Album Reviews

  • Soilwork - A Whisp of the Atlantic (2020)

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    Riding high from their 2019 release, “Verkligheten”, Soilwork delivers a killer EP with nearly 37 minutes of music. Continuing their evolution into Melodic/Grove Metal territories, the band unleashes five killer songs filled with signature Soilwork moments that fans of the band will certainly love. If you have been keen on the band’s last two releases, this EP will satisfy your cravings for more.

    Opening with the 17-minute title track, the band sets a very lively and upbeat mood in the first few minutes, with the song gradually exploring some groovy/proggy passages perfectly led by Björn’s clean/harsh growls and some funky keyboard arrangements by Sven Karlsson. The instrumentation is as rich as always with crafty drums and engaging guitar riffs. This track bleeds a bit into “Feverish”, a faster paced song with pummeling drums and a hectic vibe.

  • Valravn - Prey (2020)

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    As the weather turns cold and frosty in some places, it is the perfect time for blistering Black Metal releases that deliver sheer rawness, brutality, and a mix of melody thrown in for good form. Today we have Finnish outfit Valravn and their crushing release “Prey”, which delivers over 40 minutes of in-your-face raw BM. Focusing on craftsmanship alongside relentless brutality, this band unleashes one of the most intense aural onslaughts of 2020.

    After a folky opener with “Awaken”, the band launches a full-on attack with the pummeling rawness of “Thrones of Blood”. Alongside furious riffs and intense drumming, the band nicely changes gears at times to deliver crafty oppressive atmospheric/melodic passages. With tracks like “Void” and “Conjuration” nicely blending styles and still being quite ravaging, it brings us back memories of old-school Norwegian BM at times.

  • Exitium Sui - Ad Personam (2020)

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    Dramatically balancing brutality with sheer beauty, today we have Exitium Sui and their debut release “Ad Personam”. Mixing elements of Black/Death Metal with lush atmospherics and excellent vocal arrangements, this release delivers over 35 minutes of excellently crafted music. One-man projects usually allow musicians to craft exactly the music they want, with no compromises, and this release shows a very personal and crushing aural experience.

    The release kicks off with the punishing “Eviscerate My Withered Soul”, which has a more traditional Death/Black sound but with a calmer pace and an intriguing and very subtle atmospheric undertone. The vibe continues to get bleaker in songs like “The Long Return To Nothing” and “Into The Conflagration”, while delivering a hefty dose of harsh growls and crushing guitars. It is quite interesting how the release slowly builds up its atmospheric components and turns darker as the minutes pass.

  • Veil of Secrets - Dead Poetry (2020)

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    Finally, after years of waiting, Vibeke Stenne marks her return to the Metal scene with Veil of Secrets and their melancholic debut release “Dead Poetry”. Alongside Asgeir Mickelson, Vibeke graces us with eight tracks and nearly 50 minutes of highly emotional music, that is both dark and Doomy. While some people might have expected something more similar to old Tristania, this release showcases great maturity and undeniable vocal talents, while carving a different and distinctive sound.

    Opening with the incisive guitars of “The Last Attempt”, the band instantly gives off a vibe similar to the short-lived Proggy/Doomy Alas from Erik Rutan and Martina Hornbacher. The atmosphere in this release is quite dark and very cohesive, crafted with only a few elements such as solemn violins from Sareeta and the occasional growl from Erling Malm. This allows Vibeke’s vocals to truly shine alongside weeping guitars, making tracks like “Sear The Fallen”, “Remorseful Heart”, and “The Lie Of Her Prosperity” quite effective and direct.

  • Sodom - Genesis XIX (2020)

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    Unleashing one of the most fierce and pummeling Thrash Metal releases of 2020, today we have the legendary Sodom and their latest effort “Genesis XIX”. With a new crew behind this release, Tom Angelripper manages to craft nearly 55 minutes of incisive music, split into ten high-octane songs that will have you headbanging from beginning to end. It goes without saying that this release is highly recommended for any Thrash Metal fan.

    The riffing onslaught begins with the short opener, “Blind Superstition” and nicely bleeds into the vicious “Euthanasia”. With new band members, since the last full-length, Yorck Segatz and Toni Merkel, the band shines with crafty drums and powerful guitar arrangements, when paired with Frank Blackfire (who was in the band at some point in the late 80’s). This revitalized core allows the band to rip through pieces like “Genesis XIX”, “Sodom & Gomorra”, and the sinister “Dehumanized”, all of this while delivering blistering guitar leads and superb drumming.

