Gåte, Nord (Indie Recordings 2021)

Heavy folk band Gåte release their fifth album, Nord.

It has been more than twenty years since Gåte first got together in Norway. They have released eight previous recordings – four each of EPs and LPs. The music is what I call acoustic doom. I am also at peace with doom folk as a label. The musicians are Gunnhild Sundli (vocals and violin), Magnus Børmark (guitar, vocals, and percussion), Sveinung Sundli (Hardanger fiddle, organ, vocals, and percussion) Jon Even Schærer (percussion and vocals).

“Solfager og Ormekongen” has the sound of a soft and soulful tale with persistent tamping percussion, organic huffing in the background, strings, and the occasional impression of woodland creatures. The English translation of the title is “Solfager and the Worm King” and there is a detailed description of the story, too, in the press materials. It is nice to read, and certainly interesting, but it also a little like cheating since I will never understand the lyrics when I hear them sung. Whenever I hear songs in a language I do not know, the vocal becomes a pure instrument with only the literal sound and the emotional expression that comes through the presence of the singer’s voice. It is an incomplete experience but it is also an unclouded one.

I love Gunnhild Sundli’s voice and, listening to it without narrative understanding, I am nonetheless transfixed. This is not metal, not even folk metal. And yet, listen to “Rideboll og Gullborg” and tell me it is not heavy in tone and deep in ponderment. Like doom music. The folk setting and the use of traditional instruments, especially the heavy reliance on percussion, changes the perspective and style, but does not disturb the seriousness or the depth of emotion. To me, it is enthralling. Recommended.

Nord is out on Friday, December 3rd through Indie Recordings. Bandcamp is the place to go in the US for an easy acquisition.


Website, https://gaate-music.com/

Bandcamp, https://gaate.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Gaateband

Indie Recordings, https://shop.indierecordings.no/

Gåte, Nord (Indie Recordings 2021)

Plum Green, Somnambulistic (Nefarious Industries 2021)

Back with a new collection of beautifully dark songs, Plum Green releases Somnambulistic.

Plum Green is from Melbourne, Australia. She has released a string of captivating albums in the last decade that that convey solemnity, almost as a berceuse for the grave. This is especially true on the new album. The music is dark and quiet, and it leaves an impression.

The opening song begins with beautiful, soothing, lyrical passages, but in a way that could be the soundtrack to euthanasia. That first track, “Raspberry Vine,” is very much what I mean when I talk about Acoustic Doom. In the press materials, the music is described as “atmospheric dream folk,” and I like that description, too. It is the emotion that is heavy and that does not require loudness.

There are strong gothic elements here as well. In the second track, “Eyes Shut,” the vocalizations draw a strong eidolon of Johnette Napolitano without really sounding much like her. It is bewitching, this music. It takes you away with its gentleness and at the same time has an emotionally penetrating effect. Like the singing of a wraith that means you no harm – or appears to mean you no harm – you find yourself trusting the music to have a meaningful effect on you.

The strings on “Grave Snuggler” have a hypnotizing effect. And Green’s voice, of course. Every track is enchanting and mysterious. The vocal duet on “Belleza Nocturna” was a surprise and it fit in perfectly with the rest of the set. Eerie, engaging, and unforgettable, Plum Green is an artist you should know about. Start with this new album and work your way backward through the catalogue. What you will find might surprise you. Recommended.

Somnambulistic is available on September 17th through Nefarious Industries. Explore the links below.

Band photo by Zach Salar.


Bandcamp, https://plumgreen.bandcamp.com/

Plum Green website, http://www.plumgreenmusic.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/plumgreenmusic

Nefarious Industries, https://www.nefariousindustries.com/collections/new-releases/products/somnambulistic

Plum Green, Somnambulistic (Nefarious Industries 2021)

Musk Ox, Inheritance (2021)

The new album from Musk Ox offers beautiful, haunting Acoustic Doom.

Musk Ox is Nathanael Larochette (guitar), Raphael Weinroth-Browne (cello), and Evan Runge (violin). This is exactly what it appears to be: a classical music trio. I know this is not the wheelhouse for many heavy music fans, but it will hit the right note for some because this music is an excellent example of Acoustic Doom – all of the sorrow, hopelessness, strife, and emotion without the electricity.

Side one is the title song in two tracks. The opening minutes are ethereal and cautionary; low and intense. The introduction of the guitar as a rhythm element allows the bow instruments to present melody, alternately, and harmony. Slow-paced and mournful, there is meaning here for everyone that will manifest individually as you listen.

Side two has three tracks, “Memoriam,” “Ritual,” and “Weightless.” These songs are a little more active and lighter, technically, with a different kind of intensity and depth. Moments of urgency, especially in “Weightless,” drive home the emotion and ideas. While these three pieces do stand clearly apart from the other music, they all fit well together. There is doom here if you will have it.

