Sunday, October 7, 2012

Folkvang - Atmospheric black

Genre : Atmospheric black metal

Atmospheric black is definitely atmospheric black. That, is not a surprise. But what you've got here is some of the most underrated bands I've ever listened to. Underrated, because they're (he is, actually) really unpopular, and because it's some really awesome stuff. Songs are definitely built an ambient way, with a big wall of sound on the background, distant shrieking vocals, ethereal blastbeating... But Folkvang wouldn't be much without those spectacular melodies it includes. Most of the time, melodies are melted in the background, inside the wall of sound, a clever way. All in all, this release is a blast, because of great atmospheres and repetitive, yet stunning soundscapes. Blackness played a relaxing way, definitely, and Folkvang proves that black metal is not necessarily violent.

Personal highlights : The home among the stars, Back to the roots.

Follow Folkvang on Facebook.
Buy merch on Bigcartel.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Nokturnal Mortum - Голос Сталі

Genre : Folk black metal

I still can't get over how awesome this release is. And still, I had hard times digging it, because of the somehow dissonant sound of some folkish parts in the beginning of the album. Once you get over (and past) this part, everything is impressive here. Not only for the actual folk parts, but the black metal elements featured here are totally stunning. Huge guitar playing, impressive riffs and solos, powerful drumming, strong vocals (even clean ones which are amazing), and on top of all this, such clever songwriting... Moving from song to song is discovering a new masterpiece, or a new all-time classic. Don't believe me, heh? Well, enough words then.

Personal highlights : Україна, Валькирия, Біла Вежа.

Follow Nokturnal Mortum on Facebook.
Buy merch on their website.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Darkenhöld - Echoes from the stone keeper

Genre : Black metal

Darkenhöld returns with their second full-length, and undoubtedly, it's more atmospheric than the debut. In a way, it's also less aggressive, and vocals are not as loud as before in the mix. Whatever. It's still incredibly technical and melodic. Main strength of this album, to me, is how many melodies and dynamic riffs it includes compared to what's usual in the black metal scene. It still has this somehow medieval, mystical touch, probably because of the synth lines... yet the best work lies in guitars and drums. That's quite cool considering how proeminent those instruments are in a black metal track. And thanks God (or anywho else), synths are kept in the background. Therefore, this new release is intense, and it bears no monotony or repetitive parts, and that makes Echoes from the stone keeper a really dynamic, straigthforward, powerful and intense album, even with its many acoustic interludes. You may be a bit sad not having louder vocals here, but you will definitely enjoy it anyway!

Personal highlights : Echoes from the stone keeper, Mesnie Hellequin.

Stream Echoes from the stone keeper on Bandcamp.
Follow Darkenhöld on Facebook.
Buy merch on Bigcartel.

Other reviews from Darkenhöld:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Djur - В Потоках Хаоса Кровей

Genre : Black metal

Usually, when black metal looses its atmospheric vein, I tend to like it less. However, Djur somehow made something catchy without using acoustic lines. I'm not sure why, but I'd say that the melodic riffs are responsible of this. Or maybe the intense, non-linear drumming style? Probably the agressive, wild and powerful vocals too. Anyway, Djur surely know how to play black metal. Songs deliver an awesome  lot of intensity, everybody does his job quite well, and compositions are nice enough to sublimate the skills. On top of this, add some very nice production, keeping things audible and raw at the same time. Really an album worth a listen if you enjoy agressive stuff.

Personnal highlights : Дивизия Djur, В Потоках Хаоса Кровей.

Follow Djur on Facebook.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Crone - Endless midnight

Genre : Instrumental ambient

Technically, this is drone. But I don't like drone much, and I like this, so it must be a bit different... Probably drone-esque post-rockish instrumental dark ambient or something like that. You're still with me? Right! To tell the truth, Endless midnight was a really good surprise from my first listen. It's relaxing, yet really dark, and it depicts a really dense atmosphere, with some kind of gloomy night, urban landscapes, and a hint of light behind all this. In a way, it's in perfect relation with its artwork, for once. So what can you expect here? Well, apart from guitars and various weird noises, there's almost nothing. That's why it's obviously drone. Yet, as opposed to usual drone, there are many melodic lines, some of which being really worth a clap. Usually, songs just keep building over and over during ten minutes, adding more and more atmosphere as time flies, starting from almost nothing. It's the kind of album you either love or hate, but it's definitely "ethereal soundscapes".

