Abre Ojos – ‘Gates’ (Secrets of Giza)
Secrets Of Giza Records
Genre: Dark Ambient Metal
Open your eyes, indeed, though Australian Scott Baker, or Abre Ojos to his mates, makes the kind of background music suited for a chill-out room at a Noisecore rave. It’s symbolic oscillation to contemplate the menace in life as well as in the midrange.
Anything with a Korg 770 is worthy of attention even if it’s washed out beneath Italian horror movie tomfoolery. Distorted trashcan bashes, saw tooth sine waves, Roland Space Echo dialed up on the Haunted Chapel preset and the rise and fall of the third keyboard sample disc in the Goblin set, all leads to music for the mangled at heart.
Aurvandil – ‘Thrones’ (Eisenwald)
Genre: Black Metal
Normandy’s Aurvandil pick up where The Ruins Of Beverast left off. Long drawn out songs of murky black metal consisting of melodic tremolo picking, blastbeats droning on in the background, muted vocals, a fuzzy production, and nods to Northern European paganism are Aurvandil’s bread and butter on Thrones, the duo’s second full-length album.
The four songs do not have much variation, though, and become rather boring fairly quickly; but, melodies do appear deep in the murk and a few pleasing acoustical guitar passages spice things up a bit. That said, though, Aurvandil pale in comparison to some of the better bands playing the same style.
Battleroar – ‘Blood of Legends’ (Cruz Del Sur)
Cruz del Sur Music
Genre: Power Metal
Six years between records is a lifetime in the metal community. Greece’sBattleroar are finally back with the release of their fourth album, Blood of Legends. During their hiatus the band lost three members and now have current Sacred Steel vocalist Gerrit Mutz taking over the singing duties. The band’s lyrics dwell deep within Greek mythology and steer clear of the typical sword and sorcery.
Unlike most power metal bands the songs are mid-paced and built around heavier riffs. The songs are layered and almost half of the tracks clock in at over seven minutes, as the run time clocks in at an hour. The nine-minute plus epic “Valkyries Above Us” finds the band at their best as they incorporate memorable melodies blended with orchestration and impressive soprano vocals.
Bloodway – ‘Sunstone Voyager and the Clandestine Horizon’ (I, Voidhanger)
I, Voidhanger Recordings
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
On their debut EP Sunstone Voyager and the Clandestine Horizon, the Romanian band Bloodway explore many different facets of black metal.
There are a lot of progressive sections and lengthy instrumental breaks, but also ambient, quiet and repetitive parts. Top that with unusual sounding vocals that are extreme, but not the typical black metal rasp, and you have a unique album. The four songs (plus an intro) are creative and well-executed, which whets the appetite for a full-length in the future.
Doom:VS – ‘Earthless’ (Solitude)
Genre: Doom/Death Metal
Doom:VS is the solo project of Johan Ericson, guitarist for the Swedish band Draconian. On Earthless, his third Doom:VS album, he handles vocals and all instruments.
The songs are glacially paced funeral doom with melancholy atmosphere, some death metal influences and mainly harsh vocals. There are some spoken word vocals as well. Beauty and brutality co-exist easily, with rich melodies alongside more intense and aggressive instrumentation. It’s only six songs, but it’s definitely a full-length, with tracks clocking in between 7 and 9 minutes apiece. It’s a majestic album that’s easily absorbed and will sink deep into your psyche.
Electrocution – ‘ Metaphysincarnation’ (Goregorecores)
Genre: Death Metal
Electrocution are an Italian death metal band who released the albumInside The Unreal back in 1993 and have finally issued a second album in the form of Metaphysincarnation. The band has a marked technical edge but not enough to overshadow the excellent riffs and solos that power through this album from start to finish.
“Phylogenesis” and “Logos” are highlights of a band making a comeback to the scene they left over 20 years ago. A solid return and a solid death metal album as well.
Hitten – ‘First Strike With The Devil’ (Heavy Forces)
Heavy Forces Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
After a demo and EP, the Spanish band Hitten emerge with their full-length debut First Strike With The Devil. They probably weren’t even born when it was in its heydey, but they are heavily influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
Guitars are front and center, with ripping riffs and numerous solos. The songs are catchy, both in the riffs and melodies. Vocalist Altor Navarro has a strong voice and uses a variety of styles, from edgy to crooning to a Halford-esque falsetto. The album brings back the glory days of the early ’80s with a more modern production.
Ifing – ‘Against This Weald’ (Blood)
Genre: Black/Folk Metal
The vast trek Ifing go on with their debut album has a scope not tied down to any particular limits. The music bounces between wild black metal theatrics and potent folksy melodies. This musical duo stacks otherworldly synths, tender acoustics, and even soulful singing into two far-reaching songs (plus a rousing instrumental).
Though the longest tune goes almost 20 minutes, the band is smart with their pacing. An audacious surge may transition into a lush interlude, and vice versa. The listener can’t avoid getting caught up in the luminous atmosphere. Ifing shows significant potential and comes off as capable songwriters with Against This Weald.
Noneuclid – ‘Metatheosis’ (Blood)
Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Noneuclid’s second album Metatheosis is death metal in spirit, yet has a strong melodic template. When a band includes members of Dark Fortress, Triptykon, and Obscura in their ranks, something spectacular is bound to come out. That is the case with the technical prowess on display during “Paranoid Alkaloid,” as well as transcendent cuts like the three-part “Into the Light” and tuneful “Buried Forever.”
The single criticism against Metatheosis is the band overextending their welcome with two uneven songs to close the album out. However, that isn’t nearly enough to curb Noneuclid’s potency with this rancorous sophomore release.
Pet The Preacher – ‘The Cave & The Sunlight’ (Napalm)
Genre: Stoner Metal
On their second full length The Cave & the Sunlight, Copenhagen, Denmark’s Pet The Preacher create big, thick riffs overflowing with bong smoke and attitude. With the exception of a couple of songs, Pet The Preacher’s music is mostly made up of slower, chugging rhythms that don’t veer too far off the course of the song. Torben Pedersen (bass) and Christian Larsen (drums) are the players behind these rhythms.
Vocalist/guitarist Christian Madsen’s voice reminds me a little of label mate Anders Manga from the Bloody Hammers. This is not a bad thing because they both sound very unique. Stand out tracks include “Let Your Dragon Fly,” “Kamikaze Night,” “The Pig & The Haunted” and “Marching Earth (Part 1 & 2).”