Featuring members (or ex-members) of Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, Decapitated, etc., this Polish super group is set to make an impact with their fourth full-length release “Deus Ex Machina”. Taking subtle elements for tons of bands like Samael, Emperor, Arcturus, Vulture Industries and making them their own, we are left with ten very unique tracks that will creep you out while allowing you to head bang to them.
Kicking off the release with the brutal Sympho-BM “Halflight”, we are treated to Orion’s talent both behind his sickening vocals and crushing riffs. This track is probably the most straightforward one since it fits solely in one genre. Things go circus like with the Arcuturs-inspired atmospheric elements of “Innocence”, one of the album’s best tracks. The band comes back with the Samael-sounding “Disillusion”, a very intoxicating band with tons of catchy melodic passages and superb drumming.
Symphonic Black Metal
Hailing from Belgium, today we have one of the best Symphonic Black Metal bands in the planet, delivering their 3rd full-length release titled “Eldritch”. Greatly improving over time, this band delivers nine intense tracks of melodic brilliance that only a handful of bands are capable of. With other bands being stuck in using over the top orchestrations as gimmicks, Saille focuses on the underlying brutality of their music and throws in melodic and atmospheric passages to round things up.
Skipping the typical intro, Saille quickly delivers the first blow of intensity with the blistering “Emerald”. The band perfectly blends traditional melodic BM riffs with creepy atmospheric elements and intense vocals. As we move into “Walpurgis”, this album is already reminding us of the crushing “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” by Dimmu Borgir, as Saille is really on top of their game firing in all cylinders and crafting some intense music.
After a 9 year ‘hibernation’ period, Hecate Enthroned returns with one of the biggest surprises of 2013: “Virulent Rapture”. Always living under the stigma of a CoF clone band, this band was long discarded by us with some of their more ‘experimental’ releases over the years before dropping out of the map in 2004. When we got this promo, curiosity got the best of us and we decided to give it a spin… blowing us away since the first track.
Opening in a bombastic manner with “Thrones of Shadow”, the band indeed still sounds a bit like CoF used to do back in the day, with the huge difference than Hecate Enthroned is now 10 times better than CoF. The growls and shrieks, courtesy of new vocalist Elliot Beaver, are top notch and nicely elevate the intensity level of the already well-crafted symphonic music. Never leaving the aggressive Death Metal elements aside, tracks like “Unchained” are equal parts brutality to melody. The drumming is quite massive and the overall melodic-yet-aggressive vibe is super in songs like “Abyssal March” and the brilliant “Plagued by Black Death”, one of our favorites of this release.
Arriving from the most powerful Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal band from Finland, today we have “The Three-faced Pilgrim”. Featuring six tracks of majestic BM filled with crushing guitars and eerie atmospheric elements, Alghazanth continues to improve upon their legacy with another masterful release. Bearing a few line-up adjustments, the band keeps their lush Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal in place with some of the most exciting songs we have heard in 2013.
Opening with the devastating “In Your Midnight Orchard”, we have a raw BM with awesome atmospheric highlights. The band has been perfecting their craft for a few years now, and with this release they take it to a whole new level of brutality. Just picture Horna with keyboards and Alghazanth is what you get. The melodic riffing is another aspect of the band that shows their true craft when it comes to songs like “To The Pear of High” and “Promethean Permutation”, both filled with excellent melodic riffs that seamlessly change tempos between aggressive and hyper-blast mode.
After gaining quite a boost on outside of Taiwan popularity with “Takasago Army”, Chthonic returns with another very intense and equally interesting release. With “Bú-Tik” the band continues with their very thematic lyrical context and their majestic music that mixes Melodic/Symphonic Black/Death Metal elements with lush arrangements and authentic instrumentation. Proving that their last album was not a fluke, “Bú-Tik” continues with their musical intensity, and delivers ten tracks of top-notch quality.
The album opens with the very dramatic “Arising Armament”, a lush instrumental intro with a very tense vibe. The band’s musical magic continues with the powerful “Supreme Pain for the Tyrant”, a very aggressive yet atmospheric and catchy track. The vocals of Freddy Lim are impressive, and add that extra level of intensity to the music. “Sail into the Sunset’s Fire” keeps things rolling with blistering drumming and excellent riffing, a highly underrated skill from the band if you ask us. Featuring some excellent solos, this track is one of the best of the album.
