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10 Blackgaze albums released before Sunbather

The word blackgaze is used to describe one of the most improbable genre fusion we could ever imagine to happen; Anticipated by Alcest’s 2005 EP Le Secret and officially explosed in 2010, the genre is a mixture between black metal and shoegaze.


For all those who are not very familiar with such styles, black metal is the most extreme form of heavy metal named after a Venom album from 1982, transposed into a genre by a few very extreme thrash metal bands such as Bathory, Celtic Frost and Sodom, and then exploided with its second wave consisting in a scene composed by norwegian bands active during early 90’s (Mayhem, Immortal and Emperor are a few examples). The genre is frequently associated to a very stereotyped (often reaching ridicolousness) imaginery of musicians with black and white facepaint and long hair with conceptual themes about darkness, occultism and northern european landscapes.

On the other side we have shoegaze, a mostly UK phenomenon of mid 80’s and early 90’s, which is a very dreamy and fuzzy type of alternative rock born as a lighter counterpart of 80’s darkwave and post-punk (Some essential bands are Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Cocteau Twins).

It’s important to say that while shoegaze has been a thing for a short time with most of its leading bands breaking up, black metal has always been very prolific and since the beginning several bands experimented with weird fusions of the genre (Ulver, Fleuerty, Ved Buens Ende, Enslaved) and completely ignored its estetical and conceptual stereotypes.

But how it’s possible that such opposite worlds would collapse together into this new odd marriage? The non so obvious answer is “completely accidentally”.

In 2005 a very underground french act named Alcest, solo project of Stephan Paut (more known as Neige), a black metal musician with no idea of what shoegaze was, released an EP with both ethereal/dreamy atmospheres and harsh vocals/metal fast drumming called Les Secret. While this EP remained not much more than an innovative underground gem, it is with Neige’s other project Amesouers (same formula, but more post-punk oriented) and the following Alcest full-length Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde (2007, basically Le Secret with zero metal elements) that he gained a strong popularity and got its formula transoformed into the blackgaze genre with the following Alcest album Écailles de Lune (2010);  a record that influenced tons of bands all around the world.

As said some rows up, Neige had no idea of what shoegaze was at the time and that result came up simply following his artistic creativity. Later after reading reviews mentioning the shoegaze genre he would eventually fall in love with it and becomes a very good connoisseur of that style of music and its main and less known bands.

Like him almost every band that approached to this genre at the time came from a metal background, with a small knowledge and interest in shoegaze, even perceptible in the way of playing clean and dreamy guitar parts, sometimes way too dry and rough .

From 2010 to 2014 a lot of blackgaze bands have been formed, mostly Écailles de Lune influenced and coming from a black metal background, than San Francisco based band Deafheaven released their iconic album Sunbather and things completely changed.

This list is intended to gather some essential records from the early blackgaze period before the release of Sunbather, of course i can already confirm that there will be a second part entitled 10 Blackgaze records released after Sunbather.

Last but not least, blackgaze is just a term invented by music journalists, it is never been a real genre, but mostly a way of making music.

Alcest - Écailles de Lune Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

Alcest “Écailles de Lune” (2010)

Released in spring 2010 with a strong hype behind, this should be considered the real blackgaze manifesto and the album that gave Alcest the boost to arrive where they are now.

Everyone who was into atmospheric black metal at the time has been captured by the mellow tunes of this records and its unique mood made of melancholy and nostalgia.

Contrary to its predecessor Souvenir D’un Autre Monde, that had a very fuzzy sound, this album shows a very massive and modern production, with chrystalline sounds, explosive metal guitars and liquid/dreamy clean arpeggio driven sections. Also the vocals shows both harsh black metal screams and ethereal Cocteau Twins-ish singing, which is a unique trademark of the project.

The first three songs Écailles de Lune parts 1 and 2 and Percées de Lumière are already longtime classics and their emotional impact is really powerful and irresistible.

Écailles is elegant, sad and incredibly beautiful: An ocean of dreams that completely absorbs the listener into a magic and comfortable world, and this is not a random example. Indeed Alcest’s music and lyrics on the first three albums are completely based on some visions that Neige had when he was a child that seemed to be sparks of memories from an early life in another world; and this spiritual component of the music in particular makes this album a really unique and mysterious journey. Essential.

Amesoeurs - Amesoeurs - Amazon.com Music

Amesoeurs “Amesoeurs” (2009)

As mentioned on the introduction, this is another project formed by Neige.

This time it is a sort of more collaborative project, initially only with singer Audrey Sylvaine and later with Fursy Teyssier (mastermind of Les Discrets) and Jean Deflandre (Alcest drummer, also playing with Les Discrets at the time): This self titled album is their only full-length released and the last work before splitting up because of internal disagreements and according to rumors also because of Audrey’s open affiliation with neo-fascism and embarassing nationalist right wing ideas.

But even if their carreer was short lived, this album is already an iconic and really wonderful release, with uniqe way of portraying grey urban landscapes through the melancholy of post-punk with some black metal influences.

A strong tribute to Joy Division is certainly not hided here, clearly perceptible across the enthralling bass driven sections of songs like Gas in Veins and Les Ruches Malades, but there are also strong tributes here and there to bands like Asylum Party (Amesoeurs), The Cure (Video Girl), and even some very dark massive metal moments (I XIII V XIX XV V XXI XVIII XIX – IX XIX – IV V I IV and Au Crépuscole de Nos Rêves). Guitar work and songwriting here are incredible, showing very simple, but yet absolutely emotional moments, expressed with sad arpeggios and touching melodies. Also Audrey’s vocals are very well crafted and seems absolutely perfectly mixed with the music offering a unique and magic performance.

Amesoeurs is another worth to listen album you absolutely need to know, it is a fantastic journey across abandonment and sad human feelings, screamed at loud in a city where no one is paying attention to the others, and where the skyscrapers’ shadows are devouring you.

Une Matinée D'hiver | Les Discrets

Les Discrets “Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées” (2010) 

Fursy Teyssier is a very talented video maker, designer and painter, known for its unique style and creativity; the project Les Discrets is the demonstration that he is also an amazng songwriter and musician.

This is the first album of his solo project, released after Amesoeur’s split up, and with the help of Jean Deflandre on drums who is already behind the rhytmic sections of Neige’s main project Alcest; it is also interesting to mention that at the time both Neige and Fursy were playing live bass on the other’s respective project.

Needless to say that this is another fantastic jewel emerging from France 11 years ago, merging dark post-rock (L’échappée, Songs for Mountains) with french chanson (Une Matinée d’Hiver), acoustic guitar driven folk and even some Ulver’s Bergtatt recalls (Les Feuilles de L’Oliver). Frusy’s approach to music is very original and shows a strong personality emerging from his beautiful voice and his evocative lyrics.

This album contains one of the most impressive atmospheres that melancholic music has created during the last decade. Absolutely recommended.

Lantlôs – .Neon Review – Last Rites

Lantlôs “.Neon” (2010)

One of the most suggestive and beautiful metal albums released in the last years, .Neon is one of the most interesting and well realised things of the whole post-black metal/post-rock hybridation.

Dark jazz vibes, urban desolation, nocturnal music, Deftones inspired parts and black metal blast beat driven section are just only a few of the things you’ll find in this masterpiece, which is the perfect soundtrack for a lone walk at night through the urban lights, able to let you drown into the beautiful calm of dreams. Lantlôs is the solo project of Markus Siegenhort from Rheda, Germany, an artist and music producer that made some of the best music of the period and never disappointed an album with this project.

The very original vibes present here on .Neon make this album absolutely unique and beside the almost perfect songwriting and execution (Markus plays all instruments) should be mentioned the good suffering vocal work recorded by Neige (who also provides some french singing on Neige de Mars) and the beautiful cover art designed by Fursy Teyssier (who also made the artwork of all the records i have mentioned till now).

The way post-rock and black metal are balanced here is fantastic, Markus has actually a really good music knowledge and he’s not only a metal musician, but is really aware of what post-rock, shoegaze and noise rock are, and that is perfectly perceptible basing on the way this album sounds like; perfectly riverbered clean tremolos and amazing guitars with a distortion tone halfway between icy sound and modern production that makes every part to sound like something coming from a nocturnal dream. If you are familiar with insomniac nights, this is the perfect album to hear during them. Definitely one of the records of the decade.

mortuusinsomnis777: Cold Body Radiation - The Great White Emptiness

Cold Body Radiation “The Great White Emptiness” (2010)

Ok, seems like the bands from the scene around Neige are finished on this list.

