When an artist or a band decides to mix together different styles and influences, the result usually depends on two main factors: first, it’s necessary that the various components are well-balanced and there is not one that prevails excessively on the other; then, it’s desirable that such a combination of ingredients produces a music that’s original as it’s enjoyable and nice to hear. The Last Rain, which is the new album released by Cân Bardd, aims at blending together atmospheric black metal with folk music. And the goal is achieved with excellent results on all fronts: fluidity, balance and originality.
To make things even more amazing, we shall consider that Cân Bardd is basically a one-man-band project created by Malo Civelli, from Switzerland, and that The Last Rain is just his second LP after last year’s debut LP Nature Stays Silent. Everything suggests here that we’re in front of another creative genius of black atmospheric music and, in this respect, it’s fairly curious that this album arrives just a few weeks after we enjoyed Emin Guliyev‘s new Violet Cold LP. Civelli and Guliyev evidently share the same tastes for atmospheric and evocative music, but also a similar approach to composition and recording.
As said, Marco Civelli plays all the main instruments that we hear in his songs: guitars, bass, vocals and keyboards. Keyboards and orchestration, in particular, seem to play a fairly important role in Civelli’s music and it’s not by chance that he’s also the keyboardist of another Swiss folk metal act called Kaatarakt, which has released to date a couple of nice EPs. As we could expect, atmospheric and folk components have a prominent role in The Last Rain. In the album, there are really many long sections, and even one entire song (Fog of War), without the presence of a proper metal section. This stylistic choice creates a situation in which the artist draws fascinating and evocative musical landscapes that slowly become darker, and incrementally loaded with underlying energy and tension until the heaviest sections eventually arrive and shock the listener with dramatic power and the intrinsic sadness of black metal progressions. This process takes place with remarkable naturalness, and the softer and heavier moments alternate in an absolutely brilliant way. As a matter of fact, The Last Rain demonstrates a maturity of songwriting and also a musical sensibility that many bands reach only after decades of extensive playing, if they get it at all.
The Last Rain is an excellent new entry in that category of albums which manage to combine elegance with desperation, delicacy with heaviness, originality with enjoyability. And it’s also a work that allows us to appreciate the qualities of a promising musician, one who has managed to achieve an impressive level of maturity in the time-span of just a few years.
My overall rating for the LP is 7/10. My favourite song of the album is Celestial Horizon.
The Last Rain is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.
It’s always a great pleasure when I discover a new musical formation that manages to offer something new and different from the standard. And Latum Alterum, which is the debut album from the American doom metal band named The Sabbathian, was really an happy surprise for me.
The chronicles say that The Sabbathian have been playing their original style of music since the last six years, initially as a trio but then becoming a duo, and before this year’s debut LP they released in 2014 a first EP, named Ritual Rites, which honestly I missed. The music played by The Sabbathian develops from a solid foundation of occult doom metal. Starting from that, multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis and Norwegian fascinating singer Anette Uvaas Gulbrandsen have incorporated many other elements but still managing to maintain a great balance among the various components.
Among the principal external influences that we recognize in their music there is a style of sound that seems taken from sacred music, which produces enchanting atmospheres that oscillate between the mystic and the occult. In this respect, Gulbrandsen’s gothic style of singing perfectly accompanies the music. Even more interesting, however, is the persistent presence of black metal elements, which give the songs a profound sense of obsessiveness and repetitiveness. The final result is that many of the songs of the album are hypnotic and you feel the chills on your skin even after the songs are finished.
Being able to mix together apparently distant elements in the metal spectrum requires a musical sensibility that’s out of the ordinary, especially when the different ingredients produce something extremely homogeneous and absolutely enjoyable to listen to as is the case of The Sabbathian’s new record. In this sense I really hope that the duo will keep moving on this direction in their future works.
In summary: Latum Alterum is definitely a solid and fascinating record from a band that arrives at their debut LP with a style of music that’s already mature and also relatively original. My overall rating for the album is 7/10.
My favorite song is the mesmerizing track named Liti Kjersti, but also Head of a Traitor and the concluding song Evig Hvile are extremely interesting to hear.
August, the peak of summer (at least here in the northern emisphere), the season of the year dominated by sun and light. In order to pursue one of those dramatic contrasts that make our days more interesting, I decided today to enter the darkest and mournful of the music genres: black metal.
Everyone who has the habit, for delight or work, to follow sistematically the new releases in the world of music, will have already noticed how black metal, despite being definitely one of the most “extreme” types of music, is actually one of the genres of metal that is characterized by the largest number of publications. There is no single friday without the release of a handful of new LPs of black metal, from all over the world. There are many reasons behind this phenomenon, and one is certainly related to the fact that to play and compose black music is relatively simple, at least respect to other kinds of metal. In general terms you need much less tools (i.e. money) and skills to start playing black metal, think for example at the comparison with progressive metal or technical death metal. For young musicians it is relatively simple and immediate to be together in yourself in a basement, or in in an amateur rehearsal room, and start playing a sequence of chords with the tremolo technique and then, in very short time, to have your own black metal piece. And then there is the fascination fof the occult, the dark themes, or the ancient legends.
To find among the hundreds of records that are released every month those which are truly worthy of our attention is certainly a non-trivial operation. And that’s why, in the end, the artists who manage to stand out among the mass of lower quality bands are typically those who manage to infuse some truly personal and unique element in this kind of music. And that’s why, in the list that I’m presenting to you today, there are many records that even if based on a black metal “framework”, often diverge towards particular and innovative directions.
Enjoy the reading, listen to the music presented for each album, and at the end of the list you can access two different black metal playlists that I’m managing and updating on Spotify. And don’t forget to comment if you feel I missed some very important album in the list.
#1) Shining, “Varg Utan Flock”
Shining, from Sweden, are one of the most regular and longeve bands in black metal. For about twenty years they have released a new album with a cadence of two or three years, and almost every time their records maintain the same structure of six songs including one instrumental track (which is in most of the cases the fifth song of the album). Their release of 2018, Varg Utan Flock, is no exception and presents almost the same winning formula of their previous albums: an interesting version of depressive and experimental black metal which incorporates many elements from thrash and other intriguing inserts from jazz and rock.
