February will see the release of Ontario artist, Herr Nox’s second album, Where Shadows Fade. Nox explained to us about his style, “I find myself (going) into strange musical territories. Too heavy for some, too soft to others. But I try to venture into more experimental waters so I guess that’s expected“.

HERR NOX

Welcome to “Doomsday“, which is the first track off the album and our introduction to Norwegian, Jørgen Munkeby on saxophone. Have to admit sax has never sounded so smooth to me until now. Munkeby for the record is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist as well as a singer, songwriter and producer in both the jazz and metal scenes.

Where Shadows Fade” is not only the title track but also the first single to be released and quite deserving so. Munkeby’s saxophone delightfully duels with the guitar in the interludes, especially helping build up the tension for Nox to hit you with his vocals.

Old school new romantic synth graces us in “Black Butterfly“. Nox partners up with Lindsay Schoolcraft of Cradle Of Filth fame for a song about falling for the type of girl who is broken and yet still beautiful. The music goes between driving guitar rock and synth wave but it works so well.

Just the very title of the song, “The Art Of Noise And Silence“, struck as something Japan could have written in the 80’s and it does not disappoint, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Schoolcraft’s beautiful vocals fly above all else, almost unearthly and angelic, whilst the guitars and synths are a cacophony below. This might make the near beseeching Herr Nox, the velvet tongued devil.

It had to happen, the sleazy, sexy sax intro. “Gotta Light?” has that intro and this is an instrumental piece featuring the talent of Munkeby with the sax front and centre, making you think of Casablanca style, cocktail bars, low lit with a haze of cigarette smoke.

Would you “Kiss The Butcher’s Hand” and give them your neck? Maybe some souls would. A good high paced rock’n’roll number that makes great use of lulls for Nox to seductively whisper to you before knocking you back on your arse.

Heads Will Roll” is a much heavier number, growled out vocals by Nox with Schoolcraft in sweet accompaniment. That line alone conjures visions of Alice in Wonderland and her nemesis the Red Queen.

The last offering is “The Burning” and it starts with a sombre cello, joined by strings which brings in the drums and wonderful jangly guitar. Herr Nox most certainly had a flare for the dramatic as this quickly graduates into an episodical that soars with emotion. There are always electronic bits popping up where you might not expect it, which is delightful.

I hear so many influences within this album. Nox’s style of singing runs the gauntlet of David Bowie, Davey Havok (AFI) and Ville Valo, yet it is still very much him singing.

There are classical leanings, rock and roll, gothic rock, 80s electronica and even a bit of glam, all stirred in to make this a rather tasty affair. Where Shadows Fade is new and yet it borrows and reshapes the past influences into something exciting and not a rehash, so I hope you find some time to indulge in Herr Nox as it is worth your time.

https://herrnox.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.facebook.com/Herrnoxofficial/

From the Ukraine, hails the band Mirratal. Since 2013, these guys have been honing their skills by releasing singles and E.P’s but now have unleased their debut album, “Castaway”. These natives of Kyiv describe their style as progressive symphonic metal.

“Abyss Of Lunacy” begins with an actual real cello playing which is really nice to hear instead of the normal computer generated classical instruments which can be very prevalent in this genre of music. The frentic cello is the intro of a band about to give us a really big sound and then the blast beats of the drum kick in. This is a powerful first song with nice harmonizing and a good use of creepy whispering as well as play off solo’s of guitar and synth. They even managed to fit in a choir behind. This has started well.

Then next song has a hail of guitar before the synths break through. The lead, Igor Roshenets doesn’t sound like Vile Valo but something is the way he sings makes me think of him. Maybe it is the passion he sings “Poison” and other songs. I really like the slightly middle eastern sound they incorporate into this and yet there is much wailing guitar.

With the title “Timeless Sea”, you expect a more sedate piece, an oboe wistfully plays and some fellow is talking about psychology…… and then…. it goes full bore. No taking it easy for these guys. This is pretty deep talking about multiverses and time beyond us all that is the endless journey to this timeless sea.

Duelling synths and guitar of Andrii Pavlenko and Sergii Stygar respectively, mark the beginning of “Distinguished Phrases”. Then Roshenets wastes no time launching himself right into the middle of the maelstrom. A song about depression brought on by the cruel words of others. This goes though lulls and then frenetic neck breaking speeds.

No fooling me this time with a nice sedate piano and violin. You know that isn’t going to last and true to form “Mystery” takes off but it is very pretty in some ways. The harmonies and the poetic lyrics though no less metal. The charged piano playing is quite delightful.

MIRRATAL

Number six has a lovely intro of classical proportions and joins with a nice clear guitar. “Find Your Name” is a duet with female singer, Kateryna Kapshuk (Scarlet) . It is one of those pieces that builds and builds apon itself, with layers of music, instruments and vocals.

Next is “Run” which evokes all sorts of ideals. Monastic choral singing with bells tolling with a provincial French over tone… getting a ‘In The Name Of The Rose’ vibe. This is a slower power number with doomsday is nigh connotations.

And so we come to the title track. They have blown me away already with the electronic beginning changing it all up. Clearly these guys like to be constantly giving themselves a challenge but by using different techniques even within the one song. This goes from power and questioning to ambient and peaceful. Of course this doesn’t last, so bring on the metal choir!

Ever feel like you are going insane but unable to tell anyone? Then you will understand “Sounds” perfectly. Was it the loss of something or someone? Love, love, love the sound of a harpsicord and it is used to blinding effect to help create that disquiet, uneasy tension. I somewhat wonder if this song is what it would be like inside the head of one Captain Jack Sparrow.

BONUS TIME!!! and last number on this album is called “The Wind”. Fabulous percussion with again that wonderful use of orchestration. This shows a great appreciation for the art of music and an ability to incorporate real symphonic instruments with metal and bring a purely instrumental piece to life.

For fans of good drumming which Sergii Ivanov delivers in spades (that guy must be so tired after shows because I felt exhausted just listening to the blast beats he was putting out} or those that really like great guitar solos or thoughtfully crafted music with a very classical grounding, then this is for you. The vocals are strong and soaring for those that want that revelling high.

This album has obviously had a lot of thought put into it by Mirratal as well as passion. This is one of the better symphonic releases in a while and I urge you to check out “Castaway”.

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