Wednesday 4 January 2017

2016 ALBUMS IN BRIEF: Alcest- “Kodama”, Cobalt- “Slow Forever” & Mortichnia- “Heir to Scoria and Ash”

By: TJ Kleibhan

Alcest- “Kodama”

Shoegaze-Metal pioneers Alcest were back this year with “Kodama”, an album that found lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Neige electing to implement more vocal harmony rather than his usual black metal screeches. “Kodama” has frequently been compared to Alcest’s debut, “Souvenirs d'un autre monde” by way of the new album’s fierce guitar riffs drenched beneath swirling delay effects. Also similar to the debut is the way “Kodama” bounces between moods which ranges from uplifting to dark and personal. Neige frequently stated he was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke during the album’s creation. “Kodama” is every bit as lush and blissful as a Miyazaki film, but also includes the harrowing darkness that Miyazaki’s protagonists typically overcome. This is one of Alcest’s strongest releases and should come especially welcome to fans clamoring for a record closer to black metal than Alcest’s past two efforts.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Cobalt- “Slow Forever

After a seven year hiatus, Colorado black and prog metal act Cobalt returned with “Slow Forever. The album was created during the most tumultuous time in Cobalt’s history. While creating their first double album, lead singer Phil McSorley was replaced with ex-Lord Mantis vocalist Charlie Fell. Multi-Instrumentalist Erik Wunder did not miss a beat during the whole process. “Slow Forever” features twelve tracks, most of which eclipse the 6 minute mark, that showcase massive riffs, creative drum fills, and aggressive melodies that all feature an influence of Cormac McCarthy-like western wilderness blues. Fell’s vocal performances are varied, but every note he screeches and roars works effectively. Rarely does a band replace their lead singer and get better, but “Slow Forever” could be the peak in Cobalt’s oeuvre.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Mortichnia- “Heir to Scoria and Ash”

Mortichnia come from Ireland and they’re here to crush all the happiness out of your life. Produced and recorded by Altar of Plagues’ James Kelly, the black/doom metal five-piece’s debut record is perhaps the most punishing release of 2016. The atmosphere of “Heir to Scoria and Ash” is sickening and claustrophobic. Even when the well-crafted riffs are not punishing the listener, there is seemingly no way to escape the droning, the harsh vocals, or the pounding double bass drum kick. Gluttons for punishment in their metal releases look no further.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook