Posts Tagged ‘UK’

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.


British black metallers Aklash approach their craft with a grandiose spirit and a lack of respect for the classic black and white aesthetic of the genre. Look at that album art, it’s a wonderful cavalcade of colour, that rather suits their broad palette of musical talent. ‘Where the Ocean Meets the Sky’ is out now through their Bandcamp.

‘Cascading Darkness’ pours from the speakers like a rush of icy water, riffs flowing between blastbeating rocks and overlaid with a misted haze of at once clean and then raw vocals. The deft switches between cleaner vocals and the more savage ones is well done, and feels natural. It gives the record a natural tinge of folk metal to it as well as black. There is a vast scope to the epic ‘All Noble Deeds Are Touched With Melancholy’, casting an ethereal mist upon a mid paced black metal odyssey that continues throughout the three part title track. There’s more than a dash of the psychedelic nature of The Meads of Asphodel in places that helps them stand out from the crowd too. That part three of the title track by the way; a defining take on the term tour de force.

‘Where the Ocean Meets the Sky’ is a wonderful record that has a really expansive take on black metal, and allows all facets of raw, atmospheric and sometimes a little weird come out to play. Harsh and uncompromising at times, delicate and introspective at others, Aklash are a complete package.

Crawling for Carrion - Rake and Roads Artwork.jpg

Crawling for Carrion are a UK based sludge project, and their debut release is a two track EP made of covers. ‘Rake and Roads’ reintreprets ‘Rake’ by Townes Van Zandt and ‘Roads’ by Portishead, attempting to draw out the innate heaviness of them both. It is out now through Giganto Records, owned by the brainchild behind this project, multi-instrumentalist Chris West.

Now, these are two songs I have never heard, so I’m interested in what Crawling for Carrion do here. ‘Rake’ is a rumbling, soulful beast with a gravelly, crooning vocal performance from guest Jake Harding of Grave Lines. While not as heavy as I had anticipated, there is something really magical and uplifting about these poetic lyrics winding its way. The sinister layer of murk surrounding ‘Roads however feels much more in line with what you’d expect Portishead to sound like, slid through sludgy filters. Grinding riffs murmur under a ghostly performance by Vodun vocalist Chantal Brown, making this a very ethereal moment.

I like how Crawling for Carrion have done these tracks, and how they’ve worked hard in not only reimagining the originals but adding enough to create something new and interesting. ‘Roads’ is the better of the two, but this is a fine little release that is worth looking out for.

British sludge doom band Kurokuma are dropping a new EP called ‘Dope Rider’, based on a 1970s strip called Dope Rider in High Times magazine. That, sadly meant nothing to me, but after listening to this, I’m definitely going to check it out. I reviewed their last EP, ‘Advorsus’ here, and this is a good follow up.

Part 1 is a rumbling slab of sludgey doom, with more than a touch of classic Godflesh nihilism. The vocals switch from a throaty roar to a raspy scream, while a massive Crowbar riff groans and grinds through the middle. It has the same dense, smothering feeling that ‘Advorsus’ had in spades, but there is an addition of an almost hypnotic, psychedelic drone to it as well. Relaying the tales of a skeletal stoner cowboy through the medium of hazy, riff powered doom is probably the most apt meeting of minds in history. Part 2 is based on one of the original tales, and is a great slab of sonic assault, lumbering through smoke filled canyons.

‘Dope Rider’ is a great two track EP, and while I’d love to see this expanded into a full concept record, Kurokuma continue to build their reputation on the live circuit and give us just a taste of what is to come through these shorter releases. Get this now!

Plague Rider - Rhizome

Newcastle’s Plague Rider have been a consistent force of excellent death metal vomiting forth from the North East of England, and their new EP follows up 2015’s killer ‘Paroxysm’ EP, which I reviewed here. ‘Rhizome’ is the latest burst of ungodly greatness from these fine lads, and it is out now through Panurus Productions.

