Kabbalah – The Omen

Spanish occult rock trio Kabbalah opens the doors of a deliciously dark realm on the sophomore full-length “The Omen” channeling the timeless essence of 70s heavy, doom and psych. 

“Stigmatized” revolves around the irresistible occult rock flair which naturally thrives within the spooky atmospheric ensemble enriched by fuzzy melodic passages while the doom worshipping is clearly embodied by the heavier riffage.   

“Ceibas”constantly maintains a cryptic mood as the darkened tonalities of the guitar work become essential in the creation of gritty riffs and haunting melodic progressions embellished by enchanting vocal harmonies. 

“The Ritual” manifests a strong doom force as the monolithic guitar riffs lead to obscure yet absolutely catchy rhythmic patterns and fuzzy crescendos that also highlight the fascinating retro vibes. 

Drenched in seductive darkness “Lamentations” follows a slower tempo that emphasizes the charming hazy melodies and the graceful vocals flowing through a lugubrious sonic realm spiced up by the raw energy of the guitar work. 

The 70s style of the heavy guitar riffs hold a fundamental role on “Liturgy” amplifying once again a strong classic doom influence while the alluring melodic passages and the soft harmonious vocals enhance the esoteric flair.  

Listening to “The Omen” you will feel compelled to embrace its perennial sultry darkness as Kabbalah confidently bring to life a bewitching occult rock grimoire. 

Vajra – Irkalla

NY-based band Vajra aims to conquer a wider audience manifesting a mystical sonic vision on the new album “Irkalla” which is the first part of a trilogy exploring the various levels of consciousness. 

Listening to “Maya” you can perceive delicious darkened vibes flourishing through the catchy blend of moody melodic phrases and groovy rhythmic progressions enriched by Annamaria Pinna’s charismatic vocal performance. 

On “Crown Or Crucify” darkness & light naturally entwine as the haunting atmospheric textures, the subtle electronic accents and the comforting melodies evoke bittersweet feelings that will lead to a quite accessible chorus. 

The dark rock soul of “Sever The Tie” leads to memorable guitar driven grooves but also holds an arcane flair as the tribal rhythm becomes essential in the creation of an entrancing experience emphasized by the spiritual essence embodied by the Annamaria’s charming voice. 

The instrumental track “Wind” marks an esoteric finale focusing on an ethereal chanting flowing gently through tribal percussion and trance inducing atmospheric waves. 

The atmospheric & melodic soundscapes of “Irkalla” certainly showcase a spontaneous creative freedom and even if the album is a bit short Vajra have a chance to raise interest in the underground scene. 

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.  

Azarath – Saint Desecration

Founded & masterminded by Behemoth’s drummer Inferno, Azarath manifest a majestic blackened death metal vision that will leave you breathless and shattered on the new offering “Saint Desecration”. 

Darkness descends triumphantly on “Death-at-Will” as a series of lugubrious guitar melodies will linger through the ruthless blackened realm fueled by the insane speed of drumming, the aggressive riffage and the hellish growls. 

On “Sancta Dei Meretrix” the visceral blackened essence is destined to prevail through the menacing rhythmic rampage enriched by the technical accents of the excellent guitar leads and the ritualistic style of the growls.  

“Fall of the Blessed” once again focuses on the malignant strength of the drums to create asphyxiating grooves while the guitar work emphasizes the inner darkness with cryptic tonalities and elaborate soloing. 

“No Salvation” features stylish mournful guitar phrases that foreshadow the increasing obscurity of the belligerent rhythmic march which relies on the precise drumming and the relentless riffs to convey pure rage. 

The enticing darkness of the melodic segments holds a fundamental role in “Reigning over the Death” which dwells within a mysterious world where the furious death metal core is bound to thrive unleashing monumental rhythmic blasts. 

“Beyond the Gates of Burning Ghats” continues to follow a merciless extreme metal pathway as the towering drums dictate vicious dynamics enhanced by sinister melodic leads while in the final part the extensive charismatic guitar solo successfully creates an arcane melodic grandeur.  

