Sounds from Apocalypse - Reviews 2020

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Mornir - Dämmerstund (2020) 9.5/10

When I first heard this band, I was amazed by this epic pagan stuff and I immediatly ordered a signed CD for my museum. Mornir is a young band from Bavaria, Germany, playing an irresistible Pagan Folk Metal with some similarities to another band I do like, Munarheim. They started in 2011, with a first EP released in 2015 and Dämmerstund is the first album. Violin and some acoustic parts add a folkish sound while both guitars and rhythms add black and death, but always served with melody. The result is an album with quite nice short intro, interlude and outro, and inbetween 8 non stop headbanging songs. Theresa Mehringer, from Munarheim, adds female vocals in two songs. An excellent album and a must-follow band!
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   Mornir - Flammenschwinge
   Mornir - Lebenshauch (feat. Theresa Mehringer)

Overlord - Resurgence of the Obstinate Kind (2020) 7/10

Thanks to Internet, sometimes we find some good Metal surprises from exotic countries. Overlord is a young band coming from Bangladesh and it is a fruit of university, where the two founding members, Melodic Death Metal fans, met. After some rehearsals and first compositions they managed to gather a full lineup. Resurgence of the Obstinate Kind is their debut album, released without a record label, and already reveals a lot of work. Starting with an instrumental, soon the sextet develops its aggressivity. Alternating less melodic songs (Conspiracy) with more melodic ones (Desolation, Prophecy), I do like the conjugation of both guitars and keyboards. A good surprise and a bright future.
   Overlord Facebook
   OVERLORD - Prophecy (Official Music Video)
   OVERLORD - Anarchy (feat. Joey Concepcion)

Rosa Nocturna - Andele a bestie (2020) 7/10

Interesting project from the Czech Republic that mixes Gothic, Folk and mainly Symphonic Metal. With only three regular members, they count many guests on their albums. The fourth album, with the translated name Angels and Beasts, includes 21 guests as vocals and musicians. One of the guests, that already was on the previous album is Viktorie Surmova from Surma. The songs, all in Czech and mostly sung by several female vocals, are generally elaborated, melodic and quite varied, incorporating violins, harps, flutes and other folk/symphonic instruments. An English version is coming soon.
   Rosa Nocturna Facebook
   ROSA NOCTURNA - Lightbringer (Official video)
   ROSA NOCTURNA - Padám (home lockdown video)

Protokult - Transcending The Ruins (2020) 9.5/10

Their 2014 album was quite interesting, so knowing that this Canadian Pagan Folk Metal band released another album, I had to check. By allying good mood to excellent and versatile players and vocals, and getting many variations on their Folk Metal, Protokult made quite an ambitious album. One of the many surprises in the 69 minutes album is the Slavic Folk in some songs, maybe due to the vocalist Ekaterina Pyatkova, born in Kazakhstan. Owning an original and varied sound, this band will please, among many others, the fans of Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Arkona and Drakum. Looking forward to receive my signed CD, bought on Bandcamp day, also I would love to see them alive, party assured!
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   Protokult - Oy Kanada (Official Music Video)
   Protokult - Troubled Lad (Slainte Mhaith) OFFICIAL VIDEO

Horn - Mohngang (2020) 9.5/10

Despite a successful career started almost 20 years ago, this album was my first contact with Horn, my huge fault. Horn is a one-man band from Germany, Niklas, responsible for everything and just taking some support for drums. When starting to hear this eight full-length, sound of wind and nature with cello, wind that vanishes after the second track begins (the live video below), I was conquered. The music is a superb and melodic Pagan Black Metal, with some folk and quite varied. While being original, I may find some influences of Falkenbach and Primordial. This should have been on my 2020 Top Twenty for sure, I will not miss this band anymore!
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   Horn - Satt scheint der Sud der Tat
   Upstream Canals, a Ship's Bell Sounds

Dormanth - Complete Downfall (2020) 7/10

Another good band from the Basque Country, Spain. Dormanth was created in 1993, ended three years later, and was restored in 2015 with two original founders. In this second life, the band has been quite active. Complete Downfall, the fourth album, includes 11 tracks, where the quartet offers a midtempo semi-Melodic Death Metal, with incursions into Doom. The first reference that comes to mind is Amon Amarth, much due to vocals and some rhythms, and some parts reminding old Amorphis (as in Tragicomic Day). So, here is a less melodic version of Amon Amarth, that maybe doesn't click at the first audition, but with a rising interest as we are hearing more. Preferred song: Dark Times For The Gods Creation.
   Dormanth Facebook
   DORMANTH - Tragicomic Day (Official Video-Clip)
   DORMANTH - Beyond the Gates (Official Lyric Video)

