Sounds from Apocalypse - Reviews

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Noveria - Aequilibrium (2019) 8.5/10

My reference in the Progressive Power Metal subgenre is Symphony X from USA, but when refering to country, it must be Italy, with bands like DGM, Secret Sphere, Vision Divine and... Noveria. After two albums, in 2014 and 2016, Aequilibrium is definitively the confirmation in this hard kind of music. Great solos, addictive melodies with keyboard support, efficient rhythms, an excellent vocalist and no boring lines are the ingredients needed, and Noveria applies them all. It's not a surprise that all members, except the vocalist, play in other bands, like DGM (bass) and Ethernity (guitars and keyboards). This album is full of subtle details, gets better everytime it is heard.
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   NOVERIA - Broken (Official Video)

Antonello Giliberto - The Strategy Of Chaos (2019) 8.5/10

Many years ago, I liked a lot Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore and other guitar heros, and still own and enjoy their first albums. So when I received a contact from Antonello Giliberto to review the album, after a brief search of course I accepted. He is an italian guitar player, and besides their solo works, also a composer and educator. There are many fast and virtuous guitar players, but feeling and skills to compose good and remarkable songs is not for everyone. But mr. Giliberto's compositions got it. Influenced by the classics, the instrumental songs are either fast (some power) or melancholic, but all have a proper sentiment. The Strategy Of Chaos, his third album, includes collaboration from other skilled musicians, and is a must to all Neoclassical Metal fans.
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   Forgotten Mists
   Secrets from the Past

Ария - Гость из царства теней [Aria - Guest From The Shadow King, Live] (2019) 9/10

Some months ago I reviewed here Aria's last studio album "Curse Of The Seas". Being quite unknown outside Russia, the situation is changing fast and the band got invitations to some european festivals, like Keep It True. Now they released a DVD + 2 CD with the full pharaonic show recorded in Moscow, April 2019. And this band really loves live shows, this being the third release in 3 years. With an excellent setlist of 18 songs, lengthing for 2 hours, quite good players and vocalist, a Metal party is assured. But Aria wanted more, so they got a huge visual show, one of the largest I've ever seen: a 3 level stage, 9 meters LED screens, a "ghost ship" floating platform, a suspended system for the vocalist and many other effects. The music, perfectly recorded, is among the best Heavy Metal actually made, of course sung in Russian.
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   Ария - Проклятье морей (LIVE, 30.04.2019)

Stone Sovereign - Tales of Myth & Madness (2019) 7.5/10

Stone Sovereign hails from the far away Australia. They started in 2013 with the name Tomes of Ruin, released 2 EPs and, in 2016, adopted the current name. After an homoninous EP, here is the first album. The music is a reasonable Melodic Death, viking tinted, with some Folk. Not too original, but the aussies succeeded to make an entertaining album. Vocalist Jordan Giblett has a proper way of singing, midway to talking, but fits in the music. In my oppinion, the mixing could be better. Favorite songs: Across The Boiling See and Children Of The Old Gods. Overall it is a good album, give it a listening!
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   Stone Sovereign - Across the Boiling Sea
   Children of the Old Gods

Waylander - Ériú's Wheel (2019) 8.5/10

One of the best representatives of Celtic Folk Metal is back. Waylander comes from Northern Ireland and their celtic influences and pagan roots are well impregnated into their music. By conjugating folk instruments, most of the time whistle but also mandolin, with extreme music and aggressive vocals, it seems we are transported to a dense forest and attend a pagan ritual. Seven years after the good Kindred Spirits, Ériú's Wheel maintains the same level. Just a curiosity, Ériú is a matron goddess of Ireland, and where the country name came. Being quite homogeneous and without weak parts, I will highlight Beltime, As The Sun Stands Still and Autumnal Blaze. And it's an awesome live band, if you can, don't loose a show.
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Lemuria - The Hysterical Hunt (2019) 9/10

Here it is another band coming from a long time of inactivity, in this case 9 years. Lemuria is a Belgian quintet that plays a good symphonic Black Metal with some Folk and Heavy elements. The Hysterical Hunt is the third album and the major impression are the majestic orchestrations, maybe exaggerated to the detriment of guitars and rhythm section. Some spoken parts give a cinematic effect and defines the album conception on a XVIII century tale of werewolves. Anyway, the overall album is a good surprise, I may suggest a mix of Dimmu Borgir, Stormlord, Bal-Sagoth, even with some Wintersun orchestrations. Alexandra Kastrinakis, Daedric Tales vocal, is a guest in some songs including the beautiful folk song that ends the album. Another band highly recommended to see alive, as I have done a month ago in Zaragoza.
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   LEMURIA - A Plague Upon The Land (Official Video)
   LEMURIA - Deceptive Hibernation (Lyric Video)

Salduie - Viros Veramos (2019) 9/10

Spain has a great tradition on Folk Metal with many trilling bands. And Salduie for sure is one of the best representatives. Viros Veramos is the third album, a conceptual album about the Iberian resistance against the Roman Empire, led by Sertorio (nice to remember some of our History). There is even a song named Viriato, dedicated to the Lusitanian resistance ☺ Musically, all songs are excellent, mixing the folk instruments (bagpipe, flute, tin whistle) with good guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. I love the parts when all instruments stop, then the tin whistle leads just with drums. By using several voices, clean and harsh, the story gains another dimension. An ambitious album totally achieved. If you can, don't miss their live shows, I already saw them twice!
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   R.T.N.P. (Roma Traditoribus Non Praemiat) - Videoclip Oficial, SALDUIE (VIROS VERAMOS, 2019)

Excalion - Emotions (2019) 8.5/10

For those who like the Finnish Power Metal scene with keyboards, like Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, you have to consider this band. Existing since 2000, Emotions is only the fifth album, mainly due to a long period, between 2010 and 2017, without news. As the previous Dream Alive, two years ago, all songs of the album are very well constructed and praise the most melodic branch of Power Metal, with good leads, efficient rhythms, appealing keyboard parts and an excellent job on vocals. Efficient mixing and mastering by Simone Mularoni (from the Prog Power Italian band DGM). As Sonata Arctica is going pop, this is definitely a band to look at. A tour with the opening by the portuguese Waterland would be great ☺
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   EXCALION - Trust (Official Video)
   EXCALION - Sunshine Path (Lyric Video)

Elvenking - Reader of the Runes - Divination (2019) 9/10

After the excellent Secrets of the Magick Grimoire (2017), the Italian kings of Folk Power Metal are back with a new anticipated album. Reader of the Runes - Divination is the first chapter of a series based on the Reader of the Runes story, a mystical figure that reads the future on rune stones and magical cards. Each of the songs is based on a Tarot card (by the way, beautiful set included in the boxset), reminding what the Portuguese Heavenwood made with The Tarot of the Bohemians. Musically, it's an excellent album of Power Metal, maybe a little darker than its precedent, quite melodic, where the violin and Damna's vocals immediatly identifies the band. Very looking forward to see Elvenking again later this year!
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   ELVENKING - Silverseal (2019) // Official Music Video // AFM Records
   ELVENKING - Divination (2019) // Official Music Video // AFM Records

Finsterforst - Zerfall (2019) 10/10

I'm in huge trouble to ellect the best album of 2019, this being one of the best Metal years ever. For sure this album is a serious candidate! Four years after the excellent Mach Dich Frei, and after the less serious and funny #Y0L0 ep, Zerfall is a majestic monument of Folk Post Black Metal. Only with 5 songs, but lasting for almost 80 minutes, the Black Forest Germans even surpasses the previous album. Songs with 13, 11 or even 37 minutes (the magnificent Ecce Homo) boring and repetitive? Not here, for sure! The music flows easily with no weak parts. Despite not having a permanent accordionist since 2016, this instrument still is used often. If in the past they were named as Moonsorrow's followers, since Rastlos (7 years ago) the paths diverged and now in my oppinion Finsterforst is far superior. Mandatory audition and headbanging!
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   FINSTERFORST - Zerfall (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   FINSTERFORST - Fluch des Seins (Short Version) (Official Lyric Video) | Napalm Records

Freedom Call - M.E.T.A.L. (2019) 9/10

Ready for another dosage of Happy Power Metal? Three years after the excellent Master of Light, the friendly germans, celebrating 20 years, are back with another bunch of Metal Hymns. With 2 new members, Francesco Ferraro on bass (also Vexillum) and Tim Breideband on drums (ex-Bonfire), the sound doesn't change a bit. Curious how the new drummer will be alive, not expecting the energy of the former drummer Ramy Ali. Wait, Mr. Dan Zimmermann, the first drummer, is guest in "M.E.T.A.L." and "Sail Away". The lyrics are all about positive vibes and Metal glorification, and, if things aren't good, play the "Ace of the Unicorn", card actually included in the limited edition box, with other excellent goodies. Not original, but maintaining the same high level of the previous albums, and another silly drawing cover as the last one ☺
   Freedom Call Facebook
   FREEDOM CALL - "M.E.T.A.L." (Official Video)
   FREEDOM CALL "111" (Official Video)

Equilibrium - Renegades (2019) 7/10

Opinions diverge a lot on Equilibrium's new album, once my top band, several years ago. No one can claim that René Berthiaume doesn't innovate and is afraid of experiencing new sounds. Three years after the excellent Armageddon (remember Born to be Epic?) here is even a more diverse album. Maintaining some epic sound identity, we also get some clean modern-type vocals, lots of metalcore, oriental mood (Kawaakari - The Periphery Of The Mind), rap (boy, I have to jump Path of Destiny), and no Folk at all. There are a couple decent songs, starting with the first one, but, for a guy that doesn't support metalcore, most album is soon forgettable. Kudos for René's courage and honesty, but I wonder how many of these songs will be on a future setlist! Ah, and the limited edition has the same songs on 8-bit, completely useless. Miss the old sound? Follow Atlas Pain!
   Equilibrium Facebook
   EQUILIBRIUM - Renegades - A Lost Generation (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

HammerFall - Dominion (2019) 9/10

In the lates 1990's, Hammerfall was one of the main responsibles for restoring the traditional values of Heavy and Power Metal with the historical debut Glory to the Brave. The crusaders are now back with their eleventh full-length, three years after the good Built to Last. The formula is explored perfectly, with melodic speed, catchy choruses, ready-to-play-live refrains, the high pitched vocals of Joacim Cans, great guitar riffs and solid rhythm section. Starting with the strongest Never Forgive, Never Forget, there are 12 perfectly chained songs, including two expected slows. All songs have something to notice, but One Against The World (some Iron Maiden?) and the first one are my top. Excellent production, especially the guitars sound.
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   HAMMERFALL - Dominion (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   HAMMERFALL - One Against The World (Official Live Video) | Napalm Records

Astralium - Land of Eternal Dreams (2019) 9/10

From the Land of Eternal... Symphonic Metal Bands, also known as Italy, here comes a new one. Astralium used to be known as Black Roses, was founded by Giuseppe Pappalardo and his daughter Roberta. In 2014 they changed the name to Astralium, but only now they released the first work. And this is a quite strong debut album, with symphonic, power, some progressive, some theatrical dark and full of orchestrations and choirs. The maturation of all songs and their care on arrangements are very evident, but I have to highlight the excellent and flexible Roberta's vocals. Another band? There's always plenty of room for good Metal. The many fans of Nightwish should check this.
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   ASTRALIUM - The Journey (Official Music Video)
   ASTRALIUM - Rising Waves From The Ocean (Official Lyric Video) feat. Tommy Johansson

Dreams in Fragments - Reflections of a Nightmare (2019) 6.5/10

Dreams in Fragments is a new symphonic gothic band coming from a small swiss town, Reflections of a Nightmare being the first album. The band is composed by experienced musicians and a female vocalist. The main reference is indeed Seraina Schöpfer, whose vocals is simultaneously, delicate and strong, flexible and melodic. Almost all musics have a midtempo registry with permanent orchestrations, several keyboard parts, efficient but getting a little flat. As references I may point to Tarja and Delain. A strange note, an instrumental song called Prologue, an interesting small instrumental piece; I would expected this to be at the beginning of the record.
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   DREAMS IN FRAGMENTS - Nightchild (Official Lyric Video)

Elkir - EP 2019 (2019) 8.5/10

Another recent finding, Elkir is a recent Folk Metal band from Italy. Being surprised by their quality and digging a little, the band was born in 2016 in Milan, the first single was released in May 2018 and they are active in the Nord Italy underground, playing with Atlas Pain, Blodiga Skald, Kanseil and others. Recently they released this first 21 minutes EP with five songs. The band is composed by 7 members, including flute, violin and keyboards, and, on top, the excellent vocalizations of Francesca. The music is a good Folk with a celtic accent, quite well played. If you like Eluveitie without the harsh male vocals, you have to check this band, I foresee a brilliant future for them.
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   ELKIR - I Will Return (Official Studio Video)
   ELKIR - Faun Dance (Official Track)

Vagrant - The Rise Of Norn (2019) 8.5/10

A good surprise. Vagrant is a new German band, born in 2016, that plays Melodic Death Metal with epic proportions. Composed by a trio of quite young members, with The Rise of Norn the band created quite an impressive debut. Stanley Robertson's guitars and music provide catchy melodies and solos that stay in your head, well complemented by Dragnier's vocals and lyrics and Arnaud's bass. Some acoustics and folk add subtle details that enriches the composition. The only defect is the length, 34 minutes. Favorite songs: the videos below. If you like melodic songs with intricate solos and emotive vocals, like Insomnium or Aephanemer, you have to hear these brothers!
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   VAGRANT - Darkness During The Reign Of A Black Sun (OFFICIAL Audio)

Sinheresy - Out of Connection (2019) 7/10

Sinheresy is an italian band that plays symphonic melodic Metal with a modern accent. On the tradition of Lacuna Coil, the main characteristic is the vocals duet between the excellent Cecilia Petrini and the efficient Stefano Sain, but the music is closer to Within Temptation and Amaranthe. Out of Connection is the third album, this time mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat and Amaranthe). It's an easy album to listen, well played and sung, adequate for summer, sometimes with a pop feeling thus allowing to expand outside Metal hordes. Very curious to see the band alive next November, on an iberian tour with Brainstorm.
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   SINHERESY - Out of Connection (Official Video)
   SINHERESY - Zero One (Official Video)

Wormwood - Nattarvet (2019) 10/10

With the release of the almost perfect first album, back in 2017 and reviewed on these pages, Wormwood surprised the Metal world with their Melodic Black impregnated of many other styles. So, when hearing that a new album is coming, the expectation was very high. And the result even surpassed. Nattarvet is a mix of exquisite emotions, containing seven songs full of variations and where vocals and all instruments fit like a clock The solos and tremolo guitar frequently breaks in atmospheric and folk moments, like calm after the storm. The lyrics, most in Swedish, got inspiration in an old local hunger period. For sure one of the best albums of the year from one of my top bands! Surprisingly, Metal Happiness is completed, they are playing in Portugal the 10th August, to an unmissable show at Vagos Metal Fest ☺
   Wormwood Facebook
   Wormwood - The Isolationist (Lyric Music Video)
   Wormwood - Av lie och börda (Official Music Video)

Celtian - En Tierra de Hadas (2019) 8.5/10

When talking about Folk Metal, for sure Spain is a reference, being Mago de Oz and Saurom their major ambassadors. Celtian is a new band created by Diego Palacio (ex-Mago de Oz). After an instrumental album in 2017, Xana Lavey entered the band as female vocal and by the end of 2018 a stable line-up has been achieved. En Tierra de Hadas is the second album and the result is quite good. The music is pure symphonic folk, drinking influences from Mago de Oz and Nightwish, quite melodic and where the crystal clear voice is well supported by experienced musicians. Of course violins, whistles and bagpipes play here an important role. It's quite an homogenous album, hard to point out any song. Many guests participate (Mago de Oz, Debler and Eluveitie) and good production from Txus di Fellatio (Mago de Oz).
   Celtian Facebook
   CELTIAN "Niamh" (Videoclip)
   CELTIAN "Tu Hechizo" (Vídeo-lyric)

Synlakross - Malice Murder (2018) 8/10

Nu Metal and Metalcore tell me nothing, so the first time I heard Synlakross (2013?), despite being primarily a Melo Death band, I was not impressed. But knowing that this Spanish band is coming to play in Portugal by the end of the year, let's give this last album a careful listening. Fronted by the extremely versatile Patricia Pons, with a wide vocal range capable of, in a matter of seconds, going from clean singing to growls, whispers or screams. The music is a technical Melodic Death but incorporating elementos of Nu Metal, Metalcore and Groove, resulting quite energetic, theatrical and original. Imagine a mix of early Arch Enemy with recent In Flames and a bit of Butcher Babies. Patricia is also a great designer, she drew the album cover. For sure it will be a hell of a show, very looking forward!
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Alien Weaponry - Tu (2018) 9/10

Is Heavy Metal exhausted? Far from that, quite alive and healthy, with such new acts like Alien Weaponry! This quite young trio comes from New Zealand and plays an energetic and original Thrash Groove with a Maori tribal accent. There is no need for special effects, just plain incisive guitars and thunderous bass/drums, often breaked with melodic clean singing parts. Tu is the first album and what a debut it is. Heavily based on the Maori traditions and history, due to the members family roots, half the lyrics are in Te Reo, the Maori endangered language. This, together with tribal choruses and beats, gives an extra dose of originality, but never loosing simplicity and strength. And don't you dare to loose a show and to do Haka with the band!
   Alien Weaponry Facebook
   ALIEN WEAPONRY - Kai Tangata (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   ALIEN WEAPONRY - Ahi Ka (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Death Divine - The Oracle (2019) 8.5/10

Death Divine is a solo project from Daniel James, also playing in Devil May (Melodic Groove) and Shackled (Hard Rock). I didn't know any of these bands, when I first heard The Oracle. And what a good piece of Melodic Death it is! Meanwhile I checked his first EP and it's more metalcore for my tastes (trivia, it's his real blood on the cover!). But then, Daniel attended a Wintersun show and a whole new story started, well reflected in The Oracle. Starting with the awesome Blind, we are graced with 5 excellent symphonic Melodic Death songs plenty of exquisite solos, followed by a long beautiful piano instrumental. The album ends with Blind and The Oracle's Winter, instrumental versions. Well worth to be checked by all Melodic Death fans and deserved to be better known!
   Death Divine Facebook
   The Oracle's Winter

Glasya - Heaven's Demise (2019) 9.5/10

2019 is being an awesome year for Metal, also in this far corner of Europe. Glasya is a recent Symphonic Metal band, soon to be one of the most requested not only in Portugal but also outside our borders. Born in 2017 from ex-members of well known bands, and fronted by Eduarda Soeiro, a vocalist also in Nightdream (Nightwish tribute) and vocal teacher. Of course the band's main reference is Nightwish, incorporating keyboards symphonic and melodic elements with the guitars power and scales, following in perfection the excellent vocalizations. All 10 songs of Heaven's Demise are quite elaborated (just check the videos) and even we got a good instrumental closing the album. With such bands like Glasya, I'm proud to be a Portuguese Metalhead! And, fans of Nightwish and Symphonic Metal, check this band and may be surprised!
   Glasya Facebook
   Glasya - Heaven's Demise
   Glasya - Glasya Lyric Video

Aktarum - Ragnatroll (2018) 9/10

Trolls, trolls and more trolls. When speaking about these creatures, immediatly Aktarum comes to my mind ☺ By the end of last year, this Belgian Folk Metal band released their second album and the main subjet is, guess... trolls of course. Musically, this is a good album, an excellent evolution since the first album 8 years ago, varied, with some Black traces but mainly funny and addictive Folk Metal. Still unsigned, for sure they deserve a better recognition and be among the European top Folk bands. I never saw them alive, but hopefully I will someday, great party assured, and let's enter the Troll circle pit.
   Aktarum Facebook
   AKTARUM - Trolls In The Fog [Official Live Video]
   Aktarum - Party Troll [Lyric Video]

Nevalra - Conjure the Storm (2019) 8.5/10

If it wasn't by this relatively young band opening for Wolfheart & Carach Angren Euro tour, probably it would slide under my radar. With so many daily Metal releases, normally I don't check bands whose genre is Blackened Death Metal. But the show in Lisbon had a quite good sound and Nevalra's quality was revealed. Their first album was released a couple days before the tour starts, got it signed and here is the review. And it's a good debut, quite melodic, very technical and with a great guitar work. Scott Eames, the mastermind, composes, sings and plays guitars (also live guitars in Thy Antichrist). No slows or midtempo songs here, my favorite songs are the two videos below, quite adictive. Andres Vargas (Thy Antichrist vocals) sings on the first one. We are going for sure to hear much more about Scott and Nevalra.
   Nevalra Facebook
   NEVALRA - Conjure the Storm (Official Animated Video)
   NEVALRA - “It Dies In Vain” (Official Music Video)

Diviner - Realms of Time (2019) 9/10

Diviner is a Heavy Power Metal band from Greece that for sure is going to be one of the top Greek Metal bands. After the excellent Fallens Empire first album, in 2015, here is the second chapter. The immediate attention is caught by the powerfull vocals of Yiannis Papanikolaou, quite similar to Dio or Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, ex-Lords of Black). But the vocalist himself doesn't make the band and must be supported by efficient musicians and catchy melodies. And that's the case: good Heavy Metal, great guitar lines and good drums/bass support. Without many concerts abroad, this masterpiece should open doors all around the world. Let's hope Portugal or Spain could be included.
   Diviner Facebook
   Diviner - Heaven Falls [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
   Diviner - Beyond The Border [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]

Enchantya - On Light and Wrath (2019) 9/10

Enchantya are back, seven years after the excellent Dark Rising's debut. In between, so many changes happened, but Rute Fevereiro's strength and its love to Metal took Enchantya to a new level. Her versatile vocal abilities, including easy changes between growl, clean, soprano and spoken, are very well supported by excellent players. Musically speaking, we are grateful by a diverse Gothic Symphonic Metal, with excellent orchestrations and great melodies, where all guitars, keyboard, some violin and choirs are meticulously coordinated. Without neglecting the other songs, I may highlight the emotive Deception (love the vocals and solo) and the single The Beginning. In the Gothic genre, one of the best worldwide albums of the year, for sure, that will bring deserved notoriety to this Portuguese band.
   Enchantya Facebook
   Enchantya - The Beginning (Official music video)

Moonlight Haze - De Rerum Natura (2019) 8/10

Moonlight Haze is a new Symphonic Power Metal band founded by the talented and active Chiara Tricarico and Giulio Capone. For those who don't know Miss Tricarico, she also sings in RavenWord and Sound Storm and sung in Temperance and several other projects. The other members are also well known on the Italian metal scene (Elvenking, Teodasia, Overtures, etc). So, besides Chiara's excellent vocal skills, the main trademark of this new band, the music is quite well constructed, extremely melodic and varied. This first album includes guests from Epica, Mayan and Elvenking. Besides the two videos below, I particularly like Dark Corners of Myself (great intro). White smoke, we have band!
   Moonlight Haze Facebook
   MOONLIGHT HAZE - Ad Astra (Official Video)
   MOONLIGHT HAZE - The Butterfly Effect (Lyric Video)

Aether - In Embers (2019) 9.5/10

Brutal! Aether is a young Polish band that plays an epic Melodic Death Metal. I reviewed Tale of Fire, their first EP, in 2016, and then an album was highly desirable. So it is now and the promise was fulfilled! Besides the four songs from the EP, In Embers includes five more Melodic Death gems. The strong keyboard presence, the killer riffs, orchestrations and good vocals turns this into a great album. As guests we find members from Stratovarius, Aether Realm, Lux Perpetua and others. Together with Aephanemer, these are the new Wolves of Melodic Death. Complains, again? Sure, just 38 minutes ☺
   Aether Facebook
   Aether - Golden Eyed Fox

