The Round Up Tapes is generally a “hey, I liked this and maybe you will, too,” kind of deal, but sometimes I get sent albums that I may not have come across otherwise – the world of music is huge, of course, and hearing everything is nigh on impossible. With that in mind here are three debut records that were sent my way recently that I enjoyed and perhaps you will too. They all encompass metal in various ways – whether it’s the more straightforward black metal of Bleakwood, or the melancholy of Dawnwalker or the doomed passages from STAHV – but all of the music featured here is passionate and worth your time.
Bleakwood – Solypsis
Dissonance is often found in music that seeks to bridge the gaps found between the light and the dark and for Australia’s Bleakwood, Solypsis aims to work through that void and make sense of the spaces in between. Despite being active for around ten years or so, Bleakwood are only now releasing a debut album – although they have not been quiet for that entire time. Founded by Dan Nahum (who plays in a number of bands already), Bleakwood is a vehicle to explore the personal; much darkness can be found in Solypsis and discord is evident from the very beginning.
Ostensibly a black metal record, Solypsis traverses the abyss in harsh tones; cold guitars, guttural vocals, and a veil of darkness while incorporating elements of doom to push the claustrophobia ever further. “Narthex” begins the journey on disjointed guitars and more than a touch of the weird and it’s here that Bleakwood set out their tools for the voyage into the pitch black. Towering guitars teeter on the brink of the abyss while Nahum’s voice brings a sense of unbalance to proceedings; dredged from the caverns of the mind his voice lays over all in desolate tones.
“Compilers” is weird to the bitter end with jagged guitars playing seemingly out of tune which brings a genuine feeling of anxiety to the track. The doomed death metal of “Phrenograph” marks the point of no return with a sound that sways with tension from the opening and doesn’t let up until the closing moments.
Solypsis is a tricky record to dig into but the rewards are plenty; the gorgeous serenity that intersperses “Otherness -to Purity” and its sublimely harsh vocals or “Précis” and its disgustingly trippy beats – there’s much to discover on this record.
You can purchase Solypsis here.
Dawnwalker – Human Ruins
Dawnwalker describe themselves as “soft green metal” which may not go very far in the new band endearing themselves to potential listeners. However, look past the descriptor and you will find a genuinely lovely post-metal record that is awash in glittering light and moments of serenity tempered by occasional harshness. This contrast enables the band to move further into blackened territory without losing the emotional thrust of the work.
Human Ruins is an assured debut from ex-members of Interiors and the experience shines through their music; Marc Norgate’s clean vocals are sublime and pack a weighty and emotive punch while the climbing guitars do much to push the sorrow behind the words. “Into the Night” and “Abyss” together create moments of pure sadness within their framework and buried beneath it all is an up-swell of grief that constantly threatens to completely overtake.
“White Winds” takes a different route to desolation by incorporating blackened vocals (Dane Cross, also of Sacred Son) to ramp up the despair. While it’s a tactic that the band use throughout, it’s not overdone and doesn’t outstay its welcome; instead the screams feel natural and fit the narrative flow of the record succinctly.
Dawnwalker are a new name but with a record like Human Ruins they should be able to move forward with their vision for the future of metal.
You can purchase Human Ruins here.
STAHV – STAHV
STAHV‘s sound is not easy to categorise and on this self-titled debut, the one-man band from Seattle utilises shades of many genres to create a cinematic work; doom, electronica, post-metal, shoegaze – all are small flavours in a record that never sits easily in one place or another.
“Jardin Infinito” begins the record and here can be found doomed country that meanders through synths and twanging guitars – this is an instrumental record and it’s in the little inflections of sounds that the narrative is found. On this first melancholy piece we find our protagonist at the beginning of their journey and as the album moves forward we also find that the character does also.
“Benevolus” feels slightly lighter in its electronic pulses while “Preta Realm” moves in tripped out beats and overwhelming drones that strike deeply and with purpose. “Grüver” then closes out the record on Americana-style guitars and spinning electronics that counteract the pensive mood STAHV began on and instead moves the album into a more optimistic phase, albeit one that is then cut short – future releases will hopefully continue this story.
You can purchase STAHV here.