Pain – Coming Home

Mastermind musician Peter Tägtgren is always on a creative rampage and this time the result is Pain’s brand new album “Coming Home” which delivers a wild music mixture in industrial metal fashion.

“Call Me”, featuring Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén as guest vocalist, is a groovy industrial oriented track with blasting guitar riffs and an easy chorus but the true highlight can be found in the charming orchestration courtesy of Carach Angren’s Clemens “Ardek” Wijers.

“A Wannabe” features a similar detailed orchestration style that adds bright elegance to the groovy metallic core. There is also a magnificent melancholic mood embodied by minimalist acoustic guitar melodies and poetic inspiring keyboard’s layers.

“Black Knight Satellite” builds a cool catchy guitar driven rhythm but also delivers a mellow elegant symphonic atmosphere. Although the heavy side of Pain’s music style is present, the thick epic orchestration takes a seminal role by adding a melancholic depth.

The title track has a softer melodic nature that doesn’t feel like a proper representation of the album’s general music direction. Any pompous special effects and heavily distorted guitars simply disappear as the emotional value is quite dominant and matches the somber introspective mood.

“Final Crusade” channels some familiar thrash metal roots in the upbeat rhythm. While the chorus has a spontaneous industrial simplistic groove, the breakdown temporarily erases the easy melody and evokes some guttural darkness.

“Coming Home” might still lack a cohesive revolutionary strength since some individual songs seem to be strangely misplaced or just fail to create a magical musical experience but remains an enjoyable album.


Combichrist – This Is Where Death Begins

With the latest full length release entitled “This Is Where Death Begins” Combichrist fearlessly crafts a dark moody ensemble of songs that cross your average musical boundaries. While the band still embraces familiar elements of EBM and industrial that initially gained instant fame, this album showcases a healthy dose of crunchy angry metal core.

“We Are The Plague” kicks in with a catchy angst embodied by coarse vocals and rocking guitar riffs. The memorable chorus that easily calls for headbanging and/or jumping is surrounded by cohesive metal rhythmic blasts and more atmospheric electro layers.

“My Life My Rules” sounds like a rebel teenage riot anthem and is a guitar driven tune that throws in the mix some obvious industrial rhythms to build an easily enjoyable groove. While fancy synthesizers enhance the electro aspect of the song that gets you ready to dance, the guitar solo successfully follows some beloved rules of metal.

“Skullcrasher” could be an easy hit with its catchy combo of angrier guitar riffs full of recognizable bitter metal accents that build a continuous bombastic rhythm cleverly enhanced by vibrant dancey electro vibes.

“Don’t Care How You Feel About It” has a predilection for a fun dance floor electro style with the synths working some synchronized magic to keep the crowd moving in order to reach a certain ephemeral ecstasy. In the midst of a sonic crescendo, Andy LaPlegua’s charismatic vocals seamlessly keep the suspenseful groove going until its own borderline cacophonic closure.

“Blackened Heart” has a dark ambiance soul with hints of goth lingering in the minimalist eerie synth arrangements but the main music core still focuses on heavier guitar riffs and a catchy raucous chorus.

“Pay To Play”, featuring some powerfully raw screams performed by guest vocalist Chris Motionless from Motionless in White, is filled with the right amount of energetic guitar riffs and revolves around a fierce industrial metal rhythmic core that could make you stomp wildly.

“Homeward” delivers a melancholic darkened mood that lingers delicately on nostalgic electronic layers that effortlessly introduce a heavier industrialized groove. The palpable, yet subtle, contrast between the softer melodic stylish phrases and the gritty guitars creates an understated nostalgic soundscape.

“This Is Where Death Begins” is filled with scattered dark apocalyptic visionary vibes but it also offers a variety of entertaining clever hooks and rocker style grooves that will assure to capture even the average listener’s attention.

Rotting Christ – Rituals

Notorious Greek metal warriors Rotting Christ return with the newest release “Rituals” promising a blazing collection of powerful songs filled with immense magical darkness. Channeling a wide array of obscure long forgotten myth, rites and extinct languages the band stylishly composes an inspiring mystical music journey that refuses to follow any standard music boundaries.

“In Nomine Dei Nostri” starts with the most sinister chanting reminiscent of ancient black masses held in obscure remote caves. When the tight guitar riffs take over, the atmosphere becomes more pungent and breathless in black metal fashion. While the drums keep a hammering steady fury the guitar solo and the chorus add layers of melodic harmonies.

