Shining – X – Varg Utan Flock

Swedish controversial band Shining is often surrounded by stories of madness and erratic behavior but nobody could ever deny that Niklas Kvarforth is one of the most talented creative minds in the extreme metal scene and the tenth album “X – Varg Utan Flock” continues to unfold the band’s unique music pathway through intensely dark nuances and unrestrained emotions.

“Svart Ostoppbar Eld” immediately drags you into impossibly darkened depths with untamed raw guitar riffing introducing primordial black metal roots as the tight rhythmic section acquires chaotic speed and extremely cold tonalities while Niklas delivers painfully savage screams. Yet this oppressive blackened urgency will be interrupted by soft melancholy infused arpeggios and bleak melodic tapestries rightfully culminating with a pleasantly heartfelt guitar shredding solo.

“Gyllene Portarnas Bro” will easily become a favorite track with its palpable inner demons and exceptional emotional quality embedded in the brilliant guitar work as the exquisitely poignant recurring guitar melodies feel simply addictive and unforgettable. Here Niklas focuses on a dramatic vocal delivery with the expected dosage of outpouring charisma and anguish while slow burning graceful melodies and enchanting arpeggios keep a dominant role throughout the song even if there are occasional bursts of blackened fury.

“Jag Är Din Fiende” offers faster infectious blackened rhythmic dynamics with sharp guitar riffs marching frenetically through layers of subtly majestic Nordic bleakness and Niklas’s voice is absolutely filled with inspired theatrical anger but Andy La Rocque’s compelling guest guitar solo brings a marvelous classic metal mood into such obscure sonic realm followed by a sorrowful dreamy breakdown.

The classical piano piece “Tolvtusenfyrtioett” is made of pure melancholy and provides a contemplative break before entering the epic darkness of “Mot Aokigahara”, a song that certainly matches the dreadful moody atmosphere of the entire album. Refined, almost relaxing, arpeggios surround Niklas’ haunting vocal performance and lead guitars continue to impress the listeners with loads of passionate harmonies before a ghastly brutality takes the lead for the last time with fierce riffing & drumming enhanced by ominously ardent growls.

Regardless of any gossip about disputable behavior and suicidal messages, Shining’s music should always be the center of attention and with “X – Varg Utan Flock” Niklas & co. confidently goes beyond the average characteristics of a black metal album with a remarkably radical songwriting approach that will definitely solidify their seminal status in the current metal scene.

Sinistro – Sangue Cassia

Following the spellbinding album “Semente” released last year expectations are really high and Portuguese artsy post- doom quintet Sinistro is ready to surprise the listeners again with the brand new enchanting opus “Sangue Cassia”.

It would be hard to find a better album opener than the lengthy “Cosmos Controle”, a lovable moody music piece that relies on detailed cinematic atmospheres to assemble fragmentary images or memories. Constant ethereal sonic cascades are fully supported by a classic slow & heavy doom rhythmic backbone, featuring noteworthy bold bass lines, enriched by somber guitar melodies and extraordinaire vocalist Patrícia Andrade will put a spell on you to ultimately entrap you within a gloomy dream with her lascivious voice.

With a bewitching atmospheric/ambiance beginning “Lotus” slowly proceeds to channel sorrowful doom soundscapes with an overdose of lugubrious chords seamlessly entwined with memorable melancholic guitar melodies while Patrícia’s vocal performance is infused with pure sensuality and sophisticated charisma.

“Petalas” features a wistful ensemble of inspired minimalist melodies and eerie atmospheric layers resulting in more ambiance oriented track that enhances the poetic emotional qualities of Patrícia’s vocals but there are still understated doom accents within the rhythmic patterns.

“Abismo” returns to fully embrace powerful doom dynamics as guitars emerge from darkened depths with absolute gloom and renewed intensity confidently marching through a hypnotizing maze of lavish dreadful atmospheric layers while just like an enchantress Patrícia delivers graceful yet empowering vocals.

“Cravo Carne” dwells in a realm of undiluted darkness where guitars become particularly fierce in mournful doom fashion but also focus on the creation of enticing melancholy infused melodies surrounded by opulent atmospheric arrangements while Patrícia’s voluptuous voice sinuously and confidently moves through the stylish instrumental passages.

Through the emotional whirlwind and the sultry darkened essence embodied by “Sangue Cassia” Sinistro is establishing a unique mature identity and elegantly continues to follow an intriguing music pathway that will inevitably fascinate the listeners.

Corrosion Of Conformity – No Cross No Crown

The core Corrosion Of Conformity trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin has proven to be extremely passionate about music touring and composing hardcore albums but after 12 years a new record with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan back in the band is an event that fans truly hoped for. With this reunion and the consequent explosive creative force, C.O.C. proves to be stronger than ever and perfectly capable of regaining the deserved influential status in the current music scene with the album “No Cross No Crown” which showcases the band’s signature southern rock style.

Faithful fans will recognize the band’s iconic style on “The Luddite” which hits you right in the face with extremely vibrant guitar riffs obviously supported by precise drumming and delightfully dynamic bass chords as the whole instrumentation is always channeling irresistible stoner doom flavors. Pepper Keenan on vocals never disappoints as he simply embodies the song’s raw intensity as well as a wide range of authentic emotions.

