Featuring one of the most brilliant line-ups in Extreme Metal, today we have Sarke and their third full-length release “Aruagint”. Originally intended as a solo project of Sarke (Thomas Bergli of Khold, Tulus, ex-Old Man’s Child fame), this all-star Black Metal super group combines rudimentary BM elements with Heavy/Thrash Metal and a good dosage of Hard Rock thrown into the mix to create a decadent yet truly Norwegian sound.
Opening with the crunchy riffs of “Jaunt of the Obsessed”, we immediately take notice on the super production behind this release as well as the technical proficiency of everybody involved in the album. With a catchy Black’n’Roll attitude in tracks like “Ugly” and “Strange Pungent Odyssey”, we get that urge to headbang similar to what Vreid has been doing to crowds in their last releases. Having Asgeir Mickelson handling the drums, we get a full range of his Progressive skills infused into the music.
Finally arriving to North America through Metal Blade, today we have Sahg and their fourth full-length release “Delusions of Grandeur”. In this brilliant Progressive/Psychedelic Rock/Metal album, we have this Norwegian band delivering over 45-minutes of mellow retro music. Filled with crafty passages and lush vocals, this is one very detailed release that you need to hear more than a few times to fully enjoy it.
The album leads off with the grandeur of “Slip Off the Edge of the Universe”, a track that reminds us of the magic behind acts like Magnum and Spock’s Beard. The guitars are perfectly layered and allowing the vocals to shine through the psychedelic keyboards. As the album progresses we have songs filled with intricate details (“Blizzardborne”) and more direct blistering solos like on “Firechild”. All these elements give Sahg a very authentic retro prog sound.
Delivering their first album on their new label, Metal Blade Records, Faroese Metalheads Týr keep improving on their signature sound with “Valkyrja”. Featuring 13 tracks of super catchy Progressive Viking/Pagan Metal, the band shows no signs of resting in their laurels and manages to build on their legacy with a near perfect release that will captivate all fans of the band. For over 59 minutes, the listener will be treated to Týr’s signature riffing and the charismatic singing of Heri Joensen.
Opening with the strong “Blood Of Heroes” we get the traditional Týr riffing onslaught provided by Heri Joensen and Terji Skibenæs. With more epic vocal melodies and catchy arrangements, “Mare of My Night” comes out to be one of the standout tracks in this release thanks to that headbanging/chanting alongside vibe the song features. Things get more melancholic with the lush female vocals of guest Liv Kristine on “The Lay of Our Love”. In this track the band shows a different side to them, delivering a mellow track with excellent guitars and very tight drumming.
Everybody’s favorite Metal Vikings return with yet another epic release with “Deceiver of the Gods”. Doing what they do best, catchy melodic tunes, the band delivers 10 tracks of signature Amon Amarth music that are prefect for a good dosage of beer drinking and headbanging. Mixing in some traditional Heavy Metal elements with their already well defined style, the band manages to release a very powerful and refined album that just adds to their amazing legacy.
Without wasting any time, the album title track delivers excellent melodic riffing that only Amon Amarth can produce. Johan Hegg’s powerful vocals lead the way and they are as brutal as ever. The melodic passages are top notch, an early indicator of how epic this release will be. “As Loke Falls” has all the ingredients for a typical anthem: catchy chorus section, pummeling riffs, violent vocals, and an overall melodic vibe that is quite amazing.
Delivering one of the most surprisingly awesome albums of 2013, today we have The Black Dahlia Murder and their imposing release “Everblack”. We have long discarded this band as one of the vanilla Deathcore bands since their earlier days, but today we are shocked in the excellent quality and brutality behind their latest release. Mixing elements of Melodic/Technical Death Metal with some Deathcore influences, the band has managed to craft a very powerful and devastating sound of their own over the years.
Exploding with the technical “In Hell Is Where She Waits for Me”, the band immediately showcases their excellent mixture of melodic elements with brutal DM/Deathcore sections. The music is quite intense and makes you immediately want to start headbanging. “Goat of Departure” continues the riffing onslaught with catchy melodic sections and inhuman growls. The band’s sound has surely come a long way since their earlier stuff and they now sound like a million dollars.
