Posts Tagged ‘Doom’

Darkness treads light as a feather. The voice of despair gently wafts through the air. Delicate pain wrapped in radiant beauty pierces the heart slowly yet without hesitation. The sinister yet beguiling images that DARKHER aka Jayn Maiven paints with her ethereal vocals, guitars, and added strings conjure iridescent cinematic scenes in which it becomes hard to tell whether there lies beauty in darkness or if it is the other way around.

With her sophomore full-length "The Buried Storm", the guitarist, composer, lyricist, and producer has clearly succeeded to even improve the beloved alchemic musical formula that was firmly established on DARKHER’s debut album "Realms" in 2016. Her mostly eerie and at times even outright sinister sonic storytelling comes refined on every level and with sharpened contrasts that reflect the ongoing learning-process of their creator. 

DARKHER were conceived as the sole brainchild and solo-project of Northern English singer and guitarist Jayn Maiven in 2012. The dark and melancholic yet also massively heavy sound on the self-titled debut EP "Darkher" (2013) combined with the distinct vocals of the shy pre-Raphaelite beauty caused an audible buzz – particularly in the doom scene and brought DARKHER a quick record deal, which led to the following EP "The Kingdom Field" (2014) appearing via Prophecy Productions.

Despite not even having an album out, DARKHER were invited to prestigious festivals such as Roadburn in Tilburg, The Netherlands and Prophecy Fest in the Cave of Balve, where the English delivered widely celebrated performances. In 2016, the highly anticipated debut full-length "Realms" was finally released to much praise from critics and fans alike. Press compared DARKHER’s music with a wide range of highly individual acts such as CHELSEA WOLFE, ESBEN AND THE WITCH, SÓLSTAFIR, LOREENA MCKENNITT, and PORTISHEAD.

In the meantime, Jayn’s long-time drummer Christopher Smith, who already contributed to earlier releases, live shows, and again on "The Buried Storm" has been added as permanent member to the line-up of DARKHER.

"The Buried Storm" gives shape to the darkness lurking at the edge of consciousness, hidden from plain sight but patiently biding its time to strike out at the heart. DARKHER have delivered another frightening masterpiece that easily transcends musical boundaries with its broad appeal to friends of dark sounds regardless of genre. "The Buried Storm" captivates its listeners with deceptive sweetness – only to bind them tightly within a thorn-spiked nocturnal beauty forevermore.

Watch ‘Lowly Weep’ here:

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Image: Kathryn Pogue

4th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s fitting that a doom / sludge metal act should take their time over things – and Sheffield trio Kurokuma have really taken their time over things in order to deliver their debut album. Having formed late 2013, they’re one band whose progress can’t have been said to have been hampered by the pandemic: instead, they’ve been evolving their sound over the course of a number of single and EP releases, notably the Advorsus EP in 2016 and 2018’s ‘Dope Rider’ single. This means that the arrival of Born of Obsidian feels like an event, a monumental summit in the band’s career. And if five tracks, in the face of it, does‘t look like much by way of a definitive statement that represents the apogee of some eight years of work, the fact that all bar one are over eight minutes long and each one packs the density of a black hole gives some necessary context.

‘Smoking Mirror’ lands things perfectly; there’s a definite groove, even a hint of funk – not in the Chili Peppers’ funk metal sense, but in a twisted, fucked-up psychedelic sense – to the bassline that bounces along before the crushing power chords crash in. The vocals snarl and scraw and everything comes together to deliver optimum weight. It may be a cliché to sat it needs to be played loud, and playing any metal not loud is a mistake, but having been recorded in London with Sanford Parker (YOB, Eyehategod, Indian), volume really increases the appreciation of the quality production. There’s not only great separation between the instruments, but each brings something more to the overall mix. On ‘Smoking Mirror’, your attention is likely to be on the churning guitar, but the drums are outstanding in the way they kick through the dense, treacle-like distortion.

They promise an album that’s ‘equal parts primitive brutality and mind-bending psychedelia’, and it’s all there in the pulverising repetitions of ‘Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli’. For its brevity, it packs in a neatly-constructed structure, with intro, verses, chorus, mid-section – which brings an explosive change of tempo – and megalithic, gut-churning riffing that rages hard and heavy. It demonstrates that there’s a lot going on with these guys, and that they’re not just lug-headed chord-thudders, but possess a level of musical articulateness that separates them from many of their peers.

Single cut ‘Jaguar’ is, it turns out, entirely representative, a roaring beast of a tune that has a rare swing to it – and a lot of cowbell. It warps and lurches with remarkable dexterity for something of such colossal weight. The repetitive riffery of ‘Ololiuqui’ batters and bludgeons relentlessly, maintaining its form and instead varying the tone and depth of the distortion, and stepping up the volume incrementally, before the nine minute ‘Under the Fifth Sun’ delivers a decimating conclusion.

