Unleashing a very interesting compilation of some of their earlier digital material, today we have A Diadem of Dead Stars with “Emerald Sunsets”. Hailing from Greece, this band has a very unique and at times gritty sound that perfectly blends influences from bands like early Ulver, Empyrium, and more modern Atmospheric Black Metal elements from outfits like Heretoir and Saor.
Opening with the blistering “The Furrow of Woes”, we quickly get aggressive BM guitar riffs and a moody tempo. This track nicely evolves into some eerily magical (early) Ulver-esque passages of clean vocals and powerful guitars. There is a certain Doom-ish magic to the band’s sound that nicely keeps things interesting and different, as we can hear in songs like “And Swallows Flew Away From This”.
After being broken up for 15 years or so, Hate Forest returned with a punishing release in 2020, and before we even knew it, they dropped “Innermost” this past December. Featuring six tracks and around 35 minutes of punishing Black Metal, this release keeps the band’s mythos alive and well by unleashing their signature demoralizing style. If you are a fan of the band, and/or bleak and ravaging BM, you can’t miss out on this release.
The release quickly goes for the throat with “Those Who Howl Inside the Snowstorm”, a blistering piece of traditional Black Metal in the vein of Immortal, with piercing tremolo picking and crushing drumming. The album’s savagery level is quickly showcased as pieces like “By Full Moon's Light Alone the Steppe Throne Can Be Seen” and “Ice-Cold Bloodless Veins” provide no respite except for the occasional atmospheric interludes. Hate Forest has always been characterized for their relentless brutality and this is front and center on this release.
After blowing us away with their 2020 debut “Hierophant Violent”, Forlesen is back for more with a poignant sophomore release titled “Black Terrain”. Clocking in at nearly 60 minutes of crushing and yet experimental music, this album perfectly blends elements of Ambient music and Doom/Black Metal to create a massive slab of enigmatic atmospheric brilliance. Better digested after more than a dozen spins, this release is a killer follow-up to their antics.
The release opens with the 19-minute behemoth “Strega” and its slow burning approach, flanking distorted guitars with crafty vocal arrangements and additional subtle instrumentation. The solemn combination of male and female vocals alongside a super slow tempo creates a very unique and devastating aura as more colorful guitar leads are introduced. The song reaches an excellent climax and we will definitely not ruin it for listeners here.
Hailing from Russia, today we have Atmospheric Death/Doom outfit Mare Infinitum with an engaging release titled “Cryosleep”. Showing further evolution in the band’s sound, this album adds some bombastic Symphonic Metal elements to the band’s powerful Doom core. Evoking thoughts from Therion to Epica to Funeral and Swallow the Sun. For over 46 minutes the band dazzles listeners with a high octane release.
The release starts with the highly theatrical and Therion-esque piece “Your Final Bow”, a song with very dramatic choir arrangements and excellent clean male vocals. This track sets a very imposing and lush backdrop, which serves quite well for the traditional deep growls and weeping Doomy guitars the band lays down. With an even more dramatic edge, “The Flight Of No Return” is a fragile piece that nicely shakes things up with crafty tempo changes and excellent guitar leads.
Keeping that old-school Finnish Black Metal flame alive, today we have Satanic Warmaster and their latest effort “Aamongandr”. Unleashing six tracks and around 36 minutes of pure mayhem, this one-man battalion feels like an army heading to battle. With a timeless sound and crushing execution, this is definitely one of the BM highlights of 2022.
The release opens with the ravaging intensity of “Bafomet” and its piercing riffing. The band’s sound is very typical and well polished, and even delivering some extra melodic guitar work to keep things fresh and interesting. Keeping things very hectic, “Duke's Ride” unleashes waves of crafty drumming, Werwolf’s signature snarls, all alongside excellent synth undertones. The ability of the band to keep songs fresh and dynamic while retaining their core Black Metal elements is quite engaging and keeps the release interesting.
Unleashing both sheer brutality and timeless nostalgia, today we have mysterious Black Metal outfit Har Shatan and their first full-length release in twelve years titled “Manum Inicere Alicui”. Featuring over 43 minutes of raw and punishing music, this release has that old school vibe that reminds us of early Immortal and Satyricon. Highly recommended for BM purists, this release will wind back the clock to the early days of the scene.
After a short intro, the release really kicks-off with the dissonance of “Aurora” and its piercing riffs and haunting vocal arrangements. This initial piece slowly warms up the listener for the raw onslaught brought forth by the crushing “Fulgens et Sole Clarior” guitar work alongside its creepy atmospherics. The band’s old-school sound is quite well crafted, while keeping things dynamic with songs like “Secret” and its heavier atmospheric elements.
Making our first review of a 2023 album, today we have Finland’s Admire the Grim and their debut EP “Rogue Five”. Featuring a crafty Melodic Death Metal sound, this new outfit delivers five tracks and around 16 minutes of superbly catchy and engaging music. If you are a fan of Finnish MeloDeath bands, this outfit is right up your alley as they have the skills to carve themselves a path in the genre.
Unleashing unrivaled melancholy and atmospheric bleakness, today we have newcomers Mournument and their debut release “Smouldering Into Dust”. Reminding us of bands like Agalloch and Empyrium with a Doomier edge, this release delivers six tracks and 46 minutes of brilliant music. Perfect for a gloomy fall/winter day, this album is one of the best and most complete releases we have heard in 2022.
Opening with “On Rain and Thunder”, we get lush acoustic guitars and violins setting a bleak and desolate soundscape. As the clean vocals make their way, the Tenhi/Empyrium vibe slowly transitions into heavier territories with Agalloch-esque mournful distorted guitars. “Chasm of Abandoned Souls” continues the onslaught with more traditional Doom elements and an eerie mixture of deep clean vocals and harsh screams.
Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, today we have Scars of the Flesh and their third full-length release “In Darkness Alone”. Unleashing five original tracks and four very well crafted cover songs, the band showcases their own brand of Death Metal with some Melodic/Progressive influences for over 50 minutes of engaging music. For fans of bands like Cenotaph, The Chasm, and similar outfits, this band packs a big punch and nicely combines it with a good dose of melody.
Opening with the punishing “Only I”, a dark and sinister mood is quickly set thanks to the incisive guitars and Kobey Lange’s growls. While there are plenty of classic Death Metal riffs used, tracks like “The Hooded One” and “In Darkness Alone” add extra layers of melody alongside technical craftiness and even some additional atmospheric elements. Our favorite track has to be the mournful “Memory Unknown”, a track that has some killer Doomy undertones and excellent guitar leads and headbanging moments.
Canada continues to amaze us with their Black Metal talent, with bands like Délétère, Monarque, and Forteresse leading the way, there are plenty of additional bands with unique and explosive styles such as Orphique. As a one-man project of David Potter, “Consécration Cadavérique” perfectly blends multiple styles with sheer brutality and intensity to create a very powerful and punishing release.
Opening with the moody “Onirique”, the band unleashes a crushing opening that slowly transitions into more melodic and sinister territories. We love how the track transitions into heavy atmospherics and a slower pace and then it jumps back at the listener with sheer brutality. If the first highly impressive track did not hook the listener, “Vampirique” and “Chromatique” combine lush atmospherics, crafty acoustic guitars and a mixture of high-octane onslaughts and dreamy interludes.