Hello and welcome back to New Releases! I’m unfortunately a bit late this week due to some unforeseen circumstances, but no matter. This past week was a bit of a slow one anyways. This post is covering the end of March and the beginning of April, which means that tomorrow I’ll be posting my summary for the month of March. Despite it being a slow week in terms of the quantity of releases I had to go through, it was actually quite competent in quality, so a number of these releases will likely end up on that summary post tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to writing about these today.
Let’s get started.
7. Imber Luminis- Nausea
Every week when I go over my list of upcoming releases, I mark off the ones with interesting genre tags. Most of the time those albums don’t end up turning out, but every once in a while I come across something that really does. Nausea is such an album. The tag that caught my eye initially was ‘atmospheric doom’, although after listening to this, it seems the tag is slightly more interesting that I first thought. This album definitely does have traits of atmospheric doom, but its sound is more telling of the tag ‘atmospheric black/doom’ than anything, and it does also delve a bit deeper still by channeling a slight influence from DSBM. There is clearly a patchwork of different elements at work throughout the duration of Nausea. Imber Luminis itself is actually a Belgian one-man band; the brainchild of multi-project veteran Déhà. Moving beyond the novelty of the genre tags, the album is bathed in a tormented sound, though said torment does not stray into or anywhere near the realms of unstable, suicidal or otherwise disturbed. It boasts a densely layered and rich atmosphere, accented by various musical details throughout, although the general sound of Nausea is admittedly far more intriguing than the music itself on a standalone basis.
6. While They Sleep- Les fleurs du mal
While They Sleep are an atmospheric black metal band from Ukraine. While it’s not exactly a little-known fact that Kharkiv’s scene is responsible for putting Ukraine on the map for black metal fans the world over, Crimea—where While They Sleep are from—does not quite share the same reputation, with little more than a handful of black metal bands in the entire peninsula. While They Sleep’s sole member since 2013, Kvalkadur, is also responsible for the pagan/black project Ildverden and the death metal project Propagnosia. Les fleurs du mal has a dark, foreboding sound to it. Particularly of note are the vocals, which are quite raw and yet seem embedded into the spacious instrumentation rather than pasted overtop of it. The obscurity of the vocals comes across as very cryptic and is a large part of what makes this album sound so sinister.
The title lends additional insight to the spirit of the release. Les fleurs du mal (English: The Flowers of Evil) was a controversial volume of poetry by Charles Baudelaire which sparked considerable controversy and was banned in 1857, with Baudelaire facing trials for obscenity. Many of the lyrics on this album are actually lines of poetry taken directly from this volume, condemned for the dark themes about which it was written. While this album is a fantastic display of potential, it is somewhat lacking in terms of memorability; the riffs in particular. This is not to say that it’s a product of sloppy musicianship by any means–there are many areas, most notably the drums, where the execution of Kvalkadur’s musical ideas is simply fantastic. This album’s main issue is that While They Sleep simply needs to grow into its style. For that reason, I greatly look forward to anything the project may produce in the future.
5. Calliophis- Cor Serpentis
Calliophis are a death/doom band from Leipzig, Germany, formed in 2008. To date they have only released two full-length albums; the latter of which came out this week, entitled Cor Serpentis. This album is their first release in a shade under a decade, and while there is much enjoyment to be had from this album, I immediately noticed a handful of problems with it. Firstly, it sounds overly repetitive, especially on the first track. Despite death/doom being a genre in which the tempo is commonly pulled back and accordingly demands somewhat of a tolerance for repetitive sound, there are a number of riffs in this release that simply take the concept too far and kill it. Additionally, there are several small timing issues with the drums sprinkled throughout the album, although that is a minor annoyance at most. To their credit, both problems seem to resolve themselves to some degree as the album goes on. The first track actually contains the vast majority of the issues and if you are willing to endure it to experience the tracks that follow, you will be rewarded. In fact, if you wanted to skip that track entirely, I wouldn’t blame you. With regards to the rest of the album, Calliophis seem to have dug themselves a refreshing niche within death/doom. The riffs on the later part of the album are crushingly slow and yet relentlessly engaging to listen to. This album has a really natural flow, ebbing and flowing in aggression in a very convincing way; even dropping down into clean parts to emphasize the weight of the surrounding riffs. Every instrument on this album has some great quality about it, regardless of that first song. Problems and all, this is a great release.
