Spring is an exciting, tricky season. As the cold of winter slowly starts to fade and give way to blossoming life once more, everything changes. The sun regains its warmth, the waters start to burble again, branches develop green buds, and in the midst of nature waking, one should feel an increasing pep in their step as well. I find there’s rarely a feeling more fulfilling than the one you get when the fog of winter clears from your mind, and you start to see all sorts of colors again. The initial lure of spring can be dangerous though, and it’s not especially difficult to fall victim to a number of ailments (just as I have at the moment), like the flu, or other more minor infectious diseases. So what to do when you’re feeling too lousy to take advantage of the weather outside, but are lively enough to not sleep your days away? Listen to new, exciting music of course! This is where Galar and Dark Essence Records come along to help us out.
Today, on the 16th of March, Norway’s black/folk metallers Galar will release their long-anticipated third album De Gjenlevende through the aforementioned Dark Essence Records. Links will appear at the bottom end of this post on where you can acquire the new album, but for those who want to give it a spin before getting the real deal on their hands, Sputnik has been granted the privilege to…
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A big part of why I review music here on Sputnik lies in my desire to introduce little known bands to a wider audience every now and again (and to get introduced to other lesser-known bands myself). Saudi-Arabian black/folk metallers Al-Namrood definitely fit into that “little-known” category, and from today up until Friday the 13th, Sputnikmusic has an exclusive chance to stream their upcoming EP, titled Ana Al Tughian, which will see the light of day also on the 13th via Canadian label Shaytan Productions. As can be expected already by reading where they’re from, Al-Namrood sound nothing like the Western metal we’ve become accustomed to. There’s real oriental flare, theatrics, and an alien quirkiness on this short EP that makes it seem like it’s from another world entirely to a Westerner like me. Especially helpful in making it sound so different are new frontman Humbaba’s vocals, which seem downright bizarre at first, but on repeated listenings prove an invaluable part of the Al-Namrood experience. As a whole, Ana Al Tughian sounds almost like a soundtrack to an Arabian festivity in the same way Mechina’s albums sound like soundtracks to space epics: with a lot more guitars incorporated. As a unique listening experience, Al Namrood’s newest EP is surely worth 12 minutes of your time.
Shaytan Productions bandcamp
It was the 5th of December. A rather warm (for December), reticent evening was taking shape in Tallinn – uncharacteristically quiet even. It wasn’t a harbinger of things to come though, not for me at least, as in a few hours, Finnish melancholic metallers Ghost Brigade and their supporting cast would light up the stage over at rockclub Tapper, making sure some highly season-fitting dark music was heard that night. It’s not every day you get to actually meet one of your favorite bands, much less develop a conversation with them for a good thirty minutes. That’s exactly the kind of break I caught though, and what follows is what transpired during our chat. It should be noted that the interview was done at a great little Mexican bar called Ancho in Tallinn’s Old Town, and that everything but the time it took place was more or less improvised. That was the intention all along though, so instead of reading out aloud questions carefully constructed in the safety of home’s walls, what is transcribed here was originally a rather free-flowing, hey-i’d-like-to-learn-more-about-you-guys conversational interview with Wille Naukkarinen (guitars) and Veli-Matti Suihkonen (drums). Ghost Brigade’s new album IV – One With The Storm was released on the 7th of November, and was one of my highlights of the year (while also peaking as the Finnish metal album of the year in their local Inferno magazine, and ending up #4 on Finnish critics’ all-genre end of the year list). Check out the…
