E-L-R, Vexier (Prophecy Productions 2022)

Swiss doomgaze trio E-L-R turn up the ponder knob on their sophomore album, Vexier.

With beginnings in Bern, E-L-R released their first album in 2019, Mænad. The musicians are listed in the press materials in an understated minimalistic way as S. M. (guitar, vocals), I. R. (bass, vocals), and M. K. (drums). They seem to want the album to speak for itself, so let’s honor that premise and give it a listen.

The five long tracks on Vexier begin with “Opiate The Sun.” It is a steady strum at first, slowly growing volume and presence. The clear feeling of Pink Floyd permeates in a Shine On You Crazy Diamond kind of way. The heavy guitars enter about three and a half minutes in – a welcome heavy herald. Listening is hypnotic. The music takes you to another place if you let it, an altered state. The cooldown is dripping water and, from that, slowly your consciousness returns to the here and now.

The next track, “Three Winds,” begins like a hurricane, pounding away at pace in percussion and riff. This one is heady, and it is the vocals that ultimately let you take flight. “Seeds” has an unsettling aspect to it that puts you a bit on edge, even with the reassuring deliberateness of the recurring riff.

“Fleurs of Decay” and “Floret” are the last two tracks, and they came together duet-like in my mind, whatever the intention might have been. A thread from the previous song is still running through, acting as a launching point. You feel the loop in your bones by now, and the doomgaze aspects have taken strongly ahold of your center. You want it to play out, and so it does. I think the experience can be different for each individual, and to some people there could very well be revelations layered into the music. For me, I felt rejuvenated at the end, reassured by the ayahuasca-like plane. Recommended.

Vexier is out on Friday, March 11th through Prophecy Productions. Links below.

Band photo by Ramon Lehmann.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://e-l-r.bandcamp.com/album/vexier

E-L-R website, https://www.e-l-r.band/

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

Prophecy Productions, https://us.prophecy.de/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

E-L-R, Vexier (Prophecy Productions 2022)

Lykhaeon, Opprobrium (Repose Records 2021)

Lykhaeon tells the tale of Persephone’s abduction by Hades in the most appropriate musical form: Black Metal.

Lykhaeon is a Swiss doom-laden black metal duo that began in 2013. It is comprised of “Kerberos – Throat and Doom and Meister T. – Tomb and Summoning.” Their first album came out in 2015, Tanz der Entleibten, followed by an EP in 2018, Ominous Eradication of Anguished Souls. The new album has a different feel than the first two entries in their catalogue. It is deeper and more complex.

Opprobrium tells the classic story of Persephone … “When the lust of immortals becomes insatiable, it is frequently the realm of mortals that serves as the spring from which all desire can be quenched and any thirst satiated. Such is the fate of Persephone, who is – according to some tellings – the victim of a cruel ploy, a conspiracy incarnate, whereby her flesh is beset by the desire of the deity Hades. In his arrogance, appearing before her on a gilded chariot, treachery allows Hades to abduct the seed.” There is a lot going on, and this is just the set-up.

The story is linear enough – it is just that there is so much to take in, making the album somewhat overwhelming. There are seven tracks, five of which I would call primary. You want to listen to them all straight through the get the full story, of course. Musically, there is a long intro that is very effective in setting the stage and instilling dread before the opening lyrical salvo of “A Stain Upon Celestial Rule,” presented in a familiar Black Metal motif encased in iron-heavy doom. A good beginning.

There is a familiar pattern to the music that, once established, lends a feeling of surety during the dark journey. When divergent passages break through, they are all the more powerful held against the established path. I especially like the sequence of “Descent Into Ruinous Splendor” and “Scorching the Wings of Destiny” – I admire the compositional ingenuity, the musical execution, and the lyrical commitment. Lykhaeon are all-in on this album, and it shows.

If you are looking for a classic tale set in the Black Metal universe and scaled to epic proportions, this album is for you. Recommended.

