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: “Kosmik” by Violet Cold

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Emin Guliyev, who’s the artist behind the project Violet Cold, in addition to being gifted with extraordinary creativity and musical sensibility, is also an extremely prolific composer, at the point that honestly, it’s becoming every year more difficult to stay up to date with all of his releases. Active since 2013, he published three EPs in 2014, a compilation and a debut LP in 2015, two other full-length albums in 2016, another in 2017 (the impressive and acclaimed Anomie), a triple-LP in 2018 and now – that’s only February – we have his first LP for 2019, the brand new Kosmik. Dear Emin, I had the chance to spend a few days in your beautiful Country (Azerbaijan), and also in your city (Baku). This is one of that rare places in the World where we can find a beautiful environment that’s deeply rooted into an ancient and varied culture, with many different influences that have found a magical point of balance. Now, my question is: how much time do you spend in your recording studio? Why don’t you try to stay a little more outside and enjoy all the beauty that is around you?

I’m joking, it’s clear. But to some extent, I really feel that last year, for example, I couldn’t enjoy and appreciate the Sommermorgen trilogy with the patience and dedication that it should have required. Also because Guliyev’s music is far from being easy to listen, or superficial. First of all, because in Violet Cold we have together lots of many different components, and from extremely distant genres spanning from jazz to post-rock, and including ambient, noise rock and also depressive black metal. Secondly, because the songs are all made to be appreciated with the maximum possible concentration. The experience of listening to Violet Cold with the lights off, ideally with high-quality headphones and the music at a sufficiently high volume, remains one of the most beautiful you may have with music. These aren’t songs made to be played with the car stereo while driving in the traffic. Listening to Violet Cold demands for special environmental conditions, and enough time to dedicate to music and nothing else.

Everything I said in general for Violet Cold, it applies also to Kosmik. It is a profound and immersive record, full of many interesting elements to discover. For his new work, Guliyev has returned to insert large quantities of black metal into the music, with the album easily classifiable as post-black metal or blackgaze. There is however a persistent elegance in all the tracks of the album since the brutal and dark aspects of black metal have been mostly filtered out. What we hear in the songs of Kosmik is basically a number of overlapping layers of distortions and tremolos, on top of which Guliyev introduces melodic atmospheres and far away screams. The result is a contrast between different opposites which creates a feeling of suspension, and transcendence. At times we hear voices reciting verses in a foreign language (presumably Azerbaijani), creating an intriguing and very particular effect.

Differently from the typical structure of a post-metal song, where there is a crescendo of intensity that culminates in an explosion of noises and energy, in the songs of Kosmik the sonic attack is immediate. And as we advance into each song, the walls of sounds slowly turn into something more melodic and atmospheric, leaving at the end of each piece a sense of positivity that is, in the end, one of the main notes that emerge from the album. A further confirmation of this aspect is the fact that 36 minutes journey of Kosmim culminates with a beautiful and dreamy reinterpretation of the famous Aria on the fourth string by J. S. Bach, which transfers the feeling that the cosmic voyage through the chaos and the noise of the outer world is over, and we have reached a dimension of pure light and peace.

In summary, Kosmic is definitely another valuable entry in an impressive discography from one of the most prolific authors of recent times. The style of music is extremely particular and it has the potential to attract lovers of at least two different genres of music (ambient and black), but also to disappoint both. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very satisfied with this new record from Violet Cold, and my overall rating is 7/10.

My favourite songs are Ultraviolet and Black Sun.

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

Best of Metal in 2017 – Issue #03 – The Top Ten Albums (April 2017)

The third update of our selection of the best metal album of the year sees quite a good number of new entries, actually 6 albums among the 10 works which are included in this chart (previous selection is available here). As a matter of fact the last two months have seen a few very good releases and we can say that the average quality of the metal music in 2017 is not too bad.

This is the current chart with the Top 10 Metal Albums of 2017, a dedicated playlist will follow shortly, as usual. Enjoy!

