Releasing four years after the death of Negru, “Zău” is the last piece of the Negură Bunget aural saga. With the original drum track recorded by Negru years back, and all the original musical direction and ideas in place, some of the last members of the band Tibor Kati, Adrian "OQ" Neagoe, and Petrică Ionuţescu, have managed to put this mystical release together, true to its original creation. Mixing both the dreamy/atmospheric and the heavier side of the band’s sound over the years, this release is a fitting conclusion to such a unique musical outfit.
The release sets a very dreamy and ethereal mood with the opener “Brad”, a 15-minute piece featuring angelic female vocals of Manuela Marchiș, and the band’s signature tempo changes into more aggressive territories. “Iarba Fiarelor” explores richer instrumentation and longer heavier sections, with aggressive growls alongside uplifting atmospherics. The band’s signature style is present in all aspects of this release, giving it a very nostalgic edge.
Hailing from New Jersey, Windfaerer is one of those bands that has a very European sound and has been turning heads with their intense and yet emotional brand of Black/Folk Metal. With “Breaths of Elder Dawns” the band showcases their highly refined style with over 60 minutes of lush music featuring the perfect blend of musicianship, aggression and melancholy. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Ensiferum, Equilibrium, and Eluveitie.
Opening with the lush string instruments of “Oxalá”, the band quickly transports the listener to a different realm and time. We love that this genre always creates majestic soundscapes and this outfit is one of the best at it. The band is no stranger to playing fast and melodic as the epic “Depletion” showcases this balance alongside some killer guitar leads and dramatic tempo changes.
Unleashing a very powerful and emotionally charged release, today we have Felled and their debut full-length “The Intimate Earth”. Perfectly mixing Black/Folk and some Doom Metal elements, this outfit creates a very unique and ravaging sound thanks to the misery-inducing Violin that accompanies all songs. Particularly reminding us of the short lived band Forty Days Longing, this is one hell of an emotional release filled with crafty songwriting.
Immediately a very somber mood is set with the piercing “Ember Dream” and its dramatic arrangements. Weaving back and forth intense onslaughts and melodramatic tempo changes, this track perfectly blends Black Metal with a doomier edge and some Folky elements. The mixture of harsh vocals alongside sweeping guitar leads nicely evolve into a very cathartic closing. Showing the first track was not fluke, “Fire Season on the Outer Rim” nicely continues the dramatic aural experience by adding some clean female vocals into the mix.
Creating a magical and transcendental aural experience, today we have Romania’s Dordeduh and their latest effort “Har”. It has been nine years since the band’s debut release and the wait was well worth it, thanks to the maturity and polish put into these 61 minutes of music. Mixing the early Negură Bunget folk mysticism with the modern proggy Black Metal elements of Enslaved, this release is filled with interesting passages and extremely intoxicating melodies.
The album starts with the ritualistic intro of “Timpul întâilor”, as the song evolves we get that nice playful Enslaved-esque mixture of distorted guitars, crafty tempo changes, and mystical atmospherics. This opener clocks in at 12 minutes, giving the listener a great taste of what is to come, we particularly love the very melodic and dramatic vocal arrangements in this track. The sweeping guitars and keyboards of “În vieliștea uitării”, create a very imposing mood, perfectly contrasted by sinister harsh vocals, and more playful clean vocal arrangements.
Expanding their roster to include more interesting and diverse acts, M-Theory Audio brings us today the third full-length release of Poland’s Varmia, titled “Bal Lada”. Combining Black Metal with Folk/Pagan elements, this outfit has an early Enslaved vibe in their well-crafted and highly engaging music. For over 60 minutes the band blends a wide variety of elements on top of crafty guitars and a sinister atmosphere.
The folky opener “Woanie” reminds us of Enslaved’s less proggy days, while the band sets an enigmatic pace to things. We are super fans of catchy songs and the riffs in “Bielmo” have a nice progression, allowing the listener to fully immerse himself in the band’s melodic side. The band does not stay very mellow for long as the incisive “Ruja” pairs piercing guitars with crafty drums while keeping things heavy and engaging.
