2021

  • Two Hundred Wolves - The Hold (2021)

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    One of the best parts of the gig of reviewing music for this site is that I get to enjoy countless amounts of music, particularly the submissions from up-and-coming bands. Today we have one killer gem that made its way into my inbox: Two Hundred Wolves and their release “The Hold”. With a style similar to Jess and the Ancient Ones and Madder Mortem but with a fuzzier and jazzier side, this release delivers 44 minutes of captivating music led by the sultry vocals of Anna Matveinen.

    Opening with the jazzy/proggy “Visceral Redemption”, the first impression the band makes is one of a highly original sound perfectly fronted by a versatile singer. We like all kinds of music, and this band certainly has a bit of everything, from post rock to occult rock/metal influences, creating tracks like “Oblivion”, the dynamic “Absolute Bearing”, and the highly emotive “Event Horizon”. We are huge fans of deep and unique female voices, and the band’s vocalist definitely stands out from the rest.

  • Thulcandra - A Dying Wish (2021)

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    Unleashing waves of old-school Melodic Black/Death Metal in the vein of Dissection, today we have Thulcandra and their latest opus “A Dying Wish”. Packed with ten tracks and nearly 45 minutes of incisive music, Steffen Kummerer keeps the old-school vibe alive with this excellent release. With a heavy tribute to Jon Nötveidt's style, the band continues to refine their sound and create brilliantly executed pieces that will appeal to old and new Black/Death Metal fans.

    The release opens very strongly with the dreamy “Funeral Pyre” and its mixture of melodic passages and furious onslaughts, perfectly balancing brutality and melody while delivering a timeless sound and aural aggression. We are particularly blown away by the fast-paced songs in this release that remind us of early Entombed and Sacramentum, for example songs like “Scarred Grandeur”, “In Vain”, and “Nocturnal Heresy”.

  • Hate - Rugia (2021)

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    Led by Adam Buszko, Hate is one of Metal Blade’s heaviest bands and they have returned with a vengeance with “Rugia”. Unleashing nine tracks and nearly 40 minutes of devastating music, Hate features a sound similar to Behemoth but with its own brand of aural poison and intensity. If you are a fan of Blackened Death Metal, and bands like Belphegor and Azarath, this is one release you can’t miss.

    Opening with the album title track, the band makes a vicious statement with crushing riffs, devilish snarls and tight drumming. The band’s sound is quite refined and vicious, allowing them to introduce melody alongside their superbly brutal and swift onslaughts, evidence of this are songs like “The Wolf Queen”, “Exiles of Pantheon”, and one of favorites “Awakening the Gods Within”. Not just blasting the listener away with sheer brutality, the band systematically attacks with their musicality and execution.

  • Be'lakor - Coherence (2021)

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    Five years in the making, Aussie quintet Be'lakor returns with a vengeance with their highly anticipated fifth full-length release “Coherence”. Delivering over one hour of amazing Melodic Death Metal, the band is ready to make up for lost time and take over the scene with this impressive release. Further refining their high-octane signature style, this release will propel the band to new heights.

    The release kicks off with the mysterious “Locus” and its blistering drumming alongside twin guitars creating a superbly melodic and catchy opening piece, nothing less than what we expected from the band. Playfully playing with excellent tempo changes and nice guitar solos, the band masterfully manipulates long tracks into feeling very short, as they are quite exciting and engaging, for example the piercing “Foothold” and its sweeping melodies, or the playful “Valence” and its heavy back and forth.

  • Aran - Pimeyttä vasten (2021)

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    As a relatively new band, Aran delivers some intense and lush Atmospheric Black Metal that many other bands wish could emulate. With “Pimeyttä vasten”, band mastermind Juhani K unleashes over 45 minutes of intense and captivating music. Filled with crushing harshness and dream-like atmospherics, this release is highly recommended for fans of bands like Lustre and Midnight Odyssey.

    The release kicks off with the magical and enchanting atmospherics of “Valon Vienyt”, a track that has that vibe that Sci-Fi/Fantasy movies create of distant realms, perfectly paired with harsh Black Metal shrieks and crushing guitars. There is an art to creating versatile atmospheric BM, and Aran has it figured out with tracks like “Musta meri”, which start quite punishing and slowly evolve into more dreamy and ambient-ish territories.

