Epica – Omega

For more than 15 years Dutch symphonic metal icons Epica have meticulously developed a fascinating sonic identity that today reaches the acme with the majestic opus “Omega” which is also the final part of the metaphysical trilogy they began with “The Quantum Enigma” back in 2014. 

“Abyss Of Time – Countdown To Singularity” is filled with soaring rhythmic patterns showcasing a heavier approach amplified by the vicious growls while the flawless opulent symphonic arrangements and Simone Simons’s luminous vocal performance evoke the timeless beauty of the operatic style. 

On “The Skeleton Key” the elegantly darkened piano melodies and the solemn operatic choirs generate a harrowing mood that continues to linger through the bold guitar progressions while the super catchy chorus conveys a warm sense of hopefulness. 

Beginning with charming oriental tonalities “Seal Of Solomon” swiftly embraces a sumptuous symphonic essence as the orchestral grandeur constantly creates elaborate tapestries while the charismatic guitar solo skillfully blends melodic and heavier tonalities. 

The middle eastern style of the atmospheric intro on “Code Of Life” evokes mystical vibes that will continue to emerge through the symphonic splendor well supported by the robust rhythmic section and embellished by Simone’s striking vocal range during the poignant chorus. 

“Kingdom Of Heaven prt. 3 – The Antediluvian Universe” might be the most ambitious and complex track on the album as the delightful atmospheric arrangements combined with the classical elegance of the orchestra craft a cinematic sonic realm that often puts the spotlight on the soothing melodies as well as the dramatic crescendos while the heavier rhythmic patterns accompanied by Mark Jansen’s fiery growls can clearly channel a profound darkness. 

On “Synergize – Manic Manifest” guitars take the center stage following a significantly faster tempo and delivering loads of energetic riffs that maintain a groovy momentum within the epic symphonic ensemble while the calmer harmonious passages and the chorus sound quite accessible. 

The final track “Omega – Sovereign Of The Sun Spheres” perfectly manifests the band’s successful formula as the elaborate instrumental progressions are seamlessly entwined with the magnificent symphonic arrangements providing an entertaining mix of powerful rhythmic blasts and dazzling melodies leading to a memorable chorus. 

Epica certainly don’t disappoint their loyal acolytes delivering an overdose of monumental grooves and exquisite orchestrations enhanced by an impeccable production throughout “Omega” which is destined to shine bright in this dark world. 

MSG (Michael Schenker Group) – Immortal

Legendary guitarist Michael Schenker celebrates his 50th anniversary as a musician returning to his roots with the release of the new MSG album “Immortal” which features many talented artists. 

The bombastic celebration begins with “Drilled To Kill” channeling a fierce heavy metal energy with bold riffage and powerful vocals while the extensive guitar solos deliver wild shredding and renowned keyboardist Derek Sherinian adds intriguing twists. 

“Don’t Die On Me Now” tends to focus on polished melodic moments and a soothing vocal delivery naturally leading to a radio friendly chorus and the smooth rhythmic ensemble is enriched by captivating guitar solos.  

“After The Rain” follows a slower pace enhancing the ballad style with a series of melancholic guitar progressions surrounded by soft atmospheric tapestries that put the spotlight on a poignant vocal performance courtesy of Michael Voss. 

The classic heavy metal vibes of “Sail The Darkness” generate solid guitar driven grooves with a familiar 80’s flair and the resulting great energy is obviously amplified by the dazzling guitar solos. 

“Sangria Morte” marks another enjoyable moment following an old school pathway that focuses on memorable grooves and proper rockers style vocals while Michael raises the bar with skillful fiery soloing. 

The grand finale arrives with Michael’s version of the Scorpions song “In Search Of The Peace Of Mind” which showcases a detailed composition featuring multiple vocalists and offering enthralling nostalgic arpeggios that will reach an epic acme with a stunning guitar solo. 

Undoubtedly listening to “Immortal” you can expect all kinds of charismatic guitar acrobatics and impeccable musicianship as the strength of MSG comes from Michael’s collaboration with stellar musicians. 

Korpiklaani – Jylhä

Finnish folk metal icons Korpiklaani continue their successful sonic journey with the release of the majestic 11th full length “Jylhä” inspired by tales of folklore, nature and even murders. 

“Verikoira” is an explosive album opener packing an overdose of super crunchy guitar riffs and some spooky vocals that can lead to darkened grooves in contrast with the positive energy embodied by the traditional folk tonalities of the fiddle.  