How about a couple listens? Endless midnight and Ghost city set the tone very well, just try. And follow Crone on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From oceans to autumn - Return [EP]

Genre : Instrumental post-metal

I've been talking about From oceans to autumn more than once, and I still think they're definitely overlooked. They've been putting out some very good releases recently, and their last EP, Return, is once again a fair proof of their skills. They still follow the same scheme, except that there are no vocal samples this time. Yet, there are once again big, deep ambient soundscapes, and still this subtle mix of guitars, drums and bass, this latter being really audible compared to most post-rock tracks, and in that case, it's a good thing. Return is somehow more coherent than many instrumental releases, since it keeps things in the same atmosphere. It mainly consists in two songs, the first one is more ambient, the second a bit heavier, yet both stay in the same spirit, and the ambient one is definitely intense, with its wavering guitars. A real highlight! Trust me, give that one a shot, you'll be impressed by how it successfully merges everything that make a good instrumental ambient song : sweet layers, deep soundscapes, and ethereal feelings.

Check out Ascending and Descending, the main pieces of the EP. And follow From oceans to autumn on Facebook.

Other reviews from From oceans to autumn :
   - Equanimity

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Panopticon - Kentucky

Genre : Folk black metal

To tell you the very truth, I wasn't really fond of Panopticon before. Sure I enjoyed the last opus, Social disservices, yet... there was something too blackish and not enough atmospheric for me. And that wasn't really "folk black" before, you'd agree. However, Kentucky is a big surprise. A good one. An excellent one! This album is just a masterpiece, because it's so complete. Full of folk, traditional american melodies with a nordic touch, with some top-notch black metal, each sharing its place with the other perfectly. No seriously, aside from any skill, it's just perfectly balanced in every possible way. But skill is there too. Melodies are catchy and awesome, vocals are deep and rich, well... And did I told you about the thematic? Songs just fit so much with each other, and... Please, allow me to stop. I could congratulate this all night long and it'd be pointless, since you're going to listen to it, and love it.

Check out Black soot and red blood and Bodies under the falls, yet be sure you will enjoy the awesome fully folkish interludes in the album. You won't regret. And follow Panopticon on Facebook.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kroda - Schwarzpfad

Genre : Folk black metal

Kroda is quite popular in the black metal scene, and I would agree to describe it as pagan black. Here, let's consider it as rawer folk metal, just because it doesn't have the melancholic, poetic touch observed in some of the bands I've been talking about here, yet it has some intensity which shouldn't be missed, successfully merged with folky melodies played a great way. Schwarzpfad features both beautiful folk melodies and aggressive black metal, and for a very positive note, those are perfectly arranged together! To me, it's the best aspect in this album, since many pagan black metal tend to play folk and metal quite separately. Hope I make sense. Technically, Schwarzpfad is very nice too! Vocals sure lack some emotion, but they're strong and well-balanced in the mix, melodies are great and avoid the usual "dissonant-pagan-chords" flaw. Pagan choirs are good enough, metal arrangements are totally black metal, and sometimes, it's a real pleasure! Least we can say, is that this is a rich and intense album, which definitely deserves being digged.

Come on, give it a shot. Schwarzpfad I (First snow) or Schwarzpfad II (Heil Ragnarok!) are good picks to start with.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ishtar - Ombre [EP]

Genre : Instrumental neofolk / Ambient

Here's something refreshing. Ishtar give us a mix of warm clean guitars playing instrumental neofolk, and cold pianos playing some kind of dark ambient. In the end, this short release delivers a deep and rich sound with both those layers. It's completely instrumental and there are no drums either, however it's melodic enough to stay catchy anytime. Some parts are a bit darker, some are a bit warmer. But it's nonetheless a pretty melancholic piece of art, reinforced by some atmospheric sounds like rain and wind. Yes, piece of art, because it's some very good work, melodies stick in one's head, quickly leading to a new listen. Because it's a bit short, yes. We'll be eagerly waiting for more from Ishtar!

