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.


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.

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.

Dark Funeral live in Chicago

After several years of absence Dark Funeral majestically returns to North America and the fans surely missed them. Channeling tremendous blackened force and somber theatrical tones Dark Funeral performed a sold out show at Reggies in Chicago. During the entire show those who were in the crowd were mesmerized and moshpits erupted while Dark Funeral played unforgettable classics such as “Vobiscum Satanas”, “Hail Murder” and “Open The Gates” as well as the latest songs “Unchain My Soul”, “Nail Them to the Cross” and “Where Shadows Forever Reign”. Do not miss Dark Funeral on tour with Septicflesh and Thy Antichrist!

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.