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.
Melodic Death Metal
Seemingly frozen in time, today we have, after 17 years, Epoch of Unlight's latest opus “At War With the Multiverse”. We were huge fans of the band back in the early 2000’s and their fresh thrashy Melodic Death Metal music, which was echoed by bands like Estuary of Calamity and Sacramentum to some extent. In this new release, the band unleashes around 42 minutes of catchy and well-crafted music that has a certain nostalgic retro sound, but will please anybody that is a fan of Death/Black Metal with melodic tendencies.
The opening riffs of “The Anthropocene”, bring us back to the early days of North American Death Metal, namely Suffocation, Incantation, and similar outfits. However, the special Epoch of Unlight sauce lies in the melodic passages in songs like “The Numbing Stillness”, “Wrath of the Cryomancer”, and “An Amaranthine Line”, which perfectly switch between neck-snapping chugging sections, to clean and blistering guitar leads and solos.
The highly productive Tuomas Saukkonen is back with one more new release in 2022, now with his main band Wolfheart and “King of the North”. Featuring around 50 minutes of engaging and highly addictive music, this release continues his Melodic Metal explorations with plenty of melancholy and a few surprises here and there. Always keeping things interesting and very high quality, this release will surely please all of his fans.
Setting a very regal mood with “Skyforger”, the keyboards give way to signature melodic riffs and very well crafted headbanging-inducing tempo changes. Shaking things up a bit, “Ancestor” is a faster track with guest vocals from Jesse Leach of KSE fame, giving the song a different edge (no, not metalcore), thanks to the clean vocal arrangements and melodic passages. While “Knell” has more of a Gothic vibe due to its imposing atmospheric keyboards and slower paced sections.
It has been a while since we got an album that we have to drop everything we are doing in order to pay full attention. Luckily for us, An Abstract Illusion’s sophomore release “Woe” is one of those rare gems. Unleashing nearly one hour of highly melancholic Atmospheric/Melodic Death/Progressive Metal, this band will turn heads with their excellent songwriting skills and brilliant delivery. Just think of Cynic meets Bel’akor meets Countless Skies, as this release is both explosive and bombastic.
Opening with the crafty “The Behemoth That Lies Asleep”, the band sets a magical and dreamy mood with dramatic guitar leads and ethereal atmospherics. Reminding us a bit of Andora’s Persefone, “Slaves” perfectly balances agression with lush instrumental passages and crafty arrangements. Clocking in at 11 minutes, “Tear Down This Holy Mountain” is one blistering piece that expertly builds momentum with dramatic tempo changes, including some magical jazzy passages.
Since the addition of Alissa White-Gluz on vocals, and Jess Loomis on guitars back in 2014, Arch Enemy has massively improved the dynamics of their sound and now function like a precise Swiss watch when making catchy and technically brilliant music. On “Deceivers”, the band channels their creativity on 11 tracks and nearly 45 minutes of their signature sound… but better.
Opening with the scorcher of “Handshake with Hell”, we get killer guitar leads, superbly catchy melodies, and a very crafty mixture of harsh and clean vocals, making this one hell of an opener and a small taste of what is to come. It is quite impressive how the band’s Melodic Death Metal sound is like no one else, as their Heavy Metal (e.g. “The Watcher” and “In the Eye of the Storm”) and even Thrash Metal (e.g. “Deceiver, Deceiver”, “Spreading Black Wings”) nicely complement the barrage of melodic riffs and wild guitar leads.
Coming to take the best Melodic Death Metal release of 2022 title, today we have The Halo Effect and their debut full-length release “Days of the Lost”. For the uninitiated, as soon as this band was announced, we knew they would release something insanely awesome. Featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) on vocals, and pretty much every good musician In Flames started or had a long time with, like Jesper Strömblad and Niclas Engelin on guitars, Daniel Svensson on drums, and Peter Iwers on bass, this line-up is beyond stacked.
Immediately making an impact with “Shadowminds”, we quickly get an old-school Dark Tranquillity whiff, but this is slowly replaced with a very interesting hybrid of both early DT and In Flames, but with a modern edge, experienced musicianship, and excellent production values. It is very cool to hear songs like the album title track, “The Needless End” and “Conditional”, and wonder if this is how things would have shaken out if these guys would have made music together since back in the day.
With more and more Melodic Death Metal bands incorporating more modern elements and tons of keyboards to their sound, it is quite refreshing to listen to Decaptacon and their purely-guitar drive old-school Melodic Death Metal release “For Those Who Died”. For fans of old Gardenian, At The Gates, all the way to Centinex and Entombed, this is one crafty release that will bring back some nostalgic moments.
Opening with the sweeping “Buried Alive”, the band very quickly sets a high-octane mode with crafty riffs, superb drumming and dramatic melodic guitar leads. Showing this was not a fluke, “A New Lease of Life”, “Until We Drown”, and “Inner Captivity”keep things rolling with a hearty dose of harsh vocals mixed in some pretty epic headbanging moments and intricate guitar leads.
Hailing from Finland, today we have Amongst The Ashes, a very interesting band that fuses Middle Eastern elements with a solid Melodic Death/Thrash Metal foundation. With a bit of an Orphaned Land/The Ottoman Empire vibe, “The Fabricated Monolith” provides the listener with a small sample of the band’s songwriting chops and solid execution.
Bringing back that seminal 90’s Swedish Melodic Death Metal sound that most of its originators have lost over the years, today we have Darkness Everywhere and their release “The Seventh Circle”. If you heard the songs without any album information, you will swear you are listening to some obscure track from early In Flames. Seven tracks are enough to put this excellent outfit on our radar for the future.
After a short intro, “Darkness Everywhere” opens this release with energetic riffs filled with melody and nostalgia. We are huge fans of this kind of sound and the band perfectly captures the early At the Gates/Dark Tranquillity vibe in songs like “The Grand Impact”, “Lost Dimensions” and “Reign of Chaos”. These songs will have you headbanging from start to finish with the crafty tempo changes, as on the stand out “Reign of Chaos”.
Just like no time has passed since their last release…sixteen years ago, Germany’s Mystic Circle returns with their explosive brand of Melodic Black/Death Metal. With their eponymous release, the band continues their journey unleashing nearly 50 minutes of high-octane music. For the uninitiated, this band was torching stages with their unique sound back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s before splitting up for quite a while.
There is a certain charm to the sound behind those legendary late 90’s early 2000’s Melodic Black/Death Metal releases from bands like Catamenia, Agathodaimon, Siebenbürgen, Old Man's Child, etc, and this release perfectly captures it as “Belial Is My Name” delivers its first notes. The melodic nature of pieces like “Seven Headed Dragon” and “Letters from the Devil”, give that devilish sinister vibe the band has imprinted in their early releases.