Celebrating their 30th anniversary, today we have Portugal’s best Metal export: Moonspell, and their very unique and intimate live release “From Down Below - Live 80 Meters Deep”. Filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic days in a cave in Portugal, this is by far one of the more striking live releases ever recorded. Showcasing the band’s last release “Hermitage”, this release captures a very unique moment in the band’s storied career and brings it home to fans that have not been able to experience one of the band’s energetic live shows.
In a very interesting setting, 80 meters below in a cave, the band delivers a very intimate show with not many visible participants all wearing headphones and face masks. This truly captures the essence of the years of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges facing musicians and concert goers due to all the restrictions and uncertainty of the time. This to us is one of the interesting elements of this release as it is not captured on video for posterity.
Today we have one-man battalion Daidalos and their extremely dynamic and engaging Atmospheric/Symphonic Dark Metal sound. Creating a very cinematic and over the top aural experience, “The Expedition” is one hell of a debut release with elements from bands like Dimmu Borgir, Therion, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, just to name a few. However, the 52+ minutes of music here take a life of their own as they come to life with very lively arrangements and crafty tempo changes, giving Daidalos a signature extreme music sound.
Slowly building momentum with the dramatic opener “Expedition”, we see the band crafting a very cinematic experience by perfectly layering atmospheric elements with crushing guitar riffs and massive drumming. As the album progresses to pieces like “Icewind” and “Sail into the Stars”, it is quite magical how immersive the music feels. The production is top notch, perfectly highlighting elements that need to shine across the well layered ‘Metal’ foundation.
Creating a very unique mixture of Black/Death/Gothic Metal, today we have Russia’s Saphath and their debut full-length release “Ascension of the Dark Prophet”. Delivering over 44 minutes of music, the ten tracks in this release nicely blend elements from bands like Behemoth, Moonspell, Epica, Dark Tranquillity, and creates a very bombastic and engaging listening experience with tons of hidden details to discover.
Opening with the lush “Children of the Night”, the band delivers vibrant guitars alongside a mixture of aggressive vocals and crafty tempo changes. The music is heavy, but with enough room to incorporate melodic passages and fierce guitar solos. This more melodic and bombastic nature comes front and center in pieces like “Outcast of Eden”, the gothic “Darkness Unleashed”, and the Moonspell-esque “Broken Mirror”. All tracks blend their influences quite well, and still manage to deliver a certain modern Metal edge as shown in “The Daughter of Ice Pains”.
Always keeping us posted of new and up-and-coming bands from the flourishing Finnish Metal scene, today we have Kaamos Warriors and their fourth full-length release “Spirit from the Void”. As a band from Mikko Ojala of Dark the Suns fame, this outfit creates a very interesting sounding mixture of Symphonic/Gothic Metal elements with a Dark/Black Metal core.
The atmospheric side of the band is laid out quite thick since the opener “In Blood And Spirit”. However, this atmosphere is not your standard one as it has some slight Industrial and even Gothic Metal undertones, creating a very unique vibe when complemented with the growls and Doomy tempo. Things continue to get more dynamic and engaging as tracks like “Vapus”, “The Flames of the Dragon” and “Varjojen Vaeltaja” are introduced.
By far one of the most productive musicians in the Metal scene, Déhà’s creativity is probably just bounded by time as he continues to unleash massive albums under his solo project, Wolvennest, Slow, and plenty of other bands. In “Ave Maria II”, he continues work he released over 10 years ago under his side project Yhdarl. Featuring one monumental track of 42 minutes, this release is both haunting and completely harrowing, mixing up dense atmospherics, punishing screams and all mighty riffs.
Separated into two movements, the first part, “Morituri Te Salutant” sets a very cavernous mood that suddenly turns with the introduction of Thergothon-level distorted riffs alongside dramatic vocal arrangements, similar to what Elend did in the past, but with a heavier dose of distortion. The angelic female vocals are masterfully flanked with incisive guitars and massive growls/screams, perfectly turning beauty into nightmare.
