Lykathea Aflame – Elvenefris

coverQuoting my thoughts some years ago while inspecting a random recommendation from Metal-archives. “What the hell, I’ve never heard of Lykathea Aflame and their album (Elvenefris) has a 96/100 rating with almost 20 reviews :O! This must be some fine progressive death metal”.

Nope. Instead Lykathea Aflame must be the most overrated band no one’s ever heard of. Did that make sense? No? Good, neither does most of the Elvenefris. Don’t get me wrong, it has plenty of great musicianship and heavy-duty barrage, I can understand why some people like it. But mainly, it’s a huge mishmash.

Many riffs on Elvenefris sound to be played at random, halting another riff, spiritual melody, section, or whatnot suddenly. These halts are almost always paired with brutally fast drumming. After that there’s four different random riffs and two melodies until they return to the main theme. Many of these placeholder riffs are sure nimble, but sound uninspired and, well, dumb. Some might point out: “isn’t that what proper progressive music sounds at first?” Yes, yes it does sound like that at first, but not after ~10 listens and a couple of years.

Actually, forget my musings and the rest of the review. Go rather read the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of Lord_genghis review from Metal-archives, after finishing the review I found out he put everything I meant to say down a lot better than I could: http://www.metal-archives.com/reviews/Lykathea_Aflame/Elvenefris/7208/lord_ghengis/89436.

2884_logoIt does not help that growled vocals are just ok. They are supposed to remind of Lord Worm of Cryptopsy but to me Lord Worm has variety, craziness and ability to really engage into it when Ptoe of Lykathea Aflame just grunts away. Clean vocals are at best tolerable, spoken word sounds about as good as recording them yourself.

The beginning of the first track, Land Where Sympathy Is Air is a good example of what’s wrong. Technical riffing with quite typical but rather strong western “ethnic” melody, sudden riff change, continuation. At about 50 seconds it turns to a cut and paste mishmash constantly visited by the same annoyingly jumpy riff that first appeared at 22 seconds. These kind of technical short riff bursts that scale to higher notes, and on highest peak repeat from the start are present on Elvenefris all the time. Judging by the good ratings Elvenefris has gotten,  it seems it appeals certain people. But the appalling 1.38 casio bagpipe melodies cannot be excused, and it’s not the only occurence.

Sadness and Strength has the strongest individual moment, with the best melody of the album leading to a fine, albeit a bit comical, outro. The leading melody resembles some ethnic pipe instrument(?) and sounds a tad like something children’s music band like the Finnish Fröbelin Palikat might write for their more serious tracks. Before that there’s some tight playing and a really, really bad starting riff. A Step Closer has nearly none of the annoying elements and An Old Man and a Child has more memorable than frustrating bits. But there’s nothing that really makes me want to tune them in again.

The crown jewel of the album is the 11 minute b-movie cinematic outro Walking in the Garden of Ma’at with fucking birds chirping all over the place ALL-THE-TIME. It would be atmospheric if the sounds didn’t remind me too much of Intel four-eighty-six processors.

4/10

The Solar Apparatus – The Solar Apparatus

web_kristalliFinnish oddball instrumental progressive folk group The Solar Apparatus released their first full-length album in 2016. While the basis has a lot of stuff happening and a lot to like, the entity is still hard to distinguish from elevator music. It would actually work well in elevators or in an art gallery yet it lacks memorability, even though it seems different melodies and instruments are continuously introduced from the “rainbow rollercoaster” (like they describe themselves, not at all unwell). The traditional rock instruments are paired with for example violin, pleasant harmonica and harmless soaring from a feel good family movie, with oh so much major key. It works well as a background music to daily activities fading away to background.

Before The Solar Apparatus arrange themselves a vocalist or evolve and tighten their compositions, I’m afraid they fail to captivate me. There’s lot of effort to reach for the stars but the melodies fail to reach the galactic level, often drifting somewhere between the celestial bodies. But as they are, they really could find people in the world music terrain that are captivated. They would fit right in to a young, urban hipster, hippie or underground festival kind of bright celebration where young yuppies, hippies, vegans and junkies dance their worries away stoned or high on craft beer (Wicker Man, World Village Festival, Flow, Sideways etc.).

