Jul 072019
 

 

As you can see, I’ve planned a two-part SOB again. I doubt I’ll finish Part 2 in time to post it today, and even if I do, I think I’ll defer it to Monday anyway. With so many new-music round-ups lately, I’m afraid we’re at risk of overloading people already, especially because this Part 1 includes four full releases in addition to the two advance tracks I’ve placed at the beginning (and there are additional complete releases in what I have in mind for Part 2)..

NOCTEM

We’ve been closely following the progress of the Spanish band Noctem since 2011, when they released their second album, Oblivion. Four of us have written about the band over the years since then, amassing 16 different posts about them (including two interviews). Obviously, we are fans. But we have equally been persistently curious about what they would do next.

Noctem’s music has always been a blend of death and black metal, but the sound hasn’t remained stagnant. It might go too far to say there has been a continuous trajectory over time, but in general it seems like in the earlier years they were more death-metal focused, whereas the last album, 2016’s Haeresis, leaned more toward the black metal elements in their sound. Based on the title track from their new album, The Black Consecration, it sounds like they’re leaning even harder in that direction, and have in other ways made shifts in sound from their last record. Continue reading »

May 232019
 

 

(DGR reviews the new EP by Polish extreme metal veterans Vader, which will be released on May 31st by Nuclear Blast.)

It doesn’t feel that long ago that we were musing on the idea, prompted by Vader’s previous EP Iron Times — prior to the full-length The Empire in 2016 — that the group’s habit of putting out an EP just before an album release often served as excellent preview of where the long-running Polish death-metal/thrash-metal group’s head-space was currently at, and what sort of album we might be getting from them soon after.

It’s a serious consideration with Vader, because unlike many other death/thrash hybrids the group often aren’t a hardcore fusion of genres, where elements from both are clearly recognizable all the time. Vader have two methods of operation: They can actually be a full-blown thrash band, or a fully furious death metal band. When they mix the two, they often lean hard into one side. When they are in a full-on thrash mood, it is like they could’ve easily headed the genre as a whole, and when they go for the blast-furnace style of death metal played at high pace, it seems like they could do the same thing there. Continue reading »

May 162019
 

 

It’s fair to say that most of our premieres, even for genuinely underground bands who are seeking neither fame nor fortune, are arranged by PR agents and labels — but certainly not all. Our mission is only to spread the word about metal that makes a strong and positive impression, music that moves us and that we think might move you, regardless of how we learn about it. Here is an example of that, which came our way via a message from the band itself, and which we then sought permission to premiere.

The band is Lux Nigrum (“black light”), which is the work of Chilean solo artist Azerate, aided by session drummers. On this new EP, Burning the Eternal Return, the drums were performed (with extraordinary skill) by Holycaust, the man behind the Chlean black/thrash band Morbid Holocaust. Conceptually, the EP is about “the destruction of the cosmic order imposed by false gods through the sacrifice of the Ouroboros (when you can recognize it’s representation as a tyrannical form of eternal emptiness and absurd repression) putting an end to the cycle of life and death”, and thus it concerns “rejecting the life given (not denying it) and dissolving the ego that binds us in an earthly way, to accept the return to the Primordial Chaos”. Continue reading »

May 132019
 

 

Gustaf Fröding, who died in 1911, is considered “one of the greatest poets of verse that Sweden has ever produced”. In his own life he struggled with alcoholism and mental illness, and according to the same source just quoted, “His poetry combines formal virtuosity with a sympathy for the ordinary, the neglected and the down-trodden, sometimes written with his own dialect. It is highly musical and lends itself to musical setting….”

While musical adaptations of Fröding’s verse have been wide-ranging, the range is even wider now because the Swedish death metal band Mordbrand have made two of Fröding’s poems the lyrical subject of songs that will be released digitally and in a 7″ vinyl format on May 15th, via De:Nihil Records — and today it’s our pleasure to present streams of both tracks: “Döden” and “Efter Döden“. Continue reading »

May 102019
 

 

With this review I’m making amends as well as a recommendation. Every year I encounter dozens of new records I wish I had time to write about, and often even intend to write about, but nevertheless fail to mention. In 2016 one of those was a self-titled EP by the Irish duo Gourd, a mountainously heavy and monumentally disturbing creation whose substantial run-time not only called into question Gourd’s classification of the release as an EP but also threatened the long-term well-being of anyone who listened to it.

