With three years passing since their last release, today we have Hexvessel with their darkest and craftiest album to date: “All Tree”. Combining elements from their earlier releases, this album shows the band’s progression into fragile and more subtle territories with over 45 minutes of music. Moving away from the Psychedelic elements of “When We Are Death”, allows this release to be dark and mystic while keeping the same vibe through the whole release.
After setting a very folky mood with the opener, the band casts a magical spell on the listener with the enigmatic nature of “Son Of The Sky”. Relying on a very basic structure, this track nicely incorporates lush vocal arrangements and crystal clear string instruments. As the we go through “Old Tree” and “Changeling”, we get shivers down our spine thanks to the very martial and somber atmosphere crafted by the minimalist use of instruments and McNerney’s penetrating vocals.
Unleashing a very lively proggy release with “Aeon Chaser”, Norway’s Oberon self-labels their music a Gnostic Rock and they are not very far from the truth. Exploring a wide palette of sounds in their 11 songs, the band perfectly pairs acoustic passages with tons of atmospheric elements alongside a Progressive/Folk Rock core. In a similar vein than bands like Anathema, this release contains very well crafted songs that have a high replay value.
Opening with the dreamy “Omega”, we are instantly taken on a very trippy journey with songs that remind us of outfits like Yes and Marillion. The band’s progressive core allows them to craft intricate songs like “Walk in Twilight”, “The Secret Fire” and “Surrender” filled with memorable guitar melodies and soaring vocal arrangements. For those that like dreamier songs, “To Live to Die” crafts a very delicate atmosphere that nicely progresses as layers of additional elements like subtle piano arrangements are introduced.
Always challenging listeners with truly unique and very interesting releases, today Prophecy Productions brings us Nochnoy Dozor and their self-titled debut album. Mixing tons of atmospheric elements with Rock and Doom influences, this six song EP is one very crafty and engaging release. While the music is quite excellent, what distinguishes the band is the dual vocalist approach that fully develops the listener on very sultry and melancholic ride.
The release opens with “Black Hand” a very enigmatic piece filled with lush vocal melodies and very moody music that sets a very lounge-y tone. Lina and Revekka have great chemistry and it shines in songs like “Stains”, where they sections perfectly complement each other and create a very playful dynamic in the duet passages. Moving on to Doomier territories, “Closer” and “All Mine” feature heavy distorted riffs and a sound similar to outfits like Subrosa, Black Mare and Bathsheba.
Unleashing one of the most disturbing and yet highly original and complex releases of 2018, today we have A Forest of Stars and their fifth full-length release “Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes”. As a total cacophony, the band delivers over 64 minutes of chaotic Black Metal that features so many different layers, making a very complex album to fully digest. We love these types of release were you keep finding new little things with each time you listen to a track, never fully revealing themselves to the listener until a great effort is made.
Setting a very lively mood with the album intro track, the band fully explodes into madness with the harsh vocals and convoluted riffing of “Precipice Pirouette”. With dramatic violins serving as highlights to a very dense and powerful wall of sound, this track has an unnerving pace that induces anxiety and and despair. On “Tombward Bound”, the band splits up the punishment with a somber interlude between a hectic start and a Devil Doll-esque climax that is some of the band’s finest work to date.
Only making us wait for ten years, we finally get another brilliant release from Noekk, even if its a short 7 inch one. With “Carol Stones and Elder Rock”, Schwadorff and Thomas Helm tease listeners with four tracks of their upcoming full length release. Full of lush and yet simple arrangements, this release continues the band’s legacy with some unique and mysterious songs that will certainly captivate fans of Dark/Folk Rock.
The wait is over with the somber intro track “A Loss”, which creates a very dark and yet mysterious atmosphere that brings you back to the band’s earlier work and reminds you as well of outfits like Of the Wand and the Moon and Empyrium. The transition to “Pan” is seamless and leads into a lush keyboard atmospherics and haunting string elements. The pace is quite well crafted as it creates a bit of an anxious feel, but at the same times soothes the listeners with its atmospherics.
