Focusrights, Vultress, Abhasa, Beaten to Death, Botanist, and Agonanist

Focusrights – Ew, Music!

The Ukrainian mathgrind unit Focusrights just released the Ew, Music! EP. As befits its genre, it’s relatively short, standing at a little under twenty minutes, but this time is incredibly busy with time changes, genre hoppings, eclectic rhythms, dissonant chords, and confusing melodies. It’s an angry, heavy, and creative album that you should absolutely love!

Vultress – Hypnopompia

Vultress is one of those hidden pearls. A prog band that for the most part no one knows about, but that delivers amazing material over and over. I stumbled upon them with their previous album, Distance, which is a seventy-minute single song divided on disc into six tracks. This year, they’re back (without fanfare) with a new full-length: Hypnopompia. Unlike its predecessor, it’s not a single composition, although it’s still a concept album, and it’s also much more concise, at about thirty minutes long. However, it’s a clear improvement on many fronts: composition, production, and performance were all improved on their already great formula to give us a hard-hitting progressive rock (often playing the metal card) opus. Enjoy this band while it still has that obscure status!

आभास (Ābhāsa) – २ (Dvi)

After last year’s remastered १ (Eka), which we reviewed here, mysterious entity आभास (Ābhāsa) are back with a new album, २ (Dvi) (literally: 2). It seems to forgo some of what made 1 so unique, namely its folkloric instrumentation, but keeps its disgustingly sludgy riffs and oppressively heavy atmosphere. That makes for a stellar atmospheric sludge metal album, I don’t know if it could be called black, but here you go. I’d personally rather they kept their more unique traits, but I’m very happy with what we got here, and glad they’re trying new things.

Beaten to Death – Laat maar, ik verhuis naar het bos

Beaten to Death have been generally very difficult to categorize, but I think I’ve got just the right term for them: post-grindcore. Yeah, it’s new, but I think it conveys the band’s sound better than anything else I’ve come across. Their brand of music is relentless, heavy, hectic, and sometimes dissonant, but it’s also very melodic, sometimes atmospheric, and also pays great attention to harmonic progression. Their newest project is the Laat maar, ik verhuis naar het bos album, which is “vinyl only” and “will never be sent out for promotional or press reviews”. Well, one month after I ordered my copy of the vinyl, I received a promotional copy of the album (not the vinyl, not yet)! Well, I guess they meant that only for the vinyl mix, then? Anyway, the digital version of the album will be split into four EPs, each representing a forest: Mastbos, 青木ヶ原 (Aokigahara), Østmarka, and Endor (yes, the Star Wars one!) Each one will be released two weeks apart, starting on November 13 all the way to December 24. This is some of BTD’s best material to date (and their material is always fantastic), so be hyped for when this hits!

Botanist – Photosynthesis (The Flenser)

Everyone knows Botanist at this point, right? The Californian misanthropic hammered dulcimer-centric progressive black metal entity? Well, they’ve come quite a long way since their 2011 double-debut The Suicide Tree and A Rose from the Dead. Since their more glaucous beginnings, they’ve added melodic singing and a more complete band sound. They’ve also kept experimenting with various compositional tools, such as irregular time signatures and various modulations. On Photosynthesis, time signatures are of particular note: you can for example hear \(\frac{9}{8}\) on “Light”, \(\frac{5}{8}\) on “Chlorophyll”, and \(\frac{7}{8}\) on “Stroma”, the remainder mostly using the more typical \(\frac{6}{8}\) or \(\frac{4}{4}\). I really like this new format for Botanist!

Agonanist – The Cynicism of Solitude (Transylvanian Tapes)

Using microtonality in your music is almost a surefire way of making me pay attention to it. Of course, many other elements are required for a solid musical composition and experience, but if you’ve got all these elements and sprinkle microtonality on top of it all, that’s just perfect! That’s what we’ve got for California avant-garde black metal band Agonanist. They’ve got solid compositions, awesome performance from the musicians, amazing production (keep in mind it’s still a black metal album), and on top of it all they’re doing it all in 17-tone equal temperament. 17-TET has previously been quite thoroughly explored, for example by the amazing new permutation of The Mercury Tree, but I don’t recall it being applied to black metal before. Of course, there’s their 2017 collaboration with Voidcraeft, which made it to our top 10 black metal albums of the year, so it’s safe to say Agonanist have carved a seat for themselves.

On November 2 2020, this entry was posted.

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