Islander

Jun 032023
 

This past week has been a recovery week. After the conclusion of Northwest Terror Fest last weekend I was elated by the experience but also badly in need of rest, and got some of that. I also had to catch up on both paying work and stuff on the home front that I had neglected during five days living out of a hotel in Seattle while working on the fest. I also managed to set aside a full afternoon and evening for one last chance to hang out with Andy Synn and DGR before they jetted back to their homes yesterday.

Put all that together, and I had to dial back what I’d be doing at a normal week for NCS. One big thing I dialed back was looking at e-mails that landed in the site’s in-box. I sure as fuck didn’t count them, but just eye-balling the mass, I’d guess that more than 1,500 arrived over the last week. Based on past averages, I’d also guess that if time had allowed, I’d have at least skimmed through those and found dozens of new songs and videos I’d want to check out in whole or in part.

But I didn’t do that. I only tried to look for subject lines which seemed like the messages were specifically intended just for us, and more specifically for messages exploring the idea of future NCS premieres. Everything else I just flew past like a swallow in rutting season.

So what the hell to do for this roundup? I could have spent hours trying to plow through what I missed, but that idea was so dull and daunting that I needed some other answer. Sometimes the best way to deal with a complex problem is to apply a blunt instrument (what Alexander did with the Gordian knot also comes to mind). So I just paid attention to e-mails from the last 24 hours (only 202 of them), and a small collection of other song links that a few friends and acquaintances had sent me. From that, I picked what now follows. Continue reading »

Jun 022023
 

(In the following new interview Comrade Aleks spoke with Garrett Johnson (a/k/a Wandering Mind), guitarist/vocalist of the international band VoidCeremony, whose newest album Threads of Unknowing was released in April of this year by 20 Buck Spin.)

Californian prog-death/black-metal outfit VoidCeremony was formed by Garrett Johnson and Jon Reider in the summer of 2013, and now after a few line-up changes the band consists of Wandering Mind (guitars, vocals), C. Koryn (drums), The Great Righteous Destroyer (bass), and Hyperborean Apparition (guitars, vocals).

There’s nothing impossible now, and thanks to Metal-Archives we can figure out that Wandering Mind is Garrett himself. C. Koryn is Charles Koryn who’s known for his drumming in bands like Ascended Dead, Ghoulgotha, Vrent, and more. The Great Righteous Destroyer is Damon Good himself, the founder of one of the oldest Australian funeral doom bands – Mournful Congregation (as well as Cauldron Black Ram and Stargazer) — and that fact makes VoidCeremony an international project, as well as the residence of Hyperborean Apparition, who’s Philippe Allaire-Tougas, “multi-instrumentalist, producer, recording engineer, and guitar teacher” from Canada. He performs with Chthe’ilist, First Fragment, and more.

As you see, here we have a bunch of prolific and talented musicians performing a different kind of extreme metal, and if you heard VoidCeremony’s debut Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel (2020), then you know where they can lead. The band’s sophomore album Threads of Unknowing was released on the 14th of April and it won’t disappoint fans of intelligent progressive extreme music.

These deconstructive tunes of primordial (crawling) chaos aren’t something you need to talk about but rather to experience, and yet we tried to discuss the  contrasting sonic canvases of Threads of Unknowing with Garrett. Continue reading »

Jun 022023
 

Later this month Void Wanderer Productions will release a debut EP fittingly named The Everlasting Pain by the black metal band Ominøs. In vivid but accurate terms, the label describes the EP’s four haunting and harrowing tracks as a means of “entering ancient gateways to lands of death, where happiness is sucked out of souls, safety is distorted into agony and dreams are crushed into nightmares,” as “ice-cold screams chant accursed poetry about the inevitable demise of humanity”.

What we have for you today as an even more vivid rendering of what this Dutch duo have achieved on the EP is the premiere of the EP’s closing track “Oh Darkness My Sun“. Lyrically, it is a dire meditation on suffering and sorrow, where darkness becomes the sun and the protagonist yearns for its victory over light. Musically, it evokes unearthly nightside realms, freezing temperatures, and indeed the vanquishing of light and the shivering splendor of darkness. Continue reading »

Jun 022023
 

The Montreal band Serpent Corpse named themselves for a dead thing, and their brand of death metal does channel the stench of rot and ruin. But the great serpent brandished in their name still lives, a monstrous presence that will not be subdued, but finds an ally in death.

In less gruesomely poetic terms, Serpent Corpse are bringing forth a debut album named Blood Sabbath that isn’t just rotten to the core but also massively bludgeoning, chillingly supernatural, and maniacally vicious. The music seeps into the bloodstream like a fatal poison, disembowels with ravenous cruelty, and feeds on what it has spilled with ghastly relish.

Well, I guess we weren’t finished with the gruesome poetry after all. With music this horrifying and electrifying, it’s hard to resist.

Speaking of feeding on entrails, we have an album track to share with you today that’s named “Let the Rats Feed“, and man, do they ever. Continue reading »

Jun 022023
 

(In mid-April the Munich-based “Oriental Extreme Metal” band Eridu released their expansive second album, and it caught the welcoming ear of our writer DGR, who prepared the following review.)

Heavy metal as a genre has been especially good at loaning itself out to bands who want to sound absolutely massive. The giant walls of distortion, the huge drums, the intimidating vocals, and big rumbling bass lines have often been a tool/weapon – depending on whose hands are wrapped around it – for groups to appear much larger in scope than they actually are. The ambition and reach of a genre like this are often used by groups wanting to appear cinematic in scale as part of their search for something grander than just the consistent ass-kicking that heavy metal is known for.

