Bloodbath – The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn

Featuring members from Paradise Lost, Katatonia, Opeth and Craft, Sweden’s shadiest death cult Bloodbath is the supergroup that every death metal acolyte dreams of and the long anticipated new album “The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn”, the second with Old Nick on vocals, promises total sonic annihilation.

“Fleischmann” is simply vicious revolving around the sheer brutality of incessant rhythmic blasts featuring the expected relentless guitar riffing galore and plummeting drums within a claustrophobic mood where the brief darkened guitar melodies represent the only feeble sense of hope.

Straight to the point “Wayward Samaritan” offers loads of fast anthemic death metal grooves with the right dosage of chunky bass lines and ravenous riffage that will eventually slow down just to allow the guitar leads to stand out and Old Nick doesn’t disappoint delivering plenty of hellish growls.

Since the beginning the putrid sonic realm of “Levitator” features merciless monolithic guitar work naturally channeling absolute horror and other terrifying feelings fully amplified by gruesome growls and sinister atmospheric arrangements.

The old school approach of “Deader” is immediately evident as guitars diligently follow a savage rampage, often with breakneck speed, with belligerent riffs leading to a series of purely aggressive rhythmic assaults invigorated by blistering soloing.

Monstrous guitar driven grooves lead the way on “Only The Dead Survive” fueled by a familiar primordial energy that generates ominous blackened rhythmic variations through the expected classic approach with wicked riffing and thunderous drumming.

Despite the title “Chainsaw Lullaby” is definitely not a lullaby but rather sounds like a horror gore/slasher soundtrack as evil screams and infectious guitar riffs confidently build blood splattered grooves that don’t really need excessive speed but definitely benefit from the underlying solemn atmospheric darkness.

If you are in the mood for uncompromising old school death metal you will be delighted by “The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn” but it should be noted that this time Bloodbath’s music feels a bit more adventurous adding a dramatic momentum to the truly nightmarish soundscape.

Metal Allegiance – Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty

Featuring metal icons Alex Skolnick, Mike Portnoy, Mark Menghi, David Ellefson and many remarkable guest vocalists, Metal Allegiance is different from other supergroups as in this case the raison d’être is a passionate celebration of heavy metal and comradery in the scene, consequently the second full length “Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty” is the product of real writing/jamming sessions among friends.

Instant headbanging is mandatory with “The Accuser” featuring vocalist Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder as the main aggressively fast rhythmic core is full of ravenous old school guitar riffs, a sincere homage to primal heavy metal, and obviously you can expect a fair dosage of killer intricate solos.

Featuring Bobby Blitz of legendary Overkill with his signature monstrous vocal delivery “Mother Of Sin” has that traditional thrash metal mood that we always need in our lives skillfully built by the intense rhythmic patterns and spiced up by the memorable intriguing guitar solos.

On “King With A Paper Crown” Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth delivers his renowned viking growls and it’s interesting to hear him sing in such a different sonic context but the song really works and actually stands out in the album due to the somber mood and tasteful melodic lead guitar dynamics flowing through the harsh classic heavy metal grooves.

Max Cavalera channels his tribal legacy on “Voodoo Of The Godsend” which has a fiery death metal tinged core but also extremely darkened tonalities and crispy melodic shredding guitar solos leading to an exciting sonic blend that fortunately includes major arcane tribal percussions.

We heard the unmistakable screams by Mark Osegueda on the first Metal Allegiance album and it’s nice to see him back on “Impulse Control” which shines for the glorious guitar work with loads of perfectly executed classic riffage and majestic soloing and the sensational catchy chorus.

“Power Drunk Majesty (Part II)” is a remarkable surprise featuring Floor Jansen of Nightwish as lead vocalist and she renders everything absolutely epic naturally enhancing the song’s melodic aspects with her soulful delivery and dazzling operatic skills plus the guitar solos here are nothing short of magnificent.

We can all agree that Metal Allegiance is an entertaining successful music endeavor in all-star party fashion so it totally makes sense to continue such unique metal experience and “Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty” will definitely please and unite all faithful metalheads around the world.

Mantar – The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze

The duo behind Mantar, guitarist/vocalist Hanno Klaenhardt and drummer Erinc Sakarya, worked hard to leave an indelible mark in the modern metal scene and the latest release “The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze” aims to spread further the band’s heavy signature style.

