With the amount of releases we get here at Infernal Masquerade it is rare that we spend as much time reviewing one as we have with Blaze of Sorrow’s “Echi”. In this killer album the band combines tons of atmospheric and folk-ish elements into their very melancholic blend of Black Metal. For the duration of the 52-minutes of this album we found ourselves constantly wanting to replay the songs one more time in order to fully appreciate the intricacies of the expertly crafted tracks.
Opening with a lush acoustic intro, “All'Ignoto” greatly sets the mood for the release, once the melodic aggressive guitars hit, we just knew this album will be magical. There are indeed very fast-paced moments, but they are very well balanced with beautiful slowdowns and killer vocal work. The Folk-ish acoustic sections on “Empatia” reminded us of early Alcest, and their excellent combination of lush atmospheric slow sections and powerful guitar riffs. The Doom-ish edge to this track greatly enhances the overall mood of such a sublime track.
From Termo Records, the label that brought us one of 2011’s standout releases White Willow’s “Terminal Twilight”, today we have Tusmørke’s “Underjordisk Tusmørke”. In what it is probably one of the oddest releases we have every received at Infernal Masquerade, This album is undoubtedly beautiful, haunting, and plain weird (for us at least). This Norwegian Psychedelic/Progressive Folk Rock packs a mean punch in this nine song release, and it will surely rattle your eardrums considering how original their music is.
Opening with very high spirts with the track “Fimbul”, the band instantly reminded us of Dark Reality and their “Blossom Of Mourning” album but with a twisted psychedelic edge. The band brilliantly incorporates their folk elements into their dark Psychedelic Rock side, and creates a very unsettling but quite unique mix. The vocals are quite lush and greatly bring the folky vibe to life on the excellent songs “Watching the Moon Sail out of the East” and “The Quintessence of Elements”. With an uncanny old-school Psychedelic vibe, this release heavily relies on their unique atmospheric elements.
After their excellent teaser of an EP “Valea Omului” back in 2010, the expectation grew immensely for Dordeduh. Consisting of the original song writers of Negură Bunget, this band has had so much expectation leading to this release that while a very solid and unique release, it kind of falls short and feels somewhat underwhelming. While not saying this release is bad, it just feels that it took so long for what it actually is.
Opening with the epic “Jind De Tronuri”, this track eclipses the band’s first EP, duration wise, since it clocks in at 16 minutes. With an excellent atmospheric ritualistic feeling, this track is quite engaging and it nicely builds up to some killer Black Metal sections with some progressive elements reminding us of Enslaved. This whole approach continues on “Flacararii”, but in this track, after the atmospheric section the band chooses to go with a very crappy raw BM part before jumping into the progressive sections. This track also shows that the band sounds a lot like Enslaved in some of their progressive parts.
With a very interesting musical proposal today we have Wisconsin’s Arbor and their debut release “The Plutonian Shore”. In the ten tracks presented in this first effort, the band mixes folk elements with Doom and Post-Metal sections in a very unusual and sometimes weird sounding fashion, but it all comes together in a very exciting way giving them a very fresh and unique sound.
Setting a very ethereal and folk-ish mood with opener track, the band quickly comes back with very aggressive vocals and a Doom-vibe on “Trees”. The music is very well crafted to not give things away too quickly and build momentum, allowing the atmosphere and expectation to grow with every note. The band’s clean vocals are definitely an ‘acquired’ taste and for sure need some work, but they are used to perfection to contrast the harsh screams and the rest of the more ‘growly’ vocals.
As a side project of members of Negură Bunget, Din Brad delivers very interesting and exotic Neofolk music that creates an atmosphere unlike anything we have ever listened to. With “Dor”, the band crafts 11 tracks of dark and somber music that will send chills down your spine and will make you appreciate and dig-up more about Romanian folklore and history.
