Nothing new under those vast Scandinavian skies – yes! Nothing boring in the wide open spaces – yes! Nocturnalia are a good example that a mix of Rainbow, Deep Purple, the 69 Eyes combined with a singer who clearly likes Bruce Dickinson never gets boring. For we have heard those things so often before we can clearly identify the roots – always a great thing for every fan(atic) as he can display his knowledge. However, there is something else to that mix that lies beneath the obvious and that is some good and clever songwriting because we must remember – copying is one thing but taking lessons from idols is another. Nocturnalia definitely follow the second line and we can take singer Linus Ekermo as an example here: He knows his Bruce, he knows his Dio but he never dares to simply copy them, he adds little singular characteristics once in a while, for example in “Winter Hymn” when his (nearly) spoken word is a great atmospheric moment - “Frost be the sign of this lost ending year / Darkness embrace me for winter draws near” words and phrases heard before but combined with a sound reminiscent of the wind of uilleann pipes and a second (at the beginning nearly inaudible) vocal line we are still drawn to it and keep on spinning “III Winter”.
hard rock / classic rock
Wooden Earth (look at that band name – you already see the green smoke rising in the desert) are to release their new track “Fangs” on December 13th. The Dallas-based duo consisting of guitarist Devin Moreno and drummer/vocalist Griffin Thomas will release their debut full length next year and are currently touring their ….. off. No new witches’ brew in their mix of two similar genres, but their play with dynamics is definitely worth lending your ear if you like Red Fang’s ferociousness, QOTSA’s pop appeal and some scruffy vocals to accompany all of that. They throw in a riff that is really genre-like but their dynamics draws you in and the small kicks from the side in form of a sharp noisy lick keep you going just as much as the 60s style psychedelic organ in the background which keeps the atmosphere light and tight. Here you go, Stoner fans, you might have another band to follow! What a name anyway!
My media player sometimes plays a trick on me and doesn’t enlist the tracks in the right order but reverses them, so that the last track is played first. It did that when I started listening to Moonreich’s recent EP Wormgod, and thus the first thing I heard was “Broken” and the first vocals I heard were “If you want control without any pain / How long will you suffer? / How long will you reign?” My mind racing, where had I, what did they, whom had they…. and then memory retrieved the wanted information – it’s a cover of a Depeche Mode-song! No, nothing worrisome about that cover but well, the rest is solid work. A lot of grindy-metalcore, blastbeats, solid screaming gutturals, some quick and harsh turns, a few moments reminiscent of Slipknot (supposedly a major influence) and some posty-swirling guitar loops. A solid Metalcore band doing some solid Post-Metal songs but being unable to hide their roots. A good band to start your summer festival day with, but well …if it wasn’t for that Depeche Mode-cover!
Ever wondered what it would sound like if Godflesh emphasized the metal side a bit more and a bit dirtier? Less sterile and less dubby? With a bit less verve and some more doomy gloom? Then you might find yourself drawn to Blackwood, an electro-doom-metal-project headed by Italian artist and composer Eraldo Bernocchi who – via Subsound Records has just released his new EP “Of Flies” with the help of vocalist Emilia Moncayo and a lot of samples, for example the urgent screams “Conductor we have a problem! Press emergency!” taken from a YouTube-video filmed a few years ago, when a man ran around in an American subway screaming these words all the time. The songs are like a descent into the hell of the human psyche, one does not want to listen because of the grittiness of the songs but it it somehow impossible to stop because there might be another even more sensational sound or sample or scream just around the corner of this dirty wall of sound. And just before the finger hits the button he calms it down again and then surrounds the ears with some soothing parts and ethereal moments. But the dirt is always just one step away. A great introduction into a genre some people might never have imagined. Or never wanted to imagine.
dark ambient / edm / house
“Always on my mind”. Elvis. His late years. A classic. Always recognizable. Always? No, not as in always always, because as Ghostboy shows with his version, starting out like a desert slo-mo-acoustic guitar version then turning into slow ambient song, even a song we have all heard a trillion times can be hard to recognize even though he sticks to the original lyrics. This song was my reason to listen to the new EP by Ghostboy released on and for Halloween and thus aptly titled “Disgusting”. Four songs revolving around the themes lost love, death, loneliness and ghosts are presented here by the electronica artist, who combines burbling dream-pop with dark electronica parts or classical house elements and sometimes garners them with an interesting detail, like the aforementioned acoustic guitar. The only fault in the EP: The cover doesn’t totally fit in with the others, even though it is quite an original track, but its lyrical mood is so different and furthermore because of said western-intro. Maybe he should choose a real Halloween classic for such a themed release – my suggestion: “The Boy with the Arab Strap”. Otherwise, it becomes clear where Ghostboy comes from and where he’s headed as he stays immensely authentic.
