The Atlas Moth – Coma Noir

Hailing from Chicago The Atlas Moth always focused on experimenting with psychedelic & atmospheric facets of metal and on the latest effort “Coma Noir” the band embraces darkened nuances and bravely continues to defy standard music style categorization.

The title track offers plenty of aggressive rhythmic dynamics but never sacrifices an inner melodic finesse fueled by  post-metal dark tonalities embedded in the polished guitar work and a conscious desire to blend multiple music styles with recognizable doom/sludge accents and industrial oriented synths layers.

On “Last Transmission From The Late, Great Planet Earth” fiery distorted guitars contribute to the creation of super tight eclectic rhythmic patterns but also deliver a noteworthy series of rather catchy vibrant melodies which passionately match the shimmering atmospheric weaves.

“Galactic Brain” becomes particularly cinematic with modern electro/industrial atmospheres and experimental noise momentum surrounding slick sludgy grooves and the creative clarity of guitars often provide icy luminous melodic textures while clean vocals hold emotional quality in contrast with the more obscure piercing screams.

“The Streets Of Bombay” immediately features exquisite trippy moments where synths evoke contemplative soundscapes that will ultimately enter an intensely darkened realm made of super groovy riffing bearing heavy doom tonalities and widely accessible melancholia infused guitar melodies.

Massive guitar riffs gain a primary role on “Smiling Knife” which is consequently filled of untamed stomping grooves but also features several quite creative lead guitar concoctions surrounded by spacey & mysterious industrial elements lurking in the background.

“Chloroform” feels quite hypnotizing as the whole instrumentation acquires profoundly nostalgic tonalities especially palpable and lovable in the charismatic lead guitar moments scattered throughout the grim doom oriented rhythmic maze enriched by loads of cinematic creepy accents and deliciously flamboyant saxophone leads performed by Bruce Lamont of Yakuza & Corrections House.

What stands out on “Coma Noir” is certainly the fascinating darkness surrounding the multifaceted intricate instrumental passages as The Atlas Moth shows the necessary creative force and potential to conquer a solid status in the current underground metal scene.

Nullingroots – Into The Grey

Since black metal and shoegaze inevitably combined, many bands emerged to embrace the niche yet trendy underground blackgaze subgenre and California based Nullingroots fully embrace this atmospheric style in the new album “Into The Grey”.

“Subsistence” immediately ensures a ravenous blackened assault that involves immensely somber nuances as guitars follow a fast riffing pattern but also focus greatly on bleak melodic layers that often slow down dramatically to depict cold melancholic soundscapes fully channeling the ethereal nature of shoegaze.

With such darkly poetic title “The Morning That Killed The World” does hold an apocalyptic tension as well as desolate atmospheric quality as tight guitar riffs draw inspiration from the ominous depths of traditional black metal supported by fast drumming fury yet manage to weave all kinds of melodic tapestries that actually feel much more interesting.

On the multifaceted title track minimalist melancholy infused harmonies introduce an aggressive rhythmic momentum skillfully built by unrestrained guitars and drums and amplified by growls filled of pure black metal obscurity until everything shifts to slower gloomy bleakness with elegantly emotive guitar phrases.

With “Into The Grey” Nullingroots mainly stay true to the blackgaze music formula successfully demonstrating the band’s ability to seamlessly blend a chaotic blackened sonic realm with refined shoegaze melodic depth.


Sorxe – Matter & Void

Phoenix based band Sorxe is relatively a new name in the metal scene but the sophomore effort “Matter & Void” demands the listeners’ full attention as these guys deliver captivating songwriting ideas with intense psychedelic flavors.

The spacey atmospheric vibes of “Hypnotizer” introduce massive guitar driven grooves and certainly the untamed screams help maintaining a heavy approach but with undiluted creative force wild guitars tend to take the spotlight leading to a charismatic guitar solo.

The psychedelic nature of “Distraction Party” is definitely attention worthy as fierce guitar riffs and distorted licks guide the whole instrumentation through monolithic rhythmic patterns that will occasionally slow down with stoner oriented melodic passages.

“Never To See” puts aside the expected overdose of heavy sludge concoctions to create an enigmatic atmospheric maze with a consequent trippy mood and it’s like feeling lost in a remote desert at night when the guitar work start to deliver hazy melodies but also slightly macabre nuances.

On “The Endless Chasm” Sorxe raises the bar with a genuine desire for experimentation in order to escape the need to follow the annoying standard rules of music composition. There is still a cohesive backbone of stoner doom & sludge elements to satisfy a thirst for punishing heavy rhythms yet this lengthy track will take you through a multi-dimensional music journey when everything slows down to favor acidic rock melodies built by an excellent guitar work that just seems unstoppable within an addictive psychedelic whirlwind.

Ensuring a majestic heavy assault that benefits also from the presence of two bassists, “Matter & Void” dwells in a darkened psychedelic limbo where Sorxe carefully crafts intricate and often unexpected music patterns that will inevitably intrigue the audience.

