Quick Review: “New Moon” by Superlynx

Sometimes it’s surprising to see how we can obtain something new and intriguing by just altering a few proportions within a recipe that’s so well consolidated and standardised like the psychedelic stoner doom. In the case of the Norwegian band called Superlynx, it was sufficient to insert a singsong female voice and to increase slightly the amount of the stoner component, to get a result that’s as delicate as it’s dreamy and fascinating.

New Moon is the second full-length from the band, and it arrives three years after their debut LP LVX. Considering that this trio was formed in 2013, we understand that this band likes taking enough time to write, refine, and improve their songs before going into the recording studio. With very good results.

I really liked this album, and I’m actually getting more and more into this music as I keep on listening to it. New Moon manages to tell about darkness and our everyday difficulties but always with a light and poetic touch. From a musical point of view, in fact, the slowness and the heaviness of doom are softened by the introduction of angelic voice and also by the psychedelic and stoner inserts.

Thematically, “New Moon” is mainly dealing with processing challenging times. But as much as the album is about darkness it is also about conquering the difficulties, and a new beginning. Getting through the darkness and holding on to what is good in this world.

From Superlynx’s Bandcamp page

This music is brilliant, and I belieive that there is still a lot of growth potential in this trio. My overall rating for the LP is 7.5/10. My favourite songs of New Moon are Breath, Hex and The Groove.

New Moon is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Songs from the LP are now featured in the playlist The PSYCHEDELIC AND STONER DOOM Radar, which collects the best song released since the beginning of the year.

Quick Review: “Hel” by Týr

In the course of the last twenty years, Faroese band Týr have gained the status of “masters of folk metal”, and many lovers of this genre of music include some of the band’s LPs among the best folk metal albums that were ever released. Even myself, who don’t belong to the family of the most diehard fans of folk metal, I’ve literally consumed some of their historical releases, especially the couple of albums that were published at the turn of the last decade (2009’s By the Light of the Northern Star and 2011’s The Lay of Thrym).

Despite the physiological ups and downs that characterize the discography of every band, especially those who’ve been playing for so long, there are – and there will always be – some special characteristics in the music of Týr that make their records so unique and enjoyable. These include the capacity to generate tangible feelings of bravery and courage, together with a “desire to fighting” that we can leverage also for our everyday battles.

Týr’s newest album, called Hel, interrupts a gap of six years from their previous LP, which is also the longest distance between two albums in their discography. That’s why all the fans of the band became immediately excited when the news of a new record started to circulate on the media.

One of the reasons for the time which passed after the previous record is that in the last years the band underwent through many important changes in the line-up, including the departure of one of the historical members of the formation. After 17 years spent with the band, in 2018 guitarist Terji Skibenæs announced his intention to quit. And because there were also a few replacements for the drummer’s seat, the result is that the new line-up of the band is for 50% different from the one which recorded the two masterpieces that I mentioned at the beginning of the article.

After so many years, it’s not easy to quantify how much a certain change of style is due to the changes in the band’s line-up rather than to a natural evolution in their musical sensibility. The fact, however, is that Týr’s new album, although still exciting and engaging, seems to have lost part of the immediacy and the facility to engage the listener which we appreciated in the band’s best works.

I consider Hel as a very good record, there is no doubt about it, and Týr confirms their status as one of the most important and valuable bands in the domain of folk and Viking metal. In this respect, all the years that were spent waiting for the new album have been rewarded by the release of one of the most engaging and solid folk metal records of the recent times. Those who have been following the band throughout their long career were probably expecting something even more brilliant, an album that could shine in the night like the “Northern Star” that the band was aiming in one of their most famous songs. But when a band is as good as Týr, it manages to excite even when it doesn’t reach the highest peaks of its production.

My overall rating for Hel is 7/10. Among the best songs of the album I can definitely mention Garmr, Far From the Worries of the World, and the two singles which anticipated the LP: Sunset Shore and Ragnars Kvæði.

Týr’s new album can be streamed from Spotify, and it’s now featured in The FOLK METAL radar, which is the playlist that collects the best songs released in 2019. Follow it, and check it periodically because it’s going to grow with time.

