Opeth - In Cauda Venenum (2019)

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Fully embracing and developing their Progressive Metal/Rock sound, Opeth as embarked on a journey in their last few releases to discover and create an own cohesive sound. With “In Cauda Venenum”, the band seems to be nicely settled and delivers ten lush tracks that showcase their impressive progress in this genre. Released in both Swedish and English, this album is quite a treat to enjoy if you are a fan of the genre and bands like Leprous and Haken but with a funky Psychedelic punch to them.

After setting a trippy mood with the opener “Garden of Earthly Delights”, the band starts their proggy journey with the funky “Dignity”. Featuring an intricate bass guitar line and psychedelic synths and eerie vocal arrangements, this track nicely showcases the band’s craftiness. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s clean vocals are a very nice complement to the music’s craftsmanship on tracks like “Heart In Hand” and “Next of Kin”. We particularly enjoy how the band shifts tempos and hooks the listener with subtle details between transitions.

Botanist - Ecosystem (2019)

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After nearly getting hives and having to puncture my eardrums to make the sound stop with Botanist “I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead” release back in 2011, I have seen the band from afar evolve their sound and actually saw them play live once. Arriving to our inbox, we have “Ecosystem”, the band’s latest offering through Aural Music. Hearing the band with a new perspective after 8 years, we have to say that their sound now seems more cohesive and engaging, completely changing our initial shock reaction to their music.

Opening with “Biomass”, the hammered dulcimer creates a very unique and chaotic atmosphere, nicely exacerbated by the harsh screams. We are quite surprised by the contrast created by the angelic clean vocals in tracks like “Alluvial”, were they nicely change the mood of the track until the following hellish onslaught of harsh vocals and fast paced drums appear. Creating a very tense and dramatic atmosphere, the ravaging dulcimer makes “Harvestman” one of the best songs in this release.

Pencey Sloe - Don’t Believe, Watch Out (2019)

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With a knack to uncovering and promoting highly unique and melancholic bands, Prophecy Productions present us with their latest signing: Pencey Sloe. Hailing from Paris, France, this Shoegaze trio delivers nearly 50 minutes of highly dreamy music that will set you on a hypnotic trance from start to end. “Don’t Believe, Watch Out” is one of those releases that are magical from the first note, so if you are a fan of outfits like Slowdie, Les Discrets and Alcest, but tend to lean into their softer and dreamier side, this is a release for you.

Opening their debut full-length with the lush “Lust of the Dead”, you instantly know the band means serious business. Their sound is utterly intoxicating as the dreamy guitars surround Diane Pellotieri captivating voice. Slowly building up to majestic crescendos, tracks like “Buried Them All” and “All Ok” perfectly create a drifting atmosphere that is ethereal and appeasing. The playful album title track has a certain darker edge that slowly turns bright as the subtle percussions interweave back and forth between shoegazing guitars and haunting vocals.

Noekk - Waltzing in Obscurity (2019)

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We just had to wait 11 year for a new full length release, from personal favorite band Noekk. On the bright side, I guess “Waltzing in Obscurity” did take one year less to be released than the time between Empyrium albums. Led by Markus Stock and Thomas Helm, this band is the proggier/psychedelic outlet from Empyrium, as you can hear some minimal influences in this and their previous release. However, this band is a very different outfit with a heavier and trippier edge to its music.

Opening with the album title track, we have a folky opening that evolves into lush vocal arrangements and a retro vibe with its intricate synths. We particularly love that dramatic sound created by the powerful distorted guitars and the clean vocals around the 5 minute mark, which reminds us of Empyrium very quickly. That being the last comparison with their partner band, the album progresses with the psychedelic brilliance of “Perseus” and its superb instrumentation. The drum crash cymbals are just amazingly produced, and are perfectly contrasted with the funky retro synths, making for one hell of a song.

Blut Aus Nord - Hallucinogen (2019)

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The ever changing Blut Aus Nord returns with their most impressive release to date with “Hallucinogen”. Everybody knows the band’s releases always push sonic boundaries, but with this opus, Vindsval and W.D. Feld take their sound to completely new cosmic dimensions. For over 48 minutes of music the band explores uniquely melancholic and ethereal territories with an interesting blend of lush atmospherics and intricate guitar work. Unless something drastically changes, we can almost be sure that this album will be our top release of 2019.

Opening with the mesmerizing “Nomos Nebuleam”, the band sets a very dreamy and highly atmospheric mood. The dramatic guitar work perfectly blending with the intense drumming to create a very powerful vibe. Combining the intensity of Progenie Terrestre Pura and the sci-fi-esque edge of Frozen Ocean, Blut Aus Nord crafts some very intense moments on tracks like “Nebeleste” that are both punishing and highly inspired. The clean vocal arrangements are quite unique and adds to the music’s overall weirdness and atmosphere.

