Ihsahn - Telemark (2020)

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With most bands happy to just crank out full-length after full-length releases, Black Metal pioneer Ihsahn decided to challenge himself and do the opposite: break up a full-length release and deliver it as two EP’s. In “Telemark” we can hear some of his most rawest and direct compositions in quite a while, showing that this experiment has allowed Ihsahn to focus on the duality of his sound in compartmentalized approaches.

The incisive opener “Stridig” perfectly balances raw and punishing BM onslaughts with trippy Saxophone elements and a very dreamy and yet aggressive stance. With all the lyrics in Norwegian, this track has a brilliant pace and feels like yet another exploratory dimension to Ihsahn’s unique musical vision. With a bluesy aggression to it, “Nord” perfectly combines heavy riffs with crafty tempo changes and a sultry hypnotic pace thanks to a piercing bass guitar line and sinister drum patterns.

Serenity - The Last Knight (2020)

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Unleashing one of the most cinematic and lively releases of 2020, today we have Serenity and “The Last Knight”. Featuring over 47 minutes of high-octane over-the-top Symphonic Power Metal, this album is ready to rock all fans of the band and gain them some more. Slowly over the years the band has been refining their sound and as a well-oiled machine, this release showcases their best attributes delivered through eleven intense songs.

Setting a very regal mode with the album title track as the opener, we get the band’s lush arrangements leading into the explosive “Invictus”. Georg Neuhauser again delivers commanding lead vocals surrounded by dramatic choirs and killer guitar leads. This type of explosiveness as gained wide recognition to the band, and tracks like “Set the World on Fire” and “Keeper of the Knights” majestically demonstrate the band’s bombasticness.

Mavorim - Axis Mundi (2020)

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Starting 2020 on fire, German label Purity Through Fire unleashes yet another excellent Black Metal release with Mavorim’s sophomore full-length release “Axis Mundi”. Presenting a mixture of Ambient elements with Melodic Black Metal spurts, this release clock in at around 60 minutes of engaging and crafty music. As a one-man entity, this outfit’s sound is a bit retro, folk-like, heavy and powerful at the same time.

After the mood setting into, we get the mystical “Aus Asche auferstanden” filled with subtle synths and a demolishing BM pace. The harsh screams perfectly blend in with the powerful riffs and the very well marked drums. This very martial musical structure is quite effective in creating well delineated songs that are enjoyable and yet predictable, as the dreamy “Wo kriegergleiche Kräfte walten” and its magical clean vocal arrangements.

Amberian Dawn - Looking for You (2020)

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Unleashing their latest bombastic Symphonic/Power Metal opus, today we have Amberian Dawn with “Looking for You”. Featuring a very retro and yet futuristic vibe, the band delivers over 40 minutes of lush music filled with captivating vocals and superbly catchy arrangements. If you are a fan of bands like Avantasia, Sonata Arctica and similar, you will not be disappointed by this release.

The album opens with the sonically brilliant “United”. Delivering retro synths that give you an 80’s vibe, this track is quite catchy as this majestically pairs with Capri’s signature vocals. With a heavy emphasis on dramatic futuristic (for the 80’s) synths, tracks like “Eternal Fire Burning”, “Looking for You”, and the explosive “Two Blades”, create a very upbeat and playful atmosphere. The dynamic sound of the band nicely keeps the listener engaged thanks to its craftiness.

Aethyrick - Gnosis (2020)

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Unleashing one of the first 2020 contenders for Black Metal album of the year, today we have Finland’s mysterious duo with “Gnosis”. While most bands follow a marked path, Aethyrick brilliantly blends elements of traditional BM with more refined atmospheric/Post-BM influences with an overall punishing but melodic approach. Always keeping the listener engaged, this release features over 40 minutes of dramatic and high quality music.

Opening with the moody “Will Embodied”, Gall and Exile set a furious tone with blistering riffs and hellish drums, however it is the melancholic guitar leads and the overall oppressive atmosphere that sets the band apart. With certain influences of outfits like Vanum, Ash Borer and Post-Black Metal elements, the band’s style is quite refined and cut-throat as we can her in crushingly melodic tracks like “Oneiric Portals” and the heavily atmospheric “Stellar Flesh”.

