Ex Eye – Ex Eye

Led by experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson, instrumental supergroup Ex Eye has released a rather unique avant-garde debut album.

Blending extraordinary jazz elements and strong metal accents “Xenolith; The Anvil” reveals a transcending creative power as all the instruments follow harmoniously an ethereal sonic flow that can often acquire melodic strength but can also unfold an eclectic whirlwind of spacey progressions.

“Anaitis Hymnal; The Akrose Disc” could hypnotize the listeners with overwhelming dark atmospheres that acquire thick shoegaze vibes and the frantic instrumentation embraces a chaotic blackened crescendo skillfully guided by a steady saxophone tone to reach a calmer or safer melodic realm.

“Form Constant the Grid” features another round of unconventional often dramatic melodies as Ex Eye continues to showcase brilliant untamed musicianship creating rich atmospheric textures that naturally acquire post-black metal cold tonalities and extravagant progressive rock guitar galore.

Far from being an average band Ex Eye didn’t create this debut album to please the audience but to explore diverse music territories and bravely experiment with unusual complex tonalities that allow full expression of technical expertise and creative force.

Comeback Kid – Outsider

After signing a record deal with Nuclear Blast Canadian hardcore/punk outfit Comeback Kid returns to the metal scene with renewed energy and a promising brand new music venture, number six in the band’s extensive career, entitled “Outsider”.

The title track is all about high impact loud guitar riffs that never cease to build a groovy memorable rhythm with some ‘90s hardcore flavors that naturally shape the catchy inflamed chorus.

“Surrender Control” relies on chunky bass lines that contribute to the creation of a cohesive groovy rhythmic backbone and Comeback Kid adds a generous dosage of radio friendly melodies in the polished, inevitably less aggressive, chorus.

Featuring mastermind Devin Townsend “Absolute” could have been more impressive in terms of songwriting and style nevertheless confidently delivers a vicious hardcore/thrash guitar driven heavy core with extra darkened vibes.

“Somewhere, Somehow” blends easy rock choruses with a thunderous series of heavy faster hardcore guitar riffs that support both modern style screams and clean accessible vocals.

Featuring Chris Cresswell “Consumed The Vision” favors somber guitar melodies sacrificing a bit of wild hardcore spirit to produce a widely accessible track that again focuses on memorable big choruses.

Building pleasant gloomy & softer atmospheres “Moment In Time” features guest vocalist Northcote but also doesn’t refrain from delivering contrasting heavy guitar progressions that relentlessly speed up the tempo and amplify the usual hardcore scenario.

Comeback Kid carefully maintains a traditional hardcore impact focusing on energetic blasts that might become predictable at times nevertheless such soaring dynamics become signature elements of the songs structure on “Outsider” and definitely will not go unnoticed.

Enslaved – E

Against all redundant music rules and limited categorizations, Norway’s finest Enslaved is a band that has courageously embraced a gradual yet radical sonic evolution that reaches an intriguing high point with the darkly enigmatic progressive tonalities of “E”, the new full length which also introduces new keyboard master and clean vocalist Håkon Vinje.

Conceptually inspired by the duality of man and nature “Storm Son” is a grandiose album opener, almost an opus on its own, as it is infused with poetic melancholy carefully embedded in the epic instrumental progressions. Lavish minimalist guitar melodies, soothing clean vocals and solemn choirs evoke introspective feelings while impossibly venomous growls supported by crunchy syncopated guitar riffs provide a dark contrast. In the midst of fascinating, quite complex, music tapestries the prog oriented melodic guitars spontaneously flow into harsh rhythmic sections reminiscent of traditional black metal.

“The River’s Mouth” is a particularly intense track that will stand out immediately due to its inner blackened Nordic force obviously amplified by Grutle Kjellson’s inflamed vocal delivery. Even if the heavier guitar riffing crescendo maintains a dominant role, Enslaved provides additional music diversity with well structured progressive melodic passages that carry a poignant darkened soul.

“Sacred Horse” holds haunting mystical vibes beginning with brief acoustic echoes that introduce a rightfully savage guitar driven assault but the surprising highlight might be found in the psychedelic keyboards arrangements/melodies that channel fashionable vintage rock splendor. Towards the end, cathartic Norse style chants portray an ancient spiritual realm that naturally embraces a detailed round of guitar melodies.

