Label: Winter Light
Label: Winter Light
Label: Winter Light
You might not think of the combination directly, but the melodic and emotional Italian singing, combined with metal riffing and poetry delivers a powerful, atmospheric experience. Call it avant-garde, or atmospheric black metal, it matters not, because this is unlike anything you’ve listened to before. After a brief intro, the tune ‘Io ti propongo’ opens in a rather common way, with blast beats and remarkably clean riffs. It’s when the melancholic singing pierces through, that you get the uncanny experience, where metal and the cantautori of Italy meet.
Label: Satanath Records/The Eastern Front
Origin: originally Iran, now Armenia
Garhelenth must have a story to tell, since the band is on its third run, currently residing in Armenia after a spell in Georgia. The band now comes on with their latest record ‘About Pessimistic Elements & Rebirth of Tragedy’, which is quite the charismatic release if I may say so.
This is only the second full length for the band, which has been active since 2010. The duo is dedicated to creating true black metal, devoid of any trends or cool sounding niches like DSBM or blackgaze, yet they’ve been lumped in the depressive corner fairly regularly with their dark lyrics concerned with themes of morals and mental states.
An ominous, dark ambient intro with mad, cackling laughter welcomes the listener to the strange realm of this band. After that reception, we launch into it with the song ‘Destruction of the Will’, which sounds quite mellow in a sense. The music forms a continuous flow of ripping riffs that fit together as a fish’s bones in rapid succession. The peculiar chanting is a noteworthy feature, but almost every song has some oddity happening. It’s exactly that, which makes the band stand out a lot.
The barked vocals work well with the particularly melodic and emotive songs and the harrowing riffs on tracks like ‘To Impersonal Mankind’ really do their job. The almost whiny noise, sustains the negative that permeates the sound completely. I particularly enjoyed the slow, threatening pace of ‘Perspective of Exorbitant’, which is strong, powerful, but also on a steady pace full of lumbering drums and grand movements. Even some operatic singing is added to the mix in granting the duo an even more strong sound. An exceptionally strong record, with strong emotional overtones in a classic jacket.
The rockers Tempel from Norway are a band of brothers, literally. Espen Gjermundrød (guitarist), Inge Gjermundrød (bassist/vocalist), Kjetil Gjermundrød (drummer), along with their best friend Andreas Espolin Johnson (guitarist), create an eclectic mix of rock music from up north.
Their heritage is clear in the artwork, showing a wooden stave church as we know them well from Norway. This record is their debut and the identity and image the group brings across are immediately clear and tangible with this exceptional musical effort. All the way from Oslo, with their chest-thumping, t-shirt toting, balls to the wall heavy sounds! It appears no one has signed these guys yet, which is beyond me really.
Tempel instantly releases a barrage of rock’n’roll on ‘Vendetta’, with screaming, hardcore vocals. In the best tradition of Norwegian rock music, it kicks off with vitality and vigorous rhythms. At times their sound has a bit of that thick, black metal layeredness. but overall it’s big, Kvelertak and Skambankt-like waves of powerful rock music. The vocals are definitely the rougher edge this music needs to stand out from the masses, but the frantic drumming has a hand in that too (two hands, obviously).
Dense and fierce, the music never really lets down, but when you get that clear, all-piercing riff like on ‘Fortress’, it is as if the clouds are pierced. The phenomenal sound of Tempel is one I absolutely love. Ranging from bluesy riffs to rigid powerplay, Tempel blasts their way onto the scene with this excellent debut. It has all the catchiness of classic hardrock, but also the Norwegian ruggedness bands from their neck of the woods often produce. Surprising is therefor the emotional ‘Farewell, featuring Benedicte Edvardsen from Mowlith as guest vocalist. It only enhances the versatility this band has to offer on their debut record.
Label: Holy Roar Records
Blackgaze is an interesting phenomenon. Relinquishing the claim for black metal heritage, it’s rapidly become the outcast child, from a scene that refuses any forward movement. This is more and more reflected in the artwork and overall aesthetic of the bands involved. I have no idea how the gents from møl feel about that, but as I see their work they are in no way showing their desire to get their music lumped into that.
This is a shame in my perception, but regardless of my personal divulgences on what black metal is in 2018, let’s not bother these Danes with it. Their album ‘JORD’ is a masterpiece, whichever way you want to turn it. The band has been doing their own thing for a while, creating two EP’s and finally their debut album this year. With a distinct feel and aesthetic, they are one of the stand-out acts for this year, pushing this sound into new realms in their very own way.
Label: Seasons of Mist
If your band prompts a discussion on whether or not what you make is metal, then that probably means you’re interesting. Erdve from Lithuania is definitely a band that would prompt your interest if sludgy, dark mayhem is something you’re into. As it happens, I am and the record ‘Vaitojimas’, released in 2018, deserves all the attention it can get.
