Band: Norilsk Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records Origin: Canada
‘Weepers of the Land’ is a weird album, in the sense that the band considers it a companion record to the 2017 ‘Le Passage des Glaciers’. It is the third full-length record for the Canadian band but could be called an EP perhaps due to its connective nature. But hey, we love the EP format anyways and all is well on this five track release.
Norilsk is named after a Siberian city, which might explain the fact that some songs on this record have only been released in Russia before. The duo definitely catches a theme of the grim cold in the north, which is expressed through gritty death doom full of forlorn hopelessness and cold riffing. So let’s check this release out.
The cold hits you on the relentless ‘No Sacred Ground’, with the gritty roar from guest singer Damian Smith (Altars of Grief) barking defiance to the winds. Drummer Nick Richer keeps the natural and calm pace that nature takes. It is what it is, right? In that sense, they evoke the imagery on the album cover of man against the uncaring elements. This is pretty much what Nick Miquelon picks up on during ‘The Way’, which is the little hit song on this release, clocking under four minutes.
The lyrics of “Toute la noirceur du monde” are done by Ben Forte from NorthEastBistro, and Mort Marion from BloodMoonKnights plays guitar solo’s on all following tracks, which is part of the wider cooperative creation of this record. The vocals are in French, which adds a certain snarl to the whole vibe of the track. A notable track is ‘Tomber 7 Fois’, which is, in fact, a MyleneFarmer cover. Wonderfull! It lets us hear the band in a completely different form, with layered vocals, conflicting sounds and a more gloomy approach compared to the cold honesty of their normal approach. It is fascinating to listen to, but maybe at times a bit overly messy.
The vocals on ‘Weepers of the Land’ come from Joshua Cayer (Longhouse). It’s a tormented scream as icy winds again blas you with repetitive fury and a congested, thudding bass line. This is, again, Norilsk at their finest with their arctic doom, blackened by cold, rigid by ice.
Label: Non Serviam Records Band: Ennui Origin: Georgia
Ennui is a French word, fallen out of use to an extent, that means a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction, which well captivates the work by this Georgian duo. With ‘End of Circle’, they’ve outdone themselves on the magnitude of work and force and therefore the work may be a bit much to chew up for most listeners. But those who delve into it will find sheer majesty.
Funeral doom is a difficult genre to be prolific in, but Ennui has been quite productive since 2012, releasing 4 full-length records and two splits. Serj Shengela who provides guitars and keys is also active in Angel of Disease, Signs and No Regrets. David Unsaved, drummer and singer, also plays in Necropoli and his solo outlet Unsaved.
The first thing that has to be mentioned is the sheer immensity of ‘End of Circle’. The opening track (and title track) clocks in at over 30 minutes of shimmering, dirge-like doom metal. A slow procession towards the underworld it seems, with the guitars just clambering up the heavens. It’s the feeling of being in a pit of sand where the walls keep crumbling as despair sets in. The keys are ever present, providing dungeon synthy intermezzos, further enriching the mournful sound of the band.
The vocals are minimal, but when David Unsaved screeches defiance at the heavens, it is something else. At times, the sonorous sounds of the tracks remind me a little of that Victorian darkness My Dying Bride Brings, but it’s sombre procession remains too level. The synths are often mesmerizing, like the use in atmospheric black metal. Another point of enjoyment as the guttural vocals grate low and dry. The tunes ‘The Whithering part I & II’ both sound like a lamenting dirge, crawling towards their end for a good fourty minutes of sheer force and magnitude.
A spectacular record and effort by the Georgian duo.
Label: Burning World (originally Profound Lore) Band: The Angelic Process Origin: United States
The Angelic Process is an oddity in the drone doom landscape, with little similarity to the names that must spring to mind right now (Khanate, Earth and the mighty Sunn O))) for example). Their record ‘Weighing Souls With Sand’ is not a new one, and actually was released in 2007. Since James Plotkin remastered it for release by Burning World, we’d better check it out.
The Angelic Process only ever released two records and consisted of two members, namely Kris Angylus and Monica Henson. The suicide by Angylus put an end to the activities of the band, but their legacy is vast with a sound that can hardly be emulated as it veers somewhere between the densest postrock, shoegaze, and doom.
The slow emergence of the sun is the thing most akin to the way ‘The Promise of Snakes’ comes in. The densely compressed synths fill any sort of open space you may imagine with a sonic mist. As the song unfolds, the contrast between the ascending melody and distorted rhythms, crackling with condensed force, couldn’t be greater. The vocals and drums seem to be battling against this tide on tracks like ‘The Resonance of Goodbye’. That is possibly why they hit you so hard as a listener.
