Upcoming Metal Releases: 3/13/2016 – 3/19/2016
Hello friends! I’m taking a short week this time around due to the imminent Hammerheart Ostara Blot Festival. In preparation, I’ll be taking a grueling 9-hour Megabus ride to Minneapolis this coming Thursday. Who will I see there?
Below is a truncated list of metal albums slated for release this calendar week (March 13 through 19, 2016). Though I try to include all the releases I can, it really isn’t possible. Feel free to fill in the blanks by leaving a comment below, or you can even e-mail me! The comment box also doubles as a neat conversation machine, just put your intended (related) conversation starter in the box, press “post,” and watch the responses fly. Be nice, though.
Funeral Moth – Transience | Throne Records | Funeral Doom Metal | Japan
I have always been very partial to Japanese doom metal. As far as I’m concerned, bands like Corrupted, Birushanah, and even Gnome at times transcend the boundaries of the genre and become singular beings. Given that conceit, who would make better doom metal than the founder of legendary doom metal label Weird Truth Productions (seriously, look at that roster? Makoto Fujishima’s Funeral Moth has always been on my radar – I remember listening to The Moth Flying to the Funeral Sky and the subsequent self-titled EP around the times of their releases ten and eight years ago, respectively – but my listening fell by the wayside, even going as far as missing the release of their debut full-length in 2014 (oops!). As a man who is willing to own his mistakes, I definitely dropped the ball with Funeral Moth, and Transience is the bearer of my shame. Undoubtedly comparable to the later full-length works of countrymen (and now woman) Corrupted, Funeral Moth crawls in a similar vein of plodding, ambient, crisp and clean doom metal, though without Corrupted’s sludge trappings. What is so surprising about this latest album is that for as loud an album as it is . . . Transience is uniquely quiet and tender, carrying its weight in raw emotion and carefully planned rhythm. This isn’t your standard “amps at 11/speakers blown out” doom, in fact, I’d say Funeral Moth is much more thoughtful in their sadness. The act of crushing your listeners doesn’t necessarily have to involve leaving them deaf, too.
From my full-album premiere:
“Utilizing elements of the aforementioned darkwave as well as classic “Peaceville 3″ death/doom and Pink Floyd-tinged psychedelia, Plateau Sigma simultaneously remains rooted in their influences, but also transcends through coalescence. To rephrase, while undoubtedly influenced by the aforementioned trilogy, often alternating fluidly between the three, there are moments in which Plateau Sigma becomes something else entirely. A sum of their influences, sure, but efficient and effective in such a way that they become indistinguishable and Plateau Sigma rises above them something new: crushing, atmospheric, downtrodden, expansive. Something sad, painful, beautiful. Maybe there is a sublime ecstasy in pain.”
Read more and listen to the entire album here.
Boris & Merzbow – Gensho: Parts 1 & 2 | Relapse Records | Shoegaze/Drone/Doom Metal/Noise | Japan
Perhaps it is a little out of character for my listening habits, but I love Boris. Yes, their discography is daunting and stylistically inconsistent, if even teetering on the astrobrite and comical, but they’re just so talented that I keep going back for more. Though their massive library touches on stoner rock, shoegaze, sludge metal, crushing drone, post-rock, and the like, their most brilliant moment, though I suppose “moment” is a poor descriptor for an hour-length single track, is their Sun Baked Snow Cave album, more notably their first of many collaborations with Japanese noise superhero Merzbow (Masami Akita). The beautiful union of Boris’s vast swathes of droning ambiance with Akita’s cranky, crackling digital sound felt akin to being lost in a painful, prismatic field. Though other collaborations touched on that sort of brilliance, Boris and Merzbow never fully reached Sun Baked Snow Cave’s brilliance again.
