Album Review – Lascar / Saudade (2017)

Blending modern elements of extreme music with feelings of loss, fragility and desperation, this one-man band from Chile offers us a unique interpretation of the apparent conflict on the naturalistic experience.

Hailing from the alluring city of Santiago, the capital of the mighty Republic of Chile, here comes a Post-Black Metal one-man army that goes by the name of Lascar, who since 2014 has been delivering truly captivating music by blending modern elements of extreme music with feelings of loss, fragility and desperation, offering a unique interpretation of the apparent conflict on the naturalistic experience. After the releases of the demos Lascar (2014) and Depths (2015), followed by the band’s debut full-length album Absence (2016), it’s time for Lascar, the brainchild of Chilean multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Hugo, to mesmerize us once again with beautiful Atmospheric Black Metal in the full-length opus Saudade, a Spanish word that can be translated as “yearning” or “nostalgia” (albeit there’s no specific word for it in English), implying a sense of abandon and a nostalgic mourning manifested within an artistic environment.

The opening track, entitled Tender Glow, is Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest, bringing forward a bucolic start with the sound of the guitar thoroughly blended with the wind while the music remains gloomy, desperate and anguished at all times thanks to the demonic gnarls by Gabriel, who effectively vociferates the song’s poetry-like lyrics (“The sun expands through the morning air / with its astral constant energy. / Ornaments of ice melts / through the cracks of crystal moments in an hyperbole. / A heartbeat rumble through a fragile atmosphere. / Echoes of lost dreams trespassing the ethereal. / Seasons of purple blossoms falling through the hands of time. / Ornaments of ice melts / through the cracks of crystal moments in an hyperbole.”). Thin Air continues from where the first song ended, impregnating the air with visceral blast beats, old school Black Metal riffs and tons of agony and melancholy, resulting in a wall of dark sounds built up by several distinct layers that will crush your soul mercilessly. Furthermore, Gabriel keeps growling like an uncanny entity until a gentle break brings some peace to our minds, with this paradox of negative emotions and gentle sounds being absolutely fantastic.

The third track of the album, Uneven Alignment, couldn’t start in a more melancholic manner, with its smooth sounds and nuances mesmerizing our senses before Gabriel returns with his visceral roars and frantic drums. Put differently, this is a solid and beautiful depiction of modern Black Metal with Gabriel taking us all on a whimsical journey through the obscure realms of Lascar. And lastly, the acoustic guitar by Gabriel kicks off the final breath of Post-Black Metal in Saudade, a 14-minute aria named Bereavement, showcasing all elements from Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal fused with traditional Doom and Black Metal, with devastation and despair flowing from all instruments from start to finish, therefore ending the album on the highest note imaginable.

It’s quite difficult to express in just a few lines what the music by Lascar truly represents, which means that, if I were you, I would definitely go take a very detailed and focused listen at Saudade in its entirety on YouTube, as well as follow Lascar on Facebook. Hence, in case Saudade has all the elements you’re searching for in obscure extreme music, you can purchase a copy of the album at Lascar’s BandCamp page, at the ATMF’s BandCamp page or webstore (as a regular CD, a regular LP, or a collector’s edition translucid purple vinyl LP with white speckles), at the Throne Records’ webstore or at Discogs. The feeling of loss followed by a strong and deep sense of yearning might not be something easy to deal with inside ourselves, but with the lugubrious music by Lascar as the soundtrack at least we have a very good reason to let those feelings and thoughts consume our minds in the darkest way possible.

Best moments of the album: Thin Air and Bereavement.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 A Sad Sadness Song

Track listing
1. Tender Glow 10:25
2. Thin Air 8:49
3. Uneven Alignment 8:34
4. Bereavement 14:25

Band members
Gabriel Hugo – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Ghost Horizon / The Erotics of Disgust EP (2017)

Four distinct compositions that will pierce into your mind and soul in a beautiful way, brought forth by a musician that definitely knows how to transform his deepest feelings into great music.

