Capsule doses: Völur, Gjendød, Grey Aura all receive new life as their music expands reaches

VolurI just whined last week about the amount of music weighing down my inbox and me mentally. Well, that is not letting up at all, as I have way more music this week than time to devote a full day to it all. So we’re going to spend today looking at a few new releases that are damn fun listens and that you should spend some time getting to know.

It should be no secret to anyone who has read this site with any regularity that I really love Blood Ceremony, and their latest record already is high up there on my list of favorite stuff from this year. So when that band’s bassist Lucas Gadke’s other project Völur announced their first full-length “Disir” would arrive this year with greater distribution from Prophecy Productions, with bated breath I awaited. This record, originally released in cassette form as their demo in 2014, is a dark, ominous slab of doom that’s largely instrumental, and it’s one hell of a transcendental listen. Joining Gadke here is vocalist/violin player Laura Bates (Fresh Snow) and drummer Jimmy P. Lightning (Do Make Say Think) who add their power and energy to this four-track adventure. It’s certainly worthy of the larger audience it is sure to reach, and it might throw Blood Ceremony acolytes for a loop, as Völur is entirely different.

Volur coverThe record opens with “Es wacht aus seinem Grab,” where feedback stings before guitars wail and cut through the dark, with Bates calling out wordless transmissions like her life depends on it. The violin slices its way, as a wall of psychedelic guitars burn brightly, increase the size of the blaze, and then wash out dramatically. “The Deep-Minded” is slow and murky to start, with the strings swelling to life, and a threatening ambiance washing over all. As the track progresses, it sits on a calculated pace, with harmonized singing blended in, sounding like chants, strings chilling again, and a thick melody mixing into trance-like silence. Layers continue to build, with the sound stretched to its very limits before ending in a pierce of noise. “White Phantom” is a little quieter at the start, with the music flowing gently and expanding, feeling a lot like rustic folk music in spots. The emotion packed into the song is evident, and the bulk of this is quite lovely and always captivating. The 14:03-long closer “Heiemo” sits in a bed of strings before every element jars awake anyone trancing out. Sounds flow in, as a single guitar pushes its way into the fray, and a sense of calm hovers over the area like a cloud. The track then takes on a Far Eastern feel before folk shades return, and the song comes to a rushing, passionate end. It’s great that more people now can hear “Disir,” but I’m holding out hope for brand new music from Völur.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/VolurDoom

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: http://www.theconnextion.com/prophecy/prophecy_index.cfm?

Or here: http://en.prophecy.de/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.prophecy.de/

Gjendød coverHeading into more sinister territory, we visit with Nordic black metal threat Gjendød and their crushing self-titled EP. It’s the first recording for this band that just formed last year, and other versions have been released earlier in 2016. But now Hellthrasher Productions, who released the album digitally in April, are giving the world a CD version, and if you’re bound to dine on Second Wave black metal, twisted with a heavy dose of weirdness, then Gjendød probably will excite the shit out of you. Comprised of guitarist/bassist K and vocalist/drummer KK (I guess it’s good there’s no third member, considering their naming convention?), the band rips out the good stuff, keeping things grim and filthy but never forgetting to splash some melody in there for good measure. Also, after hearing KK’s strange growls, you might convince yourself he’s a goblin. Who’s the say you’re wrong?

The four-track collection kicks off with “Evig Svart Røyk,” a song that blasts open with intensity and sprinkles black metal melody like blood. The gurgly, maniacal vocals we promised are there and can disturb anyone not ready for them, though later some ghostly whispers head in to add a different kind of chill. Then the band rises back up, reapplies their stranglehold, and squeezes you until blackout. “Menneskeavl” is fast and blinding, with the vocals sounding like they’re being delivered from the back of a throat choked with blood. The pace halts and allows the humidity to build, but then the track gets serious gas pedal treatment and mauls right up to the end. “Forknytte Tunder” smashes heavily, but it does have an infectious melody running through its center. The song manages to be both grim and catchy, with the vocals devastating, the band absolutely drubbing, and everything being swallowed by the chaos. Closer “Likdans” has a slower start, as it boils in its calculated pace and slithers toward its prey. The vocals send quivers down your spine, while the music chugs and chews violently before a mesmerizing pace sets in and sends you off into a noise haze. Killer first blast from this band, who hopefully have a lot more madness up their sleeves.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Gjend%C3%B8d-1099509976778327/

To buy the album, go here: http://hellthrasher.com/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.hellthrasher.com/

Grey AuraDutch black metal force Grey Aura decided that they didn’t just feel like making an album. They wanted to make a movie. So here we are with their way-more-than-a-mouthful titled “Waerachtighe beschryvinghe van drie seylagien, ter werelt noyt soo vreemt ghehoort,” brought to us by the wonderful people at Blood Music. The album focuses on Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, who tried to find a northeastern passage to Asia. On his final attempt in 1596, he and his crew got trapped in the ice near the island of Novaya Zemlya, and the crew was forced to construct a home made of driftwood and parts of their ship to survive to brutal Arctic conditions. The thaw finally came in June the following year, with most of the crew plagued by scurvy. Barentsz would not survive the voyage home. In their effort to pay homage to this explorer, the band hired voice actors to play out scenes (I believe the words are in Dutch), and they spread this opus over two long, involved discs that are quite an undertaking to digest at once. But it’s worth it, and it’s great Blood Music is giving this album a larger stage, considering it was released in only digital form in 2014 after three painstaking years creating this piece.

GRey Aura coverOf course, not all of the 18 tracks on this hour-and-24-minute-long record are songs. Interspersed are tracks that push the story through dialog and sound effects, so you really feel like you’re a part of the sojourn. Of course, if you don’t speak the language, like I don’t, you still can feel the urgency in the delivery from the voice talent and follow the piece to its bitter end. As for the musical portion of the collection (11 songs in all), they’re packed with atmospheric black metal that this duo—Tjebbe Broek (guitars, piano, keys, foley effects, sound design) and Ruben Wijlacker (guitars, vocals, bass, drums, foley, sound design—smears with heavy layers of sound and volcanic power. First musical track “Naar het noorden” is grim and melodic, bringing an icy chaos into the mix, and letting the band’s full complement of elements stretch out and pull you into the doomed journey. “De kust van Nova Zembla” begins in a dream haze, with the music feeling somber and disorienting, letting you dream until the song opens up and crushes you with brutality. “Een bevriezende zee” creaks like early black metal, grinding you in its gears and hitting you with hurricane force before a dreamy interlude enters, a breath before you’re mangled again. While “Nu alle troost ontbrak” concludes the record on a furious note, with guitars storming, voices warbling, and a pace that destroys and defaces right up to the end. This an awesome undertaking that’ll ravage you over a motion picture-length run time and keep your blood rushing in your veins the entire time.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/greyaura3/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.blood-music.com/store/store.html

For more on the label, go here: http://www.blood-music.com/

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