I didn’t oversleep today, so there’s a lot here. And I don’t just mean the volume of music, but the stylistic range of it too. Black metal has become a vast canvass, but I’ve often gone off the edge of the canvass too. And I’ll add that there are more variants of doom in this mix than usual.
To begin today, I’ve chosen At Night I See Demons, the head-spinning debut EP released last month by the Swedish black metal band Mylingen, a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist V.J. (from Apathy Noir) and vocalist G.C. According to Metal Archives, their name is based on the word “myling“, which in Scandinavian folklore was “the phantasmal incarnations of the souls of unwanted children killed by their mothers and forced to roam the Earth until they could persuade someone to bury them properly.”
In the EP opener, “Falling“, a wailing violin (or a guitar tuned to sound like one) traces a sorrowful melody over heavy stomping riffage, scorching screams, and teeth-rattling drums. Other inviting instrumental accents surface, along with flurries of kidney-punching jabs, guttural snarls, and gasping whispers. The blend of visceral punch and that striking violin sell the song, though the crazed torments of the vocals also make a striking impact.
From there Mylingen move through three more dynamic tracks, interweaving similar ingredients (plus a piano and spectral keys) to create moods of heart-lacerating grief, nightmare shivers, ghostly hauntings, rampaging violence, and celestial grandeur. The elegant and heart-felt violin performances repeatedly steal the show, sometimes folk-oriented, sometimes classically framed, but the music also includes some pleasingly proggy guitar and bass work, the rhythms retain their muscularity, and those unhinged vocals remain… terrorizing.
A very impressive advent from Mylingen, hopefully to be followed by more.
P.S. I have learned that what I thought was a violin was instead a guitar, and that V.J. used an open C tuning which is apparently quite common on violin and cello! To make a guitar and the weaving of the melodies sound like this just causes me to be even more impressed.
PALACE OF WORMS (U.S.)
Palace of Worms‘ new album Cabal was released just two weeks ago. It was rumored to be the band’s last one. Justin Collins ended his review of the album for our site this way: “I don’t know if this is truly Palace of Worms‘ swansong, but even if it is, I hope we get more of this from Balan in one form or another.”
Two weeks later we do have more from Balan and Palace of Worms. It’s just one song and probably nothing anyone would have predicted, but it’s a hell of a thing, a cover of a song called “Human Battery” by an obscure East Bay Deathrock band named Headless Lizzy and Her Icebox Pussy.
The big bass will rumble and roil your guts, and the blaring, jolting, skittering, and roiling riffage is a raucous and riotous experience. Same for the wild yells and seizure-like soloing, and the frequent drum variations will keep you on the edge of your seat. Siren-like effects and strobe-like screams spin the music into higher levels of macabre ecstasy.
But to get to the end, the song wallows through a quagmire, sinking deeper into crushing desolation with each heaving step. But while you’re being sucked downward, you’ll be treated to another spectacular guitar solo, plus cavernous growls and instrumental wails that raise goosebumps on the flesh.
Balan performed all the instruments on this cover as well as the vocals, except for the guitar solos, which were performed by Santiago Reinhardt.
I’ve also included a stream of the original song, from a 2018 album named Non Serviam: Corpore, Mente et Anima. It’s pretty wild too, and a good discovery in its own right.
Thomas Eriksen and his bandmates in Mork are returning this year with a new album named Dypet. The next song, “Bortgang“, is its first single, and Eriksen describes it as “he most beautiful piece of music I’ve written thus far.”, a poem “about passing away and what that might mean to you and the ones left behind”.
The song is mid-paced in its movement, and the lofty trill of the guitar comes in piercing waves. Yes it’s beautiful, but also stricken by intense grief. The music becomes more crashing and discordant, portraying distress and a feeling of not knowing where to turn. In all its varying movements, including a majestically haunting solo, the guitar work grips the senses, as does Eriksen‘s wretched and wrathful screams and the prominent bass lines.
Eventually the music becomes expansive and far-seeing, but ultimately the rains fall and the music itself falls like tears.
Dypet will be released by Peaceville Records on March 24th.
What I’ve chosen next is the debut single “Ossi” by the Italian band Strja, who have taken their inspiration from the history of Venice. In my mind, it connects to both the music of Mylingen that I used to start this column and the album that comes next.
