Articles by Ben Jones
Showcasing the lighter, more accessible side of the black metal titan, Pharos is an intriguing listen, and an excellent appetiser between major releases, but ultimately feels somewhat diminished without the Norwegian’s heavier side.
Norway’s avant-garde experimentalists return with their 14th studio album, a follow up to 2017’s The Assassination of Julius Caesar.
The Texas quartet have created a well crafted and beautifully tragic sci-fi story over a single, 32-minute track. An enchanting curiosity.
A captivating blast of ambient post rock, Kent-based moodsters debut is brimming with menacing melancholy, but unfortunately Mayfly ultimately ends up feeling a little bit too slight.
Bristolian maniacs Phoxjaw pull a plethora of influences together for their debut album, creating an unpredictably madcap adventure that, defying all logic, somehow feels coherent. Manically aggressive, yet oddly beguiling.
Long Distance Calling push very few boundaries with their conventional brand of post-rock, but How Do We Want to Live? refines the band’s more metallic take on the genre into a beautiful yet menacing package, all wrapped up with a thought-provoking sci-fi concept.
German veterans completely abandon their black metal past in favour of an arty goth rock sound. Black House is a bleak and melancholic experience, with some darkly sublime moments, but may leave older fans cold.
The veterans of British doom metal return with another slab of dirty depressive darkness. Obsidian sees Paradise Lost reintroduce more gothic elements, yet still maintain the same monolithic heaviness that has brought them such success.
Norwegian progressive metallers make a welcome return, with their grandiose sense of gothic excess still firmly intact. Leaves of Yesteryear spends a little too long wallowing in the past, but is a bold if somewhat disjointed reinvention.
Katatonia’s Niklas Sandin talks about new album City Burials, the band’s hiatus and keeping inspired after eleven albums.
Stockholm’s masters of metallic melancholy add a dash of Judas Priest to album eleven. Showcasing a band confident, assured and clearly enjoying themselves, City Burials maintains a sense of tragedy while pushing Katatonia in bold new directions.
Progressive metal pioneers Psychotic Waltz return after two decades out of the business with possibly the finest album of their career. The God Shaped Void is a shockingly relevant, hauntingly bleak rallying cry against the 21st Century.
Gazel’s Book of Souls is a delightfully quirky blend of electronic pop and folk elements. Immediate, but with hidden depths, its an absorbing listen, with a charming story to tell.
A meandering, diverse journey from maudlin of the Well man Toby Driver. A unique concept but ultimately the album loses its way.
Cincinnati’s Sungaze deliver a polished, exciting debut album of soothing westernised Shoegaze.
Mired in controversy and disputes over legitimacy, Batushka’s second album fails to match its predecessor, The formula still works, but ultimately ‘Hospodi’ feels muddy and a little rushed.
A gentle, meandering album, Ribbons’ countrified stylings hide a sinister undercurrent.
A promising debut from London newcomers Pozi. The band have a unique sound, melding violins with punk rock sensibilities, but are let down by an uneven tone.
A surreal, unnerving journey through noise rock’s outer reaches. Hollowed crackles with an uneasy energy that at times makes it a hard, but ultimately rewarding listen.
If misery makes for the best music then this is one of the best albums ever written. ‘The Woods’ is a mesmeric winter album – bleak, cold, lonely, touching on everything A Swarm of the Sun do well and taking it in a new, epic direction.
Norwegian avant-garde legends don’t quite reach their highest standards, but continue to prove they are the masters of black metal atmospherics.