Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral EP (2021)

The second half of Hemispheres is finally among us, showcasing a more Post-Rock side of one of the most interesting names of the current British scene.

When two become one. That’s the story behind the EP’s Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial, released last year, and Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral, recently brought into being, which together form a single entity named Hemispheres by Cambridge, UK-based Sci-Fi Alternative Rock and Metal act Bouquet of Dead Crows. Originally written as one album but released in two parts mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hemispheres combines big riffs with big melodies and shifting time signatures, with Celestial showcasing a more punkish and upbeats vibe, while Cerebral leans towards Post-Rock. Recorded at the Parlour Studios, produced by Neil Haynes and displaying a classy artwork by Stewart Harris from Stewart Harris Designs, just like the 2020 EP, Cerebral continues to showcase all the talent and attention to detail by vocalist Antoinette Cooper, guitarist Neil Bruce, bassist Karen Gadd and drummer Andrew Coxall, putting a dark and very melodic ending to Hemispheres that will please all fans of our good old rock music.

Neil begins extracting serene notes from his guitar accompanied by the steady beats by Andrew in Idle Thoughts before Antoinette delivers her trademark, smooth vocals for our total delight in a great display of Post-Rock with progressive elements; then putting the pedal to the metal the band fires the dancing and heavy tune Standing at the Precipice, bringing forward their Alternative Metal vein with Neil and Karen being on fire with their respective riffs and bass lines, not to mention how visceral the drums by Andrew sound. In One More Sunrise the band gets back to a more gentle and enfolding sonority, presenting a charming atmosphere crafted by all four band members spearheaded by the stunning vocals by Antoinette, followed by The Longest Road, a fantastic ballad where they invest in a more melancholic sound by blending their core Alternative Rock with Post-Rock nuances, and with Neil doing a beautiful job on the guitar as usual. Lastly, get ready for over nine minutes of classy Rock N’ Roll in the form of Somewhere in the Static, where Antoinette sounds majestic supported by the strident guitars by Neil and the rumbling kitchen by Karen and Andrew, flowing smoothly and flawlessly until the very last second.

The second part of Hemispheres can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you want to add Cerebral (and Celestial) to your collection of rock albums you can purchase it from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, or simply grab the full Hemispheres album by clicking HERE or HERE. In addition, don’t forget to give Antoinette, Neil, Karen and Andrew a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their stylish music. Now that Celestial and Cerebral are finally united and Hemispheres has reached its final shape and form, I’m eager to know what’s next in the career of one of the most interesting names of the current British rock scene, and based on what they have already offered us with their latest releases I’m sure their next endeavor will be just as awesome.

Best moments of the album: Standing at the Precipice and Somewhere in the Static.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Idle Thoughts 4:20
2. Standing at the Precipice 2:29
3. One More Sunrise 4:17
4. The Longest Road 5:36
5. Somewhere in the Static 9:48

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

Album Review – Dynfari / Myrkurs er Þörf (2020)

The brand new album by an amazing Icelandic Atmospheric Black Metal unity sounds as beautiful and inspiring as it is quietly somber and menacing, and as illuminating as it is sorrowful.

Since the band’s formation as a duo in 2010 in the city of Reykjavík, Iceland, the Atmospheric Black Metal unity known as Dynfari has been making a name for themselves not only in Icelandic lands, but anywhere else in the world where Black Metal influenced, heavily atmospheric music is appreciated. Currently comprised of Jóhann Örn on vocals, bass, accordion, synths and guitars, Jón Emil on percussion and guitars, and Martin Tsenov and Bragi Knutsson also on the guitars, Dynfari deal with the philosophy of life, death, the universe, loss, hope and sorrow, having explored more progressive soundscapes in their blend of Post-Rock and Black Metal in the most recent works, while returning to a more atmospheric and direct attitude now in 2020 with their fifth full-length opus, titled Myrkurs er Þörf, or something like “darkness in needed” in English. Featuring a cryptic artwork by Metaztasis (Watain, Behemoth), the album is a chameleonic, labyrinthine mix of subgenres of rock and metal, sounding thickly atmospheric, as beautiful and inspiring as it is quietly somber and menacing, and as illuminating as it is sorrowful, flowing towards a darker, heavier side of the musical spectrum, expressing a violent refusal of merely becoming a means to an end.

