Poltergeists: Week of March 20, 2017

Michael

VVITCH - “Homecoming”

This is a super chilled out song from VVITCH. It took me a little bit by surprise at first, but the more that I listened to the track, the more consumed I became. The drum sounds are just complicated enough to keep me interested in what is going on, but not distractingly so. The mix on this song is really well balanced and I think that really helps with the flow once the bass and drums kick in to the main pattern. The artwork too - what initially drew me in - is incredibly on point with the atmosphere of the track. I’m having a hard time deciding whether the song needs to be longer, with a few more pattern changes, or if the current length is why it feels like it flows so nicely, but at any rate it is a great song that could easily fit into a blackgaze album’s interlude.

VVITCH is a Swedish project that has many influences and a really wonderful output. You should check them out on Bandcamp and buy some of their tracks!

Heretoir - “The Circle (Omega)”

It is a little bit sad to me that bands have to declare that they are anti-fascist in advance in this genre, but it is still nice to know! Heretoir make a point to delve deep into the emotional journey of “a life dedicated to the sun and to freedom” with their new album, The Circle. “The Circle (Omega),” is a powerful journey in itself. It is the only preview track up right now on their Bandcamp, so it is hard to say, but this track has such a powerful sound that I hope reflects the rest of the album - from a soft violin, to an intensely melodic verse, to an emotional, screamy chorus section, and back again. The singing reminds me of Alcest a lot, which is not only a good thing but important to note because Neige of Alcest does guest vocals on a different track. The path through this song is very deliberate to its name. The track circles back to the intro violins and adds some more emotion to it before kicking back into the heavier stuff again. I am definitely looking forward to this album’s release on the 24th of this month.

Wes

Mansion - “California Priest”

Mansion was recommended by Aaron Rieseberg in our latest episode, and it is some wonderfully weird and heavy stuff. “California Priest” is an interesting example of how Mansion touches on some poppier sensibilities in the midst of their noise rock deliveries. Low and quiet in the verses, discordance is created with the strange guitar tone against the vocal delivery. When the chorus does hit, it hits hard, bring the noise part of noise rock fully to bear, heavy chords building a wall of sound. At the end of the track, Mansion breaks away into almost a chant, punctuated by a guitar tone that sounds almost like something I would expect from a power electronics group messing with a loop pedal. After the structure of the rest of the song, it is an interesting and effective break to take us into the end.

Mansion was a noise rock band from Oakland, California. Their latest release, Early Life, is a free download on Bandcamp.

Heinali - “Sway, sway”

I was sent Sway, sway as part of the Telekon music exchange, and wow, what a beautiful piece of music. The title track is a wonderful movement of piano - the arpeggios on the lower keys present a backdrop of softness, almost somber. When the higher keys come into play, they initially dance in that beautiful sort of sadness before move even higher and creating a feeling of sort of tense hopefulness. There is a simplicity to the overall sound and delivery of the piece, but the minimalism works incredibly well. I’ve not had this long and have already listened to it  more times than I could count.

Heinali is a composer from Kiev, Ukraine. His latest release, Anthem, is available on Bandcamp via Injazero Records.

Poltergeists: Week of March 6, 2017

Michael

Frostreich - “Empty Again”

I have listened to this song about a dozen times this morning. It hits all of the notes that draw me into a metal song. There is a special quality to a song that makes you just lose your mind by yourself at the kitchen table, and it deserves to be written about. There is a hardcore element to the way this song breaks down a few different times that lives within this kind of blackgaze / atmospheric black metal shell and is masked by the first part of the song. But when the chorus kicks in… holy shit, I lost it. Just the small break with only vocals and a few drums - “Empty again!” - and then back into this breakdown where the choir samples kick in and everything comes back. It is emotionally perfect for the theme. Lost and empty. This breakdown is repeated and altered throughout the song, but it has the same effect. The rest of the album is also very good. There are a lot of different influences that are exorcised throughout Join The Wind, but “Empty Again” is the track that I will definitely come back to again and again. It is a tightly constructed song that moves me. This album will appeal to fans of Harakiri for the Sky in the best way.  

Frostreich is an atmospheric black metal band from Germany and you can grab their latest album, Join The Wind, directly from their Bandcamp.