Check out a couple songs, dark ambient oriented Le vele dormienti, mi volgo alle nebbie or more neofolk-ish Ho preso il cammino del fuoco e bruciavo nel cuore. And follow Ishtar on Facebook.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Súl ad astral - Súl ad astral

Genre : Post-black metal

Post-black metal, despite being a fresh and growing scene, takes along some really average and boring stuff. That's why it's always useful to mention who stands out in the genre. Súl ad astral does. On a side, it reminds of the bleakest references around, successfully depicting a real void of light, urban-related according to post-black metal's essence. Think to those usual walls of sound, huge tremolo picking parts, blast beats and shrieking vocals. Those ones are not a major element though, as there are big instrumental gaps. The one behind the mic uses a really wide range of vocals, sometimes deep and dark, sometimes emotional and high, sometimes... clean. Rest assured, they shine with quality, just like anything else here, thanks to an awesome crystal-clear production. Crystal-clear doesn't mean it makes things "beautiful" here, I mean... it's dark in any possible way, and perfectly arranged for that matter! Yeah, many approaches to the genre, and despite being quite a bleak monument, Súl ad astral also has some enlightened, soft parts, making it relaxing and chilling at times. Just like it should be, deep and intense, crushing, stunning, relaxing.

To cherish is an almost ten minutes-long instrumental opener, showing a wide part of Súl ad astral's skills. If that was a good experience, why not listening to Amaurosis too? And follow Súl ad astral on Facebook.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Havnatt - Havdøgn [EP]

Genre : Neofolk

Some fresh air here. Really fresh. Probably thanks to norwegian lyrics sung with a crystal-clear female voice. Or maybe because of those clean, soft guitars? Anyway, through that five songs-long EP, Havnatt makes this new approach to neofolk a success. New approach, mainly because it's vocals-driven before being guitar-driven. Some may not like it, but the guitar lines are mostly here to carry those vocals, instead of standing in the foreground. Havdøgn depicts nature like neofolk usually does, but an other way. Maybe this release won't describe cold, snowy forests with rotting trees all around, but more a bright green forest, with faeries flying all around in the sunrays. Well, enough silly comparisons, just give Havdøgn a listen if you enjoy relaxing, slow neofolk strictly limited to guitars and clean, relaxing, ethereal female vocals. No drums here, no big arrangements. But that makes it more natural, didn't it?

Check out of couple of its songs, mind you? For example Prammen and Han som skyggar meg. And follow Havnatt on Facebook.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hypomanie - Calm down, you weren't set on fire

Genre : Instrumental post-metal / Shoegaze

What's nice here is that Hypomanie sticked to its instrumental sound. And what a sound my friends! I guess most of you already listened to the previous album (maybe this one too, heh), and new one is just as good, yet in a different vein. Calm down, you weren't set on fire is actually quite calm, yes. It's definitely lighter post-metal. Walls of sound are still here, still as powerful, drumming lines are once again a huge strength, as they're totally catchy. That sound is light, dreamy, ethereal by any means. Melodies are built inside the wall of sound, giving a serious coherence to the songs. Well, by now this kind of sound is quite "popular" among that scene, just because many bands tried that thing called "blackgaze". However, Hypomanie are still masters of that recipe. A superb release, full of dreamy atmosphere.

Oh well, maybe you want some previews? Here you go, with opener 19 stars and the sweet smell of cinnamon and Lullabye for Ian. And follow Hypomanie on Facebook.

Other reviews from Hypomanie:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dråpsnatt - Skelepht

Genre : Folk black metal

Do you remember about Dråpsnatt? Although seriously underground, the guys still shine in the folk black scene, and definitely deserve more attention. They're back with Skelepht, a piece of agressive, grim folk metal, and a serious challenger for "album of the year 2012" if you ask me. Compared to their previous efforts, I'd say that this release features more melancholic, sometimes kinda depressive sides. Vocals are once again mostly despaired and agressive shrieks placed in the foreground, but I mean... those ones are really expressive, more than many black metal bands, where it's just about "hey, let's shriek because black metal goes that way". No, it's seriously honest, there's no happy boozing or trolls, it's all about sincerity.  It's even easy to feel it among the few clean vocals, which are definitely sincere and deep too. Technically, it's even a bit wrong to tag this "folk", even though there are some great acoustic parts, mainly consisting in pianos and cold, echoing clean guitars, more melodic than actually folky. Musically speaking, it's just what black metal should be. No blastbeat spamming, no boring repetitions, Skelepht just comes and go, moving, sometimes slower, deeper, darker, sometimes faster. Sometimes meditative, sometimes crushing. Some real atmosphere in the end, with every single element shining with quality. And an impressive maturity.