Speedemon - Hellcome (2019) 8/10

Do you want old school speed? Fast thrash? Aggressive vocals? Intense riffing? So you have to check this first album from Speedemon. After the promising First Blood EP, back in 2015 (reviewed here), the confirmation arrived now. This still independent Portuguese quartet releases an album that will please Metal fans. From the Ep only Road to Madness was promoted to the album. Besides Atrocity Divine and the homonymous song (both videos below), to note is the Riding Over Skulls instrumental. Not original but quite efficient and headbanging Metal.
   Speedemon Facebook

Grimgotts - Dragons of the Ages (2019) 9/10

Grimgotts is a recent band from UK that started in 2015 as a Harry Potter themed parody band but soon shifted to fantasy themes based on sea mosters and nautical subjects. Dragons of the Ages, the second album, is based on a war between dragons, sea creatures and men. The music is Symphonic Power Metal, frequently cinematographic and epic. Of course the first reference coming to mind is Alestorm, but to me, this is far superior and more varied, better vocals and catchier songs (and no silly rubber ducks). Other references may be Rhapsody, Atlas Pain and Mindfeeder (The Great Shadow). A curiosity, the bass player, Nelson Moreira, is Portuguese. A quite good and engaging album.
   Grimgotts Facebook
   Grimgotts - The King Under the Sea
   Grimgotts - The Last Dragon Warriors

Månegarm - Fornaldarsagor (2019) 9.5/10

Here it is a band that is getting better on each album. The Swedish trio delivers another monument of solid Viking Folk Metal, with some traces of Black still coming from their origins. The whole album is imponent, epic, plenty of choirs, great riffs and the recognizable Erik Grawsiö vocals, perfectly mixing growls and clean. All lyrics are in the native language. Besides the two songs on the videos below, I may highlight the epic Tvenne Drömmar and the emotive acoustic Dödskvädet. The awesome limited edition includes two bonus songs, one being the timeless (Don't need) Religion Motorhead cover. One of the best albums of the year!
   Månegarm Facebook
   MANEGARM - Ett sista farväl (Official Lyric Video) | Napalm Records
   MANEGARM - Hervors arv (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Munarheim - Willens & frei (2019) 9.5/10

Four years after the excellent Stolzes Wesen Mensch, here is the third full-length of one of the best Symphonic Folk Metal bands around. The nine members deliver a solid album with plenty of good Metal, pompous orchestrations, flutes, acoustic moments, whistles,... In two words: beautiful music. Being quite original, some slight influences of Equilibrium and Haggard may be traced. And Robse (Equilibrium vocals) is a guest on Vergebung. Of course an expected event is Munaheim's limited edition. Again a beautiful one, limited to 200, includes, besides the CD, a 56 page book, a download card for all five editions, a signed photo and 4 seeds of Ginko tree, all in a cloth bag. Another band in my have-to-see list!
   Munarheim Facebook
   Munarheim - Vergebung
   Munarheim - Dein ist der Tag

Meadows End - The Grand Antiquation (2019) 8.5/10

Meadows End comes from Sweden and they play on the same league as Insomnium or Omnium Gatherum, that is Melodic Death. While not so well known, this fourth album will provide for sure a rise in the rank. More symphonic than the above mentioned bands, The Grand Antiquation surprised me for the melodies and orchestrations, where the first videos (below), quite well chosen, are great MDM hymns. Also to be noticed is the inclusion of two songs in Swedish. I'm sure we are going to hear much more about this band!
   Meadows End Facebook
   MEADOWS END - Non-Dreaming Eye (Official Video)
   MEADOWS END - Svept i Sorgepläd (Official Video)

Haeredium - Ascension (2019) 9.5/10

Another excellent surprise. Haeredium comes from France and they play the most varied Folk Power Metal I've ever heard, and extremely melodic. This band, supporting Freedom Call, would be the most epic Happy Metal concert ever. After a quite good first album Aurora, in 2014, here is a new album, even better. The beautiful whistle intro previews what is coming, confirmed by the powerful Breathe. I just love he way they conjugate guitars and keyboards with millimetric inputs and crossed references to classics, french music, southern and others. The incorporation of flute, mandolin, piano, violin, ukulele adds extra layers of melody. Sébastian warm vocals are perfect, as well as backing vocals, both male and female. Another band that I'd love to see alive, party assured. Très bien, mes amis!
   Haeredium Facebook
   Haeredium - Breathe (Official Video)
   Haeredium - Merchant Of Lies (Official Lyric Video)

Amon Amarth - Berserker (2019) 9/10

Before the release, I was wandering if this could be the album of the year, as I'm a long time Amon Amarth fan. The unmistakable Melodic Death is present in all songs, the vikings theme is also there, but they played on the safe side, repeating the formula that lead them to one of the best Metal bands around. I feel drums are not as strong as they used to be (mix ou new drummer?). By lightening a bit the weight, and introducing subtle variations (piano, a few clean singing parts) Amon Amarth probably will even enlarge their fan base. Not as good as I expected but still quite entertaining and several songs will be great alive (for sure Crack the Sky), but I doubt that anyone will remain on the set list of a concert 10 years from now. Favorite song: Valkyria.
   Amon Amarth Facebook
   Amon Amarth - Crack the Sky
   Amon Amarth - Raven's Flight

Kull - Exile (2019) 8.5/10

Now there's a band that I haven't heard for a long time. Wait... It's not Bal-Sagoth! Or better, it's Bal-Sagoth with a new name and a new vocal. Some history: since The Chthonic Chronicles (2006) the band are on hold and Byron, the charismatic vocalist, is more interested in writing short fantasy tales. Then, the four remaining members, including the Maudling brothers, got Tarkan as vocals (Dyscaphia’s guitars), and Kull is born. The music? Epic Symphonic Black Metal like a refreshing Bal-Sagoth, with intricate and elaborated songs where keys and guitars alternate in supporting the excellent vocalizations, sung and spoken. Fave song is Hordes Ride. A quite good surprise and a cool album!
   Kull Facebook
   KULL - A Summoning to War (Official Audio)
   KULL - VOW OF THE EXILED (official track 2019)

Aegonia - The Forgotten Song (2019) 7.5/10

Aegonia comes from Bulgaria, a country that I love and that visited 4 or 5 times. They started in 2011 with the first album was released last April. The band genre can be confusing as they mix many influences: doom, gothic, atmospheric, melodic death, fantasy metal and folk. I may create a new one ☺: Melancholic Nature Metal. Of course the major influence is the rich Balkan folklore. The most remarkable aspect is the clean vocals and violin of Elitsa Stoyanova, adorned in parts by acoustic guitars, flute, riffs and some growls. The songs tell a fantasy story written by the front singer. Interesting and original project. I just wonder why the video single was not included in the album.
   Aegonia Facebook
   AEGONIA - The Maid And The Mountain [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
   The Stolen Song

Sechem - Disputes With My Ba (2018) 8.5/10

A Spanish Middle Eastern Folk Metal? Looks promising, let's check! Sechem comes from Madrid, was born in 2010 and this is the first full-length, after one EP in 2016. The music is quite original, a mix of Folk, Power and Symphonic, always with an oriental feeling, and the exoticism of a kind of oriental flute. Yossi Sassi (Orphaned Land's mastermind) is like the band's godfather. Sechem played the supporting act of the Yossi Sassi Band during the Roots and Roads European Tour (with two dates in Portugal, that I missed), and Disputes With My Ba was produced by Yossi Sassi, mixed and mastered in Israel. While being an homogeneous album, my fave song is the fast "An Epic Journey To Yam".
   Sechem Facebook
   Sechem - An Epic Journey To Yam (feat. Yossi Sassi)
   Sechem - Horus & Seth (Official Video)

Stormlord - Far (2019) 9.5/10

Wow, was my reaction when receiving the invitation to review Stormlord. For a long time I haven't heard about one of my favorite Italian bands, first album Supreme Art of War bought 20 years ago! The Romans play a proper type of extreme epic metal, quite symphonic, sometimes black, but always melodic and with perfect constructions. Beyond this, the omnipresent background orchestrations add a cinematographic effect, sometimes remembering Bal-Sagoth but better. Album mastered by Simone Mularoni (DGM). There are no weak songs, however my fave songs are the beautiful Far, Cimmeria (based on Conan the Barbarian), Invictus and Levante. Another band that I must see alive!
   Stormlord Facebook
   STORMLORD - Leviathan (Lyric Video)
   STORMLORD - Far (Lyric Video)

My Enchantment - Saligia (2019) 9/10

There are albums hard to born, but when they finally are released, BANG! Saligia, the second full-length, 14 years after the first one, started to be composed in 2015, with recordings begining in 2016. But the wait was worth it! The ambitious inspiration was Inferno's Dante and the album is composed by an intro, outro and, inbetween, seven songs each dedicated to a capital sin. With this new chapter, the band also changed its visual, now with theatrical white masks. The music is an elaborated symphonic Melodic Death, plenty of variations, where keyboards play an important role on the backgound layer. While an audition in sequence is mandatory, my fave song is Canto IV, dedicated to Hate. A Portuguese band and an album not to be missed!
   My Enchantment Facebook
   My Enchantment - Canto II Avaretia ( Official Audio Track) from the album Saligia
   My Enchantment - Canto VI Ira ( Official Audio Track) from new album Saligia

Dallian - Automata (2018) 9/10

What an excellent debut album! Dallian is a portuguese new band, that plays an original Progressive Symphonic Death Metal, unexpectadly matured attending to the youth of the band and their members age. The more than 60 minutes of Automata include ellaborated orchestrations, acoustic guitars reporting different cultures (awesome intro), different choirs, some fado, and many diverse surprising moments. As references we may notice in some short parts Septicflesh, Moonspell and even Orphaned Land. The music is completed with a steampunk aesthetics and lyrics related to the occult and human conflict. And the curiosity of the family members support on choirs and clean vocals. A new band with a bright future!
   Dallian Facebook
   Caixa Pensatória

Bloodbound - Rise of the Dragon Empire (2019) 9/10

The swedish masters of Fantasy Power Metal are back! If you mix Sabaton and Hammerfall, add some Freedom Call Happy Metal and the Dragons fantasy theme of Rhapsody you'll get a good idea about Bloodbound. Rise of the Dragon Empire, the 8th album of originals, maintains the Dragon's theme, getting some ideas from the magnificent Game of Thrones. Musically, we get eleven average-length themes, all good, plenty of melody and orchestrations, with good riffs adorning the efficient Patrik Selleby vocals. I just would prefer some more guitar in the mix. This is a huge miss in the bands that I have seen alive, hope to solve it soon!
   Bloodbound Facebook
   BLOODBOUND - Rise Of The Dragon Empire (2019) // Official Music Video // AFM Records
   BLOODBOUND - Slayer Of Kings (2019) // Official Audio Video // AFM Records

Buzzocracy - Metamorphosis (2019) 8.5/10

Here is an excellent surprise coming from Portugal! Buzzocracy was born in 2016 in Porto and Metamorphosis is the first opus. While described, and well, as Progressive Death Metal, this is technical as hell. Normally I'm more on the melodic side of Death, but hearing these addictive riffs and aggressive vocals with attention, for moments I forgot my work and started headbanging ☺. Being a conceptual album about a transformation story on old Egypt, each song has its own moments. Definitively one more recent band to follow. And great cover!
   Buzzocracy Facebook
   BUZZOCRACY - Bringer Of Despair (Live Metalpoint 04-12-2018)

Rhapsody Of Fire - The Eight Mountain (2019) 9.5/10

I followed the Dragonflame since the begining. The flame faded a little with the bad influence of Joey DeMaio, Luca Turilli's departure in 2011 and Fabio Lione in 2016. But then master Alex Staropoli was successful in reuniting an efficient lineup, now on full potential with this new album. Starting a new saga, the Nephilim Empire, all the ingredients that made them the best symphonic power metal band are there: pompous and epic, fast and emotive, great hymns and some good surprises (that speech on the long Tales of a Hero's Fate). Excellent performance from all members and awesome vocals. So happy they are playing in August in Portugal, a show that can't be missed!
   Rhapsody of Fire Facebook
   RHAPSODY OF FIRE – Rain Of Fury (2019) // Official Music Video // AFM Records
   RHAPSODY OF FIRE – Master Of Peace (2019) // Official Lyric Video // AFM Records

Antologi - Berjuang (2018) 7.5/10

With Internet there are no boundaries for Metal knowledge! And it's time to go to Far East, to Singapore, also known as a fine country (double meaning intended ☺). While not being on the Metal radar, from Singapore I may recall Across The Abyss or Coup The Grace. And Antologi now belongs to my country references. Despite existing since 2009, Berjuang is the second album. Playing a mix of Thrash and Technical Death, some songs in english others in malay, the result is a varied short 30 minutes album, but with many headbanging moments, like my favorite Thrashing in Chaos. Check and be surprised!
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Invictus - Burst the Curse (ep 2019) 8/10

With such young bands like Invictus, Metal is quite healthy and alive! Invictus started in 2017, a five piece from Germany that gathers the main influence on the golden age of german speed metal. Being a recent band does not mean that their members have no experience, three of them are also on Avator. This EP is the first record of the band and not much to say with only 3 songs and 11 minutes, the title song lasting less than 3 minutes. Anyway this is quite promising, reminding me the mighty Angel Dust, with good riffs and variations, and adequate vocals. For sure a band to follow and let's wait for the first full-length.
   Invictus Facebook
   Burst the Curse

Black Therapy - Echoes Of Dying Memories (2019) 8.5/10

After an excellent In the Embrace of Sorrow, I Smile, from 2016, I was waiting with anticipation this new work. Black Therapy hails from Rome, started in 2009, with the first album released in 2013. Echoes of Dying Memories is the third album and confirms Black Therapy as one of the best Italian Melo Death bands. The ingredients that we love in Melodic Death are all there: emotion, melodies, variations, great riffs, a good harsh vocals, good production and mixing, and 45 minutes of great music. Asim Searah (Wintersun) gave a contribution on Scars song. If you like Insomnium, you have to check this band, for instance Dreaming (one of the videos below). They deserve for sure to be better known!
   Black Therapy Facebook
   BLACK THERAPY - Dreaming (Official Music Video)
   BLACK THERAPY - Phoenix Rising (Official LYRIC VIDEO )

Rotting Christ - The Heretics (2019) 9/10

13 is only the bad luck number for some, not for these Metal Greek gods with this 13th full-length release. Distant are the years of the Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, my first contact with this veteran band. The music is still Melodic Black but impregnated of symphonic, gothic and classic moments, even some folk. The result is imponent and epic, each of the 10 songs are different, while maintaining the sick Rotting riffs, Sakis vocals and an efficient almost martial drums sound. The album lyrics goes around the heretic subject often including many literature citations and spoken parts. Fave songs are the catchy Heaven and Hell and Fire and The Voice of the Universe, with some arabic parts. Quite good result, looking forward to see the band again, they will embark on tour with Moonspell.
   Rotting Christ Facebook
   Rotting Christ - Fire, God and Fear (Official Lyric Video)
   Rotting Christ-Dies Irae (Official Lyric Video)

Wolfheart - Constellation of the Black Light (2018) 9/10

This week I had the great news that Wolfheart is coming back to Portugal, with Carach Angren, for two shows in June. One and half year after the excellent Tyhjyys (reviewed here), a new proof of Tuomas Saukkonen prolific talent is presented. And we get what it is expected: great midtempo cold Melodic Death with some doom. The album starts with a long 10 minute song, including a three minute almost acoustic intro, well followed by six more good songs, with no rest for the weak! The Saw, one of the official videos and my preferred, is the perfect example of what a Melodic Death song should include. A must to see this year!
   Wolfheart Facebook
   WOLFHEART - The Saw (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   WOLFHEART - Everlasting Fall | Napalm Records

Týr - Hel (2019) 9/10

Finally, a new opus from the most known Viking (and Metal) ambassadors of the Faroe Islands, 6 years after the quite good Valkyrja. Týr is a safe bet band that we can pre-order a new album without hearing a song. And I was not disappointed, on the contrary. A general audition indicates a heavier sound, less folk and an extremely elaborated sound, mixing prog, power and melo death, of course on top the distinctive vocals of Heri Joensen. Among the 13 varied songs, all good, 5 are based on traditional nordic songs, two are sung in Faroese, some melo death rhythms on Gates of Hel, the fast Garmr, the happy hit Far from the Worries of the World (it will be insane played alive) or the surprising Empire of the North. Don't miss Týr on tour, Portugal included at Vagos Metal Fest in August!
   Týr Facebook
   TÝR "Sunset Shore" (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   TÝR "Ragnars Kvæði" (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Atlas Pain - Tales of a Pathfinder (2019) 10/10

Two year after the excellent What The Oak Left, and less than one year after their unforgettable show in Portugal (a wall of death at 04.00 am?!), here is a new album of this amazing Italian band. This album, candidate to one of the best in 2019, will for sure bring a large due recognition. The concept is a 1900's steampunk fair show that takes us into strange lands and cultures. While with some layers related to the place of each song, the main genre is a unique cinematographic epic Folk Metal, where some initial Equilibrium and Wintersun influences are now worked on a quite proper and unmistakable style. So, sit down, fasten yous seatbelts and fly around the world on the wings of Tales of a Pathfinder! And superior cover!
   Atlas Pain Facebook
   ATLAS PAIN - The Moving Empire (Lyric Video)
   Kia Kaha

Gates Of Paris - Gates Of Paris (2018) 9/10

Even in Metal, from time to time there are some surprising refreshing projects. This one was created by Rémi Carrairou, guitar and songwriter from Kerion, one of the best Power Metal bands in France. As the name suggests, this project is dedicated to Paris and all songs are based or have specific references to french musics, episodes or other well known Parisian icons (belle epoque, Edith Piaf, cabaret, can can, and so on). Between the classical intro and outro, 10 more songs are presented, all different but all could be classified as symphonic Power Metal. The addition of several excerpts, spoken parts in French, accordion, acoustics, organ, violin and other instruments delivers the original Parisian accent. Raphael Dantas, an excellent vocals, fits perfectly in the project. Also to be noticed several vocal and guitar guests (like Kerion's Flora). The result is excellent! Looking forward to hear a second chapter of Parisian history!
   Gates of Paris Facebook
   Gates Of Paris - The Cabaret
   Gates Of Paris Teaser (Remch Kerion)

Frozen Crown - Crowned In Frost (2019) 9/10

In early 2018 I reviewed Frozen Crown's first album, one of the best newcomers of the year, and, one year after, a new album is going to be released. Meanwhile they took the Italian and European Power Metal scene by storm and their first video, "King", got more than 1.5 million views. Since the first audition on that album, I have foreseen that, with dedication, this band had all the ingredients to be great. And the confirmation is here with Crowned In Frost. Do not be fooled by the delicate and beautiful ladies: Giada is becoming one of the strongest female vocals and Thalia's guitar playing is excellent, despite being only 18 years old. This, together with great songs written by mastermind Federico, who also recorded all guitars and keyboards, make this an outstanding and consistent album. And the best news is that they are playing in Portugal at Milagre Metaleiro, 23rd-24th August ☺
   Frozen Crown Facebook
   FROZEN CROWN - Neverending (Official Video)
   FROZEN CROWN - Kings (Official Video) [from previous album]

Kambrium - Dawn of the Five Suns (2018) 9/10

Two year after the excellent The Elder's Realm, here is the fourth album of this German band that allies a good Melodic Death with Symphonic Power. The symphonic parts are pulled by the keys and plenty of choirs, while harsh vocals emphasize the death parts, clean vocals pull some epic power and riffs alternate between power and melodic death. Anyway the mix is efficient and the result is great. The album concept is about the Aztec and Mayan gods, which leads to the inclusion of some tribal sounds and spoken parts. On the 60 minutes of this work, even if there is no powerful track as the Shattered Illusions hit from the previous album (but some parts approach, thus maintaining the band's brand), headbanging is mandatory. Anyone to bring these Brothers to Portugal? I'd love to see them alive!
   Kambrium Facebook

Various Artists - Nobilis Metallum, Two Sides of Lusitanian Heaviness (compilation 2018) --/--

Normally I don't review compilations, this is an exception because it relates to portuguese bands, most unknown, and... it's free! But no rating. The mentor is my friend Dico (Eduardo José Almeida), long-time Metal fan (almost as long as me ☺), journalist, drummer on several historical bands, author of the sold-out book about the Portuguese Metal History, etc. This compilation is divided into 2 volumes, the first dedicated to Heavy & Melodic bands, and the second to Obscure & Extreme bands. On the first CD, with the exception of Dogma (reviewed some time ago) and Ledderplain, the others didn't attract me, covering a wide spectrum sometimes out of Metal. Now the second CD is much stronger (mainly Death and Black), nice to hear Morbith Death after a long time, the inclusion of Sanctus Nosferatu and Yar, and found other good bands. The compilation objective is fulfilled! If you want to know a wide range on the Lusitanian Metal scene, go ahead and download both CDs! Congratulations Dico!
   Dico Facebook
   CD 1 download (Heavy & Melodic)
   CD 2 download (Obscure & Extreme)

Pagan Reign - Once Again (2018) 9.5/10

One excellent surprise by the end of 2018, that only now got my attention. Pagan Reign is a Russian band that started in 1997, released 5 albums but then hibernated for 12 years and just returned with this masterpiece. The style is an epic melodic Pagan Folk Metal with traces of atmospheric Black, and since the first acoustic to the last notes, it's a parade of Metal emotions. The slavic pagan music is interleaved many times with beautiful folk acoustic guitar, mandolin and flute. And impossible for me to highlight songs, it's to hear from begining to end and repeat. Fans of Arkona or Nokturnal Mortum must check this album, it will surpass your expectations. Looking forward for what they are preparing for the current year.
   Pagan Reign Facebook
   Pagan Reign — Reborn
   Pagan Reign — «Once Again» 2018 full album

Endolith - Chicxulub (2019) 7.5/10

By curiosity, an endolith is an organism that lives inside rocks. My first contact with this norwegian band, still thinking how to classify them. The closest may be progressive extreme Metal but incorporating many other elements like groove, symphonic, thrash, electronic and some clean singing. Chicxulub, subtitled The Fossil Record, is the second album from this three members project and is a concept album based on the extinction of dinosaurs, and how mankind is mirroring the situation with inevitable consequences. While not being an Extreme Metal expert, I may find some Meshuggah influences. But definitively it is a surprising album, demonstrating that Metal has no well defined boundaries. To be noticed the inclusion of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and guests on timpani and solo viola.
   Endolith Facebook
   Endolith - Ichthys (official video)
   Endolith - Bloodfiends (official video)

Hell's Guardian - As Above So Below (2018) 8.5/10

From the Italian Metal Armada, here is another good band. Born in 2009, this lombardian quartet released the first album in 2014, followed by an EP in 2015. As Above So Below is the second album and the epic melodic death metal path is maintained with some progressive winking to Amorphis. The addition of some power touches is probably due to the mixing and mastering of Michele Guaitoli (Temperance and Vision of Atlantis). And glad to notice my friend Samuele Faulisi (Atlas Pain) credited for orchestrations. A good album, varied, no weak songs, not exceptional, but quite enjoyable and deserved to be checked.
   Hell's Guardian Facebook

