One of the more fascinating projects to be revived during everyone’s pandemic-induced free time, Darkwoods My Betrothed has returned with their first album since 1998’s Witch-Hunts. Angel of Carnage Unleashed (Napalm Records) sustains their old style for the most part, showing off a variant of Viking Black Metal with hearty Symphonic flourishes. Of course, it’s always interesting to see how time will toy with a preexisting formula, especially one that has gone undisturbed for twenty-three years.
Ready to wage bloody battle against the drudgery of everyday life once more, Italian power metallers and emerald sword aficionados Rhapsody of Fire return with all dragons blazing on their latest album Glory For Salvation (AFM Records). Driven by escapism and pure fantasy, there’s simply no room or requirement for conventional subjects like relationships, politics or social commentary in this hour or so of questing and wizard worship.
It’s been a rough road for Cynic frontman Paul Masvidal over the last year or so. With the sad and untimely deaths of bass player Sean Malone and former drummer Sean Reinert, it would have been reasonable to assume that any new music produced under the Cynic name would cast a bleak shadow indeed.
Apostle Of Solitude’s fifth full-length doubles down on the formula last expressed on 2018’s From Gold To Ash, condensing their signature melancholic Doom Metal even further to its most foundational elements. Until The Darkness Goes (Cruz Del Sur Music) is just a little over thirty-six minutes long, making it their shortest album to date, with the six songs herein almost exclusively driven by slow riffs and mournful vocal harmonies.
As the familiar strains that launch Noktvrn harken back to a theme from predecessor Finisterre (both Season of Mist), it is a fitting acknowledgement of an integral part in the ascension of Der Weg einer Freiheit that was played with the release of their 2017 masterpiece in establishing the band as a serious artist of note. It also serves to guide us into the slow-building and considered unveiling of first track proper ‘Monument’, preparing us for the fact that we are taking part in a procession, a conscious movement from one state in an evolution to another.
1914 may have their Blackened Death/Doom formula honed to a science, but it’s still interesting to note how their methods get affected as their platform gradually expands. Their third album, Where Fear And Weapons Meet (Napalm Records), certainly sees some effects of this as their highest profile release so far. The production job is their most polished to date and the riffs have a more noticeably grandiose edge to them than usual. They even got Nick Holmes to perform guest vocals on the appropriately Paradise Lost-esque brooding of ‘…And A Cross Now Marks His Place.’
Consistency and identity – albeit a distorted, perturbed sense of being – are the cornerstones of the second album of The Lurking Fear – the “ugly step-child” (according to Tomas Lindberg Redant) of Swedish melodeath rejuvenants At The Gates. There has been a conscious effort to double down and to make clear what was originally “just” a side-project is, why it exists, and just what it’s purpose is. Indeed, as the parent group have taken further strides to redefine and push themselves since their return, particularly this year, so too the offspring has engaged in a campaign of scent-marking; defining their own identity on Death, Madness, Horror, Decay’(Century Media).
There’s a line in 1982 science fiction movie Blade Runner which goes: “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long”. While this might be true, every rule has its exception and Bay Area thrashers Exodus are exactly that. Since dishing out their first full-length lesson in violence way back in 1985, the San Franciscan legends have seen off opposition from virtually everywhere. Even with an extended hiatus during the nineties the band’s absence never felt terminal, more like they were simply lying in wait to strike again.
After the four-year gap since their last studio album, Massachusetts hardcore/metalcore act Converge return with something quite different. A collaborative effort, Bloodmoon: I (Epitaph Records) sees the band joining forces with Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chisholm plus Cave In singer/guitarist Stephen Brodsky, the seven individuals all contributing to something a little out of their usual comfort zones.
Indigo Raven – Looking For Transcendence
Indigo Raven plays a style of Doom/Post Metal rooted in Chelsea Wolfe’s heaviest excursions, contrasting atmospherically monolithic guitar chugs and slow burn rhythms with ethereal vocals and occasional electronics. Those vocals in particular help the French trio stand out, putting on a passionately bluesy performance that differs from the more vulnerable approach of peers like Frayle and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard.