The New Music Thread : The Fallen Edition

December 16, 2022 02:02 PM

Nah don't worry I'm not beating myself up, whenever I say I'm going to keep giving something a try, it always means I can see there's something about a release that I didn't quite get the first time around.

I like to jump around a lot in my listening so, much to the dismay of some, a lot of my initial thoughts and ratings come from one spin of the record. I like to catch myself here and there and make sure I'm giving some of the more slow-burning albums a chance before moving on and never going back to it. I'm much more interested in Kosmodroms' ideas than I was with any previous Monolithe release, so we'll see!

December 16, 2022 04:27 PM

That's interesting, because I don't always like to dissect an album over an intense period of repeated listens myself. I like to spin something a couple of times and maybe jot down a few initial thoughts then move on to something else for a while (or several something elses). If it has gained enough traction in my brain, then I will return to it and be a bit more active in my listening, hopefully then being able to form some more solid opinion on it. Of course, if it is something I have been anticipating or if it really grabs me immediately I might just hammer it to death over a couple of days and go from there - as was the case with the Monolithe LP.

December 19, 2022 01:31 PM

A track from the new Ahab album, The Coral Tombs, due out 13th January


Single from The Otolith's debut, Folium Limina. Otolith features several members from now-defunct doomsters SubRosa.


December 23, 2022 12:44 AM


Monolithe - Kosmodrom (2022)

Released 25.11.22 on Bandcamp

Monolithe are not you typical death doom crew, it must be said. The Frenchmen have developed an increasingly progressive aspect to their death doom as their career has developed. They place great significance on song length - their first four albums were fifty-minute plus single track epics, 2015's Epsilon Aurigae and 2016's Zeta Reticuli both contained three tracks, each of exactly fifteen minutes duration, Nebula septem had seven, 7 minute exactly tracks and Okta Khora contained eight tracks of either 4:04, 8:08, 4:08 or 8:04 minutes duration. Kosmodrom continues this idiosyncratic tendency with, of it's five tracks, 1 and 4 are precisely ten minutes, 2 and 3 are 10:30 and the closer, Kosmonavt is exactly 26 minutes. Despite this significance that the band place on precision in track duration, I have never found it to be contrived or constrictive and their music never suffers as a consequence of forcing it into a strictly defined temporal space.

I think it is fair to claim that death doom is a pretty "earthy" style of metal. It often suggests abyssal subterranean chasms or huge, hulking mountain vistas. I know there are the lighter-feeling gothic exponents of death doom, but these still focus on quite primal emotions such as fear and loss. Monolithe however, look outwards and upwards for their inspiration and are one of the few producers of what I would call cosmic death doom. Previous album Okta Khora, for example, was a science fiction concept album about some highly advanced civilisation's unshakeable belief that they must force the universe back into it's original form by destroying everything in it. Not your usual death doom subject matter then? Kosmodrom takes as it's theme the early Soviet pioneers of space flight and the huge risks they faced and sacrifices they made to allow the human race to dream of attaining the stars - again, not exactly your typical death doom aesthetic.

This time around, though, Monolithe have leant more heavily on their earlier death doom style than was employed on their previous couple of releases, integrating the progressive elements within a death doom framework, rather than vice-versa. This may initially come off as something of a backward step, but the progressive elements are worked into the fabric of the tracks so intrinsically that the transition from full-on death doom to lighter, more progressive sections sometimes happens imperceptably, so there is, in reality, more going on within each track than may at first appear - Voskhod suddenly erupts in a clean, melodic riff with a throbbing, electronic feel, the twenty-six minute Kosmonavt takes includes a Cult of Luna-like building, post-metal section and during Kudryavka you suddenly realise you are listening to a Dave Gilmour-like Floydian section after it's hulking death doom beginnings and don't even remember how you got there!

If you are familiar with Monolithe's work to date then the opener, Sputnik-1, may seem to be a bit unexpected, it's heavenly female vocals (provided by Houston alt. pop artist London Lawhon) combined with RĂ©mi Brochard's usual gruff growls, the huge, heaving, yet melodic, main riff and the overlaid keyboards may bring to mind My Dying Bride or the like and their gothic take on death doom and in truth I think it stands up to anything the Yorkshiremen have produced. However, rather than some corny gothic romance for subject matter, it's recalling of the aspirations of the people behind mankind's very first step into space exploration provides a theme I personally am more at home with.

