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)

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)

Exanimis, Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records 2021)

New French musical project Exanimis issue their first long-player, Marionnettiste.

The story is that the band “was created by former students of the Music Academy International, who all shared a passion for extreme and technical musical styles and set out to create a sound that merges the atmosphere of horror and fantasy soundtracks with the heaviness and technical intricacies of metal.” So far so good. Looking over the usual internet resources for info on the musicians in the band, not much comes up, suggesting a glistening newness. The only way to know is to listen.

There are nine tracks on the album, including an on- and off-ramp and one brief transition piece in the middle. After one pass, the target does seem to be Dream Theater, although the themes are more along the horror lines, or at the very least, darkening in that direction. The opening segment is a prelude, and it starts out quietly, as they do, building slowly and theatrically to include a bigger sound and a creepy chorus of voices. The first principal song is “The Wrathful Beast,” and it has a very Danny Elfman-esque structure, but even more elaborate and with rapid blasting percussion and big electrical guitar moments to go along with the orchestration. There are a lot of moving parts here, and the lead vocal is of a toned-down death metal variety (meaning not quite as harsh as you might encounter in a typically death metal band).

If it is complex arrangements you are looking for, this is the place. The sheer number of elements is sometimes overwhelming and can seem excessive. Sorting them all out will take more than one listening. And this is just the first relative short piece running only five minutes. The epic is “Cathedral” at the end, clocking in at over sixteen minutes, and it has rivals. This is beyond prog metal. It pushes into a land of its own creation that at times seems like an endless house of mirrors. The music is full, that’s for sure, and it has a heaping dose of metal and dark, edgy thematic constructions. All these things together lead me to recommend the album for the more adventurous métallurgistes out there.

Marionnettiste drops on Friday, March 5th at the label link or Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://weareexanimis.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Label, https://www.klonosphere.com/

Exanimis, Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records 2021)

Golgotha, Remembering the Past – Writing the Future (Xtreem Music 2021)

Golgotha – the band from Spain – offers an extended abbreviated album to follow up on the success of the impressive Erasing The Past record from 2019.

This enterprise has had several incarnations. In the mid-1990s, they came together and released two full-length albums, a couple of EPs, and several demos. Taking a break at the end of the century, the band coalesced again for New Life in 2005, then had another hiatus. A couple years ago, resurgent energy was found again, and the musicians are creating new music. The band for Remembering the Past – Writing the Future is Amón López (vocals), Vicente Payá (guitar), Samuel Morales (guitar), Andrew Spinosa (bass), and Tomeu Crespí (drums).

“Don’t Waste Your Life” in some ways functions as the overture, presenting themes that will recur and showing the phases the guitars, vocals, and other instruments will vacillate between. “Helpless” is next, and it plows a neighboring field, establishing the low boundaries and the highs. “I Am Lost” has a forceful opening statement surrounded by sinister whispers and solemn melody. “Elemental Changes” begins softly and sweetly in the piano, strings, and voice, introducing strong, slow guitar riffs to set up the narrative vocal. The song goes toward loudness and never turns fully back.

“Lonely” is a long, dirge-like reminiscence that begins quietly and turns into savage growling in a caustic devolution. From doom to death you might say, and back again. A couple of times, in the manner of a sine wave. It is the longest piece on the album, and the anchor, but really all of the tracks have an insular oneness about them, and any of them could be the beginning or the end. I like the music for its mix of doom and death styles, and for the way beautiful, quiet melodies exist in and among the savagery. Recommended.

Remembering the Past – Writing the Future is out today, March 2nd, and you can get yours at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Website, http://www.golgothaofficial.com/

Golgotha, Remembering the Past – Writing the Future (Xtreem Music 2021)

Oceana, The Pattern (Time To Kill Records 2021)

Italian progressive death metal trio Ocean release their first full-length album twenty five years after their inaugural EP.

In 1994 the band began to come together with the thought of creating melodic death metal music. They issued a demo and an EP in 1996, then went silent on the recording front for a couple of decades. They are back now, realizing the original intention. The band is Massimiliano Pagliuso (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Gianpaolo Caprino (guitar), and Alessandro “Sancho” Marconcini (drums).

