Eye of Nix - Ligeia (2020)

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Creating a truly unique and immersive sound, today we have Seattle’s Eye of Nix and their latest full-length opus “Ligeia”. Borrowing elements from every single band we know, this band crafts a very dense atmosphere that is flanked by Black Metal, Doom and even some Progressive onslaughts. Only for those that like to dissect music and listen to an album on repeat non-stop for a few weeks, this band rewards patience with unparalleled musical brilliance.

The album sets out with a very mellow progression as “Concealing Waters” slowly warms up the listener with crafty percussions and Joy Von Spain dreamy clean vocals. However, the pace quickly picks up with furious Black Metal onslaughts thrown into the mix. This interesting interplay of very aggressive passages with dreamy interludes gives the band a dynamic sound that keeps the listener always on the edge, as on brilliant tracks like: “Pursued” and the haunting “Tempest”.

Förgjord - Laulu kuolemasta (2020)

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As yet another killer release out of Finland’s underground, today we have Förgjord and their latest opus “Laulu kuolemasta”. Spewing over 45 minutes of raw and frosty Black Metal, this three-man battalion delivers both intensity and that old-school lo-fi sound that purists of the genre are always looking for. Released via Werewolf productions, this marks yet another stunning release from this label that offers a window to some of the most punishing and exciting bands in the genre.

The band’s full effect is instantly felt with the riveting “Laulu Murtuvan Niskan” and its punishing intensity. The band’s hyper fast and raw style reminds us of the early days of BM with bands like Fimbulwinter, Isvind and Tsjuder. Perfectly blending incisive guitar devilness with crafty tempo changes and an overall chaotic harshness, songs like “Ihtiriekko”, the mysterious “Surman Virta”, and the sinister “Kostonhetki”, have that old-school vibe and naivety that the genre has been missing for a while.

Beyond the Black - Hørizøns (2020)

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Fronted by the talented Jennifer Haben, today we have Germany’s latest Symphonic/Gothic Metal export Beyond the Black and their fourth full-length release “Hørizøns”. Slowly climbing the ranks of a very crowded genre(s), this German outfit is ready for the global spotlight with their dynamic and engaging music that falls more on the Metal side than most similar outfits. If you like catchy and hard rocking female fronted tunes, this is a band to keep on your radar.

The release does not waste any time in delivering soaring vocal arrangements, powerful guitar leads, and dramatic orchestrations on the title track opener. The band’s distinctively heavy sound is quite refreshing as most bands in this genre(r) are usually leaning towards more ‘consumer friendly’ sounds. “Misery” and “Wounded Healer” clearly showcase that the band means business with a high-octane pace and lush instrumentation. Being experts in crafting catchy melodies, tracks like “Some Kind of Monster” and “Golden Pariahs” have a certain (mid-career) Within Temptation meets Delain vibe.

Eisregen - Leblos (2020)

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As one of our favorite bands, and very hated by our friends, Eisregen is one of those bands that plays on their bizarre lyrics and funky music to deliver high-octane intensity filled songs with interesting arrangements and a good dose of melody. The band’s sound is quite an amalgamation of Gothic/Death/Black/Dark Metal, which is the core strength of “Leblos”, a very diverse and powerful double album. If you like weird music, this is certainly going to be of your liking.

Starting with the playful “Ruhet sanft”, the band leads with a Lacrimosa-meets-Bethlehem sound and a very engaging and unique opener. As “Pechschwarz” and “Erstschlag” roll by, we get the harsh intensity of the band with incisive guitars, devilish vocals and overall catchiness that the band has been cranking out for the past 10 years. Losing Dr. Franzenstein from their line-up a few years back has not slowed down the band’s funky synths and keyboards as tracks like “1000 Jahre Nacht”, “Wangenrot”, and the amazing title track heavily deliver on the atmospheric side.

Kall - Brand (2020)

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From the ashes of Lifelover, today we have Kall and their very unique and somber mixture of Depressive Rock with Black Metal. With their sophomore release “Brand”, the band continues their exploration of obscure and depressive sounds while crafting six brilliant tracks that slowly uncover a very decadent and poignant style. For nearly one hour we are treated to some very chaotic and yet lush compositions of madness and despair, a journey you don’t want to miss out on.

The release starts with a certain Bluesy vibe as “Rise” slowly builds up to crafty guitars, a lively bass guitar line and hellish vocals. The combination has a very unique Katatonia-meets-90’s Bethlehem vibe that is both sinister and quite chilling. The band’s craftiness allows them to develop songs like “Fervour”, where the tempo slowly builds while the atmosphere chokes up the listener, particularly when the solemn saxophone comes into play.

