post punk / new wave / goth rock
Heading from Bristol, Naut decided to ignore all current trends and to look back to the dark eighties. Now, this five-piece comes with a baffling debut EP, containing five pitch black goth rock tunes. Influences from bands like Sisters Of Mercy and Killing Joke run rampant and come with the overwhelming energy of post punk acts like The Jesus and Mary Chain. Song like opener 'Disintegration' and 'I'm Here' are destined to fill dark dancefloors everywhere. My personal favorite here is closer 'XVI'. It makes me curious and hungry for more, but for now I'm sure that this EP will be an excellent addition to every post punk / goth rock collection.
doom / sludge
Sheffield doom mongers Kurokuma return with a two track EP, based on the Dope Rider strip from High Times in the 70s. The artwork comes from Paul Kirchner, the creator of the strip. The music is another slab of severe psychotic sludge doom, five and eight minutes long. Part 1 also showcases something industrial, reflected by repetitive, almost methodical drums. Part 2 simply continues to slow but brutal pummeling. Fans of bands like Conan, Dopethrone and Yob can easily trust Kurokuma to deliver the monolithic riffs and fierce vocals they crave so much. So if you want your sludge metal as destructive as a wrecking ball, this EP should do.
post-metal / doom / alternative rock
Several months after the release of 'Serrated', Dutch heavy rockers An Evening With Knives unleash three songs that did not make the album because of the limited space on the vinyl. Yet, these songs were to important for the band to be ignored. Opener and title track 'Fade Out' deals with the death of Marco’s father due to Alzheimer disease. It's a long, heavy and cathartic lamentation, showcasing the darkest side of this band. The other two songs follow that example, be it a bit shorter. They all walk a similar path as the songs on 'Serrated', and thus would also fit perfectly into every sludge, doom and grunge collection. These guys are growing steadily, that's for sure.
electronic / ambient / experimental
An alienating two track EP that will leave you confused and entangled, that is what Soho Rezanejad delivers. Subtle electronics, minimalist drones, gloomy soundscapes and her vocals come together in two lengthy modern day folk songs. I can't help but think about a mix between Zola Jesus and Diamanda Galas, be it a bit less creepy than the latter. Yet, there is emotion, there is fear, mourning, wonder and hope in these two tracks. There is a mystifying atmosphere, one that borrows elements from dark ambient. Yet, above all perhaps, this is a unique piece of work, reminding me of an act like Dark Ensemble. Recommended only for eternally wandering souls.
post rock / post metal / stoner / sludge
In today's post rock scene, new bands pop up like mushrooms. Würzburg residents The Man Within are one of those newcomers. Mostly, that first effort comes with a low production and a careful introduction in what the band really is capable of. Yet, here that results in a full-blown post metal album with seven outstanding tracks. Most of them, including 'Mount Santo', my favorite 'Institution' (that rolling bass is hot!!!) and the massive 'Limitless' can easily entertain audiences far and wide. Although firmly rooted in the post-scene, elements from sludge metal, psychedelic rock and stoner rock are never far away. A great introduction, now let's hope they can confirm this in the near future.
The new brainchild of Nachtzeit, the man behind ambient dark metal project Lustre, comes up with an interesting dark ambient album. Although playful at time, this album takes us back to the mysterious and dark age of the Norse gods. Early in 'Drömmarna' acts like Mortiis (on Cold Meat Industry) and Wongraven come to mind. Synths, soundscapes and dreamy melodies guide the listening on a musical tour of medieval Europe, so it seems, highlighting in 'Löftet' and 'Tårarn'. Strangely, the title track 'Hädanfärden' has an X-Files OST feeling about it, which isn't bad, on the contrary. Fans of old school medieval dark ambient can easily appreciate this album.
alternative rock / hard rock / grunge
Belgian hard rock duo Breakfast At Midnight proves that two is enough to create heaps of noise. On this debut EP they blast seven tracks through our speakers, beginning with the heavy rocking 'Kidi Coke'. From then on, the rock doesn't seem to stop. Inspired by anything between Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age and Stone Temple Pilots, these two feed an everlasting fire. Most tracks drive on sheer energy but in 'What I'm To Say' and in '1813', the band delves deeply into the Pearl Jam version of grunge rock. Here, the vocals are excellent and clean while the other tunes contain heaps of aggressive screams. Not that I mind, this is pure rock 'n roll: raw, rough and heavy.