Making their triumphant return after their mostly Post-Rock only release “Shelter”, today we have Alcest and their latest effort “Kodama”. Stepping a bit back into their darker and ‘heavier’ days, this release delivers 48 minutes of the band that so many Metal heads secretly love. The band’s magical sound returns with seven songs that feature a bit of an ideological change into Japanese culture.
The album opens with the whimsical “Kodama”, a very ethereal piece that brings back memories of “Écailles de lune” and “Les Voyages de l'âme”. The dreamy vocal arrangements are made even stronger with guest vocals from Kathrine Shepard of Sylvaine. Continuing in the same vein, the quintessential Alcest shoegazy riffs open “Eclosion”, a piece that nicely builds up while delivering goose bumps. This track marks the return of Neige’s harsh vocals, something that fans thought “Shelter” was missing.
After their impressive 2014 release “Street Lights Fail”, Nucleus Torn returns with one last perplexingly beautiful release titled “Neon Light Eternal”. Featuring three songs and clocking in at around 40 minutes of music, Fredy Schnyder’s experimental outfit delivers one hell of a swan song. If you though the band’s last releases have been weird, you are in for quite an experience with this one.
Opening with the mellow and Jazzy “A Declaration of Mistrust”, we instantly get a glimpse of Anna Murphy’s enchanting vocals. This track again reminded us of a mixture of Lethe with Tenhi/Empyrium thanks to the dramatic Neo-Folk passages weaved into this track. The whole proggy/jazzy vibe in this track is amazing, and considering it lasts 22 minutes, we are very amused at the wide variety of elements and influences introduced throughout that keep the song fresh and engaging.
As one of the most unique and compelling bands in the scene, Secrets of the Moon returns to further evolve their musical craft with “Sun”. Further moving away from their Doomy Black Metal days, the band manages to spill into Dark Metal territories with seven sinister tracks. The band’s signature atmosphere and tension is always present, but the mood shift is quite evident as the deliver song after song of magical musical darkness.
Opening with the more ‘typical’ “No More Colours”, the band continues their older style with very dense distorted guitars and a very aggressive vocals/drumming combination. However, there is an evident change in their sound as this track feels darker and more sinister than normal. sG’s clean vocals are remind us of a mixture of Decoryah’s Jukka Vuorinen and Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman, allowing tracks like “Dirty Black” to works perfectly with a less distorted and aggressive stance.
Marking the end of Les Discrets metal/rock musical era, today we have their “Live at Roadburn” release. Having been lucky enough to be at the show in person, I have to say that this magical occasion was very well captured for eternity in this live release. Featuring eight songs from the set the band delivered that day, the crystal clear audio from this release brings shivers to my spine just by listening to it.
Opening with “Linceul d'hiver” the atmosphere is instantly set with such a majestic piece. The band’s sound has always had a very unique aura around it and when I have seen them live its perfectly translated. With a lineup boosting Fursy Teyssier (on vocals/guitar) and Alcest musicians Neige (bass guitar), Zero (guitars / vocals) and Winterhalter (drums), unknowingly that was the last time that Les Discrets would sound like this. The tempo picks up with the lush “L'Échappée”, one of our favorite songs and most epic pieces of atmospheric music ever written.
Heavy, creepy and atmospheric are words that we usually like when talking about a release, in “The Kingdom Field” Darkher perfectly crafts her sound around those three words. Hailing from the UK, this female-fronted outfit delivers four brilliant tracks that combine elements from old-school bands like The 3rd and the Mortal, to newer acts like Hexvessel and Jex Thoth.
We are slowly initiated to Darkher’s captivating sound with the atmospheric intro to “Ghost Tears”. The dark and somber vocals work amazingly well with the minimalistic percussions and guitars in this track. We are reminded of a mixture of Jamie Myers (Sabbath Assembly), Jex Thoth, and Kari Rueslåtten (ex The 3rd and the Mortal), as it goes from somber and deep to sweet and innocent in tracks like “Hung”, these changes make this release very versatile and intoxicating.