The opening track Dauðans Dimmu Dagar (“the dark days of death”) starts in an ominous and ethereal way to minimalist guitar notes, being gradually accompanied by the percussion and beast by Jón until a dense wall of instrumental Atmospheric Black Metal fills out every single space in the air, morphing into the enfolding Langar Nætur (Í Botnlausum Spíralstiga), or “long nights (in bottomless spiral staircase)”, a flawless depiction of modern-day Icelandic Black Metal with Jóhann delivering anguished vocal lines while Martin and Bragi slash their seven-stringed weapons majestically. And the title-track Myrkurs Er Þörf keeps embracing our souls and taking us to chilling and despondent Icelandic lands showcasing another amazing guitar job done by the quartet, while Jóhann’s vocals sound like they’re coming from a place far, far away, whereas Ég Fálma Gegnum Tómið, or “I fade through the void”, exhales melancholy and hopelessness, with the Doom Metal-inspired beats by Jón walking hand in hand with the strident riffs by Martin and Bragi, keeping the album as dark and grim as possible.

The serene instrumental interlude titled Svefnlag (“sleeping layer”) brings some peace to our blackened hearts, setting the tone for the ode to despair and obscurity named Ég Tortímdi Sjálfum Mér (“I destroyed myself”), where Jóhann blasts his most introspective roars of the entire album while the song’s imposing background keys support the piercing riffage delivered by the quartet. Then what at first seems to be another calm and bitterly cold creation by Dynfari turns into a 10-minute majestic feast of heavy-as-hell, hypnotizing sounds titled Peripheral Dreams, a lecture in contemporary Black Metal led by the crushing beats by Jón intertwined with grandiose keyboards and doomed passages, also presenting elements from Folk Metal and Blackened Doom, running wild and free until its climatic grand finale. Lastly, the wicked bass lines by Jóhann ignite the closing tune Of Suicide and Redemption, an Atmospheric Black Metal aria that lives up to the legacy of the genre, bringing forward their trademark blast beats and symphonic keys and, therefore, ending the album on a truly inspiring note.

After all is said and done, I’m more than certain you’ll be mesmerized by the atmospheric and absolutely stunning music by Dynfari, and in order to show the band your support and appreciation don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, and of course to purchase a copy of Myrkurs er Þörf from their own BandCamp page, from the Aural Music webstore in CD, silver LP, or splatter LP format, and from other locations such as Amazon and mvdshop.com. An introspection on thoughts of suicide and self-destruction, Myrkurs er Þörf is another beautiful product form the always prolific and dynamic Icelandic metal scene, showing us all that not only Icelandic Black Metal continues to be on a healthy and inspiring rise, but also that we can count on the talented guys from Dynfari to keep embellishing the airwaves with their creations until darkness finally consumes us all.

Best moments of the album: Langar Nætur (Í Botnlausum Spíralstiga), Myrkurs Er Þörf and Peripheral Dreams.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Code666

Track listing
1. Dauðans Dimmu Dagar 5:23
2. Langar Nætur (Í Botnlausum Spíralstiga) 6:37
3. Myrkurs Er Þörf 4:52
4. Ég Fálma Gegnum Tómið 4:39
5. Svefnlag 2:57
6. Ég Tortímdi Sjálfum Mér 5:10
7. Peripheral Dreams 10:35
8. Of Suicide and Redemption 6:37

Band members
Jóhann Örn – vocals, bass, accordion, synths, guitars
Jón Emil – percussion, guitars
Martin Tsenov – guitars
Bragi Knutsson – guitars

Album Review – Stabbed / Long Way Down (2017)

A beautiful step further in the promising career of a Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal act that presents to the listener a slightly different sounding, showcasing a mad balance of Progressive and Groove Metal.

Following the release of their ambitious 2016 EP Submerge, Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal act Stabbed returns now in 2017 with their first full-length installment, entitled Long Way Down, a beautiful step further in their promising career that presents to the listener a slightly different band, tipping the balance in favor of dominating, heavy grooves, overwhelming raw energy over dark ambience and Post-Rock elements, also showcasing a mad balance of Progressive and Groove Metal.