black metal / death metal
Grab onto something now because Ukrainian trio Goatsperm is about to unload a hellish, chaotic and vulgar EP, loaded with orthodox black/death metal. 'Voice In The Womb' contains three tracks, each one being a pummeling piece of extreme metal, as dark as Satan's butthole but with an ambient breather here and there. Somehow, this trio manages to combine atmospheric passages with sheer metallic terror, something that might indeed make a lot of banging heads turn their way in the near future. Besides, 'Into The Deep Waters Of Catacombs' is one of the fiercest black metal tunes I've heard this year. If you're a self-respecting extremist, you need this.
krautrock / shoegaze / punk
What would have happened if Ramones used My Bloody Valentine's guitar effects? What would a punk rock cover album of Neu! songs sound like? Well, Finnish six piece Teksti-TV 666 might have a decent answer for you. 'Aidattu Tulevaisuus' delivers six high-octane krautrock tunes with the raw energy of punk and the immersive nature of shoegaze. I admit, it is something different from the usual slabs of rock 'n roll that appear here but 'Turbo-Mondeo' and 'Aidattu tulevaisuus' can easily get your behind shaking. My favorite here is the somewhat slower 'Rauhankone', which might be described as a down-to-earth space rock track. Recommended? Hell yeah!
ambient / electronic / experimental
Hailing from Porto, Vitor Joaquim is a sound sculptor and visual artist, active around the strange borders between soothing ambient and otherworldly noise. This new album, 'Impermanence' contains seven tracks, revolving around repetitive soundscapes, almost subconscious loops and immersive musical textures. Here and there vocals samples have been added to increase the narrative nature of the music. That, along with the minimal soundscapes, makes the title track my favorite here but I'm sure that every fan of decent ambient music can appreciate these sounds. Obviously, this comes highly recommended.
ambient / drone / experimental / noise
An even more noisy and experimental variation on ambient sounds comes from Han, a project by Vitor Joaquim and Emidio Buchinho. This album revolves around live improvisation and real time processing, which results in something severely unusual and highly experimental. Yet, behind the gritty freestyle on the guitar, beautiful ambient loops lurk. These seven tracks are weird, immersive in one way, yet restrained and peculiar. Somehow this album feels like the early days of drone experimentation, when artists were exploring the other possibilities of their instruments. In all, this is an interesting release to dive into, but only for experienced avant gardists...
October - Dark Hymns
A fifteen minutes EP with four tracks, Dark Hymns lives to the glory of its simple, but energetic and suggestive title. With a very dark, subtle and obscure sound, the sensitive premises of the style are afflictive to the fullest – despite being paradoxically peaceful and serene –, and seems to anticipate the imminence of a profoundly terrible doom. While the work presents to the audience a very simple and surreal sound, its nuances are dense, and the excellence of its atmosphere dissipates a graceful and somber fear over the boundaries of the melodies. There is nothing too exceptional or extraordinary about this work, but for dark ambient genre enthusiasts, the vivid, morbid intensity displayed by the artist behind the project is certainly vast, very meaningful, and spiritually consistent.
Collapse Project - Crossing Lights
electronic / darksynth / dark electro / synthwave
Crossing Lights is an album released on June 22, by German electronica/ synthwave act Collapse Project. A wonderfully splendid album, with eleven tracks – Where everything began, Crossing Lights, Arise from the darkness, M.e.n.s.c.h., Pursuit,
Bloody Dancefloor, Cemetery Walk, Starfighter, Nightshift, Test Drive and Rewind – this marvelous and majestic state of the art work has colorful harmonies, a vibrant, lucid and energetic pace, an intense and cohesive style and a superb sense of rhythmic rapture. With softly pungent, dense and dynamic mordacious melodies that engraves its formidable intrinsic strength at the voracious pace of the music, the album is fulfilled with a tremendously aggrandizing and creative originality, displaying a talent that has everything to stand out as uniquely authentic in the contemporary underground scene. Showcasing a sensational musical grandeur whose artistry is effectively sidelined with the most vivid and hallucinating melodies, the genuine musical abilities of Collapse Project is a gigantic cosmic evolutionary step in what concerns the general development of the genre. With some of the most beautiful songs that I’ve ever heard, Crossing Lights is an unprecedented milestone in the history of electronica. Certainly, deserves not only to be fully appreciated, but highly highlighted as one of the most beautiful, sensational and singular albums ever conceived.
