Friday, December 13, 2013

Artist of the Day: Rorcal

Key Release: Világvége (2013)
"You have no idea what to expect."

It’s the sort of line a band throws on packaging to dare you to buy its album. Nine times out of ten, the ploy works (and it’s exactly that, a ploy), but it’s that other ten percent in which the real meat of modern metal lies. That’s where the chimeras of heavy music dwell – the fearless bands with nothing to lose. It's where the visionaries come from, bands like Mastodon and Opeth who are now household names for their ingenuity and steadfastness. That's where Rorcal is clawing its way up from, and for a beast like Rorcal, every road from here on is the one not taken.

If you haven’t heard of Rorcal, you’re in the overwhelming majority. The quartet was birthed in Geneva in 2006, and made a name for itself by pounding the local scene in support of cult heroes like Knut, Red Sparrowes, and Wolves in the Throne Room. The outfit’s early sound owed much to its hardcore contemporaries, but by the time Myrra, Mordvynn, Marayaa dropped in 2008, Rorcal was waist-deep in doom and sludge metal. In the band’s eloquent words, “Somewhere between Drone, Doom and Black metal, let yourself go into the bowels of the whale.”

That whale would be 2010’s leviathan Heliogabolus, a single 70-minute song based on the life and times of perhaps the most depraved and hedonistic individual in written history. The album recounts the brief reign of Marcus Augustus, who took the Roman throne as Heliogabolus and trashed it with prostitution, ritual abuse, and sexual deviancy until his assassination four years later. As brutal and outlandish as its subject matter, the album's tectonic execution earned Rorcal recognition as a legitimate artistic force, as well as subsequent tours with Enslaved, Rotting Christ, and My Dying Bride.

The band’s third full-length, Világvége, dropped in February and rattled even more cages than its predecessor. Comprised of eight movements, it married the head-banging riffs of Rorcal’s early work to the ominous doom metal of Heliogabolus for a more immediately engaging, but no less powerful, experience. Rorcal is becoming essential listening for those who inhabit the macabre side of heavy metal – and with the band’s whole catalogue available for free on their website, you now have every reason to leap into that tantalizing black chasm.

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