Thalarion- Dying on The Scorched Plains 9/10
Thalarion is a band that has legendary status in the Slovakian Scene. Dying on the Scorched Plains is their first album in seventeen years and sixth overall. Their brand of death-doom with both Female and male vocals is also a very metal one.
‘’Dead But still in My Heart’’ is a beautiful doom/symphonic metal track that would not be lost on any Liv era Theatre of Tragedy album (no not the electronic ones). Petronela Hederova’s vocals soar with gothic romance whilst, Juraj Grežďo growls attempt to bring her back to earth. Into the Nowhere is one of the heaviest on the album that begins as pure death metal with a confession of sins and then the dynamics kick in before a glorious heavy metal riff comes out of nowhere and turns the track into a stomping headbanging journey that is overwhelmingly positive. Whilst Sub Rosa is just pure metal with whispered vocals and deathly growls.
On first listen Dying on the Scorched Plains carries a lot of heavy metal riffing and a lot of elements that fans of Therion and Tristania will also take great joy in. At times the dynamics between darkness and light are a little jarring, but then you discover they are time changes on the musical adventure as on Wandering Minstrel’’.
‘’Burning Pile’’ is heavy death doom that features more of Petronela Hederova’s beautiful vocals and touches of traditional Slovakian elements. To dismiss Dying on the Scorched Plains on the first listen is a mistake. The more you invest in it, the more you receive Early 00’s gothic doom-inspired metal is undergoing a resurgence and Thalarion deserves to be at the front of it.
Cryptivore - Cryptivore – Celestial Extinction 9.5/10
One-man Chaotic death metal Act return with the long-awaited follow up to the Unseen Divinity Demo from 2017.
Hailing from QLD Celestial Extinction is such a cohesive effort that it is impossible to tell that it is the result of just one person’s (Chris Anning) Intensity. It’s short, sharp, heavier than a box of rocks which it also does, and with some nice twin harmony guitar parts in places.
Australian Death metal is unique and Cryptivore keeps this fair dinkum no-nonsense sensibility true to its nature. Its fierce, raw, and visceral, it takes the next step from icons Manticore and Obfuscate Mass and pursues darker territories. Cadaverizor and Clandestine Ruination, employ some of those glorious early nineties grind tone and the tracks are short, in, out, tear it up, break everything and move on. Not all one dimensional however as Monastery Worms and Solemn Desolation mix the tones and the tempos. An album so fierce and infectious you have to go back to catch the things that were missed on the first several listens.
Celestial Extinction combines the best of death and grind and mixes it with some pure metal and progression (think Amorphis) and creates a release that whilst at times seems familiar carries its own unique identity, an album that never outstays its welcome and is deadly in its intent. Then 10 tracks hurl you down a deathly heavy path that combines the traditional with the atmospheric to deliver a varied release that commands multiple listens.
Throwe – Forfald 8.5/10
Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark Throwe (From the term Suffocating Death) unleashes their debut album on an unsuspecting world mixing Metal with Hardcore and Black Metal!?
Its an odd combination that admittedly does take a little time to find its feet Forfald is an album that spits vitriol and is driven by the vocals of Kim Rock and Guillermo Agustin Papetta that alternate between blackened rasps and pure hardcore fury from English to native Danish, they reflect the struggle of life and its inevitability.
The tremolo picking is there as is the huge metal beats and hardcore crunch. It is delivered passionately and intensely, when Throwe stop to draw breath as on Livslede the result is phenomenal, a riff that starts as black metal and then mutates into something otherworldly with a solid rhythm that drives and grooves without losing its edge. The title track Forfald (Decay) best represents their angst and aggression, and some serious metal riff writing chops. The vocals rage constantly throughout, its blazingly honest, bristling with energy and you can literally feel the power these tracks would represent live and their intent to get you moving.
Hammer and Nails carries more of the metal and its bleakness, direct with that lack of subtlety only hardcore and black metal has without the fantasy. Deliberately confrontational Forfald is a fantastic stirring debut that merges some unique distinct styles of extreme music into a furious combination that is pure aggression! Recommended.
