February 2018

Alterbeast, American Nightmare, Angra, Dimmu Borgir, Einar Selvik, Genocide Pact, Huntsmen, Keiji Haino, Legend Of The Seagullmen, Letters From The Colony, Necrophobic, Night In Gales, Satan's Satyrs, Sumac, The Atlas Moth, Therion, Visigoth, Windhand -

February 2018

Artist: Einar Selvik
Album: Snake Pit Poetry
Label: By Norse Music
Release date: February 2nd, 2018

After a digital release, which took place in October 2017, By Norse will bring the physical edition containing the music written for the widely acclaimed “Vikings” series by History Channel. This EP includes the song scoring one episode in the fourth season of the series, called “Snake Pit Poetry” and its acoustic version. It is a very important release coming after the latest Wardruna, which revealed a captivating musical take on the dualism sprung from destruction and rebirth. “Snake Pit Poetry” abounds in ritualistic elements fascinating thus the contemporary crowds which came to understand such archaic artistic views as alien phenomena. The feeling you get while listening to this EP points out a shamanic vision which doesn’t necessarily expose the certain emotions you must feel, but rather settles the adequate circumstance so that the listener discovers himself the psych. Einar Selvik masters his ancient wind and string instruments and adds monumental drums provoking a sense of finality. Modern tools and samples are also audible on “Snake Pit Poetry” and the beautiful vocals of Hilda Örvarsdottir – who is renowned for her work on films and series’ soundtracks and her collaboration with Hans Zimmer – emphasize what poetry is about on this record. It’s no surprise, of course, since Selvik is accustomed to work with some of the most powerful female vocals nowadays, given the unearthly gifts of Wardruna’s Lindy Fay Hella.

Artist: Genocide Pact
Album: Order Of Torment
Label: Relapse Records
Release date: February 2nd, 2018

Washington-based Genocide Pact is to release the second full length, which spins about 40 minutes of slow and mid-paced old school death metal, with active thrash riffing culminating through a fast black-death deliration. The songs propose an Incantation-influenced darkness and a Bolt-Thrower sort of linearity, but you will see that there’s many more other classics worshiped on this album, somehow like on the previous one. The drumming is quite heavy and is executed by Power Trip’s live drummer Connor Donegan, while the bass sound is one of the most vibrant thing you can get within the brutal music of our age. That’s because “Order Of Torment” has the most well-balanced mixing and mastering you could hear and one of those responsible for this good quality is Kevin Bernsten, who has worked with serious guys such as Code Orange or Magrudergrind and took good care of the recordings for the latest Genocide Pact.

Artist: Therion
Album: Beloved Antichrist
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release date: February 2nd, 2018

The latest albums written by the great Swedish masters of the rock opera since “Sirius B” from 2004 are kind of troublesome due to a pretty bombastic and thematic expression. The new “Beloved Antichrist” is derived from concepts developed by Russian philosopher, poet and theologian Vladimir Solovyov, but the sound and the usual exotic features laid by Therion, especially after they got rid of most of the death metal details in their music (i.e. more than 20 years ago), make things hard to grasp in this moment and time. For instance, the single “Temple Of New Jerusalem” proves assuredly Therion’s abilities of writing great pieces, but the musical direction is just too epic to be embraced. The vocal lines and classic rhythms are catchy enough, but the mood comes from a different era, one which might not get a revival. Otherwise, if we keep in mind Christofer Johnsson’s theatrical purposes, an album like “Beloved Antichrist” makes more sense when presented on stage. This new material comprises three acts which together run for about three hours, and the press releases announced that the band works for the possibility of enacting such a tremendous production for the public.

Artist: Legend Of The Seagullmen
Album: Legend Of The Seagullmen
Label: Dine Alone Records
Release date: February 9th, 2018

What about a nautical debut or simply a musical adventure into the mysterious vast waters? Guitarist and vocalist Brent Hinds of Mastodon teamed up with Tool’s drummer Danny Carey, bassist Pete Griffin (Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, Zappa Plays Zappa) and keyboardist Chris Digiovanni for this super-group called Legend Of The Seagullmen. The gang involves also a visual artist, namely Jimmy Hayward, who has been working for popular animated films made by Pixar and has four credits already as a film director. Beyond his musical involvement, which perhaps brought the filmic approach of this album, he plans to ensure some visual dimension for the future performances of the group. “Ships wreck”, the first single taken from the Legend Of The Seagullmen’s first full length will bring a familiar atmosphere for many of you with its keyboards, although everything is new. It is all about progressive music with a grungy taste and a lot of fantasy. There’s an overall healthy approach on the melodies of this new music given the airy structures and many’s the time when the lines appear free and easy, while the vocals remind of the narrative fragments of Nick Cave’s way on “Murder Ballads”. Therefore, don’t expect this work to dive into the abstract and contemplative depths like The Ocean did with their “Pelagial” in 2013, but prepare for an unstrained swimming time which is meant to bring you various enjoyable and surprising discoveries.