Unfortunately, Gensho follows in those footsteps, but still exists as an interesting, although once repeated anomaly in Boris’s discography. Fellow Boris nerds might remember a certain triple album released on arCHIVE records some eleven years ago, one third of which was titled Drumless Power Ambient Disc. This disc featured just that, previously written and recorded Boris songs, but performed…without drums. It was interesting to hear songs off of Amplifier Worship without Atsuo’s planet-force drums, and apparently they liked doing that enough to do it again. Now with a much wider variety of sounds under their belt, Boris teams up with Merzbow yet again to tackle Boris’s back catalog as flowing, droning ambiance. They even touch on some of my favorite songs (“Farewell,” “Huge,” and “Heavy Rain”), and even have the guts to cover a My Bloody Valentine song, but this ultimately comes off more as a gimmick for big fans like myself instead of a casual Boris listener. Approach with caution, some not-condoned substances, and maybe some Funyuns or Cheetos.
Wormed – Krighsu | Season of Mist | Technical Brutal Death Metal | Spain
In all honesty, I could just leave it short and say, “Dude, it’s Wormed. It’s Wormed” and it should, in a perfect world, suffice in name alone. However, with death metal’s climate, I suppose I should go deeper. In the world of excess, Wormed’s “over the top” mentality really puts them in a class all their own, maintaining an extreme level of intense brutality in the midst of some really stellar musicianship. However, “technicality” and “brutality” aside, as I feel those really aren’t stellar selling points for our readership, Wormed also maintains a really powerful, interstellar atmosphere throughout. I read somewhere on the Nuclear War Now! Forums that 2016 was the year of Space Death Metal, and that about puts it.
Velnias – Tour EP | Independent | Folk/Black/Doom Metal | United States
This one is more of a courtesy to our European friends who will get to see Velnias on tour with Dornenreich. As a bit of a surprise, Colorado dwellers Velnias have dropped a brand new 11-minute monster for the very select few to hear. I know, I know, exclusivity sucks, but word has it this new song will make its way to the public on a wider scale at a later date. Musically, I find this yet-to-be-titled song to be a return to form for Velnias, who had unfortunately lost their way with RuneEater’s meandering, hyper-melodic muck. Now pared down to the core duo of PJV and AJS, the concentration in sound follows as a parallel, and the result is the most potent Velnias material since their 2008 debut (and my favorite), Sovereign Nocturnal. Of course, with four years passed since their last proper release, there is a noticeable evolution in their sound, especially in the lead guitar department, which was generally on the sparser side. The layered approach suits Velnias, and is an exciting signifier for future works.
As a bit of a technicality, as there is no “official stream” for this song yet outside a brief clip on Eisenwald’s Facebook, which I will also embed below, enjoy a video of their last touring lineup (including E of Njiqahdda on guitar) performing this song in Brooklyn last September:
In co-operation with House of Inkantation we prepare a new series of high quality silk screen printed posters. The first two designs are for the upcoming tour of Velnias. Check out the video for a small look behind the scenes and to hear a excerpt of the new music.
Posted by Eisenwald on Thursday, March 10, 2016
Wyrd – Death of the Sun | Moribund Records | Black/Folk/Doom Metal | Finland
Oh wow, how long has it been since Wyrd released something? Seven years? Wyrd was a favorite of mine for a long time, especially Heathen and Huldrafolk. There was something really endearing and personal about “Narqath”’s approach to folky black metal which really spoke to my teenage mind, and, while some of his earlier works haven’t aged rather well, Death of the Sun shows an immense maturing in the Wyrd camp. Armed with a full-lineup, going from solely Narqath’s project to a full six-member lineup, Wyrd takes a few pages from fellow countrymen like Prevalent Resistance and Comic Church and adds a strong sense of sharpness to what is already a very melodic sound. Though Wyrd’s previous works will hold a special place in my heart, I feel that this newest album is a turning point which will transform them from “band I liked in high school and college” to “band everyone won’t shut up about.”
Vorpal Sword – Pain | Rising Beast Recordings | Black Metal/Noise | United States
It wasn’t too long ago when Vorpal Sword grated our ears with his debut 10,000 Stab Wounds, so it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that such a sudden sequel would be “more of the same.” Such doubt is natural, but Roach (Harassor, Moonknight, Dargar, ex-Lord Foul) has never been one to stagnate. Don’t get me wrong, Pain is still incredibly raw, as Roach prides Vorpal Sword on its harshness and noiselike qualities, but a surprise inclusion of the somber melodic sense found in Moonknight makes for an interesting and enjoyable evolution.
