Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial EP (2020)

Adopting a more progressive sound, this unstoppable UK-based Alternative Rock unity is more than ready to rock your world with the first half of their third full-length album.

After embellishing the airwaves with their refined fusion of Alternative Rock and Metal with nuances of Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock in their previous efforts, those being their 2015 debut album Of The Night and their 2018 release Motus Octo, Cambridge, UK’s own Bouquet of Dead Crows are back from outer space with the first part of their third full-length album Hemispheres, the six-track EP titled Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial. Adopting a more progressive sound with their trademark riffs with big melodies approach being enhanced to incorporate more layered and nuanced elements, the band currently comprised of Antoinette Cooper on vocals, Neil Bruce on the guitars, newcomer Karen Gadd on bass, and Andrew Coxall on drums and synths is more than ready to rock your world with Celestial, also preparing us all for the second half of their musical journey, Cerebral, scheduled for a late 2020 or maybe even an early 2021 release.

Recorded at the beginning of the year at Parlour Studios, mixed and produced by Neil Haynes, and featuring a stylish artwork by longtime collaborator Stewart Harris, from Stewart Harris Designs, Celestial has an overall theme of mental health, which is a topic all band members are very passionate about. With each song, they’ve written about issues that affect them individually and personally. There’s been a lot of stigma about depression and anxiety over the years, and as the mood slowly shifts, this album captures the zeitgeist of our current unpredictable day-to-day life, the fears we are all experiencing right now. In addition, although written before the pandemic that the world is currently experiencing, a lot of the lyrics do seem strangely prescient and also very relevant, such as the chorus of the title track which says that “it’s not the end of the world this time, it feels like the end of the world every time.”

Atmospheric and eerie from the very first second, the Sci-Fi intro Terraformer will captivate your senses and warm you up for the British Rock extravaganza titled Before The Storm, where Neil and Karen are in absolute sync with their riffs and bass, respectively, providing Antoinette exactly what she needs to shine on vocals while also bringing elements of Jazz to their core alternative essence, flowing smoothly into the gentle and enfolding Caged, where Andrew does a superb job with both his beats and his ethereal synths. In addition, Karen brings the groove to the overall result, also full of nice breaks and variations, whereas Neil begins slashing his strings in great fashion in the fast and thrilling Left to Rot, the most metallic of all songs of the EP with Antoinette adding a touch of finesse to the rumbling sounds blasted by her bandmates with her piercing vocals. Then it’s time to celebrate all giant monsters from the Japanese culture like Godzilla and Gamera in Kaiju Hijinks, another explosion of groove and adrenaline by the quartet presenting elements from Stoner Rock and Jazz to make things more interesting, not to mention the razor-edged riffs by Neil, followed by the title-track for the full album, Hemispheres, an introspective and futuristic song that evolves into a gentle Hard Rock ballad led by Andrew’s rhythmic drums and Neil’s classic riffs, ending the EP on a high note and setting the bar high for the second act Cerebral in the coming months.

Celestial, which is available for a full listen on YouTube (as six very entertaining visualizers) and on Spotify, is definitely a step forward in the career of Bouquet of Dead Crows, and in order to show those rockers your true appreciation don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and of course to grab your copy of the EP from the German Shepherd Records’ BandCamp page, from Music Glue, from Apple Music or from Amazon. After putting your hands on this excellent EP, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack for rockin’ around your house or in your car during such strange times we’re living, while we all wait for Antoinette, Neil & Co. to deliver more of their stylish Rock N’ Roll with the next chapter in their evolutionary career, Cerebral.

Best moments of the album: Left to Rot and Kaiju Hijinks.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Terraformer 1:32
2. Before The Storm 2:34
3. Caged 3:49
4. Left to Rot 3:31
5. Kaiju Hijinks 2:36
6. Hemispheres 5:22

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars
Karen Gadd – bass, backing vocals
Andrew Coxall – drums, synths, programming, backing vocals

Album Review – Tableau Mort / Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion (2019)

A spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection in the form of atmospheric and emotional Black Metal.

