Sundays are busy days for me, often with dozens of albums that need to be listened to, review, and analyzed. Too often, I lose sight of why I do what I do. I enjoy listening to the music. Not all music needs to be analyzed all the time. Sometimes you need to just smell the roses (so to speak). This weekend I listened to a lot of music, here’s the best of it:
Argonath – Dark Stories of the Sídhe (Irish Dungeon Synth)
Argonath has come out with a lot of releases recently (including a split with Isegrimm that I haven’t gotten to listen to yet) but this has been my favorite of all the recent ones. This album delves into the darker aspects of Irish folklore, looking in the Fair Folk and their stories. As Eddie Lenihan once said, “Mess with the Irish Fairies and your dead.” This album has all the shadowy themes and dark motifs that are appropriate for the Sídhe. The Fair Folk aren’t what you see in Disney, oh no. The Fair Folk are what you hear in this album.
Favorite Track: An Túr
Nubiferous – Primeval Forest Hymns (Neo-Folk/Ritual Ambient)
Black Mara has to be one of the best ritual ambient labels out there. The production of the sound is superb and the ritualistic atmosphere is magnificent. The forest comes alive in Primal Forest Hymns. The album is fluid and kinetic. It moves, both, with the sounds of the forest itself and the minimalistic music. It’s deeply spiritual, communing with nature. This is my first experience with Nubiferous, after the experience I had with Primal Forest Hymns I know it will not be my last.
Favorite Track: Ridge of Fiery Owls
This is Darkness – Vol. 1 Dark Ambient Compilation (Dark Ambient)
Michael Barnett knows how to put together a damn good playlist. Anyone who listened to his compilation with Terra Relicta or follows his MixCloud Page knows this. He manages to not just put together songs, but to weave themes and stories with the way he crafts his lists. He knocks another one out of the park with his first under the “This is Darkness” banner. With nearly eight hours of dark ambient, there is bound to be something you’ll love. You’ll see old favorites and you’ll find new projects to follow.
Favorite Track: Valanx – Heretic’s Cross
Wolf Faced God – Stone Altars (Neo-Folk)
Scrolling through Bandcamp’s tag list can be mind-numbing and fruitless. Endless album covers that look so badly cobbled together you ask yourself why do they even try. Then you find the gems, the diamonds buried under a ton of rumble. Wolf Face God jumped out at me out of nowhere. The dark ambient/neo-folk atmosphere reminds me of Paleowolf, the crown jewel of the neo-folk genre. While Wolf Faced God isn’t quite as raw and natural as Paleowolf, they certainly do add some depth to the genre and make an hour entertaining.
Favorite Track: Cult of the Mammoths
Arcane Existence – The Dark Curse (Melodic Black Metal)
I’ll admit to watching Once Upon a Time in the beginning of its run. There was a modern twist to the old fairy tales we were told as children dozens of times. As it went on, as do all TV shows it seems, the writing got lazier and the show suffered. However, it inspired a melodic black metal band to write an album about the show’s admittedly confusing mythology. Had I not known about the show beforehand I might have thought this album strange or cheesy and ignored it. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s not the greatest album you’ll ever hear but it’s fun.
Favorite Track: The Dark One
Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks – The Grim Weepers (Death Country)
Death country is still a concept I’m wrapping my head around. It’s strange and uncouth but somehow, I’ve loved all the stuff that I’ve come across. Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks is the epitome of that strangeness and the attractiveness that that strangeness has. The music is catchy and will get stuck in your head if you aren’t careful. And if you happen to pay attention to the lyrics, then you know how creepy the whole damn thing is. If you like Those Poor Bastards, JB Nelson, or Blackgrass Gospel, these guys are for you.
Favorite Track: Hospital
Antholomoir – The Moth Princess (Ambient)
While just being a single song, Moth Princess managed to impress me quite a bit. The music was soft and light, feeling a little bit like what Enya might sound like if she ever did something truly ambient, but it has hints of darkness. Just like the movie the Mothman Prophecies, you can’t really tell who or what this thing is. It keeps you entertained. Not bad for a single.
Elric – Stormbringer (Dungeon Synth)
Minimalist dungeon synth is my favorite kind of synth. The sounds are simple yet the themes and melodies are surprisingly complex. Elric is no different. I can’t profess to being a Moorcock fan but if I listen to enough Elric, I might have to. The only thing about this album was that it was too fucking short. It lasts less than twenty minutes full told. I want more, dammit!
Favorite Track: The Horn of Fate
Maradon – In Ages Lost (Dungeon Synth)
This one came highly recommended and so, for me, had a lot of hype. It lived up to that hype I think. It was well produced, clean, yet it was covered in darkness and shadows. The music was clear and ethereal, the way dungeon synth ought to be. It spoke of dark dungeons, evil wizards, topless towers, and heroic battles. Maradon isn’t exactly low fantasy but in just five songs it manages to tell a compelling, emotional tale.
Favorite Track: Ruins of a Noble House, Pt 1
Sadko – Slovo (Neo-Folk)
Gods this was beautiful! I’ve been a fan of traditional music much longer than I’ve been a fan of neo-folk. Sadko, in a way, blends them together. He creates a story here that is full of mythology and folklore yet at the same time is full of heart and emotion. The music is simplistic yet profound. An album like this doesn’t need to have a lot of different instruments playing measures and countermeasures. It needs simple melodies that attune themselves with the sounds of nature. Sadko that honors the ancient Slavic heroes.
Favorite Track: Solva
Antaeus – Blood Libels (Occult Black Metal)
While this isn’t a new album, it’s definitely a good one. 2006 was the year I really started getting into black metal, diving in and listening to nearly anything I could find. 2006 was a good year for black metal, from what I recall, and Blood Libels was one of the reasons for that. It was one of the black metal albums that stood out from that time that I still find enthralling and captivating today. It’s been a while since I listened to Antaeus but with the announcement that Aosoth (the other band of vocalist MkM) will be coming out with a brand-new album shortly, I thought it was appropriate. The album is still as heavy, dark, and brutal as it was eleven years ago. Antaeus ages very well.
Favorite Track: Cyklic Torture
Merrimack – Of Entropy and Life Denial (Raw Black Metal)
To a brand new metalhead getting into the deeper end of black metal, Moribund Records seemed like the best there ever was (to be fair… they were). Merrimack was one of the reasons why Moribund was such a success. Merrimack had that “Fuck off and die” attitude that a seventeen-year-old fan of black metal needed but also had the emotional and metaphysical complexity that allowed me to begin to see black metal as more than just a form of music. It was deeper than that. Merrimack is another black metal band that has aged well, Of Entropy and Life Denial was bloody brilliant. It had atmosphere and a haunting malevolence that most bands couldn’t touch.
Favorite Track: Seraphic Conspiracy (Of the Angels and Their Mission)