Can there be beauty in suffering? Listening to the last record of the Swedish band The Moth Gatherer, one can say that yes, this is possible. The songs of their new album, named Esoteric Oppression, convey a sense of impotence, of discouragement, of broken dreams, but they are so poetical and emotional that you feel like you never have enough. This is one of those records that arrive at the end too quickly and you feel like this journey shall be done again, and again.
By the way, it’s not by chance that these are the main feeling that I’ve got from their music because actually the band was created with the exact purpose of translating into music the desperation and the sadness that everybody feels in front of an important loss.
The Moth Gatherer was founded in Stockholm in 2008 by Victor Wegeborn and Alex Stjernfeldt. They started The Moth Gatherer as a sort of therapy, a way to deal with the loss of people they loved and the hole it left behind. The Moth Gatherer was a way for Alex and Victor to move on.
About the name ”The Moth Gatherer” Alex commented in an interview: ”We went through some personal tragedies and felt like we were lost in darkness and we fumbled towards a source of light, just like moths. So the name The Moth Gatherer felt kind of fitting for us.”
From the band’s Facebook page
Beyond the emotional aspect, the element which impressed me the most inEsoteric Oppression is the sense of musicality and fuidity that emerge from the songs. The album shows a fairly impressive melodic sensibility, and the band has achieved with the years the ability to re-manipulate the constituting building blocks of sludge and post-metal to produce something special, and original, even without having introduced nothing really new.
This is really one of those rare and exceptional cases in which a specific kind of music becomes really the way by which a band communicates emotions and inner feelings. Many groups, on the other hand, aim to play a given genre of music according to some stylistic dictates, but, in the end, they end up composing pieces that can be stylistically impeccable, but that are often cold and unattractive.
Musically speaking, the sound of the band is basically post-metal with many and relevant influences from doom and sludge. One of the more characteristic elements of the band’s style is the recourse to electronic sounds and drones, which are so beautifully balanced with the rest of the music that they enrich the overall atmospheres without taking away the attention of the listeners from the melodic development. As I already said, however, it’s not the introduction of new sounds or other kinds of innovations wich makes the music of Esoteric Oppression so nice, but rather it’s the perfect way they have put all the elements together. This is first-class post-metal. And one of the best works I’ve heard in recent times.
Another intriguing element of the LP is the contrast between the elegance of the sounds and the abrasive voice of Victor Wegeborn, which provides the album with a further enhancement in that sense of oppression that I mentioned before.
I really loved this album since the first played it in my stereo. I really recommend it to the wider family of lovers of good music, well beyond the perimeters of metal.
My overall rating of the LP is 8.5/10. It’s hard to say which are the best songs of the LP since I really liked all of them. If I should in any case give a special recommendation, I would mention the opening and closing tracks of the LP: The Drone Kingdom and Phosporescent Blight.
Esoteric Oppression is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.
The Moth Gatherer are now featured in many playlists of those I’m curating on Spotify: TOTAL SLUDGE (the best and latest sludge metal songs), THE POST METAL RADAR (the best of post metal in 2019), and the succesfull playlist SLOWLY (the best of modern sludge, doom and post metal).
Post Metal, Shoegaze, Post Black, are all genres of music where the risk that the form overcomes the substance is extremely high. And when I initially approached Astronoid‘s self-titled new LP I thought this was the case. The album in fact starts with a couple of songs which do little more than showcasing all the standard catalogue of sounds, effects and progressions that one expects from this type of music, but with average results.
Fortunately, going forward on the LP we come across a number of pieces that are definitely more inspired and, to some extent, original. Songs like Lost and Water, just to mention a few examples, are able to combine the typical crescendos and the layered structures of post metal with melodies and atmospheres which eventually transmit stronger emotions.
However, the overall quality of the album is affected by the presence of a number of weaker tracks and in the end the LP is not as memorable as it could have been if all the songs were at the same level of the best ones.
Astronoid is an American post-metal band which started in 2012 as just a studio project formed by vocalist and guitarist Brett Boland and bassist Daniel Schwartz. This project eventually expanded into a more conventional four-piece formation with the entry of drummer Matt St. Jean and guitarists Casey Aylward and Mike DeMellia (who later left the band). Since their early steps, the band were attracted by the sounds of shoegaze and the architectures of post-metal, arriving to consolidate a personal style of music for which they also coined a specific term, Dream Thrash, which, however, I personally consider rather insignificant. In their music, in fact, there is almost nothing of the speed, the fury and especially the irreverence of thrash metal. Rather, we find in their songs an appreciable research for sonic elegance and expressive intensity.
Astronoid is the band’s third LP. Boland and his bandmates made an impressive effort to build up another collection of complex and articulated songs. The result, however, seems to me less exciting and impressive of what I heard in their previous works, and this is mostly because the melodies, and the songwriting in general, appear less inspired and immediate. My overall rating is 6/10.
Highlights: Lost and Water.
The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.
When rock bands decide to deal with instrumental music, they must show a special talent to make all songs equally intriguing and also to provide the listener with something interesting to hear from the first to the last track of the LP.
But when there is a band which manages to achieve the above, we may enjoy some of the most deep and exciting experiences in music: the pleasure to immerse ourselves into a world of sounds and harmony, without the centralizing and sometimes distracting presence of any singer.
This year proved to be relatively interesting for instrumental music and I’m presenting here four great albums that, with their natural differences, constitute the best examples of modern instrumental post rock and post metal. Enjoy!
Wang Wen, “Invisible City”
Wang Wen, from China, is not a newcomer in the rock scene. They have released many LPs since their formation in 2002 and they toured extensively in many Countries, often sharing the stage with the same legends of rock that they were – more or less consciously – imitating.
Invisible City is their seventh LP. The album is extremely intriguing and although it basically reproduces without any particular innovation a style of post-rock that was already affirmed by other bands in the past decades (like Mogwai), the LP still offers a valid selection of excellent instrumental songs. Perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the album is its capacity to provide different levels of listening: you can focus on the single track and appreciate all the details and nuances that are part of it, but you can also let this music play in the background while you’re busy with something else.
Wang Wen’s songs are delicate and profound at the same time, they have been composed and played to bring us a sense of serenity and peace. And this is a gift that only few albums may offer.
Invisible City is available on Bandcamp and it may also streamed through Spotify.
(Atmospheric Post Metal)
Instrumental rock is a challenging genre of music and, in general, you love it or hate it. But when you find yourself in front of such an intense and passionate work like Vortex, which is the last album by Toundra, even the most skeptical could be captured and impressed by the quality of the music composed and performed by this Spanish band.
Ther new record, which is the fifth of a solid and interesting discography, develops over long and articulated infrastructures of sounds and it’s full of atmospheric sections, changes of rhytms, along with many other elements that keep your attention awake, something which is not trivial when there is no voice to guide you along the music.
But what does makes this record special? Well, it’s basically the talent that these guys show on every song of the album when it’s time to create stunning cinematic passages and breathtaking “walls of sound”. There are passages in their songs when the band manages to capture completely the listener’s attention: whatever you are doing while listening to Vortex, there will be many of these moment where the music gets you away from the real world and you’ll find yourself projected into dark and gloomy caverns, or bright landscapes of light… at least until the sonic tension will be dissolved in a moment of relative tranquility and you will be again in condition to focus on your routines. Believe me, this is a really strong record from a band which has not yet achieved the fame they deserve.
Post metal is definitely not a style of music where it’s easy for the bands to reach an audience wider than the customary fans of the genre, especially when the a group at some point of their career makes the radical choice to deal exclusively with instrumental music. Long Distance Calling, from Germany, won’t be the ones who will change this situation but at least, within the relatively exclusive family of instrumental post metal bands, they are among those who have decided to make their music gradually more accessible to a wider public, whilst maintaining a good balance between experimentation and enjoyability. Regarding the use of the voice, it must be said that for a certain period of time the band has also included a singer in the line-up; in their last album, however, they returned to the original structure without a vocalist.
Boundless, the new album from Long Distance Calling, has the merit of starting with a trio of sensational songs which have the effect of leaving you breathless. Their music embeds impressive power but contained in a frame of beauty and delicacy, creating an atmosphere of continuous suspense in preparation for those sonic explosions that inevitably and periodically arrive to shake up the songs. This doesn’t seem any big difference from the the typical canons of post metal, and in fact the structure of the songs doesn’t deviate too much from the norm. What’s absolutely different in Boundless is the incredible smoothness that we have between the various sections of each songs and also the beauty of the melodies and the riffs that we find in the music, which is of first quality.
On September 2017, to be precise, American band Night Verses announced that vocalist Douglas Robinson had left the formation. But instead of starting the research for a new singer, one who could demonstrate to able to adapt to the particular and eclectic style of the group, the remaining three members established that they would continue their activity as an instrumental trio, without any singer. They were in fact convinced that their music could speak even without words, and based upon the quality of their most recent release it’s possible to say that the band reached their goal. Moreover, the transition from a conventional post-hardcore quartet to a trio of progressive and post metal artists has taken place in an absolutely natural way, and the results of such evolution go far beyond what we could imagine at the moment of the announcement of the new album.
Listening to Night Verses’ new LP, named From the Gallery of Sleep, it’s basically like being in a position to appreciate a landscape without any single element that captures all of your attention: you can enjoy all the individual details of the scene, the chromatic differences, the nuances, and in addition every time you go back to the same spot you may enjoy a different experience from the one you had before. And now that we’re approaching the end of 2018 we can say that From the Gallery of Sleep is really one of the most beautiful records of instrumental music that has been released in the recent years. What is certain, however, as something that we perceive as early as the first minutes of listening, is how
The genres-bending music style that is intepreted by Night Verses in their new album may thus appear – at first sight – as the same mix of progressive rock and post-metal that the band consolidated and refined since their debut LP, six years ago. The characteristic elements of their sound are all present on the new album: the rapid palm-muting sweeps and the heavy textures of sounds created by guitarist Nick DePirro, the incredible polyrhythmic structures – sometimes at the limit of the human immagination – created by the virtuoso drummer Aric Improta, and the muscular and hypnotic basslines fired relentlessy by Reilly Herrera. But what makes it all unique and special is the fluidity through which all of these elements blend together.