Triboulet - Quest for Hope (2018) 7/10

Chilean Metal is above average, with good bands and some tradition in Heavy Power Metal. Born in 2012, Triboulet released an EP in 2012 and the first album, The March of the Fallen, in 2016. At that time I got a good impression, a good Heavy Power album. At the end of 2018 Quest for Hope was released. This second album tells the story of a group of humans that flew to a new planet leaving behind a very damaged Earth. Musically, this is more experimental, following a progressive path, still melodic, but almost without power. Instrumentally, it is irreproachable, and the new vocalist suits the music. Having to select a song I would choose the fastest one, The Day The Earth Stood Still. Fans of Melodic Progressive Metal should check this one!
   Triboulet Facebook
   Triboulet - New Horizon (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)

Aexylium - Tales From This Land (2018) 8.5/10

What an excellent debut. Tales From This Land is the first album from this Italian band that was born in 2014. The music is a good Folk Metal, where keyboards, violins, bagpipes, flutes, are pushed by some power delivered by guitars, bass and drums. The quality reflects the homogeneous eight members lineup (just changed violin player since their start) and the care put in each song. If you like Elvenking, Eluveitie and Alestorm you will find in this album several appealing songs, but also several good less influenced songs with a more personal touch. But I would appreciate lesser influences of Alestorm in Black Flag and Radagast And no fill-in songs, that's great. Just one complain, only 41 minutes. Another band to add to the must-see list!
   Aexylium Facebook
   AEXYLIUM - Tales From Nowhere (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   AEXYLIUM - Revive The Village (Studio Diary Video)

Aephanemer - Prokopton (2019) 10/10

Still in the early days of 2019, and already hearing the best album of the year? This will be another awesome year for what is coming, but Aephanemer questionless takes the lead. Starting where the first album Mement Mori left, Prokopton even surpasses its predecessor with 8 of the most epic melodic death metal hymns ever done. Of course the typical Aephanemer's sound is present with the extremely melodic and permanent riffing, a good rhythm section, and, on top, the each time better Marion's vocals. Pointing out songs it's difficult, maybe what surprised me: my favorite Snowblind (some classical music feeling), the instrumental At Eternity's Gate (folk base) and the long epic If I should Dye. To help release such a masterpiece it's not strange the work of Dan Swano (mixing) and Mika Jussila (mastering). Excellent artwork of Niklas Sundin (Dark Tranquillity). Aephanemer should soon be recognized as one of the top Melodic Death Metal bands around. Be careful with permanent headbanging!
   Aephanemer Facebook
   AEPHANEMER - Dissonance Within (OFFICIAL TRACK)

Lahmia - Resilience (2019) 9/10

Now that's a band that I haven't heard for a long time. The first album, Into the Abyss, back in 2012, left excellent memories. And in early 2019, here it is the second album, Resilience, named after some difficulties the band felt after the release of the first album. And so glad they didn't ended up. The music is still an appealing Melodic Death with plenty of guitar riffs, melody and the excellent Francesco's vocals. Probably this the Italian band that best follows the so-called Gothenburg sound, and in many parts, also due to the vocals, remind the mighty Amon Amarth. Ah, and mastered at Finnvox Studios by Mikka Jussila (Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, and many others). One of the songs, The Age of Treason, is an almost 12 minute song, quite interesting. Excellent album!
   Lahmia Facebook
   LAHMIA - Her Frantic Call (Lyric Video)

Furor Gallico - Dusk Of The Ages (2019) 7.5/10

Born in 2007, Furor Gallico is one of the most popular and solicited bands of the genre Folk Death Metal in Italy. Dusk of the Ages is their third album. The music is a blend between Melodic Death and Celtic Folk. Besides the "Beauty and the Beast" vocals of Davide (male, growl and scream) and Valentina Pucci (guest female clean vocals), many times in harmony, the trademark of the band is the inclusion of Becky's powerful celtic harp. All songs are well constructed and appealing, some including violin, acoustic guitar and tin whistle. Favorite songs: the powerful The Phoenix and The Gates of Annwn, the magic Canto D'Inverno, the instrumental The Sound of Infinity and the varied Dusk of the Ages (nice solo and harp outro). Well done, I do hope to see the band alive someday.
   Furor Gallico Facebook
   FUROR GALLICO - The Phoenix (Lyric Video)

Desdemonia - Anguish (2018) 7.5/10

Despite existing since 1994 and this being their 4th album, Desdemonia is new to me. They come from the small country of Luxembourg (by the way nice country and the only Grand Duchy in the world) and what caught my eye on this was the name of Fredrick Norström (At the Gates, Arch Enemy, Hammerfall, Opeth, etc) in mixing and mastering. The genre is more than just Death Metal (Metal Encyclopedia) and most of the time I would categorize this on Melodic Death, but with some quite technical parts and groove. The less melodic songs are not too appealing to me, but most are reasonable good. Guitars and vocals on some songs, like Anguish, have notorious Amon Amarth influences (kuddos). A good album, deserved to play several times.
   Desdemonia Facebook
   Desdemonia - Anguish (official video)
   Desdemonia - Endless Fight (Official Music Video)

Tomorrow's Outlook - A Voice Unheard (2018) 9/10

The recipe for a great album? Join three passionate and talented friends, write a dozen kick-ass tunes, complete lineup with several guests and... bam! A Voice Unheard is the second album from this Norwegian trio (Trond is listed as manager and co-writer) and, from the beginning to the end, true Heavy Metal happens. I would say the mix is 2/3 Iron Maiden and 1/3 Judas Priest, with some drama added, related to the album concept story about apocalypse. What about the guests? Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear, etc) is the singer in half the songs, Tony Johannessen (Thunderbolt) sings in 5 and Scott Oliva (Reverence, etc) in 1. The last two songs are covers from Bruce Dickinson and Aria (the most know Metal Russian band) with the participation of Vitaly and Maxim (Aria). Roy Z mixed the album. This a band that needs to complete the lineup and embark on a massive tour, for sure successful!
   Tomorrow's Outlook Facebook
   Tomorrow's Outlook - A Voice Unheard
   Tomorrow's Outlook - Nothing Shall Remain (Official Lyric Video)

Sojourner - The Shadowed Road (2018) 9.5/10

Some weeks ago I reviewed Sojourner's first album Empires of Ash. Meanwhile, this international band, with members from all around the world, signed a deal with Napalm Records, my favorite record company. It's now time to review their last opus. The cover art, in the same line of the previous album, induces us not to expect a path change (thanks!). On a general evaluation, the album reveals a more mature approach, the tin whistle gains evidence as well as the angelical vocals of Chloe Bray. To the whole improvement it's not strange Dan Swano's mastering. Of course it's still Epic Atmospheric Black Metal with an highlands accent, plenty of beautiful moments. One of the best albums of 2018, for sure, and now I'm suffering from high doses of anxiety to their first concert in Portugal, 23-24 August. Just one complain, the 51 minute album duration flew too fast.
   Sojourner Facebook
   Sojourner - Titan
   Sojourner - Ode to the Sovereign (North of the Wall & Dark Troll Live Reel)

Ария - Проклятье морей [Aria - Curse Of The Seas] (2018) 8.5/10

Formed in 1985, Aria is considered by far the main Heavy Metal act in Russia. One curiosity about this band is that the lyrics are written mainly by poets, and they always sing in Russian. Due to this, the public target are mainly the russian fans. Outside the borders, they are not so popular despite their undeniable quality. This Curse Of The Seas is the 13th album of originals, includes 11 catchy songs along 75 minutes and was mixed by Roy Z. The music could be side by side with the best from recent Iron Maiden or Accept, just listen to the 1st (Race for Glory) or 6th (It All Starts Where the Night Ends) songs, but also some delicious progressive pieces will surprise. Mikhail Zhitnyakov does a pretty decent job on vocals. To be checked by all Metal fans, and if not used to singing in russian, give it a try.
   Aria Facebook
   Ария - От Заката до Рассвета (2018)

Orion's Reign - Scores of War (2018) 8.5/10

Mediterranian sea not only saw the birth of great civilizations, also has some importance in the European Power Metal Scene. These Greek brothers started in 2005 and released the first album, Nuclear Winter in 2008 (rereleased as deluxe limited edition in 2010). Scores of War is the second album and includes 57 minutes of epic symphonic Power Metal. Besides some Rhapsody influences, several distinguished guests add diversity to some songs (Tim "Ripper" Owens, Mark Boals, Minniva, Bob Katsionis). All songs are quite well played and sung, I may highlight the fast symphonics Elder Blood or Warrior's Pride, the folkish An Adventure Song, the epic Nostros (with violin and the crystal clear Minniva vocals) and the manowarish Ride to War. A good album and another band to deserve better recognition!
   Orion's Reign Facebook
   ORION'S REIGN & MINNIVA - Nostos (2018) // Official Video
   ORION'S REIGN ft TIM RIPPER OWENS - Together We March (2018) // Official Video

Ash of Ashes - Down The White Waters (2018) 9/10

This new band is a project from Skaldir, aka Markus Skroch, ex-Hel, owner of the Kalthallen Studios in Germany, also with an important role in recording, mixing and mastering many bands, like Myrkgrav. Together with Morten B., they based the band's sound and lyrics on nordic influences and legends. The promo says the genre is Epic Skaldic Metal, basically it is Epic Pagan Metal with Viking accent, reminding in some parts Bathory or Falkenbach. The result is quite good, all nine songs plus outro flow free with great melodic and intense moments, including an instrumental, Springlar, adapted from a folk song. The last four songs relate the story of Wayland, an heroic legend. Definitively a project to follow!
   Ash of Ashes Facebook
   Ash Of Ashes Down The White Waters

Sojourner - Empires of Ash (2016) 9/10

Now this is an international project, with members living in New Zealand, Sweden and Italy, also with strong connections to Scotland, and... long life Internet. Sojourner was born in 2015, and just one year after, this album was released. And what a start! The music is an exquisite epic atmospheric black metal with plenty of folk moments, sharing some afinities with Saor or Summoning. The density of riffing guitars and the delicacy of the tin whistle among some keys work well on all songs, some quite long, but never boring. On vocals also we get a quite good "beauty and the beast" combination. It's not normal for me to review older albums, but... surprisingly the band will be gathered and is coming to play in Portugal next August. The 2018 album review will follow soon on these pages.
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   Sojourner - Heritage of the Natural Realm
   Sojourner - Trails of the Earth (2016)

Cor Scorpii - Ruin (2018) 9.5/10

One band that made an impression on me was Windir (one of the patches in my vest) and Valfar's tragic death was a shock. But their music stays forever. And that very particular music genre, Sognametal, named from the norwegian fjord region, is well and alive. One of the bands that better honors Windir's legacy is Cor Scorpii, that includes Gaute Refsnes, keyboards on the last two Windir's albums. Ruin is Cor Scorpii's second album, ten years after the first one, and it's a masterpiece of Melodic Black Metal with some folk, driven a great guitar work, impressive drums and bass lines, extremelly melodic keyboard pieces and beautiful songs. Thomas vocals fit quite well but leaving the focus on the music. An album indispensable for Windir fans and excellent to iniciate those who never heard them. And thanks to the Bergen Kommune for partly funding this album. More city councils should follow this!
   Cor Scorpii Facebook
   Cor Scorpii - Skuggevandrar (Official Audio)
   Cor Scorpii - Fotefar [New Song] 2018

Neros Benedictios - Ermo (2018) 8.5/10

Neros Benedictios is a 15 years old four members Melodic Black Band from Recife, Brazil. Despite the age, and after a 36 minute demo in 2005, only in March 2018 this first album was digitally released. Some months after, a nice digipack with beautiful artwork was released. That's great that this band didn't give up and gained experience by the years. The music is a varied Black Metal, the opposite from raw, fast and plenty of changes, including some acoustic breaks. But acoustics are not limited to some inserts, the album includes three complete acoustic songs that fit well on the dense sequence. All songs have something special, I may point Carcosa with a bit of everything. Even those who don't like Black Metal should give this a listen and be surprised.
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   Neros Benedictios - Ermo [Official Full Album] 2018

Brainstorm - Midnight Ghost (2018) 9/10

Here it is a brand new album from one of the most regular bands in Power Metal. The Germans released this 12th album of originals and the first impression is that the thematic of the previous album, Scary Creatures, is maintained. As songs started to spin, the top melodic power music supported by great riffs and the unmistakable Andy B. Franck vocals, are present. Midnight Ghost was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by no other than Sebastian "Seeb" Levermann (Orden Ogan) and the result is great. Of course some could argue that the band applies the same safe formula, but those who like strong and melodic Power Metal don't care. And, in my oppinion, this is the best Brainstorm album ever, all songs are great. However my fave is Jeanne Boulet (1764). A final word to the awesome limited box edition with a signed photo and an old style alarm clock.
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   BRAINSTORM - When Pain Becomes Real (2018) // Official Music Video
   BRAINSTORM - Ravenous Minds (2018) // Official Video

Kylfingar - Világok Határán (2018) 9/10

Another good surprise discovered on Internet. Kylfingar is a Hungarian band that play a mix of Viking Folk Metal with nordic influences. The name comes from a scandinavian tribe that raided Eastern Europe, including Hungary, around the 10th century. The band founders started by learning covers of their favorite bands, Ensiferum, Finntroll, Equilibrium and others, but soon advanced for their own material, of course influenced by those bands. Világok Határán is the second album, meaning "At the Border of Worlds", and it's 56 minutes of quite good Viking Folk Melodic Metal, sung in Hungarian, with great and epic melodies. Besides the efficient guitars, bass and drums, the violin and keyboards define the folk, celtic and ambient parts. Definitively a band to be followed by those who like Ensiferum and Finntroll!
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   KYLFINGAR - Örök Vadászat (Official Lyric Video)
   KYLFINGAR - Jötünheim Kürtjei (Official Lyric Video)

Kalidia - The Frozen Throne (2018) 9/10

This review is special to me: Nicoletta Rosellini is one of my first Facebook friends and the first interview to the reborn Sounds from Apocalypse, back in 2014, was Kalidia's (here). 4 years after the first album, the excellent Lies' Device (second review on the site), here is finally The Frozen Throne. The music is still melodic Power Metal with some symphonic and few gothic details, but evolved in terms of composition and sound. The crystal vocals of Nicoletta, one of the best Female vocals around (also with Walk in Darkness and Overtures, among many other collaborations), superbly captured, is highlighted by the excellent production and mix by Lars Rettkowitz (Freedom Call). All instruments, as well as several symphonic tracks, give a solid consistency and diversity to the songs. This album deserves a huge tour, I hope that Portugal could be included!
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   Kalidia - Frozen Throne [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

Skálmöld - Sorgir (2018) 10/10

Here is the expected return of the mighty Skálmöld, one of my top bands. Coming from the cold and spectacular Iceland, the sextet play an addictive Viking Folk Metal, sung in local language. Two years after the Vögguvísur Yggdrasils release (with a humble contribution of this yours), Sorgir is a darker album, divided in two parts. The first four songs are stories of death and tragedy, while the next four are the same stories but from the perspective of the ghosts that caused the tragedies. The bonus track is the excellent Höndin sem veggina klórar, included in the split with Omnium Gatherum. Musically speaking, the album is impeccable, with great melodies, solos and harmonies, different vocal contributions. Favorite songs? Hard to mention, probably Mara and the two on video. Looking forward to meet the band again next December!
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   SKÁLMÖLD - Sverðið (Official Lyric Video) | Napalm Records
   SKÁLMÖLD - Móri (Official Lyric Video) | Napalm Records

Order to Ruin - Let The Mortals Bleed (2018) 8/10

An album that starts with a song named Cheers to the Apocalypse must be reviewed here ☺ Earlier this year I reviewed Return to Ceyrior VII and now, eight months later, a new album was released. During this short period, they changed vocals and hired a bass player. But the band permanent lineup is still Denis and Simon, guitars. And what to expect from this proactive German band? Good Melodic Death from start to end, faithful to the sound of Gothenburg, but with some thrash and power elements, like the beat on Under the Veil of Obscurity. The melody is always present and supported by the twin guitars, well shown on the title album song or Neo's Fear. Nice work! And maybe by the middle of next year we'll have another album ☺
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   Order to Ruin - Neo´s Fear

Elvenstorm - The Conjuring (2018) 9/10

Here is a quite underrated female fronted band, coming from France and existing for 10 years. The style is a mix between True Heavy Metal and old school Speed Metal. The Conjuring is the 3rd album and, after an intro that names the album, no merci for the weak and speed ahead. All songs are fast with emphasis on an excellent guitar work and pounding drums. Laura Lombard's vocals, with a tone similar to Crystal Viper's Marta Gabriel, in some parts seem a bit in effort, should have been better mixed. I particularly like the sequence starting with the superb instumental Stellar Descension, the hymn Evil's Dawn and Cross of Damnation, very Running Wild. The Forces of True Metal are conjured! Enjoy!
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   ELVENSTORM - Devil Within' (Full Song)
   Stellar Descension

Asterism - Ignition (2018) 8.5/10

Another great surprise provided by internet. Asterism is a young japanese band, and really young: Hal-Ca, the guitar lady, is only 15 yo, Miyu, the bass player, is 16 yo and Mio, the drummer, is 18 yo. They met in 2014 at The 8th Music Revolution and the bond was made, united by Metal. Ignition is the first anticipated album, after two EPs. The music is neo-classical Heavy Metal, 99% instrumental, where Miss Hal-Ca shreds like a guitar hero (and the reader must see her amazing passion on video), no strange her idol is Akira Takasaki (Loudness). Despite the age, Miyu and Mio are also excellent players. Besides great own written songs, the album includes two nice covers: Stand Up and Shout (Dio) and Helter Skelter (Beatles), and the special first edition is accompanied by a 38 minutes DVD with all clips, live songs and studio report. Definitely a band with a promising long career!
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   ASTERISM Rising Moon MV (AL “The Session Vol.2)

Doro - Forever Warriors, Forever United (2018) 6/10

The so-called Metal Queen is back with its 13th album of originals and six years after the last one, but meanwhile a bunch of compilations, lives, singles have been feeding the lady's account. Long time ago, I belonged to the Warlock fan club, but after the first solo albums of Miss Doro Pesch I lost interest. Anyway, for this new ambitious double album let's give it a try. The usual recipe is here used to exhaustion: catchy heard-this-before refrains, banal repetitive lyrics, super-production, several ballads, some German... I couldn't find a theme that get my attention. Not even Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg retribution on "If I Can't Have You - No One Will" or the Motorhead cover "Lost In The Ozone" save this. Better hear the four Warlock albums!
   Doro Facebook
   DORO - All For Metal (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Moonshade - Sun Dethroned (2018) 9.5/10

Finally! Here is the first album of this Melodic Death Portuguese band. I'm following Moonshade since the excellent Dream | Oblivion EP, back in 2014, and, when meeting the guys, the question was always about the album release. And the wait proved to be worth it, Sun Dethroned is one of the best Melo Death albums of the year, so far. Everything here shows an extreme care: the concept and lyrics, the guitar work with many catchy riffs, the orchestrations filling perfectly the music, Ricardo's vocals... I would dare to say that here Dark Tranquillity meets Aephanemer and Wintersun. All songs are great, with an identifiable sound but plenty of subtle details and surprises. I foresee a huge success for Moonshade. Portugal is not only Moonspell (good sentence borrowed from Los Mejores Rock Magazine), another band, by coincidence whose name also starts by Moon, is just around the corner.
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   Moonshade - The Flames that Forged Us (Lyric Video)

Omnium Gatherum - The Burning Cold (2018) 9/10

Grey Havens, the previous album from 2016, is a reasonable piece of Finnish Melodic Death but nothing overwhelming. However, this new album is a strong improvement and guides Omnium Gatherum to the top of the Gothenburg sound. Everything in the album is planned in detail, since the cover art to each of the songs. Quite interesting is the fact that this work's name is the combination of the first song, a good instrumental, and the last song, a midtempo that concludes the album and recovers the opening riffs. The second song, the excellent Gods Go First, immediatly defines the album and it will be mandatory in any show setlist, well seconded by the fast Refining Fire. Most of the songs are quite good, but I want to highlight Be The Sky, love the riffs, melody and the acoustic interlude. Jukka Pelkonen vocals have the perfect intensity acording to the songs. A must for every Melo Death fan. I'd love to see these guys alive again!
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Powerwolf - The Sacrament Of Sin (2018) 10/10

Three years after Blessed and Possessed has taken the Metal World by storm, and three shows attended, I was with great expectations on the following, if the German Wolves could maintain or surpass the previous album. And success! The Sacrament of Sin maintains their unique brand of Epic Symphonic Power Metal sound, with no distinct bass, the operatic vocals of Attila Dorn, the keyboard orchestrations, the guitar duels, and the collection of excellent no-more-than-4-minutes contagious hymns. But it also includes some new elements, like the celtic touch on Incense and Iron, the Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone slow (well sung, Attila, and great solo) or the unique vibe of Stossgebet. This album, supported by the mix of churches, sex and wolves image and concept, has everything to maintain Powerwolf on the route to be one of the best Heavy Metal acts around. Also looking forward to see this tour! Metal is Religion!
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   POWERWOLF - Fire & Forgive (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Amorphis - Queen Of Time (2018) 9/10

I followed Amorphis almost since the fine doom death time with The Karelian Isthmus and the superb Tales from the Thousand Lakes. Between Tuonela and Circle I didn't pay too much attention to these Finns. But Under The Red Cloud got my attention again by its imagination and quality. The first time I heard Queen of Time, wow, what a blast! Since the first notes of the excellent The Bee to the last accords of Pyres on the Coast, everything flows smoothly without compromising with subgenres and being quite diverse. And all this without loosing the characteristic Amorphis sound with harsh and clean vocals, keyboard melodies and exquisite solos. Some loose remarks: the participation of Anneke van Giersbergen in Among the Stars, the Hotel California intro of The Golden Elk and the cinematic We Accursed. I do hope to see the band alive on this tour!
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Gwydion - Thirteen (2018) 9.5/10

Thanks Asgard! Gwydion are back, five years after suspending activity. The most known Folk Viking Metal Portuguese band just released Thirteen, their fourth album, and the scandinavian-influenced hordes are gathered again! Heathen (intro) away, 793 is the perfect drums power battle hymn, followed by two of the best album songs, the epic Balverk Warfare and the full of details folkish Strength Remains. And the remaining songs are also quite good, particularly Shield Maiden's Cry (Skálmöld meets Ensiferum?) and the new band's hymn Thirteen to sing and go into circle pits. Kaveirinha's lead guitar and Daniel's keyboards define the melodies, well supported by the other guitar and a powerful bass and drums work. Vocalizations, main and chorus, are epic as Odin would command. And party assured in all gigs!
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   Gwydion - Thirteen Days - Lyric Video

Cryonic Temple - Deliverance (2018) 7/10

Cryonic Temple is around since 1996, released the first album in 2002, but never got the stardom of other Swedish Power Metal acts, like HammerFall or Sabaton. After a 9 years hiatus they returned last year with Into The Glorius Battle, interesting but nothing special. On 20th July here comes their sixth album, Deliverance. With a pompous intro, the second song starts with a great acoustic moment and one of the best album songs, Rise Eternally Beyond, very Helloweenish. Songs make a mix between some old school Heavy Metal (like the Priest influence on the title theme) and soft Power Metal with plenty of keyboards on the background. The weakest part to me are the vocals, not transmitting enough energy.
   Cryonic Temple Facebook
   CRYONIC TEMPLE - End Of Days (Lyric Video)