Praise The Sun - The Art of Agony (ep 2020) 7.5/10

In my continuous search for new good Metal, I found many promising bands, some are now well known. Praise the Sun may be another confirmation. Not much information available about this young Polish band from Warsaw. The band is fronted by the exquisite Marcelina Janik that has a great vocal range, changing from harsh to clean easily. Riffs and solos are good as well as the rhythm section. The Art of Agony is the first EP and includes 5 songs, where only the last one is less appealing to me, more death and less melodic. Looking forward for the next work, maybe the confirmation.
   Praise The Sun Facebook
   Praise the Sun - Alive
   Praise the Sun - The Art of Agony

Æolian - The Negationist (2020) 8.5/10

Æolian is a Melodic Death Metal band coming from the Balearic Islands, Spain. After a good first album in 2018, here is the second one. When knowing the album title, I immediately remembered the other guy that left the White House. So all the album lyrics deal with the need for protecting our environment ("There is no second Earth"). The message is accented by the exquisite aquatic cover. The music is a quite good Melo Death, plenty of twin guitar work, good vocals, some inclusions of Folk and Black. By adding Spanish guitars, piano and violins, even a Brass Orchestra, on some songs, they become varied and quite addictive. An excellent album, mastered by Dan Swano.
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   Aeolian - Golden Cage (Official Music Video 2020)
   Aeolian - Momentum (Official Lyric Video 2020) | Black Lion Records

Royal Hunt - Dystopia (2020) 8/10

A historical and quite regular band in the field of Progressive Power Metal, releasing now their 15th album. Hailing from Denmark, the band created by the keyboardist André Andersen presents now an album, full of symphonic and rememberable parts, extremely well played and melodic. DC Cooper, whose voice is being revealing some age, still sings solo in three of the best songs, leaving four songs, in full or part, to invited vocals like Mats Leven or Mark Boals (nice duet with Alexandra Andersen on the slow I Used To Walk Alone, with a Queen smell). It's not the best Royal Hunt album, but a good one, that will please most Heavy Prog Power fans.
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   ROYAL HUNT - "The Art Of Dying" ft. Mats Leven
   Burn

Memories of Old - The Zeramin Game (2020) 9/10

Epic Power Metal as in the beginning of the century. This new band started as a one-man project from UK, Billy Jeffs, in 2017 and developed until the release of this first album in September 2020. During the way, he left the previous band, Nightmare World (unknown to me), and got a full lineup, including the polyvalent guitar/vocalist Tommy Johansson (Sabaton, Majestica, ex-ReinXeed, and many others). The music is quite good, like a mix of Freedom Call, Twilight Force and Rhapsody, very keyboard leading and extremelly melodic. I never paid too much attention to Tommy vocals before, but here he does a hell of a job. Another excellent 2020 album and a band to attend, when possible!
   Memories of Old Facebook
   MEMORIES OF OLD - The Land Of Xia (Official Lyric Video - 2019 Version)
   MEMORIES OF OLD - Some Day Soon (Official Lyric Video)

Medjay - Sandstorm (2020) 8.5/10

There's some time I haven't heard such a surprising new band from Brazil. Medjay is quite new, created by Samuka, an Historian passioned by the Egyptian History and Culture, a couple years ago. He got experienced guitar player and drummer, and finally an important piece by Youtube, Phil Lima for vocals and guitars. The music is a good Heavy Power, varied, here and there with some arabian bits. Suffice to say that the project mentor is Rafael Bittencourt (Angra). While the second album is being prepared (no live shows, so...new material) enjoy this one, where most songs are quite good, I only feel that Violate (Iced Earth cover as bonus) is a little out of place.
   Medjay Facebook
   Sandstorm - Medjay (Official Videoclip)
   MEDJAY - Death in The House of Horus (Single Version - Official Lyric Video)

Leaves' Eyes - The Last Viking (2020) 8.5/10

If you like Nightwish, or liked when they were more Power, you should check this band and this album. Not new in the neighborhood, they were formed by Liv Kristine Espenaes and where she sung until her divorce from the band leader in 2016. The previous album, Sign of the Dragonhead in 2018, was quite good and showed that the new vocalist, Elina Siirala, is an excellent replacement. The Last Viking follows the same inspiration on the Viking theme, now with the concept story of Harald III of Norway. All songs are epic and powerful, but I particularly like Serkland, the celtic vibe Varangians and the 10 min long title song. Miss Elina is so angelical and just perfect. If you can find it, buy the Artbook edition, the most beautiful I've ever seen.
   Leaves' Eyes Facebook
   LEAVES' EYES - Chain Of The Golden Horn (2020) // Official Music Video // AFM Records
   LEAVES' EYES - War Of Kings (2020) // Official Music Video // AFM Records

