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...
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
punk / hard rock
Well, they couldn't have made this any clearer, could they? With a band name like this and a highly promising title, these French guys appear to be prepared for a heavy rocking battle that will eventually end up in a dental hospital. Are they? We'll see.
Rock 'n' Brawl appeared on the French rock scene in 2013. That scene appears to be overloaded with hard rocking bands already but nobody seems to mind, especially not these guys. With a high energy mix of hardcore punk and hard rock they blast the competition off stage.
Looking at their facebook profile, I see that the band is influenced by Danko Jones, The Bronx and AC/DC. However, when I listen to some of the tracks here, I can't help but think that hardcore punk bands like Agnostic Front and Hatebreed also had their influence on Rock 'n' Brawl. 'Can't Stop The Fight' and 'Unbreakable' are fierce punk tracks that will undoubtedly cause crowd surfers and moshpits, with the inevitable broken teeth as a result.
However, sometimes the tempo goes down a bit, resulting in sweet hard rock tracks like 'Coughing To Death' and 'Loud Punch'. With 'Lack & Wounds' there is even a ballad on the album, be it a raunchy, gritty one. In fact, that's my favorite track here. It might sound weird but I really love this tune. Obviously it adds variation, but it also serves as a calm spot in a raging ocean of hardcore punk rock. So who to recommend it to? Hard core punk rockers, of course. They should really check out this thing.
stoner rock / hard rock
Spring is here so we have to start preparing for the summer festivals. I can almost smell the grass of the now calm meadows that will soon be turned into frenzied rock 'n roll temples. Soon, the stages will pop-up, along with booze, eat and merch stand. Soon, thousands of rockers will enjoy at least one day in the park while rockers of all places and age blast their riffs through the massive speakers. Undoubtedly, I will be among them a few times and perhaps General Cluster can join in on the fun too. With their in-your-face stoner metal, they will have the peeps on such a now calm meadow on their feet with their intense riffing.
General Cluster is a band from France, Grenoble to be exact. Since their inception, they have released two EP's, now followed by their first full length. Their music is a heavy blend of alternative rock and stoner metal, with some vocals inspired by either the black, death of post-metal scene. But, most importantly perhaps, these Frenchies rock like there is no tomorrow as the song fiercy follow each other.
The fun already starts with opener 'No One's Bitch', which is a genuine stoner rock track. Immediately, influences from Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Red Fang become clear as the band comes up with heaps of groove and energy. From then on, we're on a wild ride, one that only occasionally takes back a bit of gas. 'The Rover' and 'Shield Wall' are just as convincing, with the ladder banging on the gates of the extreme.
However, we haven't mentioned doom metal here. I mean, every stoner metal band will occasionally create a slower track and that track quite often turns into uncorrupted doom metal. On this album, 'Voices' takes on that role, bringing acts like Electric Wizard to mind. Soon after, they raise the tempo again, resulting in my favorite track here, the heavy blues rocker 'Let's Go Porn'.
Or maybe the riff-loaded 'Mountains' is my favorite, a fast stoner metal track that will undoubtedly cause some crowdsurfers, moshpits and stage divers to appear. I wouldn't mind and I wouldn't be surprised. This is high quality and highly enjoyable groovy metal that all fans of the aforementioned bands can certainly appreciate. Besides, and perhaps most importantly, in a genre that steadily turns towards the generic, General Cluster definitely stands out with an irresistible and well varied sound.
stoner rock / metal
Right, back to Belgium and you know what that means: a glorifying review. I mean, regular Merchants Of Air readers already know that I'm convinced that this is one of the world most talented countries as far as underground music is concerned. I could drop a truckload of Belgian band names now to prove my point but I'm not going to. I'll just focus on this groove blaster from Genk residents Barabbas. Much like their colleagues in Bathsheba and Hemelbestormer, Barabbas proves that Limburg is not necessarily a quiet place. Sometimes, there in the woods of Bokrijk and surroundings, the earth trembles and shakes, caused by thick riffs and pounding drums.