Deadlife - “Aurora”

I am no stranger to outrun. Lazerdiscs Records is a great place to find the newest outrun releases and I usually comb through their catalog every few months to see what is going on in the futurepast-world of 80s synthesizers, hard dance beats, and fast, colorful cars. Sometimes the best part of the music is the story that the artist tells through the concept of the art and content - and when you look to outrun there are plenty of over-the-top fun plots running through neon worlds. Deadlife is a robot that has lost a lover. The lover, and maker, haunts him in a wonderful concept album. Tracks like “Aurora” are classically pulsing with rhythm and plucky synthesizers, a driving bassline, and a great sense of a dance beat. The voice, presumably the maker mentioned before, drifts through the song with a few mournful praises that give the track a sad energy. It is very good. The final track, “For You”, is a wonderful techno track. It reminds me of some Apoptygma Berzerk tracks in the more dance-happy period of albums like Welcome to Earth or 7.

You can pick up the new Deadlife album, Bionic Chrysalis, on the Lazerdiscs Records Bandcamp page.

Wes

Schwefelgelb - “Aus Dem Hals Der Flasche”

I mean you knew this was coming. Of course I was going to write about the new Schwefelgelb release. The whole release is great, but I really love this track. The percussion in “Aus Dem Hals Der Flasche” is heavily compressed and distorted, creating a really full and interesting sound - it’s the sort of thing you might hear a beginner do on accident to poor effect, but when applied on purpose, as it is here, it creates a texture to the beat that fits the motion of the track. The open hats smashing in create a forward momentum that makes you want to bang your head as much as it makes you want to dance. I’ve probably listened to Dahinter Das Gesicht ten or fifteen times since it was released, and this track stands out every single time.

Schwefelgelb is a techno/EBM duo from Berlin Germany. Their latest release, Dahinter Das Gesicht, is available on Bandcamp via aufnahme + wiedergabe..

Drekka - “Like Yesterday”

This is a beautiful, slow, and thoughtful piece. Soft pads blend seamlessly with quiet strings, punctuated by piano. Soft vocalizations create a almost ocean like wash of sound as they come in and out. The instrumentation is very sparse; every note played or sung feels necessary to the life and emotion of the track. It feels like Drekka cut and cut and cut until the only thing that remained was the core idea, the core feeling, that they wanted to create. It’s the type of piece that you just want to close your eyes, put on headphones, and lay back, letting the emotion of the thing carry you away.

Drekka is musician from Bloomington, Indiana. Their latest release, Golden Braid, is available via Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of February 20th, 2017

Michael

ESA - “The Hold (Tight Grip Remix by ESA)”

Negative Gain Productions have a pretty consistently awesome set of releases and I tend to check in on what they are doing often. This release, though, needs no introduction! ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) is a project that I can count on to be both dance beat heavy and emotional. Jamie has a way of making even the danciest tracks very dark and this EP is no exception! “The Hold (Tight Grip Remix by ESA)” is an epic, and yet somehow more thumpy, version of the original track - which features vocals from Valeriia Moon. The cello intro to the track is great - it has a wonderful dark folk feel and sets the stage for the pulsing, semi-tribal beats that are to come. There is an iVardensphere remix on this EP, but I didn’t review it because Scott is too cool for school and the Tight Grip mix had clear and wonderful cellos.

ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) is the (mostly) solo project of Jamie Blacker and is one of those bands you should see live if you have the chance!  

Threads - “Words That Rhyme With Loneliness”

I have been getting into really minimal lo-fi atmospheric black metal recently. The emotions and the atmospheres are so sincere and mesmerizing. “Words That Rhyme With Loneliness” is one of many great tracks on Thread’s 2016 release As The Pale Chorus. A lot of the tracks contain a lo-fi spoken word section in place of vocals that I highly encourage you to translate if you have a minute. The writing is beautiful and tragic; it passes from hopeful life to a dark and lonely death. Here is a short passage translated from Spanish to English via Google Translate (sorry): “Let us share the same dream and in eternity we will float to the end. We will change our skin into more grayish pigments and we will feed on joy.” It is not just the spoken word that brings me to this song though. There are many different guitar parts playing off each other deep in the background, swelling and evolving to set the tone.

Threads are a lo-fi blackgaze band from Guanajuato, Mexico and you can find their album As The Pale Chorus on their Bandcamp page.

