Album Reviews

  • Orden Ogan - Final Days (2021)

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    Delivering their traditional high-octane Power Metal, today we have Germany’s Orden Ogan and their seventh full-length release “Final Days”. Featuring 50-minutes of superbly catchy and expertly crafted music, the band delivers one of their most epic and lively releases to date. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Stratovarius, Blind Guardian and Powerwolf, this is one of the highlights of the genre in 2021.

    Opening with the catchiness of “Heart of the Android”, the band quickly sets a very engaging and epic atmosphere. With Niels Löffler switching to guitars and the addition of guitarist Patrick Sperling, the band sound is more dynamic and delivers a good amount of brilliant guitar leads and catchy passages, as we can hear on songs like “In the Dawn of the AI” and “Inferno”. As one would expect, the band’s epic vocal arrangements are a centerpiece of their sound and perfectly exploited in epic songs like “Let the Fire Rain”.

  • Sulpur - Embracing Hatred and Beckoning Darkness (2021)

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    Unleashing one hell of a crushing debut release, today we have Sulpur and their debut release “Embracing Hatred and Beckoning Darkness”. Delivering over 43 minutes of pummeling old-school Black Metal, this outfit perfectly captures the aggression and rawness of the 90’s with five blistering compositions. If you like old Immortal, Marduk, Horna, and Satanic Warmaster, this is one release you can’t miss.

    Opening with the mysterious intro/title track, the band sets a very dark and sinister mood as waves of punishing riffs and harsh screams quickly take over the sonic landscape. The band’s vicious style is perfectly delivered by the intense guitar work alongside some crafty tempo changes, reminding us of Immortal’s “Pure Holocaust” days. On tracks like “Blessed By Foul Magick”, the listener is abused by its sheer brutality, perfectly balanced between highly melodic passages.

  • Sarkrista - Sworn of Profound Heresy (2021)

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    There is nothing like well executed Black Metal to lighten up our days. Luckily for us, Germany’s Sarkrista delivers some of the most piercing traditional BM that we have heard in quite a while. With “Sworn to Profound Heresy” the band unleashes their third full-length release and definitely one of their best. Featuring nearly 50 minutes of music, the band’s brand of raw and in-your-face BM is a force to be reckoned with, as it reminds us of Horna, Sargeist and similar outfits.

    After a regal intro piece, the band’s ravaging ferocity quickly delivers its first blow with the album title track. Abusing blistering guitars and pummeling drumming, the band unleashes their fury as tracks like “Lair of Cursed Remains” and “Ablazing Ritual Torches” lay waste to the listener’s ear drums. We particularly enjoy the subtle and minimal atmospheric elements thrown into the mix alongside crafty tempo changes.

  • Suicide Forest - Reluctantly (2021)

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    Hailing from the USA, today we have one-man entity Suicide Forest and its second full-length production “Reluctantly”. Unleashing over 43 minutes of harrowing Depressive/Atmospheric Black Metal, this band’s sound has that European vibe while introducing its own brand of creepiness to the mix. Recommended for fans of bands like Lifelover, Dodsferd, and similar outfits, be prepared to be crushed by this album.

    Opening with the title track, the band sets a very demoralizing pace with a mid-tempo excruciating exercise in oppression. Thanks to its piercing riffs, ravaging shrieks, and subtle atmospheric keyboards, this track sets a very dense atmosphere. The crunchy “As the Light Fades Part 1” has a livelier pace to start as it has that rawness of early 90’s BM with its crafty guitar leads and faster tempos, reminding us a bit of Ancient in their “Svartalvheim” days.

  • Varmia - Bal Lada (2021)

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    Expanding their roster to include more interesting and diverse acts, M-Theory Audio brings us today the third full-length release of Poland’s Varmia, titled “Bal Lada”. Combining Black Metal with Folk/Pagan elements, this outfit has an early Enslaved vibe in their well-crafted and highly engaging music. For over 60 minutes the band blends a wide variety of elements on top of crafty guitars and a sinister atmosphere.

    The folky opener “Woanie” reminds us of Enslaved’s less proggy days, while the band sets an enigmatic pace to things. We are super fans of catchy songs and the riffs in “Bielmo” have a nice progression, allowing the listener to fully immerse himself in the band’s melodic side. The band does not stay very mellow for long as the incisive “Ruja” pairs piercing guitars with crafty drums while keeping things heavy and engaging.

