Tag Archives: Hardcore

Underground Sounds: Ragana/Thou – Let Our Names Be Forgotten

Label: An Out Recordings
Band: Thou/Ragana
Origin: United States

I would much rather debate music than politics, but when it comes to the progressive message this may be the most punch-packing-package deal you can get. Ragana and Thou combine their strength for an exceptional split, titled ‘Let Our Names Be Forgotten’.

Thou from Baton Rouge has been prolific since 2005 with a long string of top-notch releases and a clearly voiced message. Their latest full-length ‘Magus’ has landed them a show at Roadburn even as a next highlight. Ragana is a genre-crushing duo from Oakland, who have dubbed their music witch doom. Combining the best of ethereal vocals and mystery with crushing core elements, they’re a force.

The opener ‘Inviolate’ opens with sensitivity and slow passages. It’s almost hauntingly beautiful, which makes the launch into screams even more powerful and hard-hitting on this short exertion by Ragana. The band has a penchant for a sort of witchcore or witch doom, full of seductively beautiful music and harrowing bursts to contrast. I’m making up that term as I go, but it also refers to the Baltic origin of the name. That aspect returns on ‘The Void’, with vocals that have that desperate tone you hear in the work of Chelsea Wolfe and the like. The doomy riffing, the totured screams, it goes to the marrow of your bones with Ragana, as if clawing towards ‘The Sun’. A particular spin on the classic, most slowly progressing doom legends. It’s magnificent.

But Thou is no lesser force obviously, and ‘The Fool Who Thought He was King’ is an instant demonstration of that. Vitriolic screamed vocals over crunchy doom, with that right level of distortion and melodic mournfulness. A dirge-like texture, that weaves onwards as the voice snaps at the listener. The song than starts unwinding into a wavery, post-rock track, that drags the listener along as everything seems to slow down into a sticky, pulling motion. ‘Death to the King and all His Loyal subjects’ closes the record, with a threatening, ominous note. It’s a gritty, drudging tune that drags you down and down with it. We definitely end on a great not here with Thou. Excellent.

Ankle deep in Dirt

Featuring Bog Body, Nyredolk, The Nietzsche, Mentor and Entropy Created Consciousness

These days, what used to be metal in its most vile and violent expressive forms has become a safe and polished sound. If this is a good thing or not, that is up to you to decide. Music evolves and changes over time and where the original wave of doom metal harked towards the fantastic and gloomy, black metal to cold and desolate unfeelingness and death metal really revolved around pummeling and punishing performances, this changes over time and much music nowadays under the banner of death, black or doom sounds particularly easy on the ear. And that’s fine… I guess. But deep down, there’s always crusty, dirty music coming out.

Disgusting, raw and visceral

What should metal sound like? That depends if you believe Possessed or Death was the first death metal act or perhaps if you consider Venom or Celtic Frost the way-paver for this sound. Even doom probably has its dilemma’s. But that’s not what I’m talking about here, as I want to focus on one direction of the development into the gritty, murky, visceral and dirty sound that was so long at the core of the underground. This is the true grit, music that makes you feel like you need to wash up. It’s still there, if you look for it.

Bog Body is a relatively new band, who have not been around that long and their demo is the first statement by the New York duo. Their band photo depicts abandonment and decay, the rubble of society. Inspired by the ritual aspect of death found in bog bodies, their sound is one of simplicity and punishment. Doomy, gloomy passages with grinding distortion and minimalist repetition. The vocals are harsh howls, full of bite and venom as ‘Dessicant Drip’ despoils your senses. Pummeling, daring and challenging you like a mad hobo wielding a knife in an alley, the songs just barrel forward, lunging, grabbing and squeezing the life out of everything. And this is only the debut.

