Animus Mortis – Testimonia (Review)

Animus MortisAnimus Mortis are a Chilean Black Metal band and this is their second album.

This is an intriguing blend of Progressive and Post-Black Metal that lasts 40 minutes and makes a very good impression. It’s Black Metal for the modern age, taking influence from the aforementioned sub-genres to add to their Blackened pot, creating something unusual.

This sits nicely alongside albums from bands like Entropia, Thaw, Outre, Hope Drone, Tempel, Decline of the I, Wayfarer, Deafheaven and many others that play Black Metal with a non-standard spin on things. Bands such as these take up the mantle of Post-Black Metal, (willingly or not), to expand their musical horizons and add to their Blackened palette.

Chants, screams, growls and all manner of other vocalisations are used to great effect to provide a rich vocal performance. These are multifaceted and varied, allowing the singer ample avenues for exploration and experimentation. Wailing, shrieking and moaning torment appear to be his choicest methods of delivery; these are frequently layered on top of each other to create a nightmarish juxtaposition against the more resplendent music. I imagine it could be somewhat of an acquired taste for some people when confronted with his style, maybe rather preferring the more standard screams that appear less often.

The music is highly emotive and has an understated epic feel to it. It has a heart that’s twisted and warped though, kind of like Deathspell Omega with added Shoegaze. The music can be quite beautiful, with uplifting sections as well as parts that are more barbed and dangerous. The vocals supply the main ugliness and horror to the music, with the singer frequently sounding inhuman or possessed, adding a disturbing aura to the songs.

This is a compelling release due to the fact that it attempts to do something a little different from the norm and largely succeeds. The ubiquitous blast beats, the gleaming guitar melodies and the corrupted vocalisations all merge together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts.

This is music to become entranced by. Let Animus Mortis lift you up and help you explore the less-travelled paths that they wander. It may seem a daunting proposition, but it’s one that’s worth it.

Hope Drone – Cloak of Ash (Review)

Hope DroneHope Drone are an Australian Post-Black Metal band. This is their début album.

Well this is a long one; 7 tracks across 77 minutes. Hope Drone don’t do things by halves it seems. But then why should they? This kind of music demands complete immersion and Cloak of Ash provides ample opportunity for this.

The music has a Black Metal base onto which is built Post-Black Metal wanderings and Atmospheric Sludge Metal influences.

Hope Drone take the Cascadian Black Metal template and use it to fashion themselves a wide-reaching, emotive album that’s highly textured and richly delivered. All speeds and tempos are catered to as well as heavier and lighter sections, which means that Cloak of Ash is a diverse and pleasurable listen that succeeds in painting in shades of darkness and light.

The Black Metal is never too far from the surface. Even the Post-Metal and Sludge/Doom elements of their sound have that Blackened twinge to them, although that doesn’t stop them from dripping with a darkened beauty. The band can play ugliness and aggression extremely well, but there are enough moments of resplendent glory and delicate allure here that it’s easy to become mesmerized with the band’s hypnotic performance.

The lighter elements are augmented with some Ambient/Drone interludes. When these segue gently into incredibly effective mid-paced atmospherics it’s a very uplifting and transcendental experience. Of course, I’m aware that words like transcendental get bandied around far too often when describing bands like Hope Drone, but it fits like a glove and conveys the appropriate feeling that the band can sometimes create.

The agonised screams are harsh and unforgiving, reminding you that no matter how the music sounds or where it takes you, this is still music forged from the underworld.

Hope Drone have truly created a wonderfully realised piece of Blackened art. I’m thoroughly impressed and completely in thrall to it.

An essential listen.