A lot has happened since the band’s 2020 banger “Apocalypse & Chill”. The band’s signature vocalist Charlotte Wessels and pretty much all other members at the time left as Martijn Westerholt decided to press reset on this band. With tons of expectations being generated of who would be the new vocalist of the band, Diana Leah was unveiled late 2022 alongside a few returning ex-Delainers. All those issues aside, “Dark Waters” showcases a triumphant new phase in the band’s story with lush and bombastic music.
Opening with the lush “Hideaway Paradise”, Delain is back in full force with soaring vocal melodies alongside crafty symphonic arrangements and a good dose of distorted guitars. The band’s style feels refreshed and focused on their strengths, with Martijn Westerholt leading with dramatic orchestral arrangements, as we can quickly hear in pieces like “The Quest and the Curse”, “Beneath”, and “Mirror of Night”. Diana Leah’s vocals are superb and perfectly bring to life the cinematic nature of the music.
With all the killer reviews coming out in January, we almost missed “Into Sorrow Evermore”, the epic seventh full-length release of Germany’s Imperium Dekadenz. Featuring around 50 minutes of melodic and highly atmospheric Black Metal, this release feels like a mixture of Vreid with Der Weg einer Freiheit. If you like atmospheric stuff, this is probably one of the best in quite a while.
Opening with the engaging “Into Sorrow Evermore”, the band nicely sets a moody vibe as the wave of blistering guitar riffs and furious drumming sets in. We like this tempered approach as the band’s sound slowly expands and envelops the room very effectively. The headbanging continues with the crushing “Truth under Stars” and it nicely mellows out with the solemn opening of “Aurora”.
This 2023 is starting with a bang with tons of new releases from well established bands, luckily for us, Katatonia was also one of them. Being huge fans of the band, “Sky Void of Stars” is just your typical excellent release, filled with crafty vocal arrangements and sorrowful melodies. Featuring ten tracks and 45 minutes of magic, this release will please any fan of the band’s more modern Alternative Rock/Metal side.
Opening with the epic “Austerity”, Jonas Renkse belts out his signature vocal melodies alongside crafty guitar work from Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson. The band’s moody tunes like “Colossal Shade”, “Opaline”, and “Birds” are filled with excellent melodic passages alongside well-timed tempo changes and brilliant drumming. The band is a well-oiled machine when it comes to perfectly mixing melancholy with heavy guitars and catchiness.
As the perfect companion for a gloomy and cold winter day, today we have Germany’s Ahab returning after eight years since their last full-length release with the crushing “The Coral Tombs”. As the pioneers of ‘Nautik Doom’, this band makes misery inducing music that only a handful of bands can rival (Skepticism, Shape of Despair, etc.). Featuring seven tracks and nearly 67 minutes of soul-crushing music, this is one of the finest Doom releases we have ever heard.
The release opens with the oppressive “Prof. Arronax' Descent into the Vast Oceans”, with a very aggressive opening that slowly transitions into clean vocals and total bleakness. We particularly like how the band blends in Epic Doom (or traditional Doom) elements with heavier and more punishing Death/Funeral Doom parts. The track “Colossus of the Liquid Graves” nicely creates a somewhat funky atmosphere that is brilliantly flanked by deep growls, oppressive riffs, alongside crafty tempo changes.
Starting out as a ‘for fun’ band, Bloodbath has actually released some killer releases in the last decade and continues to bring back that nostalgic old-school Swedish/Florida Death Metal vibe. With “Survival of the Sickest” the band blows almost any other band out of the water with nearly 45 minutes of piercing and chugging DM. Unleashing the sickest and most neck-snapping release in the genre, this is an album you can't miss out on.
Quickly setting the mood with “Zombie Inferno” and “Putrefying Corpse”, the band quickly establishes superiority with incisive chuggy guitar riffs paired with crafty leads and pummeling drumming. Anders Nyström and Tomas Åkvik are on point delivering that old-school razor sharp distortion while keeping a modern and clean edge on things. We love how the band goes from a track like “Dead Parade” to “Malignant Maggot Therapy”, mixing both elements of the Swedish and the Florida DM scene, creating a very engaging and heabanging infusing style.
The mastermind of Brutal Death Metal outfit, Nile, Karl Sanders, is ready to come back with its third solo full-length release “Saurian Apocalypse”. It has been 13 years since his last solo release, and here the listener is treated to ten mostly instrumental pieces that have some of the Middle-eastern vibe of Nile, but in a more exploratory and atmospheric way, and of course without the growls.
Far from the thunderous riffs and intensity of his main band, Karl Sanders shows a very mellow and enjoyable atmospheric side to his craft with pieces like “The Sun Has Set on the Age of Man”, “The Disembodied Yet Slither Among Us”, and “The Evil Inherent in us All”, while still keeping that somber and ritualistic edge of his other band. There is a very relaxing and experimental feeling to the music in this release, showing more range and a variety of moods.
Released entirely by surprise on digital platforms first, Satyricon’s commissioned piece for the Edvard Munch museum, titled “Satyricon & Munch”, is a piece full of promise that never really delivers. We understand that this music was supposed to be the backdrop of the exhibit in the new museum, but while putting in context with Edvard Munch’s art there is some cohesion, the 57 minute piece never really builds up to much.
Finally stabilizing their sound and style around lead vocalist Clémentine Delauney, Visions of Atlantis unleashes their best album of their career with “Pirates”. Featuring nearly one hour of music, this release further elaborates on their pirate-related themes and creates a very dynamic and engaging mood thanks to dramatic atmospherics alongside soaring dueling vocals and killer instrumentation.
Setting a very regal mood thanks to its lush vocal arrangements and lively guitar leads, “Pirates Will Return” perfectly opens this very engaging release. The band showcases its versatility with the moody duets of “Melancholy Angel”, the over the top symphonic arrangements of “Master The Hurricane”, and the playfulness of “Clocks”. All pieces are perfectly brought to life with the masterful vocal duets of Clémentine Delauney and Michele "Meek" Guaitoli, perfectly boosted by excellent drumming and crushing guitar solos.
Quickly returning after the highly emotional 2021 release “Escape of the Phoenix”, Evergrey continues the same path of melancholy with the excellent “A Heartless Portrait: The Orphean Testament”. Featuring over 50 minutes of mellow Progressive/Power Metal, with Tom Englund’s signature vocals, this album just further refines the band’s polished and effective style and delivers exactly what the fans are expecting.
The album opens with the soaring guitars and vocal arrangements of “Save Us”, a very powerful and mood-setting track filled with crafty atmospherics and a hefty dose of catchiness. The band’s mixture of explosiveness with melancholy oozes from pieces like “Midwinter Calls” and “Ominous”, one of our favorite tracks in this release thanks to the amazing vocal arrangements and killer guitar leads. For those preferring the band’s Power ‘ballads’, “Call out the Dark” is a fine addition.
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.