If you’re an admirer of the most obscure and melancholic forms of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal, I have some very good news for you. Critically acclaimed Post-Black Metal act Ghost Horizon is back with a brand new EP, titled The Erotics of Disgust, a follow-up (but with a considerably different sounding) to the band’s previous EP Astral Possessions, released in 2016.  This time around, this Phoenix-based project consists of founder Dan Stollings on vocals and all stringed instruments, and newcomer “Frog” Magus (Norse) on drums, who together brought into being four distinct compositions that will pierce into your soul and crush your feelings in a beautiful way.

Dan commented that the EP “has been waiting in the darkness for quite a while now – it’s been completed for months. It’s been hard to let this EP into the world, because in a lot of ways, I’m sharing some pretty deep emotions that I would never talk about otherwise. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in the process of its creation, and I think that’s reflected pretty heavily in the music. The decision to do the vocals myself was also a part of this realization that in order to portray exactly what I’m thinking, I need to use my own voice. Nothing on this album is perfect. I didn’t want it to be perfect. At first I went into writing with the mentality that this will be the best produced thing I’ve ever done, but after finishing the vocals, I realized this thing needs to be raw. And so it was.” After reading such powerful words by Dan, I’m sure you’re more than curious to listen to The Erotics of Disgust, but once again let me warn you that the music might be too dark for the average listener.

Radiant Eyes presents an introspective beginning for this new phase of Ghost Horizon, gradually morphing into a dark amalgamation of Blackened Doom and Post-Black Metal with hints of progressiveness enhancing the song’s depressive sonority. Moreover, “Frog” Magus does an amazing job on drums, maintaining the song’s dense rhythm flowing smoothly. In So Hollow, not only Dan surprises us with his clean vocals supported by a gentle ambience, but the song’s lyrics also prove that he’s definitely a skillful poet of darkness (“You can take it all / Everything we know / You can break it all / You chose a path I cannot follow / You left a heart in me so hollow / Changing skies above / Breaking hearts below / On again / True love / Off again / Bruised love”). This is modern and gripping Atmospheric Black Metal that brings at the same time peace and hopelessness to our hearts, making us eager for more of the music by Ghost Horizon.

Following a similar pattern to the previous song, This Forever Flow also presents delicate guitars and bass lines together with the Doom Metal-inspired beats by “Frog”, with its last piece getting heavier due to the harsh growls by Dan without losing its core subtlety. Besides, how not to get touched by its profound lyrics (“Fading from my heart is the will to be one / Fear in my words – last words to my love / Fire fading quickly, your lips have left me cold / The ending of a romance with the ending left untold”)? Lastly, featuring guitarist and composer Tyler Allen on guest vocals, Ghost Horizon deliver a full-bodied darkened composition bursting with anguish, despair and melancholy entitled Whispers, with its Black Metal riffs and blast beats bringing an extra dosage of obscurity to the overall musicality. In my humble opinion, it’s the best and most complete of the four songs of the EP, the type of music I would like to see Dan explore even more with his future releases.

In summary, although many people have a lot of difficulties to talk about their deepest feelings, it seems that Dan has simply mastered how to express his own feelings through the music by Ghost Horizon. However, you have to be very open-minded and absorb each second of The Erotics of Disgust in order to fully understand the whole message delivered by Dan this time, letting your mind and soul minutely merge with the music found on this fine album. And you can always get to know Ghost Horizon in more detail through their Facebook page and listen to their music on Spotify, as well as purchase your copy of The Erotics of Disgust on BandCamp, at the Tridroid Records’ webshop, on Cd Baby, on Amazon or on iTunes. The Erotics of Disgust is certainly not Dan’s last stint with his Ghost Horizon, which means there’s still a lot to come from such distinct act, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Best moments of the album: Whispers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Radiant Eyes 4:11
2. So Hollow 4:05
3. This Forever Flow 5:01
4. Whispers 4:34

Band members
Dan Stollings – all stringed instruments, vocals
“Frog” Magus – drums

Guest musician
Tyler Allen – additional vocals on “Whispers”