Dødsengel - Bab Al On (2022)

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Crawling out of the depths of hell, today we have Norway’s Dødsengel and their latest opus “Bab Al On”. Playing a vicious Atmospheric/Occult Black Metal, this outfit has some serious Blut Aus Nord vibes minus the industrial aspects. Unleashing some of the most decadent and misery inducing soundscapes, this release clocks in at 72 minutes of pure evil and atmosphere. If you like dense and ritualistic BM, this is certainly one of the best releases of 2022 for that.

The album starts with the cavernous ritualistic intro “Ad Babalonis Amorem Do Dedico Omnia Nihilo”, creating a very unsettling atmosphere that quickly leads way to hellish vocal arrangements and piercing guitars. The band goes full-on with the crushing “In the Beginning” and its hellish tremolo picking alongside relentless waves of aggression. Just as you think you can settle for all-out war, the band changes directions with the eerie “Annihilation Mantra” and its haunting vocals.

Scars of the Flesh - In Darkness Alone (2022)

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Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, today we have Scars of the Flesh and their third full-length release “In Darkness Alone”. Unleashing five original tracks and four very well crafted cover songs, the band showcases their own brand of Death Metal with some Melodic/Progressive influences for over 50 minutes of engaging music. For fans of bands like Cenotaph, The Chasm, and similar outfits, this band packs a big punch and nicely combines it with a good dose of melody.

Opening with the punishing “Only I”, a dark and sinister mood is quickly set thanks to the incisive guitars and Kobey Lange’s growls. While there are plenty of classic Death Metal riffs used, tracks like “The Hooded One” and “In Darkness Alone” add extra layers of melody alongside technical craftiness and even some additional atmospheric elements. Our favorite track has to be the mournful “Memory Unknown”, a track that has some killer Doomy undertones and excellent guitar leads and headbanging moments.

Orphique - Consécration Cadavérique (2022)

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Canada continues to amaze us with their Black Metal talent, with bands like Délétère, Monarque, and Forteresse leading the way, there are plenty of additional bands with unique and explosive styles such as Orphique. As a one-man project of David Potter, “Consécration Cadavérique” perfectly blends multiple styles with sheer brutality and intensity to create a very powerful and punishing release.

Opening with the moody “Onirique”, the band unleashes a crushing opening that slowly transitions into more melodic and sinister territories. We love how the track transitions into heavy atmospherics and a slower pace and then it jumps back at the listener with sheer brutality. If the first highly impressive track did not hook the listener, “Vampirique” and “Chromatique” combine lush atmospherics, crafty acoustic guitars and a mixture of high-octane onslaughts and dreamy interludes.

Isafjørd - Hjartastaki (2022)

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Formed by Aðalbjörn Addi Tryggvason (Sólstafir) and Ragnar Zolberg (Sign/x-Pain of Salvation), Isafjørd is a new project that delivers a very unique and bleak form of Post-Rock, filled with desolation and despair. Perfect for the winter, this release clocks around 52 minutes of expertly crafted music divided in eight tracks filled with melancholy and atmosphere. If you like Post-Rock, but of the more depressive kind, this is an album you can't miss.

Opening with the trance-inducing “Falin Skemmd”, the band really sets a low-energy desolate mood with weeping guitars and crafty percussions. Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s vocals perfectly fit the level of melancholy created by the group and when sung in Icelanding add that extra layer of uniqueness as they transmit emotions without necessarily understanding the lyrics, as “Mín Svarta Hlið” and “Hjartastjaki” perfectly capture.

Obsidious - Iconic (2022)

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Spanning back in 2020 out of ex members of Obscura, Obsidious is one of those bands that perfectly combines technical wizardry with solid songwriting to craft unique songs that are brilliant in both departments, not just one of the two like tons of other bands. Unleashing over 53 minutes of music, some might expect just another version of Obscura, but the band is far from this as it feels more like a mixture of Scar Symmetry, older Soilwork, some of the pace of Persefone, with some Cynic sprinkles. If you are a fan of the genre, you should better keep an eye out for these guys.

