Old Night – Pale Cold Irrelevance (Review)

Old NightOld Night are a Croatian atmospheric/progressive doom metal band and this is their debut album.

This is a very accomplished hour or so of doom metal, interleaved with elements of progressive rock, blues rock, and atmospheric metal. Continue reading

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Svlfvr – Shamanic Lvnar Cvlt (Review)

SvlfvrSvlfvr are an Italian blackened doom metal band. This is their latest album.

What we have here is essentially a doom metal band that have fallen to darkness and embraced black metal as a secondary influence. There are some other influences detectable in their sound too, (old Anathema), and they all converge together quite nicely over these 56 minutes.

The songs on Shamanic Lvnar Cvlt have muscular guitars and plenty of dark presence. The old-school black metal influences make for a darker sound than most doom metal bands, but the traditional doom metal aspect of their sound means that they don’t wander too Continue reading

Abyssic – A Winter’s Tale (Review)

AbyssicThis is the début album from Norwegian Symphonic Doom/Death band Abyssic.

Well this is an absolute monster of an album. At 79 minutes in length and featuring just four tracks, Abyssic certainly know how to provide the listener with a lot to get their teeth into.

A decent stylistic reference point for Abyssic would initially be the old Peaceville roster, with bands like Anathema, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost all providing an idea of what the base of the band is like. Only longer and more epic, of course. Once you have this in your mind’s eye, mix in some more modern, epic funeral Doom from the likes of Monolithe, as well as a sterling Classical influence, and you’ll have a good idea of what Abyssic are getting up to here.

The symphonic aspects of Abyssic’s sound are big, bold and unashamedly impressive. Abyssic don’t hold back, and nor should they. This is a band that manage to incorporate the symphonic and Classical elements into their sound in a holistic and complete way, rather than having them just added on at the end. The music easily takes on a cinematic legendary feel and each of these long songs feels like a story. Nay, a saga.

A Winter’s Tale benefits from a huge and lavish production that allows all of the different parts of their repertoire to sound clear and crushing. Thick guitars and textured keyboards merge together with the crushing drums to provide the listener with a very engaging and absorbing listen. The songs may be long, but if you have the time to spare for them then there is so much here to enjoy.

For the most part the vocals are deep, dark growls, of the kind that are pretty much standard for Death/Doom. That’s not to say they’re not effective or don’t do their job though.

Long they may be, but these songs justify their own existence by being so damn impressive and well-put together. The band know their stuff, that’s for sure. Amazingly, given the length, these tracks don’t get boring and the lavish, lush orchestration is a constant joy to listen to, especially when combined with the heaviness of the guitars.

This atmospheric album really nails the best parts of the Death/Doom style for me, and the overwrought symphonic elements are just candy to my ears, pulling the whole thing up to another level.

Very highly recommended.

Moaning Silence – A World Afraid of Light (Review)

Moaning SilenceThis is the début album from Greek Gothic/Atmospheric Metal band Moaning Silence.

Featuring the kind of sound that was making big waves late 90s/early 00s, Moaning Silence play it well and I haven’t heard too much like this of late.

Combining the drawn-out Gothic sorrow of My Dying Bride with elements of Anathema’s approach, Moaning Silence have created an album that pays homage to the emotive, expressive side of Metal. There’s also an Anathema cover included for good measure.

Both male and female vocals appear, with the male vocalist’s voice having a quality to it that’s somewhere between the singers of My Dying Bride and Sentenced, while the female singer has a liquid, silken quality to her voice that is quite enticing.

This kind of style has been done to death, of course, so whether you enjoy what Moaning Silence have to offer depends on where your saturation point is for this kind of thing. I’ve pretty much reached mine, but I can still appreciate that Moaning Silence do what they do well, and there are some nice ideas on this release that show a lot of promise for the future. In fact, I enjoy them at their most when they’re relaxing a bit and letting the atmosphere flow naturally, as in tracks like The Last Days of December, (which is also notable for its lovely guitar solo and Classic Rock vibe).

As a début album, there’s still a lot of work to do for the band; I think they need to find their own style a bit more and also tighten up both the writing and the sound. Having said that though, there’s still a lot to enjoy on A World Afraid of Light, and I do like that this isn’t the ostentatious, flashy, overly-commercial brand of Gothic Metal either; this is a more earthy, honest interpretation of the original style that birthed a thousand Lacuna Coils.

So, give them a listen and see what you think.

Favourite Track: On Fragile Wings. Just a damn good song.

Hooded Menace – Darkness Drips Forth (Review)

Hooded MenaceThis is the fourth album from Finnish Doom-laden Death Metallers Hooded Menace.

Hooded Menace are well-known for playing Death Metal that’s heavy on the Doom influence, and just heavy in general. On this latest release this is taken to its logical conclusion, and the four songs on Darkness Drips Forth really blur the line between Death and Doom Metal, so much so that this is equally for fans of Incantation as it is for Esoteric.

The shortest song here is just under 10 minutes in length, with all tracks being stretched out to their maximum capacity for crawling, sinister, evil Metal.

