Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 albums that may have slipped your fingertips part IV

Skagos: Anarchic

Skagos hails from Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada and have been active a little more than half a decade now. Anarchic is the band's sophomore album and was released in February on Eternal Warfare. Skagos plays atmospheric black/folk metal where the emphasis is on creating long, epic song filled with various tempo changes, interludes and passages using clean and harsh vocals. That is really nothing extraordinary, but as soon as I press play, there is something different about these guys. Their sound reflects the lyrical themes: atavism, mythic beings and shamanism, beautifully. The band stands on defence of native people rights and its cultural traditions. Somehow it all makes sense as it feels almost that you are witnessing or taking part in mystical ritual somewhere in the woods far away over the foggy mountain tops.

Anarchic is made up of seven movements each labelled in Roman numerals from I to VII:
Movement I: The Darkling Plain (Hic Rhodes!)
Movement II: Wétiko - Cannibalism
Movement III: Await; Dawnrise
Movement IV: Spring Speaks Truth
Movement V: Corvidae
Movement VI: Entropy
Movement VII: Feral Dawn
The version I have bought from the Bandcamp is divided into three tracks: Anarchic I-III, Anarchic IV-V and Anarchic VI-VII. The total playing time of the album is more than 66 minutes, so these guys create full experience slowly but firmly where the tracks move from one emotion to another. 

The biggest strength these guys have is the sophisticated taste in building the atmosphere inside the songs taking the emotions from soft, acoustic passages to fierce and relentless black metal drumming and riffing without losing focus. As the songs last from 18 minutes to more than 23 minutes, these guys demand your full attention but when you get on board, the reward is juicy, harmonious and versatile. I look forward to what they have to offer in the future, cause they are probably one the most intriguing bands out there.

Listen and support here:

Deos: Fortitude.Pain.Suffering

Deos was formed in London, England only this year. The line-up consists of multi-instrumentalist Daniel (Colosus, Eye Of Solitude and God Eat God), vocalist Déhà and guitarist Alex. The band is currently unsigned, but I am guessing the record deal is just around the corner as Fortitude.Pain.Suffering is a storm warning from this young band. On Bandcamp it says the album is dedicated to Anita Nicoleta (1969-2013), but unfortunately I could not find the story behind this. Obviously they have lost probably a family member, a wife or a girlfriend and this could be their way of saying farewell making it very personal.

Deos play slow, melancholic and depressive funeral doom. Although the song are really depressive and sorrowful, somehow I find it soothing and strength giving. This could be the band's way to release their grief and loss in a time of distress and despair. I am pretty new to the funeral doom scene in general and as I am quite emotional and soft inside, I tend not to focus on depressive doom only. With my vivid imagination and urge to google everything, I sometimes just want to leave things as they are. This way they don't follow me into my dreams. The album doesn't suck the life out of you, but the melodic and wailing guitar and the sorrowful atmosphere combined with deep growls sucks the light out of the room where you listen it. I can recommend this album to all metalheads who need to let go of some scarring memory or are grieving the loss of a person dear to him/her. There is light at the end of tunnel, but it needs time and space to get there.

Stream the album here and support this great band:

The Howling Void: Nightfall

The Howling Void was formed in San Antonio, Texas back in 2007 and Nightfall is the band's fourth full length on Russian label Solitude Productions. The Howling Void is the sole vision of the mastermind Ryan (all instruments & vocals) and the sound is symphonic/funeral doom. The previous albums had deep growls, but Ryan informed on Facebook before launching the new album that his vision on The Howling Void's future has been changed and all the growls will be abolished. The critique started immediately as a change is always intimidating for the fans, especially when you let go of some of the trademarks in the band. Luckily the first single, In Subterranean Temples, proved me immediately that the evolution was necessary and things are moving to the right direction. I am easy going and could have easily enjoyed the growls too, but The Howling Void now differentiates from the mass, which is always a good thing. Then again I cannot say whether this was Ryan's ultimate goal or not.

