Unleashing one of the most cathartic albums of 2020, today we have October Falls and their latest opus “A Fall of an Epoch”. Seven years since their last release, the band returns with their blend of Atmospheric/Folky Black Metal that perfectly combines elements from bands like Ensiferum with the more vicious onslaughts of outfits like Behexen and Horna. With a hefty dosage of brutality and crafty introspective passages, this release will command your full attention for nearly 55 minutes.
The album kicks off with the bleak acoustic guitars of the title track, this solemn peace suddenly transforms in all-out- brutality with crushing riffs, blistering drums, and punishing screams. Within the all-out pummeling onslaught, there is a very nice melodic delineation that has that Folk/Pagan Metal vibe as it contrasts with melodic passages. On a slower tone, “The Endtimes Rising” delivers a nice blend of incisive guitar riffs and harsh screams, perfectly framed on a more melodic drum track.
As one of the most expect releases of 2020, today we have Iceland/Germany’s Árstíðir lífsins and their “Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir” release. With a very enigmatic and ritualistic approach, this band’s Black Metal onslaughts are perfectly flanked by rich lyrics and lush mood setting atmospheric passages. If you are looking for an intense release that sets a very dark tone by mixing plenty of different elements with crushing Black Metal, you do not want to miss out on this one.
Building an eerie atmosphere in its two first tracks, the band creates a killer anticipation for the ‘heavier’ stuff, as “Sem járnklær nætr dragask nærri” rolls. With a relentless drumming backdrop and pummeling riffs, this track sets a very punishing mood that is perfectly complemented by creepy choir arrangements and a sinister pace. With “Gamalt ríki faðmar þá grænu ok svǫrtu hringi lífs ok aldrslita” the band keeps their destructive momentum going with waves of energetic guitar riffs and crafty tempo changes. As the song progresses, you get a very epic vibe that usually Pagan BM bands manage to craft.
Always surprising us with their excellent taste in music, LifeForce Records is prepared to unleash “Sateet palata saavat”, Finland’s Vorna’s latest effort. Magically combining elements of Folk/Pagan/Black Metal in a very atmospheric palette of sounds, this release delivers over 50 minutes of superbly melodic music. The closest band to Vorna’s sound that comes to mind has to be Eternal Tears of Sorrow and their highly diverse sound. This should let you know you are in for a treat with this album.
After the traditional mood setting intro, “Toinen” delivers the first onslaught of atmospheric brilliance. Creating a very moody and mystical atmosphere, the band pummels the listener with superb drumming, heavy riffs, and harsh vocals. The swings between lush melodic keyboard arrangements, harsh/clean vocals, and intense riffing, are just magical, creating a very immersive and engaging experience as heard on both “Toinen” and “Syvyydet”.
Hailing from the Netherlands, today we have Pagan Metal outfit Nodfyr and their highly engaging and very promising two-song EP titled “In Een Andere Tijd”. Bringing back a certain sound and vibe that we haven’t heard since the late 90’s with bands like Yearning and a few of their Holy Records label mates. Mixing epic clean singing with lush atmospheric elements and a tight Pagan Metal core, this band will certainly catch your attention and standout from the rest.
Led by the highly distinctive vocals of Joris van Gelre (Wederganger, ex-Heidevolk), the album starts with a very basic and yet catchy melody that is perfectly enhanced by Folky guitar leads and very regal clean vocals. The additional string instruments and vocal arrangements add a very lush atmospheric layer to this track, creating a truly memorable and engaging song that will get stuck in your head for days.
Featuring a very unique mixture of elements, today we have Æra and their debut EP titled “Of Forsworn Vows”. Combining elements from 90’s Black Metal with more modern Pagan Metal elements, this release unleashes over 20 minutes of highly addictive music that is quite epic and engaging. For fans of bands like Borknagar and early Emperor to outfits like Thyrfing, this release will certainly fit very well on your collection.
Opening with the powerful atmospheric elements of “An Affirmation of Forsworn Vows”, the band makes a bit splash with tense keyboards and a very melodic core. The riffing reminds us of bands like Falkenbach, which is straightforward but very melodic in nature. The vocals are quite fitting and add that extra layer of power to this impressive song as it weaves back and forth between different tempos.
