Legion Of The Damned – Slaves Of The Shadow Realm

Veteran Dutch extreme metal outfit Legion Of The Damned is proud to unleash an overload of raw energy and undiluted darkness with the colossal seventh studio album “Slaves Of The Shadow Realm”.  

“The Widows Breed” can sound truly aggressive channeling an old school thrash intensity that will trigger instant headbanging with its fast belligerent rhythmic section and the sharp neckbreaker guitar riffs while the lead guitar work is characterized by utterly somber tonalities.

The merciless force behind “Nocturnal Commando” becomes immediately evident with loads of harsh guitar riffs, hellish vocals and ferocious drumming that build a furious heavy rhythmic core interrupted only by scattered dismal guitar leads.

“Slaves Of The Southern Cross” continues to effortlessly showcase a thunderous rhythmic core yet the whole instrumentation often follows a slower tempo to emphasize the ominous vibes generated by blackened guitar tonalities and diabolical vocals.

“Shadow Realm Of The Demonic Mind” begins with a melancholic piano piece but never really leaves behind the extreme metal approach as guitars gallop relentlessly offering all kinds of vicious riffs.

“Priest Hunt” surprises with a eerie & triumphant symphonic intro that will be followed by a solid round of groovy guitar riffs but when the rhythm slows down the dramatic guitar leads and darkly melodic accents definitely steal the spotlight.

“Dark Coronation” is full of tight fierce riffs as guitars still hold a dominant role through the punishing rhythmic progressions which are spiced up by some intensely grave leads while the profoundly dark finale features elegant & mysterious atmospheric arrangements.

Full speed and heaviness are essential throughout the entire sonic assault offered by “Slaves Of The Shadow Realm” yet Legion Of The Damned is also interested in the creation of monumental darkened melodic & atmospheric moments that certainly match and enhance the general obscure mood.

Jinjer – Micro

Following massive touring cycles Ukrainian band Jinjer has managed to conquer a wider fanbase therefore this is the perfect time to release new music and while waiting for the next full length the EP “Micro” will satisfy your need for groovy prog metal.

“Ape” was the first acclaimed single released from this EP and certainly stands out for the massive fury generated by an intense & intricate rhythmic core full of harsh guitar riffs and groovy bass lines while Tatiana’s growls can sound absolutely brutal and her enchanting melodic cleans perfectly match the song’s contemplative moments.

“Dreadful Moments” is definitely the darkest song on the EP with the profound melancholy expressed by bittersweet clean vocals but is also characterized by impressive prog elements as all instruments effortlessly shift from wilder aggressive rhythmic segments to emotionally charged harmonies.

With an evident intricate songwriting approach “Teacher, Teacher!” shines for the eclectic nature as unusual tempo variations can even lead to breakneck speed and loads of crazy & groovy rhythmic progressions certainly showcase a solid prog inspiration while guitars can also deliver smooth darkened melodies embellished by heartfelt clean vocals.

Since the very beginning “Perennial” can feel utterly dramatic as the rhythm is often significantly slowed down to enhance the lovely introspective textures and fascinating guitar melodies enriched by Tatiana’s charismatic clean vocal delivery but this track will offer also some monumental harsh grooves and wicked growls.

Considered to be a breakthrough band in the current metal scene, the future looks bright for Jinjer and they definitely worked hard to achieve the unique sonic identity that naturally leads to the complex and compelling dynamics of “Micro”.

John Garcia – John Garcia And The Band Of Gold

You all know John Garcia as vocalist of legendary Kyuss and founder of desert rock institutions such as Unida, Slo-Burn, Hermano and Vista Chino, now with The Band Of Gold John is ready to deliver an explosive new album that definitely represents his music legacy.

From beginning to end John delivers a memorable vocal performance on “Jim’s Whiskers” which is literally full of those irresistible desert rock vibes as gritty guitar riffs and raw energy naturally lead to entertaining solos and plenty of stoner grooves that could go on forever.

