Nigrum Pluviam - Eternal Fall into the Abyss (2021)

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One-man battalion Nigrum Pluviam is ready to unleash to the world its debut full-length “Eternal Fall into the Abyss”. Released through Signal Rex, mastermind Kraëh Määtruum delivers one of the most punishing and lo-fi releases of 2021. With a sound from the 90’s and a legit production style, the listener is treated to 40 minutes of cavernous and demoralizing music.

Opening with the mysterious intro “The Whisper of the Black Rain”, things really get down and dirty with the pummeling “A Catharsis for the Wretched Carrying the Divine Cross”, a track that quickly reminds us of bands like Fimbulwinter and old-school Gehenna. As tracks like “The Reflection of Your Agony in the Vulture's Eyes”, and “Devotion to Absolute Evil” spew their rawness, we can enjoy some blistering tremolo-picking alongside hellish vocals and a very oppressive atmosphere.

Ulvik - Cascades (2021)

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Hailing from Northern Canada, today we have Ulvik and their hypnotic Atmospheric Black Metal release “Cascades”. With elements from outfits like Wolves in the Throne Room, Saor, and similar bands, this release unleashes over 30 minutes of punishing BM filled with lush atmospheric elements and an eerie vibe. If you like meticulously constructed music that is both brutal and engages all your senses, this is the album for you.

Opening with the expansive “Baaltis”, we are treated to an unsettling calm in the first few minutes that slowly escalates into blistering guitars, harsh screams, and very hypnotic drum patterns. As this track dramatically scales back and turns into a lush cinematic experience, “Nokhur” follows up with unapologetic rawness. We particularly enjoy how the ‘clam’ interlude allows for some respite just before more hellish vocals and dissonant guitars disrupt the flow of things.

Lantlos - Wildhund (2021)

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Seven years have passed since Lantlos released “Melting Sun”, an album that turned the page from the early Post-Black Metal days into more sonically diverse and immersive territories. With “Wildhund”, Markus Siegenhort further develops his musical exploration and delivers over 50 minutes of superbly catchy and sonically engaging music. If you like heavy, lush, and sonically imposing releases that are not quite Metal music, this album should peak your interest.

The release quickly sets a very dreamy mood with the lush atmospherics of “Lake Fantasy”. This track continues the “Melting Sun” style of soaring vocal arrangements alongside powerful distorted guitars and generous atmospherics. “Magnolia” nicely continues with playful tempo changes and lively clean vocals alongside a commanding bass guitar line and crafty drumming.

Year of No Light - Consolamentum (2021)

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Nearly eight years have passed since Year of No Light’s last full length release “Tocsin”. Making all the wait completely worth it, “Consolamentum” delivers a monumentally sonically abusive 55 minutes of soul-crushing instrumental Post-Metal/Doom. Competing with the latest Amenra release, this album explores the depths of sound with its punishing onslaughts and nicely evolves the band’s already signature style.

Opening with a few minutes of drone/atmospheric intro, “Objuration” slowly builds up to massive riffs and oppressive drum patterns. The atmospherics nicely further elevate the band’s sound, creating very contrasting and dissonant sections. The second piece, “Alétheia” burns even slower with a dreamy Post-Rock-ish/Shoegazy intro that gradually escalates into sweet sweet heaviness.

Xasthur - Victims of the Times (2021)

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It was quite a shock when we listened to the first cross-over dark/neo folk Xasthur release as we expected the band’s older style. However, we managed to get over it as many years have passed and actually enjoyed their Prophecy Fest 2018 (USA edition) performance quite a lot. In “Victims of the Times”, Malefic delivers around 70 minutes of engaging dark and somber music that could be described as a combination of King Dude, Dornenreich, with some Americana elements.

Not everybody can pull off the Dark Folk style, but as the album starts with “Same Old Suspects”, it is instantly clear that Malefic perfectly blends somber arrangements with crafty guitars and a personable voice. Mixing in acoustic 1 -2 minute long interludes between the first 10 or so tracks brilliantly works for this release as a transition between tracks like “Mirror in the Face”, “Fairy Tale Ideologies”, and “Stars Amongst Failures”, allows the songs with vocals to be better framed and more effective.

