Monolithe – Zeta Reticuli (Review)

MonolitheMonolithe are a French doom band, and this is their sixth album.

Monolithe are no stranger to this site, having been covered previously here, here and here. This latest album is the second part, a companion release, as it were, to their last one, Epsilon Aurigae, and continues their evolution away from their original funeral doom style into uncharted territories.

Like Epsilon Aurigae, Zeta Reticuli sees the band keeping aspects of funeral doom, but adding increasingly progressive influences to their sound. It also sees them keeping the same format – three songs, 15:00 minutes each, exactly. Continue reading

Monolithe – Epsilon Aurigae (Review)

MonolitheMonolithe are a French Doom band. This is their fifth album.

This is somewhat of a departure from the normal Monolithe style in more ways than one. Previously specialising in hugely-long forays into cosmic Funeral Doom, (such as Interlude Second and Zero/II), here we have three songs, (each exactly 15 minutes long), more muted, subtly-mysterious artwork and music that has undergone a slight change in direction too.

Although Epsilon Aurigae is musically not a complete change, it is markedly less Funeral Doom and instead travels down a more Progressive Doom Metal pathway. Elements of their Funeral Doom past are still apparent in the songs of course, with emotive content and subtle, (and not), keyboards still a mainstay of their sound. On this release though, this is added to and enhanced by other influences that give the band an even more well-rounded sound than they had previously.

The deep, dark, growled vocals punctuate the music like storm clouds over a choppy, violent ocean. The music moves with a sure inevitability underneath the aggressively overcast skies like an unstoppable force. The music does sound like a force of nature, albeit one that’s manufactured and artificial rather than being entirely natural; a force of unnature, if you will.

This is an impressive development in Monolithe’s sound and Epsilon Aurigae is quite possibly some of their best work to date.

Highly recommended.

Sorxe – Surrounded by Shadows (Review)

SorxeSorxe are from the US and play Sludge/Doom.

Two bassists? Layered vocals? Textured soundscapes? Heavy as fuck Doom? Yes please!

Sorxe have a crushing sound that’s befitting of a band who have double the normal number of bass guitars. This is as monolithic and colossal as you might imagine. The music is expansive with Progressive Doom tendencies and has a warm and heavy sound. Surrounded by Shadows has strong ambitions and the talent to see them through.

Special note should be made of the vocals, as they are diverse and wide ranging in their style. The singer shouts and bellows his voice raw, uses powerful semi-cleans and even manages soft crooning. It’s extremely impressive.

The songs on this album combine the unbearably heavy with the richly evocative and highly emotive. The band seem adept at switching from crushing passages to sections of energetic feeling seamlessly. Each song is highly accomplished and the band have truly unleashed something special.

The instruments are all used creatively and the synth effects add a further layer to their already involved sound.

Surrounded by Shadows combines elements of bands like Neurosis, Ufomammut, Electric Wizard, Yob, Isis and Mastodon to create an album that spends as much time destroying the listener via harsh sounds as it does through emotional weight.

These songs are diverse and well-written. They resonate with feeling and are richly textured and layered. This album has the complete package and offers a holistic, cohesive listening experience.

A stunning début that I’ll be playing for a long time to come. Essential listening.

Blackwolfgoat – Drone Maintenance (Review)

BlackwolfgoatThis is the third album from Blackwolfgoat who hail from the US.

This is Progressive Doom/Drone. I have enjoyed the previous Blackwolfgoat release Dronolith, and Drone Maintenance continues the core sound only with more variety than previously. Everything is still focused around the electric guitar but now there are added sounds and instruments, including acoustics, percussion and even the odd vocal.

Drone Maintenance is an enjoyably diverse release that comes off almost like one of the more commercial Electronica/Techno releases in the feel of the tracks, how they are made up, what they consist of and the diversity of delivery and expression – the only caveat to this of course is instead of this being delivered in an Electronica/Techno style it’s delivered in a Doom/Drone style. This impression is further increased by the various interludes and samples, etc. that are included on the album. The point is that this is an accomplished release that covers many bases and moods in the 37 minutes playing time.

The semi-concept of the album, (summed up essentially by the title and the lovely artwork), is also a pleasing one.

The musical journey that Drone Maintenance takes the listener on is one of subtle highlights and carefully crafted nuance. Sadly, this album is never going to have a huge audience and will probably be dismissed by the average music fan. This is a huge shame as it’s relatively easy listening and is orders of magnitude better than most of the nonsense that passes as popular music these days.

Blackwolfgoat has a massive amount of potential, most of which will go unrealised in the wider musical scene. Make sure that you don’t miss out though; get listening to this now.

Narrow House – Thanathonaut (Review)

Narrow HouseUkrainian band Narrow House play Progressive Doom and this is their second album.

This is varied and atmospheric Doom, with elements of their Funeral Doom past widened and expanded to included a much larger musical framework.

Playing heavy, dark and slow is still a feature for the band, however, but now they also use additional tools in their toolbox, including non-standard Doom implements such as choirs, saxophone, cello and contrabass, as well as orchestration, piano, keys, etc. that are more typical of the style.

A lot of the songs are more upbeat and have more of a Progressive feel to them. Some tracks such as The Midwife to Sorrows, for example, still have Doom aspects but can also be thought of as Progressive Metal songs with slow parts.

The songs are surprisingly short but still manage to pack a lot in. Narrow House are high on content and depth where they are lacking in length of song. The level of orchestration, effects and additional instrumentation on the tracks mean that each song is densely packed with layer upon layer of musical interest.

The clean vocals are dirge-like and full of depth and authority, whilst the occasional growls are low key but powerful.

This album is a surprise as I wasn’t sure what to expect from the band. From the Progressive Metal-style album cover to the name that gives nothing away, this is an atypical release in many respects. This is a very good thing, as the band have produced an extremely good album that manages to ably differentiate itself from the ravening hordes whilst keeping quality levels high and having a lot of personality and colour.

This will probably be a bit too left of centre for some Doom fans, which is a shame as this is a remarkable release that deserves a wider audience. This is a hugely impressive album that won’t settle for being average and definitely stands out in a sea of mediocrity.

Listen with an open mind and you’ll find that Narrow House have produced quite the corker.

Essential listening.