We just had to wait 11 year for a new full length release, from personal favorite band Noekk. On the bright side, I guess “Waltzing in Obscurity” did take one year less to be released than the time between Empyrium albums. Led by Markus Stock and Thomas Helm, this band is the proggier/psychedelic outlet from Empyrium, as you can hear some minimal influences in this and their previous release. However, this band is a very different outfit with a heavier and trippier edge to its music.
Opening with the album title track, we have a folky opening that evolves into lush vocal arrangements and a retro vibe with its intricate synths. We particularly love that dramatic sound created by the powerful distorted guitars and the clean vocals around the 5 minute mark, which reminds us of Empyrium very quickly. That being the last comparison with their partner band, the album progresses with the psychedelic brilliance of “Perseus” and its superb instrumentation. The drum crash cymbals are just amazingly produced, and are perfectly contrasted with the funky retro synths, making for one hell of a song.
The ever changing Blut Aus Nord returns with their most impressive release to date with “Hallucinogen”. Everybody knows the band’s releases always push sonic boundaries, but with this opus, Vindsval and W.D. Feld take their sound to completely new cosmic dimensions. For over 48 minutes of music the band explores uniquely melancholic and ethereal territories with an interesting blend of lush atmospherics and intricate guitar work. Unless something drastically changes, we can almost be sure that this album will be our top release of 2019.
Opening with the mesmerizing “Nomos Nebuleam”, the band sets a very dreamy and highly atmospheric mood. The dramatic guitar work perfectly blending with the intense drumming to create a very powerful vibe. Combining the intensity of Progenie Terrestre Pura and the sci-fi-esque edge of Frozen Ocean, Blut Aus Nord crafts some very intense moments on tracks like “Nebeleste” that are both punishing and highly inspired. The clean vocal arrangements are quite unique and adds to the music’s overall weirdness and atmosphere.
Marking the return of the most exciting Power Metal to ever come out of the UK, today we have DragonForce and their latest opus “Extreme Power Metal”. Featuring a leaner sound and a leaner line-up, the band delivers ten solid tracks that showcase their signature style paired with superbly catchy songs and a very playful vibe. Delivering over 52 minutes of high-octane music, the band never disappoints when it comes to expertly crafted guitar acrobatics and catchy music.
The lush “Highway to Oblivion” track opens with a certain 80’s vibe that seems to be the concept around this release. Immediately Herman Li and Sam Totman take over with their playful guitar interactions as Marc Hudson’s vocals settle the listener into the band’s elaborate songs. The album still features Frédéric Leclercq on bass and backing vocals, as one can hear from his bass guitar lines on tracks like “Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred Machine” and the playful “The Last Dragonborn”.
Constantly getting better with time, Cult of Luna is ready to unravel their latest non-collaborative release: “A Dawn to Fear”. Featuring nearly 80 minutes of demoralizing music, this release showcases the band’s evolution into one of the most versatile and complex bands in the world. Picking up where they left off on their “Mariner” collaboration, the band creates lush soundscapes full of intricacies and magical details, making their music highly enjoyable and engaging.
The band wastes no time in setting up a very hypnotic mood with “The Silent Man”. Weaving back and forth between crushing guitar riffs, a trembling bass guitar onslaught and the band’s signature harsh vocals, this track perfectly prompts the listener to strap down to their seats and enjoy the ride. With the ritualistic “Lay Your Head to Rest”, the band sets a trance-like mood that bleeds into the more mellow album title track. We particularly enjoy how the band perfectly times the tempo changes, while keeping things fresh and interesting.
Always surprising us with their excellent taste in music, LifeForce Records is prepared to unleash “Sateet palata saavat”, Finland’s Vorna’s latest effort. Magically combining elements of Folk/Pagan/Black Metal in a very atmospheric palette of sounds, this release delivers over 50 minutes of superbly melodic music. The closest band to Vorna’s sound that comes to mind has to be Eternal Tears of Sorrow and their highly diverse sound. This should let you know you are in for a treat with this album.
After the traditional mood setting intro, “Toinen” delivers the first onslaught of atmospheric brilliance. Creating a very moody and mystical atmosphere, the band pummels the listener with superb drumming, heavy riffs, and harsh vocals. The swings between lush melodic keyboard arrangements, harsh/clean vocals, and intense riffing, are just magical, creating a very immersive and engaging experience as heard on both “Toinen” and “Syvyydet”.
