Ancient Wisdom - A Celebration In Honor of Death (2021)

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Completely unexpected after 17 years since their last release, Ancient Wisdom returns with ‘their’ mystical and enigmatic Atmospheric Black Metal. Being huge fans of the band’s earlier work, Marcus E. Norman keeps things simple and traditional while delivering 50 minutes of captivating music with an old-school vibe and tons of crafty ideas. If you like old-school Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal but with a more Atmospheric edge, you can’t miss out on “A Celebration In Honor of Death”.

Opening with the dramatic “Haec est Mors Secunda” we get lush operatic choir arrangements, sinister riffs, and an almost Doomy pace to start this release. Of course the band’s Black Metal roots instantly shine with the riffs of “Breaking the Circle of Life”, a track that nicely blends some Middle Eastern undertones to its powerful melodic passages and harsh snarls. Always focusing on creating weird and quirky tracks, songs like “Architect of Death - Laudamus Te” and “The Coronation” craft very unique atmospheres alongside funky guitars and interesting tempo changes, making the band’s diverse sound quite engaging and exciting.

Siderean - Lost on Void's Horizon (2021)

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Unleashing around 40 minutes of expertly crafted Death Metal, today we have Slovenia’s Siderean and their debut release “Lost on Void’s Horizon”. Mixing a core of traditional Death Metal elements with brilliant technical proficiency and some sprinkles of progressive elements thrown into the mix, this release is both crafty and powerful. Never straying too far away from their DM roots, the band nicely explores multiple influences, ultimately delivering a very unique and engaging style of their own.

The release opens up with the thunderous “Eolith” and its fierce guitar onslaughts. Thrown into the mix are some nice mellow interludes that allow the listener to breathe and prepare for the next round of punishment. After the dreamy instrumental, “Traversing”, the band comes back with a more mellow and proggy vibe on the album title track. Having some killer Opeth/Sculptured-esque vibes, this track still grapples to its old-school DM harshness alongside playful and funky melodic passages.

Meridian Dawn - The Pagan Poetry (2021)

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After their killer 2020 debut release “The Fever Syndrome”, we had our ears ready for Meridian’s Dawn latest EP “The Pagan Poetry”. Featuring 2 new tracks and three cover songs, this release keeps up the band’s momentum as one of the best up and coming Melodic Death Metal bands that plays with an old-school Nightrage/Inflames/Dark Tranquility vibe.

Opening with Björk’s cover of “Pagan Poetry”, we get a bit of a muffled track that while delivering the band’s signature intense riffs and catchy tempo changes, it also shows a different side to the original piece. While our promo sounds a bit wonky, the song rendition itself is not bad. Next up we have one of the band’s new songs “The Moonlit Path”, a song we completely love as the band takes its time in building melodic interludes before blasting full-speed with the harsh vocals and crushing lead guitars.

Odraza - Acedia (2021)

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Straight out of a horror film, today we have Poland’s Odraza and their bone-chilling EP “Acedia”. Perfectly blending Black Metal elements with tons of dramatic atmospherics in a very experimental manner, this release unleashes nearly 27 minutes of creepy music that is intended to disturb listeners while drawing them into its fierce claws.

Immediately setting the bar high with the creepy first few minutes of “I”, the band slowly creates a very foul and disturbing atmosphere. There are certain jazzy and exploratory elements thrown into the mix, allowing the band’s sound to be quite expansive and unique. Heavy doomy riffs and crafty percussion help shift the mood in this aural journey, to a more industrial and ethnic place, while the sparse Black Metal onslaughts are fierce and demoralizing due to their intensity.

Disparaître - Urchig (2021)

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Never in short supply, Atmospheric Black Metal bands have started to pop out of the shadows in the last few years. With a saturation of the genre, it becomes quite hard to find bands that bring something unique and different to the table. Luckily for us, today we have France’s mysterious entity Disparaître and their latest EP “Urchig”. Clocking in at 30+ minutes, this release creates a very cavernous atmospheric vibe but throws in some melodic elements that nicely shift the linearity of the style and create interesting and engaging passages.

The release opens with your traditional synth opening in “La voûte étoilée”, however, they quickly merge with an all-out-war approach with piercing shrieks, crushing guitars and crafty drums. We particularly appreciate how the atmospheric synths are mixed quite high, at some points overpowering the ravaging BM onslaughts. The intensity picks up with the brutal onslaughts of “Nachtspinnärinnä”, an 11-minute tour-de-force that perfectly blends piercing riffs with harsh screams and dreamy atmospheric undertones.

