Label: Vacant Fulfillment Band: Warren Schoenbright Origin: United Kingdom
Inspired by the Egremont region in Cumbria, Warren Schoenbright created an exceptional record after a residency at the Florence Art Centre, situated on a defunct Haematite mine. It captures the environment, the depressive mood of an industrial site fallen out of use, leaving its remnants behind. This is captured on the record ‘Excavations’.
The band is three-piece, consisting of Daniel McClennan on drums, Alex Virji on bass and vocals, and Iker Ormazabal Martínez on Guitar. While they create drone/noise, their music is quite easy to listen to. Imagine something in between 5F-55 and Godflesh, and you kind of have it. Add the human nihilism to a sort of found organic sound in the industrial decay, and there we have Warren Schoenbright.
The album opens with minimal sounds and a more ambient like atmosphere, up until the droning sound swells and unleashes in a torrentuous, sludgy mass of guitars. A massive, industrial water slide, that is both heavy and hypnotic, disgusting and harmonious at the same time. No wonder that the group collaborated earlier with Caina on their ‘Christ Clad in White Phosphorous’ album to add a heavy foundation of urban despair of nauseating, gritty firmness. Exactly that is what they bring to this release too.
The album only contains one, ongoing track, so it is like being caught in the worst and most grim water slide you could ever imagine. The clanging sounds of metal, the pulsating beats of machinery and the constrictive nature of the music emulate the work that once took place on the location that served as inspiration for this record. For just under 25 minutes, you are stuck, completely held in thrall by the beating, surging rhythm, and darkness of Excavations.
Label: Dead Moon Records Band: Wolf Faced God Origin: USA
As we look back to our past, we delve further on to find meaning. The prehistoric times have started to fascinate us and various artists are exploring the sounds from that time. Wolf Faced God is one of those acts and with the album ‘Stone Altars’, the artist behind it reimagines the ancient past in a world full of wonder.
Hailing from the United States, Thorn Skarthborg is also the owner of the label Dead Moon Records, which releases various exciting acts in this dark ambient/ritual corner of the more explorative music. Boldly treading ancient realms and howling at the moon that still on a good night can fascinate us.
The trickling of water and eerie flutes resound in the distance as the tribal drumming starts. Instantly you are taken to a world, much quieter and smaller than ours. Peculiar synths reach through the hermetic, hallucinatory rhythm and take you to a bird’s eye position, from which you soar from opener ‘Children of the Sun’ to ‘Glacial Journey’. The wind rattles you as drones create the semblance of a song structure, but perhaps it is simply your mind trying to find structure in the wild sounds of nature?
Even more low and foreboding is the sound when we enter the ritual on ‘Paleolithic Rituals’. Humming, murmuring tones sometimes break through, evoking the sense of ritual chanting. A wonderful experience, not unlike the one on ‘Cult of the Mammoths’, which sounds playful and lively like the great forest. Immerse yourself in the splendor of a world that is simply much more dangerous and fleeting with this record, filled with magnificent ambient tunes. I absolutely love it.
It’s a given that Cryo Chamber releases are superb. My expectations for this joint release by AtriumCarceri and Herbst9 are therefore high and I expect some exceptional material here on ‘Ur Djupan Dal’, which is a cooperative piece of gloomy ambient music.
The story starts in a harbor, warm and mysterious, perhaps in the orient? But this is a land of magical beings, of giants and dragons, but also of mystic vapors and strange rituals. Atrium Carceri is a project by Simon Heath, known for his involvement with ColdMeatIndustries and founder of CryoChamber. Herbst9 is a mysterious new age/ambient project from Leipzig with various other expressions.
Unearthly mumblings and rumblings open the record and allow you entrance into this realm, as a shrill whistle blows and various ambiance and field sounds seem to fill your consciousness. Slow, gliding and with a sense of immenseness drums guide you forward as the utterances keep disturbing the sense of tranquility. In the sound, there’s always something at the edge of your perception happening though. Something ominous, foreboding even, of other events that might lurk.
That whispering takes a clear shape on ‘Ur Evighetens Pipa’, where an almost mechanic rhythm is disturbed by utterings in an unidentifiable language. This mysterious tongue seems full of mystery. On ‘Drakhuvud’ we even hear ritualistic chanting, as the sound drones onwards with unremitting power and booming strength. That is what draws you into the sound of this record, it’s sheer force and overwhelming ability to captivate and demand attention with heaviness you feel in your gut.
ΚΑΤΑΠΥΓΩΝ or Katapygon translates best as ‘the finger’, so that should be clear. The project combines ancient Greek music with electroacoustic and ambient sounds in order to create a uniquely flavored concoction of blips, chants, and ancient rituals. It makes up a rather miraculous release altogether.
ΜΗΟΥΣΑ, in turn, translates probably best as ‘muse’. The description with this record is strange, to say the least. Suggestive and shrouded in mystery, the notes refer to a poem by Paul Celan, to the philologist Wagenheim (which might be a Latinized name). The Russian group creates a record with all these references, that suggests the dispersion of humans from the islands of Hellas millennia ago in music that defies description.
From the operatic opening of ‘Jenseits Der Menchen’ onwards, you’re drawn into a world of mystery and wonder with this mixture of folk, ambient, and drone. Classical samples and odd incantations fill the air, as this collaborative effort with Noises of Russia rolls forward. Spoken word passages whisper over the droning, heavy drums, which only hid after large intervals. By the time we get to ‘Пчёлы Персефоны (feat. Sal Solaris & Noises of Russia)’, a full on martial, throbbing beat takes over as a whispering voice pronounces the words. It’s odd, wet sound is almost uncanny if it weren’t for the supporting regal drones.
The chanting ladies on ‘O Phosphor Hecate’ take it all to a more ethereal level, with dense, vast beats and that traditional ecclesiastic singing in an uncomfortable disharmony. The chanting evokes a melancholy and yearning, that harks back through the aeons that separate the suggested origins from the obtruse age we live in, where magic and art no longer are an intertwined, integrated part of life. As we move towards ‘Persephone (feat. Neznamo)’, we are once more taken on that journey of mythical chanting and fat, physical beats. You can feel this in your gut.
This record is quite something. It defies proper description, but really rattles the listener. Recommended audio-experience!
qqqØqqq is a project dedicated to silence. It’s a creation by Tomasso Busatto (Plasst) on synths, who also runs the Casetta label and Carlo Mantione (Contemplatio) on guitar and pedals. Their sound is a dedication to silence, to meditative calm and the serenity that can be found in there.
The duo hails from Italy and has a certain affiliation with murmurmori. Their music could be described as minimalist and meditative. Their record is out on Casetta, but also on E’ Un Brutto Posto Dove Vivere , Contemplatio, Dreamingorilla Records and Insonnia Lunare Records. This is the sound to immerse yourself in and simply drift away.
The music feels like triphop meets postrock, with plenty of audio samples. The sound has a certain flat flow to it, which just carries you along without ever deviating from its continuation. At times the sound swells to a more violent timbre, but never leaves the current where it is in. Particularly ‘All this Heaviness is just my monolithic self’ stands out by its intensity.
It’s peculiar how spacious the sound can be of qqqØqqq, because the sound at times feels so immense as if you are completely getting lost in it. Ethereal and earthy at the same time, the lazy beat and eerie soundscapes offer a profound expression. The titles appear to refer to states of mind, which are invoked by the sound. For example ‘Crumbling plains and burning stones of consciousness (Feat. H!U)’ has a certain forlorn sound to it. The slow beats crush anything that is still out there, untill only void remains.
This is how qqqØqqq completely blows you away with abstract sounds and immersive beauty. Classify this as ambient or drone, it doesn’t matter, it’s music for the mind.
Originally this project by Alessio Antoni was started in 2009 under the name NHART. NHART became NERATERRÆ and after a long period of time the music made in those early days is available to the listener. ‘The NHART Demo[n]s’ offer haunting creations from the past that need to be set free. That is what this release is all about.
Antoni also plays in Alma Flua, a band playing pretty straight forward rock and roll. The beast unleashes in this project though, which is a mixture of ambient, death industrial, power electronics, noise and drone. Te record consists of three demo’s from those early NHART days with truly intriguing sounds and sonic experiences to bask in.
