Olhava - Sacrifice (2024)


Perfectly balancing fragility and raw aggression, today we have Olhava and their latest opus “Sacrifice”. Featuring members of Trna, this duo unleashes eight tracks clocking in at nearly 87 minutes of music. Filled with magical soundscapes and crafty songwriting ideas, this album is highly intoxicating. Recommended for fans of bands like An Autumn for Crippled Children, Heretoir, Show Me a Dinosaur, etc. this release is quite dreamy and hypnotic.

Opening with the sixteen minute “Forever With You”, the band sets a very atmospheric and immersive mood with lush keyboards alongside a wall of distortion. Setting the mood between the album’s longer tracks, we have a number of enigmatic atmospheric instrumentals called “Ageless River VI-IX”. These tracks provide a nice and varied transition between the more cathartic and crushing pieces.

Funeral Winds - 333 (2024)


Delivering a swift and brutal onslaught of pummeling rawness, today we have Funeral Winds with “333”. Featuring eight tracks and nearly 40 minutes of music, this album is not for the faint of heart as it is as raw and punishing as they come. Almost releasing one album every year after their long hiatus between 2007 and 2018, Hellchrist Xul keeps things powerful and down to basics.

Lucifer - Lucifer V (2024)


Keeping the Psychedelic/Occult Rock/Metal revival going, today we have Lucifer and their fifth full-length release. Featuring a very accomplished line-up of members like Nicke Andersson (Entombed, The Hellacopters) and Johanna Claudia Sadonis (ex-The Oath), this release delivers nine tracks and nearly 40 minutes of catchy retro doomy heavy music.

Opening with the high-octane “Fallen Angel”, we get a nice dose of traditional Heavy Metal riffs with engaging vocals and a catchy chorus section. The band’s music is designed to be crafty, and guitar driven, making for some very interesting and memorable pieces like “At The Mortuary”, “Slow Dance in a Crypt”, and “Riding Reaper”. The mixture of Doom, Heavy Metal with Psychedelic/Occult rock elements is quite well crafted and makes for some very entertaining songs.

Vemod - The Deepening (2024)


Unleashing a mesmerizing first release in over a decade, Vemod delivers nearly 50 minutes of highly dynamic and engaging Atmospheric Black Metal. With parallels to Agalloch, Fen and similar artists, there are six lush tracks in this release with plenty of memorable passages and arrangements. Far from straightforward and predictable, this album is surely going to make plenty of best of 2024 releases.

After the mood setting intro, “Der guder dør” fiercely delivers incisive riffs alongside a very hypnotic tempo and masterful vocal arrangements. Creating a very powerful and demoralizing atmosphere, the band perfectly weaves dramatic instrumental passages with more aggressive and brutal onslaughts. With an even stronger pace, “True North Beckons” has a certain Borknagar in the “Olden Domain” days vibe mixed in with a more modern Blackgaze edge to it, and even some jazziness is thrown into the mix.

Exit Eden - Femmes Fatales (2024)


Oozing catchines and Symphonic power, today we have Exit Eden and their sophomore release “Femmes Fatales”. Being seven years in the making, this release delivers twelve tracks, six originals and six covers, all spanning almost one hour of superb music. Particularly catered for fans of Female-fronted Symphonic Metal, this release showcases the vocal talents of Clémentine Develay Thieux (Visions of Atlantis), Marina La Torraca (Phantom Elite), and Anna Brunner. With each one bringing their own uniqueness to highly dynamic and engaging music.

Alternating one original song and one cover song, the release opens with the captivating energy of “Femme Fatale” and as it blends into the brilliant Pet Shop Boys cover of “It's a Sin”. While Amanda Sommerville is no longer with the band, Clémentine, Marina, and Anna do a great job in keeping things quite diverse and engaging and it also allows the listener to focus even more on what each brings to the table.