Delivering over 55 minutes of superbly catchy Black/Pagan/Viking Metal, today we have France’s Vindland and their debut full-length release “Hanter Savet”. With the current influx of brilliant French bands to the Metal scene, it is not surprising that this band is a good as they are. Perfectly capturing the essence of bands like Kampfar, Windir, Thyrfing, this band has managed to craft nine excellent songs that will have you headbanging from start to end.
Opening with some great intensity, “Orin Kozh” immediately sets the pace for quite a hectic and yet melodic release. The band perfectly weaves back and forth between full-on Metal sections and more subtle Folk-ish influences. The incisive riffing is exactly what makes this release quite melodic and enjoyable, similar to what one would expect from the genre. Tracks like “Treuzwelus”, “Serr-Noz” and “Pedenn Koll” really showcase how the band excels in writing cunning songs that are quite enjoyable and satisfying.
Hailing from the UK and arriving trough Eternal Death records, today we have a very entertaining 7” release from The Wolves of Avalon. Fronted by none other than Metatron of The Meads of Asphodel fame, this band plays a mean Pagan/Black Metal that invokes some similarities to the likes of Primordial. Featuring two songs, this release is quite entertaining and a must-have for die-hard collectors of vinyl.
Opening on side A with the “Die Hard” cover, the band perfectly captures the old-school Thrash/Black Metal sound of Venom. Adding the special participation of vocalists Rob Miller (Amebix), Alan Averill (Primordial), Mirai (Sigh), and Mantas doing some vocals and also handling some guitars, this cover is an excellent modern version of the original classic.
Germany’s Helrunar is by far the least imaginative and most straightforward band in the Lopus Lounge stable of great musical acts. However, there are some decent moments and redeeming qualities that make this band good enough for us to review them over countless others we receive every day. Featuring eight track and around 56 minutes of music, this album marks the band’s first full-length release in nearly four year.
The album’s opener, “Niederkunfft” nicely provides a window to the band’s musical approach and unluckily everything else will sound quite familiar. There are some nice chilling elements here and there like the creepy atmosphere and the closing of “Totentanz”, but the vanilla tracks like “Der Endkrist” leave a lot to be desired based on Prophecy productions/Lopus Lounge standards. Other pieces like the doomy “Devils, Devils Everywhere!” have nice riffs but some very silly passages that quickly reduce the listener’s desire to stay engaged in the music.
As one of the most polarizing bands in the world, Alestorm returns with their whacky pirate metal with “Sunset on the Golden Age”. Setting sails with 11 very odd tracks, the band continues to expand their sound with some new influences, and further refines their craft with more direct and enjoyable anthems of drinking, pillaging, and some more drinking. If you have always been a supporter of the band, you will notice how well they have evolved into an outfit that crafts very interesting songs that are quite technically proficient as well as engaging and catchy.
Instantly making an impact with the festive “Walk the Plank”, we have a traditional Heavy Metal-influenced song that features thunderous guitars and a chorus section that will make you raise your fist and start chanting. The album’s first stand-out single: “Drink,” is a superbly crafted catchy tune that will make you drink alcohol non-strop. Featuring several ‘wenches’ in the official video of the song, this is one hell of a party song that you don’t want to miss out on.
Going in the stack of ‘why the hell is this band not signed yet’ promos, today we have Belgiums Natan and their sophomore release “Às”. With over 45 minutes of a very unique blend of Pagan Metal, Black Metal, and tons of Avant-garde influences, this release is one of the few that immediately caught our attention and we have been listening to it non-stop. Having a bit of everything for everybody, this band has a truly unique style that is impressively well-crafted.
Opening with a bang, “Asch” immediately reminds us of Greece’s Aenaon and their very crafty music. The riffing is quite funky and the vocals very harsh, giving a very unique and somewhat progressive vibe to the music. The addition of the clean vocals really gives the band an extra dimension that your average band usually lacks. The intense “Ride Out!” gives us very cool tempo changes and powerful riffs constructed in a very unique and progressive way, reminding us of Enslaved at points.