I hate to negate small releases and obscure bands that do a lot of things right, but when it comes to my subjective opinions about music that should be straight from my alleyway, “pretty nice” is just not good enough.

But there’s merit even I can fathom. The playfulness of the track names is amusing. Golis Zefin’s sinister piano interlude is refreshing alteration. Remembrance and Ametisti have nice 70s prog touches in riffing, but are too long a compositions. Actually the same goes to pretty much every other track too. Elffin’s is another two-sided beast, the first half is extremely unforgettable neo-prog that does not seem to go anywhere until it is forcefully transformed into a post-rocky bright outro reminding of trance uplifts. The melodies are strong and would surely appeal in a live setting.

But the best pieces are served already in the beginning duality. A tranquilly progressive piano piece Seed and crunchy riffing Everleaf hit close to the mark. Uncoincidentally they are also the shortest pieces without idling. Man, these guys must have listened to another Finnish oddball group Taipuva Luotisuora. Their influences definitely sprout from the same tree though Taipuva Luotisuora has more progressive elements and a lot more Kingston Wall present.

To end on a positive note, The Solar Apparatus is certainly a band with plenty of potential. They could unveil something classic in the future, they have the elements and the abilities. But that time is not on their 2016 release. Keep your eyes open.

Bandcamp: https://solarapparatus.bandcamp.com/album/solar-apparatus
Home page: http://thesolarapparatus.com/

Mozambique metal – Sarcotrofia and Darkest Place – Metals Around the World

In this special I am going to review every metal release ever to come out of Mozambique. In total *drum roll* two releases from two bands according to The Metal Archives! Both bands SarcotrofiA and Darkest Place are from the capital, Maputo. However, there is (or was) probably a lot more activity, as the trailer for a documentary “Terra Pesada” below shows there has definitely been some gigging in the past. Judging by their website www.terrapesada.com, the documentary is not out yet.


SarcotrofiA

540735The band does excel in describing themselves in their Soundcloud:
A SOUTHERN AFRICAN VERSATILE TOP LISTED BAND IN THE METAL SCENERY, FROM MAPUTO/MOZAMBIQUE, WITH SUPER JOINT INFLUENCIES OF MOZAMBICAN TRADITIONAL RHYTHMS WITH METAL, TURNING IT INTO GUTTURAL GENRE.

FOUNDED BY GORO FAST (drummer) IN 2006 FROM THE ASHES OF ANOTHER PAST BAND CALLED Sarcomaticaposa, THEN AFTER SEVERALS LINE UP CHANGES, BECAME SarcotrofiA. WE NOW SCREAM OUT OUR SOUND IN GUTTURAL ROTTEN PORNOVAGINOTOPSY WAY; FROM THERE UNTIL NOW HAS BEEN WORKING HARD, TRYING TO BRING THE BEST UNEXPLORED SIDE OF MUSIC TO THE LISTENERS AND LOVERS OF THIS MUSICAL GENRE. THE BAND HAS BEEN WORKING HARD ENOUGH IN ATTEMPT TO CREATE AN IDENTITY AS SarcotrofiA.

ACTIVE MEMBERS:
Namesis Daude: Guttural Throat
Euclides Anatolly: Rotten Riffs
Jubless Jubileu: Grinder pussies
Goro Fast – Drums

PAST MEMBER
Lolah Orlanda: Porno Vaginotopsy


I find it particularly funny that the other basic metal band roles are easy to find out from descriptions, but their bassist, whose role seems to be “Grinder pussies”. And how about that ex-member from the time they only did hardcore porn!

SarcotrofiA is nothing new in the game of humouristically heavy brutal death / grindcore. They released the 2nd ever Mozambique metal release, a 5 track EP Left to Rot (Hypocrisy’s Penetralia, anyone?) in 2013. They fall in the sweet sector of bands who are not full humour goregrind like for example Gutalax, but definitely have some tongue in cheek there.