On the one hand, the drums will give your head a vigorous hammering, the craggy bass growls like a beast, and the merciless vocals burn like acid spurting from a firehose. On the other hand, the high, gleaming trill of the guitars is thoroughly enthralling, and there’s a vibrant dancing melody that sounds like a violin, though it might not be.
The song further includes some beefy chugs, abyssal growls, and more of that magically weaving violin-like melody, which gives the music a folkish aspect but also (along with that glittering guitar) makes the music sound wondrously ethereal. I found it continued ringing in my head after the song’s end, having become a spell.
“Ossi” is one of three songs of Strja‘s self-titled debut EP, which was released by No Reentry Records on February 7th. You can listen to all 3 tracks from the EP at YouTube here. It’s available on digital platforms such as Spotify, Amazon Music, Itunes, and others.
ETHIR ANDUIN (Russia)
I’ve been following this band for a while and listened as the stylistic ingredients have changed, almost from album to album. The throughline has remained the songwriter and instrumental performer Fenrir, though there have been some changes in vocalists. For the band’s just-released new album Холод, it appears they are principally performed by Pavel Kozhukhovsky, who growls, snarls, screams, yells, and provides gloomy baritone singing in varying expressions of torment, though female vocals are again briefly present, and there’s a bit of throat-singing as well (in the ancient-sounding fourth song “Залив чудовищ“).
The album consists of five long-form tracks, and a violinist plays a paramount role in the opener “Вепсский лес“, channeling an old pagan/folk influence in music that might otherwise be characterized as a kind of melodic blackened doom. The music is elaborate. As you move from song to song you’ll hear ethereal lead guitars, the violin, a flute, a pinging keyboard, orchestral synths, piano, a saxophone (the lead instrument in the soulful but also harrowing closing song “Пространство“), and more, but the album also delivers riffing of ravaging heaviness or rocking momentum and an array of bone-cracking drumwork.
The songcraft displays an ebb-and-flow, loud-soft dynamism. It’s capable of packing a jolting punch, racing head-long, and flying to heights of panoramic grandeur, but is equally adept at creating moods of lonely heartbreak, slowing into soul-crushing episodes that border the land of funeral doom, or evoking mystery and mysticism.
The layered instrumental harmonies are beautiful even when the emotions are soul-stricken, but there’s a relentless and resilient vibrancy in the music that continues to surface, even though there’s no escaping the album’s overarching atmosphere of melancholy.
It’s easy to fall into these long, multi-faceted excursions, each of which has its own personality, and to be moved by them at a deep level, to be carried away from beginning to end. There are many ways to listen, all of which are collected in the first link below, and it can be downloaded on Bandcamp and Apple Music. The YouTube stream I’ve provided will move from song to song if you stay with it, and of course I’ve also included the Bandcamp stream. I’ll also share this from Ethir Anduin about the album’s concept:
“The concept of the album is dedicated to the great boundless north.
The harsh, ascetic, incredibly beautiful and mystical north.
We are interested in its history and culture, secrets and myths.
We want to give thanks and praise to him and confess our devotion.”
I’m going to end with the 15-minute “Fields at Dawn” by San Diego’s Tideless. I found it thanks to a write-up in starkweather‘s SubStack (here), and became mesmerized, head-spun, uplifted, haunted, and rattled in equal measure, and ultimately left spellbound in a waking dream. I can’t match starkweather‘s descriptive powers, so I’m just going to quote it here, with a postscript:
“‘Fields at Dawn‘ is a new track from San Diego’s metalmorphs Tideless. This offering is just shy of 15 minutes and brings heavier tones to the mix and pushing the material in the first few minutes closer to funeral doom realms of Esoteric and Thergothon. Washes of synths, dual guitar keening, plodding paces, Demilich croaked vocals turn on a dime to brittle black metal sorcery and rampant bloodlust to bliss out on waves of melodic shoegaze drift. Sure, this reads as a case of schizophrenia, but, those familiar with Tideless know this is their stock in trade, and, none of the genre bending on display is forced. The new album, Eye of Water, is due at an unspecified date in 2023.”
P.S. The lyrics, which you can see at Bandcamp, read like a love poem from a distant era.