In The Woods…, Diversum (Soulseller 2022)

Progressive black rock and metal band In The Woods… returns with a nuanced perspective on Diversum.

In The Woods… formed in Norway in 1991 alongside, in many ways, Green Carnation. Their earliest expressions were black metal, and later they were one of the first bands to refer to their music as pagan metal. I am most familiar with what sounds to me more avant-garde and prog-like from this group. The new album shines a light on familiar places as well as along less well-trodden pathways. The band is Anders Kobro (drums), Bernt Sørensen (guitar), Nils Olav Drivdal (bass, keys), Bernt Fjellestad (vocals), Kåre André Sletteberg (guitar, keys), and Alf Erik Sørensen (session keys).

“The Coward’s Way” is surprisingly straight-forward in structure with a gentle intro and an emotional rock delivery. It does swerve off into lands peculiar toward the end and that’s when I knew I was in the right place. “Moments” is a direct meshing of discordant elements in that the rhythm structure does not match, in a conventional way, the vocal presentation. As the song goes on, there is more of a meeting of the minds, but there is plenty of start-and-stop and swing and chop all the way through. “We Sinful Converge” is off in another direction, soaring on wings of high production. There is an episode of lostness in the middle, creating an important reference before the return to the earlier framing. It is a fascinating beginning.

“The Malevolent God” is very dramatic, taking the mood to a dire crescendo. It is my favorite track on the record for that set up and the amazing middle chopping riff and ramble, spiced with a slick lead break. I also appreciate the closer, “Your Dark.” This final song takes a soothing vocal mediation in precedence to screeching singing and heavy guitars, reverting at last to an off-balance placidity. A curious excursion indeed. Recommended.

Diversum is out now through Soul Seller Records. Follow up at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/diversum

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

Soulseller Records, https://www.soulsellerrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

In The Woods…, Diversum (Soulseller 2022)

Photo Gallery: Eyes Of The Living, Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Eyes Of The Living website, https://eyesoftheliving.com/

Tennessee Metal Devastation, https://metaldevastationradio.com/Metal-Devastation-Music-Fest

FFMB article on Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/11/tennessee-metal-devastation-lexington-tennessee-october-8-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Eyes Of The Living, Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022

Stones Of Babylon, Ishtar Gate (Raging Planet 2022)

Instrumental doom band Stones of Babylon unfurl their second full-length album, Ishtar Gate.

Stones of Babylon is from Lisbon, Portugal. They play a psychedelic-infused brand of instrumental doom. They came together five years ago, and have released a demo, a live album, and the debut long-player Hanging Gardens. The band is Alexandre Mendes (guitar), João Medeiros (bass), and Pedro Branco (drums).

What’s the album about, you ask. “Somewhere in Babylon, in a space almost lost in time, the eighth gate of the city was erected. Like any door, the Ishtar Gate symbolizes access to coded worlds, the closing of crossroads, or simply the thunderous force of power.” When you peruse the track list, you get a further idea of the geographic and mythological locus of the themes explored in the music. In any case, with instrumental music you can make it about anything you want when you listen. However, in this case, the music matches the theme perfectly and knowing the ideas behind it all improves the listening.

There are six long tracks on the album, starting with “Gilgamesh (…and Enkidu’s demise).” The riffs are massive and extra buzzy, filling the space around you ears. The first lead guitar enters a couple of minutes in, and a little later, the Middle Eastern nuances of the music step into the spotlight. The pairing of these seemingly divergent attitudes is one of the main sources of the music’s strength. “Anunnaki” follows, stepping in with a lighter approach than its predecessor. Quiet and cautious, the music builds slowly. You wait more than two minutes for the wall of guitar to bowl you over. “Pazuzu” begins with a spoken narration (from The Exorcist) introducing the evil spirit for which the song is named. To me, the riffs on this song are the most threatening so far – they generate at least trepidation, if not fear. The quieter passages, then, stage an anticipation that evolves quickly into dread. Well done.