The instruments separate quite well being still chaotic. The guitars lack sense of power though and drums have too much of that. Sounds are really similar to what a small European band might conceive as their first demo. You can hear that these guys can play their instruments surprisingly well and are no strangers to sudden tempo switches. Especially the drummer Goro Fast does an impressive job, fast tempos and all kinds of fills while keeping in tempo.

mz-lgflagMozambique has one of the most distinctive country flags. I mean how metal is it to have an actual AK-47 in the flag of your country. And how could you not use that in your grindcore, i mean guttural rotten pornovaginotopsy bands album cover. It’s meant to be really.

I am rarely a fan of goregrind and unfortunately for me there’s not that much interesting stuff going on in Left to Rot but individual riffs like the intro of Brutal Slab and Panic At a Morgue. Both tracks identically turn to chaotic blasting after solid hard-hitting intros, Brutal Slab has some more memorable riffing. The whole Panic At a Morgue track could be deemed almost progressive as it has about 20 sections just placed after each other. Even though the riffs are not technical by any means. It is a prime example that there definitely is a lot of stuff happening, riffs varying all the sudden and behind it very deep guttural growling.

The advertised Mozambiquan traditional rhythms are too hard to find, the band could really be from Europe. This kind of stuff has its fans too though. Central Europe has a lot of semi-humouristic brutal death metal / grindcore gigs, SarcotrofiA could well be a regular in those places, given different circumstances.

Listen Left To Rot from their Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/sarcotrofia/ghost-monk?in=sarcotrofia/sets/left-to-rot-ep-2014

P.S. Without me noticing, in the summer of 2016 SarcotrofiA did play a live gig in Czech Republic and in November 2016 the band announced in their Facebook that Goro Fast is currently the only member and he is moving the band to Europe. It may be that SarcotrofiA is closer than I imagined in being a regular at grindcore gigs around the old continent of metal. They also stated that an album is in plans. If SarcotrofiA manages to incorporate some of Mozambique background to their music, they could breeze some fresh air to goregrind.


Darkest Place EP

297518First lets make it clear. When you find an independently released “E.P” that’s the first metal recording in the history of Mozambique (2006) it is very hard to believe it to sound something else than a demo. And it doesn’t. Darkest Place unfortunately split up before they could make another release as their newest demo compositions from 2010 started to show a lot of promise, but this EP is wobbly.

Darkest Place is labeled as “Extreme Gothic Metal” in metal-archives. They do have growling vocals but it can be argued that the 3rd track Frightening Nights is the only extreme metal track. It is actually the 1st track in Metal-archives but my version labels it third. Metal-archives also lists a track called “Lost in the dark” as third, that I do not have nor does Darkest Place youtube site.

First two tracks Hour of Death and Wrong Creations are more easily labelled as one of the hundreds of gothic rock/metal clones that came after the success of Within Temptation, Evanescence and Nightwish. Especially Hour of Death is incredibly tame, almost a pop track really. Sure, Wrong Creations has some balls and distortion guitars. It’s overpeaked with amateuristic growling vocals and a 30 second + 5 second blastbeat sections. With a whopping 9 minute length it’s also an overly stretched composition.

Wrong Creations does some trails of doom oldies like Paradise Lost. At best their sound has some of the melancholy grandeur of Lilitu.

Musicianship is very wobbly. Especially some of the clean parts without distortion show that the guitarist’s timing and note lengths are too often off. It is not hard to guess that the recording is a work by a very young band early in their learning curve of instruments. I don’t think the studio technicians in Mozambique would have any idea how to record metal either. If it has been even recorded in a studio. The casio keyboard sound on top gives it unwelcome cheeriness.

Surprisingly the heaviest song Frightening Nights has a lot better demo sound. It has some black metallish darkness and is probably the best piece of the record. From 1 to 3 minutes the band luckily does not have cheery sounding keyboards in there and the dark riffing is very welcome. It’s funny to hear a gothic metal band that actually shows some promise in the blacker fields.

