Soilwork – Death Resonance

Acclaimed Swedish act Soilwork has released a compilation entitled “Death Resonance” which feels like a deserved celebration of the band’s successful career as it includes rarely released songs as well as two brand new ones.

“Helsinki” is a new song that seems to be a good representation of Soilwork’s signature melodic death metal style. The band skillfully and elegantly switches from relentless heavy guitar riffs and enraged screams to the most melodic ensemble of fascinating prog influenced guitar solos and passionate clean vocals.

The title track is the other new song included in this album and it seems to follow the same melo-death theme in terms of songwriting and structure. The melodic aspect is quite emphasized in the captivating guitar work while there is always plenty of space to build an intense groove with blasting drums and faster riffs.

“When Sound Collides” features a dynamic series of crunchy guitar riffs that easily build an energetic groove embellished by a delightfully intense guitar solo impeccably performed in progressive metal fashion.

“Forever Lost In Vain” is another track that summarizes all the classic elements of melodic death metal. Smooth guitar leads deliver polished melodies with prog accents further amplified by crispy clean vocals in contrast with the heavier rhythmic backbone.

“Sweet Demise” has a dominant melodic theme featuring a dreamy breakdown but maintains a good dose of raw death metal attitude in the tight combo of guitar riffs and drumbeats.

“Martyr” is an easy, almost minimalist, track that conveys a dramatic atmosphere where melodic guitar leads take the center stage in a laid back tempo.

“Killed By Ignition” seems to often rely on the strength of crunchy guitar riffs but the main musical core is all about accessible melodies and catchy chorus.

While waiting for a new album “Death Resonance” will certainly become a must have for Soilwork’s devoted fans since it captures so many facets of the band’s music catalog.

Sonata Arctica- The Ninth Hour

Sonata Arctica keeps on evolving, album after album the sound changes, and “The ninth hour” proves it. The last work of the Finnish band is going to split the opinion of fans and media, this is not an easy listening album and needs time to be assimilated.

“Closer to an Animal” is the first single extract, this melodic song keeps intact the line that Sonata Arctica has taken with “Unia”. The second single “Life”, from which has been released also a video-clip, is pretty catchy and the keyboards and guitar solos are brilliant.

Tracks like “Fairytale” and “Till Death’s Done us Apart” are powerful musical compositions that remind the old works of the band. The flute gives that something more to “We Are What We Are” a beautiful touching ballad.

The longest track is “White Pearl,Black Oceans Part II”, with its 10 minutes, I had expectations for this song, but unfortunately it is not able to enter the heart as the part I. “Rise a Night” is the most powerfull song and the only one which can be liked from all the fans because it mixes the old sound with the new in a good way.

As I said, this isn’t an easy listening album but it’s wrong judge it just from the first listen, the sound is more slow compared to the previous albums but this is the evolution that Sonata Arctica has started long time ago.
What to say about this album? Performance is excellent, production is sublime and the voice of Tony Kakko has never been so theatrical and communicative before.

Dark Tranquillity – Atoma

Iconic  Gothenburg pioneers Dark Tranquillity return triumphantly with the brand new full length “Atoma” which features the band’s beloved signature melodic death metal style but also never fails to stay relevant in the overcrowded metal scene. After over two decades of mesmerizing musical compositions Dark Tranquillity demonstrates once again that the creative force is still alive and is ready to push any given musical boundaries without hesitation.

“Encircled” features dramatic eerie keyboards that create a passionate melodic background with a slight gothic feel. Mikael Stanne fiercely unleashes his signature growls while crunchy sharp guitar riffs flow naturally to reach an exquisitely melodic acme.

The title track is an immediate favorite with luminous keyboards that build a genuine melodic core further emphasized by Stanne’s fervent clean vocals. In a darkened atmosphere all instruments work together to shape a refreshing sound that favors the band’s most melodic and catchy approach.

On “Forward Momentum” Stanne’s clean vocals acquire additional emotive vividness that naturally evokes a profoundly intense melancholy.  Even if the main musical theme is exceptionally melodic with the right dose of polished guitar tunes there is still space to build a heavier metallic groove.

You will simply fall love with the darkly addictive chorus on “Faithless By Default”. Martin Brändström delivers once again particularly poignant arrangements that provide an elegantly intricate ensemble of atmospheric harmonies and consistently convey an absolute sense of sadness.

“The Pitiless” rides on a faster tempo with a more aggressive and groovy approach where guitar riffs take the center stage to grow stronger and bolder. While a blackened atmosphere persists throughout the song Niklas Sundin’s melodic guitar solo adds a wave of cold radiance.

“Our Proof Of Life” is deeply filled with harmonious passion genuinely portrayed by a particularly rich and dynamic guitar work while Stanne effortlessly switches from sincere clean vocals to fiery growls in darkened catchy mood.

“Caves And Embers” has a majestic dark groove with dramatic accents featuring a cohesive concoction of addictive guitar riffs and rich leads that cannot be missed. The calmer atmospheric passages delicately convey an introspective melancholia.

With mature musicianship, stellar songwriting and ardent emotional depth Dark Tranquillity has crafted a stunning collection of songs and “Atoma” is a must have that will sincerely conquer your heart and become your faithful companion during dark winter days.

 

Sirenia – Dim Days Of Dolor

Mastermind Morten Veland returns with Sirenia’s latest full length melancholically entitled “Dim Days Of Dolor” which features opera singer Emmanuelle Zoldan as new lead vocalist.