Squealer - Insanity (2020) 8/10

One of the veterans of the Heavy Power Metal scene. I reviewed their 3rd album back in 1999! Insanity is the 10 th album, and I'll start by the unusual cover, with a band photo showing the pride for the long career. As ever, their music is varied, with good Heavy/Power (Bad Tasting Sin, Insanity), but also gathering other influences, as Thrash (Into Flames, My Journey) or even Marylin Manson (nice rhythm on Salvation). The album ends perfectly with the Power ballad Black Rain, with several guests: Bernhard Weiss (Axxis) and Zak Stevens (Circle II Circle, Savatage) on vocals and Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex Helloween) on lead guitar.
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   SQUEALER - Black Rain (feat. Zak Stevens, Bernhard Weiss & Roland Grapow)
   Squealer - Bad Tasting Sin (Audio Video)

Injector - Hunt Of The Rawhead (2020) 8/10

No doubt that the main Spanish Thrash Metal reference is Angelus Apatrida, to me one of the best Thrash acts in the world. But Spain has other quite good bands in the genre, Injector being one. The quartet from Cartagena, Murcia region, started in 2012 and Hunt Of The Rawhead is their third album. The first two albums left a good impression, so I was waiting to hear this one. And the result is quite good, fast and aggressive Thrash, with some classical Heavy influences, namely riffs, and some nice melodies. I was trying to highlight some songs, but even those less appealing ones, if heard carefully, have good moments. Another band to see alive and keep following.
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   Injector - "March To Kill" (Official Video)
   Injector - "Dreadnought Race" (Official Video)

Medenera - Argento (2020) 9/10

The Santa Claus of Atmospheric Black Metal? Medenera is a one-man band from Italy and there isn't much information about him. Only that Argento is the third album, released on Christmas day 2020, and the first two allbums, Medenir (2018) and Oro (2019) were also released on 25th december. I now know which gift I will buy for me later this year ☺. In parallel he also sells some unique and nice towers in styrofoam, very limited editions (just check his Bandcamp). The music is mainly instrumental, more post-black, with many layers, choruses, just some female sentences and a few black growls, thus creating peaceful and ethereal atmospheres. A perfect album to appreciate and relax and not only for Metalheads.
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   Medenera frigida ventis I
   Medenera - Argentea III

Six Foot Six - End Of All (2020) 9/10

Six Foot Six probably doesn't ring a bell to most of you, despite this being already the second album, after an excellent The Sis Foot Six Project in 2018. But if I refer the mighty Falconer, some more bells are ringing. Started as a solo project by Kristoffer Gobel, ex-frontman of Falconer and Destiny, soon a band was born. The music is melodic Heavy with some high class Hard Rock, reminding Dio, Accept and, in some parts, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. The efficient and modern production accentuates Kristoffer's charismatic vocals as well as all instrument layers. End Of All is an excellent album for old school Metalheads, as for young newcomers. A band to follow!
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   SIX FOOT SIX - Welcome To Your Nightmare (Official Video)
   SIX FOOT SIX - The Last Days of Our Lives (Lyric Video)

Theragon - Where The Stories Begin (2020) 8.5/10

A newcomer to the Power Metal firmament. Theragon comes from Valencia, Spain, formed in 2018 and Where The Stories Begin is the first album. A warrior on the nice cover would point to Hammerfall's Hector, but the music is on a different direction, more to Gloryhammer's. After hearing it, three words help me define their music: Fantasy, Cinematography and Power. Besides Melodic Power, very keyboard based, some Folk and Metal Opera are included. A good first album, I just believe vocals with the non born english accent could be improved and the Rick Astley cover could be avoided. I'm expecting these Brothers to play in Portugal, soon or later!
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   Theragon - "Blazeborn" (Lyric Video)
   Theragon - "Drunk Dwarf Inn" (Official Video)

Attick Demons - Daytime Stories, Nightmare Tales (2020) 9.5/10

This album is a fine example of how Heavy Metal should be. The Portuguese quintet released one of the best classic Heavy Metal albums of the year and, in my oppinion, their best. Everybody knows that Artur Almeida has a vocal timbre similar to Bruce Dickinson, but in this work he exceeds what to be expected. Congratulations Brother! Both guitars, including the new member Dário Antunes, the Maidenish bass and powerful drums are also in perfect shape. While all songs are great, I must refer the almost Power ballad Hills of Sadness and the Folkish, in Portuguese, O Condestável. An assured presence on the Portuguese Heavy Metal Throne!
   Attick Demons Facebook
   ATTICK DEMONS - "The Contract" (Official Music Video)
   ATTICK DEMONS - "Hills Of Sadness" (Official Lyric Video)

Els Focs Negres - Els Focs Negres (2020) 9/10

When you join Portuguese well-known members or ex-members from bands like Filii Nigrantium Infernalium (Black/Thrash), Ravensire (Epic Heavy), Perpetratör (Thrash), Dawnrider (Doom), etc, and decide to sing mostly in Catalan, you get an idea of Els Focs Negres. The band name means The Black Fires, in Catalan. In this original project, the music is a blackened raw and epic Heavy Metal, well supported by blasphemic lyrics. The rhythm section imposes a galloping speed and riffs give the old school Heavy feeling. All songs have an identity, and a good Tank hommage, Turn Your Head Around, closes the album. Be prepared for a Heavy Metal Armageddon! Speed Metal Massacre!
   Els Focs Negres Facebook
   Els Focs Negres - Les Nits Grotesques (Official Video)
   Els Focs Negres "Focs Negres"

