Album Reviews

  • …and Oceans - As in Gardens, So in Tombs (2023)


    We are extremely glad that the band that got us into Symphonic Black Metal in the 90’s is back in full form and has stayed away from their weird Techno/Industrial phase. …and Oceans delivered two brilliant releases in the late 90’s, then dropped two super weird and ahead of their time releases only to mostly disappear for almost a decade. With “As in Gardens, So in Tombs” the band showcases a lush and evolved sound filled with epic melodies and crafty atmospherics.

    Opening with the album title track, the band’s retro approach to the genre perfectly balances furious guitar work over playful keyboards. While most bands these days make the keyboards overbearing, this Finnish outfit uses them to complement their core sound as they never feel over the top. Tracks like “The Collector and His Construct”, “Within Fire and Crystal”, and “Carried on Lead Wings” have that old Tartaros and Limbonic Art vibe adorned with ‘new’ vocalist Mathias Lillmåns of Finntroll harsh scream onslaughts.

  • Inherits the Void - The Impending Fall of the Stars (2023)


    Unleashing waves of old-school Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal, today we have one-man battalion Inherits the Void and and ‘their’ sophomore full-length release “The Impending Fall of the Stars”. Mixing elements from the early days of bands like Old Man’s Child and Dimmu Borgir, with the raw melody of Immortal, this release delivers 43 minutes of intense music.

    Opening with the album title track, we instantly get waves of crushing riffs, a la Galder style, perfectly adorned with subtle but lush keyboards and hellish screams. The immediate vibe is quite retro, but with crisp production values. As “Palingenesis”, “Where the Oceans Lost their Might” and “Sullen Laments of the Wanderers” roll by, the listener will find itself headbanging to the expertly crafted melodic core of the band’s sound.

  • Imperium Dekadenz - Into Sorrow Evermore (2023)


    With all the killer reviews coming out in January, we almost missed “Into Sorrow Evermore”, the epic seventh full-length release of Germany’s Imperium Dekadenz. Featuring around 50 minutes of melodic and highly atmospheric Black Metal, this release feels like a mixture of Vreid with Der Weg einer Freiheit. If you like atmospheric stuff, this is probably one of the best in quite a while.

    Opening with the engaging “Into Sorrow Evermore”, the band nicely sets a moody vibe as the wave of blistering guitar riffs and furious drumming sets in. We like this tempered approach as the band’s sound slowly expands and envelops the room very effectively. The headbanging continues with the crushing “Truth under Stars” and it nicely mellows out with the solemn opening of “Aurora”.

  • A Diadem of Dead Stars - Emerald Sunsets (2023)


    Unleashing a very interesting compilation of some of their earlier digital material, today we have A Diadem of Dead Stars with “Emerald Sunsets”. Hailing from Greece, this band has a very unique and at times gritty sound that perfectly blends influences from bands like early Ulver, Empyrium, and more modern Atmospheric Black Metal elements from outfits like Heretoir and Saor.

    Opening with the blistering “The Furrow of Woes”, we quickly get aggressive BM guitar riffs and a moody tempo. This track nicely evolves into some eerily magical (early) Ulver-esque passages of clean vocals and powerful guitars. There is a certain Doom-ish magic to the band’s sound that nicely keeps things interesting and different, as we can hear in songs like “And Swallows Flew Away From This”.

  • Katatonia - Sky Void of Stars (2023)


    This 2023 is starting with a bang with tons of new releases from well established bands, luckily for us, Katatonia was also one of them. Being huge fans of the band, “Sky Void of Stars” is just your typical excellent release, filled with crafty vocal arrangements and sorrowful melodies. Featuring ten tracks and 45 minutes of magic, this release will please any fan of the band’s more modern Alternative Rock/Metal side.

    Opening with the epic “Austerity”, Jonas Renkse belts out his signature vocal melodies alongside crafty guitar work from Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson. The band’s moody tunes like “Colossal Shade”, “Opaline”, and “Birds” are filled with excellent melodic passages alongside well-timed tempo changes and brilliant drumming. The band is a well-oiled machine when it comes to perfectly mixing melancholy with heavy guitars and catchiness.

  • Moonlight Sorcery - Nightwind: The Conqueror From the Stars (2023)


    Some releases are just too awesome to have a digital only release, and thanks to Avantgarde Music, today we have Moonlight Sorcery’s latest EP “Nightwind: The Conqueror From the Stars” available in different physical formats. Featuring a very interesting mix of old-school Black Metal with a heavy Melodic edge, this band perfectly captures that 2000’s vibe when the genre was pumping out excellent releases.

    Hailing from Finland, this outfit quickly sets a hectic tempo with the magical “Ancient Sword Of Hate” and its uncompromising melodic riffing. Filled with furious lead guitars and blistering drumming, this track is quite punishing and yet highly engaging. With a thrashier edge, “Yötuulten Kutsu” has a certain early Children of Bodom-meets-Alghazanth vibe and we totally love it. Definitely one of the best tracks in this release.

  • Twilight Force - At The Heart of Wintervale (2023)


    There are just some days when you just want to hear an album filled with over-the-top technical wizardry, lush vocal arrangements, and an overall superbly up-beat vibe. Luckily for us, Twilight Force delivers just that, and plenty more, with the epic “At The Hearth of Wintervale”. We have a soft spot for extremely bombastic Symphonic Power Metal, and this album unleashes over 64 minutes of magical music in this regard.

    Opening with the lush “Twilight Force” track, we instantly get rewarded with blistering guitar solos, crafty tempo changes, and very dramatic vocal arrangements. Vocalist Allyon, aka Alessandro Conti, shines through this release, but in particular in epic songs like “At the Heart of Wintervale”, filled with soaring vocal passages. We particularly love that epic vibe that bands like Stratovarius, Rhapsody, and similar outfits craft, but with Twilight Force, this effort is poured into every single track, particularly heavy hitters like “Dragonborn”, and the cinematic 10-minute epic “Highlands of the Elder Dragon”.

  • Hate Forest - Innermost (2022)


    After being broken up for 15 years or so, Hate Forest returned with a punishing release in 2020, and before we even knew it, they dropped “Innermost” this past December. Featuring six tracks and around 35 minutes of punishing Black Metal, this release keeps the band’s mythos alive and well by unleashing their signature demoralizing style. If you are a fan of the band, and/or bleak and ravaging BM, you can’t miss out on this release.

    The release quickly goes for the throat with “Those Who Howl Inside the Snowstorm”, a blistering piece of traditional Black Metal in the vein of Immortal, with piercing tremolo picking and crushing drumming. The album’s savagery level is quickly showcased as pieces like “By Full Moon's Light Alone the Steppe Throne Can Be Seen” and “Ice-Cold Bloodless Veins” provide no respite except for the occasional atmospheric interludes. Hate Forest has always been characterized for their relentless brutality and this is front and center on this release.

  • Ahab - The Coral Tombs (2023)


    As the perfect companion for a gloomy and cold winter day, today we have Germany’s Ahab returning after eight years since their last full-length release with the crushing “The Coral Tombs”. As the pioneers of ‘Nautik Doom’, this band makes misery inducing music that only a handful of bands can rival (Skepticism, Shape of Despair, etc.). Featuring seven tracks and nearly 67 minutes of soul-crushing music, this is one of the finest Doom releases we have ever heard.

    The release opens with the oppressive “Prof. Arronax' Descent into the Vast Oceans”, with a very aggressive opening that slowly transitions into clean vocals and total bleakness. We particularly like how the band blends in Epic Doom (or traditional Doom) elements with heavier and more punishing Death/Funeral Doom parts. The track “Colossus of the Liquid Graves” nicely creates a somewhat funky atmosphere that is brilliantly flanked by deep growls, oppressive riffs, alongside crafty tempo changes.


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