My Dying Bride – Feel The Misery

My dying Bride has rightfully earned the title of legendary pioneers of gothic/doom metal and has never ceased to amaze the evergrowing faithful fanbase creating majestic soulful works of art. My Dying Bride’s newest release “Feel The Misery” is not just a must-have collection of obscure alluring songs but also an invitation to embark on a perilous journey through the an emotional twisted labyrinth of beauty and pain.

“And My Father Left Forever” is a cathartic complex opus with intense emotional depth. The elegant embroidery of doom melancholic guitar riffs which always pack a groovy beat and classically inspired decadent violin harmonies will inevitably drag the listeners into a spiritual turmoil. Aaron Stainthorpe takes the role of a tormented poet/storyteller and his clean vocals acquire a bleak funereal force that fully embraces the darkly oppressive musical theme.

“To Shiver In Empty Halls” channels My Dying Bride’s darkest primordial heart with heavily glacial haunting growls and impeccable anguished guitar riffs. Aaron’s clean vocals portray a magical wretched soundscape on a morbidly slower tapestry of sheer doom phrases that give way to a nightmarish lullaby.

The title track is another exquisite example of the band’s extraordinary songwriting skills. While Aaron’s vocals hold a mournful bitter strength the unbearable burden of misery becomes more palpable with the intensely tight rhythm section embellished by delicately soothing violin and keyboards.

“I Celebrate Your Skin” flows slow and heavy with gothic romance undertones and a mystical atmosphere that recalls the infamous masterpiece “The Crown Of Sympathy”. The heartbreaking soulful violin melodies and the asphyxiating despair of the escalating guitar riffs create an alluring contrast that culminates in Aaron’s poetic delivery.

“Within A Sleeping Forest” has a gloomy symphonic visionary depth effortlessly adorned by dreamlike shiny violin melodies that leave traces of a dim comforting light throughout the song. The constant perception of hopeless loss and eternal failure reaches a desperate acme with breathless riff patterns and eerie keyboards.

With “Feel The Misery” My Dying Bride delivers once again an eclectic work of music where creative passionate songwriting and dark sublime poetry become indissolubly entwined in a perennial danse macabre.

Monster Magnet – Cobras And Fire (The Mastermind Redux)

Monster Magnet’s new work of re-imagination entitled “Cobras And Fire (The Mastermind Redux)”could easily turn a listening party into an extra sensorial experience. Besides the healthy burst of creativity behind this alternative version of the band’s previous release “Mastermind”, there is an overdose of intense psychedelic fuzz that makes everything highly enjoyable just like a good epic trip should be.

“Watch Me Fade” features a stellar retro attitude exquisitely portrayed with the help of an old school organ while the catchy psych guitar riffs add a certain paranoia driven joyride feeling.

“Mastermind” shines for Mr. Wyndorf’s witty and soulful performance strategically centered in the middle of fuzzy loveable guitar riffs and that adventurous stoner groove that feels so damn good even while it’s fading away.

If you dare to follow Mr. Wyndorf’s psych rant on “Hallucination Bomb”, you might get entangled in a slow burning daydream, or full blown hallucination, where a smooth trippy guitar driven rhythm favors spiritual relaxation.

The cover version of The Temptations 1969 classic “Ball Of Confusion” holds the dirtiest garage band rock vibe skillfully mixed with a generous dose of psychedelic enchantment which makes everything super groovy and everybody gets ready to jump or dance uncontrollably.
The highly enjoyable guitar work leading the way on “Time Machine” brings the listener into a psychedelic tunnel where fairies might become real and men might learn to fly or what not. This instrumental mind trip tastes sweet and sour, a bit like The Doors, with everybody dancing in the desert surrounded by cacti and magical fluffy clouds.

You will not need to resurrect the original “Mastermind” to refresh your memory or over analyzes and rationalize the differences between the two albums because the re-imagined songs on “Cobras And Fire” own a brand new spiritual essence that will leave you dizzy and bewildered.

Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence

As the retro trend continues to spread intensely in the current metal scene, and visibly everywhere else, Swedish act Graveyard returns with a brand new release elegantly entitled “Innocence & Decadence”. If you’re ready to take a step back in time and enjoy the consequent sweet mindtrip you will be eager to listen to this album.
“Magnetic Shunk” is a wild psychedelic tune that relies on an uplifting savage tempo and high-register vocals in 70s rock decadent fashion. In the midst of accelerated guitar riffing crescendo, you can perceive a dark soulful reverie that recalls The Doors.
“The Apple And The Tree” is an effective concoction of mellow toned bluesy riffs that pay homage to Hendrix and vintage flirtatious rock groove. The perfectly lovable retro lead guitar work, full of sweet & dirty phrasing, builds an increasingly trippy sensation that must be savored slowly.
“Exit 97” is a languid serenade where every chord vibrates in a dusty field. With an exquisitely fuzzy blues delivery, rhythm and lead guitars create a heavily nostalgic vibe while Joakim Nilsson’s vocals add dramatic warmth in tormented rocker style.
“Too Much Is Not Enough” is a passionate song or a broken love spell that could have been recorded in the early 70s and should have been included in the soundtrack of Velvet Goldmine. The soul style female backing vocals and the absolutely unpolished guitar riffs create a mesmerizing sonic trance with a subtle catchiness that would easily get stuck in your mind.
“From A Hole In The Wall” is another song that calls for the legit abuse of the adjective “groovy”. Instrumentally, everything dwells between smoky blues guitars and heavier, even metal influenced, rhythm sections. Nilsson’s voice keeps the worn-out rocker style with elegant savoir faire while the rest of the band engages in a stoner rock genuine jamming session.
“Hard Headed” has the strongest psychedelic vortex where Graveyard goes on a careless hectic instrumental trip jamming all the way outside of traditional space and time rules. Here the guitar riffs are harder and eclectic keeping a super catchy energetic rhythm while Nilsson’s intense performance evokes the sexy languidness of Robert Plant and the wickedness of mastermind Dave Wyndorf.
“Innocence & Decadence” is definitely a pleasant collection of songs and positive vibes so get your bell bottom pants and floral shirt out of the basement and join Graveyard’s psychedelic journey.

Danzig – Skeletons

Those who were hoping to finally hear a brand new album will have to settle for a collection of covers carefully chosen and darkly reinterpreted by legendary Glenn Danzig. The songs included in “Skeletons” date to between 1962 and 1974 so this album is also a hymn to nostalgia and the forgotten luminous fragments of childhood. As a whole, the album leans towards a horror punk attitude that recalls Danzig’s performance in Misfits and the production is rather rough stripped of any fancy modern magic trick.
So, once all the skeletons are out of the closet, Danzig’s unique iconic voice takes the center stage as it always should. Biker flick theme “Devil’s Angels” and “With A Girl Like You” by The Troggs are straight no frills punk songs full of rough edges in a home recording fashion and of course Danzig resurrects all his signature Misfits style screams.
Gifted with a mysterious baritone range Danzig really needed to cover a song by Elvis Presley and “Let Yourself Go” turns out to be a great choice as it all sounds like a darkly catchy vintage rock song.
If you need something more metal Black Sabbath’s masterpiece “N.I.B.” will satisfy all your desires as Danzig’s darkest low vocals savagely and spontaneously embrace all those beloved doom riffs. “Rough Boy” by ZZ Top and “Crying In The Rain” by The Everly Brothers gain a late night creepy melancholic vibe.
In the end, the unsophisticated vintage nature of “Skeletons” will satisfy more the Misfits era fanbase and it all feels like a clandestine teenager’s karaoke boozy night in the basement, which is a lot of fun.

Draconian – Sovran

Draconian’s latest release “Sovran” is an absolutely delightful treat to celebrate, and survive, the dreadful grip of winter. It’s a relief to see that Draconian didn’t end up like many other bands that made poor choices when selecting a new female singer, in fact Heike Langhans’s vocals perfectly match every musical aspect of “Sovran” which embodies the band’s truly decadent gothic spirit.
“Heavy Lies the Crown” pays homage to that vintage gothic metal, certainly My Dying Bride, that we all still need badly in our withered lives. Loads of doom influences are perceivable in the slow & heavy guitar riffs while the lead guitar work delivers a more luminous tune, in general the instrumental breakdowns hold an extraordinarily dramatic feeling. Heike Langhans and Anders Jacobsson successfully deliver a terrific duet in Beauty & the Beast style but nothing seems dated or exaggerated as many would dare to say.
You will fall in love repeatedly with the mellifluous melancholy of “Pale Tortured Blue”. The haunting songwriting features romantically gothic super slow guitar riffing and soothing violins that create an everlasting atmospheric sadness further portrayed by Heike’ s emotionally fragile delivery and Anders’s sorrowful growls.
On “Stellar Tombs” Heike’s vocals acquire a multidimensional romanticism following a rather genuine musical layout enriched by highly harmonious chords. While Anders delivers a full array of grim vocals, the guitar riffs and the chorus hold an inner soulful catchiness in the midst of gloomy atmospheric arrangements.
“Rivers Between Us” has the unconditional sweetness of a dreamy ballad with the exquisite addition of darkly poetic melodies. Daniel Änghede from Crippled Black Phoenix provides passionately flawless clean vocals and the duet with Heike provides an overdose of enchanting romanticism while the intoxicatingly harmonious guitar solo is an effortless source of pure melancholy.
“The Marriage Of Attaris” has a magical poetic core that persistently delivers a transcendental despair even through heavier guitar riffing and deeply powerful growls. The melodic aspect of this song relies on classic gothic doom deliveries supporting Heike’s heartfelt vocals and that beloved renowned wintry gloom that elegantly, yet inevitably, engulfs every hope.
In the current chaotic metal scene it takes talent and courage to embrace art and poetry like Draconian continues to do on an honest, no special effects and pirouettes needed, work of music such as “Sovran” which all of you should relentlessly listen to and support.

Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud

Amorphis, one of the most prolific and enduring Finnish bands, comes back with a new album graciously entitled “Under The Red Cloud” that, once again, fully embraces all the beloved elements that constitute the band’s musical vision.
The title track stays true to the everlasting icy melancholy made in Scandinavia with mellow piano and guitar melodies, but there is still space for a folkish delivery that never disappoints. The soothing melodic nature of this track and the groovy memorable chorus will certainly please at the very first listening.
“The Four Wise Ones” delivers a mesmerizing gelid atmosphere where blackened primordial roots harmoniously embrace the folk melodic elegance that is a distinctive aspect of Amorphis’s legacy. Despite the towering presence of growls, the song’s main theme revolves around polished guitars and sorrowful phrases while the metal groove takes over the chorus with an unexpected energetic blast.
“Death Of A King” will easily become a favorite song as it pays homage to Amorphis original breakthrough style with that full blown folk groove that we all learned to love unconditionally. Among a soundscape of gelid darkness, you will find a tribal escapade of enticing percussions and magic flute elegantly supported by smooth melodic riffs.
You will find more magic flute dreamy extravaganza, effortlessly performed by Chrigel Glanzmann from Eluveitie, on “Tree Of Ages” where fascinating folk melodies fully embrace the traditional blackened roots embodied by Tomi Joutsen’s energetic growls.
“Sacrifice” relies on a catchy friendly melodic core borderline ballad, but the true star of the show is the guitar work, subtle yet empowering, that reaches its acme in the decadently romantic solo.
“Enemy At The Gates” evokes the mystical feelings of Nordic folklore and fairytales with captivating arpeggios, dreamy flute melodies and vintage flavored keyboards. At the same time, the sinuous song structure allows a rather primal dark soul where growls and guitars get on the heavier side.
“Under The Red Cloud” might not bring any shocking musical innovation but it certainly offers a generous musical variety that will provide a great relaxing listening for all Amorphis fans.

