If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 100 times (probably closer to 200): I have another job whose demands are very unpredictable. It interfered with my ability to prepare a roundup yesterday, unexpectedly so for me — because I just fucking forgot about a big online meeting that had been scheduled for months (rude surprises have many causes). It started early and went on for 2 1/2 hours (come on, it takes time to coordinate production of pocket-sized fusion reactors!).
I thought about just pretending that today was Saturday and proceeding with a cross-genre roundup, but then thought again, and decided to stick with the usual plan and focus on the blacker arts today. Still, your creaky wagon won’t get stuck in any ruts – these selections will cause it to careen all over the en-thorned dirt road (or so I hope).
I decided to start with a quintet of songs from forthcoming releases and then turn to just one recent EP. The first of the advance tracks comes from the ninth album by the long-running Spanish band Dantalion (which my addled brain always tries to read as “dandelion”, though there’s nothing about their music that connects with such an image, unless the flower is dead).
“Novena Wake Begins” is a harrowing experience, made even more so by the lyrics. The wretchedness and agony that pour forth bloody from Sanguinist‘s vocals are frightening in their intensity. The song’s great roiling waves of melody are also powerfully distressing, like vast sonic tides of pain sweeping inland. The drumming is usually full-throttle, but briefly morphs into different patterns, as only a slight distraction from the dire ringing of the guitars, which then become more magisterial in their manifestations of downfall.
The song is from an album named Fatum, which will be released by Non Serviam Records on September 8th.
Next up is a well-made video for an exhilarating new single that I picked out from Rennie Resmini’s latest starkqeather SubStack column. He described it thusly:
“Raging in a similar hell as Hexis or Great Falls comes Satón. Mexican export of explosive blackened Am Rep lock grooves. What begun with more melodic hardcore and metal bent is twisting around itself into a gnarled, ugly mess. As Carrie White would say, ‘It’s beautiful.'”
Well, I can’t top the Carrie reference. What I can do is repeat that “Noni” is exhilarating… and interesting. Kind of ominous and vast at first, then hulking and hammering in its grooves and crazed in its riff-blizzards and screams. The music also tunnels like a grim drilling machine, pounds like sledgehammers, burns like a raging wildfire, and clobbers, screeches, and shrieks. All of that in less than three minutes.
“Noni” is from a forthcoming album, but I haven’t found its name or a release date. The video is published under the name of Zegema Beach Records.
ANTI-GOD HAND (Canada)
That Satón song isn’t the only one from Rennie’s SubStack that hooked me. This next one hooked me ever harder, because it’s so damned wild. The careening-wagon metaphor I’ve been using doesn’t work so well with this one; it’s more like a roller-coaster ride that suddenly lifts off and floats into the sky before landing on other rails way up there, not made by man.
It could have been called “Roller-Coaster of Light”, but instead bears the name “Barge of Light“. It sets the big hook in an unorthodox way, through the opening dance of sprite-like guitars. It sets another hook through the swirling nimbleness of the bass in the midst of swarms of searing sonic brilliance, clattering beats, and madhouse vocals.
It’s nova-like in its effects, which makes it all the more surprising when the music suddenly leaves the rails, allowing those guitar-sprites to dance again across dreamlike astral lanes. When it lands again, it wondrously soars, sweeps, and casts a spell… even though the drumming, the bass, and the throat-splitting shrieks are still very much in the mix… until the gorgeous finale.
Here’s what Rennie wrote about it:
“Anti-God Hand with a full length on the docket for late August. First preview track has multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Will Ballantyne joined by whirling dervish drummer Greg Fox and locked in an almost Atheist meets Cynic gone black metal ride. A little black gaze interlude interrupts the tapping cyclical riffing that opens “Barge of Light” and the song drifts into melodic climes while the most acidic vocals this side of Woewarden continue to offset the soothing mood.”
Ballantyne also had help from Colin Marston (Krallice, Indricothere, Gorguts, etc.), who mixed and mastered the album. The song is indeed from an album, named Blight Year, that will be released by American Dreams on August 25th. You’ll find a lot more interesting info about it in the text at Bandcamp.