“Niemi” features a wild stomping rhythm as the fascinating mix of violin and accordion keeps alive all the beloved folk nuances while the gritty riffage amplifies the energetic momentum. 

“Mylly” can offer calmer melancholic melodies that further emphasize the delicate folk aesthetics and the dominant role of the somber melodic progressions while the solid rhythmic section can still generate groovy dynamics.  

On “Tuuleton” the emotional motifs lead to melancholia infused harmonies but certainly the band is able to maintain a catchy folk mood with the lavish mix of vibrant accordion melodies and smooth guitar phrases. 

“Kiuru” revolves around a robust groovy rhythmic ensemble as guitars and drums can definitely sound quite fierce yet the comforting violin harmonies and the sorrowful vocal delivery evoke somber feelings.  

Even if at times “Pohja” manifest a soulful melodic essence the main rhythmic core relies on powerful & heavy guitar driven grooves while the traditional folk spirit is clearly embodied by the solemn chants and the wild energy of the violin & accordion combo. 

“Juuret” conveys an epic atmosphere with darker accents as the moody melodies and the passionate vocals often follow a slower pace to highlight the folk elements and the poignant emotions while during the grand finale the whole instrumentation embraces a raw energy.

Undoubtedly “Jylhä” symbolizes another crucial milestone showcasing a prolific creativity as Korpiklaani carefully blend entertaining danceable grooves, traditional folk flavors and fiery heavy metal. 

Therion – Leviathan

Swedish titans Therion proudly reach another crucial milestone releasing the 17th studio album “Leviathan” that will delight their faithful fans with intricate dynamics, classic metal grooves and operatic grandeur. 

“The Leaf On The Oak Of Far” is packed with catchy guitar driven grooves reminiscing of the glorious days of heavy metal while the symphonic tapestries and the solemn operatic choirs can effortlessly convey a fascinating dramatic depth.  

“Die Wellen Der Zeit” feels like an elegant operetta as the passionate vocal harmonies, the classical nuances of the rich multilayered atmospheric arrangements and the graceful melodic textures emphasize the exquisite symphonic splendor. 

“Eye Of Algol” certainly combines the main elements of a Therion hit song as the darkened rhythmic patterns are constantly fueled by energetic riffage and Near Eastern flavors enriched by the charismatic choirs.

On “Nocturnal Light” the magnificent elaborate atmospheric ensemble surrounds a series of  spellbinding melodic crescendos while the stellar blend of theatrical choirs and Thomas Vikstrom’s captivating vocal performance is destined to steal the spotlight.  

The mood of “Psalm Of Retribution” becomes significantly darker as the symphonic tapestries and the striking operatic choirs acquire arcane tonalities around the memorable heavy rhythmic patterns while a charming dreamy essence will come to life with refined orchestral arrangements. 

“Ten Courts Of Diyu” stands out for the detailed composition that naturally creates an enthralling mixture of melancholia infused progressions and sumptuous orchestrations enhanced by the diverse flawless vocal deliveries and the irresistible melodic flair of the excellent guitar solo. 

Undoubtedly “Leviathan” maintains the majestic symphonic essence that conquered so many acolytes worldwide therefore Therion deliberately choose to stay true to their unrivaled legacy yet bravely continue to explore different styles to create a remarkable work of music. 

Killer Be Killed – Reluctant Hero

With a stellar line up featuring Max Cavalera, Greg Puciato, Troy Sanders and Ben Koller, Killer Be Killed presents to the world a renewed statement of purpose on the sophomore full length “Reluctant Hero”.

There is a visceral groovy momentum throughout “Deconstructing Self-Destruction” so the bold attitude of the heavier rhythmic patterns can feel quite dominant and certainly highlights the winning vocal trade-off between Max and Greg. 

“Dream Gone Bad” relies on energetic rhythmic dynamics offering fierce riffage and monumental drumming but definitely holds a somber melodic soul that can lead to majestic melodic guitar licks and a catchy chorus. 

On “Inner Calm and Outer Storms” drums & bass build a solemn rhythmic tension through a darkened introspective atmosphere while the harsh vocals perfectly match the heavier dynamics following a faster aggressive tempo.  

“From A Crowded Wound” combines hardcore influenced dynamics fueled by an overload of gritty guitar riffs and sorrowful tonalities especially emphasized by the soothing vocal delivery and the cold understated atmospheric textures.   

