Review: Elder – Omens

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Label: Stickman Records

It’s fair to say that the task facing Elder is a daunting one. Since releasing their self-titled album in 2008, the band have made their way to the top of the psychedelic doom pantheon, with previous album Reflections of a Floating World being a huge success that really cemented the band’s place within the scene. As such, Omens arrives with a huge weight of expectation, especially as the band have with the addition of guitarist Michael Risberg, and Georg Edert has taken over the drum stool. It’s little surprise, then, that Omens is a different album to its predecessor; but it’s still unmistakably an Elder album, with all the brilliance that implies.

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Review: Elephant Tree – Habits

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Label: Holy Roar Records / Deathwish Inc

For some bands, heaviness is a way of expressing negativity. Think of the likes of, say, Primitive Man, where volume is used as a means of putting across pain and suffering, with the results being incredibly uncomfortable (and also, in Primitive Man’s case, quite brilliant). But then other bands recognise the transcendent potential of playing really fucking loud and heavy, tapping into a sense of joy that can seem somehow contrary to such weighty music on initial inspection, but comes to reveal a kind of primal joy in time. Elephant Tree fall very much into the later categroy, with Habits being a prime example of how to harness the raw power of The Riff at loud volumes into something thrillingly life-affirming.

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Review: Jenn Taiga – Plight

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Label: Tridroid Records (cassette) / Self-released (digital)

There’s a certain strain of retro-futurism that runs heavily through most synthwave and its related genres. You know the type; all neon lights and action hero poses drawn straight from the 80’s, along with all the problematic politics that period could embody – the kind that thinks it’s being cyberpunk, but is just a cosplay version of the original ethos. As such, it’s a delight to hear something that’s totally different in its retro-futuristic and synth-heavy styles, that, whilst still recalling the late 70’s and early 80’s, it does so in a way that captures the most forward-thinking elements of that time. Such is the case with Plight by synthesizer wizard Jenn Taiga. Drawing heavily from the Berlin school of electronic music, with a heavy dash of psychedelica, Plight is a captivating record that simultaneously conjures up visions of technological dystopia whilst railing against such nightmares.

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Review Blasts: October 2019

October has been an exceptionally busy month, and I haven’t been able to write quite as many reviews as normal; but then, I think that’s a reflection of how many reviews I normally write. Which, for a one-person site, I think is quite a lot! But with that in mind, I feel that a week or two away from reviews will do me some good, so here’s a bumper crop of short reviews to make up for that. Up this time, we’ve got classic doom from Alunah; intense noisy weirdo punk from BATSCleric bringing the classic Swedeath; some of the most horrible noise I’ve ever heard, courtesy of CoalminerGolden Legacy tapping into the raw spirit of rock; a fine sludge split from Kurokuma and Under; and to top it off, Starless Domain taking us into the depths of space via cosmic black metal. Enjoy!

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Review: Feast of the Epiphany – Practicing Loss

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Label: Kincsem Records

Drone is often considered a genre lacking in melody; where the atmospheres and textures rule supreme, and change comes at a glacial pace. Whilst this is certainly true for much of the genre – especially its bigger names – Practicing Loss by Feast of the Epiphany presents a strong counter-argument. Though drone is a chief component of the album, especially in overall effect as much as sound, that’s not all there is to the album. There’s also a lot of folk and psychedelic rock here too, all filtered through an avant-garde mindset similar to that which gave birth to Kraut rock, that makes Practicing Loss an absorbing, yet challenging album. It is filled with complex music that takes time to unlock, yet it is constantly encouraging the listener on, wanting them to revel in what it offers.

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Review: Suspiral – Chasm

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Metal, at its most extreme, becomes a genre of seemingly contradictory forces that are reliant upon one another to succeed. As volume and speed increases, bringing with it a sense of chaos, so too does the need for control. After all, a great deal of technical proficiency and practice is needed to strike the right balance between a song sounding rampaging and it simply sounding sloppy. It’s that sense of contradiction that Chasm, the new album from Spanish black/death metal band Suspiral, is forged upon. A combination of bestial carnage and ritual-esque repetition, the album is the sound of a tightly-bound beast, straining at its chains, desiring nothing more than to be let loose upon the world to unleash devastation; and yet there is an almost religious aspect to the control displayed, making Chasm a ritual in a very real sense.

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Review: 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) – 一期一会 (For This Time Only, Never Again)

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories 

The previous record from 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker), 5772, was one of the surprises of 2017 – a progressive, jazz-inspired take on black metal that followed no path but its own. The multinational band are already back with follow-up 一期一会 (For This Time Only, Never Again), and it has taken my expectations and stomped all over them. This is an even more nonconformist, experimental take on black metal that 5772 was, emphasising the psychedelic elements of their sound and adding drone elements – whilst still retaining a sense of fearlessness and black metal aggression. It’s an album that is seemingly full of contradictions, yet takes all of its opposing influences and makes them, somehow, work together. It’s quite special, and makes most other records being released today seem tame.

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Album of the Day: Boris – Akuma no Uta

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Label: Diwphalanx Records / Southern Lord Records (reissue)

Anyone even vaguely familiar with Boris know that the Japanese band have a vast, hugely varied discography, ranging from drone to psychedelic metal to J-pop – sometimes in the space of a single album. Akuma no Uta is the album that introduced me to the band, and remains my favourite – which is why I’m slightly apprehensive about getting to see them on their UK tour with Amenra. Their most recent album, Dear, is a different beast to Akuma no Uta, being based upon drone, rather than the psychedelic heavy metal of Akuma… – and, as good as I expect them to be, part of me will be disappointed if nothing from Akuma… is played.

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Review: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard / Slomatics – Totems (split)

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Label: Black Bow Records

When isn’t a split a split? When it’s Totems. Though it would be somewhat accurate to consider the new record featuring Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard (MWWB) and Slomatics a split, it’s also been described by both bands as a collaboration, with the bands sharing ideas during the recording of Totems. It helps make the record stand out from most other splits released, and the creative process has obviously paid dividends, as the songs here build upon the success of previous records – Y Proffwyd Dwyll and Future Echo Returns, respectively – to produce something captivating, and as strong as either band has ever been.

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