updates
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2015-02-28

Greeting loyal readers and general web denizens, for today's update we're taking off into a more spacious ethereal sphere, somewhere in the hazy layer between Terra firma and the vacuum of space, with a brand spanking new effort by Dutch ambient occult artists URFAUST, and SÓLSTAFIR's latest expansive rock epic, Ótta.

Read Lefteris's review of URFAUST's sometimes catchy but mostly eerie Apparitions.



After you've had your fill of sinister, cavernous vibes, you can read my glowing review of Ótta, 2014's best atmospheric hard rock release.



Now a little something to bring you back down to beautiful Earth.

http://youtu.be/3m3qOD-hhrQ

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2015-02-21

For this update, we have two fascinating, atmospheric U.S. projects. One band explores the melodic and percussive potential of the hammered dulcimer in a black metal context, while the other tugs hip hop beats down the darker, more mysterious corridors of ambient and noise music.

I review the latest Botanist record, an album that pushes out the boundaries of metal instrumentation, creating a bright, resonant atmosphere without relying on gimmickry or pleasant guitar hooks.



David Sano reviews 3:33's Bicameral Brain, a double album of dreamy and nightmarish instrumental hip hop that offers violent noise, blissful drifting, occult intonations, strange interludes and bad vibes, sometimes anchored to powerful beats.


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2015-02-03

Welcome to the first official update of the year. Soon we will unveil the results of our 2014 readers' poll, but right now let's dive into our first offerings of 2015. Jackson has continued his arcane exploration of the feminine divine with this review of the latest EP from Iceland's Svartidauđi with a piece of writing that is nearly as atmospheric and esoteric as the music itself.



And now for something completely different: resident cosmonaut David Sano delivers his report on PSUDOKU's latest, "Planetarisk Sudoku." Summary: Still loopy and dense, but not as frenetic or crazed as the spaz-jazz of "Space Grind." Conclusion: Awesome.


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2014-11-29

Today on Avant-garde Metal we have polar opposites of U.S. metal. Taking up magnetic north, we have Kayo Dot's wildly ambitious "Hubardo," their 2013 return to the phantasmagorical metal experimentation that defined their Maudlin of the Well years. On the other side of the musical magnetosphere we have Young And In The Way's vicious, stripped down, blood-encrusted stab of pure blackened crust metal, "When Life Comes to Death."

While the former provides strange and beautiful sounds you've probably never heard before, the latter serves up raw and bruising sounds on the platter of tradition with a smattering of left-field atmospheric moments to throw the inattentive listener off their game. Here at the end of 2014, metal seems to encompass a whole musical world, and one wonders whether or not it even constitutes a genre anymore. Does it actually matter? Probably not. Just listen, and enjoy the sweet sound in your ears.

David Sano reviewed this:




David Alexander-Wassermann reviewed that:


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2014-10-20

For this rather low-key update, we have a review of the new album by the masters of left-field black metal, Blut Aus Nord. "Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry" is a fine return to the more epic, musical and pagan-oriented terrain of the Memoria Vetusta trilogy. Jackson gives his detailed rundown here:



We also have two very interesting self-releases, albums that might not be as polished or perfected as Blut Aus Nord, but demonstrate that the painful process of innovation in metal always begins on the margins of the scene. David Sano reviews the first of the pair, Orbseven's "ismos", a textured, warm and melodic take on space metal.



On the opposite side of the spectrum, Human Services' sometimes painful, often crazed and generally inventive brand apocalyptic sludge lurches forward on "Animal Fires", which I tackle here:



Enjoy with your favorite beverage and snack of choice!

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2014-09-28

At Avant-garde Metal we like to keep it eclectic. On occasion we're fortunate enough to roll the dice and land on a pair of albums from two equally deranged, but very different, bands. In this update we offer something theatrical in the mid-nineties Norwegian art metal vein, and something a bit heavier and completely crazed from the depths of U.S. death metal.

We'll start with Manimalism, the descendant of the long-defunct Taarenes Vaar. The band has released a new album with re-recorded versions of their demo songs from the halcyon days of Norwegian post-black metal. Lefteris describes their crooner-meets-black metal sound in his review, arguing for the band's place alongside the esteemed likes of Ved Buens Ende and Fleurety, right here:



Now for Jackson's review of AEvangelist's latest, most twisted foray into atmospheric horror-oriented death metal, "Writhes in the Murk". This is a band that focuses their considerable energy, precision and dissonance on one task: placing the listener in a unsettled, paranoid and dissociative frame of mind. Talk to a doctor to find out if AEvangelist is the right medication for you, here:


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2014-09-07

As we enter the fall, productivity is up and Avant-garde Metal is on track to meet all non-existent quarterly revenue targets in the 2014 fiscal year. In internal discussions among executive board members (who shall remain nameless) some have expressed a desire to diversify our stock options somewhat and introduce to our portfolio more prog, kraut and electronic music, as well as more contemporary bands that skirt the line between unambiguously weird metal and the noisier frontiers of rock, punk and jazz. This doesn't mean we're going to change course (this company was established to provide consumers with the freshest selection of avant-garde metal after all), it just means you can expect the Beyond section to expand its fall line-up. We must think about the future in these economically fraught times, and strengthen our company profile by adding a more diverse array of strange and unique music options for our customer base.