Hailing from Chile, today we have Epic Doom Metal outfit Capilla Ardiente and their sophomore full-length release “The Siege”. Perfectly aimed at those Candlemass, Saint Vitus and Solitude Aeturnus fans, this album unleashes over 45 minutes of pummeling riffs, moody vocals and an overall crushing atmosphere.
Side A of the release starts with “The Open Arms, the Open Wounds”, a very traditional Doom song that starts with one of the most typical riffs in the genre and quickly morphs into heavier territories. The dual guitar onslaught of Julio Bórquez (lead) and Igor Leiva (rhythm) allows for very engaging and powerful combinations, keeping tracks heavy and fun. “The Crimson Fortress” delivers more waves of distortion amidst crafty drumming and a powerful bass guitar line, giving it a certain old-school vibe.
Australia is a place were some pretty interesting bands like Austere and Germ have spawned. Finally breaking into the global scene a few years back, Advent Sorrow delivers brutal Depressive Black Metal to the masses with their incisive and nihilistic style. “Kali Yuga Crown” is the band’s sophomore full-length release and with the wide release through Werewolf Records should propel the band to new audiences.
The album is all atmosphere start to finish, and it perfectly sets a very sinister and melancholic mood with the dramatic opener “Verminblood”. Unleashing intricate guitar melodies and a mournful bass guitar line, this track unleashes the band’s pain to the listener. Not settling for only one particular style, “Wolfhook and Weapon” showcases the band’s more upbeat and intense side, with an old-school sounding Black’n’Roll-ish style.
After conquering the world of Black Metal in the last few years, enigmatic entity Mgła return with an expertly crafted release with “Age of Excuse”. Delivering a masterclass of riffing and pacing finesse, this album unleashes over 42 minutes of blistering music that any fan of the genre will be extremely appreciative of. The band’s ability to deliver intense and direct music to their audiences is unrivaled and with this release they further refine their trade.
The band wastes no time as track “I” delivers the first blow of intricate riffs and punishing drumming. With a superb metallic sounding distortion, the band feels above the traditional raw and harsh sounding bands, favoring a more refined and elegant delivery. Presented with incredible poise and restraint, “II” and “III” warm up the listener with countless intricate tempo changes and crafty arrangements.
Hailing from the USA, today we have Vintersea and their very unique and interesting sophomore release “Illuminated”. Featuring tons of cool influences ranging from bands like Borknagar, Cronian to the likes of Into Eternity and more proggy outfits, this album contains nearly 40 minutes of exciting music. If you are a fan of melodic and progressive music with a very experimental edge and don’t mind growls or clean female vocals, this is certainly something to check out.
The album deceivingly starts quite intense with “Spawn Awakening”, but this does not last too long as the track transitions into proggy and dreamy territories quite quick. With the opening track finishing quite intensely, the band nicely transitions to the mellower “Old Ones”, which is led by the fantastic clean vocals of Avienne Low. With Avienne also handling the harsh vocals, the transitions are quite seamless and interesting, allowing the songs to shift moods very quickly and dramatically, as on the excellent melancholic track “Illuminated”.
Unleashing a whole new different kind of beast, today we have Ukraine’s White Ward and their sophomore full-length release “Love Exchange Failure”. Featuring over 65 minutes of captivating music, the band seamlessly blends Post-Black Metal with an Avant-garde edge an a serious dose of hypnotic brutality. Pushing the genre to new heights, this is one hell of a release that fans of the experimental should not miss.
The album opens with the title track setting a very lounge like vibe with sparse piano notes, hypnotic percussions and a jazzy sax. All the calm suddenly transforms into chaos with blistering aggressive passages filled with crushing riffs and harrowing vocals. As the first track petters off, “Poisonous Flowers of Violence” delivers a more calculated attack that blends the ambiance of Post-Metal bands like Amenra and Neurosis, with a more vicious and yet delicate edge. The band’s ability to amalgamate genres in uncanny and each track demonstrates this, like the convoluted “Dead Heart Confession”.