Yngwie Malmsteen, Parabellum (Music Theories Recordings 2021)

Heavy Metal guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen brings forth his twenty-first solo album, Parabellum.

Trilogy (1986) was the first Yngwie Malmsteen album I ever heard. That is his third album, I found out after being blown away by his playing, following Rising Force (1984) and Marching Out (1985). I have never missed one since. Endlessly prolific, his previous album was Blue Lightning in 2019 and it was an incredible achievement. The new one is even better.

Sometimes compared to Ritchie Blackmore, Malmsteen does draw inspiration for classical music, like Blackmore does, and you can clearly hear it in his compositions. Malmsteen’s playing, however, is unrivaled and can be held up to anybody at the top of your list. His execution is impeccable, flawless.

There are ten tracks on Parabellum. I always look for the instrumental songs first because I want to be amazed and astounded by Malmsteen’s playing. You don’t really have to do that because there is astonishing guitar work in every song whether there are vocals or not. Still … my favorite tracks are “Presto Vivace in C# minor” and “(Si Vis Pacem) Parabellum,” both instrumentals. I get completely lost listening to them, immersed in the miraculous guitar.

More radio-friendly (but not very friendly) songs include “Wolves At The Door” and “Relentless Fury,” both released early as singles from the album and both having vocals for broader appeal. They are great songs with killer shreds. There are also slower pieces, such as “Eternal Bliss,” to go along with the ragers ( like “Toccata”) for when you are in a more introspective mood. Something for everybody, you might say, as long as everybody wants to hear metal guitar music.

Let me say it again: every track has peerless guitar performances regardless of what else might be happening in the song. Malmsteen has not lost any energy or ingenuity as the years have passed on. My esteem grows for him and his music with each new record. Highly recommended.

Parabellum is out now. Tap the link to the Mascot Label page to see the available varieties and merch.

Links.

Website, https://www.yngwiemalmsteen.com/

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

Mascot Label Group, https://usa-store.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/yngwie-malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen, Parabellum (Music Theories Recordings 2021)

Necrogod, In Extremis (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Musicians from Sweden and Costa Rica join forces to create a pummeling Death Metal assault on your senses.

The music for Necrogod is composed by Rogga Johansson who also executes all the instruments except voice, which comes from The Master Butcher. Previously, Necrogod released an EP in 2015, The Inexorable Death Reign, and a split with Morbid Stench two years later, The Bifid Tongue of Doom & Death. The new album, In Extremis, is another thunderous step toward heavy music eminence.

There are nine tight tracks on the new album, all in the three to four minute range, making them approachable and ripe for relistening. From the very first song, “Bringers of Blasphemy,” you can tell there is something different in the approach Rogga has taken this time. The music has a groove quality to it combined with unlikely elements, like a discordant lead break followed by a rollicking rhythm reminiscent of Motörhead culminating in a growling drift-out. This album will appeal to metal fans along a broad spectrum.

This approach follows through, and still he variety is impressive. It is fascinating and engaging to experience one iteration after another. The combination of crushing metal with affable hook and snag catchalls is a powerful push. Along with the opener, I especially admire “The Obsessive and the Deranged” and “When Madness Has Taken Control.” OSDM elements regenerated in previously unconsidered ways are welcome additions to the music in my head. Recommended.

In Extremis has a street date of Friday, July 23rd and preorders are available now through Transcending Obscurity’s store or Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://necrogod.bandcamp.com/album/in-extremis-death-metal

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

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/search/?q=necrogod

Necrogod, In Extremis (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Intricate Funeral Doom laced with Death Metal is what you can expect from the new Suffer Yourself album, Rip Tide.

Suffer Yourself began in Poland as a one-man operation by Stanislav Govorukha (guitars and vocals). Over the years the roster has expanded and the new album includes contributions by Lars Abrahamsson (guitars), Kateryna Osmuk (drums), and Johan Selleskog (bass). Rip Tide is the third set from the band, following Ectoplasm (2016) and Inner Sanctum (2014).

