Sep 202020
 

 

I mentioned in the first Part of today’s column that I overcame the usual brain-freeze brought about by the overwhelming volume of interesting new music by separating the attractions into advance tracks and complete new releases. Today’s earlier post was devoted to advance tracks, and I mentioned that I had an idea for how to handle the new complete releases.

In the early days of NCS I began a recurring series called MISCELLANY, which got up to 78 installments before it died away from neglect. The self-imposed rule for that series was that I would pick bands I’d never heard before and listen to one (or maybe two) songs from something new they’d released, record my immediate impressions, and then leave it to readers to decide whether to explore further. That strategy allowed me to sample from albums and EPs that I didn’t have time to review in full, without knowing in advance how the music would strike me (or you).

And that’s almost the same strategy I’ve used in this post — almost, because some of what you’ll find below came to me via recommendations from people I trust. So it’s not quite the shot-in-the-dark of the old MISCELLANY series.

IN VACUO

To begin I picked “Pavlína Kováříkov“, the lead-off track from this Hungarian band’s just-released third album, Urbain Noir — and man, I love it. The guitar leads have a kind of yowling but spooky and sorcerous sound, and the way in which In Vacuo introduce and then twist the central melody is ingenious. The song as a whole proves to be a twisting (and twisted) experience – heavy and battering, deep and drilling, moody and murmuring, jolting and groaning, thrilling in its maniacally glittering tremolo’d vibrations and blood-curdling in the hostility of its varying vocals. Continue reading »

Sep 202020
 

 

When I began to think about what to include in this week’s column I had the usual brain-freeze brought about by the immense volume of choices. This week I decided to deal with that by herding all the singles and advance tracks from forthcoming albums into one stockade, and filling another one with full-lengths that have already recently been released.

From the first herd I picked the tracks included below. I have an idea about how to deal with the riot in the second group, all viciously clamoring for attention, but I won’t say what that is in case I’m not able to follow through. Onward!

KYRIOS

I would like to create a sub-genre called Queasy Black Metal, reserved for music that roils your guts like food that’s gone bad, and messes with your mind like a demonically conceived hallucinogen. I would put this first song under that heading. Its squirming dissonance, freakish angularity, and unstable rhythms are intestinally upsetting and mentally disorienting. Continue reading »

Sep 142020
 

 

As I forecast in Part 1 of this column yesterday, Part 2 focuses on three splits, two of them released within the last week and one of them whose arrival is imminent. And to close this Part, like the first one, I picked an enticing advance track from a forthcoming debut album.

ABDUCTION / NOCTURNAL PRAYER

The first split, Intercontinental Death Conspiracy, pairs the UK band Abduction (from Derby) and the Canadian band Nocturnal Prayer (from the wilds of Newfoundland and Labrador). It was released on September 7th by Inferna Profundus Records in variant LP vinyl editions, and digitally. Continue reading »

Sep 132020
 

 

As you can see, I’ve planned a two-part column today. This part includes too-brief reviews of three albums and comments about an advance track from a forthcoming record. In Part 2 I’ve gathered some splits and another advance track. I haven’t written all of Part 2 yet and am not sure I’ll get it done today, because the Seahawks are playing their opening game of this weird NFL season, and I’m not going to miss it. So, maybe Part 2 comes tomorrow…

BARGHEST

I’ve taken my sweet time writing about Barghest’s new album, not for lack of desire but because of one diversion after another. But it’s an album that I can neglect no longer, because I’ve continued to listen to it off and on since before its mid-July release. And as someone who’s constantly flitting from new thing to new thing, that fact alone is meaningful. Continue reading »

Sep 062020
 

 

The “aggressive” sound of black metal — the blazing tremolo runs, the blasting drums, the shrieking and rasping vocals, the often abrasive levels of distortion — is one of the genre’s hallmarks. But black metal doesn’t always sound angry. Even when the aggressive sound is present and accounted for, the music can also seem dolorous, haunting, hysterical, or mystical (among other sensations). Today’s collection includes many of those other emotional touch-points — as well as fury.

NUBIVAGANT (Italy)

To begin, I’ve chosen two songs from Roaring Eye, the debut album by a one-person Italian project named Nubivagant. The album will draw attention because that one person is both Thorns and Omega, the drummer of Blut Aus Nord, Chaos Invocation, Enepsigos, Darvaza, Fides Inversa, and many other groups). Here, he performs all instruments, and he sings in a tenor voice. That’s right, these songs are exceptions to our rule, but well-earned ones because Omega really can sing. Continue reading »

Aug 302020
 

 

I’ll dispense with an introduction to this closing Part of today’s column. The intro to Part 1 was long enough.

