I woke up at 2:30 a.m. this morning. No fucking idea why. I was wiped out last night and fell asleep by 8 p.m., but that still doesn’t explain it. I was thinking 4 a.m. would be the likely waking hour, a solid 8 hours later. Maybe it’s Mariners fever (baseball fans may understand.)
I hope my loss is your gain. The ridiculous waking hour gave me lots of time to catch up on music, and to compile a bigger than average roundup for this Saturday. In organizing this I decided to lead with the most prominent name in the collection, and then move in a more obscure and musically challenging direction before embarking on a pair of anthems and then concluding with nastier notions.
OCTOBER TIDE (Sweden)
When my compatriot DGR reviewed October Tide‘s last album, 2019’s In Splendor Below, he found it “a very different album from its predecessors,” “one of the fastest-moving albums they’ve created” and with a new emphasis on “death metal atmospherics and groove” — though he noted that the band had not completely abandoned “the beautiful and cold atmospheres” that had become a major part of their hallmark.
The new October Tide album, The Cancer Pledge, is likely to be in a similar vein as that last one. Indeed, guitarist Fredrik Norrman calls it “a direct continuation of the previous album — less doom and more death metal, yet melodic and with more layers”. That’s born out by the album’s first single, “Tapestry of Our End“, which arrived with an engrossing animated lyric video.
Photo credit: Daniel Jansson
The band’s lineup has remained intact since 2016, and that means Alexander Högbom‘s distinctive snarls and roars are still a commanding presence in this new song. As for the surrounding music, the band interweave rocking beats and furious fills, heaving and hurtling bass lines, riffing that’s both mercurial and head-hooking, lots of glittering and swirling leads, and melodies that both soar in splendor and diminish into anguish.
The Cancer Pledge will be released on October 6th by Agonia Records. Pre-orders will be announced soon.
BARING TEETH (U.S.)
As promised, I’m now turning to bands that are more obscure, and metal that’s more challenging.
“Challenging” is a polite word that’s often used for music that’s shorn of melody and groove, and instead geared toward abrasive cacophonies. I wouldn’t call this next song from Dallas-based Baring Teeth “cacophonous”, though the band do tend to specialize “in crafting atonal discordance and ethereal dissonance” (to borrow some words from their new label). I’d say instead that the challenge comes from trying to wrap your mind around this many bamboozling twists and turns.
The song is tremendously destructive, but also thoroughly head-spinning. The instrumental execution is often jaw-dropping, but the band deploy those talents in creating a non-stop labyrinth of lunacy — while picking moments to jackhammer the shit out of your skull.
The song here is “Obsolescence“. It’s from an album named The Path Narrows, which will be released by I Voidhanger Records on October 20th.
photo by Ben Zodiazepin
IMHA TARIKAT (Germany)
Now I’m turning to the first of two heavy metal anthems, each of them stunning in different ways.
What you’re about to witness first is a video (filmed and produced by Sabrina Bauer, Visual Evidence) of Imha Tarikat‘s live performance of the song “Death of Mysticism” at the House Of The Holy Festival in Abtenau, Austria. For this show mainman Kerem Yilmaz was accompanied by guitarist Marvin Giehr, bassist Ricardo Baum, and drummer Jerome Reil.
I believe this is a new song — I can’t say I’ve memorized all of Imha Tarikat‘s music, but I can’t find it on the track list of any of their releases. What I can say is that it’s an emotional powerhouse, thanks in significant part to the inflamed intensity of the vocals, and I do think of it as an anthem, though it’s an anthem of distress and turmoil as well as resilience and fight. And musically, the song is also tremendously multi-faceted.
UPDATE: I have learned that the song in the video is “Kreuzpunkt der Schicksale” from Imha Tarikat ‘s second album Sternenberster. “Death of Mysticism” is the name given to the video documentation of the experience.
With respect to the video, which shows not only the band’s preparations for their performance as well as the performance itself, I’ll leave you with the words of Kerem Yilmaz:
“Please witness our manifestation of revolt against a world devoid of loyalty, friendship, devotion, and all that is of high moral standard. Watch our vessels transform into reflections of the abomination the world has become and see us breaking free. With burning hearts against a passionless world. Forever!”