In addition, Long Way Down is not only the debut of bassist Marcell Demeter with Stabbed, replacing Dávid Roskó (who left the band by the end of 2016), but it also features a welcome surprise in the album closer performed by guest vocalist Tadeusz Rieckmann, primarily known as the drummer of Týr and Dalriada, and the artwork by longtime collaborator Zénó Farkas (Artphetamin), who returned for this album to represent the band visually and artistically. Throughout the album’s eight tracks, this Budapest-based group aimed at materializing through their cryptic lyrics and sharp sounds a portrait of a world full of angst ridden people running in circles, blinded by their fears and apathy, bringing a stronger taste to their musicality.

A modern intro grows into electrifying contemporary Sludge Metal with elements from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal in the title-track Long Way Down, opening the album on a higher-than-usual note. Furthermore,  frontman Alex Karamuskó sounds bestial with his demented screams, while the guitar duo Attila Kecskés and Gergely Kovács are simply lancinating with their riffs, not to mention the amazing European melody supporting the song in the background. In the vicious Becoming, the whole band is in their most aggressive mode, sounding like an enraged hybrid of Sepultura from the Roots-era with Caliban, with Márk Potkovácz with his potent beats together with newcomer Marcell and his rumbling bass enhancing the song’s ravenousness considerably. Whereas in Tides a somber beginning led by Márk is gradually accompanied by both guitars and bass, before Alex comes with his blend of demonic growling and obscure clean vocals. In other words, this great display of their vibrant Post-Sludge Metal couldn’t sound more modern, metallic and consequently perfect for their live performances.

The following tune, titled Nyctalopia, brings forward more violent sounds with a precise harmonious base, becoming one of the band’s most progressive creations to date with all its breaks and variations, as well as its acid and darkling lyrics (“Descending from the coruscating lights / Into intangible doom / Chimerical phantoms tearing away / The spark from my weakened soul / Complacent proprietor in the house of lies / Leading my rendition to a Blind idiot God”). Then we have Lataris, which just like all of their songs is very cohesive and energetic, showcasing fierce riffs by both Attila and Gergely while Alex keeps hitting us with both his smooth, clean lines and his sick gnarls; and Mute, a song that clearly draws influences from bands like Pantera and Lamb of God in an aggressive mix of Sludge and Groove Metal, with Alex and Márk leading the musicality with their screams and beats respectively, sounding dark and gripping from start to finish.

In Devoid,  Stabbed slow down a little after all their usual display of anger, providing the listener a more melodic and alternative sonority where a solid instrumental with some spot-on guitar solos keeps the momentum going for the band, despite not being one of their best creations. And finally, featuring guest singer Tadeusz Rieckmann, Vessel displays an epic vibe in its intro, morphing into an obscure Post-Sludge Metal anthem with a Groove Metal twist,menacing guitars and bass, and poetic lyrics (“You have to spit to see the shine / Wallow in mud / Look all your demons in the eye / Killing your mind / We have not built this ship to wreck / On promised lands / Take nothing, fuck the test / All that you’ve bled”), as well as the raging guttural by Alex, flowing into an abrupt but climatic ending.

In order to follow Stabbed on their upward journey to success in heavy music with Long Way Down, simply visit their Facebook page for new and tour dates and their YouTube channel for more of their groovy and mordant music. And if you want to buy Long Way Down (which is available for a full listen on Spotify), you can get it at Stabbed’s BandCamp page or on Amazon. After Long Way Down it’s hard to imagine the world of Post-Sludge Metal without Stabbed, a band that has been building a solid reputation since their genesis and that’s becoming a synonym of modern metal music not only in their homeland, but anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Long Way Down, Tides and Vessel.

Worst moments of the album: Devoid.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing 
1. Long Way Down 3:52
2. Becoming 4:47
3. Tides 4:24
4. Nyctalopia 3:10
5. Lataris 4:33
6. Mute 5:32
7. Devoid 4:10
8. Vessel (feat. Tadeusz Rieckmann) 5:07

Amazon bonus tracks
9. Long Way Down (Instrumental) 3:52
10. Lataris (Instrumental) 4:33

Band members
Alex Karamuskó – vocals
Attila Kecskés – guitar
Gergely Kovács – guitar
Marcell Demeter – bass
Márk Potkovácz – drums

Guest musician
Tadeusz Rieckmann – additional vocals on “Vessel”