Cold Body Radiation is one of the bands that circulated a lot when the first flowers from the blackgaze seeds where flourishing, alongside projects such as Sleeping Peonies, Dernier Martyr and Sun Devoured Earth. The things that associates this band and all these ones i mentioned is a very fuzzy and raw use of guitars, which is in a certain way typical of some not so famous space shoegaze bands such as Flying Saucer Attack and Alcian Blue.

This album has in fact a lot in common with the most noisey form of shoegaze, but it’s still very melancholic, melodic and black metal influenced with its icy screams and blast beats.

Despite its raw nature, this album is incredibly organic, and the wall of sound on the most melodic parts totally hits you with an immense power (Close your eyes and listen to White Light for a demonstration), also the use of dirty distortions makes the bass even more audible with its proggy verses (Loss, Radiance).

Dark, suggestive fascinating and mysterious.

Deafheaven "Roads to Judah" - Deathwish Inc

Deafheaven “Roads to Judah” (2011)

Alongside Bosse-de-Nage, Deafheaven is America’s first answer to the blackgaze euophoria, and before creating their own way  of approaching the genre with the following Sunbather, they were already answering in a less original, but absolutely impressive way to the genre.

After the release of a very good demo in 2010 that gave them the inclusion in Deathwish Inc.’s roster, they put out one of the most intense and interesting american black metal albums of the last decade.

Even if a strong Lantlôs influence is present here, Defheaven also shows strong roots on the US atmospheric black metal way of sound providing influences from bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Weakling and even Liturgy.

The album is divided in 4 very long movements, marked out by dark and desperate blast beat explosions, very melancholic atmospheres and some very convincing post-rock interludes, that shows how the band really knows how apporach to such style (at the time their line-up included members of shoegaze bands Whirr and Nothing). Deafheaven is indeed one of the first bands showing real post-rock and shoegaze roots compared to the other european colleagues who were mostly people coming from black metal who discovered post-rock and shoegaze very lately and only beacuse of this new trend.

As i already mentioned on the intro, Deafheaven will later become the most distinctive blackgaze band around with the release of their masterpiece Sunbather and completely changed the approach to the genre, influencing mostly musicians outside metal to embrace such vibes, while in the early it was the opposite.

Also the lyrics here should be mentioned, showing a completely original take, different than any other similiar band who have approached this music; narrating stories and reflections on everyday life with a very impressive poetical work and lexicon.

In conclusion Roads to Judah is another foundamental piece of this puzzle, providing some of the most beautiful melancholic tunes created at the time.

Heretoir | Heretoir

Heretoir “Heretoir” (2011)

When blackgaze started to become a thing, a label in particular answered immediately to this new trend; this label is Pest Productions from China and a foundamental blackgaze release from them is a compilation entitled The World Comes to an End in the End of a Journey, that immediately became a cult release for people interested in such atmospheres.

Heretoir was one of the almost unknown demo projects present there and it is the one that got the bigger recognition not much years later.

This is the debut album by the german one man band leaded by musician David Conrad, who answered with strong Lantlôs and melancholic black metal influences to the blackgaze genre. This album is very good, even if it shows some imperfections on the production, which is way too raw and dry on a post-rock perspective, and on a sometimes too repetitive songwriting; but beside these two things this is undoubtely beautiful and worth to listen.

The song Fatigue is still one of the stronger Heretoir tracks, with its decadent depressive vibe able to let you drown into wonderful sad melodies; this journey into pure sadness than continues through a few instrumental interludes and reaching other high points on the songs Graue Bauten and the conclusive long Heretoir. Also the vocals shows a very good clean singing, often enriched by beautiful harmonisations, accompanied on the other side by black metal screams that are not too impressive, but that certainly do their work.

With the following album The Circle (2017) the band will release a more mature album that also sees the addition of Thärnenkind/King Apathy members, showing a more various and complete repertory of influences and embracing anti-fascist sensitivity, which is always a good thing.

From The Swamps

Dopamine “Dying Away in the Deep Fall” (2010)

Technically this is an unofficial release that started to circulate in 2010 as a digital/streaming fan made album, based on unreleased material of a project recently disbanded; it will be officially released by the band with a different cover only in 2019.

Dopamine is another band part of the split The World Comes to an End in the End of a Journey released by Pest Productions: formed in China under the influence of Alcest, on this album they show a very strong influence from the french band providing sad melodies (Melting, Dying Away in the Deep Fall), but also more post-rock oriented vibes (Incised by Water). Production is generally fine, but sometimes too dry,  which is a common problem of albums released at the time.

However the overall feeling related to this album is definitely good, Dopamine certainly knows how to craft emotional music and even on the more depressive black metal influenced parts (i can hear also a strong Austere, Woods of Desolation tribute) they remain sticked to an original formula. At the time this record had already become a sort of cult album among blackgaze listeners, which is pretty much atypical for an unofficial release.

Harakiri for the Sky | Harakiri for the Sky | AOP Records

Harakiri for the Sky “Harakiri for the Sky” (2012)

Nowadays Harakiri for the Sky is one of the bigger names of the genre, even after the Sunbather revolution that dosen’t influenced much their formula.

This duo was formed in Austria in 2012 between Vienna and Salzburg, and it is composed by Michael Jimbo Jones (Vocals, lyrics) that provides the hardcore influences (a good trademark for the band in my opinion) and Mathias Sollak (all instruments and songwriting), which comes from a more black metal background.

When this self titled album came out the band was pretty unknown and their music has been received as a sort of mix between the newborn post-black metal/blackgaze (Lantlôs, Alcest), modern german post-black metal in the vein of Agrypnie and atmospheric black metal inspired by Austere and Woods of Desolation.

Harakiri’s musical approach is pretty distincitive and differently than very similiar bands like Heretoir and King Apathy they haven’t changed much their style through the years on their five albums, the production has always been very modern, a bit too digital sounding for my taste, but certainly coherent.

This is with the following Aokighara (2014) their best effort in my opinion, showing proudly their enthralling drums driven sections accompanied by melancholic metal guitar melodies and hardcore-ish vocals.

Il debutto Dreariness, tra depressive black e shoegaze

Dreariness “My Mind is too Weak to Forget” (2013)

Even if it is not the best by this band, this albums is important to be included since it chronologically closes the cycle of very well received albums before the release of Sunbather, and it is obviously more associable to the Écailles de Lune influenced formula.

Formed in Rome, Italy back in 2012 this band revolves around three members with some constant collaborators. After an unpleasant experience with an old vocalist that continued to use the band’s name and instrumental arrangements, the remaining members answered to this event by forming their own version of the band with a more convincing and solid imaginery and sound (the other band have released nothing more than demos) expressed thorugh this album.

Distincited by some very extreme vocals (which is probably the only metal thing alongside some double kick patterns), and long minimal songs with very catchy melodies, Dreariness’ formula have been very well received. Some moments here are very good like the incredibly melancholic chorus arpeggio of My Mind is too Weak to Forget, or the one from Lost, both beautiful and intense. Also the very addictives melodies of One Last Wish (which is one of the best songs on the album) are definitely impressive.

Beside that some other moments (Coming Home, Dysmorphophobia) are not convincing in the same way, and the very digital and compressed production haven’t aged really well, especially guitar distortions  that are probably the most penalised element.

In 2016 Dreariness released Fragments, a more mature album that shows more post-rock direction and some very good songwriting moments.

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10 Recommended Covers Songs

Tributing other bands through covers has been always a tradition in rock and pop music since the early years, and there have always been basically two ways to approach to it:

There are copy-cut bands who cover their favourite artist’s track making it sound exactly as it was and there are others who completely changes the song’s formula and make their own one. Personally i usually prefer the second category, which is sometimes also the same case of a band that covers an unexpected song from an artist we didn’t even image they could like.

In this list there are some of my absolute favourite covers ever, usually different versions of songs i already use to enjoy very much.