From the Gallery of Sleep is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.
Sumac is slduge/post-rock supergroup featuring a trio of phenomenal artists: Brian Cook, bass player with Russian Circles, Aaron Turner, guitarist and singer of Isis, and Nick Yacyshyn, the drummer of crust-punk band Baptists. Formed in 2014, the band declared from the very beginning that one of their main objectives was to play the hardest and heaviest music that could be ever conceived. Today, after three LPs, one EP and another couple of collateral publications, the band has for sure consolidated its position in the world of extreme metal. But to tell the truth, their approach is so unconventional and creative that their style goes well beyond the mere expression of absolute heaviness. Listening to Sumac, however, is not just a walk under the sun.
Let’t consider their latest album, Love in Shadow. 66 minutes of total lenght, four tracks, each one without any hint of a basic structure to guide the listener. We may start listening to a rhythmic section punctuated by heavy chords, which then becomes an hurricane of sounds and distortions with the three artists that seem to play ignoring each other, until we arrive to a more “post-rock” atmospheric moment where all the noise stops and distant echoes of guitar color the scene, and then again a loop of heavy bass and drums, and then again free improvisation, and a final blast of heavyness with all the three instruments playing in unison. In short, it’s not the album that you can put in the music player just to have some nice background, and even the diehard fans of sludge and post-rock could have some issue in getting into it.
On the other hand there is really a huge amount of material and ideas in these four songs, another band could have developed with it an entire discography. For those wishing to approach the album without being permanently damaged, I suggest to start from the third track, Arcing Silver, which is the shortest (only 12 minutes) and – to some extent – the most “normal” song of the album, enriched by interesting references to the works of industrial metal giants such as Godflesh.
Love in Shadow is available on Bandcamp and can be streamed also from Spotify.
Highligths: Arcing Silver and the final track Ecstasy of Unbecoming.
It was a long time since we were waiting for the release of a new Thou album, but we certainly cannot complain of having spent the last few months with nothing new to hear from them. Only in 2018, in fact, the metal band from Louisiana has made available three different EPs (!). These interim publications haveprepared us for the arrival of their fifth and new full-lenght record, Magus, which comes four years after their much celebrated Heathen, an album that helped the band to consolidate their status of “titans of sludge”.
Albums like Magus make us think about the very meaning of extreme metal. What’s the ultimate goal of this type of music? Relief? Liberation? Pleasure? The primordial feeling that you get as soon as the record starts is something close to a sonic punishment: monolithic sequences of distorted guitars slap you with imperturbable repetitiveness, and your feel like you’re crushed between walls of impenetrable sounds. But once you start to get a little confidence with this new musical dimension (and this can happen relatively quickly or after a certain number of listens, depending on how much you are already accustomed to this genre of music), every time you’re in the center of this dense and boiling stream of heaviness you understand that your heart now pulsates at the same incessant rhythm of music, and at this point everything is clear: anger and despair are materialized in front of you in the form of those obsessive, nasty and apparently chaotic riffs that only bands like Thou are able to conceive. Clearly this is not music for distraction. Even the fans of sludge and doom cannot afford to put this record in the background and do something else. You must enter the tide, and be carried away.
The overarching musical concept on which Magus is built may be summarized as a special version of post-black metal played with the typical rough sounds of sludge. The songs of the album are all characterized by thick atmospheres, abrasive lyrics, and megalithic and obsessively slow riffs. From a stylistic point of view, Magus moves definitely away from the roadmap that was somehow outlined with the recent EPs. The intriguing (and surprising) influences from dark folk and alternative-rock that we appreciated in Inconsolable and Rhea Sylvia, in particular, are almost completely absent from Magus, which has been clearly refocused on the most heavy and powerful aspects of the band’s sound. I’ve been partially disappointed by that: I was curious to see how the recent excursions of the band outside the conventional borders of sludge & doom could further evolve in the following publications of the band. On the other hand, however, the stylistic coherence and the cohesion of Magus are impressive and the emotional impact which is generated by the new songs is something really unique in the metal scene.
One of my favorite songs of the album is definitely Transcending Dualities. The first comment that was posted on the Yotube page of this song says: “I tried playing this on my way to work, but it was so heavy it crushed my car”.
Sometimes life puts you in front of crucial decisions and the way you respond is going to influence the rest of your days. With the necessary differences, sometimes even in the evolution of a musical band, musicians are confronted with choices and crossroads, and the way in which they decide to proceed will have an influence on the future production. On last summer (it was early September 2017, to be precise), American post-rock band Night Verses announced the departure of vocalist Douglas Robinson from their ranks. But instead of starting the research for a new singer, one who could demonstrate to able to adapt to the particyular style of the group, the other three founding members established at that point to continue their activity as an instrumental trio, without vocalists. By the way, Nick DePirro, Reilly Herrera and Aric Improta were already playing as an instrumental act the day when Douglas Robinson saw them playing live and expressed the interest to join the band as vocalist. It was 2012, and the story of Night Verses was started. Now, almost six years after that day, the band releases their third LP, From the Gallery of Sleep, and they’re back as the origin: a trio of skilled musicians that don’t need anything more than their instruments to create magic atmospheres and engaging progressive songs.
