Vorna - Aamunkoi (2023)


Showing their excellent 2019 release, “Sateet palata saavat”, was no fluke, Finland’s Vorna returns with an even more expansive and bombastic release with “Aamunkoi”. The band’s sound is as unique as before, perfectly mixing Folk/Pagan/Black Metal with a hefty dose of atmospheric elements. Featuring over 44 minutes of lush vocal arrangements alongside crafty instrumentation and a solid level of heaviness, this release is quite rich and highly enjoyable.

Opening with “Hiljaisuus ei kestä” a very lush and folky mood is established thanks to a mixture of clean and harsh vocals alongside solid riffing and tight drumming. The band’s melancholic nature starts oozing more profusely as “Harva päättää hyvästeistään”, “Aika pakenee”, and “Valo” come around with their dramatic atmospherics and crafty tempo changes, we even got some Amorphis-esque vibes here and there.

Cradle of Filth - Trouble and their Double Lives (2023)


Our favorite Gothic/Symphonic Black Metal miscreants are back, with a new double live release that also features a couple new studio tracks. Nicely separated into older and newer songs per disc, this release is a testament that the band still has plenty of fuel left in their tank while delivering some kick-ass live shows. If you are a diehard fan of the band, this release nicely captures a glimpse of how their, quite elaborate, tracks sound in a live setting.

Opening with the new track “She is a Fire”, is a dreamy piece that continues the bands intensity and lush atmospherics of their previous release “Existence Is Futile”. Since this track is new, this and the other studio songs should feature Zoë Marie Federoff, the band’s newest member on keyboards and backing vocals. The rest of the first disc has plenty of killer live renditions of fan favorites like “Heaven Torn Asunder”, “Nymphentamine”, “Bathory Aria”, and “Desire in Violent Overture.

Nightside - Lions (2023)


Perfectly capitalizing on their 2021 return, cult outfit Nightside has managed to crawl from the depths of hell to unleash one brilliant ode to the days of 90’s uncompromising and punishing Black Metal. Featuring three songs and labeled as a demo, “Lions” showcases the band’s undeniable talent and blistering execution of the dark arts while putting all the posers and copycats to shame.

Bacchus - II (2023)


Unleashing a very hypnotic and highly atmospheric beast, today we have France’s Bacchus and their debut full-length release “II”. With a very interesting and oppressive sound, this band sounds a bit like The Ruins of Beverast meets Urfaust meets Fluisteraars. For six tracks and nearly 35 minutes, the band haunts the listener with piercing compositions that are both mysterious and highly disturbing.

Opening with the atmospheric funkiness of “II.I”, the band quickly sets a very hypnotic tempo that is nicely amplified by (very) weird vocal arrangements that create a very oppressive atmosphere. The atmospheric synths and samples give a certain Germ/Galaktik Cancer Squad and create some truly unique and disturbing soundscapes, as delivered by “II.II” and “II.III”.

Aara - Triade III: Nyx (2023)


Drowning in atmospheric brilliance, today we have Aara closing their trilogy with “Triade III: Nyx”. Delivering six sweeping songs of brutality and lush dreaminess, this release keeps the momentum of the first two parts and brings this period of the band to a close with a big bang. Highly recommended for fans of extremely atmospheric and intense music, this release will immerse you into the band’s world instantly with its relentless aural abuse.

Opening with the enigmatic “Heimgesucht”, the mood is perfectly set as the band escalates their riffing onslaughts to frantic mode. The sheer intensity and ravaing speed of Berg’s guitars perfectly aligns with the pummeling drumming of J. The band’s core sound is intense and violent, greatly amplified by the haunting harsh screams of Fluss, as we can hear on riveting pieces like “Emphase der Seelenpein”, “Moribunda”, and “Unstern”.