Quick Review: “Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso” by Neoyka

Listening to the new album released from a well-established formation is generally something nice to do: thanks to their qualities, these kinds of bands have already emerged from the mass of mediocre publications and therefore we can expect to listen to something interesting and enjoyable. But when there is a new band that arrives and impresses for originality and value, the pleasure is really incomparable with anything else. Especially because the idea of discovering good underground formations is definitely more exciting than writing a couple of paragraphs for the fifteenth disc published by a well-known group, for which there are hundreds of reviews already available on the web.

In recent times I had the pleasure to discover an interesting band arriving from Chile, called Neoyka. And it was love at first sight. I was truly excited to enjoy a fresh and lively approach to stoner music, something which emanates since the first riffs all the passion and the efforts that were spent by the band in the recording studio. These guys come from a city called “La Serena”, which stands for “A Serene City”, and perhaps it’s not a coincidence that their intriguing version of stoner rock produces such a feeling of positivity and universal energy.

Neoyka’s new album is named Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso and it follows their debut LP, named Vol. I, which was released in late December 2013. With respect to their first release, the band has now incorporated a keyboardist/synth player as a permanent member, and this gives a hint about how the group is progressively incorporating psychedelic and progressive sounds into their sound. Their latest publication, in fact, oscillates between what we could define a rather conventional stoner rock, with reminiscences from groups such as Kyuss and Fu Manchu, and a variant of that psycho-stoner that’s played today by bands like All Them Witches.

The collection of songs that we find in their new record moves with good naturalness between these two versions of stoner, and in both cases, we can appreciate a remarkable quality of songwriting together with warm and engaging sounds.

This is an album which will be appreciated by all lovers of stoner rock and stoner metal. There is no real innovation in the music of Neoyka, but they know what they do, and they do it very well. I’m going to track them with more attention from now on, there is really good potential in this band.

My overall rating for the album is 6.5/10. My favourite songs are 70 Rockas, which is a straight and simple stoner track in the style of Kyuss, Nuestra Marcha, which starts slow but then evolves into a catchy and quite original song, and the dreamy and fuzzy suite which concludes the LP, named Introspection.

Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Neoyka are now featured in DUST AND SAND, the playlist with the best of modern stoner. Check it out, listen to it and follow it, because it’s periodically updated with new songs.

Quick Review: “Vatan” by Samavayo

Even though I’m used to listening to industrial quantities of new music every week, there always comes the time when I come across to a record released by what I think to be a new band, but then, as soon as I check on google, it turns out that the formation is active for a long time. And when the music played by the band is as interesting as what I found in the new album by Samavayo, the pleasure of having finally filled a gap in your musical knowledge is combined with the regret of not having followed the musical growth of the band, which means not having enjoyed in full what they did in the past. In any case: better late than never.

Samavayo is a trio of German rockers based in Berlin. The band is active since 2000 and with their newest LP, called Vatan, they have published to date six full-length records. When approaches them for the first time (as I did) it’s fairly unlikely to guess that they come from the heart of Europe. The style played by Samavayo, in fact, is absolutely impregnated with the flavours of desert stoner and alternative metal, two kinds of music that usually accompany the production of American bands. Regardless of their Country of origin, however, what really impresses of Satamayo is that they play a kind of music that’s absolutely enjoyable and exciting to hear.

Vatan offers a sequence of truly amazing tracks that you will start to appreciate from the very first listening. From a musical point of view, their sound is basically what you would get by injecting heavy doses of fuzz and stoner into the music of Tool. This comparison is anything but risky, given the fact that really many passages that we hear in Vatan are clearly inspired from the songs of the legendary band from California, starting from the very first notes that we hear in Vatan‘s opening track Prevarication Nation.

The resemblance with Tool is more than just a hint, and this is at the same time a positive aspect of Vatan but also, in hindsight, the major limit of this record. It’s not by chance, thus, that most of the tracks that impressed me the most are those where the stoner and psychedelic influences become more strong, like for example in the title track, or the closing song Children of Kobane.

My final rating is a convinced 7/10. Favourite songs: Prevarication Nation, Sirens, the title-track Vatan, and Children of Kobane.

