Through some numeric fails by myself, this is the last sounds of the underground in the old form with Astronoid, Monoliths, Vukari & Void Omnia. After this, reviews will appear solo, just one band at the time.
Astronoid – Air
Don’t confuse these guy with the heavy stoner/doom band from Sweden, this is a different kind of tune. Self described as a band playing dream thrash, Astronoid hails from Groveland in the United States, near the national parks in California. The group takes their inspiration from atmospheric groups like Alcest, Windir and Jesu to create their very own sound. Lofty, open and warm it’s music to immerse in. The art work gives away and predetermines your experience slightly I believe. The air and wind swept rocks give something mountainous and wide to the music. Enough bumbling, lets dig in.
Fast paced with high notes and the occasional lofty bit of blast beats, the band reminds you in a way of Deafheaven with an emo singer on vocals (not in a negative way). Expressive, clean vocals that sound like they could be part of a Yellowcard song. It makes for a strangely accessible bit of music with a continuously soaring, high feeling to it. That actually gives quite some varied tunes, like the minimal start for the gentle intermezzo ‘Violence’, that feels like trickling sound, well dosed and reduced to a minimum to merely support the vocals. The next track offers a full on battery of bombastic music. But it never gets bombastic, it always remains a bit shoegazey, even reminding you of that Angels & Airwaves sound. I know, that might not sound complimentory, but its ment that way still. It’s a magical record, hard to place, but magical anyways.
Monoliths – Monoliths
Dry Cough Records
Monoliths hails from Nothingham, therefor being from the proximity of whatever earth vein is the cause of all the heavy stuff coming from that part of the world. The band myth is that they started playing and the sound that come forth evolved in a most natural manner, it’s just what it is and played with full conviction without a plan and without premeditation. Remarkable fact is that James Plotkin took care of the mastering (known from Khanate and OLD). It says a lot about the qualities and strength of this young band.
To describe the music of these three musicians as monolithic would be the biggest understatement you could make. The collossal riffs are like a force of nature, smashing through everything with its might. Two tracks are presented, of which the first is ‘Perpetual Moon’. A scorching, distortion riddled session of gargantuan guitar work and earth shaking drums. It really is just riffs and pounding, endlessly all the way to the end times. ‘The Omnipresence of Emptiness’ is even more reminiscent of the high and mighty Sleep with its stretched out sound and meanderings. The hypnotic endless repetition is switched to a new speed at just the right time. It’s amazing to see how well the band manages to pull the right stuff out of their big wizard hats to sound menacing and dark. What an overwhelming debut.
The band Vukari hails from Illinois’ Chicago and has been around for a few years. This is their second full length in their obscure and very own branch of black metal with dense atmospheres. The group likes adressing conceptual issues in their music, which is an interesting and fresh take on the genre. In the ranks we find plenty of musical experience. Most notably drummer Mike DeStefano, who has been working live with Abigail Williams. For the rest it’s a background in all sort of genres like deathcore (I Killed Everyone), thrash (Eternal Vomit) and stoner (Horseburner). All that seems to fade when this band is gathered to make their own sound.
The band plays a sound that can really only be described as what it is. Atmospheric black metal, but the pace is rather intense on most of the songs. There’s some dense postrock inspiration audible in the repetitive sound of these guys, remniscent of the more loud groups as if Russian Circles meets Altar of Plagues or such. At some points when the rolling heavy rhythm section is really being synced with the gruff vocals of Marek Cimochowicz one can almost feel the Isis vibe of heavy post metallic thunder. Peaking is what the band does on ‘Sovereignity Through Extreme Tyranny’, the guttural, decaying vocals and the down pour of melancholic guitar riffing offers a truly majestic experience. Grand and spun out, this song is I think the best representative of Vukaria’s sound, which is deeply atmospheric, warm and as foggy as the cover featuring a man on a boat in the mist. It matches and feels like a complete package. Dream away with this.
Void Omnia is a relatively young black metal band from Oakland in the United States with ties to various bands, most notably the massive sounding Tombs. Other bands that members have been active in are slightly lesser known Infinite Waste, Apocryphon, Mutilation Rites and many more. Most succesfull one could say, has been their bass player Justin Ennis who was in Tombs and MR. The bleak sounding band has released their first full length now and its a tough bit of music. I was mostly attracted to it thanks to it’s indecipherable logo, which was a bit different to me. Also the cover with a priest-like figure facing cosmic chaos is intriguing and captivating instantly, speaking to something in the unconscious I suppose, about Elder gods?
The cover is done by Glenn Schonn. It’s that chaotic vision, that allows you to really enter the realm of madness that is the sound of Void Omnia.’Remanence of a Ghost Haunt’ starts of with a rapid pace and blistering guitar work, though the rhythms feel almost folky (though on a different kind of drugs). Screeched vocals and a dense, technical mixture of instruments offers a layered cake of flavors for the listener. It’s sometimes almost Dragonforce like, how the blast beats and relentless speed combine, but then it settles down a bit to speak of mountainous landscapes with an uncanny intensity. The frantic pace of the record and sudden stop-go moments, like on the hatchet like ‘Singularity’ are a bit much and even though the band shows its technical prowess, it’s an exhausting listening experience, but rewarding.