In order to create the sonic onslaught embodied by “Saint Desecration” Azarath invoke an ominous force that inevitably generates punishing grooves definitely enriched by an intriguing melodic gloom. 

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. 

Imha Tarikat – Sternenberster

German blackened metallers Imha Tarikat unleash a savage sonic assault on the latest offering “Sternenberster” lyrically inspired by psychoanalysis and especially dream interpretation. 

The explosive nature of the whole album comes to life on “Ekstase ohne Ende” as the gelid guitar tonalites can lead to elegant melodic progressions and complex soloing while the heavier riffage and the tormented growls spontaneously generate a chaotic momentum.  

Certainly “Kreuzpunkt der Schicksale” holds the raw energy of punk yet the coldest blackened essence is bound to prevail as the unrestrained rhythmic section acquires speed to unleash ravenous blasts. 

“Brand am Firmament” relies on the lugubrious guitar tonalities and the full-throttled vocals to fuel a relentless blackened onslaught enriched by an intriguing series of intricate leads and a sorrowful acoustic finale. 

“Aufstieg” is full of extra heavy rhythmic dynamics as the aggressive drumming seems unstoppable yet the fancy guitar leads and the mournful calmer passages will add a necessary diversity. 

The title track channels some epic vibes through the hostile grooves created by violent riffage and monumental drumming and further amplified by the primal energy of the growls that ultimately lead to a twisted blackened vision. 

On “Sternenberster” Imha Tarikat confidently create an obscure sonic realm where the intense rhythmic rampage feels just like a cosmic outburst.  

Electric Hydra – Electric Hydra

Swedish rockers Electric Hydra channel an overdose of irresistible retro vibes on the debut self- titled full length.  

“It Comes Alive” marks the beginning of a wild ride as the chunky guitar riffs effortlessly generate all kinds of grooves keeping in mind a vintage rock blueprint certainly enhanced by the rebellious vocal delivery. 

On “Won’t Go To War (With Myself)” the guitar work has a chance to shine adding catchy leads to the inflamed rhythmic rampage and the resulting groovy attitude instantly puts you in a good mood. 

“Grab What’s Yours” continues to maintain a stellar rock energy yet the stoner doom elements feel essential within the fiery rhythmic ensemble and the dramatic narrative definitely amplifies the inner darkened nuances.  

“Iron Lung” relies on murky & moody guitar phrases to create a sultry melodic realm while the gritty riffage will channel a monumental doom flair leading to thrilling rhythmic dynamics enriched by the charismatic guitar leads. 

“End Of Days” holds a sleazy rock spirit as the frenetic guitar riffs supported by robust drum blasts take the center stage to build entertaining faster grooves that will evolve into a sorrowful melodic momentum. 

The final track “Rise From Below” can spellbind you with a hazy stoner rock soul and dazed atmospheric accents accompanied by soothing vocal harmonies but the fervent rhythmic ensemble is always ready to deliver memorable grooves. 

Electric Hydra have just begun their musical endeavor but on this explosive debut release they already manifest a charming artistic vision confidently channeling all the unforgettable glory of stoner & classic rock. 

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. 

Top 15 Records of 2020

Dool – Summerland 

On their sophomore album Dool fully embraces a seductive dark rock evolution crafting addictive songs emphasized by Ryanne van Dorst’s charismatic vocal performance. 

Personal Favorite Track: Summerland

 

Sólstafir – Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

The spellbinding sonic evolution of Sólstafir this time leads to intricate cathartic soundscapes filled with sheer melancholia and the musicianship is simply brilliant. 

Personal Favorite Track: Akkeri

 

Dark Tranquillity – Moment

Once again Dark Tranquillity showcase an unstoppable creative force combining sophisticated keyboards arrangements with the primal force of death metal to express vivid emotions.

Personal Favorite Track: In Truth Divided

 

Pain Of Salvation – Panther

Mastermind Daniel Gildenlöw continues to impress, embracing a convoluted sonic vision and a remarkably elaborate songwriting that can always surprise the listeners. 