With bulldozing, unyielding mass and density, Born of Obsidian is high-impact: Kurokuma have mastered the power of hard volume and brutal force – as is in keeping with the genre. But where Kurokuma stand apart – and above – is in the detail, the nuance, the deviation from the blueprint, which shows a unique flair, and surely Born of Obsidian is destined for cult status.

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Southern Lord – 26th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Long after the heyday of the legendary Peel Sessions, BBC sessions remain something to be revered and something special. Even back in the 80s and 90s, when Joh Peel’s show was the place to gain exposure as an underground band, and a Peel session the pinnacle of prestige for any act outside the mainstream, the likes of David ‘Kid’ Jensen and Janice Long were also notable DJs who invited bands to record live / studio sessions, and while R1 has since become the domain if wall-to-wall major label slop without a single window for anything remotely alternative (that died with Zane Lowe’s departure in 2015, and while his sycophantic arselicking was nauseating, he did at least provide a platform in an otherwise mainstream space), 6Music, recently salvaged from decommission continues to uphold the tradition, thanks to Mark Riley (formerly of all-time Peel faves The Fall) and Mary Anne Hobbs. Hobbs(who quit R1 in 2010 to mentor students at The University of Sheffield and stepped into 6Music a couple of years later) in many ways represents the last bastion of the old-school, in a good way: the veteran DJ is more attuned to less obvious music than many DJs a fair bit younger, as her offering a slot to Sunn O))) indicates.

The beauty of BBC sessions is that they offer acts studio time to use as they please. Many crank out versions of tracks off their latest album, but others explore new territory, either with works in progress, random covers, or something else entirely. Sunn O))) elected to record a whole new album. And so it is that the follow up to Pyroclasts is an extension of the work from that previous album (plus one from its predecessor, Life Metal (2019)) – of which Pyroclasts was in turn an extension of sorts, having been recorded during the same sessions. They certainly know how to stretch a concept: the thing with Sunn O)) is that for all of their impenetrable wall of seriousness, which corresponds with their impenetrable wall of sound, there is a sense of wryness, a sense that they’re more than self-aware of their mythmaking and stylisation, and that delivering it all with not even straight faces, but faces obscured by cowls, isn’t entirely serous. By this, I mean high art and humour aren’t mutually exclusive. Sunn O))) make serious music in a serious fashion, and are even serious about it, but maintaining character throughout is integral tom the wheeze. And so in keeping with maintaining both the style and the form, they grind out longform pieces that drone interminably and gnaw away at the intestines in an uneasy tonal probing.

Having toured with the band as a support on the UK leg of their tour, Anna Von Hausswolf joined the band in the legendary Maida Vale studio and lent vocals, adding an ethereal quality to the low-end drone that continues for all eternity.

Immediately, we’re dragged into Sunn O)) time. Most radio sessions comprise three or four songs, with a duration of maybe fifteen minutes or so in total. Because most radio shows last maybe three hours, and a feature slot of fifteen to twenty minutes is proportionate. But with Sunn O))), most tracks are half a show in duration, and the first track on here, ‘Pyroclasts F’, an excerpt of which was revealed in November, is comparatively gentle, drifting semi-ambient work, combining heavy guitar drone and feedback, and of course it’s never-ending. Well, fifteen minutes in duration, to be more precise, as its counterpart Pyroclasts C#.

It’s not until ‘Troubled Air’ starts and that the truly intense, gut-shredding sensation hits. It’s five ambient minutes until the monstrous power chords strike the knell of dark doom, and we’re in classic Sunn O))) territory. Growling for an uncomfortable eleven minutes on Life Metal, this performance extends the piece for over half an hour, with downturned chords struck at An impossibly slow rate. The earth turns between chords, the sustain extending light years. The ominous organ notes trill and quaver like mist creeping in a horror movie, while the doomy chords torture the bowels and lower intestine and blossom into blooming cathedrals of chthonic darkness. It’s a sonic black hole from which there is no escape, and it grinds and billows and the listener is slowly sucked under by the relentless swirling currents.

Metta, Benevolence captures Sunn O))) at their minimal best, conjuring enormous, sweeping soundscapes of the densest, darkest, most relentlessly dark drone.

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The Answer Lies In The Black Void are a new doom duo featuring Martina Horváth (singer for the avant-garde metal project Thy Catafalque) and Jason Köhnen (Celestial Season, Bong-Ra, ex-The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble).

The debut album, Forlorn is an enveloping exploration of the doom genre and the myriad means of expression within it – journeying from a classic old-school sound to something more contemporary, then expanding further into sludge and industrial terrain, also incorporating elements of Martina’s background in Hungarian folk music. The Answer Lies In The Black Void seeks to embrace beauty in darkness and fragility in heaviness.
In their own words, “Forlorn explores the sacred union of the divine feminine and masculine, the light and the dark, the shadows that hide within and the trials of love, lust and loss”.

