Sinister – Gods of the Abyss (2017)

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Originally intended to be the demo of the band formed by Aad Kloosterwaard and Alex Paul when Sinister split up back in 2003, “Gods of the Abyss” sees the light of day via Vic Records. This four song demo marked the move of Aad to vocals, and also the new era of Sinister with a renewed Nuclear Blast record band in the day. The tracks presented her formed part of the “Afterburner” album in 2006.

Leading with the piercing riffage of “The Grey Massacre”, we instantly get Sinister’s traditional intensity and viciousness with pretty solid vocals. One has to remember that before the band broke up in 2003, they had a terrible vocalist that single-handedly made “Savage or Grace” and “Creative Killings” two of the worst albums of the time. Anyways, the move of Aad to handle vocal duties was a pretty good one.

Svartsyn – In Death (2017)

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Hailing from Sweden, one-man battalion Svartsyn returns with a crushing and demoralizing release titled “In Death”. Featuring seven anthems of foul and deathly Black Metal, this release is as punishing as it gets. Delivering over 46 minutes of music, this release has a very oppressive vibe to it while leveling listeners with their violent riffing and hellish vocals. If you like dark and sinister BM from bands like Weapon, Watain, Nightbringer, etc., this is the album for you.

The album kicks off with the ravaging intensity of “Sevenheaded Snake”, where the band’s sole member Ornias showcases great intensity and brutality. After such an onslaught, we move into more atmospheric territories with the chilling “Dark Prophet”, a very well-paced piece that oozes that brilliant Scandinavian Black Metal vibe. Bringing back the intense pace, “With Death” is one of our favorite tracks in this release thanks to the relentless drumming of guest Hammerman and the sickening tempo to it.

Klabautamann – Smaragd (2017)

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Hailing from Germany, today we have one of the most original and downright weird releases of 2017. On “Smaragd”, this dynamic duo delivers 53-minutes of a mixture of Progressive Black Metal with tons of Jazzy and Folky influences, creating a very engaging sound unlike anything you have heard before. If you are into highly experimental music that defies the boundaries of genres, this is definitely the release for you.

Opening with the moody “Into Depression”, the band slowly leads the listener down to their magical universe. This track starts off very Jazzy as it weaves back and forth between heavy passages and emotional acoustic interludes with killer guitar leads. Just when you think you have figured the out, the band delivers the raw onslaught of “My Terrifying Mirror”, with a furiously crushing opening that slowly morphs into madness. The band’s ability to change course mid-song and between songs, it is quite impressive creating magical contrasts and keeping the listener on their toes (eg. transitioning into the Proggy/Occult Rock elements of “In My Shadow”).

Æra – Of Forsworn Vows (2017)

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Featuring a very unique mixture of elements, today we have Æra and their debut EP titled “Of Forsworn Vows”. Combining elements from 90’s Black Metal with more modern Pagan Metal elements, this release unleashes over 20 minutes of highly addictive music that is quite epic and engaging. For fans of bands like Borknagar and early Emperor to outfits like Thyrfing, this release will certainly fit very well on your collection.

Opening with the powerful atmospheric elements of “An Affirmation of Forsworn Vows”, the band makes a bit splash with tense keyboards and a very melodic core. The riffing reminds us of bands like Falkenbach, which is straightforward but very melodic in nature. The vocals are quite fitting and add that extra layer of power to this impressive song as it weaves back and forth between different tempos.

Nemesis Sopor – MMXL (2017)

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Hailing from Germany, today we have one of the best Black Metal releases of 2017. Perfectly combining furious onslaughts with moody atmospheric elements, Nemesis Sopor delivers over 57 minutes of majestically crafted music that captivate the listener. Highly recommended for those fans of very refined melancholic Black Metal, “MMXL” is one of those releases that will command your full attention as it unravels fully after more than a handful of listens.

The album opens with a ferocious 15-minute piece titled “Untertan”, which give a little taste of what is to come. This track has it all: blisteringly fast sections, solemn melancholic passages, and very powerful transitions, making this song very unique and a true tour de force performance... just to start the album. Providing a lush breather, we have the instrumental “Saat”, just before things speed up again with the expansive “Herscher”. This track delivers more incisive riffing and crushing harsh vocals paired with a very mysterious tempo and brilliant atmospheric sections.

