Rumblings From the Underground: Ancress (Song Premiere), Anciients (Interview), Anaal Nathrakh + More
Is there anything better than some filthy, underground bestial metal at the tail of October as we gear up for Halloween? Nope! There's some absolutely disgusting stuff in this month's Rumblings From the Underground, so ditch the "Monster Mash" and send the fear of the God Below into all those little trick-or-treaters at your doorstep. Actually... don't ditch that song, it's still pretty awesome.
Anyway, we're here to talk about some new music and this month we're kicking it off with a song premiere from "scum metal" hardcore fist-swingers Ancress. "A Mother's Love" is the first track off their Victoria/Jeiunium release, sending a rush of Neurosis by way of Holy Terror (let that one sink in) through your veins.
Abrasive and chaotic with the subtlety of a cinder block to the face, this track is a real earth-ripper with slugfest riffing at the end that will send you parading shirtless down the neighborhood thumping your chest like the animal you've always known yourself to be. Each song on the record was based off the paintings of Polish surrealist Zdzisław Beksiński, one of the most disturbing artists there's ever been and one of the works can be seen in the Soundcloud player.
Check out the song directly below and order your copy of the record, which drops on Nov. 18 through Hypaethral Records, right here.
As for the rest of what you'll find this month, there's an interview with Anciients guitarist and vocalist Kenneth Cook as well as a review of their marvelous cinematic extreme prog. The rest of the albums in the review section are significantly less polished with Anaal Nathrakh, Ulcerate, Vashna and Void Meditation Cult contributing some of the best records this year in an unbelievably solid month.
Anaal Nathrakh, 'The Whole of the Law'
Anaal Nathrakh's nightmarish grinding black metal is channeled into their latest platter, The Whole of the Law. The band sounds completely re-energized on their freshest sounding record since Hell Is Empty..., adding glitchy electronic elements to make the flames glow just bit hotter, a bit higher and a bit brighter.
Fans know exactly what to expect from these guys; a spiraling vortex of earth-cracking fury that serves as the soundtrack to the rapture. One of the most adrenaline-fueled moments come toward the end of "In Flagrante Delicto" where Dave Hunt hyperventilates, growling through clenched teeth like Frankenstein freeing himself from chained restraints.
Listen to Anaal Nathrakh | For fans of Aborym, Dragged Into Sunlight, The Axis of Perdition
Anciients, 'Voice of the Void'
Hopefully you're already plenty familiar with Anciients as we offered an exclusive album stream of Voice of the Void earlier this month. The Canadian progressive act marries Mastodon's frenetic guitar work with Opeth's sprawling songcraft ambitions, keeping a focus on gleaming clean vocals presiding over the bellowing growls.
Each member's contribution is top flight on their own accord as well as the interaction between everyone, making a front to back listen not just recommended, but mandatory. Each listen will peel back new layers of Voice of the Void, a rich reward for those willing to dive into the boundless waters of one of this year's deepest albums.
Listen to Anciients | For fans of Mastodon, Opeth, Junius
Ulcerate, 'Shrines of Paralysis'
Australia and New Zealand represent a pocket of the world where nearly all of the world's best death and black metal now reigns. Warmongers Ulcerate's light-swallowing dissonance has been on display for a decade now and the latest purveyor of blackness is Shrines of Paralysis. Eight tracks just short of an hour is a whirlwind session of endurance-testing percussion guiding a riff stampede.
Volleying tempos churn over with a menacing, manhandling pace leaving full body imprints in cracked sheetrock. Ulcerate's sense of despondent atmospheres help to give some breathing room to the lengthy runtime and always in just the right spots.
Listen to Ulcerate | For fans of Hate Eternal, Gorguts, Gigan
Vashna, 'Know the Way to Embrace the Darkness'
Italy has been stepping up their metal output lately and the one man outfit known as Vashna might be the most cavernous and soul-draining of them all. The Know the Way to Embrace the Darkness EP sounds like a jackhammer cracked opened a trench with a smoldering view of a boiling inferno sending the stench of Hell straight to Earth.
We've all heard the term "thinking man's metal" and this couldn't stand in the face of that any harder. With just three tracks spanning over 13 minutes, this brutish Hellscape crafted by sole artist Vlkstra is a promising first release for those who like their metal born from light-deprived caverns.
