Nights Amore – Subscribers of Death (Review)

Nights AmoreThis is the début album from Nights Amore from Sweden, playing Dark Ambient.

The album deals in weighty subject matter and negative emotions. These are realised through pianos and dark Electronica.

I’m not normally a massive fan of these kind of releases as they are not usually done that well and I can tire of them easily. The good thing about Nights Amore, however, is that they don’t really go in for the Drone aspect of this kind of music as much as some. Here, the songs develop and breathe rather than just repeat and turn stale.

That’s not to say, of course, that this is wildly dynamic and full of energy; by its very nature this style of music is slow, mournful, quiet and introverted.

It’s not pure misery though, as there are elements of their sound that sound almost hopeful in nature. It’s not all of the time, but it’s an aspect of their sound that prevents the album from becoming maudlin.

Musically this is good stuff, although there are too many samples for my liking; for the most part I think the music would be better off without them, but that’s just me.

This is late-night bedtime music; the kind of thing to throw on when you want to relax and soak up the melancholy.

If you’re in the right mood and have had your fill of Extreme Metal for the day then check out Subscribers of Death.

Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestite (Review)

Wolves in the Throne RoomWolves in the Throne Room are from the US and play Cascadian Black Metal, at least they do normally.

Celestite is different. Stylistically still rooted in the Black Metal genre, the band have stripped out the drums and vocals and instead created five atmospheric soundscapes to captivate and entrance the listener.

Synth-based exploration and orchestrated Blackened sonics give this the air of an extended film soundtrack. This is cinematic music with grand musical vistas and sweeping arcs of ambitious beauty.

In the wrong hands this could easily sound trite or just plain dull, but Wolves in the Throne Room prove that they can take the atmospheric build-and-release dynamics that they honed so perfectly on their Black Metal work and transfer this intact to the compositions on Celestite.

This is an album crafted with lofty aims and I’m pleased to say that it works. Each track successfully conjures the majesty of celestial imagery and awe-inspiring wonder at the breathtaking scenery that nature can deliver. The album cover is truly appropriate at putting across just what the music feels like.

This may be an experiment for the band compared to their usual work but it’s a roaring success. The ideal accompaniment to watching the night sky.

0 – Simplifying a Demon (Review)

00 is a Greek one-man experimental Black/Doom Metal project. The aim is to see “how far one man with one voice and a four string bass can go”.

So what do we get? There are 7 tracks and just under 35 minutes of music on this release. As is expected it’s ultra-minimalistic stuff, but surprisingly there actually is more going on here than you might be expecting.

An obvious reference point would be the minimalistic bleak Doom landscapes created by Khanate. 0 don’t have anywhere near the same length in songs though, and if anything 0 are even more minimal as Khanate employed a full band of musicians with various other instruments and sounds rearing their ugly heads in their work. It’s a good starting point for what 0 sound like however, and obviously there’s more of a Black Metal feel to the tracks here as well.

The Blackened Drone displayed on Simplifying a Demon is really well done; at first it may be slightly jarring listening to just bass and shrieking, but you very soon get into the zone and slowly the atmosphere overtakes you and you just start sinking into the riffs and the dirge.

The vocals are a revelation in some ways – unexpectedly rhythmic and, almost, catchy. The pronounced accent to the words works strange wonders with the measured incantations and they seem to pulse with an inner malevolence that has an innate feel for timing and pace.

As time goes on I find this more and more endearing and enjoyable. It really is the very definition of a record that grows on you. Of course I’m aware that it will also be somewhat of an acquired taste for most people, but I enjoy this more than I thought I would so maybe you will to?

Give 0 a listen – you may surprise yourself.

Aires – Aires (Review)

AiresAires are from Portugal and present us with Ambient Drone.

I find that I have to be in a certain mood for this kind of music, but sometimes, usually later at night, it’s nice to kind of switch off and relax to something like this.

The good thing about Aires is that there is almost a hint of underlying melody. The music slowly and very precisely changes, almost imperceptibly at first.

The first track Orgânico I – Vozes Sem Corpo, and also the longest, does a good job of relaxing and soothing the listener, whilst at the same time adding a subtle tense undercurrent that implies a hidden, lurking sense of danger without actually following through all the way to fully disturb the reverie.

Second track Orgânico II – Monolítico continues this vague sense of unease but this time as the central underlying theme, with moments of texture and electronic pseudo-language swimming in and out of the turbulent waters.

The third, Isósceles, is a mere interlude, a clash of piano and noise; between beautiful hope and harsh honest truth.

And then finally we get to the last track – Contraplacado. This is my favourite of the songs, and is best described as a kind of Ambient Post-Metal track. By this I mean that it has the same kind of ebb and flow, build and release quality that’s a staple of Post-Metal, but obviously all achieved through Ambient noise-work and soundscapes. It ends the release with a sweeping flourish and a more hopeful tone.

Sit back, relax and let the sounds of Aires wash over you.

