Dark Tranquillity – Construct

A new Dark Tranquillity’s release always comes with a great deal of excitement. In the case of “Construct”, all expectations and wishes are definitely fulfilled as this album is a perfectly balanced masterpiece. “Construct” can easily satisfy any type of audience as it includes loads of melancholic melodies skillfully blended with the aggressive attitude of the renowned Gothenburg style metal. Dark Tranquillity confirms its pioneer status and also reinvents its own music style rather than simply recycling it as many other bands do.

“For Broken Words” will easily become a favorite with its addictive mix of disillusion and resentment. The guitars’ sound couldn’t be more perfect with such an icy delivery and dynamic strength. I’m particularly fond of the slow gloomy breakdown in which the guitar’s melody gracefully glides over the keyboards’ passages.

“The Science Of Noise” is an high impact guitar driven track with a very memorable chorus. The faster and angrier rhythm full of tight guitar riffing is very dominant but there is still space for a good dose of charming dark melodies. In this deceitful chaotic rhythm, the lead guitar work shines for the highly creative details.

“Uniformity” is probably the saddest song of the album. The guitar and keyboards melodies are beautifully written in a deeply dramatic fashion.  It’s so easy to fall in love Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals full of passionate demise and decadent romanticism to the point that simply defining his performance impeccable would not be fair.

“The Silence In Between” still holds that breathtaking dismal depth in the elegant melodic breakdown. Yet, the rhythm is faster and more aggressive with tempestuous drums and a rampant series of crispy metallic guitar riffs.

“Apathetic” delivers a blast of pure energy through traditional heavy guitar riffs without the need of an extremely aggressive music core. Among the fierce growls and swift drumming, there is a lingering dark mood deliciously enhanced by vivid arpeggios.

“What Only You Know” has an irresistible melodic core built with a super clean guitar sound and highly atmospheric keyboards.  The catchy, almost blissful, opening guitar riff might mislead the listeners. In reality, this is another intensely melancholic song as clearly showcased by the slower graceful tempo and the sorrowful clean vocals.

“State Of Trust” is another friendly tune that revolves around the loveable fusion between the primordial wrath of metal and the grace of melodic arpeggios. This charismatic ensemble is further enriched by poetic ambiance keyboards arrangements and Stanne’s delightful clean vocals.

“None Becoming” has a distinctive hypnotizing gothic tinge. The atmospheric and ethereal keyboards layers successfully generate a realm of asphyxiating sense of defeat while the guitars deliberately bring illuminating harmonies.

“Construct” tends to favor Dark Tranquillity’s darkest melodic feature but it also offers a wide musical variety. The palpable passion behind the creation of each and every song is one of the many reasons why you must listen to this album.

 

 

Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

Legendary Norwegian duo Darkthrone is back with a new full length entitled “Arctic Thunder”. A delightful taste for the most primitive blackened heavy metal that you can wish for is omnipresent in every song and the whole album never fails to deliver the infamous Darkthrone’s raw signature music style.

“Tundra Leech” is a winner and a keeper with its inner darkened audacity embodied by Nocturno Culto sincere raspy vocals. Everything is doomed and all hope is lost as the breathless guitar riffs build a solid solemn groove that becomes addictive at the very first listening and might make you dizzy eventually.

“Boreal Fiends” shines for its mysterious doomish aura with super catchy guitar riffs that grow into an impenetrable obscurity where a melodic languid guitar solo provides a distorted cold light.

The title track features another generous dose of groovy guitar riffs layered on simple solid drumming in introvert old school fashion with an undeniable stomping attitude that gives way to a quite short icy cold guitar solo.

With a rather simplistic music structure “Throw Me Through The Marshes” delivers a creepy vibe with a darkened sound embedded in the tight guitar riffing and a faster rhythm in traditional black metal fashion.

“Deep Lake Trespass” revolves around a persistent series of blackened guitar riffs that, once again, successfully create the right gloomy groove that requires an immediate round of headbanging.

On a dark winter day, trapped in a world on the verge of apocalypse, leave your fears and doubts behind and let Fenriz and Nocturno Culto guide you to the safe primordial realm of “Arctic Thunder”.

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate

Insomnium’s new album “Winter’s Gate” is definitely an impressive ambitious project that features one epic 40-minute song composed around an award-winning short story written by the band’s vocalist & bassist Niilo Sevänen. In terms of songwriting the band’s signature melodic death metal definitely has a dominant presence and has grown to reach a high level of maturity. The album also showcases a great inspiring musical variety pleasantly enhanced by highly atmospheric nuances that successfully offer the ideal soundscape for an enchanting Scandinavian fable. The icy cold melodies featuring vibrant guitar solos, lovely whimsical acoustic moments, fascinating classical piano pieces and elegantly majestic keyboards arrangements created by Aleksi Munter of Swallow The Sun never fail to deliver a dreamy melancholy that could easily conquer the listener’s heart. In true Nordic fashion Niilo Sevänen always delivers the right amount of enraging growls, often with a touch of traditional black metal style, to fit the heavier and faster primordial rhythmic sections or the doomish slow paced melodic gloom. There are no clear musical boundaries or abrupt style changes as all the instruments work together to achieve a kaleidoscopic musical palette.

