Hailing from the Netherlands, GOLD is a band that has been on our radar for quite a while since we saw them at Roadburn festival in 2013. Playing a interesting mixture of Dark Rock with Post-Metal/Punk/etc. elements, this band has a very unique and crafty sound that instantly makes them recognizable. With the current wave of bands playing Psychedelic Rock and all variants, GOLD is one that stands above the rest thanks to their crafty music and interesting amalgamation of styles.
As soon as “He is Not” opens, we get a certain mysterious vibe and then the sultry vocals of Milena Eva take over the driver’s seat. As one of the signature elements of the band, Milena’s vocals are the perfect mixture of enigmatic and intoxicating. After the opening track ends with a Post-Rock-ish passage, the band changes pace to a more mellow lounge-ish tempo in “Things I Wish I Never Knew”. The guitar work is quite excellent and there are definitely more than a few layers to digest.
Unleashing a very unique an dreamy EP, today we have UK’s Parting Gift with “Ensom”. Featuring five tracks and around 18 minutes of music, this release blends Post-Rock/Shoegazey elements with moody vocal arrangements and lush atmospheric elements. If you are into Post-Rock, Dream Pop, Shoegaze and have a sweet spot for Alternative rock, this is certainly a release that will appeal to your senses.
The album kicks off with the dreamy intensity of “Pale”, a track that instantly showcases the band’s moody vocals and excellent guitar work. This track feels a bit heavier than it sounds, as the guitars could pass on for Melodic DM, but the vocals and overall atmosphere change the vibe to a mellower one. With “3:07 (Moonlight)” the band opens the song in an Alcest-like manner with a very subtle atmosphere, as the vocals nicely elevate the song and complete the moody atmosphere.
Very far removed from their days of being a Symphonic Metal powerhouse (“Mother Earth” and “The Silent Force”), Within Temptation returns after four years with “Resist”. Attempting a dead cat bounce, the band puts out an extremely overproduced release that while it might appeal to the fans the band has gained since “The Unforgiven”, it will probably completely turn off their older fan base. We rarely write bad reviews these days as we rather save the time and energy for good releases that deserve to be heard, but “Resist” was just asking for it.
The album kicks off with the first single, “The Reckoning” a song that takes about 20 seconds to realize it will be bad. With Jacoby Shaddix on guest vocals, yup, the dude from Papa Roach, this track starts the trend of overproduced tracks. The song, while trying to be heavy and melancholic falls completely flat due to their lack of imagination and passion. The trend continues with the futuristic “Endless War”, which at least has some old school vocal arrangements… at times, and the vanilla “Raise Your Banner”, which features Anders Fridén on guest vocals.
Just before the end of the year we received on our review queue on of our favorite albums of 2018: Crippled Black Phoenix’s “Great Escape”. As one of the most melancholic and mellow Rock albums we have heard, this international band unleashes over one hour of truly disarming music. Mixing elements of bands like Anathema, God is an Astronaut and countless others, this is definitely one of the most unique and diverse releases you will hear in 2018.
After opening with the dreamy “You Brought it Upon Yourselves”, the band sinks into the bleakness of “To You I Give”, a Post-Rock-ish tune in nature. Masterminded by Justin Greaves, this band’s releases are always very rich and diverse and extremely hard to categorize, but always top notch in terms of quality. After the interlude “Uncivil War, Pt. 1”, “Madman” features a dark wave vibe with heavy synths and a very martial pace.
Riding one last time, Norway’s infamous hard rockers Chrome Division unleash their last opus “One Last Ride” this November. Featuring 12 superbly catchy tunes about boozing and women, this release is full of attitude and the band’s signature playful music. Catering for fans of The New Black, The Carburetors, and similar outfits, Shagrath and company have consistently delivered highly memorable music since their inception 15 years ago and with Eddie Guz back on vocals they decide to sign off into oblivion.
Straight out of a Robert Rodriguez movie, the epic opener “Return From The Wastelands” sets a very epic vibe for such an intoxicating release. Pummeling through “So Fragile”, we are quickly reminded of Eddie Guz signature vocals and while bittersweet that Shady Blue is not participating, Eddie’s vocals were made for this kind of music. The album’s first standout hit is the majestic “Walk Away in Shame”, with is playful chorus section and insanely funny lyrics.
