Letters From The Colony – Vignette

Swedish progressive extreme metal architects Letters From The Colony proudly presents to the world their opus “Vignette” which, far from being an average debut album, showcases songwriting complexity and virtuosic performance.

An ambiance intro creates suspense on “Galax” which seems to rely on a rather lethal sonic assault with recognizable death metal hints as punishing drums and guitar riffs lead the way until a series of eclectic variations mutate tempo & style welcoming cathartic polished melodies and jazz oriented instrumental passages where the stellar guitar work gains a rightfully deserved crucial role.

While the main structure of “Erasing Contrast” continues to showcase aggressive & fast rhythmic patterns this track is rendered more interesting by the continuous tempo variations that will ultimately lead to a radical change of scenario when guitars begin to focus on luminous melodies surrounded by surreal atmospheric layers.

The rhythmic backbone of “Terminus” features massive raw guitar riffing surrounded by cold atmospheric tones channeling once again the darkest depths of extreme metal spiced up by highly technical guitar work that will slow down dramatically towards the end of the song to deliver ethereal shoegaze vibes.

“Glass Palaces” hits you in the face with a wall of heavy guitar riffs and enraged growls supported by impeccable bass & drums dynamics but this burst of untamed fury is further enriched by meticulous technical guitar progressions that will later acquire a sense of serenity as guitars focus on the creation of crispy melodic tapestries.

The title track is definitely the most complex offering on this album as the band continuously combines multiple music styles, starting with super heavy rhythmic patterns interrupted by fancy prog style guitar leads and bright melodies that will often craft peaceful yet intensely technical hypnotizing breakdowns accompanied by ambience accents before returning to more straightforward extreme metal moments.

Math metal acolytes will rejoice listening to the insane instrumental intricacy of “Vignette” but Letters From The Colony doesn’t focus solely on this style as these talented musicians demonstrate the ability to deliver a multifaceted work of music confidently blending also prog and shoegaze elements.

Knife The Glitter – Knife The Glitter

Featuring Kevin Antreassian of The Dillinger Escape Plan, New Jersey based instrumental progressive metal band Knife The Glitter spent eight years working on the debut self-titled album which sadly also marks the final chapter of this extravagant music endeavor.

“Idiot City” begins with mysterious atmospheres that soon evolve into pure sonic experimentation that will showcase certain familiar characteristics of prog metal such as sound clarity and a flamboyant instrumental maze with occasional luminous melodic passages emerging through syncopated rhythms and technical guitar work.

With a deliberate complex composition “Gargle Clamp” mixes bold rhythmic patterns with thrilling guitar progressions that shift from surreal bright melodic concoctions to steady rock riffing heavily influenced by prog metal and jazz.

“Highly Electric Squirrel” might be one of the most creative song titles and definitely matched by the intense creative force that generates what appears to be a whirlwind of chaotic segments but truly is an example of exciting musicianship leading to eclectic grooves, frenetic heavy riffing and absolutely entertaining  guitar leads carrying pleasant jazzy vibes.

“Permanent Baby Snowpants” relies on a slick syncopated structure with synths channeling ‘80s rock flavors but still maintains a proper prog metal essence with virtuoso guitar work and interesting rhythmic variations.

Things get simply hyper chaotic on “The Snake Charmer’s Anthem” as the whole instrumentation spontaneously experiments with diverse, at times ethereal, tonalities and styles following borderline dissonant dynamics while keeping a more aggressive heavy metal approach.

Undoubtedly Knife The Glitter aims to compose a visceral intricate album pushing genre boundaries as a hobby and in the chaotic sonic webs you can certainly perceive the lucidity and the talented musicianship of this charismatic band.

Arkona – Khram

Hailing from Russia Arkona has conquered a prominent status in the metal scene gaining attention for the unique blackened pagan metal style that on the latest effort “Khram” becomes even more epic and intriguing due to the addition of multiple traditional folk instruments and a profoundly mystical aura.

While “Shtorm” offers plenty of aggressive rhythmic patterns built by bold guitar riffing, the melodic elements of this song tend to demand more attention as they move sinuously through a pitch black sonic assault to deliver darkly magical nuances enhanced by a strong folk momentum featuring flute & bagpipe and Masha’s poetic clean vocal delivery.

