On the days we are feeling nostalgic about the good old times of Dissection and similar bands that created and innovated with melodic riffs and epic songwriting, we turn to Thulcandra and their first two full-length releases. Unleashing “Ascension Lost” in 2015, the band continues to develop their old-school sound and make it their own, greatly improving on all the previous ‘borrowing’ they did from Dissection.
The album kicks off with the melancholic “The First Rebellion”, a fast-paced piece that is sonically pleasing and very technically proficient. The band’s proficient mixture of melodic riffs and old-school Black Metal is quite solid and songs like “Throne of Will” and “Deliverance in Sin and Death” are a testament to their abilities. Steffen Kummerer and Sebastian Ludwig are a highly skilled guitar duo that carries this release from start to finish with their intensity and creativity.
Being huge fans of Melodic/Epic Black Metal, we got pretty excited when reading the press kit from Noctem Cursis “Noctural Frost” full length. Delivering nine tracks of crushing Black Metal surrounded by epic melodic passages; this is one intense release that while not overly original, it is quite enjoyable for any fan of bands like Stormlord.
After the typical atmospheric intro, the band explodes with the intense “From Space”, a track led by double-kick intensity and low-key atmospheric keyboards. It is quite enjoyable to hear natural old-school keyboards, rather than overproduced orchestrations. Moving to some serious BM riffing territory, “Scars of the Past” keeps things interesting and brutal. Here we get a certain old-school Catamenia vibe from the vocals and tempo the band presents.
Hailing from France, today we have Deficiency, a very promising young band that plays a mean modern sounding Thrash Metal. Presenting us with ten superb tracks, this band showcases that not everybody is just trying to copy what old-school Thrash Metal bands have did in the past. Giving us a certain flair of bands like Mercenary, EverEve (sans the experimental craziness), etc., this is a very entertaining album that will not get dull at any point.
Blasting away instantly with the album title opening track, the band showcases vicious riffing and versatile vocals. Not settling for your typical Thrash style, the band throws some growls into the mix. As “Unleashed” and “A Prospect of Traveling Beyond” unfolds, the band clearly showcases their unique signature into the music with emphasis on epic vocal sections and incisive riffs. For those of us that enjoy dark and melodic songs, “Those Who Behold” is one hell of a track with lush drumming and the perfect tempo to make it quite memorable.
After blowing us away with their debut album “The Blood March” back in 2011, The Approach and the Execution returns with another master class in Melodic Metal with “Kings among Runaways”. Now relocated to California and with a few line-up changes, The Approach makes a very strong comeback with nine tracks filled with awesome melodic passages and some serious guitar wizardry.
Opening with the brilliant “The Warrior’s Psalm”, the band delivers their signature vocal harmonies surrounded with catchy riffing. The band’s ability to switch between singing styles is quite impressive and they are not afraid to use it. Also, their guitarists Andy Fisher and Mike Notte showcase their talents with excellent solos and acrobatic passages. The second track is a familiar one since it is a re-recording of their epic song “The March of The Guillotine”. If you have a song this awesome, I am sure more than a few bands would try to get it on every album they produce. The main noticeable difference here is that the female vocals are gone and seems like some of the guitar work is improved.
Out on Supreme Chaos Records, we have one of the most unique releases of 2013 that for some reason got lost in our review queue and we finally gave it the attention it commands. Featuring a unique blend of Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal with a heavy dosage of Atmospheric synths and Avant-Garde elements, “The Initial Frontier Pt. 1” is a release that will demand your undivided attention since the first minute.
After a short intro, the space journey begins with the intergalactic epic “The Initial Frontier”. Delivering 9 minutes of lush atmospheric elements and imposing guitars, this track created a unique atmosphere that will disconnect you from reality. The Black Metal onslaughts remind us of bands like Shade Empire and early Dimmu Borgir, allowing the band to be quite versatile and engaging.
