Delivering waves of melancholic guitar leads and demoralizing Doom riffs. Today we have Greece’s Oceans of Grief with the excellent “Pale Existence”. Clocking in at 47 minutes, this release feels like a genetically engineered mixture of Insomnium with Hanging Garden, creating seven crushing songs. If you are a fan of the genre, this band perfectly balances melody, melancholy, and musicianship in one extremely polished package.
Opening with “Poetry For The Dead”, the band sets a very somber mood with atmospheric keyboards and crafty melodic passages. As the band warms up, “Dale of Haunted Shades” and “Unspoken Actions” perfectly deliver that blend of Melodic Death Metal with Death/Doom tempos, creating very cinematic and lush aural experiences. The third track even features Jari Lindholm of Enshine unleashing some excellent weeping guitar leads.
Delivering a quick and swift blow to the listener's morale, today we have Vermineux and Prieuré unleashing a hellish split release with two tracks from each band. Showcasing some of their most promising bands, Purity Through Fire created a very unique pairing and the perfect teaser with this release. If you like hellish and punishing Black Metal, this release will introduce you to two very interesting one-man battalions.
Opening the split we have Vermineux, hailing from the USA, and its crushing “Ashes” track. With a piercing lo-fi production, the BM riffing in this track is excellent and it pairs wonderfully with Spectre’s intense shrieks. The second track is a pretty decent cover of “Holocaust to the Natural Darkness” from Vlad Tepes, again showcasing raw power around a gritty sound.
Always surprising their listeners, Enslaved returns with yet another brilliant exercise in crafty Progressive Black/Viking Metal with “Heimdal”. Skillfully refining their sound over time, this release unleashes seven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of complex and yet digestible music that perfectly carries the band’s signature style with a few new surprises. Any fan of the band of the genre will be satisfied with this highly dynamic and engaging release.
Opening with “Behind The Mirror”, the band sets an atmospheric tone with the first minute before unleashing some superbly catchy riffs that slowly transform into sweeping melodic guitars to adorn the band’s signature clean vocal arrangements. The band’s sound is quite cinematic and crafty, with excellent layered guitars and a good dose of aggressive sections and growls, as we can hear in “Congelia”,”Forest Dweller” and the proggy/psychedelic catchiness of “Kingdom”.
Unleashing a masterful Atmospheric Black Metal masterpiece, today we have Italy’s Morwinyon and their sophomore release “Wastelands”. Featuring both members of Falaise, this band is more of an outlet for more traditional Atmospheric BM without (too much of) the shoegaze and Post-BM elements. Think more along the lines of Saor and Winterfylleth, with tons of atmospherics. If you are a fan of the genre, the band manages to deliver quite engaging and immersive tracks that will transport you for a magical forty-plus minutes.
The release kicks-off with towering atmospheric keyboards and the crafty riffs of “Devouring Flames”. There is a certain ethereal mood that quickly sets, even after the harsh vocals and aggressive drumming start to gain momentum. The release is very well mixed, with the atmospheric layer front and center, while the guitars and screams provide additional textures and change the tempos, as we can hear on “Wastelands” and “An Agonized Look”, both of which remind us a bit of Lustre.
Mostly stable line-ups and consistency have been the fundamental pillars behind Insomnium and their music. For “Anno 1696” the band continues to deliver their highly melancholic Melodic Death Metal but with a few additional elements that nicely revamp their signature style and keeps it fresh. The majority of die-hard fans for the band will find what they want here, but it also provides that little extra that for some of us that were looking for something a bit different.
Opening with “1696” we get mood setting clean guitars and atmospherics that quickly transform into Melodic Death Metal bliss with the signature Insomnium riffing. However, the band chooses to go faster rather than safe and typical, creating a bit of a different pace before settling into their traditional superbly melodic leads and headbanging passages. Having a couple of guests like Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ) and Johanna Kurkela on “White Christ” and “Godforsaken” respectively, gives the band a different edge while still oozing melancholy.
Immediately doing a double take to figure out if Garm from Ulver was singing on this one, Anatomy of Habit unleashes their latest release “Black Openings”. Creating a very unique and intricate atmosphere, this release delivers over 38 minutes of an experimental amalgamation of Doom, Post-Punk, Drone, and a few other genres. If you like hypnotic music with singular vocals and crafty instrumentation, you can’t miss out on this one.
Opening with the engaging “Black Openings”, the band quickly sets a very mellow mood that slowly progresses as it hooks the listener with its mystery. As Mark Solotroff vocals come on, the listener will immediately think of Ulver as he sounds just like Garm. However, this is not the only stand-out element from the music as it brilliantly layers tons of elements like a vibraphone, lap steel, and analog synths to create a nice and warm loungey vibe.
Creating a truly unique and somewhat demented release, today we have the enigmatic The Lovecraft Sextet and their latest EP “Black†White”. Featuring two tracks of pure jazzy madness, this EP delivers a digestible entry into the highly mysterious and chaotic world of Jason Köhnen. Filled with atmospheric weirdness, this release is certainly not for the close minded, as it embarks the listener on an aural journey.
Fronted by Karl Willetts, Memoriam has consistently released in-your-face old-school Death Metal releases for a few years now, and with “Rise to Power” they continue leveling everything in their way. Featuring eight tracks and over 45 minutes of headbanging bliss, this release brings back nostalgic times while keeping up with the times with a superb production and a more melodic edge.
Opening with “Never Forget, Never Again (6 Million Dead)”, we get a high-octane track with punishing guitars and crafty drums, perfectly paired with Karl’s signature snarl. There are definitely some Bolt Thrower influences here and there, but the band zeroes in on heavy, well-crafted, and intense pieces like “Total War”, “I am the Enemy”, and the sinister “The Conflict Is Within” and its chuggy riffs.
Dramatic openings of songs like “Your Stories I’ll Remember” and “Paradise” perfectly showcase the band’s versatility and cinematic nature, making their sound one of the best in the scene. While many bands in the genre have opted to add more Pop-ish elements into their music, Xandria keeps things strictly Symphonic Metal with a good dose of intensity and additional instrumentation, as “The Maiden and the Child” and “Astèria” showcase.
After an acoustic opener, “State of Slow Decay” quickly delivers some chuggy guitars that suddenly transform into your quintessential Swedish old-school Melodic Death Metal riffs. This immediately caught us by surprise as the song continues to be quite effective, and even impressive with the killer twin guitar leads. Before quickly agreeing that the hype is real, there are still some of the more modern Core-ish elements that will scare purists away as one notices on “Meet Your Maker” and “Bleeding Out”.
Making a comeback after six years and a completely new line-up, today we have Marco Heubaum and Xandria with “The Wonders Still Awaiting”. Featuring 74 minutes of intense and bombastic music, the band is ready to continue their story and unleash upon fans of the genre lush orchestrations and dramatic arrangements.
Opening with the explosive “Two Worlds”, we are instantly reminded of the band’s knack for dramatic vocal arrangements alongside heavy distorted guitars and growls thrown into the mix. While the band’s style remains at its core the same, there is a certain freshness that new vocalist Ambre Vourvahis brings into the mix. Tracks like “Reborn”, “You Will Never Be Our God”, and “Ghosts” are perfect examples of their dynamic songwriting and perfectly managed tempo changes.