The music is Funeral Doom, a category most glum. Suffer Yourself takes an expansive perspective on the genre and is not satisfied with ambient morosity. Instead, each song either has many movements that create a variegated aural landscape or has a second (and third) persistent intricacy that elevates the composition.

There are three tracks on Ripe Tide, starting with “Spit In The Chasm,” a twenty minute suite. It is here you find the full spectrum of the band on display, including soaking Funeral Doom, eerily floating vocals and calls, sudden burst of speed and diversions into torrid Death and Black Metal territory. It is a complex affair that unfolds like a darkly absorbing drama laid bare before you.

Next is “Désir de trépas maritime (Au bord de la mer je veux mourir)” which is quiet and somber  and features a beautiful, mournful cello in its first movement. Before the three minute mark, the music changes from sad to threatening with guitars issuing an obvious warning. In the final third of the song, there has an oddly upsetting spoken word passage joined by the cello and other discordant instruments and effects.

The closer is a short ambient drone piece, “Submerging,” which is more of an exhortation regarding things to come than it is a wind-down. Taken together these three pieces coalesce into an unforgettable cortège moving toward oblivion. Recommended.

Rip Tide will be released on Friday, June 25th by Aesthetic Death on CD, vinyl, and digital. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

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

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

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Aesthetic Death Bandcamp, https://aestheticdeath.bandcamp.com/

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Eye Of Purgatory, The Lighthouse (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The sophomore album from Eye Of Purgatory achieves new levels of breadth and captivation.

The band’s first album, The Rotting Enigma, came out in 2018. Helmed by the indefatigable Rogga Johansson, that inaugural issue was a fiery burst of Death Metal remembered especially for the ten minute opus “The Hause on the Edge of Hell.” The new album is more expansive in its compositional idiom while staying true to the old school metal framework. Johansson is joined in the studio by Taylor Nordberg (drums, guitar, keys) and Jeramie Kling (bass).

There are eight tracks on The Lighthouse after the intro instrumental bit, most of them punching in at the four minute interval – they could all be singles. It is mid- and up-tempo work, notable and marked by the generous use of keyboards which, let’s face it, are not a Death Metal standard. On this album the keys fit right in and would be sorely missed if absent.

The roughened voice is a dominant force in every piece, sharing space and prominence on a revolving basis with the other instruments. Clever twiddles abound, always surround and bolstered by solid guitar riffs.

The narrative elements on the new album are more dark fantasy in origin compared to the earlier release which focused narrowly on horror ideas. I think the myth and mysteries fits the music a bit better and that makes me like this set even more. From the opening “The Lighthouse” to the final notes of the closer “Rebirth,” there is a constantly maneuvering maelstrom of metal that blends the wizened old school sensibility with a Melodic Death Metal tincture to produce a literary-lace musical theater. Rogga Johansson strikes again. Recommended.

The Lighthouse is out now from Transcending Obscurity. Bandcamp is the place to get it in all its forms.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://eyeofpurgatory.bandcamp.com/album/the-lighthouse-death-metal

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

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/band/eye-of-purgatory

Eye Of Purgatory, The Lighthouse (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Wytch, Exordium (Ripple Music 2021)

The debut album from Sweden’s Wytch is a rugged and dynamic statement of intent burgeoning with both straight-forward and clandestine perambulations.

Formed in 2017 as Aska, the band released an EP under that name and then switched to Wytch for their first long-player, Exordium. The musicians have performed with numerous other bands over the years, including Vintersorg. The roster is Simon Lundström (bass), Fredrik Nilsson (drums), Niklas Viklund (guitars), Mattias Marklund (guitars), and Johanna Lundberg (vocals).

