Since the music of Baroness has been unlike any other band to me, and more akin to a spiritual experience since I first got into them in 2007, I set the mood for myself before listening. I turned the lights down low, cracked the window open to get a nice breeze going, and heard the sound of large late summer raindrops filling my ears. The city’s heartbeat in the deep background was the only other sound besides my breathing. I just stared at the new album artwork for five straight minutes. At peace for a change, in the still and calm of myself, and by chance, present in the city of my birth for a few days, I hit play on the promo and then let the first notes hit me.
On Troll (By Norse Music) Drott draws from Scandinavian folklore to create a soundtrack for the listener to inhabit a dank, murky forest, with the eponymous troll close enough that you can smell it, delivered via dark, slightly campy electronic rock soundscapes that would feel totally in place in a (not too scary) fantasy/ horror movie. Continue reading →
There is a rich tradition of Doom musicians releasing stripped-back acoustic affairs as the likes of Scott Weinrich, Tony Reed, and Mike Scheidt can attest to. Windhand‘s Dorthia Cottrell is no exception and Death Folk Country (Relapse Records) marks her second solo effort to date following a self-titled debut in 2015.
Wederkeer (Napalm Records) is the seventh album from Dutch folk metal outfit Heidevolk. The record’s title means “return” or “revive”, and indeed the accompanying press release pitches Wederkeer’s “bombastic folk and pagan metal” as Heidevolk’s “glorious return”.
There’s a slow, mournful funeral march coming through the mists, on a still silent plain, on The Buried Storm (Prophecy Productions), the latest release by Darkher. Led by multi-instrumentalist Jayn Maiven, the album at times bears a resemblance to Neurosis or Triptykon at their most quiet and reflective. With each song centred around the vocal layering of Maiven, the instrumentation often stripped to cello and violin backing, it’s an evocative and understated musical landscape. Often bringing to mind Bat For Lashes, one that sings her siren song with a doom folk backing, this is soothing music for people who like it dark.
Emma Ruth Rundle – Orpheus Looking Back (Sargent House)
On the back of 2021’s exceptional Engine of Hell release, melancholic song-writer extraordinaire Emma Ruth Rundle cannot resist but cast one last longing look over her shoulder at the material prepared, written, and relating to that period, which included the break-up of a significant relationship – the subject of her previous, delicate, powerful full-length.
Consisting of three songs, each different in sound and style that didn’t completely fit with the dynamic of Engine…, Orpheus Looking Back nonetheless brings beauty in its wistful minimalism. ‘Gilded Cage’ is a strummed acoustic piece, ‘Pump Organ Song’ a spontaneous creation during the recording sessions on, well, a pump organ, while ‘St. Non’ is a breathy, guitar / vocal reflection.
While the format is less immersive than the previous full-length, Orpheus… is further example of Rundle’s class as a song-writer and ability to transfer emotion to bare music.
7 / 10
Emily Jane White – Alluvion (Talitres)
Taking a fuller approach to production, singer-songwriter Emily Jane White is reflecting on loss, grief and the impact of recent events on Alluvion, her downbeat and reflective sixth album.
Coaxing a gothic beauty to the underlying synths and minimal instrumentation, there is something of a gentle electro-pop feel to tracks like ‘Show Me The War’ and ‘The Hands Above Me’, a song that introduces subtle guitar peals and swells, and a hint of folk and shoegaze – as does the cello-backed ‘I Spent The Years Frozen’. ‘Mute Swan’ mixes in a repetitive eighties synth refrain with a comforting and underplayed vocal, and the standout track ‘Heresy’ is an ominous and effective duet with Darkher, with sparse chants recalling elements of Chelsea Wolfe.
There is plenty of scope in this reflective offering, as White’s intimate and open tones sit softly over the lush arrangements of multi-instrumentalist Anton Patzner and offer not just escape but hope amongst the darkness of our current situations.
