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...
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
krautrock / psychedelic rock / garage rock
It's hot in Belgium. Everybody is covered in sweat and the sun burns people's skin. Under a clear sky, with only a few clouds to be found, the city is suffering from the smog coming out of the exhaust pipe of the countless of diesel cars on the highway. People carry on their daily tasks, weary and out of breath. I see them walking in the streets, dragging themselves along the pavement, barely able to see what happens on their smartphones. In here, the center of my living room, a mild breeze is blowing. There is ice-tea, or other refreshments. There is also the music by German psych rockers Vibravoid, transforming my speakers into time machines. Summer is coming.
The music transforms my living room into a sixties or early seventies festival meadow. Instead of bright daylight, it is now dark, late at night but still warm. On the stage and on a few screens surrounding the area there are plasma projections. There is feedback, fuzz and noise coming out of the speakers, followed by immersive rock music. People are dancing, drinking, smiling. I bet some of them are stoned out of their mind, but hey, it's the sixties. Everything is allowed in here. Look, there is even a couple getting in on...
Fantasy can be a fun thing but fact is, I can perfectly envision all these happenings while I listen to Vibravoid. On 'Vibrations From The Cosmic Void', the band once again wildly elaborates on old school psychedelic rock, kraut- and garage rock. Opening with the gritty rock tune 'Vibrations From The Cosmic Void Part II', this album takes you along everything that was fantastic about those decades. Personally, I prefer the long tracks, like the massively immersive 'Melodies Of The Stars'. These feel like enormous jam sessions, floating three feet above the ground.
Of course, Vibravoid has been featured here before, not that long ago. I remember me complaining about the band's mission to "revive a dead genre", something I simply don't believe in. However, I won't complain this time. Reviving or not, dead genre or not, this album is a brilliant piece of work, destined to overtake big stages a psychedelic festivals. There's plenty of those nowadays so I really hope I soon get the chance to see these plasma projections and hear this mind altering music.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to travel through time and space on the tones of 'The Intergalactical Playground'...
White Hills & Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand - Desire
krautrock / psychedelic
Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand & Derniere Volonté
psychedelic rock / krautrock / neo folk
Pink Cocoon - Alienation
doom / blues
JK Flesh – Wasplike
Moloch - The Other Side
electronic / darkwave
Burning House - Tracer
Eye of the Destroyer - Violent By Design
Alexandre Navarro - Imaginations
ambient / downtempo / post rock
Valyria - Into the Dying of Time
death metal / power metal
Anthony - Get Over U
americana / alternative rock / indie
Eyes on the Machine - Eyes on the Machine
Musical millipede Aidan Baker and his Caudal trio return with album number three. According to Aidan, this is their most "poppy" album to date. When I read that, I had no idea how a poppy Caudal album would sound. What did they do? Invite an autotune brunette? Have Dr Dré make the beats? Have DJ Khaled scream his name over all the songs?
So today I finally decided to dig into this (and several other) albums. Coincidentally, before this one I was listening to Red Snapper. I didn't realize how close Caudal and Red Snapper actually are. The transition between the two bands was seamless, apart from the fact that there's no sax in Caudal.
On 'Fight Cry Fight', Caudal delivers nine songs. The longest ('The Blue Meds') is eight minutes long while the others barely reach the maximum commercial airplay length. Perhaps that is the poppy part of this album, short tunes. Everything else is pure Caudal, which obviously is exciting. Their blend of krautrock, post rock and drone rock sounds rather lighthearted and joyful, in sheer contrast to the cover art. In fact, a track like 'Divisible' even reminds me of Alice In The Cities, another smile evoking post rock act.
