Unleashing one of the most disturbing and yet highly original and complex releases of 2018, today we have A Forest of Stars and their fifth full-length release “Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes”. As a total cacophony, the band delivers over 64 minutes of chaotic Black Metal that features so many different layers, making a very complex album to fully digest. We love these types of release were you keep finding new little things with each time you listen to a track, never fully revealing themselves to the listener until a great effort is made.
Setting a very lively mood with the album intro track, the band fully explodes into madness with the harsh vocals and convoluted riffing of “Precipice Pirouette”. With dramatic violins serving as highlights to a very dense and powerful wall of sound, this track has an unnerving pace that induces anxiety and and despair. On “Tombward Bound”, the band splits up the punishment with a somber interlude between a hectic start and a Devil Doll-esque climax that is some of the band’s finest work to date.
Perfectly blending style and brutality, today we have Revocation and their most refined opus to date: “The Outer Ones”. Featuring a sound that is reminiscent of bands like Death, Exmortus and Sylosis, this outfit delivers over 48 minutes of superbly crafted music that will keep you at the edge of your seat. While many bands focus on technicality just for the sake of it, Revocation actually crafts catchy and engaging songs that are highly technically proficient and headbangable from start to end.
Opening with the ravaging “Of Unworldly Origin”, we get crunchy Death Metal riffs paired with intense drumming and hellish vocals. With some killer guitar leads thrown into the mix, this track sets a very lively and engaging mood that feels old-school, but will all the advantages of a modern production. The band continues to show their melodic elements in well paced songs like “That Which Consumes All Things” and the brilliant “Blood Atonement”. This last track delivers intense twin guitars and crafty tempo changes alongside some funky trippy bass guitar elements.
Continuously working on punishing their listeners eardrums, today we have Anaal Nathrakh and their latest opus of madness “A New Kind of Horror”. As one of the most brutal bands in the world, this British twosome deliver ten ravaging tracks that blend elements from Industrial/Death/Black Metal with Grindcore aggression in a way they will have you asking for mercy after 5 minutes. If you are a fan of their destructive ways, this release should perfectly please your need for some extreme music.
The aural assault starts with the bone-crushing “Obscene as Cancer” with massive drums and harrowing vocal arrangements that will haunt you for life. We particularly love how the band adds the clean vocals as a contrast to their demoralizing music, giving them a certain Borknagar-esque vibe but in a completely different, and more brutal, context. If you are not punished enough, “The Reek of Fear” features some creepy atmospherics that we equate to the trumpets of the rapture.
Serving as an intermission between full-length releases, today we have Stratovarius with “Enigma: Intermission II”. Not settling for a typical EP, the band features three brand new songs, four orchestral tracks, and nine bonus tracks that have either been unreleased in Europe or are considered rare. If you are a fan of the band, this is definitely one unique opportunity to have all these rare tracks and new material in one single package.
The new tracks are spread out through this release and we will talk about them first. With “Enigma” the band picks up when they left with their last album, “Eternal”, and deliver a very engaging and dynamic piece filled with their signature soaring vocals and intricate guitar melodies. On “Burning Ground” we get lively tempo changes and a superbly catchy chorus section that is as typical Stratovarious as you can get. The futuristic “Oblivion” nicely movies into atmospheric territories with lush keyboards and a pulsating bass guitar line. This track is on the Power Metal-ballad side of things, allowing the listener to fully embrace the band’s musicality and creativity.
Consistently over the years Tuomas Saukkonen has written plenty of engaging and gripping Melodic Death Metal songs with his bands/projects like Beyond the Dawn, Black Sun Aeon and Dawn of Solace. Finally focusing 100% in Wolfheart, he has managed to deliver great album since “Winterborn”, with “Constellation of the Black Light”, the band ups the ante with over 40 minutes of haunting music. In the vein of bands like Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium, Dark Tranquility, etc. this release is by far their best… to date.
Opening with the ten minute epic “Everlasting Fall”, we get that moody melodic vibe that develops into a brilliant atmospheric piece of music. Instantly we get a frosty Finnish Melodic Death Metal atmosphere that is perfect for head banging or enjoying while hiking in the woods. Throwing a curveball to the listener “Breakwater” has a brutal start, filled with heavy Death Metal riffs and intense drumming, courtesy of Joonas Kauppinen. Contrasting at first, this track nicely mellows out into lush dual vocal passages and Insomnium esque guitar sections that round up a very unique song.