White Death - Iconoclast (2023)


Closing 2023 with a fierce and punishing Black Metal release, today we have Finland’s White Death and their scorcher album “Iconoclast”. Six years or so in the making, this release unleashes 48 minutes of frosty old-school Finnish Black Metal. Filled with piercing vocals, ravaging riffs, and an overall all-out-war vibe, this release is definitely one of the best in the genre.

Blasting away with the raw power of “Born from the Unholy Fire (Part II)”, vocalist Vritrahn delivers some of the most savage and punishing harsh vocals in the business. The vocals are greatly complemented by crafty guitars that weave between pummeling aggressive passages to more engaging and melodic territories, as songs like “Iconoclast” and “Sumum Bestiae” showcase. For those of us fans of Finnish Black Metal like Horna, Satanic Warmaster, etc., this band is sweet, sweet music to our ears.

Vargrav - The Nighthold (2023)


Capitalizing on the success of Vargrav’s first two releases, “Reign in Supreme Darkness” and “Netherstorm”, mastermind V-KhaoZ moves this outfit from a solo project to a band. In “The Nighthold”, we get a more evolved version of this Finish outfit with a gnarly old-school BM vibe to come along. While still delivering for the people waiting for 90’s Symphonic BM, the band goes the extra mile in crafting a release that is engaging and diverse and not just a rehash of their earlier epic releases and yet has that signature Vargrav sound to it.

Opening with “Moonless Abyss of the Nighthold” and “Through the Woods of Breathing Shadows” we get that dreamy Symphonic BM fix that we were looking for, but also find a harsher and frostier edge to the band’s sound. The addition of Graf Werwolf von Armageddon (Satanic Warmaster fame) on vocals, and members of Finntroll and Moonsorrow on bass and drums, gives this release a more polished and well crafted instrumental edge.

One Master - The Name of Power (2023)


After some years of so-so USBM releases, 2023 was packed with pretty epic stuff, including One Master’s “The Name of Power”. As the band’s first full-length release in six years, this gritty and punishing release nicely evolves the band’s sound while keeping them high up in the rankings as of the best Black Metal outfits in the USA. Pouring 54 minutes of ravaging and destructive music, Valder and company do not fuck around and bring tons of attitude and power to the table with this one.

Quickly setting an uncompromising and relentless wall of sound, “The First Names” and “The Forbidden Names” deliver waves of punishing riffs nicely flanked by intense drumming and crushing vocals. The band’s raw and stripped down production creates a very powerful effect, giving the music that unfiltered sound that live performances have. With minimal atmospherics and ritualistic change of tempos, tracks like “The Secret Names” keep the release engaging and far from linear.

Therion - Leviathan III (2023)


Finishing up their Leviathan trilogy, today we have Therion with “Leviathan III”, an excellent release that continues the band’s legacy as one of the premiere Symphonic Metal acts. Featuring eleven tracks and 52 minutes of superbly catchy music, this release is more than just another Therion release with plenty of memorable moments and unique songs.

Opening with the magic of “Ninkigal” and the musicality of “Ruler of Tamag”, we are treated to the band’s brilliant mixture of heavy distorted guitars alongside lush orchestrations and choir arrangements. We particularly enjoy how songs like “An Unsung Lament” have that classical vibe with excellent vocal arrangements while still keeping things heavy and catchy. Many bands that attempt the genre over do it with overbearing symphonic elements, but Christofer Johnsson and company make balancing styles look easy.

SLOW - Ab​î​mes I (2023)


Setting a very slow and mournful pace, today we have Belgium’s SLOW and their latest demoralizing release “Ab​î​mes I”. Mastermind Déhà has a knack for unleashing gargantuan releases filled with crushing riffs, vocal extremes, and always a heavy atmospheric component, with this band Funeral Doom is as excruciating and punishing as it gets. With four tracks and nearly 44 minutes of music, this release is as dense as they get, evoking memories of other bands like Shape of Despair and the OGs Thergothon.


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