Today we have Norwegian Metal/Rock vocalist Pellek (Per Fredrik Asly) delivering is sophomore album titled “Ocean of Opportunity”. As a highly ambitious self-released album, Pellek and company (he now has band members for this album cycle) deliver more than 45 minutes of expertly crafted Power/Progressive Metal with a nice dosage of symphonic elements. Being a concept album, the nine tracks in this release nicely come together and keep a very steady and engaging flow making the release very solid and interesting.
Opening with very regal orchestrations on “Elucidation”, we can immediately enjoy the album’s crystal-clear production and PelleK’s talented vocals. This song is quite powerful and enjoyable, but it holds itself from letting the listener know all that is hidden under Pellek’s bag of tricks. Immediately reminding us of Nightwish, “Northern Wayfarer” makes things more dynamic with lush guitar work and very solid solos.
In the very crowded Symphonic/Gothic Metal scene, it is quite the challenge to pick out the gems from the duds. However, Crownless makes it very easy since their musical style is quite diverse and perfectly executed, delivering ten tracks of majestic music. For all fans of Epica, Xandria, After Forever, etc., this band crafts super catchy songs with excellent melodic elements and even better vocal arrangements.
Opening with the very engaging “Lost Inside”, we immediately hear the Epic influences in the catchy guitars and solid orchestrations. Vanessa 'Nane' Ramirez vocals are quite powerful and are the perfect signature elements for the band’s music. Things get more dynamic with the exciting “Dark Embrace” and “Ravens in the Storm”, filled with lush vocal arrangements and some awesome guitar work. The band’s ability to combine many other’s elements into a compact and powerful sound is one of their best assets in the scene.
Finally returning with a full length since “Rubicon”, today we have Tristania and their latest opus “Darkest White”. Being one of the few surviving bands of the original wave of Gothic Metal bands from the late 90’s, Tristania has been evolving with time and adapting their sound to be catchier and diverse. Since the departure of their iconic singer Vibeke back in 2007, this band has slowly been coping for this loss with the addition of Mariangela Demurtas and Kjetil Nordhus vocal talents.
“Darkest White” delivers the best songs of this latest era of the band, delivering over 50 minutes of lush symphonic elements, excellent vocal arrangements, and quite powerful music in general. Opening with “Number”, we immediately thought we had the wrong album playing since this track starts very heavy and almost Black Metal-esque. As the chorus part comes in, we immediately get the traditional Tristania vibe thanks to its richness and catchiness.
Arriving all the way from Spain, today we have the debut release of Embersland, a very interesting and unique band. In “Sunrise” the band mixes elements of Gothic Rock, Symphonic Metal, and even some growls are thrown into the mix to create a very different and enjoyable sound. Featuring almost 50 minutes of music, this self-released album is quite diverse and will constantly keep you guessing what is coming up next.
Opening with the epic “Why”, the band starts in very HIM-like manner with the deep male vocals. Growls and diverse backing vocals make this track (and album) quite tricky to pin down, and this is one of its best attributes. The keyboard arrangements are quite lush and the guitars quite powerful making for very engaging and enjoyable music. The band’s ability to switch between moods in a song is quite good, and the best example of this is the progression of the song “In Vain”.
Always known for pushing the boundaries of Metal with their quite unique musical vision and extremely unexpected releases, Atrocity this time delivers a very direct and quite ‘traditional’ release that might puzzle some people. Getting slammed by the press for releases like “Werk 80” and “Calling The Rain”, the band sticks to a more traditional approach on “Okkult”. For 12 tracks, this German outfit delivers enjoyable tracks that will surely get the attention of older Atrocity fans and fans of Melodic/Symphonic Death Metal from the early 2000’s.
Opening with the Therion/Cradle of Filth-esque “Pandaemonium”, the band seems to be on track for a very direct and powerful release. The choir arrangements are quite chilling and they are greatly countered by Alexander Krull’s powerful growls. “Death By Metal” takes us back to the earlier days of Death Metal with crushing riffs and crazy solos, a great contrast from the first and following tracks, but solid nonetheless. The symphonic arrangements come back on songs like “March Of The Undying” and “Murder Blood Assassination”, both very catchy and effective tracks.
