Well, have you ever listened to a movie? Because, The Long Road North is exactly that.
No introduction is needed. Not for the Cult of Luna, not for how much of a fanboy I am. This band ALWAYS delivers.
It feels that The Long Road North concludes this prototypical trilogy of shorts that started with A Dawn to Fear and went on with The Raging River. This record is a musical construct of monumental gravity.
There is so much texture in this record and it really is what it says: The Long Road North is a journey into the wild, a hunting trip into the dark, cold forests of The North.
Cold Burn is a gargantuan track. It establishes the framework of the record, which will leave no one disappointed. Keys, drums, riffs, melodies; everything is there. Plus, it has my favourite riff of the record — it hits you halfway into the song. The Silver Arc has an amazing intro. Beyond I ft. Mariam Wallentin offers so much musical dimension to the record, by contributing to the creepy, sinister nature of it as a whole (“Beneath a sky of black and blue, Into a night that never ends“). The self-titled track (The Long Road North) is one of my favourites. Fantastic composition, heavy riffage — this track is FILTHY — (“The red creek carries me home — always“)! The record ends with Beyond II ft. Colin Stetson and with a whimper, but not a bang.
A few words about CoL’s guests; first and foremost, Swedish songstress and multi-instrumentalist Mariam Wallentin, who gifted her magnificent voice and haunting textures. Then, there is American saxophonist Colin Stetson (mostly known from with extensive collaboration with Tom Waits, but also being the person responsible for the music behind Hereditary!). We also have guests from Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz, of the band PHOENIX.
Produced by the band’s own Red Creek Recording, and, like its predecessors, by Magnus Lindberg, and distributed by Metal Blade Records.
Before closing, I absolutely MUST comment on how well-balanced the drumming is. Big shoutout to every CoL member for this stellar work, as well as everyone involved!
Another masterpiece by the Mooncult. ‘Nuff said.
Favourite tracks: Cold Burn, The Silver Arc, The Long Road North
Dear all, this is the time of the year that we accumulate our favorite albums for 2021 and share it with you! For sure, 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic were two of the most difficult years for mankind and the majority of people want them forsaken forever and buried in our memories. Governments applied new measures & enforcements, society bonds were torn, doubts and mistrust grew with the social media becoming the platform for accusing and states enforcing & evangelizing the “responsibility of the individual”.
Except all the pandemic and the losses in almost all possible perspectives of our pre-Covid period, 2021 was a year where some great albums were conceptualized and implemented by some amazing musicians, who personally I really really want to watch performing live all these amazing pieces of work that they were able to assemble under these circumstances. I invite you to have a look and check the list of my favorite 2021 albums and if you haven’t check them out already, please go ahead! As part of the Tzertzelos Team, I would like to wish you a great and safe new year! And please do not forget to support the artists if you liked something 🙂 Be patient and strong!
#10. Atvm – Famine, Putrid and Fucking Endless
Origin: London, UK Genre: Technical Death Metal Release date: 28 April 2021 Label: Independent
#9. Acid Mammoth – Caravan
Origin: Athens, Greece Genre: Doom Metal Release date: 5 March 2021 Label: Heavy Psych Sounds Records
#8. Cult of Luna – The Raging River
Origin: Umeå, Sweden Genre: Post Metal Release date: 5 February 2021 Label: Red Creek
#7. Carcass – Torn Arteries
Origin: Liverpool, UK Genre: Death Metal Release date: 17 September 2021 Label: Nuclear Blast
#6. Amenra – De Doorn
Origin: Kortrijk, Belgium Genre: Post Metal, Sludge Release date: 25 June 2021 Label: Relapse Records
#5. Wolves in the Throne Room – Primordial Arcana
Origin: Olympia, Washington, US Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal Release date: 20 August 2021 Label: Relapse Records
#4. Asphyx – Necroceros
Origin: Oldenzaal, Overijssel, Holland Genre: Death Metal Release date: 22 January 2021 Label: Century Media
#3. Malignant Altar – Realms of Exquisite Morbidity
Origin: Houston, Texas, US Genre: Death Metal Release date: 10 December 2021 Label: Dark Descent Records
#2. BIG|BRAVE -VITAL
Origin: Montreal, Québec, Canada Genre: Experimental Release date: 23 April 2021 Label: Southern Lord Records
#1. Panopticon – ...And Again Into The Light
Origin: Ely, Minnesota, US Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal Release date: 15 May 2021 Label: Bindrune Recordings
Hello hoomans. Hope you’re all alive and well. Getting your booster shots and protecting your precious little selves and loved ones.
