Jul 302019
 

 

My usual mission, and it’s usually an obvious one, is to compile these round-ups of new music in a way that presents diversity. When I make my own playlists of music, I prefer to have one track vary (stylistically) from the next to the next to the next. And that’s in the back of my head when I make these SEEN AND HEARD collections; I think of them as playlists of what I would like to listen to, with the added benefit that because the sounds vary, even listeners who have very pronounced preferences might find at least one thing that grabs them, even if they don’t like everything else.

Having said that, what I’ve collected today is particularly all over the place. It starts within the red zone of insanity, and winds up there again, and there are some other zones of insanity in between, zones of very different colors. I don’t expect all of you to like all of this. If you did… well… you would be me, and wouldn’t that be weird? (Obviously, I’ve divided the collection into two Parts, with the second to arrive later today.)

SAMMATH

On this day (July 30) the Dutch black metal band Sammath celebrate their 25th birthday, and they have done that by releasing a stream of the first song from their new album, Across The Rhine Is Only Death, via a DECIBEL premiere. As the name suggests, and as the band explain, the album is “a true tale of death and destruction”, conceptually focused on the final months of World War II when Germany desperately tried to hold the Rhine as its western border. Far from a celebration of war, it represents an effort to summon the horrific annihilation that humanity is capable of inflicting on itself — and this new song is utterly annihilating in its own right. Continue reading »

Jul 262019
 

 

Some weeks I have no time for even one round-up. This week I’ve gone overboard with them. Make hay while the sun shines and all that shit.

The hay I’ve made today before we hit the weekend flows like this (yeah, I know, hay doesn’t flow): We begin with an utterly decimating piece of sonic warfare, and then get pretty damned thrashy through the next three  tracks (the kind of songs that will get your motor running fast and hot). After that I’ve gone in a couple of other directions, one of which will bury you beneath mountains of stupendous heaviness and the other of which will then fill your subterranean crypt with horrors, because we don’t want you to spend eternity alone.

VITRIOL

Some metal memories are more vivid than others. I distinctly remember, for example, being left slack-jawed and dumb-struck when I first heard this Portland death metal band’s debut EP Pain Will Define Their Death. Equally vivid was the impression that Vitriol left when I caught their live performance at Northwest Terror Fest in Seattle earlier this year. It was so goddamned ferocious that it sucked the air from my lungs. And then also vivid again was my chance encounter backstage, right after the performance, with vocalist/guitarist Kyle Rasmussen, who could not have been more happy, humble, and engaging.

Put all those vivid impressions together, and they leave me super-eager for Vitriol’s debut album, To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice, which will be released by no less a label than Century Media Records on September 6th. Continue reading »

Jul 252019
 

 

You wanna know how many new songs I added to my listening list over just the 48 hours since I posted the last round-up of new music? Of course you don’t, but the number was 45. Don’t even bother trying to guess how many were already on the list from preceding days. There is a reason why the category tag on these posts is “Random Fucking Music”, because there’s not much rhyme or reason to making these selections from such a large universe of choices.

Of course, I haven’t listened to all 45 of those new songs I was curious to check out. Of the ones I did hear, I picked these five, going with my gut, and of course my highly refined sense of good taste. With luck, I’ll collect some more for tomorrow, to bring the week to an end with a BANG.

SARCASM

From their formative years in the early ’90s through today, the Swedish death metal band Sarcasm have had their fair share of obstacles, including personal tragedies, line-up changes, and the other vicissitudes of life that have often led bands of this vintage to sink beneath the waves, never to surface again. But Sarcasm have survived, although their sound has evolved since the earliest years.

Their first album (Burial Dimensions) didn’t surface until 2016, but they followed that quickly with 2017’s Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds, and now their third album is headed our way via Chaos Records. Entitled Esoteric Tales Of The Unserene, it will be released on October 14th. Continue reading »

Jul 232019
 

 

I’m happy within myself, and I can imagine few things that would kill that, but I’m deeply unsettled by just about everything I see in the world around me. I don’t enjoy indulging those feelings of depression, dread, and anger, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes I consciously do that in the music I choose to listen to, and sometimes I’m led down those pathways by chance encounters.

Last night in my listening I went down a rabbit hole that became an increasingly dark pathway through a warren, and it happened by chance, just checking out the most recent songs I found in our in-box, and one that came to me thanks to a friend. But it all fit together as a kind of journey. I can’t say the trip left me buoyant by the end; it mainly indulged those other feelings instead. I’m not egotistical enough to think that everyone who lands on this post will find the entire journey as meaningful as I did; I’m not humble enough to think that you won’t.

