The Swedish Psychedelic rockers of Witchcraft are finally back after five years since their last release, with a heavy hitting album titled “Legend”. In this highly anticipated release the band delivers nine tracks of excellent Psychedelic Rock that will propel them back into the top ranks of this re-emerging genre. Labeled as one of the bands that propelled the revival of the genre back in the mid 2000’s, Witchcraft shows their musical quality in every compelling song that they present in this release.
Featuring a heavier sound since the opener “Deconstruction”, the band delivers powerful Doom-ish riffs that are nicely adorned by Magnus Pelander’s excellent vocals. The Psychedelic vibe is immediately present with the funky guitar work and the drumming nicely rounds things up. Things really pick-up with the super catchy “It’s Not Because Of You”, indeed a very well-crafted track that features excellent vocals, intricate guitar work, and a super catchy chorus section. There is no doubt that this track is the indisputable first single of the release.
After the half-assed “The Formation of Damnation”, Chuck Billy and company return with what is probably the best Testament album since “The Legacy” (well… maybe “Low” for us). With “Dark Roots of Earth”, the band gets the excellent drummer Gene Hoglan back and together with the mastermind behind the production of some of the best albums in the past few years, Andy Sneap, they deliver nine amazing Thrash Metal anthems with a splash of modern elements, but nothing too flashy or fancy to divert from the main genre.
Blowing the listener away with the high-octane “Rise Up”, Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick deliver a powerful riffing onslaught that we haven’t heard in quite a while from Testament. Chuck Billy’s vocals are as always very traditional and James Hetfield sounding. Stepping things up with “Native Blood”, the drumming finally resonates with some excellent sections in the songs chorus part. The weird mood changes in “Dark Roots of Earth” make this song sound like something that Megadeath would have released back in the “Youthanasia” era, but with better guitar solos.
Continuing with their high-spirited Folk Metal music, today we have Korpiklaani and their latest opus titled “Manala”. Cranking out thirteen songs (including the bonus track) of uber catchy music, it is very cool to see that the band kept the creative juices flowing and managed to deliver another excellent album one year after the release of their previous one. Featuring a darker (and probably deeper) edge to their lyrical concept, the band has crafted a release that will surely please most of the older fans of the band and while not featuring their traditional ‘drinking song’, the cheerful spirit of the band is equally present in this release.
“Kunnia” gives way to this release with the typical up-beat Folk approach that has made the band world-know and has kept them as one of the best in the genre. The singing is very well crafted and nicely fits every mood transmitted by the band. The instrumentation is excellently selected and never abused, allowing the hard-rocking sound of the guitars to be enjoyed without any distractions. Things get a bit more powerful with “Tuonelan Tuvilla” thanks to the heavy guitars, with the violin nicely complementing them.
Our initial impression of the latest ‘Rhapsody’ (Luca Turilli’s incarnation of it) is HOLY SHIT. The man has shown over the years that he is a brilliant musician and with the ridiculously over the top “Ascending to Infinity” he answers to all the skeptics a big: I am Rhapsody. Featuring nine brilliant tracks of Symphonic Metal, this is one of those albums that you need to hear at least 100 times to fully discover all the little details and brilliance behind it.
After the epic mood –setter “Quantum X”, things blow up with the playful “Ascending to Infinity”. In this track, the guitars are flowing, the orchestral arrangements are very classical sounding, but Alessandro Conti’s vocals steal the show. Coming from the relatively unknown band “Trick or Treat”, this new singer delivers every single line to perfection. The over the top feeling is not saturated as with other overly ambitious bands, and the tempo changes are very well crafted.
Delivering an excellent hard rocking release, today we have Sweden’s Crucified Barbara and their third full-length release “The Midnight Chase”. Featuring eleven songs of Hard Rock with some Metal elements, this release is very well written and extremely catchy. The band’s attitude since the opener “The Crucifier” is very determinate and quite effective in delivering powerful Thrashy riffs with more traditional drum structures.