Some awesome previews? Here you go with Klardrömmar and Intigheten. And follow Dråpsnatt on Facebook.

Other reviews from Dråpsnatt:
   - Hymner till undergången

Monday, April 9, 2012

Infinitas - Journey to infinity

Genre : Depressive black metal

At first, I was quite reluctant to listen to this. Depressive black metal is moving toward directions I'm not enjoying recently. There are more and more poor one-man bands, with always the same pictures, same logos, same song structures with blend and boring walls of sound behind crying vocals. Well, this is completely un-imaginative for the most part. But we're not talking about Infinitas here. Even though it could visually let us think it's one more boring ripoff project (I've already seen that logo somewhere, huh), it's quite rich and well-executed. Well, it's not too depressive either, except the vocals maybe, which are at best for the genre, and not too redundant. Actually, there are not too much vocals, and they're kept as a background. Technically speaking, it's once again something we've already heard before, but to be honest, it's done the right way. Guitars have a nice melodic line, acoustic at times, and the background is perfectly set with really catchy, melodic walls of sound, setting a real urban atmosphere. And I think this is really the best part of the release. All in all, Journey to infinity is not something completely new, not at all to say the truth (I've already seen that logo on bands with the same sound, yay!). But it's a very good performance in the genre, definitely worth a check.

Not sure which songs to pick, so let's try Hinter grauen Wänden and Ein Hauch von Ewigkeit. And follow Infinitas on Facebook.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

From oceans to autumn - The flood / The fall [EP]

Genre : Instrumental post-metal

Still very underground, From oceans to autumn is nonetheless one of the most interesting acts in the instrumental post-metal genre. This EP features two long tracks, with a strong ambient touch, mainly thanks to background guitars delivering kind of an hypnotizing sound. Not huge riffs or power chords here, things are more kept a soft way. What's quite unusual, is how bass is mostly set in the foreground, making both the songs very consistent and deep, to say the truth. Drumming lines move from ambient to fast. As a result, these tracks are mostly repetitive, but in a good way, catchy and relaxing. Worth a listen, for sure!

You can check out both the songs on the EP, The flood and The fall. And follow From oceans to autumn on Facebook. The flood / The fall is available as a free download on bandcamp.

Other reviews from From oceans to autumn:
   - Equanimity
   - Return

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Stroszek - A break in the day [EP]

Genre : Neofolk

It's been a while since I haven't been posting neofolk. Well, problem is I have hard times finding really pretty neofolk recently. However, Stroszek is worth a mention! First, it's not instrumental, but rather features some really interesting and beautiful female vocals. Usually, I'm not really into those, but here they fit quite well, maybe because the acoustic guitars carry them perfectly. Well, and that's all you have here. A couple acoustic guitar lines, and those vocals. Stroszek makes it very traditional, and this is typically what you can expect from some neofolk : beautiful melodies with a hint of melancholy. Check it out, if female vocals don't disturb you!

Here are a couple songs for you to check, mostly instrumental Secrets of the earth and Green jade. And follow Stroszek on Facebook. A break in the day is available as a free download on bandcamp.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Year of no light - Nord

Genre : Post-metal / Sludge

Year of no light's debut album was re-released not long ago, with a second disc including many works from their earlier demos or splits. As such, it is time to dig it again. Quite a tricky release if you ask me, because of many different atmospheres, unusual song structures and different approachs to the same genre, as this album actually merges instrumental post-metal, sludge, doom metal and drone. Vocals are not proeminent here, actually they are really in the background, maybe too much sometimes, as they're able to deliver a real aggressive feeling which we'd surely appreciate more if a bit louder. Technically and musically speaking, Nord is heavily guitar-oriented, as there are very few keyboards there, and as most of the ambient sounds are actually made through slow guitar droning. But those successfully setup a really gloomy atmosphere here. For that, Year of no light are undoubtedly masters in the genre, as one can really feel despair and darkness anytime in these songs. Even in the instrumental ones, which represent a good half of the release. Something to check out if you enjoyed despaired melancholy and soundscapes devoid of light.

Check out a couple songs, like the awesome Par économie pendant la crise on éteint la lumière au bout du tunnel and an instrumental, droning one, Qu'importe qu'ils me haïssent, pourvu qu'ils me craignent. And follow Year of no light on Facebook.