A track like ‘We All Die Laughing’ sucks the life out of you completely. The full on screams hit like a hail storm amidst the torrentuous guitars. Every particle hitting you with an icy cold, a fatalistic streak, and deep, deep sorrow. It’s remarkable how hard it is to describe the music of The Angelic Process, yet it evokes such clear imagery. It’s the same trapped, muffled feeling that you get when you feel at your worst. The oscillating opening for example, on ‘How to Build a Time Machine’ is like a sonic bath, making you feel peaceful and tranquil. Allowing yourself to submerge in it.
Though the history of the record is a sad one, it’s beauty and splendor is undeniable.
Once more, the might slug rears it’s slimy appendages languidly through space, searching for the next cosmic wave to ride. Yes, it’s your favorite Polish stoner-ensemble Spaceslug, returning once more with their next release, titled ‘Eye The Tide’.
Having done nothing bug consistently record and play live over the last few years, I feel bound to cover any work they drop. If only for the sheer simple reason that I love it and think this music is not made enough anymore. After their tight and heavy EP, the band now returns to the cosmic clarity we know from them. Less punch, more wave.
‘Obsolith’ is a spaced-out track of over 8 minutes, where the strings of the guitar seem to be caressed gently. The drums demonstrate the most vitalistic element in the song, as the rest of the music in steady waves just waxes and wanes. That slow, floating movement in the songs is a constant on the album, though the tension in the guitars can be odd and surprising like it is often on ‘Spaced By One’. It seems that every passage awaits some occurrence that never takes place.
I’m not going to put them to the test on it, but it feels like Spaceslug is slowly moving towards a more psych sound on this album. Sure, on ‘Words like Stones’, we get the roaring vocals and all. Yet, the overall vibe leans to tranquility, to permanence and a floaty equilibrium. We return to the heavy on ‘Vialys Part II’, which gives repetitive beatings to the skins and pummeling, star-grasping riffing. The song really drags you back into it, wakes you up nodding your head. We end on a high-note with ‘I, The Tide’, which is another powerful delivery by the band, who just put out a solid piece of music once more.
Listening to Yob has given many people a special experience and the wait for a new album was long. The trio from Oregon has a solid string of releases in the noughties, had a hick-up before their ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’ masterpiece in 2014 and after that things dried up for a bit.
Of course, there are always many reasons for a drought in releases, but in this case, the health of singer Mike Scheidt definitely played a part. At least, judging by interviews like this one. We are lucky that one of the most beloved bands in the doom genre has now returned with a fine slab of doom to sink your teeth into. This is ‘Our Raw Heart’, probably to be heard at Roadburn soon again.
Yob doesn’t use cold or eerie sounds, but massive riffing that claws to the heavens in a struggle of despair and grief it seems. Yet these always feel veiled and just the turmoil under the surface. The vocals are capturing an instantly take you into the mind-swirl that is ‘Our Raw Heart’. The music often relies on the heavy pummeling, though never chooses to be sharp and directly expressive. There’s a pensive nature to the music that is undeniable, with that transcendental, meditative quality to it. An album that sets you to thinking and reflecting.
The absolute highlight is the gentle ‘Beauty in Falling Leaves’, where it’s for large parts just guitar and the wavering vocals of Scheidt. Even when the song swells to its full, climactic sound, it remains an easy flow, with a warm and calming sound. The gruff vocals carry with them a passion that is undeniable. The almost 17-minute epic is a testament to the singular genius, that is Yob. Of course, afterwards some more heavy pummeling is delivered with ‘Original Face’, which relies on the heavy drumming and bass, while the vocals sound more like Amebix‘ Rob Miller. Yet, something in the sound harks to the calm and soothing nature of Earth. Particularly, there at the very end with the title track and it’s languid riffing. Mountainous, rugged but completely flattened out and easy to traverse. A record that meets all expectations, with a final ascending into the clouds, leaving us mortals wondering what it is we’re doing.
Label: Vacant Fulfillment Band: Warren Schoenbright Origin: United Kingdom
Inspired by the Egremont region in Cumbria, Warren Schoenbright created an exceptional record after a residency at the Florence Art Centre, situated on a defunct Haematite mine. It captures the environment, the depressive mood of an industrial site fallen out of use, leaving its remnants behind. This is captured on the record ‘Excavations’.
The band is three-piece, consisting of Daniel McClennan on drums, Alex Virji on bass and vocals, and Iker Ormazabal Martínez on Guitar. While they create drone/noise, their music is quite easy to listen to. Imagine something in between 5F-55 and Godflesh, and you kind of have it. Add the human nihilism to a sort of found organic sound in the industrial decay, and there we have Warren Schoenbright.