As a whole package, Kosmodrom seems very complete and is so skillfully written and crafted that it throws a lot of recent death doom releases into the shade. Monolithe show that it is no longer enough to just keep knocking out slowed down death metal riffs and throw some deep growls on top to appease the death doom cognoscenti - there is so much more that the style is capable of and the Frenchmen, like those cosmic pioneers are forging onwards and upwards in order to expand the minds of the human race. Please don't misunderstand, Kosmodrom does not want for heaviness either. When it needs to be it is as heavy as you could possibly ever want, it just doesn't live or die solely on it's ability to shake the foundations. I would go as far as touting Monolithe as the death doom version of prime-era Opeth and that is heady praise indeed, so if you are in the market for intelligent, progressive extreme doom metal, then you really should give this a try.

4.5/5

Quoted Sonny

I've noticed that Monolithe have been linking your review on their social media platforms Sonny. You're a fucking global super star mate! Next you'll be dating Taylor Swift & partying with Paris Hilton.

December 23, 2022 11:36 PM

 

I've noticed that Monolithe have been linking your review on their social media platforms Sonny. You're a fucking global super star mate! Next you'll be dating Taylor Swift & partying with Paris Hilton.

Quoted Daniel

As long as I'm back home in time to take the dog out for a walk before bed!!😂

December 24, 2022 02:11 PM

Candlemass - Sweet Evil Sun

Released 18/11/22 on Napalm Records

Thirty-six years on from the release of their genre-defining debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Candlemass have come full circle with the return of Epicus vocalist, Johan LĂ€ngquist. The band have featured some great doom metal singers over the years, particularly Messiah Marcolin and Rob Lowe, but it was with LĂ€ngquist that they first made their name. Epicus Doomicus Metallicus was a seminal doom metal release and one of the genre's most important albums, to the extent that a whole subgenre was named after it and LĂ€ngquist's contribution was integral to it's success. This all, of course, does not mean that Sweet Evil Sun is anything like as good as the debut, it demonstrably isn't. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those days and Candlemass' style has actually changed very little, so a degree of stagnation is to be expected. That said though, neither is this the sound of a band going through the motions in search of one more payday, so consequently it sounds heartfelt, albeit quite generic. I would have no problem putting this on a par with Rob Lowe releases like King of the Grey Islands or Death Magic Doom and it is much better than the band's 1990's output.

This being Candlemass, even though it is mid-tier material for them, it is still better than a significant proportion of new doom metal releases - it is chock-full of terrific doom metal riffs (check out the crawling riff to Angel Battle as it transitions into a faster, Sabbathian killer and back) and catchy, singalong choruses (the title track and Scandinavian Gods in particular). LĂ€ngquist's voice still possesses great power despite the passing of the decades and Leif Edling's former co-conspirator in Avatarium, Jennie-Ann Smith, shares vocal duties on the track When Death Sighs which, if memory serves, is the first time Candlemass have featured female vocals and makes for a really nice dynamic within the track, adding an additional dimension to Candlemass' traditional sound. When Death Sighs also features my favourite guitar solo on the album as Lars Johansson channels Tony Iommi circa his masterful Dirty Women solo.

My biggest criticism would have to be reserved for the production. There just doesn't seem enough bottom end and the album sounds overly trebly, which is never a good thing for a doom metal release in my book, and here I think it robs the tracks of some of their power and heft. Of particular irritation was the drum sound on Scandinavian Gods which threatened to derail an otherwise very enjoyable track. Overall though, I would have to admit to being somewhat surprised by the quality of a release from a veteran outfit which, in all truth, I held out very little hope for.

