Our never-ending quest to find the most unique and bizarre Metal bands has lead us this month to Poland’s White Ward and their debut full-length release “Futility Report”. This very unique band delivers a strange mixture of Black Metal with Jazzy and a few Electronic elements structured in a very unusual way. For over 40 minutes you are led to a very different and exciting musical journey that will haunt your dreams from start to finish.
The album opens with the first few minutes of “Deviant Shapes” sounding like you are in for another Melodic/Post-Black Metal release. However, as soon as the 2:30 minutes mark hits the album takes a turn for the unexpected with a solemn saxophone making its entry and switching the entire direction of the band’s sound. Creating a very unique and relaxing vibe, this element while not atypical in Metal releases is unique combined by this band to craft a contrasting and yet brilliant juxtaposition of sounds.
Delivering one the of most brutal and yet melancholic releases of the last few years, today we have French newcomers Au Champ des Morts and their demoralizing debut release “Dans la Joie”. Featuring seven tracks of brilliant Black Metal, the band blends influences from outfits like Anorexia Nervosa, Shade Empire, etc. with some Post-Black Metal sprinkles thrown into the mix. If you are only going to buy one album this month, better make sure it is this one.
The mournful explosiveness of “Nos Decombres” perfectly sets the mood for this release. Mixing highly melancholic riffs with gut-wrenching vocals, this album opens with a killer bang. This opening track is loaded with raw emotions nearing its end, making it quite the experience… and it is only the first six minutes. Keeping things melodic and yet highly dissonant, the oppressive riffing of “Apres Le Carnage” brilliantly continues the album’s ravaging pace.
As THE most awaited release of 2016 for us, today we have the pleasure of reviewing the return of In The Woods… with “Pure”. Having influenced hundreds of bands over the years with their visionary music and style, this band finally reformed back in 2014 - after 14 years of hiatus. Featuring over 67 minutes of music, this release perfectly delivers the traditional In The Woods… experience but not without a more refined an evolved sound that puts them right back in the map, picking up exactly where they left off.
Opening with the soaring vocal arrangements of “Pure” alongside a very moody and engaging instrumentation, the band will instantly transport you to their unique world. With British singer James Fogarty at the helm, instant comparisons to Jan Transeth can be made, but Mr. Fog has a more dynamic range and brings his own style into the mix. For those of us that enjoyed the experimental nature of the band, they quickly deliver the atmospheric and dreamy “Blue Oceans Rise” and “Devil’s at the Door” to hook the listener further in.
Brilliantly continuing the 2015 album "Epsilon Aurigae", today we have Monolithe and the crushing “Zeta Reticuli”. Originally recorded back in 2015, this album further expands the band’s refined Doom/Funeral Doom sound into more progressive and experimental territories while preserving their atmospheric elements. Clocking in at 45 minutes, this is definitely one of the most engaging releases of 2016 so far.
Opening with “Ecumenopolis”, the band slowly changes from atmospheric sounds to piercing Doom riffs. This continues slowly as the vocals suddenly appear and the atmospheric elements turn a bit more psychedelic as the crushing wall of riffs lurks in the back. The band does a solid job in keeping things interesting by delivering crafty drum patterns near the end.
Crawling out of the depths of Scandinavian hell, today we have Behexen and their long awaited release “The Poisonous Path”. Featuring over 55 minutes of ravaging Black Metal, the band continues to be at the top of their game when it comes to crafting brutally raw tracks. Not for the faint of heart, this is one of the premiere BM releases of 2016.
Unleashing their hateful musical onslaught with opener “The Poisonous Path” and the intense “The Wand of Shadows”, the band creates a very oppressive atmosphere filled with crushing riffs and the demoralizing vocals of Hoath Torog. As the album progresses with songs like “Cave of the Dark Dreams” and “A Sword of Protean Fire”, we noticed that there are some atmospheric elements thrown into the mix to make the band’s music more intense and expansive.
