Kamelot – The Shadow Theory

One of the most beloved bands in metal Kamelot triumphantly returns with the anticipated new album “The Shadow Theory” conceptually based on analytical psychology and the complexity of the human mind leaning on three pillars: The Shadow Empire (The global mind), The Shadow Key (The Resistance) and The Shadow Wall (The veil that blinds us from the truth).

Starting with majestic & somber orchestrations “Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)” will soon deliver everything you expect from Kamelot as multiple melodic crescendos are skillfully built by a pleasant mix of crunchy guitar riffs and polished leads while vocals focus on a smooth solemn delivery and guest vocalist Lauren Hart of Once Human adds some enraged vibes.

“Amnesiac” immediately shapes a nice guitar driven groove with scattered electro accents but soon embraces an epic melodic essence obviously enhanced by fancy guitar soloing, soothing vocals and consequent emotional mood nevertheless guitar riffs continue to channel heavier vibes.

Right from the beginning “In Twilight Hours” showcases ballad style elements such as extremely melancholic piano melodies floating over elegantly subtle keyboards layers which simply surround the charismatic and emotionally charged vocal duet featuring the charming voice of guest vocalist Jennifer Haben of Beyond the Black.

On “Kevlar Skin” crunchy rhythmic dynamics lead the way with steady guitar riffing intensity amplified by occasional faster drum blasts and compelling guitar acrobatics but the symphonic layers and the widely accessible chorus maintain the expected dosage of melancholy infused melodies.

Lauren Hart returns on “Mindfall Remedy” to deliver another round of fiery vocals in the midst of dramatic melodic soundscapes, power metal oriented guitar driven grooves and extra vibrant rhythmic segments constantly embellished by the understated beauty and cinematic elements of orchestral arrangements and piano melodies.

On “The Proud And The Broken” a generous round of thick guitar riffs swiftly follows a poetic piano piece which certainly evokes the melancholic & theatrical grandeur that will recur throughout the song and influence many instrumental passages while the guitar solos feature additional lovely harmonies as well as technical prowess.

So Kamelot chooses a quite serious concept for this album and quotes Carl Gustav Jung but maintains the expected music blend of refined power metal and symphonic grandeur that the band’s fans are always excited to hear.

Black Foxxes – Reiði

Exeter’s trio Black Foxxes is ready to surprise the listeners with the experimental edge and catchy melodies of the second full length Reiði which is the Icelandic word for rage.

The minimalist guitar melodies and the subtle atmospheric accents of “Breathe” evoke bittersweet feelings certainly matched by the highly emotional vocals that contribute to create a very accessible melodic essence spiced up by distorted textures.

“Manic In Me” feels more positive with crispy rock upbeats and a polished melodic ensemble where the band focuses mainly on the creation of a genuine emotional whirlwind with simple chords yet later guitars add a crunchier rock sound.

Initially “Oh, It Had To Be You” has a romantic vibe with soft piano melodies and melancholic vocals but soon elegant atmospheric arrangements and a melodic guitar crescendo craft more complex rhythmic patterns without sacrificing the primary smooth harmonies.

“JOY” amplifies the alternative/experimental approach as charismatic distorted guitars provide energetic grooves seamlessly entwined with softer melodic passages while vocals shift from rebellious screams to soothing delivery.

“Float On” emphasizes a polished melodic essence fully expressed by intensely dramatic vocals naturally floating through subtle atmospheric layers leading to highly contemplative moments and subdued melodic guitars that will eventually become more present with gritty tonalities.

Reiði‘” is not a metal album nevertheless it has the necessary inner energy to invite the audience to an emotional music journey as Black Foxxes don’t really care about following standard music rules and simply follow their heart to deliver a sincere melodic effort.

Aura Noir – Aura Noire

Since twenty five years Aura Noir have proven many times to be Norway’s blackened thrash metal kings and the sixth album simply entitled “Aura Noire” continues to unleash the band’s grimmest traditions with evident untamed fury.

Dark Lung Of The Storm” opens the album with a generous dosage of obscure and frenetic guitar riffs leading the way to a rather blackened sonic realm but still keeping your favorite thrash dynamics alive and even if the rhythmic blasts are not exaggeratedly fast the whole instrumentation feels incredibly powerful and menacing.

