Bleak Metal turns five years old today. What?!? Where does the time go? Time flies….etc etc…. But honestly, five years is a long time and also no time at all.
I’ve chosen to talk about three bands that are shaping the future of metal (one them has been doing so for as long as I’ve been listening to metal) and will continue to do so. They are bands that push forward, bands that are passionate and bands that create music that speaks to all aspects of the human condition. Two are bands releasing their debut records and one is a band on their seventh (and probably the most “mainstream” album you’ll ever see on here). Here goes….
Ancst – Moloch
Ancst have been making music for a number of years (they were reviewed here way back in 2013) yet Moloch is their first official full length. That’s not to say that the band have been taking it easy, oh no, this is a project that have no concept of taking it easy and the time since their inception has been coloured with EPs, splits, compilations and a rigorous touring schedule. Moloch is the sum of all that effort and is a record that speaks of despair, darkness, inner turmoil and social awareness. It’s furious for the most part but there are small shining moments that are shaded with sadness and regret and pack an emotional heft that is all too real.
Ancst talk of the huge problems we face as a collective society and Moloch is their manifesto; the album allows them to vocalise their concerns and the result is a furious, deadly record that has no room for breath. It’s fast and moves with an impressive speed, opener “Moloch” setting the pace immediately. “Behold Thy Servants” incorporates a gorgeous guitar line that works against the harsh, punishing vocals and creates a varied harmony that settles under the skin before blowing all semblance of peace away with a ramped up section that leaves you winded. Ancst are terrifying in their ability and the melding of black metal and hardcore works entirely in their favour. There’s room for intensity and sadness in equal measure and Moloch holds both close to its core. The album is an emotional journey and truly a step up for the band. They have so much to say that ten tracks doesn’t seem like anywhere near enough time, but for a band so prolific, finding the time to voice their opinions won’t be difficult at all.
Check Ancst’s bandcamp for information on buying Moloch and their back catalogue.
Deftones – Gore
White Pony changed a lot of things for Deftones; it was the record where they finally found their groove and a one in which fans were on board with almost immediately. It’s a record that shifted Deftones into an altogether new era of sound and that expansion has been building ever since. Of course, there’s been some blips on their journey but we don’t need to talk about that. Here we talk about the music and Gore once again sees the band moving into new territory.
The record builds on Koi No Yokan’s experimental phrases and plays with shades of light and dark bringing a weighty, emotional depth to Deftones that hasn’t been heard for a while. The songs are mature and as the band have grown, both musically and personally, then so has their sound. The dynamics of Gore feel like classic Deftones and their sound is instantly recognisable but there’s a much more sophisticated palette at play here. Post-rock inflections filter through the guitars and electronic elements and opener “Prayers/Triangles” plays with abstract lyrics and deliberate movements while creating memorable sounds and an atmosphere of experimentation. “Hearts/Wires” is a dissonant love song underneath its bizarre configuration of words and its here that Deftones truly shine. The track hides a sadness that isn’t immediately apparent but delve under the surface and it’s all too plain to see.
“(L)MIRL” slips in shimmering post-rock guitars and Chino Moreno uses his voice to huge advantage; singing comes naturally but his hoarser moments add colour to a song that could otherwise have fallen a little flat. Deftones are on peak form with this record and closers “Phantom Bride” and “Rubicon” serves to show that they are far from done. The former showcasing a huge, expansive and morose sound with climbing, sorrowful guitars while the latter pulses on powerful beats and strides towards a more hopeful future.
For a band who have making music for as long as they have, there’s a tendency to become complacent, but this band have so much more to give and create. There’s many views that Gore is a record that will grow on you but honestly, it’s difficult to connect to that kind of feeling because there was an immediate reaction to this record for me. It is true though, that the album will reveal much more on repeated listens and if it doesn’t grab you initially, then persevere because Gore is so rewarding in its honesty and complexities.
Our Place of Worship is Silence – The Embodiment of Hate
Our Place of Worship is Silence haven’t had the easiest road and the release of this record is marred by a profound sadness. One of their founding members is sadly not here to see the fruits of their labour released into the world but the band are taking that grief and channelling it into something productive, and for this Californian project who have roots in the local underground, 2016 is a time to look forward.
The Embodiment of Hate is a dirty, heavy ride and the record is a good indication of just how filthy this band will get with time. They have taken all that is horrific in this world and turned it into a form of expression and the chaotic undertones of death metal speak of rumbling dissent. “Feast of Martydom” is a deep, frantic composition that entwines dissonant riffs with jarring vocals and a fire that burns at its core – a feeling that runs throughout the record and gives it an immediate and dangerous aura. “To Deceive the Universe” spits with vengeance and “Our Place of Worship” pits deeper, guttural roars against pained, higher screams giving a sense of an inner battle for control. It’s a disturbing track and one that lodges in the mind and leaves the record with a distinct identity. Our Place of Worship is Silence have the skills and passion to continually push forward and The Embodiment of Hate is a great step towards that goal.
The Embodiment of Hate will see a release in the next few months via Broken Limbs Recordings. Keep your eyes open.