Shylmagoghnar - Transience (2018) 10/10

When beauty comes to music! One of the most thrilling bands around, whose virtuosity is proportional to the difficulty in spelling its name! Shylmagoghnar is a two "blood brothers" project from the Netherlands, they play a sort of Progressive Melodic Death with some Black roots. Their first album, Emergence, independent, got more than 1.7 billion views on Youtube and it was natural the interest of record companies (nice move, Napalm Records). Transience is the second opus, four years after the first album, and it's 73 minutes of delight with a perfect blend of exquisite guitar work with all instruments and vocals, also including three epic instrumentals. Some experiments, like the pagan smell on No Child Of Men Could Follow resulted quite well. One of the best albums of 2018 for sure, if not the best!
   Shylmagoghnar Facebook
   SHYLMAGOGHNAR - Transience | Napalm Records

Euphoreon - Ends of the Earth (2018) 9.5/10

That's what I like more on the Internet: to find such great music and have a direct link for those who create this art. Euphoreon is a two-men band that couldn't be further: Eugen in Germany and Matt in New Zealand. Anyway, in modern times, distance is not an issue and the proof is here, an excellent piece of Melo Death, plenty of beautiful melodies, great riffs, some magnificent chorus and melancholic piano passages. Of course the main reference is Wintersun, but these friends manage to have a proper sound and don't need a half million euros studio. A special note, when acquiring the album on bandcamp, you will also get the instrumental version, that's also a pleasure to hear! All songs are quite good but to me Mirrors is awesome.
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   Euphoreon - Ends of the Earth

Ephyra - The Day of Return (2018) 8/10

Ephyra is an Italian Folk Metal band with clear female vocal and harsh male vocal. With this third album, the heaviest to date, I would say this is more Melodic Death with some Folk and sliding a bit to Orient. Most songs are well achieved, but to me the rhythm is a bit repetitive and the drums sound could be less rough. However I do like the oriental feeling, with some throat singing and the mongolian folk instruments. My highlights are Your Sin, Being Human and Sublime Visions, this one an instrumental.
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   Ephyra - Your Sin [OFFICIAL LYRIC]

Heimsgard - Following The Starlight (2018) 9.5/10

I love the days when I discover awesome Metal. And some days ago, it was a bright one, even with stress work and rain. Heimsgard is a one-man project, Raido, also the Epictural Productions manager, France. The music is a glorious epic Pagan Folk Metal that may spin non stop and warm our Metal souls. Before writing the review, I also heard the previous work, Ordrag, that by the way is also excellent. Following The Starlight is more pompous, with more layers of instruments thus having a more complex, but still quite epic and melodic, sound. Raido does a quite nice job in all instruments, particularly guitars, programming and mixing all together. For less good days, this is a proper antidote!
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   Heimsgard - I was born under a wandering star

Nebelhorn - Urgewalt (2018) 7/10

Nebelhorn is the project of Wieland, where this German guy plays everything. The music is well assumed as Viking, but several parts are pure Death and Black while others Pagan Melodic, and including, as usual in this subgenre, some chorus, nature sounds and folk. Urgewalt is the fourth album, released more than 10 years after the last one. If there are catchy songs, like the title song (some Skálmöld here) or Auf Neue Lande, with a contagious rhythm, others are less achieved. The album ends quite well with Freyhall, a good instrumental.
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   Nebelhorn Urgewalt Teaser 2018

Suotana - Land Of The Ending Time (2018) 9.5/10

As a few of you know, Suotana comes from the cold Finland. Land of the Ending Time is the second album and, if the previous Frostrealm was a pleasant surprise, this one is the confirmation of an excellent band, and one of the best Melodic Death bands around. For this album, the band pushed quite high the technical limits and sequenced the songs on a conceptual album. The result? A quite good mix between Wintersun and Kalmah with some minor doses of Power Metal and Children of Bodom added to the cauldron. The new elements on keyboards and vocals helped to expand the band's diversity. All songs are great, making this one of my preferred albums of the year.
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Dogma - Reditum (2017) 8/10

Dogma is a Doom Gothic Portuguese band, created in late 1996. They released a demo and two EPs and dismissed in 2003. In 2014, four of the former members decided to revive the band, specially recovering the old demo songs together with some more from that time and the result is Reditum. I'm not a particular doom fan (opposition of my nick, ah ah), but the result is a damned good album. Singing in Portuguese, with excellent male and female vocals and quite good guitar riffs, I would highlight Criacao and Sangue & Frio songs. Doom Gothic used to be quite popular in Portugal those years, it's not strange that some influences from Moonspell and Desire are noticed.
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   Reditum (full album)

11th Dimension - Paramnesia (2018) 8/10

Knowing the band from some time I had some expectations about their first album. 11th Dinension is a Progressive Metal band from Lisbon, Portugal, launched in 2013, but with older roots. Fronted by an exquisite female vocal, Diana Rosa, also with a successful photographic model career, her crystal clear voice much defines 11th Dimension sound. The music is quite dense and intricate, due to Pedro Marques guitar work and the efficiency of Carlos' bass and Filipa's drums. Best songs to me: the strong Trust Denied, the unexpected Expectations and the varied The Journey of The Wild Mind. After recording, a second guitar was added, I'm looking forward to see the result ☺
   11th Dimension Facebook
   11th Dimension - Trust Denied (Music Video)

Metalwings - For All Beyond (2018) 7.5/10

Here it is a good Symphonic Metal work. Coming from Bulgaria and still unsigned, this quintet is fronted by Stela Atanasova, an excellent opera vocalist that also plays electric viola (a kind of violin) and manages the band. Their first video, Crying of the Sun, included on the first EP, have been seen more than 12 million times. For All Beyomd is the first album, where Stela's vocal capabilities and viola are highlighted and well escorted by keyboards and the other intruments, with some irish flute adding a celtic touch. Without weak songs, my favorite is Secret Town, also quite nice and original is Tujni Serza, a slow sung in Bulgarian.
   Metalwings Facebook
   METALWINGS — There’s No Time (Official Track)

Kanseil - Fulische (2018) 8/10

A different type of Folk? Yeah! Kanseil is an Italian band existing since 2010 and this is their second album. Instead of party or beer songs, the lyrics here are quite important and drive the songs. The vocals, in Italian and excellent, by the way, alternate between clean and harsh, also some spoken parts are incorporated to add drama to their stories. The music is a heavy Folk with several Melodic Death, even Death, and when needed, acoustic parts. Of course bagpipes and whistles are here quite important but also an unusual, in Folk, guitar work. Besides Pojat (the video below), Densiloc (good guitars), Vallorch (typical song) and the acoustic Serravalle deserve to be mentioned.
   Kanseil Facebook
   KANSEIL - Pojat (Official Music Video)

Beyond the Katakomb - Beyond the Katakomb (2018) 9/10

Do you know The Storyteller, an excellent Power Metal band from Sweden? Well, I'm following them since the beginning. After some years of a matured process, Beyond the Katakomb is the born son of my friend L-G Persson, The Storyteller's mastermind. Reuniting a set of experienced musicians, like Henrik Ohlsson (Scar Symmetry) and Johan Niemann (Evergrey, Talisman, Tiamat), and engineer/producer Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry, Nocturnal Rites, etc), this work acts like a solo album and represents a mystic introspection taking L-G vocals to new dimensions. Of course the epic Power roots are there but I would classify this mainly as Epic Progressive. The album is quite diverse, each of the 12 songs have a proper feeling, but all well played and sung, on a common melody line. Excellent production. This album will be released by the end of June 2018.
   Beyond the Katakomb Facebook
   Beyond The Katakomb - The Parallel God (Lyric Video)

Grimner - Vanadrottning (2018) 9/10

Now here is one of my favorite Folk Viking bands, and a new album to sing and drink around the fire! Two years after the acclaimed Frost Mot Eld, Vanadrottning maintains the same epic Folk Viking genre. Most songs are driven by Johan's flute, but perfectly folowed by all instruments, thus creating an easy identifiable sound. Besides the excellent En Fallen Jätte (first video), the fast Dödens Dans and Freja Vakar (bonus song) will please every Metal fan. Sången Om Grimner (The Song of Grimner) is also a great midtempo song, reminding me the country mates Manegarm. This is a band that I must see alive!
   Grimner Facebook
   Grimner - En Fallen Jätte (Official Music Video)

Theriomorphic - Of Fire and Light (EP 2018) 8/10

Long time no heard (well, except on two tributes) for this historical Portuguese Death Metal act and Jó's band (all local metalheads know Jó and his The Deadstore)! The last album, The Beast Brigade, was released 10 years ago! The EP starts quite well with an orchestral intro by Kaveirinha (Gwydion), followed by the excellent Fire (not expecting some Amon Amarth influences!). The remaining songs alternate between well placed intros and good Death with some melody and vibrant riffs yet not dropping on the Gothenburg sound. A good surprise! The digital version is free here.
   Theriomorphic Facebook
   Theriomorphic – Of Fire And Light [full EP with lyrics]

Angelus Apatrida - Cabaret De La Guillotine (2018) 9/10

This is one of my top Thrash bands ever, being lucky enough to have seen them alive several times. Of course, hearing that a new album is coming, just followed every bits of music and clips. And Cabareth De La Guilhotine, the fifth full-length of these Spanish Thrash Gods, confirms to be one of the best works on this genre for last years. With plenty of riffs, fast energetic structures, powerfull old-style vocals, enough melody, no cores or modern effects, this is an album that will spin a lot. Among such hymns as Sharpen the Guillotine or Downfall of the Nation, pure speed as One of Us, also there is an awesome emotive song as Farewell. Hoping to see these Brothers alive again!
   Angelus Apatrida Facebook

Vallendusk - Fortress of Primal Grace (2018) 9.5/10

Another precious gem discovered on the net. Vallendusk is a band from Indonesia (!) that plays an awesome Atmospheric Melodic Black Metal. When I first heard this I immediatly became a fan and ordered the available CDs. Fortress of Primal Grace is the third album and the first note is for the attractive oil-painted cover. Along one hour, seven long songs are presented, in a perfect sequence, all with a permanent pair of guitars supporting a just on point black vocals and some keys filling in. I can't find any fault in this album. Fans of Wormwood (as I am) will love this! One of the best releases of the year, so far!
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   Vallendusk - Fortress of Primal Grace (Official Album Premiere)

Kamelot - The Shadow Theory (2018) 8/10

The kings of Power Progressive are back with a new album, three years after Haven. And expectations are not drop, the album consolidates the route from the two previous albums, yet without innovating. The Shadow Theory starts quite well with a power and melodic song, Phantom Divine, with the first female guest vocal Lauren Hart (Once Human. Among the 13 songs we got fast songs, slower songs, another duet with a female vocal, Jennifer Haben (Beyond the Black), all typically Kamelot songs, but some are forgettable. Of course we have the fabulous vocals of Tommy Karevik, good guitars and keyboards and a super symphonic production. Tour not to be misssed!
   Kamelot Facebook
   KAMELOT - Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire) ft. Lauren Hart (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Nox Aeterna - Aurora Borealis (2018) 8/10

Here is a new album from this Dutch quintet, still unsigned, that plays a solid Melo Death. Reviewed the previous album The Desperation Deal some years ago (almost on the rebirth of Sounds from Apocalypse) and at that time, I heard a promising band. Aurora Borealis confirms a good band with melodic and fast songs, based on a accomplice pair of guitars, filled with non-intrusive keyboards. The first three songs, specially the galloping Chasing the North (some Amon Amarth here), will get you tied to the album. The refreshing Destitude Salvation also deserves a mention. A have-to-check to all Melo Death fans!
   Nox Aeterna Facebook
   Nox Aeterna - Chasing The North

Judas Priest - Firepower (2018) 9/10

Good old Heavy Metal is healthier than ever. After excellent albums from Saxon and Blaze Bailey, among others, here is a new album from one of the most important fathers of Metal. After some so-so albums, that didn't bring too much attention to me, Firepower is quite good and the best album since Painkiller. The production is perfect, Rob's vocals is ageless, Glenn Tipton (too bad his Parkinson's disease that will prevent him to play full shows) recovers Priest's best guitar duels with Richie Faulkner. I can't nominate a weak theme, all have some special and strong moments. Not forgetting the past, Heavy Metal scene present and future is assured!
   Judas Priest Facebook
   Judas Priest - Never The Heroes (Lyric Video)

Elvenking - Secrets of the Magick Grimoire (2017) 8.5/10

As Elvenking is playing in Portugal in August 2018 (XI Milagre Metaleiro), it's a good opportunity to review this album, released last November. This veteran Italian band plays a catchy Melodic Power mixed with Folk and it's an assurance of live party time. With a full set of guests (Snowy Shaw, Dave Briggs of Waylander, Simone Mularoni of DGM, Alessandro Conti, etc), the sextet released a solid album plenty of good and varied songs, highlighting the opening theme (first album video). The violin, keyboard, whistle and other folk instruments fits quite well in the music enriching the sound. One of the most anticipated shows for this year, together with other excellent bands.
   Elvenking Facebook
   ELVENKING - Invoking the Woodland Spirit (2017) // official clip // AFM Records

Eldritch - Cracksleep (2018) 8.5/10

Together with DGM, Eldritch are one of my favorite Power Progressive Italian bands. These veterans started in 1990, under the name Zeus, changed to the current name in 1991. They are now back with their 11th album and Cracksleep doesn't disappoint at all, being one of their best works. The album concept and cover relates to experiences and causes about insomnia. The themes are all quite well played and sung, varied but not moving away from the progressive and melodic line. Highlighted are the excellent As the Night Crawls In (first video), the fast Reset and Voices Calling, and the emotive Hidden Friend. For sure, an album to be appreciated by fans of Symphony X, Angra and Evergrey.
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   ELDRITCH - As The Night Crawls In (Lyric Video)

Tribulation - Down Below (2018) 9/10

I confess I never paid too much attention to this Swedish band, used to play Death Black. But being on tour with the mighty Insomnium, I had to give it a try. And wow, what an album, completely surprised me. The music is unexpectedly melodic and simultaneously refreshing, with great solos and harmonies between both guitars, excellent well constructed songs and good vocal lines, following the horror visual and lyrical themes. Throughout the album, several horror ambients are reinforced with keyboard layers. Being all good, my favorite songs are Nightbound, Lady Death, The World and Here Be Dragons. Missed Vagos 2016, looking forward to see them in a couple weeks in Lisbon.
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   TRIBULATION - Lady Death - Live in Oberhausen 2018 (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Arkona - Khram (2018) 8.5/10

A new album of originals from one of the most important Russian bands is always good news. Four years after Yav, here is an ambitious and epic 74 minutes record. Starting with a Black Metal intro, soon we get the blak folk sung in Russian, just before the 17 min epic Tseluya zhizn', a superb and intense Melodic Black Folk Tribal opus, and my fave song. And here is the confirmation of the Blackish path followed by Аркона, for sure original and full of intricate construction melodies. Instrumentally, the album is impeccable, as the harsh and clean vocals. I just feel that some songs are too long for what they transmit (V ladonyah bogov, for instance). Anyway a quite good Melodic Black Folk album!
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   ARKONA - V pogonie za beloj ten'yu (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Imperial Age - The Legacy of Atlantis (2018) 9/10

Finally here is one of the month's most anticipated albums to me. I follow this Symphonic Russian band almost since the beginning. Knowing the band leader, Aor, perfectionism and attention to detail, with his commitment to write an ambitious Metal Opera the result couldn't be less than excellent. And it's a beautiful piece of Symphonic Metal, emotive and imponent, where all vocalizations raise perfection. While the music base are Aor and Corn keyboards, there is also an excellent work on drums, bass and guitar. All songs have remarkable parts but I will highlight The Legacy of Atlantis and The Escape. A 100% recommendation for Heavy and Symphonic fans!
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Therion - Beloved Antichrist (2018) 7.5/10

First statement: this is not a Metal album, neither a Metal Opera, as announced on the tour poster, but a Rock Opera. Based on A Short Tale Of The Antichrist, by 19th century Russian writer Vladimir Soloviov, Beloved Antichrist is the most ambitious work coming from the genious mind of Christofer Johnsson, with 46 songs and lasting for more than 3 hours. The story involves more than 30 different vocals. As a Metalhead, that don't fancy Opera, this is hard to classify. Of course it's extremely well played and sung, but most songs are just Operatic vocals without any Metal base, and only few could remember Therion's Symphonic Metal. I'm sure this Opera album played alive would be quite special, but listening to the whole album is a bit boring.
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Walk in Darkness - Welcome to the New World (2018) 8/10

A year ago I reviewed the first album, In the Shadows of Things, of this Italian Gothic Metal band and now here is the second work. Remembering, this band is Kalidia's vocalist Nicoletta Rosellini supported by five mysterious "monks". While waiting for Kalidia's next Melodic Power opus, this Welcome to the New World highlights Nicolettas vocal skills, on a Gothic Metal Rock registry, leading a gang of efficient musicians. A good and varied Gothic album!
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   WALK IN DARKNESS - 'Welcome to the New World' (OFFICIAL AUDIO)

Heidevolk - Vuur van Verzet (2018) 9/10

A new Heidevolk album at the beginning of the year? Great! The Folk Metal Dutch sextext is back with its sixth album, three years after the excellent Velua. By the way, Vuur van Verzet means Fire of Resistence. The themes, sung in Dutch, with two male vocals in perfect harmony, Heidevolk's trademark, are quite well escorted by all instruments, including, in some songs, folk instruments, choirs and a string quartet. I have to highlight the fantastic A Wolf in my Heart (sung in English) and The Alliance (this with guest vocal Nemtheanga from Primordial), but all songs are quite good and varied, addicted with each audition. The digipack includes a good acoustic song and the Dutch versison of A Wolf In My Heart. A band that I would love to see live again. Pagan Metal Brotherhood is on the rise!
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   HEIDEVOLK - A Wolf In My Heart (Official Audio) | Napalm Records

Order to Ruin - Return to Ceyrior VII (2018) 7.5/10

Boy, here is a quite productive band, seven albums and two EPs in 6 years. The band is a German trio, two guitars and bass/vocal and for this album they hired a studio drummer for the first time, previous works with programmed drums. The style is an aggressive Swedish flavoured Melodic Death, with some tints of Thrash. Even for the album duration, this album reminds me when I first heard Dark Tranquillity or In Flames for the first time, maybe a little less melodic. In conclusion, a good Melo Death album, worth to be checked.
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   Order to Ruin - Dating Lucifer (Official Lyric Video)

Frozen Crown - The Fallen King (2018) 8.5/10

2018 is starting well on the Metal area. One good surprise is The Fallen King, debut album by Frozen Crown. Hailing from Milan (Italy), this female fronted new band (not yet on Metal Encyclopedia) plays a quite good Power Metal, with some influences from Sonata Arctica, Unleashed The Archers and Nightwish. Giada Etro (also with Ashes You Leave and Tystnaden) is an excellent singer, also to be referenced are guitar and keyboard player Federico Mondelli and the 17 years old female guitarist Thalìa Bellazecca. Excellent album, I just would avoid some harsh male vocals.
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   FROZEN CROWN - The Shieldmaiden (LYRIC VIDEO)
   FROZEN CROWN - I Am The Tyrant (Official Video)

Deathless Legacy - Rituals of Black Magic (2018) 7.5/10

Deathless Legacy comes from Italy and its music is described as Horror Metal. While understanding this, I will add some symphonic and gothic parts over a huge theatrical base, drinking directly from Alice Cooper legacy. Their shows are well worth to attend. Rituals of Black Magic is the fourth album, following the good Dance With Devils from last year. Being a concept album, all songs relate to spells from the Old Grimoire book. Besides the excellent and versatile vocals of Steva and intense keyboards/synths work, all other four players contrbute to a proper style. For those who don't know, the Dominus Inferi video, my favorite album song, is an excellent presentation.
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Tidal Dreams - Previsor (2017) 8/10

New band to me. Tidal Dreams come from Greece and are on the road since 2002, but the first album was out only in 2012. In 2016 they won the Greek Wacken Metal Battle Finals. Previsor is the second album, released recently by Underground Symphony. The music is a good epic Heavy Metal, while not too original, it should be appreciated by most metalheads. Some parts remind me old Omen, Metal Church and Nevermore. Guitars work is quite good, well seconded by drums and bass. Vocalizations are good and powerful, with a wide range, just some falsettos don't result so well. The album closes with an awesome epic folkish instrumental. Definitely another band to follow!
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   TIDAL DREAMS - A Place In The Sun (Lyric Video)

Forja - El Llibre dels Feyts (2017) 8/10

Barcelona, besides being one of my favorite cities with a fabulous architecture, is also the origin of many good Metal bands. Forja started in 2012, released the first demo in 2013, an EP in 2015 and now, December 2017, the first album, the conceptual El Llibre dels Feyts. The first noticed aspect are the covers, all with medieval illustrations, and the one of this album is quite original. Then the main characteristic is the language, all songs are in Catalan. The music is an animated and melodic Folk Metal with traditional roots and plenty of folklore instruments. While being quite homogeneous, I may highlight the fast Aurembiaix (see the video) and the emotive Ales Negres.
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   Forja - Aurembiaix (Lyric Video)

Celtibeerian - Deiwos (2017) 9/10

Here is the expected new album of one of the top Spanish Folk Metal bands. Met these friends last year and I was immediately surrended by their good mood and energetic Folk. Deiwos means God in Latin and the album gets inspiration on celtibeerian and indoeuropean gods and nature, even including small parts in old celtibeerian language. Among the 15 songs, including elucidative intro and outro, there are great instrumentals, epic folk pieces, fast songs, "booze" songs, emotive pieces and even one song in Basque. In addition to the high skills in composition, the excellent vocals of Gus and Patricia, and efficient players, Celtibeerian's sound owes much to David's bagpipes, whistles and harp, and Patricia's violin. An awesome album for Folk fans, the others may be surprised as well. So, play Folk Metal and be happy!
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Vintersorg - Till Fjälls, del II (2017) 9/10

Vintersorg is the main project of Andreas Hedlund (nick Vintersorg), a man of many talents and also member of Borknagar, Cronian, Otyg and others. Vintersorg started as a one-man project, now being a trio. Till Fjälls, del II is the tenth album and is like a part II of the first album, released in 1998. The music is a mix of Viking, Folk and Progressive with some Black traces. All 13 songs in the two CDs are quite good, with the characteristic clean vocals of Mr. Vintersorg, sung in Swedish, complex structures, epic orchestrations and melodic lines. As references, besides Borknagar (of course), it reminds me Heljareyga, the side project of Heri Joensen (Týr), but better. Another runner for best album of the year.
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   VINTERSORG - Fjällets mäktiga mur (Official Lyric Video) | Napalm Records

Arch Enemy - Will to Power (2017) 8.5/10

Three years and many singles, compilations and live albums after, here it is the anticipated new album of one of the most popular Melodic Death bands. Will to Power is the second full-length with Alissa White-Gluz as vocals and the first with Jeff Loomis (ex Nevermore). Alissa establishes herself as the center of the band (the limited edition poster says all); while not being so aggressive as Angela Gossow (still the band's manager), her presence is quite remarkable both alive and on record, even has some clean singing on Reason To Believe. Of course all the well known players (Arch Enemy is an all-star band) perform efficiently, with emphasis to the melodies driven by the twin lead guitars (Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis). While not exceptional, it's a good album, IMO superior to War Eternal; it will please to a much wider range of Heavy people, not only Melodic Death fans.
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Sleeping Woodland - К Северным Морям (2017) 9/10

Often, internet reveals some exquisite bands, otherwise I would never heard about. Sleeping Woodland is a Russian band, nowadays a two man project and К Северным Морям is their second album. All sung in Russian, the album name means "To The Northern Seas" and the story is the first part of a saga related to a mysterious land called Sleepland. This album defines what it is Epic Viking Metal, with plenty of choirs and orchestrations, also including nature sounds and some nordic type folk. If you like Bathory, Blood On Ice phase, you'll love this album. The Russian vocals fit quite well in the music, thus giving an original flavour. So glad I found it, this album is addictive and being spinned frequently.
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   Sleeping Woodland - К Северным Морям (To The Northern Seas) (album teaser)