Nightfall is a beautiful, gloomy and symphonic trip through time and death. There are six songs on the album and the entire playing time is a little more than an hour. The atmosphere is built on eerie, haunting keyboards and melodic guitar passages and subtle drums and vocals. The songs are very airy and mysterious making the album easily accessible. However, there is plenty of room for the songs to breathe keeping it interesting and intriguing. One thing I need to add: the atmosphere created using the keyboards remind me of Laura Palmer's theme from Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti. Don't get me wrong, I loved Laura Palmer's theme and I love the sound on this album. Somehow I just cannot help myself imaging walking in the foggy forest, smelling the pine trees in the air, being afraid what I am about to find on the shore. Music should take you to places and play with your imagination, otherwise you get bored very quickly.

Stream and buy the album below:

Sadhaka: Terma

Sadhaka was formed in 2012 and Terma is their debul album on Pest Productions. The line-up consists of musicians from Fauna, Vradiazei and Disemballerina among others. I had no idea what this band would sound like, but once again reading Pest Productions newsletter convinced me I need to check them out.

Sadhaka plays Cascadian style atmospheric black metal and the songs are long and epic. You can tell the difference in vocals this time as they are not growling more desperate, passionate and raw. The structure of the songs varies from one mood to another and sometimes it takes several minutes to get the ball moving, However, reaching the top cruising speed ultimate gives you fast drumming and riffing before things slow down again or take a break. Writing long epic songs, songs that break the ten minute barrier, require skill and talent in keeping all the parts together. It is obviously a trademark thing nowadays, as I cannot recall any Cascadian black metal bands with radio friendly three to four minute songs. You want to know why? My guess it that they don't except them to hit radio waves, but then again I could be completely wrong as I don't really listen to the radio.

Sadhaka is a worthy purchase in your Cascadian black metal collection. There are many these so called supergroups or collaborations nowadays and they don't necessarily work out. These guys are in it to win it.

Stream and buy a your digital copy here:

Thy Light: No Morrow Shall Dawn

Pest Productions really knows how to pull my strings as Thy Light is another purchase on Bandcamp solely based on their monthly email newsletter. Fancy depressive black metal from Brazil? Me? Why not, give it to me!

No Morrow Shall Dawn is the debut album from Thy Light six years after their highly acclaimed demo Suici.De.Pression (gotta love the wordplay). We are not moving towards lighter lyrics or more joyful sounds, but what Paulo Bruno (instruments & vocals) delivers here is pretty decent and enjoyable doom. The sound is typical for the genre: slow, synth driven song and agonizing, subdued vocals. The biggest complaint I have read about the album is that the fans think the guitar sound is too soft or even commercial, but for me it suits fine, actually some guitar parts are played really masterfully. Another thing I need to highlight that the opening track Suici.De.spair: it sets the moods perfectly.

The title track features guest performance from Tim Yatras (Germ, Ilium and Blackened Angel) and it needs to be mentioned here, cause I simply adore all projects where he is involved. All in all the album builds up nicely and has some memorable highlights, but returning to it from time to time leaves me wanting for something more. I can't really put my finger on it, but I would like some compositions to have more variations and texture. Nonetheless, the album ends on a high note with absolutely crushing The Bridge making this album worth mentioning.

Stream and make up your mind here:

Lychgate: Lychgate

Lychgate is another supergroup formed in Cambridge in 2012 featuring Greg Chandler (Esoteric), Aran (ex-Lunar Aurora), Vortigern (The One) and T.J.F. Vallely (Omega Centauri). Especially Mr. Chandler caught my attention immediately as Esoteric's latest album Paragon Of Dissonance made my TOP 20 list back in 2011. Moreover, there was a lot of hassle regarding Aran joining the ranks as Lunar Aurora called it quits back in 2012 after the mighty Hoagascht which ended on many year-end lists.

The expectations were high for this group and the result is very good, but not legendary. You can feel here and there are still some parts that need some fine-tuning, but make no mistake: Lychgate has already capacity to kill and destroy. It seems that this is one of most albums that only seem to get better with each play. What is positive about the band is that it has been able to create its own sound, which might not be easy as the maneuvers run skin deep if you have been active in metal for two decades already. 

Lychgate's sound could be described as keyboard driven haunting black metal topped with Mr. Chandler trademark vocals and epic drumming. On songs like Against The Paradoxical Guild and Dust Of A Gun Barrel Lychgate is able to reveal its full potential and shine, proving this collaboration needs to continue. I have high hopes for this band as this release leaves me wanting for more. 

Stream three songs here: