Posts Tagged ‘Progressive Black Metal’

Prostitution - Egyptian Blue

By looking at the cover, you’d expect Prostitution’s ‘Egyptian Blue’ to be a prog rock opus of epic proportions. But no, these New Yorkers are some vicious black metallers and this is their latest EP, coming on the heels of 2013’s ‘Listless’. Their sound spreads from Darkthrone to Pink Floyd, and their psychedelic aesthetic jars with standard black metal themes, but damn it if it doesn’t work out pretty well.

Opening track ‘Hypergiant’ is a sprawling, raging monster of a track; all shrieking tremolo and bloodcurdling screams at the start before it begins to evolve, slowly and deliberately into something grander. While always retaining their metal heart (blastbeats reign supreme over much of this EP), the expansive nature of their riffing brings to mind latter period Enslaved, particularly ‘Ruun’, and the soaring ‘The Boat’ melds spiralling fretwork into spacious waves of black metal fury.

Closing with the tour de force of ‘Elevated Droves’, where blastbeats disappear into dense voids of chugging riffing, and atonal melodies haunt plains of progressive metal, ‘Egyptian Blue’ is a thrilling and adventurous piece of extreme metal. Black metal is the core, but like bands like Ihsahn or Ved Buens Ende it isn’t the cage. Prostitution are a stunning proposition.

Solacide - The Finish Line

Finnish black metallers Solacide have been around since 2004, but their heritage stretches back as far as 1996 as Dim Moonlight. After a couple of EPs, ‘The Finish Line’ marks their official debut album, out now on Via Nocturna.

While following a propulsive, urgent black metal style, Solacide also jam in some excellent progressive moments that really add something to the band material. The emotive solo in opener ‘Of Wolf and Lamb’ is great, and the acoustic moments that pervade a number of the songs is another string in their bow. The black metal elements are harsh but not overly necro, and Solacide follow more of a Gothenburg direction sometimes. The gloomy soar of ‘The Maze’ is one of my personal highlights, as is the slow burning penultimate track ‘Grey’. There’s some rampant Dissection worship in some of these riffs, and a pervasive melancholy lurks in tracks like ‘The Maze’ and ‘The Finish Line’ itself is a potent piece of art.

The graceful title track brings to a close an album of soaring highs and savage lows. Where soaring progressive melody meets nasty black metal primitivism is where Solacide reside; gloomy majesty of the darkness. If you can fit great clean vocal parts into a powerful, black metal album then you’re alright by us.

Enthean - Priests of Annihilation

Before I get into this review proper, I just want to say that I can be turned off or on to an album by its artwork, and I totally dug Enthean’s debut album cover as soon as I saw it. I mean, look how gloriously apocalyptic that is? Its like if you crossed ‘From Beyond’, ‘Non Serviam’ and ‘Failures for Gods’ into one epic piece! South Carolinians Enthean’s debut record ‘Priests of Annihilation’ is out 20th May through their bandcamp.

Opener ‘1064’ is a pretty good example of what Enthean’s sound is like. They are grandiose, progressive black metallers, with more than a nod in places to the symphonic elements of Dimmu Borgir, but with a much more savage streak in them. Their guitar work is razor sharp, and at times their black metal is quite Immortal-esque. They have some nice technical moments, like in the spiralling ‘Before You, I Am’ or the fretwork fireworks of ‘Dysthnasia, where you’re left in awe of the musicianship on display.

At times, Enthean feel almost like tech death, if it wasn’t for the pervasisve black metal atmosphere that seeps into each track. ‘Ekpyrosis’ is a particularly death metal track, with a nasty vocal performance. For a debut record, ‘Priests of Annihilation’ is remarkably mature, well written and the production is great. The ferocious ‘Behold the Primordial’ is probably my favourite track on a record that never fails to amaze with its musical superiority. Enthean need to be watched, because this record is the future of extreme metal in all its forms. Stunning.


US black metallers Gestalt have unleashed their debut EP, ‘Infinite Regress’, earlier this year in anticipation of a full length debut sometime in the near future. Their particular brand of black metal is harsh but contains many progressive elements that make them an intriguing proposition.

Opener ‘Breach of Eden’ is full of strange effects while a harsh black metal atmosphere takes over the song. Laser beams of keyboard slice through the icy riffage and it sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Gestalt are very much aware of the nuances required to make black metal that is interesting these days, without falling into the traps of what is fashionable at that time. It jerks and spasms with careless abandon, but beating inside there is a cold, black metal heart.

‘Atavisim’ is a bit more straightforward, with blastbeats and snarling vocals accompanying jarring riffs. Gestalt’s progressive streak comes more to the fore in the expansive fury of ‘Tathata’, with its wandering bassline and invigorating leads. Gestalt create black metal that is a little different from your standard corpse painted horde, with atonal tremolo riffs clashing in evil harmony. It brings to mind latter period Emperor with its adventurous melodies and disdain for regular time signatures or riff patterns, particularly ‘Wade in Toil’.

‘Infinite Regress’ is an adventurous, progressive EP, showcasing a band that is doing something fresh in black metal. Invoking the spirit of ‘IX Equilbrium’ Emperor gets all the thumbs up from me, and Gestalt look like they are definitely going to be worth watching.

Richmond, Virginia’s own Bearstorm (cracking name) have given us their first record on Grimoire Records entitled ‘Americanus’. A rollercoaster of prog and blackened death metal fury, ‘Americanus’ is looking like being one of 2015’s most challenging albums.

Opener and longest track, ‘Glacial Relic\Riparian Forest’ flows from the speakers like the bastard child of Mastodon and Enslaved. The musicianship is top notch, each convuluted segment meshing perfectly with the next into a joyous orgasm of dissonant melodies. This channels the spirit of progressive music beautifully, almost like if Enslaved had grown up in the Deep South rather than the frozen North. There’s a sense of freedom here, a flowing crash of thunder here and there when a death metal crush arrives amid spiralling guitar lines, and a rasping vocal adds that hint of blackness. Your first eleven minutes are spent wondering how Bearstorm will top THAT.

‘De Soto’ is more death metal than the previous track, a lot heavier with a more defined style. But that doesn’t stop it aping the crush prog doom of Mastodon’s ‘Leviathan’ in parts, particularly the octopus-like drumming. Ending with a ghostly, mountain acoustic moment belies a definite country backbone lurking with this beast somewhere. ‘Little Portals to the Greater Sadness’ opens with one of the best Clutch jams that they never wrote before barrelling off into a lost Southern sludgey b-side. ‘Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ is a choppy, blackened death romp with an insanely catchy main riff. Bearstorm suck me in with every track, each Mastodonism is perfectly meshed with more extreme moments to create something rather special.

Bearstorm’s ‘Americanus’ is like a glacial relic. It is like a young black/death metal band came across Mastodon’s uber riff/jagged melodies formula in 2004 and said, ‘this is what we want to do’. ‘Americanus’ is glorious in its adventurous spirit, raw in its delivery and full of great music. This is a band that are gonna be huge