Originally not big fans of the band, with their last few releases they have converted us thanks to their engaging Power/Progressive Metal with somber undertones and the fantastic voice of Tom Englund. In “Escape of the Phoenix”, the band builds up on the success of their previous album and delivers nearly one full hour of high-octane music with tons of mood changes and soaring vocal melodies.
The release opens strongly with the heavy guitars of “Forever Outsider”, a track that nicely sets a very dynamic mood thanks to the funky keyboards. One of the first heavy hitters is the very melodic and catchy “Where August Mourn” and its dreamy atmospherics paired with Tom’s emotive vocals. This track has some nice Dark Tranquillity vibes to it as well. After the power ballad “Stories”, the album’s best song “Dandelion Cipher” delivers waves of soaring vocal arrangements, heartfelt lyrics and very explosive instrumentation, making it an instant epic.
Empyrium has a way of making fans way for long periods of time for new music, but yet when they release something, all is forgotten as the band’s sonic magic appeases even the most disgruntled fan. Just making us wait seven years, instead of twelve as in the last time, Schwadorf and Thomas Helm return with over 52 minutes of music that manages to merge the band’s original ingenuity and ferocity, with their more refined and Folky sound of their later releases.
The release opens with the solemn acoustic guitars of “The Three Flames Sapphire”, a track that slowly moves into more complex territories with the lush clean vocals of Thoman Helm and layers of additional classical elements. However, one of the most interesting parts is the introduction of distorted guitars and harsh vocals, turning the track’s mood in a completely new dimension and bringing back “A Wintersunset...” vibes, and this is just the first song.
Crafty and melodic Black Metal releases are on the rise with bands like Uada and Mgła, Switzerland is throwing their hat in the ring with Hån and their latest release “Breathing the Void”. Featuring over 46 minutes of blistering music, this release perfectly balances raw aggression with melody and a top-notch production. Highly recommended for fans of this modern approach to a timeless genre.
After an ominous intro, the album title track delivers waves of crushing guitars and intense drumming. The band does a solid job in crafting intelligent tracks that are marked by catchiness and aggression. Similar to bands like Misþyrming, the melody infused by the twin-guitar attack into songs like “Olethrus”, “Enter An Eternal World”, and “Goatman”, serves as the perfect contrast to the harsh vocals and the tempo changes.
Unleashing one of the most explosive and bombastic releases of 2021, today we have Epica and their latest opus “Omega”. Featuring over 70 minutes of music, this release capitulates on the band’s experience, execution, and expansive sound to deliver their strongest album to date. With all of their signature elements taken into a new level, this release is exactly what all fans are expecting.
After setting a magical and mystical tone with the opening intro, the band’s explosive sound in “Abyss of Time - Countdown to Singularity” perfectly delivers their well-balanced bombastic sound with rich classical arrangements and crushing distorted guitars. One of the band’s virtues is how they can create very playful tracks while pitting the sweetness of Simone’s vocals against Marc’s growls and aggressive riffs, as crafted in “The Skeleton Key”.
Portugese legends Moonspell mark their return with a very unique and captivating release titled “Hermitage”. Featuring over 52 minutes of very emotive and dreamy music, the band will surely surprise their fans with this melancholic Gothic/Dark Metal release. With a darker edge to their sound, this release takes a bit to sink in, but once it does, it delivers some of the finest musical moments the band has ever produced.
The release kicks off with the mysterious “The Greater Good” and its crafty drumming alongside enigmatic atmospherics and subtle layered guitars. Fernando Ribeiro’s signature deep vocals give that extra element of mystery to this track as he goes from clean passages to harsh sections. The enigmatic atmosphere continues with the hard rocking opening of “Common Prayers”, a song that slowly introduces additional atmospheric elements and a very epic bass guitar line.
