Shakma – photo by Kristian Eikeland
Anyone who visits here on a regular basis knows I like to host premieres of new songs and complete releases. Other people seem to like that too, since our daily calendar of premieres is full from now through April 21st, which is about as fully stocked and as far out-front as I can remember we’ve ever been with our premiere schedule.
The downside of this for me is that it cuts deep into the time I have for something else I enjoy — roundups of new music like this one. Lately, I’ve been lucky if I can get one done on the weekend. Doing them on the weekdays has become a rarity, especially since the job that pays the freight around here has been pressing me more than usual too.
I know I sound like a broken record, constantly expressing disappointment and frustration that I can’t highlight more bands and their music in this way. But none of these records is broken….
In their second album On Tenebrous Wings the Norwegian band Shakma come gunning for their listeners with lethal fanaticism, drums snapping in a head-hooking frenzy, the bass cooked to a boil, guitars whining and whirling and slashing with malefic intent, and berserk blowtorch vocals adding to the music’s white-hot ferocity.
The blazing, braying, and rapidly darting riffs count first, and they’re virally infectious as well as electrifying, but the gloriously shred-tastic soloing is on par with them, adding to the songs’ high-octane fuel. It must be underscored, however, that the music doesn’t just sound wildly ecstatic, it also sounds diabolical, like the genuine revels of demons set free because god finally gave up.
And that is what makes someone like me, who usually has a meh attitude about thrash, relish On Tenebrous Wings. It kicks the adrenaline into overdrive; it lights up dead eyes; it’s immediately addictive; and it’s a formidable neck-bender — but it also sounds authentically demonic. You shouldn’t look to someone like me as an expert on thrash, but I’ll still say this is one of the best thrash albums I’ve heard in many moons.
The album was just released yesterday by Duplicate Records, just in time to turn your weekend into a bonfire. The cover art is by SoloMacello.
KAAL AKUMA (Bangladesh)
After that turbocharged Shakma hell-ride I thought about giving you a case of whiplash by inserting something ponderous and punishing here, but decided instead to keep your head spinning with the first advance track off a new EP by this Dakha-based band.
You’ll see what I mean right away. Right from the start, “Ego Death” is destructive mayhem, discharging brutally corrosive jackhammer riffing at high speed, coupled with full-throttle drums, lunatic guitar shrieking, and ravenous growls. But the song is 8 1/2 minutes long, and so Kaal Akuma throw in lots of twists and turns, without ever quelling the ferocity.
Punctuated by quick starts and stops in the drum mania (and sudden gear-shifts), the riffing rapidly morphs into needling, insectile feeding frenzies, and then seems to whine in misery when the pace slows to a staggering stomp. The guitars use screeching and clawing dissonance to fashion tension and agony, and the vocals mercilessly elevate into terrorizing screams when the poisonous rampages begin again.
Honestly the whole song is a terror, with a big dose of feedback to end it, as if your mind hadn’t already been mangled by the song’s preceding predatory assaults. Hellaciously good cover art too (I’m searching to see who did it).
The name of this 21-minute EP is Turiya, and it’s set for release by Nuclear Winter Records on April 28th.
I think now I’ll do a bit of gear-shifting myself, with the title track to Óreiða‘s second full-length, The Eternal.
I don’t mean to suggest that fires don’t burn in “The Eternal“. The riffing is dense and immersive, and it sears. But the drum beat is slow and stumbling, and the emotional resonance of the riffing, and the piercing piercing gleam of the lead-guitar (or it might be a keyboard), is one of despair.
The music sucks the listener in, swallowed by the vast waves of dire melody. When the drums vanish and the music changes, the guitars seem to moan and plead, creating a harmony of anguish and regret. But the deleterious waves roll again, drawing us down into perilous depths, or perhaps leading us into heights of terrible splendor, where some crushing revelation awaits. There, celestial voices seem to cry out, maybe beseeching, or maybe singing praises of… the eternal….
To be swept away by this, it’s not necessary to have an authentic interpretation of what inspired the music, but we do have that, in the words of the band’s sole member Thor:
“What begins as an attempt to get a deeper understanding of my connection with nature evolves into the relationship nature has to the planet, the planet has to the solar system, the solar system has to the universe and the universe has to the eternal. With chaos. With the eternal static.
“The concept was also based on the Myth of Sisyphus and in particular Albert Camus’ take. It is a climb through the eternal. You find your path, you cross the rivers, you make the climb and then reach the apex only to find yourself faced with the eternal. There is no end, only the journey, and the journey goes on forever.”