Drawing on symbolic and thematic influences from Romanian Orthodox Christianity, Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, the debut album by British Black Metal horde Tableau Mort, is a spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection, which is often a path to madness. Recorded and produced by Jerry Sadowski and George Topor, mixed and mastered by Neil Haynes at Parlour Studios, and featuring a beyond obscure artwork by Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Design), Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion will bring to your ears a truly atmospheric and emotional sound that is both melodic and melancholic, also mixing Orthodox chanting with frenzied screams to expand on the band’s macabre foundations.

Formed in 2017 in London, the band comprised of veteran musicians of the underground scene (all of Romanian origin), those being James Andrews on lead vocals, George Topor on the guitar, keys and backing vocals, Cristian Giurgiu also on the guitar, Marek Basista on bass and George Bratosin on drums and backing vocals, might describe themselves as a Black Metal band, but there are in fact a lot more aspects and layers to their sound, resulting in the modern and powerful music found in Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion. Not only that, the band also invests heavily on their onstage performance and attire, proving those servants of the dark are more than prepared to spread their blasphemous message all over the world no matter who their enemies are.

Darkness is already upon us in the melodic and boisterous opening track Impending Corruption, where atmospheric keys complement the slashing riffs by George Topor and Cristian while James leads the horde with his fiendish gnarls and screeches. After such ominous start it’s time for Fall of Man and its darkly poetic lyrics (“And I find in your face, a most unfamiliar maze / I gaze at the sky as the colour bleeds out of space / In this moment of grief I light myself ablaze”), a Black Metal mass with hints of classic Blackened Doom (which obviously makes it even more menacing) where George Bratosin sounds extremely precise and brutal at the same time on drums. And it seems Tableau Mort want to get darker and darker as the album progresses, just like what we’re able to witness in Carpenter Of Sorrow, with Marek’s low-tune, devilish bass lines building a thunderous base for James to thrive with his unearthly roars; whereas Broken On The Wheel is a sonic mass of Stygian and venomous sounds where George Topor and Cristian are absolutely infernal with their guitars, while George Bratosin alternates between blast beats and doomed, intricate passages for our vulgar delectation.

Leaning towards classic Norwegian Black Metal, the band offers us an explosion of the most aggressive and obscure sounds you can think of in Tapestry Sewn, where James and George Bratosin sound utterly demonic on vocals and drums, respectively, and also bringing the most obscure elements from old school Doom Metal, therefore being prohibited for the lighthearted.  The band’s guitar duo keep crushing their sulfurous strings in Mother’s Promise while Marek and George Bratosin make the earth tremble with their weapons, inspiring us all to bang our heads and raise our horns to this ode to all things evil. Last but not least, a gargantuan amount of heaviness flows from all instruments in Beyond His Gaze, reeking of despair and insanity and showcasing captivating, poetic lyrics (“In Every blade of grass that shoots from the ground / The animals that graze, the parasites that feed / The rays of the sun that penetrate the darkness / The breeze that carries the rain”). Furthermore, the beyond demonic growling by James adds an extra touch of malignancy to this devilish aria, putting a climatic ending to such astounding album.

Tableau Mort’s lecture in Romanian Orthodox Christianity in the form of somber and disturbing Black Metal can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to those UK metallers simply follow them on Facebook and purchase your copy of Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion from Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webstore, as well as from Apple Music, Amazon or Discogs. Tableau Mort are definitely pinning the entire UK on the worldwide map of Black Metal with their music, and based on their skills, passion for heavy music and creativity, they have the potential to become one of the references of the genre in the coming years, leaving their mark already upon humanity with Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, and leaving us eager for more of their cryptic creations.

Best moments of the album: Fall of Man and Tapestry Sewn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. Impending Corruption 4:32
2. Fall of Man 6:17
3. Carpenter Of Sorrow 4:37
4. Broken On The Wheel 4:55
5. Tapestry Sewn 5:02
6. Mother’s Promise 4:41
7. Beyond His Gaze 6:18

Band members
James Andrews – lead vocals
George Topor – guitar, keys, backing vocals
Cristian Giurgiu – guitar
Marek Basista – bass
George Bratosin – drums, backing vocals