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  • Mercenary - Soundtrack to the End of Times (2023)

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    Here is a band we never thought we would hear from again: Denmark’s Mercenary makes a triumphant return with “Soundtrack to the End of Times”. For the uninitiated, the band had a great run in the 2000’s with killer releases like “Architect of Lies” and our favorite “11 Dreams”. Crafting a mixture of Melodic Death/Power Metal, the band’s sound is still fresh, powerful and engaging, delivering over 60 minutes of high-octane music.

    Opening with the crafty “Burning in Reverse”, the band brings back those excellent memories of their dramatic clean/harsh vocal lines alongside catchy melodic riffs and superb guitar leads. Dusting off the cobwebs early on, the soaring melodies the band creates continue to be top notch as songs like “Heart of the Numb”, “Where Darkened Souls Belong”, and “Through this Blackened Hatred” perfectly showcase their musicianship and experience.

  • Sielunvihollinen - Helvetinkone (2023)

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    Unleashing waves of catchiness and aggression, today we have Finland’s one-man battalion Sielunvihollinen, and their latest full-length release “Helvetinkone”. Featuring eight tracks and over 40 minutes of music, this release relies on crafty guitar melodies and a hefty dose of pummeling drums to create a very lively and refreshing Black Metal. Far from your typical over the top tremolo-picking BM, this band focuses more on intricate riffs and engaging tempos to unleash their fury.

    Setting a blistering pace with “Sinetti ja symboli”, the band quickly unleashes ravaging brutality alongside a crafty dose of melody and neat drum patterns. The music tempo is quite diverse, weaving back and forth from a thousand miles per hour, to more melodic and slower passages on tracks like “Raivoni astalo”, “Alkemisti ja tuhoaja”, and “Matkani päässä”. We particularly enjoy the old school Heavy Metal melodies that are nicely incorporated into the BM core.

  • Uada - Crepuscule Natura (2023)

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    Continuing their path of cosmic catchiness, today we have Uada and their latest opus “Crepuscule Natura”. Featuring five tracks and over 41 minutes of music, the band unleashes their riff-driven Black Metal continuing with the intensity and magic that “Djinn” left off. Full of highly memorable moments and plenty of headbanging/moshing opportunities, this album is a testament to the band’s search for perfection and polish of their sound and message.

    Opening with the “The Abyss Gazing Back”, the riffing onslaught is quickly present with incisive guitars and masterfully crafted drumming. The tempo changes allow for some nice transitions between aggressive passages and more mellow melodic interludes. Without needing many additions or experimentation, the band’s sound is crips and direct as pummeling tracks like “Crepuscule Natura” and “The Dark (Winter)” unleash a plethora of crafty guitar elements alongside moody vibes.

  • Hexvessel - Polar Veil (2023)

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    From the mind of Mat McNerney, aka Kvohst, Hexvessel has been a very unique and engaging band throughout their multiple stylistic changes. From the dark and eerie occult folk/doom/rock days of “Dawnbearer“ and “No Holier Temple”, to the more psychedelic rock edge of “When We Are Death”, “All Tree”, and “Kindred”. The band has always had a very mysterious and eerie core that now fully unravels alongside piercing Black Metal riffs and creepy atmospherics. With only a handful of bands being able to drastically transition into (or from) Black Metal, “Polar Veil” showcases a very powerful aural experience that shows the band morphing into yet another version of themselves and unleashing one of the best releases of 2023.

    Opening with “The Tundra is Awake”, we get vicious and raw Black Metal riffs, for a moment you will be taken aback as this is not where the band seemed to be going on their last release. However, after McNerney’s signature vocals come into the mix, that whole ‘Hexvessel vibe’ is immediately felt as it brilliantly blends together. This release is heavy and yet quite atmospheric, as pieces like “Older Than The Gods” seem to be pulling one way with the guitars and yet the lush vocal arrangements pull a different way, creating a very intoxicating and yet perplexingly harmonious sound.

  • Warmen - Here for None (2023)

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    It has been a while since Janne Warman has turned his attention to Warmen and their insanely fast and technical music. While their previous 2014 release was meh at best, their first four albums are just amazing. With “Here for None”, Janne alongside his brother and new additions Petri Lindross and Seppo Tarvainen, return with a refreshed sound that is more aggressive, (a bit) slower, and yet more cohesive and equally enjoyable.

