The Prisoner – Life of the Mind (2016)

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As one of the heaviest releases through Dooweet Records in the last few months, today we have Parisians The Prisoner and their sophomore release “Life of the Mind”. Clocking in at 62 minutes, this release perfectly blends aggressive Black Metal elements with Death Metal and Post-Metal influences. Creating a very unique and powerful wall of sound, this band is ready to captivate the listener with their sheer brutality and craftsmanship.

Opening with the catchy riffs of “Awake”, the band sets a very Doomy/Post-Metal mood just before they jump into some blistering Black Metal onslaught, a la Der Weg Einer Freiheit. Achieving a perfect balance between sheer aggression and more hypnotic states, the band pummels through tracks like “Emptied”, “Battling Ego”, and “Still Here”, perfectly tweaking their craft.

Raspail – Dirge (2016)

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Delivering one of the most sorrowful releases of 2016, today we have Italy’s Raspail and their crushing album “Dirge”. Perfectly amalgamating Doom, Post Metal, Black Metal and Shoegaze influences, the band manages to sound like a mix of Lantlôs, Desire, Skepticism with some Heretoir thrown into the mix. Not for the faint of heart, this release unleashes eight highly emotional compositions that will haunt your dreams.

The album starts with the dissonance of “The Wander”, a track that slowly evolves into an oppressive force thanks to the harsh vocals and demoralizing riffs. The band’s tempo changes are outstanding and one of the reasons this release is so powerful, as we can see on the monolithic “The Nymph’s Wood Hymn to the Rising Sun”. This nearly six-minute piece reminds us of bands like Desire and their knack for juxtaposing oppressive atmospherics and gut-wrenching vocals.

Lascar – Absence (2016)

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Being huge fans of Post-Black Metal it is always quite delightful to get a new release from the genre that manages to be good enough to avoid being called a clone of Alcest, Heretoir, etc, today Lascar deserves that honor with their debut release Absence. Hailing from Chile, this new signing to ATMF’s A Sad Sadness Song imprint unleashes to a wider audience this special release that also includes the band’s demo titled “Depths”.

Opening with melancholic acoustic guitars, “Atlas” delivers a very interesting mixture of elements from bands like Agalloch and An Autumn for Crippled Children. The track’s rawness is perfectly balanced by dramatic atmospheric elements and mournful riffs. As a one man project, Lascar manages to control all creative aspects and delivers emotionally charged songs that ooze melancholy and brutality as the contrasting “Wilderness”.

Diabulus in Musica - Dirge for the Archons (2016)

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As one of the most expected Symphonic/Gothic Metal releases of 2016, today we have Diabulus in Musica and their excellent fourth full-length release “Dirge for the Archons”. Slowly evolving into a beautiful butterfly, this Spanish band’s music has gotten more and more bombastic and explosive over time. Bringing comparisons with Epica, Xandria and After Forever, this release delivers over 60 minutes of captivating music that any fan of the genre will love.

After the traditional warm-up intro, “Earthly Illusions” delivers waves of guitar riffs and orchestral arrangements that are perfectly offset by Zuberoa Aznárez’s signature firm but sweet vocals. As “Marble Embrace” and “Invisible” arrive, we can’t help but notice a very evident similarity to Epica’s music, more than before for the band. This isn’t necessarily bad as there are enough differences in the choir arrangements and song structures to keep them far from being a copycat. And while similar, Gorka and company manage to craft highly memorable songs.

Aanod – Yesterday Comes Tomorrow (2016)

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Hailing from France, today we have Metalcore/Modern Metal new comers Aanod and their blistering release “Yesterday Comes Tomorrow”. Perfectly blending traditional Metalcore elements with more Soilwork/In Flames inspired Melodic Modern Metal elements, the band manages to craft seven solid tracks that showcase their talents. As the lines between Metalcore and other genre’s continue to blur, we are more than impressed with bands like Aanod and their fresh musical ideas.

Opening with the crushing “Gambler”, the band sets a very solid standard with an opener filled with powerful riffs and pummeling vocals. There influences from everything from Melo-death to Death/Metalcore are quickly evident and very well incorporated together. Reminding us a bit of Dark Tranquility and Soilwork, “DNA” and “Resource” are some of the album’s most engaging and gratifying songs.

Children of Bodom + Abbath + Exmortus + ONI – 12/05/2016 – The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

Braving once more the Bay Area traffic after work, today we made it up to the city to catch this very interesting tour featuring very technically proficient bands from different genres. Unluckily for us, the show started super early and thanks to the two and a half hours that traffic made our commute take, we managed to miss ONI and half the set of Exmortus. Only catching a few songs from Exmortus, we still enjoyed a few tracks of their intense Technical Thrash/Melodic Death Metal.

Sonata Arctica + Leaves’ Eyes + Omnium Gatherum – 12/02/2016 – Slim’s, San Francisco, CA

After braving the terrible Bay Area traffic on a Friday, we managed to make it all the way to the city and found a huge line outside Slim’s. With the promise of a quality show, fans crowded the venue to support the bands. Most people had Sonata Arctica t-shirts followed closely by fans of Omnium Gatherum and Leaves’ Eyes.

Lost Opera – Hidden Sides (2016)

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Hailing from Normandy, today we have newcomer Symphonic/Gothic Metal outfit Lost Opera and their sophomore release “Hidden Sides”. In a world filled with Female-led Symphonic Metal bands, it is quite surprising and even rare to hear a band rely mostly on male vocals in the genre. Delivering over 55 minutes of music, this release is quite engaging and fun, perfectly appealing to all fans of the genre that are looking for something a little different.

After the traditional intro, the album blows wide open with the pummeling riffs of “Today I Cry”. This track starts off quite heavy and is perfectly contrasted by engaging keyboards and a mixture of growls and clean vocals. The band’s vocalist Loïc Conti, does a pretty solid job in mixing growls with clean vocals, allowing the songs to be diverse and engaging as we can hear on “Follow the Signs” and “Rage”.

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