Jun 252023

Yesterday my spouse left me home alone for most of the day (the feline creatures were still there but they mostly left me alone too). That allowed me the time to do some deep diving in a search for music to write about today. Purely by coincidence, much of what I found turned out to be… nightmarish. Some of the songs make the skin crawl, others blister it, some do both, and almost none of it seems connected to what passes for reality in our world.

What I chose adds up to an unsettling but electrifying trip of significant proportions — three individual tracks (two from forthcoming records and one standalone single) and then a plunge into the depths of longer-form madness with three complete new albums and a new EP. Hopefully you won’t find this an endurance test but instead a relentless journey of mind-altering discovery.

To get things started before too much of the day gets away, I’ve divided it into two Parts, launching the individual tracks now so I can then turn back to finishing the much larger second installment, which will come later today



Let’s begin the nightmares with the first new music in almost 20 years from Imperial Crystalline Entombment, a U.S. band whose current lineup is a bit obscure to me. In their guise as I.C.E. they toss around references to “the Astral Anti-God Råvaskieth”, “lycanthropic banshee hordes”, “convulsing frigid annihilation”, the skinning of children under arctic auroras, “apocalyptic blizzards”, and lyrics such as these:

Spirit thunder, blizzard hunger,
Murdering, to make us stronger.
Flash of light, aurora bright,
Demon! Enter my sight!

The band’s new label describes the music as “a subzero blast of addictive and fucking unhinged savagery”. The new song, “Into A Frigid Bleak Infinity“, lives up to that billing. Propelled by drumming that accelerates to lightspeed and also methodically hammers, it discharges wild riffs that blaze and writhe, accompanied by truly lycanthropic screams of mad ferocity.

The song also delivers jarring jolts and sizzling tendrils of abysmal melody, and it ends with a brief but chilling hallucination, but this is mainly — as advertised — an apocalyptic blizzard that takes the breath away.

The name of the new I.C.E. album is Ancient Glacial Resurgence. It will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on September 1st.




WYRGHER (Switzerland)

The latest starkweather SubStack article by Rennie Resmini, which I referred to yesterday as well, reminded me that I needed to pay attention to another of the three new albums announced for a July 28 release by I, Voidhanger Prosductions. This one, entitled Panspermic Warlords, is the work of the Swiss duo Wyrgher — multi-instrumentalist Menetekel (Ungfell, Ateiggär and many other Swiss bands) and drummer Voidgaunt. Here is what Menetekel has explained about the record’s conceptual themes:

“This album addresses the idea that all life was intentionally spread throughout the universe by an alien species. The war caste of the aforementioned species have traversed space for millions of years in giant spaceships, while lying dormant in cryogenic sleep. These ‘panspermic warlords’ plant their seed of life on uninhabited planets, an act not conducted with noble intentions, but rather for the sole purpose of inhabiting as much of the universe as possible with their seed. In this way, the creation of life is equated to an act of war. People and civilizations that arise from this process are thus exposed to an existence that is inherently futile.”

The lyrics of the first advance track, “The Weeping of A Blazing Rock“, vividly describe the blinding descent of spears of stone “through skies of ancient barren cold”, delivering “obliterating grace – wondrous, mystical wrath”.

There’s a high-speed avalanche happening in the music from the start, but from the start it’s the weird mewling melody and macabre gagging expulsion that provide the hint of nightmares to come. The drum-and-bass riot periodically gets control of itself, allowing the strange and disturbing guitar melodies to glisten as they ring and writhefrom channel to channel and the vocals to imperiously loom.

You’ll see that the song is packed with eerie, elevating, and exhilarating twists and turns, including bursts of progginess and thrashiness, but it also inflicts ruinous trauma and spawns visions of horrifying grandeur. All the performances are riveting, and thankfully the song is produced in a way that allows each of them to stand out.





That new starkweather SubStack article also alerted me to the latest releases by Asunder, a one-man project that claims its location in Shiyan, China. Those releases consist of an album named The Loss Of Innocence (Final Version) and a long single called “A Crude Imitation“, both of them revealed within the last two weeks. Here’s what Rennie wrote about the music:

“Long form black metal songs that are at turns majestic and punishing. There are more than a few guitar phrasings having folk rhythms used to nefarious ends. The bass tone is gnarly and rattling in Cronos/Venom glory. These songs are absolute riff-o-ramas that don’t follow conventional verse/chorus structure and this keeps a forward musical flow. Things are kept in constant motion in an epic journey.”

I’ll limit my own reactions to the new single, “A Crude Imitation“, because I haven’t yet delved into the album.

The first two songs in this first part of a big collection were nightmares of the blistering variety. “A Crude Imitation” is one of the things I had in mind when I wrote that the collection also included music that could make flesh crawl, especially at the beginning when the guitars wail sky-high above catastrophic percussion and ghastly growls, but also when the chords moan and the arpeggios become seizures of pain in the midst of a stalking march.

This is a long song, and a labyrinthine one, and it blisters too. The frightening roars transform into screams; the riffing seems to set the skies on fire; but mesmerizing guitar instrumentals surface, and so do manifestations of imperious magnificence and phases of head-hooking heavy-metal riffing. Rennie is also right in observing that the song further includes gripping folk-like melodies that seem to connect with the project’s homeland.

Relentlessly elaborate and head-spinning, “A Crude Imitation” is anything but crude, nor an imitation of anything else. And while it is in many respects nightmarish, it’s also just fucking glorious.


 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.