“Feathers Of Eolh” goes full blown prog for a while with refined multifaceted guitar work but still offers darker evocative atmospheric nuances particularly enhanced by soulful clean vocals and nostalgia infused keyboards layers. Occasionally Enslaved shifts focus to unleash a fervent series of thick guitar riffs or to diversify the song’s structure with thrilling borderline experimental progressions.

Guitarist & songwriter Ivar Bjørnson once again leads Enslaved through a philosophical sonic catharsis as the eclectic blend of several intriguing influences, such as atmospheric shoegaze and heavier Viking metal, truly impress the listeners and nothing on this album sounds forced or out of place providing instead hypnotizing songwriting fluidity.

 

Enisum – Seasons Of Desolation

Italian band Enisum has been creating music for several years yet it might still be a new name in the underground metal scene, nevertheless the newest effort “Seasons Of Desolation” is bound to raise interest among atmospheric black metal connoisseurs.

“Autumn Of Melancholy” immediately showcases post-black metal atmospheric nuances with hazy guitar melodies that evoke immense desolation bus soon evolve into a more aggressive guitar riffing & drumming combo reminiscent of old school Nordic black metal.

“…Of Desolation” continues to rely on utterly melancholic guitar melodies that, once again, function as introduction for desperate growls and faster primordial blackened riffing followed by a highly atmospheric shoegaze oriented breakdown.

“Snow Storm” instead unleashes blackened fury at the very beginning and, as expected, the monolithic guitar riffs are surrounded by softer distant melodies so the song’s structure does not really deviate from Enisum’s music formula.

“Dead Star” amplifies a profound melancholy focusing almost exclusively on elegant darkened guitar melodies and accessible mellow female vocals until an urgent crescendo of traditional black metal dynamics becomes suddenly the dominant theme.

“Lake Of Tears” is certainly dramatic with a steady cascade of minimalist gloomy guitar progressions that tend to acquire colder blackened tonalities to temporarily disrupt the introvert melodic flow.

Founder and songwriter Lys has assembled a solid line up that certainly contributed to achieve the confident sound of “Seasons Of Desolation” which might not shine for uniqueness but definitely stays true to its title portraying a heartfelt ensemble of bleak soundscapes.

 

Kadavar – Rough Times

German rockers Kadavar return triumphantly with the fashionably loud album “Rough Times” which, as expected, will take the listeners through a wild fuzzy music journey with blazing retro rock vibes.

With crazy borderline chaotic crushing weight the title track ensures high impact with tremendously heavy fuzzy guitar riffs that carry glorious ‘70s tonalities but occasionally the instrumentation and the vocals acquires easier melodic textures.

“Into The Wormhole” feels dizzy and dazed as we are traveling back in time under the influence of hallucinogenic stoner rock jams with roaring guitar riffs bearing a hint of the heaviest doom available and crunchy thick bass lines while the vocal delivery in the chorus is absolutely catchy.

“Die Baby Die” is an unforgettable track that offers addictive guitar riffs & melodies with a solid up-tempo groove, as the mood grows darker a blistering psychedelic fuzzy guitar solo inevitably steals the spotlight.

“Vampires” could have been composed in the ‘70s as Kadavar are able to naturally channel pure vintage melodies that here express a moody sense of melancholia but never fail to build a charismatic rhythm enriched by an excellent retro rock infused guitar solo.

“Tribulation Nation” sounds like a spacey blurry trip as a true psychedelic galore with an intergalactic essence surrounds the guitar driven grooves resulting in a memorable glistening catchy song.

“A L’Ombre Du Temps” takes you to an alternate reality as it deviates from the heavy stoner rock structure to deliver trippy dreamlike ambient vibes spiced up by ethereal distortions and bohemienne French whispered recitation.

“Rough Times” can easily hypnotize the audience with an impulsive psychedelic rock whirlwind and monumental spacey grooves confirming that Kadavar have become a mature prolific band with a remarkable creative force.