Being huge suckers for Symphonic Black Metal, we got excited when we received the debut full-length release of Totengeflüster titled “Vom Seelensterben”. After several listens we still have mixed feelings about this release, one the one hand, there are some awesome songs, on the other hand, there are some totally filler self-masturbation ‘orchestral’ passages that should just be discarded. This release might have been better served as an EP, since as a whole it has less impact on the listener.
Opening with the traditional dramatic orchestration, the album finally kicks into gear with “Ein Traumgespints”, a fierce track that reminded us of the aggression put forth by bands like Anorexia Nervosa. The singing is superb and highly aggressive, the riffs are pretty solid and the overall aural experience is quite filling. There are some obvious Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth-esque elements inserted into the music, on tracks like “Ein Monolog im Mondschein”, but we can deal with them as long as they are not overdone.
Holy shit! Who brought Cradle of Filth (circa 1996) back from the dead!. With a very familiar sound, today we have Old Corpse Road their debut full-length release “'Tis Witching Hour... As Spectres We Haunt This Kingdom”. Sounding eerily similar to CoF on their “Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein”/”Dusk…and Her Embrace” era, today we have this British band with a very explosive sound with some Folk elements thrown in to keep things a bit fresh.
Surrounded in a shroud of mysterious atmospheric elements, the opener “’Tis Witching Hour” delivers the chilling deep spoken vocal sections that we all used to love from CoF. The keyboards are extremely epic (just like on “Dusk…and Her Embrace”) and nicely set the mood for the brutal “The Cauld Lad Of Hylton”. In a very CoF-esque vibe, the band quickly delivers massive drumming sections and killer shrieks/growls combo sections. This is exact déjà vu of what CoF used to do back in the day, and we think it is awesome.
As the first promo of 2013 we received at Infernal Masquerade, we are quite surprised that we immediately have an early candidate for Symphonic Black Metal release of the year 2013. Saille makes a furious return with “Ritu”, an opus in melodic aggression that reminded us of the days when Dimmu Borgir was not ridiculously overproduced and of bands like Vesperian Sorrow, that keep the flame of Symphonic BM alive. With nine tracks presented in this release, this outfit from Belgium delivers one of the most impressive sophomore releases we have ever heard.
Opening with the bombastic “Blood Libel”, the band immediately unleashes their furious Black Metal riffing and killer drumming. The band’s sound reminded us a bit of Anorexia Nervosa and their balls to the wall style. The lush keyboards greatly enhance this vicious track, creating a very eerie atmosphere. In a very maquiavelic style, “Subcutaneous Terror” delivers a very catchy mixture of creepy slow passages and brutal aggressive sections with sick guitar solos. This song reminded us when Dimmu Borgir in their “Enthroned Darkness Triumphant” era.
Finally we get a release that is a bit different than almost everybody else that tries to copy somebody. With Chaosweaver’s sophomore release “Enter the Realm of the Doppelganger”, we are treated to nine tracks of excellent Symphonic Metal with Black Metal and Industrial elements. Keeping the atmosphere above all things, the band nicely crafts excellent songs that are quite a musical experience.
The highly dramatic opener “A Read Dawn Rises” is a clear example of a beautifully crafted track that delivers emotions and a great sense of harmony. This is the perfect lead-up for the explosive “Wings of Chaos”. In this track the guitars open up a riffing onslaught while the atmospheric synths fill the atmosphere. Not sounding like Dimmu Borgir, or any other Symphonic Metal band, Chaosweaver has a bigger and more grandiose cinematic feeling. With a very classical feeling “Maelstrom of Black Light” nicely keeps the experience rolling with catchy riffing and an excellent tempo.
Making its way from France, today we have Winterburst and their very impressive debut release “The Mind Cave”. With a very bombastic Symphonic Black Metal sound, the band delivers nearly 70 minutes of high-octane music that resembles the greats of the genre: Dimmu Borgir. Focusing on delivering the catchiest and most effective songs, the band delivers intense riffing and drumming with a high dosage of orchestrations and choir arrangements.
Opening with the highly dramatic “A Mirror’s Game”, this release immediately blows you away with the production quality behind it. The choirs are amazing and the immediate riffing intensity is excellent. The vocals sound a bit like Shagrath making them very fitting for the massive sound that Winterburst has. Changing between shrieks, growls and clean sections, the band’s vocalist Vorender is as versatile as they come. The power of Kyll’s guitars is felt immediately and on tracks like “The Mind Cave”, they pound away relentlessly. We particularly enjoy this track due to its intricate orchestrations as well.