Wolfheart - King of the North (2022)

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The highly productive Tuomas Saukkonen is back with one more new release in 2022, now with his main band Wolfheart and “King of the North”. Featuring around 50 minutes of engaging and highly addictive music, this release continues his Melodic Metal explorations with plenty of melancholy and a few surprises here and there. Always keeping things interesting and very high quality, this release will surely please all of his fans.

Setting a very regal mood with “Skyforger”, the keyboards give way to signature melodic riffs and very well crafted headbanging-inducing tempo changes. Shaking things up a bit, “Ancestor” is a faster track with guest vocals from Jesse Leach of KSE fame, giving the song a different edge (no, not metalcore), thanks to the clean vocal arrangements and melodic passages. While “Knell” has more of a Gothic vibe due to its imposing atmospheric keyboards and slower paced sections.

Stratovarius - Survive (2022)

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Consistently releasing well-crafted and engaging albums, Stratovarius is finally back, after 7 years, with the brilliant “Survive”. Featuring a more bombastic and more dynamic Power Metal style, this release delivers nearly one hour of high-octane signature Stratovarius music with tons of epic vocal arrangements and killer guitar leads paired with intense melodic passages. Well worth the wait, this release will certainly be enjoyed by fans of the band and will gain them some new ones as well.

Opening with the album title track, we are quickly treated to blazing guitars and lush atmospheric arrangements. The band sounds quite fresh and dynamic, around their traditional Power Metal core led by Timo Kotipelto’s gifted vocals. As “Demand”, “Broken”, and “Firefly” roll around, we continue to hear the band’s enveloping sound perfectly balancing virtuosity, in both keyboards and guitars, with catchiness, as these songs are quite epic and engaging.

Wampyric Rites - The Wolves Howl to the Moon (2022)

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Presenting a very uniquely Atmospheric Raw Black Metal, Ecuador’s Wampyric Rites returns with their ravaging sophomore full-length release “The Wolves Howl to the Moon”. With over 35 minutes of piercing and creepy music, this South American duo creates a very unique and disturbing atmosphere that is quite direct, and yet manages to surprise you with extra elements.

Setting a dark and somber mood with the opening synths, “The Ancient Tyrant Returns from the Deep Grave” quickly escalates into an all-out crushing mixture of punishing riffs and hellish screams. Not only is the band’s style fast and vicious, there is an underlying melody that can be heard in most songs, particularly the crafty “Rites Under the Fullmoon” and its headbanging inducing melodic passages.

Behemoth - Opvs Contra Natvram (2022)

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After being catapulted to ‘wide-spread’ success in the Metal scene with “The Satanist” in 2014, Poland’s Behemoth has leveled audiences around the world with their vicious Blackened Death Metal and their commanding stage presence. Fast-forward eight years, the band unleashes “Opvs Contra Natvram” which has an even more refined sound than their previous effort “I Loved You at Your Darkest”. Staying in their comfort zone, this release continues Behemoth’s aural aggression with ten solid tracks.

Opening with the atmospheric and ritualistic “Post-God Nirvana”, the band sets a mysterious aura around this album that explodes wide opening with the pummeling “Malaria Vvlgata”. Perfectly intertwining furious riffing and crafty tempo changes, this track shows the band’s ability to crush skulls while keeping a tense atmosphere. Featuring some awesome vocal arrangements, “The Deathless Sun” is one of those tracks that crawls under your skin delivering eerie moody passages and blistering guitar leads.

Ad Finem Omnia - No Pace - No Dawn (2022)

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Unleashing one of the most punishing Black Metal releases of 2022, today we have Chile’s Ad Finem Omnia and their debut full-length release “No Peace - No Dawn”. Featuring founding members from Sol Sistere Pablo Vera and Ricardo Araya, this release focuses on direct, raw, and pummeling Black Metal, reminding us of outfits like Horna, Délétère, and similar outfits. Highly recommended release for genre purists that are looking for waves of crushing riffs and relentless intensity.

Opening with “Vultures”, the band wastes no time in punishing the listener with piercing guitars, savage screams, and crafty drumming. The band’s intensity is on par with any European counterpart, but the subtle melodic elements that tracks like “The Abyss”, “Solve: Route To Extinction”, and “Coagula: Promethean Fire” feature, perfectly create intense moments of furious headbanging alongside a very immersive and well-rounded sound.