LORD ALMIGHTY

Adam O’Day‘s cover art for Lord Almighty‘s forthcoming second album seized my attention before the music did, but man, the first advance track from that album turned out to be even more attention-seizing.

I didn’t know what to expect, in part because I hadn’t paid attention to this Boston group’s 2015 debut album, Paths, and in part because I hadn’t yet read anything about their new full-length, Wither. Later, I read that their base inclination is rooted in black metal, past and present, but that they bring into their music “a love for NWOBHM, sludge, hardcore, blues rock, and more” — all of which is borne out by “Cry of the Earth“. Continue reading »

Aug 302020
 


Necrophobic

 

I used to joke around here that I made my living as a drug mule, or as a secret adviser to world leaders who were flummoxed about how to solve shattering problems, or as a caretaker for a loris horde that would threaten human survival if I didn’t keep a close watch on their compound near the NCS headquarters. The truth is much more mundane (though I still suspect that covid was hatched in the loris lab). Not that I’m going to advertise the truth, because I still don’t think what I do here would be healthy for me in the world where I collect my paychecks.

Even a few months ago I thought my day job had settled into a long-lasting somnolence, leaving me an abundance of time to spend at NCS. But it has come roaring back. Not a completely shocking development, because the job has always varied among shifting states of intensity, but still a surprise. Last week was particularly demanding, and I fell way behind in paying attention to new metal. Thankfully, I was able to ignore it all day yesterday and spent the hours immersed in music.

Having surfed the tides of metal from near sun-up to sundown, I created the beginnings of half a dozen NCS posts, with four of them devoted to black and “blackened” metal. Most of those will probably remain little more than mind games once the new work week begins, but at least I’ve completed this two-part SHADES OF BLACK, which I hope you’ll enjoy. Continue reading »

Aug 232020
 

 

We’ve made it to another Sunday, and I had enough time over the last 36 hours to find new blackened music to recommend. I found more than you’ll discover in this post, but I’m staring down the barrel of a fully loaded gun (every chamber loaded with day-job work I need to tackle today), so the odds are against working up a Part 2. Let’s get to it:

VONLAUS

Even after the warm reception given to their 2018 self-titled demo (reviewed here), Iceland’s Vonlaus still prefer to remain anonymous, though I see that Metal-Archives has identified two of them as members of Above Aurora (whose new album we premiered and reviewed at great length here). They now have a debut album headed our way next month, and its first single is the song I’ve chosen to lead off today’s collection. Continue reading »

Aug 162020
 

 

Here’s the second Part of today’s column about newly discovered black and blackish metal. If you’ve been following my observations about my vacation, I was waylaid in finishing this Part because the golfers returned.

Thankfully, they seemed none the worse for wear despite the heat (which turned out not to be quite as punishing as predicted), though they did give up after 14 holes. Thankfully, they told very few war stories, but did share some spectacular photos of mountain-and-forest vistas from the course (I’ve left one at the end of this column), and then we tucked into lunch and some mid-day whisky, and then I got back to this writing while they immediately began napping.

Anyway, that explains the odd timing of this post.

PATHWAY (Russia)

You may have noticed that I have a weakness for black metal that incorporates unusual instruments, whether it be woodwinds, brass, horsehair fiddles, or medieval lutes. And thus I was probably predisposed to like the music of the Russian horde Путь (Pathway), because the band incorporate the accordion into their distinctive rendering of atmospheric black metal. Continue reading »

Aug 162020
 

 

I passed a cognitive test this morning. It was even easier than “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.” I turned down the offer to ride around in a golf cart and watch four of my idiot friends embarrass themselves in heat that’s expected to hit 100°F before they finish.

Instead I stayed behind in the place we rented for this mini-vacation with another person who also passed the test, surrounded by vistas of forest and mountains. And I listened to a lot of new black metal, and I wrote this post, which comes in two parts.

SKYBORNE REVERIES (Australia)

The first song in this collection is a fiery storm of sound – synths gloriously burning high overhead, the riffing flowing in scintillating waves and flickering in a mad boil, the vocals a mix of a larynx-lacerating torment and ravaged roars. Continue reading »