Dark Buddha Rising - Mathreyata (2020)

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Always delivering a truly hypnotic and ritualistic aural experience, today we have Dark Buddha Rising and their latest opus “Mathreyata”. Hailing from Finland, this outfit continues to captivate audiences with their piercing and ritualistic compositions, unleashing nearly 43 minutes of music in four tracks. For those that like heavy distorted guitars, trippy percussions and tempo changes, alongside a good dose of Drone, Sludge, and Pysch, this release is face melting.

Opening with the trippy “Sunyaga”, the listener is faced with a barrage of pummeling riffs alongside a psychedelic undertone. Vocalist Marko Neuman is one of those weird forces that seems to unleash multiple personalities while singing, creating a very mysterious and yet brutal aural. Feeling already numb and subdued, the second track “Nagathma” takes the eerie atmospherics to a whole new level thanks to some superbly creepy elements paired alongside crafty drum patterns and spacious guitars.

Countless Skies - Glow (2020)

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Unleashing one of the most impressive releases of 2020, today we have Countless Skies and their sophomore full-length release “Glow”. In a time that there is so much uncertainty and shittiness in the world, one of the things that brings smiles to people is music, and this is one of those releases that will captivate and change the mood of the listener from the first minute. If you thought that Dark Tranquillity was going to take the best Melodic Death Metal release of 2020, you better wait until you check this one out.

Opening with an instrumental intro, “Tempest” sets a very magical and wondrous vibe thanks to its crafty use of atmospheric keyboards and the soaring guitars. The mixture of harsh vocals and soaring clean vocals alongside epic guitar leads gives the song a certain proggy edge that makes it even more impressive. The magic continues with the lush “Summit”, a slowly building piece that shines a very bright light by combining elements of bands like Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, with the roughness of Bela’kor. This track takes epic vocal arrangements to a whole new level for the band, creating an epic complement to their already superb core.

Décembre Noir - The Renaissance of Hope (2020)

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Hailing from Germany, today we have Melodic Death/Doom Metal outfit Décembre Noir with their harrowing fourth full-length release “The Renaissance of Hope”. Featuring nearly 50 minutes of firm and yet highly emotional music, the band delivers six brutal tracks that brilliantly balance fragility, aggression and melody. For fans of bands like Swallow the Sun, My Dying Bride, and similar outfits, this release will certainly bring some fuzzy warmness during the winter months.

Opening with the pummeling “A Swan Lake Full of Tears”, the band quickly establishes a hefty balance between incisive guitar riffs and gruff growls. Setting a high bar, this track is quite hectic and powerful even as it progresses into more melodic and solemn minimalist interludes with clean vocals. Those looking for heavier pieces, “Hope/Renaissance” and “Wings of Eschaton” are both quite pummeling thanks to crafty drum patterns and very heavy dueling guitar work. While many bands tend to become overly melodic, Décembre Noir’s sound is quite firm and ravaging.

Völur - Death Cult (2020)

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The always mysterious and intoxicating sound of Völur is quite hard to describe but completely unique to experience. Delivering their third full-length release “Death Cult”, the band continues their path of darkness with a very lush, engaging, and captivating release. For nearly 40 minutes the band transports the listener into a very unique and mystical folky world that is beautifully crafted.

Starting with the hypnotic “Inviolate Grove”, the band quickly creates a very distressing atmosphere thanks to the dramatic use of string instruments and a captivating bass guitar line. For those not familiar with the band, Völur shies away from your traditional distorted guitars to a combination of pummeling bass guitar, electric violins/violas, and lush percussions, creating a very unique and dense atmosphere that can only be compared to some extent to parts of bands like Elend and early Silent Stream of Godless Elegy.

The Kryptik - Behold Fortress Inferno (2020)

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Striking while the iron is hot, Brazilian Black Metal duo The Kryptik follow up their crushing 2019 release with a superbly impressive EP titled “Behold Fortress Inferno”. With nearly 40 minutes of music, this release creates a very sinister symphonic atmosphere paired with hellish shrieks and blistering guitars to deliver one hell of a ride. If you like adorned, raw, and powerful BM, this is one release you can’t miss.

