Bringing back memories of the simpler days of Melodic Black Metal, when bands like Limbonic Art, Emperor, ...and Oceans added keyboards and orchestrations to the genre, today we have Vargrav and its sophomore release “Reign in Supreme Darkness”. Delivering over 40 minutes of lush arrangements, solid BM core elements and crafty songwriting, this one man unit unleashes a timeless sounding release that should not be overlooked.
After the traditional intro, Vargrav goes full steam with the lush “The Glory of Eternal Night”, a brilliant old-school sounding track that reminds us of Emperor’s classic “I am the Black Wizards”. The pacing and intricate tempo changes make this song quite enjoyable and a very strong opener. As “Dark Space Dominion” and “In Streams from Great Mysteries” roll in, we find ourselves impulsively headbanging thanks to their ravaging and yet playful nature. Both tracks are filled with majestic atmospheric arrangements, perfectly offset by catchy riffs.
The ever changing and always improving Rotting Christ return this 2019 with yet another brilliant release. Further developing the Melodic BM sound with dramatic vocal arrangements and subtle atmospheric elements, “The Heretics” delivers over 45 minutes of expertly crafted music that is both engaging and brilliant for a long head banging session. If you have been following the band’s music progression, this release takes their sound and makes it even more grandiose and expansive.
Fully immersing the listener into the band’s dark world, “In the Name of God” starts the album with the signature Rotting Christ melodic riffing. The band crafts a very eerie atmosphere in this track (and release) thanks to the choral arrangements that brilliantly contrast Sakis Tolis harsh vocals. The addition of female vocals on “Vetry Zlye” creates a very unique vibe that is well complemented with dramatic arrangements and tight drumming.
A blast from the past made it to our review queue today with Hecate Enthroned and their first album in six years “Embrace of the Godless Aeon”. We remember back in the late 90’s when bands were trying to sound like Cradle of Filth and while many tried, Hecate Enthroned was one of the few that got close. While the band got unfairly treated as a clone, we always enjoyed their spin on Symphonic/Gothic Black Metal back in those days. With a new vocalist and their signature style, the band makes a very strong comeback in 2019.
Blasting away after their atmospheric intro, “Revelations in Autumn Flame” takes us back in time with the over the top synths that nicely contrast the shrieks and blast beats. The mixture of growls and shrieks is definitely something that attracted us to the band back in the day and on tracks like “Temples that Breathe” brings back some nice memories. However, the best thing about the band is how they create sinister atmospheres thanks to the sultry voice of Sarah Jezebel Deva in “Goddess of Dark Misfits”, our favorite song in the release.
As the first review of 2019, we are quite glad that it is Soilwork’s latest opus “Verkligheten”. Featuring a more melodic and catchy edge, this release continues the band’s musical progression into more engaging and innovative territories. Picking up where they left us with “The Ride Majestic”, the band delivers heaps of superbly catchy chorus sections, expertly crafted vocal melodies and lush instrumental arrangements that will have you hitting the repeat button more than a few hundred times on this release.
Immediately after setting the mood with the mysterious album title track, the band hits the gas with a furious combination of blistering drumming and a harsh vocals. This opener is definitely quite heavy and very fitting as the song transforms back and forth between harsh and brutal to more melodic thanks to Björn Strid soaring clean vocals. After catching the listener by surprise with the intensity of the previous song, the band keeps things hectic with the hard rocking riffing of “Bleeder Despoiler”. This track provides an interesting combination of some Heavy Metal-esque influences mixed together with the band’s brand of Melodic Extreme Metal they have refined over the years.
Any self-respecting Doom/Death Metal fan is definitely aware of the legacy left behind by Forest of Shadows with their releases in the 2000’s. Coming 100% as a surprise to us, Inverse records is now releasing the band’s latest opus: “Among the Dormant Watchers”. Niclas Frohagen is the man behind this one-man band that makes a come back with its signature sound of slow and melancholic songs that will hurt your soul and demoralize you from start to end.
Picking up exactly where the band left off, “Self Inflicted Torment” unleashed the signature style of lush keyboards, moody bass guitar line and crushing growls. This track brings back memories of the band’s earlier works and the cloudy rainy days we listened to those albums for hours. The mood gets bleaker with the beautiful opening to “Drowned by Guilt”, which slowly descends into misery and devastation. While bands like Clouds, Shape of Despair and Skepticism take misery and despair in music to new levels, there is something about the rawness of Forest of Shadows that keeps drawing us to their music.
