Resonance - Diabolical Raw - Nytt Land - Houle -Candelmass
Diabolical Raw – Elegy of Fire Dusk 8.5/10
The result of Turkish duo multi-instrumentalist Ozan Tunc and vocalist Ozan Erkmen. ‘’ Elegy of Fire Dusk’’ is only their second record yet it is an elaborate concept album that revolves around Turkish Mythology and Kaygun, the daughter of the leader of the small Aykora clan, involving gods, evil and good spirits, and the underworld.
Such a large theme requires similar music and thankfully Diabolical Raw delivers this and then some. This is pure unadulterated symphonic black metal that becomes more intense and serpentine as the album progresses. Thirteen tracks over nearly eighty minutes is an indication the depth of storytelling and the music on offer. ‘’ Tilgen’s Fall’’ with its punishing combination of black metal fury and symphonic subtleties. This is so gloriously epic and musically intense that ‘’The Last War with Evil’’ parts I and II hit a creative zenith of darkened zeal and utter musical fury. Ozan Tunc’s command of every instrument is inspiring, the dynamics of ‘’ Face the Judgement’’ combine the extreme with extravagance. It is a delicate balance of capturing the great keyboard line without diminishing the mayhem underneath and they do this beautifully or should that be barbaric.
The interludes are a brief respite, “Uprising” allows you to draw breath with its classical intonements and sense of rousing movement before hurtling into the militaristic and Mediterranean-flavoured chaos that is ‘’Talking with Gods’’, the whole album is relentless yet melodic, and pure in its approach of sweeping cinematic moments and utter black metal depravity delivered with such vehemence courtesy of the vocals and the raging blast beats.
Elegy of Fire Dusk is such a massive album that you are left lightly numb after its conclusion so large are its themes and its delivery over such a lengthy running time. This is symphonic black metal with raging solos and keyboards, an absolute must for fans of the genre and those who love their music truly darkened and demanding.
Nytt Land – Ritual: Blood of the West 8.5/10
The purists may be shocked but the serenity and cinematic feel of the opener ‘’ Dark Country. Ritual’’ is undeniable and it is also pure Nytt Land. This is a reimagining of their previous LP Ritual that is warm welcoming and authentic.
The Duo from Siberia, Russia have merged both eastern and western cultures with a healthy dose of nineteenth-century gothic aesthetic, the solo from the ‘’ The Blues of Ragnarok’’ is desolate and lonely, the soundscapes of a sweeping field tangible and the throat singing remains as prevalent as ever. The combination of eastern folk and western country is inspired and genuine, it is an experiment that is well thought out yet remains impassioned. Each track gives as much devotion as the original compositions, their love for pure blues and country unabashed and it is merged seamlessly with the original folk compositions.
‘’Dead Man’s Ballad’’ is haunting, the guitar interplay understated and Natalya Pakhalenko’s vocals soar amongst the clouds yet remain grounded, it is hopeful yet almost desperately lonely. ‘’ Blood Of the West’’ is the new transportive instrumental track that conjures rich images whilst ‘’ Song of U-Gra’’ maintains the ritual and the underappreciated male / female vocal combination that is trance-like and serene, the depth and significance as important as ever.
Ritual: Blood of the West is as elegant and as thought-provoking as the original yet not quite long enough, it is an EP that is brief, beautiful and hauntingly striking. Ritual: Blood of the West will convert you to the seduction that is Nytt Land and discover a new appreciation for both genres.
Houle – Houle 7.5/10
Transferring the struggles of man against the overwhelming forces of nature and the immensity of the ocean is Houle. This French collective aspires to convey the emotions and epic images of a vast and unrelenting journey on this debut release.
Stylistically ranging from pure cold black metal to a rock-infused melodic sensibility and long respites of atmosphere and restrained elegance Houle (to lift up or move) make great use of their ocean samples and their native language to craft a tale that is rich and exotic. It is also cold and razor-sharp the main riff from ‘’ Au Loin La Tempête’’ (Away the Storm) is particularly savage and unrelenting and the band’s darkest moment, reflective of nature’s turmoil and man’s hopelessness against it. The percussion is textured and also capable of some excellent blasting that adds some dynamics to the evocative and emotional nature of the album
‘’La Dernière Traversée’’ (The Last crossing) is where the subtlety and textures merge perfectly with the darkened sharp riffing that is penetrating and suffocating. The restrained drumming and slight picking present a calm serenity of a still ocean from the preceding storms, the hidden clean vocals an inflection of nature’s cry during the more chaotic sections. The punk rock-powered ‘’Sous l’Astre Noir” (Beneath the Dark Star) is an optimistic closer yet still full of Adsagsona’s tortured vocals
Houle is a complete work that is atmospheric and is able to combine unhinged fury with tempered passages of serenity. Houle presents the evolution of black metal in a new direction that represents another side of nature that is vast multifaceted and unconquerable.
Candlemass – Sweet Evil Sun 8.5/10
Sweden’s Candlemass are one of the big four of doom before it became known as doom. Since 1982 they have defined and perfected the art of huge monolithic riffs and soaring vocals, epic themes that touch upon the mystical, spiritual and the nature of man. Their history is without question or peers. Sweet Evil Sun is a work of art eighteen months in the making and it is lucky album 13 reuniting the original line-up
The opening riff to ‘’Wizard of the Vortex’’ is simply massive and the vocal work of Johan Längqvist is steeped in mysticism and clarity. His phrasing so clear and pronounced as it should be, yet is it is also masculine and tough. This is real metal, heavy without using false aggression or volume to get its point across, and each story is told succinctly and emotionally. ‘’Angel battle’’ is the perfect pure metal track staggeringly heavy with classic touches of the genre (that they helped create) and an ode to the battle of the heavens. It is a maelstrom of power and intensity that is full of highlights, from the title track to ’’ Black Butterfly ‘’ the solos pronounced the back beat full of power, the element of darkness tangible, Längqvist vocals again a highlight and the pairing with Jennie-Ann Smith on “When Death Dies” is the perfect counterpoint and juxtaposition of darkness and light, suspense and dread.
‘’Goddess’’ is a worship and anthem to the mighty riff in its perfect form. The Hammond organ and choral overtones are dramatic, building to an almighty crescendo that only the metal gods can bestow onto those worthy of such talent. ‘’Scandinavian Gods”’ is simply more Candlemass excellence, ominous and compelling
Sweet Evil Sun is the damn near perfect truly heavy metal record. It is imbued with a sense of style and fervour unique to the band that remains fresh and exciting, it is epic, passionate and a masterwork of pure talent.