So Hideous- Laurestine
FFO: Cinematic/Film Score, Atmospheric Black Metal, Post Rock
It doesn't take too much for me to enjoy a band. Just be solid at what you do and make music that will keep my interest. But it takes A LOT for me to be blown away with an album. Creating a new genre or expanding on a genre idea usually works, lots of dynamics, peaks and valleys is a huge plus. Moments that grab your attention and never let you go no matter how hard you try. And finally making a REAL album the artist(s) wanted to make. That is exactly what So Hideous has achieved here with their concept album Laurestine.
(The album is one 40 minute long epic split into 7 tracks)
Laurestine is a concept album about a man and his postmortem experience in his mind within the first 7 minutes after death, where the brain is still active. Easily one of the coolest concepts for an album I've ever heard. I won't spoil the story for those that wanna experience it for themselves, but it is a killer story! The journey begins with Yesteryear. It starts with electronic drums and piano before bursting into an eruption of Black Metal, Post Metal and arguably the coolest thing about the entire album an orchestra and choir! The song serves as almost an overture to the entire album while still having it's own, unique sound. Hereafter is an instrumental that starts with clean guitar and the orchestra gradually building up and up with the drums slowly but surely kicking in with the bass for a climax ending on a softer, piano driven end. Relinquish starts orchestral and builds up to the Atmospheric Black Metal and Post Rock sides of the album again. It's not until over half way through the track when vocals kick in, but when they do, they absolutely blow you away. The second half of the song is one of the most epic sounding pieces on the album and you can envision the battle that the story tells going on in your mind. The Keepsake starts off more in the Post Rock style again with some tribal drumming mixed with the orchestra. About a quarter of the way in, it kicks into a Godspeed You! Black Emperor climax before going back into the Orchestral Black Metal. The second half of the song returns back to the GY!BE vibe. It's almost romantic towards the very end. The True Pierce is the climax of the entire album. Just like in any action or Sci-Fi movie with the final fight taking place, this is the soundtrack to that battle. The dynamics hit you extremely hard and can almost bring a tear to your eye. The end of the song everything gets soft and piano driven once again. The final movement of the album, A Faint Whisper is the grand finale and gives you the sense of glory and a happy ending that you wanted to see happen, much like the triumphant music at the end of Star Wars Episode IV. The music continues to ascend and ascend till the final notes fade away.
Essentially, the whole album is as if Deafheaven, Ihsahn and John Williams made an album together. It's as awesome as that idea sounds. It takes you on an epic journey in an amazing concept and gives you a 40 minute short film in your mind and your ears which will takes you through all of the feelings of fear, anger, brutality, reasoning, and acceptance. Once again as a reminder, this is a 40 minute song that is split into 8 tracks, as long as you keep that in mind about any overuse or repetition of sound; this is one of the crowning achievements in Atmospheric Black Metal and an absolute game changer of all the genres involved.
So Hideous- Laurestine available October 16th via Prosthetic Records
Lantlôs, is a band who much like Alcest, was known for very dark Black Metal and slowly, but surely, moving away from the sound on every album. But unlike Alcest who is very much a Post Rock band now a days, Lantlôs is still keeping Metal in the sound, although in a much different way. With the band's latest release, Melting Sun, the album is technically one song separated into 6 tracks. All 6 are quite different in sound from the next, yet all fit together seamlessly.
The album begins with Azure Chimes. The track starts with just a haunting guitar and builds its way into the song. Unlike Lantlôs albums of the part, this album has zero screams, all clean singing, but still beautifully heavy. The sound is more reminiscent of Post Metal and Alternative Metal. If there was a way to compare the sound, a fair comparison is the bands, Anathema, Long Distance Calling, and TesseracT. The next track is Cherry Quartz, which again builds up slowly, but this time with synths and haunting guitar before kicking in. This is much more upbeat beginning and very heavy. It's a strange joy hearing Lantlôs using downtuned guitars now, but it so oddly works. The song slowly gets to a Sludge Metal feel followed by a very mellow interlude, then it all kicks back in. A very heavy, sludgy, Post Metal riff with clean vocals, it is very sexy. Aquamarine Towers is the next track, and what is a theme in the beginning of the album, it starts off quiet and slow, then builds up. The track is the most Post Rockish sounding track on the album. Lots of tremolo picking and atmospheric riffs fill the song. It feels much like listening to the likes of Isis and Pelican. Arguably the best track on the album comes up next, Jade Fields. This has a very Djenty feel throughout. Once again the track starts with synths and guitar before kicking in. TesseracT absolutely comes to mind in this track with the distorted Djent riffs in the middle of the track and like TesseracT, has that great atmospheric landscape as well. Definitely the standout track of the entire album. Up next is a short, almost 3 minute synth and soundclip interlude called Oneironaut, which leads way into the final track, Golden Mind. It starts off very laid back and waltzy. It almost feels like being in the middle of the ocean and slowly being hit by wave after wave in a calm blue ocean (strange image isn't it?) The song slowly and slowly builds up with the waves getting bigger and bigger until it fades away, ending the almost 41 minute song known as Melting Sun.
