With big name bands like Obscura and Beyond Creation unleashing Progressive/Technical Death Metal masterpieces this year, it is quite refreshing to hear more underground bands like The Odious Construct take inspiration from them and release a killer EP of their own. With “Shrine of the Obscene” this band from Sacramento, California delivers five expertly crafted tracks that are quite atmospheric and technically proficient. For a band formed in 2015, they are certainly firing on all cylinders in this brilliant release.
Opening with a dreamy passage on “Vortex of Self”, the band quickly sets up a hectic mood filled with subtle technical details and trippy atmospheric keyboards. As the album’s introduction to the band, this song could not be more awesome and expertly crafted. Going into “Descension”, the keyboards nicely frame the massive drumming and the cool tempo changes in this track. Keeping the intensity going thanks to crushing vocals and very well crafted guitar passages, this track certainly shows that the opener was no fluke.
Black Metal battalion Sargeist is finally back, with a new line-up and a new release titled “Unbound”. Featuring over 47 minutes of unholy and destructive music, this release is the band’s most refined album to date. With Shatraug on guitars and Profundus handling vocal duties, this release is quite raw and punishing, the perfect addition to any BM purist collection.
Opening the fold with “Psychosis Incarnate”, we are instantly immersed in the band’s harsh aural devastation path, filled with incisive riffing and pummeling drumming. With new member Gruft on drums, the band’s sound remains as intense as every as he pummels his way through hectic tracks like “To Wander the Night’s Eternal Path” and the ravaging “The Bosom of Wisdom and Madness”.
Like a bag of bricks to the face, today we have Switzerland's Promethee unleashing their latest opus “Convalescence”. Featuring nine tracks and over 35 minutes of music, this release is both very direct and yet crafty enough to showcase some cool Melodic/Progressive passages that sets them apart from the rest. Aggressive and yet well refined releases are hard to come by, and with this one, the band continues their musical journey with a more refined and very in-your-face style.
The heavy riffing of the album-titled opener allows the mood to instantly escalate to very hectic and punishing. However, the craftiness of the song structure makes it quite intriguing and melodic at times, in the same vein as the follow up track “While you Stood Still”. One of our favorite tracks is the funky “Endless”, which features a light mood crafted by trippy drumming and playful guitar melodies. It is quite pleasing to hear how the band’s Hardcore/Post-Metal influences brilliantly align with the unique song structures.
While Metal elitists are too busy hating on the band’s unique style, Amaranthe has constantly gained more and more worldwide notoriety. With “Helix” the band continues to push the boundaries of Metal with an even more bombastic release filled with their signature catchy electronic elements fused in with heavy guitars and harsh vocals. Led by the charismatic Elize Ryd, the band unleashes twelve superbly catchy songs that are the band’s best and most integrated material to date.
Instantly cranking it up to 11, the band opens with the brilliant “The Score”, a track that sets a high-octane intensity filled with catchy chorus sections and playful electronic elements. The band’s Pop-ish magic is perfectly fuses into “365”, where Elize delivers brilliant vocal melodies that are contrasted by the diverse male vocals and subtle atmospheric elements. Continuing the band’s uplifting mood, “Inferno” and “Control” deliver unrivaled catchiness and a very heavy edge to things.
The most recognized Metal band in Poland makes their unholy return with one of the most devastating releases of 2018. With “I Loved You at Your Darkest”, Behemoth takes all the elements they have been refining over the years and unleashes 46 minutes of truly masterful music that blows away all the high expectations riding on this release. With a ravaging attitude and tons of technical grace, the 12 tracks presented in this album are brilliantly engineered to deliver a crushing blow to Christianity and its acolytes.
Opening with the ominous “Solve”, the band sets a sinister and very dark atmosphere that is further elevated by creepy choir arrangements and brutal riffs as it transitions into “Wolves ov Siberia”. With a firm grasp on relentless brutality, this track inflicts major pain thanks to the intense drumming and violent guitar work. Not letting go, “God = Dog” delivers a consecutive blow of massive drums and hellish vocals from Nergal. The contrast between the choir arrangements and the sickening melodic passages make for one hell of a song that is far from average.
As one of the most pummeling underground Black Metal acts to ever come from Norway, One Tail, One Head delivers Black Metal in its rawest and most foul form. Ending their existence with “Worlds Open, Worlds Collide”, the band unleashes ten tracks that comprise their full-length ‘debut’ and final testament to their unrivaled talent and crafty driving force.
When the atmospheric opener, “Certainly Not”, closes, the band quickly unravels the raw and decadent “Arrival Yet Again”, a piece that crafts a chilling atmosphere filled with catchy tempo changes and wild vocal onslaughts. Luctus, the band’s vocalist has a imposing style that is quite firm and filled with hate, making songs like the album title track and “Stellar Storms” come to life. Not being your average band, the mixture of mysterious minimalist interludes and atmospheric passages create a very creepy vibe that is unique to “One Tail, One Head”.
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.