The groovy galore continues relentlessly with “Kentucky II” and the guitar work inevitably  stands out for the dirty rock soul and the slow burning melodic phrases as we are still jamming in the middle of the desert accompanied by John’s unique vocals.

While “My Everything” certainly focuses on another remarkable series of guitar driven grooves fueled by a charismatic stoner rock approach and John’s passionate vocals often steal the spotlight there is also a hypnotizing melodic momentum featuring dreamy guitar tonalities.  

It’s so easy to love the vibrant desertfest groovy core of “Popcorn (Hit Me When You Can)” which is obviously packed with gritty guitars supported by an impeccable wild rhythmic section and extra energetic vocals.

Following the album’s natural dusty rock mood “Cheyletiella” offers an overdose of killer hooks courtesy of galloping guitar riffs and a major addictive chorus while later a soulful melodic breakdown will generate an intensely hypnotic mood emphasized by the trippy guitar soloing and the mellow vocals.

Everything slows down significantly on “Softer Side” which closes the album with an authentic psychedelic sonic trip that relies mainly on hazy tonalities, lovely warm melodic guitars and a laid back vocal delivery which will make you space out for good.

With this new incarnation the return of John Garcia feels like the fascinating desert rock journey we’ve been longing for, hopefully this is not a swansong and we will hear more music from John and The Band Of Gold in the future meanwhile you should play this record loud preferably on vinyl.

Skálmöld – Sorgir

Icelandic vikings Skálmöld triumphantly return with the sixth studio album “Sorgir” which takes you on an epic Nordic music adventure celebrating the traditions and the beauty of their motherland.

The bold rhythmic core of the album opener “Ljósið” naturally dictates a wintry mood further amplified by majestic chants and powerful growls and it’s like warriors are in position for the next bloody battle surrounded by the somber tonalities of soaring guitar riffs.  

“Brúnin” revolves around groovy rhythmic sections with a fiery round of extra heavy guitar riffs that fluently maintain an enraged mood yet solemn chants are still present to enhance the viking spirit while the charismatic guitar solo is all about wild shredding and melodic vibes.

“Gangári” can be faster and even vicious with incessant guitar driven grooves and primordial growls until lead guitars shift the focus to soothing melancholic melodies and entertaining crispy soloing.  

The nostalgic guitar phrases at the beginning of “Móri” foreshadows the gloomy melodic ensemble that will hold a crucial role throughout the song and become especially prominent during the atmospheric breakdown nevertheless the band still delivers a proper viking metal framework with aggressive rhythmic segments and belligerent growls.  

With a heavy structure “Mara” showcases many solemn moments featuring folk inspired acoustic guitar passages that naturally channel mystical vibes while the guitar solo here is particularly memorable with plenty of shredding as well as a shimmering melodic approach.

Listening to “Sorgir” you might need to be ready for a battle on snowy mountains as this is a full blown viking metal album and Skálmöld share their chosen music pathway with genuine passion and devotion.

Unleashed – The Hunt For White Christ

Swedish death metal vikings Unleashed return with the the new release “The Hunt For White Christ” which follows the storyline of the World of Odalheim and their Midgard warriors, authored by vocalist / bass player Johnny Hedlund.

There are no special effects on “Lead Us Into War” but this fierce album opener hits you in the face with relentless guitar riffs, menacing rhythmic blasts and generous shredding leads channeling a ready for battle mood.

“You Will Fall” features moments of profound melancholy with slower atmospheric phrases but the band is still ready to smash everything with the expected bold guitar riffing leading the way to a series of soaring rhythmic assaults.

The extremely somber Nordic tonalities of “Gram” add sonic depth and solemn atmospheric accents to the main aggressive rhythmic segments and once again the blistering guitar solo will grab your attention.

Beside the massive traditional death metal momentum on “The City Of Jorsala Shall Fall” there are contemplative and ominous vibes, always amplified by the cavernous growls, flowing through the ravenous guitar riffs and wild soloing.

While “By The Western Wall” keeps the vicious death metal vibes alive the compelling guitar solo delivers calmer melodic passages creating a rather somber mood that will be enhanced by the final acoustic phrases.

