Unleashing a very unique amalgamation of sounds, today we have Esben and the Witch and their latest effort “Nowhere”. Featuring a darker tone than their previous releases, this album perfectly contrast the fragility of Rachel Davies vocals and the commanding presence of heavy guitar riffs and hypnotic drumming. Blurring the lines between several genres and influences, this release is certainly one to digest after a good amount of listens and with undivided attention.
Slowing building up their atmosphere in “A Desire for Light”, the band nicely shuffles elements around to create a very powerful and direct song. The band’s sound while simplistic in nature, allows them to play around with the song tempos while crafting memorable tracks that keep you guessing and engaged. The best example of this is the exploratory nature of “Dull Gret” with its heavy guitar riffs, and the dreamy folky piece “Golden Purifier”, which mostly focuses on subtle percussions and solemn guitar leads.
After catching everybody by surprise with their dreamy 2017 debut, “Sirens & Slumber”, Bay Area’s Mountaineer returns with a more mature and equally aurally pleasing release titled “Passages”. Divided into two four-track sections, this album further expands the band’s dreamy Post-Metal/Post-Rock/Shoegaze sound.
The first movement, “Hymnal”, opens with the very moody and dreamy “Passage I”. The band sets a very light and emotional opening that quickly escalates into Post-Metal territories with lush guitar riffs and the visceral raspy screams of vocalist Miguel Meza. The battle between dreamy and crushing passages reaches its climax as “Passage III” intertwines both styles very skillfully and “Passage IV” slowly winds down a very emotionally intense first part of this release.
Hailing from Italy, today we have Post-Black Metal/Blackgaze newcomers Falaise and their sophomore release “My Endless Immensity”. Following the footsteps of bands like Amesoeurs, An Autumn for Crippled Children, Heretoir, etc, this band delivers 52 minutes of highly melodic and intoxicating music that will make you an instant fan of their sound.
After a mood setting intro, the release kicks off with the mellow atmosphere of “The Embrace of Water”. Providing some brilliant Amesoeurs flashbacks, this track perfectly showcases the band’s rich and powerful sound. With dreamy guitars and contrasting tempo changes, tracks like “You Towards Me”, “Crimson Clouds”, and “Dreariness” deliver excellent atmospheric experiences that evoke the likes of Alcest and Lantlos, but with Falaise’s own unique touch.
Delivering one of the dreamiest releases of 2017, today we have Last Leaf Down and their latest release “Bright Wide Colder”. Brilliantly combining Shoegaze with Depresive/Atmospheric/Post Rock elements, the band manages to produce 13 mesmerizing tracks that will hypnotize you for the duration of this release. If you like bands like Katatonia, Slowdive, Alcest and Les Discrets, this is definitely an album you don’t want to miss.
Opening with “Purple Skies”, the band sets a very atmospheric mood with dreamy guitars and emotional clean vocals. This mellow mood is nicely continued by excellent tracks like “Ghost Trails”, “Blind Mind”, and the cathartic “Deaf Heart”. The band does a brilliant job in crafting unique songs filled with melancholy and superbly catchy moments.
Blurring the lines between Doom, Post-Metal and Shoegaze, today we have Glare of the Sun and their monumental debut release “Soil”. Featuring eight tracks of quite diverse and engaging music, this Austrian/German outfit delivers thunderous riffs crafted to perfection for very moody songs. This band manages to craft a unique musical vision out of more traditional influences, delivering a powerful initial statement.
After opening with the dreamy instrumental “Awoken”, the band fully immerses the listener into their perfect mixture of atmospheric guitars with heavy Doom-esque riffs in “One Step Nothing”. Alternating vocal styles between harsh screams and eerie clean vocals, the bad creates a very enveloping atmosphere that instantly grabs the listener with its surreal soundscapes. In the first few songs Glare of the Sun manages to craft very intricate and engaging songs that are hard to peg down to a single genre or influence.
Delivering one of the most sorrowful releases of 2016, today we have Italy’s Raspail and their crushing album “Dirge”. Perfectly amalgamating Doom, Post Metal, Black Metal and Shoegaze influences, the band manages to sound like a mix of Lantlôs, Desire, Skepticism with some Heretoir thrown into the mix. Not for the faint of heart, this release unleashes eight highly emotional compositions that will haunt your dreams.
The album starts with the dissonance of “The Wander”, a track that slowly evolves into an oppressive force thanks to the harsh vocals and demoralizing riffs. The band’s tempo changes are outstanding and one of the reasons this release is so powerful, as we can see on the monolithic “The Nymph’s Wood Hymn to the Rising Sun”. This nearly six-minute piece reminds us of bands like Desire and their knack for juxtaposing oppressive atmospherics and gut-wrenching vocals.
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.
Hailing from the Bay Area, today we have Mountaineer and their very unique and emotional mixture of Doom/Sludge influences with dreamy Post-Rock/Shoegaze passages. Featuring members and ex-members of bands like Lament Cityscape, Lycus, and Secrets of the Sky, this outfit delivers a very solid two song EP as their debut release.
Opening with the crushing Doom riffs of “Come Fever”, you instantly get My Dying Bride-esque flashbacks. However, once the clean vocals appear, you know you are in for a completely different experience. Perfectly contrasting emotive vocals with punishing guitars, this track slowly moves into more ethereal atmospheres with Post-Rockish vibes and soaring weeping guitars.
Continuing her highly atmospheric and dreamy musical direction, today we have one-woman outfit Sylvaine and her sophomore release “Wistful”. With a style similar to a mellower Alcest and Les Discrets, we are completely intoxicated by the fragile nature of the songs presented in this release. Instantly enchanting the listener like the mythological chant of a siren, Sylvaine will captivate you with this release.
Opening with the 10-minute “Delusions”, the mood is perfectly set with the opening folky vocal section, reminding us of Kari Rueslåtten in her early days. The song quickly progresses into more familiar territories with dreamy guitars and intense atmospherics bringing memories of Alcest’s “Les Voyages de l'âme”. Showcasing some ethereal shoegaze and dream-pop influences, “Earthbound” provides an interesting contrast between angelic clean vocals and hash Black Metal screams, both performed by Sylvaine herself.
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.