Always known for pushing the boundaries of Metal with their quite unique musical vision and extremely unexpected releases, Atrocity this time delivers a very direct and quite ‘traditional’ release that might puzzle some people. Getting slammed by the press for releases like “Werk 80” and “Calling The Rain”, the band sticks to a more traditional approach on “Okkult”. For 12 tracks, this German outfit delivers enjoyable tracks that will surely get the attention of older Atrocity fans and fans of Melodic/Symphonic Death Metal from the early 2000’s.
Opening with the Therion/Cradle of Filth-esque “Pandaemonium”, the band seems to be on track for a very direct and powerful release. The choir arrangements are quite chilling and they are greatly countered by Alexander Krull’s powerful growls. “Death By Metal” takes us back to the earlier days of Death Metal with crushing riffs and crazy solos, a great contrast from the first and following tracks, but solid nonetheless. The symphonic arrangements come back on songs like “March Of The Undying” and “Murder Blood Assassination”, both very catchy and effective tracks.
Having set the bar ridiculously high with “The Beginning of Times”, Amorphis returns with yet another very impressive release that keeps setting new standards for the band. “Circle” features the band going a bit darker with some heavier songs, but with the every present melodic Amorphis signature style with soaring vocals and lush keyboards. Delivering nine tracks of pure brilliance the band reminds us why they are the kings of Finish Metal, in our opinion.
Unleashing their power immediately with “Shades of Gray”, Tomi J’s growls are as brutal as ever and make a great impact in the opening track. The classic Amorphis transitions from harsh sections to melodic passages are excellent as always thanks to the very efficient riffing. In a darker tone, “Mission” has a very energetic vibe thanks to the vocal arrangements and playful guitar work. One of the first singles of this release is the superbly catchy “The Wanderer”, a song where Tomi J’s vocals drive the track’s melodic elements.
After a seven year absence, today we have Luna Ad Noctum and their crushing Melodic Black Metal release “Hypnotic Inferno”. Mixing influences from bands like Agathodaimon and Mactätus, their sound is perfect for nostalgic fans of Melodic Black Metal that don’t like a plethora of keyboards and synths on their releases. For nine tracks and over 39 minutes of music, the band does a solid job in bringing back the early 2000’s in terms of aurally pleasing Black Metal.
Opening with the killer “In Hypnosis” we get some of those quintessential riffs of the early 2000’s left and right. The band’s sound is quite direct and powerful, but it does feel a bit dated, maybe around the band’s last release in 2006 “The Perfect Evil in Mortal”, and now they just sound a bit date. Regardless of this, the album’s songs are killer indeed, and deliver waves of crushing riffs surrounded by tight drumming. This is perfectly evident on the following three tracks: “Fear Technique”, “You Are What You Are”, and “Abnormal Pain”.
Featuring almost 80 minutes of beautifully crafted Progressive/Melodic Rock, today we have Germany’s Blacklands and their latest release “A New Dawn”. In this very competitive and highly repetitive music scene, it is quite refreshing to hear such a heartfelt and powerful release. With “A New Dawn”, the band takes traditional Melodic Rock with Progressive elements and ads lush female vocals for a great dramatic and highly pleasing effect, something that will surely appeal to fans from Gothic Metal all the way to Progressive Rock aficionados.
Opening the release with the melancholic “Cold Embrace”, we get first glance of the excellent keyboards of Manfred Reinecke together the vivid and sultry voice of Moja Nardelli. This song also shows the clear Progressive elements in the band’s music perfectly mixed with their more melodic and at times Symphonic/Gothic Metal influences. With a folky edge, “Dance of The Witches” nicely changes up the pace and showcases the band’s versatility.
We have been very troubled by writing a review for this release since it is one very complex and intricate album that is hard to swallow in a few (dozen) spins. Building up on their already very intoxicating sound, the band brings together Groove/Technical Metal elements into some Sludge and even Heavy Metal/Hard Rock influences all coming together in some kick as Metal-with-attitude as we would describe it.
The album starts in a confusing manner with tracks like “The Chthonic Cathedral” and “DarknessDevilDeath”, both filled with killer riffs and soaring vocals, but seem very overwhelming for opening tracks. While band’s sound is very present in said tracks, we think that maybe something more approachable and mellow as “Age Ov Darkness” (and its sick melodic riffs) would have better served as a lead-up into the band’s groovy music. However, once the first two song hump is behind you, all the rest of the release is just sweet aggressive and melodic brilliance.
