Crippled Black Phoenix – Bronze

International dark rock collective Crippled Black Phoenix comes back with a new full length of rare musical intensity entitled “Bronze”. Besides the fascinating mixture of post rock/ shoegaze melancholic atmosphere, “Bronze” features an intriguing creative force characterized by kaleidoscopic musical influences and experimental sounds.

“Deviant Burials” delivers a mesmerizing ensemble of heavy vintage electric guitar riffing that holds a post apocalyptic energy in the midst of hypnotic atmospheric layers while Daniel Änghede performs inspiring harmonious vocals accompanied by wistful gloomy guitar melodies.

“No Fun” features a dynamic guitar driven groove with background layers of subtle psychedelic accents. Vocals keep a laid back softer delivery while catchy guitars create a solid wall of distorted sound throughout the song.

“Champions Of Disturbance (Pt 1 & 2)” is an impressively complex track that effortlessly combines multiple musical facets ranging from Pink Floyd inspired cinematic trippy atmospheres to retro psychedelic rock vibes. Keeping a general gloomy mood, initially guitar riffs build up a feverish sonic crescendo and then manage to create a healthy catchy groove full of acidic antics.

“Scared And Alone” showcases a tragic theatrical mood delightfully enhanced by Belinda Kordic’s poignant performance and entwined dreamy guitar and piano melodies. Tempo is significantly slowed down and guitars focus on subtle melodies while solemn haunting trumpets add dramatic depth.

“We Are The Darkeners” delivers memorable languid guitar melodies, soothing yet somber vocals and a heavily dark, almost with gothic nuances, atmosphere. The overall slower rhythm is strengthened by solid bass lines and quite catchy guitar riffs that always have an exquisitely retro flavor.

“Bronze” must be fully enjoyed and slowly savored at each listening, rather than over analyzed, because it is an absolutely compelling piece of music that shines for its dark eclectic nature and talented musicianship.

Circle Of Dust – Machines Of Our Disgrace

After almost 20 years hiatus industrial pioneer Circle Of Dust returns with an exciting science fiction themed full length album entitled “Machines Of Our Disgrace” and if you are familiar with artist/producer Klayton and his successful Celldweller project this new album will certainly grab your attention.

The title track is highly influenced by 90s style industrial metal with integrated sampled sound clips, programmed drums and a corrosive array of classic metal guitar riffs that create a seemingly chaotic groove.

“Contagion” has a dominant guitar driven crunchy music core with catchy riffs skillfully embellished by electronic beats in dance floor fashion.

“Embracing Entropy” might showcase familiar electro beats with a danceable synthetic rhythm but the music core mainly relies on simple easy to remember melodies.

“Humanarchy” features a faster heavy industrial metal approach with loads of distorted guitars, dense electronic effects and angry growls/screams while the chorus holds a catchy melodic vibe.

“Alt_Human” has a distinctive cyber approach with the addition of typical industrial elements such as loud guitar riffs that build a modern catchy groove.

“Malacandra” is an enigmatic instrumental track with a dystopian futuristic vibe where electronic effects and clean melodies are smoothly blended to produce introspective ambience harmonies.

A relevant and cohesive industrial electro mix with cool cinematic cyber accents makes “Machines Of Our Disgrace” an entertaining album which reconfirms Klayton’s artistic identity and unstoppable creative force.


Ranger – Speed & Violence

Finnish speed metal band Ranger delivers a new full length entitled “Speed & Violence” that showcases no frills and no special effects traditional 80s music themes as you can tell immediately from the album artwork.

The title track is all about leather and speed, and certainly violence, and it definitely represents the entire album’s mood. So you have the fast upbeat drumming, some classic guitar riffs followed by a fancy guitar solo and loads of high pitch vocals.

“Without Warning” has the same attitude and a similar rhythm as Ranger is not really trying to impress anybody but instead is just staying true to the chosen music pathway. Overall, this is a catchy track with tight guitar riffs and every instrument is characterized by a true classic metal sound.

“Satanic Panic” sounds fun with all kinds of catchy guitar riffs and drum beats in proper old school fashion. Besides the expected headbangers’ style relentless groove there are also nice guitar solos that spice up the classic music recipe.

“Night Slasher” has a good heavy rhythm but we all heard it before so it makes sense only if you’re feeling nostalgic. As the guitar riffs proceed relentlessly to keep the groove going all those high pitch screams become overwhelming but a well executed guitar solo provides a breathable break.

In the end “Speed & Violence” does not offer innovative or astonishingly creative music elements as it rather feels just like paying homage to old school famous bands, therefore it would be appreciated only by a specific speed metal fanbase.

