Unleashing one of the most expected and full of hype (in some circles) releases of 2018, In the Woods… delivers one of their most direct and engaging albums. Filled with over 53 minutes of music, the band leaves no stone unturned with their highly diverse and creative musical repertoire. If you thought “Pure” was a one-off release after their return from a 14-year hiatus, this album will set the record straight that they are fully back and ready to rock.
Opening with the mystical “Empty Streets”, the band invokes similarities to old school outfits like Yearning, but with their own Progressive influences. James Fogarty had been instrumental for the band’s return and with his performance in this album (and the live shows) he cements his legacy in the storied history of this band. Going from soaring clean vocal passages to frenetic harsh sections, his vocals work wonders with the band’s unique music. As tracks like “Substance Vortex” and the epic “Respect My Solitude” establish the album’s mood, we are instantly brought back to the band’s revolutionary beginnings with a plethora of influences and genres mixed in together in perfect unison.
Unleashing one of the most disturbing and yet highly original and complex releases of 2018, today we have A Forest of Stars and their fifth full-length release “Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes”. As a total cacophony, the band delivers over 64 minutes of chaotic Black Metal that features so many different layers, making a very complex album to fully digest. We love these types of release were you keep finding new little things with each time you listen to a track, never fully revealing themselves to the listener until a great effort is made.
Setting a very lively mood with the album intro track, the band fully explodes into madness with the harsh vocals and convoluted riffing of “Precipice Pirouette”. With dramatic violins serving as highlights to a very dense and powerful wall of sound, this track has an unnerving pace that induces anxiety and and despair. On “Tombward Bound”, the band splits up the punishment with a somber interlude between a hectic start and a Devil Doll-esque climax that is some of the band’s finest work to date.
As one of the most forward thinking and creative bands to come out of Norway, today we have Manes and their latest opus of madness titled “Slow Motion Death Sequence”. Featuring over 44 minutes of lush cinematic music filled with trip-hop, electronic, Metal, and even some synth-pop elements, this release further expands the band’s musical range. Constantly pushing the envelope, this release delivers nine intoxicating songs that demand attention and an open mind.
The release kicks off with the magical jazzy moodiness of “Endetidstegn”, a piece filled with dreamy atmospheric elements and lush vocal arrangements featuring Ana Carolina from Mounring Sun and the enchanting Anna Murphy of Cellar Darling. Things get futuristic with the catchy “Scion”, featuring some funky vocals and a very modern synth-pop-ish feeling. This song is one of the catchiest tracks in this release for sure.
Unleashing a truly decadent and terrifying release, today we have Italy’s Abysmal Grief and their very unique amalgamation of Dark/Doom Metal with eerie atmospherics and Avant-garde elements. Clocking in at around 45 minutes of pure decadence, “Blasphema Secta” is a very unique release has a certain retro and raw vibe that will haunt your dreams.
Setting up the mood with the creepy atmospheric intro, the band eases into the madness of “Behold the Corpse Revived”. This track has a certain The Vision Bleak meets Dark Lunacy vibe with hits lush instrumentation and very determined and chilling pace. Things get a bit wacky with the harrowing “Maleficence” and its eerie catchiness. This track sets a very playful mood with some Gothic/Punk-ish elements thrown into the mix.
Our never-ending quest to find the most unique and bizarre Metal bands has lead us this month to Poland’s White Ward and their debut full-length release “Futility Report”. This very unique band delivers a strange mixture of Black Metal with Jazzy and a few Electronic elements structured in a very unusual way. For over 40 minutes you are led to a very different and exciting musical journey that will haunt your dreams from start to finish.
The album opens with the first few minutes of “Deviant Shapes” sounding like you are in for another Melodic/Post-Black Metal release. However, as soon as the 2:30 minutes mark hits the album takes a turn for the unexpected with a solemn saxophone making its entry and switching the entire direction of the band’s sound. Creating a very unique and relaxing vibe, this element while not atypical in Metal releases is unique combined by this band to craft a contrasting and yet brilliant juxtaposition of sounds.
