Horizon – Don’t Let The Time Pass You By (Review)

HorizonHorizon is a one-man project from Finland. This is his second EP.

This is a short release containing Ambient soundscapes, Neo-Classical sounds and moments of Shoegaze that are all perfectly suited to night time reflection and introspection.

By its very nature a release such as this will be atmospheric and emotive and Horizon does a good job of playing to the innate strengths of the style.

There is also a good amount of variety of composition and delivery apparent in these 5 songs. We get ambient textures, piano, drums, bass, electronica, guitars and other sounds all used to create a vivid palette of emotional resonance with the listener.

This is strongly written music and creates the right mood of darkness with a hint of light; music for when night is starting to fade and dawn is approaching.

The compositions are mature and although they have elements of melancholy the overall beauty of the tracks doesn’t let this become overly negative.

The slight Electronica influence is subtle enough to have a positive impact on the songs without becoming stifling or overwhelming; rather it’s another string to the artist’s bow that he uses to enhance the songs and give them a modern flavour.

This is a very good EP and my only real criticism, such as it is, is that it’s a very short release. Apparently he’s working on a full album so hopefully this will make an appearance at some point in the future. Keep a close watch for it.

In the meantime, get a hold of this little gem. Sit back, relax and take it all in.

Interview with Frozen Ocean

Frozen Ocean

Frozen Ocean have recently released the impressive album The Dyson Swarm. It’s a surprisingly effective release that mixes Black Metal with Electronica/Industrial sounds. Finding out a bit more was the next order of business…

Give us a bit of history to Frozen Ocean.

I am afraid this history won’t be very epic. Frozen Ocean was founded in 2005 in Moscow, Russia, as a solo project of me and was intended to play black metal related stuff. After recording of the first demo “Snow is the Ash” I decided to make something different and dug into dark and drone ambient fields, in which the very first official release, “Depths of Subconscious” was produced. Later the project returned to black metal related music, but next started to bounce from style to style (or a mix of ones) from one release to next.

What are your influences?

Too hard to distinguish, because for every release they are different. In general I have always admired Ulver, how they had their versatility through artistic evolution and simultaneously kept the highest level they achieved. In particular, the musician who inspired me to start making my own works is Mikael “Vaalkoth” Baiyusik from Tearstained, Night Conquers Day, Into The Sunless Meridian and Shadowcaster.

What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

The album that could become “release-of-the-year” in my personal charts – “Existence” by Australian progressive death metal band Aeon of Horus. Also I would like to recommend to everyone the last work of Russian industrial brutal death metal band 7 H.Target called “0.00 Apocalypse”; this album will crush you to dust.

What did you want to achieve with your new album?

At least to have a wider reception and recognition for the project worldwide. I had a hope that this kind of experiment would be something relatively fresh and original (as far as is possible nowadays) and thus attractive to a listener.

Are you happy with how it turned out?

As always, the reception and feedback could be wider, but I am quite happy with the existing one. In the modern music world nobody can predict the audience’s answer for your musical proposal. And of course things get more complicated when you present some stuff that lies outside of trends. So that is great that some people have found this album attractive and listened to it more than one time; I think that is the best approval for the musician.

Frozen OceanWhat can you tell us about the concept behind the album?

“The Dyson Swarm” is devoted to close and outer space, and the place of humanity in it. It is built like a journey through the cosmos beginning on the Earth orbit and Solar system and longing to the known edge of Universe and further beyond, and each track describes some phenomenon or object you could face during that journey. Album’s title is describing one of the variant of Dyson sphere – a gigantic hypothetical astro-engineering construction the purpose of which is to utilize the radiated energy of the central star in a star system in the most efficient way. Humanity’s future, on the certain stage of its development and raising level of energy consumption, is hardly imaginable without stuff of that kind.

Give us a bit of information on the songwriting process

The whole thing begins from the conception of release, and when I have the whole picture and structure of album in my head, I start making songs for it. When all the songs are recorded, at least in some scaffold state (without some parts or instruments), I take a listen to the whole yet incomplete release, and decide what and where should be added or changed to fulfill the requirements of the general idea. Thus I get the release united under one concept, but with the distinctive songs. Speaking about the production, all the steps of the production are performed by me in my home studio.

How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?

It will be something new, as usual, at least it will be different from things Frozen Ocean presented earlier. I will continue to shift shapes and styles, continue to experiment with merging of musical directions for the best representation of release concepts and emotional colouring of them. For instance, I will develop the usage of folk instruments started earlier (when I played mandolin on “Autumn Bridges”) and try to add them to electronics and metal in equal ratio.

