Posts Tagged ‘Avantgarde Music’

The stunning artwork that wraps around Sojourner’s ‘The Shadowed Road’ is what first drew me to it. You can feel that something beautiful lurks beneath this abandoned castle, something dark and fantastical. Sojourner cross swords from two continents and three countries, and ‘The Shadowed Road’ is out now through Avantgarde Music.

The gloroiusly epic piano and guitar intro to ‘Winter’s Slumber’ should prepare you for the grandiosity within. The interplay between the harsher, black metal moments and the ethereal, female vocal led parts is really well done, and doesn’t feel forced. The mesmerising soar of ‘Titan’ follows, with more of the same amazing melodies running throughout. Sojourner strike upon a delicate balance, where the icy cold rasp of frigid black metal meets a warm, folk music atmosphere and creates a whirlwind of evocative and fragile beauty. I love ‘An Oath Sworn in Sorrow’, the way neither the black metal or the haunting female folk parts take a back seat; both are equally important to Sojourner’s sound.

By the time the stunning ‘Where Lost Hope Lies’ leads through into the closing title track, you will be left sitting breathless and exhilirated. This is a blistering, inspiring and moving record that will blow your mind and deserves to be shown to the wide world, for only then will it receive the respect and plaudits it deserves.


Saor - Forgotten Paths

The magnificent journey of Saor since its formation in 2013 has been one of graceful beauty and epic Celtic, atmospheric black metal. This one man project hails from the holy land (yeah, Scotland, the best country) and the new record ‘Forgotten Paths’ looks to continue the legacy. It’ll be released in February through Avantgarde Music.

The opening title track features Neige from Alcest, who couldn’t be a more perfect guest spot, and starts our epic journey. The song feels vast, spreading like a howling, furious wind over rich but desolate lands, where no one has tread foot for centuries. When the fury dies back to delicate piano, we reach a whole new plain of existence; ethereal keys build to a stunning Celtic soundscape powered by blastbeats but drowning in atmosphere. This pattern is recreated with timeless majestic in the evocative, soaring ‘Monadh’, while the Drudkh-esque ‘Bron’ reasserts the black metal credentials. ‘Forgotten Paths’ closes with ‘Exile’, a soothing piece that marks the end of an epic quest and a heartrending journey.

The greatest thing about Saor is that it makes you switch off from everything when you’re listening to it. You know, sometimes you listen to music while reading, while cleaning, while doing other things. Not ‘Forgotten Paths’. I sat absorbed in every little part and couldn’t do anything else. This is already probably my album of the year, and it will take another masterpiece to take it down. Jesus this is so good.

Italy seems to be a place where metal in all its myriad genres seems to thrive. But atmospheric, miserable black metal seems to be a particular strong point, and add Enisum to that list. ‘Seasons of Desolation is the follow up to their much praised ‘Arpitanian Lands’ from 2015, and it is out at the end of April on Avantgarde Music. Almost an hour of miserable black metal awaits.

Opener ‘Autumn of Melancholy’ is a monolith of gloomy despair, where raspy shrieks soar within icy riffs and a weeping atmosphere. A masterfully cold and misty forest of an album, ‘Seasons of Desolation’ keep going back to the well with dark, dense riffing and insidiously glorious melody underneath. Songs fight against the darkness, aching to break through the clouds of hopelessness but can’t ever quite make it. Infernal streams of molten black metal pour from ‘…of Desolation’, while a cloying rain soaks the depressing ‘Nameless Sadness’.

The crushingly brutal ‘Obscure Depths’ is my favourite track here, taking a slightly heavier approach. Enisum are perfect for that rainy spring day, when the odd crack of sunshine appears through torrential rain. Built and crafted for misery but plagued with moments of hope, ‘Seasons of Desolation’ is a tour de force of black metal excellence, steeped in depressive moods. Well worth finding.

Now I have been waiting a long time for this. I first came across Mountains Crave a few years ago with their track ‘The Violet Hour’, and have slavered in hope that a full length would eventually appear. And here it is, the enigmatically titled ‘As We Were When We Were Not’, coming out on Avantgarde Music in May. Something bleak and black for the coming spring!

Opener ‘Ynisvitrin’ opens with ritualistic whispering before a cold, bleak black metal riff takes us far from our safe, warm place. Bleak, depressing black metal is the name of the game here, with hypnotic melodies soaring above a frozen waste. Far more melodic than it has any right to be, Mountains Crave have injected a vastness and a glorious atmosphere here. The ethereal delights of ‘Clear Light of the Void’ sounds like if Isis had made black metal instead of post metal. It is expansive, melodic and yet intensely grim in parts.

