Fragile Branch releases.

Great oaks grow from tiny acorns…. and with this crop of fine releases a fragile branch soon becomes a tremendous forest!

Vials of Wrath - Cover1
Vials of Wrath offer us a blend of theatrical blackened ambience alongside more traditional black metal with a nature themed content, however we are led to believe by the biog that it discusses the ideas around a supreme being creating the flora and fauna. An interesting concept for this genre, as it’s not the overt satanic, or anti-Christian themes, nor does it appear to be the neo pagan ‘back to nature’ ethos of Wolves in the Throne Room and their ilk. More like ’marvel at your environment and think about our interaction with these surroundings and what power created it all’ Is this the first Intelligent Design black metal offering?

Musically it is very controlled and vastly competent. A balance of beauty and chaos; whether it is the atmospheric ambient electronics, or the emotive highs and lows of the guitar work, it bubbles over the deeper, darker bass and drum work that elude to the chaos within, packaged together with the gurgling strangulation styled vocals. Another way of representing the energies of nature, beautiful chaos!

At times the strumming reminds me of 80s goth bands like the Nephilim but updated with the tumultuous buzzing black metal guitar. ‘Burning Autumn Leaves’ includes some excellent southern European folk guitar elements which fades to reveal a change in vocal style, much deeper moving in to the Carl McCoy territory. ‘Silhouettes Against the Sun’ delivers a beautiful semi acoustic interlude before ‘A Cleansing Prayer’ binds the whole album together, peppering the tune with all aspects of the Vials canon.

Fragile Branch Recordings are releasing this as a deluxe cassette package – I am unsure what this means, what super extras to expect, but it does include bonus track ‘Within the Grey’. And you better look sharp as there will only be 100 of these beauties available.
Endless Voyage x - Cover1

A one-man outfit (Jake) in the burgeoning blackened doom landscape, Endless Voyage X hold nothing back with a slow rhythmic drum beat, and chainsaw guitar, accompanied by harsh sandpaper infused vocals on their new 4 track EP ‘Those Who Time Forgot’. Themed around oceans and oblivion, I see the story play out across the songs as the main character accepts his solitude and isolation being lost at sea, and becomes at one with the abyss and eventual oblivion. A fantastical fictional tale or allegory of deeper feelings and emotional disconnect with the world around us.

This album builds on last years ‘Darker Seasons’ which held similar iconic oceanic archetypes, or maybe Jake is the Herman Melville of blackened doom….
‘Perpetual Misfortune’ includes some soaring guitar riffs that really pull on your heartstrings, emotive anxieties powered by the more abdominal lower end churning guitar. This is more abrasive than the Vials of Wrath release, however there are still elements of calm and solitude such as the aptly named ‘Melancholy’ track. Surging waves of guitar and powerful smack-down kerrangs pummel me as I become ‘At One with The Abyss’ during listening to this track I was interrupted by a ‘We Fight Any Claim’ cold call – Arrgh! Which way to the abyss please??
Wreche - cover1

This leaves me with Wreche. Piano and drums black metal…. Black metal has become a genre that pushes boundaries in the way avantgarde jazz did 50 years ago. Although this may dismay the purists, (as did free jazz back in the day) it is a very interesting sonic development. Wreche are not for the faint hearted. The piano is taken over by a creature that has lost their vocal language and is desperate to communicate with us. A fraught, intense pounding of the keys is sometimes married with the rolling drums, or at times they go their separate ways.

The piano is not an obvious lead instrument for this genre, however, the chaos, frustration and inner turmoil of modern depressive black metal is played out well here, although the vocals are a little on the quiet side, I can’t make them out, as the piano takes such a centre stage, like a possessed Theolonious Monk or Thunderclap Newman!

It isn’t easy listening, I have to say, overall it is like Prokofiev played backwards during a thunderstorm!

 

These Triumvirate see releases on May 26th 2017.  Check label details here:

https://fragilebranch.bandcamp.com/

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