Listen to Vashna | For fans of Vassafor, Impetuous Ritual, Deiphago
Void Meditation Cult, 'Utter the Tongue of the Dead'
Beherit worship looks to be the next trend coming in the black / death metal realm and Void Meditation Cult have kicked off this new wave with Utter the Tongue of the Dead. Fuzz-drenched tones slither with little haste amidst the hazy incense and smoke production.
The whispered vocals are of course the most obvious nod to Beherit, counterbalanced by low, gurgled rasps that fit within the crevices of the minimalist riffing and chilling keyboard work. Utter the Tongue of the Dead is the soundtrack to a dying man's agonized final breaths, waiting for the reaper's reprieve.
Listen to Void Meditation Cult | For fans of Beherit, Archgoat, Demoncy
Anciients took a major leap on their sophomore album, Voice of the Void, exploring more nuances and angles of their multi-faceted sound. With this more cerebral brand of metal, of course, come wonderment about the writing process. Guitarist / vocalist Kenneth Cook elaborated on his process in this interview and commented on the compelling artwork, the top flight performance from drummer Mike Hannay and more. Check out the chat below.
You reign in a lot of different styles on Voice of the Void. Does the writing come in stylistic chunks where you’ll go on a death metal writing spree and then a bit more progressive another time and stitch it together after? Or do the songs tend to flesh themselves out piece by piece in one process?
The material I write for this band is done mostly in sections. I don't usually focus on just one aspect for a set period of time, it's mainly just a stockpile of riffs and ideas that get pieced together. Most of the time I'll have an idea for where I would like the song to go and what aspects we'd like to include but it's very rare that I will sit down and write a complete song from start to finish. Following the voice , from our latest record, was probably the quickest and easiest song I've written to date, everything came together nice and easy, and all of the ideas just fell in to place.
With this style, bands tend to lead with the extreme vocals and contrast them with the cleans, but with Anciients the clean vocals are dominant and it’s quite refreshing. Would you say the approach here is more of a light amongst the dark rather than the typical playing of light vs. dark?
Since this band was formed, I've always considered it to be a hard rock band with metal elements. Even though there are a lot more metal parts on Voice of the Void I still think that rings true. I love heavier vocals and think they are definitely necessary for certain sections, but I think clean and more melodic vocals can make a greater impact and be a more memorable way of singing, so I tend to focus on that style for the main verses of our songs, when applying vocals to them.
“Descending” is a perfect interlude in the middle of the album. How did this instrumental piece come together?
Descending, was basically just a little acoustic tune I came up with when messing around with an open D tuning. I went in to the studio knowing I'd like to include it as an interlude of some sort but only had the basic skeleton of the song. Once I had tracked the single acoustic track I put an electric guitar saturated in tremolo to highlight some of the chord changes and added an eerie slide guitar part over top over both. We had our friend Tyler Maynard in studio to play some keys on a few sections of the record and I thought it would be a great addition to have him play on that as well and help fill it out.
I think in the end it turned out great, it has a definite movie soundtrack vibe happening .
The artwork features a circle just above dead center, much like the cover of Heart of Oak. Is there any significance behind this or just coincidence?
There is no real significance to it. For the artwork, we basically just give our ideas and lyrical themes for the the record to the artist and we let her pretty much do what she wants with the ideas given. We had Alison Lilly do our artwork again for this release, so that may be why there are similarities to Heart of Oak. She is an amazing artist and we always have full confidence in knowing she will come up with something great.
The drumming on Voice of the Void is just impeccable. How much time was spent rehearsing the material before going into the studio and what did you learn after your first recording experience from Heart of Oak?
We spent around 3/4 months locked in my garage, piecing the songs together and arranging them as best we could, we tried a lot of different things this time around when it came to arrangements in comparison to the last record. Heart of Oak was tracked in 7 days, this record we had almost 3 weeks to play with, so we focused a lot more time on getting the best drum tracks possible for this record. Our drummer mike was really young when Heart of Oak was recorded, I think it shows in his performance that he has improved his skills and matured immensely, he really knew what he was wanted to get out of his tracks for Voice of the Void, more so than when we recorded Heart of Oak.
What can we expect from the band for the rest of the year and into 2017?
We plan on touring for this record as much as we possibly can. As of right now we have nothing set in stone that we can talk about , but we definitely have some stuff in the works and can't wait to get out and play this new material for live audiences.
Thanks to Kenneth Cook for the interview. If you haven't already picked up your copy of 'Voice of the Void' at the Season of Mist webstore. Keep up with all things Anciients at the band's Facebook page.
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