Rabid, hateful, with a penchant for nihilism — that’s how we’d describe Persian black metal duo Zurvan. With their second full-length album, entitled “Gorge of Blood,” creeping closer toward its June 28th release via Satanath Records, we’re pleased to reinforce their bleak outlook on life with a brand new song premiere. It’s called Filthy Calendar of the Time, and it’s an abusive slab of black metal that hits like a rusty steel shovel. Listen up — this one’s gonna bury you.
Zurvan rips from the crypt with a fiery expulsion of thrashy, blackened riffing and red-hot leads. Things pick up quickly — a quarter-note downbeat over a flurry of 32nd double bass notes carries the track forward into a spiraling, blackened abyss. Around the halfway mark, the drums slow to a 6/8 time signature, the rhythm guitar activates its clean channel, and a frenzied solo rises up like a smoldering effigy, a permanent scornful look sewn onto its face that etches itself in your mind through the remainder of the song.
Filthy Calendar of the Time is simple songwriting at its best — vicious verse, caustic chorus, and a sufferingly bleak bridge section/outro. The vocals are potent, yet not overly present — Zurvan is content to let their instruments do the talking, and like any solid nihilistic black metal act, the conversation turns violent fast. The good news is you only have to wait a few more days until you’ve got the whole album, so try to hold out until then, okay?
“Gorge of Blood” releases June 28th via Satanath Records.
Evolution is the key to the continued survival of a species. The same thing can be said about music. As the population of bands playing extreme music grows steadily, there is a need to branch out from the established paths to stand out from the throng. Many bands have realised this need for innovation and as a result, we see more thinning of boundaries between styles (both within metal and outside).
This series of articles has focused on such evolution within the grindcore spectrum, and here is #3 with a few more underground acts that are taking the style forward.
Black metal is one of those genres that does its best to overwhelm the listener, though how a particular band reaches that point varies wildly. In the case of London based Kassad, the one man project achieves this through dense layers of instrumentation that have a warlike feel and cold industrial undertone alongside sprawling introspective soundscapes. Kassad is a relatively new project, having released a three song EP ‘Humans’ last year before composing the seven track full length ‘Faces Turn Away’. Originally released in an extremely limited run of cassettes a few months ago, Hypnotic Dirge Records is set to give the album a CD and digital release on July 6th. Today we’re premiering the fifth song from ‘Faces Turn Away’, Broken.
Chicago’s Atonement Theory is the solo project of Jay Jancetic, who also plays guitar in Harm’s Way and has been involved with a slew of other bands in the past. While Harm’s Way stuck with the heavy and aggressive side of the spectrum, Jancetic’s goal with Atonement Theory is to strike a balance between the heavy and melodic and he’s accomplished that through drum machine driven sludge/post metal. The project’s debut EP ‘Illumination’ came out in vinyl last year, but it’s now getting a digital deluxe version with a new bonus track on July 28th. In advance of the upcoming re-release we’re excited to offer a stream of the EP’s title track, which starts off the five song effort.
LLNN (Copenhagen) and Wovoka (Los Angeles, CA) may be 5,590 miles apart, but their collaborative effort, a split entitled “Traces/Marks” releasing June 16th via Pelagic Records, shares an overwhelming, spirit-crushing bleakness. Luckily, you won’t have to wait to lash your soul to ribbons, as we’ve got the full album for you to hear in its entirety right here.
Although they describe their music as “post-apocalyptic,” that doesn’t even begin to fully describe “Marks,”LLNN’s six-song share of the split. It’s a good jump-start adjective for sure, but you could easily augment it with other dismal soundtrack descriptors like “dystopian,” “cyberpunk,” and even “grimdark.” LLNN wastes no time subjecting listeners to the collapsing condition of their world with the grimy opener The Guardian. Vocalist Christian Bonnesen provides a potent, distinctly human contrast to the mechanized drone synths on songs like Swarms, his belligerent shouts drowning out pealing sirens like defiance against a machine god.
The heaviness on “Marks” isn’t just expressed through the pounding, bottom-heavy guitars — you can almost taste the existential futility stinging like battery acid on the tongue. The songs are short, yet honed to a needle-sharp point — each is a two- to three-minute declaration of dissension and mistrust, creating a seamless throughline of urban decay. The exception is LLNN’s last track, Gravitated, which drifts along like an embellished John Carpenter song, dripping with dystopian dread. It’s disquieting end to LLNN’s side of the split, and an effective segue into the grief-stricken song that follows.
A steady guitar with utterly arid distortion opens up “Traces,”Wovoka’s sole contribution to the split. At over seventeen minutes long, “Traces” is content to take its time dragging us through scorching passages of luminous intensity. Where the “Marks” side of the split had us fearfully peering into a darkened world, Wovoka’s realm is bright and fiery yet not an ounce less punishing. A severe 6/4 time signature drives the majority of the song’s first half, urging the listener ever onward… or suffer an end in a consuming blaze.
