As the second stop in their chilling and somewhat perplexing 777 trilogy, today we have Blut Aus Nord and “The Desanctification”. In this release, the band continues their journey with “Epitomes VII to XII”, featuring very interesting compositions that take their unique and very imaginative sound to new heights. If you are expecting a crushing Black Metal release, we strongly advice you skip this one (and the previous one), but if you have an open mind and you are ready to be transported, you should keep reading.
The band has always been pushing the boundaries of Black Metal, and Metal itself, but with this 777 trilogy we find them even further down the spiral into an abyss of solid music but with sometimes doubtful directions. The riffing and the overall songwriting are very typical of the band, but some of the industrial/electronic elements felt a bit weird on the first few times we played this album. However, as with any Blut Aus Nord release, there is always something lurking in the songs that will surprise the listener and keep it engaged.
As one of the most anticipated releases of 2011, “The Thousandfold Epicenter” delivers in every single aspect and considerably surpasses all expectation we had from The Devil’s Blood. In this release we are treated to 11 tracks of brilliant composition and intelligently transmitted emotions that will either captivate you due to its very catchy nature or its highly interesting ideological nature. The band spares no expense in providing a very insightful release, both musically and lyrically.
After their amazing 2009 release “The Time Of No Time Evermore”, this band blew us away immediately with their high-octane psychedelic/occult rock sound that while many bands mimic, this band is the real deal. Lead by the mysterious SL/TDB/A-O and fronted by the powerful female vocals of F/TDB/MOS, this band is the real deal when it comes to mixing psychedelic music with occult references and ideas. The band’s persona is surrounded by mystery and large amounts of symbology, allowing all people that like to dig into things to enjoy countless hours trying to identify each little (and carefully crafted) detail behind the band.
As a very entertaining ‘blast-from-the-past’, today we have Vanderbuyst and their latest release “In Dutch”. In this release, the band returns with eight hard-hitting and hard-rocking songs that will immediately command your attention. If you are a fan of 70’s Hard Rock with a little Metal twist, this release will have you raving for the next few months.
Opening with catchy riffing and very effective vocals, “Black and Blue” delivers the perfect opener for a very memorable release. The chorus section is very simple and super catchy, a signature of these types of songs. The guitar solos are also another thing to notice since they are all perfectly placed through the track. Moving into more melodic and catchier territory, “Into the Fire” is our favorite song of this release due to its epic opening section. The paring of guitar solos, pounding bass guitar line and the overall melody of this the opener of this track makes it magical.
Seeminly out of nowhere, today we have one of the most impressive Gothic/Symphonic Metal releases of 2011 with Illuminata’s “World So Cold” release. Featuring ex-Visions of Atlantis vocalist
Joanna Nieniewska, Katarzyna Nieniewska on vocals and flute, and Sabrina on backing vocals and keyboards, this band has what it takes to improve on Coronatu’s dual female vocal approach to the genre.
Not only relying on pretty voices (and girls), “World So Cold” features very intricate compositions that nicely blend orchestrations with powerful guitars and very catchy melodies. Opening with the traditional momentum-building track, this release quickly explodes into a keyboard driven anthem “Cold Arms Warm Hands”. In this track you can easily see similarities with bands like Epica, but Illuminata has a very different sound when it comes to the singing.
Out of the hundreds of bands that come out of Finland every year it is very hard to differentiate the very good ones from the good ones (apparently there are very few shitty bands in that country!). Human Sculpture is one of the very good ones indeed and with their three song EP “Our World / Torn Down”, they deliver 15 minutes of intense Melodic Death Metal combined with some Thrash and Modern Metal influences.
Sounding a bit like Kalmah combined with Exodus and some Gojira influences; “Deconstruction” delivers hard hitting riffs and very powerful drums. The dual screams approach is very powerful and packs a lot of power, making the songs very aggressive and yet melodic and well crafted. The riffing assault in this song is top notch and the Modern Metal influences are very nicely incorporated into things and do not sound annoying at all.
