Woods of Desolation - The Falling Tide (2022)

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It has been a while since we heard anything from Woods of Desolation and their supremely bleak take on Black Metal. As one of the originators, alongside fellow Aussies of Austere, of the Depressive/Post-Black Metal genres, this one-man band has always delivered unwavering soul crushing music and with “The Falling Tide” they are back at it. If you are a fan of total bleakness, this release is a must have in 2022.

Immediately setting a decadent mood with “Far From Here”, the band’s long hiatus is instantly gone as it continues where it left off. Fierce riffing onslaughts and crushing drumming are expertly flanked by atmospheric oppression. We particularly enjoy the moody tempo changes, as the album pummels through highly emotional songs like “Beneath a Sea of Stars” and “Illumination”.

Admire the Grim - Rogue Five (2023)

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Making our first review of a 2023 album, today we have Finland’s Admire the Grim and their debut EP “Rogue Five”. Featuring a crafty Melodic Death Metal sound, this new outfit delivers five tracks and around 16 minutes of superbly catchy and engaging music. If you are a fan of Finnish MeloDeath bands, this outfit is right up your alley as they have the skills to carve themselves a path in the genre.

Mournument - Smouldering Into Dust (2022)

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Unleashing unrivaled melancholy and atmospheric bleakness, today we have newcomers Mournument and their debut release “Smouldering Into Dust”. Reminding us of bands like Agalloch and Empyrium with a Doomier edge, this release delivers six tracks and 46 minutes of brilliant music. Perfect for a gloomy fall/winter day, this album is one of the best and most complete releases we have heard in 2022.

Opening with “On Rain and Thunder”, we get lush acoustic guitars and violins setting a bleak and desolate soundscape. As the clean vocals make their way, the Tenhi/Empyrium vibe slowly transitions into heavier territories with Agalloch-esque mournful distorted guitars. “Chasm of Abandoned Souls” continues the onslaught with more traditional Doom elements and an eerie mixture of deep clean vocals and harsh screams.

Imha Tarikat - Hearts Unchained - At War with a Passionless World (2022)

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Hailing from Germany, today we have relentless Black Metal outfit Imha Tarikat and their latest opus “Hearts Unchained - At War with a Passionless World”. With a heavy focus on melody and raw emotions, this release unleashes a well polished and yet crushing onslaught of ten powerful tracks. For fans of outfits like Fell Voices and Vanum, this band means business as it levels everybody on their path.

After an unsettling intro, “Radical Righteousness” quickly delivers waves of rawness and brutality, with crafty drumming and hectic guitars. While seemingly just raw and powerful, the band’s sound takes a turn as “Touch of Mercy” showcases a different side full of melodic guitars and a playful bass guitar line. We particularly enjoy how the band seamlessly weaves back and forth different styles, but all is glued together by the aggressive vocals.

Dødsengel - Bab Al On (2022)

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Crawling out of the depths of hell, today we have Norway’s Dødsengel and their latest opus “Bab Al On”. Playing a vicious Atmospheric/Occult Black Metal, this outfit has some serious Blut Aus Nord vibes minus the industrial aspects. Unleashing some of the most decadent and misery inducing soundscapes, this release clocks in at 72 minutes of pure evil and atmosphere. If you like dense and ritualistic BM, this is certainly one of the best releases of 2022 for that.

The album starts with the cavernous ritualistic intro “Ad Babalonis Amorem Do Dedico Omnia Nihilo”, creating a very unsettling atmosphere that quickly leads way to hellish vocal arrangements and piercing guitars. The band goes full-on with the crushing “In the Beginning” and its hellish tremolo picking alongside relentless waves of aggression. Just as you think you can settle for all-out war, the band changes directions with the eerie “Annihilation Mantra” and its haunting vocals.