The guitar progressions on “Age Of The Absurd” are evidently inspired by multiple metal subgenres combining super harsh riffage and easier entertaining melodies while vocals sound like ravenous screams constantly channeling raw fury.

While “Seek + Forget” keeps a strong distorted angered mood with blackened hints the rhythm sections slow down a bit to enhance a dramatic melodic depth leading to mellow guitars within a grim pensive breakdown.

On “Taurus” a solid combo of venomous growls and infectious guitar riffs build extra darkened textures as the band aims to deliver a vicious rhythmic assault but also experiments with atmospheric arrangements.

“Obey The Obscene” stands out for the atmospheric impending doom that lingers through the frenetic maze of blackened grooves where guitars skillfully combine gritty riffage and grave melodies.

The sludge doom metal force behind “The Formation Of Night” leads to powerful harsh guitar driven grooves always enhanced by a spiteful vocal delivery and a massive rhythmic backbone that will eventually give way to sorrowful melodies and atmospheric despair.

“The Funeral” aptly takes on an atmospheric mournful approach that will influence the overall mood with scattered slower darkened moments and gloomy synths yet there are still loads of abrasive guitar riffs that generate explosive rhythmic sections.

Just like the title implies “The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze” is an incendiary effort that at the same time maintains a rebellious rock spirit and a brutal sonic approach, a successful pathway that Mantar passionately continues to follow inspired by the cleansing power of fire.

 

Vulcain – Vinyle

French veterans Vulcain return with the timeless hard rock style of the latest album “Vinyle” which, as you can imagine, is filled with no frills loud anthemic songs.

There are no surprises on the title track as the trio focuses on a solid series of gritty guitar riffs and consequent raw energy, a recipe that aims to keep old school hard rock alive.

Following a similar pathway “Héros” revolves around entertaining guitar riffs, wild rhythmic sections, roaring vocals and the inflamed guitar solo also bears the mark of classic hard rock.

The hard rock intensity of “Darling” ensures another bold round of killer guitar riffing and leads accompanied by aptly raucous vocals resulting in a highly energetic song.

“Décibels” slows down to deliver a borderline rock ballad melodic ensemble featuring acoustic phrases as guitars acquire calmer tonalities but still offer some groovy moments.

In proper seasoned rocker fashion the lead guitar work on “Contrôle” delights the listeners with fiery licks and shredding galore marching confidently throughout the song.

“Motör” is about having good time, partying with friends and headbanging to the traditional groovy rampage spontaneously built by tight galloping guitar riffs and powerful drumming.

Vulcain proudly carry the torch for ‘80s hard rock and “Vinyle” diligently follows the footsteps of legendary bands like Motorhead & AC/DC with genuine passion and an explosive instrumental work.

The Sea Within – The Sea Within

The concept of the “supergroup” is not new and in the progressive rock/metal circles this holds even more truth. The Sea Within are certainly no exception! The pedigree from guitarist and singer-songwriter Roine Stolt, keyboardist Tom Brislin (Kaipa, The Flower Kings), bassist Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Tangent), guitarist & vocalist Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), and drummer phenomenon Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani) is in the upper echelon of Prog rock royalty. With such high profile musicians are The Sea Within capable of crafting Prog Greatness or Prog Mediocrity? Let’s find out.

The album starts off with an impressive opener “Ashes of Dawn” that harkens influences from Pain of Salvation’s more recent work peppered with both bombastic and tasteful drumming courtesy of Drumming phenom Marco Minnemann. Out of nowhere a quite passionate saxophone solo by guest player Rob Townsend culminates into a Prog-Chops fest that appropriately announces the band has arrived and demands your attention.

“An eye for an eye” is where things start to take a change with a more overt 70’s influence that one would guess would surely be the work of Roine Stolt. Things in the later half of the track take on a few different layers with a jazz-ish piano trio part that’s more Chick Corea than Dream Theater.

“Goodbye” proves an inconvenient and somewhat jarring change of pace with the track featuring vocals via Casey McPherson. A great and tasteful singer in his own right, but after twenty plus minutes of vocals by Daniel Gildenlöw the change in vocals was almost too drastic. I was completely distracted and pulled out of the atmosphere by this decision. At only 4 minutes this track is tossed in almost as an afterthought, quickly getting out of the way for instrumental track “Sea Without” serving as a sort of bombastic intro to Beatles-esque “Broken Chord.” Honestly those two tracks could easily have been one epic Prog song!