psychedelic rock / stoner rock / hard rock
Sonic Cure is an album to be released in the end of the month, November 29, by Polder Records, with pre-orders to start on November 15. Work of veteran Belgian psychedelic/stoner/hard rock band Wheel of Smoke, Sonic Cure is the most recent release of this group, that has been around for fourteen years now, having released previously the albums In Sense, in 2011, Signs of Saturn, in 2013, Mindless Mass, in 2016, and the EP Enter The Pyramid, in 2015. With only five tracks — Sonic Cure, Brainshaker, Beamed, On a Wave and Electric I —, this album displays a sonorous vigour and a genuine enthusiasm from the very beginning, that is amazingly pungent, legendary and remarkable. With tremendously hallucinating guitar lines, cohesive and strong harmonies, and gloriously pulsating seventies psychedelic rock vibes, Sonic Cure has an authentically fit retro atmosphere, that subsidizes its splendorous, dense and gracefully dynamic rhythmic features, for the full extent of this amazingly fabulous album.
With a remarkable musical style, that completes on the vicinities of its marvelous genuine creativity the sonorous grandiosity of its wonderfully vivid and abrasive style, the density and the practical uneasiness displayed in the sound doesn't stand as a mere copy of seventies rock 'n' roll bands, on the contrary; the group departs from a cohesive conjuncture of eclectic influences, to compose in a mosaic of complex arrangements a vast diagram of deeply resonating and colorful authorial melodies. With wonderful harmonies — whose extensive creative sensibilities defies the consistency of its own organic structure —, Sonic Cure, in its entirety, easily reveals itself as the perfect combination between appreciation of tradition and original conception of sound.
With gracefully pungent and colorful guitar solos, that expand the tempestuous grace of its renitent restlessness over the salutary density of its vastly flexible and unorthodox rhythmic proficiency, each track has majestically unique peculiarities, distinct beauty, splendid elegance, powerfully consistent and diligent qualities, that underscores the band's huge, impeccable creative potential. The formidable heterogeneity of the band — which can be surprisingly flexible, without ever losing its characteristic sonorous identity — is a deeply strong musical feature, that gives to their style an unpredictable sensibility, whose undisputed possibilities injects ostentatious vigor into the group's virtuous harmonies.
A formidable, unique, sensationally graceful state of the art work, Sonic Cure definitely is one of the most genuine, remarkable and perfect albuns ever released in the contemporary history of retro-styled, seventies inspired hard rock. Displaying not only superb technical elegance, but also a virtuous creative sensibility — as well as a fantastic electrical audacity, an originally discreet, but vivacious and persistent restlessness —, and a truly genuine desire to break boundaries, Sonic Cure is a concise, but practically perfect work of modern rock, destined to establish new musical standards for all the other bands in the genre, as soon as the album is released.
hard rock / stoner rock
Valley of Shadows is an album released in 17 May, by American psychedelic stoner/ sludge metal band Duel, from Austin, Texas. With a furious, though vivaciously dynamic, dense and voracious sound, that encapsulates energetic and straight to the point guitar lines that revolves around their acid diagram of lancinating full throttle melodies, Duel showcases on this album a graciously aggrandizing tale of old school sonorous metabolism – truly committed to its wild and savage origins – that heavily dictates the powerful coordinates of a magnet of rhythmic legendary harmonies that burst into flames in a sonic speed, for the glory of rock’n’roll and the total amazement of the audience.
A relatively concise album, Valley of Shadows is thirty seven minutes long, and has eight tracks: 1) Black Magic Summer; 2) Red Moon Forming; 3) Drifting Alone; 4) Strike and Disappear; 5) Broken Mirror; 6) Tyrant on the Throne; 7) I Feel No Pain; 8) The Bleeding Heart; exceedingly marvelous all the way through, the album is a genuine demonstration of creative musical vivacity, that recognizes no boundaries to the landscape of its restless, audacious and sensitive musical horizon. With the gracious atmosphere of a hazardous and scalding desert that is about to melt everything on its way, the furious, but uplifting sound of Duel definitely lives on the groundbreaking edge proposed by the mordacity of its pungent style.
