Winterhorde – Maestro

I feel like this is just on the cusp of being great, but not quite there. It’s incredibly consistent, but rarely does any track absolutely wow me (with the exception of They Came with Eyes of Fire and maybe the title track). The main melodies are pretty samey, but there’s just enough variation that I don’t mind it too much. I love the heavy progressive tinge to the record, really separates itself from other sympho black album. This isn’t just campy symphonics, there’s actual compositional skill involved. Overall this is good, but I don’t think it justifies the length at all, and consistently only gets your far if it’s consistently amazing, rather than consistently decent.


Carnifex – Slow Death

Legitimately one of the darkest and heaviest deathcore albums I’ve ever heard, and also probably the best. I went into this with every expectation that it would be trash, and I was proven drastically wrong. It’s one of those things that takes some getting used to in order to really appreciate, as when you first hear a breakdown you immediately react to it as being trash. Only when you open your mind do you realize that the breakdowns here are actually really fucking good and ADD to the atmosphere of the album. The muted, down-tuned guitars actually make sense, and the black metal tremolo riffs just add onto how dark this fucking album is (at least for deathcore). In terms of being the most sinister deathcore album ever, I’d say it lives up to the hype, and then some. It’s still deathcore, so it comes with its own issues, but I would highly recommend this to anyone who believes that all deathcore albums are made equal.



Baptism – The Devil’s Fire

Man this feels good. I’m reviewing a black metal album that isn’t post-black, blackgaze, orthodox black metal, or caverncore. This is black metal the way it was meant to be played. And I have to give a shoutout to Baptism for doing it the right way for all these years. They’ve managed to put out decent material while staying somewhat underground for years now, and never succumbing to the black metal memes that all the other bands do. So big props for that.

That only gets you so far however. The Devil’s Fire is decent, but really nothing spectacular to write home about. Baptism creates this blend of traditional black, melodic black, and even atmospheric black metal that does a bit of each but none extremely well. I feel like the only part of the album that really made me excited was towards the end of Satananda, where there are these clean vocals that make me think of a wise sage, singing about how he longs for when times were simpler, and black metal was not seen as a fashion accessory.

Other than that however, there isn’t much worth talking about. Nothing in particular stands out about this album, so other than the bonus points for going against the grain by staying true to their roots, I can’t really give this record a remarkable score. It’s a relatively nice listen, but nothing beyond that.


Ancestors Blood – Hyperborea ALBUM REVIEW

Moments. Hyperborea is driven by moments. But it the awesome solo on Elegies, or the wonderful intro and outro ambient tracks, this album has lots of great moments that captivate the listener. But that’s also the problem. It’s just moments, not a complete album. There are a lot of parts of this record that really make me think of this as a upper tier black metal release this year, but for the other larger majority, it’s anything but special.

The majority of this album is complete generic melodic black metal, albeit done quite well. Sure, it has some fantastic heavy metal-esque solos, some wonderful synth work at times (something I value highly as it’s so rarely done right), and a generally appropriate and valuable use of 7th chords. But again, those come in moments. There is never an entire track where Ancestors Blood puts it all together into a complete performance. The band clearly shows that they have the ability to make great music in this record, but the way they do so makes it seem like they’re doing it by accident. Either that or they’re choosing to make this record average, which is even worse.

Hyperborea is absolutely not bad, it’s so far my favorite black metal record this year (not that that’s saying much). But I would’ve liked to have seen something that wasn’t just a high quality generic record. Listening to this record feels like eating at Olive Garden. Sure, it tastes good for how popular the restaurant is, but you know you would’ve had a better meal had you gone to an actual high quality italian restaurant.


Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs ALBUM REVIEW

Often music has the ability to transport the listener to other places, be them earthly or cosmic. I can feel like I’m in the amazon rainforest, or floating through the cosmos, or even in the pits of hell. This is what people often called transcendence, where the music transcends physical being and places your consciousness in another realm entirely. In the case of Aria of Vernal Tombs, the destination was medieval Europe. Through the use of period instruments and scales, Obsequiae creates an ethereal dream like soundscape, which makes me feel as though I’m at the crossroads of time, the in between space between years, traveling but never quite arriving at my destination. It’s a unique atmosphere, but one that I feel ultimately fails the assumed goal.

While yes the period instruments do help create a literal creation of medieval Europe, it’s never quite implemented as a fusion, but rather in interludes between songs. The album follows a distinct formula of song, interlude, song, interlude, etc. I don’t have any trouble with the format itself, however the way it is executed leaves a lot to be desired. Every song and interlude sounds essentially the same, with the occasional key difference. The interludes are more noodling improvisation than song, reinforcing the notion that you’re in limbo rather than in the physical world. It’s light, it’s airy, it’s calming, however quite frankly it’s boring. The same can really go the metal tracks, which have the same dreamy atmosphere, albeit more structured as songs rather than improvisation. However the notion that they all sound the same stands. There is very little if any variety in this album whatsoever, so if you’re no enamored with the first two tracks, you’re going to have a tough time with this record.

I feel like the atmosphere it does bring is very unique and wonderful in it’s own way. However Aria is simply a one trick pony, lacking in substance, and is ultimately relegated to nothing more than background study music. Mediocre study music at that.


