Welcome back to the series. This is my first New Releases post of the new year, and I can’t possibly think of a better week to choose to start this back up again, because… Holy shit. The four releases I’m about to talk about are pure fire. This post, if you noticed from the dates in the title, only accounts for albums released in the first half of the week. We’re just on our way out of something that I like to call the New Years rush, which is that time period when we’re just flooded with new releases from bands that wanted to wait until the new year to put out their music. If you’re curious about just how significant this rush is, I can show you the exact impact, because I’ve been tracking it:
Yeah, okay, I’m a nerd. But all that aside, it’s very true that an astounding amount of albums come out within the first two weeks or so of a new year–hence the reason I’m breaking this week into two parts, and also the reason that I haven’t posted anything yet about the first week of January. I’ll get to it, I promise.
A N Y W A Y S. I digress. Before I jump into this week’s releases, I want to remind you guys of a few things. Firstly, make sure you join my new releases January discussion chat if you haven’t already.
Secondly, I’ve begun work on the post archive for this series, which can be found in my bio. This archive will include everything I ever post about new releases, such as these weekly posts, my monthly summaries and my AOTY lists. So that archive is now at your disposal, if you want to check that out. And thirdly (well, this isn’t really a reminder, but it still needs to be said), I just wanted to say a huge thank you to FuneralRain for helping me decide how to rank these, because I honestly like them all equally, which was making this post a pain in the ass to write.
So, let’s start looking at the first half of the week.
4. Verweser- EP-1
I almost forgot to listen to this, actually. I had it written down in my list of albums to check out, but I kind of hopped over it by accident and ended up listening to it a day late. But no matter, because it still earned itself a spot on this list. This is the very first release from the German black metal band Verweser, and it is indeed a really promising first effort. The vocals are honestly the highlight of the album; they seem to be a delicate and effective blend of the typical kvlty fury with what could be described as somewhat crusty overtones. The end of this EP definitely left me wondering what Verweser’s future may hold.
3. Author- Lopun Alku
Onto album number three of the week now. At this point, I feel the need to mention that this album, along with the next two I’ll be discussing, make up some sort of fiery trinity in that all three of them are basically on par with each other in terms of their quality. It feels a bit daft to have to rank them when they’re all so good. But hey, it needs to be done. Author appears to be a one man black metal project from Finland, of which Lopun Alku is the first full-length release. Author also released an EP back in 2016, although I missed it at the time of its release. But after hearing this, I really wouldn’t be completely shocked if the EP was genuine gold, so I’ll be listening to that shortly. This is really an interesting listen, to say the least. It was meant as “black metal done in the old way of the glorious 90`s”, but isn’t pure second-wave worship. It sounds more like a reincarnation of old ideas–evolution, in the sense that it blends the old sound with musical ideas firmly rooted in the modern age.
2. Chant of the Goddess- Chant of the Goddess
Boasting my favourite album artwork of the year so far, Chant of the Goddess is an amazing display of Brazilian sludge/stoner doom that really reflects that gorgeous artwork on the cover. When I first listened through this, the vocals really kind of caught me off guard. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, since I was expecting them to lean more towards the sludge side of the spectrum than the stoner side. However, they did grow on me as I listened. Unfortunately not enough to land it a number one slot for this week though–the vocals are the reason that couldn’t happen. Not because they’re bad–far from it, actually–but just because when you’re trying to rank albums so close together in quality, those tiny details can make all the difference. No matter what you want to make of the vocals, the riffs are really where this album shines. This is the best doom album released so far in 2017, so be sure to check this out if you’re a fan of the genre.
1. W- Winterwomb
This first half of the week was really a bright display of black metal superiority, because this is another stellar black metal release. W is an atmospheric black metal project by Russia’s Winter Vampyr (a very interesting pseudonym choice if I might add). But don’t let that atmospheric tag form too many preliminary ideas in your mind–this album is more ambient than atmospheric, and it’s also raw. Very, very raw. But honestly, that rawness is a really interesting quality to try to mix with atmosphere or ambient. For most bands, that combination is a really self-destructive, difficult thing to pull off. W did not seem to get the memo about that complication. The way that kind of subgenre-melding is accomplished in this release is really something more bands should aspire towards. But the sound of the album, as intriguing as it is, isn’t the only reason as to why this album made number one in this post. Winterwomb is really about the overall listening experience–so turn the lights off, sit back and and dream about that perfect, desolate snowstorm… Or just look out the window, if you’re a northerner like I am.
• • •In Summary• • •
What a brilliant beginning to 2017, especially for black metal and doom metal. I say that not just because of what I’ve included here, but also because of the releases from the first weeks of January. If I had to make my prediction of the year now based on what the very beginning has looked like so far, I’d probably guess that this will shape up to be yet another great year for black metal, and a far better year for doom than 2016 was. But as to this week specifically, I do have one interesting remark: these four albums were actually all released on Wednesday, January 8th. What a good fucking day, eh?
Thanks for reading, and watch out for the next instalment of New Releases, which should be posted this weekend.