For some reason a band like Opeth and their newest Progressive/Psychedelic antics, while great sounding, they usually put us to sleep. Contrastingly, Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir and their latest newfound Psychedelic/Progressive endeavors incite a great level of curiosity and engagements from us. Unleashing “Eden in Reverse”, the band delivers a mixture of their weird avant-gardeness of their earlier days and trippy Proggy/Psych brilliance, perfectly delivered in seven tracks and nearly 45 minutes of captivating music.
The album opens up with the more traditional old-school Prog/Space rock of bands like Hawkwind and Magnum on pieces like “Darwining Beasts” and “Incense Swirls”. While catchy, we didn’t really get turned fully into the release until “Alien Lip Reading” comes in with a certain weird Solefald sounding angle, creating captivating guitar melodies and hypnotic vocal arrangements. This track nicely turns the release into a very interesting and completely trippy experience as it sounds like your old prog/space rock, but with a fresher and more dynamic edge.
Crafting a haunting atmosphere with crushing walls of sound and eerie synths, today we have Insect Ark and their crushing release “The Vanishing”. With a certain minimalist and drone edge, the band’s music creates cavernous avenues for waves of distorted bass and lap steel guitar. For fans of bands like Earth, Jex Thoth, SubRosa, all minus the vocals, this release will command your attention and take it for a warm and fuzzy trippy ride.
The album kicks off with the interstellar antics of the crafty “Tectonic”, a piece that nicely builds as the bass guitar leads into crafty percussions and dreamy synths. The duo’s ability to slowly build tension and atmosphere is quite impressive as tracks like “Three Gates” slowly build from minimalist passages to fuzzy onslaughts that are both playful and yet pummeling. The experimental component of the band’s music allows them to create tracks that are highly hypnotic, like the trance inducing “Philae” and the slow burning “Danube”.
As one of the most intense and authentic (modern) Psychedelic Rock bands we have ever seen, Kadavar continues to propel themselves to the top with killer releases. “For the Dead Travel Fast” is yet another highlight in their storied career, filled with over 45 minutes of fantastic and engaging music. If you like riff-driven releases Rock releases, this album will satisfy your quota… for a few years. With this highly creative and moody release, the band reaches new heights.
Starting off with the chilling-eerie intro “The End”, the band sets a very moody vibe that fully unravels with “The Devil's Master”. This last track perfectly combines fuzzy guitars, funky vocal arrangements and a very martial pace that slowly builds up. The Psychedelic brilliance of “Evil Forces” makes it one of the band’s most engaging and retro sounding tracks, thanks to a very natural and authentic old-school vibe. We are fans of more mysterious tracks, like the dramatic “Children of the Night” and it's very atmospheric vibe mixed with killer guitar leads and a pulsating bass guitar line.
Fully embracing and developing their Progressive Metal/Rock sound, Opeth as embarked on a journey in their last few releases to discover and create an own cohesive sound. With “In Cauda Venenum”, the band seems to be nicely settled and delivers ten lush tracks that showcase their impressive progress in this genre. Released in both Swedish and English, this album is quite a treat to enjoy if you are a fan of the genre and bands like Leprous and Haken but with a funky Psychedelic punch to them.
After setting a trippy mood with the opener “Garden of Earthly Delights”, the band starts their proggy journey with the funky “Dignity”. Featuring an intricate bass guitar line and psychedelic synths and eerie vocal arrangements, this track nicely showcases the band’s craftiness. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s clean vocals are a very nice complement to the music’s craftsmanship on tracks like “Heart In Hand” and “Next of Kin”. We particularly enjoy how the band shifts tempos and hooks the listener with subtle details between transitions.
We just had to wait 11 year for a new full length release, from personal favorite band Noekk. On the bright side, I guess “Waltzing in Obscurity” did take one year less to be released than the time between Empyrium albums. Led by Markus Stock and Thomas Helm, this band is the proggier/psychedelic outlet from Empyrium, as you can hear some minimal influences in this and their previous release. However, this band is a very different outfit with a heavier and trippier edge to its music.
Opening with the album title track, we have a folky opening that evolves into lush vocal arrangements and a retro vibe with its intricate synths. We particularly love that dramatic sound created by the powerful distorted guitars and the clean vocals around the 5 minute mark, which reminds us of Empyrium very quickly. That being the last comparison with their partner band, the album progresses with the psychedelic brilliance of “Perseus” and its superb instrumentation. The drum crash cymbals are just amazingly produced, and are perfectly contrasted with the funky retro synths, making for one hell of a song.
