Practice the Pause.

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To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

It is time for a pause. For an indefinite period of time this blog is put on ice. But it is not farewell. I’ll be back. Probably.

Thank you for staying with me thus far.

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EP Review: Elephant Watchtower – The Church Is At Fault

Elephant Watchtower - The Church Is At Fault - Metal SoliloquyElephant Watchtower is a one-man progressive death metal project from Ontario, Canada. The Church Is At Fault is the band’s debut EP. Had I listened to this EP without any information on the band, I think I would not have suspected that this is a one man project. The music sounds grand and fleshed-out, the many layers of the compositions complement each other and end up painting an impressive musical picture of detailed and massive soundscapes that draw you into a dark and vivid world. Lyrically, The Church Is At Fault can be read as a pamphlet on the current state of “the church”, the hypocrisy and ideological issues within it, and the often negative influence the institution has on our society, seen from the inside.

Impoverished and pained, they live in our waste
Who carries the weight of every cent we take?
Starvation prevails, our calling we’ve failed
The church is to blame for this world that we’ve ailed
Famished by selfishness, Lives have been lost
And it is our fault
Lighting our stages with stolen donations
We taint the name of Christ

These are some of the lyrics taken from the title track. Elephant Watchtower clearly don’t beat around the bush when it comes to preaching truth, as painful as it may be, in their lyrics. And the music definitely fits the severity and determination of the lyrics: Blastbeats, fast and brutal death metal riffs and abyssal growls are consistent elements of the three tracks the 27 minutes long EP consists of. But those are only some of the elements Elephant Watchtower’s music is characterized by. Melodic guitar leads, multi-layered harmonious riffing and stunning synth arrangements are utilized to give the music an impressive wall-of-sound character. Repeatedly, these periods of compositional density are interrupted by proggy breaks, with tempo-shifts and diverse musical elements such as acoustic guitar sections coming into play. The beautiful melodies, in combination with the massive walls of heaviness, give the whole record a very epic atmosphere that is only enhanced by its calmer moments.

As a whole, The Church Is At Fault is a fantastic debut EP that sounds and feels as if it was made by a very experienced band. The compositions show stylistic confidence and creativity, perfectly balancing out brutality and beauty, the production is on point, letting the multiple musical elements of the songs shine, and the overall songwriting makes for a very cohesive, entertaining and engaging listening experience. This band deserves all the attention it can get, as it shows tremendous potential and could easily become the “next big thing” in the extreme metal underground.


The Church Is At Fault was self-released May 1st and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Follow Elephant Watchtower: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp

Album Review: Skald in Veum – Stridslysten

Skald In Veum - Stridslysten - Metal Soliloquy

If someone told me Skald in Veum was a black metal band active in the 1990s, I would not be surprised in the slightest. Made up of five anonymous figures hailing from the frostbitten depths of Scandinavia, the band delivers some of the most aggressive, furious black metal you can imagine. Drawing influence from bands such as Dark Funeral, Immortal, Watain & 1349, Skald in Veum carry the torch of oldschool black metal into the modern age.

After releasing their highly acclaimed debut EP 1260 Days in 2015, it got silent around the band. Now, four years later, they are finally back with their debut full length album Stridslysten. I have not heard their EP debut, so I went into this album without any expectations – and I was blown away by it. These guys are not fooling around. The music offered on this beast of an album is aggressive, fast, relentless black metal that does not care about trends or current musical movements.

This is oldschool black metal at its finest. Supersonic blast beats, furious and sharp riffs and abrasive vocals make up the sound of Stridslysten. Do not expect atmospheric synths, folksy interludes or moments of silence on this album. You will find nothing here except black metal in its purest form. Well, and some strong black’n’roll tendencies here and there, ’cause at times this thing is groovy as heck.