After 5 minutes Frightening Nights goes all cut and paste, a section after each other. Especially the last half a minute after some quite mindless fast guitar soloing is completely puzzling: guitar, drums, casio keyboards -> cuts out and turns to just acoustic guitar (with quiet drums) -> suddenly it turns to keyboards with different sound that fail to play the melody right + the sound of a lightning :D. It really reminds of Damien Storm’s grandiose puzzlingness.

darkest-place-ashesThe band has split up but their Youtube also lists a 2010 release Ashes of the Earth that shows a great deal more maturity in compositions. It would have been interesting had they managed to record these tracks with more experience.

This youtube clip must be completely computer made but the sounds aren’t half bad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8qlTg5yBiA
A live clip of their newer track, “was filmed by a show called Rockzone, T.v Station Tim”:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rVDAjgjKzM
Wrong Creations from their first EP:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPMGByFaGbY
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Darkest-Place-111254205443/


Bonus material

Update 28.06.17

One of the makers of Terra Pesada Documentary (www.terrapesada.com) kindly linked another Mosambique metal band that is even gigging at the moment, Norbormide NMD (www.facebook.com/norbormidenmd). Self described: “NMD blends various Heavy/Death Metalcore and fusion elements creating a unique sound that will surely broaden your Musical Horizons!)”. These guys seem to know what they are doing, the sounds have a lot of punch too: https://soundcloud.com/user-291612655/vozes

SarcotrofiA

I love the few rare descriptions that you can find from Sarcotrofia in the internet. In total equals the amount of Mozambique metal releases, 2. The next one is funny and puzzling at the same time. I mean, this time the bass player gets titled in but drummer is stated as “horrible”. It’s actually meant to be a positive thing I think, haha! I mean just read this jewel: “If you hate brutal metal make sure you listen to this EP so that you hate it more. If you love this EP make sure that you call the doctor, you sick freak.” 😕 😕 😕

Sarcotrofia
It is the time for these zombies from Mozambique to prove that metal music will not be stopped, no matter what the circumstances may be. In 2006 the drumming maniac named Goro Fast decided to bring together a group of metalheads that could take metal from the mind to the gutter. I should warn you: if you are a politically correct individual and you get easily offended by disgusting imaginations, you better stop reading right now because things are about to get fugly. Sick and disgusting death metal is the only game in town here. I don’t have much information to tell you, except that this band is not for those with a weak stomach. The band is:

Namesis Daude: grunt screams chaos
Euclides Anatolly: guitar butcher chaos
Jubless Jubileu: bass abuser chaos
Goro Fast: horrible drumming chaos

The band writes guttural brutality with songs like the EP “Left to Rot”:
1.Ghost Monk 03:10
2.Brutal Stab 04:53
3.RATM 04:53
4.Benighted 04:29
5.Panic At Morgue 05:52
total time 23:17

If you hate brutal metal make sure you listen to this EP so that you hate it more. If you love this EP make sure that you call the doctor, you sick freak. http://www.soundcloud.com/sarcotrofia
http://metalbulletin.blogspot.com/2015/10/sarcotrofia.html

Monumental metal 4 – Epixperimental playlist

Bring out the weird again, epic experimental tracks! This playlist features bands from experimental terrain that have a solid basis on metal.

1. Rudra‘s Illusory Enlightment is “Vedic” metal from Singapore. Vedic comes from their incorporation of Sanskrit Vedic literature, philosophy and ancient mantras (shlokas) to blackened death metal basis. They also encompass traditional Carnatic music to their compositions. Illusory Enlightment’s top moment is the compelling chanting chorus. See also the review of their album Brahmavidya: Immortal I here.

2. Jumalhämärä is one of the many bands in Finnish experimental black metal terrain that has gotten more attention in the past 10 years. Along with bands like Oranssi Pazuzu, Abyssion, Mörkö, Jumalhämärä is probably the weirdest of the bunch. The title track of their most accessible album Resignaatio is a rare catchy, almost punky, track and in their catalogue that makes it an abnormality. Its deep bass rumbling intro turns into naturally flowing structure, captivating Finnish lyrics with supremely hooking riffing and stylish use of upstrokes. You know what they released after Resignaatio? A drone pipe organ album. Really.

