The quintet named Niphredil comes from Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and plays a form of atmospheric black/doom.
According to the band, they finished their first, and self-titled EP just before Christmas three years ago. The material has for some reason not been released until now.
That's all I know about the band. Hopefully the guys have written more music during these years, for this certainly measures up.
Intro and outro together makes up 4 pointless minutes. We concentrate on the 19 minutes of music that's located in between, in the form of two long songs.
I - Beneath the Earth begins quite calm and melancholic, whilst building in strength. Two minutes after the launch, the booster rockets are released. We sail through the void without friction. Then we hit a meteor storm, and all hell breaks loose, with fierce riffing and sharp vocals. All this before even halfway through the song.
More dramatic transitions occur before ten minutes long II - Myriads of Stars follows. This begins its ethereal voyage slow and resounding. This one also goes through different sequences, but does not change as abruptly. The songs' tough, syrupy consistency, gives it a more funeraly feel, even though it takes on faster paces at times.
Niphredil offers an impressive first EP, which can be obtained for an optional sum.
With a little bit of luck, we'll hear from the Ecuadorians again soon enough.
Werewolf Records&Hells Headbangers, 26.01.18
The one-man band Vargrav comes from Finland, and has spent its first years honing the scythe for a greatest possible effect during its first offensive.
With Netherstorm, our antagonist V-Khaoz offer a draught from the past, an ice wind from the underworld. Vargrav recreates a bygone era where synthesizers created controversies and division, but the band do so without sounding diluted and “poppy”. The band rather combines the synth's coldest sensation of irreversible dystopia with a razor sharp black contempt, à la Grafvitnir.
The result: a nostalgic revisit with the most sadistic and satanic aspects of what once was a nameless sub genre, and that which will always remain a controversial style within the utmost swells of the wake of black metal.
Similarities to everything from Dimmu Borgir's symphonic approach to Burzum's ambient material can be traced. The press release mentions similarities with Obtained Enslavement, Abigor, Limbonic Art, and Emperor. I hear Thus Spake The Nightspirit in Limbo of Abysmal Void. I hear Obtained Enslavement in the detail's playful, yet somewhat complex acrobatics in the background. I hear Limbonic Art, and especially Venomous Kiss of Profane Grace at the start of Shadowed Secrets Unmasked, but what I hear most is Evilfeast. It's not a coincidence that I've chosen to review these artists side by side, so to speak.
Vargrav also offer a nostalgic reminder of the past, where cutting guitars, sharp, rasping voice and the biting cold atmosphere of the synthesizer bicker over room. This despite a futuristic touch of cosmic vibes in Ethereal Visions of a Monumental Cataclysm. The sound is a veritable whirlwind; overwhelming but not too intense. Where Elegies of the Stellar Wind below lasts for 58 minutes, Netherstorm are content with spending 53. Rather than rambling on and on, I'll let you listen for yourself. Fans of heretic witchcraft and profane frozen ambience are strongly recommended to examine both of these albums with sharpened ears. Vargrav's approach might show signs of a dash more singularity. At least, in the presence, I appreciate this a notch or two higher. Rating: 5
Eisenwald Tonschmiede, 15.12.17
Last year we took a closer look at the more than ten year old sophomore album by Polish Evilfeast, Funeral Sorcery (2005). An album consisting of biting guitar and vocals, ambient elements and grainy soundscape.
What I wasn't aware of at the time, was that Evilfeast had new material on the horizon.
Elegies of the Stellar Wind is the first album from GrimSpirit's one-man man band since 2011, and was released in the twelfth hour last year.
Not unexpected, especially with such long awaited material, it's another long lasting album that meets the listener. Elegies of the Stellar Wind is still studded with sharp guitars, but the sound is not quite as cutting this time. On the contrary, the album is more atmospheric. As long as the soaring atmosphere is wrapped in serrated aversion and hurried pace, however, the journey through the night never becomes a gothic dance on withered roses.
The sound is fittingly jarring and gritty. This mixture provides strong associations to Québécois métal de noir, such as Sombres Forêts, Sorcier Des Glaces, and the likes. The album is recorded and produced in solitude in GrimSpirit's own Funeral Sound Studio, before Greg Chandler - well-known producer and active musician in Lychgate, among others - has mastering the album.
