Despite what you might have thought, we are back. Not only did we not slack off (as usual) but we actually went ahead and got you a bunch of really good (and some not so good) indie material for you to check.
These guys come from all over Europe, from Spain, Finland and Germany. Their differences, of course, are not limited to geography, as they represent a wide spectrum of genres.
Some of these releases have been out for a while, but since we’re making up for lost time, and they’re mostly self-released records anyway, we thought it’d be worth to give them a shot.
[section label=”Conjuro Nuclear – Conjuro Nuclear”]
Conjuro Nuclear – Conjuro Nuclear
Label: Independent Release
Sometimes we really shouldn’t judge a book (or a record) by its cover. If I was to go by their cover, from the MSPaint-esque quality of the colors to the Goth-ish bloody font (in electric green, for some reason) I would say that this is pure shit. Although the promo described Conjuro Nuclear as “Psychodelic black metal”, my experience with PR companies is that they’ll do anything to hype a band, even if it means just making shit up as they go; as a result, I thought that Conjuro Nuclear were just going to be a run-of-the-mill indie black metal band. I was wrong.
While I’m usually reluctant to give credit to sub-genres of sub-genres, the truth is that “psychodelic black metal” is just… appropriate. With a sound that is at times reminiscent of the keyboard-infused blackness of Burzum, the thrashier black metal of Darkthrone, mixed with some 80’s goth and stoner vibes, Conjuro Nuclear are a band that simply defies definition by conventional standards. Their music is something that you simply need to listen to really grasp.
Although not aiming at being considered an “atmospheric” album (like Burzum‘s Sôl austan, Mâni vestan, for example) here Conjuro Nuclear succeed at creating a sense of unease throughout, keeping you on your toes the whole time. If nothing else, this is an album that was made to be the soundtrack to a cocaine-infused highway pursuit that will end up in chaos and death.
While the album is, without a doubt, a magnificent product, it would have packed a much greater punch with a more polished production. True, the cacophony would perhaps be lost in a cleaner mix, and the threat level might take a hit, but a mix where the levels are managed in a more competent way, and in which the growls and the music are given an adequate time to shine, is just a must for music of this quality. Still, don’t let this deter you from checking these guys out; as a friend said, what they lack in production they make up for in atmosphere… and what an atmosphere!
[section label=”The Witch – Black Flower Field”]
The Witch – Black Flower Field
Label: Independent Release
I have a tendency to make judgment calls on bands before I’ve heard a single note of their music; with a name like The Witch, I assumed the music would be of the stoner variety, specifically the current trendy occult rock side of stoner metal. Since there are a ton of bands with the word “witch” in their name, and many of them are part of that niche, I thought I was drawing a safe conclusion. Surprisingly, while Black Flower Field, the band’s latest EP, does have some stoner tendencies, they are not in the direction I expected it to go at all.
“Skeleton Soul” opens the EP with a sound clip from one of my favorite movies, Pulp Fiction, before going into a super crunchy riff that reminds me of Leviathan-era Mastodon. In fact, that’s what mostly what the music reminds me of, the progressive-minded sludge/stoner metal of bands like Mastodon and Baroness. While I was expecting slower, moodier tunes, with a retro style production, a lot of fuzz on the guitar and bass tones, there is some fast heavy riffing, huge drums, rumbling bass, and vocals that are half sung, half screamed. The big draw here are the riffs, with loads of melody packed in them and a lot of great lead guitar work (“Hellride” is the best example of this, as it packs all the elements of the EP into one song). The production is excellent, the levels are high enough to let you hear every member of the band without any trouble, while not being overpowering on the volume.
The only issue I have is that the band sounds a little too much like Mastodon; while Mastodon are a great band, and great bands tend to inspire a lot of new bands to explore similar sounds, The Witch aren’t exactly subtle in their love for them. That’s not to say that it’s a soulless rehashing of old Mastodon songs, since there is certainly a lot to like here, but it just doesn’t really differentiate itself from them enough for my liking. The Witch are an excellent band, and have a lot to offer, I just hope to see them try some new things on their next record.
[section label=”Rahu – The Quest for the Vajra of Shadows”]
Rahu – The Quest for the Vajra of Shadows
Label: Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions
It’s incredibly audacious and uniquely rewarding when a band whose music is so deeply historically-rooted in the ideology of a certain culture begins to take inspiration from elsewhere. Occultism and primitivism are hardly the freshest themes you can employ in your new black metal project, but a Scandinavian black metal band taking thematic cues from far-Eastern mythology? Now you’ve got me interested. Finnish duo RAHU take this to heart in order to deliver a full-length full of vibrant and cosmic black metal with lyrical roots in Eastern mysticism, Vedic astrology and Hindu mythology.
From start to finish, The Quest for the Vajra of Shadows (not the snappiest title in the world) feels like a total journey. The band’s main influences are clearly more close to home, however. Initially, the album feels built from the ground up to mimic all the typical cues of a black metal release, but soon after you’ll find a lot more references taken from more progressive USBM artists such as Bosse-de-Nage and early Deafheaven. More unconventional influences display themselves too when the band approaches the more ‘cosmic’ feels of the album, with some almost psychedelic, blues-esque guitars and amazingly intricate drums that pummel, groove and crush all at the same time.
The lyrics really strengthen the record too, evoking imagery as deep and rich as the vivid cover art that portrays the album’s content perfectly. If you’re looking for a unique approach to occult black metal with some space-rocky vibes, check it out. Like bands such as Dressed In Streams, the unique portrayal of tried-and-tested themes are worth a listen just for that. Namaste.
[section label=”Goats of Doom – Ashes from the Past”]
Goats of Doom – Ashes from the Past
Label: EE Records
Nobody likes to be compared to someone else. If you’re a musician, to hear “you sound like…” is probably annoying, especially if you want to make your own mark in the genre. Sometimes, however, it is impossible not to make these connections when you listen to a new band. Thankfully, that’s not always a negative thing
In their EP Ashes from the Past, Goats of Doom (“GOD”), a black metal band from Finland, deliver three unforgiving and powerful satanic tracks that will certainly please the fans of the genre. They seem to have spared no expense in producing a really solid release, paying close attention to the production; personally, it is really refreshing when a black metal band goes out of their way to make sure the production really does justice to the music, without falling into the obnoxious trend of underproducing it to be “kvlt”. While it is by no means a super clean and polished record (and it sure as hell shouldn’t!) it is nice to see that the music doesn’t come off as just noise.
If you’re a fan of black metal, then when you listen to this EP bands like Watain and Dissection will definitely come to mind; and for good reason. GOD really take a melodic approach to black metal, in a way that is really reminiscent of what both of those bands have produced. For a band as young as GOD, to be put in the level of such gigantic black metal acts might seem like an overstretch, but the truth is that these guys really have everything they need to be at that level.
Still, with only 3 songs to speak of, it is hard to make a fair assessment of what GOD is capable of doing in the long run. While, as I said, the parallel with Dissection and Watain is definitely not a negative thing, I’m really looking forward to see what they are capable of doing once they find their own voice. If in just 3 tracks they were able to keep me on the edge of my seat and create an unnerving feeling, I’m sure that in a full length they’ll have me climbing up the walls.
Give them a shot.
Well, that’s it for now! Tune in next Wednesday to see what new demos we’ll have for you!