With groups like SepticFlesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse at the forefront of full-blown symphonies as backing and integral parts of the band – doing the heavy lifting on the melody end of things most of the time – and bands like Behemoth and Hate making a name for themselves by sounding gigantic despite their band photos basically just featuring ‘four dudes’, it’s interesting to see the bevy of groups that have cropped up on the in-between lines, sounding just as massive and embracing a lot of orchestral and ethnic instrumentation to help break them out from the usual pack of bruisers. They’re just as ambitious as many of their peers and often just as expansive, with releases that come in just short of needing a label in the corner that says ‘soundtrack to the major motion picture!’ on the right hand side of the cover art.

Germany’s Eridu are that style of band, with a weighty fifty-plus-minute release in Enuma Elish, tackling large subject matter and mythology with an equally heavy emphasis on both brutalizing rhythms and folk instrumentation and with a movie-maker’s eye for sound atmospherics and a metal fan’s taste for punching through walls. Continue reading »

Jun 012023
 

Not so long ago we wrote here that while many musical extremists add new layers of brick and mortar to old walls surrounding well-established genre structures, the anonymous Parisian duo Non Serviam take a wrecking ball to genre walls. Their music is about catharsis and confrontation, and to extend the alliteration, it can be confounding — because it goes where the creators’ passions and wild inmventiveness take it, outward into the world from a burning inner core of rage.

You would conclude that the music on their new album Death Ataraxia is confrontational even if you didn’t know what inspires it. It has the effect of getting in the face of listeners and shoving them out of comfort zones and off-balance, teetering but fueled. But what inspires the music is also confrontational, an anarchist and antifascist ethos that condemns the abuses of capitalism and hate-mongering directed against the least powerful among us.

Yet it would go to far to brand the music, or what inspires it, as nihilistic, even if sometimes it sounds ruinous or hopeless. In the midst of superheated resistance there seem to be goals beyond not surrendering or becoming complacent, beyond furiously swinging the wrecking ball at what confines our bodies and minds. Goals like embracing those who need support when we can, (furiously) seizing the opportunities for rapture when they present themselves (no matter how fleeting), or just letting your head spin away from the ugliness of the real into the very un-real.

Another way to put it is that in listening to Death Ataraxia you’ll find times when you might want to sway and bounce, or to let your mind wander in intriguing but dangerous dreamscapes, but plenty of other times that might make you want to put your head back and howl, or hurl yourself like a missile into violent collisions, or feel your brain spin (dazzled) through a kaleidoscopic sonic collage where nightmares thrive. Continue reading »

Jun 012023
 

(With the month of May now behind us, Gonzo reflects on five albums released during the month that got him excited.)

As I type this, I’m sitting at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, haggard as hell after the three-day whirlwind of Northwest Terror Fest. I’m not on speaking terms with my liver just yet, and my ears are still ringing despite having fairly high-quality earplugs in every night.

I’ll have a separate write-up coming soon enough about all that, but here’s a spoiler: It was fucking glorious.

Before we get to all that, there were some seriously noteworthy releases that saw the light of day through this month, and I’d be remiss if I skipped over them in favor of getting right to recapping my 72 hours of complete batshit insanity. Continue reading »

Jun 012023
 

(Karina Noctum has brought us the following interview with two members of the Norwegian band Drott, whose fascinating new album was released not long ago on the label of By Norse Music.)

Drott’s latest album, Troll, left me with the impression of having listened to something unique, and that does not happen too often in the metal world, quite frankly. Drott have an eclectic blend of musical influences. Some of the songs are framed in what can be a pretty dark and cold Norwegian atmosphere, which is something I cherish as a black metal fan. You could not have expected otherwise from a band that features Ivar Thormodsæter (Ulver), Arve Isdal (Enslaved) and Matias Monsen.

In this interview we get interesting insights from Arve and Matias. At the time of this interview the album was set to be released on May 19th, and is out now.

Continue reading »

May 312023
 

Early last year we had the privilege (and pleasure) of premiering a single named “Lorn“, which was the debut release of the Ukrainian black metal band Silvern, and the first sign of their first album to come. The song was laden with sharp hooks, and Silvern propelled it with a visceral punch. It created an electrifying yet distressing experience. The song also had intriguing lyrical themes, and (for reasons you’ll soon learn) we’ll repeat part of what Silvern had to say about them:

The lyrics describe the controversial figure of a human as a biological species, which constantly creates a problem for itself and everything around. The possibilities of consciousness are endless, you need to develop yourself and live in harmony with the Universe, but instead, a human invents religions, kills, harms the environment, thinking that he is the crown of God’s creation. Everything is much more complicated. Sometimes you need to look a bit higher than the Saviour’s star.

That last line provides the connection to yet the second Silvern single, which we’re premiering today — “Still Higher Than Saviour’s Star“. Continue reading »

May 312023
 

Eis is the name of the debut album by the Austrian band Loather that’s coming our way in June via Vendetta Records. After a roughly four-year gap in Loather‘s releases (which of course included the pandemic disruptions as well as lineup changes), it follows an initial demo and two EPs, the last one being 2019’s Haganvelt.

It has never been easy to craft a succinct genre description for Loather’s music, but the task is even more difficult in the case of Eis. We’ve seen the phrase “blackened narcotic metal” applied to their past works. Elements of black metal and doom play roles in Eis, and Loather indeed prove themselves quite capable of casting narcotic spells.

But the genre ingredients one might identify don’t really operate as very useful signposts for what the album provides listeners in Loather‘s dark renderings of stress and sorrow, of angst and anger, of power and poignance. The music itself provides the best guide, and so it’s fortunate that we have a part of Eis for you today in our premiere of the song “Mortuary“. Continue reading »