Mask Of Satan, Underneath The Mire (Iron, Blood, and Death 2021)

The death metal band from Finland, Mask of Satan, is back with a second serving of Lovecraftian menace.

Formed just a few years back, Mask of Satan released a demo in 2015 followed by the long-player Silent Servants: Chants of Lovecraftian Horror two years later. The new album continues exploring the themes opened in the earlier releases and pushes forth with the winning combination of groove and death metal their fans like so much.

There are nine high-energy tracks on the album, all swinging and stretching old school death metal ideas in clever ways. They tend to run about radio length, and the best example of the album overall is perhaps “Bloodpact,” with its hooky opening, growling vocals, and occasional spastic wobble. The way the song is put together really is intriguing.

“Corpsewitch” is tied for my favorite track with “The Black Goat.” The former has exactly the tempo and push I wanted to hear when I heard it, and latter is a sinister festival of dread at the front end with a pummeling middle and madness on its way out. I enjoyed this album all the way through. It is highly entertaining death metal. Recommended.

Underneath The Mire is out now and you can get all the varieties at Bandcamp.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://ironbloodanddeath.bandcamp.com/album/underneath-the-mire

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Mask-Of-Satan-1592079117747406/

Iron, Blood, and Death Corp., https://ibdclabel666.bigcartel.com/

Mask Of Satan, Underneath The Mire (Iron, Blood, and Death 2021)

Sadistik Forest, Obscure Old Remains (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The follow-up to Morbid Majesties is a thundering EP of hammering Death Metal.

Sadistik Forest is from Finland, and they put out there first recording in 2010, a self-titled full-length album. Two years later came Death, Doom, Radiation, and then a split (with Septory) the very next year. After that there was a bit of an hiatus. 2018’s Morbid Majesties was very well received by both fans and critics – listening to the album, it seemed as if no time had passed at all. The band is now Antti Heikkinen (guitar), Jarkko Lahtinen (guitar), Markus Makkonen (bass and vocals), and Jimi Myöhänen (drums) – Vesa Mutka played drums on Obscure Old Remains.

There are four songs on the EP. The band has stated in a Facebook post that these four tracks were recorded in a studio live, meaning all the instruments were playing simultaneously. The studio was set up with separate isolated booths for each member allowing for this especially energetic form of recording. The style leans in on an old school vibe, and according to the band is somewhat reminiscent of “early Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, early Atheist and Darkthrone.” I’d say that is right – you can definitely hear it in the music.

The compositions spread the weight around in all four songs, bringing together voice, rhythm, and lead for most of each song while also allowing the lead guitar or bass or drums to have moments in the spotlight. “Mandragore” throws out the percussion up front then lays on a riff that sounds like the soundtrack to dangerous experiments undertaken in a castle laboratory. “Barbarian” has a combative feel, a struggle for survival sentiment – trials and tribulations. “Nihil” fades in and builds up into a dramatic presentation that is the most theatrical of the tracks. And “Waters Black” is dark and dooming, dripping with eldritch infestations. This set is a great side-step for the band that keeps the metal pouring from Sadistik Forest. Recommended.

Obscure Old Remains is out now and ready for the taking at Bandcamp or at the Transcending Obscurity store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sadistikforest.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/entertheforest

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/band/sadistik-forest

Sadistik Forest, Obscure Old Remains (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Ghastly, Mercurial Passages (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Death and doom boil to the surface in Ghastly’s newest album, Mercurial Passages.

Ghastly hails from Finland and Mercurial Passages is their third full-length album following Carrion Of Time (2015) and Death Velour (2018). As three-piece metal bands go, Ghastly creates a full and heavy sound than you might imagine possible, achieving unexpected penetration and breadth. Ten years in, they still seem to be gaining momentum.

There are seven tracks on the album. It starts off doom-centric with “Ouroborus,” a song that does give you a feeling of perpetual struggle. “Out of the Psychic Blue” follows and has a fast clip throughout thereby giving the listener a more direct taste of the Death Metal aspect of the band. It is “Sea of Light” that strikes me as the first song of the set that represents the core of the band and its compositional approach with its big builds, growling vocals, and frenetic outburst that punctuate and disrupt the steady state.

