Neurosis – Fires within Fire (2016)

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Leveling everything on their path, today we have Neurosis and their devastating release “Fires within Fires”. Unleashed after a period of high activity from the band which saw them tour the world with handpicked 30 years anniversary shows, this release delivers over 40 minutes of soul crushing music. Featuring five songs, the album will satisfy any follower of the band and “power of the riff” connoisseurs.

Ripping things wide open with the relentless riffing of “Bending Light”, the band starts on a high note with massive walls of sound and the signature Neurosis vocal attack. Going into more hypnotic territories with the tribal-influenced “A Shadow Memory”, Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till continue their riffing onslaught in this punishing song. The atmospheric elements, courtesy of Noah Landis, in “Fire is the End Lesson” make this track one of our favorite ones.

Fallujah + Between the Buried And Me + Devin Townsend Project - 10/05/2016 – The Regency - San Francisco, CA

Kicking off the post-summer touring cycle in the North America, this week we had a killer tour package with Technical Deathcore Northern California outfit Fallujah, Progressive Metal/Rock outfit Between the Buried and Me (BTBAM) and the legendary Devin Townsend. Having seen BTBAM back in December 2015, we are psyched to hear them play their epic “Coma Ecliptic” album in its entirety during this show. Fallujah delivered a very impressive album this 2016, and we are quite psyched to see if their complex sound translates live.

Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour (2016)

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As one of the premiere Power Metal bands in the world, Finland’s Sonata Arctica needs no introduction. Arriving early October 2016, the band unleashes their ninth full-length release appropriately titled “The Ninth Hour”. Filed with eleven tracks and around 60 minutes of high-octane music, the band is at the top of their game and delivers the levels of epicness that fans expect from them.

Opening with the dynamic “Closer to an Animal”, the band starts in typical Sonata Arctica fashion with playful guitars and keyboards and the signature Tony Kakko voice. The album continues with excellent over the top tracks like “Life”, the brilliant “Fairytale”, and the mellow “We Are What We Are”, which adds medieval/folk music influences into the mix.

Hanging Garden – Hereafter (2016)

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For fans of highly melancholic and atmospheric music, today we have Hanging Garden’s latest opus “Hereafter”. Perfectly continuing their musical journey into more Atmospheric Rock territories, this Finnish band has come a long way since their crushing Death/Doom Metal days. Featuring 21 minutes divided in five tracks, this release delivers highly melancholic music filled with great guest vocal appearances, perfect for any fans of the band or highly atmospheric music.

Opening with the heavy riffs of “Penumbra”, the band complements the clean vocals of Toni Toivonen with the crushing growls of guest singer Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun). This track is quite melodic and yet delivers some crushing riffs and heavy moments. Continuing with the heaviness, “Sirkle of Onan” keeps things heavy thanks to a firm pace and Victor Wegeborn’s Post-Metal styled vocals.

Armed Cloud - Obsidian Desert (2015)

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Hailing from the Netherlands, today we have extremely promising Progressive Metal outfit Armed Cloud and their debut release “Obsidian Desert”. Featuring over 57 of music, this release is both engaging a very technically proficient, showcasing the band’s songwriting skills and instrument abilities. Recommended for fans of bands like Circus Maximus, Ayreon, and Pain of Salvation, this release will keep you entertained for a while.

Opening with the playful title-track, the band instantly sets a very mellow mood filled with intricate details. This song showcases Daan Dekker’s excellent vocals and the tight percussions of Rico Noijen. Getting a good vocalist is vital for Prog bands and Daan does a great job in pieces like “Wound Healer” and the dramatic “In your Mind”.

Heaven Grey – Manuscriptum (2016)

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Six years after their brilliant sophomore release “Falling Mist”, today we have Heaven Grey’s latest opus “Manuscriptum”. As one of the hidden Baltic gems of Gothic/Doom Metal bands (Frailty is another one), the band delivers nine excellent tracks of melancholic music which show the band’s musical evolution over the years.

Opening with the dramatic atmospheric intro of “Insomnia”, the band nicely settles with some melancholic riffs and very well crafted tempo changes. This track perfectly sets a very mellow and depressive mood that is nicely enhanced by the excellent clean vocals of the band’s new singer Artūrs Fishers. Mixing clean and harsh vocal styles, tracks like “Drown in My Shade” and “Sirds Balss” showcase a perfect balance and great complementarity between the styles.

Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter (2016)

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Hailing from the UK, today we have Winterfylleth and their crushing fifth full-length release “The Dark Hereafter”. Crafting a very unique atmospheric brand of Black Metal, the band manages to deliver 40 minutes of relentless music. Improving upon their already refined style, the band perfectly captures oppressive atmospheres and blistering drumming into an all-encompassing well rounded package.

The album opens with the mesmerizing title track, filled with aggressive BM riffs and hyper-fast tight drums, creating a whirlwind-like atmosphere filled with brutality. With such an intense opening, the band manages to transition into a more melodic driven “Pariah’s Path”, which builds an intense atmospheric cloud around itself. This nine minute peace perfectly captures the band’s balance between melody, atmosphere and brutality in such a lush and yet devastating way.

Drakwald – Riven Earth (2016)

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Hailing from France, today we have Folk/Death Metal outfit Drakwald and their sophomore full-length release “Riven Earth”. Showing that France also has representatives on the Folk Metal scene, this release delivers 44 minutes of engaging music that will have you headbanging from start to end.

Not wasting much time to showcase their power, “Doomsday Argument” shows the band with full strength sounding like a mixture of Amon Amarth and Eluveitie. As tracks like “Erase by Fire”, “Primal Dawn” and “Rebrith” roll through, we can hear that the comparisons can be skewed more towards Eluveitie as the band’s bagpipes and flutes make them gravitate in to this territory.

Opeth – Sorceress (2016)

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The legendary Opeth returns with another exploration further down the rabbit hole or Progressive/Psychedelic rock with “Sorceress”. Constantly evolving and experimenting with their sound, the band offers 11 brilliant tracks that feature tons of unique ideas and excellent craftsmanship. If you have been a fan of the band’s last three releases, this album will certainly be one of the ‘must have’ releases of 2016.

Opening with the solemn acoustic guitars of “Persephone”, the band quickly ups the ante with the trippy and Proggy “Sorceress”. This track instantly showcases the album’s very fuzzy and warm sound, particularly on the guitars, giving it a certain vintage vibe that perfectly fits songs like “The Wilde Flowers”. The band nicely showcases their diverse musical repertoire in more direct songs like “Will O The Wisp” and its lush progressions.

Darkwell – Moloch (2016)

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As one of the most unexpected returns of 2016, today we have Gothic Metal band Darkwell with their third full-length release “Moloch”. With a separation of 12 years between releases, the band comes back to life with an exciting release in the vein of their debut “Suspiria”. Combining elements from Gothic Metal bands from the late 90’s like Dreams of Sanity and Trail of Tears, this release presents us with eleven tracks filled with heavy riffs and lush atmospheric elements.

Opening with the album title track, the band quickly sets the mood with catchy riffs and tight drums. Alexandra Pittracher returns on vocals and her signature style instantly brings back memories of the band’s debut release and our favorite track in that album “Realm of Darkness”. While the music structure has remained very similar, the keyboards, courtesy of Raphael Lepuschitz, feel more dynamic and edgier with some electronic elements to be found as you can notice on songs like “In Nomine Serpentis”, “Save My Sight” and “Yoshiwara”.

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