Distortion and volume alone do not equate to heavy. Heaviness is the feeling these sounds invoke. Sonic alchemy can be oppressive, horrifying, depressing, creepy or somehow unsettling; Gateway finds themselves touching on all of these feelings on their new album Galgeendood (Transcending Obscurity Records). Belgium is not at the top of my list when it comes to places I might expect this kind of subterranean death doom to emerge from, but here we are. This album is the follow-up to Robert Van Oyen’s 2015 debut, under the Gateway moniker.Continue reading →
Releasing your first two records on prestigious labels such as Magnetic Eye Records and Blues Funeral isn’t the worst way to commence a career. Such is the case with Brooklyn, New York quartet Somnuri, who comprise of Justin Sherrell (guitars/vocals), Phil SanGiacomo (drums), Chris Drapeau (guitars/vocals), and bassist Mike G.
Wizard Tattoo are ostensibly a solo outfit from Indianapolis led by multi-instrumentalist Bram the Bard who released a four-track self-titled EP last year which has now been followed up with the Fables of the Damned (Self-Released) full-length debut which I currently have in my possession and am about to review.
Coming off the buzzed about ‘Nowherer’, it was interesting to speculate where Portland’s Victory Over the Sun would go next. Vivian Tylinska may have just “a girl who makes noise” on her Bandcamp bio, but that deeply undersells the scope of her enthralling work as a composer, thinker, and multi-instrumentalist.
There’s something romantic and cinematic about adopted New Jersey (via Norway) songwriter Luke Elliot’s third album, Let ‘em All Talk (Icons Creating Evil Art) over and above the wistful storytelling. ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’, all film-noir meets spaghetti western vibes with its orchestral flecks, feels torn from an as-yet-unwritten Tarrantino follow-up to Django Unchained, or perhaps the lead single to the debuting next James Bond, while ‘William Tell’ could have been one of the musical interludes from Black Mariah’s club in Luke Cage (Netflix version).
Norwegians Saint Karloff formed in 2015 and their debut full-length All Heed the Black God followed in 2018. The latest album Paleolithic War Crimes (Majestic Mountain Records) comes as something of a bittersweet release following the sad loss of bassist and founding member Ole ‘Karloff’ Sletner in 2021 (RIP). The writing for this record had started in 2019 with Ole very much on board and to quote the band ultimately, “reflects a band in transition and exploring new paths, but at the same time it retains that proper heavy Karloff-vibe.”
Much like the dense expanses of sci-fi space that their music thematically focuses upon, the UK’s Wallowing are a band of mystery. With their identities largely hidden and their physical presence in cloaked and masked outfits, Wallowing instead allow their music and their theming of darkened science fiction to be the true focus of their creative outlet.
Darling the Dawn (Constellation Records) is the debut album by long-time collaborative duo Ariel Engle (La Force, Patrick Watson, Broken Social Scene) and Efrim Manuel Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion) as ALL HANDS_MAKE LIGHT. For forty-four minutes of vocal-driven electronic droning — combining the melodic tones of Engle with the “noise” (as the credits put it) of Menuck — there’s less of a sense of being taken from A to B, but rather being given the warm blanket of a trance to lie in.
One of the many things to appreciate about Sunrot’s second full-length is the opener, ‘Descent.’
Not only is the title extremely indicative of the track – and the record, The Unfailing Rope (Prosthetic Records), as a whole – it also gets right to the point of what the New Jersey-based sludge metal/noise band is trying to achieve: uneasiness and mind play.
Stars & Embers (Avantgarde Music) is the third album from Sweden’s ISON. The project is led by Daniel Änghede, who writes and produces the music. For this release, he is joined by new full-time vocalist Lisa Cuthbert, plus guest singers Mikael Stanne, circle&wind, and Dimming.