'Flourish' takes on a more jazzy approach and adds a sense of space rock to the whole thing. It also seems to be one of the most complex tracks on this album, and again, Red Snapper comes to mind. 'Low Red' is an incredibly friendly tune, something that sounds like The Cure jamming on a beach in late summer. 'Sunwashed' does something similar, be it a bit faster. I guess this is the sound of Joy Division trying their hand on krautrock, something like that. Oh well, poppy or not, this is simply another highly enjoyable Caudal album, one every fan of krautrock should possess.
psychedelic kraut doom
Ok, ok, one more doom metal album before I engage in other activities, like preparing dinner for example. Yet, this isn't just another doom metal album. In fact, none of today's reviewed albums were. One was so vintage Black Sabbath would be jealous about it, the other was laced with classical instruments and Gregorian chants and this one is one long and heavy LSD trip. Then again, you might expect something like that with a title like 'Drug Magick'. So, grab your mushrooms, your weed, your LSD and your whatnot and join me on a psychedelic kraut doom hallucination with Polish occultists Doomster Reich.
Opener 'Gimme Skelter' pretty much immediately comes up with this awesome blend of heavy doom metal and groovy krautrock. It also already showcases these psychedelic jam solos. So I guess it's no wonder that a band like Jefferson Airplane comes to mind when I listen to these tunes. They are with good company too because gradually acts like Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, Captain Beefheart, Ash Ra Tempel, Cathedral and Jimi Hendrix also seem to join the jam. At one point I was even thinking about Ozric Tentacles and that doesn't often happen when I'm listening to a doom metal record.
Now, I must admit that I had one minor doubt at first. For me, many albums win or fail because of the vocals. Here, at first these seemed to be a little let-down. Yet, gradually I got used to them as they started adding that awesome occult element to the whole thing, a bit like Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats do. Halfway through 'Rites of Drug Magick' I'm beginning to realize that this album might become one of my recent favorites. My favorite track here is the jazz 'Meet The Dead' for some reason.
So yep, another doom metal album and another quite unique one. One that certainly comes highly recommended if you ask me. I mean, it is doom, it is psychedelic and it is kraut as hell. So what are you waiting for? Get your hands on this acid trip...
krautrock / drone / shoegaze
A few months ago, Eric Quach (Thisquietarmy) and I were talking about his busy touring and recording schedule. He told me that he had been recording with Hypnodrone Ensemble again. I was thrilled. I had discovered this project a few years earlier and immediately become a fan. Now the new album is available, titled 'The Hunting Season Is Open!' and once again it is a pleasurably trip to bury yourself in. The set-up is similar, Aidan Baker and Eric Quach deliver the drones while Felipe Salazar (Caudal, Muerte En Pereira), Jérémie Mortier (Alice in the Cities, Lady Shot from a Tree), and Dave Dunnett (Man Meets Bear) play the drums.
Yes, three drummers. That should make up for some potent rhythm section. However, in track one those three sound very modest, almost subdued. I don't mind but somehow it feels like this multi-drummer thing is not yet reaching its full potential on this one. That will probably change soon. On a side note, I wonder if the idea comes from Dirk Serries who once formed Fearfallsburning, also with three drummers. It was one of the heaviest drone-ambient things I've ever heard.
Perhaps heaviness is not the characteristic Hypnodrone Ensemble aims for. Perhaps here the focus lies on immersiveness and a dreamy atmosphere. In that, this act certainly succeeded. Track two is equally friendly, a bit rougher but just as meditative as it's predecessor. For the record, there are four tracks, each over ten minutes long, so there is plenty of ambient rock jazz kraut goodness to be found here.
Oddly enough, throughout the album, the music invites me to continuously adjust the volume. I played track one on a mild level, track two a bit harder and track four on neighbours-annoying levels. Oh shit, I'm becoming my friend Marc, who often manages to annoy an entire city with his high volume jazz. Oh well, I guess that's what good music does, no? And this is good music, you can be certain of that.
If I have to pick a favorite track here, it will number three. Here the drummers are more prominent than on the previous ones. Here they really got the kraut going. Minami Deutsch suddenly comes to mind. The band shows a similar joy-of-playing. I can easily imagine crowds dancing, shaking their behinds and nodding their head to this music. I hope one day I will be one of them. I really want to see this thing live. But for now, I'll just recommend it to the entire city, at high volume of course.
darkwave / krautrock / drone
Sometimes I wonder, do bands look up their band name to see if it exists yet? I have been doing that for every single project I have ever been involved in, even in the days before the internet. Today, I see more and more bands who do not seem to care, like the noise rock act Kong who had no idea that there was already a Dutch band with that name. Or like Spirals. The search results literally gave me hundreds of pages and at least twenty bands. That must be confusing for festival organisers and fans, no? Or is that just me? Oh well, maybe I'm just becoming an old, whining man. Let's forget about this paragraph and dig into the music.