Like a bag of bricks to the face, today we have Switzerland's Promethee unleashing their latest opus “Convalescence”. Featuring nine tracks and over 35 minutes of music, this release is both very direct and yet crafty enough to showcase some cool Melodic/Progressive passages that sets them apart from the rest. Aggressive and yet well refined releases are hard to come by, and with this one, the band continues their musical journey with a more refined and very in-your-face style.
The heavy riffing of the album-titled opener allows the mood to instantly escalate to very hectic and punishing. However, the craftiness of the song structure makes it quite intriguing and melodic at times, in the same vein as the follow up track “While you Stood Still”. One of our favorite tracks is the funky “Endless”, which features a light mood crafted by trippy drumming and playful guitar melodies. It is quite pleasing to hear how the band’s Hardcore/Post-Metal influences brilliantly align with the unique song structures.
While Metal elitists are too busy hating on the band’s unique style, Amaranthe has constantly gained more and more worldwide notoriety. With “Helix” the band continues to push the boundaries of Metal with an even more bombastic release filled with their signature catchy electronic elements fused in with heavy guitars and harsh vocals. Led by the charismatic Elize Ryd, the band unleashes twelve superbly catchy songs that are the band’s best and most integrated material to date.
Instantly cranking it up to 11, the band opens with the brilliant “The Score”, a track that sets a high-octane intensity filled with catchy chorus sections and playful electronic elements. The band’s Pop-ish magic is perfectly fuses into “365”, where Elize delivers brilliant vocal melodies that are contrasted by the diverse male vocals and subtle atmospheric elements. Continuing the band’s uplifting mood, “Inferno” and “Control” deliver unrivaled catchiness and a very heavy edge to things.
Unleashing the most impressive release (so far) of 2018, today we have the legendary Amorphis and their latest full-length album “Queen of Time”. Featuring the quintessential Amorphis energy and creativity, the band takes things even one step further with more grandiose arrangements and catchier melodies. Nearly clocking in at one hour, the band defies age and continues to release high quality and high replay value releases.
Opening with the first single, “The Bee”, the music instantly features the band’s signature style with over the top arrangements and the impressive growls of Tomi Joutsen. Setting a very lively mood on the opening song, allows for a swift transition into the upbeat and engaging “Message in the Amber”. Featuring Jørgen Munkeby on sax and dramatic choir arrangements in “Daughter of Hate”, this track shifts the mood into more somber and yet dynamic territories, making it one of our favorite songs from the band.
Creating a very unique and engaging musical experience, today we have newcomers Follow the Cipher and their self-titled debut release. Thanks to their impressive and enveloping sound, the band kicks off their career in the spotlight signed to Nuclear Blast records and with incredible charisma and skill. If you are looking for a cinematic musical experience that blends elements from bands like Kamelot, Sabaton and Amaranthe, this is definitely a band you want to check out.
Opening with the intense “Enter the Cipher”, we are treated to a Nightwish-esque pace filled with catchy riffs and over the top keyboards. The atmosphere is quite well crafted and led by the beautiful Linda Toni Grahn, the band makes a quick first impression filled with catchy music and lush vocal leads (both male and female). Using some electronic elements in their music, the band crafts superbly engaging track like “Valkyria” a song that ups the ante and keeps things intense as “My Soldier” and “Winterfall” roll in.
Eight years have passed since Dimmu Borgir’s last release and tons of speculation an expectations have been building up to the unleashing of “Eonian”. Without wasting any more time, this release is truly outstanding as it builds on the band’s legacy of uncompromising creativity and musical exploration. In “Eonian” the band features a very raw and evil Black Metal core, reminiscent of the band’s older releases with retaining the grandiose orchestral and symphonic edge the band has been maturing since “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”.
The band makes a bold opening statement with the lush “The Unveiling”, a song filled with incisive Black Metal riffs and dramatic choir arrangements. This song brings us back to where “Abrahadabra” left off, bringing back the lush and complex sound that made that release amazing. The album’s first single “Interdimensional Summit”, unleashes unparalleled catchiness in its chorus section, while delivering killer drum patterns and playful tempo changes. As “ÆTheric” and “Council of Wolves and Snakes” roll by, we are totally intoxicated by the band’s powerful atmosphere and brilliant execution. The creepy wolves sound paired with the throat singing of this later track make up for one hellish experience.