These three guys believe that their music may speak even without words, and I’m here today to say that it’s absolutely true. It’s basically like being in a position to appreciate a landscape without any single element that captures all of your attention: you can enjoy all the individual details of the scene, the chromatic differences, the nuances, and each time you go back to the same spot you may enjoy a different experience from that you had before.
Like every records of instrumental music, it takes a special talent to make all songs equally interesting and also for providing the listener with something interesting to hear from the first to the last track of the LP. Evdidently these three guys from Los Angeles have everything which is necessary to achieve this goal, and as a matter of fact each one of the the thirteen tracks of From the Gallery of Sleep has something unique and particuar. And presumably the fact of being once again on the front line, without the centralizing figure of a singer. gave each of the three musicians new stimuli to go even further in their search for new inspirations and emotions to share with us.
Maybe it’s too early to say it and we’ll have to come back to this statement in a few months, but this is probably one of the most beautiful records of instrumental music that has been released in recent years. What is certain, however, as something that we perceive as early as the first minutes of listening, is how the transition from a conventional post-rock quartet to a trio of progressive instrumental music has taken place in an absolutely natural way, and the results of such evolution go far beyond what we could imagine at the moment of the announcement of the new album.
From a musical point of view, the genres-bending music style that is intepreted by Night Verses in their new album is – at first sight – the same mix of progressive rock and post-metal that the band consolidated and refined since their debut LP six years ago. The characteristic elements of their sound are all present on the new album: the rapid palm-muting sweeps and the deep and heavy textures of sound created by guitarist Nick DePirro, the incredible polyrhythmic structures – sometimes at the limit of the human immagination – created by the virtuoso drummer Aric Improta, and the muscular and hypnotic basslines fired relentlessy by Reilly Herrera. But what makes it all unique and special is the fluidity through which all of these elements blend together. The skills and special techniques of the three musicians are evident and are undeniably part of the value of the album, but the virtuosistic pieces are almost in all passages at the total service of music. You also perceive a sense of naturalness that is also due to the valuable choice (which is definitely not common for this type of music) to avoid any backing tracks or extra instruments to be put on the album in post production. Also the electronic inserts, as we learn from some interviews they made in recent times, are manually triggered as they play their instruments.
As a last comment, From the Gallery of Sleep has that special feature to be fascinating and enjoyable both from a technical and spiritual point of view, something that’s quite unique in these modern days. Whether you listen to it following the intricate lines that are drawn by the individual instruments (the technical approach), or you forget about the single instruments and decide to feel the songs a single sound streams (the spiritual approach), the experience you get is equally engaging. In a certain way it is almost like listening to the inventions in three or four voices by Johann Sebastian Bach: one can focus on the single voices and enjoy how them follow each other across each song, or rather enjoy the harmony that is generated by the ensemble. The comparison may seem a bit extreme, but for lovers of modern progressive music this is in any case a record which is destined to leave a fairly deep mark in the years to come.
This year we are witnessing a phenomenon that, at this point, goes far beyond the pure coincidence or fortuity: there are four relatively young metal formations, all coming from the same geographic area, which have imposed themselves with their new albums among the best formations of doom metal, worldwide. Let’s find out together in this article who are these formations and let’s listen to their fantastic music.
Sinistro, from Portugal, have appeared into the doom metal scene in 2012 with their self-titled debut album, and they arrived this year to third LP of their discography, Sangue Cassia. Their new work is an album for those who have time. Time for long songs, time for repeated listens, time to get rid of all the distractions and be carried away by the incredible music composed by the band. And because of the above, this album is absolutely out of context compared to our days, when most people want simple and short songs to be heard in the background while chatting or driving.
From a musical point of view, Sangue Cassia is an hybrid album which results quite difficult to tag and catalogate into a single genre. Let me define this as a variant of the classic doom-metal that incorporates heavy influences from post metal and some slight elements from sludge. One of the main features of Sinistro, and perhaps the most brilliant element of their music, is undoubtedly the splendid voice of Patrícia Andrade. Her vocal lines are the instrument through which the songs of this album rise from normal doom metal tracks to something deeper, and special. At times it seems that all the music composed and played by the group was made exclusively to be the soundscape over which the singer could release her charismatic charge and free her splendid voice.
Grajo is a psychedelic doom band from Cordoba, in Spain, which is active since a few years and that have published in 2018 their first full lenght record, Slowgod II. Comparing the new album with the previous works from the band it’s possible to recognize how they’re trying to make their music relatively more accessible and, as such, potentially capable to hit a wider audience. The debut LP, however, shows that this has been achieved without compromises in quality and inspiration.
Grajo plays a doomish version of stoner rock that manages to move with great ease between trippy moments and more abrasive sections. The LP consists of 6 tracks, all of them interesting and deep, with a couple of peaks which elevate the album among the best things we heard so far in 2018. One of the most interesting characteristic of the music from Grajo is the capacity of these musicians to build up breathtaking atmospheres and to insert so many interesting and varied elements in their songs that, in the end, the experience of listening to the album becomes a very pleasant journey with many stages. It’s easy to recognized the great effort that these guys from Córdoba have put into the realization of this work: the songs are never imprecise or approximate, and the band really managed to balance the multiple influences from which they draw, without ever losing the direction they have given to their music.