Starbynary - Divina Commedia: Paradiso (2020) 7/10

Here is another example of the profuse Italian Progressive Power Metal scene. But, by opposition to other acts, like Secret Sphere, DGM or Vision Divine, Starbynary is more progressive. Divina Commedia: Paradiso is the fourth album and concludes the ambitious trilogy dedicated to the masterpiece of Dante Alighieri. The songs follow exactly the series of concentric spheres surrounding the Earth, as in the book (don't forget, at that time Earth was the center of the Universe), and includes frequent quotes. Musically, I would mix 70% Prog, 10% Power and 20% theatrical. It's a good and emotive Progressive Metal album, not falling into long sleepy songs, but too much prog to me.
   Starbynary Facebook
   Starbynary - "Jupiter" (Official Video)
   Starbynary - "Stellae Fixae" (Official Lyric Video)

Vhäldemar - Straight to Hell (2020) 9/10

Missing Gamma Ray (last album in 2014)? Look no further and listen to Vhäldemar! This veteran band was formed in 1999 in Vizcaya (Spain), and Straight to Hell is already the sixth album. Served by excellent and experienced musicians, including the founder Pedro Monge on guitars and sharp production, and Jonkol on keyboards (also on Incursed and Orion Child). The vocalist is also a founding member, Carlos Escudero, whose timbre is very close to Mr. Power Metal, Kai Hansen). All album is quite good. For sure one of the best Spanish Metal bands and one of the best Power Metal releases this year. Impossible to loose their show next August at Milagre Metaleiro Fest, Portugal.
   Vhäldemar Facebook
   VHÄLDEMAR - Death to the Wizard !
   VHÄLDEMAR - AFTERLIFE

Mors Principium Est - Seven (2020) 9/10

More or less a year ago, I reviewed the first excellent solo album of Andy Gillion. One year later here it is the... guess... seventh studio album of Mors Principium Est. The Finnish band, one of the most important of the Melodic Death Metal scene, is now reduced to a permanent duo: Ville Viljanen on vocals and Andy Gillion on guitars, bass and orchestrations. All songs are exciting and fresh, plenty of melodies, with good vocalizations and excellent guitar lines. It's not fair to highlight songs but... March To War, Rebirth and At the Shores of Silver Sand. One of the best MDM releases of the year and... let's March To War!
   Mors Principium Est Facebook
   MORS PRINCIPIUM EST - A Day For Redemption // Official Lyric Video // AFM Records
   MORS PRINCIPIUM EST- My Home, My Grave (2020) // Official Lyric Video // AFM Records

Finntroll - Vredesvävd (2020) 9/10

One of the most anticipated albums of the year, seven years after Blodsvept. And, f*ck Covid, they should have played in Portugal last August, but, if everything goes well, they will come in 2021. Of course the music is still typical Finntroll, Folk Metal tinted in Black, but the first impression is that Vredesvävd is darker that its predecessor. Without including any potential hit such as Nattfödd or Trollhammaren, the trolls deliver an homogeneous and consistent album, with frequent variations and perfect combinations between guitars, keyboard and orchestrations. I particularly like the sequence Forsen, Myren, Stjärnors Mjöd and Mask. Pity the album is so short and no music is longer than 5 minutes.
   Finntroll Facebook
   FINNTROLL - Forsen (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   FINNTROLL - Mask (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Kramp - Gods Of Death (2020) 7.5/10

Finally the perseverance of brothers Mina Walkure, vocals, and Lap, bass, saw the light of day, after creating Kramp back in 2010. With several lineup changes, the Spanishes released an EP in 2016 and now the expected first album. The music is Epic Heavy Metal, without special effects, having an old-school wishful taste, in the line of Omen or Warlord. Female vocals approach the band sound to Girlschool or Crystal Viper. Besides the videos, also quite good the version of Walkyrie (only previously available on a compilation) and Preserved in Time. Mina is not only a good vocalist, she's also a talented artist, the album cover being a good example. One regret, less than 38 minutes.
   Kramp Facebook
   Kramp - Gods of Death (Official Music Video)
   Kramp - Speed of Light (Official Music Video)

