Today we are almost closing 2019 with some ritualistic Black Metal from Greece, under the moniker of Haxandraok. With “KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA” this duo delivers a highly ritualistic crushing example of punishing and yet eerily atmospheric BM. With a certain Melechesh, Nile and even Orphaned Land vibe, this release delivers over 30 minutes of engaging music that will keep the listener on a heightened state of awareness.
Opening the release with lush middle-eastern arrangements, “The Temptress of UD DA KAR RA” slowly proceeds to unleash waves of piercing riffs and creepy clean vocals. The band’s sheer power is made quite evident with the level of intensity of this track, but the crafty tempo changes are what makes the song stand out. Crafting an ambiance of decay, “Ba'al Zel Bul at the Gates of NOX” continues spewing the band’s ritualistic message with more creepy vocal arrangements, intense drumming and crafty guitar leads.
As the days get shorter and the dark nights get longer (in the Northern Hemisphere), Officium Triste arrives with perfect timing and their bleakness inducing full-length release “The Death of Gaia”. Unleashing over 55-minutes of devastating Death/Doom Metal, we are reminded that this Dutch outfit is by far one of the best at their craft.
Opening with the misery inducing dramatic arrangements of “The End is Nigh”, the band sets a very dark and funeral-esque vibe that features some slight glimmers of hope. The interplay of Pim Blankenstein crushing growls, the incisive guitar riffs and the melodramatic keyboards creates a superb atmosphere that sets the mood for a very somber release. With some crafty percussions and melancholic headbanging passages, “World In Flames” continues that oppressive atmosphere with a plethora of weeping guitar leads and crafty tempo changes.
Unleashing elevent anthems of Horror Punk fare, today we have Sweden’s Death Wolf and their latest opus “IV: Come the Dark”. Featuring Morgan Håkansson of Marduk fame on bass guitar, this outfit delivers superbly catchy and yet creepy songs that are both memorable and highly entertaining. While The Vision Bleak comes to mind as a comparison, this band features a more barebones and direct sound that will pummel your eardrums.
The ripping guitars of “He Who Hates” perfectly set the mood for a high-octane release filled with catchines and intensity. Valentin Mellströ’s vocals are perfectly suited to lead a barrage of punishing guitars and intense bass guitar lines, thanks to the crystal clear production the vocals are very prevalent. With playful tempo changes and hefty atmospherics, the band pummels through tracks like “Edge of the Wood”, “Empower the Flame” and the headbanging fest “The Sword”, a song that sets a very epic vibe from the first note.
If you can imagine what Kayo Dot, Maudlin of the Well, Ephel Duath and Subterranean Masquerade would sound all blended together, then you would get close to just how expansive In Human Form sounds. Unleashing their three-songs, 49 minute opus “III”, this band pushes all boundaries into completely new dimensions and creates some of the most unique sounding Metal we have ever heard.
The release opens with the 18-minute tour de force “Apocrypha Carrion”, where the band starts off with furious guitar riffs and a very intense pace. The screamed vocals are quite hectic and very fitting for such chaotic music, but what really draws the listener is the funky subtle tempo changes mixed in with some more drastic near full-stop switches. We particularly enjoy the jazzy elements that transition the song’s multiple movements from chaos, to lush beauty and down the rabbit hole again.
Hailing from Quebec, Canada, today we have Black Metal newcomer Trépas and their debut release “L'héritage du monde”. Delivering nearly 40 minutes of relentless frosty Black Metal, this outfit unleashes quite a solid initial effort. For those fans that like a good dose of melody mixed into their BM, the six tracks unleashed in this release will satisfy your cravings.
The band blasts away with the pummeling “Rivages Sombres”, a very punishing and engaging opening track. Perfectly balancing melodic guitars, blistering drums and harrowing harsh vocals, Trépas makes a very solid first impression. The sinister opening of “L'Aube”remind us of old-school Ancient and that melodic riffing with furious drumming from 90’s BM. The level of intensity in this track is perfect for a furious headbanging session, from start to end.
Just when you think that 2019 can’t get any better in terms of Black Metal release, Polish Arkona decides to drop their triumphant release “Age of Capricorn”. Delivering one of the most savage and yet melodic and refined BM releases of the last decade, we are treated to over 46 minutes of vicious music. If you are a fan of the genre that wants both relentless aggression and high-octane atmospherics, this is the best album you can get in 2019.
