Led by the talented Mariangela Demurtas of Tristania fame, and multi-instrumentalist/producer Kris Laurent, Ardours is one of those rare unique bands that manages to perfectly blend all kinds of cool elements from Gothic Rock to Metal to 80’s new wave. With “Anatomy of a Moment” they hone in on the strengths of their debut album and unleash nearly 45 minutes of superbly catchy music filled with soaring vocal melodies, lush atmospheric arrangements and a hefty dose of funky beats.
Opening with the magical futuristic atmospherics of “Epitaph For A Spark”, one could immediately think the band turned into another Amaranthe, but as soon as the soothing guitars and Mariangela’s vocals come on, the whole vibe changes into a completely different beast. The band’s ability to create different moods, some darker or more playful than others, is their biggest strength as they deliver songs like “Insomniac”, “Identified”, and “Secret Worlds”, which range in styles but still feature a cohesive core of solid guitar work, crafty drumming and soaring vocal leads.
After their killer 2021 “Awake” EP, all-star outfit SOM returns with their much anticipated full-length release “The Shape of Everything”. Featuring members of bands like Junius and Caspian, this album delivers over 34 minutes of extremely melancholic and yet heavy amalgamation of all kinds of genres ranging from Doom to Post-Rock and Post-Metal. Creating a very unique signature style, this release is set to be on plenty of best albums of 2022 releases.
Opening with the melancholy of “Moment”, the band quickly establishes a very moody atmosphere, similar to bands like Deftones and Junius, but with a more shoegazey and dreamy edge. The clean vocals create very powerful melodies, perfectly soaring from the textured guitars of tracks like the Deafheaven-esque “Animals” and the playful “Center”. The band’s versatility can be heard on our favorite “Shape”, a piece that delivers a hefty dosage of heavy riffs alongside more subtle and ethereal guitar work.
One of the best parts of the gig of reviewing music for this site is that I get to enjoy countless amounts of music, particularly the submissions from up-and-coming bands. Today we have one killer gem that made its way into my inbox: Two Hundred Wolves and their release “The Hold”. With a style similar to Jess and the Ancient Ones and Madder Mortem but with a fuzzier and jazzier side, this release delivers 44 minutes of captivating music led by the sultry vocals of Anna Matveinen.
Opening with the jazzy/proggy “Visceral Redemption”, the first impression the band makes is one of a highly original sound perfectly fronted by a versatile singer. We like all kinds of music, and this band certainly has a bit of everything, from post rock to occult rock/metal influences, creating tracks like “Oblivion”, the dynamic “Absolute Bearing”, and the highly emotive “Event Horizon”. We are huge fans of deep and unique female voices, and the band’s vocalist definitely stands out from the rest.
Featuring members of bands like Constants, Junius, and Caspian, today we have the dreamy SOM and their highly intoxicating EP “Awake”. With two original songs and three remixes, this release is a teaser of what is to come from this unique outfit. Filled with tons of ethereal and highly atmospheric elements, the band’s sound is quite mellow and yet expansive and highly exploratory, creating a very cinematic listening experience.
Opening with the sweeping “Awake // Sedate”, we are quickly immersed in the band’s very dreamy sound thanks to its dramatic guitars and mellow vocals. There is certain warmth and dreaminess that is quite hard to describe, but is immediately felt when listening to this track. In a more dramatic fashion, “Youth // Decay'' delivers shoegazey emotions with a good dose of dream pop infused in the mix. We particularly love how the song slowly progresses, providing a truly energizing emotional rollercoaster ride.
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.