With a heavy sound whose tempestuous, but groovy melodies puts the band in a very particular category of hard rock, the expansive and vibrant elements that are abundant in the periphery as well as in the main nucleus of the band’s creative diagram conceives a very balanced sound, that is never predictable or monotonous. The synergy displayed by the ostensibly solid virtues that are highlighted in their complex sound arrangements exposes a very dense and methodic musical alignment, that dilapidates in a concentrated panorama of extraordinary artistic grace a sensational conjuncture of qualities, that are rarely combined in such a vivacious manner.
An almost impeccable album, that displays a genuine style conceived in very exceptional and singular musical perspectives, Valley of Shadows reveals itself to be a very elegant and original work, with no artistic nor technical deficiencies whatsoever. A greatly conceived and executed work, Duel deserves to be seen as a fundamental group in the psychedelic hard rock underground scene, as they are ready to take, to shake and to reinvent the genre, with the aim to create something extraordinarily exciting and authentic, as only a few other bands have the abilities to do so, with the same amount of competence and professionalism.
In Silence - One For All
Hope Erodes - Rainwalker
metal / death metal
Lacrimae - Entropia
progressive rock / experimental
Kavod - Wheel Of Time
psychedelic rock / doom
Harbour of Souls - Doomsayer
Voldt - Voken
Mount Soma - Origins
psychedelic rock / doom
NŪR - Light Emerges
sludge metal / doom
Blodskam - Là-Bas
Kooba Tercu - Kharrüb
alternative rock / psychedelic / noise rock
rock’n’roll / hard rock/ noise rock / experimental
Loss is an album released on October 26 by British hard rock act Pijn. Sixty-six minutes long, the record has eight tracks: Denial, Detach, Distress, Blanch, Blush, Unspoken, Squalor and Squander. With a very flexible degree of artistry, the musicality of Pijn goes to both extremes: it can be furiously aggressive and dangerously brutal, as well as expressively calm, melodic and majestically virtuous. This is already noticeable in the first two songs: Denial is a virulent anthem of hazardous and protuberant aggression, while Detach is a serene and soft serenade of introspective melancholy. The album in general has a proverbial density that speaks for itself, although it is very accessible on the sensibility of its methodic and direct easiness, as well as playful and modest on its scale of ambitions.
While the album seems redundant at first – at least in the longer songs –, the musicality of the group, though appears to be simple, is profoundly rooted in a coherent style, that explores systematically the fugacious elements of the melodies, while delivering a deliberately generous and cosmic flamboyant eccentricity to the more dispersive virtues of its placid tonalities, formally engraved in a graceful nostalgia, that easily comes out of sound. Trying to recover lost time in the primordial vicinities of a life that is no longer there, the occasionally almost minimalist style of Pijn is a free deliverance of joy. In the course of this fascinating musical journey, it becomes more than that: a vivid celebration of life, that personally undertakes a realm of sincere melancholy to rescue the genuine golden elements of rock’n’roll, with the firm resolution to compose in a singular piece of paradise the purity, the liberty and the glory that became lost in the sands of time, though they are never restricted to this genre in particular. Their creativity is limitless and boundless. So much so, that in the process of delivering the sound, they develop their own eccentric, playful and peculiar style.
While the heaviness of the guitar lines is the element that mostly stands out, the adherence of precise notes extending its anesthetic poignant devices in the occasional reverberations of latent melodies never divides the sensibilities of its dramatic soul. They patiently, but anxiously highlight the proverbial qualities of the album: as Loss evolves, the salutary epicenter of the music becomes more philosophic, serene, diluted and dense, although the music itself becomes lighter, digressive and effectively dispersive.
Occasionally, you will hear awesome screaming vocals, in slow passages delivering the color of agony and despair, in the style of post-hardcore and straight edge; although the album is mostly instrumental. Given its extensive length, the record is somewhat subjected to a certain redundancy; but the sound in general is very sober, somber and delightful, able to satisfy anyone who is expecting the unexpected, with a very clean dose of melancholy, anger, hostility, despondency, acceptance, conformity and exhilaration. Not in this particular order, of course. But be positive that you certainly are going to deeply enjoy Loss.
