Howdy, fans and friends! Months have passed again way too fast since the last point of the situation (as we say in French) and already it is time to halt the horses again and take stock. The first full year @ RockmusicRaider – 2015 – has passed and we start to approach mid-year 2016. By Loki, things are moving fast and I am not getting younger. So, what happened since Tome II. I can say one thing: Dark, dark is the going when the going gets tough.
Felt waves of Black or blackened Metal are coming our way. I am amazed – seems to be a sign of the times. Just check out Rorcal with κρέων (Creon) that visited the RockmusicRaider site real brutally. Those tracks left blood on the walls and streaks on the ground, echoing around the corridors even when the music was turned off. At the end of the day, all this Black Metal dissonance turned out to be a historical theme park of sorts. If this is possible at all. What really threw me is the fact that they somehow dwell on the wrong side of Geneva in Switzerland. For those knowing the city a somewhat difficult concept to comprehend.
Then late in 2015, we found an unknown band on our promo list called Batushka with Litourgyia. Blasphemous bastards taking on the orthodox church in a way that just reduced me to a helpless heap of mirth. And they promptly made it on the 2015 Top Ten Records of the RockmusicRaider blog. THIS is Black Metal the way it is supposed to be played. Trademark anonymity and all to boot – to this day nobody knows who they are really. This record is still and often played on the mighty RockmusicRaider Media Machine. Keep going guys, this is just good stuff.
Now, another one of the Black Metal kind made it on our 2015 Top Ten Records list as well. And this is Myrkur with M. At the #1 pole position to boot. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a rehash of the former list, but Myrkur really took the cake. Getting a lot of idiotic shit from a lot of people around the #metal community, they nevertheless delivered stellar material. Looks like what irked a lot of fans is the fact that the band is female fronted and Amalie Bruun‘s former style was totally different. Check it out! You be the judge if they are heretics or genuine. If you can have heretics in a Black Metal community, that is.
Woohoo! You also got those who erred on the Black Metal path and then got intellectually diverted, down another route. At least this is what Todtgelichter tell us in their reaction to critics. In their august expert eyes, if you are not from music academia, you ARE a heretic and don’t cut it. WTF, guys!! This is a level of arrogance I have not heard yet this side of the holy walls of university-fueled delusions. Now, this one out of the way and finally cleared up, their 2016 album Rooms is indeed a good one – I give them that. Blackened to a degree, it for sure gets us into the Progressive arena. In German and English to boot, plus interesting changes in band setup to spice this up some more. Let’s just hope they come back down to earth and start to deliver increased quality in a future to come. Because THAT will be your challenge, Todtgelicher. And I will be watching.
This gets me to one of the real delights in Progressive Metal that RockmusicRaider was able to uncover since Tome II came out. We are talking about Zierler and their 2015 concoction ESC. I must say, when starting to listen I went: Too much. Like some of my co-reviewers. But then I REALLY started to listen. And guess what – this is really good. Like in really, really good. Unless some of the more swell Progressive potions that we were – well, yeah – confronted with.
But there are real delights that we, unfortunately, missed for the 2015 Top 10! Here we are talking about Steven Wilson, who in truth could never quite convince RMR in the past. You’ll find stellar musicianship no doubt, but it’s always a bit cold and in a way too focused on technical savvy. Until Hand.Cannot.Erase. sailed out into the open, that is. This one really caught me by the lee with its thoughtful song structures and storyline. If you ain’t got it, get it. Great, great stuff. If you like Progressive Rock and Metal, that is. Apparently written after a true and sordid story, but hey – go ahead, listen to the album and read the review. It will be worth your time.
And there were quite a few more missed records in the Progressive area in 2015. For example Wilderun with their funky, folksy Sleep at the Edge of the World. How I ever missed that one in the first place is a mystery to me, I must have been asleep or something. What really struck me is the discrepancy between the band playing the #metal gig – long hair, headbanging and all and the actual delivery, style, and overall atmosphere of the album. I am still somewhat puzzled. But puzzlement aside, this is stellar material and I am glad I finally stumbled across the album. Same as with Zierler, this album will need your detailed attention to really get understood. But for sure it will be worthy of your time. Not surprisingly this one got to #1 ranking in some of the 2015 Top 10 lists I could find around the industry. To me probably one of the best albums made last year.