What’s better than ending yet another beautiful (sic) rotation around our star with a nice, hot, warm, ol’ cup of “Gamma’s-music-treats”?! You know the custom; company management violently obliged me to draft a top 10 of sorts, including my favourite festive cooking/baking recipes for the holidays, be it homemade eggnog, mulled cider and whatnot. In the end, yours truly managed to draft neither a top 10, nor quite the recipe list I was instructed. So, once more, kudos for me – Yay!
So many GREAT choices. Let’s kick this off with some… *ba dum tssssss*honourable mentions:
#10 – The Ocean Collective – Phanerozoic Live : https://theocean.bandcamp.com/album/phanerozoic-live – The world used to be closed from everything, pandemic and all, until the Ocean decided to play for thousands of fans streaming straight into their bedrooms, living rooms, etc., playing the complete Phanerozoic work. I remember getting together with friends via discord to “watch” the gigs. A double record, from two different gigs, with (possibly) the best sound I have heard in a long time. You already know how much I love this band. This list felt empty without them, even without an original release.
#9 Gojira – Fortitude – https://youtu.be/8cS9GVBRdwM – A dynamic comeback from our favourite Gojira. Solid record, nasty riffage, groovy drumming, with a strong lyrical framework. Absolute beauty.
#8 Harakiri for the Sky – Maere – https://artofpropaganda.bandcamp.com/album/maere – If you’re a sucker for the post-black sound, I think you must be familar with HFTS. A great record, blending black metal with post elements. Fav track: Us Against December Skies.
#7 Idles – Crawler – https://idlesband.bandcamp.com/album/crawler – A late release, but one I was grateful for. The Idles are a fantastic representative of the contemporary post-punk movement. It seems that after the rage-filled Ultra Mono, they opted for an origin story with Crawler. Great, great record. I ❤ The Idles.
#6 Hippotraktor – Meridianhttps://hippotraktor.bandcamp.com/album/meridian – It seems that the Belgian scene is getting serious (also check out our personal favourites Psychonaut, Oathbreaker and – of course – the great Amenra). A great journey through Hippotraktor’s debut work.
#5 Converge – Bloodmoon I – https://convergecult.bandcamp.com/album/bloodmoon-i – My most awaited release of 2021 did not disappoint. Converge released their latest record, with a ton of collaborations. Of course Chelsea Wolfe is kindly sharing her haunting vocals with the screeching screams of Jacob Bannon, while Steven Brodsky & Ben Chisholm are also involved. It sounds like a turn towards a post metal approach with Converge, 100% successful and exciting. Nate Newton on bass, Ben Koller on percussion, Kurt Ballou on everything else. A tight production overall.
#4 Cult of Luna – The Raging River EP – https://cultofluna.bandcamp.com/album/the-raging-river – No way you’re getting a top-10 without Mooncult from me. This is their debut release from their own label (Red Creek) with a surprise appearance from Mark Lanegan! You can listen to it from start to finish, with your morning coffee, or dinner, commuting or simply while taking a stroll. It listens so effortlessly. Simply a beauty.
#3 Amenra – De Doorn – https://amenra.bandcamp.com/album/de-doorn – Every release from the Church of Ra leaves me at loss for words. Simply spectacular, it is as heavy as black holes. They chose to distant themselves from the Mass collection, but this release is similar in principle. Amazing atmosphere, great collab with Caro Tanghe (see Oathbreaker). An amazing present for your loved ones.
