As a whole, this may be one of the better albums released this year and a great find for those who enjoy industrial/ambient.
New Risen Throne – Loneliness of Hidden Structures
To be honest, if you’re not a fan of the style, this record will feel boring and empty. Even when compared to some other acts in the genre it’s fairly boring. However, it has that rare subtle, calculated brilliancy to it that only a few acts, such as Kammarheit or Tholen, can pull off: this is minimal dark ambient done properly.
Vortex – Rockdrill
After listening to this for a few minutes it is readily apparent that Rockdrill is a good fit at Cyclic Law. The vibe of the music recollects something perilously mysterious of deeply ancient and organic origin; I find myself constantly getting mental images of primordial human plight. Fans of industrial-tinged dark ambient (with a pinch of neofolk) should really like this one.
Kabutogani – Bektop
This is the type of thing that masquerades under the guise of being slick & artsy, and the naysayers just “don’t get it”. The only thing to ‘get’ here is that “Bektop” is the lazy result of throwing a whole bunch of rough, directionless sketches onto a CD and thinking that because it’s annoying and hard to listen to that it is inherently ‘artistic’ and ‘deep’.
Ametsub – The Nothings of the North
Ametsub creates very subdued soundscapes comprising of choppy bits of future jazz, complex melodies, fuzzy atmospheres, a plethora of pops & clicks, and IDM sentiments. It’s certainly unobtrusive and easy to listen to, but it’s also quite deep and complex should you take the time to delve further into it.
The PCP Principle – Rhythmus Ex Heretica
There are two main elements to this recording – crunchy noise beats and symphonic melodies – and no matter how you slice it, they simply don’t fit together that easily. Each aspect is done well on its on, but the jarring juxtaposition is too radical to be particularly likable. If you’ve always wanted to hear Final Fantasy sped up and set to fast-paced rhythmic noise, your opportunity has come at last.
Caithness – Apostasy and the Sorrowful Child
“Apostasy and the Sorrowful Child” is a melodic, modern classical-influenced slab of dark ambient. I find that the melodic elements are both this album’s strength and weakness. They work to build up a strong atmosphere and give this a specialized flavor, yet at the same time they have a tendency to fall into the tacky and/or bombastic category.
Wolfskin / Last Industrial Estate – Stonegates of Silence
While these tracks are composed predominately of heavy, flowing drones and dense, crushing atmospheres, this is certainly not your run-of-the-mill one-drone-for-ten-minutes type of album.
Persona – Ruïnes
On this lengthy record Persona attempts folk, martial, dark ambient, neo-classical and even power electronics – and finds success with none of them. Nonetheless, I give this band credit for trying to mix so many styles, often two or three per song. Although some interesting elements make an appearance here, especially the neofolk-ish instrumentation, as a whole, Persona is unable to craft memorable, finished-sounding tracks.
Hall of Mirrors – Forgotten Realm
Sound-wise, “Forgotten Realm” is a dark, etho-ambient record that is a bit reminiscent of Steve Roach, Alio Die, or some Robert Rich. The album art provides a fitting visual representation of the contents of this record: evocative soundscapes that bring to mind exploring ruined jungle temples and the rites of the forgotten primeval tribe who built them.