Chris Brokaw – Canaris (2008, CD) - Discogs

Chris Brokaw “Drink the Poetry of the Celtic Disciple (Vlad Tepes cover)” (2008 – original 1994)

Deconstucting and tributing an already existing musical piece may be a hard challenge sometimes and, above all, a non certain success, but this is for sure an impressive case.

Chris Brokaw is well known as the founder of cult band Codeine, a band that during 90’s contributed to create the foundamental elements that compose slowcore and early post-rock; as a solo artist he released different types of music from slowcore/indie rock to acoustic and experimental music. This cover is taken from his album Canaris and it is an acoustic guitar instrumental version of a long epic song by raw black metal band Vlad Tepes, an act part of Les Legiones Noires collective, which was a cricle of very underground  french dark ambient and raw black metal projects that released only limited demo tapes.

The original version is of course one of the most lo-fi things you could ever hear (and it’s the same for the rest of the demo where it comes from), but in the same time it shows a very impressive songwriting and use of melody taking inspiration from classic heavy metal and the most interesting black metal around at the time. The demo is also a very rare cult release for people into underground black metal, and it is a very good surprise to see someone apparently with a completely different musical background making a such interesting version.

The cover is basically the opposite of the original: minimal, soft, elegant, but even if it’s totally revolutioned, it preserve its mysterious and magic vibes showing a very impressive and beautiful take on a track that was already inspiring.

Green Day “Working Class Hero (John Lennon cover)” (2007 – original 1970)

Back in 2007 a John Lennon tribute album entitled Instant Karma: The Amnesty Internation Campaign to Save Darfur was released, with the goal of supporting the cause of the aforementioned Sudan’s region devasted by conflicts, poverty and lack of resources. A lot of very famous acts partecipated (U2, R.E.M., Christing Aguilera and Duran Duran are just a few names), providing several good tributes to Lennon; this version of Working Class Hero in particular has been considerably boosted by the band showing a very strong interest for the cause.

Beside their punk roots Green Day have never hided their passion for classic rock, by showing some strong influences in some albums such as American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown and by playing various covers during their shows.

Working Class Hero is a difficult song to cover in a memorable way, on first because the original is played with just vocals and guitar and moreover because tons of famous artists have already covered it (Ozzy Osbourne and Marilyn Manson are just a few example), but beside that Green Day provided a massive and well crafted full band version of this classic, giving it even more passion and anger while showing also a strong respect and inspiration for the original version. There are some evident american folk vibes that are absolutely lovely and also the addition of some stunning lead guitar parts and solos that fits perfectly with the song. An excellent take on a classic.

√ Marc Ribot - SONGS OF RESISTANCE 1942-2018 - la recensione di Rockol.it

Marc Ribot & Tom Waits “Bella Ciao (Italian folk song cover)” (2018)

As an italian i can’t be more happy to listen to this cover of a folk song from my country played by two magnificent artists like Marc Ribot and Tom Waits together.

This is also a very particular and delicate chant since it has been created during the struggle between partisans and nazi-fascist oppressors in Italy; it is a song about freedom, love and it stands against the brutality and tyranny of fascism.

This fantastic duo re-interpreted this song adding some english verses and making a beautiful music video that shows images from american manifestations against Donald Trump’s recently ended government and his nationalist propaganda.

This version of the song is absolutely fantastic, with a strong emotional component and a very intimate vibe; the perfect soundtrack for a personal reflection about a certain type of modern politics, that even if have certainly left behind the atrocities of the past, sometimes still endangers the personal freedom of several communities through the weapon of ignorance.

This track is part of Marc Ribot’s album Songs of Resistance 1942-2018, which as the titles says, is a record composed by covers of protest songs.

The White Stripes - Hello Operator b/w Jolene (7")

The White Stripes “Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)” (2000 – original 1974)

Guitar player, singer and multi instrumentalist Jack White is certainly one of the greatest musicians active nowadays with its unique blend of blues rock inspirations and psychedelic explosions perfectly transposed in a modern rock context.

The White Stripes is probably the most famous of his bands and this cover, released by now more than 20 years ago, is still remembered as one of the highest live moments of the band’s shows.

This cover is actually pretty different from the original, especially beacue of a few choices that makes this version incredibly good, like the slower tempo change and the more melancholic and intimate mood that can be felt here. it’s also alwyas nice to see how Jack White’s style is influenced by american country (and of course the original version of the song was as well), without losing the ability of tranforming a very beautiful folk song into a rock ballad with a Led Zeppelin flavour. So, Mr White never disappoints, also his voice seems to be made for singing this song. Even if this cover has been originally released in 2000 as a b-side of the single Hello Operator, the live version released as a single in 2004 is probably more famous.

A Perfect Circle “Imagine (John Lennon cover)” (2004 – original 1971)

Yes, John Lennon again, and, spoiler, this is not even his last apparition on this list.

Well, i suppose we all know Imagine and it dosen’t need a particular introduction, i mean, maybe there are people living on this world that dosen’t, but it’s almost impossible to find them on a blog like this.

The main point that makes this cover so interesting is the overall atmosphere, which is completely opposite than the original version. I’m not only refering to the major chords transposed into minor chords, but to the fact that this is the perfect 30 years later counterpart of a song released in 1970 with a strong message of hope for humanity’s awareness on the evil made by war, diversity acceptance and the danger of the exploitation of our world. This version’s shows no hope, 30 years have passed and humanity is even worse compared to then, people are still doing the same brutal things and showing no respect for the others and for the world they live in. There’s also a very suggestive music video that shows all human’s cruelty and frivolity with many reflective and shocking images, most of them taken from real reportages.

Agape - Lantlôs - recensione

Lantlôs/Lìam “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Ryuchi Sakamoto cover)” (2012 – original 1983)

Like the Chris Brokaw case this is another cover that completely revolutioned the sound of the original, but since the Brokaw one was a guitar only version of a full band track, this is the opposite case (with piano instead of guitar).

From the homonime Nagisa Oshima movie (also known as Furyo), the original piece by Ryuchi Sakamoto is an incredibly beautiful and famous piano only track, written with the unique style of the multi awarded japanese composer, made of classical music references, japanese traditional music and contemporary composition. This cover have never been officially released, but only posted on Soundcloud back in 2012 (now it is available on YouTube only) and it is performed by members of both Lantlôs and Lìam. It’s incredible to see how certain beautiful melodies can perfectly arrive to the heart in the same emotional way, even if they are playd with a completely different style. Of course Markus Siegenhort and the others have an incredible taste in writing music and the heavy and slow post-rock of this musical piece has for sure an incredibly brethtaking impact. If you guys may ever read this article, please, consider to release this as an official single, it’s something the world definitely needs. Fantastic.

MEEKS - Beatless -Shoegazer Covers Of The Beatles- - Amazon.com Music

Meeks “Norwegian Wood (The Beatles cover)” (2013 – original 1965)

The Beatles’ music and shoegaze are not apparently two very distant universes, of course they are part of different periods, but they both have a certain songwriting sensitivity and come from the UK; even if this band, called Meeks, is actually a side project of members from Broken Little Sister from Yokohama, Japan.

Under this name, the ensemble have only released an album of The Beatles covers in shoegaze variant (entitled Beatless, as tribute to My Bloody Valentine’s Lovess already entirely covered on several compilations), which is par se a very original and interesting idea. The curiosity generated by the album’s idea is definitely worth to satisfy and all the 10 songs choosen by the band are perfectly re-arranged in a dreamy and ethereal way that fits so well to The Beatles’ classics.

Norwegian Wood is in particular one of the best episodes, preserving the psychedelic vibes of the original song, drowning the main melody in an ocean of reverbered guitars walls. It sounds like listening the actual song, but into a dream.

ULVER Childhood's End - Lost & Found From The Age Of Aquarius reviews

Ulver “Magic Hollow (The Beau Brummels cover)” (2012 – original 1967)

The norwegian experimental ensemble is certainly not new to covers; their version of Black Sabbath’s Solitude from their 2007 brillant album Shadow of the Sun is already a classic. But it’s with their 2012 album Childhood’s End entirely composed of covers that they have reached their best.