In the short-but-sweet category, today we have a very talented entry from the Northern lands of Finland: Neferion and their 2012 demo “The Primordial Mode”. In this four-track release, the band showcases and new and fresh style that allows them to deliver powerful tracks filled with harsh and clean female vocals delivered by the band’s vocalist Maija Saari. Combining a good dose of melody and Thrash Metal this brief release gives you a powerful insight into the band’s musical capabilities.
Opening with the powerful “Nightingale” the band delivers waves of melo-Thrash riffs that immediately grab your attention. The growls are as powerful as any male-growls and the transitions to clean vocals are very well done. The sense of melody of the track is quite engaging and gives the band that clean-cut Finish-style of Melodic Metal presence. “Daunting” keeps the energy flowing and has more of a Modern Metal vibe to it with the chorus part making the band comparable to acts like Kittie and such, but with a more aggressive edge.
As an interesting hybrid of Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Before The Dawn, and Amorphis, today we have Finland’s Star Insight and their two-song single “My Time is Out”. With a heavy emphasis on atmospheric elements, Star Insight gives us a very promising look into their upcoming debut full-length release.
Opening with “My Time is Out”, the band has a very similar sound to Before the Dawn on their “Soundscape of Silence” era thanks to the type of growls and the riffing used. Throwing some atmospheric elements into the mix, and now we have them sounding a bit like Eternal Tears of Sorrow. Don’t get us wrong, Star Insight has their own sound, but their influences are heavily marked in this song. As a song, “My Time is Out” is actually quite entertaining and diverse, showing their bombastic music and knack for multiple singing styles.
Continuing with their surprising evolution into a more Gothic Rock-inspired sound, today we have Hanging Garden and their latest release “At Every Door”. On their debut release “Inherit the Eden” the band jumped into the scene with a very melodic Death/Doom Metal and was praised by fans all around. With their second effort “TEOTWAWKI” the band started to mix more Gothic and different elements to make their music more accessible to a broader audience, something that they gracefully continue to do with this release.
Opening with the trippy “Ten Thousand Cranes”, the band delivers electronic elements with clean vocals making them sound like current Paradise Lost and Tiamat. Not all is lost since their original sound is present underneath everything with powerful riffs and excellent growls. Thankfully the new vocalist can do the growls as deep and powerful as their original one. “Ash and Dust” starts a bit more powerful than the first track, and the atmospheric details added by the keyboards work very well with the song.
With a very melancholic sound, today we have Finland’s 2 Wolves and their sophomore release “Men of Honour”. In this nine-track album, the band greatly reminds us of a mixtures between Eternal Tears of Sorrow, On Thorns I Lay, and Poema Arcanus. 2 Wolves sound is very unique in the sense that they use lush keyboards, heavy riffing, and a mixture of growls and clean vocals to perfection in this very exciting release.
The opener “Bygones” has the signatures Eternal Tears of Sorrow mixture of growls, powerful riffs and very proficient keyboards mixed with a super catchy clean chorus section. This track greatly sets the mood for an excellent release, and the atmosphere of “Unreal Conversations” immediately enhances it. The lush melodic sections contrasted by the crushing riffs and harsh vocals work wonders in this very engaging track.
Dropping on November 23rd we have Kuolemanlaakso’s debut full-length “Uljas uusi maailma” on Svart Rcords. This Finish band with members of Swallow The Sun (on vocals), Chaosweaver (on guitar), delivers a very interesting mix of Doom Metal elements with dark and dirty atmospheres that sound very imposing. Written and delivered all in Finish, this eight tracks are very well shrouded in a gloomy atmosphere, unlike anything the band members have ever done before.
Opening with the moody “Minä elän”, the band set the stage for a solid riffing onslaught that is quite heavy and engaging. Mikko Kotamäki’s vocals are his typical growl/shrieks from STS with some heavier sections like on Algazanth, nothing new here, but it does bring a certain level of familiarity to the music for fans of his bands. The sick atmospheric keyboards that the cake in this song since they are used very sporadically and to great effect. “Kuun Lapset” follows a similar pattern but with more keyboards and a very dominating bass guitar line.