The music of Shining has been always influcenced by the the strong and controversial personality of its founder, the guitarist and vocalist Niklas Kvarforth, a man who has often claimed to suffer from mental illnes and whose inner torments have been always part of the creative process. And you can really feel the genius but also the issues of Kvarforth’s complex mental processes in the music he composed for the album.
From a musical point of view, one of the elements that makes this album particularly enjoyable is the brilliant alternation of different moments, in particular the alternation between furious sections and slower and more expressive moments. The result is an album that is quite unique for the way it is at the same time extremely “black” and brutal, but still accessible also for those who are not completely familiar with the genre.
#2) Primordial, “Exile Amongst the Ruins”
Celtic Folk & Black Metal
Exile Amongst the Ruins, the last album from the Irish celtic black metal legends Primordial, presumably this year holds the record of the album that has been stationing for more time in my music player. And that’s not by chance. Although there have been other songs and records that gave me even more intense and memorable emotions, in the end a few records demonstrated to be longeve and adaptable to different situations as the last beautiful work from Primordial. The band doesn’t need too many introductions: as a matter of fact they’re playing their music since twentyfive years, and generally with excellent results. One of the characteristics they have shown during all of this time, and which is confirmed in their most recent release, his the capacity to blend together all the elements of their style into a mix that results always well-balanced. And this is the secret that gives their LPs such an impressive longevity: it is the average value of their music which stands well above the mass. This doesn’t mean that there arn’t songs more exciting than others, and in their last LP in fact we have a couple of phenomenal tracks (“To Hell or the Hangman” is absolutely my favorite). The fact is that Primordial just don’t know how to write bad or meaningless songs, and you can listen on repeat their discs for hours and hours. The style of music of the band is an extremely melodic version of black metal, enriched with doomy atmospheres as well as folk and celtic elements. With the years their music has been every time more focused and perfectioned. And today they have crafted an album where every piece is at the right place, you couldn’t imagine anything different from what you’re listening. The instrumental parts, in particular, deserve a special mention: probably you won’t listen anything more haunting, absorbing and fascinating than the melodic riffs that are fitted in this very good LP.
#3) Hoth, “Astral Necromancy”
Melodic & Atmospheric Black Metal
Every so often you come across a record that exceeds your initial expectations and this was the case for me with Astral Necromancy, the newest LP from the American metal band Hoth. I admit that my knowledge of the band was superficial and this album, which is the third in the band’s discography, came for me as a great surprise. Hoth plays a truly inspired and engaging atmospheric black metal, which is full of interesting melodic and harmonic elements and which is graced by light notes of gothic and power metal. The duo of musicians who are behind this project show a remarkable maturity and confidence in developing their musical style, which manages to escape easy tags and etiquettes whilst maintaining a certain coherence throughout the album. The release notes mention the fact that Astral Necromancy is the product of three intense years of writing and composition, in which “all songs were reworked and rearranged until they reached the perfection“. Beyond any possible discussion wheter the eleven tracks of the album are really perfect or not, what we can say for sure is that the result of such patient work of refinement and consolidation proved to be very effective. Astral Necromancy is a very solid and thrilling album of modern atmospheric black metal as a matter of fact there are no gaps in both the intensity and quality of the music across all the eleven tracks of the LP.
#4) Varathron, “Patriarchs of Evil”
Varathron is a well-known black metal group from Greece, arrived nowadays at the threshold of thirty years of an interesting career. And as often happens in music, the most historical and mature groups are those that show the most evident desire to keep their sound fresh and also the greater desire to innovate. Patriarchs of Evil, their new record, offers to us the possibility to embark on a dark and disturbing journey into the world of the occultism, mystery and timeless legends. With their relatively soft and melodic version of black metal, the eight tracks composed by the Greek line-up are characterized by an satisfying level of quality and also offer a good variety of styles and atmospheres.
#5) Zeal & Ardor, “Stranger Fruit”
Avant-garde Black Metal
Avant-garde is a challenging genre of music that typically you want to take at little doses. Stranger Fruit, the new album from the brilliant mind of Swiss-American artist Manuel Gagneux, shows that there are still pleasant exceptions to the rule. The LP in fact manages to combine the experimental spirit and the desire to break the canons – which are indeed typical of this form of music – with an accessibility and enjoyability of listening that instead are rare qualities for a record of avant-garde metal. The music offered in the second album by Zeal & Ardor, Gagneux’s music project that has now become a full-fledged band, mixes with courage and skill the sonic elements typical of black metal with ritual songs, sacred and profane hymns, atmospheric elements and noise rock inserts, still succeeding in giving a good consistency to the entire record. The singing style and the thematic consistency that permeate the pieces provide a further element of homogeneity and implements a true conceptual thread guiding the listener throughout the sixteen chapters of this hallucinated journey with the dead and the dying. We are far away from those “extreme” albums that may intrigue you for a couple of listens but which then remain invariably buried by the dust. Stranger Fruit represents the output of a talented artist with is a clear vision; this is avant-garde music gifted by a sense of “musicality” which, fortunately, still remains the central element of the work.
#6) Dimmu Borgir, “Eonian”
Symphonic Black Metal
It has been quite a long time before than Dimmu Borgir released a new album, and we can say that it was definitely worth to wait all these years. Eonian, the latest LP from the Norwegian black metal masters, is their first original studio album in nearly 8 years following 2010’s LP Abrahadabra. The reception of this new work has been mixed… many critics and fans have in fact argued over the atmospheres farly “positive” that permeate the songs of the record. Really this new record moves away enough from the cliché of the dark and demonic album that you would expected from this kind of formation. I believe, however, that these nordic metalheads, once arrived at the important result of the tenth album of their discography, and given also the difficulties they encountered to make this new work, have absolutely the right to direct their music wherever they like, as long as the change is the result of a genuine evolution of style and not a mere choice for higher commercial returns. As a matter of fact, it it’s true that the symphonic elements of the songs have lost the “evil” and evocative spirit of the past, but at the same time the new album remains fierce and sanguine, and it also presents a stylistic and compositional consistency that’s absolutely worthy of our respect.
