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.
Jinjer – Macro
Donetsk is usually known for its coal, maybe also for its football club. Or the war in Eastern Ukraine, but can you name a metal band from there? Probably no, but there is one now, Jinjer. The band around Tatiana Shmayluk will please all fans of bands like Walls of Jericho or Arch Enemy because they definitely got all the trademarks necessary for being successful in the scene.
Their sound is state of the art, the drums energize the songs up to full max, the breaks for the clean parts are well-placed and the vocals easily change seamlessly from growling to immaculate singing. The band is able to incorporate some surprises like the piano-part in “Retrospection” or the jigging off-beat beginning of “Judgement (and Punishment)” hopping along to Tatiana’s lyrics. But the latter also present the one flaw in the Jinjer-puzzle, they are a bit too genre-like; for example the lyrics to the opener “On the Top” with its first glorification of the individual strife for greatness and success and the turn to a criticism of the same. “Retrospection” definitely has the most intriguing lyrics as the beginning is sung in Russian and English with the English parts talking about the wish to return to the family safe haven – the Russian parts make the English screaming much more believable. Nonetheless, genre fans will surely be very pleased with the first band they know from Donetsk, Ukraine.
Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches - Covenant
“From the darkness comes the light” - a programmatic sentence for Karyn Crisis and her project with husband/Ephel Duath-mastermind Davide Tiso, gloomy sunrises dominate this record. The voice of former NYHC band Crisis has been working with the Italian metal guitarists for several years having released an album in 2015. Now, four years later, they return with a new LP and its 12 songs show a lot of different sides of the duo accompanied by Fabian Vestod (Skinlab) on drums.
The songs have a certain groove and grow on the listener but they mostly feed off of the energy spread by Karyn’s voice. It is audible that she has been singing for nearly 30 years with a longer break after the end of Crisis in 2004. Since then she has discovered her spirituality and even taught people in order to get in touch with that side of themselves and in some strange ways that can be heard. Very often she uses her strong voice to seduce us, to connect with our third eye.
Listening to Karyn is like watching a black and white movie of a medicine woman with some blue flames flickering before an old Chevy standing at the top of a long canyon with the black gorge looming in the deep. An image one cannot take the eyes off just like one doesn’t want Karyn to stop from lullabyeing.
Her husband doesn’t overplay his musical abilities he rather uses all his prowess to sustain his wife’s magical abilities. You will find a wide range of dynamics and guitar work on “Covenant” – from doomy riffs to minuscule guitar pickings painting red moons over Karyn’s old Chevy and the black canyon.
Törzs – Tukör (a second opinion)
Mountain men mambo. Caveman cha-cha-cha. Those stupid terms can hardly be used more adequately than when describing Törzs’ new album, with a wink of an eye. Why? Later, for now let’s talk about the music itself.
There is something about this record that resonates inside as much as outside. The reverb on the record is probably as much a derelict of the band’s roots in shoegaze as to the idea behind it. The songs follow a motif of clarity that is also reflected in the change to a purely instrumental band with this release letting go of vocals for better. The Hungarian outfit is able to paint a wholesome picture of deserts around huge mountains without snow-capped tops, of long and winding roads through the Hungarian vastness outside the metropolis. Sometimes the temperatures drop because of the chilling slowness of some riffs and licks (“Hamarlik”) and sometimes the heat rises by the minute because of the jazzy vibrato of the drums (“Ötodik”). Jazz, that is definitely a thing to connect “Tukör” with, the band sometimes sounds like the perfect mix between The Cinematic Orchestra and Bohren und der Club of Gore, and just those two there is one thing that Törzs definitely are really good at – giving their songs just the right amount of time to breathe. They have left all desperate haste and unnecessary hurry at the entrance to the cave in which they recorded this record; and that is no joke – this is real caveman-made music.
Hegy – We won’t Make it Home
blackmetal / blackgaze
The second release from Hungary in this edition of the Brieviews, Hegy is leading us onto a seemingly similar path like Törzs with the opening track “Outer Rings” before turning around abruptly and then erupting harshly destroying all ideas one had about the road taken and at the very end the Alcest’ian notions are overturned again with an electronic outro. Those are reconfirmed by the beginning of “Hydra”, the second track, when they use blastbeats to show their roots and then lead into a straight up rock song of which many mainstream rock bands would be proud. It becomes clear that Hegy (Hungarian for ‘mountain’) is a band that is really capable of producing good long-tracks as there is always so much going on in their sound and songwriting. The trio doesn’t bore the listener, the guitars take him by the hand leading him from one sonic idea and motif to the next with the drums explaining a story of a harsh expedition through unknown territory sometimes going up a difficult slope and then again stumbling over earthy ground.
