With most bands happy to just crank out full-length after full-length releases, Black Metal pioneer Ihsahn decided to challenge himself and do the opposite: break up a full-length release and deliver it as two EP’s. In “Telemark” we can hear some of his most rawest and direct compositions in quite a while, showing that this experiment has allowed Ihsahn to focus on the duality of his sound in compartmentalized approaches.
The incisive opener “Stridig” perfectly balances raw and punishing BM onslaughts with trippy Saxophone elements and a very dreamy and yet aggressive stance. With all the lyrics in Norwegian, this track has a brilliant pace and feels like yet another exploratory dimension to Ihsahn’s unique musical vision. With a bluesy aggression to it, “Nord” perfectly combines heavy riffs with crafty tempo changes and a sultry hypnotic pace thanks to a piercing bass guitar line and sinister drum patterns.
If you can imagine what Kayo Dot, Maudlin of the Well, Ephel Duath and Subterranean Masquerade would sound all blended together, then you would get close to just how expansive In Human Form sounds. Unleashing their three-songs, 49 minute opus “III”, this band pushes all boundaries into completely new dimensions and creates some of the most unique sounding Metal we have ever heard.
The release opens with the 18-minute tour de force “Apocrypha Carrion”, where the band starts off with furious guitar riffs and a very intense pace. The screamed vocals are quite hectic and very fitting for such chaotic music, but what really draws the listener is the funky subtle tempo changes mixed in with some more drastic near full-stop switches. We particularly enjoy the jazzy elements that transition the song’s multiple movements from chaos, to lush beauty and down the rabbit hole again.
Ukranian sensations Jinjer are ready to drop a massive release with their crushing “Macro”. After a small taste with their “Micro” EP, this release delivers 40 minutes of high-octane groovy music that is unlike any other band these days. Characterized by their mixture of proggy aggressive passages and both hellish and sultry vocals, the band brings their live energy into the studio on this masterful release.
Wasting no time in blowing away the listener, the album starts with the pulsating guitars of “On the Top”. Tatiana Shmailyuk harsh growls set a very crushing atmosphere, only to be brilliantly contrasted later by her clean sections. This duality of vocal styles between heavy and more mellow instrumental sections is key to the band’s unique style and catchiness, as one can hear on both “Pit of Consciousness” and “Retrospection”.
Fully embracing and developing their Progressive Metal/Rock sound, Opeth as embarked on a journey in their last few releases to discover and create an own cohesive sound. With “In Cauda Venenum”, the band seems to be nicely settled and delivers ten lush tracks that showcase their impressive progress in this genre. Released in both Swedish and English, this album is quite a treat to enjoy if you are a fan of the genre and bands like Leprous and Haken but with a funky Psychedelic punch to them.
After setting a trippy mood with the opener “Garden of Earthly Delights”, the band starts their proggy journey with the funky “Dignity”. Featuring an intricate bass guitar line and psychedelic synths and eerie vocal arrangements, this track nicely showcases the band’s craftiness. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s clean vocals are a very nice complement to the music’s craftsmanship on tracks like “Heart In Hand” and “Next of Kin”. We particularly enjoy how the band shifts tempos and hooks the listener with subtle details between transitions.
Hailing from the USA, today we have Vintersea and their very unique and interesting sophomore release “Illuminated”. Featuring tons of cool influences ranging from bands like Borknagar, Cronian to the likes of Into Eternity and more proggy outfits, this album contains nearly 40 minutes of exciting music. If you are a fan of melodic and progressive music with a very experimental edge and don’t mind growls or clean female vocals, this is certainly something to check out.
The album deceivingly starts quite intense with “Spawn Awakening”, but this does not last too long as the track transitions into proggy and dreamy territories quite quick. With the opening track finishing quite intensely, the band nicely transitions to the mellower “Old Ones”, which is led by the fantastic clean vocals of Avienne Low. With Avienne also handling the harsh vocals, the transitions are quite seamless and interesting, allowing the songs to shift moods very quickly and dramatically, as on the excellent melancholic track “Illuminated”.
