Hexvessel - Kindred (2020)

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Unleashing a superbly crafted and somber Dark/Psych/Blues/Doom release, today we have Finland’s Hexvessel with “Kindred”. Finally settling into a sound that incorporates the eerie atmospherics and instrumentation of their earlier works and the warm and fuzzy psych/blues elements of their later material, the band delivers nearly 40 minutes of mystical music. Be prepared for a uniquely relaxing and enchanting aural journey with this one.

The release opens with the enigmatic “Billion Year Old Being”, treating the listener to fuzzy Psych guitars and very hypnotic vocal harmonies. The retro vibe in the opener is nicely followed by the bluesy “Demian”, a very intoxicating track with subtle instrumental arrangements, trippy guitar leads, and perfectly voiced by Mat McNerney. For those looking to lose themselves in the band's folky atmospheric side, “Fire of the Mind” and “Bog Bodies” are two chilling campfire songs that swiftly change the mood of the release.

Asarhaddon - Reysa (2020)

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Hailing from Germany, today we have two-man battalion Asarhaddon and their debut full-length release “Reysa”. Featuring a very refined and yet violent Black Metal sound, the band conceptually explores death and nature, in a very hypnotic and crushing style. Clocking over 50 minutes of relentless music, this album is quite suited for fans of bands like Anomalie, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Agrypnie, as it both blends punishing harshness with uncompromising melodic passages.

Leading with “Der Ursprung”, the listener instantly received a wall of crushing distorted guitars right after a very subtle acoustic intro. The guitar onslaught is quite impressive, never letting go of the listener’s thoat as the band pummels through crushing pieces like “Die Vergängnis erwacht”and “Ein wahrlich wirrer Ort”. Both songs are filled with pummeling riffs and very introspective melodic sections that nicely deliver tempo changes while creating cavernous and mysterious atmospheres.

Wolfheart - Wolves of Karelia (2020)

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The restless Tuomas Saukkonen was not content on just dropping an amazing Dawn of Solace release in 2020, he and Wolfheart are also releasing the latest full-length, “Wolves of Karelia”, this April 10th. Building up on their success, the band continues to fine-tune their superbly crafted Melodic Death Metal and unleash 41 minutes of their signature neck-snapping music.

Kicking off with the melodic guitar onslaught of “Hail of Steel”, you instantly get that Finnish and Wolfheart vibe, with lush riffs and a slow buildup. The band’s heavier side is brutality present in the intense “Horizon on Fire”, a track that perfectly balances the duality of the band’s musical approach as the clean vocals and melodic passages lead way to crushing drums and heavier riffs. The use of atmospheric arrangements greatly enhances songs like “Reaper”, where it gives it a more dramatic edge to certain passages.

Cénotaphe - Monte Verità (2020)

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The French Black Metal age of enlightenment of the last few years is real and bands like Cénotaphe are a testament to this. On their latest full-length release, “Monte Verità”, the band treats us with over 46 minutes of relentless onslaughts of brutality with a somber vibe and a retro production. For fans of bands like Absu, Carpathian Forest and Ragnarok, this release will rattle your speakers with furious gusto.

With a creepy retro intro and a very raw and visceral production, “Myosis” leads the way with furious riffs and hyper-fast drumming. Vocalist Khaosgott delivers that kind of punishing raspy shrieks performance that adds an extra level of raw brutality to the music, as we hear on “Aux cieux antérieurs” and the furious “L'oeuf de mammon”. Our favorite track has to be the brilliant “De mon promontoire astral” and its melodic and mystical edge thanks to additional vocal arrangements, making it super eerie.

Conception - State of Deception (2020)

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With Roy Khan reviving Conception back in 2018, the band took a while to deliver their return full-length “State of Deception”. Delivering around 40 minutes of music, this release has that old Kamelot vibe with a few sprinkles of Evergrey and Queensrÿche. The nine tracks here are catchy and engaging and will surely be loved by Roy Khan fans, as his vocals take front and center to solid songwriting skills and crafty arrangements.

