In a year filled with exciting new Gothic/Symphonic Metal releases from bands like Within Temptation, Epica, Stream of Passion, Diabulus In Musica, etc., Delain delivers their best effort (to date) with “The Human Contradiction”. Led by the charismatic vocals of Charlotte Wessels, this release is the whole package in terms of excellent songwriting, a perfect balance of aggressive and melodic tracks, and an overall intensity that only the best bands of the genre can deliver.
Opening with the engaging “Here Come the Vultures”, we are immediately immersed in the band’s melancholic melodic vibe. The songs are quite well structured around powerful guitars and expertly crafted vocal melodies that make for a very intense and exciting album. With guest vocals from Marco Hietala, a staple in the band’s best songs in their previous releases, “Your Body Is a Battleground” and “Sing To Me”, the band keeps the intensity to the max.
Marking Van Canto’s triumphant return, today we have “Dawn of the Brave”, the band’s fifth full-length release. For all the people that feel appalled by the band’s interpretation of Metal, should really get over it and start embracing the sheer talent showcases by the band’s unique approach and uber catchy songs. Featuring 13 tracks, 10 own songs and 4 covers, this release is packed with killer (vocal) solos and majestic melodic arrangements.
After opening with the intense ‘orchestral’ intro “Dawn of the Brave”, the band immediately moves into their comfort zone with the epic “Fight for your Life”. With a style akin to Power Metal, the band immediately creates very epic vocal arrangements that after a few minutes you won’t even notice they are lacking all instruments, except the drums.
Formed by three ex-members of Sonic Syndicate, The Unguided takes some elements from said band and delivers a high-octane release filled with melodic riffs and excellent vocal melodies. The Sjunnesson brothers (Rich and Roger) lead this band with their superb songwriting skills and eye for catchiness. Delivering 11 explosive tracks, “Fragile Immortality” is one of the first standout releases of 2014.
Opening with the bombastic synths of “Inception”, the band sets a very dynamic and futuristic tone with the first song. The approach of growls/clean lead vocals is very similar to bands like Solution .45 and Scar Symmetry, allowing the music to be quite expansive and engaging. Richard Sjunnesson handles the harsh vocals and sounds like a ‘heavier’ version of Alexi from Children of Bodom. The clean leads are quite intoxicating, provided by Roland Johansson, and they leave other vocalists way behind on the awesomeness curve.
Marking the band’s tenth year anniversary, today we have Leave’s Eyes latest release “Symphonies of the Night”. As anybody can expect, this 54 minute release is filled with lush atmospheric arrangements, angelic vocals, and a healthy dose of heavy guitars. The band reached far back into their origins and delivers a very effective mixture of elements from all their albums in a very cohesive and epic way. With a central theme about heroines through history, the band is at the top of their game and shows no signs of stalling or being content with their previous achievements.
The album opens with the haunting “Hell to the Heaves”, a track fueled by Liv’s extraordinary vocals and their contrast with Alexander Krull’s grunts. The music is quite reminiscent of their previous album “Meredead”, but with an edgier and even more aggressive take. The first instant hit comes under the name of “Fading Earth”, a track with very powerful guitar leads and a super catchy chorus section. For those of you that prefer the folkier side of the band circa “Vinland Saga”, “Galswintha” and “Nightshade” will satisfy your cravings.
The ever evolving Deadlock arrives with their latest offering “The Arsonist”. In this album this German outfit delivers 10 tracks and around 40 minutes of their signature passive-aggressive Melodic Metal filled with the sweet vocals of Sabine Scherer. Adding some Groove elements into their already rich sound, the band sounds as catchy and heavy than ever in this release.
Opening strong with “The Great Pretender”, we can instantly hear the new Groove influences in the band’s sound. We also get the first glance of the band’s new male vocalist: John Gahlert, their older bass guitarist. Keeping the mixture of harsh screams and female vocals, the band’s vocal approach is quite diverse and entertaining. The band’s catchiness is as always present on the killer “I’m Gone”, featuring one of the best chorus sections of the whole release.