‘Mina’ is taken from their debut album, released 24th September. Watch the video here:

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Photo Credit: Mike Redman

Birmingham, Alabama 4 piece EMBR are set to release a 3 song EP called “1021”. The title alludes to the fact that, the EP is the second in the New Heavy Sounds 10th Anniversary CD EP series.

‘1021’ follows on the heels of their critically acclaimed full-length “1823”. It also falls in line with the 2-year anniversary of the drummer Eric’s kidney transplant.

EMBR deliver 3 brand new songs, each of which push the template set up by the album. These compositions chronicle love, devastation, disappointment, forgiveness and anger, and once again, musically EMBR are on top form. Drummer Eric comments on the video for new single ‘Vesuvious’,

"Vesuvious, the first track from the upcoming EP 1021 is an intense composition. It’s a bit out of the box for EMBR, which is exactly what we set out to do. Musically, it’s faster and more up-tempo than what we usually write. The riffs are driving, The rhythm section is pummeling, Crystal’s vocals are soaring, at times haunting and she even Incorporated a substantial dose of her screaming.  Lyrically, the song is loosely based on “the lovers” from the Pompeii disaster. If you listen to the lyrics you’re hear some of that story. So you could say that this song is a heavy love song. The video is composed of footage from our weekend at Ledbelly Sound…… stick around till the end for A few outtake clips. We hope that you’ll enjoy the song as much as we did writing it."

Watch the video now:

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Pilgrimage of the Soul is the 11th studio album in the 22-year career of Japanese experimental rock legends, MONO set for release on 17th September (Pelagic Records)

Recorded and mixed – cautiously, anxiously, yet optimistically – during the height of the COVID- 19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, with one of the band’s longtime partners, Steve Albini, Pilgrimage of the Soul is aptly named as it not only represents the peaks and valleys where MONO are now as they enter their third decade, but also charts their long, steady journey to this time and place.

Continuing the subtle but profound creative progression in the MONO canon that began with Nowhere Now Here (2019), Pilgrimage of the Soul is the most dynamic MONO album to date (and that’s saying a lot). But where MONO’s foundation was built on the well-established interplay of whisper quiet and devastatingly loud, Pilgrimage of the Soul crafts its magic with mesmerising new electronic instrumentation and textures, and – perhaps most notably – faster tempos that are clearly influenced by disco and techno. It all galvanizes as the most unexpected MONO album to date – replete with surprises and as awash in splendor as anything this band has ever done.

MONO began in Japan at the end of the 20th Century as a young band equally inspired by the pioneers of moody experimental rock (My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai) and iconic Classical composers (Beethoven, Morricone) who came before them. They have evolved into one of the most inspiring and influential experimental rock bands in their own right. It is only fitting that their evolution has come at the glacial, methodical pace that their patient music demands. MONO is a band who puts serious value in nuance, and offers significant rewards for the wait.

Watch the music video for first single ‘Riptide’, a film by Alison Group now:

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Southern Lord – 25th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Twenty years is a long time. But that’s how long it’s been since Iceburn last graced us with new material. The shifting collective, primarily operative between 1990 and 2001 reconvened in 2007, with this current lineup again at the core.

As the band’s bio summarises, ‘The band’s initial output slowly evolved from hardcore and metal to free improvisation and noise. The 10 year arc saw the band following their own path and becoming more and more obscure as they got deeper into unknown musical worlds. By 2000 the cycle seemed complete and Iceburn did their final tour in Europe 2001. In 2007 this early core crew reunited to play a local anniversary show focused on the earliest material. Every few years since they would get together for another ‘reunion’ until that word became more of a joke, it was clear the band was back, getting together every week, and working on new material.’

And here it is: two truly megalithic tracks, each spanning the best part of twenty minutes, and packing them densely with some hard-hitting, churning, trudging, sludgy riffs.

This is some heavy, doomy, din: the riffs are Sabbath as filtered via Melvins, and let’s face it – Sabbath may have invented heavy metal, but it was Melvins who reinvented it with that gnarly, stoner twist and all the sludge.

It’s about halfway through the eighteen-minute ‘Healing the Ouroburous’ that things take a bit of a crazy turn. The lead riffing steps up to next-level flamboyant and I’m starting to think ‘this is maybe a bit much’. It’s not just that it’s technical, it’s just a bit fretwanky, even a bit Thin Lizzy, like ‘Whisky in the Jar’ jammed for fifteen minutes at a gig with three local support bands for a minor-league headliner – but then they pull it back and we’re returned to slow, lumbering territory. If there’s a brief burst where it sounds a bit Alice In Chains, it’s forgivable, because within the obvious genre framework, Iceburn bring in so much to expand the limits of convention, and it’s refreshing, especially from a band with so much history. It would have been so easy for them to just turn out a brace of droning riff beasts where not a lot happens, and no doubt they would have been lauded for their return to form and their place in the underground canon, but… well bollocks to that. Then there are the vocal – shifting between a low growl and some quite melodic moments, but all kept low in the mix.

