I am near 100 (mostly heavy) vinyl records in my collection and reviewing them all is simply not possible with a couple of records being added every month. The second issue is, that a lot of records I own are either older or have been reviewed to death already. I still feel a couple of them are noteworthy. So I am going to review them three at a time in shorter reviews. Enjoy!
Agalloch – The Mantle
With the sad news of Agalloch splitting up earlier in May it felt natural to begin this series with a review of the reissue of their second LP “The Mantle”. This version is considered a bootleg as the license with the label “Grau” had already expired when the reissue was released. This apparently has been resolved but there is no source for that. Nevertheless, this re-issue of “The Mantle” is a true beauty. The thick gatefold is of very high quality and comes with printed record sleeves, where one can find the lyrics, and a poster of the album cover. The records are 180g clear/white vinyl and look amazing to say the least. They fit perfectly with the black/white theme of the album art. As we have an “unofficial” release here, one might worry about the sound quality. Well, it’s the other way round. The sound is perfect, crisp and much less compressed than the CD version. “Grau” apparently used the original master to make this reissue. Agalloch‘s critically acclaimed LP is an amazing album with a lot to discover. If you get a chance to grab a “Grau” reissue – go for it.
Ahab – The Boats of Glen Carrig
Ahab is a funeral doom band from Germany and at least to me, one of the best bands of their respective genre. While they struggled especially with clear vocals in the past, their penultimate release “The Giant” set the course in the right direction. “The Boats of Glen Carrig” is the natural evolution of their sound and Ahab delivered a funeral doom masterpiece. The gatefold is rather thick but a bit wavy due to being glued together badly. The biggest plus: Finally a release which includes anti-static record sleeves. The records are 180g black vinyl without blemish. The whole release is quite colorful and the amazing album cover would have made a great poster. Unfortunately there’s none included. The vinyl version has a rather high FDR Rating and sounds great. I still recommend listening to this on higher volume as the true beauty is the contrast between the clear, melodic and harsh parts. The latter sound like rumbling waves nearing your position before crashing down with full force. If you’re into funeral doom and don’t know Ahab yet, this is an album to begin with.
Kuolemanlaakso – Uljas uusi maailma
Last but not least, a mini-review of the debut album of a band I just discovered a couple of month ago. Kuolemanlaakso is a finnish death-doom band and “Uljas uusi maailma” their debut album. Kuolemanlaakso means death valley and is apparently a real place on the island of Vallisaari near Helsinki. The album was released via Svart Records as a single LP in a gatefold. The paper they used for the gatefold is not that thick but different. It is a lot more durable and you can bend it without taking damage. The first sleeve of gatefold contains the LP in a simple black paper jacket and the second one contains a booklet with the lyrics in finnish and english. What I found surprising is, that the record is way thinner than the now-standard 180g releases. I have a few of them in my collection but this LP feels more like records from the last century as it is way more flexible. This says nothing about the quality, still a unusual on newer releases. The music sounds like a big part Barren Earth, some Swallow the Sun and a hint of early Finntroll mixed in a blender combined with a huge part of originality. The sound quality is good although not excellent but sounds a hell lot better than the Spotify version. They are still up and coming so if you like the music support the band on facebook!
A in-depth review of the Record Store Day reissue of Dark Tranquillity’s fantastic album “Fiction”
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