As one of those bands that is always innovating and creating something weirdly unique, Sigh returns with more of their Avant-garde/Black Metal with “Shiki”. Featuring over 45 minutes of hypnotic, chaotic, and completely weird music, this album is enjoyable for more than a few spins as the listener will constantly discover new details with each listen. Highly recommended for fans of the band, or music connoisseurs that like odd, chaotic, and yet highly engaging Metal music.
The album kicks off with a short atmospheric intro and the pummeling Doomy riffs of “Kuroi Kage”, a track that is heavy and punishing as it transitions to even weirder territories. The band’s vocals are quite fitting for such a diverse and engaging musical foundation, particularly for the heavier and more experimental tracks like the previously mentioned one and the playful “Shoujahitsumetsu”. One thing to note is the band’s old-school Heavy Metal musical core that clearly shines on tracks like “Shikabane”, and its funky atmospherics and percussions.
Since the addition of Alissa White-Gluz on vocals, and Jess Loomis on guitars back in 2014, Arch Enemy has massively improved the dynamics of their sound and now function like a precise Swiss watch when making catchy and technically brilliant music. On “Deceivers”, the band channels their creativity on 11 tracks and nearly 45 minutes of their signature sound… but better.
Opening with the scorcher of “Handshake with Hell”, we get killer guitar leads, superbly catchy melodies, and a very crafty mixture of harsh and clean vocals, making this one hell of an opener and a small taste of what is to come. It is quite impressive how the band’s Melodic Death Metal sound is like no one else, as their Heavy Metal (e.g. “The Watcher” and “In the Eye of the Storm”) and even Thrash Metal (e.g. “Deceiver, Deceiver”, “Spreading Black Wings”) nicely complement the barrage of melodic riffs and wild guitar leads.
Coming to take the best Melodic Death Metal release of 2022 title, today we have The Halo Effect and their debut full-length release “Days of the Lost”. For the uninitiated, as soon as this band was announced, we knew they would release something insanely awesome. Featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) on vocals, and pretty much every good musician In Flames started or had a long time with, like Jesper Strömblad and Niclas Engelin on guitars, Daniel Svensson on drums, and Peter Iwers on bass, this line-up is beyond stacked.
Immediately making an impact with “Shadowminds”, we quickly get an old-school Dark Tranquillity whiff, but this is slowly replaced with a very interesting hybrid of both early DT and In Flames, but with a modern edge, experienced musicianship, and excellent production values. It is very cool to hear songs like the album title track, “The Needless End” and “Conditional”, and wonder if this is how things would have shaken out if these guys would have made music together since back in the day.
The always evolving Björn Strid and Soilwork are finally back, with yet another boundary smashing release. Far from the band’s original Melodic Death Metal style, it seems like this band style is heading in a collision course with Björn’s other band The Night Flight Orchestra sans the 80’s glam. Most of the tracks are both soothing and catchy, with a rock’n’roll vibe, leaving aside from time to time, some of their heavier elements from before.
Starting with some funky folky atmospherics of the album title track, it quickly brings back some familiar onslaughts as there are plenty of heavy riffs and harsh screams, blended in with soaring melodic passages. This initial impression is quickly changed with “Nous Sommes La Guerre”, a piece more in the Night Flight Orchestra vibe, with pop-ish edges and engaging vocal melodies. The band’s duality to more melodic and ‘accessible’ pieces, and the heavier melodic DM influences is a bit confusing and chaotic as they transition through pieces like “Electric Again” and “Valleys of Gloam”.
Today we have one-man battalion Daidalos and their extremely dynamic and engaging Atmospheric/Symphonic Dark Metal sound. Creating a very cinematic and over the top aural experience, “The Expedition” is one hell of a debut release with elements from bands like Dimmu Borgir, Therion, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, just to name a few. However, the 52+ minutes of music here take a life of their own as they come to life with very lively arrangements and crafty tempo changes, giving Daidalos a signature extreme music sound.
Slowly building momentum with the dramatic opener “Expedition”, we see the band crafting a very cinematic experience by perfectly layering atmospheric elements with crushing guitar riffs and massive drumming. As the album progresses to pieces like “Icewind” and “Sail into the Stars”, it is quite magical how immersive the music feels. The production is top notch, perfectly highlighting elements that need to shine across the well layered ‘Metal’ foundation.
