Arkona Live at Bottom Lounge in Chicago

Arkona brought their unique blend of blackened folk metal to Bottom Lounge in Chicago following the release of their latest album, “Khram,” earlier in the year. The band opened with more recent songs like “Shtorm” and “Mantra,” showcasing Masha’s atmospheric chanting and sinister vocals. As the night progressed they moved to more folk-based hits, closing with fan favorites “Yarilo” and “Stenka Na Stenku.” The hour and fifteen minute set allowed Arkona to highlight every aspect of their sound, from black metal instrumentation to traditional Russian folk.

Sirenia – Arcane Astral Aeons

On Sirenia’s ninth studio album “Arcane Astral Aeons” mastermind Morten Veland has carefully crafted for you another dazzling collection of songs and especially on this record Emmanuelle Zoldan proves to be the ideal vocalist for the band.  

“In Styx Embrace” opens the album in grandiose symphonic fashion with majestic arrangements & operatic choirs followed by aptly arcane & solemn melodic guitar work that sumptuously surround Emmanuelle’s shimmering vocals while Morten’s wicked growls amplify a faster harsh rhythmic crescendo.

Featuring guest vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos from Finnish band Beast In Black, “Love Like Cyanide” was released as first single and in fact it’s packed with sweet melodic hooks, the type that unconsciously get stuck in your head, nevertheless it’s not just about catchiness as there is a surprisingly intense blackened momentum that often emerges with an overdose of darkly abrasive guitar riffs and malevolent growls.

“Desire” focuses on melancholic melodies and dreamy atmospheric layers that naturally enhance Emmanuelle’s sultry vocal delivery, especially lovely during the brief very French moment which is surprisingly followed by the contrasting venomous black metal blasts.

“Queen Of Lies” offers a delightful mix of symphonic splendor with the right dosage of triumphant arrangements accompanied by theatrical choirs and heavier guitar riffs matched by Morten’s vicious growls staying true to Sirenia’s renowned music style.

“Aerodyne” is another enjoyable track focusing mainly on the band’s more melodic aspects with loads of refined atmospheric arrangements and smooth guitar work plus it’s really a pleasure to hear the nostalgic vocals performed by former Tristania singer Østen Bergøy.

“Glowing Embers” begins with deeply melancholic acoustic arpeggios that introduce an elegant symphonic sonic realm where lavish operatic choirs and Emmanuelle’s emotive vocal performance evoke intensely dramatic nuances enhanced by variegated opulent arrangements.

“Arcane Astral Aeons” truly benefits from the great band chemistry that probably fueled Morten’s creative force as on this album there is a perfect equilibrium between darkness and light, a world of contrasting feelings naturally embodied by the fascinating blend of symphonic melodies and harsh metal elements.

Wolfheart – Constellation Of The Black Light

Winter metal is back and is here to stay as Finnish band Wolfheart, fronted by multi-instrumentalist Tuomas Saukkonen, return with the epic soundscapes of the new effort “Constellation Of The Black Light” which has all the elements and the intensity necessary to leave a mark in the current metal scene.

Already with the massive mini opus that is the album opener “Everlasting Fall” it becomes clear that this new music journey will be quite impressive. Starting with the perfect dose of immensely melancholic arpeggios and wintry atmospheric nuances Wolfheart creates an authentic Nordic soundscape later shaped by elegant orchestrations followed by the extra cold tonalities of sharp guitar riffs and more ferocious blackened rhythmic sections that will be aptly enhanced by monumental growls, yet an inspired melodic ensemble featuring soothing sorrowful lead melodic guitars will always emerge through such waves of remarkable faster relentless grooves.

Since the very beginning “Breakwater” unleashes pure blackened fury as frenetic guitar riffs dominate the song’s structure yet the enchanting softer acoustic moments and the refined orchestral tapestries lingering in the background continue to hold the same passionate melancholy that feels so crucial within the whole album.

When “The Saw” begins tempo is considerably slowed down to focus more on the emotive & sad melodies naturally crafted by waves of dismal guitar riffs, detailed acoustic harmonies and sophisticated orchestral arrangements but the band is also ready to offer several heavier instrumental dynamics and wrathful growls.

With roaring drums “Warfare” gets you ready for the battlefield with faster enraged grooves yet such aggressive approach and ardent feelings are ultimately balanced by the graceful melodic grandeur created by recurring charming lead guitars and sumptuous orchestrations.

Among fiery guitar riffs a profound melancholy is meant to have an essential role on the closing track “Valkyrie” where the vibrant melodic lead guitar work will certainly stand out for the poignant tonalities and the smooth musicianship surrounded by shrouds of cold nostalgia courtesy of emotional atmospheric arrangements and piano phrases.

In terms of songwriting Wolfheart has certainly reached higher levels as “Constellation Of The Black Light” is a triumph of harmonious darkness and heartfelt emotions, something you will desperately need to comfort you during the upcoming long winter nights.

