This 2023 is starting with a bang with tons of new releases from well established bands, luckily for us, Katatonia was also one of them. Being huge fans of the band, “Sky Void of Stars” is just your typical excellent release, filled with crafty vocal arrangements and sorrowful melodies. Featuring ten tracks and 45 minutes of magic, this release will please any fan of the band’s more modern Alternative Rock/Metal side.
Opening with the epic “Austerity”, Jonas Renkse belts out his signature vocal melodies alongside crafty guitar work from Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson. The band’s moody tunes like “Colossal Shade”, “Opaline”, and “Birds” are filled with excellent melodic passages alongside well-timed tempo changes and brilliant drumming. The band is a well-oiled machine when it comes to perfectly mixing melancholy with heavy guitars and catchiness.
Just in time to kick off 2023, Vile Valo (ex-H.I.M) is ready to drop his debut solo release titled “Neon Noir”. This unique singer is ready to get back on the Heartagram train and delivers twelve extremely characteristic tracks filled with soaring vocal arrangements and unrivaled melancholy. If you are a fan of HIM you will certainly love this release as it is full of superbly catchy and intoxicating songs that will leave you listening to it on repeat for days on end.
The release starts with the dreamy “Echolocate Your Love” and its playful synths flanking Vile’s gifted vocals. The song has his signature dark and yet lively mood, with a catchy chorus and nice distorted guitars. Quickly, the power ballad “Run Away from the Sun” leads to soaring vocal arrangements and a very intoxicating serenading mood. With a nice Amorphis-esque acoustic guitar intro, “Neon Noir” is yet another excellent track in this release with lush arrangements and well crafted tempo changes.
Hailing from Norway, Kjetil Nernes and Karin Park are the duo known as Årabrot, a very eclectic and quite interesting Noise-Rock band. Usually a bit far from our regular cup of tea, we didn’t really get into the band until their intense set at L'Homme Sauvage 2022 in France earlier this year. The show’s intensity was palpable and both Kjetil and Karin are so charismatic that their music really clicked when seeing them deliver it live, luckily we also were able to capture it on our camera lens in this gallery.
In “Heart” the band delivers four very unique and atmospheric covers of well known tracks but with the band’s unique spin and vibrance added to the mix. After a funky intro, the cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “Lightning Girl” comes around and the band immediately does their own thing perfectly blending funky arrangements, distorted guitars and Karin’s talented vocals. Our favorite cover has to be the band’s version of Miklós Rózsa suite for Green Fire, as the original is an instrumental piece, but here we get some hypnotic vocals and a creepy Sabbath Assembly like vibe from it.
Led by the talented Mariangela Demurtas of Tristania fame, and multi-instrumentalist/producer Kris Laurent, Ardours is one of those rare unique bands that manages to perfectly blend all kinds of cool elements from Gothic Rock to Metal to 80’s new wave. With “Anatomy of a Moment” they hone in on the strengths of their debut album and unleash nearly 45 minutes of superbly catchy music filled with soaring vocal melodies, lush atmospheric arrangements and a hefty dose of funky beats.
Opening with the magical futuristic atmospherics of “Epitaph For A Spark”, one could immediately think the band turned into another Amaranthe, but as soon as the soothing guitars and Mariangela’s vocals come on, the whole vibe changes into a completely different beast. The band’s ability to create different moods, some darker or more playful than others, is their biggest strength as they deliver songs like “Insomniac”, “Identified”, and “Secret Worlds”, which range in styles but still feature a cohesive core of solid guitar work, crafty drumming and soaring vocal leads.
After unleashing one of the weirdest and yet totally awesome unconventional releases of 2020, Nergal and company, Me and that Man, are back to one-up their previous release with an even wilder follow-up. Featuring more over the top guest, more catchiness, and the same occult and kick-ass attitude, “New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol.2” is one hell of a ride that everybody that liked the first one, should not miss out on.
The release opens up with the somber “Black Hearse Cadillac”, an awesome bluessy opener that features Hank Von Hell (RIP) and Anders Odden as guests. Keeping the mood high Tobias Forge guests on the superbly catchy western-like “Under the Spell”. While we could name drop this whole review as tracks like “All Hope Has Gone” feature Metal luminaries like Blaze Bailey and Gary Holt, or pieces like “Losing My Blues” deliver an all-out party mood with people like Olve Abbath Eikemo, Frank The Baptist and Chris Holmes involved, we particularly like the odd songs like “Witches Don't Fall in Love” featuring Garm of Ulver fame.
