After a four year absence, now we get the second release in the same amount of years from Vintersorg. “Orkan” continues the same predictable and highly typical path that Vintersorg has taken, providing just very few flashes of brilliant, and a whole lot more of the same. If you are a die-hard Vintersorg fan this release will be sweet music to your ears, but if you have been annoyed by the lack of creativity of the last release, then you will surely not like this one either.
The traditional Vintersorg vocal melodies nicely adorn the opener “Istid”. Here, the combination of growls and clean vocals are very well layered at first, and then used to near perfection as we are all used to, in bands like Borknagar and everything else that Vintersorg has been involved in. The fancy synth work is very typical and the riffing is as powerful as always. The progressive elements in the music make it quite enjoyable to hear, particularly on tracks like “Polarnatten”, “Myren”, and “Orkan”. The playfulness of “Myren” is something that we had missed from the band in the last release. We have to say that this is our favorite song in this release, and the only one we really liked too.
What do you get when you mix Falkenbach with Moonsorrow and Candlemass? Ereb Altor is the answer. Mixing Viking Metal elements with some Doom, this Swedish band has been constantly releasing albums since 2008 with a few tweaks in-between but nothing really revolutionary. In “Gastrike”, the band delivers seven tracks of catchy guitar-driven tunes that ultimately feel a bit repetitive and quite dull in some points.
Leading with the atmospheric opening section to “The Gathering of Witches”, Ereb Altor nicely transitions into some power riffs and typical Viking Metal elements bordering on the Black Metal side of things. There is a rawness to the band’s sound that is quite nice, but sometimes makes the music feel a bit convoluted. “Dance of Darkness” moves a bit into Doom territory, but the guitars nicely shift back and forth between Black Metal and Doom Metal.
The nautical Funeral Doom Metalheads are back with another deep sea exploration titled “The Giant”. Ahab and their self-branded ‘nautik’ Funeral Doom Metal have released two previous releases and with this latest one they seem to be achieving total domination of the oceans when it comes to Doom Metal. With six soul crushing tracks clocking around 60 minutes, this is one hell of a ride through the seas with tuned down guitars and very moody sections, just like the doctor ordered.
Opening with a jazzy and very well paced intro, “Further South” nicely sets the mood for a very mellow release. There is no need for real ‘traditional’ Doom riffs until the second half of this eight minute track begins, and we totally love it. The clean vocals are outstanding and they nicely contrast the deep growls. The monolithic “Aeons Elapse” nicely builds up with heavy riffs and very well crafted drums. This track is one of those rollercoaster rides with plenty of chug-and-go sections. The clean vocals again provide a very regal sound to the band’s music.
Being suckers for sappy Black Metal with high levels of keyboards and catchy melodies, we are pretty delighted to have found Nachtblut’s latest release “Dogma” in our review queue. Hailing from Germany, this band plays a more dramatic and industrial version of Siebenbürgen’s, Graveworms’s and Agathodaimon’s dabbles in the realm of Symphonic Black Metal. Nachtblut managed to keep our attentions on their music for the 50 minutes this release lasted... every single time we played it.
The album title track “Dogma” quickly sneaks up on the listener with powerful guitar riffs, hellish vocals and very cool keyboards. There is nothing complex about this song, but the rather simple and direct approach of the track makes it very engaging. The band keeps building on their sound on “Der Weg Ist Das Ziel”, where they add more double-kick sections and a more dramatic synth orchestration background. The same applies to the circus-like “Ich Trinke Blut”.
The legendary Candlemass is back with what they say it will be their last album… ever. “Psalms for the Dead” marks the band’s 11th studio full-length release and closes the chapter on the band’s very influential career. Having influenced tons of bands over the years, it is quite sad to hear that Candlemass is going away, but at least they do so with an impressive and monumental release, instead of a pathetic sad little album or even worst… a best-of compilation release.
Opening with the crushing riffs of “Prophet”, the band delivers a powerful and firm first track that sets the mood for the whole release. The epic keyboards and excellent vocal melodies nicely make this song very catchy and dynamic, but ultimately it’s the riffing that sells the track. The very interesting atmospheric elements make their way into “The Sound of Dying Demons”, giving this track a very eerie and creepy feeling, and when paired with the cavernous riffs, it is plain brilliant.
Coming back after an intense four years of touring since their last release back in 2008, today we have Moonspell and their most ambitious release yet: Alpha Noir / Omega White. In this double CD release, the band delivers one complete CD with the aggressive side of the band, and another with… we don’t really know since we didn’t get that part of the album, but Fernando Ribeiro says is more mellow, dark, and deep.
Opening with the powerful yet enigmatic “Axis Mundi” the band shows no signs of slowing down and delivers a typical catchy Moonspell track. With a very ritualistic feeling, the vocals are very commanding and the guitar riffing is excellent. With no need for excessive guitar layering or studio trickery, the band delivers crystal-clear sounding rawness in a very Moonspell fashion.
Hailing from France, today we have the Heavy/Power Metal outfit named Lonewolf and their surprisingly very engaging release “Army of the Damned”. While not having anything original about their sound, Lonewolf does an excellent job in crafting 11 super-catchy headbanging inducing tracks that will stick to your head for days to come.
Opening with the track titled “Lonewolf”, the band delivers commanding guitar riffs and solos, powerful keyboards in a very traditional sounding track that is super catchy in nature. The vocals are your typical late 90’s raspy Heavy Metal style, but they actually feel very well fitted for the more modern and richer sound of the band. Things continue to get even catchier with the excellent “Crawling to Hell”, a track that has a slight Manowar vibe. The chorus section is pretty solid, allowing this track to have all the makings of a true Metal anthem.
With a very interesting and bombastic sound, today we have Sweden’s own AtomA and their debut full-length “Skylight” out on Napalm Records. In this release we have a trio of musicians crafting a unique musical experience that has way too much stuff going on at certain times. While the band’s sound is lush and powerful, it also feels a bit misguided and confusing, making this release a interesting experience but ultimately not cohesive enough to be fully praised (at least by us).
Opening with the ritualistic “AtomA”, this track has a very ‘tribal’ feeling to it with a mixture of futuristic soundtrack elements and some electronic stuff thrown into the mix. As an opener it helps set the listener’s mindset to something completely different, but it also feels a bit convoluted. “Skylight” capitalizes on the initial build up with some more extreme atmospheric elements and powerful guitars. The drumming is very well crafted, but sounds a bit drowned in the mix. The clean vocal sections are pretty solid and provide a nice ethereal feeling to the band’s brand of music.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the American band Huntress delivers an early candidate for ‘2012 album of the year’ with their debut full-length “Spell Eater”. With over 40 minutes of hard-hitting Heavy Metal, the band’s attitude (and music) is as real as it can get when it comes to Heavy Metal. Led by the talented (and equally sexy) Jill Janus, this band is not your average mellow Metal female-fronted band, but rather a full-fledged war machine that will surely demolish your ears.
Taking influences from Heavy, Black and Thrash Metal, the album opens with the crushing “Spell Eater” track. The opening riffs scream Black Metal immediately, but as the song progresses and Jill’s vocals come through, the old-school Thrash influences seamlessly appear. This high-intensity track nicely marks the pace of a very diverse and extremely well crafted album.