There’s a lot of similarities with the Danish band NyreDolk, who are also a masked duo standing in the remains of western society on their profile picture. Their crusty, punk-infused sound is like black metal gone wrong according to their bio and they are quite honestly spot-on there. Ramming rhythms, that sound like the instruments are scraped over gravel, as the vocalist taunts and bellows his crooked words at you. But the band can also sound truly demented and harrowing on a track like ‘Dø Langsomt’ with these crawling passages. Absolutely brilliant material in its squat-crust-splendor with that big, challenging and evil sound you love from black metal. A great record and a promise for more, but I kind of hope they stick to making EP’s like this.

Uncut diamonds

Music from the dirt doesn’t need to sound disgustingly unclean though, it’s all about the raw intent and fury. It can be a straight, raw punch to the jaw in a hardcore vibe. Uncut diamonds, rough in their pure glory.

So you hardly need that black metal vibe to sound raw and dirty, which Ukrainian dark hardcore band The Nietzsche proves on their ‘Finals’ record. Imagine the bastard child of The Chariot and Mastodon, singing in Russian and English, both hard and fierce as well as creepingly melancholic. The sound is versatile but so direct. The lyrics are in fact the most notable, with poetic and complex lyrics, particularly in a song titled, rather obnoxiously I assumed at first, ‘Shake Your Spear’ and ‘Emily (Wants The) D’. These guys are not attempting to be anything you expect and underneath the gritty armor, there’s a complex and beautiful piece of music hidden for those willing and able to understand it. Pretty sure Nietzsche would appreciate this superior beatdown sound.

Described as satanic hardcore, Mentor features members of Thaw, Furia and J.D. Overdrive. And pardon me, but… FUCK! This record comes in with a firm kick to the teeth and a whole lot of grit. ‘Cults, Crypts and Corpses’ is like a sick fantasy from a bunch of guys who normally take the roundabout way to bring their message in an atmospheric haze. This time, they can just handle the axe, bat and club. It’s tight riffing, bellowing vocals and a stomping, rocking vibe from start to end. Just check out a track like ‘Death Mask’, which just pummels you in the face, like a little Slayer tribute. Or my favorite, the darkened and demented Kvelertak-like ‘Churchburner Girl’. Man, this record makes you want to get all sweaty and dirt stained in a muddy mosh pit at a festival or so. Every guitar lick, every riff is just nasty and the record hits the right spot!

Sinister haze

Lo-fi black metal is an excellent way to create a sound so oppressing and hazy, that it feels similarly unclean. Entropy Created Consciousness does just that on their decay-ridden, abyssal sounding record ‘Impressions of the Morning Star’. There is an eerie line of hope in the sound of these songs, created by a mysterious entity without face and name, inspired by William Blake and the grand grotesque of classic doom metal by bands like the Peaceville Three. But the sound is so wrangled and wrong at times, that it makes you feel uncomfortable as a listener. Dark and foreboding, yet open and vast. Yeah, this is something sinister, so you should probably check it out.

 

Underground Sounds: Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics

Label: Relapse Records
Band: Trappist
Origin: United States

Trappist is maybe one of the coolest bands to come out of the woodwork in recent times with their beer-inspired thrash-core-metal. The group has embraced the moniker (pun intended) of the famous brewing monks you mostly find in Belgium, and plays fast and loud on their debut album ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’.

Having earned their name and fame in Spazz, Infest, Despise You, Crom, Killed in Action and probably tons more, its a group of musicians who work on auto-pilot and I guess also on beer. The guys also had a joined podcast, named ‘Hour of the Barbarian’, which sparked their collaboration for this project of beer-infused thrashing, which is actually pretty damn good when you check it out and get into it.
Much of the tunes are fast-paced, straight-ahead thrashy d-beaty metalpunk, with a lot of fun, tongue-in-cheek and energy. ‘No Soldier Left Behind’ is instant screaming mayhem, with a fast pace and some intense guitar torturing. Meaty riffs, chunky drums and a burly, brawling set of vocals combine for an excellent, fun-packed pile of beer-soaked songs. Titles like ‘This means Wort’ or ‘Giving the Boot To Rheinheitsgebot’ are simply hilarious. The last is actually a strangely mellow song, allowing you to just roar along while raising a pint.
There’s something profoundly visceral about the music, much like a night of intense beer drinking it leaves you wondering what’s what with the almost uncontrolled ramblings on ‘Frank The Tank’. Then it launches into some classic metal riffing, deliciously! Following is the new anthem for hardcore craft beer drinkers ‘No Corporate Beer’, a tune for the masses. Yet, lets not forget ’99 Problems (But a Beer Ain’t One)’, as the perennial classic or ‘Wolves in the Taproom’, an obvious reference to Wolves in the Throne Room.

