Intro: Not long ago, we published a massive amount of brieviews without giving a damn about genre restrictions. As you may already know, everything is welcome on Merchants Of Air and we do our very best to recommend some awesome stuff. That set of brieviews gained us a lot of positive reactions, more than enough to continue that tradition. So today I'd like to present another heap of brieview, ranging from all kinds of metal to classical music but also some dance floor fillers and straight in-your-face rock 'n roll. Enjoy...
rock / hard rock
Named after a street gang in the movie 'The Warriors (1979)', Spanish four-piece Lizzies come up with some good old fashioned rock 'n roll. These women have borrowed to in-your-face attitude of acts like The Ramones and combine it with vintage hard rock and heavy metal. The result is a heavy rocking album with strong songs, at times reminding me of early Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. The whole thing seems to go back to the early eighties, when metal was still in its childhood. My favorite track is the fierce 'Speed On The Road' but pretty much every song on this debut can easily get a party started. I hope we'll be hearing a lot from these ladies in the near future.
Skognatt - Landscape of Ice
atmospheric black metal
Well, the album cover and the title pretty much say all you need to know about this two-track ep by German act Skognatt. This is a cold and harsh but highly atmospheric piece of depressive black metal, loaded with keyboard arrangements and folk elements. Both songs are slow and come with a decent amount of variation. Here and there I'm reminded of acts like Dimmu Borgir, Vinterriket, Summoning and Nortt, and even Samael comes to mind once in awhile. The lack of blast beats doesn't make these tracks any less intense. On the contrary, this is utter despair, bleakness and suicidal depression at its best. I know, that doesn't sound very positive, but then again, a black metal album is never supposed to sound positive.
hard rock / southern rock / stoner rock / grunge
Hailing from the deepest ranches of southern Finland, the rockers of Rattleplague come up with a pretty nasty ep. They blend southern rock with grunge and heavy party rock 'n roll, resulting in a drunken orgy of riffs, drums and harsh, mean vocals. The songs remind me of something between Alice In Chains, Motorhead and White Zombie, which obviously means "party time". Besides, for some reason I think Slayer has been on of Rattleplagues influences, but I could be wrong about that. Anyway, 'Drain' is a brilliant song, 'Parasite Brothel' drags Kuyss into the world of metal and 'Hollywood Diabolical' is what happens when Max Cavalera would join Motley Crue. You WILL party!!!
Whoever claims that Canadians are too nice, should listen to this murderous gem by technical specialists The Apex. With brutal yet technical death metal, incorporating elements from mathcore, this three track is a massive assault on your mental health. Bits of Meshuggah, flashes of Dillinger Escape Plan and hints of Fear Factory drag you down into a dark hole where they beat you senseless with unexpected hooks, skullgrinding riffs and whatnot. According to the biography, the vocalist suffers from a form of Neurogenic Stammering, which effects his speech so he's unable to carry on a normal conversation, but he can growl and scream like the best metal vocalist out there.
From one of the most dissonant and eerie quarters of the black metal scene, comes the new ep by Polish avant-garde act Misanthropic Rage. One massive, seventeen minutes lasting epos and two deranged and brutal piece of extreme metal, that's what you get on this little gem. The immense title track is a stunning and highly varied piece of music, one you easily lose yourself in if you're into the weird extremes. The other two aren't any less impressive by the way, and -obviously- they are excellent headbanging material. I hope this ep will be followed by a full-length and a tour in the near future because this act definitely is something today's black metal scene needs.
sludge / doom
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the heaviest thing to ever be weighed as of 2015 was the Revolving Service Structure of launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Well, it's 2016 now and New Haven, CT residents Sea Of Bones are up for the challenge to create something heavier. Their contribution to this split is intensely dark, atmospheric, monolithic, fuzz-out and pitch black. Their colleagues from Ramlord smash another piece of thick sonic filth in our faces, which is equally impressive. Both tracks last about ten minutes, plenty of time to roll over their listener with a repetitive steamroller. If you like heavy, you must pre-order this split now!
sludge / doom / black metal
UK residents Kalloused call their music "noise-metal" and quite frankly, I think that's right on the spot. The stuff on this ep somewhat sounds like the metal version of harsh, repetitive noise, driving on a torpid tempo and thick, skull bashing riffs. Above all of that, the vocalist screams his lungs out in perfect blackened noise tradition. There are hints of hardcore but the majority of this album is intense, heavy and immersive sludge doom which is perfectly capable of driving a select audience into a pitch black state of trance. Perhaps one day I can be one of those audience members, but for now, I'll just use this ep as the ultimate soundtrack for all my aggressive activities...