A break seems to appear around the nine-minute mark, but it too clangs and shimmers with discordant static, dispelling the illusion of safety. The bass guitar, which had previously grumbled along like a disgruntled sidewinder, takes on a quicker gait, building momentum toward an unseen destination. The vocals undergo a similar transformation — the parched screams you’d heard only moments before now sound ethereal and melodious, uplifting you from your despair… but that too is a mirage. As your inevitable ascension continues over the next five minutes, you are pummeled and whipped by increasingly harsh waves of noise — shattering cymbals, crashing snares, and throbbing guitars. Then, before you know it, it’s all over.
LLNN and Wovoka have come together to create a powerful piece of music in “Traces/Marks.” Both are phenomenal in their own right, but united they take the listener on an odyssey into distinct realms of hellish grief and loss.
“Traces/Marks” releases June 16th via Pelagic Records. Read our interview with LLNN here.
Music to me has always been a gateway away from reality. But these days I come to understand as to how this world’s reality shapes and influences music, while the music itself offers escapism to those that seek it during troubled times. The past few weeks have just added more reasons and examples as to why this world is turning into this terrible place. It’s good that we had some solid metal and punk releases to lean on this month. ~ Shrivatsan R
Amiensus (USA) – All Paths Lead to Death (Black / Death Metal, Apathia Records)
Ljosazabojstwa’s aggressive take on black/death metal turned heads in late 2015 with a rip-roaring three-track demo. Now, with new EP “Sychodžańnie” in the chamber and ready to fire on June 30th via Hellthrasher Productions, it’s clear these Belarusian brawlers will take no prisoners. Take a listen to our premiere of the second track off “Sychodžańnie,” entitled Zhuba.
The midtempo intro/verse alone is enough to get anyone’s noggin nodding in rhythmic fashion, but it’s the following bridge section that shows how capable Ljosazabojstwa has become at shifting genres in such a short time. The sound of a funeral knell halts the assault of the guitars, slowing them down into a trudge with grinding bass and doom-y hammer-ons. The accompaniment of transcendent organs suggest you’re plodding toward a fate that’s at once terrible, majestic, and inevitable, before breaking away with speedy thrash riffing and blackened heaviness. Ljosazabojstwa switches gears into a 6/4 rhythm, followed up by a less-intense (though no-less powerful) slower beat reminiscent of the intro — then it’s back to neck-breaking brutality before a punchy end.
Ljosazabojstwa is able to cram oodles of metal goodness into their songs without making them feel overstuffed. Although not much is known about them as a band, Zhuba proves they have the energy and aggression to be a formidable black/death act to watch this year.
“Sychodžańnie” releases June 30th via Hellthrasher Productions. Read our past interview with Ljosazabojstwahere.
One of the most underrated metal scenes happen to be in Bangladesh, which is burgeoning with all kind of bands and it was only a matter of time till a foray into doom metal was made. We have here a new band called MOONSHINER which comprises of members of PSYCHOTRON and NECROLEPSY. This is a two-song demo that will be a part of their upcoming EP. It’s good enough to get an idea of what the band sounds like and the material over is very promising indeed.
It’s relatively upbeat stoner-infused doom metal with some good riffing that’s matched with able drumming. It’s a tad simplistic but perhaps with more variations and experimentation it’d be even better. The vocals are low and hoarse, muffled, kind of weird given the style but their transmutation into deeper growls could be possible and much preferred. These are two promising tracks and my personal favourite is the second one simply because of the upbeat tone. Whether exploring the stoner or sludge sound or doom metal overall, music that’s going somewhere it always good in my books as opposed to the tunes that wallow in their own misery, unless of course it’s adequately compensated by a suitable atmosphere.
The production is raw but clear and I’d imagine things to sound more powerful and crisp in the EP stage. I love the artwork though – it’s perfect for this kind of material. Well then, don’t take my word for it and give these budding young musicians a chance. Stream the two-song demo in its entirety over here –
When it comes to black metal, there are plenty of bands offering their own take on different variations of the genre but it’s a bit rarer to find groups that feel truly unique. Some have done this through complicated song structures and atmospherics, while others have accomplished a different sound by using unconventional instruments. Los Angeles’ Wreche is the latter, as the duo has written black metal with piano and drums as the only instruments. Piano has often played a role in this genre, particularly when it comes to the symphonic variants, but the way it’s used on this group’s self-titled full length feels genuinely different and delivers a rollercoaster ride of emotions. With the album set for release on May 26th from Fragile Branch Recordings, today we’re excited to bring you a premiere of the song Fata Morgana.