Scars of the Flesh - In Darkness Alone (2022)

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Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, today we have Scars of the Flesh and their third full-length release “In Darkness Alone”. Unleashing five original tracks and four very well crafted cover songs, the band showcases their own brand of Death Metal with some Melodic/Progressive influences for over 50 minutes of engaging music. For fans of bands like Cenotaph, The Chasm, and similar outfits, this band packs a big punch and nicely combines it with a good dose of melody.

Opening with the punishing “Only I”, a dark and sinister mood is quickly set thanks to the incisive guitars and Kobey Lange’s growls. While there are plenty of classic Death Metal riffs used, tracks like “The Hooded One” and “In Darkness Alone” add extra layers of melody alongside technical craftiness and even some additional atmospheric elements. Our favorite track has to be the mournful “Memory Unknown”, a track that has some killer Doomy undertones and excellent guitar leads and headbanging moments.

Orphique - Consécration Cadavérique (2022)

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Canada continues to amaze us with their Black Metal talent, with bands like Délétère, Monarque, and Forteresse leading the way, there are plenty of additional bands with unique and explosive styles such as Orphique. As a one-man project of David Potter, “Consécration Cadavérique” perfectly blends multiple styles with sheer brutality and intensity to create a very powerful and punishing release.

Opening with the moody “Onirique”, the band unleashes a crushing opening that slowly transitions into more melodic and sinister territories. We love how the track transitions into heavy atmospherics and a slower pace and then it jumps back at the listener with sheer brutality. If the first highly impressive track did not hook the listener, “Vampirique” and “Chromatique” combine lush atmospherics, crafty acoustic guitars and a mixture of high-octane onslaughts and dreamy interludes.

Isafjørd - Hjartastaki (2022)

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Formed by Aðalbjörn Addi Tryggvason (Sólstafir) and Ragnar Zolberg (Sign/x-Pain of Salvation), Isafjørd is a new project that delivers a very unique and bleak form of Post-Rock, filled with desolation and despair. Perfect for the winter, this release clocks around 52 minutes of expertly crafted music divided in eight tracks filled with melancholy and atmosphere. If you like Post-Rock, but of the more depressive kind, this is an album you can't miss.

Opening with the trance-inducing “Falin Skemmd”, the band really sets a low-energy desolate mood with weeping guitars and crafty percussions. Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s vocals perfectly fit the level of melancholy created by the group and when sung in Icelanding add that extra layer of uniqueness as they transmit emotions without necessarily understanding the lyrics, as “Mín Svarta Hlið” and “Hjartastjaki” perfectly capture.

Obsidious - Iconic (2022)

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Spanning back in 2020 out of ex members of Obscura, Obsidious is one of those bands that perfectly combines technical wizardry with solid songwriting to craft unique songs that are brilliant in both departments, not just one of the two like tons of other bands. Unleashing over 53 minutes of music, some might expect just another version of Obscura, but the band is far from this as it feels more like a mixture of Scar Symmetry, older Soilwork, some of the pace of Persefone, with some Cynic sprinkles. If you are a fan of the genre, you should better keep an eye out for these guys.

The release opens with the imposing “Under Black Skies” and its pretty brutal delivery of multiple styles of harsh vocals alongside punishing riffs and crushing drums courtesy of Sebastian Lanser. The mood quickly changes and becomes more dynamic as the soaring clean vocals change the tempo a bit. The band’s sound is quite well crafted as it is never too linear and keeps throwing things at the listeners to keep them guessing as one can appreciate from tracks like “Sense of Lust”, “Iconic” and “Bound By Fire”.

Neptune - The Rebirth (2022)

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Unleashing nearly 20 minutes of catchy old-school Heavy Metal, today we have Sweden’s Neptune and their EP “The Rebirth”. After releasing some demos in the 80’s, this outfit came back in 2017 and you can instantly tell they have a certain vintage to their sound, making them pretty retro (but in a cool way). If you are a fan of the more direct and straightforward Heavy Metal from the past minus the glam and flamboyance, this release should interest you.

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