SMOHALLA

Avant-garde Metal • France
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Created in 2006 in Serranian, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur/Rouen, Upper Normandy, french Black/Avant-garde Metal band SMOHALLA became known after the release of the "Nova Persei" EP in 2007. In 2011, they released their first album entitled "Résilience".
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SMOHALLA Discography

SMOHALLA albums / top albums

SMOHALLA Résilience album cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Résilience
Avant-garde Metal 2011

SMOHALLA EPs & splits

SMOHALLA Smolensk Combustion album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Smolensk Combustion
Avant-garde Metal 2006
SMOHALLA Nova Persei album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Nova Persei
Avant-garde Metal 2007
SMOHALLA Tellur / Epitome album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Tellur / Epitome
Avant-garde Metal 2013

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SMOHALLA Reviews

SMOHALLA Résilience

Album · 2011 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Wriggling sonic worms rippling through the undulating waves of the cosmos.

What are they putting in those macaroons? France has always been a nation that has taken the arts to places no one thought possible and that’s not only true in the kitchen with French food registering high on the yum-o-meter but in the 21st century, this is the nation that has been killin’ it in the extreme metal market all across the board but especially in the cross-pollinating fertile possibilities of black metal and beyond. Emerging somewhere from the Normandy region a band called SMOHALLA formed in 2006 and presented a new strange form of metal that gives credence to a new subgenre that could be penned “psychedelic metal” since despite it’s black metal connections, takes the listener into the far reaches of the space rock continuum and just happens to add a touch of metal gusto in fully adrenalized fashion. The band got their name from a 19th century Native American prophet from the Northwest region of the USA and the name means “dreamer” in the indigenous Sahaptin language. And what a perfect name for this band that exemplifies the most surreal of soundscapes that simulate the dream state more than anything remotely traditional compositionally speaking.

After two EPs the band that consists of Slo who handles the guitar work, percussion and vocals, Camille Giraudeau who handles bass and A.L. who conjures up the electronic wizardry and programming, finally released their first full length album RÉSILIENCE in 2011 and takes their space cadet ride presented on the first two releases goes for the jugular. Once again SMOHALLA boldly goes where no other metal band had gone before and created a bizarre concoction of dark ambient, operatic classical, progressive black metal and trip hop, only they take it to even stranger world as if the multiverse is collapsing on itself and various genres of sound are battling it out to dominate the successor of the throne. Seriously folks, music does not get more bizarre or surreal than this experimental and psychedelic sonic feast of avant-garde run amok. Imagine musical constructs that flow more like clouds slowly in the sky with subtle variations deviating from what preceded in a never changing structured yet formless march through time. That’s exactly what SMOHALLA deliver and on RÉSILIENCE they take these attributes to even more extremes.

Musically speaking, SMOHALLA develop small melodic riffs that blossom into an infinite number of variations that take form. Much like second wave black metal that utilized a simple riff that in the case of SMOHALLA seems mostly derived from Western classical sources but as the repetitive blockchain of riffage oscillates into the future, liberties are taken to differentiate the time signatures, dynamics, instrumentation and focus which at any time can bleed into another totally unrelated musical motif. While similar to the previous EPs, RÉSILIENCE is more relentless in its brutal attack and layering of styles over each other to create an extremely busy and surreal effect. One of the main elements includes progressive and tremolo picked angular black metal riffing which sometimes exhibits angry and raspy vocalizations and also employs clean Enslaved like vocals on their most progressive 21st century releases with similar chord progresses that are funneled through the schizoid grinder and given a healthy dose of acid blotter for good measure. The other major player is the atmospheric bombastic accoutrements that echo an epic soundtrack of clashing worlds while subdued choral utterances struggle to break through the caustic din.

