Civil War – The Last Full Measure

Swedish act Civil War returns with the new album “The Last Full Measure” delivering a melodic mixture of classic heavy metal and epic power metal.

“Road To Victory” channels typical warrior anthems with dated triumphant keyboards and polished guitars. Sadly nothing stands out as the songwriting seems quite stale and the guitar driven groove doesn’t hold enough strength.

“Deliverance” follows the same musical direction, even if the guitar riffs are rather catchy we all heard this type of songs before. There is an obvious traditional guitars/keyboards combo and at least this track features a more genuinely catchy groove.

“A Tale That Should Never Be Told” delivers an atmospheric symphonic approach with almost mystical choirs and majestic music theme.

“Gladiator” offers a tighter faster rhythm with some crunchy guitar riffs in the mix. The recurring battlefield glory is particularly dominant and the guitar solo adds some dynamic elements.

The title track tries to gain strength with solemn atmospheric keyboards and certainly the lead guitar work is more detailed and interesting but in the end the overall mood is not as impressive as it should be.

“Aftermath” is the usual ballad borderline romantic with super clean melodic guitars but the vocals don’t seem to hold the necessary dose of pure passion.

“The Last Full Measure” tries to be as catchy as possible but unfortunately really suffers from an evident lack of originality in terms of songwriting and since each song feels too predictable it would be enjoyable only for an average unsophisticated crowd.

Sons Of Balaur – Tenebris Deos

Fictional Norwegian black metal band Sons Of Balaur comes to life straight out of the acclaimed metal graphic novel “Realm Of The Damned” to deliver a real full length release entitled “Tenebris Deos”. Considering the mythological biography supporting the band’s history and mysterious identity, “Tenebris Deos” might not sound like a serious musical effort but in general these songs seem to pack a fun blackened rock groove.

“Invocation” works well as opening act since it contains the main black metal influenced elements that characterize the music style of “Tenebris Deos”. There is nothing highly original and remarkable but the guitars never fail to offer catchy blackened riffs that evoke true traditional black metal anthems.

“Old Relics” has a raw rhythm with clear old school black metal roots but also a pompous mood with some epic warrior style choirs and faster guitar riffing entwined with few modern polished leads.

“Succubus Slut” has a fun black and roll mood with gritty guitar riffs and a catchy chorus that makes it a widely accessible tune.

“The Curse Of Bloodlust” relies on a faster rhythmic section and an ominous atmosphere with classic tremolo picking and traditionally enraged growls, yet nothing feels too extreme and the song actually ends with super soft semi acoustic passages.

“Van Helsing Must Die” has an obvious classic horror theme and attempts to sound as evil as possible with modern production, catchy guitar riffs and baritone growls.

“Balaur’s Rise” runs on a heavy slow doomish guitar riffing with a horror rock vibe that always maintains a groovy dynamic rhythm. Growls are performed in old school fashion and pay tribute to many iconic black metal acts.

Black metal kvlt followers will not take seriously Sons Of Balaur but fans of the “Realm Of The Damned” graphic novel will enjoy this real life debut album.

Anciients – Voice Of The Void

Canadian band Anciients returns with the sophomore album “Voice Of The Void” which delivers a captivating mix of prog, stoner and sludge highly focused on eclectic guitar dynamics.

“Following The voice” is an energetic guitar driven tune with rather heavy undertones featuring groovy riffs with loads of prog stylish details. Melodic flashy guitar leads showcase great musicianship and pleasant creativity in the midst of a harsh faster rhythmic section.

“Pentacle” is filled with cold dark undertones reflected in the particularly ominous growls and blackened somber guitar riffs. Soon a warmer light begins to embrace the rhythmic section in prog fashion with inspired melodic guitars.

“Ibex Eye” might be the most charismatic track with a genuine stoner soul spiced up by effortless prog style tempo changes. Clean vocals and growls fully embrace the general somber mood but the majestic intricate guitar work is the true highlight of the song.

“Incantations” starts with a series of dreamy arpeggios but this soothing atmosphere is not meant to last forever as a charismatic guitar solo introduces a blast of tight riffing. The overall groove is certainly catchy and heavy but in truth this track could have had a more mesmerizing effect as an instrumental.

