Thanks to the Internet and the current advances in technology, releases like “Surface / Light” from Vertigo Steps are now possible with collaborating parts from two different countries. This two man project from Portugal and Finland deliver what is probably one the best Atmospheric Rock / Post-Rock releases of 2012. Combining elements of bands like Katatonia, Anathema (newer stuff), Porcupine Tree with some more ‘mainstream’ Post-Rock/Atmospheric Rock influences, Vertigo Steps manages to create a lush and ethereal sounding tracks unlike any other band we’ve heard recently.
Opening with the atmospheric “Vertigo Dawn”, you can really feel the overall peacefulness and calmness that the album’s atmosphere is going to bring to your hectic day. With very firm guitar work and a nice Rock-ish vibe, “The Hollow” delivers the first introduction into the band’s combination of mainstream rock elements with brilliant atmospheres. The clean vocals of Niko Mankinen are outstanding and very soothing. There are some very nice female backing vocals in this track that nicely add to the atmosphere of this song. The guitar work is quite catchy and keeps things running smooth and heavy without overpowering the atmospheric content of the track.
With all the lines between Art Rock, Alternative Rock, Post-Rock and so on getting blurred, it is quite refreshing when we get releases that actually offer more than your average album. Portfolio’s release “Reason Outside Nature” is one of those albums that nicely blends many influences into a very well-crafted palette of sounds. Featuring six tracks, this EP will ease you into tranquility with its very relaxing music.
Opening with the playful “Gringo, Portfolio are dead”, the band nicely establishes a Jazzy Post-Rock foundation that is very catchy and engaging. The trumpet nicely gives depth to this band’s sound and the way it’s carved into the music separates them from the rest. There are some heavy guitars in this track, but they are mostly used to speed things up. With even more class and determination, “Frassica” fills up the room with a sexy and intoxicating atmosphere.
The one man musical factory of Hypomanie returns this 2012 with its most ethereal and dreamy sounding release to date: “Calm Down, You Weren’t Set On Fire”. With such a puzzling title, this release delivers six tracks of pure aural depression that delivers very well crafted Blackgaze elements merged into more traditional Post-Rock structures of bands like God is an Astronaut and such.
With the dreamy opening provided by “19 Starts and the Sweet Smell of Cinnamon”, this release starts very well with lush guitars and an excellent atmosphere. The production behind this release sounds a bit off since the guitars sound funky and too high pitched sometimes, other than this little detail everything else sound great. The band’s change into a more Post-Rock oriented outfit is clearly evident in tracks like “Alissa Loves Perfume” and “If Only the Seas Were Merciful”. On “If Only..” the band still features some Black Metal influences in their Shoegazing guitars, keeping them a bit on par with their previous release.
Delivering their highly anticipated second full-length release “In Via”, today we have Frames and their cinematic brand of instrumental Post/Art Rock. If you like nice and relaxing musical trips, this album will surely be of your interest. With a striking similarity to bands like Poland’s Lebowski and God is an Astronaut, Frames is set to captivate audiences with their excellent musical abilities and melancholic songwriting style.
Opening with the mysterious intro “Entrance”, the band fully explodes into full ‘out of this world’ mode with “Departure”. The trippy guitars and powerful bass guitar line help make this song very ethereal and transport the listener to a different place. With “Encounter” the atmosphere sets a very nice mellow mood, and the occasional beats make things more interesting. The power of the guitars is nicely used to fully develop atmospheric passages in a very brilliant manner.
Delivering a hefty dose of excellent guitar work, today we have Arctic Plateau and their dreamy masterpiece “The Enemy Inside”. Gianluca Divirgilio, the man behind Arctic Plateau has a great sense of melody and through his Post-rock/shoegaze compositions delivers waves of emotions in a way that only a handful of bands can do.
