Thy Antichrist – Wrath Of The Beast

Since 1998 US based Black Metallers Thy Antichrist have worked hard to gain a solid status in the underground scene and they are now ready to conquer more fans with the blackened force of the new album “Wrath Of The Beast”.

“Desolation” begins with soulful melancholy perfectly expressed through Spanish style acoustic harmonies which almost serves as an introspective introduction for a burst of untamed blackened energy fueled by thick guitar riffs and punishing drums inevitably leading to a series of blasphemous grooves.

“Metal to The Bone” certainly dwells in the blackest depths with fierce & fast rhythmic patterns that at times feel absolutely oppressive together with utterly ominous growls yet guitar riffs tend to deviate from the typical black metal formula focusing on stomping thrash dynamics.

While the main core of “A World Burnt To Ashes” favors abundantly blackened nuances there are always elegant melodic lead guitars gaining the spotlight through the unstoppable rhythmic fury built by ferocious riffing & drumming and the soothing vibes of acoustic guitars will appear again in the final part of the song.

On “Nightmares” acoustic arpeggios return to evoke pure melancholy and undiluted darkness as the band introduces a more melodic approach effortlessly mixed with bolder rhythmic segments that continue to channel arcane black metal roots.

“Walking Through The Soul” feels quite accessible with its palpable melancholia deeply influencing every instrumental passage as tempo often slows down dramatically to favor a particularly darkened ensemble of guitar melodies and theatrically desperate growls.

The primordial obscurity of traditional black metal is very much alive on “Wrath Of The Beast” yet this album has a lot more to offer as Thy Antichrist are capable of fearlessly experimenting further with multifaceted styles rather than being another standard black metal act in the currently crowded metal scene.


Arkona – Khram

Hailing from Russia Arkona has conquered a prominent status in the metal scene gaining attention for the unique blackened pagan metal style that on the latest effort “Khram” becomes even more epic and intriguing due to the addition of multiple traditional folk instruments and a profoundly mystical aura.

While “Shtorm” offers plenty of aggressive rhythmic patterns built by bold guitar riffing, the melodic elements of this song tend to demand more attention as they move sinuously through a pitch black sonic assault to deliver darkly magical nuances enhanced by a strong folk momentum featuring flute & bagpipe and Masha’s poetic clean vocal delivery.

Far from being an average metal song “Tseluya zhizn’” is a majestic opus that starts with a calmer melodic approach evoking intense spiritual vibes but offers a multifaceted style & songwriting structure effortlessly shifting from blasts of guitar driven blackened grooves to contemplative cathartic moments crafted by darkened atmospheric layers and folk instrumental passages. Matching this fascinating duality, Masha delivers genuinely fiery growls as well as soulful chants that further amplify the dramatic nature of the guitar and strings melodies while towards the end the song enters a highly esoteric sonic realm.

“Rebionok bez imeni” feels immediately darkly poetic with mellow guitar phrases and enchanting atmospheric tones that will lead to a dense obscurity where occasional growls hold primordial blackened strength and guitars continue to maintain a steady melodic momentum enriched by elegantly emotive clean vocal delivery. While the poignant melodic elements of this song will continue to hold a prominent role also with the addition of few remarkable folk oriented passages there is still space for a satisfying dosage of untamed blackened rhythmic fury.

The dark depths of “V pogonie za beloj ten’yu” become palpable right at the beginning with classically lavish piano melodies that create expectations for what is yet to come and will return to throughout the song to provide moments of luminous melancholy. Arkona proceed to channel a relentless blackened essence with purely enraged growls and tight instrumental dynamics that will seamlessly evolve into soothing arpeggios or sorrowful melodies instead of sounding brutal at all costs.

“V ladonyah bogov” features cohesive rhythmic patterns skillfully built by groovy guitar riffs but the atmospheric & mystical essence of the slower mesmerizing ambient moments, minimalist somber melodies and arcane instrumental passages feels like the true highlight of this track evoking an otherworldly realm of mythical/celestial beings.

Overall “Khram” benefits greatly from a mature multifaceted songwriting approach that aims to intrigue the listeners with multiple, at times even unexpected, changes of scenario occurring through each lengthy track yet the essential aspects of Arkona’s renowned music style are easily recognizable.

