Marking the return of the most epic band in the Metal universe, today we have Sabaton and their latest release “Heroes”. As the first Swedish Metal band to achieve platinum sales (in Sweden) with their previous release “Carolus Rex”, the band lives up to the expectations with ten excellent songs in this release. Characterized by their intensity and their very lively songs about war and history, Sabaton is one of those bands that immediately lights up a room with their unique music.
Jumping immediately with the intoxicating “Night Witches”, the band continues the certain heroic vibe they transmit with their music. Joakim Brodén’s charismatic vocals are perfectly crafted for such intense music filled with quality arrangements and brilliant tempo changes. With Joakim and Pär Sundström being the only remaining original members of the band, the new guys are perfectly incorporated into the Sabaton ethos and you can instantly appreciate it on songs like “No Bullets Fly”, “Smoking Snakes” and the dramatic “Inmate 4859” – one of our favorites in this release.
As one of the most anticipated Nuclear Blast releases of 2014, Epica returns with their sixth studio album titled “The Quantum Enigma”. Led by the charismatic Simone Simmons and the very active Mark Jansen, the band delivers another outstanding release filled with bombastic and explosive tracks that takes the band to new musical heights. With over 69 minutes of music, this is one release that no fan of the genre will want to miss.
Opening with the lush arrangements of “Originem”, the album slowly transitions in to the very heavy “The Second Stone”. In this song we have the traditional catchy vocal melodies, but the band added an extra level of aggression with more powerful guitars and blistering solos, elements that greatly complement the band’s signature sound. The band’s excellent choir arrangements are perfectly complemented in tracks that have more teeth and will surely take fans by surprise, like the groovy “The Essence of Silence”.
Returning with a renovated sense of freshness and energy, today we have Sonata Arctica and their eight full-length release: “Pariah’s Child”. Going back to the band’s roots, this release is both extremely catchy and very basic in terms of Power Metal. Filled with superb melodic passages and captivating lead vocals, this is the album all fans of the band have been waiting for years.
The band kicks off with the playful “The Wolves Die Young” and “Running Lights”, two extremely catchy tracks that delivers the old sound the band used to have. The music feels like a jump in time to the days of “Tallulah”, “Shamandalie” and the killer “Paid In Full”. Filled with lush atmospheric passages, “Take One Breath” nicely features all the best elements that Power Metal and Sonata Arctica have to offer. With the band refining their skills over the years, they function now as a perfectly well-oiled machine.
As one of the most extreme releases of 2014, today we have Carnifex and their crushing “Die Without Hope” release. Three years have passed since the band’s last effort and today we have them with their most mature and polished released to date. Evolving away from your cookie cutter Deathcore, Carnifex manages to deliver 10 brutal tracks filled with epic orchestrations, massive drumming, and crushing vocals.
Wasting no time, “Salvation is Dead” produces some demoralizing Death Metal riffs that will crush anybody’s doubts of this band. The growls/shrieks of Scott Lewis are as brutal as they come and they greatly enhance the overall violence portrayed in the band’s sound. The band’s sound is 100 times darker on songs like “Dark Days”, where they exploit perfectly constructed orchestrations and keyboards to contrast their relentless riffing. There is also a certain melodic edge to the music that we found quite refreshing.
After a long album cycle with the last Epica release, Mark Jansen returns with his Symphonic Death Metal outfit MaYaN and their sophomore release “Antagonise”. In a release that is larger than life, we find ourselves somewhat lost with how many different elements and styles are put together in this album. While not being bad, but confusing and sometimes a bit dull, this is a most have release for any fans of Jansen’s previous work after a few listens to settle things in.
The album kicks off with the Death Metal riffing intensity of “Bloodline Forfeit”, with the heavy elements getting offset by Henning Basse’s commanding vocals. The album keeps rolling filled with lush orchestrations in dramatic tracks like “Burn Your Witches”, “Redemption – The Democracy Illusions”, and “Paladins of Deceit”, all of these tracks follow the same formula with some Epica elements bleeding into some of the aspects of the music.