The sound of waves and a crying baby are the opening bars of the first song, followed by a short melodic voice interrupted by coarse croaking. Acoustic guitars dance around swelling electric ones. The percussion becomes increasingly persistent, urgent, and menacing, and the guitar turns stabbing. Then voice is back, bigger than before. This is “Hiding Lies,” and it is a flag for the entire set.

The band’s music is described as melodic death metal sometimes. I think progressive elements are stronger here, but there is a large and abiding melodic element so I see where the recurring handle comes from. The appealing factors for me throughout the album are the recurring juxtaposition of light and dark, harsh and quiet, and the unfiltered emotional expressions. The longer you listen to the album the more it grows on you.

I especially appreciate the lead guitar moments were technical ability shines through. The epic fourteen-minute “Atlantidea Suite Part 1” is a stand-out track in this regard and as a summary and emblem of the intent for the overall set. This album will appeal more to the prog crowd than the death metallers out there.

The Pattern is out now. You can pick it up from Time To Kill Records at their on-line store, or the ever-ready Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

Time To Kill Records, https://timetokillrecords.bigcartel.com/category/oceana

Oceana, The Pattern (Time To Kill Records 2021)

Mother Of Graves, In Somber Dreams (Wise Blood Records 2021)

The new EP from Indianapolis metal band Mother Of Graves is a melancholy shovelful of crossover Doom.

The musicians are Thomas Hunt (bass), Don Curtis (drums), Ben Sandman (guitar), Chris Morrison (guitar), and Brandon Howe (vocals). They are a new band with a lot of experience and a couple of singles under their belt. In Somber Dreams is their first EP. According to their Bandcamp entry, the band is “[n]amed after a mythological Latvian protector of cemeteries (Kapu māte)[.]” Their style is along the Melodic Death metal range, and the vocalizations bring classic Swedish bands to my mind. The music is heavy and serious in tone, relying on rhythm and synchronous constituents to mold a finished product.

There are four tracks on this inaugural release. “In Somber Dreams” is an introduction to the general bleak perspective of the music you are about to hear. It sets the stage and dresses it in funeral attire. “Nameless Burial” adds a voiceover to further the narrative depth of the incantation, ultimately devolving into disorder with a tinkling off-center piano and destabilized sonic surges at the end. “The Urn” is a mood piece with undulating utterances, doleful exertions, and an undeniable gothic tailwind. Finally there is “Deliverance,” lodged into my head as a soft and twinkling, with an insisting bass line and a tempo that picks up nicely three and a half minutes in.

The band says they are working on a full-length album and I am really looking forward to that. I have listened to these four songs a couple times and they are hanging with me, telling stories and making promises. I want to see where this all goes.

In Somber Dreams is out tomorrow in digital, cassette, and CD forms. Grab one for your very own at the Wise Blood Bandcamp page. Recommended.

Photo of the band snagged from their Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wisebloodrecords.bandcamp.com/album/in-somber-dreams

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

Mother Of Graves, In Somber Dreams (Wise Blood Records 2021)

Allegaeon, Concerto in Dm (Metal Blade 2020)

If J. S. Bach had had an electric guitar to work with, his music might have sounded something like this.

Last year’s Apoptosis was a major event in the evolution of Allegaeon, and in heavy music, really. The superlative musicianship combined with cunning composition established a primary marker in the band’s canon.

It might have been overlooked by the casual fan that the vinyl release of Apoptosis included two tracks not available on the digital download. Those tracks have now been released as a digital single for the greater enjoyment of the public at large.

“Concerto in Dm.” When the Roundabout single came out earlier this year, I suggested that you listen to the original Yes song first in order to appreciate better the new version by Allegaeon. Same thing here. The Bach music is Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 allegro, to be precise. Typically executed on harpsicord and bowed string instruments, it sounds amazing on electric guitar with modern accompaniment. After all, it is not just the guitar – Bach didn’t have this percussion, either. This is not a note-for-note replication. Rather, this is an interpretation necessarily requiring some alterations. The resulting music is superb.

Side B is “In Flanders Fields,” a beautiful piece featuring acoustic guitar. Here it serves as a peaceful wind down from its energetic companion. The two seem very much like they go together, even lifted as they are out of the context of the larger album.