After the mood setting intro, the album kicks off with the hard rocking “Of Raven and Pigs”, a track that starts a bit slow and it takes a while to settle with its lush vocal melodies and crafty guitars. With “Waywardly Broken”, the band goes into that Power/Progressive Metal vibe that we were expecting, thanks to the lively vocal leads and lush atmospheric keyboards. Thankfully, “No Rewind” continues this mood with dynamic guitars and crafty tempo changes, making it one of our favorite songs in this release.

Aara - En Ergô Einai (2020)

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Switzerland has been recently surprising us with their masterful Black Metal bands, Aara is another one of those outfits. Focusing on dramatic atmospherics and lush melodies, “En Ergô Einai” delivers over 33 minutes of emotionally intense music that brings back memories of bands like An Autumn for Crippled Children and Deafheaven. For those that like a melody and ambiance with their brutality, this album is one hell of a discovery.

Easing the listener into a state of hypnosis, a lush opening to “Arkanum” was laid down by Vindsval (Blut Aus Nord), as the band quickly escalates things with furious drumming, dreamy riffs and harrowing shrieks. The cohesion presented by seemingly disparate musical elements is quite effective as the duo’s music perfectly blends that subtle dreaminess with crushing aggression, perfectly illustrated by “Stein auf Stein”.

DOOL - Summerland (2020)

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Enigmatic dutch outfit DOOL is ready to unleash their latest full length release with “Summerland”. Led by charismatic front-woman Ryanne van Dorst, this outfit delivers the perfect mixture of Dark Rock, Gothic Pop and Psychedelic Metal spread out in nine elaborate tracks. Featuring members of bands like Gold, The Devil’s Blood among others, the band’s sound is quite intoxicating, so be prepared for a dark and sinister ride.

The album opens with the masterful “Sulphur & Starlight”, a very somber and yet catchy track that slowly builds up on enigmatic guitars and crafty drumming. The soothing raspy vocals of Ryanne perfectly blend with the playful bass guitar line as the mood changes throughout the song. The hard rocking attitude of the band is truly evident in the epic “Wolf Moon” and the dreamy “God Particle”. The band’s musical influences are vast and varied, as you can even hear some Cult of Luna-esque elements in the later of the previously mentioned tracks.

Grieve - Grieve (2020)

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Hailing from Finland, today we have yet another crushingly frosty Black Metal outfit with Grieve. With no social media, or even internet presence for that matter, Werewolf productions unleashes to a wider audience the bands debut recording. For those that can’t get enough of the nostalgic 90’s Black Metal from bands like Vargrav and Faustian Pact, this 12” release will give you an extra fix.

Taking the listener to the past with their cavernous sound, the band quickly unravels the brutality of “Spiteful Scourge”. In this track the mood seems to be quite straightforward until the tempo changes and eerie clean vocals add an extra mysterious vibe to the song, similar to Ancient’s “Cainian Chronicle”. The dreamy atmospheric keyboards nicely add that extra ethereal touch to the band’s already ravaging sound.

Me and that Man - New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol.1 (2020)

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As the perfect companion for those gloomy days ahead, today we have Nergal’s Me and that Man band delivering “New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol.1” a masterful apocalyptic/dark folk/rock release. Featuring eleven tracks filled with guest appearances this release unleashes an emotionally charged atmosphere filled will bluesy and folky vibes. If you are into Hexvessel, Grave Pleasures and King Dude, this release will hit close to home.

The release opens with the imposing “Run With The Devil”, which Jørgen Munkeby on vocals and sax, giving the song a very lively mood thanks to its catchiness and simplicity. Darkness descends upon listeners with the bluesy “Coming Home” and the eerie folky “Burning Churches” with Mat McNerney handling vocals alongside creepy chorus arrangements and lush acoustic guitars.

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