What’s next for Frozen Ocean?

Soon Italian label Bylec-Tum productions will release the whole “Norse” Trilogy on one tape for true underground activists. Next plans are too loose to reveal, but they include the very first Frozen Ocean vinyl release.

Thanks!

We Have A Ghost – We Have A Ghost (Review)

We Have A GhostWe Have A Ghost are from the US and this is their début.

The band play Electronica/Industrial-laced Rock. Think Nine Inch Nails/Mogwai/Ulver and you’re on the right lines.

Other points of reference include the little-known/remembered Electronic Rock band Vitro, who released an excellent album named Distort in 1999 of a similar style, as well as the fantastic experimental Paradise Lost album Host.

This is surprisingly complex music that weaves elaborate soundscapes around itself like a cloak of static and charged beats.

Atmosphere and tone are an important part of the We Have A Ghost sound, as well as fostering a futuristic sense of mystery.

A feeling of foreboding is hidden throughout this album. Sometimes it’s hidden underneath energetic sections and other times it’s right out there in the open.

This reminds me of the build-and-release style of Post-Rock/Metal if it had been given an Electronic/Industrial overhaul and the build/release sections were chopped up, warped and separately focused down into shorter songs.

Varied and expansive, this is a great listen, especially if you’re in the mood for something a bit different. The entire thing plays out like some form of soundtrack and the album is suitably cinematic in scope in this regard.

A slow builder that impresses on first listen but nonetheless really shows its charms after repeated spins; this album is a keeper.

Check this out – highly recommended.

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.

Frozen Ocean – The Dyson Swarm (Review)

Frozen OceanThis is the eighth album from Russian band Frozen Swarm.

The band play atmospheric Black Metal/Ambient.

They open with Syzygy which is a wonderfully composed piece of Dark Ambient that sounds straight out of a science fiction film and is a great piece of music.

The second track CE-4 starts in a similar vein until the addition of drums and light Black Metal-esque guitars add a gentle beat to the emerging aural tapestry.

Vocals are present, very much low-key and used like another instrument.

The Sci-Fi/cosmos-themed album is powerfully atmospheric with Black Metal, Electronica and quasi-Industrial sounds merging with a cinematic soundscape to create and involving and absorbing journey into deep space and beyond.

This album has surprised and impressed me.

Sovereign Council – New Reign (Review)

Sovereign CouncilCanadian band Sovereign Council play Power/Symphonic Metal.

Well, it’s happened again. Another band from Canada who fooled me into thinking they would be another Nightwish et al rip off, (due to lazy assumptions on my part from descriptions of the band), whereas in reality there’s a lot more going on here. They’re not female fronted for a start.

Along with the recent album from Merkabah, they must be doing something very right in Canada, as even though the two bands don’t sound massively alike they both come from the Power/Symphonic mould and the Canadian scene at the moment seems a hotbed of talent.

The band play their music competently and have the right idea with the music. The symphonics and keyboards are relatively subdued for this genre; you can definitely hear them of course but they’re not over the top. The band also have a bit of an electronica influence here and there which adds a nice touch.

The main male vocals are restrained and confident; no show boating here just quality emotive singing. The female backing vocals add a layer of texture and colour to the songs, and are not anywhere near as ubiquitous as the descriptions would have you believe. Mix this with a few harsher screams and growls and it all comes together as a package quite nicely.

Sovereign Council are also savvy enough to know that ultimately this is all about the Metal and don’t bury the guitars under the admittedly talented vocals. Instead the two walk side by side, with the guitars being just as prominent as the vocals, as they should be.

Check this band out and give them your support.

Interview with Lethe

Lethe LogoLethe have been responsible for one of the best multi-textural dark-Rock albums of some time in their début album When Dreams Become Nightmares. I asked them some questions to see how it all came about…

Hi! For those who are unfamiliar with your band, introduce yourself!

Tor-Helge Skei (THS): Hi everybody! We are Lethe.. 🙂 We’re a Norwegian/Swiss band, or project, consisting of Anna Murphy (Eluveitie, solo, Fräkmundt, nucleus torn, and heaps of other bands/projects) and Tor-Helge Skei (Manes, Manii, Kkoagulaa, etc.).

As Lethe is comprised of members of other bands, how did this project come about?

THS: Mostly by chance, actually. I posted something on my blog a while ago, about me thinking abut doing an album of cover songs, and wondering where I could start looking for vocalists and contributors to that. Shortly after, I got an email from Anna, and we almost immediately started working on a few songs (among others, ‘Hutterite Mile’ by 16 Horsepower). It didn’t take long before we just knew we had to do more music together…and the idea about Lethe was born..

