As usual, I have far more new music I want to recommend from this week that’s now ending than I have time to write about today. If I play my cards right, and the creeks don’t rise, I can spread them out over three posts, including another roundup on Saturday and Shades of Black on Sunday. That will help, though I’ll still fall short of being comprehensive. Here’s what I picked to start off:
SPIRIT ADRIFT (U.S.)
When you see a song named “Barn Burner” you expect… well… a barn burner. Or in this case, based on the lyrics and the video, it’s more likely a church burner, or a flaming pyre of people who bought and sold deified lies. And yes indeed, the song is a muscle-moving born burner.
photo by Wombat Fire
It’s got a great, fire-bright opening riff that puts it in the category of classic hard rock and heavy metal, backed by some beefy bass work and clobbering drums. When the riffing starts to jitter and jab, Nate Garrett‘s voice enunciates the words in gritty wails. The song also includes some slithery reptilian soloing, another solo that swirls and brays, and both a mid-section and a fast-chugging finale that are made for headbanging.
I’m not sure what the right catch-phrase for this is — red meat for a rocker? ear candy for the evil-minded? — but it definitely is damned catchy.
It’s the latest single from an album named Ghost At The Gallows that will be out on August 18th via Century Media.
Obviously, I didn’t turn my nose up at a song that’s less extreme than most of what we traffic in here at NCS, but I did feel the need to stick my nose right away into something more belligerent and blistering.
You might not think that’s what I’ve done, based on the slow, moody, and slightly hallucinogenic opening phase of this next song, but be patient. Eventually, “故郷で死ぬ男 – Kokyou De Shinu Otoku” pulls off the velvet gloves and starts battering and burning, combining furious tremolo’d riffing, clattering and clobbering drums, and screamed vocals (in Japanese) that seem intent on searing the flesh right off your tender face.
But the song is a long one, and so it affords room for the Seek trio to pull the music down (with dismal clanging riffs and rumbling bass lines) into emotionally bruising bleakness, and even deeper still into desolation with soft, brittle picking. Backed by a militaristic snare pattern, the music starts to softly seethe, building toward an experience that towers and sweeps in the scale of its catastrophe. And shit, those vocals are shattering, leaving no holds barred.
There’s no hope to be found here either, but it’s a sonic and emotional powerhouse of blackened hardcore (and a few other ingredients) that definitely warrants attention, and the video is also quite good. The song is the title track from Seek‘s new album (which translates as The Man Dies in His Hometown). It’s their first album, despite Seek forming more than 20 years ago. It will be released by via Silent Pendulum Records on June 23rd.
THE CIRCLE (Germany)
The next song is a longer than average one too, but wastes no time throwing the listener into a storm of hyper-speed percussion, turbocharged bass, sweeping symphonics, and vortexual guitars — announced by a scream that goes on and on.
Yes, “Ashes and Fading Tides” is immediately a storm, but as the title portends, the music sounds stricken with intense grief. It’s also a tragedy that theatrically plays out on a big stage, rendering a pageant that also includes choral vocals that extravagantly soar, as well as hauntingly soulful singing, harrowing growls, and scalding shrieks, plus bursts of jolting riffage,and drums that sound like bunker-busting bombs going off — as well as a moody and mystical instrumental mid-section in which violin and viola play prominent roles, which then carry forward along with a momentous bass as the song builds again in wrenching power toward a cataclysmic finale.
The song is the closing track from this Hamelin-based band’s new album Of Awakening, which will be released by AOP Records on August 18th.
If you’re like me you might want to catch your breath after that last song, but make it quick, because the Ukrainian band svrm are up next with a surprise EP named … а смерть ввійшла у тебе вже давно that was just released yesterday.
It’s just two songs long, but they are powerful. The EP’s title is a quote from “Менi здається, що живу не я…” by Vasyl Stus (1938-1985), and all the lyrics in both tracks are poems by the same author. The Font of All Human Knowledge tells us (here) that in addition to being widely regarded as one of Ukraine’s foremost poets, he was also an active member of the Ukrainian dissident movement during the Soviet era. “For his political convictions, his works were banned by the Soviet regime and he spent 13 years in detention until his death in Perm-36 — then a Soviet forced labor camp for political prisoners….” No wonder why, in the current terrible time in Ukraine, svrm would turn to his works for inspiration.
The two songs are denominated only by Roman numerals. The melody of “I” is a widescreen epic, panoramic in its sweep and anguished in its mood, though the piston-like pulse of the drums and the heavy throb of the bass give it a viscerally affecting drive-train, and snarled words give it a savage face.
“I” includes a sudden and much softer digression fashioned from piano, strings, and shimmering synths, which sounds like a melancholy remembrance — a brief break before the vibrating guitar reverberations and the harrowing vocals begin to burn and rise up, quelled at last by mournful symphonic strings.
The piano, echoing as if recorded in a grand hall, takes the lead immediately in the second song, but the music swells in wrenching intensity. The piano joins in, underscoring the sheer heartbreak in the music, but after a grim guitar bridge svrm go on the attack, hammering and blazing. To be sure, the music is still stricken… but defiant… and ultimately glorious.
The EP is a name-your-price download at Bandcamp. If you like what you hear and can afford it, show some support.