Far from being an average metal song “Tseluya zhizn’” is a majestic opus that starts with a calmer melodic approach evoking intense spiritual vibes but offers a multifaceted style & songwriting structure effortlessly shifting from blasts of guitar driven blackened grooves to contemplative cathartic moments crafted by darkened atmospheric layers and folk instrumental passages. Matching this fascinating duality, Masha delivers genuinely fiery growls as well as soulful chants that further amplify the dramatic nature of the guitar and strings melodies while towards the end the song enters a highly esoteric sonic realm.

“Rebionok bez imeni” feels immediately darkly poetic with mellow guitar phrases and enchanting atmospheric tones that will lead to a dense obscurity where occasional growls hold primordial blackened strength and guitars continue to maintain a steady melodic momentum enriched by elegantly emotive clean vocal delivery. While the poignant melodic elements of this song will continue to hold a prominent role also with the addition of few remarkable folk oriented passages there is still space for a satisfying dosage of untamed blackened rhythmic fury.

The dark depths of “V pogonie za beloj ten’yu” become palpable right at the beginning with classically lavish piano melodies that create expectations for what is yet to come and will return to throughout the song to provide moments of luminous melancholy. Arkona proceed to channel a relentless blackened essence with purely enraged growls and tight instrumental dynamics that will seamlessly evolve into soothing arpeggios or sorrowful melodies instead of sounding brutal at all costs.

“V ladonyah bogov” features cohesive rhythmic patterns skillfully built by groovy guitar riffs but the atmospheric & mystical essence of the slower mesmerizing ambient moments, minimalist somber melodies and arcane instrumental passages feels like the true highlight of this track evoking an otherworldly realm of mythical/celestial beings.

Overall “Khram” benefits greatly from a mature multifaceted songwriting approach that aims to intrigue the listeners with multiple, at times even unexpected, changes of scenario occurring through each lengthy track yet the essential aspects of Arkona’s renowned music style are easily recognizable.

All Souls – All Souls

Los Angeles based quartet All Souls will be a new name for many but this band actually features experienced musicians, Meg & Tony from Totimoshi, Tony from Fatso Jetson/The Desert Sessions and Erik from Black Elk, therefore the self-titled debut album will definitely trigger your curiosity.

“Party Night” is aptly filled with upbeat hooks and a constant groovy party mood spiced up by acidic guitar work and more melodic & emotive leads while vocals showcase an easy rebel edge or a slightly melancholic delivery.

“Never Know” will immediately stand out for the major rock hooks built by an exciting series of instrumental rhythmic patterns and memorable chorus but this song gradually gains complexity as stomping bass lines and lead guitars also display the psychedelic tinged aura of vintage desert rock resulting in a lovely daydreaming soundtrack.

With outpouring emotions “Silence” has a slower rhythm that favors bewitching guitar melodies and heartfelt vocal delivery but also a crunchy acidic guitar driven groove holds a relevant role ultimately leading to a wild guitar solo surrounded by surreal ambiance tones.

“Rename The Room” becomes even more emotional with contemplative breaks, a rich array of melancholia infused guitar melodies and soft vocals yet still holds a slightly raw rock essence with grunge influenced reverb that gains additional strength when eclectic guitar leads take the center stage.

“Reveille” relies on atmospheric vibes holding darkened feelings with a crescendo of moody guitars offering loads of somber melodic nuances and hypnotic resonance but there is also space for recurring catchy retro rock grooves.

With a rather gloomy background “Sadist/Servant” features a massive melodic catharsis where a particularly lavish and unique guitar work leads to an explosive rhythm built by an infectious borderline angered rhythmic ensemble that especially shines for the dazzling drumming style and ensures plenty of rebellious stomping grooves.

At the heart of All Souls classic desert rock certainly holds a primary role yet the band doesn’t refrain from offering diverse style variations and unexpected sonic crossovers as here these four artists are spontaneously writing & jamming to create a sincere music experience.


Terror Universal – Make Them Bleed

The new masked metal supergroup Terror Universal, featuring Ill Nino members Dave Chavarri and Ahrue Luster, is ready to hit you in the face with the modern blend of brutality and melody of the debut album “Make Them Bleed”.