An Abstract Illusion - Woe (2022)

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It has been a while since we got an album that we have to drop everything we are doing in order to pay full attention. Luckily for us, An Abstract Illusion’s sophomore release “Woe” is one of those rare gems. Unleashing nearly one hour of highly melancholic Atmospheric/Melodic Death/Progressive Metal, this band will turn heads with their excellent songwriting skills and brilliant delivery. Just think of Cynic meets Bel’akor meets Countless Skies, as this release is both explosive and bombastic.

Opening with the crafty “The Behemoth That Lies Asleep”, the band sets a magical and dreamy mood with dramatic guitar leads and ethereal atmospherics. Reminding us a bit of Andora’s Persefone, “Slaves” perfectly balances agression with lush instrumental passages and crafty arrangements. Clocking in at 11 minutes, “Tear Down This Holy Mountain” is one blistering piece that expertly builds momentum with dramatic tempo changes, including some magical jazzy passages.

Herbstlethargie - Melancholie im Blattfall (2022)

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Hailing from Germany, Herbstlethargie is an Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal one-man outfit, is set to deliver one crushing debut release with “Melancholie im Blattfall”. Taking elements from bands like Heretoir, Winterfylleth, Saor, and many others, this release unleashes around one hour of highly emotional and expertly crafted music. Carving its own niche, Herbstlethargie is one of the most promising projects to watch in 2022.

Setting a very dreamy and yet desolate vibe with the opener “September”, the band unleashes its ode to autumn with waves of crafty guitar riffs paired with intense drumming and engaging tempo changes. We particularly enjoy the band’s versatility to go from all-out aggression as in the opening of “Umschwung” to the hypnotic and subtle melodies of “In unendlichen Himmeln”.

Bloodbath - Survival of the Sickest (2022)

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Starting out as a ‘for fun’ band, Bloodbath has actually released some killer releases in the last decade and continues to bring back that nostalgic old-school Swedish/Florida Death Metal vibe. With “Survival of the Sickest” the band blows almost any other band out of the water with nearly 45 minutes of piercing and chugging DM. Unleashing the sickest and most neck-snapping release in the genre, this is an album you can't miss out on.

Quickly setting the mood with “Zombie Inferno” and “Putrefying Corpse”, the band quickly establishes superiority with incisive chuggy guitar riffs paired with crafty leads and pummeling drumming. Anders Nyström and Tomas Åkvik are on point delivering that old-school razor sharp distortion while keeping a modern and clean edge on things. We love how the band goes from a track like “Dead Parade” to “Malignant Maggot Therapy”, mixing both elements of the Swedish and the Florida DM scene, creating a very engaging and heabanging infusing style.

Fallujah - Empyrean (2022)

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After changing vocalists on the last two albums, against all odds, Fallujah has come on top in both occasions. In “Empyrean” the band welcomes Kyle Schaefer, while continuing to dabble even more in Progressive Death Metal territories. The band’s transition over the years has been quite interesting and for over 50 minutes they unleash a very crafty combination of Progressive elements and Technical Death Metal wizardry.

Delivering a blistering and swift opening, “The Bitter Taste of Clarity” hits the listener hard with punishing riffs, inhuman growls, and a crafty tempo changes, reminiscent of a mixture of bands like Persefone, Obscura, and Hour of Penance. The technical wizardry continues with excellent pieces like “Radiant Ascension”, the proggy and moody “Embrace Oblivion” with some dreamy clean female and male vocals thrown into the mix, and one of our favorites with the highly melodic “Into the Eventide”.

Pencey Sloe - Neglect (2022)

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Clearing our backlog of releases after our run covering and attending summer festivals after 3 years of COVID-19 hiatus, today we have Pencey Sloe and their dreamtastic release “Negelect”. Being huge fans of Shoegaze/Dreamgaze music, this release delivers 40 minutes of very ethereal and engaging music filled with hypnotic vocals and crafty guitar work. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Alcest, Tides From Nebula and EF.

The release opens with the expansive “What they Need'' and its moody vibe, created via dreamy guitars and the fragile vocals of Diane Pellotieri. Things gradually get a bit more elaborate with pieces like “Smile to Zero” and the album title track building momentum and further mesmerizing listeners with their subtle craftiness. Perfectly creating unique tempos and allowing the music to have a certain exploratory nature, Clément Hateau’s drums/percussions make songs like “Mirror Rorrim” be a cinematic experience.

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