ALBUM REVIEW: Skáld – Huldufólk


Steeped in Nordic mythology, France’s Skáld draw extensively on traditional folk music and employ the Old Norse language for many of their lyrics. Huldufólk (Decca / Universal Music) is the group’s fourth full-length release and is themed around the subject of its title: huldufólk, or “hidden people” is the name given to the mythical beings — elves, dwarves, trolls — that populate Nordic folklore. Moreover, according to the press release accompanying this record, the work honours “an entire people in whom many Scandinavians still believe”.

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FESTIVAL REVIEW: Damnation Festival 2022 Live at BEC Arena Manchester


Crowd at Damnation – Credit: Rich Price Photography

Following the highly successful 2021 post-lockdown return of Damnation Festival to Leeds University, 2022 sees the event move back to its original home city of Manchester, now expanded to take place in the 6000-capacity BEC Arena.

 

The move, whilst probably inevitable, was always going to be something of a gamble. Some of the smaller rooms at the Leeds, Damnation were getting dangerously crammed, and the festival’s repute, ticket-buying demand, and band-booking clout had outgrown its former venue. But, on the other hand, many had come to regard the Leeds University Union, for all its quirks and eccentricities, as Damnation’s home.

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ALBUM REVIEW: In The Woods… – Diversum


 

Authenticity.

 

The concept defies explanation, evades forensic inspection and can tie even the greatest philosophers in knots. Yet it’s something that we seek in artistic expression, and somehow we instinctively know when we encounter it.

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ALBUM REVIEW: MMXX – Sacred Cargo


 

A new doom metal “supergroup” releasing a COVID-19 lockdown album in late 2022. That sentence, which describes MMXXSacred Cargo (Candlelight) in plain terms, will no doubt inspire a variety of different thoughts and feelings in people with an interest in such things. Some might dismiss the concept (album) out of hand. After all, the band’s name translates as “2020” and, well, not only is it not 2020 anymore, but the mere mention of that year is liable to inspire at least a wearied eye-roll if not a flashback to genuine out-and-out despair.

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FESTIVAL REVIEW: ArcTanGent Festival 2022 Live at Fernhill Farm – Bristol UK


 

Having steadily grown since its inception in 2013, ArcTanGent Festival’s 2022 event is a three-day, five-stage (plus single-stage warm-up day) outdoor affair showcasing a curated lineup of over 120 metal, rock and alternative artists with a focus on post-rock, progressive and experimental styles. 2022 marks the return of ArcTanGent to Fernhill Farm near Bristol following the inevitable cancellation of the previous two years’ festivals.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Daeva – Through Sheer Will and Black Magic


 

Through Sheer Will and Black Magic (20 Buck Spin) is the debut full-length release from Philadephia’s Daeva, a perhaps overdue followup to 2017’s Pulsing Dark Absorptions EP. The new record is a “fiery maelstrom of early demonic black metal and jagged edge thrash convulsions”, according to the press release, and the cover art is undeniably of the Hellish persuasion, depicting as it does in quasi-cartoon form a plethora of dragons, devil-beings and other assorted ghoulish creatures against a dramatic backdrop of moody skies and outlandish cliffs. It’s the type of album cover that could have been plucked straight out of the eighties and that could either be viewed as life-affirmingly nostalgic or snigger-inducingly ludicrous.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Skid Row – The Gang’s All Here


The Gang’s All Here (earMUSIC) is the sixth album from New Jersey’s Skid Row. Of course, the gang in question is somewhat different from the one that emerged in the late eighties with Sebastian Bach at the helm. The core lineup of guitarists Dave “The Snake” Sabo and Scotti Hill plus bassist Rachel Bolan has remained since 1987, but many drummers and singers have come and gone since the band’s 1999 reformation. Rob Hammersmith has sat behind the kit since 2010, whilst former Swedish Idol winner Erik Grönwall only joined earlier this year, replacing ZP Theart.

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PODCAST: Episode #196: Duncan Evans Interviews Jo Quail at ArcTanGent Festival


 

Intrepid artist and writer Duncan Evans interviewed the incomparable cellist/avant-garde composer and metaller Jo Quail at the recent ArcTanGent Festival. Jo discussed her recent collaboration with Emma Ruth Rundle and tour, how her solo efforts and shows differ, the new projects she is currently composing and their possible future releases (including one with Maria Franz of Heilung), how she was commissioned by Walter of Roadburn Festival to create the acclaimed work “The Cartographer” and how she still utilizes music theory.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Frayle – Skin and Sorrow


 

Skin & Sorrow (Aqualamb) is the second full-length release from Cleveland, Ohio’s “heavy, low and witchy” duo Frayle. The band consists of multi-instrumentalist Sean Bilovecky and singer Gwyn Strang, who between them cite the influence both doom metal (Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Sleep) and avant-garde pop (Björk, Portishead). Frayle’s stated aim is to create “music for the night sky”.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Crippled Black Pheonix – Benefyre


 

Banefyre (Season of Mist) is the twelfth album from Crippled Black Phoenix, the category-defying collective centred around Justin Greaves, a former doom metal drummer (for bands such as Electric Wizard and Iron Monkey) turned multi-instrumentalist songwriter. The current studio lineup of the band has Greaves joined by longstanding vocalist Belinda Kordic, plus more recent recruits Helen Stanley (keys, synths, trumpet), Andy Taylor (guitars), and new second vocalist and third guitarist Joel Segerstedt.

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