Recently demised The Devil’s Blood returns with one last hurrah with the raw and direct “III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars”. Never intended to be the last release of the band, and never properly completed, this release maintains the mystical magic of the band with a less refined and perfected packaging. Featuring the last seven tracks we will ever hear from this excellent band, this release is indeed very good, but it also has a bittersweet taste of what it could have been if the band polished it as much as their previous releases.
The release leads off with a 22-minute epic under the title “I Was Promised a Hunt”. Supposedly written backwards, this track is a tour de force that goes through tons of different moods and delivers an excellent introduction to the band’s swansong release. The female vocals are outstanding as always and they immediately induce a trance-like state. There are also some male vocals that while odd at first, provide a nice contrast to F’s singing and the lush choir arrangements. The atmosphere in this track is quite dense (as always) and has a very dark vibe to it, greatly enhanced by the brilliant guitar work.
Greatly diversifying their roster, Metal Blade has picked up for distribution in the US UK-based underground sensation Purson and their latest release “The Circle and the Blue Door”. Lead by singer/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham, this band has nailed the retro/psychedelic Rock vibe from the 60’s/70’s to perfection with their very authentic sound that will surely gather them international recognition.
Opening this release with the solemn “Wake Up Sleepy Head” and “The Contract”, the band immediately transports the listener to earlier times of free love and enigmatic music of the 60’s. The band’s authentic sound featuring instruments like the Mellotron and the Wurlitzer is greatly enhanced by Rosalie’s sultry vocals and excellent guitar skills. If you played this band for anybody into the music from those days, we are sure they would not be able to tell if it was a recent or an older band.
Robin Staps and company return with another impressive and monumental 53-minute concept album that is intended to be played as one whole piece. In “Pelagial”, the bands ambitions are high than ever with an album that nicely builds up in momentum, just as the layers of the ocean are entered in a voyage to the sea floor. The Ocean are famous for their highly complex and multi-layered releases and this one is not an exception, keeping things very intricate and beautifully arranged for all fans to be blown away since the opening song.
“Pelagial” was also originally intended to be mainly an instrumental release, and it is provided as both in the regular version of the album, so we will go back and forth in how the tracks feel different and transmit different feelings both with lyrics and without them. Opening with the very relaxed and dreamy “Epipelagic”, one even feels a certain sense of relief with this lush and simple track. Things start getting a bit more ‘heavier’ as the voyage continues going deeper and with “Mesopelagic – The Uncanny” we get the first taste of heavy guitars and the combination of clean and harsh vocals. We do think this track works a lot better on the instrumental version since it sounds cleaner and sets the mood a bit better.
Diving right into “Ghostwatcher” one might immediately think this is just another Metalcore/Deathcore release, but as one further explores Beyond The Shore’s music, there are quite a few interesting elements that make this release standout from the crowd. Released via Metalblade Records, this album features 10 tracks that at times are hit or miss, but there is a general sense of diversity that will keep your attention on this release.
Opening with two very vanilla tracks: “Dividers” and “Half Lived”, things really start to get interesting with the intricately crafted “Transitions”. The band delivers run of the mill Metalcore with some interesting guitar melodies and funky drum patters, making this track quite enjoyable and unexpected. The album’s first single “Homewrecker” is another very interesting piece with very tight melodic sections and cool transitions, only the vocals ruin a bit the moment.
Cranking out another release in less than one year, today we have Six Feet Under and their Groove infused Death Metal. Not lacking in quality and diving a bit into their older sound, “Unborn” delivers 11 crushing tracks that any fan of the band and American Death Metal will enjoy from beginning to end. Being the band’s 13th full-length release, they still have the magic to make the crows mosh themselves to a pulp and they are not afraid to pull the trigger on it.
Opening with the crunchy “Neuro Osmosis”, Chris Barnes treats us with his powerful growls and the band does a great job in crafting meaty hooks and solid melodic sections. After the quintessential Death Metal track “Prophecy”, the band delivers the groovy goods with the super catchy “Zombie Blood Curse”. With back to back neck breaking anthems with “Incision” and “Decapitate”, Six Feet Under keeps the album varied and entertaining, something that has been a problem with them in the past, but in “Unborn” they deliver without getting repetitive.