Album Reviews

  • Kari Rueslåtten - Sørgekåpe (2020)

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    It is crazy to realize that we have been enchanted by Kari’s voice since the 3rd And the Mortal’s debut EP “Sorrow”, all the way back to 1993. While those days are long gone, it has been quite a journey to hear Kari jump to a solo-artist career and shake things up with a wide range of styles. “Sørgekåpe” marks her first all-Norwegian release since her solo debut in 1997. We all know that her music currently is far from Metal, but it is still a very lively Folk/Alternative Rock powered by her mesmerizing voice.

    The album starts with the title track and sets a nice Folky mood with lush acoustic guitars and a somber pace. Shifting the mood, “Svever” nicely delivers a very catchy and lively Alternative Rock tune with excellent vocal melodies and overall playful music. We particularly enjoy more the mellow tracks like “Månen lyser ned”, which have a very powerful mixture of Kari’s vocals and a deep bass guitar line. This is probably because they bring us memories from her earlier work, but nonetheless, they resonate better with us.

  • Paradise Lost - Obsidian (2020)

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    The legendary Paradise Lost returns with their recently found back-to-the-root sound with “Obsidian”. Featuring nearly one hour of superbly catchy music, we have to say that we are enjoying how the band has come full circle and incorporated some of their earlier elements (growls, heavy riffs) into their mid-career Gothic Rock/Metal foundations. If you have enjoyed the band’s previous two releases, this is more along those lines, so it should be quite a ride.

    Opening with “Darker Thoughts”, we get that vibe of “Draconian Times” meets “Gothic”, with some more modern Gothic rock elements. Being huge fans of Theatre of Tragedy during their “Aegis” era, and of Lacrimas Profundere during their “Burning: A Wish” times, the band’s sound in this release is very similar to those with the addition of some growls, as “Fall from Grace” and “Ghosts” are a perfect example of.

  • Sojourner - Premonitions (2020)

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    Delivering one of the most magical and atmospheric Black/Folk Metal releases of 2020, today we have Sojourner and their third full-length release “Premonitions”. Featuring over 55 minutes of masterfully crafted emotional music, this release explores tons of textures and tempos to create one very cohesive and lush aural journey. If you are into bands like Saor, Winterfylleth, etc. but always wanted a folkier and even Gothic/Doomy vibe infused with them, you are in luck with this release.

    The release leads off with the dramatic atmospherics of “The Monolith”, a track that delivers both aggressive guitars and lush atmospheric arrangements, perfectly led by the charming clean vocals of Chloe Bray and contrasted by the harsh screams of Emilio Crespo. The female vocals at points sound like Amy Lee, but they are enchanting in their own right as they perfectly capitulate the very elaborate atmospheric components the band lays down with their mixture of rich keyboards and additional elements like a Tin whistle.

  • Winterfylleth - The Reckoning Dawn (2020)

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    Returning in full form after their previous acoustic release, today we have Winterfylleth and the ferocious “The Reckoning Dawn”. Unleashing over 50 minutes of their signature Melodic/Epic Black Metal, the band continues to wow listeners with their perfectly balanced ravaging sound. With tons of bands trying to sound like this UK outfit, it is quite clear that Winterfylleth is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

    Opening with the lush “Misdeeds of Faith”, we get the band’s signature vocal melodies and punishing guitar onslaught. The band’s expansive sound is perfectly layered to deliver a striking balance between brutality and melody, as we can hear on “A Hostile Fate”, one of the most intense and powerful tracks of this release. For those wanting more of the acoustic guitars of their previous release, “Absolved in Fire” nicely warms up to this tone before exploding into crushing riffs and a very intense tempo.

  • Voices of Ruin - Path to Immortality (2020)

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    Melodic Death Metal is one of those genres that you either pull off brilliantly or end up sounding like a complete rip-off of somebody else. Luckily for us, Voices of Ruin manages to blend tons of familiar influences into a very cohesive and engaging sound that the band can call their own. Unleashing “Path to Immortality”, the band delivers nearly 50 minutes of superbly crafted music, perfectly balancing aggression, melody and skill.

    Opening with the very Insomnium-esque “Other Side”, the band quickly delivers the goods with the high-octane “Carved Out”. Featuring a blend of Amon Amarth and Omnium Gatherum, the band delivers crushing riffs and very melodic passages. The band’s lead guitarist proficiency is clearly showcased on the ridiculously crafty title track, with an insane solo by Tom Barrett. Both guitars lead the band’s musical efforts in brilliant tracks like “Suffering Silence” and “Reach Toward the Sky”, which have killer headbanging passages and hectic drums.

