Here we are again, ready to blacken the Sabbath with some new things you might not have heard, the kind of things that would ruin most people’s days but I hope will turn yours into warming bonfires. Well, maybe not warming, more like incinerating, but still welcome I hope. What’s ahead is a new stand-alone single, a couple of tracks from a forthcoming album, and two just-released full-lengths.
Neill Jameson has made a name for himself as a music writer, often wise-cracking, irreverently cynical, and creatively foul-mouthed but with a finely-honed and widely respected taste that makes lots of people pay attention to his recommendations of underground gems. We’ve benefited from that here ourselves, usually through his year-end lists for our site but also at other times when he’s been moved to send something our way.
But before he made a name for himself in those ways, he and his band Krieg made a name for themselves in the annals of U.S. black metal. Krieg‘s musical output, beginning with their debut album in 1998 (recently reissued by The Devil’s Elixirs Records), ran in a hot, year-after-year torrent through 2018, mostly splits and EPs but with 7 more albums also scattered along the way. Then there was a four-year pause before 2022 brought forth a split with Crucifixion Bell, which demonstrated in electrifying fashion that although Time may have aged Krieg‘s members, it definitely hasn’t dulled their knives or moderated their musical savagery.
And now we’ve got a new Krieg single named “Bone Whip,” which is captured on one of those flexi-discs in the new issue of Decibel magazine (the one with Mizmor on the cover, available for purchase here). As disclosed at Decibel’s site, the song was recorded during the sessions for Krieg‘s next album (the name of which is Ruiner), but won’t be included on that album.
For those who don’t have the flexi-disc, Decibel also made the song available for sharable streaming, and so you’ll get the chance to hear it below. I could probably just repeat that comment about what Time hasn’t taken away from Krieg, but Time has added something too.
The music is grim and mean, the vocals incinerating, the drumming stripped-down and feral, but as the blistering and blazing riffing rises and falls it seems to channel beleaguered and desperate moods too, a feeling that comes through even more strongly when the lead guitar rings and wails. It’s angry music, but an anger born from frustration and loss, and not much hope for a brighter day to come. (Well, that’s how I hear it.)
Ruiner will be released by Profound Lore Records, and it seems likely that will happen later this year.
My pal DGR has been known to label some album-opening songs “barriers to entry”, not because they turn you off to the idea of going further but because they’re so damned good you get stuck on them, listening repeatedly. “Волчья Несыть (Wolfish Hunger)” is exactly that kind of song.
This track is the first one on Deathmoor‘s new album Котлован / The Pit, which they released just two days ago but which seems to have been gestating a very long time. I listened to it half a dozen times, in fairly rapid succession, before forcing myself to see what would come next.
The drumming is a key reason why I kept listening. It sounds loose rather than machine-precise, and for most of the song it’s on a mad tear, but its athleticism (for want of a better word) is jaw-dropping. Even when the song slows down for the final three minutes and the bass plays a more prominent role, the drumming is remarkable in a different way.
The song has a slower opening phase too, one in which the heavy murmur of the bass and the witchiness of the guitars builds intrigue before the electrifying main onslaught begins. And it really is electrifying. Along with the turbocharged drumming, the shrill dissonance of the guitars and the scalding acid of the vocals seize attention, and the song seizes new attention when the band drive the music into a breathtaking conflagration in which the guitars viciously swarm and swirl like exultant sirens, the bass surges like a frantic and infectious pulse, the drums erupt in astonishing fills, and the voice screams as if possessed by vampire spirits.
But let’s not forget those last three minutes. They’re completely unexpected, but an exciting early sign of how multi-faceted the band’s talents and interests are. There, the music becomes menacing and mesmerizing, like a dream of death. As mentioned, the bass-line plays a key role, the guitars dissonantly ring and chime again, and the drummer finds inventive new ways of making his presence known. The sounds are still abrasive, and there’s something dismal about the mood too, but I’d go so far as to say that it brings in the influence of psychedelia, viewed through an occult lens.
I did eventually push on deeper into The Pit. No surprise, the drumming remains an almost non-stop fireworks display, even when they go off in less riotous and more measured and nuanced ways, and the prog-influenced bass also continues seizing attention in less extravagant but no less captivating fashion. There’s also almost no relent in the blistering fury of the vocals, and the band continue to intertwine contrasts in the guitars, between the fuzzed-out buzz of the rhythm guitar and the piercing (yet frequently mangled) tones of the lead.
What does change from song to song, and within them, are the moods, ranging from dire, deleterious, and dismal sensations to sounds of deranged hallucination and frightening majesty. In these tracks, all of which are longer than average, the band show a penchant for establishing phrases and then repeating them in cycles, but interspersing them with significant variations (including some acoustic and keyboard features and clean singing that puts me in mind of dark post-punk), and thus they’re able to both hypnotize and pop eyes open almost simultaneously.
They also again save their biggest surprises for the ending of songs — absolutely do not miss the closing of “Паралич (Paralysis)“, and you’ll encounter another one, an elegant one, in the gloomy but enthralling title track that closes the album.
Deathmoor bring lots of different influences seamlessly into play besides black metal, including the afore-mentioned prog, psychedelia, and post-punk, plus aspects of post-metal and hints of noirish jazziness. The results of all this combine into a fiendishly inventive album that’s relentlessly head-spinning and wholly captivating.
