Marduk – Viktoria

The blackened legacy of Swedish icons Marduk is renowned worldwide and its blasphemous essence continues to be crucial in the current metal scene therefore it’s not surprising that the newest release “Viktoria” maintains intact the band’s signature style.

“Werwolf” aims for a direct brutal impact as guitars fully embrace the feverish fast dynamics of what is unanimously considered traditional black metal and the delivery is precise and deliberately bold resulting in a perilous mixture of absolutely harsh tonalities, sirens announcing an imminent attack and venomous growls.

On “Tiger I” the rhythm section drastically slows down yet never sacrifices the primordial blackened core that emerges with bold energetic blasts while guitar riffs acquire an ominous melodic temper foreshadowing imminent catastrophe and maintain a steady sense of hopelessness.

“The Last Fallen” belongs to the hellish depths of black metal as extra dark guitars march triumphantly eventually gaining monstrous rhythmic dynamics accompanied by utterly ruthless growls.

There is no escape and no time to breath on the title track as the entire instrumentation deliberately embrace a savage blackened rhythm and the occasional borderline melodic guitars evoke sheer desolation.

Channeling arcane vibes “Silent Night” becomes even darker with enticing malevolent guitar melodies that could not feel heavier despite the quasi contemplative atmosphere and the dramatically slower rhythmic approach.

On “Viktoria” Marduk are not interested in special effects or astonishing innovations as the traditional black metal is the chosen pathway that continues to dictate the sinister tonalities and a no frills ferocious delivery.

Lucifer – Lucifer II

The second coming of rockers Lucifer starts when vocalist Johanna Sadonis finds Nicke Andersson as the perfect songwriting partner and the result of this new collaboration is the long awaited sophomore album “Lucifer II” which naturally conjures a dark sonic realm inspired by heavy rock of the late ‘60s and ‘70s.

“California Son” is not your standard rock revival song because Lucifer’s personal identity adds intriguing twists even if the vintage vibes are definitely influencing the wild guitar driven grooves. A subtle darkness flows through the crunchy guitar riffs which spontaneously lead to delightfully entertaining solos with the perfect dosage of gritty & melodic textures while Johanna proves to be a charismatic frontwoman.

As we are feeling a bit lost in the middle of nowhere, most likely an arid landscape or a cemetary, “Dreamer” emerges with sultry harmonies and Johanna’s aptly dreamy vocal delivery while the rhythm slows down significantly to enhance the darkened hues and sheer nostalgia of the melodic guitar work which often will still naturally acquire bursts of explosive energy through groovy crescendos and killer solos.

“Reaper On Your Heels” amplifies classic doom nuances and consequent moody melancholia leading to a lovable melodic ensemble spiced up by many groovy moments where guitars continues to channel glorified rock flavors but also add extra dark momentum.

With a winning groovy rhythmic core “Aton” features loads of catchy melodies reaching the acme with the memorable chorus and while the instrumental passages are utterly entertaining, especially when flamboyant guitar leads take the center stage, there is an underlying emotional turmoil.

The darkly decadent guitar riffs of “Faux Pharaoh” and Johanna’s enchanting vocals will inevitably put a spell on you as this track screams doom from beginning to end offering plenty of delicious gloomy grooves with psychedelic twists and bewitching melodic guitar licks surrounded by particularly sinister atmospheric arrangements.

It would be hard to resist the sultry magic of “Evening Wind” as a laid back and extremely nostalgic mood effortlessly enhance Johanna’s poignant vocal delivery while the soulful guitar melodies and the impressive vibrant leads rightfully hold a rather crucial role throughout the whole song.

The future of Lucifer looks bright as the advent of “Lucifer II” with its inner melodic splendor and gloomy grandeur will definitely attract a wide audience and fully reveal the band’s talent and genuine passion.

At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself

We all remember how Swedish melodic death metal veterans At The Gates made a stunning debut in the scene with the album “The Red In The Sky Is Ours” back in 1992 and now the band returns with full commitment and a clear vision to deliver the menacing energy of the new full length “To Drink From The Night Itself”.  

The title track doesn’t waste time and unleashes immediately a fierce rhythmic section with precise fast drumming and super heavy guitar riffs but will often embrace a rather somber melodic essence when lead guitars provide loads of beloved grim melo-death variations reminiscent of the band’s renowned signature style.

In the beginning “Palace Of Lepers” offers a slower rhythm to favor dramatic and absolutely catchy melodic guitars but there are still moments of sheer brutality scattered through the dramatic textures in order to trigger a moshpit friendly momentum always amplified by Tomas Lindberg’ ferocious vocals.

“Daggers Of Black Haze” begins with orchestral grandeur creating a deliciously dark mood that will continue to influence the masterful primary melodic ensemble featuring impeccably obscure guitar tonalities and a general sense of desolation yet the slower rhythm doesn’t necessarily sacrifice the song’s heavy core.

