New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

A Deliciously Venomous, Relevent Metal Epic From Fortid

Icelandic band Fortid play towering, darkly elegant classical-tinged minor-key metal. They love their venomous chromatics, they don’t waste notes – an underrated talent in this kind of music – and they steer clear of cliches. Their new album World Serpent is streaming at Bandcamp. Rebellion against fascists hell-bent on world domination is as ancient as metal themes get, but this one seems to be deeply rooted in the here and now – see track seven.

Ominous string synth orchestration builds to a gloomy waltz, the the spiky guitars kick in and the band launch into Awakening, over a slow, crunchy, brooding 6/8 sway with icy, watery vocals from frontman/guitarist Einar Eldur Thorberg. After an orchestral lull, there’s a tightly maniacal tremolo-picked assault with Kristján Einar Guðmundsson’s doublebass drums going full steam. Are we having fun yet?

The second track is Controlled Patterned Mental Process – sound familiar? A symphony of guitars tap and hammer furiously over a series of creepy chromatic riffs as this dystopic scenario unfolds. “We’re lost to self-destruction, infected humankind,” Thorberg bellows. As the music descends to a plaintive art-rock interlude, bass rises to the surface, then Thorberg builds a tantalizingly aching solo before the crush returns.

The chords reach condor-wing proportions and resonate throughout the vengeful anthem Insignificant is the Wormking’s Throne – metalspeak for “Microsoft, GAVI and Facebook are doomed.” Them the smoke from the battlefield grows denser and the rhythms get trickier in Supressed Opposition.

Son of a Barren Land has more contrast, between a dark folk theme in heavy disguise, an anvil chorus and a forlorn cinematic interlude peppered with machinegun fire. The obvious hit here is Pandemic, a grimly gleeful, steady, brisk doom metal number.

Beyond the Grips of Odium is a viking stampede with a chilly postrock edge and some of the album’s most haunting, unexpected changes. With its twin guitar leads and fist-pumping vocals, Perfect Annihilation is the big stadium singalong here. They bring the album full circle with Last Line of Defense – it’s not clear how this battle ends.

You’ll see this on the best albums of 2021 page here once we get to December. And we will – we’re going to win this one.

Important, Scary News for All New Yorkers – Please Share

Unfortunately, this is not some wacko conspiracy theory. It’s a real bill which has been introduced in the New York State Assembly which gives Andrew Cuomo unlimited authority to detain any individual, or any group, indefinitely for any reason.

The bill is #A416, introduced by Assemblyman N. Nick Perry of Brooklyn. The pretext, as you may have guessed, is any health situation that the Governor believes is an emergency. What’s scariest is that the bill bypasses the legislature and puts enforcement exclusively in the hands of the Governor’s office.

The wording is extremely vague, which is just as troubling. Beyond indefinite detention (read the fine print), it mandates forcible vaccination and any other “treatment” the Governor deems necessary, for anyone “suspected” of having contact with an individual presumed infected with any disease.

Lots of crazy bills get introduced in the Assembly every year and almost all of them die before they get to committee. But we need to nip this one in the bud before it gets any further – and it’s already gone to committee. This New York State Assembly page will direct you to your representative. Please contact them immediately. If you don’t live in New York State, it couldn’t hurt to contact Perry himself and show him how much opposition to this insanity there is around the world. Most importantly, please share this with everyone you know. The New York State Assembly works for us. We elected them. They know we can vote them out of office and if they see a huge groundswell against this, they’ll get the message loud and clear.

A Spirited Irish Orchestra Tackles Inspiring British Classical Rarities

Charles Villiers Stanford is revered as a composer in the UK, but is lesser known beyond his home turf. His stately organ works are frequently performed on this side of the pond. His orchestral music was an foundational influence on Ralph Vaughan Williams and falls solidly in the Romantic camp, full of drama, dynamism and colorful orchestration. Howard Shelley conducts the Ulster Orchestra in a new album comprising several Stanford works including A Song of Agincourt, which hasn’t hit the web yet.

They open with a robust, emphatic version of his Overture in the Style of a Tragedy, a relatively recent rediscovery which this orchestra premiered in 2010. From its initial Beethovenesque pulses, through numerous plaintive oboe solos, it’s evocative of the more heroic-themed work of Cesar Franck.

As World War I was drawing to a close, Stanford orchestrated his Organ Sonata No. 2 and retitled it Verdun: Solemn March and Heroic Epilogue. Its majestic counterpoint translates well to the steady, brassy processional and rather wistful interpretation which the orchestra follow with in the former, and the victorious swells and dips (and wry Marseillaise quotes) of the latter.

The women’s choir Codetta under the direction of Donal Doherty join the orchestra for a plainchant-inspired yet soaring take of Stanford’s Fairy Day triptych. The nocturnal segments of the concluding movement are particularly celestial.

The Song of Agincourt – commemorating Henry V’s invading army taking advantage of the defending French, who were struggling under one of the most corrupt regimes in that nation’s history – is a strong centerpiece. Shelley and the ensemble work Stanford’s variations on a 15th century troubadour waltz with lithe energy and surprisingly subtle foreshadowing throughout its many calm, woodsy moments, up to a brief, insistent coda. Bellicose backstory aside, this is a strikingly anthemic, optimistic piece of music that deserves to be better known.