Gigantomachia – Atlas (Review)

GigantomachiaThis is the debut album from Italian metal band Gigantomachia.

Here’s a somewhat evocatively heroic release. Mixing elements of melodic, doom, death, and epic metal into a meaty metal base, Gigantomachia have produced 41 minutes of engaging metal. Continue reading

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The Iron Gates – The Story Thus Far (Review)

The Iron GatesThis is the debut EP from US metalcore band The Iron Gates.

Here we have 20 minutes of thrash-influenced metalcore that strikes a balance between Darkest Hour‘s razor-sharp thrash, Killswitch Engage’s groove, and something a little more along the melodic death metal lines, (Amon Amarth?); there’s a pleasing aggression to parts of these songs. Continue reading

Dawn of Disease – Ascension Gate (Review)

Dawn of DiseaseDawn of Disease are a death metal band and this is their fourth album.

I wasn’t expecting a new Dawn of Disease album so soon after last year’s enjoyable Worship the Grave, but I’m certainly not complaining about it. Continue reading

King – Reclaim the Darkness (Review)

KingThis is Australian band King’s debut album. They play black metal.

King is a straightforward, powerfully simple name that is quite refreshing after the increasing complexity of so many new black metal band’s names. Even the logo on the album cover is simple and strong, with no overly complex logo with semi-artistic aspirations. Continue reading

Amon Amarth – Jomsviking (Review)

Amon AmarthAmon Amarth are a melodic Death Metal band from Sweden and this is their tenth album.

Returning with a Viking-themed concept album, Amon Amarth continue their tried-and-tested formula for melodic Death Metal that they have been slowly perfecting and refining now for decades.

At this point in their existence you pretty much know exactly what to expect from them and they never fail to deliver. The songs on this release are as catchy and memorable as any that they have released over their victory-filled career.

Time has clearly been taken over these riffs, and the vast majority of the material here is bright, upbeat, full of energy, very memorable and laced with just the right amount of darkness, loss and violence.

Bright leads accompany the songs, as we’ve come to expect, and I particularly enjoy the solo work on this release too. The rhythm guitars are where the bulk of the action is at though, of course, and these tracks are destined to be hits in the live environment.

The singer’s charismatic and gruff voice is present and correct. Using pleasing rhythms and fitting in with the pace of the songs effortlessly, he provides a suitably compelling and powerful performance that does the weighty, (and epic), subject matter justice. In addition to his normal singing voice, he occasionally gives vent to a full-throated Death Metal growl, and it’s a thing of beauty. Doro also makes an appearance on A Dream That Cannot Be, adding a different dimension to the proceedings.

I find it incredibly hard to dislike anything Amon Amarth have released, and Jomsviking is no different. The band have an uncanny knack of providing the listener with highly-enjoyable songs that somehow manage to combine both style and substance, which is not something to be taken lightly.

Essential listening for all Metal warriors.

Vredehammer – Violator (Review)

VredehammerThis is Vredehammer’s second album. They play Black Metal and are from Norway.

Vredehammer play aggressive Black Metal that keeps the core of the genre alive and well, while merging it with a state-of-the-art blackness that bands like Satyricon, Keep of Kalessin and Temple of Baal do so well. Add a bit of Death Metal in the form of something like Behemoth and even a touch of Aura Noir-esque Thrash and you have a good overview of Vredehammer’s style. Tracks like Ursus even have a bit of the Amon Amarth about them, to my ears.

The vocals consist of dark outbursts that strike a fine balance between legibility and outright harshness. Sitting somewhere between the styles of Black and Death Metal, they work well to provide a focal point for the music without dominating it.

Powerful rhythm guitars form the bedrock of the tracks and these punish and damage for all they’re worth. Interestingly though, the band build on these strong foundations to provide a more well-rounded listening experience than you might expect; Violator is not a one-dimensional album.

Twisted melodics and bright, ethereal leads occasionally add colour and texture to the band’s blackened rhythms, allowing them to explore wider pastures that their brutal tendencies might otherwise preclude them from. This adds a lot to the album and raises it to another level, quality-wise. This is all wrapped around their inherent malevolent nastiness though, which is never too far from proceedings.

Boasting a strong production to round things off, Violator is a very enjoyable album, and at 35 minutes in length it’s easy to get your fill of their blackened aggression.

Recommended.

Nightfell – Darkness Evermore (Review)

NightfellThis is the second album from Nightfall, a US Death/Doom Metal band.

This is the follow up to their 2014 début album The Living Ever Mourn, which was a very enjoyable album of Death/Doom. Darkness Evermore continues their brand of Old-School Death Metal that has a large Doom influence, this time resulting in songs that are longer and more mournful than their first release.

