Korpiklaani – Kulkija

Thinking about folk metal we can all agree that Finnish superstars Korpiklaani have mastered this art since 2003 therefore the newest release “Kulkija” is bound to generate great interest among the faithful fans.

The initial atmospheric somber tones of “Neito” will soon evolve into a straightforward stomping folk metal rampage built by the soaring rhythmic section and adorned by charismatic violin melodies.

The mood becomes quite gloomy on “Aallon Alla” with a softer melodic ensemble, featuring lovely accordion phrases, that will ultimately acquire entertaining dynamics through a series of energetic rhythmic variations.

“Harmaja” is not necessarily a ballad but definitely has a more sorrowful approach as the magical folk textures naturally express a profound melancholia that constantly influences the heartfelt vocals and the spellbinding combo of dreamy violin melodies and subtle acoustic guitars.

“Kallon Malja” begins with captivating melancholic violin melodies but soon picks up speed as guitars gain a fiery sound following an upbeat rhythm yet additional intricate sorrowful harmonies, emotive vocals and slower darkened moments will continue to convey gloomy feelings.

“Sillanrakentaja” is significantly heavier and darker as powerful guitars follow moody drum blasts leading to exceptionally somber vibes but the inner folk soul will emerge with renewed intensity in the the catchy chorus.

Another round of passionate violin melodies lead the way on “Riemu” which offers a well balanced mix of cheerful folk hooks (stomping and dancing will be required) and softer emotive moments.

“Tuttu on tie” fully embraces a highly melancholic mood as weeping violin melodies become the main focus evoking all kinds of sad and dramatic feelings that inevitably influence the solemn vocals and mellow instrumental passages.

On the 10th studio album “Kulkija” Korpiklaani stay true to their sonic manifesto maintaining a profound devotion for traditional folk music and take the listeners on a magic journey wandering through enchanted forests and dreamy folkloric tales.

Suffocation Live in Joliet

Suffocation made their way to Joliet on their Death Chopping North America tour. This tour marks vocalist Frank Mullen’s last tour with the band, and fans piled into The Forge to see him perform with Suffocation one last time. The crowd filled the venue from wall to wall as the band played classics such as “Pierced from Within,” “Liege of Inveracity,” and “Catatonia.” Brutal riffs combined with technicality and deep, guttural vocals reminded fans why Suffocation is widely considered one of the most influential and innovative death metal bands. Frank gave a truly memorable performance on his last tour, leaving fans with a show that they will remember for years to come.

Northward – Northward

It took ten years to find the perfect time to release the self titled debut album but now beloved Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen and Pagan’s Mind guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad are finally ready to present to the world their project Northward.

“While Love Died” opens the album giving you a taste of what is yet to come and you will instantly embrace the energetic grooves skillfully built by solid rounds of guitar riffs and Floor’s scratchy rocker style delivery yet there is a melodic soul emerging with noticeable heartfelt intensity.

“Get What You Give” is another entertaining tune that again revolves around gritty guitar riffs and a triumphantly catchy rhythmic section that will later give way to a lovely acoustic momentum but as expected Floor’s voice is the main attraction here with a cool mixture of heavy rock tonalities and smooth harmonies.

“Drifting Islands” showcases a series of inspired shimmering guitar melodies so the rhythm becomes a bit more dramatic and mellow to favor Floor’s duet with her sister Irene yet there are still plenty of dirty rock dynamics and bouncy guitar work especially concentrated in the bombastic chorus.

“Let Me Out” is all about groovy vibes as guitar riffs spontaneously gallop throughout the song to maintain a positive energy and faster vibrant rhythmic segments while the dreamy melodic breakdown evoke a more emotive mood swiftly followed by a bold guitar solo.

While there are some killer heavy guitar riffs and consequent groovy moments on “Timebomb” the majority of the song becomes softer than expected focusing on gentle accessible melodies, introspective atmospheres and melancholic vocals.   

