White Ward – Futility Report (Review)

White WardThis is the debut album from White Ward, a Ukrainian post-black metal band.

This is post-black metal with avant-garde tendencies. However, this is a very simplistic description of what you’ll find on Futility Report; the music is anything but simple.

Mix Ihsahn, Ulver, Ephel Duath, Blut Aus Nord, Deafheaven, and Wolves in the Throne Room together, and you’ll still only have the barest glimpse of what White Ward play. Continue reading

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Haze of Summer – Znoi (Review)

Haze of SummerThis is the debut album from Haze of Summer, a Russian black metal project.

Essentially a one-man band fleshed out with guests acting as session musicians, Znoi is a little over half an hour of melodic/post-black metal that takes influence from the bright, modern approach to the style as championed Continue reading

Au Champ des Morts – Dans la Joie (Review)

Au Champ des MortsAu Champ des Morts are a French black metal band and this is their debut album.

This is contemporary black metal that has a firm foundation in the traditional style, but updated for the modern day with post-black metal, atmospheric and blackgaze influences.

Dans la Joie is full of emotive and Continue reading

Downfall of Gaia – Atrophy (Review)

Downfall of GaiaThis is the fourth album from German band Downfall of Gaia. They play post-black metal.

This is a release that creates and fosters atmosphere like a second skin. It’s dark and mystical, and keeps its secrets close to its chest despite also being quite warm and welcoming in some respects. Ice-cold black metal full of hatred and blasphemy this is not. That’s not to say that Continue reading

Cairiss – Fall (Review)

CairissCairiss are an atmospheric/post-black metal band from the UK. This is their debut EP.

Now, here we have something very impressive.

Cairiss’ music is atmospheric metal that takes a good amount of black metal influence but builds on it with post-metal knowledge and application.

The singer has a voice that does the music justice. Her harsh screams are savagery Continue reading

Harakiri for the Sky – III: Trauma (Review)

Harakiri for the SkyAs the name suggests, this is the third album from this Austrian post-black metal band.

Harakiri for the Sky blend resplendent, expansive post-rock/metal with a blackened intensity. The resulting 75 minutes of music on III: Trauma is heavily atmospheric, with a darkened core that screams out in forlorn misery and pain.

There’s an element of the depressive black metal style on this album, but whereas Continue reading

Astral Path – An Oath to the Void (Review)

Astral PathAstral Path are an atmospheric Black Metal band from Canada. This is their début album.

This is the kind of modern, expansive Black Metal that so many bands seem to do so well these days. If you’re a fan of bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Chaos Moon, Midnight Odyssey, Krallice, Mare Cognitum, Deafheaven and their ilk, then you should also like this.

Astral Path’s music combines this type of stargazing, cosmic Black Metal with ambient soundscapes to create atmospheric Black Metal that seems to roll out of the speakers in a pool of spectral fog. Continue reading

Animus Mortis – Testimonia (Review)

Animus MortisAnimus Mortis are a Chilean Black Metal band and this is their second album.

This is an intriguing blend of Progressive and Post-Black Metal that lasts 40 minutes and makes a very good impression. It’s Black Metal for the modern age, taking influence from the aforementioned sub-genres to add to their Blackened pot, creating something unusual.

This sits nicely alongside albums from bands like Entropia, Thaw, Outre, Hope Drone, Tempel, Decline of the I, Wayfarer, Deafheaven and many others that play Black Metal with a non-standard spin on things. Bands such as these take up the mantle of Post-Black Metal, (willingly or not), to expand their musical horizons and add to their Blackened palette.

Chants, screams, growls and all manner of other vocalisations are used to great effect to provide a rich vocal performance. These are multifaceted and varied, allowing the singer ample avenues for exploration and experimentation. Wailing, shrieking and moaning torment appear to be his choicest methods of delivery; these are frequently layered on top of each other to create a nightmarish juxtaposition against the more resplendent music. I imagine it could be somewhat of an acquired taste for some people when confronted with his style, maybe rather preferring the more standard screams that appear less often.

The music is highly emotive and has an understated epic feel to it. It has a heart that’s twisted and warped though, kind of like Deathspell Omega with added Shoegaze. The music can be quite beautiful, with uplifting sections as well as parts that are more barbed and dangerous. The vocals supply the main ugliness and horror to the music, with the singer frequently sounding inhuman or possessed, adding a disturbing aura to the songs.

This is a compelling release due to the fact that it attempts to do something a little different from the norm and largely succeeds. The ubiquitous blast beats, the gleaming guitar melodies and the corrupted vocalisations all merge together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts.

This is music to become entranced by. Let Animus Mortis lift you up and help you explore the less-travelled paths that they wander. It may seem a daunting proposition, but it’s one that’s worth it.

Barishi – Endless Howl (Review)

BarishiBarishi are from the US and play Progressive Metal.

This is the latest EP, following on from their very enjoyable début album Barishi.

Here we have four new songs, clocking in at just less than 19 minutes in length. In an interview I did with their guitarist, Graham Brooks, he said that they wanted to explore a heavier direction in the future.

They’ve certainly done this on Endless Howl.

Again we have the mixture of angular riffs and melodic flourish; it worked well on their début album so it’s good to see it carried forward to this EP.

The songs are heavier, faster and are all-round more Metal this time though, which is something the band have successfully developed in their sound. The first song In the Hour of the Wolf doesn’t sound too far from At the Gates if they had a Progressive influence.

The heavily melodic nature of some of the music combined with the screaming vocals lends their sound a Black Metal/Shoegaze aspect which was entirely absent from their début. Smoke from the Earth is a great example of this and could almost be a Deafheaven tune.

The vocals still contribute harsh shouting screams, but this time they’re joined by the odd growl here and there. The growls are performed extremely well and the progression in screams is noticeable; they sounded perfectly good on the début but on this EP they’re even better. Completely gone are the clean vocals.

I’m glad that Barishi have incorporated more Metal without losing too much of what made them so interesting and individual in the first place. However, the Progressive and Jazz elements are less pronounced this time as something had to give due to the increased Metal influence. They are still there though in places and played immaculately, as always.

This is a very enjoyable collection of songs, showcasing a band that are truly finding their direction. Tight playing and focused songwriting means that the band sound even better than they did on their début.

The more Metal-oriented direction seems to have turned out to be a winner. Where do they go from here? Personally I would like to see their next release merge the Metal of their current incarnation with the more Jazz/Progressive tendencies of their début. If they manage to do this successfully then they’ll be untouchable.

Barishi have really impressed with this EP. An essential purchase.

Favourite Track: Snakeboat. Good songwriting and some strange, atypical atmospheric riffing that gets under your skin to create a tense and nervous listening experience.