The grasp of dynamic shifts in pacing, volume and ferocity here is staggering. Effortlessly darting between blasting torrents of ferocious black metal and delicate, contemplative acoustics, Mountains Crave have designed and crafted one of the most starkly beautiful records I’ve come across in years. The shimmering open to ‘O Arise Magnificent Sun’ is breathtaking, as is the soaring keyboards. If for whatever reason you are sleeping on this band or this record, then wake up now, because these guys could be the next Wolves in the Throne Room. A stunning record.

This atmospheric black metal collective has achieved three excellent things before the music even plays; their name is great, their album title is better and their album art is instantly evocative of what we can likely expect from this piece. Battle Dagorath are a two piece USA/Germany collaboration, whose music explores the most distant parts of this dark galaxy we call home.

‘I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos’ is the first of what plans to be a two course release, and while the eerie signals of ‘From the Black Sun’s Fire’ call from dark corners, invocations to the black serpent in the cosmos begin with ‘Phantom Horizons Beyond’. This is bleak, relentless black metal that barely lets up, nor changes focus. You’d describe it as ‘cold’ or ‘icy’, if it didn’t have a feeling of otherworldly death about it, like there was no concept of temperature in its world. There is distorted effects, and no little melody lurking within these riffs, and it adds a very evocative feel.

Ghostly incantations to great spirits of night flow through each black ritual, and with songs so long and complexity or variety required, Battle Dagorath step up. The gloomy acoustics and keyboard that load the middle of ‘Return to Gates of Dawn’ with such emotion bears stark contrast to the rushing torrents of riffing that follow. The glorious space and melody of ‘Through the Rite of the Stars’ is a massive achievement, evoking the glacial darkness perfectly until the gradual comedown of ‘Transfixion of the Spheres’.

Battle Dagorath have created a glorious monument to the power of atmospheric black metal as an art form. The second part promises to be more than worth a listen, if they can maintain this level of craftsmanship. Futuristic yet fiercely traditional in its ethos, ‘I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos’ praises silent unmentionable evil, with beautiful bleakness.

American atmospheric black metallers Ashbringer return after last year’s stunning ‘Vacant’ with the follow up, ‘Yūgen’, remarkably quickly. One of these bands that follow mighty examples like Drudkh and Panopticon to bring emotive, natural black metal epics to the masses, Ashbringer look to be a new, glimmering star amongst the blackness.

Opener ‘Solace’ is exactly what you’re looking for in an atmospheric black metal song. It builds, swelling with emotive string work and a lonely melody, before soaring into the night sky with soaring temolo riffage and a rasping scream. Ashbringer weave folk melodies into each piece, giving this record a very traditional, olden feel about it. Like a message from a day long since dead, where nature ruled us with its primal power and we ebbed and flowed to it. ‘Oceans Apart’ is a melancholic masterpiece, with many evocative acoustic moments.

The enormity of ‘Yūgen’ hits you on the second or third listen, when each delicate moment and raw emotional black metal collide and meld together into a complex and yet strangely beautiful whole. The glorious ‘Celestial Infancy’, or the touching bleakness of ‘Glowing Embers, Dying Fire’ are two highlights within a record that is made almost solely of them. I can’t wait for those misty winter mornings to return for this album to take its place perfectly.

Plateau Sigma - Rituals

Italian funeral death/doom lords Plateau Sigma bring the misery and the crushing apocalypse on their newest record ‘Rituals’, out now on Avantgarde Music. A weaving of graceful melodies and unbearably heavy morbid doom awaits anyone who begins this journey.

Opener ‘The Nymphs’ is clean, gloomy guitar with muffled giggling in behind, building to the monolithic dirge of ‘Palladion’. Dense, crawling riffs link with glacial quiet sections, while a soulful, almost David Tibet-style spoken word vocal builds into a powerful roar. Plateau Sigma work with post metal stylings; a slow burn build into powerful realms of the riff. Couple that with a rumbling, death/doom style and you’ve got something resembling Neurosis mixing with Paradise Lost.

The haunting drone of ‘The Bridge and the Abyss’ is a personal favourite track, but Plateau Sigma’s deft touch brings multiple shades to the dark, looming miasma of their music. The ghostly clean vocals of ‘Cvltrvm’ meshes beautifully with the propulsive bottom end, while soulful guitar melodies cruise through an ashen sky. This is a band whose maturity and song writing is infinitely impressive.

A mountainous, miserable record that is equal parts graceful melody and crushing, deathly inevitability, as the two part title track closes with glacial simplicity. Plateau Sigma are worth getting into, as their mournful heft is a sheer delight.