The eponymous final track “Northward” feels intensely dramatic with a power ballad influence and Floor’s enchanting vocals truly shine through the minimalist melodic tapestries while later guitars will gain the deserved spotlight with wilder soloing and refreshing fervent tonalities.

Obviously Floor’s charismatic vocals will be easy to love on this Northward debut release which stands out for the catchy rock backbone and the duo’s enthusiastic & energetic music approach.

The Vintage Caravan – Gateways

In the beginning there were three young Icelandic schoolboys passionate about music that might have not known yet that The Vintage Caravan was foreordained to conquer the music scene and now the fourth studio album “Gateways” will prove once more the band’s creative force and bright future.

Despite the enigmatic initial atmospheric tonalities “Set Your Sights” is ready to hit you in the face with healthy rock grooves courtesy of steady retro tinged guitar riffs that keep on rolling with some heavier dynamics to reach the explosive punch of the solo.

“Reflections” gradually builds up a faster guitar driven groove well supported by the vibrant rhythmic section, where the bold bass lines truly stand out, yet there are several emotionally charged melodic moments as lead guitars and vocals can acquire a sweet psychedelic magic in proper ‘70s fashion.

With a dreamlike introductive arpeggios and soulful vocal harmonies “On The Run” holds a gentle melancholia yet will gain extra crunchy dynamics as the whole rhythmic section is ready to deliver bold rock progressions leading to a generously fuzzy melodic guitar solo.  

“Hidden Streams” offers several soaring rhythmic segments borrowing the catchy vibes of timeless classic rock as guitars gallop relentlessly through hazy and often deeply psychedelic soundscapes.

“Nebula” warmly welcomes you to a proper trippy psychedelic realm where the signature Nordic melancholy is always present as the rhythm becomes dramatically contemplative allowing the brilliant melodic guitar progressions and solo to steal the spotlight without sacrificing a proper dosage of heavier rock riffage.

“Tune Out” feels like the most complex track on the album and certainly gives you a good idea of The Vintage Caravan main music vision. With a distinct bluesy rock influence gentle melodic guitars focus on a softer approach that will eventually acquire complexity through versatile progressions and a powerful rhythmic crescendo while vocals naturally shift between a poetic mood and a rougher seasoned rocker style.

More than ever The Vintage Caravan demonstrates a genuine love for heavy classic rock and that exquisite sense of nostalgia mixed with a refreshing energy and ambitious dreams can be found all over “Gateways”.

Soulfly – Ritual

Fronted by legendary Max Cavalera, Soulfly has been active for more than two decades and now the band wants to prove that the tribe is stronger than ever, in fact the latest album “Ritual” seems to possess the tribal energy and spiritual strength necessary to leave a mark in the current metal scene.

The title track is the sonic realm where brutal & tribal embrace as it opens the album with the primitive energy of tribal chants and introduces a massive guitar driven groove that feels increasingly heavier and ferocious also due to the relentless shredded guitar solos and Max’s angered vocals.

Featuring Randy Blythe of Lamb Of God “Dead Behind The Eyes” feels rather menacing as extra gritty guitar riffs wildly follow a faster rhythmic assault immersed in apocalyptic atmospheres yet through such brutal momentum Marc Rizzo manages to deliver darkened melodies and fierce soloing.

One of the coolest tracks on the album “Under Rapture”, featuring immensely ominous growls courtesy of Ross Dolan of Immolation, will trigger a non-stop moshpit with the perfect dosage of ruthless guitar riffs and consequent addictive savage grooves constantly guided by the arcane tribal spirit evoked by Zyon Cavalera’s thunderous drumming.

“Demonized” begins with darkened melodic guitars and a slightly contemplative mood but this initial peaceful moment will give way to another solid round of killer guitar riffs & tribal percussions and in general the whole instrumentation and song’s structure showcases profound death/thrash metal influences.

“Blood On The Street” screams tribal at the very beginning with an intriguing combo of flute harmonies and captivating percussions, which will return even stronger in the final part of the song, swiftly followed by steady malevolent guitar riffs and vicious drum blasts built to ensure a headbanging galore.