3. December Wolves is one of the many bands I found from Earache presents: Metal – A headbanger’s companion (2007). It is from the CD 2 – Grindcore, but especially CD 6 – Leftfield is a great listen (Cult of Luna, Callisto, Scorn, Godflesh, Akercocke, Crotchduster etc.). Desperately Seeking Satan could be called leftfield, though its roots are firmly in black metal. The heavy use of voice clips, nihilistic lyrics and programmed drums combining industrial with violent black metal guitars make their 2002 release Blasterpiece Theatre have a sound appearance unlike any other.

4. The Meads of Asphodel – Children of the Sunwheel Banner (part 2). You could say that Metatron, the vocalist of Meads of Asphodel takes making lyrics a bit seriously. Their webpage has about 100 pages of text per album about the lyrical themes. So you can imagine it surges pretty deep. It seems the web page is unfortunately down at the moment though.

Sunwheel banner obviously references to nazis. I am not even going into the stuff of them being “nazis” because they are a metal band that has an interest of the atrocities of the past + uses the word “jew”. Oh and one of the 10 labels that has released their music has apparently released an NSBM release, jeez.

Like in one of my previous playlists Monumental metal oddities, I placed “cousin” bands The Meads of Asphodel and Sigh after each other. They have enough eccentric material to use for a few playlists. Also, the keyboard solo in Children of the Sunwheel Banner is played by none else than the main man behind Sigh, Mirai Kawashima.

5. Sigh – A Messenger From Tomorrow (I. The Message – II. Foreboding – III. Doomsday). The most epic track in Sigh’s catalogue. Surprisingly also one of the lightest ones, based on strong orchestral melodies. The lesser amount of heavy distortion guitars does not mean the composition wouldn’t be huge though. A Messenger From Tomorrow only further proves the multifacetedness of Sigh as a monstrously diverse band.

6. Negură Bunget – Cunoașterea tăcută. Negura Bunget’s 2006 release Om is one of the highlights of 2000s black metal in both song-writing and originality. The introduction of Romanian traditional instruments, epic soundscapes, shamanistic repetitive passages, raw production and very oldschool black metal elements blew many a mind. Cunoașterea tăcută includes one of those clean melodies (at 3.00) that makes you wonder on what plane of being it was conceived. Oldschool black metal riffing accompanied with traditional instruments and high-flying folk singing with the catchiness of bubonic plague.

7. Ufomammut – Daemons. What a Monster riff to close up their 2015 release, Ecate. That is all that needs to be said really.

Best albums and tracks of 2016

Also known as what new releases I happened to listen in a limited timespan of one year.

Last year I realized I’m not too old yet as many an album caused childlike enthusiasm. In the early 2016 it was mostly blasts from 2015 (Wilderun!) but as the year went on, 2016 unveiled a good amount of solid material. 2015 had higher peaks but 2016 did have its share of killers with a strong base level. As proven by 2015 reprise list that you can find on the bottom of this text, many of the best albums are going to be unveiled only later.


Best albums of 2016

Vektor — Terminal Redux – progressive sci-fi thrash metal – Vektor’s hyped 2016 release is astronomically progressive metal. Vektor was the best modern thrash metal band for years, it is about time for them to get recognition. For an album that sates and mildly bores the listener while delivering killer tracks (Pteropticon, Psychotrophia, Pillars of Sand) a bit over midway, it is astonishingly good but would be more enjoyable shorter. The last two tracks, Collapse and Recharging the Void manage to uplift the album to great heights again with surprising twists. It’s really not a better or worse album than their previous efforts but ridiculously good and full of everything tasty. 

Katatonia — The Fall of Heartsprogressive melancholic rock/metal – Some outerworldly charm with heartbreaking atmosphere. Drags time to time yet still wrenches heartstrings every minute. Passer‘s descending scale should be obnoxious yet it is genuinely alluring. How on earth did they make it work. I did not expect this at all, what a comeback.