The record contains only songs from the 60’s psychedelic rock period and beside this stunning version of The Beau Brummels’ Magic Hollow, there are also other tributes of amazing bands such as 13th Floor Elevator, Electric Prunes, The Byrds and many more. Every song is played with the band’s own style and the whole album is an absolutely recommended experience.

Sticking to this cover in particular that’s incredible how the folk vibes and the intensity of such beautiful melodies are completely preserved even if reproposed in a modern context. Kristoffer Rygg’s vocals are so intense and the overall mood is absolutely magic and mysterious; after all the original version was already an incredible piece of music and Ulver is an amazing band, it seems to be the perfect formula for an excellent result.

Nadja “No Cure for the Lonely (Swans cover)” (2009 – original 1992)

Like the case of Ulver and Meeks this is another song taken from an album entirely made of covers. This time the band is Nadja, true experimental drone/fuzzy rock masters from Canada and then relocated to Germany, with an interesting album made of very bizzare choices revolutioned in their personal style; My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, Codeine Slayer and Elliot Smith are just some example of the tributes you’ll find on When i See the Sun Always Shines on TV. The Swans song i picked up is one of my favourite songs ever, so it’s been pretty natural to me to think about it when the idea of a cover list came to my mind, but i have to admit that there are several equally interesting others off this record i could pick up. Here Nadja explores their most heavy, fuzzy and sludgy side, that on this song is also fused with some very intense ethereal and dreamy vibes, creating a super massive guitar wall of sounds enriched by reverbered chants, melodic ambient loops and a slow repetitive drum machine pattern.

The original version is a brief beautiful song with just vocals and acoustic guitars, one of the highest points of Michael Gira’s poetry, and indeed i’ll never understand why it’s been used as a bonus track only present on some versions of Love of Life. This is a pretty good example of a song revolutioned with a completely different approach that mantains its emotional mood. it’s also actually surprising to see Nadja choosing this song in particular from Swans’ discography, since there’s plenty of songs that are already pretty close to their noisy style, but they probably wanted to be more creative and definitely did the right choice. There is also a live version of this cover from the previously released live album Trembled (2006), which is even more ethereal and intense.

Bosse De Nage / Deafheaven - Split - Vinyl LP - 2012 - US - Original | HHV

Deafheaven “Punk Rock/Cody (Mogwai cover)” (2012 – original 1999)

I have to admit i usually dislike a lot metal versions of non metal songs. Using abrasive distorted guitars and harsh vocals on classic or soft songs makes really no sense to me, and i’ll never understand why it is so common among metal bands, but this is one of the cases where i really enjoyed the operation.

Of course this is a sort of anomalous case, since Deafheaven is already a very borderline band with a style made of many different genres where metal is just one of them and their music is also probably closer to Mogwai than any traditional metal band around.

Indeed the use of guitars is definitely heavy but in a very shoegaze-y way, with a super intense loud tone and powerful noisy distortions, there are also piano, post-rock liquid arpeggios and effected loops, making screams the probably only metal element of the song.

This is actually a cover of two songs, respectively the intro and the first full track from Mogwai’s 1997 masterpiece Come on Die Young. On Punk Rock Deafheaven replaced the spoken word from Iggy Pop’s interview with William Faulkner’s nobel price aceptance while on Cody, that was a very calm song with tender vocals, they added distortions, powerful drumming and screams, but maintained perfecly the melancholic aura of the musical piece. After a short interlude with piano, clean guitar and shrieks in the background, the song explodes into an extremely emotional ending, with violent blast beats and post-rock tremolo euphoria. Even if covering any song from a masterpiece like Come on Die Young is a hard operation, Deafheaven definitely did it in the best way possible, creating an incredibly beautiful tribute, full of desperate sadness, deeply emotions and outstanding atmospheres. Impressive.

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10 Records with Giuseppe Emanuele Frisone (ITA / ENG)

Heliogabalus

First article from this new format which consist in 10 influential/important records lists made by guests.

This time is the turn of vocalist and songwriter Giuseppe Emanuele Frisone, also known as Heliogabalus or G.E.F., known among the italian underground to be mastermind of several projects with a very strong and particular conceptual imaginery, which is a trademark of his musical creations and artistic awareness.

If you don’t know his bands i can’t forget to mention Thecodontion and their pretty good album Supercontinent released last summer, which is a very original and unique project with a concept based on prehistoric geology, palenthology and jurassic creatures; and i don’t even already mentioned the musical side, which is extreme metal with only bass and drums and no guitars at all, with a few strong and inspiring atmospheric passages (i don’t remember to have ever heard bass guitars to sound so spacey and melodic).

In this list you’ll find 10 Records that had a particular significance on him both as artist and as person, that, mentioning his words, don’t necessarily correspond with his absolute favourite records of all time.

A last thing to add about this article is the fact that i was initially planning to write it in Italian (my first language), but since this artist is making music for an international audience, i will keep both italian and english versions; next times for personalities known in Italy only i will probably keep the whole article in italian.

Patriots - Franco Battiato Tracklist, Copertina, Canzoni

Franco Battiato “Patriots” (1980)

Ho sempre amato Franco Battiato e i suoi brani li ricollego alla mia infanzia e ai viaggi per andare dai parenti. Di lui mi piace sia il periodo sperimentale sia quello più pop, ma ho scelto in particolare l’album Patriots perché è pieno di citazioni e riferimenti a posti reali, fatti storici, elementi culturali, e penso che questa cosa mi abbia influenzato particolarmente. Oltretutto pur essendo un disco già del periodo pop l’ho sempre trovato molto sperimentale e innovativo.

I’ve always loved Franco Battiato and i usually link his songs to my childhood and the travels i used to do to reach my relatives in that period. I like both experimental and pop period from Battiato, but i’ve chose the album Patriots in particular beacuse it’s full of quotes and reference of real places, historical events and cultural elements; i think this component influences me in a solid way. Moreover, even if this record is already part of his pop period, i’ve always considered it a very experimental and innovative album.

Non Al Denaro Non All'Amore Ne Al Cielo: De Andre' Fabrizio: Amazon.it:  Musica

Fabrizio De André “Non al Denaro Non All’Amore Nè al Cielo” (1971)

Per De André vale un po’ lo stesso discorso fatto per Battiato, dal momento che anche lui lo collego alla mia infanzia. Scelgo Non Al Denaro Non All’Amore Nè Al Cielo perché contiene le canzoni di De André che mi sono rimaste più impresse e in cui secondo me la sua espressività narrativa è al culmine.

For De André is basically the same of Battiato, since i link him as well to my childhood. I’ve chosen the album Non Al Denaro Non All’Amore Nè Al Cielo because it contains his songs that have been stucked with me the most; i also consider them the highest point of his narrative expression.

Hammerheart: Bathory, Bathory: Amazon.it: Musica

Bathory “Hammerheart” (1990)

Hammerheart è il disco che mi ha fatto capire che amo il metal, mi ha sempre fatto emozionare come un bambino e ricordo ancora oggi la prima volta che l’ho ascoltato. Da quel momento ho anche avuto una fascinazione per i vichinghi che negli anni è andata un po’ scemando, ma nonostante questo riesce sempre ad esercitare la stessa magia su di me.

Hammerheart is the album that made me realize i love metal, it has always been able to move me like a child and i still remember the first time i’ve listened to it. Since that moment i also started to have a fascination for vikings, which has been fading through the years, but beside that i still always feel the same magic.

Sonic Youth - Dirty Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

Sonic Youth “Dirty” (1992)

Ho conosciuto i Sonic Youth dopo i 20 anni, quindi non ero proprio piccolissimo. Con Dirty mi si è aperto un mondo, perché è stato il primo disco dei Sonic Youth che ho ascoltato e da lì sono diventati rapidamente una delle mie band preferite. Tra l’altro su Dirty c’è Theresa’s Sound World che è praticamente un brano antesignano del post-black metal (e sì, è del 1992) e questa cosa mi ha sempre affascinato.

I’ve discovered Sonic Youth after i turned 20, so i wasn’t that young. Dirty was the first album from them i’ve ever listened, it really blew my mind and they started to become fastly one of my favourite bands. Among other things on this record there’s the song Theresa’s Sound World which is basically a precursor track of the post-black metal genre (yes, it’s from 1992) and i’ve always been fascinated by this fact.