Wes

HØUNDS - “Transfiguration”

HØUNDS sounds, to me, like what you would get if Author & Punisher suddenly got into future bass. “Transfiguration” is the clearest example of this I think. You start with a simple vocal sample, and that sample is turned into a rolling, distorted sort of instrument. Then, you have the almost sludgy doom metal pace of the drums - the weight of every hit of the “snare”, the way the kick ducks the heavy bass. The bass itself, and the way it rolls and is glitched, reminds me of something you might hear from a Saturate artist. I missed this album when it first came out in 2015, and I would really love to hear what HØUNDS is doing now.

HØUNDS is an electronic project from Los Angeles. Their latest album, OUR LOVE, is available on Bandcamp.

Grebenstein - “Black Hatch Dive”

Making an eight minute techno track that doesn’t get boring is quite the feat. There is something about the rolling of the deep bassline that has a gravity to it; it pulls you in with wave after wave. The track is almost hypnotic in the way that it moves - at times, all the percussion fades away, leaving you with that pulsing, rolling bass, and right as you almost forget that the percussion had been there in the first place it drops back in, amping up the energy of motion in the song. The changes as you move forward are small and subtle, but have a significant impact on the feeling of the track. Little clicks pop in a little past halfway through the track, and suddenly the feeling shifts from the hypnosis to almost a frenetic, panicked feeling to the sound. These clicks give way to a sort of high pitched whine that creates a feeling of unease in the listener. All these little changes in the emotional timbre of the track feel completely intentional, and the results are excellent and endlessly listenable.

Grebenstien is a dark techno project from Kassel, Germany. Their latest release, Gloss, will be available on Bandcamp 24 February 2017.

Poltergeists: Week of February 6, 2017

Michael

Ellende - “Ballade auf den Tod”

After a long night of talking to and then seeing Alcest live in Portland, I was in need of some truly epic atmospheric black metal and very quickly found myself lost in Ellende. One of the things that drew me to “Ballade auf den Tod” right away was the somber tone of the introduction. Soft strings and sad, usually nylon stringed guitars tend to get me right where the heart is. The somber introduction carries through the verse with only a few added sections for rhythm and screams, but the atmosphere really pulls me through the many variations and back again to the roots of the song. The breakdown, which carries along at a nice pace with full instrumentation, is helped along with a lo-fi, sad-sounding audio sample that I can’t make out enough to translate but is spoken meaningfully enough to get the message across. Needless to say I am thoroughly satisfied with Ellende’s unique take on atmospheric black metal.  

Ellende is a one-person project based in Austria who quotes Camus on their Bandcamp release page… so… I am sold.

V▲LH▲LL - “ΛΞONS”

As a very key influence in my own music, I tend to watch V▲LH▲LL very closely whenever anything is about to come out. Not only are they awesome people to hang out with, but the music is always unique and inspiring. The first track on their newest EP, STΞNDHΛL, is a take on the very popular outrun synth lines, but with that special V▲LH▲LL stuff mixed in. The main line itself has a very spooky yet victorious feel to it, leading through various patterns and samples. One thing that the track really has a grasp on is the way that different plucky synth lines can play in the background of the main line to change the rise and fall of the song. The samples and the bass lines are all important, but the faster notes in the background give it that characteristic outrun feel. My only complaint is that it is too short and ends with a quick fade. I could have gone on that same synth line for another 2 minutes easily.

V▲LH▲LL are a bunch of wonderfully spooky people with great taste in music and style. Their new EP is up on their Bandcamp, and if you haven’t picked up the last full-length album (Leaning on Shadows), you definitely should!

Wes

Dumal - “Lost Caverns”

Dumal’s has managed to develop a really powerful and emotional tone to their music. In “Lost Caverns” the song start with a riff that carries a sort of melancholic weight, lifted by the sort of rolling beat of the drums. This tone becomes a through line - after breakdowns of heavier, more aggressive moments, the beginning riff breaks in and brings back a sense of almost hopefulness.

On top of this, Dumal is an incredibly tight sounding black metal band. In a genre that often lacks in production values, you can tell that these guys take their time to make sure that everything sounds as good and together as possible. The tremolo picking stands apart from the rhythm guitar in the background in a way that really pulls their sound together and makes it shine.