Unleashing a very lively proggy release with “Aeon Chaser”, Norway’s Oberon self-labels their music a Gnostic Rock and they are not very far from the truth. Exploring a wide palette of sounds in their 11 songs, the band perfectly pairs acoustic passages with tons of atmospheric elements alongside a Progressive/Folk Rock core. In a similar vein than bands like Anathema, this release contains very well crafted songs that have a high replay value.
Opening with the dreamy “Omega”, we are instantly taken on a very trippy journey with songs that remind us of outfits like Yes and Marillion. The band’s progressive core allows them to craft intricate songs like “Walk in Twilight”, “The Secret Fire” and “Surrender” filled with memorable guitar melodies and soaring vocal arrangements. For those that like dreamier songs, “To Live to Die” crafts a very delicate atmosphere that nicely progresses as layers of additional elements like subtle piano arrangements are introduced.
There are only a handful of people in the Metal scene that rock as hard as Floor Jansen with her vocal talents and intense stage presence. In her new band, Northward, she unleashes 11 tracks that reflect this hard rocking attitude with tons of brilliant vocal arrangements and catchy guitar melodies. Moving away from the direction of ReVamp and Nightwish, this track delivers some straight up Rock tunes that showcase her versatility and energy, alongside guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad of Pagan’s Mind fame.
The album sets a very lively mood from the start with superbly catchy and filled with attitude tunes like “While Love Died” and “Get What You Give”. The soaring vocal melodies of “Storm in a Glass” make it one of the most engaging and dynamic songs in this release, while taking the listener on a musical journey. For those that like power ballads, “Paragon” and “Bridle Passion” give the listener a more raw and direct appreciation of Floor’s charismatic vocals.
After captivating audiences with their insane ‘Blackjazz’ style (and release), the band continues to push their own musical horizons with a Hard Rocking release titled “Animal”. Always evolving in styles, the band now pursues a more ‘normal’ sound that keep their catchiness but tunes down the madness while delivering an in-your-face attitude. Don’t get us wrong, this release is awesome, but in its own different context.
Opening with “Take Me”, the band’s use of synths made us believe they decided to go the Ulver route and play some synth pop, but instead they kept this heavier and sound like Pain and similar Industrial/Electronic Metal bands. While it can take a bit to adjust, the album title track provides the perfect transition into their Hard Rock style with catchy guitar sections and the highly recognizable vocal melodies of Jørgen Munkeby.
Unleashing over 55 minutes of superbly catchy hard rocking music, today we have Germany’s The Unity and their sophomore release “Rise”. Featuring members of Gamma Ray and Love.Might.Kill, this release delivers a very interesting mixture of traditional Hard Rock with Power Metal elements, allowing for the band to delivering brilliant technically proficient passages, while maintaining a lively mood and a high level of catchiness. If you like bands like Stratovarius, Warlock, Helloween, etc., but also like something more easy to digest and to sing along, then definitely check out this release.
After a dramatic atmospheric opener, “Last Betrayal” instantly cranks up the intensity and the catchiness up to 11. This track kicks off with dramatic vocals by Jan Manenti and a very hectic pace. The chorus sections are just brilliant, allowing this track to be stuck in your head for a while after the first listen. The first standout track is the intoxicating “You Got Me Wrong”, which is definitely one of the most engaging and memorable songs we have heard in quite a while.
Only making us wait for ten years, we finally get another brilliant release from Noekk, even if its a short 7 inch one. With “Carol Stones and Elder Rock”, Schwadorff and Thomas Helm tease listeners with four tracks of their upcoming full length release. Full of lush and yet simple arrangements, this release continues the band’s legacy with some unique and mysterious songs that will certainly captivate fans of Dark/Folk Rock.
The wait is over with the somber intro track “A Loss”, which creates a very dark and yet mysterious atmosphere that brings you back to the band’s earlier work and reminds you as well of outfits like Of the Wand and the Moon and Empyrium. The transition to “Pan” is seamless and leads into a lush keyboard atmospherics and haunting string elements. The pace is quite well crafted as it creates a bit of an anxious feel, but at the same times soothes the listeners with its atmospherics.