Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 albums you might be missing out


I first came across to these young Faroese band when they were warming Moonsorrow a couple of years ago on their European tour. The fact that they originate from island group and archipelago under the sovereignty of Kingdom of Denmark with population less than 50,000 people instantly grabbed my attention. Located in the middle of nowhere between Norwegian Sea and The North Atlantic Ocean, metal is not served much on the menu: Týr and Heljareyga are the only two other Faroese metal bands I know. 

I knew I just had to get my hands on their 2010 EP Vilst er Síðsta Fet and after some googling I finally found it from their Faroese label, Tutl records and it has been spinning on my power play list ever since. The EP consists of four great songs and served as a stormwarning for things to come. Vráin and At Enda are my favorites from this EP. Check out the the stunning performance from a special gig in church here. I was more than happy to learn that in 2012 when they won the Wacken Metal Battle bringing them on the spotlight and gaining more acknowledgement and popularity.

Evst (translated Highest) is an emotional, melodic and sorrowful doom journey. First thing you might notice the guitar sound is similar to the latest Swallow The Sun tone: melodic, soft and clear. The death doom atmosphere is carried out masterfully throughout the album. I still cannot believe Evst is their debut album: the songwriting is versatile, songs are filled with despair and emotions. Although the songs are usually more than six minutes long, there is not a dull moment. Especially vocalist Jón Hansen shines throughout the record. Just listen to tracks like Deydir Vardar or Vid Teimum Kvirru Gráu: the pure emotion and dedication in his clean vocals are heart-ripping and beautiful. You sit in complete awe totally believing everything he sings. He can switch seamlessly to deep growls too and the transition works beautifully. The six-member band performs solidly on this album and the production is clear and powerful fitting the overall atmosphere nicely. Six epic songs clocking in just under fifty minutes, the duration is perfect. You want to push play again when it is over.

The album has been released in Faroe Islands already and you can order the EP + debut album package in Finland through this link. I have been devouring his album for three days now only, but I have a strong feeling this is definitely making my TOP 5 list this year.

Preview the title track Evst here.

Àrsaidh: Roots

Andy Marshall is a young and talented Scottish musician. He has been performing in Askival, In Vino Veritas and Falloch but is now focusing solely on Saor (yes, the band changed its name to it.). It is no secret that lately I have developed an undying passion for epic atmospheric black metal, add a hint of folk elements and you got me. Roots has those elements all over the place: three long, epic tracks all well over 10 minute mark plus one interlude. I only had to listen to the opening track for about five minutes and I knew I am going to be playing this album a lot. 

For some reason this album hits my sweet spot hard on personal level. What I absolutely love about this album is how the song have been totally liberated from any constraints, this is one of the highlights with underground music and labels: they don't push to follow some certain model. Writing songs more than ten minutes long isn't for everybody, so the artistic freedom needs to be harnessed to still serve its purpose. The songs take some four to five minutes before the vocals kicks in. The vocals have been pushed back to accompany the overall atmosphere and to me the folky arrangements with thin whistles is fitting. All three songs are equally strong, but if I had to choose one, it would be the closer Highland Lament. This is where the folk elements and music contemplate beautifully together and although it is close to twenty minutes long it keeps your attention fully.

The only complaint about this album is that the vocals can sound a bit monotonic at times, but considering the total package I still find it fitting. The folk elements have been well composed and the atmosphere is where Mr. Marshall nails it and brings the album home. I feel like standing alone in the foggy meadows of Scotland, holding my battle axe high: thou.shall.not.pass! This is one the absolute highlights of this year and Saor is getting ready to unleash a new record later next year. All good things come to those who wait.

The whole album is streaming here on their Bandcamp page. Support this young musician and buy your copy today!

Progenie Terrestre Pura: U.M.A.

Fancy some atmospheric space black metal from Italy? Look no further, Progenie Terrestre Pura is here! U.M.A. stands for Uomini, Macchine, Anime (Men, Machines, Souls) and it describes the album perfectly: a mix of machine driven beats and spacey, vigorous black metal riffs. You could compare this two-man duo loosely to Blut Aus Nord, but their sound is more synth driven and a bit lighter. I found these guys by accident a few years ago as I stumbled across their Promo 2011. Both of these songs made its way finally to the album, but since they both shine quality I am not complaining here.

This album is filled with lengthy passages of great riffs and synth driven space like sounds and samples. At first I didn't quite know what to think of them: they were not black metal enough due to heavy use of electronics but then again they were not too electronic to totally sway away from metal. I found myself returning to the album nonetheless, so I knew I needed to pick up this album and give credit where it is due. There are five arrangements to choose form, one of which is instrumental. There are plenty of room for the songs to grow and breathe. My favorites are Sinapsi Divelte and Droni, but all the tracks presented are strong and hold their place on this album. All lyrics are sung in Italian, so I cannot tell you what is going on but as far I understand the lyrical themes are humanity, machines, sci-fi and space.

Production wise the programmed drums sound a bit too soft some places, but considering the complete atmosphere and arrangements with electronics and guitar the package holds its form. What makes this album interesting is the fact that Eon(0) and Nex(1) have succeed in creating some kind of hybrid of electronic space black metal and the odd combination is a winner in my books. I am really looking forward to see what these guys have to offer in the future.

Stream the album here and support if you like!

The Fall Of Every Season: Amends

Marius Strand is the mastermind behind this one-man project called The Fall Of Every Season. It has only released two albums so far: 2007 From Below and now the sophomore effort Amends. However, what the albums lack in quantity, they make up in quality! Amends has been six years in the making, so he really doesn't push (doesn't need to?) himself with deadlines. Creativity is a tricky thing and luckily it clearly shows here that with given time and consideration the output is really well thought. Whether the slow pace was intentional or not, this approach has produced one of the finest doom albums this year.

Amends has only four long and epic songs plus one interlude. Mr. Strand is multi-instrumentalist so all instruments on the album are played by him personally. That is an instant win and I have to give a huge thumbs up on that. He displays both clean and harsh vocals and can create interesting and melodic arrangements to support his instrumental talents. The album is consistent, the production is clear and powerful and atmosphere melodic and sorrowful. 

This album is strongly recommended for any fan of doom metal.