Sounds from Apocalypse - Reviews 2019

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Crusade Of Bards - Tales Of Bards & Beasts (2019) 9/10

Crusade of Bards is a Spanish Symphonic Metal band, with nautical theme, and this album, released by the end of 2019, is their debut. The sextet includes an excellent clean female vocals, Captain Eleanor Tenebre, keyboards and cello, thus allowing for great orchestrations and quite good melodies. All songs are good, yet most remarkable are the ones with guests: the fast The Golden Vessel with Lady Ani (Last Days of Eden) and An Ocean Between Us-Part 2-Ulysses with Henning Basse (Firewind, MaYan). Unfortunately, due to the Covid19 pandemic, the european tour with Semblant and Secret Rule, that should have come to Lisbon, was cancelled, but there is a promise to come to Portugal as soon as possible. Unmissable for Nightwish and Within Temptation fans!
   Crusade Of Bards Facebook
   CRUSADE OF BARDS - The Golden Vessel feat. Lady Ani (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
   CRUSADE OF BARDS - An Ocean Between Us-Part 2-Ulysses' Cry feat.Henning Basse (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)

Inner Blast - Figment of the Imagination (2019) 7.5/10

After releasing the good Prophecy in 2016, this Portuguese gothic band took the road very seriously, being one the bands that most shows delivered. Monica on keyboards left in 2018 and the option was not to replace her. With the absence of keys and the evolution of vocals, Inner Blast's sound becames darker, less melodic and less gothic, more experimental and stranger. The highlight shifted now to Lili's flexible vocalizations, oscilating between angelical clean and demonical harsh, also with some spoken parts and even a song in Portuguese. Fave song is Throne of Lilith (premonic title ☺) with the best album riff, also quite good are the first three.
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   Inner Blast (Mankind) official lyric video
   Inner Blast (There's no pride in this war) official live video

Chaos Magic - Furyborn (2019) 9/10

I still have quite fresh the awesome Chaos Magic concert opening in Lisbon for Visions of Atlantis (report here). Chaos Magic is the project from the Chilean vocalist Caterina Nix, and this is the second album. The first self-titled album, when I first heard about Caterina, was a collaboration with Timo Tolkki, a reasonable album yet too symphonic. On Furyborn, the lady's creativity is fully exposed (she composed almost all songs and wrote all lyrics), as well as their excellent vocal abilities, either delicate, sensual or powerful. Nasson's arrangements and production are top. All songs have a matured proper identity and, if not enough, there are the participations of Tom Englund (Evergrey), Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, ex Lords of Black), Ailyn Gimenéz (ex Sirenia) and Mistheria (besides his band, Vivaldi Metal Project). The genre is still Symphonic Metal, but some applications of power, acoustics and electronics add diversity. Symphonic Metal fans can't miss this.
   Chaos Magic (Caterina Nix) Facebook
   Chaos Magic feat. Caterina Nix - "I'm Your Cancer" (Official Music Video)
   Chaos Magic - "Like Never Before" (Official Music Video)

Iron Kingdom - On the Hunt (2019) 8/10

Iron Kingdom is a quite active Heavy Metal band from Canada. Existing since 2011, they were competitors to Canada's Got Talent contest and, with the second album in 2013, were invited to the prestigious Keep It True festival in Germany. On the Hunt is their fourth album of originals and it will please all traditional metalheads. With two lead guitars, band founder Chris Osterman (also vocals) and the new lady axe Megan Merrick, and efficient drums/bass, all 9 songs will make you headbang and praise for the glory of Heavy Metal and Keep It Steel! They are coming to an European tour next March, unfortunately not coming to Portugal. If you can, go for it!
   Iron Kingdom Facebook
   Iron Kingdom - Road Warriors (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
   Iron Kingdom - White Wolf (Single - 2019)

Trollheim's - Trollheims (2019) 7/10

Trollheim's is a Folk Metal band from Quebec, Canada, created in 2010 and released the first demo in 2012. After several years hiatus, they decided to relaunch the band and compose new songs for this first album. The lyrics are about rage and its effects on society by the journey of the pathfinder in a land called Trollheims. When starting to hear the album, the first song after the intro didn't catch me, but the next two songs are pretty reasonable, Pathfinder with some Tyr influences, and Valley of Dwarves in the line of Ensiferum with some Bal-Sagoth. In the remaining songs, there's more Ensiferum but leaves me the sensation that there are too many ideas thrown and not properly explored, thus resulting an heterogenous album. The album is free to download, yet a contribution would be nice.
   Trollheim's Facebook
   Trollheims - Rainmaker (OFFICIAL)
   Trollheims - Valley of Dwarves (OFFICIAL)

