EP Review: Oh. – Metallia

cover.pngOh. is the musical alter ego of Greek composer, multi-instrumentalist and sound producer Olivia Hadjiioannou. She arrived to the international music world in 2013, releasing her debut EP Sleeping World, which received positive reactions worldwide. In 2015 she released her debut full-length album Synemotion. Now, three years later, Oh. returns to the scene with her second EP, Metallia.

When I received the review request for Metallia, I hadn’t heard anything about Oh. before. Let me put it like this – all the expectations I had about what this record might sound like were shattered when I listened to it for the first time. Oh.’s music truly is something special.

The terms “progressive”, “experimental” and “avantgarde” get thrown around a lot nowadays (not least by myself), but they are rarely really deserved. In this case however, there are hardly any other words one could use to describe the sonic mayhem presented on this EP. Metallia is one 26-minute long composition in six parts, rich in shredding guitars, time-bending tempo shifts, groovy bass lines, deranged, Middle-Eastern influenced rhythms, haunting expressive vocals and creative synth and percussion elements scattered all over the composition.


At first listen, the EP is one thing more than anything else – overwhelming. The sheer amount of musical elements build into the composition are almost too much to take in, especially since the composition itself is unconventional to such an extent that one almost cannot make out any traditional musical structures. The tempo changes repeatedly, the individual instruments are layered in a way that makes you feel like missing out when you try to focus your attention on only one of them.

The hidden leitmotives and recurring patterns in the compostion reveal themselves only after multiple listens and make this EP a real grower that you will return to over and over again and still be surprised and impressed every time you hear it. 
With Metallia, Olivia Hadjiioannou has proven to be an incredibly gifted and creative composer and technically talented musician. If you are tired of progressive bands repeating the same old stuff over and over again, look no further – Oh. has you covered.

Metallia was released July 27th and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Follow Oh.: Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp


Album Review: Dir En Grey – The Insulated World

tiw_tsujyo.jpgFormed in 1997, avantgarde metal outfit Dir En Grey are one of the most well-known and important Japanese metal bands. Their unique style, a mixture of death metal, progressive metal, hardcore and basically EVERYTHING ELSE, has been unparalleled and their musical output incredibly consistent. 

Now, 21 years after their inception, Dir En Grey release their 10th full length album The Insulated World. Does it hold up to their critically acclaimed previous efforts? In my opinion, it absolutely does.

The album is incredibly coherent, given the amount of experimentation that went into it and the weird elements that it is comprised of. The band experiments with electronic elements a little more on this album, which works really well for me. The song “Keigaku No Yoku” is a great example of a fantastic symbiosis of metal and electronic elements with its doomy guitar riffs and heavy glitch sounds, while the drums on the brutal and technical second track “Devote My Life” are almost breakcore-esque. Every song on the record is its own beast, yet they all somehow fit together, like different pieces of a mosaic.

As on their previous albums, there are tons of groovy riffs, melodic choruses, as well as more atmospheric sections. The guitars are technical and heavy, the bass is fat and groovy, the drums hit harder than ever before and Kyo’s vocals are as crazily versatile and fascinating as always. This guy never ceases to amaze me with his chameleon voice that can switch from nightmarish and demonic to soothing and angelic in the fraction of a second. “Ningen Wo Kaburu” is a great example of the album’s sound in general and especially of Kyo’s vocal abilities with its harsh and aggressive verses and beautiful melodic chorus. If you want to get a sneak peak into the band’s sound, this is a good song to start with.

As a whole, The Insulated World is a great mixture of Dir En Grey’s heavier and their softer side, plus previously unheard elements, resulting in a balanced, yet exciting sound that is constantly surprising and captivating throughout the whole playing time of 50 minutes. Definitely one of the most unique and interesting albums of the year – and one of my personal favorites so far.

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: netra – Ingrats

March 9th, 2017 (Norway/France); Hypnotic Dirge Records
LP (39 min.)
Avantgarde/Depressive Black Metal


A few days ago I stumbled across a record label called Hypnotic Dirge Records on Bandcamp. It is a label focusing on underground experimental/atmospheric Doom and Black Metal bands. All the albums on the label are available for free download on Bandcamp (an opportunity which I used to full capacity).

One of the most interesting artists on the label is French Avantgarde Metal band/one man project netra. His music is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. The main musical style being Depressive Black Metal, netra incorporates elements from multiple genres like Jazz, Blues and, first and foremost, Trip-Hop (!) into his music. However crazy and unfitting this combination might sound on the paper, the actual music is amazing.

“Ingrats” is netra‘s most recent full length record and it’s probably his most eclectic and interesting work so far.

The atmospheric Trip-Hop and the raw Black Metal elements work perfectly together to create an atmosphere of depression and melancholy that can only be described as captivating.

The album surprised me repeatedly with unexpected stylistic breaks and is on the whole just an exceptionally rewarding listening experience.

If you are interested in unusual, experimental music with the Black Metal tag attached to it, you have to check this album out.

You can download this album for free from Bandcamp.

Visit the band’s official facebook page.

EP Review: TIMŌRĀTUS & weapons of indignation – Compass

April 19th (USA), self-released
EP (17 min.)
Drone Doom, Avantgarde Metal

coverThe “Compass” EP is the newest release by Christian experimental one man Metal project TIMŌRĀTUS, which came into being in collaboration with another underground one man project called weapons of indignation.

Over the last few years, David Napier, the man behind TIMŌRĀTUS, has been experimenting with many different styles of Metal and released a cohesive concept series of EPs each of which had a different genre (the EPs are titled “Death”, “Doom”, “Black” and “Grind”, accordingly to their respective genre).
This 17 minutes EP now falls into yet another stylistic category of Metal, namely Drone Doom.

I really liked his genre EPs so far but I must say that they were nothing too special. They were “generic”, which was kind of the idea behind them in the first place but also made them a bit less enjoyable than they probably could’ve been.
This EP on the other hand really is something special.

Drone Doom always has the potential to be very one dimensional and grow boring rather quickly, so it’s always nice to hear a band experiment with unusual musical elements to make their sound stand out from the rest.

For “Compass”, TIMŌRĀTUS teamed up with Aleka Tengesdal (weapons of indignation), a cellist. So what we hear on this almost entirely instrumental EP is great atmospheric Drone Doom, overlaid with dark, creeping, sometimes dissonant cello playing. The music is very heavy and creates a dense atmosphere that feels dark but also has those indescribable moments of light piercing through.

This EP is definitely one of the most interesting pieces of Drone I’ve heard this year and I highly recommend it to everyone who likes the genre.

You can download TIMŌRĀTUS’ whole discography for free from Bandcamp.