Dødheimsgard - Black Medium Current (2023)


Delivering a complete ‘holy shit’ moment, today we have the legendary Dødheimsgard returning with their first full-length release in eight years with “Black Medium Current”. While the band has continued to play live and deliver some truly enthralling performances, this release shows that the years of waiting were not in vain as it is their best release to date. Featuring nine tracks and nearly 70 minutes of masterful Avantgarde Black Metal music, this release will blow you away from the first couple of minutes.

The madness commences with the mellow opening to “Et smelter”, a slow momentum building couple of minutes until the relentless waves of BM riffs make their way. With Vicotnik and Tommy Guns handling the guitars, this opener oozes melancholy and intensity, perfectly paired with unique vocal arrangements and a very oppressive atmosphere. This unique and chaotic vibe is nicely continued with the ravaging and temperamental “Tankespinnerens Smerte”, a track that nicely leverages dreamy vocals and brilliant melodic interludes.

Ne Obliviscaris - Exul (2023)


It has been a while since we heard from Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris and their highly polished and expertly crafted Progressive Extreme Metal. Luckily, 2023 marks the return of the band with a crushing full-length release titled “Exul”. Featuring six tracks and nearly one hour of high-octane and brilliantly crafted music, this release sets a whole new standard for a band with extremely high quality releases. If you like outfits like Persefone, Ihsahn, Be'lakor, Cynic, and older Opeth, you will love this release.

The album kicks off with the brilliant “Equus”, a masterful piece filled with crafty drumming, an insane bass guitar line, all alongside dramatic violin arrangements and punishing vocals. For 12 minutes, the opener lays down the foundation of highly polished aggression mixed in with lush instrumentation and a very dark and somber mood. Now that the band is warmed up, they rip through the two part “Misericorde” masterpiece, with the first piece, “As the Flesh Falls”, nicely creating a playful Obscura-esque foundation of guitar wizardry and dramatic clean vocals. The second part, “Anatomy of Quiescence”, is even more dramatic with even more lush and jazzy violin arrangements thrown into the mix.

ISON - Stars & Embers (2023)


Just when you think a band and their music can’t get any better, ISON comes at us with the majestic “Stars & Embers”. Daniel Änghede brings back Lisa Cuthbert to achieve total dreaminess in the eight tracks presented in this release. Perfectly blending Ambient with Darkwave and some additional ‘Doomgaze’ elements, this release is both haunting and captivating. While it might require a specific mood for full enjoyment, this release has been a great backdrop to some long days at work.

The release opens with the lush and sidereal “Luminescent Reverie”, a piece that instantly transports the listener to have an astral projection experience as the music blends with the hypnotic vocals and masterful pacing. ISON always has this experience on us, as their music is quite lush in the atmosphere and vocals department. Lisa’s range is amazing, allowing her voice to shift across songs this release progresses, additionally, Mikael Stanne lends his signature clean vocals in a duet on the shoegazey “Peregrination”.

Hanging Garden - The Garden (2023)


Slowly inching their way into being one of the most exciting Gothic Death/Doom Metal bands in the scene, Hanging Garden returns with their latest full-length release “The Garden”. Featuring eleven expertly crafted tracks filled with melancholy and lush atmospherics alongside enchanting female vocals and a mixture of growls and clean male vocals. As huge fans of the genre, this release has that magical Theater of Tragedy “Aegis” vibe paired in with a modern sound and brilliant productions.

Opening with the crushing album title track, we get a slowly building piece with excellent heavy passages and a very solid dose of melancholy. Riikka Hatakka’s vocals have a certain Liv Kristine-esque vibe while unleashing unparalleled sweetness to a dark and somber mix as tracks like “The Four Winds”, “The Construct”, and “The Song of Spring” showcase. With each tracking having great melodic undertones, the songs in this release are both catchy and yet eerie and dark.

Interview with Liv Kristine (2023)

On the eve of the release of Liv Kristine’s “River of Diamonds”, we managed to score a conversation with Liv to discuss the new album and all the work and effort that went into it. In this candid conversation we also talk about her future plans and the life events that led to this release.


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