FRECUENCIA DE MUERTE

Sometimes powerful underground music would be lost to me, as for many others, if not for a striking piece of artwork or the appearance of a familiar name, or some other truly random signal. In the case of FDeM, what made me stop and listen was the name Brad Boatright. It’s a familiar name, of course, because his recording and mastering work at Audioiege is attached to so many great records, but in the case of FDeM (as in From Ashes Rise), he’s a performer. I had to hear what that would be like in this new band. Continue reading »

Jul 222019
 

 

As forecast in Part 1 of this round-up (here), Part 2 goes in very different directions from the four songs I chose for the opening installment yesterday. Hopefully, you will find the variety appealing. I’ll forewarn you (though it’s really intended as an enticement) that despite the variety, it’s all pretty damned destructive.

WITCH VOMIT

Just a few hours down the highway from the NCS headquarters in the Seattle area is Portland, Oregon, home to many sources of potent metallic extremity, including Witch Vomit. Originally a two-man operation, the band eventually expanded, and the current quartet includes people who are current or former members of other Portland death- and black-metal decimators. Witch Vomit‘s new album, Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave, will be released by 20 Buck Spin on August 30th. The great cover art is again the creation of Matt Stikker. Continue reading »

Jul 212019
 

 

We missed a day yesterday, dammit. I spent too much time listening and not enough time writing — so much time listening that I have many things I want to recommend across many heavy genres. I liked the way the following four tracks flowed together, so I’ve collected them here. The plan is to post a second installment of this round-up tomorrow. It goes in very different directions than this one. I’m not posting it today because I want to make time and room for the usual SHADES OF BLACK column, which will arrive soon(ish).

MIZMOR

I spent an hour yesterday listening to Mizmor’s new album Cairn, which is how long it takes to proceed through the record’s four long tracks (they range from 10 minutes to 18 in length). It’s an emotionally overpowering experience, as stunning as the Mariusz Lewandowski painting (“Time Immemorial”) that Mizmor’s alter ego A.L.N. commissioned for the record. Of the album’s four tracks, the opener “Desert of Absurdity” is the first one out in the world, and the first one in today’s collection. Continue reading »

Jul 182019
 

 

I nearly finished this collection in time to post it yesterday before I had to turn to the job that pays me. The delay turned out to be fortuitous, because in the meantime I found something else I was excited to include. As usual, my aim in this selection is to showcase the variety of extreme metal, and to do some extravagant globe-trotting as well.

SEMPITERNAL DUSK

First up is a track named “Spears of Pestilence” from a new album by Portland’s Sempiternal Dusk, set for release by Dark Descent on September 27th. The album title is Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation, and it features cover art by D. Desecrator. Continue reading »

Jul 062019
 

 

In pawing through new music yesterday, like the digital-age version of what I used to do in record stores, I found myself thinking that the music of the following four bands belonged together. I wouldn’t know how to label them if I put them together in a section of the record store in my head, because their musical styles are different. Maybe “DOOMY METAL, BUT OTHER THINGS GOING ON”. Or maybe just “HEAVINESS (AND OCCASIONAL HEAVENLINESS)”.

MADDER MORTEM

The first song I’ve selected is a big exception to our Rule about singing, all the way up until near the end, when Agnete M. Kirkevaag does something shocking with her voice. Until then, as always, she’s bewitching.

But before we get to the song, I should share some important details about the new Madder Mortem album that includes it. Continue reading »

Jul 042019
 

 

I have mixed feelings about the Fourth of July, especially this year, and I’m not the only American who’s feeling torn today. While there are migrants in the midst of a humanitarian crisis on the southern border, the country’s most famous Independence Day celebration has been turned into a taxpayer-funded militaristic political rally for a man who not only could care less about what’s happening to people in Texas detention camps, but actively tries to score extra political points among his supporters by doubling down on the prisoners’ misery. And that’s just today’s most visible one-two punch to the nation’s ideals. There will be more battering tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.

On the other hand, I still feel fortunate to have been born here, and still take pride in much of what the country has achieved, and in much of what it stands for when it’s at its best. I also recognize that even though I’m not feeling particularly celebratory today, the Fourth is for many Americans a day of joy, even if it’s just because the day is a good excuse to be in the company of good friends or family, to gorge on comfort food and too much beer and booze, and to watch pretty explosions in the night sky. To all those people, I wish them a fantastic fucking day. Continue reading »

Jul 022019
 

 

Surprise! After a busy June in which I was only able to complete four of these round-ups over the entire month, I’ve now finished two, back to back, in just the first two days of July. One must make hay while the sun shines, although in my case I treat that proverb as less of a command than a suggestion, and one that I don’t follow much more often than “why do today what you can put off until tomorrow”.

As in the case of yesterday’s post, I’ve culled these selections to provide variety, in the hope of appealing to a range of tastes, and mixing at least one widely known name with others that should be better known and still others that are brand new.

RUSSIAN CIRCLES

Milano” is the name of the second advance track from this powerhouse instrumental trio’s new album Blood Year, which will be released on August 2nd by Sargent House. As compared to previous releases, the album is billed as “Russian Circles at their most brutalising”, “fully embrac[ing] the most forceful aspects of the band’s repertoire”, in which “blissful respites and ebbs of calm are fewer and farther between”. Continue reading »