Monday, 6 March 2017

Album Reviews: January-February

Many people make New Year's Resolutions - I don't, as I wouldn't be keeping them anyway. Case in point: instead of jumping right into new releases, I'm still listening to my 2016 favourites. It's hard to let go. Partly because of that, partly because of uni hell, the material for January stretched quite thin, and so I lumped these to last miserable winter months together. It's a pity even more so, because there were a few really good new albums, and I'm afraid I didn't give many of them a thorough enough listen.
Pain of Salvation: In the Passing Light of Day
In the Passing Light of Day is a slightly disjointed, disturbing record, and it works very well in the way progressive records tend to. But the jarring rhythm changes are just one part of a heavy, oppressive emotional atmosphere that comes from the subject matter - it is worth to give the lyrics a little attention as well.

Helheim: landawarijaR
I'm not the biggest fan of black metal, so when I give a recommendation, it either means 1) it isn't really black metal, rather some other sub-sub-genre, or 2) it's just really good. Most often, it's a mix of two: landawarijaR is a little more melodic with a little more jaunty guitar work than classic black metal, but the purists fans still wouldn't mind it. (Or who knows.) The album as a whole relies on the fuzzy, unrelenting atmosphere, but the eponymous track has to be the highlight of the album.
Listen to: Baklengs mot intetlandawarijaRSynir af heidindomr

The Flight of Sleipnir: Skadi
As engaging a a sludge-doom record can be, this album is a dreamy little adventure with quite a little bit of excitement. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to people unfamiliar with the genre, but if you like this sort of metal, it's a tidy little gem.
Listen to: Awaken, Tenebrous Haze, Falcon White

Nailed to Obscurity: King Delusion
Since melodic death metal is still undoubtedly my favourite genre, especially when it has those - for lack of better description - doomy vibes, it's hard to be unbiased about this record. It's undoubtedly a modern metal record, the sound and the mix both. But most importantly it doesn't sacrifice variety and lyricism, finding a good balance between the heavy and the melodic, and that in the end makes for a good album.
Listen to: Protean, Memento, Devoid

Mors Principium Est: Embers of a Dying World
I'm a bit more conflicted about Embers of a Dying World, if not for else but the fact that Mors Principium Est have been one of my favourite bands since a long time. It's different hearing a new album when one is more familiar with the band's entire back catalog. I've always thought that their albums are an expected quality, consistent, and the band itself has a very distinct sound. In a way, strangely, I'd rate all their albums about the same 'very good, would listen multiple times', but I've never considered any of them to be my standout favourites, unlike with many other melodeath bands I follow. I feel like this album has less standout songs, but nevertheless, it's just as good as any other of theirs. If that's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't really know.

Persefone: Aathma
A mammoth of a record, though maybe not by progressive metal standards, Aathma is a deceptive creation: it is wildly entertaining and energetic, and only on multiple listens can one grasp its complexity. (At least if one is not at all musically inclined.) To me, the fact that it's intensely catchy without being too simplistic is one of its greatest accomplishments. It's fun in a way many progressive (death) metal records fail to be. The four-part closer is brilliant, and could be an EP on its own, but it's still best appreciated at the end of the whole record.
Listen to: Spirals Within Thy Being, No Faced Mindless, Living Waves

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