• Grey November – The Fall of the House of Usher (2011)


    All the way from France, today we have Grey November and their latest full-length release “The Fall of the House of Usher”. This two person band commanded by multi-instrumentalist Cédric Seyssiecq delivers a much needed dose of Funeral Doom Metal with some Gothic Doom elements filled with melancholy and despair, just perfect for the cold winter months.

    Opening with the 12 minute epic “Pendant Toute Une Journée D'automne”, this song nicely evolves from a Funeral Doom piece into a more powerful Gothic Doom track. Featuring the angelic vocals of Marieke Delanghe, this song nicely builds up expectation for what is next to come in this release. Continuing with a mixture of Shape of Despair and Elend, “Roderick Usher” provides atmospheric keyboards accompanied by ethereal female vocals and some creepy spoken male sections. A few riffs here and there nicely bring this song down to Doom territory.

  • Klabautamann - The Old Chamber (2011)


    Delivering 47 minutes of forward-thinking Black Metal, today we have Germany’s Klabautamann and their very interesting “The Old Chamber” release. While every other BM band is trying to be more evil than the others, it is very nice to hear so many bands from Germany (like Farsot, etc) that are trying to keep alive a genre that is plagued by bad songwriting and toilet-sounding low-fi releases. With “The Old Chamber”, the band manages sound a bit like Primordial but keeping a bigger Black Metal edge.

    With “Mary’s Abbey” the band delivers commanding riffs and hellish vocals nicely surrounded by a dense atmosphere. The guitar work is excellent and carries this song nicely, never going over the top and establishing a very determined pace. Another onslaught of riffs is on the horizon with the more aggressive “Fog Spawn”. Here the band sounds very much like a mixture of Primordial with Vreid, very impressive we might add. In the vein of Taake and Horna, “The Crown of the Wild” delivers a traditional Black Metal formula but with some clean vocals and interesting ‘slower’ passages, keeping things fresh and enjoyable.

  • Woburn House – Sleep Summer Storm (2011)


    After getting a quadrillion Sludge releases that all sound the same, it is quite refreshing to listen to Woburn House’s “Sleep Summer Storm”. In their third full-length release, the band delivers eight tracks of very interesting sounding music that mixes Progressive and Atmospheric elements with a hefty Doom-ier Sludge, something that we can’t really say we have heard before.

    Opening with “Willow”, the band delivers heavy riffs and a nice paced tempo that allows the mood of the song (and album) to nicely set it. The drowsy vocals are excellent for this type of music and greatly add to the overall atmosphere of the release. In faster pace and with a more bizarre atmosphere, “Shifter” shows that the band can shake things up a bit and still achieve the same interesting sound. The guitar work is very well crafted and the tempo set by the drumming is just perfect for this kind of music. For more Progressive/Post-Metal-ish guitars, “Rain Keeps Falling Down” has a hefty dose of them.

  • AbsentiA – Our Bleeding Sun (2011)


    As a late contender for ‘self-produced’ album of the year 2011, today we have AbsentiA and their monumental “Our Bleeding Sun”. With a sound that easily rivals Dimmu Borgir and other similar bands, this little ‘unknown’ band from Spain makes a huge ruckus with the nine superb tracks featured in this release. Being fans of Melodic (insert_whatever) Metal ourselves, AbsentiA does an excellent job in incorporation melody, aggression and heaps of surprises into their sound.

    After opening with the Dimmu Borgir-esque intro “All this Hell”, the band quickly delivers the first high-intensity track with “The end of the Line”. Featuring a healthy mixture of powerful riffs with perfectly timed keyboards and crushing vocals, the band has a very powerful and yet melodic sound, something that is unusual for unsigned bands. With “Inferno” giving a Dissection vibe, the band delivers another powerful track that is nicely adorned by a very effective melodic passage with a nicely crafted solo and enchanting female vocals.

  • Nordheim – Lost In The North (2011)


    With the current world filled with countless releases that sound very much alike, Nordheim makes their contribution in that category with their Folk/Viking Metal release “Lost in the North”. Don’t get us wrong, the band does a good job in making high-intensity, well-crafted music, but they lack the creativity to actually have a sound of their own.

    Featuring a mash-up of Thyrfying, Turisas, Moonsorrow, Tyr, etc, the band has a very intense sound that pounds through 10 tracks with excellently executed instrumentation, but this is as far as it goes. The choir-like structures are very typical, the keyboards are very typical, the screams are also very typical, even the basic melodies of the songs are just the same we have heard back. Yes, we agree that the band is very aggressive and has a high-intensity approach to the genre, but this has also been already done.

