Sounds from Apocalypse - Reviews 2018

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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!
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   ALIEN WEAPONRY - Kai Tangata (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   ALIEN WEAPONRY - Ahi Ka (Official Video) | Napalm Records

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.
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   AKTARUM - Trolls In The Fog [Official Live Video]
   Aktarum - Party Troll [Lyric Video]

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".
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   Sechem - An Epic Journey To Yam (feat. Yossi Sassi)
   Sechem - Horus & Seth (Official Video)

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!
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   Caixa Pensatória

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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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!
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   WOLFHEART - The Saw (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   WOLFHEART - Everlasting Fall | Napalm Records

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!
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   Gates Of Paris - The Cabaret
   Gates Of Paris Teaser (Remch Kerion)

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!
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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!
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   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.
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   Pagan Reign — Reborn
   Pagan Reign — «Once Again» 2018 full album

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.
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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!
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   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!
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   AEXYLIUM - Tales From Nowhere (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   AEXYLIUM - Revive The Village (Studio Diary 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.
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   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!
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   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.
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   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.
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   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!
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   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

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!
   Kylfingar Facebook
   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!
   Kalidia Facebook
   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!
   Skálmöld Facebook
   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 ☺
   Order to Ruin Facebook
   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!
   Elvenstorm Facebook
   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!
   Asterism Facebook
   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.
   Moonshade Facebook
   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!
   Powerwolf Facebook
   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.
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   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!
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   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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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 ☺
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   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.
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   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.
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   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.
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   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!
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   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.
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   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!
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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!
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   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!
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   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!
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   Judas Priest - Never The Heroes (Lyric Video)

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!
   Walk in Darkness Facebook
   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.
   Frozen Crown Facebook
   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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