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.
Canadian Extreme Death Metal masters return after three years with the devastating “Waiting for the End to Come”. Being one of the most representative Metal bands in Canada, Kataklysm returns in full force with one of their most brutal releases in over a decade. Filled with 45 minutes of neck-snapping music, this release will surely bring back memories of the band’s heavier and more extreme beginnings, but with their more modern and more polished elements from their latest releases.
The album starts on a high note with the pummeling “Fire”. In this song we get a melodic intro that slowly progresses into full-on destructive mode with incisive riffs and punishing drums courtesy of newcomer Olivier Beaudoin. The Kataklysm signature sound is intact with hyper-fast sections and the killer vocals of Maurizio Iacono. Blending proficient songwriting with technical abilities, the band cruises through intense tunes like “If I Was God – I’d Burn It All”, “Like Animals”, and the brilliant “Kill the Elite”.
Delivering another brilliant onslaught of aggressive and catchy songs, today we have Sepultura and their latest release “The Mediator between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart”. With over 45 minutes of their signature sound, the band goes throw a wide variety of equally intoxicating tunes that will have all fans headbaning from beginning to end, and puzzling some with a few unconventional (for Sepultura) songs. With the band’s ‘new’ drummer, Eloy Casagrande, fully incorporated with the band, this is one release you don’t want to miss.
Opening with the powerful “Trauma of War”, we get the full-blown Seputural treatment with incisive riffs and pummeling vocals. The first unconventional song comes under the title of “The Vatican”, featuring very dark and sinister orchestrations to open. This reminded us a bit of Dimmu Borgir and Fleshgod Apocalypse thanks to how dramatic the song starts before it kicks off into full-on Sepultura mode with some pounding guitars and killer drumming. The tribal-esque drumming returns in “Impending Doom” and “The Bliss of Ignorants”, making these tracks very characteristic of the band.
Five years have passed since Satyricon’s last album, “The Age of Nero”, and people are still not fully over the fact that the band has left their more direct Black Metal style of “Nemesis Divina” back in the closet. For those of you that have kept up with the band’s musical evolution, “Satyricon” is a release that follows the same path and delivers a very unique mixture of Black’n’Roll with strong Black Metal roots and a sick guitar-driven atmosphere. The vocals are Satyr’s signature style, but the music is a bit on the darker and gloomier side, similar to his side project Wongraven, minus the folk-ish elements.
Opening with the instrumental “Voice of Shadows”, we are treated to solid and devilish sounding guitar melodies. As “Tro og Kraft” rolls by, we got a very Storm/Wongraven vibe from how the guitars create melodic passages alongside Satyr’s BM snarls. The drumming is superb, what else can you expect from Frost, and nicely gives the music an aggressive edge, on a slower tempo. Typical Black Metal structures are very evident on “Our World It Rumbles Tonight” but with a certain slower pace, this helps create a very unique and unraveling atmosphere that only a few Black’n’Roll bands manage to achieve.
Having waited since 1996 for this, we are quite impressed on how Carcass manages to bring back their best sound from the “Heartwork” and “Necroticism” and give it a certain modern kick. While fans of the band’s early material (“Reek of Putrefaction” and “Symphonies of Sickness”) will keep on hating for the band’s more ‘mellow’ music, anybody that got over this on the course of the last 20 years should definitely enjoy “Surgical Steel”. Jeff Walker and Billy Steer manage to keep the Carcass legacy intact with this excellent album.
The opener “1985” gives us a 70 second window into the riffing onslaught that this release will unleash upon the listeners. As “Thrasher’s Abattoir” blasts away, we are immediately immersed into the Carcass sound that we all love: Melodic/Thrash-y Death Metal at its finest. With the band being a huge catalyst for bands back in the 90’s to try new things and re-define the genre, they manage to capture that timeless sound and packaged with an up-to-date production and mixing.
After a long year of fronting Nighwish, today we have Floor Jansen’s band ReVamp and their sophomore release “Wild Card”. Being the charismatic and unique vocalist she is, Floor manages to make this album very special and quite engaging from beginning to end. Coming back after being sick for a while, inspiration was drawn from this period of her life, thus making this release very emotional and personal.
Opening with the first part of the trilogy “The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown” – “On the Sideline”, ReVamp starts in very high spirits with powerful guitars and the incomparable vocal leads of Floor. There are some growls thrown here and there, giving the song that extra aggressive kick. The trilogy continues with the more modern sounding “Lymbic System”, a track that has some of that Groove Metal vibe mixed with the lush keyboards and well-crafted drums.
Bigger, better, quicker, and more grandiose seems to be the objective of Fleshgod Apocalypse and their monumental release “Labyrinth”. Having blown people away with the combination of dramatic orchestrations and extreme technical abilities in “Agony”, the band is ready to deliver an even more impressive and monumental release with this album.
The album kicks off with dramatic operatic vocal arrangements and over the top orchestrations on “Kingborn”. This single opening makes the last Dimmu Borgir album sound like a bunch of kids playing with Protools. In this track the band also delivers their signature Technical Death Metal with hyper fast riffs and killer drumming. “Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon)” eases into the picture with a more standard approach featuring killer growls mixed into the rich sound of the band. Don’t be fooled since there are also plenty of memorable melodic passages mixed in between all the brutal sections and lush arrangements.
Morten Veland and company have returned with a very powerful and engaging Sirenia release under the name of “Perils of the Deep Blue”. In this release we see the band going a bit back in time and bringing back some of the elements that made “Nine Destinies and a Downfall” one of their best releases six years ago. Featuring 11 tracks of majestic Symphonic/Gothic Metal, the band is seriously gunning for Epica’s crown in this genre.
After the lush and dramatic mood-setting opener “Ducere Me In Lucem”, the band really comes alive with the super catchy “Seven Windows Weep”. In this track we get lush choir arrangements to accompany Ailyn’s hypnotic vocals. With over the top orchestrations, this track and “My Destiny Coming To Pass” really set a very dynamic and overpowering atmosphere. The band also focuses on staying heavy, featuring powerful riffs and aggressive growls.
Finally returning to their days of glory, today we have Children of Bodom and their most cohesive release since “Hate Crew Deathroll”. With “Halo of Blood” the band returns to their playful and skillful entertaining music that is both technically proficient and quite catchy. Having tanked their last 3 releases, it is quite refreshing to hear the band going a bit back to their roots and re-capturing the elements that made them the successful band they are now.
With the opener “Waste of Skin”, the band instantly delivers their signature CoB sound with catchy keyboards and excellent lead guitars. Once the rhythmic guitars come in, the song already hooked you because of its catchiness. Alexi Laiho’s solos are as good as in the past, and the overall musical experience greatly brought us memories of when we first listened to the band in the past.