Hailing from the USA, today we have Vintersea and their very unique and interesting sophomore release “Illuminated”. Featuring tons of cool influences ranging from bands like Borknagar, Cronian to the likes of Into Eternity and more proggy outfits, this album contains nearly 40 minutes of exciting music. If you are a fan of melodic and progressive music with a very experimental edge and don’t mind growls or clean female vocals, this is certainly something to check out.
The album deceivingly starts quite intense with “Spawn Awakening”, but this does not last too long as the track transitions into proggy and dreamy territories quite quick. With the opening track finishing quite intensely, the band nicely transitions to the mellower “Old Ones”, which is led by the fantastic clean vocals of Avienne Low. With Avienne also handling the harsh vocals, the transitions are quite seamless and interesting, allowing the songs to shift moods very quickly and dramatically, as on the excellent melancholic track “Illuminated”.
Unleashing one hell of a lush and bombastic Melodic Black Metal release, today we have Sweden’s Netherbird and their fifth full-length release “Into the Vast Uncharted”. With a very dynamic sound that incorporates influences from bands like Dissection, Siebenbürgen , (early) Illnath, and (early) Naglfar, this release will satisfy that urge for old-school Melodic Black Metal.
Wasting no time, “Saturnine Ancestry” opens with a high octane onslaught of killer riffs, intense drumming and lush guitar leads to fully set the mood for this brilliant release. After their amazing 2016 release, “The Grander Voyage”, the band continues to crush the competition with dramatic compositions like “Harvest the Stars” and the mellow “Mercury Skies”. Showcasing their unparalleled ability to slowly build up to head banging orgies, “Lunar Pendulum” is one of those tracks that you can listen to it 20 times and still find joy in its intricacies.
German Melodic Metal outfit Equilibrium is poised to take fans by surprise with their latest release “Renegades”. Featuring a very lively and catchy sound, this album delivers over 40 minutes of highly melodic music that is very far from their Epic Folk Metal days, but still commands attention and glory. With more electronic and even Industrial elements thrown into the mix, this album is superb on its own, but it might turn off the band’s earlier fans.
Opening with “Renegades - A Lost Generation”, we get a Wintersun-esque oriental-influenced opening that transforms into a full on headbanging jam. The band’s style is as catchy as always, but quite different. The dramatic keyboards and catchy riffs are quite engaging and powerful. Mixing in some clean vocals and epic chorus sections, “Tornado” continues with a high-octane vibe and very polished melodic arrangements. With “Himmel Und Feuer” the band keeps up the lively atmosphere with yet another hyper catchy tune that will be stuck in your head for days to come. Just think of a mixture of Laibach, Wintersun and hints of VNV Nation mixed together.
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.
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.