The album opens with minimal sounds and a more ambient like atmosphere, up until the droning sound swells and unleashes in a torrentuous, sludgy mass of guitars. A massive, industrial water slide, that is both heavy and hypnotic, disgusting and harmonious at the same time. No wonder that the group collaborated earlier with Caina on their ‘Christ Clad in White Phosphorous’ album to add a heavy foundation of urban despair of nauseating, gritty firmness. Exactly that is what they bring to this release too.
The album only contains one, ongoing track, so it is like being caught in the worst and most grim water slide you could ever imagine. The clanging sounds of metal, the pulsating beats of machinery and the constrictive nature of the music emulate the work that once took place on the location that served as inspiration for this record. For just under 25 minutes, you are stuck, completely held in thrall by the beating, surging rhythm, and darkness of Excavations.
Label: Bloodcrown Records Band: Noctu/Augu Sigyn Origin: Italy/Denmark
This split features two doomy bands, the first being Noctu from Italy. Noctu happens to be the sole member and also plays in Atra Mors and Necromist. After a full length, this is the first record with an English title by the funeral doom project from Crema.
The slow, dirge-like doom by the Italian artist has a certain cinematic quality and minimalism to it. Only lurching forward with an ever lumbering pace, the vocals are muddled into the mix where they hardly seem to really convey any meaning anymore. On ‘Lacerazioni Tra Le Ombre’, they merely appear as abyssal murmurings, rumbling in the distant haze of the sound. With a long intro and outro to his part of the record, Noctu demonstrates a knack for dense atmospheres and troubling ambient.
Strangely enough, AugaSigyn immediately hits you with a sort of crusty doom sound. The Danish act from Svendborg has released some EP’s before, mostly in the native language too and now the duo, also active in DjævlesSkrig, Blackhorned, Grimnismál and a gazillion other projects, participates in this split.
Instantly noticeable are the vocals by Sarah Lee Berthelsen, who bars and howls as if possessed on ‘Antropomorfisk Form’. it’s unnerving, resounding clearly over the distorted, warped guitar sound of their primitive pitch-black doom metal. The harrowing sound of the Danish duo is definitely for the sensitive souls, particularly on ‘Den Hængte Mands Bøg’ the sound is quite derailed and maddening even. Rabid barks and an almost ritualistic drumming is accompanied by piping guitar tunes. It helps to bring the record to its creepy ending.
Label: Fuck OFF and DIY Band: Basalto Origin: Portugal
Portugal has a distinct scene and produces some really good music, that remains out of sight and sort of underground. Basalto it’s as heavy as the volcanic fine-grained rock and just as black. Active since 2015, they just unleashed their second full-length effort, titled ‘Doença’.
On this album, arriving only 2 years after their eponymous debut, the band explores new, darker themes. It helps them to create something particularly heavy and dense, with a remarkable amount of feeling in its punch and dark vibes. The trio definitely has that down and creates a sound that is very much their own version of stoner/doom.
The ten-minute long opener ‘VII’ is an instant hit, grinding your face through volcanic ash with intriguing rhythms, that never feel like languid stoner passages. A certain jagged aspect makes the beating drive you, always on edge, constantly pushing for something. Listening to Basalto, you instantly detect a need for something primitive in their sound. The almost primal pummeling and dark, oppressive atmosphere permeates everything on this record.
Accompanying the album is a text by Martin Sousa, titled ‘Doença’, which tells the tale fo darkness in mankind. That is emulated in the sound, on numeral tracks like ‘X’ and ‘XI’, which both carry a sense of foreboding and darkness in their ominous sounding guitar lines and blood-curdling bass lines. It’s as if you listen to a stream of magma, which never goes for the big arches or deep drops, but steadily moves forward. On ‘XII’ however, we get to rock out for a bit, with energetic drumming, funky guitars and a driven bass. The record could use a bit more of that energy, but all in all deeply, dark immersive piece of music.
Label: Metal Blade Band: Hamferð Origin: Faroe Islands
Doom from the Faroe Islands
Hamferð is one of those bands hailing from the Faroe Islands. Isolation begets inspiration it seems because the island nation under the Danish crown has spawned various bands in the metal genre that have made a splash. Tyr being the foremost of course, but Hamferð is definitely not an unknown entity, making songs in their own language for the masses. Members have also been active in Barren Earth and Heljareyga, connected to aforementioned Tyr.
‘Támsins likam’ is the second full length of the doom band, after their 2013 debut. Signed to Metal Blade, the group can hardly be called prolific, but definitely has something in their sound that only seems to be found on these islands in the north, something forlorn and melancholic. Not surprising for a band whose very name refers to the epiphany of dead or missing seamen, of which the tales on the island are rich.