7 / 10
Eight Bells – Legacy of Ruin (Prophecy Productions)
Patience is indeed a virtue, and good things doth verily come to those who are prepared to take their time dwelling in anticipation. It may be six years (and an overhaul of the supporting cast) since the last Eight Bells release, but the progressive, introspective vehicle of Melynda Jackson (guitars, vocals) is all the better for it. The addition of Cormorant’s Matt Solis works as a perfect counterfoil, either with harsh blackened backing vocals, or when chanting in unison with Jackson’s haunting, melancholic intonations. Solis also pops up in the spaces with as some interesting meandering bass runs, working intuitively with the atmospheres that Jackson creates.
This request for patience bears out in the individual tracks, too. Opener ‘Destroyer’ walks us through hints of progressive metal, psych, sludgy tones and touches of blackened cascades, before using a sparse guitar refrain to take us home and into the doomier, eleven-minute sprawl of ‘The Well’. Dynamically as a whole, this is further played out with the mid-album conjoined dreamy pair of ‘Torpid Dreamer’ and ‘Nadir’ combining and paying off; the former dark and doomed, with the latter bringing us through a moment of reflection to peace with its integrated dual vocals, at times reminiscent of a heavier Fleet Foxes – a feeling which is continued into ‘The Crone’, before the blackened elements of the Portland natives arsenal are unleashed.
And all of this is with the hulking presence of standout track, and album closer, ‘Premonition’ still to come; a summation of all the previous parts. Tremolo refrains scythe under a merging of howls and chants, before things settle, breathe and expand into a stately, melancholic close to moody, yet welcoming album.
8 / 10
Hangman’s Chair – A Loner (Nuclear Blast)
Tags and sub-genres, when misapplied, can be quite detrimental at times to bands. Not only are they misleading and mis-set expectations but can lead to people who would embrace and celebrate an act missing out on something that would be a perfect addition to their collection. France’s Hangman’s Chair have been labelled as Stoner and / or Doom (which in itself has a couple of different applications), yet there is nothing Desert or Weed-based here, as their sixth album A Loner continues the evolution and progression of their sound, and is a gorgeously reflective album of downbeat, shimmering Downer alternative rock, laced with moments of shoegaze.
Where there is anything sludgy, it is in some of the Stephen Carpenter / Deftones style looping, rolling low-slung supporting guitar moments, such as on ‘Cold and Distant’, a track that demonstrates Hangman’s Chair have a neat line in understated chorus, too, as does ‘Second Wind’. Moreover songs such as with the aptly titled ‘Supreme’, underline a Type O Negative influence that runs throughout, building in Life of Agony melodies and moments. Cédric Toufouti deals in layered vocals and lines of harmonies to support a voice that sits perfectly floating on top of the cinematic music, at times (‘Who Wants To Die Old’) reminiscent of Kristoffer Rygg.
Atmospheric and considered, the pairing of ‘Pariah & The Plague’ – a beautiful, layered non-vocal piece of music with tinkling guitar effects and brooding electronics – and the melancholy title track sum up the strengths of this unsung album.
Sylvaine is the pseudonym of Norway’s Kathrine Shepard, a classically trained composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. Since 2014 Shepard has been releasing albums as Sylvaine, of which Nova (Season of Mist) will be the fourth (not counting a 2020 split with Unreqvited).
Ghost Cult returns to Gimme Metal hosts today as our chief, Keefy, hosts our very own “Guest DJ special!” Celebrating 9 years of www.ghostcultmag.com, He’ll bring you a two-hour show of killer tunes today, Tuesday, November 9th at 11 AM EST with our own curated playlist of awesome metal tracks from across Death Metal, Stoner Doom, Prog, Thrash, Viking, Dark Folk, Black Metal, and more! Bands on our playlist include Creeping Death, Vreid, Matriarchs, Suffocation, Melvins, and more! Sign up for FREE with the app or online, tune in and let’s goooooo! Continue reading →