The mix of modern crushing metal patterns and creepy atmospheres of “Passage Of Pain (Blood)” definitely represents the whole album’s music pathway which might not be crucially innovative nevertheless the explosive accessible guitar driven grooves and fairly radio friendly chorus will entertain the listeners.

Featuring guest bassist John Moyer, “Spines” feels particularly catchy with trendy industrial accents recurring around sharp guitar riffing while the widely accessible melodic & emotional nature of this track becomes particularly palpable in the easy chorus.

The title track leans towards darker tonalities with subtle atmospheric layers and borderline ambiance breakdown while the full blown enraged vocals and the tight riffing & drumming combo are meant to craft sonic aggression with evident nu-metal vibes.

“Through The Mirrors” holds a melancholic essence with some soulful guitar melodies and a rather trendy chorus even if there are plenty of heavier moments fueled by more aggressive rhythmic patterns filled of super crunchy guitar riffs.

“Dig You A Hole” aims to spread terror among the masses with a sweet nightmarish lullaby beginning swiftly followed by that mainstream, yet moshpit friendly, ensemble of groovy guitar riffs while the expected but absolutely catchy melodic chorus is ready to get stuck in your mind.

“Into Darkness” is all about a massive horror metal galore as the atmospheric creepiness continues to embrace all those fiery guitar riffs and the consequent grooves eventually lead to a polished melodic solo while vocalist Plague effortlessly shifts from devilish growls to actually heartfelt clean vocals.

We don’t really need to know the identity of the musicians behind Terror Universal but certainly they all are seasoned artists with a passion for horror themes and those who like slasher flicks and catchy melodies will be delightfully entertained by the blood-splatter dynamics of “Make Them Bleed”.

Fu Manchu – Clone Of The Universe

Southern California’s desert/fuzz/stoner rock legends Fu Manchu are back with the exciting 12th full length “Clone Of The Universe” which promises to deliver a trippy collection of songs as the band is ready to jam in desert rock fashion but doesn’t refrain from offering heavier & highly psychedelic grooves.

“(I’ve been) Hexed” immediately channels the most groovy aspects of stoner rock pushing relentlessly on that fuzz pedal to create irresistible guitar riffs and utterly hypnotizing leads while the whole instrumentation & vocals become intensely catchy in the chorus.

“Slower Than Light” favors a spacey melodic instrumental ensemble as guitars acquire lavish spellbinding tonalities favored by a temporarily slower rhythm enhancing the delicious trippy vibes that will eventually gain a heavier attitude amplified by super thick bass lines to reach maximum groovy galore.

“Nowhere Left To Hide” feels heavier than usual with doom drenched guitar riffing and captivating rhythmic variations that always ensure a groovy intensity but also features a slower full blown spaced out momentum filled of shimmering psychedelic vibes and acidic tonalities as desert rock legacy dictates.

The title track is properly packed with highly entertaining guitar driven grooves as riffs and drums bear the mark of classic stoner rock with vintage tonalities and stomping thrill and the immense fuzz power of vibrant rhythmic guitars leads to consequent flamboyant leads that cannot be ignored.

If you haven’t spaced out enough yet, the massive fuzzy music journey embodied by “Il Mostro Atomico” will certainly get your psychedelic fix. Featuring guitar legend Alex Lifeson from Rush, this 18 minutes track could not sound more otherworldly trippy as the band is constantly engaged in a spontaneous stoner rock jam that flows just like a fuzzy warped dream showcasing enticing rhythmic variety and eclectic guitar work. As guitars craft all kinds of sensational riffs with familiar stoner/doom flavors the rhythm effortlessly transitions from bewitching melodic concoctions to familiar catchy rock textures resulting in a rather epic composition that, despite the exceptional length, always grabs the listeners’ attention also due to the addition of quite fancy guitar & drums solos and a loop of surreal psychedelic moments channeling a ‘middle of the desert jam’ experience.

While Fu Manchu doesn’t let down the expectations of their faithful acolytes keeping intact the glorious ‘fuzz & wah’ essence, “Clone Of The Universe” also expands the band’s renowned music style with an additional overdose of trippy & heavy dynamics resulting in a quite unique and absolutely entertaining album.

