Packed with tons of great releases, this 2018 fall also gives us a brand new Sylvaine album. Filled with her characteristic charisma and angelic vocals, “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone” is another brilliant step in her career which features a more consolidated sound and plenty of memorable songs. The combination of fragility, craftsmanship and occasional burst of aggression make this release one of the best albums of 2018.
Opening with the album title track, Sylvaine slowly builds up with an intense bass guitar line that leads into dreamy vocal arrangements a very melancholic pace. The track continues with some brilliant instrumental passages that feel exploratory in nature, but very well fitting to the overall mood of the song. The Shoegazey/Post-Rock-y vibe arrives in full force with “Mørklagt” a very lush track that explores the more ethereal side of Sylvaine’s music, but not without some heavier sections thrown into the mix.
After unleashing one of the most gargantuan releases of 2013 with “Pelagial”, The Ocean comes back at us with part one (out of two) of the “Phanerozoic” releases. Intended to be in the middle of their “Precambrian” and “Heliocentric” / “Anthropocentric” releases, both conceptually and musically, this album showcases the band crafting their signature enigmatic atmospheres surrounded by heavy crushing riffs and melancholic vocal melodies.
Slowly building up in the opener “The Cambrian Explosion”, we are treated to an atmospheric opening with playful synths that creates tension and expectation. Things blow wide open on “Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence” as we are greeted with powerful guitar riffs and intricate drumming. This lush track perfectly layers the aggressive wall of sound with a combination of harsh growls and fragile clean vocal arrangements. Full of surprises, the band’s music is very carefully crafted to feature playful elements that are slowly discovered the more times you listen to each track.
Back in the day when we started listening to Metal music, a loooong time ago, we remember having a tape of the Unleashed debut “Where No Life Dwells” and worshipping their ‘different’ sounding Death Metal music (in comparison to their American counterparts). Fast forward 27 years and the band’s sound is still timeless and equally punishing. With “The Hunt for the White Christ” the band continues to spread that heavy and crunchy old-school Swedish Death metal sound.
Bursting at the listener with “Lead us Into War”, we are instantly enveloped by the band’s sinister old-school sound. The guitars are flowing, the pace is hecting and the timeless vocals of Johnny Hedlund rattle our speakers as tracks like “You Will Fall” and “Stand Your Ground” demolish our eardrums. We particularly enjoy songs like “Gram” were the riffing is vicious and more mellow passages are perfectly introduced to keep the listener guessing and never bored.
Morten Veland and company have been quite busy since their last release and now presents us with another master class of Symphonic/Gothic Metal with “Arcane Astral Aeons”. Featuring nearly one hour of music, this release continues the band’s exploration of highly atmospheric and energetic music through 12 excellent songs.
The band kicks off with the lush “In Styx Embrace” in typical Sirenia style with a heavy hitting super catchy tune filled with dramatic choir arrangements and piercing distorted guitars. Continuing with the hectic pace and dramatic orchestral arrangements, “Into the Night” is perfectly led by Emmanuelle Zoldan’s charismatic vocals. The way that the band’s music envelops the listener in over the top atmospheric elements is brilliant and one of the reasons we love the band’s music.
Right up there with Behemoth, Vader and Hate, Outre is one of the most brutal and demoralizing Metal bands to come out of the Polish scene. Delivering another ravaging release with “Hollow Earth”, the band focuses on unleashing pummeling tracks filled with hate and destruction. Greatly improved from their 2015 debut “Ghost Chants”, the band is here to stay and level audiences and listeners in their path.
Setting the mood with a foul atmospheric intro, the release does not wait to hit hard with the blistering pace of “The Order of Abhorrence”. The band’s new vocalist, Mateusz Zborowski, keeps things interesting with a wide range of styles and levels of intensity that perfectly drive the aggression of the musical foundation. The guitar work in this release is exemplary as layers upon layers of distortion and crafted to create very thick and demoralizing walls of sound, like on “Combustion” and “Let the Earth Be Silent”.
