Keeping up with his 2020 tradition of releasing focused EP’s, today we have Ihsahn and his latest opus “Fascination Street Sessions”. As a three song EP, this release nicely showcases his music in a more direct and less cluttered way, allowing the listener to enjoy each track to its fullest, being able to digest all the magical details that Ihsahn puts into his music. We are starting to like this approach to releasing new music, but are running out of space in our shelves thanks to all the different versions you can acquire.
In terms of the actual music, the release opens with “The Observer”, a very engaging and traditional Ihshan sounding music, perfectly blending complexly layered guitars and lush arrangements. Balancing both Extreme Metal and its crafty progressive elements, this opening track is quite engaging and dynamic. With a similar approach, “Contorted Monuments” nicely adds atmospheric elements to simple and yet super catchy guitars, with some excellent leads thrown into the mix.
Black Metal parody bands is something that one does not usually encounter, so it was quite interesting to hear Luteøks and their debut release: “Barely True Norwegian Black Metal”. Upon doing more research on the band and the release, we found out that the label, Nordic Mission, is an ‘extreme Christian Metal’ label and all members of Luteøks are also members of Grave Declaration, a fully Christian Metal band. However, moving that aside since we don’t care one bit, the music is actually really good and with plenty of familiar influences.
After a pummeling Old Man’s Child-esque intro with “Dritfjell”, the band fires up their old-school Norwegian BM chops with the very familiar opening minutes of “Sekken”. Every connoisseur of the genre will immediately pick up the familiar sounds the band manages to blend in together, particularly the Dimmu Borgir-esque nature of “Langbortistan” and its playful antics. We believe that some of the parody aspects might get lost in translation as almost all lyrics are in Norwegian.
Creating a totally unique and extremely well crafted intricate atmosphere, today we have Poland’s Entropia and their latest opus “Total”. Intelligently blending elements from Black, Sludge, and Post-Metal with avant-garde weirneds, the band unleashes five tracks and nearly 50 minutes of excellent music. If you are a fan of bands like Code, Ephel Duath, and Mord'A'Stigmata to name a few, you will love this release.
Opening with the crafty tempo changes of “Retox”, the band sets a very playful and yet intricate tone with lush atmospherics, masterfully layered guitars and intricate drumming. Weaving back and forth brutal onslaughts, the screams fit perfectly with this contrasting musical style as tracks like “Mania” and “Orbit” demonstrate. The band’s ability to merge dissonance with avant-garde weirdness is quite masterful.
It’s been a while since we reviewed an album from this studio project and with “Guardian of the Pale” we found ourselves going back to see what earlier releases we missed. Autumn Tears is a studio project of Ted Tringo, owner of Dark Symphonies, a label we loved in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that was producing/releasing some awesome ambient/gothic/atmospheric releases. In this double album, we get lush arrangements and magical compositions that bring back those early days when Neoclassical music was not as widely distributed in the ‘Metal world’.
Featuring guest appearances of artists like Francesca Nicoli (Ataraxia), Agnete Mangnes Kirkevaag (Madder Mortem) and Ann-Mari Edvardsen Alexis (The Third and The Mortal), the first part of this release is full of excellent atmospherics and delicate instrumentation. While each track is magical and delivers a unique cinematic context, we particularly love the dramatic choral arrangements of “Of Wind, Water and Sand”, the minimalist somberness of “Daydreaming in Ash Fields” and the fragility of “Lavender Mist”.
Just one year after releasing their first full-length release in 16 years, Germany’s Mystic Circle is back again with another crushing release: “Erzdämon”. Filled with the same energy and retro-ish vibe from their last release, this album unleashes 47 minutes of superbly crafty and catchy Melodic Black Metal with the signature Mystic Circle style. If you loved the band’s triumphant return, this release is along the same lines of brilliance.
Opening with the high-octane album title track, Graf von Beelzebub and Aaarrrgon deliver crafty atmospheric elements, epic melodic guitar riffs, and tight drumming. This track immediately makes the listener want to headbang with its engaging mixture of melody and aggression. With that retro Horror Metal edge that the band blends into their sound, tracks like “From Hell”, “The Unholy Trinity”, and “Scarecrow” keeps things lively with their catchiness.
