EP Review: Nòtt – Nòtt

a3412940938_16Nòtt is a solo project of James Benson, guitarist and vocalist of progressive/atmospheric black metal band Amiensus. I didn’t really know what to expect from this project, but with the works of Amiensus in mind, I assumed this EP would sound somewhat similar. After listening to the first track I prepared to be disabused, though.

Nòtt sounds a lot darker than anything Amiensus has released so far (except All Paths Lead To Death, maybe). Moving into a progressive, sludgy, post-y, but stone cold style of Black Metal, Nòtt doesn’t mess around with electronic/folk/synth/you-name-it elements, but primarily uses guitars and drums to create atmosphere.

Speaking of atmosphere, this record is overwhelmingly bleak. The pummeling drums and deep guitar riffs, interwoven with unsettling melodies, build intimidating walls of sound that come closer and closer every second. The despairing vocals pierce through the thick atmosphere and only increase its claustrophobic character. Only the fourth song “Sol” gives you some time to rest with its dreamy and somewhat lighter sound that feels like a rock in a raging ocean of darkness.

At times the album reminded me of Departe’s 2016 release Failure, Subside, which in my opinion has a similar atmosphere that cannot be described more fittingly than with the word “heavy”. And like Départe, Nòtt too adds something else to the mixture, an element of lightness that is transported by the very clear production of the music. The discrepancy between the sludgy, heavy music and the clear production is an important element of what makes this album so effective, in my opinion.

All in all, Nòtt is an extremely coherent atmospheric and ice cold black metal record, that no fan of extreme music should miss. If you have any interest in black metal at all, give this EP a listen.

Nòtt was self-released January 17th and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Make sure to visit Nòtt’s official Facebook page, as well!


Album Review: Drudkh – Їм часто сниться капіж

a3778239288_10.jpgUkrainian folk/atmo-black metallers Drudkh are without a doubt one of the most important bands in the atmospheric black metal genre. With ten full length albums in their back catalog of which the last few weren’t exactly well-received (although they were mostly very good, in my humble opinion), the expectations for their eleventh album Їм часто сниться капіж (They Often See Dreams About The Spring) were rather mixed. I’m glad that I can say they delivered a great album that really makes up for their weaker moments.

On their newest offering, Drudkh continue to defy the cliché of the typical frosty black metal dealing with the coldest of seasons. After crafting multiple albums surrounding the melancholic beauty of autumn, the season of approaching death, they now focus on the other transitory season – spring, the season of birth and rebirth. In regards to the sound of this album, the latter is more fitting than the first. Їм часто сниться капіж can indeed be seen as a rebirth – with a few modifications. Drudkh return to do what they do best and offer a beautifully understated style of atmospheric black metal on this album that evokes emotions and inspires the listener to let their thoughts wander and – dream.

Surprisingly, one of the features Drudkh’s earlier works are known for is completely nonexistent on this album. There are no folk elements to find here, not even in the form of an acoustic intro or outro. Instead of that, the incredibly well-balanced songs are mainly made of rhythmic riffs coupled with tasteful tremolo melodies, blistering drum work and a subtle use of symphonic sound walls that add a very epic element to the aggressive sound. While the general feel of this album is, fittingly for the motif of spring, rather warm and welcoming, almost “Cascadian” in that sense, there is still a coldness in the guitars and vocals which makes the listener think back to the old days of Norwegian black metal.

With Їм часто сниться капіж, Drudkh have proven once again that they are indeed one of the best bands in the genre. Not afraid to experiment and leave behind certain aspects of their popular style while returning others, this album is one of their most coherent and absorbing works so far, and an essential listen for every fan of the genre.

Їм часто сниться капіж was released March 9th via Season of Mist and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Album Review: Insect Ark – Marrow Hymns

0012426003_10.jpgInsect Ark is an instrumental metal band from Brooklyn, New York comprised of Dana Schechter and Ashley Spungin. They describe their music as “experimental cinematic doom”. Marrow Hymns is their second full length album.

The music presented on this album truly is something special. Combining elements of psychedelic rock, crushing doom and atmospheric drone/noise, the duo crafts music that is strangely “visual”. Inspired by horror film soundtracks and their own emotions, Schechter and Spungin paint a dark, yet colorful picture with Marrow Hymns that transports the listener into their own psyche.

The instrumentation of the album is as interesting as the resulting sound. The band completely resigns the use of electric guitars and primarily builds the tracks around sinister bass lines, coupled with a lap steel guitar, drums and a versatile use of electronic/synth elements.

Insect Ark’s sound on this album has a very earthy vibe to it. And with that I mean both earthy and Earth-y. The bass drones and psychedelic elements are very reminiscent of Lion’s Skull – era Earth, which definitely is a good thing in my opinion. The music sounds both grounded and otherworldly, heavy and pending with the dark electronic elements adding a lot of depth to the mix. The songs seamlessly flow one into another and suck the listener all the way into a dark, weird and vivid world.

Marrow Hymns surely isn’t an album for everyone. It’s experimental and strange and only partially fits the conventions of what we call metal. At its core its a drone album, varnished with creative ideas and unconventional musical elements. If you are patient and open minded, this album will make for a diverse and rewarding listening experience.

