Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts

After over two decades of successful career, a band like Katatonia needs no simplistic introduction and the long awaited tenth album decadently entitled “The Fall Of Hearts” confirms the band’s legitimate highly influential status in the metal scene. The album proudly represents Katatonia’s everlasting dark soul, always channeling the impeccable Scandinavian melancholy, and embraces a multifaceted mixture of enthralling music styles.

“Takeover” is not your usual all powerful radio friendly opening track as it rather focuses on a cold melodic core of soft arpeggios and soothing piano stripped of unessential special effects. A natural harmony emanates a longing for lost dreams and the eclectic guitar work successfully delivers a tasteful array of subtly majestic melodies that reach a spontaneous climax with a lovely solo.

“Serein” follows a somber minimalist approach with melodic guitars shining throughout the song in a healthy mid paced crescendo. The ambient atmospheric layers provide a sinuously graceful interlude that inspires a heartwarming serenity.

“Old Heart Falls” unveils the beloved melancholy that has become a trademark of Katatonia’s music catalogue. Highly melodic guitars and dreamy keyboards layers create a series of understated elegant phrases lingering in the midst of a delicately poignant atmosphere and culminating in a rather passionately catchy chorus.

“Sanction” introduces a heavier metallic approach that smoothly gives way to a more dramatically charged melody. The decadently distorted guitar riffs evoke a bleak sonic landscape in perfect Scandinavian fashion and the slower sections portray an ominous sense of desolated decay that leaves us quite disoriented.

“Serac” is an instant favorite that holds a solemnly mesmerizing inner strength that must be fully embraced. Featuring a darkly metaphysical essence inspiringly and fully incarnated by Jonas Renkse’s soulful vocals, this track is filled with dazzling prog style guitar work that packs polished catchy riffs and decadently melodious solos. While the uptempo rhythm is highly addictive, the melancholic atmospheric breakdown mixes languid guitar phrases and piano melodies that evoke an everlasting melancholy.

“Shifts” features a slower tempo filled with gloomy sentimental piano melodies intricately surrounded by sober atmospheric layers that channel a sorrowful inner peace while Renkse’s vocals gracefully enhance the intensely tormented melodic nature of this track.

“Passer” will be easily remembered for the fascinating shimmering guitar work that delivers eloquent dynamic style diversity embracing a breathless rhythm further adorned by kaleidoscopic keyboards layers as Rekse’s vocal performance adds an overdose of disarming sentiments.

Once again, with “The Fall Of Hearts” Katatonia delivers a mature piece of music filled with minimalist effortless beauty and moody emotional depth that will easily reach the heart of every listener.

Borderlands – Voice Of The Voiceless

Portuguese progressive metalcore band Borderlands tries to achieve wide recognition in the overcrowded metal scene with a fairly solid debut full length entitled “Voice Of The Voiceless”.

“Children Of The Storm” offers just a taste of melodic prog phrases as it mainly focuses on the furious speed of Borderlands’ metalcore influence with a dynamic range of fast technical guitar riffs and enraged screams.

“Essencia” shines for the atmospheric mood that balances the heavier metalcore rhythmic section and gives way to fascinating technical guitar riffing and syncopated tempo changes.

The titletrack delivers another generous dose of blasting drumming and thick rhythm smoothly embellished by polished guitar harmonies that add a tasteful melodic soundscape.

“Children Of The Sun” still showcases the main heavier aspects of the album but adds a particular sonic richness with rather dreamy atmospheric instrumental moments that spontaneously channel familiar soothing melodies.

In terms of songwriting Borderlands seems to deliver better ideas with the melodic prog oriented themes rather than with the straight forward metalcore rampage and as a whole “Voice Of The Voiceless” manages to work as a cohesive debut effort.

Surgical Meth Machine – Surgical Meth Machine

Renowned industrial icon Al Jourgensen goes on a solo rampage with the debut self titled album “Surgical Meth Machine”. With Ministry on hold or hiatus, it is immediately noticeable that Jourgensen has decided to throw on the plate multiple ideas mixing industrial roots and some speed metal to produce this reckless over the top Surgical Meth Machine project.

“I’m Sensitive” is a hallucinogenic concoction of rage and complaints in a mix of as fast as possible drum machine and screams with a garage style production.