Outre | PORTAL | Profound Lore Records

Portal “Outre” (2007)

Quando ho iniziato ad ascoltare metal estremo, amavo il black metal ma non il death metal. Se oggi ho cambiato idea una buona parte del merito è di Outre dei Portal, perché mi ha offerto un’idea differente su come concepire il genere. Da lì in poi ho riapprofondito il genere e sono riuscito a capirne meglio le fondamenta, tanto che oggi preferisco il death al black metal.

When i initially started to get into extreme metal, i was in love with black metal, but not with death metal. If today i’ve changed my perspectives it’s because of Outre by Portal, that gaves me a different approach to the genre. Since then i started to get more into it and i started to understand its form of expression, so much that now i prefer death metal than black metal.

Treasure // Cocteau Twins | Copertina, Musicale, Musica

Cocteau Twins “Treasure” (1984)

Quando ho ascoltato per la prima volta i Cocteau Twins mi sono innamorato della voce della cantante Elisabeth Fraser e delle loro atmosfere eteree. Sono stati loro a dare il la per farmi conoscere meglio il dreampop e lo shoegaze, proprio con Treasure.

When i’ve listened for the first time to Cocteau Twins i immediately fell in love with Elisabeth Fraser’s voice and their ethereal atmospheres. It’s because of them and their album Treasure that i started to know more about the dream pop and shoegaze genres.

Primus – Pork Soda Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

Primus “Pork Soda” (1993)

Come strumento mi ha sempre affascinato il basso. Quando ho ascoltato i Primus per la prima volta non avevo mai sentito il basso venire utilizzato in questo modo, con un ruolo così da protagonista. Ma non è tutto qui perché Pork soda mi ha saputo trascinare con le sue canzoni che ho sempre avvertito come strane, diverse in tutto e per tutto.

I’ve always been fascinated by bass guitar. When i’ve listened to Primus for the first time i had never heard before a bass guitar used in such a lead way. But there’s more, since Pork Soda has been able to fascinate me with its songs that i’ve always considered weird and different than everything else.

Ved Buens Ende – Written In Waters | Black Metal Ist Krieg

Ved Buens Ende “Written in Waters” (1995)

Sin dai miei primi approcci con il black metal mi piaceva l’idea di andare oltre, di capire se un genere così estremo ed oltranzista potesse essere fuso con altri elementi. Written in waters è stata la prima risposta che ho ricevuto, che mi ha fatto avvicinare al cosiddetto avantgarde black metal, con le sue forti venature progressive amalgamate con la violenza del black metal.

Since my first approaches with the black metal genre i was fascinated by the idea of going over and mixing such an extreme and uncompromising genre with diverse musical elements. Written in Waters has been my first answer regarding that and it started to drag me into the so called avantgarde black metal, with its strong progressive vibes perfectly merged into the brutality of black metal.

Big Black - Songs About Fucking (1987, Vinyl) | Discogs

Big Black “Songs About Fucking” (1987)

Discorso simile a quanto fatto per i Sonic Youth. Ho conosciuto le varie band di Steve Albini solo negli ultimi dieci anni, e tra queste i Big Black mi sono rimasti impressi soprattutto per Songs About Fucking. Mi ha stupito il connubio di noise e punk e le tracce intrise di nichilismo fino al midollo, insieme a un’interpretazione singolare di The Model dei Kraftwerk.

With Big Black my approach has been similiar to Sonic Youth. I’ve discovered Steve Albini’s bands only during the last ten years, and among them, Big Black impressed me in particular with their album Songs About Fucking. I was astonished to hear this mix of noise and punk and this tracks totally steeped in nihilism, there’s also a very singular interpretation of The Model originally by Kraftwerk.

Behemoth - Demigod (2004, CD) | Discogs

Behemoth “Demigod” (2004)

Non ascolto più i Behemoth da diversi anni, ma con Demigod c’è stato il mio primo incontro con il metal estremo. All’epoca non ritenevo possibile che potesse esistere della musica così “malvagia”. Questo mi sconvolse e mi mise quasi paura ma al tempo stesso anche fascino: fu proprio da quel momento che decisi di approfondire quel tipo di musica, per cui a distanza di anni rimane un album indimenticabile.

It’s several years i haven’t listened to Behemoth now, but with Demigod i got in touch for the first with extreme metal. At the time for me was impossible that such “evil” music could exist. This shocked me and i was almost scared, but fascinated at the same time: It was in that moment that i’ve decided to get more into this type of music, for this reason after many years this is still an unforgettable record.

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10 Discouraging songs regarding love

Love is without any doubt the most inspriring feeling for all the arts, having a particular visceral empathy with cinema, and music. Saint Valentine’s Day is usually considered the celebration of the most obvious, mutual and happy side of a feeling that actually has way more facetings that are still intense and pure, but which may include desperation, sorrow or just misunderstandings; giving birth to very genuine music pieces and lyrics sometimes permeated by heartache, pain, rejection or nostalgia for a lost love, but also nihilism or skeptciism.

This list contains 10 discouraging songs about love, exploring it in in an opposite way of its joyous stereotypes.

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Radiohead “True Love Waits” (A Moon Shaped Pool, 2016)

The song is basically a tormented soft ballad accompanied by hypnotic synths in the case of the studio version and acoustic guitar in the case of the recorded live version, both are undoubtely great and intimate, but maybe the dreamy and abstract feeling of this one fits in a more interesting way with the lyrics. The main topic of the song is remaining young and trying to not grow to keep a loved one and consequently the pureness of the feeling. The main refrain “don’t leave, don’t leave” shows a strong fragility and a real need of someone’s company, while the verses “i’m not living, i’m just killing” are the clear rapresentation of a self-destructive abandonment sometimes relatable to a desperate love.

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Princess Chelsea “I Love My Boyfriend” (The Loneliest Girl, 2018)

Probably most known for her super catchy song Cigarette Duet, Princess Chelsea from New Zealand is surely one of the most interesting names of modern art pop around today.

I Love My Boyfriend is a baroque ballad with some incredibly addictive melodies, especially the ones played by the harp on the chours and the heavenly vocals singing on it; probably this is not intentionally a discouraged song about love, but through its story illustrates a really more than common scenario present in many long time relationships, which demolish the “eternal mutual love” tale we have always heard about.

The song is about a girl in a 10 year relationship feeling something special for another guy, but too confused to admit it. Even if it’s obvious she really wants the other, she tries to convince herself that her boyfriend is the only one she loves. That’s very interesting how the verses where she convince herself that her boyfriend is the one she really loves don’t describe any feeling and they simply remark the fact that “he’s a good man” and “takes care of her” while the ones about the other guy are clearly showing a romantic interest (“everytime he looks at me I get electric shocks, In my brain and in my heart”).

The naive way the narrator denies her feelings to herself is surely spontaneous, but so confuse to show immediately their real nature to the listener, and that’s essentially what makes this song’s lyrics so well crafted.

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Hatchie “Bad Guy” (Sugar & Spice, 2018)

Taken from her wonderful debut EP Sugar & Spice, this is the highest moment of the whole record.  Starting with a beautiful and touching guitar arpeggio the song soon evolves into an ethereal and nostalgic ballad with Cocteau Twins-ish angelic vocal melodies and ends by reaching the loudest and most emotional point in its finale. If it’s not already obvious, Hatchie from Australia, takes inspiration from 90’s british dream pop with a very delicate touch of shoegaze.

This song may have several meanings, but it is essentially about a complicated relationship (not clear if it’s a broken one or not), with the narrator feeling bad and blaming herself for being so much into someone who has clearily made her suffer multiple times.

These lyrics shows in a very mellow way all the frustration of being not understanded by someone you care abuot more than you should.

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Deafheaven “Unrequited” (Roads to Judah, 2011)

Before confimring theirself as one of the most acclaimed bands of the last decade in the world of extreme and alternative music, in 2011 Deafheaven have released this debut album through Deathwish Inc.

The californian ensemble shows immediately a very strong emotional and melancholic touch in their shoegaze-y black metal formula made of very long post-rock overtures and aggressive sections with neverending blast beats, high pitch shrieks and razor distorions.

