Sonic Pilgrim is a guide through the musical underworld. Its main focus is reviewing and writing about underground and independent albums, bands and labels. It covers a vast variety of genres, from rock and metal and a lot of their subgenres to more experimental and avant-garde music. We will gladly accept promo material from such bands and review it. Have fun reading the reviews, listening to music and discovering new stuff. Join us in our musical pilgrimage!
I love the word "cosmic". It's one of those words. You can feel what it means just by the sound of it. It makes you think of distant stars, vast expanses and dark abysses. When we say that something is "cosmic" it really feels like it's from another world, beyond human understanding. Why am I saying this? Because this is the most appropriate word for Oranssi Pazuzu's music. Cosmic. Beyond human understanding, but still within ear's reach.
Oranssi Pazuzu is a band which clearly engaged in some kind of alien contact with another world from where they got the inspiration to play psychedelic black metal. It may seem like they are from Tampere, Finland, but to be honest, I think their motherland is in some faraway galaxy. They have been on Earth since 2007 and Värähtelija is their fourth long play album. These musicians absolutely found their own niche and are constantly trying to break the genre's, and their own, boundaries. Without any stagnation, ever, since their debut, they are improving their music more and more.
Värahtelijä is reaching far into other dimensions and spaces. With every note on this album they are trying to send you into outer space. And they're doing it with success. The new Oranssi Pazuzu album is a juggernaut of a spaceship which will take you on a mind-expanding cruise through galaxies, nebulas, abysses, wormholes and across mystical dimensions. Stunned by the view, you'll probably forget to buckle yourself up. This interstellar journey puts you in a trancelike reverie for an hour on which you might get sensations of absentness and helplessness. The Oranssi crew is specialized in these kind of trips and they won't try to bring you back anytime soon. Eventually you will return to Earth, but will have a strong desire to do it again...and again...and again...
Värähtelija means "oscillator" in Finnish. I think this is the best word to sum up this album. Regular, deep signals made by a perfect rhythm section upon which other instruments lay layers and layers of these cosmic harmonies. When you press play you can't simply just stop it because you're are just a passenger and these magnificent musicians are the pilots. So the best thing to do is just to give in and let them take you on the ride.
It is really hard do describe what Värähtelijä offers, so I'm sorry for a bit chaotic and disorganized review but it's kind of hard to write when you're traveling through galaxies in warp speed. If you ever wanted to be an astronaut, or you just want to visit the great void that surrounds us and don't have the money for your own private spaceship fortunately here is SS Värähtelijä and it welcomes you aboard!
Lately polish black metal scene has grown incredibly fast. If some years ago somebody told me that we will have so many great bands in that genre I would've laughed maniacally and question this person's sanity. But our bands becamekind of classic acts not only in polish scene but are also praised worldwide. To be honest, many think we are already one of the countries with the best scene in this genre nowadays. Mgła, Blaze of Perdition, Infernal War, Furia... I could go on and on, but what I want to say - we're pretty strong on that ground. And the best thing about the hype in some genres is the fact that many new bands are getting inspired. Some are good, some are not. Sverblôd is from Kraków and they began their music adventure in 2014. The demo album reviewed below is their first released material.
First of all - Sverblôd try to connect two differet genres; cold wave and black metal. But don't worry, they're doing it in a very subtle way. It's not some kind of strange genre hybrid with two heads all over the place. The only thing they "borrowed" from cold wave is the atmosphere. In fact, they're playing old school black metal, with some slower parts here and there. Cold wave influence is everywhere but not in a pushy way - you can just feel this specific, cold and metallic sound. In fact, it's the one of the biggest advantages of the demo. I like how Sverblôd decided to keep this mood without any miserable and tearful whining. Void of any unnecessary longueurs they just absorb you in their freezing winter atmosphere. That's what I like. Atmospheric, but not in a theatrical manner. Just classic black metal.
The most promising tracks? Well, the highlight moments of Sverblôd are "Resztki", "Waldeninsamkeit" and a cover of The Cure at the end (which is also the longest track on the album). It kind of reminds of Carpathian Forest's cover of "A Forest", with a slight difference - Sverblôd decided to cover "Siamese Twins", one of the most iconic songs from Pornography era of The Cure. And they did it in a pretty good way - it's a nice cover. Those were some big boots to fill, so - well done!"Resztki" and "Waldeninsamkeit" are, in my opinion, the most significant tracks on the demo... They're the culmination of the aforementioned cold atmosphere. And the rest of the material is quite well balanced. It's a very decent demo, with practically no flaws. I must appreciate one thing - the lyrics in Polish. I think our language is very fitting for black metal and that polish bands shouldn't avoid it. It's good to hear it.
