Aziola Cry, The Ironic Divide (Sensory Records 2021)

Chicago instrumental metal trio Aziola Cry release their first album in twelve years, The Ironic Divide.

The band is Jason Blake (Warr guitar), Mike Milaniak (guitar), and Tommy Murray (drums). That looks like two guitars and drums, which might lead us down the path of thinking that the sound will be a little hollow. Not at all. For one thing, Jason Blake is playing a Warr guitar which has a huge range (do a quick internet search on the instrument to find out how amazing it is), and besides that, the compositions themselves are designed to fill your ears with layers of sound and depths of meaning.

There is a story the musicians are working with, too, and it helps to know it going in because there is no narrative vocal. “The forty-eight-minute album features four songs which tell the story of one person’s final descent. There are two types of people in this world. There are those who do good for others and make a positive contribution to society in some way. Then, there are those who do evil and hurt fellow humans. There is no rationale behind their behavior. They are cowards. This is their story.”

Naturally, the music is guitar heavy, driven by riffs and vastly enriched through the expansion of the instruments in an impressive variety of approaches and applications. The longest piece is the title track at twenty one minutes, and the others are hefty as well. For me, though, I took it all in as one work rather than trying to assemble separated meanings or looking at it like a track-by-track chronology.

The music is ambitious and there is no mistaking this for something other than a metal album. Instrumental heavy metal has always fascinated me and I find it to be one of the best ways to imbibe in the form. This is my first pass at Aziola Cry and I am off now to listen to the earlier albums. You can concentrate on this music intently or have it instead surround you as part of your environment. Either way, it will soak in. Recommended.

The Ironic Divide hits the streets on March 26th in CD digipak or digital forms.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://lasersedge.bandcamp.com/album/the-ironic-divide

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

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

Label, https://www.lasercd.com/cd/ironic-divide-preorder

Aziola Cry, The Ironic Divide (Sensory Records 2021)

Stellar Death, Fragments Of Light (2021)

Stellar Death’s debut album is an adventure in instrumental space prog that winds through disparate corners of the universe to coalesce in a fascinating unified semblance.

Matt Kozar and Scott Loose are the duo Stellar Death, playing instrumental music that lands a heavy blow. They have worked together for many years in the band Brave, and decided to branch out with this new project in order to shed any constraints on form. Both are guitarist and play keys, with Loose minding the percussion. There are eight pieces on the album, most in a fairly long design.

The opening song is a seven minute outline titled “The Astronomer.” Throughout its course, many of the elements and atoms that combine in the musical creation of the set are first introduced, including mesmerizing ambient sequences and forceful guitar movements. “Endless” is filled with sadness the way that Frank Zappa’s “Watermelon In Easter Hay” is, and that is meant to be a high compliment. Its companion piece, “Betelgeuse,” moves on from trauma and morning, turning a corner and picking up power. Heavier guitars and more rambunctious percussion returns in “Binary Collapse” to close side one.

On the back four, solitude is a reinforcing theme and a channel for momentous contemplation. “Everywhere and Nowhere” has quite dramatic moments, while “Critical Mass” presents the most tense passages in the eight minute leg. Stellar Death winds it down with “Afterglow,” offering up a spell of reflection and meditation. While this album will appeal perhaps most to the ambient crowd as it is on the less technical side of prog, anyone who likes instrumental rock will find a confrère here. Recommended.

The street date for Fragments Of Light is January 8th. Direct business is at Bandcamp for the download. Three songs are available now and you can listen to them instantly if you preorder the album.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://stellardeath.bandcamp.com/album/fragments-of-light

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

Stellar Death, Fragments Of Light (2021)

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Blitz Sessions review (2020)

Blitz Sessions is like a healing treatment, a therapy from the post-rock instrumentalists Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

“Instrumental love-letters to arctic ecosystems” is the entire entry in the ABOUT section of the band’s Facebook page. Brief and to the point. I can’t think of a better one line summary of this young Norwegian band’s sound. I lived in Alaska for ten years and I have been to the namesake site. This music would absolutely fit in there.

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is a five-piece band: Karl Løftingsmo Pedersen, Gunnar Christian Blix, Eivind André Imingen, Joakim Storeide, and Bjørn Trygve Skjerstad. The music relies heavily on synthesizers and steady guitar insinuations and pleas. Think Godspeed You! Black Emperor and you will be on the right track. Long passages with subtle variation or repetition and returning musical themes are the mainstay. There are three long pieces with one of them being split in two so count four if you like at seven+ minutes each – long enough to lull you. The music is like salve in that way that can be applied lightly (in the background while you are doing something else) or more liberally and with determination if you are looking for the somber tones to draw your daily anguish out of your mind like a slowly ebbing tide.

Out on Friday August 21, there is a cassette available at Bandcamp as well as the download option. I do not listen to this kind of music all the time, but when I want to hear it, this is what I am looking for.

Links.

https://yukondeltanational.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/YukonDeltaNational

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/yukon_delta/

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Blitz Sessions review (2020)