In terms of sound and lyrics this 9 minutes song describes exactly the tormenting feeling of loving someone who dosen’t respond to your feelings. The deep and desperate feelings expressed in this poetical lyrics are absolutely real and touching, describing a persistent thought impossible to earase (“I feel so worn, quartered, and torn. Hung from the post where my brothers once sung. Cut from the tie where my sanity binds. Stuck in Winter’s Hell, with just you in mind.”), a thought that makes everything else impossible to be done (“I can’t move on, because I can’t shed the weight of myself. There is no such thing as the past, present, or future. There just is, and it never goes away.”), and a lacerating sense of grief accompanied by self blaming thoughts for being unable to stop it (“I thought about you for the rest of the day. Catching my head turning to find you again. I hated myself for it.”)

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Carly Raep Jepsen “Your Type” (Emotion, 2015)

Yes, she’s the same girl behind the addictive summer hit Call Me Maybe we’ve been hearing all day long back in 2012. Althought the undoubtely mainstream pop nature of her music, is always fun to mention that due to a positive review on the versatile music channel theneedledrop, her third album Emotion has started to be surprisingly appreciated by people from completely different musical backgrounds ending up with Swans and Death Grips fans enjoying listening to Carly’s record even if it’s still pure pop.

Beside that funny story, it’s worth to mention that this song is a really honest and well working 80’s inspired track in the same line with the whole album, gathering extremely catchy songs oftenly layered with electro pop synths and pleasant melodies.

Your Type is probably the best track from the album showing a really cheerful and somehow happy atmosphere even if the lyrics are about the hurtful feeling of being in love with someone that consider you just a friend.

The consequences of the situation on the narrator includes self-blaming thoughts for having no control on her feelings (“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I love you, I didn’t mean to say what I said

I miss you, I mean it, I tried not to feel it, But I can’t get you out of my head”) and also an annoyed complain toward her crush’s behaviour for ignoring her love and living normally his relationship (“I bet she acts so perfectly, You probably eat up every word she says, And if you ever think of me, I bet I’m just a flicker in your head”), but in hamrony with the musical aspect there is no negativity and she’s seems to accept in a rational way the situation.

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LowCityRain “You Are Everyone, You Are Everywhere” (LowCityRain, 2013)

After the release of three incredible albums with his main post-metal output Lantlos, in 2013 the german multi instrumentalist Markus Siegenhort decided to released an album with a new solo project named LowCityRain.

The intent is exploring a completely different musical dimension and the result is an absolutely impressive post-punk record with elements of electronic pop, shoegaze and dreamy atmospheres.

You Are Everyone, You Are Everywhere is the opening track of the album and despite the very short lenght it’s incredibly intese, touching and moving; It starts with one of the best guitar lines written in the last decade, clearly The Smiths inspired, and it’s accompanied by a strong rhythmyc and leaded by angelic female vocals.

Lyrics seems to be about a desperate and unreachable love, impossible to remove from your mind even if you’re losing yourself across the monotony of growing grey urban landscapes.

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Carcass “No Love Lost” (Heartwork, 1994)

Formed in Liverpool during the 80’s by Jeff Walker and Bill Steer, Carcass are, alongside their friends Napalm Death the undisputed fathers of grindcore, a genre created mixing wisely devasting metal riffs with hardcore punk elements and insanely fast passages.

After two albums of pure grindcore the band introduced the swedish guitarist Michael Amott from Carnage, with which started to incorporate an impressive amount of melody in its sound borrowed from swedish death metal and classic heavy metal. The monumental album Heartwork is probably the perfect synthesis of this formula, showing a unique massive sound and an amazingly perfect songwriting. No Love Lost is for sure one of the most acclaimed and memorable tracks off this record.

Behind the sour poetry of the words in the lyrics there seems to be a strong scepticism regarding the feeling of love, usually overrated by people, involving theirselves in emotionless relationships made of fake feelings and fake illusions (“The low cost of loving, Amorous travesty, Human frailties and weakness are easy prey, How your poor heart will bleed”), trying to follow an ideal romantic cliche that dosen’t really exist (“Without emotion, your heartstrings break, Snapped and severed to the tune of a tragic, sad cliche, No love lost, When all is said and done, There’s no love lost”).

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The Cure “Pictures of You” (Disintegration, 1989)

There’s no better song to describe nostalgia than this, with its soft melodies and beautiful atmospheres accompanied by a deeply suggestive vocal performance.

Even if it sounds a bit obvious it is worth to mention that The Cure symbolizes the essence of gothic rock and dark music in general, with their melancholic and sad inner poetry, the band leaded by Robert Smith have painted the portrait of a generation who lived its tormented youth during the end of the 70’s and throughout the 80’s.

Disintegration (1989) closes The Cure’s golden decaded and it’s an absolute masterpiece and an iconic record that all of us should have listen at least one time. If there is a central theme on the whole album, that theme is nostalgia, from the missed “kiss of treachery, The shameless kiss of vanity” and “The soft and the black and the velvety up tight against the side of me”  of Disintegration to the harsh memories and the heartbreaking regret of what has gone wrong (“If only I’d thought of the right words I could have held on to your heart”) while contemplating those Pictures of You.

This song is about that sad, but in the same time beautiful sensation of remembering something that will never return, a specific moment, a feeling or whatever related to a lost love. the lyric’s verses are hurtful and sad, and they show a really touched and still vivid love toward someone that even if it’s not anymore in your life, will be never forgotten till the end.

“There was nothing in the world

That I ever wanted more

Than to feel you deep in my heart

There was nothing in the world

That I ever wanted more

Than to never feel the breaking apart

All my pictures of you.”

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The Darkness “Love is Only a Feeling” (Permission to Land, 2003)

The band that more than anyone else has brought back calssic rock at the top of the charts at the beginning of the 2000’s: The four piece ensemble from London leaded by Justin Hawkins takes inspiration from giants such as Led Zeppelin, Queen and Def Leppard and they’re probably the last successful band that intended rock’n’roll attitude in its purest form, but with a unique energy and an irresistible sense of humor.

This song off their most acclaimed album Permission to Land is about nothing more than its title: love is certainly overwhelming and incredibly powerful (“The state of elation that this unison of hearts achieved, I had seen, I had touched, I had tasted and I truly believed”), but it’s really nothing more than just a feeling.

This interpretation of the song is clearly described by Justin Hawkins in a 2003 interview: “”When we wrote that one, I was thinking, ‘People always say that it’s more than a feeling.’ It really isn’t. It’s just that: it’s a feeling”.

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Have a Nice Life “I Don’t Love” (Deathconsciousness, 2008)

Released in 2008, Deathconsciousness is the debut album of the Connecticut based duo Have a Nice Life, It is a deep travel across human subconscious, melancholy, nihilism and tragedy spreaded on a musical tapestry made of gothic rock, post-punk and drone layers.

It’s very interesting how the album gained a strong popularity among the underground alternative community, becoming a cult record still very acclaimed after more than 10 years. Of course it’s not the kind of album you immeidately get into, especially if you’re not in the right mood; it is described by the the band theirself as “the most depressing album in the history of music”.

The song I Don’t Love is probably much more than its title; love is the feeling that moves our exisences more than any other: loving means living and refusing love means refusing life, indeed behind a clear delusion toward love’s condition (“I don’t want to do this anymore, but there’s nothing else to take. I don’t love”) there is a global sense of dissatisfaction and abandonment (“I don’t want to live like this, Lord. I don’t want to live at all”) permeated by a persistent nihilism (“I don’t feel anything where this love should be”).

Musically speaking the atmosphere has a beautiful and calm overall mood that makes the sense of abandonment evocated through the lyrics a sweet experience. The vocal lines are pretty much addictive, it’s impossible to not sing them along after a few listens and their lo-fi sounds fits very well with the fuzzy guitars and the enthralling melodic bass in the background.

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Album Lists

10 early post-rock records

Even if right now the word post-rock is refered to a rock subgenre with some very specific characteristic, back during the 90’s it was just an umbrella term used to gather bands with a strong experimental and emotional vibes playing a style with rock roots, but almost impossible to label.