Moonspell – Extinct

For those who are “always under the spell”, the release of “Extinct” by Portuguese long standing act Moonspell can’t come soon enough. Some of the most alluring features of Moonspell’s music are the omnipresent passionate delivery and the rare courageous desire to cross those boundaries that should have never been set in the free realm of arts. So, in terms of songwriting style and artistic vision, what you will find on “Extinct” definitely feels like another spontaneous milestone in the evolutionary scale.
“Breathe (Until We Are No More)” holds a subtle strength that devours from within rather than your standard “right in your face” metal approach. The whole song structure and Fernando Ribeiro’s somber cleans remind me of that enthralling artistic thirst that made “The Butterfly Effect” a groundbreaking work of music. The powerful smooth tempo changes dwelling between fast drumming and slower crystalline guitar riffs render this song very interesting. The elegant addition of the Turkish based orchestra Mumin Sesler string group brings a magical atmosphere that cannot be missed (7 violins, 3 violas and 1 cello is just an irresistible combination).
It might require multiple listening to fully comprehend and appreciate the musical concept of the title track, but it is safe to say that the highlight that will immediately conquer your heart is the extremely feverish and technically excellent guitar solo. Overall, the quite energetic luminous rhythm can be easily associated with a strong spiritual force while Fernando’s vocals hold an intense everlasting darkness.
“Medusalem” delivers a monumental spiritual complexity with an unexpected mix of straight forward gothic rock rhythm and Middle Eastern phrases that might not be easy to digest for the average listener. The orchestra work here adds a majestic and heartwarming atmosphere that is considerably escalated in the semi acoustic breakdown and guitar solo.
“Domina” has guitar driven composition with a seductively softer and darker vibe. Fernando’s clean vocals are particularly emotional and insightful as are the lyrics and the keyboards arrangement further enhances the melancholy, the unspeakable feeling of loss and that whole overpowering darkness that surrounds us all. The poignant value of this song is perfectly expressed and interpreted by the outstanding lead guitar work which features a fervent memorable solo.
I couldn’t agree more with the lyrics and the title of “The Future Is Dark” and, in general, the concept of extinction expressed on the album. This might be a slow track with a hint of ballad style here and there, nevertheless the overwhelming emotional dark flame and sorrowful delivery perfectly portrayed by the soothing vocals and guitar solo will inevitably capture your senses.
“La Baphomette” is one those hidden gems that will be misunderstood by many but addictively worshipped by few. This is the one song that holds a truly unique strength with the vintage piano melodies, the charming whisperings, it all feels like a long lost enchantment that comes from the ancient Lusitanian folklore or like a love potion with surprising side effects.
Considering that the metal scene keeps on facing a dark time of stagnation due to the obnoxious sets of rules and schemes that every band seems to be forced to follow to avoid tasteless criticism an hopefully reach some sort of general consensus, I truly hope that a niche of listeners void of any unconstructive prejudice still endure. At the same time, I can’t help but wondering how being able to freely express your feelings and follow you creative force has become a flaw. Do yourself a favor and just listen to “Extinct” without over analyzing and rationalizing each and every song because, after all, music is out there to be enjoyed irresponsibly and to the fullest extent.

Paradise Lost – The Plague Within

Paradise Lost is undoubtedly one of the few long lasting bands with an extraordinary influential career that overcomes the common boundaries of time and space. With the release of the fourteenth album gracefully entitled “The Plague Within”, the band has proudly reached another milestone and is still embracing the eternal darkness that has always been its symbolic signature.
“No Hope In Sight” will immediately conquer all with an intoxicating array of groovy guitar riffs that embody an overwhelming sadness. Nick Holmes elegantly delivers melancholic clean vocals and bitter growls while the rhythm section generates a claustrophobic feeling that devours from within. Despite the pitch black mojo that permeates every stylistic feature, this song bears a healthy dose of energy.
“Terminal” has a blackened primordial core that brings together raging elements of death metal and the depth of doom metal. Here the main attraction is symbolized by the synergy between the feverish rhythm and the dynamic guitar riffs.
“An Eternity Of Lies” shines for its fragile poetic atmosphere floating through a softer yet doomy rhythm. In the midst of an intense darkened melancholy, Greg Mackintosh’s persuasive smooth guitar solo introduces some enlightened uplifting sensations.
“Punishment Through Time” is excitingly filled with addictively catchy guitar riffs that recall the unforgettable glory of “Pity The Sadness”. Holmes’s vocals evoke a glowing energy that perfectly fits the wild rhythmic momentum.
“Sacrifice The Flame” features a rather classic, still generously attractive, approach where doom and true gothic embrace spontaneously. There is a cathartic mood, particularly enhanced by clean vocals and highly melancholic guitar phrases, that feeds off the slower and colder atmospheric layers.
Starting with ominous chants, “Return To The Sun” features the sonic intensity of the starving artist. While Mackintosh excellently concocts a deadly cycle of decadent guitar riffs that literally bleed emotions throughout the song, Holmes channels all his heartfelt vocal strength.
“The Plague Within” is a tremendous work of music in which Paradise Lost revisits and reinvents the gothic metal style that earned the band the status of pioneers of a genre which, contrary to popular belief, was never meant to fade away.