Underground Sounds: xGADDAVÍRx & AAIIEENN

Label: Independent
Band: xGADDAVÍRx & AAIIEENN
Origin: Iceland

There are two great things about bands from Iceland. One is their incessant hunger to create and innovate, the second is their refusal to be confined in narrow-cast genres. I am hardly surprised, therefore, that straight edge hardcore wreckers xGADDAVÍRx team up with electronics artist AAIIEENN.

AAIIEENN hails from Grundarfjörður and produces electronics that are raw and straight-forward, yet weirdly captivating. Cooperating Akranes band xGADDAVÍRx is a fascinating clash of two styles that still works pretty well since, I quite dig this release and am eager to share it with you here.

xGADDAVÍRx is a violent eruption of Icelandic proportions. Bottled up rage and fury is what they deliver after the distorted, electro-intro of ‘Freki Karlinn’. Simmering riffing brings the song on, after which a galloping pace takes over as the band races onward to oblivion with a catchy tune and energetic pace. Vocals are furiously spat out. Man, this grips me. That actually makes the follow-up ambient grooves of AAIIEENN so weird. One minute of flowing water and tranquility, following directly on the violence has a particular contradictory effect on the listener.

We switch back to the Icelandic hardcore punkers, with ‘Kominn með Nóg’. This song sounds like they’re chopping wood, with constant strikes of a hatched. The rattling base is a prominent element in the grooving sound, but it’s that drum that keeps knocking you to the head with force. Some high-intensity riffing comes in as well, to add a taste of fire to the whole expression on a galloping pace. After a brief break, we go to the real beatdown part. This band is so hard, you got to love it. We close the split with another AAIIEENN track, namely ‘Hypersurface’, which is a Nintendo-beat dance tune, featuring hardcore vocals roaring over it. A bit like Enter Shikari when they were at their must awesome. Sweet beat too.

Underground Sounds: Trail of Lies – W.A.R.

Label: Edgewood Records, Farewell Records
Band: Trail of Lies
Origin: United States

Hardcore bands come and go at a rapid pace. It’s one of those things you can count on it seems. Trail of Lies has been kicking about for a while now and seem to stay their course in the landscape of tough sounding, breakdown filled tunes. High-strung hardcore music provided on their new record ‘W.A.R.’.

The band hails from Syracuse and is considered a straight edge act. Featuring members from Naysayer, Forfeit, and Warhound, they’re something of a hardcore-powerhouse, influenced by 90’s hardcore from the east coast of the States. This is definitely the sound that inspired me in the early days of my music quest and stumbling upon them definitely was a joy for the ear.
We kick off with the tune ‘Master of My Destiny’, which is a balled-fists power anthem for the self-empowerment so typical to hardcore music. Pounding rhythms and vocals that rip apart the vocal chords. This heavy hitting, battle-ready trajectory flows forwards through the rest of the record. Always full of fire and passion, driving for a mosh-worthy sound.
Lyrically, the songs fuel the fire with the hardcore staples of breaking stuff, breaking free, brotherhood and self-reliance. Add to that the straight edge lifestyle and you have a true sound of dissent in a society that more and more edges towards hedonism and herd mentality. If there ever was a time, where hardcore was needed, it is this one. Straight up hardcore, with a message and some balls, that’s what you get here.

