With the Progressive/Technical Death Metal scene getting crowded, it is hard to find releases that are both excellently crafted and technically proficient. It takes good musicians to do the latter, but an excellent band to do first. France’s Fractal Universe have been slowly refining their trade and with “The Impassable Horizon” the band reaches new heights. Rivaling cohesive albums from bands like Between the Buried and Me and Obscura, this release is brilliant in all its aspects.
Opening with “Autopoiesis”, we instantly get blistering onslaughts of crafty drumming, intense guitar solos and a wide variety of crushing vocal arrangements. Not stopping at just awesome, “A Clockwork Expectation”, “Interfering Spherical Scenes”, and “Symmetrical Masquerade” perfectly blend virtuosity with excellent songwriting skills. With influences ranging from more traditional Tech Death Metal, to Jazzy and even Groove/Djent Meshuggah-esque elements, each track is a unique and expansive musical journey.
For those of us that like weird music that pushes the boundaries while keeping Metal elements in the mix, Thy Catafalque has been delivering highly innovative releases over the years. Tamás Kátai returns after one year since the band’s last release with “Vadak”, featuring over 62 minutes of captivating and yet difficult to digest music. If you like the band’s brand of weirdness, you know that this release will demand your full attention for more than a few dozen spins to be fully digested and appreciated.
After setting a weird and futuristic sounding mood with the first few minutes of “Szarvas”, the jazzy weirdness instantly takes center stage as the track is quite intricate and yet delicate. As you can imagine, elements are mixed from all kinds of genres, and the resulting amalgamation mixes harsh BM screams with jazzy/proggy influences. Completely flipping the script, “Köszöntsd a hajnalt” has a nice Eluveitie folky vibe, while “Gömböc” mixes heavier Death Metal-esque elements with funky instrumental passages.
Further settling into their own brand of Black Metal, Eisenkult delivers their excellent sophomore release “...vom Himmel, hoch herab”. With a mixture of old-school Black/Symphonic Black Metal with some Eisregen-like theatrics, this release unleashes 41 minutes of crafty music that is both fierce and playful enough to entice listeners that like the more bizarre side of the genres they cover.
After the 8-bit/MIDI vibe from the instrumental opener “Einklang”, “Ein Leib, ein Feuer” delivers Eisregen-esque onslaughts of harsh screams, playful tempo changes and crafty drumming. The band’s sound is quite melodic in nature, but the bizarreness of the mixture of elements really works to separate them from the pack. The versatility of the band can quickly be noticed as “Ein Brunnen voller Aas” unleashes traditional old-school BM fury with piercing riffs and a great sense of melody.
Unleashing a very unique brand of Black’n’Roll with Groove Metal elements, Denmark’s Angstskríg manages to inject extra catchiness to an already catchy subgenre of Black Metal. Featuring six tracks and plenty of guests, “Skyggespil” is an engaging and highly unconventional killer release.
From the start, the album title track takes on guitar-driven Black Metal reminiscent of older Immortal and Satyricon, but introducing additional grooviness, making their music quite catchy and yet incisive. The vocalist snarls are the perfect fit for the guest appearance of usually live-guitarist Attila Vörös. Showing more of the band’s own brand of chaos, “Uhygge” is an excellent old-school BM piece filled with a pulsating bass guitar line and some interesting surprises as the song progresses, touching some decadent Gothic influences.
Delivering over 55 minutes of lush and epic Atmospheric Black Metal with some Dungeon Synth elements, today we have Firienholt and their debut full-length release “By the Waters of Awakening”. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Bal-Sagoth, Summoning, Enid, and Mortis, this release creates a very regal and epic atmosphere that immerses the listener into the band’s musical realm.
Opening with the lush “A Forgotten Legacy”, which sets a very cinematic and dramatic atmosphere that is led by over-the-top synths and crafty drum programming. With nearly all songs being over 10 minutes each, tracks like “War of Wrath, War of Ruin” and “Ashes of the Golden Hall”, slowly develop via melodic passages into heavier territories with the use of harsh vocals and imposing guitars with some BM riffs thrown into the mix.
