Hailing from France, today we have Symphonic/Progressive Black Metal outfit Akroma and their fourth full-length release titled “Apocalypse (Requiem)”. Delivering over 40 minutes of intricate music and catchy melodic passages, the band spends most of the release trying to overcome their terrible singer. Luckily for the band, their music and other vocal arrangements are good enough to not fully bring down such an interesting release.
Opening with “Kyrie” we get that old-school Symphonic Black Metal vibe from the late 90’s and all things seem to be on track for a great album. However, the mixture of shrieks/Heavy Metal-styled vocals come on and they are downright horrendous and painful to listen to. Imagine a mixture of King Diamond and Dani Filth having a very bad vocal day and magnify it by 10x. While the growls and female vocals are pretty good and well fitting, sometimes is pretty hard to zone out the bad ones as you can hear on the awesomely proggy “Offertorium”.
Symphonic Black Metal
Finally immortalizing one of their iconic full-orchestra and choir shows, today we have Dimmu Borgir and the monumental “Forces of the Northern Night”. Featuring around 90 minutes of live material both in video (DVD or Blu-ray) and audio CD’s, this is one of the most epic live releases we have seen in a while. Not needing any introduction, this band will blow you away with the intensity they bring to the live shows.
We are only reviewing their Wacken Open air show in 2012, where the band was accompanied on stage with the Czech National Symphonic Orchestra and the Schola Cantorum choir. In this already legendary concert, the band played the full “Abrahadabra” album first, and then a pretty solid selection of their greatest hits. The first part of the concert hits the listener hard with epic renditions of crushing songs like “Born Treacherous” and “Gateways” featuring a guest appearance by Agnete Kjølsrud.
Hailing from Belgium, today we have the always improving Symphonic Black Metal outfit Saille and their fourth full-length release “Gnosis”. Returning with their highly melodic music, the band manages to craft 45 minutes divided in nine tracks that showcase their musical evolution in to a cleaner and leaner outfit since their conception. After releasing 3 albums in a span of 4 years, the band took more than two years to fully prepare and unleash this near perfect gem into the world.
Opening with the melodic riffing of “Benei ha'Elohim”, the band slowly introduces their clean cut musical style that remind us of bands like Apostasy, Old Man's Child, and Emperor. Things get catchier with the Dimmu Borgir-esque “Pandaemonium Gathers”, the perfect contrast between funky keyboards and pummeling drums/guitars make this song quite interesting and engaging. The killer solos and melancholic guitars in “Blôt” brilliantly complement Dennie Grondelaers mixture of growls and shrieks, making this track one of the most complete and diverse pieces in this release.
Hailing from the USA, today we have the very unique and promising debut release from Tine. Titled “The Forest Dreams of Black”, this debut album delivers over nine tracks of a very solid blend of Symphonic Black/Death Metal. As a two-person outfit, this band mixes elements from old-school greats like Bal-Sagoth, Limbonic Art and Canada’s Necronomicon. As a very atypical North American release, this album is definitely worth your time.
Opening with the pyscho sexy riffs of “Enter the Black Forest”, the band sets a very intoxicating mood. With Count Murmur handling all the guitars, bass guitar, vocals, and programmed drums, the band still manages to sound like a real band and not some dude in his parents basement. In “Horrors at Antioch”, the solid integration of the musical base-layer and Vanth’s keyboards creates a very eerie atmosphere and reminds us of Limbonic Art and some of the early days of Charmand Grimloch’s Tartaros.
As one of the biggest surprises of 2015, today we have the infamous Cradle of Filth and their 12th full-length release “Hammer of the Witches”. Bringing us back to when the band was turning heads left and right with their “Dusk and Her Embrace” and “Cruelty and the Beast” releases, this is by far the best release from them in over 10 years. Delivering 11 punishing tracks of lush Symphonic Black Metal we are sure that most old fans of the band will come flocking back to them.
After the warm-up intro, things are blown wide open with the intense drumming of “Yours Immortally…”, courtesy of Martin Škaroupka coming quite close to the glory days of the band with Nick Barker. The mood is as magical as on “Cruelty and the Beast” with crushing tempo changes and the howling of Dani Filth. The band finally got back to their mojo of crafting songs with tons of tempo changes and perfect combinations of howls, growls and clean male and female vocals as in “Enshrined in Crematoria” and “Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess” (one of our favorites).