  • Botanist – I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead (2011)


    Making its way from the USA, today we have one album that has been generating a lot of fuzz and even my non-Metal hipster friends (I apologize for them) have been talking about the last few months, Botanist’s double debut release: I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead. In this ‘release’ we have a dude tired of playing traditional music going full-retard and delivering something very unique and disturbing: Black Metal with a hammered dulcimer and an extreme plant-loving concept.

    While we can’t deny The Botanist’s originality to some extent, we can also notice that the music is complete shit. Random attacks of aggression feature through the 17 + 23 = 40 total ‘tracks’ presented in this release. All songs are highly incoherent and are written around the crap hammered dulcimer elements with some random drums thrown in and so-so vocals. We love experimental stuff, but when these experimental sections sound like a retarded kid whacking at an instrument, we lose all respect for the album.

  • Nightwish – Imaginaerum (2011)


    It has been four years since the last Pop Metal installment of Nightwish with “Dark Passion Play”. With Anette Olzon finally incorporated into the band’s sound, Nightwish delivers a pretty decent effort with some ‘real Nightwish’ songs and some other ‘money making Nightwish’ tracks. There is a clear distinction between the songs that have more metal structures and the ones that are just to make the teenyboppers jump up and down.

    The whole super pretentious concept of having a movie made for “Imaginaerum” and crap like that just shows that the band is moving into very self-indulgent territories. However, the music behind this “Imaginaerum” stuff is not quite bad, and many will be shocked to actually read this, so please bear with us. The opener song “Storytime” immediately induces some gag reflex from us when we first heard it and its crack-induced music video. The track is very bland and capitalizes on the heavy guitars with catchy vocal melodies format, something that Amaranthe made us hate this 2011. this song also sounds very much like anything else from “Dark Passion Play”.

  • Skaur – Skaur (2011)


    After releasing 10 demos and two splits, Skaur finally decides to unleash upon the world their first self-titled full-length release, and it is an excellent one we might say. While almost everything in Black Metal has been played or done before, Skaur manages to sneak by with six very interesting tracks that incorporate many of the traditional aspects of the genre, but have their own particular elements that make them stand out from the rest of the BM albums we get.

    Since the opener “Fullmaanesang” the band sets a furious pace with perfectly crafted melodic elements (like the bass guitar line) and some very powerful acoustic passages. This combination allows the band’s sound to be more devastating since it keeps you at the edge of your seat waiting for what is coming next. The riffing on track like “Nordnorsk Svartmetall” is pretty standard for BM, but the drum patterns nicely break the ‘traditional’ schemes the genre has and makes the songs more dynamic. The band also whips out some eerie clean vocals that out of nowhere give extra depth to an already interesting sound.

  • Inverted – Point of Crossing (2011)


    Arriving all the way from Italy, today we have Inverted’s debut full-length release “Point of Crossing” strictly for old school Death Metal fans. In the 10 tracks featured on this CD, fans of the genre will find plenty of meaty riffs and powerful growls. Not reinventing the wheel or anything, Inverted does a great job in crafting songs that are both engaging and very appealing for moshpit induced craziness.

    With the brutal opening track “Disgrace”, the band quickly sets the pace for a very hectic and crushing release. The riffing is very traditional and the drumming is top notch, making the vocals shine very nicely in the middle of things. The bass guitar is pretty well balanced into the mix and nicely crafted. While this is music to any DM fan ears, it is also something that has been done one million times before and Inverted does little to improve or carve their name in the genre.

  • Legacy of Brutality – Path of Forgotten Souls (2011)


    Delivering 39 minutes of neck snapping Death Metal, today we have Legacy of Brutality and their debut full-length “Path of Forgotten Souls” out on Chief Records. Through the nine tracks presented in the release, we have chugging guitars, bestial drumming and nice hooks, making it one of the most straight forward and well crafted DM releases of 2011.

    While everybody and their mother is out there playing your run of the mill cookie monster DM, Legacy of Brutality focuses on creating catchy tracks with meaty hooks and demonic vocals. The band excels in adding small touches of flair into their sound by relying on very technical guitar and bass guitar work and drumming, but never falling into the Obscura category for Technical DM.


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