Other reviews from Year of no light:
   - Ausserwelt

Winterfylleth - The mercian sphere

Genre : Folk black metal

I'm sure you know me enough by now. If I speak about some good pagan stuff, you can expect some serious epicness, and not cheesy happy melodies like in those hyped bands I won't talk about here. The mercian sphere is one of those pure, respectful pagan/folk black metal albums. Everything is perfectly balanced here, be it the instrumentation, featuring a real, honest black metal with enough blastbeating, crushing rhythm and melodic guitars, and sincere vocals, or the album arrangements, with some very nice acoustic breaks, melodic folk parts, or clean male choirs which perfectly suit the atmosphere. Songtitles may sound a little pretentious at first, and I was quite worried about that before I gave this album a spin. Then, all this was forgiven, because The mercian sphere is a jewel in the sincere pagan metal scene.

By scary songtitle and amazing sound, I meant this: The honour of good men on the path to eternal glory. Check out The ruin too, with its very nice acoustic part. And follow Winterfylleth on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Endless melancholy - Memories [EP]

Genre : Instrumental ambient

Piano and violin, that's all. In terms of instrumentation of course, because Memories is more than that when talking about emotions. Depending on your mood, it can easily express either melancholy, or beauty. However, I'd rather go for the first one through those slow, never-ending notes. But hey, aren't melancholy and beauty quite linked, anyway? Music here successfully demonstrates than such emotions do not necessarily need depressive black metal to be spread. Memories features eight short tracks, completely instrumental, with both instruments : melancholic piano and depressed violin. Most of the time, it's really minimalistic, and that won't be something to blame, since the compositions do what they intend to : talking to your heart the easiest possible way.

Just pick a couple songs and see : Secrets long forgotten and These waters remember our smiles for example. And follow Endless melancholy on Facebook. Memories is available as a free download and listen on bandcamp.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dirge - Elysian magnetic fields

Genre : Post-metal / Sludge

Crushing, heavy, deep and dark. That's sludge. Vocals are very sludge, too. However, those succeed into not being annoying, enough in the background, with a strong reverb, and coming as short verses with long instrumental parts between. Moreover, some melancholic clean vocals add a serious versatility to this release, breaking its monotony, successfully making it ethereal, hypnotic, yet catchy. Elysian magnetic fields still sets a strong gloomy atmosphere, because it's quite downtempo, it's loud, sometimes despaired. But it keeps quite a good melodic part, thanks to interesting riffs and well-done ambient synths, making the whole release a very nice record, actually one of the best in the genre.

Cocoon is a great song to start with, with a crushing, epic ending. Check also opener Morphée rouge. And follow Dirge on Facebook.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Darkflight - Perfectly calm

Genre : Atmospheric black metal / Doom metal

Darkflight lands between heavily synths-influenced black metal, and melancholic doom. An album which genre is hard to describe, but for sure unusual, maybe unique. Tempos are usually very low, and raw production makes the sound even harsher, yet the stunning guitar and synths melodies successfully shine in the mix. Vocals are kept a step behind, with strong reverb, making some kind of voice from the underworld, all this merged with logic and consistance. However, the most intense part here is now how the sound is delivered, but how melancholy and beauty are spread through the eight songs. Needless to say that you have to love low tempos and ambient stuff here, with deep and sad emotions. Ready to take your first dark flight?

If yes, check out Dissolving into nothingness and Perfectly calm. And follow Darkflight on Facebook.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Message to bears - EP 1 [EP]

Genre : Instrumental neofolk / Ambient

Ok, let's move to some other dimension for tonight. I'm not even sure about how to tag the genre, but all I can say to describe it quickly, is "mostly acoustic guitars, no lyrics, and a huge amount of melancholy". Therefore, there isn't much to review -musically speaking- here. Well, if the release name definitely lacks imagination, music doesn't, at all. Expect very beautiful guitar melodies here, like... I mean, beautiful is the best word here. It's filled with emotions, be it melancholy, joy, happiness, childhood memories. Nostalgy strikes in those guitar lines, and the other arrangements, hand percussions, spoken samples, some piano or violin, fill the atmosphere perfectly. A very nice addition to the deep guitar layers in the end, all this in an album you should definitely check out for a moment of meditation and contemplation. I'd call this "sounds of our homeworld", because of the strong human feeling laying in these songs.

