Starless Night – Lost in Life’s Endless Maze (Review)

Starless NightStarless Night are a Black Metal band from the US. This is their second album.

This is Depressive Black Metal that is a little less Shoegaze than a lot of bands of this ilk and a little more aggressive instead. It’s a depressive aggression, filled with negativity and woe, but aggression nonetheless.

The songs are long and the melodies grim. Starless Night are not filled with hope it seems.

The vocals are Blackened screams that sound like the singer is gargling acid. They fit nicely with the venomous interpretation of the Depressive Black Metal style and seem to cut through the music like serrated bile.

Added to this, very occasionally, are some clean vocals that are far more angelic and despondent in nature. These counteract some of the poisonous effects of the main vocals and switch emphasis to the woeful nature of the main theme once again.

The drums blast or double-bass roll their way through the playing time and the guitars unleash their razor-sharp melodies on a bitter, bleak world. One of the things I really like about this release is that Starless Night are just more stinging and evil sounding than most Depressive Black Metal bands. The misery and anguish is here in spades, but it’s barbed and dangerous to approach.

Lighter and Ambient/Drone sections are also incorporated into their sound; this allows the band to draw out every last drop of grief while also allowing the distorted parts to sound heavier and more powerful by comparison.

The music is a long, drawn-out journey through Blackened upset and vicious sorrow. It tugs at the heart while simultaneously slashing at it with fiery claws. Ultimately though the listener emerges, better for the experience, drowned in negativity but enriched by sadness.

Check this out.

Dead in the Manger – Cessation (Review)

Dead in the MangerThis is the début album from the mysterious collective that is Dead in the Manger.

Dead in the Manger play a curiously unusual mix of Depressive/Funeral Black Metal and Blackened Grindcore, as ably showcased on their début EP Transience.

On this latest release the band continue with their exploration down the path lass travelled, (never travelled?), that they started on Transience.

The juxtaposition of Depressive melody and harsh Blackened Grind is still not something that’s common and by all rights it shouldn’t work, but Dead in the Manger take a hitherto largely unexplored sub-genre that probably hardly anybody else is usually bothered with, let alone covets, and make it fully their own.

A harsh Black Metal ambience and general negatively-charged melodicism are created by the band only to then smash it into a mutated, bastard Grind template that results in songs combining both atmosphere and aggression.

It’s like someone has taken Shoegaze Black Metal and given it some real backbone.

So has their sound progressed from Transience at all? Yes; I’d say that the Black Metal component is more prevalent on Cessation, although that could also be due to the fact that they’ve learned to incorporate beauty and brutality at an even deeper level on this release. There’s also more mid-paced sections where the band demonstrate that not only can they create an evil atmosphere but they can maintain it.

In order to get something like this right you really need to know what you’re doing, and Dead in the Manger have proven that their first release wasn’t just some fluke. Cessation is even better.

A highly recommended listen. If you haven’t done so already you need to discover Dead in the Manger.

Oh, and the band logo and album cover? Fantastic.

Grimoire – L’Aorasie des Spectres Rêveurs (Review)

GrimoireGrimoire are from Canada and this EP is their second release. They play Black Metal.

Grimoire have an epic sound that consists of melodic grandeur, atmospheric keyboard highlights and frostbitten blasting.

This EP contains 4 songs totalling just under 25 minutes; 3 actual songs and an instrumental/ambient piece. It’s well-recorded and sounds like a labour of love for the band.

Vocals are primarily the standard rasps, performed well. Other styles occasionally appear for added variety.

Affecting leads and emotive riffs are the bedrock of Grimoire’s foundation and there’s a streak of Depressive/Funereal Black Metal in their sound due to this.

L’Aorasie des Spectres Rêveurs is full of celestial textures and enchanting melodies. This is haunting, powerfully atmospheric music when the band want it to be. And when they don’t? That’s when the icy blast beats and more aggressive guitars make appearances.

The songs here have an obscure, otherworldly quality to them, in keeping with the EP cover. Barren and cold yet magical and enthralling; the land of Grimoire is for hardy adventurers only.

My favourite parts are when the band slow down and the full grandeur of what they are capable of is unleashed like some grand and terrible funeral march, such as near the middle of Les Rumeurs des Astres.

A very enjoyable release.

As Light Dies – The Love Album – Volume I (Review)

As Light DiesAs Light Dies are from Spain and this is their third album of Black Metal.

Atmospheric and moody, As Light Dies create darkly melodic compositions that take the Melodic Black Metal theme and add some interesting twists to make it their own. Avant Garde and Gothic/Depressive Black Metal influences come together across this very professional album.

Mournful cleans accompany jagged screaming growls on their journey from tragedy to tragedy, like dark tourists in a town of pain.

Quality guitar work is apparent from the off with Blackened rhythms being performed alongside emotive leads. The songs aim for maximum emotional impact whilst retaining the bite of their Black Metal core.

The album has a good sound and everything sounds clear and punchy, allowing the band the room to spread their creative wings with freedom.

The keyboard highlights work with the music instead of dominating it and add texture to the already expressive guitar work.

This album is well-written and well-performed. Check them out.

