Tribulation – Down Below

Swedish quartet Tribulation is quickly becoming one of the most intriguing acts in the current metal scene following an unstoppable dark sonic evolution that ultimately and naturally leads to the ghastly shadows and the gothic finesse of the new album “Down Below” which at this point might be labeled as the band’s magnum opus.

Rightfully released as first single “The Lament” could not contain a higher dosage of pure melancholia starting with minimalist moody guitar phrases swiftly followed by an irresistible darkened rock groove where the whole instrumentation acquires wistful vintage tonalities while passionately diabolical growls certainly channel traditional blackened nuances.

On “Subterranea” eerie atmospheres and classical piano melodies foreshadow the advent of wicked rhythmic dynamics fueled by blackened & gothic rock influences and surrounded by palpable mysterious gloom as impossibly catchy guitars skillfully craft powerful melodic grooves that definitely hold a vintage rock essence but undoubtedly belong to an occult sonic realm populated by creepy unnamable figures in black.

On “Cries From The Underworld” you can fully appreciate some dominant retro rock textures mixed to classic horror themes that render this track quite accessible as guitars favor melodic aesthetics with refined attitude or a more flamboyant groove while the inner immense creepiness remains a constant element as darkness descends with ruthless honesty through recurring atmospheric layers.

“Lacrimosa” ensures a more aggressive fiercely blackened sonic approach as guitars acquire steady heavier dynamics but also concoct a particularly elegant melodic hymn to decadence with a dreadfully charismatic composition that offers an ensemble of deliciously kaleidoscopic harmonies further enhanced by mystical chants & complex baroque atmospheres.

As if vampyres were dancing under the blood moon “The World” drags the listeners through a perilous spellbinding gothic realm where, once again, guitars lead the show providing hypnotizing retro goth grooves and seductive melodic tapestries always enriched by the blackened grimness of vicious growls.

Right from the beginning “Here Be Dragons” feels like a grim fairytale as it is filled with an artsy mixture of gothic decadence and vintage rock flavors that will remain entwined through a whirlwind of dramatic instrumental passages where a mournful cathartic darkness pervades the super groovy quintessence of eclectic guitars constantly embellished by an exquisite ensemble of classical strings and obscurely elaborate synths resulting in a sumptuously ravishing piece of music.

Listening to “Down Below” you will notice how any attempt to overanalyze and force genre categorization becomes simply futile as like avant-garde meticulous alchemists Tribulation developed an exciting music formula made of dark magic and thrilling grooves perennially full of arcane splendor and ultimately meant to be utterly addictive.

Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs

Known as pioneers of Oriental metal Orphaned Land have recently celebrated their 25th anniversary and the latest epic endeavor “Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs”, conceptually based on Plato’s allegory of the cave and the noticeable pattern of revolutionary figures being assassinated through history, is another proof of the band’s unique music pathway and charismatic songwriting style.

The grandiose album opener “The Cave” starts with softly contemplative atmospheres swiftly followed by rich Middle Eastern flavors that constantly influence the opulent melodic textures and the majestic orchestrations. Sharp guitar riffs provide groovy rhythmic patterns that support vicious primordial growls but the intricate blend of stylish melodies and sumptuous orchestral arrangements definitely hold a more dominant role accompanied by solemn choirs and Kobi Farhi’s heartfelt clean vocal delivery.

On “We Do Not Resist” the anger towards the global sociopolitical situation and human ignorance becomes extremely palpable as relentless growls and thick inflamed guitar driven grooves dominate the song’s structure yet there are more peaceful moments provided by enticing Oriental harmonies & atmospheric accents.

“In Propaganda” stands out for the stylish luminous acoustic guitar work heightened by triumphant choirs and magnificent orchestrations evoking particularly enchanting Oriental harmonies and effortlessly flowing through softer rhythmic passages or the occasional crunchy riffage.

Featuring a remarkable guitar solo performed by guest guitarist Steve Hackett “Chains Fall To Gravity” acquires softer pensive tonalities offering a memorable blend of poignant atmospheric layers and eclectic prog rock moments following flamboyant tempo variations while the whole instrumentation is always surrounded by charming Oriental melodic passages.

The intriguing vocal duet featuring guest vocalist Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian and the sophisticated melodic guitar progressions amplify the theatrical & symphonic vibes of “Like Orpheus” which was released as first single and certainly represents some primary elements of the band’s signature style flawlessly blending Middle Eastern cultural heritage and modern prog oriented guitar work.

“My Brother’s Keeper” holds a purely melancholic essence enhanced by subtle atmospheric layers and lavish orchestrations but also showcases an enticing series of guitar prog style dynamics shifting from tight riffing to shimmering melodies and Kobi’s spoken verses acquire a dramatic delivery adding emotional depth while unrestrained growls carry a profound fury.

Featuring guest vocalist Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates “Only The Dead Have Seen The End of War” is characterized by mystical atmospheres continuously embellished by Middle Eastern harmonies as well as dazzling orchestrations but also a deeper darkened essence evokes inexorable madness and pervades the more aggressive rhythmic patterns built by a noticeably heavier ensemble of guitar riffs & drumming.

“Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs” is definitely a protest album where music becomes a way to spread an important message uniting people all over the world and with extraordinary craftsmanship, attention for details and authentic passion Orphaned Land deliver a truly enthralling opus that will certainly become a must have for their faithful fans.

Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

Swedish black metal outfit Watain, among controversy & mixed reactions, has relentlessly conquered a seminal status in the current metal scene with their bloody live ceremonies and the chosen unrestrained extreme music pathway that is absolutely evident on the latest effort “Trident Wolf Eclipse”.

“Nuclear Alchemy” marks a ferocious promising beginning with an overdose of fast riffing & drumming blasting from the most ominous depths of black metal. Scattered creepy guitar leads and diabolical growls actively contribute to the overall atmosphere which simply feels like a hymn to pure darkness as the band fully embraces an intense blackened essence.

“Sacred Damnation” again is fueled by raw blackened energy perfectly expressed by tight guitar riffing and a thunderous rhythmic backbone that just seems unstoppable with signature cold melodic tonalities that further intensify the sinister atmospheric arrangements.

“Teufelsreich” is filled with somber Nordic vibes as guitars focus on the creation of melodic tapestries while tempo shifts from contemplative soundscapes to sheer blackened classic dynamics ensuring the dominant presence of a bold faster groove.

On “Ultra (Pandemoniac)” a sulfurous stench permeates the whole instrumental blackness as fierce guitar riffs diligently follow punishing fast rhythmic patterns and untamed guitar leads provide extra chaotic vibes.

With traditional cold tonalities “Towards The Sanctuary” evokes oppressive soundscapes as the whole rhythmic ensemble focuses mainly on viciously blackened dynamics ensuring a breathless sonic realm yet guitars also manage to elaborate haunting melodic phrases and intriguing variations.

On “Trident Wolf Eclipse” Watain is not necessarily trying to deliver a breakthrough album but rather reconfirms a determined devotion towards the beloved black metal realm showing that faithful acolytes can always trust the band to create a purely uncompromising extreme work of music.

Witchery – I Am Legion

Over two decades of existence is already a great achievement but Swedish extreme metallers Witchery still have a lot to say and with a revamped line-up and hard work the new full length “I Am Legion” emerges from the expected blackened abyss.

The sinister lead single “True North” is rightfully Introduced by the massive traditional crunchy blackened metal guitar riffing of “Legion”. With creepy keyboards and absolutely cold vibes “True North” showcases familiar bold grooves with thick black n’ roll riffing galore and diabolical growls that acquire surprising catchy tonalities in the chorus while the refined guitar solo channels melodic nuances.

“Of Blackened Wing” features hints of traditional doom oriented patterns moving at a slower comfortable pace but still favors the expected blackened essence as drums fiercely pick up speed followed by confidently vicious growls and guitar driven grooves.

With ritualistic vibes and devilish growls “Dry Bones” continues to unleash a crescendo of fiery guitar riffs that easily builds entertaining Nordic influenced rhythms and maintains a pleasantly dark mood even when a fancy guitar solo steals the spotlight.

On “A Faustian Deal” the unrestrained black n’ roll whirlwind becomes quite dominant as catchiness and heaviness collide to create a dazzling blend of gloomy melodies and icy cold riffing that deliver several memorable groovy moments.

Instead “Ragnarok” prefers to focus on an old school raw black metal approach that aims for faster rhythmic sections and ravenous galloping guitar riffs while another shredding guitar solo briefly interferes with such untamed blackened fury.

Creating music since 1996 Witchery has established a solid status in the metal scene and while “I Am Legion” might not be classified as an innovative work of music it still confirms that the blackened essence of the band is intact and ready to be unleashed worldwide with a renewed energetic blast.

Butcher Babies – Lilith

Renowned for the intense live performances, Los Angeles based act Butcher Babies continues to evolve triggering mixed feeling among the hard to please metal crowd and deliberately diverging from the biased image of female fronted bands with the third full length “Lilith” which is not just meant to unleash an overdose of pure anger.

“Burn The Straw Man” certainly features some modern trendy metal elements with extremely crunchy distorted guitars and heavy bass lines readily amplified by undoubtedly vicious vocals courtesy of the explosive duo Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey who will lead you into temptation throughout the album.

The title track creates an enjoyable contrast between lascivious clean vocals and fierce screams while subtle arrangements offer atmospheric layers to support the heavier belligerent guitar riffing and the somber catchy melodic vibes.

On the hot single “Headspin” malicious melodies take the lead enhanced by passionate sensual vocals and dreamy atmospheres that reach a modern metal acme with an actually accessible and memorable chorus that temporarily puts aside the usual inflamed fury.

“The Huntsman” is a creepy fairytale featuring softer atmospheres and vocals scattered through the expected brutal instrumental sections and the resulting haunting mood is definitely more appealing than the traditional metal approach.