Thanks to one of those fortuitous circumstances through which we sometimes discover small niche groups, a few weeks ago I came across the new work of the Italian group Messa, which has released an extremely interesting album called Feast for Water. The band plays an intriguing blend of genres that they define “Scarlet Doom” and which merges basically the sounds of stoner metal with the style and themes of doom. The recipe is further enriched with nice inserts of avant-garde and sonorities of the 70’s, and the final product is then completed with the beautiful voice of the female singer Sara.
What is really fascinating about this album is the global sense of elegance that permeates the entire work: nothing is trivial, exaggerated or rough. Every sound is cured and studied in a meticulous manner and especially in the slowest and atmospheric pieces it seems to be listening to the sound of a jazz enemble rather than your typical doom metal band. One thing that maybe is lacking in the album is the presence of solid and memorable melodies that could remain impressed in our musical memory for a little longer. In some parts of the LP, in particular, it seems that style and elegance take all the attention of the line-up, but the band is young and there is still much room for improvement.
Mística is a relatively new doom band from Spain which released their first demo Embrio I on January 2017 and exactly on year after they released their first full-lenght LP, Embrio II.
The duo of musicians which play in the band show in this album a great capacity to enrich their particular version of doom by drawing on many other metal genres, but without alterating too much the essence of their music, which remains characterized by slower tempos and thick atmospheres. The level of quality of this production is good and there are a few particularly engaging and emotionally impressive tracks.
If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse. ― Anthon St. Maarten, Divine Living: The Essential Guide To Your True Destiny
Enjoy this mixtape that I prepared with 4 songs from best doom and post metal albums that were released so far in 2018. Featuring Mistica, Grajo, Agrimonia and Long Distance Calling.
Compared to last year, the first part of 2018 has been extremely interesting for metal music and we actually had the opportunity to appreciate many different sub-genres. In particular, as you will see from this first edition of the TOP TEN METAL IN 2018, there have been many groups that managed to win our interest through refined, experimental and sophisticated styles of music.
Before starting with the chart, I’ll go with the usual recommendation for those of you who landed here via a search engine: please check if this is the most recent edition of the chart, you can easily browse the most recent publications in the metalsection of the blog. This list is the first one released for 2018 and it refers to the LPs released in the first 45 days of the year. Enjoy!
#1) VARG UTAN FLOCK by Shining
(Experimental Black Metal, SWEDEN)
VARG UTAN FLOK is the new album by Shining, from Sweden, which is one of the most regular and longeve bands in black metal. This work presents almost the same winning formula of their previous albums: an interesting version of depressive and experimental black metal which often incorporates many elements from thrash and, less frequently, other intriguing inserts from jazz and rock. You can read the full review of this album from here.
#2) SLOWGOD II by Grajo
(Psychedelic Doom Metal, SPAIN)
SLOWGOD II is the debut full-lenght album by Grajo, from Spain. The band plays a doomish version of stoner rock that manages to move with great ease between trippy moments and more abrasive sections. The LP consists of 6 tracks, all of them interesting and deep, with a couple of peaks which elevate the album among the best things we heard so far in 2018. I’ve been particularly impressed by Malstrøm, the epic sludge song which closes the album and that features 8 minutes of pure atmospheric beauty. Full review is available here.
#3) UNSUNG PROPHETS AND DEAD MESSIAHS by Orphaned Land
(Oriental Metal, ISRAEL)
UNSUNG PROPHETS & DEAD MESSIAHS is the last album by Orphaned Land, the Israeli metal band that many define as “the pioneers of oriental metal”. The LP is one of the best things they released in the recent past and it shows an impressive stylistic consistency across the entire album. The LP features the usual fusion between different genres and cultures, and we can appreciate how the specific elements of Middle Eastern music are guiding the development of the song, both in the riffing sections and the choruses. Full review is available here.
#4) BOUNDLESS by Long Distance Calling
(Post Metal, GERMANY)
BOUNDLESS, the new album from German post metal quartet Long Distance Calling, offers a sensational sequence of epic instrumental songs filled with suspence and sonic explosions. What differentiates this music from your typical post metal album is the incredible smoothness between the various stages of the development of the songs and also the beauty of the melodies and the riffs that we find, of first quality. Full review is available here.
#5) SANGUE CASSIA by Sinistro
(Post / Doom Metal, PORTUGAL)
SANGUE CASSIA, by Portuguese band Sinistro, is an album for those who have time. Time for long songs, time for repeated listens, time to get rid of distractions and be carried away by the incredible music played by this group. The members of the band use to describe their music as “cinematic”. And in fact they managed to create here extremely evocative atmospheres and suggestive soundscapes, on top of which we have one of the most beautiful voices of the current days. Full review is available here.
#6) ASTRALA by Unshine
(Gothic Metal, FINLAND)
ASTRALA is the new album by Unshine, a gothic metal band from Finland that is active since 2001 and which arrived, with this new release, to the fourth entry in their interesting discography. The band declares to play “druid metal”, but in the end their songs bring inside all the main elements of gothic music, in particular for what concerns the melanchonic, soft and feminine characters that we may appreciate in their music.
