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.

Warlord UK – We Die As One (Review)

Warlord UKAs you can probably guess, Warlord UK are from the UK…this is their third album of Death Metal.

After a perfunctory intro we get a surprisingly Doomy start to Human Inner Core that slowly builds itself up into a nice groove.

The sound is crisp and the drums have weight to them. The bass is audible and is actually used for things worthwhile.

The vocals are savage in a mechanistic way, as if they’re being uttered by some kind of undead cyborg, or maybe even by the chap on the cover? Who knows. I’m not sure I’d like to meet him in a dark alley though, (or a frost-swept plain of skulls for that matter).

A hint of Thrash sensibilities adds an edge to the spiky songs and riffs are thrown around with complete abandon, as if the band have an inexhaustible supply of them.

There’s a lot of mid-paced chuggery going on here; it sounds good and is the perfect backdrop to the gritty future cyber-war that I imagine is going on behind the scenes.

The band are capable of more than just heaviness and brutality though, as they show a pleasantly surprising penchant for added melody and grandeur during some of the tracks; this gives the album more depth and longevity than it might otherwise have.

Imagine, if you will, if Bolt Thrower and Amon Amarth combined forces to crush their assorted enemies…Warlord UK sound like that amalgamated War Metal strike force.

The songs are good, the Metal is good and the severed heads are banging. Warlord UK have more to offer than you might think at first glance.

Nightfell – The Living Ever Mourn (Review)

NightfellNightfell are from the US and play Death/Doom Metal.

This is heavy, very heavy, and darkly melodic. The riffs collide and smash down, like Entombed playing a funeral dirge. A collision of Old-School Death Metal and Crusty, Sludge Doom; this is reminiscent of an older Metal landscape whilst concurrently sounding fresh and invigorating.

The music has a personality about it that recalls Old-School Death/Doom Metal from the likes of Dismember, Sentenced, Paradise Lost, Amon Amarth, My Dying Bride, etc. – bands with character that were leaders rather than followers.

The dual vocals rasp, growl and bark their way across each other and are as harsh and unforgiving as you would expect. Added to these are the odd spoken passage and semi-clean to keep things interesting. The vocals have their own personality and character and are very much in keeping with the rest of the music in this regard.

The Old-School Doom Metal riffs really pile up on each other and the feeling of having stepped back in time is strong. However, none of it comes across as nostalgic; rather Nightfell are merely treading the same ground as many of the greats from yesteryear and are looking to put this style of music back on the map once more.

The songs come with plenty of hooks; you’ll wonder how a song like Altars To Wrath isn’t a cover song, so authentically Swedish and catchy it is. Each song has been poured over with love and passion and a monster has been created.

The band make the most of their dark melodies to create a bleakly rich atmosphere dosed up on Doom and heavy on the Metal.

This is an album that demands to be heard.

Craving – At Dawn (Review)

CravingCraving are from Germany and play lengthy Death Metal with Folk and Black Metal influences.

This is their second album and Craving are really coming into their own. Combining brutality, melody and Folk harmonies the band have produced 66 minutes of music that transport the listener back in time and away from the hum drum pace of normal life.

There is a medieval vibe permeating the songs, although this is juxtaposed against the heavier more brutal Death Metal parts. Sort of like a more aggressive Amon Amarth mixed with Korpiklaani or Finntroll.

Each of the long songs is a combination of the aforementioned styles, and across the album we get a bit of everything; Melodic Death Metal, Folk Metal, some Black Metal riffs…it creates an enticing package and manages to stay interesting for the entire running length.

The songs are memorable and the band effortlessly play both brutal and melodic parts with abandon. The ease in which they can transition from heavy, blasting sections into melodic, atmospheric moods is a pleasure to behold.

The vocals are mainly guttural Death Metal vocals, although on occasion Black Metal screams punctuate the blasting. On top of this there are also Folky cleans, some of which are rousing, heroic and quite epic in nature.

This is a Melodic Death Metal album that manages to embrace its Folk side without sacrificing its teeth, and for that reason alone is worthy of being listened to. Add to that the fact that it’s a very enjoyable album that stirs the Metal heart…well we have a keeper here.

Hybrid Nightmares – Hybrid Nightmares (Review)

hybrid nightmaresHybrid Nightmares are an Australian Extreme Metal band with Black Metal and Progressive leanings.

This band are clearly talented at what they do, and what they do is craft Extreme Metal songs. These songs have a solid foundation in Black Metal but have embraced Progressive Metal tendencies that lift the tracks outside of the original genre and into a wider arena. In fact the main thing that’s Black Metal about them is the vocals and logo really.

The Second track Upon the Cursed Wings is a perfect example of this. It starts with a Metal, almost rocky swagger before slowing down to a nice groove with the Black Metal vocals kicking in. The double-bass sections, solid melodies and nice chuggy riffs reveal a real knack for songcraft. Bands like Septic Flesh, Agathodaimon, certain bits of Dimmu Borgir, (sans orchestration), and even Amon Amarth spring to mind.

The recording is as good as anything out there at the moment – everything sounds crystal clear and full of life. There’s been no slacking in this department, or any other. This is a consummately professional release in every way. This doesn’t leave the music sounding soulless and clinical however. Actually the opposite is true as the songs are presented in an appropriate format that allows the listener to take in everything that is going on, and that’s quite a bit. Special mention should indeed go to the riffs – there are some stormers here! Ashes of an Astral Winter is a veritable riff-fest of top Metal calibre.

A really good EP. If they get their foot in the door of the international stage they could go far.

Hypocrisy – A Taste of Extreme Divinity

A Taste of Extreme DivinityI have been a fan of Hypocrisy since their 1999 self-titled album, and since then I have been hooked. Across their many albums they have been quite diverse; playing everything from brutal Death Metal, to Black Metal and everything in between.

This album, from 2009, can best be described as melodic Death Metal – catchy songs with good choruses are abundant here. Comparisons can be made to bands such as Amon Amarth in this respect; as this album follows in a similar vein to their output.  If you like this style of music, or indeed Amon Amarth; then it’s a safe bet you’ll like A Taste of Extreme Divinity.

With Peter Tägtgren behind the helm you should already know that the sound on this album is suitably huge, with his voice complementing this nicely.

Strongly recommended for some good headbanging fun!