Ghost Cult is stoked to present the brand new single and lyric video for “Song From Brighter Days”, from San Diego Fantasy rockers King Gorm! The entire world of their songs set in self-made world of bards, wizards, dragons, swords, and mythic legends: all laid down against an epic backdrop of folk, progressive rock, and other influences. If you are digging the throwback sounds of neo-folk, prog, and trad metal bands you will absolutely love King Gorm, and find yourself compelled to undertake a great quest to boot! The bands’ self-titled new album releases on July 31st! Check out the amazing lyric video for “Song From Brighter Days” now! Continue reading
Denver Stoner/Sludge outfit In The Company Of Serpents has spent most of its eight years as a fluctuating two-piece, with only vocalist and guitarist Grant Netzorg as the constant. The arrival of Vermin Womb‘s JP Damron to the drumseat has seen an expansion to a trio with the addition of ex-Black Sheep of Kali stringman Ben Pitts and, maybe as a result, fourth album Lux (Self-Release) adds elements of invention and atmosphere to the core sound, demonstrating welcome growth. Continue reading
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
Heilung are not merely a Neo-Folk Band. Nay – they are a high concept Neo-Folk band, as shown by their new album Futha (Season of Mist), which is apparently about women’s bits, as opposed to the last album Lifa (also by Season of Mist), which was about men’s bits or something. Look, I’m paraphrasing the press release here. Leave me alone. Continue reading
Trying to conceptualize a natural world in audio is both a daunting and rewarding experience for the artist and the listener. For those that don’t have the luxury of a forest to walk through, music can ultimately fill that vacuum when it’s done well. It provides another level of escapism for the listener and can be hugely beneficial to the atmosphere and tone of a record.
This is exactly what Suldusk (real name Emily Highfield) does with her newest release Lunar Falls (Northern Silence Productions). Continue reading
Ever since first emerging from experimental, neo-folk roots, singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe has amassed a strong and ever-expanding cult following amongst the metal and avant-garde communities, and is increasingly becoming a more household name without trading in on such dynamic qualities nor dark and brooding atmospherics. Previous album Abyss (Sargent House) was a greater departure than much of her catalogue at that point with a much more prominent metallic backbone, invoking the likes of black metal, industrial and noise rock amongst a hotbed of styles. Her latest album Hiss Spun (Sargent House) sees further stylistic changes, yet remains closer to Abyss sonically, sees her further moving away from her folk routes, and offers her heaviest, nauseating and at times visceral effort to date. Continue reading
According to those who are, supposedly, in the “know”, the album is dead and the only thing that we are interested in now, whether on our streaming service of choice, our iPods or laptops are the hits, the single tracks. The album, as we know and loved it, has passed to the great gig in the sky. Nobody seems to have told Jake Smith (aka The White Buffalo) this.
For the past couple of years Smith has steadily built an increasingly fervent following for his beguiling blend of country, Americana, folk and melancholic rock. His progression as a musician has been helped by artistic jumps forward in songcraft, subtlety and nuance and, let’s not be coy here, having a spot on the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed television show, Sons of Anarchy, cannot have done him any harm either.
Love and the Death of Damnation is his latest album and it is, well, fantastic, actually. This is the sort of album that makes you want to take up smoking again or start smoking if you’ve never done it. It’s the sort of record that effortlessly traverses a rich palette of aural majesty: darkened narratives of deals gone bad, loves gained and lost and oneupmanship battles around drinking and shooting pool are just the start of a rich, brooding and utterly captivating record.
The first cut from the album, a humdinger of a duet with Audra Mae, the husky and emotion packed ‘I Got You’, is but one piece of prosecution evidence for a record that is about human resilience, the power of love and strength under extreme adversity.
Smith’s exemplary qualities as a lyricist are in full effect here: he has a brilliant ability to make the general feel deeply personal and emotive: it is a baritone voice that suggests a life lived hard and well, a voice that speaks of adventure and pain, often in equal measure. Smith captures the pyscho-geography of the Deep South with a forensic eye. He has a palpable sense of raw anger at the injustice and failings of the American Dream. Fortunately, this is an artist that, having suffered loneliness and betrayal is optimistic that humanity and fairness and love will prevail, despite the obvious and challenging setbacks that he has faced.
On Love and the Death of Damnation, Smith has succeeded in creating a series of individual tales of love and loss, redemption, survival and the power of the human spirit. Long term admirers of Smith will recognise an artist that has moved beyond a default songwriting aesthetic that was almost uniformly dark.
On this latest album, there is light and shade, an expansive sound and supreme evidence of an artist finding a clear and distinctive voice in the process. Comparisons with other “great” American songwriters are likely to be numerous and obvious. Know this: The Love and Death of Damnation is an evocative record that you will return to again and again. Majestic.
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The quickened yet subtle rhythms of Myths and Muses (Serpentyne Music), the second album from London Neo-Folk outfit Serpentyne, are the only aspect that would ordinarily stir the discerning Rock or Metal fan. It’s an attractive sound nonetheless, heavily rooted in traditional Folk whilst bleeding melodies of both Celtic and, more prominently, Eastern origin: the enchanting, mystical instrumentation and chants of ‘Alexandria’ and ‘Valkyries’ in particular.