Enshine - Transcending Fire (2021)

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Perfectly blending melancholy and melody, today we have the latest EP of international duo Enshine, titled “Transcending Fire”. Highly recommended for fans of In Mourning, Insomnium and similar outfits, this release delivers 20 minutes of highly refined melancholic music. Slowly evolving since their 2013 debut release, the band seamlessly blends different influences in a highly appealing and atmospheric package.

Opening with the title track, we are treated to a slow and melodic intro with lush guitar arrangements and highly melancholic atmosphere. The mixture of clean and harsh vocals works in perfect harmony as the track weaves back and forth between heavy passages to more exploratory melody interludes. One of the band’s greatest strengths is the ability to create highly enjoyable songs that are conducive of both fearless headbanging and hypnotic contemplation, as we can hear in “Awake in Void” and the dreamy “Ascend”.

Fractal Universe - The Impassable Horizon (2021)

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With the Progressive/Technical Death Metal scene getting crowded, it is hard to find releases that are both excellently crafted and technically proficient. It takes good musicians to do the latter, but an excellent band to do first. France’s Fractal Universe have been slowly refining their trade and with “The Impassable Horizon” the band reaches new heights. Rivaling cohesive albums from bands like Between the Buried and Me and Obscura, this release is brilliant in all its aspects.

Opening with “Autopoiesis”, we instantly get blistering onslaughts of crafty drumming, intense guitar solos and a wide variety of crushing vocal arrangements. Not stopping at just awesome, “A Clockwork Expectation”, “Interfering Spherical Scenes”, and “Symmetrical Masquerade” perfectly blend virtuosity with excellent songwriting skills. With influences ranging from more traditional Tech Death Metal, to Jazzy and even Groove/Djent Meshuggah-esque elements, each track is a unique and expansive musical journey.

Thy Catafalque - Vadak (2021)

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For those of us that like weird music that pushes the boundaries while keeping Metal elements in the mix, Thy Catafalque has been delivering highly innovative releases over the years. Tamás Kátai returns after one year since the band’s last release with “Vadak”, featuring over 62 minutes of captivating and yet difficult to digest music. If you like the band’s brand of weirdness, you know that this release will demand your full attention for more than a few dozen spins to be fully digested and appreciated.

After setting a weird and futuristic sounding mood with the first few minutes of “Szarvas”, the jazzy weirdness instantly takes center stage as the track is quite intricate and yet delicate. As you can imagine, elements are mixed from all kinds of genres, and the resulting amalgamation mixes harsh BM screams with jazzy/proggy influences. Completely flipping the script, “Köszöntsd a hajnalt” has a nice Eluveitie folky vibe, while “Gömböc” mixes heavier Death Metal-esque elements with funky instrumental passages.

Eisenkult - ...vom Himmel, hoch herab (2021)

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Further settling into their own brand of Black Metal, Eisenkult delivers their excellent sophomore release “...vom Himmel, hoch herab”. With a mixture of old-school Black/Symphonic Black Metal with some Eisregen-like theatrics, this release unleashes 41 minutes of crafty music that is both fierce and playful enough to entice listeners that like the more bizarre side of the genres they cover.

After the 8-bit/MIDI vibe from the instrumental opener “Einklang”, “Ein Leib, ein Feuer” delivers Eisregen-esque onslaughts of harsh screams, playful tempo changes and crafty drumming. The band’s sound is quite melodic in nature, but the bizarreness of the mixture of elements really works to separate them from the pack. The versatility of the band can quickly be noticed as “Ein Brunnen voller Aas” unleashes traditional old-school BM fury with piercing riffs and a great sense of melody.

Angstskríg - Skyggespil (2021)

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Unleashing a very unique brand of Black’n’Roll with Groove Metal elements, Denmark’s Angstskríg manages to inject extra catchiness to an already catchy subgenre of Black Metal. Featuring six tracks and plenty of guests, “Skyggespil” is an engaging and highly unconventional killer release.

From the start, the album title track takes on guitar-driven Black Metal reminiscent of older Immortal and Satyricon, but introducing additional grooviness, making their music quite catchy and yet incisive. The vocalist snarls are the perfect fit for the guest appearance of usually live-guitarist Attila Vörös. Showing more of the band’s own brand of chaos, “Uhygge” is an excellent old-school BM piece filled with a pulsating bass guitar line and some interesting surprises as the song progresses, touching some decadent Gothic influences.

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