Opening with the bone chilling “Amar”, the music of Din Brad is stripped down from any Metal influences and presents traditional instruments (i.e. panpipe) surrounded a by heavy atmospheric elements and a the excellent and enchanting exotic vocals of Alma. The lush and organic sound to the band is pretty awesome since it transports you to outer worldly locations in one instant. The folkish edge of the male vocals in songs like “Poarce'n Suflet Greu Păcatu” might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it gives that sense of authenticity to the music that many other Neofolk bands are lacking these days.
Making its way from Italy, today we have Evenoire’s debut full-length release titled “Vitriol”. Featuring a Gothic Metal sound with some Folk elements, Evenoire manages to sound a little bit different than ‘traditional bands’ giving them a small edge over the competition. With 9 tracks of music, “Vitriol” is a very solid debut effort that while having some minor issues, shows that the band is ready to be heard.
With a very ethereal opening track titled “Vitriol”, the band sets a very lush fantasy-like atmosphere that generates high expectations for this release. This is nicely continued with the very classically inspired “Days of the Blackbird”. The band’s singer Elisa "Lisy" Stefanoni has a very sweet voice that has that natural retro sound at times, when bands had regular singers on not extremely trained ones, but she can also do all the classical stuff very graciously.
With a very interesting combination of atmospheric and folk elements with brutal Black Metal, Foret D’Orient delivers us their first EP called “Essedvm”. In this release the band instantly reminded us of the early Dismal Euphony releases, a feat that no band has done to date. Featuring six brilliantly crafted tracks, this Italian band delivers just the right amount of melody and atmosphere to offset the Black Metal side of things and create very emotional and powerful songs.
With a lush and epic opening track with “Campo Di Marte”, the band really generates expectation in the listener. The acoustic sections are very well introduced and nicely help in the build-up process. “Sagitta” wastes no time and delivers powerful riffing accompanied with hellish vocals, this song nicely evolves into a more melodic territories as the song progresses. The use of the harp in this song is very eerie and works wonderfully when paired with some whispers, just to fully explode into powerful riffs and harsh vocals. This hypnotic atmosphere is what we usually yearn for, and this band excels at it, too bad the song ends somewhat abruptly.
After five years of ‘silence’, Tenhi band finally returns with another mystical exploration into the dark realms of neo-folk music with “Saivo”. Keeping their very dark yet lush sound intact, the band delivers 12 tracks of majestic compositions that push the boundaries of Tenhi’s sound into less traveled areas of musical exploration.
Four years in the making, “Saivo” marks the band’s best release to date. This is due to the complexity of the songs presented and the amazing atmosphere created in this release. The dark and minimalistic passages are always present while the enigmatic vocals push the somber atmosphere into darker places. If you never heard of Tenhi before, it is very hard to find a way to explain how something this somber can be as beautiful as it is, so we strongly recommend you check out some of the band’s earlier material.
Finally! And American act that can rival European bands in the lands of dark Folk/Neo-Folk music. Aerial Run’s latest offering “Valleys of the Earth” delivers a very engaging and ethereal album that will surely gain them some comparisons to: Ulver (very early), Empyrium (a bit less dark and lush), The Moon And The Nightspirit, and similar bands.
The album starts with the very somber “Amends”, this track nicely features lush acoustic guitars and very depressing vocals. While the album is not reeking of originality, all compositions in this release are very pleasing a ranging between different moods. The album nicely builds up and around track six; we have ‘faster’ paced sections that unsettle the flow (in a good way).
As the last part of a trilogy, “Andromeda Awaiting” closes of the band’s previous two albums “Nihil” and “Knell” with a very melodramatic sound of beautifully constructed neo-classical/neo-folk pieces. Produced and written by Fredy Schnyder, this album has the same cinematic feeling that the band’s previous releases have presented us and provides a peaceful closure to a 4 year writing period.
The beautiful vocals of Maria D'Alessandro adorn this release since the opening track and provide a very solemn performance that at some points (like on “II”) will give you the chills. On the other side we have some male vocals on here and there that give that extra touch to this release to make it a very personal and emotive.