Then Comes Silence – Blood

There might be a real goth rock revival going on this year and Swedish band Then Comes Silence joins the retro rollercoaster flirting with all things dark on the fourth full length “Blood”.

“The Dead Cry For No One” feels moody and extremely gloomy in proper goth fashion with spacey darkened guitar melodies that soon pick up a charming retro groove tied to an extremely catchy chorus. Immediately all these charismatic dark tonalities remind of many unforgettable ‘80s goth rock bands such as Joy Division and Sisters Of Mercy, yet Then Comes Silence does hold a personal identity.

“Strange Kicks” follows the same beloved music pathway packing all possible dark vibes in the groovy guitar riffs and drum beats further enhanced by vocalist/songwriter Alex Svenson’s charming vocal delivery.

“My Bones” feels cold and nightmarish with low whispered vocals and hypnotizing melodic guitars surrounded by absolutely entertaining spooky synth layers and the whole catchy dark rock galore prepares you for the last macabre dance party before a certain downfall.

The theatrical track “Choose Your Poison” will make you space out with an overload of trippy slow guitars and dreamy atmospheric arrangements in a love & death scenario.

“Good Friday’ continues to channel all the vintage goth elements we always loved and generates a steady melodic crescendo with attached profound atmospheric darkness and bittersweet danceable grooves.

“Warm Like Blood” offers loveable decadent atmospheric waves with the right dosage of gloomy romance and vocals acquire a surreal darkened energy in the chorus.

It would be really hard to resist the vintage goth rock / dark wave/post-punk flavors of “Blood” as every lascivious melody here is meant to spellbind the listeners and trap them forever in this darkened nostalgic limbo.

Comeback Kid – Outsider

After signing a record deal with Nuclear Blast Canadian hardcore/punk outfit Comeback Kid returns to the metal scene with renewed energy and a promising brand new music venture, number six in the band’s extensive career, entitled “Outsider”.

The title track is all about high impact loud guitar riffs that never cease to build a groovy memorable rhythm with some ‘90s hardcore flavors that naturally shape the catchy inflamed chorus.

“Surrender Control” relies on chunky bass lines that contribute to the creation of a cohesive groovy rhythmic backbone and Comeback Kid adds a generous dosage of radio friendly melodies in the polished, inevitably less aggressive, chorus.

Featuring mastermind Devin Townsend “Absolute” could have been more impressive in terms of songwriting and style nevertheless confidently delivers a vicious hardcore/thrash guitar driven heavy core with extra darkened vibes.

“Somewhere, Somehow” blends easy rock choruses with a thunderous series of heavy faster hardcore guitar riffs that support both modern style screams and clean accessible vocals.

Featuring Chris Cresswell “Consumed The Vision” favors somber guitar melodies sacrificing a bit of wild hardcore spirit to produce a widely accessible track that again focuses on memorable big choruses.

Building pleasant gloomy & softer atmospheres “Moment In Time” features guest vocalist Northcote but also doesn’t refrain from delivering contrasting heavy guitar progressions that relentlessly speed up the tempo and amplify the usual hardcore scenario.

Comeback Kid carefully maintains a traditional hardcore impact focusing on energetic blasts that might become predictable at times nevertheless such soaring dynamics become signature elements of the songs structure on “Outsider” and definitely will not go unnoticed.

Enslaved – E

Against all redundant music rules and limited categorizations, Norway’s finest Enslaved is a band that has courageously embraced a gradual yet radical sonic evolution that reaches an intriguing high point with the darkly enigmatic progressive tonalities of “E”, the new full length which also introduces new keyboard master and clean vocalist Håkon Vinje.

Conceptually inspired by the duality of man and nature “Storm Son” is a grandiose album opener, almost an opus on its own, as it is infused with poetic melancholy carefully embedded in the epic instrumental progressions. Lavish minimalist guitar melodies, soothing clean vocals and solemn choirs evoke introspective feelings while impossibly venomous growls supported by crunchy syncopated guitar riffs provide a dark contrast. In the midst of fascinating, quite complex, music tapestries the prog oriented melodic guitars spontaneously flow into harsh rhythmic sections reminiscent of traditional black metal.

“The River’s Mouth” is a particularly intense track that will stand out immediately due to its inner blackened Nordic force obviously amplified by Grutle Kjellson’s inflamed vocal delivery. Even if the heavier guitar riffing crescendo maintains a dominant role, Enslaved provides additional music diversity with well structured progressive melodic passages that carry a poignant darkened soul.

“Sacred Horse” holds haunting mystical vibes beginning with brief acoustic echoes that introduce a rightfully savage guitar driven assault but the surprising highlight might be found in the psychedelic keyboards arrangements/melodies that channel fashionable vintage rock splendor. Towards the end, cathartic Norse style chants portray an ancient spiritual realm that naturally embraces a detailed round of guitar melodies.