Melting Sun is a phenomenal piece of work. So many layers and soundscapes in just under 41 minutes and 6 tracks. it gets heavy, it gets Posty, it's all entirely beautiful and exactly what needed to be made. For the last few years Atmospheric Black Metal has been slowly picking up steam and bands like Deafheaven have brought it to the mainstream. Lantlôs has done what Alcest has done and moved away from the sound to create something beautiful, but still be Metal. For those that are bummed that Alcest has gotten rid of all of their Metal side, give Melting Sun a chance. It's the beauty of Alcest, the power of Post Rock, the atmosphere of TesseracT and the entity that has become Lantlôs.
Lantlôs- Melting Sun available NOW via Prophecy Productions
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Panopticon plays a style of Metal that sounds so strange at the sound of the genre infusing, but makes total sense. They are a mix between Atmospheric Black Metal and American Bluegrass. Hopefully with something like that, it makes you jump up and go "WOAH, I GOTTA CHECK THAT OUT!" Their last album, Kentucky, was raised to major acclaim. Could Panopticon possibly be able to do this again with their new album, Roads To The North?
The album starts with the 9:36 song, The Echos Of A Disharmonic Evensong. it starts off quite strange before a longer drum fill leading into the whole band joining in. From this point onwards it shows the great mix of Atmospheric Black Metal with the folkish, Bluegrass tinge in the background. When the vocals aren't in motion the Bluegrass takes over with the Black Metal for a great atmospheric sound that fans of either genre could really appreciate. The middle of the song breaks down acoustically before gaining back the speed and Metal to help close out the song. Up next is the longest song on the album, Where Mountains Pierce The Sky. The song starts off with a great Folk/Bluegrass feel that really makes you feel like you are on the countryside just as it hits sundown. This does not last when the band finally kicks in at the 1:26 mark. Instead of kicking into full on Black Metal mode, it stays very midtempo and somewhat matches the Bluegrass in the beginning of the song. at the 3:36 mark it hits one of the most beautiful metal moments on the album where all the harmonies and melodies hit together and create a very surreal moment. Throughout the rest of the song it keeps up a faster tempo and adds a good atmospheric feel. At the very end of the song it leads into an acoustic guitar/fiddle riff that leads into the next song. That next song is called The Long Road, which is separated into three tracks, The Long Road I. One Last Fire is a campfire style song that focuses on the bluegrass instruments (Fiddle, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, etc). This instrumental makes up the entire track that leads into The Long Road II. Capricious Miles, which starts with a ferocious drum intro and leads into one of the best riffs in the album. The track goes through many different variances in tempo and instrumentation. In the middle of the track, it gets quite ethereal. It almost feels like a section right out of Opeth's album, Damnation. This also continues until almost right near the end where the blast beats come back and lead onto the final tack of the song, The Long Road III. The Sigh Of Summer. This starts off very Post Rockish and ethereal. At the 3:00 mark it picks back up somewhat with the Black Metal feel, but still continues on the ethereal Post Rock in the background. A little over the half way mark it gets a bit into a early day In Flames type riff before unleashing a fantastic guitar solo filled with killer double bass and leading back into an incredible Black Metal/Bluegrass riff. The song ends with a tribal background with some marching soundclips to close things out. Norwegian Nights is the next song and it is a 3 minute killer Bluegrass song that oddly enough has some clean vocals. Very acoustic paced and a nice break from Metal. From out of nowhere, In Silence comes and is easily the heaviest opening on the entire album. It almost feels likes like a Brutal death Metal riff with atmospheric guitars and fiddle outlays. After the brutality, it goes into somewhat of a Post Rock feel again with Black Metal screams. This leads back into a rollercoaster of dynamics between Post Rock and Black Metal throughout the rest of the song. Near the end of the song it goes a bit lo-fi on the drums while the Bluegrass section takes over again before one final blast of brutality to close things out. The final tack on this album is Chase The Grain, which arguably may be the finest song from Panopticon to date. While the Metal section is doing a killer Atmospheric Black Metal riff, the Bluegrass section is over top doing amazing leads and adding real emotion that tugs at you. The entire song has this great feeling of epic emotions that can make you close your eyes, slowly raise your fist and nod your head slowly. at the 3:07 mark it breaks down into an acoustic passage. It kicks back into Black Metal mode shortly after, but in a nice left turn, things get very symphonic with a dark and eerie sound that leads into a sinister Symphonic Black Metal segment. Right before the end of the album things get back into a nearly normal state where it plays somewhat of a reprise of the first riff of the song before closing off with an acoustic guitar that fades away to finish of Roads To The North.