Eluveitie – Evocation II – Pantheon

After major lineup changes beloved Swiss folk metallers Eluveitie is ready to release the new acoustic effort “Evocation II – Pantheon” which is the sequel to the acclaimed album “Evocation I – The Arcane Dominion”. Fans will certainly rejoice as this new album features a grandiose folk music journey inspired by Celtic mythology and carefully crafted with a wide array of traditional folk instruments.

It might be the use of the ancient extinct language Gallic instead of plain English but “Epona” really takes you back in time, preferably in the middle of a forgotten forest where magical instruments such as mandola, hurdy gurdy and bagpipe create radiant melodies surrounded by positive energy.

With “Nantosvelta” you are still stuck in the forest and a bit of melancholia takes over the whistles melodies but soon the rhythm gains more energetic dynamics with a solid series of strings passages and groovy drumming.

“Lvgvs” features darker enigmatic atmospheric vibes enhanced by Fabienne Erni’s spellbinding vocal delivery and the whole instrumentation bears a mystical power even when soft whistles & strings create memorable charming melodies.

Created as an invocation of the Helvetic battle god “Catvrix” is probably the darkest track on this album starting with borderline ominous chants and a majestic rhythm in contrast with Fabienne’s passionate luminous vocals.

On “Artio” Fabienne’s ethereal voice becomes the center of attention evoking an arcane chant style surrounded by graceful acoustic atmospheres.

Similarly “Esvs” feels particularly peaceful favoring soft arrangements elegantly crafted by gentle acoustic melodies but also holds a mysterious aura enhanced by soulful choirs.

“Tarans” picks up speed with entertaining multi-instrumental grooves in proper folk fashion and towards the end fiery chants add extra ancient folklore vibes.

Some listeners might not appreciate the lack of metal on “Evocation II – Pantheon” nevertheless Eluveitie delivers an excellent performance on this acoustic collection of songs that truly portrays the profound mystical nature of folk music.

Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep

Norwegian masters Satyricon are ready to begin a new chapter as our favorite duo, Satyr and Frost, has crafted the new diabolic opus “Deep Calleth Upon Deep” with a charismatic creative force that seems to rise directly from the darkest hidden depths of human soul. During a long and intense music history Satyricon has always challenged black metal traditional boundaries embracing a cathartic sonic evolution that ultimately leads to the confident honest songwriting of “Deep Calleth Upon Deep”.

“Midnight Serpent” features the recognizable blackened energetic dynamics of Satyricon’s signature style. Fervent guitars are capable of crafting the darkest melodies as well as an irresistible groovy rhythmic assault that marches through an absolutely sinister sonic realm inevitably enhanced by enigmatic spiritual atmospheres.

The title track takes you to the cold Nordic wilderness with solemn atmospheric vibes, enticing dark melodic guitars and mesmerizing classical backing vocals that work together harmoniously to create profound mystical melodies.

“The Ghost Of Rome” can be mysterious with a shroud of perennial gloom and gothic nuances surrounding the whole instrumentation yet fierce guitars create a complex crescendo of captivating melodies and intensely blackened riffs while Satyr’s renowned vicious vocal delivery flawlessly matches the majestic dismal mood.

“Dissonant” will definitely impress the listeners with a quite experimental approach that offers eclectic tempo variations and the addition of flamboyant jazzy saxophone to the powerful blackened grooves steadily built by charismatic melodic progressions entwined with harsh guitar tonalities.

“Black Wings And Withering Gloom” drastically amplifies an overwhelming cold darkness with ardent faster guitar riffs and plummeting technical drums that channel a memorable traditional black metal flavor. Without hesitation, Satyricon also delivers more accessible tormented guitar melodies elegantly embellished by classical violins that evoke vivid poetic depth.

Once again, with “Deep Calleth Upon Deep” Satyricon fearlessly reinvents the band’s style exploring music territories beyond the standard black metal category and continues to diverge from the typical rules of such subgenre delivering a passionately refined dark work of music.

 

Barb Wire Dolls – Rub My Mind

As the story goes legendary Lemmy Kilmister discovered Barb Wire Dolls and signed them to Motörhead Music. Now Barb Wire Dolls continue their explosive career with the newest release “Rub My Mind” recorded at the legendary studio Rancho De Luna in California.