Heidevolk – Vuur Van Verzet

Dutch Pagan metal brotherhood Heidevolk proudly unleashes a new folkish collection of songs on the full length “Vuur Van Verzet” which promises to get you ready for the battlefield.

Like a story of revolt and resistance “Ontwaakt” brings you solemn warrior chants and fierce guitar riffing that build steady rhythmic dynamics but the highlights can be found in the pagan/folk detailed melodic tapestries featuring charming flutes & strings that continuously emerge throughout the song with undeniable magical vibes.

“A Wolf In My Heart” will become a favorite with a blend of crunchy riffage and enchanting violin while the whole tribe of warriors theme becomes extremely palpable in the various fervent chants and guitars also focus on widely accessible polished melodies.

“The Alliance” has a profound Viking essence with battle ready chants accompanying an upbeat riffage & drumming that does acquire some heavier dynamics in the midst of folk acoustic passages and calmer atmospheric nuances provided by violins.

On the inspired instrumental “Het Oneindige Woud” the band puts aside the usual galloping riffs to evoke enchanted soundscapes with the minimalist elegance of violins and acoustic guitars that put together graceful ethereal harmonies bearing a distinct folk spirit.

The ardent epic mood of “Gungnir” revolves around an empowering rhythmic backbone where guitar riffs keep a steady crushing groove embellished by sophisticated violins, subtle symphonic arrangements and fierce vocal delivery as we are still at the verge of a crucial battle.

The charismatic combo of violin and acoustic arpeggios hold a primary role on “Het Juk Der Tijd” creating the right archaic folk atmosphere that will fuel strong guitar riffs as well as more dramatic melodic textures.

While “Vuur Van Verzet” doesn’t deliver particularly sonic innovations it does shine for the passionate folk mood that will immediately take you to the middle of some unknown forest, most likely with bonfire and Vikings, and Heidevolk showcases an empowering cohesive songwriting approach.

Audrey Horne – Blackout

Norwegian rockers Audrey Horne are known to be highly influenced by ‘70s – ‘80s rock/metal and such stylistic choice certainly continues to be the main focus on the latest full length “Blackout” skillfully packed with all kinds of catchy tunes.

With loads of positive verve “This is War” has what it takes to represent the album as guitar riffs & melodies steal the spotlight crafting enthralling grooves bearing a sparkling 80’s rock/metal mood and leading to a rather catchy big chorus.

“Audrevolution” still relies on super catchy guitar dynamics and crunchy bass lines add extra groovy elements to the upbeat uncomplicated yet absolutely entertaining rhythmic patterns while the guitar solo carries dazzling melodic quality.

The title track focuses more on blending captivating twin guitar harmonies and fancy stylish solos that demand the listeners’ attention while the overall rhythmic section is filled of easy retro classic rock elements resulting in a widely accessible track.

With loads of moody guitar melodies “California” holds a subtle dose of nostalgia and the retro rock style deeply influences the whole instrumentation but guitars also showcase a wild metal edge especially in the vibrant solos.

The danceable synths on “Satellite” reveal that the vintage rock vibe becomes even more palpable here as a slower smooth funky rhythm takes the lead constantly embellished by charismatic guitar work that builds explosive riffage and enticing leads.

“Naysayer” favors a memorable NWOBHM approach where enthusiastic guitars inevitably take the center stage delivering steady sharp riffing, another round of massive twin guitar melodic work and polished compelling solos.

Channeling the undiluted energy of retro hard rock “Blackout” should be played loud to fully enjoy its inner explosive dynamics as Audrey Horne demonstrate to be quite passionate about those familiar vintage tonalities that will satisfy any classic rock/metal lover.

Vintersorg – Till Fjälls del II

Sweden’s folk metal hero and possible cultural ambassador moonlighting as a metal band, Vintersorg is back with his 10th album in what appears to be a direct sequel to his first proper full length from twenty years ago,“Till Fjälls del II”.