Skald in Veum - Metal Soliloquy

Lyrically, the album is just as uncompromising and fierce. The band’s ideological leader “Heth” delivers lyrics reminiscent of the messages of the prophets of the old testament. They are preaching fire and brimstone – vengeance and furious anger over a stubborn world that seems to turn a blind eye to the injustice and ungodlyness displayed in every corner. Critisizing both society and the church, Skald in Veum leave no stone unturned and take you to a place and time where blood and fire bring rest.

Here is an example of what to expect lyrically:

These days we repeat such filth with pride.
Perversions elevated to the state of state-religion,
marching through the gates of every city.

Or how about this lovely stanza:

You bite your wallet and bend over for rectal intrusion,
by the tower of Babylon that you made,
and the ones who stand in line,
are the guardians you paid.

Zahjin - Metal Soliloquy

Surprised that Christians use such imagery? Well, I recommend checking out the Bible, because this is the imagery God uses, too. He does not care about politeness when it comes to sin. He hates it with every fibre of his being. That’s why this kind of music and this kind of language is something we need more of in the “Christian scene”. Less contemporary half-heartedness and more uncompromising conviction.

To conclude this review, i can only say this: If you like black metal, I am almost 100 percent sure that you will enjoy this album. It embodies everything that originally defined this genre – it is radical, dark, aggressive, uncompromising, both musically and lyrically, and it radiates an atmosphere of fierceness and non-conformity. Check it out and let the fiery flood wash over your soul.


Stridslysten was released April 12th via Nordic Mission Rottweiler Records and can be purchased at Bandcamp and Nordic Mission.

Follow Skald in Veum on Facebook.

Album Review: Starcaller – Perdition

Starcaller - Perdition - Metal Soliloquy

Starcaller is a three-piece death metal band from Mobile, Alabama. That was a quite surprising information to me because the music sounds and feels much more “Northern” than Alabama. Playing a melancholic and at times quite doomy blend of blackened melodic death metal, I would have expected this band to be from Scandinavia or Canada, but limiting genres to certain countries and vice versa is a stupid thing anyways.

That being said, lets get to the album itself. Perdition is the band’s full length debut, and a good one at that. With a playing time of 38 minutes, spanning over 8 tracks, the album has a very nice length. It is long enough for the band to let their ideas and visions unravel and work on the listener and it is short enough to at no point get boring or uninteresting. According to the band, the album is meant to take the listener on a journey through “tormented minds and cursed fates”, a journey from this realm into another, “capturing the dissonance of a soul placed in the wrong reality”. As interesting as this concept is, I am going to be honest with you and say straight out of the gate that I did not pay a lot of attention to the lyrics at all. Not that I am not interested, it’s just that I focused my attention on the music itself, which is what I do most of the time.

Starcaller - Metal Soliloquy

And in regards to the music, I can confidently say that Starcaller succeed in creating a more or less picture perfect melodic death metal album that will please every fan of the genre. The aforementioned black metal elements are not very prominent throughout the whole album, but there are some moments when they really shine and add a lot of character to the archetypical melo-death tropes. Two tracks where the black metal influence are more in the foreground are “Hungering Runes” and “Beyond the Blood and Ash”, two of my favourite tracks on the records.

 

There is nothing about this album that I really dislike: The music is very well-mixed, allowing every single instrument to shine. I especially love how thick and prominent the bass is in the mix and how it harmonizes with the drums. It gives a doomy vibe to the music and compliments the melodic guitar riffs and the fantastic harsh vocals perfectly. The songs are well-written, with most tracks staying below the five-minute mark, making for a well-paced and entertaining listen. The melodies are beautiful and “catchy” throughout the record. And despite being a little generic in its overall musical style, the melancholic atmosphere and the black metal elements are two things that make Starcaller stand out from their peers.

Now that I think about it, the only thing I’d criticize about Perdition is that it could do with even a little more of that certain “something”. You can already see a lot of identity in these songs, but the band clearly has the potential to get even more interesting and stylistically unique on future releases. I am definitely looking forward to it, because this album is a mighty fine debut.


