• Interview with Fuck The Facts

    Fuck The Facts drummer Mathieu Vilandre was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions regarding their new album “Pleine Noirceur”.

  • Interview with High Priestess

    We got to speak with High Priestess' guitarist/vocalist Katie Gilchrest, bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel and drummer/percussionist Megan Mullins on their new album “Casting The Circle”.

Déha - Cruel Words | Review

Bearing in mind the image encapsulating this album, a slightly gothic looking skeletal (?) butterfly against a wintery tree backdrop, one could easily pass it by. Though the merest sliver of curiosity might remain. It was this modicum of interest which resulted in me hitting play. Dropping any preconceived notions, I mentally prepared for what was to follow.

"Cruel Words" commences on a post-rock note with "Mine to Break"; a cavalcade of dreamy high chords. However, if there's any track which begs to be ‘stuck with’, it's this one. The rhythm unhurriedly builds in pace accompanied by a passionate voice and an unhurried guitar. And then, abruptly, it's as if the sky falls. The passionate voice amps up in emotion and the aura is that of palpable frustration, anger, grief (draped in pitch black). In short, a fantastic opening which heightens the senses leaving one crushed though especially eager for more. I wasn’t prepared in the slightest.

The second track, "Pain is a Wasteland", smothers the still quivering psyche with a loving caress. Though there's an unmistakable menace lurking beneath the surface, a feeling that at any moment a storm will break the sun's warmth. It does, though not with the same fury the first track exhibited. This is more a slow-burn with a structure much like a nagging migraine which builds to staggering intensity. Fans of Neurosis (and the like) should have their interest perked at this juncture.

The album continues to batter the senses with the utilization (and excellent manipulation) of synth, piano, guitars and a voice overflowing with emotion and range, a combination resulting in an exquisite and definite delicate balance of calm, melancholy and the transition to its direct opposite; a heaviness, a dirge/sludge presence akin to trudging through molten lava.

Staggeringly the quality of this album remains extremely high throughout even though a few tracks dip into double digit lengths it somehow still manages to hold the listener in thrall. Standouts include the opener as well "Dead Butterflies". With a haunting aura which brings to mind Danny Boyle epics such as "Sunshine" and "28 Days Later" there's little doubt that Déha (it is at this point that I should mention this is the artists name, the genius solely responsible for this) could well place cinematic audiences on the edges of their seats if he had such the desire. The album also contains a cover; a re-envisioning of "Saturnine" by The Gathering. However, for the ultimate Déha (goosebump) experience the acoustic reprise of "Mine to Break" is a must listen.

In conclusion, if you've never heard of, or even seen, a Déha album, now is your chance. Understandably, one may have reservations upon audio bursting at the seams with synth attributes, post-rock and sludge sensibilities with an atmosphere as thick as heard here. Drop them and dive in! For the mastery contained herein is perilously close to a religious experience. (9.8/10) 


Band info: https://www.facebook.com/burningworldrecords
Label info: https://www.facebook.com/dehamusic

Read More »

Vokonis - Odyssey | Review

are a Swedish trio from the city of Borås, comprised of Simon Ohlsson – Guitar/Vocals, Jonte Johansson – Bass/Vocals and new(ish) drummer/percussionist Peter Ottosson. Per Wiberg of Opeth, Spiritual Beggars, Kamchatka also makes an appearance on keyboards.

Odyssey is the follow-up to 2019's acclaimed third album “Grasping Time” with artwork by Kyrre Bjurling (artist behind Vokonis' previous works Grasping Time and the reissue of Olde One Ascending). The cover alludes to the naturalistic yet mystical world evoked by the works of Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Atomic Rooster, Uriah Heep) and thus betrays the band's intentions to delve further into prog-rock waters. This will doubtlessly whet the appetite of fans of the proggier wing of sludge/doom metal.