Sverblôd released a very nice and a promising demo. I wish them well and I'm going to keep an eye on them... Who knows what will happen in the future. It would be pretty nice to have another good band coming from my country. And for now, I just must say - dobra robota!
For some reason I was never attracted to doom metal (or death / doom metal in this case) classics like early My Dying Bride, Anathema, Paradise Lost, etc. And although I now listen to doom bands that are in some way inspired by those early classics, bands that introduced me to death doom (and its sister genre - funeral doom) were Winter, early Cathedral, Thergothon, Skepticism, Evoken, Esoteric... and the mighty Disembowelment. In fact Disembowelment might be the first death doom band I've ever heard. I still remember the feeling when I first listened to Transcendence into the Peripheral. It was probably the most sombre, depressive, melancholic and haunting music I have encountered until then. It sucked me right into that occult, gloomy underworld and I was stuck on that album for months. And to this day it still remains one of my favourite doom records. Unfortunately this great Australian band disbanded after their only album. Two of the members, Matthew Skarajew and Renato Gallina had a very interesting project after Disembowelment called Trial Of The Bow, which sounded nothing like their former band, and wasn't even a metal band. It was beautifully done ambiental ethno music with a lot of eastern influences, not unlike some Dead Can Dance works. They released one EP, Ornamentation, and one full-lenght Rite of Passage.
Around 2011 Matthew Skarajew and Paul Mazziotta resurrected Disembowelment under the name d.USK, recruited Ben James on vocals and Mark Cullen on the second guitar and started playing songs off Transcendence into the Peripheral. About a year later a new band was born... Inverloch. Their three song EP Dusk | Subside was released in 2012 on Relapse Records. Since I never got over the fact that this great band from the early 90s fell apart after releasing only one (but magnificent) album, news of a new band with members of Disembowelment evoke some serious emotions in me and my expectations were indeed great. Unfortunately the EP was a bit of a let down. Don't get me wrong, it was a good death doom release, but in my opinion it didn't quite capture the atmosphere and the vibe of that only Disembowelment's full-lenght release from 1993.
Now Inverloch's first LP, Distance | Collapsed is here... And did they manage to capture that unique Disembowelment feeling? Yes... They nailed it! And not only that, they, now being older and more experienced, even improved it. Distance | Collapsed has all the ingredients that made Transcendence into the Peripheral such a great album. Their signature, progressive songwriting where slow, heavy parts unexpectedly give way to fast riffing and Mazziotta's unique blast beats, the haunting, brooding and atmospheric guitars, the deep, guttural growls, the immense low frequencies delivered by Chris Jordon on bass and the overall occult and ritualistc ambience of the album are what make Inverloch a true successor to Disembowelment. The production of the album is more polished than the raw, cave-like sound of Transcendece into the Peripheral, but that doesn't make it any less unique or unnatural. The playing is also quite tighter.It is something that is expected by these experienced musicians in this day and age. It still contains enough rawness to satisfy the fans of that specific Disembowelment sound... But what is maybe even more important is that Inverloch isn't just Disembowelment 2... it's a new band, with new members and their further evolution is something we should all embrace. A band should never stay stagnant and should always keep developing, improving, changing and experimenting, and judging by Distance | Collapsed, Inverloch is a band that still has a lot to show us in the future.
Slow, cold sound of keyboards is informing you that the album has begun. After half a minute of this same theme you might ask yourself "Is my album broken? Or is that it? That's all?!". And then, suddenly, your ears are blasted with cacophony of twisted saxophone, noises and distorted vocals. You're in another dimension. Dimension where anything can happen and you don't know how or why. Welcome aboard brave listener of Rimbaud. Let me take you on a trip. Abandon all hope.
Rimbaud is a collaboration between three polish musicians. They're all well known in their genres in Poland, but probably unknown anywhere else. Tomasz Budzyński, leader of punk rock band Armia, Mikołaj Trzaska - avant-garde saxophonist known for input in many bands, and Michał Jacaszek, artist best known in electronic genres. So we have some kind of a polish supergroup here. Although in other cases collaborations are usually well publicized and known, Rimbaud went kind of under the radar even after releasing their album in 2015... And well, it still is very overlooked.
So, our three musketeers made a project. They borrowed a name from famous French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. When you hear the album, you'll know that France is pretty important in their case and that there are some kind of references. Why? Because half of the album is in French. Even more, songs in French are mostly the strongest pieces of this album. I can not judge Budzyński's French because I only understand "bonjour" and "j'aime", but recording an album, or just a half of it, in a different language other than your own or maybe English is a very unusual and intriguing move.