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá: A Piece for Mind & Mirrorfolk / folk metal – A project by Enslaved and Wardruna veterans, which may run below radar cause of it’s eccentric name that sounds like artsy folk music. In a lot of ways Skuggsja sounds more like folk with metal elements than the other way around. Though even the folkier tracks often have a heavy backbone that owes to metal and makes these two elements come together naturally. Stunning.


Excellent (9-)

jumalten_aika

Moonsorrow — Jumalten Aika – folk metal / black metal


Very good (8½)

Panssarijuna — Nyt Sattuu – trauma blues / rock

Omnium Gatherum — Grey HeavensWhen rather basic melodeath manages to excite me like Grey Heavens does, it’s worth a lot of points.

The Wounded Kings — Visions In Bonedoom metal


Good+ (8+)

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — Nonagon Infinity – psychedelic rock / garage rock

Fleshgod Apocalypse — King – symphonic metal / neoclassical death metal

Oneohtrix Point Never — Garden of Deleteelectronic / experimental / IDM – Probably an album I was most excited about cause it’s such a fresh kick in the eardrums (I just found out it’s a November 2015 release but what the hell, it was an important album for me last year).

Haken — Affinityprogressive rock – Some of the best moments of 2016 but also completely lackluster tracks. Their 2013 record The Mountain which I also found this year would be up there among the best albums of the year.

Whispered — Metsutan – Songs Of The Void – Japan influenced melodic death metal 

Behexen — The Poisonous Path – black metal


Good (8ish)

Paradox — Pangea – oldschool thrash metal

Blaakyum — Line of Fear – thrash metal

King Goat — Conduit doom metal / heavy metal

Myrath — Legacy – progressive rock / metal

Anaal Nathrakh — The Whole of the Law – grindcore, black metal

Hebosagil — Lohtu – sludge

Tähtiportti — Eetterimessu EBM

If These Trees Could Talk — The Bones of a Dying World post-rock

Dark Lunacy — The Rain After The Snow melancholic melodic death metal

Trees of Eternity — The Hour of The Nightingale – atmospheric doom metal

Oranssi Pazuzu — Värähtelijäpsychedelic black metal – I wanted this to be the best album of the year but unfortunately it’s the worst in Pazuzu’s discography. Another of my personal hype albums with Vektor. Vektor delivered, Pazuzu sort of. It does have about 50 mins of solid material but there’s an extra 20 mins  on top.


We’re still good (7½)

Alcest — Kodama – blackgaze

Vola — Inmazes – djent / progressive rock

Mogwai — Atomic – post-rock

The Dillinger Escape Plan — Dissociation – progressive metal / mathcore / metalcore

Riutta — Sinun Täytyy Elää Vielä Kerran – progressive rock / indie rock

Sulphur — Omens of Doom – black metal


Okay (7ish)

Hanging Garden — Hereafter – melancholic rock / doom metal

Obscura — Akróasis – progressive metal

Glanko — Isometrik – downtempo / ambient / IDM

Wöljager — Van’t Liëwen un Stiäwen – neofolk

Insomnium — Winter’s Gatemelancholic melodic death metal – It was supposed to finally be a great album after all the pretty good melodeath they’ve done of late, repeating the same formula that drew so much blood in their early albums. In the end it’s just pretty good melodeath again with some quite stunning moments.

Be’lakor — Vesselsmelancholic progressive melodic death metal – Alike Insomnium, in theory Vessels is a really good album but there’s something bothering me. Maybe it’s the production that lacks danger, or the sounds that remind of Insomnium too much.


Okay- (6½)

Most 6ish albums I didnt listen enough and/or simply forgot about but these ones got a chance. None of them are bad but I’ve already heard similar stuff done way better or they elude my musical preferences.

KYPCK — 3epo – Doom metal

Reptilian — Perennial Void Traverse – Death metal


Oh well… (6ish)

Devin Townsend Project — Transcendence – progressive metal – I wanted to like Transcendence cause I dig Devin’s creative lunacy. However, Transcendence has an unbearable scent of virtues and purity. In a way it’s the opposite album to the chaotic nature of Deconstruction. Clean production, clean prog metal, fun for everyone. Not for me, I crave for some evil.