When it comes to weird and out of the ordinary music, we are always on looking for the next weirdest thing. Today, via Agonia Records, we have Shadows and their self-titled debut EP. Led by Alex Bouks of Incantation and Goreaphobia fame, this band unleashes a very intoxicating and unique release with a blend of musical styles within Metal and bordering with Rock and Goth elements.
Opening with the somber “Ghosts of Old”, we get an interesting mixture of crafty drumming, firm riffs and a very moody tempo. The clean vocals remind us a bit of the band EverEve, with a certain twang added to them. The album’s atmosphere is quite dark and enjoyable as tracks like “Shadows”, “Night of the Goat Winter Moon”, and “Elders” have a nice mixture of warm and fuzzy psychedelic distortion with engaging tempo changes and very solemn vocals.
Portugese legends Moonspell mark their return with a very unique and captivating release titled “Hermitage”. Featuring over 52 minutes of very emotive and dreamy music, the band will surely surprise their fans with this melancholic Gothic/Dark Metal release. With a darker edge to their sound, this release takes a bit to sink in, but once it does, it delivers some of the finest musical moments the band has ever produced.
The release kicks off with the mysterious “The Greater Good” and its crafty drumming alongside enigmatic atmospherics and subtle layered guitars. Fernando Ribeiro’s signature deep vocals give that extra element of mystery to this track as he goes from clean passages to harsh sections. The enigmatic atmosphere continues with the hard rocking opening of “Common Prayers”, a song that slowly introduces additional atmospheric elements and a very epic bass guitar line.
Delivering one of the early surprises of 2021, today we have Tribulation and their latest release “Where the Gloom Becomes Sound”. While we have never been huge fans of the band, the maturity and darkness of this release is highly addictive. The band’s Gothic/Dark Metal sound of later years has evolved very nicely, unleashing over 48 minutes of intricately crafted music that is both catchy and engaging.
Opening with the sinister “In Remembrance”, the mood instantly turns bleak thanks to Johannes Andersson’s characteristic snarl that perfectly adorns layered guitars and moody tempo changes. The band’s sound is not immediately straightforward as you get a mixture of Doomy Heavy Metal with Gothic undertones, but the band makes it quite accessible and distinct from what others are doing, a testament to this are songs like “Hour of the Wolf” and its crafty intoxicating guitars, the warm and fuzziness of “Leviathans” with some Psychedelic Metal/Rock elements, to the playful darkness of pieces like “Dirge of a Dying Soul”.
All the way from Israel, today we have a very unique and star-studded Death/Doom Metal release titled “Hollow”. With nearly 52 minutes of music, Tomorrow’s Rain's ambitious release pays off as they complement their very traditional sound with the talents of their guest musicians, creating one of the most powerful and refined releases of the genre. If you like melancholic Death/Doom Metal, it surely can’t get any better than this in 2020.
The release kicks off with the mood setting and mysterious “Trees”, a song that slowly builds up to the typical commanding Doom riffs and excellent growls. Featuring Aaron Stainthrope of My Dying Bride, “Fear” sets a darker tone with lush atmospherics, dramatic clean vocal arrangements, and crafty drumming. The only track that does not feature guests is “A Year I Would Like To Forget”, which allows you to actually get a feel for the band’s excellent melancholic sound and solid instrumentation.
As one of our favorite bands, and very hated by our friends, Eisregen is one of those bands that plays on their bizarre lyrics and funky music to deliver high-octane intensity filled songs with interesting arrangements and a good dose of melody. The band’s sound is quite an amalgamation of Gothic/Death/Black/Dark Metal, which is the core strength of “Leblos”, a very diverse and powerful double album. If you like weird music, this is certainly going to be of your liking.
Starting with the playful “Ruhet sanft”, the band leads with a Lacrimosa-meets-Bethlehem sound and a very engaging and unique opener. As “Pechschwarz” and “Erstschlag” roll by, we get the harsh intensity of the band with incisive guitars, devilish vocals and overall catchiness that the band has been cranking out for the past 10 years. Losing Dr. Franzenstein from their line-up a few years back has not slowed down the band’s funky synths and keyboards as tracks like “1000 Jahre Nacht”, “Wangenrot”, and the amazing title track heavily deliver on the atmospheric side.