ELS FOCS NEGRES (Portugal)
Next up we have “Nació Metal“, an anthem of a very different kind than that last one. This one is a devil-horned heavy metal anthem, rendered by the Portuguese “Heavy Armageddon Speed Metal” band Els Focs Negres, whose Catalan name seems to mean “The Black Fires” in English.
The song has an absolutely glorious opening, a thing of towering grandeur elevated by a glittering lead-guitar spectacle above the work of a heavyweight rhythm section. When the vocals come in, the music transforms into a brazen and brutish march, darker than what came before, but still fired up by electrifying solos that would get people hoisting their clawed hands to the heavens in a live setting.
Vocalist Monsenyor BTHZR has a wonderfully extravagant singing voice that possesses the kind of gritty and screaming intensity a song like this needs (at first I feared we might be in for power metal vocals). And by the end, the song takes an extremely sinister and even infernal turn, as if the band had finally coaxed the immensity of Lucifer himself out of his hellish lair. (And the closing extended solo is the most spectacular of all.)
This song is from an album named Martírís Carnívors: Hymns Per A Um Nou Apocalipsi. It will be released on September 1st by Firecum Records and RagingPlanet.
ASH PRISON (U.S.)
This is the point at which I decided to begin a descent into nastier musical experiences, beginning with the song “Scorn” by a dark industrial metal triumvirate consisting of Matt Auxier (of electro-industrial act 6th Circle) on guitars and electronics, bassist J. Thompson (of East Coast darkwave cult Child Ov Night), and California-based vocalist M.Alagna (of Abstracter, Somnolent, and ex-Atrament).
The song begins in foreboding fashion, with chilling ambient tones, ghoulish and ghostly voices, and a strange electronic pulse — and then the big compulsive grooves begin bouncing and hammering.
Around those gigantic reptile-brain beats the vocals weave the words in terrorizing snarls and screams, and the music convulses in sandstorm blasts, warps in moaning tones, and feverishly throbs and screeches, with lots of other strange and mutilating electronic accents in the mix.
“Scorn” is from Ash Prison‘s debut album Future Torn, to be released September 22nd on LP, MC and digital/streaming formats via Sentient Ruin Laboratories.
The afore-mentioned descent into nastiness continues, going deeper with a song named “Erode Horizon” by a part-British, part-American trio whose appellation is the tongue-twisting name Zvylpwkua.
The vocals here are cold, abyssal gutturals, but the music is insane — an amalgam of dense, scathing riffage and screaming lead-guitar contortions executed with berserk speed, backed by drumwork whose clattering maneuvers are quite unpredictable and by murmuring bass tones that seem to be calmly mutating, unbothered by the craziness around them.
Suddenly, the spasms of insanity vanish, replaced with eerie astral ambience and dim clanging tones, and just as suddenly the electrifying tornado of terror resumes. Thereafter the tempos and instrumental acrobatics change, but the lead guitar continues searing the senses with unchained lunacy. It’s all macabre, and it’s all fascinating.
This is from an album entitled The Outlying Entities, described as a tale of “wonderful terror beyond your crawling skies” where elder entities “stalk between worlds” and “devour and dissolve”. It will be released on September 20th by The Centipede Abyss, who recommends it for fans of Portal and Gigan.
Is fungal black metal becoming a thing? The recent album by Mycorrhizae (reviewed here) doesn’t establish a trend by itself, but after discovering this next song by North Carolina’s Noctomb, I’m beginning to wonder.
The name of the song is “Zombie Fungus“, and black metal does play a role in the music, though it’s not the sole stylistic influence on display here. At first it batters and brawls, and inflicts riffs that skitter and blare, and then explodes in the violence of bestial snarls, blasting drums, and wailing and writhing riffage discharged with circle-saw viciousness.
The guitars soar in firestorm madness before beginning to blare and skitter again, but even then you can appreciate the nimbleness of the bass, which is an attraction throughout.
“Zombie Fungus” is from Noctomb‘s self-titled album, which is due for release on September 22nd.