Artist: The Atlas Moth
Album: Coma Noir
Label: Prosthetic Records
Release date: February 9th, 2018

The fourth album by American atmospheric sludge collective The Atlas Moth seems to eradicate for good that melancholic sonic expression which we could hear on the previous releases. If we focus on the title-track, the energy is immense and this is definitely a new level in the musical evolution of the band, not only an improvement of the predecessors. The chorus of this new single is imposing, the riffs convey a hellish attitude, the drumming gets damn serious and heavy and there come guitar themes with an experimental input, while the main vocals lay emphasis only on the noisy side, making things more aggressive than what we knew in the past about The Atlas Moth’s sound.

Artist: Visigoth
Album: Conqueror's Oath
Label: Metal Blade
Release date: February 9th, 2018

A redhead lady in armour rides a masked horse and carries a flag around a medieval castle built on a hill and everything is rendered in blue hues, reflecting a fairy-like realm. This image created by Kris Verwimp, who is renowned for various masterpieces made for Moonsorrow, Absu, Bewitched or Arkona, shows clearly that we deal with an old-fashioned epic series of anthems. “Conquerer’s Oath” by American hordes of Visigoth is a fair continuation of their first and previous album, a stand-alone monument of power and heavy metal filled with dynamics, melodic explosions, heroic feels and all which is related. Obviously, such approach draws in many hard-rock fragments and tendencies from the NWOBHM style. It’s 2018, but “Conquerer’s Oath” places us a few decades in the past. The execution shines, while the sound is made in such way that it appears timeless.

Artist: American Nightmare
Album: American Nightmare
Label: Rise Records
Release date: February 16th, 2018

It was no doubt a surprise to find about the reunion of the Boston-based pioneers of the new wave of hardcore punk back in 2011, under the original name, but these days’ news regarding their new album, the first full length in 15 years, is totally jaw-dropping. We all know that if it wasn’t by American Nightmare, the hardcore genre would not reach the evolution we see today. It’s not that they influenced only some of their most prolific Deathwish Inc. fellows, starting with Converge, but their urban wildness provided inspiration for groups which spurred different movements, such as Hatebreed or My Chemical Romance. The short single taken from the self-titled new record, called “The World Is Blue” proves the most mature phase of American Nightmare so far within its pretty thrashy introduction which makes the perfect room for an awesome vocal protest. Having great expectations from these American underground legends and their new actions is pretty natural given that the disc was written and recorded by the founding members. Vocalist Wesley Eisold stated “In making this record we had one goal: to make a hardcore punk album that was true to American Nightmare, who we were then and who we are now.” (Consequence of Sound)

Artist: Angra
Album: Ømni
Label: earMUSIC
Release date: February 16th, 2018

The Latin word “Ømni” translates as “everything” and accurately explains the nature of the music created by this Brazilian band. Those who are into motley progressive sounds with structures conceived by the means of the power metal surely take Angra as a solid reference given the rich history of the group, which spans about 25 years. The ninth full-length “Ømni” brings as many genres as possible in a single product, just like the previous ones. It is another concept album and this time the story is set among scientific endeavours undertaken by time travellers and everyone that goes through epic conflicts. Many would associate the crazy melodies written by Angra with the early Sonata Arctica, but the latter is just a consequence. Back to the point, “Ømni” indeed relates to everything in music. From the Judas Priest’s heaviness to the most popular tendencies in symphonic music and the craziest Latin rhythms interchanging with a djent-like staccato. It may be too much for some of us though.

Artists: Windhand & Satan's Satyrs
Album: Split
Label: Relapse Records
Release date: February 16th, 2018

After touring together, releasing a split record is a more than a predictable step for Windhand and Satan’s Satyrs. Therefore, the fuzzy dreams of this bunch of werewolves and other graceful old-horror creatures are exposed at length. Here we have two new tracks by Windhand, one of them is “Old Evil” which was already released as a single and unveiled kind of the same atmosphere rendered by the female-fronted Virginian group on “Grief’s Infernal Flower”, although this new one goes deeper into the most hermetic side of the doom style. On the other hand, Satan’s Satyrs comes with a new version for the memorable “Alucard” from the first record, and other two new songs, “Succubus” – whose title points to a mad and beautiful classic of Carbonized, so one can only hope that Satan’s Satyrs will alter the musical structures in surprising ways – and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby”.

Artist: Letters From The Colony
Album: Vignette
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release date: February 16th, 2018

Swedish Meshuggah worshipers of Letters From The Colony will bring soon their first full length album, after working on it quite a lot with writing, deleting and rewriting. The surrealistic video they released for the first single from “Vignette” helps a bit the understanding of this music made with red-tapism rigors which shows also obvious elements taken from Gojira. Concept-wise, we speak of a nice contrast between the musical execution and the thematic approach, which revolves around the differences between the image of an individual and its essence. While these robotic means of creating songs may be fascinating for some, others take them as exhausting pieces of noise due to certain formulas of writing which sometimes don’t involve much creativity.