Samavayo’s new album is avilable on Bandcamp, and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Quick Review: “Black Blank” by Laurent Assoulen

The first time I had the pleasure to listen to the music played by French pianist Laurent Assoulen, the thing that impressed me the most was not his technique or virtuosity, but rather his clear passion for fascinating melodies, ethnic sounds and popular tunes. What he does in most of his compositions is basically to start from a beautiful and catchy motif, and then manipulate and elaborate into an intriguing Jazz piece.

Assoulen’s new album, named Black Blank, can be divided into two main groups of songs. On the one hand, we have a number of pieces that reflect the modern canons of contemporary Jazz, still with a special emphasis on melody and catchiness. These songs are all extremely sweet, serene and seem perfect to accompany many moments of our days. Someone could lack something in terms of harmonic complexity and improvisation, but this is balanced an accentuated weight of the melodic component.

The second group of songs is the one where Assoulen ventures into the field of World music, mixing the typical dynamics of Jazz with deeply suggestive ethnic sounds and melodies. These two categories of songs alternate along the LP, making the listening experience extremely dynamic and lively.

I’m giving this album a rating of 6/10. Black Blank is the perfect LP for all those moments in which we want to enjoy elegant and fascinating melodies, and leaving our mind free to travel into distant regions of the world.

My favourite songs of the LP are: Every Day is a New Life, Col Chic, Far Away and Waking up in Africa.

Black Blank can be streamed from Spotify, and a couple of songs from the LP are now featured on two of the playlists that are curated by the blog: The Voyager (special selections in World Music) and The JAZZ MUSIC Radar (the best jazz songs of 2019). Enjoy, and follow them!

Quick Review: “The Last Rain” by Cân Bardd

When an artist or a band decides to mix together different styles and influences, the result usually depends on two main factors: first, it’s necessary that the various components are well-balanced and there is not one that prevails excessively on the other; then, it’s desirable that such a combination of ingredients produces a music that’s original as it’s enjoyable and nice to hear. The Last Rain, which is the new album released by Cân Bardd, aims at blending together atmospheric black metal with folk music. And the goal is achieved with excellent results on all fronts: fluidity, balance and originality.

To make things even more amazing, we shall consider that Cân Bardd is basically a one-man-band project created by Malo Civelli, from Switzerland, and that The Last Rain is just his second LP after last year’s debut LP Nature Stays Silent. Everything suggests here that we’re in front of another creative genius of black atmospheric music and, in this respect, it’s fairly curious that this album arrives just a few weeks after we enjoyed Emin Guliyev‘s new Violet Cold LP. Civelli and Guliyev evidently share the same tastes for atmospheric and evocative music, but also a similar approach to composition and recording.

As said, Marco Civelli plays all the main instruments that we hear in his songs: guitars, bass, vocals and keyboards. Keyboards and orchestration, in particular, seem to play a fairly important role in Civelli’s music and it’s not by chance that he’s also the keyboardist of another Swiss folk metal act called Kaatarakt, which has released to date a couple of nice EPs. As we could expect, atmospheric and folk components have a prominent role in The Last Rain. In the album, there are really many long sections, and even one entire song (Fog of War), without the presence of a proper metal section. This stylistic choice creates a situation in which the artist draws fascinating and evocative musical landscapes that slowly become darker, and incrementally loaded with underlying energy and tension until the heaviest sections eventually arrive and shock the listener with dramatic power and the intrinsic sadness of black metal progressions. This process takes place with remarkable naturalness, and the softer and heavier moments alternate in an absolutely brilliant way. As a matter of fact, The Last Rain demonstrates a maturity of songwriting and also a musical sensibility that many bands reach only after decades of extensive playing, if they get it at all.

The Last Rain is an excellent new entry in that category of albums which manage to combine elegance with desperation, delicacy with heaviness, originality with enjoyability. And it’s also a work that allows us to appreciate the qualities of a promising musician, one who has managed to achieve an impressive level of maturity in the time-span of just a few years.

My overall rating for the LP is 7/10. My favourite song of the album is Celestial Horizon.

The Last Rain is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Quick Review: “When You Take Off Your Shoes”, by Nathan Shubert

The musical recipe developed by the Canadian musician Nathan Shubert is relatively simple but certainly effective. We have sketches of melancholic melodies or simple loops of notes played on a prepared piano, a background layer consisting of field recordings and other noises, and, more sporadically, delicate touches of strings and clarinet. Basically, it’s the typical structure of every modern electroacoustic song. Despite that, however, the album When You Take Off Your Shoes still manages to stand out from the mass of singles, EPs and LPs that are released on every week.