  • Valosta Varjoon - Das Flammenmeer (2021)

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    There is something just magical about listening to that blistering metallic distortion of old-school Raw Black Metal. Luckily for us, today we have Germany’s Valosta Varjoon and their latest full-length release “Das Flammenmeer”. Spewing 52-minutes of pummeling music, this release perfectly captures the genre’s rawness and delivers seven swift blows filled with brutality and craftiness.

    After the atmospheric opening of the album’s title track, the band goes to work with a savage dose of piercing guitars and infernal shrieks of pain. Simple, raw and yet effective and brutal is the band’s motto as tracks like “Abschaum”, “Ruinen”, and “Gspusi” bring back the old-school vibe of the early days of Satyricon, Immortal, with a splash of Satanic Warmaster and Horna.

  • SOM - Awake (2021)

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    Featuring members of bands like Constants, Junius, and Caspian, today we have the dreamy SOM and their highly intoxicating EP “Awake”. With two original songs and three remixes, this release is a teaser of what is to come from this unique outfit. Filled with tons of ethereal and highly atmospheric elements, the band’s sound is quite mellow and yet expansive and highly exploratory, creating a very cinematic listening experience.

    Opening with the sweeping “Awake // Sedate”, we are quickly immersed in the band’s very dreamy sound thanks to its dramatic guitars and mellow vocals. There is certain warmth and dreaminess that is quite hard to describe, but is immediately felt when listening to this track. In a more dramatic fashion, “Youth // Decay'' delivers shoegazey emotions with a good dose of dream pop infused in the mix. We particularly love how the song slowly progresses, providing a truly energizing emotional rollercoaster ride.

  • Wolvennest - Temple (2021)

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    Always pushing the envelope when it comes to unique aural experiences, Ván Records is set to unleash one of the most unique, and yet intoxicating releases of 2021 with Wolvennest’s “Temple”. Clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, this eight song release is filled with haunting atmospherics, eerie arrangements and solid doses of heaviness. Mixing elements from all kinds of genres like Psychedelic Metal, Ambient, to Apocalyptic Folk, and everything in between, this is one truly majestic experience that demands attention and patience.

    The album warms up with the ambient/atmospheric elements of “Mantra”, a track that slowly evolves into a mystical piece with piercing guitars and eerie vocal arrangements. Reminding us a bit of Dark Buddha Rising but with some restraint, plus the enigmatic vocals of Shazzula. The mood feels rising with “Swear to Fire” and its incisive riffs and ghastly vocal melodies mixed in with a very crafty tempo and cathartic guitar leads.

  • Marianas Rest - Fata Morgana (2021)

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    Unleashing crushing melancholy and gloom, today we have Finland’s Marianas Rest and their third full-length release “Fata Morgana”. For being huge fans of Melodic Death/Doom Metal we are quite shocked that we never heard of this band before, but we are glad that this has since been corrected. Featuring Aapo Koivisto of Omnium Gatherum fame, this band delivers some of the most impressive and demoralizing melancholic music we have ever heard.

    Creating an unsettling mysterious atmosphere in “Sacrificial”, the band starts building up the pummeling momentum of this release with solid atmospherics, diverse guitar styles and subtle piano passages. Jaakko Mäntymaa vocals perfectly fit the overall mood of the band’s sound, as their versatility (shrieks to growls to clean) allows the band to not sound like any of their other Finnish counterparts. “Glow from the Edge” keeps the misery rolling with bleak guitars, and haunting female vocals courtesy of guest Lindsay Schoolcraft, further elevating the band’s atmospheric brilliance.

  • Shadows - Shadows (2021)

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    When it comes to weird and out of the ordinary music, we are always on looking for the next weirdest thing. Today, via Agonia Records, we have Shadows and their self-titled debut EP. Led by Alex Bouks of Incantation and Goreaphobia fame, this band unleashes a very intoxicating and unique release with a blend of musical styles within Metal and bordering with Rock and Goth elements.

    Opening with the somber “Ghosts of Old”, we get an interesting mixture of crafty drumming, firm riffs and a very moody tempo. The clean vocals remind us a bit of the band EverEve, with a certain twang added to them. The album’s atmosphere is quite dark and enjoyable as tracks like “Shadows”, “Night of the Goat Winter Moon”, and “Elders” have a nice mixture of warm and fuzzy psychedelic distortion with engaging tempo changes and very solemn vocals.

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