Independent

Noire: The Tracks of the Hunted

Noire - The Tracks of the Hunted album coverA bold and elegant piano greets us as an opening intro to this self-released EP by Canada’s Noire. And as track two opens, we are next greeted by a bold guitar, prominent and purposeful playing it wanders about and it’s nearly seven odd minutes until we have drums and electric guitar join us.

The meanderings of the earlier solos were pleasant, but I felt a little long-winded as this is only an EP after all. Now we have a traditional band presence we have gruff vocals accompanied by clean technical guitar and snappy drums.

I would imagine that Dream Theater or Opeth fans might dig this, but it’s too clean for my tastes! It is looking to meld black metal sensibilities with acoustic interludes, like many do these days, and Noire have approached from a technical and less organic stance. The title track is riff heavy, but then track four “The Sound of the Void” sounds like a Buddhist prayer bowl being played with its wooden stick, and “There is Nothing Left” is heavy in the acoustic intros again.

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Serpentskirt: Spirit Race

Serpentskirt - Spirit Race album cover Date Released: 02/02/2016
Label: Independent
Album Type: EP
Album info: Bandcamp

After dropping a handful of demos, Candace Miller (baritone guitar/vocals) and Devlin Goldberg (drums/vocals), the two-piece better known as Serpentskirt, have released their debut EP, Spirit Race.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Serpentskirt juggle elements of the occult with doom undertones and cover them nicely in a blanket of witch rock.

“Little Poison” kicks things off with a gentle, yet gritty riff. One of the first thing you’ll notice are the beautiful vocals. I’m not sure who is singing lead, Candace or Devlin, but it really doesn’t matter. “With Wolves” keeps things going with a similar vibe, and a slightly heavier mid song guitar riff picks up the pace a bit.

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Hortlak: S/T

Hortlak album cover Date Released: 01/26/2016
Label: Independent
Album Type: Full length
Album info: Bandcamp

There’s only one word for the recent venomous death metal wickedness comes out from that El Paso, Texas. Hortlak. And sudden death happened! These Texan death metallers have brought their self-titled debut album, wrapped in a massive musical development, which confronts the listener with tones of old school Swedish death metal to modern American death metal influences.

At first listens, Hortlak may sound like a mediocre album which has nothing special in itself. But after giving it more spins it definitely sounds a like a classic death metal release. Its sharp and definite production totally keeps the music away of any muddy, murky moods, keeping the listeners very close to the catchy riffs and groovy drums which is programmed by Mike, the bassist of the band. Kyle, the vocalist has done a perfect job. His massive guttural voice is psychotic and it completely has its own positive place in the music of the album, offers more brutality pushing the music.

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Sonic Mass: You People Never Learn…

Sonic Mass - You People Never Learn... album cover Date Released: 01/24/2016
Label: Independent
Album Type: Full Length
Album info: Bandcamp

Sonic Mass have been with us for nearly ten years, whilst previously being known as Acid Temple, they cunningly changed their name to Sonic Mass, releasing their debut album All Creatures Strange in December 2013, and all seemed rather quiet it appeared, until I found this new release at the end of January 2016.

Sonic Mass are a fuzzed up, dirty sounding bluesy stoner sonic rock band from London, UK this four piece really keep a Blue Cheer style vibe alive with an aural assault with punchy and to the point tracks such as “Biker Satania” and the longer “Butcher of Brogdael.”

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Rebel Wizard: Invocation of the Miserable Ones

Rebel Wizard - Invocation of the Miserable Ones cover Date Released: 12/11/2015
Label: Independent
Album Type: EP
Album info: Bandcamp

This is the ‘New wave of Negative Metal’ so he says. I love it. NWONM.