Unleashing a truly unique amalgamation of Doom Metal with Progressive/Post-Metal influences, today we have Oceanwake and their latest opus “Lights Flashing in Mute Scenery”. For 45 minutes this outfit delivers seven tracks filled with traditional elements unconventionally arranged. Particularly appealing for those of us that like to be challenged by music, this release has a high replay value as you will always discover something new with each listen.
The album starts with the dreamy intro to “Radiant Nightbreak”, which transforms into a moody clash between clean and harsh vocals. With crushing riffs and a very depressive atmosphere, the album continues with “The Occult”, a piece that starts heavier and then it turns into a lush atmospheric Post-Rock-ish composition, only to close strong with a crushing Post-Metal/Hardcore onslaught.
Unleashing the first candidate for album of the year, today we Týr and their mesmerizing eight full-length release “Hel”. Featuring nearly 70 minutes of superbly catchy and yet very intricate and crafty music, this album elevates the band’s sound to new heights and further cements their legacy as one of the best in their genre. Perfectly combining their signature elements from their early releases with more playful and free flowing elements, this release appeals to fans both old and new from this Faroese band.
Opening with “Gates of Hel”, the band’s charismatic front man, Heri Joensen, unleashes the perfect balance of guitar wizardry and catchiness to create a very engaging and heavy track. We are fans of the band’s usage of multiple layers of vocals and the opener nicely blends them with some harsher screams. As “All Heroes Fall” rolls in, we can instantly feel the band’s traditional proggy magic, mastefully paired with tight drumming patterns and blistering solos. For those looking for the Folkier side of the band, “Ragnars kvæði” has that “Hold the Heathen Hammer High” epic vibe, but on a more somber and dramatic tone.
It is not everyday that you receive a release from a band hailing from Iran. With our curiosity peaked, Eternal Candle’s debut full-length “The Carved Karma”, is one hell of a Progressive Death/Doom Metal release. Combining elements from old-school Death Metal, Doom Metal all perfectly paired with a Progressive edge, this release delivers almost one full hour of masterful music. For fans of old Opeth, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, this release will certainly resonate with you.
Immediately after the dreamy instrumental opener, the band gets down to business with the sheer power of “The Ripped Soul”. Reminding us of Amorphis on their “Privilege of Evil” days, this track is heavy and pummeling, thanks to its powerful riffs and old-school vibe. Things quickly move into more Progressive / Katatonia-esque territories with the intricate “Sick Romance”, and even further into old-school Death/Doom influences with “A Path to Infinity”.
Unleashing one of the most expected and full of hype (in some circles) releases of 2018, In the Woods… delivers one of their most direct and engaging albums. Filled with over 53 minutes of music, the band leaves no stone unturned with their highly diverse and creative musical repertoire. If you thought “Pure” was a one-off release after their return from a 14-year hiatus, this album will set the record straight that they are fully back and ready to rock.
Opening with the mystical “Empty Streets”, the band invokes similarities to old school outfits like Yearning, but with their own Progressive influences. James Fogarty had been instrumental for the band’s return and with his performance in this album (and the live shows) he cements his legacy in the storied history of this band. Going from soaring clean vocal passages to frenetic harsh sections, his vocals work wonders with the band’s unique music. As tracks like “Substance Vortex” and the epic “Respect My Solitude” establish the album’s mood, we are instantly brought back to the band’s revolutionary beginnings with a plethora of influences and genres mixed in together in perfect unison.
It is rare for us to find a release that is just so catchy that we drop everything else we have to review and focus 100% on it. Luckily for us, The Moor’s latest album “Jupiter’s Immigrants” falls in this very elusive category. Delivering nine brilliant and super melodic tracks, this Italian band managed to capture our undivided attention for hours on end. Mixing Progressive Metal and Rock elements, this album will captivate you since the first few seconds until the last note.
Opening with the highly melodic riffing of “Lead the Difference”, the band’s vocal melodies are what hooks you right in. Reminding us a bit of Edu Falaschi’s Almah, this band does a super job in oozing melody and catchines as we can hear in the album’s titled track. Packed with hefty dose of heavy riffs, subtle atmospheric keyboards and the guest appearance of Mikael Stanne, this title track is hands down one of the best songs of 2018.