Nyss – Princesse Terre (Three Studies of Silence and Death) (Review)

NyssNyss are a French ambient/atmospheric black metal band and this is their debut album.

Nyss play raw, underground black metal that’s inspired by the second wave, but then fleshed out by atmospheric and ambient influences. Continue reading

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Chiral – Night Sky (Review)

ChiralChiral is an Italian one-man band. This is his second album.

I have enjoyed watching Chiral’s development over the course of his releases that he’s put out so far. From the primitive Proto-Death/Black Metal of Winter Eternal, to the frozen Blackened landscape of Abisso, to the more ambitious Atmospheric Black Metal of his splits with Haate and Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern/Eternal Sleep…the brain behind Chiral as consistently impressed with both the quality of his music and his progression within it.

So what of this latest release then? Showing that he doesn’t sit still, Night Sky continues the previously developed themes of Atmospheric Black Metal, only this time adding a Post-Black Metal element to the music, resulting in an album that favours mood and texture over all else.

For a surface comparison to to other bands, I’d say Night Sky combines elements of Wolves in the Throne Room, Falls of Rauros, Falloch, Vinterriket, and Opeth.

The songs are long and ambitious tracks that show a love of both Black Metal and a more naturalistic sound that is quite atavistic in its realisation. Folk melodies and influences would be an appropriate description, although it feels somehow older than this.

Acoustic passages, Folk instrumentation and Progressive Metal tendencies work together with the icy, Blackened core to create Atmospheric Post-Black Metal that takes in many influences over the 58 minutes of material and ably demonstrates the talent and skill of Chiral.

These songs are slow-builders; ramping up the atmosphere and emotional content over the span of the playing time and layering just enough keyboards and extra instrumentation on top to really provide a consistent sense of space, flavour and feeling.

So there you have it. Another quality Chiral release, his best work yet I’d say.

Fans of Atmospheric Black Metal take note.

Myrkur – M (Review)

MyrkurThis is the début album from this Danish solo Black Metal project, although on this release she is joined by other musicians too.

This is second-wave Black Metal with supplemental ethereal flourishes. Angelic clean vocals and harsh, daemonic screams play out across music that’s as frozen as it is beautiful. Think bands like Burzum and Vinterriket, only with added atmospheric instrumentation and stunning female cleans.

And stunning is the right word, as the brains behind this outfit has an amazing voice. Sounding transcendentally beautiful and uplifting, her voice is an incredible tool that gets used just right. The screaming doesn’t let the side down either; this is the kind of scratchy, static-like high-pitched shrieking that works so well in Atmospheric Black Metal.

If the music was straightforward Black Metal I think that it might be put to shame by her voice. However, in reality the Black Metal core is added to by so many other instruments and elements that the beauty of the clean vocals and the icy nature of the guitars don’t reveal too much contrast as there’s a lot of other music going on to bring the two closer together; in addition to the standard Black Metal instruments we also get piano, violin, horn, tuba and other traditional Scandinavian instruments used on the tracks.

The main juxtaposition comes when the angelic cleans aren’t being used; here we get malevolent Black Metal with frosted fury and malignant intentions. These sections segue nicely into the more atmospheric/Folkier parts though, so there’s no massive disconnect, only a compelling and involving soundscape that contrasts the beauty of a frosty landscape with the dangers inherent in such a scene.

M doesn’t contain songs in a traditional sense; the tracks are movements designed to showcase an emotive musical tapestry that takes the best from second-wave Black Metal and adds extra layers to it via clean singing and bright atmospherics.

There’s not really anyone playing this kind of Black Metal at the moment, certainly not with this level of proficiency at any rate. It’s definitely a less-travelled path that Myrkur is treading and it’s going to be pretty exciting to see where it leads in the future. My hope is that the songs become lengthier and even more epic in scope, as my only real complaint about M is that it is over far too quickly.

But I digress. For the moment let’s ignore what the future holds and concentrate on what we have; authentic Black Metal with an individual and highly emotive take on the source material. M is a success in every way, and after the tantalising glimpse into her world that was her début EP, we have not been disappointed by the promises it contained.

This is a class album; doing something a little different with Black Metal while still retaining the core of the style has worked wonders.

This album will garner all kinds of praise from all kinds of people. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Midnight Odyssey – Shards of Silver Fade (Review)

Midnight OdysseyMidnight Odyssey is an Australian one-man Black Metal band and this is his second album.

Well, what an epic release this is. Eight tracks, lasting a colossal 143 minutes. Shards of Silver Fade demands a big investment of your time. Is it worth it? You’re damn right it is.

Midnight Odyssey has a Black Metal base that has been expanded to include Ambient, Darkwave, Funeral Doom and Post-Black Metal, resulting in the weighty collection of tracks here.

In many ways it’s difficult to review a release such as this. It would be far better for you to just accept the fact that this is an album you need to get and go and get it. Once done, make a night-time trip to the top of some local hill or mountain, put on your headphones, gaze at the night sky and get lost in Midnight Odyssey’s transcendental, elemental, cosmic embrace.

