This 2023 is starting with a bang with tons of new releases from well established bands, luckily for us, Katatonia was also one of them. Being huge fans of the band, “Sky Void of Stars” is just your typical excellent release, filled with crafty vocal arrangements and sorrowful melodies. Featuring ten tracks and 45 minutes of magic, this release will please any fan of the band’s more modern Alternative Rock/Metal side.
Opening with the epic “Austerity”, Jonas Renkse belts out his signature vocal melodies alongside crafty guitar work from Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson. The band’s moody tunes like “Colossal Shade”, “Opaline”, and “Birds” are filled with excellent melodic passages alongside well-timed tempo changes and brilliant drumming. The band is a well-oiled machine when it comes to perfectly mixing melancholy with heavy guitars and catchiness.
Just in time to kick off 2023, Vile Valo (ex-H.I.M) is ready to drop his debut solo release titled “Neon Noir”. This unique singer is ready to get back on the Heartagram train and delivers twelve extremely characteristic tracks filled with soaring vocal arrangements and unrivaled melancholy. If you are a fan of HIM you will certainly love this release as it is full of superbly catchy and intoxicating songs that will leave you listening to it on repeat for days on end.
The release starts with the dreamy “Echolocate Your Love” and its playful synths flanking Vile’s gifted vocals. The song has his signature dark and yet lively mood, with a catchy chorus and nice distorted guitars. Quickly, the power ballad “Run Away from the Sun” leads to soaring vocal arrangements and a very intoxicating serenading mood. With a nice Amorphis-esque acoustic guitar intro, “Neon Noir” is yet another excellent track in this release with lush arrangements and well crafted tempo changes.
Unleashing one of the dreamiest and most ethereal releases of 2022, today we have Remina and their debut album “Strata”. Formed as a project of vocalist Heike Langhans (ex-Draconian, Light Field Reverie) and Mike Lamb (Sojourner, Light Field Reverie), this release delivers over 40 minutes of highly atmospheric and truly cinematic music. Mixing elements from ISON and Light Field Reverie, this band creates truly emotive music that will take the listener on a magical journey.
The release starts building momentum with the solemn opener “Aeon Rains”, which slowly progresses with Heike’s enchanting vocals and a slew of distant guitars, crafty electronics and melancholic atmospherics. The Doominess first comes under the name of “Obsidian” and its slow and mournful riffs, perfectly enshrouding the layered vocals. By the time “Dying Sun” comes around, the listener is already fully immersed in a trance, perfectly crafted by the band’s powerful atmosphere and melancholic powers.
Unleashing a monolithic piece of highly engaging and melancholy oozing music, today we have Elegeion, with their first full-length release in 17 years, and “Plights of the Heretic”. Hailing from Australia, Elegeion was one of those bands that we got introduced to via the Modern Invasion Music label, the other band was a personal favorite: Chalice. Continuing exactly where they left off, but with a mostly new line-up, we are treated to 49 minutes of heart-wrenching melancholic music.
The release starts with the album title track featuring some engaging and mysterious momentum building percussion. Around the second and third minute of this song, the Elegeion signature melodic riffs and guitar leads come in alongside Kindabah’s solemn and excellent vocals. The band’s sound is quite unique to them, and its creator Anthony Kwan, but for the uninitiated, it's highly melancholic and yet straightforward. The somber melancholy perfectly bleeds into the excellent “Dust” and its lush string arrangements paired with harsh vocals and a very Doomy tempo.
Led by the talented Mariangela Demurtas of Tristania fame, and multi-instrumentalist/producer Kris Laurent, Ardours is one of those rare unique bands that manages to perfectly blend all kinds of cool elements from Gothic Rock to Metal to 80’s new wave. With “Anatomy of a Moment” they hone in on the strengths of their debut album and unleash nearly 45 minutes of superbly catchy music filled with soaring vocal melodies, lush atmospheric arrangements and a hefty dose of funky beats.
