Tag Archives: ambient

Review: Cult Cinema’s Cosmic Horror II

Cult Cinema return with the second volume in their trilogy of concept EPs about being abandoned in outer space and despite a change in producer, this is a direct follow-up to their previous Cosmic Horror EP that continues with their frantic post hardcore sound.

The main difference with Cosmic Horror II is we get a more substantial offering this time around. While the first EP felt like a taster of things to come, this release feels more like the main event. Across these four tracks we’re treated to an outstanding display of versatility as Cult Cinema blend hardcore with moments of delicate ambience and harrowing black metal. You’re not just getting heavy music on Cosmic Horror II; you’re also getting a cohesive piece that takes you on a journey that ebbs and flows wonderfully. There’s an awful lot more to Cult Cinema than just playing fast and screaming.

Structurally it’s actually quite similar to Cosmic Horror I. The EP starts with a vicious one-two assault in the form of Bad Blood and Midnight Man before closing with the gargantuan Labyrinth of Solitude. This seven minute monster of a song slows things down and focuses on creating a disparate and terrifying atmosphere that matches the concept of the record perfectly. It’s largely instrumental as well which adds another string to Cult Cinema’s already varied bow.

What’s really interesting is how naturally this volume of the Cosmic Horror trilogy follows the first. Playing it directly after the original reveals an obvious connection that adds some additional context to this record. It works well enough on its own, but partner it with the original EP and you create something very special and bizarrely consistent considering the change in producer. By the time the third volume comes around I can imagine Cult Cinema will have created a long-player that will also deserve to be played sequentially with its previous volumes. Multi-volume records aren’t exactly a new concept but it’s fascinating to watch Cult Cinema’s Cosmic Horror come together in such an organic way.

Cosmic Horror II may be a smaller part in a larger release, but as it stands it marks another bold step forward for Cult Cinema who continue to showcase their violent yet beautiful song writing. Cosmic Horror II is the sound of a band who understand that heavy music is a hell of a lot more powerful when you create contrast and juxtaposition and once again the results are fantastic. By the time this trilogy comes to a close we should have a real highlight of modern post hardcore to enjoy and that in itself is very exciting.

9/10

Cult Cinema’s Cosmic Horror II is out now and available to download direct from the band’s Bandcamp page.


Year End: The Top 10 Best Albums of 2014

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10) Trudger – Dormiveglia

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What we said:

“Trudger’s Dormiveglia is a thick, multi-layered experience that gets better every time you listen to it. The band has grown tremendously since their debut EP and the song writing on Dormiveglia is absolutely top tier. This might be a challenging listen for heavy music fans and the band’s raucous fusion of sludge, doom, death and black metal might make for a bleak experience, but it’s one of the best bleak experiences you’re going to have for a while. Buy this record, light some candles and get moody.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

9) Goodtime Boys – Rain

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What we said:

“Goodtime Boys have really hit their stride on Rain and it’s an album every post hardcore fan should consider owning. The music is still aggressive but it now flourishes into gorgeous melodies drenched in haunting atmosphere. 2014 has been a stunning year for post hardcore records with Vales delivering an equally excellent album and it’s about time we recognise Goodtime Boys in a similar light. Rain is an astonishing debut album that deserves your attention.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

8) All the Best Tapes – All the Best Tapes

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What we said:

“All the Best Tapes have put together an extremely diverse and challenging record that cleverly drenches all the music’s elements in a huge helping of melody. Albums like this are proper once-in-a-lifetime experiences and nothing can prepare you for how utterly bonkers it all sounds while still sounding like a cohesive record. Well done All the Best Tapes and thanks for being so mind-bogglingly weird.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

7) Corrupt Moral Altar – Mechanical Tides

Corrupt Moral Altar - Mechanical Tides Front Cover HIRES

What we said:

“Corrupt Moral Altar have delivered one of the most amazing debut albums any metal band could hope to make. Mechanical Tides is a raucous, nasty bastard of a record that manages to take influences from as many areas of the metal spectrum it can and it fuses them into the band’s already brilliant sound with ease. It’s not often we get to experience an album that’s so magnificently loud yet diverse at the same time and Corrupt Moral Altar have made us wish this experience occurred more often.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

6) Mongol Horde – Mongol Horde

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What we said:

“Regardless, this is an explosive debut by one of the weirdest bands in heavy music right now. Mongol Horde’s self-titled debut album is equal parts punk and groove and it’s presented as a series of surrealist stories told by Turner that give the band an identity of their own. Welcome back Frank; we’ve missed your unhinged side.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

5) Bad For Lazarus – Life’s a Carnival, Bang! Bang! Bang!