To this end, we offer you two new reviews. First up is David-Alexander's take on Scotland's epic folk metal band SAOR's latest album, Aura, an engrossing saga that will take you on a journey into the heart of the Celtic world.



Second, we have on hand my review of the latest from Japan's Boris. The aptly named Noise reveals how beautiful distortion and feedback can be when tethered to strong, structured songwriting. This is a fantastic album, and I was lucky enough to see it performed live in its entirety a few weeks ago. If you have a chance, see Boris live. It will make you a true believer.



-James Slone

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2014-08-18

Well, it appears that Avant-garde Metal had an impromptu summer break as most staff writers went on vacation or were distracted by the vicissitudes of life. Summer has a way of throwing a monkey wrench in our best designs with warm, distracting weather, and depending on what country we live in, generous vacation time. But just so you know, we haven't gone anywhere and we plan on maintaining a regular schedule for the rest of the year, making updates as fast as we can generate new content.

One writer didn't slack off and managed to review the magnificent new Blut Aus Nord/P.H.O.B.O.S. split, showcasing the French mindfuck black metal masters and their doom industrial compatriots. The reliable Jackson, staying true to his beat, delivered a detailed dossier on this great, if slightly unbalanced, split. Read how Blut Aus Nord used the split to reach new unnerving heights and how P.H.O.B.O.S. ultimately stacked up here:



In other news, the late great Norwegian psychedelic doom rockers In the Woods... have returned to the Isle of Man. Though no new material has been recorded, the band's return is cause for excitement--in the late 1990s they defined what atmospheric metal should sound like, and if whatever they come up with contains even a fraction of the mysterious and wonderful mood of Omnio, I will be ecstatic.

Another band back from the unquiet grave is Empyrium, Germany's grandiose ex-doom, ex-folk band of latter day troubadours. Once again they have pushed in a new direction, abandoning the gloomy pastoral folk of the last few albums for a bold orchestral sound with trace elements of Arvo Part, Philip Glass, Dead Can Dance and the theatrical sturm und drang that is 100 percent Empyrium. They cut an EP back in 2013, and have now released a full-length called "Turn of the Tides" I highly recommend. Check out a song here.

-James Slone

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2014-05-30

As we approach summer in the northern hemisphere, we're tempted to shed layers, take long sunny strolls around town, celebrate longer days with crisp beer and friends late into the evening, and swim, sport and hike our way back to photogenic levels of fitness. But as this week's pair of reviews make clear, this is folly. For on the horizon dark clouds hang low, and aeons-buried eldritch horrors shall be exposed once more.

First up, a cold Antarctic wind bellows forth on the second album of France's The Great Old Ones, "Tekeli-li". David Sano journeys to the mountains of madness to reveal cyclopean ruins of an alien civilization and manages to scrawl his surprisingly cogent findings here in the form of a review. The Great Old Ones is a personal favorite of mine, and I'm glad to see they're keeping their creepy ambient black metal sound majestically bleak.



Speaking of bleak, Satyricon's 2013 self-titled album reintroduced the stolid gray guitars and grim, impassive vocals from an earlier time, bringing a simple grandeur back to a band that had become perhaps a bit to comfortable with heavy rockers. Lefteris breaks it down for us--both the peaks and valleys--and reminds us that despite a warming planet, the cold glacial months will assuredly return and put summertime pleasures to rest.


In other news:

Avant-garde metal veteran Thanasis Lightbridge (of Dol Ammad and Dol Theeta fame) has released the first album under the banner of his new project, Dol Kruug. Fans of wild and crazily tight electro-death are invited to check it out, along with its appropriately hyperactive accompanying videos here.

Experimental metal legends Godflesh are back after a long hiatus (a break that included the entire Jesu discography up to this point) with a new EP called "Decline and Fall" released last week, and a full-length due in September. Justin Broadrick hasn't taken Godflesh in any radical new directions, but you can't really argue with the pulverizing riffs available here.

Devin Townsend has a new project called Casualties of Cool. A uniquely haunting variety of ambient Americana, this has little to do with metal and a lot to do with atmosphere. Settle in by the fire with a hand-knit quilt and check out a song.

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2014-05-05

This week's update brings a fresh pair of darkly experimental metal reviews by the prolific David Sano. One explores the shadowy recesses of the psyche and the other the bleakest expanses of space, and both push the limits of their respective genres: black metal and technical death metal.

First up is "Teethed Glory and Injury," the 2013 swansong of Ireland's cryptic black metal consort Altar of Plagues. David explores the album's harsh soundscapes and inner meanings, and defends the need to push boundaries even at the cost of alienating traditional black metal fans. Evolution demands it.



This week's second review gives the musical and lyrical rundown on Artificial Brain's technical, half-crazed and kind of incredible science fiction death metal epic "Labyrinth Constellation." David holds our hands and takes us on an interstellar journey. Get spaced.


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