  • Psycroptic - The Watcher of All (2020)

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    Delivering a swift, short, and sweet EP, today we have Australia’s premiere Technical Death Metal unit Pyscroptic and their crushing EP “The Watcher of All”. Perfectly maturing over time, the band’s sound is as tight as ever with even some Thrash elements thrown into the mix to create a very high-octane set of tracks that will generate great expectation within their fan-base.

    The release kicks off with the crafty “A Fragile Existence” and its intricate guitar work. The band’s technical proficiency does not get in the way of catchiness as this track is both engaging, complex and perfect for headbanging. The mixture of screams and growls is well balanced, creating an intense atmosphere. The album title track starts off with a certain Testament-like vibe as it rages through intense riffing, superbly crafted drum patterns and a total balls-to-the-wall vicious intensity.

  • Blighted Eye - Wretched (2020)

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    Newcomers Blighted Eye are ready to take the North American scene by storm with their very crafty debut EP “Wretched”. Unleashing over 27 minutes of high-octane, progressive/melodic Death Metal with additional influences, the band delivers four very well crafted songs that nicely balance both technical proficiency and killer songwriting chops. If you are into bands like Sculptured, you cannot afford to miss this release.

    Opening with the intense guitars of “Contempt”, this band sets a very energetic and firm pace. This track features crafty tempo changes, killer intense passages and overall excellent musicianship, showing a bit of a Tech Death Metal influence but with proggy ambitions. As “Respite” follows the intense opener, the band’s more proggy influences are heard, reminding us a bit of mid-period Opeth with some killer guitar leads added.

  • Uthullun - Dirges for the Void (2020)

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    From the endless amounts of releases that make it to our inbox, it is always pleasing to discover some diamonds in rough, these being releases like Uthullun’s debut “Dirges for the Void” which make us dig deeper into the band’s history looking for more music. In this debut release, the band unleashes over 40 minutes of sinister and very crafty Black Metal that is both dissonant and yet catchy and melancholic.

    Opening with the cavernous “Sunless”, the band has a very refined style that never abuses its core elements and delivers just the right amount of brutality and tremolo-picking to create a sinister atmosphere. As “Silence”, “Penitence” and “Ecstasies” unleash hellish fury, we also hear great craftiness and restraint to create punishing atmospheres that are not necessarily extreme, but rather well constructed and developed.

  • Azarath - Saint Desecration (2020)

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    Perfectly blending hyper fast Death Metal brutality with Black Metal hellishness, today we have Azarath and their latest offering: “Saint Desecration”. Building up on their transition into Blackened DM territories over their last releases, this album unleashes nearly 40 minutes of swift aggression and crushing speed, leaving the listener’s ear ringing for a couple of hours after it is over.

    The band’s ‘new’ vocalist/guitarist Skullripper (Marcin Sienkiel) perfectly fits in the band’s energetic style and wastes no time to make his presence felt in the furious opener “Death-at-will”. While some might expect more Behemoth-styled because Inferno’s drumming, the band forges their own signature style with a pummeling and firm Death Metal core that turns Blackened in certain occasions thanks to the riffs or some screams, like on “Sancta Dei Meretrix” and “Let Them Burn”.

  • Ventr - Numinous Negativity (2020)

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    Unleashing nearly 25 minutes of sinister Black Metal dissonance, Portugal’s Ventr make a big splash with their debut EP “Numinous Negativity”. With a very stripped down sound that will send chills down your spine, this band crafts four tracks that are both violent and engaging, creating a magical aura as they introduce themselves to the world.

    Blasting through the listener with the brutal “Omnipresent Abominations”, the band sets a high-octane mood with their incisive guitar riffs and hellish vocals. While the band’s vocalist goes for the deep and raspy styled vocals, alongside the pummeling music, they create a very cavernous and yet enigmatic sound. Setting a more restrained and yet demonic mood, “Our Altar of Murderous Fanaticism” delivers a chilling nearly 8-minute track filled with traditional tremolo picking and BM punkish drumming.

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