Delivering waves of powerful riffs, today we have Venomous Maximus and their debut-full length “Beg Upon The Light”. Originally released in 2012, Napalm Records has taken into their hands to properly release this album and get this band the amount of exposure they deserve. Featuring 10 tracks of a very unique mixture of Occult Rock and Stoner Metal, this band has a very different musical approach when compared to other Occult Rock bands that focus on adding psychedelic elements and a groovier vibe.
After a cheesy intro powered by organs, “Path of Doom” leads the way with very heavy and Sludgy riffs. The vocals are quite powerful and contrasting, reminiscent of Heavy Metal acts from the 80’s. The Doom-esque “Give Up The Witch” nicely continues the onslaught of riffs that this band has crafted for such an interesting release, with a high emphasis on catchiness, they immediately command the listeners attention.
After taking the scene by surprise with their excellent 2012 release “Spell Eater”, today we have Huntress and their latest monumental Heavy Metal release “Starbound Beast”. While many bands get away with shitty music just by having attitude and image, Huntress delivers the whole package lead by Jill Janus and the band’s very classic and powerful music. For over ten tracks the band greatly improves over their debut full-length and manages to raise the bar a few notches with this album.
Doing a 180 switch on the opener/intro “Enter the Exosphere”, we can hear Jill’s classically trained vocals morph into screams. The first dagger has been delivered and as soon as “Blood Sisters” opens we get to hear the band’s catchy and very timeless Heavy Metal sound. The track’s energy is quite similar to old-school Heavy Metal, attitude and everything. The band produces one of the best chorus sections on “I Want to Fuck You to Death” in the last fear years, and we can totally picture legions of fans chanting that particular section at live shows.
Having been huge fans of the band’s earliest Gothic/Doom work, we have been reluctant to fully enjoy their most recent releases until this one. In “Antiadore” Lacrimas Profundere belts out 12 Gothic Rock anthems that are quite moody and catchy. The band has finally won us over with very catchy tunes, signature deep vocals, and excellent arrangements that make their music very dynamic and enjoyable.
Led by the only remaining original member, Oliver Nikolas Schmid, on guitars, the band opens with “My Release in Pain”, a very catchy and emotional song. The band quickly warms up with tracks like “Antiadore”, “What I’m Not”, and “Dead To Me”, perfectly combining their powerful dual guitar attack with catchy keyboards and the trademark vocals of Rob Vitacca.
Finally, after seven years of waiting, Summoning returns with their seventh full-length record “Old Mornings Dawn”. This legendary two-person operation has been a major inspiration for tons of one or two-man projects that crate Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal music. Being huge fans of the band, we had been waiting for this release for quite a while, but we are a bit disappointed since the band’s sound now feels very outdated by current musical standards.
Since the opener “Evernight”, the band delivers their signature atmospheric brilliance and trademark harsh screams. However, the music feels like it was made using a computer from 10 years ago. Today’s standards have bands using software that can produce high-quality orchestrations in a matter of a few clicks and Summoning still sounds like a MIDI band. This is quite disappointing for us since their creativity is excellent, but seems like technology has surpassed their music making skills.
Finally returning with a full length since “Rubicon”, today we have Tristania and their latest opus “Darkest White”. Being one of the few surviving bands of the original wave of Gothic Metal bands from the late 90’s, Tristania has been evolving with time and adapting their sound to be catchier and diverse. Since the departure of their iconic singer Vibeke back in 2007, this band has slowly been coping for this loss with the addition of Mariangela Demurtas and Kjetil Nordhus vocal talents.
“Darkest White” delivers the best songs of this latest era of the band, delivering over 50 minutes of lush symphonic elements, excellent vocal arrangements, and quite powerful music in general. Opening with “Number”, we immediately thought we had the wrong album playing since this track starts very heavy and almost Black Metal-esque. As the chorus part comes in, we immediately get the traditional Tristania vibe thanks to its richness and catchiness.