  • An Autumn for Crippled Children - All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet (2020)

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    Being one of the best Post-Black Metal/Blackgaze bands in the world, we were quite impressed and glad at the same time that An Autumn fo Crippled Children is now on a ‘bigger’ label like Prosthetic Records. With the potential to reach a broader set of audiences, “All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet” is one the band's most exciting releases to date. Featuring ten songs and nearly 40 minutes of captivating music filled with dreamy atmospherics and contrasting harsh vocals.

    The release starts with the lush “I Became You”, which sets a very melancholic backdrop to this release. The distinctive metallic textured guitars nicely weave back and forth Post-Rocky interludes and tempo changes as we can hear in “Water’s Edge” and “Everlasting”. While you can recognize some Alcest-like and Deafheaven-esque elements in the band’s sound, they have been refining their signature style through their eight full-length releases.

  • Slagmark - Purging Sacred Soils (2020)

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    Unleashing a hellish debut release, today we have Germany’s Slagmark with “Purging Sacred Soils”. With a relentless Black Metal approach and featuring members of Sarkrista and Totenwache, this debut release is one of the most mature and devastating we have heard in 2020. For fans and purists of the old Black Metal flame, this release delivers over 30 minutes of ravaging brutality and intensity, not to be missed in any connoisseur's collection.

    After setting an evil atmospheric opening with “Hexenhammer”, “Feeding the Urge to Destroy” pummels the listener with waves of harshness. The vocals are as hellish and punishing as they can get, while the musical structure is raw and direct, bringing out the hate and viciousness in the band’s musical approach. Not wasting any time, the album title track delivers a more tempered opening that transitions into all-out-war with the intense drumming and relentless guitar riffing.

  • Bombs of Hades - Phantom Bell (2020)

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    Led by Jonas Stålhammar of At the Gates fame, today we have Bombs of Hades and their short-but-sweet EP “Phantom Bell”. Released as a teaser before the band records their next full-length release, the listener is treated to four tracks, two of them covers, and 16 minutes of music. With a Crusty Death Metal sound, this album is a nice warm-up but it feels a bit too short, as we are always caught off-guard when the next release one our playlists sneaks up on us.

    Opening with the title track, we get a furious guitar onslaught that quickly escalates with fast drumming and a moshing vibe. The guitar leads in this song give us a certain retro/crusty edge that we don’t typically find in our playlist. “Bridge of Sighs” is more settled as the crunchy guitars lead way to a very catchy vibe. The climax portion of this track is very impressive and nicely developed, firing up guitar solos and atmospheric elements.

  • Katatonia - City Burials (2020)

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    After taking a brief hiatus a few years ago, Katatonia has returned with their signature melancholic Progressive/Alternative Rock and Metal mix with “City Burials”. As one of their most accessible and darker releases in recent years, this album delivers eleven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of highly emotional music with the band’s signature sound. If you are into the mellower side of things, this release is the perfect backdrop for a quiet evening of quarantine.

    The release opens with the moody vibes of “Heart Set to Divide” and “Behind the Blood”, both tracks nicely frame Jonas Renkse emotive vocals with nice atmospherics and heavy guitars. More experimental elements are used on songs like “Lacque” and “Vanishers”, which show an interesting electronic undertone, similar to what Anathema tried on their last release. Other tracks just deliver the oozing melancholy achieved by lush vocal melodies and weeping guitars like “Rein”.

  • Turmion Kätilöt - Global Warming (2020)

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    It still baffles us that such an awesome band like Turmion Kätilöt is not known as much outside of Finland. We stumbled on this band attending a pre-Tuska 2008 show at the legendary Tavastia Nightclub and have been fans ever since, hell, our alarm clock wake up song is the awesome “U.S.C.H!”. Fanboying aside, “Global Warming” marks the band’s first release through Nuclear Blast records and delivers 13 extremely catchy and aggressive Industrial Metal songs. If you are a fan of Pain, then this band will blow you away.

    The ride begins with the futuristic atmospherics of “Naitu”, a song that slowly evolved into an Industrial cyber-goth wet dream. With all lyrics in Finnish, lead vocalist MC Raaka Pee unleashes his harsh vocals alongside Shag-U’s back up to create a very chaotic vibe as the electronic beats and guitars provide unrivaled catchiness. All synths and programming is done by Janne Tolsa, which some might know from his excellent work in bands like Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Tarot, his creativity provides the listener with the funkiness behind brilliant tracks like “Kyntövuohi”, “Viha Ja Rakkaus”, and one of our favorites “Turvasana”.

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