Durmal is a black metal band from Pennsylvania whose music is inspired by Ukrainian folklore. Their album, The Lesser God, is available on Bandcamp.

Nails - “Wide Open Wound”

After recently seeing Code Orange play with Youth Code, I’ve been going on a bit of a hardcore kick. This kick led me to Nails, who are, and I think this is the only accurate way to describe them, heavy as fuck. With breakdowns that feel around 80 BPM, Nails just grinds away at the listener. If it weren’t for the sort of rolling feeling of the guitars, a sort of way the riff creates a feeling of circular motion, the speed and feeling of “Wide Open Wound” would almost make me think of funeral doom - the weight of the guitar tone and the fact that you can almost count the seconds between the kick and the snare through much of the song shares a sort of language with its metal cousin.

Nails is a hardcore band from Oxnard, California. Their latest release, You Will Never Be One Of Us, is available from Nuclear Blast.

Poltergeists: Week of January 23, 2017

Michael

Emptiness - “Digging the Sky”

Emptiness is an extremely odd combination of all of the genres that make up my regular catalog of to-listen releases - the guitars are clean and shoe-gazing-ly atmospheric, the vocals are destructive and experimental, and the overall sound goes between sad doom metal and a more realized version of early 2000s gothic rock. This record is fittingly produced by Jeordie White, of Marilyn Manson fame, and Sean Beavan, who has recorded with NIN, Marilyn Manson, and Kindneythieves. Each song is unique and very odd - the vocal delivery is generally the same, but still unique against the strange landscape of each track as it passes through many styles and influences.    

Emptiness is an experimental band from Brussels.

Apocryphal Throne - “Triumph Over the Backs of the Downtrodden”

Apocryphal Throne, a new project that I hope Chase Dobson will continue making new releases for every year until the day he dies, is an apt meditation in modern atmospheric metal (not entirely black metal, not entirely doom metal, but a good combination of many types). The influences are vast and wonderful, the production is clean, and it is presented within a snowy, winter landscape. This album proves to me that Chase is a talented and inspirational musician - taking a genre that is not his current medium and just running with it is not an easy thing to do, but The Day of Our Demise proves that he very much can. It is presented without vocals but you almost don’t notice because the segments of the songs flow well enough together to create the bigger structure of the songs.

Apocryphal Throne is the solo project of Chase Dobson, who has also released IDM stuff I guess (C.DB.SN released one album on the now defunct Tympanik Audio label that is also very good, and you should check out).

 

Avi Roig

Avi is a former blogger and musician who lives in Washington and is awesome!

Ştiu Nu Ştiu - “October”

The majority of post-rock/metal/gaze fails me on two main principles. Firstly, despite the promise of grandiosity and bombast, the style so rarely achieves true heaviness; for all the bands that set their sights on the mountaintop, very few manage to cross over to the other side. Second, and most importantly, the standard template of build and release remains a poor stand-in for actual songcraft, even when augmented by an armada of effects pedals. Sweden's Ştiu Nu Ştiu defies the status quo by deploying actual riffs and composition, engineering the toms to thunder like timpani and by not shying away from dual guitar heroics that would make the Scorpions proud. The traditional hallmarks of the genre remain at the core, but fold in Billie Lindahl’s fragile, alien vocals and a predilection for chaos and noise over orchestrated soundscapes and the result exceeds far beyond all the usual expectations. The final coda of “October” is the grand highlight, a superb and glorious din and by far one of the most triumphant moments of music in recent memory.

 

Brant Showers

Brant is the mastermind behind all of my favorite projects and an Audiotrauma label mate!

Dolor - “Zero Dead Channel”

After heavily listening to Dolor’s album, Gun City, throughout all of last year (and SISTER the year before), I was extremely excited to learn that he’d be kicking of 2017 with a new album as well. Dropped somewhat unceremoniously on January 4th, the new album includes some interesting changes to Dolor’s sound palette. Bridging from his usual hazy, dusk-hour electronics, Ruby delivers the listener into rich, acidic sunsets and synthetic soundscapes in a way that seems perhaps a bit more self-indulgent than has been previously expressed through Dolor’s work. This doesn’t deter in any way from the album’s great qualities though - to the contrary, as many long-time fans will be more than happy to allow for the notoriously private artist to reflect on his more personal musings. To that end, the inclusion of the description, “this one’s for me,” is an appropriate sentiment to forgive the album’s more exorbitant synth explorations (especially as on the twelve minute ‘Reppin, Reppin’’).