The album is anchored by two big tracks at the end, “Dawnless Dreams” and “Mirror Horizon.” The former is a dark story filled with Eldritch secrets and lurking, fell beasts while the latter is an even darker story with a saturating heaviness and hopelessness that drives you down into the endless abyss. The guitar in the second half of “Mirror Horizon” is playing you off into eternity and the dual vocal performance is hair-raising in its creepiness. This is the stuff of the most desolating, dreaded dreams. Recommended.

20 Buck Spin releases Mercurial Passages on Friday, May 28th. Look to the label website or Bandcamp for all the possibilities.

Band photo by S. Kujansuu.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/mercurial-passages

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ghastlydeathmetal

20 Buck Spin, https://www.20buckspin.com/products/ghastly-mercurial-passages-cd

Ghastly, Mercurial Passages (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Lord Of Pagathorn, Age Of Curse (Woodcut Records 2021)

From the dark heart of Finland comes Lord of Pagathorn with their third full-length album, Age Of Curse.

Formed in the tumultuous days of the early 1990s, the band put together a couple of demos but they never got the footing they needed to go forward. Re-grouping in the 2010s, they have found a stride where they can create a steady stream of tooth-rattling, unforgiving Black Metal. Band members are described in the press release this way: Corpselord (vocals, guitar), Skrubb (guitar), Ronitor (bass), and Skalder (battery).

A suitably ominous intro track lets you know things are about to get ugly. “Baneful Curse To Destroy Them All” punches in at top speed and pushes you over with its aggressive attack of vengeance. Hissing vocals and rapid-fire percussion sears you from beginning to end. The next track is very different, “Conqueror of Im-Kharasak.” The structure is more linear and it has an almost catchy riff. There is a reminiscence of Venom in there for me, too. Excellent.

“Instability Of Man” has a dramatic, theatrical timbre – you can see it unfolding on a stage before you while you listen. “Over Throned” is a pile driver and “Age Of Curse” is sheer chaos that infects the next two tracks. There is no respite until the final song, “Dragging In The Dust.” On that one the music shifts into a vile grinding campaign that leaves you with nothing. The vocalizations are emphatic and the last notes drip with sinister threats. Overall the album is a cascading attack that deploys customary Black Metal elements and uniquely stylized features to create a deliberate menace. Recommended.

Out on Friday May 21st, Bandcamp is the best way to buy the album and related materials in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://woodcutrecords.bandcamp.com/album/age-of-curse

Lord Of Pagathorn website, http://www.lordofpagathorn.com/

Woodcut Records, http://www.woodcutrecords.fi/

Lord Of Pagathorn, Age Of Curse (Woodcut Records 2021)

Dark The Suns, Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä (Inverse Records 2021)

Finnish melodic Death Metal band Dark The Suns release their fourth full-length album.

According to the Microsoft translator, the album title Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä is “grief raged in the darkness of my heart” in English. That is the perfect theme for the style of music Dark The Suns creates. The band started as a solo project by Mikko Ojala in 2003, evolving into a duo with Inka Tuomaala. After releasing three albums over the years, the band split up in 2013. The new album is their first music together as Dark The Suns since then.

There are ten songs in the set. The music is theatrical and emotive, cascading between quiet, lyrical moments and big metal explosions. You can get a sharp image in your head while listening, created by the fullness of the composition. For example, the opening track can be described as what we might expect if Danny Elfman wrote Death Metal music. Imagine Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King in a tight frontal shot marching up that crazy hill pumping his arms and moving with purpose in The Nightmare Before Christmas. “Spirit in the Dark” is the perfect music for it. Very theatrical, very full, and a complete vision.

There are symphonic elements throughout, and progressive ones as well. Even with this kind of complexity and attention to drama and presentation the metal music is always still there. The songs land at about radio length, tightly formed and design for impact. In this album you will find power and angst in the loud moments as well as the quiet ones. Recommended.

Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä is out now. You can buy it at Bandcamp and listen through the usual streaming outlets.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://darkthesuns.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/darkthesunsofficial

Label, https://www.inverse.fi/site/

Dark The Suns, Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä (Inverse Records 2021)

Obscure Fate, Raven’s Call (Inverse Records 2021)

Finland’s Obscure Fate raise the flag on their brand of heavy metal with Raven’s Call.

