Blackened death metal from Bangladesh, that's something you don't hear every day. Orobas was formed in 2015, heavily inspired by bands like Venom, Mayhem, Beherit and Behemoth. Their music follows a similar path, an eerie intro, followed by primitive and harsh black metal. Yet, it isn't all blast-beats and thrash metal inspired chaos. The songs are quite varied and show some seasoned musicians. There's enough brute power and energy to please every fan of old school metal, whether that is thrash, death or black. Old school, like in the days those tags didn't really exist yet. You just smashed the play button and started headbanging. This ep is a good way to relive that era and it contains some nice surprises!
doom / sludge
The sludge scene is evolving, that's for sure. Take this UK-based combo Kurokuma and their newest ep for example. At first listen, you're engulfed in sludged-out riffs and a tar-thick pool of fuzz, distortion and brutal vocals. However, gradually the whole thing gets a psychedelic edge with hypnotic drones and soundscapes. Noise rock seems to be another thing these guys have been listening to, and there's even a djembe-driven passage. My advice, listen, listen again, and again because the true value of this ep slowly appears, mainly in the Conan meets (old) Sepultura song 'Dark Triad'. If you like intense and heavy, you'll want to marry this ep...
symphonic metal / progressive metal / death metal
I'm not very fond of this album, but that's mainly because I'm not a fan of soprano fronted symphonic metal. However, I do want to recommend this debut to people who are fans of this genre because it's got some refreshing elements, excellent use of electronics and mesmerizing guitar passages. It's a debut, one which contains a few potential fan favorites, including the hypnotic 'Kaleidoscope' and the haunting 'Social War'. Besides, the album teems with variation, surprising hooks and complex song structures. There is talent here, talent that quite possibly will climb the big stages at a metal festival near you...
If you thought all Canadians are friendly, nice, well-behaved people, you should listen to this obscure tape. Brutal, aggressive and primitive death metal, accompagnied with deep, guttural growls and sharp guitar solos will blast you right out of any prejudice you can have against Canadians. If you're a fan of old school death metal, this definitely is your thing. I mean, it's a tape, it's brutal as fuck and it's guaranteed to drag you down into a cesspool of misanthropy, misery and terror, what else can you possibly want as a seasoned death metal adept, right?
More fierce and gut ripping old school death metal which guarantees to slice your throat if you try to resist. Chugun is a female fronted death metal from Israel who make a shitload of noise with hyperspeed riffs, pounding drums and insanely sick vocals. The overall nature of this album is extremely violent, massively inspired by thrash metal acts like Slayer as well as death metal bands like Lamb Of God, Gojira or Morbid Angel. The whole thing is over after about half an hour but by then you'll be smashed to pieces anyway. Chugun is an intensely destructive force, one I hope will tour with this material soon. This has got to be a pulverizing live experience...
doom / black metal
Unnamed musicians from somewhere in the USA, creating vast and layered blackened doom which will gnaw and grind on your very conscience, if you still have that. In three monolithic songs, VRTRA brings dissonance and chaos to a whole new level, a level where bands like Dragged Into Sunlight and Lord Mantis also seem to roam. One step further into the abyss and we'd be dealing with harsh, blackened noise, but there is still a decent slab of musicality to be found here. I have no idea who exactly is behind this project, but I'm quite sure that they are experienced musicians in the world of sludge, doom and black metal, ànd that wish to devour your soul...
It's death metal galore at this edition of "brieviews", continuing the path of utter destruction with French progressive death metal act Dysylumn. With elements from black, death and doom metal, this act comes up with some highly immersive pieces of music, progressive but not too complex and pretty much always perfectly suited to bang your head. The songs are well varied, melodic and paint an excellent musical scenery without harming the overall aggression and brutality that comes with this genre. This ep is the forerunner for something new, coming pretty soon. I for one am looking forward to that...