“Voice Of The Void” might not be ready to attract a wide audience but it certainly delivers an enjoyable dose of musical diversity that will definitely trigger curiosity and interest in the metal scene.

Obsidian Kingdom – A Year With No Summer

Catalan experimental band Obsidian Kingdom has released an eclectic sophomore album entitled “A Year With No Summer” which features an interesting sonic ensemble of jazzy and progressive influenced tracks.

The title track offers a wide range of musical influences and pleasant melodies emphasized by a catchy rock chorus. Electro style layers maintain an atmospheric tone that creates a solid backbone for exciting tempo changes.

“The Kandinsky Group” has a more experimental avant-garde mood with plenty of darkened electro atmospheres and somber guitar phrases. Intricate prog influenced guitar work build a heavier and louder rhythm that grows into a doom sinister guitar driven crescendo with some dissonant accents.

“The Polyarnik” is a melodic instrumental piece with an apparent artsy minimalist approach and dreamy atmospheres embellished by modern electro accents that could appeal to a wider audience.

“Away/Absent” is not your standard radio friendly song as it delivers a rather challenging concoction of diverse styles and sounds including a final acoustic piece, starting after a silent gap, which seems almost out of place. Harmonious slower passages deliver translucent emotions while dense metal influenced rhythms create a chaotic mood.

Overall, “A Year With No Summer” might not be a perfect album but Obsidian Kingdom showcases a unique musical pathway with multiple creative stylistic features that easily cross average music boundaries.

Saint Vitus – Live Vol. 2

American doom icons Saint Vitus have released their second official live album simply entitled “Live Vol. 2” which features Wino as vocalist rather than original frontman Scott Reagers as it was recorded in 2013 during the “Lillie: F-65” tour.

As expected, the band performs impeccably some memorable true doom classics such as “War Is Our Destiny”, “White Stallions”, “Born Too Late” and “Dying Inside” that are rightfully included on this live album.

“Live Vol. 2” will obviously become a collector item for Saint Vitus devoted fanbase and will be a rather enjoyable album for those who never had the chance to see the band perform live with their unmistakable signature heavy doom.

Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust

Death metal seminal act Gorguts returns with the latest EP “Pleiades’ Dust” which consists of a singular 33-minute composition that features historic/philosophic lyrical inspiration and always feels like a cryptic experimental music journey.

Certainly the main music core embraces clear death metal elements but the extreme metal aspects are never overpowering and tend to maintain a solid ominous background for something more adventurous. There is a multitude of style and tempo variations that never feel awkward with clever atmospheric interludes and softer phrases. Often a mystical introvert atmosphere creates the right moody layers to support interesting, at times classical influenced, technical guitar work. There are also ethereal moments in which melodic arpeggios deliver a sense of abandon and meditation that drastically fade into a more chaotic rhythm.

With its mysterious dissonant aura “Pleiades’ Dust” is a work of music that could be truly appreciated by a limited underground audience.

Numenorean – Home

Calgary’s post black metal act Numenorean makes its official debut with the album “Home” which contains five lengthy tracks featuring all the genre’s unmistakably familiar elements.
At the very first listening the melancholic soundscape of the title track evokes iconic Alcest’s early work. Numenorean chooses wisely the quality and quantity of lush somber guitar arpeggios lingering through raw fast paced drumming and adds the desperate vocal/screams in typical post black metal fashion.
“Thirst” conjures a similar bleak atmosphere but the guitars acquire a different distorted energy before going back to full blown emotionally charged arpeggios.
“Laid Down” features a tragic mood with minimalist guitar passages and a sorrowful patina persists even when the rhythm gains a primitive rage. A soft introvert breakdown erases any sign of chaos to bring harmonious guitars that convey a natural sense of peace.
In the end, “Home” showcases some scattered interesting ideas even if
post black metal shoegaze might just sound too trendy for many potential listeners.

