Caelestia – Beneath Abyss (Review)

CaelestiaCaelestia are from Greece and this is their second album. They play Melodic Metal.

Well this is interesting. Superficially another Gothic/Operatic European Metal band, there’s actually more to Caelestia than that.

They combine elements of that sound with Melodic Death Metal and Progressive Metal to create an altogether more interesting beast than what you, (or me), might have been expecting.

The album is a mixture of these aforementioned styles, meaning that Beneath Abyss is not a listen that gets stale. This is a bigger than normal compliment actually, considering how easy it is for Gothic Metal bands to be quite generic. But of course, this is where the other influences come in.

Another very positive thing about the band is the main female vocals; the singer has a strong voice that definitely has her own personality stamped onto it and manages to avoid simply aping some of the bigger female vocalists out there. She has a versatile and powerful voice that oozes professionalism and quality.

Her voice is joined by choral backing vocals and harsher male shouting, as well as a guest spot from the singer of Soilwork.

These are enjoyable songs and the combination of the European Metal styles into one package gives Caelestia an identity of their own that differentiates them from the majority of their peers who play similar styles of music. It also lends the songs more depth than they’d otherwise have if the bite of the Melodic Death Metal or the musicality of the Progressive Metal were removed.

A very good listen. Check them out and see if you agree.

Ghost Season – Ghosts Like Her (Review)

Ghost SeasonThis is the latest EP from Ghost Season who are from Greece. They play Modern/Alternative Metal.

The band have a strong, professional sound and waste no time in grabbing the attention of the listener.

This is Modern/Alternative Metal with clean vocals and easy harmonies. Imagine a Heavy Metal band that were more influenced by Modern Alternative Metal and the New Wave of American Heavy Metal than anything from the European scenes and you’ll have an idea of where Ghost Season are coming from.

In fact, the only real nod to the European scene is Ghost Season’s inclusion of a good amount of guitar solos, which is something that’s less prevalent in the previously mentioned styles and something that I’m very glad they incorporate into their sound.

Don’t let references to the NWOAHM fool you though, as apart from the occasional backing vocal there’s no real shouting, nor is there any angry pseudo-Hardcore breakdowns here; the singer has a fluidly melodic voice and the music has a good, hearty Modern Rock influence to it.

These songs slip out of the speakers like they wouldn’t harm a fly, but then Ghost Season’s intention isn’t to threaten. The band aim to make music that’s melodic and polished without losing its passion and vibrancy. For the most part it succeeds and Ghosts Like Her is an enjoyable collection of tracks.

The band sometimes remind me of a modern interpretation of 90’s Alternative Rock and even with the thoroughly modern sheen of Ghosts Like Her I can’t help but feel vaguely nostalgic when listening to it.

Give them a listen and see if they hit that right note for you.

Favourite Track: Need.

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.

Orbseven – .ismos. (Review)

OrbsevenOrbseven is a solo project from the US and this is the third album of Experimental Black Metal that the project has unleashed.

This is a combination of electric Black Metal, sleek Post-Black Metal and ambient/avant-garde darkness. It’s an interesting combination and the resulting album is an exploration of state-of-the-art Blackness and atmospheric expression.

Darkened sounds and interesting effects enhance the tracks in a way that’s subtle enough to not steal any thunder from the main driving force of the guitars but has enough impact to be noticeable.

The songs are propelled by Blackened melodies and experimental sound structures, but there’s also enough Post-Black Metal wanderings to allow the room for shades of both light and dark. They’re well written, have great dynamics and are potent affairs.

.ismos. fosters an atmosphere that’s vaguely mechanistic but overtly malevolent and mysterious. Everything about this album from the music itself to the album cover deals in these mysteries and although there are no answers forthcoming the search for them is what’s important.

The vocals are a curious and varied affair. Multiple styles collide as spoken/distorted words, barely audible pseudo-ethereal sounds and subtle cleans all appear at various times during the tracks.

If you think along the lines of Dødheimsgard, Aborym, Red Harvest and Arcturus then you’ll have a good idea of the basic building blocks of the Orbseven sound. There’s even a couple of riffs here and there that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mastodon album.

Orbseven is a creative and novel approach to what Black Metal should sound like in 2014. Taking the basic Black Metal template and building/distorting it is common enough, but the always interesting thing is where the band ends up once they have done this. In the case of Orbseven we end up with Experimental/Post-Black Metal that rolls smoothly out of the speakers.

A great effort – show your support.

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.

Spontane – Mojra (Review)

SpontaneSpontane are from Poland and this is their second release.

It starts with a riff, and a good one at that. In fact this release is peppered with them. Riffs fall like mana from the sky and our job as good listeners is to be thankful and eat them all up quickly.

This is high-energy Melodic Metal with a healthy Hard Rock attitude and liberal use of Stoner Metal touches. The riffs come thick and fast and the melodics back this up well.

Vocals are in Polish and are shouted out with vigour and passion. The main vocals sync very well with the backing vocals and the music to create a cohesive delivery that is very well done indeed.

The band seem to have an easy talent for creating catchy, memorable songs with plenty of hooks. This is a great set of tunes and a very strong album.

The relative obscurity of the band and their Polish delivery will probably limit their international appeal somewhat, which is a real shame as this is a very good band. I see no reason why Spontane shouldn’t be primed for big things in the Metal world on the back of this release. It has attitude, style and songs; a dangerous combination.