Spigu — Viimeinen papukaija – indie pop / country – Spigu’s first album from 2013 was one of the biggest surprises this year, if it was a 2016 release it would be on the very good category. Unfortunately Viimeinen Papukaija fell short. I don’t get the lyrics and the sprained bluegrass feel is replaced with compositions and themes so major key it doesn’t strike my positive nerve at all. At least the title track is a nice piece. I still haven’t lost hope on him.

Venetian Snares — Traditional Synthesizer Musicbreakcore / improvisational – My face when he finally… (makes an album that does not hold my interest).

Deathspell Omega — The Synarchy of Molten Bones – progressive black metal – Evil [x], atmospheric [x], virtuoso [x], good riffs [x], bad riffs [x], songwriting [-], thanks for coming see you next time. Even the dark lord must be thinking: “Man, these guys sure make worship hard for themselves, how about you just switch to a frigging goat sacrifice every now and then?”.


Best tracks of 2016

Haken – The Architect
Haken – Initiate
Oranssi Pazuzu – Hypnotisoitu Viharukous
Riutta – Valkoinen Kohina
Riutta – Lorenz
Hebosagil – Pian tämä kaikki on ohi
Oneohtrix Point Never – Animals
Katatonia – Residual
Katatonia – Passer
Trees of Eternity – Gallows Bird
Tähtiportti – Abraxas
Tähtiportti – Ihmeiden aika ei ole ohi
Vektor  – Mountains Above The Sun & Ultimate Artificer

Bubbling under

Brilliant tracks just below the first category. Except on a good day…

The Wounded Kings – Beast
Riutta – Pyhäjoki
Hebosagil – Peltirumpu
Oneohtrix Point Never – Sticky Drama
Alcest – Oiseaux De Proie
Moonsorrow – Mimisbrunn
If These Trees Could Talk – Swallowing Teeth
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – People-Vultures
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Road Train
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Evil Death Roll
Omnium Gatherum – Storm Front
Vola – The Same War
Mogwai – U235
Sulphur – The Force of Our Fall
Sulphur – Gathering Storms
Trees of Eternity – The Eye of The Night
Vektor – Collapse
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá – Tore Hund
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá  – Rop frå røynda / mælt frå minne
Whispered – Tsukiakari


2015 reprise

a bunch of really interesting 2015 releases found too late


10

Wilderun — Sleep at the Edge of the Earthprogressive symphonic folk metal – The best album since 2014, or perhaps even further

9ish
Lost Soul — Atlantis: The New Beginning – technical death metal
Lik — Mass Funeral Evocation oldschool death metal
Hanging Garden — Blackout Whiteout doom metal / melancholic rock


Genocide Shrines — Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil: Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder – death metal
Akrabu — Ziggurat Ascension – acoustic folk / ritual

8
Barren Earth — On Lonely Towers – progressive death metal / melodic death metal
Satan — Atom By Atom – heavy metal
Janne Westerlund — Marshland – folk / country
Batushka — Litourgiya – melodic black metal
Slægt — Beautiful and Damned – heavy metal / black metal
Ghost — Meliora – heavy metal / hard rock
Venetian Snares — Your Face (When I Finally) – breakcore


Downfall of Nur — Umbras de Barbagia – atmospheric black metal
Zuriaake — 孤雁 Gu Yan – atmospheric black metal

Owls – The Night Stays

mi0003157707Owls’ 2011 album, The Night Stays starts with a bang. The first two tracks Hide and Seek and The Night Stays unite bass-rich downtempo with intense atmosphere and acoustic guitar & keys lusciously but most of the rest album easily sinks into just rather pleasing somber soundwave. If the Night Stays seems redundant or hard to grasp after the surprise of such captivating dark beats wears out, you need to give it some time.