#7) Harakiri For The Sky, “Arson”
Harakiri for the Sky is a very interesting band from Austria. Initially started as a studio project with only two members playing all the instruments, the band eventually became a full fledged formation ready for the stage. Year after year, and thanks to a bunch of good albums released since their formation in 2011, this group of post-black metallers is now getting increasing attentions from both fans and critics. In 2018 the band has published a new full-lenght album, Arson, the fourth in their discography. Arson absolutely confirms the good things that were said about the band in the past years and it also presents a few important elements of innovation in their sound, in particular in the way the conventional elements of this genre of music – which is basically a bridge between black metal and post metal – are sometimes elaborated in a more personal and somehow unortodox way. There is for example an increased recourse to more melodic, harmoniuous and clean sections than what the band was used to do in their early and more rough works. As a result, Arson feels more accessible than the typical post-black metal album, but without losing too much in terms of intensity and melancholy.
#8) Arkona, “Khram”
Folk Black Metal
In recent times it seems to me that evey new record coming from Russia has something magical and mystical. And the new work by Arkona, the Moscow-based black metal formation, it’s no exception. Khram, the latest full-lenght record in the band’s long discography, it is a concentrate of dark atmospheres and pagan music, with songs that manage to leave a mark of gloom in the listener’s soul. One of the building blocks of the album is clearly the third track of the LP, Tseluya zhizn’, an epic work of more than seventeen minutes after which nothing to hyoui will seem the same than before. I listened to the song during a running workout in the late evening, I was alone in the dark, moving into the streets of my city with the music playing loud in my headphones. My heart was beating as fast as if I were running away from a pagan rite, the atmosphere turned black and my breath was heavier than usual. And the that follow don’t dissolve the tension accumulated by this incredible song, rather they amplify its effects with tremendous beauty.
#9) Watain, “Trident Wolf Eclipse”
Watain is an historic Swedish trio which has been playing black metal for over twenty years, in general with good fortunes. In their new release, Trident Wolf Eclipse, the band seems to have given up on pursuing the musical evolution towards the more progressive version of black metal which characterized their controversial 2013 album The Wild Hunt, returning to a classic version of black metal. Despite this clear step backwards, the new album from Watain is still interesting, quite varied in its songs, but – most important – supported by incessant and brutal rhythms.
#10) Summoning, “With Doom We Come”
Epic & Atmospheric Black Metal
Summoning is a legendary duo of atmospheric black metal artists from Austria. Since the day of their formation, back in 1993, they have released eight full-lenght albums but, more importantly, they have cemented a family of passionate and loyal supporters. The music from Summoning is quite easy to recognize: programmed drums, layers of keyboards, medium to slow rhythms, and epic walls of guitars with atmospheric elements. The last album from the band, With Doom We Come, for better or for worse seems to carry forward the same approach of the previous releases but, in the end, it seems to lack the brilliance of the most successful albums of their career. For a band that structures their songs around a single riff, much of the beauty of their production depends on how much inspired are the musical motifs on top of which the tracks are built and how these musical elements manage to generate memorable soundscapes. And Summoning’s new album, although it offers a solid black metal experience, seems to miss something of the atmospheres of their previous works. It still remains, however, among the finest black metal productions we have listened so far in 2018.
If you arrived down at the bottom of this long article I assume you enjoyed the reading and could be interested in listening to more black metal music.
Here there are two different playlists that I created on Spotify. The first is called SOULS OF BLACK and it’s collecting all the best black metal songs as soon as they are published. It is the primary black metal compilation that is associated with the blog.
The second playlist, named LOVE & PAIN, is dedicated to the sub-genre of atmospheric black metal. Follow the playlists and check them periodically because both are updated with new tracks.
(March 25th, 2018) A rebel group in Yemen said it fired a volley of ballistic missiles toward cities in Saudi Arabia late Sunday, including the capital, Riyadh, where at least one person was killed by shrapnel, according to a statement by the rebels and the official Saudi Press Agency. The Saudi military said it had intercepted seven missiles, including three aimed at Riyadh, where red missile trails were visible in the night sky amid loud booms. The military’s claim could not be independently confirmed. Videos shared on social media appeared to show a projectile — possibly a Patriot missile sent to intercept the incoming rebel fire — crashing to the ground shortly after it was launched. (The Washington Post)
A few weeks ago a was in Riyadh for business. My hotel was located close to the area of the airport, the intended target of the ballistic missile attack conducted against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A was awaken by the shockwave and the blast of the batteries of Patriot interceptors: three fires for each incoming missile, nine fires in total.
This mixtape was inspired by the events of that night and you’ll find there some of the heaviest and strongest metal tracks of the last few months. The tracklist features bands such as Necrophobic, Morbid Angel, Decapitated and Voidhanger. Enjoy this mixtape and scroll down after the widget for the lyrics of the selected songs from the compilation (you’ll see how they are related to the main subject of the mixtape)
TSAR BOMBA by Necrophobic
I am the master A ruler of things to be A matter aware of itself Destined to rise above I am a slave Addicted to my purpose No limits no boundaries can hold me down I am the envy of god
Tsar Bomba Behold the star Risen from the ashes of Eden Behold the Tsar The final round Revenge The serpent grin
Tsar Bomba The crown of man Risen from the ashes of slavery Behold the Tsar The final round Rise The serpent
We are the masters We suck the blood of life Impaler of gods, destroyer of lies We hear the call from flesh We are legion, we are one We are the crown of creation Deemed to march with open eyes We are the envy of gods
Hail thee, o serpent The offering that made us open our eyes Out of the suffocating bliss of Eden Our will shall be the whole of the law
I taste the unholy forbidden enigma A succulent bitterness grasps my soul Vanya, kuzkina mat
For thousands of aeons Through chaos I have dwelled I am the one of many names Rejected, cast aside
I’ve mastered the master Set the spark of life aflame I’ve planted my seed The will to power The nectar of the gods
EARTH SCAR by Decapitated
I scarify my brain with memories The intensive taste of yesterday’s air The breath of freedom, the breath of fate Distance between million names and places The touch of native life, the culture’s spell I’m a man born to settle but with soul born to stray
The source of my being, the core of this path I’m raising my army stronger than death
The sacred art of waiting, humble votary Time leaks through the days lost in dissolving dates The hour of sacrum. The sacrum of stage Sweet mantra of life, the cure that revives! I morph into the shaman performing the rite Trance of the screaming faces, the voice of my tribe Mellifluous prayer that will never fade Hear the common rhythm pulsating in our veins
The source of my being, the core of this path I’m raising my army stronger than death
I’m digging my earth scar. Step after step Against everything I follow my fate I’m digging, my earth scar till I dig my grave Wherever I’ll fall, I’ll fall as a fulfilled man!