“The Great Purge” effortlessly shifts from furious guitar driven grooves to compelling darkened melodic moments featuring elegant leads surrounded by moody atmospheric arrangements that put the spotlight on the diverse vocals. 

There is a fascinating dramatic depth on the title track as the mellow guitar harmonies and the atmospheric gloom become the main focus while the precise rhythmic section will create intense crescendos. 

The strength of “Reluctant Hero” certainly comes from the chemistry and the extensive musical experience of the collective behind Killer Be Killed creating a balanced blend of soulful melodies and robust grooves.  

Hjelvik – Welcome To Hel

Formed by Kvelertak frontman, lyricist and co-founder Erlend Hjelvik, Hjelvik makes a triumphant debut with the full length “Welcome To Hel” which is clearly inspired by Norse mythology and history.

On “Father War” you can appreciate the traditional heavy metal vibes within the explosive licks and majestic shredding of the guitar work while the audacious screams and the faster rhythmic patterns can certainly channel a blackened essence. 

For “The Power Ballad Of Freyr” the band chooses a less aggressive approach that puts the spotlight on the memorable guitar leads, the polished tonalities and the groovy chorus well supported by a robust rhythmic section. 

Throughout ”Glory Of Hel” the bold guitar riffs and the solemn vocals evoke the Viking metal grandeur that characterizes the whole album while the elaborate solos definitely add variety with a wild shredding rampage. 

The rhythmic core slows down slightly on “12th Spell” to highlight the darkened melodic textures of the guitar leads yet there is still space for a solid groovy momentum fueled by the raw energy of the riffage and the hellish growls. 

The strength of “Kveldulv” relies on the wintry melodic soul of the guitar work which continues to stand out for the skillful soloing and charismatic leads flourishing through the groovy rhythmic dynamics. 

The mood becomes increasingly darker and colder on “Necromance” as guitars acquire palpable arcane tonalities through the galloping rhythmic patterns while the extensive majestic solo provides a generous dosage of flamboyant shredding. 

The Viking spirit dominates the monumental grooves of “Welcome To Hel” and with this brand new solo project Hjelvik proudly shares his creative vision channeling the glorious force of classic heavy metal. 

Soilwork – A Whisp Of The Atlantic

Swedish melodic death metal icons Soilwork embark on an epic voyage with the ambitious EP “A Whisp Of The Atlantic”.

The title track is a deeply complex opus that represents the soul of the EP combining diverse styles & tonalities to embody an epic tale. In the beginning smooth piano melodies and refined atmospheric arrangements highlight an introspective mood but soon crunchy guitar riffs will take over creating a stormy rhythmic rampage accompanied by fancy sharp solos and spiteful growls while the finale conveys a sense of peacefulness with glowing jazzy saxophone harmonies. 

On “Feverish” the elaborate atmospheric keyboards channel electro ‘80s vibes that introduce a towering rhythmic section delivering faster powerful dynamics and often following a harsh death metal pathway while the clean vocals in the chorus sound absolutely catchy. 

“Desperado” has a straightforward melodic death metal approach that emphasizes the band’s signature style with an overload of frantic rhythmic patterns fueled by galloping guitar riffs and surrounded by elegant atmospheric layers. 

On “Death Diviner” you will find a balanced mix of fierce grooves and melodic hooks as guitars acquire luminous tonalities to craft polished phrases which will ultimately evolve into a flamboyant soloing. 

It’s hard to categorize “A Whisp Of The Atlantic” as just an EP because Soilwork constantly  showcase a majestic creative force that naturally leads to a fascinating musical and philosophical journey. 

Macabre – Carnival Of Killers

The triumphant return of Macabre arrives with the release of “Carnival Of Killers” just in time for their 35th anniversary announcing that a creepy carnival in the company of serial killers is coming to town.  

It’s not surprising to see that “Your Window Is Open” has a quite gruesome mood as the death metal dynamics ensure brutal rhythmic patterns with tight riffage and fast drumming enriched by excellent guitar leads. 

“Joe Ball Was His Name” sounds certainly entertaining with the baritone vocal delivery and the carnivalesque rhythm while guitars still have a chance to deliver strong riffs and fancy leads.  

”Stinky” has a palpable nightmarish mood with a robust rhythmic section that generates chaotic and aggressive segments that will eventually become more playful and catchy. 

