Benighted – Necrobreed

French death metal grinders Benighted are ready to unleash their latest and most confident brutal effort “Necrobreed” filled with furiously punishing fast songs.

“Reptilian” packs a straightforward explosive array of anger driven guitar riffs well supported and amplified by a super tight bass & drums combo and venomous growls.

Featuring guest vocalist Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder, “Forgive Me Father” stands out for the vicious blackened guitar driven sonic assault with a breathless fast rhythm that occasionally slows down with catchy dark accents.

The title track features loads of traditional death metal elements with powerful guttural vocals and acute ravenous screams in the midst of a constant plummeting asphyxiating pace.

“Monsters Make Monsters” brings a diverse scenario with a more atmospheric approach and some style and tempo variations that convey a primordial blackened mood ultimately leading to unexpected melodic piano passages.

“Reeks Of Darkened Zoopsia” delivers another relentless crescendo of crunchy guitar riffs while the overall mood acquires a sinister aura further enhanced by savage vocals.

“Mass Grave” is filled of intense traditional death/grind guitar riffing and once again the hammering rhythmic section reaches incredible speed while, towards the end of the song, particularly blackened guitar driven variations and dramatically tormented screams take the center stage.

Yes, Benighted successfully demonstrates to fully comprehend and express the concept of extreme metal but also takes time to feature scattered interesting melodic accents and “Necrobreed” might not be the most diverse or eclectic album as it mostly stays true to a brutal galore that calls for wild headbanging and moshpit.

Disperse – Foreword

Among new emerging bands, technical metal quartet Disperse might stand out thanks to the new full length “Foreword” which features a multifaceted mixture of prog/jazzy tunes with some modern pop catchiness.

“Stay” has luminous atmospheric approach before introducing a kaleidoscopic array of complex prog influenced guitar work and syncopated rhythm that never feel overwhelming as all instruments effortlessly blend within easier melodic themes.  “Surrender” showcases enthralling technical prowess, especially in the majestic guitar work, with interesting tempo variations and impressively rich prog textures without compromising the song’s positive melodic energy.

On “Bubbles” the band combines dreamy atmospheres and a generous dose of odd-time signatures while shifting from peaceful harmonies to heavier guitar driven rhythms.

“Tomorrow” delivers remarkable prog oriented guitar work with a stronger crunchy approach that reaches a serious acme with faster precise riffing towards the end of the song.

“Sleeping Ivy” features surreal electro infused atmospheric layers embellished by intricate melodic guitar passages and soft vocals that always evoke a brighter mood.

“Gabriel” stands out for the intriguing jazz oriented guitar work that tends to hold the spotlight surrounded by delicate dreamlike atmospheres.

Overall, Disperse demonstrates a fascinating creative force that deserves legit appreciation and “Foreword” is a confident work of music characterized by compelling attention for stylish details.

Hark – Machinations

British sludge rock band Hark is ready to unleash the sophomore album entitled “Machinations” which promises to deliver a heavily intricate collection of songs.

“Fortune Favours The Insane” immediately showcases great potential channeling a moody desert rock with familiar stoner influences  in the midst of a more aggressive confident guitar riffing.

“Disintegrate” tries to build a powerful groove with prominent heavy guitar riffs but also delivers some melodic themes with slower stoner oriented vibes enhanced by entertaining guitar leads.

“Speak In Tongues” is all about a monolithic guitar driven groove with loads of gritty riffs and a mid paced solid rhythmic section but there is also space for a quite interesting series of guitar leads that carry more melodic elements.

“Comnixant 30” is an instrumental track that stands out for the compelling progressive style variations with luminous melodic guitar work and a rather atmospheric mood that leaves behind the previous heavier rhythms.

The most epic and lengthy track “The Purge” showcases a more experimental approach to spice up the strong sludge rock core focusing on an energetic multifaceted guitar work that will certainly grab the listeners’ attention.

While “Machinations” shines for some remarkable intriguing ideas filled with a generous dose of heavy sludge fueled grooves it would also greatly benefit from a less muddy sound and more diverse song structure.

Hyborian – Volume I

Sludge stoner rockers Hyborian has released a massive guitar driven album entitled “Volume I” which is meant to deliver high impact tracks with solid heavy riffage and intriguing interstellar/fantasy oriented lyrics.

“As Above, So Below” starts as a proper spacey ride that creates a bit of suspense before introducing a series of guitar riffs as crunchy as possible.

“Blood For Blood” runs on harsh guitar riffs that relentlessly build a catchy heavy groove with wild palpable sludge/stoner elements but also occasional smoother melodic accents while mysterious spacey sounds and voice bring an enigmatic closure to the track.

“Ajna” features progressive influenced melodic guitar work but Hyborian also incorporates another solid round of heavily tick guitar riffing to create a massive groove with a savage rhythmic section.

On “Dross” a thunderous rhythm clearly calls for stomping and headbanging while lead guitars deliver crispy melodies culminating in a catchy solo followed by an outer space outro.