“Back In The USSA” relies on catchy rhythms and raw punk rock energy with simple but entertaining guitar riffs and savage vocals.

“If I Fall” bears the same fiery raw exciting guitar dynamics but offers also additional music textures with extra groovy bass lines and consistently rebellious vocals.

On “Desert Song” you can perceive the Joshua Tree desert influence as graceful guitar melodies acquire hazy tones while Isis Queen delivers a particularly flamboyant vocal performance with emotive intensity.

“Fade Away” slows down but doesn’t feel like your standard rock ballad as the languid bluesy melodic guitars and the melancholic vibes create a wistful dreamlike state.

Isis Queen embodies the uncompromising punk rocker spirit with edgy vocal delivery and “Contract” feels electrifying with a super catchy grungy chorus carrying the typical punk attitude that requires total artistic freedom, therefore Barb Wire Dolls don’t refrain from creating untamed groovy & dirty guitar driven riffs.

“Fire To Burn” lowers the tone putting aside the punk savagery to deliver a sincere emotional rock ballad featuring the traditional round of acoustic arpeggios and lovely melodies.

Overall, “Rub My Mind” is a fun album that can be absolutely wild like a punk rock revival with strong feminist attitude and Barb Wire Dolls showcase music variety exploring also softer retro rock nuances.

Loviatar – Loviatar

Hailing from Canada Loviatar proudly releases the first self titled full length effort crafting an interesting blend of gloomy doom/post-metal nuances surrounded by a remarkable mythological aura.

“Nascent (Stygian Wyrm Part I)” opens the album with charismatic guitar melodies that often showcase the dark magnificence of doom metal while the overall mood features some arcane folk accents. In contrast “Discordant (Stygian Wyrm Part II)” offers a highly energetic guitar driven rhythm supported by super thick bass lines and turbulent drumming.

“Ascendant (Stygian Wyrm Part III)” instead shifts the focus to more melancholy infused memorable guitar melodies and desolate atmospheres.

“Blind Goddess of the Nine Plagues” is a monolithic lengthy music piece that cannot be ignored as it includes all the major elements that characterize Loviatar’s music pathway. Thick atmospheric layers enhance a super heavy tormented ensemble of doom oriented guitar riffs and mournful melodies. The band builds a monumental bass & drums backbone with occasional balanced powerful faster blasts while solemn moody guitar melodies provide profound darkened textures and acquire multidimensional hypnotic quality during the slower mystical moments.

In terms of composition and conceptual creativity Loviatar confidently delivers a cohesive album that will certainly trigger interest in the current metal scene.

Epica – The Solace System

Symphonic metal masters Epica are known to be quite prolific and an unstoppable creative force in the current metal scene. While working on the widely acclaimed full length “The Holographic Principle” some songs didn’t exactly fit the flow of the record therefore Epica has decided to release this extra material as six new tracks on the EP “The Solace System”.

The title track displays all the lavish elements that have contributed to Epica’s worldwide success. Grandiose symphonic arrangements constantly create theatrical layers entwined with harsher guitar driven grooves but the main music core here revolves around luminous guitar melodies that reach a natural acme with the highly catchy chorus enhanced by Simone’s flawless & passionate vocal performance.

“Architect Of Life” starts with somber majestic orchestrations and solemn operatic choirs as expected from Epica’s flourishing music formula. Polished guitar leads and crunchy guitar riffs work harmoniously to keep a compelling melodic fluidity.

“Wheel Of Destiny” features charismatic faster guitar riffs and more aggressive metal twists while dazzling catchy melodies are surrounded by enticing haunting atmospheric arrangements.

On “Decoded Poetry” you will find a poetic guitar approach that delivers loads of soothing melodies embellished by dramatic operatic choirs and Simone’s smooth uplifting vocal delivery but, as expected, Epica doesn’t forget to add some rough borderline furious guitar riffing amplified by Mark’s venomous growls.

Overall, the tracks included on “The Solace System” are impeccably executed and showcase a palpable affinity with the album “The Holographic Principle” which renders them easy to love for all Epica’s devotees.