Hailing from Sweden, today we have Psychedelic/Occult Rockers Year of the Goat peddling their craft with “The Unspeakable”. Having loved their 2011 MCD “Lucem Ferre”, we were looking forward to this one for quite a while. Creating a special aura filled with an authentic retro vibe and a high emphasis on melody, the nine tracks presented in this release are magical and intoxicating.
Slowly building up a very mysterious ambiance with “All He Has Read”, the band sets a magical shroud of mystery around their album early in the game. Combining elements of bands like Witchcraft, Purson, Jess and the Ancient ones, tracks like “Pillars of the South” and “The Emma” are haunting and very authentic sounding. Thomas Sabbathi is one hell of singer and his vocals greatly elevate all the songs in this album while giving them a very eerie vibe.
Continuing with the momentum of the band’s latest masterpiece “Sacrificium”, today we have Xandria and their bombastic EP “Fire & Ashes”. Featuring 35 minutes of music that span a few new songs, some re-recorded tracks and two covers, this is enough material to hold off any fan of the band and the genre until the band’s new record is ready.
Opening with a bombastic explosion, “Voyage of the Fallen”, delivers a very Epica-esque track that features very dynamic choir arrangements and a very dramatic musical progression. The band’s explosive sound is in full swing with this very apt opener, with Dianne van Giersbergen’s vocals shining from start to end. Changing the pace into a more melodic and head banging mode, the lush melodic passages of “Unembraced” make them perfect to start head banging. Both of these tracks are completely new and recorded especially for this release.
All the way from Germany, today we have Powerwolf and their sixth full-length release “Blessed & Possessed”. As one of the catchiest Power Metal bands in the world, the wolves return with another epic album filled with bombastic elements and their signature over-the-top antics. Only improving on their legacy, the band continues their musical onslaught with 11 brilliant tracks.
Setting the stage for a truly epic musical experience, “Blessed & Possessed” opens this release with crushing vocal arrangements and powerful guitar riffs. The band’s clean cut and well defined Power Metal foundations allows them to fully engage the listeners with epic songs. Attila Dorn’s vocal talents are only comparable to Joakim Brodén, meaning they are extremely amazing and very well exploited on tracks like “Dead Until Dark”. With such a charismatic presence and powerful range, tracks like “Army of the Night” are truly an amazing experience.
The highly consistent Sirenia returns with yet another masterful Gothic/Symphonic Metal release. Morten Veland has always been known for his consistency and signature approach to the genre and with “The Seventh Path”, he delivers another quality release that fans will absolutely love. Featuring 11 tracks of majestic female vocals paired with dramatic and bombastic music, this is one of those albums that will stand out this 2015.
After the lush opener “Seti”, the band delivers the explosive “Serpent”. In this moment you are instantly transported into Sirenia’s world, as the band delivers a fully immersive experience with their music. The signature growls and riffs from Morten Veland make their way, and we instantly felt right at home. With a bigger emphasis on more Symphonic elements, “Once My Light” features some very cool Gregorian-style chorus arrangements that take the song to a whole new level.
As one of the most refined bands of the early wave of Norwegian Black Metal, Satyricon has kept pushing their sound over the years. In “Live at The Opera”, we get to hear some of their earlier works and their most recent pieces play seamlessly together in a 94 minute concert that incorporates a 55-person choral arrangements into their music. Allowing the band’s sound to be more sinister than ever, this is one hell of a live release…. And we have only heard the audio portion of it.
Slowly starting with an extra creepy version of “Voice of Shadows”, the band sets the mood quite effectively with the second track “Now Diabolical”. With a very subtle usage of the choir arrangements to create very oppressive moods, the band greatly improves on songs like the previously mentioned one and other classics like “Repined Bastard Nation”. The band’s newest songs “Nocturnal Flare” and “Our World it Rumbles Tonight” feature very effective arrangements to make already catchy songs even more dynamic and engaging.
