Well, I’m finally back with another handful of EP’s that I picked out of the torrential downpour of communication that is my inbox. Well, except for one but I’ll let you, the ever astute reader, figure out which one that is. These three albums are sort of all over the board, but when aren’t they? This column has never really been about cohesion.
Necromatic Ritual – The Calling
Spooky grim name indicative of occult sensibilities? Check. Minimal information available about the band online? Check. Robed figures adorning the cover? Check. From just a cursory glance, it looks like this new EP from Necromantic Ritual, “The Calling”, will be a by the numbers, one dude and his four track recorder affair, destined to join the countless others like it lining the bottom of my inbox. That is, until I hit play and the spookiest of spooky keyboards crescendoed forth through my headphones. And then the chanting to the Old Gods that lie dead but dreaming joined it. What really sealed the deal though was the brash guitar solos that burst forth from the songs that (barely) contain them. That isn’t bedroom black metal grim “kvlt” material kids – that’s the sound of someone who knows how to write interesting music and doesn’t seem to give too much heed to what we now consider traditions. They aren’t mind-blowing solo’s or anything, but their mere presence is what makes Necromantic Ritual stand out. Combine these with the keyboards that add an almost choral element at times and you have something well worth your time. Definitely a band to watch.
Scour – s/t
It’s Phil, he’s back with another new crew of relative unknowns and young bloods, and he’s doing something he hasn’t really done before. Not much of it anyways. He had the Viking Crown project back in the day, which basically sounded like a Norwegian demo tape of the era (see: shit vocals, possibly recorded in a bathroom) so success I guess? Scour is a much more balanced, thought out and (relatively) palatable evolution of that. It still keeps its the Norwegian Second Wave trappings but the production value is bolstered by a decade of experience and I would assume a desire to get this black metal in as many ears as possible. Not everyone likes the raw, 2 mic/no mix approach to black metal, so upping the production values is fine by me.The guitar work on “Tear Gas” is probably the highlight of the album for me, erratic and fast complemented Anselmo’s almost hardcore-stye barking. The “non-traditional” vocals are one of the the best parts of the album, as they are the least anticipated element. Everything else though, is exactly what you would expect from black metal. It’s well played of course, but the music doesn’t really going anywhere we haven’t gone already a number of time with an infinite number of bands. If you have done any real amount of digging in the genre, hearing this release is far from necessary. Its well played, well produced and I’m sure performs fantastically live, but I’m not convinced that I needed to hear it. On the other hand, for those who are maybe curious but off-put by the general ridiculousness that some (most!) black metal bands subscribe to this could provide a solid entry point. Like I said, veterans need not apply but the curious and of course Anselmo lovers of all colours will dig this album.
Dulvitund – Huldar Slóðir
You know what I covet most in summer? I mean aside from the cannibal movies that allow me to pretend I’m in a verdant inferno and not some semi-arid dust blown city? Experiences that fill my insides with coldness; air conditioning for the soul. Dulvitund provides some solace from that dusty heat with “Huldar Slóðir”, building soundscapes with textures pulled from a frozen realm. Or a Casio or three. Whatever wizardry they’re performing, I’m into it. The themes being worked with here are “the human condition and crippling depression” and the sound elements being used are suitably bleak enough to convey this. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t some hope lurking in the corners though, the sounds evoked about midway through “Minningar Um Þjáningar” proving just this. The primitive and raw nature of the project, especially the percussive work, also lends it a certain charm though one that might begin to lose its lustre as a full length release plays on. But here, on “Huldar Slóðir,” it works well. Fans of electronic soundscapes constructed by the likes of Mamiffer will probably enjoy exploring some of the music here.