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.

SOM - Awake (2021)

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Featuring members of bands like Constants, Junius, and Caspian, today we have the dreamy SOM and their highly intoxicating EP “Awake”. With two original songs and three remixes, this release is a teaser of what is to come from this unique outfit. Filled with tons of ethereal and highly atmospheric elements, the band’s sound is quite mellow and yet expansive and highly exploratory, creating a very cinematic listening experience.

Opening with the sweeping “Awake // Sedate”, we are quickly immersed in the band’s very dreamy sound thanks to its dramatic guitars and mellow vocals. There is certain warmth and dreaminess that is quite hard to describe, but is immediately felt when listening to this track. In a more dramatic fashion, “Youth // Decay'' delivers shoegazey emotions with a good dose of dream pop infused in the mix. We particularly love how the song slowly progresses, providing a truly energizing emotional rollercoaster ride.

Wolvennest - Temple (2021)

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Always pushing the envelope when it comes to unique aural experiences, Ván Records is set to unleash one of the most unique, and yet intoxicating releases of 2021 with Wolvennest’s “Temple”. Clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, this eight song release is filled with haunting atmospherics, eerie arrangements and solid doses of heaviness. Mixing elements from all kinds of genres like Psychedelic Metal, Ambient, to Apocalyptic Folk, and everything in between, this is one truly majestic experience that demands attention and patience.

The album warms up with the ambient/atmospheric elements of “Mantra”, a track that slowly evolves into a mystical piece with piercing guitars and eerie vocal arrangements. Reminding us a bit of Dark Buddha Rising but with some restraint, plus the enigmatic vocals of Shazzula. The mood feels rising with “Swear to Fire” and its incisive riffs and ghastly vocal melodies mixed in with a very crafty tempo and cathartic guitar leads.

Marianas Rest - Fata Morgana (2021)

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Unleashing crushing melancholy and gloom, today we have Finland’s Marianas Rest and their third full-length release “Fata Morgana”. For being huge fans of Melodic Death/Doom Metal we are quite shocked that we never heard of this band before, but we are glad that this has since been corrected. Featuring Aapo Koivisto of Omnium Gatherum fame, this band delivers some of the most impressive and demoralizing melancholic music we have ever heard.

Creating an unsettling mysterious atmosphere in “Sacrificial”, the band starts building up the pummeling momentum of this release with solid atmospherics, diverse guitar styles and subtle piano passages. Jaakko Mäntymaa vocals perfectly fit the overall mood of the band’s sound, as their versatility (shrieks to growls to clean) allows the band to not sound like any of their other Finnish counterparts. “Glow from the Edge” keeps the misery rolling with bleak guitars, and haunting female vocals courtesy of guest Lindsay Schoolcraft, further elevating the band’s atmospheric brilliance.

Shadows - Shadows (2021)

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When it comes to weird and out of the ordinary music, we are always on looking for the next weirdest thing. Today, via Agonia Records, we have Shadows and their self-titled debut EP. Led by Alex Bouks of Incantation and Goreaphobia fame, this band unleashes a very intoxicating and unique release with a blend of musical styles within Metal and bordering with Rock and Goth elements.

Opening with the somber “Ghosts of Old”, we get an interesting mixture of crafty drumming, firm riffs and a very moody tempo. The clean vocals remind us a bit of the band EverEve, with a certain twang added to them. The album’s atmosphere is quite dark and enjoyable as tracks like “Shadows”, “Night of the Goat Winter Moon”, and “Elders” have a nice mixture of warm and fuzzy psychedelic distortion with engaging tempo changes and very solemn vocals.

Ordo Cultum Serpentis - Derej Najash (2021)

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Delivering a 26 minute slab of crushing music, today we have International entity Ordo Cultum Serpentis and their debut EP “Derej Najash”. Featuring two tracks of 13 minutes each, the band’s sound is as close as we can imagine the depths of hell to sound like. Mixing a great deal of ambient elements with chugging slow riffs and creepy vocals, this release is perfect for a dark somber night.