The Eternal will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on May 12th.
SPORAE AUTEM YUGGOTH (Chile)
Now I’ll invite you to make another turn in the musical path with these next two selections, which I thought paired with each other extremely well, and not just because both bands make their homes in Chile.
To begin, we have “Disintegration“, the first single from …However It Still Moves, the debut album of Sporae Autem Yuggoth. “Doom-death” is the band’s genre moniker, and that’s eventually borne out, but not in ways you might expect, and that’s not how it begins. It begins with an adrenaline punch of battering drums, gruesomely distorted guitars that viciously slither and chew, and haughty roars.
The band hint at changes to come with the foreboding appearance of spectral keyboards and dismal, wailing reverberations, but the song still remains lively, thanks to shrill, skittering fretwork, pulsating bass-lines, and clobbering drums.
Well, “lively” is a relative term, because the encroaching menace in the music is unmistakable, and then the biggest changes arrive when the momentum slows and the synths reappear, creating (along with the guitars) a vision that’s vast and splendid. The ensuing guitar solo is itself a thing of sorrowful, glimmering splendor.
So, you should take the “doom-death” moniker with a grain of salt, and maybe put more weight on the Lovecraftian extraterrestrial reference in the band’s name.
…However It Still Moves will be released by Personal Records on May 19th.
MIASMA OF OCCVLT LIMBS (Chile)
Next up I’ve selected another complete album, a debut full-length released just a handful of days ago by this one-person band from Talca. Entitled Occvlta Caerimonia Putridvm, it consists of three tracks, two of them immensely long and one of more conventional length sandwiched in between.
Both in its conceptual significance (which you can read about at length at Bandcamp) and in its multitude of malignant sounds, this is an album wholly devoted to channeling the worst qualities of the human race and how we will end, coupled with the hunger and rage of malevolent inhuman forces eagerly looking toward the day when they can dance on our festering corpses.
Was that too over the top? You’ll figure it out for yourselves, but I don’t think so.
To be a bit more precise, Miasma of Occvlt Limbs creates its audio horrors in different dimensions. At its zeniths of speed and ferocity, the drumming is mad, the tremolo’d riffing whines and roils in distortion-ridden convulsions where viciousness and pain seem to intersect, and the vocals are those of an imperious beast. When the pace collapses, grim and ghastly chords reverberate like mutated Geiger counters detecting the festering rot in mass graves.
The long opening song “Devorant Corpus Meum in Tenebris Putridum” pushes and pull between these two extremes, discharging onslaughts of hideous black/death savagery and leading us into morbid visions of unspeakable cruelty that malefactors tried to hide from history deep under the earth.
In between, the band charts an excursion into the void, using gleaming guitars and glimmering keys to freeze the blood, emerging into a towering vista of explosive, world-ending calamity. The guitars chew at your guts, skitter like army ants maniacally devouring what spills, and grind along like a tunnel-boring machine making its way through rock. At the end, the immense stomp of unavoidable doom sucks at the soul.
The other long song, “(Portal) Con las Vísceras Expuestas la Iluminación Cadavérica me Sacraliza“, follows a similar strategem, veering between violent, inhuman mayhem, imperious processions of plague-infected horrors, and the drag of cadaverous, soul-sucking doom, while interspersing sounds of mystery, menace, and mutilating magnificence. The song is in constant flux, (with some startling juxtapositions of volume) and even the vocals become a bestiary, morphing into different forms of macabre and malignant foulness. Surprisingly, the finale is an astral drift, dreamlike and mesmerizing.
To the credit of the band’s lone malefactor, those long songs don’t lose their grip, because he packs so many different sensations and moods into them, though none of that is for the faint of heart.
The shorter song in between them, “CasdaMósfrénO(((alas“, is of course a less twisting and turning journey into darkness, but it’s no throwaway by any means. If anything, it’s even more horrific than the worst depredations of the longer songs. It feels like slowly being chained within the most dank and diseased of dungeons, with only ghosts for cold comfort. No drums or vocals in that one, just a cornucopia of utterly traumatic ambient tortures, leviathan bass gnawings, and skin-flaying guitar reverberations.
I’ll leave to others the task of comparative references to other death metal, blackened death, and death-doom bands. I’ll just say that for adherents of horrific death metal in any of those forms, Occvlta Caerimonia Putridvm is well worth your time.
(I owe thanks to Ryan Tysinger at Last Rites for recommending this album.)