We are extremely glad that the band that got us into Symphonic Black Metal in the 90’s is back in full form and has stayed away from their weird Techno/Industrial phase. …and Oceans delivered two brilliant releases in the late 90’s, then dropped two super weird and ahead of their time releases only to mostly disappear for almost a decade. With “As in Gardens, So in Tombs” the band showcases a lush and evolved sound filled with epic melodies and crafty atmospherics.
Opening with the album title track, the band’s retro approach to the genre perfectly balances furious guitar work over playful keyboards. While most bands these days make the keyboards overbearing, this Finnish outfit uses them to complement their core sound as they never feel over the top. Tracks like “The Collector and His Construct”, “Within Fire and Crystal”, and “Carried on Lead Wings” have that old Tartaros and Limbonic Art vibe adorned with ‘new’ vocalist Mathias Lillmåns of Finntroll harsh scream onslaughts.
Symphonic Black Metal
Unleashing a blistering piece of majestic Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal, today we have newcomers Pestilent Hex. Polished in over five years, this album captures the magic of keyboard driven BM of the 90’s, with similarities to Emperor, Tartaros, Limbonic Art, however, the band manages to sound like something completely different. Be prepared for a dramatic and highly engaging 40-minute experience.
The release opens with the album titled chapter I, which sets a very hectic opening with blistering drumming, furious riffing, and powerful harsh vocals. This track nicely morphs into a very dramatic and intense atmospheric affair with piercing synths and lush piano arrangements. Both “Nature of the Spirit” and “Mephistophelean Liaison” perfectly build up on such a killer opener with tons of dynamic arrangements, dramatic tempo changes, and heaps of emotion and melody, making up for a very powerful first part of this release.
Back in the day, Agathodaimon was one of those bands that pushed Black Metal into Symphonic/Gothic territories with some brilliant releases like “Blacken the Angel” and “Higher Art of Rebellion”. Unfortunately the band split up in 2014, leaving behind great promise and a very solid and unique sound. Fast forward to 2022, Sathonys is back with Chris Bonner on vocals and a set of new members with “The Seven”.
Featuring ten tracks and around 45 minutes of music, this release feels a bit exploratory, unleashing some killer tracks alongside some odd elements that take a few listens to fully digest. As “La Haine” rolls in with piercing riffs, hellish harsh screams and a fast pace, time is erased and Agathodaimon is certainly back. There are some superb sinister melodic passages that change the mood of the track and are nicely adorned by lush synths, alongside some not-so-great clean vocals. This approach is mimicked in “Ain't Death Grand” and “Ghosts of Greed”, both fairly solid tracks but with odd and contrasting clean vocal arrangements.
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.
Unleashing waves of Vampiric Black Metal, today we have Australia’s Krvna and their debut full-length release “Sempinfernus”. With over 35 minutes of intense music, this release reminds us of early Dimmy Borgir, Old Man’s Child, and similar outfits, filled with atmosphere and harshness. For a one-man project, this release packs a mean punch and high replay value.
Opening with the sinister “From The Shades Of Hades…”, the atmosphere immediately feels tense and eerie thanks to blistering drumming, intricate guitar work and devilish vocals. Things turn a bit more melodic and less chaotic with the melodic onslaughts of “...To The Targovistean Night”, contrasted by its punishing aggressive sections. We are suckes for epic melodies and the track “The Triumph Of The Flesh Over The Spirit” is one fine piece of melodramatic guitar work.
Featuring V-KhaoZ of Druadan Forest handling all instruments and Profundus of Sargeist handling the vocals, Olio Tähtien Takana aka “Creature behind the stars” is one crushing two-man battalions ready to take over the Atmospheric Black Metal scene with their full-length release “Spectral Katharsis”. With nearly 5 minutes of superbly crafted music, this band brings back memories of bands like Tartaros and old Emperor and mixes those retro-elements with more modern Atmospheric Black Metal influences.