Mia Coldheart’s vocals are raspy enough to have that early Motorhead vibe, giving the band’s sound that old-school vibe that other bands would kill for. The melodic aspect of the band’s music is also quite excellent, on tracks like “Shut Your Mouth”, and “Into the Fire” there are very cool melodic passages that add diversity to the band’s sound. The tempo changes like on “Rules and Bones” add depth to the band’s musical arsenal, but ultimately the killer guitars and catchy lyrics are what make the songs an excellent listening experience.
The everlasting Nile returns to us this 2012 with yeah another dose of extremely brutal Death Metal with hints of Middle Eastern influences. While we loved “Those Whom The Gods Detest”, this release feels too much like a continuation of that album and nothing else. The production of this release makes the guitars sound a bit weird (very thin in a way), the bass guitar is very hard to find, the drums are a bit drowned in the mix, and only highlights the vocals (both growls and clean ones), making for a unique but weird listening experience.
The hyper-fast “Enduring the Eternal Molestation of Flame” opens the musical onslaught with great brutality and crushing riffs (that sound a bit weird). The hellish different vocal layers are pretty demonic sounding, and the overall drumming is actually quite good, but it sometimes gets lost behind the growls. There is no doubt that there are some excellent technical sections in this track, but there is nothing new to show when compared to their previous release.
After their ridiculously awesome “Blood of the Nations” return, Accept set the bar very high for themselves and with “Stalingrad” they actually manage to match it. For over 50 minutes and ten tracks, one of the biggest names in Heavy Metal manages to deliver one powerful song after another one in the same vein as their previous release that introduced Mark Tornillo on vocals.
Since the opener “Hung Drawn and Quartered” we get to enjoy Wolf Hoffmann’s excellent riffing skills alongside Mark’s impressive vocals. The band keeps the momentum going by crafting super catchy chorus sections and a very strong drumming foundation for the track. The first undisputed anthem of this album is the title track “Stalingrad”. The band fuses their traditional approach with some melodic sections and a catchy chorus section that nicely pace this hard rocking song.
The ever changing Sonata Arctica finally returns after three years with another exciting (and different sounding) release titled “Stones Grow Her Name”. After listening to this album, we are sure the remaining purist fans of the older Sonata Arctica will surely shy away, and the ones that like their more recent musical direction (like us) will surely love in an instant.
Sonata Arctica is not afraid to move away of their comfort zone, and with each of their latest releases they have been experimenting and delivering excellent music that has changed the ways people perceive the band. In “Stones Grow Her Name”, the band explores more traditional songs as well as some very different tracks that at a first glance will make you think WTF.
After their epic-as-fuck release “Coat of Arms”, our favorite war inspired Power Metal band returns with the awesome “Carolus Rex”. Arriving in both English and Swedish versions, this release is a worthy continuation of their impressive back catalogue of releases keeping things nearly identical to their past releases, but with an even more epic atmosphere.
Sabaton in a certain way is very similar to Amon Amarath, they both found a niche were they are the best and very slowly keep adding minimal things to their sound to make it even more impressive. Opening with the very epic and full of choir sections, “The Lion from the North” (after the traditional filler intro track), Sabaton instantly sets the mood for such an excellent release. “Gott Mit Uns” delivers waves of powerful guitar riffs and Joakim Brodén’s excellent vocals.
Continuing on the concept brought forth on “As Yggdrasil Trembles”, Unleashed delivers their every two years release with “Odalheim”. As one of the forefathers of Viking Metal, Unleashed keeps bringing it every time they release an album and with the high-intensity of “Odalheim” they keep maintaining their aggressive-yet-melodic brand of DM that many bands wish they could play.
Blasting through their opener “Fimbulwinter”, this release is off to a great start with fast riffing, blistering drumming and the always effective vocals of Hedlund. The riffing courtesy of the band’s longstanding guitarists Anders Schultz and Tomas Olsson nicely switches band from high-powered Viking Metal sections and some barebones DM chugs. It is very surprising to see that the band has not had any line-up changes in years and it shows in the overall quality and tightness of their music.