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What we said:

“Regardless, this is a minor complaint on a near flawless album. Bad for Lazarus’ debut album may have been a long time coming but the five years the band have spent writing, recording and touring has changed them into a well-oiled yet raucous, blues rock machine. Life’s a Carnival, Bang! Bang! Bang! is loaded with infectious songs and there isn’t a minute of it that’s not worthy of your attention. Buy this album and tell your friends; Bad For Lazarus are coming to town.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

4) Alpha Male Tea Party – Droids

Alpha Male Tea Party - Droids - cover

What we said:

“This is an easy recommendation to make; you need Alpha Male Tea Party’s Droids in your life. This a wonderfully unique and riff-laden record that is loaded with catchy melodies. Despite the progressive nature of the band’s music, they manage to make it incredibly palatable and Droids is a considerable more enjoyable experience for it.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

3) Sunwølf – Beholden to Nothing and No One

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What we said:

“Sunwølf’s Beholden to Nothing and No One is a gargantuan epic that traverses many genres but always feels focussed. A double album clocking in at an hour and 23 minutes might strike you as an impenetrable time investment but Beholden… never outstays its welcome. There’s a reason why this album is so long and it’s because it’s stuffed to the brim with interesting, thought-provoking music that’s always changing and always engaging. Sunwølf have written their masterpiece and it’s one of the most essential listening experiences of the year.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

2) Grand Collapse – Far From the Callous Crowd

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What we said:

“Grand Collapse have put together a début album that I simply cannot listen to without the words ‘FUTURE CLASSIC’ coming into view. Far From The Callous Crowd is a no-nonsense shot of adrenaline and there isn’t a single moment that doesn’t sound like a cacophony of punk’s best riffs. I want more and I need it now.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

1) Marmozets – The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets

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What we said:

“Marmozets have made an album that I would regard a classic had it been released in my youth. The fact that it’s being released now hopefully means that a whole new generation of kids will be introduced to post hardcore through what I regard an essential purchase for any fan of the genre. The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets is one of the best rock albums this year and if you’ve ever enjoyed a catchy rock number then you’ve just found your new favourite band.”

Read the full review by clicking here.


Review: Sunwølf’s Beholden to Nothing and No One

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Okay Sunwølf, this is getting a bit silly now. You can’t go releasing an album every year and get dramatically better results every time. You’re making everyone else look a bit naff.

Sunwølf’s third album Beholden to Nothing and No One is a double-disc release and expands the band’s ambient doom from being fully instrumental to now including a disc supported by a range of vocal styles which include female singing and male screaming. The vocals add some beautiful texture to the band’s oppressive and claustrophobic music with the female vocals being used for the more delicate side of the band’s sound and the screaming being used for the more aggressive, metallic side of the music. It’s wonderful to see how well Sunwølf’s music works with the simple addition of vocals.

The first disc also manages to pull off that fantastic Sunwølf staple of taking you on a journey. Sunwølf have an uncanny ability to soundtrack Terry Gilliam films that don’t exist yet and Beholden… is no exception. The disc begins fairly slow and emphasises minimalistic instrumentation to create a foreboding atmosphere that builds over the course of the album before guitarist Matt Carrington stomps on the overdrive pedal and unleashes hell.

Sunwølf experiment further on the second disc of the album by returning to their instrumental roots but only to get even more psychedelic. The second disc of Beholden… messes with texture and builds enormous walls of noise that could summon demon’s from the depths below. There’s a heavier exploration of drone and electronic elements are also employed to add another mysterious layer or intrigue to the band’s music.

Rounding out this monstrous package is a spectacular production job that’s sharp and clean during the band’s more ambient moments to help emphasise the delicate instrumentation, but raw and unkempt during the more aggressive movements. Despite the varied styles the production actually manages to hold all the music together and make a cohesive package.

Sunwølf’s Beholden to Nothing and No One is a gargantuan epic that traverses many genres but always feels focussed. A double album clocking in at an hour and 23 minutes might strike you as an impenetrable time investment but Beholden… never outstays its welcome. There’s a reason why this album is so long and it’s because it’s stuffed to the brim with interesting, thought-provoking music that’s always changing and always engaging. Sunwølf have written their masterpiece and it’s one of the most essential listening experiences of the year.

