Originally a side project of Ed Guy’s mastermind Tobias Sammet, Avantasia has grown to be a full-fledged act which features tons of guest appearances and very engaging and cinematic musical experiences. In the vein of artists like Ayreon and the Trans Siberian Orchestra, this band delivers some of the most lush and intricate releases filled with interesting topics and colorful characters. With “Moonglow”, the band unleashes on hell of a release with over 70 minutes of music.
The experience begins with the lush and dramatic “Ghosts in the Moon”, a track that nicely sets a very grandiose mood. Filled with catchy vocal melodies and superb instrumentation, this track leads way to a very lively and emotional rollercoaster ride. The second track quickly rolls down the red carpet with killer vocal contributions from Ronnie Atkins, Jørn Lande, Hansi Kürsch and Mille Petrozza, making it one the the most bombastic and engaging songs of the release.
Delivering the first truly pummeling Black Metal sonic abuse of 2019, today we have Barshasketh and their self-titled fourth full-length release. Featuring over 53 minutes of blistering BM, this band is set to conquer the scene with the relentless music filled with oppression and destruction. Out on World Terror Committee, this band’s release has the seal of approval of a label that always releases high quality BM albums.
Instantly abusing the listener with their incisive riffs, “Vacillation” sets a very intense mood to start the album. The band’s sinister music is crafted to perfection, playing around with slower tempos to create a very cavernous atmosphere, like on the crushing “Resolve”. In the two parts of the track “Consciousness”, the band nicely crafts a very powerful atmosphere with intricate riffing and a pulsating bass guitar line that will make your speakers rumble.
Unleashing one of the most disarming releases of 2019, today we have Germany’s A Secret Revealed and their devastating blend of Post-Metal. As the band’s sophomore release, “Sacrifices” is one hell of an emotional rollercoaster with eight complex compositions that will transport you to some very bleak and desolate soundscapes. LifeForce records has great taste in music, and this band is no exception to their expertly curated roster of artists.
The onslaught begins with the tense and mysterious “Grieved”, a track that starts very dreamy in a certain Post-Rock/Shoegazey way and transforms into a crushing piece filled with piercing vocals and monstrous riffs. With a Black Metal-esque edge to it, “The Isolation” reminds us of German bands like Sun Worship and Der Weg einer Freiheit, thanks to its ferocity and tempo. One of our favorite tracks is the very dynamic “Ashes”, which slowly builds up momentum is a very commanding way.
As one of the most unique up and coming bands, today we have Ukraine’s Jiner and their latest EP: “Micro”. Mixing up elements of Groove Metal, Progressive Metal, Nu Metal and even some Hardcore/Rapcore elements, this band turns heads with their intense style and charismatic front woman: Tatiana Shmailyuk. Featuring five tracks, this EP should stir up some more momentum for the band as they tour Europe with Amorphis and Soilwork this year.
Wasting no time, “Ape”kicks things off with crafty tempo changes and intricate guitar work to set a vibrant and aggressive move immediately. Things get a bit more melancholic with the groveness of “Dreadful Moments”, which features some Meshuggah-like chops and brilliant hellish hash vocal onslaughts. The riffing power of “Teacher, Teacher!” when contrasted with the rap-like vocals make up for a very odd and yet intoxicating track.
It is not everyday that you receive a release from a band hailing from Iran. With our curiosity peaked, Eternal Candle’s debut full-length “The Carved Karma”, is one hell of a Progressive Death/Doom Metal release. Combining elements from old-school Death Metal, Doom Metal all perfectly paired with a Progressive edge, this release delivers almost one full hour of masterful music. For fans of old Opeth, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, this release will certainly resonate with you.
Immediately after the dreamy instrumental opener, the band gets down to business with the sheer power of “The Ripped Soul”. Reminding us of Amorphis on their “Privilege of Evil” days, this track is heavy and pummeling, thanks to its powerful riffs and old-school vibe. Things quickly move into more Progressive / Katatonia-esque territories with the intricate “Sick Romance”, and even further into old-school Death/Doom influences with “A Path to Infinity”.
