Laster – Het Wassen Oog

Dutch avant-garde post-black metal trio Laster aims to surprise the listeners with the genre bending approach and the unusual soundscapes of the third album “Het Wassen Oog”.

You can easily perceive the enigmatic nature of “Vacuüum ≠ Behoud” as the intricate melodic guitar work incorporates familiar shoegaze elements that later will acquire darker nuances following the menacing faster drumming and the hellish screams to fully embrace a primal blackened force.

On “Schone Schijn” the jazzy incursions and the excellent musicianship lead to a cathartic instrumental ensemble that confidently follows the several tempo variations yet continues to hold an inner black metal inspiration expressed mainly by the creepy atmospheres and the ravenous screams.

On “Haat & Bonhomie” the avantgarde approach is still prominent as the instrumental passages seamlessly shift from arcane blackened rhythmic blasts to softer and drastically slower crispy guitar melodies accompanied by smooth clean vocals.

“Weerworm” feels extremely spacey as the main guitar melodies seem to go on forever creating slow dizzy dynamics that favor the elegant & hazy atmospheric arrangements and leave behind any sign of black metal fury.  

The complex structure of “Zinsbetovering” features intense blackened rhythmic patterns but at the same time often deviates from the expected aggressive momentum allowing guitars to craft soothing harmonies with prominent jazzy vibes and moody shoegaze atmospheres evoking serene feelings.

The traditional black metal roots of Laster always emerge throughout “Het Wassen Oog” with bursts of obscure energy but undoubtedly the strength of the album is generated by the eclectic composition and the desire to freely experiment with diverse music genres.

Hexvessel – All Tree

Formed in 2009 by talented songwriter/musician Mat “Kvohst” McNerney, also known as frontman of Grave Pleasures, Hexvessel is deeply inspired by mythology and ancient folk traditions which naturally lead to the spiritual journey symbolized by the new album “All Tree”.

Listening to “Son Of The Sky” you’ll find yourself in the middle of the woods pondering about life as the folk elements and contemplative vibes shine bright through the peaceful acoustic phrases, the compelling violin melodies and the haunting tonalities of the lead guitar work.

The storytelling approach of “Old Tree” creates a serene yet extremely melancholic mood as violin and acoustic guitar carefully craft minimalist melodies that celebrate the beauty of nature and emphasize the pastoral folk soundscape.

“Changeling” also evokes a profound sense of melancholia with the calm vocal delivery and the shimmering acoustic melodies surrounded by graceful atmospheres enhanced by the delicate flute harmonies.

Like an old fable “Ancient Astronaut” brings the listeners to an arcane realm of ancient gods and enigmatic tales maintaining a wistful folk approach through reflective acoustic passages and somber lead guitars.

“Wilderness Spirit” has a more joyous upbeat rhythm carefully built by dynamic variations with loads of dazzling violin phrases but its lush melodic core still relies on a series of gentle folk acoustic melodies.

The instrumental track “Journey To Carnac” is filled with warm acoustic melodies that naturally convey an overwhelming nostalgia and glow through the subtle atmospheric layers.

“Closing Circles” feels more dramatic and significantly darker with an increasing spiritual intensity that influences the elegant classical nuances of violin and piano as well as the introspective vocal delivery.

It’s not surprising that the themes of “All Tree” revolve around a strong connection between myth and nature as Hexvessel meticulously weave bewitching melodies celebrating Karelian and Nordic folklore with a profound mystical aura.

Nachtmystium – Resilient

Following years of silence and major drama Nachtmystium arises from the ashes, joins the  Prophecy Productions family of artists and begins a new chapter releasing the EP aptly entitled “Resilient”.

The title track is probably the most memorable offering on this EP and you can truly perceive painful feelings and bitter emotions flowing through the dense elegant atmospheric arrangements that surrounds and influence the harsh blackened guitar tonalities, the melancholic melodic moments and the raspy growls.

“Silver Lanterns” has a more straightforward approach that diligently follows an atmospheric black metal pathway shifting from faster nightmarish rhythmic dynamics with the expected dosage of tremolo picking to softer nostalgia infused melodies.

The lengthy track “Desert Illumination” again showcases profoundly grim emotions particularly enhanced by the atmospheric introspective momentum and glowing mellow acoustic guitars while later the whole instrumentation fully embraces colder tonalities leading to a faster pace and consequent heavier blackened passages followed by a rather spacey borderline psychedelic finale.  

“Resilient” definitely sounds like a story of redemption and rebirth therefore these songs must be really meaningful for Nachtmystium and there is enough action to spark interest again in the underground scene but we’ll see what the band will deliver in the future.

Helrunar – Vanitas Vanitatvm

German black metallers Helrunar proudly invite you to join their obscure music journey with the latest album “Vanitas Vanitatvm” with an elegant title that refers to a famous ode by 17th century poet Andreas Gryphius.

“Saturnus” instantly evokes a gloomy grandeur diligently crafted by a grim melodic ensemble that will ultimately embrace a traditional blackened framework with ferocious guitar and drums dynamics leading the way to bottomless obscurity while the mood will become particularly dramatic during the gentle acoustic breakdown.

