Very far removed from their days of being a Symphonic Metal powerhouse (“Mother Earth” and “The Silent Force”), Within Temptation returns after four years with “Resist”. Attempting a dead cat bounce, the band puts out an extremely overproduced release that while it might appeal to the fans the band has gained since “The Unforgiven”, it will probably completely turn off their older fan base. We rarely write bad reviews these days as we rather save the time and energy for good releases that deserve to be heard, but “Resist” was just asking for it.
The album kicks off with the first single, “The Reckoning” a song that takes about 20 seconds to realize it will be bad. With Jacoby Shaddix on guest vocals, yup, the dude from Papa Roach, this track starts the trend of overproduced tracks. The song, while trying to be heavy and melancholic falls completely flat due to their lack of imagination and passion. The trend continues with the futuristic “Endless War”, which at least has some old school vocal arrangements… at times, and the vanilla “Raise Your Banner”, which features Anders Fridén on guest vocals.
From the mind of Chad Davis, today we have The Sabbathian’s debut full-length release “Latum Alterum. Fronted by Anette Uvaas Gulbrandsen from Norway, this duo unleashes a very unique brand of Doom Metal filled with psychedelic and occult elements, similar to the early days of Sabbath Assembly, and the music of Jex Thoth. Delivering over 44 minutes of crunchy gloomy music, this is definitely a must have for fans of the genre.
After setting a somber mood with the intro track, “The Brightest Light” unravels the band’s full potential with piercing warm fuzzy riffs and dreamy female vocals. The music is quite hypnotic, instantly creating a very creepy and powerful wall of sound. With Chad Davis handling all the instruments, we get that very well crafted core of rudimentary Doom elements that are playfully arranged to craft haunting melodies like on “Liti Kjersti” and “Head of a Traitor”.
A blast from the past made it to our review queue today with Hecate Enthroned and their first album in six years “Embrace of the Godless Aeon”. We remember back in the late 90’s when bands were trying to sound like Cradle of Filth and while many tried, Hecate Enthroned was one of the few that got close. While the band got unfairly treated as a clone, we always enjoyed their spin on Symphonic/Gothic Black Metal back in those days. With a new vocalist and their signature style, the band makes a very strong comeback in 2019.
Blasting away after their atmospheric intro, “Revelations in Autumn Flame” takes us back in time with the over the top synths that nicely contrast the shrieks and blast beats. The mixture of growls and shrieks is definitely something that attracted us to the band back in the day and on tracks like “Temples that Breathe” brings back some nice memories. However, the best thing about the band is how they create sinister atmospheres thanks to the sultry voice of Sarah Jezebel Deva in “Goddess of Dark Misfits”, our favorite song in the release.
Bringing back that nostalgic feeling of Symphonic Black Metal from the early 2000’s, today we have Belgium’s Lemuria and their full-length release “The Hysterical Hunt”. With over one hour of music, the band takes the listener in a very lively music filled with Folk elements and brilliant melodic passages, reminding us of outfits like Limbonic Art, Stormlord, Bal-Sagoth and early Agathodaimon.
After setting a turbulent and dramatic mood with the instrumental intro, the band gets down to business with the playful “A Plague Upon the Land”. This track features dramatic orchestrations that do not feel overpowering to the other elements, allowing the vocals to direct the show while the guitars and drums add a layer of heaviness to the music. As album title track rolls in, the pace pics up a bit and keep things interesting with cool vocal arrangements and killer melodic headbanging passages.
Making our start of 2019 a lot more gloomier, today we have SLOW and the re-recording of their 2015 release “IV - Mythologiæ”. Helmed by the multitalented Déhà, this outfit delivers some of the most painful and crushing Atmospheric/Funeral Doom to ever exist and with this release they unleash nearly 60 minutes of monolithic bleakness. Only for fans of bands like Thergothon, Shape of Despair, etc., this music will certainly strike a nerve with its sheer raw power.
The album kicks off with the desolate soundscape painted by “The Standing Giant”. This track starts with minimalist atmospheric elements and weeping guitars that slowly progress to powerful riffs and deep growls. The pace of this song makes it just magical, allowing the listener to be at the edge of their seat for over 10 minutes. The build-up is one of our favorite elements of the genre and on “The Drowning Angel”, we get a majestic one that takes nearly half the song but unravels into demoralizing brilliant as the song comes to a climax.
After a busy 2018 with live appearances, Saor return with yet another brilliant Atmospheric/Folky Black Metal release with “Forgotten Paths”. Filled with magical and lush melodic passages, this album delivers over 38 minutes of intense and mystical music. With a very busy touring schedule in 2019, this is the perfect album to conquer hordes of new fans and followers.
Opening with intensity, the album title track leads way for a musical experience filled with crafty guitar melodies and very dreamy atmospherics. There are even moments that Saor dwells in more Alcest-like passages in this lush and quite intense piece. The buildup on songs like “Monadh” is just brilliant, showing the listener just little peeks of what is to come as the track comes unraveled through its moody tempo changes and expert instrumentation.
Following a killer 2018 in terms of Melodic Death Metal releases, it is now the turn of Italy’s Lahmia to make their case with “Resilience”. Being blown away by their 2012 debut full-length “Into the Abyss”, we are more than psyched that this album is even better. Featuring eight tracks and over 50 minutes of neck-breaking Melodic DM, the band combines elements of outfits like Kalmah, Amon Amarth, Insomnium, etc into a juicy melting pot of brilliance.
The towering pummeling riffs of “Elegy for a Dying Sun” instantly give that epic and melodic vibe that bands take years to master. With a knack for epic headbanging passages, this release perfectly flows into superbly catchy tracks like “Her Fanatic Call” and “Divide Et Imperia”. While the Amon Amarth influences are obvious, the band weaves them into their own sound with superb craftsmanship and attention to details. We particularly enjoy how the mood varies between tracks as “The Frayed Lines of Time” opens with a more epic and melodic atmosphere that evolves into a full-blown moshing masterpiece.
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.