“When You Take Off Your Shoes “, album trailer

There are many different aspects that I enjoyed of this record. The first thing that impressed me has been the overall sense of delicacy and moderation that distinguishes the music composed by Shubert. There are no moments of particular tension or exciting progressions. On the contrary, the music of When You Take Off Your Shoes is always discrete, somehow peaceful, but at the same time without never becoming excessively flat or monotonous. Another good feature of the LP is that it’s possible to appreciate quite a relevant diversity among the various pieces of the album, which gives a certain dynamism to the listening experience.

From a thematic point of view, the compositions of this LP aim to represent the relationship between the universal sound of an instrument such as the piano, and the contemporary environment that surrounds it. This is the conceptual meaning of the field recordingsm, the subtle noises and the samples that we find in most of the pieces. These, to be honest, are balanced so well that they are never excessive or too much distracting.

Stylistically, Shubert’s music is clearly inspired by authors such as Nils Frahm and Chilly Gonzales, but still maintaining its own uniqueness.

My overall rating for this album is 6.5/10. This may be the perfect background for many different moments of your day: it will never require all of your attention but it will provide you with an elegant and absolutely enjoyable atmosphere.

Among the favourite songs I can mention the title track When You Take Off Your Shoes, but also A Beacon A Pulse and the delicate Lappeenranta.

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Songs from Subert’s new album are now featured in many of the playlists I’m curating on Spotify: you can find them in The ELECTROACOUSTIC Radar (best of electro-acoustic music in 2019) but also in SOUNDSCAPES (best of Ambient music) and TRANQUILLITY (the 100 best modern classical, ambient and electroacoustic songs of the last few years). Enjoy!

Quick Review: “Descent of the Serpent” by Forged in Black

The new LP released by the British formation Forged in Black shows how exciting and intriguing heavy metal music can be when the songs contain the right amount of creativity and inspiration. Descent of the Serpent, which is the second full-length record from the band, features, in fact, nothing more than the usual ingredients that we typically expect from an heavy metal album, and it has also a sound that is blatantly borrowed from legendary records like Dream Theater’s Awake. But everything is combined so well, and also accompanied by extremely engaging riffs and solos, that we are immediately captured by the music and forget all the rest.

Said in other words, so often we are looking for original and innovative songs and styles that sometimes we get surprised when we come across to an album which offers pure and simple heavy metal, but damn enjoyable to hear.

Pay attention, however, you don’t have to make the mistake of thinking that Descent of the Serpent is just a sequence of catchy riffs, nice solos and melodic choruses. Indeed, it’s impressive to see how every song of this record is absolutely rich of many details, intriguing musical ideas and nuances. Listening to the nine tracks of the album we clearly recognize how much passion and care has been dedicated by these five guys from Essex in perfecting and improving every single piece of their work. And the result is really good.

The band describes their sound as “fresh, melodic and powerful Heavy Metal where you can find classic elements from british bands like IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST or ANGEL WITCH“. I feel, however, that the riffs and the songs’ structures of Descent of the Serpent are enough articulated and powerful to appeal also to the fans of bands such as Symphony X, Royal Hunt, and the already mentioned Dream Theater .

I was positively impressed by this record, much beyond my initial expectations. My rating for the LP is 6.5/10, and my favourite songs are the first two pieces of the album (Seek No Evil and One in the Chamber) and the title-track Descent of the Serpent.

Forged in Black’s new album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Forged in Black are now featured in The PROGRESSIVE METAL Radar, which is the playlist that collects all the best progressive metal songs that have been relased in 2019. Check it out and follow it since the playlist is going to grow as soon as new good albums are released.

Quick Review: “Yn Ol I Annwyn” by Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard

Sometimes the most intriguing and beautiful things arrive completely unexpected. This was for me the case of the new LP released by Welsh metal band Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, named Yn Ol I Annwyn. This album is the third full-length record of their career and it arrives after their debut in 2015 (Noeth ac Anoeth) and a second LP in 2016 (Y Proffwyd Dwyll). Certainly, the name of the band is a bit extreme, and I can understand if someone should approach them with a good dose of scepticism. But their music, believe me, is absolutely enjoyable and valid, and it’s also full of many different elements of interest.