The band began as a solo project of guitarist Kaleva Kovalainen in 2008. Over time, the band as it is today began to take form. The other musicians are Tapio Härkönen (vocals), Jari Keränen, (drums), Joni Moisanen (guitar), and Antti Möttönen (bass).

The music is a broad-based heavy metal approach, setting up the song structure around catchy riffs, with punctuating elements stemming frequently from syncopation. There is often a guitar line in harmony with the lead vocal. Speaking of the vocals, Härkönen presents mostly clear singing with a gruff edge and an epic lilt. The compositions have a highly-produced fullness to them, and therefore have a radio feel, targeting wide appeal.

The EP has four songs, all in the digestible three-to-four minute range. They are all up-tempo with solid bases and dark fantasy / mythical themes. The straight-forward hard rock approach is enhanced by crisp lead breaks and singable lyrics – these elements are on brightest display with the title song. I imagine hearing this music on a summer night outside at a festival. That would be the way to go. Recommended.

Raven’s Call is out now. Bandcamp is an easy place to get it in the US, and it is available on a variety of other services as well.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://obscurefate.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://obscurefate.net/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ObscureFateBand

Obscure Fate, Raven’s Call (Inverse Records 2021)

Ulthima, Symphony of the Night (Inverse Records 2021)

The first full-length album from Ulthima was ten years in the making and now everyone can hear it.

The band was started in Mexico in 2010 by founders Antonio Valdés (bass) and Ricardo Escobar (guitar). They moved to Finland, the story goes, to pursue music in the environment where so many bands and musicians they admired were from. That is quite a commitment strategy. The originators are joined by Ville Nummisalo (drums), Jon Welti (guitars), Niko Sutinen (keys), and Tuomas Antila (vocals) for the new album.

The music is symphonic metal, really. This arena can contain a large variety of styles ranging from the epic to the operatic. Ulthima makes use of Death Metal ideas and sensibilities and employs keys to create a symphonic surrounding. This has the effect of making the music turn toward the prog side and the technical precision is there as well. Melodic Death Metal is the closest label if we need one for this music, I would say.

The album has nine tracks that have their origins throughout the ten year time span of the band. Listening to them, it is not at all obvious which ones are older and which ones newer as they all have a polished and compositionally mature sound. All the songs are up-tempo and theatrical in a very high-energy sense. I particularly liked “Eternity” and the title track for their creativeness and ingenuity as well as the sharp execution of the score by the band. If you are in a symphonic metal mood, this one is a winner. Recommended.

Symphony of the Night makes its full appearance on Friday, March 19th from Inverse Records. In the US, Bandcamp is the easy way to get the CD or download.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ulthima.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ulthima

Label, https://www.facebook.com/inverserecords

Ulthima, Symphony of the Night (Inverse Records 2021)

Wolfheart, Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records 2021)

Finland’s Wolfheart adds more Death Metal to the universe with two new songs and a couple of rarities on their EP Skull Soldiers.

The band has a long history of powerful metal creation and performance. Since 2013 they have released five full-length albums, the most recent being Wolves of Karelia (2020). Given this history, you have to expect and new long-player before very long, and this four track vehicle is just the thing to hold fans over until the bigger one arrives. The lineup for Skull Soldiers is Tuomas Saukkonen (vocals and guitar), Lauri Silvonen (bass and vocals), Joonas Kauppinen (drums), and Vagelis Karzis (guitar).

There are two new songs on the EP. “Skull Soldiers” has a driving, threatening beat and an eerie surrounding shroud, keeping its distance from the frantic activity while maintaining a menacing posture. The lead guitar foments an elegant and clinical execution. “Hereditary” continues the ideas established in the opener, turning them a bit more buoyant. The speed is cranked up and the lead break on this song is blistering mayhem.

“Aeon Of Cold” is an acoustic presentation of this popular track from Shadow World. It is beautiful and melancholy, conveying deep feeling and bringing out emotions from the listener – either sadness or melancholy or nostalgia, whatever you have inside you. The vocals are smooth and clear on this track, elevating the impact.

And then there is “Reaper” from the Wolves of Karelia album, captured live during a streaming event last year. The band absolutely crushes this one. It rips and roars and leaves you ragged. These four songs are a great item for fans of the band and an nice overview for newcomers to the fold. Recommended.

