I don’t know where you live. If I were some tech-savvy spook I might be able to find out, but I’m not one of those. I only know where I live. Where I live spring is valiantly trying to become sprung. Leaves and blossoms are gradually appearing on deciduous trees, some faster than others, but when the rains come again tomorrow they may regret that. A few flowers have blossomed, but not many. I hear a lot more birds at sunrise.
However, the overnight lows are still in the 30s F, the daytime highs still mired in the 50s, and the sun is either pale or obscured by clouds. Spring will have to fight harder. Mind you, I’m not complaining. The last few unbroken links of winter’s chains have made it easier to connect to the some of the music I picked for this Saturday’s recommendations. And of course, delirium and rage are not seasonal, but ever-present, as is alcohol.
TORTURE RACK (U.S.)
Death metal, foul and hulking and savage, seemed like the right way to begin. “Decrepit Funeral Home” will put you on the torture rack and a roaring monster will turn the crank until your bones groan and sinews stretch in agony. You know you deserve it.
Torture Rack – photo by Kendra Farber
The song also inflicts a vicious battering and administers sledgehammer jolts, plus freaked-out frenzies of guitar-swarm violence, like the band lost patience and decided to finish you off quickly, eager for the next victim.
The song is from this Portland group’s new album Primeval Onslaught, which has a June 9 release date through 20 Buck Spin.
INFERNAL CURSE (Argentina)
Menacing cathedral-organ chords that would be at home in “Phantom of the Opera” provide the intro to “Revelations Beyond Insanity“, but as that title portends, what follows abruptly throws off the cloak of haunting gloom and reveals a cataclysm of dense, scathing riffage, turbocharged drum pistons, undulating bass tones, and hideous howls that echo from the crypt.
That marauding beast stalks and stomps too, so your head can heave before the final maniacal convulsion.
The song is from the band’s third album, also named Revelations Beyond Insanity, which is set for release by Iron Bonehead on June 23rd.
“Gde Vukovi Zavijaju” ignites a racing bonfire from the first moment, drums furiously battering and abrasive, whining riffs rising and writhing. The riffing remains crazed, and the growls are haughty, but the music also begins to sound emotionally desperate and desolate — right up to the point where the sensation shifts and the song begins to sound like a joyful pagan dance, spinning around the beat of vigorously pumping drums. The rippling guitar solo also sounds bright, but also a bit forlorn.
After that soft interlude, the song takes flight again, with exhilarating riffs and neck-snapping grooves, but you’ll see that the twists and turns continue right up to the end, reprising the music’s many moods in heart-pounding fashion.
The song is the first single (and the title track) from a new album of Slavic black metal by Strahor (Страхор) that will be self-released in late April or early May.
The next song, “Imperium“, put me more in mind of American black metal, of the “Cascadian” or Falls of Rauros variety, than what I might usually expect from a Polish black/death metal band. I won’t say why, because I’m not sure I can explain it. In part it may be the scenes in the video.
Thanks to a prominent bass and drums like pistons, the music rumbles fast, and the riffing comes in a dense, slashing swath, fronted by agony-steeped, serrated-edge snarls. The music also rings in tones of grief, and that has a powerful emotional effect, even though the rhythm section continue seizing attention. The drumming in particular is lights-out, though all the moods in the music are enveloping shades of gray.
The song is from the upcoming two-song digital EP Imperium/Plaga, which will be released on April 27th.
Get ready for singing, and some sharp shifts in style, both here and in the next two selections.
The style of music on display in “Nightstalker” usually isn’t my kind of thing these days, and when the pitch for the album tells us that it “takes us back to a time, somewhere in the early 80’s, when acts like Mercyful Fate, Satan, Death SS, Judas Priest, and Alice Cooper” were laying the foundations for a change in heavy music, that didn’t make me optimistic.
But goddamn, the album’s opening track completely hooked me in just about every way, from the enticing ring of the opening instrumental to one of the most immediately infectious heavy riffs I’ve heard all year and the hard-rocking beat that backs it. I even loved the high, wailing vocals (and the more sinister singing too), as well as the spooky keyboard accents. And the blazing and blistering guitar solo is glorious. Now I can’t get enough of the fucking thing. Go figure.
If you let the following player go, you’ll run through four more songs from this ten-track album, and goddamn they’re also great, collectively opening up a gold mine of riffs (some more sinister and menacing than others) and attention-grabbing soloing. You’ll also quickly discover that the vocals aren’t all singing. Shadows let a goblin into the studio too.
Turns out that the main songwriter of Shadows, Cris Silva (known here under the name John Shades), is also a fixture in the long-running Chilean black/thrash band Apostasy. But maybe you already knew that if you caught Shadows‘ debut EP Into the Nightmare two years ago.