The whole album flows with a trip hop sort of backbeat and even feels like it flagellates like a paramecium in a petri dish as the rhythmic pulses undulate like waves and exhibit the same unpredictability that the ocean does as it pummels the coast. Dream states come to mind when half baked ideas sputter into nothingness and suddenly drift off into completely new territory but not in a startling way but more in a connective way that creates bridges between randomness. Very strange stuff on this one and one that is perfect for those who crave totally tripped out metal that takes the listener on one of the farthest reaches of surrealistic sonic journeys. This is one of those albums that i can never quite grasp. It’s like wrestling a giant jellyfish in a bathtub and never knowing what’s really within reach. It’s just tangible enough to grasp rhythmic patterns and melodic embryos yet somehow leapfrogging counterpoints distract and disorient all reality. If you want WEIRD metal, then look no further than SMOHALLA. This will surely be too bizarre for most but recommended for those who crave the most intense WTF experiences possible.

SMOHALLA Nova Persei

EP · 2007 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
SMOHALLA emerged from the Normandy region of France but adopted their name from the Native American Wanapum prophet from the Dreamer’s movement in the US Pacific Northwest region. Living up to their appellation, this band found a unique niche in carving out some of the most surreal and psychedelic metal of the 21st century. Although their first release “Smolensk Collection” was initially a demo, it became a fully fledged member of the official SMOHALLA canon yet lacked a production that distinguished it from its initial demo status. While formed in 2006, the band that consists of three members: Slo (guitar, percussion and vocals), Camille Giraudeau (bass) and A.L. (electronic wizardry and programming) plus mystery guests such as the sonic siren who supplies the operatic female vocals.

NOVA PERSEI was technically their first official release as a short near 21 minute EP that contains six tracks that unleash the full avant-garde prowess of SMOHALLA’s vibrant inhibition. As on the demo turned official release which preceded NOVA PERSEI, this collection of bizarre musical concoctions is chock full of avant-garde progressive metal in the vein of Enslaved, Ulver, Ved Buens Ende, Solefald, Arcturus and Elend melded with psychedelic electronica and progressive rock that evokes everything from the psychedelic mellotron rock of Pink Floyd to the ethereal dream pop of the Cocteau Twins albeit with a production and mixing that blows “Smolensk Collection” away and a sense of adventurism on steroids.

While also on that release, the compositions were complex and unrelentingly unpredictable, on NOVA PERSEI the musical constructs are even more twisted and surreal and the only word that adequately describes them is “chaotic.” This EP was inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and evokes a soundtrack to a grand chaotic battle between the star NOVA PERSEI and the demon star “Algol,” which awakens the spirit to a cold eternal darkness that permeates space as the phantasmagoric parade of disparate musical elements clash and collaborate in seemingly random modes of sonic interplay with tremolo guitar distortion blasting through the ethereal winds of the synthesizers and bilingual utterances of raspy black metal, clean progressive rock and operatic divas create a beyond bizarre listening experience.

Chaotic indeed as everything on NOVA PERSEI is unrelenting and in-yer-face with heavy angular metal riffing duking it out with placid clean vocal progressive rock, operatic angels singing in the horizon and trip hop electronica beats. While there are times of respite such as the surreal intro of “Algol,” the music takes no time to deviate from a calm angularity to a frenetic surrealistic black metal nightmare. The superior production allows a mystifying tapestry of brutal metal, otherworldly keyboards and incongruent clean chanted vocals alongside brutal black metal raspy screams. In some ways, SMOHALLA evokes a less chaotic version of Unexpect minus the comical circus music and gypsy jazz. SMOHALLA certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. This is some of the most complex and convoluted mix of musical ideas there is to be had. It is truly an interdimensional battle of disparate musical styles offering the listener a glimpse into a delicate balance that seems on a tightrope ready to derail completely.

SMOHALLA Smolensk Combustion

EP · 2006 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Sometimes the name of a band tells the tale of the way their music sounds assuming you understand the origin. SMOHALLA is one such band that formed in 2006 in the Normandy region of France but took their name from a Native American prophet associated with the Dreamer’s movement in current day Washington state. In fact the name SMOHALLA means “dreamer” in the Sahaptin language which in recent years has neared linguistic extinction. The term actually describes this bizarre avant-garde metal band’s overall style quite accurately since the mix of a post-black metal style of aggression commingled with progressive rock and electronica indeed paints a surreal dreamy haze of musical flow that takes angular angelic atmospheres and punctuates them with heavy jagged metallic outbursts.

