Delivering nine hectic hymns of powerful Black Metal with some atmospheric elements, today we have Canada’s Eclipse Eternal and their latest full-length release “The Essence of Hopelessness”. In this very diverse release, the band rips through very well crafted tracks that feature traditional BM sections accompanied with melodic passages that nicely change the pace of things and keeps the listener fully engaged with the band’s music.
After the traditional keyboard intro, “Ragnarok” delivers waves of furious guitar riffs accompanied by hellish vocals and some tight drumming, exactly what the doctor ordered. This song gives the impression that you will be listening to a very typical BM release with not much to offer, but as the album keeps going the band jumps into some very ritualistic and melodic passages that give a flair of European Black Metal that is more typical of labels like Prophecy Productions.
Eight years have passed since the band’s last release “Anphisbena”, and with “Strix - Maledictae in Aeternum” Opera XI intends of regaining their momentum and status in the Metal scene that they acquired with excellent releases before the year 2000. “Strix - Maledictae in Aeternum” delivers a heavy dosage of Black Metal tracks infused with Dark Metal elements but fails to fully capture the listener’s attention and quickly gets old.
After opening with a very typical atmospheric prologue, the band fully jumps into action with “1313”. In this track the atmosphere is very dense and chaotic (perfectly crafted) but the singing and the guitars feel a bit outdated. The crazy guitar leads are nice, but we’ve heard them many years ago in other Black Metal acts, the vocals are deranged and very powerful but they are also something that band’s have already done in the past (circa early 2000).
With seven pummeling hymns of Death/Doom at its finest, today we have Mexico’s Majestic Downfall and their latest release “The Blood Dance”. This one-man band fronted by Jacobo Córdova (ex Antiqua) packs some serious punch and delivers mournful compositions filled with heavy guitars and brutal growls. If you are a fan from older Death/Doom Metal bands, you should definitely check this one out.
Quickly deceiving with an acoustic guitar intro to “The Blood Dance”, Majestic Downfall quickly delivers the first brutal blow with some deep growls and pummeling guitar riffs. The riffing is very traditional of the genre but the variations through the song is what makes it very appealing and different from other Death/Doom releases that bore the listener after the 40th iteration of a particular riff. The same applies to the well balanced “From Black to Dead”, a song where the tempo changes make it dynamic and not feel like 11 minutes have passed.
As one of the first band’s that got me into more ‘melodic’ and ‘different’ sounding music back in 1998 with their excellent album “Etherial”, Dies Irae returns after a 10 year hiatus with “Secret Veils of Passion”. In this very interesting release the band goes all over the place with so many musical influences that seem a bit disconnected at times, but that in fact create a very solid release with a wide palette of textures and very high-creativity.
While many band’s in Mexico are clones from European ones, Dies Irae crafted two of the most interesting releases of Mexican metal in the late 90’s and the disappeared. With a hint of an European sound, “Etherial” was a landmark release with its hefty Jazz/Fusion influences that puzzled many. With “Secret Veils of Passion” they continue through their exploratory musical journey and have produces 10 unique tracks that have some memorable moments.
Five years have passed since the release of “Regenesis Creation”, and finally Vesperian Sorrow is back with another monumental album of aggressive Symphonic Black Metal that will put all other band’s to shame. In “Stormwinds of Ages” the band delivers around 60 minutes of excellently crafted songs and a superb production that will blow you away and incite you to play it as loud as you can (we did). Having enough time to craft the 11 tracks of this release has helped the band achieve a near perfect album that features plenty of guest appearances and the hectic sound that the band is very characteristic for.
While every band in the USA is running to the next big trends like Deathcore, Metalcore, Cascadian Hipster Black Metal, Vesperian Sorrow continues perfecting unaffected by all the trendy crap in this country. Having toured all over the world, the band’s sound speaks for itself and with more tweaking since “Regenesis Creation” this album showcases the maturity of the band’s sound and musical abilities.
With yet another crushing blow, Abigail Williams is set on conquering the US Black Metal scene on 2012 with “Becoming”. In this release the band morphs once more from their Symphonic BM roots into a hybrid of Cascadian hipster Black Metal and straight-up European Melodic Black Metal. While many people might call them pretentious or undefined, we totally love how this band keeps popping up with different styles and overall excellently crafted music.
Similar to tracks by Wolves in the Throne Room, “Ascension Sickness” opens this release with a hefty dose of atmospheric elements, crushing BM shrieks, powerful riffing and ultra-brutal drumming. The production is very similar to WITTR and such bands, but Abigail Williams brings their own elements into the mix with some nice classical string instruments and a more ethereal atmosphere. After the 11-minutes of ecstasy provided by the first track, “Radiance” keeps the decadent and Doom-ish atmosphere alive with inhuman vocals and crushing riffs.
Featuring 13 crazy Finish musicians, today we have the very enigmatic and cult-worshiped Leningrad Cowboys and their first album with original songs since 2000. In “Buena Vodka Social Club” we are treated to 11 tracks of pure wackiness, but with excellent musical skills and a very festive spirit.
While nowhere near the area of expertise of Infernal Masquerade reviewers, we still managed to appreciate and enjoy this very interesting release. Sakke Järvenpää, the band’s mastermind, has managed to bring back the Leningrad Cowboys and with such style and grace that you should keep an eye for them once they come close to your town.