Timo Tolkki’s Avalon - Return to Eden (2019)

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Closing with the incisive “Envy The Moon”, we are left quite pleased with “In Splendor Below”. We expected non-stop Swedish Melodic Death/Doom Metal and that is exactly what you get with October Tide. The Norrman brothers have a great signature sound and this release maintains their legendary status since their early Katatonia days. If you like things to be consistent, direct and superbly catchy, look no further as you know exactly what to expect with this fine release.

The album starts with a bang after setting a very epic mood with the intro, in “Promises” we are instantly treated to Timo’s guitar wizardry and poignant Power Metal songwriting skills. The vocal arrangements are masterful as always, perfectly delivered by guest male vocalists Todd Michael Hall, Zak Stevens and Eduard Hovinga. Songs with duets like the album title track featuring Mariangela Demurtas, or the magical “Hear My Call”, featuring none other than Anneke van Giersbergen on vocals, are just the signature style of Avalon and we love it.

October Tide - In Splendor Below (2019)

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Consistency is the name of the game for the Norrman’s brothers October Tide band. With “In Splendor Below”, the band continues to deliver classic Melodic Death/Doom Metal filled with superb guitar work, dark atmospheric passages and plenty of headbanging opportunities. Featuring over 43-minutes of music, this release continues the band’s legacy as one of the best in the genre.

The album opens with “I, the Polluter”, a song that features the band’s signature riffing and mid-tempo pace. There are some more direct Death Metal elements thrown into the mix, but the track always keeps that old-school Swedish Melodic Death Metal vibe going. The playful “We Died In October” shows a more funky and crafty atmosphere with intricate drum patterns and very engaging tempo changes.

Jess By The Lake - Under The Red Light Shine (2019)

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The enigmatic Jasmin Saarela, better known as Jess from Jess and the Ancient Ones, is finally back with her debut solo release “Under the Red Light Shine”. Focusing more on fundamental psychedelic/acid rock influences, this release features eight intoxicating tracks filled with sultry vocals and groovy vibes. If you are a fan of any of her previous projects, you certainly can’t miss out on this one.

Opening with the album title track, we get a Danzing-esque tune with very warm and fuzzy guitars intertwined with playful drums and Jess’s vocals as the central focus. We are always impressed by the amount of feeling and conviction Jess’s vocals have, and this release is even more direct and engaging. The songs in this album nicely shift gears and provide a wide palette of influences like the funky “Freezing Burn”, the trippy “The Wait” and the eerie “Halo (Ghosts in the Flames)” a very loungey track that is quite enjoyable.

Misþyrming - Algleymi (2019)

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Taking the world by surprise with their incisive debut release “Söngvar elds og óreiðu”, this Icelandic outfit returns with “Algleymi”. With four years between releases, Misþyrming has had a chance to hone their craft through intense live performances and deliver 46 minutes of the best and most innovative Black Metal we have heard in 2019. Pushing the boundaries while staying true to their raw nature, this release is even better than the band’s debut.

The album kicks off with the crushing “Orgia”, a track with the intensity and viciousness of the band’s debut release. As “Með svipur á lofti” rolls in, we start to notice the band’s new melodic tendencies, which nicely enhance their devastating sound. The band’s sound is greatly enhanced as they at times and Black’n’Roll-ish in songs like the hypnotizing “Ísland, steingelda krummaskuð” and the brilliant “Hælið”. Both of these tracks are quirky and particularly the later has a certain twangy vibe to it that is hard to describe, but makes you want to listen to it over and over again.

Sadness - Circle of Veins (2019)

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Originally hailing from Mexico, Sadness is a one-man project that delivers harrowing Blackgaze music in the same vein of bands like Alcest, Heretoir, Falaise, etc. Cranking out more than a five releases in the last couple of years, this outfit is as productive as Cold World and many others. With over 37 minutes of music divided in five tracks, this release is a good addition to anybody’s Blackgaze collection.

Opening with “Eye of Prima”, the band unleashes their best song with a lively and yet bleak track filled with a subtle atmosphere and very engaging clean vocals. This track slowly progresses in to more aggressive territories with harsh screams and a darker pace. Our personal favorite is the dreamy “Cerrien”, a track that is quite intoxicating thanks to its funky atmospheric keyboards and the odd pace. The Shoegazey parts of “Lana”, make it a very entertaining song and quite a delight to hear.

