German masters of the bizarre Bethlehem are back to full form with the punishing “Lebe dich leer”. Reminding us of their “Dictius Te Necare” and “Dark Metal” days, the band delivers 41 minutes of truly punishing music filled with madness and brutality. Jürgen Bartsch and company are ready to take back their throne and this release is one huge step in the right direction.
Opening with “Verdaut in klaffenden Mäulern”, the band makes an instant impression with the demonic shrieks of Onielar, also the front woman of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult. With her completely ravaging vocals, the already mysterious music takes a completely different and pummeling turn, making it quite violent, mystical and at times quite experimental, like on “Niemals mehr leben”. Atmospheric pieces like “Ich weiß ich bin keins”, will send chills down your spine thanks to the whispered vocals and the very deranged song progression.
Completely taking the boundaries of Black Metal for a spin, today we have Laster and their latest effort “Het wassen oog”. Featuring over 44 minutes of truly bizarre and yet completely intoxicating music, this release will have you listening to it over and over and over to discover all the little weird and quirky details baked into their music. If you like outfits like Mord'A'Stigmata and Fruze, you will find this band amazing.
Opening with the dreamy and intense “Vacuüm ≠ behoud”, the band opens a can of weird after the first couple of minutes. This track features a very comfy pace and dreamy guitars, flanked by a mixture of intense harsh vocals and ethereal clean vocal sections. The overall atmosphere is quickly established to be kind of dreamlike and very trippy, thanks to the throbbing bass guitar lines and the funky jazzy elements thrown into the mix, like the piano arrangements of “Schone schijn”.
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.