As “Hell’s Lost Chambers” begins with moderate thrash rhythmic patterns and moody blackened vibes built by intriguing riffing & drumming it takes a while to pick up the expected fierce energy which will not necessarily follow the usual straightforward structure as guitars gain a theatrical darkened fluidity during a mysterious atmospheric breakdown.

With growing intensity “The Obscuration” is a black hole of diabolical screams and unstoppable thunderous grooves bearing visceral thrash urgency and delivering an overdose of tight guitar riffs and infectious leads that barely have any melodic hints.

Shades Ablaze” will satisfy your moshpit needs with all the raw energy built by super groovy guitar riffs and precise drumbeats that often acquire extra feverish speed while a palpable hellish mood simply pervades every instrumental passage always enhanced by raspy borderline desperate screams.

The primordial nature of “Cold Bone Grasp” will hit you hard with another round of soaring guitar riffs that go straight to the point with no frills or special effects but an authentic raw blackened essence with the occasional groovy solo marching through solid rhythmic hooks.

Aura Noir’s devoted fanbase will find plenty of tasty guitar driven aggressive blasts throughout “Aura Noire” which feels absolutely relevant in the current scene and should not be considered just a nostalgic thrash metal album.

Eagle Twin – The Thundering Heard

Salt Lake City based duo Eagle Twin is proudly releasing the latest effort “The Thundering Heard” which far from being music for the masses it rather favors an enigmatic blend of doom and blues.

There is a primal force behind “Quanah Un Rama”, an archaic connection with nature, that leads to a heavily sludge oriented core with thick guitar riffs bearing the gloomy grandeur of traditional doom and raucous vocals with a sort of storytelling approach as the band maintains a cohesive rhythmic core spiced up by fuzzy experimental segments but offers also more accessible melodic moments and entertaining bluesy guitar acrobatics.

With a less intimidating approach “Elk Wolfv Hymn” begins with minimalist softer harmonies that aim to hypnotize the listeners before undergoing a sonic evolution that will bring eclectic tempo & style variations as well as nice melodic guitars that build intensity leading to another healthy round of bluesy solos and extra atmospheric themes.

The massive & majestic tonalities of “Antlers Of Lightning” inevitably amplify intricate rhythmic dynamics and with loads of sonic transitions, not always easy to follow, rumbling noisy guitars and bass create an apparent chaos before giving way to painfully slow doom style melodies and the consequent monochromatic but certainly monolithic vibes of such genre that will lead to a particularly somber final melodic ensemble.

Eagle Twin has crafted four lengthy songs dedicated to a select audience on “The Thundering Heard” which is the result of untamed music exploration in search of a personal style and the desire to defy standard boundaries.

Barren Earth – A Complex Of Cages

Finnish progressive death metal supergroup Barren Earth, featuring Olli-Pekka Laine of Amorphis, Sami Yli-Sirniö of Kreator, guitarist Janne Perttilä, vocalist Jón Aldará of Hamferð and young keyboard wizard Antti Myllynen, triumphantly returns with the kaleidoscopic melodies of the newest release “A Complex Of Cages”, a truly eclectic music experience that you simply cannot miss.

“The Living Fortress” begins with dramatic vibes that create a suspenseful introduction for the first fierce wave of guitars riffs which delightfully combine the primordial darkness of melo-death and the modern technical approach of prog metal, a perfect match in this case, while vocals effortlessly shift from magical melancholic cleans to absolutely ravenous growls through fascinating melodic phrases filled of cold Nordic tonalities and additional complex rhythmic variations skillfully crafted by guitars & keyboards.

“Further Down” offers mystical atmospheres that sinuously embrace bursts of thick & groovy guitar riffs and graceful melodies embellished by some folk nuances that will always evoke the comforting wintry mood of melo-death but there is a lot more going on as keyboards continue to create elegant symphonic arrangements with occasional vintage accents and guitars showcase audaciously entertaining prog dynamics.

“Zeal” immediately sets a darkly atmospheric mood with the minimalist beauty of delicate piano passages and poetic vocals soon enriched by dramatic guitar melodies bearing the beloved nuances of Scandinavian melancholy yet such cathartic moments will gradually evolve into a series of majestic & heavier rhythmic patterns filled of eclectic prog inspired variations and deeply obscure death metal elements.

