Mini-Reviews XL

Can we reach L before year’s end? Place your bets!
dMu is an avant-garde metal and jazz fusion coalescence with baritone sax, bass clarinet, electric guitars, and heavy drums. Synaptic Self was released in August and has since been grossly underrepresented in people’s listening time. It’s an album of pure and masochistic ecstasy. Fans of John Zorn will most likely find a brass and woodwinds alter ego to the musician here, but even those who don’t give a shit about Mr. Zorn – me included – should take the time to listen to this album and let it sink in, which can take quite a while. It’s a truly creative, visceral, and memorable album unlike any other. A must.
Greece’s Manhattan Project just released Engineering Chaos, their debut instrumental progressive metal album. It’s quite a decent journey! The riffs are great, and the song structures are varied and keep things interesting, the solos come out when called for, and the use of ethnic instruments – listen to ‘Vishnu’ -, is an always-welcome breath of fresh air. Overall, it’s a very good album!
Haamoja is a progressive metal and jazz fusion one-man project from Taiwan, and they released Pure Love in late November. The three-song EP shows great promises in song composition and playing, but suffers from the same thing as most one-man projects: synth drums. If you can make abstraction to this ultimately minor detail, the work of Haamoja will utterly charm you.
Il rumore bianco‘s Antropocene is AltrOck Productions’ latest arrival. The Italian progressive post-rock band brings influences from electronic music and jazz to complete its personal soundscape. The album is very gentle and meticulously harmonized to evoke things beyond the lyrics and music themselves. The saxophone and guitar solos definitely help, in that regard. A great, melancholic album, overall.
Atmospheric black metal project Mesarthim just released their latest EP, The Great Filter, consisting of a singular, twenty-one-minute track. My liking for the band has greatly fallen since last year’s Isolate, and this might be due to many things: the downslope of production quality, the upslope of music output, the horizontal line of originality, or, simply, a general tiredness of their own musical style. If you’re an avid consumer of all things atmoblack, or space-themed black metal, I guess you’re pretty happy in your relation with Mesarthim, but an insatiable asshole like me isn’t. I can still praise this new song for the things it does good: that’s their longest track by far and it keeps things interesting nonetheless, and it also adds a bit of electronic/trance music passages. However, much of the rest is more of the same.

Mind’s Horizon (previously known as Monolith) released Desolation Within back in February. As far as progressive death metal goes, this is pretty much on par. Although not groundbreaking, the compositions and general substantiality on display are good to very good. The production is a bit rough, but I like to think it gives character to the music, in that case. It’s quite an extensive album as well, clocking in at seventy-six minutes, with most songs surpassing the ten minutes mark, with a twenty-minute closing epic. Give it a listen or two!
Blizzard at Sea‘s post-metal just got a new iteration with Ruminations, their latest full-length. The sludge and progressive aspects of it really shine throughout and makes the whole a bit more deserving than it would be without them. The album is rather simplistic, however, and it’s part of the reason why I’m not so thrilled about it. I know post-[genre] music is based on repetition, but the best examples of that use a flurry of variations on the themes and riffs that are being repeated, so they are not simply looping. I’m not saying it’s completely devoid of that, here, but it’s just not emphasized enough. On top of that, ‘Third-Order Simulacra’, the would-be epic of the album, at twenty-two minutes long, fails completely to fulfill its fate. Instead of that, it falls flat with an anticlimactic disappointment. It’s a bit of a letdown since the beginning of the first track was promising!
黒麒 (Black Kirin) is, usually, a death metal band from China. Their debut album, 哀郢 (National Trauma), was a very interesting album blending symphonic black metal with Chinese folk music and death metal. This time, with 箫韶 (Xiao Shao), they completely ditched the metal instrumentation in favour of traditional instruments, but there also are occidental guitars. This has the peculiarity of making the album sound like a Chinese folk band covering death metal songs (although everything here is original material). The album came all the way back in July, but I missed it completely until just recently, so I thought I’d put it here for those of you who missed it too. It’s a great album of high quality that will offer some change in your music library.

On December 12 2016, this entry was posted.