Abhorrent Decimation – The Pardoner

Hailing from the U.K, Abhorrent Decimation dish out a unique brand of death-core with their debut record, The Pardoner. The most succinct summation of this album would be total sonic nihilism. Each track broods with absolutely devastating mood pieces as either song intros or interludes a la piano, orchestrations, or downtrodden clean guitar riffs. This is juxtaposed by ear drum obliterating dissonant guitar riffs against a maelstrom of double bass drums and blast beats, and red in the face death growls. Even when they hint at melody, the counter part is crushing heaviness. There is no respite to be found throughout the 40 minutes of sheer mood destroying music found here. And I take it, that’s exactly the point. The Pardoner is ugly, depressing, and heavier than a semi truck full of bowling balls. Not for the faint of heart, just the way I like it.

Marty Friedman – Wall of Sound

Marty Friedman has been making a bit of a comeback as of late with some new solo material that “keeps up with the times,” so to speak and maintains his signature sound and phrasing. This album is packed with dynamics, melody, and aggression. I had the pleasure of seeing him on tour for this album in Chicago, and I can honestly say, for instrumental prog/shred, He has to have one of the tightest, high energy bands I’ve seen. They play as if they were playing a packed arena. Now let’s get to the album shall we?

Self Pollution: opens the album with some pretty cool riffing. Something that stands out about this album is that although it is a “Guitar Virtuoso” album, it has riffs for days. It’s very focused on composition. This track kind of throws a little bit of everything at you to give you a taste of what’s to come.

Sorrow and Madness: is easily one of my personal favorites. This track is loaded with melody and dynamics. The composition is very moving. And Marty’s signature sound is very apparent here, all those beautiful bends from out of the key that go into the key. Lots of emotion here.

Streetlight: Also packed with incredible dynamics, really shows that in a short period of time tons of versatility and ground is, has, and will be covered on this album.

Whiteworm: is an absolute rocking track, loaded with some flashy playing. It also has some very cool Latin vibes at certain points with the melody and rhythm. It has a very pretty chorus theme with a bit of an 80’s neo classical feel. Definitely a fun track.

Pussy Ghost: kind of changes things up with almost a black metal/death metal set of progressions. It’s a bit darker and atmospheric, but really interesting. It’s harmonically a bit reminiscent of some of the Cacophony material that was released way back.

I won’t give anymore away here, but I will say this. Go listen to this and buy it. It will be worth your time. I also recommend seeing him live, if you get the opportunity because it will be an enjoyable experience.

Zaius – Of Adoration

In the overcrowded metal scene the emerging Chicago based instrumental quartet Zaius deserves to be on your radar as the debut album “Of Adoration” showcases stellar musicianship and intriguing songwriting skills that should not be ignored.

“Phaneron” opens the album with a refreshing modern sound supported by eclectic instrumental passages that channel the ethereal quality of post-metal as well as an undisputable fascination for slick tempo variations with a slight prog orientation. The main core here is rather melodic as elegant distorted guitars maintain polished tonalities but don’t necessarily refrain from occasional heavier accents resulting in an entertaining music blend.

“Sheepdog” begins with a heavier approach yet guitars maintain a charming clarity which inevitably favors a crescendo of convoluted melodic patterns that stand out particularly when the rhythmic section slows down evoking a comfortable serenity.

“Seirenes” is a refined sonic shape-shifter but certainly focuses largely on dreamy melodic guitars that eventually pick up higher dosages of distortion yet never truly leave behind the emotional kaleidoscope that the whole instrumentation strives to maintain through all kind of fancy prog tempo signatures.

“Colin” essentially doesn’t diverge from the mood that characterizes the whole album as guitars effortlessly shift from crunchy somber tones to mellower clean melodies always keeping a balanced harmonious flow and often leading to the exploration of hazy melancholic soundscape.

It must be noted that despite the instrumental complexity on “Of Adoration” there is a profound sense of relaxation in the smooth variations and sound clarity that bear the trademark of atmospheric post-metal and Zaius confidently demonstrates to have a precise music pathway in mind.

The Ditch And The Delta – Hives In Decline

Emerging sludge rockers The Ditch And The Delta unleash the debut album “Hives In Decline” delivering all kinds of crazy heavy moments and crafting mind-bending grooves.

Those who are not familiar with the essential madness of sludge might find the title track hostile or just enigmatic as The Ditch And The Delta experiment with atmospheric tones, depressing vibes and borderline aggressive rhythmic blasts to generate interest and curiosity but also focus on a monolithic combo of guitars & bass with some hypnotizing quality.

“Fuck on Asphalt” definitely has a more straightforward rhythmic assault where steady guitars keep a properly sludge attitude that rightfully gives way to a series of wild and slightly discordant guitar solos.

The brief instrumental “Dry Land” showcases melodic craftsmanship as guitars acquire smooth sonic warmth with remarkable southern rock edge.

“Dread Spectacle” closes the album maximizing the experimental aspects and spicing up the monotone guitar riffing with sudden melodic breakdowns, dissonant tempo variations and dramatic vocals.

Lovers of sludge metal subgenre will find some entertaining ideas through the sonic exploration on “Hives In Decline” even if The Ditch And The Delta often go beyond such traditional elements attempting to channel a higher degree of unrestrained creativity.