The record feels a lot like being way to close to machines and devices in factories. Trains coming through tunnels and engines rattling. Fluid, mechanized and continuous are terms that describe the way the sound moves. There’s little to no song structure present, you simply get the cold, blaring sounds of an industrialized world presented in 4 minute formats. It chops up bits of that reality and freezes them in time. Some tunes follow a more industrial orchestration, but it remains an unpleasant experience.
If you imagine this music as part of our daily surroundings, isolated and ripped from the daily noise, the oddness sinks in. Otherworldly effects are part of what we hear on a daily basis and yet we hardly manage to distinguish them. The sounds NERATERRÆ captures on this record are testament to our alienated world. It captures a radical disonnect from the many aspects and layers of our daily experience I might read to much into it, but the almost David Lynch-like (check the Eraserhead soundtrack) quality of this record feels particularly confrontational. Dark and full of despair, a record of clarity.
The dark holds many shapes, even the other side of the sun might be dark if this album is any indication. The French duo Cober Ord take inspiration from something deeper than nature. Something more primordial than the earths shaping, which you find in an underlying rhythm and timbre.
The duo embraces the spiritual idea of animism. This means that certain objects and beings possess distinctive spiritual qualities. That is something they try to put into their sound, which is stripped of human elements in a way. It’s the forgotten caves, the underground rivers and the unknown corners of the world. Think ambient, but also just sounds, field recording meets drone. All of that and more by Ynn (vocals, noise and sounds, known from Habsyll) and Yn (percussion, known from Stille Volk and Ihan).
The dark, meandering drone reminds me of David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Is it a drone or an organic sound, because it feels alive and puts up the hair on the back of my neck. It’s a part of the 17 minute opening (and title track), which gradually leads you to the deepest parts of the world, where only inhuman sounds occur. Towards the end, bestial roars interrupt the drone. In the dark with nowhere to go, this is not what I’d call a pleasant moment of the record. Droning, doomy and with sounds that make you feel slightly queesy and unnerved, the sound meanders on. The vocals are modified and mutated to unearthly entities, but all still is part of a rhythmic, natural sounding progression.
That changes when the percussion takes the forefront on ‘Forêt V Cathédrale Glas I’. It feels like you’ve ended up in a different place, an underworld furnace, where mad rhythmic hammering is resounding. It’s a hellish racket, but almost industrial sounding and strangely magical as well. The vocals indicate other creatures from more mythical sources, working their instruments here in a devilish symphony with pumping bellows and clanging of anvils. Guttural barks resound over this rhythm.
It’s amazing how strongly this music plays on the imagination. It’s like a black metal paradise, but what makes it so unnerving is how real the sounds are, how every peep and squeek is audible, as if they’ve really went down into the darkness to make recordings of an unknown danger. But there’s a beautiful harmony to the sound as well, it’s always rhythmic, organic and flowing forwards unstoppably. It’s an aural journey that resets your thinking in a profound way.
This is magical, hauting and a bit creepy, but such a wonderful effort. I really recommend locking yourself up in the dark and listening to Cober Ord. Maybe in a dark forest, to experience the otherness. Well worth it.
Four reviews from the underground, as you know and love them. This time Tau Cross, Obsequiae, Sunn O))) and Kauan. Enjoy your own taste of them.
Tau Cross – S/T Relapse Records
Call it a supergroup if you will, I just call it great stuff. The band was formed by Rob “The Baron” Miller of UK metalpunks Amebix and interestingly enough you find a tau cross decorating the last album of that band. Add members of Voivod and Misery to that and you do have something that definitely can get the label super group. In my opinion that term usually totally misses the plot and makes a band sound shitty instantly. Not in this case, this sounds great.
Musically the band is not really reinventing the steel, but neither do they sound explicitly metal. In fact the band has a sound that comes remarkably close to quite catchy and middle of the road. The vocals of The Baron, would suggest there’s family ties between him, Abbath and Lemmy. Great guitarwork creates a soaring sound, that feels big and stretched out. A lot like a good bit of desert stoner, but with that rough, crusty edge to it. The band is surprisingly melodic and catchy at times, with these sudden hooks like on ‘Prison’. This band is one of the reasons to go to Roadburn!
Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs 20 Buck Spin
You’re never quite sure what you’ll get with these random black metal picks on bandcamp, but I’m pleasantly surprised by these boys from Minneapolis. There’s a sense of fresh sound to this band, they have found there own almost power-metal like sound somewhere (I’m struggling to describe this in the positive way it deserves, fully understanding power metal is not doing that). It’s the band’s second effort and well worth a listen due to its peculiar other influnces.
The wavy rhythm behind the song is in some way giving it a swirling, big aura. It makes the sound feel a bit bigger and warmer. Add to that the folk passages here and there and warm guitar lines and in the centre you have very condensed, powerful black metal element, enveloped in atmospheric elements. The clean instruments are working out very well in combination with the harsh vocals and blast beats. I mean, this is medieval black metal or black metal for dragonslayers, it just works. Sure, if you like harsh, then this might be too mellow for you. I dig this one for sure.
Sunn O))) – Kannon Southern Lord
If you want to really get a grip on the intense meaning behind this new project by lords of the drone Sunn O))) you should read this. The artistic angle on the whole project is so complex and globally involved that it almost overshadows the art itself that goes into the record. Luckily most will relinquish form and go for function, which in the case of this band is being baptized in body crawling drones and mythical chanting over a layer of fuzzy distortion. The fact that the band worked with Aliza Shvartz to me says a lot about the daring behind it, but also the artistic position of the band. But lets not digress further and talk about this trilogy.
The dark, foreboding drones follow eachother and pile up layer after layer. It creates also an atmosphere that is closely relatable to the oriëntal theme of the record, which can be alligned with buddhist ideas. There’s a calm to the music, that somehow lingers just long enough to keep holding that vibe. The vocals of Attila Csihar are the dark element on this record, because the music feels more earthy and calm. His guttaral meanderings are there to push the sun away. Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson succeed in blending their guitars an equipment into a captivating piece, with a certain mystic side that entrances the listener. A surprisingly accesible record as well, in which much more depth can be found by repeated listening.
Kauan – Sorni Nai Blood Music
The new album by the Chelyabinsk band is an attempt at telling the story of the Djatlov Pass Incident, where 10 hikers under mysterious circumstances found their deaths in the Ural. The band does their lyrics in Finnish, but likes to tell Russian stories in their music, which is a blend between folky doom metal and postrock-like passages, combining clean and distorted sounds into atmospheric pieces. The artwork is magical, which accompanies the record and depicts scenes from the incident that is the theme of the record. It shows an eye for detail and a complete approach. The band has been sharing footage from the hikers as well.
Weaving beautiful passages, the band creates the vista of snow covered mountains, the wind surging through the trees. Intensifying, it also relates of the weather, the danger and possible disastrousnes. There’s also trickling guitar play, gentle like nature can be with a ray of sun or the drops of water falling of a branch. Most of all, the music is absolutely gorgeous and haunting. It’s hard to describe the way this band manages to set up an atmospheric and dreamy record that tells a story like no other. The growled vocals speak of the harsh parts, while the clean sing of the adventure and nature. The sound remains natural and a bit as if the band is showing us a film, while in flowing motion the journey passes by in musical fashion.
Another session of delving into the underground, with Bong, Deuil, Wiegedood and Suðri. Great releases and great fun listening to them. I’m always eager to hear more new things ofcourse.
Bong – We Are, We Were And We Will Have Been
A new album from the arch-stoners Bong. Drugged out, stretched out like lukewarm tar and always so hypnotic, this album is not a shift of pace in any way for the Britons. Basically the albums opens with a drone, that seems to go to infinity and beyond. For seven minutes it’s just that with a minor bit of percussion going on. Suddenly a dark voice launches itself, proclaiming dark words, like a high priest of an occult, old ceremony. This ends a couple of minutes later, leaving you to drift of on that same drone for the rest of opening track ‘Time Regained’.
