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.
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.
As one of the many variants of Metal, ‘Pop Metal’ has gained popularity over the last few years with bands like Amaranthe, Battle Beast, etc. Today we have Finnish newcomers Memoremains and their very uninspired titled release “Pop Metal”. Luckily for us, the name is the only uninspired part of this release as the nine tracks presented here are quite catchy and enjoyable.
Opening with “We are One”, the band has a dejavu Amaranthe opening with the first couple of seconds of the track, but then it transitions into their own making with some modern Dark Tranquility-esque keyboards and riffs. The first thing to have to be successful in this genre has to be a charismatic and distinguishable singer, and Johanna Ahonen does a very good job in making tracks like “Sympathy”, “Back Off”, and “Paralyze” her own.
Being huge fans of multi-instrumentalist Sylvaine and her enchanting music, we completely cleared our review queue and went deep into the intricacies and layers of “Nova”. Perfectly balancing the fragility of genres like Shoegaze and Atmospheric Metal with the aggression of Black Metal and Post-Metal influences, this release marks Sylvaine’s best effort to date with around 45 minutes of complex enchanting music.
Setting a very ethereal vibe with the album title track, things quickly escalate with the piercing guitars of “Mono No Aware”. This track perfectly blends onslaughts of harsh screams alongside dreamy vocal melodies, creating a very intense and yet melancholic atmosphere. We are always quite impressed with the build-up of songs like “Nowhere, Still Somewhere”, which slowly hypnotize the listener with siren-like vocal arrangements and shoegazey guitars.
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.
Unleashing a lively mixture of Modern/Alternative Metal with some *Core elements, today we have Germany’s Venues and their latest release “Solace”. Featuring a brand new singer, Daniela ‘Lela’ Gruber, the band delivers nearly 40 minutes of superbly catchy music with soaring vocal melodies and heavy distorted guitars. Similar to outfits like Amaranthe and Sumo Cyco, this band has a more Metalcore aesthetic and edge to their sound.
Opening with the heavy guitars and harsh vocals of “Razorblade Teeth”, the band sets a heavier mood than their previous release, however, Lela’s vocals nicely balance the band’s sound. As the band delivers pieces like “Whydah Gally”, “Rite of Passage”, and “Uncaged Birds”, the listener is presented with a masterful combination of atmospheric synths, engaging clean vocal melodies, and crafty heavier parts for moshing and non-stop headbanging.
When a band usually says that their latest album is the heaviest to date, they are usually just playing the marketing game. However, once in a blue moon, this is actually true, and “Wallflowers” from Jinjer is one of those rare exceptions. Featuring an even more explosive and expansive sound than before, this release will certainly propel the band’s status thanks to its incisive and crafty songs.
The band opens with the in-your-face track “Call Me A Symbol” and never looks back, from Tatiana’s mountrous harsh vocals to the throbbing bass guitar and crafty drumming, this track sets a very intense pace. Songs like “Colossus”, “Vortex”, and “Disclosure!” perfectly showcase the band’s versatility and explosivity, going from playful clean vocal passages to crushing guitars and diverse tempo changes.
Seven years have passed since Lantlos released “Melting Sun”, an album that turned the page from the early Post-Black Metal days into more sonically diverse and immersive territories. With “Wildhund”, Markus Siegenhort further develops his musical exploration and delivers over 50 minutes of superbly catchy and sonically engaging music. If you like heavy, lush, and sonically imposing releases that are not quite Metal music, this album should peak your interest.
The release quickly sets a very dreamy mood with the lush atmospherics of “Lake Fantasy”. This track continues the “Melting Sun” style of soaring vocal arrangements alongside powerful distorted guitars and generous atmospherics. “Magnolia” nicely continues with playful tempo changes and lively clean vocals alongside a commanding bass guitar line and crafty drumming.