Album Reviews

  • Aborted - Vault of Horrors (2024)


    With almost 30 years of existence, Sven de Caluwé’s Aborted is one of those quintessential Death Metal bands that while it has kept their sound fresh, it also delivers chugging tracks that will leave your neck sore from all the headbanging. With “Vault of Horrors” the band plays homage to horror movie classics in a well crafted manner. Clocking in at 40-minutes, this release delivers ten tracks of sheer brutality that any fan of the genre will enjoy.

    Opening strong with the intricate drumming/riffs combo of “Dreadbringer”, the album sets a very high-octane tone and never really lets go. The band enlisted one guest vocalist per track, giving Sven’s vocals that extra kick and allowing their sound to have a more diverse range, as tracks like “Condemned to Rot”, “Brotherhood of Sleep”, “Hellbound”, and “Death Cult”.

  • Merrimack - Of Grace and Gravity (2024)


    Unleashing one of the finest Black Metal releases of the last few years, today we have Parisian outfit Merrimack and their crushing return “Of Grace and Gravity”. As their first album in seven years, the band returns with thirst for vengeance and delivers over 40 minutes of excruciatingly brutal music that any fan of the genre will go nuts for. If you like incisive and punishing music with a perfect balance of atmosphere and swift brutality, this is the release for you.

    The release kicks off with a bang with the demolishing “Sulphurean Synods”, a track that blasts off with ravaging guitars, pummeling drums, and hellish vocals. There is certain rawness to the band’s approach that is quite savage and direct. With the intensity of “Sublunar Despondency”, the band has that viciousness of 90’s Norwegian Black Metal, giving a certain Satyricon edge that works wonderfully within the band’s aggressive style.

  • Sonata Arctica - Clear Cold Beyond (2024)


    Over the years, Sonata Arctica continues to defy time by keeping their sound engaging and fresh. With “Clear Cold Beyond”, the band delivers their signature high-octane Power Metal with ten tracks and nearly one hour of superbly catchy music. Delivering a mixture of playfulness and masterful musical execution, this release is certainly a fun one from this Finnish outfit.

    The album kicks off with the lively “First in Line” and its playful keyboards perfectly paired with Tony’s staple vocals and a very upbeat and engaging tempo. The band’s ability to crank out catchy and yet technically engaging songs is clearly showcases on pieces like “California”, “Shah Mat” and “Dark Empath”. We have always loved how the band’s music is upbeat and sometimes to some degree a bit cheesy, but equally enjoyable.

  • Isenordal - Requiem for Eirênê (2024)


    Unleashing one of the most powerful and disarming releases of 2024, today we have Isenordal and their latest opus “Requiem for Eirênê”. Filled with melancholy, this release features five tracks and over 50 minutes of majestically crafted music that transports the listener with mysterious and bleak soundscapes. Filled with lush instrumentation and perfect execution, this is one of our early candidates for best release of the year.

    Opening with the 15-minute behemoth “A Moment Approaches Eternity”, we get a slow atmospheric progression adorned by solemn viola accents, just until the moment when crushing Doom riffs lead way to harsh screams. The level of bleakness induced by the weeping guitars and the masterful tempo is unparalleled, and it only gets better as the track progresses with even more dramatic instrumentation and some hellish aggressive passages.

  • Firewind - Stand United (2024)


    From the mind of guitarist extraordinaire Gus G, today we have Firewind’s latest effort “Stand United”. Delivering ten tracks and over 43 minutes of superbly crafted music, this release is the perfect fix of Heavy/Power Metal for genre purists and those who enjoy some hard-hitting Metal tunes to grab some beers and party the night away.

    Opening with the blistering “Salvation Day”, we get a pretty good intro to the band’s high-octane sound, perfectly balancing soaring vocal melodies alongside guitar wizardry and extreme catchiness. One of the best features of this band is that while Gus G is an insane guitarist, the music is actually quite balanced and never abuses his skills, but they rather work excellently in unison with all other instruments, as tracks like “Stand United”, “Destiny is Calling”, and “The Power Lies Within” showcase.

  • Grey Skies Fallen - Molded By Broken Hands (2024)


    Since While Heaven Wept disbanded a few years back, Grey Skies Fallen has been left carrying the torch for that unique mixture of Epic-ish Melodic Doom/Progressive Metal that mostly North American bands have been playing. With “Molded By Broken Hands”, the band further refined their sound while keeping their signature elements and delivering seven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of moody and melancholic music.

    Opening with the acoustic guitars of “A Twisted Place in Time”, the band quickly sets a very melancholic vibe as the doomy distorted guitars come in alongside harsh vocals and engaging atmospherics. The album title track dabbles into more atmospheric territories at first with some crafty guitar leads and it progresses with some excellent moody tempo changes.

  • Suldusk - Anthesis (2024)


    Hailing from Australia, today we have Suldusk and their sophomore release “Anthesis”. Marking a transition from a Folk sound to Dark Folk with Blackgaze, Progressive and even some Doom influences, this release unleashes nine tracks of sublime music filled with raw emotion and mystery. For fans of more modern Post-Black Metal releases with a melancholic edge, this release will certainly catch many by surprise and take the scene by storm.

    Opening with the solemn “Astraeus”, the band quickly changes gears with the brutal initial onslaughts of “Verdalet”. Once the band settles in more melancholic territories, their stylistic duality is masterfully revealed. Emily Highfield’s vocals are just the right amount of sweet and mysterious to carry a very lush instrumentation including dramatic violins and intricate guitar melodies.

  • Besotten/Funerelic - Abyssal Synodality (2024)


    There are some days that you just want to play the foulest and most ravaging thing you can find to get through the day. For those days, “Abyssal Synodality”, a split release between Besotten and Funerelic, is just what the doctor ordered. Featuring four tracks, two a piece and nearly 20 minutes of music, this release is quite engaging and punishing.

  • Liv Kristine - Deus ex Machina (2024)


    There is nothing like a re-release of an album that came out 26 years ago to make you feel old. We still remember picking up Liv Kristine’s solo debut back in 1998 and being weirded out at first about it. In “Deus ex Machina”, Liv explored a more electronic/alternative side to her, and we, at the time, just wanted another Theater of Tragedy-like release. Fast forward to 2024 and we have loved this release to the point our original digipak is quite worn down.

    Usually not reviewed here, re-releases are mostly targeted at nostalgic fans as they usually include plenty of extra special tracks (one full disc worth in this case). However, we see this re-release as an opportunity for Liv to get newer fans with her charismatic voice and excellent songwriting skills. While the masterful “3 A.M.” is the best release of this album, we get five more versions of it featuring alternative mixes.

  • Shadohm - Through Darkness Towards Enlightenment (2024)


    Hailing from Poland, today we have a very ambitious new outfit Shadohm and their crafty/proggy Modern Metal release “Through Darkness Towards Enlightenment”. Formed by Paweł Jaroszewicz of Vader, Antigama, Batushka fame, this outfit delivers five crushing tracks, totaling 30 minutes of music, highly recommended for fans of bands like Hacride, Gojira, Architects, and Meshuggah.

    Opening with the pummeling “Through Darkness”, we get a hefty mixture of crafty drumming, engaging tempo changes, and powerful guitars. The vocals are quite fitting to the music as they switch from harsh passages to more melodic clean arrangements. For fans of Meshuggah and similar outfits, tracks like “Blurred” and “Fair Weather Friend” have a solid dose of Djenty tempo changes and layered guitars.


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