Exit Eden - Femmes Fatales (2024)


Oozing catchines and Symphonic power, today we have Exit Eden and their sophomore release “Femmes Fatales”. Being seven years in the making, this release delivers twelve tracks, six originals and six covers, all spanning almost one hour of superb music. Particularly catered for fans of Female-fronted Symphonic Metal, this release showcases the vocal talents of Clémentine Develay Thieux (Visions of Atlantis), Marina La Torraca (Phantom Elite), and Anna Brunner. With each one bringing their own uniqueness to highly dynamic and engaging music.

Alternating one original song and one cover song, the release opens with the captivating energy of “Femme Fatale” and as it blends into the brilliant Pet Shop Boys cover of “It's a Sin”. While Amanda Sommerville is no longer with the band, Clémentine, Marina, and Anna do a great job in keeping things quite diverse and engaging and it also allows the listener to focus even more on what each brings to the table.

White Death - Iconoclast (2023)


Closing 2023 with a fierce and punishing Black Metal release, today we have Finland’s White Death and their scorcher album “Iconoclast”. Six years or so in the making, this release unleashes 48 minutes of frosty old-school Finnish Black Metal. Filled with piercing vocals, ravaging riffs, and an overall all-out-war vibe, this release is definitely one of the best in the genre.

Blasting away with the raw power of “Born from the Unholy Fire (Part II)”, vocalist Vritrahn delivers some of the most savage and punishing harsh vocals in the business. The vocals are greatly complemented by crafty guitars that weave between pummeling aggressive passages to more engaging and melodic territories, as songs like “Iconoclast” and “Sumum Bestiae” showcase. For those of us fans of Finnish Black Metal like Horna, Satanic Warmaster, etc., this band is sweet, sweet music to our ears.

Vargrav - The Nighthold (2023)


Capitalizing on the success of Vargrav’s first two releases, “Reign in Supreme Darkness” and “Netherstorm”, mastermind V-KhaoZ moves this outfit from a solo project to a band. In “The Nighthold”, we get a more evolved version of this Finish outfit with a gnarly old-school BM vibe to come along. While still delivering for the people waiting for 90’s Symphonic BM, the band goes the extra mile in crafting a release that is engaging and diverse and not just a rehash of their earlier epic releases and yet has that signature Vargrav sound to it.

Opening with “Moonless Abyss of the Nighthold” and “Through the Woods of Breathing Shadows” we get that dreamy Symphonic BM fix that we were looking for, but also find a harsher and frostier edge to the band’s sound. The addition of Graf Werwolf von Armageddon (Satanic Warmaster fame) on vocals, and members of Finntroll and Moonsorrow on bass and drums, gives this release a more polished and well crafted instrumental edge.

One Master - The Name of Power (2023)


After some years of so-so USBM releases, 2023 was packed with pretty epic stuff, including One Master’s “The Name of Power”. As the band’s first full-length release in six years, this gritty and punishing release nicely evolves the band’s sound while keeping them high up in the rankings as of the best Black Metal outfits in the USA. Pouring 54 minutes of ravaging and destructive music, Valder and company do not fuck around and bring tons of attitude and power to the table with this one.

Quickly setting an uncompromising and relentless wall of sound, “The First Names” and “The Forbidden Names” deliver waves of punishing riffs nicely flanked by intense drumming and crushing vocals. The band’s raw and stripped down production creates a very powerful effect, giving the music that unfiltered sound that live performances have. With minimal atmospherics and ritualistic change of tempos, tracks like “The Secret Names” keep the release engaging and far from linear.

Therion - Leviathan III (2023)


Finishing up their Leviathan trilogy, today we have Therion with “Leviathan III”, an excellent release that continues the band’s legacy as one of the premiere Symphonic Metal acts. Featuring eleven tracks and 52 minutes of superbly catchy music, this release is more than just another Therion release with plenty of memorable moments and unique songs.

Opening with the magic of “Ninkigal” and the musicality of “Ruler of Tamag”, we are treated to the band’s brilliant mixture of heavy distorted guitars alongside lush orchestrations and choir arrangements. We particularly enjoy how songs like “An Unsung Lament” have that classical vibe with excellent vocal arrangements while still keeping things heavy and catchy. Many bands that attempt the genre over do it with overbearing symphonic elements, but Christofer Johnsson and company make balancing styles look easy.

SLOW - Ab​î​mes I (2023)


Setting a very slow and mournful pace, today we have Belgium’s SLOW and their latest demoralizing release “Ab​î​mes I”. Mastermind Déhà has a knack for unleashing gargantuan releases filled with crushing riffs, vocal extremes, and always a heavy atmospheric component, with this band Funeral Doom is as excruciating and punishing as it gets. With four tracks and nearly 44 minutes of music, this release is as dense as they get, evoking memories of other bands like Shape of Despair and the OGs Thergothon.

Délétère - Songes d'une nuit souillée (2023)


Unleashing a punishing exercise in Black Metal brilliance, Quebec’s Délétère delivers “Songes d'une Nuit Souillée”. As their first full-length release in five years, the band unravels 42 minutes and eight tracks of high-octane Black Metal filled with eerie atmospherics and incisive melodic undertones. If you like bands like Algazanth, Sargeist, Seth, and everything in between this is the release for you.

Blasting away with the ravaging “Chasse obscène”, the band quickly delivers waves of incisive guitar riffing alongside pummeling drums and hellish vocals. Particularly the interplay between melodic passages, ominous atmospherics and the choral arrangements create a unique and devilish atmosphere. This atmosphere is perfectly preserved as “Sacre de la perversion”, “Foutredieu”, and “Messe scandaleuse” roll around.

Krieg - Ruiner (2023)


In their first full-length release in nearly ten years, Krieg returns to continue pushing the boundaries of USBM with a moody and yet highly engaging Black Metal release. Perfectly balancing the rawness and naivety of their older releases with the more restrained, atmospheric, and at times melodic nature of their more recent work, “Ruiner” delivers nearly 40 minutes of crushing music. If you are a fan of USBM, you can’t afford to miss this one.

Ravenoir - Cultus Inferi (2023)


Unleashing a highly effective Death Metal release with some atmospheric and melodic touches, today we have Czech Republic’s Ravenoir and their third full-length release in a span of three years, titled “Cultus Infer”. For the uninitiated, the band creates an interesting amalgamation of old-school DM with some more modern influences. If you are looking for a nice release that has a modern Morgoth-esque vibe, be sure to check this one out.


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