The Visit – Through Darkness into Light (2015); The Night Watch – Boundaries, Nathanaël Larochette – Earth and Sky (2016)

TheVisitFront

The VisitThrough Darkness into Light (self-released, 09 October 2015)

 

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The Night WatchBoundaries (self-released, 15 July 2016)

 

NATHANAEL LAROCHETTE cover

Nathanaël LarochetteEarth and Sky (self-released, 29 July 2016)

 

Hey, folks — have you read this review of Canadian neofolk/baroque trio Musk Ox‘s 2014 album Woodfall? If you haven’t, I’d be kind of surprised — after all, in the two years since it was published, that review has become the most popular single item to ever appear on this website (as I alluded to when I named the album as an honorable mention for the Top 14 of 2014 list). In fact, it has had more visitors than the About or Contact pages, and far more than any other article I’ve ever written: twice as many as the second-most popular review ever, and almost three times as many as the most-visited article that I published in 2016.

As incredible as all that is, it’s absolutely true, and I figure it can be ascribed to one of two things: either I’m exceptionally good at writing about non-metal music performed with folk/classical instruments, or Musk Ox is just really, really popular. On the off chance that it would happen to be the first one, I’m going to take some time over the next few days to write about some more neo-folk/neo-classical groups whose orchestrations are decidedly non-metal. But in the event that the second thing also comes into play, I will be hedging my bets a bit today: what I’ll be sharing with you has been released by three different musical entities that each involve one or more of the three people who make up Musk Ox. And away we go …

 

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Auriga – VII Dimensions of Asymmetry; Astral Path – An Oath to the Void (2016)

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AurigaVII – Dimensions of Asymmetry (Avantgarde Music, 19 January 2016)

 

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Astral PathAn Oath to the Void (Avantgarde Music, 15 April 2016)

 

On the way down the street to the bus stop — this is around 5:00 this morning — I realized something. I was hearing birds chirping and singing, and sometimes as I walked past houses, window air conditioners whirring and humming, but otherwise very little background noise whatsoever. It took a few minutes, but finally I came to the conclusion, all of the cicadas must have been sleeping. All those millions of big, ugly, flying things that have gradually emerged from their seventeen-year arboreal naps over the past few weeks to create a deafening cacaphony all over the surrounding area. Over the weekend, when I was stuck spending much of my days outdoors, cutting grass and pulling weeds and various other activities that put me right in the middle of the flight path for hundreds of the clumsy, red-eyed bugs, this nuisance seemed to have reach a terrible crescendo. Sounding like a cross between a gas motor, an alarm bell, and a UFO, the swarm of insects could easily provide a soundtrack for any horror or suspense movie.

Anyway, completely unrelated to anything, today we’re going to spend some time talking about atmospheric black metal. The two different albums I’d like to share with you were both released earlier this year by Avantgarde Music. These bands — one Lebanese, the other Canadian — take slightly different approaches to the genre, but they both generally have a sort of outer space vibe going on. Enjoy!

 

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Musk Ox – Woodfall (2014)

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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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Biipiigwan – Nibaak EP

 

BiipiigwanNibaak EP (Handshake Inc., 27 February 2012)

 
Man, what a horrendously ugly day this has been. As I begin writing this review, I’ve been at work for over seven hours already, and my feet are STILL cold and damp from traipsing through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh during a deluge of Noachian proportions, after getting off the bus this morning.

If they ever published a list of ways to make being at work less miserable, I can guarantee “walk around with wet socks all day” will not be anywhere on that list.

Nevertheless, regular readers of this blog have probably figured out by now — an ugly day calls for some ugly music! (Very observant regular readers may also have noticed that ANY day can benefit from some ugliness, regardless of the weather!)

So to help me along today, I’ve turned to some new friends, whom I discovered two weeks ago when they came to play a show here from their native Ontario. The band is called Biipiigwan (don’t worry, it’s easier to pronounce than it is to spell — and in fact it isn’t really that hard to spell either — drummer Steve Vargas informed me that the double “i” sounds like an “e”, so just say “BEE PEEG wahn“), and their newest release is an EP called Nibaak (again, the “i” sounds like an “e”, so that’s “NEE bawk“).

Now that we got all that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the actual music. I’ve already mentioned that it’s ugly, but that isn’t nearly descriptive enough — this is grimy, sludgey, filthy, and soul-wrenchingly painful stuff. Plus, you can listen to it for free or download it for any price you choose. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

 

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The “Signmeto” Unsigned Band of the Week: Patron Saint of Plagues


 

Hello there, readers!  Hope your day is going well — or at least, as well as a Monday can be expected. Even though I’m at work, I’m not in a terrible mood, which is pretty unusual for me. Maybe because I feel like I actually got some stuff accomplished over the weekend. More likely, I’m just (still) not awake enough to really feel anything yet. Well anyway, I don’t know about you, but I need some music while I work. Today (just like I do every Monday) I’m heading over to the “Sign Me to Roadrunner Records” website to look for something good, and then I’ll share whatever I find with you!

A short while ago, I got a message from a Canadian band called Patron Saint of Plagues, who describe themselves as “a twisted concoction of ominous tones and eerie melodies melded into dark story-tale like songwriting that touches on the very essence of the darkside of humanity and the terrifying thoughts that plague the mind of a psychopath.”

That, coupled with the photos of the quartet (guitarist Dead Boy, bassist Robbie Graves, drummer Bonez, and founder/frontman/vocalist/songwriter/guitarist Opi Saint) looking like a cross between The Spooky Kids and The Misfits on Halloween, definitely let me know that we’re in for a fun ride today.

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