Saturday, December 07, 2019

Blooming In Winter...

Sonic Moon - Usually I Don't Care for Flowers (2019)


Around this time last year, we got our first taste of the music made by the Danish group called Sonic Moon, and with its grungy twist on heavy rock, we definitely dug what we heard. Now they're back with their second EP, packing five tracks of further exploration into their character and ideas.
Leading with “All Things Evergreen”, which cycles through some warm-up noise before throwing its weight behind a big, bossy riff. Vocalist Oliver Lyngkilde slides his way into the song right on the back of that riff, and from there, the song builds up a groove-working punchiness, with some kicking bassy break-downs on the bridges. “Keep Bleeding” picks up from there with a more withdrawn and hurt vibe to Lyngskilde's singing, though the instruments build up from a matching quietness into a roar that pulls him up with it. “Epitaph”, fittingly, returns to the more somber sound for its start, and while the band can't entirely escape their energetic inclinations, it does show their serious side in a good light.
“Vultures Beak” (sic) flows right out of the last notes of “Epitaph”, picking away on the base melody while gradually regaining speed, finishing out on a bit of flange flash. Lastly, the title track comes in to set a slow grind rhythm and riffage, drawing listeners into a head-bob until the end.
The grunge flavoring is still there, in the toothy grit of the guitar tone and the tendency to set riffs, then repeat them at intensified heaviness and dirtiness, but the songs have, overall, taken on more of a doomy flavor than was evidenced on the first EP. “Keep Bleeding” and “Epitaph”, as their names suggest, are probably the best examples of this, but they also demonstrate the band's facility in meshing that heaviness with rock, and coming out with something distinct from standard heavy rock. There's more emotionality, inventiveness, and boundary-pushing to it, and it's a clear confirmation that Sonic Moon have been keeping busy since their first EP's release. There's development, but clear continuity of character, and hearing them grow is a treat. Hopefully it won't be too long before they put out an LP, so we can see them push things even further.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Alice in Chains, Deadeye Dick, For Love Not Lisa, Pale Grey Lore, Seed




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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Running Ever Deeper...

Yawning Void - Streams Within (2019)


Following up on a couple of advance singles released last year, the Finnish group of Yawning Void have emerged with their first full album, and while it first popped up on a limited cassette run from Kuolema Records back in January, they've recently received a CD release from Weird Truth Productions, giving them some wider exposure.
The first of the album's five tracks (all of which run over seven minutes) is “Hearts Like Abyss”, which leads listeners into the band's black/death/doom cocktail with an enticing ear-worm of a lead riff. The vocalist (credited as K.T.K.) shows off a good rumbling growl and satisfyingly harsh roars, while the rest of the band brings in some tight support for that hooky riff, quickly digging down to that heavy reward. “Melaina Kholee” follows, broadening out the heaviness from the riff (though it does feature a solid one) to a more rounded song-writing approach. Things are kept slow and sloggy, but it moves with a deceptive swiftness for its length, and wraps its run up with surprising neatness for such a craggy piece.
“Ouroborean” takes central spot, contrasting the harsh vocals (taking overlay in the mix) against some almost gentle melodic highlighting, while the following “Kalmoranta” brings the harshness over to the instruments as well, with some organ-like keys providing the cleaner counter-point to the fuzzy feedback. Wrapping up with “Aequor Benthic Bodies”, Yawning Void push their way through a thick atmosphere of dread and regret, leaving an aftertaste of earnest and committed doom. Not too shabby for a first album, and considering the striking knack of the band for crafting memorable riffs, I can't wait to hear where they grow from here.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deathbell, Heavydeath, Jupiterian, Major Kong, Shrine of the Serpent




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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Digging Out Deceptions...

