Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (2017)

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After blowing everybody’s expectations with their amazing 2015 release “Hammer of the Witches”, Dani Filth and company are back with an even more refined and incisive release with “Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay”. Having returned to their best sound since “Nymphetamine”, they band continues rolling with another 10 brilliant tracks that while reminding us of their earlier days, keep pushing forward with their bombastic and aggressive sound.

Kicking off with the mood setting intro “Exquisite Torments Await”, CoF instantly transports you into the band’s twisted world thanks to sinister riffs and dramatic arrangements. This is only the beginning as things get even more intense with the blistering drumming of “Heartbreak and Séance” and its Omen-esque chorus sections. With even more dramatic arrangements and superbly catchy passages, “Achingly Beautiful” is definitely one of our favorite tracks in this release.

Beyond the Gates – 8/24-27/2017 – USF Verftet / Garage, Bergen, Norway

What better way to close this summer filled with festival for Infernal Masquerade than to make our way back to Bergen, Norway and attend this relatively ‘young’ festival. Boasting an impressive line-up with bands like Cult of Fire, Mgla, Vemod and The Ruins of Beverast among others, and headliners like Master’s Hammer, The True Mayhem and Enslaved, and a venue as impressive as USF Verftet, this small festival promised to deliver and action-packed weekend.

Heterochrome – Melancholia (2017)

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Hailing from Iran, today we have Progressive Metal outfit Heterochrome and their debut release “Melancholia”. Filled with intricate soundscapes and angelic female vocals, this release is quite engaging and entertaining as it reminds us a bit of outfits like Alas and Echoes of Eternity. Delivering over 30 minutes of music divided in six tracks, this release showcases the many talents of the band and will surely put them in your radar for the future.

Opening with the playful percussions of “Cage”, the band sets a very moody and ethereal opening that hooks the listener but does not reveal the band’s surprises yet. As “Hang” starts we get some brilliant proggy guitars paired with tight drumming as Mida’s vocals effortlessly take center stage. Her vocal range is quite unique and fits perfectly the tempo changes of this song.

Hallatar – No Stars Upon the Bridge (2017)

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As one of the most devastating albums of 2017, today we have “No Stars Upon the Bridge” by Hallatar. Formed by Juha Raivio (Swallow the Sun) to pay homage to Aleah Starbridge, this band can be seen as a continuation of Trees of Eternity with a more raw and emotional edge. Joined by Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis), and Gas Lipstick (ex-HIM), with the guest appearance of Heike Langhans (Draconian), this release is full of despair and loss, transmitted in very emotional songs that will rock your senses.

Opening with the punishing riffs of “Mirrors”, the album starts with a very powerful and commanding tone. In this track we get to listen to Tomi’s vocals in a raw and uncomposed way, perfectly transmitting the state of a grief-stricken madman, this is indeed a truly haunting experience. “Raven’s Song” is a very nice and short poem that switches the mood of the release as it mellows a bit with the highly melancholic “Melt”. In this song, the clean vocals are full of emotion and perfectly kick of a moody track that features interesting tempo changes and powerful atmospheric elements.

Ensiferum – Two Paths (2017)

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Returning after two years since their last release, today we have one of Finland’s finest Folk Metal exports: Ensirefum, and their seventh full-length release “Two Paths”. Delivering over 53 minutes of epic Folk Metal, the band showcases both their maturity and their excellence in this killer release. Filled with epic passages and a cheerful vibe, this album is exactly what fans of the band have been waiting for.

Setting the stage with a grandiose intro track, the album really kicks off with the extreme catchiness of “For those About to Fight for Metal”. In this anthem, the band quickly delivers their signature vocal arrangements paired with intricate guitar work and the perfect tempo to get the listener fired up. This upbeat mood continues as the band ravages through catchy tracks like “Way of the Warrior” and the album titled track.

Oraculum – Always Higher (2017)

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Delivering a Death Metal blast from the past, today we have Chile’s Oraculum and their latest EP titled “Always Higher”. Having a certain Asphyx/Morgoth/Sinister vibe, this short but sweet EP captures a timeless sound and delivers is with crystal clear production values to the masses. This is the perfect EP for any fan yearning the good old days of Death Metal.

Setting the mood with the imposing atmospheric intro, “Exeunt”, the band gets rolling with the punishing riffs and leads of “Lex Talionis”. Oraculum’s vocalist Scourge of God, does a great job in delivering those raspy old-school DM vocals that we all love, and pairs them perfectly with intricate drum patters and a very hectic pace.

Falaise – My Endless Immensity (2017)

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Hailing from Italy, today we have Post-Black Metal/Blackgaze newcomers Falaise and their sophomore release “My Endless Immensity”. Following the footsteps of bands like Amesoeurs, An Autumn for Crippled Children, Heretoir, etc, this band delivers 52 minutes of highly melodic and intoxicating music that will make you an instant fan of their sound.

After a mood setting intro, the release kicks off with the mellow atmosphere of “The Embrace of Water”. Providing some brilliant Amesoeurs flashbacks, this track perfectly showcases the band’s rich and powerful sound. With dreamy guitars and contrasting tempo changes, tracks like “You Towards Me”, “Crimson Clouds”, and “Dreariness” deliver excellent atmospheric experiences that evoke the likes of Alcest and Lantlos, but with Falaise’s own unique touch.

Wintersun – The Forest Seasons (2017)

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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.

Kval – Kval (2017)

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Making its way to our office from Canada, today we have Finland’s one-man demolition squad Kval and its self-titled debut release. Originally releasing music under the moniker Khaossos, Kval’s sole member crafts some of the most misanthropically punishing Atmospheric Black Metal we have heard in a while. Evoking the raw elements of old-school Burzum and the bleakness of Mortualia, this is one heavy release.

After setting the mood with the chilling “Usva”, the punishing distorted guitars first make an appearance on “Sokeus”. Instantly creating a wall of dissonance, the guitars perfectly blend with a trance-inducing bass guitar line and their demoralizing harsh vocals. These elements are very nicely contrasted with somber instrumental passages. The transition between songs is quite subtle and before you know it, this release is already on its third track, “Harhainen”.

Accept – The Rise of Chaos (2017)

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Delivering the most intense Heavy Metal release of 2017, today we have Germany’s Accept and their latest full-length release “The Rise of Chaos”. Having resuscitated back in 2009, Wolf and Mark Tornillo have led this band to release some of their strongest album in the last decade. Featuring over 45 minutes of music distributed in ten tracks, the band cranks out some of the most anthemic songs of the year, so be prepared to be blown away.

Opening with the relentless “Die By the Sword”, we get signature Accept guitar leads and vocal arrangements that will make you want to drop everything that you are doing and start headbanging from start to end. Other epic songs like “Hole in the Head” and “The Rise of Chaos” showcase the band’s knack for crafting soaring vocal melodies and superbly catchy chorus sections. Wolf’s guitars are on point as always, and deliver some killer leads as showcased on “Koolaid”.

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