Unleashing the most impressive Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal release of 2021 (to date), today we have Finland’s Marras and their sophomore release “Endtime Sermon”. Comparable to outfits like Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Graveworm (old), etc., this release delivers 44 minutes of lush and yet highly aggressive music. Being far from a copy-cat band, Marras makes the genre their own and creates their own signature style in this crushing release.
Opening with a cinematic intro, “Shadows Upon the Sacred Land” quickly escalates into furious riffing and hellish vocals, first showcasing the aggressive side of the band. We particularly love that the band splits the release into ‘movements’ with a few instrumental/atmospheric interludes as tracks 2,6, 8 and 10. After the first interlude, “Endtime Sermon” returns with a killer mixture of dramatic atmospheric/keyboard arrangements alongside crafty tempo changes, piercing riffs and a mixture of growls and harsh screams.
Unleashing a very unique and disturbing combination of Black Metal, Death Metal, and some atmospheric elements, today we have France’s Archaeopteris and their debut EP “Visions chaotiques d´un songe halluciné”. With a short but chaotic duration, this release delivers both aggression and extreme weirdness. Definitely recommended for fans of the bizarre and unconventional.
Opening with “Visions Chaotiques”, after a short atmospheric intro, the band instantly dives into the depths of hell with a fierce combination of punishing riffs and crafty drums. Far from traditional, this track changes tempos very oddly, creating a very cavernous and yet disturbing atmosphere. The second song, “Songe Halluciné” leads with lush acoustic guitars as it quickly transitions into piercing aggressive guitars and deep harsh screams.
One man Italian outfit The Nightly Disease is ready for the spotlight with their excellent debut full-length release “Delicate White Sound”. Unleashing nearly 40 minutes of highly intoxicating atmospheric music, this release delicately blends Doom and Atmospheric Metal with additional instrumental elements. While many bands seem formulaic in nature, this one-man project carves very unique moods through the four tracks presented here.
After creating an eerie atmosphere with its first few minutes, the first part slowly transforms into a doomier version of older Burzum music. The hypnotic drums and guitars create a very regal and yet piercing vibe. We particularly enjoy the Doomy vibe the song features in its second half, as it nicely progresses with the acoustic guitars and more ambient elements of the second part.
Unleashing one of the most dreamy and melancholic releases of 2021, today we have ISON with “Aurora”. After the departure of original vocalist Heike Langhans, many of us were concerned about what direction (If any) this project from Daniel Änghede would take. Instead of finding a new singer, ISON enlisted eight unique singers from different bands/projects around the world to bring additional life to its very ethereal music. The result is one hell of an album that any fan of the band will certainly love.
The sidereal journey commences with the dreamy opening of “Jupiter”, as the track progresses distorted guitars lead the way alongside Vila’s dreamy vocals. Signaling things to come, this track sets a very hypnotic mood that is continued with the drony opening of “Waves” and the sultry vocals of Cammie Gilbert. Filled with emotive arrangements and a mellow pace, the album title track brilliantly combines Lisa Cuthbert’s vocals alongside Daniel’s in a very.
After touring the world with their “Pumpkins United” line-up, Helloween returns to unleash their eponymous release, with Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske, and Andi Deris, all sharing vocal duties. For nearly 70 minutes, the band delivers 12 doses of high-octane Power Metal with one of the most epicly stacked vocal line-up for a non-project band. Featuring something for everybody, this release will please almost any fan of the band over their nearly 30-year career.
Opening with the epic “Out for the Glory”, you get that sensation of excitement as the track slowly builds up with crafty instrumentation, blistering guitars and soaring vocals. We wouldn't expect anything less from such a legendary band, and yet Helloween blows past any preconceived expectations as to how the multiple vocalist’s approach would work with solid tracks like “Fear of the Fallen”, “Best Time”, “Mass Pollution”, and “Angels”.