Opening 2012 for Napalm Records today we have The Kandidate’s sophomore release “Facing the Imminent Prospect of Death”. The band plays and inferior version of label mates Hatesphere’s Groove infused Thrash Metal. While not entirely bad, “Facing the Imminent Prospect of Death” is an album devoid of any originality and it is as vanilla as you can get.
Featuring the original Hatesphere singer Jacob Bredahl, this release indeed sound a bit like older Hatesphere without the constant improvement they offered through the years. The crunchy opening track “Death” delivers pretty solid riffing and a very catchy nature, but it kind of feels a bit cold for an opening track. The music gets a bit better in the next track, but it never really picks up. We have some nice powerful riffs that circle around the songs a bit too much and never really hooked us into liking the tracks.
Four years have passed since Nemeasea’s last album “In Control” and on this 2011 they return stronger than ever with the very well crafted “The Quiet Resistance” release. Morphing from a Symphonic Gothic Metal outfit to a more alternative and fresher Gothic Rock sound, the band manages to keep things ‘heavy’ and not sound overly Pop-ish like many Gothic Rock/Metal bands have been doing in the last years.
Lead by the charismatic and powerful vocals of Manda Ophuis, Nemesea’s sound has matured greatly over the years and now they deliver confident and efficient songs that go straight to the point and never get dull. The band’s alternative and almost mainstream sound is still on their own terms and they never sound like a mash up of Britney Spears with some distorted guitars thrown into the mix (hint: Amaranthe).
Playing something called “Bear Metal”, according to what the band says, Svölk delivers us their latest full-length release “Svölk ‘ Em All”. This release is basically their 2009 self-released debut but with three new songs. Through 12 tracks the band delivers a heavy dosage of Stoner Rock/Metal elements with some ‘Nordic redneck attitude’, but it still sounds just like any other Stoner Rock album.
With all the hundreds of Stoner Rock/ Metal albums that come out almost each day, it is very hard to keep listening to the same stuff and like all of it. While Svölk is undoubtedly a solid band and the songs in this album are pretty good, they can’t avoid sounding just like everybody else. The best thing we found about this release is that the band does not try to play (too much) the ‘Southern’ vibe in their music, but this might be what is coming in the future of this band.
As you probably know, we are huge Doom Metal fans, so every time a new release comes our way we prepare ourselves to fully enjoy one of our favorite genres in Metal. “Born from Shadows” marks the return of Isole after two years since releasing “Silent Ruins”. In this release the band finally fully convinces us by mixing slow and painful sections with a few speed-ups and harsh screams, a bit like My Dying Bride did in their past.
The repetitive and tuned low riffing is a must, and on “Born from Shadows” it is perfectly developed. With the opener “The Lake”, Isole quickly delivers dominating riffs paired with the epic vocals that we are not quite so fond, but in this release the band pulls them off perfectly. The speed up and harsh vocals section in this track is very nicely timed and works wonders to keep the song going for the seven minutes it lasts.
With its latest incarnation, Visions of Atlantis delivered earlier this year one of their best albums to date with “Delta”. In “Maria Magdalena” follows the same path of showing off the amazing vocal chemistry of Maxi Nil and Mario Plank. Featuring six songs, this new MCD will keep fans satisfied after listening to “Delta” hundreds of times.
The opening track of this release “Maria Magdalena” is a cover of 80’s synth-pop artist Sandra, and it is actually a pretty decent and listenable cover. The tempo of the song has been nicely increased and with added distorted guitars sounds like a million dollars. The duet between Mario and Maxi is very similar to the original song, but with that nice Metal edge we expect from this band. The catchy chorus section is also nicely transferred to the VoA sound.
Metal’s most original band in the last few years returns with yet another A Capella Power Metal release that will rattle your speakers since track one. “Break the Silence” marks the band’s fourth full-length album and also features a bit of a shift into more a ‘melodic’ sound. However, we are still treated to 40+ minutes of pure vocal brilliance and amazing melodic catchiness.
Opening with “If I Die in Battle”, the vocal powers of Philip Dennis Schunke and Inga Scharf lead the way over the amazing ‘vocal instruments’ that back them. In a ‘slower’ and more melodic way we have plenty of mmmmm’s that keep an epic feeling to the song and give it a darker edge. “The Seller of Souls” delivers a more ‘traditional’ Van Canto sound and leads the way for some powerful vocal bass line and some excellent vocal guitar sections. With a nice Power Metal feeling this song has nice choir sections and a very perky pace.
After multiple line-up changes, today we have the return of Hatesphere and their aggressive Thrash Metal sound, but now refined with a Hard Rock edge that makes them even better than before. Changing vocalist is a major move for any band, but Esse Hansen delivers powerful pipes that nicely fit the band’s evolved sound.
Through the nine tracks presented in “The Great Bludgeoning”, the band delivers powerful Thrash Metal anthems that sound very sophisticated and intriguing since they don’t seem to be ‘more of the same’ stuff we get with countless Thrash releases these days. With the powerful opener “The Killer”, we immediately listen to the different distortion and melodic nature of the guitar riffs, something very refreshing considering the band’s previous two releases sounded very similar to each other.
Dissection worshipers Thulcandra return with an even more impressive sophomore effort titled “Under a Frozen Sun”. In this release the band takes their amazing Dissection-influenced Death/Black Metal to new heights with seven crushing tracks and one cover song. If you thought that “Fallen Angel’s Dominion” was an excellent release, brace yourself since this new album will rip you a new one.
Opening with “In Blood and Fire”, the band will send shivers through your spine with the acoustic opening guitars. But once the powerful riffing starts, you will be hooked on this album like if it was your drug of choice. Steffen Kummerer does a great job in capturing that peculiar guitar sound from the early Dissection material and makes it his own with Thulcandra’s band of hectic and guitar driven Black/Death Metal.
Two years have passed after their impressive “Goi, Rode, Goi!” album and Arkona is finally back with an even better release names “Slovo”. Featuring even more engaging Pagan/Folk Metal compositions, the Russian quintet keeps improving in astronomical proportions compared to their earlier material. “Slovo” delivers a hefty dose of both beautiful Folk and aggressive compositions that deserve to be heard.
Just as “Az’” opens this release, we start getting a natural high of epic elements thanks to the excellent instrumentation and the crystal clear production behind this release. Not wasting any time, “Arkaim” delivers powerful Black Metal-esque opening riffs and transforms into lush vocal arrangements. Masha’s clean vocals are mesmerizing and when paired with the choir, they just sound even more dominant.
As a clear example of finding a formula that works and sticking with it until you bore people to death, today we have Svartsot’s latest release “Maledictus Eris”. In this album the band takes a step backward from a promising career to a limbo-like place where they play the same song over and over for a whole album.
In a completely different way than on their previous release “Mulmets Viser”, Svartsot lacks imagination and direction in “Maledictus Eris”. We might venture to say that is the relatively short time between albums (one year give or take), but the band makes a very poor effort in changing things up and creating something worth purchasing, especially with the overcrowded Folk/Viking/Pagan Metal scene these days.