Extremity - Coffin Birth
Coffin Birth is an album released on July 20, by Californian death metal group Extremity. With eight songs – Coffin Birth / A Million Witches, Where Evil Dwells, Grave Mistake, Umbilicus, For Want Of A Nail, Occision, Like Father Like Son and Misbegotten / Coffin Death – the record is a satisfactory, lucid and efficient, but hallucinatory and hazardous death metal album, that works decently the most traditional elements of the genre. With heavy, fast rhythms that exposes the voracity of their style, Extremity showcases a peculiar, brutal, direct style, atrocious to the core of its corrosive nature. Despite the fact that the album at some rare passages becomes a little predictable and monotonous, this does not affect the general layout of the sound, nor does any damage to the competent and precise style of the band. Their aggressive strength is somewhat inherent to the most brutal and extreme ramification of the genre, and the name of the band certainly stands for it. While you can’t expect too much of innovative features on this record, Coffin Birth displays a decent amount of virtuosity, talent and definition, and certainly honors the genre with a virulent and passionate degree of astounding sonorous hostility, that will entertain avidly the most dedicated enthusiasts of extreme death metal.
Khemmis - Desolation
grunge / stoner rock/ power metal / black metal / alternative rock
Released on June 22, Desolation is an album by alternative post grunge/ power metal rock group Khemmis. With six tracks – Bloodletting, Isolation, Flesh To Nothing, The Seer, Maw Of Time and From Ruin – this gracefully peculiar, audacious and cohesive record showcases the splendid abilities of a band that does an amazingly superb and exceedingly sophisticated work in their amalgamation of several different genres and styles of music. With a power metal core heavily infused by a post grunge alternative rock density, the music of Khemmis has its own singular and energetic creative groundwork, fuelled by an outstandingly voracious and rude nitroglycerine spontaneous synergy, that explodes directly in the brain of the listener. A little reminiscent of more classic and mainstream acts like Manowar, Creed and Blind Guardian – although exposing a formidable degree of uniqueness – the band does a surprisingly splendorous and excellent work on Desolation, that reveals itself as a marvelous, profoundly genuine and sensational album, all the way through. Undoubtedly, Desolation deserves to be classified as one of the greatest masterpieces of the year.
Lossy - Gated Soul
A beautiful, outstanding, lancinating and colorful EP, Gated Soul has four tracks: Blues For Jekyll, Last Raver, Hocus Pocus and To The Woods. With beautiful melodies, and very sensible, delightfully plausible harmonies, there is a genius spontaneity coming out from these songs that actually make you feel quite enthusiastic about it. With an exceedingly serene, but at the same time ostensibly sensational and mandatory vibe, the artist reveals a subtle, but formidable sense of originality on the framework of the sound that is the embodiment of this work. From within, the melodies gradually expand from a synergy that relocates the rhythm directly to the point of its graciously moving syncope. Exposing lucidity and showcasing an extraordinary degree of creativity, this electronic music artist from Great Britain has no fear in demonstrating his superb, masterful and singular talent, that easily reinvigorates in a more sophisticated sonorous artistry the greatest elements of electronica. Here you have four amazingly wonderful songs, that you will be pleased to hear over and over again.
Moloch Letalis - Krwawy Sztorm
black metal / death metal
A very impressive, hostile and energetic album – although widely using exceedingly crude and conventional elements by some standards – Krwawy Sztorm, by Polish extreme metal group Moloch Letalis, is an aggressive, furious and bloodthirsty album. Only thirty minutes long, the record has nine tracks: Wielka Egzekucja, Sztorm, Krwawa Ziemia, Zatańczysz Ze Mną Kurwa W Piekle ?, Przysięga, Zdychaj Psie, Palownik, Gotowy Na Piekło and Żar. With ostensive and abrupt rhythmic grievances, the style of the group is simple and direct, a little reminiscent of punk rock, given the atrocious voracity, objectivity and rudeness of its style. With a solid fidelity to the most brutal aspects of the genre, the work is amazingly competent and full of acid rage. Although there is nothing too aggrandizing nor original about the work, certainly this album is a pearl for avid enthusiasts of the genre, since Moloch Letalis literally practices closely the most ardent, extreme, raw and violent aspects of death and black metal, executing a refined breed of these marvelous genres. If you like astoundingly heavy material, Krwawy Sztorm is something you would like to hear.
