Apart from the fact that these guys are named Мрамор, which translates as ‘Marble’, I know little about them. They were formed in 2015 in Ulan-Ude. This is in the far east of Russia, in the republic of Buryatia. A place far removed from Moscow and probably much different to what you think you know as Russia.
The music of the group is definitely different and is described as post-black metal or depressive rock, which immediately draws comparison to German experimentalists Bethlehem. It makes for a fascinating bit of listening though.
Ok, I’m going to give you the description of the wild sound that Мрамор produces as I hear it. It has a major tone in general, it feels just super upbeat and joyous in the weirdest way. Their vocalist shrieks with the same maddening style as Yvonne Wilczynska of Bethlehem and sometimes the songs simply have hooks that remind you of the feel-good punkrock of the late nineties. Though after ‘Пробуждение’ that soon fades and we get into the more post-black metal spheres that this band is aiming for.
The tremolo guitar play creates a vibrant tapestry full of color. That continuous stream is definitely taken from black metal, but the pounding drum and groovy bass line say something completely different. This actually rocks on ‘Оттепель’ and that explains why the band likes to call their sound ‘depressed rock’. The songs are rich with samples but go from swooping, majestic pieces to pretty firm rocking tunes and gentle ballads like ‘Навсегда’ in the best Russian tradition. That stunning variety alone makes these guys extremely good and interesting.
Label: Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions Band: Au-Dessus Origin: Lithuania
Au-Dessus from Lithuania
Au-Dessus is one of the new wave of bands that bring a new aspect to the realm of black metal. Some may call it post black metal, others may use the new term blackgaze for this. Formed in Vilnius in 2014, the band has members in its ranks from groups like Pergalė, ExileIntoSuffery and Mangragora. Though they hail from Lithuania, the name translates to ‘Above’ in French.
What you immediately notice about this group is their whole aesthetic. No harsh logo’s, corpse paint or spikes, nothing traditional. The only thing that you might find connective is the black hoods, but even those are stylized and different. The cover with a child, carrying coins on its eyelids is heavy. It signifies a death. The subtlety and cold beauty are exemplary for the sound of the Lithuanian group.
The sleek and clean artwork is immediately tangible in the well-produced sound of the group. Polished riffs and a great balance in the sound makes listening to Au-Dessus a pleasure. The songs are numbered, and ‘VI’ plummets you instantly into the atmospheric black metal riffing. The continuous, blaring wall of sound creates an uncanny calm, with haunting spectres ever at the edge of the experience. Vocalist Mantas roars, growls and spits in pure harrowing anger over the ever pushing and progressing sound, which flows with the smoothness of a river.
By the time you hit track ‘IX’ it becomes sort of clear that there’s a good bit of rocking groove underneath all the mayhem. For brief moments the engine to the sound shows, which is really running smoothly and purring like a kitten, but screams a moment later when the pace increases for a dramatic climax. Au-Dessus is all about the build-up, the subtle shifts and sudden bursts of energy. Wave after wave of dissonant, wailing guitars hit you. You submerge in the cold sea of sound.
I’m quite certain that purists will have less appreciation for this band. Their sound moves you with layers upon layers of the atmosphere, crisp production and a sense of grandeur and emotional beauty. They make me think of groups like Harakiri For The Sky and maybe elements of Deafheaven, while holding that mysterious allure of more occult bands. They never seem to actually implement many symbols in their music, maybe to let the sound speak for itself more.
Au-Dessus can be tough and hard, but only when it serves the overall narrative. Most of their music has a dirge-like somberness to it, but harrowing, biting passages are there when they need to be. Losing yourself in this record is quite possible.
Label: Seasons of Mist Band: Numenorean Origin: Canada
The whole post-blackmetal thing hasn’t got the best rep, but that is really a shame if you look at the larger thing. The genre is pushing the boundaries of black metal to a more poppy sound, thus allowing the genre some more connection, thus input and growth. Now, if every label needs some post BM bands to bolster their roster (and sales), that’s a different question. Not everything is as good as you’d hope, but these guys really are some fine song smiths.
Canadians Numenorean are one of those bands, pushing the sound into that more blackgaze direction of smooth sonic tapestries and emotional vocals. In 2014 the band dropped demo and now there’s the full lenght from the duo. Byron Lemley and BrandonLemley are the guys responsible for the music of Numenorean. The name is a fleeting reference to the Atlantis-like myth of the island of Numenor and its inhabitants in Middle-Earth, in Tolkien’s mythology.
