February 20, 2017

Indie Recordings roundup: Sahg, Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, and King

By Hera Vidal. Founded in Norway in 2005, Indie Recordings started as a side label for Indie Distribution, but quickly became one of the leading independent labels in Scandinavia. A major part part of their success stems from developing some of the better-known Norwegian bands - like Satyricon, Keep of Kalessin, and Sahg - into their roster
By Hera Vidal.

Founded in Norway in 2005, Indie Recordings started as a side label for Indie Distribution, but quickly became one of the leading independent labels in Scandinavia. A major part part of their success stems from developing some of the better-known Norwegian bands - like Satyricon, Keep of Kalessin, and Sahg - into their roster, but they also have signed foreign bands, such as Cult of Luna and King. Because 2016 was such a big year for metal, we will take a look at some of the major releases the label has graciously put out that year.

Artwork by Robert Høyem.

I originally wrote about Memento Mori a few months ago and decided to revisit it, since this album became one my favorites in 2016. After another few listens, I can say that Memento Mori still stands the test of time. Revisiting this album is like greeting an old friend: it reminds me of its melodic nature and how it seems to play out, to the listener’s delight. Olav Iversen’s vocals remain as mesmerizing as the first time I listened to this album in its entirety. Each time I listen to this album, there is always something new to focus, giving Memento Mori a lot of replay value. There is something beautiful in the pain the album seems to reflect, and it delivers. Given the heavy subject matter and some of the deeper themes the album focuses on, there is joy at the bottom of it all. The music seems to reflect that; even the weakest song on the album, “(Praise the) Electric Sun” is a jam, which goes to show that Memento Mori has something for everyone.



Clocking in at almost 54 minutes, Mariner is bound to make you transcend into something otherworldly. Continuing to explore impressive themes, this album is the closest thing to space exploration we have in post-metal. What I enjoy most about this album is its peculiarity. The music is majestic and slightly dissonant, reflecting the chaotic nature of space, and Julie Christmas’s voice reflects that nature just on her range alone. At first, I pegged her as another Chelsea Wolfe, but her voice is something else entirely. There is something so chilling and beautiful about her voice and how its vibrancy seems to add layers to the atmosphere the music creates. The second her vocals came in “A Greater Call”, my mind was completely blown and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. On their own, Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas already create impressive music that seems to push the borders of imagination. Together, they craft something unimaginable that cannot be put into words. Although the album may be a little difficult to get into, don’t let that deter you from listening to Mariner. It’s beautiful, dissonant, and filled with an ethereal quality that borders on terrifying.



2016 was a big year of debuts, with heavy hitters and lukewarm releases alike. Fortunately for the Australian band King, Reclaim the Darkness falls on that spectrum of great debuts. This album is blackened melodeath goodness with Satyricon-like vocals and big melodies. However, don’t let the “blackened” label fool you; there are thrash elements embedded in their guitar, showing off their musicianship and their extensive blending of various influences. The vocals are also versatile, going from your standard black metal screams to traditional Swedish melodeath tonalities. The main track especially takes cues from Swedish melodeath, and we can see that the band begins to build their own identity on those cues. What’s even better is the fact that the album has some great drum work; usually, in black metal, the drums tend to be filled with blast beats, but here they are a combination of beats, each suited to what the song needs. They are also so incredibly melodic that they are quickly becoming some of the best melodeath I have heard in recent years. I have high hopes for this band, as Reclaim the Darkness is one of the underrated gems in 2016, showing Australia’s penchant for excellent metal.

Tagged with 2016, atmospheric sludge metal, Cult of Luna, death metal, doom metal, Hera Vidal, Indie Recordings, Julie Christmas, King, melodic black metal, post-hardcore, post-metal, progressive metal, Sahg
3 comments:
  1. All three are great records although i think the quality of Christmas' vocals are really exaggerated.

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    1. Her vocals are what make the album stand out for me. I think they're far more interesting than the generic hardcore yells of the Cult of Luna vocalist.

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  2. Well, you got me there. The vocals have always been the least interesting part of C O L.

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