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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Chugging through fifteen tracks of traditional Death Metal, today we have the legendary Immolation and their eleventh full-length release “Actos of God”. Always keeping things interesting and brutal, the nearly one hour of music unleashed in this release perfectly captures the band’s signature sound while keeping things fresh and engaging.
Ross Dolan and Robert Vigna have been unleashing crafty Death Metal songs for over two decades and with “Acts of God” they show the band is not slowing down or have fallen behind the times. Pieces like the crushing “An Act of God”, “Nose of Thorns”, to the massive “Immortal Stain” are perfect examples of experiences, timelessness and viciousness, delivering piercing guitar riffs and masterfully crafted drums.
On their first release as part of Nuclear Blast Records, France’s Celeste unleashes “Assassine(s)”, a vibrant 40+ minutes release blending their Black Metal with Post-Metal/Sludge influences. The band creates a very unique and punishing sound, filled with harsh vocals and crafty riffing, creating an unparalleled wall of sound and destruction.
The release fully kicks off with the intricate drumming of “Des torrents de coups”, which leads way to incisive guitars and crafty tempo changes. Picture listening to Cult of Luna with an Amenra edge. As the riffing barrage fully warms up, tracks like “De tes yeux bleus perlés”, “Nonchalantes de beauté”, and “Draguée tout au fond”, further develop the band’s massive sound with piercing onslaughts of crushing guitar work.