On the closing instrumental track “Soulfly XI” the mood drastically and unexpectedly changes leaving behind any sign of brutality as spiritual vibes become more palpable through melancholic acoustic guitars and dreamy saxophone melodies.  

It will be immediately clear that Soulfly have somehow acquired a renewed creative force which leads to the impactful soaring grooves that make “Ritual” the right album to triumphantly represent the band’s legacy.

The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex

The sonic realm of The Spirit debut album “Sounds From The Vortex” is absolutely black and often hopeless as the band is eager to finally spread this collection of atmospheric blackened death anthems.

“Cosmic Fear” is fierce and enigmatic drawing inspiration from the depths of traditional black metal with its raw riffing galore and oppressive momentum yet the addition of melodic guitar work amplifies the song’s contemplative & emotional facets.

“The Clouds Of Damnation” immediately delivers a series of fast crushing rhythmic patterns again reminiscent of classic Nordic tonalities and as the drums dictate a thunderous march the whole instrumentation follows such grim mood with impeccable fluidity until a cold melancholia engulfs the profoundly somber guitar melodies.

The contemplative nature of “Illuminate The Night Sky” is clear since the very beginning as atmospheric melodies demand attention before introducing a vigorous rhythmic ensemble that revolves around massive darkened guitar work and relentless drumming.

“Fields Of The Unknown” closes the album offering another round of epic tremolo-picked segments demanding a faster asphyxiating rhythm as a total darkness takes over leaving just enough space for some genuine melodic moments.

Acolytes of the underground extreme metal scene will definitely find the mysterious aura of “Sounds From The Vortex” appealing and should continue to pay attention to the music journey of The Spirit.

Paradise Lost Live in Chicago

The long awaited Paradise Lost North American tour is particularly important because the British iconic band is celebrating the 30th year anniversary. It’s been six years since Paradise Lost toured here and all the faithful fans loved the chosen setlist for the show at House Of Blues in Chicago, which revisited the band’s career and included the timeless classics “Gothic” and “As I Die”, “Pity The Sadness” and “Enchanted” from the acclaimed album “Draconian Times”, as well as the new songs “The Longest Winter”, “Blood And Chaos” and the title track from the latest crushing release “Medusa”!

Epica – Epica vs. Attack On Titan

Undoubtedly Dutch symphonic metal masters Epica have been unstoppable conquering the hearts of so many fans worldwide and they have also proven to be workaholic musicians. This time they are ready to surprise the audience with an unusual work of music as Epica’s latest offering is a special covers EP entitled “Epica vs. Attack On Titan”, previously available only in Japan, which features four metal versions, available also as instrumentals, of the theme songs from the highly successful manga series turned worldwide aired anime “Attack On Titan”.

“Crimson Bow And Arrow” opens with the expected overdose of magnificent operatic choirs further enhanced by massive detailed orchestrations as keyboards become particularly crucial in the song’s structure offering impressive soloing moments while Simone delivers her signature passionate vocals that always delight the fans. The theatrical narratives accompanied by an intense combo of guitar riffing and keyboards layers also increase the epic nature of this track.

“Wings Of Freedom” begins with monumental chants followed by a winning series of melodic phrases yet the song will pick up speed with massive drumming and soaring guitar riffs accompanied by Mark’s venomous growls but will never sacrifice its inner theatrical grandeur with plenty of charming & eclectic orchestral arrangements.

“If Inside These Walls Was A House” is the most dramatic track focusing on gentle atmospheric arrangements and a softer ballad style approach yet symphonic textures will eventually take over.

“Dedicate Your Heart!” can deliver fierce rhythmic crescendos constantly embellished by Simone’s charismatic delivery and sumptuous choirs while the instrumental passages shine once again for the vibrant and diverse keyboards arrangements.

While waiting for the next full length Epica’s fans will enjoy the majestic arrangements, very much in the band’s beloved signature style, that render this collection of Japanese anime-songs quite unique.