McClane - The Cavern of Noise
electronic / techno / industrial
With six tracks – Entrance of Gargoyles, Dance or Die, The Order, Mechanical Vampire, The Cavern of Noise and Theunderdogme 2018hardrem1x – The Cavern of Noise, by techno industrial French artist McClane is a formidable, very intuitive and lancinating work. With abrasive and disruptive rhythms, increasingly grotesque and infuriating harmonies, cohesive dilapidation of sound and very unpredictable, dense musical compasses, The Cavern of Noise is an interesting work of art, astoundingly engraved at forefront of the best tradition of techno music. With elements that plays on the fundamental axis of the noise and industrial genres, the artist evokes at the colorful blast of the music an atmospheric vitality that rejuvenates the harmonies and the anatomy of the music. With a lucid, compulsory and graceful creativity that is exponential to the ardent mordacity of the melodies, on this album, you certainly get the best the genre will ever offer you. The title track – The Cavern of Noise – is absolutely the best, and will leave you with the dense exposition of what electro techno music should really sound like.
Blutvial - Mysteries of Earth
Mysteries of Earth, released by British black metal group Blutvial on July 5th, is a formidable, lucid and splendorous album. Fully energized, mortally intense and with sordidly aggressive, rapturous and impulsive, but lugubrious and poetic guitar lines, Mysteries of Earth is better described as a marvelous state of the art work. With ten amazingly placid and cohesive tracks – beneath the moon, black silence, existential rite, vault of unrest, carving nihil, midwinter's halls, urnacht, doomed to eternal night, in praise of noctula and where graves spring open – this fantastic work, besides its subtle originality, extraordinary grandiosity and proverbial musical audacity, consolidates firmly and brings about intrinsically the best qualities of the genre: hostile mordacity, somber harmonies, an aggressive stylish impetus, creative melodies, a rapid pace and an exceedingly volatile density. With the organic virtue of a profoundly vital and conscious musical dynamic, you can certainly highlight this record as one of the best black metal pieces released this year. Mysteries of Earth is a punctuating device and a majestic work of art in the history of the genre.
Cosmic Autumn - Cosmic Autumn
Cosmic Autumn is the debut album of an eponymous black metal project from Germany. Released on July 13, the record has five tracks: The Last Deception, Event Horizon, Indistinct Visions, Realms Of Eternal Light and Solitude (Instrumental). With a beautiful and very original musical layer, very sober and proficient, the sound is definitely strong, sensitive, dynamic and fundamentally cohesive. Although the record retains the fury typical of the genre, Cosmic Autumn is also a lesson on sincere and poetic artistry, as the music revolves itself around a shroud of mortifying serenity, like a twilight that dies in the agony of an everlasting moment of unspeakable affliction. Since the music translates into sound these imponderable passages of pervasive anger, the overall loyalty of the project’s style to the genre is emphasized, but without compromising the ability of the artist in showcasing his own peculiarities. A very good work, that certainly exposes the mordacious talent of an exponentially promising black metal artist, Cosmic Autumn is the opening gate for a musician that has everything to aggregate into the genre a whole new conjuncture of possibilities, with his audacious and ostensibly brilliant creativity.
Stone Age Mammoth - Earthborn
stoner rock/ psychedelic rock
Earthborn is an album released by Greek stoner rock group Stone Age Mammoth. Forty minutes long, the record has seven tracks: Fearless, The Dark, Whispers, The Mysterious Life Of Mr Krips, The Secret, Earthborn and My Darkest Hour. An exceedingly calm, methodic and meticulous, but exceedingly vigorous and lucid album, undoubtedly, Earthborn is a fantastic state of the art work, that dissects, reverberates, comprehends and exposes the best aspects the genre has to offer. With singular, serene and soft guitar lines, a configuration of sonorous walls that grows from the sincere stylish leniency of the group and a marvelous sense of timing that knows from instinct what has to be done, Stone Age Mammoth has a formidable artistic security and a powerful domain over the genre, that comes out naturally. Revealing itself as a graceful masterpiece as the album evolves and revolves around its own atmosphere of calmness, omniscience and existential perception, the glorious creativity of the group certainly highlights them among other bands of the genre. With a singular conjuncture of sonorous qualities, Earthborn deserves to be greatly regarded, widely appreciated and publicized as the wonderful and fantastic work of art that truly is.