Led by the charismatic and highly talented Heidi Parviainen, today we have Dark Sarah’s third full-length release “The Golden Moth”. Completing “The Chronicles” trilogy, this cinematic/symphonic Metal album is full of bombastic arrangements and very dramatic instrumentation creating a magical atmosphere. Going bigger than in the past, the band instantly immerses the listeners into their lyrical context and provides a truly engaging experience.
Opening with “Desert Rose”, there is a certain mysterious mood that frames the beginning of this story very well and creates great expectation on the listener. New permanent member, JP Leppäluoto, delivers a solid vocal performance as Dragon, complementing Heidi’s angelic chants. With the band’ further setting the mood with songs like “Trespasser” and “Wheel”, the immersion feels deeper and deeper. The Jurassic Park-esque atmospheric elements of “My Beautiful Enemy”, make for a very grandiose and ear catching tracks that is quite hard to get out of your head.
Unleashing over 55 minutes of superbly catchy hard rocking music, today we have Germany’s The Unity and their sophomore release “Rise”. Featuring members of Gamma Ray and Love.Might.Kill, this release delivers a very interesting mixture of traditional Hard Rock with Power Metal elements, allowing for the band to delivering brilliant technically proficient passages, while maintaining a lively mood and a high level of catchiness. If you like bands like Stratovarius, Warlock, Helloween, etc., but also like something more easy to digest and to sing along, then definitely check out this release.
After a dramatic atmospheric opener, “Last Betrayal” instantly cranks up the intensity and the catchiness up to 11. This track kicks off with dramatic vocals by Jan Manenti and a very hectic pace. The chorus sections are just brilliant, allowing this track to be stuck in your head for a while after the first listen. The first standout track is the intoxicating “You Got Me Wrong”, which is definitely one of the most engaging and memorable songs we have heard in quite a while.
Only making us wait for ten years, we finally get another brilliant release from Noekk, even if its a short 7 inch one. With “Carol Stones and Elder Rock”, Schwadorff and Thomas Helm tease listeners with four tracks of their upcoming full length release. Full of lush and yet simple arrangements, this release continues the band’s legacy with some unique and mysterious songs that will certainly captivate fans of Dark/Folk Rock.
The wait is over with the somber intro track “A Loss”, which creates a very dark and yet mysterious atmosphere that brings you back to the band’s earlier work and reminds you as well of outfits like Of the Wand and the Moon and Empyrium. The transition to “Pan” is seamless and leads into a lush keyboard atmospherics and haunting string elements. The pace is quite well crafted as it creates a bit of an anxious feel, but at the same times soothes the listeners with its atmospherics.
Delivering a killer female-fronted Symphonic Metal opus, today we have Germany’s Beyond the Black and their third full-length release “Heart of the Hurricane”. Led by the talented and also quite beautiful Jennifer Haben, this band has a great sound that while part of a crowded genre, it easily stands out from the rest. Perfectly designed for those fans of bands like Nightwish, Tarja, Epica, and even the likes of Doro, this release will keep you quite entertained for over 60 minutes.
Things get heated quite quickly with the hard rocking catchiness of “Hysteria”, a very direct and engaging opener that shifts things into 5th gear from the start. The album title song delivers very crafty tempo changes and dramatic riffs that are very well rounded up by the emotional sultry female vocals. This song feels like a unique mixture of the dynamism of Delain and the bombastic nature of Nightwish put together. We love how the band can switch the mood of the release from one song to the next, as it happens one “Million Lightyears” opens with male clean vocals and slowly transitions in a hyper catchy chorus section.
Unleashing one hell of a catchy and organic Folk Metal release, today we have legendary Korpiklanni delivering “Kulkija”. As their longest release to date, over 70 minutes of music, this release feels more intimate while having the band’s signature playful and engaging songs. This album instantly moves into the top Folk Metal releases of 2018, so be sure to not miss out.
Slowly building up momentum with “Neito”, the band wastes no time to unleash their characteristic lush sound with rich traditional instrumentation and heavy guitars to build a very catchy contrast. Tuomas Rounakari’s violin and Sami Perttula’s accordion brilliantly give the music that subtle playfulness that we love from the band while delivering dramatic and catchy songs like “Korpikuusen kyynel” and “Allon alla”. The band’s sound in this release feels a bit more barebones and manages to deliver more emotions and craft darker songs like “Harmaja” and one of our favorites: “Korikonnut”.