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…
Is there any musician out there that would have a better C.V. than little known singer-songwriter Sasha Siem? I doubt it. The British-Norwegian chanteuse has studied music and poetry at both England’s Cambridge University and America’s Harvard University. She has written and composed music for the London Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras, as well as various opera companies. This was all by her early 20s!
Of course, there was no chance that someone so prodigiously talented could stagnate for too long, so Siem recorded her debut EP ‘So Polite’ in 2013. Sensing she may have a career with this unique style of classical indie-pop, the now 30 year old has followed it up with her recently released debut LP ‘Most of the Boys’. Taking cues from a wide variety of sources, Siem reminds of Joanna Newsom, Fiona Apple, Bjork, Regina Spektor, PJ Harvey and Tori Amos. Yet she is undoubtedly her own artist.
Contrary to what one might expect from such a virtuoso, ‘Most of the Boys’ is far from the elongated recording that you might think it would be. With its total running time clocking in at under 32 minutes (only one track surpasses 3.15), its 11 tracks are bite size without too significantly sacrificing compositional integrity. There’s some satisfying diversity too… As can be seen by the following three videos: the quirky ‘So Polite’;
the more methodically paced ‘My Friend’;
and finally the little bit of everything that is ‘See Through’:
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.
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!
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.
Welcome to our Q3 Mixtape this year, where we further illuminate some of our favorite songs released between July – September. Featuring tracks from Amplifier, Banks, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Dog Fashion Disco, Dopplereffekt, Kimbra, Lenny Kravitz, Mr. Kitty, Oado, Seven That Spells, Shabazz Palaces, Skrew, Yuna, and more than what’s listed in the aforementioned baker’s dozen, we’re hopeful that you’ll find something worth investigating further here.
This also means that this is our last mixtape of the year, as we’ll prepare for our annual Year-End feature. Whether you’re a staffer, contributor, longtime shit-poster, or a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomer, everybody has an opportunity to get involved in what amounts to be a fun year-end event for us. More details to come later, but as is also tradition, I’ll have some prize packages. To see what the winners got last year, you can check out the announcement here and see the actual prizes here.
What would you like to see for prizes this year? What albums are you excited about in Q4 that might crack your Top 10, 25, 50, or 100 [or greater]? Please feel free to let us know in the comments.
I hope you’re all enjoying the NFL season (unless you’re a Jacksonville fan, I guess?) and as we head towards the majesty that is the Fall Classic.
(We also use GoPros during our indoor office wiffleball…
Featuring music from Veni Domine, Fatima, tUnE-yArDs, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Fucked Up, and Plastikman, we are once again hopeful that there’s something for everybody here in our 28 selections.
In the meantime, keep on enjoying the World Cup festivities, as well.
(If they’re super lazy, Google could recycle this for March Madness when shit really gets crazy at the office.)
(Oooooooooookay, maybe not that crazy.)
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.
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…
As the champion of Malaysian Flight Simulator, I have a keen understanding of how music can fall off my proverbial radar undetected.
To protect you from having the same fate, we’ve collaborated on delivering to you some first-quarter artist and album highlights from our personal highlight reels. From the avant-garde and the macabre to the uptempo, D&B, and “dad rock” genres, we’re confident that you’ll find something in our 27-song playlist that’s worth checking out here.
Featuring tracks by Tokyo Police Club, Nebelung, Calibre, Kamchatka, and Animals as Leaders, we hope our diversified showcase underscores that 2014 is off to a splendid start.
I don’t think this is intentional on my part, but I have such a Euro-Austral-’Murica tilt in my listening habits that there’s a distinct lack of Asian artists per my RYM listening map (while I haven’t updated this in awhile, it’s probably damning that my only listed bands are Boris, The Black Mages, Orphaned Land, and Koji Kondo, who composes soundtracks for The Legend of Zelda…
I bit the bullet and started cleaning my office today. I love being organized, but I hate cleaning. Do I really need to save notebooks and folders from undergrad courses that I’ll never crack open again? Even my graduate studies binder isn’t really connected to what I do today.
I'd show you the pages, but they're kinda sticky…
It was my good buddy’s birthday today, and although he’s in a different province now, we still have a chat every now and then about music past and present. He reminded me of one of our conversations last year, where we were debating about whether or not we were going to go to our 10-year reunion, which quickly segued into talking about the gigs we went to in high school. In 2003, our favorite gig was the immense Summer Sanitarium tour, which was a nu metal delight: Metallica, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Deftones, and Mudvayne.
It’s funny in a way, because Summer Sanitarium 2003 (~$46,000,000) outsold Ozzfest (~$23,000,000) and Lollapalooza (~$14,000,000) combined. Granted, Summer Sanitarium was the only stadium-driven tour that summer (save for Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, who had a small run).
As our conversation progressed, we talked about bands that have aged well from that list (he is an avid Deftones fan) and bands that have fallen off our individual radars a bit (he didn’t believe me that Alien Ant Farm are releasing a new album this…
Austin-based Destroyer Of Light have just released their second EP, Bizarre Tales Vol. 2. While their lyrics still revolve around the ghastly horror stories, the quartet do a fine job of not repeating themselves musically. In contrast to their debut EP, which can be labelled as Black Sabbath-echoing traditional doom metal, the new release delves headfirst into a melodic sludge metal realm of Mastodon’s ilk. Instrumental opener ‘Battlefield Girth’ sounds monolithic due to its wondrous interplay of crushingly heavy riffs and hypnotic soloing, while the gloriously titled ‘Forbidden Zombi Ritual’ may be the band’s most accessible tune with infectious melodicism permeating both vocal harmonies and bewitching guitar leads. The remaining tracks see the band placing a greater focus on song progression while retaining a penchant for memorable riffs. Frontman Steve Colca augments the shift in style with howling vocals which sound more assured than before. In fact, Destroyer Of Light are growing rapidly as both songwriters and musicians, and Bizarre Tales Vol. 2 proves how versatile and expansive they can be. May the power of the riff compel you!
Here’s what singer/guitarist Steve Colca had to say about each number:
‘Battlefield Girth’ – It was one of the first Destroyer Of Light songs that we ever wrote, and decided to put it on this EP. We figured the song didn’t require vocals; so, we went with a heavy instrumental to start the album off.
It’s Sputnik Music’s honor to provide the exclusive stream for the self-titled album of Portland-based progressive pop rock band Icarus the Owl. The album is set for release on Friday, February 7th in the U.S.
Icarus the Owl is the result of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, whose net effect yielded the band the production mettle of the acclaimed Kris Crummett (A Lot Like Birds’ No Place, Closure in Moscow’s First Temple, all of Dance Gavin Dance’s earlier records and many more.) This change is a subtle one, as Crummett works within the reach of what’s familiar to Icarus the Owl- but his contributions to the group’s sound work wonders.
In terms of the music, this is the most cohesive and memorable Icarus the Owl have ever sounded. Songs like “Flint and Steel” are sure to entice newcomers, while deeper cuts like “Input. Time. Destruct.” will make long-term fans out of them. Those that found joy in the group’s 2012 release Love Always, Leviathan are sure to see the same kindling flame in Icarus the Owl- the experience just feels more intuitive this around.
Icarus the Owl can be bought at any major digital music retailer once it drops next Friday.