Jonathan Hill Dot EU

A Soapbox for Uninformed Opinions

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Darkspace Darkspace III I Review

General Information:

Artist: Darkspace
Album: Darkspace III I
Genre(s): Ambient, Heavy Metal
Subgenres(s): Black Metal, Dark Ambient
Released: 2014
Length: 64 minutes
Language(s): N/A
Label(s): Avantgarde Music

Track List:

01. Dark 4.18
02. Dark 4.19
03. Dark 4.20

Dark Space Dark Space III I Cover

Dark Space Dark Space III I Cover

Darkspace Darkspace III I Review

Darkspace III I is the fourth album by Swiss black metallers Darkspace. Aside from every album having similar cover art work and following the same numerical sequence for song titles, they also repeat the same challenging run time with overly long songs blended together by using dark ambient segments. On the surface this description makes Darkspace sound as though they’re following the same rigid pattern as their older output, which begs the question of what’s new?

Perhaps the most obvious change is in the recording quality because while Darkspace still insist on overloading the listener on high-density distortion, it doesn’t bare the same intensity of their earlier output and with Dark 4.19, their sound is refined to a significantly more accessible style that relies on simple and repetitive guitar riffs between the prevalent buzz-saw guitar and muffled blasting drum sections that can often go on for minutes at a time, which Dark 4.18 will acquaint you with soon enough.

All three band members are credited for vocal duties but this is by far the most irrelevant part of the album because not only are they so sparsely arranged throughout these monstrously long songs, they are also completely unintelligible and buried under a mountain of distortion so it’s impossible to make anything of them. The only exception to this is the use of a small sample from the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact on Dark 4.20

It’s also worth noting that this album is effectively a singular song broken down into three parts which are then stitched back together through the use of dark ambiance. In spite of the ambition and overall length of Darkspace III I, it would be a far cry to call this progressive metal due to the sheer repetition (if nothing else) and if it was to be cut down then you could easily have an album at half the length and twice the replay value.

In short it’s best to say that this is business as usual for Darkspace. Existing fans will probably be delighted by it and for everyone else it’s going to be a question of being able to put time aside to listen to it uninterrupted.

Performers:

Zorgh: Bass, vocals
Zhaaral: Guitar, vocals
Worth: Guitar, vocals

External Links:

Darkspace Homepage
Darkspace on Wikipedia
Darkspace III I on Wikipedia

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Ulver Metamorphosis Review

General Information:

Artist: Ulver
Album: Metamorphosis
Genre(s): Ambient, Electronic, Trip Hop
Subgenres(s): Dark Ambient, Trance
Released: 1999
Length: 25 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Jester Records

Track List:

01. Of Wolves and Vibrancy
02. Gnosis
03. Limbo Central (Theme from Perdition City)
04. Of Wolves and Withdrawal

Ulver Metamorphosis Cover

Ulver Metamorphosis Cover

Ulver Metamorphosis Review

Metamorphosis is the first EP by Ulver. Following the release of the diverse “Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” double album a year earlier, Metamorphosis acts as both a stepping stone in the bands musical legacy and as a statement to their fans – more specifically the fans of their metal albums who didn’t like Ulver’s change in direction. Before you get to the music you can find a message in the CD case stating that “Ulver is obviously not a black metal band and does not wish to be stigmatized as such…” to try and cut ties with the heavy metal community as it becomes quite evident that they no longer want to play metal or be associated with the scene any longer since the Themes album apparently didn’t send a clear enough message.

In the event that the written message got overlooked Ulver went out of their way to shake off any lingering detractors and made it as clear as possible by writing an all-out trance song called Of Wolves and Vibrancy to start the EP. After starting with some moody ambience the song proves to live up to its name when it kicks into life and since it is the only trance song in their catalogue, it gives the distinct impression of being a statement to further separate them from the heavy metal scene.

Another twist comes with the second song, Gnosis, which combines dark ambient with trip hop and features lyrics from Bad Blood, a poem by the French author Rimbaud. For Ulver’s take on the poem it is sung entirely in English by Kristoffer Rygg who worked under the pseudonym Trickster G. on this EP. It is the only song to contain any vocals and Limbo Central (Theme from Perdition City) is another trip hop song with a more abrasive and experimental edge. As implied by the songs subtitle, this is the genre that would be embraced on their next album, Perdition City.

