I like to makes lists. So many lists. My “to do” list is, quite frankly, massive. I thought that instead of trying to do twenty individual reviews that would take approximately one million years, that perhaps once a month I would collect together a few cool little releases that have come my way and talk about them and why they are good. A lot has happened this year (mostly bad, some good) so it would save my sanity because there are not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs doing.
And so, The Round Up Tapes are born. Hat tip to Opeth because I made a play on a name of a release of theirs. I hope that’s cool?
Ainulindalë – Nevrast
Nevrast is a gorgeous, folky and affecting record from the French project Ainulindalë which is centred around Tolkein’s universe and heavily influenced by The Silmarillion. Ainulindalë’s sound is comprised of dark elements that contrast with lighter, sunnier currents that shine through the acoustic progressions of sole member Engwar’s guitar and his voice which carries with it a gorgeous tone that embraces the subtleties of his music and wraps it in warmth and soul. Nevrast incorporates simple movements that link together to create a work that ebbs and flows with a tender grace while Engwar’s vocal layers over majestic strings to lift tracks to a higher plane of beauty. The title track dips into choral lines that slowly build to a brass and a female voice that shimmers with light over the shadows created by the words of Engwar.
Nevrast moves with a refined style that genuinely moves and breathes with a deep-rooted love and knowledge of J.R.R. Tolkein’s work and never comes across as cliché or overwrought. The emotion is honest and the music breathtaking.
Nevrast can be purchased via bandcamp.
Black Shoals – EP
Black Shoals are a incredibly intense UK black metal outfit who meld harsh vocals, wall to wall noise, industrial drum kicks and the occasional glimmer of beauty into an EP which reflects the darkness of the British underground. The Brighton-based trio slide furious guitars over a drum machine and the ravaged vocals of front-woman Marianne add to the deep, dank aura that Black Shoals are creating. The filthy dirge of “1” seeps through the martial beats of the programmed drums while the guitars steadily break and build beauty from dirt. Ambient sections slip into view and swirl with a grimy sensuality with the two guitars working together to bring faint light to an otherwise heady mix of industrial pulses and hate.
Shorter tracks allow Black Shoals to showcase the more stripped down side of their sound but the high levels of ferocity snap back into place on final outing, “5.” EP is an anxiety inducing work, one that creates a feeling of being on edge and one that should see the band move onto to bigger things.
The EP can be downloaded on bandcamp.
Veldes – Skyward
Hailing from Slovenia, Veldes is a one man project from Tilen Šimon of Nephrolith. While still falling within the realm of black metal, Veldes differs from the band in that is treads a much more atmospheric path, one which embraces shades of beauty while reaching out into the cold to find hope. Skyward is a moving, emotional EP that breathes with all the hopelessness of life and the absolute anguish that can go along with it. “Woe Eater” is transfixing while “Of Rain and Moss” fires the imagination and will move you to the very edge of despondency while final track “Gone” is a simple construction that is steeped in melancholy and sorrow. These four tracks are over all too quickly and show much promise for future works.
Skyward is available on bandcamp.