2016, A, Aeonic, Album, Alternative, Ambient, and, Atmosphere, Atmospheric, Blues, Drums, For, Heavy, Impulse, Indie, Jazz, Jordan, Metal, Night, Progressive, Promotion, Release, Rock, Salfity, Studio, Technical, The, Tracking, Troubled, Update
2016, A, Album, Ambient, Black, Death, Electronic, Hall, Industrial, Jazz, Jordan, Kingdom, Magazine, Melodic, Metal, No, Nocturnal, Obsidian, Opeth, Progressive, Review, Rock, Salfity, Summer, Ulver, With, Year
OBSIDIAN KINGDOM – A Year With No Summer
Label:Season Of Mist
URL: Obsidian Kingdom
OBSIDIAN KINGDOM had been a band since 2005 before finally releasing their debut album Mantiis in 2012. Between 2005 and 2012, they released two EPs, but it was Mantiis that really gave music fans an idea of what this band was capable of. The album was a 1-song concept album split into 14 tracks filled with a variety of emotions and genres, including influence from ambient music, folk, jazz, progressive rock, and extreme forms of heavy metal such death metal and black metal, perfect for fans of Opeth, Orphaned Land, and Persefone. I highly anticipated a follow up, and got just that early in 2016. A Year With No Summer takes a much different path than its predecessor. However, the band is still able to pull off this miraculous change in genre. Dropping the influence from extreme forms of metal, this album focuses much more on electronic, industrial, post-rock, and experimental music. The album opener is my favorite song the band has ever put out, being the perfect mix of a catchy chorus and strong dynamics from quiet to loud and vise versa. April 10th is one of the most interesting tracks on the album, starting with a spoken part from the singer of Ulver, which creates a very mysterious and haunting atmosphere. It reminds me of a combination between Ulver and Nine Inch Nails, and really shows the band going in different directions. Darkness is filled with a mix of melody and dissonant noise, continuing with the Nine Inch Nails but done in more of a punk rock or industrial metal way. The heavy use of electronic and industrial music really fits the theme of the album, and the atmosphere overall helps the concept of the album get across. The Kandinsky Group is one of the heavier songs on the album and has vocals that are almost growls/screams. The Polyarnik is a great instrumental. Black Swan is another accessible song, but the album closes with one of the most diverse tracks, the 11 minute Away/Absent, which finally shows the band returning to their death/black metal roots. Overall, it is an incredible diverse album that is well thought out. The concept and themes are really interesting to read into, and I love how musically the band brings everything full circle. This album is highly underrated and it is one of my favorites of 2016.
Originally posted on Nocturnal Hall Magazine.
Alternative, Ambient, America, Angeles, Assault, Baroness, California, Code, Concert, Doom, Electronic, Fonda, Harmonies, Heavy, Hollywood, Indie, Industrial, Live, Los, Melodies, Metal, North, Photos, Pictures, Punk, Review, Rock, Sludge, Stoner, The, Theatre, Tour, Youth
Review by Jordan Salfity, photos by Jay Valena
June 3rd 2016, Fonda Theatre, Hollywood CA: Savannah, Georgia sludge metal group Baroness released their fourth full-length studio album ‘Purple’ in late 2015, and embarked on a North American headline tour in May 2016 with support act Youth Code. They brought the tour to an end in Los Angeles with a gig at the Fonda Theatre, and our writer Jordan Salfity, along with our photographer Jay Valena, were in attendance to capture the show for us via their respective words and images. Check it out below.
I first saw Baroness live right before the release of ‘Yellow & Green’ in 2012, while on their tour with Meshuggah and Decapitated. On that tour, the mostly death metal crowd did not really get into Baroness and their mostly soft rock set. The second time I saw Baroness, I drove down to San Diego to a sold-out show at The Casbah, about a year after their horrific bus crash that left most of the members of the band with severe injuries. They were welcomed back to the stage as heroes, in one of the roughest, sweatiest, and most fun shows that I have ever been to. When Baroness announced that they would be coming back to Los Angeles for the first time in four years, I knew I had to be there, and many close friends of mine felt the exact same way. There was a beautiful intensity and excitement in the air as many in the crowd would be seeing them for the very first time. It was also due to the fact that their recent release ‘Purple’ had been so well acclaimed and lyrically struck the right chord with a lot of people, due to being influenced by frontman John Baizley’s time in the hospital and subsequent recovery time.