Blazemth- The Return of Lucifer 8.5/10
Legendary Spanish act Blazemth releases their first full-length album after a series of EPS and split releases. The result is an album that not only honors the horned one but battle and darkness, a black metal style that has been perfected since their beginnings in 1993 as Daemonum.
The Return of Lucifer is an openly aggressive unsubtle raw black metal effort that captures the essence of nineties black metal. The intention is to create Hostility as “War” openly declares this is the combination of Mayhems chaos combined with the Melody and style of Dissection with some of the relentlessness of Emperor. The title track is the epitome of their style, focussed, intense, and able to combine various elements of pure black metal. Ferran Volkhaar’s (the only remaining original member) raspy-pitched vocals are the perfect call to arms.
‘’Visions of My Dark Soul’’ is restless and hostile whilst ‘’Inferno’’ beguiles its subtle opening into a massive battle-tinged march of Vitriol and anger. Magic Invocation provides some atmospheric interlude whilst Jorge Dragons didgeridoo’s work adds some depth to the full-on Black Metal assault.
The Return of Lucifer is perhaps not best described as a debut album but a culmination of more than 25 years walking the dark path. For purists of the genre, it is a must-listen “Hecate” is another highlight of an album that combines the most unholy elements of extreme music and distilled into 45 minutes of sonic darkness.
Hexerei – Ancient Evil Spirits 9/10
There are those that declare themselves evil and decree the summoning of the ancient ones and then there is Hexerei. You can literally feel the malevolence spew forth from the deep on this Finnish duo’s debut album Ancient Evil Spirits.
Four tracks to leave you disturbed, haunted, and drawn into their world of raw primal Black Metal. It is delivered in pure Lo-Fi glory. The gurgles shrieks and screams at times terrorizing, taunting, summoning. ‘’ Howling Necromantical Imprecations’’ and ‘’ Doom of Abysmal Graves’’ speak for themselves this is the terror of first-wave Black metal, openly antagonistic and uncaring for the reaction they invoke. Capturing the essence of the eighties and nineties greats they have conjured something that is loyal and yet unique. It only takes opener ‘’ Essence of Ancient Evil’’ for the tone to be set and that the current wave of over-polished, subtle, post-black metal trends have got it terribly, terribly wrong.
The fifteen-minute closer ‘’ Unholy Ceremonial Invocation’’ is turbulent, openly blasphemous, and disorientating, Hexerei openly embraces chaos with varied patterns that lurk, attack, and hypnotize in their intensity.
From the unhinged laughter through to the thunderous rhythms and warped leads that divebomb into the senses Ancient Evil Spirits will leave the meek reeling and those loyal embracing the familiar yet distinctive acts of primal energy. Utterly diabolical!
Kuoleman Galleria -Armon Loppu 8.5/10
Finnish Dark Metal outfit Kuoleman Galleria (Gallery of Death) release their third album after five years, the result is an ambitious well thought offering that combines black metal influences with more modern rock sensibilities. It is not an easy thing to describe as at times Armon Loppu (The End of the Mercy) is confounding and demanding yet it does not fall into that dreaded black n roll category.
‘’Jean Grenier’’ is a true standout that is memorable and highlights the band’s power when all their various elements align correctly. The tale of a man from the 17th century who fell into insanity and found freedom in wearing his wolfskin cloak is given the perfect musical accomplishment. It is the reflection of the beast within all of us and in Kuoleman Galleria, there is inherent darkness in the melodies, a restlessness to their groove, layers easily missed upon the first listen. It is the juxtaposition of betrayal from the universe and knowledge of this.’’Pystyyn kuollut’’ and ‘’ Hautausmaan kuudes kerros’’ are more intricate yet driven musical moments. Kuoleman Galleria presents rich tapestries presented in an immediate framework that is rich in mythology yet undeniably metal.
Armon Loppu is an album that requires both attention on an immediate and in-depth level. Their power lies in the fierce delivery yet more melodious offerings. An album best suited for enjoying in the dark where there is menace and uncertainty in the shadows, the inherent nature of karma, and the power of music.