Skull Soldiers is out now. The download is still available, but the limited vinyl might have left this earthly plane already. Have a look at the Bandcamp link.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wolfheart.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/WolfheartRealm

Store, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/wolfheart

Wolfheart, Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records 2021)

Revulsion, Revulsion (Transcending Obscurity Records 2021)

It is winter in Finland but Revulsion is not hibernating – the self-titled full-length debut is a heavy metal bulldozer bearing down on your brain.

In 2010 Revulsion released a demo then an EP the year after that. Ten long years have passed while fans waited to see if there would be more music. The new album answers that question with a full-throated howl. The music is rooted in death metal with deep veins of doom running throughout, and the integrated elements are a propitious combination. The band is Aleksi Huhta (vocals), Jari Toppinen (guitar), Jarkko Viitasalo (guitar), Tuomas Alatalo (bass), and Atte Karppinen (drums).

The music begins in chaos – just a pummeling of noise you have to sort through. After a few seconds of that attack, the riffs emerge and the vocals become words in “Last Echoes Of Life.” The death metal hybrid continues to morph on “Pyre” which also bears a heavy riff and adds complex combinations in the rhythm and percussion. “Walls” is next, showing off a fat bass line, and then “Mustaa Hiiltä” lifts the lid on the cave of doom with oppressively threatening leaden tones.

There are eleven songs on the album and you can feel groove characteristics nudge you around as the undeniable momentum of the powerful musical energy is a constant exhilarating rush. The bass is more prominent here as a distinct being than in a lot of similar music, and that adds immeasurably to the unique voice of the band. The back half of the record has short blasts like “Wastelands” and “Pawns,” and it also showcases the longest track and closer, “Viimeinen Rituaali” – the final ritual, indeed, and a doom-laden volcano of roaring heavy metal. I am already jotting this one down on the best of list for the year. Killer. Highly recommended.

Revulsion is out now and, coincidentally, it is Bandcamp Friday today so if you buy Revulsion products at Bandcamp, the usual selling fee to the band is waived. The elegant varieties of Transcending Obscurity physical releases are the envy of the world, and the Revulsion album is no exception. Check out all the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://revulsiondeath.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RevulsionFin/

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://tometal.com/

Revulsion, Revulsion (Transcending Obscurity Records 2021)

Korpiklaani, Jylhä (Nuclear Blast Records 2021)

For almost twenty years, Korpiklaani has been a prominent driving force in the Folk Metal music world, and now they are releasing their eleventh full-length studio album, Jylhä.

It all started with Spirit of the Forest in 2003 and there has been a steady creative flow ever since. The band is from Finland and while there are folk fusion amalgams from many musical traditions all over the globe, there is something that makes this particular folk music the perfect building block for a heavy music combination. Or maybe it is just that the musicians in Korpiklaani are among the very best at what they do, which is certainly true as well. The band is Cane (guitar and vocals), Jonne Järvelä (vocals, guitars, multiple folk instruments), Jarkko Aaltonen (bass), Tuomas Rounakari (violin), Sami Perttula (accordion), and Samuli Mikkonen (drums).

The music begins big in guitars with “Verikoira,” laying down a catchy, quick rhythm for the more traditionally folk elements to surround. The accordion takes the lead on the second track, “Niemi,” at the gate, but the guitar is never far away. The blending of metal and traditional instruments and melody is, after all, the point. Each song has its own look and life, casting a vast array of colors and spells throughout the thirteen songs on the album.

The music on the album is very up-tempo and vibrant, and even on quieter pieces with less riffage (like “Leväluhta”) the metal does not completely disappear. There is always an elegant balance across the diversity of musical structure so that neither primary force is lost to the other. You want to hear this music for that balance, to get the rare elements that don’t typically exist in heavy music while maintaining the adrenaline and drive of metal. That is exactly what comes through in every track. Recommended.

You can pick up the CD and digital download of Jylhä on Friday February 5th. The vinyl versions are a little bit delayed because of the pandemic – they will be out in March.

Links.

Website, https://korpiklaani.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/korpiklaani

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.de/label/music/band/news/uebersicht/71067.korpiklaani.html

Korpiklaani, Jylhä (Nuclear Blast Records 2021)