Hailing from Washington D.C., today we have DragonForce-esque outfit Quantum Twilight and their self-released debut album “Hypersonic Demolition”. Originally a solo project from multi-instrumentalist Greg Russell, this outfit has some great potential and killer execution, however, it needs to find its own sound as it still sounds too much like other bands. However, not all is bad as the album features nearly 50 minutes of solid tunes.
Opening with the intense “Never Surrender”, we immediately get that DragonForce vibe with the intricate video game-esque guitar leads and overall playful pace. Newcomer vocalist Jarrad Biron Green is pretty talented and sounds well in the songs, particularly when there are backing tracks like on “Champions”, or he tries to use different ranges like on “Intergalactic Onslaught”.
The mastermind of Brutal Death Metal outfit, Nile, Karl Sanders, is ready to come back with its third solo full-length release “Saurian Apocalypse”. It has been 13 years since his last solo release, and here the listener is treated to ten mostly instrumental pieces that have some of the Middle-eastern vibe of Nile, but in a more exploratory and atmospheric way, and of course without the growls.
Far from the thunderous riffs and intensity of his main band, Karl Sanders shows a very mellow and enjoyable atmospheric side to his craft with pieces like “The Sun Has Set on the Age of Man”, “The Disembodied Yet Slither Among Us”, and “The Evil Inherent in us All”, while still keeping that somber and ritualistic edge of his other band. There is a very relaxing and experimental feeling to the music in this release, showing more range and a variety of moods.
With more and more Melodic Death Metal bands incorporating more modern elements and tons of keyboards to their sound, it is quite refreshing to listen to Decaptacon and their purely-guitar drive old-school Melodic Death Metal release “For Those Who Died”. For fans of old Gardenian, At The Gates, all the way to Centinex and Entombed, this is one crafty release that will bring back some nostalgic moments.
Opening with the sweeping “Buried Alive”, the band very quickly sets a high-octane mode with crafty riffs, superb drumming and dramatic melodic guitar leads. Showing this was not a fluke, “A New Lease of Life”, “Until We Drown”, and “Inner Captivity”keep things rolling with a hearty dose of harsh vocals mixed in some pretty epic headbanging moments and intricate guitar leads.
Led by the talented Mariangela Demurtas of Tristania fame, and multi-instrumentalist/producer Kris Laurent, Ardours is one of those rare unique bands that manages to perfectly blend all kinds of cool elements from Gothic Rock to Metal to 80’s new wave. With “Anatomy of a Moment” they hone in on the strengths of their debut album and unleash nearly 45 minutes of superbly catchy music filled with soaring vocal melodies, lush atmospheric arrangements and a hefty dose of funky beats.
Opening with the magical futuristic atmospherics of “Epitaph For A Spark”, one could immediately think the band turned into another Amaranthe, but as soon as the soothing guitars and Mariangela’s vocals come on, the whole vibe changes into a completely different beast. The band’s ability to create different moods, some darker or more playful than others, is their biggest strength as they deliver songs like “Insomniac”, “Identified”, and “Secret Worlds”, which range in styles but still feature a cohesive core of solid guitar work, crafty drumming and soaring vocal leads.
Led by the talented Caterina Nix, Chaos Magic is a Symphonic Metal band with similar style to outfits like Visions of Atlantis, Epica, Nightwish, etc. With so many similar bands in the genre, “Emerge” distinguishes itself as a release with Power and Progressive Metal elements, keeping things lean and direct. Featuring 50 minutes of music, this release is quite dynamic and keeps the listener engaged due to excellent songwriting and dramatic arrangements.
The release sets a mystical mood with the title track, delivering soaring vocal melodies and crafty electronic elements, all of these wrapped around hefty riffs and tight drumming. We particularly enjoyed that the release slowly builds up, and does not ‘explode’ in the listener’s face too quickly, as tracks like: “Beneath your Sin” and “Impossible”. This allows the listener to nicely warm up the band’s style and Caterina’s excellent vocals.