Opeth – Sorceress

A new Opeth album comes inevitably with an incredible amount of high expectations, doubts and overzealous criticism. When listening to the twelfth full length release “Sorceress” the oblivious/ingenuous listener must understand that mastermind Mikael Åkerfeldt is always focused on creating music that can offer a high degree of diversity because Opeth is not like any other band and will never be.

The fragile medieval acoustic intro “Persephone” is immediately followed by the darkly title track that delivers a persistent moody melancholic theme. Among several heavier rhythmic blasts, the prog rock heart is quite dominant but the unpredictable style changes provide a unique musical depth that cannot be, and doesn’t need to, easily categorized with monotone stereotypes. An exquisitely retro vibe further enhances the groovy aspects of a song that never fails to impress.

“The Wilde Flowers” offers an outstanding musical kaleidoscope where 70’s influenced guitar riffs reach a glowing acme with a majestic shredding solo. Other highlights can be found in the super catchy chorus and the softly cathartic breakdown that focuses on ethereal harmonies.

“Will O The Wisp” leaves behind distortion or pompous special effect and delivers a highly nostalgic range of acoustic melodies spiced up by a languid jazz influenced lead guitar work. The melodic nature of this song makes it an easily accessible track but also creates a magical musical depth that should not be taken for granted.

“Chrysalis” is surrounded by an irresistible vintage vibe strengthened by a dazzling multichromatic combo of nostalgic retro organ and ravishing modern prog oriented guitar solo. The final part of the song delivers a dreamy darkened atmosphere gracefully adorned by vibrant jazzy guitar work.

“Era” begins with an atmospheric poetic classical piano melody that soon gives way to a faster blistering drum driven moody tempo in prog fashion. A strong technical, yet rather emotional, guitar solo elegantly blends additional prog rock elements in the midst of a spontaneously energetic groove.

“Sorceress” shines for the extremely meticulous loving care for every stylish detail and for its dark passionate sophisticated soul that can effortlessly guide the listeners into a musical visionary adventure that must be savored in its entirety.

Asphyx – Incoming Death

Dutch death-doom metal pioneers Asphyx return with a brand new album entitled “Incoming Death” that promises to deliver the band’s renowned brutal old fashioned heavy signature style strengthened by raw doom twists.

“Division Brandenburg” is a quite dynamic track that offers a powerful blast of monolithic doom guitar riffs layered on a mid paced rhythm filled with a thick dark atmosphere.

“Wardriod” brings an overdose of catchy furious guitar riffs composed in traditional doom fashion. While there are obvious familiar death metal elements in the song’s structure, the progressively breathless moody atmosphere has persistent doom heaviness.

“The Grand Denial” is definitely one of the most interesting tracks in terms of songwriting and style. The beloved solemn gloom of doom metal is extremely dominant in the guitar riffs and further enhanced by melodic mournful lead guitar phrases. A super slow ominous breakdown that holds a sense of impending downfall closes the song with highly melancholic acoustic harmonies.

The title track is filled with fast and crushing heavy guitar riffs that ensure an immediate sonic impact. With the support of a massive drumming, this short and straightforward tune keeps a frenetic rhythm that requires some serious headbanging.

“Forerunners Of The Apocalypse” holds a tumultuous fast rhythm well enhanced by Martin Van Drunen’s signature raspy tormented screams. There is a great focus on the relentless array of tight guitar riffs that still hold a somber doom soul.

“Subterra Incognita” is another heavy doom track that evokes pitchblack darkness with a perfect combo of majestic drumming and super heavy guitar riffs. The ravenous faster paced rhythmic sections are effortlessly balanced by grave guitar melodies and an elegantly gloomy classical piano piece.

With passion and pride “Incoming Death” reconfirms Asphyx’s iconic status in the extreme metal underground scene and delivers a cohesive work of music that will easily please the band’s fanbase.