Then again, that shouldn't be surprising. Barabbas consists of members of Sardonis, Rebel Yell, The Grams and Solenoid. They are veterans, massively experienced in creating groovy, immersive metal, which is exactly what they deliver on this album. Influenced by acts like Mastodon, Queens Of The Stone Age, Black Sabbath and Baroness (to name a few), these guys grind, rock and roll as if there is no tomorrow.
The album opens with 'Goldstone' which immediately sets the tone. We're dealing with high energy groove metal here, nothing more, nothing less. The array of riffs, drums, twin guitars and a decent sense of humor will make every stoner rocker drool. 'Sister' and 'Right Where You Want Me' seem to follow the opener's heavy rocking example, but then there is the weird and amusing 'Guy Tells Us How To Make An Omelet' which for more than one reason reminds me of Tool's 'Die Eier Of Satan'. Maybe I'm just hungry.
'I'll Stand Behind You' is arguably my favorite track here, a classic old school hard rock tune that nowadays would make a perfect stoner rock track. In that aspect, I wouldn't be surprised if Barabbas appears on one of the stages on Desertfest in October. I wouldn't mind and I wouldn't be surprised if the quartet delivers a mouthwatering set. Just listen to a track like 'Thorn In My Side' which brings the spirit of Led Zeppelin to today's heavy scene. Heads will bang, crowds will surf, pits will mosh.
In all, this is a highly interesting debut album from a club of ultra experienced gentlemen. There is no denying that. I'm sure we will hear more from these guys in the near future and I'm very curious about their evolution. Today, Barabbas stands for good old fashioned rocking and rolling fun. The future looks bright for Barabbas, who seem to have invented a beautiful time machine which leads us back to the glory days of hard rock. Recommended? I'd be severely disappointed if you thought I wasn't going to recommend this gem...
Ihä - Esperanza
drone / ambient
Parsons Rocket Project - Parsons Rocket Project
shoegaze / ambient rock
The Mayhem Lecture Series - Structures And Behaviors EPv1
ambient / experimental
Jupiter Zeus - Eyes on the Prize
hard rock / heavy metal
Haema - Insurrection
industrial metal / alternative metal
H2SO4 - British Bangla Testament
Asylum 8 - Repressed
Jinthra - Transitæon
Insanity Cult / Isolert - Towards the Great Dissolution
Akoustik Timbre Frekuency - Thee Essence Of Existence
The Reed Effect - A Strange Curiosity
stoner rock / grunge
Fotocrime - Always Night
post punk / dark wave
Disco-Nected - Vision Division
Morphine Social Club - Monolithic Gospel
stoner rock / psychedelic rock
Jenn Vix - Unlocked
alternative rock / post punk
Pylon Reenactment Society - Part Time Punks Session
punk / alternative rock
Dreamgrave - Monuments
Mortum - Eheieh Chaos
hard rock / stoner rock
With eleven tracks – (The Battle Of) Blair Mountain, March Of The Trolls, The Land Of Bilk And Money, Razor Blade Tears, Disastrophe, Unicorn Stew, Data And Goliath, Agnostisized, The Winds Of Winter, The Mooseknuckle Brigade and Blue-Collar Mother Fucker – Disastrophe is the debut album of Atlanta, Georgia based hard rock group Long Claw. Within the basic principles of a more old school metal, that arrives between the circles of heavy and stoner, Long Claw has released a very interesting and unconventional album, despite relying on traditional genre formulas to a certain degree. With an intriguing, organized and sophisticated sonorous approach, their sound is elegant and brutal at the same time, and definitely rescues the more effective sideline of wild and heavier rock’n’roll.
With an authentic sonorous identity, and a somewhat irreverent musical prerogative, Long Claw has strong harmonies and aggressively rude and striking, but precisely modest guitar lines, which are, in my opinion, their greatest qualities. With particularly enchanting beautiful songs – with a poetically primordial nature of sensibility and serenity, like the fourth track, Razor Blade Tears, that brings in the everlasting sincerity of its harmoniously human conjuncture a significant influence from southern rock, that in this case I would personally describe as a bizarrely eccentric mixture of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Blind Guardian –, Disastrophe is a preciously singular, uniquely fascinating, beautifully executed work, that has on the strength of its formidable creativity its greatest triumph.