Concerto in Dm is available now at Bandcamp and other fine establishments. If you did not get these songs on the vinyl last year, now is the time to pick them up. Recommended.

Links.

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

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/allegaeon

YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/ALLEGAEON

Roudabout review, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/04/allegaeon-roundabout-single-review/

Allegaeon, Concerto in Dm (Metal Blade 2020)

Soilwork, A Whisp Of The Atlantic review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The new Soilwork EP is Long Play in length and grand in stature.

I jumped onto the Soilwork bandwagon with Sworn To A Great Divide in 2007, and that was their seventh full-length album so I started out way behind the curve. Discovering the rest of their music over the years by hearing the subsequent new releases while simultaneously going through the back catalogue was a journey and a quest. Melodic Death Metal segue to Metalcore and Groove, the music was always full bodied and finished with precision.

The new EP is 38 minutes long with an epic opening song that runs nearly half that total length. Soilwork has produced some long songs, but nothing like this. And significantly, there is a lot of story here, which makes sense given the nature of the construction. The band for A Whisp Of The Atlantic is Bjorn Strid (vocals), David Andersson (guitar), Sylvain Coudret (guitar), Sven Karlsson (keys, samples), and Bastian Thusgaard (drums).

Andersson tells us that each songs has an underlying core, “From the desire of ‘Feverish,’ the urge of ‘Desperado,’ the determinism of ‘Death Diviner,’ the insights and questions of ‘The Nothingness and the Devil’ and the acceptance and spiritual searching of ‘A Whisp of the Atlantic.’” The centerpiece title song is a complicated composition ranging over a broad spectrum of music and feeling in its seventeen minutes. It does not stand alone on the album, but it could, in my estimation. It is theatrical and cinematic, by which I mean the presentation of the story through the music exists on the large broad scale and also on a close, intimate one. It is hard to imagine that a band with legendary status like Soilwork would continue to innovate to this degree and post such a milestone so far along their path, but here they have done it. Recommended.

December 4th is the drop date for A Whisp Of The Atlantic. It is an essential element in the Soilwork canon.

Band photo by Stephansdotter Photography.

Links.

Soilwork website, https://www.soilwork.org/

Soilwork Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/soilwork/

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.de/en/label/music/band/discography/details/6963921.70960.a-whisp-of-the-atlantic-ep.html

Soilwork, A Whisp Of The Atlantic review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Carcass, Despicable review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Carcass first appeared more than thirty years ago, becoming a Death Metal mainstay immediately, and they are not done yet.

Carcass created its place in music history by pioneering extreme metal on their earliest albums in the late 1980s. A few years later, they were on the forefront of a new movement in metal, melodic death metal. In both of these cases, the band provided a vision that was expanded on by multitudes of other acts and that persist today. They took a break for a long stretch after Swansong in 1996, not releasing another full-length album until Surgical Steel (2013).

Despicable is an EP released in advance of next year’s full-length album, and it holds songs that will not be on that longer album. The band is Jeff Walker, Bill Steer, Daniel Wilding, and Tom Draper, and the music continues on the path the band has solidly established in its second incarnation.

There are four songs on the new EP, beginning with “The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue,” which has delightful thrashiness to it, culminating in a swirling storm of enraged hornets performed on guitar toward the end. “The Long and Winding Bier Road” has a slower and heavier taste, telling a story in clever hooks. The gas is punched again on “Under the Scalpel Blade,” adding in a sordid Penny Dreadful storyline to warm your veins. “Slaughtered in Soho” is the sign-off, with an airy riff and a tender growl – and a wailing lead break. If these four fine songs are any sign of what the 2021 album will be like, we are definitely in for a wild ride. Recommended.

Out now from Nuclear Blast, you can get Despicable in all sorts of formats from Bandcamp or through the store portal link below.

Links.

Carcass Bandcamp, https://carcass.bandcamp.com/album/despicable

Carcass Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/OfficialCarcass

Carcass YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/Carcass

Nuclear Blast Records Store Portal, https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2020/Carcass/despicable.html

Carcass, Despicable review (Nuclear Blast 2020)