TMO Albums Of The Month – May 2020

We’re not even sure WHAT month it is anymore! Only that there are still great albums being thrown out left and right.

Illumishade – Eclyptic: Wake Of Shadows

by Andrei Dan

Keen on fantasy worlds? Fancy a good chug? Wanna hear a symphony? Or do you just feel like throwing a metal cocktail party? If the answer to any of those is “yes” then by all means check out ECLYPTIC: Wake of Shadows, the shiny, sparkling and wondrous debut album from Illumishade. And just in case the above description still didn’t strike your curiosity, keep in mind that this is the side project of Eluveite’s vocalist Fabienne Erni and guitarist Jonas Wolf, and that simply transports you into the highest spheres of musical expression. Everything from the structure and concept of this record to the composition itself and the jaw-dropping mix and master, is aimed to hook and impress. The variety of infectious tones is bound to soften the scrutiny from even the harshest of critiques. Heed The Calling Winds and traverse the Passage Through the Clouds. A dreamy adventure awaits!

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Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant

by George Dan

Caligula’s Horse, one of Australia’s most prolific progressive entities returns with their fifth full length in Rise Radiant, an ambitious effort that steps over some of the common aspects of prog records. As a contrast to the band’s most massive record to date, 2017’s “In Contact”, the new album keeps a more concise attitude and direct approach to both lyrics and song writing. Every song stands on its own and takes a hard-left turn from the one before, offering one of the most dynamic rides of the year. This gives infectious chug-fests like “Slow Violence” or “Valkyrie”, epic melodies and bombastic choruses as in the opener “The Tempest” and varied multicolored pieces like the lengthier “Salt”, “Autumn” or the imposing album closer “The Ascent”. Such rich creative diversity is the channel for addressing and expressing themes like perseverance, frailty alongside competence, and the virtue of getting back up in the face of difficulty. This is an album that most fittingly bears the progressive tag, a must-listen for all fans of the genre, and a statement that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

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Boisson Divine – La Halha

by Alex Melzer

Folk metal is a very wide genre and trying to properly define it sometimes feels like trying to nail jello to the wall. French (or rather Gascon) Boisson Divine are one of these bands that fit right smack in the middle of it with their hurdy gurdy, accordion, boha and pipes. Their third effort La Halha is yet another very fine specimen of folk metal that does NOT sound everybody else out there. They have this energy and characteristic vocals without ever going simplistic. Singing mostly in their local Occitan dialect (Gascon) they have carved their own niche that they have been diligently working on since their debut “Enradigats” showed up on the scene seven years ago. With songs such as the album highlight “Xivalièr de Sentralha”, “Suu camin estelat” or “Abelion” they prove that even after years of folk metal deluge there still are bands out there that can combine catchiness and quality with a unique character.

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Odraza – Rzeczom

by Antoni Nowak

Polish black metal duo Odraza is one of the most emotions evoking acts in the Polish metal scene lately. They interested black metal fans a lot with their debut album Esperalem Tkane back in 2014 and now surprisingly returned with Rzeczom. The album is full of un-obvious song structures and melodies, leaving room for interpretation lyrics (written in Polish) and not very typical to black metal genre vocals. It took me a while to get into it and I am still not a big fan, but I like it and appreciate it a lot and consider it the best album I’ve listened to that came out this month.

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Esoctrilihum – Eternity Of Shaog

by Nathan Hare

Esoctrilihum’s latest, Eternity of Shaog, is certainly one of the weirdest black metal albums I’ve heard in some time. And while I, Voidhanger has been pumping out quality releases like this for a while now, Eternity of Shaog is the pinnacle of what mainman (and sole member) Asthâghul has accomplished with this project. It’s hypnotic and psychedelic, with a non-linear, often experimental approach to songwriting. But it also contains plenty of blackened fury and is deceptively straightforward in places. Eternity of Shaog rides a fine line between coherence and insanity and is a dense, challenging listen, but ultimately one that is very rewarding as well. Highly recommended for fans of Blut Aus Nord, Howls of Ebb, and the Ruins of Beverast.

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Fen Walker – Sojourns In The Realms Of The Undermoon

by Shawn Miller
After two strong full lengths, Fen Walker unleashes the third part in a trilogy; the final journey of The Wandress, which is aptly titled Sojourns in the Realm of the Undermoon. While the hallmarks dungeon synth are present, Fen Walker delivers a breath of fresh air into the sealed vaults and catacombs. Dark, melancholic synths blend with entrancing, yet sparse percussion, following The Wandress through caverns and tunnels towards the final battle. An enchanting and enthralling listen, this is the perfect soundtrack to your next RPG session or reading some high fantasy.
Be sure not to miss the incredible finale with a crescendo of synths and crushingly electric guitar (played Jeff from Encloaked which is another amazing project you should check out). This is one of the top dungeon synth albums to drop this year.

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Cauldron Black Ram – Slaver

by Donat Fulop

Just in case you thought that the genre of black/death metal had nothing interesting left to offer, Cauldron Black Ram comes out swinging their heavy, suffocating riffs of their latest record, Slaver. While the band stays true to their roots to a certain extent, they sure came a long way since their (fantastic) debut Skulduggery. Reaching out to the death/doom audience, Slaver focuses on making the well-known relentless and barbaric sound a bit gloomier and occasionally slowing the tracks down. It’s a record full of the nastiest kind of bangers, what’s not to like?

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Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre

by Jackson French

Few are as adept at balancing melody and ferocity as Kvaen. This new Swedish black metal project’s debut album, The Funeral Pyre, is a cathartic blast of cold fury that elevates itself above most of the competition with an infusion of memorable songwriting. From the speed metal-influenced main riff in ‘Revenge by Fire’ to the dark, hypnotic spirals of notes in ‘As We Serve the Master’s Plan,’ to the anthemic forays into Viking metal in the title track and instrumental album closer ‘Hymn to Kvaenland,’ The Funeral Pyre is an impressive effort that should satisfy anyone looking for black metal that remains uncompromising even as it serves up a wealth of delicious melodies.

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Paradise Lost – Obsidian

by Edmund Morton

On an epic career swing that has taken in doom death, electronic rock, and the creation of gothic metal, Paradise Lost struck a balance with their sixteenth album that should satisfy almost any fan. With pronounced elements of ‘80s goth rock rubbing shoulders with the Yorkshire quintet’s recent obsession with breezeblock doom, songs like ‘Darker Thoughts’ and ‘Forsaken’ offer both immediate crunch and introspective nuance. Obsidian is a grower like most of PL’s releases, and another fantastic album.

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Fairyland – Osyrhianta

by Larry Best

If this album had been released on a normal album cycle, it would’ve been praised as another great Fairyland album and then taken its place among the Frenchman’s admittedly fantastic discography. After a mighty 11 years, it was a brave move (and the right one) to not try and make some huge comeback statement, but press onwards and give the fans an honest, sincere record that’s true to the band’s ethos. Osyrhianta follows all the pleasingly recognizable Fairyland tropes, resulting in an album which is both fresh and familiar. The rhythm section has been beefed up; the symphonics are lusher, warmer and more integral rather than over-powering; and the narrative takes a ‘prequel’ approach – making this the next logical step from 2009’s Score To a New Beginning. Phil Giordana & co. have set an impressive bar for symphonic power metal in 2020 and, after a decade of uncertainty, Fairyland are well and truly back on our radars.

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