“Tragic Alert” again is all about chaotic speed with a deranged electronic crude sound and the obvious reminder that we live in a scary world.

“I Want More” is all angry and furious like a rebellious punk teenage dream and the only concrete melody comes from a little crunchy guitar solo.

“Unlistenable” has a wild punk spirit drowning in a breathless hectic cauldron of fast random guitar riffs and even more random emotionless electronic beats.

Devo’s “Gates Of Steel” cover catches a breath putting aside the crave for speed and surprises the listeners with the introduction of an actual melody in rough punk style with less confused yelling and less loud disorder.

“I’m Invisible” leaves behind the furious noisy industrial and features a slower, mellower and repetitive melodic theme with clean vocals and a scratchy vintage sound.

In the end, “Surgical Meth Machine” likes to keep it short and raw and might have some bursts of creativity that could trigger the interest of industrial devoted crowd but the rather chaotic style without any apparent sense of cohesion doesn’t sound as catchy as expected.

Textures – Phenotype

Dutch band Textures delivers a brand new album entitled “Phenotype” that offers a powerful blend of technical progressive metal with modern metalcore accents consistent with the band’s steady musical pathway.

“Oceans Collide” presents an aggressively heavy approach with a reckless rhythm and raging screams that keep on building a relentless energetic groove but also the song structure leaves some space for clean linear choruses.

“New Horizons” puts aside any exaggerated need for speed and fury to give space to a lovely melodic core smoothly adorned by atmospheric layers and emotionally charged clean vocals. The obvious highlights feature some stunningly executed guitar work with the beloved clarity of prog style that always provide the right dose of soothing harmony.

“Illuminate The Trail” has a highly melodic nature where luminous guitar leads successfully create an uplifting vibe further expressed by clean vocals. While the guitar work shows a clear progressive influence borderline virtuoso multiple layers of atmospheric synths add an ethereal feeling.

“The Fourth Prime” opens with moody ambiance right before the entrance of a brisk rampage of tight guitar riffing and raspy screams. The almost dissonant tempo changes favor a seamless shift between a heavier metalcore drum centered rhythm and friendly darkened melodic breakdowns featuring an enthralling mix of guitar solo and arpeggios.

Overall, “Phenotype” might not sound like a perfect masterpiece but it certainly showcases an appealing musical variety enhanced by genuinely mature musicianship proving that Textures has the potential to gain a wider audience.

Max Navarro- Somewhere South Of Heaven

The Italo-Canadian Max Navarro has released his 4th album “Somewhere South Of Heaven” last March via AW Recordings.
This is the first work after the changes in the line up and with the new label, produced by Nick Mayer and Max Navarro it’s recorded and mixed by Nico Odorico at Angel’s Wings Studios.
The album has a typical american rock sound with a lot of catchy melodies, the voice is particular, a bit hoarse and fits perfectly with the sounds of guitars.
The first single released is “Nine Flares”; a scream introduces a catchy sound, the guitar solo is really good and the refrain stays on head. The Italo-Canadian rocker said about it:”We were undecided between “Nine Flares” and “Sick Sentimental Plans” as opening single, it was a tough choice. At the end we opted for the first, but not to throw good moral messages. Now all teach to live, I’m not going to put me in line to be another who wants to do the usual priest that preaches against the use of drugs. The only interest is in telling the true story of a boy, one of many who don’t have it done. ”
“Sick Sentimental Plans” is the second single and from it has been released also a video-clip.
With only 1:35 of duration “Saturday Night” is an easy listening song in which the guitar becomes virtuous.
Ready for bang your head at the rhythm of “Stay”? With ridden rhythm and catchy melody this track takes your soul into the rock.
A ballad ends the album, “Bad Day” gets inside you to the bones and the passional guitar solo makes it a perfect song.
If I have to image me driving a car during the summer, “Somewhere South Of heaven” is the perfect soundtrack, with its harmonies, rhythms and clear sounds nothing could be better.