‘Find Your Gods’ starts with a spoken word element, but from there on it slowly rund away in a long, reverberating drone that takes you to far of places. Hypnotic and transcendent, this record is definitely a work of art from the masters of its kind. I have to admit that I’m impressed with this band and I might be willing to check some more of their stuff later on. Later… I ‘m comin back to earth now for a bit.
Suðri – Reise
Ukrainian DSBM that sounds a bit Burzumesque, well I’m going to give that a spin. I know nothing of this band, just that this came out yesterday. Turns out this is a Ukrainian label with a Chilean band, a one man project. That is surprising, because from the whole aura of this release, you expect it to be continental stuff. The opener ‘Die Reise’ is one of those minimal, quasi-acoustic dreamy tracks that prompted me to use the Burzum reference. That slow, atmospheric feel remains throughout the four track record, but its always nice to find that Burzum inspiration again with bands playing this niche sound.
The depressed element becomes clear rather quickly with ‘Ashes and Solitude’, a seven minute lasting drag with barked vocals that convey the despair. The creeping tone is that of a desperate, malformed being clawing at the light. Wafting riffs are like a cold rain. ‘Im Regen’ utilizes the piano for its intro, creating the ambiance suited for this kind of muic. It’s surprising how powerful these elemetns are on a record like this, the acoustic part. ‘An Endless Journey’ wraps it up with tha typical barrage of layered, tremolo guitar and the hoarse vocals. An impressive record, using the interplay between two very different sounds with succes.
Deuil – Shock/Deny…
Only two songs, but for some bands that is more than enough to convey the message. These Belgians from Liegè combine doom, sludge, drone and stoner to a potent brew of fucking sonic magma. Screeched vocals, landslide riffs chugged out and a constant feeling of discomfort is what ‘Shock’ opens with. Blast beats keep slapping you in the face later in the song, while the guitars are crying out in despair. Around the seven minute mark, the sound gets lighter, warmer as if the sun gets a moment to illuminate the blackness, reminding you more of post-rock. Then the door shuts and dark, looming riffs fall like curtains. From there on its a dark way down.
‘Deny’ is the frenzied twin brother of the opening track. Furious riffs and pummeling drums create a more black metal atmosphere on this track with continuous blast beats and atmospheric density. Eerie tones fill the air and the band drudges on in their typical way to construct a big song with some, epic passages. A whispering female voice enters the fray, speaking mysticly over the churning bass lines. The song slowly fades out with only buzzing and then only whispering. A great record for those who love the dirty, dark Roadburn sound.
Wiegedood – De Doden hebben het Goed
Yeah, that name means ‘crib death’, the word for parents finding their child in the crib deceased, after being apparently healthy. It’s a cruel and sad thing, but also a great name for a black metal band. These Belgians from Ghent picked it up and made some intriguing music on their debut ‘The Dead are doing well’ (losely translated). The opener ‘Svanesang’ (Swan Song) is a burst of flurried riffing and tremolo guitarplay, that seems to shift between minor and major at some points, leaving behind a trail of ice and fire.
The 13 minute epic dwindles down for a minute, but then ‘Kwaad Bloed’ (Evil blood) launches again, with those particular sunny passages and the screamed vocals (which are very tight btw). This song sinks away in a swamp of distortion and guitar picking notes, gently ending the suffering. There the slow-paced, gloomy title track starts, with an eerie, meandering riff soaring high above. Super fast tremolo gives it that gloomy feel. Its doom pace makes this a slow descent into hell, depicted by the creeping rhythm section. Final track ‘Onder Gaan’ (going under) picks up the blistering riffing and majestic sound again.
Time for some new revelations from the underground. I feel forced to not pick mysterious bands that no one has heard of this time, since there simply happen to be some brilliant bands I need to tell you about.
If you happen to have recommendations for me, they’d be most welcome. Leave me a comment!
Earth – Primitive and Deadly
The band from Washington has been a defining and genre-shifting force for ages and thus already captivated my attention in the past. Particularly the album ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’, from 2008, was amazing to me. Every album the band has produced since their conception in 1989 has been brilliant and different. This one has captivated me so much, that I’ll go into every song for a bit.