With an eclectic and versatile style, that swims mostly on heavier and wider oceans of rock, Long Claw has presented on Disastrophe a fantastic new version of old school rock’n’roll. Without any moments of monotonous or generic harmonies, this great band has introduced into the underground scenery a virulent and audacious degree of energy that certainly has everything to increase not only a more genuine potential for the genre as a whole, but to awake a more lethargic fan base to a real authentic revival of old school rock’n’roll.
Although Disastrophe has its share of common and ordinary songs as well, nevertheless, it is a great and thoroughly intriguing album, that rescues entirely, with a somewhat charismatic easiness, the soul and the essence of wild rock’n’roll. Definitely, it is worthwhile listening to it! Be sure about that!
heavy metal / doom
Formed in 2006, Swedish doom rock clan Egonaut has gone through a heap of genres. At first, the band combined punk, stoner rock and hard rock but somewhere along the line, they evolved into the quite impressive doom rock vehicle they are now.
I did not really expect that. First of all, I did not know the band until today and second, the brilliant cover art (by Adrian Baxter) made me expect something black metal-ish. The new logo, created by Costin Chioreanu obviously helped in creating that first impression.But then I pressed play.
The album opens with 'Initium', which immediately showcases a great blend between old school hard rock, doom and heavy metal. For a moment, I'm not sure in what age we're living. There is indeed something stoner rocky and certainly some doom influences but Egonaut goes way further than that. The synths even bring The Vision Bleak to mind. In 'Offerings', they remind me of some old school occult rock acts.
Of course, roaming in the doom metal regions, Black Sabbath comes to mind here and there. Yet, not the Black Sabbath with Ozzy. I'm talking about the more complex and progressive version. There are some awesome guitar solos and leads to be found here, and the vocals contain heaps of power. I mean, throughout the first half of the record, acts like Dio, Uncle Acid, Warlock, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple have crossed my mind. I don't think that those are bad references.
The band likes to call their music 'Doom 'n Roll', and yeah, sure, why not. , The whole thing reeks of seventies and eighties and fits perfectly on any Desertfest/Roadburn/Up In Smoke stage. Besides, I am damn sure that you will often be pleasantly surprised as Egonaut has a flair for coming up with both catchy and unexpected hooks. And again, those synths!!! They really finish the job. Just listen to 'The Pledge' and you'll know what I mean.
In all, 'The Omega' is an excellent album and a convincing tribute to hard rock music, regardless of the subgenres. It's varied, technically perfect and it contains some brilliant songwriting skills. Personally, I'm glad that this kind of hard rock masterpieces can still be made today. So obviously I will recommend this album. Check it out and allow Egonaut to give you a rock 'n roll eargasm.
Pie Are Squared - Co(a)sts
ambient / electronic
Interface Type Seven - Devices
ambient / electronic
30.000 Monkies - Starrrrrrrrring
sludge / noise rock
Horse Head - Terminal
doom / sludge
Arkhon Infaustus - Passing The Nekromanteion
black metal / death metal
Brørby / Clausen - Mannen Faller
ambient / experimental / noise
LaColpa - Mea Maxima Culpa
doom / black metal
Nervcast - Locked And Loaded
Terra IncΩgnita - Sign with Blood
House Of Broken Promises - Twisted
Rites of Daath - Hexing Graves
Prostitution - Egyptian Blue
Andy K Leland - Happy Daze
folk / lo-fi
Ummagma - LCD
shoegaze / dreampop
The Kahless Clone - Our Never-Ending Loneliness
post metal / progressive metal
Encyrcle - Burning Child
thrash metal / heavy metal
Caesaria - Come On & Dance
electronic / indie
Mint Narcosis - Obtrusive Tunes For Obtrusive People
electronic / industrial / drum & bass
Vvon Dogma I - Communion
metal / djent / industrial
Kult Mogil - Portentaque
death metal / black metal