And that is the predicament that The Sea Within finds itself. It seems to struggle to find its own identity through its mixture of 70’s drenched Progressive worship of bands like Genesis and Yes mixed with a healthy dose of Modern sensibilities like Pain of Salvation, Black Bozo, and even Big Big Train. At times beautiful, other times fun and even a bit silly, The Sea Within’s debut is most worthy of taking the time to dig into. While it could stand to shave off about twenty minutes of play time in hopes of being a bit more concise, the record is sure to find a rabid fan base. For a debut record of a self proclaimed supergroup, it will certainly not disappoint fans of these high caliber musicians.

Burning Witches – Hexenhammer

While Swiss all female metallers Burning Witches are still considered newcomers in the metal scene their music style is profoundly influenced by old school heavy metal as you can easily tell listening to the brand new album “Hexenhammer”.

On “Executed” the frenetic bombastic rhythm is clearly inspired by decades of classic heavy metal with dominant lead guitars delivering the perfect dosage of shredding to spice up the steady crushing grooves as well as melancholic melodic phrases.

“Lords Of War” tends to slow down a bit in order to sound more catchy and slightly ‘happier’,especially during the triumphant chorus, but this doesn’t sacrifice the powerful sonic formula further enhanced by high pitch vocals and flamboyant guitar work.

The mood gets darker on “Dead Ender” as somber tones characterize the steady riffage and consequent mid paced grooves while guitar leads once again stand out with enjoyable melodic accents.

The title track continues to channel classic ‘80s heavy metal and in fact revolves around the catchy & rough guitar driven grooves adorned by intense vocals, solemn warrior style backing vocals and smooth melodic guitars.

“Maneater” has a proper witchy mood fueled by wicked vocals with devilish high pitch while guitars are busy maintaining classic heavy grooves that reach the expected acme with wilder soloing.

It takes courage to cover an unforgettable metal anthem like “Holy Diver” but here Burning Witches deliver a solid version with genuine passion and a flattering cool vocal performance.

It’s nice to see more women in the modern metal scene and on the energetic release “Hexenhammer” Burning Witches proudly represent a timeless genre that will always gather acolytes worldwide.

Anneke Van Giersbergen – Symphonized

We all fell in love with the enchanting voice of Anneke Van Giersbergen when she was the vocalist of The Gathering and after that she embarked on a prolific solo career, collaborated with various brilliant artists such as Devin Townsend and Arjen Lucassen and recently returned to metal with her new band Vuur. Anneke’s new release “Symphonized” is a remarkable live album because here you can experience her two career-spanning concerts with orchestral arrangements together with Residentie Orkest The Hague.

The show starts with the lavish orchestrations and graceful vocals of “Feel Alive”, originally released on Anneke’s solo album “Everything Is Changing”.

“Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki”, originally released by Vuur, is certainly stripped of its bold progressive metal core but in this version it shines for the natural blend of triumphant orchestral vibes and classical dreamy tonalities.

The aria by Henry Purcell “When I Am laid In Earth” feels particularly compelling as it completely deviates from the rock/metal realm with its purely classical elegant harmonies that allow Anneke to show her operatic skills.

On “Travel”, a The Gathering song loved by many fans, Anneke’s vocal performance feels utterly nostalgic while the sumptuous orchestration successfully channels the original inner spacey melancholy.

The unreleased song in Dutch “Zo Lief” stands out for Anneke’s emotionally charged genuine vocals accompanied by charming minimalist piano and strings.

Another The Gathering lovely song “Forgotten” takes us back in time with refined orchestrations and Anneke’s voice will inevitably trigger immense nostalgia.

“Shores Of India” was originally released by The Gentle Storm, an unforgettable collaboration with Arjen Lucassen featuring epic & eclectic prog dynamics that here acquire classical allure and melodic splendor.

Anneke’s fans will be instantly delighted by the marvelous live performance on “Symphonized”, an album that rightfully celebrates her vocal talent accompanied by an extraordinary orchestra.

Ken Mode – Loved

On the new Ken Mode album “Loved” mastermind brothers Jesse and Shane Matthewson audaciously continue to explore enigmatic tonalities and unexpected noise sonic patterns.

The opening track “Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should” is short and violent as guitar riffs embark on a noisy music journey deliberately abolishing rules yet this is not just random chaos and you can perceive a clear vision behind such bitter grooves.

“The Illusion Of Dignity” sounds super gritty with harsh guitar riffing and odd tempo variations that keep a tumultuous rhythmic section to support the angered disillusioned screams while the saxophone offers a borderline dissonant jazz inspired momentum.

