The early nineties was an exciting experimental and developmental time for the genre of Folk Metal. The German outfit SuidAkrA took on this evolving style and meshed it up with Black Metal on their debut album, Lupine Essence that was released in 1997. They were able to uniquely harmonize the two genres and create a memorable and meaningful record that is still considered with reverence in the Black/Folk/Celtic Metal scenes. Now the band is re-releasing their early work with original member Arkadius Antonik remastering each track himself. With new artwork, bonus tracks, and its first release on vinyl, these multi-genre metal veterans are getting a chance to properly present their initial material. Continue reading
Arguably more recognisable for her work with Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Canadian violinist and composer Jessica Moss also has a nifty line in creating solo works of stellar magnificence. Second album Entanglement (CST Records) is a journey through string-led soundscapes and unnerving Electronica that renders the mind a bewitched mess. Continue reading
When you release a fourteen-song follow-up to an album you released barely six months previously you’re either 1) beyond prolific, or 2) blessed with too much time on your hands. When the music involved possesses the quirkiness and diversity of German quintet Black Space Riders, it becomes an even more staggering achievement. Continue reading
I’ve always queried the ‘Funeral’ tag given to German behemoth Ahab. Their undeniably progressive, occasionally melodic leanings give their pummelling crawl a contradictory lightness. Fourth album The Boats of the Glen Carrig (Napalm Records) is a concept based on William Hope Hodgson’s novel of the same name, and is arguably the band’s most expansive project to date as well as boasting some staggering cover art.
Not known for an unadventurous nature, the outfit’s ambition here is nevertheless superseded by the accomplished sound, a crystal-clear production adding beef to the bones and an earthshaking resonance to the foreboding aura. Dainty musings give crushing opener ‘The Isle’ an air of mystery, decorated with Daniel Droste’s unearthly, growling scours which set the tone for this latest chapter of nautical terror. The sparing lead tones of ‘The Things That Made Search’ are evocative and emit the slight Gaelic tone expected of the scene; the subsequent mournful outset granted heartfelt emotion by Droste’s intonations and some subtle yet stirring harmonies. Harsher sounds are never far away of course, and a coruscating roar suddenly rips the ears apart, riffs surreptitiously squeezing the soul through indigent rhythms, veering movements and Cornelius Althammer’s fascinating drum patterns.
Guitar segues from lead to rhythm during ‘Like Red Foam (The Great Storm)’ are seamless, highlighting the organic, almost telepathic interaction between the instruments. Titanic explosions, meanwhile, wake the Earth’s core as they tear at the psyche, with lead edges softening the blows and solos adding an Eastern mystique. That Funereal bent does appear throughout, and introduces standout track ‘The Weedmen’: Droste’s hostile character the evil cousin of Tolkein’s Treebeard. The ‘cleans’ decorating the quiet section, however, soar into the sky and demonstrate the vocalist’s immense talent; while the superior solo work interrupts suitably morose, versatile riffs in arguably the most powerful yet emotional track Ahab has thus far recorded. The varying segments allow the fifteen minutes to fair breeze by, and indeed this is a valid statement for the album as a whole: this five-track version climaxing at just under an hour, yet the depth and meaning leaves the listener feeling every second.
The delicate, Torch-like first movement of closer ‘To Mourn Job’ explodes into a Doom-laden groove carrying more timber than a jiving pachyderm. Hushed, stroked chords open the second half of the track in wistful fashion, as if transporting the biblical character’s corpse to the crashing, swelling finale: mammoth riffs and rhythms that grind bone with slow yet dextrous power.
With more direction, cohesion and harnessed might than ever before, Ahab has produced its greatest, most accessible and soul-affecting opus.