4/5


December 27, 2022 03:09 PM

The Otolith - Folium Limina

Released 21/10/22 on Blues Funeral

Initial thoughts after three or four playthroughs, although I suspect this is an album that will reveal itself more fully as I become more familiar with it:

SubRosa were one of my favourite 21st century bands, their three albums released in the 2010s being among the very best doom metal from that decade, More Constant Than the Gods in particular lodging itself very near the summit of my 2010s metal list. So it was with great disappointment that I learned of their disbanding in 2019 and the apparent loss of a singular-sounding metal band. However, three years later, in this winter of 2022, the bulk of Subrosa's members return with a new album under the name The Otolith, to much rejoicing from yours truly. Thankfully Folium Limina retains all the ingredients that made SubRosa such a compelling listen, be it Levi Hanna's thick, crunchy doom metal riffs, Sarah Pendleton's seductive vocals or the atmospheric and unsettling violin work of Sarah and Kim Pack overlaying proceedings. As with the classic albums, the tracks all clock in at around the ten-minute mark, so give themselves plenty of time to develop without becoming self-indulgent and overstaying their welcome.

Where Otolith differ from Subrosa is that they lean more heavily on post-metal / atmospheric sludge metal songwriting and it's reliance on building atmosphere, rather than a straight-up doom metal approach. They also feature harsh male death doom vocals as provided by bassist/vocalist Matt Brotherton who is also bassist and vocalist for atmospheric sludge crew Huldra, and I am guessing his presence in the band may be the influence for a more post-metal style of songwriting. It also feels like the classical strings take a more prominent role during Folium Limina's run time, often being pushed right up front rather than acting as a provider of atmospheric layering as was it's main purpose in SubRosa. These differences are not at all jarring however, and The Otolith are very much a continuance of the sterling work begun by SubRosa and I would be very surprised if any fans of the latter didn't enjoy Folium Limina as it still contains those idiosyncrasies that made SR such a compelling and singular doom metal act. Personally, I don't think it is quite up there with the very best of SubRosa, especially More Constant Than the Gods (not much is though), but it is certainly a strong follow-up to SR's final album, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages and is a very welcome continuation of the SubRosa legacy.

4.5/5

January 12, 2023 03:56 PM

The Howling Void - Into Darkness Ever More Profound (2023)

The Howling Void is a funeral doom metal solo project and is the brainchild of Ryan Wilson, who is a member of many other projects, including the underrated funeral doom duo, Excantation, veteran grindcore band Intestinal Disgorge and black metallers Endless Disease, to name just a few. I have been somewhat of a fan since 2013's Nightfall album but whilst the four albums prior to this are solid slabs of mournfulness, I have never exactly considered The Howling Void to be an upper echelon funeral doom outfit. This isn't about to change any of that, but it is possibly my favourite release of his to date, although I have still to check out his more highly rated first three albums.

The four tracks crawl along at a snail's pace, but don't possess the crushing heaviness of an Esoteric, rather their mournfulness is expressed in a more wistful and reflective way than the often desperate-sounding and world-shaking grief of the genre's premier exponents. This is not a criticism, per se, there is definitely room in the funeral doom world for lighter and less crushing version and it gives a different perspective on the style that may appeal to those put off by the unremitting weight that they may otherwise be confronted with. I have said it before and it bears saying again, I feel there is a correlation between this lighter form of funeral doom and atmospheric black metal where both use very different means to achieve a similar airiness of atmosphere. Third track, Deeper, Darker Waters, even employs a tremolo picking technique reminiscent of atmo-black at various points, whilst retaining the plodding funereal drumbeats.

There is liberal use of keyboards, yet thankfully without overdoing it and straying into symphonic metal territory and theguitar work possesses a reasonably melodic quality. The vocals are servicable, although I prefer them a bit deeper and gruffer myself, but they feel a little buried in the mix at times and I find I really have to concentrate for them to register sufficiently. So, essentially a good album with some nice atmospheric touches that doesn't, for me, quite deliver the soul-crushing weight I love from my funeral doom, but is still nonetheless a reasonably satisfying listen and represents a different side of the genre that certainly has it's place.