Check out a couple songs, Plane over evening sky and Swim for example. And follow Message to bears on Facebook.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dark forest - Land of the evening star

Genre : Folk black metal

Sometimes, I think I should be able to enjoy so-called pagan metal. But those unbearable wind instruments or poor garage male choirs often ruin it. Well, at first I was not so sure about Land of the evening star. Intro song sounds glorious and cheesy just like many bad pagan bands. But I decided to dig it despite of that. And that wasn't a waste of time, at all. Dark forest cast a mature pagan metal, filled with positive energy, and without any letdown. First strength which strikes here, is how powerful guitar riffs are. Not going overspeed, not sounding like a childish video game either, I think that the guys found the perfect balance here. Drumming and black metal shrieks are perfectly executed and the long songs don't fall into monotony, thanks to the huge amount of various melodies used around here. No real folk instruments, it's more a matter of atmosphere if this is folk and pagan, as everything relies more on black metal arrangements, mainly guitar-focused and some synths fillers, which are, let's be honest, not the best elements in the album. However, if you're looking for mature, deep and epic pagan metal, you should definitely check this. Did I say epic? I did.

Listen to Árborg / Bjarne Herjúlfsson ca. 985CE, which gets magnificient towards its end, and Vesperia. And follow Dark forest on Facebook.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Svafnir - The heathen chapters

Genre : Folk black metal / Neofolk

Genius and magnificience. The heathen chapters is not strict folk black metal. Instead, it's almost a whole neofolk release. And what a neofolk my friends, this is perfectly executed, rich and deep. As opposed to many neofolk bands, vocals, even if they're a minor part, are not a letdown at all, here being melancholic and perfectly executed. Folk black only appears in a couple parts from time to time. It's quite impressive to notice that it's just as good as the neofolk parts. Riffs are impressive, catchy, some chords have an unexpected old-school hard rock feel, and the result of those harsh parts is a really positive, enjoyable, quite enlightened folk black metal, especially since the folk guitars often stay alongside distorted ones, keeping this feeling of nature and beauty anytime. Some other unexpected things sometimes surface, such as a melancholic distorted guitar solo on top of a full neofolk song. Well, this album is something without musical limits or restrictions, it's just pure artistic expression, and you've got to check it out, because it would be far too long to express everything that lies between those deep musical layers.

Two songs only, that's what I said? Well, check out Zweige sich im Winde wiegen and Death of the sun, which should be good examples of the various musical sides of this release. Then check the whole album.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Draugnim - Northwind's ire

Genre : Atmospheric black metal

Heavily synth oriented, Draugnim's effort couldn't be described a better way than with epic and majestic black metal. I promised myself not to make comparison between bands on this blog, just like rating albums, I don't like that. But Draugnim sounds quite close to a much appreciated synth-oriented black metal band which name begins with a S...! Major difference, though, is that Draugnim relies on many blastbeat parts. And all this is perfectly executed. I mean, synths lines are beyond epic and successfully merged with guitars, drums and vocals. Vocals are kept at a distance, making this definitely atmospheric. Melodies are huge and synths arrangements are well-done, since those parts don't have that ugly "computer-sound", but cast a real atmosphere instead. Guitars are easy to notice, yet they do not shine with any particular riff, since melodies are carried by synths here. But Draugnim explore a genre which is, in the end, not so common. And they did it right.

Opener Moonpath is completely stunning, and Toward the dusk is surely worth a listen too. And follow Draugnim on Facebook.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The foetal mind - The grand contraction

Genre : Instrumental post-metal / Black metal

To be completly honest with you, early works from The foetal mind left me totally unimpressed. I wasn't even able to listen to a full song. That being said, it's very important to say how quickly this band got way better. The grand contraction is a remarkable effort, with quite an unusual album structure. After a short pleasant intro track, the album switchs to an interesting post-black metal song. Clean vocals are not the best ever, but pleasant guitar melodies make up for it. Such songs would make this a good album, but all the other songs are instrumental only, meaning they're more post-metal than anything else, with some black metal elements. And they make this a stunning album instead. As instrumental post-metal is something tricky, it's fair to notice how good this one is. Melodies are superb, riffs are ethereal and rich. Drumming, if not really impressive by itself, perfectly fits the arrangements. This album, from third track, is pure bliss, melodic post-metal with crushing chords, played an unusual, but very pleasant way.