The Atlas Moth – Coma Noir

Hailing from Chicago The Atlas Moth always focused on experimenting with psychedelic & atmospheric facets of metal and on the latest effort “Coma Noir” the band embraces darkened nuances and bravely continues to defy standard music style categorization.

The title track offers plenty of aggressive rhythmic dynamics but never sacrifices an inner melodic finesse fueled by  post-metal dark tonalities embedded in the polished guitar work and a conscious desire to blend multiple music styles with recognizable doom/sludge accents and industrial oriented synths layers.

On “Last Transmission From The Late, Great Planet Earth” fiery distorted guitars contribute to the creation of super tight eclectic rhythmic patterns but also deliver a noteworthy series of rather catchy vibrant melodies which passionately match the shimmering atmospheric weaves.

“Galactic Brain” becomes particularly cinematic with modern electro/industrial atmospheres and experimental noise momentum surrounding slick sludgy grooves and the creative clarity of guitars often provide icy luminous melodic textures while clean vocals hold emotional quality in contrast with the more obscure piercing screams.

“The Streets Of Bombay” immediately features exquisite trippy moments where synths evoke contemplative soundscapes that will ultimately enter an intensely darkened realm made of super groovy riffing bearing heavy doom tonalities and widely accessible melancholia infused guitar melodies.

Massive guitar riffs gain a primary role on “Smiling Knife” which is consequently filled of untamed stomping grooves but also features several quite creative lead guitar concoctions surrounded by spacey & mysterious industrial elements lurking in the background.

“Chloroform” feels quite hypnotizing as the whole instrumentation acquires profoundly nostalgic tonalities especially palpable and lovable in the charismatic lead guitar moments scattered throughout the grim doom oriented rhythmic maze enriched by loads of cinematic creepy accents and deliciously flamboyant saxophone leads performed by Bruce Lamont of Yakuza & Corrections House.

What stands out on “Coma Noir” is certainly the fascinating darkness surrounding the multifaceted intricate instrumental passages as The Atlas Moth shows the necessary creative force and potential to conquer a solid status in the current underground metal scene.

Therion – Beloved Antichrist

The return of symphonic metal titans Therion could have not been more triumphant as Christofer Johnsson has been working meticulously on the magnum opus “Beloved Antichrist” for many years. This is not a typical symphonic metal album as “Beloved Antichrist”, loosely inspired by Vladimir Soloviev’s philosophical Russian novel “Short Tale Of The Antichrist”, is properly structured like a classical opera divided in three acts therefore the listeners will experience the grandeur and passionate performance just like they would in the context of a live opera in an old fashioned theater.  In fact, Christofer plans to create a revolutionary live stage performance as this rock opera is designed to be presented in opera houses. On this exciting music endeavor featuring 30 different vocal roles and a playing time of over three hours, Christofer is joined by all Therion’s members and many utterly amazing vocalists.

The first act begins with “Turn From Heaven” which brings melodic warmth as well as epic vibes with luminous kaleidoscopic orchestral arrangements and solemn choirs while sharp guitar riffs certainly add a traditional metal attitude.

On “Where Will You Go?” guitars maintain a pleasant crunchy riffing that is seamlessly entwined with charismatic operatic vocals & choirs and absolutely lavish orchestrations that will soon acquire mysterious tonalities.

“Signs Are Here” amplifies the spellbinding classical inspiration behind this opera with refined orchestrations that flawlessly shift from graceful atmospheres to excitingly sumptuous moments and the amazing operatic vocals & choirs channel additional symphonic grandeur.

“Bring Her Home” features stunning delicate orchestral tapestries that flawlessly embrace various more metal oriented moments skillfully built by cohesive rhythmic guitar patterns that provide groovy layers on which impeccable female & male operatic duets add stunning dramatic tones.

“Garden Of Peace” is filled with ethereal atmospheric layers and soft guitar harmonies while enchanting operatic duets contribute to enhance a tragic essence typical of a classical live opera.

“Our Destiny” is another magical moment where simply groovy guitar & drums dynamics contribute to create a steady cohesive rock approach while subtle lavish orchestrations feel particularly inspiring depicting a sincere emotional palette enriched by lovely melodic guitars.

