Mini-Review Roundup: Hypnotic, [::], Psicosfera, and more

Aug. 10, 2016


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We have a bit of a theme today in that all 4 of these bands are atmospheric and instrumental.  Don't you dare let that turn you off.  Vocals aren't always necessary.

1 Former Monk See Details for Former Monk

Hyponic from Hong Kong today release their new album after over a decade.  Officially titled 前行者, the album explores the darkest reaches of ambient black metal atmosphere and drone.  Seriously, this is some truly ominous stuff.  That first shrill high note on the opening track covered my entire body with goosebumps.  It's a terrifying journey through space a la Event Horizon, with some touches of industrial to compliment the blackened, doomy guitars and occasional psychodelic elements.  There are some distant vocals to pick out if you strain your ears, but for the most part this is a rightly intrumental affair.  For fans of Unjustly Labeled.

2 aux​:​:​in See Details for aux​:​:​in

[::] (yes, that is their name), is an instrumental progressive and post-metal group from Warsaw Poland.  Their music consists of highly stylized instrumentation that crosses through a number of regional hat-tips and genres.  Like any good instrumental act, [::] are able to tell a story with each of their songs without a single word uttered.  I'm not always sure what's going on, but between the technical, tribal-like drumming, guitar effects, and overpoweringly groovey bass; it is clear that something more is happening than just a few blokes jamming on their instruments.  From giant, lurching slugs to belly-dancing acid trips; my brain took me to some weird places listening to these tunes.  Stellar songwriting, great showmanship, and above all a mind-bending good time.  What's your favorite idea?  Mine is being creative...

3 AlphA See Details for AlphA

Psicosfera keeps things in blackened territory.  The Argentinian band combines atmospheric black metal tropes with progressive, post-metal, and other elements to create sharp ominous, compositions that once more need no words to express themselves.  Despite the emphasize on some of the darker genres, I hear allusions to groups like Russian Circles as well.  The band has a similar take on moving from quiet, unearthly soundscapes to epic explosions of noise.  Closing track "IX" is a fine example of this.  AlphA is an interesting journey, and as an added bonus you can download it for free from the bandcamp page.  What have you got to lose?

4 I (ELCO) See Details for I (ELCO)

Argentinian band ELCO takes a decidedly less metal and perhaps classier approach to instrumental music.  The acronym stands for ‘Language as an obstacle’ in spanish. They have just released their first LP simply titled I. I am told that this debut has been well received by post-rock fans around the world.  The music combines layered emotional expression via various stringed instruments and piano along with reverb-heavy guitars and jazzy bass and drums.  The results are gorgeous.  Each song carries such weight in terms of affective expression.  Certain moments might bring one at the right moment to tears.  It's like a modern take on The Red Violin with a dash of Dreadnought. Perfect for a peaceful evening of melancholia.