ColdWorld – Autumn
The eight years since ColdWorld’s debut Melancholie² has only served to increase the attention on Georg Börner’s one man project, and while the somewhat enigmatic German hadn’t outright said the band was over, the hope for a follow-up dwindled with each passing year. Melancholie² is a record that speaks of emptiness, despair and sadness and is often deemed a starting point for anyone interested in depressive black metal. It’s by no means perfect, but the atmosphere that is captured is one of an artist using his medium to guide him through moments of anguish and with new record, Autumn, that feeling is wrought in ever more stunning ways.
“Scars” introduces us to the album on soft, melancholic strains of guitar before Börner’s voice injects the proceedings with icy tones and harsh screams. The atmosphere is one of soul crushing despair and the feeling is carried throughout the record, with moments of heartbreak signalled by climbing strings and sorrowful guitar leads that build to hopelessness before falling away to reveal gorgeous voices cloaked in grief- Emma Frances Skemp’s thrilling turn on “Void” is one such highlight, despite its brief nature.
The contrast between Börner’s severe screams and the clean vocals that occasionally permeate the darkness of “Womb of Emptiness” is huge, adding to the overall feeling of change and the moody undertones that push through the swirling guitars to affect an idea of warmth where there is none. The softer voice lends a light to the track but listen closely and all you’ll find is suffering.
“Autumn Shade” is truly a masterpiece of sadness with the song flowing on gorgeous clean vocals – although tough to make out, the emotional intent is easy to pick up on – and guitars that build their depth around waves of mournful progression. It’s a simple composition but its core holds an affection for the seasonal changes and here it seems as though Börner is working towards the light.
The contrast between darkness and light is ever present on Autumn and where Melancholie² stayed firmly on the wintery side of the fence, ColdWorld’s newest music attempts to convey more complexities through its sounds. A lot can change in eight years and for Börner it’s reflected in the music he is now making, The shimmering pace of “Autumn Shade” is countered by the lamentation of instrumental piece “The Wind and The Leaves” before “Climax of Sorrow” bursts into life on doomy guitars and deliciously cold screams. It’s a track that seems most like the debut with punishing drums, synthesised passages and howls dredged from the outer limits coming together to create a depressive tone that’s black as pitch and infinite in its darkness.
Autumn is a melding of old sounds with modern feelings and for ColdWorld an interesting reflection on where life has taken its creator. There is some hope hidden in its layers, but it may be another eight years before we know whether that desire is borne out.
Listen and purchase here.
Mare Cognitum – Luminiferous Aether
Jacob Buczarski’s solo project is one that spins out on cosmic waves of guitar and stunningly emotional progressions that slip deep into your brain and lodge their rhythmic calls between walls of darkness and mysticism. Mare Cognitum’s (named for a basaltic plain on the moon) fourth full length trips on light-filled, shimmering guitars that cascade through moments of sadness before peaking on mountainous crescendos and speaking of universal truths.
Luminiferous Aether is expansive in its scope and the lyrical themes, while rooted in otherworldly dimensions, can be applied to all human life and it’s here that Buczarski excels. “Constellation Hipparchia” speaks of learning to see the world for what it is, striving for knowledge and to be known while “Occultated Temporal Dimensions” falls deeper into the subconscious and talks of learning from past mistakes in order to move forward.
“Heliacal Rising” starts the album on truly sorrowful notes that are layered over echoing guitars and Buczarski’s gruff howls, introducing the record as one of majestic sadness steeped in atmosphere and awe at how big the unknown really is. It’s immediately captivating and the opening song sets the scene beautifully for what follows.
“The First Point of Aries” fires to life in much more delirious patterns with the guitars ramping up the pace considerably and layering the sounds over Buczarski’s cries, almost hiding them completely in their climbing inflections and allowing the music to shine brightly instead and giving a nine minute song the ability to engross for the entire time without wondering when it all might end. It’s a tough trick to pull off, but Mare Cognitum are able to hold the attention through fluid movements of guitar and intelligent subject matter.
Luminiferous Aether closes on “Aether Wind” and iridescent formations of sounds that move through sadness during moments where Buczarski overlays deeper, doomier vocals onto his usual guttural register in order to expand on abyssal themes that permeate his music. Mare Cognitum’s grasp of space and the outer reaches is one that bears repeated listens and will reveal ever more layers as time goes on.
Listen and purchase here.
Oskoreien – All Too Human
Oskoreien have been a little on the quiet side of late, last releasing an album in 2011 and coming back earlier this year with a contribution to a split with Botanist and then a brand new full length to boot. The one man project from California’s Jay Valena has grown and expanded its sound in the intervening years, and since Oskoreien, Valena has been working hard to curate a concept that eschews the traditional themes of black metal and updates it for the modern age. Loosely based on the concept of free will – do we have it, or are we slaves to decisions our brains have already made for us? – and the story of Charles Whitman (a story I won’t pretend to know much about, so please click on the link).
In “Moai” Valena speaks of standing as a statue while the world turns around us, and the music reflects that notion in its doomed elegance and fuzzed out guitar progressions, in the voice that screams of passive observation and in the sorrow that filters through. A sorrow that continues into “Green & Maroon” and it’s discordant moments that throw an uncomfortable aura into the mix – all fuzzed out guitars and weird rhythmic strikes – before building back into harsh screams and pummelling drums.
All Too Human often moves away from the usual black metal tropes and in “Ab Aeterno, ad Infinitum” the fuzzy guitars take away any notions of beauty that came before and the beat of the drum is so pronounced as to be unnerving. Oskoreien plays with the idea that black metal should be eternally cold and instead injects the genre with a freshness and a somewhat indie/post-rock/grunge vibe at times. In an ever evolving landscape, Valena is one musician who can be relied upon to consistently try something new and the sounds here are infinitely different to those found on his debut. Where Oskoreien often strived for beauty and included gorgeous instrumental sections, All Too Human instead hunts for the darkness found in the subconscious and allows it to breathe.
“My Flesh Is But a Vessel” closes out Oskoreien’s second full length on doomy movements that are weighted with distortion and cries for redemption in a world that is slowly disintegrating before us. All Too Human’s closing moments are shot through with hopelessness and abject terror for many things that we are unable to change, despite thinking that we have the power to do so. It’s a sadness that many may not have thought could exist, but after delving beneath the surface we learn that free will may not be something any of us have.
Listen and purchase here.