Arcturon – Expect Us (Review)

ArcturonArcturon are from Switzerland and this is their latest EP. They play Melodic Metal.

With this EP they give us 4 tracks lasting a total of just under 17 minutes.

This is upbeat Metal with a modern slant and added keyboards/effects. Think Dark Tranquillity as well as bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Darkane, etc.

These four songs are well-written and well-presented tracks that are on the more commercial side of Metal but if you don’t mind that then there’s a good amount of enjoyment to be had from them.

The singer has a good voice and switches between shouting and singing with ease. It’s designed to promote emotive responses and as long as you’re amenable to the genre it does the job.

This is the kind of band I could imagine getting a good degree of success if they have the right backing/are in the right place at the right time/etc. They have this particular genre of Metal down pat and inject enough variety and personality into the formula to make it work.

Give them a listen and see what you think.

Tantal – Expectancy (Review)

TantalTantal are from Russia and this is their second album. They play Progressive Melodic Death Metal.

This is upbeat and Melodic Death Metal in the vein of Arch Enemy, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Nightrage, etc. Tantal differentiate themselves though by having more of a Progressive edge to their sound.

The vocals consist of harsh male screaming and clean female vocals pairing off against each other. Both sets of vocals are performed admirably and the clean melodies in particular are quite enjoyable and remind of classic Lacuna Coil back when they were still a rising power to contend with.

The band’s progressive influences mean this is a relatively lengthy album and the songs have some good meat on them due to this. Everything is played well and the songs make an impression.

This has a strong European flavour to it, (despite originating in Russia), and takes me back to a time when European Metal still sounded quite exotic and had a unique flavour to it. Although this is still quite true in many respects, it no longer feels new to me any more, having heard it for decades now; Tantal remind me of a time when it all was still new and exciting, so that alone endears me to them even before you take into account the fact that they actually write good songs too!

If you like the more modern, melodic style of Heavy Metal yet eschew the more commercial tendencies of a lot of bands that play in this genre and want something a bit meatier to sink your teeth into, you could do a lot worse than check out Tantal.

A recommended listen.

Settima Draconis – Legio (Review)

Settima DraconisSettima Draconis are from Germany and play Melodic Death Metal.

Legio has a good sound that allows the band to show off their works.

This is Melodic Death Metal with a Gothic influence and heavily accompanied by violins and strings. These Classical elements are not overdone though and add the right amount of atmosphere and culture to the heavier guitars and snarling vocals.

For a crude reference point, think Dark Tranquillity combined with the music of Therion and a more free-form method of songwriting, particularly in the drum department. Only a crude reference point, as I say, but it gives the right kind of idea.

While this is bound to be somewhat of an acquired taste, (but what isn’t though, really?), it’s worth checking out if you want Gothic Metal with colour and unusual quirks to the songs. While it can seem a little incoherent at times it shows a band trying to do something a little different and this should be encouraged.

Have a listen and see what you think.

Coraxo – Starlit Flame (Review)

CoraxoComing from Finland, Coraxo play Industrial Death Metal with a strong Aliens theme running through the tracks on this release.

After a suitable intro we get first song Signal Detected which positively bounces along in a jolly, sci-fi kind of way; melodic Death Metal under a covering of electronics and effects; like At The Gates/Dark Tranquillity and The Kovenant/Deathstars/Neurotech fighting it out.

There are some pleasing riffs churned out, with the effects adding additional depth without smothering the actual Metal. This is a band using the electronica to enhance the Metal and the theme of the songs rather than to be a novelty or for wider commercial appeal.

With this kind of music there is a lot that can go wrong, and as usual this is very subjective so it does depend on the interpretation of the listener of course, (as always). For me this EP tends to largely be on the right side of the potential hazards; the electronics and effects are prominent but not overbearing; the guitars have substance and are not just there for show; the vocalist has bite and is not interested in being the next Marilyn Manson; the music is dark enough to avoid any potential “Cheese Factor”. I’m calling victory here.

The more I listen to this the more I fall for its charms. It has its own character and personality. It’s also very catchy in places. Xenotaph in particular. Tacked on the end of the EP is a cover of Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist that ends proceedings nicely.

If your taste in Metal runs to the less-conventional then check out Coraxo and see if you fall for their sci-fi sound.

Sapiency – Tomorrow (Review)

SapiencySapiency play modern melodic Thrash Metal. I don’t listen to a lot of this style of music as there is a huge amount of mediocrity out there – it seems to be that writing okay music in this style is quite easy, but being truly great is rare.

Their style is similar to bands such as Scar Symmetry, In Flames, Soilwork, etc. – the gruff vocals juxtaposed against the clean, huge soaring guitars and keyboards, epic melodies and punchy drums, etc. Although Sapiency don’t hit the heights of the truly great, they are certainly a cut above the mediocre, and dare I say it this is quite an exciting and enjoyable release.

Having more bite to their attack than a lot of the typical In Flames/Soilwork clones, (which they aren’t), certainly works in their favour. The gruff vocals are a bit harsher than the norm, and the clean vocals a bit more powerful. They dwell on the right side of catchy rather than sounding ‘pop’. The guitars are not watered down and actually have some meat to the riffs rather than just being there to accentuate the vocals, which seems to be a usual failing of certain bands in this genre. In fact, Sapiency are less In Flames/Soilwork and more Scar Symmetry/Dark Tranquillity – heavier and less polished, (relatively speaking of course), than their more commercial kin. Some would say ‘more metal’. Here we even have the occasional blastbeat, which is always welcome. Solos too. It’s good that they are not afraid of speed either; it’s too easy for bands in this genre to lose interest across an album as every song has the same mid-paced tempo, speed and feeling.

Albums like this live or die by their songs and Sapiency have these; energy and catchiness, wrapped up and delivered as molten melodic metal. It’s hard not to feel the enthusiasm inherent in these tracks. There is a genuine love of metal on display here and it exhibits itself in every track and imbues them with a vitality that is otherwise missing in so many catchier bands.

I enjoyed Sapiency more than I thought I would; which is a reminder that it’s far to easy to feel jaded and cynical these days and every band should be judged on their individual merits. A class album – if you enjoy melody with your metal then check them out.

Valtari – Fragments of a Nightmare

valtariMelodic Death Metal in the vein of Dark Tranquillity.  Well written and well recorded; if you like the Gothenburg style of metal then you’ll be more than happy with this album.

I’m quite enjoying the songwriting on display here, and there is certainly an obvious passion for this style of music evident throughout.  The album is especially impressive when you consider that it is all the product of just one man: Marty Warren.

If you’d like to hear more –

https://www.facebook.com/Valtari

http://www.valtari.info/

Enjoy!