The band consists of three members. Slo who handles the guitar work, percussion and vocals, Camille Giraudeau who handles bass and A.L. who conjures up the electronic wizardry and programming. While a mere trio, these musicians pump out some of the most bizarre and surreal metal music i’ve ever heard. And i’ve heard a lot! SMOLENSK COLLECTION was released the same year of formation initially as a demo but soon became a fully fledged EP in retrospect as it is readily available for purchase on Bandcamp and included in the band’s overall discography. The band cite many Gothic and avant-garde prog metal bands as their influences including Ulver, Ved Buens Ende, Solefald, Arcturus, Elend and even Pink Floyd.

If there was ever an argument for the adoption of the “psychedelic metal” tag then SMOHALLA fits that bill perfectly since beginning with this very first offering they offer an entrancing display of ethereal sonic dreamscapes that utilize innovative and unpredictable melodies and atmospheres to join hands and take a musical journey into the far reaches of outer space and beyond. While the hypnotic electronic sounds can imitate Portishead-esque trip hop and downtempo, operatic female vocals emerge through the misty haze to add touches of calming classical music before the storm of jagged angular guitar riffs punctuate the serenity as black metal raspy vocals scream from a distance. There are many elements in the music and too many to mention as the clever crafting of samples, twisted distorted metal and pneumatic episodic meandering dominate the soundscape.

While initially released as a demo, none of the tracks on SMOLENSK COLLECTION are available on other releases and therefore an essential listening experience if you happen to fancy the most progressive side of Enslaved mixed with the angular grace of Arcturus in the distorted continuum of Maudlin of the Well. At times frenetic and at times a mere flow of cosmic sound, SMOHALLA is one of the strangest bands that falls into the metal world that can be heard. Think of this as an interdimensional clash between progressive black metal, avant-garde operatic symphonies and Shpongle-esque psybient touch as heard on the nine minute dark ambient closer “Lethal Silence.” While this may have achieved the status of EP, it does retain a demo like production level but despite that i actually find this a very interesting and exciting listen since the music is so powerful that the somewhat flat and tinny mixing only adds another layer of surrealism as if one must burrow deeper into the next dimension to fully appreciate the full-spectrum experience.

SMOHALLA Tellur / Epitome

Split · 2013 · Avant-garde Metal
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Time Signature
A deadly avant-garde black metal combo...

Genre: avant-garde black metal

Take two of the most interesting black metal acts on the more experimental black metal scene and put them on the same release. The result is this highly challenging, and rewarding, split.

The four Smohalla tracks are probably best described as avant-garde blackened death metal. The first track 'Sa voix transperce nos fos' goes in a more death metal direction, featuring both old school thrashy riffs and more technical overlaid guitar leads, while the second track 'La main d'Abel' features more black metal elements and may perhaps be described as a more accessible version of Deathspell Omega. What makes this track particularly interesting is the it features some quite Cynic-like guitar figures which have been wrapped in a black metal blanket so to speak. Ever the experimentalists, Smohalla go as far as featuring an electronica track on their side of the split in the form of 'O deluge' - but despair not, oh ye metalheads, we are dealing with a dark track which is more akin to Depeche Mode than, say, Aqua. And, well, I must say that, as electronic music goes 'O deluge' is very well put together, which even features a couple of dark ambient elements. At this point, the listener should also have been attuned to the electronic elements which characterize Smohalla's contributions to this split. On the epic 'Les passagers du vent', the French experimentalist return to the metal universe, combining heavy sludge with simple black thrash and, of course, the obligatory blastbeat-accompanied passages.

And, having been totally blown away by French avant-garde and experimental black metal, British mayhem awaits the listener in the form of Omega Centauri's three tracks.

Drawing on a more traditional black metal sound and with a rawer production, Omega Centauri nonetheless take an avant-garde approach on these three tracks, as evidenced by the use of dissonant overlaid guitars and generally spacey keyboards in 'Naissance', the heavy and almost alternative feel of 'Submission', and the general dark ambiance weirdness of 'Desuetude'.

If you are in the mood for a different black metal experience in the company of some of the more interesting acts on the experimental black metal scene, then do not hesitate to check out this split.

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