It took about a year’s pause for the album to grow from tasty bits to a rather fantastic entity. Yet it is undeniable that the tastiest bits are served in the start. Title track’s luscious distortion and bright xylophone, bass backdrop and gloomy yet blackly humorous Tony Wakeford lyrics explore such depths of brain activity you’d be surprised.

Tony Wakeford’s vocals which always divide opinions fit the pace so well you come to hope Sol Invictus had more electronics. The lyrics are strangely more exposed than in Sol Invictus and as strong as one can expect from a Wakeford record. Occasional very neofolkish guitarwork commemorates the dark toned compositions. I have been told the genres in question can be classified as trip hop or downtempo.

Owls is indeed not just Tony Wakeford, but a threesome, the electronicswork of Eraldo Bernocchi and Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari cannot be underestimated. Both also have a gazillion other projects including Somma, Obake, O.R.k (Pat Mastelotto :O). and collaborations for example with Mick Harris (of Napalm Death), Ephel Duath and Eivind Aarset (a man with another gazillion projects).

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Owls live @ Wave-Gotik-Treffen, Leipzig, 2011.

Perhaps the reason for the slow reception of The Night Stays is the difficult track order. It kicks right in but it takes until the 8th track We Took This Land to find a really tight footing again. A fragile guitar driven track that portrays great nihilistic lyrics about American oppression and breaks loose to a distorted and powerful chorus:
o, we took this land with bribes and murder,
and we will keep it too
don’t pretend to be so shocked,
it’s what the right (or white?) men do [i may have misheard some of this part]

In the middle part perhaps the brightest glimmer is the the glorious end to the repetitive Come Back, even though I have no idea what they are singing about. Strange Kind of Beauty is as titled, a touching slow burner which creates magical twinkling atmosphere in minimalistic ambientish/neofolkish background.

With Tony Wakeford’s solo album Not All Of Me Will Die, The Night Stays fits to A-category only shallowly under the best bits of Sol Invictus.

8½/10

Alcest – Kodama

594384The songwriter / guitarist / vocalist of Alcest, Neige is undoubtedly some sort of genius. Alcest is the kind of music that I should hate or be completely bored of, but I’m not. At best I love them (and have a slight man-crush on Neige, but who Alcest fan doesn’t?). Alcest can evoke feels unlike any other band. Not in terms of largest scale, but different.

The preceding album Shelter‘s half-boring, half-ok post-rockpopfest felt dangerous like a picnic in kindergarten. It ended with a mighty and infusing 10 minute track Delivrance and the 2016 release Kodama also saves the best for last. The last minutes of Oiseaux de proie‘s blastbeating and ethereal melodies could go on forever. Just when I am hoping that it would explode like first album’s Les Iris into an even more supremely emotional melody (yet afraid that if it happens I might end up shedding some tears), it ends, unfortunately.

Even for a heartless music reviewer Neige’s French still sounds damn romantic. The fourth track Untouched is pretty but I can’t get over how hentai it sounds in this romantic Japanese context. It’s just wrong or I am a crooked-minded bastard. Probably both. I’m glad both of the skeleton hands are ON the surface of the water in the album cover.

Kodama is a fine album overall. Shelter went too deep to majorkeys out of the darkside and lingering melancholia of blackgaze. On Kodama, there’s more metal elements that distribute variety. Clever twists surprise just when things are on verge of going too cheesy (take the title tracks echoing surround acoustic guitars as an example). This interplay also makes the emotional parts more compelling. Surprisingly the track with the most growling vocals and blastbeating, Eclosion is also the most positive one.

Unlike Souvenirs d’un autre monde (1st album) and Shelter (4th album) Kodama delivers enough to be lockered with the truly successful entities Écailles de lune (2nd album) and Les voyages de l’âme (3rd album).

Les voyages de l’âme grew to be a fine album, but it took over a year, I expect Kodama may well keep getting better. Les voyages has many of the finest moments in Alcest discography which will keep it superior to Kodama, but neither can challenge the strongest base level of Écailles de lune. However, I am still waiting Alcest to combine these elements on a flawless display that the band has been hinting towards for over 10 years now.

7+/10 (with growth potential)