1. Somnambulist Red – Birth Throes, Shadows and Serpentine Curves
Somnambulist Red is a band from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they have been around for more than a decade. They have released four full-length albums so far and their fifth studio album is all set to come out in 2014.
“Birth Throes, Shadows and Serpentine Curves” runs for a full three minutes and 21 seconds and is full of experimental tones that alternate from progressive rock to post-punk to ambient noise. The production quality reminds me of basement music at its best. This track ranges from early Sonic Youth to what Khanate might have sounded like before they became ‘Khanate’.
Sean Townsend has played with a veritable who’s who of the Fort Wayne metal scene from Typhus, Graves of the Endless Fall, The Lurking Corpses and nearly every other original metal band on that side of the pond. Their albums have been consistently going from strength to strength and the new track holds a lot of promise.
Darran Dearing is the bassist and Jeff Mhaghnius is the drummer. Both have played with different bands in the past, Darran with Fog and The Lurking Corpses and Mhaghinius with Maligned Starfist and Typhus. There is a Stewart Copeland vibe at times on this one and the track reminded me of early Voivod.
This three minute track holds a lot of promise and I hope the rest of the new album will be equally good. The whole album has an improvised feel to it. The riffs are original and the drums hook the listener throughout. This is a band that has been consistently pushing the genres, starting from plain old heavy metal to progressive rock in the middle of their careers. A lot to expect from Somnambulist Red this time around!
You could check out some of their earlier stuff at their bandcamp page. And a stream for their last release has also been provided.
2. Strafk – Phase Shifting EP
The duo Leegheidand Stof of Russia are ‘Strafk’, a black/doom metal band that is as mysterious as their name, Phaseshifting is their debut EP. The EP is being released on 13 May 2014 by Wraith Productions. There are four tracks on this EP or as the band likes to call it “four phases”.
Opening with a melancholy ambient noise is Phase I – “Void (Stare)”, Leegheid ramps up the bass and Stof grinds the guitar along. With this track, it feels like the duo are aiming for a space that induces an ominous feeling in the listener. Leegheid is a multi-instrumentalist and he switches from bass to drums to synths to vocals and Stof eggs him along with the noises. Both the boys have shared the credits for lyrics on this EP and the words were indecipherable on the first few listens what with all the noise and distortion going around.
Phase II is “inner distortion”, and this is a track full of thick layers and the music is atmospheric and the EP took off for me at this stage. The tone for the EP was set from this point on and I was hooked to all the ambient shrieks and the instrument switches. This track has a black-metal feel to it and there are a lot of new riffs that actually makes the experimentation work.
Phase III is “death and decay of your identity” and this track proves that Strafk are not afraid to adhere to the avant-metal clichés. This is an original and imaginative EP and Phase III manages to be comforting and unnerving simultaneously. Stof is given more space on this one and his guitars groove and rumble along to the final track.
Phase IV is “the new embodiment”, this track is not similar to the other three in terms of the format and is quite good. Lots of doomy riffs that don’t feel ripped off and the whole EP has a fresh feel to it. These guys wear a lot of influences on their sleeve but they don’t show it. The phase format reminds me of early Earth and Sunn O))). Khanate and Nadja also seem to have to been an influence in terms of the ambient noise interludes but overall this was a very good trip and I am waiting eagerly for Strafk’s full-length.
Here’s the link to an exclusive song stream playing at Gunshyassassin.com.