Roads To The North, much like it's predecessor, Kentucky, is a spellbinding album. It's enchanting and hypnotizing. If you give it a real shot, the mixture of Black Metal and Folk and Bluegrass is something that hasn't really been captured before in a memorable way. This could be the breakthrough album for Panopticon that could lead them into possible Deafheaven territory, where taking Black Metal into a new light can get some real recognition. This is not an album to miss out on, be sure to pick this up and enjoy every second of it!
Panopticon- Roads To The North available August 1st via Bindrune Recordings and Nordvis
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
As many of you reading this know, I am very fortuneate to be able a lot of the band who come to the Twin Cities area. Unfortunately due to this show being the day of touring, an interview was not possible, but it was still a spectacular night for any Agalloch fan.
The first band up was Blood and Sun, they describe themselves as a Heathen Folk band. They were Acoustic Guitar, Cello, Violin (on half the set and Timpini (with a suspended cymbal). They were indeed as they described. to me it became to monotonous after a couple songs and with their possible and questional, hateful background (that's all the farther I will go into the topic) it made their set not enjoyable for me.
Next up was Obsidian Tongue. They are a 2 man Atmospheric Black Metal band. Just guitar/vocals and Drums. They are absolutely mindblowing live. Both of the guys know how to whip the crowd into a frenzy druing the fast sections and calm them down during the mellow passages. I do not know any of the songs they played as it was my first time seeing them and I had just discovered them, but I highly recommend checking these guys out both live and on record. It's a real treat for any Atmospheric Black metal fan.
Finally the night ended with Agalloch. It was their first time in Minnesota, to which they even said a couple songs in was a huge mistake on their part not playing here sooner. Agalloch mainly stuck to their two last albums, which to me is not disappointing as I love both of them. They did play some deepr cuts off albums like Pale Folklore and The Mantle as well, which were some of the biggest highlights to me. The biggest highlight of all was when they played Into A Painted Grey, the first song I ever heard from the band. The only disappointing factor in the show was a very annoying couple that was standing next to my girlfriend and myself. My girlfriend named them Douche Bro and Tits Magee. Both were drunk the whole Agalloch set, Tits being the bigger fan kept bumping into my girlfriend with said thingees and was cheering waaaaaaay too loudly for even the biggest Agalloch fan. Douche Bro was being what his name implied and was shouting for songs in between songs, but in stereotypical fashion it was songs like Free Bird, ...And Justice For All, and Nailed to The Cross. At one point John Hauhgm said "Sorry we don't play Free Bird anymore" but did play a riff from AJFA. Overall they put on a spectacular set. I would even dare venture to say those who don't enjoy the latest album from Agalloch, The Serpent & The Sphere, may be won over by the songs live. I know a lot of people bagging on the album before their set were won over afterwards.
Merch had a few shirts for $15, a longsleeve for $25, Vinyl for $30, CDs for 20-25 (Depending on what you got) A logo patch for $5 and a back patch for $10. I picked myself up an Agalloch shirt which I am currently wearing.
All in all if this is coming anywhere by you, I highly advise going. And get to the show early because tickets may be sold out by the time Agalloch hit the stage.
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.