“Goddess Of The Sea” delivers a powerful sense of grandeur with properly dramatic operatic choirs that gracefully supports Emmanuelle’s elegant vocal performance. Fascinating keyboards and orchestra arrangements keep a gravely melancholic mood while polished melodic guitar leads spice up the darkened theme.

The title track features an extremely catchy chorus and melodies that will get stuck on your mind even at the very first listening. The main music core is quite simplistic with an array of easy rock/pop guitar riffs and a super melodic solo always embellished by lovely atmospheric symphonic arrangements.

On “The 12th Hour” Emmanuelle delivers compelling soprano vocals that effortlessly complement Morten’s signature growls. This track features a faster tempo and a more aggressive guitar approach but the main music theme continues to revolve around Sirenia’s renowned melodic symphonic style.

“Veil Of Winter” has a cold gothic attitude with the infamous Scandinavian wintry mix that influences each melody. Morten and Emmanuelle diligently share vocal duties in the midst of a decadent melancholic musical theme where orchestrations are very dominant and guitars are left a bit in the background.

On “Elusive Sun” Emmanuelle’s whimsical vocals illuminate the gothic tinged sadness while the operatic choirs keep the symphonic flame alive with extra somber vibes. Crispy guitars add a metallic sheen to the super catchy melody while the solos are all about clean shredding.

“Aeon’s Embrace” is the must have piano piece filled with tragic emotionally charged ethereal vocals. Even if we all listened repeatedly to similar songs, the effortless melodic flow and the heartfelt vocals will certainly attract the audience.

Overall, Sirenia tends to stay true to the original music formula nevertheless “Dim Days Of Dolor” shines for the exquisite vocals performed by Emmanuelle Zoldan and the highly harmonious fluidity with the right touch of gothic atmosphere.

Vader – The Empire

Longstanding Polish extreme metal band Vader returns with the newest album “The Empire” which offers a rather safe collection of ravenous fast guitar driven tracks designed to trigger immediate heavy headbanging.

“Angel Of Steel” is all about thrash style fury perfectly portrayed by the relentless crunchy guitar riffs that build a strong groove while drums and bass keep a super tight rhythm.

“Prayer To The God Of War” features angered growls complemented by appropriate old school thrash metal guitar riffing while the fast ferocious leads add some stylish variety.

“Iron Reign” delivers highly catchy guitar riffs that grow violently stronger while the overall atmosphere gains a more darkened melodic feel at a slower pace.

“Parabellum” is another straightforward track that relies on a raw faster thrash approach with vicious growls, unrestrained drumming and a ferocious blistering guitar solo.

On “Send Me Back To Hell” the rhythm slows down significantly without sacrificing the evil nature of the song which shines especially for the fierce guitar solo licks that carry an understated melodic vibe.

With “The Empire” Vader delivers a cohesive work filled with the brutal musical concoctions expected by the band’s faithful fans without introducing any particularly surprising burst of creativity.

Départe – Failure, Subside

Australian band Départe debuts in the metal scene with the album “Failure, Subside” characterized by lengthy tracks with pronounced black metal influences and heavily dark atmospheres.

“Ashes In Bloom” features a painfully ominous mood with a chaotic mixture of super heavy breathless drumming in old school black metal fashion and quieter passages conveying a tragic gothic/doom musical theme.

“Grief Echoes (Golden Scars)” follows a similar blackened structure with a heavy rhythmic backbone embellished by introvert melodic guitar accents but also favors an exceptionally dark ambiance that evokes an absolute sense of hopelessness.

“Vessel” packs a vicious crescendo of guitar riffs but maintains a generous dose of depressing melodies buried in a rather asphyxiating atmosphere occasionally interrupted by progressive tempo variations and brightening clean vocals.

“Ruin” has a calmer atmospheric theme that evokes a perennial sense of desolation. Doom and black metal influences are dominant in the guitar riffs and rhythmic section while the slow breakdown features minimalist arpeggios that portray an introspective serenity.

“Failure, Subside” is definitely a cohesive music piece that due to its powerful enigmatic extreme metal nature would attract mainly a very specific audience.

Inquisition – Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith

American black metal duo Inquisition returns with an enigmatic new album entitled “Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith” that promises to represent a confident mature milestone in the band’s career.

“From Chaos They Came” is all about raw guitar riffing breaking the cold ice of another winter day. Minimalist primitive black metal drumming provides the renowned breathless chaotic atmosphere but there are some scattered tempo changes that attempt to variegate the main blackened core.

“Wings Of Anu” follows the same primordial rules with super monotone croaked growls and/or rasps bearing immense suffering and tight guitar riffs and hyper aggressive drumming that build an introvert groove.

On “The Flames Of Infinite Blackness Before Creation” the tempo slows down dramatically to reach an ominous atmospheric depth filled with tragic doom style heaviness and somber guitar melodies.

“Through The Divine Spirit Of Satan A Glorious Universe Is Known” has a dirty melodic approach with acoustic arpeggios that create a feeble light to guide you through the mysterious vortex of colder, somehow catchy, guitar riffs.

The title track has a more atmospheric mystical theme with a slower tempo and dominant guitar work that offers a necessary enlightened sonic variety and leaves behind the redundant chaotic rhythm.

Overall, “Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith” has all the right black metal treats that make people go insane but it often relies too much on a monochromatic music theme.

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.