Underground Sounds: Unravel – Eras of Forfeit

Label: Life Lair Regret Records
Band; Unravel
Origin: Australia

Australian youngsters Unravel are ready to storm the world with their debut album ‘Eras of Forfeit’. The group set forth with a fresh sound in 2015 and has made a few releases since then. However, this is their first full record out on Life Lair Regret Records.

Blending a sound that contains death metal, grindcore and the vibrancy of hardcore, there’s a vitality to the sound of Unravel. Having played with bands like The Black Dahlia Murder to Parkway Drive, these guys clearly have a sound that resonate with whats going on today.

This record just grips me instantly, from the very first rumblings of ‘Arbitrator’. The pace and vibe of the record is much more that of a hardcore record, with its violent breaks and tormented screams. Yet, the ingredients are screeching death metal solo’s, guttural vocals that crack through the surface and an overall catchy groove. Not metalcore, it lacks the slickness to my ear at least. Relentless, the band barrels onward at that energetic, high pace, with ‘No Validation for Violation’. Sheer brutality and muscular riffing.

 By the time you hit ‘Mortal’s Thrist’, you are pretty much black and blue from the continuous beatings by Unravel, who never really let down. Every mellower passage only serves to warm up the pit for the next unbridled clash with perfect paced rhythms and guitars that shoot from ominous to an almost jagged, prodding sound that makes you want to smash and destroy. Lyrically the band mostly deals with the fucked up state of the world around us. Fitting, because that should fuel any furnace of anger. This is a record, you shouldn’t play in traffic.

Hardcore Sounds: Bloodclot – Up in Arms

Label: Metal Blade
Band: Bloodclot
Origin: United States

This is a bit of a special little thing for me because Bloodclot is not a new band. It’s old as fuck and it revives a sound that is very dear to me. Raw, straight up hardcore with a metallic tang in its delivery. Bloodclot originates somewhere in 1981 and revolves around hardcore royalty, Iron Man athlete, vegan activist and Cro-Mags frontman John Joseph.

Joseph rekindled the fire of this band due to a chance situation, where AJ Novello was unable to play and Todd Youth (Agnostic Front, Danzig) was called in to fill in on guitar. Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age) joined up and here we have an all star band. In the previous incarnation in the noughties (2008) the band featured members from Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, Biohazard, Sick of it All, Dead Kennedy‘s and Monster Magnet.

So this is a band full of people that have seen it all but are still keen to play snotty, in your face hardcore music. They do it so well on ‘Up in Arms’, which is a whole record of fun, fury, and groove. Clocking in just under 30 minutes, from the opening riff of the title track on, you’re hooked. Joseph sounds clear and venomous. The energy and drive in the music are frightening. Blistering guitar work, high paced drumming and lyrics that actually have something to say race by.

Sure, this record lacks that ratty vibe of early hardcore. These are musicians who lay down solid tracks, but that also means that they channel their frustration in much more effective and to the point ways. That’s exactly where this record shines brightest. It’s where Joseph lets his voice go in overdrive on ‘Manic’. When the guitars just leave you on edge, waiting for the explosion.

Bloodclot sounds fresh, it sounds like hardcore sounded when it was good and meaningful. There’s no room for any ego’s, just for great and powerful music.

 

 

Sounds of the Underground #40

Some heavy stuff from the underground this time with Vails, Merlin, Wilt and Plebeian Grandstand. There’s so much stuff coming out of the woodwork that simply sounds amazing, how to keep up?

Well, I particularly liked these four.

Vails – Fuckpuncher
When Planets Collide

source: bandcamp

If you name your album ‘Fuckpuncher’, you probably don’t play music full of gentle and soft elements. You probably do something that feels fucking hard and punching. That pretty much would sum up the sound of Vails.  The band hails from London and is a two piece, that produces a punked up, bristling version of sludge without much further decoration. Owen Street batters his bass and provides the singing and Matthew Ham  is slaughtering his drum kit to provide a rumbling backdrop for the whole experience. The necessary effects do the rest.