For those like us that like trippy experimental music, today we have the brilliant sophomore release of Lethe titled “The First Corpse on the Moon”. This project of Tor-Helge Skei (ex-Manes) and Anna Murphy (ex-Eluveitie) delivers in many different levels, from weird and trippy, to brilliantly catchy and hypnotic. If you liked the band’s debut release and bands like The 3rd and the Mortal (on their later years) and Closed Room, this is one release you don’t want to miss.
The album opens with the intoxicating “Night”, a track that perfectly sets a very jazzy moody vibe. This track slowly introduces the uninitiated to the band’s very unique musical landscape. Very quickly, things get more Trip-Hop oriented with “Inexorbitant Future” and return to ‘heavier’ more Metal-influenced territories with one of our favorites “Down into the Sun” and its catchy vocal arrangements.
Celebrating their East Coast tour, Experimental Swedish duo Necromonkey unleash upon the world their latest EP titled “The Shadows of the Blind Man”. Featuring three tracks that push the sonic boundaries of sanity, this outfit manage to deliver very unique music that will puzzle and amaze you at the same time.
Opening with the crazy titled “Kinky Panda”, the band crafts a very unique sort of improvisational experimental piece with odd percussions and quite disturbing vocals to kick off this short release. As the funkadelic string instruments lead the charge, the odd tempos and atmospheric elements make this track as weird as you can expect from Necromonkey.
Constantly scouring the planet for the best Metal, it is very exciting for us to find hidden gems like Moldavian Progressive/Avant-garde Black Metal outfit Chordewa and their debut full-length release “Recast Gear for the Mindcraft Course”. Featuring a very futuristic theme and sound, the band delivers 36 minutes of brilliant music that reminds us of acts like Arcturus and Vulture Industries.
The album starts with the funky tempo changes of “Psyche in the Shell”, a great intro to the band’s deranged musical brains filled with lush keyboards and intricate drum patterns. The Artcurus worshiping “Mindcraft Course” brilliantly shows even a more aggressive and faster side of the band as this track merges from familiar to fully represent the weirdness of Chordewa’s sound with its Proggy undertones. The playful “The Spiral” is one of our favorite songs thanks to its ritualistic percussions section and how the band swings the direction of the song’s mood very drastically.
As one of the wackiest releases of 2015, today we have Vhöl and their sophomore release “Deeper than Sky”. Featuring members of Agalloch, Hammers of Misfortune and YOB, this is one super group with enough musical chops to make even the weirdest sound great. IF we had to categorize their music, we would say that they play Avant-garde Heavy/Thrash Metal, due to the mixture of genres surfacing thought this release.
Opening with the Deathklok-esque “The Desolate Damned”, the band delivers an intense music with some brilliant guitar wizardry, which interestingly enough have Mike Scheidt handling vocal duties while John Cobbett handles the guitars. After an unconventional opening, “3AM” feels a bit more like a traditional Heavy Metal song with some funky drumming, courtesy of Aesop Dekker. Mike’s vocals are very versatile, as anybody that listens to YOB can attest, and they perfectly fit each track’s unique level of madness.
The French Metal musical renaissance continues with yet another uncompromising release that pushes the boundaries of Black Metal with “Rebellion” from one-man battalion Decline of the I. As a side project from A.K. from Vorkreist and Merrimack, this is one of the most sickening (in a good way) releases of 2015 so far. Filled with craziness and odd elements mixed together, we are treated to more than 45 minutes of intense music.
Quickly establishing this will not be your typical release with the chaotic opener “Lower degree of God’s might”, the band is off to a great start with seemingly random elements perfectly stitched together. The riffing barrage continues with the demoralizing “Hexenface” dissonance adorned with mournful vocals. “Le rouge, le vide et le tordu” delivers some interesting tempo changes that feature some cool French audio samples during its melodic interludes.