‘Fylgistflog’ opens with the class and stature of a bygone age. Filled with a particular mournful mood, the song remains elegant in its opening. Perhaps the sound is reminiscent of the romantic qualities known from My Dying Bride and ilk. Vocalist Jón Aldará has the quality of a story-teller in his voice, which he uses aptly. The story is that of a family in mourning over a lost child. Supernatural entities visit and torment the family, whose sorrow is expounded through the crushing music of Hamferð. Music that is as heavy and cold as the sea.
When the floodgates open, the band reminds me of Ahab in their nautical element. Wave after wave crashes into you, from the depths of the abyss onward. On a track like ‘Tvístevndur meldur’, the grief is tangible, yet the voice of Aldará breaks through the dark clouds with an almost angelic quality, a light that breaks through the turmoil and chaos. The music never loses it’s composure and remains regal and noble in all aspects. Yet the guitar work is so massive and oppressive at times, that even the listener might give up. Even when the darkness completely overwhelms, the northern beauty of this record remains undisputed when the notes of ‘Vápn í anda’ slowly ebb away.
Nothing but appreciation for this exceptionally immersive, but hard record by Hamferð and its fantastic artwork by Costin Chioreanu.
The band Marijannah hails from Singapore and plays a very fresh and catchy style of stoner/doom. Inspired by films, their music is captivating, playful and a bit unnerving at times. Havint checked out their recent release, I needed to know more about them.
Signed to Pink Tank Records, their ‘Till Marijannah’ is well worth a spin if you haven’t heard it yet. To get you started, first learn something more about the band and where they come from.
Marijannah takes you to Paradise
Hey Marijannah, how’s everything going?
How did your band get started and where does the name come from?
We all individually wanted to try something different outside the usual styles of music we’ve been playing for years in each of our respective bands and this is something we’ve never created before.
The name is sort of an accidental double entendre initially. It loosely translates to “come to paradise” in Malay, which is a native language where we’re from and it’s also bluntly a pun to you-know-what.
What inspired you to make this particular sound your own? To me ,it feels very much like a mixture of classic psychedelic rock with a hint of occult rock on a thick slab of stoner, which together gives off this timeless sound. What do you think?
I don’t know if we do but if anybody thinks we sound any different from the usual stoner/doom, it’s really just because half of us never regularly listened to this style of music up until like a year ago. We all have roots in different genres. Some of us come from a punk/emo/hardcore background and some of us almost strictly listen to extreme metal so it’s truly a mash of clashing influences.
Can you tell me how you wrote and recorded the album ‘Till Marijannah’? How did the process go and what sort of working method do you have?
Rasyid writes most of the music and I write the lyrics. We record riffs on our shitty phones and send them to each other on a daily basis and dig em out when we need to. There was quite a bit of spontaneity in the studio as well, using weird, new pedals and ancient gongs lying around the room.
I’m interested to learn what inspired the four separate songs. They all have a distinct quality and theme but differ a lot. So what stories and inspiration did you use for each? I’m particularly interested in All Hallow’s Eve.
Lyrically, they’re all tributes to films. I’m a big “film buff” and they go hand in hand with heavy music aesthetically. All Hallow’s Eve is of course about John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the “Laurie” mentioned is Laurie Strode, portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis in the series.
Tell me more about the artwork. Who did it and what inspired it? I originally thought I was going to listen to something more like Yes!
Again, it was a mash of very different ideas we all had individually backed and executed by a very talented artist in mr. Riandy Karuniawan. Like most metal musicians, we like sci-fi imagery and mystical shit so there’s that.
What sort of response did you get this far to the record and what future plans do you currently have?
They’ve been almost all positive from what I’m aware of. I don’t really pay much attention to reviews, I think the record is dope and so does most of my friends who have a good taste. We’re working on new material right now and have been jamming about 5-6 new tunes, probably aiming to enter the studio by August. We’ll be announcing a short tour really soon, maybe it’ll be announced by the time this interview is out and we have another planned for the year’s end.
Is having a Rasyid in Wormrot in any way limiting for what you can do with Marijannah? Do you feel that your other bands in general have an influence on your output?
Not at all. Neither band is looking to be super busy or touring full-time and I think the rotation works well for Rasyid and the rest of us. I think its inevitable that we will share certain influences amongst our bands, we’re the same people as we are in other projects, just expressed differently through multiple entities.
What is currently happening in the heavy scene of Singapore that the world really should not miss out on? Like exciting bands etc?
Radiant Archery, Bethari, Hollowthreat, HRVST, Yumi, Zodd. None of them are similar to us but all worth checking out.
If you had to compare Marijannah to a dish, what would it be and why?
Bolognese. Rustic, traditional, timeless, best served hot and consumed wearing dark-coloured clothing.