Nuclear Blast

  • Twilight Force - At The Heart of Wintervale (2023)

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    There are just some days when you just want to hear an album filled with over-the-top technical wizardry, lush vocal arrangements, and an overall superbly up-beat vibe. Luckily for us, Twilight Force delivers just that, and plenty more, with the epic “At The Hearth of Wintervale”. We have a soft spot for extremely bombastic Symphonic Power Metal, and this album unleashes over 64 minutes of magical music in this regard.

    Opening with the lush “Twilight Force” track, we instantly get rewarded with blistering guitar solos, crafty tempo changes, and very dramatic vocal arrangements. Vocalist Allyon, aka Alessandro Conti, shines through this release, but in particular in epic songs like “At the Heart of Wintervale”, filled with soaring vocal passages. We particularly love that epic vibe that bands like Stratovarius, Rhapsody, and similar outfits craft, but with Twilight Force, this effort is poured into every single track, particularly heavy hitters like “Dragonborn”, and the cinematic 10-minute epic “Highlands of the Elder Dragon”.

  • Therion - Leviathan II (2022)

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    Therion is one of those bands that is always consistently good and when they set on producing a trilogy of releases that consolidated the style of their most popular songs, they were not messing around. With “Leviathan II” the listener gets treated to over 53 minutes and 13 tracks of superbly catchy Symphonic/Operatic Metal they basically invented and have been refining over the years. As a quintessential release for any of the band’s fans, this release should be in your collection.

    Kicking off the release we have the lively “Aeon of Maat”, a song with a very crafty tempo and the band’s signature dueling Heavy Metal and operatic vocals courtesy of Thomas Vikström and Lori Lewis. This formula gets nicely complemented by lush choir arrangements and dramatic use of classical instrumental elements, as we can hear in “Litany of the Fallen”, “Alchemy of the Soul” and one of our personal favorites “Lunar Coloured Fields”.

  • Behemoth - Opvs Contra Natvram (2022)

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    After being catapulted to ‘wide-spread’ success in the Metal scene with “The Satanist” in 2014, Poland’s Behemoth has leveled audiences around the world with their vicious Blackened Death Metal and their commanding stage presence. Fast-forward eight years, the band unleashes “Opvs Contra Natvram” which has an even more refined sound than their previous effort “I Loved You at Your Darkest”. Staying in their comfort zone, this release continues Behemoth’s aural aggression with ten solid tracks.

    Opening with the atmospheric and ritualistic “Post-God Nirvana”, the band sets a mysterious aura around this album that explodes wide opening with the pummeling “Malaria Vvlgata”. Perfectly intertwining furious riffing and crafty tempo changes, this track shows the band’s ability to crush skulls while keeping a tense atmosphere. Featuring some awesome vocal arrangements, “The Deathless Sun” is one of those tracks that crawls under your skin delivering eerie moody passages and blistering guitar leads.

  • Fallujah - Empyrean (2022)

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    After changing vocalists on the last two albums, against all odds, Fallujah has come on top in both occasions. In “Empyrean” the band welcomes Kyle Schaefer, while continuing to dabble even more in Progressive Death Metal territories. The band’s transition over the years has been quite interesting and for over 50 minutes they unleash a very crafty combination of Progressive elements and Technical Death Metal wizardry.

    Delivering a blistering and swift opening, “The Bitter Taste of Clarity” hits the listener hard with punishing riffs, inhuman growls, and a crafty tempo changes, reminiscent of a mixture of bands like Persefone, Obscura, and Hour of Penance. The technical wizardry continues with excellent pieces like “Radiant Ascension”, the proggy and moody “Embrace Oblivion” with some dreamy clean female and male vocals thrown into the mix, and one of our favorites with the highly melodic “Into the Eventide”.

  • The Halo Effect - Days of the Lost (2022)

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    Coming to take the best Melodic Death Metal release of 2022 title, today we have The Halo Effect and their debut full-length release “Days of the Lost”. For the uninitiated, as soon as this band was announced, we knew they would release something insanely awesome. Featuring Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) on vocals, and pretty much every good musician In Flames started or had a long time with, like Jesper Strömblad and Niclas Engelin on guitars, Daniel Svensson on drums, and Peter Iwers on bass, this line-up is beyond stacked.

