Album Reviews

  • Zeal and Ardor - Zeal and Ardor (2022)

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    When it comes to bending Metal into all kinds of weird directions, there is no other band like Zeal and Ardor. By fusing Blues, Gospel, and Soul music elements with harsher Black Metal and even some Progressive/Djent influences this outfit has delivered quite unique releases over the years. With their eponymous release the band further matures into their signature style by crafting 14 diverse and engaging tracks.

    After setting a very engaging vibe in the self-titled opener track, “Run” delivers the first dynamic piece with crafty guitars and a plethora of vocal styles. Perfectly growing in momentum and delivering some heavy passages along the way, “Death to the Holy” has some of the band’s earliest elements of Bluesy Black Metal, while “Emersion” has a more Dream Pop edge that transforms into a dreamy Deafheaven-esque aggression.

  • Immolation - Acts of God (2022)

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    Chugging through fifteen tracks of traditional Death Metal, today we have the legendary Immolation and their eleventh full-length release “Actos of God”. Always keeping things interesting and brutal, the nearly one hour of music unleashed in this release perfectly captures the band’s signature sound while keeping things fresh and engaging.

    Ross Dolan and Robert Vigna have been unleashing crafty Death Metal songs for over two decades and with “Acts of God” they show the band is not slowing down or have fallen behind the times. Pieces like the crushing “An Act of God”, “Nose of Thorns”, to the massive “Immortal Stain” are perfect examples of experiences, timelessness and viciousness, delivering piercing guitar riffs and masterfully crafted drums.

  • Mystic Circle - Mystic Circle (2022)

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    Just like no time has passed since their last release…sixteen years ago, Germany’s Mystic Circle returns with their explosive brand of Melodic Black/Death Metal. With their eponymous release, the band continues their journey unleashing nearly 50 minutes of high-octane music. For the uninitiated, this band was torching stages with their unique sound back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s before splitting up for quite a while.

    There is a certain charm to the sound behind those legendary late 90’s early 2000’s Melodic Black/Death Metal releases from bands like Catamenia, Agathodaimon, Siebenbürgen, Old Man's Child, etc, and this release perfectly captures it as “Belial Is My Name” delivers its first notes. The melodic nature of pieces like “Seven Headed Dragon” and “Letters from the Devil”, give that devilish sinister vibe the band has imprinted in their early releases.

  • Celeste - Assassine(s) (2022)

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    On their first release as part of Nuclear Blast Records, France’s Celeste unleashes “Assassine(s)”, a vibrant 40+ minutes release blending their Black Metal with Post-Metal/Sludge influences. The band creates a very unique and punishing sound, filled with harsh vocals and crafty riffing, creating an unparalleled wall of sound and destruction.

    The release fully kicks off with the intricate drumming of “Des torrents de coups”, which leads way to incisive guitars and crafty tempo changes. Picture listening to Cult of Luna with an Amenra edge. As the riffing barrage fully warms up, tracks like “De tes yeux bleus perlés”, “Nonchalantes de beauté”, and “Draguée tout au fond”, further develop the band’s massive sound with piercing onslaughts of crushing guitar work.

  • Silhouette - Les Retranchements (2022)

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    Pumping freshness into the Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal genre, today we have newcomers Silhouette and their disarming debut release “Les Retranchements”. With a well defined core of BM onslaughts and harsh vocals, the band adds a layer of angelic female vocals to create a very powerful and effective mix. Think of the short-lived Asphodèle but with a more depressive/atmospheric edge.

    Opening with “Ascension”, a very dreamy mood is set thanks to subtle guitars and Lilas Dupont’s siren-like vocals. The band’s elements mesh quite well, as tracks like “La Première Neige” deliver the ferocity some expect with relentless aggressive onslaughts, perfectly flanked by slower and dreamier passages, creating a very bleak soundscape. Keeping things simple and direct, pieces like “Au Seuil de l'Oubli” and “L'Etreinte de la Chute” are quite melancholic and magical.

