Promethean Misery – Ghosts (Review)

Promethean MiseryPromethean Misery is a one-woman project playing atmospheric and doom metal-influenced neo-classical music.

After her extremely impressive and enjoyable Bloodlet EP from earlier in the year, this new album contains more alluring, dark, and wonderfully-realised music. Continue reading

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Suns of Sorath – Flowers of the Lily (Review)

Suns of SorathThis is the debut album from Suns of Sorath, a progressive black/death metal band from the US.

Flowers of the Lily boasts a lot of complex, technical playing. This has been structured into progressive music with black/death leanings, and peppered with avant-garde, classical, and jazz influences. Continue reading

Igorrr – Savage Sinusoid (Review)

IgorrrIgorrr is a one-man project, (with guests), and this is his fourth album.

How to describe this? It’s not easy. Well, I think I’ll just sidestep the entire issue and call it a metal album and be done with it. Then I’ll run away and hide. So, ‘metal’ loosely covers it in a general sense, I suppose, but what an injustice a simple genre tag can be.

This is an album that’s as insane as the album cover. Continue reading

Simulacrum – Sky Divided (Review)

SimulacrumThis is the second album from Progressive Metallers Simulacrum, who are from Finland.

This is an ambitious album, containing just over an hour of Progressive, sci-fi-themed Metal that incorporates elements of Power Metal and a slightly more aggressive, heavier Modern/Thrash Metal influence into its Progressive Framework.

As befits the subject matter, this is a very keyboard-heavy release, with both Classical tinges and Electronica coming into play. In many ways the keyboards are the stars of the show; they’re never too far from the action and are an essential part of it, as opposed to being an additionality that could be done without.

The songs are well-written and draw the listener into the vivid world that the band create. Simulacrum certainly know how to play and there are more than enough leads and solos to keep the guitar-fanatics happy.

The singer has a decent voice and his delivery suits the ostentatious nature of the music. Good harmonies and melodies are used and combined with the music it results in the majority of these songs being quite memorable and catchy.

A strong recording allows the band to develop an immersive atmosphere that they manage to keep up for the full playing time. While the keyboards do the most to promote the sci-fi elements of the music, (alongside the vocals/lyrics, of course), it’s the guitars and drums that lend the sound such a modern edge.

Simulacrum are to be commended on this album. They’ve managed to straddle a few different styles within their concept, and it all fits together and works wonderfully.

Well, I have very much enjoyed this. Highly recommended.

Diabolus Arcanium – Path of Ascension (Review)

Diabolus ArcaniumThis is the début album by Indian Black Metal band Diabolus Arcanium.

This is Symphonic Black Metal that has a strong orchestral component and Classical influences. It has a cinematic feel to it in places and the band do everything they can to foster a real sense of immersion in the soundscapes that they create.

It’s easy to throw words such as majesty, grandeur and epic at Diabolus Arcanium, and all of those words are indeed fitting descriptors for their take on Black Metal. This is larger-than-life music that won’t be to everyone’s taste for that reason alone.

Symphonic Black Metal always takes me back to the mid/late 90s, it just can’t be helped. A lot of people seem to turn their noses up at the more orchestral/symphonic side of things that some Black Metal bands embrace, and to me this is a real shame. Also, with everyone seemingly concentrating on being as evil, cvlt and grim as possible these days, it’s actually relatively rare to find a band who play this style, especially when they play it well like on Path of Ascension.

The singer’s Black Metal shriek is akin to a snarling beast and he takes a traditional approach to his performance, once again reminding me of 90s Black Metal.

The orchestral sounds are varied and clever enough to never become boring, unnecessary or too overbearing. They’re written with just the right balance in mind and enhance the core of the songs while at the same time being essential to their existence. Some keyboard-enhanced bands sound like the Symphonic aspect of their music is simply tacked on as an afterthought, whereas on Path of Ascension it sounds integral and complete.

