Nearly fifteen years ago, current Killswitch Engage members Jesse Leach and Adam Dutkiewicz teamed up to birth the collaborative project Times of Grace. This dynamic duo pushed their creative boundaries by conjuring a fresh take on the heavy-yet-melodic sound. They delivered their debut album, The Hymn of a Broken Man (Roadrunner Records) in 2011. The gloom and aggression let loose on that record was ignited by the brutally honest songwriting. The themes of struggle, heartbreak, and hope were potently delivered with a real and plaintive spirit. These two brought forth a discovery of powerful melancholy and now ten years later, they are offering a sequel to that revelation. Their second full-length Songs of Loss and Separation (Wicked Good Records) is carrying on the melodic mournfulness, yet wonderfully wholesome sound that is Times of Grace.
As much as I enjoy Reverend Bizarre and plenty of Sami Hynninen’s other various projects, I’ve honestly not been as enthused about Opium Warlords. Their experimental brand of Drone Doom tends to be rather hit and miss, producing ideas that can be intriguing but more frequently stretched beyond their limits or constructed haphazardly. Their fifth full-length album, Nembutal (Svart Records), doesn’t promise anything different yet I find its execution to be somehow more palatable than anything else they’ve released.
For the most part, Solstafir’s seventh full-length album follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, 2017’s Berdreyminn (Season of Mist). The songwriting still largely favors the band’s subdued side with influences ranging from Post Punk, Prog Rock, and Ambient greatly informing the Post Metal whole. Tracks like ‘Rokkur’ and ‘Her Fall From Grace’ are heavy on atmosphere with extensive space to breathe and ‘Or’ throws a curveball with its almost Jazz-tinged rhythms.
Devin Townsend is a music extraordinaire who is well-known for his many different and successful projects that he has participated in over the last 25 years or so. Whether it be Strapping Young Lad or Devin Townsend Project the man has always thrown his heart into it. He is a Canadian machine that expertly and consistently generates epic-scale music in many diverse forms. Last year he released his latest solo album, Empath (InsideOut Music). He took his essence to a new level of eccentricity with a masterful embodiment of bonkers meets serene. Many cling to the wilds that is Dev for his honest presentation, whether that be in Jazz, Metal, or whatever genre he chooses to express himself with. His devotees gather in the masses at his shows for a guaranteed excellent and entertaining performance. Last December he brought his uncommon magic to England and much like his actual works, the presentation was a little unconventional. Dev is about to release his new live album, Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 (InsideOut Music) documenting that European tour. It will be released as a limited deluxe 2CD/Blu-Ray/DVD artbook package, a limited 2CD+DVD digipak, gatefold 3LP+2CD vinyl box set, and more.
We caught up with music legend Burton C. Bell (ex Fear Factory) of Ascension of the Watchers for a new podcast, to chat all about his new album Apocrypha (Dissonance Productions). We chatted about the history of the band, the lead up to making this new album, Burton’s songwriting process, how he derives inspiration from film scores and soundtracks, his bandmates Jayce Lewis and John Bechdel (Ministry, Prong), the spiritual side to his lyrics and themes he writes from, the concept of “modern analog” and how it influenced the recording, memories of the late Paul Raven (Killing Joke/Prong), some thoughts on other projects like City of Fire and G/Z/R, and much more. Order the album here, and check out our chat.
After a few out-of-genre collaborations with Lume and Catchechism, REZN’s third proper album returns to their signature Electric Wizard meets Elder on Quaaludes style. Chaotic Divine (Off The Record Label) is right in line with its predecessors, for the most part, pairing the sprawling length of 2017’s Let It Burn with the broadened atmospherics and instrumentation of 2018’s Calm Black Water. However, the heightened Ambient and Post Rock influences have resulted in what is easily their most ambitious effort so far.
As hinted by the title, Doom II (Self-Released) isn’t Witnesses’ second overall album but rather their second to expand on the Doom Metal style that was established on 2019’s To Disappear And To Be Nothing. Its predecessor’s combination of glacial riffing, distraught vocals and bleak mood is well-preserved here and the overarching narrative of a ship lost at sea allows them to be conveyed even more powerfully than before. Convoluted naming conventions aside, it’s a bold leap forward by every metric.
Those who’ve known me for some time will have had their ears blunted by my constant praise for Birmingham, UK Industrial Doom duo Khost. Equal parts sampled violence, malevolent strings and vocal apocalypse, beautiful Eastern lamentations often deflect from that harsh path and create a nuance flavoured by the likes of VAST and Moby. Their fourth album Buried Steel (Cold Spring Records) sees a band now truly at ease with its style, happy to have edgy two-minute psalms populating a set in the knowledge that they serve a purpose for the whole.
As well as being a mainstay of Psych-Noise stalwarts Comets On Fire, and frequent collaborator with such Experimental artists as Current 93, Ben Chasny is frighteningly prolific in the guise of his solo Folk / Americana project Six Organs of Admittance. Latest album Companion Rises (Drag City) is a shimmering trip through the stars which enriches the soul.Continue reading
One of the most underrated extreme metal albums of 2019 is Serpents’ (US) release Temet Nosce. The brainchild of Andrew Mikhail (ex-Oceano), the guitarist, vocalist and composer has taken the solo Blackened Death Metal influenced, auteur-driven work of his previous albums into a fully fleshed-out band. We caught up with Andrew to discuss the genesis of the project, his approach to composing and producing, philosophy and other influences on the band, prospects of the band touring, the Spooky Empire Horror and Tattoo convention, and much more!