ColdWorld - Nostalgia
Nostalgia is an EP released on July 23 by German black metal artist ColdWorld. With five tracks – Cosmos Devourer, Demon Speed, The Dark Ages, Let The Devil In and Silva Nigra – the EP, almost twenty six minutes long, is concise. Exceedingly beautiful, with the typical elegance that is an engraved milestone of the artist, the proverbial guitar lines and the poetic harmonies anticipates the general conflagration of its overall majestic serenity, deeply fulgurated with the sensible character of its everlasting, elegant and somber horizon of artistry. With rapid passages that are profoundly surrounded by graciously atmospheric interludes, the music on Nostalgia is overloaded with the imperial fragrances of its own rudimentary darkness, that is sustained by a lucid and dense, but marvelously whimsical ferocious resentment, whose vitality extrapolates the shadows of its own arrogant beauty. With everlasting precipices of color surrounding the rhythmic fortunes of the songs, I must confess that I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed by this work. Nevertheless, Nostalgia has all the elements that are characteristic of a ColdWorld work, and, to a certain extent, has enough qualities to be deemed valuable for its sincere and splendid level of singularity.
Phet - Return
post rock / experimental
Return is a three tracks EP released on July 25, by a musician from India, who works under the nom de plume of Phet. With three marvelous songs – Return, Distance and Liberation – Phet works very distinctively the interior perception of the harmonies, to articulate an ascendant, protuberant and expansive, but at the same time discreet, lucid and introspective degree of sonorous exhilaration. With a pungent, incisive axis of conscious melodic devices, correctly assimilated by the lenient, but purposeful stability of its glorious symbiosis of organic dissonances, that seems lethargic at first, the intrinsic nature of the rhythmic serenity that grows within this musical horizon slowly works towards the digressive elements of the harmonies, revolving around a certain complexity that obliterates the cosmic volatility of its formidably eloquent style. With a futurist, colorful, modernist musical approach that made the external shape of the songs, indeed, to sound in an exceedingly beautiful and elegant fashion, Return can be positively described as a very gracious, audacious and original work of art. The last track, Liberation, I would certainly highlight as my favorite. If you want to listen to something very surprising, astute and genuine, I definitely recommend this marvelous and surreal EP.
electronic / synthpop
To quote the legendary John Cleese in Monty Python's Flying Circus: "And Now For Something Completely Different". We leave the world of guitars and drums behind us and make place for synths and drum computers. Even more so, we leave this weird year 2018 behind and jump right back to the eighties.
Night Club is a duo from Los Angeles, California that seems to focus on good old fashioned synth pop. That sound got them a spot on the 'Everybody Still Hates You" tour with Combichrist and Wednesday 13. A bit odd if you ask me but why not.
The album opens with an intro, 'Beware!' which makes place for the infectious title track. This stuff aims directly for the darker dancefloors with a sweet, elaborate and highly danceable sound. There is something Pet Shop Boys meets Ladytron here. 'Schizophrenic' is even more catchy. Goldfrapp comes to mind, but also bands like Depeche Mode and Lords Of Acid, be it a bit more gallant and less decadent. None of this is very unique or innovative, but that doesn't matter. This whole album is fun, massively enjoyable if you like some good old fashioned synthpop.
'Blood On Your Blade' feels like Nitzer Ebb trying to write an early eighties hip hop tune but replacing the raps with dazzling female vocals. It's followed by one of my favorites here, the bass-heavy 'Candy Coated Suicide'. This will get many black-skirted asses shake, no doubt about that, and so will most of the other tunes on this album. The opening line of 'Therapy (Get High) says "I don't have many friends", but rest assured, Mark & Emily, you're definitely winning a bunch of fans with this music. Some of them might look a bit strange but they're nice people.
This might be one of the most radio friendly synth pop acts in recent history. There is nothing gritty, occult or dark about Night Club. With their sound firmly rooted in the electronic eighties, Night Club revives a style in a highly convincing way. This is actually suited for large audiences, for pop festivals and for goth clubs alike. This stuff put a smile on my face and I'm sure it is potent enough to do that with audiences everywhere. So yeah, I will recommend this album to all you eighties-freaks out there. You know who you are...
industrial / metal
Time to put on our cybergoth outfit and drag ourselves to the dark dancefloors or stages. We're diving deep into a style that doesn't often appear on the top levels of the musical universe. Instead, this stuff usually hides away in concrete basements and abandoned factories.
There, this album will undoubtedly find several outrageous fans, stomping on those massive beats and banging their heads to the distorted guitars. It's time to unleash Ritual Aesthetic, the band that sounds like a lovechild between Die Krupps and Psyclon Nine.
The band was formed by Sean Von Helvete of Dawn Of Ashes. In 2014 they released a first effort, titled 'Decollect'. Now they return with 'Wound Garden', which is nothing less than a smasher. If you love heavy electronics mixed with gut ripping guitars, this is a definitely must have. Opening with the rather typical industrial intro 'Statis', 'Wound Garden' quickly lures the listener in, only to completely demolish him during the other eight tunes.