Personal Favorite Track: Icon

 

My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion

This album marks a triumphant comeback for My Dying Bride effortlessly crafting a realm of perennial gloom & undiluted darkness. 

Personal Favorite Track: The Long Black Land

 

Draconian – Under A Godless Veil

The decadent beauty of gothic doom metal flourishes throughout the album as Draconian meticulously blend despair and enchanting melodic tapestries. 

Personal Favorite Track: Lustrous Heart

 

Molassess – Through The Hollow

This is also the best debut album of the year and Farida Lemouchi’s unique enchanting voice constantly enriches the complex psych-rock soundscapes. 

Personal Favorite Track: The Devil Lives

 

Secrets Of The Moon – Black House

Listening to this album you can easily escape from the burden of reality embracing the surreal dreamy essence of the melodic & atmospheric crescendos. 

Personal Favorite Track: Don’t Look Now

 

Paradise Lost – Obsidian

The majestic legacy of Paradise Lost thrives within the gothic doom grandeur of this album which also showcase a bewitching melodic essence. 

Personal Favorite Track: Darker Thoughts

 

Völur – Death Cult

This album belongs to an arcane sonic realm and Völur truly demonstrates their excellent musicianship and exquisite avant-garde approach. 

Personal Favorite Track: Dead Moon

 

Katatonia – City Burials

After a sudden hiatus, Katatonia have the chance to unleash an ex novo creative force that generates intense gloomy soundscapes.

Personal Favorite Track: Heart Set To Divide

 

The Birthday Massacre – Diamonds

The Birthday Massacre know how to create catchy albums and the alluring blend of 80’s electronica and darkened melodies will get stuck in your head.  

Personal Favorite Track: Crush

 

Forming The Void – Reverie

Forming The Void are destined to impress the audience as they channel all the cosmic energy to craft energetic grooves and trippy melodies. 

Personal Favorite Track: Onward Through The Haze

 

Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia

We all need an overdose of winter metal and Wolfheart are ready to provide all the gelid melancholic soundscapes as well as vicious grooves. 

Personal Favorite Track: Ashes

 

En Minor – When The Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out

The unexpected experimental musical endeavor of legendary Philip H. Anselmo is a wonderful surprise that leads to a harrowing collection of songs.  

Personal Favorite Track: On The Floor

 

Tombs – Under Sullen Skies

Created by mastermind Mike Hill, Tombs return with the new obscure offering “Under Sullen Skies” which dwells within a twisted blackened realm expressing a psychological turmoil. 

“Bone Furnace” immediately showcases visceral black metal roots with grave tonalites, tortured growls and pummeling drums yet the inner experimental nature comes to life through the atmospheric/electronic arrangements.  

“Void Constellation” shifts to a mournful doom approach as the monolithic riffage and the slower tempo become dominant while the refined melodic passages focus on depressing tonalities and contemplative vibes. 

The robust rhythmic section on “Barren” channels a raw blackened energy amplified by the anguished vocals while the slower moments lead to pensive atmospheric tapestries embellished by a generous dosage of enthralling melancholic guitar melodies. 

The painfully slow rhythm of “Secrets of the Black Sun” enhances the doom & gloom flair as the minimalist guitar melodies and the dramatic vocals seem to float within a dense atmospheric realm and will ultimately embrace a darkened heavier crescendo. 

“Lex Talionis” revolves around the ruthless & groovy rhythmic rampage fueled by super fast drumming and hellish riffage while the lead guitar work evokes strong ominous vibes delivering arcane melodic patterns.  

“Angel of Darkness” is drenched in darkness as a surreal atmosphere embellished by delicate vocals introduces monumental rhythmic patterns that can march relentlessly through the haunting keyboards arrangements. 

“Plague Years” begins with minimalist acoustic phrases swiftly followed by a menacing sonic assault with unrestrained guitar riffs and unstoppable blackened blasts while the understated atmospheric tapestries and the doom oriented segments convey immense grief. 

As Tombs continue to combine diverse influences and styles, the blackened fury and the post-apocalyptic motif of “Under Sullen Skies” can spontaneously unravel aggressive dynamics within a bleak sonic realm.