Batushka – Hospodi

The mysterious Polish band Batushka quickly conquered attention and critical acclaim within the underground metal scene therefore since the announcement of the sophomore release “Hospodi” it has become clear that this would be one of the most anticipated albums of the year. As “Hospodi” triumphantly emerges from the depths of darkness its genesis is surrounded by a strong mysticism and inspired by Eastern Orthodox liturgical music but the major schism within the band and the consequent divided fanbase might unfortunately distract the listeners from fully comprehending the immersive essence of this album.

The monumental liturgy symbolized by “Dziewiatyj Czas” aims to conjure the album’s darkest essence through a loop of captivating melodies that will eventually evolve into a more aggressive instrumental core that certainly bears the mark of traditional black metal just like the deeply anguished growls while obviously the chanted vocals create an intense mystical aura.

“Wieczernia” still preserves the decadent mixture of abrasive blackened momentum and solemn transcendent atmosphere accompanied by Gregorian style chants but adds a generous dosage of groovy rock rhythmic dynamics that sound more accessible in the midst of faster menacing guitar riffs.

“Powieczerje” has the fervour of a spiritual experience building darkened aesthetics with an intense blend of mournful guitar melodies that can also sound quite catchy and multilayered arcane chants that naturally emphasize the expression of tormented emotions.

“Utrenia” feels more enigmatic with an overdose of occult atmospheric nuances enriched by the occasional blasts of blackened fury courtesy of merciless rhythmic twists and diabolical growls yet maintains a remarkable melodic essence that flourishes through the dramatic guitar progressions.

“Pierwyj Czas” will inevitably convey anguished feelings due to the faster and absolutely vicious rhythmic segments once again clearly inspired by old school black metal so what really makes a difference here is the sudden introspective momentum and the underlying semi religious atmospheres.

“Liturgiya” closes the arcane ceremony accentuating the funereal vibes with the doom laden weight of the imposing guitar riffs and the essential ominous chants that definitely sound like prayers for the dead lingering through the hypnotic slow burning melodies.

At this point it would make more sense to focus on the strong obscure force of “Hospodi” and put aside any drama or gossip surrounding Batushka because music always has a more important value as you will certainly notice listening carefully to this majestic new opus.

 

Cattle Decapitation Live in Joliet

Now in its 13th year as a tour, The Summer Slaughter Tour at The Forge in Joliet featured Cattle Decapitation triple co-headlining alongside Carnifex and The Faceless. Cattle Decapitation never fails to bring fans a ruthless, crushing performance, and this show was no exception. Fans were able to hear old favorites as well as new tracks from their highly anticipated album due in November, “Death Atlas.” “One Day Closer to the End of the World” and “Time’s Cruel Curtain” were two previews of what’s to come.

 

Arch / Matheos – Winter Ethereal

Progressive rock virtuosos John Arch and Jim Matheos, renowned for their work in Fates Warning, have joined forces under the Arch / Matheos banner to create a stylish immersive collection of songs on the sophomore album “Winter Ethereal”.

The monumental album opener “Vermillion Moons” truly holds a passionate soul that fully comes to life since the very beginning through smoldering guitar melodies that will continue to add melancholic aesthetics and emphasize the dazzling vocal delivery generating a stunning emotional whirlwind but there are also memorable heavier grooves carefully crafted by bold guitar riffs.

“Wanderlust” provides a fair dose of catchy energetic rhythmic patterns that certainly showcase the flawless musicianship further emphasized by the elegant polished guitar solos while the shimmering melodic waves evoke poignant feelings matched by the perfect high pitched vocals.

“Wrath Of The Universe” has a prominent heavier approach in fact the fiery guitar work provides loads of intense crunchy riffs following faster rhythmic segments supported by precise drumming and enriched by interesting fancy prog twists but also features some bright melodic guitar phrases amplified by Arch’s vibrant vocal harmonies.

On “Pitch Black Prism” the atmosphere becomes quite gloomy due to the dramatic vocal delivery and the refined bittersweet guitar melodies yet this is not a simple slow & sad track as the explosive rhythmic segments ensure solid bursts of energy often focusing on majestic prog metal acrobatics.

With a particularly intricate structure “Kindred Spirits” symbolizes the album’s music direction with the allure of flourishing melodic essence and an evident progressive metal grandeur that lead to diverse instrumental progressions as guitars naturally & skillfully shift from heavier riffage to profoundly contemplative moments without forgetting to add a generous dose of sophisticated shredding and certainly such contrasting aspects are well expressed also by the wide range of Arch’s vocal performance.

Considering that in the progressive rock/metal circles Arch and Matheos are known since many years for their exceptional talent “Winter Ethereal” certainly reflects all their skills offering a balanced blend of impeccable prog dynamics and emotionally driven melodic passages.