The Body – No One Deserves Happiness | Thrill Jockey | Sludge/Doom Metal/Ironic Pop | United States
Is it wrong that I’ve “burned out” on The Body? I mean, I love their first three full-length albums and the collaborations with Thou and Krieg but . . . there’s just too much out there. Well, I suppose it isn’t that it’s too much, it’s that they’ve spread themselves so thin. The Body makes really thick, gross doom metal which really borders on noise and, yes, their collaborations help fill in any gaps, be it the consistent recorded presence of the Assembly of Light Choir, The Body’s melodic sense, Full of Hell’s higher-pitched incoherence . . . it just seems like The Body has shifted from a creative entity to the bland piece of Wonder Bread on which you put peanut butter and your favorite jam, jelly, or preserve. In this case, The Body attempts “synth pop,” and it’s just more of the same but with a different guest member. Sometimes bands need to know when to stop, and I guess I’ll stick to everything before Christs, Redeemers.
Ärid – Tombs of Bewilderment | Eerie Silence | Ambient/Raw Black Metal | United States
You think your black metal band is raw? Think again, but act quick, as Eerie Silence releases tend to be extremely limited.
Nadja – Sv | Essence Music | Shoegaze/Drone/Doom Metal/Ambient | Germany
Much like with Boris, Nadja’s massive discography poses quite the challenge to the uninitiated. Though I do have quite a few favorite Nadja releases, Sv is unfortunately not one of them. I find Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff to be at their strongest when reveling in a thick, repetitive, gloomy riff, and Sv comes off as much more of an “effects pedal worship” ambient album. Though lush and textured, it’s easy to get lost and lose interest in a 40-minute bout of guitar effects. If you want a jumping off point, I’d recommend Touched, Desire in Uneasiness, Radiance in Shadows, The Bungled & The Botched, and even the Long Dark Twenties 7″ (which is actually a cover of a Kids in the Hall song!).
Rotten Sound – Abuse to Suffer | Season of Mist | Grindcore | Finland
With the mass influx of Entombed-worship hardcore and grind over the past five years, I can’t help but envision Rotten Sound having a few drinks before vocalist Keijo Niinimaa throws his Black Minttu across the room and declares they need to “show them all how it’s really done.” And they do. Oh they do.
Morte Incandescente – …O Mundo Morreu! | War Arts Productions | Black Metal | Portugal
Desperate, mournful black metal from one of the most promising scenes in modern black metal. Keep an eye out for those Portuguese bands, dear reader.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
The deep, resonant, terrifying union between Stephen O’Malley championed Russian “Bon”-styled throat singing troupe Phurpa and Californian nightmarish blackdrone duo Deathstench is a philosophically fascinating merging of ancient practices with undeniably modern execution.
Phurpa’s ancient sounding, booming throat manipulation is just that: ancient. Derived from the religious practices of Bon, a pre-Buddhist religion, the deep, resonating sounds emitted from these performers is simultaneously alien and devotional. Their voices fill the room with an immediacy which is fluid and captivating; voices from ages long past speaking through their flaccid throat flaps.
Deathstench, though also deep and devotional, couldn’t be further from Phurpa. Merging the harrowing sensibilities of black metal with power electronics, drone, ritual ambient, and many more, the duo of John Paul Whetzel and Darea Plantin, both of funeral black metal band Welter In Thy Blood are quite literally a metallic extension of the 20th Century school of academic composition. In their sound I hear Darkspace and Stockhausen, both muddled into non-Euclidean terror.
When bringing these two together, the ancient and modern, there should be an immediate clash, and yet Phurpa and Deathstench managed to, from opposite sides of the planet, work in a cohesive union. Distant, clattering, distorted guitar drones and crackling electronics meld with Phurpa’s unique, primordial vocal incantations, echoing off of vaulted ceilings and reverberating as one. This is pure, ritualistic sound, and it is an intimidating listen. There is a lot of sound, both pure and effective, to work through here, but this isn’t the type of release you would want to lose your mind in dissection. No, Evoking Shadows Of Death is meant to be taken in its entirety. This is how collaborations should be.
