Slowly inching their way to a bigger label like Season of Mist, today we have one of the best Greek Death/Doom Metal bands: On Thorns I lay. Unleashing their eponymous release, the band’s 10th full-length effort has them delivering a dark and cohesive sound that is heavier and more sinister than their earlier efforts (“Orama”, “Angeldust”), still features the band’s signature approach to the genre.
Opening with the punishing “Fallen from Grace”, the band delivers a good mix of atmosphere and incisive guitar riffs. The band’s sound is heavy, like really heavy, with a certain Septicflesh vibe to it on most tracks, particularly the longer ones like the opener, “Crestfallen”, and “Among The Wolves”. However, the band’s signature sound can still be heard on pieces like “Newborn Skies” and “Raise Empires” that have the melancholic riffing alongside crafty keyboards.
Season Of Mist
It has been a while since we heard from Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris and their highly polished and expertly crafted Progressive Extreme Metal. Luckily, 2023 marks the return of the band with a crushing full-length release titled “Exul”. Featuring six tracks and nearly one hour of high-octane and brilliantly crafted music, this release sets a whole new standard for a band with extremely high quality releases. If you like outfits like Persefone, Ihsahn, Be'lakor, Cynic, and older Opeth, you will love this release.
The album kicks off with the brilliant “Equus”, a masterful piece filled with crafty drumming, an insane bass guitar line, all alongside dramatic violin arrangements and punishing vocals. For 12 minutes, the opener lays down the foundation of highly polished aggression mixed in with lush instrumentation and a very dark and somber mood. Now that the band is warmed up, they rip through the two part “Misericorde” masterpiece, with the first piece, “As the Flesh Falls”, nicely creating a playful Obscura-esque foundation of guitar wizardry and dramatic clean vocals. The second part, “Anatomy of Quiescence”, is even more dramatic with even more lush and jazzy violin arrangements thrown into the mix.
We are extremely glad that the band that got us into Symphonic Black Metal in the 90’s is back in full form and has stayed away from their weird Techno/Industrial phase. …and Oceans delivered two brilliant releases in the late 90’s, then dropped two super weird and ahead of their time releases only to mostly disappear for almost a decade. With “As in Gardens, So in Tombs” the band showcases a lush and evolved sound filled with epic melodies and crafty atmospherics.
Opening with the album title track, the band’s retro approach to the genre perfectly balances furious guitar work over playful keyboards. While most bands these days make the keyboards overbearing, this Finnish outfit uses them to complement their core sound as they never feel over the top. Tracks like “The Collector and His Construct”, “Within Fire and Crystal”, and “Carried on Lead Wings” have that old Tartaros and Limbonic Art vibe adorned with ‘new’ vocalist Mathias Lillmåns of Finntroll harsh scream onslaughts.
It has been a while since we heard anything from Woods of Desolation and their supremely bleak take on Black Metal. As one of the originators, alongside fellow Aussies of Austere, of the Depressive/Post-Black Metal genres, this one-man band has always delivered unwavering soul crushing music and with “The Falling Tide” they are back at it. If you are a fan of total bleakness, this release is a must have in 2022.
Immediately setting a decadent mood with “Far From Here”, the band’s long hiatus is instantly gone as it continues where it left off. Fierce riffing onslaughts and crushing drumming are expertly flanked by atmospheric oppression. We particularly enjoy the moody tempo changes, as the album pummels through highly emotional songs like “Beneath a Sea of Stars” and “Illumination”.
Spanning back in 2020 out of ex members of Obscura, Obsidious is one of those bands that perfectly combines technical wizardry with solid songwriting to craft unique songs that are brilliant in both departments, not just one of the two like tons of other bands. Unleashing over 53 minutes of music, some might expect just another version of Obscura, but the band is far from this as it feels more like a mixture of Scar Symmetry, older Soilwork, some of the pace of Persefone, with some Cynic sprinkles. If you are a fan of the genre, you should better keep an eye out for these guys.
The release opens with the imposing “Under Black Skies” and its pretty brutal delivery of multiple styles of harsh vocals alongside punishing riffs and crushing drums courtesy of Sebastian Lanser. The mood quickly changes and becomes more dynamic as the soaring clean vocals change the tempo a bit. The band’s sound is quite well crafted as it is never too linear and keeps throwing things at the listeners to keep them guessing as one can appreciate from tracks like “Sense of Lust”, “Iconic” and “Bound By Fire”.
Unleashing one of the most majestic and expertly crafted mixtures of Atmospheric/Folk and Melodic Black Metal, today we have Saor and their latest release “Origins”. As the brainchild of Andy Marshall, this outfit has continually gotten better over the years and with this release they reach the pinnacle (for now) of their craftsmanship and songwriting abilities. Featuring six tracks and nearly 42 minutes of music, this is definitely one of the top releases of 2022.
Opening with the regal “Call of the Carnyx”, we get the band’s signature melodic riffing alongside crafty atmospheric and very ethereal clean vocals. As the track progresses more Folk elements are baked into the mix, perfectly leading to the lively “Fallen” and its graceful guitar leads intertwined with harsh screams and killer tempo changes. Never leaving the Folky and mystical nature of the band’s sound behind, “The Ancient Ones” is a magical piece where all these elements perfectly work together to create a very intense mood.
Hailing from the Netherlands, Sever Torture is one of those bands that has been around for a while and still does not get the recognition they deserve. With their “Fisting the Sockets” EP, the band’s first formal release in over 12 years, we get three tracks of crushing (and catchy) Death Metal with that old-school Dutch flair and some modern elements.
Everytime people count Abbath out, he comes back with a vengeance, and with “Dread Reaver” he returns to silence all haters. Showcasing his signature style with a more mature and Heavy Metal edge, nine tracks and 40 minutes of music unleash a barrage of riffs alongside his signature snarls. Not slowing down one bit, this release is as savage as anything he has released in the past.
Wasting no time to inflict aural domination, “Acid Haze” quickly pummels the listener with Abbath’s signature frosty riffs alongside killer guitar leads and blistering drumming. Firing on all cylinders, the band victoriously marches like an unstoppable bullet train with tracks like “Scarred Core”, “Dream Cull”, and the old-school Heavy Metal infused “Myrmidon” anthem, one of our favorite tracks in this release.
There is certain magic when a band’s last release was nearly a decade ago, and yet they return with the same vicious and piercing sound, just as no time has passed. This is the best way to explain how Hell Militia’s latest opus “Hollow Void” sound. Filled with hate and punishment, this release unravels nearly 45 minutes of decadent Black Metal that has not changed with time.
Being huge fans of multi-instrumentalist Sylvaine and her enchanting music, we completely cleared our review queue and went deep into the intricacies and layers of “Nova”. Perfectly balancing the fragility of genres like Shoegaze and Atmospheric Metal with the aggression of Black Metal and Post-Metal influences, this release marks Sylvaine’s best effort to date with around 45 minutes of complex enchanting music.
Setting a very ethereal vibe with the album title track, things quickly escalate with the piercing guitars of “Mono No Aware”. This track perfectly blends onslaughts of harsh screams alongside dreamy vocal melodies, creating a very intense and yet melancholic atmosphere. We are always quite impressed with the build-up of songs like “Nowhere, Still Somewhere”, which slowly hypnotize the listener with siren-like vocal arrangements and shoegazey guitars.