Posts Tagged ‘ep’

Blackgaze as a genre has emerged from the underground. Combining both the dark atmosphere that’s present in black metal with the dreamy likes of shoegaze it has captivated a small fanbase among both metal and non-metal fans. Such bands as Amesoeurs, Alcest, Shyy and Cold Body Radiation are a part of this genre.

Sleeping Peonies (yup, that’s right, Sleeping Peonies, not Sleeping Ponies or Sleeping Penis) is one such band that fusion the musical styles of both shoegaze and black metal. Now, a lot of you trve kvlt listeners will probably despise this for not being core (even though the artist doesn’t try to be all satanic and corpsepainted), but for those of you who are a tad bit more open-minded and looks at music as music and not for their kvltness, Sleeping Peonies will turn out to be quite an interesting experience.

Sleeping Peonies, with the horrible-to-write third album s l o w l y d i s a p p e a r i n g (from now on Slowly Disappearing), continues in such manners as the previous albums Rose Curl, Sea Swirl, and Ghosts and Other Things. Actually it would be more correct to categorize them as EP’s, and not albums, as they all consist of pretty short length and few tracks.

Slowly Disappearing as a whole consists of a unique sound. Instead of having very distinct instrumental sounds, the album sound much more like a whole with instruments blending into each other and creating a totality. The keyboard is allthough pretty easy to segregate from the rest of the music. Its dreamy and sometimes 80s-influenced sound is very melancholic and moody, which in turn makes the dark atmosphere rely more on the keyboard and not so much on vocals or guitars.

The album opens with the song Dreamrrz, a short song under three minutes in length. We get a taste of what’s to come. It opens rather euphoric with keyboards, but soon it expands into the atmospheric wholeness of noise the instruments create and continues with it throughout to the end. Cemetery Kisses follows up with a bit more length. Here again opening with keyboards before a backgrounded sound of pounding drums build up.

I mentioned that the music sounds much more like a whole. The listener should be noted that this creates a rather noisy all-around sound. Those of you who are familiar with Nadja, Earth, Tim Hecker or other droning bands will definitely know what I’m talking about. After Cemetary Kisses comes the album-titled song Slowly Disappearing (this time it’s actually spelt this way). It’s another short song under three minutes in length. The midsection of this song is pretty dramatic, with post-rock infuenced guitar shredding with the distinct sound of weeping guitars.

Snowbound in Hazel and Furs is the fourth track and it comes with the length of five and a half minutes. It’s probably my favorite from the EP. The song sets in motion with comforting melodies on the keyboard before it continues to build up with lament guitars and slight drumming. The song ends in a relaxing manner, instruments slowly dimming away one at a time.

The two last songs, Blowing out Candles and A Timid Eyelash Flutter. Are two tracks that are pretty unlike the rest. While Blowing out Candles is one and a half minute of boring ambient interlude, A Timid Eyelash Flutter ends the album modus operandi to the aforementioned acts such as Nadja. It’s a slow two minute track with droning guitars and keyboard, also with no drums or vocals. It is dark and harsh, but also soothing in ways.

So, despite that Sleeping Peonies is probably being bookmarked as h i p s t e r y and p r e t e n t i o u s by some, I found myself enjoying this album quite a lot. Its melancholic atmosphere is captivating for the listener and the use of keyboard is good without being cheesy and overdramatic.

PS: It’s currently free to download from Sleeping Peonies bandcamp page. Go grab it!

7.5/10

Recommended tracks: Cemetary Kisses, Snowbound in Hazel and Furs, A Timid Eyelash Flutter

Martin Sollien

I remember a time where I didn’t listen to black metal at all. I couldn’t really figure out the genre and I thought it was too noisy, too lo-fi and with horrible vocals. A long time has passed since then. Some years back I started exploring new genres within metal music. Alongside i started getting the liking of black metal

Shining was my first experience with a black metal band that I actually liked. This was at the time when V. Halmstad was released, so you could say I arrived at the apex of their musicianship. V. Halmstad is one of my favorite albums all time and the main reason as to why this album appealed so much to me contrary other black metal-albums at that time is mostly unknown. It might be the more friendly production sound that Shining had opposed to more “true” black metal acts like Darkthrone, Mayhem and Taake.

In the latter years after V. Halmstad, Shining did release a couple of decent albums. Their newest EP is a rather big diversion from what we are used to as this EP is a compilation of covered songs from artists like Katatonia and Kent. Allthough this is new from the band, covered songs is not something we are unfamiliar with. Shining has in the past covered respectively Ohm from Seigmen, which turned out to be rather adequate.