If you search for them on the web you’ll see that the band is typically tagged as sludge/doom. Their new record, however, basically offers a good selection of psychedelic doom songs, with very few elements of sludge. In fact, in the eight tracks of Yn Ol I Annwyn the band has softened the abrasiveness of sludge through the introduction of poetical melodies, huge doses of psychedelia, epic riffs, and the beautiful female voice of the singer Jessica Biel.

The eight songs that comprise thes album, sees the band delve deeper into their collective influences, embracing full on space rock, atmospheric film soundtracks, melancholic acoustic interludes, psychedelia, cosmic moogs and percussion, moments of introspection and light … and of course, large helpings of doom.

From the album’s Bandcamp page

The music played by Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard is heavy and slow, but thanks to the skilful balance of distorted guitars with many other different sounds it has the effect of an obsessive and hypnotizing stream of sounds rather than that of a rough and violent blow of energy. The combination of psychedelic sounds and catchy riffs that are repeated over and over until the exhaustion has really the capacity of dragging you down into hallucinated and colourful worlds: the unpronounceable Yn Ol I Annwyn becomes, in the end, a psychedelic heavy trip that eventually leaves you drained, and exhausted.

One thing which is really good of this album is the nice variety among the different tracks: we have atmospheric pieces with only voices, synths and arpeggios (no distortions, no drums), alongside with powerful and psychedelic songs, and also very long doomish tracks based on the obsessive repetition of a single epic motif.

My overall rating for the album is 7/10. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard play a very nice version of doom which is fascinating and powerful at the same time. This is a band that shall be followed with attention and curiosity because we can expect even greater things from them.

My favourite songs of the LP are Katyusha (a 13 minutes epic doom song), Fata Morgana (a delicate and soft atmospheric ballad), and The Spaceship of Ezekiel (one of the most psychedelic tracks of the album).

Yn OI I Annwyn is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard are now featured in SLOWLY, the famous playlist with the best of new sludge, doom and post-metal, but also in The PSYCHEDELIC AND STONER DOOM Radar, the playlist that’s totally dedicated to the best songs of 2019.

Quick Review: “South of Reality” by The Claypool Lennon Delirium

Those of my generation know very well the genius of Les Claypool, the fantastic American bassist and singer that became famous during the ‘90s as the leader of that crazy formation which is Primus. The golden sequence of Primus’ records that goes from their debut Frizzle Fry (1990) to the legendary Pork Soda (1993) has marked the musical development of many fans of rock music, allowing us to broaden our horizons outside the usual genres that we were used to listening on the radio and in the car stereo.

Like all good things, however, the magic of the music of Primus’ first albums began gradually to fade, and Claypool himself embarked on a parable that led him, year after year, to maintain a niche of fans which was, at least in size, decidedly different from the masses of enthusiasts who were following him in the beginning. Even for what concerns myself, I slowly began to lose track of his works, also because those few times that I approached the new publications from Primus (the last was released last year) I was quite disoriented, to use a euphemism.

Anyway, among the many projects were Les Claypool has been protagonist in the recent times, the one initiated with Sean Lennon is perhaps the one that intrigued me the most: this mixture of alternative rock, psychedelia and classic progressive rock is definitely interesting, and it also allowed Claypool to find again a fertile ground for his unique and particular style of bass.

On February 2019 the collaborative project between Lennon and Claypool named The Claypool Lennon Delirium has relased their second LP, South of Reality, which follows their debut album Monolith of Phobos (2016) and the following album of covers Lime and Limpid Green (2017).

Honestly, I found myself enjoying this album well beyond what I could expect at the beginning: Claypool’s craziness and creativity merge perfectly with Lennon’s melodic sensibility and the songs of the album result at the same time intriguing and curious as they are fresh and catchy. South of Reality is really fun to listen to, and in this respect, it reminds me, with all the due differences, of the great album that was published last year by the King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

My overall rating for the LP is 7.5/10. It’s really nice to be surprised again by an artist whom we had lost sight of. The music of South of Reality, however, is enjoyable and objectively valuable even for those who aren’t aware of all the impressive background of Les Claypool.

