Taking almost the same time as Tool to release a new album, today we have Finland’s Wintersun and their epic “The Forest Seasons” release. Aside from all the crowdfunding drama, Wintersun returns with a powerful album that maintains their legendary status and improves on their legacy with a more mature style. If you like Melodic Metal with Symphonic and Folk-ish elements, this is certainly one of the best releases of 2017 for you.
Opening with the 14-minute epic “Awaken from the Dark Slumber”, we get Wintersun at its best delivering a very atmospheric and high-octane piece. This track delivers over the top orchestrations perfectly arranged with a lively pace and a heap of different vocal styles. Reminding us of a mixture of Cradle of Filth with Ensiferum at times, this is a very exciting opener and it showcases the potential of the band’s evolved sound.
With a few central members of the band leaving, we were quite curious to see how Eluveitie would move forward. It is safe to say that with “Evocation II – Pantheon” the band continues its well-defined path with another brilliant release filled with memorable moments and catchy songs. Not losing a step, this release delivers over 50-minutes of intoxicatingly catchy Folk/Melodic Metal music that will appeal to any fan of the band and the genre.
As a continuation of their 2009 release, “Evocation I - The Arcane Dominion”, this album kicks off with “Dvressu” by showcasing the talents of new vocalist: Fabienne Erni. Replacing the talented Anna Murphy seemed like a nearly impossible, but the band has done a great job as we can hear in the very upbeat “Epona”. This track has the band’s signature style of delivering lush arrangements and catchy song foundations.
Getting tons of digital albums a month makes for a hard predicament of which ones to actually review. While some are easily eliminated by the fact that they are terrible, we are always left with a handful that really caught our attention. Self-released EP “As A Season Bloom” from Hitwood is one of those. Featuring 4 tracks of exploratory melodic Metal, this release has a certain vibe that will attract you to it and will keep you listening.
Opening with the Post-Rock-ish “A Spring Glare Where Green Shine the Brightest”, this one-man project sets a very lively and moody atmosphere. Soothing the listener into such a lush and carefully crafted atmosphere is definitely the best way to start a release. The mood then shifts to more of a folky power ballad with “Memories from a Gentle Summer Evening”, featuring relaxing clean/acoustic guitars and a killer last few minutes, this track nicely continues the moody nature of the EP.
After a killer debut EP with “Waves” Owler returned in 2016 to unleash “Soil”, a highly melancholic collection of five songs that showcase more maturity and creativity from these Finns. Clocking in at around 30 minutes, this release takes all the elements of their first release and further refines them and integrates them into the band’s own signature style. This music is still highly recommended for fans of bands like Insomnium to The Man Eating Three.
Opening with the soaring vocals of “Storm”, the release kicks off with a very theatrical piece that fully takes advantage of “Juha Simola’s melancholic clean vocals. Things turn a bit darker and doomier with the heavy atmospheric and crushing riffs of “Amend”. We really enjoy how the subtle atmospheric keyboards set the mood for the harsh vocals and slower tempo.
Hailing from Belgium, today we have the always improving Symphonic Black Metal outfit Saille and their fourth full-length release “Gnosis”. Returning with their highly melodic music, the band manages to craft 45 minutes divided in nine tracks that showcase their musical evolution in to a cleaner and leaner outfit since their conception. After releasing 3 albums in a span of 4 years, the band took more than two years to fully prepare and unleash this near perfect gem into the world.
Opening with the melodic riffing of “Benei ha'Elohim”, the band slowly introduces their clean cut musical style that remind us of bands like Apostasy, Old Man's Child, and Emperor. Things get catchier with the Dimmu Borgir-esque “Pandaemonium Gathers”, the perfect contrast between funky keyboards and pummeling drums/guitars make this song quite interesting and engaging. The killer solos and melancholic guitars in “Blôt” brilliantly complement Dennie Grondelaers mixture of growls and shrieks, making this track one of the most complete and diverse pieces in this release.
