Alluvial – Sarcoma (Review)

Alluvial - SarcomaThis is the second album from Alluvial, a modern death metal band from the US.

Sarcoma contains 38 minutes of progressive death metal. Alluvial fuse their modern approach to the style with technical, progressive, and atmospheric flourishes, yet do so in a restrained song-based way. This results in songs that are atypical expressions of Continue reading “Alluvial – Sarcoma (Review)”

Wonderbox Metal End of Year List – Best Metal of 2020

Almost every year I think about how challenging it is to compile a definitive best of list, and how subjective it is, etc. Although that’s still true for this collecting of albums, this year, however, has been easier than most. 2020 has been heavy on the black metal for me. It’s been my most reviewed genre, in all its myriad permutations, and this is reflected in the below list.

For the longest of times the bands in positions 5 and 6 vied for top position, but then October and November happened. All of a sudden, unexpectedly, these two months unleashed a wealth of quality, and stole the top four positions in a rampant display of blackened supremacy.

I hope you enjoy the below recommendations of mine and find something new to obsess over. Let me know how you get on.

Let’s dig in… Continue reading “Wonderbox Metal End of Year List – Best Metal of 2020”

Amiensus – Abreaction (Review)

Amiensus - AbreactionAmiensus are a progressive black metal band from the US, and this is their third album.

We last met Amiensus in 2017 with All Paths Lead to Death, which saw them in a more atavistic mood than debut album Restoration. Abreaction finds the band in a more expensive mood once more, while still retaining a core of blackened darkness and aggression. Continue reading “Amiensus – Abreaction (Review)”

Khôra – Timaeus (Review)

Khôra - TimaeusThis is the debut album from Khôra, a black metal band.

Featuring a member of Dødheimsgard, and so many guests it’s quite remarkable, (mainly on vocals or keyboards, and from bands such as …And Oceans, Amiensus, Dødheimsgard, Finntroll, Nòtt, and Moonsorrow), a lot of talent and experience has gone into Timaeus. Continue reading “Khôra – Timaeus (Review)”

Interview with Amiensus

Amiensus Header

The latest EP by Amiensus – All Paths Lead to Death – has shown a stripped-back band, ready to savagely burn anyone near them with their red-hot display of blistering black metal. WIth some quality songwriting skills and plenty of venomous attitude, this is 29 minutes you don’t want to miss.

So, sit back, take All Paths Lead to Death for a spin and have a read of the below… Continue reading “Interview with Amiensus”

Amiensus – All Paths Lead to Death (Review)

AmiensusThis is the latest EP by US black metallers Amiensus.

Following on from their very well-received earlier work, (Restoration, for example), Amiensus return with a 29 minute EP that’s their darkest, most-direct work yet. Continue reading “Amiensus – All Paths Lead to Death (Review)”

Bjarm – Imminence (Review)

BjarmBjarm are from Russia and this is their début album of Symphonic Black Metal.

After a bold and bombastic opener the first song proper starts. Knowledge of Doom sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Inspiration comes from bands like Dimmu Borgir, Chthonic, Amiensus and Gloria Morti; essentially this is Black Metal with Symphonic effects, female vocals and a Death Metal influence that gives the band a harsher edge.

The production is heavy and well-recorded; everything stands out and sounds very impressive.

The vocals are deep and growled, for the most part, although spoken parts make numerous appearances. When the female vocals appear they are like the finest silk wrapped around a lovingly sharp blade. Higher, more-Black Metal vocals also have their part to play and these sound serrated like razor wire.

The music is well played and considerable thought has obviously gone into the songs. The level of orchestration and keyboards, etc. is remarkable and the songs are layered with emotion and grandeur. The Death Metal vocals add bite to the tracks and ensure that the band keep their harder edge in amongst the rich textures of the flowing musical theatre.

Overall this is a very professional début that benefits from a huge sound and an impressive theatrical/cinematic quality. For all the pomp and splendour however, they keep a sharper edge to their sound and this prevents the album from becoming stale, in my mind. Add to this some strong songwriting and you have a thoroughly enjoyable album.

Bjarm are ones to keep an eye on that’s for sure. With the right support they could go far.

Forlorn Path – Man’s Last Portrait (Review)

Forlorn PathThis is the début album from US Melodic Doom/Black/Death Metallers Forlorn Path.

For a début this is well-written, ambitious and implemented with a skill a lot of bands would envy.

Melodic and orchastrated, yet still having an intensity born of pure Metal this is more aggressive and outright better than I was expecting. From the name and album cover I thought I would be hearing a second-rate Gothic Death Metal Paradise Lost clone, but thankfully my hasty pre-judgement was incorrect, and instead we get epic, expansive, symphonic and melodic Blackened Doom of the highest quality.

At just over an hour in length a lot of passion and work has gone into this album to create a journey that you can get your teeth into.

The vocals alternate between a Black Metal rasp and an ultra-deep growl that is just a pure pleasure to experience.

The forlorn atmosphere and rich melodic melancholy combined with an more aggressive assault than a lot of bands of this genre attempt means that the album always entertains and for me is up there with recent melodic Metal greats like Amiensus.

A refreshing and surprising album; I’ve had my expectations completely surpassed and it’s an abject lesson to me that you can’t judge a band by their name or their artwork. What matters, all that matters, is what they sound like, and Forlorn Path sound very good indeed. Highly recommended.

Amiensus – Restoration (Review)

AmiensusAmiensus are from the US and play Progressive Black Metal with plenty of melody and epic feelings.

Keyboards and other effects transform the already pronounced melodic talent of the band to another level, washing over the listener in waves of atmosphere.

Restoration skillfully blends aspects of bands such as Opeth, Agalloch and Dimmu Borgir into a talented melting pot and adds something of its own personality to the mix to avoid sounding derivative; the results of which have led to this pretty special release.

I usually find this genre of music a bit too sickly and derivative, essentially it’s easy to do but hard to do well. Whatever this magic, secret ingredient is that makes an album like this great without sounding like another clone of the aforementioned bands, Amiensus appear to have it in spades.

Meaty guitars cloaked in wistful mood and dripping with ear-candy dominate this release, while angelic vocals croon and soar alongside harsher cries and grunts. Female vocals are used to punctuate the atmosphere when needed and are a great asset to the band.

The album flows easily from one song to the next; the symphonic nature of the band working perfectly to accentuate every harmony and lamentation into a seamless whole until suddenly the 46 minutes playing time has elapsed and you’re left simply wanting more.

As début albums go this is high quality indeed and quite an achievement for such a young band. If album number one is this accomplished I can only imagine what album number two will be like.

Here’s to more in the future. You should get this.