Sometimes blackgaze doesn’t need vocals if the music is already pointing you in the right directions. Or turns you around to enjoy the right view before you just stare at a blank mountain wall for too long. Or plays a trick on you and you stare at a picture of a view before being pushed off the cliff but falling into an even more interesting scenario. It would be “Nefarious” not to listen to Hegy if you are into post-rock and shoegaze, blackgaze and post-metal. They have a lot to say wordlessly.
Arx Atrata – The Path Untravelled
Agalloch, Saor, Winterfylleth, Panopticon – the list is long and seemingly endless when it comes to atmospheric black metal bands nowadays. Most of them have a feeling for dynamics and the situational eruption amidst vast quietness. Ben Sizer aka Arx Atrata is no exception to it. The mastermind and only member of this project uses synthesizers to spice up his musical vision which becomes clearest in the title-track of this, his third record. A 10-minute-opus, the track plays with the audience often using small ambient passages or clean guitar parts to disrupt the eruption. Sizer is definitely able to use the synthesizer to his best advantage, supporting the blastbeats and eerie guitar motifs with effective scapes in order to purvey some kind of loftiness of sound that is also noticeable in small things like some minor background guitar work where some simple chords provide a breath of air and slowly raise everything a bit higher. ‘Higher’ in general seems to be the direction that Sizer strives for, as his compositions always reach towards the open sky. Whether he will be able to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors when it comes to the success they had, remains to be seen – he surely took a lot of pages from their books and constructed his own vision and trademark sound. That is something that not too many people on the long list of atmospheric black metal bands can say for themselves.
Tim Linghaus - About B. (Memory Sketches B-Sides Recordings)
ambient / classical
Antoine Panaché - Endling
experimental / noise
Misty Bliss - Misty Bliss
alternative rock / psychedelic rock
Thecodontion - Jurassic
Wang Wen - Endless （theme song for "Space Challenge"）
Blair Coron - On The Nature Of Things
ambient / classical
A Vintage Death - Acrid Death Fragrance
doom / black metal
Ûngrûn - Demo 2019
Anna Havoc - Anna Havoc
Beyond Our Sight - The Void Within
metal / death metal / metalcore
metal / metalcore
While browsing through my pile of CDs to be reviewed, I found this little thing. I think it has been there for a while. I remembered when it came in. I opened the envelop and saw the CD plus the biography. I read the words "symphonic" and "metalcore" which almost caused the album to become forgotten.
Why? Well, I simply don't like metalcore and it has been ages since I listened to symphonic metal. Today the album almost literally fell into my lap while I was sorting out the CDs. I decided to give it a shot and I have to say, I am not as disappointed as I thought I would be.
The album opens with the powerful and forward pushing 'Lilith'. Immediately influences from bands like Arch Enemy, Trivium and Lacuna Coil appear. Fronted by the versatile Lola Van Loo, this Swiss band is a raging tribute to metal, certainly capable of causing most pits and crowd surfers. So far so good but the following track, 'Don't Waste Your Time' somewhat reduces the joy. Although this is not a bad song, you can hear a searching band, not yet fully convinced of their abilities. Either that, or they take the element of experimentation a bit too far.
Then again, 'Crawling In The Dirt' is a top level metal track, combining the best from Otep with the best of Arch Enemy and that is a serious compliment. It also show a bit of humor, which I think is a good thing. 'Blue Scorpion' is a cracker but also seems to drown in the planned versatility of the band. Sometimes I feel as if Chaoseum tried to adopt too many influences at once, giving the music an unnecessary complexity. In my opinion, fans will crave more tracks like the brutal 'F.T.S.' or the pummeling 'Devil's Wedding'.
'First Step To Hell' is not a bad album. In fact, it's certainly above average. The music is performed to perfection. There is plenty of power and the whole thing is varied enough to remain interesting, apart from a few missteps. What Chaoseum needs now is heaps of stage performances. If all goes well there, there is a big change for founding them on big stages in the future. In a few years, they might release a masterpiece. This CD has planted the seeds for that. There is potential, that's for sure.
