Label: Holy Roar Records Band: møl Origin: Danmark
Blackgaze is an interesting phenomenon. Relinquishing the claim for black metal heritage, it’s rapidly become the outcast child, from a scene that refuses any forward movement. This is more and more reflected in the artwork and overall aesthetic of the bands involved. I have no idea how the gents from møl feel about that, but as I see their work they are in no way showing their desire to get their music lumped into that.
This is a shame in my perception, but regardless of my personal divulgences on what black metal is in 2018, let’s not bother these Danes with it. Their album ‘JORD’ is a masterpiece, whichever way you want to turn it. The band has been doing their own thing for a while, creating two EP’s and finally their debut album this year. With a distinct feel and aesthetic, they are one of the stand-out acts for this year, pushing this sound into new realms in their very own way.
Bands have often explored the cleaner and more grand realms that black metal can move towards. From the epic, symphonic stuff in the 90’s and industrial endeavors following what has been dubbed ‘The Matrix’-effect onwards. Creating densely atmospheric music is what møl does, with utmost polished sound and striking tremolo parts that pluck at the heartstrings on a track like ‘Bruma’ or the beautiful, tranquil tunes of ‘Lambda’. This track is an oasis after the onslaught of some previous tracks, with the all shattering vocals and melodic power of every song, which are extremely well constructed.
The production really does the trick here. The band clearly is not going for the good ‘ol necrosound, but maximizes their melodic and harmonious sound, giving it raw edges where it actually hurts with vocals and razor-sharp riffing. A particular example is the track ‘Ligament’, that opens with a flurry of cuts and piercing vocals, yet such tight sound. By the end, we get to the gentle parts of the title track, møl already completely captured you with their smooth, yet intense sounding tunes and beautiful soundscapes.
A new series of sounds from that good, old underground with this time Myrkur (sure, I’m the metal hipster), Heisenberg (yes…), Bròn and Aokigahara.
Myrkur – M
You can’t pass up on all major releases, specially not this project by Danish multi-instrumentalist Amalie Bruun. Produced by Krystoffer Rygg (Ulver) and supported by Teloch of Mayhem and Øyvind Myrvoll of Dødheimsgard, this is one magical release. The sound is full, eclectic and unpredictable. It’s essentially a one person release, but much more than just a black metal album as which it has been put down. It contains new age, classical, ambient and folk elements in a blend that is so potent, that a listener may easily be overwhelmed by it.
Angelic singing by Bruun (or should that be another word due to the clearly pagan elements on the album) over some effect creates a dreamy atmosphere of tranquility with an edge of unrest. The guitar work is usually dense and full on, creating walls of tremolo guitarplay and thunderous rhythms. This record is not made with the intention to sound grimdark, evil and cold, it’s a calm and eerie beauty. A passage into the otherworldy, where the black is more black and the white is more white, everything is more intense on this record. That’s what makes it great, trying to write about it as waking up from a lucid dream. It’s bewildering.
Heisenberg – Heisenberg
I’m usually pretty enthousiastic about the bands I write about, but I’m not going to praise this one very highly. After hearing the dreadful Okilly Dokilly (the Ned Flanders HxC band) I stumbled across this on bandcamp and was like…Hell no! I did not watch ‘Breaking Bad’, which makes this even worse. It means that I can not even bring up the little bit of fanboyism that might be required to experience this band in the way it intends to be enjoyed.
I’ve never bothered saying I know my shit when it comes to death metal. It just is not my cup of tea in a general sense, though I can enjoy quite a lot of this. I do think it is a funny idea and someone had to do it, but it kinda starts to put the gimmick in metal and truly… that’s something it’s already choking on. If you happen to be part of that small niche of people who dig both death metal, gore and Breaking Bad (talk about niche marketing), this is your band and this is your album. Enjoy. I’ll pass… The bit where you hear Pantera is good though.
Bròn – Fògradh
It takes some digging to find out what this project really is. The man behind this atmosferic black metal project is Krigeist, who is also active in Barshasketh,, Cathedra, Blood Of The Moon and Belliciste. It’s one track of almost half an hour. The intro part takes a bit of the shimmering electronics of Jean-Michel Jarré it seems but then the black metal part hits. The production is not perfect, which makes you really pay attention to hear what is going on. Interestingly, the black metal never takes the forefront on this recording.
It’s a bit like synths are being played loudly over a tape deck playing the black metal tracks in the background, which makes them gently merge into the streaming, clean sounds. Harsh vocals are barked here and there, but the mix of the two elements is just off. That is what creates a unique ambiance of warmth, with a tiny hurrican in the bottom of the streaming sound. An odd tremolo guitar playing follows later, taking away the continuous flow of synths for a short while, creating another odd part, where the fog is momentarily broken by sunrays. The sound is very warm and pleasant, but with a tone of remorse. An intriguing record for sure. Aokigahara – _ Aokigahara.
I might have an eclectic taste, but atleast I’m not putting this stuff out there on a regular basis in order to torment people. It’s electronic music, but the first couple of minutes of this Costa Rica based band are samples, noise and weird screaming. Named after the famous suicide forest in Japan, this is obviously a DSBM record. I don’t really check that stuff out for fun by myself, because some of it really makes me feel fearful sometimes. This band is no exception. There is virtually nothing to be found about these guys.