#1 Bossk – Migration – https://bosskband.bandcamp.com/album/migration – I will just say that by the time that this piece of text gets published, I will have seen Bossk perform twice in a period of 20 days. That is how much I LOVED that record and how much I LOVE that band. My personal favourite of the year, playing on repeat, again and again and again. A fantastic guest appearance by the ENORMOUS Johannes Persson (of Cult of Luna), truly spectacular musicianship by Bossk. Glorious, glorious record.
“This record… Oh dear; this record is the therapy we all needed”
Ritual. If there was a single word that could describe the process of listening through either of Amenra’s works, that would absolutely have to be ritual.
Part I: The ritual starts with healing (Ogentroost – a small plant that is used for its healing properties). The process is slow, heavy and shattering, exactly what makes Amenra so special. We are introduced to the healer (Caro Tanghe) for the first time.
Part II: Death in bloom (Da Dood In Bloei) – The attempt to heal fails and is followed by a lamentful eulogy. Ambient, haunted, eerie. The healer announces the passing of the sick (Colin H. van Eeckhout).
Part III: The companions (De Evenmens) – The fellow man himself, he proceeds to make a post-mortem speech – a farewell of sorts ( Ik neem afscheid, van dit stervend lichaam, dit stervend hart. De dagen zwart ~ I say goodbye to this dying body, this dying heart. The black days). Pain, sorrow, regret, anger. All are expressed as the soul departs the soulless body.
Part IV: The flash (Het gloren) – The soul having well gone away from its mortal connection, takes the long journey towards the dawn. Highly symbolical lyrics. A long monologue of the sick, that is slowly climaxing towards a quarrel, a fight between him and the healer.
Part V: Forever (Voor Immer) – The big fight is followed by a long, slow, final farewell. Full of ambience, melancholy and melodies that are fitting to the atmosphere built in this scenery.
Amenra’s music has always been eclectic and Amenra’s lyrics has always felt like an integral part of the orchestration, it is in a sense like body and soul, creating a whole result.
Impeccable production and sound. Special mention to Tim De Gieter (recording) and Frank Arkright (mastering) for contributing to the ritual.
Super special mention to Oathbreaker’s Caro Tenghe, who with her equally haunting or scorching voice, contributes immensely to the ritual.
This ritual is not a sequel of the standard Mass (I-VI) series, as its mystical symbolism has a different direction than before. Amenra’s 7th long-awaited record is as expected; another masterpiece by the Church of Ra collective.
Amenra are Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove, Colin H. Van Eeckhout, Bjorn J. Lebon, Lennart Bossu, and Tim De Gieter.
these are my favorite releases of 2020! I totally recommend each of the following albums & in case you like any of the following albums, please do not forget to show your love by supporting the artists, especially in that troublesome and gig-less period.
Let’s dive into it!
#10. Ulcerate – Stare Into Death And Be Still
Origin: Auckland, New Zealand Genre: Death metal Release date: 24 April 2020 Label: Debemur Morti Productions
#9. Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Origin: Halifax, United Kingdom Genre: Death-doom, gothic metal Release date: 15 May 2020 Label: Nuclear Blast
Hello humans. Hope you’re all alive and well. Wearing your little masks and protecting yourselves as well as the people around you.
What’s better than ending this beautiful (sic) rotation around our star with a nice, hot, warm, ol’ cup of “Gamma’s-music-treats”?! As is customary, company management kindly obliged me to draft a top 10 of sorts, including my favourite festive cooking/baking recipes for the holidays. In the end, yours truly managed to draft neither a top 10, nor quite the recipe list I was instructed. So kudos for me – Yay!
Bring Me The Horizon : Post Human | Survival Horror – https://www.bmthofficial.com/# – These guys are the most famous band from Sheffield (screw you Arctic Monkeys) and a guilty pleasure of mine. Cool release, somewhat back to their roots.
Zeal & Ardor – Wake of a Nation– https://zealandardor.bandcamp.com/album/wake-of-a-nation-ep – After their previous stellar releases, they released Wake of a Nation as an EP and I immediately got hooked. A much needed fresh point of view to the spectrum of aggressive sound. Check them out if you already haven’t.