'Life Amnesia' comes up with the synths and punishing percussion that we know from bands like Hocico, Combichrist and Suicide Commando. On top of that they throw those grinding guitars, which obviously brings bands like Die Krupps and Oomph to mind. The vocals remind me most of the aforementioned Psyclon Nine. Industrial you say? Absolutely, I mean, there are few band who deserve the "industrial" tag more than this one.
Yet, there is a bit more going on. Remember The Covenant, the industrial black metal band later rebranded The Kovenant? Well, songs like 'The Analog Flesh' somewhat remind of them, just like early Ministry, when Al Jourgensen first discovered guitars. 'Divided' raises the tempo a bit and thus becomes one of my favorites on this album. This tune brings very few new acts to mind but nicely represents everything that Ritual Aesthetic stands for: "in-fucking-dustrial".
The album rages on with sheer power until the strange 'Mechanism Of Desire (Electronic Substance Abuse Remix)' appears. This drum & bass meets Thunderdome remix seems to be recorded on a different, lower volume level but that could just be the press version. Nonetheless, you light just crank up the volume and get lost in the madness. By the end, true cybergoths will adore the pounding 'Amnesiac (Xentrifuge Remix)'.
So there you have it, "industrial" in all aspects of the music. That would make Ritual Aesthetic one of the most interesting acts in today's "Maschinenscene" or however you would like to name it. Fact remains that this album is loaded with electronic energy that just can't wait to pierce the darkest regions of your very soul. It's probably not difficult to find people to recommend this one to. Industrialists of all ages: check this one out.
electronic / downtempo / ambient
Monday morning, one of the hottest days of the year. I have been cursing the sun and planning to go live in a cool cave somewhere. Hot summer days are nice, but not when they last for weeks without rain, wind or any temperature drop. For now, my living room is fine but in a few hours it will turn into a greenhouse, practically unbearable to sit in. So I guess I'll do my review work now and spend my evening in a summer bar nearby. There, I actually wouldn't be surprised to hear pieces of this album flowing through the speakers. This is perhaps one of the most modern sounding albums I have reviewed in the past few years, even Lords Of Acid sound old compared to this.
Band of Orson's Machines is a side project for Urs Wild, who we know for his impending dark ambient sounds. This album contains no less than sixteen songs, all between three and a bit over six minutes long. Here, the focus is on electronics, beats and thick bass melodies. Furthermore there are vocals samples and dreamyu ambient passages, together creating a soundtrack for a dystopian, futuristic movie.
Musically, Band of Orson's Machines delves into the same pool as acts like Burial, Sumach, Bonobo and so on. The music drives on these lengthy and deep basses while the rest of the music adds a bit of variation to the whole thing. That being said, the album isn't very varied but I don't think that is to be expected from this genre. The main elements and set-up for most of the songs is similar but that doesn't seem to harm the overall quality.
I does make it tough to pick out a favorite track. 'Playground' perhaps, with the sounds of children playing and yelling. Or opener 'Monument' which immediately sets the gloomy and immersive tone. Or maybe 'Moths' which covers the searing hot sun with ice cold darkness. In fact, I'm quite sure that all these tracks soon end up in my day-to-day playlist, along with other downtempo acts like Autechre, Boards Of Canada and Kode9. I suggest you do the same for this is an interesting marriage between modern day electronics and vintage ambient sounds.
progressive rock / trip hop / electronic / rock
Apart from the complete lack of salary, being a music reviewer is the most awesome job in the world. You receive new music on an hourly basis (for real!). Once you picked out an album to review, it gets easy as hell. Press play and start typing whatever comes up in your mind. There are billions of references to choose from, hundreds of genres to link to and thousands of words waiting to fall down on the keyboard. Easy-peasy. But then there are bands like Manes, whose only goal is to make categorization as complicated and impossible as it can possibly be. Those are not only the hardest ones but usually also the most interesting.
I mean, the album opens with 'Endetidstegn' which begins with something Autechre could have written. Then the song drags in elements from trip-hop and progressive rock, quite often gracefully balancing on the thin edge between rock and metal. A little further on in the record, by the time 'Chemical Heritage' has kicked off, my mind is comparing this to a whole festival of bands, as if the aforementioned Autechre joins the line-up of Tricky, Queensryche, Massive Attack, Archive, Porcupine Tree, Black Sabbath and David Bowie.