Now, put on your diving gear! Yep, you heard me right. Because you are going to jump into fondue! Power Metal is the menu and Gloryhammer the item. And we are talking about their epic cheese pot called Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. Now, whilst they ride way down the silly road, their delivery of Power Metal is near flawless. Of course, there are some trying to make us believe that this is all kind of a bland soup and it should be avoided like the devil does holy water. But take it from me: The cheese runs high, but so does quality and enthusiasm. And the quality part takes over any other argument you might have. By the way, their début Tales of the Kingdom of Fife should also be on the menu for you. Not that stellar, but still good. That Power Metal can also be made with much less cheese has by the way been proven by Arrayan Path and their delightful Chronicles of Light. Something you should definitely not miss.
There has been some development in the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal department. Bear Bone Company made it onto the blog and I love their swagger. Their challenge really was: Does the swagger meet the quality. And it does indeed. Whenever I listen to these guys, I get this vision of bars on a hot beach, the band heating up things even more in the background. They put a smile on my face. Good one! But Bear Bone Company were not the only ones that really got on the RockmusicRaider radar for this genre. Indeed, we had a Finnish band from the cold North really getting on my case. Meet Slap Betty. Their straightforward Hard Rock, mixed with (a lot of) Heavy Metal in Nothing Out of Nothing is really a rocky dish you should spend some time with. They display a refreshing energy throughout the record and it is with thoughtful themes of day-to-day importance – from personal to public interest – that they know to impress. Actually, I am listening to them whilst writing this and I love it.
Then we encountered some stellar pipes. Hibria with their self-titled album really got on RockmusicRaider so fast it was almost insane. And the prize goes to Iuri Sanson and his gang of merry musicians. Heavy Metal played the old style if there is anything like that. You would have expected this to happen somewhere in Europe. But hold on to your seat, they hail from Brazil, the land of the famous carnival. Refreshing to find a band like that in South America, even if they sometimes add a little Brazilian flavor to their tune. But that’s just spice.
Then let’s move to Canada. To the North of Canada. At first sight an Evanescence sound-alike, Van Halst really turns out to be something different. Clearly rooted in the Gothic Metal realm, but mixing an amazing number of styles into their tune. They not only impress with their songwriting savvy but for sure with the choice of the themes they like to cover. A lot of the band’s woes are buried in social injustice of all kinds. And rightly so, ’cause the problems facing us all are immense and are likely to get even worse in a relatively near future to come. World of Make Believe really got me by surprise this early 2016. And for sure the voice of Kami Van Halst will be one to remember for some time. A candidate to get onto the 2016 Top 10 list. But then the year is still young and we never know, don’t we?
What else? Oh yeah! Doom Metal. Tome II extensively covered some of that already. But here we discovered Draconian with their pretty outstanding record Sovran. Mind you, nothing to do with Draconian Times from Paradise Lost that got onto the blog too. Draconian really caught the sad and miserable atmosphere that the genre likes to project and thrive in. And the new female front Heike Langhans turned out to be a real jewel, getting some fresh wind into this Beauty and the Beast theme used in this band. And to call them simply Doom would be a tad simplistic. Well, why don’t you just go ahead and read the review?
Last, but not least, here is a quirky one: Kind of a Black Sabbath sound-alike, Sideburn created a pretty doomy record called Evil or Divine. Could that not pass as Heavy Metal too? Absolutely, but they really got things going with that low to mid-tempo crunch. A very talented bunch and I enjoyed reviewing their album. All the more so that they are fiercely independent.
Up next? Well, RockmusicRaider will go with flow. I reckon it will be with the Black Metal flow a lot, the way things are going in this year of the lord 2016.