The music just gets more eerie and uncomfortable as the record progresses. Cold tones, grim chittering in the synths and then your eyes are drawn to the bondage image on the cover. A funny note is added with the final track, titled ‘Costa Rica Is The Happiest Country In The World’. I never really know what to say about records like this, but to convey feelings of unrest, crawling under your skin is a talent not to be underestimated. I think its worth giving this a spin. No surprise that its out on Ukrainian label Depressive Illusion Records by the way.
The first Sounds of the Underground of 2015 and the section of my blog seems to gather some attention. Thank you for this. For this edition I checked out The Glitch Mob, Cruachan, The Hyle and Chthonic.
The Glitch Mob – Love Death Immortality
So it would appear I like a lot of metal and truly, it is the main thing I listen to these days. I have a huge weakness however for the Glitch Mob. I like electronic music that is heavy on the bass, layered and telling a story in itself. The debut of this group from 2010 was quite amazing and captivating. It had that same mystery I find in postrock and some black metal. On their 2014 release the band takes a different approach.
The feel of the sound is much more dance-oriëntated, high on energy and with a faster pace. Fleet footed and lightweight would also be terms, but they might feel a bit negative. Songs like ‘Skytoucher’ still captivate the feeling I loved so much on their debut, but in general the album is more directed at selling and being something the kids can dance to. Not sure if that’s a good thing, for me ‘Drink The Sea’ will remain the favorite and I’ll check in with these guys again when a new record comes around. Though their ‘glitch’ may be less attractive to me, the group still makes brilliant music. Don’t take me wrong on that.
Chthonic – Bù-Tik (武德)
Since the album that is released on 29 december is a full acoustic one, I thought it fun to look back at the previous release of Taiwanese melodic death metal giants Chthonic. The band plays with folk elements and structures in a complex sort of work, that relates closely to the atmosphere of black metal in my opinion. The hectic sound is typical in most Asian metal bands I’ve heard, also the clean sound and the polished production. The band manages an accesible sound, while retaining their identity.
The narrative is that of the foundation of what became Taiwan, told in the native tongue. That shouldn’t prevent you from listening to it. The beauty of this record is it’s way of sounding like a metal band in a clear cut manner, but implementing the narrative of Taiwan by using folk elements and mythology to create distinctness. Anyone hearing this will look up in surprise to check what it is they’re listening to, but still feel it relates to them. Though the sound is rooted in the more extreme styles, the grandeur of power metal is definitely present int he riffing and huge arches of vocals and synths. It doesn’t surprise me that Spinefarm signed them. The acoustic album that is coming out is promising to be another revelation and a rare insight for many metalheads in Asian traditional music.
The Hyle – Demo
The Danish band has a wonderful sound that combines doom with a stadium rock-like swagger, without losing any of their credibility. This demo was not without reason so well liked by Cvlt Nation out of what they picked up this year. The slow, foreboding sound of ‘Lucifero’ sounds weary and whispers a certain despair. The clean vocals are warm and caring, but hollow somehow. Slowly the song runs its course, untill twangy bass sounds support samples and harrowing riffs continue the brooding sound onto the ritualistic sounding ‘Serpent King’. I feel a bit reminded of Electric Wizard meeting up with Witchcraft when listening to this record.
The second half of the record opens very slowly with ´Spiritual Sacrifice´. The spun-out track wavers on for a couple of minutes, when silence descends. The final song is ‘Children Of The Divine’, which is also a dark tune with the sense of ritual and pagan magic to it. The band creates a sound that feels like retro, but also distinctly now. The record is captivating and if these Danes call this a demo, I’m eager to hear the debut.
Cruachan – Blood For The Blood God
The Irish folk metal band Cruachan is pretty much one of the first of its kind. This year I saw them play live, finally, at the Eindhoven Metal Meeting and experienced a lot of their new songs. The work seems raw, honest and direct, but also a bit amateuristic sometimes and a little odd. The vocals of Keith Fay are very peculiar and the man is simply not the most talented singer. Still, the blend of folkish traditionals and raging metal works quite well for the group that has released it’s seventh album on Trolzorn records. The song ‘Born For War’ is representative for the epic sound and feeling this band wants to invoke.
Noteworthy is the song about ‘Beren And Luthien’, which departs from the Irish mythology and picks up a little Tolkien along the way. The band seems to have two gears, of which one is a slow, melancholic pace and the other the frantic one-two-one-two primitive death metal roll. Both are implemented in different ways, but it tells the listener a bit about this band. Cruachan feels like a band on form, enjoying what they do once more, but also stuck in thier own sound. Change is a difficult thing and this record doesn’t sound in any of it. One could argue that this is the reason the whole folk metal movement passed the Irish group by. I don’t know, perhaps they are comfortable in their own little niche. Songs like ‘Gae Bolga’ and ‘The Arrival of the Fir Bolg’ are both well constructed and atmospheric and display the strenght of Cruachan. I worry that they will remain an anachronism in a genre that moved far beyond the primitive sound of this group.