Delivering punishing World War I-inspired Black Metal assaults, today we have Minenwerfer and their latest release “Feuerwalze”. Featuring seven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of crushing music, this release is both intense and ravaging thanks to the craftiness of the duo behind the band: Generalfeldmarschall Kriegshammer and Wachtmeister Verwüstung. If you like war-inspired themes alongside intense aural onslaughts, you can’t miss out on this one.
Quickly razing everything in their path, “Cemetery Fields” sets a high-octane tone to this release. Filled with thunderous drumming, piercing guitar riffs, and truly hellish vocals, the band belts out anthems like “Feuerwalze”, and “Eternal Attrition”, with the purpose of unleashing chaos. The band’s style is quite intense and piercing, while also refined and well produced, allowing the music to have maximum impact.
It has been a while since we heard from Downfall of Gaia and their uniquely devastating mixture of Atmospheric Black/Post-Black Metal with some Crust and Sludge elements. With “Silhouettes of Disgust” the band marks their return and they are thirsty for blood. Featuring 45 minutes and eight tracks of crushing music, the band creates a very hectic and demoralizing atmosphere with waves of punishing riffs, blistering drumming, and hellish vocals.
Opening with the powerful and melodic “Existence Of Awe”, the band sets on a crushing path with their signature Atmospheric nature alongside crafty aggression. The Punkish drumming of the opener and “The Whir of Flies” nicely gives that Euro Crust vibe, while perfectly blending in with the more traditional Black Metal elements. We particularly enjoy the band’s relentless tempo changes as they weave between high-octane sections to more introspective and melancholic passages.
Unleashing some of the most eerie and ritualistic Atmospheric Black Metal musings, today we have At The Altar of the Horned God and their sophomore release “Heart of Silence”. Released by I, Voidhanger Records, we instantly knew we were in for a totally unique and aurally impressive release. Mixing elements of bands like Urfaust and The Ruins of Beverast, this one-man battalion manages to craft forty minutes of highly magikal music.
Setting a very ritualistic and immersive vibe, “Listen” and “Closing Circle'' create a sinister atmosphere nicely outlined by creepy vocals and highly bipolar music ranging from simple percussions to full on BM riffs. The album title track nicely blends all these elements together with some chilling clean vocals and fierce heavy onslaughts, creating a very punishing and yet cathartic experience.
Hailing from Iceland, Úlfúð delivers one monumentally crushing debut full-length release with the piercing “Of Existential Distortion”. Featuring over 44 minutes and eight tracks of punishing and yet well polished Black/Death Metal, this album showcases the band’s vicious sound and thirst for destruction. With plenty of highly creative and musically proficient bands coming form this tiny country, it is time for Úlfúð to make themselves known.
Unleashing all hell with the brutal opener “Where Strange Lights Dance”, and followed up by “Tears of Terra”, the band sets a very high bar with relentless riffing onslaughts and pummeling drumming. The harsh vocals are quite aggressive, allowing tracks like “Mockery Theatre” and “Faceless” to be relentless aural onslaughts, similar to some of Behemoth’s outburst. However, the band’s core sound is quite characteristic and brutally enjoyable.
As to be expected from a Osmose Productions release, “Stigmata Mali” showcases Funeral Winds at their most devastating and demoralizing. Spewing eight tracks and nearly 35 minutes of punishing music, this release is crushing and powerful with a certain pestilent sound of 90’s raw Black Metal. If you are a fan of raw, uncompromising, and punishing music, this is certainly the release for you.
Blasting off with “Open the Wounds”, the first noticeable thing is the buzzing distorted guitars and hellish mixture of vocals, courtesy of the band’s founder Hellchrist Xul. The pace suddenly changes thanks to blistering onslaughts of brutality, particularly as the opener transitions into tracks like “Stigmata Mali”, “By These Hands, by Your Command”, and “Odious Emanations”.