#1) For the Fallen by Memoriam (NEW)

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The current chart of the best metal of 2017 is dominated  by Memoriam, the band that here in this blog won the award of the best metal album of the month in March 2017. Memoriam is the new Death Metal band consistings of two former members of Bolt Thrower, i.e. singer Karl Willets and the band’s original drummer Andy Whale, joined by former Benediction’s Frank Healy on bass and Cerebral Fix’s Scott Fairfax on guitar. Leveraging their substantial and proud Death Metal heritage, last year the four metal heroes started playing together in a number of festivals and eventually released in 2017 their debut album, For the Fallen. The album pays an homage to Martin “Kiddie” Kearns, who was the Bolt Thrower’s longtime drummer and who died unexpectedly in 2015 precisely at the time when the British legenday band was going to commence a tour in Australia.

The immediate feeling you get listening to this fantastic album is how everything in the disc sounds so familiar, in the good sense of the term. It really seems that time has rewound back and now the the sadness we experienced for the loss of one of the most influential bands of the metal scene can be replaced by the knowledge that nothing is lost and the class and charisma of these musicians were not dissolved with the years.


#2) Nightmare Logic by Power Trip (↑)

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Despite the fact that a number of new albums entered into this metal chart, Nightmare Logic by Power Trip managed to improve its position in the list. This is because repeated listenings of the songs of this record have highlighted further positive aspects of the album, which thus consolidates its position among the best releases of the year for the metal category.

Power Trip are a metal band from Texas that plays an energetic and violent blend  of thrash and hardcore. They aren’t around since many years but have already accumulated considerable experience playing live together with some big names like Anthrax, Lamb of God and Napalm Death. Nigthmare Logic is their second full-lenght album and it’s one of the best thrash metal releases of the last few years: fast, energetic, and somehow innovative with a lot of inserts from other metal sub-genres, such as hardcore and industrial.


#3) Of Chaos And Carnal Pleasures by The Project Hate MCMXCIX (↓)


The Project Hate MCMXCIX is an experimental and death metal project created by the elusive and mysterious Swedish musician kwown as Lord K Philipson. There is no actual band Beyond Mr. Philipson, since different and variegated friends and musicians are brought in with each and every album. In this respect, The Project Hate is more a studio entity than a real musical group.

Since the beginning of this project, which dates back to the year 2000, 11 albums have been released. The last one, called Of Chaos And Carnal Pleasures, was published in the early months of 2017 and it quickly reached the highest positions of our personal metal chart (actually it achieved the top place in the previous issue of Guerino’s Top Ten metal list). The albums contains a few long and articulated progressive death metal tracks, an irregular and dynamic sequence of musical segments which alternate violent moments with melodic and expressive pieces.


#4) Heartless Oppressor by Primal Attack (↓)

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We found at the 4th place of the chart one of the best surprises of the year, a band who topped our metal selection in the very first months of the year (and which here we awarded for the Best Thrash Metal Album in February 2017). They are Primal Attack, they come from Portugal, and they released a beautiful album called Heartless Oppressor which although strongly inspired from the works of Pantera, Hatebreed and Machine Head, it contains so many original features that establishes itself as a unique piece in the modern metal scene.

Heartless Oppressor is a strongly energetic disc, at times brutal, fully packed with catching riffs and melodies. These guys from Portugal must have some special gift if they managed in less than five years and only two albums to achieve such a maturity in balancing different metal influences, spanning from groove to death metal. This is a disc that we definitely recommend and we expect big things in their future.

Some of the songs of the album they have become a regular presence of our metal playlist


#5) Obituary by Obituary (NEW)

Ester Segarra

Obituary, the Death Metal veterans from Florida have come back with another record, the tenth studio album of their long career, named as the band. Obituary was one of ours most anticipated and in general terms the album didn’t failed our expectations, although we found a little less freshness and innovation than their previous work, i.e. the 2014’s critically acclaimed Inked In Blood.

From a musical point of view the new album confirms the path that the the legendary band has embarked in the last ten years, which is a slow but regular transition from the complex structures of theirs first works towards a more “thrashy” and approachable metal style. Their sound, however, is still heavy, obscure and violent. The band has developed and consolidated through the years a unique and easy recognizable signature musical style, which contributed to elevate them as one of the best metal outfits across all metal sub-genres.

What may be missing in this album to bring it at same level of the classical masterpieces of the band is some really memorable track, that sort of song that gets into your head and struggles to get out. The average level of the tracks of the album, however, is still superlative and absolutely above the typical production we hear from the younger metal groups that enter today into the metal panorama.


