Closing with the incisive “Envy The Moon”, we are left quite pleased with “In Splendor Below”. We expected non-stop Swedish Melodic Death/Doom Metal and that is exactly what you get with October Tide. The Norrman brothers have a great signature sound and this release maintains their legendary status since their early Katatonia days. If you like things to be consistent, direct and superbly catchy, look no further as you know exactly what to expect with this fine release.
The album starts with a bang after setting a very epic mood with the intro, in “Promises” we are instantly treated to Timo’s guitar wizardry and poignant Power Metal songwriting skills. The vocal arrangements are masterful as always, perfectly delivered by guest male vocalists Todd Michael Hall, Zak Stevens and Eduard Hovinga. Songs with duets like the album title track featuring Mariangela Demurtas, or the magical “Hear My Call”, featuring none other than Anneke van Giersbergen on vocals, are just the signature style of Avalon and we love it.
Hailing from Italy, Fleshgod Apocalypse has stormed the Symphonic Metal scene with their highly refined orchestral brutality. Perfectly blending dramatic orchestrations with complex Death Metal elements, this band delivers some of the most extreme melodic music ever written. With “Veleno”, the band further expands on their heavier side with brutal passages, and on their more melodic and theatrical side with very dramatic vocal arrangements and mellow interludes.
Opening with the ravaging brutality of “Fury”, the band makes their skills do the talking since the first song. Perfectly delivering crushing Death Metal riffs and growls in between dramatic choral arrangements, this track is quite a way to start the release. Moving on to “Carnivorous Lamb” and “Sugar”, the band showcases their dramatic orchestral layers and vicious guitar leads in yet another brutal piece. The combination of male harsh vocals, mad male clean vocals, and sweet female clean vocals works quite well and adds extra contrast to these tracks.
Hailing from Tunisia, Myrath has gained popularity and critical acclaim thanks to their very lively Progressive Metal sound beautifully adorned with Middle Eastern Folk elements. Gradually refining their style and songwriting skills, with “Shehili” the band delivers one of their most complete and fun albums to date. Featuring over 47 minutes of superb music presented in 12 lush tracks, the band creates a very unique and engaging atmosphere that is hard to imitate.
After setting a very mystical and exotic mood with the intro “Asl”, the band fully shines with the dramatic “Born to Survive”. Providing a cinematic experience, Myrath quickly immerses the listener into their own world. Not used only as a gimmick, the band’s unique Middle Eastern elements are ingrained into the music’s DNA, like on the dramatic percussions and keyboards of “You’ve Lost Yourself”, or the tempo and adornments of “Dance”, and the soaring vocal arrangements of “Wicked Dice”. Similarly to Orphaned Land, the band perfectly brings something from their culture and heritage into their music, creating a very lively and engaging sound.
Unleashing a monumental symphonic/atmospheric Doom Metal release, today we have Norway’s Abyssic and their sophomore release “High the Memory”. With some members being quite active in the Norwegian Metal scene, this band crafts a very unique and sinister vibe that is quite eerie and oppressive in nature. If you are looking for a Doom version of Fleshgod Apocalypse or similar symphonic outfits, Abyssic is the closest you will get.
The album creates a monstrous atmosphere with the opener “Adoration”, a track that features prominent guitar riffs and crushing growls, courtesy of band’s mastermind Memnoch. Things get heavier and even more atmospheric as the album title track rolls in with its 20 minutes of sweeping brutality. This track is expertly adorned with fragile keyboards and dramatic orchestrations, creating a very powerful contrast between the growls and the lush atmospherics.
Keeping to their tradition of intense and bombastic releases, Delain unleashes “Hunter’s Moon” a very lively EP which features four new tracks and ten live songs. As a small taste of what is to come, this release showcases the band firing on all cylinders as their music continues to mature and evolve. While capturing the band’s live energy, the live songs in this release cover some of the band’s greatest hits with the help of Marco Hietala on vocals.
The album leads with the first single, “Masters of Destiny”, a track that showcases Charlotte’s characteristic vocals in a very dramatic and fantasy-like setting. We particularly love how the band contrasts dramatic orchestral/choral arrangements with commanding riffs, creating a very epic and immersive sound. Things transition into heavier territories with the album’s title track, featuring harsh vocals and a faster and more dynamic pace. Showing the band’s versatility and perfect balance between heaviness and melody.