It is also worth knowing that, if you like Musk Ox, the new solo album from Raphael Weinroth-Browne will also appeal to you. It is a live performance of the long cello piece Worlds Within Live. There is a link for this one below as well. In some ways this music is more intense and personal than the trio. It is a vast, rich tapestry that traverses a range of concepts, spending a considerable amount of time in the land of prog.

Inheritance is available on Friday, July 9th and Worlds Within Live is out now. I recommend both for Acoustic Doom fans and for other heavy music enthusiasts who want to hear something very different that has déjà vu familiarity to it.

Musk Ox Photo by Jonathan Lorange.


Bandcamp, https://muskoxofficial.bandcamp.com/album/inheritance

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MuskOxOfficial/

Raphael Weinroth-Browne, Worlds Within Live, https://raphaelweinroth-browne.bandcamp.com/album/worlds-within-live

Musk Ox, Inheritance (2021)

Amigo The Devil, Born Against (2021)

The Murder Folk maestro Amigo The Devil returns to remind us of the woe of reality with Born Against.

Amigo the Devil is Danny Kiranos. In live performances he stands alone on the stage, usually alternating between an acoustic guitar and a banjo to accompany his solitary voice. His music is most often described as Murder Folk because of the subjects he sings about. If you asked me, I would call it Acoustic Doom.

Several EPs have been issued and a couple of compilations came out to gather them up. In 2018 the full-length album Everything Is Fine appeared, and now we have Born Against. The themes Kiranos explores are sometimes unusually graphic in the context of the musical delivery and that aspect will grab your attention. What you stay for, though, is the depth of the feeling conveyed and human story that underlies it all.

Two singles appeared before the album dropped, “Another Man’s Grave” and “Quiet As A Rat.” The former is delivered in beautiful troubadour style and is the perfect example of the juxtaposition I was referring to – the singing and the theme seem at odds. Of course, they really aren’t, are they? That might just be part of the point. In the latter, the Chicago-jazz style gives the song more of a playful background for the violence that is described. The video for this song is truly inspired – drop everything now and watch it on YouTube if you haven’t seen it yet.

You’ll recognize the singles, then, when you listen to the album, but don’t gloss over the rest of the set. My favorites are “Murder In The Bingo Hall” and “24K Casket” in the up-tempo category and “Different Anymore” along with “Shadow” in the more somber lane. Even so, every track is memorable. I recognize something in my life, my history, or myself in every song. Kiranos is giving voice to things we feel but that we choose to hold in silence. It is good to hear it aloud, even if the truth is hard to take.

Born Against is out now. Buy it on Bandcamp or hit the link to the website for Amigo The Devil and there are links to everywhere else there, too. Highly recommended.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, 2019 Sonic Temple Festival.


Bandcamp, https://amigothedevil.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://www.amigothedevil.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/amigothedevil

Amigo The Devil, Born Against (2021)

Spaceslug, Leftovers (2020)

This lockdown music from Spaceslug is a dose of acoustic Doom.

From Wrocław, Poland, Spaceslug is a band whose name should live in your brain. Since 2016, they have released three LPs, three EPs, and a split. With that kind of work ethic it is no surprise they were intent on creating new music during the pandemic. The band members are Bartosz Janik (guitars and synths), Jan Rutka (bass and vocals), and Kamil Ziółkowski (drums, guitar, and vocals).

Spaceslug is a Doom band, but the music they create is definitely not what most people would first think of as Doom. I have started to read more frequently the observation that Spaceslug has a Pink Floyd atmosphere in their music, and I am beginning to agree, never more so than with Leftovers. It is largely acoustic music (actual, and acoustic-style, if you know what I mean) that carries a pervasive tone of Doom, composed in complex and thoughtful arrangements.

There are five songs on the new EP, starting with “Wasted Illusion.” It is a trippy and ethereal beginning, with mellow tones and a lot of synth infusion. Next is “Behind The Glass,” which sounds like music for an arid desert if that desert was actually floating in outer space. “The Birds Are Loudest In May” raises melancholy to a mission critical level. “Place To Turn” is positively peppy in the context of the previous songs, but the underlying sense of dread is there, strong enough to make you uneasy. The title track is last, and it is the most ponderous of the set. It is a real whiskey and razor blade situation. If you want a helping of Doom with no fuzz or feedback, this Spaceslug EP is the ticket for you. Recommended.

Leftovers is out now as a download or CD. Go to Bandcamp for the quick pick up. You can also get a t-shirt there, and more of the band’s music.

Band photo grabbed from their Facebook page.


Bandcamp, https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/spaceslugband/

Spaceslug, Leftovers (2020)