Hailing from the USA, where we do not have a lot of Power/Progressive Metal bands, today we have Power/Progressive Metal California outfit NovaReign and their first demo release. With “Reign of the Infinite Sun”, the band delivers four very promising tracks that with a little more work could be outstanding.
Opening with the exciting “Call on the Storm”, the band showcases excellent musicianship and technical proficiency. The thing that brings down the experience is the not-there-yet vocals of David Marquez. While his range has potential, it still needs to be definitely worked on. As the epic riffs, tight drumming, and proficient guitar work continues on tracks like “Crimson Shield” and “Beyond the Cold”, we also noticed that for a demo in 2014, the production is a bit flat. A better job when mixing should do the trick and elevate the band’s sound.
With a thunderous release, today we have Eluveitie and their premier Folk Metal in the shape of “Origins”. Featuring over 55 minutes of music, the band further develops their sound while retaining their signature instrumentation in 16 action filled tracks. With no signs of slowing down after the departure of their longtime violinist Meri Tadic, the band delivers one of their finest releases to date.
Quickly exploding into action with “The Nameless” after their intro track, the band delivers a catchy Folk tune filled with Bagpipes and contrasting crushing guitars. The band’s catchy atmosphere is nicely implanted in epic tracks like “From Darkness”, “Celtos”, and the melodramatic “Virunus”, a personal favorite of us. Chrigel’s vocals are as good as ever and his mastery of instruments like Mandolin, Ulieann pipes, etc. really put the band above all others that rely on computer generated instrumentations to fill their sound.
Arriving today from LifeForce records, we have Germany’s Deadlock with an excellent compilation/rarities/best of + new songs double CD release. Featuring a wide variety of tracks, this release re-interprets/arranges some of their older classics and presents a few new songs that showcase the exciting evolution of the band’s rich sound. With the second CD being rarities and older tracks, we will focus or review on the first CD that has more interesting material.
The album opens with the Groovy “An Ocean’s Monument”, a new track that shows the band’s further evolution into Groove Metal territories. Sabine’s soaring vocals are great, and John Gahlert’s screams fit nicely with the atmospheric elements of this track. The next set of tracks are re-arrangements or re-recording of older songs: “Code of Honor” with guest vocals from Marcus Bischoff that sounds almost the same as the original version but with harsher vocals, an “Earthlings” version that features new arrangements and we assume vocals, and an improved version of “The Brave / Agony Applause”.
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.
Having waited for more than 10 years for a new Empyrium release, the arrival of this release was the highlight of our month. With “The Turn of the Tides”, Ulf Theodor Schwadorf and Thomas Helm return with a release that combines all elements from Empyrium’s past in a very fresh and masterful way. Featuring seven tracks of majestic atmospheric music, the band surpasses all the expectations and once again, sets the bar higher.
The release opens with the ray of light called “Saviour”. In this track the somber piano opening perfectly sets the mood for this majestic release. As the atmospheric elements keep unveiling parallel to Helm’s vocals, the full Empyrium experience begins. The release continues with the already unveiled “Dead Winter Ways”, a majestic track that is both bleak and dramatic. Featuring distorted guitars, this is a first in a few releases for Empyrium.
Arriving like 1000 pounds of bricks to the head, Bölzer’s “Soma” EP further establishes the band as one of the premiere Black/Death Metal acts in the scene. Filled with hateful vocals and crushing riffing, this release brings back some of the best elements of the heydays of Black/Death Metal with a vengeance and delivers nearly 20 minutes of punishing music.
Released on vinyl through Invictus Productions and with the first pressing already sold-out from them, this is one behemoth release that everybody is expecting. Opening with the soul-destroying “Steppes”, the band makes a quick impact with bestial DM riffs and hellish vocals. Bringing back memories of Centinex and Grave with an extra level of brutality, this track immediately brings out the headbanging cravings on anybody.
Arriving today from Finland, we have Katakombi and their very weird, but equally crushing self-titled EP. Featuring three tracks and 26 minutes of music, this release will give you nightmares thanks to the very disturbing atmospheric elements that are used to create ambiance. If you are tired of ‘traditional’ Death/Doom/Sludge releases, this is one EP that will expand your mind thanks to its highly original approach.
The EP features on side the monumental “Väärä Kuu”, a 13-minute crushing piece of music that nicely builds up starting from creepy atmospheric/drone-like elements into some ghoulish spoken sections before finally delivering some harsh vocals and chilling riffs. The bands musical progression in this track is quite unique and very well crafted, nicely culminating in a powerful aural assault with a very mellow pace.
Coming out of a short hiatus, Wolves In The Throne Room return with a fresh and unique release in “Celestite”. Being a fully instrumental release that is touted to be a companion for their previous album “Celestial Lineage”, this 46-minute beast unleashes the band’s ‘softer’ side filled with hypnotic atmospheric and instrumental passages that will make you see them in a whole new light. Ranging from sounding like Raison d'être to horror movie soundtracks, this aural experience brings you into the band’s complex world in a grandiose way.
The release leads off with the trippy soundscapes of “Turning Ever Towards the Sun”, a song that weaves back and forth with futuristic atmospheric synths and a captivating slow pace. Things get tenser with the intoxicating “Initiation at Neudeg Aim” thanks to more chilling synths and dissonant riffs. Building up the momentum, “Bridge of Leaves” goes back into a more chilling and guitar-less state, with lush arrangements and a certain darkness that reminds us of bands like Elend.
Pummeling its way from Italy, today we have Death Metal juggernauts Siege and their debut full-length release “Decay of Flesh”. Featuring 14 tracks and around 44 minutes of neck-snapping Death Metal, this Italian band does a great job in mixing Swedish and American ‘old school’ Death Metal influences with a forward thinking and modern direction. Whether you prefer a chugging riffing galore or more atmospheric and carefully crafted details, this release has it all.
Things start pretty straightforward with the punishing “In Memore”, “The Massacre Begins” and “Decay of Flesh”. As the band goes into their “Legend of the Iced Earth Knights”, the music gets more elaborate and atmospheric. The DM foundation is ever present, but the riffing and melodic passages are richer and more exciting, like on our favorite “The Banishment”. Atmospheric pieces like “The Coming of Draugen” really elevate this release making it quite enjoyable and diverse.