Advent Varic – Tumulus – https://adventvaric.bandcamp.com/album/tumulus-2 – Well. This is an EP. About 35 mins long. It is maybe one song. Broken in half. To switch sides. Sounds like Sleep if they grew up in Norway in the early 90s. Truly a masterpiece.
The Ocean Collective – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic / Cenozoic – https://theocean.bandcamp.com/album/phanerozoic-ii-mesozoic-cenozoic – I have been waiting for this moment all year. This was the easiest choice of the list. Perfect release. After about 3 months of non-stop playtime, this is indisputably the record of the year according to the usually infallible opinion of your truly.
A few words about the band first. It has been almost a decade since MNRV was born under the scorching sun of Kalamata, Southern Greece. Their sound is unique: Punk rage, post-hardcore riffage, screeching vox, sincere lyrics.
Their latest work In Public is going to be released towards the last days of 2020 (Dec. 20) and is a self-produced, 8-track record.
It starts with the self-titled song In Public and the identity of the band become apparent instantly. A crafty mixture of hardcore & post, but with a fresh experimental approach and critical words, MNRV are shouting: “at loss for words and thoughts, when faced with do’s and dont’s” and all of us listening are looking for a wall to smash.
While Clandestine is a mathcore masterpiece (a system that favors the few, while keeping the masses starved, global scale class war, atrocities that can’t go on), Κατήφορος (Downhill) sounds like the death ‘n’ roll anthem of the year (we know of price, but not of value). Rigid Mass is pure class, pure hardore punk, with some of the most timely lyrical works around (the serpent’s eggs already hatched and thousands feed on life’s carcass). Modern Love is one of the best pieces of this record – screaming at the modern approach of daily life (so critical to feel connected to be part of the whole). Urban Development needs no analysis. The intro is addicting and those dissonant harmonies shrivel through your brain leaving only the primal urge to dance around like a maniac. Saturday Night Cure is by far the most danceable song of the record, while For My Friends is an excellent outro in fact it’s not because it leaves us wanting more dancing around and kicking teeth with some of the best vocals of the entire record (through self-awareness comes evolution a grand step into disillusion) and some really addicting guitar melodies.
The production is really clean and meticulous, and the band sounds indescribably compact. Special mentions to Kostas Ragiadakos for mixing and mastering.
Overall, the record is a fine specimen of musical craft, and lyrically quite heavy on the socio-political aspect which is a fucking big plus for all of us here at Tzertzelos. Minerva Superduty have this amazing skill to convey their rage using their art as a tool and this work is MNRV saying a big ‘FUCK YOU’ to how wretched today’s society has become.
Favourite tracks: Clandestine, Κατήφορος, Modern Love, Saturday Night Cure.
“Your savior’s soul is consumed by guilt Your faith in him won’t be saving you” – The Ocean Collective
However gloom, it is not an understatement to claim that this year has been shitty so far and that it would require a miraculous change of tides to swift that, even barely, into the spectrum of even “okay”-ness.
And in the midst of it all, a global-pandemic of great proportions that is followed by a global economic recess of epic proportions, going in parallel with a continuous ecological distaster of gargantuan proportions, it is an objectively bad time for artists to share their work, without being able to exhibit at the same time.
Thankfully, the Ocean collective did not care too much about it and released their work Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic, hopefully only a few months before we get lucky enough to see them perform live – winter tour announced a few weeks back. This (slightly) Tool-esque masterpiece (primarily – but also with Gojir-esque and Neurosis-esque influences, often seen as some sort of tribute) is regarded as a natural continuation of their paleontology-based approach after 2018’s Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic, and is their eighth full-length record overall.
More than that, the Ocean continue their religio-socio-political criticism toward the world’s approach to reality (climate crisis). After their Jung-ian-based analysis of the subconscious (Pelagial) and their exploration of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence (PI:P), PII:M|C describes the analogy between the journey facing an extinction event (Triassic-Jurassic) and humankind’s pompous inability to prevent another.