Opening with the magical futuristic atmospherics of “Epitaph For A Spark”, one could immediately think the band turned into another Amaranthe, but as soon as the soothing guitars and Mariangela’s vocals come on, the whole vibe changes into a completely different beast. The band’s ability to create different moods, some darker or more playful than others, is their biggest strength as they deliver songs like “Insomniac”, “Identified”, and “Secret Worlds”, which range in styles but still feature a cohesive core of solid guitar work, crafty drumming and soaring vocal leads.
Constantly evolving, American outfit Our Dying World returns with their latest release “Hymns Of Blinding Darkness”, with an engaging Symphonic/Gothic Metal sound. While not extremely polished and still a bit rough around the edges, this outfit delivers nearly 40 minutes of exciting music showcasing good skill and promising songwriting abilities.
After setting the mood with the opener “Ars Moriendi”, the band unleashes “Everything We Know Is Gone”, a track that has a Dark Lunacy vibe, with additional Power/Symphonic Metal elements in the relentless guitar work and keyboards. This style works very well for the band as they deliver engaging songs like “Under The Hunter's Blade”, “Survivor”, and “Path Of The Nomad”.
Creating a very unique mixture of Black/Death/Gothic Metal, today we have Russia’s Saphath and their debut full-length release “Ascension of the Dark Prophet”. Delivering over 44 minutes of music, the ten tracks in this release nicely blend elements from bands like Behemoth, Moonspell, Epica, Dark Tranquillity, and creates a very bombastic and engaging listening experience with tons of hidden details to discover.
Opening with the lush “Children of the Night”, the band delivers vibrant guitars alongside a mixture of aggressive vocals and crafty tempo changes. The music is heavy, but with enough room to incorporate melodic passages and fierce guitar solos. This more melodic and bombastic nature comes front and center in pieces like “Outcast of Eden”, the gothic “Darkness Unleashed”, and the Moonspell-esque “Broken Mirror”. All tracks blend their influences quite well, and still manage to deliver a certain modern Metal edge as shown in “The Daughter of Ice Pains”.
Fronted by the charismatic Chiara Tricarico, today we have a superbly bombastic release filled with Symphonic/Gothic and Power Metal elements titled “Animus”. As the third full-length release of Moonlight Haze, the band shows maturity and refinement in their style, delivering almost 45 minutes of catchy and engaging music
Opening with “The Nothing”, we instantly get that lush and explosive vibe of bands like Nightwish, Visions of Atlantis, Epica, etc. However, what sets the band apart is Tricarico’s vocals and their own dynamism as shown in the dreamy “It’s Insane”, “Kintsugi” and its lush choral arrangements, and our personal favorite the cinematic “The Thief and the Moon”.
Led by Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun), Kuolemanlaakso, a Finnish outfit, delivers killer Death/Doom Metal with some Gothic elements. With “Kuusumu” the band further expands it sound and incorporates some more modern elements alongside their highly emotional and soul crushing antics. The band’s Finnish only lyrics add an extra layer of uniqueness to their piercing sound.
Opening with the dazzling atmospherics of “Pimeys laski”, a very somber and yet lush mood is set. The combination of clean and harsh vocals alongside female vocals and harsh shrieks gives the music a very theatrical versatility, like on the Therion-esque “Katkeruuden malja”, or the punishing “Surusta meri suolainen”. Far from linear and traditional, the band’s Doom influences provide a nice contrast to faster and heavier elements thrown into the mix as “Kuohuista tulisten koskien” showcases.
Keeping themselves busy during the last couple of years, Finland’s Hanging Garden is set to unleash their latest EP titled “Neither Moth nor Rust”. After their very impressive 2021 release, this EP delivers around 25 minutes of highly dynamic and engaging music, with a well balanced mixture of Gothic and Doom Metal influences, this album reminds us of late Theater of Tragedy, To/Die/For/ and Beseech releases.
Creating a very somber and yet lively atmosphere, the album title track delivers a well balanced mix of growls and clean male and female vocals, alongside engaging and catchy music. This playful vibe continues on tracks like the dreamy “The Last Dance”, and the atmospheric “And Leave All Love Behind”, showcasing the band’s versatility and craftiness to write highly emotional and yet diverse songs.