As one of the most anticipated releases of 2015, today we have Kamelot and their 11th full-length release “Haven”. Featuring a more explosive and theatrical sound, the band delivers around 54 minutes of brilliant music that shows a very well integrated Tommy Karevik with the rest of the band, making their music more cohesive and extra melancholic.
In a very lively and dynamic opening, “Fallen Star” sets a very emotional mood for this release. As the first super catchy song of this release appears with “Insomnia”, featuring a great chorus section, it is very evident that Karevik is now perfectly integrated into the dramatic atmospheric keyboards and the playful guitar works of Thomas Youngblood. Moving into more lush and symphonic territories, “Citizen Zero” features a very Symphonic Metal-centric approach with excellent vocal arrangements and modern sounding guitars.
Portugal’s greatest extreme music export Moonspell returns this 2015 with yet another very solid release that is quite diverse and engaging. Never compromising, “Extinct” shows yet another face of this outfit and delivers ten tracks of catchy Gothic/Dark Metal that is always perfectly led by Fernando Ribeiro’s extremely characteristic vocals. In a release that is sure to catch a few people off-guard, the band comes out triumphantly with a fresh an entertaining 45 minutes of music.
Opening with the perfectly arranged “Breath (Until We Are No More)”, the band introduces some very dramatic middle-eastern influenced orchestrations and creates a very unique atmosphere in this opening track. As we progress to “Extinct” and “Medusalem”, we notice that there is a heavier emphasis on the orchestral/classical arrangements and that while the guitars are heavy, they mostly complement a very Gothic/Dark Metal structure to things. A particular thing to note is the killer solo in “Medusalem” that is nicely wrapped in other arrangements making them sound a bit like Orphaned Land for a moment.
Borrowing from bands like Moonsorrow, Wintersun, Eluveitie, Vintersorg and even some Borknagar, today we have Germany’s Finsterforst and their fairly decent Folk Metal. Having seven members amongst their ranks, this band delivers an authentic feeling without overdoing it on the Folk elements.
Opening with the catchy “Schicksals End, the band nicely builds momentum and keeps the listener pretty entertained for the nearly 15-minute duration of this track. While the length of the song is unconventional for the genre, the band drives it home with solid riffs, tight drumming and a very crisp production that highlights all different vocals and atmospheric elements. The band keeps their groove with another engaging song with “Zeit für Hass” and its battle-like stance.
On the days we are feeling nostalgic about the good old times of Dissection and similar bands that created and innovated with melodic riffs and epic songwriting, we turn to Thulcandra and their first two full-length releases. Unleashing “Ascension Lost” in 2015, the band continues to develop their old-school sound and make it their own, greatly improving on all the previous ‘borrowing’ they did from Dissection.
The album kicks off with the melancholic “The First Rebellion”, a fast-paced piece that is sonically pleasing and very technically proficient. The band’s proficient mixture of melodic riffs and old-school Black Metal is quite solid and songs like “Throne of Will” and “Deliverance in Sin and Death” are a testament to their abilities. Steffen Kummerer and Sebastian Ludwig are a highly skilled guitar duo that carries this release from start to finish with their intensity and creativity.
Hailing from Colorado, today we have the elusive duo The Flight of the Sleipnir and their fifth full-length release titled “V.”. Featuring seven tracks of very mellow improvisational-style Psychedelic Sludge/Doom, this band delivers a very unique aural experience with over 59 minutes of very diverse and sonically pleasing music that evokes the likes of folk-induced Agalloch, Velnias, mixed with countless Doom Metal acts.
The release kicks off with a very Empyrium-esque opener with “Headwinds”, a track that slowly builds up to some powerful Sludgy riffs and tight drumming. The mixture of and Sludge elements is quite well crafted and the clean vocals nicely fit the bill, the harsh vocals while odd at first create a very contrasting vibe that ultimately fits the song perfectly. Things get a bit more psychedelic, or should we say ‘sludge-chedelic’ in the trippy “Sidereal Course”. This song has a very nice free-flowing vibe and feels like a jam session in some places.