There is a certain magical rawness to South American Black Metal release that is missing from bands from other parts of the world. In this vein, today we have Peru’s Sign of the Evil and their crushing full-length debut “Black Throne of Blood”. Delivering over 30 minutes of blistering and ravaging Black Metal, this album perfectly balances rawness with a small dose of melody to keep things interesting and engaging.
After the atmospheric intro, the band delivers their first blow with the pummeling “Black Throne of Blood”. This track reminds us of bands like Avzhia and their primitive Black Metal rawness. The onslaughts continue with the brutality of “Demoniac War” and “Christian Blood for Satan”, both filled with tremolo picking guitar passages and hellish subhuman vocals.
Hands down the most emotionally draining album of 2016 has to be Trees of Eternity’s debut full-length release “Hour of the Nightingale”. Filled with lush Atmospheric/Gothic Doom songs, this release is nearly as emotional as its back story. After a few years in limbo and a bit too late for some, released under Svart records, this release will definitely crawl up under your skin and fill you with melancholy.
Opening with Swallow the Sun-esque heavy riffs, “My Requiem” sets the listener into an emotional journey for over 62 minutes of unparalleled melancholy. As the band’s singer Aleah Stanbridge first showcases her vocal talents, the music quickly becomes even darker and more emotive. Unluckily for the world, Aleah’s talents will no longer be present as she passed before the release of this album. However, her presence in this release at least shines light of her talents and dedication to the band.
As one of the biggest surprises of 2016, today we have the return of Madder Mortem and their whacky Progressive Metal with “Red in Tooth and Claw”. Always hard to peg down and describe, this Norwegian band has consistently released very unique album and with this one they sound as crazy as ever. Delivering over 50 minutes of music, this release was definitely worth the 6 year wait.
Opening with the funky “Blood on the Sand” we are instantly transported to the band’s unique musical world. Agnete’s signature vocals perfectly lead this very engaging track that features tons of odd tempo changes and has a certain circus vibe to it. The madness continues in very different shapes as “If I could” and “Fallow Season” deliver funkadelic rhythms and very playful combinations of intricate bass guitar lines and heavy riffs.
Leveling everything on their path, today we have Neurosis and their devastating release “Fires within Fires”. Unleashed after a period of high activity from the band which saw them tour the world with handpicked 30 years anniversary shows, this release delivers over 40 minutes of soul crushing music. Featuring five songs, the album will satisfy any follower of the band and “power of the riff” connoisseurs.
Ripping things wide open with the relentless riffing of “Bending Light”, the band starts on a high note with massive walls of sound and the signature Neurosis vocal attack. Going into more hypnotic territories with the tribal-influenced “A Shadow Memory”, Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till continue their riffing onslaught in this punishing song. The atmospheric elements, courtesy of Noah Landis, in “Fire is the End Lesson” make this track one of our favorite ones.
Hailing from the Netherlands, today we have extremely promising Progressive Metal outfit Armed Cloud and their debut release “Obsidian Desert”. Featuring over 57 of music, this release is both engaging a very technically proficient, showcasing the band’s songwriting skills and instrument abilities. Recommended for fans of bands like Circus Maximus, Ayreon, and Pain of Salvation, this release will keep you entertained for a while.
Opening with the playful title-track, the band instantly sets a very mellow mood filled with intricate details. This song showcases Daan Dekker’s excellent vocals and the tight percussions of Rico Noijen. Getting a good vocalist is vital for Prog bands and Daan does a great job in pieces like “Wound Healer” and the dramatic “In your Mind”.
Six years after their brilliant sophomore release “Falling Mist”, today we have Heaven Grey’s latest opus “Manuscriptum”. As one of the hidden Baltic gems of Gothic/Doom Metal bands (Frailty is another one), the band delivers nine excellent tracks of melancholic music which show the band’s musical evolution over the years.
Opening with the dramatic atmospheric intro of “Insomnia”, the band nicely settles with some melancholic riffs and very well crafted tempo changes. This track perfectly sets a very mellow and depressive mood that is nicely enhanced by the excellent clean vocals of the band’s new singer Artūrs Fishers. Mixing clean and harsh vocal styles, tracks like “Drown in My Shade” and “Sirds Balss” showcase a perfect balance and great complementarity between the styles.
Arriving from the UK, today we have Abandoned Stars and their brilliant debut full-length release “Fragments”. Featuring over 64 minutes of bombastic and acrobatic Progressive/Power Metal, this band makes a strong impression with great musicianship and even better song writing skills. For fans of bands like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, and Stratovarius, “Fragments” is one hell of a musical ride that should be in everybody’s album collection.
Not wasting much time after the traditional atmospheric intro, “The Sleepless Man’s Conscious Dream” instantly sets a very lively tempo with solid guitar leads and intricate tempo changes. Olivier Hadder’s vocals are quite distinct and range from power/heavy metal notes to darker and more somber deeper tones, giving them great range and diversity, as we can hear in the excellent “Neverwhere” and the rest of the release.
Hailing from Finland, today we have Atmospheric Black Metal one-man battalion Antimateria and their debut full-length “Valo aikojen taka”. With all tracks in Finish and a knack for heavy rudimentary atmospheric elements, this release will crawl under your skin thanks to the subtle rawness of the band’s sound.
Immediately opening with an oppressive shriek paired with raw guitars and dreamy atmospherics, “Sieltä mistä valokaan ei milloinkaan karaka” instantly sets a very eerie mood. The atmospheric elements have a certain resemblance to Perivuan flutes, giving this track a fresh and original angle. Delivering raw riffs which sound a bit muffled (probably by the production quality), tracks like “Tieni kohti lopullista tuhoa” and “Roihuten läpi yötaivaan” have a certain old-school Pagan Metal vibe from the days of Falkenbach, but without the fluffiness.
Arriving via Godz ov War Productions, today we have France’s Autokrator and their devastating and brutal mix of Death/Doom elements with heavy Drone influences. Easily as one of the most oppressive and aurally disturbing releases of 2016, the band delivers 36 minutes of pure madness that will take you to the edge of sanity.
Delivering the first punch with “Chapter I’, the band opens with a disturbing audio clip that is closely followed by hellish growls and their crushing drumming. This duo does a great job in crafting a massive wall of sound that is only disturbed by the deep growls. The sheer brutality continues with the intricate “Chapter II” and the demolishing “Chapter IV”. In both tracks we noticed the mixture of influences from outfits like Autor & Punisher and the all mighty Anaal Nathrakh, but taken to the extreme.
Arriving via Pellagic Records, today we have Sweden’s pg.lost and their latest opus “Versus”. Featuring seven track of intoxicating Instrumental Post-Rock, this release takes the listener into a sidereal journey thanks to the band’s ample musical creativity. Highly recommended for fans of bands like God is an Astronaut, EF and Tides from Nebula.
Opening with the mysterious “Ikaros”, the band starts their journey with a trippy and spacey vibe in this track. Brilliantly changing the tempo of the release, “Off the Beaten Path” picks up the pace and delivers a punchy bass guitar line that is nicely enveloped by catchy percussions and heavy atmospherics. The band does a great job in delivering tracks that slowly build up and peak nicely with crushing moments of heaviness like both “Monolith” and “Versus”.