My favourite songs of the album are Amethyst Realm, the opening track Little Fishes, Cricket Chronicles, and the title track South of Reality.

South of Reality is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

The Claypool Lennon Delirium are now featured in YELLOW EYES, the playlist with the best of modern progressive and psychedelic rock.

Quick Review: “Ladytron” by Ladytron

I remember very well that many years ago I was definitely a fan of Ladytron’s music, but every time I checked with my acquaintances it seemed that, at least in my circle of contacts, I was the only one to know this band. This is just to say that in my opinion, these guys from Liverpool have never achieved the success and popularity that they deserved, at least outside the boundaries of the English electronic scene. As a matter of fact, their music has always been truly original and unique: not only they crafted a brilliant mix of many different styles of electronic music (electro-pop, synth-pop, EDM, darkwave) but they also managed to give to it a nice retro feeling.

Year after year, I slowly lost sight of the band and, to be honest, I was fairly surprised when I discovered that they were still active and that there was a new record on the shelves. Investigating a little deeper I realized that it was not just my fault if I lost track of Ladytron since the band had effectively entered a period of hiatus after their 2011’s album Gravity the Seducer. Their new LP, which is named after the band, basically signs their official comeback after many years of silence.

For everyone who was already a fan of Ladytron’s music, the new album doesn’t bring any dramatic change or surprise, if not perhaps for the fact that the atmospheres are, at times, a little gloomier than what we had in Gravity the Seducer. In this respect, Ladytron may appear at first sight as closer to the early works of the band rather than what they were playing before the hiatus. At the same time, however, the new songs lack the impetuousness and abrasiveness that characterized the first phase of their career. This is compensated by an increased maturity of style, and an overall sense of elegance that clearly reflects the fact that in these years the musicians have grown, not only musically.

For those who don’t know the band or missed their golden age, which for me is the period included between 2002’s Light & Magic and 2005’s Witching Hour, it’s sufficient to know that this music is absolutely different from anything you heard until today: a fascinating interpretation of electro-pop which mixes delicacy and aggression, angelic voices and engaging rhythms.

Ladytron is not the best LP of the band’s discography, but it’s still an appreciated comeback from a group of musicians who wrote an important page in the history of UK’s electronic music.

My overall rating for the LP is 7/10. In my opinion, the LP suffers the unbalance between the most beautiful songs (Deadzone, The Animals, The Island, Far From Home), and those tracks which seem less effective and particular.

Ladytron is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Songs from Ladytron are featured in ELECTRO POP (the playlist with the best electro-pop songs of the last couple of years) and also in The ELECTRONIC MUSIC Radar, which is the selection of the best electronics songs released in 2019. Enjoy!

Quick Review: “Digital Breed” by Death Above

Digital Breed, the new album by Spanish thrash band Death Above, was something that I was going to discard too quickly. When I started listening to the first track of the LP, I started to think that this was of the many records without temperament and personality. Thick but not memorable riffs, a relatively monochord voice, and speedy moments alternated by sequences of melodic solo guitar leads that have the effect of lessening the tension instead of enriching the song.

But instead, as I was going forward along the twelve tracks of Digital Breed, I started to change my mind. What I realized, in fact, is that this band from the Canary Islands, which was unknown to me before this encounter, had managed to place in their LP a number of really engaging songs, and which fully reflect the very characteristics of thrash metal: speed, aggressiveness, and even a bit of healthy irreverence. Unfortunately, these best songs are interspersed with a few less interesting moments, but this is something we can tolerate for a band that has just released the second album of their career.

From a musical point of view, the songs alternate between fast and very fast moments. There are a number of things that I really enjoyed of the LP: the rhythm section is frenetic but always precise, both the two guitars sound very compact and have a nice and enveloping sound, and in the best songs I appreciated also an intriguing mix of thrash and groove. Last, but not least, the lead guitar did an impressive job and it’s not confined to sporadic and predictable moments, but rather it’s a presence that characterizes many different moments of the song.