“Open To All The World” prepares the album grand finale with crushing rhythmic dynamics relying on savage drumming and fiery guitar riffs in classic death metal style followed by enjoyable guitar melodies and utterly epic atmospheres.

As the band approaches the 30th anniversary “The Hunt For White Christ” impeccably stays true to Unleashed signature music style confidently delivering a collection of solid death metal anthems.  

Beyond The Black – Heart Of The Hurricane

While many are not familiar yet with symphonic metal act Beyond The Black they have been working hard to conquer a spot in the current scene and the ambitious new release “Heart Of The Hurricane” definitely aims to reach a wider audience worldwide.

“Hysteria” opens the album triumphantly drawing inspiration from the successful symphonic metal formula so the band puts together loads of atmospheric & theatrical arrangements simply entwined with tranquil guitar melodies, flamboyant soloing and energetic rhythmic sections.

While the title track begins with crunchy guitar riffing it will still maintain a fundamental catchy melodic core embellished by subtle atmospheric layers that favors Jennifer Haben’s pleasant vocal performance.

“Song For The Godless” amplifies the epic vibes with a massive dose of dramatic keyboards arrangements and certainly follows a familiar symphonic formula focusing on melancholic melodic splendor that allows Jennifer’s emotive vocals to shine.

The symphonic realm of “Beneath A Blackened Sky” features solemn operatic choirs and sumptuous keyboards but later goes back to an accessible melodic ensemble spiced up by the fancy guitar solo.

On “Fairytale Of Doom” guitars can become more dominant delivering fierce riffage and dazzling soloing within a powerful rhythmic crescendo yet the catchy chorus leaves behind the song’s darker & solemn vibes.

“Scream For Me” is another entertaining tune that offers bittersweet melodies and soothing atmospheres revolving around passionate vocals yet eventually adds heavier & wilder rhythmic moments to the emotional core.

“Freedom” immediately feels darker due to the occasional growls and steady crunchy guitar riffs marching through the highly somber atmospheric arrangements nevertheless the instrumental work maintains a vibrant melodic flow.

“Heart Of The Hurricane” is a safe album that contains all the key elements of symphonic metal therefore devoted lovers of this music genre will appreciate what Beyond The Black has diligently crafted.

Conan – Existential Void Guardian

British trio Conan are already well known and appreciated for the trademark Caveman Battle Doom music style that is once again wildly unleashed on the new album “Existential Void Guardian” which also includes four bonus live tracks.

The unmistakable arcane misery of doom fills the atmosphere on “Prosper On The Path” as Conan creates a thick overwhelming rhythm through a series of menacing guitar driven grooves that diligently follow the thunderous drumming pace while the vocals become wretched screams emerging from some forgotten dark cave.

The monolithic pathway of despair continues with “Eye To Eye To Eye” as guitars deliver steady painful sludge tones with occasional bursts of fuzzy energy over fiercely rumbling drums, consequently the whole atmosphere remains absolutely dark.

The relentless fuzzy riffage of “Volt Thrower” aims to build massive stomping grooves surrounded by the right dosage of desperate doom tonalities yet this track feels more impactful due to faster plummeting rhythmic dynamics.

On the lengthy “Eternal Silent Legend” traditional doom elements lead the way through a desolate atmosphere full of heavy slow burning guitar riffs and harrowing melodic waves that inevitably drag the listeners through agonizing hazy progressions amplified by obscure sludge and tribal accents.

In case you had any doubts rest assured that what Conan put together on “Existential Void Guardian” is fiercely monolithic from beginning to end which might sound monotone to the random average listener while the true believers/fans will fully embrace the infamous Caveman Battle Doom.

Jinjer Live in Chicago

It’s been a great year for the talented Ukrainian progressive metal band Jinjer who returned to tour in North America playing for the first time new songs from the upcoming EP  “Micro”, including the acclaimed single “Ape”, that will be released on January 11 2019 via Napalm Records. Check out the live action from their memorable concert at Bottom Lounge in Chicago!

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.