Bombs of Hades - Phantom Bell (2020)

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Led by Jonas Stålhammar of At the Gates fame, today we have Bombs of Hades and their short-but-sweet EP “Phantom Bell”. Released as a teaser before the band records their next full-length release, the listener is treated to four tracks, two of them covers, and 16 minutes of music. With a Crusty Death Metal sound, this album is a nice warm-up but it feels a bit too short, as we are always caught off-guard when the next release one our playlists sneaks up on us.

Opening with the title track, we get a furious guitar onslaught that quickly escalates with fast drumming and a moshing vibe. The guitar leads in this song give us a certain retro/crusty edge that we don’t typically find in our playlist. “Bridge of Sighs” is more settled as the crunchy guitars lead way to a very catchy vibe. The climax portion of this track is very impressive and nicely developed, firing up guitar solos and atmospheric elements.

Katatonia - City Burials (2020)

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After taking a brief hiatus a few years ago, Katatonia has returned with their signature melancholic Progressive/Alternative Rock and Metal mix with “City Burials”. As one of their most accessible and darker releases in recent years, this album delivers eleven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of highly emotional music with the band’s signature sound. If you are into the mellower side of things, this release is the perfect backdrop for a quiet evening of quarantine.

The release opens with the moody vibes of “Heart Set to Divide” and “Behind the Blood”, both tracks nicely frame Jonas Renkse emotive vocals with nice atmospherics and heavy guitars. More experimental elements are used on songs like “Lacque” and “Vanishers”, which show an interesting electronic undertone, similar to what Anathema tried on their last release. Other tracks just deliver the oozing melancholy achieved by lush vocal melodies and weeping guitars like “Rein”.

Turmion Kätilöt - Global Warming (2020)

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It still baffles us that such an awesome band like Turmion Kätilöt is not known as much outside of Finland. We stumbled on this band attending a pre-Tuska 2008 show at the legendary Tavastia Nightclub and have been fans ever since, hell, our alarm clock wake up song is the awesome “U.S.C.H!”. Fanboying aside, “Global Warming” marks the band’s first release through Nuclear Blast records and delivers 13 extremely catchy and aggressive Industrial Metal songs. If you are a fan of Pain, then this band will blow you away.

The ride begins with the futuristic atmospherics of “Naitu”, a song that slowly evolved into an Industrial cyber-goth wet dream. With all lyrics in Finnish, lead vocalist MC Raaka Pee unleashes his harsh vocals alongside Shag-U’s back up to create a very chaotic vibe as the electronic beats and guitars provide unrivaled catchiness. All synths and programming is done by Janne Tolsa, which some might know from his excellent work in bands like Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Tarot, his creativity provides the listener with the funkiness behind brilliant tracks like “Kyntövuohi”, “Viha Ja Rakkaus”, and one of our favorites “Turvasana”.

Nôidva - Windseller (2020)

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Delivering even more of that good old Melodic Black Metal from the late 90’s/early 2000’s, today we have Finland’s Nôidva and their debut EP “Windseller”. Featuring six intense tracks filled with catchy riffs, gaudy (in a good way) atmospherics and devilish vocals, this release will surely resonate with fans of Ancient, Limbonic Art, Tartaros and even early Emperor.

Blowing the lid off on this release, we have the intense title track leading the band’s efforts. Combining lively guitars, crafty drums, and a playful combination of atmospheric elements and raw vocals, this song creates a very engaging and catchy atmosphere, with a certain sinister edge to it. While the music is not overly complex, the straightforw

Forlesen - Hierophant Violent (2020)

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One of the very few advantages of the COVID-19 pandemic is that we can now work from home and listen to music non-stop. As one of the more interesting releases to creep into our inbox, today we have Forlesen and their two song, 36 minute release “Hierophant Violent”. Featuring members of Lotus Thief, Kayo Dot, Botanist, Maudlin of the Well this band creates a transcendental musical experience with a very powerful and carefully crafted sound.

Kicking off the release with the hypnotizing atmospherics of “Following Light”, the band creates a very dreamy mood as the song progresses into magical ethereal interludes and very cathartic moments. The guitars and drums are perfectly leveled with the atmospheric elements, allowing a very unique interplay between these elements and the haunting male and female vocals.

