Arriving from Germany, today we have Neo-folk trio Nebelung and their latest full-length release titled “Palingenesis”. Featuring six tracks of hauntingly dark compositions, this outfit delivers a similar vibe to genre greats Empyrium and Tenhi. Filled with lush soundscapes and very elegantly crafted melodies, this is one Neo-folk release you don’t want to miss in 2014.
The album opens with the mellow “Mittwinter”, a song that nicely builds momentum and showcases lush acoustic guitar arrangements. As we move into the somber “Nachtgewalt” we get that instant Empyrium “Weiland” vibe with the imposing cello leading the way. The band’s ability to keep the tension escalating without giving anything away is one of their top skills in this release.
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.
Having been a huge fan of Empyrium since their 1996 release “A Wintersunset...”, when we heard that they would be giving their first live concert in the band’s history at the 2011 WGT in Leipzig, Germany, our plane tickets and festival accommodations were booked in an instant. As one of those magical moments were a band that never played live comes together, this show was set to be a very special event. Featuring a ridiculous live line-up with musicians from bands like Alcest, Les Discrets, Neun Welten, Dornenreich, amongst others, the band’s music was surely going to be brought to life in a very accurate manner.
Arriving at the venue almost two hours before the show, we managed to be almost at the beginning of the line. Talking with super excited Empyrium fans just made the experience even more impressive and generated even more expectation amongst all the people gathered there. The live DVD version of this release manages to capture with great precision the magic of this night thanks to the crystal clear recording of the music and the HD video that was used to capture the event.
Being very far from your average Infernal Masquerade release, today we have Scout Paré-Phillips and her 7” release “Fields of Ash”. Featuring two haunting tracks, this very short but effective release will grab you attention since the first minute and will never let go. Being a member of The Sterling Sisters, Scout Paré-Phillips manages to craft two very unique songs that cannot be missed by any fan of Neo-folk music with mesmerizing female vocals.
The opener track is “Fields of Ash”, a nearly three minute tune that starts with beautiful acoustic percussions and ethereal vocals. The simplicity behind this mesmerizing track is perfect for the excellent vocal melodies and basic instrumentation. The second song, “In the End”, takes a more dramatic twist and enables Scout’s vocals to shine through the melancholic acoustic guitars. This track has a considerably darker edge and a very relaxed soothing vibe.
Keeping things very weird and confusing, today we have Finland’s Riitaoja and their mystical release “Mantereelle”. With each song being weirder than the previous one, this band mixes elements from Folk, Southern Rock, and Jazz creating a very dark and experimental mix that is quite puzzling, but at the end of the day it is quite enjoyable and unique. An extra layer of mystery is added by the Finish lyrics, making the music even more confusing since it sounds familiar but we have to clue what they are trying to say.
“Vähän matkaa vielä” opens this release with a very solemn vibe thanks to the subtle bass guitar and desolate female vocals. This track reminded us a bit of earlier Hexvessel but with a darker and slower pace. The experimental Tenhi-esque “Ilmiliekki”, leads to the quite interesting “Hengitän”, a song that has a Southern Rock vibe to it. As the album progresses until “Allergiset oireet” the band starts making their Southern Rock/Americana influences more evident by introducing traditional rhythms and elements like the harmonica.
Being huge fans of Death/Doom Metal, we are pleased to be reviewing My Silent Wake and their 2012 remastered release titled “The Anatomy of Melancholy”. In this double release, the band delivers 90 minutes of soul crushing Death/Doom Metal with some Gothic influences very similar to My Dying Bride and related bands. Since the original recording is from 2007, we can clearly hear the time-stamp on their musical style and won’t be criticizing them from the ‘retro’ sound.
The band opens the first CD with the typical keyboard intro only to fully explode into Doom brilliance with the opening riffs of “Dying Things We’re Living For”. The band’s similarities to My Dying Bride are undeniable with the excellent “Heretic”. The clean vocals and riffs are superb and really nail the atmosphere created by Death/Doom releases from back in the day. Not everything is all mellow and just slow and painful, the band does a great job in also having harsh elements in their music and whipping out some very aggressive sections like on “Into Silence”.
Staying busy after the release of “No Holier Temple”, today we have Hexvessel’s “Iron Marsh”, their latest EP delivering five tracks of their very enigmatic Psychedelic Neofolk music. Featuring over 30 minutes music, this EP is the perfect companion for a hike on the woods in a dark and gloomy day. Fronted by Mat "Kvohst" McNerney, this band has a very unique sound to them that will give you goosebumps thanks to their very dark and eerie atmospheres.
Opening with the jazzy “Masks Of The Universe”, the trumpets nicely create a very unique and lounge-like atmosphere. Kimmo Helén greatly helps the band build a very unique atmosphere with him handling the keyboards, trumpet, and violin duties. McNerney’s vocals are pretty solid and very soothing for the band’s music and are greatly enhanced by the backing vocals provided by Marja Konttinen. This track also clocks in at 13 minutes, making it almost half the EP.
In the same vein of truly unique and completely bizarre bands like Diablo Swing Orchestra and the Leningrad Cowboys, today we have Austria’s Russkaja and their latest release “Energia!”. Featuring 12 tracks of ‘Russian Turbo Polka’ music as the band describes it, any fan of truly experimental and very unique music will be creaming their pants with this bizarre musical output. Combining Polka, Metal, Ska, Rock, Jazz, and Funk, this release is anything but standard and predictable.
Open the release wide open we have the catchy “Energia!” a track so engaging that we are sure some people will immediately start dancing. The band’s sound resembles some of the Ska we have listened to in the past, but with a higher intensity and heavier guitars. “Barada” sounds like old Russian Rock songs that we had the misfortune of listening to on the net, but the band adds the wind instruments to keep it interesting and very catchy.
With the amount of releases we get here at Infernal Masquerade it is rare that we spend as much time reviewing one as we have with Blaze of Sorrow’s “Echi”. In this killer album the band combines tons of atmospheric and folk-ish elements into their very melancholic blend of Black Metal. For the duration of the 52-minutes of this album we found ourselves constantly wanting to replay the songs one more time in order to fully appreciate the intricacies of the expertly crafted tracks.
Opening with a lush acoustic intro, “All'Ignoto” greatly sets the mood for the release, once the melodic aggressive guitars hit, we just knew this album will be magical. There are indeed very fast-paced moments, but they are very well balanced with beautiful slowdowns and killer vocal work. The Folk-ish acoustic sections on “Empatia” reminded us of early Alcest, and their excellent combination of lush atmospheric slow sections and powerful guitar riffs. The Doom-ish edge to this track greatly enhances the overall mood of such a sublime track.
From Termo Records, the label that brought us one of 2011’s standout releases White Willow’s “Terminal Twilight”, today we have Tusmørke’s “Underjordisk Tusmørke”. In what it is probably one of the oddest releases we have every received at Infernal Masquerade, This album is undoubtedly beautiful, haunting, and plain weird (for us at least). This Norwegian Psychedelic/Progressive Folk Rock packs a mean punch in this nine song release, and it will surely rattle your eardrums considering how original their music is.
Opening with very high spirts with the track “Fimbul”, the band instantly reminded us of Dark Reality and their “Blossom Of Mourning” album but with a twisted psychedelic edge. The band brilliantly incorporates their folk elements into their dark Psychedelic Rock side, and creates a very unsettling but quite unique mix. The vocals are quite lush and greatly bring the folky vibe to life on the excellent songs “Watching the Moon Sail out of the East” and “The Quintessence of Elements”. With an uncanny old-school Psychedelic vibe, this release heavily relies on their unique atmospheric elements.