Unleashing a very lively proggy release with “Aeon Chaser”, Norway’s Oberon self-labels their music a Gnostic Rock and they are not very far from the truth. Exploring a wide palette of sounds in their 11 songs, the band perfectly pairs acoustic passages with tons of atmospheric elements alongside a Progressive/Folk Rock core. In a similar vein than bands like Anathema, this release contains very well crafted songs that have a high replay value.
Opening with the dreamy “Omega”, we are instantly taken on a very trippy journey with songs that remind us of outfits like Yes and Marillion. The band’s progressive core allows them to craft intricate songs like “Walk in Twilight”, “The Secret Fire” and “Surrender” filled with memorable guitar melodies and soaring vocal arrangements. For those that like dreamier songs, “To Live to Die” crafts a very delicate atmosphere that nicely progresses as layers of additional elements like subtle piano arrangements are introduced.
Always challenging listeners with truly unique and very interesting releases, today Prophecy Productions brings us Nochnoy Dozor and their self-titled debut album. Mixing tons of atmospheric elements with Rock and Doom influences, this six song EP is one very crafty and engaging release. While the music is quite excellent, what distinguishes the band is the dual vocalist approach that fully develops the listener on very sultry and melancholic ride.
The release opens with “Black Hand” a very enigmatic piece filled with lush vocal melodies and very moody music that sets a very lounge-y tone. Lina and Revekka have great chemistry and it shines in songs like “Stains”, where they sections perfectly complement each other and create a very playful dynamic in the duet passages. Moving on to Doomier territories, “Closer” and “All Mine” feature heavy distorted riffs and a sound similar to outfits like Subrosa, Black Mare and Bathsheba.
What better way to end a side project/temp band than with an epic release. Unfortunately, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra deliver their swan song with “II”. Featuring all the current members of Jess and the Ancient Ones, this band delivered unparalleled Psychedelic Rock experiences through their highly atmospheric and very emotional music. The seven tracks in this release perfectly craft a sultry and enigmatic atmosphere that is quite unique and intoxicating.
Leading the way with “Those of Us Left”, Jess enigmatic vocals hypnotize the listener as they waltz through moody melodies. This first track perfectly sets the ambiance for the more upbeat psychedelics of “Belladona”, a song that bring more of a J.A.T.A.O vibe to this release thanks to its playful keyboards and sultry pace. Providing an Opium-fueled experience, the lush “Harmain” is the perfect chill-out piece for those long nights at work.
There are only a handful of people in the Metal scene that rock as hard as Floor Jansen with her vocal talents and intense stage presence. In her new band, Northward, she unleashes 11 tracks that reflect this hard rocking attitude with tons of brilliant vocal arrangements and catchy guitar melodies. Moving away from the direction of ReVamp and Nightwish, this track delivers some straight up Rock tunes that showcase her versatility and energy, alongside guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad of Pagan’s Mind fame.
The album sets a very lively mood from the start with superbly catchy and filled with attitude tunes like “While Love Died” and “Get What You Give”. The soaring vocal melodies of “Storm in a Glass” make it one of the most engaging and dynamic songs in this release, while taking the listener on a musical journey. For those that like power ballads, “Paragon” and “Bridle Passion” give the listener a more raw and direct appreciation of Floor’s charismatic vocals.
After captivating audiences with their insane ‘Blackjazz’ style (and release), the band continues to push their own musical horizons with a Hard Rocking release titled “Animal”. Always evolving in styles, the band now pursues a more ‘normal’ sound that keep their catchiness but tunes down the madness while delivering an in-your-face attitude. Don’t get us wrong, this release is awesome, but in its own different context.
Opening with “Take Me”, the band’s use of synths made us believe they decided to go the Ulver route and play some synth pop, but instead they kept this heavier and sound like Pain and similar Industrial/Electronic Metal bands. While it can take a bit to adjust, the album title track provides the perfect transition into their Hard Rock style with catchy guitar sections and the highly recognizable vocal melodies of Jørgen Munkeby.