Marrow Hymns was released February 23rd via Profound Lore Records and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Album Review: NONE – Life Has Gone On Long Enough

a3634599611_16.jpgI feel like sometimes everyone of us needs to be reminded that we are not the only ones in the universe. We get so caught up in our own problems and struggles that we ignore everyone else. Depressive black metal can serve as such a reminder. If we are happy, it can remind us of the fact that there are many people out there who aren’t that fortunate, and if we are sad or depressed, it gives us some solace in the fact that we are not the only ones who feel that way.

NONE is a very interesting project, musically. His first, self titled album was released in 2016 and consisted of three elongated tracks that had sort of a Cascadian quality to them, but drenched in negativity and depression. That structure is not given on his newest album, which contains 8 medium length tracks and is a little, just a little more typical for a depressive black metal record. Atmosphere is still the main goal of the music. And it succeeds – the record sounds cold, dark and desolate with some incredibly beautiful moments throughout, but without feeling forced or inauthentic. Lyrically, NONE once again deals with depression and alcoholism and, unsurprisingly, thoughts of suicide.

There is a lot of variation to be found on this album. Typical guitar riffs, blast beats and desolate screams alternate with occasional use of clean vocals, delicate acoustic piano and guitar sections, ambient samples, and recordings of desperate crying or even hysterical laughter. The subtler, calmer moments on the record are what makes this album very gripping and touching. That’s not to say that the more “typical” parts of the songs aren’t fantastic, as well. This is a very well written and well executed piece of music as a whole.

Whether you can relate to the lyrical themes of the album or not, this is a record you definitely shouldn’t sleep on if you are into dark music.

Life Has Gone On Long Enough was released April 11th via Hypnotic Dirge Records and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Album Review: Wesenwille – I: Wesenwille

a2958983577_16.jpgBased in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wesenwille is a two-man band that focuses on delivering black metal with a modern approach. Their self titled debut album was released via Redefining Darkness Records on April 27th.

On their first album, Wesenwille combine influences from depressive and atmospheric black metal with dissonant death metal elements, progressive song structures and an interesting lyrical concept that deals with the development of technology and its influence on human social interactions and values. The result is a dark and captivating record that is atmospheric and coherent, without ever getting boring or predictable.

Wesenwille find the perfect balance between heavy riffs and sections of pure dissonant aggression and more contamplative passages, as well as between technicality and atmosphere. The musical performances on this record are quite impressive. The technical guitar riffs, the groovy bass lines, as well as the ferocious drums and the versatile vocals are absolutely fantastic and perfectly blend together into a dark sonic whirlwind. The songwriting is as good as it gets, leaving enough space for impressive and exciting instrumental sections, as well as for atmospheric spoken word samples and more traditional song structures.

If I had to find bands to compare Wesenwille to, I would probably choose Wode and Drottnar, as well as modern-day Shining, but all these bands have their very own unique sonic identity, and so does Wesenwille. If you like your black metal progressive and atmospheric, you should definitely check out this album. You’re going to love it.

I: Wesenwille was released April 27th via Redefining Darkness Records and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Please check out Wesenwille’s official facebook page, as well!

Album Review: Impending Doom – The Sin and Doom Vol. II

IMPENDING-DOOM-The-Sin-And-Doom-Vol.-II-Albumcover.jpgFive years have passed since the release of Impending Doom’s acclaimed fifth album Death Will Reign. Now, the deathcore quintett from California is back with another onslaught of brutality.

The Sin and Doom Vol. II offers 35 minutes of relentless war music. Heavy, dark and uncompromising, this record shows the band at their most brutal and leaves the listener no second to rest. That is both a good and a bad thing, as the band’s sound on this album is powerful and effective, but isn’t in any way surprising or innovative.

I’m missing a little variation in the vocal performance and the song structures. There’s a lot of great things about this album, though. Impending Doom stay true to the roots of the genre and offer old school riffs and an overall sound that is more “death” than “core”. There are some fantastic breakdowns and great riffs on this album, the technical drumming is simply fantastic and the vocals, while not very versatile, are more than solid.

If you like deathcore and/or brutal death metal, you will most definitely have a good time with this record.

The Sin and Doom Vol. II was released June 22nd via eOne Music and is available for streaming at Spotify.

Please check out Impending Doom’s official facebook page, as well!

Album Review: Haru Nemuri – harutosyura

61uGtx6u4FL._SL1162_.jpgHaru Nemuri is a Japanese singer-songwriter and musician. Harutosyura is her debut album.

Mixing elements of j-pop and hip-hop with noise and alternative rock, as well as various electronic elements, Haru Nemuri creates her very own, unique sound on harutosyura. Sometimes cute and catchy, sometimes aggressive and noisy sounding, this album takes many turns and offers many surprises. Haru Nemuri’s vocals range from “kawaii” j-pop singing through rap, spoken word, and post-hardcore shouting.

While hip-hop is the base of the songwriting most of the time, this album would not be sufficiently described with that genre tag. It’s an experimental and unique album that defies categorization and blurs the lines between pop, rock, hip-hop and noise.

The album is lots of fun, not only because of the many great ideas that went into it and the great execution of these ideas, but also because it is very apparent that the artist had a lot of fun herself. This is definitely an album worth your time if you’re open minded enough to give it a chance.

Harutosyura was released April 11th via Perfect Music and is available for streaming at Spotify.

Please check out Haru Nemuri’s official facebook page, as well!