Just when you think you have a band figured out, they pull a 180 degree turn and unleash a very unique and different release. In this case, Fen is the band in question and the release is “Monument to Absence”. Diverging a bit from their usual dreamy and mellow style into a more ravaging Atmospheric Black Metal style, this release unleashes nearly 70 minutes of high-octane music with a proggier and very aggressive music.
Opening with a bang with “Scouring Ignorance”, the band quickly sets an intense pace with fierce riffing and blistering drumming. If you didn’t know this song was from Fen, you would think it is from a more ‘traditional’ Black Metal outfit. It is not until the more melodic passages are brought forth that you can hear the band’s DNA in this song. The album title track craftily brings the more desolate and melancholic passages the band is known for, creating a very immersive atmosphere.
Hailing from Norway, today we have Eternity and their latest outburst of brutality titled “Mundicide”. With tons of Black Metal bands coming out of this country, it is easy to have a few fly under the radar, and what a mistake has been in this case. The band creates a very punishing and cohesive older school BM style with some modern shine, making the 43 minutes of music in this release quite vicious and well crafted. If you are looking to add another stellar Norwegian BM outfit to your playlist, Eternity is the one you have been waiting for.
Opening with the title track, the band immediately creates a splash with ravaging and superbly catchy guitars alongside Johannes Andersson’s characteristic snarl and thumping bass guitar lines. Quickly creating that heavy and yet melodic bombastic vibe, the band’s firing on all cylinders as things get catchier and darker with the playful “Axis Mundi”.
Setting a mysterious and yet engaging modern vibe with the opener “The Dawn”, the band really sets back into their heavy and yet very melodic ways with “Destroyer”. As always, Tuomas and Juho Räihä are experts in creating catchy and engaging guitar driven melodies. However, the clean vocals are just not really ideal. Don’t get us wrong Paavo Laapotti is a good singer, but not the Before the Dawn singer we expected. I know we are a bit biased as we are huge Eikind fans, but always have an open mind. We like Finnish mopey vocals, like Mikko Heikkilä and Tuomas Tuominen, but these just don’t do it for us.That being said, we'll just focus the rest of the review on the music and harsh vocals.
It has been a long four years since mysterious entity NONE unleashed their last release “Damp Chill of Life”. With a very piercing and demoralizing sound, this North American outfit delivers some of the most nihilistic aural experiences you will ever encounter. With “Inevitable”, the band keeps the pain going with 56 minutes of soul crushing music. For any fan of Atmospheric Black Metal, this is exactly what dreams are made from.
Opening with the somber “Never Came Home”, momentum is slowly built with clean guitars and atmospherics just before the wall of distortion sets it. The interplay of whispers as the harsh screams come in showcases the band’s brilliance when it comes to shift momentum and create devastating transition. Eerie pieces like “Alone, Where I Can See” and “A Reason to Be”, further push the band’s ability to deliver melancholy amongst aggressive onslaughts to completely new heights.
Highly melancholic and expertly crafted, “In Finitude” was the bands excellent 2021 debut and with “Impending Waves” they show this was no fluke. Composed of musicians from Chile, but residing elsewhere, the band’s music has a certain Mar de Grises edge but with their own shroud of melancholy and despair. If you are looking for a truly engaging and melodic dose of bleakness, this release is right up your alley.
Opening quickly with the lush “Dreamside Death”, the band quickly sets a very mellow and yet expertly crafted mood with lush layered guitars and highly emotional vocals. The mixture of proggy and doomy riffs and tempo changes makes for very unique and engaging pieces like “Tearing Seas”, “The Dreamer” and the more dynamic “Skies”. The way the band layers their guitars alongside dreamy atmospherics is excellent, creating a very intoxicating style and sound.
Hailing from Russia, Akrona has been one of the most consistent and intense Pagan Metal bands in the last few years. Thanks to their front-woman Masha Arkhipova intense live performances and a cohesive musical core, the band has gained worldwide acclaim. With “Kob'” the band takes a darker and more sinister tone with their music and we love it! Clocking in at 60 minutes, this release certainly broadens the band’s musical horizons while delivering some of their signature intensity.
Opening with the highly atmospheric “Izrechenie. Nachalo”, the album sets a very somber and hypnotic vibe. On the album title track we are eased into some sinister Black Metal riffs that quickly transform into Buzrum-esque (‘Filosofem’ era) passages. The mood is definitely more restrained at moments, showcasing the band’s ability to craft atmospheric and more tempered passages while still crafting intense tracks like “Ydi”, “Ugasaya”, and “Mor”.
Finally! After ten years of waiting, Saturnus returns with another full-length release titled “The Storm Within”. Being a fan of the band has meant waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more between releases, but now that the time has come: the band delivers with this one. Oozing soul crushing melancholy, this release features nearly 60 minutes of crushing Doom, just what we expected from this band.
Opening with the album title track, the release slowly picks up as Thomas and his deep growls come front and center. With two new guitarists: Indee Rehal-Sagoo (lead) and Julio Fernandez (rhythm), the band’s sound is slightly different, with more ‘upbeat’ songs that border more in the melodic Death Metal realm, like “Breathe New Life”. However, the punishing and slow magic of their previous releases is also present in demoralizing pieces like “Chasing Ghosts” and “The Calling”.
After all the new releases and surprise returns from many of our favorite bands, Tenhi was the one we least expected. Marking their first release in nearly 12 years, after the excellent “Saivo”, the band returns with “Valkama”. Featuring 12 tracks and 70 minutes of solemn and enigmatic music, it is like the band never left as the melancholy and mysterious beauty of this release oozes through your speakers. Needing no introduction, if you are into Dark Folk/Neo-folk music, and never heard of Tenhi, you are missing out.
The release kicks off with the gentle and immersive “Saattue”, the band always crafts dark and powerful atmospheres with very minimal instrumentation and this track is a clear example of this. Fully enveloping the listener in the band’s world, “Valkama”, “Kesävihanta”, and “Rannankukka”, are tracks that mix lush acoustic guitars with hypnotic Finnish-only vocal arrangements and very subtle atmospheric arrangements.
The highly underrated Graveworm is finally back after eight years since their last release and with “Killing Innocence” they are making up for lost time. With a very unique mixture of Melodic Death/Black/Gothic Metal, this band has released some pretty epic albums over the years and they now unravel ten tracks and around 50 minutes of highly engaging music. Hailing from Italy, this band has a very unique sound and a knack for highly melodic songs, as this release is a testament to.
Opening with “Escorting the Soul”, we get a sinister and engaging atmospheric introduction that slowly transforms into pummeling drumming and crafty riffing. Having a certain Hypocrisy-esque vibe from their “The Fourth Dimension” period, “We are the Resistance” is an excellent track with excellent guitars and tempo, creating a very mysterious and yet highly melodic piece. The band’s sound has a retro-sounding component to it, drawing older listeners like ourselves into their style.
As one of the most fun and over the top Symphonic Power Metal, Gloryhammer is finally back with the highly entertaining and equally solid release “Return to The Kingdom of Fife”. This release has plenty of lol’s alongside very well crafted and executed songs that will appeal to fans of bands like Sabaton and Powerwolf, but with a less serious and more playful edge.
Setting a regal mood with the album intro, the listener is quickly treated to the playfulness of the keyboards of “Holy Flaming Hammer of Unholy Cosmic Frost”. The only newcomer in the band is Sozos Michael is a very talented vocalist, as we can hear in songs like the epic “Imperium Dundaxia” or the playful “Wasteland Warrior Hoots Patrol”.