About Matt

Writer and Editor of Metal Soliloquy. Contributing Editor at Indy Metal Vault. Contributing Reviewer at Sleeping Village Reviews.

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

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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!

Split Review: Amiensus / Oak Pantheon – Gathering II

Gathering II is the upcoming follow up to Gathering, the first split EP between the two US-black metal bands Amiensus and Oak Pantheon, released in 2013. Once again, the two bands collaborated to release a split EP containing one song by each band. Additionally, we also get a collaborative song on Gathering II.

I loved Gathering and was super happy when I heard the bands were working on a second split release. Being a fan of both bands, the expectations for Gathering II were quite high. And fortunately, I can say that it does not disappoint.

Oak Pantheon - Metal SoliloquyThe split is opened up by Oak Pantheon with the song “A Demonstration”, which lyrically explores real-world death cults. Musically, it is very focused on the folk side of things, with acoustic guitars opening up the track and leading through the whole piece. The extreme metal elements, harsh vocals and electric guitars, are more of an addition to the folk elements than the other way around. What I love about this track in particular is how far up in the mix the bass guitar (played by Amiensus’ bassist Todd Farnham) is. It adds a unique, jazzy twist to the music and serves as a very refreshing element that makes this song stand out from your typical folky black metal. This also is, on a side note, the first Oak Pantheon track featuring real drums (played by Amiensus’ drummer Chris Piette). A great opnener and probably one of my favourite Oak Pantheon tracks yet.

The second track, “Tanequil”, is a song collaboratively written and performed by Amiensus and Oak Pantheon and serves as a great transition from the folky, rather light Oak Pantheon track to the more atmospheric and heavier Amiensus track. There is one section of this song that stood out to me with its clean vocals that reminded me, of all things, of American metalcore band Demon Hunter. Something about the vocal harmonies and the melody is quite reminiscent of the way Demon Hunter write their melodies. Or maybe it’s just my brain playing tricks on me. Whatever, this is definitely a good song, but also the least memorable and interesting out of the three, in my opinion.

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The closing track, “Now Enter Dusk” by Amiensus, is by far my favourite piece on the record. Right from the start, the song builds a freaking beautiful soundscape with a melodic guitar riff that is complemented by an equally beautiful bass line, subtle synths and majestic drumming. When the vocals kick in, you are already completely captivated by the magnificent atmosphere of the song. Amiensus once again showcase what is possible with regard to building atmosphere with this piece. Harsh and clean vocals harmonise in a remarkable way, the instruments merge into enormous walls of sound, while simultaneously shining individually. As a whole, the song is a perfect combination of atmosphere, melody, and impressive musicianship.

Altogether, Gathering II is not only able to match the quality of its predecessor, but it even surpasses it and stands as a beautiful piece of atmospheric and majestic music. Do yourself a favor and check this out as soon as it is available.


Gathering II will be released November 5th and will soon be available at Bandcamp.

Follow Amiensus:  Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Follow Oak Pantheon: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Album Review: JON – Psalms of Annihilation

JON - Psalms of Annihilation - Metal Soliloquy

JON is the musical alter ego of Jonathan Hayes from Askim, Norway. He is a composer and musician who focuses on dark and romantic music that best fits into the dungeon synth genre, but also exceeds that category. Psalms of Annihilation is JON’s debut album.

Psalms of Annihilation is a dark and mysterious sounding album. The music is a mixture of dungeon synth, dark synth and a great amount of orchestral elements. Obviously inspired by horror film soundtracks, the compositions are streamlined and focused on creating an alluring, albeit spooky atmosphere that evokes images of abandoned castle ruins and dark occult rituals. While most of the songs are stylistically pretty typical dungeon synth tracks with orchestral elements, some of the songs, like “Zalanes – Trouble Bringer” are closer connected to the dark synthwave genre and have an overall heavier, more modern sound to them.


The album is well-rounded, catching the listeners attention from the get-go and keeping him engaged throught the whole playing time. To me, this album seems like the perfect background soundtrack for the reading of a gothic horror novel like Bram Stoker’s Dracula – spooky, romantic, dark and mysterious, otherworldly and all around fascinating.

If you are a fan of synth-driven music, horror films or anything dark and eerie, do yourself a favor and check this album out. Find a good horror novel, put your headphones on, and enjoy a one-of-a-kind spooky experience. Perfect for Halloween!


Psalms of Annihilation was released October 22nd and can be streamed and purchased digitally and in various limited physical editions at Bandcamp.

Album Review: Utstøtt – Járnviðr

Utstott - Jarnvidr - Review at Metal Soliloquy

Oregon-based one man project Utstøtt arrived to the black metal underground in 2013 with the release of his four-track EP Legender Odin. Playing a synth-laden breed of epic, melodic black metal, Utstøtt didn’t bring anything entirely new to the table with the EP, but Navnløs, the man behind the project, pulled off the Summoning and Windir inspired style of black metal quite perfectly and further proved his talents with his debut LP Hjørungavågr in 2015. Now, three years later, Utstøtt, now comprised of two members, Navnløs and Stormning, is back with a second full length album, named after the mythological iron-forest Járnviðr.

From the cover artwork alone you can tell that this album is a little different from his first two releases. Instead of majestic mountains and lakes, the painting “Winter” by Ivan Shishkin adorns the cover. We see a snow covered forest giving off a cold, darker vibe. And indeed the album sounds quite a bit colder and darker than Hjørungavågr.

Utstott - Metal SoliloquyThe album has a playing time of 66 minutes, spanning over six songs, one of which is a fantastic and rather creative cover of Burzum’s legendary song “Dunkelheit”. Each song on the album is its own beast with its own feel and story, but all of them work together towards an overarching cold and dark atmosphere, evoking images of ancient forests and snow covered landscapes.

The compositions on Járnviðr are as grand and epic as those on the band’s previous albums, but they are much more traditional and visceral at the same time. If Hjørungavågr was the musical equivalent to a battle between two armies, Járnviðr represents a one-on-one combat. The production is sharp and clear, adding to the harshness of the riffs and vocals. Stylistically sitting somewhere between atmospheric and melodic black metal with pagan/folk influences, the compositions on this album are written and build around melodic riffs, but focused on the atmosphere they evoke rather than the melodies themselves. It’s an approach more similar to bands like Burzum or Drudkh than, say, Vindland or Windir.


Not only are the riffs on this album freaking righteous, there are enough additional musical elements, like atmospheric synth-driven sections, amazing guitar solos and beautiful acoustic portions,  incorporated into the compositions to keep the album interesting and entertaining throughout its duration.

As a whole, Járnviðr is an amazing black metal album, that combines melody, riffs, atmosphere, beauty and harshness into an intriguing, captivating and epic package. One of my favorite black metal albums of the year so far.


Járnviðr was self-released October 15th and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Follow Utstøtt on Facebook.