Mentalist - Freedom Of Speech (2020) 9/10

Mentalist is a recent international project created in 2018 by experient musicians: Peter Moog and Kai Stringer (Starchild) on guitars, Thomen Stauch on drums (ex Blind Guardian), Florian Hertel (bass) and Rob Lundgren (Epilog, etc). Freedom of Speech is the first album and it's a piece of quite good Power Metal, extremely melodic and with a touch of Progressive. As guests, the unmistakable Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon fame) and Oliver Palotai (Kamelot). The cover and the title song (or absence of it) are are a good example of the important band's message. Along 67 minutes we are offered 12 good songs and an orchestral version. Sure to be liked by all Heavy Power Metalheads!
   Mentalist Facebook
   Mentalist - Belief (Official Lyric Video) feat. Daniel Heiman & Rob Lundgren
   Mentalist - Freedom Of The Press (Official Lyric Video)

From The Depth - Moments (2020) 8/10

Another new band to me, despite founded in 2008. And good diverse Power Metal coming from Italy. Moments is the second album, showing a matured band with great sense of melody. Starting with a fast excellent song, Immortal, followed by the first single, Spread Your Fire, including a short interesting instrumental and, of course, a ballad, the album is quite well balanced and produced. Besides the melody of the two guitars, several layers with orchestrations and keyboards are added to create a richer sound. Lyrically the album gives a positive message for everybody to fight for their goals. Nothing too original but still an album quite enjoyable.
   From The Depth Facebook
   FROM THE DEPTH - Spread Your Fire (Official Lyric Video)
   FROM THE DEPTH - Immortal (Visualizer)

Winter's Verge - The Ballad Of James Tig (2020) 8.5/10

From a small island of the Mediterrean Sea, here is Winter's Verge. Existing since 2003, the Cypriots are releasing now their fifth album, again a conceptual one. This time the story is about the revenge of James Tig against a sea monster, named Killagorak, that killed his family. The result is quite good, epic symphonic Power Metal, with many orchestral parts creating the perfect environment for the story. Female vocals are assured by the excellent Bulgarian vocalist Teodora Petrova (Freija, Magic of the North). This is a band well worth to be checked, specially by those who like symphonic Power with a story, like Avantasia.
   Winter's Verge Facebook
   Winter's Verge Blood on the Foam Official Video
   Winter's Verge I ACCEPT OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO

Skeletoon - Nemesis (2020) 9/10

Pumpkins, these Italians do like Power Metal. Remember Trick or Treat? Skeletoon is another band that has roots on a Helloween tribute band, and their sound is a type of Happy Metal, with a funny and cartoon side, described by the band as Nerd Metal ☺. Nemesis is the fourth album and it's quite good, Tomi Fooler's vocals are excellent as well as both guitars. I only didn't like Nemesis, some traces of pop core despite the discrete participation of Melissa Bonny. And there's a nice hommage to the great Andre Matos with a Carry On Angra's awesome cover. An album for fans of Freedom Call and Helloween's golden age. If everything goes as expected, we will see Skeletoon in Portugal, at the XIII Milagre Metaleiro next August.
   Skeletoon Facebook
   SKELETOON - Nemesis (Official Video)
   Carry On

Gwydion - Gwydion (2020) 9/10

There's a reason for this fifth album to be called Gwydion. The Portuguese Viking/Pagan/Folk band is celebrating 25 years, and why not releasing an album that touches all career? So, instead of an homogeneous album like Thirteen, this one includes 14 songs along 68 minutes and plenty of variations. Another curiosity is to see the new member Luis Figueira (Attick Demons) riffs in the overall sound. Some of the songs are more Black than usual, others have a Heavy Metal vibe with good riffs. Fave song is Hostile Alliance, with Matts Nilsson (Brothers of Metal), also interesting are the medieval acoustic A Roda, sung by Isabel Cavaco (Dogma) and The Bards, with Finntroll influences. Other important guests on the album are Artur Almeida (Attick Demons) and Peter (Skyforger). An excellent celebration album, yet I do prefer the registration of vocals in Thirteen.
   Gwydion Facebook
   Gwydion - "Hostile Alliance" (Official Audio)
   Gwydion - "Gwydion" (Official Lyric Video)

Varg - Zeichen (2020) 9.5/10

Varg (wolf in Swedish) comes from Germany and just released their 7th album. By opposition to recent albums, in this one the first notice is a complete lineup of 5 members and, for the first time, a female singer. The visual also evolved, still viking and pagan based, now also showing the Wolf rune. Musically, the music is a quite epic melodic death/black Metal, full of viking and pagan references, with some acoustic and folk passages. Vocals change between Black, Death and female crystal clear. Fans of Amon Amarth and Wolfchant must check this one and buy the mediabook (if not the wooden box limited edition), that includes, on a second cd, all songs with additional guest vocals (Equilibrium, Finsterforst and others).
   Varg Facebook
   VARG - Zeichen (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   VARG - Fara Til Ránar (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Shardana - Milli Annos (2020) 9/10

