Imperia - The Last Horizon (2021)

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As one of the first impressive singers in the early days of Symphonic/Gothic Metal, Helena Iren Michaelsen has always been one of our favorite singers since her days in Trail of Tears. Unleashing a double album with Imperia, we are treated to over 72 minutes of lush Symphonic Metal with “The Last Horizon”. With tons of different elements ranging from rock to folk, this release has certainly something for everybody.

Opening with the lively, “Dream Away” sets a very epic and engaging vibe that is further developed and enhanced with killer songs like “Starlight”, the Doro-esque “To Valhalla I Ride”, and the explosive “Flower and the Sea”. Featuring dramatic arrangements, heavy riffs, and crafty atmospheric elements we are instantly attracted to dynamic songs like “Blindfolded” and “Only A Dream”.

Aara - Triade I: Eos (2021)

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After their crushing 2020 release “En Ergô Einai”, Aara showcased their blistering brand of Atmospheric Black Metal, making this album one of the highlights of the year. Wasting no time and keeping their momentum going, this Swiss trio now unleashes “Triade I: Eos” with nearly 45 minutes of even more impressive and commanding music. If you like furiously paced guitars and lush atmospherics filled with intensity, this is one release you can’t miss.

Setting a somber atmosphere with the first few minutes of “Fathum”, the band suddenly explodes with a very ferocious into all-out onslaught of piercing riffs, crushing drums, and shrieking vocals. The intensity delivered is nicely contrasted by subtle atmospheric and melodic elements, creating a very unique and powerful experience that nicely bleeds into “Tantalusqual”. One of our favorite tracks has to be the haunting “Naufragus” and its majestic atmospheric keyboards, giving us that Symphonic Black Metal vibe of bands like Limbonic Art and early Emperor.

Nachtig - Der stille Wald (2021)

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One man entity, Nachtig is ready to unleash misery to the masses with its second full-length release “Der stille Wald”. As yet another brilliant Black Metal project from V. V. (Cosmic Burial and Valosta Varjoon), this outfit explores the more atmospheric and depressive corners of the genre. Unleashing over 54 minutes of crushing music, this release is perfect for anybody looking for bands similar to Mortualia with some sprinkles of Heretoir.

The album title track opens the proceedings with fury and melancholy. Featuring mid-tempo drumming alongside piercing riffs and hellish vocals, a very oppressive and excruciating mood is quickly established. Perfectly pairing subtle atmospheric keyboards with weeping guitar riffs, the vibe continues to be misery-inducing as tracks like “Im Hohen Gras” and “Berg und Tal”. There are some hints of modern Post-Black Metal elements, making the songs lush and delicate while retaining the band’s core rawness.

White Void - Anti (2021)

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Led by the extremely busy Lars Are Nedland, White Void is an old-school Psychedelic/Occult Rock outfit that should not be missed. Unleashing their debut “Anti”, the band delivers over 46 minutes of majestically crafted and completely intoxicating music from start to end. If you are a fan of bands like Jess and the Ancient Ones, Purson, Sabbath Assembly, plus can’t get enough of Lars vocals in the latest Borknagar release, this release perfectly combines both.

Oozing grooviness, “Do. Not. Sleep.” opens with release with commanding style and a very warm and fuzzy retro vibe. The ripping guitar leads and crafty drumming nicely bleeds into the darker “There is No Freedom but the End”, as Lars' voice takes an enigmatic tone and the fuzzy synths create a very embracing atmosphere. The mood nicely varies between tracks as “Where You Go, You'll Bring Nothing” takes a more introspective pace and “The Shovel and the Cross” keeps things enigmatic with a hectic pace alongside the catchy guitars and synths.

Orden Ogan - Final Days (2021)

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Delivering their traditional high-octane Power Metal, today we have Germany’s Orden Ogan and their seventh full-length release “Final Days”. Featuring 50-minutes of superbly catchy and expertly crafted music, the band delivers one of their most epic and lively releases to date. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Stratovarius, Blind Guardian and Powerwolf, this is one of the highlights of the genre in 2021.

Opening with the catchiness of “Heart of the Android”, the band quickly sets a very engaging and epic atmosphere. With Niels Löffler switching to guitars and the addition of guitarist Patrick Sperling, the band sound is more dynamic and delivers a good amount of brilliant guitar leads and catchy passages, as we can hear on songs like “In the Dawn of the AI” and “Inferno”. As one would expect, the band’s epic vocal arrangements are a centerpiece of their sound and perfectly exploited in epic songs like “Let the Fire Rain”.