FROM THE GRAVE
Downfall of Nur – Jhanas-Nur | Avantgarde Music | Atmospheric Folk/Black Metal | Argentina
Last year’s Umbras de Barbagia garnered quite a bit of positive attention, especially given sole musician Antonio Sanna’s mere 19 years of age. Downfall of Nur’s humble beginnings, the raw but promising Jhanas-Nur will see an elegant box set re-issue via their now-home label, the legendary Avantgarde Music.
Ofermod – Mystérion Tés Anomias | I Hate | Black/Death Metal | Sweden
The infamous first EP from an even more infamous band sees yet another vinyl reissue. Does anyone else think the first full-band riff on this EP sounds like the Imperial March from Star Wars? That sound comparison has plagued me for years.
Phobonoid – Phobonoid | Rising Beast Recordings | Industrial Black/Doom Metal | Italy
The actual release date of this harrowing, sweeping industrial metal release date slipped through my fingers (thanks a lot, Dusktone), but now you can own this unique release on pro cassette.
North – Light the Way | Prosthetic Records | Post-Metal | United States
Welp, this is definitely a “post-metal” band, but I’m not super convinced. Not a lot of bands can pull off the “big crescendos and progressive riffs” sound off (Northless comes to mind), and it sounds like North still has to hone their sound.
Black Shape Of Nexus – Carrier | Exile on Mainstream Records | Drone/Doom Metal | Germany
Black Shape of Nexus was one of those bands I couldn’t stand for a long time – they existed on that special “no high end at all/sounds like someone microphoned a mudslide” end of the doom metal spectrum which always turned me off – but the inclusion of more progressive elements like keyboards and heavy sample usage has made for a much more pleasant listen.
Blaze Bayley – Infinite Entanglement | Blaze Bayley Recordings | Heavy Metal | England
Oh man, when will Blaze stop? Sure, he was in Iron Maiden, but he also sounds like he has a bunch of mashed potatoes in his throat.
WHAT WE MISSED
Skuggsjá – A Piece For Mind & Mirror | Season of Mist | Neofolk/Folk Metal/Rock | Norway
My relationship with folk metal is very akin to what you would experience with “the big ex.” As one of the first styles of metal which really clicked with me, I do have a lot of fond memories concerning the bounce of certain melodies and the animated pomp of older songs placed in a very circus-like atmosphere, and yet… It doesn’t quite work nowadays. Like watching old cartoons, bands like Skuggsjá, especially with their Enslaved-meets-Bak De Syv Fjell lineup, nudge that happy sort of teenage nostalgia, but the adult in me finds it all so hokey.
Brånd – Demo 2015 | Tour de Garde | Raw Black Metal | Austria
I’m all for melodrama in my raw black metal, and Austria’s Brånd definitely hits the spot. Raw and unruly, but with a distinct folkish feel in melody (listen to those gruff clean vocals!), this demo flew under the radar last year. I had missed the initial pressing of this cassette, so it’s very pleasing to see it available in much larger numbers.
A:S: – Messa Prima | Tour de Garde | Symphonic Black Metal | Italy
Symphonic black metal is definitely not everyone’s favorite, I know I avoid most of it like the plague, but when tastefully done it can be quite a rewarding listen. A:S: recorded a mountain of demo material in the 1990s but it never saw the light of day until now, and fans of Summoning’s earlier work, as well as works by the likes of Profezia (with whom this project supposedly shares members) should take note.
Starlit Woods – From Eternal Winter Trails | Tour de Garde | Black Metal | Poland
So this is technically only a promo, but Starlit Woods shows a lot of potential in this little cassette. Stark and minimal, definitely followers of Burzum’s self-titled album, From Eternal Winter Trails howls and buzzes with fierceness and distress. Though lacking a bassist, which is a caricature trait to black metal, sure, this duo manages to maintain a significant fullness with minimal execution.