Starting life under a different moniker, Stephen Trepak’s Annexia is the sound of movement, closure and despair. Trepak’s (also of Human Future) foray into doomed electronica takes steps towards black metal, sludge and post-metal all while encompassing an atmosphere that speaks of change and acceptance. Leaving behind the past is a huge upheaval, but on Egress, Annexia try to come to terms with the fact that that past cannot be changed and instead we must embrace it and move forwards. “An Introduction, Of Sorts,” welcomes the future on soft flowing and intricate horns that gently push for space between the rhythm and call to mind Ulver, in their latter incarnation – an inflection that is carried throughout the record and lends it an epic and melancholy cohesion.
South African metal may not be super familiar to fans of the genre, but the continent plays host to a great many interesting metal bands, so much so that Wildernessking member Keenan Nathan Oakes collected together six of the best, and current, metal bands South Africa has to offer in a compilation entitled Secret Ceremonies. This is Volume I of what will hopefully be a long running series and a collection of incredibly different sounds – from the gorgeous instrumental post-rock of Strage, to the cold harshness of Nihil, and everything in between. South Africa is a interesting place, and its music follows suit. Each song heard here is exclusive to the release and while it’s only available digitally for the time being, it will be released on vinyl later this year.
Ahhh, the good ol’d end of year list. It’s time, once again, to write down a whole heap of records that I thought were super good. But not before I reflect on 2014 as a whole. Let’s see. I lost my job – boo-urns. I found a really cool new job – hooray! I turned thirty – yikes! I heard some excellent music, I met some incredible people, I saw great live performances and I got to visit America with the money I gained from being made redundant.
Gilead Fest was honestly one of the greatest experiences of my life. I spent the weekend with my best friend and his lovely lady, and some of the most passionate, dedicated and downright amazing people I have ever had the privilege to meet. There are too many to mention, but for everyone who made that weekend so damn memorable, I thank you. I can’t wait to come back.
Usually I get super introspective at this time of year and this list is preambled with a whole load of shit that happened but I’m trying this new thing where I look forward and not back. So 2015, I am ready for you. I move house on January 2nd, my job is really interesting and there’s a career in there if I want it. Writing is going well and I’m already planning some really exciting things for the first few months of the year – visiting new places, putting on bands and seeing the release of a new Caïna record. It’s busy, but I’m enjoying life quite a lot right now, something I would not have believed if you said this to me at this point last year.
As is customary, here’s a picture of something really metal lest you all think I’ve gone soft in my old age.
Often I have bands send me a nice email asking if I’d like to hear some music. I like that, I like hearing new things that I may not have found otherwise. Sometimes I have bands who I have been in touch with previously send me something they think I might like. And I like that too. What I don’t like is when I take forever to write something about those bands. Life is busy and I don’t do enough on here. The Round Up Tapes this time is five bands who have submitted themselves, or have been submitted by someone I have dealt with before. Enjoy!
Barbelith – Mirror Unveiled
Baltimore’s Barbelith attack black metal with a sly atmospheric tone that creeps beneath their otherwise harsh sounds and lifts their music into the more intriguing category of USBM. The band are raw where it counts and beautiful where it matters with Mirror Unveiled flowing from fast, staggering black metal to gorgeous arrangements of softer movements that layer the epic “Astral Plane” from beginning to end in light and shade. Harrowing screams from Barbelith’s frontman stand against the darkness and encompass the anguish that is held within their walls of sound. Highly recommended.
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.
Saor aren’t an entirely new prospect, having began life in 2012 as Àrsaidh, yet Aura is a significant step up from the debut Roots and an incredible testament to learning, growing and becoming better. On Aura, sole member Andrew Marshall takes everything he has and creates a record of constant movement and power while also staying true to the roots of the band and being essentially, a lovesong to his homeland of Scotland.
