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.
Steve Von Till’s reputation precedes him. In addition to being a long-serving member of post-metal visionaries Neurosis, he has been releasing solo material for the past two decades. In 2020 Von Till released No Wilderness Deep Enough (Neurot Recordings), which marked something of a departure from his usual guitar-based, folk-influenced solo singer-songwriter material.
Infinity Shred‘s Forever, A Fast Life (3DOT Recordings) is like if Health had their own interpretation of Deafheaven‘s Sunbather. Yeah, I never thought I’d type out a such a sentence and half of the readers have probably walked away at this point but hear me out. Again, imagine Sunbather, but only strip away George Clarke‘s corrosive vocals and replace them with copious amounts of synths. Again, not the best sentence to describe Infinity Shred, so I’m going to need you to put on some headphones and take this thing for a test drive.Continue reading →
In the decade since Djent first hit the scene boasting algebraic riffs, yet also throwing back to the likes of Tangerine Dream’s spell-binding atmosphere. With Meshuggah being the catalyst and the lead that many of the scenes alumni would take inspiration, at the outset, it was a thriving community of bands and their ravenous fans.Continue reading →
Weirds is not a heavy band. Or not heavy in the way that I’m accustomed to when reviewing God Dethroned or Suffocation. But on their début album, Swarmculture (Alcopop!) there is certainly traceable amounts of Hard Rock in Weirds’ diet. There’s also an abundance of post-Punk, synths, and even a dash of Blues in their musical makeup. Is this a case of too many cooks in studio?Continue reading →
Given Britain’s tendency to produce eccentrics, the emergence of Leeds troupe A Forest of Stars in 2007 may have caused a few heads to turn, but their glorious weirdness, even in a scene as narrow and regimented as black metal, has always worked to their advantage. Existing in their own interpretation of Victorian England where decadence, occult magick and narcotic experimentation reigned supreme, the septet’s three previous albums were all well received, with plaudits given for their enthralling storytelling and atmosphere as well as explorations into psychedelic territory and pastoral folk amid the crushing black metal dynamics. Further accolades look set to follow, for fourth effort Beware the Sword You Cannot See (Lupus Lounge/Prophecy) is an unabashed masterpiece.
With a concept heavily focused on death and rebirth, this is the album that shows A Forest of Stars transcending the rigid parameters of their earthly shackles and soaring off into the unknown with aplomb. The thunderous tremolo picking and double-bass assault evident on tracks such as ‘A Blaze of Hammers’ leaves the listener in no doubt that the band aren’t going to do an Opeth on us, but it’s the surging progressive flourishes and sense of ambition that makes this such a special listening experience, as demonstrated by the ascending chords and lush female vocals courtesy of violinist Kathryne Queen of the Ghosts on the magnificent album opener ‘Drawing Down the Rain.’ Speaking of ambition, the six part odyssey that is ‘Pawn on the Universal Chessboard’ which comprises the latter half of the album is mind-boggling in scope, ranging from spacy Tangerine Dream style synths on ‘Mindslide’, masterful dark prog on ‘Have You Got a Light, Boy?’ to pummelling black metal orthodoxy on ‘Lowly Worm.’
Special mention must go to vocalist Mr Curse for a truly astonishing performance where he shrieks, yelps and dips heavily into theatrical spoken word delivery to tell the story of the album, producing some fantastic lyrics (“Fuck you and the worms you rode in on!”) and acting as demonic ringleader to this spectacular carnival of unearthly delights. It may be too early to call A Forest of Stars the British answer to Enslaved but if they keep on producing records as excellent as this then their status will be in no doubt.
Early contender for one of the albums of the year.
How Mariusz Duda finds any spare time is a complete mystery. Not only the vocalist for Polish prog behemoths Riverside, Duda simultaneously has steered his own solo outings under the moniker of Lunatic Soul through alternate sonic landscapes. Despite most assuredly earning some downtime after the former’s most successful year, Lunatic Soul now return on yet another direction.
In stark contrast to Riverside’s previous album Shrine Of New Generation Slaves (InsideOut) and its more overt signs of 70’s rock worship, Walking On A Flashlight Beam (KScope) virtually eschews all remnants of guitars from its palette, relying instead of ambient electronica and synths, with drums and bass. Both bands may still be tied in their sense of mood and melancholy, and of course the shared talents of Duda’s distinctive and delicate tones, but otherwise they veer to different paths.
Opener ‘Shutting Out The Sun’ begins in an unassuming manner, with the sounds of light, crashing waves before it builds upon layers of effects and synths, shaping to an altogether more crowded form. WOAFB sees Duda really open up in creativity, from the almost tribal drum beats on ‘Gutter’ to the Eastern tinged melodies within ‘Pygmalion’s Ladder’, all still maintaining the album’s wispy atmosphere. Of course the star is without doubt Duda’s voice which conveys an almost unmatched sense of fragility and emotion in modern prog.
Whereas Riverside’s last venture saw the influence of the likes of Deep Purple, WOAFB draws a lot more from the likes of Tangerine Dream, both in its synth based structure and also in its ambience and inventiveness. Showcasing in its beauty a plethora of ideas which may be in some ways far removed from the more famous of Duda’s bands yet not alienating to its fans, WOAFB is evidence enough of Duda’s claim as one of modern prog’s great minds.