The beautiful elegance of the melodic passages of “Nothing But My Name” evokes peaceful soundscapes with impressive sonic clarity, melancholy infused symphonic accents and intense vocal delivery.

The second act starts with “The Arrival Of Apollonius” where otherworldly operatic vocals and intense choirs continue to hold a dominant role softly surrounded by captivating multifaceted orchestrations and even if guitars tend to stay in the background they do provide a strong rhythmic backbone and occasional melodic accents.

On “Night Reborn” guitars take the center stage to deliver a tight ensemble of sharp riffs while diverse operatic vocals featuring male soloists and opulent choirs keep alive a classical vibe surrounded by rich symphonic textures.

“Dagger Of God” begins with lovely sorrowful piano melodies soon accompanied by shimmering melodic guitars and radiant soprano vocals resulting in a deeply melancholic composition.

Grave operatic male vocals on “Temple Of New Jerusalem” solemnly introduce a catchy rhythmic ensemble of familiar rock/metal grooves with mid pace guitar riffs and a flamboyant solo that often display ‘80s vibes.

The magnificent atmospheres of “The Lions Roar” ensure a strong impact also with the contribution of the expected glorious symphonic elements mixed to the metal edge of guitar riffs and superb operatic choirs.

“Behold Antichrist” has a wicked essence matched by a wonderful theatrical vocal approach that definitely enhances the live opera style but also features a series of super catchy guitar riffs & eclectic melodic progressions.

With a gloomy mood “Astral Sophia” features familiar elements of symphonic metal with darkened atmospheric nuances always embellished by delightful soprano vocals and intense guitar riffs enriched by a somber male operatic performance.

The third and final act starts with “Shoot Them Down!” which is evidently influenced by classic ‘80s metal and focuses on easy guitar driven grooves mixed with a wide variety of vibrant classical operatic vocals.

“Beneath The Starry Skies” starts with strong bass lines and wistful atmospheric layers but soon picks up speed to build another round of entertaining mix of metal grooves and classical finesse.

“Burning The Palace” feels almost furious with thunderous drumming and fiery guitar riffs yet the exquisite soprano delivery brings a sophisticated aura and the subtle orchestrations evoke gloomy soundscapes.

“Day Of Wrath” channels immediately an understated opulence with the flawless operatic splendor of vocals and the refined melodic tapestries created by melancholia infused instrumental passages that can evoke mystical vibes as well as surreal atmospheres.

“My Voyage Carries On” is filled with mesmerizing melodies but also showcases powerful symphonic metal grooves always embellished by stylish instrumental variations and dazzling classical accents.

“Theme Of Antichrist” shines for the baroque allure that influences the whole instrumentation as inflamed metal oriented rhythmic dynamics are carefully mixed with absolutely dramatic vocals and intricate melodic textures ending with monumental choirs.

“Beloved Antichrist” certainly showcases the primary aspects of the creative symphonic metal essence that characterize Therion’s previous releases yet for some listeners it might be too lengthy or not metal enough, indeed it would be challenging to find time to listen often to the entire album, but nobody could ever doubt that mastermind Christofer Johnsson with absolute fervor and rare dedication has crafted what will be remembered as the most majestic album in the history of metal.

Machine Head – Catharsis

Fronted by charismatic vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn, Machine Head is ready to deliver the ambitious ninth album “Catharsis” which aims to reach a wider audience confidently mixing diverse stylistic elements while keeping an understated fury.

The familiar undiluted rage blasting through “Volatile” will take you back in time as a brutal rhythmic assault is fiercely built by super crunchy guitar riffs and blistering drums that undoubtedly hold a classic Machine Head style and the whole instrumentation marches triumphantly creating all kinds of heavy grooves and belligerent tonalities while the big chorus focuses on pure melodic catchiness.

The title track offers an enigmatic mood that momentarily seems to deviate from the band’s signature style favoring modern atmospheric layers that will introduce an intriguing mixture of luminous melodies and punishing guitar driven grooves creating a somber duality, matched by a combo of soulful clean vocals and venomous growls, which will dominate the song’s structure.