The album is Out for Blood, and it’ll be released on May 19th by Sentient Ruin.
More singing ahead in Scheitan‘s “Lost in Time“. I confess that nostalgia played a big role in my choice of the song, because once upon a time I listened to a lot of gothic post-punk. I have almost no current knowledge about which bands are carrying that banner these days, but Scheitan strikes the old chord very well.
The gloomy torment comes through in the vocals, which register fairly low, and that’s all for the better. The big thumping beats do their viscerally compulsive work, and so does the ethereal ring, shimmer, and swirl of the stratospheric melodies. It all makes for a very catchy and suitably dark work (the lyrics are definitely dark).
I could have done without the video’s scenes of droopy-faced lovers in a rain-drenched car, which don’t go with the lyrics at all, but maybe that’s just me. Here is Scheitan‘s comment about what inspired the song:
The song is dedicated to the people of Ukraine. I wrote the lyrics for the song as the Russian tanks entered into the suburbs of Kyiv. Myself being a father I spent a lot of time thinking about having to take the decision to leave everyone and everything you love for a higher cause. I was thinking about the sacrifices president Zelenskyj made, at that time he must have been 100% sure of death but still he made the choice to stay. I also thought alot about all the Ukrainian soldiers who went to the frontlines, leaving their loved ones to face death. The lyrics say “I have been turning down the things I have desired”, the desire of most people is just to be with the ones they love – the ultimate sacrifice is to give all that up in exchange for the freedom and safety of other people.
I wasn’t familiar with Scheitan, but this stand-alone single is reportedly the first Scheitan track since the release of 1999’s Nemesis album on Century Media Records. Back in the early days I guess they were a black metal band. I hope there will be more of this current style of music.
DRUNK MOTHERFUCKERS (Greece)
I did say way up above that alcohol is not seasonal but is ever-present. What follows is what reminded me of that, and maybe I needed a reminder since I’ve been observing a sober April, with only a few minor slip-ups.
I have to admire a group who chose a name that puts it all out there for you. I’ve written about their music before, and have no doubt that alcohol does provide the fuel, but that doesn’t mean the music is some sloppy mess. Witness a new EP released a few months ago by FYC Records called… The Drunk Sessions.
Four of the five tracks (including a cover of Alice In Chains‘ “Would”) were first released in a 2009 acoustic EP named Drunk & Wasted. Those songs were re-mastered for this new release, and The Drunk Sessions also includes a previously unreleased jam session recorded during the winter of 2010. Its name is… “So Fucking Drunk“.
Father W has a strong, expressive voice with a good range, and one that suits this kind of dark amalgam of country/folk and crossroad blues. It’s soulful, stricken, and a bit delirious, and loose enough to sound alcohol-infused without stumbling. There’s also some dexterous picking in the songs that sounds equally soulful and stricken, leaping up above the gloom-cloaked strumming.
And yeah, these tend to be gloom-cloaked songs, where the booze leads to meditations about hell on earth in its various manifestations, though “Drunk & Wasted” does feel like the devil got in them, and the cover song is both bluesy and diabolical in its rendering, and includes a screaming and wailing electric-guitar solo.
The EP was released by FYC Records as a digital download, and on a limited run of CDs. I’ve also included a lyric video for the song “Again“.
FLORES Y FUEGO (Mexico)
Well, I’ve musically wandered all over the fucking place today, as you can tell. So it seemed just natural to end this collection with a new video for a hardcore punk song by a band out of Guadalajara.
I don’t know what precise events in Mexico inspired “Soy tu voz” (“I Am Your Voice”), though probably incidents of violence against women, but the song and the video connect pretty well here in the US, where theocrats in legislative and executive chambers and in judicial robes are trying to put women back in a place where some of the old photos in the video came from, useful as wombs and the less said by them the better.
The music is bleak but also defiant, and the screamed vocals by frontwoman Melisa are raw and enraged. It includes lively bass work, head-rattling drums, and a gripping solo, and those vocals send the message as it should be sent.
The song is the opening track from the band’s LP Altar, which was released by Pirates Press Records in July 2021. For those who don’t comprehend Spanish, I got Google to translate the lyrics and left them after the video. Google didn’t tell me what “yagas” means, but it might be “sisters”.
This cross that you carry sinks you and digs your grave.
Like a shadow stalks endlessly
Who does not own you feels entitled
To have you, without your consent
indifference rages you
And you have to pretend not to feel
But soon the fear will change sides
And it will be its end, and it will be its end
These yagas strengthen the desire to go out
From going out to fight, going out to tear
Everything in its path for those who are no longer.
Everything in its path for those who are no longer.