Baptism – V: The Devil’s Fire

Finnish black metal masters Baptism finally return to the scene with the new blistering full length “V: The Devil’s Fire” which feels like a genuine collection of proper black metal anthems.

Featuring traditional black metal songwriting style “Satananda” has plenty of fury with blackened tight guitar riffs and heavy structured drumming that keep a relentless breathless groove with sparse melodic accents.

“The Sacrament Of Blood & Ash” shines for some enticing darkened melodic moments where Baptism create a gloomy emotional palette with clean vocals elegantly performed by Mikko Kotamäki of Swallow The Sun and dramatic guitar harmonies without sacrificing a traditional heavy rhythm.

“Devil’s Fire” is more straightforward with a dense dark groove filled of icy cold guitar riffs and fast drums, yet a delightful guitar solo adds melodic depth to the fast raw rhythm.

“Malignant Shadows” features a wintry atmosphere with slower heavy guitar riffs in gothic doom fashion but the majority of the song relies on a familiar black metal tormented fast groove.

Overall, “V: The Devil’s Fire” is a pleasantly cohesive work of music even if it doesn’t add particularly creative elements to the beloved iconic black metal style that Baptism faithfully portrays.

Meshuggah-The Violent Sleep of Reason

Meshuggah is back with its 8th album, “The violent sleep of reason”, released last October via Nuclear Blast.
Countercurrent the choice to record the album live in the studio, simultaneously with all members, I have to say it works perfectly.
The opener track “Clockworks” is one of the most violent in the album, with its 7:15 minutes takes the listener through a devastating and powerful journey.
“MonstroCity” has a devastating riff , the central part is very interesting with that injection of melody. The best guitar solo is absolutely in “Ivory Tower”.
The album’s lyrical themes are mostly on terrorism, extremist views on ideals and religious dogma.
On the threshold of the 30-year of career the band, even keeping the same line, has produced an impeccable album which can be easily appreciated by the extreme metal lovers.

Esben And The Witch – Older Terrors

English post-rock trio Esben And The Witch return with a dark spellbinding new album entitled “Older Terrors” which features a surreal soundscape filled of genuine emotional vibes and enigmatic sonic elements.

“Sylvan” is filled with delightful minimalist guitar melodies in a rather calm ethereal setting. Rachel Davies delivers emotionally charged vocals that towards the end of the song feel like long forgotten incantations while distorted shoegaze style guitars keep a deeply darkened mood. Subtle creepy sensations of eternal desolation are always evoked by pale harmonies and louder monochromatic guitar riffs.

“Marking The Heart Of A Serpent” delivers a mystical aura with minimalist slow motion sounds where Davies’s charming voice is the only guide towards a faint light. Even when guitars acquire some degree of distorted energy the dominating music theme relies on hypnotic simplistic melodies while the rhythm section gains the spotlight with a trippy nightmarish rock groove.

“The Wolf’s Sun” still has the same minimalist music theme but adds a more dynamic approach with alluring guitar phrases that hold a dark energy. There is a more cohesive catchy guitar driven groove with a less introvert atmosphere that at times can even convey a rather luminous vibe.

Overall, “Older Terrors” is an elegant mature piece of music that often feels like a cathartic musical experience guiding the listeners somewhere in the middle of enchanted woods where anything can happen if you just close your eyes and listen.

Diabulus In Musica – Dirge For The Archons

Spanish symphonic metal act Diabulus In Musica returns with the fourth full length “Dirge For The Archons” which features the familiar and beloved symphonic style that is still trendy and relevant in the metal scene.

“Earthly Illusions” has a majestic catchy groove in perfect symphonic fashion with the right dose of solemn operatic choirs. Crunchy guitar riffs tend to provide a heavy backbone while the dominant melodic features are constantly emphasized by atmospheric or triumphant keyboards.

“Invisible” revolves around emotional melodies well portrayed by Zuberoa Aznárez’s soprano style passionate vocals. Classical operatic choirs and atmospheric keyboards enhance the melancholic nature of this song and add a darkened aura.

“Crimson Gale” has a strong symphonic core that immediately reminds of renowned Dutch band Epica. On this song grandiose operatic choirs and inspired melodic arrangements are always emphasized while guitars seem to gain power and spotlight only when the growls take over to channel a heavier groove.

With a circus freak inspired atmosphere “Ring Around Dark Fairies’ Carousel” is a fun song that feels like a dark lullaby or operetta with some creepy keyboards accents while Aznárez delivers a rather luminous performance.

“Hiding From You” is a soft melodic track where, once again, keyboards arrangements are quite dominant while guitars seem to be pushed in the background except for a brief growls driven heavy moment. With a super catchy radio friendly chorus this song channels the romantic soul of a typical ballad.

