I’m still slowly trying to get back into the swing of things here. But it has been slow, and will continue to be slow for the next couple of weeks, thanks to continuing pressures from my fucking day job.
For example, the only metal I listened to over the last week was the music I’d committed to premiere. I also made almost no effort to scroll through the usual flood of NCS e-mails and other messages that have arrived since last weekend, or to open tabs for music to listen to later — “almost” being the operative word, because I did tuck away a few randomly noticed links.
Speaking of e-mail flooding, yesterday was another Bandcamp Friday, which resulted in an even bigger flood. I expected a vision of an old man herding animals two by two into a big wooden boat, a vision that never materialized because I made no effort to scroll through the in-box. I guess sometime this weekend I’ll at least give it a skim, in case any Nigerian princes are trying to share millions of dollars with me. Does that still happen?
Anyway, here are a few appealing underground things I did manage to check out beginning very early this morning.
HETEROMORPHIC ZOO (Canada)
I decided to start you off with “Napalm” because it caused my head to explode, which was just what I needed to blast away the morning mental cobwebs and get my coma-like heart to start hammering, even if I’m unsure what to do with all this new-found energy.
“Napalm” is indeed fiery, but at its core it’s a jackhammer fest that will loosen your teeth and disjoint your spine, accompanied by utterly deranged vocals that sound like a fight between bull elephants, howler monkeys, and a pack of demons that just escaped Hell.
Oh, but there’s more! Exotic melodies spin through all the bombs dropping and the jackhammers busting up granite, and a violin takes the exultant soloing role, elevating the music to head-spinning glory. Let’s have these people from Victoria, BC take some deep bows:
Coty Garcia – Vocals
Megan Ash – Violin
Ray Heberer – Guitar, Bass
Bryce Butler – Drums
Lordigan Pedro Sena should take a bow for that fantastic cover art too.
“Napalm” is this outfit’s first single, and the lyrical conception suits the music’s planet-shattering and incinerating elements. You can read about it at Bandcamp. There will be an EP arriving in mid-2024 that will include “Napalm” and a second single.
SHIVER DOWN (Italy)
By sheer chance I listened to this next song (“Divine“) right after “Napalm“, and it seemed like a kindred spirit at first, but it turned out to detour into… something else.
Initially the riffing vividly throbs and then exuberantly jolts while the lead guitar ecstatically flickers and quivers. But soon enough the melody begins to flow in darker and more distraught directions, growing darker still when deep gothic-influenced vocals arrive.
Yes, there’s gloomy baritone singing here, but it segues into menacing growls, eventually joined by hair-raising screams. The gloom of the singing is matched by the song’s somber instrumental moods (the sorrow is especially stricken in the moaning and wailing of the guitar solo), and the screams are matched by swirling sonic firebursts and percussive eruptions.
“Divine” is the first single from Shiver Down‘s debut album, which will be released later this year by Ad Noctem Records. The animation in the lyric video for the song is also fun to watch. Credit for that, as well as the cover art, goes to Dronicon Films.
It doesn’t really matter what mood I’m in, when I see that something new has arrived from this unconventional and unpredictable Russian project I’m going to check it out, and then find out if it suits the current mood or changes it. This new single proved to be a big mood-changer.
The new song is named “Tombstone Angels / Lupa“. At nearly nine minutes in length, it provides room to roam, and roam it does, from a haunting organ intro and near-Gregorian monastic singing, perfect for cemetery nights, to the inviting ping of piano keys, the somber sound of what might be a French horn, and the patter of percussion.
The cemetery gloom begins to lighten, like moonshine on alabaster, or misty ghosts wafting up from the soil, but the vocals (with dim near-gutturals and softer, wraithlike singing in the background) begin to sound even more emotionally broken and haunted.
It’s a spellbinding experience, all in all, but one that leaves a deep chill on the flesh by the time the sounds slowly fade away.
I thought I ought to follow Autger‘s dark and elegant spell with something more ravaging or riotous. I found it in a new EP by the Glasgow black metal duo Mòine, which Miloš linked me to just yesterday.
Like the EP’s name (Ciaradh), the titles of the four songs are Gaellic in origin, and probably the words are too, though the distant wretched screams that give them voice obscure the language. There’s also a Gaellic influence in the songs’ melodies, though they’re rendered in abrasive tones that pierce and scrape the ears like heated needles and rusted knives.
Behind those ear-ravaging and mind-mauling guitar tones, which dominate everything else and saturate the senses, the drums skip and amble, clatter and clop, with the kind of earthy tone that fancy writers call “organic”.
The EP is, as I’m trying to explain, mainly a guitar jam, often rude and raucous, with a preference for lo-fi aesthetics. I should add that as the melodies maneuver, they often become despairing and laden with anguish, laments edged like blades and swathed in acid. They also sometimes sound like the wild skirl of bagpipes, urging on the galloping hooves of the steed beneath you that’s racing across rocky ground.
In case you might be misinterpreting what I’ve been writing, I do like this EP, quite a lot, even though I recognize it won’t be for everyone. But what is?
To close today’s collection I picked another EP, this time from a Canadian project named Volloíom that I’ve written about twice before. Entitled Katarwos, it was released just last week. I happened to see a link to it from Rennie (starkweather) and then, as a reminder that I intended to check it out, spotted an e-mail about it that was near the top of our flooded in-box this morning.
The EP consists of two extra-long pieces, Parts I and II of “Voces Mysticae“, which sound improvisational rather than carefully mapped out. In the first song, as the name suggests, the drifting of ethereal ambient sounds creates a mystical atmosphere, but in other ways the music that follows is a soul-mate of Moìne‘s music above.
Those other ways include a lo-fi approach to production, with guitars and synths caked in distortion and propelled toward screaming elevations, and drums off on variable and unpredictable frolics that sound far across the room. The vocals are also kindred, the shrieks of a torture-chamber victim whose skin is being slowly peeled away with scalpels or teeth.
Wretchedness saturates the music as well as the victimized vocals. Oddly, despite the mind-broiling timbres and soul-crushing moods, elements of elegance and intricacy enhance the experience. Moreover, all the shrill and scraping tones in the high end never sound earthborn, but more like the madness of broken and beseeching spirits that don’t know where they are, because they don’t know they’re dead.