I intended to write about Gourd, and should have, but Cursed Monk Records‘ impending release of a new Gourd EP, Moldering Aberrations, affords a chance for personal redemption. In one fell swoop I get to insist that you listen to that 2016 record AND that you check out this new one at the earliest opportunity, especially if there’s just too damned much happiness in your life. Continue reading »

May 102019
 

 

Much could be written (and has been written) about Ungoliant, the dark spider queen “from before the world” who played a role in J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Silmarillion and was mentioned in The Lord of the Rings. Also known as Gloomweaver (because she was capable of generating impenetrable darkness), she gave birth to a race of giant spiders, and her own unremitting hunger was so great that she consumed herself.

With that bit of background, it becomes apparent from the music of the Ukrainian symphonic black metal band Ungoliantha why they based their name on that giant dark spider. One might find other clues to the music from the spooky cover art of their new EP, The Howl in the Waste — a collage of black cats, skulls, and Gothic spires. There is indeed an atmosphere of supernatural horror and terrible grandeur that pervades the EP, manifested in different ways across its five tracks — all of which we’re streaming today in this exclusive premiere. Continue reading »

Apr 292019
 

 

Last fall we had the opportunity to premiere a song from Devoted To Nothingness, the new EP by the Greek black metal band Sorgelig. The EP was eventually released in January, digitally and in a limited cassette tape edition. I had intended to write more about the EP following our premiere, and now (finally), I will. The delay is not all bad, because we’re now only days away from the release of a 12″ vinyl edition of Devoted To Nothingness by Iron Bonehead Productions (it’s due on May 3rd).

Sørgelig, who share three members with another band we’ve written about before (Isolert), released their first EP in 2017 (Forever Lost) and then an excellent debut album (Apostate) in the spring of last year. This new EP (which includes 8 tracks) represents a few changes. Continue reading »

Apr 232019
 

 

I’m torn between the desire to back-track and continue to catch up on new advance songs that I failed to notice over the nearly three weeks when I couldn’t devote time to round-ups, and the steady impulse to focus on things “hot off the presses”. This particular collection reflects that schism: There’s a bit of both in here.

GAAHLS WYRD

The timbre of Gaahl‘s voice dominates the opening of “Carving the Voices“, which Metal Hammer premiered a week ago. Like a prophet who might actually be clairvoyant or an ancient enchanter who has just emerged from a centuries-long imprisonment within a gnarled oak, the deep resonance of his voice conveys the possession of wisdom both profound and full of dread. Continue reading »

Apr 212019
 

 

To have any hope of finishing Part 2 of today’s column I’ve had to carve off some of the releases I had intended to write about too. Painful decisions to be sure, but between Part 1 and what follows in this Part 2, there’s probably too much music for any normal person to focus on already, and too many threats to your financial solvency if you like all of it well enough to go on a spending spree.

Part 1 was devoted to advance tracks from forthcoming releases (and one new single), but this installment includes complete streams of five new EPs, which ought to be enough to thoroughly burn this Easter to the ground. (Four of them are “name your own price” at Bandcamp.)

DRATNA

In the space of little more than a year, the Northern Ireland one-man black metal band Dratna (which is its creator’s name rendered in a medieval Irish language) has released three EPs of increasing quality and coalescing focus. The first two were Clíodhna and Altar (reviewed here), and the latest is An Cath (The Battle), which was on released April 20th. Continue reading »

Apr 182019
 

 

In October 2017 we premiered a demo named Astral Necrosis by the Italian band Devoid of Thought, whose name I thought would also describe the mental state of listeners exposed to the demo’s three tracks. The music was a whipsawing amalgam of death metal and thrash, with the kind of blazing instrumental performances and brain-spinning intricacy that might lead one to slap a “progressive” label on the ingredients as well — except the music seemed too maniacal and vicious for that word. It was insanely good, and also just insane.

Now Devoid of Thought are returning with a new EP, which proves to be just as severely destabilizing and perhaps even more ghoulishly fascinating than Astral Necrosis. Entitled Cosmic Apoptosis, it will be released on April 19th — tomorrow! — by Caligari Records, but we’ve got a full stream for you today. For those who’ve encountered  the earlier demo, you’ll have a decent idea of what’s coming. The following paragraphs are for everyone else — because it would just be cruel to expose newcomers to these three tracks without some kind of warning. Continue reading »