Monster Magnet Live in Chicago

We’ve been anxiously waiting too many years but Monster Magnet is finally touring in North America supporting the new brilliant album “Mindfucker”. The legendary true rocker Mr. Dave Wyndorf and his talented band offered a stellar live performance at Bottom Lounge in Chicago opening the show with the stoner rock attitude of the classic track “Dopes To Infinity”. The faithful fans really loved also the new songs “Rocket Freak”, “Soul”, “When The Hammer Comes Down” and, as expected, went wild during the timeless hits “Space Lord”, “Powertrip” and “Negasonic Teenage Warhead”. When Monster Magnet performed the iconic & unforgettable “Spine Of God” Dave effortlessly hypnotized the entire audience guiding us through a profound space trip. We really hope to see again Monster Magnet as soon as possible, meanwhile don’t miss a chance to catch them live now on this North American tour!

Moonspell Live at The Forge in Joliet

North America is under the spell as Moonspell fiercely return celebrating the release of the new album “1755” and the massive live set “Lisboa Under The Spell”. North American fans surely missed the band’s signature gothic metal style that felt particularly dramatic when Moonspell performed the new songs “Em Nome De Medo” and “In Tremor Dei” and closed the show with the charismatic classic “Full Moon Madness”.

Shylmagoghnar – Transience

Dutch atmospheric black metal duo Shylmagoghnar has generated a lot of interest with the debut album “Emergence” back in 2014 and now they proudly return with the extensive intricacy of the sophomore effort “Transience”.

The title track begins with fascinating atmospheric arrangements creating the right suspense for the incoming blackened force of the tormented growls and the chaotic rhythmic section that will often acquire roaring tones and audacious speed yet there will be loads of enchanting melodic guitars ready to weave melancholy infused harmonies further embellished by a pensive piano piece.

Emerging from a forgotten darkened realm the fury of “As All Must Come To Pass” is introduced by grave bass phrases and subtle atmospheres. Soon multiple rounds of tight guitar riffs and mighty drums will channel primordial blackened dynamics accompanied by particularly ominous growls yet a symphonic splendor will contribute to a recurring crucial theatrical melodic ensemble .

Still drenched in agonizing darkness “No Child Of Man Could Follow” features strong contemplative atmospheres and instead of going immediately full blown black metal favors a steady triumphant rhythmic march and an increasingly cold melodic spirit constantly channeled by the melo-death inspired guitar work.  

With meditative vibes and moody harmonies “Journey Through The Fog” can feel rather hazy & gloomy before picking up fierce groovy dynamics yet the melodic core seems to be more dominant as the winning combo of guitars & keyboards confidently create diverse textures blending solemn tonalities and ethereal atmospheres.

The lengthy instrumental final track “Life” is a mini stand alone opus that smoothly assembles all the key elements of the band’s sonic vision. For over thirteen minutes the band manages to grab the listeners’ attention shaping magical melodies through the ardent guitar work that while showcasing a taste for modern atmospheric black metal effortlessly goes beyond the genre’s standard structure to explore refreshing feelings and tonalities. Certainly the skillful guitar work ranging from harsh riffage to lavish harmonies will often stand out while multiple dreamy moments and the final atmospheric vibes will add further emotional quality.

From beginning to end “Transience” focuses on a balanced mix of aggressive blackened force and eerie melodic soundscapes and Shylmagoghnar are clearly eager to conquer the underground metal scene demonstrating an intriguing creativity.

Candlemass – House Of Doom

Swedish doom metal pioneers Candlemass will finally release a new full length in fall 2018 but while you’re anxiously waiting you can have a taste of authentic epic doom with the EP aptly entitled “House Of Doom” which contains four tracks that will simply delight the band’s faithful fans.

Starting a descent into darkness the title track aims to satisfy your appetite for true timeless doom metal, yet rest assured that this is not just a revival of the golden days as Candlemass sound extremely relevant and actually necessary in the modern metal scene. Thick darkened guitar riffs lead the way to a familiar sense of impending doom yet despite the profoundly somber tonalities the whole instrumentation effortlessly create catchy grooves further enhanced by the gloomy splendor of the hammond organ melodies adding extra eerie vibes that introduce the epic shredded guitar solo while Mats Levén proves to be an extraordinarily charismatic vocalist for Candlemass.

With haunting towering guitar riffs “Flowers Of Deception” ensures an untamed dismal doom with signature slow and majestic heavy tonalities yet the song showcases also great sonic variety with slick tempo changes leading to fiery grooves and a fervent guitar solo as well as moments of sheer melancholy where bass lines evoke a mysterious aura and Mats’s vocals become particularly passionate with a dramatic delivery.

“Fortuneteller” is not a standard acoustic ballad but certainly puts aside the monumental doom textures to channel an exquisite melancholic warmth with fragile minimalist phrases and subtle folk flavors which allow Mats’s sublime voice and heartbreaking delivery to steal the spotlight.

The instrumental final track “Dolls On A Wall” begins with an overdose of monolithic guitar riffs in perfect doom fashion, consequently the atmosphere becomes perilously obscure as guitars impeccably maintain a heavy mournful groove spiced up by the compelling gloomy dynamics of the guitar solo.

Listening to “House Of Doom” you will long for more and immediately realize that mastermind Leif Edling is back with brilliant ideas as Candlemass appear in excellent shape eager to reconfirm their seminal status in the metal scene.
House Of Doom