#7) KHRAM by Arkona
(Black / Folk Metal, RUSSIA)
KHRAM is the new full-lenght entry in the long discography of Arkona, a Moscow-based black metal formation, The album is a concentrate of obscure atmospheres and pagan music, with songs that manage to leave a mark of gloom in the listener’s soul. The LP features long and articulated tracks such as Tseluya zhizn’, which is an epic song of more than seventeen minutes of dark beauty.
#8) ARSON by Harakiri for the Sky
(Post Black Metal, AUSTRIA)
ARSON is the fourth album from Harakiri for the Sky, which is a very interesting band from Austria. They initially started as a studio project with only two members playing all the instruments but eventually become a complete line-up ready for the stage. The new album shows a few important elements of innovation in their sound, in particular for what concerns an increased recourse to melodic and clean sections.
#9) FOOTPRINTS IN THE ROCK by Trespass
(Heavy Metal, ENGLAND)
FOOTPRINTS IN THE ROCK is the most recent release by Trespass, a band born and established during the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and which went through a number of changes in the line-up and also a few periods of stand-by. The music played in the current days by Trespass is a blend of classic heavy metal with many rock influences. The band features three guitarists and the resulting effect is an hurricane of rock which releases healty doses of electrical energy, engaging riffs and tight rhythms.
#10) DEFY by Of Mice & Man
DEFY is the new album from the American metalcore band Of Mice And Men and it concludes a challenging period that the band suffered since a couple of years ago when the band had to face the departure from the formation of their charismatic lead singer, Austin Carlile, who was also one of the two founders of the group back in 2009. The remaing members decided to move on and this LP sees the band performing in the form of quartet, with the tasks of “unclean” vocalist taken in charge by bassist Aaron Pauley.
Since you are here, you may be interested in:
METAL MILITIA, THE MIXTAPE WITH THE BEST OF NEW METAL which features many of the bands that are part of this chart, together with other groups that released their latest LPs in the early part of 2018.
POST, a breathtaking compilation with the best of Post Metal and Post Rock, featuring – among the others – Harakiri for the Sky and Sinistro, two bands that were included in the current Top Ten for metal.
Post metal is definitely not a style of music where it’s easy for the bands to reach an audience wider than the customary fans of the genre, especially when the a group at some point of their career makes the radical choice to deal exclusively with instrumental music. Long Distance Calling, from Germany, won’t be the ones who can change this situation but among the bands that today are dedicated to post metal are definitely in the club of those who have taken the path that sees their music gradually become more accessible, modern and with an excellent balance between experimentation and pleasantness. Regarding the use of the voice, it must be said that for a certain period of time the band has also included a singer in their line-up, but in their last album these guys from Münster have returned to the original structure without a vocalist.
Boundless, the new album from Long Distance Calling, has the merit of starting with a trio of sensational songs which have the effect of leaving you breathless. This is like pure power contained in a frame of beauty and delicacy, creating an atmosphere of continuous suspense in preparation for the sonic explosions that inevitably arrive. It might seem just the typical description of post metal, and in fact the structure of the tracks doesn’t deviate too much from the center of gravity of the typical songs produced within genre. What is absolutely different, in this case, is the incredible smoothness between the various stages of the development of the songs and also the beauty of the melodies and the riffs that we find, of first quality.
As the album proceeds, the initial tension and also the beauty of the musical lines tend to fade, leaving the stage to songs which are still interesting and pleasant to hear but maybe less unique and particular than those that open the LP. In any case, by combining the two parts of the record, we still get a really good work, which certainly stands out among the post metal productions of the last period.
Boundless is the sixth album in the discography of the band. With respect to theit previous works we have the return of the formation to a fully instrumental line-up. From a musical point of view this change has also marked a clear abandonment of those most commercial elements that we had heard in the period in which they shared the stage with singer Petter Carlsen, and in this case the change is to the benefit of the final result. As mentioned at the beginning of the review, the German band doesn’t disdain excursions to mainstream sounds, but the particularity of Boundless is that the above is achieved without affecting too much the very essence of their music.
Boundless was released on early February 2018, the date changes according to the Country.
Since you’re here, you may be interested to:
POST, the breathtaking compilation with the best of Post Metal and Post Rock, featuring Long Distance Calling but also many other recent releases by Agrimonia, Harakiri for the Sky, Sinistro, and many others.
There have been many experts and music lovers who attempted to find a precise and exact description of Post Rock and Post Metal. But whatever the verbal expression used to characterize these musical genres, there is always a new record that destroys these artificial definitions, and in the end the fluid and spontaneous world of music transcends again the labels we try to glue to every band or every song.
Nowadays, Post-Rock, Post-Metal, Post-Hard-Core have become common sub genres which label everything that does not really fit into the scheme, because most of us love order and clearly defined schemes, in which one can sort newly discovered bands, in order to find them again (Collapse Under the Empire)
Wikipedia uses these definitions for the two genres:
Post-rock is a form of experimental rock characterized by use of rock instruments primarily to explore timbre and textures rather than song structure, chords or riffs. Post-rock bands typically unify rock instrumentation with electronics, and are often instrumental. Although firmly rooted in the indie or underground scene of the 1980s and early 1990s, post-rock’s style often bears little resemblance musically to that of contemporary indie rock, departing from rock conventions. Elements may be borrowed from genres such as ambient music, krautrock, IDM, jazz, minimalist classical, and dub reggae.
