SEEN AND HEARD ON A BANDCAMP FRIDAY: BLACKBRAID, AN AXIS OF PERDITION, THE INFERNAL SEA, CLAUSTRUM, RANNOCH
Lots of people keep wish-lists in anticipation of making purchases on Bandcamp Fridays, when more of the money will go to the labels and bands. I have friends whose lists include releases from three or more years ago, or from even older albums that have only recently become available on Bandcamp. So it’s not as if people are just now looking for things to buy, much less cloely examining releases that have launched on Bandcamp just barely in time for today.
Still, on days like this I feel a compulsion to make new recommendations, even if they might drive a lot of you (or at least your bank accounts) crazy. I should add that I noticed most of what’s below before today. I just couldn’t bring myself to do more than quickly skim the 300+ Bandcamp alerts and other e-mails that landed in our in-box since midnight last night. I picked a couple of things out of that ridiculous flood, but I have no idea what else might be frothing in there.
Obviously, I could have done much more today if I’d had enough time. So I’ll have to continue tomorrow, when maybe you’ll be tempted to add to your lists for the next Bandcamp Friday.
It’s fair to say that the rise of this indigenous black metal project into the consciousness of metalheads (or at least those with a taste for blackened arts) has been meteoric. The subject-matter themes of the music probably account for some of the attention, but the strength of the music would carry it far even if the themes were less important. It was thus a nice surprise to discover the debut of a lyric video for a new Blackbraid song a couple days ago.
Prepare for… gripping tribal beats, gloomy strummed chords, savage snarls and screams, and electrifying melodic leads that cry out in stricken passion. Thanks to a very heavy bass, the song has a big booming undercurrent, and the riffing becomes grim and determined too, sometimes like a beleaguered march. But it’s the soaring and swirling leads, ringing clear, that might make the most dramatic and head-hooking impression — though the segments of the song when the music races into battle make an exhilarating impression too.
At nearly 14 minutes long, “Moss Covered Bones on the Altar of the Moon” is an extravagant experience, but there’s never a dull moment. It will appear on Blackbraid‘s second album Blackbraid II, to be self-released on July 7th. Adrian Baxter made the wonderful cover art.
AN AXIS OF PERDITION (UK)
Near the end of last month this band’s album The Ichneumon Method (And Less Welcome Techniques) turned 20 years old. To commemorate the occasion, An Axis of Perdition released a song called “Chained In The Damnation Asylum”, which they say “was amputated from the final album for reasons best not dwelt upon”.
It got a mixing and mastering job by Saulius Bielskis (of Haeiresis, Velemara and Sisyphean), and came to us embellished with artwork “drawn from the same sludgeheap of dysfunctional Photoshopery that spawned the original sleeve, though we have felt obliged to begrime it further in order to smear away some of the pixellation, which is hardly a good look in 2023”.
Prepare for… a song that doesn’t sound dated at all… an experience in bombastic bomb-throwing, berserk guitars that seem in a perpetual state of writhing and screaming convulsion, and vocals that sound like a convocation of enraged demons that have completely lost their minds. Grand chords elevate the music, and groaning chords pull it into a trough of oppression and agony, but mainly it sounds like a conflagration in a hellish madhouse — in the midst of a warzone. In retrospect, the song was very well named.
This is the kind of terror that your adrenal glands will feed on… so feed them!
THE INFERNAL SEA (UK)
Here’s another welcome surprise, at least for those who welcome musical visions of Hell on Earth. In late March The Infernal Sea released a single named “Apostle of Gehenna” (reviewed here), and today they’ve dropped another one — “Elixir of Death“.
Prepare for… sinister strummed chords and humongous rocking grooves, ear-slashing gargoyle snarls and growly yells that expel chilling lyrics about religious cults, plus a guitar solo that sounds like beautiful black sorcery. It’s feral, carnal, stripped-down, and deliciously filthy food for your reptile brain… so feed it!
Both songs seem to be for an upcoming EP. The cover art for this one was made by Rob Gould.
I didn’t know about Claustrum, and you might not either, so allow me to paste this excerpt from a more extensive introduction at Bandcamp:
Claustrum is an old school death metal trio born someplace between Trieste and Gorizia, in north-eastern Italy, featuring members from Grime, Affliction Vector, Fierce and Dromme, all brought together by a feral passion for the death metal of old. Drawing their inspiration from sci-fi, horror, authors like Poe and Lovecraft and the misery of human existence, in their debut, self-titled album Claustrum delivers some crypt-reeking, disturbing death metal, heralding the impending Apocalypse.
The first single from Claustrum’s debut album, “Zombi Rats“, bears out those words. Yes, it’s reeking of rot and does seem like the herald of Apocalypse. But if you’re anticipating some kind of crawling death-doom, what you’ll get instead is a bone-smasher deluxe, wreathed in crazed tremolo fretwork, segmented by spasms of blast-beat obliteration and hornet-swarm riffing, as well as fiery gallops and eerie episodes of spectral melody.
The guttural vocals are ghastly, as they should be for this kind of inhuman horror. And as icing on the cake, the song includes a fantastically weird dual-channel guitar solo. Further, the song includes facets I haven’t even touched upon, making the song a twisting and turning affair that will keep your throat in its slavering jaws all the way through.
Claustrum‘s self-titled debut album will be released by the Unorthodox Emanations death metal imprint of Avantgarde Music on June 9th. The fantastic artwork is by Davide “Dartworks” Mancini.
Last but certainly not least we come to a new song from Rannoch, a progressive death metal band who’ve been favorites of our site for many years (if you need proof, just look at all the articles collected behind this link).
The new song, “Daguerreotype“, bears the name of a fascinating photographic process developed near the mid-1800s (about which you can learn more here). It required so much care and time that even though the imagery was often exquisitely detailed, the process fell into disuse only a couple of decades later in favor of faster and less expensive technology.
As for the music, prepare for… a hair-raising, body-bruising, and mind-bending experience. It strikes at high speed with typhoon-like power, but the wildly darting and swirling fretwork is as bamboozling in their rampant convolutions as the song is thunderously bludgeoning (to mix the metaphors, there are times when the band throw you under a pile-driver, and then an overheating jackhammer).
The drumming is often thoroughly jaw-dropping, the low end heaves like a leviathan and crushes like sledgehammers, and the vocals sound just as crazed as all the spidery fretwork. The moving parts are many, and their intricately mapped pathways are relentlessly twisting and turning. One of those twists will carry you into a magnificent guitar solo that somehow makes even the previous guitar freakouts seem slower by comparison. Perhaps needless to say, the moods of the music are just as fast-changing as the instrumental kaleidoscope).
The song is from an album named Conflagrations that will be released by Willowtip Records on July 21st. The striking cover art was created by by Kishor Haulenbeek.
That Claustrum song had me by the throat while whispering sweet, rotten nothings in my putrid ears.
Good turn of phrase. 🙂