Devilment – Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes

Devilment is mainly known for its charismatic infamous lead singer Dani Filth who introduced the once underground band to the glorious metal scene.  Dani must take Devilment seriously as confirmed by his commitment in the creation of the band’s second album “Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes” which is not an extreme metal music piece but definitely shines for its dark music roots.

“Judas Stein” kicks off with a proper horror flick atmosphere that allows Dani’s ominous growls to take the center stage. There is a persistent gothic influence in the crushing guitar riffs and the keyboards’ sound which come together to keep a particular dark mood.

“Hitchcock Blonde” is an immediate favorite with its rich versatile rock texture emphasized by dissonant keyboards and a dreadful catchy chorus. Dani adds the perfect dose of devilish vehemence soothed by inspiring atmospheric keyboard arrangements.

“Under The Thunder” has a modern metallic edge embedded in the guitar riffs that build a catchy rhythm while sinister keyboards provide a generous dose of dark melodies. Lauren Francis adds soft harmonious vocals while Dani’s signature growls deliver an endless darkness.

Soothing ballad style piano melodies create a sense of nostalgia on “Full Dark, No Stars”. Lauren’s vocals again deliver delicate harmonies that are destined to be eventually tainted by a dark shroud of raw guitar riffs and horrific growls.

“Dea Della Morte” features an alluring vocal duet that evokes a feverish love tragedy. Classical piano and ethereal keyboards provide a highly melodic musical core while the guitar riffs acquire nightmarish metal accents.

With “Devilment II: The Mephisto Waltzes” Dani Filth & co have successfully concocted a deliciously spectral collection of songs that always keep an edgy gothic/horror rock attitude that would certainly entertain a wide audience, especially those who like to believe that everyday it’s Halloween.

Ashes Of My Regrets – Caricatures

New Jersey metalcore band Ashes Of My Regrets has released a new EP entitled “Caricatures” which features a trendy metalcore style spiced up with creative electronic accents.

“Incorruptible” blends a strong metalcore rhythm with interesting modern electro moments and sincere clean vocals that break down the noisy guitar riffing.

“Fooled Me Twice, Now Pay The Price” again relies on a guitar driven metalcore theme but the most appealing elements reside in the somber atmospheric arrangements that keep an easy melodic flow.

“Daydreams” features a quite aggressive approach with chaotic heavy guitar riffing and unrestrained screams but it also delivers some pleasant melodic passages with atmospheric electro elements that make the whole song more entertaining.

Overall, with “Caricatures” Ashes Of My Regrets showcases a genuine passion for music and scattered bright ideas that one day could evolve into a solid work of music.

Dope – Blood Money, Part 1

Dope’s “Blood Money, Part 1” is the first album released in seven years so it carries an enormous burden of expectations and promises. Certainly Dope manages to resurrect the old signature style and puts together a sweet collection of catchy songs.

“Blood Money” delivers a raw industrial mood with metallic guitar riffs and groovy drumming. The synths provide a dark noisy atmosphere amplified by dirty rock style vocals.

“Hold On” is a strange hybrid with smooth guitar leads in classic metal style with remarkable 90s accents and crushing guitar riffs that surround the recurring catchy chorus.

“1999” has a darker mood with heavy industrial influence and spooky synths. This track is particularly entertaining with an energetic moshpit friendly groove further embellished by borderline cacophonic synths.

“Razorblade Butterfly” has a playful vibe mixed with an understated sadness. The rough guitar riffs and the atmospheric synths build a sort of electro/industrial groove with dance floor vibes while the chorus will easily hook any listeners.

“A New Low” relies mainly on a trendy metalcore style with a heavy but catchy guitar riffing and the expected combo of clean melodic vocals and angrier screams.

“Selfish” has a horror style atmospheric theme but it’s also full of distorted guitar licks that successfully provide an immediate groove that feels like a crossover of nu metal and industrial.

Dope delivers a lovely cover of Hole’s hit song “Violet” adding loads of modern synths that provide darker layers over a heavier rhythmic core.

In the end, Blood Money, Part 1” demonstrates to be an entertaining album that would please party animals or a restricted alternative crowd but after seven years of silence some would have expected a more challenging/interesting work of music.