thrash / death metal
Hailing from Finland, and completely stuck into the nineties come My Funeral and their 'Harder Than This Life' album. With this album, this quartet will fill the moshpits with crowdsurfers and stagedivers, causing an orgy of limbs and hair. Think Exodus, think Sodom, think Exploited, think Tankard, think Suicidal Tendencies. Or better yet, don't think at all, just mosh and thrash to awesome tunes like 'Future Violence' and 'And More Violence'. Did I already say that this was a pretty violent piece of work? Well, it is and you should own this if you're a true thrash metal. There I said it, now go ahead and buy this thing. Thrash metal hasn't been this edgy in years...
industrial / death metal
What would happen if Suicide Commando (or Hocico or Combichrist for that matter) crawled into the studio with Nasum or Cannibal Corpse? Well, this album might provide you with an idea of how that would sound: bloody brilliant, that's how. This thing combines brutal death metal and grindcore with heaps of electronics, sequencers and a load of samples. The result is a mesmerizing journey of relentless brutality, a death metal version of Limbonic Art perhaps. Qip is a side project from Sirrah co-founder Maciej Pasinski, and I hope he'll get a band together and take this stuff on the road. This album is way too good to be ignored, so check it out, it's an extreme metal masterpiece...
We'll end this edition of "brieviews" with a good slab of sleazy, faul and grimy sludge metal from Melbourne, Australia based trio She Beast (and a firm pair of butt cheeks for your visual delight). There's nothing fancy, pretty or complicated on this album. Instead, it's simply a gigantic steamroller, driving in through your ears and bursting out through your anus about twenty five minutes later. All you can do is undergo the whole thing, try to enjoy it and press the play button again. If you're into primitive but effective sludge doom, this surely is your thing. If not, there's still the oddly fascinating cover photo to look at. Me? I really need a smoke now...
2016 is becoming quite a good year for post-rock lovers. Not only did Russian Circles, Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai come with new releases but loads of other bands continue to explore the seemingly endless possibilities that this genre possesses as well. French quartet Lost In Kiev is one of those bands. They have just released this epic piece of work on the highly acclaimed Dunk! Records. I've been listening to the album a lot in the past few days, trying to figure out if it belongs in the "best-of-2016-post-rock" list or not.
The main problem I have with this album, is also it's biggest advantage. It's a classic post-rock album, containing all the necessary ingredients to make it a highlight in the scene. The songs are elaborate pieces work, alternating between heavy guitars and calmer passages, often accompanied with vocal samples. Yet, all of that has already been done before, making it extremely hard to stand out as a band. I guess that's something every post-rock band needs to deal with, and Lost In Kiev deals with that quite aggressively.
Perhaps that is where the album can truly stand out, in it's dark, spooky and often quite violent atmosphere. Lost In Kiev are no strangers to doom and sludge metal, that's for sure. The guitars often rage and grind with an intensely distorted sound. That atmosphere grows gradually in opener 'Narcosis' and evolves throughout the first part of the album, eventually resulting in a fierce face-smasher at the end of title track 'Nuit Noire'. With this track, the true genius of this album displays itself. Not that 'Insomnia' and 'Mirrors' are band songs, on the very contrary, but believe me, the best it yet to come.
And that best is the track 'Somnipathy', a song Tangerine Dream would have written if they decided to become a psychedelic post rock band. 'Somnipathy' simply is a masterpiece and an absolute highlight in its genre, blending vintage post-rock with immersive electronics. The piano and samples driven breather 'Catalepsy' is quite welcome after that heap of intensity, adding plenty of variation to the whole album. 'Resilience' delves deeper into the world of sludge metal, and with success. Headbanging definitely is a possibility on this one. 'Celestial' is an obtrusive piece of harsh ambient, bringing some 65 Days Of Static tunes to mind.