One of the immediate and recognizable changes to Dolor’s production is the absence of engineering by his oft-collaborator, Lorn. For those familiar with Lorn’s specific sonic qualities, his absence will quickly explain the change in tone of this album from Dolor’s previous releases. It’s a bit unfair to place so much responsibility on Lorn’s involvement, but could also point to a specific stylistic decision made by Dolor in distancing himself from Lorn on this particular album. Either way, despite its departures, Ruby still maintains plenty of the unique traits that characterize Dolor’s music and will definitely satisfy his long-time fans. The track ‘Zero Dead Channel’ is a perfect example of prime Dolor material - saturated synth-work, beautifully distant percussive elements, and haunting leads.

Ruby may not evoke the same lush nostalgia as previous releases, but it’s an incredible way to start of the new year and stands strong in maintaining Dolor as an absolute favorite of mine. I’m excited to hear him explore new ideas and look forward to listening to this through the rest of 2017 (and on).

Poltergeists: Week of December 26, 2016

Michael

AmeshA SpentA - “Faces”

The depth of this song is crazy. There are so many little elements in the background, especially in the beginning of the song, that stand out so clearly. Sébastien Béné-Le Touarin is a very talented producer and almost every track on the new AmeshA SpentA album, Simplexity, shows that he can compose really beautifully perfected masterpieces. “Faces” is the track that I would choose to show anyone what the entire album sounds like because I think that this one track contains so many wonderful parts that play out in more depth throughout the album. The way that it progresses from this kind of slow breakbeat mashup of plucking strings and subtle shifts in the rhythms to this giant guitar-driven conclusion is incredible. It gets really heavy at the end, but still maintains its clear, subtle nature and that is something that is really hard to do.

AmeshA SpentA is the solo work of the French composer Sébastien Béné-Le Touarin. The new album, Simplexity, is out now on Audiotrauma Records.

Von Magnet - “Growing vs. Fading”

I am late to the Von Magnet party and I am extremely sorry about that! I was searching through some of the older Ant-Zen releases this week and was drawn in by the artwork for Von Magnet’s ni prédateur ni proie: two hands clasped together with black paint dripping from them -- which seems simple, but is very beautifully done. The opening track, “Growing vs. Fading,” is chaotic and compelling in that it contains a lot of call-and-response type vocal exchanges between Phil Von and Flore Magnet. These escalate from just talking softly to each other to a dramatic calling out, switching to an English vs. French dialogue, and then back again to English entirely. It is extremely effective. The music that also escalates under this exchange is subtle and equally epic. Minimal drumming and atmospheric droning pass through a number of variations and additions. There are pauses in the songs that act as false endings, only to come back through again with more elements added.

Von Magnet is a collective project that has gone through a number of variations and incarnations in their long and obscure career. I would suggest going through all of their material, but I started with their 2008 album ni prédateur ni proie, which is up on the Ant-Zen Bandcamp page.

Wes

M‡яc▲ll▲ - “Faceted”

It just wouldn’t be right to let a new M‡яc▲ll▲ release go by unnoticed! M‡яc▲ll▲ continues to build on their past work, making small incremental changes to their presentation and sound. In “Faceted” we can hear almost what feels like a return to a more classic M‡яc▲ll▲ sound; fast moving synth lines, backed up by equally fast bass and shuffling kicks and hats push the song into a level of aggressiveness that I don’t typically associate with M‡яc▲ll▲, but it works very well. We have vocals again from M‡яc▲ll▲, vocoded and obscuring the still mysterious person behind the music. The song evolves quickly over the course of its seven minute playtime, making tonal switches at just the right moments and never becoming boring to listen to.

M‡яc▲ll▲ is a project of the post-witch house diaspora. You can find their latest release, Aberrant Symmetry, on their Bandcamp.

Cursive - “Staying Alive”

I have been listening to Cursive’s The Ugly Organ a ton over the past couple weeks. “Staying Alive” I think captures a lot of what I love about the album; from the twinkling guitars at the beginning of the track, to the noisy, chaotic center, there is always a feeling of raw emotionality, barely contained, always ready to explode. In the end, the cellos sawing gently under the refrain, “The worst is over”, signal a return to the songs early lightness. It’s a beautiful track that I can listen to over and over without ever getting tired of it.