Cathubodua - Continuum (2019) 9/10

A band with a strange name, that I had to read several times. And well worth to memorize the name of this Belgian sextet because their music is quite good, including violin and orchestrations. Founded in 2013, they released an EP in 2016 and, by the end of 2019 this first album is available. The music is a quite diverse Epic Symphonic Metal, with some classic, power, folk and other influences, imagine a high quality mix of Nightwish, Elvenking and Deathless Legacy. On almost 60 minutes, Cathubodua deliver 15 songs of diverse lengths, but all with special delights and superb female vocalizations. Besides the fast epic Hero of Ages and My Way to Glory, of mention are A Treacherous Maze, with an oriental feeling, and the 10 minutes Apotheosis. I'm sure we are going to hear a lot from this band.
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   CATHUBODUA - Hero Of Ages (Official Video)
   CATHUBODUA - Hydra (Lyric Video)

Eregion - Age Of Heroes (2019) 8/10

Here is the second album of an Italian Power Metal band that caught my attention with the release of Lord of War in 2015. Debuted as a cover band in 2012, soon they got the need for playing original material. The band's name was based on J.R.R. Tolkien's work and the lyrical themes are History, Viking gods and Fantasy. Age of Heroes, released by the end of 2019, marks the introduction of violin on their compositions, thus giving some folk to their epic Power Metal. The music reminds me their country mates Elvenking. During 45 minutes, all songs are quite headbanging with some catchy guitar work and addictive choirs (as in The Stolen Hammer or Hands of Aesir). I hope to see the band alive someday, it should be a great party.
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   EREGION - Wings Of Eagle (Official Lyric Video)
   EREGION - Hermod The Brave (Official Audio Track)

Signum Regis - The Seal of a New World (2019) 8.5/10

Here it is a new album from the most known Slovakian Metal band. The Seal of a New World is the 6th full-length of a successful career started in 2007 by the hand of Ronnie König (bass). For this album they got a new vocalist, Jota Fortinho from Brazil, found through his covers channel on Youtube. A curiosity, he also collaborates with the portuguese Heavy Metal act Nine Circles. And he does here a quite good performance, perfecly integrated with the Melodic Power Prog Metal of Signum Regis. Not too original but still quite a reasonable album. My fave songs: Fly Away (some Helloween here), I Always Go All-In, The City of God and A Memory, this last one with a Orden Ogan feeling.
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   SIGNUM REGIS - Fly Away [music video]
   SIGNUM REGIS - Never Surrender [Music Video]

Atorc - Under The Raven Banner (2019) 8/10

Atorc is an independent band from Suffolk, England (nice city name for such band ☺). Formed in 2012, they released in 2019 this second album. The music is a Heavy Folk Metal where the to the classic Metal lineup (two guitars, bass, drums), violin and keyboards are added. The songs, quite diverse, run between epic songs, as Under The Raven Banner and Shieldwall, folk songs, as Maidens Of The Shield, to more standard Heavy tunes as Voice Of The Storm and Hammer To Anvil. The first time I heard Atoc, I thought vocals could be better, but after seeing the band alive, I believe it was a problem of recording or mastering, Hellbard is an experienced and pretty decent vocalist. If you can attend an Atorc show, don't miss it, headbanging party assured.
   Atorc Facebook
   ATORC - Under The Raven Banner (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   ATORC - Shieldwall (2019)

Pagan Reign - Art of the Time (2019) 9.5/10

One of the best albums by the end of the year. After the excellent Once Again, released one year ago, here we have another uncompromised masterpiece from this Russian band. The Art of The Time continues where the previous ended, that is, Pagan Folk Metal with Melodic Black, plenty of references to slavian folklore and surprising changes. Immediately after the first audition, the album becomes addictive. While all songs are quite good, I must mention the delicious acoustic Voice Of The Legend that ends the album. Just one complain, its length is less than 40 minutes. Looking forward to see them alive, I hope they will go on tour and that we cross!
   Pagan Reign Facebook
   PAGAN REIGN — Art of the Time (FULL ALBUM)
   Pagan Reign - Cult of Blizzard and Fire