At Dusk – Anhedonia (Review)

At DuskAt Dusk is a one-man Black Metal project from the US. This is his début album.

The album starts with an extended section of winds and Classical piano. After this it’s onto the roiling Blackness of Depressive Black Metal in full, morbid flow.

This album features 4 epic-length tracks that are full of lo-fi Black Metal with enhanced keyboard backdrops and expressive downbeat riffing. The melodies are miserably grim and the general aura is one of misanthropic darkness.

Anhedonia’s recording is distinctly underground and this fits the uncompromisingly negative nature of the music well. Fuzziness, distortion and raw Black Metal are layered with Depressive zeal to create works of near-suicidal art.

These songs are like waves of gloom on a twilight sea, ebbing and flowing with capricious vigour.  They wear their bleak emotions on their sleeves and listening to At Dusk is like a constant barrage of negativity and woe. But in a good way.

Screams are buried under the blanketing cover of shadows and slash through into the light like serpentine predators.

At 1 hour in length this is a Blackened journey that leaves the listener raw, bruised and emotionally drained.

Listen to this at loud volume and with the lights turned off.

Autumn’s Dawn – Gone (Review)

Autumn's DawnAutumn’s Dawn are an Australian Post-Black Metal band and this is their début album.

The band play an interesting style of music that has its origins in Depressive Black Metal but has developed into more of a Shoegaze, Post-Rock entity which has plenty of melody and even an Indie feel in places.

This may be an album rooted in the darkness of Black metal but it has long transcended those beginnings and now travels waters brighter but no less melancholic.

The songs are relatively upbeat and feature very atypical clean vocals; atypical in that they sound more akin to the type of voices used in commercial stadium faux-Metal than this kind of music. Harsher screams are also used and these are more in keeping with the style. The clean vocals really do add a differentiating point to the tracks however, although I imagine they’ll be quite contentious for some purists.

This is Post-Black Metal and Shoegaze but without the deep-seated misery that those kind of bands usually revel in. The darkness is there, certainly, but the driving Rock influence to their sound buries it under hopeful harmonies and Post-Rock melodics. The album has more in common with Katatonia and Paradise Lost than it does with bands like Forgotten Tomb.

This is somewhat of an eclectic album as it’s rare to hear Rock, Shoegaze Black Metal and Indie all in one place. Not only do we have that here but the band do an exceedingly good job of keeping it from sounding disjointed or messy.

Autumn’s Dawn are somewhat of a unique band in many ways. Although this will inevitably mean that a lot of people won’t take to this and it will slip through the musical cracks, it also means that for those who are willing to give it a chance this is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

In a way it’s a real shame as with the right backing and exposure there is a lot of potential for a much wider audience for Gone, and all without compromising the artistic integrity of the music.

Time to try something a bit different and give Autumn’s Dawn a listen.

Wrong – Pessimistic Outcomes (Review)

WrongWrong are a Black Metal band from Spain and this is their second album.

Created by two people; one from a Thrash Metal background and one from a Technical Death Metal background. From these unlikely roots an album has grown which is surprising in that it is both the epitome of what is meant to be but also pleasingly fresh and full of morbid life.

Wrong play creepy, fragile, melancholic Black Metal with a depressive/nihilistic edge akin to some of the work by Xasthur and Leviathan only not quite as minimalistic and with more of a Paradise Lost/Katatonia/etc. influence to some of the Doomier riffs; think Forgotten Tomb for some of the parts in fact.

The songs are long compositions and have many different facets to their delivery, from fast and sharp to slow and misery-laden. It’s an approach that serves them well.

The sound is suitably fuzzy and Blackened but it has a solid backbone of precise, focused drumming that grounds the band no matter what they’re playing.

Wrong take you on a Blackened nihilistic journey through the underworld, tastefully underscored by some subtle riffing and even subtler effects that hide underneath the torrent of darkness and the pounding drums.

Pessimistic Outcomes takes me back to prime-time 00’s underground Black Metal and all the associated feelings it has for me. This is a great album full of bleak melodics and nuanced moments propelled forwards by some powerful drumming, expressive riffing and scathing, slicing vocal emanations.

If you only have a choice of one album full of emotive Black Metal this month then make it Wrong.

Dead in the Manger – Transience (Review)

Dead in the MangerScreaming out of the US, Dead in the Manger are an unholy fusion of Black Metal and Grind.

This release is 18 minutes of pure depression and hatred in equal measure.

Unusually the band juxtapose Funeral/Depressive Black Metal against furious Blackened Grindcore. It works due to a skilful weaving together of the two usually disparate genres.

The slow misery of the haunting opening track gives way to the savage, focused Grind of the second. The third and fourth combine aspects of both styles in a way that’s a welcome breath of stinking air; savage Blackened Grind colliding with dirge-like riffs and miserably anger. The fifth is a haunting interlude of samples and dark atmosphere, while the final, (and longest), track is blistering and solemn; blastbeats rage over sorrowful chords.

And what of the vocals? Black Metal to the core. Like static being vomited up by a diseased corpse. Perfect.

Dead in the Manger are hopefully not transient, hopefully they will be with us for some time yet.