On “Volume I” Hyborian tends to ‘space out’ but never forget to maintain monolithic heavy grooves that will trigger the listeners’ interest and curiosity for what the band might deliver in the future.


Hello Black Hole – In No Good Hand

Helsinki based post punk/rock band Hello Black Hole featuring Johan “Goatspeed” Snell, known as the creative force behind the cult band Beastmilk, is ready to release a 4 track EP entitled “In No Good Hand” generously packed with loads of catchy melodies.

“Tight Rope Tightens” shows some rough punk roots with a mid paced indie rock style rhythm that naturally surrounds a super catchy series of polychromatic melodies.

“Five Hundred Rocks To Throw” has a raw garage rock approach with scratchy guitar driven rhythms and slightly rebellious vocals but is also full of luminous melodies that culminates with a smooth crispy guitar solo.

“Crude Awakening” starts with charismatic bass lines followed by an overload of catchy dirty guitar riffs that nicely build a healthy rocking groove. While the post punk attitude lingers throughout the song, the melodic core conveys a rather somber mood.

“In No Good Hand” might be short but Hello Black Hole certainly delivers an entertaining groovy work of music with lovely dark accents suitable for a wide audience.

Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars

After a short hiatus Kataklysm’s side project Ex Deo comes back with the third full length “The Immortal Wars” on which charismatic vocalist Maurizio Iacono proudly narrates the endeavors of the great military commander Hannibal during the Punic wars.

“The Rise Of Hannibal” features dominant magnificent symphonic arrangements that convey a theatrical atmosphere while guitars and thick bass lines deliver obscurely nuanced melodies in a well constructed mid paced rhythm with subtle death metal echoes.

On “Crossing Of The Alps” the melo-death inspired guitar work acquires a more powerful role amplified by a crispy energetic rhythmic section and embellished by a captivating polished melodic guitar solo while Maurizio delivers viciously fierce growls.

“Cato Major: Carthago Delenda Est!” relies on a heavier primordial rhythmic backbone as drums and guitars acquire a more aggressive impetus surrounded by cinematic sinister symphonic orchestrations and warrior style choirs.

“The Roman” starts with solemn symphonic orchestrations conveying a tragic mood that gradually gives way to a relentless guitar driven ferocious sonic attack and enthralling shredding but the song reaches its epic acme with Maurizio’s inspiring Italian words filled with heartfelt devotion to the historic unrivaled grandeur of Roma.

With triumphant orchestrations and dramatic atmospheres “The Immortal Wars” celebrates history and glory and Ex Deo mark their return to the music scene with the expected majestic style. Ave Roma!

Kairon; IRSE! – Ruination

Finnish eclectic band Kairon; IRSE!  has released an ambitiously visionary musical voyage entitled “Ruination” which fearlessly blends familiar prog rock elements with shoegazing and much more.

“Sinister Waters I” has an ethereal yet ambiguous musical approach as it is filled with dreamy guitar melodies that smoothly turn into more sophisticated prog oriented sonic jams with highly intricate guitar work suitable for an immediate introvert mind trip that promises loads of surprises and uncertainty.

“Sinister Waters II” continues such experimental music trip with hypnotic atmospheres, full blown fuzzy stoner attitude with wild dissonant accents and unexpected intense tempo/style variations. The song also features a lovely retro sound and gracefully soothing vocals that always enhance the balanced melodic combos of mysterious guitar & spacey psychedelic synths.

The title track shifts between the softest atmosphere and elegant moody guitars with a strong retro psychedelic vibe while a particular highlight can be found in the blissfully darkened instrumental piece that brings a bittersweet closure.

For its inner enigmatic nature and moody variety “Ruination” might not sound like the most radio friendly album of the year but Kairon; IRSE! certainly proves to be an avant-garde creative band that a selected audience will learn to sincerely appreciate.

John 5 And The Creatures – Season Of The Witch

Renowned guitarist John 5 and his backing band The Creatures return with a flamboyant album entitled “Season Of The Witch” which offers intense virtuosic jams with creative twists that combine multiple music genres.

“Black Grass Plague” starts with some serious guitar riffing that generates a catchy rhythm enhanced by loads of elegant technical shredding while towards the end of the song John 5 adds a cute bluegrass style banjo solo.

“Guitars, Tits And Monsters” features fierce rock/metal riffing while the irresistible full blown virtuoso style guitar work effortlessly gives way to a fancy jazzy fusion momentum.

“Making Monsters” has an intense metal rhythm that would sound super groovy at a live show. As expected, the rhythm is continuously embellished by experimental guitar elements and smooth inflamed shredding that simply cannot be ignored.

“Here’s To The Crazy Ones” combines blistering tapping and shredding with charismatic jazz fusion incursions and overall maintains a memorable catchy melody.

“The Macabre” is moody and quite somber focusing on more relaxed sinuous melodies and absolutely impressive tapping.

The title track could have not been groovier with a vibrant heavier metal core emphasized by creepy industrial accents and enriched by smoothly intricate guitar work.

