Dear friends and complete strangers, greetings to you on another diēs Sāturnī. I must be brief today because of an Event I must attend, which begins soon and will extend until the stars come out, when the congregants will have to see each other by firelight.
That Event continues tomorrow, beginning early on dies Solis and again proceeding past nightfall, and so don’t be surprised if my next usual round-up of new music, the blacker one, is also brief or goes missing altogether, even if I don’t fall into the fire.
Denver-based Wayfarer‘s next album, American Gothic, is said to serve as “a funeral for the American dream”. “Caked in dust, and buried deep in blood and gunpowder, it paints a brutal and beautiful portrait” — so says Profound Lore, which will release the album on October 27th. “What we have now is a world full of oil drillers, and railroad barons. Cattle thieves and company men. This is the new American Gothic”. So says the band.
Along with these announcements came a video for a new album track named “False Constellation“.
Through mandolin-like ringing, guitar-twanging, and sweeping riffage and keys, the band bring in the old western-America visions of an open range and high peaks. Through hammering drums, boiling guitars, and scalding howls, they channel the rapacity of the industrialists whose undaunted greed helped ruin all the limitless horizons, and the rage their depredations provoke. Through ponderous, heaving chords, wailing arpeggios, and haunted singing (reminiscent of gloomy post-punk), they mourn what was lost (including lives lost to the gun) through the corruption and confining of the Old West.
Of course, there’s as much myth as history in this musical telling, and maybe some history left out, such as the genocide of indigenous populations, but that remains to be seen. Yet the musical telling as I’ve narrated it based on my own imagination isn’t necessarily the true story of the song — the lyrics speak of the death of a nation, of its possibilities and ideals, and so the messaging may be (and probably is) far more expansive than the specific events of the 18th and early 19th centuries that the band call out in the quotation above.
We don’t yet have the entire portrait of American Gothic, just this one song, but it certainly succeeds in building anticipation for the full picture. Everything about the song rings and reverberates, everything also shrouded in shadows, and it’s mesmerizing. So is the video.
P.S. I’ve learned that the video is unavailable in some parts of the world, so I’ve also included the Bandcamp stream.
The shadow-cast moods of Wayfarer‘s song induced me to follow it with this next one from the forthcoming third album by the Swiss band Ashtar (the principal work, and maybe the solo work, of Witch N), which will draw listeners both deeper into gloom and deeper into black metal.
The gritty guitars seem to moan in agony; the backline creates a staggering momentum heavy enough to shiver the ground; and the vocals are unnerving in their panther-shrieked intensity. It also includes a strummed guitar-pulse, the strong pulse of a bass, and melodies that rise up in vast, towering waves of grief and despair, as well as mournful, glistening violin strings that build toward wrenching fevers… and ultimately stand alone at the end, pouring out their anguish.
The song becomes more than a little breathtaking in its monumental scale, and wholly immersive in its portrayal of doomed catastrophe. The song’s name, “The Submerged Empire“, also made it seem like a fitting follow-on to Wayfarer‘s track.
The album’s name is Wandering Through Time, and it was released just yesterday by Eisenwald. I didn’t make time to listen to it before the release or since then, but this one song is a big tempter to do so soon.
HOUSE OF FLOWERS (Ukraine)
I could have gone in one of two directions at this point, either remaining in blackened musical darkness or stepping out into something more fierce and fiery, or at least brighter in its moods. The Dnipro-based band House of Flowers solved the conundrum for me with their debut EP (at least I think it’s their debut), I Will Dissolve.
On the one hand, these five songs often become unmistakably depressive, not least because of the torment expressed through both harmonized crooning and ragged, cracked-voice howls, but also because of the sullen clawing of the growly bass, the desolate beseeching murmur and moan of a guitar, or the funereal stagger of the drums. But on the other hand, there are often places when the guitar beautifully rings and sizzles above the big throb below, even if it’s a plaintive ringing we hear.
The songs also include vivid vibratory and slashing riffs and swirling leads that seem both seeking and resilient (or at least not ready to give up yet) and punchy rocking grooves that’ll get you moving. And even when slower and more forlorn, the music does have spellbinding power.
The EP’s strongest song “Adrift in Silence” (though all of them are quite good), seems to straddle these lines — it grieves but also fights back; it’s trilling guitar melody enthralls; the lilting, clarion-like instrumental within it is beautifully melancholy; but it also forges ahead with gritty power. You get a similar sense in the captivating closer, simply named “Outro” (but it’s a hell of a lot more than a conventional outro track, and is well-connected to the music of “Adrift in Silence“).
The Ukrainian label Neformat Family, which released the record yesterday, describes it as one that “combines a strong post-metal foundation with hints of doom, focusing on the practices of well-known teams Fall Of Efrafa, Amenra or Cult Of Luna.”