4. Dargar- The Shores of Space
Dargar are a black metal/noise duo from Los Angeles. The Shores of Space being their debut full-length release and their second overall release (preceded only by a 2010 demo), it is easy to wonder why seven years have gone by since we last heard anything from them. Apparently the band spent three years–from 2012 to 2015–in the process of recording this at two separate studios, and it seems to have been in the works ever since. The result of what appears to be at least five years of hard work has now finally been released in the form of The Shores of Space. Musically, it is slow and brooding, sounding spacious and enormous, with driving bass lines and distant sandpaper-like vocals. Slowly percolating underneath the instrumentation for much of the release is a soft ambient backdrop, contributing a languid aura. The noise elements which are worked into the music are very subtle. At times, they become significantly less subtle, with the power to drag you out of any daydream you may be having; an experience similar to receiving an unexpected electric shock, jolting you back to the world and roping you back into the deep pool of thought that is The Shores of Space. Should you happen to be searching for something new, thoughtful and unique, the music of Dargar is your solution.
3. Bereft- Lands
I know this release has been getting some discussion since it released at the end of March, and with good reason. Not to be confused with the two other confirmed Berefts currently in existence, this Bereft (from Madison, Wisconsin) has taken a decidedly sludgy approach with their sophomore full-length effort, Lands. Bereft are designated by the Archives as a doom/post-black band, but this is largely a sludge album punctuated by the odd post-black segment; just barely enough to afford them the post-black genre tag. Still, this may well be one of 2017’s best sludge offerings as of yet. The vocals on Lands can be likened to the sonic equivalent of taking an ice pick to the forehead, taking visceral high roads to soar overtop of the gritty riffwork. Overall, the sound of the album is overwhelmingly huge and apocalyptic, featuring memorable riffs and artfully heavy-handed drums. Be forewarned, however, that Lands is not cripplingly atonal, nor is it dissonant by any means. Due to its post-black influence, the songwriting actually incorporates enough melodic detail to give the album an interesting texture, making use of both occasional clean vocals and guitar-based melodies to keep drawing your attention right back in.
2. Necroblood- Collapse of the Human Race
Collapse of the Human Race is the first full-length release of the French black/death powerhouse that is Necroblood. Their discography is nothing too extensive–a demo, a compilation, a split and an EP here and there–but no matter, because their latest album speaks volumes all on its own. Undoubtedly the greatest death metal offering from the month of March, Collapse of the Human Race is dark and aggressive without being overly flamboyant or atonal. For fans of crushing blasphemous death metal in the style of Immolation, this is a 2017 essential. As far as their black metal influence, Necroblood’s inspiration stems from the likes of VON and Beherit, as well as the world renowned French underground. Although this release is nowhere close to doom–rather, influenced by classic death metal albums which themselves took inspiration from doom–it has a classic waist-deep-in-mud feel about it that helps it to sound just that much darker.
1. Falls of Rauros- Vigilance Perennial
At last, the renowned black/folk band Falls of Rauros have blessed us with a new full-length. As somewhat of a rabid fan of theirs, I have admittedly been looking forward to this absurdly. Vigilance Perennial possesses not only every bit of the cathartic properties showcased on previous releases, but also a very particular ethereality wrapped up in their characteristic folds of melody and dense layers of riffs. I refer to this as a very particular ethereality because, given that the term ‘ethereal’ refers to things that seem too perfect for this world, the music of Falls of Rauros is somewhat of a contradiction to that despite it being a perfect example: it is precisely how deeply rooted in the Earth their music sounds that makes it seem so otherworldly.
In accordance with the rest of their discography, Vigilance Perennial is an almost spiritual venture, drifting back and forth between elaborate, gentle clean sections and densely punishing black metal–a journey through a dreamscape, deliquescing at the touch. This album is, I feel, more cinematic in approach than their previous three full-lengths, and much more deliberate in its execution. Each detail feels natural and very carefully considered–this, inevitably, lends an air of calm predestination to the overall vibe. Falls of Rauros have taken a more melodic approach with this album as compared to their previous releases. It is perhaps for this reason that Vigilance Perennial lacks some of the slight touches of melancholia as can be heard on releases such as The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood, and while there are definitely still moments where the mood has cast its eyes downward, they are not found as commonly.
At this point I may as well write a full review of this album, because I have a thousand things I could say about it, but I’ve never written anything this long for any other album in the New Releases series, so I’ll have to stop here. I’d just like to end on the note that if you have not yet heard this album, you would be well advised to drop everything and do so immediately.
• • • Summary • • •
All in all, this week has probably had one of the highest good-album-to-shit-album ratios I’ve come across in quite a while. It’s been a very slow week, but at the same time, a lot of those albums were of considerable quality. In terms of genres, this has also been one of the most diverse weeks of 2017 to date–a lot of these releases are very unique or have interesting genre tags, but even just in general there’s a very good mix of genres to be found here.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!