There are eight tracks on the album. Each song is set up with a clever and catchy hook that the song develops around. It is a bluesy heavy psych sound defined by those rummaging guitar parts and Johanna Lundberg’s unforgettable, haunting voice. The zippy lead breaks are sometimes pepperpot shots and at other times are languid and insinuating. Sturdy bass and drum lines free the voice and guitars to crossover each other while simultaneously self-actualizing therewith, engendering a synergistic construct. It all sounds effortless but of course it couldn’t be. Music like this is rare.

Stand-out tracks for me are the pairings of expansive “Blood” with “Evil Heart” and doomy “Break You Down” with “You.” That’s half the set, isn’t it – I’m not really narrowing it down much. The thing is when you first hear any song on the album it immediately draws you in and holds onto you with a mystical spell that may or may not be sinister. It is not like a Siren song but instead it is more like the snowfall that awakens the intrepid journeyers in The Wizard Of Oz. It just doesn’t make any sense to stop listening. Recommended.

You can get Exordium right now. Look over the options at Ripple Music’s store or on Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/exordium

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/people/Wytch-Band/100063579726744/

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/wytch-exordium-limited-digipak-cd

Wytch, Exordium (Ripple Music 2021)

Vokonis, Odyssey (The Sign Records 2021)

Sweden’s Vokonis has created a progressive rock/metal album designed to push out against borders and boundaries and exist in that expanded space.

With three previous full-length albums stretching back only to 2016, Vokonis seems to be on a mission. The earlier music was more in the stoner/doom lane (it seemed to me) and the newer work is heading toward the prog. That is a touchy transition that Vokonis has managed effectively. The band is Simon Ohlsson (guitar, vocals), Jonte Johansson (bass, vocals), and Peter Ottosson (drums), with Per Wiberg on keyboards for this album.

I always look first for the longer songs because I appreciate the necessary complexity and endurance required for an extended composition. There are six tracks on Odyssey, half at radio length and half tending toward the epic frame. “Rebellion,” then, is an opening shorter piece that sets up the nine-minute title track that follows. The clear vocals allow for straight-forward narrative delivery atop the keyboard beds and pulsing guitar riffs. “Odyssey” is a big story and it is beautifully imagined. Listening to the guitar diversions and occasional gruffing vocalizations you realize they are the milestones that mark the way and that will spark memories on re-listening.

“Blackened Wings” and “Azure” are shorter, up-tempo skirmishes that liven up the set and add a couple of my favorite breakaway moments. It is “Hollow Waters” that stands out most to me for the way it combines elegance and power so seamlessly and effectively. The closing track is the longest, “Through The Depths,” and I see it simultaneously as a culmination and a retelling of what has come before – it is filled with ambitious ideas and soaring moments; peppered with lyrical stopovers as well as truculent byways. For fans of the band and fans of transitional prog, this is an album you will want to hear. Recommended.

Odyssey is out now in all its myriad realities and tangential essences. Bandcamp is a good place to start looking over the choices.

Links.

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

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

The Sign Records, https://thesignrecords.bandcamp.com/

Vokonis, Odyssey (The Sign Records 2021)

Moon Coven, Slumber Wood (Ripple Music 2021)

The return to full-length form for Moon Coven brings more thoughtful melodic doom into the world.

The band is from Sweden and has been around for nearly ten years. They released a series of EPs leading up to the self-titled long-player in 2016. Slumber Wood is their second full album. The music has changed a little over time and now the sound produced has a very clear doom intent, the way I hear it, no matter what narrative element might be running at any given time.

The opener, “Further,” and its spiritual companion, “Ceremony,” establish a slow and deliberate pace of heavy stoner psych highlighted by and with the vocals which hover on the light side, and the ethereal. Then suddenly “Potbelly Hill” quiets the rumble down but keeps the doom going with softened sounds for the first minute before taking a turn by introducing a surprisingly turbulent riff that changes the tone of the song entirely. It is a bit dizzying. By the end of third track you don’t know what to think.