Moonspell - 1755 (2017) 8.5/10

What a venturous project that the most important Portuguese Metal band decided to implement, both at musical and scenery levels. First the subject, concerning the tragic event of the 1755 earthquake and tsunami in Lisbon. Second the music, with imponent orchestrations and the songs following the main stages of the catastrophe, with some oriental touches (1755, as in Medusalem from the previous album), with Fado (In Tremor Dei), but always with the perfect mix of vocals and the virtuosity of all players. And third the lyrics, for the first time a complete album in Portuguese (Desastre also in Spanish on the digipack) telling the world a dark page of our history. Ambitious project, achieved in all aspects!
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   MOONSPELL - In Tremor Dei (Official Video) | Napalm Records

All Will Know - Infinitas (2017) 7.5/10

This band, new to me, is a sextet from Germany that plays a mix of Melodic Death and Metalcore. Quoting the band, they don't compromise with styles, just Melodic Metal. The actual members play/played in Agathodaimon, Adorned Blood and Suidakra, thus excellent references. Infinitas is the 3rd album and, while not appreciating Metalcore, it's a good melodic album, full of interesting melodies, with good vocals, both modern clean and death, good riffs and competent bass/drums section. The album ends with a nice small instrumental and there's also a reggaeish unplugged version of the title theme from the previous album.
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   ALL WILL KNOW - Deeper Into Time (from previous album)

Orden Ogan - Gunmen (2017) 9/10

This is my first time reviewing Orden Ogan, and after seeing a fantastic show in Madrid. Gunmen is a concept album about a gun fighter in cowboys land and, hell, this is one of the best Power Metal releases in several years. As with their countrymen Powerwolf, they can only write good songs, without flaws. Due to the melodic structures, the comparison with Blind Guardian is inevitable, but, while maintaining a proper original line, I should state that in recent years Orden Ogan is far superior. Favorite songs? Quite hard, maybe Come With Me To The Other Side, featuring Liv Kristine and an insane lead! But just hear the whole album, damned!
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   ORDEN OGAN - Come With Me To The Other Side (feat. Liv Kristine) // AFM Records

Incursed - Amalur (2017) 9/10

My friends from Bilbao, Spain, are back with another masterpiece. Playing an irresistible Viking Pagan Folk Metal (beware of neck pains) Amalur is an excellent collection of themes, varied and catchy, powerful and emotive. We have quite fast songs, like The Slavic Covenant (with Javi Crosas from the mighty Drakum) or Psalm of the Accursed, emotive epic songs like A Crownless King (Ibone Gómez from Sister Moon, female vocals as guest) or the title theme Amalur, sung in Basque, with the participation of Miguel Laguna (Aiumeen Basoa, another awesome band from the Basque Country). The album ends quite well with a traditional song, also sung in Basque. A band that I must see alive!
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   Incursed - Amalur [Amalur, 2017]

Manora - Dreamshapes (EP 2017) 8/10

Manora hails from Holland and the Dreamshapes EP is the first published work. And quite an interesting start, the music is melodic symphonic Metal with clean female vocals. As reference I remember their country mates Within Temptation or Epica, but with a proper flavour. The five songs on this EP are all catchy and melodic, predominantly keyboard based, and where guitars and rhythm section have the important role of giving power. Definitively a band to follow!
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   Manora - A Time of Change

Ensiferum - Two Paths (2017) 8.5/10

A new album from one of the most important Folk Metal bands around is always an event. Two years after the good One Man Army, here is Two Paths. Following the same safe path, globally it doesn't disappoint, starting with the usual intro and one of the best songs in the album For Those About To Fight For Metal. Furthermore, we have the band's typical metal structures, plenty of chorus, simple lyrics, some good-for-shows refrains, and the nice Netta Skog vocals on two songs, including the less common and interesting I Will Never Kneel. Also present is a popish song Don't You Say, but... no long epic songs in this. If you can, grab the 2CD or CD+DVD edition, the album complemented with an excellent acoustic show.
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   Ensiferum "For Those About to Fight for Metal" (OFFICIAL)

Persona - Metamorphosis (2017) 8.5/10

After reviewing the first album, Elusive Reflections, I was looking for this one. After a successfully crowdfunding campaign, here is the second opus for this female-fronted symphonic band, that hails from Tunisia. The music is a mix of mainly symphonic and progressive, but incorporating several other elements, always emotive and with a proper sense of melody, where Jelena's superb vocalizations are highlighted by all instruments. My favorite songs are Armour of Thorns and The Seeress of Triumph, but all are quite good. Top quality for this independent release.
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   Persona - The Seeress of Triumph (Official Lyric Video)

Dark Avenger - The Beloved Bones: Hell (2017) 7/10

Now there's a band I followed in the begining with the excellent homonym first album back in 1995, good Brazilian Power Metal. The second album, six years later, was not so good. The Beloved Bones: Hell is the fourth album and the first part of a two chapter saga. Musically speaking, the album is more directed to midtempo Progressive, lacking melody and power. Sure, it's well played and the vocalist Mario Linhares gives a solid performance, following the story. Let's wait for the Divine chapter.
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   DARK AVENGER - The Beloved Bones (Official Lyric Video)

Iberia - Much Higher Than a Hope (2017) 8.5/10

A new album from one of the oldest Heavy Metal / Hard Rock Portuguese bands is always an important event. And what a comeback to releases, six years after Revolution. With a crispy production, the album is a sequence of emotive, sometimes epic, eleven songs where one of the best Portuguese Metal voices, Hugo Soares, is excellently supported by the twin lead/rythm guitars and an effective bass/drum section. And it's hard to nominate best songs, since the heavy Sanctuary of Dreams to the slow How I Miss You. I do hope to see Iberia on Rock Fest Barcelona or another important European Metal Fest, they will fit perfectly in such lineups.
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   IBERIA - RISING INFERNO (Official Audio 2017)

Waterland - Signs of Freedom (2017) 7.5/10

For sure one of the most melodic Metal bands in Portugal, now celebrating 10 years. Created from Oratory, a historic melodic Portuguese act, by Miguel Gomes, guitar, Waterland had frequent lineup changes in the past, but maintaining always a proper identity. The music is always extremely melodic Heavy Power, sometimes a little mellow, very keyboard based and with dual vocals, most of the time harmonic male and female. Signs of Freedom is the fourth album, released by the band. Most songs, along 75 minutes, are quite homogeneous, keyboards and guitars well coordinated and pouring out melody. A good album, I may point The Edge of Time. And there are 15 songs, the last one, Follow Your Heart, is not listed.
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Altair - Descending A Devilish Comedy (2017) 7/10

Altair is an Italian band that started as a typical Italian Power Metal band, judging by their first album in 2013. Four years after, here comes Descending A Devilish Comedy and some direction changes occured. While keeping the keyboard based melody, this album is much more progressive, and with much less power. Vocals and all players are quite good and the production do them justice. Fans of Melodic Progressive Metal in the line of a softer DGM should check this band.
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   ALTAIR - Seed Of Violence ("Descending...A Devilish Comedy"/SLEASZY RIDER)

Wicked Disciple - Salvation Or Decline (2017) 8.5/10

Wicked Disciple is a project from Ted Hetfield, Black Messiah's guitar, and his friend Micha Neugebauer (The Atrium). Some years ago, they started to explore new ideas and sounds and here is the result: refreshing and unconventional 10 pieces of good Heavy Metal with several influences, including thrash and progressive, even grunge. There are no similar songs, so expect to be often surprised when hearing Salvation Or Decline. I do like all songs, but my fave is the long 13 minutes epic instrumental song dedicated to Mars and their moons.So glad I was contacted to review this album, otherwise I may have never knew this one!
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   Wicked Disciple - Phobos Deimos & Mars (Demo 2016)

Wintersun - The Forest Seasons (2017) 8.5/10

Wintersun is one of my top bands, so I contributed on the first day for the most successful Metal crowdfunding ever, quite amusing and entertaining. And some days ago the result was released, five years after Time 1. As Jari Mäenpää warned, this is not the long awaited Time 2, so don't expect those pompous, melodic and epic orchestrations. The Forest Seasons is composed of four long songs (12 to 15 minutes), each dedicated to a season in the forest. It's a good and dense album, that must be listened several times to get most subtle details. The first two songs (Spring and Summer) are quite good, more Wintersun style. Next is the Autumn song, with some Black Metal influences that turns boring. The last song, midtempo, transmits well the cold of Winter but IMO it is too long. I was expecting more, let's hope we will not wait another five years for Time 2.
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   Wintersun - Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring) Official Lyric Video

Black Messiah - Walls of Vanaheim (2017) 9.5/10

2017 is also revealing to be an excellent year for Metal. Another almost perfect album, that could spin non stop, now from the Symphonic Black Folk Viking Metallers of Black Messiah. Walls of Vanaheim is their 7th album, and these Germans matured quite well, four years after Heimweh. Several narrated tracks introduces us to the Norse mythology episode of Odin and MImir's head, while the songs flow perfectly, incorporating symphonic and folk elements, sometimes classic, into a fast and melodic Pagan Metal. Along 70 minutes we are also surprised by beautiful moments like some unusual violin leading the music instead of filling in it (as in Satisfaction and Revenge) or the the epic instrumental Epilogue: Farewell. I was expecting a good album, but it far exceeded my expectations.
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Iced Earth - Incorruptible (2017) 8/10

This is one of the most consistent American Power Metal bands and an assurance of quality shows and albums. While prefering the European Power scene, a new Iced Earth album is always an emotion. Incorruptible is the 13rd testimony of a long career of almost 30 years and, overall, is quite a good album, superior to the last Plagues of Babylon. With a warm start, then the hostilities begin with the excellent Black Flag and the midtempo Raven Wing, showing the typical Iced Earth sound. The production highlights the emotive vocals and balances perfecly all instruments. I also notice the interesting Ghost Dance instrumental (some disco). Not my Iced Earth fave album, but still a good solid one!
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   ICED EARTH - Raven Wing (Lyric Video)

Odraedir - Legends Of The Dark Times (2017) 9/10

That's what I like more on the net, to discover such awesome new bands. Well, not properly new, Odraedir from the Czech Republic started in 2009. Anyway, Legends Of The Dark Times is their first album, recently released by the band itself (only 200 digis). And what a musical blast! Playing a fast and melodic Pagan Folk Metal, with some symphonic, power and acoustic moments, this band will put your head spinning and headbanging non stop. All songs are great, but my favorite moments are the beautiful Intro and Outro, The Dawn of Odin's Horde and Choir of Swords. One of the most played albums these days!
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   Odraedir - Choir of Swords [official lyric video]

Alestorm - No Grave But The Sea (2017) 8/10

The Pirates of Scotland strike again for another alcoholic folk party. Alestorm's fifth album of originals is a sequence of extremelly well produced anthems, with Power rhythms supporting their characteristic Folk Metal. Of course Piracy is again the motif, shown in all songs. Compaired with previous albums, nothing original here, but parties don't need to be different. Among some good songs, Treasure Island is my favorite, there are some that could be avoided like Fucked with an Anchor or Man the Pumps. The Deluxe Edition also includes all songs but for dogs, words replaced by barks; curious but just for one audition.
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   ALESTORM - Mexico (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Imperivm - Rome Burns (2017) 7/10

Probably Italy is the country with the highest percentage of Power Metal bands. Imperivm is around since 2010 and Rome Burns is the second long play. As easily deducted by the band's name and songs, the theme here is the rich ancient Roman history. Besides the interesting lyrics, all related to known Roman episodes, there are some cool songs like Last Breath, Spartacus Never Dies or Fire and Flames. The production could be better, particularly with vocals, too high related to the music.
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   IMPERIVM - Spartacus Never Dies (official audio)

Unleash the Archers - Apex (2017) 9.5/10

Brittney and mates are to be congratulated, this is an excellent Heavy Power Metal album! The Melodic Death rib was taken behind and Apex, the fourth full-length, are 60 minutes of pure Metal with all the things that we love. First, Brittney Slayes, for sure one the best and wider range female vocals in Metal, with the correct equilibrium of power and emotion. Second, a pair of lead guitars delivering permanent riffs well supported by not less efficient drums and bass. And third, a collection of 10 catchy hymns, each one with a special flavour, making difficult to highlight one. A must for any true Metal fan!
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   UNLEASH THE ARCHERS - The Matriarch (Official Lyric Video)

Nokturnal Mortum - Істина (2017) 9/10

It took me some time to write this review and how to put in words the sensations of hearing this. Imagine three different bands, one melodic black, one Ukrainian folk and one symphonic, plus nature sounds, all put together and mixed in perfection. Істина is the seventh full-length, and eight years after the last one we are blessed by another masterpiece that can spin non-stop. Being a homogeneous album, mainly due to synths and vocalization, there are so many layers that add diversity and subtle variations. If you can, get the limited box edition, with digibook, an awesome exclusive TShirt, poster and signed photos.
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   Nokturnal Mortum "Вовчі ягоди"/"Wolfish Berries" official audio

DragonForce - Reaching into Infinity (2017) 9/10

The fastest Power Metal band on Earth is back! 3 years after the release of Maximum Overload, an avoidable contribution to the popish Babymetal and seeing them alive twice (Lisbon and Villena), it was about time to please my ears with a set of new songs. The formula is there, fast melodic songs, two lead guitars that compete and complete, efficient players, excellent and versatile vocals. But besides these fast songs, some surprises as well, like the thrashy War or the long less speedy The Edge of the World. Don't miss this album neither a show near you, satsfaction guaranteed!
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   DragonForce - Ashes of the Dawn

Concordea - Over Wide Spaces (2017) 7.5/10

Concordea is a Prog Power Metal from Russia, that started half a dozen years ago. Full time members are Daria Piankova (guitars and composition) and Alexey Turetskov (keyboards). They released the Before the Sunrise Ep in 2014, and now this first album. With the guest participation of Filippo Tezza, an Italian singer, and Ilya Reyngard (Incarnator) on bass, Over Wide Spaces is a good melodic album, with an adequate balance between guitar and keyboard, over a symphonic base. Not knowing the band, it revealed to be a good surprise.
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   Wings Motion (Bandcamp)

Netherbird - Hymns from Realms Yonder (2017) 8.5/10

For those who don't know Netherbird, this compilation is an excellent introduction to their dark Melodic Black/Death Metal. While not an ancient band, the Swedes already released 5 albums (this one included) and 6 EPs. By the way, the first album, The Ghost Collecter (2008), was re-released the 5th May. The compilation gathers all songs on singles and EPs that are not on albums and includes several immortal covers like Paradise Lost (As I Die), Sentenced (Nepenthe) and Annihilator (Alison Hell), for a total of 78 minutes. Worth to be checked!
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   Netherbird - Pillars of the Sky (Official lyric video)

Sailing To Nowhere - Lost in Time (2017) 7.5/10

Two years and many concerts after the first album, here is the second chapter of this dynamic Italian band. Maintaining the same style, Melodic Power Metal, and the nautic theme, Lost In Time is a good collection of songs, varied and easy to listen. Now, vocalizations are assured by two ladies and Marco Palazzi, thus allowing for more diverse compositions. While being a good short album (less than 40 minutes) I found some parts too simple. Best songs to me: the growing up Apocalypse (with guest Fabio Lione) and the fast Suffering In Silence.
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Killsorrow - Little Something For You To Choke (2016) 8/10

The beautiful city of Cracow, Poland, doesn't give only popes, also some nice Metal bands. Killsorrow debuted in 2008 but only by the end of last year this first album was released. Despite the lack of releases, the band played more than 100 gigs. The gained experience reflects in the album, with an efficient and well played Melo Death, nice riffs, good melodic songs. Marcin's male vocals are great but I would like that Agnieszka (female vocals) could sing more. Also I would like to see longer songs, only the first one is 5 minutes, all others around 4 minutes. Favorite songs: the first one Heading Home and Revolution. Looking forward to hear the second chapter!
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   Killsorrow - Revolution (2016)

Legacy of Cynthia - Danse Macabre (2016) 7/10

Legacy of Cynthia is a Portuguese band that plays an original and experimental Prog Metal/Rock with winkles to burlesque, electronic, soul and other genres. They started in 2010, in Sintra (not far from me), and are a regular presence on the portuguese stages all along the country. Danse Macabre is the second full-length, published by Raising Legends in October 2016. While a little bit out of my musical preferences, the album is quite interesting and innovative, all songs are different for each other. What appeals more are the unique, strong and warm Peter's vocalizations, but well supported by all instruments. A last word for the exquisite artwork. Listen to it and be surprised!
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   Legacy of Cynthia - The One Eyed King live @ RCA Club, Lisboa

Craving - By the Storm (2016) 8.5/10

I had few references (anyway, good) about this band before listening to By The Storm, released by the end of last year. An this is an excellent album, varied and full of surprises. Playing Melodic Death/Black Metal with some Folk, epic orchestrations, black and clean vocals, references to Ensiferum or Wintersun are also found, but at the same time maintaining a proper identity. Quite epic and extreme, as the band advertises. All songs are good but the best to me are Penelopes Prayer, Seven Steps to Darkness, One with Darkness. Try to buy the limited box edition, full of goodies, or at least the digipack, with 2 bonus songs (one being a good Game of Thrones cover) and lasting for 78 minutes!
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   Craving - Penelopes Prayer

Kaledon - Carnagus: Emperor Of The Darkness (2017) 8/10

With a career of almost 20 years, Kaledon is one of the most prominent Power Metal acts in Italy and one of my favorite. Three years after the last "Antillius: The King of the Light" (one of the first reviews on this website), here is the ninth chapter on the Legend Of The Forgotten Reign saga and the third about one of the characters. The new album debuts the vocalist Michele Guaitoli (also with Overtures), to me an improvement, and a new drummer. The music is the expected efficient epic symphonic Power Metal well led by Alex Mele, with some darker elements (according to the main character). The album will be released the 15th May.
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Wormwood - Ghostlands, Wounds From A Bleeding Earth (2017) 9.5/10

The day I found Wormwood was a great day to... listen to some awesome Folk Melodic Black Metal. And 2017 being also an excellent year in Metal. For a recent band, born in 2014, these Swedes know how to compose great songs and lock the listeners from the first notes until the last guitar sighs. Probably this is the most melodic and diverse Black album ever, and for sure one of the year's best. I could't agree more with the band's definition: Atmospheric Blackened Folk'n Roll ☺ But it's better to stop reading me and listen to these 58 minutes (and buy it)!
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   Wormwood - Godless Serenade (OFFICIAL VIDEO 2016)

Lux Perpetua - The Curse Of The Iron King (2017) 8/10

Lux Perpetua is a Power Metal band from Poland, created in 2004 with the name Sentinel. The actual name was adopted in 2009. Despite the 13 year history, until now they only released the Forever We Stand EP in 2014. Finally, all efforts were rewarded with The Curse of the Iron King. And, like good wine, maturation gave an excellent result. The album could easily be side by side with HammerFall or Blind Guardian albums, pompous, melodic and varied Power well played and sung. Artur Rosiński addition to vocals, in the middle of the recording, was a must. And a curiosity, the exquisite cover was created by Meg, the keyboard player.
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   Lux Perpetua - Army of Salvation

Pectora - Redemption (EP 2017) 8/10

A nice surprise that brings us back to the good old days of Heavy without variants. Coming from Denmark, this unsigned band released the Redemption EP in the beginning of the year, four years after the first work, Burgeon of Hate EP. The four sung songs are quite well composed, with memorable choruses, good riffs and solid rhythm sections. The EP includes also a nice short instrumental guitar song that opens to my favorite song, Valley of Dreams (some Metal Church here?). And I'm glad to see they already have been booked to play with Flotsam & Jetsam and Them. Another band to follow by the True Metal fans!
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   Pectora - Son Of The Four (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)

Bloodbound - War of Dragons (2017) 8.5/10

Here we have another fine example of melodic Power Metal! Bloodbound hails from Sweden and War of the Dragons is the 7th album. Unlike in the past, this album maintains the good Power Metal vibe from the previous album and will please to any Power Metal fan. It's not original, with a cinematographic spoken intro, and get similarities to Sabaton (Tears of a Dragonheart, Stand and Fight, Fallen Heroes), HammerFall (Silver Wings), Rhapsody of Fire (intro + Battle in The Sky), Freedom Call (King of Swords, Dragons are Forever), among others. These references, all instruments well played (particularly lead guitar and drums) and well sung, the speed and melody, make War of Dragons a quite good album.
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   BLOODBOUND - Stand And Fight (2017) // official audio video // AFM

Grimlet - Theia Aesthetics of a Lie (2017) 7/10

Grimlet is a portuguese band, from Coimbra region, with almost 20 years history. They play a Death Metal quite technical, with some progressive and groove. Theia Aesthetics is the third album after an interruption of 7 years in releases. While not being a fan of non-melodic Death, Grimlet's case, this album has some interesting aspects. It comprises 6 songs (less than 36 minutes), beginning with a good instrumental. Also to be noticed the powerful vocals of David Carvalho and some insane guitar work.
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   Grimlet - 2:1:0

Valhalore - Voyage Into Eternity (2017) 9.5/10

After discovering the first EP last year (and bought a signed copy), this was to me one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Valhalore is a recent band from Australia that plays a quite good and epic Folk Viking Metal. Including new versions of the 3 songs presented on the EP, Voyage Into Eternity is a collection of 10 hymns that will please for sure the fans of Wintersun, Ensiferum or Eluveitie. Before writing these lines I heard the album probably more than 10 times, and everything is conjugated in perfection: irresistible chorus, fast songs, midtempo epic songs, acoustic moments, growls, clean vocals, solos, flutes, imponent orchestrations. Very soon this band will be worldwide known, well done my friends!
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   Valhalore - Across the Frozen Ocean (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Wolfheart - Tyhjyys (2017) 9/10

A new album for one of the new exponents of the Finnish Melodic Death Metal scene. When immediatly hearing the first track, "Shores Of The Lake Simpele", I got goosebumps and start imagining this alive, the perfect one to start a show (next 22nd March in Lisbon!). Without rest, it comes the perfect follower, "Boneyard". And until the end we have six more MDM hymns leading us to long winter days. Tuomas vocals and the music, melodic, sometimes fast, sometimes a little doom, match perfectly, over a bed of keys, synths, furious riffs and atmospheric moments. References to Amorphis or Insomnium are inevitable, but without disregard for these excellent bands, yet for sure I prefer Wolfheart!
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   Wolfheart - Boneyard (live)

Felo De Se - Fidelis In Se (EP 2017) 8/10

A recent gem discovered on the net. Felo De Se is Joachim Kinet, a one-man band from Belgium that plays strong guitar oriented melodic death metal. The strange name (hail Wikipedia) is an old legal term meaning a person who commited suicide, but listening to this I can't be farther from that. Along the five songs on the EP, the guitar sound leads the way with everything else supporting efficiently. Also to be noted the good vocals, the last instrumental song and some nice intros and acoustic moments. All I can complain is the short duration and the lack of real drums. Being a bands edition, this EP has a very limited number of only 100 copies, so hurry up!
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   Felo De Se - Fall of Ikaros (Official Lyric Video)

Sinheresy - Domino (2017) 7/10

Another Italian band that has a female and male vocals, in duet? Yes, but with its own signature. Started in 2009 as a Nightwish cover band, soon they got a proper direction. The music is not as powerish as Nightwish, but still symphonic and melodic, more in the line of Within Templation. Domino is the second full-lenght, to be released on April 7th and mastered by the well known Mika Jussila. It's a good and homogeneous album, with interesting songs, and quite good vocalizations, specialy Cecilia Petrini. Prefered song: Believe. Less appreciated: the modern male vocalization of My Only Faith (precisely the first album video).
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   Sinheresy - My Only Faith (Official Video) HD