  • The Mist from the Mountains - The Mist from the Mountains (2022)

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    Creating a very unique and timeless-sounding release, today we have Finland’s The Mist from the Mountains and their eponymous debut full-length album. Mixing elements from old-school Borknagar and Arcturus with the ferocity and melody of the modern Black Metal of bands like Uada and Mgła, this release delivers nearly 40 minutes of pure musical bliss.

    After a folky build up, “Empyrean Fields” grows into an all-out head banging section with catchy riffs and intense drumming. Here is where that Mgła/Uada melodic (and yet blistering) style blends into the band’s late 90’s/early 2000’s Nordic BM influences as pieces like “A Paean to Fire” and “Thus Spake the Tongueless Serpent” deliver that dynamism that soaring clean vocals and crafty instrumental and atmospheric arrangements bring to the table.

  • Persefone - Metanoia (2022)

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    Over four years have passed since Persefone’s last release, and with “Metanoia”, the band shows the wait was more than worth it. Unleashing nearly one hour of high-octane Melodic/Progressive/Technical Death Metal, this Andorran outfit delivers ten expertly crafted songs filled with intricate details and superb catchiness. If you thought their previous releases were awesome, you are in for a treat with this one.

    After the title track atmospheric opener, “Katabasis” shows that if you didn’t think the band’s sound could get any better, you are completely wrong as Einar Solberg’s vocals fully elevate it to new dimensions. Apart from the epic guest vocals, the perfect balance of musical wizardry and harshness is front and center on tracks like “Architecture of the I”, the quirky “Aware of Being Watched”, and the album's first single “Merkabah”.

  • Amorphis - Halo (2022)

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    Just when you think that Amorphis music can not get any better, the band comes out with their killer latest release “Halo”. Dropping over 55 minutes of stellar music, the band continues to deliver polished, highly melodic, and extremely intoxicating Melodic Metal songs. Full of the epic vibe that the band’s releases carry, this album takes things further with even more bombastic arrangements and soaring vocal melodies.

    Quickly warming up, “Northwards” delivers epic arrangements on top of the band’s traditional bombastic sound. Thanks to killer guitars provided by Esa Holopainen (leads) and Tomi Koivusaari (melodic), the band’s signature sound stays intact, with a few additions of more folky elements courtesy of Santeri Kallio’s synths on pieces like “On the Dark Waters”, “A New Land”, “War”, and “When the Gods Came”.

  • Hanging Garden - Neither Moth nor Rust (2022)

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    Keeping themselves busy during the last couple of years, Finland’s Hanging Garden is set to unleash their latest EP titled “Neither Moth nor Rust”. After their very impressive 2021 release, this EP delivers around 25 minutes of highly dynamic and engaging music, with a well balanced mixture of Gothic and Doom Metal influences, this album reminds us of late Theater of Tragedy, To/Die/For/ and Beseech releases.

    Creating a very somber and yet lively atmosphere, the album title track delivers a well balanced mix of growls and clean male and female vocals, alongside engaging and catchy music. This playful vibe continues on tracks like the dreamy “The Last Dance”, and the atmospheric “And Leave All Love Behind”, showcasing the band’s versatility and craftiness to write highly emotional and yet diverse songs.

  • Vastatum - Mercurial States of Revelation (2022)

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    Unleashing the perfect mixture of atmosphere and crushing aggression, today we have newcomers Vastatum and their debut full-length release “Mercurial States of Revelation”. Hailing from Canada, this duo has crafted a very unique mixture of old-school Scandinavian Black Metal with a modern and melodic twist that needs to be heard.

    Opening with the momentum builder “Nascent Mother of Night”, the listener is treated to an enveloping atmosphere led by melodic guitar riffs and sinister malice. The eerie mixture of clean and harsh vocals greatly enhances the atmosphere, creating a cavernous vibe similar to The Ruins of Beverast alongside a more straightforward instrumentation. This whirlwind experience is masterfully carried forward on pieces like the “Fall With Seclusion” and the devilish “Mortal Abrogation”.

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