Hailing from France, today we have Metalcore/Modern Metal new comers Aanod and their blistering release “Yesterday Comes Tomorrow”. Perfectly blending traditional Metalcore elements with more Soilwork/In Flames inspired Melodic Modern Metal elements, the band manages to craft seven solid tracks that showcase their talents. As the lines between Metalcore and other genre’s continue to blur, we are more than impressed with bands like Aanod and their fresh musical ideas.
Opening with the crushing “Gambler”, the band sets a very solid standard with an opener filled with powerful riffs and pummeling vocals. There influences from everything from Melo-death to Death/Metalcore are quickly evident and very well incorporated together. Reminding us a bit of Dark Tranquility and Soilwork, “DNA” and “Resource” are some of the album’s most engaging and gratifying songs.
For fans of highly melancholic and atmospheric music, today we have Hanging Garden’s latest opus “Hereafter”. Perfectly continuing their musical journey into more Atmospheric Rock territories, this Finnish band has come a long way since their crushing Death/Doom Metal days. Featuring 21 minutes divided in five tracks, this release delivers highly melancholic music filled with great guest vocal appearances, perfect for any fans of the band or highly atmospheric music.
Opening with the heavy riffs of “Penumbra”, the band complements the clean vocals of Toni Toivonen with the crushing growls of guest singer Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun). This track is quite melodic and yet delivers some crushing riffs and heavy moments. Continuing with the heaviness, “Sirkle of Onan” keeps things heavy thanks to a firm pace and Victor Wegeborn’s Post-Metal styled vocals.
Coming out of a few very hard years with the death of founding member and drummer Tobias Graf and the departure of Sabine Scherer, the bands charismatic vocalist, Deadlock delivers their 7th full-length release titled “Hybris”. Featuring a more melancholic edge to their music than their previous two releases, this album brings us back to the catchiness of “Bizarro World” combined with the melodic side of “Wolves”.
Opening with the Groovy “Epitaph”, we are very quickly given the first glance of Margi Gerlitz’s vocals, which are actually somewhat similar to Sabine’s, but as the album progresses we notice they also have a wider range, allowing the band’s music to go to different places. This catchy opener is nicely framed with intricate drumming, direct riffs and subtle atmospheric elements. “Carbonman” and “Berserk” nicely step up the intensity level with two very engaging and heavy songs filled with cool guitar leads that ooze melody and provide a nice contrast when paired with Margi’s vocals.
Sometimes the best way to move forward is to hit the rest button, and this is exactly what Thomas Caser did with his band. Bringing back some of the band’s old members and a couple of new vocalists, Visions of Atlantis returns with a fresh lineup and a new lease on life. The EP “New Waters” features five classic songs from the band’s discography, re-recorded with the new members in order to test the waters.
Opening with the amazing epic “Lovebearing Storm” from the band’s debut 2002 release “Eternal Endless Infinity”, we instantly get a glimpse of the killer chemistry between new vocalists Siegfried Samer and Clémentine Delauney. The song also sounds revitalized more dramatic keyboards and a clear mix.
Hailing from Sweden today we have Hyperion’s brilliant debut full-length release “Seraphical Euphony”. Feeling like it was trapped on a time capsule for over 10 years, this highly melodic and catchy release features a melodic Death/Black Metal sound from the 90’s. Perfectly packaged with all the technological advances of our current time, this album is one very unique sounding release in a sea of clones and bands trying too hard to sound ‘vintage’.
After the acoustic building up “Remnants of the Fallen”, “Novus Ordo Seclorum” is a brilliant guitar-led piece that instantly reminded us of Dissection and their legendary “Storm of the Light's Bane”. With a timeless guitar sound, tracks like “Flacellum Dei”, “Seraphical Euphony” and the dramatic “Moral Evasion” really hit that old-school spot, but at the same time combine more atmospheric elements of period bands like Dismal Euphony. We particularly enjoy how this last track evolves after an atmospheric opening and leads into balls to the wall headbanging passages.