10/10

Sunwølf’s Beholden to Nothing and No One is out today and available to order on double CD direct from the band.


Review: Where the Skeletons Play’s Serotonin Blueprints

Where the Skeletons Play are a dark rock duo that are heavily influenced by bands like Tool and early Deftones. Their atmospheric and slow building rock is explored on their mini-album Serotonin Blueprints and it makes for an intriguing listen.

The band’s music plods along at a slow tempo for the majority of the songs on Serotonin Blueprints. Songs generally start in a thoughtful, leering manner before stepping up a notch with a big chorus. This structure is followed throughout the record and the band thrive off a simple yet effective structure.

Vocals are delivered with a mega-phone effect which gives them a lightly distorted quality. This adds an ambient and skewered tone to the release that helps it build a further introverted and thoughtful atmosphere. The almost whispered chanting of vocalist Stitch lacks a lot of melody but it certainly helps create the mood the band are trying to achieve. Once again this contrasts with the band’s chorus’ which allow the riffs to take centre stage with Stitch opting for a more yelled vocal style.

The problem is this sound gets a bit tiresome after a couple of songs. The band need far more variety to engage the listener after half an hour of similar sounding songs. The band wade through the same ideas over and over and while the odd riff gives you something memorable to latch onto like in Punctuate the Sky and the wonderfully proggy breakdown in If We Just Pretend…, it never takes the band too long until we’re back with a crawling dirge that gets old far too quickly. You will find yourself yawning by the fourth track and the final two tracks don’t offer any surprises.

Where the Skeletons Play have built a brooding and expansive sound which puts the listener in an unsettling mood. The band clearly have the talent to create a beautifully dark atmosphere but they rely on a tried and tested formula. Too much of Serotonin Blueprints relies on the same structure and the lack of stylistic changes hurt this release to a degree. If the band can vary their sound on future releases by moving away from their dragging tempos and being a bit more creative with their vocals by perhaps removing the mega-phone effect and giving them stronger melodies then they’d stand more of a chance of holding the listener’s attention.

5/10

Where the Skeletons Play release Serotonin Blueprints independently on May 27th.


Review: Sunwølf’s Beyond the Sun

Sunwølf are an instrumental ambient/post rock 2 piece from that great breeding ground of UK talent that is Leeds. The band is made up of Dominic Deane on drums and organ and Matthew Carrington on guitar and also in charge of samples. Beyond the Sun is their debut album and it’s a rather delicate yet overbearing start to what might be an incredibly interesting career.

This is by no means a heavy album. Sunwølf are all about creating atmosphere and there’s a beautiful tension that runs throughout the entire work. The songs always sound like they are going to explode in a hailstorm of riffs but take a more delicate turn by simply maintaining a sombre and oppressive mood.

The instrumentation is extremely minimalist and used rather sparingly to achieve this. A smattering of jangly riffs here, a low-end rumble of bass drum there; it’s actually quite stunning how a 2 piece can hold your attention for so long and without using vocals.

What really makes Beyond the Sun something special is the variety on display. As we’ve already mentioned the drums are very minimalist and the guitar tone is usually quite clean, but there are also more distorted riff-driven numbers like Morose Land and the album’s title track. Time Stands Still also brings its’ own fascinating Ennio Morricone Western feel to the mix for another of the album’s stand-out moments.

The only weak moment on Beyond the Sun actually comes from its’ title track. While the awkward, fuzzy melody is certainly interesting and backed by a massive beat, it just doesn’t build the same atmosphere as the rest of the album which is a damn shame considering it’s the only moment that really does this.

Special mention has to be given to Ross Halden’s production which compliments the ambient nature of the whole piece and that’s exactly what Beyond the Sun feels like; a unified, singular piece of music. Not many bands can claim to have records that feels that way.

Beyond the Sun is a very special album. It creates a bleak yet beautiful atmosphere that will hold you in its’ grip for the full 27 minutes. A minor hiccup cannot ruin what is an essential record for fans of post rock and one of the best albums of the year.

8/10

Beyond the Sun by Sunwølf will be released on 26/11/2012 on CD and 12″ vinyl through Ark Noise Recordings