A pretty recent finding, already belonging to my collection. Shardana hails from the Sardinian island, Italy, and play an exquisite and own Black Metal quite melodic and of epic proportions, tainted with other subgenres like Folk and Power. Born in 2008, their name came from the Sardinian pirates, who sailed 4000 years ago. Historical episodes are recurrent in the lyrics as well as the Sardinian language. Milli Annos (Thousand Years) is the second album, name coming from the oppression period caused by the Roman Empire. Starting with the awesome Echoes, it includes 9 songs of great, varied and epic melodic Black, with the last half being a concept story about the fight against the Romans, sung in Sardinian. A good band deserved to be more known!
   Shardana Facebook
   Shardana - Echoes (LYRICS VIDEO)
   Bellum Sardum

Veonity - Sorrow (2020) 8.5/10

Here is a fine example of scandinavian Power Metal. Veonity was created in 2013, in Sweden, a period where Hammerfall was having some lack of inspiration but Sabaton was growing. Benefiting from maintaining the same lineup since the beginning, there is an homogeneous quality and all three previous albums are quite reasonable. For this Sorrow, all arguments are present, but maybe a bit darker: melodic power metal songs, plenty of choruses, well played and sung. As references, for sure Sabaton (War could align in a Sabaton album) and Freedom Call. Another good album on the strange 2020 year.
   Veonity Facebook
   VEONITY - Graced or Damned (Official Video)
   VEONITY - Acceptance (Lyric Video)

Noumena - Anima (2020) 10/10

Another excellent album for the current year! Noumena was founded in 1998 in Finland and plays a melancholic Melodic Death Metal with their own signature. Anima is the 5th album and includes 8 songs, all quite good. Vocals, all in Finnish, alternate between Antti's growls and Suvi's female clean vocals. To me it's like a mix between Amorphis, Sojourner and Insomnium. The solos and riffs are addictive (just hear the intro of the epic 15 min Totuus), well complemented by bass and drums. Besides Melodic Death, the band applies pieces of beautiful acoustic and Finnish Folk, creating an atmosphere of peace and introspection. Another must in any Melodic Death collection and mandatory to see alive!
   Noumena Facebook
   Noumena - Murtuneet (Official Lyric Video)
   NOUMENA - Saatto (Official Lyric Video)

Melodius Deite - Elysium (2020) 7.5/10

A bit of story. I found this band maybe 6 years ago and wow, quite good Prog Power... and from the exotic Thailand! Ordered right away the first two albums, signed. The third album was more average and I really didn't like the Brazilian vocalist Lean Van Ranna neither the religious lyrics direction. It was with anticipation that I was waiting for this fourth album. The band leader, Biggie, got a completely new lineup, vocals are now assured by Yama-B from Japan (Gunbride and many others). To me, there is an improvement over the last one, but some parts are too chaotic, incorporating djent and death. But there are several good songs, like a Novelist new version (from the first album Dream On) or the Neo Utopia instrumental.
   Melodius Deite Facebook
   Melodius Deite - "Acts of Failure" (Official Lyric Video)
   MELODIUS DEITE - Malicious Envy (OFFICIAL VIDEO) | Art Gates Records

Ravenword - Transcendence (2020) 8/10

When Chiara Tricarico (Moonlight Haze, ex-Temperance) appears on the cover of a new long-play, this must be checked. Ravenword is a project created by Davide Scuteri (Choirs of Veritas) back in 2007. In 2016 the actual members joined with the purpose of creating a uniquestudio album. And the result is here, 70 minutes of Symphonic Power Metal, plenty of keyboards and choruses. As in Moonlight Haze, Chiara's vocals are powerful, well deserving the album cover, but also well served by good melodies, either fast of slow. I particularly like Purity, with a Kate Bush vibe. Overall, Transcendence is a good Symphonic album, aligning with other good Italian bands.
   Ravenword Facebook
   RAVENWORD - Purity (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)
   RAVENWORD - Blue Roses (Official Lyric Video)

Dogma - Mallevs Maleficarvm (2020) 9/10

In Lusitanian lands, this was one of the most expected releases. Reditum in 2017, celebrated Dogma's reunion in 2014 and was a landmark in the Portuguese Gothic / Doom scene. Since the first auditions of this new Mallevs Maleficarvm, all expectations were fully answered, revealing a more matured band, a succession of well written songs that go beyond the Gothic / Doom genre. The main reference is still Isabel and Gonçalo vocals, perfectly singing and declaiming profane lyrics in Portuguese, with a poetical and theatrical side. All instruments are well mixed, including some memorable riffs. Too bad the pandemic situation does't allow for a proper promotion tour, but at least we have great Metal to hear!
   Dogma Facebook
   Dogma - Deus Assassino
   Dogma - Asmodeus (Advanced Promo Track)