I’m digging my earth scar. Step after step Against everything I follow my fate
DECLARING NEW LAW (SECRET HELL) by Morbid Angel
Bring before me anyone who opposes my name Bring before me any voice that speaks in disdain of me Bring before me any force that would challenge my will Bring before me every vessel that is filled with doubt
Erase them from my kingdom We have no way to feed them Burn down every home that keeps them safe at night Rape them as you wish their daughters Feed the wolves their mothers, erase them Make sure that every father sees his son die, before he bleeds Erase them and let the kingdom see it
Erase them Take the gold and burn the rest Torture any fool that does not submit Erase them Have them swear devotion, then cut out their tongue Torture any fool that does not submit Make them believe in this
NAPRZOD DONIKAD! by Voidhanger
(translated from Polish)
Dawn like dawn, drunk with disgust
Extending the night stoned with emptiness
He will leave as he came, without fire and trumpets
In the silence of a fall louder than bombs
But before he goes away, I will look again A body of hope unaware of his death And with an anointing spit in her face faded Greetings bitch, now and always
Forward to nowhere! Up a banner of doubt
Listen to the song of agony A foul prophecy A thousand swan songs From the throat of silent death A new type of hell, asphalt kitchen Here, God is looking at me, with the eyes of ruins
Forward to nowhere! Up a banner of doubt With nothing in the eyes and anger on the lips Long live the destruction!
Poisonous bitterness of being The essence of true faith Tomorrow will be like yesterday Only paler, colder
And nothing will change, an endless end
The pantheon of the vacuum is burning with the fire of madness
A new type of hell, asphalt kitchen
Here, God is looking at me, with the eyes of ruins
THE ANTAGONIST by Farsot
With the will to break restraints Driven by sensuality and spirit Torn back and torn forth From reality to illusion
Quixotic games you play Dazed by the grace of fiction A naked soul, without a shell (a tool) is celebrating
Beauty… the great heaven Great heaven
Sublime and transcendent Opaque, veiled and deceiving A flower which inflicts fierce wounds Black queen against the pawn Your renaissance is my downfall
Who am I?
Trapped in the spell Of aesthetic contemplation Out of virtue and rigid reason Just to obey thy rule
Who am I?
Insatiable desire Can never be satisfied Deceptive games Never be won Never be won…
VICTIMS OF A CLOWN by Ministry
Polarized, divisive drowning in strife Technically I still exist, but not in my mind Wake up, take it in, exhale, repeat Fire up, freak out, let it go Angry man Septic tank Orange Toxic lies Rejection of reality Cuts through like a knife Wake up, take it in, exhale, repeat Fire up, freak out, let it go Silence of majority Silver linings prevail Golden dreams remember Remember to…
It’s not common nor easy that an album of extreme metal reaches the prestigious club of the Best New Music, but in the case of Mark of the Necrogram, which is the new album released by Swedish metal band Necrophobic, this result was the minimum that I could do to reward the quality of this record. I must admit, however, that I have always felt a special bond with those groups that are able to insert melodic elements within extreme metal and this feature is exactly one of the keys to the success of this record.
Necrophobic are absolutely not a group of young metalheads. These Swedish musicians are about to reach the 30-year milestone of an intense career in which, between highs and lows and also the inevitable changes in the line-up, they have however achieved a prominent figure in the international death metal scene.
One of the peculiarities of the new album is also the return – after over twenty years of absence – of the band’s first singer, Anders Strokirk, who participated to the recording of the the legendary debut album The Nocturnal Silence and then left the band. It was the year 1993, rock radios were rotating the songs of Metallica’s Black Album and at that time there weren’t so many bands playing the kind of music that these guys developed for their debut. Twenty five years later, blackened death metal is a style that is quite inflated and it’s not easy to emerge from the crowd. What is then the secret that allowed this group to push themselves on top of the list after so many years of activity and quite a good number of excellent releases? Listening to the disc we need only a few minutes to understand which is one of the main elements for the success of the band: the unique ability to bring out incredible and engaging riffs and melodic sequences. The naturalness with which sublime black metal riffs follow each other is almost embarrassing as it is fluid and spontaneous. And as a matter of fact the entire album is packed with some of the best guitar works we had the chance to listen so far in 2018.
From a musical point of view, the album manages to maintain itself in that delicate balance between the roughness and darkness of black metal and the greater complexity and articulation of death metal. The rhythms are wild and fierce on all the songs, and the final effect is that of a train launched in the darkness without any brakes. There are no moments of stilness or pauses to catch your breath, but it’s all like a dive into the void, a blind flight that you would never want to end for the emotions that you feel on your skin. The rhythms are sustained and the drums (which have here a fantastic sound) occasionally also show rhythms and grooves that go beyond the usual flat four quarter. A particular note of merit, finally, goes to the general production of the record, which has succeeded in enhancing all the different components of the songs.
I am aware that albums like Mark of the Necrogram can result absolutely controversial for those purists of extreme metal who shy away from the introduction of so many melodic elements into the songs, but when the quality of the riffs is so high we can only enjoy this music and appreciate the terrific balance that was reached between obscurity of the sound and accessibility of the songs.
And leaving aside all the discussions that you can read in these days on the forums about the fact that Necrophobic produced their best records in the early years of their career (this tends to be true for everybody), there are no doubts that the new and latest entry in their discography is definitely a fantastic LP and also one of the best metal albums we heard so far in 2018. This is a “must have” for metal lovers.
Mark of the Necrogram was released on February 23, 2018.
Compared to last year, the first part of 2018 has been extremely interesting for metal music and we actually had the opportunity to appreciate many different sub-genres. In particular, as you will see from this first edition of the TOP TEN METAL IN 2018, there have been many groups that managed to win our interest through refined, experimental and sophisticated styles of music.
