Wednesday, September 24, 2014

THE TWILIGHT REVUE: Sona, Strange Angels, Petrychor, Spitzenqualität

SONA "Four Shadows" Demo 2014

Top-notch debut from this Los Angeles post-black metal band. Hits all the right spots, from the songwriting filled with majestic ebbs and flows to the well-balanced mix and production. Stylistically I might place this somewhere between LANTLÔS and COLD BODY RADIATION, if either of those bands still used harsh vocals. 3 songs total, with the middle track "Chasms (Interlude)" being a long, ethereal clean guitar passage before the title track "Four Shadows" swells to a crescendo, and the blast beat kicks in at the perfect moment. Happy ending.

STRANGE ANGELS "Heartland Pt. III, Our Multiform, Our Infinite"

One-man Scottish folk/black metal from Aberdeen. As I am not that familiar with folk music from the UK, I'm not sure if these songs are traditional folk songs or original compositions; either way, sole member Valerian seems to adhere to traditional arrangements and chord progressions, giving the music a stirring, soulful quality that is very moving. This, his 3rd full-length, flows through a myriad of dynamics, from guitar drone/doom, to wistful acoustic segments, to driving rock grooves and triumphant blast beats, taking the listener on a magical and transcendent journey. Vocals alternate between clean, melodic singing and harsh, raspy screams. The electric guitars have a jangly, abrasive edge, and the production in general is quite raw, but to me this adds to the charm and emotive power of this highly recommended release.

PETRYCHOR "Makrokosmos"

PETRYCHOR is another Los Angeles band created by sole member Tad Piecka, also of post-rock instrumentalists BEWARE OF SAFETY. In PETRYCHOR, the talented Mr. Piecka crafts an amazing combination of synth ambience and electronica, symphonic string arrangements, acoustic folk, and atmospheric black metal into a very unique and cinematic experience. This dense, almost overwhelming album borders on cacophonous at times; however, many moments of startling beauty and wonder await the diligent listener. The folk passages in particular, which seem to have an eastern European or gypsy vibe (in my opinion), are impressive with an immense technical proficiency on display. I also recommend the previous album "Effigies and Epitaphs".

SPITZENQUALITÄT "Spitzenqualität"

Total NEU! worshipping krautrock black metal from Japan. In fact, the band seems to have derived its name SPITZENQUALITÄT from the title of a NEU! song on the second album "Neu! 2", which translated from German means "highest quality". At any rate, the 7 songs on this release utilize the trademark repetition and minimalist arrangements of the krautrock genre, with variation coming from the intonations of the guitars as opposed to actual riff changes. It works to great effect and builds a terrific sense of tension. There are also songs like "Thulcandra" (isn't that a DARKTHRONE song?) that burst into a raw and totally blown out black metal style before decaying into droning, distorted ambience. A very intriguing and unique release that I find quite enjoyable.

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