Cursive is a post-hardcore band from Omaha, Nebraska. Their latest album, a re-issue of The Ugly Organ, is available from Saddle Creek.

Poltergeists: Week of December 12, 2016

Michael

Markus Midnight - “Blutgeld”

Synth-Punk is one of my favorite emerging genres. It may be something that has been around forever, but it is new to me and I am excited about it. Markus Midnight may not fit exactly into the synth-punk movement, but his music has that catch and raw feeling to it that so many bands in that genre provoke. “Blutgeld” is a solid dance song with weird and catchy synths crossing in and out of the track, keeping it interesting and moving forward. This track reminds me a lot, vocally, of the first TR/ST album, which I think will play to its advantage.

Markus Midnight is a solo project from Edmonton, Alberta and you can find his stuff on the Markus Midnight Bandcamp.

Noire Antidote - “Slow Macabre”

Out next week on Audiotrauma Records is the new album from Noire Antidote. The mixture of dark, witchhouse-inspired atmosphere and a raw future bass element has me hooked already. The sounds are deep and intense in this track, reminding me of the kind of oddity that projects like Sonic Area and Twinkle would bring into their darker tracks. I sometimes have trouble with projects that have no vocal element, but the two preview tracks from this album are both consistently interesting and ever-changing enough to keep me fully on board.

The new album from Noire Antidote, I Know Where The Wolf Sleeps, is out on December 19th via Audiotrauma Records.

Wes

Sometimes Never - “The Dead”

“The Dead” is a fantastic track from Sometimes Never’s Enter Terrible. I’ve listened to the full release many times since I discovered it, and every single time, its closer, this track, stands out to me. It often feels simple and minimalistic in the first half of the 13 minute playtime; two or three instruments at a time pluck along with digital choirs providing a calming backdrop.

The song has four sort of movements to it - it starts with the slowly plucking synth who’s delay creates kind of a chord effect, backed up by the aforementioned choir-like pads. From there, it moves into a section that is a little darker in tone - a repeating bassline with little tonal movement is supplemented by pads creating the melody; then later, little plucking synths gently move in adding a feeling of hopefulness. This pulls us into the third movement, where for the first time we have percussion - a kick sets the beat while a arpeggiated bassline pulls us along with it. At the end, in the final movement, all the pieces start to become tied together. The starting synth comes back, plucking away behind the beat, the pads. It is a fantastically constructed song that I can listen to over and over, finding new little things each time.

Sometimes Never is a synth project that appears to be from Bristol,UK. Their latest release, Enter Terrible, is available on Bandcamp.

Lebanon Hanover - “Babes Of The 80s”

I don’t know how I missed this when it first came out. I have been a fan of Lebanon Hanover’s more post-punk oriented works, and while this track feels like it is from the same band, it leans much more heavily on synth components than their last album, Besides The Abyss. In place of the chorus soaked guitars and chunky bass guitar, we have moving pads and plucking synth. It is a fun little song that makes me want to slowly dance around; the short, sharp plucks create a nice, almost jaunty beat you can’t help but move your head to.

Lebanon Hanover is a cold wave duo from Germany. Their latest album, Besides The Abyss, is available on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of November 14, 2016

Michael

Living Temples - “Sól

While doing some research for our interview with Liste Noire, I found that Kalle Fagerberg, who plays guitar and some keys in the newest version of Liste Noire, also records under the solo moniker Living Temples. Sól, the opening track to the first EP, is catchy and runs down a line of heady bass, lofi synths, and a great overall vocal delivery. It calls back to the older minimal goth rock that sticks out to me as a direct turning point for the genre - bands like Joy Division and some of the heavier Bauhaus come to mind - and for me, to when I really started to listen to gothic music.

The debut Living Temples EP, The Pickpocket, is out now on their Bandcamp.

Hologram_ - “Thirteen Theorems”

Hologram_ is back with a second full-length album, which is something that I have been anticipating all year, and it is all of the elements that I hoped it would be amped up to their maximum. What made Geometrical Keys great was the sense of rhythm that drove the songs forward and the way that sense of rhythm sometimes broke completely, only to rebuild itself from nothing to an incredibly epic new version of where you thought the song was going. “Thirteen Theorems” is a good example of these elements taken to a new level because it takes some of these glitchy rhythmic elements, combines them with some sawtoothed synths, and then builds the tension. This album is slower in some senses, but also hits a lot harder than the first album, which I think is a good way to progress the sound that worked so well before to a slightly different and interesting tone.  