Listen to Spontane loud and get ready to Rock out hard.

Nothgard – Age of Pandora (Review)

NothgardNothgard are from Germany and this is their second album of Melodic Metal.

Nothgard specialise in epic and stirring Melodic Metal. They have a Melodic Death/Black Metal base with a Power/European Metal covering. Think of a Power Metal band who have Symphonic leanings. Then, make them heavier and give them a vocalist who uses serrated screams as his main form of attack. This is Nothgard.

It’s technically proficient and rabble rousing at the same time; a rare combination of clinical application and emotional drive. As I listen to them I can’t help but just get swept away with their enthusiasm and passion of delivery.

The songs are typically catchy and high energy. It’s immediately apparent that this is a quality album with lots of hooks and memorable melodies; the more you listen to it the more this reinforces itself.

The vocalist mainly screams his way through the songs, although he also has a versatile enough voice to deliver deeper grunting and some semi-cleans for added effect.

The guitar playing is flawless and the amount of solos and leads is like the most sugary of treats.

Symphonic and keyboard ostentation is constant and seems to sometimes even merge with the guitars at a cellular level. It’s exciting stuff!

Of course not everyone enjoys this very European-styled Melodic Metal, but if you’ve a taste for this kind of thing then Nothgard do it better than most. As for me, I haven’t heard an album in this style that I’ve enjoyed this much for quite some time.

Check out Nothgard and play them loud.

https://www.facebook.com/Nothgard

Ann My Guard – Innocence Descent (Review)

Ann My GuardAnn My Guard are from Hungary and play Melodic Rock/Metal. This is their début album.

Mixing the extravagance of bands like Evanescence and Lacuna Coil with the Earthy grit of bands like Hole, Ann My Guard have produced a very impressive début.

The singer has a very powerful voice that’s versatile and strong. The vocals seems to seep from every pore of the music, however they don’t overpower it as the band has a core of Rock/Metal that refuses to be subdued.

This is richly melodic and falls on the more commercial side of the Modern Metal spectrum, although that certainly doesn’t intrinsically mean anything is wrong with it. Quite the reverse in fact, as the songs are strongly written and well-produced.

Although the vocals are undoubtedly the central focus, the music doesn’t slack. The instruments are well played and have a good sound to them. The fact that the guitars are not completely watered down like some bands of a similar style to this should tell you all you need to know. Rather than a vehicle for a singer this is a real band, as the coherence of the album attests to.

The band create very lush and textured soundscapes, with plenty of piano and subtle sounds to accompany the traditional drums/bass/guitar triad. This is an album of memorable tunes and good songs.

Although a lot lighter and considerably less extreme than a lot of the stuff that makes its way onto this site, this is nonetheless a worthy acquisition for when you want something a bit less intense and a lot more floating-ly melodic.

Check them out and have a listen.

Star Insight – Messera (Review)

Star InsightThis is the début album by Finnish Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal band Star Insight.

First off – I like the album cover. A good start.

This is futuristic Cyber-Metal with Symphonic Black Metal elements in the style of Neurotech, The Kovenant and certain Samael material, and anyone familiar with these bands will immediately have a good idea of what Star Insight sound like.

The band are actually a bit more varied than a lot of this kind of stuff and have a good ear for a song. A lot of these tracks are catchy and filled with hooks and unless you’re completely inured to this style it’s hard not to like them. They have a good Power/Euro Metal influence which gives them an edge over similar bands. Add to this a harsher, Dimmu Borgir-style influence and you have a recipe for quite the enjoyable album.

Vocals are predominately harsh, slightly-deeper-than-the-norm Black Metal vocals. One of the main ways Star Insight differentiate themselves from the aforementioned bands though is through the inclusion of clean and semi-clean vocals, and these are extremely good. The singer has a good range and runs the gamut between these styles. Female vocals also appear on Poem of Misery which sound great and add another aspect to the band’s sound, even if it is for only the one track.

The songs never have a chance to outstay their welcome as only two of them breach the 4 minute mark. Instead, we get focused and catchy songs aimed at maximum enjoyment in minimal time.

The symphonic elements and effects are never overbearing and add to the songs rather than smothering them.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable album that I like way more than I thought I would; the band are more adventurous and varied than I was expecting and this is to their credit.

Give Star Insight some of your time.

Deathwhite – Ethereal (Review)

DeathwhiteDeathwhite are from the US and play Melodic Metal.

A short acoustic intro, (the title track), sets the scene before launching into the first track proper When I (Wasn’t) You. It’s clear that bands like Katatonia, Paradise Lost and Anathema are influences and Deathwhite make the most of this legacy whilst making their own mark with these inspirations in mind.

The tracks are emotive and expressive, with instruments played with real feeling. Due to the style the songs sound instantly welcoming; the melodic nature of the riffs; the Doom Metal tinges; the clean singing almost angelic; it’s a heady package.

The riffs have a Post-Black Metal feel to them in addition to the aforementioned influences; these are set against a backdrop of heartfelt vocals that are like liquid silk floating delicately on the sea of Melodic Metal. Said riffs act as soft waves and the drums are ripples from gently dropping rain.

The plaintive tones and singing combine to make a carefully crafted set of songs that pluck at the heartstrings whilst still retaining a healthy, heavy, Metal persona.

25 minutes of quality Metal written and performed to a high standard. Recommended.