The release opens with the imposing “Under Black Skies” and its pretty brutal delivery of multiple styles of harsh vocals alongside punishing riffs and crushing drums courtesy of Sebastian Lanser. The mood quickly changes and becomes more dynamic as the soaring clean vocals change the tempo a bit. The band’s sound is quite well crafted as it is never too linear and keeps throwing things at the listeners to keep them guessing as one can appreciate from tracks like “Sense of Lust”, “Iconic” and “Bound By Fire”.

Neptune - The Rebirth (2022)

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Unleashing nearly 20 minutes of catchy old-school Heavy Metal, today we have Sweden’s Neptune and their EP “The Rebirth”. After releasing some demos in the 80’s, this outfit came back in 2017 and you can instantly tell they have a certain vintage to their sound, making them pretty retro (but in a cool way). If you are a fan of the more direct and straightforward Heavy Metal from the past minus the glam and flamboyance, this release should interest you.

Arche - Transitions (2022)

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One of our favorite genres at Infernal Masquerade has to be any variant of Death/Doom Metal, particularly during winter, Funeral Doom Metal releases are just the best for a stroll in the cold weather. Today we have Finland’s latest export named Arche and their full-length debut “Transitions”. Featuring three songs and over 36 minutes of music, this release shows a worthy competitor to Finnish greats like Thergothon, Shape of Despair and Skepticism.

Årabrot - Heart (2022)

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Hailing from Norway, Kjetil Nernes and Karin Park are the duo known as Årabrot, a very eclectic and quite interesting Noise-Rock band. Usually a bit far from our regular cup of tea, we didn’t really get into the band until their intense set at L'Homme Sauvage 2022 in France earlier this year. The show’s intensity was palpable and both Kjetil and Karin are so charismatic that their music really clicked when seeing them deliver it live, luckily we also were able to capture it on our camera lens in this gallery.

In “Heart” the band delivers four very unique and atmospheric covers of well known tracks but with the band’s unique spin and vibrance added to the mix. After a funky intro, the cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “Lightning Girl” comes around and the band immediately does their own thing perfectly blending funky arrangements, distorted guitars and Karin’s talented vocals. Our favorite cover has to be the band’s version of Miklós Rózsa suite for Green Fire, as the original is an instrumental piece, but here we get some hypnotic vocals and a creepy Sabbath Assembly like vibe from it.

Project 34 - Project 34 (2022)

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Unleashing a whole musical experience on its own, Project 34 is set to release their eponymous third release in December of 2022. Led by Chris & Renee Lahoud from Australia, this project combines over 30 musicians from over 13 countries, creating one of the most distributed collaborations we have heard in the dark corners of Metal music. Clocking in at 64 minutes, this album is composed of three different chapters divided in 19 songs that cover many genres of Metal and non-Metal styles.

Instead of reviewing track by track, we will focus more on each of the three chapters, the first one is comprised of tracks 1 to 5 and it kicks off with Middle-Eastern instrumentation and it quickly leads into heavy distorted guitars and a certain Ihshan-esque proggy vibe as the saxophone comes into play. The guitar leads are quite intoxicating and perfectly blended between moments of aggression and great melody, particularly in the third song of this chapter which sounds a bit like if Opeth would play both their old stuff with some of their groovier newer elements.

Soen - Atlantis (2022)

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Hailing from Sweden (mainly), Soen is a Progressive Metal band formed by Martín López (ex-Opeth, ex-Amon Amarth) on drums and Joel Ekelöf on vocals. Having Steve Di Giorgio on bass at some point, this band has been labeled as a super group and they quite live up to their branding with five excellent full-length releases under their belts. With “Atlantis” the band’s strips down their sound (a bit) and delivers a very unique semi-acoustic experience with extra vocals and string arrangements.

As part of a live DVD release and special occasions live set, “Atlantis” delivers the band’s greatest hits in a more intimate and elegant way. We have tracks like “Antagonist” and “Trails” with additional arrangements giving them an extra heartfelt vibe and nicely highlighting Joel’s charismatic lead vocals. Other songs like “Jinn” have been enhanced with some lush Middle-eastern inspired string arrangements alongside the band’s commanding distorted guitars.

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