Setting a very cinematic and gothic mood with the album title track’s opening atmospherics, The Kryptik brings back the days of Charmand Grimloch and his Tartaros project. The chilling atmosphere is nicely complemented by the pummeling blast-beats and hellish screams, creating a very intense experience. The brutality continues as “The Plagues of the Abyss” and “Black Legions March” continue to perfectly balance eerie atmospherics, melodic passages, and creepy interludes with pummeling riffing and a pretty aggressive overall pace.

Odiosior - Syvyyksistä (2020)

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Unleashing one of the most diverse and engaging ‘traditional’ Black Metal releases in 2020, today we have Odiosior and their multifaceted “Syvyyksistä”. Taking elements from tons of different variants of the genre and wrapping them around a pummelling and frosty superbly raw core, this release changes colors like a chameleon. If you like diverse BM this is one of those releases that feels like a buffet of different flavors.

The release opens with the hyper violent “Viha Minussa” and its bestial onslaughts of shrieks of pain and intense guitars. Some more interesting elements start to appear, like haunting keyboards and funky atmospherics that will play a larger role as the album progresses. With a certain Darkthrone-esque rawness, “Takaisin Kaaokseen” has that playful Punkish sound with crafty drums and catchy passages. On “Laulu Pimeydessä” the band makes keyboards the focal atmospheric point, creating a very engaging and at times chilling song, with a certain horror-movie-like flair.

Void Paradigm - Ultime Pulsation | Demain Brûle (2020)

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Perfectly crafted for those of us that like funky Black Metal with tons of unique and at times bonkers elements, Void Paradigm prepares to unleash: “Ultime Pulsation | Demain Brûle”. In this 38+ minute release, the band presents two songs that create very unique atmospheres and are full of intricate little details to discover. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Ved Buens Ende and Ephel Duath.

The release kicks off with side A, “Ultime Pulsation”, a chilling song that slowly builds up to a very chaotic catharsis and a hefty dosage of creepy atmospherics and stern vocals. With incisive and punishing riffs flanking the hellish vocals of Jonathan Théry, the release instantly induces anxiety upon the unsuspecting listener. We particularly enjoy how the crafty tempo changes and funky drum patterns shape how the song unravels to the listener while creating some interesting and subtle instrumental passages.

Dark Tranquillity - Moment (2020)

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Unleashing one of the most expected releases of 2020, today we have Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity and their mesmerizing release “Moment”. Featuring over 50-minutes of superbly crafted Melodic Death Metal, the band continues to deliver their signature style music with a few additions courtesy of new guitarists Johan Reinholdz and Christopher Amott.

Opening the release with great style and energy, “Phantom Days” sets forth this aural journey with the futuristic keyboards of Martin Brändström alongside re-energized melodic guitar passages and exciting guitar leads. As both Amott and Reinholdz have integrated into the band, tracks like “Transient” and “Identical to None” change things up a bit and feel more energetic and engaging, with ripping solos and unparalleled guitar craftsmanship, to go alongside the band’s signature melody.

Epitimia - Allusion (2020)

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Crafting a very unique and cinematic Post-Black Metal experience, today we have Russia’s Epitimia and their latest opus: “Allusion”. Featuring seven tracks and nearly one hour of extremely crafty and well engineered music, this release has a little bit of everything. Not going down the same path of most Post-Black Metal bands, this outfit focuses on creating a brutal experience that manages slower and melancholic passages quite efficiently.

After a lush opening, “Clue I: Animist” delivers blistering harsh vocals alongside intense guitars creating a hash but intriguing atmosphere. Weaving back and forth between melodic interludes and aggressive passages, this track sets a very engaging mood. After a punishing opening, “Clue II: Melancholia I” hones in on more melancholic and intricate territories with some more experimental and seemingly free-form sections near its end.

Boreal - The Battle of VOSAD (2020)

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Atmospheric Black Metal is one of those genres where bands can either deliver excellent and chilling releases or just completely shit the bed. Luckily for us, Boreal’s debut full-length release “The Battle of VOSAD” is quite good, providing a solid experience to the listener. For fans of bands like Limbonic Art or Mysticum, this release creates a haunting and yet magical vibe.

Opening with the lush intro of “The Battle”, the band sets a very regal and fantasy-like ambiance before hitting the listener with a Mysticum-esque Industrial-ish sounding Black Metal with powerful vocals and solid riffs. The drums, which sound more like programmed drums, but you never know these days as software has gotten quite good, set a very martial and hypnotic pace, keeping the atmospheric elements flowing effectively and elegantly.

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