That is indeed a whole lot of variation, perhaps risking to tumble into an overkill of different sounds. However, Manes seems to have everything under control. In fact, they managed so blend all these different influences into one unique sound. Besides, it's frightening how much the vocals sound like Ozzy in 'Therapism'. This is one of my favorite tracks on this album, not only because of those vocals but also because of the psytrance-sequence that supports the whole thing. Yes, that's possible and it's brilliant.
Perhaps the most "normal" song on this album is the rock ballad 'Last Resort' (not in any way related to the Papa Roach tune). This partially acoustic driven song reminds me of another unique band from back in the days, namely Thought Industry, or perhaps of a power ballad by Death Angel together with The Gathering. Fact remains, this isn't even my favorite track on the album but it still is a masterfully crafted musical epos. There is a stunning sense of grandeur and bombast present allover the album.
Another one of my favorites is 'Night Vision', mainly because of the weird and dark overtone. I mean, here some of the bands from my gothic-era come to mind, especially the guitars based ones. I can easily imagine my young self headbanging to this stuff, even if it is slow. And all of that with clean vocals, reminiscent mostly of indie rock bands. Varied you say? Actually, not really. Sure, there are a lot of different elements in this music (noise too? Yes, in 'Ater', where Archive meets Merzbow meets Author and Punisher) but the most surprising aspect of it all is how coherent it all sounds.
Right, that surely was a challenge. I had to dig deep into my own musical history to find references. Yet, somehow I don't think I needed to do that. The truth is that this album completely took me by surprise. I didn't know Manes before so for me this was a first listen. Many more will follow, undoubtedly as I love the hell out of this album. So I can only recommend it to all... well, to everybody who loves original and immersive music, be it rock or metal or trip hop or power pop. Stunning piece of work, that's for sure.
ambient/ electronic / space music
The Glow Beneath is an album released by American independent record label Synphaera records on June 26. Work of Greek electronic music duo One Arc Degree, the record has eight tracks: The Glow Beneath, Seaweed Ecology, Marine Snow, Bathymetry, Dive, Jellyfish Ballet, Sea Level and A Pillow in the Darkness. Intriguing, dense, exceptional and very colorful, with delicately conceived minimalist sonorous textures precisely sculpted in time, as melodies calmly, but consistently expands its restless continuity throughout serene waves of iridescent splendor and condescending omnipresence, the coherence of the harmonies becomes more cohesive throughout its own evolutionary journey. The intangible tranquility that revolves around the invisible ocean of plenitude that One Arc Degree methodically creates on this album is slowly, but continually felt through the warm sensibilities of its overwhelming and sincere vastness, that goes beyond the ordinary parameters of normal sensitivity.
This work really transmits a salutary degree of sophistication that explores wisely the fundamental possibilities of space ambient music, never exasperating its cosmic creativity with predictable interludes. Here, musical pragmatism is executed marvelously well, since the sound never becomes monotonous, as both artists manage to insert an ascendant and rapturous – but at the same time moderately calm and reflexive – pattern of transcendental harmonies within the structure of each and every song. In the linear journey imposed by the vicinities of a gracious musical eloquence, the sound wanders around endlessly in an intermission of elements that fully respects the integrity and the anatomy of the genre, but genuinely inserting at the axis of its mobility a formidable and intricate degree of authorial devices.
In a general evaluation, the sound is immensely pleasurable. The Glow Beneath has a sober, lucid and intuitive sensibility, that revolves around the sensational expansion of its own conscious validation. With delicate harmonies that wander around the infinite galaxies of its own everlasting grandiosity, the sound fluctuates over the punctuating density of its own abstract principles, corroborating with the giant waves of its elementary ambitions the fantastic premises that converge directly to the qualities that were marvelously combined to produce this sensational piece of work.
Although a little concise for my personal taste, my final evaluation about The Glow Beneath highlights the fantastic excellence of this wonderful record. Here, One Arc Degree not only impersonates, but amazingly surpasses the gracious majesty inherent to space ambient music, as they superbly aggregate their own musical perspective into the genre, and this comes with so much qualities – although elementary inserted in a very subtle context – that listen to an album like this one can be a miraculous experience for the mind, and a college degree on musical sensibility.
electronic / experimental / rhythmic noise
The more I work for this webzine, the more I'm convinced that music has the ability to create parallel universes. Some create beautiful landscapes, some create ancient worlds, some create otherworldly environments. This album surely belongs to the latter.
It's a futuristic, dystopian universe, covered in snow and ash. It's cold, eerie and forlorn. Yet, it is also a habitat, one for people who seem to be on their dead-end. No, there is nothing jolly about this album but that doesn't make it any less interesting, on the very contrary.