“Controller” revolves around a series of addictive guitar driven grooves that borrow the extreme angst of decades of metal as well as trendy moments while Heidi & Carla focus on a wicked vocal delivery and impress the listeners with savage screams.

“Look What We’ve Done” still has some straightforward heavy metal punch but Butcher Babies show a more emotive side favoring atmospheric vibes and higher melodic clarity with the right dosage of melancholy infused guitars and a mix of powerful and quite graceful vocals.

Overall, channeling a wide range of music influences Butcher Babies packs “Lilith” with an unrestrained blend of aggressive metal and catchy modern melodies but let’s not forget that the great entertaining value of this album comes from the hard work and undisputed charisma of vocalists Heidi and Carla.

Savage Messiah – Hands Of Fate

British metallers Savage Messiah return with the fourth full length “Hands Of Fate” which definitely focuses on renowned energetic dynamics of classic heavy metal ardently combined with subtle heartfelt melodies and thrash oriented heavier patterns.

The title track is an ideal opener including the major characteristics and mood of the whole album as Savage Messiah fearlessly puts together loads of guitar driven catchy grooves that bear classic metal tonalities embellished by a big memorable chorus and some wilder guitar tricks.

“Blood Red Road” keeps a similar mid paced rhythmic approach with occasional high impact thrash accents but also some pleasantly polished melodic guitars that eventually culminate in an entertaining solo rampage.

“Lay Down Your Arms” tends to slow down as guitars acquire sophisticated melodic quality and the overall mood becomes emotionally darker but there are still plenty of groovy riffs to enjoy.

“The Last Confession” doesn’t necessarily sacrifice the usual heavier riffage but definitely favors an almost dramatic melodic approach with smooth guitar leads and some mellow vocals that acquire higher energy in the memorable chorus.

Despite the scattered chunky guitar riffs “Out Of Time” becomes more atmospheric with a softer introspective mood enriched by a quieter rhythmic section, lavish guitar melodies and a melancholic yet catchy chorus.

With cohesive songwriting “Hands Of Fate” primarily revolves around the creation of widely accessible catchy grooves and borderline ‘happy’ mood that might not sound extremely unique at times nevertheless Savage Messiah will certainly gain more followers with this new album.

Grave Pleasures – Motherblood

Dwelling in a darkly romantic limbo of post-punk and goth/death rock Finnish band Grave Pleasures has crafted the new macabre dance floor music ensemble “Motherblood” in an isolated studio surrounded by the bleak British countryside.

The enjoyable album opener “Infatuation Overkill” is filled with retro goth flavors as dirty guitar riffs relentlessly build a catchy rhythm amplified by an addictive rebellious chorus.

“Doomsday Rainbows” continues to channel a groovy vintage flare and vocals stand out with a wildly entertaining post-punk delivery while guitars never fail to deliver extremely catchy melodies.

“Be My Hiroshima” easily fits in the dark romance category as it evokes an exquisite goth mood spiced up by an exciting punkish chorus and guitars skillfully deliver an irresistible series of melodic hooks.

Stuck in a groovy loop “Joy Through Death” builds a thrilling post- apocalyptic rhythm suitable for a macabre dance party and the moody guitar melodies carry fascinating dark tones in proper goth fashion.

“Atomic Christ” becomes dramatic with intense gloomy atmospheres and theatrical narratives while guitar riffs & melodies smoothly flow through a darkened mist with understated cathartic strength.

Listening to “Motherblood” you can always perceive the profound dark tonalities of misery and Grave Pleasures also demonstrates the ability to create loads of hypnotic danceable grooves.

Implore – Subjugate

Blackened death metal grinders Implore aim to impress the extreme metal scene with the brutally intense sophomore release “Subjugate”.

“Birth Of An Era” stars with a somber atmosphere that introduces a blistering concoction of furious blackened guitar riffs marching through a breathless tight rhythm while fierce growls evoke a monumental wrath.

“Paradox” showcases some technical death metal guitar work that brings diverse tonalities and breaks the aggressive somehow monotone rhythmic structure.

“Disconnected From Ourselves” continues the extreme death metal oriented patterns with guitar riffs & solo full of uncompromised rage and speed while vicious vocals engage in a social revolt through music.

“Patterns To Follow” runs on sharp vicious guitar driven rhythms but there are a subtle sense of melody and technical elements in the guitar leads that evoke a grave mood.

“Desolated Winds” bears an overdose of anger and discontent with fast grindcore infused guitar progressions while the whole instrumentation marches with fierce brutality through a blackened sonic realm.

“Gazing Beyond” closes the album with massive fury embodied by relentless enraged growls and the usual tight guitar riffing that matches the dismal apocalyptic vibes.

Focusing almost exclusively on an inexorable concoction of brutally heavy tunes and anger against the grotesque society we are forced to endure, Implore doesn’t really deliver a necessary musical variety nevertheless “Subjugate” will absolutely satisfy your thirst for ferocious moshpit inducing metal tunes.