On “Ze Nigmar” a subtle hypnotic state is embedded in the slower repeating super thick guitar riffs and the epic drums backbone. Folk instruments such as bagpipes provide the right pagan/primitive mood while the vocals add even more obscurity to the heavily mystical atmosphere.

“Elthe Kyrie” is the most coveted and mesmerizing track on this album. Flawlessly executed guitar riffs culminating in George Emmanuel’s majestic melodic guitar solo and a solemn epic rhythm that create a thick wall of distorted sound channel the grandeur of an ancient empire. The eerie feverish female vocals performed by actress Danai Katsameni evoke the mystical realm of ecstatic Bacchanalia and add a rare intensity to an already glorious piece of music that will leave the oblivious listener inevitably spellbound.

“Les Litanies de Satan (Les Fleurs du Mal)”, featuring guest vocalist Vorph from Samael, evokes a kaleidoscopic sophisticated occult ceremony. The poetic French lyrics gracefully layered on a heavy combo of powerful drumming and ravenous guitar riffs elegantly match the ominous asphyxiating atmosphere.

“For A Voice Like Thunder” is a dramatic track featuring a charismatic passionate performance by Paradise Lost’s vocalist Nick Holmes which spontaneously add a gothic texture. While groovy heavy guitar riffs build an intense metal theme the atmospheric narrated verses enhance the theatrical aspect of the song.

Traditional stubborn metalheads stuck in the realm of old school extreme metal might not fully comprehend the polychromatic musicality and harmonies lingering throughout “Rituals”. It would be a pity to miss the opportunity to taste and enjoy the multicultural piece of music that Rotting Christ has carefully crafted.

Blues Pills – Lady In Gold

Retro rock sensation Blues Pills returns with the second full length “Lady In Gold” promising an exciting ensemble of catchy songs that will attract a wider audience.

The title track and the album as a whole seem to focus noticeably on Elin Larsson’s vibrant vocals. While the vocals take inevitably the center stage with a particularly catchy chorus the music arrangement features perfectly retro fashioned guitar riffs and keyboards that effortlessly maintain a constant groove.

“Burned Out” has a bluesy groove that holds subtle dark accents in the organ melodic layers and languid guitar phrases. Once again the memorable catchy chorus featuring Larsson’s powerful voice and delightful soul style choirs is meant to steal the scene.

“I Felt A Change” has a borderline ballad style dramatic mood where Larsson successfully delivers a soulful vocal performance accompanied by a lovely old fashioned organ.

“Rejection” stands out for the mix of melancholic delivery and a dynamic catchy rhythm that holds a nostalgic inner force. The old fashioned bluesy oriented fuzzy lead guitar will drag you in a stoner rock whirlwind while the catchy chorus will force you to spin around or at least to dance under the moonlight.

“Elements And Things” is the most psychedelic stoner rock oriented track on this album. The guitar riffs have a bold rock vibe that easily builds a lively groove further amplified by strong vocals but the true highlight is the understated full blown psychedelic lead guitar work that evokes a restless spiritual endeavor in the middle of the desert.

Overall, Blues Pills might have packed a larger dose of psychedelic energy on “Lady In Gold” nevertheless the trendy retro vibe is very much alive in each song resulting in a rather enjoyable music experience.

Wolf Hoffmann – Headbangers Symphony

Notorious Accept’s guitarist Wolf Hoffmann has always been influenced and inspired by classical music that motivated him to release a second solo record entitled “Headbangers Symphony” consisting of a collection of classical compositions interpreted in guitar driven symphonic rock fashion.

Beethoven’s “Scherzo” delivers a bold mix of luminous orchestration and wild guitar shredding with a definitely memorable majestic arrangement.

The adaptation of Mussorgsky’s “Night On Bald Mountain” has a heavier metal approach with a gothic tinged atmosphere portrayed by darker grandiose orchestration and faster rhythm filled of intricate guitar harmonies.

Vivaldi’s “Double Cello Concerto in G Minor” has an epic up-tempo orchestration and shines for a virtuoso style full blown shredding guitar solo.

Mozart’s “Symphony No. 40” shines for the major symphonic attitude full of certain dynamic orchestrations that definitely inspired several modern metal bands and the shimmering powerful guitar leads generate an immediate crave for headbanging.

Hoffmann’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky‘s celebrated ballet “Swan Lake” maintains the melancholic beautiful elegance of the original piece and adds an overload of charismatic guitar work.

Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” offers a dramatic vibe with slower passionately sorrowful guitar melodies gently accompanied by a regal subtle orchestration.

Wolf Hoffmann‘s “Headbangers Symphony” features a brilliant selection of immortal classical pieces that will sound rather familiar to many and is an exquisite album filled of genuine passion and musical prowess suitable for a wide range of listeners.

Death Angel – The Evil Divide

Back in the ‘80s Death Angel made a strong impact in the metal scene acquiring a wide audience of devoted angry teenagers and even now the band’s thrash style is still relevant and successful. With the latest release “The Evil Divide” Death Angel stays true to its own legendary thrash metal roots but manages to add some modern metal accents in the mix.

“The Moth” has an intense guitar driven sonic impact filled with exciting groovy riffs fast paced in thrash style but tinged with a blackened gloom. The powerful solid rhythmic backbone offer the perfect support for a melodic guitar solo and a catchy chorus of angry screams.

“Lost” favors the band’s melodic side smoothing the rough edges with a mellower rhythm and rather somber vocals. Mark Osegueda delivers some majestic signature screams on the chorus and the guitar solos take a larger role adding crafty harmonies.

“Father Of Lies” brings back a taste for aggressive speed with blistering guitar riffs and tight rhythm. Lead guitars continue to add delightful melodic phrases, especially in the final arpeggios, and the darkened harmonious shredding solo can be easily considered the highlight of the song.

“It Can’t Be This” kicks off with a strong bass line that gives way to a series of super tight thunderous thrash oriented guitar riffing that build a consistent groove further enhanced by Osegueda’s angry and dirty screams.

“Hatred United, United Hate” offers a relentless series of galloping crunchy guitar riffs that once again evoke Death Angel’s thrash roots and deliver a fluid melodic groove. The song’s theme appears to be quite dark rather than simply angry and the impressive savage guitar solo performed by Andreas Kisser of Sepultura is definitely a standout.

“The Evil Divide” is a cohesive vibrant thrash album that delivers some interesting stylistic ideas skillfully mixed with the beloved old school Bay Area sound and will certainly please Death Angel’s faithful fanbase.

Eths – Ankaa

Modern metal French outfit Eths is determined to explore a variety of sonic dimensions with the release of the new album entitled “Ankaa” which features new vocalist Rachel Aspe and Soilwork drummer Dirk Verbeuren.

“Nefas” begins with a creepy atmospheric mood that turns into a heavy turmoil of blasting drums and furious guitar riffs. The rather chaotic music theme showcases elements of nu metal and metalcore but there is also a gloomy melodic facet.

“Nihil Sine Causa” surprises with mesmerizing Arabic chanting and experimental electronic layers that add a multidimensional diversity to the highly aggressive metal core. The soft soothing chants effortlessly embrace the enraging growls and the resulting harmony creates a sharp yet enjoyable contrast.

“Seditio” is a triumph of pure melancholy with decadently gentle piano melodies that strangely embrace the enraged mix of growls and cleans. The melodic theme of the song has definitely a French bohemienne vibe even when heavier guitar riffing and drumming predominate.

“Sekhet Aaru” takes a break from the heavy galloping riffs to deliver a borderline ambiance track filled with darkly atmospheric arrangements and mystical chanting that invite the listeners to embrace a rather peaceful, yet sorrowful, soundscape.

“Kumari Kandam” continues to evoke the same mystical and mythological mood with mysterious atmospheric layers and an elegantly melodic theme. There is still space for some heavy guitar riffs and strong growls but the mellower side of the song is far more attractive.

“Mintaka” delivers another lovely mixture of ambiance atmospheres with an esoteric taste and scattered futuristic electro accents. There is also a powerful guitar driven groove mixed with highly melodic clean vocals with a touch of mystical chanting.

Overall, with “Ankaa” Eths manages to successfully blend multiple metal sub genres to create a more personal sonic identity that could make the band shine in the underground metal scene.

Abbath – Abbath

Since Abbath’s announcement of his departure from iconic Norwegian black metal act Immortal devoted fans have been eagerly waiting for the release of a solo album. The self titled debut album seems to deliver the gelid black metal formula that fans have been hoping for.

“To War!” is an anthem of the Nordic force that fuels many traditional black metal stylistic elements. As expected, blasting drumming and tight riffing are at the center of a cold mix but it’s not just a matter of pure blazing fury since there is also a lot of space for a groovy rhythm and a lovely melodic guitar solo.

