Unleashing a whole musical experience on its own, Project 34 is set to release their eponymous third release in December of 2022. Led by Chris & Renee Lahoud from Australia, this project combines over 30 musicians from over 13 countries, creating one of the most distributed collaborations we have heard in the dark corners of Metal music. Clocking in at 64 minutes, this album is composed of three different chapters divided in 19 songs that cover many genres of Metal and non-Metal styles.
Instead of reviewing track by track, we will focus more on each of the three chapters, the first one is comprised of tracks 1 to 5 and it kicks off with Middle-Eastern instrumentation and it quickly leads into heavy distorted guitars and a certain Ihshan-esque proggy vibe as the saxophone comes into play. The guitar leads are quite intoxicating and perfectly blended between moments of aggression and great melody, particularly in the third song of this chapter which sounds a bit like if Opeth would play both their old stuff with some of their groovier newer elements.
Just when you think a band that you really like will be heading downhill after replacing their vocalist, the band comes back with one epic release easing all concerns. Luckily for us, this is the case for In the Woods… and their latest opus “Diversum”. Blowing people's minds back in the mid to late 90’s with the evolution of their Black Metal roots to Avant-garde Metal territories, the band came back to life in 2014 with three of the band’s original members and a new vocalist which was quickly replaced by the super talented James Fogarty of Ewigkeit/Old Forest fame.
The band’s clean vocals have always been one of their staple elements and luckily on the band’s return ‘Mr Fog’ was able to hold his own and added to the band’s sound with his own unique style. Replacing him was a tall order however, with Bernt Fjellestad the band’s sound is even more epic than before. From the opener “The Coward’s Way” to the majestic “Moment”, we are quickly impressed with the soaring clean vocals and their transition to harsh screams. The music greatly adds to the overall feeling of elation thanks to its crafty proggy and yet heavy nature, with some piercing Black Metal-ish riffs that weirdly fit perfectly.
Unleashing a very unique release that has a certain retro Death Metal vibe paired with some crafty proggy and dreamy passages, Disillusion delivers their 4th full length release with “Ayam”. Originally founded back in the 90’s, this band has slowly evolved into more avant-garde territories, but still manages to keep some of that old-school vibe in their highly elaborate music. For fans of early 90’s Melodic/Doom Metal to fans of Opeth, Anathema, and Devin Townsend, this release has something for nearly everybody.
Opening strong with “Am Abgrund”, we get a very unique old-school Benediction meets Ihshan vibe thanks to the contrast of growls, clean vocals, proggy guitars and crafty trumpets. The band brilliantly balances their more experimental and proggy edge in tracks like “Tormento”, “Driftwood”, with this last track dazzling users with soaring vocal melodies and waves of melancholy, giving those Anathema vibes
As one of those bands that is always innovating and creating something weirdly unique, Sigh returns with more of their Avant-garde/Black Metal with “Shiki”. Featuring over 45 minutes of hypnotic, chaotic, and completely weird music, this album is enjoyable for more than a few spins as the listener will constantly discover new details with each listen. Highly recommended for fans of the band, or music connoisseurs that like odd, chaotic, and yet highly engaging Metal music.
The album kicks off with a short atmospheric intro and the pummeling Doomy riffs of “Kuroi Kage”, a track that is heavy and punishing as it transitions to even weirder territories. The band’s vocals are quite fitting for such a diverse and engaging musical foundation, particularly for the heavier and more experimental tracks like the previously mentioned one and the playful “Shoujahitsumetsu”. One thing to note is the band’s old-school Heavy Metal musical core that clearly shines on tracks like “Shikabane”, and its funky atmospherics and percussions.
Unleashing some creepy and aurally dominating release, today we have Dutch outfit Am Himmel and their opus “As Eternal”. With a ‘weirder’ approach to Post-Black Metal, this band creates roughly 37 minutes of captivating music with the magic of bands like An Autumn for Crippled Children and Lustre mixed in with a darker and drone-ish edge. Not recommended for close-minded people, this album is more of an aural exploration than your typical cookie-cutter BM.
Opening with the piercing “Bleared By The Infinite Wings”, the listener instantly knows this is a completely different release. The fuzzy and yet dreamy atmospherics are nicely flanked by harsh screams, delivered in a very monotonic way, creating a unique and engaging atmosphere. Things get dreamier and a bit shoegazy on “The Patience and Silence of a Saint’s Death”, a piece that slowly builds up momentum and creates plenty of tension.
Just when you think a band can’t get any better, you get a release like “False Light”, showcasing that White Ward’s sound and creativity are boundless. Digging deeper than in “Love Exchange Failure”, the band explores more sultry dark-jazz/avant-garde territories with the 66 minutes of music unleashed here. As one of the finest releases of 2022, this album needs to be enjoyed and carefully examined to get the fullest out of it.
Starting this magical tour-de-force we have the powerful “Leviathan”, a track that nicely builds up to some harsh Black Metal passages and nicely transitions into sultry jazzy greatness. With a more somber and darker tone, “Salt Paradise” mixes the guest clean vocals from Jay Gambit (Crowhurst) and the band’s more enigmatic and atmospheric side. “Phoenix” and “Silent Circles” nicely balance the band’s heavy side with melancholy and crafty instrumentation.
When it comes to bending Metal into all kinds of weird directions, there is no other band like Zeal and Ardor. By fusing Blues, Gospel, and Soul music elements with harsher Black Metal and even some Progressive/Djent influences this outfit has delivered quite unique releases over the years. With their eponymous release the band further matures into their signature style by crafting 14 diverse and engaging tracks.
After setting a very engaging vibe in the self-titled opener track, “Run” delivers the first dynamic piece with crafty guitars and a plethora of vocal styles. Perfectly growing in momentum and delivering some heavy passages along the way, “Death to the Holy” has some of the band’s earliest elements of Bluesy Black Metal, while “Emersion” has a more Dream Pop edge that transforms into a dreamy Deafheaven-esque aggression.
As if their 2021 full-length “Revelator” wasn’t enough, today we have Australia’s The Amenta back with an interesting 2-song EP titled “Solipschism”. Not that we are complaining, the band first makes us wait 8 years between releases and now we are treated to more madness in less than 6 months. Again, proceed with caution as this Aussie band kicks some serious ass while introducing some weird and creepy ideas.
With a heavier focus on atmosphere and weirdness, the release kicks off with “Solipschism”, a highly atmospheric piece with very eerie arrangements and a solemn pace. This track is a fresh and creepy soundscape that sets a very dark mood. The second piece, “Labourinth” slowly builds from distorted guitars with an industrial vibe to a more expansive crushing piece with hellish vocals alongside crafty drums and a faster pace, and a particularly dissonant closing.
For those of us that like weird music that pushes the boundaries while keeping Metal elements in the mix, Thy Catafalque has been delivering highly innovative releases over the years. Tamás Kátai returns after one year since the band’s last release with “Vadak”, featuring over 62 minutes of captivating and yet difficult to digest music. If you like the band’s brand of weirdness, you know that this release will demand your full attention for more than a few dozen spins to be fully digested and appreciated.
After setting a weird and futuristic sounding mood with the first few minutes of “Szarvas”, the jazzy weirdness instantly takes center stage as the track is quite intricate and yet delicate. As you can imagine, elements are mixed from all kinds of genres, and the resulting amalgamation mixes harsh BM screams with jazzy/proggy influences. Completely flipping the script, “Köszöntsd a hajnalt” has a nice Eluveitie folky vibe, while “Gömböc” mixes heavier Death Metal-esque elements with funky instrumental passages.
Perfectly crafted for those of us that like funky Black Metal with tons of unique and at times bonkers elements, Void Paradigm prepares to unleash: “Ultime Pulsation | Demain Brûle”. In this 38+ minute release, the band presents two songs that create very unique atmospheres and are full of intricate little details to discover. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Ved Buens Ende and Ephel Duath.
The release kicks off with side A, “Ultime Pulsation”, a chilling song that slowly builds up to a very chaotic catharsis and a hefty dosage of creepy atmospherics and stern vocals. With incisive and punishing riffs flanking the hellish vocals of Jonathan Théry, the release instantly induces anxiety upon the unsuspecting listener. We particularly enjoy how the crafty tempo changes and funky drum patterns shape how the song unravels to the listener while creating some interesting and subtle instrumental passages.