Lucifer’s Child – The Wiccan ALBUM REVIEW

In keeping with the Greek melodic black metal tradition, the majority of this album is comprised of stale riffs and production. The steady rock beats give an almost happy vibe which, combined with the harsh vocals and the fact that it’s black metal, creates a uncanny valley effect on the music. It doesn’t feel like black metal, but it is. Sort of like the reverse of what a clown is; supposed to be funny, ends up being creepy. This is supposed to be funny and ends up sounding like trailer trash black metal, if that is even a thing.

And then the Lucifer’s Child grew up and created two amazing closing tracks. Both delve deep into doom metal, the last track, aptly named “Doom” actually ends up being more doom metal than black metal altogether. Both start innocently enough and then expand into emotionally driven epic tracks. The final ascension to the apex of the last track, with the continually rising pitch of the lead guitar to go along with the almost post-rock driven background storm of sound, made me honestly think I was listening to a different album. What the fuck happened to that mediocre melo black band I was listening to just 10 minutes ago, and why are they so radical?

Unfortunately, batting .200 isn’t going to get you a good score, but it will save The Wiccan from being labeled by me as a bland album. Instead I will name it simply a whole bag of nothing and then some missed potential.


Gorgoroth – Instinctus Bestialis ALBUM REVIEW

So, it’s time for a heavy dose of really unpopular opinions. I went back and listened to some early Gorgoroth to confirm my opinions, and they hold true. This is better than their early work. Early Gorgoroth sounds like the average 90s black metal demo. And not even the good kind of average, just the average kind of average, if that makes sense. Instinctus Bestialis, while very much sounding like nuclear blast-core, still has a somewhat unique sound, even if it’s obviously aimed more at the general public. The downtuned, death metal guitar tone sounds interesting in a black metal album, and even though I’m not so much a fan of melodic black metal, the melodies here are pretty rad if I do say so myself. It feels sort of like dark blackened power metal, which i guess is how you could describe a lot of melo black, but this doesn’t sound like edgy blind guardian, so it’s ok here. Most of Gorgoroth’s albums are quite short, which is a blessing here, because although Instinctus is generally nice to listen to, I’m not sure if I could listen to this for 48 minutes or so. The only reason this doesn’t get a rating into the 7 realm is because the last few tracks feel a bit phoned it. They aren’t really as melodic and riff based as the rest of the album, and it feels like they ran out of ideas and just wanted to fill time. Instinctus also has quite a bit of chug action going on, though for the most part it’s supplemented by riffs and melody. So while yes, it’s pretty obvious that this is a desperate attempt at an old band trying to stay relevant, their old work wasn’t that great anyway, and I feel like this strangely enough has more imagination than what they’ve done in the past.

Also I can’t be the only one who reads the title as “insectus” because the angels on the front look like locusts or something right? It’s like they’re all flocking around some sort of light source like bugs tend to do. Sort of like how haters flock to new album by an old band to hate on it. Happens every time, good album or not.


Galar – De gjenlevende ALBUM REVIEW

This is honestly a pretty confusing album. On the one hand, it tries to be a very typical melo black album that doesn’t really push the boundaries that much. On the other hand, it tries to support that with orchestral viking metal. Inherently nothing is confusing about this combination. The confusion happens when you try to analyze if they do this well or not. This is a very repetitive album, in that not only is almost every song in the same key, but there seems to really only be one theme throughout the entire album. The main melodies and chord progressions sound very pop-alt metal at times, with their use of suspended chords before the resolution, which to me doesn’t fit with what the aesthetic of this kind of music is supposed to be. On the other hand, while I typically hate it when bands try to go for supposedly epic and beautiful orchestral sections (because typically they don’t accomplish either of those things), there are some genuinely great sections on this album, especially on the fourth and fifth tracks (ESPECIALLY on the fifth track). So I guess the main conflict here is the disparity between the occasionally fantastic orchestral sections with the honestly mediocre everything else. There’s always a danger in melodic anything that it’s going to sound cheesy, and this album doesn’t avoid that. In the end, I honestly think getting rid of all the black metal influences altogether would’ve benefited this album a lot, because it really only drags it down with the expectations of one aesthetic and the deliverance of something else. Straight up viking metal would’ve been much more beneficial in this case.


Forgotten Horror – Aeon of the Shadow Goddess ALBUM REVIEW

Whoever labeled this as thrash metal needs to learn how to identify music. This is absolutely melodic in every aspect, to the point where it’s actually a bit disturbing as to how someone could make that mistake. Anyway, this is the definition of just above average. The large majority of the album is entirely forgettable, but it does have just enough brief cool moments, moments where the notes sync up just right, where they play just the right chord at the right time, to where at the end you think “I don’t regret listening to that”. I certainly wouldn’t call it above average, but calling it at the high point of average would be pretty accurate. I will say I got a bit tired of the choir synths. At first it was kinda cool, then I couldn’t help but think it was going a bit overboard, especially with how often they were implemented. Not recommended, but I certainly wouldn’t desperately try to desperately beg you not to listen to this.


Vreid – Sólverv

Absolutely nothing special here. Melo black without any good riffs or solos, without any sort of sinister feeling, without anything to make it good, but with just enough cheese and cringey synths to be annoying to listen to. Production quality is good, but that’s about all I can say about this. 0 imagination, even in the parts that actually try.