Amorphis – Queen Of Time

A new album by Finnish masters Amorphis is bound to generate curiosity and high expectations as during a successful thirty years career they conquered a seminal status in the metal scene and never really disappointed the fans therefore it is a pleasure to finally listen to the latest work of music “Queen Of Time” which feels even more cinematic and inventive featuring also an orchestra & choir.

Creating a massive sonic impact “The Bee” manages to evoke a profoundly archaic essence while being absolutely relevant in the modern metal scene skillfully mixing darkened extreme roots featuring intense guitar riffs & insanely powerful growls and a majestic catchy melodic ensemble effortlessly enhanced by the elegant creativity of Santeri’s keyboards arrangements shifting from ethereal atmospheres to complex layers that deserve your full attention.  

On “Message In The Amber” the sheer beauty of the solemn choir contributes to create huge epic vibes amplifying the Finnish folklore elements that are, as always, a crucial element of the band’s signature style and here become extremely dominant in the rich melodic guitar work and the charismatic keyboards layers but you will also find harsher monumental rhythmic sections.

“Daughter Of Hate” will immediately stand out for the darkly melancholic nuances amplified by the graceful melodic guitar work as the rhythmic patterns temporarily slow down to focus on authentic emotions before fully embracing heavier guitar driven grooves accompanied by hellish growls while the saxophone piece is a deliciously unexpected addition and the ancient folk spirit will become more palpable when lyricist Kainulainen delivers a soulful narrative piece.

“Heart Of The Giant” begins with charming gloomy guitar phrases soon joined by the impeccable grandiose sound of the whole instrumentation to deliver sumptuous melodies and a shimmering rhythmic crescendo that will lead to the choir’s dramatic nuances and a spellbinding series of keyboards & guitar acrobatics.

“Amongst Stars” takes you to an ancient forest with magical folk flavors crafted by stunning uplifting melodic guitars, flute harmonies and dazzling keyboards but certainly the enchanting  voice and the genuine passion of Anneke van Giersbergen will often steal the spotlight.

While keeping similar majestic tonalities “Pyres On The Coast” acquires a renewed sense of darkness as Tomi’s impeccably diabolical growls seem to emerge from a forgotten abyss and guitar melodies deliberately evoke gloomy feelings while the vibrant splendor of guitar & keyboards soloing cannot be missed.

Being a prolific band Amorphis has always delivered compelling albums and as a result of a natural evolution, forward thinking  and meticulous attention for details “Queen Of Time” feels particularly mature keeping alive the quintessential Nordic nature of the band mixed with a sublime intricacy and an ex novo creative force that at this point truly feels unstoppable.

Queen Of Time

Dimmu Borgir – Eonian

It’s been so long since successful extreme metal masters Dimmu Borgir released an album therefore fans are very curious to hear what the band has been concocting on the new effort “Eonian” which definitely amplifies the symphonic elements without sacrificing the arcane black metal roots.

The grandiose atmospheres of “The Unveiling” simply cannot go unnoticed as the elegantly sinister orchestrations surround the splendor of the operatic voices of the Schola Cantorum Choir. Such majestic introductory tonalities will be continuously amplified by the additional keyboards acrobatics and the massive dosage of enthralling symphonic arrangements but there are also intensely blackened moments diligently crafted by obscure guitar riffs and monolithic drum work.

The blackened groovy essence of “Ætheric” is immediately evident as guitars deliver loads of strong darkened riffs that will embrace the opulent symphonic orchestrations which create elaborate sumptuous melodic tapestries naturally leading to multiple esoteric & epic soundscapes.

“Council Of Wolves And Snakes” is immediately drenched in darkness with howls and atmospheric layers. While the primary rhythmic dynamics are not always particularly concerned about breakneck speed or traditional black metal elements the occasional blackened momentum featuring Shagrath’s signature diabolical vocals emerges through the decadent beauty of the orchestrations, the gothic tinged melodic guitars and the absolutely spellbinding choirs which definitely enhance the solemn & mystical tones of this track.

“Lightbringer” draws major inspiration from the band’s old school black metal roots as venomous guitar riffs and thunderous drums march fiercely in the midst of luciferian atmospheres and abyssal darkness with precise faster grooves while orchestrations & choir focus on symphonic opulence.

