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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Brain Tentacles – Brain Tentacles (Review)

Brain TentaclesBrain Tentacles are an experimental/avant-garde/jazz/grind/doom metal band from the US. This is their debut album.

Experimental/avant-garde/jazz/grind/doom metal is a bit of a mouthful, and in all honesty doesn’t even properly do justice to the sounds that this album contains at any rate.

In addition to the usual drums and bass you’ll also find synth, piano and horns on this release. But no guitars. Continue reading

Pogavranjen – Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem (Review)

PogavranjenPogavranjen are a Croatian avant-garde Post-Black Metal band and this is their third album.

Pogavranjen are one of many Post-Black Metal bands who are not content with the base genre and are intent on pushing boundaries and experimenting with the genre to help them get to the sound they want. In this case, this means twisting the core style in avant-garde, progressive, jazz and psychedelic ways, mutating it into the end result on Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem.

In addition to the standard instruments, the band use keyboards, synths, trumpets and trombones to achieve their vision. All of these are well-played and the musicians clearly know what they’re doing, whether it’s playing more straightforward parts, more involved, jazz-inspired free-form chaos, or building atmosphere with grim intent.

Coming across as a curious mix of Ephel Duath, Arcturus, Manes and Solefald, the band spend 45 minutes building up intricate and textured soundscapes, taking the listener on a compelling journey into the abyss.

The vocals mainly consist of well-performed cleans that are full of presence and an authoritarian charisma. They immediately catch the attention and provide a focal point while the music travels down multiple paths of darkened delights.

Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem is a real slow-burner of an album, requiring multiple listens to truly give up its secrets, and even then it keeps some back, jealous of its esoteric knowledge. It’s worth the effort though, as Pogavranjen’s avant-garde stylings are definitely on the right-side of quirky and this album is full of impressive sounds and moods.

Recommended.

Convulsif – CD3 (Review)

ConvulsifConvulsif are from Switzerland and this is their third album.

Well this is quite insane. Imagine Ephel Duath, Fantômas, Blut Aus Nord, Atomsmasher and Sunn 0))) all working together to bring on the apocalypse…it’s intense.

The recording is first rate, with everything sounding clear and precise, but not overly so. I especially like the bass presence, which provides a full contribution to the aural chaos.

This features eclectic Metal, freestyle Jazz and Progressive workouts as well as Drone/Doom sections, all plastered together in a melange of Blackened undertones. What to classify this as? Who knows, but it’s pretty damn good. I suppose you could loosely term it Experimental Black Metal, but Convulsif are a band that genre tags just don’t work for.

There are no guitars, which makes CD3 an even more interesting listening experience. Instead, we get drums, bass, clarinet, violins and electronica. Just what the (mad) doctor ordered.

And when you think you’ve heard it all, they do something else that makes you sit up and take notice. The unexpected, demented screaming that suddenly appears just when you’ve taken them for an instrumental band is a case in point.

This is highly creative and individual music that nonetheless manages to create coherent atmospheres across these 29 minutes. The eerie sounds and otherworldly noises emanating from this recording is a testament to the talent of the individuals involved in its birth.

CD3 just needs to be experienced. This is challenging, interesting music that demands your attention.

I love this. What’s not to love? You’ll love it too. LOVE IT!

Singularity – Singularity (Review)

SingularityThis is the debut album from US Black Metal band Singularity.

Technical Black Metal is not the most common of sub-genres, especially Symphonic Technical Black Metal, which is what this essentially is.

The synths are heavy and thick and give the band a colourful sheen under which to ply their trade. Said trade consists of sharp, crazy guitar work, widdly bass and precision-point drums. It’s as if a band like Dimmu Borgir had overdosed on Technical Death Metal and angular riffs in the style of some of Mayhem’s work. It also puts me in mind of the first Ephel Duath album.

The songs are still here though. This is an enjoyable riff-fest with inhuman drumming and layers of atmosphere and jagged darkness.

The technicality and Blackened atmospheres combine in a way that most bands never attempt and the resulting mix of styles works primarily because they never sacrifice the songs for the riffs. The playing is very impressive but the Black Metal framework always reins them in before they become overbearing or surplus to the needs of the song.

That being said, there is certainly a lot of flash playing on this album, but as I say – it works.

The tracks are quite varied as the guitars never stop and are always interesting and entertaining. The singer gives his all to the screams; they’re high pitched and very pointed. The cleans that appear are professionally delivered also; another string to Singularity’s impressive bow.

The production is top quality and everything sounds crisp and clear. You can really hear every note.

Singularity is extremely impressive in many ways. I always like a band that puts a different spin on things and the rampant technicality on this album really gives them a flavour all of their own. The fact that they mix this with a Symphonic base and have managed to produce an enjoyable set of songs without everything sounding messy or forced speaks volumes about their talent.

Take a chance on this and listen to it now.

Super Massive Black Holes – Calculations of the Ancients (Review)

Super Massive Black HolesCanadian band Super Massive Black Holes play Experimental/Progressive Jazzy Death Metal, and this is their début album.

This is bright and shiny music that’s technical but also slightly whimsical in nature; there’s something of the Devin Townsend about it.

The band manage to mix disparate elements of Devin Townsend, Opeth, Ephel Duath, Gojira and Cephalic Carnage; schizoid jazzy breakdowns, atmospheric interludes, Stoner vibe rockathons, pseudo-Grind workouts and heavy melodic cyber Metal all collide on this album.