Hailing from France, today we have Doomsters Monolithe and their fifth full-length release “Epsilon Aurigae”. Delivering over 45 minutes of atmospheric Doom Metal spread over three tracks, the band crafts a very interesting atmosphere that while being Doomy, it feels a bit different than normal. Changing a few things up allows the band to craft a unique sounding release that will surely catch the attention of fans of the genre.
Opening with “Synoecist”, the band delivers a very straightforward and powerful 15 minute song. The riffing is quite typical and engaging while pairing perfectly with the vocals and overall atmosphere. While this track is very traditional, the tempo of it seems a bit different than what you would expect, being not as slow as other Doom bands. The second song “TMA-0” instantly brings down the mood with a gloomy combination of eerie keyboards and very sludgy riffs. The distortion seems to be a bit less oppressive than in typical Doom releases, making the music come out less dark and more upbeat (but not too much).
Fresh after completing their 777 trilogy, Blut Aus Nord returns with another part of their Memoria Vetusta saga titled “Saturnian Poetry”. Moving away from the electronic/experimental elements introduced in the 777 releases, the band returns to their Black Metal roots with seven devastating tracks that will re-capture the attention of the band’s most purist fans.
After setting the mood with an atmospheric prelude, the devastation begins with the furious “Paien” and its nearly 8 minutes of blistering riffing and savage shrieks. The band invokes some epic melodic riffing passages on “Tellus Mater”, perfectly accentuated with guitar leads and clean Viking Metal-esque vocals; we also get an early Borknagar vibe in this intense track.
Usually, there are weird releases that completely push the envelope and then you have Manes weird. “Be All End All” delivers nine tracks that mash genres together and crates a truly bizarre, and yet awesome, experience. Having passed seven years since the band’s last full-length release, this album will surely please and puzzle all fans of Tor-Helge Skei (aka Cernunus) and his uniquely odd musical vision.
Opening with the jazzy/trip-hopish “A Deathpact Most Imminent” clearly states that this is going to be one unique musical experience. Asgeir Hatlen’s vocals are one of the band’s signature elements and greatly enhance the experience with his unique pipes having influences of Kjetil Nordhus and Kristoffer Rygg. Experimentation is the main theme behind this release, and by the odd vocals mixed in with the mellow tempo and atmospheric jazziness of “A Safe Place In The Unsafe” you clearly notice how everything comes together in a very bizarre way.
Highly experimental and unconventional outfit Manes finally returns to the scene with a compilation release that will precede a new full-length release later this year (or so). In “Teeth, Toes and Other Trinkets” the band puts together a very eclectic assortment of tracks from their “Vilosophe" and "How The World Came To An End" eras. Any fan of the band will greatly appreciate the moodiness and uniqueness of the tracks presented in this release and will surely make them more excited for the band’s upcoming release.
In case you are still expecting any Black Metal from Manes (just in case), this release is far from it and showcases the band’s later musical progression into dark jazzy/avant-garde territories. Just imagine (current) Tiamat meets Green Carnation and throw in some of mid-career Ulver into the mix and this is what you will get. For everybody else staying with the Manes program, “Blanket Of Ashes” delivers quite a powerful opener with excellent vocals and trippy percussions.
Many high-quality weird releases make it to our review ‘desk’, but none quite like Lethe and their debut release “When Dreams Become Nightmares”. As a project of Tor-Helge Skei (Manes) and Anna Murphy (Eluveitie) with the help of Eivind Fjøseide (Manes) and others, this band truly delivers a completely unique musical experience that is best described by the uniqueness (and weirdness) of their music, since it is nothing like you would expect.
Opening with the trippy “In Motion”, you are immediately set in the mindset of expecting nothing conventional and hanging on for the ride. Anna’s vocals remind us of Shellyz Raven mixed with some of the experimental stuff from The 3rd and the Mortal on their Ann-Mari Edvardsen years. The tables are quickly turned on the dark “Haunted”, featuring a certain Industrial vibe but with tons of eerie atmospheric elements and Black Metal-ish guitars.