DragonForce - Extreme Power Metal (2019)

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Marking the return of the most exciting Power Metal to ever come out of the UK, today we have DragonForce and their latest opus “Extreme Power Metal”. Featuring a leaner sound and a leaner line-up, the band delivers ten solid tracks that showcase their signature style paired with superbly catchy songs and a very playful vibe. Delivering over 52 minutes of high-octane music, the band never disappoints when it comes to expertly crafted guitar acrobatics and catchy music.

The lush “Highway to Oblivion” track opens with a certain 80’s vibe that seems to be the concept around this release. Immediately Herman Li and Sam Totman take over with their playful guitar interactions as Marc Hudson’s vocals settle the listener into the band’s elaborate songs. The album still features Frédéric Leclercq on bass and backing vocals, as one can hear from his bass guitar lines on tracks like “Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred Machine” and the playful “The Last Dragonborn”.

Cult of Luna - A Dawn to Fear (2019)

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Constantly getting better with time, Cult of Luna is ready to unravel their latest non-collaborative release: “A Dawn to Fear”. Featuring nearly 80 minutes of demoralizing music, this release showcases the band’s evolution into one of the most versatile and complex bands in the world. Picking up where they left off on their “Mariner” collaboration, the band creates lush soundscapes full of intricacies and magical details, making their music highly enjoyable and engaging.

The band wastes no time in setting up a very hypnotic mood with “The Silent Man”. Weaving back and forth between crushing guitar riffs, a trembling bass guitar onslaught and the band’s signature harsh vocals, this track perfectly prompts the listener to strap down to their seats and enjoy the ride. With the ritualistic “Lay Your Head to Rest”, the band sets a trance-like mood that bleeds into the more mellow album title track. We particularly enjoy how the band perfectly times the tempo changes, while keeping things fresh and interesting.

Vorna - Sateet palata saavat (2019)

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Always surprising us with their excellent taste in music, LifeForce Records is prepared to unleash “Sateet palata saavat”, Finland’s Vorna’s latest effort. Magically combining elements of Folk/Pagan/Black Metal in a very atmospheric palette of sounds, this release delivers over 50 minutes of superbly melodic music. The closest band to Vorna’s sound that comes to mind has to be Eternal Tears of Sorrow and their highly diverse sound. This should let you know you are in for a treat with this album.

After the traditional mood setting intro, “Toinen” delivers the first onslaught of atmospheric brilliance. Creating a very moody and mystical atmosphere, the band pummels the listener with superb drumming, heavy riffs, and harsh vocals. The swings between lush melodic keyboard arrangements, harsh/clean vocals, and intense riffing, are just magical, creating a very immersive and engaging experience as heard on both “Toinen” and “Syvyydet”.

Capilla Ardiente - The Siege (2019)

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Hailing from Chile, today we have Epic Doom Metal outfit Capilla Ardiente and their sophomore full-length release “The Siege”. Perfectly aimed at those Candlemass, Saint Vitus and Solitude Aeturnus fans, this album unleashes over 45 minutes of pummeling riffs, moody vocals and an overall crushing atmosphere.

Side A of the release starts with “The Open Arms, the Open Wounds”, a very traditional Doom song that starts with one of the most typical riffs in the genre and quickly morphs into heavier territories. The dual guitar onslaught of Julio Bórquez (lead) and Igor Leiva (rhythm) allows for very engaging and powerful combinations, keeping tracks heavy and fun. “The Crimson Fortress” delivers more waves of distortion amidst crafty drumming and a powerful bass guitar line, giving it a certain old-school vibe.

Advent Sorrow - Kali Yuga Crown (2019)

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Australia is a place were some pretty interesting bands like Austere and Germ have spawned. Finally breaking into the global scene a few years back, Advent Sorrow delivers brutal Depressive Black Metal to the masses with their incisive and nihilistic style. “Kali Yuga Crown” is the band’s sophomore full-length release and with the wide release through Werewolf Records should propel the band to new audiences.

The album is all atmosphere start to finish, and it perfectly sets a very sinister and melancholic mood with the dramatic opener “Verminblood”. Unleashing intricate guitar melodies and a mournful bass guitar line, this track unleashes the band’s pain to the listener. Not settling for only one particular style, “Wolfhook and Weapon” showcases the band’s more upbeat and intense side, with an old-school sounding Black’n’Roll-ish style.

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