Nicumo - Inertia (2020)

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Unleashing one of the catchiest Melodic/Gothic Metal/Rock releases of 2020, today we have Finland’s Nicumo and their latest release “Inertia”. With a sound very reminiscent of bands like To/Die/For, H.I.M and even The Man Eating Tree, this band brings back a sound that has slowly been dying and delivers nine superb tracks for the nostalgia fans of emotional and catchy music of the mid 2000’s.

The album kicks off with the soaring vocals of “Three Pyres”, a very subtle track that showcases the band’s influences from both the Metal and Rock scenes. The mixture of vocal styles and excellent guitars make for a very catchy and engaging opening song. With a very well defined formula, the band delivers superbly catchy songs like “Dark Rivers”, “Witch Hunt” and its epic chorus section, and the moody “Tree of Life”. For those looking for more mellow and introspective pieces, “Same Blood” has that ballad-esque edge, similar to bands like (late) Lacrimas Profundere.

Bythos - The Womb of Zero (2020)

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Hailing from Finland and featuring members of Horna, Behexen and Ajattara, we instantly expected “The Womb of Zero” to be a furiously crushing Black Metal release and we got more than what we bargained for. While the BM elements and influences are there, the heavy melodic and Doomy prevail in this release to craft a very unique and completely unexpected sound. Delivering perfectly balanced songs, this release shows a very unique and different side of the band members involved.

The album instantly crafts a very sinister atmosphere with the devilish riffs of “Black Labyrinth”. Here is also where you notice that the tempo is a bit slower than expected, as it creates a very cavernous and crushing vibe. The harsh vocals are perfectly blended into melodic and at times Doomy riffs as the opener song fades into the dramatic guitar leads of “When Gold Turns into Lead”. If you start listening to the album on this track, you would be confused as it has a certain old-school Katatonia/October Tide vibe.

Manes - Young Skeleton (2020)

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With the volume of promos we get every day, we rarely look into the ones that contain singles. That being said, when the name Manes popped into our inbox, we had to drop everything else and pay undivided attention. As one of our favorite genre-bending bands, this Norwegian outfit continues to push the boundaries of music with their creative exploits and “Young Skeleton” is no different. If you like a mixture of Rock/Metal and tons of atmospheric elements, then Manes is definitely a band to explore.

Opening with the title track, we get a somber track that slowly builds up with very subtle elements until Tom Engelsøy guest vocals perfectly lead this piece. The song has a very nice progression as the lush atmospherics slowly complement the minimalist percussion. Delivering a more complex and layered approach, “Mouth of the Volcano” unleashes the full Manes sound with brilliant guest vocals from Anna Murphy (Cellar Darling) and Ana Carolina Skaret (Mourning Sun) paired with regular vocalist, and alongside eerie atmospherics. Creating a chaotic and yet lush experience, this track gives us a bit of a mix between Manes and Lethe.

Ayyur - Balkarnin (2020)

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It is not every day that we get a release from Tunisia, and it is even less common that it is actually pretty good. Today we have Ayyur with their highly atmospheric and experimental Black Metal unleashing their two-song EP “Balkarnin”. With a knack for cavernous atmospheres and punishingly slow riffs, this release is one strong introduction to this very promising band.

The EP sets a very hypnotic mood with the slow riffs of “I”, combining them with harsh vocals and a certain Doom vibe. As the guitar leads develop into an atmospheric interlude, the band creates a commanding atmosphere that is both bone chilling and dense. Without much flair or additional elements the rudimentary rawness of the band’s sound is quite direct and effective.

Ulcerate - Stare Into Death and Be Still (2020)

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As one of the most expected releases of 2020, today we have Kiwi’s Ulcerate and their impressive full-length release “Stare Into Death and Be Still”. Pegged as Technical Death Metal, this release is as refined as it is brutal, delivering nearly one hour of savagely crafted songs that will rattle your speakers and skull. With an unrivaled finesse, this release is by far on one of the best we have heard in 2020, so be ready to be blown away.

Opening with the crafty layering on “The Lifeless Advance”, we are instantly immersed into the band’s punishing world of high-octane drumming and intricate guitar work. Juxtaposing walls of sound with the inhuman vocals of Paul Kelland, the band creates very cavernous and intimidating pieces like the crushing opener and its more playful counterpart “Exhale the Ash”. There is an underlying melodic aspect to the band’s sound that makes songs even more effective in delivering their contrasting fast-paced brutality onslaughts of intense riffs and growls, as we can hear in the moody album title track.

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