Moonaadem – Moonaadem (2017)

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Arriving all the way from Lebanon, today we have one-man project Moonaadem and their self-titled debut release. Featuring seven tracks of very well crafted Atmospheric Black Metal, this release is filled with raw misery and solemn music that will crush your spirits and soul. Staying away from the clichés of the genre, and avoiding sounding like everybody else, this outfit keeps things very dark and melancholic for over 25 minutes.

Starting with “Multivers”, the album sets a very sinister mood with a mid-paced Black Metal piece that is quite engaging. Blending atmospheric elements with traditional riffs allows this track to have that certain BM-vibe, while further expanding its effect with an eerie atmosphere. The punishing “Pleine Lune”, is one of the best tracks in this release with its very melodic approach and furious intensity. This is masterfully contrasted by dreamy atmospherics and violent BM shrieks, leading to trippy passages.

Serenius – Cocoon (2017)

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Delivering over 50 minutes of brilliantly crafted Death Metal with tons of melodic undertones, today we have France’s Serenius and their third full-length release “Cocoon”. In a day and age when most band are moving their Death Metal sound to feature either Core or Progressive elements, it is quite cool to hear a band keeping the old-school style alive by injecting some energy into it, but keeping the essence intact.

After the album opens with the crushing “World”, the band wastes no time in keeping the momentum going and delivers the high-octane “Identity”. This very melodic song is one of our favorites, and will surely get the headbanging started with its pace and brilliant guitar work. “The Shell” and “Shadows of Misery” continue the onslaught with even more catchier and craftier tracks that showcase the band’s musical range and the wide variety of unique ideas they incorporate into their music.

Panopticon – Kentucky (2017)

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Originally released back in 2012, Panopticon’s “Kentucky” is the band’s seminal release in which they mix both Black Metal and Folk/Americana/Bluegrass elements in a brilliant way. Just as when it was originally released, this release will certainly catch a new wave of people by surprise as the genres are not intuitively easily combined. Multi-instrumentalist Austin L. Lunn certainly pulled of one of the most unique releases of all times, and this is you latest chance to get a copy of it.

The album instantly raises eyebrows with the Folky/Americana-inspired “Bernheim Forest in Spring” as it leads into the explosive and very aggressive “Bodies Under the Falls”. With this transition we are back into more familiar territories with harsh vocals, punishing riffs and tight drums. This track masterfully weaves back and forth between heavy passages and lush banjo-led sections that work perfectly with the flow of the song.

Sollertia – Light (2017)

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Featuring the highly distinctive vocals of James Fogarty of Ewigkeit and In the Woods… fame, today we have Sollertia and their debut release “Light”. Playing a very unique mixture of Progressive Doom/Gothic Metal with Dark Metal elements, this release is pretty hard to pin down, but very effective in creating unique songs that are quite engaging. For fans of uniquely dark music, this album provides over 55 minutes of mysterious music that is very enjoyable and it is full of surprises.

After the warm-up intro, this trio sets a somber mood with the melancholic Gothic vibe of “Abstract Object Theory”. The music is quite mellow and very well paced, allowing James Fogarty’s talented vocals to shine. Providing contrasting harsh vocals on a few tracks, Vanja Obscure does a pretty solid job in shaking things up with her shrieks, changing the pace of songs like “Pascal’s Wager”, “The Devil’s Seethe” and “Positive Disintegration”.

Behold the Grave – The Path of the Blind (2017)

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Hailing from Chihuahua, Mexico, today we have Behold the Grave and their crafty mixture of Melodic Death Metal with Thrash/Hardcore elements. In their debut release, “The Path of the Blind”, the band delivers over 50 minutes of very engaging music that effortlessly combines tons of influences into 11 superbly catchy tracks. If you are a fan of old-school Melodic Death Metal to bands like Arch Enemy, Soilwork, etc., this will be one hell of a release for you.

The album wastes no time to impress the listener with the brilliant guitar work of “The Chair of Redemption”, a song that is very crafty and engaging. Not letting the momentum slowdown, the band quickly hits with “Full of Black Venom” and “The Meaning of Hate”, two very fast-paced tracks filled with killer guitar leads and tight drum patterns. Other songs like “Endless war Serpents”, while keeping things intense, add some funky guitar passages and playful vocal arrangements to keep things fresh and engaging.

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