Album Review – Halcyon Reign / The Voyage (2019)

Dealing with the metaphoric beasts we all hide from, the debut album by this Australian trio will take you on a theatrical journey through the realms of prog.

Formed in 2016 in the city of Sydney, Australia, a Progressive Metal three-piece act that goes by the name of Halcyon Reign has just released their debut opus entitled The Voyage, offering the listener a prog feast recommended for fans of iconic bands such as Mastodon, Twelve Foot Ninja and Karnivool. Recorded and mixed by Adam Jordan at Main Street Studios, mastered by Don Bartley  at Benchmark Mastering, and featuring an interesting album art by Edi Udo at Edi Udo Illustrations, which seems to be a tribute to Mastodon’s Leviathan and Gojira’s From Mars to Sirius (and I’m pretty sure those are two of the band’s main influences), The Voyage deals with the metaphoric beasts we all hide from, with those theatrical beastly metaphors being embraced by an atmospheric, intricate and groovy sound blasted by lead singer and guitarist Lachlan Arvidson, bassist Luke Delbridge and drummer Simon Bowles, resulting in a fresh, full-bodied experience for any type of metalhead in search for a good balance between heaviness and creativity.

Emerging from the underworld of prog, the band comes ripping in the opening track ‘Welcome Reality’, a multi-layered musical journey through the realms of Progressive Metal where Lachlan’s classic metal vocals match the music perfectly, not to mention the great job done by Luke with his thunderous bass lines, feeling like a hybrid of Mastodon and Tool. Then a serene intro evolves into an even more progressive and intricate creation by the trio titled The Kraken, with Simon bringing a blend of Progressive, Doom and Heavy Metal with his beats while Lachlan fires his slashing riffs and potent vocals nonstop. Moreover, this great tune is full of breaks and variations, with its mesmerizing instrumental ending being tailored for admirers of the genre. And Peleliu is another classy composition by Halcyon Reign, showcasing the duo Lachlan and Luke in absolute sync with their stringed weapons, supported by Simon’s spot-on beats. Alternating between heavier and more complex moments and gentle, melancholic passages, the final result gets close to that sonic extravaganza the one and only Dream Theather enjoy doing all the time.

If you think The Voyage has been beyond amazing so far, get ready for almost ten minutes of dense, top-of-the-line metal music in Beyond The Cape, where Lachlan sounds at the same time delicate and infuriated on vocals. Furthermore, Luke and Simon make the earth tremble with their respective beats and bass punches, and they keep pounding their weapons with tons of precision and feeling until the song’s epic and enthralling finale. After such lecture in Progressive Metal, an atmospheric, futuristic bridge named Last Horizon sets the stage for the trio to shine once again in the title-track The Voyage, bringing to our ears and minds more of their beautifully crafted music, uniting progressiveness and heaviness in great fashion. Not only the sound of guitars and bass will pierce your ears mercilessly, but the music also brings hints of Sludge Metal to the band’s core essence, and that healthy amalgamation of styles makes the song feel like two or three songs in one, with the three band member jamming freely and stunningly until all fades into a space void.

The past decade has been more than just great for heavy music from Down Under, with countless excellent groups like Halcyon Reign showing the world everything they got, and if you want to show your support to this up-and-coming Australian triumvirate of Progressive Metal you can purchase The Voyage from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music, from Amazon or from CD Baby, as well as listen to the album in full on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook, therefore joining Lachlan, Luke and Simon on their theatrical trek through space and progressive lands and, of course, inspiring them to keep delivering first-class metal music for all of us lovers of the underground scene.

Best moments of the album: The Kraken and Beyond The Cape.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. ‘Welcome Reality’ 6:14
2. The Kraken 8:18
3. Peleliu 5:09
4. Beyond The Cape 9:15
5. Last Horizon 1:27
6. The Voyage 7:28

Band members
Lachlan Arvidson – vocals, guitars
Luke Delbridge – bass
Simon Bowles – drums, vocals

Album Review – Illimitable Dolor / Leaden Light (2019)

Drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, the new album by this Australian-based unity is an ambitious ode to all things doom.