Lyrically, the record is based on the following notion: The apex predator of then (dinosaurs) used to be invincible, until a non-preventable extinction event wipes them off the face of the Earth (asteroid). In an analogous manner, the apex predator of now (humankind) is unable to prevent the next extinction event (climate crisis?), all under the scope of the main theme of PI:P self-similarity and Nietzsche’s eternal return.
There are some small easter-eggs here and there, such as a couple of references to Lars Von Trier’s film Melancholia (Melancholia has arrive, Antares was a lie), where the rogue planet of the same name inevitably collides with the Earth.
Naturally, the walk through the record’s parts, is in exact accordance with the geological epochs that they are named after and not only that, but this accordance is extended into the mood of the whole record: the poetic-filthy heaviness of Jurassic being reshaped into restlessness of Palaeocene, and the peace of Eocene and Oligocene, being transformed into the volcanic riffs of Miocene | Pliocene.
Produced by the guru Jens Bogren, the work done in PII:M|C is impeccable. Robin Staps and David Ramis Ahfeldt’s intertwined lines have evolved tremendously over the last records. Paul Seidel’s drumming is flourishing uncontrollably over amazing odd feels and apocalyptic blastbeats. The record’s numerous faux-orchestral keyboard passages are built with great craftsmanship from Peter Voigtmann, while it feels like Mattias Hagerstrand’s bass lines find more space (to absolutely shine) in comparison with previous releases. Lastly, the vocal performance by Loïc Rosetti is simply outstanding. He is showing immense versatility and class to sing anything that is required of him and delivers faultlessly.
Great guests from our favourites Tomas Liljedahl (BREACH) and Jonas Renkse (KATATONIA) (also in PI:P – 2018) are just complimenting the record ideally. Long-time collaborator Dalai Theofilopoulou once again recorded the amazing cello passages as well.
In case you haven’t picked that up yet, I am a huge fanboy of the band and I find it extremely challenging to be objective listening to a record I personally think is a masterpiece. Certainly a top candidate for the record of the year. Feel free to take everything that is written with a pinch of salt.
And suddenly, in the midst of the global pandemic/quarantine, Old Man Gloom released their record entitled SeminarIX: The Darkness of Being, 6 years after their previous release and the magnificent The Ape of God triplet – and their first release after the tragic loss of Caleb Scofield, back in 2018.
For the band enthusiasts, this should hardly be news, since the band actually prefer to indulge in similar behavior quite often. So we deem ourselves obliged to include a message from the band that complimented this release and gives a nice backstory to it, all of that in the very bottom of the present page.
This record is packed with emotion, apparent through the unusually amount of (magnificent) melody and harmony, given the previous work of the band. Throughout this musical trip, Old Man Gloom takes you to affecting ups and downs, periodically rotating around the concept of loss. Melodies intertwine with heaviness, anger disagrees with melancholy and the band stretch their talents to uncharted waters.
The introduction is written in the usual manner: Heavy, powerful music is complemented with roaring, throat slicing vocals (Hello Aaron Turner). The vibe shifts to “Canto De Santos”. Guitar strumming mixed with ambient noise (experiments that remain an integral part of this band’s art) are built into a full-on heaviness overload.
On the other side, “Death Rhymes” (collaborating with Faith Coloccia of Mamiffer) is the cornerstone around which the record stands and acts like a small time-out before the grand finale. “In Your Name” hits HARD, while the “Love Is Bravery” is drenched in despair and melancholy, a spectrum of emotions rarely observed for neither the band nor the genre in total.
Old Man Gloom made their name around heaviness, aggression and downtuned experimentation, only to squeeze melody into this work. An outcome that to the listener is most welcome. Yet another truly brilliant record from their side, this time a tribute of almost eulogical dimension to a lost friend. Brutally honest.
A berserk-ious dawn evolves into a savoury end, with enough ambience in between.
Favourite tracks: The Bleeding Sun, Death Rhymes, In Your Name, Love is Bravery.
Special shout-out to Aaron Turner for a GORGEOUS artwork and Profound Lore Records.