Side two: “The Gate of Ishtar,” “The Fall of Ur,” and “Tigris & Euphrates.” The final three songs are where I was absorbed fully into the music. Each track is quite different, and yet they go together like movements of a larger whole. You can listen to one at a time, but I think the experience is greatly enhanced by taking it all in at once in a single sitting. I love instrumental doom music and Stones of Babylon does it right. Highly recommended.

Ishtar Gate is out now through Raging Planet Records in digital, CD, and vinyl. For this one, I would go with vinyl. The music lends itself to the form.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://stonesofbabylon.bandcamp.com/album/ishtar-gate

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

Raging Planet Records, http://ragingplanet.pt/

© Wayne Edwards

Stones Of Babylon, Ishtar Gate (Raging Planet 2022)

Photo Gallery: Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf, Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Dyerwulf Bandcamp, https://tommystewartsdyerwulf.bandcamp.com/album/doomsday-deferred

Tennessee Metal Devastation, https://metaldevastationradio.com/Metal-Devastation-Music-Fest

FFMB article on Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/11/tennessee-metal-devastation-lexington-tennessee-october-8-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf, Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022

Estrangement, Disfigurementality (Aesthetic Death 2022)

Baroque funeral doom band Estrangement present their first full-length offering, Disfigurementality.

Estrangement is the creation of Australian musician JS, a multidisciplinary metal master. He incorporates baroque music with his metal premises, engaging the talents of other artists for the additional (non-metal) instruments such as double bass, violin, cello, piano, flute, and classical guitar. Add in guttural vocalizations and throat singing, and you have something new under the sun. This musical project has been active since 2010, releasing a demo and a split along the way. Disfigurementality is the first long-player by Estrangement.

“Destitution Stench” brings melancholy strings and a sorrowful, warning voice. It seems introductory at first, but really I think the song is better described as an invocation. “Detritivore” is the first track that gives you a clear view of what to expect for the rest of the album. Told at a funeral doom pace, the integration of grating, tortured vocals with strings, massive guitar riffs, percussion, and a flute is off in a direction you have never heard before, unless you have heard Estrangement.

There are slower, melodic movements throughout the set, like “Belong Beneath,” that have a soothing effect. Still, while you are hearing them, listening, you know that any moment the music will take a darker turn. Massive songs like “Womb of Worlds” and, especially, “Doppelganger,” are extensive journeys with rich, divergent constructions living together in both turmoil and harmony. I can hear this record as a funeral doom album, and I can also hear it as death metal. It is best just to admit that it isn’t any one thing, and take the trip for all it is worth. Recommended.

Disfigurementality is out on Friday, November 25th through Aesthetic Death. Find out more at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://estrangement.bandcamp.com/album/disfigurementality

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

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Estrangement, Disfigurementality (Aesthetic Death 2022)

Photo Gallery: Candlebox, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Candlebox website, https://www.candleboxrocks.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, https://blueridgerockfest.com/

FFMB article on Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/06/blue-ridge-rock-festival-alton-virginia-september-8-11-2022/

Ryze-Up Magazine feature, https://www.ryze-up.com/ryze-up-magazine-current-issue/ryze-up-magazine-october-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Candlebox, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Beyond The Void, The Machinist (Great Dane 2022)

Death metal disrupters Beyond The Void release their first full-length album, The Machinist.

Beyond The Void is a death metal band from France. They have been around for less than a lustrum, releasing their inaugural EP Ex Nihilo Nihil in 2020. Their truculent brand of metal is even better expressed in the long form of the new album. The band is Antoine Grasser (guitar), Maxime le Corre (drums), Cyril Cozza (vocals), Antoine Bieber (guitar), and Laurent Schmitt (bass).

After an eerie prelude of disturbing angular strings, the album gets going with a signature titular song. The vocals are gruff, with occasional pairings for depth and hiss. The guitars are aggressive, stabbing, with hooks appearing and going off at unpredictable intervals. There is a detectable 1980s injection that is nice to hear, and a number of other elements that are difficult to characterize. Swimming and fighting together, these musical pieces somehow achieve synergy. “From The Sky” follows, the longest track and a departure into a more measured, but no less peculiar, landscape. The slow pace dissolves into frenzy before much time passes, spinning you around and showing you a different view. The effect is exhilarating while also being disequilibrating.