Sulpur - Embracing Hatred and Beckoning Darkness (2021)

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Unleashing one hell of a crushing debut release, today we have Sulpur and their debut release “Embracing Hatred and Beckoning Darkness”. Delivering over 43 minutes of pummeling old-school Black Metal, this outfit perfectly captures the aggression and rawness of the 90’s with five blistering compositions. If you like old Immortal, Marduk, Horna, and Satanic Warmaster, this is one release you can’t miss.

Opening with the mysterious intro/title track, the band sets a very dark and sinister mood as waves of punishing riffs and harsh screams quickly take over the sonic landscape. The band’s vicious style is perfectly delivered by the intense guitar work alongside some crafty tempo changes, reminding us of Immortal’s “Pure Holocaust” days. On tracks like “Blessed By Foul Magick”, the listener is abused by its sheer brutality, perfectly balanced between highly melodic passages.

Sarkrista - Sworn of Profound Heresy (2021)

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There is nothing like well executed Black Metal to lighten up our days. Luckily for us, Germany’s Sarkrista delivers some of the most piercing traditional BM that we have heard in quite a while. With “Sworn to Profound Heresy” the band unleashes their third full-length release and definitely one of their best. Featuring nearly 50 minutes of music, the band’s brand of raw and in-your-face BM is a force to be reckoned with, as it reminds us of Horna, Sargeist and similar outfits.

After a regal intro piece, the band’s ravaging ferocity quickly delivers its first blow with the album title track. Abusing blistering guitars and pummeling drumming, the band unleashes their fury as tracks like “Lair of Cursed Remains” and “Ablazing Ritual Torches” lay waste to the listener’s ear drums. We particularly enjoy the subtle and minimal atmospheric elements thrown into the mix alongside crafty tempo changes.

Suicide Forest - Reluctantly (2021)

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Hailing from the USA, today we have one-man entity Suicide Forest and its second full-length production “Reluctantly”. Unleashing over 43 minutes of harrowing Depressive/Atmospheric Black Metal, this band’s sound has that European vibe while introducing its own brand of creepiness to the mix. Recommended for fans of bands like Lifelover, Dodsferd, and similar outfits, be prepared to be crushed by this album.

Opening with the title track, the band sets a very demoralizing pace with a mid-tempo excruciating exercise in oppression. Thanks to its piercing riffs, ravaging shrieks, and subtle atmospheric keyboards, this track sets a very dense atmosphere. The crunchy “As the Light Fades Part 1” has a livelier pace to start as it has that rawness of early 90’s BM with its crafty guitar leads and faster tempos, reminding us a bit of Ancient in their “Svartalvheim” days.

Varmia - Bal Lada (2021)

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Expanding their roster to include more interesting and diverse acts, M-Theory Audio brings us today the third full-length release of Poland’s Varmia, titled “Bal Lada”. Combining Black Metal with Folk/Pagan elements, this outfit has an early Enslaved vibe in their well-crafted and highly engaging music. For over 60 minutes the band blends a wide variety of elements on top of crafty guitars and a sinister atmosphere.

The folky opener “Woanie” reminds us of Enslaved’s less proggy days, while the band sets an enigmatic pace to things. We are super fans of catchy songs and the riffs in “Bielmo” have a nice progression, allowing the listener to fully immerse himself in the band’s melodic side. The band does not stay very mellow for long as the incisive “Ruja” pairs piercing guitars with crafty drums while keeping things heavy and engaging.

Valosta Varjoon - Das Flammenmeer (2021)

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There is something just magical about listening to that blistering metallic distortion of old-school Raw Black Metal. Luckily for us, today we have Germany’s Valosta Varjoon and their latest full-length release “Das Flammenmeer”. Spewing 52-minutes of pummeling music, this release perfectly captures the genre’s rawness and delivers seven swift blows filled with brutality and craftiness.

After the atmospheric opening of the album’s title track, the band goes to work with a savage dose of piercing guitars and infernal shrieks of pain. Simple, raw and yet effective and brutal is the band’s motto as tracks like “Abschaum”, “Ruinen”, and “Gspusi” bring back the old-school vibe of the early days of Satyricon, Immortal, with a splash of Satanic Warmaster and Horna.

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