“The River Of Loss” is all about pure melancholy channeled by layers of subtle dramatic keyboards, somber operatic choirs and fascinating vocals while the addition of growls doesn’t seem to be a must have.

Despite impeccable performance and execution “Dirge For The Archons” often suffers from lack of unique original ideas but if you’re in the mood for female fronted symphonic metal you might appreciate what Diabulus In Musica has concocted.

Arkona – Vozrozhdenie

Beloved pagan/folk metal band Arkona has re-recorded the debut album “Vozrozhdenie” originally released in 2004. While in the past few years Arkona’s sound has achieved maturity and originality, “Vozrozhdenie” clearly contains the familiar elements that have contributed to the band’s current popularity.

“Kolyada” effortlessly relies on a strong folk rhythmic core featuring alluring flutes while the guitar riffs and drums hold evident extreme metal aspects. Masha delivers brutal growls that are quite unique for this music genre and is also capable of performing charming melodic cleans that add luminous emotions.

“Kdomu Svaroga” features average intense guitar riffing with a fast rhythm but the softly melodic flutes tend to steal the scene and Masha’s clean vocals successfully evoke ancient folk roots.

The title track might be the most fascinating song on this album. While the main music core continues to showcase a smooth blend of folk themes and heavier grooves the highlight can be found in the memorable folk melodic elements focused on magical flutes, atmospheric keyboards and Masha’s charismatic vocals.

“Po Zverinym Tropam” delivers a solemn atmosphere and a catchy mid-paced rhythm that favors Arkona’s folk roots with somber chants and melodic flutes.

“Zov Predkov” has a mysterious aura emphasized by eerie symphonic keyboards layers that introduce the listeners to a furious yet rather gloomy rhythm.

“Vozrozhdenie” is definitely a solid interesting debut album that probably didn’t need a re-recording with fancy production to attract a wider audience.

Blind Ego – Liquid

Renowned RPWL virtuoso guitarist Kalle Wallner returns with his solo project Blind Ego to deliver the long awaited prog oriented third album entitled “Liquid”.

“A Place In The Sun” relies on a modern guitar driven metallic core adorned by dreamy layers of darkened melancholy. There are softer and slower atmospheric passages and a rather catchy chorus featuring a more rough rock attitude while the guitar solos showcase brilliant musicianship and enticing creativity.

“Blackened” features gentle acoustic passages filled with ethereal arpeggios that gradually give way to a widely accessible soft rock melodic theme while the guitar solo adds enjoyable polished prog elements.

On “Tears And Laughter” a blend of crunchy guitar riffing and melodic phrases evoke a somber serenity. The rhythmic section acquires multiple prog rock elements while Wallner performs a charismatic guitar solo with solid technical elements.

“Never Escape The Storm” has an understated melancholic soul perfectly portrayed by a fascinating series of inspired melodic guitar solos characterized by a crispy clean luminous sound. This song showcases a wistful emotional atmosphere enhanced by rather passionate vocals that smoothly shift from fierce, especially in the memorable chorus, to softer tones.

“Quiet Anger” is a mesmerizing prog oriented instrumental featuring blistering guitar riffs, a complex range of slick modern guitar solos and a genuinely energetic groove.

“Liquid” is definitely a versatile album filled with elegant prog and rock elements that could attract a wide diverse audience and would be a pleasant discovery for those who are not familiar with Wallner’s eclectic music style


Hierophant – Mass Grave

Italian extreme metal act Hierophant’s new album “Mass Grave” is meant to deliver a dark and violent mixture of grindcore and death metal with a dystopian vision.

“Hymn Of Perdition” opens with a bleak atmosphere and a sense of impending doom followed by visceral fast guitar riffing, blasting drums and desperate growls that add loads of chaotic anger.

The title track has a gloomy heavy doom soul with guitar riffs that actually convey a subtle melody and a slower rhythm but certainly brutal heavy elements are still dominant.

“In Decay” delivers a real accessible groove with undisputable heaviness built by a more structured range of guitar riffs and more precise drumming while a bleak hopelessness continues to dictate the mood.

“Sentenced To Death” features old school death metal elements even if the tempo is considerably slowed down in proper doom fashion and the heavy guitar riffs create a rather asphyxiating atmosphere with a dynamic moshpit friendly groove.

“Hierophant” is filled with uncompromising brutality with super fast guitar riffs while a brief breathable breakdown cannot bring relief in the perennial noisy chaos that feels too monotonous.

Hierophant seems to focus mainly on the creation of a rampage of brutal extreme songs and “Mass Grave” might not offer much more than that in terms of songwriting and creative force.