Starting 2020 on fire, German label Purity Through Fire unleashes yet another excellent Black Metal release with Mavorim’s sophomore full-length release “Axis Mundi”. Presenting a mixture of Ambient elements with Melodic Black Metal spurts, this release clock in at around 60 minutes of engaging and crafty music. As a one-man entity, this outfit’s sound is a bit retro, folk-like, heavy and powerful at the same time.
After the mood setting into, we get the mystical “Aus Asche auferstanden” filled with subtle synths and a demolishing BM pace. The harsh screams perfectly blend in with the powerful riffs and the very well marked drums. This very martial musical structure is quite effective in creating well delineated songs that are enjoyable and yet predictable, as the dreamy “Wo kriegergleiche Kräfte walten” and its magical clean vocal arrangements.
Unleashing one of the first 2020 contenders for Black Metal album of the year, today we have Finland’s mysterious duo with “Gnosis”. While most bands follow a marked path, Aethyrick brilliantly blends elements of traditional BM with more refined atmospheric/Post-BM influences with an overall punishing but melodic approach. Always keeping the listener engaged, this release features over 40 minutes of dramatic and high quality music.
Opening with the moody “Will Embodied”, Gall and Exile set a furious tone with blistering riffs and hellish drums, however it is the melancholic guitar leads and the overall oppressive atmosphere that sets the band apart. With certain influences of outfits like Vanum, Ash Borer and Post-Black Metal elements, the band’s style is quite refined and cut-throat as we can her in crushingly melodic tracks like “Oneiric Portals” and the heavily atmospheric “Stellar Flesh”.
Aside from the cringey name, Goats of Doom hails from Finland and it is ready to kick some ass with their high-octane Black Metal that reminds us of the melodic brilliance of Catamenia. Unleashing over 35 minutes of frosty music, the band does a great job in crafting intricate melodies that are just perfect for headbanging on a nice cold winter night.
Kicking off with the catchiness of “Mustan Unen Äiti”, the album sets a very intense and yet melodic tone that is rare to find these days. The epic guitar leads and hash vocal perfectly blend as the pace intensifies and the riffs continue to rip through our speakers. Avoiding repetition, the band’s track have blistering tempo changes and crafty drumming to keep things interesting when contrasted by slower paced passages with clean vocals and folky/pagan Metal vibes on tracks like “Kuolonkorjaaja” and “Sinne Mihin Valheet Ei Yllä”.
Today we have a highly melodic Black Metal entity called Vananidr and their latest full-length release “Damnation”. With a vicious edge to their sound, this band perfectly blends old-school Melodic BM elements with modern production values and a knack for long and seizure inducing headbanging passages. Showing that you don’t need too many bells and whistles to deliver a punishing performance, this album is one of the most direct and yet well-crafted releases we have heard in quite a while.
Opening with the hurricane like-tempo of the blistering drumming of “Distilled”, the listener is treated to a ravaging song with crafty tempo changes and a very oppressive atmosphere. The harsh vocal snarls perfectly pair with the sinister atmosphere crafted by the band’s mixture of piercing guitar riffs and melodic tremolo-picking passages, as perfectly outlined on the album’s title track and in the superbly catchy “Hunter”.
Sneakily released on the 24th of December, Sargeist unleashes nearly twenty minutes of their signature brand of Black Metal with “Death Veneration”. As one of the premiere bands of the genre, these Finns craft four intense anthems filled with furious riffing, devilish vocals and blistering drumming. As a great addition to any BM collection, this EP deserves to be heard and purchased.
Blasting the listener straight to hell with the pummeling “To Make Wolves of Men”, we have Profundus spewing his inhuman shrieks to the tune of Shatraug and VJS furious guitar work. With their signature rawness and intensity, the band transitions into the machiavellian “To Feast on Astral Blood”. We particularly enjoy this piece a lot thanks to its highly memorable melodic passages that are just brilliant for an intense headbanging session.
