SEEN AND HEARD ON A SATURDAY: OBITUARY, GOD DETHRONED, JUST BEFORE DAWN, BIALYWILK, BAD MANOR, SIGNO ROJO, GORYNOV, REYNOLS
Unlike Friday from a week ago, which I erroneously proclaimed was a Bandcamp Friday, yesterday really was one, which meant that more of the the money you might spend there would go to the bands and labels. But of course I couldn’t manage to get a round-up of recommendations finished. We had a lot of other time-sensitive things to post, and my day job also interfered.
But it’s not like we hadn’t already provided a lot of recommendations over the month since the last Bandcamp Friday, so many pf them that the wheezing sound I heard might have been your wallets gasping for mercy. But there is no mercy today, just more choices, maybe to be squirreled away for the first Bandcamp Friday of 2023. At the end of this I’ll also pitch you a curveball.
For three reasons I decided to begin today’s collection with another new track off Obituary‘s next album. One, it’s Obituary. Two, it’s a good song. Three, it gives me an excuse to point you to a very entertaining article.
The new song, “Dying of Everything“, is the new album’s title track. This one is red meat for Obituary carnivores. It’s a vicious piece of work, with riffs that go wild and also lumber like a golem, matched up with mad-dog vocals and drumming that clocks like a metronome, gallops, and hammers. The music also gets grim and ghastly, and fires up a head-busting jackhammer as well, right before and after a supernatural solo.
The article I mentioned is the November edition of the “Black Market” column at Stereogum. The first part of that column is a long Obituary interview/essay by Ian Chainey. There’s a running joke that ties it all together, one that concerns the rendering of lyrics across the internet for the band’s 1989 album Slowly We Rot, which apart from a few audible phrases contains no lyrics at all, just noises that John Tardy made in an effort to match up with Trevor Peres‘ guitar tones.
As Ian continually circled back to that subject in his interview with the Tardy brothers, I continually laughed out loud (really and truly). And the piece is a great read for other reasons besides that, so I heartily recommend it [here]. After Ian‘s piece you’ll find the Black Market crew’s usual recommendations of new albums, and as usual I now have a few more things to check out that I overlooked.
Obituary‘s new album Dying of Everything will be released on January 13th by Relapse, a good way to kick-start the new year.
GOD DETHRONED (Netherlands)
I decided to wait to say anything about the fact that new music from God Dethroned was on the way until I actually had the music to accompany the news, and now I do, thanks to the release yesterday (with a video) of a single called “Asmodevs“, named for “one of the oldest demons known to mankind”.
Launched by an epic overture, the song quickly explodes in the savagery of maniacal drumming, roiling riffage, and ferocious vocals. Even then, the song’s soaring and swirling melodies give it a sense of epic scale and sinister grandeur (shaded with melancholy) to go along with all the adrenaline-fueling thrills.
The single marks the band’s signing with Atomic Fire Records, and is also (hopefully) a sign of a new album to come.
JUST BEFORE DAWN (Sweden)
Now that I’ve paid attention to a couple of big names, and hopefully lured some people in through that device, I can spend the rest of this collection immersed in bands of relative obscurity — though Just Before Dawn won’t be an obscure name to anyone who frequents our site, given how often I’ve written about them.
The latest mention is spawned by yet another single from the band’s new EP Battle-Sight Zeroing, which will be released later this month by Into It Records on cassette tape, and digitally. The new EP thematically focuses on the Vietnam War, and this new song “Tunnel Rats” portrays the nightmarish experiences of U.S, troops whose mission was to kill Viet Cong combatants in the midst of labyrinthine tunnel complexes (this article provides frightening details).
The new song is itself nightmarish, from the madness of the dense, roiling chainsaw riffing to the raw terrors of the growling and howling vocals. Of course, this being JBD, the song also administers plenty of savage, spine-smacking jolts. Feelings of agony and hopelessness also arise in the wailing soloing and groaning low-end chords as the song moves past the mid-point, and the final vocal sample, laced with distant ambient shimmers, proves to be haunting.
Roughly one year ago I had the good fortune of premiering and reviewing a debut album (Próżnia) by the atmospheric black metal band Bialywilk, the solo side project of leading Vukari member Marek Cimochowicz (aided by an impressive group of session musicians). Drawing inspiration from concepts of space and the void, the music (as I wrote then) created “panoramas of blazing splendor that channel moods of awe, fear, and loss, coupled with heart-pounding rhythmic propulsion and vocals of harrowing intensity — and a couple of gripping ambient excursions into the void of deep space”.
Fortunately, this was not a one-and-done effort, because Bialywilk will bring us a new album named ZMORA next year, and a few days ago brought us a single from it named “Nine of Swords“. With no warning, it becomes a nova of light-speed drumming (thanks to session drummer Joey Spates), haughty howls, and a devouring amalgam of high-flown searing and symphonic sounds that are immediately frightening in their feelings of derangement and fear.
There’s a piercing motif within the overwhelming sonic gale that seems to dance in delirium, and it puts a hook in the head and somehow adds to the madness despite its darting brightness. Fair warning, there’s no relent before the end.
P.S. The song’s title made me think of the Tarot, and a quick investigation educated me that the Nine of Swords is a card associated with fear and anxiety, about all the things that worry you and keep you up at night or plague your sleep with nightmares, and is sometimes associated with trauma. Listening to the song, this choice of title makes sense.
BAD MANOR (U.S.)