Jess and the Ancient Ones - Vertigo (2021)

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After a four year wait, we have Finland’s Psychedelic Rockers Jess and the Ancient Ones finally back with their mesmerizing “Vertigo” release. Being huge fans of the band since their self-titled debut, we are excited to hear how their music continues to evolve and deliver warm and fuzzy vibes. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Jex Thoth, Purson, and even Tribulation, this release unleashes around 40 minutes of superbly crafted and highly groovy music.

The album kicks off with the mysterious guitars of “Burning Of The Velvet Fires”, and as soon as Jess’s vocals come to light, the mood turns sultry and enigmatic. We particularly love how the band uses synths and crafty drums to create immersive Psychedelic experiences that are perfectly adorned by Jess’s distinctive vocals and Thomas Corpse’s playful guitars, as heard in pieces like “World Paranormal”, “Talking Aboard”, and the funky “Talking Board”.

Sojourner - Perennial (2021)

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Slowly growing into an International powerhouse of Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal, today we have Sojourner and their majestic EP “Perennial”. Having released one of our favorite Atmospheric BM albums of 2020, the band returns with two new songs featuring their new female vocalist, Lucia Amelia Emmanueli, and guitarist, Tom O'Dell. In these two new songs, the band continues to merge epicly melancholic passages with lively and aggressive traditional Atmospheric BM elements, creating a very regal and unique style that any fan of Gothic/Symphonic-infused Metal might greatly enjoy.

The EP opens with the title track, a very lush and engaging magical piece that creates a very solemn and yet highly emotional atmosphere that is tastefully adorned by Lucia Amelia’s very sweet and nicely fitting vocal style. We get a mixture of old Trail of Tears, Sirenia, and even Dismal Euphony vibes from this tour-de-force song filled with dramatic piano passages and emotive tempo changes.

Seth - La morsure du Christ (2021)

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Unleashing one of the most brutal and misanthropic Melodic Black Metal releases of 2021, today we have Seth and their latest opus “La morsure du Christ”. Perfectly blending uncompromising aggression, oldschool elements, and dramatic atmospheric arrangements, this release unleashes 50 plus minutes of majestic music. Having achieved cult status with only a handful of releases before its hiatus, this French outfit focuses on delivering quality over quantity with highly polished and extremely detailed releases like this one.

Opening with the album title track, the band delivers swift riffs alongside vicious harsh vocals, and a very persistent sense of melody in between brutal onslaughts. The band’s attention to detail and extremely high production values allow this, and all other songs to sound amazing and have high replay value, always discovering new things. After the first blow, the Seth sets a very melancholic and yet aggressive mood with the ravaging “Métal Noir” and its intoxicating atmospheric arrangements.

Hanging Garden - Skeleton Lake (2021)

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Returning with an even more bombastic and yet misery inducing release, today we have Finland’s Hanging Garden and their latest effort “Skeleton Lake”. Moving a bit away from their traditional old-school Death/Doom Metal, the band steps in territories pioneered by bands like Tristania, Theatre of Tragedy, etc. with the addition of more Gothic/Pop-ish elements in the 46 minutes of music. If you like well crafted melodic, catchy and engaging music with diverse influences, this release will bring the band close to the previously mentioned bands.

Opening with the lush and bombastic “Kuura”, new female vocalist Riikka Hatakka shines as her sweet voice is the perfect contrast to heavy distorted guitars and energetic growls. While the atmospheric component of the band’s sound is still present and the mournful melodic riffs are there, tracks like “Faith”, “Nowhere Haven”, and “Winter’s Kiss” add extra Gothic-like elements alongside additional catchiness. The use of clean male vocals also gives the band a certain To/Die/For edge, making their sound more dynamic than before.

Olhava - Frozen Bloom (2021)

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Delivering an relentless wave of atmospheric brilliance, today we have Russia’s Atmospheric/Post-Black Metal/Blackgaze duo Olhava and their mesmerizing release “Frozen Bloom”. Filled with intensity, ravaging brutality, and yet unparallelled beauty, this release unleashes nearly 60 minutes of crushing music. For fans of bands like Lustre, An Autumn for Crippled Children, Heretoir, Alcest, Deafheaven, etc. this release takes the genre to a whole new level of intensity and explosivity.

Opening with the towering “The Queen Of Fields'' and it’s 20 minutes of sheer intensity, we are treated to lush shoegazey guitars, pummeling drums, frosty harsh screams and crafty tempo changes. The switch between furious onslaughts and more delicate atmospheric dreaminess is one of the band’s strengths and signature moves. The dreamy instrumental “Adrift” paints a more restrained picture with lush arrangements and very introspective moments.

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