Message from the band:
“As we’re all locked down, and uncertain about what will shake out of all this bonkers shit, we at Old Man Gloom have decided to reverse Gloom you all. What is a reverse Gloom? Well, it’s pretty simple. Instead of playing a trick on everyone, we’re going to play a trick on ourselves, and unfortunately for Profound Lore, our record label. Here’s what was GOING to happen….We made two records. I know, it’s not a surprise, we usually do. Over the course of recording, we had so many plans with how to release it. There was the -let everyone preorder one record, then send them the other one without notice and release the other in stores only. There was – releasing one, then dropping the other 2 days later without any announcement at all. There was the idea that Aaron and I would make an entirely different record without the other guys knowing and releasing that on the same day to fool our own band. Eventually we settled on doing all the announcements for Seminar VIII: Light of Meaning, and then a week before its release, drop Seminar IX: Darkness of Being without announcement. A sort of PRE Glooming, if you will. It would’ve been a pleasant surprise for everyone in the lead up to the LoM release, and we get our trick. Well, since a few weeks ago when we made this plan, the world has drastically changed. We’re all confined to our cities, towns, and mostly our homes right now. Most of us can’t make a living, all of us in Gloom included, and we’re all just sitting and waiting for the tides to turn. Last week we spoke together and wondered if we could just send “Darkness of Being” out into the world now, to help bring a little light into this situational seclusion. All of us knew one sticking point could be Profound Lore, because our dear friend Chris is running a label, and not everyone exists like Old Man Gloom, most people have a plan and want to succeed on practical terms. We don’t. We just want to make each other laugh. It should have been very unsurprising that Chris was instantaneously IN for this plan. He’s never said NO to us, he’s been nothing but supportive of our bullshit from day one.
So here it is, truly our gift to you, and the whole world. Please enjoy what we’ve had an amazing time making. These records have taken the simple act of being a band and transcended into a bonding and healing process I never thought music or specifically Old Man Gloom could be. Almost every song has elements of our last two years without Caleb, and even the songs that aren’t directly related to him are embedded with the emotion and struggle for closure and healing that we’re all going to be in for a long time. This pandemic we’re all living through is creating so much distance between all of us. This is our way of bringing us all a little closer.
Please share, and listen, and talk, and respond. Tell us you love it, tell us you think it sucks, tell your friends that you like our old shit more, or that you wish it was an Old Man’s Child record. We don’t care, just put yourselves into the world through this.
We also ask that you preorder physical copies, or pay for digital in some way, if you can. Not for us, but for Profound Lore, who are always onboard to go against record label practicality to support our silliness, and whom we want to not lose money because of this baloney we cooked up.
“Time to shake our world, prepare to live” – Steve Brodsky “Final Defeat” – from “Light of Meaning”– Love,Santos, Steve, Aaron and Nate“
Advent Varic is a black/stoner/doom/sludge trio from Boston, Massachusetts. Quite easily, they grew on me, mainly because of their raw, honest sound.
They independently released their EPs Tumulus Part 1:The Beginning and Tumulus Part 2: The Ravaging earlier this month on their bandcamp page and since then I have been listening to them non-stop. They have a very unique approach to black sound, using traditional as well as unconventional means to achieve that. They manage to combine the speed, melancholy and screeching vocals of black metal, with the heaviness and riffage of stoner/sludge. Not quite fast and atechnical to be considered as traditional black metal, while not slow and downtuned enough to be a classical doom/sludge piece, Tumulus is created with creativity to expand the spectrum of slow-ish, heavy music.
It is a mystery whether a full record is on the works, but in spite of that, there is plenty of material and ear bleeding riffage to go crazy about on those 2 EPs.
For those of you who think that the black sound is slowly saturating, lacking an original and fresher approach, I could not suggest Advent Varic enough! I guarantee your jaws are going to drop.
A truly fascinating and brilliant work.
Favourite track: Well there is only 2 tracks in total, so every fucking minute of the approximately 36 of those BOTH OF THEM!
Physical copies are distributed by Interstellar Smoke Records!