“Richard Speck Grew Big Breasts” is definitely a hilarious title nevertheless the rhythmic blasts sound quite serious channeling a strong primal energy in extreme metal fashion. 

Everything feels dark and spooky on “Slaughter House” with the ominous vocals and the sharp riffage marching fiercely and successfully maintaining a belligerent old school death metal approach. 

The monumental drumming on “The Lake Of Fire” dictates an overload of merciless grooves spiced up by the charismatic guitar solo and the vocals become tormented screams to highlight the horror motifs. 

“The Wheels On The Bug” might sound like a lovely nursery rhyme but the band is ready to unleash a savage rhythmic assault enhanced by the powerful death-gore growls. 

The psychotic sonic realm of “Corpse Violator” hits you in the face with loads of fiery guitar riffs, a generous dosage of wild shredding and crunchy rhythmic patterns. 

“The Murder Mack” closes down this insane carnival with maniacal screams and a series of hostile guitar riffs following a viciously fast tempo but there is still space for some memorable guitar solos. 

On “Carnival Of Killers” each track tells a murderous tale and Macabre’s songwriting style further amplifies the vivid horror vibes with a morbid sense of humor and massive bloodthirsty grooves.    

Cadaver – Edder & Bile

Featuring renowned musicians Anders Odden and Dirk Verbeuren, Cadaver celebrate their triumphant comeback manifesting a brand new venomous sonic vision on the full length “Edder & Bile”. 

“Morgue Ritual” could not sound more aggressive as the rhythmic section concocts a series of fast & brutal grooves with a familiar death metal approach and the crazy shredding galore of the guitar solo can leave you breathless. 

Featuring Jeff Becerra of Possessed, “Circle Of Morbidity” relies on relentless riffage and malignant growls marching fiercely through the towering ruthless rhythmic patterns enriched by the mournful tonalities of the lead guitar work. 

“Feed The Pigs” features the guttural  growls of Kam Lee of Massacre and you simply cannot escape the belligerent rhythmic rampage fueled by the thunderous drum blasts and the visceral guitar riffs. 

The sonic assault of “Final Fight” creates an asphyxiating rhythmic ensemble that constantly expresses angered feelings easily amplified by the hellish growls and the savage guitar work. 

The title track continues to follow a no frills death metal pathway as the precise drumming demands breakneck speed and pure rage yet guitars will have a chance to deliver some somber rhythmic twists.  

“Let Me Burn” is still filled with raw energy yet the slightly slower ominous tempo allows guitars to craft a fair dosage of intriguing darkened phrases which will reach the acme with some inflamed shredding. 

The sonic realm of “Edder & Bile” sounds quite chaotic and hostile as Cadaver confidently deliver unrestrained guitar driven grooves channeling the devastating force of old school death metal.  

Pallbearer – Forgotten Days

Doom metal quartet Pallbearer returns with the fourth full length “Forgotten Days” which promises to deliver a massive dosage of crushing dynamics without sacrificing the expression of genuine emotions.  

The title track delivers the expected dodge of monumental doom riffs and robust drumming which effortlessly create a majestic rhythmic core while the captivating guitar solo adds an elegant and quite somber melodic touch. 

The classic doom roots are still evident on “Riverbed” within the rhythmic maze that highlights the weight of the guitar riffs yet a poignant melodic essence is destined to flourish through the darkly soothing harmonies, the refined leads and the sorrowful vocals. 

Throughout the lengthy track “Silver Wings” the band shifts between the darkened force of the heavy riffage and the cathartic nature of the melodic guitar work which also emphasizes the bittersweet vocal delivery and the consequent profound sense of nostalgia at times will lead to slower downcast progressions and ethereal atmospheric textures. 

Even if the mournful doom flair feels dominant throughout “The Quicksand Of Existing” with an overdose of solemn & sophisticated progressions, guitars still have a chance to deliver faster groovy rhythmic blasts. 

In the beginning “Caledonia” maintains a harrowing heavy approach courtesy of a towering rhythmic section but guitars will eventually embrace an emotionally charged melodic ensemble leading to gentle acoustic moments. 

Listening carefully to “Forgotten Days” you will perceive a strong introspective nature that inevitably influences the traditional doom metal pathway as Pallbearer deliberately amplify the emotional aspects often focusing on a fascinating crestfallen melodic flair.