The sound is one full of grit, distorted and with barely contained violence. It’s not the creeping kind of sludge, but the battering, angry sort that propels itself forward on its rhythm based barrage. ‘Fuckpuncher’ is a raw record that reminds me a bit of Crowbar meats Eyehategod with the intensity of Whores. It definitely has some swagger in its bass riffing, for example on opener ‘Klabautermann’. The sound is sleazy and full of biting, heavy distortion, which only adds to the ferocious charm of this duo. This is one to play in your car for sure. On the title track there’s even a feeling of grandeur in the build-up. Great stuff by these Britons.

Merlin – Electric Children
PRC Music 

source: bandcamp

No wizardry on this crackling bit of doom, but clear voiced heavy wah wah doom that speaks of death, doom and gloom. The band from Wrinngarth takes doom from the 70’s and merges it with current day heavy psych. Their intent? To melt minds and enslave people… oh well, that last might not be part of it, but they really want to bring back the epic riffing.  Their influences therefor range from Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats to Hawkind and Sabbath. Oh and there’s a lot of fuzz going on there as well. Enjoy the ride into the darkness.

Listening ot ‘Electric Children’, you are overwhelmed by the towering vocals that are more akin to the early doom greats than you’d imagine possible. Even the timbre of the recording feels dusty and canned, but also that fuzzy guitar play feels like its Blue Cheer at work underneath it all. The Americans keep the sound light, accesible, but oh so much fun to listen to. The languid vocals, the eerie buzzing guitars, the primitive sound. It all seems a bit much calculated, but the band from Kansas pulls it off with flair. Lots of solo’s, lots of messy sounding bluesy grooves, it’s all good with these electric children.

Wilt – Moving Monoliths
Bindrune/Eiwaz Productions

source: Bandcamp

To say that the Canadian group Wilt makes music that is monolithic in its slow, brimming reverie is an understatement to the art of the band. Their sound is considered to be atmospheric black metal, but traces of the most mind-melting doom (bordering on the funeral kind) is definitely present on their record. It’s the first full lenght for the Manitoba five piece. The record came out in november 2015, but I feel that I have to share its brilliance here.

Slow, drudging music soars around, filling the wide void that the band embraces. The slow is combinated with a blistering drummer, that creates an underlying tension in the shimmering sound of the Canadians. The lurching vocals are cracking, heaving with frustration and grief in a profound and convincing manner. Though that is mainly what describes the title track and opener ‘Illusion of Hope’, on ‘The Elder’ the drums take over and a much faster, pummeling vibe overtakes the whole song. Sure, this record does get a bit monotonous at some point for sure, but let it embrace you and it’s a great experience.

Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows
Throatruiner Records 

source: Bandcamp

There are still those that push the black metal genre forwards and Frenchies Plebeian Grandstand do just that. You might link them to the Deathspell Omega’s of this world, but the band is not related. Thematically the band is taking a totally different approach to the genre, creating something much more tangible and realistic. It’s also interesting to know that the band has been around for 11 years and therefor I’m amazed to not have noticed them before. Alas, it’s the way the world works and now I have and have been blown away by their record.

Ever been hit in the head at a show, when everything suddenly seems to go faster, while you go slower? It’s sort of like that when Plebeian Grandstand launches into their savage, lo-fi bursts of fury. Short assaults are followed by brief, uncouth moments that feel like there’s something wrong or perverse about the music. That unsettling effect is tangible from the  first track onwards, but stays with you the whole album. The hooky, mesmerizing sound of these guys remins you that not every band labelling themselves as avantgarde (or being labeled as, potato and all) has seen a modernist novel once, some actually are unfathomably complex and strange. So, don’t take  my word for it, but listen to the blistering assault of their record yourself. It’s free, treat yourself.

Sounds of the Underground #24

This time from that deep underground, I’ve got TurnstileForgotten Tomb, Moloch and Anfinnsaas for you to indulge in. Enjoy listening to some cool music.

