For those looking for the Black Metal version of Secrets of the Moon, you can move along as there is nothing to see here. However, for those with an open mind, “Black House” continues the band’s evolution into Alternative/Gothic Rock/Metal territories with nine brilliantly catchy songs. While not entirely surprising to all, the band’s sonic evolution is quite interesting and this release shows their skills on a completely different playing field.
The album opens in a Katatonia-esque tone with the sultry “Sanctum” and its ridiculously catchy chorus section. This track oozes melancholy and darkness, while keeping things engaging and dynamic. On “Don’t Look Now” we have interesting vocal arrangements and very dreamy atmospheric keyboards creating a very playful back and forth between different moods. In just the first few songs, the band has set a completely different style for themselves and it works perfectly as tracks like “Veronica’s Room” and “He is Here” deliver very well crafted melodies that are perfectly flanked by unique vocal arrangements and engaging songwriting.
Unleashing a weird Black Metal onslaught, today we have a split release from two very promising and highly unconventional bands: Vuur & Zijde from the Netherlands and Impavida from Germany. With each band having a unique take on the genre, this split release shows us a glimpse of the future, and let us tell you: it is quite dissonant and punishing.
Vuur & Zijde opens this release with the haunting “Zonnesstorm”, a track that is nicely contrasted by some Chelsea Wolfe female vocals and furious guitars/drums, creating a very unique and powerful vibe. Waiting to come out after the band’s bursts of intensity are creepy atmospheric passages that set a chilling mood, as we hear on “Zilt”. Vocalist F. delivers a very intense and ethereal performance, particularly on the eerie “Noordzee” and its dramatic keyboards.
Enigmatic dutch outfit DOOL is ready to unleash their latest full length release with “Summerland”. Led by charismatic front-woman Ryanne van Dorst, this outfit delivers the perfect mixture of Dark Rock, Gothic Pop and Psychedelic Metal spread out in nine elaborate tracks. Featuring members of bands like Gold, The Devil’s Blood among others, the band’s sound is quite intoxicating, so be prepared for a dark and sinister ride.
The album opens with the masterful “Sulphur & Starlight”, a very somber and yet catchy track that slowly builds up on enigmatic guitars and crafty drumming. The soothing raspy vocals of Ryanne perfectly blend with the playful bass guitar line as the mood changes throughout the song. The hard rocking attitude of the band is truly evident in the epic “Wolf Moon” and the dreamy “God Particle”. The band’s musical influences are vast and varied, as you can even hear some Cult of Luna-esque elements in the later of the previously mentioned tracks.
Just when you think you have a band figured out, Unreqvited continues to push its aural boundaries with the lush and brilliant “Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse”. Taking the best elements of its earlier releases and adding more dynamic and contrasting ones, this one-man outfit manages to create a magical atmosphere that is quite hard to come out of. If you are into Atmospheric Post-Black Metal and you think you have heard it all, this release will change your opinion.
Opening with subtle atmospherics in “Nightfall”, the track slowly evolves into an excruciating passage to the bowels of hell thanks to its punishing shrieks. However, the music stays dreamy and ethereal, creating a very interesting and powerful contrast. With a heavier vibe, “Wasteland” continues spiraling into madness with dramatic guitar work and intricate drum patterns, creating a very visceral and yet melodic experience.
Hailing from San Francisco, Lotus Thief has slowly been evolving into one unique and captivating musical outfit over the years. On their latest effort, “Oresteia”, the band takes their sound a step further by unleashing eight tracks of enigmatic Avantgarde Metal with tons of Doom and ambient influences. Highly recommended for people that like somber, exploratory and at the same type captivating music, this album will elevate your state of awareness with its uniqueness.
The release opens up with haunting vocal arrangements in “Agamemnon”, a very mystical track that slowly crafts an enigmatic atmosphere. Things get heavier as the melodic guitar leads give way to creepy piano laden passages. Being the first track, this song truly captures the uniqueness and intensity of what is to come. Allowing the listener to fully digest the first onslaught, “Banishment” is a trippy atmospheric piece that sets up the progression into the captivating “Libation Bearers”. The crescendos in this track are quite magical as the band perfectly creates magical soundscapes filled with harsh vocals and delirious laughs.
Featuring two of our favorite artists, this Sylvaine and Unreqvited EP kicks off our 2020 reviews with a bang. Showing a slightly different face of both artists, this release will submerge the listener into their ethereal realms while delivering over 25 minutes of dreamy music. If you are a fan of either, you can’t miss out on this very magical release.
Opening the EP we have Sylvaine with “No More Solitude”, an acoustic piece that is full of raw emotion and dramatic piano passages. With “Falling”, we get a darker and more solemn piece that is nicely adorned by Sylvaine’s dreamy vocals arrangements and minimalist guitars. Both tracks are devoid of Metal elements, showing a more fragile side of the artist.
Now on a bigger label and with an organically evolved sound, today we have Fen’s debut release on Prophecy Productions titles “The Dead Light”. Featuring nearly an hour of dreamy Atmospheric Black Metal, the band continues to evolve with more proggy influences added to their already very distinctive aural identity. If you liked anything that the band has put out before, this release will surely propel the to higher levels thanks to its craftsmanship and atmospheric brilliance.
Opening with “Witness”, the listener is instantly immersed in the band’s world with subtle guitars and a very moody intro passage. As the track slowly picks up, we can feel a bit of a Lantlôs vibe created by the cascading guitars and somber clean vocals. As the two parts of the album title track come along, we get to hear a proggier side of the band with sweeping crafty passages that mix faster paced sections and crafty tempo changes. These two tracks have a certain vibe that can be compared to a version of Opeth playing Atmospheric Black Metal.
Hailing from Seattle, Year of the Cobra was one of the revelations during the North American edition of Prophecy Fest back in 2018. This high-powered duo unleashed one of the most intense performances of the fest, and show that this was no fluke with their latest full-length release “Ash and Dust”. Crafting a very unique and powerful sound with a very bare-bones instrumental core (bass guitar and drums), this band unleashes a very Doomy vibe while keeping things fresh and engaging.
With a warm and fuzzy hypnotic bass guitar, the band starts their onslaught with “The Battle of White Mountain”. Perfectly creating a thick psychedelic/doomy atmosphere, Amy Tung Barrysmith’s vocals remind us a bit of Jex Thoth and Rosalie Cunningham. As masters of their trade, this duo crafts slow burning progressions weaving back and forth between droney passages and faster paced sections, tracks like “The Divine” and”Demons” are perfect examples.
With a knack to uncovering and promoting highly unique and melancholic bands, Prophecy Productions present us with their latest signing: Pencey Sloe. Hailing from Paris, France, this Shoegaze trio delivers nearly 50 minutes of highly dreamy music that will set you on a hypnotic trance from start to end. “Don’t Believe, Watch Out” is one of those releases that are magical from the first note, so if you are a fan of outfits like Slowdie, Les Discrets and Alcest, but tend to lean into their softer and dreamier side, this is a release for you.
Opening their debut full-length with the lush “Lust of the Dead”, you instantly know the band means serious business. Their sound is utterly intoxicating as the dreamy guitars surround Diane Pellotieri captivating voice. Slowly building up to majestic crescendos, tracks like “Buried Them All” and “All Ok” perfectly create a drifting atmosphere that is ethereal and appeasing. The playful album title track has a certain darker edge that slowly turns bright as the subtle percussions interweave back and forth between shoegazing guitars and haunting vocals.
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.