The time I have available for NCS activity today is rapidly slipping away, so this roundup will be relatively short — just three new songs — but I wanted to jump on these while they’re still “hot off the presses”.
Krieg haven’t been moribund since the release of their last album of new songs, 2014’s Transient. They’ve filled the intervening years with splits, compilations, and shorter releases, and we got the “Bone Whip” flexi-disc single just last month. But at last there’s a new Krieg album on the October horizon, and yesterday brought the first streaming single, “Solitarily, A Future Renounced”.
photo by Kassandra Carmona
Our friend Neill Jameson, Krieg‘s everlasting frontman, introduced the song this way:
“Thematically and sonically this song is meant to pull myself back through almost thirty years of whatever you want to call it, my life’s work I suppose, to the moment when I was sitting in my room listening to Pentagram over and over and deciding that this was how I planned to shape, break and rebuild my life. There are very obvious nods to the Norse bands of the second wave, which is supposed to be taboo for American bands, but I’ve really given up caring about the rulebook written by what amounts to social clubs. This is the black metal I wanted to hear when I was sixteen, finally given life twenty-eight years later.”
In a way, those comments are kind of startling, given the significance of what Krieg have already accomplished since the release of their debut album in 1998. But Neill isn’t known for shading the truth, so reading that he and his bandmates have finally made the kind of album he wanted to hear when he was 16 creates elevated expectations.
More tangibly, we have this new song. It does have a strong connection to Nordic black metal, with the riffs rolling forward in extravagant, searing waves of sound over blasting drums and screams of cauterizing intensity. The guitars are piercing in their tone, frantic in their swirling vibrations, and desperate in their mood. A lead guitar surfaces, slowly wailing a lament through the sonic sleet-storm, like an apparition, or a lone wolf in the midst of slaughtered kin.
The intensity of the fire-and-ice music and the shattering vocals is unrelenting, enough to take a listener’s breath away, though the beats do shift into a hammering groove, and the lead guitar shifts the mood, spiraling upward into magnificence, like the peals of an ancient horn, both haunting and resilient. The song creates elevated expectations for the album all by itself.
The name of Krieg‘s new album is Ruiner. It was recorded and mixed by guitarist A. Poole, and was mastered by Dan Lowndes at Resonance Sound. The cover art is the work of Rob Sheyder. It has a release date of October 13th via Profound Lore, and pre-orders are open now. (Decibel is also releasing a very limited vinyl variant, in Red with Black Marble Smoke, and you can pre-order that one here as long as they last.)
SULPHUR AEON (Germany)
Paolo Girardi has struck again with the painted cover for Sulphur Aeon‘s new album Seven Crowns and Seven Seals, their first one in five years. We’ve come to expect Lovecraftian sonic horrors from this band, and the artwork signifies no change in that respect. But what of the music?
The first single, “Arcane Cambrian Sorcery“, is the evidence we all have so far. Lyrically, the song speaks of hostile deities bred from ancient cambrian sorcery in galaxies afar, when the moon was young and long before there was life on earth — “belligerent beasts, vanquishers of an emergent world, captors of life at the dawn of time.”
In the music, Sulphur Aeon bring this horrifying tale to life through haughty growls, booming and battering drums, and momentous swirling melodies, which do indeed sound arcane and perilous. The first solo slithers and soars, a prelude to more frenzied intensity in the music. The second solo seems to wail and scream, either tortured or exultant or both, and high above, the melody then flies in frightening splendor.
The song’s glimmering, astral atmosphere persists, even when the drums thunder, the riffing undergoes fleet-fingered seizures, and the vocals become strangled. The song builds to a crescendo of imperious, terrorizing calamity, propelled even higher by extravagant cries.
Seven Crowns and Seven Seals will be released on the 13th of October by Ván Records.
I chose this final song in part because I thought it built on the unearthly terrors of that Sulphur Aeon track, albeit in a different way.
Shrouded in static, “Accidie” begins with unnatural industrial sounds, like the gasping of horrid beasts around a pounding assembly line. The pounding becomes more pavement-shaking, and the distortion more abrasive and dismal as this musical monstrosity slowly stomps ahead. Wrenching howls echo off the walls of a subterranean torture chamber, and sizzling guitars whine and writhe in pain as the clobbering continues with no remorse.
Those stricken vocals are truly terrifying, but no more so than the lethal radiation emitted from the stringed instruments or the pulverizing immensity of the rhythm section. You can feel flesh bubbling and melting and bones fracturing. Near the end something begins pulsing like a siren through the awful maelstrom, like a warning that comes far too fucking late.
The song is the first single from an album named Abscission, which is this trio’s third full-length. It will be released on September 15th by the UK label Human Worth. Ten percent of all proceeds will be donated to a charity called Second Step – “a leading mental health charity in Bristol and the South West”.