Starting from today (November 30), in conjunction with Clawhammer PR, Sputnikmusic has the exclusive chance to host a stream of Vancouver-based Astrakhan’s new EP A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin, set for a 12” vinyl release on December 12 via War on Music Records. It is the band’s third EP, featuring two new tracks and two (“The Pillarist” and “Rest In Depths”) that you can also find on the band’s digitally released 2013 EP The Pillarist. Astrakhan play a hybrid form of sludge/stoner metal with a garage vibe and a progressive edge. You can hear a bit of Baroness in there, a bit of The Sword, and a bit of Kylesa, but you’ll also hear a lot of what makes Astrakhan a force of their own. For a band “born out of years of failure, frustration and stifled creativity,” the band members have sure found their feet in Astrakhan. The way the band melds sludge, garage rock, and spacey stoner vibes together is enviable: Astrakhan have a clear vision of the kind of music they want to create, but unlike a lot of young bands, they also have the chops to make that vision come to life. A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin is a true teaser in that sense: being a mere 20 minutes long, it generates appetite, it commands attention, but before you know it, the album has come to an end. There’s so much promise here, a full-length by these guys could really kick ass and…
Let’s start the new week with an exclusive stream, shall we. English black metallers Fen have been quite the busy bees since bursting onto the scene with their 2007 EP Ancient Sorrow. Since then, counting Carrion Skies, they’ve proceeded to write four fell-length albums in the span of five years. Dustwalker, their 2013 studio offering, finally showed what the band were really capable of and what their EP hinted at – the album presented a thoroughly satisfying mix of black metal, folk and post-rock that didn’t sound derivative in the least. Fen had really come into their own as a group. Luckily they haven’t stopped there and in 2014, with Carrion Skies, they look to carry the momentum further, with the new album featuring towering highs and zero lows. It is just that good, and one of the more unique black metal albums of 2014 to boot. Fen have definitely found a sound in the folk/black metal spectrum that has only one name written on it – their own. Carrion Skies will be released on November 22 in Europe, and on December 2 in North America, but starting from today, Sputnikmusic has a chance to stream Fen’s new opus ahead of its official release.
If you find that the aural description “twilight descending upon empty heathland and the cries of the crows that wheel in the bunching stormclouds” reads like it could translate into some excellent music, then look no further and doubt no longer, since Fen are…
Exclusivity vol. 2. In addition to being able to stream the sophomore effort from Swedish doomsters Anguish this week, Sputnikmusic also has a chance to host an exclusive pre-listening of the new album from Australian prog rockers Opus of a Machine. Another new band on the rise, Opus of a Machine was formed in 2012, and Simulacra is their debut album, slated for release on November 16. Soaring verses, delicate instrumental breaks, catchy choruses and heartfelt ambition is what would best describe the first offering from these guys. An airy, shimmering affair, it’s a debut worth notice – which is also why I strived to bring it to Sputnik’s attention – possessing traits to accumulate some hype on the modern prog scene, with the right amount of promotion. Simulacra will be streaming on Sputnikmusic until the midnight of the 16th. Come on, stop by, give this album a good listen and discover some great new music!
NB! Here’s a good, recent interview with the band’s guitarist Zachary Greensill, which further introduces Opus of a Machine and their approach regarding the creation of music: http://progarchy.com/2014/11/11/opus-of-a-machine-following-progressive-ideologies/
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Opus of a Machine facebook
Gather ’round, gather ’round Sputnik friends and family, for today we assemble to witness Swedish doomsters Anguish climb their mountain. A relatively young band on the scene, Anguish was formed in the autumn of 2007, and Mountain is their second full-length offering, with their debut album Through the Archdemon’s Head gathering plenty of favorable feedback upon its release in 2012. Drawing plenty of parallels with the hallowed Candlemass, Anguish present the listener doom metal in its original, most basic form. If the comparisons to Candlemass still aren’t enough to pull you in, know that the album was produced by Johan Ericson, one of the founders of Draconian and the man behind the Doom: VS moniker, whose 2014 album Earhless is one of the best metal records to come out this year. For him to be interested enough to produce the whole album is a huge compliment to Anguish.