Before starting with the chart, I’ll go with the usual recommendation for those of you who landed here via a search engine: please check if this is the most recent edition of the chart, you can easily browse the most recent publications in the metalsection of the blog. This list is the first one released for 2018 and it refers to the LPs released in the first 45 days of the year. Enjoy!
#1) VARG UTAN FLOCK by Shining
(Experimental Black Metal, SWEDEN)
VARG UTAN FLOK is the new album by Shining, from Sweden, which is one of the most regular and longeve bands in black metal. This work presents almost the same winning formula of their previous albums: an interesting version of depressive and experimental black metal which often incorporates many elements from thrash and, less frequently, other intriguing inserts from jazz and rock. You can read the full review of this album from here.
#2) SLOWGOD II by Grajo
(Psychedelic Doom Metal, SPAIN)
SLOWGOD II is the debut full-lenght album by Grajo, from Spain. The band plays a doomish version of stoner rock that manages to move with great ease between trippy moments and more abrasive sections. The LP consists of 6 tracks, all of them interesting and deep, with a couple of peaks which elevate the album among the best things we heard so far in 2018. I’ve been particularly impressed by Malstrøm, the epic sludge song which closes the album and that features 8 minutes of pure atmospheric beauty. Full review is available here.
#3) UNSUNG PROPHETS AND DEAD MESSIAHS by Orphaned Land
(Oriental Metal, ISRAEL)
UNSUNG PROPHETS & DEAD MESSIAHS is the last album by Orphaned Land, the Israeli metal band that many define as “the pioneers of oriental metal”. The LP is one of the best things they released in the recent past and it shows an impressive stylistic consistency across the entire album. The LP features the usual fusion between different genres and cultures, and we can appreciate how the specific elements of Middle Eastern music are guiding the development of the song, both in the riffing sections and the choruses. Full review is available here.
#4) BOUNDLESS by Long Distance Calling
(Post Metal, GERMANY)
BOUNDLESS, the new album from German post metal quartet Long Distance Calling, offers a sensational sequence of epic instrumental songs filled with suspence and sonic explosions. What differentiates this music from your typical post metal album is the incredible smoothness between the various stages of the development of the songs and also the beauty of the melodies and the riffs that we find, of first quality. Full review is available here.
#5) SANGUE CASSIA by Sinistro
(Post / Doom Metal, PORTUGAL)
SANGUE CASSIA, by Portuguese band Sinistro, is an album for those who have time. Time for long songs, time for repeated listens, time to get rid of distractions and be carried away by the incredible music played by this group. The members of the band use to describe their music as “cinematic”. And in fact they managed to create here extremely evocative atmospheres and suggestive soundscapes, on top of which we have one of the most beautiful voices of the current days. Full review is available here.
#6) ASTRALA by Unshine
(Gothic Metal, FINLAND)
ASTRALA is the new album by Unshine, a gothic metal band from Finland that is active since 2001 and which arrived, with this new release, to the fourth entry in their interesting discography. The band declares to play “druid metal”, but in the end their songs bring inside all the main elements of gothic music, in particular for what concerns the melanchonic, soft and feminine characters that we may appreciate in their music.
#7) KHRAM by Arkona
(Black / Folk Metal, RUSSIA)
KHRAM is the new full-lenght entry in the long discography of Arkona, a Moscow-based black metal formation, The album is a concentrate of obscure atmospheres and pagan music, with songs that manage to leave a mark of gloom in the listener’s soul. The LP features long and articulated tracks such as Tseluya zhizn’, which is an epic song of more than seventeen minutes of dark beauty.
#8) ARSON by Harakiri for the Sky
(Post Black Metal, AUSTRIA)
ARSON is the fourth album from Harakiri for the Sky, which is a very interesting band from Austria. They initially started as a studio project with only two members playing all the instruments but eventually become a complete line-up ready for the stage. The new album shows a few important elements of innovation in their sound, in particular for what concerns an increased recourse to melodic and clean sections.
#9) FOOTPRINTS IN THE ROCK by Trespass
(Heavy Metal, ENGLAND)
FOOTPRINTS IN THE ROCK is the most recent release by Trespass, a band born and established during the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and which went through a number of changes in the line-up and also a few periods of stand-by. The music played in the current days by Trespass is a blend of classic heavy metal with many rock influences. The band features three guitarists and the resulting effect is an hurricane of rock which releases healty doses of electrical energy, engaging riffs and tight rhythms.
#10) DEFY by Of Mice & Man
DEFY is the new album from the American metalcore band Of Mice And Men and it concludes a challenging period that the band suffered since a couple of years ago when the band had to face the departure from the formation of their charismatic lead singer, Austin Carlile, who was also one of the two founders of the group back in 2009. The remaing members decided to move on and this LP sees the band performing in the form of quartet, with the tasks of “unclean” vocalist taken in charge by bassist Aaron Pauley.
Since you are here, you may be interested in:
METAL MILITIA, THE MIXTAPE WITH THE BEST OF NEW METAL which features many of the bands that are part of this chart, together with other groups that released their latest LPs in the early part of 2018.
POST, a breathtaking compilation with the best of Post Metal and Post Rock, featuring – among the others – Harakiri for the Sky and Sinistro, two bands that were included in the current Top Ten for metal.
Shining, from Sweden, are one of the most regular and longeve bands in black metal. For about twenty years they have released a new album with a cadence of two or three years, and almost every time their records maintain the same structure of six tracks in the basic version of the album, with always an instrumental track which is in most of the cases the fifth song of the album. Their release of 2018, Varg Utan Flock, is no exception and presents almost the same winning formula of their previous albums: an interesting version of depressive and experimental black metal which often incorporates many elements from thrash and, less frequently, other intriguing inserts from jazz and rock.
The music of this band has been always influcenced by the the strong and controversial personality of its founder, guitarist and vocalist Niklas Kvarforth, a man who has often claimed to suffer from mental illnes and whose inner torments have been always part of the creative process. And as a consequence, listening to an album from this band projects us into a complex, dark and certainly problematic world. But rather than representing a simple element of costume in the iconography of the band, this compositional imbalance is reflected in the case of Shining in an extremely curious and dynamic music, never trivial and often enriched by a few touches of genius that raise the band’s production far beyond the simple boundaries of black metal.
