Showcasing a very different side of their music, today we have Germany’s Décembre Noir with their latest EP “Pale Serenades”. Featuring a re-interpreted version of an individual track of each of the band’s previous releases: "The Renaissance Of Hope", "Autumn Kings", "Forsaken Earth" and "A Discouraged Believer", the listener is treated to a more naked and direct approach from the band, creating a very unique and powerful experience.
The release opens with “A Swan Lake Full of Tears”, a very solemn and melancholic track which also features Nick Moss on guest vocals, adding that extra punch to make the song even more special. Next up, we have the fragile “Barricades” with lush and dramatic piano arrangements alongside Aaron Stainthorpe’s mournful guest vocals. This is certainly our favorite track of the release.
Unleashing one blistering barrage of punishing Melodic Black Metal riffs, today we have Wyrms and their fourth full-length release “Sarkhral Lumænor - La lueur contre les fléaux”. Other than having one of the longest album titles in 2022, this album perfectly blends unparalleled intensity with sinister BM foundations, creating a very Windir/Vreid meest Atmospheric/Suicidal BM atmosphere.
Immediately setting a hellish pace, “La messe de l épée” slowly transitions from dreamy atmospherics into all-out Black Metal onslaughts filled with intense guitar work and ravaging drumming. This level of intensity is perfectly on display on pieces like “Fort blanc et bêtes noires” and “Entre gueux et rats”, where the melodic aspect of the band's sound nicely creates a very effective and direct mixture that will have listeners furiously headbanging.
The highly productive Tuomas Saukkonen is back with one more new release in 2022, now with his main band Wolfheart and “King of the North”. Featuring around 50 minutes of engaging and highly addictive music, this release continues his Melodic Metal explorations with plenty of melancholy and a few surprises here and there. Always keeping things interesting and very high quality, this release will surely please all of his fans.
Setting a very regal mood with “Skyforger”, the keyboards give way to signature melodic riffs and very well crafted headbanging-inducing tempo changes. Shaking things up a bit, “Ancestor” is a faster track with guest vocals from Jesse Leach of KSE fame, giving the song a different edge (no, not metalcore), thanks to the clean vocal arrangements and melodic passages. While “Knell” has more of a Gothic vibe due to its imposing atmospheric keyboards and slower paced sections.
It has been a while since we got an album that we have to drop everything we are doing in order to pay full attention. Luckily for us, An Abstract Illusion’s sophomore release “Woe” is one of those rare gems. Unleashing nearly one hour of highly melancholic Atmospheric/Melodic Death/Progressive Metal, this band will turn heads with their excellent songwriting skills and brilliant delivery. Just think of Cynic meets Bel’akor meets Countless Skies, as this release is both explosive and bombastic.
Opening with the crafty “The Behemoth That Lies Asleep”, the band sets a magical and dreamy mood with dramatic guitar leads and ethereal atmospherics. Reminding us a bit of Andora’s Persefone, “Slaves” perfectly balances agression with lush instrumental passages and crafty arrangements. Clocking in at 11 minutes, “Tear Down This Holy Mountain” is one blistering piece that expertly builds momentum with dramatic tempo changes, including some magical jazzy passages.
The always evolving Björn Strid and Soilwork are finally back, with yet another boundary smashing release. Far from the band’s original Melodic Death Metal style, it seems like this band style is heading in a collision course with Björn’s other band The Night Flight Orchestra sans the 80’s glam. Most of the tracks are both soothing and catchy, with a rock’n’roll vibe, leaving aside from time to time, some of their heavier elements from before.
Starting with some funky folky atmospherics of the album title track, it quickly brings back some familiar onslaughts as there are plenty of heavy riffs and harsh screams, blended in with soaring melodic passages. This initial impression is quickly changed with “Nous Sommes La Guerre”, a piece more in the Night Flight Orchestra vibe, with pop-ish edges and engaging vocal melodies. The band’s duality to more melodic and ‘accessible’ pieces, and the heavier melodic DM influences is a bit confusing and chaotic as they transition through pieces like “Electric Again” and “Valleys of Gloam”.
Unleashing a blistering piece of majestic Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal, today we have newcomers Pestilent Hex. Polished in over five years, this album captures the magic of keyboard driven BM of the 90’s, with similarities to Emperor, Tartaros, Limbonic Art, however, the band manages to sound like something completely different. Be prepared for a dramatic and highly engaging 40-minute experience.
The release opens with the album titled chapter I, which sets a very hectic opening with blistering drumming, furious riffing, and powerful harsh vocals. This track nicely morphs into a very dramatic and intense atmospheric affair with piercing synths and lush piano arrangements. Both “Nature of the Spirit” and “Mephistophelean Liaison” perfectly build up on such a killer opener with tons of dynamic arrangements, dramatic tempo changes, and heaps of emotion and melody, making up for a very powerful first part of this release.
Unleashing one of the most majestic and expertly crafted mixtures of Atmospheric/Folk and Melodic Black Metal, today we have Saor and their latest release “Origins”. As the brainchild of Andy Marshall, this outfit has continually gotten better over the years and with this release they reach the pinnacle (for now) of their craftsmanship and songwriting abilities. Featuring six tracks and nearly 42 minutes of music, this is definitely one of the top releases of 2022.
Opening with the regal “Call of the Carnyx”, we get the band’s signature melodic riffing alongside crafty atmospheric and very ethereal clean vocals. As the track progresses more Folk elements are baked into the mix, perfectly leading to the lively “Fallen” and its graceful guitar leads intertwined with harsh screams and killer tempo changes. Never leaving the Folky and mystical nature of the band’s sound behind, “The Ancient Ones” is a magical piece where all these elements perfectly work together to create a very intense mood.
Hailing from Finland, today we have Amongst The Ashes, a very interesting band that fuses Middle Eastern elements with a solid Melodic Death/Thrash Metal foundation. With a bit of an Orphaned Land/The Ottoman Empire vibe, “The Fabricated Monolith” provides the listener with a small sample of the band’s songwriting chops and solid execution.
Releasing their third album in three years, Finnish mysterious duo Aethyrick show no limits to their creativity and melancholic sound with “Pilgrimage”. Featuring 42 minutes of bleak and desolate Melodic Black Metal, the band’s sound continues to get refined and streamlined perfectly delivering highly emotional pieces with a compact core sound.
The aural journey begins with the incisive “The Turning Away” and its piercing subtle atmospherics, perfectly paired with intricate guitar work. Those minimalist keyboards work wonders when used to accent a well written track. As the band settles into this release, “In the Chapel of One Spirit”, “Threefold Resurrection”, and “Winds of the Wanderer” brilliantly shift the mood from blistering to more introspective and melodramatic as in the latter track.
Back in the day, Agathodaimon was one of those bands that pushed Black Metal into Symphonic/Gothic territories with some brilliant releases like “Blacken the Angel” and “Higher Art of Rebellion”. Unfortunately the band split up in 2014, leaving behind great promise and a very solid and unique sound. Fast forward to 2022, Sathonys is back with Chris Bonner on vocals and a set of new members with “The Seven”.
Featuring ten tracks and around 45 minutes of music, this release feels a bit exploratory, unleashing some killer tracks alongside some odd elements that take a few listens to fully digest. As “La Haine” rolls in with piercing riffs, hellish harsh screams and a fast pace, time is erased and Agathodaimon is certainly back. There are some superb sinister melodic passages that change the mood of the track and are nicely adorned by lush synths, alongside some not-so-great clean vocals. This approach is mimicked in “Ain't Death Grand” and “Ghosts of Greed”, both fairly solid tracks but with odd and contrasting clean vocal arrangements.