“Cast The First Stone” also has what it takes to become the next groovy hit as guitars follow a deliciously wild rhythmic pattern that can acquire a frenetic distorted attitude but certainly maintains a profound Southern essence that becomes even more palpable in the highly adrenalized guitar solo.

Nobody could ever doubt the rare genuine passion of “Wolf Named Crow” as an enthusiastic rhythmic backbone is filled with a memorable overdose of hypnotizing stoner doom dynamics naturally leading to impressive and exquisitely trippy guitar solos proving once again the unique talent of these musicians.

“Nothing Left To Say” simply flows like a harmonious dream, a recollection of pale memories, fully expressed by Pepper’s emotive vocal delivery and hazy Southern rock melodies that will eventually gain extra raw power as guitar riffs acquire bolder sludge elements following an ex novo catchy rhythmic urgency.

The title track basically feels like a spacey breakdown/interlude evoking darkened nuances with intriguing doom infused stylish guitar work featuring loads of lavish melodies and Pepper’s warm voice guides the listeners through a hypnotic melodic maze.

Some grinding heavy guitar riffing takes the lead on “A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void)” as the rhythmic structure constantly channels a groovy stoner rock/doom sonic realm yet the charismatic lead guitar work engages in more trippy melodic concoctions filled with charming melancholic vibes.

On the cover of legendary Queen’s “Son And Daughter” everything gets deliciously fuzzy as thick slow burner riffs create an unrestrained addictive stoner rock groove with pleasant bluesy accents and the outstanding melodic guitar leads & solo always hold a heartfelt vintage quality that perfectly matches the hazy rock mood.

As if a dozen years did not pass by, the band’s chemistry is very evident in each song and C.O.C. proves to be absolutely relevant, actually essential,  in the current music scene as “No Cross No Crown” goes beyond any possible expectation holding a timeless rock charisma further amplified by the remarkable mature musicianship & songwriting.

Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

Swedish black metal outfit Watain, among controversy & mixed reactions, has relentlessly conquered a seminal status in the current metal scene with their bloody live ceremonies and the chosen unrestrained extreme music pathway that is absolutely evident on the latest effort “Trident Wolf Eclipse”.

“Nuclear Alchemy” marks a ferocious promising beginning with an overdose of fast riffing & drumming blasting from the most ominous depths of black metal. Scattered creepy guitar leads and diabolical growls actively contribute to the overall atmosphere which simply feels like a hymn to pure darkness as the band fully embraces an intense blackened essence.

“Sacred Damnation” again is fueled by raw blackened energy perfectly expressed by tight guitar riffing and a thunderous rhythmic backbone that just seems unstoppable with signature cold melodic tonalities that further intensify the sinister atmospheric arrangements.

“Teufelsreich” is filled with somber Nordic vibes as guitars focus on the creation of melodic tapestries while tempo shifts from contemplative soundscapes to sheer blackened classic dynamics ensuring the dominant presence of a bold faster groove.

On “Ultra (Pandemoniac)” a sulfurous stench permeates the whole instrumental blackness as fierce guitar riffs diligently follow punishing fast rhythmic patterns and untamed guitar leads provide extra chaotic vibes.

With traditional cold tonalities “Towards The Sanctuary” evokes oppressive soundscapes as the whole rhythmic ensemble focuses mainly on viciously blackened dynamics ensuring a breathless sonic realm yet guitars also manage to elaborate haunting melodic phrases and intriguing variations.

On “Trident Wolf Eclipse” Watain is not necessarily trying to deliver a breakthrough album but rather reconfirms a determined devotion towards the beloved black metal realm showing that faithful acolytes can always trust the band to create a purely uncompromising extreme work of music.

Summoning – With Doom We Come

Known as the true guardians of Middle Earth, Austrian duo Summoning returns with “With Doom We Come” which continues to draw inspiration from the myths of J.R.R. Tolkien and is certainly one of the most anticipated albums of 2018.

The mystical atmospheres of “Tar-Calion” open this new music journey channeling intense desolation with raw blackened guitar riffs completely surrounded by rich synth arrangements, theatrical vocals and magical folk elements that evoke the natural beauty of a remote forest in an enchanted land as the band here chooses to focus on refined melodic tapestries with scattered epic accents.

On “Silvertine” the atmosphere acquires obscure tonalities with steady melodic guitars that contribute to the creation of an exceptionally darkened mood further enhanced by traditional black metal growls and elegantly embellished by sumptuous orchestrations that include epic horns and melancholic piano.

“Carcharoth” features a spellbinding mixture of soothing minimalist instrumentation and rather grandiose atmospheric arrangements that once again tend to favor the band’s melodic side while ominous growls often emerge from familiar blackened depths.

On “Mirklands” soft piano melodies introduce a gloomy sonic realm that is certainly filled with unadulterated darkness yet offers loads of ethereal harmonies in the midst of opulent atmospheric layers and distant echoes of distorted guitars.

The particularly lengthy album closer “With Doom I Come” definitely relies on the vivid atmospheric aspects of Summoning’s music style as kaleidoscopic keyboards craft an endless series of magical hazy progressions bearing a dark aura as well as cinematic quality, absolutely amplified by epic chants and mysterious whispers, that continuously channel mystical and mythical vibes.

Even if remnants of primordial black metal infuse the whole album there is nothing insanely heavy on “With Doom We Come” as Summoning brings a shroud of frost and pure poetic gloom constantly evoking surreal soundscapes that will keep you company through these long winter nights.