Fearrage - Resistance (EP 2016) 7/10

Resistance is the first release for this recent Finnish band. And what they play? A mix between midtempo thrash, groove and some metalcore, with aggressive vocals and accented guitars. Among the 6 EP themes and 22 minutes we get all these flavours. Resistance is more thrash while Blood of the Innocents touches metalcore but with an interesting guitar work. More Than Meets the Eye is a melodic groove (and my favorite song), acting as visiting card for the band. The remaining songs maintain the same level and subgenres. Good professional music to headbang but without injuring the neck!
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   Fearrage 3. More than meets the eye

Don't Drop The Sword - Into The Fire (EP 2017) 8/10

Here it is a new unsigned German band with a curious name that plays an energetic and melodic Power Metal. To me, it reminds HammerFall's beginning, so an auspicious career can be expected. Despite the youth, these brothers know how to write epic songs, both music and lyrics. The fast Death Or Glory starts the EP, followed by the title theme, a little slower and tempered with some growls and excellent leads. The Rise Of Neith speeds a little bit, maintaining the melodic touch, and, then, the awesome Memories, a slow that could rival with Glory To The Brave. And the epic song with the band's name ends quite well the EP, appealing to live shows. An excellent start, looking forward for more!
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Saor - Guardians (2016) 9/10

I couldn't leave this album, received recently, without my review. Saor is the awesome Andy Marshall mission and Guardians is the third album.The music is quite an atmospheric Celtic Folk with Black Metal roots that immediatly teleport us to the vast isolated Highlands of Scotland. The 5 songs, each around 10-11 minutes, are rich in details and variations, with many layers including subtle keys and bagpipes. All these create an exquisite emotive ambient, few times cut by some black vocals. And suddenly, after 56 minutes, the magic voyage ends and it's time to play it again. Let us be with William Wallace: Scotland is Free!
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   Saor - Hearth ("Guardians" - 2016)

Myrkgrav - Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen (2016) 9/10

Pure Norwegian Folk Metal with no additives. Myrkgrav is a one-man project, Lars Jensen, that recorded all instruments and vocals, with the help of some guests. The inspiration for the music, lyrics and graphics comes from the local folklore. The music is a perfect blend between folk and metal, much more appealing than just adding folk instruments to metal songs. In some parts it reminds me Falkenbach or Windir. Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei anne (meaning "Thank you and farewell; times have changed") is the second album, 10 years after the first one. Despite the enigmatic title, I do hope not to wait so long for the next album. In the 14 songs, 64 minutes, there are no weak parts, just pleasure for our audition. Currently available as digital, a physical CD will soon be available.
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   Myrkgrav - Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen (full album)

Blame Zeus - Theory Of Perception (2017) 8/10

Just coming the awaited second album from this Heavy Rock Portuguese band. Maintaining the same line of 2014 Identity, this one shows a more mature and evolved band. The heavier side concentrates on the first 3 songs and Miles (the 9th), while the remaining are good rock songs with some interesting variations. As in the previous album, the highlight is Sandra Oliveira's vocals, to me one of the strongest female vocals in Portugal. All instruments follow perfectly also with several remarkable exquisite leads. Nice album, well deserved to have international recognition.
   Blame Zeus Facebook
   Blame Zeus - Miles (official audio)

Sons Ov Omega - Reign (2017) 8/10

Hell, new, good and original stuff. Sons Ov Omega is a new band coming from Sweden and Reign is the first album, released some days ago. The music is an imaginative Melodic Black Metal with some Prog, Gothic and Viking. Having different musical preferences, the five members have succeeded in forming a common ground, from there several directions are defined. Some influences can be traced, like Edge of Sanity or old Opeth, even some Moonspell. All songs are good and with a proper flavour, anyway Pandora and Brainwave Zero got my preferences. An excellent surprise worth to be checked.
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   Sons Ov Omega - Pandora (Official Lyrics Video)

Walk In Darkness - In The Shadows of Things (2017) 8/10

Walk In Darkness is a new italian band/project composed by 5 anonimous members dressed as monks with hidden faces and Nicoletta Rosellini (Kalidia vocalist). The music is a good gothic Metal made at the measure of Nicoletta's excellent vocal skills, far from improvised as stated on the press release. With such an aura of mystery, the sense of melody is permanent, well supported by keys, and frequent in crescendo good guitar work. The songs, as well the meaning for the chosen faceless scenario, reverts to melodrama, human condition and destiny. The perfect song to identify the band and its philosophy is Heavy Wings of Destiny, the album starter and the first video produced, quite good! To be checked, specially by fans of Epica and Within Temptation.
   Walk In Darkness Facebook
   WALK IN DARKNESS - 'Heavy Wings of Destiny' (feat. Emiliano Pasquinelli)

Huldre - Tusmørke (2016) 7/10

Those who are waiting for a typical Folk Metal album, may be surprised, as Huldre is more a Folk band with some Metal elements added here and there. Coming from Denmark and sung in local language, Huldre is a six-piece of competent musicians, including violin, flutes, shawm and hurdy gurdy, suporting a clean female vocalist. Tusmørke is the second album, composed by 9 well constructed and produced songs, that gather influences on local folklore, most on a midtempo registry. Favorite songs: Hindeham and Tæring, but for a Metal guy, I feel the lack of the joy and energy normally present in Folk Metal.
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   Huldre - Tusmørke [Full album]

Cellador - Off the Grid (2017) 8/10

What a good return. For 6 years without hearing from this American Power Speed Metal act and 11 years after the last (and debut) album, Enter Deception, here is a new album, to be released March 10th by Scarlet Records. No intro here, hostilities start immediatly with an excellent Sole Survivors, good guitars, efficient rythm section and competent vocals. With the exception of a couple songs less achieved, all others are quite fast and melodic, reminding me some Dragonforce. Original? No. Good fast Power Metal? Hell yeah!
   Cellador Facebook
   CELLADOR - 'Shadowfold' official lyric video

Atlas Pain - What The Oak Left (2017) 9/10

Finally the epic Folk friends of Atlas Pain, from Italy, are releasing the first album on March 10th by Scarlet Records. I reviewed the first EP some time ago (scroll down to read it) and at that time, I considered this the 2015 band revelation. Besides the inclusion of The Storm and Ironforged from the previous EP and Annwn's Gate from the Demo, there are 7 new songs that maintain the same epic symphonic Melo Death Folk level of excellence. The last song is a long 12 minutes virtuous instrumental that could easily be on the score of a huge adventure movie (Jurassic Park comes to mind). Overall, an excellent, cheerful and exquisite album worth to be checked! And, of course, you have to see the video below ☺
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   ATLAS PAIN - 'The Counter Dance' official lyric video

Ethmebb - La quête du Saint Grind (2017) 9/10

Even after 40 years listening most exclusively to Metal, I keep finding new bands that can surprise me. Ethmebb is such a case. This French quartet released an excellent and quite diverse first album. The music is a prog symphonic death power metal, with epic proportions and a few surprising touches of disco. Ufff, my longest definition for sure. This concept album, mostly sung in French, follows the amusing story of Tathor that lost its bad grindcore and goes on a quest. With songs nominated Orlango Blum, GPS - Gobelin par satellite or Bruce Lee mena l'Amour, the scenery is set for fun. I particulary like the symphonic parts (the intro is great) and guitar leads. With the melody and diversity on these long songs, this is a rare case of an album that I could play everyday!
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   Ethmebb - Lost My Grind (Lyrics Video with No Lyric)

Kreator - Gods of Violence (2017) 9.5/10

We're having good Thrash releases these years but this last Kreator is, by far, the winner. Five years after the excellent Phantom Antichrist, Mille Petrozza rises the level of exigence for Kreator's 14th album and delivers a killer album of unbounded Thrash. The first excellent news is the direct entry for #1 on German charts, that shows Metal is stronger than ever (at least in some countries). After some auditions, what comes is a fast, efficient and melodicThrash, with superb guitar works, super leads and catchy refrains. Here and there, some Power, Melo Death and more mainstream Metal can be traced, which contributes to 11 themes with no flaws. Impossible to highlight tracks, but just check all official videos to have an idea of this original, refreshing and heavy as hell album! [after classification revision, updated to 9.5/10]
   Kreator Facebook

Wolfchant - Bloodwinter (2017) 9/10

Four years after the excellent Embraced by Fire, here we have another masterpiece from these German Pagan Folk Metallers. To me it is the best year's release to date. Among many pagan melodic death folk bands around, Wolfchant is quite unmistakable, due to epic and melodic hymns, some in English while others in German, the two unique vocalists (harsh and operatic but perfectly conjugated) and the harmony between all instruments. While prefering Das Bollwerk (this song defines EPIC), there isn't a weak theme in all the 50 minutes. Well worth the wait, this band is Metal quality assurance!
   Wolfchant Facebook
   Wolfchant - Das Bollwerk (Official Lyric Video)

The Nighstalker - A Journey in Hell (2017) 8/10

Last year I knew and reviewed The Nightstalker and Sercati, both musical sides of Steve Fabry's dark tale about the fallen angel named The Nightstalker. And the story continues. After the death of her love Miss Ombrelle on the last chapter, now our main character goes to rescue her in hell. Besides the catchy lyrics that should be read, the music maintains the good melancholy and melodic Black Metal line, as in previous chapters, with plenty of keys and exquisite guitar solos. Definitively one of the most original Black Metal projects around!
   The Nightstalker Facebook
   The Nightstalker (toys box version)

Pimeä Metsä - No Blood, No Glory (2016) 9/10

I was waiting for this album, after meeting these awesome brothers at Leyendas del Rock 2016. Spain has so many great Metal bands of all types, but for sure Pimeä Metsä is among my favorite. Playing a galloping and energic Viking Folk Metal, No Blood, No Glory, the second full-length, is a collection of eight warrior chant anthems, very headbanging, and two good instrumentals. Besides Thunder God and Nothing Can Stop Our Strike, the first videos, Call to Arms deserved to be highlighted. Looking forward to see the band alive again!
   Pimeä Metsä Facebook
   PIMEÄ METSÄ - "THUNDER GOD" (Official Lyric Video)

Aether - Tale of Fire (EP 2016) 8/10

New band to me, received the contact recently. Aether is a new Polish band, formed in 2015 and the Tale of Fire EP is the first work. The music is a good Melodic Death Metal with a strong keyboard presence and nordic influences. The EP includes, besides an instrumental orchestration intro, only three songs, but quite appealing and well constructed. My favorite is the title theme, containing even a short delicious folk chorus. This young band is on the correct path to be widely recognized. The only complain? Too short! Let's wait for an album!
   Aether Facebook
   AETHER - Tale of Fire (Full Album)

H.O.S.T - Bastard of the Fallen Thrones (EP 2016) 8/10

H.O.S.T is a recent Portuguese band, formed in 2016 and composed by well known members of Head:Stoned and Cycles, with a Dutch vocalist. The music is mainly a dark midtempo Metal, quite well played and sung. After a spoken intro with the EP name, the next two songs define the band's style, with melodic vocal lines over a pair of hoarse guitars and an accomplice rhythm section. The Bastards Call speeds a little bit just before arriving to IMO the best song, Catharsis by Carnage. A good start, let's wait for an album! The dark artwork, as well as the metal box package, are impressive, and only by themselves worth to be in any Metal CD collection.
   H.O.S.T Facebook
   H.O.S.T - Catharsis by Carnage

Surturs Lohe - Seelenheim (2016) 9/10

When I first heard this album, I felt transported to the court of king Ecbert, when received the visit of the vikings leaded by Ragnar Lothbrok (am I a Vikings TV series fan? Sure). Seelenheim is the 4th album of Surturs Lohe, a German band that perfectly mixes Viking Black Metal with Medieval Folk. Sung in German, besides clean and black male vocalizations, there are plenty of soprano female vocals on solo and duets. This together with cared flutes and acoustic moments help to create quite nice atmospheres. A last remark to the awesome limited box edition, with a bonus CD, patch and poster. Definitely a band to see alive!
   Surturs Lohe Facebook
   SURTURS LOHE "Unter der Linden" (Lyric-Video)

Taken - Taken (2016) 9/10

Another new band to me but, well, this first album was released just some weeks ago. Coming from Pamplona, Spain, Taken is composed by seven elements including two keyboard players, and they play fast Power Metal reminding me the best Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, Viper with Andre Matos or Helloween (Keepers age). These brothers know how to compose good music, making an excellent connection between all instruments and David Arredondo's vocals. Among all the catchy fast songs, of which the first video Wormy Brains is a fine example, the long and interesting less speedy Afterlife and The Slaughter Of The Last Cursed are worth to be checked. With this quality, for sure we will hear a lot more about Taken!
   Taken Facebook
   Taken - Wormy Brains [Official Music Video]

Saurom - 20... al mundo de los sueños (2016) 8/10

Fiesta! Fiesta! Fiesta! In the past I had a good feeling about the Spanish band Saurom, but didn't know the them quite well. After attending a huge show at Leyendas del Rock (started at 03h40!), last August, I was quite impressed. The music is high quality and varied Folk Heavy Metal with some celtic influences, well served by excellent musicians and perfectly matched vocals. This special edition live album, on 2 CDs and DVD, is the concert celebrating a successful 20 years career. Among the 27 songs, perfectly captured with faultless sound and including several guests, actors and a permanent chorus, all hits are present. A must buy! Looking forward to see them again, Metal party assured!
   Saurom Facebook
   SAUROM "Fiesta" (Videoclip)

Vanvidd - Vanvidd (2016) 9/10

I found this band while surfing the internet and... hell, this is good stuff! Vanvidd is a non-signed recent band coming from the cold Norway and, as you may deduce from the title, this is the first album. The music is Folk Melodic Black, but with many layers where we can find fast and catchy rhythms that pulls to headbanging, efficient discrete keyboards, constant variations, delicious folk bits, some viking, cinema score approaches and well balanced vocals. While enjoying (a lot) all seven songs, first listeners will be surprised by the funny 4th song "De tre bukkene bruse" (if Equilibrium plays Folk Black it would may sound like this ☺). One of the best newcomers of the year!
   Vanvidd Facebook
   Vanvidd - Gamle Erik

Cavemaster - Negro Culto (2016) 7/10

Portugal has a long tradition on Black Metal (old Moonspell, Decayed, Corpus Christii, Filii Nigrantium Infernalium and many more). And here it is the most recent Portuguese Black Metal project, from my friend Mário Rodrigues (also Karbonsoul and Projekt Noir). Negro Culto is an EP with 4 songs that is already available as digital and a limited edition of 50 cassette tapes will be released on 24 December. The music? Good old school Black Metal with several atmospheric moments, well played and sung. The beginning of Negro Culto is someone digging on a windy night, I imagine on the mystical Sintra's mountain (near where Mário and I live). The lyrics are in Portuguese and relate to anti-humanism, nihilism and anti-religion. Black Metal fans should check this one!
   Cavemaster Facebook
   Cavemaster Lyric video negro Culto

Iron Mask - Diabolica (2016) 8/10

Iron forged in the Heavy Power cauldron of the late 90's, that's the first impression when hearing the new album from Dushan Petrossi's main band. Iron Mask was particularly noticeable in Portugal as the vocalist chosen for the last tour was neither more nor less than Artur Almeida (Attick Demons) that had the task to replace Mark Boals, and for sharing Ramy Ali (drums) with Freedom Call. Diabolica is the sixth full-length from these Belgians and gathers a quite good number of melodic, powerful and catchy songs where Petrossi's neoclassical influences are left for a couple of songs. Diego Valdéz (Helker, ex-Skiltron and almost all Argentinian bands) does a nice job on vocals. Of course that, in 75 minutes, not all songs are at the same level (The First and the Last is a little greasy), but overall it is quite a good album and an excellent buy for those who like True Metal.
   Iron Mask Facebook
   IRON MASK - I Don't Forget, I Don't Forgive (2016) // official clip

Metallica - Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (2016) 6/10

Much has been written about the last Metallica, helped by an efficient and innovative marketing strategy. Once being a fave band of mine, I stop caring with the Load album. No one can deny their influence in Metal. Even with the last albums, there are some advantages in going mainstream, pushing some people to Metal. After hearing the album several times, what did I retain: generally midtempo boring thrash, few nice riffs and rhythms (Atlas Rise, Moth Into Flame, the new version of Lords of Summer), Lemmy deserved a much better tribute song (but the video is awesome), the "Black Metal" theme is ridiculous and the 3rd CD has some decent covers (but not Iron Maiden's). In conclusion, Hardwired is audible, but far from exceptional or original. There are so many bands playing better Thrash and Metal.
   Metallica Facebook
   Metallica: Murder One (Official Music Video)

Freedom Call - Master of Light (2016) 9/10

2016 is also being an excellent year for Power Metal. Almost as the same time as last HammerFall, here is the 9th album of these nice Germans that defined Happy Metal, a subgenre of Power Metal characterized by the bright side of life (I can't resist to quote Monty Python), fast and extremely melodic songs, powerful choruses and thrilling riffs. Of course Chris Bay's singing, with precise metric verses, helps to make Freedom Call unique. This album couldn't start better than with the powerful hymn "Metal is for Everyone" (I would love to see this played, with the proper sound level, on a nursing home), well followed by the first advance single "Hammer of the Gods". In total, there are 12 songs spreading along 50 minutes of happy power, without weak parts or fill-ins. Last notes to the efficient production and the strange amateur cartoonish cover.
   Freedom Call Facebook
   FREEDOM CALL - "Metal is for Everyone" (Official Video)

HammerFall - Built to Last (2016) 8/10

Long is the career of one of the European Power Metal exponents. Starting in 1997 with the excellent Glory to the Brave, well followed by Legacy of Kings, soon the band got a place on the True Metal podium. Built to Last is the 10th full-length, the first to Napalm Records, and follows the recovery initiated with the previous (r)Evolution. So, all the factors used for the band's success are here: catchy melodies plenty of chorus, several fast songs, few midtempo songs and a slow, twin guitars and the unmistakable vocals of Joacim Cans. Nothing too original, but still a quite solid album that will praise to all Heavy Power Metal fans, with a handful of songs great to be played on shows. "Heavy Metal running through our veins", hell yeahh!
   HammerFall Facebook
   HAMMERFALL - The Sacred Vow (Official Lyric-Video) | Napalm Records

Solamnia - The Legend Saga (2016) 9/10

Solamnia is the project from Mika Lumijärvi, Enthring drummer until 2012. A couple of years before leaving Enthring, he started to write more personal stuff involving a mix of styles like folk, power, death, black, industrial, all over a symphonic epic base. After a first EP in 2014, here is the first album. Besides all those styles, in perfect proportions, what highlights more is the cinematographic sense of music, with several spoken intros and quite well interpreted by the growls of Ilkka Valkonen and the crystal clear vocals of Veronika Paschenko (also responsible for band's logo and album cover). Only available as digital, this is a great album, 62 minutes of excellent and varied music with many surprising moments.
   Solamnia Facebook
   Solamnia – Valhalla

Algos - Amongst Monoliths (2016) 7/10

Maybe a year ago I heard one song from this band and kept a good mind reference. Algos is Jurre Timmer's band, from The Netherlands, where he does everything: vocals, guitars and programming. Jurre is working well, Amongst Monoliths is the second album, following the first album released last year and two 2 EPs released on 2014. The music is a quite good melodic death, with emphasis on guitars and a continuous keyboard track on the background, thus giving a symphonic touch. What I like most: the melodic lines, vocals and guitars, and the Pale Monolith instrumental. What, in my oppinion, could be improved: some songs could be shorten, and drums programming.
   Algos Facebook
   Algos - Amongst Monoliths (FULL ALBUM)

Finsterforst - #Y0L0 (EP 2016) 9/10

First, two infos: Finsterforst is on my top bands for a long time, and normally I hate covers of non metal songs, specially pop. After an almost perfect Mach Dich Frei in 2015 (also reviewed here) it is time for decompression before a new album. This quite long EP (more than 40 minutes) includes four original songs, also a corageous set of covers including Miley Cyrus, Michael Jackson, and two German bands, one hip hop and the other punk, and ends with a traditional irish drinking song. The four original songs are good, including typical Finsterforst elements but funnier. And, for the first time, two songs in English. With this EP, it's difficult to be indifferent, or you love it, or you hate it. I'm happily on the first group.
   Finsterforst Facebook
   FINSTERFORST - Auf Die Zwölf (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Drakum - Trollmin (EP 2015) 9/10

The Spanish answer to Finntroll. My friends from Barcelona do like trolls and trolls parties. After the first album, Torches Will Rise Again, here is the most recent EP, released in September 2015. 5 on 6 songs with troll their names does identify the purpose. The music is an irresistible Folk Metal with Death vocals, plenty of chorus and a good coordination of all instruments (including flute, bagpipe, violin, keyboard, two guitars, bass and drums). It's impossible to be in a bad mood when listening to this. Cover and lyrics are quite funny, but the video is awesome with all members going to a troll cauldron ☺. Looking forward to see the band live, again, party assured!
   Drakum Facebook
   Drakum - Troll Recipe (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Skálmöld - Vögguvísur Yggdrasils (2016) 10/10

Almost all bands on my top list released albums this year, and here is another one. And again, a candidate for best album of the year. The music is a unique combination of Viking, Folk, Death, Symphonic, different Icelandic vocals, choruses, exquisite melodies, guitars, keyboards, as only these Icelanders know how to mix it. The result is a superb and varied album, from beginning to end. The band asked the fan club members to record some HEY HEY screams and the amazing result is on the Útgarður song, as well as all names on the booklet. Much respect for that! My other highlights: Niðavellir (well chosen for the first official video) and Drink, the Alestorm cover on the digipack bonus CD.
   Skálmöld Facebook
   SKÁLMÖLD - Niðavellir (Official Lyric Video) | Napalm Records

Equilibrium - Armageddon (2016) 10/10

2016 is being a fantastic Metal year and here is another masterpiece, the result of a two-year mature composition process by mastermind René Berthiaume. Following the line started by Apocalypse (on Erdentempel, the previous album) and the concern about mankind, this is even a darker album. Instead of maintaining a popular and easier style, René is not afraid to evolve and to explore new sounds (as keys notes on Born to Be Epic). Of course the music is still Epic Melodic Death and quite symphonic. Another improvement, after The Unknown Episode on Erdentempel, is now the inclusion of three songs in English, two being the first album videos, Prey and Born to Be Epic. And don't loose the digipack edition with the instrumental bonus CD. Again, an album that is spinning a lot since its release.
   Equilibrium Facebook
   EQUILIBRIUM - Eternal Destination (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

A Constant Storm - Storm Alive (2016) 7/10

A Constant Storm is the project of Daniel Laureano, Moonshade guitar player. In this first album, self-released, he composed all songs, most lyrics and plays all instruments (except drums). Moonshade mates Ricardo Pereira helps with vocals and Afonso Aguiar with drums programming, recording, producing and mixing. And the result? Most parts are good, between melodic black and melodic death (Nexus, Crushing Skies), while others are a bit repetitive (Pale March, Flow of Time). Anyway, it's a good first album!
   A Constant Storm Facebook
   A Constant Storm - Pale March (Official Video)

