Ghost Bath - Self Loather (2021)

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As a huge fan of the band’s first two releases, the band continues to struggle to find a new identity. With “Starmourner” things seemed to be going well as it had great ideas and solid songs, however, “Self Loather” seems a bit too sparse and while it has some fine moments, the band sounds too much like others in those slivers of home. For over 45 minutes we get a mixture of old-Ghost Bath and some odd new elements thrown into the mix, creating an interesting release in some parts, but mostly average.

Starting strongly with “Convince Me to Bleed”, we get a blistering opening with crushing drums, punishing harsh vocals, and soaring guitars similar to Deafheaven’s pre-2021 releases. With a darker atmosphere, “Hide from the Sun” is an interesting piece with a certain sinister sound that we enjoyed. On the other side, “Shrines of the Bone” and “Sanguine Mask” mix long instrumental and minimalist sections with average heavy onslaughts.

Catalyst Crime - Catalyst Crime (2021)

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Thanks to technology, bands like Catalyst Crime can ‘easily’ come together featuring an assortment of musicians around the world. Featuring members of bands like Xandria (drummer Gerit Lamm), Pyramze (keyboardist Jonah Weingarten) alongside Zoë Marie Federoff (ex-Insatia), this outfit delivers a very bombastic and explosive combination of Symphonic/Gothic Metal with cinematic elements, creating a very immersive and highly enjoyable release.

With nearly 50 minutes of explosive music, the band quickly sets a lush and bombastic vibe with the opening intro. The band’s power-ballad game is strong as “Projection Of My Mind” nicely starts with a piano passage and explodes into a superbly catchy piece with killer keyboard solos and guitar solos, distinguishing them from the pack. The album’s first standout piece has to be the memorable “Condemn Me To Chaos”, a track that will sound quite familiar but will take you a bit to realize that it has the same melody as “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak but with some twists and turns.

Vetrar Draugurinn - The Night Sky (2021)

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With the amount of releases we get at Infernal Masquerade, sometimes killer albums fall through the cracks and we end up reviewing them later than anticipated. In this category, today we have Dutch outfit Vetrar Draugurinn and their sophomore full-length release “The Night Sky”. Featuring one of our favorite singers, Marjan Welman of Autumn fame, and ex-Stream of Passion guitarist Eric Hazebroek, this band creates a very unique and dense sounding Gothic/Doom Metal.

Opening with the heavy riffs of “The Observer”, this track nicely combines melancholic passages with some proggy influences, creating a very unique and powerful style that nicely bleeds into “The Night Sky”. For fans of more melancholic and Autumn-like songs, “Lansdown Hill” perfectly uses Marjan’s vocals alongside clean male vocals to create a dark and somber piece.

Two Hundred Wolves - The Hold (2021)

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One of the best parts of the gig of reviewing music for this site is that I get to enjoy countless amounts of music, particularly the submissions from up-and-coming bands. Today we have one killer gem that made its way into my inbox: Two Hundred Wolves and their release “The Hold”. With a style similar to Jess and the Ancient Ones and Madder Mortem but with a fuzzier and jazzier side, this release delivers 44 minutes of captivating music led by the sultry vocals of Anna Matveinen.

Opening with the jazzy/proggy “Visceral Redemption”, the first impression the band makes is one of a highly original sound perfectly fronted by a versatile singer. We like all kinds of music, and this band certainly has a bit of everything, from post rock to occult rock/metal influences, creating tracks like “Oblivion”, the dynamic “Absolute Bearing”, and the highly emotive “Event Horizon”. We are huge fans of deep and unique female voices, and the band’s vocalist definitely stands out from the rest.

Thulcandra - A Dying Wish (2021)

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Unleashing waves of old-school Melodic Black/Death Metal in the vein of Dissection, today we have Thulcandra and their latest opus “A Dying Wish”. Packed with ten tracks and nearly 45 minutes of incisive music, Steffen Kummerer keeps the old-school vibe alive with this excellent release. With a heavy tribute to Jon Nötveidt's style, the band continues to refine their sound and create brilliantly executed pieces that will appeal to old and new Black/Death Metal fans.

