October is always a release heavy month. Possibly because of it’s close proximity to Halloween (our Halloween Edition podcast is here), arguably a metal holiday, or maybe because it’s the start of the dreary seasons in the parts of the world that aren’t Australia. Whatever the reasons are, I’m always happy to listen to a ridiculous amount of music so I can impart the darkest, most brutal releases on to you. Just like an old man dropping a handful of sweaty candy into that mostly empty, pumpkin shaped bag of a scared child, I give you the following…
Katla – Móðurástin
Released: October 27th, 2017
Katla is one of the two things; something primal and old waiting to erupt, or a dormant volcano in Iceland. The debut album from Icelandic duo Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson and ex-Sólstafir Guðmundur Óli Pálmason, is obviously the former. It could be called just a rock album, but it’s influences and dynamics reach far more broadly than that. ‘Hreggur’ reeks of ambient post rock with almost black metal riffs whilst ‘Dulsmál’ would happily find its home on any sludge album as an ambient last track, and as such does the perfect job as just that on this album. Speaking of ‘Dulsmál’, the vocals harmonising with the strings is absolutely glorious; an Icelandic angel has descended to the gritty reality that is our lives to bring us out of the darkness and to bathe us in shades of grey instead.
As Móðurástin progresses from ‘Aska’ onwards, new elements are added each time, yet the identity of the album is never lost, if anything it only solidifies the sheer creativity of the two minds involved. It is clear by listening that you are listening to veterans of their craft do what they do best, and that is craft masterpieces. Everything about the album feels predetermined, from the distortion in ‘Móðurástin’ to the production that sounds so very expansive and organic. Katla have created an album that is not only bubbling with creativity, but is overflowing with finesse. My only regret is that I don’t have time to write a thousand more words regarding how amazing this album is.
Throane – Plus une Main à Mordre
Released: October 20th, 2017
Releasing an album in 2016 often gives fans an expected two to three yeas for the next release, so imagine my surprise (and oh so deep despair) when I saw that Throane had released another album only eighteen months after their last, Derrière-Nous, La Lumière. This current album is as bleak as it gets, a ferocious assault on the listener only tamed by oppressive, dirge like drones that make one feel oddly enough less at ease than the relentless, harrowing assault that make up the bulk of the instrumentation. Throane are much more than your run of the mill black metal outfit; Throane are all of your worst dreams combined with a hard thrust of the knife blade into your spine… With a twist for good measure.
The title track has to be one of THE most depressing things I’ve heard all year (and I just listened to Amenra’s Mass VI for a solid week [review here]). ‘Plus une Main à Mordre’ is everything that Throane is, packed into one song like a corpse in a suitcase. The ethereal, chanting vocals conjure images of tendrils of brume working their way into your lungs while you scream for help. The cymbal heavy drums evoke flinches and squinted eyes as they repeatedly crash and crash and crash through your skull. The droning guitars sting your eyes with tears and leave you short of breath, making you panic as you search for a way out of the madness you’ve willingly offered yourself to. Plus une Main à Mordre is nothing short of stylistic and artistic perfection.
Coutoux – A Hell on Earth
Released: October 13th, 2017
I’m not sure how avidly you follow my writing (but I have a guess), so I’m going to let you in on something: I fucking love electronic music. Give me something that sounds like static with people being immolated behind it, and I’ll be happy, and funnily enough, A Hell on Earth comes close. It sounds like Nine Inch Nails crossed with Gessafelstein’s Conspiracy EPs. Eerie synths and a thumping bass, supplemented by a fervent use of the hi hat lay the base of the album, yet songs like ‘The Sacred Burial’ forgo this identity entirely to deliver an injection of synth heavy black metal straight to the frontal lobe. This isn’t a bad thing either, the album is a showcase of the entire range of influences that are swirling in the black soup of Coutoux’s head.
Be it the sludgy electronics on ‘Empire of the Dead’ or the Portishead-esque industrial on ‘The Corpse Awakens’, any fan of synth and metal will find something that appeals to that reptile brain that sends those electronic signals of aggression and fear shooting through the fingertips. Closing track ‘Hell on Earth’ is also a notable standout. Layer upon layer of synth and buzzing feedback is heaped upon a trudging bass that sounds absolutely gargantuan in proportion to the rest of the album. It really is a (trick or) treat.
By — Dylonov Tomasivich