Band: Giraffes? Giraffes! | Album: Rite of Summer | Genre: Post-rock, Math rock | Bandcamp
Giraffes? Giraffes! is one of my favorite math rock bands, and this EP—consisting of just one 15-minute song—more than lives up to expectations. As is to be expected from this duo, the guitars are nimble, the drumming is deft, and the multi-parted composition keeps you guessing. The sounds range from blazing, finger-twisting licks to mellow psych-folk, and it all works beautifully.
Band: Firelink | Album: Firelink | Genre: Atmospheric black metal, Progressive metal | Bandcamp
I like Firelink’s self-titled sophomore album, but it doesn’t do too much to stand out from similar acts. The songs are well-constructed and well-played proggy black metal with atmospheric leanings, but nothing about it differentiates it from the rest of the rather saturated black metal field. Every now and then, I’m just in the mood for some good ol’ black metal shredding, and this is great for that. Just don’t go into this expecting anything all that distinctive.
Band: Oranssi Pazuzu | Album: Mestarin kynsi | Genre: Post-metal, Progressive metal | Bandcamp
Mestarin kynsi is the fifth full-length release from Finnish psychedelic black metallers Oranssi Pazuzu. This sinister collection of songs is full of scouring, abrasive guitar. It’s also replete with hazy, disorienting atmospheres, as well as adventurous instrumental decisions. This album has a close, anxious mood about it, and the irregular chord and key choices only serve to enhance that aspect.
Band: Rannoch | Album: Reflections Upon Darkness | Genre: Progressive metal, Death metal | Bandcamp
Rannoch’s brand of death metal draws heavily from early ‘90s tech/prog death like Atheist and Cynic while also including many contemporary tropes. The music shifts its focus between complex, technical riffs and more impressionistic walls of distortion. Most of the individual songs are quite strong, but this album is a bit longer than it needs to be, and that does cost it some points.
Band: Sólstafir | Album: Endless Twilight of Codependent Love | Genre: Post-metal, Post-rock | Bandcamp
Sólstafir’s last two albums—Ótta and Berdreyminn—have both been mixed bags. Some songs demonstrate their former blend of black metal and post-rock which they expressed so amazingly on Svartir Sandar. However, they’ve also leaned heavily into the general uninteresting murkiness of post-rock. Endless Twilight is definitely a step up over Berdreyminn. I like that metal makes up a larger portion of this album, and the gentler moments feel more purposeful. This release feels like it will grow on me. Though after a couple listens, it still feels overlong, and some songs (most notably “Alda Syndanna”) simply aren’t landing.
Band: Sweven | Album: The Eternal Resonance | Genre: Progressive metal, Death metal | Bandcamp
The debut album from this Swedish trio is impressively composed. The sound palette is diverse, and the songs’ structures are often surprising. There’s a fine balance struck between crushing brutality with shrieked vocals, melodic death metal accessibility, and gentle folksiness. The production is also quite praiseworthy. Everything is clear and distinct without sounding overly slick or sterile.