Five days, five… well, actually four records and one song (but what a song!), this week took in grinding powerviolence; atmospheric folk/black metal; forward-thinking, technical black/death metal; and the return of heavy metal legends. Enjoy!
Despite being a fairly short release, Vilsna Andars Boning is the kind of record that it’s possible to lose hours at a time to. This two-track EP from Grift is filled with a haunting melancholy, that is rendered all the more effective for its stripped-down delivery, its folk guitars and sparse drums speaking of long winters and evoking memories of the past. It is music that is at once deeply personal and universal, summoning old spirits and filling the night with its warmth.
Label: Devoted Art Propaganda
Cy isn’t your typical release. The new album from Polish band Koniec Pola opens with the sound of bells, swirling winds, warped percussion, and, after several minutes, a burst of heavily twisted voices. It gets no easier from there. Stradling the lines between post-rock, post-black metal, traditional folk, and all wrapped up in a defiantly avant-garde mindset and psychedelic atmosphere, Cy is the kind of album that you might get if Negura Bunget and Einsturzende Neubauten decided to do a record together. Based around the concept of a place that is simultaneously real and imaginary, and making use of unique instruments crafted by the band themselves in addition to the traditional bass/guitar/drums set-up, Cy is a unique album, full of adventurous, experimental spirit.
Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes, you really have to work to find it; to tease out that motivation to write one more line, to add the next brush-stroke, to find the next series of notes. And yet at other times, the stream of creativity will not so much flow as it will flood, crashing over you in an uncontrollable wave, where the hours race by as chapters, riffs, and colours all come together in ways as natural and effortless as breathing.
Yet there are things that can help tap in to that feeling and unleash it, and here, I present five records that – for me – help me feel inspired, creative, and most of all, enthusiastic about creating something new. My main focus will be on writing, because that is where my creativity most often lies, but I think the ideas and feelings I talk about can be applied to any form of art. And, of course, this list is in no way intended to be definitive – instead, I hope it encourages you to think about what inspires you, what makes you want to write, or draw, or dance; and to hopefully find something that makes you want to create, and then to act on those impulses. Enjoy!
Label: Gizeh Records
Modern times are feeling increasingly fractured, with public life becoming split in to ever-more divisive categories. Whether it’s in politics or the media, recent years have been defined in large part by division – just look at the politics of Trump, or Brexit, and the rise in authoritarianism in countries like Hungary. It’s as if the world is, after a period of closer unity, moving apart in hostile ways. It’s difficult not to place The Shadows, the second album from Tomorrow We Sail, in this context. Their music blends post-rock with indie and folk sounds, creating something that feels as if it is longing for people to come together, to recognise all the things that unite us, and stop the slow descent in to war and disharmony that we all seem to be moving toward.
Label: Ravenwood Recordings / Fragile Branch Recordings
I’ve recently found myself wanting the audio equivalent of returning home after a long week travelling for work; of a sense of familiarity and belonging, after an extended period of isolation and disconnect. Fire of the Spirit has been meeting that need perfectly, with Twilight Fauna‘s brand of black metal and traditional folk producing a warm, all-encompassing atmosphere that is remarkably refreshing for the soul.
Compared with 2016, this year didn’t see me write about quite as many reviews, and life demanded that I take a break around the Spring time; yet I still listened to a whole lot of music, much of it I simply never found the time or energy to write about. A lot of this music was very good, and it speaks highly of how strong my favourite 25 records – which can be found here, here, and here – are, that none of the albums below made the final cut. All of them are worthy of your time, attention, and support.
2018 is shaping up to be another exciting year, and I have some plans for The Sound Not The Word that will hopefully help me continue my aims for the site – namely, to explore the underground, and do my little bit to help support and promote artists within it. To that end, I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that you can follow TSNTW on Facebook, which is the best place to keep up to speed on what’s happening; and any musicians, labels, and PR agents can always get in touch via the Contact tab at the top of this page.
Enough of that. Here’s the records that didn’t quite make my top 25, but deserve your attention.