The Battle of Yaldabaoth sees Infant Annihilator partially reducing their “core” elements, in favour of a more techdeath/symphonic approach, matched by a more mature songwriting, an improved riffing and generally a more eclectic approach, making up for what is surely their best album to date, and one of the most thrilling extreme metal releases of this year.
Following a very successful crowdfunding campaign, Scarlet Stories released their debut full-length album Necrologies on 19th September 2019. Ranging from gentle acoustic pieces to lengthy and powerful progressive metal epics, massive doom metal soundscapes and really creative atmosphere, this band has put together an impressive record that will get the attention of anyone with a refined, eclectic taste but will also satisfy the avid headbangers! Represented by an artwork that you’d rather expect to see on a book than an album cover and encapsulated between a Prologue and an Epilogue, this album will take you through dark and penetrating tales that will really get you thinking. And to top it off it was recorded and produced by Joost van den Broek which obviously means, the sound quality is through the roof. Dutch prog strikes again!
After a 3 year hiatus, Canadian extreme metal outfit The Agonist has returned with their strongest album so far. Orphans is a neck straining collection of 10 beautifully crafted and carefully built juggernauts. Epic riffs, intricate structures, relentless drums and amazing vocals will immerse you in 42 minutes of furious delight. This album shows massive improvement on the band’s side as well as in the album’s production, delivering some of the most engaging adrenaline loaded music that 2019 has given us.
High caliber black metal with the fantastic ability to fuse suffocating dissonance and anxiety-ridden uneasiness into a highly palatable, ear catching monument to the impending blackness when life is over. Hrůza zvítězí (which translates to Horror Will Prevail) is the aural equivalent of realizing all effort is ultimately worthless. But instead of withering under that immense weight, Kostnatění rages with an assault of finely crafted dissonant black metal. The five varied yet focused tracks will leave an impression of enveloping dread and a hint of the unbridled anxiety that served as the inspiration for the artist.
Weeping Sores is a project featuring the vocalist and drummer of tech death veterans Pyrrhon, along with Tchornobog bassist Gina Eygenhuysen, who plays violin here. Knowing that Weeping Sores is a doom/death band with a violin might conjure expectations of My Dying Bride, and while there is a little of that here, the band largely eschews any melodramatic gothic influence, opting instead for a more death metal oriented, filthy sound. The tech death influence comes through slightly as well, with some chunky, staggering riffs and busy drumming. False Confession comes off as a mashup of early Paradise Lost and Autopsy, with a violin that compliments the music and attempts to do something new with the instrument for doom/death without resorting to weepy riffs. Weeping Sores is a good fit for I, Voidhanger’s experimental roster and highly recommended for fans of unusual doom/death.
In the grand tradition of the older Nordic melodic black metal pioneers in Dissection, Old Man’s Child and Troll, the great white north has birthed a truly formidable beast in Arctos. Forgoing the overt occult character of these outfits and influenced to a degree by the drawn out, droning and contemplative character of more recent atmospheric offerings from the scene, their debut LP Beyond The Grasp Of Mortal Hands is more of a measured and sorrowful affair that, nevertheless, is sure to dredge up memories of how great the style was at its height in the mid-1990s. Proud are the nation of Canada and Northern Silence Productions for giving us all such a fine slab of frostbitten melodic blackness.
Norwegian Borknagar are one of these bands that managed to take their original sound and continuously expand it into previously unheard of directions without alienating their fanbase, similar to what fellow Norwegian bands Enslaved or In The Woods have done as well. Building on a melodic black metal foundation and exploring into progressive music, both rock and metal, the band around mastermind Øystein Brun pays homage to the ragged yet majestic beauty of their homeland with their aptly titled latest effort True North. Once more branching out into several directions, the new album, too, manages to unite seemingly at odds musical styles into a mesmerizingly fluid and cohesive whole that has the potential to tap into several fan camps without ever evoking the feeling of consciously attempting to. Borknagar stay true to their course of testing out the edges of their previous albums and doing so with amazing quality.
Summer’s over. That means the time for beaches, bimbos, and barbecues is at it’s end, being instead replaced by the dark, wind, and cold. However, this is the perfect season for a dwarf! And what better way to explore your potential dwarfhood than cranking out the meanest, mightiest of man-metal? Enter Wind Rose, Italy’s finest dwarf metal army, and their fourth album, Wintersaga. As the band’s most rugged album to date, it’s as if it was smithed in the forges of Khazad-dum itself. If its epic chants and upbeat hymns aren’t enough to get you into the season, maybe its melodeath and prog tendencies will!
Excalion’s second comeback record after a 7 year hiatus has them on a victory lap. 2017’s Dream Alive was indeed great, but Emotions ups the stakes and the quality ever so slightly by possibly being the Finn’s best work to date…certainly their most fluid. The album ebbs and flows from one song to the next, encapsulating different emotional vibes as it goes, but firmly remains in their melodic power metal framework which they execute with aplomb. From the stellar “Trust” to the dramatic finale “Callsigns”, Emotions is a special album that will always touch the nerves of the most steely of metalheads.