Always pushing the envelope, French bands have managed to craft some of the most interesting Metal albums of the past few years. Today is the turn for Necroblaspheme and their crushing Atmospheric mixture of Black/Death/Sludge Metal, on their third full-length release “Belleville”. Featuring members and ex-members of Glaciation, this outfit delivers a very unique sounding mixture of elements that will entertain all fans of any of the genres they combine.
Opening with the dissonant riffs of “Rempart”, the band crafts a very thick and sickening atmosphere that weaves back and forth between aggressive vocals and catchy guitar melodies. As “Le discours du bitumen” and the instrumental “How Did We Get There” roll in, we start to see the band’s true intentions with their highly aggressive wall of sound that brilliantly transforms over the duration of each track.
Being one of the finest Atmospheric Black Metal bands in the scene, Blaze of Sorrow returns with yet another excellent release with “El Eremita del Fuoco”. Filled with brilliant melodic passages, this album reminds us of the earlier Alcest stuff mixed with some older Agalloch as well. Clocking in at around 40 minutes, this is one of the best releases of the genre in 2015.
Opening with the ethereal “La Conquista del Cielo”, the band sets a very melancholic mood early in this release. Featuring very subtle atmospheric elements and bleak soundscapes, the track nicely explodes into BM riffs that are more melodic than aggressive. Continuing strong, “La Madre” is a bit more aggressive and playful with very well defined drum patterns and headbanging passages.
Constantly evolving over the years, Hanging Garden returns with a very atmospheric release titled “Blackout Whiteout”. Featuring nice tracks of pure melancholy, the band manages to combine elements from Theatre of Tragedy (“Aegis” era), Anathema (their transition period), Katatonia (their more recent stuff) and throw in some Cure/ShamRain elements just for kicks. This release still keeps the growls in the mix, allowing the album to be harsh and brutal when needed, but it is mostly very melancholic and mellow.
Opening with the enticing “Borrowed Eyes”, we are instantly swept by Toni Toivonen’s moody clean and harsh vocals. This track also pulls you in with its subtle bass guitar line and keyboards. The band is always in motion and the very Cure-like rocking anthem “Whiteout” further shows their evolution since the band’s harsh and bleak Death/Doom days from “Inherit the Eden”. However, the depressive atmosphere is still present in a very unique and refined way.
Having recently returned from a hiatus, Minsk delivers one of the early candidates for top 10 albums of 2015 with “The Crash & The Draw”. Following the same footsteps of bands like Neurosis, Year of No Light, and The Ocean, we get 11-tracks of brilliant Atmospheric Post-Metal/Sludge music that is both complex and crushing. Returning with a 75 minute opus is an ambitious task that Minsk manages to pull off flawlessly.
Instantly making their mark with the 12-minute opener “To The Initiate”, we have a very playful track that changes moods and delivers a good amount of intricate percussions and powerful riffs to keep you listening to it on repeat for at least a day. Slowly building with “Within and Without”, the band crafts a very tight short piece to hold the listener over until the unleash their four piece behemoth of “Onward Procession”. In part I and II the band invokes their inner Neurosis with heavy and dense tracks that nicely evolve into the trippy atmospherics of part III and IV. This four-piece track showcases the band’s ambitions and excellent execution of a multi-faceted song that nicely evolves and dances around all the genres the band has influences from.
After mesmerizing us with their debut release Closed Room back in 2012, today we have Closed Room back in this very unique split with two other Belorussian bands that feature at least one member of Close Room in each of their lineups. With three tracks per band, we get a very diverse set of influences and very unique songs from all bands. Thanks to the heavy emphasis on atmosphere, this release is one that you will not forget so easily.
Opening the first part we have Closed Room and their suspenseful atmospheric/Trip Hop track “Surrender”. This song creates a very dense atmosphere that is nicely contrasted by Morena’s vocals and the ethereal keys. The best song in this release (and possibly the first few months of the year for us) is the uber catchy “Dancing in the Dark”. Featuring a very perky mood and highly addictive guitars notes and beats, this is one song that will never leave your head. Things get a bit heavier with their rendition of Angelo Badalamenti’s Laura Palmer Theme from Twin Peaks. The band made this track their own with eerie atmospherics and creepy vocals/samples.