Lots Of Girls Gonna Get Hurt as the name goes by is nicely produced in an instrumental perspective. That said, the songs covered on this EP are four rather quiet rock-songs. Shining doesn’t sound too comfortable playing music of this state. Especially Kvaforth’s vocals isn’t really fitting to this kind of music as he is best with gut-wrenchng and desperate screams with angry and almost death metal-like vocals.

The album opens with the Katatonia-cover For My Demons. As I said earlier the vocals don’t really fit, but if there is a band with clean vocals that Shining would be most fit covering, it is Katatonia. For My Demons is a rather gentle track with some build-up to a climax which isn’t too huge.

What all the songs have in common is the rather dark and low black metal-ish guitar tuning that you would recognize from previous Shining albums. This do make the EP sound like classic Shining although its sound is rather different from what we are used to.

This black metal-tuning is especially present in the song Kung Av Jidder, a cover from Imperiet. This song is rather repetitive in its nature, especially in the riffing. Much like some songs from Burzum, although not as lengthy.

Alltogether I find this album to be pretty boring. Instead of covering songs from some swedish rock-artists I would rather see a follow-up to VII. Född förlorare. It lacks the instrumental and vocal quality that has been present in previous work, and I’m really starting to miss the depressive lyrical themes and the desperate atmosphere which Shining previously has held so high. Instead we are served a dull EP covering artists which are uninteresting for the listener to hear Shining cover. It’s a shame, but let’s hope the next album will be more personal again.

Recommended track: For My Demons

4.5/10

Martin Sollien

Horseback – On The Eclipse

Posted: August 5, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Reviews
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Horseback divides opinions. In the metal world, we have got a habit to take non-metal groups in our hands, and give them shelter. Bands like Swans, Tenhi and Horseback have always been reviewed in metal fanzines, despite the fact that they aren’t metal at all, and that is why the bigger part of the heavy-audience are stone-cold sceptics when it comes to a release by one of such bands (Swans may differ from the other two because of the heaviness of their industrial-infused noisepunk).

But I have long since discovered that the bands create wonderful music, despite the fact that they are not metal. Metal is really not the only well of quality these days, so if you just block out the thoughts regarding the lack of metalness, you might just enjoy something entirely new. Horseback have already released a record earlier this year, called “Half Blood”, that contained a couple of great songs, and some lesser ones too. The problem with Horseback has always been that, despite the ambient track’s swell of atmosphere and beauty, they ultimately achieve to bore you instead of entrancing you and winning you over. On The Eclipse, a vinyl-only release consisting of two songs, is wholesome a brother-release to “Half Blood”, with the sound and style being identical to the latter.

The first track, “On The Eclipse” is a track written in the style of the really great tracks on Half Blood. Minimalist chords and melodies overlap each other atop a simple beat, while black shrieks linger in the background, gargled up from the throat of multi-instrumentalist, Jenks Miller. The combo of said elements often create a distressful atmosphere, at the same time being quite smooth and relaxed. Jenk’s croaky howls drawing a thread to the weather-weary vocals of Enslaved’s Grutle Kjellson, adding the mentioned distress to the track’s blueprint. The track switch between two layered parts, before crossing into a stripped down groove accompanied by a simple guitar solo. It’s a fine song, but it doesn’t achieve the same quality of the greater tracks on this year’s other full-length by the artist.

On the b-side sits the ambient track, “Broken Orb”. It is by the ambient tracks a Horseback release succeeds or fail, as Half Blood unfortunately proved to be a grating CD due to its three ambient-tracks. But as “Broken Orb”s calm of ethereal notes enter, the hopes are high for a turn of events. The track drones along by a light pace, trying to hypnotize its listener by keeping the key elements the same throughout, only changing up the key-section once in a while. The mood flows nicely enough for a while, but then a strange surge of patternless drumbeat enters, breaking the flow. It is no big deal, but it is still not apparent what the drums were supposed to add to the song.

Even though there is not much wrong about the record, I get the feeling that the songs were cut off Half Blood because they weren’t of equal quality to the songs already featuring on the album. The soundscape and atmosphere is appealing enough by itself, but this is not something game-changing, or even great. The Horseback unit will continue to divide opinions, fans of the artist will enjoy this immensely, and anti-fanboys will find nothing to change their mind on this release. But it is worth a couple of spins if you are interested, and it is worth another go whenever Miller returns with his next voyage.

Recommended tracks: On The Eclipse, Broken Orb (there is just two songs for christ’s sake)

6.5/ 10.0

Fredrik Schjerve