Taurus – No/Thing (Review)

TaurusTaurus are from the US and play experimental Drone/Doom with Psychedelia and Blackened influences.

This is genre-bending Doom full of ideas and Psychedelic darkness. The songs sound as if they have leaked from some sonic other-dimension and are strange translations of another musical language that can’t exist in its original form in our world.

Varied and strange vocals pierce the heady shroud of the music and are used as effects or instruments rather than traditional voices. A sound collage of extreme vocalisations set to unhinged music describing who knows what.

Twisting, angular rhythms and unusual soundscapes collide to produce Avant-Garde extremity and hypnotic time lapsed aural events. Taurus try to both lull and shock at the same time, producing an unexpected listening environment where transcendence is waved before you only to be snatched away and replaced with a veiled fist.

Each of these 5 songs is a nihilistic trip into other cultures that may or may not exist in our reality. It is a privilege to experience these slices of unreality and the band know this, revelling in their status as elite tour guides to places alternate.

Listen to Taurus if you have the constitution and self-confidence to explore uncharted climes and return unscathed. Enjoy reality while you have it.

Sunn 0))) & Ulver – Terrestrials (Review)

Sunn 0))) & UlverThis is a collaboration between Sunn 0))) and Ulver, both well-respected artists in their own right. This is a worthy collaboration resulting in brilliance.

The first track Let There Be Light starts off slow and minimalistic, with a lone saxophone forlornly reaching out from a fog. It builds up and up until the only real way to describe it is to use words such as epic and cinematic. So there we are – epic and cinematic music.

Second song Western Horn is an ominous journey through dark corridors where the lights have all been smashed by persons unknown, for reasons unknown. It’s an eerie place and even though you suspect that you can sense salvation just on the edge of your hearing the overarching feeling of black despair is weighing down on you. You end up crawling through the maze of abandoned doorways crying to yourself, hoping that someone will save you and fearing that they will not. This song sounds like that.

The third and final track Eternal Return is a lengthy foray into ghostly melodics and features the only vocals on the album. Feeling like a twisted, warped version of Laura Palmer’s Theme by Angelo Badalamenti from the Twin Peaks soundtrack; it evokes similar feelings and drips hypnotic beauty.

An album for lonely nights. An album for sleep’s dark embrace.

Pogrom – This Is What I’ve Always Wanted (Review)

PogromFrom the darkest reaches of Canada, Pogrom appears like a moving shadow on the horizon.

This Is What I’ve Always Wanted contains one track of the same name that lasts 32 minutes and envelops the listener in a bleak landscape of futility and despair. This is Drone Doom designed to unnerve and disturb through the application of aural stress.

It starts off with a basis of tension and preserves this throughout, adding noises and effects as the track creeps along. The feeling is one of electrified pressure being applied and the corresponding mood evoked is surprisingly effective.

I’m not a massive fan of Drone as usually it just doesn’t do it for me, but I did enjoy this as I like the fraught atmosphere that is both created and sustained. This is like an extended soundtrack to a film scene intent on raising the tension levels and then keeping them there throughout.

It all builds to a head where the release comes through a bass-heavy fuzzed out Black Metal vocal assault to end the track, successfully dissipating the mood and allowing the horror you’ve been expecting to finally appear.

If you’re a fan of Drone then you should love this. If however you’re not usually a fan, then check this out anyway as it’s done well and is all about the atmosphere.

Unexpectedly good.

Bismuth – The Eternal Marshes (Review)

BismuthThis is a little something for all those who worship at the altar of sloooooow. Almost a UK version of Burning Witch/Khanate; the basic template should be familiar to anyone into this kind of doom, although Bismuth inject enough of  their own personal brand of misery and woe into the music to differentiate it from their peers.

This is a one-track release lasting 16 minutes and every single minute is a hymn to distortion and doom. Bass, drums and tortured screeching.

Slow and agonised; the music drags itself into the darkest corner of your forgotten fears and festers, waiting patiently and growing all of the time. Occasional screams of growing pains punctuate this hidden time bomb of malignancy like something trying to escape, but ultimately realising the futility.

This is doom. This is slow, bass-heavy, doom. There is nothing else.

Monolithe – Interlude Second (Review)

MonolitheAnother solid release from Monolithe. They really do play some exceptional doom. After recently getting their Monolithe II album I knew this was going to be good and I was not disappointed.

If you have not encountered Monolithe before they play crawling, mysterious Doom with an emphasis on the heavy.

This is only a two-track EP ‘interlude’ between their main releases, but there is still over 36 minutes of music here – all of it of a high quality and well worth a purchase. Monolithe are not a band for everyone – the repetitive drone-esque heaviness will just be more than some people can stomach. Never-the-less; devotees of all things slow will find a goldmine of doom to be found in their work, and this EP is fitting as a good introduction to the band and as preparation for the doom-a-thons that are their albums.

Interested? Have a listen and then hop over to Bandcamp to get it – it’s currently only €0.50 and an absolute steal at that price.