Opening with the ethereal “Music’s Like…”, this song, as most of the ones in this release, is very guitar centric and with every passing minute there is something exciting to pay attention to. The dreamy atmosphere is top notch and the melancholic vocals nicely roundup this song. The mood in the album constantly changes between dreamy and ethereal to dark and depressive, like on “Idiot Adult”. In this somber song, Gianluca does a great job in using Shoegaze elements to create a magical atmosphere.
Hailing from Switzerland, today we have the experimental one-man music making machine John 3:16. Fusing ambient sounds with some electronic/drone sections and a dosage of Post-Rock, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is one of those EP’s that will captivate you from start to finish with its hypnotic sound and perfectly crafted songs.
The intro track “Earthly Father” wills enshroud you with mystery due to the drone elements an hints of ethereal atmospheric influences, but this track does not really give away anything that is to come. In “In the Name of the Lord”, the music continues to be dark with its droning elements and it suddenly moves into the Post-Rock area with some excellent guitar work. The drums get a bit annoying in the background, but I guess they are used to contrast for the first 2 minutes of so. Then this piece turns completely ethereal with some nice atmospheric elements and very dreamy guitars. This song reminded us a bit to God Is An Astronaut and similar bands due to the dark atmosphere around it.
As one of the most anticipated releases of 2012 here at Infernal Masquerade, “Ariettes Oubliées...” is Les Discrets second full-length release and a substantial improvement over their first effort. In this release the band delivers eight highly emotional tracks that if you can’t find the beauty in them; you are definitely deaf or have some hearing problems.
Combining elements of Post-Rock, Shoegaze, Doom Metal and acoustic passages, Les Discrets manage to deliver a more concise and mature album that showcase the band’s abilities in making emotional music that will transcend in time. Fursy Teyssier’s vocals have greatly improved since “Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées” and together with Winterhalter on drums (Alcest) and
Audrey Hadorn providing additional vocals and lyrics, the band is a force to be reckoned and hopefully continue to release even better albums in the future.
As one of the first band’s that got me into more ‘melodic’ and ‘different’ sounding music back in 1998 with their excellent album “Etherial”, Dies Irae returns after a 10 year hiatus with “Secret Veils of Passion”. In this very interesting release the band goes all over the place with so many musical influences that seem a bit disconnected at times, but that in fact create a very solid release with a wide palette of textures and very high-creativity.
While many band’s in Mexico are clones from European ones, Dies Irae crafted two of the most interesting releases of Mexican metal in the late 90’s and the disappeared. With a hint of an European sound, “Etherial” was a landmark release with its hefty Jazz/Fusion influences that puzzled many. With “Secret Veils of Passion” they continue through their exploratory musical journey and have produces 10 unique tracks that have some memorable moments.
Packaged in a lush cardboard digipack, today we have Zalem’s debut album “στίγμα”. These French post-rockers have gone all out and released a two-disc epic that will surely draw them a lot of attention from the post-rock scene. While we get tons of Post-Rock releases for review, we are particularly drawn to Zalem’s album because of the progressive elements that have been incorporated to the music, making it more engaging and diverse.
After the warm-up intro “How To Operate Your Brain”, the band fully explodes into a 12-minute cinematic track that features a hefty amount of mood changes. Aptly titled “Missing”, this track will make you realize that you where indeed missing out on some great music if you haven’t heard Zalem before. The string instruments used in this track are excellent and add that extra dimension to the band’s sound, making them sometimes resemble a more progressive version of Tenhi and similar bands.
Featuring a very ethereal and fresh sound, today we have What Mad Universe, a two man band from France that plays a particular combination of Atmospheric Rock with Sludge and Post-Rock elements. For over 50 minutes we are treated with very enchanting compositions that will transport the listener to unknown realms of consciousness.
With a hefty mix of distorted guitars, atmospheric elements, some electronic ones, and the use of a banjo (Deliverance, anybody?), “A Cosmic Chapter with Gaia” nicely stands aside from the rest of atmospheric releases due to the intricacy and effectiveness of its songs. The masterminds behind this project PEP and RK do a great job in executing all these elements to perfection in order to create very engaging and interesting tracks.