Towards the end of 2016, Canadian doom merchants The White Swan unleashed their debut EP. Although just offering the discerning riff-junkie just three tracks, on ‘Anubis’, Mercedes Lander and her crew of heavyweight sludge lovers proved that quality always wins out over quality. Between the band’s own ‘Blood’ – a perfect fusion of heaviness and an odd, treacly psychedelia – and the heaviest version of Wings’ ‘Jet’ ever – hearing is believing – the release was an instant classic. Several months on, their eagerly awaited follow up doesn’t so much pick up where the previous tracks left off, but tries its utmost to smash the previous efforts into smithereens [in this case, meaning a thousand pieces; at no point do The White Swan attempt to put their heaviest stamp upon anything written by Pat DiNizio, but it might be a fun idea…]
It very much seemed that by the end of 2016 there were very few places across the globe that hadn’t been affected by a plague of black metal. Bands were springing up in some very unlikely places and seemingly on a weekly basis. No longer just the product of various Scandinavian territories and a few other places, for such a niche genre, black metal seemed to be big business (relatively speaking, of course). While many bands seemed happy to screech and hiss their way down a familiar path, there genre still had other avenues to explore.
Hungary’s Sin of God play straight up death metal. With no tricks and very little fusion, most of the time these guys play pure death metal the way you liked it (or not) in the early 90s. Their 2016 release ‘Aenigmata’ is a good step forward production-wise from 2012’s ‘Limbus’ – the drums are much tougher and heavier sounding, while the riffs have more bottom end – but, essentially, it brings more of the same as before. If you like your death metal in a largely traditional style, this mightn’t be a bad thing.
In March 2017, we created a playlist of some of our favourite 70s tunes. In an effort to shake up our spare time listening, the playlist included none of the usual stapes. There were no tracks by Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy or Led Zeppelin and yet we still managed to create a golden listening experience spanning several hours.
The experience got us thinking. What if we were to create extensive playlists of music we liked – or maybe brought back fond memories – for each year of the decade? Would one year stand out above all others? With this remit and using only two or three tracks per chosen album (maybe stretching to one extra in the instance of a double platter), we set to work.
Summer in Finland is short. Very short, apparently. Maybe that’s why this band have chosen a moniker that at once conjures images of nature, only to couple the pastoral visions with the idea of something lacking. There’s no babbling brook here, no salmon leaping…just emptiness. It’s the near perfect choice of name as it turns out, as an empty brook suggests dashing hopes. Maybe it’s those dashed hopes that have made these four Finns so scathing, since Emptybrook’s music attacks with a scowl, a hardened vocal and an echoing reverb that’s deeply unnerving.