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.
Hailing from Iceland, today we have Skálmöld and their debut album “Baldur”. Having signed to Napalm Records, it shows some signs of the quality of this fairly unknown band. When Folk/Viking Metal bands are a dime a dozen, it is nice to hear some bands that have something else to bring to the table and Skálmöld does a good job in leaving us with a promising debut album.
Mixing many different influences into their music, the first thing to standout is that almost no song in this release sounds a like. The band mixes catchy choir-like sections, engaging guitar solos and powerful riffing to perfection and creates a very epic and untraditional atmosphere that will surely appeal to fans of the genre that are tired of bands playing the same thing over and over.
The super talented Marcela Bovio returns with another outstanding Stream of Passion release. “Darker Days” as the title mentions, has a darker and more bombastic feeling than the band’s previous effort. This release shows a much more compact and well integrated band than the previous release as all 13 tracks are beautifully composed.
Never selling out, Stream of Passion has not dared to go into the more profitable (and popular) ‘Pop Metal’ realms, and with “Darker Days” they will surely establish themselves as one of the premiere Gothic Metal bands. With the emotional opener “Lost”, you quickly know this album will surely be a great trip. This song presents nice arrangements, hefty doses of powerful guitar riffs and (of course) beautiful vocals.
After a few years of the release of “Turning Season Within”, Draconian finally makes their return with another crushing release: “A Rose for the Apokalypse”. With a considerable increase in maturity, the band crafts 10 tracks of the best Gothic Doom Metal in the scene. It is highly un-likely that any other band will rival the quality of this release in 2011.
Always characterized by the ‘beauty and the beast’-style vocal struggle between Anders Jacobsson and Lisa Johansson, the band builds up on their depressive sound and adds extra elements that make this release even more punishing and beautiful. With a powerful opening, “The Drowning Age” delivers the first blow of brilliance presented in this release. As the song progresses it nicely mellows to clean/harsh/female vocals and engaging guitar riffing.
The Progressive Viking Metal kings mark their return with “The Lay of Thrym”, and as we can hear it is a pretty convincing one indeed. Two years have passed since “By the Light of the Northern Star”, and with this new album the band picks-up exactly where they left of and continue their onslaught with very well crafted Viking epics.
If you are not a stranger to Týr’s older works, you will definitely love “The Lay of Thrym”, however, if you are new to the band, this will be a very good introduction into the magical sound behind this very talented band. In the 10 tracks presented in this release, we are treated to very intricate guitar work, catchy clean vocals, and full songs that grab your attention and keep it for the duration of the release.
The Scottish Pirates are finally back with another epic of pirates, wenches, and drinking, but they seemed to have added time travel to the equation this time. In “Back through Time”, Alestorm delivers 11 tracks of exactly the same thing they have been doing for the last past years: catchy, wacky, and irreverent Pirate Metal.
We all know that the band is not the most talented one when it comes to making the most complicated and elaborated songs out there, but they have managed to find a niche that allows them to be enjoyed by thousands of Metalheads (including us). If you are not aware of the band’s previous releases, this is a band you will either love or hate, no middle ground.