Among the early post-rock bands there are literally projects of every kind, sometimes also very different from each others, taking inspiration from a huge variety of genres including jazz, prog, pop, ambient or darkwave, but usually filtered by an evident hardcore punk attitude.

Here on this list there are 10 records from the early post-rock period you can take as essentials, but of course there are many other important exclusions that will be probably included on a second list.

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Labradford “Labradford” (1996)

Cult band coming from Richmond, Virginia and active between 1991 and 2001. Labradford is one of the most unique and talented projects ever existed, and this album in particular is a true hidden gem shining into the 90’s underground. Even if this is not the only masterpiece from their dioscgraphy is for sure the more indicated to consider if we’re talking about post-rock.

From the beginning to the end this is a beautiful journey across incredible soundscapes and emotional architectures made of whispering vocals, chrystalline guitars, strings and keyboards.  The whole atmosphere is quiet and evocative from the addictive psychedelic keyboards of Pico to the galloping tremolo guitars of Battered.

Labradfor is the Soundtrack of your more pleasant and hidden dreams.

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Bark Psychosis “Hex” (1994)

Leaded by Graham Sutton, Bark Psychosis from London is another cult band, less known compared to many bands who conied the post-rock genre, but important in the same way.

This album, Hex, sounds like anything else ever done, and it is recognized as an absolute masterpiece that every postrocker on earth should’ve listen at least one time.

The musical style is way hard to describe, it shares for sure a calm vibe for its full duration as most of the albums on this list, but offers a completely original experience, super experimental, but still accessible. Drifting across these melodies and drowning into their peaceful vibes is highly recommended, the beautiful semi-jazz drum patterns and the weird bass lines are always hearable and they weave a very distinctive rhythmic substratum upon which develops an introspective vocal work accompanied by always beautiful melodies played by piano, guitar, harmonica, synths and organ; It’s impossible to not melt your heart into the tunes of Absent Friend, Eyes & Smiles or Pendulum Man.

This is undoubtely a good example of an album that can be definitely labeled as post-rock (when it wasn’t already “a thing”), but it’s still completely free from the bonduaries of a single genre.

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Talk Talk “Spirit of Eden” (1988)

Spirit of Eden or Laughing Stock? This question blizzed in my head for several hours when i decided to write an article about early post-rock and include Talk Talk and i’m still not fully convinced by my decision. Well, for sure they’re both wonderful albums and seminal works for the post-rock genre, but i ended up chosing Spirit of Eden because it’s been a completely new and revolutionary musical manifesto regarding Talk Talk’s discography and rock music in general, in other words this is probably the first post-rock record ever released.

Formed in 1981 by Mark Hollis, Lee Harris and Paul Webb, Talk Talk is definitely more know for addictive synth pop hits like It’s my Life (also covered by No Doubt 19 years later) or Such a Shame (both 1984), but at the end of their carreer they suprisingly decided to take a completely opposite direction, very experimental, melancholic and introspective with two incredible records of which the first is Spirit of Eden.

Taking inspiration from an evident british progressive and baroque rock background passing though jazz and chamber music there’s still a distinctive singing oriented formula in several parts of this incredible journey; but the amazing vocal performance of Mark Hollis is not the only memorable thing of this album, you won’t be so able to forget the guitar explosions of Desire or the hypnotic fretless bass lines of Inheritance.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F♯ A♯ ∞ (1997)

“The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel” with these words declaimed by a deep male voice starts one of the most incredible rock records of the 90’s.                                                  Godspeed You! Black Emperor (at the time known as Godspeed You Black Emperor!) have done a real musical and conceptual revolution with their art able to touch people in their deepest emotions; This is the first album of the Canadian ensamble released after a rare previous demo and it is available in two separate versions for vinyl and CD with different tracklist.

If you’ve never heard of this record before, it’s gonna be a journey that will change your life, the endless songs are separated in movements like operatic acts and they switch from classical music-inspired parts with violin and cello to cinematic western passages including drone, ambient and experimental sections with field recordings and loop samples. The first macro track The Dead Flag Blues is incredible in all its progressions showing a very sad and melancholic overall feeling that turns with the following East Hastings into all the anger and the discomfort regarding this society that our anarchist orchestra has to express with a strong anti-capitalist political content and an incredibly inspired artistic sensitivity rarely heard in rock music in general.

Every GY!BE record is very special and meaningful and their singular personality is also expressed in the intricated tables present in their layouts and behind the visuals screened during their concerts.

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Low “I Could Live in Hope” (1994)

Low is undoubtely one of the most solid acts coming from 90’s alternative rock, with a very intense live activity and 12 records published as of today.

I Could Live in Hope is the beginning of everything, the first album released by Low and the undisputed symbol of the slowcore subgenre, which is essentially early post-rock with a very sad and slow overall mood and some grunge-y recalls. Needless to say this record is a beautiful journey across grey landscapes made of intense guitar intersections, strong basslines and suggestive male and female vocal parts with introspective lyrics.

ICLIH is essentially the portrait of an american generation that shows all its fragilities and uncertainities through sad melodies and verses like “If you see my daughter don’t tell her I’m scared” (Fear) or “Hearing only yourself you wait for the truth, how can you get it When all you do Is slide?”  (Slide).

It is the perfect soundtrack for a melancholic moment and the best antitode to turn it into a reflective one: If you close your eyes while Lullaby or Lazy are playing in your headphones you might be able to fall into the deepness of your calm and forget all the rest.

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Tortoise “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” (1996)

Formed in Chicago at the end of the 80’s, Tortoise is one of the most eclectic, versatile and innovative names in the whole post-rock universe and this album is probably the best way to get into their weird world if you’ve never heard of them before.

This work is also know for the introduction of the guitrist David Pajo (already founding member of Slint) and for the story of its composition made during a 10 days retreat in Northern Vermont.

The way Tortoise explore different musical genres and cultures is highly impressive, mixing instrumental rock and almost jazz rhythmic sections, with electronic glitches, fusion, krautrock, baroque music and even world music recalls like the marimbas and the mallet percussions on the monumental Djent, which is an admirable example of experimentation.

But Tortoise’s music is not only unconventional and strange, the band is absolutely able to create beautiful melodic sections like the unforgettable guitar lines on Glass Museum, one of their most love tracks and a real jewel of contemporary rock.

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Mogwai “Mogwai Young Team” (1997)

I honestly doubt that this scottish band needs any kind of introduction since they are, alongside Sigur Ros, one of the biggest names of the whole post-rock movement, giving the genre a worlwide notoriety also across more mainstream channels.

Mogwai Young Team is the band’s debut album, and shares with the world an absolute genuine explosion of feelings across emotional instrumental passages a la GY!BE with spoken words (Tracy), post-hardcore dissonances (Like Herold), heavy sections (Summer) and positive alternative rock vibes with somehting similiar to Smashing Pumpkins (Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home).

The strong dynamic between soft sections and heay passages is very impressive and gives a rare to hear intense charge to this album, making the experience crushing and cinematic. The climax is probably concentrated in the final Mogwai Fear Satan which is a colossal 16 minutes tracks with an incredibly strong impact and charge, so intense that they still play it at the end of their sets after more than 20 years.

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Codeine “Frigid Stars” (1991)

With Low, Codeine is definitely another foundamental name regarding the slowcore subgenre.

Formed in 1989, they have been a short lived project with only two album realsed of which this is the first.

Even if the overall mood is certainly slow and melancholic, there is for sure a very explosive Swans inspired component, especially in guitar distortions and dissonances that definitely makes this record strong and solid. The album moves across different sections including heavy parts with open chords as well as more intimate folk-inspired interludes with guitar and vocals.

The post-rock is also particulary evident in a few melodic moments such as the whole song New Years, that contains all the elements that belongs to the post-rock genre also in its more modern variant.

Schoepenauer wrote that life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom, i would say that Frigid Stars is kinda doing the same but moving between depression and euphoria.

Risultato immagini per slint spiderland"

Slint “Spiderland” (1991)

One of the most iconic cult records of the whole history of rock, with an iconic cover as well.

Made of sad moments, dissonances, spoken words and heartbreaking lyrics this album is a hard to swallow pill and fully getting into it needs a small effort, but as soon as you’ve done it you’ll discover an incredible journey of sounds and emotions.