“Season Of The Witch” is a rather entertaining instrumental effort with a macabre touch and John 5 is not only demonstrating his eclectic musicianship as he is also sharing with the listeners his genuine passion for diverse music styles.

Nidingr – The High Heat Licks Against Heaven

Black metal lovers are certainly familiar with Norwegian band Nidingr founded by infamous Mayhem’s guitar player/songwriter Teloch. Nidingr makes a triumphant return with the new album “The High Heat Licks Against Heaven” which, as expected, focuses on dominant extreme black metal elements but also offers scattered avant-garde moments.

“Hangaguð” starts with thunderous drumming and furious tight guitar riffing to ensure maximum impact at the very first listening. Besides the wicked approach, melodic guitars come alive to smooth the raw asphyxiating mood and concoct a cold catchy groove.

“The Ballad of Hamther” showcases a particularly ominous vibe with ferocious growls that hold a steady spotlight, nevertheless there is still space for enthralling modern tempo variations and theatrical narratives.

“On Dead Body Shore” features a simply crushing rhythmic section surrounded by an icy cold aura that channels a desolate soundscape while dramatic vocals linger over complex guitar melodies.

“Ash Yggdrasil” features a painfully slow tempo with sinister clean vocals performed by Garm of Ulver while desolation continues to reign supreme as guitars acquire doom and gothic nuances.

A similar enigmatic tormented atmospheric approach can be found on “Heimdalargaldr” which delivers also a more intense primordial blackened sound with heavier guitar riffs.

“Naglfar Is Loosed” stands out as a particularly doom influenced track that leaves behind the extreme fury and instead relies on a heavy and slow tempo enhanced by exquisitely gloomy melodies. An intoxicating gothic melancholy is further intensified by ethereal vocals performed by Amalie Bruun of Myrkur.

Despite the explosive brutality “The High Heat Licks Against Heaven” is not an album meant exclusively for a black metal audience as it contains variegated artsy melodies and ambitious musical depths that can be widely appreciated.

Haken – Visions

A Re-release of the second album from the Prog Metal band Haken. Easily one of the leading bands in the prog world at this time, for good reason.

“Premonition” Opens the album as almost an overture kind of keeping it simple, heavy, and orchestral, while hinting at major themes that will end up reoccurring throughout the album.  It sets the tone for the album and leads right into the next track almost seamlessly.

“Nocturnal Conspiracy” Starting off slow and eerie, this song builds up little by little following a somewhat predictable song sequence, with minor variations on the same parts to get you hooked and paying attention, but then bursts into a heavy orchestral break with lots of rhythmic chunk and drone on top. Following this you get lots of interesting prog parts with solos thrown into the mix as well. It resolves into familiar territory. settles down and becomes completely symphonic, and gradually builds up to a new vocal sections which could almost be a separate song. The track picks back up with heavy chugging, soaring vocals, and heavy orchestration. Overall the track is extremely dynamic with a great blend of melody and technical prowess, giving you an idea of the trend that will follow throughout the entire album.

“Insomnia” Very syncopated, yet catchy. Utilizing the idea of building on a harmonic and rhythmic theme little by little, this track in my opinion is one of the standout moments of the album. There is a very quirky break in the middle of the song that almost hints at super Mario bros, while continuing into a guitar/keyboard solo tradeoff with a bit of a neo classical feel leading back into the main theme to wrap things up.

“The Mind’s Eye” Pretty standard song structure here. Very nice melodies happening here, and lots of space for the vocalist to shine. There are a lot of subtle layers overlapping that keep the song from being just “simple” and add a lot of great overall texture.

“Portals” Starting with a cool synth melody that continues for some time, this track allows the band play around with some cool dissonant and melodic sections, with a lot of tension and release. Almost the opposite of the previous track. Some pretty ripping keyboard solos here, followed by really noodley guitar solo’s that still manage to maintain a good sense of melody pulling you directly into the next track.

“Shapeshifter” Somewhat reminiscent of Nocturnal Conspiracy from a structural standpoint, This track utilizes reoccurring themes and parts, that continue to have different variations on them. Always maintaining the feeling of a flowing song while utilizing heavy chunking. A very melodic solo comes in followed by a very haunting bridge where the vocals almost put you into a trance, followed by chunk, more soloing, a chorus, and the some big orchestrations with a beefy droning rhythm behind it, and drifts off into a dream like part that sets the tone for the next track.

“Deathless” A very light track. Very dynamic and emotional. The vocalist really shines on this track. Halfway through the song goes into a proggy break with tons of great overlapping textures and layers that truly manage to create a relaxing feel while being intricate at the same time. Another standout moment of the album, that showcases the versatility of this band.

“Visions” Well, let’s put it this way… This closing track is 22 mins. Everything that you’ve heard on the album, leads up to this moment. A true epic composition here. This track ties tons of themes together from the whole album. All the dynamics are here. Great song writing, mixed with Technicality. You’ll hear tons of prog sections. I won’t give it all away, but let’s just say every trick in the book gets thrown at you in this track. A very good way to finish the album, and pulls everything together.