With a generous round of punishing drumming and thick guitar riffs “The Chasm” moves sinuously through a monumental darkness where vocals feel insanely desperate and lead guitars aim to evoke tragic emotions with the perfect melodic fluidity of the solo.

On “In Nameless Sleep” the rhythmic segments can become quite aggressive with feverish riffage and of course the majestic thunderous drums while the atmosphere feels increasingly hopeless with moments full of morbid melancholic melodies until guest guitarist Andy LaRocque delivers a truly charismatic shredded solo.

“The Mirror Black” closes the album with the exquisite darkened elegance and pure melancholy of the final solemn classical orchestrations while throughout the song the rhythm becomes dramatically slower to enhance the utter anguish of Lindberg’s growls and the profound emotions expressed by the melodic guitar work.  

Undoubtedly “To Drink From The Night Itself” preserves the blend of melodic despair and aggressive dynamics that has characterized At The Gates discography yet the band is eager to express an ex novo creative energy and a genuinely passionate songwriting approach that will be absolutely appreciated by the fans and will reconfirm their influential status in the metal scene.   
To Drink From The Night Itself

Barren Earth – A Complex Of Cages

Finnish progressive death metal supergroup Barren Earth, featuring Olli-Pekka Laine of Amorphis, Sami Yli-Sirniö of Kreator, guitarist Janne Perttilä, vocalist Jón Aldará of Hamferð and young keyboard wizard Antti Myllynen, triumphantly returns with the kaleidoscopic melodies of the newest release “A Complex Of Cages”, a truly eclectic music experience that you simply cannot miss.

“The Living Fortress” begins with dramatic vibes that create a suspenseful introduction for the first fierce wave of guitars riffs which delightfully combine the primordial darkness of melo-death and the modern technical approach of prog metal, a perfect match in this case, while vocals effortlessly shift from magical melancholic cleans to absolutely ravenous growls through fascinating melodic phrases filled of cold Nordic tonalities and additional complex rhythmic variations skillfully crafted by guitars & keyboards.

“Further Down” offers mystical atmospheres that sinuously embrace bursts of thick & groovy guitar riffs and graceful melodies embellished by some folk nuances that will always evoke the comforting wintry mood of melo-death but there is a lot more going on as keyboards continue to create elegant symphonic arrangements with occasional vintage accents and guitars showcase audaciously entertaining prog dynamics.

“Zeal” immediately sets a darkly atmospheric mood with the minimalist beauty of delicate piano passages and poetic vocals soon enriched by dramatic guitar melodies bearing the beloved nuances of Scandinavian melancholy yet such cathartic moments will gradually evolve into a series of majestic & heavier rhythmic patterns filled of eclectic prog inspired variations and deeply obscure death metal elements.

Starting with intriguing keyboards layers “Solitude Pith” will impress the listeners with the stunning intensity of vocals characterized by a particularly charismatic delivery that perfectly matches the primary passionate melodic essence of the entire song which still offers solid heavier blasts but also delivers loads of delicious vintage arrangements and softer, yet rather intricate, harmonious rhythms leading to a flamboyant guitar solo.

Like a shroud of profound melancholy “Withdrawal” closes the album channeling ardent feelings through vibrant emotional soundscapes with soulful arpeggios and undoubtedly flawless dramatic vocals but a refreshing rhythmic crescendo will add dazzling melodic guitar work bearing the influence of ‘70s prog rock as well as modern artsy dynamics.

At the very first listening “A Complex Of Cages” will conquer your heart through stunning melodic fluidity and mesmerizing guitar work as, united by their appreciation for ‘70s progressive rock, the talented musicians behind Barren Earth showcase absolutely spellbinding composition skills and indisputable mature musicianship.

Complex Of Cages

Oceans Of Slumber – The Banished Heart

Progressive metal quintet Oceans Of Slumber has certainly gained a lot of attention in the last few years leading to truly high expectations for the long awaited new album “The Banished Heart” which showcases a profoundly darkened essence also inspired by the band’s personal emotional turmoil.

On “The Decay Of Disregard” a mellow melodic piano piece and ambiance layers introduce a series of sharp blackened guitar riffs which will gradually acquire polished technical prog dynamics within an ever-changing rhythmic ensemble that still preserves a whirlwind of authentic emotions expressed through complex melodic passages and Cammie Gilbert’s passionate vocal performance while the whole instrumentation is perennially channeling darkened feelings.

“Fleeting Vigilance” immediately favors melancholic melodies with minimalist slow guitars that will undergo a blackened evolution leading to darker harmonies and significantly heavier rhythmic patterns while Cammie’s spellbinding voice continues to create ethereal emotions and graceful melodic quality in contrast with fierce growls through meticulously elaborate prog inspired tempo & style variations.

The title track favors refined melodic textures with poetic quality as the rhythm gets slower to enhance the emotional intensity of Cammie’s voice in the midst of doom & gloom atmospheric nuances that will acquire the absolute spotlight with the addition of several elegant melodic piano passages evoking heartbreak and pure melancholy that will inevitably move the listeners.

