Feb 112023

I had a fairly quiet Friday night, with just enough spirits over dinner to get loose but not enough to feel wrecked and disjointed this morning. Kept making my way through the first season of “Poker Face“, which is enormously entertaining through episode 4, and then another chunk of pages in the latest Murderbot novel, which I’m forcing myself to ration since I’ll be so morose when I have to wait for the next one.

Anyway, thanks for asking about my Friday night. Pretty sure that’s what those whispers were in my head. But now to drown out all whispers with a few more things I got into this morning. Yesterday’s roundup was heavy on the death metal, so I decided to branch out a bit today, while saving most (but not all) of the black stuff ’til tomorrow.


Well, as I said, I didn’t save all the black stuff for tomorrow. This first song was just too good a way to wake people the fuck up. It’s a head-spinning amalgam of symphonic grandiosity, bizarro-world guitar convulsions (with a few bracing gallops and insectile quiverings in the mix), full-throttle madhouse drumwork, bunker-busting grooves, and macabre vocals that stretch far to find so many ways to be ugly.

Thirteen years is a long time between albums, but that’s the interval between this Spanish band’s debut full-length and their second one. A glance at Metal Archives suggests that the three members have busied themselves in other endeavors, at least for part of that time. And, well, one of the three (the expeller of those grotesque vocals) is Dave Rotten, who’s never not busy, it seems.

It’s Dave Rotten‘s Xtreem Music label that will release Yskelgroth‘s second album, Bleeding of the Hideous, on April 4th (CD and digital). This exhilarating head-spinner and mind-mangler of a song is called “Primal Expulsion“. The horrific cover art is the work of John Quevedo Janssens.




PINCER CONSORTIUM (Northern Ireland)

Last November I stumbled across the debut single (“Twin Galactic Tides“) by this Belfast duo, who are also members of Scald, qip, and Sirrah. It was sort of like stumbling across a daisy-cutter landmine, and after attempting to reassemble my brain and body parts I promptly wrote about it here.

I was given to believe that more music would be coming, which I thought was necessary because there might have been some corner of this wretched planet still left intact even after the band’s decimating first strike. And now, sure enough, there are two more songs that were digitally released together just yesterday. And I do mean “together” in a literal sense, because they’ve been combined into a single track.

Like the first single, these two new assaults are accompanied on Bandcamp by gigantic blocks of text that tell harrowing tales in strikingly evocative, if mysterious, language. The first of them, “Schizoid Rivalry“, captures the terror of an entity existing in a “cortex cage” that’s being ruthlessly pursued and ultimately consumed by a mysterious predator, and the words are divided between the perspectives of the hunter and the prey. It seems that the chase and the conquest are occurring within a single human mind. The victor proclaims:

“I sense that you think I am deluded, but now thanks to me, the boss mutation, your stunted, subordinate psychological scenery has been remoulded into a glorious psychotic wonderland of infinite impossibilities; I am the forebrain, we are the midbrain, you are the hindbrain.”

The second track, “Double Occultation“, also seems to encompass a dialogue between a higher and a lesser entity. The language suggests a cosmic encounter in which a momentary truce has been declared before a resumption of hostilities, and yet this may also be a dialogue within a single mind, albeit a bi-polar one. And so both tales can be read as metaphors for what some might call mental illness, but I won’t.

And what of the music? I must once again advise to take deep breaths, because this is a weird and wondrous world-ending pageant — hallucinatory and magnificent, malignant and mutilating, inhuman and unnerving. It attacks like rail gun discharges from a low orbit, fracturing the planetary surface. It blazes and contorts like the Northern Lights moving at unnatural speed.

It convulses in violent seizures of sound, and creates daunting but awe-inspiring sonic panoramas of vast dimension. Backed by bomb-like percussive assaults and jackhammering brutishness, a guitar solo soars and swirls with celestial brilliance. There are livid sensations of conflict, madness, and triumph in the music, and the bestial vocals are as startling as everything else. I happily bought this.





I felt compelled to follow Pincer Consortium‘s latest madness with Domus Cadavra, the new EP by Oslo-based Fleshmeadow. It too is an amalgam of riotous insanity and blazing glory, with some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Fronted by rabid, teeth-bared screams, gruesome gutturals, and heroic choral voices; backed by light-speed drum attacks, and with expansive symphonic synths washing across the top, the first song is well-named: “The Long March to Total Annihilation“. Eventually, when the chaos briefly subsides, feelings of sorrow and abandonment surface — feelings soon decimated by another explosion of breathtaking sweep and obliterating intensity.

The other three songs also harness together elements of thrash and technical and melodic death and black metal, embellished with symphonic synths, white-hot soloing, and a bestiary of vocals, plus the kind of sudden jolting shocks that may give you shaken-baby syndrome. These songs are almost relentlessly over the top — wild and breathtaking — but Fleshmeadow also do a fine job infiltrating their eye-popping rampages with mood-changing melodies and sharp tempo changes.

Oh, and the final song ends with a classical piano performance, because why the hell not?

But definitely do hyperventilate first, because you’ll need the extra oxygen. I happily bought this one too.





I felt the need to move out of the fast lane after the first three bands in this collection, and to do that I picked “Virgo Lucifera” from the new Illuminated Void album entitled Veriditas.

This song comes with a video which reveals a changing collage of clips and visual effects that beautifully suit the sinister and unearthly sensations in the music.

And oh yes, the music is sinister and unearthly. The guitars glisten and ring like reverberating chimes, creating an aura of esoteric mystery and inviting psychedelia. The vocals are clean, and create a hallowed and reverent feeling, but in a way that chills the skin or tingles the spine, especially when they rise in frightening, gritty howls of unbounded passion or seem to wail in grief.

But make no mistake, all of that is balanced by big undulating bass tones and by drum blows that may cause you to search your skull for fractures. A heavy, woozy, fuzzed-out guitar tone takes over in an extended solo around the mid-point, and its writhing and serpentine maneuvers lead it into fire-bright elevations. The song is worth hearing for that experience alone.

The song made me think of other bands, including Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane (both of which are referenced as influences), but the musical amalgam extends into the heavier elements of stoner doom as well. I’m mesmerized by it.

There’s also a second song up on Bandcamp, a 16 1/2 minute one named “The Maze of Sleep“. I found it just as entrancing, and even more unsettling, in part because of the uber-deep demonic roars that dominate in the song’s opening and again later, and in part because of the impact of the dark, python-thick riffs, which are both narcotic and poisonous.

High above, ethereal swirling sounds reveal scintillating glory, and quavering notes seem to elegantly beckon in an extended, bewitching instrumental digression. But after that the music heaves and lumbers like a monstrous leviathan, a great beast whose haughty and horrifying advance is heralded by ephemeral sprites of fire.

Still more experiences await before you finish making you way through this maze of sleep, experiences of otherworldly tension and peril, as well as captivating acoustic strumming of a folk variety that’s both dark and resilient, but occasionally backed by terrifying howls from some sulfurous abyss as well as pastoral synths near the end.

I got thoroughly lost in this long trip (I mean that as a compliment). If you embark, try to make sure nothing will interrupt you. What makes the music all the more remarkable is that it seems to be the work of a single individual, Matt Schmitz from Wisconsin.

Veriditas will be digitally released on March 20th by Milwaukee-based Altrusian Grace Media. On the Bandcamp page it says, “Every download of this album includes a 50-page PDF booklet of art and lyrics”. I have pre-ordered it.


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