Towards the back of the Vault, just past Reese’s cell, there’s a small staircase that leads to a hidden subterranean chamber where we keep the real underground shit. These are the obscure releases and rare finds that will get you points with the cool kids.
Welcome to Beneath the Vault, a column in which we take a brief look at the many review requests we get from bands that aren’t always fortunate enough to afford a promotional campaign or the backing of a big record label. Whether you like your music like you like your coffee or prefer listening to groovy tunes with headphones and some smoke, we’ve got you covered with these underground treasures. If you’re a band and would like a review or a spot in this column, click here to put in a request.
Hymns of Deity
Genre: Black Metal
Release June 18th, 2018
Mixing elements of Early Emperor, Dissection, Bathory, and Windir into a compelling melting pot, this is a raw and underground black metal album with medieval atmospheres and a strong melodic component. The album also has an epic streak running through it, which I quite enjoy; for example, the clean vocals that occasionally appear are quite epic and very well-performed. The keyboard enhancements and melodic leads are all tastefully done, and overall Hymns of Deity is a strong release, showing a nice development from the band’s debut album Kuolevain Veri Uinuu Ikuisuuteen. (Nigel)
Shadow Dies in Morning Light
Genre: Doom Metal
Release June 22nd, 2018
Holy crap, how good is this album? Any fan of bleak, sorrowful doom metal simply must wrap their ears around this one. If you like traditional doom but feel that it largely simply isn’t DOOM enough, then this is for you. Slow, nuanced, and filled with genuine, heartfelt performances, Ripis have produced something quite special here. Hauntingly emotive and powerfully affecting, Shadow Dies in Morning Light contains 44 minutes of music that’s simply stunning. An essential listen for any fan of the style. (Nigel)
Release July 27th, 2018
What the fuck’s going on here then? What’s that cover all about? Why does it sound like about 5 different bands contributed to this album? So many unanswered questions…Black Helium don’t care, of course, and nor should they; they’re too busy kicking out huge riffs, exploring their 60s and 70s musical influences, and disappearing down psychedelic rabbit holes. Are you looking for some wonderfully eclectic psychedelic stoner rock? If so, then you’ve definitely come to the right place. (Nigel)
The Weight of These Feathers
Genre: Atmospheric/Post-Black Metal
Release July 21th, 2018
What a truly captivating and emotive album. The Weight of These Feathers is all about the feeling, as channelled through a blackened viewpoint. Enhanced and supported by a firm appreciation of the subtleties and nuances of post-rock and progressive ambience, and bolstered by strings and some exquisite guitar work, Morrow have crafted an album of light and shade that’s a sheer joy to listen to. You’d better believe that you need to hear this. (Nigel)
Genre: Instrumental / Progressive / Stoner Rock
Released: April 1st, 2018
First up for me is New York’s Twin Speak. The three-piece instrumental act describes their music as “long songs to unwind” and that’s a pretty apt description. The album, consisting of five instrumental tracks, is a pretty mellow listen, but it’s the cinematic quality to their music that makes them really interesting. The songs have an almost spy thriller/film noir type vibe to them reminiscent of some of Angelo Badalamenti’s work scoring David Lynch’s films, and they just scream for some sort of visual representation. Although I couldn’t find any videos for the band, let’s hope they can find a budding up-and-coming director to bring their songs to life. All-in-all, it’s great listen for fans of instrumental stoner rock that are looking for something a bit outside of the norm. (Bryan)
Genre: Sludge/ Doom / Black Metal
Released: May 14th, 2018
I know I’ve been leaning on the movie and TV references pretty hard lately, but the first thing I thought of when listening to England’s Troll Mother is “What if Flight of the Conchords made a sludge album?” Troll Mother seems to have the same sense of humor and aptitude for witty dialogue that I enjoyed from the HBO series. Their latest offering Forest Child is really an audio book at its core that mixes narration, sound effects, and metal to create an engaging and humorous story about trolls. In addition to the story, the music rips as well, and the band manages to effortlessly incorporate genres like black metal, sludge, and doom into their compositions. And with names like “Titus Galaticus” and “Admiral-Micro-Dickus,” I’ll fight anyone who can’t get through the entire album without cracking a smile. This album is just a really fun listen for metal and fantasy fans with a sense of humor.