Label: Seeing Red Records / Lay Bare Recordings
It approaches, slowly; shrouded in mist, moving with feline grace, the music of Frayle comes forward like a spirit, though whether it is avenging or angelic is unclear. The White Witch is simultaneously of heaven and hell; of grace and destruction; of the most terrible devastation, and the most redemptive blessings. Though it may be defined in large part by crushing, glacial riffs, and a sense of weight that plants it firmly within doom metal, this EP also draws from some unexpected influences, making it a record that feels true to the genre whilst also taking it in new directions, and is quite a wonder to behold.
Label: The Flenser
The concept of creating music as self-care is hardly a new one, but sometimes, an album can strike you with just how powerful and important a concept that is. Such is the case with Cold Air, the new album from Drowse. Written during a spell of anxiety and depression, Cold Air is an album of interesting contradictions. At times, its hazy shoegaze is filled with warmth, and possesses a real power of emotional healing; and then at others, there is the feeling that something is desperately scratching at the walls, trying to get out with a life-threatening desperation. It makes Cold Air an intense listen, despite its often soothing sounds; and one that is filled with a unique sense of personality and intensity.
Label: Tridroid Records / Folkvangr
“That’s not black metal!” is a response that is often mocked, associated as it is with the kind of fan who desperately clings to the past, unwilling to accept innovation or change. Most of the time, it is a useless sentiment, saying more about the speaker than the music they’re leveling the accusation at. Yet whilst listening to Anomie, the latest album from Azerbijani band Violet Cold, I find myself understanding and sympathising with the sentiment. The one-man act have a considerable discography that touches upon a multitude of genres, yet Anomie is being presented by much of the media and labels involved as an atmospheric black metal album; and whilst that’s one aspect of Anomie, it is far from the whole story. To approach the album as you would any other black metal album, with all the weight of expectation that brings, would be to do yourself, and it, a disservice. And just because it isn’t necessarily black metal, doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good.
Label: Truthseeker Music
It’s difficult to imagine Earth Moves inspiring an apathetic response from anyone who might hear their debut, The Truth In Our Bodies. Containing members of UK emo bands including Grappler and We Never Learned To Live, Earth Moves tread in similar territories to Envy and early Deafheaven, with screamo and post-rock fueled emotional catharsis being the order of the day, with shades of blackgaze in there too. And god-damn, is it ever emotional. This is the kind of record that demands a response, with cascades of sound and desperate, impassioned vocals. This is not one for casual listening; it is absolutely not background music, but an album to be swept up in, committing yourself to for its duration, with the pay-off being more than worthwhile.
Label: Ruined Smile Records
I never really got in to indie rock as a genre. I know that’s a pretty broad statement to make, but I’m sure we all have comparable ones we can make (“I don’t really get jazz”; “I’m not a fan of country”; and so on). So, it’s with a touch of difficulty that I approached this cassette from Hutt River Province, given that the music they play can largely be summed up as “slow 90s indie” – think Red House Painters, Codeine, and so on. It’s the sort of thing I’d normally pass on, but whereas the aforementioned bands never really grabbed me, there’s an underground, 90s-emo charm and vibe to this release that I’m quite a fan of, and that might appeal to others who wouldn’t describe themselves as big fans of indie. It’s warm and quite blissful, and sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.
“Less is more” might be a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, seemingly without people really understanding what it means, but the seven and a half minutes of Pale Shelter by Secret Admirer show that this is a band that really understands that idea. Situated somewhere between ambient, shoegaze, drone, and the experimental end of electronic music, these two tracks feel simultaneously sparse, and full of weight, emotion, and meaning. They are utterly beautiful studies in sadness, incredibly heavy emotionally even if they are not musically, and bode very well for the forthcoming full length.
Label: Eternal Death
Bandcamp stream: link
Dark music should, by its very nature, be challenging. The very phrase “dark music” implies things that are hidden or obscured. This is not pop music; not everything is out in the light, ready for easy assimilation, designed to be disposed of once the next fad comes along. Fatalism are a band that provide further evidence of this. Their début release, Mystery Of Death, pulls together a diverse set of influences that, when written down, may seem like they would produce an obvious, expected sound. In practice though, they create something very different to what I anticipated, full of darkness and, well, mystery.