MAZE OF TERROR (Peru)
Whenever I see that Maze of Terror have come out with something new I jump to it without fail, like being hit with a cattle prod. And even though I always expect to have my head spun around and blown off, this next song was still an eye-popper and a jaw-dropper. The insane guitar solo that begins the track produced that effect all by itself… and that’s just the beginning of the musical gauntlet of hellfire demon-thrash that “On Blood Remains” runs us through.
Switching up the tempos and drum patterns on a dime, anchored by subterranean bass undulations, and constantly superheated by maniacal vocals, the song discharges a plethora of fleet-fingered, teeth-bared riffs, some of them absolutely malignant and cruel, some of them violently berserk, some of them twisted and queasy, all of it interspersed with additional bursts of freaked-out soloing.
The track is taken from an EP named Into the Jaws of Terror, with a release date of July 20th via the Portuguese label Selvajaria Records.
EMINENTIA TENEBRIS (France)
To keep your wagon on a veering course I next chose “Ancient Stones Secrets“, a song from this prolific French solo project’s third album in four years. When you hear it you’ll probably understand why the album’s cover art (which is the focus of the song’s accompanying YouTube visualizer) combines the image of an ancient warrior confronting a warped castle under unearthly skies dominated by something like a wormhole spitting lightning as it turns.
The music is a heart-pounding alchemy of fierce black metal and dungeon synth that sets its sites on glory. The stately synths give the song an aura of medieval grandeur; the high, ecstatically flickering guitars create the electrifying wonder of lightning; the rapid bass pulse and the cracking and blasting drums, coupled with torrid screams, do their part to make your heart feel like bursting from your chest. But the soaring guitar solo may be the most glorious thing of all.
The song is from the upcoming album Rise of a New Kingdom, which will be out on August 4th via the Antiq label, who sums it up as “extreme melodic and fast epic black metal in the range of Véhémence, Dissection, Sacramentum, Sühnopfer….”
Now it’s time to venture deep into that one recent EP I promised. Entitled Metafyzika barbarstva, it came out two days ago and is the latest release by the Slovakian band Stangarigel, which is a duo consisting of Lesodiv (aka Adam S. of Malokarpatan and Remmirath notoriety) and vocalist/drummer Stalagnat.
I’ve endeavored to make today’s collection as a whole a twisting and turning affair, but this EP is itself a strangely twisting and turning experience all by itself, with surprises around every bend in the road.
The opener “Modré kryštalické sály” includes vocals that make one imagine the blood-congealing snarls and growls of a vampire in his crypt. It further includes waves of dense, murky, abysmal riffing rolling above piston-driven propulsion, and more feral but no less toxic-toned swarming around rocking grooves. Eerily glittering tones also pierce through the hallucinatory sonic fog — and just when you least expect it the band shift into a pagan folkloric interlude performed with old instruments, before taking flight through sparks like a coven of witches in ecstasy.
That whole song sounds powerfully supernatural and ancient. The follower, “Jazda preludov decembrovým nebom“, is a mystical creation too, but a stately one performed on organ-like keys, with wraiths swirling and gasping around them. The effect is magisterial but chilling, but after a pause this piece changes too, as the keys and strings begin to dart about, accompanied by wood-block percussion.
And then the EP closes with the long title song, in which the old spirits seem to rise from their crypts and caverns again, to frolic and to feed. Launched by a beautifully beguiling acoustic instrumental, the song moves into big booming grooves and glorious chords with a medieval resonance. It sounds almost like a freeing folk dance, but majestic as well (even though the vampire in his crypt still has the mic, venting his strangled snarls).
Of course, this song changes too, beginning to sound like a stately and elegant minuet in a grand hall (we’ve maybe moved forward a couple of centuries), but also racing to the hunt, drums hammering and guitars writhing in a grim and grievous whir. At the end, this time-traveling trip parts the veil, as if Samhain night has already arrived.
The record has been released on 12” vinyl by Medieval Prophecy Records. I haven’t seen a digital release yet, but hope for one eventually. (Thanks to Miloš for pointing me to it.)