This certainly has a 1980s sound to it, the new release by solo Australian artist known as Nekrasov who has put out a handful of cassette releases in the last year or so. It’s Judas Priest rhythms with Megadave shredding and goblinesque vocals. Quite entertaining. Screaming vocals, not any idea what he is on about I’m afraid. but with titles like “One the Unknown Self they Ride,” I really wish I did! There’s some good chugging style guitar at times, even sounding like a dual guitar attack, but as he seems to be a solo artist, I guess it’s not a great “live” experience.

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Horse Head: Missionary

Horse Head - Missionary album cover Label: Independent
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 09/25/2015
Band info: Facebook

Horse Head sound fun. Not only have they graced the stage with Napalm Death and Municipal Waste, they have also played little gigs in people’s homes, packing them out with speaker stacks and doom loving frenzied sludge freaks, blasting the neighbourhood with their rampant sludge doom!

My kinda people! This new self released EP kicks off with a beast of a title track, a barrage of drums and crashing cymbals with some interesting guitar work that really elevates this to another level. Vocals differentiate between rasping howls and guttural bellows, whilst the drummer peals through his skins with a constant cymbal assault there’s an interesting use of stereo effects which disoriented me, which is always good!

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BOG: Auguste/Gustave

BOG - Auguste + Gustave album covers Label: Independent
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 09/07/2014 + 04/01/2015
Band info: Facebook

Multi-instrumentalist and all around jack of all trades Tim Primbs is the post-metal entity known as BOG. He has released two EPs under that name within the last year. The Vienna, Austria based musician dropped Gustave back in September of last year, and Auguste this past April.

“Inanimate” kicks things off on Gustave with a slick, chunky riff reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days,” albeit slower and tuned down. Heavy, plodding chords pace and control the song, with one briefly amazing glockenspiel filled interlude. This is only the second time I’ve ever that instrument used in metal, and it was tight. The first was on Porcupine Tree’s “Anesthetize.”

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Twilight Fauna/J. Christensen: Split

Twilight Fauna + Jennifer Christensen - Split album cover Label: Independent
Album Type: Split
Date Released: 12/15/2015
Band info: Facebook

I have played this many times, and tried to write some thoughts about it and I haven’t known where to start. You could say these two sound pieces are two sides of the same coin, or two sides of the same release anyway.

Jennifer Christensen offers the track “Sickness unto Death,” a bleak strings based affair. It sounds like cellos and violins, as if Sherlock Holmes is struggling on a two pipe problem. A six-minute tune, which is probably much quicker than two pipes, it does seem to end too soon for my own particular taste. It feels to me as if it is opening up for a more grander piece, and it leaves me wanting. Maybe this is intended, as the title suggests death and I am left with a feeling of unfinished business.

The second side is Twilight Fauna’s “Crossing the Threshold.” Is this the next installment? After the death one crosses the ultimate threshold. It opens with a relentless black metal guitar sawing with some distant golumesque vocals. A very spooky setting indeed. The breathy vocals come forward as the guitar eases as Twilight Fauna are very good at, and with one last rasping gasp the pedal is put firmly to the metal and the buzzing guitar ensues.

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Make: The Golden Veil

Make - The Golden Veil album cover Label: Independent
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/17/2015
Band info: Facebook

On their second full length The Golden Veil, Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Make are back with their first new release in four years. The band have crafted a damn near perfect record, one that infuses unrestrained doom laden chords with epic post-metal riffage.

Rain. Thunder. White noise. Acoustic guitar. Feedback. The instrumental opener “I Was Sitting Quietly, Peeling Back My Skin” gets things going in dramatic yet calm fashion.

You can feel a sense of urgency begin to swell as the guitar chord gets yanked from the amplifier and the drums kick in on “Breathe,” a song with a repetitive, mounting intro that had me bouncing my legs and desk drumming while I waited for the vocals to commence. They do eventually… some three minutes and ten seconds later.

This type of long, drawn out intro is one of the elements that I absolutely love about a Make song. While the tranquilizing “Immortal” doesn’t have an extra long introduction, it does have hypnotic guitar driven rhythms and clean vocals, which work very well.

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