Reasons Behind - Project M.I.S.T (2020) 6.5/10

A curious band, on FB they classify themselves as Electronic Dance Music/Trance Metal, on Metal Archives the genre is Symphonic Power Metal. This Italian band started in 2010, released the first album in 2014 and Project M.I.S.T. is the second one. Since the first notes, the FB page classification is far more accurate, no Power at all and the symphonic influences are submerged by synths. And another curiosity, the electronic music is predominant, but no synth player is listed, neither is present on the Binary Stars video. The music not being my beach, Elisa Bonafè delivers an excellent performance and all songs are pretty melodic. Amaranthe fans may check this lighter version.
   Reasons Behind Facebook
   REASONS BEHIND - (E)met (Official Video)
   REASONS BEHIND - No Dawn To Come (Official Video)

Terra Atlantica - Age of Steam (2020) 9.5/10

So good to come back to the Keeper of the Seven Keys timeline, with some modern steampunk feeling and symphonic power a la Rhapsody! So, after this one sentence definition, Terra Atlantica is a German band formed in 2014, released an excellent debut, A City Once Divine, in 2017, and here it is the second album. Starting with an intro reminding Pirates Of The Caribbean, Age of Steam follows the story of Atlantis, now situated on the XIX Century and a clash with the British Empire. Musically, this is one of the best Power Metal albums of the year, all songs are hymns that deserve to be played alive (hopefully a dream to become true). Last words to the excellent production and cover.
   Terra Atlantica Facebook
   Terra Atlantica - Age Of Steam (Official Video)
   Terra Atlantica - Forces of the Oceans, Unite! (Official Lyric Video)

Serenity - The Last Knight (2020) 8/10

Some weeks ago, I got almost by accident a Serenity online event where every buy was signed. And I took the opportunity to order the excellent The Last Knight limited box edition. As I never asked Napalm for promos, here is a somehow late review. This Austrian band is already an established Symphonic Progressive Power Metal act, extremely melodic and an assurance of excellent entertainment. The Last Knight is the 7th album and includes a dozen songs, since Power like Invictus and Wings of Pride, to more bombastic hymns like Set The World of Fire or Keeper Of The Knights, this one with a pop vibe, or Kamelot's My Kingdom Comes. As influences, Kamelot (of course) and Sonata Arctiva come to mind. Georg's vocals are great and all intruments flow easily. A good buy and shows not to be missed.
   Serenity Facebook
   SERENITY ft. Herbie Langhans - Set The World On Fire (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   SERENITY - My Kingdom Comes (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Unleash the Archers - Abyss (2020) 9/10

When a new album from one of my top bands is coming, expectations are high. Despite being increasingly known each year, they maintain a close connection to their fans. Starting where Apex ended, Abyss concludes the fight between The Matriarch and The Immortal, but now transported to space. If you can, just follow the interesting Sci Fi story while listening to the album. Technically speaking, all members are impeccable, with many catchy riffs and solid drums. I just wished that Brittney, the best Metal female vocalist, would be stronger in the mix. The album starts and ends perfectly with The Abyss and Afterlife (same will happen with shows, for sure). Besides this, I love the epic battle The Wind That Shapes the Land. Resuming, an excellent Power Metal album, strongly stimulating the will to see the band alive!
   Unleash the Archers Facebook
   UNLEASH THE ARCHERS - Abyss (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   UNLEASH THE ARCHERS - Faster Than Light (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Varus - A New Dawn (2020) 9/10

Another new band to me and another excellent 2020 release. Varus is a German band that play Folk Melodic Death Metal. The band name comes from a roman general that was smashed by the german tribes at the battle of Teutoburg Forest; after loosing 3 legions he committed suicide. A New Dawn is the second album, and at the first impression the main reference is Equilibrium, with some Waylander. So, the music is quite epic and melodic, varied, with lots of folk parts and including transverse flute, Irish tin whistle and mandolin. Vocals are mainly harsh, with the curiosity of mixing songs in english and in german. All songs are good, but I love the hymn A New Dawn and Ein Lebewohl, quite tribal and with awesome flute parts.
   Varus Facebook
   VARUS - Ein Lebewohl (Live @ Wolfszeit 2019) [PRO-SHOT]
   VARUS - A New Dawn (Official Lyrics Video)

Selenseas - The Outer Limits (2020) 7.5/10

Here it is an interesting proposal coming from Mother Russia. Selenseas is a sextet playing a melodic Power Metal, with some Sonata Arctica influences. They started in 2010, released the first EP in 2016 and the first longplay in 2017, both sung in Russian. In 2019 the lineup stabilized and the band re-recorded several songs, the new vocalist Mikhail Kudrey made all vocalizations in English and here is the result, recently released. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Sergei Lazar (Arkona), also guest vocal in The Revenge of the Ifrit. Favorite songs are Frigate and Asgard. I'm sure we will hear from them in the future.
   Selenseas Facebook
   SELENSEAS - Asgard (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)
   SELENSEAS - The Milky Way (OFFICIAL AUDIO)

