Unleashing a big glob of darkness, Alternative/Gothic/Post-Punk one-man unit Deeper Graves delivers their debut release “Open Roads”. From the mind of Jeff Wilson (Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium), this release features nearly 40 minutes of superbly atmospheric and depressive music. While not really ‘traditional’ Metal, this album is still heavy in atmosphere and very enigmatic. For fans of Katatonia, Nick Cave, Sisters of Mercy, and Kayo Dot.
The release slowly unravels with the bleak “Final Divide” and its haunting clean vocals paired with sublime string instruments and an eerie tempo. This sinister aural exploration continues with the dreamy guitars of “Leave This World”, the Post-Punk/Gothic Rock vibe of “Ode to War”, and the enigmatic percussions of “Open Arms” and its shoegazy approach. As you can read, every track is a unique experience that perfectly blends genres while creating a very dense and emotional atmosphere, unique to Deeper Graves.
Marking the final release of Aleah Starbridge musical legacy, this double album delivers over 85 minutes of her enchanting vocals and captivating music. Having passed away too soon, her musical legacy has been recently honored with the Trees of Eternity’s “Hour of The Nightingale” release, and with this release featuring nine acoustic tracks and six additional songs that highlight her range and wide musical interests and influences.
The release starts with the somber “Vapour”, and it slowly eases into the magic of “Sacrifice”, both songs showcase Aleah’s soothing vocals and a very dark and eerily sad mood. Many of these songs are taken from her demo, but here they sound amazing and create a very somber atmosphere as “My Will” and “Breathe” sound completely different and bleaker in the acoustic version. Thanks to the simple musical core, these songs allow the vocals to be in full attention and drive the listener’s mood with every single word.
From the ashes of Lifelover, today we have Kall and their very unique and somber mixture of Depressive Rock with Black Metal. With their sophomore release “Brand”, the band continues their exploration of obscure and depressive sounds while crafting six brilliant tracks that slowly uncover a very decadent and poignant style. For nearly one hour we are treated to some very chaotic and yet lush compositions of madness and despair, a journey you don’t want to miss out on.
The release starts with a certain Bluesy vibe as “Rise” slowly builds up to crafty guitars, a lively bass guitar line and hellish vocals. The combination has a very unique Katatonia-meets-90’s Bethlehem vibe that is both sinister and quite chilling. The band’s craftiness allows them to develop songs like “Fervour”, where the tempo slowly builds while the atmosphere chokes up the listener, particularly when the solemn saxophone comes into play.
For those looking for the Black Metal version of Secrets of the Moon, you can move along as there is nothing to see here. However, for those with an open mind, “Black House” continues the band’s evolution into Alternative/Gothic Rock/Metal territories with nine brilliantly catchy songs. While not entirely surprising to all, the band’s sonic evolution is quite interesting and this release shows their skills on a completely different playing field.
The album opens in a Katatonia-esque tone with the sultry “Sanctum” and its ridiculously catchy chorus section. This track oozes melancholy and darkness, while keeping things engaging and dynamic. On “Don’t Look Now” we have interesting vocal arrangements and very dreamy atmospheric keyboards creating a very playful back and forth between different moods. In just the first few songs, the band has set a completely different style for themselves and it works perfectly as tracks like “Veronica’s Room” and “He is Here” deliver very well crafted melodies that are perfectly flanked by unique vocal arrangements and engaging songwriting.
After taking a brief hiatus a few years ago, Katatonia has returned with their signature melancholic Progressive/Alternative Rock and Metal mix with “City Burials”. As one of their most accessible and darker releases in recent years, this album delivers eleven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of highly emotional music with the band’s signature sound. If you are into the mellower side of things, this release is the perfect backdrop for a quiet evening of quarantine.
The release opens with the moody vibes of “Heart Set to Divide” and “Behind the Blood”, both tracks nicely frame Jonas Renkse emotive vocals with nice atmospherics and heavy guitars. More experimental elements are used on songs like “Lacque” and “Vanishers”, which show an interesting electronic undertone, similar to what Anathema tried on their last release. Other tracks just deliver the oozing melancholy achieved by lush vocal melodies and weeping guitars like “Rein”.
Unleashing a superbly crafted and somber Dark/Psych/Blues/Doom release, today we have Finland’s Hexvessel with “Kindred”. Finally settling into a sound that incorporates the eerie atmospherics and instrumentation of their earlier works and the warm and fuzzy psych/blues elements of their later material, the band delivers nearly 40 minutes of mystical music. Be prepared for a uniquely relaxing and enchanting aural journey with this one.
The release opens with the enigmatic “Billion Year Old Being”, treating the listener to fuzzy Psych guitars and very hypnotic vocal harmonies. The retro vibe in the opener is nicely followed by the bluesy “Demian”, a very intoxicating track with subtle instrumental arrangements, trippy guitar leads, and perfectly voiced by Mat McNerney. For those looking to lose themselves in the band's folky atmospheric side, “Fire of the Mind” and “Bog Bodies” are two chilling campfire songs that swiftly change the mood of the release.
Enigmatic dutch outfit DOOL is ready to unleash their latest full length release with “Summerland”. Led by charismatic front-woman Ryanne van Dorst, this outfit delivers the perfect mixture of Dark Rock, Gothic Pop and Psychedelic Metal spread out in nine elaborate tracks. Featuring members of bands like Gold, The Devil’s Blood among others, the band’s sound is quite intoxicating, so be prepared for a dark and sinister ride.
The album opens with the masterful “Sulphur & Starlight”, a very somber and yet catchy track that slowly builds up on enigmatic guitars and crafty drumming. The soothing raspy vocals of Ryanne perfectly blend with the playful bass guitar line as the mood changes throughout the song. The hard rocking attitude of the band is truly evident in the epic “Wolf Moon” and the dreamy “God Particle”. The band’s musical influences are vast and varied, as you can even hear some Cult of Luna-esque elements in the later of the previously mentioned tracks.
Returning with a dreamy Deampop/Shoegaze release, today we have Lunacy and their sophomore release “My Favourite Dreams”. Hailing from Belarus, this band delivers wave of moody music perfectly paired with lush female vocals. As one of our favorite singers, Morena, elevates Lunacy’s music to ethereal realms thanks to her subtle and fragile singing style. If you are a fan of bands like Amesoeurs and Malenuit, you cannot afford to miss out on this release.
Opening with the lush “Paints and Pictures”, the mood is set to be quite lively with Pop-ish arrangements and very melodic vocals. The surprise in this track is that out of nowhere we are treated to BM screams and a Alcest-like tempo change that perfectly contrasts this unique song. Building up on the ethereal vibe the release has, “The Road” has that Post-punk/Synth Pop edge that very few bands can pull off authentically.
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.
Just before the end of the year we received on our review queue on of our favorite albums of 2018: Crippled Black Phoenix’s “Great Escape”. As one of the most melancholic and mellow Rock albums we have heard, this international band unleashes over one hour of truly disarming music. Mixing elements of bands like Anathema, God is an Astronaut and countless others, this is definitely one of the most unique and diverse releases you will hear in 2018.
After opening with the dreamy “You Brought it Upon Yourselves”, the band sinks into the bleakness of “To You I Give”, a Post-Rock-ish tune in nature. Masterminded by Justin Greaves, this band’s releases are always very rich and diverse and extremely hard to categorize, but always top notch in terms of quality. After the interlude “Uncivil War, Pt. 1”, “Madman” features a dark wave vibe with heavy synths and a very martial pace.