Dizorder - Moon Phases
alternative / metal / metalcore
Greyhawk - Ride Out
heavy metal / power metal
Gramma Vedetta - Proof of Concept
hard rock / stoner rock / alternative rock / grunge
Godless - Swarm
thrash / death metal
O n s e t - Unstructured Dissemination
Ssanahtes - Ssanahtes
doom / sludge / post hardcore
Frenzy Frenzy - Just Another
Charles In The Kitchen & Them Stones - Stones In The Kitchen
pop rock / alternative rock
stoner rock / psychedelic rock / hard rock
Rift is an album released on August 17, by American stoner rock group Forming the Void. Forty-four minutes long, the record has seven tracks: Extinction Event, On We Sail, Arcane Mystic, Transient, Arrival, Ark Debris and Shrine. Rift – analyzed on a purely technical basis –, is a decent and competent work, without a doubt, but the style of the group unfortunately departs from a more common ground musical axis, whose elements doesn’t differ them too much from other bands of the genre. They certainly know how to accommodate and incorporate different components into their music, although they definitely fall almost entirely on a stoner rock ground. Their rhythms and melodies can be easily assimilated, and are definitely interesting. But, unfortunately, this album, on an overall evaluation, doesn’t manage to impress at all.
Don’t get me wrong: Rift is a good album, and certainly has potential to please enthusiasts of the genre. The guitar lines are slow and dense, and displays quite a gracious and discreet aggressiveness, with walls of sound that cohesively builds around its own calm highlight an atmosphere of tense, but lucid expansion. On the other hand, their music is so saturated with generic elements that you never feel too thrilled while listening to it. Certainly, the album can be appreciated with modesty – without any expectations –, but you also wish after some time for the end to come as soon as possible.
Forming the Void is a band that has potential, but they certainly have to be more audacious, and leave their comfort zone. They do what they do with amazingly competent technical skills, but they lack a more effervescent degree of passion and enthusiasm. A little monotony – or too much calmness, if you prefer – is inherent to this genre of music, but you have to push up the boundaries, at least to a certain level, to avoid being just another generic act.
If you want to listen to Rift, you can definitely do it, without any fear. This is a decent album. But like I wrote some lines above, there’s nothing extraordinary about this work. They follow their genre of choice with a certain amount of competence; but, in the end, Rift is just an ordinary stoner rock album, that ends up being too similar to many other albums of the genre.
Naut - Raise The Lights
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.
Kurokuma - Dope Rider
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.
An Evening With Knives - Fade Out
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.
Soho Rezanejad - World Breathes People
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.
The Man Within - The Man Within
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.
EITR - Hädanfärden
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.
Breakfast At Midnight - Breakfast At Midnight
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.
Goat Sperm - Voice in the Womb
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.
Teksti-TV 666 - Aidattu Tulevaisuus
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!
Vitor Joaquim - Impermanence
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.
Han - Tuning the Invisible
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...
alternative rock / crossover / nu metal
Ever since I founded this website, I've been surprised by the French a lot. For some reason, French music doesn't often reach this side of Belgium. Yet, they do seem to have an interesting alternative rock/metal scene, one that doesn't care about genre boundaries and restrictions.
With the French, it seems that everything is welcome, as long as it's rock music, and then - obviously - you get some interesting xenogamy. Don't look so weird, I looked it up, Xenogamy exists. It's a big word for cross-pollination, something certain plants and many rock bands love to do.
The album begins with 'On The Edge' and immediately the influences from bands like Tool and Deftones shine through. However, somewhere hidden in the groovy basslines and the funky rock drums, one of the guitarists can't hide the fact that he is a blues fan. Here and there you can find such a nice vintage blues lick. Someone else clearly is a fan of nu metal, especially acts like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit. Perhaps there is a Paramore fan. Finally, it feels like the vocalist has had lessons in pop and only recently moved towards something a bit more extreme.
The band constantly balances on the edge between alternative rock and progressive hard rock, here and there harshly crossing the line with some intensely passages. Yet, for the majority, this album sounds like a well written modern day rock album, one I will certainly recommend to all nu metal fans out there. 'As Leaders' is probably my favorite track and '2099' rocks and blueses like crazy but I'm sure that most of these tunes can set festivals and venues ablaze everywhere. So check it out. Perhaps you find a new favorite.
Ihä - Estructuras De Aire, Colonias De Soplo
ambient / drone
Spankraght - Spankraght EP
industrial / metal / drum & bass
August Rosenbaum - Rasa
Show Aniki - The Deep Blue Sessions
The Human Race Is Filth - Liberate
grindcore / crust
Misantronics vs Mint Narcosis - EPI
ambient / techno
The Room in the Wood - Magical Thinking
new wave / alternative rock
Twilight - Trident Death Rattle
Corpsehammer - Perversión
Grim - Requiem
classical / post rock / jazz
Mhönos - LXXXVII
Zero Theorem - Ataraxis
hard rock / metal
Vampillia - Happiness Brought By Endless Sorrow
black metal / noise
The Orchestra Of Mirrored Reflections - Narrow Escape