Here is a band we never thought we would hear from again: Denmark’s Mercenary makes a triumphant return with “Soundtrack to the End of Times”. For the uninitiated, the band had a great run in the 2000’s with killer releases like “Architect of Lies” and our favorite “11 Dreams”. Crafting a mixture of Melodic Death/Power Metal, the band’s sound is still fresh, powerful and engaging, delivering over 60 minutes of high-octane music.
Opening with the crafty “Burning in Reverse”, the band brings back those excellent memories of their dramatic clean/harsh vocal lines alongside catchy melodic riffs and superb guitar leads. Dusting off the cobwebs early on, the soaring melodies the band creates continue to be top notch as songs like “Heart of the Numb”, “Where Darkened Souls Belong”, and “Through this Blackened Hatred” perfectly showcase their musicianship and experience.
Melodic Death Metal
It has been a while since Janne Warman has turned his attention to Warmen and their insanely fast and technical music. While their previous 2014 release was meh at best, their first four albums are just amazing. With “Here for None”, Janne alongside his brother and new additions Petri Lindross and Seppo Tarvainen, return with a refreshed sound that is more aggressive, (a bit) slower, and yet more cohesive and equally enjoyable.
Opening with the catchy “Warmen are Here for None”, the band quickly unleashes their more aggressive nature with Lindross snarl and heavier/more melodic death metal-esque guitar work. However, the magic of Warmen is always present as Janne’s over the top keyboards and Antti’s guitar wizardry as songs like “The Driving Force”, “A World of Pain”, and “Too Much, Too Late” demonstrate. There are certain Children of Bodom elements in the music, but the band imprints their own spin, like one epic songs such as “Night Terrors”.
Opening with the title track, the band immediately creates a splash with ravaging and superbly catchy guitars alongside Johannes Andersson’s characteristic snarl and thumping bass guitar lines. Quickly creating that heavy and yet melodic bombastic vibe, the band’s firing on all cylinders as things get catchier and darker with the playful “Axis Mundi”.
Setting a mysterious and yet engaging modern vibe with the opener “The Dawn”, the band really sets back into their heavy and yet very melodic ways with “Destroyer”. As always, Tuomas and Juho Räihä are experts in creating catchy and engaging guitar driven melodies. However, the clean vocals are just not really ideal. Don’t get us wrong Paavo Laapotti is a good singer, but not the Before the Dawn singer we expected. I know we are a bit biased as we are huge Eikind fans, but always have an open mind. We like Finnish mopey vocals, like Mikko Heikkilä and Tuomas Tuominen, but these just don’t do it for us.That being said, we'll just focus the rest of the review on the music and harsh vocals.
Finally! After ten years of waiting, Saturnus returns with another full-length release titled “The Storm Within”. Being a fan of the band has meant waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more between releases, but now that the time has come: the band delivers with this one. Oozing soul crushing melancholy, this release features nearly 60 minutes of crushing Doom, just what we expected from this band.
Opening with the album title track, the release slowly picks up as Thomas and his deep growls come front and center. With two new guitarists: Indee Rehal-Sagoo (lead) and Julio Fernandez (rhythm), the band’s sound is slightly different, with more ‘upbeat’ songs that border more in the melodic Death Metal realm, like “Breathe New Life”. However, the punishing and slow magic of their previous releases is also present in demoralizing pieces like “Chasing Ghosts” and “The Calling”.
The highly underrated Graveworm is finally back after eight years since their last release and with “Killing Innocence” they are making up for lost time. With a very unique mixture of Melodic Death/Black/Gothic Metal, this band has released some pretty epic albums over the years and they now unravel ten tracks and around 50 minutes of highly engaging music. Hailing from Italy, this band has a very unique sound and a knack for highly melodic songs, as this release is a testament to.
Opening with “Escorting the Soul”, we get a sinister and engaging atmospheric introduction that slowly transforms into pummeling drumming and crafty riffing. Having a certain Hypocrisy-esque vibe from their “The Fourth Dimension” period, “We are the Resistance” is an excellent track with excellent guitars and tempo, creating a very mysterious and yet highly melodic piece. The band’s sound has a retro-sounding component to it, drawing older listeners like ourselves into their style.
Few Melodic Death Metal bands have had the consistency and tenacity of Omnium Gatherum. Slowly building up their reputation when they were on LifeForce Records until their switch to Century Media, the band has gradually gotten better and better. With “Slasher”, the band reminds us of their quality with four killer tracks, one cover, two outtakes from their 2021 “Origin” release, and a brand new song. Be prepared to headbang non-stop from start to finish of this sweet EP, so be warned and be ready.
As one of the most promising and epic Melodic Death Metal bands, Countless Skies has blown us away with their killer full length releases “Glow” and “New Dawn”. With “Resonance”, the band dabbles into the live in the studio recordings territory with great success. Featuring songs from both their full-length releases, this five track EP is just what the doctor ordered to keep the momentum going for this excellent band.
The release opens with “Daybreak” from their “New Dawn” release and they completely nail it. We love how this track sounds slightly different with a higher emphasis on the cello arrangements from Arianna Mahsayeh. The other track from the same release is a shorter version of the Insomnium-esque “Wanderer”, again showcasing their insanely good lead guitars alongside melancholy dripping melodic passages.
As a great complement and alternative to bands like Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, and similar outfits, Marianas Rest has taken the scene by surprise with their highly melancholic and Doomy Melodic Death Metal. With “Auer” the band continues to deliver waves of atmosphere and bleakness in eight expertly crafted tracks. If you are a fan of melancholy, atmosphere, and heavy Death/Doom vibes, this is a release you can’t miss out on.
Opening with the album title track, we get a piercing mid-tempo track with punishing vocals and crafty guitars. The band really warms up as “Diseased” and “Light Reveals Our Wounds”, as we get more familiar melodic riffs and the atmospheric keyboards of Aapo Koivisto (Omnium Gatherum). We particularly enjoy how subtle and yet effective the atmosphere is, perfectly pairing with Jaakko Mäntymaa’s mixture of spoken and harsh vocals.
Mostly stable line-ups and consistency have been the fundamental pillars behind Insomnium and their music. For “Anno 1696” the band continues to deliver their highly melancholic Melodic Death Metal but with a few additional elements that nicely revamp their signature style and keeps it fresh. The majority of die-hard fans for the band will find what they want here, but it also provides that little extra that for some of us that were looking for something a bit different.
Opening with “1696” we get mood setting clean guitars and atmospherics that quickly transform into Melodic Death Metal bliss with the signature Insomnium riffing. However, the band chooses to go faster rather than safe and typical, creating a bit of a different pace before settling into their traditional superbly melodic leads and headbanging passages. Having a couple of guests like Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ) and Johanna Kurkela on “White Christ” and “Godforsaken” respectively, gives the band a different edge while still oozing melancholy.
Making our first review of a 2023 album, today we have Finland’s Admire the Grim and their debut EP “Rogue Five”. Featuring a crafty Melodic Death Metal sound, this new outfit delivers five tracks and around 16 minutes of superbly catchy and engaging music. If you are a fan of Finnish MeloDeath bands, this outfit is right up your alley as they have the skills to carve themselves a path in the genre.