Sep 162023

I had such sprawling ambitions for this Saturday roundup before I went to sleep last night, because the past week seemed even more extravagant than usual in terms of new music releases. But then, even though I opened my eyes at 5 a.m. and then again at 6 a.m., I couldn’t make myself leave the comfortable tomb of my bed until much later. Big sigh.

So, as I sit here now, I know that if I wrote about everything that got me excited in my music-surfing the last few days I wouldn’t finish until a really late hour for a big segment of the people who typically visit us. On top of that I have to do some things for my fucking day job today (and tomorrow as well), or the start of the next work week will be sheer Hell.

I made a compromise with myself, giving fairly close attention to just five new songs and videos, focusing on lesser-known bands instead of the many big names who surfaced with new stuff last week, and then including more music (also from lesser-known names) without much commentary. I’ll have tomorrow to build on this with shades of new black metal.




I never had any doubt that from everything I heard I would begin today’s roundup with Sheol Blanc‘s new song “Endless“. After I listened to it for the first time yesterday I told just about anyone online who would pay attention that they needed to hear it. The shorthand reason I gave? “It’s fucking stupendous“.

“Solo project created in 2016 while being hospitalized in a psychotherapeutic institute.” That’s the descriptor provided on Sheol Blanc‘s Bandcamp page. Discovering that statement had something to do with why I first began listening to Sheol Blanc in 2018. The continuing opportunity to be shaken and surprised kept me going. The song below is another surprise.

Endless” is the long first song from a new Sheol Blanc album that’s set for release on September 20th. It appears that the rest of the album consists of another long song named “Sans Fin” (isn’t that another way of saying “endless”?), and it must be very long indeed since I saw a post on Sheol Blanc‘s Facebook page that I’m guessing is the time count for the album: “00:40:14” Which would make “Sans Fin” about half an hour in length.

Sheol Blanc explains that the album is the first one in a trilogy called “Harmony“. SB further describes the album as “A duel between harmony and harshness, focusing on experimentation and unique colorful textures.”

There are indeed a multitude of sonic colors in “Endless“, but it also delivers overpowering force. The song’s stupendously crushing impact is every bit as jaw-dropping as all those colors, and it impacts like an abrasive megaton pile-driver right away (those punishers eventually reappear to bookend the track).

Among the sonic colors, the screamed, snarled, and wailed vocals paint with blood and lye — they’re frighteningly unhinged. Other textures include guitars (and maybe keys) that maniacally writhe, dismally blare, feverishly shiver, clang like falling girders, flash and dart, and elevate in episodes of blazing but harrowing grandeur, all of it backed by prominent bass mutations and drum patterns that furiously hurtle, vividly hammer, and brutishly stomp.

It’s an immense and relentlessly gripping spectacle, with only scattered moments of unearthly and uneasy calm. I would like to give two very big thumbs-up to this new avant-garde evolution of Sheol Blanc‘s sound, and I’m very eager to hear the other song on the release day.




The next single by this UK trio seemed like a fitting way to follow “Endless“, in part because the screamed vocals are also very fucking intense, and in part because the song also inflicts a ruinous beating.

You won’t see that coming from the song’s elegant first half-minute, which is partly why what comes next hits with such explosive power. The sonic dynamite includes massive HM-2-toned riffing, bone-smashing percussive assaults, and a furious attitude.

When the band eventually ease back on the throttle and allow the corrosive distortion of their stringed instruments to reverberate more expansively, the music becomes suffocatingly bleak (but it’s still spine-fracturing).

Scary wailing sounds escalate above the low-end pulverizing, and the vocals then also descend into monstrous roars as the bass throbs, paving the way for the sizzling of a guitar that channels despair, and one final crust/metal romp.

Triumphant” is the first teaser for a Yersin album named The Scythe Is Remorseless that will be released in early January by Trepanation Recordings.



OF ORIGINS (Finland)

Of Origins hail from Turku, Finland. Knowing nothing about them or their music, the only reason I listened to this next song and watched the lyric video was its name — “Everything, Suddenly” — which is also the name of the album, and the band’s explanation of what that means:

Everything, Suddenly” gets its inspiration from thoughts about the abundant but unsustainable way of life in this day and age, manifesting in consumer culture, natural disasters, mental health issues and global inequality.

Everything, Suddenly” (the song) is a stylistic amalgam which harnesses punishing post-metal heaviness, jolting grooves, mind-scarring screams, and the stricken tones of weirdly warbling guitars — but then suddenly segues into a glittering and enthralling acoustic guitar instrumental.

After that digression, the moods of the song descend deeper into agony and gloom. The undercarriage is still damned heavy and those vocals are still viscerally shattering, but the melody is utterly bereft and beseeching.

As mentioned, the song is the title track to Of Origin‘s debut album, which will be released on Friday the 13th of October on streaming platforms. It was produced by Miguel Tereso, who may be best known for being the producer of the Portuguese black metal band Gaerea.




I was a newcomer to the last two bands in today’s collection. This next one, like Sheol Blanc, is one whose music I’ll always check out based on past experience.