Starting with “Torn By The Fox of the Crescent Moon”, the cascading riffs wash down slowly but full of foreboding. The colour of the music indeed feels pale like the moon. Darkness is in the end the main element with which Earth is playing, but there’s a light as well in that darkness, which is tangible in this songs beaming peaks that pierce the clouds. The description of a serpentine approach in music is embraced to the fullest in “There Is a Serpent Coming”, which has some riffs that give the song a movie soundtrack quality. Mark Lanegan with his charcoal black rasp provides the repetitive vocals on this track, that is filled with anticipation and warning. Bleak sound is embraced by warmth in the voice and music, which leads to a magical musical experience.
“From the Zodiacal Light” features the warm and captivating vocals of Rabia Shaheen Qazi from the band Rose Windows. Though musically far distincts, the vocals show similarities with those of The Devil’s Blood. Mystical words over soaring music and droning rhythm. Southern rock flavor is definitely detectable in the weeping guitar sounds of ‘Even Hell Has Its Heroes’. The sound seems to slow down while the chords are reverberating in the air. It’s the sound of the desert, with the sun shining in your eyes and twisting your vision, hallucinating and shrill sounding. The slow beat dragging on in the endless space around you. A similar sound can be heard on ‘Rooks Across The Gates’, featuring once again Mark Lanegan on vocal duties. This landscape is bleaker though and after almost ten minutes it just fades away.
When the debut of this band came out, I was very keen to get my hands on it and review their sounds. I thought it was beautiful, haunting, cool and the sound of a drive through a city in the very early morning or in the deep of the night. Recently I got back into the xx and decided to listen to that other album, which I sadly ignored at the time.
The hazy youthful sound of the debut already demonstrated something unique that probably would not be reproducable. The band was on that fragile moment between youth and adulthood, expressing the sublime angst of that point in an excellent album. That foggy, misty feeling of an early day, fresh and new, was captivated in the sounds on that first record.
That is the downfall of Coexist. Though it takes on the mellow beats, the minimal sound and gentle tones with whispered vocals, it lacks that fresh sound. The crisp break of dawn has been lifted and the monring sun has made the fog evaporate, it feels like a rehashed version of that moment when the fog was on the leaves and the cold was still in the air. When the words are whispered, no clouds appear from the mouth, just sounds. This time the angst is replaced by adulthood, certainty and a carreer. No longer is the magic in the air. It was a moment in time, that has now past. We still have the songs though.
Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden
The epic doom of Pallbearer is much appreciated in the world that adores it, so that makes it worth mentioning on itself. I like the epic quality of their sound, which reminds me a bit of Candlemass, even if it’s only a feeling for me as a listener. The clean and strong vocals are a main reason for that opinion I would think.
Oh, the pallbearer is part of the ensemble that carries a coffin. That’s kinda the drag they put in their doom, minor and sadness. It’s really everything you could want from a doom record, including its accessability. This is easy going stuff, nothing harsh, just bleak and heavy as you would want it. If you are even slightly into doom and you love feeling a bit sad with some heavy, slow guitarwork, check this band out for real.
High point is in my opinion the song ‘The Ghost I Used To Be’. Check it out. All crushing riffs, soaring guitars and picturesque vocals and strenght. Power metal meets doom? I don’t know, but this song I love.
Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love
What got me tuned in to the band Perfect Pussy was not their music, but their charming singer Meredith Graves. An interview passed around on UPcoming (with a tacky headline in that ‘You won’t believe’.. line they’ve been pumping out like there’s no tomorrow), where she undressed while being interviewed. It was so captivating, that you forget that a beautiful lady is undressing. She spoke about punkrock, identity, looks and the self.
The music reflects that peculiar nature in a way I think. No distortion, just violent, wild passion is what the music expresses. An eclectic mixture of punkrock, noise and lofi rockmusic. The sound is energetic, uncompromising and light. The jangling guitar and the rattling drum form a warm tapestry of ragtag sound, that for some magical reason still sounds like a song.
Songs like ‘Big Stars’ and ‘Dig’ feature the almost proclaiming vocal style of Graves in their best shape. Powerful and relentless blurting out words of defiance. It is a great record and a great band that doesn’t seem to have many problems being out there and against the norm.