As one of the most recent entries in the oversaturated female-fronted Metal market, today we have Finland’s Shear and their debut full-length release “Breaking the Stillness”. Featuring members and ex-members of bands like Imperanon, Amoral, and Omnium Gatherum among others, this band has enough Melodic Metal pedigree to impress anybody (at least on papers).
The band’s front woman, Alexa Leroux, is of course very attractive and her voice is indeed different to what everybody is used to. Her vocal approach is more in the Hard Rock / Power Metal area, and never goes into the very tired female growls or soprano style. When paired with excellent Melodic Metal, this is actually a great strength for Shear since they manage to sound powerful and somewhat different than all the other female-fronted bands these days.
Usually when we get promos with two songs clocking over 30 minutes they are pretty bad. However, Deschain totally proved us wrong with their self-released Melodic Black Metal assault titled “Sea of Trees Forest of Gallows”. With minimal ‘cascadian hipster Black Metal’ influences in their sound, we are completely puzzled as how they have managed to fly under the radar with such a rich and diverse European BM sound.
Hailing from Indiana, this very young band (formed in 2008), has already two self-produced releases under their belts and with this one they are looking to storming the scene by surprise. It is rare that a band can pull off 15+ minute songs that never get dull or repetitive, but Deschain seems to not have any problems doing this. In a time when most ‘average’ Black Metal bands shy away from songs over 6 minutes, it is very cool to hear that some folks can belt out these mammoth pieces and totally rock while doing so.
Hailing from Canada, today we have Empyrean Plague and their very well crafted Melodic Death/Black Metal that will surely grab your attention immediately. “Imprint Evidence Destiny” delivers seven aural assaults that very creatively combine Melodic Death/Black Metal with Folk and Viking Metal elements; this creates a very rich palette of sounds that even after a considerable amount of listens you will not be able to fully discover this release.
With oozing melody, the band opens the album with the 7 minute epic “Deciphering The Norse Code”. The guitar work is excellent and has that semi-rough feeling that only young bands usually have. The vocals are powerful but never overly done giving that nice contrast to the music. The bass guitar is very present and nicely balanced in the mix as well. “Imprint Evidence Destiny” continues in a similar fashion with super catchy melodic sections and very effective ‘speed ups’. The drumming is also very good and both songs (and the rest) have a wide variety of different patterns.
Fronted by Angra’s Edu Falaschi, Almah shows a more versatile side to this excellent singer and with “Motion” the band delivers 10 tracks of very well crafted Melodic Metal. The band’s sound ranges from more commercial bands like White Zombie and Fear Factory to Power Metal greats like Stratovarius and even some Angra hints. Being the band’s third full-length release, “Motion” is very entertaining and guarantees a high-replay value due to its catchiness.
With a nice chugging pace, “Hypnotized” opens with album and delivers very catchy chorus sections and some vocals that sound quite a lot like Burton from FF in said chorus sections. The Power Metal-esque guitar work is more evident in tracks like “Living and Drifting” and “Days of the New” where we are treated some excellent guitar leads and solos. The keyboards also help the music be more accessible and entertaining.
While the whole Greece is on total economic meltdown, it is good to see that their Metal production is still intact and there are young and promising bands like Black Blade. In this 3-song demo, the band shows that they have enough creativity to really catch our attention with less than 15 minutes of music. Featuring a healthy combination of Death Metal influences with more traditional sounds, the band achieves maximum catchiness very effectively in these songs.
Opening with “Warfield”, the band delivers a powerful bass guitar line surrounded by melodic guitar riffs and a ‘discrete’ Death Metal snarl, like the bands in the past used to do (first Sepultura albums, etc). I this short track, the band quickly establish their ability to create simple yet catchy melody and mix elements from different genres, like the Southern/ Heavy Metal section mid-way through the song.
Finally returning after 5 years since the band’s last full-length release “Second Skin of Harlequin”, today we have Denmark’s Illnath and their characteristic Melodic Black Metal. With several lineup changes, “Third Act in the Theatre of Madness” showcases the band’s new female growler Mona Beck and session drummer Reno Killerich. Now signed to Pitch Black Records, the band shows that they are back stronger than ever and with the ten tracks presented in this release, they mean serious business.
“Third Act” opens the album in a very traditional manner, with some keyboards, a pounding bass guitar line and tight drumming. The first surprise comes when Mona starts singing since she does not sound like your typical female growler. As a regular reader of Infernal Masquerade you might be aware that we are tired of this gimmick, but for Illnath, the female growler works perfectly. Just like a more aggressive version Angela Gossow, Mona brings a new level of brutality to the band’s sound.
Continuing on the right path after their very impressive release “Diabolical Figures”, today we have Graveworm and their latest opus “Fragments of Death”. Most of the Gothic Metal pleasantries away, “Fragments of Death” delivers 11 punishing tracks of very well balanced Death/Black Metal with a high melodic content, but always aggressive enough to make your speakers explode.
Opening with the high intensity “Insomnia”, the band shows fierce Death Metal influences with a nice Melodic edge in terms of riffing and some atmospheric keyboards. Stefan’s vocals are as good as always and his mixture between growls and shrieks is just excellent. The melodic/brutal assault continues with the ‘slower’ “Only Death in our Wake”, but quickly picks up with some excellent chorus section on “Absence of Faith”. In this track, the melody makes a huge different in making a repetitive song very catchy and powerful. Some sections in this track even feel a bit like their sound back on “As the Angels Reach the Beauty” but will less flair.
All the way from Switzerland today we have a band called Eskeype (is this pronounced Skype?), and their very catchy mixture of Groove Metal and Thrash Metal with some hints of a few other genres mixed in-between. For 13 tracks the band gives us a very in your face approach with hectic drumming, catchy and powerful riffing and aggressive vocals that will exhaust even the most active mosher from our readers.
Immediately after a very dynamic prologue, the band delivers waves of powerful riffs and aggressive vocals with the first two tracks “The Chronicle’s Origin Part One” and part two. In these two tracks the band quickly demonstrates their ability to craft very catchy guitar sections and pair them with crushing vocals. The melodic passages are excellent and the use of violins (a la Dark Lunacy) is just excellent, giving them a nice Melodic edge to their music.
Two years have passed after releasing the excellent “Vigilance” and one of Canada’s finest returns with their new release “Threat Signal”. We are extremely divided when it comes to this release since the music is excellent, but some of the vocals are just WTF. So we kind of liked the album in the sense that Threat Signal has very nicely matured musically and all songs are just excellent, but when the Linkin Park style singing kicks in we just want to jump of the balcony.
Opening very powerfully with “Uncensored”, the band delivers well crafted guitar riffs and tight drums, courtesy of two of the band’s newest members: Chris Feener and Alex Rudinger respectively. However, the band things really start showing when the clean ‘modern Metal/nu Metal’ clean vocals make their appearance. There are of course harsh screams to kind of balance things out but it is not enough to eliminate the bad taste. We can also listen to an edge of Gojira and Fear Factory in the sound of this release, and when paired with excellent solos, the music alone is truly entertaining and very good.
After the ‘departure’ from Dimmu Borgir, acclaimed singer ICS Vortex decided to not go down easily and has finally delivered a very solid ‘solo’ release that capitalizes on his biggest asset: his vocals. However, the music is also top notch since it mixes a wide variety of styles that might catch some people off guard, but with high promise and top notch quality.
Playing all instruments in the album except the drums (courtesy of none other than Asgeir Mickelson), this release is packed with soaring vocals and epic melodic sections. Capturing some of the elements of Borknagar and adding some more psychedelic and progressive brushes, “Storm Seeker” is one of the most diverse albums of 2011.