The album closes with another highlight in 'Emersion', another beautiful and immersive piece of music. By now, I'm definitely convinced that Lost In Kiev deserve all the attention they can get. 'Nuit Noire' is an intense journey, one that you need to add to your collection if you hold the post-rock genre close to your heart. I guess chances are big that this quartet will be on the main stage of next year's edition of Dunk! Festival and if so, they will undoubtedly deliver an awe-inspiring experience for the audience. So take my advice, buy the album, listen to it a lot and join me in the gloomy adventure that 'Nuit Noire' has become...
dark folk / ethereal
When I see the words "dark folk" in a review submission, my expectation bar often immediately lowers. It's a vague concept, usually evincing an artist with an acoustic guitar and a few computer generated "classical" arrangements, singing about how bad life is and how everything would be a lot better if we lived without technology, like in the days when the lute was the top instrument. I've seen many somnolent Sol Invictus, Rome, Spiritual Front or Der Blutharsch imitations over the years, enough to become extremely cautious about the whole genre. On the other hand, when I see Kratong being mentioned in a biography, that expectation bar gets raised again. I've always regarded Kratong as one of the most interesting acts in this scene.
Italian dark folk act The Illusion Of Silence has a strong bond with Russia. After cooperating with Russian acts Kratong and Sunset Wings, this one man project now releases his debut full-length, aided by Alex Popov (Sunset Wings) and Johnnie from Kratong. Furthermore, the album is published by Russian label Sulphur Flowers. Finally, and that might be the ultimate reason why this is a highly credible piece of work, the album seems to be almost completely void of electronics. The list of instruments is impressive, ranging from piano over a string quartet to flutes, accordion and harmonica. This acoustic approach is something I can only applaud, obviously.
Most of the songs on this album are piano driven folk ballads, enhanced by strings and clean vocals. They don't have the bombastic atmosphere of most of the most well-known neo-folk acts like Arditi or Death In June but remain on a calm, intimate level. Some of the songs, including 'A Dream Lost Forever' and 'The Old Seaman', could easily be medieval chamber music. I can see this music being played in some castle at the end of another war. Other songs are mystifying, painting a gloomy, nocturnal and almost occult atmosphere. 'I Burnt My Bad Thought ' is one of those strange songs, and so is its follower 'Blooming'.
On the other hand, the cooperation between piano, strings and understated vocals, makes 'While You Were Away' quite a decent pop rock ballad, reminiscent of some works by Nick Cave or Jeff Buckley. That way, this act seems to cross over between modern bardism and medieval inspired neofolk, and that's something I really like. In all, this album is definitely a must-have for all you neofolk fans out there. It's one of the quietest in its genre, rather minimal but beautifully narrative and immersive enough to remain interesting. So check it out, I think we'll be hearing more from this act in the near future.
I don't know, experimental jazz techno noise?
Since I experienced Dead Neanderthals at Incubate a few years ago, I've been trying to follow whatever these guys are doing. I admit, I can't keep up with everything but I do my very best. So when I saw that name on the sticker attached to the album, I didn't hesitate. I ripped the plastic off the digipac, fed the cd to my cd player and turned up the volume. Before I realized, I was dancing my ass off and the patients from the plastic surgery hospital across the street were looking and laughing at me. Needless to say, I cannot dance but I will repeat these spastic movements every time I hear this music again.
This album is a collaboration between heavy jazz combo Dead Neanderthals and Dutch psychic house act Drvg Cvltvre. It contains one track, which is a thirty-five minutes lasting dance track, driving on a solid beat and containing loads of soundscapes and tiny variations. It's an immersive jamsession with techno beats, drones, saxophone and guitars, guaranteed to get your butt moving. Unfortunately, there is little else to say about this release, apart from the fact that it's a massive psychedelic and hypnotic trip that you definitely should try out. I hope that this release is followed by a few live performances real soon. I'm absolutely positive that it will get entire audiences in a deep state of trance.
psychedelic rock / electronic / krautrock
Time to start writing a few reviews again after taking several days off. And why not start with the most difficult one, an amalgamation of musical styles and influences. I mean, usually things are quite easy to describe but when the first three minutes of an album already remind me of The Beatles, Ween, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Massive Attack and the second song throws in some funk and soul, you know you're in for an adventure.
The Good Library formed back in 1996 in Vienna, Austria. since then, they have been paving their own path in the world of psychedelic rock and krautrock. Their songs evolve from elaborate jam sessions, and you can clearly hear that. From opener 'Ice Throat' to the hypnotic closer 'Tantum', this album feels like a massive journey on many different levels. I'll try to guide you through with a song-by-song description.