Perdition was released on March 8th and is available at Bandcamp.

Follow StarcallerBandcamp | Facebook

Album Review: Monograf – Nadir

Monograf - Nadir - Metal SoliloquyMonograf is a five-piece band from Oslo, Norway. Nadir is their debut album and the result of a long writing and recording process. The album was recorded and produced by songwriter Erik Aanonsen over a four-year period in a church, a hundred-year-old community center, an art school, two studios and a host of apartments in Oslo. This origin story alone is pretty impressive, and the result is likewise amazing and shows that it was definitely worth the efforts.

Nadir is a concept album of sorts, dealing primarily with the issue of money and its power over us. The word “Nadir” is used to describe the lowest point in a series of collected data. In the context of the album it expresses the lowest point of the human experience, when we deny our identity in order to get more of what we think will make us happy. History is full of examples of the destructive power of greed and lust for money and wealth and Monograf explore this topic on Nadir.

Monograf - Metal Soliloquy

Lyrics like these, taken from the  song “Horde”, express that every one of us has the responsibility for what we are doing, the consequences of our actions and of our consumer behaviour:

When will we ever learn
that money’s only vapor?
Our thoughts, their blood.
We reap, we gorge, they bleed; perversion
We are accountable for what we know;
we reap, we sow.

Death claims the Hoarder - Hans Holbein - Metal Soliloquy

Death claims the Hoarder – Hans Holbein (taken from the album booklet)

The coin on the cover is a symbol for all of this, a warning and a waking call. Too often we live in our “Western” bubble, ignoring what is going on around the world, the things that we support by living in luxury, at the expense of others. We want a lot, we want it fast and we don’t care about the consequences. Sometimes it seems like money is our god. But there are things you cant buy. And in the end, all the material wealth we’ve hoarded is nothing but vanity. We gain nothing. Death claims all of us.

The music these lyrics are transported and complemented by is melancholic and contemplative, the whole album is a meditation, both lyrically and musically. Combining meditative, atmospheric post-rock with a vast array of Norwegian folk elements, tastefully incorporated fiddle, acoustic guitar, Hammond organ and Chamberlin parts, Monograf succeed in creating a unique and fascinating sound. The music is varied and beautiful, with heavier wall-of-sound sections, subtle sections of haunting ambiance and beautiful moments of musical playfulness.

The vocals of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Erik Aanonsen are melodious, emotional and at times almost fragile-sounding, oftentimes reminding me of My Epic’s Aaron Stone. In some instances, they are joined by fiddler Sunniva Molvær Ihlhaug, as well as backing vocals by the band’s drummer and bassist. Those almost choir-like vocal moments serve as peaks in the generally rather depressive emotional landscape of the album.

The final track “Horde”, which takes one third of the album’s whole playing time is definitely the most impressive piece on the record and showcases all of the elements mentioned above, combined into an extensive, evolving composition.

As a whole, the album clearly succeeds in conveying a feeling of sadness and desolation, but there are moments of hope to be found in some places on the record. Because that’s the way it is in real life, too, isn’t it? This darkness, the ugly character of society, the depressing reality of world hunger and social inequality, those things are heavy and unpleasing to face. But there is hope. There are ways to change things. We need to look for them and we need to act to enable a change. And that change has to start within ourselves.


Nadir will be released March 22nd and is available for pre-order at Bandcamp.

Follow MonografBandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Split Review: Bismoth / Symphony of Heaven / TIMŌRĀTUS – Body of Christ

Bismoth / Symphony of Heaven / TIMŌRĀTUS - Body of Christ - Metal Soliloquy

Black metal has evolved a lot since the early nineties. An album called Body of Christ would have caused an outrage in the early days of the genre when there was such a strong focus on the ideological identity of it. I think it is safe to say that openly Christian black metal bands (if you want to call them “Christian bands”) still aren’t fully accepted by a majority of black metal fans and musicians, but there is definitely a positive development going on with the genre becoming more open and open-minded in regards to both the musical style and the lyrical content and ideologies of the bands involved. As a Christian and a black metal enthusiast myself, I am always happy to see bands who make high-quality black metal with a strong Christian message, thus staying true to both the genre and their faith, proving that black metal isn’t necessarily connected to one specific ideology but is a medium that can basically convey whatever message you want.