Mind Reader - Palace of Memory (2019)


It's been a while since we've heard from the MIND READER project (last time was back in 2014, on theirsplit with Ksyatriya), and while the duo has dropped the (((O))) stylization from their name, they've only grown more adventurous with their track titles. But, as this is the band's first solo album, and it's been cooking for so long, why not pull out those stops?
Opening with the ~10-minute “Autonoetic Consciousness - Lost in the Cave of Memories - [ Sub Level ]”, MR show changes from their more drone-inclined past work, leading with thick waves of bass and a few trickles of percussion before a hooky riff rises into action, bringing the drum activity on up with it. As the melody moves forward, it turns to a slower, more somber mood, while keeping the bones of the original riff recognizable. From there, it's a series of twists between the two mood extremes, finding ways to keep the exploration fresh and lively while maintaining heaviness, and it flows right into the next portion, “Confronting the <I>mposter - Transmutation SimBIOSys (Simulated Basic Input Output Systems)”. Here, things take a turn towards more traditional doom, with elephantine chords progressions and shambling beat spacing, somehow making the weighty riffs practically groove.
“Transmissions of Subjugation - The Horn of Ammon <| The Beacon of Ahamkara |> { Battle for the Horn of Ammon } Part-1” takes us into the second half, riding right off of the reverb trailing from the previous track. While it holds on to the bass emphasis, the drums slide up to a more prominent position in the song-writing, tapping into some storming energy around the midway point. That energy gets brought to a head in the final section, “The Illusion of the Mind - Quantum Mechanical Observer - { Battle for the Horn of Ammon } Part-2”, which grinds harder and angrier than any of the previous segments, and crashes its way into a satisfying crescendo before turning to a protracted finale of feedback, with a quick capper of rainfall and slow strings to guide listeners out of the experience.
For a first album (and one five years in the making), it's quite a fun trip, with plenty of thought evident in the paths the songs travel. As it's essentially one long track, you'll want to set aside some time that you're sure won't be interrupted when listening to this, as it does a good job of pulling you into the momentum and flow. Those looking for solid and ambitious doom metal, check in here.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Rooster, Bell Witch, Flight of the Seraphim, Nonsun, White Darkness




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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Duality In Three...

Dionysian - Representations of the Id (2019)


Expanding our knowledge of one of the less-covered countries' metal landscape is always a pleasure, and it's that much easier to do when the bands share some link with one you already know. Consequently, when we found out that the bassist of this Malaysian sludge/doom group is none other than Trishay Trada (of Ksyatriya, whose every release we've covered), we were eager to check them out. Boasting four main songs, each around the quarter-hour mark, followed by a cover track to close, this debut album carries itself with intriguing style and confidence before the music even starts.
That confidence (and length) is reflected in the song titles, leading with “As Your Gentle Hands Were Bedding My Lifeless Body in a Dark-Blue Crenmore Seraphim”. After a few moments of rising background noise, light percussion and guitar twangs burst out into full life, meeting thick bass waves with bold drumming, and launching the guttural vocals and intricate guitar-work once the foundation is well set. Much of the remainder is instrumental, focusing on the twists and tangles found in deep-dive riff extrapolations, but the selective application of the vocals brings an extra punch and immediacy to their presence.
“Capitulation to the Word” follows, using a number of the same techniques, but also finding room in its bridges for more intense runs from the drummer, which the guitarist and bassist weave around compellingly. There's also some cleaner vocals introduced, which counter-point the overall increased aggression of the song when compared to the opener. And as with that first track, the band shows a remarkable skill in making these sizable songs run so smoothly that they almost feel shorter than they truly are. With “A Madman's Dream of a New God-Era to Become True”, they switch things up, moving to a jazzy fluidity on the drums while pluckings of an acoustic guitar ring out under the impacts. The heaviness inevitably resurrects, of course, but with that stretch of lighter tunefulness (which does get some return installments throughout the song), its crashing arrival comes that much harder. Amid the switching between those two modes, the song eventually fuses them, holding the intensity while moving faster and freer.
“Where the Statue Meets the Shore” is the last of the core songs, opening its run with a meditative exploration of echoing strings punctuated by the drummer's percussion. As the song continues, it revisits approaches from each of the other songs, combining them in new and intensified ways. Leading through those numerous turns and meldings, it builds to an impassioned climax, marking a fine finish to the band's first set of songs. With the original attributed to Aleksandar Sariesvki, a cover of “Uci Me Majko, Karaj Me” puts a cap on things. While it certainly sounds heavy, checking the digital liner notes shows it to have a humorous side, as it sings of a marriage with an absentee bride. Dionysian perform it with a strong sense of the character they'd established in the preceding songs, and while it serves as a ramp out of those songs' fervor, it also shows the band's capable handling of more compact material. A strong showing throughout, and an admirable first release.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Asilo, DoOoM, Dreamgrave, Odradek Room, Warrior Pope




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Saturday, November 09, 2019

Holding Fractures Together...