“Feathers Of Eolh” goes full blown prog for a while with refined multifaceted guitar work but still offers darker evocative atmospheric nuances particularly enhanced by soulful clean vocals and nostalgia infused keyboards layers. Occasionally Enslaved shifts focus to unleash a fervent series of thick guitar riffs or to diversify the song’s structure with thrilling borderline experimental progressions.

Guitarist & songwriter Ivar Bjørnson once again leads Enslaved through a philosophical sonic catharsis as the eclectic blend of several intriguing influences, such as atmospheric shoegaze and heavier Viking metal, truly impress the listeners and nothing on this album sounds forced or out of place providing instead hypnotizing songwriting fluidity.

 

Rings Of Saturn – Ultu Ulla

2017 sees the return of Sci-Fi tech-death masterminds Rings of Saturn with their 4th album of otherworldly, futuristic brand of aliencore that could actually be from the year 2047, Ultu Ulla.

For a band that took the deathcore/tech-death blueprint and expanded on it exponentially, to absurd levels, this new record does the impossible: making brain meltingly complex music accessible to a wider metal audience. The additions of guitarist Miles Dimitri Baker and drummer Aaron Stechauner certainly must be a defining reason for this. The guitar and drum interplay are simply inhuman in terms of speed and complexity, making us wonder what alien technology was used to allow a human to play with such speed.

Most importantly, the songwriting this time around has improved significantly. The juxtaposition of harmony next to bowel rumbling breakdowns and peppered with ridiculous guitar shredding licks are done at their highest level in the bands discography thus far. Keyboards in the vein of Super Nintendo or PlayStation soundtracks have also been added further solidifying the futuristic/alien aesthetic.  The instrumental songs mixed in could arguably be the highlights of this record. Either the Spanish Guitar tinged “Unhallowed” or the melodic shred fest of “The Macrocosom” ROS is pushing their own creativity to the brink. Not only do these tracks break up the chaos but the variety and diversity these songs bring is such a breath of fresh air in the otherwise vacuum of deep space brutality ROS is otherwise known for.

Fourth albums are typically the testing ground for bands, either staying the course with similar material or attempting to expand in new directions. I’m happy to see that ROS has decided to go for the latter. Ultu Ulla is easily their best effort yet and hopefully a sign of even better things to come.

Kadavar – Rough Times

German rockers Kadavar return triumphantly with the fashionably loud album “Rough Times” which, as expected, will take the listeners through a wild fuzzy music journey with blazing retro rock vibes.

With crazy borderline chaotic crushing weight the title track ensures high impact with tremendously heavy fuzzy guitar riffs that carry glorious ‘70s tonalities but occasionally the instrumentation and the vocals acquires easier melodic textures.

“Into The Wormhole” feels dizzy and dazed as we are traveling back in time under the influence of hallucinogenic stoner rock jams with roaring guitar riffs bearing a hint of the heaviest doom available and crunchy thick bass lines while the vocal delivery in the chorus is absolutely catchy.

“Die Baby Die” is an unforgettable track that offers addictive guitar riffs & melodies with a solid up-tempo groove, as the mood grows darker a blistering psychedelic fuzzy guitar solo inevitably steals the spotlight.

“Vampires” could have been composed in the ‘70s as Kadavar are able to naturally channel pure vintage melodies that here express a moody sense of melancholia but never fail to build a charismatic rhythm enriched by an excellent retro rock infused guitar solo.

“Tribulation Nation” sounds like a spacey blurry trip as a true psychedelic galore with an intergalactic essence surrounds the guitar driven grooves resulting in a memorable glistening catchy song.

“A L’Ombre Du Temps” takes you to an alternate reality as it deviates from the heavy stoner rock structure to deliver trippy dreamlike ambient vibes spiced up by ethereal distortions and bohemienne French whispered recitation.

“Rough Times” can easily hypnotize the audience with an impulsive psychedelic rock whirlwind and monumental spacey grooves confirming that Kadavar have become a mature prolific band with a remarkable creative force.

Eluveitie – Evocation II – Pantheon

After major lineup changes beloved Swiss folk metallers Eluveitie is ready to release the new acoustic effort “Evocation II – Pantheon” which is the sequel to the acclaimed album “Evocation I – The Arcane Dominion”. Fans will certainly rejoice as this new album features a grandiose folk music journey inspired by Celtic mythology and carefully crafted with a wide array of traditional folk instruments.

It might be the use of the ancient extinct language Gallic instead of plain English but “Epona” really takes you back in time, preferably in the middle of a forgotten forest where magical instruments such as mandola, hurdy gurdy and bagpipe create radiant melodies surrounded by positive energy.

With “Nantosvelta” you are still stuck in the forest and a bit of melancholia takes over the whistles melodies but soon the rhythm gains more energetic dynamics with a solid series of strings passages and groovy drumming.

“Lvgvs” features darker enigmatic atmospheric vibes enhanced by Fabienne Erni’s spellbinding vocal delivery and the whole instrumentation bears a mystical power even when soft whistles & strings create memorable charming melodies.

