Idre – Unforgiving Landscapes (Review)

IdreIdre are a doom band from the US and this is their second album.

This is the follow up to 2014’s self titled debut, which was an impressive release that provided two tracks of heavily atmospheric and layered music. Continue reading

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Dormansland – After Humanity (Review)

DormanslandThis is the debut album from Dormansland, a solo act from the UK.

Mixing doom, drone, shoegaze and industrial elements into its near-hour long playing time, After Humanity is a reflective and atmospheric work that’s not afraid to put the boot in when it needs to.

The songs on this release gain traction in the mind of the listener the more they are experienced, and are a combination of emotive, subtle affairs, with harsher industrial-edged themes.  Continue reading

Messa – Belfry (Review)

MessaThis is the début album from Messa, a doom/drone metal band from Italy.

Messa provide the listener with almost an hour of occult retro doom and dark ambience.

This is akin to a strange-yet-effective mix of Sunn O))) and Pentagram, with deliciously seductive female vocals included. Some tracks are dark ambient/drone, full of mysterious atmospheres and distorted malice, while others take Continue reading

Druids – Cycles of Mobeum (Review)

DruidsDruids are a doom/sludge metal band from the US and this is their latest album.

Druids take elements of modern bands like Mastodon and Behold! The Monolith and infuse them with an earlier style of doom and blues, as produced by bands like Earth and Black Sabbath.

There’s a quality level of musicianship on Cycles of Mobeum, and this Continue reading

Funeral Moth – Transience (Review)

Funeral MothThis is the second album from Japanese Funeral Doom band Funeral Moth.

Funeral Moth’s music is comprised of sparse, slow riffs that create atmosphere through space and elongated emotion rather than outright heaviness or pure distortion. It’s a slightly different approach than most artists of this ilk adopt, but one that sees the two long tracks on Transience work a, (miserable), treat.

The band this reminds me of most is Earth, if Earth played Funeral Doom and had growled vocals.

The music is introspective and gloriously woeful. It tempts you to lie back and trance out, while the sombre, mournful melodies carry your consciousness off and your body slowly settles into its place in the cold, wet, uncaring soil…

Throughout this slow decline of sentience we get the aforementioned deep growls churning in line with the music. These are both quite traditional in delivery and also subtly different, having a roughness to them that seems sparse and minimalistic, also in line with the music.

A dreamy, seductively calming way to spend 40 minutes. Enjoy.

Sardonis – III (Doom)

SardonisAs the name suggests, this is the third album from Sardonis, who are an instrumental Stoner Doom band from Belgium.

Sardonis combine elements of Stoner Metal, Doom and Sludge into their songs. There’s no vocals, so the emphasis is purely on the music itself.

The album has more variation on it than you might think too. It avoids being a one-dimensional Stoner-fest by adding in elements of these other genres so that the band take you to many different places throughout the journey. The band are obviously equally comfortable playing at all kinds of speeds, and this is another reason that they keep things interesting.

The album has an incredibly warm and textured recording, benefiting their sound by focusing the listener’s attention on what matters.

Huge riffs are a big part of their repertoire, as befitting an instrumental band of this nature. This is not all they’re capable of though, as they also know how to build atmosphere and mood across these 39 minutes.

Occasionally I have mixed feelings about bands that are entirely instrumental; sometimes I think vocals would enhance the music and other times I know it would merely detract from what they have created. With Sardonis I think it’s a mixture of the two, although favouring the latter. Maybe a few added vocals on one or two tracks in a couple of places, leaving the bulk of it instrumental? Regardless, III is a massively enjoyable release and the lack of vocals doesn’t hold it back at all.

Recommended for fans of Karma to Burn, High on Fire, Judd Madden, Lord Dying, Pelican, etc.

Favourite Track: Forward to the Abyss. Because who doesn’t love a 12-minute Pelican-esque Doomathon with a hint of Earth to the guitars?

Lae – Break the Clasp (Review)

LaeLae are from Canada and this is their début album. They play Post-Rock.

Okay, so I say Post-Rock, but not only is that incredibly vague but it also doesn’t really do the band justice, as Lae don’t really sound like you’d probably envisage when you think of Post-Rock. They have an unusual style that’s as enticing as it is seductive.

So, first off I should mention that the band have a very sexy production courtesy of Today is the Day frontman Steve Austin. Apparently he, understandably, became so enamoured with the band’s songs that he ended up providing lead vocals for the entire album. That album is Break the Clasp and the first thing you should know then is that his vocals are stunning.

Haunting cleans are layered together and occasionally enhanced by Austin’s trademark acidic screams to create a performance that’s like a demented lullaby. Breaking the Clasp gives Austin a true platform to demonstrate just how good a singer he actually is.

The music itself is a multi-textured and highly emotive smorgasbord of tasty treats and delights. It’s a hazy, psychedelic mix of Rock and Post-Rock that’s strictly non-conventional and features enough hypnotic melodies to capture your attention forever.

There’s a great variety of mood and feeling to be found here. Doubtless this is not the kind of album to appeal to everyone; it’s not an “instant hit” by any means. It doesn’t suffer from this though, as the songs here have a longevity to be expected of a band who have seemingly taken the best part of over a decade to release their début.

The songs strike a personal note with the listener, drilling down to the core of what’s important in great music; connection, passion and feeling.

Providing band references as comparisons is not easy. Hmm, certain aspects, (but not all by any means – the slower parts mainly), of bands like Today is the Day, Earth, Swans, Fantômas, Angels of Light, etc. are suitable starting points.

Break the Clasp is something of a revelation for me. Albums of this beauty and intrigue don’t come along very often. I’m floored. I love this.

As I write these words it’s nearing the end of 2014, and a lot of amazing album have been released this year. All I know is that Lae will be featuring very highly on my Best of 2014 list.

Achingly necessary.

Earth – Primitive and Deadly (Review)

EarthEarth are from the US and this is their eighth album.

Primitive and Deadly – a great title and possibly a good description, although I’d favour monolithic and intelligent as a better one, (description, certainly not title).

Earth have created an impressively realised down-beat soundscape on this album. After a fair few releases that were very minimalistic and largely on the softer/acoustic scale of things, on Primitive and Deadly they flesh out the sound a bit more, featuring more prominent drums and electric guitar.

The core Earth sound is here and the band’s riffs are intimately familiar, like a long lost friend. Earth have always held somewhat of a hypnotic fascination for me. It’s the kind of music that you can easily lose yourself in. Total immersion music.

The entrancing melodies and slowly unwinding structures belie a thoughtful songcrafting process. This is without a doubt the heaviest Earth album I’ve heard, but it doesn’t detract from the recognisable and innately inner quality that’s 100% Earth.

After a lot of instrumental work on their last few albums it’s also nice, and a little surprising, to hear some vocals included in this release also. Male vocals make an appearance in the second track There is a Serpent Coming and are soulful and dripping with emotion. They instantly remind me of Soulsavers, which is a good thing as it’s Mark Lanegan who does vocals for both. He reappears once more on Rooks Across the Gates with another sterling performance.

Female vocals make an appearance on the third track From the Zodiacal Light courtesy of Rabia Shaheen Qazi of Rose Windows. She’s not someone I’m familiar with, which is something I’ll have to rectify as she has a textured, luxurious voice that sits atop Earth’s hazy, pondering music like the tastiest of sugary treats.

Overall this is a bigger, grander Earth than ever before. Primitive and Deadly is fully-realised and an even richer experience than their already very-high-quality minimalistic work. It’s a revelation to hear a band like this flex their musical muscles and add to their central identity whilst simultaneously keeping their core sound intact.

Flawless and essential; for all fans of everything Doom.