In lieu of this, however, a darkened room will suffice for now; just zone out and concentrate on nothing but the music.

Anyway, if you have yet to hear them then my feeble prose will have to do. This is not a band to dip into for a quick fix of whatever you fancy, this is a band to pay attention to and take notice of.

These songs combine spacious Progressive Ambient/Doom with ancient Blackened moods that sound like they were old before metal was even invented. The combination of Darkwave, Doom and Black Metal is one that works incredibly well and sounds flawlessly delivered.

Grand orchestral passages sweep across the heavens and invoke feelings of loss and grandeur, frequently at the same time. This is highly emotive music but probably not in the way that you might think. Moving, is probably a better description. This is music that’s moving.

The vocals don’t let the side down either, with croaking Black Metal rasps sharing the stage with charismatic cleans that seem imbued with some form of long-lost wisdom.

An intriguing, ambitious and ultimately victorious merging of Burzum and Vinterriket; Shards of Silver Fade is easily up to the task of fitting in with such hallowed company.

If I haven’t made this clear by now, Shards of Silver Fade is a must listen. It’s a long one, of course, but well worth it. I suggest you start now.

Agonie – Nemesis (Review)

AgonieAgonie are a Black Metal band from Germany. This is their début EP.

Here we have three tracks, just under 16 minutes of Black Metal, consisting of two original songs and a Zerfall cover.

This is very honest, authentic Black Metal with a great sound and a real feeling of darkness emanating from it.

Razor-sharp croaking screams and blasting frosted riffs propel the band through the 3 tracks in seemingly no time at all.

The Blackened melodies employed by Agonie are very, very enjoyable. Something about them just screams quality. Whether they play fast or lock into a groove the band milk every riff for its full potential and still have enough left over for the drums and vocals to not seem like complete afterthoughts.

This kind of pure Black Metal is always a pleasure to listen to and Nemesis sounds as if it could have come straight out of the 90’s in many ways. This is not about recapturing lost glories though, it’s about the here and now and what they have to offer Black Metal in 2015. The answer? Great fucking tunes.

The pacing is right and each song succeeds in offering a transcendent listening experience where the listener is transported to some dark, evil dimension and plagued by daemons. It doesn’t sound fun and it’s not supposed to, but for those select few who thrive on such things Agonie provide an exquisite experience for those with tastes that run to the esoteric.

Kind of a cross between the rolling atmospheric nature of Vinterriket, the classic template of Darkthrone and the occult stylings of Nehëmah.

The final track is a cover of a song by a band named Zerfell. They’re not a band I know but the track fits well with the other two and if anything is the more aggressive of the three.

By crikey this is good. I genuinely can’t wait for a full length from these.

Extremely highly recommended.

Laster – De Verste Verte Is Hier (Review)

LasterLaster are from the Netherlands and this is their début album.

I’m a fan of Laster’s first release Wijsgeer & Narreman so was looking forward to hearing this. The quality album cover was the first thing I liked, and the music soon followed.

Laster play raw, underground, atmospheric Black Metal that’s epic in length and epic in scope.

The band seem to play from beneath a shroud of distortion and hazy guitar fog. The drums and vocals swim just beneath the surface, prowling like unnatural predators seeking the souls of the weary and weak.

De Verste Verte Is Hier is less about individual riffs and more about dark feelings evoked by the instruments that howl and gust like the wind. Laster create dark sonicscapes of reverberating nightmares and ever-present darkness.

Atmosphere is a big part of Laster’s identity and they wield it like a weapon. Desolation, despair and negativity are commonplace, but less common are the little rays of hope that occasionally pierce the gloom, such as on the main starting riff of Tot de Tocht ons Verlicht.

These are not songs to idly listen to, these are songs to experience.

For fans of bands like Vinterriket, Fell Voices, Ash Borer and the like.

Askrinn – Hjørleifsljóð (Review)

AskrinnAskrinn is a solo Black Metal project from France and this is his début album of Melodic Black Metal.

This is Black Metal with mellifluous melodies and a sound like cold water running down a mountain. It puts me in mind of atmospheric/melodic Black Metal bands like Vinterriket and Windir, and although Askrinn don’t sound the same as either of the two mentioned they share the same kind of feeling to my mind.

The tracks on this release seem to roll out of the speakers like a newly discovered fresh spring, bringing vitality and renewed vigour to all that sup from it. The style is an enjoyable one and the constant, rolling atmospheres that Akrinn creates means that it’s easy to like Hjørleifsljóð.

The music is Pagan/Viking theme, with lyrics apparently sung entirely in Old Norse. I say apparently, as the vocals consist of sharp rasps that fit the music perfectly but are completely indecipherable, at least to me. Either way, the vocals, like the music, have a melodious liquid quality that sees them streaming alongside the fluid music and adding bucketfuls to the emergent atmospheres.

This is the kind of release that it’s easy to just fall into and get swept away with, like a fast-running river. The atmospheres and melodies created are easy to absorb but are not lacking in depth despite this. It’s testament to the brain behind the outfit that these songs are well-composed and delivered so competently.

A top quality Black Metal release. It’s time to hunt this one down.