The album opens with 'Ice Throat', which seems to combine post-rock with either The Beatles or The Jesus And Mary Chain. There's also something trip-hoppy in here, caused by the electronics and the soundscapes. In all, it's a perfect opening track. 'Goldfish' opens with electronic beats, a bit similar to the stuff Tricky does. Yet, shortly after, a funky bassline kicks in and we're shaking our asses off. My mind just made up the term "doom disco". Don't ask me why...
'The Floating Afterwards' is a classic krautrock tune that not only brings acts like Can or Grobschnitt to mind but also Ween. 'Mutant' is one of my favorites here, a mid-tempo but highly danceable blend of soundscapes and Herbaliser drums, including a psychedelic guitar solo. 'Flight 19' is another favorite, slow, gloomy, alienating and hypnotic as hell. That being said, there is something ritual, something shamanic about the vocals on this one.
'Beekeeper' takes us back to that psychedelic Beatles sound and seems to borrow a few guitar licks from the country scene while 'Man On Fire' delves deep into the world of new wave and, again, krautrock. Closer 'Tantrum' finishes the whole thing in style, perhaps a bit more electronic and danceable sounding than the other tracks. But rest assured, dear reader, you can dance and groove on this whole album and I suggest you start doing in right now...
Well, I'll do this one for the nookie, while I follow the leader towards my last resort with a bullet in my head, watching the bodies hit the floor because in the end, I'm a bit down with the sickness. Yes, my friends, it's nu-metal time, or rapcore, if you prefer that term. Or did you think this style of music was dead and buried by now? Like I mentioned a few times already, musical styles don't die easily and as far as nu-metal is concerned, there's a new rising star.
Their name is Keychain, they hail from Canada and they have enough energy to electrify a small city. This ep should be their breakthrough since they have everything a nu-metal band needs. Rap, screams, crushing guitars and an immersive tempo, it's all here. Opener and single 'Prime Time' is a world class song and a potential super hit. I reaches the same quality as the smashers in the genre, making me actually a bit weary about the rest of the songs.
Why? Well, we've seen this before. A band has one or a few smash hits on an album and the rest sinks into an unvaried and tasteless mush. Keychain seems to circumnavigate that trap with the up-tempo and highly danceable 'Breaking Out', something between Korn and P.O.D. perhaps. 'Take Back Time', 'God Mode' and 'Payload' are vintage rap-rock songs, reminding me a bit of Rage Against The Machine meets Disturbed.
In all, this definitely is an excellent business card for Keychain to break through in the world of nu-metal but it also causes a bit of a problem. After this, they will have to start working on a full-length, videos and a world-tour. They'll have to be strong, resourceful and inventive to keep things interesting for the fans. After all, nu-metal is quite a confined genre and very few bands have what it takes to last. Keychain have the quality, that's for sure. Now let's hope they also have the perseverance...
gothic metal / black metal / death metal
Nope, this is not a split album. This is a collaborative ep with four brand new songs written by both bands and two cover songs. Both bands have been around for quite some time. Horror metal act Cadaveria since 2001 and their thrashing colleagues from Necrodeath formed in way back 1984. I'm not exactly sure about how exactly this cooperation started but I have to say that I'm quite pleased with the result.
The ep opens with 'Mater Tenebrarum' which serves both as an intro and as first stab of fierce black metal. Immediately I'm being dragged back into the awesome days of the nineties when acts like Cradle Of Filth, Therion, Dimmu Borgir, Samael and The Kovenant were climbing on the main stages of many metal festivals. Throughout the other songs, I'm often reminded of Cradle Of Filth, certainly in my personal favorite 'Dominion of Pain', a well-varied piece of gothic black metal.
There is plenty of variation to be found on this effort, tempos often change, there's screams and blissful female vocals, there are avant-gardistic opera passages, there are flashing guitar solos and there are loads of immersive headbanging passages. There is doom, there is death metal, there is thrash metal, there is black metal and each of them completely reeks of the gloomy nineties. And then there is the strange tribute to Type O Negative ('Christian Woman') and a great cover for The Beatles' 'Helter Skelter'.
