Frost is taking hold as the year continues into its late stages, but the relentless strength of metal is evident with these selections from October. A raw darkness endures while including progressive nuances, and it also drifts into psychedelia while battlefields and the abyss take wondrous symphonic form. Bleakness is especially pronounced at varying levels, and it reaches epic realization in these dynamic settings. As always, this is just a small sample of what became last month, and I welcome any attention toward other great new releases from this time.
ENSLAVED Caravans to the Outer Worlds
The progressive metal Vikings are back one year after Utgard, which was the second album to receive a full review on this blog. It also ended high on the 2020 list, and this new EP supplements its expansive sound while forming a possible link to the future. A hostile climate and psychedelia merge with a wide array of details, and their influence surrounds riffs that similarly extend from blackened roots. An entrancing flow from the heaviness progresses with other noted structures, and they interact with synths to invoke memorable impressions. Clean and spoken expressions accompany the harshness for ranges of vocal diversity, which all complement their specific arrangements throughout, and the focus is directed toward creating vast soundscapes with two purely instrumental tracks. Interesting melodic developments occur with guitar effects to match the synth output, and acoustic passages coincide with folk elements in the midst of an imaginative aura. This is a brief but enjoyably potent detour between realms to raise anticipation for a new full adventure from ENSLAVED.
TERDOR De Goddeloze Tolgaarder
These Netherlanders have returned with their fourth full-length execution titled DeGoddeloze Tolgaarder, and numerous intriguing formations occur within the raw medium of its two massive tracks. Tremolo riffing and melodies embody a harsh cold with hypnotic qualities, along with epic forces directed into their progressions, and they integrate thrashing shifts that bring a vicious edge to the bleakness. Their coinciding rhythms change appropriately from blast beats to groove for the surfacing of other melodies, and some utilize pinch harmonics or reach frenzied technical extremity with lead effects. Dissonant arpeggiations conjure a menacing presence in the riffs, and the darkness intensifies when these drift into slower passages for a chilling sense of doom. Anguish is detected in the rasp of certain vocal deliveries, and spoken commands also assist in driving the havoc, which sustains its ruthlessness as different textures continue interacting throughout. This work satisfies cravings for primitive black metal while revitalizing its spirit with progressive undertones.
OGEN / THE SCARS IN PNEUMA The Eerie Chronicles
These Italian entities have joined their individual perspectives on gloom into a work of seething blackness with The Eerie Chronicles. It’s the first output from OGEN in ten years, and they introduce a bleak atmosphere with clean melodies and instrumental effects as the distortion materializes. A mid-paced rhythm launches the force of melodic and heavy riffing, and a malevolent tone evolves while intertwining with ominous arpeggiated elements. Clean and whispered vocals appear in the midst of harsher varieties to reflect an orchestrated emptiness, which is further conveyed through sounds of the void, and other intricacies unfold in arrangements combining harmonics and dissonance with haunting ambience. An industrialized beat is observed before THE SCARS IN PNEUMA parallel this aura with two tracks, and a dreariness from rainfall leads on with lower desolate notes. Their melancholy is prolonged until blast beats and tremolo melodies seize an entrancing hold, and their dismal burden is compounded by groove shifts and a trace of demonic influence in the guttural vocal depths. This experience is a welcome return that hopefully serves as a prelude to full-length manifestations to come.
NECROMANTIA To the Depths We Descend…
The Greek warlocks perform their last rites on a fifth and final opus titled To the Depths We Descend…, and a mass of exemplary songcraft is carried out on this epic farewell. Guitars are resurrected to assume the mighty role once held by their renowned 8-string bass, and a classic essence is embodied in riffs with tremolo melodies as they advance through blast beaten fury and slower groove rhythms. These are augmented by ambient notes that emanate with an arcane power, along with the menacing appearance of other sounds, and they continue in hellscapes created by various haunting keys and choral voices. Sinister vocals mirror the energy in the orchestrations, and mournful vibrations arise as their expansive symphonies soar even higher with solos and melodic accompaniments. Thundering bass lines are also noted, and the instrumental tracks include saxophones with acoustic strings and other diverse elements. The diabolic majesty of an illustrious discography comes full circle with the rerecording of two iconic tracks, and their renewed likeness fits the magnitude of this intoxicating work. It’s sad to see a legendary act come to an end, and even worse that a revered life has passed, but this is surely an ideal way to honor Baron Blood and the band’s legacy.
1914 Where Fear and Weapons Meet
This battalion from Ukraine delves into the trenches once again on their third full campaign, and Where Fear and Weapons Meet dares to enter no man’s land with its orchestral depictions of war. The riffing charges alongside rapid drum patterns that shift for turbulent effect, and tremolo melodies provide epic reinforcements throughout. The arrangements become massive as lower-pitched horns converge with the heavy progressions, which then advance through various rhythms to enhance the doom, and a despairing weight is similarly conveyed in layers of anguished vocals. This depressive tone also manifests in the clean sung delivery and harmonicas of a bluesy acoustic track. Gloom is contrasted by moments of heightened rage, and their lack of mercy is compounded when rhythmic flow meets with clean vocals on certain sections. A grim outlook prevails in dissonant notes, with a wake of desolation further portrayed by different ambient harmonic effects, and lead melodies emerge with solos to bring on a euphoric finale. Bagpipes are incorporated in a metal rendition of Eric Bogle’s “The Green Fields of France,” and militaristic drumming embodies the wartime aura along with numerous sample recordings. 1914 ultimately crafts an immersive shell-shocking encounter with the horrors and psychological strain of this historic era.