Body of Christ is an ambitious split album by three Christian underground black metal projects, namely TIMŌRĀTUS (USA), Symphony of Heaven (USA) and Bismoth (South Africa). The album clocks in at 38 minutes, spread over six tracks, two by each of the three artists.  Each band plays a different style of black metal, from TIMŌRĀTUS’ ethereal, melodic post-black metal, through Symphony of Heaven’s more aggressive, riff-focused blackened death metal and Bismoth’s contemplative, atmospheric and raw blackgaze approach, resulting in an album that from a stylistic perspective alone, is a very interesting and varied work.

TIMORATUS - Metal Soliloquy

David and Courtney Napier, TIMŌRĀTUS

One thing that immediately caught my attention on the album’s opening track, “Brothers, You Are not Alone” by TIMŌRĀTUS, was the multi-facetted vocal performance. What I didn’t realize was that that track alone contains guest vocals by not one, not two or even three, but eleven(!) singers, including members of renowned underground bands such as Taking the Head of Goliath, Shadow Puncher, Abated Mass of Flesh and Mystic Winter. The second track, “The Root of Unity” by TIMŌRĀTUS, features an equally impressive vocal extravaganza courtesy of three female singers besides TIMŌRĀTUS’ very own Courtney Napier. With lyrics focusing on the unity of Christians in the body of Christ, it seems only appropriate that these tracks are the result of a collaboration of so many artists who are united not only by their love of music, but also, and on a much deeper level, by the blood of Christ. Both of the TIMŌRĀTUS tracks, especially “The Root of Unity”, radiate a certain atmosphere of comfort, they are uplifting and beautiful and truly edifying to listen to.

Symphony of Heaven - Metal Soliloquy

Pathos, Symphony of Heaven

The mood certainly changes with the next two tracks by Symphony of Heaven. They are not only a lot darker in tone, but also much more agressive stylistically. Lyrically, too, these tracks talk about the darker side of the Christian experience. The aptly titled “Death of Denomination” criticizes the tendency of many Christians to attack each other over different opinions regarding theological questions instead of focusing on what unites us – Jesus’ sacrifice that saves us from damnation. “For Glory” talks about martyrdom, about Christians suffering and dying for their faith – and for the glory of God. Both tracks are powerful and gripping, dark and intense, with riffs that are as kvlt as it gets.

Bismoth - Symphony of Heaven

Jethro de Beer, Bismoth

The two final tracks of the album are the most raw ones production-wise, while stylistically being the most calm, contemplative ones. Bismoth plays beautiful post-black metal/blackgaze with a clear focus on atmosphere. “Anguish and Agape” has a strong Vials of Wrath or Deafest vibe to it, alternating between sound-of-wall style blast beat sections and clean airy, melancholic guitar melodies. Album closer “In Christ Together” is a rather simple song that rounds the album up nicely.

As a whole, Body of Christ is an amazing and powerful record, both musically and lyrically. It is the result of an ambitious and passionate collaboration of some of the best artists in the Christian extreme metal underground that absolutely succeeds in transporting an important message to Christians all around the world: “Let His light grow us together / May our branches intertwine / With each other, through Him”, for we are one in Christ.


Body of Christ will be released digitally on March 19th and will be available at Bandcamp. A physical release, including a bonus track, is planned for this summer.