Stam1na- Elokuutio

Stam1na is one of the most successful band in Finland, in 20 years of carrer they have achieved almost everything a rock band can achieve in this country. Each of their seven albums have sold gold and the band has played hundreds of mostly sold out shows all over the country.
Their last album named “Elokuutio” has been released on March 18th via Sakara Records, the frontman Antti “Hyrde” Hyyrynen describes the album’s theme as the “digital hell of the unreligious”, It was produced by Janne Joutsenniemi and mixed by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Soilwork, , Moonspell, Kreator, Devin Townsend, Dark Tranquillity, Paradise Lost, Amon Amarth, Symphony X and Sepultura).
Elokuutio stands for eloquence but can also be translated as living cube.
The track that opens the album is “Ikoneklasmia”, which means ‘iconoclasm’, its sound is pretty progressive and the whole song is particular.
A perfect mix between the first and present Stam1na’s style is the song from which the album is named “Elokuutio”, very good studied and elaborate.
“Pienet vihreät miehet” is a typical Stam1na’s song, the sound is an explosion of pure energy, the guitar solo is wonderful.
The first single released is “Kuudet raamit”,which means ‘Six Frames’,from which it was produced a 360 music video directed by Tuomas Petsalo. A speed track with rhythmic changes used impeccably, the refain is pretty chatcy but still badass.
The last song of the album is “Valhe” which begins with an instrumental “triumphant” intro ,the voice is more clean and soft, the instruments are used more virtuously and the keyboards are superbe.
Stam1na did a great work with this album, the band is going on its way in the change experimenting sonority and techniques and album by album their music becomes more solid.
“Elokuutio” is an excellent product, if you still don’t know Stam1na, it’s the time to check out their music starting from this album.

Scorpion Child – Acid Roulette

Scorpion Child’s brand new album “Acid Roulette” is a nostalgic invitation to join a wild trippy journey on which your only spiritual guide might be a dusty electric guitar. The psychedelic attitude and the acidic analog groove embedded in each song will inevitably attract numerous listeners who long for dreamy good vibes and old fashioned stoner rock.

“She Sings, I Kill” has an inspiring vintage sound with a genuine classic rock themed galloping guitar riffs and a pleasantly danceable rhythm. On vocals Aryn Jonathan Black channels some fancy rock icons such as Robert Plant but manages to add a personal soulful glamour.

“My Woman In Black” packs an overdose of groovy guitar riffs that feel like a sparkly rollercoaster in the middle of the desert and you just cannot sit still. The dirty hard rock core is filled with bluesy energy and healthy mid paced rhythm while the scratchy chorus is absolutely addictive.

The title track channels a trippy psychedelic mood as everything slows down with languid guitar phrases creating a melancholic feeling of lost hopes and emotional decadence. Yet, the true highlight is the outstanding full blown 70’s style organ momentum in perfect psychedelic fashion that makes you want to dance inside a hazy dream until dawn.

“Twilight Coven” features another highly addictive chorus but let’s not forget the incendiary guitar driven stoner rock fast paced rhythm that would drive wild any crowd at a show. The breakdown channels a lucid dream vibe while smoothly adding a proper dose of crispy bluesy mood to the increasingly catchy stoner rock mix.

“Survives” is a borderline romantic ballad with a daydreaming melody but its gritty guitar riffing still holds the acidic stoner rock attitude. On this song Aryn Jonathan Black rightfully takes the center stage to proudly show his prowess and to deliver a passionately astounding vocal performance.

“Moon Tension” is another exciting track that would sound quite loud and powerful live as it features a rampage of super catchy classic rock riffs with tasteful vintage accents in the midst of a energetic unrestrained rhythm.

“Acid Roulette” has what it takes to satisfy the perennial crave for sonic hallucinations that make you feel good even in daylight and shows that Scorpion Child has potential to become a major act in the stoner rock scene.

Sylvaine – Wistful

With the release of her sophomore album “Wistful” Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Sylvaine invites the listeners to join a fragile dreamy musical journey filled with darkened emotions and shattered hopes in ethereal shoegaze fashion. The strong influence of critically acclaimed French band Alcest is rather palpable at the very first listening, therefore it’s not surprising to see mastermind Neige’s participation as drummer on this album.

On “Delusions” Sylvaine takes the delicate role of an angelic storyteller in the midst of intensely ethereal atmospheres. The guitar riffs visibly recall the dismal strength of Scandinavian metal while the main melodic theme, filled with floating eerie ambient elements, evokes a sonic dreamland vaguely kissed by scattered sunlight shining through clouds.