“Learning To Be Too Cold” still offers chaotic noise action yet there are underlying somber guitar nuances flowing through the abrasive rhythmic patterns.

The mood changes on “This Is A Love Test” which features calmer yet absolutely eclectic rhythmic segments allowing the noir saxophone melodies to shine accompanied by spacey textures and bold bass lines but the undiluted anger will return with scattered heavier moments.

“No Gentle Art” becomes more atmospheric and mysterious before giving way to a dissonant darkened sonic realm where a brilliant trippy saxophone naturally collide with massive noise guitar riffs, dizzy rhythmic variations and enraged screams.

Certainly what you’re listening to is the product of absolute creative freedom as on “Loved” Ken Mode is not following any trend and rather deliver a unique sonic vision that tastes like desperation and passion.

Lucifer’s Child – The Order

Featuring renowned extreme metal veterans guitarist George Emmanuel of Rotting Christ, bassist Stathis Ridis of Nightfall, vocalist Marios Dupont of Karma Violens and drummer Nick Vell of Chaostar, Greek blackened metallers Lucifer’s Child are ready to showcase their darkly majestic creative force with the sophomore album “The Order”

“Viva Morte” is a great way to open the album as the band unleashes loads of ferocious grooves fueled by the speed and wickedness of guitar riffs and drums which seem to emerge from an arcane realm and the whole blackened inspiration is extremely amplified by devilish growls, obscure chants and the intricate magnetic lead guitar work.

The title track foreshadows an inevitable descent into the abyss through immensely blackened rhythmic bursts accompanied by mysterious chants while the powerful guitar soloing channels darkened melodic splendor and contributes to the song’s groovy nature.

Conjuring undiluted darkness “Through Fire We Burn” is also characterized by a profoundly spiritual aura fully expressed by the initial slower dramatic melodic phrases that introduce epic waves of diverse mesmerizing guitar progressions shifting from bold nightmarish riffage to an elegant melodic gloom emphasized by haunting acoustic arpeggios.

Evoking sinister & solemn atmospheric vibes “El Dragón” offers plenty of killer groovy dynamics enhanced by gloomy yet absolutely catchy melodic lead guitar accents in the midst of monumental drumming and relentless riffing clearly inspired by primordial blackened roots.

With its mystical allure “Siste Farvel” is an intoxicating track that will instantly captivate the listeners as the blend of atmospheric grandeur and impeccably darkened melodies comes to life with the monolithic drums, the tormented tonalities of the bewitching guitar work and theatrical esoteric whispers & chants.

Acolytes of blackened grooves and ominous atmospheres will simply become addicted to “The Order” and as expected Lucifer’s Child demonstrate intensely darkened songwriting skills as well as stellar musicianship leading to a memorable obscure sonic ritual.

 

Unleashed – The Hunt For White Christ

Swedish death metal vikings Unleashed return with the the new release “The Hunt For White Christ” which follows the storyline of the World of Odalheim and their Midgard warriors, authored by vocalist / bass player Johnny Hedlund.

There are no special effects on “Lead Us Into War” but this fierce album opener hits you in the face with relentless guitar riffs, menacing rhythmic blasts and generous shredding leads channeling a ready for battle mood.

“You Will Fall” features moments of profound melancholy with slower atmospheric phrases but the band is still ready to smash everything with the expected bold guitar riffing leading the way to a series of soaring rhythmic assaults.

The extremely somber Nordic tonalities of “Gram” add sonic depth and solemn atmospheric accents to the main aggressive rhythmic segments and once again the blistering guitar solo will grab your attention.

Beside the massive traditional death metal momentum on “The City Of Jorsala Shall Fall” there are contemplative and ominous vibes, always amplified by the cavernous growls, flowing through the ravenous guitar riffs and wild soloing.

While “By The Western Wall” keeps the vicious death metal vibes alive the compelling guitar solo delivers calmer melodic passages creating a rather somber mood that will be enhanced by the final acoustic phrases.

“Open To All The World” prepares the album grand finale with crushing rhythmic dynamics relying on savage drumming and fiery guitar riffs in classic death metal style followed by enjoyable guitar melodies and utterly epic atmospheres.

As the band approaches the 30th anniversary “The Hunt For White Christ” impeccably stays true to Unleashed signature music style confidently delivering a collection of solid death metal anthems.