Despite lack of a Gothic atmosphere, you may want to prepare for occasional moods of vampires. Deep in the midst of impassable forests, there is namely a castle in dormitory located on a windy ridge. We never really see the alleged resident, Count Dracula, but we sense his presence. And he appears in our dreams in From the Northern Wallachian Forest... Tyranny Returns. What we sense strongest, however, is eerie energies and malicious spirits who tries to chase us away, at the same time as vamps try to lure and attract us with seductive laughter.
Elegies of the Stellar Wind is not as necrotic as Funeral Sorcery, but it offers unwelcome and hostile, yet beautiful atmosphere, in meeting with a fair, yet cold and dim atmosphere of woodlands and mountains, winter and night time. The excellent cover art was painted by the German portrait and landscape painter Edmund Koken (1814-1872). Rating: 4+
Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Production, 26.01.18
“Seven deadly sins, seven ways to win ....
seven are your burning fires, seven your desires” (Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson) Monolithe's seventh album, Nebula Septem, sees band-chief Sylvain Bégot obsess over the number 7.
7 artists have partaken on 7 songs of exactly 7 minutes each. You'd think it'd feel unnatural for the songs to end right there, but it doesn't. Even when focusing on it.
Those who know their multiplication table, can reckon the number of the beast, or at least find that Nebula Septem lasts for precisely 49 minutes. On the dot.
Thus, our French friends has once again reduced the duration per song. As you might know, Monolithe started with compositions of around the hour on their first four albums. These were reviewed collectively in Norwegian here, and you'll have to make do with Google translate this time. The band was split up, but came back, and released the twin albums Epsilon Aurigae and Zeta Reticuli, with three songs of 15 minutes each. Time is again ripe for a touch of change.
The line-up has undergone some minor changes since last time. First and foremost, Richard Loudin (Nydvind), the bands vocalist since the inception, is now out of the picture. His replacement in the band is new guitarist/vocalist Rémi Brochard (Ethmebb), whereas Sébastien Pierre of Enshine has stepped in to put down vocals on Nebula Septem as session musician. In addition, Matthieu Marchand, who's been playing synthesizer live for Monolithe since 2015, is now permanent keyboardist in addition to the band's founder, who continues to take care of both guitar, keyboard and programming. Otherwise, the line-up is the same as on the last two albums.
The band's sonic trademark; deep hypnotic suggestion, again assert itself. Like a more intense, leaden and resonant Pink Floyd with guttural vocals from the grave. Or in this case; from the ethereal beyond. The use of distortion also makes a significant difference, although Monolithe ain't the most fuzz-heavy in class. In the background lies heavy guitars, powerful drums and thunderous bass, forming a troop of ogres patrolling the forest. But as vigilant winged demons on the lookout from their bird-perspectives, brighter guitar tones plough the wind up underneath the clouds.
Andrew Guillotin, who mixed and mastered the previous two albums, among others, has been part of the recording in Hybreed Studios, while the final production was left to Jari Lindholm (Enshine, Exgenesis). The sound is resounding and unearthly, with distinctive bass, and an almost organic touch - despite some synthetic ingredients. And it fits the material perfectly. In connection with Epsilon Aurigae, we discussed the band's relationship to dynamic range. This time, they've fallen down to DR7, without the sound becoming too compact.
When tuning in on the moods of music, referring to trolls and devil-spawn simply doesn't cut it. We have to leave earth's gravitational field, and move into astral spheres. The French are exploring space again with their own sonic space program. In this setting, the space-pioneer's bright guitar tunes are perceived as probes with artificial intelligence, sent out to reconnoitre, as well as to analyse any given discovery with the purpose of mapping and for harvesting resources. Synth blends with these light guitar tones, giving the right sonic atmosphere for a stellar journey. Even elements of electronica slide naturally in. Subtle pulses in the first half of Delta Scuti only work as a warning. Increasing doses in the two following songs leads to full integration of synthetic well-being in the first half of final, and instrumental, Gravity Flood. In the last half, it's guitars that act as cosmic radiation, following us like dolphins on our journey across the sea of stars.
Once again, there's no major surprises to meet the listener. But existing fans of Monolithe's slow melodic death/doom will get what they came for, and more. Monolithe is not only better than most in the class, they surpass much of their own material, and deliver one of their better albums. For the connoisseurs out there, we're talking material on level with Monolithe IV and Epsilon Aurigae, give or take. Rating: 5
I also recommend you to see Monolithe's own documentary, Innersight, if you're interested. It confirmes my suspicions regarding the vox, by the way.