Filled with long, emotional sounding songs with strange, unnerving samples, like on opener ‘Home’, the band evokes an instant reaction. Blistering speed and hyperfast guitar riffs, that create a feeling of static standstill are exchanged with languid passages of mild, reverberating playfulness. Roaring vocals and eerie screams are woven into the complete tapestry, which is much akin to a warm sonic blanket that smoothly enters your ears.
No raw bludgeoning assaults and piercing screams, this is a production that is ment to please. There’s a deep melancholy or despair to the songs. ‘Devour’ for example is a song that touches something, stirs long lost feelings and memories, thanks to that right tone and timbre of the music.
Now and then the music feels very postrocky, innocent and blissful. The continuous cycle of building up and then exploding into frenziend bursts of guitarplay and blast beats is also akin to the genre. It makes for a rather pleasant listen to this pleasant and strirring record.
This is the second sound of the Underground of 2015, with bands like Inquisitor, Odota, An Autumn For Crippled Children and Baptists. So much good stuff left over from last year.
Inquisitor – Clinamen | Episteme
The Lithuanian scene is a truly hidden gem and the band Inquisitor was recommended to me for listening. The band has been around for 12 years already and makes a dense combination of hard riffing and passionate melodies in what can be perceived as an organic whole. Funky, hectic grooves lace the song ‘Hearken, Memmius!’ that opens their new record. Soaring guitars. That playful weird sound is apparently their schtick, also the semi-clean vocals offer a new persective. ‘Hence The Mouthful of Time’ is full of progressive piano elements and peculiar elements.
Though progressive and embracing avant-garde, there is nothing tame about the groups sound. The album shows much variation, but also sheer brutality and grim atmospheres to the listener. The strenght however, is the detailed extremes the band seems to play with in their music, going from typical black metal to a form of jazz or funk and back again. The sound is always bleak and all you would expect from a band that labels as black metal. The intelligent sound of these guys is definitely worth the attention of the avid metal fan though and I cannot wait to hear more from them.
An Autumn For Crippled Children – try not to love everything you destroy EP
With probably the must fucked-up bandname in a long time of fucked-up bandnames, this group does make an extremely beautiful sort of post-black metal. Soaring film score elements accompany a layered, atmospheric barrage of guitar and sonic effects on the titletrack. There’s a warmth in the sound of this mysterious group from the Netherlands that has no equal. It’s the warmth of embracing a certain fatalism. Fun fact is the reference of the title to previous full lenght ‘Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love’.
The second song is ‘post war’, which has fierce guitar structures that even with their smooth effects sound like typical black metal riffing. The sound is rich and reminds the listener of obvious names like Deafheaven and Liturgy, but with a weird twist of their own. This is a band that has done amazing work this far and is worth recommending to anyone who is into this music, but also those outside of it.
Baptists – Bloodmines
Luckily, there are still good hardcore records coming out now and then and this new one by Vancouver residents Baptists is a true blistering masterpiece of what hardcore should be. A lot of squeeking guitar work and gritty rhythm combinations makes the sound of the Canadians agressive and controlled. Their aesthetic is something with man versus nature, which is displayed in the beautiful cover that expresses a dark perspective on this struggle. That darkness is taken into the sound of songs like ‘Vistas’ and ‘Harm Introduction’.
Grinding guitars and hectic breaks form the base of the raging songs the band keeps chugging out. The furious vocals are spat out at break-neck speed, furious at the world and followed by pounding drums. The sound is coherent and organic though, there is little artfical about this band and I guess that is one of their main charms. Hopefully they cross the ocean soon, so we can admire their live antics as well.
Odota – Fever Marshall
Jarmo Nuutre is a peculiar dude, who does fantastic tattoo’s and used to make mammoth-stomping sludge with Talbot. This is his new project and it is filled with a lot of awesome. Slow creeping sound, filled with strange atmospheric effects accompany the searing guitarwork. Black metal inspired, industrial tinged noise on a slow, doomy pace is what best captures the sound on this first release. The heavy distorted vocals and rest of the sound offer a sound that envelopes the listener. Tracks like ‘Bad Medicine’ stand out due to their dark and frightening atmosphere.
Strangely, a song like ‘Half Eagle’ feels more like a video game soundtrack mixed with an evil EBM song that you have to dance to in the intro. The sound samples Nuutre choses, betray an eclectic sound and a creative mind that is free of boundaries. Closer ‘Rattlesnakes Unfold’ is a tidal wave that keeps pushing you under in a dense rattling, drumming sound, waves of distorted guitar wafting over you, while vocals seem to just scream at the sky. This debut of Odota is an unholy experience of awesome and for those who like a little bit of experiment and doom in their blackened noise metal. Did I capture it there?