Unleashing one of the most furious and yet catchy releases of 2020, today we have one-man battalion Midnight with “Rebirth by Blasphemy”. With over 16 years of existence, this release is surprisingly the fourth full-length record after a large series of EPs, splits and demos. Thanks to its completely intense live shows and the superb catchiness of their music, Athenar has managed to get signed to Metal Blade Records and now can conquer bigger stages with his intoxicating music.
Opening with the blistering “Fucking Speed and Darkness”, you get that Speed Metal vibe crossed over with Punkish elements and a hearty dose of Black Metal. This is indeed the band’s signature sound and it is perfectly paired with a completely bonkers attitude of chaos and not giving many fucks. This is clearly materialized on pummeling tracks like “Escape by Blasphemy”, “Devil’s Excrement” and the retro-sounding “Rising Scum”.
Marking the return of the most exciting Power Metal to ever come out of the UK, today we have DragonForce and their latest opus “Extreme Power Metal”. Featuring a leaner sound and a leaner line-up, the band delivers ten solid tracks that showcase their signature style paired with superbly catchy songs and a very playful vibe. Delivering over 52 minutes of high-octane music, the band never disappoints when it comes to expertly crafted guitar acrobatics and catchy music.
The lush “Highway to Oblivion” track opens with a certain 80’s vibe that seems to be the concept around this release. Immediately Herman Li and Sam Totman take over with their playful guitar interactions as Marc Hudson’s vocals settle the listener into the band’s elaborate songs. The album still features Frédéric Leclercq on bass and backing vocals, as one can hear from his bass guitar lines on tracks like “Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred Machine” and the playful “The Last Dragonborn”.
Constantly getting better with time, Cult of Luna is ready to unravel their latest non-collaborative release: “A Dawn to Fear”. Featuring nearly 80 minutes of demoralizing music, this release showcases the band’s evolution into one of the most versatile and complex bands in the world. Picking up where they left off on their “Mariner” collaboration, the band creates lush soundscapes full of intricacies and magical details, making their music highly enjoyable and engaging.
The band wastes no time in setting up a very hypnotic mood with “The Silent Man”. Weaving back and forth between crushing guitar riffs, a trembling bass guitar onslaught and the band’s signature harsh vocals, this track perfectly prompts the listener to strap down to their seats and enjoy the ride. With the ritualistic “Lay Your Head to Rest”, the band sets a trance-like mood that bleeds into the more mellow album title track. We particularly enjoy how the band perfectly times the tempo changes, while keeping things fresh and interesting.
Stepping aside from all the controversy behind the band, we are just glad that we finally get a follow up to the amazing 2015 “Litourgiya” release. The Metal Blade signed and Bartłomiej Krysiuk-led Batushka delivers a very powerful release that is filled with interesting ideas and a massive atmospheric component. Featuring ten tracks, this release explores a more Black Metal side of things with pummeling tracks that are brilliantly balanced by eerie choir arrangements and superb drumming.
After setting a somber opening chants in “Wozglas”, the band explodes into the catchiness of “Dziewiatyj czas”. This song perfectly blends vicious Black Metal onslaughts with dreamy chants and a very melodic guitar driven vibe, similar to bands like Thyrfing and Vreid. The album’s second single, “Wieczernia” delivers another hellish onslaught of harsh vocals paired with funky guitars, which are quite punishing in nature. In “Powieczerje” we get an interesting mix of classic rock thrown into the band’s atmospheric style, creating a very unique and engaging song that is hard to not listen to over and over.
As a well oiled viking ship sailing through the oceans, Amon Amarth returns with yet another impressive onslaught of headbanging and moshing anthems in “Berserker”. Featuring twelve tracks and a running time of 56 minutes, the band further refines their crushing sound with a more melodic edge and the same amounts of euphoria inducing riffs. For those following the band’s exploits over the years, you will find this release as equally dynamic and impressive as their older ones, with a certain added touch of maturity. If you are new to the band, strap on for one hell of a ride with this one.
With “Fafner's Gold” leading the procession, the band warms up the listener’s with a powerful track, but the single “Crack the Sky” really steps it up a notch with the traditional Amon Amarth crushing melodic riffs. With this song you will instantly be possessed to start headbanging furiously thanks to its playful guitar work and hellish signature vocals. Additionally, the killer guitar leads add that extra level of epicness to an already brilliant song.