The more things change, the more they stay the same. That certainly counts for this haunting compilation from Belgian blackened horde Ordo Omegae Absolutae. Although quite varied and including some dark ambient elements, the music on this album is fierce and often depressive old school black metal, driven by the collected negativity of the band members. The overall atmosphere is darker than you can possibly imagine. At times the somewhat musical black metal is overruled by uncontrollable noise. On other occasions, folky passages have been interlaced with the sheer brutality of the rest of the music. This is impressive stuff which every black metal fan needs to check out.
death metal / grindcore
Greek duo Hostage Of Fate doesn't seem to care about genres. In fact, their main influences are the extreme bands from the eighties and nineties, regardless whether they're death metal, thrash metal, speed metal or hardcore. All they want to do, is make aggressive and pissed-off music and in that they certainly succeeded. This album is loaded with metallic chaos, brutal vocals, spine shattering blast beats and brainfucking riffs. Yet, the whole thing feels extremely experimental, which is quite impressive if you think about how minimalistic the music really is. It's definitely something different, different from pretty much every death metal album I've heard...
electronic / industrial
Speaking about different albums, this ep certainly is something else. No guitars, just synths, drum machines and at times the guiding voice of Sasha Andrès (from the band Heliogabale). However, that does not mean that this is a soft piece of music, on the contrary. The songs on this album come very close to eighties electronic new wave acts like Suicide, The Klinik, Neon Judgement, Scorn.... Yet, it also has a very modern edge. 'Monster5', for example, is a brilliant approach to dubstep, brilliant enough to not be actual dubstep. There's also a bit of trip-hop, some ambient and some otherworldly melodies with church organs. What else could you need? This is an awesome ep.
ambient / classical
Sometimes we all need a little break, and I have the perfect ep for that. Tambour is Simon P. Castonguay, a pianist and composer from Montreal. On this ep, he treats us to some gentle tunes of sweet and brisk modern classical music. Aided by a string quartet, his piano melodies sound melancholic yet playful, like a safe haven in a violent world. If you are into the music of people like Olafur Arnalds, Sebastian Plano or Bersarin Quartett, you should definitely check out this little gem. The somewhat jazzy 'Sleepers' is my favorite track on this ep, probably because of the beautiful sound of the clarinet. 'Valse N.1' also brings a nostalgic smile to my face. Beautiful stuff...
electro / industrial
Time to get your dancing shoes and join me on the dark dance floor where French act Haxis invites us to shake our butts to his highly enjoyable fusion of synthpop and industrial. The songs on this ep drive on solid beats, electronic soundscapes and grinding distorted guitars. At times the whole thing sounds like Pet Shop Boys meets Die Krupps meets Daft Punk meets VNV Nation meets Project Pitchfork. The amount of energy coming off tracks like 'City Lights' ,'Glide' or 'Just Mad' is astounding and it's almost impossible to sit still on this stuff. I think I'm going to keep an eye on this act because I feel like this unique blend has a lot of potential to grow into something massive...
Techno isn't something we usually write about on Merchants Of Air, but this ep is a smasher. Ok, I admit, I was already interested when I read that it will be released on Speedy J's label, someone who's musical evolution saved the face of dance music for me. But I must say, opening track 'Reign Of Terror' is a brilliant blend of atmospheric techno , psytrance and eerie acid while other tracks remind me of acts like Self-transforming Machine Elves, Xingu Hill and Unit Moebius. Yeah, I might not know that much about techno, but I do know what I like and this, this I do like, even though things can get a bit too repetitive for me at times. The ep closes with the great break-beat track 'Breaking Visions', my favorite I think
post rock / ambient
This American one-man act has a name that describes the songs on this album quite well. Mostly driving on programmed, electronic drums, these cinematic (mostly) instrumental songs gently fill the room. I can hear influences from ambient, from post-rock and from classical music. If you use your imagination, you can indeed see the programmed angels dancing in slow motion while you're drifting through the clouds on a warm night. I know, that might sound a bit too poetic but this simply is a beautiful album, blending Boards Of Canada with Explosions In The Sky and Plaid with Godspeed You Black Emperor. As often, I'd like to see this live one day, but for now, I'll just enjoy these delightful tunes a few times more...
electronic / alternative dance
Of course this is Belgian, the land of Vive La Fête, Nid & Sancy, Praga Khan, Lords Of Acid, Front 242...Rumours are a band from Ghent, armed with a bunch of electronics and a massive knowledge about electronic dance music. The majority of this album is dance floor filling techno with a gritty, raunchy edge, perfectly suited for fans of The Knife or Liars. However, this acts throws in some cinematic elements as well as some blasts of chaotic industrial. You know, Atari Teenage Riot meets Björk or Zola Jesus meets Ambassador21, something like that. Oh well, just close your eyes and let the beats pummel you into a coma. I know I will...