Created as an invocation of the Helvetic battle god “Catvrix” is probably the darkest track on this album starting with borderline ominous chants and a majestic rhythm in contrast with Fabienne’s passionate luminous vocals.

On “Artio” Fabienne’s ethereal voice becomes the center of attention evoking an arcane chant style surrounded by graceful acoustic atmospheres.

Similarly “Esvs” feels particularly peaceful favoring soft arrangements elegantly crafted by gentle acoustic melodies but also holds a mysterious aura enhanced by soulful choirs.

“Tarans” picks up speed with entertaining multi-instrumental grooves in proper folk fashion and towards the end fiery chants add extra ancient folklore vibes.

Some listeners might not appreciate the lack of metal on “Evocation II – Pantheon” nevertheless Eluveitie delivers an excellent performance on this acoustic collection of songs that truly portrays the profound mystical nature of folk music.

Epica – The Solace System

Symphonic metal masters Epica are known to be quite prolific and an unstoppable creative force in the current metal scene. While working on the widely acclaimed full length “The Holographic Principle” some songs didn’t exactly fit the flow of the record therefore Epica has decided to release this extra material as six new tracks on the EP “The Solace System”.

The title track displays all the lavish elements that have contributed to Epica’s worldwide success. Grandiose symphonic arrangements constantly create theatrical layers entwined with harsher guitar driven grooves but the main music core here revolves around luminous guitar melodies that reach a natural acme with the highly catchy chorus enhanced by Simone’s flawless & passionate vocal performance.

“Architect Of Life” starts with somber majestic orchestrations and solemn operatic choirs as expected from Epica’s flourishing music formula. Polished guitar leads and crunchy guitar riffs work harmoniously to keep a compelling melodic fluidity.

“Wheel Of Destiny” features charismatic faster guitar riffs and more aggressive metal twists while dazzling catchy melodies are surrounded by enticing haunting atmospheric arrangements.

On “Decoded Poetry” you will find a poetic guitar approach that delivers loads of soothing melodies embellished by dramatic operatic choirs and Simone’s smooth uplifting vocal delivery but, as expected, Epica doesn’t forget to add some rough borderline furious guitar riffing amplified by Mark’s venomous growls.

Overall, the tracks included on “The Solace System” are impeccably executed and showcase a palpable affinity with the album “The Holographic Principle” which renders them easy to love for all Epica’s devotees.

Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay

Legendary groundbreaking band Cradle Of Filth is ready to conquer even the most stubborn audience with the exquisite dark beauty of the brand new opus “Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay”. Following the ex novo success of the grandiose stylish album “Hammer Of The Witches”, Cradle Of Filth continues to fuel the lavish creative spark to produce an impeccable work of music.

With haunting orchestrations, obscure guitar melodies and ominously triumphant operatic choirs the opener “Exquisite Torments Await” is not your average atmospheric intro and gives you a taste of the utterly decadent nature of this new album.

“Heartbreak And Séance” emanates pure Victorian gothic splendor with darkly romantic guitar melodies entwined with ravishing classical orchestration & choirs while mastermind Dani Filth delivers majestic grim screams and venomous primordial growls through a convoluted crescendo of dreadful extreme rhythmic blasts.

“Achingly Beautiful” continues to celebrate lascivious Victorian gothic nuances as intricate alluring orchestral compositions offer succulent solemn layers further embellished by Lindsay Schoolcraft’s spellbinding voice. A sudden nightmarish lullaby breaks the fast paced plummeting rhythm with spectral magnificence portrayed by grandiose operatic choirs and dazzling melancholic keyboards while Dani renders everything absolutely obscure with ghoulish vocals through a wicked guitar riffing galore.

“Wester Vespertine” enhances intoxicating gothic vibes with fragile piano melodies, hedonistic orchestrations that provide highly dramatic epic vibes and Lindsay’s darkly soothing vocals. Dani confidently channels a perennial pitch-black renaissance while a distinctive climax of impossibly darkened addictive guitar melodies & impressive creative solos deliver an extra dosage of sinister charisma.

On “The Seductiveness Of Decay” guitar riffs acquire a tremendous classic metal energy as the rhythm becomes audaciously groovy with untamed diabolical speed and Dani matches the diabolical mood with extraordinarily savage vocals. Classical baroque orchestration remains steady in the background until tempo slows down to favor an epic sublime harmonious catharsis.

With eerie acoustic melodies and sinister narratives “Vengeful Spirit” showcases theatrical vibes but soon unleashes a rather bold guitar driven fast paced rhythm and a relentless vibrant shredded solo. As the composition returns to an opulent dramatic melancholia guest vocalist Liv Kristine delivers fascinating vocals inevitably triggering the delightful memory of her iconic performance on the masterpiece “Nymphetamine”.

With the current line-up Cradle Of Filth has embraced a marvelous resurrection that naturally leads to the creation of the current charismatic work of music. Cinematic like a vintage creepy horror movie and sumptuous like a classical operetta
“Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay” reconfirms Cradle Of Filth’s longstanding status as masters of the most elegant darkest metal par excellence.