Ever since ‘bumping’ into their set at ProgPower USA in 2018, we have been quite taken by Soen and their mixture of Progressive Rock/Metal music. With “Lotus”, the band opens up 2019 with a captivating release filled with crafty melodies and soaring vocal arrangements. If you like proggy/dreamy music, this is definitely the band for you.
Opening the release, “Opponent” sets a very playful and yet somber tone. Intricate guitar melodies perfectly intertwined with a pulsating bass guitar line and tight drumming. As “Lascivious” and “Martyrs” roll, we are intoxicated with the versatile vocals of Joel Ekelöf and how they are perfectly complemented by crafty percussions and very subtle keyboards. The band’s ability to craft unique songs with a proggy foundation and a very dramatic mood is exactly what makes them stand out from the rest.
As the first review of 2019, we are quite glad that it is Soilwork’s latest opus “Verkligheten”. Featuring a more melodic and catchy edge, this release continues the band’s musical progression into more engaging and innovative territories. Picking up where they left us with “The Ride Majestic”, the band delivers heaps of superbly catchy chorus sections, expertly crafted vocal melodies and lush instrumental arrangements that will have you hitting the repeat button more than a few hundred times on this release.
Immediately after setting the mood with the mysterious album title track, the band hits the gas with a furious combination of blistering drumming and a harsh vocals. This opener is definitely quite heavy and very fitting as the song transforms back and forth between harsh and brutal to more melodic thanks to Björn Strid soaring clean vocals. After catching the listener by surprise with the intensity of the previous song, the band keeps things hectic with the hard rocking riffing of “Bleeder Despoiler”. This track provides an interesting combination of some Heavy Metal-esque influences mixed together with the band’s brand of Melodic Extreme Metal they have refined over the years.
Going completely ‘off the reservation’, today we have Svoid and their very strange and yet interestingly addictive EP “Spiral Dance”. Not showing any of their Black Metal influences, this release is a very weird experimental EP that explores the band’s more theatrical side with a few Post-Punk sprinkles thrown into the mix. Certainly this release is a very true to form album from Sun & Moon Records.
The weirdness begins with the bizarre indie-anthem “Stand in Awe”, an interesting track that has some Post-Punk elements, but in general feels more like an NPR kind of song. Considering this release a complete outside the box release, we can certainly enjoy catchy tracks like the epic “The Very Hours” and its melancholic vibe. It even has a quasi-Depeche Mode vibe that caught our attention and we found ourselves playing this song quite a few times.
Unleashing a crushing amalgamation of distorted guitars and powerful atmospheres, today we have France’s Dirge and their latest opus “Lost Empyrean”. Bordering in many genres like Slude, Doom, Post-Metal, this French outfit delivers a captivating release that is quite dense and engaging. For over 56 minutes and seven tracks, we are taken through dismal soundscapes that feel quite oppressive and showcase the band’s fresh and unique sound.
Opening with pummeling distorted guitars on “Wingless Multitudes”, the band’s wall of sound slowly builds up as the guitar layers pile up and craft a tense mood. Weaving back and forth between Amenra-esque moments and more traditional Doom passages, this track brilliantly blends into the next” “Hosea 8:7”. Masterfully maintaining the tension and overall ambiance, the mixture of clean and harsh vocals provides a nice layer to an already intricate mixture of sounds.
Hailing from Canada, today we have Progressive/Technical Death Metal outfit Beyond Creation and their refreshing third full-length release “Algorythm”. While some bands focus on playing faster and more complex just for the sake of it, this band focuses on crafting unique songs which perfectly blend in the technical aspect with the brutality and melody of their sound. Clocking in at over 50 minutes in this, this is one album that fans of outfits like Obscura, Hour of Penance, etc., cannot miss.
After setting a very futuristic mood with the opener “Disenthrall”, the band jumps head first with the blistering speed of “Entre suffrage et mirage”. Featuring a playful bass guitar line and killer guitar leads, this song quickly reminds us of Obscura, but with a slighter more progressive and melodic edge. With a dreamy tone, “Surface's Echoes”, showcases the band’s versatility and focus on crafting interesting melodies rather than just pummeling through notes. Do not get us wrong, this track does feature some killer musical acrobatics and tempo changes, but they feel a lot more organic than with other bands.