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.
Few months before the release of their sixth full-length album, the Russian guys of the Pagan/Folk Metal Arkona decided to keep listeners a little taste of their new release with the EP “Stenka na Stenku”. In this release we have one song from the upcoming album, and five more previously unreleased tracks. The EP features just enough material to keep the band’s hordes of fans happy until their new full-length.
Opening the EP we have “Stenka Na Stenku”, a very dynamic track that shows the wide spectrum of elements that comprise the band’s sound. Masha’s vocals are as excellent as always and the festive feeling to the song makes it a very catchy and effective Pagan/Folk Metal piece. The accordion-like keyboards are very well fitting in this awesome song.
After their over-produced previous release “Njord”, I was hopping to see the band bouncing back with a more natural and real sound. To my surprise, Leaves’ Eyes did exactly this with “Meredead”. In this album we are treated to 12 tracks of beautiful sounding music (and no over production) that will surely remind you of a ‘modernized’ version of “Vinland Saga” (my favorite album of the band).
Opening with the majestic “Spirit’s Masquerade”, the band will blow you away with lush choir arrangements and powerful guitars. Liv’s voice is as amazing as ever and in this song it’s very nicely surrounded by the choir and string instruments, this song alone made me forget about “Njord” instantly. The chorus section of “Étaín” makes this song very enjoyable and a very typical Leaves’ Eyes styled song.
Three years after the release of their sophomore album “Nordlys”, Midnattsol returns with their masterful Gothic Metal release “The Metamorphosis Melody”. Providing over 55 minutes of music, the band shows more signs of maturity and the abilitie to create very effective songs.
Driven by the enchanting vocals of Carmen Elise Espenæs, the album opens with the album title track and you can quickly hear the massive guitar sound (for a Gothic Metal band) being surrounded by magical keyboards. Since the first song we can hear the excellent production behind this release and the raw power that the band tries to transmit with their sound.