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.
At Infernal Masquerade we usually receive anywhere between 20 to 40 promos each week, so going ‘off script’ to review something requires a killer release. Wallower and their savage mixture of Black Metal with Shoegaze have managed to stand out enough for us to review their killer debut EP. Under the title “Vanishing In Bloom”, we are presented with four brilliant songs that deliver a rare mixture of melody and harshness perfectly in harmony.
The release explodes wide open with their pummeling “Meteor”, a blistering track that features ear-piercing vocals and superb guitar work. The bands demolishing sound is very raw and brutal, perfectly balanced by the shoegazy parts thrown into the mix. While not as cathartic as Deafheaven or atmospheric as An Autumn for Crippled Children, the band perfectly captures the rawness and bleakness behind acts like Ghost Bath and Heretoir, as shown in the crafty “Dispel”.
After mesmerizing us with their debut release Closed Room back in 2012, today we have Closed Room back in this very unique split with two other Belorussian bands that feature at least one member of Close Room in each of their lineups. With three tracks per band, we get a very diverse set of influences and very unique songs from all bands. Thanks to the heavy emphasis on atmosphere, this release is one that you will not forget so easily.
Opening the first part we have Closed Room and their suspenseful atmospheric/Trip Hop track “Surrender”. This song creates a very dense atmosphere that is nicely contrasted by Morena’s vocals and the ethereal keys. The best song in this release (and possibly the first few months of the year for us) is the uber catchy “Dancing in the Dark”. Featuring a very perky mood and highly addictive guitars notes and beats, this is one song that will never leave your head. Things get a bit heavier with their rendition of Angelo Badalamenti’s Laura Palmer Theme from Twin Peaks. The band made this track their own with eerie atmospherics and creepy vocals/samples.
Greatly anticipated for 2015, An Autumn for Crippled Children’s fifth full-length release delivers in all possible levels and takes the band’s sound even further into the depths of depressive Post-Black Metal / Blackgaze. In “The Long Goodbye” the band hones in their skills to produce nine of the bleakest tracks they have ever written clocking in at 41 minutes of pure emotional rawness.
The opening track, “The Long Goodbye” starts off with a hectic level of intensity with Shoegazy dreamy guitars and brilliant harsh vocals. The overall tone is quite melancholic, making this track a perfect mood setting piece for what is to come. On “Converging towards the Light” we jump into a bigger atmospheric vibe with very dramatic ambiance perfectly capped by the punishing vocals of Mchl. As “A New Form of Stillness” rolls by, we get a certain Synth-pop vibe going with a very interesting melodic passage.
Hailing from Norway/France, today we have female multi-instrumentalist Sylvaine. Delivering her debut release titled “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart”, this one-woman outfit crafts very melancholic and atmospheric post-rock with some alternative rock and even metal elements. Featuring ten tracks, this debut release will greatly appeal to fans of The Gathering, Les Discrets, Alcest, and similar atmospheric outfits.
After the mood-setting intro, “It Rains in My Heart” quickly sets a Shoegazy vibe with some Alcest like riffs and quickly morphs into a very bleak and melancholic tune with Sylvaine’s excellent vocals. The song is quite haunting and reminds us a bit of bands like Shellyz Raven and Elbereth. There are also some pretty harsh vocals also provided by the band’s only member, giving this track an extra kick. With “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart”, we have a full-on Les Discrets style tune that is quite enjoyable and relaxing.
Hailing from Switzerland, today we have Last Leaf Down and their dreamy Post-Rock/Shoegaze. Sounding like a combination of Katatonia, Tides from Nebula, and some sprinkles of Slowdive and Alcest, this band delivers a very unique and ethereal sounding release with “Fake Lights”. Clocking in at 51 minutes, buckle up for a very dreamy and ethereal ride with this one.
As the intro bleeds into “In Dreams”, the dreamy shoegazing galore starts. The band’s sound is very atmospheric and melancholic. Benjamin Schenk vocals are quite hypnotic and they perfectly fit to the album’s overall pace. The Katatonia influences, while on their experimental ‘alternative’ phase, are very clear in tracks like “In These Waters” and “Giant”, we particularly love this last one and its weeping depressive guitars.
The ability of Herbst to create some of the bleakest music in the world with Lantlôs is truly outstanding, and with “Melting Sun” he takes the band’s sound even further. Continuing their musical journey without the vocals of Neige (Alcest), this album further advances the band’s quest for perfection. Delivering six songs of great despair and atmospheric brilliance, this is hands down one of the best releases in 2014.
As the album opens with “Melting Sun I: Azure Chimes”, the first few notes transmit a certain urge of despair and emptiness unlike anything else we have heard before. Painting a very desolate landscape, the band fully explodes with punishing riffs and a very mellow vibe. Herbst’s clean vocals nicely add to the mix by boosting the band’s melancholic charge. Moving into the more Post-Rock/Post-Metal ish “Melting Sun II: Cherry Quartz” we get another round of thunderous guitars and well-crafted drum patterns. Perfectly playing with space and time, the band’s intermingling of slow passages and powerful walls of distortion is masterful.