“Winter’s Gate” would be best savored and appreciated as a whole piece of music if the listeners find the opportunity or the time to immerse into its darkened magical depth without hesitations.

Truckfighters – V

Swedish fuzz rockers Truckfighters release their fifth album “V” just in time to celebrate the band’s 15th anniversary. With a dominant mature stoner rock style, “V” feels like a relaxed trip through a friendly desert kicking in the fuzz pedal without any hesitation.

“Calm Before The Storm” delivers flashy psychedelic vibes in a dusty rock atmosphere and quite laid back rhythm. Slow paced guitar melodies embody a melancholic tranquility abruptly interrupted by faster fuzzy grooves.

“Hawkshaw” starts right away with a heavily bass driven groove that fades naturally into a slower calm, almost dreamy, melodic core. There is a bittersweet contrast between the smooth vocals and the crescendo of full blown fuzzy guitar riffs.

“The 1” focuses on a bold heavier rhythm with occasional psychedelic accents. Prominent bass lines and relentless energetic guitar riffs keep a steady thick groove emphasized by a super dizzy guitar solo.

“Fiend” has a dynamic desert rock rhythm with a catchy chorus and crispy guitar riffs that build up nicely to deliver a healthy stoner rock jam session.

“V” might not be a stoner rock masterpiece but it will please all the fuzz lovers around and certainly brings some promising bright ideas that one day could evolve into something shiny and beautiful.

Heaven Shall Burn – Wanderer

Longstanding German extreme metal act Heaven Shall Burn returns with a brand new album entitled “Wanderer” that delivers an enjoyable mature mix of ravenous heavy guitar driven tunes and friendly melodic passages.

“The Loss Of Fury” has what it takes to be a strong majestic album opener. In the midst of an atmospheric synth background Heaven Shall Burn unleash a strategic dose of heavy guitar riffing that never feels overwhelming as it introduces the vicious rhythmic blasts of “Bring The War Home”. This track revolves around an energetic unrestrained guitar driven groove that delivers the band’s signature extreme style and will certainly please any stubborn headbanger.

“Passage Of The Crane” has a charming melodic nature with polished guitar leads but there is also space for heavier riffing and ominous screams. The softer breakdown features an atmospheric theme enhanced by graceful female vocals.

“Downshifter” has a classic heavy approach with dynamic guitar riffs and rather powerful drum blasts that build a harsh groove while somber melodic guitar leads smooth the rough core and brighten up the general darkened mood.

“Prey To God” is a straight forward track full of ominous screams and insane growls featuring guest vocalist George “Corpsegrinder“Fisher of Cannibal Corpse while packing a relentless dose of brutal thrash influenced guitar riff and aggressive drumming.

Heaven Shall Burn surprises with the enticing cover of one of My Dying Bride’s most beloved masterpiece “The Cry Of Mankind”. The band maintains the exquisite dark beauty of the original version and Marcus Bischoff’s enraging growls perfectly complement the melodic vocals elegantly performed by Aðalbjörn Tryggvason of Sólstafir.

With a powerful array of tight guitar riffing “Wanderer” keeps alive Heaven Shall Burn’s main musical core but also offers scattered shimmery style surprises that make the whole album more entertaining than expected.

Pelander – Time

Witchcraft’s fans are certainly familiar with multi instrumentalist and lyricist extraordinaire Magnus Pelander, therefore the release of his solo debut album “Time” will trigger great curiosity.

“Umbrella” shines for its catchy genuine melodies filled with folkish influences. The acoustic backbone has a minimalist approach but the addition of elegant flute and strings successfully enrich the music tapestry.

“True Colour” delivers a particularly gloomy atmosphere with decadently slow melodies and borderline dramatic vocals. The acoustic guitar solo momentarily breaks the somber mood with a series of uplifting notes followed by classical style strings.

“Precious Swan” is a quite unique track with an exquisitely sorrowful mood and prominent folk vibes. A generous dose of psychedelic rock enriches the dreamy acoustic theme while classical strings add a borderline cacophonic touch.

The title track focuses on smooth acoustic harmonies adorned by soft female vocals, occasional folk percussions and a highly nostalgic atmosphere.

Far away from the realm of doom rock/metal, “Time” is a full blown acoustic album focused on emotional depth and melancholic melodies that effortlessly embrace multiple musical styles celebrating true artistic freedom.