The line formed early and at 8 PM, the place filled quickly. There was only one opening band that night, and at 9 PM, the crowd was introduced to Youth Code. Youth Code is a Los Angeles based two-piece industrial band, consisting of Ryan George on keyboards and Sara Taylor on vocals. Ryan would supply backup vocals here and there, but it was clear that Sara’s growls and screams were the driving force of this band. Her tone was deep and raspy. It seemed obvious that half of the crowd were not familiar with them, and did not expect an industrial band to open up for Baroness. The crowd remained exceptionally respectful nonetheless. I enjoyed their set, though I do feel like the lack of a full band creates an awkward lack of energy that could be saved by more people playing instruments, such as drums and guitar, rather than just a couple of keyboards.
More Youth Code photos:
The lights went dark at exactly 10:15 PM, and Baroness took the stage to a full room of loud and excited fans. They went straight into ‘Kerosene’ from the Purple album, setting the mood of what the night was going to be like. The set consisted of 14 songs, followed by an encore, and contained every song from Purple, not including the 14-second ‘Crossroads of Infinity’. Aside from that, the set had a couple of fan favorites from the other albums, including ‘March to The Sea’, ‘Board Up the House’, and ‘Take My Bones Away’ from Yellow & Green, ‘Isak’ from The Red Album, and ‘The Gnashing’ from the Blue Record.
The energy from the crowd and band continued throughout the entire set, with most of the crowd singing along to every word. You could tell that the band was feeding off the energy, as they truly looked like four guys having the time of their lives playing the music that they love. I really enjoyed how they connected songs with little jam sessions in between, and the whole set flowed together nicely. The highlight of the night for me was ‘If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)’ from Purple, which is an incredibly beautiful and emotional ballad. You could see how much that song meant to many people in the crowd. The 16-song set flew by quickly, and I could not believe it was already time to go home. Baroness are definitely at the top of their game right now, and all their hard work over the years is paying off as they continue to be one of the most respected bands in heavy metal.
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02. March to the Sea
04. Shock Me
05. Board Up the House
06. Green Theme
07. The Iron Bell
08. If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain?)
10. Little Things
11. Chlorine & Wine
12. Try to Disappear
13. Desperation Burns
14. The Gnashing
16. Take My Bones Away
More Baroness photos:
In 2013, Swedish post-metal band Cult of Luna released Vertikal, a concept album heavily inspired by such asMetropolis to explore themes of industrial cities. That album has remained one of my favorite albums of all time, and I was eager to know what the band was going to do next. So when I heard that their next project was collaboration with American singer Julie Christmas, and would be a concept album about space exploration based on movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, I already knew that it was going to be a contender for album of the year.
Julie Christmas is famous for her work with Made Out of Babies and Battle of Mice, but has not sung on a full album since her solo album The Bad Wife in 2010. Her vocal style is fragile and haunting. It actually reminds me a lot of Adam Fisher (Fear Before the March of Flames/Orbs/All Human) who is one of my all time favorite singers. I knew her voiced matched with Cult of Luna would create a quite a unique experience. Needless to say, this album delivers.
“A Greater Call” starts off with a beautiful almost three-minute intro before a combination of Julie’s cleans and Cult of Luna’s trademark yells come into play, bringing the song into full effect. This is one of my favorite songs released by either project, as it is sludgy and mysterious at the same time. “Chevron” features industrial like fuzzy bass playing while Julie takes full control of the vocals. She shows the diversity of her voice, eventually going from high shrieks to beautiful melodies towards the end. “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” might be the darkest track on the album, reminding me a lot of some of the atmospheric sections of Vertikal.
And while the 8 to 9 minute songs were already epic, the album closes with a 13- minute and a 15-minute track that show the band and Julie’s ability to jam while simultaneously going back and forth from soft to heavy within the context of a song. Overall, it is an incredible album that is not for the faint of heart. When tackled, it is a rewarding experience.