As the days get shorter and the dark nights get longer (in the Northern Hemisphere), Officium Triste arrives with perfect timing and their bleakness inducing full-length release “The Death of Gaia”. Unleashing over 55-minutes of devastating Death/Doom Metal, we are reminded that this Dutch outfit is by far one of the best at their craft.
Opening with the misery inducing dramatic arrangements of “The End is Nigh”, the band sets a very dark and funeral-esque vibe that features some slight glimmers of hope. The interplay of Pim Blankenstein crushing growls, the incisive guitar riffs and the melodramatic keyboards creates a superb atmosphere that sets the mood for a very somber release. With some crafty percussions and melancholic headbanging passages, “World In Flames” continues that oppressive atmosphere with a plethora of weeping guitar leads and crafty tempo changes.
Unleashing elevent anthems of Horror Punk fare, today we have Sweden’s Death Wolf and their latest opus “IV: Come the Dark”. Featuring Morgan Håkansson of Marduk fame on bass guitar, this outfit delivers superbly catchy and yet creepy songs that are both memorable and highly entertaining. While The Vision Bleak comes to mind as a comparison, this band features a more barebones and direct sound that will pummel your eardrums.
The ripping guitars of “He Who Hates” perfectly set the mood for a high-octane release filled with catchines and intensity. Valentin Mellströ’s vocals are perfectly suited to lead a barrage of punishing guitars and intense bass guitar lines, thanks to the crystal clear production the vocals are very prevalent. With playful tempo changes and hefty atmospherics, the band pummels through tracks like “Edge of the Wood”, “Empower the Flame” and the headbanging fest “The Sword”, a song that sets a very epic vibe from the first note.
If you can imagine what Kayo Dot, Maudlin of the Well, Ephel Duath and Subterranean Masquerade would sound all blended together, then you would get close to just how expansive In Human Form sounds. Unleashing their three-songs, 49 minute opus “III”, this band pushes all boundaries into completely new dimensions and creates some of the most unique sounding Metal we have ever heard.
The release opens with the 18-minute tour de force “Apocrypha Carrion”, where the band starts off with furious guitar riffs and a very intense pace. The screamed vocals are quite hectic and very fitting for such chaotic music, but what really draws the listener is the funky subtle tempo changes mixed in with some more drastic near full-stop switches. We particularly enjoy the jazzy elements that transition the song’s multiple movements from chaos, to lush beauty and down the rabbit hole again.
Hailing from Quebec, Canada, today we have Black Metal newcomer Trépas and their debut release “L'héritage du monde”. Delivering nearly 40 minutes of relentless frosty Black Metal, this outfit unleashes quite a solid initial effort. For those fans that like a good dose of melody mixed into their BM, the six tracks unleashed in this release will satisfy your cravings.
The band blasts away with the pummeling “Rivages Sombres”, a very punishing and engaging opening track. Perfectly balancing melodic guitars, blistering drums and harrowing harsh vocals, Trépas makes a very solid first impression. The sinister opening of “L'Aube”remind us of old-school Ancient and that melodic riffing with furious drumming from 90’s BM. The level of intensity in this track is perfect for a furious headbanging session, from start to end.
Unleashing one of the most monolithic Atmospheric Death/Doom releases of 2019, today we have Portugal’s OAK with “Lone”. Featuring four tracks and around 50 minutes of soul crushing music, this release highly recommended for fans of bands like Mournful Congregation, Shape of Despair and Ahab. Piercing through the listener’s psyche, this album is heavy and punishing, unlike anything else you will hear this year.
Slowly building up momentum with the gargantuan opening track “Sculptures”, this duo craft a very punishing atmosphere thanks to massive slow riffs and crushing growls. With a very mellow pace, this track crafts a mysterious cavernous atmosphere as the guitars unleash minimalist notes of desperation. Expertly crafting desolate passages, “Mirror” continues the funeral procession with more crushing guitar riffs and crafty drum patterns. The tracks’ catharsis is well earned and after a while of atmospherics the listener is treated to some truly haunting growling passages.