We at Infernal Masquerade are not huge fans of compilation releases, but when it comes to one of our favorite bands, Delain, we have to make an exception and review “Interlude”. Featuring two brand new songs, three cover songs, two ‘different versions’ of tracks from “We Are The Others”, and a few live songs, this release is mainly for hardcore fans and collectors of the band.
Keeping their more accessible and even Pop-ish sound on “Breathe On Me”, the band delivers a catchy tune that is quite enjoyable. Charlotte’s vocals are as angelic as ever, and the slow tempo allows them to shine nicely. Martijn Westerholt does a solid job providing lush keyboards that carry the chorus section of the song. “Collars And Suits” keeps the band’s tradition of excellent Symphonic elements offset by killer guitars and the charisma of the band’s vocalist. We have to say that this is the best song of the release, and up to par with the best from “We Are The Others”.
Featuring almost 80 minutes of beautifully crafted Progressive/Melodic Rock, today we have Germany’s Blacklands and their latest release “A New Dawn”. In this very competitive and highly repetitive music scene, it is quite refreshing to hear such a heartfelt and powerful release. With “A New Dawn”, the band takes traditional Melodic Rock with Progressive elements and ads lush female vocals for a great dramatic and highly pleasing effect, something that will surely appeal to fans from Gothic Metal all the way to Progressive Rock aficionados.
Opening the release with the melancholic “Cold Embrace”, we get first glance of the excellent keyboards of Manfred Reinecke together the vivid and sultry voice of Moja Nardelli. This song also shows the clear Progressive elements in the band’s music perfectly mixed with their more melodic and at times Symphonic/Gothic Metal influences. With a folky edge, “Dance of The Witches” nicely changes up the pace and showcases the band’s versatility.
Delivering their swan song release, today we have Trail of Tears and possibly one of their best albums in their career: “Oscillation”. Surrounded by crazy drama over their facebook page and plastered all over the internet, and internal struggle once more has destroyed this band with Ronny Thorsen finally opting (for now) to put the band to rest. Featuring 13 tracks and over 50 minutes of intense and lush Symphonic/Gothic Metal, this release marks the seventh and final release of a great band.
Drama aside, “Oscillation” features very emotional tracks that bring the band back to their “Disclosure in Red” style, in terms of melancholy and raw emotions. “Waves of Existence” opens this release with lush symphonic sections and very melancholic vocals from Catherine Paulsen. The atmosphere feels very emotional and quite catchy indeed. Other tracks like “Scream Out Loud” have a more pop-ish feeling similar to bands like Amaranthe and Unsun.
After blowing us away with “Delta”, we had high expectations for “Ethera” and the band seemed to drop the ball on a few tracks in this release making it less impressive. However, not all is lost and Visions of Atlantis manages to deliver some good and bombastic songs that make up for the ground lost by some of the inferior tracks.
With “Delta” achieving an awesome level of explosiveness and bombastic elements, the band tries to start “Ethera” with a similar approach but introducing some futuristic keyboard sounds that don’t really work with the rest of the elements in this release. “The Ark” is a clear example of this, making it sound very disconnected. On “Machinage” near the end there are some truly horrible spoken sections accompanied by some robotic auto-tune like effects that just made us want to pierce our eardrums.
After their breakthrough release “Death & Legacy”, Serenity seems to be easing into their own bombastic sound with “War Of Ages”. Incorporating a full-time female vocalist (Clémentine Delauney), the band delivers ten tracks filled with lush orchestrations and very dynamic arrangements. Any fan of Symphonic Metal with some Progressive and Power Metal elements will be eating this one for breakfast… and the rest of the day for countless weeks.
Starting strong with the super catchy “Wings of Madness”, a track that has a killer chorus section and excellent vocal duets, the band shows that their last release was not a fluke. The combination of Georg Neuhauser and Clémentine’s vocals has great chemistry and they sound great in this track (and release in general). In the very Epica-like “The Art of War” and “Shining Oasis”, the band shows their skills on faster paced and more dynamic songs while keeping their own signature sound.