This time around, Marshall allows other musicians to mark their mark on his sounds and Aura features performances from Panopticon’s Austin Lunn on drums and violin/strings are provided by the hardest working player in the business, Johan Becker. The traditional elements of the music are still in place yet everything seems so much more solid, rounded and thought out. That’t not to say that Roots wasn’t an exceptional record, but that time is a glorious thing and Aura benefits from it immensely.
Forming in Oklahoma City, Idre are a melancholic, earthy and hypnotic entity. The former trio (now duo for the time being due to bassist Andon Whitehorn recently taking his leave of the band) are a delicious entry into the atmospheric sphere and their sound is quite difficult to pin down. Taking in elements of doom, sludge, drone and noise, even a martial beat (Nicholas Wojcik) during second track “Witch Trial”, Idre travel the path towards oblivion in many different ways yet their gloomy aura is coherent and each passage moves deftly into the next without losing track of the core of the band.
Vocals are sparse but delightfully gothic in tone with guitarist Ryan Davis adding a new sphere of darkness to proceedings with the recordings on this two track full length taking on a somewhat doomed country feeling at times – think True Widow or Earth’s latest for comparisons – and the sprawling, sculpted landscapes of sound the record conjures are truly mesmerising.
The duo behind Sunwølf haven’t been creating music as this project for all too long, with their first record Beyond The Sun coming out less than two years ago, yet these two gents are far from strangers and their musical lineage goes back much further than 2012s initial offering.
Beholden To Nothing and No One is an incredibly dense record and the double disc format serves to separate the harsher, heavier tones of the band from the more ambient structures that they are capable. Each side has its own feel, language and sound and it’s truly astonishing that so much work has fallen from the minds of only two people. The record begins with the gorgeous “In The Darkened River I Found The Silence Loom” with Sunwølf incorporating vocals on their music for the first time.
Cult Of Luna’s curated Beyond The Redshift festival was an incredible experience. Each and every act I managed to see impressed and the organisation and atmosphere of the whole event was extremely on point. There’s something very special about being able to look out across a venue and see hundreds of people collectively lose their minds to what is happening in front of them.
Beyond The Redshift was fantastic and so I’ve collated some little write ups and a few pictures and videos (taken with instagram, naturally) in order to somehow express just how enjoyable the day was. As I’m a one person publication and a girl has to have a break to eat now and then, I wasn’t able to see everyone I wanted (God Is An Astronaut suffered due to a much needed coffee break) but I caught a good majority of the groups I was interested in.
Bleak Metal is very excited about the inaugural Beyond The Redshift Festival which is taking place across three London venues on May 10th. The Cult of Luna curated event is primed to be a wonderful day of interesting music with each band carefully chosen due to the aesthetic and atmosphere they bring to the live arena. Having been lucky enough to witness a few of these bands on stage already, I’m very much looking forward to experiencing their full aural attitude along with some new names to my ears and eyes.
I wanted to bring attention to a few of the bands I am already eagerly anticipating – both acts that I know will enthrall as well as those which I am yet to encounter. The line-up is incredible and for the very first event is downright too good to be true. Let us take a closer look at Beyond The Redshift and the bands involved.
Cult of Luna’s Johannes Persson says:
“We will have Klas join us for a special two-hour set. We don’t like talking about set lists so we won’t discuss what songs we will play. We’re taking the audience through a show, a rollercoaster of dynamics; we don’t want to destroy the surprise element.
We’ll reveal exact stage times for all bands soon, but you should know that all the other bands in The Forum will play full one-hour sets, as will Amplifier in The Dome. The venues are a 7-8 minute walk apart, and The Forum and The Dome won’t clash, so hopefully you’ll be able to see everything you want to see.
The cosmological redshift is caused by the expansion of space. The wavelength of light increases as it traverses the expanding universe. Unable to assume that we have a special place within this universe, the redshift suggests to us that everything is moving away from everything else…
We may not be able to go beyond the redshift, but we can certainly think beyond it. We are bringing together artists who expand within their space – artists who create something special within this space.”