One of the elements that makes this album particularly enjoyable is the brilliant alternation of different moments, in particular between the typical furious sections and slower and more expressive moments, which makes the listening enjoyable and interesting. In addition to that there is of course an extremely high overall quality of the songs, that are always involving and with a successful mix of brutality and accessibility.
The official release date of the album is January 5, 2017. The album can be streamed and acquired on bandcamp.
Inspired by the positive reactions I’ve had from the readers of this blog following the post I published a few days ago on Progressive Black Metal, I decided to collect the best songs from the bands and the artists that were mentioned in that chart and created a new mixtape, which has now become the most obscure and gloomy selection of metal you will find here in these pages.
The tracklist of the mixtape includes extracts from the recent albums by Antipope, Ne Obliviscaris, Enslaved, and other beautiful songs released early this year by Farsot and Sun Of The Sleepless. For more information about these bands and their songs, you may visit the original entry of the blog.
Love and Pain is a painting by Edvard Munch, It has also been called Vampire, though not by Munch. Munch painted six different versions of the subject in the period 1893–95. The painting shows a woman with long flame-red hair kissing a man on the neck, as the couple embrace. Although others have seen in it “a man locked in a vampire’s tortured embrace – her molten-red hair running along his soft bare skin,” Munch himself always claimed it showed nothing more than “just a woman kissing a man on the neck”. (from Wikipedia)
Inspired by a number of very good albums that were released in the last few months, I’m dedicating this post to a musical genre that despite being included into the “Extreme Metal” category (and, as such, followed by a tinier category of listeners with respect to other mainstream genres), nonetheless is capable to offer some of the most passionate and exciting songs across the entire musical panorama.
Within Progressive Black Metal I include a family of styles of music which span from Blackgaze to Progressive Metal. Within this this fairly wide grouping of genres, let’s see which have been the most interesting releases of the year, ranked from the best. These are six great albums from both relatively new bands and also legendary and well-renowned metal groups.
I spoke about the great work of Finnish Antipope in a recent post of the blog. The new album from these nordic metallers, named Denial/Survival, is in fact gifted by an huge amount of creativity and innovation.
Ten years ago the band started as a conventional black metal group. With each following release, however, they have incorporated many additional styles of music including progressive metal, gothic, doom and also an hint of industrial. With their forth full-lenght work the band has reached a point where an overwhelming number of different influences and techniques have been merged together creating something really new and quite unique in today’s music scene.
Enslaved, the legendary black metal band from Norway, arrived this year to the impressive result of releasing the fourteenth album of a long and influential career. Their biography says that at the turn of the new century the band started to insert incrementally progressive elements inside their original style, and the last album is a further confirmation of the approach they matured in the last decade.
The new album, named E, mixes some typical black metal moments with surprisingly softer and post-rock oriented passages. It’s clear that the two minds behind the band, Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjørnson, who are also the only remaining member of the original formation, are still driven by a huge creative fire and also by an evident desire to continue experimenting with sounds and grooves.
Ne Obliviscaris, Urn
Despite representing maybe a little step back from their absolutely beautiful first two albums, the last work from the Australian metal sextet Ne Obliviscaris still represents on of the best progressive metal releases of the year. Urn, their third and last full lenght releases, combines the incredible technical expertise that the guys form Melbourne had already shown in their previous works with an indisputable ability to develop enjoyable melodic lines that are never trivial or boring to hear.
With respect to the previous LPs of the band, the new album loses a bit of freshness and immediacy, but also testifies the effort made to introduce some new elements to evolve their sounds. We have here relatively darker and more introspective atmospheres, still supported by excellent songwriting skills.
Sun of the Sleepless, To The Elements
Behind the moniker Sun of the Sleepless we have the one-man experimenta metal project crated as back as 1999 by the talented German musician and singer Ulf Theodor Schwadorf. After a first phase in which he produced a bunch of EPs and a split album with German black metal band Nachtmahr, the project was basically put on hold for more than 10 years, actually until this new release of 2017, To The Elements.
The album shows how confident the German musician has become during the last decade in merging together black metal elements with ambient-like soundscapes and progressive rock influences. The combination of so different elements seems in fact absolutely natural, almost spontaneous, and this attests the impressive songwriting skills that Ulf Theodor Schwador has matured through the many experiences in which he’s been involved in the long time between the two phases of the Sun of the Sleepless project.
Violet Cold, Anomie
Violet Cold is an experimental one-man project crated by Emin Guliyev from Baku, in Azerbaijan, and Anomie is his fifth studio album released so far. His music has been described as depressive black metal, blackgaze or post black metal. But as sometimes happens, these kinds of tags and labels don’t explain completely the beauty – I would say the musical elegance – that lies behind the wall of sounds and the articulated melodies whic we find dispersed into such a beautiful record.
The six tracks of the album compose a long and mysterious musical journey into atmospheric and dark territories, with a few bright glows which every now and then illuminate the scene. Guliyev really managed to put together a refreshing and original sound which stands out from the mass of similar albums.
Farsot is a German metal band which released this year their third full-length release, Fail·Lure, which arrives on the shelves almost exactly ten years after their debut work. Despite being active for so many years, I have to admit that this group is one of those discoveries I did in the recent times thanks to the automatic playback function of Youtube.
Among the six albums included in this list, Fail·Lure is undoubtedly the one where the black metal’s sonorities are more present. Nonetheless, the songs of this album contain many elements of evolution from simple and straight black metal style, such as groovy riffs interleaved with disturbing atmospheric moments.
It’s not an ordinary thing in this blog that a black metal disc deserves an article for itself, and in that sense it might seem even more special an extreme metal album is included among the best releases of the month. In the case of Denial/Survival, the last work from the Finnish metallers Antipope, this achievement is justified by the huge amount of creativity and innovation that these guys from Oulu managed to fit into their fourth album.
Ten years ago this band started as a more conventional black metal group. With each following release, however, they have incorporated many additional styles of metal into their recipe, including progressive metal, gothic, doom and also an hint of industrial. With their forth full-lenght work, the band has reached a point where an overwhelming number of different influences and techniques have been merged together creating something really new and quite unique in today’s music scene. The single Water Below, which is also the first track of the album, is a good example of the peculiar style of Antipope. It starts with a stoner-like intro and a repeated note which gives than the way to an alternative metal riff (reminiscent of Tool), until a typical black metal tremolo and growling vocals take the lead.