Anna Murphy (A): A journalist (singer of Three Days of Silence) contacted me because Tor-Helge was looking for musical collaborators. So we got in touch, started on some music, finished some cover songs and decided to do a real project.

Lethe 1Is it important to keep Lethe a fully separate entity from Manes/Eluveitie?

THS: The chemistry in the various bands and between the members are quite different, and that influences how we approach music and presentation and everything, so there’s not much real effort being done keeping them separate, really. It comes naturally.

A: Well with Eluveitie it’s pretty obvious that Lethe has nothing to do with it apart from some members maybe pitching in from time to time, but Lethe and Manes share a lot of the same collaborators so there’s more connection there. I can imagine doing shows together and combined things like that, but of course they’re still to be looked at as separate projects.

What were the influences you drew on for the sound of Lethe?

THS: Oh, the usual, I guess. Life, death, mental processes, nightmares. Everything that happen/s/ed in our lives.

A: Lyrically as well as musically we have no limits, that’s probably what influences us most, because then we can draw inspiration from everywhere 🙂

The songs are multi-textured and very well composed. How did the writing process work for this album?

Lethe aloneTHS: I can only speak for myself, but it’s quite similar to how the ‘writing’ is done in the other bands/projects I’m involved with…chaotic, unplanned, whimsical…the music kind of grows on its own, and we just follow along 🙂

A: All hail the internet. Most of it was done by exchanging files back and forth. Most of the initial sketches came from Tor-Helge and I built my parts on top of them. To finalize everything and also record some things together I went on a trip to Trondheim.

Do you feel you accomplished what you set out to with this release?

THS: Yeah, since we had no concrete plans for the final result. It was more like pushing it in a direction we would like to see it go.

A: Yes!

What would you do differently next time, if anything?

THS: Hmm.. Anna talks about some smaller mixing and audio issues she would like to do better on the next album, but I don’t hear much of that 🙂 She works in a studio, and is a lot more focused on sound quality and frequencies and stuff like that, while I’m obsessed with the general feeling and mood only. I guess we’ll do it quite similar to how we made this album, but with other songs and ideas, of course. Actually, we’re working on a set of songs for the next album already, even if the first one isn’t officially released yet 😀

A: Nothing except maybe the mixing. I’m not quite 100% happy with it and I’m learning more and more each day so I think the next one will sound better 🙂

How do you feel this album fits into the wider music scene?

THS: A little on ‘the outside’ of everything, I guess. Never been interested in being in the middle of any genres or milieus. For me, the exploration of new and unknown musical paths is massively satisfying and motivating, but I have no idea if the ‘general music listener’ thinks like that. Can’t start focusing on the potential reaction while making music! The only thing that would do, is putting breaks on the creative process. No way.

A: I have no idea if it fits anywhere, but I don’t really care either.

Lethe 2What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?

THS: It’s been a lot of Lethe and Manes lately, of course, because of the new albums from both. Apart from that…varied stuff, mainly…Dälek, Shpongle, Blut Aus Nord, Jega, Ggfh, Billie Holiday, Buddy Rich,

A: Frostmoon Eclipse, they’re cool

What does the future hold for Lethe?

THS: New music, new albums, new personal horror stories.

A: No idea, let’s see! 🙂

Thanks!

Lethe – When Dreams Become Nightmares (Review)

LetheFormed by members of Manes and Eluveitie, Lethe play dark and multi-textured experimental music.

Combining the best parts of Rock, Post-Rock, Electronica and Metal to create 10 tracks of emotive songs that instantly capture your attention while also having enough depth to keep you satiated in the long run. Bands such as Ulver, Arcturus and Manes are the obvious starting points and Lethe should definitely appeal to fans of these groups.

The main vocalist is a very talented person. Her vocals are exceptional and she shows great range across the album. She has great character and talent, and infuses both of these into every song to create the right mood for each. The occasional male vocals that swim in and out of the various tracks simply add another dimension to the proceedings.

The music doesn’t let the side down though – each song is crafted to a high standard by experienced personnel who know exactly what to do to achieve the effect that they want. The songs are passionate and dark, with Gothic Rock stamped all over some of them but not in a commercial stadium-friendly way, rather in a more personal way that allows you to have a relationship with the actual songs rather than some stylised version that will eventually become stale due to overexposure and lack of substance. This is female fronted Rock for people that don’t like female fronted Rock.

This is an astoundingly good album that combines catchiness and intellect to produce sophisticated dark Rock. What a fantastic way to start off 2014.