Upcoming Metal Releases: 9/11/17 – 9/15/17
Week two of me playing in the UMR sandbox. Jon will be back next week to resume his regularly scheduled… Jon-ness? That doesn’t sound quite right.
Here are the new metal releases for the week of September 10, 2017 – September 16, 2017. Release dates are formatted according to proposed North American scheduling, if available. Expect to see the bulk of these records on shelves or distros on Friday unless otherwise noted or if labels and artists get impatient. Blurbs and designations are based on whether or not I have a lot to say about it.
See something we missed? Goofs? Let us know in the comments. Plus, as always, feel free to post your own shopping lists. Happy digging.
Please note: this is a review column and is not speculative. Any announced albums without preview material will not be covered. Additionally, any surprise releases which are uploaded after this is published will not be covered.
I’ve waxed rhapsodic on these virtual pages before about Fólkvangr Records and their impeccable slate of black metal releases. While the label has focused primarily on reissues or co-releases thus far, Hate Moon’s debut full-length is the first exclusive title in their catalogue, and it’s a damn good one. The Philadelphia-based duo plays lo-fi symphonic black metal heavily indebted to the early 1990s Scandinavian scene, but with a marked Norse-Gael influence, especially in terms of the lyrics. On paper, “lo-fi symphonic” might seem like an oxymoron, but the band make it work because they embrace their limitations. Tuathail’s synthesized string tones seem like they were chosen precisely because of how artificial they sound, but they completely fit the music’s overall aesthetic. Add in Tohmar’s blistering riffs and shrieked vocals that sound corrosive enough to strip the finish off a car, and you’ve got one of the most impressive debut records I’ve heard in a very long time.
Gigan -- Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence | Willowtip Records | Progressive/Technical Death Metal | United States
From my premiere of “Elemental Transmography:”
...progressive/technical death metal outfit Gigan must secretly be spiders from outer space. All due respect to Ziggy Stardust, but based on the psychedelic nebular mind-fuck tendencies of their first three full-lengths, mastermind Eric Heresmann (ex-Hate Eternal) and company have to all possess extra limbs. Nothing else makes sense.
Gigan’s fourth album Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence might be the strongest argument yet for their extraterrestrial origins. A nearly hour-long excursion to the furthest reaches of time and space, the album sounds light-years beyond the comprehension of mere humans, right down to song titles like “Ocular Wavelengths’ Floral Obstructions” and “Hideous Wailing of the Ronowen During Nightshade.” For all the technical ecstasy, though, the music still retains a surprising degree of catchiness and accessibility.
Somehow I completely missed the news that Howls of Ebb decided to call it a day, which likely means With Gangrene Edges is the outré San Francisco duo’s swan song. The three songs they contribute to the split are a bit short by their standards, but still fall in line with what they were doing on their last full-length, Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows -- dense, tumultuous, and more that a little frightening. No band’s music better personified the law of entropy, which roughly states that all things naturally move towards chaos, and they will definitely be missed. As an added bonus here, the other half of the split features the Voivod-on-LSD stylings of Khthoniik Cerviiks. It’s a bit of a mystery to me how their excellent 2015 album SeroLogiikal Scars (Vertex of Dementiia) didn’t garner more attention. Don’t let their predilection for strange spellings dissuade you from listening, because for my money they’re one of the more interesting bands on the current Iron Bonehead roster.
At first blush, Verge’s approach to black metal sounds a bit traditional for an I, Voidhanger band - I generally associate the label with more boundary-pushing acts like Locust Leaves, Spectral Voice, or Ecferus. However, Verge aren’t completely beholden to their apparent second wave influences. Their use of slower tempos, moody chord progressions, the occasional clean vocal, and some uncharacteristically lyrical guitar solos all help elevate The Process of Self-Becoming above the rest of the black metal crowd. It also has that high-concept lyrical premise I’m such a sucker for. Loosely structured around Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s writings about the three phases of man’s ethical development, the record is a concept album divided into three chapters. The lyrics deal with the existential crises an individual must overcome as he or she passes through each stage: the aesthetic (where one lives for pleasure and beauty), the moral (where one finds a direction in life and forms commitments to others) , and the religious (where one transcends earthly desires for a higher purpose). Thought-provoking material to be sure, and Verge give it the treatment it deserves.
Battle Dagorath – II – Frozen Light of Eternal Darkness | Avantgarde | Black Metal/Ambient | International
Even though they take their name from Tolkien, Battle Dagorath are not one of those high fantasy, Ren Faire-sounding black metal bands. II - Frozen Light of Eternal Darkness is a dramatic, hypnotic record, but at almost 80 minutes, it’s also extremely long. Potential listeners must have a high tolerance for ambient synths.
I’ve always appreciated Belphegor’s over-the-top approach to blackened death metal, and Totenritual is another solid entry in their long and remarkably consistent discography. Part of me does wish they would do another Satanic S&M record like Bondage Goat Zombie. Their last couple of records have just been so grim in comparison.
I was kind of looking forward to this Squalus record, which features several former members of Giant Squid. I miss the hell out of that band, but unfortunately The Great Fish does nothing to help ease that ache. It almost sounds like they took all of the least interesting parts of Giant Squid’s sound and said “let’s write an album that sounds like that.” It’s a disappointingly monochromatic record: lots of meandering sludge and goofy lyrics about fish that I think are supposed to be at least slightly tongue-in-cheek. Where’s Jackie Perez Gratz when you really need her?
Blood Tyrant is probably the better known of the two bands on this split (or at least the more prolific), but the mysterious Departure Chandelier is the real draw. Their track “A Supernatural Being Arose from Kindred Stock” makes this one a must buy for fans of raw black metal.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Ardor is one of those rare records that seems damn near impossible to classify. Imagine the most recent iteration of Swans fronted by Julie Christmas, though, and you’re off to a good start. Dense, difficult, and deeply engaging.
Sum of R – Orga | Czar of Crickets | Instrumental | Switzerland
This one’s kind of difficult to describe without engaging in some serious adjective abuse: droning, minimalist, ambient? Avant-garde instrumental soundscapes? Whatever you call it, Orga is a remarkably calm record and reminds me of some of the less guitar-centric projects that Stephen O’Malley does outside of Sunn O))), like Ensemble Pearl. No preview tracks are available for this one, so check out previous full-length Lights on Water instead to get an idea of Sum of R’s sound.
Ensiferum: the kings of elf metal? If you’re into that kind of thing, you already know exactly what this sounds like. If you aren’t, you still already know exactly what this sounds like. Definitely not a vegan-friendly album due to the egregious amount of cheese contained within.
Violent, dynamic black metal in the Dissection/Watain vein, featuring vocals from NSK of Teitanblood.
Vattnet (f.k.a. Vattnet Viskar) used to be a pretty decent atmospheric/post-black metal band. I don’t know what this is supposed to be.
Decent riffs and lots of atmosphere. Plenty enjoyable, if that’s your kind of thing.