Iron Bonehead Promo Roundup: Swarþ, Isabrut, and Death Karma
Hey flushers, we’ve got a whole bunch of gnarly music to share with you. The kind folks over at Iron Bonehead, one of our favorite indie labels, sent us a whole mess of awesome material. So, in a metaphorical act of back-scratching, I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to highlight some of the great material that stood out to me. I’ve ordered this post from shortest release to longest, so if you’re in a bind for time, save Death Karma for later. But if you neglect to come back to them , I vow that when I am eventually freed from this mortal coil, your wretched life will be the first one I haunt. Now, let’s get to it.
Swarþ – Veneficivm (2/27/2015)
My pal Masterlord first shone the light on the tar-black morass that is Swarþ (I’ll let you figure out how to pronounce that) back in a roundup of new tracks earlier this month. Since then, I’ve turned up little information about them, and according to their handlers at Iron Bonehead, that’s the way it’s meant to be. A cloud of mystery hangs about the band like a poisonous miasma, obscuring their movements and identities. What is clear, however, is that this band is a dominant force ready to plunge all existence into the blackest maw of the abyss.
Invoking malevolent riffs reminiscent of Ondskapt or Mortuus and marrying them to unholy blasts in some ancient, unspoken pagan ritual, Swarþ succeed at creating an oppressive, malevolent atmosphere with each of the two tracks on Veneficivm. Inhuman vocals, battering drums, cavernous bass, and snaring guitars all swirl and weave together in a caustic net of deceit and claustrophobic chaos sure to turn the head of any Portal fan. Succumb to the conquering worm gnawing at the corrupt heart of black metal. Succumb to Swarþ.
Isabrut – Isabrut (10/24/2014)
We somehow slept on Isabrut‘s demo debut, and shame on us for our negligence. Out of the howling wilds of Canada, the enigmatic Isabrut emerge like a ravenous wendigo seeking the warm flesh of living men. Menacing, unrelenting, chilling. Fitting descriptors for a merciless band. You may ascertain from the runic album cover and pagan-sounding name that Isabrut dabble in Norse mythology, but don’t for a second believe that this is some pedestrian Viking-metal band. Beneath the crushing lyrics regarding Ragnarök and the death of Yggdrassil lies the furious heart of an indomitable conqueror.
But does the musicianship match the force of the lyrics? I answer you with a resounding yes! The drums batter, the vocals bruise, and the bass bludgeons. But what really sets this band apart are the riffs. While a lot of death/black metal bands are content to play riffs written by other bands twenty years their predecessor, Isabrut bring Mjolnir’s thunder with a battery of unique riffs that manage at times to evoke Slayer, Vader, or, on rare occasions, Bölzer without sounding like a cheap facsimile of any of the above. There’s a uniqueness and earnestness that shines through, and I can’t wait to see what these berserkers can really do when they unleash a full-length.
Death Karma – The History of Death & Burial Rituals, part 1 (2/13/2015)
“Death is as young as humanity itself. It accompanies mankind from the very beginning, and it is an integral part of life.” My friends, for this final band, I’d like you to join Infernal Vlad, Tom Coroner, and me on a journey through the end of life itself. The History of Death & Burial Rituals, part 1 is the fascinating and multifaceted debut full-length from the unstoppable duo. Although they garnered high praise for their previous EP A Life Not Worth Living, the ghastly pair have constructed an unassailable necropolis that very well may rest high atop the bones of any contenders come end of year (and life itself). The History of Death is a story of cultural treatments of death written in the fragmented bones and torn sinews of black and death metal and sewn together with sinuous and peerless instrumentation.
Above all else, Death Karma know the importance of songcraft, as you’d likely expect from a band boasting members of Lykathea Aflame and Cult of Fire. But this band goes so far beyond simple expectations. The black metal assault is bolstered by a versatile keyboard performance that veers from melancholy organ drones to shifty chromatic runs, never dominating the song but always strengthening it. Each culture represented on the album is treated with dignity and represented through both vocal work that flows between spoken word, gothic chanting, heretical incantations, and more effortlessly and by local instrumentation or cultural tones, always in the service of the song and the unique story being told. The band is even content to simply unleash in full-on instrumental mode, with even that track shining through as a unique and complete component of a stellar album. Every element is in its proper place and every bone in its proper ossuary. This album is easily my favorite thing I’ve heard yet this year, and I can’t imagine it not keeping a spot atop the ziggurat of best releases of 2015. In closing, I’ll leave you with the lyrical focal point of this treatise on death while you jam the excellent track below.
“Slovakia – ancient burial customs of superstitious and deeply religious villagers still exist in certain areas till today.
Madagascar – dance with Death, in the name of Famadihana.
Mexico – the most famous dead town which once lived though death. Enter the mouth of the Chichen Itza well – where people were buried in blood.
Czech Republic- ‘Umrlcí prkna’ provide a place for Death through the long and harsh winters, so the earth could accept the bodies in spring.
India – The Towers of Silence. Here one can feel and hear death the most.
China – Hanging coffins on high rocks so nobody disturbs the peace of the dead.”
Keep your eye on Iron Bonehead’s Bandcamp page for these releases.
(All Images Courtesy of Iron Bonehead)