Opprobrium is out now. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Repose Records, https://www.reposerecords.com/

Lykhaeon, Opprobrium (Repose Records 2021)

Rorcal & Earthflesh, Witch Coven (Hummus Records 2021)

Witch Coven is the confluence of two rivers coming together in a symphony of Black Metal and Doom wretchedness.

Rorcal is a well-known Doom Metal band from Switzerland that started around 2006 and has released many long-players and EPs through the years. Earthflesh is Bruno da Encarnação who was the bassist for Rorcal until recently and is collaborating with the band under his new moniker. Other band members include Ron Lahyani (drums), Jean-Philippe Schopfer (guitar), Diogo Almeida (guitar), and Yonni Chapatte (vocals). The new album is quite different from what they have done before. It is at times harsh and dissonant, and overall is a fascinating combination of Doom, Noise, Ambient Metal, and Black Metal.

There are two long songs on the album. “Altars of Nothingness” opens with nearly three minutes of voices, like a small choir, in very creepy harmony. The middle is a ritualistic combination of Doom and Black Metal, with sizzling noise and ambient menace to accompany the vocal suffering, clipped and punched by percussion and crushing riffs. The long song ends with what sounds like the screaming of a mammal being sacrificed on an altar and then those voices again as the last thing the sacrifice hears.

“Happiness Sucks, So Do You” is side 2 and it is savage and confrontational at the gate. It is a relentless battering of percussion and guitar sawing and Black Metal vocalizations for the first third. Then we break through into the abyss, and the mood turns to hopelessness. Passing through then ultimately into a merciless dragging through sharp edges and heavy smashings. By the end you don’t have much left and all you can do is reflect.

The two pieces are very different. Both are challenging and journey-oriented. Taking different paths, they are separate explorations in a dark place that in the end combine into a discernable revelation. Recommended.

Witch Coven is out now. The digital is an easy get at Bandcamp, and Hummus Records has vinyl and merch bundles.

Links.

Website Rorcal, https://www.rorcal.com/

Bandcamp Rorcal, https://rorcal.bandcamp.com/

Bandcamp Earthflesh, https://earthflesh.bandcamp.com/

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

Facebook Earthflesh, https://www.facebook.com/earthfleshnoise

Label, https://hummus-records.com/

Rorcal & Earthflesh, Witch Coven (Hummus Records 2021)

Profond Barathre, Tinnitus (Hummus Records 2021)

The third album from Switzerland’s Profond Barathe is an instrumental journey through a dark wonderland without a firm concept of edges.

The band is Joachim Braekman (guitar), Morgan d’Argenteuil (drums), and Julien Floch (bass). The first album they released was Un voile de poussière in 2008, followed the very next year by Snaar. There was a split a few years later with Rorcal and Malvoisie that included the massive passage “Illunis,” but mainly the musicians were occupied in other quarters during this while until recently. Tinnitus, then, has been a long time coming and is therefore eagerly anticipated by fans.

The album was recorded a couple of years ago and seeing release only now. There are five long tracks on it, each conveying a unique aspect. “Stella” is ominous, like the story of a plague creeping in before anybody knows it is there. It carries the hallmarks of doom. “Spiritus” has no delineated boundary in a form I can recognize. I do hear black metal nuances in there, intended or not. The music is more active than in the opening song, more directly penetrating.

“Anima” is the most solemn entry of the set, a harbinger of the future of man. “Corpus” is cold and poignant, a marker for all the music herein perhaps but exemplified partiularly in this incarnation. The final track is “Terra” and the music seems sung by a choir of forlorn entities as they slowly diminish into nonexistence. Listening to it a second time prompted me to start at the beginning and when I did I came away with an even stronger sense of the ethereal. However it all came to be, the music on this record is moving in ways both quiet and thundering. Recommended.

Tinnitus is available in full on Friday, February 26th and can be preordered now. Hummus Records has a couple of vinyl versions in extremely limited supply.

Links.

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

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

Hummus Records, https://hummus-records.com/

Profond Barathre, Tinnitus (Hummus Records 2021)