The songs are surprisingly cohesive for all this. Sometimes an idea or a section can feel a bit half-formed or unfinished, however, although from the sound of it this could very well be intentional; to keep the listener guessing or to stop them becoming complacent?

The vocals are mainly between a shout and a growl, with the vocalist reminding a little of the singer of Gorod, or even Gojira on occasion, only not quite as emotive.

I like this album, although it definitely needs time to reveal its charms and won’t be to all tastes. Give them a listen and see what you think.

Epistasis – Light Through Dead Glass (Review)

EpistasisEpistasis are a US band that play experimental Metal.

It’s relatively hard to classify; combining elements of Black Metal, Hardcore and Progressive Metal. With a trumpet.

Let me see…if you take the urban decay and atmospheric barrage of a band like Red Harvest, mix in the experimental extremity from some of Converge’s work and add splashes of Ephel Duath you’ll be on the right lines. Add to that a singer who screams with the best of the Black Metal/Scream-core elite and you’ll have a package for a very interesting and gratifying release.

There is a lot going on in these songs and although they have brutality and intensity in spades they also offer a whole lot more than that. When they want to they can be very atmospheric and create darkened moods ripe with promise of arcane fulfilment, if only the price is right of course.

The use of the trumpet is inspired and is nowhere near as intrusive and incongruous as you might expect; its contributions are relatively subtle and work wonders in adding a further layer to their labyrinthine sound.

Unfortunately this release is only 26 minutes long, which is a shame as the band clearly have a lot to offer. However what they do give us as exceptional and worthy of repeat listens.

Individual and distinctive. Highly recommended.

Interview with Barishi

Barishi BandBarishi have recently released their self-titled début album, the review of which you can see here. A harsh, angular, progressive Metal treasure trove; this is an album with a lot to give to those who crave experimentation and music that forges its own path. Their guitarist was nice enough to answer some questions I threw at him…

Hi! For people who are unfamiliar with your band please introduce yourself!

Hi, I am Graham Brooks, I play guitar in Barishi. We are from a town called Jamaica, Vermont. We have been playing together in various forms since high school, about four years ago.

What are your main influences?

My favorite metal band is Iron Maiden, I am also a Beatles nut. We are all big Mastodon and Meshuggah fans. Jon (our bassist) and I are both really influenced by bands like The Cure and MBV. Our singer Sascha is a huge funk fan and also is a Queen and Led Zeppelin fanatic. We draw from a lot of those bands and a lot more that I can’t think of right now.

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

I have been listening to “So” by Peter Gabriel. I think it is incredible. I am sure a lot of full-metalists wouldn’t be into it but I think it is a great album. I have been digging on this band called “Anciients” who kill it and a band from chicago called “Yakuza.” I highly recommend both if you are looking for some metal that comes out of left field.

You have an unusual sound that fuses Progressive Metal with more 70’s-style Proggy vibes, all wrapped up in with elements of more modern avant-garde bands such as Ephel Duath, (at least to my ears anyway!), how did you go about deciding on the sound that you wanted as a band?

Barishi BandCool! Honestly we never really talked about what type of sound we wanted to go for. I think we sound the way we do because we never had one of those talks. Some of the songs that we like playing the most came about because someone in the band wrote something that made us say “I don’t know if that would work in a heavy band” and then we would try it and it would sound cool. I think the freedom to do that had a big impact on how we sound.

I love the angular guitar work on this release. How do you write your songs? What’s the process involved?

One of us usually has a riff or something that they will come into practice with and then we will just try to expand on it. We don’t really have any method or go about writing in an organized fashion. Sometimes it can be a shit show because we will be writing 3 different songs that we think sound cool and we will end up abandoning all of them because we get overwhelmed with all the little parts that are floating around.

After seeing the album art and band pictures, your album surprised me slightly as it contains more harsh and more abrasive moments than I was expecting. Was it a conscious decision to embrace the heavier aspects of music just as much as the more mellow/melodic aspects?

I think we just naturally got heavier. We play with a ton of bands who are way heavier than we are and I think some of it rubbed off on us.

With an eclectic and diverse album like this I can imagine possibly having parts of it that were potentially divisive when creating it – where there many discussions in the band about which parts to keep/throw out/change/etc.?

We wrote a lot of stuff that did not end up on the record. Usually when we did not end up using something it was because we just were not digging it that hard. We try to keep the songwriting process as democratic as possible. If someone really does not like a part or song we usually will end up changing or discarding it. Fortunately everyone in the band understands and it doesn’t require a long talk most of the time.

Barishi BandAre you happy with the finished album? Is there anything you would change next time?

I am. We had a lot of fun recording together and I think the album represents what we were doing for the past year. Brian Westbrook who produced the album is an amazing musician and producer. Thanks to Brian the album sounds way better than we ever thought it would. In terms of things I would like to change, I would really like to record an album down-tuned. It adds a really guttural element that I love.

As I said in the review; my favourite track is Through Mountains, Through Plains. It’s brilliant. This is less of a question more of a comment really! This is also the longest song on the album – do you see yourself going for more of the longer, epic-style tracks in the future?

Thanks so much for the kind words. I love writing long songs. I am sure that we will have some longer songs in the future.

What does the future hold for Barishi?

Hopefully a lot of touring. We love playing shows, it is our favorite thing to do. I think all we want is to play as much as possible and keep on recording. Hopefully at some point we will find a label that is a good match.

Thanks for your time Graham!