Opening with “Chapter 1”, the album starts with a ritualistic vibe of eerie chants and sounds and slowly descends into madness with superbly slow distorted guitars and desolate atmospherics. As the track evolves, there are fierce fast-paced passages with hellish shrieks and a very cavernous vibe. The second piece, “Chapter 2”, continues with the ritualistic atmospherics and sparse drumming, slowly building into savagely punishing simple riffs and more disturbing vocal arrangements.

Gorr - Kvit Som Snøen, Kald I Blikket (2021)

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Hailing from the frosty lands of Norway and South Carolina, today we have International duo Gorr and their latest full-length release “Kvit Som Snøen, Kald I Blikket”. Delivering over 25 minutes of raw Black Metal, this outfit unleashes an interesting mixture of rawness and mid-tempo atmospherics, creating a very unique and engaging sound. If you like Black Metal that while sounding like it was recorded in the woods, it also has a more thoughtful and melancholic edge, then you should definitely check this out.

Opening with the mellow “Innleiing”, we get a nice contrast between simple guitars and raspy harsh vocals. Skuggimaðr is the band’s vocalist and Norwegian member, whose singing style perfectly fits the duality of the band’s sound. Tracks like “Bitande Kaldt”, “Kvit Som Snøen, Kald I Blikket”, and “Ditt Uendelege Raseri”, are your run of the mill BM songs, with some Death Metal and even Doomy influences that makes them interesting and nice complement to the more atmospheric pieces like “Mørkt Føre, Mørke Bak” and “Kom Ut I Mitt Mørke”.

The Amenta - Revelator (2021)

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It has been a while since we have heard anything from Australia’s weird Industrial Metal outfit The Amenta. Returning with “Revelator”, the band continues their path of weirdness with an interesting blend of experimental elements and Industrial Metal foundations, creating a very chaotic and yet interesting sound. If you like odd and unconventional music with a good dose of heaviness, this release has some nice surprises in store for you.

The release starts with the pummeling “An Epoch Ellipsis”, a track that starts with a similar pace to Anaal Nathrakh’s music, but quickly shows that it is a completely different beast with funky tempo changes, soaring clean vocals, and some underlying industrial elements. The uniqueness of “Sere Money” nicely changes the pace a bit as the band showcases their more melodic and catchy side, with lush rhythmic sections and a nice blend of harsh and clean vocals.

Evergrey - Escape of the Phoenix (2021)

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Originally not big fans of the band, with their last few releases they have converted us thanks to their engaging Power/Progressive Metal with somber undertones and the fantastic voice of Tom Englund. In “Escape of the Phoenix”, the band builds up on the success of their previous album and delivers nearly one full hour of high-octane music with tons of mood changes and soaring vocal melodies.

The release opens strongly with the heavy guitars of “Forever Outsider”, a track that nicely sets a very dynamic mood thanks to the funky keyboards. One of the first heavy hitters is the very melodic and catchy “Where August Mourn” and its dreamy atmospherics paired with Tom’s emotive vocals. This track has some nice Dark Tranquillity vibes to it as well. After the power ballad “Stories”, the album’s best song “Dandelion Cipher” delivers waves of soaring vocal arrangements, heartfelt lyrics and very explosive instrumentation, making it an instant epic.

Empyrium - Über den Sternen (2021)

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Empyrium has a way of making fans way for long periods of time for new music, but yet when they release something, all is forgotten as the band’s sonic magic appeases even the most disgruntled fan. Just making us wait seven years, instead of twelve as in the last time, Schwadorf and Thomas Helm return with over 52 minutes of music that manages to merge the band’s original ingenuity and ferocity, with their more refined and Folky sound of their later releases.

The release opens with the solemn acoustic guitars of “The Three Flames Sapphire”, a track that slowly moves into more complex territories with the lush clean vocals of Thoman Helm and layers of additional classical elements. However, one of the most interesting parts is the introduction of distorted guitars and harsh vocals, turning the track’s mood in a completely new dimension and bringing back “A Wintersunset...” vibes, and this is just the first song.

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