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.
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.