Every month we get a few bands claiming to play Avant-garde whatever-genre and usually end up sucking majestically. This month’s great surprise is France’s Smohalla, a band that plays pretty solid and standard Avant-garde Black Metal in the vein of Arcturus, Vulture Industries, etc, but focusing more on deranged atmospheres rather than crazy catchy sections. This two person outfit does a great job in delivering eight tracks (around 45 minutes of music) of pure atmospheric craziness.
Setting up the albums atmosphere with “Quasar”, the band gives a very similar vibe to Arcturus greatest opus “La Masquerade Infernale”. Immediately after, “As sol les toges vides” follows with some deranges vocals, psychotic atmospheric elements and trippy guitars. These songs are very well crafted and help Smohalla establish a truly excellent opening for this album. “Les repos du Lezard” and “Oracle rouge” continue with a Doom-ish edge and very interesting choir arrangements.
Cynic, one of Metal’s most acclaimed provides us with a little insight into what to expect in their next full-length release. Constantly changing and incorporating new things into their music, the band has done away with the harsh vocals, they have added more ethnic chants and sounds, and keep experimenting with other genres such as Jazz Fusion and some Shoegaze. All of these ‘different’ elements will keep the forward thinking Metal listeners attention and appeal to some hipster non-metal fans as well.
Featuring 25 minutes of music divided in six tracks, this EP is very nicely arranged to flow naturally. The opening atmospheric track is pretty interesting leading to “Carbon-Based Anatomy”, a very emotionally charged and trippy track that has Cynic written all over it. The combination of interesting drum patterns with proggy guitars and clean vocals is excellently executed and works wonders. There are indeed some ‘heavy’ sections, but the overall construction of this track is what makes Cynic a truly different and unique band.
Finally returning after 5 years since the band’s last full-length release “Second Skin of Harlequin”, today we have Denmark’s Illnath and their characteristic Melodic Black Metal. With several lineup changes, “Third Act in the Theatre of Madness” showcases the band’s new female growler Mona Beck and session drummer Reno Killerich. Now signed to Pitch Black Records, the band shows that they are back stronger than ever and with the ten tracks presented in this release, they mean serious business.
“Third Act” opens the album in a very traditional manner, with some keyboards, a pounding bass guitar line and tight drumming. The first surprise comes when Mona starts singing since she does not sound like your typical female growler. As a regular reader of Infernal Masquerade you might be aware that we are tired of this gimmick, but for Illnath, the female growler works perfectly. Just like a more aggressive version Angela Gossow, Mona brings a new level of brutality to the band’s sound.
Returning after two years of releasing one of Infernal Masquerade’s favorite albums of all time “Fabula Magna”, today we have Coronatus and their latest opus “Terra Incognita”. While many bands can play Gothic Metal, there are only a few that call pull-off the dual female vocal approach like Coronatus can do. However, we have been a bit skeptical on how the band would sound with none the singers of the previous album returning.
With all doubts quickly silenced, Coronatus shows that regardless of the singers “Terra Incognita” is still one hell of an album regardless of the band’s singers. With Ada Flechtner returning to the line-up and Mareike Makosch being the other new singer, the band still features their characteristic dual-vocal approach that sets them apart from the heaps of Gothic Metal bands. With the addition of new keyboard player Psalm, the band provides us with 12 tracks of excellently crafted top-notch Gothic Metal.
Mixing things up when combining traditional Black Metal with some industrial/drone elements, today we have Italy’s Visthia and their latest release “In Aeternum Deleti”. As one of the most complicated albums we have received in quite a while, this release posed a great challenge to sit through and finally make up our minds about a review of it. The band combines some elements of experimental bands like DHG, Aborym and others that are pushing the edges of Black Metal, but still fails to achieve anything more than shock value with their very disturbing and dissonant sound. Calling their new ‘style’ Black Powernoise, we can’t stop feeling that they might be a bit ahead of their time.
Switching back and forth between spoken Latin sections, some beats and drone elements and a mid-tempo Black Metal, Visthia does achieve a very cavernous and disturbing atmosphere, but nothing more. The vocals are excellent and very creepy indeed, but the slow tempo of things and the samples kind of kill the mood of the BM guitars.