As mentioned above, the album has been long-gestating. Deathmoor‘s last album came out in 2015, and the Bandcamp page for this new one says that all the music was “improvised & recorded in January 2013” and the vocals recorded in autumn 2020. I’m very glad the clouds of these last few years cleared away long enough to permit the release of this fantastic record, which I’m confident would be on my personal year-end list if I had the patience to make one.
(Huge thanks to Miloš for the link to this album.)
PORTA NIGRA (Germany)
I’ve made clear my attraction to metal albums that draw their inspiration from the manifold horrors of the First World War. There aren’t a lot of them, compared to albums that bellow on about Satan, gore, and the un-dead, but I’ve rarely been disappointed by them, which could be nothing more than coincidence but might not be. Now we have another one of these comparative rarities on the way, a new album named Weltende by the German band Porta Nigra.
If you’re familiar with their previous releases, you already know they’re fascinated by the so-called era of the fin de siècle, the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th. Fin de siècle was the name of their first album, and their next one, Kaiserschnitt, carried their musical history forward, but with something of a digression happening (both thematically and lyrically) on the third one, Schöpfungswut. The newest one, as already noted, dives back into history. As guitarist/songwriter Tobias (aka Gilles de Rais) explains:
“With Weltende, we did again what we prefer the most – time travelling. Our destination of choice was the troubled period before the dawn of the monstrous sin of the 20th century – the Great War. An art called expressionism gave hints of the abyss that the European continent and its citizens would get thrown into. Especially authors like Georg Heym, Jakob van Hoddis, Georg Trakl, or Gottfried Benn would paint in their poems with drastic metaphors of war, death, and decay a picture of a moribund world overpopulated by lunatic and doomed souls. Many of those young men would not grow old and never be able to live a life beyond their apocalyptic visions. This album, for which we respectfully borrowed a handful of ideas, is dedicated to them and their legacy.”
And there’s this from vocalist André Meyrink:
“This album transports the very aspects of war and what war causes to you mentally quite perfect. It is shocking, fanatic, dramatic, and depressing in equal measure and almost devoured me. Definitely no easy-listening stuff, but an album that grows and grows like the horrors of martial destruction.”
In this past week the band revealed the second single from Weltende (I hadn’t yet heard the first one). Named “Die himmlische Revolution“, it’s a big, full-tilt bruiser, relentlessly jabbing and jolting, but laced with gritty militaristic growls, cracked-voice howls, and strident cries, as well as the kind of skittering, squirming, and shrieking fretwork that does channel madness.
Even more madness blooms when the drums start blasting, what might be keyboards inject urgent tension, and the guitars flare into high-flown cascades of fire.
Below I’ve also included a stream of the previously revealed “Götterblut“. You join it in media res, thrown headlong into an extravagant musical conflict that’s even more chaotic than what happens in the newer single. But frenzied twists and turns do ensue, beginning with a moody yet magical guitar solo and another that sounds wildly exultant. The song also reinforces the impression that Porta Nigra have resurrected some of the “quirkiness” (for want of a better term) that marked their debut album.
Weltende is set for international release on July 28th by Soulseller Records.
As you’ve probably noticed if you come slumming here on a regular basis, I often pick selections from recommendations by internet pen-pals Rennie Resmini and Miloš. I rarely have time to delve into everything I see from them, but when both of them land on the same release, I go there without fail — which is what happened with the last choice in today’s collection, a new album by Zigota.
I had already listened to the album’s opening track yesterday after receiving a link from Miloš, and based on that had resolved to eventually explore the rest of this June 24 release. And then this morning I saw the following words on Rennie‘s starkweather SubStack, and “eventually” became “right now”:
“Lithuanian one man black metal act Zigota makes its spiteful return. Self loathing, drug addiction, near death experiences, urban despair, occultism are but a few subjects on the docket for Exaltation. View this as the black metal soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream – take your pick the Selby Jr novel or Aronofsky’s film adaptation. Sure, the Mansell/Kronos Quartet original soundtrack is tough to beat, but, face it, it has been beaten to death. While Zigota may not reach such lofty heights, Exaltation plumbs the depths of despair with grim authenticity. Whirling dervish cyclical riffing, jackhammer rhythms, wandering bass lines, old scratch intoning the evil that men do.”
Oh, if I had any sense I’d just let that paragraph be the sole preview here, but I have more cents in my pocket than sense, so I’ll add this:
The album is a roller-coaster ride of track lengths — a pair that each tops 10 minutes to begin and end it; another long one in fifth place; and a couple in the two-minute range. The music is a roller-coaster ride too, but one where the elevated tracks are coming apart, the thrill-seekers thrown screaming into the air, headed for a terrifying descent.
Or, to put it more conventionally, the longer songs are loaded with twists and turns — of pacing, of mood, of instrumental patterns, even of vocalizations (with a couple of chilling samples appearing in place of the horrid growls). They do provide head-twisting, up-and-down thrills, often elaborate in their composition and visceral in their propulsive might, but these are thrills fueled by fear.
Which is to say (again) that the music is often very scary. Even the softest phases, of the long songs (as well as the two short songs), where you’ve bottomed-out before the next ascent, are chilling. At the heights, sweeping panoramas come into view, but the music itself seems to tell you, even then, that crashing ruin lies swiftly ahead.