‘Rhizome’ basically takes you down a similar path as ‘Paroxysm’, as in it is four tracks of death metal that is constantly straining against the boundaries of the genre. Opener ‘Challenger’s Lecture’ brings forth massive Immolation style heaviness, with the kind of unusual, dynamic song structures as Portal or Mitochrondrian. It never quite delves totally off the grid like those guys, but stabbing riffs sprout from strange, labyrinthine sections. Imagine that inhuman bend in ‘God of Emptiness’, taken to its endless, darkest conclusion and you’ll be on the way. Gargling, roaring madness follows in the vocals, and the whole piece starts to sound torturously insane.

Fuck it’s refreshing to be faced with a band that aren’t just being old fashioned DEATH or bestial black death at the moment. ‘Stagnation Cult’ writhes and thrashes as if stricken with painful poisons. ‘Toil’ serves as the delightfully brutal starter to crushing main course ‘Without Organs’, a twisting and otherworldly tour de force. It has strange, atonal melodies, grindcore crazyness, death/doom crush and guttural belches. If this isn’t the best and most unique death metal record I hear this year, then I’ve got a doozy coming. These guys need to be huge now.

British one woman atmospheric black metaller YYLVA’s debut full length, ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ is due to drop in September, and is the brainchild of Clare Webster, best known for her work with gothic doom gems Edenfall. Evocative, windswept and epic on every scale, follow YYLVA back to a time of mysteries and mist.

Hiding beneath that glorious, ethereal artwork is a record that oozes atmospheric grace. Key to this poised and haunting record is the mastery of the harp, first draping itself across the ghostly ‘A Foreshadowing’, and wielded like a gossamer rapier throughout. It infuses the music with a misty, ancient Celtic vibe that fits well with the aesthetics. ‘A Sidhe in Throes’ drifts like forgotten voices in bleak forests; soaring vocals weave within blastbeats and harsh riffing. Tarja-era Nightwish is clearly a strong influence here, as is the howl of ethereal black metal like Saor or Panopticon.

‘Nepenthe’ has an excellent gothic doom heft about it, bleeding over from Edenfall, while ‘Aurorae’ is the piece de resistance in a record that never fails to affect you deeply. Again the gentle harp in ‘Waterwings’ is mesmerising, and provides a gentle escape from the more lengthy tracks. Nothing here feels overwrought however; no song is long for the sake of being long. In fact, with two tracks over 11 minutes and two that are almost nine, ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ flies in. I scarcely believed it was over when the tinkling close of ‘NiĆ«nor’ came.

‘The Wood Beyond the World’ is a record balanced on the edge of fragility; a delicate and beautiful collection of songs hovering above a churning abyss of black metal. Never quite descending to complete blackness, but never too light and airy, YYLVA conjures views of olden forests, snow drifting through ancient clearings, and a slowing blackening sky.

Bodies on Everest - A National Day of Mourning

British noise/sludge/drone enthusiasts Bodies on Everest have released this… this monstrous beast called ‘A National Day of Mourning. An abrasive mix of noise, drone and miserable sludge all compacted into one, it plows a new furrow in the search for extreme music’s farthest reaches. It is out now through Third I Rex Records.

Opener ‘Unreleaseddeathvideo.flac’ hums ominously, building towards a crumbling, cacophonous conclusion. Imagine what the opening of Hell might sound like, and you’re close. Apocalyptic samples float amongst the crackling feedback, while a clutching hand reaches fpr a thread of your psyche, ready to unravel it as the oppressive ‘Tally of Sevens’ crawls on. Imagine the blackened drone of Sunn0)))) melting into the most choking of Godflesh’s works and you’d be close. Imagine the rumble of Conan but filtered through tar and a black hole. Imagine Killing Joke and Iron Monkey make a record together, and you’d get the insistent nihilism of ‘Suspicious Canoe’.

Keep imagining, but you’ll never quite get close enough to really classify this aural miasma. The awesome crush of ‘Tally of Sevens’, the sinister storytelling of the monolith ‘Gold Fangs in Enemy Territory’, the ‘man in a robot insane asylum’ creeps of ‘Shotgun or Sidearm’; this is a record like nothing you’ve ever experienced. By the end of the mind crippling closer ‘Who Killed Yale Gracey’, you’ll never be the same. You will, however, be reaching for the play button just one… more… time…