Nothgard - The Sinner's Sake (2016) 8/10

The mastermind behind Nothgard is no other than Dom Crey, also with Equilibrium for a couple of years. One month after the excellent Equilibrium's Armageddon, here is The Sinner's Sake, the third album for our German friends. Quite a productive period for Dom! The music, as the previous Age of Pandora, is a good and varied Melodic Death, the way I like it and coming to mind old Children of Bodom! Interesting that the songs less appreciated by me are the first two (besides intro), but then Iron Sights (with Jeff Loomis, Arch Enemy), Death Unites (with Robse, Equilibrium) and the others raise the bar. Jen Majura (Evanescence and ex-Equilibrium) also joins on two songs. Overall, it is a very headbanging and enjoyable album, that I'm proud to have in my collection!
   Nothgards Facebook
   Nothgard - Draining Veins (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)

Sabaton - The Last Stand (2016) 8/10

Maintaining the 2-year interval between originals, here is the 8th album of one of the most important Power Metal bands these days. The Last Stand continues the military history theme from previous albums, now related to heroic stands across the centuries (since old Greece to the Soviet Afghan War) and continents. From our friendly Swedes the music is as expected, nothing new here: short 3 to 4 minute fast songs, good dual guitar work and efficient rythm session. I may highlight Blood of Bannockburn and its bagpipes background and Rorke's Drift with a nice guitar intro and leads. Exploring the band's success, there is a variety of editions including one with a 30 cm aluminium Sabaton tank.
   Sabaton Facebook
   SABATON - Blood of Bannockburn (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)

Kambrium - The Elders' Realm (2016) 9/10

The Elders' Realm is the third album for this Power Melodic Death German band and my first contact with them. Not knowing the previous works, this is a good example of my most appreciated Melodic Death Metal type: epic, powerful, symphonic, plenty of solos, excellent combination between both guitars and keyboards, quite good death vocals also mixed with some clean vocals. Gee, have I to highlight songs? Hard task, all are homogeneous in quality and melody, while different in composition, some are more MDM, others are more Power. The two videos, links below, are a fine example of this band's quality. Another album that is going to my mobile and that will play many times!
   Kambrium Facebook
   KAMBRIUM - Shattered Illusions (official lyric video)

Be'lakor - Vessels (2016) 9/10

The aussies did it again. Be'lakor is an Australian band and Vessels their fourth album, the first with the major label Napalm Records. The music is Melodic Death but with tons of Progressive elements, full of surprises, insane variations and leads, harmonics, rythms and chorus, thus defining a very identifiable sound. On top of everything, an excellent sense of melody on all songs. With the exception of the intro and the typical short instrumental, all themes have from 6:50 to 11:00 minutes, but without a minimal boring part. Excellent production. This is an album that could spin all day long and a must to all Melodic Death fans that enjoy Insomnium and other similar acts.
   Be'lakor Facebook
   BE'LAKOR - The Smoke Of Many Fires (Official Lyric Video)

Aephanemer - Memento Mori (2016) 10/10

After the excellent 2014 instrumental EP Know Thyself (still on my mobile!), where Martin Hamiche, a young guitar master from Toulouse, France, played all instruments, here is the first album with a proper band. I was wondering how Aephanemer's instrumental Melodic Death Metal would be with a female growl vocal and the result is great. Of course we still get the awesome Martin's lead guitar work (early Children of Bodom and other Finnish MDM acts influences) and perfect compositions, but Marion's vocal adds a new dimension. There are no weak songs here, each with its own flavour. My fave is Memento Mori, also with some nice bonus clean vocal (to repeat in the future?). The album ends quite well with the 7:28 instrumental Gilgamesh, like an hommage to their roots. Kudos also for the exquisite original cover. For sure one of the best albums of the year!
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Attick Demons - Let's Raise Hell (2016) 10/10

On the twentieth anniversary of the band, the present is for us! Four years after the successful Atlantis, what have we here? For sure a must to all Heavy Metal fans. Due to the excellence of the nine opus, it's quite hard to highlight songs. Besides Ghost (last year's single), for sure the varied title theme, enriched by a set of guests, including Chris Caffery (Savatage, TSO) and Ricardo Pombo (Cruz de Ferro), will be perfect alive. The oriental influenced Dark Angel, with Juan Zagalaz (Alhándal) and Liliwhite Lilith (Inner Blast) as guests, is another highlight. Finally the appealing cover artwork, from Pedro Sena Lordigan, based on Sartor, the Motorhead cousin band's mascott. And proud for Portuguese Metal, not only for sports conquests. The album is out on August 12th, pre-orders available!
   Attick Demons Facebook
   Attick Demons - Ghost (new song) live

Blame Zeus - Identity (2014) 8/10

Blame Zeus is a Heavy Rock band from Portugal, led by Sandra Oliveira, vocals and singing teacher. She had an excellent participation in the last Heavenwood album, which got my attention to his band and its first and unique album until now. Despite being less Metal for my preferences, Identity is a high quality album, with good songs, well played, mixed and produced. Of course Sandra's vocal skills is the highlight of the album. In conclusion, it can appeal to everybody, and suitable also for family reunions or with non Metal fans.
   Blame Zeus' Facebook
   Blame Zeus - Accept (Lyric Video)

Burning - Nightmares (2016) 8/10

Is there a place for more old style Heavy Metal bands? Of course as soon as they play the music we love. Burning is a recent band hailing from The Netherlands and winks to Metal classics such as Sabbath, Priest or Maiden. Nightmares is the first album and includes the 2014 first single and creepy sexy video Something is Lurking in the Dark. Here we listen to some honest Heavy without a fancy production, good songs, good players and efficient vocals. My highlights: the title theme, the three parts of Anthem for the Lost Souls and, of course, the single. Looking forward for next work.
   Burning Facebook
   Burning - Something is Lurking in the Dark (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO) HD

Moros Nyx - Revolution Street (2016) 9/10

Here is a new band playing some good old Speed Metal with european roots. Moros Nyx comes from Chicago, USA, and delivers a solid and quite good first album. Back in the eighties, I was a Speed Metal fan (still one of my favorite Metal subgenres), so this album reminds a lot those epic days. It's a mix between Speed and Power, varied, melodic, fast, great hymns and compulsory headbanging for sure. There's even place for a ballad with a female guest vocal just to avoid neck injuries before the excellent last two tracks. Definitely a good surprise, an album to be checked and a band to follow.
   Moros Nyx Facebook
   Moros Nyx Revolution Street 8 Child of the Dream

Sercati - In the Shadows of Sidewalks (EP 2015) 9/10

In the Shadows of Sidewalks, as subtitle indicates (Tales of the Fallen Part 3) is the third chapter of a conceptual story about a fallen angel integrated with mankind and fighting against Lucifer. Besides these three chapters and the parallel project The Nightstalker, reviewed next, this story already includes two books, everything from the mind of Steve Fabry. This EP is an awesome piece of melodic and catchy Black Metal. The first two songs prepare the coming of two of the best riff-based Black Metal songs ever heard. To get into the mood, I strongly advise to read the lyrics while listening.Only one defect: the EP lasts for only 17 minutes.
   Sercati Facebook
   Youtube Natural City Channel (Sercati)

The Nightstalker - All for a Promise (2015) 8/10

Following Sercati's story (see previous review), this parallel project concentrates on the perspective of the main character, the fallen angel called The Nightstalker. All For a Promise is the third chapter and concentrates on the reaction of our hero to the death of her friend. Maintaining Sercati's style, melodic symphonic Black Metal with killer riffs, the melancholy is transported from the story to the album, giving a darker feeling. Let's wait for the fourth chapter wondering what will happen.
   The Nightstalker Facebook
   If I had never felt - The Nightstalker

Masters of Disguise - The Fine Art of Aging Gracefully (EP 2016) 9/10

It seems that I came back to the time when US Speed Metal had its splendor. Masters of Disguise is a German band that, in the same style, surpasses most of those old acts. Born from the reformed Savage Grace line-up gathered by Chis Logue (original founder) to play live in 2010, they got the band's name and the infamous police Knutson after the first Savage's album. After two excellent albums in 2013 and 2015, here we have a just hommage to those bands. This EP includes excellent covers from Omen, Heathen, Metal Church, Agent Steel, Savage Grace and Cirith Ungol, performed by high skilled musicians and a superb vocalist. If you ever enjoyed any of the mentioned bands, you must dig Masters of Disguise!
   Masters of Disguise Facebook

Misteyes - Creeping Time (2016) 8/10

This is the first album of Misteyes, an Italian band quite strange just by looking to the promo photos. Coming from Turin, they play a Symphonic Death/Gothic Metal, quite theatrical, or, according to the band, Light and Dark Metal. This concept, lightness/darkness, is transported to the music by alternating and overlaping the two vocals, Denise's clean and opera vocals and Edoardo's harsh and screams. The music is also influenced by this concept, mixing fluid keyboards and orchestrations with death guitars and rhythm compositions. The overall result is quite surprising and varied, we get 64 minutes of mult-layered music that must be listen several times to get all details. A band worth to be checked and followed!
   Misteyes Facebook

Greedy Black Hole - Self (2016) 8/10

A Melodic Death Metal band from Taiwan?! And quite good, another gem found on the net! Self is the second album and makes quite an impression. The music is Melodic Death tinted with some classical Heavy and some Metalcore. The first reference coming to mind is Arch Enemy, but there's more. The female vocalist, Yvonne, mixes growls and clean singing, all instruments fit perfectly and these guys know how to create great songs. But what I highlight is the permanent guitars work, quite technical and melodic, sometimes unexpected and unusual in a Melo Death band. Another new band to follow!
   Greedy Black Hole Facebook
   Greedy Black Hole - Dream On Offical Music Video

SuidAkrA - Realms Of Odoric (2016) 10/10

With albums like this, that's why Metal is so much important to me. Being quite active, here it is the twelfth album from SuidAkrA, Arkadius Antonik's band. And what we have here? Melodic Death? Checked! Folk? Checked! Awesome compositions? Checked! Excellent vocals, both male (harsh and clean) and female? Checked! And a solid concept? Checked! All songs are based on characters of the Odorik fantasy comic book "The Wall of Doom" by Kris Verwimp, that also made the album artwork and wrote all letters. This album is in close connection with the artwork project Realms of Odoric, just check their Facebook (link below). Again, it is hard to highlight some songs, the sequence is perfect, but Pictish Pride is irresistible and resumes what SuidAkrA is about!
   SuidAkrA Facebook
   Realm's of Odoric Facebook
   SUIDAKRA - Pictish Pride (2016) // official clip // AFM Records

Panychida - Haereticalia, The Night Battles (2016) 9/10

Another good surprise found on the net and new to me. Panychida comes from the Czech Republic, the name meaning memorial service. Its music is mainly Pagan, but also with some Black, traditional Metal, Folk and acoustic, all served with a melodic and atmospheric base. This album is their fourth and since the first notes, it will hold your attention. While having an homogeneous quality, each song has its moments, and I just love the melody lines of Josafat (The Gathering) and both instrumental songs. A last compliment for the very limited edition, including also the previous album in cassette, a signed postcard with wax seal, a funeral ribbon and a sticker. Definitively a band to follow!
   Panychida Facebook
   Panychida - Josafat (The Gathering) | official lyric video 2016

Dark Oath - When Fire Engulfs the Earth (2016) 9/10

Dark Oath is a new ambicious Portuguese band that plays an epic Melodic Death in the vein of Arch Enemy but also some Wintersun influences can be traced, specially on the long melodic constructions. In this first album we got 10 songs, all lasting between 5 and 10 minutes, all fast and melodic. Sara Leitão effortless death vocals leads the way, well assisted by a duet of guitars and efficient rythm section, and a permanent symphonic background. There are no weak parts, it's 63 minutes of great Melo Death, very well ended with the longest song Brother's Fall.
   Dark Oath Facebook
   DARK OATH - The Tree of Life (OFFICIAL TRACK)

Silent Delusion - In State of Delusion (2016) 7/10

Silent Delusion is a Portuguese band created by Gonçalo Antunes back in 2004, but without records until now. In 2016, some of their original songs were recorded with the collaboration of four female vocalists, all with proper styles: Célia Ramos (Mons Lvnae, Red Rose Motel), Diana Rosa (11th Dimension), Rute Fevereiro (Enchantya) and Sara Freitas (Monolith Moon). In State of Delusion is the interesting result of this project, mainly symphonic gothic metal, but, due to the guest contributions, is quite diverse. The songs explore quite well each vocalist characteristics. My favorites are Come Fly Away With Me and Return of the King, both sung by Rute and where its amazing voice add an extra power dimension.
   Silent Delusion Facebook
   Silent Delusion - Come Fly Away With Me feat. Rute Fevereiro

Cruz de Ferro - Morreremos de Pé (2015) 8/10

Three years after the first EP, the awaited album of the most Epic Heavy Metal Portuguese band is finally available. The album motif (we may add, the band's motif) is the rich Portuguese History; for those who don't know, we are one of the oldest countries in the world. Starting by the excellent Pedro Sena Lordigan cover, the album's name (translation: We Will Die Standing), and all songs themes, we smell history. The unique Ricardo's vocals, always in Portuguese, the epic sound, the catchy refrains, makes this is a great album and a deserved verification for those who don't know. Morreremos de pé e a lutar!
   Cruz de Ferro Facebook
   Cruz de Ferro - O Decepado

Sunless Rise - Unrevealed (2015) 8/10

I was introduced to this band by a friend and here we have another fine example of the Russian Metal Excellence. Originally from Siberia, they are now based in S. Petersburg. Unrevealed is the band's first album, self-produced, available as digital and as limited digipack edition. And it causes quite an impression. The music is a Modern Melodic Death, somehow like a cross between Children of Bodom and Soilwork. The vocals, in English, alternate between Modern Clean and Death, the insane guitar and keyboards layers add so much variation that we need several auditions to learn all details. Definitely a band to follow!
   Sunless Rise Facebook
   Sunless Rise - Reborn

Camaxtli Yoxippa - Uacúsecha (ep 2015) 8/10

Internet allows for these things, to find such unknown yet quite interesting and original bands. Camaxtli Yoxippa comes from Mexico and drinks its inspiration from the Prehispanic culture. The music is a mix between Death and Folk Metal together with a large pack of Mexican folklore, flutes and prehispanic instruments. Interested? You should. This EP, as the previous one, are available through Bandcamp. Among the Ep's five songs (two instrumentals), we get good Death with interesting guitar lines, lots of folk and acoustic instruments, and nature sounds. The only complain? It ends too fast.
   Camaxtli Yoxippa Facebook
   Camaxtli Yoxippa - Canción de Tierra

Lords of Black - II (2016) 9/10

When I heard this for the first time, I thought to myself "Heavy Metal is far from being dead, it's more alive than ever". Lords of Black come from Madrid, and, has suggested by the name, this is their second album. And what a masterpiece! First, the Ronnie Romero vocals: the Chilean that was recently invited to the new Rainbow tour lineup, owner of an impressive and strong voice and perfect English accent, already compared to Dio. Then the experient and efficient colleagues, all well known musicians from other groups. And the 13 songs? Perfect and catchy Heavy Metal, sometimes fast, sometimes midtempo, always melodic and great compositions, ending with an excelent "Lady of the Lake" Rainbow cover. The japanese edition includes also a fantastic Innuendo Queen cover. This band well deserves to be among the best in the Heavy Metal Podium.
   Lords of Black Facebook
   Lords of Black - Merciless (Official / New / Studio Album / 2016)

Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (2016) 10/10

A new AA album? Enough to get me chills, one of my long time fave bands. And the Swedes did it again, 3 years after the acclaimed Deceiver of the Gods. So what have we here? The typical AA Melodic Death sound with strong guitar lines and harmonic solos, solid rhythm section, the unmistakeable Johan Hegg vocals, choruses and several hymns worth to be included on live shows. And there are no weak songs or even song parts. But nothing new here from the vikings, you may ask? Yes there is. This is their first concept album, the story of a man whose fiancee was kidnapped, throwing him to a quest. When he finally finds her, it's too late, she (played by a weak Doro Pesh) doesn't care about him anymore. So a new experience is to read the story while hearing the 11 songs and be transported to an epic time. Hoping to see another amazing live show.
   Amon Amarth Facebook
   Amon Amarth - At Dawn's First Light

Inner Blast - Prophecy (2016) 8/10

Prophecy is the first album from this underground Portuguese Symphonic Gothic Metal band. Quite expected for some time, finally it was released a couple weeks ago. All care put in the song writing, recording, engineering and production is well noticed. Lili's wide range vocals drives the songs, since the strong Insane to the emotive Tears slow, well supported by all the band members. An essential part of Inner Blast's sound is the efficient Monica's keyboards alternating with Aquile's "Quinito" guitars and its elaborated rhythms and solos. While maintaining a proper sound, all Evanescence and Within Temptation fans should check this.
   Inner Blast Facebook
   INNER BLAST "Insane" [Official Lyric Video]

Heavenwood - The Tarot Of The Bohemians (2016) 9/10

After Moonspell, Heavenwood may be the most known international Portuguese band. With a career started in 1992 (under the name Disgorge), the first album, Diva, came in 1996, and immediately got attention by its intricate and melodic Gothic Metal. "The Tarot of the Bohemians" is their fifth album, and is an awesome work, being globally homogenous and simultaneous heteregenous on each song and details. To the permanent lineup, several known guests added important contributions, like Daniel Cardoso (Anathema) and Franky Constanza (Dagoba) on drums, André Matos on bass (besides engineering) and Sandra Oliveira (Blame Zeus) on vocals. The album is based on the tarot cards of Papus, each song dedicated to a card. My preferences: The Pope and The Wheel of Fortune, with its exquisite guitar solos, and The Hanged Man with Sandra's powerful vocals. Having this tarot 22 cards, we probably will be blessed by another masterpiece.
   Heavenwood Facebook
   Heavenwood - The High Priestess 2016

Bifröst - Mana Ewah (2016) 9/10

Wow, another 2016 excellent album, so far being an awesome year. Bifröst is an Austrian band that plays an irresistible and melodic Pagan/Viking/Folk Metal, on the border of Melo Death. I wonder why aren't they better known, the quality is there. One of the reasons is probably that they sung in German, even all booklet is in the same language. It may be good in the Austrian-German axis, but elsewhere is more difficult. This fourth album, Mana Ewah, follows the same style as the previous ones, inviting everyone to headbang with perfect melodies, chorus and folkish details, cut by some death vocals, and permanent and excellent guitar riffs. All songs fit smoothly, hardly to highlight any, maybe Tobendes Herz. The only complain is the total length: only 40 minutes.
   Bifröst Facebook
   BIFRÖST - Tobendes Herz (Mana Ewah)

Myrath - Legacy (2016) 9/10

Myrath is a Tunisian Progressive band known for adding several folk oriental influences. First a curiosity, the band's name means Legacy in Arabic, and what a better way to commemorate this fourth album. Legacy gets where the previous 2011 Sands of the Times ended, but adding a more carefully production, much more symphonic elements like violins and orchestrations, and still maintaning Myrath's identity and the delicious Arabic influences. Of course the strongest song is Believer, well chosen for the high quality video. Looking forward to see these guys alive, on tour with Symphony X!
   Myrath Facebook
   Myrath - Believer (Official Music Video)

Persona - Elusive Reflections (2016) 9/10

Reviewing two Tunisian bands on the same day?!Wow! Persona is a recent band that just released this first album. The music is an excellent Symphonic Metal, with some Progressive and adorned here and there with interesting oriental touches. Despite being self-produced, the result is quite good. Both guitars and keyboard add a continuous melodic flux, well supported by drums and bass, and on top the beautiful voice of Jelena Dobric, a Serbian young lady. The album starts with the oriental strings of Somebody Else, that immediately situates the band, followed by the awesome melodic hymn that is Blinded (first video). There are no weak songs, each one has its own flavour and surprises., and the album ends perfectly with one of the best ballads heard in years. Sold on Bandcamp, there is a small limited printed edition of only 100 copies, so hurry up!
   Persona Facebook
   PERSONA - Blinded (Official Video) [HD]

Sailing To Nowhere - To the Unknown (2015) 8/10

To The Unknown is the first album of a young and dynamic band from Italy. Since I know the band, several lineup changes have occurred, two since the album release. The music is a soft Power Metal, quite melodic. The two powerful vocals, both male (Marco Palazzi, ex-Kaledon) and female, create interesting duets. The band name, scenario and themes goes around the sea and sailing. Among some powerful songs, like You Won't Dare and Sailing to Nowhere, there are several well balanced ballads. A final note to the good production and great artwork. For sure a band to follow.
   Sailing to Nowhere Facebook
   SAILING TO NOWHERE - 'Sailing To Nowhere' official video

Spartan - The Fall of Olympus (2015) 9/10

Hell Yeah! What an awesome first full-length. Spartan is a Dutch band that plays an energetic Melo Death with some Power influences. The band's main theme is the Greek story and mithology (no? kidding, starting by the band's name). All songs are good, one after another delivering great and varied guitar rhythms and solos, an efficient death vocals and all mixed together with a good rhythmic section. Highlights: Breaking the Chains of Olympus (with Henning Basse as guest), the fabulous Elysium and Eurydice's Son (with guest Hadassa Kosten, TheName's vocal). While maintaining a proper identity, not easy on the Melodic Death field, those who like Amon Amarth will for sure like Spartan.
   Spartan Facebook
   Spartan - Elysium [OFFICIAL VIDEO HD]

Manegarm - Manegarm (2015) 9/10

Here it is the new album of this prominent Viking Folk Swedish band. And what a better way to comemorate 20 years than releasing an hell of an album, to me one of 2015's best. Long are gone the Black Metal influences, with exception to Manljus, curiously the very first Manegarm song, never released. This is pure emotive Viking Folk, full of melodic tones and appealing choruses. The music suggests conquests, sung by glorious warriors seated by the fire on a cold night. By opposition to previous album, on this one most of the songs are sung in Swedish. Nominating the best song is an easy task, the superb cavalry Odin Owns Ye All. Another highlight is the last song, Mother Earth Father Thunder, Bathory's cover, with the beautiful voice of Jennie Tebler, Quorthon's sister.
   Manegarm Facebook
   MANEGARM - Odin Owns Ye All (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Beorn - Time to Dare (2015) 8/10

Russia has many great bands and Beorn belongs to this list. By the band logo we may think of piracy and effectivelly most of the lyrics are related, but the music has so many variations, that is hard to catalog. As suggested on their Facebook page, Modern Symphonic Power Metal may fit most of the time. On this first album, all songs are extremely well played, Greg's clean vocals integrates perfectly and the production is sharp. Starting with one of the three instrumentals on the album, immediatly we navigate to Riders of the Sky, one of the Power Metal hymns. But then the band's versatility comes with a metal disco and a slow, any of them could win a non metal song contest. With so many bands around, it's not easy to be highlighted, but Beorn got it.
   Beorn Facebook
   Beorn - The Chest of Deadman

Marius Danielsen's Legend of Valley Doom - Marius Danielsen's Legend of Valley Doom Part 1 (2015) 9/10

Who's Marius Danielsen? That was my first question when first heard about this project in a conversation with my good friend Artur Almeida (Attick Demons vocal) and one of the guests. Well, this almost unknown Norwegian fellow is the vocal/guitar of Darkest Sins. Again, never heard. Ten years ago, Marius had the vision to create an ambicious Power Metal Opera and started to write the concept album, divided by chapters. The result? Well, this Part 1 is an excellent Symphonic Power Metal album, one of the year's good surprises. The comparison to Avantasia is immediate but the Valley Doom album is for sure better and stronger than the last Avantasia's albums. With a huge guest list, most well known musicians and vocals, all contributions fit together like a nightmare puzzle. Impossible for any Melodic Metal fan to dislike it.
   Marius Danielsen's Legend of Valley Doom Facebook
   MARIUS DANIELSENS - Legend of Valley Doom // Raise Your Shields Feat. Mark Boals // Crime Records

Web - Everything Ends (2015) 8/10

One of the oldest Portuguese Metal bands, created in 1986 by two Tarantula's roadies. Web's style is an uncompromised Thrash Metal tinted here and there with some Doom and Speed. Despite its age and regular concerts agenda, Everything Ends is only its third full-length. The mature lineup, stable for more than 10 years, is well patent in the songs construction and conjugation between Fernando's vocals, rythm section and fine Filipe's and Victor's guitars work. Just check the video below with my fave song on this album and you'll be involved in the Web. Last words for the tuned production and excellent artwork, based on old paintings (Brugel and Bosh).
   Web Facebook
   WEB - Taking The World (Lyric Video)

Rocka Rollas - Pagan Ritual (2015) 9/10

A month ago the world saw the triple attack of the active and multifaceted musician Cederick, with the releases of the new Rocka Rollas, Blazon Stone and Breitenhold records. For now, the Rocka Rollas review, its most known project. Composed by 8 powerful, melodic and fast themes, with lots of choruses and some celtic and folk parts, this last album could be easily placed side by side with the best Helloween or Blind Guardian works. And the work for Rocka Rollas 2016 album already started.
   Rocka Rollas Facebook
   Rocka Rollas - Demigod

Breitenhold - The Inn of Sorrowing Souls (2015) 8/10

Here is another of Ced's veins, this one more speedy and less power. Contrary to Rocka Rollas (review above), for this project Ced sings and plays all instruments. While preferring Breitenhold's first album, this one is still a good work, plenty of fast and melodic songs. Vocal lines could be better, but the music will please any True Metal fan. Favorite songs here: Mirrors of Life (very Blind Guardian), the instrumental Return to the Secret Worlds and A Soulless Tale.
   Rocka Rollas Facebook (includes Breitenhold)
   Breitenhold - The Inn Of Sorrowing Souls

Blazon Stone - No Sign of Glory (2015) 8/10

There are not 2 without 3, so we say in Portugal. And here is the third Ced's vein. As anyone can guess by the project's or the album's names, here it is a Running Wild alternative team. For this album, as usual, Ced played all instruments. For vocals, he got the help of Georgi Penchev (Mosh-Pit Justice) and what a good job he has done, with a similar tone to Rolf Kasparek's. Musically, the album includes the typical fast songs with catchy solos and sung-along choruses, with no weak tracks. Like the previous Return to Port Royal, this one is better than any Running Wild album in the last 20 years.
   Rocka Rollas Facebook (includes Blazon Stones)
   Blazon Stone - A Traitor Among Us (from upcoming new album!!)