  • Cradle of Filth - Existence is Futile (2021)

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    Just in time for our Halloween parties, Cradle of Filth unleashes their latest devilishly good opus with “Existence is Futile”. Aging well with time, the band in the last 10+ years has honed into their strengths and continues to deliver consistently engaging and well crafted releases. For over 70 minutes the band unleashes their signature sound filled with lush atmospherics, engaging storytelling, fierce guitar work, and the introduction of Anabelle Iratni on keyboards and female vocals, making this one of their more diverse and engaging releases to date.

    After the traditional instrumental intro, “Existential Terror” sets a very dark and sinister tone with over-the-top choirs and orchestrations alongside Dani’s signature shrieks and some incisive guitar work. While the band’s sound is always familiar, and pieces like “Crawling King Chaos”, “Black Smoke Curling From the Lips of War” are staple CoF songs, we particularly love haunting tracks like “Necromantic Fantasies” with a certain “Nymphetamine” (song) vibe, but with Anabelle’s enchantress vocals spin and a more sultry tone.

  • Clouds - Despărțire (2021)

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    Consistently pushing the boundaries of creating misery-inducing music, Clouds is one of those bands that with each release only keeps getting better and more refined. With “Despărțire” the band sets a new bar for Atmospheric Death/Doom Metal releases with nearly 60 minutes of emotive music that will rip your heart out of its cavity in minutes. Featuring some excellent guest appearances and some additional elements to the band’s already all-encompassing sound, this release is as brilliant as any of the band’s previous efforts.

    Opening with the imposing “Deepen This Wound”, we get a very solemn vibe thanks to weeping violins and piercing riffs, perfectly paired with Daneil’s rumbling growls. The use of clean vocals provides a nice contrast and allows the music to flow into more emotional dimensions. In the piercing “This Heart, A Coffin”, the band enlisted none other than Mick Moss to provide additional vocals in this total banger of a song. We particularly enjoy the juxtaposition of the violins, tempo, and clean vocals in this very dynamic piece.

  • Illudium - Ash of the Womb (2021)

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    Unleashing one of the most emotionally charged and disarming releases of 2021, today we have Illudium with “Ash of the Womb”. With a very difficult sound to define, the band mixes elements from acts like Kate Bush, Pencey Sloe, all the way to ISIS and Alcest, creating a very dreamy and yet powerful amalgamation of melancholic sounds. If you are looking for dark, dreamy, but with a hefty dose of fuzzy heavy riffs, this release is one you can’t miss.

    Opening with the moody “Aster”, the band creates a very overpowering atmosphere with heavy distorted guitars paired with Shantel Amundson’s emotionally charged vocals and a slow but steady progression. As “Sempervirens” comes along, the mood shifts into a livelier Post-Rock/Metal territory with a wide variety of guitar progressions, crafty drumming and a solemn bass guitar line. We particularly enjoy how the band transitions between levels of melancholy, while keeping their signature elements intact.

  • Sepultura - SepulQuarta (2021)

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    Featuring guest appearances from the likes of David Ellefson to Devin Townsend, Sepultura unleashes the most star-studded release of 2021 with “SepulQuarta”. Conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic, this release features 15 Sepultura songs with a wide range of guests, creating a very unique and once-in-a-lifetime production. If you are a fan of the band, this release will be a very special addition to your collection.

    The release quickly sets a very high bar with David Ellefson playing bass guitar on one of our favorites, “Territory”. If that wasn’t enough, Scott Ian plays on “Cut Throat”, Danko Jones in “Sepulnation”, and Phil Rind in “Inner Self”, this sets a very nice trip down memory lane for some of us, while enjoying uniquely different versions of these songs. Pieces like “Hatred Aside” are very nicely enhanced by multiple guests, leaving them at some times even better than the original.

  • Carnifex - Graveside Confessions (2021)

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    Unleashing one of the most punishing and oppressive releases of 2021, today we have Carnifex and their latest opus “Graveside Confessions”. With all the pent up energy of not being able to tour during the pandemic, Scott Lewis and company return with a vengeance striking with 15 tracks and over 63 minutes of crushing Deathcore. What makes this release standout is that it is beyond brutal, something the listeners will certainly appreciate.

    Opening with the album title track, the band unleashes a brutal onslaught of harsh screams, pummeling drums, and incisive riffs that will rattled the listener off his seat. The heat is on as tracks like “Pay for Peace”, “Seven Souls”, and “Cursed” continue the violence, but with some interesting atmospheric elements thrown into the mix, making the band’s sound have more depth and variation. For example, “Carry us Away” has a very melancholic edge to it, while the typical Deathcore aggression is front and center.

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