On this new song, “I Regi Tratturi“, composer, clarinetist, and vocalist Vittorio Sabelli leads the way again (he also performs guitars, bass, accordion, and joins in choral vocals), accompanied by other vocalists and drummer Diego ‘Aeternus’ Tasciotti, as well as guests who perform euphonium, trombone, bagpipes, violin, contrabass, and choral vocals.

Despite what you may assume from that list of instruments, the song begins in a way that will please fans of scorching, blasting, and manically frenzied black metal, but it also whirls and diabolically dances, the vocals change as forecast, and Sabelli‘s charismatic clarinet performances spin it off into sensations rarely heard in metal.

The song is full of twists and turns, which include throat singing, acoustic strumming, fiddle playing, folkish drumming, and even more vocal variations which sound both ecstatic and sinister. When it takes off again, reviving the black metal delirium but also bringing back the clarinet and more of that unusual instrumentation, it’s an exhilarating thing to hear. But it doesn’t end as it began.

Well, further proof that no one else sounds like Dawn of A Dark Age.

The accompanying video isn’t what you’ll expect from the entirety of the music. I wondered about the choice until I did some searching about the song’s name, and discovered that the “Regi Tratturi” are ancient tracks crossing the landscape between Abruzzo, Molise, and Puglia, “along which the shepherds used to drive their animals twice a year, from the mountains in autumn towards warmer grazing lands, and back again as the Spring came to an end” (per this source).

The song is off a new Dawn of A Dark Age album named Transumanza that will be released by My Kingdom Music on December 8th.




The next song tipped to me by Rennie from starkweather in the course of us swapping messages about Sheol Blanc, Yersin, and Torpor yesterday (if you haven’t heard Torpor‘s crushing new album, get yourself over here and do that this weekend).

Like Torpor, Modern Technology will have their new album Conditions of Worth released by the UK label Human Worth. The next song, “Dead Air“, is the opening track.

If you see references to this London-based duo’s music as “noise rock”, you might jump to the wrong conclusions, like I did. I think it’s better if you just clear your head of that genre label before listening to “Dead Air“, and think more about sludge.

Granted, the jittery strumming and pulsating bass at the start could function as the intro to a noise-rock song as I conceive of it, but the ensuing sharp snap of the snare and the immensity of the low-end punch and the gravel-chewing bass riffage shoved me back on my mental heels.

The echoing of the wailed vocals have an edge that adds to the song’s palpable grittiness, which is harsh enough to take the shine off steel. The music itself also seems to wail, but it’s so pulverizing that you can imagine the foundations of your abode coming apart while your muscles twitch to the groove. (FYI, this band only uses bass and drums).



CHOROSIA (Austria)

Now, as my time grows short, I’m turning to some additional recommendations without much commentary.

In another one of these Seen and Heard roundups last month (here) I featured a video for the wonderfully named song “Hands, Switchblades, and Vile Vortices” from a forthcoming album by this Austrian group. I tried to sum up the music as “an out-of-the-ordinary blend of sludge, doom, and progressive metal that proves to be thoroughly captivating”.

Now, as of Friday, the whole album (Stray Dogs) is out, courtesy of Grazil Records and Kvlt und Kaos Productions in all sorts of formats. I think it’s well worth your time.



MUERTO (Mexico)

My last quick recommendation is an August 2023 album named Dust Fire Dust by the band Muerto from San Juan Del Río, Mexico. I’ll share the band’s own description from the record’s Bandcamp page:

Dust Fire Dust is a 6 track, post black metal concept album written by the band during the pandemic epoch but recorded until the fall of 2022 at Utter Silence Studio. It represents a leap of sound depicted through fear, loss and triumph. A cosmic voyage endured in full, Dust Fire Dust is an allegory towards existence, as it stands, staggering in nature. The debut full length will be released through Utter Silence Records in digipack format.”

I’ve only had time to give the album one run-through. I worried that if I waited to say anything about it until listening again and attempting to make a more detailed written discussion, I’d never find time to do that. So this is a more certain, albeit abbreviated, way of trying to draw attention to the album.

Vocalist Penelope Matamoros possesses a raw, harrowing, lycanthropic howl that’s capable of making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, but she also has an affecting singing voice that would be right at home in a modern doom band.

The music is also a multi-faceted affair. It leans hard into the doomier sides of post-metal, bringing earth-quaking heft and melodies that elaborately and dynamically trace sensations of grief and desperation, confusion and calamity, and lonely introspection and abject hoplessness.

You’ll also soon notice how many engaging nuances Hugo Alvarez‘s bass notes bring to the music, and how adeptly guitarist Juan Mondragon greatly varies the guitar tones (including the use of acoustic guitar) between harshness and clarity, dissonance and harmony, in addition to crafting melodies of dark, disturbing, and visceral power.

Drummer Eddel Jared isn’t called upon to do anything fancy or scene-stealing, but he matches the push and pull of what’s happening in the music like hand-in-glove, and along with Alvarez he gives the songs a lot of heavyweight punch.

All in all, I think this is another album well worth your time.

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