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...
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
Owl - Orion Fenix
doom / post metal
Stonemule - Dystopian State
metal / hardcore
Ritual King - Earthrise
psychedelic rock / doom
Wykan - Solace
psychedelic / doom
Soft Science - Undone / I Don't Know Why I Love You
shoegaze / dream pop
Maff - Melañiña
Nostalgist - Disaffection
post punk / new wave
Amusement Parks On Fire - All The New Ends
alternative rock / shoegaze
Grift - Vilsna Andars Boning
Giovanni Verga - Sylphic
experimental / ambient / noise
TRI:.OBYTE - STAR ⠃⠊⠗⠞⠓ KIC 8462852
ambient / noise / experimental
Bloodkry - Dark Paradise
dark ambient / drone
Kloob - Remarkable Events
ambient / electronic
Widow's Peak - Graceless
Cult of Extinction - Black Nuclear Magick Attack
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
post rock / doom / shoegaze
The last three reviews I wrote described music from acts that have been featured on Merchants Of Air before. Since 2014, heaps of acts have been present on these pages and quite often bands seem to return. Somehow that makes me feel proud of what we have accomplished here. It's great fun to see these bands come back even better than before. French act Ddent is number four in that list. I reviewed their album 'آكتئاب' about a year ago (read) and now they reveal the next chapter in their musical adventures. Again this shows a band that has been growing, maturing, something I can only applaud, obviously.
The music on 'Toro' is rather similar to 'آكتئاب'. Once again Ddent treats the listener to an impressive blend of doom, post rock, shoegaze and (post) black metal. Once again they play with mesmerizing riffs and tonnes of atmosphere. There are seven tracks to be found, pretty much all of them are highlights in their own right. 'Dis à la lune qu'elle vienne' is probably one of my favorites, a highly immersive piece of post rock that would undoubtedly be a show-highlight as well. Then again, I surely believe most of these tunes are show-highlighs.
'Torse De Marbre' is another one of my favorites. I absolutely love the percussion performance in this track. That's the thing with Ddent: they always seem to go that extra mile. They always seem to add that little extra that makes them stand out in an overcrowded post-rock/metal scene. At the end of my previous review for these Parisians I mentioned that 2017 was going to be an awesome year for music. Well, 2018 is heading into the same direction and I couldn't be more pleased about it.
Another masterpiece is 'La Pluie Emplit Sa Bouche', which gradually evolves from dark ambient to atmospheric doom metal to something every metalhead can bang his skull to. Apparently many non-metalheads too. My wife is headbanging right now, how cool is that? Anyhow, this is a brilliant album, one I will gladly recommend to all my slow music friends. Ddent have clearly evolved which is always a good thing. They were great already but now they are slowly entering my top-20 list.
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.
Grantezuma - Grantezuma
Ferla - 13122017
drone / experimental
Maff - Melañiña
alternative rock / shoegaze
Sophia Marshall - Lin-dah
folk rock / americana
We Are Cursed - We Are Cursed
metal / post hardcore
Taller Than The Trees - Hubris
Black Neon District - Standing Waves
Ficture - Filled Spaces
downtempo / electronic
Depths Of Kronos - From The Void
Affasia - Adrift in Remorse
doom metal / dark metal / death metal
Revenger - The New Mythology Vol. 1
thrash / death metal
Hemka - 707 Collision
Operant - Harnessed To Flesh
Wild Mighty Freaks - Guns 'n Cookies
nu metal / hip hop / metal
Bongthrower - Demo
stoner doom / sludge metal
Ecloss - Diluvienne
elements of its sagacious and vividly spontaneous sensitivity all over its universe of demanding intonations, Diluvienne presents to its audience a mature, whimsical, cohesive sentimentally realistic and marvelously artistic atmospheric BM work. With wonderful harmonies that can lead you to an imaginary world encircled by the shadows of a permanent desolation, Diluvienne is the perfectly envisioned sonorous conflagration for this sinister, but exceedingly pleasant journey, made entirely on elegant and sophisticated melodies, that exposes on the peripheral parameters of its principles all the hidden beauty of a mystery inserted at the most fantastic abysses of the human conscience. (W.)
Valiant - A Timeworn Oath
this EP is a fantastic, lucid and poetic sonorous everlasting declamation to the universe, with all the sincere odes of ordination and vividly sagacious harmonies, that makes this work so ostensibly brilliant. With greatly devised, ascendant and almost medieval melodies, Valiant has created a lugubrious, but marvelous masterpiece, with this half an hour long EP. Definitely, a majestic and fundamental work, that will enchant the genre’s audience. (W.)