One of the things that makes this album so good is for sure the ability of switching from extremely slow and soft parts to heavy overtures mainting a dreary atmosphere. Washer is a very beautiful ballad with very intense guitar melodies that expresses fear, loss and abandonment, For Dinner… is another worth to mention episode with a very strong emotional impact. The conclusive Good Morning… Captain shows the best of the band’s heavy side with massive feedbacks and distortions.

At the guitar we find David Pajo, founding member of the band and already met on this list on Millions Now Living Will Never Die by Tortoise.

Risultato immagini per don caballero what burns"

Don Caballero “What Burns Never Returns” (1998)

If you’ve never heard this before i bet your first reaction will be totally upsetting and you’ll find many difficults to follow the music’s tempo and the instrumental interweaving.

Before it was a cool thing, Don Caballero have experimented considerably and explored new combinations outside the conventional limits imposed by rock’s rhthmyc structures giving fundamental tools to plasm the so called math rock genre.

This is the third album recorded by Don Caballero and it’s definitely one of their best ones, able to provide a wonderful melodic work clearly post-hardcore oriented despite the weird parts here and there. This should be listened from the beginning to the end as a whole experience, in a calm moment or even during a night driving.

Categories
Album Lists

10 Great records of 2019

2019 has been a year full of interesting albums and longtime comebacks from bands and artists of every kind.

This is my very first article written fot this new personal blog, said that, i think it’s important to point out that this list (and all the others that i’ll post in the future) is not intended to be a chart with a first and a last position, it’s just a selection of 10 really good 2019 albums accompanied by a short description i’d like to recommend to everyone who opens this page.

Alcest “Spiritual Instinct”

Follower of Kodama (2016), this new record is a really good comeback for the french duo leaded by Neige and it’s the first one released by the colossal metal label Nuclear Blast; But beside that it dosen’t show big changes in the band’s sound and the fewest new things are all well managed like the heavy distortions that recalls a really massive post-metal sound in the vein of Neurosis and Russian Circles balanced with super rock Emma Ruth Rundle-like moments (Sapphire is the best example and it shows an almost perfect and genuine songwriting).

It’s always good to see projects that started from the very underground like Alcest getting always bigger and mainting a very honest and coherent artistic identity.

American Football “LP3”

With a strong excitement from the band’s die hard fans, the new American Football’s wait has been undoubtely worth. Anticipated by the hypnotic Unconfortably Numb with the special contribution of Hayley Williams from Paramore, the album gives the same relaxed, sleepy and emotional atmosphere of this single track for its whole duration. Beautiful, thirlling, quite and very intense, perfect to enjoy during a train/car/whatever travel when it’s dark outside.

Blanck Mass “Animated Violence Mind”

With its weird aesthetic, the new Black Mass’ album is a disturbing travel across very catchy tunes and more aggressive outbursts. Love is Parasite’s videoclip is a true gem of weirdness and its scenes seems taken from David Lynch or David Cronenberg’s movies accompanied by perfectly crafted melodies.

Giving a listen to this albums means diving into a very eclectic electronic sound that switches from EBM moments with harsh screams to piano driven cinematic soundscapes with overwhelming singing (listen to House vs House if you want a proof of what i’m saying).

Blood Incantation “Hidden History of the Human Race”

If the previous Starspawn was one of the most well realized extreme metal albums of the last 5 years (and believe me it was), with this new one the four piece band from Denver has been able to reach a higher level with impeccable songwriting and hypnotic passages. The heavy parts still shows a massive and almost perfect approach to guitar driven outburst, but with a totally unique taste for experimentation. The whole album sounds like a cosmic trip across astral planes in a semiconscious state.

A special mention goes also to the cover art by 70’s painter Bruce Pennington that gives the album a sci-fi and Philip K.Dick-esque aesthetic (interesting fact – there are two other albums around using this cover: Agony’s Apocalyptic Dawing and Alec Empire’s Hypermodern Jazz 2000.5, both released in 1995).

Elizabeth Colour Wheel “Nocebo”

After a series of really interesting minor releases, the US based 5 piece band has finally released their debut album Nocebo, one of the most interesting rock albums of the outgoing year.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel is with no doubt one of that bands that sounds like nothing else already existing with a unique formula made of shoegaze sparks, noise rock outbursts, metal oriented parts with fast drumming, slow heavy passages and cinematic epicity. If you want to hear explosive guitar distortion accompanied by a unique and super flexible female vocal work you’re going to discover one of your next favourite bands and albums.

Liturgy “H.A.Q.Q.”

Here we go, it’s been 4 years from The Ark Work’s release and the quartet from Brooklyn leaded by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is finally back with another impressive record. Even if a first listen will suggest a comeback to the roots this is not entirely true, for sure black metal screams are back and many atmospheres from the Aesthetica/Renihlation period can be felt, but the fine use of electronica made of glitches and MIDI sounds started with the Ark Work is still present and it’s perfectly matched with the rest.

Also the massive use of classical instruments such as harp, strings and piano (there are even some exotic instruments like hichiriki and ryuteki) takes Liturgy’s music to another level of high quality composition exploring new musical horizons and strange a-rhythmic sections accompanied by the usual philosophical tables and concepts that makes the “Liturgy experience” so characteristic.

DIIV “Deceiver”

After two almost perfect albums was not so easy to make a new record on the same level, but the new Deceiver is without any doubt a strong confirmation of the band’s ability to write impeccable songs.

Following the usual direction halfway between shoegaze and post-punk this release is a pure concentration of 90’s alternative rock euphoria, from the harsh pop lines of Skin Game to the beautiful melodies sorrounded by fuzzy soundscapes of Lorelei. DIIV also confirms their impressive ability to switch from massive bass driven fast parts to slow and dreamy moments full of chrystalline guitars and ambient backgrounds.

If you don’t know this band and you’re into My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth or The Cure you should definitely take a listen to all their three albums.

Ştiu Nu Ştiu “Sick Sad Love”

Dark, sad, hypnotic and gloom are just a few ways to describe the incredible experience offered by this album entitled Sick Sad Love which is an overwhelming experience across the sound of madness and melancholy.

The band, Ştiu Nu Ştiu, is an obscure and underrated project from Sweden crafting a very original sound that takes inspiration from post-punk, darkwave, gothic rock and a few metal moments taken on a very high level. The album is a true hidden gem and it’s full of very various but always impressive songs, check the incredibly beautiful post-rock melodies of Sick Sad Love, the hypnotic heaviness of Sibirien or the massive experimentation of Slack Fyrarna to get an anticipation of the whole experience, you’ll find some of the most intense and well made songs recorded in 2019 you could listen to.

Of course also the rest of the discography is highly recommended to check, there are two other impressive album on the same level of this new one out there.

Sadistik “Haunted Gardens”

With his very unique experimental hip-hop, Sadistik (stage name of Cody Foster) has always been one of the most interesting and talented outputs offered by the genre.
This new Haunted Gardens is a beautiful mix of dreamy and depressing atmospheres with poetical lyrics, fast rapping and aggressive beats.

The instrumental work is nearly perfect, confirming this album as one of the most intense things released this year you could find out (try 8/12 or Pet Sematary if you wanna drown into synth layers), and if you listen to it with lights off and calm around it will swallow your heart.

Lyrics are also incredibly well made offering very emotional, reflective and mindblowing verses:

“A thousand people surround us inside of me’s only lonely
The fireflies used to visit to sit on my skin I miss it
When mystery dissipated you drifted into the distance” (taken from the song Eden)

Drab Majesty “Modern Mirror”

The previous The Demonstration has been my absolute favourite album released in 2017 and impressed me with its synthwave perfection; well, the new Modern Mirror is another masterpiece, confirming the direction of the previous record adding a distinctive dramatic emphasis to the slower moments (Oxtocyn, Noise of the Void) and addictive vocal lines impossible to forget in a very 80’s way (The Other Side, Elipsis).

The Los Angeles-based duo is showing album by album an unbelievable ability to create with its music a dreamy place where guitar and synth lines are perfectly merged as one, combining flanger arpeggios and spacey catchy melodies as a unique breathaking and chilling experience.