Kaledon – Carnagus: Emperor Of The Darkness
by Larry Best
On their tenth (!) album, Italian power metal mainstays Kaledon beef up the heaviness with remarkable results. The riffs on Carnagus: Emperor Of The Darkness are menacing, vicious and downright chunky. Michele’s convincing performance proves he is definitely the best vocalist the band have ever had, throwing away the “newcomer” tag instantly. There are even some impressive harsh vocals by James Mills from Hostile, giving another dimension to the album.
Kaledon have come a LONG way in terms of quality from their debut, but all the hallmarks of their sound remain intact—in fact, they have been veritably enhanced. The choice to base the record on an evil character from their own fantasy concept story was inspired; and I for one cannot wait for “Zordrak: Wicked Demonbeast of Hellfire & Death”
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
by Nathan Hare
God Dethroned hasn’t missed a beat in their long hiatus since 2010’s Under the Sign of the Iron Cross. Returning once again to the Great War, The World Ablaze delivers all of the trademarks of a God Dethroned album: razor sharp riffs, soulful leads, and Henri Sattler’s distinctive rasp.
For a band with as many career highlights as God Dethroned, The World Ablaze is both a welcome return and a strong reminder of why the band was great in the first place.
Ulsect – Ulsect
by Joshua Bulleid
Ulsect are easily the most interesting band to be ripping-off Gorguts in the post-Ulcerate era. By adding their own blackened, atmospheric twist to the traditional dissonant death metal formula, these Dutchmen have managed to bring a fresh take to an otherwise tried and true sound.
There’s something incredibly accomplished about Ulsect and its general aesthetic (look at that cover art!), but the fact that it’s only a debut record only adds to the excitement of this already incredibly potent offering. It might lack the baffling, over-the top abrasiveness that can be found on the recent efforts from Ingurgitating Oblivion and Dodecahedron albums (the latter of which acts they share a substantial amount members with), but there’s something to be said for slowing things down and making them more accessible, and Ulsect provides the perfect example of how to do that without compromising on artistic vision.
White Ward – Futility Report
by Hans Rot
May has arguably been one of the strongest months of 2017, with releases from The Ruins of Beverast, Nokturnal Mortum, and Loss—just to name a few—having the potential to top any year-end list. Ukrainian post-black metal act White Ward, however, have something to say about all this too—with their debut, Futility Report, which plays just as comfortably within jazz confines as its black metal roots.
Brass and axe do indeed make odd bedfellows but White Ward’s casual, lounge-like permutation is so refreshing and effective that they even sneak electronic elements and metalcore through the back door—all while keeping the listener’s red flags lowered when any lesser vision would raise them high.
Loss – Horizonless
by Neil Bird
A lot can change in six years. The world is certainly a different place, but The time between 2011 and 2017 has proven to be very kind to Loss. With stronger melodies and more varied vocals than it’s predecessor, Horizonless makes sure that anyone that forgot about this band will relearn very quickly.
Haunting and devastatingly bleak, Loss have given an already strong month and year a run for its money with this new release of continuing despair, which firmly reestablishes the band as leaders in utterly depressing doom.
Apocalypse Orchestra – The End is Nigh
by Alex Melzer
Folk is probably one of the elements that has been married with almost all genres, but it is rare that one sees it connected with doom metal. Sweden’s Apocalypse Orchestra change that in one fell swoop: their debut album The End is Nigh is an outstanding example of how to fluidly combine the two genres into one heck of a sonic experience.
Taking epic doom metal as foundation, the quintet spices it up with bagpipes, a little accordion, choirs, chants (“Pie Iesu Domine” anyone? Remember the monks in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Including whacking the wooden board on the foreheads?) and some growls and creates a grand sound that will easily appeal to fans of both camps. Remaining doom to the core, the folk elements are never pushed to the fore or used as a gimmick to create some originality, but they are well woven into the music and sound so organic that it is hard to imagine the songs without them. An outstanding debut for an ambitious band that should get them far!
Burning Shadows – Truth In Legend
by Don Anelli
After an incredibly fun debut, Maryland Heavy/Power Metallers Burning Shadows have certainly stormed onto the scene in a big way with their second release. Taking a more singular approach away from the concept album of their last effort, this one offers the same tight, crunchy riff-work that marches along at steady, mid-tempo stylings.
Truth In Legend delivers plenty of heavy, crunchy power metal packed with plenty of melodies all coming together into one strong punch; and, with the album switching nicely from mid-tempo marches to strong thrash-like gallops filled with more traditional metal riffing, there’s plenty of variety throughout. It does have a small problem with the overlong epic at the end, which seems out of place and somewhat plodding, but otherwise there’s plenty to like here for those who like their power metal with a heavy crunch, or trad-metal fans who can appreciate power metal melodies.
The Ruins Of Beverast – Exuvia
by Eric Ward
The dark, brooding and intense brainchild of Alexander von Meilenwald known as The Ruins of Beverast have struck again. This time around, the German black/doom project has a tribal flair stemming from the conceptual nature of Exuvia. The soul crushing riffs and incredible atmosphere on this album serve to call forth ancient Native American spirits to cleanse the Earth of the filth called humanity. Meilenwald’s drumming provides an extra gut punch of doom to “The Pythia’s Pale Wolves,” while also returning to the Native American war dance theme that permeates this album. Toward the end of the track, he launches into a bout of pure, unadulterated black metal fury with blast beats and double kick, accented by echoed death growls and the sound of howling wolves. Eventually, the track fades into dark carnival-esque keyboards with a layer of noise and howling wolves in the background.
It is no accident that every track on Exuvia ends in a similar fashion, creating a strong buildup as mankind wages a titanic struggle against the ancient cleansing spirits. As the struggle comes to a close, man loses the crown of creation and Earth becomes inhabited solely by natural creatures like wolves. Signaling this is the album’s incredible closer, “Takitum Tootem! (Trance),” which sounds like a dark, Native American war chant. Exuvia takes time to fully understand but once you do, it hits like a ton of bricks.
Norse – The Divine Light of a New Sun
by Shawn Miller
Australia’s Norse have been setting a consistently high bar of progressive black/death metal over the years. With their latest offering, The Divine Light of a New Sun, they continue down the rabbit hole of innovative yet pummeling music. With one of the most impressive drum performances so far this year combined with a dissonantly jarring yet bleak and decrepit sound, Norse pushes their sound into new territory once again.
The Divine Light of a New Sun is a dense and heavy hitting album, one that will no doubt require multiple listens, yet it’s highly rewarding in its density and complexity. This album manages to sound familiar in scope, yet truly original and alien in its delivery.
Find more great albums by following the links below, and do let us know if we missed anything in the comments.