes without saying that we are relieved to finally be able to start showing you this material.
In this chapter of 24 minutes inside Tchornobog‘s maw communicating with the human body, you will find one of the most ambitious collaborations I’ve been a part of. I worked with an outstanding team of musicians and producers from all over the world to bring a deeply personal material alive within the black and death metal sound. Alongside Abyssal, a few talented Icelanders, and longtime collaborators, “The Vomiting Choir” also features recorded samples of many willing individuals purging and vomiting, which were sent to us to make “The Vomiting Choir” an aural reality. My goal in this, the longest Tchornobog song to date, was to make a thorough journey into the human body through an abstract lens and telekinetic speech guided by the Tchornobog.
Alongside two bass players on the Tchornobog side, the collaborative split features motifs present on both songs which Abyssal and I worked on to create even further cohesion. The release also features the same drummer on both sides, Ragnar Sverrisson!
Whenever I work on something as dark sounding as this, my natural instinct is to add a significant amount of optimism and awareness to balance the moods, and whether or not I achieved this, or have the audio match any of the above descriptions is ultimately up to you, the listener. Fall into the new chapter of this universe and let your senses take over. Thank you so much to everyone listening!
This album was just released today by Prophecy Productions (via Lupus Lounge) on Vinyl, CD, and digital, and I’ve only made my way through it once. So many dark, disorienting, exhilarating, and magnificent things happens that I haven’t collected my thoughts, and my NCS time is running out today anyway. So, all I really want to do is put the stream here and encourage you to give it a listen as soon as you have 48 minutes to spare and no room to think about anything else.
The wild cover art is by the great Adam Burke.
Man, that Host song is awesome! Was totally unaware Nick and Greg were doing this. Many thanks for the flag – something to look forward to in the otherwise bleak month of February! Thanks.
Big surprise to me too. No idea these two were into this kind of music. Turns out that they took the name Host from the Paradise Lost album of that name, which also confounded expectations when it came out. The press release also reports that the music traces to “West Yorkshire music clubs of the mid-to-late 1980s” and that both Holmes and Mackintosh “were equally drawn to the New Wave and Goth music scenes.” And here’s the first single, which I forgot to include in the post:
Thanks for the link! And I love the PL album, “Host”, even if it is far different than what they had done up to that point (or are doing now for that matter) and eventually led them down a bad rabbit hole for the 3 or 4 albums after it…. Guess Nick needs to balance out Bloodbath and Greg the same with Strigoi, lol. Thx again.