The enigmatic Jasmin Saarela, better known as Jess from Jess and the Ancient Ones, is finally back with her debut solo release “Under the Red Light Shine”. Focusing more on fundamental psychedelic/acid rock influences, this release features eight intoxicating tracks filled with sultry vocals and groovy vibes. If you are a fan of any of her previous projects, you certainly can’t miss out on this one.
Opening with the album title track, we get a Danzing-esque tune with very warm and fuzzy guitars intertwined with playful drums and Jess’s vocals as the central focus. We are always impressed by the amount of feeling and conviction Jess’s vocals have, and this release is even more direct and engaging. The songs in this album nicely shift gears and provide a wide palette of influences like the funky “Freezing Burn”, the trippy “The Wait” and the eerie “Halo (Ghosts in the Flames)” a very loungey track that is quite enjoyable.
Born as a commissioned ‘project’ from Roadburn Music festival, Molasses brings back Farida Lemouchi and her old The Devil’s Blood bandmates to craft a very unique body of music that serves as a way to move on from the death of Selim Lemouchi and TDB days. Not being a tribute to TDB, we were quite excited to hear if Molasses would even resemble their older material or just sound completely different, luckily for us there are certain hints of their old style with newer elements thrown into the mix.
This two song single release through Ván Records is all we will get for now, especially the ones that missed out on Roadburn 2019. Opening with the amp fuzziness of “Mourning Haze”, we are quickly transported to the days of Psychedelic Rock and its trippiness. Featuring a very accommodating pace and beautifully adorned with playful guitar leads and groovy synths, this opening track is pure magic and a very powerful way to open this release.
Hailing from the Netherlands, GOLD is a band that has been on our radar for quite a while since we saw them at Roadburn festival in 2013. Playing a interesting mixture of Dark Rock with Post-Metal/Punk/etc. elements, this band has a very unique and crafty sound that instantly makes them recognizable. With the current wave of bands playing Psychedelic Rock and all variants, GOLD is one that stands above the rest thanks to their crafty music and interesting amalgamation of styles.
As soon as “He is Not” opens, we get a certain mysterious vibe and then the sultry vocals of Milena Eva take over the driver’s seat. As one of the signature elements of the band, Milena’s vocals are the perfect mixture of enigmatic and intoxicating. After the opening track ends with a Post-Rock-ish passage, the band changes pace to a more mellow lounge-ish tempo in “Things I Wish I Never Knew”. The guitar work is quite excellent and there are definitely more than a few layers to digest.
After their brilliant and lively debut “This is the Sound” back in 2017, Cellar Darling quickly established themselves as one of the most promising up-and-coming Folk Metal/Rock bands in the scene. With “The Spell”, the band builds up on their earlier sound and turns into more Progressive territories with 13 superbly crafted tracks. Featuring a wide variety of folk elements , the super talents of Anna Murphy on vocals, and proven song-writing capabilities, the band delivers one of the best releases of their genre in 2019.
Opening with “Pain”, we notice and instant shift into darker and more progressive territories. The band continues to deliver their signature lush vocal arrangements, but in a more conservative and yet engaging manner. As “Death” and “Love” roll in, the band’s sound feels like a combination of Kari Rueslåtten’s folkier works with Anneke van Giersbergen’s charisma and sense of melody. This is quite a killer combination we have to say, however, of course Cellar Darling imprints their own ideas and style in the mix.
What better way to end a side project/temp band than with an epic release. Unfortunately, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra deliver their swan song with “II”. Featuring all the current members of Jess and the Ancient Ones, this band delivered unparalleled Psychedelic Rock experiences through their highly atmospheric and very emotional music. The seven tracks in this release perfectly craft a sultry and enigmatic atmosphere that is quite unique and intoxicating.
Leading the way with “Those of Us Left”, Jess enigmatic vocals hypnotize the listener as they waltz through moody melodies. This first track perfectly sets the ambiance for the more upbeat psychedelics of “Belladona”, a song that bring more of a J.A.T.A.O vibe to this release thanks to its playful keyboards and sultry pace. Providing an Opium-fueled experience, the lush “Harmain” is the perfect chill-out piece for those long nights at work.