Starting with intriguing keyboards layers “Solitude Pith” will impress the listeners with the stunning intensity of vocals characterized by a particularly charismatic delivery that perfectly matches the primary passionate melodic essence of the entire song which still offers solid heavier blasts but also delivers loads of delicious vintage arrangements and softer, yet rather intricate, harmonious rhythms leading to a flamboyant guitar solo.

Like a shroud of profound melancholy “Withdrawal” closes the album channeling ardent feelings through vibrant emotional soundscapes with soulful arpeggios and undoubtedly flawless dramatic vocals but a refreshing rhythmic crescendo will add dazzling melodic guitar work bearing the influence of ‘70s prog rock as well as modern artsy dynamics.

At the very first listening “A Complex Of Cages” will conquer your heart through stunning melodic fluidity and mesmerizing guitar work as, united by their appreciation for ‘70s progressive rock, the talented musicians behind Barren Earth showcase absolutely spellbinding composition skills and indisputable mature musicianship.

 

Black Salvation – Uncertainty Is Bliss

Featuring Uno Bruniusson formerly of In Solitude and Grave Pleasures and currently of Death Alley, German psychedelic hard rock trio Black Salvation invites the audience to a unique music journey with the enigmatic nuances and trippy soundscapes of the new record “Uncertainty Is Bliss”.

“In A Casket’s Ride” immediately channels spacey atmospheres with surreal distant dissonant accents before fully embracing an acidic rock groove enriched by unconventional melodic elements while an overwhelming psychedelia influences the darkened vocal delivery and the distorted guitar work that often slows down to achieve a melancholic tone.

On “Floating Torpid” there are some accessible soft melodic rock chords yet guitars also hold a rebellious distorted strength that becomes even more palpable in the edgy solos and certainly the whole melodic essence mixed with a gritty rock soul dominates the song’s structure.

“Leair” is filled with the undiluted melancholy of charismatic vocals and simple chords that will eventually develop a taste for psychedelic uniqueness and undoubtedly the dramatic melodies and avant-garde accents of this track still feel very accessible.

The rhythm of “Grey River” channels positive energy and a rebel spirit as catchy guitars pay tribute to the most enigmatic aspects of retro rock and the band doesn’t hold back confidently jamming their way into a hypnotic sonic realm with full blown psychedelic tonalities.

“Getting Slowly Lost” begins with minimalist arpeggios and subdued poetic vocals channeling a sorrowful mood but soon surprises the listeners with a peculiar rhythmic crescendo full of trippy mystical vibes like a dazed desert rock session and proceeds with a borderline dissonant and savagely distorted momentum.

Black Salvation is not a band interested in creating safe radio friendly songs as they rather explore the dazed kaleidoscopic realm of psychedelic rock with an adventurous spirit nevertheless “Uncertainty Is Bliss” does contain catchy melodic vibes running through the primary avant-garde sonic dynamics.

Chaostar – The Undivided Light

Fans of Greek titans Septicflesh are certainly familiar with Chaostar, the spellbinding experimental project led by guitarist and composer Christos Antoniou, and the new long awaited release “The Undivided Light” definitely holds a theatrical essence and an adventurous spirit that once again aims to defy standard music genres.

The bewitching elegance of Androniki Skoula’s voice introduces the hypnotizing sonic realm of “Tazama Jua” which delivers a fascinating blend of majestic classical arrangements with baroque symphonic accents and modern ambient layers that seamlessly surround the theatrical vocals throughout the song.

“Blutbad” initially focuses on minimalist melodies and highly dramatic operatic vocals creating a quite enigmatic atmosphere that in the final part will lead to more complex orchestrations channeling exquisitely darkened vibes.

The title track favors mysterious electro/ambient arrangements that smoothly accompany Androniki’s stunning operatic performance through a captivating orchestral crescendo which features classical graceful melodies, epic cinematic composition and slightly dissonant rhythmic variations.

“Ying & Yang” offers a softer approach with luminous arpeggios and otherworldly vocals that flawlessly create intensely emotional melodic cascades in the midst of wistful atmospheres while the mood becomes utterly enthralling as traditional instrumentation crafts delicate melancholic harmonies.

From a Chaostar album you should expect the unexpected as Christos draws inspiration from the pristine beauty of classical music but doesn’t refrain from exploring other music territories such as electronica & rock leading to the dramatic composition of “The Undivided Light” which delivers a truly unique sonic experience.

 

Tax The Heat – Change Your Position

British bluesy rock band Tax The Heat returns with the explosive rhythmic dynamics and refreshing composition skills of the latest release “Change Your Position” which definitely aims to gather a wider fanbase.

“Money In The Bank” marks an exceptional beginning proving the band’s diversified music approach with an attractive somber mood well supported by super crunchy guitar riffs that hit hard building a rough rhythm and gritty leads while vocals shift from emotive delivery to a more powerful rocker style.

The title track is filled with energetic rock segments that favor multiple melodic hooks matched by sensational big choruses and in general guitars tend to focus on a glamorous melodic repertoire but a wicked riffing is still present in the midst of the modern catchy rock galore.

“All That Medicine” is all about intricate yet very accessible rhythms blending some old school rock essence skillfully embedded in the gritty guitar riffs and a more modern rock interpretation that ensures a series of big grooves briefly interrupted by a melodic slightly gloomy breakdown.

The relentless upbeats of “Taking The Hit” easily generate all kinds of catchy rhythms and while the music core definitely draws inspiration from classic hard rock with loads of thick guitar riffs and fancy solo the band continues to experiment to achieve originality.

“Wearing A Disguise” acquires a darker atmospheric mood favoring slower rhythmic patterns and intensely melodic guitars that will dominate the song’s structure providing entertaining variegated textures yet the polished vocals of the chorus certainly maintain a catchy soft rock style.

The rhythmic diversity of “The Symphony Has Begun” is immediately palpable as the whole instrumentation temporarily tones down to offer pure melodic melancholy enhanced by minimalist acoustic phrases and particularly emotional vocals while guitars will often add edgy vibes and slow burning bluesy passages.

“Change Your Position” is an album filled with big choruses and positive energy but also offers scattered contemplative vibes and certainly Tax The Heat have worked hard to conquer the audience’s full attention.

 

Malady – Toinen Toista

Finnish progressive rock quintet Malady invites you to experience the unique ‘70s influenced music journey of the new album “Toinen Toista” which showcases extraordinary musicianship and is conceptually based on the basic questions of being human and the transient nature of things.

The title track has an enigmatic beginning with minimalist chords and surreal atmospheric accents while the vintage vibes embedded in the guitar work will soon acquire highly energetic dynamics and exciting rhythmic variations accompanied by sweet retro organ layers to achieve those ‘70s rock flavors that characterize the whole album.

“Laulu Sisaruksille” is a short magical music piece as atmospheric layers channel a profound melancholy further enhanced by the otherworldly beauty of strings melodies that introduce the vintage sonic realm of “Tiedon Kehtolaulu”.

The epic opus “Nurja Puoli” closes the album with hypnotizing nuances and great music diversity as the band is clearly exploring prog rock territories with a desire to create something original. The result of this adventurous spirit leads to soothing instrumental passages dominated by lovely & talented guitar work that offers meditative breakdowns as well as powerful melodic textures and several enthralling intricate solos.

“Toinen Toista” is an excellent progressive rock effort on which Malady skillfully crafts relaxing soundscapes and complex melodic textures that deserve the listeners’ full attention.

Nightwish – Decades

Not many bands can celebrate an exceptional twenty years career and when it comes to Nightwish there is no doubt that the Finnish indisputable masters of symphonic metal have rightfully achieved this milestone with talent and relentless commitment so here comes a massive world tour during which the band will play many favorite ‘oldies’ accompanied by the release of the compilation of re-mastered songs “Decades”.

You all know that three different vocalists have fronted Nightwish and they are all rightfully present on “Decades” so of course there are the newer songs “The Greatest Show On Earth” and “Élan” with current amazing vocalist Floor Jansen but inevitably the majority of songs feature the unforgettable voice of Tarja Turunen since she was in the band for ten years and contributed to the breakthrough success of songs such as “Sleeping Sun”, “Elvenpath”, “Nemo” and “Wish I Had An Angel” and even the original demo for the song Nightwish is included.

Unfortunately there are many marvelous songs that are not included in this greatest hits but listening to Nightwish is always an amusing experience so for all devoted fans “Decades” is a way to re-discover many beautiful songs and join the band in this nostalgic retrospective journey while newer listeners will enjoy the opportunity to learn more about the band’s previous work.