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.
Returning to their old ways after the so-so “Massive Aggressive”, Municipal Waste delivers “The Fatal Feast”. As a huuuuuge improvement over their previous album, this release features 16 solid tracks that cover everything between crossover, thrash, d-beat, and punk. For a span of 40 minutes the band will dominate the listener with a combination of their timeless sound and their ‘balls to the wall’ intensity.
Now signed to Nuclear Blast, Municipal Waste quickly jumps into action with the Punk/Thrash track “Repossession”. On one side of this release you have a hefty dosage of Thrash elements on tracks like “New Dead Masters”, “Crushing Chest Wound”, and “Death Tax”, there are also plenty of Punkier songs like “Unholy Abductor”, “You’re Cut Off” and “12 Step Program”, and completing the release you have the remaining tracks featuring the Municipal Waste Crossover sound that we all love from the band’s latest releases.
After the excellent “ObZen”, Meshuggah returns with their latest epic “Koloss”. In this the release not only the band builds on previous work, but it also improves their sound in a manner that makes it more accessible to people and still equally technical and brilliant. Pummeling through 10 tracks of brilliant music, this is a release that shows how well the band has matured and how much better they are than the rest of their clones.
Opening with the ‘slower paced’ “I am Colossus”, the band makes their signature sound present since the opening minute. The brilliantly crafted drums, crazy rhythms, and strong vocals immediately identifies the band, and delivers a very strong opening track. Things start picking up with “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance”, “Do Not Look Down”, and “Behind the Sun”, all songs filled with polyrhythmic structures and very interesting elements that makes the unique and different from each other.
As one of the band’s most elaborate and grandiose albums, today we have Epica’s highly awaited “Requiem for the Indifferent”. Packing in around 71 minutes of music in 13 tracks, this release is by far the band’s most musically ambitious release to date. While marinating their traditional Gothic/Symphonic Metal approach, Epica manages to incorporate Progressive elements into their already excellent sound, and end up with a release that is as complex as it is long.
In a similar fashion to MaYaN’s “Quarterpast”, this release requires more than a few spins before it really starts to sink in and you will start to enjoy it. While we think it is great that a band is making an effort in growing as musicians and making their sound a bit more complex, this might also alienate some fans that just like plain bombastic songs they can cheer/headbang to. “Requiem for the Indifferent” is not all very complex, but it feels like much more of an effort has to be put to it to be really enjoyed.
After their highly popular and very well crafted “Everything Remains as It Never Was”, Eluveitie returns with another dosage of ….more of the same. If you liked the previous release, “Helvetios” will feel very familiar and you will surely enjoy it as a worthy continuation. However, if you are looking for something different this is not the place to look for it.
Don’t get us wrong, Eluveitie’s music is very well crafted and enjoyable but after 4-5 songs we find ourselves wondering if they all have been the same. In “Helvetios” we noticed the traditional structure of all Eluveitie albums and some songs like “Scorched Earth” are nice to change the monotony of the release, but then they are followed by tracks like “Meet the Enemy” that are just more of the same.
In a time when all the Technical Death Metal bands are graded base on how many notes they can whip out in the least amount of time, it is nice to listen to a band that actual focuses on how well the songs listen and structures them around melody and not technical level. Australia’s Psycroptic presents us their fifth full-length release “The Inherited Repression” with a high level of maturity and musicianship.
Pummeling through nine tracks, “The Inherited Repression” keeps the focus on the melodic aspect of things and the nice technical details are mostly playful elements that increase the band’s appeal. With some hints of the great Death, the band delivers waves of excellently crafted riffs and a less annoying version of Chuck Schuldiner-styled vocals. This is immediately evident with the opener “Carriers of the Plague”, a track where the guitar work is very elaborate but the song is also very catchy and effective. We particularly love the melodic passages that get repeated through the song, and the massive drumming as well.
It has been four years since the last Pop Metal installment of Nightwish with “Dark Passion Play”. With Anette Olzon finally incorporated into the band’s sound, Nightwish delivers a pretty decent effort with some ‘real Nightwish’ songs and some other ‘money making Nightwish’ tracks. There is a clear distinction between the songs that have more metal structures and the ones that are just to make the teenyboppers jump up and down.
The whole super pretentious concept of having a movie made for “Imaginaerum” and crap like that just shows that the band is moving into very self-indulgent territories. However, the music behind this “Imaginaerum” stuff is not quite bad, and many will be shocked to actually read this, so please bear with us. The opener song “Storytime” immediately induces some gag reflex from us when we first heard it and its crack-induced music video. The track is very bland and capitalizes on the heavy guitars with catchy vocal melodies format, something that Amaranthe made us hate this 2011. this song also sounds very much like anything else from “Dark Passion Play”.
Rounding up the year, we are treated with a great live album of one of our favorite bands: Sonata Arctica. In “Live in Finland”, the band delivers a massive package for fans with 2 DVD’s featuring live performances in Finland (of course!!) and two bonus CD’s featuring select tracks from these performances (which is what we are reviewing).
In the first CD, we have a total of 14 tracks that range from some of the band’s latest tracks from the album “The Days of Grays” to some of their biggest hits like “Paid in Full”. Through this album we get to listen to Tony’s excellent voice shine in the live setting and the band showing their skills when playing each intricate song. Being a live CD, the only drawback is that the crowd interaction is in Suomi, but this can add and authentic feeling for some people.
Continuing on the right path after their very impressive release “Diabolical Figures”, today we have Graveworm and their latest opus “Fragments of Death”. Most of the Gothic Metal pleasantries away, “Fragments of Death” delivers 11 punishing tracks of very well balanced Death/Black Metal with a high melodic content, but always aggressive enough to make your speakers explode.
Opening with the high intensity “Insomnia”, the band shows fierce Death Metal influences with a nice Melodic edge in terms of riffing and some atmospheric keyboards. Stefan’s vocals are as good as always and his mixture between growls and shrieks is just excellent. The melodic/brutal assault continues with the ‘slower’ “Only Death in our Wake”, but quickly picks up with some excellent chorus section on “Absence of Faith”. In this track, the melody makes a huge different in making a repetitive song very catchy and powerful. Some sections in this track even feel a bit like their sound back on “As the Angels Reach the Beauty” but will less flair.