Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Blind Monarch - What Is Imposed Must Be Endured

The titanic sludge doom of British misery artists Blind Monarch has finally seen the light of day earlier this year through Black Bow Records, and ‘What is Imposed Must Be Endured’ is four tracks and almost an hour of crumbling, ruinous music.

Opener ‘Suffering Breathes My Name’ seeps, drips, crawls into view; a mesmerising magma flow of earth wrenching riffs and tar gargling roars. A funereal pace lurches the song forward, with huge Winter style riffs being accompanied by the kind of nihilistic scream you’d find in NOLA’s finest. The quiet moments of ‘My Mother, My Cradle, My Tomb’ are almost as terrifying as the rest, the band’s eponymous track drags us to the cold edge of cosmic oblivion where closer ‘Living Altar’, gently prepares us what is to be endured. Which happens around the four minute mark and your sacrificial casting into the void marks the beginning of the end of this mammoth paean to darkness.

Blind Monarch’s vast, crushing doom would be a fitting epitaph to the end of this world. ‘What is Imposed Must Be Endured’ is the kind of record that comes along rarely; one that plays with emotional heft as well as the weight of its riffs. Blind Monarch are superb, and if this world doesn’t collapse under its own self destruction, please may we have more of this?!


Skyclad wayward.jpg

After I don’t know how many years of not owning this record, I finally got a hold of a copy of the first (?) ever folk metal record from British heroes Skyclad. ‘The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth’ is a genre defining and iconic record, and may have never been bettered by the hundreds of bands it spawned. I picked up the 2017 deluxe release, and after 18 years, does it still give the same chills?

Simply, yes. ‘The Sky Beneath My Feet’ immediately buries itself deep into your memory, with the influences of their lineage from Sabbat and Satan coming through strongly. Ostensibly a British thrash record, what would germinate into folk metal begins to show face in the now famous ‘The Widdershins Jig’, but the galloping heavy metal of ‘Trance Dance (A Dreamtime Walkabout)’ burns with Martin Walkyier’s snarl. Even if it hadn’t birthed folk metal, Skyclad would have at minimum added another classic to the uneven lineage of British thrash. The killer ‘Our Dying Island’ is my favourite, but it is pushed very close by ‘Cradle Will Fall’. ‘The Widdershins Jig’ is the iconic folk metal seed, but as much credit can go to ‘Moongleam and Meadowsweet’ as well for its acoustic folk laden melodies.

On the face of it, the actual ‘folk metal’ credentials of ‘Wayward Sons of Mother Earth’ are mostly limited to the one or two songs, the cover and the legacy it began. The likes of ‘The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea’ and ‘Jonah’s Ark’ definitely embraced the folk more, but you would be a fool to discount what this record means. The source of an embryonic idea, but also one of the finest and quirkiest thrash records to escape from this isle.

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.