“A Ghost Trapped In Limbo” embodies a familiar feeling of icy desolation with softly somber guitar riffs illuminated by Sylvaine’s crystal ethereal vocals. The typical post-rock/shoegaze tone is tinged by a gothic nurtured melancholy further enhanced by a cycle of dreamy arpeggios.

“Like A Moth To A Flame” is another highly emotional track with loads of ambient layers, catchy guitar riffs and surreal lullaby style chanting that instill the lovely feeling of a spiritual rendezvous in the middle of an enchanted forest.

The title track shines for its quietly inspiring introspective value veiled by a perennial sadness incarnated by clean minimalist guitar phrases that gently shimmer through atmospheric moodiness. Sylvaine’s vocals act as a guiding light for all the lost ones looking for fresh hopefulness while the haunting melody is graciously embellished by the elegantly classical violin and cello ensemble.

In the end, Neige’s personal music style has a deeply undeniable influence all over “Wistful” nevertheless Sylvaine has created a rather lovely soundtrack for a daily peaceful daydreaming.

Sinistro – Semente

With the release of “Semente” Portuguese band Sinistro tries to leave a mark in the chaotic and crowded music scene by delivering a collection of darkened songs that elegantly embrace multiple music styles such as doom and shoegaze.

The opening track “Partida” portrays some fundamental elements of Sinistro’s music vision. It is immediately noticeable that Patricia Andrade’s obscurely seductive voice and alluring lamentations are the star of the show. While the main guitar riffs display the somber heaviness of traditional doom the keyboard arrangements offer atmospheric layers that often recall trip hop style and maintain an everlasting feeling of painful melancholy.

“Corpo Presente” has the vibe of a smoky tiny room with an ominous moody thick fabric filled with eclectic almost dissonant jazzy style keyboards surrounded by melodic gloomy guitars. Andrade’s vocals always add a dreamy sorrowfulness that never loses its inner sensual intensity.

The title track has a gloomy slower tempo that allows Andrade’s lustful voice to hypnotize and lure the audience into a highly atmospheric electronic maze crafted in Portishead style.

“Reliquia” evokes a shoegaze style dreamland where calm soothing melodies build an ethereal feeling of longing. Through the emotionally cinematic ensemble of bleak crunchy guitars, luminous arpeggios in crescendo and harmonious keyboard layers, Andrade’s graceful vocals hold a wistful power that effortlessly dominates the entire song.

Sinistro is showing a great potential to conquer a unique niche in the current scene and the understated sensually savage beauty of “Semente”, a loveable soundtrack for lonely rainy nights, will certainly attract a wide audience.

Grand Magus – Sword Songs

Swedish act Grand Magus comes back with a full blown Viking metal album entitled “Sword Songs” that definitely stays true to such title. If you’re in love with triumphant traditional epic metal full of powerful riffs and folk/pagan themes you will certainly be entertained by “Sword Songs”.

“Freja’s Choice” is on the heavier side with a delectable array of groovy guitar riffs surrounding a quite melodic core. The vocals hold a steady power metal vibe, especially on the super catchy chorus, and the majestically harmonious guitar solo is meant to steal the scene.

“Forged In Iron – Crowned In Steel” starts with a soft arpeggio that introduces a rampage of crunchy guitar riffs and faster drumming. While the breakdown displays some somber doom accent the whole song celebrates Viking metal, swords and steel in typical power metal fashion.

“Born For Battle (Black Dog Of Brocéliande)” is definitely a heavy metal warrior anthem filled with crispy dirty guitar riffing and raspy vocals but the melodic core is still quite dominant in the classic lead guitar work and monumental catchy chorus that recalls Manowar’s style.

“Every Day There’s A Battle To Fight” is another true warrior’s anthem, this time with a touch of melancholy, and is all about that classic metal charisma and inner strength naturally instilled by a collection of genuine guitar riffs. This song features a solid mid paced rhythm and victorious melodies that culminate in a proud memorable chorus.

In the end, “Sword Songs” might suffer from certain repetitive cliché that result in a lack of clever creativity but it remains an enjoyable collection of songs suitable for the average metal audience.