#6) Anomie by Violet Cold (↓)

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Violet Cold is an experimental one-man project from Baku, Azerbaijan, and Anomie is the fifth studio released by the the band. The music by Violet Cold 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 fill 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 scenery. Emin Guliyev, the man behind Violet Cold, really managed to put together a refreshing and original sound which stands out from the mass. The album  is esciting and we will be following with great attention the future releases from this project.


#7) Conformicide by Havok (NEW)

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American thrash-metal masters Havok released their fourth studio disc, Conformicide, which interrupts the four year break since their beautiful 2013’s Unnatural Selection, which has been so far the longest gap between two band’s albums. As almost usual in the band, there is a new change in the lineup, this time is bassist Mike Leon who left the band and was replaced by former Cephalic Carnage’s Nick Schendzielos. Despite these changes, however, the band led by David Sanchez managed to put together a solid collection of enjoyable and aggressive old-school thrash songs.

By listening to their interesting discography it’s evidend how both their sound and songwriting skills improved a lot with the time, and one could say that they spent the last years by tuning and further enhancing their music. The overall level of the album is in fact excellent, maybe this can considered their best work so far. There are a couple of songs which stand out for their brilliance, and it’s no by chance that they are now a stable presence in our metal playlists.

Another important feature of this group is the technical expertise of musicians. The four guys show an unquestionable talent in playing their instruments. The newcomer in the group, in particular, we’re talking of Mr. Schendzielos on bass, impressed us for his furious but precise surgeon-like style. Have a look at the video below to figure out what I’m talking about.

#8) The Diseased Heart Of Society by Solitary (NEW)

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Solitary is an English thrash metal band who is formally active since 20 years but who had published their latest album about ten years ago. It is no coincidence, then, that among all the albums that we have heard in the last few months, The Diseased Heart Of Society, which is their recent release, is the one more closely related to the sounds and the style of the past. But if you love this kind of music – as we do – you will for sure appreciate this record, which provides a very good collection of beautiful thrash songs, which benefit of skilled musicians and an excellent production.

The music from solitary is inspired by the masters of thrash – Testament and Slayer above all – but the four guys from Lancashire show however a personal musical style which evolves from their models. The result is definitely positive; we hope at this point that it won’t be necessary to wait another ten years before the next record.


#9) Bloodlust by Body Count (NEW)

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Bloodlust is the new album “dropped” by the American metal band Body Count, which was founded almost 30 years ago by legendary rapper and actor Ice-T with guitarist Ernie C. A lot of time has passed since their hated and controversial song “Cop Killer”, which was eventually removed from their first album and caused at the end the terminatio of their contract with Warner Bros. And in fact today their approach is certainly less offensive than their origins. It still remains, however, the urgency to convey a heartfelt message against the misery of some elements of modern society. In this sense, the music in all Body Count’s albums has been always the medium through which transmit their polemical and angry vision of life, and in this respect – with this specific kinds of band – it wouldn’t make so much sense to judge the disc by analyzing only the musical part of the work – which is not too bad however!

From a musical point of view, infact, we’re in front of a simple but effective groove metal, sometimes blended with “thrashy”  and hardcore moments. The combination of this direct music and Ice-T lyrics is definitely successful in transmitting the right amount of charge and energy. A few metal stars play in some of the songs of the album, including Dave Mustaine and Max Cavalera, and there is also a nice cover of Slayer’s Raining Blood that we enjoyed a lot.


#10) Blood – Fury – Domination  by Arthemis (NEW)

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The current edition of the Top TenChart of metal closes with a particular entry, which is not only the unique “Heavy Metal” album of the list, but also one of the first groups from Italy that we had the pleasure to hear in the last period. As these guys describe themselves, the style of Arthemis is a combination of the dark side of heavy metal with thrash-oriented guitar riffs, fast solos and catchy vocals. Arthemis have released 8 full-length albums Worldwide, whith Blood – Fury – Domination being the last one of their rich discography.

Black Rose, the best of Death Metal in the first quarter of 2017

Edited: I’ve uploaded a new mixtape which includes other songs from a number of Death Metal albums that weren’t yet published when this post was first released on the blog. Find it from the home page!

A collection of the best Death Metal songs released in the first quarter of 2017, selected and mixed by Guerino. This playlist features tracks by Memoriam (awarded here for the best metal album of March 2017), Evocation, Obituary, King of Asgard and Violet Cold (one of the revelations of this year, from Baku in Azerbaijan).