4/5

January 19, 2023 09:11 PM


The Otolith - Folium Limina

Released 21/10/22 on Blues Funeral

Initial thoughts after three or four playthroughs, although I suspect this is an album that will reveal itself more fully as I become more familiar with it:

SubRosa were one of my favourite 21st century bands, their three albums released in the 2010s being among the very best doom metal from that decade, More Constant Than the Gods in particular lodging itself very near the summit of my 2010s metal list. So it was with great disappointment that I learned of their disbanding in 2019 and the apparent loss of a singular-sounding metal band. However, three years later, in this winter of 2022, the bulk of Subrosa's members return with a new album under the name The Otolith, to much rejoicing from yours truly. Thankfully Folium Limina retains all the ingredients that made SubRosa such a compelling listen, be it Levi Hanna's thick, crunchy doom metal riffs, Sarah Pendleton's seductive vocals or the atmospheric and unsettling violin work of Sarah and Kim Pack overlaying proceedings. As with the classic albums, the tracks all clock in at around the ten-minute mark, so give themselves plenty of time to develop without becoming self-indulgent and overstaying their welcome.

Where Otolith differ from Subrosa is that they lean more heavily on post-metal / atmospheric sludge metal songwriting and it's reliance on building atmosphere, rather than a straight-up doom metal approach. They also feature harsh male death doom vocals as provided by bassist/vocalist Matt Brotherton who is also bassist and vocalist for atmospheric sludge crew Huldra, and I am guessing his presence in the band may be the influence for a more post-metal style of songwriting. It also feels like the classical strings take a more prominent role during Folium Limina's run time, often being pushed right up front rather than acting as a provider of atmospheric layering as was it's main purpose in SubRosa. These differences are not at all jarring however, and The Otolith are very much a continuance of the sterling work begun by SubRosa and I would be very surprised if any fans of the latter didn't enjoy Folium Limina as it still contains those idiosyncrasies that made SR such a compelling and singular doom metal act. Personally, I don't think it is quite up there with the very best of SubRosa, especially More Constant Than the Gods (not much is though), but it is certainly a strong follow-up to SR's final album, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages and is a very welcome continuation of the SubRosa legacy.

4.5/5

Quoted Sonny

Your review sparked my interest Sonny so I checked out "Folium Limina" over the last few days & really enjoyed it. It's probably not something that I'd generally regard as falling into my musical comfort zone but it simply sounds so fresh & is so well executed that it easily won me over in the end. I find it interesting that it's being tagged as a combination of doom metal & atmospheric sludge metal because there's very little sludge metal here other than some sparingly used hardcore vocal yelps. To my ears this is more of a hybrid of gothic metal, doom metal & post metal. The doom riffs are there is droves. The post-metal tag is warranted given the use of stripped back atmospherics & alternative instrumentation while I find it strange that no one has put two & two together as far as the gothic component goes as there's a clear ethereal wave influence to both the female vocals & the instrumentation. Regardless, the six lengthy pieces are all of a high quality, even if they do test your patience a bit. I'd imagine that Ben will probably enjoy this one.

4/5

January 20, 2023 12:18 PM



The Otolith - Folium Limina

Released 21/10/22 on Blues Funeral

Initial thoughts after three or four playthroughs, although I suspect this is an album that will reveal itself more fully as I become more familiar with it:

SubRosa were one of my favourite 21st century bands, their three albums released in the 2010s being among the very best doom metal from that decade, More Constant Than the Gods in particular lodging itself very near the summit of my 2010s metal list. So it was with great disappointment that I learned of their disbanding in 2019 and the apparent loss of a singular-sounding metal band. However, three years later, in this winter of 2022, the bulk of Subrosa's members return with a new album under the name The Otolith, to much rejoicing from yours truly. Thankfully Folium Limina retains all the ingredients that made SubRosa such a compelling listen, be it Levi Hanna's thick, crunchy doom metal riffs, Sarah Pendleton's seductive vocals or the atmospheric and unsettling violin work of Sarah and Kim Pack overlaying proceedings. As with the classic albums, the tracks all clock in at around the ten-minute mark, so give themselves plenty of time to develop without becoming self-indulgent and overstaying their welcome.

