The White Swan is the project fronted by Kittie drummer Mercedes Lander, and while Kittie hailed from the early 2000s nu metal scene and went on to dabble in groove & death metal, alt-rock, and more, The White Swan are more of the psychedelic, atmospheric post-metal variety — fans of Neurosis, Kylesa, Hum, Deftones, etc should take note.
The trio — rounded out by Kira Longeuay and Shane Jeffers (Bloodmoon Collective) — will release their Nocturnal Transmission EP on September 18 via War Crime Recordings (pre-order). It features three original songs and a cover of “Tell It To The Sky” off Tracy Bonham‘s 1996 alt-rock classic The Burdens of Being Upright, and we’re premiering that cover.
“I’ve always thought that ‘Tell It To The Sky’ was a fantastically well written song,” Mercedes tells us. ” always try to really think outside the box when it comes to choosing covers and I tend to pick songs that you wouldn’t expect a band like The White Swan would cover. Tracy Bonham’s The Burdens of Being Upright was released the same year I started playing drums and started my first band and this was my favourite song from that record when it was released. I did my best to capture the soaring vocal melodies and we added some layered EBow for the verses which creates a bit of a darker vibe from the original.”
Mercedes does indeed do a fine job of both capturing the soaring vocal melodies and making the song a little darker. It’s a great cover, a nice mix of faithfulness to the original and adding something new. Listen below.
Watch the video for lead single/opening track “In Love and Ritual” too:
1. In Love And Ritual
2. Nocturnal Transmission
4. Tell It To The Sky (Tracy Bonham cover)
Must-Hear Metal Albums of 2020 So Far
Boris – NO
Ulthar – Providence
Terminal Nation – Holocene Extinction
Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin kyns
Ulcerate – Stare Into Death and Be Still
Code Orange – Underneath
Huntsmen – Mandala of Fear
Umbra Vitae – Shadow of Life
In the time since Converge last released an album (2017's great The Dusk In Us), frontman J Bannon explored his softer side with Wear Your Wounds' excellent sophomore album Rust on the Gates of Heaven, and now he's taking the exact opposite approach with the debut album by his new band Umbra Vitae, the most punishingly heavy album he's released in years. "While working on the previous Wear Your Wounds album, my love for Death Metal was rekindled," J said, "likely [as] a reaction to working on non-aggressive music for such a concentrated period."
Umbra Vitae shares a couple other members with Wear Your Wounds -- Mike McKenzie (also of The Red Chord) and Sean Martin (also ex-Hatebreed) -- and it also features Greg Weeks (The Red Chord, Labor Hex, etc) and Jon Rice (ex-Job for a Cowboy, Uncle Acid, etc). So it may be a new band, but it's familiar faces all around, many of whom are already frequent collaborators. And J may have said that death metal inspired this album, but he isn't just hopping on the new death metal bandwagon. If anything, Umbra Vitae reminds you that death metal has been in J's musical DNA since the early Converge days, and the way he interprets the genre in Umbra Vitae isn't a million miles away from the more chaotic moments of Converge. If you like "Concubine," you'll like this.
Old Man Gloom – Seminar VIII: Light Of Meaning & Seminar IX: Darkness Of Being
Black Curse – Endless Wound
Sweven – The Eternal Resonance
Death metal has been all the rage lately thanks to a crop of new bands who are taking cues from the genre's earliest days in the late '80s and finding ways to bring it into the now (like Blood Incantation, Tomb Mold, and Horrendous). But a few years before those bands released the critically acclaimed albums that brought this new wave of death metal to prominence, Sweden’s Morbus Chron were paving the way for just about all of them. Their second and final album, 2014's Sweven, is a landmark of modern death metal, and it's mix of prog, psych, black, and death metal is a clear predecessor to the current scene (and to the recent material by fellow Swedes Tribulation). Morbus Chron sadly aren't around anymore to benefit from all the hype the genre is getting, but fortunately frontman/founder/songwriter/guitarist Robert Andersson now has a new band named after that 2014 album, Sweven, and their own debut album The Eternal Resonance is very, very good.
Morbus Chron fans will probably be very excited about how this album sounds, but it does more than just pick up where Morbus Chron left off. Sweven the band goes even further down the genre-blurring rabbit hole than Sweven the album did. It's almost a disservice to talk about this album in terms of "death metal" or any other subgenre for that matter. It's still a harsh album, vocally, but instrumentally it's even more prog/psych than Morbus Chron was. For the uninitiated, Tribulation remains a good reference point because that band also continues to be more of a prog/psych band than a metal band, save for the black/death-inspired vocals, but Sweven are also a very different band than Tribulation. Tribulation ultimately write really evil versions of pop songs, and The Eternal Resonance can be closer in spirit to Pink Floyd or post-rock, with long, sprawling, dreamlike passages that are about sucking you in to the overall experience. It requires a bit of patience, but it doesn't take very long to realize it's very worth it.
MSW – Obliviosus
Vile Creature – Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Paysage d’Hiver – Im Wald
The two hours which comprise Im Wald are a cumulation of everything visionary musician Wintherr has learned over his many releases -- the clean vocals which herald "Stimmen im Wald" reflect the ambiance found within Das Tor, the violins on "Le rêve lucide" recall the self-titled demo, the coldness: Kristall & Isa. It's all there, everything on which Wintherr has meditated since 1997, and it truly is perfect.
This is the best black metal album you will ever hear if you have the patience for it, and it can only be listened to in its entirety. Do not skip through this adventure through the Alps from whence this project was born. Read more about Wintherr's philosophy and the greater meaning of Paysage d'Hiver in the interview I conducted with him throughout 2017. [Jon Rosenthal]