Dark melodies creep into the thick, crushing music so that the band really foster the ancient Death/Doom influences that sit at the core of music like this. It’s not as overpowering or centralised as some who play similar styles though, allowing the heaviness and pure dirt of a band like this to remain at the fore. Old-school Anathema/Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride fans will be proud.

The singer’s cavernous growls are slow and drawn out, keeping pace with the unhurried music and reminding everyone that ultimately this isn’t pretty music; this wants to drag you down into the murk and consume your soul.

When they’re not playing at a snail’s pace the band have a rhythmic quality to them that’s almost Rocking, albeit one that’s coated in filth and grim intent.

These songs are veritable slabs of monolithic Metal, seemingly passed down through the ages in sealed tomes of forbidden lore, only to be discovered and unleashed by Hooded Menace. Each one is an impressive foray into Doom/Death, only much more malignant and nasty than a lot of the style normally is.

Highly recommended for both Doom and Death Metal fans alike.

Effa Lente – The Effa Lente Configuration- Parts 1-4 (Review)

Effa LenteEffa Lente is a one-man Irish project that plays Instrumental Progressive Rock. This is his first release.

Apparently inspired by watching a Quentin Tarantino film, this is noticeably cinematic music that has a lot of different moods and themes throughout its 45 minute playing time

Did I mention that it’s just one 45 minute track? Well it is.

Various moods, emotions and feelings play out during this extended playing time and the impression is very much one of a Progressive Rock film score.

It’s as if Steven Wilson, Anathema, Opeth, Queen, King Crimson, Glorie and The Monroe Transfer all got together to score a film. It’s a very impressive listen that manages to fully engage and hold the attention despite not having any vocals to act as a focal point.

The music jumps around all over the place in a seemingly natural way, rather akin to how the different scenes in a film move from one to the next. It never seems jarring and almost has a narrative feel to it as different themes are taken, explored and then left until we meet up with them again at a later point for either a resolution or a cliffhanger.

70s moods and contemporary Rock sounds merge together in a cinematic melange that is very impressive. Considering this is the brains behind the outfit’s first attempt at doing something of this nature it’s a huge success.

Not just a listen, but an experience.

Deathwhite – Solitary Martyr (Review)

DeathwhiteThis is the second EP from US Melodic Metal band Deathwhite.

We’ve met these before on their début EP Ethereal. Katatonia, Paradise Lost and Anathema remain prime influences but once again Deathwhite put their own spin on things.

The songs have a confidence and maturity about them that belie the band’s youth; these are the songs you would expect from a group that had been together for many more years than this. These are well-written tracks that wear their influences on their sleeves and yet don’t sound derivative.

I can easily imagine these tracks being played on a large stage. The melodic nature of the band stands up to scrutiny well and this is a memorable, catchy collection of songs.

It’s all very easy listening and just seems to melt out of the speakers. The singer’s voice in particular is soft and enticing.

My only complaint with solitary Martyr is that it could do with a little more variety as it relies a little too much on the heavy/light approach that was so popular in the late 90s/early 00s, but this is really only a minor thing as ultimately these songs are very enjoyable.

Check them out.

Piah Mater – Memories of Inexistence (Review)

Piah Mater

Piah Mater are from Brazil and play Progressive Death Metal. This is their début album.

This is Progressive Death Metal that’s expertly played and produced.

If you take Opeth (old) as a base template and then add in some more Progressive influences, (Wolverine and some aspects of Anathema spring to mind), then you’ll have a good idea of what Piah Mater sound like.

The singer has a top notch voice. His clean vocals are well performed and have the requisite amount of personality to them. His growls are deep with a slight rasp and work well with the melodic music.

The songs twist, wind and curl their way through the playing times. Quasi-melodic angular riffs meet Progressive melodies and it’s clear that Piah Mater obviously know exactly how they want to sound.

Memories of Inexistence is a very enjoyable 58 minutes of Progressive Death Metal that is easy to like and easy to recommend.

If you dislike the direction that Opeth have taken over the last few years then Piah Mater can help to soothe your discontent. This is an album that’s a return to the roots that Opeth put down, only updated for the present day.

Give them a listen.

Code – Mut (Review)

CodeCode are from the UK and this is their fourth album.

It seems that Code have undergone somewhat of a transformation since 2013’s Augur Nox; gone is the Avant-Garde Black Metal, instead being replaced with Progressive Post-Rock.

Their new incarnation is akin to a cross between Red Sparowes, Anathema, Autumnblaze, Green Carnation and Radiohead to my ears. It’s a change in style that seems to suit the band as it sounds like a natural fit.

The music is stripped back but expressive and emotive nonetheless. The relatively short songs contain a lot of content in a short space of time; one would almost expect music of this nature to be double the length but most of the tracks here are about  3-4 minutes in duration.

The vocals are similar in style to their past versions, albeit less extravagant and with greater fragility. His voice has an internal power to it though that again reminds of the singers of Anathema and Autumnblaze.

The songs seem to tell a story and pull the listener into their world. The soundscapes Code create are involving and forbidding; they’ve managed to create a sense of carnival-esque awe and wonder for the listener to explore through Post-Rock textures and Progressive Rock workouts.

I applaud the band for their willingness to update their sound, and although I will miss their past style they’ve amply proven to me with Mut that they continue to create rich and engaging music.

A triumph.