Where Otolith differ from Subrosa is that they lean more heavily on post-metal / atmospheric sludge metal songwriting and it's reliance on building atmosphere, rather than a straight-up doom metal approach. They also feature harsh male death doom vocals as provided by bassist/vocalist Matt Brotherton who is also bassist and vocalist for atmospheric sludge crew Huldra, and I am guessing his presence in the band may be the influence for a more post-metal style of songwriting. It also feels like the classical strings take a more prominent role during Folium Limina's run time, often being pushed right up front rather than acting as a provider of atmospheric layering as was it's main purpose in SubRosa. These differences are not at all jarring however, and The Otolith are very much a continuance of the sterling work begun by SubRosa and I would be very surprised if any fans of the latter didn't enjoy Folium Limina as it still contains those idiosyncrasies that made SR such a compelling and singular doom metal act. Personally, I don't think it is quite up there with the very best of SubRosa, especially More Constant Than the Gods (not much is though), but it is certainly a strong follow-up to SR's final album, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages and is a very welcome continuation of the SubRosa legacy.

4.5/5

Quoted Sonny

Your review sparked my interest Sonny so I checked out "Folium Limina" over the last few days & really enjoyed it. It's probably not something that I'd generally regard as falling into my musical comfort zone but it simply sounds so fresh & is so well executed that it easily won me over in the end. I find it interesting that it's being tagged as a combination of doom metal & atmospheric sludge metal because there's very little sludge metal here other than some sparingly used hardcore vocal yelps. To my ears this is more of a hybrid of gothic metal, doom metal & post metal. The doom riffs are there is droves. The post-metal tag is warranted given the use of stripped back atmospherics & alternative instrumentation while I find it strange that no one has put two & two together as far as the gothic component goes as there's a clear ethereal wave influence to both the female vocals & the instrumentation. Regardless, the six lengthy pieces are all of a high quality, even if they do test your patience a bit. I'd imagine that Ben will probably enjoy this one.

4/5

Quoted Daniel

Where I quoted atmospheric sludge metal was more with respect to the songwriting rather than suggesting that it contained any sludge metal. Rightly or wrongly, I always associate atmo-sludge with songs that have a lengthy build to a climax, which is what I was getting at here.


January 20, 2023 07:25 PM

What you're describing there is very much the post-rock component of the atmospheric sludge metal sound Sonny. That characteristic without much in the way of genuine sludge metal is generally regarded as post-metal.

January 20, 2023 07:38 PM


What you're describing there is very much the post-rock component of the atmospheric sludge metal sound Sonny. That characteristic without much in the way of genuine sludge metal is generally regarded as post-metal.

Quoted Daniel

Ah, right you are! Like I've said before, I'm not much of a theorist so you will have to excuse me if I miss the obvious.


January 20, 2023 11:05 PM

I need to make time for this record next week; it slipped past me in 2022 and I may need to make an exception and update my list, by the sounds of it. 

February 02, 2023 06:32 PM

Ahab - The Coral Tombs (2023)

Released 13th January on Napalm Records

German doom metal titans Ahab are back with their fifth full-length, eight years since previous album, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, hit the shelves. In common with all their previous releases, The Coral Tombs is a concept album based on a nautical-themed literary source. This time the aquatic source material is Jules Verne's classic science fiction novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas. Ever since their debut, The Call of the Wretched Sea, with each successive release Ahab have been steadily moving further away from their funeral doom beginnings and on The Coral Tombs, as with Glen Carrig, the band have adopted more of a straight-up doom metal sound similar to the likes of Monolord and Pallbearer, although the real touchstone here is Warning's classic Watching From A Distance, with both Daniel Droste's vocal and guitar phrasing sounding heavily influenced by Patrick Walker on that all-time classic - and anyone who knows anything about my musical preference knows that that will instantly grab my attention!

This doesn't mean that Ahab have abandoned extreme doom metal completely of course and there are several well-placed death doom moments when Droste's guttering growls replace his melancholy cleans and the riffs start their deathly chugging, though usually they are used now as a counterpoint to the mournful sadness of the cleaner sections, such as on Colossus of the Liquid Graves. During a track like this Ahab strike me as a death doom Opeth with the band sounding like they also want to push their progressive credentials a bit. I think Opeth is a fair comparison as I always considered the Swede's to be technically one of the best bands in their field and I think the same is true of Ahab, their instrumental skills and songwriting ability seem to be well in the upper echelons of the doom metal fratenity.