Post-metal is a style of music that is rooted in heavy metal but explores approaches beyond the genre’s conventions. Associated with and inspired by post-rock and post-hardcore, the genre employs the darkness and intensity of extreme metal but emphasizes atmosphere, emotion, and even “revelation”, drawing on a wide range of sources including ambient, noise, psychedelic, progressive, and classical music to develop an expansive but introspective sound. Post-metal songs are typically long, with loose and layered structures that discard the verse–chorus form in favor of crescendos and repeating themes. The sound centres on guitars and drums; any vocals are usually screamed or growled and resemble an additional instrument.
Given the premise I made at the beginning of the article, I won’t try to give a precise formalization for Post Rock and Post Metal. The definitions that I have provided above, on the other hand, already provide the basic idea of what we’re talking about and at the same time they make us understand how the “post” is really a concept rather than a specific category of music. From my point of view, the usage of “post” represents the fact that the artists have tried to overcome and surpass the typical elements of the starting musical genre, be it rock or metal, and they ended up playing a new style of music, evenutally an hybrid genre, which results, case by case, the most fitting with the specific emotions that they wanted to convey.
Despite the evident challenges of finding a good and clear characterization for Post Rock and Post Metal, it must be said that this type of music, when played by skilled and innovative musicians, can produce the most beautiful results – among every other musical genre – simply because of the expressive possibilities that are made available to the artists when these they decide to abandon the conventional rules of a single musical genre.
And in order to celebrate the beauty of this musical style, I decided to start collecting all the best Post Metal and Post Rock songs in a single playlist. POST, the new Playlist that’s available on Spotify, presents the most emotional and breathtaking songs released in the past months. The list is uploaded every time a new masterpiece is published, but the selection to enter the playlist is really though. At the present time, the playlist features recent songs released by Agrimonia, Harakiri For The Sky, Kauan, Sinistro, and many other masters of “post” music.
Enjoy the playlist, follow it, and come back periodically to check for new updates. You will never find here a song that is trivial, dull, without inspiration. Guaranteed by S.B.G.
The first album of the year to be included in the club of the Best New Music comes from Portugal, and it’s a it is a deep, complex and absolutely unique work of its kind.
Sangue Cassia, by the Portuguese Sinistro, is an album for those who have time. Time for long songs, time for repeated listens, time to get rid of all the distractions and be carried away by the incredible music of this group. And because of the above, this album is absolutely out of context compared to our days, when most people want simple and short songs to be heard in the background while chatting or driving.
From a musical point of view, Sangue Cassia is a hybrid album and it results quite difficult to tag and catalogate into a single genre. Let me define this as a variant of the classic post-metal that incorporates heavy influences from doom and some slight elements from sludge. One of the main features of Sinistro, and perhaps the most brilliant element of their music, is undoubtedly the splendid voice of Patrícia Andrade. Her vocal lines are the instrument through which the songs of this album (and the previous ones, to tell the truth) rise from normal post-metal tracks to something deeper, and special. At times it seems that all the music composed and played by the group was made exclusively to be the soundscape over which the singer could release her charismatic charge and free her splendid voice. As we will highlight in the following, however, in some situations this is also one of the limits of the album.
As it is easy to imagine looking to the artwork of the LP, the atmospheres in the songs in Sangue Cassia are dark and slightly disturbing, but in this case without reaching the excess. There is in fact almost always a light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope, and this makes the songs even more interesting to hear.
One of the few problems of the album, in my opinion, lies in the fact that almost all the songs manage to build an atmosphere that evolves and grows according to the typical dynamics of post-metal, but instead of exploding in a climax it remains there suspended in a delicate and unstable point of equilibrium that never turns into something definitive. More than a precise stylistic choice, it’s more like the band decided for some reason not to travel that last mile that would make their songs definitely memorable.
The members of the Sinistro use to describe their music as “cinematic”. And in fact they can create extremely evocative atmospheres and suggestive soundscapes. If only something more was happening in these scenes, then we would have had an absolute masterpiece in our hands.
The release date for Sangue Cassia is January 5th, 2018.
Love and Pain is a painting by Edvard Munch, It has also been called Vampire, though not by Munch. Munch painted six different versions of the subject in the period 1893–95. The painting shows a woman with long flame-red hair kissing a man on the neck, as the couple embrace. Although others have seen in it “a man locked in a vampire’s tortured embrace – her molten-red hair running along his soft bare skin,” Munch himself always claimed it showed nothing more than “just a woman kissing a man on the neck”. (from Wikipedia)
Inspired by a number of very good albums that were released in the last few months, I’m dedicating this post to a musical genre that despite being included into the “Extreme Metal” category (and, as such, followed by a tinier category of listeners with respect to other mainstream genres), nonetheless is capable to offer some of the most passionate and exciting songs across the entire musical panorama.
