After taking a brief hiatus a few years ago, Katatonia has returned with their signature melancholic Progressive/Alternative Rock and Metal mix with “City Burials”. As one of their most accessible and darker releases in recent years, this album delivers eleven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of highly emotional music with the band’s signature sound. If you are into the mellower side of things, this release is the perfect backdrop for a quiet evening of quarantine.
The release opens with the moody vibes of “Heart Set to Divide” and “Behind the Blood”, both tracks nicely frame Jonas Renkse emotive vocals with nice atmospherics and heavy guitars. More experimental elements are used on songs like “Lacque” and “Vanishers”, which show an interesting electronic undertone, similar to what Anathema tried on their last release. Other tracks just deliver the oozing melancholy achieved by lush vocal melodies and weeping guitars like “Rein”.
One of the very few advantages of the COVID-19 pandemic is that we can now work from home and listen to music non-stop. As one of the more interesting releases to creep into our inbox, today we have Forlesen and their two song, 36 minute release “Hierophant Violent”. Featuring members of Lotus Thief, Kayo Dot, Botanist, Maudlin of the Well this band creates a transcendental musical experience with a very powerful and carefully crafted sound.
Kicking off the release with the hypnotizing atmospherics of “Following Light”, the band creates a very dreamy mood as the song progresses into magical ethereal interludes and very cathartic moments. The guitars and drums are perfectly leveled with the atmospheric elements, allowing a very unique interplay between these elements and the haunting male and female vocals.
With the volume of promos we get every day, we rarely look into the ones that contain singles. That being said, when the name Manes popped into our inbox, we had to drop everything else and pay undivided attention. As one of our favorite genre-bending bands, this Norwegian outfit continues to push the boundaries of music with their creative exploits and “Young Skeleton” is no different. If you like a mixture of Rock/Metal and tons of atmospheric elements, then Manes is definitely a band to explore.
Opening with the title track, we get a somber track that slowly builds up with very subtle elements until Tom Engelsøy guest vocals perfectly lead this piece. The song has a very nice progression as the lush atmospherics slowly complement the minimalist percussion. Delivering a more complex and layered approach, “Mouth of the Volcano” unleashes the full Manes sound with brilliant guest vocals from Anna Murphy (Cellar Darling) and Ana Carolina Skaret (Mourning Sun) paired with regular vocalist, and alongside eerie atmospherics. Creating a chaotic and yet lush experience, this track gives us a bit of a mix between Manes and Lethe.
It is not every day that we get a release from Tunisia, and it is even less common that it is actually pretty good. Today we have Ayyur with their highly atmospheric and experimental Black Metal unleashing their two-song EP “Balkarnin”. With a knack for cavernous atmospheres and punishingly slow riffs, this release is one strong introduction to this very promising band.
The EP sets a very hypnotic mood with the slow riffs of “I”, combining them with harsh vocals and a certain Doom vibe. As the guitar leads develop into an atmospheric interlude, the band creates a commanding atmosphere that is both bone chilling and dense. Without much flair or additional elements the rudimentary rawness of the band’s sound is quite direct and effective.
Unleashing a highly mysterious and depraved orgasmic aural assault, today we have Finnish outfit Oranssi Pazuzu and their highly expected fifth full-length release “Mestarin Kynsi”. Having sonically abused all their fans for the last decade, the band continues their musical exploration with 51 minutes of music spread in six captivating tracks. If you think the band was weird and trippy in the past, wait until you listen to this release.
Opening with the trance-inducing “Ilmestys”, the band slowly builds up and introduces their funky mixture of effects, sickening vocals and crushing guitar work. If the first track didn’t create enough anxiety in the listener, “Tyhjyyden sakramentti” continues the aural exploration with chaotic ravaging passages filled with weird distortions and an overall sense of urgency that creates a very demoralizing and brutal atmosphere.
Constantly evolving and refining their sound over the years, today we have Italy’s Blaze of Sorrow and their latest Atmospheric Black Metal opus: “Absentia”. Featuring seven songs and nearly 45 minutes of lush music, the band shows how their sound continues to improve with intricately crafted songs that are both pummeling and melodic. With similarities to bands like Fen, Agalloch, Saor, this outfit has marked their own path of blended melody and aggressiveness.
The album opens with the folky “Settimo Requiem”, a song that features a lively mood with creative tempo changes and a very epic feeling. The band’s ability to swing from ravaging Black Metal onslaughts to melodic interludes is amazing as it allows them to completely re-shape the direction of songs with these transitions as the pulverizing “Furia” demonstrates.
Switzerland has been recently surprising us with their masterful Black Metal bands, Aara is another one of those outfits. Focusing on dramatic atmospherics and lush melodies, “En Ergô Einai” delivers over 33 minutes of emotionally intense music that brings back memories of bands like An Autumn for Crippled Children and Deafheaven. For those that like a melody and ambiance with their brutality, this album is one hell of a discovery.
Easing the listener into a state of hypnosis, a lush opening to “Arkanum” was laid down by Vindsval (Blut Aus Nord), as the band quickly escalates things with furious drumming, dreamy riffs and harrowing shrieks. The cohesion presented by seemingly disparate musical elements is quite effective as the duo’s music perfectly blends that subtle dreaminess with crushing aggression, perfectly illustrated by “Stein auf Stein”.
Perfectly fitting for a dark and gloomy day, today we have Aeonian Sorrow’s latest EP: “A Life Without”. As the title indicates, this release is full of melancholy and gloom, delivering exactly what the fans of the band and the genre expects. For over 30 minutes the band explores cavernous atmospheres filled with crushing riffs, demoralizing growls and angelic female vocals.
The album slowly builds up with the opener “The Endless Fall of Grief”. Instead of the traditional long instrumental intro, this track quickly unravels brutal growls and heavy guitars, creating a very imposing and commanding mood since the first few minutes. Ville Rutanen (Red Moon Architect) handles all growls, perfectly contrasting them from Gogo Melone’s sultry female vocals, a brilliant example of this is the emotional “One Love” and its dramatic guitar leads and ‘beauty and the beast’ vocal interchanges.
As one of our favorite bands, Clouds delivers one of the most melancholic and depressive brands of Atmospheric Death/Doom Metal ever created. With “Durere”, the band’s mastermind, Daniel Neagoe, continues to explore the process of grief and loss in seven tracks and nearly one hour of soul crushing music. Never disappointing, the tracks in this release are filled with grief and despair perfectly translated into musical notes.
The album opens with solemn acoustic guitars and clean vocals in “Cold Guiding Light”, just before switching gears into ravaging growls and mournful violin arrangements. This track slowly erodes at the listener’s psyche with dramatic atmospherics. “Empty Hearts” continues the misery with distant weeping guitars and melancholic vocals. The band’s signature contrast between crushing riffs and growls with more mellow passages is very effectively delivered in this track.
Hailing from Indonesia, today we have one-man battalion Pure Wrath with the very impressive “The Forlorn Soldier” EP release. Unleashing a masterful combination of dramatic atmospherics, blistering Black Metal onslaughts and a hearty sense of melody, this release delivers almost 30 minutes of flawless music. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Sad Legend, Saor and Vallendusk, be prepared for an aural assault with this one.
The release opens with the blistering “When a Great Man Dies” and its waves of punishing riffs perfectly intertwined with catchy atmospheric elements and harsh vocals. This combination creates a very chaotic, yet refined and lush experience that will quickly grab the listener's attention and never let go. We particularly enjoy the solemn clean vocal arrangements in the superbly melodic closing stages of the song.