Over the course of their five albums Ahab have done a sterling job of capturing the feeling of being adrift on (or under in this case) the vast and uncompromising oceans of the world, with a loneliness and lack of control over one's destiny that is tangible within the notes of the band's music. This adroitness in so successfully creating such an oppressive, and yet at the same time beautiful, atmosphere is the mark of fantastic songwriters. There are times during The Coral Tombs when you can just picture the Nautilus sailing over breathtaking subterranean vistas, it's crew utterly entranced by the strange beauty of the previously unwitnessed ocean depths, so successfully do the band create these narrative pictures. One of the standout tracks for me is The Sea as a Desert where the band still exhibit some of their funeral doom tendencies, but ally this with a soul-wrenching mournfulness when Droste's cleans sound most like Patrick Walker and make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck!

There are a couple of guest vocal appearances on the opening and closing tracks - Chris Dark of Ultha adds his black metal shrieks to Droste's gutteral utterings on the explosive opening moments of Prof. Arronax' Descent Into the Vast Oceans (which then actually slows to a much more sedate and gentler atmosphere) and Esoteric's Greg Chandler helps out on The MĂŠlstrom with his trademark growls. Neither guest slot is gratuitous and both bring something that Droste obviously felt he couldn't manage alone, but that the music required. So yet again Ahab prove that they are a top-drawer doom metal act, not restricting themselves, but rather drawing on several of it's sub-genres to enable a more expansive and rewarding experience for the listener whilst still presenting an unarguably doom metal release that is both haunting and crushing.

4.5/5

March 06, 2023 02:26 PM

Hexer - Abyssal (2023)

Released 17th February 2023 self-released

I have been a huge fan of Hexer going right back to the first demo in 2015 and was made up to see they were releasing a new album, three years on from 2020's Realm of the Feathered Serpent. The Germans have never been easy to pigeonhole and I think they have made it even more difficult this time around with an album that spans several genres and displays multiple influences, all whilst retaining that bassy, cavernous and hypnotic vibe they have employed since day one. Abyssal employs aspects of death, black and sludge metal then twists them together with elements of psychedelia for a hypnotic, acid-fuelled trip through an extreme metal landscape. The effect is most reminiscent of a band like Oranssi Pazuzu or, more specifically their spin-off, Waste of Space Orchestra.

There have been some big changes in the Hexer camp since the release of Realm of the Feathered Serpent with the band being reduced to a duo and guitarist / vocalist Marvin Giehr being the only remaining member from that album's lineup. The other member is new drummer Melvin Cieslar, so Abyssal is an album lacking the keyboards from RotFS, resulting in a stripped-back presentation with less thickness to the sound, particularly at the bottom end and no building of atmospheric layers. The tracks are generally quicker-paced and as there is considerably less doom metal influence, Abyssal sounds more savage and aggressive. Also gone, in the main, are any post-metal build-up and release elements that did feature from time to time on the band's previous material, thus adding to that more feral sound. I guess to some folks this all sounds like Abyssal is a lesser release than it's predecessor, but I must disagree. The songs are more focussed and immediate than the sometimes meandering nature of the tracks on RotFS and as such are, on the whole, more memorable. Whereas Realm... is an album that you can let wash over you and relax you with it's hypnotic nature, Abyssal is more of an album for on the go and firing you up.

In truth, I am not exactly sure how I would genre tag Abyssal. It features so many elements in equal part that it is difficult to definitively label, whether it be death, black, sludge or stoner metal - there is even a throbbing bassline section in opener Katarakt that could be construed as post-punk. Stoner-black... Atmo-death anyone? Fucked if I know! It is however another stand-out offering from a band who don't have any desire to follow any current trend in metal but who are following their own path and have developed a singular sound and good luck to them for that.

Very strong 4/5

March 11, 2023 04:12 PM