After the traditional atmospheric intro, “Towards The Dying Moon” instantly brings that old-Emperor circa “In the Nightside Eclipse” sound thanks to its crafty guitars and playful vocal combination. As the keyboards soar alongside the incisive riffs, we get that nice retro vibe, perfectly blending into pieces like “Excrucior” and the dramatic “A Sorcery Written In Stars”. While most bands in the genre focus on adding more fluff and ‘pretty’ up their sound with more synths and cinematics, this outfit seems more focused on the harshness and aggressiveness of their sound and we love it!
Just in time for our Halloween parties, Cradle of Filth unleashes their latest devilishly good opus with “Existence is Futile”. Aging well with time, the band in the last 10+ years has honed into their strengths and continues to deliver consistently engaging and well crafted releases. For over 70 minutes the band unleashes their signature sound filled with lush atmospherics, engaging storytelling, fierce guitar work, and the introduction of Anabelle Iratni on keyboards and female vocals, making this one of their more diverse and engaging releases to date.
After the traditional instrumental intro, “Existential Terror” sets a very dark and sinister tone with over-the-top choirs and orchestrations alongside Dani’s signature shrieks and some incisive guitar work. While the band’s sound is always familiar, and pieces like “Crawling King Chaos”, “Black Smoke Curling From the Lips of War” are staple CoF songs, we particularly love haunting tracks like “Necromantic Fantasies” with a certain “Nymphetamine” (song) vibe, but with Anabelle’s enchantress vocals spin and a more sultry tone.
Unraveling a very powerful and yet engaging Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal release, today we have UK’s Necronautical and their crushing “Slain in the Spirit”. Perfectly blending elements from the early days of Dimmu Borgir, Old Man’s Child, and Emperor, this release balances nostalgia with excellent craftsmanship and brilliant execution for nearly one hour of high-octane music.
Opening with the blistering “Ritual & Recursion”, the listener is treated to pummeling drums and intense synths, creating a very hectic tempo as the harsh screams roll in. There is a certain sinister vibe that the riffing of “Occult Ecstatic Indoctrination” creates, and is nicely flanked by crafty tempo changes, piercing guitar leads and dramatic vocal arrangements. The combination of female operatic clean vocals alongside the harsh screams creates a very playful and effective dynamic.
Hailing from the USA, today we have newcomers Arcane Existence and their lush and haunting Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal release “Colossus”. With a very lively and engaging style, the band borrows from some of the genre greats (Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, etc.) but manages to carve a different and unique style for themselves. For nearly 56 minutes this release will certainly transport you to a different world, exactly what albums like this one should do.
Opening with the lavish “Mystic”, the band sets a very cinematic and mysterious mood, thanks to lush symphonic arrangements and crafty Metal elements. As the album progresses, tracks like “Sovereign Blood” and “Transmutation” show the heavier side of the band with pummeling drums, varied riffs, and a good balance of harsh and clean vocals. With small transition pieces like “Formation” before more elaborate and moody tracks like Dimmu Borgir-esque “Conclave”, the band keeps the album interesting and fresh.
Having released one of our top Melodic Black Metal releases of 2019, today we have Netherbird with their latest opus: “Arete”. Further refining their already crafty and elegant sound, this release unleashes nearly 45 minutes of majestic music, up to the quality level of bands like Dimmu Borgir, Old Man’s Child with a mixture of Uada. Perfectly crafted for fans of melody and aggression, this Swedish outfit have managed to outdo themselves with this highly impressive release.
After the traditional atmospheric intro, the release opens with the blistering “Towers Of The Night” and its incisive guitar work. Both guitarists, Pontus Andersson and Tobias Jacobsson are at the top of their game, creating expertly layered foundations for impressive tracks like “Infernal Vistas” and “Carnal Pentiment”. The overall sense of melody thanks to the dramatic arrangements on pieces like “Void Dancer”, greatly distance the band from the competition as it is perfectly blended with the more aggressive elements.