As soon as we received this release with the association of featuring members of Botanist, we braced ourselves for the worst. In return, we actually are quite surprised and pleased on how Lotus Thief’s “Rervm” has turned out, featuring a truly unique and engaging sound that is very structured and free-flowing, unlike Botanist. Delivering six very solid tracks, this is probably at the top of our “Best surprises of 2014” list.
The album kicks off with the heavy riffing of “Aeternvm” creating a very hypnotic passage that is later complemented with brilliant atmospheric elements and female vocals. The drumming still has that Botanist edge to it, but it is far less chaotic and fits the music perfectly. There are some trippy atmospheric sounds here and there that nicely complement the atmosphere of this track. Things pick up with “Miseras” and its Sludge/Alt-Rock vibe, showing a different side of the band while retaining its atmospheric uniqueness.
Hailing from Switzerland, today we have Last Leaf Down and their dreamy Post-Rock/Shoegaze. Sounding like a combination of Katatonia, Tides from Nebula, and some sprinkles of Slowdive and Alcest, this band delivers a very unique and ethereal sounding release with “Fake Lights”. Clocking in at 51 minutes, buckle up for a very dreamy and ethereal ride with this one.
As the intro bleeds into “In Dreams”, the dreamy shoegazing galore starts. The band’s sound is very atmospheric and melancholic. Benjamin Schenk vocals are quite hypnotic and they perfectly fit to the album’s overall pace. The Katatonia influences, while on their experimental ‘alternative’ phase, are very clear in tracks like “In These Waters” and “Giant”, we particularly love this last one and its weeping depressive guitars.
In a year filled with killer Death Metal releases from genre greats like Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Abysmal Dawn, etc., it is still quite easy to distinguish the legendary Centinex from the rest. Returning after an 8 year hiatus, this Swedish outfit arrives with a vengeance and one of the best Swedish Death Metal releases in years. Martin Schulman has managed to come back with a very strong lineup and a killer sound that will snap necks in the mosh pit.
Heavy, creepy and atmospheric are words that we usually like when talking about a release, in “The Kingdom Field” Darkher perfectly crafts her sound around those three words. Hailing from the UK, this female-fronted outfit delivers four brilliant tracks that combine elements from old-school bands like The 3rd and the Mortal, to newer acts like Hexvessel and Jex Thoth.
We are slowly initiated to Darkher’s captivating sound with the atmospheric intro to “Ghost Tears”. The dark and somber vocals work amazingly well with the minimalistic percussions and guitars in this track. We are reminded of a mixture of Jamie Myers (Sabbath Assembly), Jex Thoth, and Kari Rueslåtten (ex The 3rd and the Mortal), as it goes from somber and deep to sweet and innocent in tracks like “Hung”, these changes make this release very versatile and intoxicating.
As one of the least conventional bands in Metal Blade, Downfall of Gaia delivers a punishing 60 minute musical experience with their third full-length release “Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay”. Perfectly crafting an apocalyptic sound that fuses Black Metal, Post-Metal, and Sludge elements, this band will mercilessly make your speakers pop and have you begging for more.
Getting down to business with the bestial opener “Darkness Inflames These Sapphire Eyes”, the band spews their message with a brutality and firmness. The Black Metal sections are perfectly craved into the heavy riffing of this track, and the different vocal styles further extend the songs brutality. Just when you things are getting calm, blistering passages change the mood and direction of the songs, like in the epic “Carved into Shadows”. The underlying Doom/Post-Metal elements of tracks like this one and “Ascending the Throne”, make the band’s sound even richer and very diverse, making it harder to pin them down.
Ever since their debut full-length “The Malediction Fields” Fen has always had a very clear and unique sound that has nicely transformed over the years. With “Carrion Skies”, the further elevate their musical magic in six brilliantly composed tracks. Perfectly blending atmosphere with aggression and desolate instrumental passages, this UK trio continues to blow everybody out of the water in terms of Atmospheric Black Metal.
Opening with the tour-de-force tow-part track “Our Names Written in Embers”, the band delivers 18 minutes of their signature atmospheric music paired with a few Post-Rock/Jazzy passages that nicely complement the aggressive vocals and furious riffing onslaughts. On part two, the band nicely crafts playful guitar melodies that are perfect for some melodic headbanging.
The charismatic Liv Kristine is having a very hectic 2014 with the release of her latest album “Vervain” and her touring/recording duties with her female super group The Sirens. In this installment of her solo career, she delivers ten very catchy and engaging tracks that will surely satisfy her legions of fans and nicely continue her well defined musical trajectory.
Opening with the catchy “My Wilderness”, we have a nice combination of her beautiful vocals and strong guitar work to deliver a heavy-but-catchy track. As one of the best tracks in this release, “Love Decay” channels H.I.M and Theater of Tragedy in a very effective song featuring Michelle Darkness of End of Green. The chorus section in this track is truly memorable, and the sparse keyboards reminded us of Theater of Tragedy in their “Aegis” era.
Conceived as a side project from Secrets of the Moon’s sG and Markus Renzenbrink of Embedded, this band crafts very dark sounding Rock/Metal that is quite melancholic in nature. In “Gehenna”, the band presents four intense tracks that deliver tons of raw emotions and explore very interesting music ideas. If we had to put a label on this, we would say that they are a mixture of Katatonia, Bethlehem, Mystons, Grey Waters and Decoryah, but with its own twisted intricacies.
The album leads off with the atmospheric dreamy intro passage of “House of Gehenna”. In this track you immediately know that this release will be quite unique. Never being overzealous, the band slowly escalates the intensity and it is greatly led by the dramatic vocals of sG paired with melodic guitars. Melancholy overpowers this release with the catchy and grim “Your Skull-sized Kingdom”, full of great guitar leads and excellent vocal melodies.
Featuring members (or ex-members) of Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, Decapitated, etc., this Polish super group is set to make an impact with their fourth full-length release “Deus Ex Machina”. Taking subtle elements for tons of bands like Samael, Emperor, Arcturus, Vulture Industries and making them their own, we are left with ten very unique tracks that will creep you out while allowing you to head bang to them.
Kicking off the release with the brutal Sympho-BM “Halflight”, we are treated to Orion’s talent both behind his sickening vocals and crushing riffs. This track is probably the most straightforward one since it fits solely in one genre. Things go circus like with the Arcuturs-inspired atmospheric elements of “Innocence”, one of the album’s best tracks. The band comes back with the Samael-sounding “Disillusion”, a very intoxicating band with tons of catchy melodic passages and superb drumming.
One of the most brutal bands in Metal finally returns with their 8th full-length release titled “Desideratum”. Constantly striving to destroy your speakers, this British duo has made some of the most disturbing and massive sounding releases in history. In this album, we see the band shift gears a bit, and while there are still plenty of ridiculously brutal sections, there are also some more melodic and separable passages in their music. This results in a very well balanced release that is both brutal and melodic, making them more approachable for other people that might want something a bit tamer to their earlier efforts.
The band opens with the highly atmospheric instrumental “Acheronta Movebimus”, a song that has an odd mixture of Industrial with Djent-style percussions paired with some evil Black Metal riffing. After the perfect mood setter, the onslaught of brutality quickly rolls in with “Unleash”. This track is quite intense and diabolical, but what stands out the most for us is the clean vocals and the melodic edge to it. As the punches keep coming in with “Monstrum In Animo”, we also notice that as “A Firm Foundation of Unyielding Despair” and “The One Thing Needful” rolls in, there is a certain focus on the Industrial/Electronic elements that shifts the momentum a bit from the Extreme nature of the music. However, this last track has some superbly sinister guitar work that made it one of our favorites of the release.