Odyssey starts with its shortest track 'Rebellion' at a mere 3:17 minutes with a crunching heavy metal riff that reminds one of the likes of power metal revivalists Grand Magus, there is definitely a NWOBHM vibe present here. There are also some pleasant melodic Alice In Chains' Layne Staley vocal lines courtesy of Jonte that contrast nicely with Simon's more aggressive approach. A bracing and effective opener that sets the listener up for the album to come. Second track 'Odyssey' brings to mind Oakland psych prog outfit Mondo Drag with the heavy Hammond Organ flourishes, making this a potential psych classic. 'Blackened Wings' takes us back to the conciseness of the opening track and takes a sludgier approach ala Elder who they coincidentally shared a stage with back in the pre-covid era. 'Azure' follows a similar pattern in terms of track length and style but also adds some gorgeous soloing from Simon towards the end that melds effortlessly and brilliantly with Per's Ken Hensley/Jon Lord influenced keyboard playing, all of which make for a thrilling conclusion.

'Hollow Waters' tips its hat to Lateralus/10,000 Days era Tool with strong anguished vocals reminiscent of Maynard James Keenan. The track winds back on the heavy sludge somewhat and embarks on a psychedelic journey into mysterious worlds as intonated by the aforementioned album cover. 'Odyssey' and 'Hollow Waters' may have been longer pieces but they were veritable warm-ups for album closer 'Through the Depths' which is a mammoth 12:48 minutes, an extraordinary piece that further demonstrates the band's ongoing musical maturity. For the first quarter we are met with the band's trademark brand of progressive sludge/doom before being greeted with some beautiful melancholy Blues Jamming which one would have heard from the likes of the late, great Gary Moore. This continues right through to the album's conclusion and proves true the old adage saving the best till last. Without doubt the finest track by a country mile and a perfectly epic way to conclude the album.

Going further down the progressive rabbit-hole like countrymen Opeth could have proved a risky move, thankfully it has paid off and Odyssey is brilliantly balanced between more immediate tracks and longer challenging fare that will appeal to both fans of doom/sludge and vintage prog. (8/10)

Reza Mills

Band info: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialVokonis
Label info: http://thesignrecords.com

Read More »

Spectral Lore - Ετερόφωτος | Review

In so many ways Spectral Lore’s enigmatic Ayloss is the polar opposite of recurring collaborator Jacob Buczarski (Mare Cognitum). Perhaps it’s a disservice to even make this comparison, but the links are plain to see. Both acts are juggernauts of modern atmospheric black metal that have worked together multiple times, most recently on the challenging but exceptional split LP Wanders: Astrology Of The Nine, and now both have released records within only a few short weeks of each other. Despite their clear chemistry when working in tandem, their respective careers are strikingly different. Buczarski’s work has been a consistent, forward-facing development of spacey, melodic black metal. Every record builds and refines the formula of its predecessor, but ultimately the most recent iteration differs little from the first in style. Ayloss’s sound is earthier, yet more abstract. Spectral Lore albums can sound wildly different from each other, so much so that one could wonder if it’s even the same artist at the helm. And yet, amusingly, with Ετερόφωτος it is in the most experimental moments that Ayloss stumbles.

Make no mistake though, there’s a whole lot of solid black metal in the mix here in spite of its missteps. With a hefty 74-minute runtime, there’s a lot of material to sift through. It starts off well, ‘Ατραπός’ tidily stakes out much of the territory Spectral Lore mean to cover across the record. Waves of tremolo riff laden blast beats expertly give way to wonky grooves, clean breaks and post-metal builds to ultimately paint a nuanced, mystical portrait. Five more dense compositions follow that are often challenging to decipher as they dance all across the spectrum of extreme metal. ‘Apocalypse’ is a striking conceptual piece that noticeably gets louder and more chaotic over the course of its eight minutes. The music seems to audibly break apart as mechanical noise is steadily introduced until it’s just the noise itself at the end.

There is a wonderful 54-minute record in Ετερόφωτος. Bizarrely though, the six chief tracks eventually give way to ‘Terean’, a nineteen minute ball of . . . nothing? There’s some unsettling ambience going on, the kind that would suit a brooding arthouse horror film, but it does absolutely nothing for an atmospheric black metal record. It threatens to get interesting with some distant chanting sort of building up in the background near the end, but it amounts to nothing as the track eventually sputters out. An unfitting end to an otherwise great album. (7/10)

Read More »