Within Progressive Black Metal I include a family of styles of music which span from Blackgaze to Progressive Metal. Within this this fairly wide grouping of genres, let’s see which have been the most interesting releases of the year, ranked from the best. These are six great albums from both relatively new bands and also legendary and well-renowned metal groups.
I spoke about the great work of Finnish Antipope in a recent post of the blog. The new album from these nordic metallers, named Denial/Survival, is in fact gifted by an huge amount of creativity and innovation.
Ten years ago the band started as a conventional black metal group. With each following release, however, they have incorporated many additional styles of music including progressive metal, gothic, doom and also an hint of industrial. With their forth full-lenght work the band has reached a point where an overwhelming number of different influences and techniques have been merged together creating something really new and quite unique in today’s music scene.
Enslaved, the legendary black metal band from Norway, arrived this year to the impressive result of releasing the fourteenth album of a long and influential career. Their biography says that at the turn of the new century the band started to insert incrementally progressive elements inside their original style, and the last album is a further confirmation of the approach they matured in the last decade.
The new album, named E, mixes some typical black metal moments with surprisingly softer and post-rock oriented passages. It’s clear that the two minds behind the band, Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjørnson, who are also the only remaining member of the original formation, are still driven by a huge creative fire and also by an evident desire to continue experimenting with sounds and grooves.
Ne Obliviscaris, Urn
Despite representing maybe a little step back from their absolutely beautiful first two albums, the last work from the Australian metal sextet Ne Obliviscaris still represents on of the best progressive metal releases of the year. Urn, their third and last full lenght releases, combines the incredible technical expertise that the guys form Melbourne had already shown in their previous works with an indisputable ability to develop enjoyable melodic lines that are never trivial or boring to hear.
With respect to the previous LPs of the band, the new album loses a bit of freshness and immediacy, but also testifies the effort made to introduce some new elements to evolve their sounds. We have here relatively darker and more introspective atmospheres, still supported by excellent songwriting skills.
Sun of the Sleepless, To The Elements
Behind the moniker Sun of the Sleepless we have the one-man experimenta metal project crated as back as 1999 by the talented German musician and singer Ulf Theodor Schwadorf. After a first phase in which he produced a bunch of EPs and a split album with German black metal band Nachtmahr, the project was basically put on hold for more than 10 years, actually until this new release of 2017, To The Elements.
The album shows how confident the German musician has become during the last decade in merging together black metal elements with ambient-like soundscapes and progressive rock influences. The combination of so different elements seems in fact absolutely natural, almost spontaneous, and this attests the impressive songwriting skills that Ulf Theodor Schwador has matured through the many experiences in which he’s been involved in the long time between the two phases of the Sun of the Sleepless project.
Violet Cold, Anomie
Violet Cold is an experimental one-man project crated by Emin Guliyev from Baku, in Azerbaijan, and Anomie is his fifth studio album released so far. His music has been described as depressive black metal, blackgaze or post black metal. But as sometimes happens, these kinds of tags and labels don’t explain completely the beauty – I would say the musical elegance – that lies behind the wall of sounds and the articulated melodies whic we find dispersed into such a beautiful record.
The six tracks of the album compose a long and mysterious musical journey into atmospheric and dark territories, with a few bright glows which every now and then illuminate the scene. Guliyev really managed to put together a refreshing and original sound which stands out from the mass of similar albums.
Farsot is a German metal band which released this year their third full-length release, Fail·Lure, which arrives on the shelves almost exactly ten years after their debut work. Despite being active for so many years, I have to admit that this group is one of those discoveries I did in the recent times thanks to the automatic playback function of Youtube.
Among the six albums included in this list, Fail·Lure is undoubtedly the one where the black metal’s sonorities are more present. Nonetheless, the songs of this album contain many elements of evolution from simple and straight black metal style, such as groovy riffs interleaved with disturbing atmospheric moments.
Post Self is the eighteth album by Godflesh, the experimental project by Justin Broadrick and G. C. Green, two artists who have achieved with their long and influential career the status of legends of industrial metal. After dismanting the duo in 2002, Broadrick and Green reunited in 2009 and produced since then two more albums under the moniker of Godflesh: the vigorous 2012’s A World Lit Only by Fire and, now, the beautiful follow up Post Self.
Post Self has been released on 17th November 2017 and contains 10 original tracks.
From a musical point of view the album manages to blend the immediate, brutal and inspired approach of the early years of the band with a sort of new electronic sensibility which in my opinion represents a definite improvement with respect to the previous works.
The fans of the band will find many citations and influences from the earlier works of this group. Those who approach only today with the music of Godflesh, be prepared to start a journey into the most punishing, depressive but beautiful industrial sounds you have ever heard in music.
The harsh intensity of Godflesh‘s sound is coupled with themes that deal with anxiety, depression, fear and mortality, as well as paternal and maternal relationships, which add a whole other layer to the album’s dark atmosphere. Even though Post Self isn’t exactly what was expected, it’s a masterful release from two musicians who seem to be incapable of creating anything short of exquisite (Exclaim)
Selected Songs: Post Self, Parasite, Be God.
The album can be streamed and acquired on bandcamp.