'Spirals' contains four track, each on ten minutes long and rather hard to describe. There are lingering basslines, reminding me of classic krautrock bands. There are guitar soundscapes, which come close to shoegaze, dreampop and ambient. There are slow, repetitive drums, bringing the post rock scene to mind. And finally there are vocals which somehow bring up the phrase 'Ministry doing black metal'. I know, all of that doesn't sound coherent if you read it but listen to this music and you'll be stunned out of your mind.
The accompanying biography mentioned acts like Om, Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand and Lycia. And yes, I can hear these influences. However, it feels like this music comes from deep within the souls and minds of the band members. These feel like long, dark and intense jam sessions in which the end result is way more than the sum of the respective elements. Yet, most of all, this is a surprisingly immersive album, one you can easily lose yourself in and let your mind wander. Try it, it's fascinating.
psychedelic rock / krautrock
Sometimes it's funny how people promote music. This album, for example, was pretty much pushed as the rebirth of psychedelic rock, created by guys who claim that the genre should not have died. However, being a music reviewer, I have seen tonnes of psychedelic rock albums come in. This genre is far from dead. I don't understand why people would think such a thing. Ok, true, maybe on the radio but people who solely listen to the radio should not have an opinion about music. Oh well, I'm digressing again. Let's just say that psychedelic rock is still raging on in all its glory and immediately add that this is a damn good album. It's not a rebirth but a splendid continuation.
Vibravoid is a band from Düsseldorf, Germany, formed in 1990. Since then, they have been extremely loyal to the psychedelic garage sound of the late sixties. From The Beatles to Jefferson Airplane, these guys truly breathe that fuzzed out and Indian inspired sound. The heavy use of sitar gives the whole thing an authentic feel, although it sometimes also reminds me of Cornershop. You know, from 'Brimful Of Asha'. That being said, also Stone Roses come to mind.
Oh well, if you are really into vintage sounding psychedelic rock, there is absolutely no reason not to love songs like 'Om Gang Ganpayte Namah', 'The Legend Of Dr. Robert' or 'Echoes Of Time'. This stuff is genuine, not another bandwagoner jumping on the psych-train. I can only advise you to check this out. Besides, those three 'Krautfaktor' tracks at the end are nothing short of amazing. This is top notch hippie stuff!!!
ambient / jazz / krautrock
My mind is an absolute mess these days. Not because of the holiday season, not even because there are so many releases that need to be reviewed. I guess it's just a creative generalist thing. I got worse since I decided to become a novelist and then it got worse when I started to work on my second book. It's absolute chaos up there with ideas and plots flashing through my brain. Usually, music makes it better but not this time. This time music just generates more ideas and plots. Oh well, I guess I have to learn to live with it. Luckily there are brilliant albums out there, albums that seem to calm my mental nerves. You guessed it, this is one of those.
Lotto is an instrumental and experimental three piece from Poland, formed by Łukasz Rychlicki (guitar, bass), Mike Majkowski (double bass, hammond organ and synths) and Paweł Szpura (drums). With 'VV' they deliver their third album, a fully improvised musical adventure that beautifully combines ambient, krautrock and psychedelic rock. Furthermore, elements of noise and jazz seem to present too, as if Einstürzende Neubauten met up with Tortoise and Kreidler.
What I like most about this album is the freedom that these musicians have given themselves. Noisy percussion? Sure, why not. Subdued techno beats? They're welcome. Eerie drones and sound sculptures? Absolutely. And meanwhile you're floating on an immersive bass sequence which Tangerine Dream would be proud of. Needless to say perhaps, but this is not your everyday rock album.
On the other hand, I'm damn sure that this stuff will appear in my day to day playlist a lot from now on. I just adore this continuous weirdness. It's no secret that I am a fan of all things improvised and I am definitely a fan of Lotto. So yeah, I can only recommend this album to all fans of experimental krautrock and experimental ambient. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to close my eyes and listen to the album again.