Sabaton – The Last Stand

Swedish heavy metal act Sabaton delivers a new release entitled “The Last Stand” featuring a bombastic collection of songs crafted in proper power metal fashion with a strong historic warfare lyrical theme.
“Sparta” is definitely a powerful epic opening song with warrior style chants and loads of old fashioned symphonic arrangements. Sabaton keeps on packing crunchy easy guitar riffs to build an energetic rhythm that culminates with a super polished melodic solo.
“Blood Of Bannockburn” has a dynamic melodic nature featuring a classic power metal core with the clever addition of bagpipes and organ for an extra folk punch.
“The Lost Battalion” channels the epic legacy of power metal with battle ready spirited choirs, vigorous vocals and emotional borderline melancholic melodies embellished by symphonic style arrangements.
The title track could have had a more charismatic attitude but the mid paced tempo and the repetitive guitar riffs don’t deliver enough energy. Nevertheless the nice melodic guitar solo and the catchy chorus will entertain the listeners.
“The Last Battle” is a straightforward track that features some classic rock upbeat catchiness filled with simplistic guitar riffs and another old school melodic guitar solo.
“The Last Stand” certainly maintains a cohesive theme in terms of both style and songwriting but fails to deliver a necessary variety or a burst of experimental creativity resulting in a rather monotone collection of songs.

Metal Allegiance – Fallen Heroes

Super group Metal Allegiance has released a special EP entitled “Fallen Heroes” to pay homage to three musical legends: Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey.

Motorhead’s classic hit “Iron Fist” certainly shines for its inner enthusiasm true rocker style featuring Troy Sanders from Mastodon on the vocals and a spicy catchy solo elegantly executed by Alex Skolnick.

David Bowie’s iconic tune “Suffragette City” is another great cover choice with a powerful guitar driven rhythm and Mark Osegueda from Death Angel delivering a blistering performance with a proper metal edge.

On The Eagles’ “Life In The Fast Lane” Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy delivers a super groovy performance well supported by loud upbeat drumming courtesy of Mike Portnoy and a wonderful bombastic guitar work that naturally culminates in Skolnick’s creative bluesy solo.

“Fallen Heroes” is sweet and, unfortunately, short but most importantly is a great way to sincerely celebrate and honor the legacy of such great musicians.

Skuggsjá – A Piece For Mind & Mirror

Ivar Bjørnson from Enslaved and Wardruna’s frontman Einar Selvik collaborated under the name Skuggsjá to compose a musical piece that represents and celebrate the history of Norway. The result of this unique musical experience is collected on an album entitled “A Piece For Mind & Mirror” that draws artistic inspiration from a variety of Norwegian and Scandinavian ancient traditional instruments and poetry in Norse and Norwegian.

“Ull Kjem” portrays a cathartic musical soundscape with the primordial magic of remote harmonies. Traditional instruments, tribal style percussions and emotionally charged diverse vocals introduce a dramatic mysterious musical journey.

“Skuggsjá” is a lengthy track in which the adventurous fusion of modern and ancient music styles becomes rather palpable. Black metal raspy growls and impenetrable layers of heavy guitar riffing are seamlessly intertwined with folkish choirs to create a multifaceted music texture.

“Rop Fra Røynda – Mælt Fra Minne” is an instrumental track that features a mesmerizing ensemble of melodic guitar riffs structured in metal fashion and borderline black metal drum blasts while the folk theme is kept alive by the addition of horns.

“Kvervandi” has a transcending spiritual value where a somber yet peaceful mood is constantly enhanced by heartwarming acoustic passages and fervent choirs.

“Vitkispá” has a dreamy ethereal nature with melancholic acoustic melodies, poetic narrative passages and soulful choirs impeccably combined in an ambitiously harmonious performance.

“A Piece For Mind & Mirror” truly feels like an ancestral tale with a dominant folk style both musically and lyrically and by carefully blending musical elements from the past and the present provides an inner sense of serenity at the very first listening.

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.