Next up is “Eye of the Night” and it sounds like a crime story. The short piece “A Tower of Silence” is a transitional passage to “Bahgsu Nag,” which starts off with a strum. The song has a very different sound, something all its own and apart from the others on the album. Bringing us ultimately to the last two songs, “Seagull” and “My Melting Mind,” which are more in line with the early tracks. The anchor song has a special resonance – maybe it is the phase shift – that ties a knot around you and hangs on. Truly, I can’t get it out of my head.

You can take this album in a number of different ways. The steady ardent doom with surprising bulges and flares is the way I took it and it settled in well with me. Recommended.

Slumber Wood is out now. Vinyl and CD versions are available, as well as the digital download.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/slumber-wood

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/products

Moon Coven, Slumber Wood (Ripple Music 2021)

Domkraft, Seeds (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

The third full-length album from Sweden’s Domkraft is an inflexion point for Doom Metal music.

I first heard (a recording of) Domkraft play live as part of the Day of Doom event put on by Magnetic Eye Records at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, November of 2019. It was a killer bill and Domkraft gave an amazing performance. Since then I have been eagerly awaiting any new music from them. The band is Martin Wegeland (bass and vocals), Anders Dahlgren (drums), and Martin Widholm (guitar). They play heavy, measured doom metal that can shake the rivets lose in a seismograph.

There are seven tracks on Seeds: three long, three medium, and one transition piece. I usually look out for the longer songs because I like the way you can feel transformed in the drawn out expansive space so the first two tracks, “Seeds” and “Perpetrator,” running as they do about eighteen minutes together looked like the perfect launch pad. And they definitely are, both having gigantic, crushing riffs and relentless rolling rhythm. I was immediately taken back to the live recordings and the contemporaneous experience mixed together with my memories of what I had heard before, generating something bigger.

The three tracks in the middle are shorter, but they hit me just as hard, especially “Into Orbit” which I came back to a couple times after the first run through. The anchor song is “Audiodome” and it starts out at full blast, arguing that turning the power down is not an option. The arch toward the vanishing point is subtle and deliberate. There is nothing to do but hold on. When it is over, you are right where you want to be. Every time I listen to Domkraft I like them even more. Highly recommended.

Seeds is out on Friday, April 30th, and is available through finer discerning retailers.

Links.

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

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

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/magnetic-eye-records/domkraft-seeds.html

Domkraft, Seeds (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)

A new album from Sweden’s Greenleaf is always a reason to celebrate and the new one pushes the envelope on anticipation.

Greenleaf has been laying down tracks for a couple decades now. Their most recent album was 2018’s Hear The Rivers and while the new one has the familiar presence that earlier one had, it is a step up and beyond. The band is Tommi Holappa (guitar), Sebastian Olsson (drums), Hans Fröhlich (bass), and Arvid Jonsson (vocals).

The album has ten fuzzy, psychedelic tracks that will wrap around you and soak right in. The opener is “Tides,” a get-to-know you track that lays down the blanket in the grass. “Good God I Better Run Away” follows and it is bursting with energy and urgency. It is positively loaded with wonderizing guitar work. Then “Needle In My Eye” has an ethereal quality to it, echoing as it does off the walls and telling as it does a sinister tale. You hear these three songs back-to-back and you start to drift, confident in your choice of music.

All the pieces come together on this album in the way we expect from the earlier ones. I get an extra bounce on this one, though – something about it is bigger to me. Every song has something extraordinary about it. “A Hand Of Might” sticks in my mind for its rolling tremulousness; “March On Higher Grounds” for its restless insistence. “What Have We Become” is the last song of the set and it is a meditation. On what? That might be different for every person who listens to it. At first it put me in a fog but by the end my vision had cleared. It is a good way to come down.

Echoes From A Mass is waiting for you right now. Links below. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greenleaf-sweden.bandcamp.com/

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

Label, https://label.napalmrecords.com/greenleaf

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)