If you have never heard Vintersorg before, surely you are at least familiar with Borknagar in which he is also the vocalist.   Andreas “Vintersorg“ Hedlund’s voice is instantly recognizable and majestic in its timbre. He is also the master of the unbelievably catchy metal chorus that compels you to thrust your fists in the air and sprint to the nearest forest to headbang uncontrollably. I don’t speak Swedish (duh) but I gather the lyrics are just as catchy and hook laden as their delivery. Seriously, the choruses are so infectious you will be humming them hours later.

As a sequel of sorts to his debut record, both sonically and visually the music is nostalgia laden as well as a return to form. With the album titles roughly translating to “To The Mountains” it should be no surprise that the subject material harkens to the beauty of the natural world of Sweden’s landscape and heritage. While I actually hold the philosophical laden releases of “Visions from the Spiral Generator” and “The Focusing Blur” as the apex of his career, the more folksy and nature inspired material of his earlier works “Cosmic Genesis” and are obviously also great in their own right.

From the opening seconds “Jökelväktaren” with its blackened metal intro instantly let you know where this record stands. Throughout the six plus minute track different shades of epic sounding black metal are interspersed with more folk sounding melodies. This really is the template for the rest of the record as majority of the material follows this format. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that. Aside from a couple tracks with acoustic passages and female vocals like “Vårflod” and a flute outro on “Fjällets Mäktiga Mur” we kind of know what to expect. But that shouldn’t diminish the enjoyment one iota.

Vintersorg is one constant in this chaotic world, seemingly incapable of crafting inferior work. With current events seemingly never ending with unbridled negativity it should be no wonder why anyone wouldn’t want to retreat to the mountains and escape it all. And for nearly 70 minutes, you too can escape to them even if just for a short while on this epic musical journey.

Summoning – With Doom We Come

Known as the true guardians of Middle Earth, Austrian duo Summoning returns with “With Doom We Come” which continues to draw inspiration from the myths of J.R.R. Tolkien and is certainly one of the most anticipated albums of 2018.

The mystical atmospheres of “Tar-Calion” open this new music journey channeling intense desolation with raw blackened guitar riffs completely surrounded by rich synth arrangements, theatrical vocals and magical folk elements that evoke the natural beauty of a remote forest in an enchanted land as the band here chooses to focus on refined melodic tapestries with scattered epic accents.

On “Silvertine” the atmosphere acquires obscure tonalities with steady melodic guitars that contribute to the creation of an exceptionally darkened mood further enhanced by traditional black metal growls and elegantly embellished by sumptuous orchestrations that include epic horns and melancholic piano.

“Carcharoth” features a spellbinding mixture of soothing minimalist instrumentation and rather grandiose atmospheric arrangements that once again tend to favor the band’s melodic side while ominous growls often emerge from familiar blackened depths.

On “Mirklands” soft piano melodies introduce a gloomy sonic realm that is certainly filled with unadulterated darkness yet offers loads of ethereal harmonies in the midst of opulent atmospheric layers and distant echoes of distorted guitars.

The particularly lengthy album closer “With Doom I Come” definitely relies on the vivid atmospheric aspects of Summoning’s music style as kaleidoscopic keyboards craft an endless series of magical hazy progressions bearing a dark aura as well as cinematic quality, absolutely amplified by epic chants and mysterious whispers, that continuously channel mystical and mythical vibes.

Even if remnants of primordial black metal infuse the whole album there is nothing insanely heavy on “With Doom We Come” as Summoning brings a shroud of frost and pure poetic gloom constantly evoking surreal soundscapes that will keep you company through these long winter nights.

Cavalera Conspiracy – Psychosis

After the worldwide touring success performing Sepultura’s iconic opus “Roots” Max and Iggor Cavalera, joined by talented guitarist Marc Rizzo, decided to record Cavalera Conspiracy’s new album “Psychosis” which is definitely inspired by their past work in Sepultura but features also a rather entertaining industrial twist.

“Insane” marks an absolutely fierce beginning that sees the band in excellent shape as precise punishing drums and infectious guitar riffs craft a thrash oriented wall of sound while sharp guitar melodies & solo add nightmarish vibes through the claustrophobic rhythmic blasts.

“Terror Tactics” doesn’t take a break as groovy old school thrash rhythmic dynamics trigger subtle nostalgic vibes. Max screams with renewed passion through the deadly marching patterns while chaotic atmospheric accents lead to a tribal riffing style and intriguing guitar work.