Metal de Facto - Imperium Romanum (2019) 9/10

Make Power Metal great again. This is one of the promo images from this new band, while I don't find any weakness in the actual Power Metal scene (Powerwolf, Sabaton, HammerFall...). This recent Finnish band born from a Sami Hinkka (bass, Ensiferum) and Esa Orjatsalo (guitar, ex-Dreamtale) meeting, joined later by members of Everfrost (vocals and keyboards) and Leverage (guitars). Being this supergroup constituted, the idea is to dedicate each album to a historical theme, beginning by the Roman empire. The result is quite good, starting by the well chosen band's name and logo, cover, and, of course, the songs. All songs are catchy, extremely well played and sung. Besides the videos below, I mention Naturalis Historia, the instrumental Colosseum and the epic nine and half minutes Germanicus.
   Metal de Facto Facebook
   METAL DE FACTO - The Conqueror (Official Music Video)
   METAL DE FACTO - The Ascending Of Jupiter (Official Lyric Video)

Celesti Alliance - Hybrid Generation (2019) 8/10

This is a recent band from the land of Heavy Metal, Finland, that praises the good old Heavy Metal from England and Germany. Having released two EPs (2015 and 2017) here it is their first album. The first synth notes of the first song, Celestial Law, may point on the wrong direction, as the music is closer to a mix of Accept and Helloween, with a little bit Judas Priest. The vocalist Valtteri Heisnaken (ex Crimson Day) has a tone remembering Kai Hansen, but IMO could improve the higher notes. Between the 8 songs, there are fast songs, like Broken Memories or the 10 minutes epic Hibrid Generation, slower songs like yhe hymn Solitude (one of the favorites), but there are no fill-ins, all are good. Definitively a band to follow!
   Celesti Alliance Facebook
   Celesti Alliance - Broken Memories (Music video)
   Celesti Alliance - Celestial Law

Crystal Viper - Tales Of Fire And Ice (2019) 9/10

A new album from one of my favorite Polish Metal acts! Taking the true Metal flag quite high, the band fronted by the extremely talented Marta Gabriel offers us a seventh album of originals, plenty of fast hymns. Two years after Queen of Witches, this Tales of Fire an Ice is a step forward and for sure it will please all metalheads with a wink to Power. Besides the emotive and characteristic Mrs. Gabriel vocals, that also composes all music and lyrics, all guitars, bass and drums just feed perfectly without unnecessary effects. While all songs have their interest, including the two slower songs that end the album, my favorite songs are One Question and Crystal Sphere. And don't you dare to loose a Crystal Viper show!
   Crystal Viper Facebook
   CRYSTAL VIPER - Still Alive (2019) // Official Music Video // AFM Records
   CRYSTAL VIPER - Bright Lights (2019) // Official Lyric Video // AFM Records

Scarleth - Vortex (2019) 8.5/10

Ukraine exports some good and diverse Metal bands. That's the case of Scarleth. Created in 2005 by Victor Morozov, they released 2 album (2011 and 2015) before Vortex. The music can be described as Modern Melodic Heavy Metal with strong keyboard influences and a symphonic touch. Since the begining, the band is female fronted and the actual vocalist, Ekaterina Kapshuk, is the fourth one. She actually does an excellent job here, being powerful and melodic when needed. All songs are different, generally fast, going from the folkish and sung in Ukrainian Ostannya Zorya to the almost powerish Pain Is My Name. Also a favorite song is Passion, with oriental influences. The guitar work is quite good, alternating with efficient keyboards. A good album, deserved to be checked!
   Scarleth Facebook
   Scarleth - Break The Chains (Official Audio)

Chur - Four-faced (2019) 8.5/10

Here it is quite an addictive and surprising Folk Metal album. Chur is a one-man band, Yevhen Kucherov, from Kiev (Ukraine). He plays all intruments, and they are many, looks like an eight members band, but perfectly synchronized and without excesses. All songs are typical folk pagan melodies, with irresistible rhythms, often with only folk instruments. Yevhen makes quite an impressive work with his epic clean singing, however some english lyrics may not be so suitable to slavian Folk. Quoting the artist: My music is for people who appreciate the legacy of their ancestors, love and respect nature. The album is available as digital download but a CD is expected by the end of the year.
   Chur Facebook
   CHUR - Goddess | Folk Metal
   CHUR - Four-faced | Folk Metal