This is, in fact, the first release by the band, who were fortunate to be taken straight out of the demo pile onto a release. Members of the group have previously been active in acts like Nyksta, Sraigés Efektas, and Spirale.
That sound is what the band persists with on ‘Prievarta’, where the vocals are really the only big stand-out factor for the group. The sound just keeps up its bludgeoning ferocity and hardcore anger throughout. while never releasing their catchy clarity. That requires clarification, but suffice to say that the distorted riffing and thundering rhythm section are always easily distinguishable thanks to excellent production. I have to make special mention of the track ‘Apvertkis’, which really starts with a more grungy mood and vibe. It’s much more melancholic and lacks the aggression of the further record. That makes it exceptionally captivating.
Label: Life Lair Regret Records
Australian youngsters Unravel are ready to storm the world with their debut album ‘Eras of Forfeit’. The group set forth with a fresh sound in 2015 and has made a few releases since then. However, this is their first full record out on Life Lair Regret Records.
Blending a sound that contains death metal, grindcore and the vibrancy of hardcore, there’s a vitality to the sound of Unravel. Having played with bands like The Black Dahlia Murder to Parkway Drive, these guys clearly have a sound that resonate with whats going on today.
This record just grips me instantly, from the very first rumblings of ‘Arbitrator’. The pace and vibe of the record is much more that of a hardcore record, with its violent breaks and tormented screams. Yet, the ingredients are screeching death metal solo’s, guttural vocals that crack through the surface and an overall catchy groove. Not metalcore, it lacks the slickness to my ear at least. Relentless, the band barrels onward at that energetic, high pace, with ‘No Validation for Violation’. Sheer brutality and muscular riffing.
Label: Dead Moon Records
Band: Wolf Faced God
As we look back to our past, we delve further on to find meaning. The prehistoric times have started to fascinate us and various artists are exploring the sounds from that time. Wolf Faced God is one of those acts and with the album ‘Stone Altars’, the artist behind it reimagines the ancient past in a world full of wonder.
Hailing from the United States, Thorn Skarthborg is also the owner of the label Dead Moon Records, which releases various exciting acts in this dark ambient/ritual corner of the more explorative music. Boldly treading ancient realms and howling at the moon that still on a good night can fascinate us.
The trickling of water and eerie flutes resound in the distance as the tribal drumming starts. Instantly you are taken to a world, much quieter and smaller than ours. Peculiar synths reach through the hermetic, hallucinatory rhythm and take you to a bird’s eye position, from which you soar from opener ‘Children of the Sun’ to ‘Glacial Journey’. The wind rattles you as drones create the semblance of a song structure, but perhaps it is simply your mind trying to find structure in the wild sounds of nature?
Label: Satanath Records, Cimmerian Shade Recordings, Murdher Records, Black Plague Records
The titanic stone slabs on the cover may suggest a more doomy sound, but Neter plays straight-up death metal and has been doing so for a good 14 years. The band has had some line-up changes through the year but appears to be still going strong with this release of ‘Inferus’.
The production of music will never be called prolific for these guys. That’s fine of course, but with a mere two albums to their name, you’d be surprised to find that there’s not a lot of other projects going on. In no way does that say anything negative about the gents, who produce a solid slab of death metal with this release, reminiscent of Immolation and Nile.
After a gentle piano intro, we launch fully into it, with crushing riffs and melodies, that hint of a mysterious oriental theme on ‘Faceless’. The sound of Neter is threatening, dark and ominous, but also very clean polished and full of technicalities. The thudding drums never seem to stop and prod the songs forward with a steady surge of heavy bass behind them.
Perhaps the tunes by Neter sound a bit stiff after a while. The steady pummeling doesn’t really show much variation, apart from the melodic guitar parts that appear here and there. On a tune like ‘Galvanize’, they are slightly more present, but still swamped by the rhythm section and the barked, guttural vocals. During a song like ‘Endemic Warfare’, it even goes down to a fragmentary presence, as the drums keep hitting hard and pushing the song towards it’s end.
Hamferð is one of those bands hailing from the Faroe Islands. Isolation begets inspiration it seems because the island nation under the Danish crown has spawned various bands in the metal genre that have made a splash. Tyr being the foremost of course, but Hamferð is definitely not an unknown entity, making songs in their own language for the masses. Members have also been active in Barren Earth and Heljareyga, connected to aforementioned Tyr.
‘Támsins likam’ is the second full length of the doom band, after their 2013 debut. Signed to Metal Blade, the group can hardly be called prolific, but definitely has something in their sound that only seems to be found on these islands in the north, something forlorn and melancholic. Not surprising for a band whose very name refers to the epiphany of dead or missing seamen, of which the tales on the island are rich.