On “Archaic Correspondence” there are some blistering blackened guitar riffs and menacing drum blasts leading the way with growing fervor and wicked tonalities further enhanced by hellish theatrical vocals while symphonic accents and refined keyboards harmonies evoke darkly compelling melodies.

Sulphurous atmospheres surrounds the guitar driven blackened mood of “Alpha Aeon Omega” as once again a symphonic ensemble of magnificent orchestrations, gloomy melodic keyboards and opulent choirs embellish the inner hellish & heavier rhythmic dynamics.

In the end, “Eonian” might not delight the entire fanbase but, celebrating a twenty five years career, Dimmu Borgir confidently creates a darkly majestic album that naturally follows the band’s artistic evolution.

Eonian

Tax The Heat – Change Your Position

British bluesy rock band Tax The Heat returns with the explosive rhythmic dynamics and refreshing composition skills of the latest release “Change Your Position” which definitely aims to gather a wider fanbase.

“Money In The Bank” marks an exceptional beginning proving the band’s diversified music approach with an attractive somber mood well supported by super crunchy guitar riffs that hit hard building a rough rhythm and gritty leads while vocals shift from emotive delivery to a more powerful rocker style.

The title track is filled with energetic rock segments that favor multiple melodic hooks matched by sensational big choruses and in general guitars tend to focus on a glamorous melodic repertoire but a wicked riffing is still present in the midst of the modern catchy rock galore.

“All That Medicine” is all about intricate yet very accessible rhythms blending some old school rock essence skillfully embedded in the gritty guitar riffs and a more modern rock interpretation that ensures a series of big grooves briefly interrupted by a melodic slightly gloomy breakdown.

The relentless upbeats of “Taking The Hit” easily generate all kinds of catchy rhythms and while the music core definitely draws inspiration from classic hard rock with loads of thick guitar riffs and fancy solo the band continues to experiment to achieve originality.

“Wearing A Disguise” acquires a darker atmospheric mood favoring slower rhythmic patterns and intensely melodic guitars that will dominate the song’s structure providing entertaining variegated textures yet the polished vocals of the chorus certainly maintain a catchy soft rock style.

The rhythmic diversity of “The Symphony Has Begun” is immediately palpable as the whole instrumentation temporarily tones down to offer pure melodic melancholy enhanced by minimalist acoustic phrases and particularly emotional vocals while guitars will often add edgy vibes and slow burning bluesy passages.

“Change Your Position” is an album filled with big choruses and positive energy but also offers scattered contemplative vibes and certainly Tax The Heat have worked hard to conquer the audience’s full attention.

 

Nightwish – Decades

Not many bands can celebrate an exceptional twenty years career and when it comes to Nightwish there is no doubt that the Finnish indisputable masters of symphonic metal have rightfully achieved this milestone with talent and relentless commitment so here comes a massive world tour during which the band will play many favorite ‘oldies’ accompanied by the release of the compilation of re-mastered songs “Decades”.

You all know that three different vocalists have fronted Nightwish and they are all rightfully present on “Decades” so of course there are the newer songs “The Greatest Show On Earth” and “Élan” with current amazing vocalist Floor Jansen but inevitably the majority of songs feature the unforgettable voice of Tarja Turunen since she was in the band for ten years and contributed to the breakthrough success of songs such as “Sleeping Sun”, “Elvenpath”, “Nemo” and “Wish I Had An Angel” and even the original demo for the song Nightwish is included.

Unfortunately there are many marvelous songs that are not included in this greatest hits but listening to Nightwish is always an amusing experience so for all devoted fans “Decades” is a way to re-discover many beautiful songs and join the band in this nostalgic retrospective journey while newer listeners will enjoy the opportunity to learn more about the band’s previous work.

Memoriam – The Silent Vigil

If you paid attention last year you should have not missed the debut album of Memoriam, the new project featuring ex-Bolt Thrower veterans Karl Willets and Andy Whale. One year later, the band is ready to offer another massive round of old school death metal anthems on the new release “The Silent Vigil”.

“Soulless Parasite” truly holds the raw feelings of death metal unleashing traditional thick guitar riffs & bass lines perfectly supported by massive drumming and Karl’s signature vocal style as the whole instrumentation appears to be very focused on the chosen music pathway fully reminiscing the glorious days of death metal in the midst of a doom tinged atmosphere.

