“Design Your Universe” is probably one of the most expected albums of 2009 based on the momentum Epica has been building up since the release of “The Divine Conspiracy” two years ago. This momentum has been helped with endless touring and a live album released in the mean time.
This album clearly shows that Epica’s success was not a matter of chance or anything and that the band is here to stay. “Design Your Universe” is a good improvement over “The Divine Conspiracy” and a worthy next step in their career, since this album is somewhat better than their previous releases. But here comes the ‘but’ in this last statement; the band does not offer much new in terms of ‘freshness’ to their sound.
After reviewing several different bands where Christian Älvestam sings or plays something, we finally found one that is pretty solid all around. It’s not that the other bands are bad, but they just don’t feel as cohesive as Miseration.
Miseration hails from Sweden and they play old-school Death Metal. They have greatly improved since their debut album “Your Demons - Their Angels” and this is a good sign since that album showed some promise.
The 11th Hour is a new project formed by Ed Warby from Gorefest and Ayreon fame, in this recording he played ALL instruments and even clean vocals, and ‘growls’ where provided by none other than Rogga Johanson. So all of this looks great on paper and it sounds pretty good except for one little detail: The god awful clean vocals, they make my want to rip my hairs out.
Musically the band is top notch since they manage to mix Death/Doom Metal with more traditional Doom metal to perfection, and it would have worked perfectly if they had gotten a better clean singer. Ed Warby is a great musician but in my opinion he’s better off without singing. The clean vocals are not out of tune, or anything terrible, it’s just the sound they have I find it extremely annoying for this music and they ruin the ‘other half’ of the (guttural) vocals provided by Rogga.
Hailing from the cold lands of Russia, Arkona presents us their fifth full length album. This album is probably one of the longest Paga/Folk Metal albums that I’ve heard in my life clocking nearly 80 minutes of very attractive music.
The band has been refining their Pagan/Folk style since they formed in 2002 and with “Goi, Rode, Goi!” they hava produced their best album to date, but it’s too long. I’m all about getting more for my money, but sometimes is better just to split stuff into an EP and a full length album.
“New Moon” is one of the albums that I have been looking forward since the beginning of the year. The title name by it self was about to just make me discard it all along, since I’m a Twilight saga hater (and I have read the first 2 books). But bearing the title, Swallow The Sun, shows how much they have matured as a band, and how their style is getting shaped into a more Melodic Death Metal than Doom Metal genre.
The Black Metal influences that some of the band’s members have (Mikko plays with Alghazanth and he and Aleksi have Empyrean Bane, a Melodic BM band), making this album the most aggressive the band has ever released. But they haven’t lost their Doomier aspect either, since they still feature their ‘older’ sound.
“Privilegivm” is one of the weirdest sounding albums I have reviewed in the past few weeks, since the music is Black Metal, but has a different sound than most Black Metal releases that I’ve reviewed. But this does not mean the albums is band, all the opposite, I find it very fresh sounding in comparison to more ‘traditional’ albums.
Secrets Of The Moon hails from Germany and have been playing music since the late nineties, and for “Privilegivm” being their 4th full album they have done a pretty good job creating their own sound and exploding it as much as they can.
Gorgoroth is finally band and with full strength. “Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt” is their latest release, and one of the best in their career. After getting rid of the ‘troubled elements’ within the band, Infernus focused 100% on the recording of this album. Writing all the music for it and recording all the guitars on the album, his creative forces were completely aligned for this album.
The product of this creative process that took several years to complete (the music was written between 2006 and 2009) is a masterpiece that will clearly go down as one of the best Black Metal albums in history.
While Heaven Wept is one of my favorite American bands since their Epic/Power Doom Metal is very different than other bands out there, and “Vast Oceans Lachrymose” is a worthy follow up to “Of Empires Forlorn”.
However “Vast Oceans Lachrymose” sounds much more like the continuation of “Of Empires Forlorn” since they both have plenty of similarities in their sound. If you like the band’s previous album then you will love this new one, but if you did not then this is the problem here, the band shows almost no musical evolution between them.
Hailing from Italy, Handful Of Hate brings us their fifth full-length album and they are here to blow us away with some very brutal Black Metal.
“You Will Bleed” provides us with almost 40 minutes of well produced Black Metal that will closely rival the bigger profile BM albums of this year (Marduk, Immortal, Gorgoroth, etc). The band has been getting better with every album they have released and this one is another step in the right direction.
The Few Against Many is one of the many bands that Christian Ãlvestam lends his pipes to, he also contributes on rhythm guitar on this release. This band from Sweden plays a very different Melodic Death Metal than most bands, but different is not always good.
“Sot” is a very short album (only 36 minutes), and it features a 8 songs that are very diverse in nature. This diversity I think is also the main problem of this album since all songs sound very disconnected like they were just thrown together to make a quick release.