One of the best parts of the gig of reviewing music for this site is that I get to enjoy countless amounts of music, particularly the submissions from up-and-coming bands. Today we have one killer gem that made its way into my inbox: Two Hundred Wolves and their release “The Hold”. With a style similar to Jess and the Ancient Ones and Madder Mortem but with a fuzzier and jazzier side, this release delivers 44 minutes of captivating music led by the sultry vocals of Anna Matveinen.
Opening with the jazzy/proggy “Visceral Redemption”, the first impression the band makes is one of a highly original sound perfectly fronted by a versatile singer. We like all kinds of music, and this band certainly has a bit of everything, from post rock to occult rock/metal influences, creating tracks like “Oblivion”, the dynamic “Absolute Bearing”, and the highly emotive “Event Horizon”. We are huge fans of deep and unique female voices, and the band’s vocalist definitely stands out from the rest.
Led by the extremely busy Lars Are Nedland, White Void is an old-school Psychedelic/Occult Rock outfit that should not be missed. Unleashing their debut “Anti”, the band delivers over 46 minutes of majestically crafted and completely intoxicating music from start to end. If you are a fan of bands like Jess and the Ancient Ones, Purson, Sabbath Assembly, plus can’t get enough of Lars vocals in the latest Borknagar release, this release perfectly combines both.
Oozing grooviness, “Do. Not. Sleep.” opens with release with commanding style and a very warm and fuzzy retro vibe. The ripping guitar leads and crafty drumming nicely bleeds into the darker “There is No Freedom but the End”, as Lars' voice takes an enigmatic tone and the fuzzy synths create a very embracing atmosphere. The mood nicely varies between tracks as “Where You Go, You'll Bring Nothing” takes a more introspective pace and “The Shovel and the Cross” keeps things enigmatic with a hectic pace alongside the catchy guitars and synths.
Unleashing a big glob of darkness, Alternative/Gothic/Post-Punk one-man unit Deeper Graves delivers their debut release “Open Roads”. From the mind of Jeff Wilson (Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium), this release features nearly 40 minutes of superbly atmospheric and depressive music. While not really ‘traditional’ Metal, this album is still heavy in atmosphere and very enigmatic. For fans of Katatonia, Nick Cave, Sisters of Mercy, and Kayo Dot.
The release slowly unravels with the bleak “Final Divide” and its haunting clean vocals paired with sublime string instruments and an eerie tempo. This sinister aural exploration continues with the dreamy guitars of “Leave This World”, the Post-Punk/Gothic Rock vibe of “Ode to War”, and the enigmatic percussions of “Open Arms” and its shoegazy approach. As you can read, every track is a unique experience that perfectly blends genres while creating a very dense and emotional atmosphere, unique to Deeper Graves.
For those looking for the Black Metal version of Secrets of the Moon, you can move along as there is nothing to see here. However, for those with an open mind, “Black House” continues the band’s evolution into Alternative/Gothic Rock/Metal territories with nine brilliantly catchy songs. While not entirely surprising to all, the band’s sonic evolution is quite interesting and this release shows their skills on a completely different playing field.
The album opens in a Katatonia-esque tone with the sultry “Sanctum” and its ridiculously catchy chorus section. This track oozes melancholy and darkness, while keeping things engaging and dynamic. On “Don’t Look Now” we have interesting vocal arrangements and very dreamy atmospheric keyboards creating a very playful back and forth between different moods. In just the first few songs, the band has set a completely different style for themselves and it works perfectly as tracks like “Veronica’s Room” and “He is Here” deliver very well crafted melodies that are perfectly flanked by unique vocal arrangements and engaging songwriting.
It is crazy to realize that we have been enchanted by Kari’s voice since the 3rd And the Mortal’s debut EP “Sorrow”, all the way back to 1993. While those days are long gone, it has been quite a journey to hear Kari jump to a solo-artist career and shake things up with a wide range of styles. “Sørgekåpe” marks her first all-Norwegian release since her solo debut in 1997. We all know that her music currently is far from Metal, but it is still a very lively Folk/Alternative Rock powered by her mesmerizing voice.
The album starts with the title track and sets a nice Folky mood with lush acoustic guitars and a somber pace. Shifting the mood, “Svever” nicely delivers a very catchy and lively Alternative Rock tune with excellent vocal melodies and overall playful music. We particularly enjoy more the mellow tracks like “Månen lyser ned”, which have a very powerful mixture of Kari’s vocals and a deep bass guitar line. This is probably because they bring us memories from her earlier work, but nonetheless, they resonate better with us.