Arriving from the most powerful Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal band from Finland, today we have “The Three-faced Pilgrim”. Featuring six tracks of majestic BM filled with crushing guitars and eerie atmospheric elements, Alghazanth continues to improve upon their legacy with another masterful release. Bearing a few line-up adjustments, the band keeps their lush Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal in place with some of the most exciting songs we have heard in 2013.
Opening with the devastating “In Your Midnight Orchard”, we have a raw BM with awesome atmospheric highlights. The band has been perfecting their craft for a few years now, and with this release they take it to a whole new level of brutality. Just picture Horna with keyboards and Alghazanth is what you get. The melodic riffing is another aspect of the band that shows their true craft when it comes to songs like “To The Pear of High” and “Promethean Permutation”, both filled with excellent melodic riffs that seamlessly change tempos between aggressive and hyper-blast mode.
Originally started as a Death/Doom outfit, Hanging Garden has been slowly drifting apart from this category into more Melodic Death/Doom territories like their fellow countrymen Swallow the Sun and Insomnium. After the release of “At Every Door” earlier this year, the band gives us a little taste of what is to come in the future with their EP “I Was a Soldier”. Featuring three tracks (with the digital bonus song), this release continues were their previous full-length left off with a good dose of crushing melancholic music.
Starting on a high note, “Winter to Summer Adverse” delivers punishing riffs, demoralizing vocals and a very cool atmospheric keyboard highlights. While this track sounds a lot like Swallow the Sun, the band does a great job in keeping their style evolving and creating a bleak atmosphere. The clean vocals certainly add an extra layer of awesomeness to this track. The EP’s title track continues the flow with more atmospheric passages and engaging vocals.
Having been a huge fan of Empyrium since their 1996 release “A Wintersunset...”, when we heard that they would be giving their first live concert in the band’s history at the 2011 WGT in Leipzig, Germany, our plane tickets and festival accommodations were booked in an instant. As one of those magical moments were a band that never played live comes together, this show was set to be a very special event. Featuring a ridiculous live line-up with musicians from bands like Alcest, Les Discrets, Neun Welten, Dornenreich, amongst others, the band’s music was surely going to be brought to life in a very accurate manner.
Arriving at the venue almost two hours before the show, we managed to be almost at the beginning of the line. Talking with super excited Empyrium fans just made the experience even more impressive and generated even more expectation amongst all the people gathered there. The live DVD version of this release manages to capture with great precision the magic of this night thanks to the crystal clear recording of the music and the HD video that was used to capture the event.
The ever evolving Deadlock arrives with their latest offering “The Arsonist”. In this album this German outfit delivers 10 tracks and around 40 minutes of their signature passive-aggressive Melodic Metal filled with the sweet vocals of Sabine Scherer. Adding some Groove elements into their already rich sound, the band sounds as catchy and heavy than ever in this release.
Opening strong with “The Great Pretender”, we can instantly hear the new Groove influences in the band’s sound. We also get the first glance of the band’s new male vocalist: John Gahlert, their older bass guitarist. Keeping the mixture of harsh screams and female vocals, the band’s vocal approach is quite diverse and entertaining. The band’s catchiness is as always present on the killer “I’m Gone”, featuring one of the best chorus sections of the whole release.
Arriving from Finland, today we have a very lively EP titled “Howl from Beyond” from the band Children of Madness. In this four song release, this up and coming band showcase their very interesting blend of melodic guitar-driven Metal that features Heavy Metal-like soaring vocals and playful keyboards. For a short release, all the songs will stay in your head for quite a while due to their super catchy nature.
Opening very strongly with “Phoenix Rising”, the band sets a very melodic and epic mood with their excellent riffing and soaring vocals. We like that the vocals are quite natural and don’t sound over the top for the music the band presents. There are some killer solos in this song that greatly enhance the overall experience. As the album title track makes it way, the band steps it up a notch and delivers a hard-hitting catchy tune. The riffing again stands out, and it is nicely complemented by the atmospheric keyboards the band gives a darker vibe to this track.