    Opening with the catchy “Warmen are Here for None”, the band quickly unleashes their more aggressive nature with Lindross snarl and heavier/more melodic death metal-esque guitar work. However, the magic of Warmen is always present as Janne’s over the top keyboards and Antti’s guitar wizardry as songs like “The Driving Force”, “A World of Pain”, and “Too Much, Too Late” demonstrate. There are certain Children of Bodom elements in the music, but the band imprints their own spin, like one epic songs such as “Night Terrors”.

  • Godthrymm - Distortions (2023)

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    Unleashing misery and heaps of gloominess, today we have UK’s Godthrymm and their sophomore release “Distortions”. Led by Shaun Taylor-Steels and Hamish Glencross of My Dying Bride fame, this album delivers nearly one hour of majestic Epic Doom with killer riffs and crafty heaviness. As a well oiled machine, this outfit’s song writing abilities perfectly shine with some monumental headbanging sessions.

    The release quickly sets a very oppressive and doomy mood with the ripping guitars of “As Titans”, featuring a nice MDB and Mournful Congregation-esque vibe. However, the band is far from just copying others as they weave in their own signature style alongside the clean male and female vocals of Hamish and Catherine Glencross. Some Epic Doom bands overdo it on the clean vocals, but here we get a perfect balance as tracks like “Devils”, “Echoes” and “Obsess and Regress” showcase.

  • Welmoed - Ask & Embla (2023)

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    Crafting a truly unique and powerful mixture between heaviness and dreaminines, today we have Dutch project Welmoed and their debut release “Ask & Embla”. Featuring five tracks and over 33 minutes of Atmospheric Post-Black/Shoegaze Metal/Rock music, this release creates a very engaging and fragile atmosphere thanks to ethereal keyboards and dramatic vocal arrangements.

    The album sets a very hypnotic pace with the shoegaze-y opener “Naga'' and its dramatic tempo changes alongside crafty instrumentation. While the opener is pretty good, one starts thinking that this will be just another one of those Post-Black Metal releases as the intense tremolo picking sets in. This impression continues as “Ask & Embla” continues the release, until a magical change happens as angelic female vocals are introduced and the whole vibe instantly changes.

  • Asphodelus - Sculpting from Time (2023)

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    Bringing back the days of mid to late 1990’s Death/Doom Metal, today we have Finland's Asphodelus and their sophomore release “Sculpting from Time”. With a very retro and yet engaging sound, at least for oldtimers like us, we are transported to the time when bands like (early) The Gathering, Yearning, Anathema, Castle, Katatonia, etc. started adding atmospheric elements to Doomy music.

    Opening with the moody guitars of “Waterside”, we are magically transported to the past with a very direct and old-school production and a style we haven't heard in quite a while. Led by Jari Filppu, the band perfectly captures that gloomy vibe and delivers tracks like “Fallen Dreamer”, “Life Painted Vermillion”, and “World of Hollow”. There are also some hints of old-school Finnish Death Metal, and even some 90’s Greek Metal hints from bands like The Elysian Fields.

  • Mystfall - Celestial Vision (2023)

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    Hailing from Greece, today we have an excellent Symphonic Metal newcomer with Mystfall and their debut release “Celestial Vision”. Featuring over 40 minutes of high-octane music, this release has all the staples of the genre to please even the most demanding fans. If you are a fan of Epica, Visions of Atlantis, etc., you will certainly love this release.

    Opening with a dramatic orchestrated intro, the band really shines as it transitions to “Celestial Vision”. Showcasing polish and excellent instrumentation, alongside the talented vocals of Marialena Trikoglou, this outfit unleashes dramatic arrangements and tons of catchiness as they pummel through songs like “Centuries”, “Endless”, and “Silence”.

  • Eleine - We Shall Remain (2023)

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    Hailing from Sweden, today we have a Symphonic Metal band that has been gradually taking the scene by storm: Eleine. With a very powerful and engaging sound, it is quite hard to stand out in this very crowded genre, but this band has managed to do so by creating highly enjoyable songs. With “We Shall Remain”, the band’s fourth full-length release on the heels of their most recent North American tour with Moonspell and Oceans of Slumber, the band is set to reach a whole new level of acclaim.

    Opening with the powerful “Never Forget”, the pounding distorted guitars mean business as the band sets a very high-octane mood filled with catchiness. Led by the charismatic and talented Madeleine "Eleine" Liljestam, the band’s music perfectly fits her vocals, creating very powerful and diverse melodies that are sometimes flanked by harsh growls to amplify that duality of heaviness and melody. Tracks like “Stand by the Flame”, “We Are Legion”, and “Promise of Apocalypse” are perfect examples of that.

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