Hailing from Norway/France, today we have female multi-instrumentalist Sylvaine. Delivering her debut release titled “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart”, this one-woman outfit crafts very melancholic and atmospheric post-rock with some alternative rock and even metal elements. Featuring ten tracks, this debut release will greatly appeal to fans of The Gathering, Les Discrets, Alcest, and similar atmospheric outfits.
After the mood-setting intro, “It Rains in My Heart” quickly sets a Shoegazy vibe with some Alcest like riffs and quickly morphs into a very bleak and melancholic tune with Sylvaine’s excellent vocals. The song is quite haunting and reminds us a bit of bands like Shellyz Raven and Elbereth. There are also some pretty harsh vocals also provided by the band’s only member, giving this track an extra kick. With “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart”, we have a full-on Les Discrets style tune that is quite enjoyable and relaxing.
As one of the most influential bands in the last 20 years, The Gathering changed many people’s idea of how music should evolved and have been delivering high-quality releases since their early days. After going on hiatus earlier this year, we were nothing but jealous to hear they would be doing a couple of celebratory shows in honor of their 25 years of existence with musicians that played with them over the years… including Anneke.
Unfortunately, this massive three CD compilation does not include any live recordings of the band’s landmark shows but it does feature enough material to keep any fan of the band entertained for quite a while. The other little issue we have against this release is that it only features two unreleased tracks out of a total of 39, giving occasional The Gathering fans and collectors little incentives to buy this release.
Conceived as a side project from Secrets of the Moon’s sG and Markus Renzenbrink of Embedded, this band crafts very dark sounding Rock/Metal that is quite melancholic in nature. In “Gehenna”, the band presents four intense tracks that deliver tons of raw emotions and explore very interesting music ideas. If we had to put a label on this, we would say that they are a mixture of Katatonia, Bethlehem, Mystons, Grey Waters and Decoryah, but with its own twisted intricacies.
The album leads off with the atmospheric dreamy intro passage of “House of Gehenna”. In this track you immediately know that this release will be quite unique. Never being overzealous, the band slowly escalates the intensity and it is greatly led by the dramatic vocals of sG paired with melodic guitars. Melancholy overpowers this release with the catchy and grim “Your Skull-sized Kingdom”, full of great guitar leads and excellent vocal melodies.
At Infernal Masquerade, we live for receiving those truly unique releases that transport the listener to other places, and Necromonkey does just that with their trippy “A Glimpse of Possible Endings”. In this 37 minute release the band delivers fixe hypnotic tracks that feature very emotive atmospheric elements and tons of cool instruments thrown into the mix. This Swedish duo will surely captivate your attention with their very original fusion of elements.
Having a super kvlt name as Necromonkey, we thought this band was going to be an Experimental Black Metal outfit, but we were gladly surprised that this release has a lot more depth than that. Opening with a very playful “There Seem to be Knifestains in your Blood”, the band immediately sets a very unique tempo sort of Trip-hop is with string instruments and eerie Theremin sections. It is quite cool that the band listed the instruments used per track in the liner notes of this slipcase release.
Riding on the success of their 2012 amazing release “Weather Systems”, Anathema returns with yet another masterpiece of highly melancholic and atmospheric Progressive Rock titled “Distant Satellites”. With a surprise rise in productivity from the band, we are stoked that they are consistently releasing albums and very good ones as well, and that we didn’t have to wait 7 or so years between releases. This release is highly comparable to the band’s efforts on “Weather Systems” and the style they proposed in that release.
This album kicks off with the very emotional first two parts of the track “The Lost Song”. In each these parts we have Lee shinning ever so brightly with her gifted vocals and the raw emotions she transmit through them. These tracks are also very well arranged and nicely change tempos and have brilliant climaxes. Following up with “Dusk (Dark is Descending)”, we now shift focus to Vincent’s signature pipes and the way they seamlessly blend with the very dramatic (and cinematic) musical backdrop.