The 10 songs of the album are full of similar surprises and fusions of different styles, but always keeping a good level of overall coherence throughout the entire LP.
Other tracks that result particulary interesting are Resolution, Hunt, and True Anarchist.
The album can be listened and acquired on bandcamp.
Usually progressive and mostly metal. Antipope crosses the imaginary boundaries between metal genres, taking the listener down the path of self-discovery, death, and re-Birth. This progressive metal masterpiece will take you on a trip from extreme metal to light, darkness, death and rebirth.
As the cold of winter approaches and the hours of light become shorter every day, let us be captured from the darkness of the most heavy and obscure sounds we can find today in metal.
TO FORGIVE IS TO SUFFER is the periodical compilation of this blog with the best of Death Metal. I present today the second issue of the series which includes tracks from the latest beautiful works by The Haunted, Dyscarnate, Enslaved, Sun Of The Sleepless and Integrity.
The compilation develops around one of the best – and underrated – horror movies which I saw when I was a teenager. I let you find the title. Let me just say that it deals with a sinister secret which has been kept in the basement of an abandoned Los Angeles church, something that could mean the end of the world.
This is not a dream… not a dream. We are using your brain’s electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing. Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness, but this is not a dream. You are seeing what is actually occurring for the purpose of causality violation.
We are rapidly approaching the first quarter of 2017 and in these first months of the year we could alrady listen and select a good bunch of metal albums. The most interesting albums we heard so far are indicated below; they are also organized into the different Continents of origin. As you can see the list is today dominated by Europe, which actually provided more than 50% of the total albums we selected.
We’ll update this chart regularly, so stay tuned and check for future evolutions of this geographical review of the best metal albums.
Obituary (United States). The legendary death metal band from Florida returns with their self-titled 10th studio album. Despite being one of the most successful death metal bands of all time (these guys are approaching 30 years of musical career), there is no sing of slowing down and this release keeps all the good elements of their last succesfull albums.
Power Trip (United States). This group of hardcore metallers from Texas released one of the best thrash album you will possibly hear this year, named Nightmare Logic.
Havok (United States). The thrash metal monsters from Denver, Colorado, published the fourth album of their career, Conformicide.
Code Orange (United States). The hardcore/metalcore band from Pennsylvania released their third studio album, Forever, which is also the band’s debut with a major label (Roadrunner). Here in this blog the album was selected as the best metal release in January 2017.
Final Drive (United States). This four piece band from St.Louis in Missouri delivers a furious and energic southern groove thrash metal. Their last work, Dig Deeper, is the fifth of their career since their debut in 2004.
Austral (Chile). We eventually encountered this relatively young and unsigned folk metal band from Santiago del Chile, which released a very interesting studio album, named Patagonia. You must check it out.
Memoriam (England). Former members of Bolt Thrower and Benediction joined their efforts in this new metal project. Their debut album, For the Fallen, somehow continues where Bolth Thrower left off and delivers a solid old school death metal with dense atmospheres and beautiful vocals.
The Project Hate MCMXCIX (Sweden). The industrial & experimental death metal project led by Lord K Philipson released another great album, named Of Chaos And Carnal Pleasures, which here in this blog topped the metal chart in February 2017.
Dead Trails (England). This young death metal band from Salisbury has published their debut self-titled album, packed with fast paced, aggressive and well written songs.
Solitary (England). A band of long-term metallers from Lancashire which released an enjoable and energetic old-school thrash metal album, named The Diseased Heart Of Society.
Swarm (France). This is a young metal band from French Riviera which has released their first LP, Divisions & Disharmony. The album presents a good blend of groove, thrash and hardcore and we shall definitely monitor their future steps.
Decadence (Sweden). One of the many good metal bands from North Europe. This is a thrash metal quintet from Stockholm which published Undergrounder, the fifth full-length album of their career.
Zerozonic (Norway). An interesting group of groove metallers from Kristiansand, which published a self-titled studio album interrupting a five-year hiatus since their previous release.
Soen (Sweden). The progressive metal supergroup (originally featuring former Opeth drummer Martin Lopez and monster bassist Steve Di Giorgio) has released the third full-lenght studio album, Lykaia, which presents heavy traces of Tool and Anathema.
Angry Again (Switzerland). An unsigned thrash/groove metal band from St. Gallen, which released their second full-lenght album, named Divide and Conquer.
Asyllex (Faroe Islands). Maybe the youngest band of this chart, this is an unsigned thrash metal outfit coming from Famjin and inspired by bands like Kreator, Megadeth and Arch Enemy. They have released their debut album, named War Order.
Battle Beast (Finland). These heavy & power metallers from Helsinki have released their fourth album, Bringer of Pain, which is rich of polished and entertaining heavy metal tracks but is definitely not interesting as their previous works (this can largely be attributed to the departure of original guitarist and main songwriter of the band).
Opposer (Spain). This is a band from Cantabria that plays an old school mixture of death and thrash metal. They have published their new album, Darkest Path, which is full of 80’s and 90’s influences.
Violet Cold (Azerbaijan). The experimental one-man band from Baku has published what we expect will remain as one of the finest and most elegant metal releases of 2017, named Anomie. This is a pure gem: an impressively immediate album which contains a selection of wonderful atmospheric black metal songs.
Serenity in Murder (Japan). The symphonic female-fronted melodic death metal quinted from Tokyo has published the third full-lenght album of their career, named Eclipse. Nice songs if you like the epic approach to metal.
Edit: there is an updated chart for the best metal albums in 2017. Check it out from the home page.
In a period of absence of major publications, we’ve been able to focus our attention on those niche works that represent the undergrowth of the metal world. We discovered new groups from the most disparate parts of our globe; we noted with pleasure that a few legacy indie groups keep on releasing very good material without chasing the lure of commercial success; we appreciated the effort from a number of bands in exploring remote musical territories. We draw the conclusion that metal is still alive, sometimes it manages to reinvent itself by merging together different techniques and multiple inspirations, generating sometimes results that exceed expectations.
