Unleashing the first candidate for album of the year, today we Týr and their mesmerizing eight full-length release “Hel”. Featuring nearly 70 minutes of superbly catchy and yet very intricate and crafty music, this album elevates the band’s sound to new heights and further cements their legacy as one of the best in their genre. Perfectly combining their signature elements from their early releases with more playful and free flowing elements, this release appeals to fans both old and new from this Faroese band.
Opening with “Gates of Hel”, the band’s charismatic front man, Heri Joensen, unleashes the perfect balance of guitar wizardry and catchiness to create a very engaging and heavy track. We are fans of the band’s usage of multiple layers of vocals and the opener nicely blends them with some harsher screams. As “All Heroes Fall” rolls in, we can instantly feel the band’s traditional proggy magic, mastefully paired with tight drumming patterns and blistering solos. For those looking for the Folkier side of the band, “Ragnars kvæði” has that “Hold the Heathen Hammer High” epic vibe, but on a more somber and dramatic tone.
Unleashing a very unique amalgamation of sounds, today we have Esben and the Witch and their latest effort “Nowhere”. Featuring a darker tone than their previous releases, this album perfectly contrast the fragility of Rachel Davies vocals and the commanding presence of heavy guitar riffs and hypnotic drumming. Blurring the lines between several genres and influences, this release is certainly one to digest after a good amount of listens and with undivided attention.
Slowing building up their atmosphere in “A Desire for Light”, the band nicely shuffles elements around to create a very powerful and direct song. The band’s sound while simplistic in nature, allows them to play around with the song tempos while crafting memorable tracks that keep you guessing and engaged. The best example of this is the exploratory nature of “Dull Gret” with its heavy guitar riffs, and the dreamy folky piece “Golden Purifier”, which mostly focuses on subtle percussions and solemn guitar leads.
It is not everyday that you receive a release from a band hailing from Iran. With our curiosity peaked, Eternal Candle’s debut full-length “The Carved Karma”, is one hell of a Progressive Death/Doom Metal release. Combining elements from old-school Death Metal, Doom Metal all perfectly paired with a Progressive edge, this release delivers almost one full hour of masterful music. For fans of old Opeth, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, this release will certainly resonate with you.
Immediately after the dreamy instrumental opener, the band gets down to business with the sheer power of “The Ripped Soul”. Reminding us of Amorphis on their “Privilege of Evil” days, this track is heavy and pummeling, thanks to its powerful riffs and old-school vibe. Things quickly move into more Progressive / Katatonia-esque territories with the intricate “Sick Romance”, and even further into old-school Death/Doom influences with “A Path to Infinity”.
Going completely ‘off the reservation’, today we have Svoid and their very strange and yet interestingly addictive EP “Spiral Dance”. Not showing any of their Black Metal influences, this release is a very weird experimental EP that explores the band’s more theatrical side with a few Post-Punk sprinkles thrown into the mix. Certainly this release is a very true to form album from Sun & Moon Records.
The weirdness begins with the bizarre indie-anthem “Stand in Awe”, an interesting track that has some Post-Punk elements, but in general feels more like an NPR kind of song. Considering this release a complete outside the box release, we can certainly enjoy catchy tracks like the epic “The Very Hours” and its melancholic vibe. It even has a quasi-Depeche Mode vibe that caught our attention and we found ourselves playing this song quite a few times.
Unleashing a crushing amalgamation of distorted guitars and powerful atmospheres, today we have France’s Dirge and their latest opus “Lost Empyrean”. Bordering in many genres like Slude, Doom, Post-Metal, this French outfit delivers a captivating release that is quite dense and engaging. For over 56 minutes and seven tracks, we are taken through dismal soundscapes that feel quite oppressive and showcase the band’s fresh and unique sound.
