Monthly Recommendations: December 2020

Cryptodira – The Angel of History (Good Fight)

Chances are it’s not the first time you hear of Cryptodira. Indeed, the band, although relatively young, has garnered quite a lot of attention to itself, thanks in great part to quality songwriting and musicianship, creativity and technicality. The Angel of History is the epitome of the band’s vision, with convoluted songs, tortuous riffs, and a particular attention to lyrics. It might not be the most accurate comparison, but I’ve received big vibes of White Arms of Athena‘s Astrodrama while listening to The Angel of History, which was mostly due to the singer’s clean voice timbre and the kind of undistorted prog going on under it. It’s a really good album and you should listen to it.

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Nova incepta – Visions of Arcadia

Nova incepta is a progressive metal band from Sydney, Visions of Arcadia is the sequel to New Initiatives, which we reviewed here. They’re crafting cinematic music that’s more than capable to stand on its own. Visions of Arcadia is beautiful and complex, impressive from all perspectives; it comes out later this year.

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Respire – Black Line (Church Road)

It’s not been long since Respire made it on Matt’s Album’s of the Decade list for their 2018 masterpiece Dénouement. Yet, I haven’t personally mentioned the band, so I wanted to take their new release as an opportunity to do just that. Black Line, in the vein of the band’s previous works, is an emotionally charged post-black metal album with a lush instrumentation that includes strings, vibraphone, and banjo from the members of the band, as well as an extended line-up including a brass section for this album. This results in a very full sound, which is exploited to the maximum by the band. It’s a fantastic album.

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Show Me a Dinosaur – Plantgazer

As one friend put it, “Plantgazer” as a name is the epitome of the blackgaze genre. That name holds its title, unlike the almost iwabo-core quality of “Show Me a Dinosaur”. But indeed, Plantgazer is a solid post-black/blackgaze contender for 2020. It has all the traits of a good album of this genre. With a firm grasp on songwriting and a more than capable musicianship from all members, Plantgazer sits high on my rankings for this year.

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James Mac Gaw – La Fin des temples (Soleil Zeuhl)

James Mac Gaw is a former member of French Zeuhl founders Magma, so you know this is legitimate. La Fin des temples is a thirty-three-minute composition split into nine tracks on record and played by an incredible cast of musicians. While I’m far from being the biggest fan of Magma, I’m a known lover of Zeuhl and the various bands influenced by them, and this album sits right with me, as a sort of bridge between early Magma and ulterior embodiments of the genre. In the end, it’s a truly stellar release that’s worth every minute of your time!

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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!

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Thrailkill – Detach

Wes Thrailkill is back with another killer release! This time, a 20 minute EP titled Detach. Wes wrote this during quarantine after having trouble finding inspiration and second guessing nearly everything he produced. But in the end he relinquished himself to the creative process and forged this beauty. Wes compares his mindset while creating Detach, to pulling a random card from a shuffled deck. Despite that mindset, he still managed to make it flow as a cohesive piece. It’s heavy, melodic, jazzy, chaotic, virtuosic, and everything in-between. Wes’s guitar tone is flawless as usual, and his chops are in top form.

Detach is made up of six parts, but as it is meant to be listened to as a single piece, the transitions between parts are smooth. Part 1 ‘An Abduction’ starts off with some nice heavy riffs that jump into some manic sweep arpeggios at the start of Part 2 ‘Seed Turns to Leech.’ Things start to get more melodic by the time we transition into Part 3 ‘Paracusia.’ Then a bit more chaotic again before mellowing out at the jazzy start of Part 4 ‘Exercise in Futility.’ Part 5 ‘The Latter’ gets soft and atmospheric before getting heavy again in the titular sixth and final part ‘Detach.’

The cover art, created by Tel Aviv artist Ori Toor, is an intricate and psychedelic-looking piece so detailed that you notice something new every time you look at it. The preview of the CD version below shows it off nicely.

Wes certainly pushed beyond his limits on this EP and created something to be proud of. Detach, set to release on December 11th, is a short, yet satisfying snack of guitar ear candy you’ll definitely want a taste of.

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Gjoad – Samanōn (Antiq)

Austrian post-rock band Gjoad just released their debut album, Samanōn, on Antiq. When you press play, you’re going to be drowning in atmosphere. Swelling and waxing they slowly take you by the hand and lead you deeper and deeper into their narratives. That’s especially the case on the opener and longest track “Rouh”—”Smoke” in Old High German. There’s also a good dose of folk to this post-rock formula, such that it sometimes feels like “post-folk”, although it’s still quite heavily rooted in post-rock. It’s a very lyrical album and a good way to spend thirty-five minutes.

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On December 31 2020, this entry was posted.