Articles by Ben Jones
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.
They have effortlessly continued where they left off, with All That Divides a perfect and logical evolution of the band’s sound, Gardner’s ability to write anthemic choruses remains sure to electrify.
Riverside return from tragedy with a raw, emotional slice of progressive metal. Wasteland isn’t a perfect album but successfully showcases a deep fragility to the band’s progressive leanings.
An even more minimalist partner album to Staccato Signals, Drone Signals sees Ben Chatwin oozing in icy atmosphere once again, even if it fails to reach the same heights.
A confident second album from one of Britain’s most unique bands. Ascend solidifies Vodun’s frenetic mix of African beats and Sabbathian riffs, creating an assured package that glides effortlessly between fast paced riffing and bluesy soul.
LA prog metallers Redemption return with a new vocalist and their best album in almost a decade.
Canada’s Finnr’s Cane prove to be a beguiling addition to the atmospheric black metal scene. ‘Elegy’ is an enchanting album that showcases the best of the genre, if at times playing a bit too safe.