Hologram_’s new album, Amen: Requiem For Heart Fragment, is out now on Audiotrauma Records and Ant-Zen Mailorder.  

Wes

Darkher - “Hollow Veil”

In “Hollow Veil”, Darkher draws influences from folk and doom to create a heavy and haunting track. There are a lot of little subtle things that Darkher does to build the track’s atmosphere. Underneath the strumming guitar, there are soft trilling string instruments coming in and out; their reverb leaves a soft sort of presence, a sort of silent howl. The vocal delivery accentuates this unsettling sound; not quite a whisper, not quite fully released - the feeling of holding back creates a tension in the sound that makes the heavy guitars and drums that follow it feel that much more impactful.

Darkher is Jayn H. Wissenberg’s doomy folk project. Her latest album, Realms, is available on Bandcamp.

Saor - “Hearth”

This is really a beautiful track. Starting with strumming guitars, fiddles, rolling drums, and a strong atmospheric set of strings swelling in the background, Saor transitions into heavier celtic tinged guitar riffs, before dropping fully into blast beats and tremolo picking. The lyrics, said by the author to be inspired by traditional Scottish poetry, paint a beautiful portrait of someone who cares deeply for their home, but feels lost in it. This melancholy is often echoed by the soft breaks where Saor dips back into slowly strummed guitars and somber strings. They also are a reminder of how fraught listening to black metal can feel; the themes, while universal in feeling, could easily be mistaken for themes used by the apoliteic music of neo-fascist movements. I want to be clear: I don’t think Saor is making that sort of music; it is just unfortunate that so many of these universal themes have been made suspicious by those who are.

Saor is an atmospheric black metal project from Scotland. Their latest album, Guardians, is available on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of October 31, 2016

Michael

Unreqvited - “Disquiet”

Unreqvited came highly recommended by the folks over at Moonbath, and with great reason. Their sounds are very similar, but in this case that was exactly what I was looking for from a new post-black metal project. The one-person projects that are coming out of the post-black metal world right now are truly some of the most emotionally driven and well-crafted ventures that I have heard in a long time. Unreqvited does a great job of keeping you captivated by the emotion of the track - going from calm orchestral interludes to concise and wonderfully layered blast beats. This audio is wonderfully mixed and produced. I could see this easily being over-polished and refined, but I don’t think that it would hold the same tones - they play on the vocals, the way the violin comes in for a moment and then is gone, or even the way the drums hang in the background as if off in the distance (but not too much). It is a wonderful piece of music.  

Unreqvited’s full-length album Disquiet is out now on Pest Productions. The album artwork and packaging are really great. I would definitely suggest taking a look at the 6-panel Digipak that is up now on their Bandcamp.

Dead When I Found Her - “Tantrum”

The new Dead When I Found Her album, which will be out one year after All The Way Down, is going to be a great force to be reckoned with. “Tantrum” takes the most intense elements from tracks like “Spitting Seeds” (from the All The Way Down’s bonus disk The Bottom) and turns them up as far as they go. The vocals are different, the music is more intense, and the production is as clean as ever. Michael Holloway has a good sense of that classic industrial furiosity - the grueling basslines and utterly maniacal way the vocals push through the distorted atmosphere - and this album will be a great look into that hole that early 90s industrial left behind. Most of all though, I am really impressed with how diverse this project has become. Dead When I Found Her has gone from really well constructed, classically influenced industrial dance music, to drawn out emotional masterpieces, to this new and intense void that was left after the release of All The Way Down.  

Dead When I Found Her’s 4th full-length album, Eyes On Backwards, will be out on November 4th on Artoffact Records (and for the first time on vinyl!).

