As the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Michael Kushner, today we have Born of the Stars and their/his self-titled EP. Mixing elements of Progressive Metal, Alternative Rock and Post-Rock, the ‘band’ manages to craft very emotional and melancholic songs that are actually very appealing and engaging.
Opening with powerful Groove Metal-style guitar riffs, “One Day” immediately morphs into a more melodic and diverse track. Michael delivers a solid vocal performance, but we are more surprise on the quality of the instrumentation behind the song. Particularly the drums are quite good, which are usually the pitfall of one-man bands, and most of the time sound like very evidently programmed ‘robotic’ track.
Delivering nine tracks of exquisite and playful instrumental Rock, today we have France’s Lovely Girls Are Blind and their third full-length release “Brésil”. Combining elements from Instrumental Rock, Post-Rock, and Progressive Rock, this French quartet manages create their own unique sound while reminding us of bands like Mogwai, God Is An Astronaut, and the more refined parts of Russian Circles.
Opening with the very eerie “Catatonie”, the band sets the mood with dreamy guitars and very well paced percussions. The band does a great job in crafting beautiful passages in this song (and the rest) that allow the song to fully develop in a natural fashion. With a shorter duration and a more direct approach, “Robotnik” shows a heavier side to the band that nicely changes the pace of the release very quickly, just before going back to more dreaminess courtesy of “Cochise”.
Arriving early 2013, we have Fen’s eagerly awaited third full-length release “Dustwalker”. This UK band has been pushing forward with their Post-Rock infused Atmospheric Black Metal for several years now, and with this release they manage to go fully over the Post-Rock side of things lined with some killer Black Metal elements. In this excellent release, the band delivers seven brilliant atmospheric tracks that will surely enchant you since the first one.
Opening with the most brutal track in this release “Consequence”, the band goes on a killer opening with furious Black Metal riffing and crippling harsh vocals. This very intense opener nicely mixes some excellent clean vocals and the overall atmosphere feels very soothing once the song climaxes and closes. The Post-Rock side of things starts with the very ethereal “Hands of Dust”, a melancholic 11-minute song that is quite enjoyable and very easy flowing. Don’t get us wrong, there are intense BM moments here and there, but the overall structure of the track is quite melodic.
After their impressive EP “White Bed Sheet”, we were thrilled to know that Closed Room signed with Sun & Moon Records to release their self-titled debut album. As many of the band’s in this label, Closed Room is a very unique ensemble that mixes Trip-Hop with Post-Metal and some Shoegaze elements brilliantly and in their previous work has delivered very interesting and engaging tracks drawing comparisons to Amesoeurs and such bands.
Setting the mood with the Post-Metal influenced “Behind the Locked Door”, the band nicely established very high expectations for a very unique sounding release. This track reminds us a bit of the experimental side of bands like Sigh and Ephel Duath. Things turn dark with the Blackgaze riffing of “Tempted to Illuminated”, then the ethereal vocals of Morena kick in and the whole atmosphere suddenly feels a bit different. This track is very well crafted and the contrast between the music and the vocals is just outstanding and works very well.
Hailing from Chile, today we have the folk version of Alcest: Bauda. This three-piece ensemble creates a very majestic unique sound when combining brilliant Post-Rock/Metal structures with lush acoustic guitars. “Euphoria…Of Flesh, Men and the Great Escape” is one of those releases that catches your attention thanks to how well-crafted the music is and how the atmosphere draws you into the band’s sound.
Opening with a very straight forward Post-Rock/Metal track titled “Ghosts of Phantalassa”, the band wastes no time and after the momentum is built, tracks like “Humanimals” and “Silhouettes” beautifully combine the aggressive Post-Metal sections with the lush Folk elements, something we haven’t quite heard before and Bauda deserves props for taking a daring risk and pull through successfully. With these two tracks clocking at around 20 minutes, the album really pulls all the stops since the opening songs featuring a little bit of everything neatly packed in cohesive songs.
Making its way from Russia (literarily), today we have Reserve de Marche and their excellent combination of Progressive Rock with Post-Rock/Metal elements. With their releases titled “The Last Twenty Years”, the band delivers a very cinematic musical experience that covers many genres and will spawn many different images and landscaped in the listeners head.
With the opener “Calorie” the mood is set very mellow and ethereal. The band chooses to deliver a calmer Post-Rock/Metal track that features excellent percussions and very well defined guitar lines. The atmosphere is very playful and with some superb progressive elements. “Le Garage” rips through with some crunchy Sludgy guitars, giving the music a completely different look than on the first track. This ‘aggression’ is nicely alternated by some progressive percussions and interesting tempo changes. So far, the band has shown great ability for combining genres, and has kept the momentum going with two very different, but equally exciting tracks.
Delivering and excellent cinematic experience, today we have O Graceful Musing’s Burden and their latest release “Two”. Hailing from Germany, this band combines elements from bands like Cult of Luna, Godspeed Your Black Emperor, Ulver, and many other, allowing them to create a very rich and colorful palette of sounds that come together very nicely.
Opening with the monumental “Piece of Lament Mirth Thought Desperation Soul Fear Hope” (probably one of the longest song titles ever), the band outputs 23 minutes of sheer brilliance. With a very atmospheric opening filled with ambient elements and post-rock guitars, the band nicely creates momentum as the song progresses. The subtle progressive hints are quite effective and when the distorted guitars kick in, the song nicely climaxes before a long way down.
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.