Artist: Night In Gales
Album: The Last Sunsets
Label: Apostasy Records
Release date: February 23rd, 2018

The sixth full length of German group Night in Gales is definitely a hymn dedicated to the glory days of the melodic death metal. There’s a clear connection with the iconic “Slaughter of the Soul” by At the Gates when it comes to the main components of the music: riffs, rhythm and vocals. Beyond this, one can sense some hardcore force upon some vocal sections and another regnant classic feature emerges from the early Arch Enemy records. Yet there is a self-contained energy which defines “The Last Sunsets” on the strength of the two guitarists’ identity and vocalist Müller, who returned to this line-up after about 20 years, since Night in Gales was in its inception phase. Speaking of vocal matters, “The Last Sunsets” features some cool diversity since there are three other guest vocalist involved, such as ex-Morgoth’s Marc Grewe, Christian Mertens of Dark Millennium and Martin Matzak of Torchure.

Artist: Alterbeast
Album: Feast
Label: Unique Leader
Release date: February 23rdh, 2018

Listening the second album by American duo Alterbeast may deal as well with some exhaustion due to the unresting type of tech death metal presented here. Except for the fragments in which the vocals resemble Dani Filth’s manners and the few piano interventions showing a semblance with the thrills expressed by Carach Angren on the latest album, Alterbeast’s “Feast” is kind of a typical quarrelling manifesto of modern extreme metal. However, expect to hear various fluctuations throughout the album and if you enjoy the agitation in the Archspire’s music, let’s say, “Feast” will appear as a well-developed album for you.

Artist: Dimmu Borgir
Album: Interdimensional Summit
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release date: February 23rd, 2018

Although a new album by Norwegian legends of Dimmu Borgir would seem pretty futile these days, the members have talked with great admiration and satisfaction about it. Guitarist Silenoz said that if this was not their best album, they would not see any point in releasing another one. While the new full length will be out only in the next spring, eight years after the latest one, the fans can catch a glimpse of the new symphonies sooner with the EP “Interdimensional Summit”, which features a new song and a live version of “Puritania”. Let’s wait and see if the new things are worthy of Silenoz’s descriptions and wish that the wonderful vocalist and collaborator Agnete Kjølsrud will have more space of expression in the upcoming Dimmu Borgir’s music.

Artists: Sumac & Keiji Haino
Album: American Dollar Bill...
Label: Thrill Jockey Records
Release date: February 23rd, 2018

This looks like a captivating collaborative album if we take into account what we know so far about these two names. Keiji Haino’s uncategorized abstractness might be pretty helpful for SUMAC given that Aaron Turner’s project headed into some dark sounds which generated a confusing identity, especially for those who were into the emotional intensity revealed by Isis. Basically, Japanese artist Haino might have stripped SUMAC of the things learned so far and “American Dollar Bill…” might be a zero-point in the band’s experience. In other words, it was the spontaneity which missed in the SUMAC music, despite the tense approach, while Haino bases the creative process on spontaneity to the fullest, no matter whether he dives into drone sounds, minimalistic structures emerging from blues or psychedelic. It’s not like the American-Canadian band went to Japan and entered the studio in order to be fully guided by Haino’s madness, but one can assume that it was all about a positive influence. From the preview we had so far, “American Dollar Bill…” will surely be a pretty noisy experiment.

Artist: Huntsmen
Album: American Scrap
Label: Prosthetic Records
Release date: February 23rd, 2018

Here’s some good old American folk inspired by Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, with a clear voice telling a couple of confusing stories which will surely raise a nice nostalgia for many listeners. Hailing from Chicago, Huntsmen reach in 2018 the moment of their debut album after two EPs. “American Scrap” is not entirely a traditional piece so expect some post-rock tunes and other influences as well. Regarding the lyrical theme of this record, vocalist and guitarist Chris Kang said: «I always have conflicting feelings where I’m really proud of the inclusive and optimistic ideal it represents – my father found opportunity here to carve a life that just didn't exist back home – but I’m really ashamed of so much of its past and present. I wanted to make an album that spent some time with these confusing feelings, and that was “American Scrap”».  (Brave Words)

Artist: Necrophobic
Album: Mark Of The Necrogram
Label: Century Media
Release date: February 23rd, 2018

For the eighth studio album, Swedish blackened deathers of Necrophobic collaborated again with the mighty Necrolord for the cover artwork, after more than 20 years. Like the “Darkside” imagery, “Mark of the Necrogram” reveals imposing architecture and this time the main element is the standard pentagram. The difference between the music made 20 years ago and what Necrophobic conveys now is the evidential decrease of the Dissection semblance. Nonetheless, there are still a lot of melodic characteristics in the songs from the latest album and they are intertwined with a pretty classic black metal. The death metal features are less significant on the “Mark of the Necrogram” and the overall musical course doesn’t seem to lead somewhere.

The Fox

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