Wes

Austra - “Forgive Me”

I’ve been listening to the track, and the album it’s from, pretty non-stop since I first came across it a couple weeks ago. It is a fantastic mix of fun and sorrowful. The bass line feels a little disco; the tone of the instrument is bright and deep, and plucks in setting a nice rhythm, complimenting a nice peppy drum beat. In contrast to this brighter elements, a slow pad takes up much of the space in the back of the track, adding a sense of sadness. This is accentuated by the vocal delivery; Katie Stelmanis’ voice vibrates and strains as she sings. It is a wonderfully emotional track, and the contrast between the happier sounding rhythm and more sorrowful melodies elevate it

Austra is the electronic project of Katie Stelmanis from Toronto, Ontario. Their most recent album, Future Politics, will be available January 20, 2017.

Alcest - “Je Suis D'ailleurs”

I’m kind of shocked that I hadn’t heard Alcest until very recently, because this band is directly up my alley. Pulling inspiration from post-rock and black metal, the sounds of “Je Suis D’ailleurs” are huge. The band shifts from big, reverb-soaked vocals and washes of slow moving guitars, building huge amounts of atmosphere, to sparse moments, to fast moving beats and tremolo picking to match. As you should expect from black metal, the changes of the music feel like actual movements, independent but expertly tied together through transitory moments. You could easily listen to the track over and over (as I have) without ever feeling like a moment is boring or out of place.

Alcest is the original blackgaze band. Their newest album, Kodama, is available on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of October 17, 2016

Michael

Preemptive Strike 0.1 vs. Wolfheart - “Planet Eradicated”

There are many times when I go into a release knowing full well that it may not be for me - having heard recently that guitars were added to the lineup, or that a traditionally pretty bland electronic artist is doing more traditionally bland things - and this was definitely one of those times. Preemptive Strike 0.1 is an artist that I generally like, but the concept for this album has been done really poorly a bunch of times. However! What sets this album apart from most of the previous efforts to bring metal and industrial into a true merriment is that Preemptive Strike 0.1 went out and recruited a bunch of established metal bands that had very distinct styles and just let them run with the track (from what I understand and can conceptualize from the music). It works effortlessly and seamlessly. With this Wolfheart collaboration especially, so many of the elements are perfectly placed within the established style. The synth elements aren’t too loud or crazy and the quality is really high. I am pleasantly surprised and really congratulate the Preemptive Strike 0.1 team for getting this release together.   

The Eternal Masters release can be purchased directly from the label via Bandcamp.

Street Sects - “Featherweight Hate”

Street Sects is abrasive and intense in so many ways. It is really an experience that is best served live and I encourage anyone to travel as far as you need to to see the show. “Featherweight Hate” is the song on their latest release, End Position, that really captures the live moments in my mind and satisfies that crafted, noisy, and pointedly calm intention that the duo has such a solid grasp on. A brash and quickly fired off introduction, a moment of quiet and calm breathing, and then hell. Pure hell in sonic form. We asked them in our forthcoming interview if it was difficult to capture the live feeling on a studio recording and after seeing the show, reflecting, and going back to the record I can now say that they really worked hard to capture the dynamics and overall intensity of the show. It is a different experience entirely, but a very good one.

Street Sects is on tour now! Their first full-length album, End Position, is out now on The Flenser.

Wes

Dear Deer - “Dear Deer”

I tend to find eponymous songs usually are a bit cheesy, but not so with Dear Deer’s “Dear Deer”. This track, from the moment it starts, drives forward with a sort of fury. The drums are unrelenting in their heavy, reverb drenched beat, and the vocals drip with malice. As the chorus hits, the guitars basically become noise machines, accented by hammering metallic percussion and the call and response of the two vocalists. The vocal style is reminiscent of Cerce to me; there is familiar sense of anger to it. I’ve enjoyed the whole record this track is pulled from, and recommend checking out the full release.

Dear Deer is a post-punk duo from Lilles, France. Their latest album, Oh My, is available on Bandcamp via Swiss Dark Nights.

Zosima - “Embryo”

This track is a slow moving, slowly evolving work of pure menace. Ambient drones make up the floor of the song, fading in and out, ringing in your ears. A kick is always accompanied by hits of static and metal, grinding away at your sense of comfort. Sampled bits of percussion, whirs, grinds, and screeches assist in this aggressive movement. The song feels like it should be fairly low-key, but the way these elements are tied together, coming in and out of the track, keep you on edge, waiting for the next scrapes and hits. Sit back with some headphones on for this one, close your eyes, and just feel it.

Zosima is an experimental techno project. Their release Metamorphosis is available from Noiztank on Bandcamp.