Empyrium has a way of making fans way for long periods of time for new music, but yet when they release something, all is forgotten as the band’s sonic magic appeases even the most disgruntled fan. Just making us wait seven years, instead of twelve as in the last time, Schwadorf and Thomas Helm return with over 52 minutes of music that manages to merge the band’s original ingenuity and ferocity, with their more refined and Folky sound of their later releases.
The release opens with the solemn acoustic guitars of “The Three Flames Sapphire”, a track that slowly moves into more complex territories with the lush clean vocals of Thoman Helm and layers of additional classical elements. However, one of the most interesting parts is the introduction of distorted guitars and harsh vocals, turning the track’s mood in a completely new dimension and bringing back “A Wintersunset...” vibes, and this is just the first song.
As one of the liveliest releases of 2021, we have found ourselves enjoying a bit too much of Korpiklaani’s latest full-length release “Jylhä”. Featuring over 60 minutes of the band’s signature Folk Metal, this release balances the over-the-top party songs with more mellow and melodic pieces that are great to zone of the current state of affairs of the world and enjoy a nice cold beer along the songs.
Opening with the catchy “Verikoira”, the band rapidly sets a very lively and engaging tone. The hard rocking nature of this track’s guitars alongside the crafty drumming and rich instrumentation creates a very positive and party-like atmosphere. This mood continues as the band pummels through tracks like “Niemi” , “Leväluhta” and “Mylly”, all of which feature vocalist Jonne doing his thing while layers of folk instruments nicely adorn the proceedings.
The always mysterious and intoxicating sound of Völur is quite hard to describe but completely unique to experience. Delivering their third full-length release “Death Cult”, the band continues their path of darkness with a very lush, engaging, and captivating release. For nearly 40 minutes the band transports the listener into a very unique and mystical folky world that is beautifully crafted.
Starting with the hypnotic “Inviolate Grove”, the band quickly creates a very distressing atmosphere thanks to the dramatic use of string instruments and a captivating bass guitar line. For those not familiar with the band, Völur shies away from your traditional distorted guitars to a combination of pummeling bass guitar, electric violins/violas, and lush percussions, creating a very unique and dense atmosphere that can only be compared to some extent to parts of bands like Elend and early Silent Stream of Godless Elegy.
Delivering a perfect balance of speedy Epic Power/Folk Metal ballads and and folky moody pieces, Ensifeum returns with “Thalassic”. Adding extra depth to their signature sound, the band hedges a bit more into Power Metal territories while keeping their lively and upbeat style for nearly 50 minutes. Perfectly in sync with their earlier releases, this album propels the band’s sound into new territories and pleases fans with intense and engaging songs.
Setting a very epic mood with “Seafarer's Dream”, the band goes full speed with the intense “Rum, Women, Victory”, which features a bit of a Children of Bodom-esque sound mixed in with their traditional blistering melodies and crafty instrumentation. The clean vocals on “Andromeda” really give it a slighter Power Metal edge, greatly elevating this catchy and awesome song to new levels. The same can be said for “The Defense of the Sampo”, which has a certain Stratovarius meets Ensiferum vibe.
As a side project of Fen’s members The Watcher and Havenless, Fellwarden is one of those bands that delivers a sound so hypnotic and sublime that you get completely immersed into their atmosphere. In “Wreathed in Mourncloud”, the band elevate their Atmospheric Black/Folk Metal sound to a whole new dimension. For nearly 55 minutes the band unleashes what can be best described as a mixture of early Fen with Empyrium, split into six lush songs that are set to never leave your music player for the rest of the year.
The mysterious “Pathmaker” opens up with lush percussion and delivers a glimmer of light between the darkness. The clean vocals are nicely flanked by melodic guitars and crafty drumming, creating a very regal and yet dreamy atmosphere, just imagine Alcest meets Fen. The band’s aggressive side comes at the listener in full force with the ravaging “Scafell's Blight” with its moody tempo changes and dreamy interludes.