Skuggsja

Monumental Folkish & Folk metal playlist

1. Fleurety – Fragmenter av en Fortid disappeared from Spotify just a while ago, it will be added back when it comes back around. Full-length Min tid skal komme from 1995 is the real jewel of their discography. One of many “lost” metal releases that many consider a classic but most people have never heard about. It’s definitely a must checkup for fans of folkish metal.

1. Fleurety’s place was taken by Pillorian, the newly formed line-up of ex-Agalloch John Haughm. After Agalloch split into two pieces in 2016, the remaining three members went to form Khôrada that is due to release their first album. Pillorian‘s 2017 release Obsidian Arc starts with it’s brightest spots, By the Light of a Black Sun (+ Archaen Divinity) should sate most Agalloch fans.

2. Fen is not a band that I’ve tracked, even though it’s similarities to Agalloch have been known to me since their first full-length Malediction Fields in 2009. It is only lately that I gave a true chance to their unpolished first album and it unveiled a real jewel in Lashed by Storm. The weak clean vocals in the very end are it’s only grey spot. Fen’s 2017 release Winter materialized on my listening cycle; it does have some very atmospheric sections but its also really-frigging-long (75 minutes!). I would deem it very possible that a track from it appears to my playlists later on.

3.-4. As a humble praise, Wilderun‘s Sleep at the Edge of Earth might be my favourite metal release of past 5 years. It has a glorious quaternity Ash Memory (trinity has 3, quaternity 4, yeah i just looked it up from google…), from which 2 well fitting tracks were chosen. Hope and Shadow (II), and the The Faintest Echo (IV). The traces in the beginning of Hope and Shadow that clip in this collection are from the 1st track of the quaternity. Wilderun really took care to make it a logical entity which I then disturbed!

The Faintest Echo’s 3.20 monumental symphonic centerpiece and outro of the quaternity is a prime example why Wilderun’s output doesn’t pale in comparison with any symphonic and folk metal bands of today.

5. Tore Hund is by Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá. It is a project by Enslaved and Wardruna veterans, which may run below radar cause of it’s eccentric name that sounds like artsy folk music. Well um, it is kind of that actually, 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.

6. In Zuriaake‘s Afterimage of Autumn‘s most stunning moment, the chorus of 歸兮 / Return Journey Zuriaake seamlessly adds a traditional sounding Chinese tremolo melody to a slow doomy basis. Unfortunately I could not pick the name of this guitar like string instrument as the booklet is all in Chinese (except track titles). Zuriaake’s black metal focuses on entwining natural atmospherics, ambience with very overdriven guitars and depressive black metal vibe. I also reviewed them in the past (https://likemusictoyourears.com/2016/01/26/zuriaake-afterimage-of-autumn).

7. October Falls is an interesting beast for their first promo was metal but three of the first four official releases were acoustic guitar driven material with a lot of natural ambience. Since then they’ve mostly strolled on the metallic grounds, always with quality but rarely with something that really catches my ears. A Collapse of Faith Part III, from 2010 A Collapse of Faith must be their best track to date. I must admit however that I have spent way too little time in adjusting to 2013, The Plague of a Coming Age. That ought to be my next listen.

8. The noise / drone wall of Sol InvictusEnglish Murder‘s intro make it a significantly difficult piece. But I am not making these collections for layman listeners quick fix. The controversy and paradox of a folk track being actually heavier and darker than the following metal track make it a juicy addon.

9. Logically following Sol Invictus is Agalloch, who have listed Sol Invictus as one of their big influences. Agalloch is one of the very first metal bands that I got into and surely the first folkish metal band. Yet in their sound progressive elements, post-rock and melancholia are also ever present. Limbs 10 minute brilliance is started by deliciously annoyingly long 10 second note after which it goes all post-rock. Climbing to mountains, descending into valleys and drifting among the transparent mist.

I do appreciate a well timed and set up grunt, John Haughm’s 6.35 effort is one of the prime examples! “These boughs were said to be lost! Torn, unearthed and broken –  IYRRRRRRRRRRRR”. What the fuck is he even singing about? There must be something to it as it inspires genuine sing-along grunting from yours truly. When it comes to grunting, Haughm is right up there with Thomas Gabriel Fischer.

10. Skyclad‘s past two albums haven’t been nearly as notable as most of their 12 full-lengths before them (many of them are masterpieces after all). I would only rate A Burnt Offering for the Bone Idol and No Daylights Not Heeltaps on level with the new albums. However, on In The… All Together from 2009 Skyclad formed possibly the best track of their career, The Well-Travelled Man. The vocalist Kevin Ridley is on fire, shouting half of the track. Lyrics and composition communicate perfectly into a folky, dramatic, upbeat, yet melancholic tune with a heart-wrenching ending. Wow.

Advertisements

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