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Nah, I'm still not done coming late to the party of several 2021 (re-)releases, so here's another trio of without exception phenomenal albums!

CONVERGE - Bloodmoon•I (CD) (2021)

It seems that collaborative albums are becoming a more and more regular thing in metal and adjacent circles. There are even bands like The Body specialized in forming extended bands. And of course there's a continuation of super-heavy sludge/post metal/hardcore bands teaming up with female singers to create huge masterpieces. Neurosis/Jarboe, Cult Of Luna/Julie Christmas, Emma Ruth Rundle/Thou... And now Converge and Chelsea Wolfe?
Well, not precicely. Firstly "now" has already been a long while, as the whole "Bloodmoon" concept has been around for a while, at least since a show under that moniker at Roadburn Festival 2016. And secondly "Bloodmoon" doesn't stand only for the addition of Chelsea Wolfe's haunting voice (and guitar?), which would already be a win, but also for the atmospheric soundscapes of her writing partner Ben Chisholm and of course Cave In / Mutoid Man / Old Man Gloom super weapon Stephan Brodsky, whose importance for this first "Bloodmoon" (it is heavily implied that this will be continued) cannot be overstated.
So while I'm still not the biggest fan of Converge frontman Jacob Bannon's vocals, I must admit that they work better in the studio than live, and combined with all the diversity and harmony brought into the game with Wolfe, Brodsky and probably also others of the seven musicians at play, they finally at least don't bother me anymore on this album.
With eleven tracks in roughly one hour "Bloodmoon•I" may be relatively long, but the diversity in the vocal department alone ensures that there's no danger of boredom. And since the premise of this record really is that everyone brings everything he/she's got to the table, you're also thrown into a different musical direction with each song. Of course there's Converge's post hardcore mixed with a theatrical gothic flair as a base, but from there on everything these guys want just goes. The only common thread, no matter how heavy or balladic, how straight forward or convoluted a certain track may be, is that there's a hymn of some kind hidden in everything. No filler, all killer. A massive, ambitious hit machine.

This album truly leaves me with only two serious open questions: 1. How long will we have to wait until we get more of this?
2. If the CD is already shrink-wrapped anyway - why do you put the big hype sticker directly on the cover of the digipack? (It doesn't give the impression of being removable without residues or damages. Well, luckily I don't care much about this particular cover artwork anyway, but still... why?) 

HIERONYMUS DREAM - Nostos (blue and green starbust vinyl LP) (2021)

After immensly enjoying their EP "Clairvoyance" I am pleased that Greek instrumentalists Hieronymus Dream have continued their cosmic journey with this full LP. Adventurous yet relaxing at the same time, the flittering guitars and bubbling electronic sounds on "Nostos" are exuding a comfortable warmth, while the steady drive of the beat keeps your mind moving.
I don't want to diminish the performances themselves one bit, but once again the clarity and quality of the production elevates the recording to another level. All six tracks are masterclasses in uplifting neokraut with an emphasis on that kind of escapism which will probably also speak to a lot of post rock fans. A soundtrack for fantastic odysseys.

CHICAGO ODENSE ENSEMBLE - Chicago Odense Ensemble (blue vinyl LP) (2011/2021)

Last but not least we have the most recent (transparent blue) pressing of yet another transatlantic cooperation from the Causa Sui / El Paraiso Records vault. Originally published by Adluna Records in 2011, the geographically self-explanatory Chicago Odense Ensemble already recorded this gathering of seven players in 2008. Jonas Munk however edited and dubbed the sessions in his studio. The result is neither the first nor the last record with his and Jakob Skøtt's involvement which screams Miles Davis's electric phase. But with Rob Mazurek's cornet at the forefront, backed up by a massive free-fusioning flow of guitars and lots of percussion, the Chicago Odense Ensemble surely is among those efforts which come closest to the original.
Which of course doesn't mean that these eight pieces even try to be a carbon copy at all. While even some of the effect experimentalism in the post-production are very much in the tradition of Miles' producer Teo Macero, you can also taste some very distinct flavours here, like the dreamy psychedelic guitars which are quite typical for Causa Sui, as well as a strong German kraut vibe provided by Munk's analogue synthesizers.
And from the psych to the funk, from the tribal drum energy to the delicate jazz fusion nothing about this American/Danish get-together seems forced. This is freeform music at its finest. The title of the last track sums it up very humbly. Because this a little bit more than just "Pretty Nice". Pure joy! 

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