Just when you think that 2020 can not get any better in terms of Black Metal releases, today we have Serment dropping their majestically bombastic “Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté”. For nearly 40 minutes the band creates an immersive and superbly dramatic atmosphere that is fiercely pierced by ravaging onslaughts of hellish Black Metal onslaughts. As a side project of Moribond of Forteresse fame, this release delivers intensity, rawness, and melancholy in droves, making it one of the most pummeling releases of the year.
Seconds after the lush opener “Ouverture”, “Sonne, le Glas Funèbre” will fill your speakers with frosty synth arrangements and blistering drumming. The underlying catchiness of this track is perfectly captured as both harsh and clean vocals adorn the dramatic atmospherics, making it one intense opening for this release. Continuing to set the mood, “Par-Delà Collines et Rivières” and “Flamme Hivernale” keep the frosty atmosphere intact with waves of over-the-top arrangements flanked by violent screams and an overall apocalyptic feeling.
For some reason a band like Opeth and their newest Progressive/Psychedelic antics, while great sounding, they usually put us to sleep. Contrastingly, Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir and their latest newfound Psychedelic/Progressive endeavors incite a great level of curiosity and engagements from us. Unleashing “Eden in Reverse”, the band delivers a mixture of their weird avant-gardeness of their earlier days and trippy Proggy/Psych brilliance, perfectly delivered in seven tracks and nearly 45 minutes of captivating music.
The album opens up with the more traditional old-school Prog/Space rock of bands like Hawkwind and Magnum on pieces like “Darwining Beasts” and “Incense Swirls”. While catchy, we didn’t really get turned fully into the release until “Alien Lip Reading” comes in with a certain weird Solefald sounding angle, creating captivating guitar melodies and hypnotic vocal arrangements. This track nicely turns the release into a very interesting and completely trippy experience as it sounds like your old prog/space rock, but with a fresher and more dynamic edge.
As a side project of Fen’s members The Watcher and Havenless, Fellwarden is one of those bands that delivers a sound so hypnotic and sublime that you get completely immersed into their atmosphere. In “Wreathed in Mourncloud”, the band elevate their Atmospheric Black/Folk Metal sound to a whole new dimension. For nearly 55 minutes the band unleashes what can be best described as a mixture of early Fen with Empyrium, split into six lush songs that are set to never leave your music player for the rest of the year.
The mysterious “Pathmaker” opens up with lush percussion and delivers a glimmer of light between the darkness. The clean vocals are nicely flanked by melodic guitars and crafty drumming, creating a very regal and yet dreamy atmosphere, just imagine Alcest meets Fen. The band’s aggressive side comes at the listener in full force with the ravaging “Scafell's Blight” with its moody tempo changes and dreamy interludes.
Creating a truly unique and immersive sound, today we have Seattle’s Eye of Nix and their latest full-length opus “Ligeia”. Borrowing elements from every single band we know, this band crafts a very dense atmosphere that is flanked by Black Metal, Doom and even some Progressive onslaughts. Only for those that like to dissect music and listen to an album on repeat non-stop for a few weeks, this band rewards patience with unparalleled musical brilliance.
The album sets out with a very mellow progression as “Concealing Waters” slowly warms up the listener with crafty percussions and Joy Von Spain dreamy clean vocals. However, the pace quickly picks up with furious Black Metal onslaughts thrown into the mix. This interesting interplay of very aggressive passages with dreamy interludes gives the band a dynamic sound that keeps the listener always on the edge, as on brilliant tracks like: “Pursued” and the haunting “Tempest”.
As yet another killer release out of Finland’s underground, today we have Förgjord and their latest opus “Laulu kuolemasta”. Spewing over 45 minutes of raw and frosty Black Metal, this three-man battalion delivers both intensity and that old-school lo-fi sound that purists of the genre are always looking for. Released via Werewolf productions, this marks yet another stunning release from this label that offers a window to some of the most punishing and exciting bands in the genre.
The band’s full effect is instantly felt with the riveting “Laulu Murtuvan Niskan” and its punishing intensity. The band’s hyper fast and raw style reminds us of the early days of BM with bands like Fimbulwinter, Isvind and Tsjuder. Perfectly blending incisive guitar devilness with crafty tempo changes and an overall chaotic harshness, songs like “Ihtiriekko”, the mysterious “Surman Virta”, and the sinister “Kostonhetki”, have that old-school vibe and naivety that the genre has been missing for a while.
Fronted by the talented Jennifer Haben, today we have Germany’s latest Symphonic/Gothic Metal export Beyond the Black and their fourth full-length release “Hørizøns”. Slowly climbing the ranks of a very crowded genre(s), this German outfit is ready for the global spotlight with their dynamic and engaging music that falls more on the Metal side than most similar outfits. If you like catchy and hard rocking female fronted tunes, this is a band to keep on your radar.
The release does not waste any time in delivering soaring vocal arrangements, powerful guitar leads, and dramatic orchestrations on the title track opener. The band’s distinctively heavy sound is quite refreshing as most bands in this genre(r) are usually leaning towards more ‘consumer friendly’ sounds. “Misery” and “Wounded Healer” clearly showcase that the band means business with a high-octane pace and lush instrumentation. Being experts in crafting catchy melodies, tracks like “Some Kind of Monster” and “Golden Pariahs” have a certain (mid-career) Within Temptation meets Delain vibe.
As one of our favorite bands, and very hated by our friends, Eisregen is one of those bands that plays on their bizarre lyrics and funky music to deliver high-octane intensity filled songs with interesting arrangements and a good dose of melody. The band’s sound is quite an amalgamation of Gothic/Death/Black/Dark Metal, which is the core strength of “Leblos”, a very diverse and powerful double album. If you like weird music, this is certainly going to be of your liking.
Starting with the playful “Ruhet sanft”, the band leads with a Lacrimosa-meets-Bethlehem sound and a very engaging and unique opener. As “Pechschwarz” and “Erstschlag” roll by, we get the harsh intensity of the band with incisive guitars, devilish vocals and overall catchiness that the band has been cranking out for the past 10 years. Losing Dr. Franzenstein from their line-up a few years back has not slowed down the band’s funky synths and keyboards as tracks like “1000 Jahre Nacht”, “Wangenrot”, and the amazing title track heavily deliver on the atmospheric side.
From the ashes of Lifelover, today we have Kall and their very unique and somber mixture of Depressive Rock with Black Metal. With their sophomore release “Brand”, the band continues their exploration of obscure and depressive sounds while crafting six brilliant tracks that slowly uncover a very decadent and poignant style. For nearly one hour we are treated to some very chaotic and yet lush compositions of madness and despair, a journey you don’t want to miss out on.
The release starts with a certain Bluesy vibe as “Rise” slowly builds up to crafty guitars, a lively bass guitar line and hellish vocals. The combination has a very unique Katatonia-meets-90’s Bethlehem vibe that is both sinister and quite chilling. The band’s craftiness allows them to develop songs like “Fervour”, where the tempo slowly builds while the atmosphere chokes up the listener, particularly when the solemn saxophone comes into play.
Delivering a swift and brutal onslaught of raw-ish Black Metal, today we have Finland’s Flagg and their killer release “Nothing But Death”. Perfectly mixing old-school savagery with funky atmospherics, create a very Tartaros, (early) Emperor-esque mixture that is quite punishing and totally enjoyable. For over 32 minutes we were taken to the early days of the genre, when bands wanted to be super brutal but also started experimenting with atmosphere and melody.
The release quickly delivers a powerful blow with the piercing “Destroy, Desecrate” and its crushing bass guitar line, mixed in with funky synths and hellish vocals. The band’s blistering pace perfectly enacts violence while more melodic passages allow for some respite amongst the chaos, as heard on “Nothing but Death”. Opting for a more tempered and darker vibe, “Dark Clouds Gathering” fully unleashes the band’s hate thanks to its incisive guitars and sinister tempo.
Unleashing a barrage of punishing Black Metal anthems, today we have Quebec’s Sombre Héritage with “Alpha Ursae Minoris”. For those not paying attention, the Canadian Black Metal scene has been flourishing in the last few years and this outfit is yet another crushing band hailing from our neighbors in the North. Spanning 6 tracks and nearly 40 minutes of music, this release delivers relentless brutality and incisive precision.
Opening with the riveting “Polaris”, we get that 90’s BM vibe thanks to the punishing riffs and well-tempered drumming onslaughts. The song sets a very firm and crushing pace that is never relinquished throughout the rest of the album. “Sombre Héritage” rolls in with more of that magical intensity thanks to an early Emperor/Satyricon vibe paired with crafty tempo changes and eerie atmospheric arrangements to contrast the brutal and melodic sections.