Opening with pummeling distorted guitars on “Wingless Multitudes”, the band’s wall of sound slowly builds up as the guitar layers pile up and craft a tense mood. Weaving back and forth between Amenra-esque moments and more traditional Doom passages, this track brilliantly blends into the next” “Hosea 8:7”. Masterfully maintaining the tension and overall ambiance, the mixture of clean and harsh vocals provides a nice layer to an already intricate mixture of sounds.
Hailing from Canada, today we have Progressive/Technical Death Metal outfit Beyond Creation and their refreshing third full-length release “Algorythm”. While some bands focus on playing faster and more complex just for the sake of it, this band focuses on crafting unique songs which perfectly blend in the technical aspect with the brutality and melody of their sound. Clocking in at over 50 minutes in this, this is one album that fans of outfits like Obscura, Hour of Penance, etc., cannot miss.
After setting a very futuristic mood with the opener “Disenthrall”, the band jumps head first with the blistering speed of “Entre suffrage et mirage”. Featuring a playful bass guitar line and killer guitar leads, this song quickly reminds us of Obscura, but with a slighter more progressive and melodic edge. With a dreamy tone, “Surface's Echoes”, showcases the band’s versatility and focus on crafting interesting melodies rather than just pummeling through notes. Do not get us wrong, this track does feature some killer musical acrobatics and tempo changes, but they feel a lot more organic than with other bands.
As the second full-length release from Unreqvited this 2018, this is certainly the most ambitious one. Mostly diverging away from the more traditional Post-Black Metal elements of their first two albums, “Mosaic I: l'amour et l'ardeur” is a lush introduction into a more atmospheric and dream-like world that is quite magical to experience. This one-man outfit does a great job in creating magical soundscapes with dreamy guitars and solemn piano elements, so be prepared to be fully immersed into Unreqvited’s musical journey.
The album sets a magical mood with the majestic “Sunrise”, a piece that is quite ethereal in nature and perfectly crafted to give that warm fuzzy sense of awe. “Dreamscape” has a distinct Blackgaze vibe, nicely created by the active guitars and a backdrop of harrowing harsh shrieks, perfectly contrasting the brightness created by the instruments. We are suckers for playful piano songs and “Radiant” delivers on this. Perfectly named, this track feels quite radiant as it shines thanks to its dramatic arrangements and masterful distorted guitars as contrast.
Any self-respecting Doom/Death Metal fan is definitely aware of the legacy left behind by Forest of Shadows with their releases in the 2000’s. Coming 100% as a surprise to us, Inverse records is now releasing the band’s latest opus: “Among the Dormant Watchers”. Niclas Frohagen is the man behind this one-man band that makes a come back with its signature sound of slow and melancholic songs that will hurt your soul and demoralize you from start to end.
Picking up exactly where the band left off, “Self Inflicted Torment” unleashed the signature style of lush keyboards, moody bass guitar line and crushing growls. This track brings back memories of the band’s earlier works and the cloudy rainy days we listened to those albums for hours. The mood gets bleaker with the beautiful opening to “Drowned by Guilt”, which slowly descends into misery and devastation. While bands like Clouds, Shape of Despair and Skepticism take misery and despair in music to new levels, there is something about the rawness of Forest of Shadows that keeps drawing us to their music.
Just before the end of the year we received on our review queue on of our favorite albums of 2018: Crippled Black Phoenix’s “Great Escape”. As one of the most melancholic and mellow Rock albums we have heard, this international band unleashes over one hour of truly disarming music. Mixing elements of bands like Anathema, God is an Astronaut and countless others, this is definitely one of the most unique and diverse releases you will hear in 2018.
After opening with the dreamy “You Brought it Upon Yourselves”, the band sinks into the bleakness of “To You I Give”, a Post-Rock-ish tune in nature. Masterminded by Justin Greaves, this band’s releases are always very rich and diverse and extremely hard to categorize, but always top notch in terms of quality. After the interlude “Uncivil War, Pt. 1”, “Madman” features a dark wave vibe with heavy synths and a very martial pace.