Since the very beginning “Lotophagoi” sounds more brutal focusing on savage blackened rhythmic sections with fluent tremolo picking and uncompromising speed and certainly the resulting ominous tonalities are further amplified by diabolical growls while lead guitars are ready to add slower hypnotizing melodies.

Simply put “Nachzehrer” is a stunning song where the whole instrumental ensemble is fueled by profound sinister vibes and immense darkness delivering constant fascinating gelid guitar melodies that follow a painfully slow tempo and an inevitable impending doom is enhanced by a mesmerizing series of absolutely dramatic narratives.

“Als die Welt zur Nacht sich wandt” returns to a heavier blackened rhythmic galore offering relentless guitar riffing and viciously fast drumming which lead to asphyxiating feelings until the instrumentation slows down dramatically favoring a brief yet meaningful calmer melodic momentum.

Still dwelling within a realm of impossible darkness “Necropolis” puts the spotlight on captivating melodic guitars that introduce a groovy round of riffs that will eventually morph into a harsher blackened entity but lead guitars also create plenty of delightful slower mournful melodies. The song’s finale naturally fades into the pure melancholy of the enchanting outro “Der Tag an dem das Meer seine Toten freigibt” where delicate yet incredibly intense baroque strings feel like a sincere ode to darkness.  

Conceptually addressing different forms of vanity and narcissism “Vanitas Vanitatvm” revolves around misanthropic themes and undiluted darkness therefore Helrunar rightfully draw inspiration from their prominent black and doom metal roots to successfully convey poetic splendor and total decadence.  

Oberon – Aeon Chaser

The music style of Oberon is classified as Gnostic rock as with this project Norwegian singer/songwriter Bard Oberon has been exploring the inner process of human destiny and the brand new release “Aeon Chaser” continues to have a strong philosophical nature.

“Omega” opens the album with a clever mixture of triumphant arrangements and dreamy atmospheric layers while crispy vocals naturally flow through the intricate proggy rhythmic patterns.

“Walk In Twilight” has a darker mood often amplified by crunchy guitar riffs while the leads are always ready to spice up the cohesive rhythmic core with brighter melodies.

“To Live To Die” feels like a sorrowful ballad following a softer rhythm with loads of minimalist acoustic guitars and mellow keyboards arrangements until a groovy momentum takes the center stage with classic prog oriented dynamics.

Darkened emotions linger on “Black Aura” favoring a heartfelt vocal delivery and melancholic melodies yet the song will drastically change pace and mood with experimental electro arrangements and heavily distorted guitar tonalities that lead to a spacey atmospheric ensemble.

“The Secret Fire” offers fluent rock grooves with vintage vibes and bold riffage yet the lead guitar work features crystalline tones generating interesting proggy melodies.  

“Surrender” focuses on atmospheric soundscapes often characterized by futuristic electro accents but later gives way to fiery bass lines and heavier guitar riffs to deliver catchy prog grooves.

Oberon’s sonic approach always feels widely accessible and drawing inspiration from a multitude of genres the composition of “Aeon Chaser” certainly relies on intricate textures and a profound spiritual aura.  

A Forest Of Stars – Grave Mounds And Grave Mistakes

British avantgarde black metal collective A Forest Of Stars takes William Blake’s proverb “Exuberance is beauty” as its principle to create an intricate ensemble of atmospheric textures and blackened force on the brand new effort “Grave Mounds And Grave Mistakes”.

“Precipice Pirouette” immediately showcases the unpredictable nature of the entire record with histrionic vocal delivery telling a dark story that follows the extremely frantic tremolo picked riffing and consequent fast obscure rhythmic crescendos until a sudden sense of peace generate somber atmospheres and melodic moments.

“Tombward Bound” is not just a song but rather a theatrical piece where the intense dramatic narratives and tormented melodic phrases are surrounded by an eclectic ensemble of modern electro textures, bleak atmospheric layers and blackened dynamics that will always surprise the listeners.

Bittersweet emotions are extremely amplified on “Taken By The Sea” as ethereal atmospheres and graceful vocals hold a crucial role adorned by refined violin melodies with evident dreamy folk vibes and gothic inspiration.

At the same time “Scripturally Transmitted Disease” channels Victorian grandeur and traditional black metal around frenetic or simply crazy theatrical vocals and loads of brooding melodies but this song will become even darker towards the end with peaceful minimalist harmonies.

“Decomposing Deity Dance Hall” can be immensely dramatic in so many unexpected ways as lovely acoustic passages and violin craft classical melodic themes imbued with profound melancholy and traditional folk vibes yet the band manages to add variety with shimmering electro arrangements and uncompromising blackened grooves.  

At times “Grave Mounds And Grave Mistakes” can be a challenging album, confidently and constantly evolving into a unique sonic entity that certainly holds dear its inner blackened roots but with complete creative freedom A Forest Of Stars often pushes genre boundaries.

Bald Anders – Spiel

Bald Anders is the band that allows former Lunar Aurora musicians Benjamin and Constantin König absolute artistic freedom and the result of their ongoing music exploration is the sophomore album “Spiel”.