The release opens very strongly with the dreamy “Funeral Pyre” and its mixture of melodic passages and furious onslaughts, perfectly balancing brutality and melody while delivering a timeless sound and aural aggression. We are particularly blown away by the fast-paced songs in this release that remind us of early Entombed and Sacramentum, for example songs like “Scarred Grandeur”, “In Vain”, and “Nocturnal Heresy”.

Hate - Rugia (2021)

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Led by Adam Buszko, Hate is one of Metal Blade’s heaviest bands and they have returned with a vengeance with “Rugia”. Unleashing nine tracks and nearly 40 minutes of devastating music, Hate features a sound similar to Behemoth but with its own brand of aural poison and intensity. If you are a fan of Blackened Death Metal, and bands like Belphegor and Azarath, this is one release you can’t miss.

Opening with the album title track, the band makes a vicious statement with crushing riffs, devilish snarls and tight drumming. The band’s sound is quite refined and vicious, allowing them to introduce melody alongside their superbly brutal and swift onslaughts, evidence of this are songs like “The Wolf Queen”, “Exiles of Pantheon”, and one of favorites “Awakening the Gods Within”. Not just blasting the listener away with sheer brutality, the band systematically attacks with their musicality and execution.

Be'lakor - Coherence (2021)

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Five years in the making, Aussie quintet Be'lakor returns with a vengeance with their highly anticipated fifth full-length release “Coherence”. Delivering over one hour of amazing Melodic Death Metal, the band is ready to make up for lost time and take over the scene with this impressive release. Further refining their high-octane signature style, this release will propel the band to new heights.

The release kicks off with the mysterious “Locus” and its blistering drumming alongside twin guitars creating a superbly melodic and catchy opening piece, nothing less than what we expected from the band. Playfully playing with excellent tempo changes and nice guitar solos, the band masterfully manipulates long tracks into feeling very short, as they are quite exciting and engaging, for example the piercing “Foothold” and its sweeping melodies, or the playful “Valence” and its heavy back and forth.

Aran - Pimeyttä vasten (2021)

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As a relatively new band, Aran delivers some intense and lush Atmospheric Black Metal that many other bands wish could emulate. With “Pimeyttä vasten”, band mastermind Juhani K unleashes over 45 minutes of intense and captivating music. Filled with crushing harshness and dream-like atmospherics, this release is highly recommended for fans of bands like Lustre and Midnight Odyssey.

The release kicks off with the magical and enchanting atmospherics of “Valon Vienyt”, a track that has that vibe that Sci-Fi/Fantasy movies create of distant realms, perfectly paired with harsh Black Metal shrieks and crushing guitars. There is an art to creating versatile atmospheric BM, and Aran has it figured out with tracks like “Musta meri”, which start quite punishing and slowly evolve into more dreamy and ambient-ish territories.

Cradle of Filth - Existence is Futile (2021)

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Just in time for our Halloween parties, Cradle of Filth unleashes their latest devilishly good opus with “Existence is Futile”. Aging well with time, the band in the last 10+ years has honed into their strengths and continues to deliver consistently engaging and well crafted releases. For over 70 minutes the band unleashes their signature sound filled with lush atmospherics, engaging storytelling, fierce guitar work, and the introduction of Anabelle Iratni on keyboards and female vocals, making this one of their more diverse and engaging releases to date.

After the traditional instrumental intro, “Existential Terror” sets a very dark and sinister tone with over-the-top choirs and orchestrations alongside Dani’s signature shrieks and some incisive guitar work. While the band’s sound is always familiar, and pieces like “Crawling King Chaos”, “Black Smoke Curling From the Lips of War” are staple CoF songs, we particularly love haunting tracks like “Necromantic Fantasies” with a certain “Nymphetamine” (song) vibe, but with Anabelle’s enchantress vocals spin and a more sultry tone.

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