Very far removed from their days of being a Symphonic Metal powerhouse (“Mother Earth” and “The Silent Force”), Within Temptation returns after four years with “Resist”. Attempting a dead cat bounce, the band puts out an extremely overproduced release that while it might appeal to the fans the band has gained since “The Unforgiven”, it will probably completely turn off their older fan base. We rarely write bad reviews these days as we rather save the time and energy for good releases that deserve to be heard, but “Resist” was just asking for it.
The album kicks off with the first single, “The Reckoning” a song that takes about 20 seconds to realize it will be bad. With Jacoby Shaddix on guest vocals, yup, the dude from Papa Roach, this track starts the trend of overproduced tracks. The song, while trying to be heavy and melancholic falls completely flat due to their lack of imagination and passion. The trend continues with the futuristic “Endless War”, which at least has some old school vocal arrangements… at times, and the vanilla “Raise Your Banner”, which features Anders Fridén on guest vocals.
Originally a side project of Ed Guy’s mastermind Tobias Sammet, Avantasia has grown to be a full-fledged act which features tons of guest appearances and very engaging and cinematic musical experiences. In the vein of artists like Ayreon and the Trans Siberian Orchestra, this band delivers some of the most lush and intricate releases filled with interesting topics and colorful characters. With “Moonglow”, the band unleashes on hell of a release with over 70 minutes of music.
The experience begins with the lush and dramatic “Ghosts in the Moon”, a track that nicely sets a very grandiose mood. Filled with catchy vocal melodies and superb instrumentation, this track leads way to a very lively and emotional rollercoaster ride. The second track quickly rolls down the red carpet with killer vocal contributions from Ronnie Atkins, Jørn Lande, Hansi Kürsch and Mille Petrozza, making it one the the most bombastic and engaging songs of the release.
Morten Veland and company have been quite busy since their last release and now presents us with another master class of Symphonic/Gothic Metal with “Arcane Astral Aeons”. Featuring nearly one hour of music, this release continues the band’s exploration of highly atmospheric and energetic music through 12 excellent songs.
The band kicks off with the lush “In Styx Embrace” in typical Sirenia style with a heavy hitting super catchy tune filled with dramatic choir arrangements and piercing distorted guitars. Continuing with the hectic pace and dramatic orchestral arrangements, “Into the Night” is perfectly led by Emmanuelle Zoldan’s charismatic vocals. The way that the band’s music envelops the listener in over the top atmospheric elements is brilliant and one of the reasons we love the band’s music.
Led by the charismatic and highly talented Heidi Parviainen, today we have Dark Sarah’s third full-length release “The Golden Moth”. Completing “The Chronicles” trilogy, this cinematic/symphonic Metal album is full of bombastic arrangements and very dramatic instrumentation creating a magical atmosphere. Going bigger than in the past, the band instantly immerses the listeners into their lyrical context and provides a truly engaging experience.
Opening with “Desert Rose”, there is a certain mysterious mood that frames the beginning of this story very well and creates great expectation on the listener. New permanent member, JP Leppäluoto, delivers a solid vocal performance as Dragon, complementing Heidi’s angelic chants. With the band’ further setting the mood with songs like “Trespasser” and “Wheel”, the immersion feels deeper and deeper. The Jurassic Park-esque atmospheric elements of “My Beautiful Enemy”, make for a very grandiose and ear catching tracks that is quite hard to get out of your head.
Delivering a killer female-fronted Symphonic Metal opus, today we have Germany’s Beyond the Black and their third full-length release “Heart of the Hurricane”. Led by the talented and also quite beautiful Jennifer Haben, this band has a great sound that while part of a crowded genre, it easily stands out from the rest. Perfectly designed for those fans of bands like Nightwish, Tarja, Epica, and even the likes of Doro, this release will keep you quite entertained for over 60 minutes.
Things get heated quite quickly with the hard rocking catchiness of “Hysteria”, a very direct and engaging opener that shifts things into 5th gear from the start. The album title song delivers very crafty tempo changes and dramatic riffs that are very well rounded up by the emotional sultry female vocals. This song feels like a unique mixture of the dynamism of Delain and the bombastic nature of Nightwish put together. We love how the band can switch the mood of the release from one song to the next, as it happens one “Million Lightyears” opens with male clean vocals and slowly transitions in a hyper catchy chorus section.