Canada’s answer to Arkona comes with the name of Valfreya, and their debut full-length release titled “Path to Eternity” showcases the band’s talents. Fronted by Crook, the band’s charismatic female vocalist, Valfreya delivers a good 50 minutes of an intense mixture of Melodic Black Metal with Folk Metal elements, perfectly balanced to create epic moments similar to the ones created by bands like Wintersun, Equilibrium and Turisas.
With the intro track bleeding into “Deity's Grace”, the band quickly establishes a very regal sound with a crystal clear production. Gradually increasing its intensity, “Path to Eternity” is a very well-crafted album that showcases a promising band with a very rich sound. Alternating between angelic clean vocals and demonic harsh screams, Crook does an excellent job in carrying the band through the 10 tracks presented in this release.
Arriving all the way from Spain, today we have Inside the Fall’s debut EP titled “…As Life Withers”. Keeping the Death/Doom flame alive, Inside the Fall does an excellent job in crafting five emotional tracks that feature all the elements fans love about the genre. We are huge fans of Death/Doom and this release is one of the best we have received so far this year.
Opening with the highly energetic “Highest Walls of Despair”, Inside the Fall shows their skill in creating a good riffing structure with emphasis on melody, but keeping the Doom characteristics that we all know and love. The growls are very powerful and nicely thrown into the mix, there are a few vocal layering elements that add extra depth to the song. Mixing clean and harsh vocals the ‘doom passage’ in this track is very well mixed into the track.
In the current age of remakes and rehashes of anything from TV shows, Movies, and comics, it was about time to have a re-recording of some sort. Catamenia delivers 15 re-recordings of many of their hits, and having nine full-length releases under their belt makes it a daunting task to pick the songs that are worthy of the band’s newer Blackened Heavy/Melodic Metal sound.
With a few new band members as well, the band rips open this release with the powerful “Hollow Out – ChaosBorn” from their 2003 “Chaos Born” album. Immediately showing their strength, this song is very riff intensive and with a brutal combination of growls and shrieks, it just sounds amazing. The signature Catamenia sound is ever present, but the more clean and modern edge to their recent releases also seeps into the older songs in a very effective way. “Blackmension” from “Eternal Winter's Prophecy” follows and keeps the intensity of this release very high, the keyboards particularly shine in this great song.
With a very interesting combination of Melodic elements and furious Black Metal, today we have Italy’s Disguise and their latest release “Second Coming”. In this eight-tracks 42-minute effort features very powerful songs that are nicely contrasted by a few keyboards and even some Black’n’roll tracks that will surely please any fan of bands like Satyricon, Dark Funeral and Anorexia Nervosa.
With punishing riffs and a very brutal drum track, the album opens in full strength with “Fragile Certain Death”. The overall pace of this song is very typical of late Satyricon, but with an emphasis on being brutal. The atmospheric/melodic elements start being more noticeable on tracks like “I am Alone” and “The Origin of the Unknown”. In these two songs the band goes on full endurance mode with some furious speed-up sections that rival Dark Funeral’s stamina.
Delivering one of the most interesting sounding EP’s we have received in quite a while, today we have Antagonist Zero and their 3-song debut EP “Nighttime Harmony”. Self-labeled as “Catatonic Metal”, the band mixes Doom and Death/Black Metal element in a very effective manner. With an excellent production behind this EP, the three tracks sound like a million bucks, and also left us wanting more from this young and promising band.
Opening with a very slow-paced jazzy intro, “AZ” is the EP’s first track that shows excellent musical skills since the first few minutes. Once the growls kick in, we are immediately sold on the band’s rich and powerful sound. The guitar riffs are excellent and the drumming is pretty well crafted, the melodic nature of the music reminds us of Insomnium, Swallow the Sun, and similar Finish bands.
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.