Epica – The Holographic Principle

Following an impressive wave of worldwide successes, Epica returns with a brand new album entitled “The Holographic Principle” which has a scientific/intellectual lyrical concept concerning multiple realities and, in terms of songwriting, consistently stays true to the band’s notorious symphonic metal style rather than delivering some unpredictable innovation.

The classically triumphant intro “Eidola” creates an enigmatic sense of expectancy that prepares the listeners for the rich musical tapestry of “Edge Of The Blade”. This track features the beloved Epica’s symphonic triumphant soundscape full of cracking guitar riffs and shimmering arrangements. As expected, the musical recipe includes a soft dreamy breakdown and a short heavy blast of growls.

“Universal Death Squad” starts with a charming slow orchestration that gives way to a crescendo of metallic tight guitar riffs and catchy choruses. An explosive heavy rhythm is carefully embellished by somber operatic choirs and atmospheric, at times gloomy, keyboards with sumptuous symphonic accents.

“Beyond The Matrix” focuses greatly on memorably majestic operatic choirs on detailed layers of symphonic orchestrations. While Simone Simons delivers elegant operatic vocals Mark Jansen channels the heaviest side of Epica’s music style with his strong signature growls and thunderous guitar riffing.

“Once Upon A Nightmare” almost sounds like a traditional emotional ballad with classical piano and strings. The song’s structure focuses mainly on the fascinating clarity of Simone Simons vocals but there is still space for polished guitar melodies and grandiose symphonic layers.

“Ascension – Dream State Armageddon” features a darkened post apocalyptic atmosphere with super heavy drumming and blackened guitar riffs. Mark Jansen delivers highly charismatic brutal growls in the midst of a gothic style atmospheric orchestration and creepy spoken passages.

The rather lengthy title track offers plenty of opulent theatrical choruses and classical soprano vocals adorned by triumphant orchestrations that acquire an ominous aura due to the exceptionally heavy guitar riffs and ravenous growls. This song certainly has an elaborate structure with various style and mood changes but as a whole it keeps a cohesive symphonic metal theme.

With “The Holographic Principle” Epica reconfirm their shiny status in the contemporary metal scene and delivers, once again, a piece of music that will easily please their devoted fans.

Nosound – Scintilla

With Nosound’s fifth album entitled “Scintilla” frontman and composer Giancarlo Erra creates a delicate collection of songs filled of genuine emotions and wistful atmospheres with dominant post rock/shoegaze influences.

“In Celebration Of Life” features Vincent Cavanagh of Anathema as guest vocalist and has the softest dreamy atmosphere that triggers an immediate sense of peace brightened by a polished melodic guitar solo.

“Sogno E Incendio” features renowned Italian singer Andrea Chimenti as co-writer and vocalist. A charming melancholy, fully embodied by languid guitar melodies and cinematic arrangements, lingers throughout the song.

“Emily” delivers subtle acoustic melodies adorned by the lovely charismatic presence of an ethereal cello and bittersweet vocals.

Vincent Cavanagh returns to offer his unique voice on “The Perfect Wife” providing a rather powerfully evocative performance. Again the cello appears to deliver an incommensurable sense of exquisite nostalgia.

“Love Is Forever” shines for its inner melancholy perfectly embodied by elegantly simple piano melodies and sorrowful smooth vocals floating in a blurred atmosphere.

The title track has a simple soothing musical theme featuring a whimsical atmosphere that recalls the shoegaze trend with a cathartic acoustic soundscape, elegant classical piano and the addition of uplifting trumpets.

Stripped of sensational bombastic effects “Scintilla” is a wonderful introspective musical journey that focuses on a minimalist intimate composition and requires a serene reflective listening.

Shokran – Exodus

Oriental/groove metal band Shokran has released a second full length entitled “Exodus” which showcases a variety of musical influences, such as trendy deathcore elements, as wells as prog style technical musicianship.
“Creatures From The Mud” has an atmospheric vibe that naturally grows into a crescendo of prog oriented guitar riffs. Clean vocals and catchy choruses add additional melodic energy to a series of exotic phrases.
“The Swarm” builds a heavier rhythmic core that still gives way to prog tempo changes and compelling melodic guitar work.
“Disfigured Hand” shines for its mystical atmosphere enhanced by polished clean vocals and quite impressive full blown shredding guitar solos with neoclassical influences in proper virtuoso fashion.
“And Heavens Began To Fall” is a slower track borderline ballad with an obvious emotional charge and mellow female vocals but there is still space for loads of dynamic groovy guitar riffing.
“The Storm And The Ruler” is another well executed prog guitar driven track featuring a strong groovy theme finely amplified by energetic screams and bright clean vocals.
Overall, “Exodus” is a solid effort with shimmering intense ideas scattered throughout and its catchy exotic style harmonies could definitely attract a wide audience.

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.