Blackwater Holylight – Silence/Motion
With Blackwater Holylight’s unique brand of Doomgaze getting gradually heavier with each passing album, it makes sense that their third full-length, Silence/Motion (RidingEasy Records), pushes that heaviness to its furthest extents yet.
This is most blatant with the bookending tracks, ‘Delusion’ and ‘Every Corner,’ which feature the band’s first usage of harsh vocals courtesy of guest appearances from Inter Arma, Thou, and Hell’s resident yelly bois. The latter song reserves its aggression for the sped-up climax, but the former feels like it migrated from Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle’s most recent excursions with a little extra restraint.
From there, the tracks in between maintain a noticeably menacing guitar/bass crunch, but the band continues to place the highest priority on their lullaby vocals, dreamy atmospherics, and tripped out fuzz. ‘Falling Faster’ may be the album’s strongest song, ironic considering its gentle bass heavy slow burn, while ‘Around You’ features an easygoing yet enveloping rhythm. It’s also cool to see the title track and ‘MDIII’ slip some tremolo picking into their comforting buildups without flipping the script. Silence/Motion is set to be another grower like the previous albums before it but one that also sits well with their continuing growth.
Buy the album here: https://ridingeasy.ffm.to/bwhl-silencemotion
8 / 10
Hex A.D. – Funeral Tango for Gods & Men
Hex A.D. has been quite reliable since their 2011 formation, releasing five albums of blended Doom Metal and Prog Rock with consistently solid results in a decade’s time. Their newest effort, Funeral Tango For Gods & Men (Fresh Tea Records), continues this pattern and has a fast turnaround time coming off the equally intricately titled Astro Tongue In The Electric Garden which just released in 2020. But while there are plenty of the band’s signature tropes hanging around as one would expect on such a quick release, this album seems to highlight more of their Prog tendencies than before.
The guitar work is based more on melancholic haze than crushing heaviness, the keyboards may be at their most prominent, and the vocals have a more introspective air. The restrained blues of ‘Got The Devil By The Tail,’ the King Crimson-esque meander of ‘One Day Of Wrath, Another Gesture Of Faith,’ and the wistfully lonely ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ are among the album’s highlights. For all the comparisons to Cathedral that Hex A.D. has gotten over the course of their career, this may be a much better realized version of The Guessing Game.
Order the album here: http://www.freshtea.no/utgivelser/
8 / 10
Green Lung – Black Harvest
Like 2019’s Woodland Rites before it, Green Lung’s second album marries the bombastic bravado of Grand Magus and Wolftooth with the rustic mystery of Magic Circle and Pagan Altar. However, an expanded scope sees Black Harvest (Svart Records) putting more emphasis on those former elements than its predecessor. ‘The Harrowing’ and the midway title track set a particularly theatrical tone while the swagger on songs like ‘Reaper’s Scythe’ and ‘You Wear The Mark’ is given even greater power courtesy of an explosive production job. There’s still room for some balladry on ‘Graveyard Sun’ and the closing ‘Born To A Dying World,’ but even those get swallowed up in epic melodrama.
This presentation risks going a little too over the top, but the performances help sell it. The guitar riffs and drumbeats are exceedingly powerful, the keyboards provide plenty of that sweet Seventies Rock organ, and the vocals offer character and catchy vocal lines without losing themselves too deeply in that Ozzy impression. It may not make for the most subtle listening, but Black Harvest takes everything that worked on Woodland Rites and turns it up to eleven.
Buy the album here: https://svartrecords.com/product/greenlung-black-harvestalbum/
8 / 10