Featuring members (or ex-members) of Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, Decapitated, etc., this Polish super group is set to make an impact with their fourth full-length release “Deus Ex Machina”. Taking subtle elements for tons of bands like Samael, Emperor, Arcturus, Vulture Industries and making them their own, we are left with ten very unique tracks that will creep you out while allowing you to head bang to them.
Kicking off the release with the brutal Sympho-BM “Halflight”, we are treated to Orion’s talent both behind his sickening vocals and crushing riffs. This track is probably the most straightforward one since it fits solely in one genre. Things go circus like with the Arcuturs-inspired atmospheric elements of “Innocence”, one of the album’s best tracks. The band comes back with the Samael-sounding “Disillusion”, a very intoxicating band with tons of catchy melodic passages and superb drumming.
Hailing from Belgium, today we have one of the best Symphonic Black Metal bands in the planet, delivering their 3rd full-length release titled “Eldritch”. Greatly improving over time, this band delivers nine intense tracks of melodic brilliance that only a handful of bands are capable of. With other bands being stuck in using over the top orchestrations as gimmicks, Saille focuses on the underlying brutality of their music and throws in melodic and atmospheric passages to round things up.
Skipping the typical intro, Saille quickly delivers the first blow of intensity with the blistering “Emerald”. The band perfectly blends traditional melodic BM riffs with creepy atmospheric elements and intense vocals. As we move into “Walpurgis”, this album is already reminding us of the crushing “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” by Dimmu Borgir, as Saille is really on top of their game firing in all cylinders and crafting some intense music.
After a 9 year ‘hibernation’ period, Hecate Enthroned returns with one of the biggest surprises of 2013: “Virulent Rapture”. Always living under the stigma of a CoF clone band, this band was long discarded by us with some of their more ‘experimental’ releases over the years before dropping out of the map in 2004. When we got this promo, curiosity got the best of us and we decided to give it a spin… blowing us away since the first track.
Opening in a bombastic manner with “Thrones of Shadow”, the band indeed still sounds a bit like CoF used to do back in the day, with the huge difference than Hecate Enthroned is now 10 times better than CoF. The growls and shrieks, courtesy of new vocalist Elliot Beaver, are top notch and nicely elevate the intensity level of the already well-crafted symphonic music. Never leaving the aggressive Death Metal elements aside, tracks like “Unchained” are equal parts brutality to melody. The drumming is quite massive and the overall melodic-yet-aggressive vibe is super in songs like “Abyssal March” and the brilliant “Plagued by Black Death”, one of our favorites of this release.
Arriving from the most powerful Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal band from Finland, today we have “The Three-faced Pilgrim”. Featuring six tracks of majestic BM filled with crushing guitars and eerie atmospheric elements, Alghazanth continues to improve upon their legacy with another masterful release. Bearing a few line-up adjustments, the band keeps their lush Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal in place with some of the most exciting songs we have heard in 2013.
Opening with the devastating “In Your Midnight Orchard”, we have a raw BM with awesome atmospheric highlights. The band has been perfecting their craft for a few years now, and with this release they take it to a whole new level of brutality. Just picture Horna with keyboards and Alghazanth is what you get. The melodic riffing is another aspect of the band that shows their true craft when it comes to songs like “To The Pear of High” and “Promethean Permutation”, both filled with excellent melodic riffs that seamlessly change tempos between aggressive and hyper-blast mode.
After gaining quite a boost on outside of Taiwan popularity with “Takasago Army”, Chthonic returns with another very intense and equally interesting release. With “Bú-Tik” the band continues with their very thematic lyrical context and their majestic music that mixes Melodic/Symphonic Black/Death Metal elements with lush arrangements and authentic instrumentation. Proving that their last album was not a fluke, “Bú-Tik” continues with their musical intensity, and delivers ten tracks of top-notch quality.
The album opens with the very dramatic “Arising Armament”, a lush instrumental intro with a very tense vibe. The band’s musical magic continues with the powerful “Supreme Pain for the Tyrant”, a very aggressive yet atmospheric and catchy track. The vocals of Freddy Lim are impressive, and add that extra level of intensity to the music. “Sail into the Sunset’s Fire” keeps things rolling with blistering drumming and excellent riffing, a highly underrated skill from the band if you ask us. Featuring some excellent solos, this track is one of the best of the album.