Årabrot – Norwegian Gothic | Review

Norwegian noise rockers, Årabrot, have been busy. Having only just released the EP “The World Must Be Destroyed” in January, they’re back already with their new album “Norwegian Gothic”. Hardly surprising; when there are no limits to the expansiveness of your sound then multiple releases are required to encompass the sonic fallout. This time around Årabrot are bringing along an entire host of guest musicians for the ride, contributions from Lars Horntveth (Jaga Jazzist), cellist Jo Quail, Tomas Järmyr (Motorpsycho), Anders Møller (Turbonegro, Ulver) and Massimo Pupillo (Zu) are scattered throughout this hour long opus. As if that wasn’t enough, “Norwegian Gothic” was produced by the reputable Jaime Gomez Arellano, who has worked with the likes of Paradise Lost and Hexvessel to provide the best mixing and production quality available within the industry.

Ranging from Ghost/Grave Pleasures sounding hybrids to Nick Cave moodiness and avant-garde jazz, this opus is a kaleidoscopic amalgamation of every facet of the band’s sound. An audial journey through the soundscapes that they have traversed over the years, weirdly this album is Årabrot’s most accessible work to date. With the exception of a couple of spoken word filler tracks, every song on this record has a catchy, danceable beat with a strong overtone of pop musical influences apparent throughout. It’s not without heaviness, however, at its core this is still very much a rock/metal album.

A veritable melting pot of weirdness and instrumental diversity, the only minor downside to this release is the spoken word fillers – thankfully, they’re short and you won’t be missing anything worthwhile if you choose to skip over them. Another major push of the envelope for these Scandinavian experimentalists and the payoff is simply phenomenal. A genuine pleasure to listen to from start to finish, “Norwegian Gothic” is the peculiar gothic party album that 2021 didn’t know it needed. (8.0/10)

Angela Davey

Band info: https://arabrot.bandcamp.com
Label info: https://pelagic-records.com

Read More »

Tune Of The Day: Red Fang's Arrows


As anyone who's caught them live will tell you, Red Fang are downright riff masters and this title track from their forthcoming album "Arrows" will surely become a headbanging, foot-tapping, singalong classic in a regular Red Fang show. Not only this song captures their trademark lush melodies but also rocks out with big, groovy and chunky riffs. 

“It was so gratifying to put these songs on tape with Funk!” says guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles of the album that was produced by longtime collaborator Chris Funk (Murder The Mountains, Whales and Leeches). "It felt very comfortable with a loose schedule. We didn’t take it one song at a time, but added guitars, vocals, or general weirdness whenever an idea sprang to mind. We busted out a hurdy gurdy! It was that fun. Long live Rock!!”

Red Fang know what they do well and they stick to it and if gritty and highly contagious stoner rock is your jam there are few bands who can deliver it better than them, so expect another great album from this Portland-based group. Check out a taste of what's to come from the record with this humorous video for "Arrows" below. 

Read More »

Celestial Sanctuary - Soul Diminished | Review

For someone proclaiming to be a flag-bearer for the new wave of British death-metal, Celestial Sanctuary churn out some generic and sterile old-school flavoured death-metal. 

The band's debut full-length album "Soul Diminished" now available via Church of Road and Redefining Darkness is getting a lot of attention in the underground lately and I can't really understand the hype, not that it's a really bad record per se, but in my opinion it pales in comparison to other robust releases unleashed by Venom Prison and Cryptic Shift

For most of the nine tracks of "Soul Diminished", fast and brutal riffs are intertwined with some uninspired and bland mid-paced riffs that owns more to crossover and hardcore rather than death-metal. Try to imagine any run of the mill groovy metal act from the 90's trying to give some leftover songs a filthy and old-school death-metal twist, there's even the occasional breakdown thrown into the equation. Few tracks deviate from this formula,  with some dull and tedious riffs that  never sound nearly as dangerous or threatening as it should be and a bare minimum of lead work.  

There are however some good moments here, "Relentless Savagery" just like the title indicates shows the four-piece distilling a vicious and ferocious death-metal and "Suffer Your Sentience" that recaptures that decadent, moribund riffing of Obituary and Asphyx. But unfortunately it is not enough to offset the negatives and in the long run "Soul Diminished" won't spearhead any resurgence of the British death-metal scene, better leave that effort to Grave Miasma, Cryptic Shift or Venom Prison, who are all doing a much better job. (5/10)

Jason Hicks

Read More »