Check out The collapse and Silence for a hint of it. And follow The foetal mind on Facebook.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The echelon effect - Seasons (pt. III) [EP]

Genre : Instrumental post-rock / Electronic

Do you remember The echelon effect's Seasons project? Fall is now gone, but the third EP is still here to recall it somehow. Calming and beautiful just like the first two EPs, this one features four new melancholic tracks, with a serious highlight making the whole release quite heterogen in the end. Return of voice sample and soft, catchy drumming is definitely a good thing, but melodies are kind of gone when the record is listened to as a whole, and this is quite sad when one know what The echelon effect is able to do in the genre. This record thus appears more monotonous, repetitive, maybe more linear in the end. But maybe that's what autumn is all about, isn't it? Still a very pleasant and refreshing moment one shouldn't miss.

Branches and constellations is the huge highlight in there. The last warmth is worth a listen too, for it seriously describes what "beautiful melancholy" really is. And follow The echelon effect on FacebookSeasons (pt. III) is available as a free listen and download on bandcamp.

Other reviews from The echelon effect:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Addaura - Burning for the ancient

Genre : Atmospheric black metal

In a way, Addaura's newest release is calming and ethereal. An agressive way. Something which could be observed as a letdown, naming non-stop blastbeating, makes the music actually somehow airy and light. Not sure if I make sense, but this constant, quick heartbeat, kind of carry its listener through a world depicting grandeur, desolation, and melancholy at a single time. This atmosphere is reinforced with the strong, deep vocals, which are undoubtedly a reference in the genre. At least, those are filled with emotion, maybe a little hint of despair, like some cry coming from far away, raw, wild and strong. It's hard to explain how blastbeats and vocals perfectly fit together to create a catchy and ethereal atmosphere, but it's an obvious win. And guitars, how can I forget those? They work as walls of sounds mainly, yet melodic ones, and there are some chords on that release which will easily get stuck on your head for a while. Burning for the ancient features four really long songs, maybe a little overlong at times, but this is for sure a clever part of an atmospheric black metal album, which turns out to be one of the most melancholic around, considering its well-done structure and production. And monotony is successfully broken with some unexpected parts, like female airy vocals or droning, doomy moments.

City light (in still dark forenoon silence) and its catchy melodic line is a must-listen here. Solace beneath a greying sky is an other highlight, check it out. And follow Addaura on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nechochwen - Algonkian mythos

Genre : Mostly instrumental neofolk

We haven't been talking about some neofolk for a while, have we? Nechochwen's first release was full neofolk, and well, it's just so rich and deep that it's hard to talk about it. This is an album which requires more than a couple listens to actually dive into it, because of how many instruments appear in the sound layers, and because of the lack of usual song structures. It requires much attention to really get into it, because it's complex in terms of songs composition and sonorities. Album is almost instrumental, and only some choirs and male vocals appear from time to time. Melodies are rather unusual too, sometimes cold and almost annoying, sometimes warm and melancholic. They feature some ritualistic percussions which may sound a bit too much in the foreground at times, yet they add a lot to the sound diversity. Maybe the fact that Nechochwen isn't linked to scandinavian folk makes for its uncommon sound, too, as many bands tend to refer to norse folk sonoroties, when it's all about American traditions here.

Algonkian mythos and Talgayeeta are good songs to start with this album. Check those out! And follow Nechochwen on Facebook.

Other reviews from Nechochwen:
   - Azimuths to the otherworld

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ygg - Ygg

Genre : Atmospheric black metal

Ygg is amazing. Not something we've never heard before, to be honest. But something we want to hear again and again as we enjoy black metal. Jew harps and distorted walls of sound are the first striking elements here, the first one appearing quite often, the second one successfully merging melodic soundscapes and ambient backgrounds. But vocals and drums are worth a special mention, too. Vocals, because they're strong and raw, mostly thanks to the Ukrainian language, but also because of singer's ability to make it wild and raw at a time. Drums are especially nice for avoiding the "non-stop blastbeat" which would quickly get boring. And yet, they're not played with obvious and omnipresent breakdowns, more kept an ambient way. But the first drumming line is still very energic and adds a lot to the catchy side of this record. All those things perfectly arranged and mixed make this a very solid ambient black metal release, with huge soundscapes, but also a fair amount of heaviness. Dark, wild, and moving.