Matte Black - Psyche (2019)


Almost half a decade after the release of their previous album, Dust of This Planet, the Brooklyn-based Matte Black band is back again, with right around half an hour of new material. Leading off with “Isolation Under Glass”, the band show themselves to be occupying an uncommon intersection of doom, alt rock, post-punk, and fuzzy heavy rock, with a bit o' grunge and desert rock for good measure.
Melodies are compelling, the weight is authentic, and psych-inclined tangents swell up smooth and cool. The retro vibes are unforced, and blended with modern vibes enough to neatly dodge any sense of retreading. It's arguably not even homaging, just the result of picking out flavors that work best for the songs. A light salting of samples throws further variety in the mix, and as brief as the overall album is, it gets great mileage out of the riff explorations and vocal escalations.
If my impressions seem a bit choppy, that's because this is one of those albums where once you put it on, you just want to ride along with it, and not pull away for other activities. All of the influences melt together in creative ways, and gliding along with their shifting currents is mildly hypnotic in its way. From the start all the way on to “Gone”, the final track, the band provides a damn fine experience, wowing while keeping their vibe casual and chilled. Take some time out of your day to check it out for yourself, and once you've found yourself putting it on a few more times, throw some cash to the band for a copy of your own.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Chronobot, Merlin, Pale Grey Lore, Terminal Cheesecake, Wolf Blood




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Monday, November 04, 2019

United in Division...

Ksyatriya - The Womb of Ōmeyōcān (2019)


It's been a couple of years since we last heard from Ksyatriya (last time was their split with Animi Vultus), but they've made their return with a full album, hitting nearly an hour of instrumental doom. It's their first album since 2015's The Arduous Search for Freedom, and while the changes they adopted since then are intriguing, the continuity of their style is undeniable.
Leading with an atmospheric intro, expressively titled “And Thought was Born...and Duality Ensued...And the Universe was Lost”, Ksyatriya give a thorough crash course on their bass and drum-driven style, benefiting new listeners while ramping up into the album's body. Mood and tone are accentuated, with nuanced development of the central melody leading ears through the movements.
After that nine-minute opener is concluded, “The Flame That Illuminates our Hearts Burns for Eternity” picks up, bringing quick-moving guitar into the fold. The tendencies shown in the lead track are expanded, with the central riff put through its paces as the rhythms slowly shift around it. “To the Gates of Ōmeyōcān (Prelude I)” makes for a five-minute interlude after that, warming things up with an acoustic exploration solo before “Hypocrisy of 2” takes over.  That song, at about thirteen minutes run, finds the band working around alternation of styles in it. It begins by moving back into the realm of the electric for its first portion, before a moment of silence leads back into the acoustic melancholy; another momentary break, and the electric rises to merge with that acoustic line, wrapping the two together before taking dominance again.
“At the Gates of Ōmeyōcān (Prelude II)” follows, the shortest track of the album at just under two minutes, before the seventeen-minute “Peta Babkama Luruba Anaku (Open the Gate for Me So I Can Enter Here)” arrives to close things out. Intensified bass and bass drums lend this the heaviest vibes, and as with “Hypocrisy of 2”, there's some internal segmentation, culminating in a keening crescendo and coda.
While the album is largely absent of the vocal samples which have marked the band's previous releases, it's still quite distinctly one of their works, with thoughtful song-writing guiding the heaviness to measured purposes. Even with vocals at a minimum, there's plenty of character coming through in the songs, and the tiny little pauses they take before sweeping into a new mode help settle each one in memory. It's a pleasure to know that they're still exploring new ways of expressing their ideas, and to hear a different side of those reflections.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Ancient Lights, Bell Witch, Earthshine, Flight of the Seraphim, Ufomammut




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