On “Spectral War” Iggor’s drumming keeps alive a certain tribal force and while the main rhythmic section maintains a quite heavy attitude there are few interesting industrial influences that generate modern atmospheric tonalities and enigmatic vibes.

Feeling violently dizzy “Judas Pariah” has a traditional death metal essence that requires relentless rhythms, monolithic guitar riffing and vicious growls that follow an almost breakneck speed with immense fury that suddenly yet seamlessly evolves into a more atmospheric somber sonic assault with remarkable haunting nuances.

Despite its chaotic noisy end “Excruciating” initially feels almost comfortable with an overdose of fiery distortion and crushing rhythms meant to generate intensely irrational moshpits and in the midst of this monumental groove Marc delivers a cathartic moody guitar solo that matches the mystical atmospheric background.

Listening to the massive energy behind “Psychosis” you will notice that the Cavalera brothers truly made efforts to deliver music diversity on this album fairly channeling the glorious early years of Sepultura as well as some modern underground metal flavors.

Dawn Of Disease – Ascension Gate

German death metal act Dawn Of Disease has crafted the newest release “Ascension Gate” keeping in mind the band’s primordial extreme metal influences and offering a more modern melodic approach inevitably fueled by introspective melancholy.

At the very first listening “Perimortal” gives you a taste of the melo-death attitude that dominates this album. The remarkable guitar work should never be ignored as the crunchy fast paced rhythm always leaves space for loads of dreadful refined melodies carefully embedded in the entertaining solos.

The title track feels like a melancholic melodic death metal anthem as it begins with solemn atmospheric quality that simply embraces the intense growls cutting through a soulful crescendo of dramatic guitar melodies.

On the darkened track “Akephalos” you can definitely perceive the weight of Swedish death metal influence as the accelerated rhythmic patterns acquire harsh tonalities yet guitars also provide absolutely vibrant melodies.

Staying true to fashionable Nordic melancholy “Fleshless Journey” might be the most emotional song of the album as, despite being filled with extreme grooves, melodic guitars maintain a primary role crafting several contemplative moments with pleasantly impressive musicianship and sonic clarity.

“Mundus Inversus” certainly features a fair dosage of unrestrained rage with massive guitar driven grooves and tight rhythmic patterns yet, as it often happens throughout the album, guitars reach a terrific gloomy acme constantly and confidently creating deliciously sorrowful melodies.

Overall, “Ascension Gate” manages to include some of the brutal fundamental elements of traditional death metal yet Dawn Of Disease skillfully raises the bar introducing epic vibes and exquisite melodic textures.

Evil Invaders – Feed Me Violence

Belgian metallers Evil Invaders proudly release the sophomore album “Feed Me Violence” which confidently proves to be more than just a revival sensation even if the main core features nostalgic anthems exceptionally executed in proper traditional speed metal style.

“Mental Penitentiary” is such a savage opener focusing on a well-structured tight fast paced rhythm and impressive musicianship clearly showcased in the complex guitar work and the incredibly entertaining riffs.

“Broken Dreams In Isolation” becomes more dramatic as enticing guitars successfully create lavish melodic textures while the variegated rhythmic section and the blistering screams maintain the expected bold thrash/speed patterns.

The title track is simply raw & heavy as guitar riffing and drum blasts follow a frenetic tempo while in the midst of such chaotic rhythmic intensity lead guitars repeatedly gain the deserved spotlight with enthralling creative solos.

“Oblivion” rightfully favors smooth melancholic moments with emotionally profound melodic guitars but also doesn’t hesitate to bring back sharp classic speed metal riffing galore following an intensely faster tempo to trigger immediate headbanging.

Showcasing truly mature musicianship and composition “Among The Depths Of Sanity” features stylish music diversity effortlessly shifting from dramatic atmospheric passages to an inflamed crescendo of massive guitar riffs and assertively unleashing a crushing thrash sonic assault let ultimately embellished by a charismatic shredding guitar solo.

Evil Invaders definitely have the ability to channel the golden days of speed/thrash metal and “Feed Me Violence” is filled with entertaining diversity but also stays true to the genre’s main elements with fierce thunderous strength.