Watch an album teaser here:


Follow the artists:

Bismoth:  Bandcamp | Facebook
Symphony of Heaven:  Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram
TIMŌRĀTUS :  Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Single Stream: Deafheaven – “Black Brick”

Deafheaven - Black Brick - Metal Soliloquy

Grammy nominated blackgaze outfit Deafheaven have released a new song titled “Black Brick” yesterday. The track is a B-side from their latest album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. While Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is Deafheaven’s “softest” album yet, seeing the band focusing primarily on their dreamy post-rock and shoegaze influences, “Black Brick” might be their heaviest track to date. Channelling the greatness of 90s black and thrash metal, without neglecting their post-metal tendencies, Deafheaven deliver a furious and dark, yet atmospheric extreme metal track you should not miss.


Follow Deafheaven: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Album Review: This Week In The Universe – Tellurian

This Week In The Universe - Tellurian - Metal Soliloquy

This Week in the Universe is a musical project by two brothers, Beau and Casey Golden, who are both working as musicians and producers in Sydney. Inspired by 80s film music & synthwave, as well as their personal experiences in the Australian electronic music scene, This Week in the Universe is the result of a creative processing of these elements.

Tellurian is the duo’s second full length record and a a follow-up to their self-titled debut album. Utilising an expansive array of synthesizers, drum machines and samples, the brothers worked on this album for almost a year – a working process that resulted in an interesting, versatile and exciting album.

This Week in the Universe - Metal Soliloquy

Let’s be honest for a minute here: 80s inspired retro-synth has gotten pretty boring and repetitive by now. We’ve heard enough synthwave and vaporwave artists expressing their nostalgia or pseudo-nostalgia for the neon age. Or have we?

Personally, I am still open to this kind of stuff. Synthwave can be boring and uninspired, for sure. But there still are many artists in the genre who really try to take a personal approach to the synth sound, add exciting and often surprising musical elements to it, write interesting and unconventional compositions or simply manage to evoke a certain atmosphere with their music that goes beyond those same old “80s vibes”.

To my delight, This Week in the Universe is a duo of two such artists. Tellurian is a synthwave album – but it’s also more than that. The duo enhance the retro synth sound by adding jazz-hop grooves, in one instance even a guitar solo, cinematic samples, as well as airy and sometimes slightly creepy vaporwave sections to their compositions. Furthermore, the album is characterized by interesting rhythms, lush soundscapes and uplifting and beautiful melodies, alternating with atmospheric sections. The album repeatedly made me think of Dan Terminus – not because it sounds very similar to his music, but because the duo, like him, manages to actually write interesting, evolving, exciting compositions that are borderline-proggy at times, while never failing to evoke an immersive atmosphere with their music.

 

Tellurian is a well-written, coherent, yet surprising and engaging album that proves that synthwave and related musical genres are still alive and well. Sparkling with interesting and unconventional musical elements and rich in stimulating rhythmic grooves and beautiful melodies, the album is also atmospheric and shows that This Week in the Universe is an artistic duo that knows how to build immersive soundscapes. If you’re into electronic music of any kind, this album has something for you. Check it out!


Tellurian will be released February 22nd and is available for pre-order at Bandcamp.

Follow This Week in the UniverseBandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

2018 – A Retrospective: My 20 Favourite Albums of the Year

ordinarycorrupt-820x820It’s finally that time of the year again when we take a look back at what we have listened to and what music had the greatest impact on us. While it’s always a difficult task to pick your favorites from a whole year’s supply of music, it was especially hard this year. 2018 was simply outstanding from a musical standpoint. The amount of amazing and fascinating records released this year was nothing short of incredible. Throughout the year I listened to no less than 500 albums, EPs and splits, of which I picked 20 favorites in a very long and painful process. Note that I did only take full length albums into account for this list. This is a somewhat ranked list, but every one of these albums is absolutely fantastic and definitely worth your time.

Check out my list, including albums by Silent Planet, Bloodbark, Deafheaven, Panegyrist, Anna von Hauswolff and many more, at Indy Metal Vault!