‘Dahlia Rides the Firebird’ is another absolute bloody behemoth, a collision of Earth and Melvins, and a real slow-burner that takes suspense to a point near the limit. It takes three minutes before it even begins to take form, and then lumbers like some giant Cretaceous riff-lizard – one with big, swinging riff knackers at that. Yes, this has some swagger, and it builds, and it builds… The monster crunching riff that crashes in to punch hard in the last five minutes more than justifies the wait. When it lands, it’s absolutely fucking colossal.

Asclepius is a statement, and one which informs us that Iceburn are forward-facing and aren’t looking to recreate the past or retread old ground just to please people. And that in itself should please enough people, because this is so, so solid.

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Year of No Light have shared the harrowing new video for ‘Réalgar’, written and directed by Corentin Schieb, Mathias Averty & Célia Le Goaziou. The track, described by the band as, ‘a mineral dive in the interzone, a journey between several realities and a confrontation with our inner demons’, is taken from their new album “Consolamentum” set for release via Pelagic Records on 2nd July. Watch the video now:

Pelagic Records are releasing not only their new album “Consolamentum” but also a wooden box set, to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary, containing their entire discography of 5 studio albums, several split EPs, and the collaboration with Belgian composer Dirk Serries from the ‘Live At Roadburn’ recordings, on 12 vinyl records.

YEAR OF NO LIGHT’s lengthy, sprawling compositions of towering walls of guitars and sombre synths irradiate a sense of dire solemnity and spiritual gravity, and couldn’t be a more fitting soundtrack for such grim medieval scenarios. But there is also the element of absolution, regeneration, elevation, transcendence in the face of death. Consolamentum is dense, rich and lush and yet somehow feels starved and deprived.

It comes as no surprise that ever since the beginning of their career, the band have had an obsession for the fall of man and salvation through darkness. The term “consolamentum” describes the sacrament, the initiation ritual of the Catharic Church, which thrived in Southern Europe in the 12th – 14th century – a ritual that brought eternal austereness and immersion in the Holy Spirit.

“There’s a thread running through all of our albums”, says the band, collectively “an exploration of the sensitive world that obeys a certain telos, first fantasized ("Nord") and reverberated ("Ausserwelt"), then declaimed as a warning ("Tocsin"). The deeper we dig, the more the motifs we have to unveil appear to us. Yes, it’s a bit gnostic. This album is invoked after the Tocsin, it’s the epiphany of the Fall”.

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Nadja reveal another track "Starres" from their forthcoming album Luminous Rot, which shall be released on CD and DL formats via Southern Lord on 21st May, with the LP version arriving on 13th August. Luminous Rot pre-orders are live from today, and info can be found on the Southern Lord store, Southern Lord Europe store and via Bandcamp.

About the track and video Nadja comments, "Starres is about both inner- and outerspace, a conflation of the internal neural-network of the human brain with the external cosmos, and how the act of observation might alter those, both from the viewpoint of the observer and the one observed. The video attempts to replicate something of that feeling of cognitive dissonance in the observer, taking a mundane image of houses and warping them, both through reflective filming and digital effects."

Watch the video here:

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(image by by Janina Gallert)

Magnetic Eye Records

Christopher Nosnibor

This is my first encounter with Swedish psychedelic doom-riffers Domkraft, and it must be something to do with the power of three, given that this is the third single from the forthcoming third single by the trio.

And when a band puts out a nine-minute track as a single, you get a sense of where they’re coming from. This clearly isn’t a band going for radio play here, the no-compromise approach of a lack of an edit demonstrating a solid anti-commercial aesthetic. But then, how would you do justice to an absolute epic like this by cutting it down to three, four, or even five minutes?

No, you need to hear – and feel – the full thing, from end to end. Build? Yeah, you, might say it builds. After a couple of minutes or so that are a welter of guitars and a monster wall of riffage, it really takes off, before it simmers down into a lumbering, soaring expansiveness that’s even vaguely proggy. No criticism, but a sense that certain parts don’t quite deliver on the threat of the band’s bio or commentary on the single. If anything, this is very much for the better, because ‘Audiodome’ is so much more, and transitions between passages of varying tempo and weight to outstanding effect. Around the right-minute mark, they really slam in with some eight, and it thunders hard.

It feels less like a single than an album condensed into a single track. Epic is indeed the word.

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