It’s mid-September already, and after a long summer break, here we are with a small selection of what made our ears go nuts since the beginning of June. Keeping it down to less than 10 was no easy task and we hopefully have diverse enough material here, between the classy Black Metal of Vile Haint, the dreamy Cold Wave of NaN (Not a Number), or Chat Pile’s steamrolling Noise.
For those in a hurry, here are the Youtube and Spotify Playlists :
Pencey Sloe – Neglect
Shoegaze / Dream Pop – France
With this second album, the young Parisian duo confirm that they are indeed among the ones to watch, or even the ones to beat, in the Shoegaze game. A pandemic after Don’t Believe, Watch Out, they are back with a more refined and more intimate sound. With dreamier guitars and a more layered and subtle atmosphere reflecting Diane Pellotieri’s personal struggles and hopes in these chaotic times, Neglect is a step up in maturity by all accounts.
But don’t take our word for it ; listen to the album. And maybe take the hint that some people wiser than us came in to collaborate : The Run (pt I and II) hosts no less than Neige (Alcest) and J.K. Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu, etc…).
Chat Pile – God’s Country
Noise Rock / Sludge / Hardcore, USA
One of the obvious choices here ; Chat Pile’s God’s Country gained a lot of traction these past few weeks (all the way to Pitchfork’s “Best First album” award), and it’s well deserved. Sandpaper guitar riffs, crunchy-slappy basslines, muscular, smacking drums, straightforward punk attitude and painfully crude anticapitalistic lyrics, what’s not to love ?
What makes Chat Pile stand out is the sheer distress of their music, heard in the plaintive guitar leads and most of all in Raygun Busch’s vocals taking us through despair, proletarian wrath, depression and in the end, batshit insanity. Without the need for much effects or scenery, Chat Pile is one of the very few modern Metal acts that are truly terrifying.
Worhs – De Celles Qui Ne Crèveront Pas
Not your typical cis straight Black Metal – France
Worhs are back, and they still fucking own the place. To the great demise of some and the great joy of many, they were never out as they kept good material coming through EPs and singles since their last full length in 2020.
But this latest album sets the bar higher by widening their mix of genres and, consequently, their emotional palette. From Black Metal to Shoegaze, to Dream Pop, to Chanson Française and with strong Devotional-style singing, De Celles qui Ne Crèveront Pas is the less claustrophobic and the most luminous Worhs material to date. A fierce hymn of desperate love and resistance, still queer, still angry.
Vile Haint – Sacrificial Baptism in Murky Waters
Southern Gothic-infused Black Metal, USA
If you don’t already know Ryan Clackner’s name… Well, you should. This very prolific young man is building up a solid reputation in the US Black Metal scene with his various projects blending Black Metal and American Folk genres : Bluegrass and Country with the well-acclaimed Primeval Well, Hillbilly Country Blues with Crestfallen Dusk… And the somewhat less “shiny” Vile Haint, dubbed as a marriage between Black Metal and Southern Gothic.
With this sophomore album, the Southern Gothic elements might not be obvious at first, but will reveal themselves to the patient listener, providing a discreet but omnipresent underpinning, and an orientation for guitar tones to an epic, dusty Black Metal. Vile Haint shows that what makes Clackner’s music so appealing is much less due to the more or less obvious Americana gimmicks than to his masterfully crafted, memorable riffs, telling old stories of the New World.
Zola Jesus – Arkhon
Art Pop / Darkwave, USA
Nika Roza Danilova boasts a musical pedigree that many aspire to, but very few will ever attain. Six albums, Four EPs, countless collaborations, a distinctive sonic and visual universe and a reputation so strong artists such as Emma Ruth Rundle, Mizmor and Thou pay her hommage, mind you.
Arkhon is her most ambitious album to date, produced by no less than Randall Dunn. Zola’s deep and intense voice brings the audience through the vast caves depicted on the album cover, with these great halls’ sense of space and reverberation, but also the sense of gravity and claustrophobia one might feel when being literally buried under a mountain. From The Fall’s mystic dance, across Desire’s stripped-down sensuality and to Sewn’s breathtaking tension, this is an album any metalhead should listen to, just to get a fresh perspective on what ‘intense’ and ‘impressive’ can sound like.
Russian Circles – Gnosis
Post-Rock / Post-Metal – USA
Because sometimes you just need the riffs. And by all that is mighty and beautiful, Russian Circles have the riffs. All of them. Gnosis is pure sonic joy, period.
NaN (Not a Number) – Euterpe
Cold Wave / Shoegaze – France
Among the ocean of Electro-leaning Cold Wave, NaN is one of the few magic drops that will steal your heart forever. NaN retains everything that was great about 80’s Cold Wave ; the cold, crisp programmed drums, the uplifting guitars above deep synths with robotic energy… But expands it enough with luminous and spacious sound, more dynamic songwriting, and above all Bernard Collot’s magnificent voice. The end result is an open, poppier at times, modern Cold Wave filled with hope, sensuality and love. Absolutely brilliant.
Wake – Thought Form Descent
Melodic Grindcore / Black-Death Metal, Canada
Is there such thing as Melodic Grindcore ? Well, WAKE says yes. From their original, primal Grindcore artillery, these happy folks from Calgary evolved into more built-up and somewhat more melodic structures, one might dub as more Black/Death Metal. But Thought Form Descent, as all its predecessors, retains the grit, rage and chaos of Grind at its very core.
Behind the beautifully arranged guitars and the bombastically Metallic drumming, WAKE remain nasty and unforgiving to anyone thinking they might enjoy this record at their own pace. At a half-planet distance from their Wormrot peers, WAKE are showing another way to keep Grind alive and fresh.
Krallice – Psychagogue
Avant-Garde Synth Black Metal – USA
Welp, Krallice did it again. They released a new album about six months after the monumental Crystalline Exhaustion, and guess what : it’s fantastic again. The New York titans set up a new “line up” since last year, with guitars now wielded by McMaster, Mick Barr who shall now be known as Mick Bass, and Colin Marston focusing on keyboards, to further adjust or expand the newly found importance of synths in the band’s sound since the very peculiar Demonic Wealth.
In continuity with Crystalline Exhaustion, synths are more spacious and balanced than Demonic Wealth ; there is more harmony in Krallice’s mathematically derived, stellar chaos. But Psychagogue retains an overall nastier, more primal Black Metal energy than its predecessor that explodes in the ice-shard-heavy, angry scream of Arrokoth Trireme.
Not only there’s no stopping Krallice, but they are moving forward faster than anyone thought. God help us.