After a creepy intro with some eerie samples, “Stella Inferno” quickly unleashes grim riffs and bestial drums. This track is both atmospheric and in your face, blowing past your eardrums and rattling your brain as Khorzon and company spew their madness. The playful synths perfectly combine with the blistering pace of the demonical “Alone Among Wolves”. As if the BM aural assault wasn’t enough, some super creepy wolf samples add and insane amount of depth and vigor to this track.
Unleashing one of the most monolithic Atmospheric Death/Doom releases of 2019, today we have Portugal’s OAK with “Lone”. Featuring four tracks and around 50 minutes of soul crushing music, this release highly recommended for fans of bands like Mournful Congregation, Shape of Despair and Ahab. Piercing through the listener’s psyche, this album is heavy and punishing, unlike anything else you will hear this year.
Slowly building up momentum with the gargantuan opening track “Sculptures”, this duo craft a very punishing atmosphere thanks to massive slow riffs and crushing growls. With a very mellow pace, this track crafts a mysterious cavernous atmosphere as the guitars unleash minimalist notes of desperation. Expertly crafting desolate passages, “Mirror” continues the funeral procession with more crushing guitar riffs and crafty drum patterns. The tracks’ catharsis is well earned and after a while of atmospherics the listener is treated to some truly haunting growling passages.
With many Melodic Death Metal bands getting a bit too melancholic for our taste, today we stumbled upon Germany’s Horrizon and their third full-length release “World of Pain”. Unleashing 11 tracks and nearly 50 minutes of old-school Melodic DM reminding us of the early days of Dark Tranquility and Be'lakor. As one of the most recommended releases for catchy riffing enthusiasts, this album has plenty of epic headbanging passages and a few surprises.
The band wastes no time in asserting their dominance with the superbly executed “Once In A While”, a track filled with crushing vocals and super melodic guitars. As the riffing onslaught continues with tracks like “Sentenced to Death”, the band changes up the pace with the more melancholic “Where Am I?”, nicely showcasing more dramatic atmospheric arrangements and guitar leads. However, the mellowness does not take over the release as the album title track and “Haunted By the Past” get back into the furious pace of tight drums, crafty riffs and brilliant tempo changes.
Symphonic Black Metal is one of those genres that if done incorrectly, can come off as gaudy and laughable. Luckily for us, Helleborus manages to deliver one of the most dense and engaging entries to the genre in quite a while. With “Saprophytic Divinations” this North American outfit unleashes an untamable beast in the shape of nine crushing tracks. Definitely targeted to Black Metal fans of bands like Nightbringer that have a small sweet spot for cavernous symphonic arrangements, this release will transport you to a hellish trip like no other.
Setting a haunting atmosphere with the dramatic opening to “Celestial Grave”, the band marches forward with punishing vocals and pummeling drumming. This level of intensity mixed in with melody is somewhat similar to Old Man’s Child last releases. As “Alraun Ghost” and “Devil’s Garden” unleash their poison, we are treated to intense guitar riffs, relentless vocals and a very dense atmosphere thanks to the dramatic symphonic arrangements. Perfectly balanced in the mix, all elements shine alike, creating a very intense and poignant aural abuse.
Now on a bigger label and with an organically evolved sound, today we have Fen’s debut release on Prophecy Productions titles “The Dead Light”. Featuring nearly an hour of dreamy Atmospheric Black Metal, the band continues to evolve with more proggy influences added to their already very distinctive aural identity. If you liked anything that the band has put out before, this release will surely propel the to higher levels thanks to its craftsmanship and atmospheric brilliance.
Opening with “Witness”, the listener is instantly immersed in the band’s world with subtle guitars and a very moody intro passage. As the track slowly picks up, we can feel a bit of a Lantlôs vibe created by the cascading guitars and somber clean vocals. As the two parts of the album title track come along, we get to hear a proggier side of the band with sweeping crafty passages that mix faster paced sections and crafty tempo changes. These two tracks have a certain vibe that can be compared to a version of Opeth playing Atmospheric Black Metal.