Ah, The Cave. The last of the metal dive bars in Amsterdam, rich in atmosphere and history. This evening saw a double headline show of Snowy Dunes and Skraeckoedlan, this review will focus on the first. I have gone on record stating my love of this Swedish band before and I was thrilled to see them live again.
Snowy Dunes was founded in 2013 and released their self-titled debut last year, to critical acclaim. A new album is forthcoming and some buzz has been generated by this month’s advance release of the Atlantis EP.
The band kicked off their set with vocalist Niklas on a bluesy mouth organ on Atlantis, a song that managed to grab the attention of the crowd immediately. The groove got turned up a notch for Watch Out, drawing the public closer to the stage. With the stage set it was time for behemoth Desert Cold, a song so great and intense it electrified the band and crowd alike. An audience recording of the performance can be watched here. At this point in the show it’s clear how much this band has grown in the past weeks of touring, they are clearly at the top of their game tonight. Turn Around is a very fine tune and it was played with a lot of heart. Tranquil Mountain Lake mesmerized the public, with a beguiling rhythm and ominous vocal work. Dawn returned the sound to a Desert vibe, before the show concluded with the preview of a new song from the upcoming album, Testify. I was already looking forward to this release very much and if this sample is anything to go by it’s going to be truly amazing.
I am sure more than a few new fans were made on the evening, it was a truly inspired performance and I feel privileged to have seen them so up close and personal in this form. The tour has almost concluded, I hope we’ll see them back on tour with the new album soon.
Watch Out For Snakes
Tranquil Mountain Lake
I first became aware of Blackwülf when I received their newest album in my bandcamp collection through my Ripple subscription. I like playing an album without any preconceptions like this, and from the first few songs Blackwülf had reeled me in. This Oakland quartet weave their 70s Sabbath-inspired riffs into a very pleasing soundscape, taking you along on their ride.
Colossus opens with a light and pleasing intro riff, shifting gears into more heavy riffage for the verse and chorus after a brief while. From the start there’s no denying the musical intentions of this band. Melodically it flows seamlessly into Memories, which really has some very intense vocal work and a nice fuzzy solo to lead out the song. Acid Reign interestingly starts with interwoven arpeggios with some echoes of Sweet Dreams of all songs, but not in an unpleasing way. The body of the song itself reminds me a lot of Mothership, who I love a lot, and this song thunders along very nicely indeed. Dark Tower is a laid-back folksy link that helps to build on the vibe of the album. The Locusts brings us back in Hard Rock territory, with a song that follows the riff-vocals-rhythm-solo-outro blueprint that is so effective and pleasing to the ear. Wings of Steel has a very strong chorus, and is a nice high-octane rocker overall with a style change halfway that helps to elevate the song to one of the best of the album. Faith Healer and Red Eyes continue on along the same vein, solid rocking songs, I particularity loved the bridge in the latter. Never Forget has an almost ominous start, continuing with the band keeping on-form with their driven playing and intense vocal work, with some rare but effective vocal harmonies. March of the Damned closes the album by evoking the Gothic proto-Doom that can be so pleasing, with more than a passing nod to Sabbath, and indeed it is done very well here. A fitting tribute and an awesome finish to one of the best albums of the year as far as I am concerned.
My overall impression: A very solid heavy Rock album indeed, paying tribute to the past but having their feet firmly in the present, the band managed to create their own sound from a blend of influences. Has not left my play rotation since getting it. One of the best of its kind released this year, I will follow these guys with interest and hope I will be able to see these tracks played live in the near future.
My Rating: 91/100