One of the main reasons it sounds so good, apart from the writing and arrangement, is it actually sounds like a full orchestra playing, rather than just some guy with a keyboard. The fact that it actually is just a guy with a keyboard is quite shocking, that’s how well-done this is.

Ultimately, this is still Black Metal, so there’s a darkened, Blackened core to the band and they keep an aggressive bite to things, even with the omnipresent orchestration. The songs walk a fine line between Blackened barbarity and Classical magnificence.

Diabolus Arcanium have produced an impressive album that’s an engaging and enjoyable listen. The songs hold the attention and ultimately they make you just want to bounce along to them, blast beats or not. And who can say fairer than that?

Sarpentra – Supernova (Review)

SarpentraThis is the début album from Russian Death Metal band Sarpentra.

If you think of bands such as Nile, Behemoth, Melechesh and Septic Flesh you’ll be on the right lines. This is aggressive, atmospheric and dark Death Metal that’s further enhanced by choirs, orchestration and operatic vocals.

The core of the band is fast and brutal, with deep growls and blast beats leading the way. This is tempered by the atmospheric side of the band, which reins in the brutality, (or tries to), so that the band’s grander and more cinematic side can come to the fore.

The technical brutality of the band blurs by as they indulge their atmospheric side and the two taken together merge into something really special. They may not be the first band to play this style but they sound like they’re doing it on steroids. While some Death Metal bands dabble in their Classical components, here they’ve been taken to the nth degree. It’s as if Therion had created reinterpretations of Nile songs and then asked Behemoth to perform them.

These are songs that have real presence to them. It’s undeniable. There are so many stand-out moments on this album that it’s hard to credit. The lightning-speed playing combined with the exotic melodies and the orchestral bombast…it’s a heady mixture and Supernova is nothing if not ambitious.

A lot of hard work has clearly gone into writing and recording these songs and it’s all paid off handsomely. This is an album that feels like a tour of a strange new land, one that’s ripe with danger but worth exploring nonetheless.

Very impressive and very, very good. Make this a high priority listen.

Mekigah – Litost (Review)

MekigahThis is the third album from Australia’s Mekigah. They play Industrial/Classical Doom.

This is a tortuous combination of Doom, Noise, Industrial, Ambient and Classical that somehow ends up pulling you into its embrace before you even really know what’s going on. I’m not a huge fan of Noise and a lot of Ambient leaves me cold, usually because there’s nothing to draw you in. Litost is different.

Here we have elements of Noise and Ambient but they’re joined by the usually far more spirited Classical style. Orchestral sounds and emotive synths provide these minimalistic elements with a vibrancy, albeit a dark, malevolent one.

On top of this we have the Industrial aspect to their sound, and, of course, the Doom. This is not a guitar-oriented project though. It’s there, but used just as one instrument of many. Guest musicians aplenty feature on this release, providing everything from vocals, to mellotron, to taishgoto.

Vocals are few and far between. When they appear they’re quite varied and performed by multiple singers across the album. They’re usually quite low-key and are frequently employed as just another method of delivery; another instrument in this disturbing symphony.

This album is surprisingly emotive and engaging. The layers of synths and orchestral sounds work perfectly with the harsher Industrial base to fashion songs that work their way into your subconscious like hooks into flesh.

There’s a Gothic element to this music, but it’s one that has been killed and buried so that its influence is felt through the remainder of the thing that’s growing in its place. Almost as if the remains of a Gothic ancestry were feeding the music we hear here, so that the influence seeps into the cellos and Industrial sounds almost without anyone noticing at first.

If you’re into music that fuses the Industrial and the emotive with a dark atmosphere then this is definitely one to track down. Whether you’re a fan of Ævangelist, Axis of Perdition, Cloak of Altering, Ulver or Indian, Litost has something to offer you.

A very impressive release; I wasn’t expecting something to merge darkness and light so completely. Litost is a thing of grim beauty.