“Beyond The Pale” might start with somber melodies but swiftly gains more aggressive dynamics with loads of entertaining fiery guitar riffing and a steady heavy groove without necessarily sacrificing the song’s inner melodic essence.

“Kaleidoscope” returns to a more enraged approach where guitars lead the way with distorted crunchy tones as well as nu-metal accents enhanced by almost ferocious growls that become strangely accessible in the catchy chorus surrounded by subtle electro/orchestral background layers.

“Hope Begets Hope” features several inspired melodic moments leading to a powerful shredding guitar solo but certainly doesn’t refrain from offering some classic punishing rhythmic patterns that pack massive crunchy guitars and savage screams.

Putting aside any sign of rage “Behind A Mask” is an acoustic piece where guitars acquire an ethereal luminous aura and the vocal harmonies become poignant and absolutely melancholic contributing to the soothing poetic quality of these easy melodies.

Opening with a graceful atmospheric moment “Heavy Lies The Crown” acquires a rather epic feel enhanced by Robb’s theatrical storytelling delivery but soon thick guitars take over with darker aesthetics, occasional venomous groovy dynamics and scorching leads yet the melodic nature of this track remains quite dominant.

With a contemplative atmosphere “Eulogy” relies on soft ambiance echoes, minimalist melodies and emotional depth that at some point will inevitably dwell in a particularly darkened realm with a slightly experimental sonic approach that deliberately deviates from your standard metal track.

Fans of the band’s early discography will recognize similar vicious rhythmic patterns shining throughout “Catharsis” which for many could/should have been a better album but is certainly the result of a desire to explore multiple metal subgenres and overcome standard music rules with absolute freedom.

Tribulation – Down Below

Swedish quartet Tribulation is quickly becoming one of the most intriguing acts in the current metal scene following an unstoppable dark sonic evolution that ultimately and naturally leads to the ghastly shadows and the gothic finesse of the new album “Down Below” which at this point might be labeled as the band’s magnum opus.

Rightfully released as first single “The Lament” could not contain a higher dosage of pure melancholia starting with minimalist moody guitar phrases swiftly followed by an irresistible darkened rock groove where the whole instrumentation acquires wistful vintage tonalities while passionately diabolical growls certainly channel traditional blackened nuances.

On “Subterranea” eerie atmospheres and classical piano melodies foreshadow the advent of wicked rhythmic dynamics fueled by blackened & gothic rock influences and surrounded by palpable mysterious gloom as impossibly catchy guitars skillfully craft powerful melodic grooves that definitely hold a vintage rock essence but undoubtedly belong to an occult sonic realm populated by creepy unnamable figures in black.

On “Cries From The Underworld” you can fully appreciate some dominant retro rock textures mixed to classic horror themes that render this track quite accessible as guitars favor melodic aesthetics with refined attitude or a more flamboyant groove while the inner immense creepiness remains a constant element as darkness descends with ruthless honesty through recurring atmospheric layers.

“Lacrimosa” ensures a more aggressive fiercely blackened sonic approach as guitars acquire steady heavier dynamics but also concoct a particularly elegant melodic hymn to decadence with a dreadfully charismatic composition that offers an ensemble of deliciously kaleidoscopic harmonies further enhanced by mystical chants & complex baroque atmospheres.

As if vampyres were dancing under the blood moon “The World” drags the listeners through a perilous spellbinding gothic realm where, once again, guitars lead the show providing hypnotizing retro goth grooves and seductive melodic tapestries always enriched by the blackened grimness of vicious growls.

Right from the beginning “Here Be Dragons” feels like a grim fairytale as it is filled with an artsy mixture of gothic decadence and vintage rock flavors that will remain entwined through a whirlwind of dramatic instrumental passages where a mournful cathartic darkness pervades the super groovy quintessence of eclectic guitars constantly embellished by an exquisite ensemble of classical strings and obscurely elaborate synths resulting in a sumptuously ravishing piece of music.

Listening to “Down Below” you will notice how any attempt to overanalyze and force genre categorization becomes simply futile as like avant-garde meticulous alchemists Tribulation developed an exciting music formula made of dark magic and thrilling grooves perennially full of arcane splendor and ultimately meant to be utterly addictive.