Of Wolves and Vibrancy is an up tempo song, as implied by the name, so it follows on that Of Wolves and Withdrawal would be subdued in comparison. This proves to be true as Ulver crafted a 9 minute dark ambient song that is nearly impossible to hear unless you turn your speakers all the way up. You half expect a sudden dramatic shift in sound that will deafen you because of this as well as the eerie nature of the song, which doesn’t do you any favours in this respect. The song ebbs along slowly and proves to be a convincing effort but the decision to make the recording so quiet for one song is still questionable.

There aren’t any stepping stones between Ulver’s black metal/folk era and their Themes album so in this instance the Metamorphosis EP gives the listener an opportunity to look at their transformation and embracement of electronically produced music. If nothing else this EP, which spans 3 distinct genres, proves that Ulver are more like chameleons than their namesake (wolves in Norwegian) at this point in their career.

Performers:

Trickster G: Various instruments
Tore Ylwizaker: Various instruments
Havard Jorgensen: Various instruments

External Links:

Ulver Homepage
Ulver on Wikipedia
Metamorphosis on Wikipedia

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Ulver Shadows of the Sun Review

Ulver Shadows of the Sun Review

Artist: Ulver
Album: Shadows of the Sun
Genre(s): Ambient
Subgenres(s): Ambient
Released: 2007
Length: 40 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): The End Records, Jester Records

Track List:

01. Eos
02. All the Love
03. Like Music
04. Vigil
05. Shadows of the Sun
06. Let the Children Go
07. Solitude (Black Sabbath Cover)
08. Funebre
09. What Happened?

Ulver Shadows of the Sun Cover

Shadows of the Sun is an ambient album by Ulver. By this point in their career, anyone familiar with Ulver should know that you can’t predict what direction they’ll take on their next album and to live up to their reputation, they followed up their noisiest album in about a decade (Blood Inside, 2005) with one of their softest albums to date.

Unlike the swirling keyboard sounds that are common to ambient music, Ulver utilises live instruments to make up the bulk of the album and go as far as including a theremin on Eos and Funebre while hiring a string quartet that appears on many of the songs. If sombreness could be personified by any musical work it would be Shadows of the Sun.

If you listen to Shadows of the Sun casually a lot of the music can blend into a long soundscape but if you pay attention you will hear thoughtful piano melodies and dramatic strings that make Shadows of the Sun an exceptionally cohesive, low key album perfect for the small hours. Kristoffer Rygg’s voice remains within the baritone range for most of Shadows of the Sun, which suits the theme of the album perfectly and happens to be one of his strongest performances with Ulver.

Ulver shakes off the hazy atmosphere by weaving glitchy noises and thudding percussion together on songs such as Like Music, a calm piano ballad that turns into an eerie dark ambient soundscape and Let the Children Go, which builds up to a dramatic martial industrial anthem with another appearance of the trumpet to avoid any accusations of monotony.

Another standout moment is the cover of Black Sabbath’s Solitude, which holds true to the original but Ulver manages to make it their own song by making the bass more prominent and replacing the flute with the trumpet. It holds the same feeling as the original and surprisingly, it fits in with the rest of Shadows of the Sun despite it being the only rhythm based song on the entire album.

The cover art for Shadows of the Sun is actually a good reflection of the album once you’ve heard it and although music doesn’t fit neatly into a single genre, ambient is the closest you will get given the texture heavy nature of the songs.

Shadows of the Sun is a creative set of soundscapes that continue to explore the prevalent melancholic themes Ulver revel in to create (and reinvent) their unique musical vision with.

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Various Artists Flowers Made of Snow Review

Various Artists Flowers Made of Snow Review

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Flowers Made of Snow
Genre(s): Ambient, Folk, Industrial, Neoclassical, Noise
Subgenres(s): Dark Ambient, Martial Industrial, Neoclassical, Neofolk, Power Electronics
Released: 2004
Length: 55 minutes (CD 1), 63 minutes (CD 2)
Language(s): English
Label(s): Cold Meat Industries

Track List (CD 1):

01. Coph Nia – The Oath
02. The Protagonist – The Sick Rose
03. In Slaughter Natives – The Vulture
04. Olen’k – Season of Tears
05. All My Faith Lost – Sleep Now
06. The Last Hour – Into Empty Depth
07. Apatheia – Safehouse
08. Ataraxia – Incabala
09. Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio – Yesterday Brings But a Serpent of Ash
10. Hexperos – The Warm Whisper of the Wind
11. Sibelian – The Sin Eater
12. Sanctum – Lie Low

Various Artists Flowers Made of Snow Cover

Flowers Made of Snow is a Various Artists compilation by the Cold Meat Industry label. Presented as a sampler of the labels current artists, the compilation covers ambient, folk, industrial and noise music across 2 CDs and 23 different artists. The first CD focuses largely on the more accessible side of Cold Meat Industry with a diverse set of neofolk, martial industrial and neoclassical songs.