The darkened atmosphere from their début has been expanded upon and fleshed out with more ambition in Darkness Evermore. The essential style of the band is the same, but the melodies are bolder, the emotions heightened, the Doom deeper and the darkness more palpable. This is The Living Ever Mourn 2.0, in the sense that they have improved upon and refined their original formula, which was already pretty damn good to begin with.

The riffs are highly emotive and continue to draw on the wellspring of fertile inspiration that bands such as Dismember, Sentenced, Paradise Lost, Amon Amarth, My Dying Bride, etc. have all drawn from for their powerful guitars and melodies.

These tracks are involving and paint a heady picture of a strange, underworld landscape for the listener to become entranced with.

The Death Metal base is complemented extremely well by the Doom influence, reminding me of the amazing début by Temple of Void; both bands know how to create emotive Metal atmospheres without losing their Death Metal core.

It’s not all slow dirges either, as there’s enough upbeat material here to provide good variety. These parts are still done in a gloomy way though, and they even have a Blackened feel on occasion; there’s a noticeably larger Black Metal influence in general on Darkness Evermore in fact.

Nightfell have successfully followed up their strong début album with an ever stronger second one. Check this out.

Obscurity – Vintar (Review)

ObscurityThis is the seventh album from German band Obscurity. They play Death/Pagan/Viking Metal.

The band play a melodic blend of largely mid-paced Death Metal with Viking and Pagan influences.

The singer has a varied bark that seems just as home with deep grunts as it does with higher screams. After seven albums his voice is perfectly in shape and sounds really good.

The obvious and lazy reference point for a band like this is Amon Amarth, and that certainly gives you a basic impression of Obscurity but it’s not the whole picture.

Vintar is a strong collection of songs. The band play with an obvious passion and it’s clear after so many albums they’ve honed their art to a fine cutting edge. All of the instruments are well-played and the riffs and song structures in general show a good ear for composition, structure, tunes and dynamics.

I enjoyed this. It won’t set the world on fire, but it may just cover everything in a frosty winter coating…

Best played loud.

Onheil – Storm is Coming (Review)

OnheilOnheil are from the Netherlands and this is their second album.

Storm is Coming has a strong production with everything sounding crushing and the band easily wreak devastation like a natural disaster, which is partially what the concept of the album is based upon.

Onheil play Black Metal that’s fast and sharp but also surprisingly heavy as they have a bit of a Blackened Thrash/Heavy Metal influence to their sound.

The band I’m reminded of most is Hypocrisy as Onheil have a similar feel to both their style and sound – if you take Hypocrisy circa Into the Abyss and give it a bit more of a Black Metal sheen then you’ll have the right idea.

They’re certainly not Hypocrisy rip-off’s though, as I’m also reminded of bands like Amon Amarth and, (to a lesser extent), Dimmu Borgir, Kreator and Iron Maiden in places.

The vocalist is very accomplished and sounds great whether he’s screaming or growling. Powerful cleans are also used sparingly to add effect and provide good back up to the main shrieks.

The Blackened melodies are played fast and hard, with riffs and leads being in no short supply. Storm is Coming also features an enjoyably Heavy Metal aspect to their sound, mainly in the guitar department. Duelling guitars are prominent and many leads could be straight out of the Classic Heavy Metal rulebook.

This is a band who can play Melodic Black Metal without it sounding jolly or hopeful; this is dark music with an evil tinge to it that all centres around the band’s direct and cutting method of assault.

Overall this is an enjoyable and absorbing listen with good songs and melodies that capture the attention. Check them out and see what you think.

Uburen – Withered Roots (Review)

UburenUburen are from Norway and this is their début album. They play Black Metal.

This is Viking-themed Black Metal with hints of Death Metal thrown into the mix here and there. Heavier than the norm for this style, Uburen play to the more extreme side of the Viking sub-genre.

The vocals alternate between Black Metal screams, rasps and deeper growls, with some spoken word and other styles making the odd appearance. The singer puts in a great performance and his vocals are quite varied compared to most monotonous vocalists who have maybe one or two sounds at most that they make.

The guitars are rhythmically melodic, stirring up the appropriate emotions and have a good double bass foundation that they build their songs on top of. This is not pseudo-commercial fodder, this is the real deal. Rather than the heroic songs and style-over-substance façade of most Viking/Pagan bands, Uburen have got to the blood and guts of the matter and their interpretation of the genre is altogether dirtier and heavier.

There are some really enjoyable, powerful scything Black Metal moments on this release and the combination of the higher/deeper vocals merely enhances this.

Imagine Enslaved if they were less Progressive and more aggressive, or maybe Amon Amarth if they used Black Metal as the basis for their sound rather than Death Metal.

Uburen deserve a wider audience than they’re probably going to get. You can help remedy this however – check out Withered Roots today and feel the blood run hot through your veins once more.

Favourite Track: Asmegin. Fast and furious.