So yeah, I think this is quite an interesting teaser, certainly for those who are a bit nostalgic for those dark and extreme metal sounds from the early days. I sure hope this thing will be followed by a full-length in the near future, and perhaps even a tour. I'm sure I will see a lot of familiar faces from back in the day...
post black metal
New Bermuda is a 2015 album released by ANTI- record label, the third full-length by Californian neo-black metal act Deafheaven.
Well, Deafheaven certainly is a complex case in the metal music scenario nowadays. Confusing a lot of people about what they really are, I think it is correct to say what album reviewer Anthony Fantano, from The Needle Drop, expressed about them, when he used the word “amalgamation” to describe Deafheaven, which is correct to say, given the fact that they certainly are a mixture of different musical genres, with an innovative and different proposal of artistry, at the level of their musical boundaries, creating a very peculiar style, that they certainly could call their own.
Being something like an atmospheric melodic black metal band with a shoegaze element, intertwined with acoustic passages, sometimes infused in an anachronistic post-rock element, Deafheaven is quite an exciting musical group, with a very different approach to the metal genre as a whole, although they certainly maintain almost intact the basic precepts of black metal, at the same time. At least, in the deepest core of their songs.
With only five songs (Brought to the Water, Luna, Baby Blue, Come Back, Gifts for the Earth), all of them eight to ten minutes long, these tracks in New Bermuda have conspicuous interludes, that not always feet perfectly into the heavy atmospheric element of the songs, becoming a little imbalanced and disparate in certain parts. For example, in the middle of the blast beats of the second track, you are enjoying the tough road of the heavy sound, when suddenly you are disturbed by a disrupted calmness, similar to a baby lullaby, that softens even more, as the song finishes. Although their experimental nature is more or less inspiring, they certainly have a problem to feet nicely the most incongruent parts of their music.
These five songs are constructed under the same basic musical elements, with little variations: a heavy sound typical of black metal, pervaded with the serenity of dark, melancholic and melodic passages, which sometimes have the distinction to flirt too dangerously with pop music. Lyrically, they don’t feet traditional black metal as well, since they don’t came near close to the topics familiar to the genre, such as Satanism, anti-religious sentiment, or paganism. This, in my opinion, is also another strong point in their behalf, since they are a band attached to a very particular sense of originality.
Finally, New Bermuda makes a fine album, although hardly could be considered a remarkable one. Nonetheless, it is attracting positive reviews, and certainly will help spread the notoriety the band had conquered in recent years. I give to it three stars and a half, since in my opinion, deserves no more than this, but certainly, not less.
ambient / post-rock / drone
A few weeks ago, two months maybe, I was going through my collection of Belgian ambient and drone artists. Seeing the albums by acts like Fear Falls Burning, Premonition Factory, Stratosphere and Syndrome made me wonder about the latter. I really loved his previous album, 'Now And Forever', which contained one long track, seemingly divided into a few different passages. With the addition of deep spoken word this act started walking a new path in the drone-scene. Today, the new album arrived at the Merchants Of Air headquarters and I could not wait to listen.
Syndrome is Mathieu Vandekerckhove, who is also known for his work in bands like Amenra, Kingdom and Sembler Deah. While those acts usually are loud, harsh and bombastic, this solo-project is an introspective journey, calm, meditative and gloomy. Again, this album contains one huge track, divided into several parts. It opens with percussion and soon after the song turns into a mild but cinematic post-rock anthem which grows and expands. From then on, the different parts show all the different elements to make this a masterpiece, from minimalist drones to layers of ambient soundscapes to dark folk melodies to post-rock passages. And again, those awesome vocals are present.
The album shows the evolution of this project, which started on the previous album and evolves into a new highlight on 'Forever And A Day'. Obviously, this album comes highly recommended if you have either his previous album or anything from Aidan Baker, Dirk Serries or any of drone-masters in your collection. In a scene that mildly evolves, this is a landmark album you should not ignore.