This is the list of the best 10 metal albums we listened in the first two months of 2017. You will probably find some groups of which you had no knowledge before. Probably, towards the end of the year, these little jewels will suffocate under the weight of the great metals albums to come. But, for now, let them enjoy this unexpected visibility.
Of Chaos and Carnal Pleasures is the eleventh studio release from the Swedish death-metal project founded by Lord K. Philipson, a project which sees Philipson as the only fixed member in the band; on every album he’s supported by a wide array of musicians. The six songs in this self-released work mixes together a number of different inspirations but the final result is far from being chaotic. This is indeed an excellent and very enjoyable collection of eclectic and progressive tracks. (Sub-genres: Death, Progressive, Experimental, Technical Death, Industrial)
Of Chaos And Carnal Pleasures has exceeded all of my expectations, and I have known for quite some time that it would be absolutely spectacular to begin with. The work that everyone involved provided for me is the best shit I’ve ever heard. I speak greatly of this album and I do so for the simple reason it truly is something special that has been created (L.K. Philipson, Metal Underground)
Primal Attak is a relatively young thrash and groove metal band from Portugal. Three years after the release of their debut album, Humans, they are now back with their sophomore release, Heartless Oppressor. This is a very solid and energetic album, and even if it is strongly inspired from the works of Pantera, Hatebreed and Machine Head, it contains so many original features that establishes itself as a unique piece in the modern metal scene. This is a strongly energetic disc, at times brutal, fully packed with catching riffs and melodies. (Sub-Genres: Thrash, Death, Groove)
This is the first album this year that I can call an absolute balls-to-the-wall, no frills, uncompromisingly brutal metal album in its sheer intensity. Heartless Oppressor is exactly the sound of all the world’s major powers nuking the fuck out of each other. (No Clean Singing)
The new album not only picks up right where its predecessor left off, but also surpasses expectations showcasing a much stronger, tighter and more dynamic unit (from Bandcamp)
Nightmare Logic is the second album from Texas hardcore thrashers Power Trip.What really strikes in their songs is the ease with which different genres (thrash, hardcore, groove, just to mention a few) are mixed together to create an explosive and original mixture, which is at the end absolutely enjoyable to ear. (Sub-Genres: Thrash, Industrial, Hardcore)
You don’t need to be a metalhead to have a blast with Nightmare Logic. Screamed sardonics, persistent chug, and apocalyptic melodrama are all acquired tastes, sure. But Power Trip’s fist-pumping choruses, ricocheting grooves, and ample charm are so animated that they leave us with something addictive and, well, fun. (Pitchfork)
The second crushing, soul mangling, neck bustin’ album from Texas hardcore thrashers: Power Trip. Their raw energy, musical proficiency, perfect song structure, rich tones, fierce riffs, persecution, and collective attitude have seeded them as one of the most prolific underground staples in the US metal, punk, and hardcore scenes (from Bandcamp)
Code Orange is an American metalcore from Pittsburgh, since 2012 they have released three albums. Their last work, named Forever, stands out because of its good qualities: nice songs, an audible sense of anger, and nice production. (Sub-Genres: Hardcore, Metalcore, Punk)
What helps make Forever a solid release though are the odd surprises within it. These surprises take the listener out of that constant crunch and hardcore slam, and present really terrific spins that are way out there. And with everything together, comes one beastly collection of jams (from Metal Injection)
Anomie is the last release from Violet Cold, which is the experimental one-man band from Baku, Azerbaijan, active from 2013. This musical project by Emin Guliyev draws influence from a huge variety of styles including ambient, noise, classical, folk and black metal. (Sub-Genres: Atmospheric Black Metal, Experimental, Blackgaze, Post-Black, Shoegaze).
What makes Violet Cold unique is the fact that every piece of the puzzle is totally “DIY,” from artwork, instruments, lyrics, and vocals to recording, mixing and mastering. This is all done by Emin Guliyev, who doesn’t have any formal musical training. The result is a disregard for the rules and a totally fresh sound (Last.fm)
Zerozonic is a thrash metal band from Norway; they have just released the fourth album of their career, which is a solide piece of metal packed with nice and interesting songs. (Sub-Genres: Trhash, Groove)
Pantera is frequently mentioned as an influence and a soundalike, and while this band is not a Pantera clone, the similarities are there: this is groove-laden, modern aggro-thrash, with vocals vaguely in the Anselmo ballpark. (BNR metal pages)
Dead Trails are a new thrash and death metal band from South UK; they started playing together since 2010 and have just released their debut long play (the album can be download for free ond bandcamp). This album is very nice and presents a nice combination of raw sounds and thrash riffs. I definitely recommend to download and listen, there are a few songs that are very nice to hear if you are into the death metal genre. (Sub-Genres: Deathl, Thrash)
Decadence is a Sweden-based melodic thrash metal group powered by its two main members, ‘Metallic’ Kitty Saric and Kenneth Lantz. The two have been writing music together for over 15 years, and Undergrounder is the fifth album of their career. Characterized by female vocals and a distinct signature sound, this work interrupts a long period of silence that the band decided to take after the first decade of musical activity. (Sub-Genres: Thrash, Melodic Death)
Decadence never stopped, it evolved. And now they are back to continue spreading the message (said Kitty Saric to Blabbermouth)
A particularity of this release is that the band published a lyric video for every song in the album. Here we link the videos of the two songs we liked the most, i.e. the beautiful title-track and the old-school thrash of One More Fight.
Divide and Conquer is the second work from an interesting unsigned band from Switzerland. They play an enjoyable blend of epic, powerful and groovy metal which takes clear influences from Hatebreed and Machine Head. (Sub-Genres: Thrash, Groove)
Soen is a progressive metal “supergroup” consisting of various high-profile extreme metal musicians. Lykaia is the third album released by the band and has the particularity that the whole album was recorded using only analog equipment. (Sub-Genres: Progressive metal)
Lykaia is ultimately a prog metal album of very high quality, and one that should be on the radar of any metal fan. Although there are strong similarities between songs, and sometimes other bands, the songs and album Soen have created are meticulously crafted by musicians playing and writing at the top of their game, to produce a heavy, melodic, and frequently emotional journey of moody metal. (Metal Wani)