“Nothing Remains” further amplifies the band’s death metal roots as guitars acquire a faster punishing attitude matched by a monolithic rhythmic section that confidently ensures high impact and headbanging friendly dynamics but doesn’t refrain from adding diversity with groovy variations.

“As Bridges Burn” immediately channels doom nuances and feelings of desperation through a series of untamed guitar riffing always supported by an intense rhythmic ensemble that draws strength & inspiration from the mournful depths of death metal especially when the whole instrumentation gains extra speed and consequent menacing quality.

“The New Dark Ages” becomes aptly darker with a monochromatic sonic assault meticulously built by hellish guitar riffing and majestic drums but again there are plenty of almost accessible grooves that occasionally slow down the rhythmic ferocity with some melodic accents but certainly maintain a true death metal essence.

“Weaponised Fear” features heavy doom nuances and darkened atmospheres that enrich the classic raw textures of death metal with the addition of haunting guitar melodies and slightly complex rhythmic variations but once again the band stays true to the expected familiar instrumental dynamics.

Conceptually based on themes of loss and dissolution “The Silent Vigil” reveals a somber contemplative side yet Memoriam is committed to deliver absolutely traditional death metal also using a raw underground style production.

Michael Schenker Fest – Resurrection

Under the moniker Michael Schenker Fest legendary rock guitarist Michael Schenker releases the latest powerful effort “Resurrection” and for this occasion he has gathered the three M.S.G. singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, Doogie White (Michael Schenker’s TEMPLE OF ROCK) as well as musicians Steve Mann (guitars, keyboards), Ted McKenna (drums) and Chris Glen (bass) plus guest appearances from Kirk Hammett, Wayne Findlay and Michael Voss-Schoen are included.

“Heart And Soul” ensures a bombastic beginning unleashing tight old school rock/metal guitar riffs slightly embellished by some subtle symphonic accents while vocals also follow a familiar rocker style and through the solid stomping rhythm Schenker is ready to impress the audience with the expected dosage of elegant shredding and killer guitar acrobatics.

“Warrior” starts slower feeling almost like a standard rock ballad and the whole song does maintain a pleasant melodic essence yet there are also some chunky riffage and battle style big choruses to add rhythmic variations which will ultimately lead to a necessary round of charismatic lead guitar work.

On “Everest” guitar riffs skillfully build more frenetic rhythmic patterns properly bearing classic rock flavors and in general guitars take the expected spotlight delivering multiple compelling licks and solo that will certainly please the listeners.

With a faster tempo “Time Knows When It’s Time” offers some turbulent rhythmic segments but the main melodies diligently follow ‘80s melodic rock templates with the addition of easy big choruses and the whole song ultimately relies on the elegantly precise guitar work.

“Anchors Away” becomes more melancholic with a sumptuous atmospheric background on which guitars and vocals will craft classic catchy melodies with remarkable ‘70s nuances and the polished melodic guitar solo definitely matches such mood.

The instrumental track “Salvation” showcases higher complexity starting with soft atmospheres which introduce a series of highly entertaining guitar melodies that effortlessly express somber emotions as well as classic hard rock flavors as Schenker focuses on his renowned style to deliver impressive progressions.

“The Last Supper” offers another compelling moment with a widely accessible mix of melancholia infused melodies and crunchy guitar riffs that hold a nostalgic ‘80s classic rock mood favoring slower rhythms spiced up by a dazzling guitar solo.

It would be hard to describe this album as groundbreaking but undoubtedly “Resurrection” is an explosive collection of songs designed to please Michael Schenker’s devoted fans and in general classic melodic rock lovers as it contains many catchy classic vibes perfectly executed according to Schenker’s signature fancy style.

Earthless Live in Chicago

Another sold out show at The Empty Bottle in Chicago concluded the North American tour of psychedelic rock power trio Earthless which performed a hypnotizing jam guided by the incredibly talented guitarist Isaiah Mitchell and also played several songs from the critically acclaimed new album “Black Heaven”. The band is already back on the road in Europe and will later return for a second tour leg in North America so don’t miss the opportunity to see them live!