The album is one fired canon after another. Their music has been described as brutal death metal, and it is, some of the time. That is not all, though, as there is a mad collaboration with less caustic musical enterprises that smashes together in a sonic particle collider yielding spectacular results. Look for “Hymns Of Annihilation” especially as the perfect example of this creation in action. “The Shadow In My Mind” is a wild one that will make you dizzy, and the title track is an urgent closer. After listening to this record, I consider myself shook up. Recommended.

The Machinist is out now through Great Dane Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick the digital or CD.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greatdanerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-machinist

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

Great Dane Records, https://www.greatdanerecs.com/eshop/web/

© Wayne Edwards

Beyond The Void, The Machinist (Great Dane 2022)

Photo Gallery: Bad Wolves, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Bad Wolves website, https://badwolvesnation.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, https://blueridgerockfest.com/

FFMB article on Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/06/blue-ridge-rock-festival-alton-virginia-september-8-11-2022/

Ryze-Up Magazine feature, https://www.ryze-up.com/ryze-up-magazine-current-issue/ryze-up-magazine-october-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Bad Wolves, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Candlemass, Sweet Evil Sun (Napalm 2022)

Legendary doom metal band Candlemass release their thirteenth studio album, Sweet Evil Sun.

One of the earliest and most influential doom bands to ever rise, Candlemass formed in Sweden in the early 1980s. Few question the significance of the band’s first full-length album, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986), and, for me, it is a record I can return to time and again with no loss of awe. I greet each new Candlemass release with a sort of luxurious expectancy, and I have never been disappointed. The most recent long-player, The Door To Doom (2019), continues to get regular spins in the den, and there is no doubt Sweet Evil Sun will receive the same treatment. Candlemass is Johan Lanquist (vocals), Lars Johansson (guitar), Mappe Björkman (guitar), Leif Edling (bass), Janne Lind (drums).

The characterizing elements of the music are massive guitar riffs, sweeping melodic vocals, and mesmerizing lead guitar work. The choruses tend to be memorable, even catchy, and the reliable structure of the songs creates anticipation in a state of recurring temporal existence that is unswervingly rewarded.

The first of nine songs is “Wizard of the Vortex.” It opens with a clobbering riff that is tense and foreboding. When Johan Lanquist begins to sing, the trepidation grows. An early guitar flourish sinks the hooks in deep enough for measurable permanence so that when the instrument returns halfway through you are ready for the bigger presentation. The opening thunder returns, and the music moves toward its resolution. It is clear we are on the path. The next track is the title piece, and I have heard it before because it was released earlier as a single. This song shows clearly what the album, in its completely unfurling, will reveal.

“Angel Battle” is one of the heaviest pieces on the record, and that gives it high starting marks. After the intriguing dirge-like opening, the guitars turn more active, pressing the advance. “Black Butterfly” similarly inspires dread, calling forth some of the vibes I remember from the first time I heard Rainbow’s “Gates Of Babylon,” but with the signature Candlemass guitar sound and expression. “Goddess” is the final song, appropriately mournful. The last word is the short yet formidable outro piece “A Cup of Coffin.” The album is excellent. It is exactly what I was expecting and hoping to hear. Highly recommended.

Sweet Evil Sun is out now through Napalm Records. Investigate the possibilities at the links below.

Band photo by Linda Akerberg.

Links.

Candlemass website, https://candlemass.se/

Bandcamp, https://candlemass.bandcamp.com/album/sweet-evil-sun

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

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/candlemass

© Wayne Edwards

Candlemass, Sweet Evil Sun (Napalm 2022)

Photo Gallery: Apocalyptica, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Apocalyptica website, https://www.apocalyptica.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, https://blueridgerockfest.com/

FFMB article on Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/06/blue-ridge-rock-festival-alton-virginia-september-8-11-2022/

Ryze-Up Magazine feature, https://www.ryze-up.com/ryze-up-magazine-current-issue/ryze-up-magazine-october-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Apocalyptica, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022