The template is set from the start – samples and sequencing underpinned by both authentic and programmed rhythms, while melodies skip along the surface like a giddy yet graceful child. The voice of Maggie Beth-Sand is at once beautiful, delicate and haunting; occasionally adopting a narrative style yet soaring and lilting with fragile ease. Constant bursts of Electronica have more in common with Dub Trance: the pulsing lynns, manufactured beats and samples erasing some of the core sound’s natural charm. It shows adventure however, and affirms the varying influences the band blend together with no little skill. ‘Freya’s Firedance’ and the classic ‘Gaudete’ carry much of the traditional Folk feel yet ally this with subtle but pacy beats, French harmonies and Asian chanting which add a quirky life to the body.
The rustic charm of ‘Hymn to Cynthia’ has that up-tempo feel akin to modern Dance music and, while the inclusion of other genres is refreshing and inventive, it begins to grate after a while if it ain’t your bag. The horribly cheesy 80’s Synth-Pop of ‘Pastyme With Good Company’ comes across like late Genesis meets Bucks Fizz and is the prime example of that creative freedom going a little too far. The French reel-laments ‘Je Vivroie Liement’ and ‘Douce Dame Jolie’ and the beautiful ‘A Rosebud in June’ are pure fiddle-and-pipes Folk: jaunty yet eerie; the harmonies mild yet perfect and as soul-piercing as they are throughout the album; and it’s where the real joy can be found.
If it’s steel you’re after you’ll find little here. There’s enough about Myths and Muses, however, to delight the closet folkies among us, and it’s a toasty chillout after a hard day’s worth of crushing noise.
Like a massive-antlered stag glimpsed amidst a wintry landscape, Agalloch albums have always been breathtaking, elusive and hard to pin down. Emerging from hibernation every four years on average, the Portland, Oregon quartet have never once disappointed with their unique brand of post rock, black metal and neo-folk, and fifth opus The Serpent and the Sphere (Profound Lore) looks set to continue their elegant and ever-evolving legacy.
Based around an astral premise as opposed to the spiritual themes of 2010 predecessor Marrow of the Spirit, The Serpent and the Sphere has a more refined construct this time around with nine tracks clocking in at around about an hour, three of them being brief neo-folk instrumentals composed by guest musician Nathanael Larochette of Musk Ox. His presence is a mystery given that the band are no stranger to this type of acoustic passage, but you will hear no complaints as they fit like sturdy oaks, anchoring the album steadfastly amidst a surging sea of progressive elements.
From the gradually building urgency of the eleven minute opener ‘Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation’ which ascends ever higher with the threat of release so near yet so far, to the classy melodic black metal of ‘The Astral Dialogue’ to the soaring, shimmering post metal of equally lengthy ‘Plateau of the Ages’, there is something here to delight all fans and ensnare many a newcomer. The playing is constantly thoughtful and skilled, the production clear as the driven snow and every element of Agalloch’s soul-stirring repertoire, save for John Haugm’s solemn clean vocals are present and correct.
A spiritual journey that you will want to experience over and over again, The Serpent and the Sphere has something for everyone, and is something everyone should experience.
Anticipation is palpable inside the magnificent art deco interior of the Islington Assembly hall. The grandeur and opulence of this listed building seem fitting for the inaugural performance of material from the controversial new album Shelter from Alcest, which has seen Neige and his colleagues dispense the metallic aspects of the band’s sound and embracing a collage of dreamy indie rock.
Prior to the unveiling of the new material, enter Bristol quintet The Fauns who enter the fray with a sound centred around the breathy vocals of Alison Garner. While the majority of their set is, a delicate and enchanting experience there remains the odd moment of mediocre indie pop. New album Lights has seen them grow from their humble beginnings. Its lush electronica meshed with atmospheric chords to provide a seductive backdrop of haunting ambience.
Hexvessel’s magical, majestic prog folk is truly awesome. Drifting from the atmospheric epic of ‘Woods To Conjure’ into the doom folk dirge of ‘No Holier Temple’, they are truly unstoppable. Vocalist Matt “Kvolst” McNerney has a truly astounding voice and the combination of shimmering guitars and elegant trumpet allows the smoky atmospheric of this Anglo Finnish outfit to whisk you out into an enchanted wilderness. Ending with a seductive rendition of Yoko Ono’s‘Woman Of Salem’ the venue has truly been bewitched by their pagan magic.
For many following such an otherworldly display would be née on impossible. Yet in the case of Stéphane “Neige” Paut and company, putting on a clinic of ethereal beauty is all in a day’s work. New opus “Shelter” may have stripped away any residual metal influences Alcest previously had, yet tonight’s performance is delivered with utter conviction and an air of confidence only gaining from sticking wholeheartedly to your creative muse. Opening with new single ‘Opale’, Neige and company seem immediately comfortable and clearly unconcerned with the audience response. As it stands the band, choose to strike a delicate balance between their new direction and the older material.
Paut sports a beaming smile throughout much of the performance, yet no one could accuse him of turning in a half-hearted performance. When ‘Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles’ rears its head Neige delivers the harsh vocal parts with gusto and vigour despite his apparent tiredness for composing them and ‘Autre Temps’ is greeted like a long lost lover with the hall taking up the soaring chorus vocal.
A perfectly balanced mix of material sees Neige and company seduce and soothe with the odd flurry of blasts and harsh textures of old thrown in. Bravely soldiering forward Alcest elect to conclude the evening with the spinetingly ‘Délivrance’ Credit must certainly go to the open-minded nature of tonight’s audience but also to the bravery and integrity of the headliner for following their hearts while remembering how their fans supported them.
L’eveil des muses
Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles
Beings of Light
Sur l’océan couleur de fer
Percées de lumière
Souvenirs d’un autre monde
Words: Ross Baker
Photos: Ian Cashman