Allegaeon – Apoptosis

Despite several line up changes Allegaeon showcase a renewed intense creative force that generates the compelling nuances and crushing dynamics of the latest full length “Apoptosis”.

“Parthenogenesis” is more than just an instrumental album intro as it marks a fierce beginning that proves the band’s stellar musicianship ensuring a variegated sonic realm where technical guitar progressions create massive grooves and calmer acoustic moments evoke somber feelings.

On “Interphase // Meiosis” the whole instrumentation certainly emphasizes a profound darkness through the faster rhythmic segments, the belligerent guitar driven grooves and the hellish growls embellished by an irresistible shredding galore and loads of tasteful technical elements.

“Extremophiles (B)” can sound absolutely merciless as technical guitars and monumental bass lines confidently build vicious grooves channeling the band’s death metal roots with the clever addition of inventive prog style accents and brief melancholic phrases.

On “Tsunami and Submergence” the enchanting atmospheric arrangements, the classical inspired arpeggios and the heartfelt clean vocals intensify a melodic grandeur that will seamlessly embrace another round of stunning technical guitar leads and aggressive rhythmic patterns.

“Stellar Tidal Disruption” tends to put the spotlight on the technicality of the vibrant guitar progressions that constantly enrich the super fast thunderous rhythmic sections and render the whole song slightly more accessible especially with the luminous melodic textures of the guitar solos.

The title track symbolizes an ambitious grand finale as spellbinding melodic guitars and immersive atmospheres have the power to captivate the listeners while the winning combo of majestic technical guitar leads and punishing rhythmic blasts keep alive the extreme metal elements recurring throughout the whole album.

Listening attentively to “Apoptosis” you can perceive that Allegaeon focus on a stylish and eclectic songwriting approach that leads to impressively diverse soundscapes blending fascinating melodic sections and moments of sheer brutality.

Týr – Hel

Representing Scandinavian metal since over two decades Týr return with the anticipated eighth full length “Hel” which naturally stays true to the band’s progressive folk metal style and delivers loads of compelling detailed melodic tapestries.

“Gates Of Hel” immediately evokes the massive epic vibes that will recur throughout the entire album starting with graceful polished guitar melodies that introduce entertaining power metal tinged heavy grooves while the irresistible Nordic melancholia will always influence the passionate vocal delivery and the intricate guitar soloing.

“All Heroes Fall” continues to embody the album’s epic grandeur with fierce rhythmic segments and solemn vocals while the melodic aspects revolve around profoundly somber feelings and tasteful guitar progressions featuring truly impressive solos.

“Ragnars Kvæõi” is a traditional Faroese ballad yet the rhythm doesn’t slow down drastically  but certainly the ancient folk spirit is essential deeply influencing the dramatic vocal delivery and the melodious beauty of the guitar leads generating another immensely epic momentum.

Without necessarily sounding like a standard metal ballad “Sunset Shore” has all the elements to become a favorite offering a catchy chorus, plenty of softer melancholia infused guitar melodies and crispy tonalities emphasized by the memorable fancy soloing.

“Empire Of The North” features many heavier groovy moments diligently built by the harsh tones of the guitar riffs and the belligerent drumming yet there are some majestic melodic guitar passages that evoke a major sense of nostalgia with luminous nuances.

On “Songs Of War” the compelling lead guitar work is bound to stand out since the very beginning with technical musicianship and complex progressions while the rest of the song provides a fair dosage of heavy & groovy riffage supported by a bold yet not necessarily super fast rhythmic ensemble.

“Álvur Kongur” is another traditional Faroese ballad that elegantly pays homage to the band’s homeland emphasizing the strong folk roots and Nordic aesthetics through a sophisticated composition that favors dreamy atmospheric textures and extensive fascinating guitar melodies.

Ancient myths and traditions of the Faroe Islands always feel prominent throughout “Hel” as Týr aim to create a triumphant series of epic soundscapes confidently combining utterly heavy instrumental passages and refined harmonies.

Cannibal Corpse Live in Chicago

Renowned death metal band Cannibal Corpse tore through Chicago alongside Morbid Angel during their recent U.S. tour. Easily one of the strongest and most consistent acts over the last 30 years, Cannibal Corpse unleashed a relentless set with several fan favorites highlighting many of their best songs from different points in their career, and ending with none other than the brutal “Hammer Smashed Face”.

 

Ensiferum Live in Joliet

Finnish folk-inspired melodic death metal warriors Ensiferum finally return to North America on the Path To Glory Tour. During the energetic show at The Forge Ensiferum performed “For Those About To Fight for Metal”, “Way Of The Warrior” and the title track from the latest album “Two Paths”, available via Metal Blade Records.