Arriving from Australia with great brutality and rawness, today we have Dreaded Void and their debut EP “The Abyssal Plane of Suffering”. Delivering over 20 minutes of gut-wrenching Black Metal, this is one of those few releases that while being quite brutal and harsh, it manages to be engineered to sound perfect.
The EP kicks off with the blistering riffing of “Abyssal”. This track is filled with hate as we can hear from the combination of screams and growls that overtake the intensity of the riffing and drumming. There is a nearly instantaneous wall of sound being delivered via the relentless riffing onslaughts. Like a bag of bricks directly to the face, “The Murk” continues the ravaging with very brutal screams and a very sinister mood.
Hailing from Finland, today we have Heidi Parviainen’s Dark Sarah and their sophomore full-length release titled “The Puzzle”. Delivering ten bombastic songs of very dramatic and theatrical Symphonic/Gothic Metal, Heidi continues to come out the shadows of her ex band Amberian Dawn and establish her-self (and the new band) as one of the most dynamic and engaging bands in the genre. If you like bands like Nightwish, Epica, Cornoatus, etc. this is one release you don’t want to miss.
After the opening intro, “Island in the Mist” opens up with heavy riffs and magical keyboards. With this approach the track feels quite engaging and very bombastic as Hedi’s vocals appear adding to the magic. With Erkka Korhonen (Northern Kings) and Sami Salonen handling the guitar duties, tracks like “Little Men” and “Ash Grove” are both heavy and playful, changing tempos perfectly and allowing the music to be as dynamic and explosive as possible.
France continues to surprise use by producing some of the most interesting Metal bands in the last 10 years. Dysylum continues this tradition by leveling our speakers with their dissonant Progressive mixture of Death and Black Metal with some Sludge elements in “Chaos Primordial”. Featuring 28 minutes of crushing music, this release creates a very thick atmospheric atmosphere that is perfect for a dark and gloomy day.
After the opening intro, the album title track delivers some mid-tempo oppressive Black Metal-ish riffs that suddenly morph back and forth into heavy Sludgy Death riffs. The vocals are quite harsh and perfectly fitting for such an oppressive sound. Things pick up with the ravaging onslaughts of “Œuf Cosmique”, filled with eerie growls and screams. The drumming intensifies for some parts, changing the pace and levels of brutality of this song accordingly.
There is a certain magical rawness to South American Black Metal release that is missing from bands from other parts of the world. In this vein, today we have Peru’s Sign of the Evil and their crushing full-length debut “Black Throne of Blood”. Delivering over 30 minutes of blistering and ravaging Black Metal, this album perfectly balances rawness with a small dose of melody to keep things interesting and engaging.
After the atmospheric intro, the band delivers their first blow with the pummeling “Black Throne of Blood”. This track reminds us of bands like Avzhia and their primitive Black Metal rawness. The onslaughts continue with the brutality of “Demoniac War” and “Christian Blood for Satan”, both filled with tremolo picking guitar passages and hellish subhuman vocals.
Hands down the most emotionally draining album of 2016 has to be Trees of Eternity’s debut full-length release “Hour of the Nightingale”. Filled with lush Atmospheric/Gothic Doom songs, this release is nearly as emotional as its back story. After a few years in limbo and a bit too late for some, released under Svart records, this release will definitely crawl up under your skin and fill you with melancholy.
Opening with Swallow the Sun-esque heavy riffs, “My Requiem” sets the listener into an emotional journey for over 62 minutes of unparalleled melancholy. As the band’s singer Aleah Stanbridge first showcases her vocal talents, the music quickly becomes even darker and more emotive. Unluckily for the world, Aleah’s talents will no longer be present as she passed before the release of this album. However, her presence in this release at least shines light of her talents and dedication to the band.
As one of the biggest surprises of 2016, today we have the return of Madder Mortem and their whacky Progressive Metal with “Red in Tooth and Claw”. Always hard to peg down and describe, this Norwegian band has consistently released very unique album and with this one they sound as crazy as ever. Delivering over 50 minutes of music, this release was definitely worth the 6 year wait.
Opening with the funky “Blood on the Sand” we are instantly transported to the band’s unique musical world. Agnete’s signature vocals perfectly lead this very engaging track that features tons of odd tempo changes and has a certain circus vibe to it. The madness continues in very different shapes as “If I could” and “Fallow Season” deliver funkadelic rhythms and very playful combinations of intricate bass guitar lines and heavy riffs.
Leveling everything on their path, today we have Neurosis and their devastating release “Fires within Fires”. Unleashed after a period of high activity from the band which saw them tour the world with handpicked 30 years anniversary shows, this release delivers over 40 minutes of soul crushing music. Featuring five songs, the album will satisfy any follower of the band and “power of the riff” connoisseurs.
Ripping things wide open with the relentless riffing of “Bending Light”, the band starts on a high note with massive walls of sound and the signature Neurosis vocal attack. Going into more hypnotic territories with the tribal-influenced “A Shadow Memory”, Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till continue their riffing onslaught in this punishing song. The atmospheric elements, courtesy of Noah Landis, in “Fire is the End Lesson” make this track one of our favorite ones.
Hailing from the Netherlands, today we have extremely promising Progressive Metal outfit Armed Cloud and their debut release “Obsidian Desert”. Featuring over 57 of music, this release is both engaging a very technically proficient, showcasing the band’s songwriting skills and instrument abilities. Recommended for fans of bands like Circus Maximus, Ayreon, and Pain of Salvation, this release will keep you entertained for a while.
Opening with the playful title-track, the band instantly sets a very mellow mood filled with intricate details. This song showcases Daan Dekker’s excellent vocals and the tight percussions of Rico Noijen. Getting a good vocalist is vital for Prog bands and Daan does a great job in pieces like “Wound Healer” and the dramatic “In your Mind”.
Six years after their brilliant sophomore release “Falling Mist”, today we have Heaven Grey’s latest opus “Manuscriptum”. As one of the hidden Baltic gems of Gothic/Doom Metal bands (Frailty is another one), the band delivers nine excellent tracks of melancholic music which show the band’s musical evolution over the years.
Opening with the dramatic atmospheric intro of “Insomnia”, the band nicely settles with some melancholic riffs and very well crafted tempo changes. This track perfectly sets a very mellow and depressive mood that is nicely enhanced by the excellent clean vocals of the band’s new singer Artūrs Fishers. Mixing clean and harsh vocal styles, tracks like “Drown in My Shade” and “Sirds Balss” showcase a perfect balance and great complementarity between the styles.
Arriving from the UK, today we have Abandoned Stars and their brilliant debut full-length release “Fragments”. Featuring over 64 minutes of bombastic and acrobatic Progressive/Power Metal, this band makes a strong impression with great musicianship and even better song writing skills. For fans of bands like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, and Stratovarius, “Fragments” is one hell of a musical ride that should be in everybody’s album collection.
Not wasting much time after the traditional atmospheric intro, “The Sleepless Man’s Conscious Dream” instantly sets a very lively tempo with solid guitar leads and intricate tempo changes. Olivier Hadder’s vocals are quite distinct and range from power/heavy metal notes to darker and more somber deeper tones, giving them great range and diversity, as we can hear in the excellent “Neverwhere” and the rest of the release.