Although unable to play live for over a year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Indianapolis based death metallers Obscene were still fortunate enough to release their debut album The Inhabitable Dark in mid-2020. Finally back on stage last year, the four-piece didn’t hang around, taking the time to write the bleakly titled follow-up From Dead Horizon to Dead Horizon (Blood Harvest).Continue reading
It’s been twelve years since composer Arjen Lucassen released 2010’s Victims Of The Modern Age under the Star One banner, which in itself was eight years removed from 2002’s Space Metal. Fortunately, the project’s vision remains intact despite its sporadic output with all the tropes that fans have come to expect out in full force on Revel In Time (InsideOut Music). There’s plenty of cheesy Prog goodness to go around informed by Power Metal tempos, crunchy guitars, bombastic keyboards, and a slew of vocalists delivering pop culture Sci-Fi lyrics in over-the-top fashion.
Based out of Indianapolis and featuring a who’s who of veterans from such bands as Obscene, Harakiri, and Bulletwolf, Mother Of Graves makes a strong first impression with their debut EP. The group’s melodic approach to Death/Doom makes no bones about the influence from Paradise Lost and Katatonia, mixing the former’s mournful leads with the latter’s mid-tempo pacing. One can also detect traces of Novembers Doom in the vocals and Dan Swano’s signature touches on the mastering.
High Spirits’ endearing sincerity has always been a shining contrast to the often-sour realms of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, and that feelgood brightness is needed now more than ever. While it’s been four years since the release of their last album, 2016’s Motivator, the Chicago project’s fourth full-length doesn’t skip a beat and their established blend of AOR and Classic Metal is well intact. You always know what you’re getting but it’s presented with far too much enthusiasm to ever feel stale.
Long-running Black Metal legends Naglfar has resigned with Century Media Records and will release their new album Cerecloth via on May 8th. The band recorded and mixed by Naglfar guitarist Marcus Norman at Wolf’s Lair Studio and mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound, the underlying musical and lyrical themes of Cerecloth were succinctly and confidently described by guitarist Andreas Nilsson as, “the usual death and destruction”. The cover art was created the renowned artist Kristian Wåhlin and layout by Seiya Ogino of Ogino Design. New music is forthcoming and the band has already booked shows and festival dates for 2020, which you can see below. Continue reading
It’s nice to have God Dethroned joining us once again. And by that I mean another reactivation of the band not unlike they had in 1996. Yeah, extreme metal is a tricky business to try to make a living in, but lineup changes and restarts aside, it seems like this Dutch metal institution is stable enough again to crank out a new LP in The World Ablaze (Metal Blade).Continue reading
As far back as 2008, with the independently released EP The Heathen Throne, Ancient Ascendant have been very clear in their intentions. And with a couple more EPs and two very well received albums under their belts, the English Black/Death Metal quartet have raised the bar again with latest full length, Raise The Torch (Candlelight).Continue reading
The steepest hill to climb in Death Metal today seems like it isn’t crafting a great album as much as it achieving sustainable recognition and market share. Does Dead Shores Rising (Century Media) get Deserted Fear’s foot in the door? Continue reading
Witherscape is a Swedish progressive/melodic death metal band formed by Dan Swanö who has quite the pedigree in the metal genre, previously being part of the band Edge of Sanity who alongside Opeth helped pave the way for the blending of progressive rock elements with extreme metal as well as many other projects such as death metal supergroup Bloodbath and progressive rock band Nightingale, as well as fellow multi-instrumentalist Ragnar Widerburg, who is relatively unknown by comparison. Together they have produced one of the finest metal albums of 2016 in The Northern Sanctuary (Century Media Records), which serves as the follow-up to their 2014 EP The New Tomorrow and 2013 debut album The Inheritance.
Witherscape are a band who doesn’t just release albums for the music alone, they are creating a narrative that expands with each release. This is far from a new concept, with bands like Rhapsody on Fire, Coheed and Cambria, and King Diamond being well-known for their ongoing concept albums. This doesn’t make Witherscape any less intriguing though. From what I can tell, the story-line revolves around a haunted house of sorts, with The Northern Sanctuary taking place 50 years after The New Tomorrow EP, with a new person taking over the house. The underlying story is ultimately a bonus for the dedicated fans who will dig into the lyrics and embrace the narrative, but for the average music fan, this album gives more than enough to satisfy musically.
If you aren’t familiar with the work of Dan Swanö, you might be caught off guard with just how talented he is. On this album he handles all vocals as well as drums and keyboards. His ability to shift from melodic progressive rock style vocals to incredibly vicious death growls is truly impressive and keeps the album extremely dynamic. The keyboards add that timeless progressive feel to the album, and the drumming keeps the pace of the album in check. Widerburg handled the guitars and bass work on this album, and the incredibly riffs and solos alone make this an album worth checking out. He might not be as known as Swanö, but he proved to be equal in skill on this release. Tying everything together is a very clean production style that helps make everything sound very crisp and impactful.
Overall, there really isn’t much to not love about The Northern Sanctuary, as it’s simply a progressive metal masterpiece. Being a narrative focused album does make some of the lyrics a bit cheesy at times, and some songs are a can get a bit long-winded, no time feels wasted on this album. It’s another excellent release for the discography of Dan Swanö, and one of the best metal albums of 2016.
[amazon asin=B01H3UENLQ&template=iframe image1]
The album was tracked by Jimmy Lundqvist at Bloodshed Studios and mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö (Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath, Aeon, Hail Of Bullets etc.) at Unisound.