I know I’ve whined relentlessly about this, but man alive, there has been a ton of really good music released late in 2014. Maybe it’s a rib on all of us writers who love to be the first ones to register our best-of lists in like, you know, late October. Even I find that annoying, which is why I don’t publish mine until late December. I don’t care if you’re first.
Waiting to consume everything means you give every record and every band an equal chance, and there are two damn good black metal records coming out late in the year that I wonder if they’ll get a proper shake from national magazines and bloggers. I’m not saying they’re certain to make the list here at Meat Mead Metal, but at least everyone involved with these two blistering records will know they got a fair chance. These albums also should please black metal fans with expanded palates for the genre, as the two bands we’ll discuss today could not be more different from each other sonically. Both deliver the fire, and they should heat you up as the nights grow cold and you need something to thaw your heathen heart.
Up first are Richmond, Va., pounders Unsacred, whose new release “False Light” comes your way via the always reliable Forcefield Records. Their sound is raw and vicious, with their mission being igniting the coals, pouring an unnecessary amount of lighter fluid on it, and daring any moron with no sense to get near it. There’s some crust and doom in their sound as well, but for the most part, it’s straight-ahead, rip-through-your-body violence that flat out demolishes. The band—bassist/vocalist Hunter McCarthy, guitarist Miguel Falcon, drummer Scott Bartly—considers this seven-track, 22-minute mauler a full-length, but if you want to consider it an EP, then who cares? They’ll be too busy stomping your guts in to mind for even a second.
The title track kicks off this crazed piece of chaos, ripping open with noise and harsh vocals, complete musical detonation, and a dizzying groove that could leave you maimed. Pretty damn good start to this thing, but there’s no time to breathe as they blast into “Idle,” a song with great riffs, strong melodies lurking behind the blaze, and growls that sound like they’re out for your blood. The band stomps forward with an unforgiving pace, continuing the beating right up to the bitter end of the track. “Plague” changes things up a bit, with a thick drone setting the stage and some doomy moments rising like a fog. But raw growls explode, with the band hitting on a pitch-black groove, and even some spacious guitar work adds oxygen to what’s otherwise a total demolition. “Erode” lives up to its name right away, with feedback eating away and the band launching into a raw, charging tempo treated with demonic-style shrieking vocals. The guitars take on a punk feel, and the drums burst, with the tortured wail of, “Why won’t this just end?” indicating its creators could use some mercy too.
“Void II” unleashes more inventive riffs before they slip into a thrashy section that’s violent and disruptive. The song blasts open, with a fluid black metal-fed melody leading the charge, tricky guitar parts keeping things confusing, and the track hitting on mind-altering tempo shifts that should jar your body around. “Sun” lets the drums spiral and confound, with noise leading toward chunky riffs, and even some sludgy terrain encountered, with McCarthy’s shouts of, “I woke up to a fire burning,” that are sobering in their delivery. Closer “Cage” warns, “Give up! The end is near!” as the band pours on apocalyptic madness, relentless speed, and a vicious sense of hopelessness that brings this smasher to a close. This is volatile, crushing black metal that’s played with no frills and no concern given over who they hurt along the way.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/unsacredva?ref=br_tf
To buy the album (out Dec. 9), go here: http://shop.forcefieldrecords.org/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.forcefieldrecords.org/site/
On the other end of the spectrum come NYC beasts Vorde, one of the strangest sounding, psychologically messed up bands in all of black metal. There’s nothing expected about this band, certainly nothing predictable in their DNA, and when they stretch their mangy black wings, there’s nothing but fright to behold. These mysterious, faceless ghouls (made up of members of Fell Voices, Ruin Lust, and Anchorites) make dizzying, ferocious sounds, and the vocals really stand out as the strangest element on their self-titled first release (a joint release by Psychic Violence and Fallen Empire). They sound like they’re emanating from the throat of an alien priest hosting a séance, and if you’re looking for sing-along lines and things to yell back live, you’ll be searching for a long time. Meanwhile, the band will be lurking behind you to capture you and force feed you their occult messages.
The oddness begins with the “Intro,” a brief, chilling track that leads into “Hatewave,” a song that begins on an aggressive, bloody note, with the voice wailing as if in the midst of a trance and the band sitting in the background building a wall of fury. The vocals remain creaky and blood-curdling, and the destruction keeps piling up until the song finally comes to its finish. “Transformation of the Vessel” is the shortest full track at 4:20, with weird vocal transmissions again taking the spotlight and the music absolutely blaring in the most oppressive manner possible. There are dark, sinister melodies that snake into the track, the guitars get tangled and hypnotic, and the warbled final words leave you with a sense of mystery and fear. “Blood Moon” runs 9:06 and begins on a trickling deathrock note. Moaned howls lead into the music opening up and eventually lurching growls make this song feel inhuman and unsettling. The composition sounds like it is trying to raise long-dead spirits, and once those ghouls return, the band finishes you off with carefully meted-out horror.
“Crown of Black Flame” is a 10:33-long behemoth, the lengthiest track on the album and in many ways, the most deadly. The dreary guitars that adorn the first part remind a bit of Xasthur’s deeper cuts, the ones where you feel like your own demise might be welcome. The music is snarled and strange, and mysterious vocals arrive just before the thing blows open and gets both powerful and heavy. The vocals turn to desperate, almost like pained cries that will not be soothed, the guitars make ghostly, charnel winds, and a cosmic frigidity ends this one and leads directly into 8:50 closer “Funeral Vortex.” That track is forceful, melodic, and deadly, with an alien temperament to the vocals, of course, and lots of tempo changeups to keep you alert. About halfway through, things get really ugly and vicious, and even the vocals take on more of a deathy feel, with the music starting to cascade like dying stars meeting Earth. Things even reach into gothic, New Wave territories before sinking into the darkest, dampest reaches of land. This is a scary, disarming experience like no other metal band can provide. Approach with caution, because once you submit, you’re never coming back.
For more on the band, go here: https://soundcloud.com/vorde
To buy the album, go here: http://psychicviolence.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://psychicviolencerecords.blogspot.com/
And here: http://www.fallenempirerecords.com
These are two tremendous late-year additions to the black metal canon, with the only crime either committed is putting music out there beyond the point when many people are still paying attention. Both Unsacred and Vorde are the real deal, each working on building scary altars on their respective ends of black metal’s killing floors and standing as two of the genre’s most promising newer acts.