New South Wales, Australia-based Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal masters Illimitable Dolor return from the darkest corners of the earth after the release of their highly acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2017 with a brand new opus, entitled Leaden Light, carrying on where they last left, drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, sounding purer, more refined and clearer in expression than before, and lingering for long in your thoughts. With three artworks made by Indonesian artist Varises Otak for the CD, LP and box set editions exclusively (with layout and design by Australian graphic designer Pat Di Palo), this is an ambitious release from the band that features some of the best music in the style without overdoing any aspect of it.

Formed in 2014 in the city of Sydney, the band comprised of Stuart Prickett (The Slow Death, Horrisonous) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Yonn McLaughlin (The Slow Death, Nazxul) on drums and vocals, Dan Garcia (The Slow Death) and Mat V. Newton (Lycanthia) on the guitars, Gavin Collison on bass and Guy Moore (Elysium) on keyboards offers in Leaden Light a raw and obscure fusion of Atmospheric Doom and Death Metal with Funeral Doom, influenced by renowned acts such as Skepticism, My Dying Bride and Officium Triste, beign therefore recommended for admirers of the music by Mournful Congregation, Evoken, The Slow Death and Chalice of Suffering, among others. Containing five extremely detailed, mournful and lengthy songs in the span of over 51 minutes, Leaden Light is not an easy listen for the lighthearted, consuming your soul and inviting you to join the band in darkness for all eternity.

A thunderstorm warns the listener darkness is upon us, before Yonn and his sluggish beats together with Guy’s phantasmagorical keys invade our senses in Armed He Brings The Dawn, showcasing a dense and heavy atmosphere from start to finish while Stuart vociferates the song’s Stygian words deeply through his low-tuned, devilish gnarls. In addition, the music flows like a river of darkness, alternating between purely somber passages and more piercing sounds, embracing the listener majestically. Soil She Bears is just as damned, lugubrious and grim as its predecessor, with deep and visceral roars permeating the air while the keys by Guy keep the ambience truly menacing. Not only that, Gavin and Yonn bring heaviness to the musicality with their respective punches and beats, dragging you to the bitterly cold crypts of the underworld.

Horses Pale And Four continues form where the previous song ended, building momentum and aiming at reaching a climatic stage where all instruments are darkly connected, with Stuart’s growls and the band’s guitar triumvirate’s riffs complementing each other flawlessly. Put differently, this is a bold and enfolding display of Atmospheric Doom Metal spiced up by Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Doom nuances tailored for lovers of the genre. Then the serene, melancholic piano notes by Guy kick off the utterly doomed and depressive Leaden Light Her Coils, where the guitars by Stuart, Dan and Mat feel like a delicate but extremely sharp knife cutting our skin deep. Furthermore, its rhythm is beyond mesmerizing, and you’ll certainly be stunned by how grandiose their music can be, with Guy, Gavin and Yonn giving a lecture in Doom Metal with their slow, steady and reverberating tones. And last but not least, the sextet morphs into their most Atmospheric Black Metal mode possible in 2.12.14 (which is probably the date when the band was created), feeling very touching, ethereal and melancholic, with Stuart, Dan and Mat taking the lead with their gentle guitar lines, followed by Yonn’s precise beats and all other grim instruments and sounds until the song’s dense ending.

As already mentioned, Leaden Light, available in full on Spotify, might not be an easy listen at first for the average rock fan, but it’s definitely worth a shot and a fantastic introduction to the world of modern-day Atmospheric Death and Doom Metal. Hence, you can show your true support to such idiosyncratic entity hailing from Australia by following them on Facebook, and specially by grabbing your copy of Leaden Light from several locations like their own BandCamp page or the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in the US or in Europe (where by the way you can still purchase the beyond special gold CD or LP box sets), as well as from iTunes or Amazon. In other words, succumb to the most lugubrious side of music by joining Illimitable Dolor in pitch black darkness, and may your life be doomed forever and ever to the sound of their classy and extremely somber music.

Best moments of the album: Horses Pale And Four and Leaden Light Her Coils.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Armed He Brings The Dawn 14:50
2. Soil She Bears 7:18
3. Horses Pale And Four 11:27
4. Leaden Light Her Coils 13:48
5. 2.12.14 4:27

Band members
Stuart Prickett – guitars, vocals, keyboards
Dan Garcia – guitars
Mat V. Newton – guitars
Gavin Collison – bass
Guy Moore – keyboards
Yonn McLaughlin – drums