Well, now it's time to answer the question - what is this Rimbaud? I haven't said a word about it yet. But don't worry, there's much to say about it... It's indeed wonderful music. The trio borrowed everything they play in their "mother bands" and very cleverly and subtlely melted it into a mass of avant-garde soundscapes. To make it simple, we can say that Rimbaud are playing dark noise jazz. Beautiful label... I'm sure some are scared already. There are moments of calm ambience, but that can transform into a storm of sounds at any time, just like in this iconic beginning of album's opener "Armata". And above everything, we can feel and hear a dark and heavy atmosphere filled with rain and thunder accompanied by surreal lyrics. Magic of these sounds is just magnetic... It's hard not to listen to Rimbaud on repeat. Especially because it has a magnificent ending. Last track, "Ja To Ktoś Inny", brings all motives from the album into one song. It's a really wonderful move.
Three mature men, who achieved almost everything in music with their previous bands, projects or solo careers, gathered together and recorded one of the best albums of 2015 and probably one of the best albums to come from Poland ever. This album is a perfect example of experience, maturity and awareness of skills. You can feel it in compositions, in ideas behind the album and in the musicianship. So if you want to spend some quality time with these three gentlemen and are prepared for extremely unpredictable music, filled with unsettling mood, but also very exciting - you know what to do now.
Lately, the mastermind behind Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Pig Destroyer got interested in sludge metal. Well, at least it seems like it. Last EP by Pig Destroyer (which, by the way, I didn't like very much) was advertised as a sludge metal album and now Hull is doing the same thing with his first band. Is it better? Well, kind of... It's better than Pig Destroyer, that's for sure. And even if I still think that the "sludge thing" should be recorded as a completely different project, unrelated to this grindcore classic, I must admit - it's a solid album.
I don't think I must introduce you to Agoraphobic Nosebleed, one of the most known grindcore bands, a classic of the genre, blah, blah, blah... Even if you're not a fan of grindcore I'm sure you heard of them. Arc is a totally different album than their earlier stuff. If you want grindcore - sorry, wrong address buddy. There's nothing grindcore or even grindcore-ish about this album. It's slow, dismal and misanthropic. More like Eyehategod on steroids than anything by Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
Musicianship is on a high level (which is expected from such a band), the production is really good, and pretty much everything seems well done. As I said, it's better than the Pig Destroyer EP. Looks like Hull really improved his "sludge sound". I haven't noticed anything wrong with these three tracks... There are even some excellent moments, like the second half of "Deathbed". The biggest problem about this album is... Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
Every time when I listened to Arc I had that feeling. And it was stronger with each new listen. "It's good and everything, but grindcore Agoraphobic was far better"... And if you know their earlier stuff, you must admit, a great grindcore album is better than a solid sludge album. Especially if these were made by the same band. This even leads to a question - isn't this a waste of potential?
Another problem with the new album is that it's kind of forgettable. I mean, yeah, it's heavy, it sounds good, but after a few listens I didn't feel like it's something I'm going to go back to very often. As I said, it's solid - nothing less and nothing more. It's not an album that will end up in my 2016 top list. Sludge metal has gained some popularity in recent years and I'm sure some fans of the genre will find what they seek in Arc. It's good work, but nothing groundbreaking. It is a stranger in the genre and a little oddity for an average sludge fan.
Zayn hail from Croatia, Bjelovar. As they themselves say "Broken industrial city in the heart of Croatia wrapped in depression and anxiety...". This setting clearly influences their music which is often very heavy,dark, and at times quite unsettling. Zayn are an ambitious instrumental quartet since their beginnings. In 2014 they released two albums; the debut, Medeia - inspired by the greek tragedy by Euripides (parts of which were used in a theater play of the same name), and only a month later, the same year, Café Mably, based on "La Nausée" by Jean-Paul Sartre, which was recorded live in a theater in their hometown.
Last year they released Fields of God, in my opinion their most professionally written, recorded and produced album to date. Medeia was leaning mostly towards the post-rock / post metal sound, and it seemed Zayn were playing it a bit safe (although it did havequite original moments, especially in the rhythm section), but already at Café Mably they ventured into a very jazzy, psychedelic and experimental direction fused with heavy, monolithic riffs. On Fields of Gold they polished their sound and, it seems, found what they were going for.
The power of Zayn lies within their fantastic drummer and bassist. These two make a huge and extremely solid backbone for the two guitarists, who also do amazing job in either laying some heavy riffing or creating layered, ambiental sound collages. They often shift between the two showing their good knowledge of dynamics. The unusual rhythm patterns also often change within the songs making the music very unpredictable. Fields of God remind me of a huge, unearthly, everchanging monolith drifting and resonating throughout space.
This is a very promising band. I also highly recommend checking out their live performance if you get the chance. Expect loud, chest punching sounds executed with high precision. This is not happy, dancable music...this is hard hitting, psychedelic band well worth of your time if you want to hear something new and original.