– Jordan Salfity
Review originally published by Nocturnal Hall Magazine.
|BARONESS – Purple|
|Release:||December 18, 2015|
In 2012, BARONESS released the double album Yellow And Green, which divided fans due to being softer and more melodic than the previous sludge metal releases from the band. On the tour for that album, BARONESS were involved a bus crash that injured all nine passengers and left frontman John Baizley with a broken arm and leg. The band spent months of recovery before embarking on a tour, being welcomed back to the stage as heroes. In late 2015, BARONESS released their follow up album, Purple. This album takes the melody and harmony from the Yellow And Green albums while harkening back to the heavier approach of their earlier albums. Lyrically, John had a lot of material to choose from in regards to the bus crash, hospital time, and recovery time. The album starts with Morningstar, a driving and heavy song with a catchy chorus. This formula seems to be the focus of the album, as song after song provide many moments of perfect sludge metal with choruses to sing along with, raise fists to, and I bet will work perfectly in a live setting. Shock Me contains 80’s sounding keyboards, and alongside Try To Disappear contains some of the best melodies the band has ever wrote. Kerosene is more upbeat than the previous two tracks, before slowing it down with the instrumental Fugue, showing off the band’s amazing use of dynamics. Chlorine And Wine contains some of John’s best lyrics, but he star of the album for me is the closing ballad, If I Have To Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain?), which along withEula from the previous album are the most emotional songs the band has written. My only complaints with the album are the compressed production, which does not give the drum or guitar tones enough room to breathe, and the weird closing track, which is just 14 seconds of strange sounds and robotic vocals. Other than that, the songwriting is perfect and it is a very enjoyable album through and through.
2016, Album, Atmosphere, Blast, Death, Dreamless, Electronic, Fallujah, Female, Flesh, Growls, Hard, Harvest, Leader, Metal, Music, Nuclear, Prevails, Records, Review, Rock, Tech, Technical, The, Unique, Vocals, Wombs
Dreamless seems like a continuation of the sound, feel, and style of The Flesh Prevails. However, without feeling uninspired, it seems like everything about this album was done more carefully than that album. The result is better production, better songwriter, and more advancement in the band’s continued search for atmosphere and elements not typically found in death metal. In fact, the theme of this album seems to be about more, but in a good. Female vocals are scattered throughout the album, rather than just being here or there. Electronic elements find themselves to be more prevalent than they were on the previous release.
Even the album length and track listing are much greater. Whereas how The Flesh Prevails was 9 songs clocking in at 41 minutes, Dreamless is 12 songs clocking in at 55 minutes. It seems that the band has much more comfort in their sound, and are not afraid to show it. They proudly display it in full force to their fan base and to the metal community around the world. Some people may still prefer The Flesh Prevails for being more condensed and straight to the point. However, it seems to me like deciding which album is better will be a heavy topic of debate for metal fans. Either way, The Flesh Prevails was my favorite death metal album of 2014, and it is looking like Fallujah will once again top that list for me in 2016.
Do yourself a favor and blast this album at full volume!
– Jordan Salfity
Alternative, Concepts, Core, Death, Faceless, Gorguts, Ideas, Jazz, Leader, Math, Metal, Necrophagist, Obscura, Passage, Progressive, Records, Space, Station, Technical, That, The, Time, Unique, Zenith
Solipsist is the debut album by technical death metal band The Zenith Passage. Prior to this, the band had put out an EP called Cosmic Dissonance in 2013 and a single/demo of the song “Zenith” in 2012. That 2013 EP was able to help the band achieve quite a good following in a short amount of time, and the band toured the country under bigger names such as Fallujah. That hype, paired with the announcement of guitarist and founding member Justin becoming the second guitarist of well-established technical death metal band The Faceless, led to high anticipation towards this release. Sure enough, the band was able to deliver.
Solipsist is an album that is able to merge typical technical death metal qualities with some new tricks by the band. In doing this, the band is able to please fans of The Faceless, Necrophagist, and Obscura while not sounding like a direct rip-off or clone of the bands that came before them. This is extremely obvious in “Holographic Principle II: Convergence” where the band incorporates some Muse-like keyboards amongst the pulverizing drumming and guitar-shredding.
Characteristic of the technical death metal genre are the jazzy guitar solos, robotic vocals and extremely occasional clean vocals, and sporadic keyboards throughout. These characteristics are all there, however the band is full of groove, melody, and harmony to make these songs extremely memorable. This is something that has become very difficult to do, because I personally feel that the technical death metal genre has become stale. I feel this because it seems like bands are just trying to be faster or heavier than each other. The Zenith Passage does not focus on this, and instead brings a lot of atmosphere into the mix, as heard towards the ends of “Simulated Reality” and “Deus Deceptor”.
The band really has a great balance between the heavy sections and the softer sections, and this is a trait that is going to help them in the long run. An amazing debut album for such a young and talented band. I expect to see a lot more of them, as this album will indeed be striking the right chord for many fans of this type of music.
– Jordan Salfity