Self-titled song Ygg is an obvious highlight. Ритуал is also an amazing song. And follow Ygg on Facebook.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Darkenhöld - A passage to the towers

Genre : Black metal

Technically, this is much more pagan-oriented metal than melancholic folk black. However, as good pagan metal became something quite rare, I felt like sharing that one, especially since it's really not popular, where it would deserve to. So, what's this record? It's some raw, agressive black metal, which however feature lots of good riffs, rhythm changes, and "headbangable" drumming. And sometimes that's all we want, right? Do not expect many soft parts, since the few ones are just the usual black metal "clichés" (not to mean anything bad), meaning a quick intro track and some interlude. However, besides the epic black metal vocals, some clean ones shine with quality. Synths make a good job too, giving quite an epic atmosphere, without being proeminent. All in all, expect some impressive pagan black metal, surely lacking melancholy and nature beauty, because that's not the point here, but giving out a nice lot of energy and agressivity. And sometimes, that's pretty cool!

Highlights : Ghouls and the tower, Darkenhöld.

Follow Darkenhöld on Facebook.
Buy merch on Bigcartel.

Other reviews from Darkenhöld:
   - Echoes from the stone keeper

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nebelkorona - Tannenhochforst

Genre : Neofolk / Ambient

Nebelkorona deliver quite a surprising sound, close to the dark ambient genre. Imagine some deep melodies, guitars, pianos and synths mixed into repetitive layers, and low vocals, almost spoken words at times. Vocals have quite a big reverb, turning the solo singing to some choir-sound at some point, and lyrics are in German. However, this recipe successfully creates a melancholic and deep atmosphere, and the melodies are beautiful, to say the least. On top of this, there is some drumming which takes part into the mix. Definitely not insane blast beats, just some ryhthm line in the arrangement. But that makes this release tend to some epic feeling, which adds a lot to the atmosphere. Something that deserves a listen if you enjoy melancholic and epic neofolk.

Check out Sonnenhall and Waldzauber to get into it. And follow Nebelkorona on Facebook.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Skogen - Vittra

Genre : Folk black metal

What makes Vittra a wonderful album is obviously Skogen's ability to merge folk sounds, pagan influences and black metal shapes into a solid and consistent release. I already said this before, but I don't think that northern mythology and viking tales are meant to be associated with happy sonorities. Therefore, I tend to promote mostly melancholic folk black metal, which is the case here. One could call it dark, too. Whatever. Skogen found a brillant recipe, associating perfectly-mixed black vocals along with distant male choirs which definitely throw in some melancholic touch, as well as catchy riffs and melodies. Some of them can tend to repetitions from time to time, but it's not a serious flaw since they're all mostly enjoyable. This album also successfully merges dark folk with pagan feelings, too, and most of the songs feature real epic parts. That's what is brillantly done with their melodies actually, the way they carry melancholy and epicness at the same time is incredible.

Please, check out a couple masterpieces, like Skuggorna kallar and Under fullmånens sken. And follow Skogen on Facebook.

Other reviews from Skogen:
   - Svitjod

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Syven - Aikaintaite

Genre : Folk black metal / Neofolk

A side project from kantele-based neofolk band Nest, Syven is for sure reminiscent of that kind of sound... Yet, there are some new elements around, and besides the kantele and the shamanic drumming, a couple black metal elements have appeared, with deep, distant shrieks and heavy chords in the background. That doesn't imply all of the usual black metal elements however, as you cannot hear a single blastbeat or any really aggressive part in here. Call it softened black metal with deep, dark traditional neofolk, for a more precise description. Vocals feature a really wide range of atmospheres, switching from clean, inspired solo vocals, yet somehow reminiscent of nordic traditions, alongside with some deep male choirs and distant shrieks, those ones being a minor part to be really honest, as black metal is only kept as a little influence here. And that's not so bad, because melodies are totally stunning and worth shining, easily taking the listener to a state of contemplation and meditation when clean, and easily giving you shiver when switching to distorted riffs. An incredible, chilling and emotional release, without any doubt.

Songs are quite long, and listening to both Ne, jotka selviävät talvestamme and Tuulenvire should give you a nice overview through a mere half of the album. And follow Syven on Facebook.