Musk Ox – Woodfall (2014)

Album Cover

Musk OxWoodfall (self-released, 17 June 2014)

 

Earlier this week I wrote about the current Agalloch North American tour, which began last night. In that post, I made mention of the fact that when the tour hits Ottawa on the third of July, the band would be joined by an acoustic group called Musk Ox. Led by guitarist Nathanaël Larochette (who contributed some interlude music to the recently-released Agalloch album The Serpent & the Sphere), and also consisting of cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and violinist Evan Runge, this instrumental trio has just released an album of their own, earlier this week.

The second full-length album under the Musk Ox name, Woodfall is the first to feature this particular line-up (the 2007 self-titled release was exclusively a solo project featuring Larochette on all instruments). This new album contains one continuous piece of music (over an hour in length), which was composed by Larochette and Weinroth-Browne. The larger piece is broken into five named sections; three of these (part 1 “Earthrise,” part 2 “Windswept,” and part 4 “Above the Clouds”) run around ten minutes long, while the other two (part 3 “Arcanum” and part 5 “Serenade the Constellations”) each exceed seventeen. On the whole, I find Woodfall fascinating for both its beauty and its simplicity, and I suspect many of you out there will feel the same way.

 

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In Case You Missed It: Stéphan Forté – The Shadows Compendium

Stéphan FortéThe Shadows Compendium (Listenable Records, 28 February 2012)

Ugh, I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday. Last week, with the holiday and me adding on a vacation day, I only actually worked three days… which I think has now totally spoiled me, because I keep feeling like the workweek should be just about over. This sucks. I spent most of the past couple days listening to some ultra-heavy monolithic death metal, which is usually great for settling the nerves and calming me down. Right now it isn’t really doing it for me, though, and I’m afraid the next person that bothers me is going to end up with a pretty nasty punch to the throat unless I find a better way to chill out. Considering the fact that the majority of the time, I deal with the pain-in-the-ass people over the phone or by e-mail, the whole punching thing might be a bit awkward, but believe me, I’d find a way.

So that brings us to the subject of this review, since I was looking for something totally different to listen to. How about some guitar-driven instrumental metal? Probably not something you’d expect me to gravitate towards, especially since I’ve discussed some of my thoughts on the genre previously, and how it can really rub me the wrong way unless it’s done just right. I was a bit skeptical too, at first, especially when I saw this album cover (see above) and noticed how much this guy looks like a French Steve Vai with a bunch of eyeliner. But then I decided, what the hell, I can be open-minded and at least check out a song or two, then move on to something else.

Well, I’m glad I did give this album a chance, because honestly I was pretty impressed by the quality, and — if I can say this without having it sound like a backhanded compliment — I was surprised by the overall lack of pretension and pomposity that one normally expects from solo guitarists (e.g. Yngwie, etc.).
 

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The “Signmeto” Unsigned Band of the Week: Obscurcis Romancia

Well, it’s Monday again, and that can only mean one thing.  It’s time for the “Signmeto” Unsigned Band of the Week!  As you are already aware, this is that thing where I go to the “Sign Me to Roadrunner Records” website and check out the messages that bands have written to me asking for a review of their music.  Then I pick one at random (where “at random” usually means “whoever wrote to me the longest amount of time ago”), I listen to the songs they’ve got posted, then I write about them here so YOU can discover some awesome new music. 

This week we’ve got a nice sample of black metal from the frozen tundra of the far north — except instead of northern Europe like you might be expecting, this is northern North America.  Specifically, we’re looking at a band who come from the French-Canadian province of Québec, who call themselves Obscurcis Romancia.  If you couldn’t decipher it yourself, the band’s name (which seems to be a hybrid of French and Latin, as far as I can tell) translates to something like “Obscured Romance.”  They play a fantastically proficient form of classically-influenced black metal, and they’ve also recently released their second full-length album (details on how to get your hands on a copy, later in this post!)

 

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In Case You Missed It: Erevos – Descensus Ad Inferos

ErevosDescensus Ad Inferos (30 September 2011, Orkestral Promenade Records)

I don’t know what’s in the water in the Greek region of Macedonia. Maybe there’s some kind of magic in the Termaic Gulf or the nearby Haliacmon River or something. Whatever it is, it’s obviously had a strong effect on the musicians of that area, as evidenced by the fact that today I’m going to tell you about not one, but two incredible debut albums, from a pair of bands who both come from the Central Macedonian capital (and second-largest city in Greece), Thessaloniki. The second one, about Hail Spirit Noir‘s Pneuma, can be found over here, but first I’d like to introduce you to Erevos.

 

Erevos (έρεβος in Greek, or translated into English as Erebus) literally means darkness; in the story of Creation, Erebus was one of the primordial Greek deities which originally came forth from Chaos, wherein he was the incarnation of darkness and night. The name also refers to a place of darkness beneath the earth, which some say indicates the eternal home of sinners after death, while others identify it with an area through which the dead pass between earth and Hades.

Erevos is also the name of a symphonic black metal band who have been around since 2004, having released a couple demos and some split releases since that time, in addition to touring all over Greece and other parts of Europe, including Bulgaria and France. In early 2011 they finished recording their debut full-length, Descensus Ad Inferos, and then in September it saw a limited release in their home country through the Orkestral Promenade Records label. The album met with much acclaim from those who were lucky enough to hear it the first time around, so in cooperation with Clawhammer PR, they’re now pushing to spread the word about this excellently composed sonic poetry worldwide. And, well, spreading the word is what I’m here for.

 

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