Fleshgod Apocalypse - Veleno (2019)

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Hailing from Italy, Fleshgod Apocalypse has stormed the Symphonic Metal scene with their highly refined orchestral brutality. Perfectly blending dramatic orchestrations with complex Death Metal elements, this band delivers some of the most extreme melodic music ever written. With “Veleno”, the band further expands on their heavier side with brutal passages, and on their more melodic and theatrical side with very dramatic vocal arrangements and mellow interludes.

Opening with the ravaging brutality of “Fury”, the band makes their skills do the talking since the first song. Perfectly delivering crushing Death Metal riffs and growls in between dramatic choral arrangements, this track is quite a way to start the release. Moving on to “Carnivorous Lamb” and “Sugar”, the band showcases their dramatic orchestral layers and vicious guitar leads in yet another brutal piece. The combination of male harsh vocals, mad male clean vocals, and sweet female clean vocals works quite well and adds extra contrast to these tracks.

Délétère - Theovorator: Babelis Testamentum (2019)

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Keeping their momentum going, Sepulchral Productions Délétère unleash “Theovorator: Babelis Testamentum”, a 20 minute EP that continues to demonstrate the unholy abilities of this outfit to deliver bone chilling Black Metal. If their 2018 release “De Horae Leprae” wasn’t enough, the three tracks in this EP create a certain harrowing vibe that only a handful of BM bands can create. If you are a BM fan and haven’t heard from these guys, you are completely missing out.

Opening with the “Theovoratoris Aduentus”, the band sets an eerie atmosphere early on with raw keyboards, and suddenly explodes into all out war with pummeling drums, intense riffs and crushing vocals. The band’s sound is far from linear, and as the opener continues to progress, we are treated to creepy melodic passages that are both haunting and intoxicating. We are big suckers for Black Metal that you can headbang and enjoy due to its melodic nature, and “Babel Insanifusor” delivers just this. This track features a more organic and stripped down sound that will send shivers down your spine.

DOOL - Love Like Blood (2019)

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Hailing from the Netherlands, this Dark Rock outfit delivers some of the most interesting and enchanting tunes to come out of this European country. Fronted by the charismatic Ryanne van Dorst, the band unleashes their latest EP, “Love Like Blood”, through Prophecy Productions this May. Featuring one cover track and two live recordings, you can get a peak at the band’s live intensity and magic with this short but sweet release.

Opening with Killing Joke’s “Love Like Blood”, the band infuses their magical mellowness into this legendary song. With dreamy guitars and a very intoxicating pace, Ryanne nicely captures the essence of the original piece while adding the band’s own atmospheric dreaminess to it. Featuring members of Gold and The Devil’s Blood, this band has a highly talented core that instantly reflects in their execution and creativity.

Bethlehem - Lebe dich leer (2019)

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German masters of the bizarre Bethlehem are back to full form with the punishing “Lebe dich leer”. Reminding us of their “Dictius Te Necare” and “Dark Metal” days, the band delivers 41 minutes of truly punishing music filled with madness and brutality. Jürgen Bartsch and company are ready to take back their throne and this release is one huge step in the right direction.

Opening with “Verdaut in klaffenden Mäulern”, the band makes an instant impression with the demonic shrieks of Onielar, also the front woman of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult. With her completely ravaging vocals, the already mysterious music takes a completely different and pummeling turn, making it quite violent, mystical and at times quite experimental, like on “Niemals mehr leben”. Atmospheric pieces like “Ich weiß ich bin keins”, will send chills down your spine thanks to the whispered vocals and the very deranged song progression.

Amon Amarth - Berserker (2019)

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As a well oiled viking ship sailing through the oceans, Amon Amarth returns with yet another impressive onslaught of headbanging and moshing anthems in “Berserker”. Featuring twelve tracks and a running time of 56 minutes, the band further refines their crushing sound with a more melodic edge and the same amounts of euphoria inducing riffs. For those following the band’s exploits over the years, you will find this release as equally dynamic and impressive as their older ones, with a certain added touch of maturity. If you are new to the band, strap on for one hell of a ride with this one.

With “Fafner's Gold” leading the procession, the band warms up the listener’s with a powerful track, but the single “Crack the Sky” really steps it up a notch with the traditional Amon Amarth crushing melodic riffs. With this song you will instantly be possessed to start headbanging furiously thanks to its playful guitar work and hellish signature vocals. Additionally, the killer guitar leads add that extra level of epicness to an already brilliant song.

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