Flagg - Nothing But Death (2020)

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Delivering a swift and brutal onslaught of raw-ish Black Metal, today we have Finland’s Flagg and their killer release “Nothing But Death”. Perfectly mixing old-school savagery with funky atmospherics, create a very Tartaros, (early) Emperor-esque mixture that is quite punishing and totally enjoyable. For over 32 minutes we were taken to the early days of the genre, when bands wanted to be super brutal but also started experimenting with atmosphere and melody.

The release quickly delivers a powerful blow with the piercing “Destroy, Desecrate” and its crushing bass guitar line, mixed in with funky synths and hellish vocals. The band’s blistering pace perfectly enacts violence while more melodic passages allow for some respite amongst the chaos, as heard on “Nothing but Death”. Opting for a more tempered and darker vibe, “Dark Clouds Gathering” fully unleashes the band’s hate thanks to its incisive guitars and sinister tempo.

Sombre Héritage - Alpha Ursae Minoris (2020)

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Unleashing a barrage of punishing Black Metal anthems, today we have Quebec’s Sombre Héritage with “Alpha Ursae Minoris”. For those not paying attention, the Canadian Black Metal scene has been flourishing in the last few years and this outfit is yet another crushing band hailing from our neighbors in the North. Spanning 6 tracks and nearly 40 minutes of music, this release delivers relentless brutality and incisive precision.

Opening with the riveting “Polaris”, we get that 90’s BM vibe thanks to the punishing riffs and well-tempered drumming onslaughts. The song sets a very firm and crushing pace that is never relinquished throughout the rest of the album. “Sombre Héritage” rolls in with more of that magical intensity thanks to an early Emperor/Satyricon vibe paired with crafty tempo changes and eerie atmospheric arrangements to contrast the brutal and melodic sections.

Alestorm - Curse of the Crystal Coconut (2020)

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Unleashing an all-out pirate party, today we have Alestorm and their sixth full-length release “Curse of the Crystal Coconut”. Keeping their lively style nearly untouched since their inception, the band continues to deliver their signature playfulness and epic melodies that have captivated the masses for years. Clocking in at 45 minutes, this release gives you more Alestorm in a more bombastic and engaging way than ever before.

Opening with the hilarious “Treasure Chest Party Quest”, Christopher Bowes leads his crew with his signature playful lyrics and his legendary keytar skills. This very lighthearted opener features the band’s staples and a nod to more folky/instrumental elements making the song quite enjoyable. The band’s typical intensity will get you bopping as soon as “Fannybaws” and “Chomp Chomp” deliver their catchy chorus sections and the later unleashes dramatic guitar leads.

Sinister - Deformation of the Holy Realm (2020)

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Storied Dutch Death Metal outfit returns with a vengeance on “Deformation of the Holy Realm”. Unleashing nearly 45 minutes of crushing music, the band’s new line-up elevates their level of aggression to new heights. While many older bands keep to their guns and style, Sinister has been incorporating more modern Death Metal elements into their sound, allowing them to keep their signature style and stay relevant to new trends.

Creating a very regal and epic mood, the atmospheric opener “The Funeral March” perfectly leads the listener into the brutality of “Deformation Of The Holy Realm”. The track wastes no time in delivering blistering drumming, pummeling vocals and superbly crunchy riffs. New guitarist Michal Grall perfectly captures the band’s essence and gives it an extra level of brutality as we can hear on songs like “Apostles of the Weak” and the heabanging galore “Unbounded Sacrilege”.

A Light in the Dark - Insomnia (2020)

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Unleashing one of the most melancholic releases of 2020, today we have Russia’s one-man project A Light in the Dark and his latest full-length release “Insomnia”. Featuring over 45 minutes of completely enchanting music, this release is perfectly crafted for fans of Alcest, Lantlôs, Heretoir and Amesoeurs. Oozing melody and dreaminess since the first minute, this is one hell of an ethereal release.

The album opens with the very lively and dynamic “Aimless”, a song that has a certain Harakiri For the Sky edge as it delivers very poignant guitars and harsh vocals. Shifting the pace more into the Post-Metal/Blackgaze lands, “Let it Guide You” delivers sweeping atmospheric passages and interesting electronic elements thrown into the mix. Both “Vortex” and “四” take thing into more depressive rock territories with a similar approach to Violet Cold and their use of samples for extra ambiance.

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