New Hampshire post-black metal outfit Vattnet Viskar are poised to release a 2015 highlight (and possibly their best work yet!) with their upcoming record Settler. A lot of post-black bands these days tend to be on the flowery side of the spectrum, but what makes Vattnet Viskar such a great act is that they really do feel like a solid meld of black metal and the type of expansive post-metal descended from the strings of Neurosis rather than anything in the vicinity of Alcest or Deafheaven. So in case you’re unfamiliar with the act, don’t judge them by their genre and the peculiar album artwork — which, by the way, was inspired by this photo of Christa McAuliffe, the schoolteacher who was killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986. Kinda changes things, yeah?
So, this strange wave of bands migrating from black metal into other realms of music has been ongoing for quite a while now. Bands like Ulver or Alcest are the most famous (infamous?) names in this movement, with Anathema doing the same for doom and The Gathering for folk. I’m still divided on whether we can define this wave as a success but CODE have decided to add to it. Leaving by the wayside their black metal roots, CODE have released their newest album ‘mut’, all resplendent in somber prog vibes. Head on over the jump for the full stream.
Black metal from the United Kingdom typically presents an atmospheric approach rooted in (Celtic) folk and post rock/metal. Last year provided a handful of worthy examples of this trend, with Primordial (Ireland), Saor (Scotland) and Winterfylleth (England) all releasing albums that explored the boundaries within this formula. Falloch seem keen on keeping this style alive into the New Year with their sophomore album This Island, Our Funeral, a record most comparable to Saor from the aforementioned bands. Yet, while these Glaswegians once included Saor mastermind Andy Marshall in their ranks, what is presented on This Island, Our Funeral has a distinctly clean approach that bears a black metal tag solely in a thematic sense. The result is a beautifully painted landscape that utilizes an overly pastel palette.
Mysterious one-woman black metal project Myrkur is off to a humble start. Sprouting up seemingly overnight with a deal inked with Relapse Records, the release of the debut self-titled EP came and went without much fanfare. The buzz is still growing though, with near-universal critical praise and a growing Facebook presence. Perhaps soon Myrkur will become a fixture in atmospheric black metal; the act is already getting compared to the likes of Deafheaven, Alcest, and Ulver, and that’s not just because those were the go-to names attached to press releases, either.
There’s been a steady and gentle buzz building regarding enigmatic post-black metal act Myrkur. This Scandinavian one-woman act takes the blackened atmospheric work and lush melodies of acts like Alcest and Deafheaven and shrouds them in feminine mystique with interesting results. If you like your black metal unafraid to venture into clean vocal territory (complete with layered choir tracks!) with no shortage of melody, Myrkur’s self-titled EP needs to be on your radar.
Black metal has no shortage of one-man bands, but finding a woman in black metal — especially going it solo — can be a task. Relapse Records managed to discover one such act out of Denmark going by the name of Myrkur. The promo materials released so far tout the act as being for fans of Deafheaven, Alcest, and Ulver — tell-tale signs that Myrkur’s breed of black metal will be plenty ethereal and atmospheric, if not slightly experimental. The first bit of music from Myrkur’s self-titled Relapse debut comes in the form of the single ‘Nattens Barn,‘ which can be heard below.
Lists! What unruly, yet wholly necessary beasts. On the one hand, they offer a great opportunity to get a bearing on the amazing year 2014 has been so far. Just so you get an idea of exactly how awesome it’s been, the master list for these final 25 included over 100 albums. On the other hand, lists always have an arbitrary nature to them: why 25? Should they be ranked, un-ranked, color-coded, digitized or sent via smoke signal? However, we here at Heavy Blog is Heavy feel that most contentions can be resolved with just a pinch of salt: this is our list, derived from the entirety of our contributors and then voted upon. Yay, democracy!
So, please use this list as more of a guide than a definitive rule book for what’s cool and what’s not. If even one reader walks away from these posts with an extra album or band in tow, we’ll consider our mission accomplished. These posts will air all across the upcoming week, in installments of five at a time. The posts are unranked, although the final five was reserved for albums that enjoyed overwhelming consensus among our staff. You can also find a short list of albums that didn’t quite make the list but are still well worth a listen at the beginning of each post.
So without further ado, here’s an arbitrarily arranged list of awesome albums from 2014 so far. Remember: it’s okay to not like thing.
With Alcest moving to dream pop, it was only a matter of time that Lantlôs, another of Niege’s former projects, moved away to more melodic music as well. Left with the daunting task of following up upon the heels of his wonderfully heavy Agape, Herbst decided to abandon the harsh vocals as well, making way for clean, melodic vocal passages. Alcest’s record was hyped up for weeks and, while still a great record, got lost in the slew of new release that have since been put out. However, after repeated listens through Melting Sun, it becomes very clear that this record will never, and should never, get lost in the cracks. In fact, it’s impossible. No record this powerful could ever get lost.
French musician Neige used to get around a lot, getting involved in all kinds of side-projects and groups. In recent years though, Alcest has been his main focus due to its increasing success and demand, leaving other acts he has touched in various states of disbandment or limbo. One former project in Lantlos however is carrying on without Neige; after all, the man pulling the strings for this project has always been German multi-instrumentalist Markus “Herbst” Siegenhort. After Neige’s departure from Lantlos following the release of 2011’s Agape, Herbst has taken over vocal duties while working on their new album Melting Sun the past two years.
Today, the first glimpse of Melting Sun has been made available, and it looks as if Lantlos is going the way of dream rock as well. While promising to be more rock and metal oriented than Alcest’s latest record Shelter, Melting Sun is free of screams and blastbeats. According to Herbst, they may return in the future, but for now the genre-wide evolution from post-rock influenced black metal and dark, cool colors towards bright, warm colors in dream rock and new wave continues with Lantlos as well.
A Voice Within
02. Moment Marauder
04. The Self Surrendered
06. The Escape
07. Atlas Hour
08. Siren Sound
09. A Voice Within
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about musical metamorphoses. Alcest completed their predictable evolution as a dream-rock act and dropped all shades of their former blackened shell. Tides of Man recently went from progressive rock-influenced post-hardcore group to instrumental post-rock maestros following the departure of vocalist Tilian Pearson. The most jarring and polarizing transformation we’ve seen recently though is the one taken by Toronto-based act Intervals; after making a name for themselves as an instrumental guitar-oriented project, touring bassist and former The HAARP Machine vocalist Mike Semesky graduated to full-time singer for their full-length debut, alienating many fans along the way.