In summary: Digital Breed is a nice entry in the selection of the best thrash albums that we heard so far in 2019, and it further confirms the rising wave of good bands coming from the Mediterranean area.

My overall rating for the LP is 6.5/10. Favourite songs: G.R.B., No Vacancy in Hell, the final track Slaughter on October 31, and the damn fun Acoholic Bastards.

Digital Breed is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Death Above and their new LP Digital Breed are now featured in THRASH METAL FEAST, the succesfull playlist which features the best and latest thrash metal song. Check it out and follow it, it’s continuously updated.

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Quick Review: “The End” by Ordos

Back in 2017, the impressive second LP from Ordos (House of the Dead) was included here in this blog within the list of the Best Albums of the Year, across all genres of music. As I wrote at that time, I felt in love with the band and in particular with House of the Dead since the moment I started listening to the initial guitar riffs that are in that record, and the positive impression remained unchanged after many and many other listens of the entire work. This could justify the great expectations that I had for their new record, The End, which is the third LP of their career.

If their second LP was reminiscent of the ’70s and fitted with many elements from heavy rock and doom, The End further amplifies this aspect and introduces additional elements of psychedelic and occult rock. From this point of view, while it still maintains an extremely dark and gloomy sound, the music played by the Swedish band seems to have settled on the less abrasive side of stoner-doom. The melodic component, which was already a key point in their music, has acquired even greater importance, making the songs of the album gain remarkable ease of assimilation. In this regard, even the riffs seem to adopt almost all the same pattern throughout the entire record, where a chord, or a single note, is repeated obsessively, with the addition of small intervals of semi-tones in order to increase the sense of restlessness and gloom.

To give an example, the sixth track of the LP, Upsala (S:t Erik), which I presume is a cover from the first demo of the psychedelic Swedish band S:t Erik, begins with a blues and southern motif that seems to break the atmosphere of darkness and despair that characterized the earlier songs. But it takes only a minute and even this song returns to embrace the same style of the other songs, except for the sporadic return of the bluesy sounds during the chorus and the guitar solo.

Based on these stylistic choices, and because of how homogeneous and similar are the various songs of the album, The End seems to be like a single story told through one haunting introduction, 6 gloomy chapters, and one instrumental conclusion. This aspect obviously has tangible positive effects in terms of the obsessive and emotional impact of the record, but it also carries with it the limits of making the LP definitely linear, and fairly monochord. This phenomenon is further amplified by the fact that the rhythms are constantly settled on an average mid-paced beat count, and in this respect there aren’t significant variations from one song to another.

On the other hand, the sounds, the melodies and the atmospheres that these guys from Uppsala can generate with their instruments are absolutely unique, beautiful and engaging, and the fact of finding yourself entangled in a continuous and uninterrupted flow of obsessive and repetitive music is something that can be definitely rewarding. Probably the longevity of the album will be compromised by the similarity that there is between all the songs, but, at least in the short term, the effect is absolutely impressive and overwhelming.

In summary: maybe I was expecting something more remarkable from Ordos. The End is basically a new collection of songs that confirm and consolidate the style that was already introduced in their previous work, except for a certain softening of the most abrasive parts in favor of the melody. On the other hand, their music remains absolutely exciting and fascinating, and the fact of having new songs to listen to is, by itself, something that can change your day for the better. My overall rating for the LP is 7/10.

Favourite songs: The Hunter of Hades, III, and the beautiful haunting intro Exordium.

The End is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

Songs from The End have been included in some of the playlist that I’m curating on Spotify, such as SLOWLY (dedicated to stoner/doom and sludge), and THE DELICATE SOUND OF THUNDER (dedicated to the softer side of stoner music). Check these out!

Quick Review: “Wraith” by Teeth Of The Sea

When you listen to so much music every day, it’s difficult that something really manages to amaze you for its originality and its unclassifiability. But when it happens, the attention sky-rises and, in my case, I start to feel a shiver of pleasure running through my body.

In the case of Wraith, which is the new album by the experimental English band Teeth Of The Sea, the experience was even more special. The first track of the album (I’d Rather, Jack) began to attract my attention with a cool electronic baseline and, on top of that, intriguing melodies played with trumpet and various other noises that were difficult to identify. At this stage, however, everything was still quite regular.