With Psychedelic/Retro/Progressive Rock popping out of every corner, The Vintage Caravan comes to shine with their electrifying release “Voyage”. Riding on the success of acts like Kadavar, Graveyard, Witchcraft, The Blues Pills, Nuclear Blast unleashes upon the world another release filled with fuzzy retro amps and trippy melodic passages. Hailing from Iceland, this young band has a certain edge that propels to the spotlight and you will surely get intoxicated by it.
The band catchy mixture of Progressive and Psychedelic Rock is immediately felt on the opener “Craving”. The signature vocals of Óskar Logi Ágústsson have that certain Axl Rose (in his good times) ring to them and fit the music quite perfectly. Showcasing different abilities in the crafty songs, we have magical shredding on “Let Me Be”, mellow vocal melodies on “Do You Remember”, as well as intricate bass guitar lines on “Expand Your Mind”.
After a very promising and fresh sounding EP titled “Paradise (What About Us?)”, Within Temptation finally unleashes their latest full-length “Hydra”. In this release the band continues their push for mainstream recognition and glory with some extremely unexpected collaborations and a handful of songs that still remind us of the older roots of the band’s beginnings.
The album opens with the final version of “Let Us Burn”, a track that is still as good and efficient as on their previous EP but with nice finishing touches. The band manages to sound like their old self with heavy guitars and lush orchestrations. The first guest appearance is marked by the vocals of Howard Jones on “Dangerous”. This track is quite heavy and enjoyable since both vocalists do a great job and the music is quite well developed.
Filmed at Wacken Open Air Festival in front of 85,000 fans, Nightwish brings us hands down the most complete and well-crafted live release of 2013. Directed by Ville Lipiäinen, this is one hell of a release that brings to life the band’s amazing live chemistry and unrivaled showmanship. Filled with all of the band’s hit songs, this release will impress any fan of the band and will surely convince anybody that is skeptical about Floor Jansen’s place in the band.
Opening with two of our favorite songs of the band “Dark Chest of Wonders” and “I Wish I Had an Angel”, Floor will immediately blow all the non-believers away with her commanding presence and ownership of these classic Nightwish songs. With the backdrop of 85,000 people at Wacken, this release really brings the viewer into the meat of things and gives the vibrant experience of being at the festival minus the mud, standing for hours, and sweaty Metalheads bumping into you.
Released as a deluxe hardcover book with 2 DVDs or 2 Blu-rays and 3 CDs, “Retrospect” marks the band’s 10 year anniversary with an amazing performance with more than 70 musicians on stage with the Reményi Ede Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of Miskolc National Theatre. This release features a massive 180+ minutes of material, perfect for any diehard fan of the band.
Since the first disc, the band takes the stage with a commanding presence led by Simone Simmons and Mark Jansen. The choir arrangements are amazing and all the band’s hits are delivered with perfect execution. With an impressive stage and a fired up crowd since the first minute, this live release perfectly captures the experience of watching Epica live and the incredible intensity of all band members.
Being huge fans of the band’s earlier material from their “Enter” and “The Dance” days, we constantly grew apart from their Pop-ish music over the last few years. While they have some great songs here and there, most of their ‘mainstream’ recent music has not impressed us much. Well, with the EP “Paradise (What About Us?)” we are quite surprised that the band returns to some of their earlier foundations (“Mother Earth”) and delivers quite an excellent short release.
The immediate standout is the EP’s title-track, featuring an amazing duet with none other than Tarja Turunen. In this high-intensity tune the band busts out the heavy distorted guitars and excellent atmospheric arrangements. Both Sharon and Tarja do an excellent job in this track making it quite dramatic and intense. The music is nowhere near as Pop-ish as bands like Amaranthe, making us quite enjoy this song. With the remaining tracks being demo versions, we still stand to see how much they change for the actual album, but for now we will focus on how good they are.