Delicately balancing between Progressive and Extreme Metal, today we have the legendary Ihsahn and his seventh full-length release “Àmr”. For over 43 minutes, the master deliver some very unique and forward thinking music that stills retains the hunger and incisiveness of Ihsahn’s earlier work with Emperor while exploring newer and more complex musical directions.
Unleashing an incisive array of keyboards and harsh screams, the album perfectly kicks off with the hectic “Lend Me the Eyes of the Millennia”. This track follows more of Ihsahn’s early work structures, but with a modern and cutthroat edge that no other band has in Extreme Metal. The album’s first single, “Arcana Imperii” with a perfect blend of funky tempo changes and playful drumming that leads to dramatic vocal arrangements and crafty instrumentation. We highly enjoyed the moody clean vocals that give the song a more accessible (to non-extreme metal fans) side while enjoying Ihsahn’s brilliant song writing skills.
As one of the most expected releases of 2018, today we have Kamelot and their latest epic release “The Shadow Theory”. Filled with the traditional Kamelot sound and a few surprises, this release unleashes over 50 minutes of bombastic music that should please all the fans of the band and gain them several more. Sadly, with this album the band sends of Casey Grillo on a high note (with the band), and welcomes new drummer Johan Nunez.
The release starts with the bombastic lushness of “Power Divine (Shadow Empire)” with the first duet between Lauren Hart (Once Human) and Tommy Karevik. This track embodies the Kamelot style to perfection, but delivering killer melodies, tight drumming and very well crafted vocal arrangements. As the band goes through “RavenLight” and the industrial-ish “Amnesiac”, we notice some very interesting new elements thrown into the mix, making the band’s sound more dynamic and engaging for listeners.
With a keen eye for unique and boundary pushing release, today we have the latest Hypnotic Dirge Records release with Odradek Room’s sophomore album “A Man of Silt”. Unleashing over 50 minutes of superbly crafted Progressive Death/Doom Metal, this band merges influences from bands like Anathema and Opeth with lush instrumentations and a very somber mood. If you like complex music with high replay value, this is certainly one of the best releases in 2017 for that.
The intro “Arising in the Void” provides a very dark and somber opening into the band’s unique musical voyage adorned with an Armenian duduk. The release continues to blossom with the transition into heavy guitars and growls in “Selfness”, a 7-minute piece that sets the experimental proggy tone for this album. Hailing from Ukraine, the band crafts very unique songs filled with highly atmospheric passages that are quite intricate and yet lush and filled with emotion, as delivered in “Texture of Reality”.
Unleashing over 55 minutes of brilliant Psychedelic/Progressive Metal, today we have Switzerland’s Echolot and their sophomore release “Volva”. Channeling their inner Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath influences, this three-piece outfit release for very intricate and engaging songs that will keep you engaged from start to end. With tons of bands flocking to these genres, it is quite refreshing to hear new ideas in this release.
The album opens with the groovy proggy guitars of “II”, a track that brilliantly introduces the band’s musical skills and vibe. The warm and fuzzy distortion is quite inviting and eases the listener into Echolot’s sonic world. Slowly building up, “III” continues the album’s progression with Doomy riffs and very moody vocals, greatly enhancing the atmosphere in this release and keeping it diverse and fresh sounding.
Overflowing with creativity and musicianship, today we have Enslaved’s latest opus “E”. Delivering over 45 minutes superbly catchy Progressive Black/Viking Metal, the band continues to refine their explosive sound with a few new tweaks and a whole lot of energy. Just when you think the band can’t get any better, they manage to push the envelope and perfectly balance their old-school elements within the confines of their more modern endeavors.
The album opens with a very light and to a point Post-Rockish vibe on “Storm Son”. This slowly evolves into more Progressive and Enslaved-like territories with dual vocal arrangements, catchy riffs and tight drum patterns. This opener is quite effective as it nicely bridges the band’s last release “In Times”, with what is coming in “E”. The headbanging continues with the extreme catchiness of “The River’s Mouth”, a piece that is quite interesting as the clean vocals remind us a bit of Fear Factory and create a unique contrast.
Hailing from Iran, today we have Progressive Metal outfit Heterochrome and their debut release “Melancholia”. Filled with intricate soundscapes and angelic female vocals, this release is quite engaging and entertaining as it reminds us a bit of outfits like Alas and Echoes of Eternity. Delivering over 30 minutes of music divided in six tracks, this release showcases the many talents of the band and will surely put them in your radar for the future.
Opening with the playful percussions of “Cage”, the band sets a very moody and ethereal opening that hooks the listener but does not reveal the band’s surprises yet. As “Hang” starts we get some brilliant proggy guitars paired with tight drumming as Mida’s vocals effortlessly take center stage. Her vocal range is quite unique and fits perfectly the tempo changes of this song.
Only a few bands manage to write a follow-up to a legendary album and succeed at it. Today we have Vintersorg blowing people away with their follow-up of the seminal “Till fjälls”. In this double release, the band unleashes over 75 minutes of classic Vintersorg music that will never leave your record player for the remainder of the year (possibly a few years). Going back to the basics, this is one release you can’t miss.
The album sets the tone with the intense opener “Jökelväktaren”, filled with soaring vocal arrangements and uber catchy guitar work, this perfectly sets the mood for what is to come. For any fan of Vintersorg, the brilliant combination of epic clean vocals and harsh vocals is one of the best features of their releases, particularly in epic tracks like “En väldig isvidds karga dräkt” and the crushing “Fjällets mäktiga mur”.
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”).
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”.
Hailing surprisingly from the USA, today we have Amiensus and their latest EP “All Paths Lead to Death”. We are surprised they are from the USA because their Progressive Black Metal sound is quite European-like, delivering nearly 30 minutes of quality music that should not be missed by any fan of the genre. Perfectly mixing aggression with technical proficiency, this release has a certain Agalloch, Aenaon, and even Borknagar-ish vibe, making it quite impressive.
Opening with the brutal “Gehenna”, the release starts up with a very intense pace and crafty vocal arrangements going from harsh to clean. This opening track provides a peek into the band’s creative range and musical creativity. The onslaught continues with the pummeling drumming of “Moth of the Abyss” and its intricate guitar work. We particularly like how tight this release sounds thanks to the crystal clear production behind it.