Busy week, busy day, on the home front here, but just enough spare time to take a very quick spin through some bookmarked new music. Not entirely random choices, since I focused on two bands I already know I like and followed the recommendation of a trusted source in another instance, but also made one startling new discovery.
I have yet to be disappointed by the music of Winterherz (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a festival many years ago, introduced by Austin Lunn), and based on the first song from the new Waldgeflüster mini-album, he and his friends still aren’t about to let me down.
The brightness of the strummed chords and the liveliness of the tumbling drums at the outset of the song provide a welcome measure of beauty and hope, and the peals of hopefulness continue, even after the roiling riffage and wrenching screams and yells begin to blaze and the drums launch their barrage.
The music eventually comes in expansive tides of autumnal melancholy, but the rippling and ringing lead-guitar melody is still inspiring, even though the bleak words speak of perpetual failure and loss. When the drums briefly fall silent, splendor shines, and continues shining even when gloom-shadowed singing steps forward — but the singing rises in unbridled passion too as the song as a whole reaches maximum uplift.
As always, Waldgeflüster wears its heart on its sleeve. I suppose inveterate pessimists and cynics might not be moved by “Unter Bronzenen Kronen“, but still might appreciate the visceral effect of its surging energy.
The song is the title track of this new half-hour EP, which will be released by AOP Records on September 29th. The other three tracks are a re-imagining of one of the band’s own previous songs (“Herbst befiel das Land”) and covers of songs by Panopticon (“The Pit”) and Ben Howard (“Black Flies”).
SECRET POISON (?)
I thought this next track made for a fitting follow-up to that Waldgeflüster song. Its intensity is also sweeping and soaring, its shrieked vocals also tormented, and the drive train powerfully propulsive. To be sure, it doesn’t include the currents of hopefulness that I hear in “Unter Bronzenen Kronen” (its moods are more fiery and striving, yet beleaguered), but it’s still a high-octane heart-exploder.
The melodies sear in displays of high-flying, skies-on-fire extravagance, but they still don’t detract from the appeal of the heavy, bubbling bass tones or the pulse-quickening impact of the drumming. As blazing and brilliant as the music is, it does begin to morph, forcefully pulling the mood into territories of discordant confusion and despair.
The song is “Where Mysterious Flora Lurk And Advance“, and it’s an advance single from some forthcoming release by a mysterious new entity named Secret Poison. Take big gulps of air, and proceed….
PHANTOM WINTER (Germany)
Here’s another German band who’s a well-known and much-appreciated quantity around these environs, and the next song I’ve chosen (which comes with a fascinating lyric video) is a stunning first single from a new album named Her Cold Materials.
When you named a song “Flamethrowers” you create expectations, but Phantom Winter don’t depress the trigger right away. Instead they create heaving, hulking music, crushing and gloom-shrouded, albeit with fevers boiling and chimes tolling in the high end. Or maybe up there is where the flamethrowers are operating (and it certainly sounds like fires are burning in the vocalist’s acid-bathed throat).
The music towers, spacious and solemn and completely soul-scouring, but it does eventually become more ravaging as the band gear up the pile-drivers — and it also drifts away into soft and sorrowful notes, albeit with a ticking pulse and some big body blows in the mix. That’s all a prelude to the brutish clobbering, the ruthless sandpaper abrasion, and the bleak quavering melody of the next segment, which in turn is a prelude to an elevation — a rise into splendor, which is eventually chewed to pieces by a giant excavator operating in the low end.
The new album, inspired by Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials novel cycle, will be released in October by a German label called This Charming Man.
Such is the persistent cultural effect of Hollywood, and some years of my own living off and on in Los Angeles, that I’m always stupidly surprised when I come across a band from L.A. whose music is pitch-black and ice-cold. And here it’s happened again, because Secrelict is indeed from L.A.
As one hint of what you’re in for, I’ll quote what Rennie wrote when he linked me to this next song: “Portal worship with additional vocal vomit grit.” Here are a few more hints:
As this thing begins, you may feel like your brain is sizzling in a hot pan as something gruesome and gargantuan roars and wails at you to keep still so you’ll be evenly browned. It’s ghastly, and it doesn’t really get any better. The rapid patter of the drums and the slash of the cymbals sound so far away that they might be in the next county (or a dungeon on the other side of your crumbling castle). The quivering screech of the guitar solo sounds a bit closer, but that’s not a good thing, because it sounds like something that has completely lost its mind.
The song is a new single named “Desiccate“. I see that it follows an EP released by Secrelict just last month. I’ll have to wait to steel my nerves before seeing what that one is all about.