Goats of Doom - Tie on Hänen Omilleen (2020)

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Aside from the cringey name, Goats of Doom hails from Finland and it is ready to kick some ass with their high-octane Black Metal that reminds us of the melodic brilliance of Catamenia. Unleashing over 35 minutes of frosty music, the band does a great job in crafting intricate melodies that are just perfect for headbanging on a nice cold winter night.

Kicking off with the catchiness of “Mustan Unen Äiti”, the album sets a very intense and yet melodic tone that is rare to find these days. The epic guitar leads and hash vocal perfectly blend as the pace intensifies and the riffs continue to rip through our speakers. Avoiding repetition, the band’s track have blistering tempo changes and crafty drumming to keep things interesting when contrasted by slower paced passages with clean vocals and folky/pagan Metal vibes on tracks like “Kuolonkorjaaja” and “Sinne Mihin Valheet Ei Yllä”.

Midnight - Rebirth by Blasphemy (2020)

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Unleashing one of the most furious and yet catchy releases of 2020, today we have one-man battalion Midnight with “Rebirth by Blasphemy”. With over 16 years of existence, this release is surprisingly the fourth full-length record after a large series of EPs, splits and demos. Thanks to its completely intense live shows and the superb catchiness of their music, Athenar has managed to get signed to Metal Blade Records and now can conquer bigger stages with his intoxicating music.

Opening with the blistering “Fucking Speed and Darkness”, you get that Speed Metal vibe crossed over with Punkish elements and a hearty dose of Black Metal. This is indeed the band’s signature sound and it is perfectly paired with a completely bonkers attitude of chaos and not giving many fucks. This is clearly materialized on pummeling tracks like “Escape by Blasphemy”, “Devil’s Excrement” and the retro-sounding “Rising Scum”.

Vananidr - Damnation (2020)

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Today we have a highly melodic Black Metal entity called Vananidr and their latest full-length release “Damnation”. With a vicious edge to their sound, this band perfectly blends old-school Melodic BM elements with modern production values and a knack for long and seizure inducing headbanging passages. Showing that you don’t need too many bells and whistles to deliver a punishing performance, this album is one of the most direct and yet well-crafted releases we have heard in quite a while.

Opening with the hurricane like-tempo of the blistering drumming of “Distilled”, the listener is treated to a ravaging song with crafty tempo changes and a very oppressive atmosphere. The harsh vocal snarls perfectly pair with the sinister atmosphere crafted by the band’s mixture of piercing guitar riffs and melodic tremolo-picking passages, as perfectly outlined on the album’s title track and in the superbly catchy “Hunter”.

Sargeist - Death Veneration (2019)

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Sneakily released on the 24th of December, Sargeist unleashes nearly twenty minutes of their signature brand of Black Metal with “Death Veneration”. As one of the premiere bands of the genre, these Finns craft four intense anthems filled with furious riffing, devilish vocals and blistering drumming. As a great addition to any BM collection, this EP deserves to be heard and purchased.

Blasting the listener straight to hell with the pummeling “To Make Wolves of Men”, we have Profundus spewing his inhuman shrieks to the tune of Shatraug and VJS furious guitar work. With their signature rawness and intensity, the band transitions into the machiavellian “To Feast on Astral Blood”. We particularly enjoy this piece a lot thanks to its highly memorable melodic passages that are just brilliant for an intense headbanging session.

Unreqvited - Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse (2020)

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Just when you think you have a band figured out, Unreqvited continues to push its aural boundaries with the lush and brilliant “Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse”. Taking the best elements of its earlier releases and adding more dynamic and contrasting ones, this one-man outfit manages to create a magical atmosphere that is quite hard to come out of. If you are into Atmospheric Post-Black Metal and you think you have heard it all, this release will change your opinion.

Opening with subtle atmospherics in “Nightfall”, the track slowly evolves into an excruciating passage to the bowels of hell thanks to its punishing shrieks. However, the music stays dreamy and ethereal, creating a very interesting and powerful contrast. With a heavier vibe, “Wasteland” continues spiraling into madness with dramatic guitar work and intricate drum patterns, creating a very visceral and yet melodic experience.

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