The Oath by Coph Nia sets the tone with a dramatic spoken word performance. The lyrics act as a proclamation for Cold Meat Industries, which are seemingly the rejection of mainstream culture and more specifically the music associated with it. Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio is the only other martial industrial band featured on Flowers Made of Snow and while the subgenre is sadly underrepresented, together they show what can be offered in their brief but powerful presence.

There are 3 neoclassical nightmares courtesy of The Protagonist, In Slaughter Natives and The Last Hour. The only thing to be said for certain of the neoclassical songs is that the performers are not happy people. Between the hushed murmurs, haunting soprano wails, tense violins and bleak ambiance, you’ll feel as though you’ve found yourself in the middle of someone else’s misery in these emotive pieces.

Making up about half of the first CD is a set of groups playing neofolk music that at times sounds worlds apart from each other despite being under the same umbrella. All My Faith Lost and O’lenk play low key songs with female lead singers that don’t pull any punches. In contrast Hexperos follow suit until their song (The Warm Whisper of the Wind) is warped into another neoclassical nightmare akin to The Vulture by In Slaughter Natives.

Apatheia and Ataraxia both perform uncharacteristically lively songs that are like reimagining’s of medieval folk music. They both have catchy acoustic guitars and more upbeat singing styles (the latter of which sounds like a cross between chanting, yodelling and opera singing) that evens out some of the tension present in many of the other songs.

Sibelian takes influence from both the neoclassical and martial industrial camps for the 9 minute mini-epic The Sin Eater. Some elements of electronic music can be heard through the sound effects and (what sounds like programmed) drumming. This conceptually links to Lie Low by Sanctum, the final song on the first CD. It is a dissonant song belonging to the power electronics subgenre of noise music. It doesn’t fit in with the rest of the music found here and acts as a disturbingly unwelcome prelude to the second CD.

The first CD in the Flowers Made of Snow compilation does an excellent job of showcasing what Cold Meat Industries and the fringe genres of martial industrial, neoclassical and neofolk have to offer if you can stomach melancholic music in this diverse and ever twisting compilation.

Track List (CD 2):

01. Desiderii Marginis – Where I End and You Begin
02. Raison D’etre – Mouldering the Forlorn II
03. Atrium Carceri – Impaled Butterfly
04. Mz.412 – In Hoc Signe Vinces
05. Brighter Death Now – While You Sleep
06. IRM – My Mother
07. Deutsch Nepal – Of Parasites and Disguises
08. Nacht – Death Posture
09. Beyond Sensory Experience – The Trade
10. Sephiroth – Therasia
11. Skin Area – Choose Art… Not Life

The second CD of the Flowers Made of Snow compilation is in stark contrast to the first. It focuses exclusively on the subtle and the abrasive (and arguably hostile) side of Cold Meat Industries in the form of dark ambient and power electronics music.

It starts out harmless enough with Where I End and You Begin by Desiderii Marginis, a dark ambient song fused with soft guitar distortion and what sounds like the slow, distant groans of a didgeridoo. Raison D’etre and Atrium Carceri carry on the dark ambient themes and almost link together to create an interesting 3 part song.

Mz.412, Brighter Death Now and IRM are three noise groups that work together in the same way as the dark ambient trilogy do. Unfortunately these songs are on the opposite side of the musical spectrum and are grating enough to make blood ooze profusely from every orifice on your body. Thankfully Nacht and Skin Area are the only other 2 noise groups on the CD with Deutsch Nepal, Beyond Sensory Experience and Sephiroth stepping in between these seemingly unending harsh songs to offer some relief from the discomfort they cause.

You could just as easily sit in a cement mixer and get someone to bash it with crowbar to achieve the same headache inducing effect that you get from the noise songs. The only difference is that you wouldn’t need to put up with the artistic pretence to get one.

The coupling of these genres provides an excellent contrast in sound if nothing else. The dark ambient songs on the second CD of the Flowers Made of Snow compilation are certainly worth a listen if you have the patience for eerie soundscapes but the noise songs should be left well alone unless you are a masochist or hate yourself.