“Winter Bane” would be easily an immediate favorite with an extremely catchy guitar riff that shimmers throughout the song well supported by a super strong bass backbone. Abbath’s raspy vocals keep the mood as blackened as possible and blend effortlessly with the icy melodic features of the song.

“Count The Dead” kicks off with a majestic mid tempo rhythm that calls for wild headbanging and features another highly enjoyable melodic guitar solo. The guitar riffs have an epic classic metal vibe skillfully mixed with faster Nordic black metal drumming blasting without exaggerated aggression.

“Eternal” evokes the darkest wrath of Norwegian black metal and delivers a breathless fast rhythm that holds an overdose of crushing energy in every riff and growl but still keeps a melodic aura.

Overall, there are no major bursts of impressive creativity as the music themes are structured in traditional black metal fashion, nevertheless Abbath will always be a charismatic frontman and his latest effort shines for its catchy yet harsh songwriting style.

Withered – Grief Relic

After six years Withered comes back with the brand new album entitled “Grief Relic” which promises to be the band’s darkest musical endeavor.

“Leathery Rind” focuses on crushing guitar riffs, furious growls and an oppressively dark rhythmic core. If the main stylistic elements evoke the chaotic anger of death metal the overall atmosphere evokes some aggressively primordial black metal roots.

“A Realm Of Suffering” maintains the same brutal essence but adds some fast blackened guitar leads and a doom oriented breakdown that deliver a certain dose of melodic decadence.

“Husk” has a moody asphyxiating atmosphere portrayed again with a concretely hectic mixture of ferocious death metal riffing and drumming and the ominous depth of old school doom metal.

“To Glimpse Godliness” holds a steady dark monolithic vibe that leads to a scorching fast black metal core while the slower sections deliver some melodic accents.

“Grief Relic” might not showcase outstanding bursts of creativity or some definite signs of an epic musical evolution nevertheless Withered manages to deliver a cohesive fierce piece of extreme metal.

My Dying Bride – A Map Of All Our Failures

My Dying Bride’s long awaited brand new studio release “A Map Of All Our Failures” might be intimidating to the average listener, but it is certainly a must-have for the band’s faithful fans. Despite the dramatic title, there is no sign of failure here, as My Dying Bride delivers another highly successful collection of stunning musical compositions. Each and every song features a particular tragic tale illustrated by a highly complex instrumental work.  The distinctive romantically decadent violin phrases, skillfully performed by Shaun MacGowan, are back as a major element in the band’s songwriting.

“Kneel Till Doomsday” is an eloquent musical drama. The guitar riffs are extremely somber and heavy in traditional doom fashion but the gloomy violin melodies render everything more unique. There are blasting instants of extreme/death metal asphyxiating rhythms, yet this track maintains an exquisitely melodic core.

“The Poorest Waltz” shines for its decadent poetical attitude enriched by a series of layered clean vocals and its main musical theme is easy to follow due to the elongated melodic guitar riffs. There is still a wide array of obscure feelings and pure melancholy mixed all over the song, but the overall musical vibe is less heavy with a slower tempo.

“A Tapestry Scorned” revolves around that wretched hopeless feeling that has been emphasized in My Dying Bride’s earlier releases. The guitar riffs are pleasantly catchy yet incredibly heavy, the violin accent is actually a fundamental piece that enriches Aaron Stainthorpe’s impeccably theatrical performance.

The title track is filled with delightful violin and guitar dual riffing that should be savored slowly. Aaron’s elegantly sorrowful interpretation belongs to the realm of poetry. After the mysterious slow and dense break down, melodic guitars take over by adding strength and dynamic to the musical tapestry.

“Hail Odysseus” has a mythological theme and mixes the ominous fury of death metal tight guitar riffing with a majestically epic arrangement. Tempo and style changes flow effortlessly throughout the song which has also a very strong rhythmic core. Aaron offers, once again, a brilliant vocal performance characterized by rare passion.

While “Within The Presence Of Absence” focuses on a painfully romantic theme harmoniously portrayed by delicious violin melodies, “Abandoned As Christ” has a deeply tragic and obscure vibe fully expressed by the breathlessly prolonged heavy guitar riffing.

There are no simple or complex words available to fully describe the type of discouraging darkness that only My Dying Bride has been able to portray, yet again, on this new release.  I highly recommend listening carefully to “A Map Of All Our Failures” as this album can be easily classified as a modern gothic/doom metal masterpiece.