Highly prolific Daniel Neagoe (Clouds) is back with another soul-crushing Funeral Doom Metal release with his new band Mourners. In “Act I: Tragedies”, the band explores the depths of misery with a very powerful and direct release. For over 50 minutes the listener is immersed in a solemn and bleak experience, making this one of the best releases of the genre in 2021.
The typical atmospheric piece, “Apparitions” sets a desolate mood while delivering a warm-up onslaught of crushing brutality. “The Way of Darkness” slowly builds up to crushing combinations of massive growls and punishingly slow riffs. Daniel’s signature vocals perfectly layer with the minimalist instrumentation and ripping guitars in tracks like “Souls Breathing Nothingness” and “Ansu Enthroned” further creating a cavernous hollowness that only bands like Thergothon, Evoken or Mournful Congregation create.
Still suffering PTSD from remembering that our last in-person concert was exactly 11 months ago, watching Cult of Luna, Intronaut and Emma Ruth Rundle, today we have Cult of Luna and their latest EP “The Raging River”. As a great intermediate step between their 2019 opus “A Dawn to Fear” and what is next to come, this release showcases the band firing on all cylinders and delivering their highly refined atmospheric brand of Sludgy Post-Metal for over 38 minutes.
The band instantly set their captivating atmosphere with the crafty “Three Bridges”, a slow moving piece that quickly delivers massive layered guitars and lush percussions. The more signature-styled “What I leave Behind” features high-octane melodic passages alongside the cathartic moments we all know and love from Cult of Luna. The harsh vocals are something that we always enjoyed from this band as they perfectly juxtapose the band's aggression alongside their elegant arrangements.
As one of the liveliest releases of 2021, we have found ourselves enjoying a bit too much of Korpiklaani’s latest full-length release “Jylhä”. Featuring over 60 minutes of the band’s signature Folk Metal, this release balances the over-the-top party songs with more mellow and melodic pieces that are great to zone of the current state of affairs of the world and enjoy a nice cold beer along the songs.
Opening with the catchy “Verikoira”, the band rapidly sets a very lively and engaging tone. The hard rocking nature of this track’s guitars alongside the crafty drumming and rich instrumentation creates a very positive and party-like atmosphere. This mood continues as the band pummels through tracks like “Niemi” , “Leväluhta” and “Mylly”, all of which feature vocalist Jonne doing his thing while layers of folk instruments nicely adorn the proceedings.
Hailing from Tunisia, today we have a very unique and aurally abusive outfit: Omination. Dropping their third full-length release, “NRG”, this band delivers one hell of an expansive sound that incorporates elements of traditional Funeral Death/Doom Metal with some more cinematic and experimental endeavors.
Unleashing an eerie and ritualistic aural assault with “Crossing the Burned Wasteland”, the band sets a very punishing and intriguing atmosphere. This oppressive atmosphere is further explored with the monolithic onslaughts of “Apocalyptic Ignis Fatuus”, a very powerful track featuring hellish atmospheric elements and potent distorted guitars. The band’s drums, which seem to be programmed, at times give the music a certain industrial edge that classes at times with their atmospheric context, but at the same time creates a very unique and aurally confusing experience, like on “Last Trisagion”.
Hailing from the USA, today we have Everdawn and their lush Symphonic Metal sound. In “Cleopatra”, the band delivers eleven tracks and over 48 minutes of majestic music that could be comparable to any of the European heavy hitters for the genre. Featuring Mike LePond (Symphony X) on its ranks, this band is a new blank slate spawning from Midnight Eternal. Filled with crafty ideas and dramatic arrangements, this release is of high quality and great entertainment value.
Opening with the heavy hitting “Ghost Shadow Requiem”, the band sets a very regal and engaging atmosphere thanks to the lush keyboards and intricate guitar work. Vocalist Alina Gavrilenko does a great job delivering remarkable vocal melodies from the opener, and as the band unleashes unparalleled catchiness and craftiness in pieces like “Stranded in Bangalore”, “Cleopatra”, and the mysterious “Your Majesty Sadness”.