Having waited for more than 10 years for a new Empyrium release, the arrival of this release was the highlight of our month. With “The Turn of the Tides”, Ulf Theodor Schwadorf and Thomas Helm return with a release that combines all elements from Empyrium’s past in a very fresh and masterful way. Featuring seven tracks of majestic atmospheric music, the band surpasses all the expectations and once again, sets the bar higher.
The release opens with the ray of light called “Saviour”. In this track the somber piano opening perfectly sets the mood for this majestic release. As the atmospheric elements keep unveiling parallel to Helm’s vocals, the full Empyrium experience begins. The release continues with the already unveiled “Dead Winter Ways”, a majestic track that is both bleak and dramatic. Featuring distorted guitars, this is a first in a few releases for Empyrium.
Coming out of a short hiatus, Wolves In The Throne Room return with a fresh and unique release in “Celestite”. Being a fully instrumental release that is touted to be a companion for their previous album “Celestial Lineage”, this 46-minute beast unleashes the band’s ‘softer’ side filled with hypnotic atmospheric and instrumental passages that will make you see them in a whole new light. Ranging from sounding like Raison d'être to horror movie soundtracks, this aural experience brings you into the band’s complex world in a grandiose way.
The release leads off with the trippy soundscapes of “Turning Ever Towards the Sun”, a song that weaves back and forth with futuristic atmospheric synths and a captivating slow pace. Things get tenser with the intoxicating “Initiation at Neudeg Aim” thanks to more chilling synths and dissonant riffs. Building up the momentum, “Bridge of Leaves” goes back into a more chilling and guitar-less state, with lush arrangements and a certain darkness that reminds us of bands like Elend.
Arriving from Italy, today we have a very odd and beautifully disturbing release titled “The Dross Play Vol.1” by Culls. In this five-song release, we get a very interesting mixture of ambient and noise with a few hints of drone elements. While most releases of this genre drag songs along for 10-20 minutes, Culls delivers short and concise assaults that will elevate your conscious levels to new heights.
Opening with the incisive “Scott 1912”, the dissonant noise elements perfectly blend with the trippy atmospherics and the spoken word samples to create a very tense and chaotic feeling. With a very apt title, “Spiral Staircase” delivers a very hypnotic droning dirge that feels like walking on an endless staircase. Quite interesting indeed how Culls, manipulates their elements to create very unique and engaging soundscapes.
Delivering a monumental collaboration between Ulver and Sunn O))), two of the most pioneering bands when it comes to creating their own sound; today we have “Terrestrials”. In this three-song, 35-minute album, the bands merge their styles together creating a very dense an atmospheric performance that is extremely engaging and sonically orgasmic.
Kicking off with the highly atmospheric “Let There Be Light”, we can hear the assortment of Ulver aural experiments work perfectly with some Drone elements of Sunn O))). The track slowly unravels 11 minutes of atmospheric tension filled with very minimalistic elements such as sparse trumpets and a great build up that seems to take momentum as the track progresses.
Making its way from The Netherlands, one man Ambient/Neo-classical project SynoP brings us their fourth release titled “77 Bombers”. Inspired by some paintings of crashed 77 bombers, this release is a cinematic experience that is better enjoyed when watching the video the artist crated of the paintings found here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbI5dsnhZz4). For 13 tracks we get a very healthy mix of Ambient with Minimalist touches, spoken word sections, and some very moving Neo-classical passages.
The album instantly opens with the title track, a song that features some airplane sounds before it creates some cavernous atmospheric passages. As the release progresses, we are left with plenty of scattered pieces here and there in tracks like “Rumble in the sky”, “Endless view”, “Dark clouds over Europe”, all of the helping to create a very hypnotic vibe and furthering the mistery behind “77 Bombers”.
Featuring members and ex-members of outfits like Krieg, Vital Remains, Chaos Moon, and countless other bands, today we have Esoterica and their monumental release “Aseity”. Featuring a thick and devastating atmospheric component, this Ambient/Black Metal release will enshroud your sonic landscape with crushing riffs, demoralizing vocals, and very thick layers sound aural dissonance.
Wasting no time, Esorterica blows things wide open with a pummeling onslaught on the opening track “Lessons in Forbidden Alchemy”. The band’s three members deliver one hell of a powerful sound with a merciless guitar distortion and perfectly crafted drums complementing the harsh vocals. This punishing musical approach nicely continues on tracks like “A Slave’s Ablution” and “Fever”, both of which never let go of the listener’s throat with their crushing atmospheric elements.
Arriving from Gavin Turner (ex- A Forest of Stars), today we have one-man Courtsleet and ‘their’ two-track debut EP: “Hope’s Apparition”. In this intense release we get a perfect combination of atmospheric Casacadian-like Black Metal with some Shoegazing thrown into the mix. For all fans of Austere, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc., this EP will blow you away.
Opening with the 10-minute monolithic “What Was I When Your Journey Began?”, Courtsleet slowly builds up momentum with creepy atmospherics and very precise songwriting. The band’s sound is both raw and melodic, allowing the melodic elements to seep in through the savage Black Metal riffs, picture Wolves in the Throne Room meets An Autumn for Crippled Children.
Always improving with each release, An Autumn for Crippled Children (AAAFCC) delivers one of the most sonically complex releases of 2013 with “Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love”. Not relying on technical virtuosity, but rather a perfect layering of intense elements, this album is further expands on the band’s melancholic Post-BM / Shoegaze sound with lush guitar arrangements and brilliant atmospheric elements.
Opening with the intense “Autumn Again”, we have immediately a wall of dramatic synths and a throbbing bass guitar line that is instantly complemented by the band’s shoegazing guitars. Inserting back and forth Black Metal riffs into the melting pot, AAAFCC quickly establishes the sonic power of this release. The harsh vocals are excellent as always, and the underlying melancholic passages of tracks like “The Woods are on Fire” and “Never Complete”, allow their thick sound to take many different shapes.
Filed under the category of unsettling and weird, today we have Kajkyt and his latest release titled “II”. Featuring eight tracks of very unique and different compositions, Kajkyt dwells in the lands of Dark-Ambient / Drone with a very mellow mood and some trippy elements. Clearly not for everybody, this release is better enjoyed on a dark room in a cold night to fully get the very minimalistic effect being transmitted in these eight tracks.
Delivering a powerful opener track titled “I”, Kajkyt delivers distorted bass with simplistic electronics alongside some drones. Once the sorrowful clean vocals start leading the song, we are instantly hooked on the premise of the album, and eagerly awaiting for what is next to come. “II” is the longest song of the album and the whole atmosphere slows down considerably for some Noise elements to shine with a very ritualistic and minimalistic backdrop.
Being used to receive very weird and unique releases, we can’t say that we ever expected to come across an album as unique and puzzling as Albatwitch’s “Only Dead Birds Sing Over the Graves of Fallen Kings”. Mixing Folk with Americana, Drone, Sludge, d-beat, crust, Black Metal and a slew of other influences, this is one hell of a rollercoaster ride that is better left to fully unravel rather than try to understand it.
The album opens with a Folk track that brings back memories of the banjos in the movie “Deliverance”, but it quickly transforms into punishing Noise with hellish vocals. And this is just in the first 3 minutes of music. Sludgy Black Metal quickly follows in “Beneath The Flood”, just before we jump into Burzum-esque territory (his instrumental stuff) and then back into more lush Neo-Folk/Folk with very melancholic vocals and the album’s title track.