About a month ago I gave a too-brief but very enthusiastic recommendation of the mysterious Bad Manor‘s debut album The Haunting, a record I thought would be a very effective way of making every day Halloween.
It turns out that before the album’s release digital and CD release by Ordo Vampyr Orientis and Avantgarde Music it was distributed in a very limited run of tapes, wrapped in foil, tied with twine, with a rusty house-key attached, and the whole thing dipped in wax. The tape included Bad Manor‘s cover of “Love Song” by The Damned, which isn’t part of the digital or CD album release, and last week Decibel premiered a stream of that track. As a fan of both The Damned and Bad Manor, I had to hear it.
If you know the original, you’ll appreciate what a weird twist Bad Manor have put on it. They’ve converted a brazen and bounding (yet sinister and sorcerous) punk song into a much more supernatural experience at first, and even when they shift the music into driving gear it’s more unhinged. Part of that is due to the screamed vocals, but the guitars are also an order of magnitude more deliriously wild.
SIGNO ROJO (Sweden)
I thought for sure I’d written something about Signo Rojo before today, but a quick search of the site proved me wrong. Well, I guess it’s about damned time, and it seemed like a good point at which to do it, with a song that also include “Love” in the title, and in its own ways is just as twisty as that Bad Manor cover.
This new Signo Rojo single (paired with a lyric video) is “What Love Is There“, and it’s a helluva genre-splicer, with sludge as perhaps the main DNA strand, and it’s a mood mangler too. Signo Rojo‘s vocalist is Jonas Nilsson, but this song also features guest vocals by Johan Schuster, and the gritty, braying and screaming intensity of the vocals is certainly a huge part of the song’s attraction.
Beyond that, the song is home to rocking grooves that hit harder than a battering ram, as well as grim slashing chords, bright pinging and feverishly swirling guitar leads, moody tolling tones, rumbling and roiling tank attacks of sound, and elevations of daunting grandeur. Partly because of some of the words but also because of the soaring near-melodic near-singing, parts of the song also reminded me of Stabbing Westward‘s fantastic “Save Yourself”, though this Signo Rojo song is definitely more bleak and wrenching, and anchored by a mastodon stomp.
“What Love Is There” will appear on a new Signo Rojo album named There Was A Hole Here, set for release by Majestic Mountain Records January 27th.
As I was making my way through my gigantic list of new songs and videos to check out, this next one brought me up short, even though I knew nothing about the band. The words to “Enemy In My Sight” are hate-filled and murderous. I’m not sure what particular conflict inspired the lyrics, though pretty clearly it was some episode of war, or maybe the madness of war in general. But the jolting, jarring, and wailing music made a driving impact even before beginning to see the lyrics.
The experience of getting jolted is a main line of this merciless thrash attack, though the cannonades become faster, and the riffing more berserk. The rabid howls of the vocals augment the feeling of being in a violent war zone, though they shift into fervent singing in the chorus, beneath extravagant, high-flying swirls of sound. The song’s darting and cavorting guitar solos are another highlight in this hard-charging escapade, which turns out to be a big ear-worm as well as a grim and grievous devastator.
The song is from a forthcoming Gorynov EP named Reaping Sanity. More singles will be forthcoming.
Now for the curveball I promised.
I learned about the Argentinian band Reynols through a profile feature published in this morning’s New York Times. It’s a wonderful story from beginning to end, and I hope you’ll be able to read it — here.
The subject of the profile is an Argentinian musician Miguel Tomasín, a 58-year-old man who has Downs syndrome. In the band Reynols he mainly drums, but plays other instruments (including keyboards) and sings. The story of how that band came to be is a fascinating one. The story of how Tomasín contributes to the largely improvisational work of Reynols, and why their releases are so prolific, is also fascinating. The article also includes some brief footage of a recent Reynols live performance.
This is an underground band, and aspects of their story will be familiar to fans of extreme underground metal. The fact that it showcases Miguel Tomasín‘s achievements and supports the creativity of other people with mental and physical disabilities makes it unusual.
I can’t claim to be well-versed in what Reynols has recorded — they’ve released more than 100 albums, and the article says that the music varies widely, because each album derives from a jam session of one kind or another. The music often gets characterized as “experimental” and “psychedelic”. One prominent British music journalist quoted in the NYT article called their music “annoying racket”. That was my first clue that it might fit in very well with one of our round-ups.
Below I’ve included a stream of what appears to be Reynols‘ most recent album, Tolin Asumer, from May of this year. In a word, that album is crazy — vibrantly groovesome, but crazy — and unexpectedly it has a tendency to become mesmerizing notwithstanding the impulsive and often wondrous weirdness of the manifold instrumental maneuvers and wailing vocal outbursts.
The two long jams are the jewels here, including the album closer, which is more like a strange and enticing dream (and an exception to the groove-based method of the other tracks), but the shorter songs are real head-trips worth hearing too.
Man, that new Obituary sounds great! Super stoked for it and new God Dethroned.Thanks for the write-up’s – and for rec on the Stereogum article.,
Glad you enjoyed it, it was fun to put it together.
That article is indeed great. I guess my love of Obituary is proof of how little I must care about lyrics (as long as they are not filled with some racist/nationalist/homophobic/etc bs). With Trevor’s killer riffs and John Tardy’s vocals from hell, Obituary could be singing me the Tampa Bay area phone book and I would be all “horns up” and head a bopping along to it, lol.
Those guys are so authentic and down to earth. Just love ’em. Can’t wait for that new album.
Yes that new Obituary does sound great. They put on one of the heaviest live shows I ever saw.