“Das Achte Haus” takes you to the middle of a forgotten dark forest where anything can happen as the instrumental passages spontaneously shift from peaceful melodies and subtle atmospheric layers to harsher guitar driven moments depicting the contrasting nuances that characterize the whole album.

“3 Wunsche” might sound more dramatic with solemn vocals leading the way to a world of passion and imagination relying on darkly atmospheric arrangements until the rhythmic section delivers bursts of blackened energy.

“Taugenichts” offers a faster pace with consequent stomping guitar riffs and fierce screams yet mystical organ melodies and calm atmospheres will hold a crucial role creating surreal soundscapes.

On “Verhext” the instrumental segments become darker fueled by wicked guitar riffs yet folk oriented violins will often bring profound melancholia and softer melodies.

The guitar riffing rampage and wild soloing on “Le Fuet” favors darkly feverish rhythms amplified by an underlying blackened force but the song will often morph into a peaceful melodic entity with enigmatic arrangements.

The sonic realm of “Spiel” is made of fairytales and nightmares adorned by folk themes and raw blackened elements as the music pathway chosen by Bald Anders seems full of surprises.

Eye Of Nix – Black Somnia

Avant-garde collective Eye Of Nix is ready to put a spell on you with the gloomy artistic vision of the album “Black Somnia” reissued by Prophecy Productions.

“Wound And Scar” would sound quite hostile to the average listener as the band focuses on an enigmatic ensemble of dark melodic echoes, tormented screams and aggressive guitar riffs marching fiercely in blackened fashion through surreal ominous atmospheric soundscapes.

On “Fear’s Ascent” extremely dramatic clean vocals flow through shapeshifting layers of anguished gothic style melodies, mournful atmospheres and steady menacing rhythmic segments featuring occasional faster drum pace.

“Lull” has calmer yet profoundly mysterious tonalities amplified by bewitching vocals yet will later acquire psychedelic vintage vibes through intriguing guitar progressions and consequent rhythmic crescendo.  

“A Hideous Visage” showcases hints of doom and heavier roots as guitars deliver cold energetic bursts through massive darkened atmospheric arrangements within a nightmarish soundscape that naturally conveys the band’s beautiful and harsh music vision.

From a realm of eternal darkness Eye Of Nix emerges as a unique sinister force that on “Black Somnia” naturally generates the unusual macabre blend of atmospheric nuances and blackened momentum.

Duncan Evans – Prayers For An Absentee

Duncan Evans, former guitarist for A Forest Of Stars, began his solo career in 2013 and the new album “Prayers For An Absentee” holds a strong dark folk spirit but also showcases an interesting multifaceted songwriting approach.

The uptempo rhythm of “Bring Your Shoulder” relies on recurring acidic & groovy guitar tonalities while the softer arpeggios and the soulful vocal delivery fully express somber emotions.

“Us And Them And You And Me” delivers unusual melodies always fueled by underlying feelings of sadness yet the rhythmic structure is far from monotone as the whole instrumentation embraces eclectic variations with psychedelic accents that lead to a more chaotic borderline dissonant groove.

“Trembling” immediately feels passionate and profoundly melancholic as hazy atmospheres surround the moody guitar melodies and the graceful nostalgic piano phrases, a solid instrumental combo that spontaneously shifts from fragile harmonies to more urgent rhythmic segments.

On “Christabel” there is a bittersweet mood that influences deeply the instrumental work from beginning to end resulting in an elegant blend of darkened guitar melodies and atmospheric vintage organ harmonies.

The closing track “Time” focuses on the pure melancholia evoked by peaceful acoustic arpeggios that allow Duncan’s heartfelt vocal performance to take the spotlight and convey an emotional whirlwind.

Continuing a personal music journey with an evident poetic approach Duncan Evans performs eight prayers transformed into the songs of “Prayers For An Absentee” with an open heart and a taste for minimalist melodies.

Nochnoy Dozor – Nochnoy Dozor

It might be difficult to categorize the music style of Nochnoy Dozor, featuring guitarist Manos Georgakopoulos of doom eccentrics Universe217, yet you can easily appreciate the intriguing soundscapes of the self titled debut EP.

There is magic on “Black Hand” as sultry vocals guide the listeners through a sophisticated sonic realm where peaceful piano melodies spontaneously lead to somber atmospheres and melancholia infused guitar harmonies that contribute to build a dreamy mood.

The minimalist approach on “Stains” certainly favors the enchanting vocals accompanied by the right dose of soothing guitar melodies that will eventually lead to a more energetic rhythmic crescendo.

“Closer” focuses on darker enigmatic dynamics as guitar melodies seem to echo through nocturnal soundscapes and vocals feel particularly bewitching fiercely cutting through the grim atmospheric layers.

The final track “Ben-Hur” begins with ethereal arrangements and soft vocals creating a suspenseful mood, soon heavier doom influenced guitar riffs will drastically amplify dismal tonalities and macabre vibes yet the band also maintains a constant surreal mood with loads of ambient atmospheres.

What Nochnoy Dozor has crafted is absolutely captivating and this debut EP has what it takes to attract the audience and trigger curiosity about what the band has in mind for the next music endeavor.