“Etiolation” holds a doom essence that influences every rhythmic pattern providing extra darkened crunchy tones for the primary & heaviest guitar riffs amplified by furious growls and thunderous drumming but the song still fully embraces an understated melodic pathway often embellished by fancy prog accents and technical skills.

With a fierce guitar driven beginning “A Path To Broken Stars” conjures a dark soundscape blending again minimalist doom oriented tonalities and loads of prog twists provided by intriguing guitar work and while there are many heavy segments Cammie’s voice focuses more on the creation of delicate harmonious moments.

With an immensely sorrowful mood “No Color, No Light” will immediately stand out for the exquisite vocal duet between Cammie and Evergrey’s Tom S. Englund that constantly enrich the melancholic fragile guitar melodies and provide extra emotional depth to the doom style desolation of guitar passages and cathartic atmospheric arrangements.

Due to the untamed desire to explore diverse music territories and the consequent predilection for intricate textures “The Banished Heart” is probably not an album for the masses focused on easy melodic hooks nevertheless it is still an accessible music experience and there will be listeners willing to get lost in the unconventional sonic labyrinths and the extraordinary emotional journey skillfully crafted by Oceans Of Slumber.
The Banished Heart

Eyes Set To Kill – Eyes Set To Kill

American trio Eyes Set To Kill worked hard to gain popularity and the catchy melodic alt rock & post-hardcore style of the latest self-titled album will certainly please the fans.

On “Die Trying” the alt rock essence is definitely prominent with loads of raw distorted guitar dynamics that maintain simple rhythmic patterns that will culminate with a super catchy chorus filled of ‘90s rebel vibes.

“Break” immediately feels wilder & heavier as guitar riffs often showcase hardcore elements yet the main focus seems to be an emotional whirlwind clearly palpable in the melodic passages and melancholy infused vocal delivery.

“Survive” relies on heavy stomping grooves mixed with some modern atmospheric layers that surround the accessible melodic chorus while vocals effortlessly shift from raspy screams to tormented emotive delivery.

“Devastated” offers all the elements of a power ballad with mellow atmospheres and extremely melancholic vocals as the bands definitely favor bittersweet melodies and leaves little space for the crunchy guitar riffing.

Starting with softer chords and somber atmospheric layers “Drift Away” proceeds to offer strong melodic moments always matched and further enhanced by a mix of heartfelt and gritty vocals.

“Misery” offers soothing and deeply melancholic vibes again focusing on emotionally charged melodies with scattered heavier guitar driven accents and alt rock vibes in the easy chorus but vocals definitely continue to hold a dominant role fully expressing sincere emotions.

“Who We Used To Be” closes the album with a higher dosage of bouncy hardcore oriented rhythmic blasts and slick guitar riffs yet the recurring melodic textures maintain a primary role in the song’s structure.

Clearly Eyes Set To Kill aims to gather a wide audience rather than crafting innovative or complex songs therefore if you’re looking for radio friendly choruses & melodies you will find plenty on this new album.

Necrophobic – Mark Of The Necrogram

With a renewed line up and reinvigorated passion Swedish death metallers Necrophobic return to the scene with the hellish energy of the new release “Mark Of The Necrogram” which triumphantly celebrates a dark renaissance.

The title track arises with unfiltered grotesquery as guitars follow the untamed fury of classic death metal creating moshpit friendly rhythmic dynamics enhanced by the additional fury of diabolical growls yet this is not just random apocalyptic chaos due to a subtle melodic essence that becomes particularly evident in the lead guitar work.

Emerging from a nightmarish abyss “Odium Caecum” initially offers gloomy melodic atmospheres but soon embraces a series of menacing rhythmic segments where infectiously furious drums and guitar riffing inevitably take the lead while the guitar solo crafts a darkened melodic cascade.

On “Tsar Bomba” melancholic melodies are strictly entwined with the crushing attitude of death metal and, as expected, the band focuses on a steady thunderous ensemble of fierce guitar riffs and drums to keep the listeners entertained while the melodic arpeggios of the contemplative breakdown will lead to a quite compelling solo.

The unholy guitar driven grooves of “Lamashtu” will not disappoint the death metal acolytes and the band fiercely adds extra devilish tones with a massive ensemble of maleficent guitar riffs & bass lines dramatically enriched by the sincere melodic twists of lead guitars.

“Requiem For A Dying Sun” continues to effortlessly blend darkened melodic nuances and more extreme rhythmic patterns even without exaggerated speed or brutality as guitars constantly shift from thick riffs to colder soulful harmonies surrounded by dismal atmospheric tonalities.

“From The Great Above To The Great Below” easily offers plenty of death metal oriented energetic grooves and additional ominous blackened dynamics while the lead guitar work focuses on traditional melodic metal progressions to deliver higher variety.

With “Mark of the Necrogram” Necrophobic are marching proudly into Armageddon staying true to their wicked death metal signature style yet never cease to provide extra sonic depth with darkened melodic moments.