With the second track (Hiraeth), things became more serious. The roles, in this case, were apparently reversed: the song begins with the noises and the trumpet, then we hear a simple but effective rhythm played by a warm bass, and some light electronics to complete the atmosphere. At some point, however, there is a completely out of context guitar arpeggio with a southern flavour, something that I would never have associated with this type of song but which proved to fit very well with the rest of the sounds.

At the third track (Burn of the Shieling), everything became clear: there are no rules in this LP. We have again the trumpet, but it’s dissolved into ambient soundscapes that are at the same time placid and a bit haunting. Going forward with the other tracks, it turns out that each song is really a story in itself, and this actually makes the record absolutely unclassifiable according to the standard canons: there is electronic, jazz, psychedelia, noise, and traces of metal. But all is combined in a superb way and with lots and lots of class and creativity.

Teeth of the Sea define themselves as a psychedelic trio, and no one can deny that their music represents the ideal soundtrack for hallucinatory journeys outside the physical reality. The experience, in any case, is beautiful: the trip that we can live through the music of Wraith is characterized by notes of positivity and, to some extent, of well-being.

Since their formation in 2006, London-based Teeth Of The Sea have metamorphosized into the most adventurous psychedelic rock outfit in the UK. Taking on board influences like Morricone, Eno, Delia Derbyshire, Goblin, and the Butthole Surfers , they’ve arrived at an incendiary sound that marries the aural enlightenment of an avant-garde sensibility with the reckless abandon of trashy rock & roll.

From Teeth Of The Sea’s Bandcamp page

To fully enjoy this music, however, you should find a relaxing place and listen to the album with good headphones or, more in general, any means that would allow appreciating the thousands of details that are in the LP.

Wraith is the fifth record of the London formation and is certainly among the bests of their career. My judgment is very positive, I assign to the record a convinced 7/10.

My favourite songs are: Her Wraith, Hiraeth and Gladiators Ready.

Wraith is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed from Spotify.

Quick Review: “The Door to Doom” by Candlemass

All over the world, troops of fans of epic doom have been waiting many years for this moment, and finally, the wait is over. After almost seven years the historic Swedish band Candlemass has published their new album and since the moment it was announced many months ago, many clues made us presume the will of the band to claim a return to the origins. First of all the name of the LP: The Door to Doom, which brings to mind the first and unforgettable album of the band: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, an album so important in the history of this genre that even the name of “doom metal” is somehow linked to this publication. Secondly, the announced return of the original singer of the band, Johan Längqvist, who had participated in the recording of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus but soon after left the group. After 32 years, we find Längqvist back in the band’s line-up, and expectations of fans and critics were absolutely sky-high.

Beyond ambitions and expectations of the fans, however, it seems to me that The Door to Doom is substantially more a continuation of the path that Candlemass embarked in the last decade than a true return to the origins. And this is not necessarily a piece of bad news.

In the last few albums that were published by Candlemass I appreciated an interesting fusion between doom and psychedelic rock, which is fully confirmed in the new work. We’re light years away from the majesty and the occult charm of the band’s early records but, in this sense, The Door to Doom appears more genuine than it would have been if the band had forced a style of metal that today, after three decades of activity, evidently is no longer what they feel to play. Furthermore, Johan Längqvist’s voice fits very well with the current sound of the band and the singer’s performance in the new LP is certainly valid and intriguing.

The real problem, to be honest, is that leaving aside the discussions about how the new album is connected with the origins of the band, what many were expecting from The Door to Doom was a collection of engaging and memorable songs. The sound is intriguing, the performance of the musicians impeccable, the production crystal clear, but the riffs struggle to impress. And, in the end, this is quite a serious problem for an LP of epic doom metal.

The Door to Doom contains many elements of interest and, frankly speaking, you can’t imagine a legendary band like Candlemass to produce something flat of insignificant. For the diehard fans of epic doom, however, the LP flows away without leaving the mark that we expected.

My overall rating for the LP is 6.5/10. Favourite songs: Death’s Wheel, Astrolus – the Great Octopus, House of Doom and Black Trinity.

The Door to Doom can be streamed from Spotify and it’s now featured in The DOOM METAL Radar, the playlist which collects all the best songs released since the beginning of the year.