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
metal / metalcore / mathcore
Back to Belgian soil, this time with a heritage from the Antwerp Metal Fest event (read). One of the most surprising bands was Cyclus with their suffocating blend of metal, hardcore and mathcore. Now, they combine their previous EP's into one full length, titled 'Sekt'.
The band is formed by members of Minus45degrees, Born From Pain, Calibre and Facedown (amongst others). Yet, with Cyclus they decided to shed all genre boundaries and create a whole different musical universe, loosely based on the 1951 movie 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' .
On the album, the band looks at the earth and humanity from the perspective of an alien race. They see what humans do to the planet and decide to eradicate that virus. This concept reflects mostly in the intros of the three separate EPs. The rest of the sixteen songs are powerful pieces of heavy music. 'Distress Signal on a Stellar Wave' and 'A Most Painful Realisation' can probably best be described as metalcore with their crushing riffs and intense screams. Yet, more often the vocals take on a clean form, something I can surely appreciate.
The combination between complexity and intensity is overwhelming. Very little on this album is predictable. In my head, heaps of bands pass by, be it only for mere seconds. Killswitch Engage, Amenra, Anthrax, Oceans Ate Alaska, Tool, Dillinger Escape Plan, System Of A Down, Despised Icon, Calibre (which perhaps might be expected) and heaps more appear, it's like a three day metal festival crushed into a bunch of three minutes lasting tracks. Is that good? It certainly is impressive.
'Is Your Feeling Formidable?' and 'No Force is Half Felt' are two of my absolute favorites here. Somehow Cyclus has managed to combine noise, chaos and sheer brutality into one massive distress signal. My advice would be to just dive in and let the music do its mesmerizing work. Fans of the extreme should absolutely check this out. Cyclus isn't just another band to explore musical horizons, they are a unique and overpowering entity in an already baffling metal scene. So yeah, this comes bloody recommended.
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
Mixtaped Monk - Northern Eye
Onhou - Onhou
doom / sludge / psychedelic
My Secret Safe - Storytelling
Alaska Gold Rush - And The Sky Dives Again
folk / alternative rock
Things That Aren't There - Slow Down
post rock / shoegaze
Circus worlD - The Deceiver
The Divided Line - Paramnesia
Adonai Atrophia - Metahistory
Barrel Blood - Midwinter live improvisation
experimental / avant garde / classical
Black Strike - 132
stoner rock / alternative / metal
Funeris - Baleful Astral Elements
Without Dreams - Funeral In The Infinity Of Cosmos
funeral doom / ambient
This album has been staring me in the face for quite some time now. So I decided that today is the day that I'll finally give it a shot and get on with the review. It was presented to me as a metalcore/deathcore hybrid and it just so happens that I'm not a fan of these genres. Apparently, nobody on Merchants Of Air is. In all honesty we desperately need more writers. But anyway, here I am, listening to a metalcore/deathcore album from a French combo. At the moment I'm writing these words, I'm five tracks into the album, with 'Reborn' currently blasting through my speakers. And, although I'm still not a fan, I do recognize some great craftsmanship.
Quite often metalcore bands drown in their own breaks, riffs and energy. Eventually that usually results in uncontrollable musical chaos that only the die hard fans can appreciate (you know, those youngsters who invented a weird and spastic dance). Yet, Diana Rising seems to focus on songs rather than technicality. They have thrown plenty of melodic leads into their music and enhance the whole thing with minimal but well fitting electronics.
Then of course, there is the vocalist, the one member of a metalcore band I usually just can't take seriously. Again, here that is different. Instead of constantly switching between growls, screams and pig squeals, this one focuses on hardcore screams, loaded with intensity. Besides, he quite often lets the music do its job, which is also a plus. That music obviously is loaded with gut ripping riffs and enhanced by an excellent drummer.
So yeah, for a metalcore album, this certainly is a stand-out. I mean, I managed to listen to the entire album which is extremely rare in this genre. So I can only recommend this one to all extreme metal fans out there, since that is exactly what this thing is: extreme. You can fiercely bang your head to it, you can do that silly dance if you want or you can get into the pit. Diana Rising might be one of the best metalcore bands out there, isn't that a surprise...