Vision Divine - When All The Heroes Are Dead (2019) 9/10

Vision Divine is, for sure, one of the most important Italian metal bands. Created in 1998 by Olaf Thörsen (Labyrinth) soon Fabio Lione entered the band, with the first album released in 1999. The style is a high quality Power Progressive Metal, with excellent musicians and great vocals. A new album from this band is always an event, and the seven years well worth the wait. Fabio Lione, that left in 2018 was (well) replaced by Ivan Giannini (Derdian). The lineup includes the great Mike Terrana on drums and Alessio Lucatti (Deathless Legacy) on keyboards. Joining this stars constellation is Simone Mularoni (DGM), mixing and mastering, and Federico Mondelli (Frozen Crown), artwork. One of the best Power Metal releases of the year!
   Vision Divine Facebook
   VISION DIVINE - The 26th Machine (Official Video)
   VISION DIVINE - 3 Men Walk On The Moon (Official Lyric Video)

Blame Zeus - Seethe (2019) 9/10

Here it is the new album of, probably, the most important Prog Rock/Metal portuguese band. After the excellent Theory of Perception, in 2017, new goals were defined, and Blame Zeus got it with Seethe. While not being my favorite flavour (I'm more a Metal guy), the quality of musicians and the care on all compositions is evident, as well as the courage in adding new and intricate elements. In these, a special reference must be made to the exquisite guitar leads. Sandra Oliveira's vocalizations are stronger than ever, still maintaining her as one of the best female vocals in the national rock/metal scene. Curiously my favorite songs are the chosen videos, but all songs have a proper feeling, also pay attention to all messages in lyrics. It's about time for a good recognition outside Portugal!
   Blame Zeus Facebook
   BLAME ZEUS - No (Official Music Video)
   BLAME ZEUS - The Warden (Official Lyric Video)

Andy Gillion - Neverafter (2019) 9.5/10

The name Andy Gillion probably doesn't ring bells for most metalheads, but if I mention Mors Principium Est, now that's another story. This is one of the most important Melodic Death Metal bands and a favorite, of course when receiving an email from their lead guitarist/song-writer about its first self-released solo album, I have to check. Well, when hearing the album for the first time, at the 4th song I was already ordering the album, and that says all. This is a monumental piece of instrumental metal with great leads and melodies. A sad conceptual story allows for many sentimental guitar parts. Appearance guests include Jeff Loomis, Paul Wardingham and, on the unique song with vocals, Chistina Marie. Probably the best instrumental Metal album of recent years.
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   ANDY GILLION - Skyless (feat. Jeff Loomis / 66Samus) | (OFFICIAL PLAYTHROUGH)

Envenomed - The Walking Shred (2019) 8/10

First time I heard this australian band was with their EP Reckoning from 2016. At that time I was impressed with their approach to melodic thrash. The Walking Shred was released 3 years after and shows a mature, yet still quite unknown, band. The music is quite diverse, there are no identical songs, going from fast to slow quite easily. Sometimes it seems like if you put some Heavy Metal melodic choruses on top of Metallica riffs. On the local scene they already opened for bands like Anvil or Loudness, I believe it's about time to jump out of the "island".
   Envenomed Facebook
   ENVENOMED - Abandon Hope (2019) // official Clip // El-Puerto-Records
   ENVENOMED - Metal United (2019) // official Clip // El-Puerto-Records

Apotheus - The Far Star (2019) 9/10

Here it is another excellent release from a portuguese band. Apotheus is from the north of Portugal, Paços de Ferreira, started in 2008 but released just an EP in 2010 and the first album in 2013. The Far Star, first release for the swedish label The Black Lion Records, is a step ahead in the due recognition. The concept of the album is a story about the relation of humans and the cosmos based on the collision of two worlds. The genre is a mix between progressive and melodic death, varied and addictive. By alternating death and clean vocals and the precise insertion of all instruments layers, the story gains density and drama. Apotheus recently toured Portugal and Spain with Moonshade, and it is expected many more requests for shows. To hear and to buy!
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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.
   Noveria Facebook
   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.
   Antonello Giliberto Facebook
   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.
   Aria Facebook
   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!
   Stone Sovereign Facebook
   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.
   Waylander Facebook

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.
   Lemuria Facebook
   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!
   Salduie Facebook
   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 ☺
   Excalion Facebook
   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!
   Elvenking Facebook
   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!
   Finsterforst Facebook
   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.
   HammerFall Facebook
   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.
   Astralium Facebook
   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.
   Dreams in Fragments Facebook
   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.
   Elkir Facebook
   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!
   Vagrant Facebook
   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.
   Sinheresy Facebook
   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)

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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]

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)

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)


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