In conjunction with Dark Descent Records, Clawhammer PR and the band itself, Sputnikmusic now has the exclusive chance to stream Mountain in full, ahead of its November 12 release date. Full of monolithic sounds, veteran-level songwriting and just pure ass kicking, slow-burning metal, this is one release you don’t want flying under your radar. Come, climb the mountain along with the band and reap the rewards at the top.
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Clawhammer PR Facebook
Dark Descent Records
Dark Descent Records Facebook
September 6, 2014: “Never” is my favorite track of the year. If anything comes along and dethrones it, I will be more than positively surprised. In a paradoxical manner, I often can’t pinpoint why a certain song or an album resonates with me the way it does. That’s because as a person, I’m more adept at feeling and experiencing than sharing my exact thoughts in a coherent piece of writing. I know what I like, but can’t necessarily explain why every time. In conversing, I’m more often than not a stream of consciousness type of talker – something that I find hard to translate over into writing. I know exactly why I like “Never” though: it speaks to me about as much as it speaks of me, and that is a lot.
“Never” is barefaced as much as it is multifaceted. Structurally, both instrumentally and rapping-wise, it is a relatively straightforward track. Inversely, its message can be interpreted in many ways. To take it in the context of the full album it originates from, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, it’s part of a narrative, part of a story. I like to be self-centered with the track though – I like taking it out of context, pulling it apart from the rest of the record, because while I enjoy &TYSYC very much as a full-length offering, no other song on the album digs as deep as “Never” does when I forget what The Roots might have wanted…
Yesterday (06.07.2014) was the day of the 26th Estonian Song Festival – the biggest national party that’s held here every five years. A little backstory: the tradition of countrywide song festivals in Estonia began in 1869, when 46 male choirs and five orchestras gathered together in the city of Tartu (the first song festival featured only men, mixed choirs featured first in 1891, and all-female choirs in 1896, regularly from 1933). 878 people performed. It laid the foundation for a national awakening and National Song Festivals have been an inseparable part of Estonian culture ever since. They are our main tool for defining ourselves and have always been events entwined with our yearning for independence, while simultaneously emphasizeing our oneness. During Soviet occupation, these song festivals were the most prolific regular patriotic events inside the Soviet Union – happenings that even the governing force majeure couldn’t impale nor stifle by forcing propagandistic themes into the programme. Thus, Estonia’s struggle for freedom under Soviet rule is known under the name “The Singing Revolution”.
Nowadays about 30 000 singers perform to a crowd over three times that size (which is a lot considering Estonia’s whole population is 1.3 million), all united in a positive, patriotic, uplifting circle of celebration. I didn’t go this year (as a spectator of course, thy higher powers have not blessed me with a particularly impressive set of pipes), which I’m more than a little ashamed over. It’s not that I couldn’t go, but…
Roots was one of my top 5 records last year, which made me super excited for Aura ever since the album was announced. Now, thanks to the man behind Saor, Andy Marshall, Sputnikmusic has the chance to host the stream for what is bound to be one of the finest black metal albums of the year, from one of the finest newcomers to the genre. Filled to the brim with authentic Celtic melodies and wonderfully lush primeval soundscapes, Aura is a real treat for those who like their metal atmospheric and epic. You can pre-order Aura from Saor’s bandcamp. The album will officially be released on June 6th, 2014 via Northern Silence Productions.
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Even though I have 100+ reviews on Sputnik, I’m actually a man of few words, at least when it comes to writing. Verbally I can talk on for days and about pretty much anything if in the right setting, but you’ll rarely see me posting a review that’s over 1000 words. Why so, I really don’t know. I guess opening myself up to a screen just isn’t the same. In any case, enough rambling, here’s what you need to know about MiXE1 and their debut album Starlit Skin:
1. MiXE1 was formed in 2010 and they play electronic rock music with a poppy vibe.
2. The band’s name is pronounced Mikes one, and all the songs are “set” in a futuristic city of the same name.
3. As of now, the band is independent, after the closure of their previous label Static Distortion Records in 2013
4. Starlit Skin is a solid debut that will surely see the band craft out a nice little niche for themselves.
5. I’ve learned from Jom that lists of five are always the coolest.
In co-operation with MiXE1’s frontman Mike Evans (super nice bloke by the way), Sputnikmusic now has an exclusive chance to stream the band’s debut album, starting from today (31.05.14) up until the midnight of next Friday (06.06.14). So don’t be shy, give Starlit Skin a whirl, and if you enjoy it, do go and support the artist by purchasing the album (bandcamp link…
With a little more than a month left until Finnish melodic death metal giants Insomnium release their highly anticipated, sixth full-length offering to the world, Sputnikmusic got an exclusive chance to peak behind the covers a bit, as Ville Friman, the band’s guitarist, sat down with me to discuss all things Insomnium. The following interview took place on March 19th and gives insight into the current state of the band, as well as what to expect from their upcoming album Shadows of the Dying Sun. Among other things, Mr. Friman also discussed the current state of the music industry, how nature affects him, and what he himself is excited to hear in 2014.
Good evening! How are you doing on this 19th of March?
I’m doing fine, it has been a busy day at work and I just came back home to do interviews, but it’s going well and it’s very nice to talk with you guys and see that you’re interested in our new album. So, I’m really good.
Has it been very hectic lately in the Insomnium camp? Have you guys been able to take a breather or two before your new stuff is released?
I thought that we would have a bit more spare time in our hands, but it has been quite hectic. When we got out of the studio, we started to mix the album right away, and after that we started with the (album) covers and all kinds…
As a listener, there’s no greater feeling than when an album unexpectedly clicks on all levels. This happened to me about a month ago, when Hanging Garden’s third LP, titled At Every Door, suddenly felt like the greatest thing ever in the early, desolate morning hours. Granted, the album was a success with both me and the public when it came out in the January of last year, but it was only about a month ago that I grew to fully appreciate it and its transcendental qualities. In order to celebrate this personal revelation, I contacted the Finnish melodic doom metallers to learn a little more about all things Hanging Garden. They happily responded to my inquiries and thus this e-mail interview was born. The questions were answered by the band’s vocalist, Toni Toivonen, to whom At Every Door was the first record with Hanging Garden.
Hi! How have things been rolling in the Hanging Garden camp lately?
Hi! Quite well. We are actively composing new material for future releases, and have been doing a handful of gigs to promote our latest 7“ EP. Furthermore we just recently released a new music video for the track “Will You Share this Ending With me?”.
It’s been almost exactly a year since you released your third studio album, titled At Every Door. How has the past year been for Hanging Garden and how happy have you been with the reception of said album?
The reception has been…
From May 11 until May 18, Sputnikmusic has the exclusive chance to stream Enshine’s debut album Origin, which will be released on May 15 via Rain Without End Records.
Enshine is an atmospheric metal project that got its start in 2009 under the hand of Jari Lindholm (guitars, ex-Slumber, Atoma). Soon enough he teamed up with Sebastien Pierre (vocals) of Fractal Gates and Inborn Suffering fame, with Oscar Borgenstam (drums) and Siavosh Bigonah (bass) completing the recording line-up. Origin was over two years in the making and the production of the album was finished in the summer of 2012. After that, the band started searching for a label and finally teamed up with Rain Without End Records in December 2012.
With their debut album, Enshine present the listener a charming atmospheric metal journey full of lovely melodies and brisk ambient soundscapes. The album sounds like a perfect mix between Pierre’s Fractal Gates (melodic death metal) and Lindholm’s ex-band Atoma (atmospheric metal), as an airy and meditative atmosphere collides with tasteful melodic riffs. “A musical exploration of the world within” is the tagline the album is being promoted with, and it couldn’t be more accurate, as Origin is a metal album for the thinking man.
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Enshine’s facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enshine.band
Sputnik’s review of Origin: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/56643/Enshine-Origin/