Riding high from their 2016 opus “Proponent for Sentience” and their countless tours, Allegaeon finally returns with new music in “Apoptosis”. Featuring eleven tracks of neck snapping Technical Death Metal, this release improves on their last effort while delivering catchy and highly memorable songs. With heavy competition from European bands, Allegaeon clearly establishes themselves as one of the premiere Technical DM outfits in the world thanks to this killer release.
The album opens with an acrobatic bass guitar line that slowly transforms into a more melodic piece in “Parthenogenesis”. This track is the perfect lead-in to the crushing “Interphase // Meiosis”, a track filled with crushing growls and very dreamy melodic passages. Blending intensely melodic passages with technically proficient acrobatics is the band’s specialty and on “Extremophiles (B)” we get treated to a good dose of it. With songs being short and direct to the point, the band’s sound is quite brutal in nature as you can hear from “The Secular Age”.
Unleashing the first candidate for album of the year, today we Týr and their mesmerizing eight full-length release “Hel”. Featuring nearly 70 minutes of superbly catchy and yet very intricate and crafty music, this album elevates the band’s sound to new heights and further cements their legacy as one of the best in their genre. Perfectly combining their signature elements from their early releases with more playful and free flowing elements, this release appeals to fans both old and new from this Faroese band.
Opening with “Gates of Hel”, the band’s charismatic front man, Heri Joensen, unleashes the perfect balance of guitar wizardry and catchiness to create a very engaging and heavy track. We are fans of the band’s usage of multiple layers of vocals and the opener nicely blends them with some harsher screams. As “All Heroes Fall” rolls in, we can instantly feel the band’s traditional proggy magic, mastefully paired with tight drumming patterns and blistering solos. For those looking for the Folkier side of the band, “Ragnars kvæði” has that “Hold the Heathen Hammer High” epic vibe, but on a more somber and dramatic tone.
Unleashing one of the early candidates for best album of 2019, today we have Downfall of Gaia and their crushing masterpiece “Ethic Of Radical Finitude”. Slowly perfecting their trade, this German outfit deliver six brilliant songs filled with unrivaled melancholy and sheer power. With over 40 minutes of majestic atmospheric sludginess, this release perfectly combines Post-Metal elements with Sludge, Crust and even some more traditional Post-Rock passages.
After the opening intro, “The Grotesque Illusion of Being” wastes no time in unleashing brutal vocal onslaughts perfectly framed by dreamy guitars and blistering drums. The band has perfected the ability to unleash both brutal and melancholic pummeling onslaughts. Moving into more crafty territories, “We Purse the Serpent of Time” starts of with ritualistic percussion as the riffs slowly build up to create a crushing wall of sound, the signature style from the band. The clean vocals here add extra depth and mystery to an already pretty impressive song.
After unleashing one of the most gargantuan releases of 2013 with “Pelagial”, The Ocean comes back at us with part one (out of two) of the “Phanerozoic” releases. Intended to be in the middle of their “Precambrian” and “Heliocentric” / “Anthropocentric” releases, both conceptually and musically, this album showcases the band crafting their signature enigmatic atmospheres surrounded by heavy crushing riffs and melancholic vocal melodies.
Slowly building up in the opener “The Cambrian Explosion”, we are treated to an atmospheric opening with playful synths that creates tension and expectation. Things blow wide open on “Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence” as we are greeted with powerful guitar riffs and intricate drumming. This lush track perfectly layers the aggressive wall of sound with a combination of harsh growls and fragile clean vocal arrangements. Full of surprises, the band’s music is very carefully crafted to feature playful elements that are slowly discovered the more times you listen to each track.
The most recognized Metal band in Poland makes their unholy return with one of the most devastating releases of 2018. With “I Loved You at Your Darkest”, Behemoth takes all the elements they have been refining over the years and unleashes 46 minutes of truly masterful music that blows away all the high expectations riding on this release. With a ravaging attitude and tons of technical grace, the 12 tracks presented in this album are brilliantly engineered to deliver a crushing blow to Christianity and its acolytes.
Opening with the ominous “Solve”, the band sets a sinister and very dark atmosphere that is further elevated by creepy choir arrangements and brutal riffs as it transitions into “Wolves ov Siberia”. With a firm grasp on relentless brutality, this track inflicts major pain thanks to the intense drumming and violent guitar work. Not letting go, “God = Dog” delivers a consecutive blow of massive drums and hellish vocals from Nergal. The contrast between the choir arrangements and the sickening melodic passages make for one hell of a song that is far from average.