Tides of Emptiness - Tides of Emptiness
sentences, the sound of Tides of Emptiness is deeply consistent and thoroughly reverberating. Rearranging in more crude patterns the sinister excellence of the genre, the group exposes at the sonorous horizon of its lancinating artistic patterns a cataclysmic sobriety, upon which every ghost that lives by the shadows of its harmonies should die, or accept the volatile integrity of its fate, at the request of a rhythm that disperses fatality in each and every one of its notes. (W.)
Vindorn - Perdition
While honoring tradition with a fabulous ordeal of acrimonious excellency and wisely restrained rhythmical barriers, Vindorn deflagrates at the epicenter of the harmonious convergences of his expressive splendor the uplifting urgencies of melodies amazingly conceived at the height of a true black metal insurgency. (W.)
Obscure - Zero Dawn
metal / stoner rock
place for air in your lungs and thus generates more power. Other than that, I don't think I have a lot of advice for these guys. They have been going to setbacks and delays releasing this EP but they pulled through. Now all they need to do is rehearse, write, rehearse, play live and rehearse again. They have the talent, it just needs to bloom. (S.)
Ossian Smith - Sleepless Town
Servants Of The Apocalyptic Goat Rave - Queen Of Darkness
black metal / hardcore techno / industrial
that is the recipe for this unique output. Of course, that techno escapade by Morbid Angel often comes to mind but here it's brilliantly executed. In that, perhaps it's not even such a bad idea to compare this to Zeal and Ardor. Both acts successfully managed to put two seemingly incompatible genres together. So yeah, this is unique and undoubtedly comes highly recommended, not only to my sister-in-law but to all extremists with an open mind. (S.)
Babalith - Gramatique du Ciel
experimental / ambient
Dark Archive - Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon
from these respective artists. I stopped following all these bands quite a while ago but Dark Archive makes me hungry for blood again. Opener 'Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon' and 'Godfear Eradication' are brilliant pieces of late nineties inspired black metal. 'Unohda ei ikinä' is pure and utter chaos, dressed in immersive extreme music. I'll leave the other two up to you, but I'd definitely recommend this thing. (S.)
Limbs - Body Without
shoegaze / post punk / noise rock / black metal
The Vale - Autumn in the Valley
doom / rock
Empress - Reminiscence
sludge / doom
Heligoland - Coriallo
shoegaze / dreampop
Duran Duran - Girls on Film - 1979 Demo
Luke Fox - Sugarloaf
pop / rock
My Deathbed - My Deathbed
Versus The Ghost - We Don't Belong Here
(D)juret - Sök Din Sekt
punk / crust
Concrete Eden - Left
Aidan Baker & Gareth Davis - Invisible Cities
drone / jazz
Vhorthax - Nether Darkness
death metal / black metal
An interesting black metal EP, full of sinister and crudely afflictive melodies, in the best style of the genre’s old school, Nether Darkness has powerful and distinctive guitar lines, that ostensibly create an atmosphere of doom and demise. With rapid and crudely hostile, almost agonizing melodies, Vhorthax gets really close to what is known as blackened death metal, although they maintain their style more aligned with traditional BM. With pragmatic virtues that showcases a group in the complete command of its technical skills, the harmonies of this EP displays a world of good old fashioned black metal, with aggressive guitar lines, and a permanently lugubrious atmosphere. With six tracks – Altar I - The Mass, The Levitating Tomb, Stabat Mater, Thy Foul Graal, Crushing The Vessels Of Trinity and Altar II - The Descent of the Martyr –, Nether Darkness is a formidable EP, that has a tremendous amount of dark fury, delivered at the perfect intensity to reach the highest peaks of the black art.
Solip - Without
post rock / shoegaze / doom
delightful universes of sensitive compassion, the music of Solip seems to be the sonorous configuration of a reasonable moment of beauty, doomed to be ephemerons at the pretentious highlight of its infinite vastness.
Electric Hobo - Valkoinen Ratsu
drone / noise / experimental
Democide - Omen
electronic / psychedelic
Gurt - Skullossus
sludge / doom
Neraterrae - The Nhart Demo[n]s
dark ambient / noise / drone
Day Before Us - Nihil Interit
The Veldt - Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose
shoegaze / dream pop
Novaria - EP1
progressive rock / metal
Centripetal Force - Eidetic
thrash metal / progressive