K-X-P – IV

Ambient music is tricky. Get it right and you can create some of the most mind-blowing, expansive, forward-thinking art imaginable. Get it wrong and you’re left looking like a pretentious mess. It’s very difficult to ride the line of pretension and come out on the right side when making anything that forsakes a conventional song structure, but by album six, you’d think K-X-P would be pretty adept, right? Continue reading

Glassing – Spotted Horse

A thunderous crack of guitars explode outwards above a deluge of dextrous percussion. It all swirls around the listener before reaching a fever pitch and bursting into its main atonal, bending riff. This is just the mere beginning of ‘When You Stare’ from Blackened post-Hardcore outfit, Glassing, a band clearly out to not just pique interest, but demand attention. The vocals have an ominous amount of reverb to them, giving the same halfway-down-a-corridor feel of the likes of early Emperor or any Black Metal luminaries for that matter. The actual screaming itself, however, has far more in common with contemporaries like Tripsitter and We Never Learned To Live, with its strained and passionate delivery evoking repressed tender emotions rather than scathing the eardrums with rhapsodies of hellfire. Continue reading

Holy Fawn – Death Spells

I think Holy Fawn summed themselves up brilliantly with their band summary: “four creatures making loud, heavy, pretty noises”. Combining ambience, walls of distortion and ethereal vocals, Death Spells (Holy Roar)is the embodiment of these contrasting musical textures.Continue reading

Sataray – Nocturnum

One-person Seattle outfit Sataray is the brainchild of Katarina E. and purports to be a dark, ritualistic experience. Ploughing a live furrow over the last few years with her Performance Art-style shows, Nocturnum (Scry Recordings) is the first long-player from this enigmatic artist.Continue reading

Ugasanie & Dronny Darko – Arctic Gates

Arctic Gates is a collaboration of two prolific artists from the Cryo Chamber label: fellow Ukrainians Ugasanie (Pavel Malyshkin, aka Polterngeist) and Dronny Darko (Oleg Puzan). Its overall feel is oddly subdued, in a manner indicative of Puzan’s idiosyncratic ‘lowercase dark ambient’ that emphasises its intimate relationship with the subject matter through subtle sound-collages and a heavy use of field music. What is perhaps most striking about its use in Arctic Gates, though, is the extent to which the distinction of synthesised sound and field recording is blurred. Continue reading

Hexvessel – All Tree

The relationship between Metal, heavy music and other genres has always been an intriguing and often intertwining one, where artists seem to fall under our umbrella without sharing obvious similar qualities. Case in point is that of Hexvessel, who despite an ever-changing output and a folky base to their sound, have intrinsic links to their native Black Metal scene that has hardly ever even encroached into the territory of distorted guitars. Continue reading

Euclidean – Quod Erat Faciendum

To say that Ambient Blackened Doom Metal is a touch inaccessible is like saying Brexit’s not going brilliantly. No band entering into the realms of this niche sub-genre does so with ideas of fame and fortune, simply a desire to create oppressive and expansive art. It’s in this jagged world that we find Euclidean and Quod Erat Faciendum (Division Records). Continue reading

Astronoid – Astronoid

For all the directions and manner of subject matter that Metal music conveys, for a record to be purely joyous and sincerely uplifting, not simply fun or adrenaline pumping, is a rarity. It is this feeling that Boston, Massachusetts’ own Astronoid tap in to. Their debut effort Air came from out of nowhere and made waves in some circles, whilst criminally going unnoticed by many others, with a sound entirely of their own. Where Air was an excellent and unique debut, their self-titled (both Blood Music) follow-up is Astronoid refining and fully realising who they are. Continue reading