    Immediately making an impact with “Shadowminds”, we quickly get an old-school Dark Tranquillity whiff, but this is slowly replaced with a very interesting hybrid of both early DT and In Flames, but with a modern edge, experienced musicianship, and excellent production values. It is very cool to hear songs like the album title track, “The Needless End” and “Conditional”, and wonder if this is how things would have shaken out if these guys would have made music together since back in the day.

  • Soilwork - Övergivenheten (2022)

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    The always evolving Björn Strid and Soilwork are finally back, with yet another boundary smashing release. Far from the band’s original Melodic Death Metal style, it seems like this band style is heading in a collision course with Björn’s other band The Night Flight Orchestra sans the 80’s glam. Most of the tracks are both soothing and catchy, with a rock’n’roll vibe, leaving aside from time to time, some of their heavier elements from before.

    Starting with some funky folky atmospherics of the album title track, it quickly brings back some familiar onslaughts as there are plenty of heavy riffs and harsh screams, blended in with soaring melodic passages. This initial impression is quickly changed with “Nous Sommes La Guerre”, a piece more in the Night Flight Orchestra vibe, with pop-ish edges and engaging vocal melodies. The band’s duality to more melodic and ‘accessible’ pieces, and the heavier melodic DM influences is a bit confusing and chaotic as they transition through pieces like “Electric Again” and “Valleys of Gloam”.

  • Massacre - Mythos (2022)

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    Hailing from the swamps of Florida, today we Massacre and their latest EP “Mythos”. As you would expect, the band plays a mean old-school American Death Metal, with elements from all the genre greats plus their own antics. For a band that has been on and off over the years, the band’s sound is quite polished and will have you headbanging from start to end and feeling nostalgic, so definitely a good addition to any DM fan’s collection.

    Starting with the chugging riffs of “Behind the Serpent's Curse”, the band sets a pretty gnarly mood with crafty drumming and engaging tempo changes. This track also features guest Anders Odden of Cadaver, giving it an extra killer punch. One of our favorite things about old-school American DM is that songs are usually short, with a heavy kick, and far from linear, as we can hear in “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Mythos That Lovecraft Built”.

  • Black Void - Antithesis (2022)

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    Showcasing a different side of Lars Are Nedland, today we have his latest project Black Void, a sort of polar opposite release from his 2021, White Void “Anti”, release. Perfectly combining Punk and Black Metal with a mild dose of his soaring clean vocals, Lars delivers around 40 minutes of intense, hellish, and masterfully crafted music featuring a few guest appearances and a stellar supporting cast.

    Opening with the sleazy “Void”, a statement piece that while it starts with typical Black’n’roll fare plus some hefty Punk-ish influences, the listener is still treated to majestic clean vocal arrangements and plenty of melody. Creating chaos and confusion, “Reject Everything” and “Death to Morality” pounce at the listener with ravaging guitars, courtesy of Jostein Thomassen (Borknagar), and a good dose of harsh vocals thrown into the mix.

  • Watain - The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (2022)

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    With every release, Watain manages to further refine their craft to be more incisive, sinister, and piercing, and “The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain” perfectly reflects this. Featuring nearly 50 minutes of bone-chilling music, this release blends aggression with atmosphere and musicality, to create some of the foulest and most oppressive Black Metal anthems to date.

    Opening with the vicious “Ecstasies in Night Infinite”, the listener is quickly blasted with the band’s ravaging guitar work alongside Erik Danielsson’s evil snarl. This opener has a certain retro Dissection-like vibe that sets the tone for the release. We particularly love how elegant melody is infused into the band’s music on tracks like “The Howling”, “Black Cunt”, and “Serimosa”, that still have that razor sharp BM edge, but sound different than most bands.

  • Sabaton - The War to End All Wars (2022)

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    We have always stated that we have two definitions of epic around IM: regular epic, and then Sabaton epic. This Swedish band continues to deliver killer War-inspired Power Metal unlike any other band in the scene, and with “The War to End All Wars” the band focuses their songwriting efforts on WWI. For over 45 minutes, the band reminds us why they have propelled to Metal scene stardom, touring with greats like Judas Priest and headlining summer festivals.

    Opening with the emotional “Sarajevo”, the band sets their regal mood quite early with insightful narrations and lush choral arrangements. The first stand-out track comes under the name of “Stormtroopers” and its soaring vocal lines alongside superb guitar leads. This track, and the rest of the album, features more of a stripped down Power Metal vibe than in previous releases, but with Joakim Brodén lead vocals marching the listener down into battle.

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