Atlas Pain - Behind the Front Page (EP 2015) 9/10

This amazing new band hails from Milan, Italy, and plays Epic Folk Metal with some Melo Death and Symphonic. Noticeable are also influences from epic movies scores. For those who like Equilibrium or Wintersun, Atlas Pain is definitively a band to check and you won't regret. The intro invites us to be served by a fest of galloping guitars (also some Dragonforce here and there), harsh vocals, great melody lines, beautiful folk moments, cinematographic orchestrations, the only problem being that it ends too soon. I can't highlight a song, maybe the "The Storm" the closest to Equilibrium. I wonder why they haven't been approached by a record company; to me this band is the best newcomer of the year!
   Atlas Pain Facebook

Neoplasmah - Auguring the Dust of a New Era (2014) 8/10

After being knocked down by a recent live show, here is the review of their last album. The Portuguese band Neoplasmah plays an excellent technical death metal, supporting a cosmic and human kind powerful message. Fronted by the angelical Sofia Silva, when she sings is like the doors of hell open wide. Angela Gossow (former Arch Enemy vocals) who?! But this extreme vocal fits perfectly in a very strong and obsessive rhythm section and a great twin guitar work. Looking forward for new shows and the next album!
   Neoplasmah Facebook
   Neoplasmah - Stargate to Infinity (lyric video)

See You Leather - Back To Aleph (EP 2015) 7/10

This young band (great name!) was formed three years ago in Catania, Italy, and this is the first recorded work! Back To Aleph is not easy to categorize. Since the first song, more technical thrash, to the last song, more doom death, included are many interesting details and an efficient mix of all instruments, with particular emphasis to the guitars work. For a first work, not bad at all, maybe too doom to my taste and some punky vocal lines could be avoided.
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   See You Leather - I Am The Beast (Live @ We Rock Fest 2013)

Energy of the Elements - 03:30 Dehuman Rise (2015) 7/10

Energy of the Elements is an Italian band, founded in 2008, but only now here comes its first full-length, under the Underground Symphony label. Playing an "Italianized" Power Metal, the first reference coming to mind is Rhapsody of Fire, due to the fast and melodic games between the two guitars and keyboards, highlighted by choruses, in most songs. But there are also some progressive experiences as in Follow Me or Gloria Anima Mundi, or a touch of melo death and thrash, in Hiding Behind Shadows. The album includes several guests from other Italian bands. Resuming, it's quite an interesting first album, maybe my main remark is some flaws on vocals.
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   Hiding Behind Shadows - Lyric Video

Intrinsic - Nails (2015) 8/10

Intrinsic is a Metal band from California, that recently recovered and remixed this album, originally recorded in 1992 and that never saw the light of day. In America those days were not easy due to grunge rise. To name a style is a hard task, the principal may be american power / speed but hard rock, thrash, pure heavy, stoner, progressive are also present. With this in mind, we are pleased by 72 minutes of good and varied Heavy Metal, dot. Hearing the first songs, Jag Panzer comes to mind, but then Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Anthrax, even Iron Maiden, are invited to the party. All we have to pray the Gods of Metal for not letting this rust in the void.
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   INTRINSIC - On Gossamer Wings (OFFICIAL)

W.A.S.P. - Golgotha (2015) 7/10

Six years after the last album, Golgotha is the new full-length of this charismatic american hard rock band, marking the beginning of collaboration with the Austrian label Napalm Records. And this is a good album, for sure W.A.S.P. fans (where I'm not included) will love it. Crispy production, Blackie's vocals better than ever, good solo guitars and a mix of hard rock hymns with metal sentimental slows. But I miss some power, I find the album too soft and too american radio. My favorite song? The title theme.
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   W.A.S.P. - Scream (Official Lyric Video)

Machinergy - Sounds Evolution (2014) 8/10

Machinergy (great name) is a Portuguese Thrash Metal band hanging around since 2006. After the first album, Rhythmotion, in 2010, here it is the second chapter. Having a much better sound than the previous one (it can be found on YouTube), we are presented with a fast Thrash, aggressive vocals and good guitar lines completed by a dense rhythm section, sometimes nearly Death. Among the 43 minutes and the headbanging 10 songs, we also get some nice surprises like one song and several refrains in Portuguese, female choruses and a quite good instrumental.
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   MACHINERGY "Sounds Evolution" 2014 FULL ALBUM in video

Virgin Steele - Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation (2015) 6/10

Five years after the last full length, here it is the new work of Mr. David DeFeis, Edward Pursino and mates. As a curiosity, this album has three different covers for normal CD, special edition 2CD and vinyl (appealing to collectors?). And, boy, this album is long, around 79 minutes (and the bonus CD 73 minutes). The problem is that many of these minutes are just fill-in boring sequences and experiences, far from the Marriage or Invictus albums. Of course we have good typical Virgin Steele tunes, namely the first four. I enjoy a lot David's melodic vocals when he doesn't abuse the squeals, but these appear too often, as well as several unnecessary vocal effects. Edward's Pursino guitar is as good as always.
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   VIRGIN STEELE "Lucifer´s Hammer" (Official Lyric Video)

Powerwolf - Blessed & Possessed (2015) 10/10

Metal is Religion. This is the motto of one of the currently most charismatic Power Metal bands. Blessed & Possessed is the sixth full length and maintains the same formula of the successfull Preachers of the Night (2013). With an immaculate production, along the 11 tracks, all around 4 minutes length, we are blessed by the characteristic powerful Attila Dorn vocals, constant choruses, and the very own integration between guitars, keyboard and drums, that make the Powerwolf sound so unique. Besides these 45 minutes of awesome songs to sing and headbang, don't miss the Metallum Nostrum CD (special editions), with great unique (and raw) interpretations of 10 Metal Anthems. Glad to be blessed and possessed by Powerwolf.
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   POWERWOLF - Army Of The Night (Official Video)

Torchia - Ending Beginning (2015) 7/10

Do you like fast guitar-based death/melodeath Metal? Torchia is definitivelly a new band to check and follow. Hailing from Children of Bodom's country, the music goes beyond the melodeath scene and incorporates thrash, speed and interesting compositions. Just measuring from the three songs included in this self release demo, an interesting career is previewed. My favorite is the title song, a quite catchy fast thrash-death song.
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   Torchia - Nameless Story (from oNe demo)

Tengger Cavalry - Blood Sacrifice Shaman (2015) 8/10

Here it is one of the most original and exquisite Folk Metal bands in the world. Tengger Cavalry comes from China and are led by Nature Ganganbaigal, at the moment studying in New York. After two awesome albums, The Expedition (my first contact with TC) and Ancient Call, this album is the reedition of their first album, published in 2010. Not as accessible as the last two, it's an album that gains interest each time it spins. Included are virtuous guitar lines perfectly mixed with traditional mongolian musical instruments, horse tools and mongolian chants. Really unique!
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   Blood Sacrifice Shaman (2015), by Tengger Cavalry (Bandcamp)

Projekt Noir - Sky (EP 2015) 7/10

What? Joao Speedy is reviewing a non metal CD? Hell, yes but... Metal boundaries are far from being defined and this EP could be defined as Post Atmospheric Black Metal. This is the interesting project of a friend, Mario Rodrigues, taking care of all strings and keys. Whispering vocals and lyris, in Icelandic, are assured by Johann Orn from the Atmospheric Black Metal band Dynfari. In these only 17 minutes, a quite dark environment is set up, transporting us to cold, dark and windy lands. This could be played anywhere without annoying anyone. Looking forward to the album, later this year.
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   Projekt NÖIR Sjálfsmynd dauðleikans (official)

Munarheim - Stolzes Wesen Mensch (2015) 9/10

Munarheim is a Symphonic Folk Metal from Bavaria, Germany. Only this year I knew them for the first time and, holy shit, this is the best Symphonic Metal I have heard for many years. Of course I ordered both albums (2014 Nacht und Stürme werden Licht is also awesome), in very limited and awesome editions. This 500 limited edition, book format, includes 3CDs with normal, orchestral and instrumental versions, signed post-cards for each of the 8 members and a patch. And the music? Pompous symphonic, flute and other several folk details, lots of melody, continuous variations, black and clean vocals. Some parts reminded me Bal-Sagoth and Equilibrium. In conclusion, a must to check!
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   Munarheim - Stolzes Wesen Mensch (Lyric Video)

Horrizon - Dwelling Within (2015) 8/10

Another good surprise for current year, and another band that I didn't know. Dwelling Within is the second album for this Melodic Death Viking Metal German band. Though there are so many Melodeath band, Horrizon succeeds to find a proper place and sound. Balancing between harsher songs, like From the Abyss of Hell, and the slower Whispering My Name, it manages to have a proper sound, pleasing to both Amarth and Dark Tranquillity fans.
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   Horrizon - Last Masquerade

Speedemon - First Blood EP (2015) 7/10

Here it is the premiere of Speedemon, a thrash speed metal Portuguese band. Started in 2011, as usual with new underground metal acts suffered several member changes. Finally, persistence is rewarded with this First Blood. With less than 15 minutes, along the four songs speed is the word. Drinking influences mainly from thrash and speed, but also including some power guitars and death vocals, this is quite interesting and a promising premiere. White smoke, he have band!
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   SPEEDEMON Road to Madness

II Dawn - II Dawn EP (2015) 6/10

In 2013, Padova (Italy, where the medieval saint Anthony of Lisbon, or Anthony of Padova, is buried) saw the birth of a new symphonic band. II Dawn (II is 2 in roman numbers) is formed by two guitars, drums and the interesting doll face Sara on vocals. Bass and keyboard are assured by guests. Alter Ego initiates well the Ep, fast and melodic. Remaining songs are less catchy, though well constructed and maintaining the good vocals performance. While being an EP, I miss longer and more varied songs.
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   II Dawn EP - Teaser

Melodius Deite - Episode II, Voyage through the World of Fantasy (2014) 9/10

Probably the first band that I know from Thailand, a country that I love but unsuspected for Metal. When heard this for the first time I knew had to join this to my collection, and bought this and the previous CD (also quite good), signed, directy from the band. And this Episode II is an awesome album, pure Progressive Power Metal well adorned with an excellent neo-classical guitar work and efficient vocals. For references I may nominate Angra or Kamelot, but it's much more, almost 75 minutes of great songs (and some are really long like the 16 min Civilization or the 13 min Sailing Around the World). Besides many surprise bits along the songs I have to highlight the fabulous Land of Fantasy. Anxiously waiting for Episode III.
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   Melodius Deite - Land of Fantasy (Official Music Video)

Within Silence - Gallery of Life (2015) 8/10

Within Silence is a new Melodic Power Metal band coming from Slovakia. If you like Sonata Arctica or Stratovarius, this is definitively a band to look at. Gallery of Life is the first album and what a debut. After a short Intro, speed and melody fills the air starting with one of the strongest songs and official video Silent Desire. There are no weak songs in the album. While not maintaining the same speed, all songs are melodic, with excellent vocals, choruses and efficient players. Congratulations Brothers!
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   Within Silence - Silent Desire [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

Helloween - My God Given Right (2015) 7/10

Between 1985 and 1989, Helloween was my top band, but after Kay Hansen's departure, it never was the same. With Andi Deris, the happy Power Metal was somehow recovered, but still without the first years shine. And what about this 16th album? More of the same, some good expected songs, like Heroes or Battle's Won, some slows, some pop, some groove, the characteristic Andi's voice, but nothing new or far from last albums.
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Eldertale - Land of Old (ep 2014) 8/10

Good Melodic Folk Metal hailing from Ukraine. Despite existing since 2005, with some hibernations inbetween, only last year this first EP was released, in digital format. First notice is the small size even for an EP, only 17 minutes spread by three songs. The first one is a good fast folk melodeath song; the second, title-theme, has a long sympho intro (maybe too long, almost half the song) but continued in perfection; and the last song is more experimental, interesting but not so catchy. The band is currently finishing the first album, looking forward to hear it.
   Eldertale Facebook
   Eldertale - Land of Old (full EP)

Finsterforst - Mach Dich Frei (2015) 10/10

I'm a big Finsterforst fan since the first album, back in 2007. So I have always great expectations when a new album is coming. And this is a masterpiece, epic, powerfull and unique Folk Metal, or Black Forest Metal, as called by the band. And we, lucky listeners, are presented with a mix of quite different size songs, the longest (23 minutes) curiously with the band's name. On the first listening time we never know what surprise comes next, but always with all instruments layers mixed perfectly. Vocally speaking, in German as usuall, there is a balanced mix between growls and clean vocals. My highlight is, of course, the powerful Mach Dich Frei (Set Yourself Free), raising perfection and with a strong message well illustrated by a superb video. Finally, I do advise to see these guys alive, it's an unforgettable experience.
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   FINSTERFORST - Mach Dich Frei (Official Video)

Ironsword - None but the Brave (2015) 8/10

For a long time that we haven't new albums from this epic Heavy Metal trio, for sure one of the most representative Portuguese bands, headed by João "Tann" Fonseca. The impressive cover, figuring "Conan the Cimmerian" immediately warns us what we can expect from the band's fourth album. Drinking from classic old school Heavy, like Manilla Road and Omen, None But the Brave aligns 12 can't-be-more-epic songs that will make you headbang and sing along. Looking forward to see these Brothers alive!
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   IRONSWORD - Calm Before the Storm

Aethyr - Towards The Realm Of Nothingness (2015) 9/10

One excellent surprise! Aethyr is a new band hailing from Valencia, Spain, and not to be confused with a Doom Russian band or a Black Greek band with the same name. Despite the blackish logo, they play an epic Folk Melodic Metal and the first similar band coming to my mind is Frosttide but some bits here and there remind Wintersun. This first album, self produced and only digital by now, chains 8 themes quite well constructed, without missing an instrumental and long varied songs. Highlighting songs is difficult, maybe The Chosen One, Wanderer and Realm of Nothingless. The only defect? Some repetition on the ohh ohh choruses.
   Aethyr Facebook
   Album on Bandcamp

Ensiferum - One Man Army (2015) 8/10

Received recently the awesome tin can Deluxe Editon and was with some expectation that I put this to spin. After the somehow decepting 2012 Unsung Heroes and last year's Suomi Warmetal covers compilation, a positive inversion is needed. And the Finns are back to melodic and pompous albums. With a typical intro, immediately two powerful songs and the album title follows and will stay in everybody's ears. A small acoustic piece introduces one of the album highlights: Warrior Without a War.Time for more three typical Ensiferum songs and, as in the last three albums, a long epic theme. In conclusion, not as good as the melodic death folk standards defined on the first two albums, but better than the last ones.
   Ensiferum Facebook
   Ensiferum "One Man Army" (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Nox Aeterna - The Desperation Deal (2015) 7/10

Nox Aeterna is an unsigned melodic death metal band from The Netherlands. The Desperation Deal, recorded and produced by the band and released in March 2015, is a concept album telling the story of two brothers, Einarr and Jorund, and the demonic Ranaah. This new album starts quite well with a magnificent Restless Vigilance, honoured by the first video for the album. Following are more 48 minutes of fast and solid melodic death as I like: no exaggerated harsh vocals, a good pair of guitars, catchy riffs and efficient rhythm section. Questionless, a band to check and follow.
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   Nox Aeterna - Restless Vigilance )

Moonspell - Extinct (2015) 8/10

Before reviewing this last Moonspell's work I must declare two things: I'm not a gothic music fan, normally I don't pay attention to gothic bands; and Wolfheart is still on my top ten albums ever, at that time, 1995, it opened to me new horizons in terms of Metal vocals, before that I only listened to bands with clean vocals. And now the review of this album, that went number one in portuguese sales on its first week! Moonspell doesn't cease to surprise in each album and this is a hell of an album, quite melodic and with a superb production. All instruments, played with perfection, and Fernando's unique vocals, mix in a way that transport us to exquisite atmospheres. The album starts strongly with the two first video songs (love that Extinct solo), then turns to orient with Medusalem (with arabian strings) being this one of my favorites. Next songs are irreprehensible gothic typical Moonspell songs and the album ends with a small acoustic french song. The mediabook edition includes different mixes of four album songs as bonus, and a revealing 84 min Road to Extinction documentary. One last word to praise the fantastic artwork.
   Moonspell Facebook
   MOONSPELL - Extinct (Official Video)

Frosttide - Blood Oath (2015) 9/10

After the awesome Awakenig in 2013 (I head this album for sure more than 100 times, it's still im my mobile), expectations were quite high for these Finnish. And they got to surpass! Blood Oath is still Melodic Death Folk Metal, but all songs fit perfectly like a puzzle and even two small introductory instrumental pieces were in place. After an epic Prologue we get the fast title theme and the long and varied Gates of the Asylum, followed by the powerfull Fate Redefined, the first Official video. And delight doesn't stop with four more songs, including the epic 11 min New Reign. Looking forward to see Frosttide alive!
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Skálmöld - Med Vaettum (2014) 9/10

Iceland has only a population of less than 330000, but from time to time, a viking horde floods the World with Metal. Last Skalmold's opus, Med Vaettum, is a very fine example of excellent Viking Folk Metal. As always, it is sung in Icelandic, includes a powerful rhythm section, 3 guitars and keyboard that fit perfectly. All six members sing, giving many combinations and choruses. The theme for this album is the Four Seasons, each with two songs. And the music flows nicely, ending with two themes from the awesome concert with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (in the digipack edition). A superb album from a superb band.
   Skálmöld Facebook
   Skálmöld - Gleipnir (Official Video)

Lyria - Catharsis (2014) 7/10

Lyria is a recent metal band from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fronted by Aline Happ, one of the happiest smiles I've ever seen, they succeeded to get the $8000 USD on a crowdfunding for releasing the first album without a record company. And what is the result? Midtempo symphonic metal, some gothic, where the main focus is Aline's beautiful voice. Some influences from Evanescence and Within Temptation can be traced here and, as these bands, can attract many fans outside Metal. Catharsis is quite homogeneous, it's hard to highlight some songs. Anyway, my favorites are Jester (that turned the official video) and What do you want from me. Promising band!
   Lyria Facebook
   Lyria - Jester Official Music Video

Kaledon - Antillius: The King of the Light (2014) 8/10

Sometimes Heavy Metal is not only music neither individual stories. An album can tell a story taking us to other worlds, thus acting like a score for a movie. And there's no other country like Italy for these concept albums, being Rhapsody its greatest reference. Kaledon is another major reference. After the Legend of the Forgotten Reign on 6 CDs and the story of Altor, here we have another chapter from the kingdom of Kaledon. And like the previous albums, this one is filled with powerful, melodic and emotive songs, maintaining Kaledon as one of the top Italian bands. So sit, enjoy the album while reading the story and the lyrics, and dream with fantasy lands.
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   KALEDON - 'The Calm Before The Storm' official video

Obscurity - Vintar (2014) 9/10

My big fault not knowing this band until 2 months ago, and what I was missing! Obscurity is a quintet coming from Germany and plays a powerful and melodic Pagan Viking Metal. Vintar, their last opus is one of those CDs that can be heard several times in a row. Since the midtempo Naglfar or Vintar to the Dominium hymn (Amon Amarth be threatened!) or the fast Alte Zeichen, every song was a must, making this album almost perfect.
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Kalidia - Lies' Device (2014) 8/10

Italy is an awesome country when it concerns to Melodic Power Metal. And here we have a fine example. Kalidia started in 2010 and Lies' Device is its first album, printed and commercialized by the band. The music is a Heavy Metal quite melodic with some Power Metal here and there. The full range of Melodic Metal is covered, always with Nicoletta Rosellini's crystal voice, since the Shadow Will be Gone slow to the fast and powerful Lies' Device, my favorite and the first official band video. Great start, looking forward for the next album!
   Kalidia Facebook

The Storyteller - Sacred Fire (2015) 9/10

Knowing The Storyteller since the demos period and making its first interview for the "Sounds from Apocalypse" webzine, I always knew that we are facing a very special band. The style of these Swedes doesn't lie: high quality Power Metal with Folk bits.
After some year's hiatus, 2013 marked the comeback with Dark Legacy, also great but somehow a little darker than the previous albums.
And in late 2014 we have Sacred Fire, to be officialy distributed only in 2015. This masterpiece has everything to please all Metal lovers: powerful melodies, catchy chorus, slower emotive songs and faster themes. Produced by the band, the care in all aspects is well noticed, the aim being to create a perfect work. And they got it. It's hard to highlight some themes, starting with the speedy As I Die, the powerful hymn Sacred Fire, the fast Serpent Eyes (influences of old german speed metal) well followed by another speedy Sons of the North. Then another hymn, In Search for Treasure, ready to sing along in concerts. Coming Home, next, should be one of the best slow Metal songs in years. And back to speed with The Army of Southerfell and Course of the Seven Seas. Before ending this album we still are presented with two more powerful songs.
In conclusion, a perfect Power Metal mix, without weak themes, and all perfect for great live shows. This album will lead The Storyteller to the Power Metal podium and should be one the the best albums of the year. Sacred Fire is burning very well!
   The Storyteller Facebook
   The Storyteller - One Last Stand (Official music video)


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