I didn’t name this column “Seen And Heard On A Saturday” because it’s not the usual assortment of recommended new songs and videos, though I do have a few of those in here at the end. Mainly I wanted to let people know what’s going on at NCS and what the next few weeks will look like.
We’re still in the midst of our annual Listmania orgy, though nearing the end of its main phases. Our Readers’ Lists (in the comments on this post) are still growing, and the only way that stops growing is when people lose interest in 2023 and wholly give themselves over to 2024. We’ve completed rolling out the lists we traditionally share from bigger platforms than our own. And we’re well along in the rollout of lists from our writers and usual guests.
At this point I have three more of those latter lists to present, in addition to the final two Parts of Neill Jameson‘s 5-part list. I’ll get all of those posted in the coming week after Christmas Day. Another list or two might arrive after I write this, and might spill over into the week after next.
Next week I’ve also got three premieres on the schedule, and then five more for the first week of 2024. But beginning that week, things are going to have to change around here.
It annoys the shit out of me to say it, but my fucking day job is now requiring the vast majority of my waking hours, and it will get worse before it gets better, holidays be damned.
Beginning the week of January 8th I’ve had to put a hold on doing premieres, since I’m the slave who writes nearly all of those. There won’t be any more of those until the week of January 22nd. And after this weekend there probably won’t be any weekend or weekday roundups of new music, since I’m the slave who does those too.
Even more disconcerting to me, I will have to postpone or possibly skip altogether the rollout of my list of 2023’s “Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs“. Sadly, I just won’t be able to afford the distraction of doing that list in the coming weeks.
What I’ll have to figure out, when this work crunch ends near the end of January, is whether it will make any sense to anyone for our site to continue talking about metal from 2023, especially because rolling out that “most infectious” list usually takes me a month of daily posts to get through it. Is it going to make any sense doing that all the way up to early March?
Well, that’s the report and the forecast. Fortunately, I expect our other writers to keep doing what they do while I’m mired in day-job hell, so the site will be far from moribund, but it will look different.
With that, here are just a few random recommendations from the enormous mountain of new music that’s come out since the last time I did a roundup several weeks ago, or even before, with apologies to all the bands I can’t get to and the skimpiness of the words for the ones I did reach.
Release date: December 8th
What to expect: Like the band says, it’s “mauling black metal”, but more than that too. I premiered the album’s title track way back in January 2023, expecting the album would be out way earlier, but better late than never in this case — far better.
Lots of twists and turns lie ahead, all of them accompanied by the kind of ugly, ragged and ravenous, growls that might wake the dead if played loud enough, and big punchy bass tones. Plus, the reverb on the drums is sweet too.
The ringing music (subtly augmented with keys, I think) proves to be grim and wretched, and hallucinatory and harrowing, but it deliriously dances too, like demons celebrating their deathlessness (if I had time to do my Most Infectious Song list, the dancing “Doll of Flesh” would be on it), or segues into passages of witchy, seductive eeriness, with woozy wails sometimes in the mix along with fanged growls.
And yes, the blasts eventually come out and the music gloriously mauls too, or the beats hammer the pulse while the riffing sounds like the heat of feral lust. At the end, “Char” also delivers a sublime gothic-influenced organ instrumental, the biggest twist of all, like a nod to dungeon synth, and a beautiful one at that.
Fair warning: Even as the album twists and turns, through moods of oppressiveness, degradation, and exultation, it keeps jabbing hooks in the listener’s brain, creating catchiness in unexpected ways. Lots of tracks are fighting “Doll of Flesh” for my imagined infectious song list.
PONTE DEL DIAVOLO (Italy)
Album: Fire Blades From The Tomb
Label: Season of Mist
Release date: February 16th
What to expect: A rhythm section that sounds like thundering hooves; music that dangerously rings and swirls, like fleeing from something fatal; and female singing (yes, gasp, singing!) that’s theatrically riveting.
Things get gloomy and grim too, just as the video takes an unsettling turn and the narrative gets flipped upside down (be careful who you kidnap), and then the music becomes a chilling supernatural dream as hellish powers emerge. Damned cool video, btw.
MACHINE MUSIC (Israel)
Songs: 20 of them!
Album: MILIM KASHOT VOL. 5
Label: Machine Music
Release date: November 24th
Took me a while to do something to help spread the word about the latest compilation from the Tel Aviv-based website Machine Music. All previous comps in this series have been well worth deep exploration, and this one is too. By way of preview, I’ll quote from the curator’s words on Bandcamp:
MILIM KASHOT VOL. 5 is the latest in the MILIM KASHOT compilation series, meant to highlight the best in underground extreme music from around the world. This year’s installment comes amid the general sense of a world coming apart, and the seeming futility of collecting and presenting music given that reality. But, as always, the things that seem frivolous at times (art) are the things that end up saving our lives. At least that has been my experience in the past, and has been again with working on this compilation.
Many thanks to the many wonderful artists and human beings for participating in this strange venture, and for supporting a very worthy cause (more on that below).
This year’s collection includes some very exciting exclusive and rare tracks from the likes of Panopticon, Trhä, Decoherece, Gnaw Their Tongues, and others.
In addition we also have the honor of presenting several project premieres, which include:
Forlesen and their (I’m calling it) “best Type O Negative cover ever”; a worldwide premiere of Hull of Light, a project featuring members of Suffering Hour, 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker), and members of the international jazz scene Ran Livneh and Roy Chen; and the brand-new project Mezulot, featuring members of Choshech, Zeresh, and Kadaver.
All this shimmering wealth in addition to a bevy (yes!) of incredible music from Kea, The Institute of Ongoing Things, Atonia, Ash, Dioine, Silence & Strength, Yogev Amsalem, and many others.
Thank you again from the bottom of my empty heart. May your sounds fix this broken life.
P.S. That worthy cause is the For the Wildlife animal sanctuary (whose web presence is here), where all proceeds from sale of the compilation will go. And the Bandcamp page also has a great deal more detail about all the bands.
P.P.S. A powerful amount of work went into the assembly of this compilation, and it includes a powerful amount of great music. You may have deserved a stocking full of coal in these holidays, the remnants of a burning world, but you get a bag full of treats instead. Show some gratitude if you can.