Idre – Idre (Review)

IdreIdre are from the US and play Doom.

This is made up of two tracks; the first is 26 minutes long and the second 13 minutes long. As you can probably guess this is a band who likes to take their time.

Factorie is the first track and it starts off with a good, solid Doom riff to set the scene, before exploring subtler climes for a while. When the vocals kick in it’s surprising as instead of the gruff shouting I was expecting we get almost County-esque cleans with a dirty intonation. Think of Neurosis, but the vocals even remind of a band like Soul Savers on occasion and add a different aspect to the band that immediately differentiates them from the masses.

The entire song is a meandering exploration of bucolic pastures punctuated with heavier interludes and atmosphere building.  It’s an impressive slow burner and worth the time invested.

The second song is Witch Trial which follows in a similar slow-burning vein with the relaxed vocals coasting on top of the emotive music as the song crests to crescendo. It’s another superbly executed track that is heavily invested with feeling and works its magic subtly.

The recording is unpolished but not in a bad way. It has a very naturalistic sounding production that is slightly too rounded to be called raw and not quite ugly enough to be called filthy. A good word would be earthy, I suppose. It’s a good choice that works well with the music, especially for the charismatic vocals that seem to draw you in with their rustic charms.

This is a very enjoyable and engaging release that feels rather more individual and intimate than other bands who have a sound that makes them feel more sanitised than they might otherwise sound had they a slightly different recording. Idre allows the listener in and lets them get up close and personal with the band. This allows for a special relationship with the music rather than it being simply another musical commodity to be consumed.

And to think, this is merely the début of this talented band. Big things, I tell you, big things.

Obelyskkh – Hymn To Pan (Review)

ObelyskkhThis is the third album by Germany’s Obelyskkh and they play Doom that’s crushing and visceral.

They have an extremely full, heavy sound; like they’re about to birth a special kind of monster into the world.

As well as super-heavy Doom they are also adept at adding a bit of melody into the proceedings to further the depth and richness of their sound. I particularly enjoy these moments in The Ravens where it reminds almost of Agalloch.

Take the Pagan side of Agalloch, mix with some Post-Metal Neurosis elements and wrap in some demolishing Doom and you’re close to the Obelyskkh sound.

The vocals are very impressive; powerful, strong, forceful, full of charisma and with good range and variety – not a weak link to be found.

Importantly these are not just collections of riffs they are actual songs, with plenty of hooks to grab the listener and draw them close. They are, dare I say it, catchy in a lot of ways.

Each track is expertly constructed and well thought-out; designed to create a highly impressive collection of Doom that’s damn near essential for anyone with even a passing interest in this genre.

Compared to most bands this is an album that’s on another level entirely. Prepare to meet one of your new favourite bands.

Stoneburner – Life Drawing (Review)

StoneburnerStoneburner are a Sludge/Doom band from the US and Life Drawing is their second album.

The band combine aggressive Sludge with minimal Doom in a pleasing and refreshing way, taking elements of the masters such as Eyehategod and Neurosis and combing them with an eclectic mix of bands like Electric Wizard, Warhorse and even a splash of Isis on occasion.

They have a punchy, buoyant sound for a group of this type, with the guitars seemingly larger than life and ready to pop out of the speakers at a moment’s notice. For all this vibrancy however theirs is a filthy sound, mired in dirt and caked in sin.

The vocals are low-in-the-mix rumbles that sound as if something lurking just underneath the surface is threatening to break through and wreak havoc, yet is restrained by the thick, syrupy music.

The songs are free form expressions of the darker side of life where not everything works out in the end. The album cover is quite evocative and one can imagine this album chronicling the life and times of the figure in the painting. Which is possibly why the album sounds so bleak, yet with moments of uplift; even in a drab life there are moments of colour. Of course the actual lyrics are probably about something completely different, but this is my impression and it seems to fit the mood of the album.

At over 66 minutes in length this is a long and rewarding journey through a damaged life that culminates in the final, epic track The Pheonix. A moment of hope as the final curtain falls? Maybe.

Music to captivate and absorb.

The Lion’s Daughter & Indian Blanket – A Black Sea (Review)

The Lion's Daughter & Indian SummerI’ve been following The Lion’s Daughter for a while now and enjoyed their previous outings into the world of Blackened Sludge, so when I found out they were collaborating on an album with Folk group Indian Blanket I was intrigued.

I wasn’t sure what to expect upon pressing play, but it wasn’t this. I though it might be good, but this? This is a jaw-droppingly stunning album. In much the same way that Panopticon successfully incorporated bluegrass into Black Metal on their album Kentucky; The Lion’s Daughter and Indian Blanket, against all odds, have managed to successfully incorporate Folk into Sludge. The results are as astounding as they are fantastic.

If only I had heard and reviewed this at the end of 2013 it would probably have topped my end-of-year list I can tell you that now.

The album combines heaviness and softness in equal measure, using the best tools for the job depending on the needs of the song. Regardless of style it’s always dark, always emotionally charged and always tinged with melancholy.

Sludge Metal and acoustic passages; blast beats and strings; raw-throat shouts and delicate crooning; it’s all here. Taking the very, very best bits of bands like Neurosis, Isis, Year Of No Light, Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room then combining them with haunting Folk-inspired orchestration and Dax Riggs-style acoustics and vocals; this is a masterpiece of music awaiting discovery by any Metal fan looking for the best in unconventional heavy music.

To the cynical reader this may all smack of hyperbole, but the simple fact is that I absolutely love this album and it really is just that good. Do yourself a favour and get it immediately. 

Absolutely brilliant.