Turnstile – Nonstop Feeling

source: Bandcamp

Oh shit! Did I just get pulled back into listening to hardcore with a cool nineties vibe, remniscent of Shelter and Cro-Mags both. There’s also a tinge of some of the groove metal stuff going on in the day, but surprisingly, this band is super young. In fact this is their debut. The Baltimorians (is that the word?) have been around since 2010 and now delivered an awesome debut record. The album is out on Reaper Records, known for acts like Terror and Trapped Under Ice.

Turnstile has no problem putting back some emo in the core, without becoming whiney. There’s less of the tough guy bullshit, which is too often part of the New York sound they embrace. That gives way more freedom for music, since the songs don’t need to be laced with breakdowns and circle pit frenzy. There’s a lot of that going on, creating that catchy vibe of the more ideological laden hardcore bands of the nineties, specially with the vocals feeling a lot like those of Ray Cappo. Some effects, like on ‘Can’t Deny It’ empasize this fact. Looking forward to seeing these guys play in my town.

Anfinnsaas – Anfinnsaas

Source: Bloody-disgusting.com

There are records, that you put on and just gradually enter your consciousnes. They fit the patterns you expect to hear and just kinda mellow into your hearing. This is not one of those records. This record is a hectic, frantic, noisy and chaotic amalgation of different styles and genres into a product that feels loose and uncontrolled. That would be quite far from the truth though, this band seems to absolutely know what they are doing on this debut. The group exists since 2013 and the name is funnily enough a combination of the last names of both members; Knut Finsaas and Geir Anfinn Halland Johansen.

The record is out on Autumnsong Records and it has six songs on it. These are strongly percussionist songs, even the strings appear to be hammered in some songs, which brings a bit of a djent feeling forwards. No, it’s not like that. The loose sound makes sure that there’s a continuous flurry of twanging and clanging guitar strings, making this feel like an overdriven machine. It’s quite an atmospheric and enjoyable record with a lot of exciting elements to it. Just not for easy listening.

Forgotten Tomb – Hurt Yourself And The Ones You Love

source: bandcamp

Forgotten Tomb is one of the bands pioneering the genre of DSBM. Often controversial, always provoking and in a way brilliant, this is their latest album which immediately betrays some interesting influences in the arwork, atleas the music seems to take a bit more of an industrial/heavy metal approach. Not that the group around Ferdinando Marchisio (Herr Morbid) ever relents in their misanthropic views, but the sound is more accesible.

Tracks like ‘King of Undesirables’ carry a certain Satyricon-like groove and rhythm, which could be a crowd pleaser live. Take that with a big pill of Celtic Frost heavy and slow, and you’ve got yourself a winner. The theme remains very far removed from that greater audience, expressing a true disdain for humanity and life itself. Specially the title track expresses these feelings without any symbolism. The production is done very smoothly by Brad Boatright (known from Nails, Beastmilk and such), which works with the sound of this band. It is probably not their most extreme record, but it sounds pretty awesome.

Moloch – Abstrakter Wald

source: Bandcamp

The idea of recording your album in the Carpathian mountains with an open tape is kind of bespelling, specially considering it was done in a winter night by the Ukranian project Moloch. So imagine that, in the forest and in a part where myth and reality are not that far apart. Where the night holds terrors that have no names. This is very much what sound you can expect from this black metal project. True, there is little metla going on, but that is not diminishing the atmosphere of the recordings one bit.

Eerie, slow rising synth sounds are reverberating gentle in the air. There’s a sense of peacefulnes to the sound, but always there is also a threat. A gentle drone is constantly there, humming, growling but just out of reach. I used black metal project earlier, since its in the description of the band on bandcamp. Obviously, this recording is much closer leaning to ambient and experimental music, even taking a bit of postrock into it. The titles are all the same, except for numbering. That’s why ‘In Dem Gewaltigen Wald Wo Das Echo Sich Selbst Verlier’ stands out, also due to its cold synths and fuller, more open sound, leaving the drone a bit behind for a short moment. A bemused experience, this record is all that.