Metal Allegiance – Metal Allegiance

A fantastic all-star musical collective featuring Alex Skolnick, Dave Ellefson, Mike Portnoy, founder Mark Menghi and a generous number of renowned guest vocalists, cannot certainly go unnoticed. Even if in the past many supergroups full of talented musicians didn’t leave a mark on this world, Metal Allegiance’s self-titled debut album deserves a thorough listening.
“Let Darkness Fall”, featuring Troy Sanders from Mastodon, starts with straight heavy guitar riffs but it truly holds a dark side rather palpable in the chorus style and instrumental breakdown. When the rhythm slows down, a smoothly languid guitar solo and flamenco style acoustic guitars create a sharp style change that surprisingly never clashes with the song’s main metal theme.
“Dying Song” features beloved icon Phil Anselmo who delivers a sincerely passionate raspy performance. This song has a quite melodic core filled with melancholic arpeggios that evoke a solemn gloomy atmosphere. Portnoy’s impeccable drumming and fierce lead guitars swiftly & intensely build a faster classic thrash metal vibe.
“Can’t Kill The Devil” featuring legendary Testament’s frontman Chuck Billy has the expected thrash old school catchiness that triggers immediate headbanging. Besides the energetic vocal performance, the guitar solos, also featuring Phil Demmel & Andreas Kisser, deliver a feverish dose of vibrant techniques that increase the powerful groovy core.
Devoted prog fans will be more than pleased listening to “Triangulum (I. Creation II. Evolution III. Destruction)”. This song is a triumphant instrumental orgasm where Skolnick truly performs all kinds of wonders on guitar going full blown virtuoso borderline neoclassical style. The whole song is simply outstanding featuring a classic metal oriented beginning with polished mellow lead guitar that smoothly evolves into gracefully dynamic tempo changes. As the rhythm gains speed in recognizable Portnoy’s style, a series of painfully technical, almost avant-garde, guitar solos (featuring additional lead guitarists: Misha Mansoor, Ben Weinman, Charlie Benante, Phil Demmel, Matthew K. Heafy & Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal) bring the listeners into a reckless sound vortex.
“Pledge Of Allegiance”, featuring Mark Osegueda from Death Angel, feels like an exciting anthem with an everlasting metallic groove that will immediately attract the listeners. While Osegueda delivers his signature powerful screams, lead guitars work relentlessly to create inspiring music evolutions to make everything more appealing than your classic metal tune.
With an intriguing variety of styles and the obvious high level musicianship, Metal Allegiance’s debut album is a delightfully entertaining piece of music.

The Gentle Storm – The Diary

The Gentle Storm, featuring the lovely and talented Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen and renowned Ayreon’s mastermind Arjen Lucassen, must be the most exciting music project of the year and certainly a very ambitious one. The Gentle Storm’s debut release entitled “The Diary” is a concept double album comprising of a Storm side progressive metal oriented and a Gentle side where the songs are re-interpreted in folk acoustic fashion.
With a melancholic and romantic concept revolving around the tale of two lovers in the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, “The Diary” intensely delivers a grandiose mix of elegant melodies and inner creativity.
“Endless Sea” can be easily labeled as a masterpiece where symphonic metal meets exquisitely graceful melodies. The Storm version has a bittersweet majestic feeling, never exaggeratedly overpowering, where Anneke’s passionate delivery is perfectly adorned by violins and polished guitars. The Gentle version shines for the delicate and precise strings arrangement floating into an ethereal dreamy mood.
“The Greatest Love” features an epic orchestration and a powerful rhythm. On the Storm version the rock vibe smoothly accompanies and enhances an exquisite neo-classical arrangement. The Gentle version has a stronger folk attitude beautifully carried on by violins and Anneke’s emotional performance.
“Shores Of India” will become easily a hit with the super catchy exotic harmonized melodies and the soothing chorus. On the Storm version prog-symphonic guitars have a more dominant presence that will certainly attract the attention of a metal fanbase. The Gentle version shines for higher complexity in terms of arrangements and the presence of different charming instruments, such as sitar and flutes, which brings additional harmonic variations and texture.
On “Cape Of Storms” the epic orchestration returns triumphantly to evoke the compelling feelings of a perilous journey while Anneke’s melancholic delivery adds a subtle dose of romanticism. While the Storm version features highly dramatic strong notes, the Gentle has a classical approach focused on the gracious purity of the strings arrangement.
“The Moment” has a deeply dramatic vibe genuinely reflected on Anneke’s multifaceted and flawless vocals. Both the Storm and the Gentle versions are filled with heartbreaking melodies effortlessly combined with rather exotic tunes. Also the acoustic arrangement of the Gentle version, featuring a fascinating array of instruments, will certainly conquer the heart of any listener.
“The Storm” is one of the most mesmerizing songs filled with slightly dark emotions and an irresistible crescendo of rich dynamic rhythms. The Storm version is particularly addictive because Anneke’s captivating vocals’ layers, combined with a solemn operatic choir, create incredibly strong harmonies well supported by prog-oriented guitar riffs. The Gentle version still holds a surreal strength created by exquisitely alluring piano and violin melodies.
In the end, it will be very easy to fall in love with both aspects of “The Diary” which truly is an eclectic work of art not to be missed.