Hailing from Taipei, Taiwan, Meuko! Meuko! delivers a harsh, cold reality, aided by icy electronics, broken beats and haunting soundscapes. The album contains seven tracks, five plus two remixes to be exact. '都市念佛法會 Metropolitan Sutra Gathering' mostly serves as an intro, gently offering you a glimpse into what is about to come. Then, '眾神廟 The Temple' kicks of with the repetitive Arabian sounding sounds and the impending beats. Before you realize it, you're caught up in this bizarre world.
'鬼島 Ghost Island' at first seems to follow the current bass-loaded electronic trends but quickly turns into something even Autechre would be surprised about. This harsh IDM track is loaded with elements from breakcore, hard techno and noise. Well, most of this album is. Besides Autechre and 'A Shocking Hobby' era Speedy J, I hear influences from Imminent, Sonar and Iszoloscope, to name a few. 'Dog War' is my personal favorite, a slow but repetitive piece of rhythmic noise to haunt my very dreams.
'希卡公主 Princess Sika' is another brilliant piece of technoir, this time with spooky vocals and soundscapes. This is the soundtrack for a post apocalyptic prison movie. The remix is even less danceable than the original but nonetheless an in-your-face electronic music track. We end with 眾神廟 The Temple (Dutch E Germ Remix), another favorite of mine. So if you like your electronic music to gnaw on your soul, you definitely have to check this thing out. This is a little container of utter insanity and I like it.
Federico Dal Pozzo - Untitled_VNZ
ambient / experimental / noise
Deadsmoke - Forest Of The Damned
doom / sludge metal
Antoine Panaché - Pleasures
experimental / avant garde
Misantronics - Zührpruym
drone / electronic / ambient
Woes - The Coldest Place Is Within Myself
hardcore / crust / black metal
Brass Owl - Brass Owl
psychedelic rock / stoner rock
Dead Man's Eyes - Words of Prey
indie / alternative rock / psychedelic rock
Jübl - Thinking Sweet
dream pop / trip hop
Autger - Eucharistia, Praedestinatio Gemina
dark ambient / neoclassical / dark jazz
Dr Space - Dr Space's Alien Planet Trip Vol 1
krautrock / psychedelic rock
A Scar For The Wicked - The Unholy
death metal / deathcore
Stelios Ventas - Faded Flower
Feelament - Hate Delivery
An album that has on the dilated expansion of its rhythmic integrity the infinity of its textures, conglomerated in the subtle nuances of a conjunction of harmonies dispersed at the nucleus of its own omniscient vitalities, Periphery is a diffuse and dense work, that disrupts in the tranquility of its cosmogony the brilliance of a quiet, but introspective allegiance of perceptions. The general harmonies appear to be simple, but they are restless and profound at the axis of its sensitivity, and emanate from the anxieties of its creative audacities the experimental grace of a linear and solid, but at the same time exceedingly flexible, vibrant and vivid style.
With brightly insinuating and colorful melodies, that comprehends on the principles of an intelligent diagram of intonations the profound dynamics of sound, and its figurative arrangements within the context of space and dispersive elements, Echo Season creates on Periphery a perceptive and systemic, somewhat minimalist, but also vast and lucid mosaic of sonorous conversion – built almost as a voyage towards an everlasting and fascinating journey throughout the infinity of the universe, a collision with the emptiness of incomprehensible galaxies – that intrigues the listener from the beginning of the journey until the dramatic moments of its monumental conclusion, all arranged with the combined grace of talent and technique.
The overall attention to details is fascinating, and the minimalistic nature of the harmonies gives an overwhelming degree of creative impersonation to the original style of the artist. In each and every moment of the album, you have the impression of diving deeply into the vast blackness of the universe, in an infinite journey where absolutely nothing can stops the emotional turbulence that compels you, fueled by the sensible and organic vivacity of the sound.
Sometimes getting close to minimalist ambient electronic space music – or indeed, being a real, almost corporeal definition to the subgenre, with all the elegance of its formal consistency – Periphery is an excellent album, that conglomerates in the exponential elements of its qualities the surreal vitalities so inherent, and so necessary, to the genre. A formidable and fundamental piece, that has as much pragmatisms and exceptionalities as it has paradoxical, but subtlety devised theoretical spasms, Periphery is a great, lugubrious and splendorous space ambient record, with a dry degree of originality, that certainly makes the work meritorious of being highlighted and appreciated among enthusiasts of the genre.