Sounds of the Underground #21

Some underground music to fit in with the failed summer days with Self Defense Family, Hope Drone, Dope Smoker and Lluvia.

Self Defense Family – Heaven is Earth

Source: Bandcamp

I’ve found out about Self Defense Family about two years ago, through my relentless interest in the works of the Deathwish Inc. label. This strange band was in the middle of the new releases with a bunch of 7″s. I guess this album number two from this experimental group under this moniker, where they previously listened to the name End Of A Year. The group consists of a large amount of members, spread out over the USA and the UK, who compile music together, which leads to an intriguing product.

The sound is different, playing with styles and influnces to create an eclectic different feel to punkrock with a political flavor to it. The rhythm can be tribal (‘Ditko’) or mellow (‘Everyone wants a prize for Feeling’), it’s never the traditional punk but applies the raw, edgy elements in vocals and drive. The melancholic, weary sound is catchy and emotionally laden. Musically the band can go either way they want within their concept, which allows a lot of creative freedom. That makes this album so much more than just a punk album, this is good stuff!

Dope Smoker – Dope Smoker Vol. 4 

source: Bandcamp

Where the other Dope Smokers are all about sand, processions and stonerrock, these take on a slightly different approach. The herb remains the same though for these guys from South-Wales. Yes, thats the one in the UK. These guys are inspired by that herb and surfing, which can be deduced from the water-filled album covers of the band over their last four volumes. Slightly more wet, but still as sleazy, slow and heavy as its supposed to be.

Buzzing bass lines cracklen and chafe down your earholes the whole records, while high vocals rip through this continuous cascade of bass sounds. The band approaches their stoner sound from a more surflike origin, sounding soft and warm, almost grungy at times. The vocals are one moment like Ozzy, the next more like the Beach Boys. It’s that interesting tension that keeps these guys sounding a lot like the character of the sea itself. Always strong, but sometimes oddly calm. It can break up any minute though. Good record for those whol love heavy and fuzzy.

Hope Drone – Cloak Of Ash

source: Bandcamp

There’s the black metal album to blow away all others for 2015, that’s atleast what I experience while listening to this new Hope Drone record for the first time. It’s the third full lenght from these Australians, on which they combine black metal with hardcore and sludge into a feisty mixture of pitch black tar and ashes. The sound truly envelops you with bleak, droning guitar buzzing and eerie electronics, creating that despair you were hoping for.

The vocals are almost howled, a mad barking at the heavens filled with fury and remorse. The tremolo guitar play surges and creates a feeling of utmost urgency, that has a compelling beauty to it as well. The continuous, throbbing layer of rhythm is always present, harrowing and beckoning the listener. It’s like a lake, misty and muddled in your vision that lures you in, like spirits of fairy tales and myths. The lyrics deal with the intensity of these surroundings, the glaring sunlight, the deep emotions  with a ferocious intensity. The band also plays the long game, with slowly reverberating guitar riffs, echoing and gripping, building tension by creating a feeling of stasis. This band is amazing.

Lluvia – Eternidad Solemne

source: bandcamp

Mexico, not the country that springs to mind when you hear black metal, but that would be missing out on things. Lluvia hails from León in the southern country, filled with more than enough of its own mysticism to create a particular black metal sound. The band describes their sound as Ritual ambient black metal and that feels very correct. The name means ‘rain’ in Spanish, a theme that comes back in the samples used on the album, pouring down grief and hatred in a metaphoric sense.

The sound is slow, droning black metal, that sounds ceremonial and melancholic. The venomous attacks of the guitar and vocals get blunted by this languid, streaming sound. The racked screams get smothered in this eerie stream. Now and then this ebbs away, leaving room for folk instruments, that add more lugubrious elements to the songs, with the slight echo to the recording. After the climactic track  ‘Divinidad’, we return to an outro with trisful classic parts and the rain. The eternally flowing rain is still there.