Operus - Score Of Nightmares (2020) 8.5/10

Do you want some Epic Symphonic Metal with a touch of Power? That is the proposal of this Canadian band. While born in 2005 only 10 years later the first EP was released and, in 2017, the first album Cenotaph, by the way quite interesting. Score of Nightmares is thus the second album and quite a refreshing work. Operus are a six piece, including a cello but no permanent keyboards. The music is quite pompous and epic, most of the time fast and theatrical. And I love how the cello parts are introduced. For this album the band has a new singer, David Michael Moote, that, despite no previous bands known but instead theatrical productions as Beauty & the Beast, makes a hell of a job, the way of singing reminded me the glorious Midnight (Crimson Glory). Looking forward to hear more and to see alive!
   Operus Facebook
   Operus - Where Falcons Fly (Official Video)
   Operus - La Llorona

Ensiferum - Thalassic (2020) 9.5/10

For sure one of the most anticipated albums of the year, three years after Two Paths. Meanwhile the nice Netta Skog and its accordion left the band and she was replaced by Pekka Montin on keyboards and clean vocals. He is also the Judas Avenger vocalist, by the way an excellent Heavy Metal band. The epic Folk Metal of the Finns is instantly recognized, as well as Petri's harsh vocals and headbanging melodies based on guitars. But the new acquisition brought much more vocal diversity, adding some Power Metal vibe, just listen to One With The Sea. And glad to see the return of a long song, plenty of winks, the quite epic Cold Northland, the 3rd part of Väinämöinen (first 2 parts on the first album). An excellent and varied album, I do hope to see the band this year, and party, if the pandemic helps.
   Ensiferum Facebook
   Ensiferum - Andromeda (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   Ensiferum - Rum, Women, Victory (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Chaos Over Cosmos - The Ultimate Multiverse (2020) 7.5/10

When I heard Chaos Over Cosmos first album, back in 2018, while rotulated as progressive power, it had too much synths for my taste (in the 80s I was a big hater of Duran Duran and all those synth based bands). But after being contacted by the project mastermind, Rafal Bowman, let's give it a try. Rafal is responsible for all guitars, synths, drum programming, while Joshua Ratcliff assures al vocals. This new album is an improved compilation of the band's 2 recent EPs and joining together We Will Not… and …Fall into a single song. And I'm impressed with the guitar work, either riffing or rhythms. Synths complement quite well, giving the pretended sci-fi atmosphere and only in a few songs get predominance. Favorite song for sure We Will Not Fall, with a Power vibe.
   Chaos Over Cosmos Facebook
   We Will Not Fall (time set on the full album)
   The Ultimate Multiverse (Full album)

Mad Hatter - Pieces Of Reality (2020) 7/10

Lewis Carroll's Alice Adventures in Wonderland story is the main subject for this recent Swedish band, parallel project created by the experienced Petter Hjerpe and Alfred Fridhagen. They are both members of Morning Dwell, also a reasonable Power Metal act. The first album, released in 2018, was a good surprise so let's evaluate this second one. Not being a bad album, I was not impressed. Of course the music is well played Power Metal and Petter is a good vocalist, but I feel the album a bit deja vu. I would place this at the same level of the less inspired Helloween or Edguy albums. Anyway, there is also good entertaining songs like the fast The Children From The Stars.
   Mad Hatter Facebook
   Mad Hatter - Queen Of Hearts (Official Video)
   Mad Hatter - "The Children From The Stars" (Official Video)

Trotoar - No Salvation (2020) 8.5/10

Tyranex are a Swedish quartet that play good and energetic Speed Thrash Metal, fronted by the powerful female vocalist/guitarist Linnea Landstedt. Their last work was in 2017, the same year Trotoar was created. In this parallel project, super-woman Linnea, besides vocals, assures all guitars and bass, and Pontus (Tyranex) is on drums. No Salvation is the first album and is quite an excellent piece of pure fast Heavy Metal, back to the roots. When starting to hear this album, good old Girlschool came to mind, but also some Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and other classics may be traced. All songs are quite good, with many fast riffs and headbanging rhythms. Good production with no special effects. Another two more bands that I'd love to see alive!
   Trotoar Facebook
   TROTOAR - No Salvation
   TROTOAR - Tomorrow

Eisenhauer - Blessed Be The Hunter (2020) 7.5/10

From time to time it's nice some revivals. Eisenhauer, as the name suggests, come from Germany, and play a Heavy Doom with a southern rock accent, like a mix between Grand Magus and Manilla Road. This is the second album, after their debut Never Surrender, seven years ago, and an EP in 2015. When starting to hear this, the powerful and melodic vocals of Christian 'Waxe' Wagner got immediatly my attention. The music is simple and direct Metal, without effects, drums a little raw but adequate, guitars and bass on correct proportions, also with some raw production, giving the feeling of a stage sound. Not being a proper doom fan, this is an interesting proposal, well worth to be checked and followed.
   Eisenhauer Facebook
   Eisenhauer "Wild Boar Banner" Lyric Video
   No Mercy

Burden Of Life - The Makeshift Conquerer (2020) 9.5/10

Another underrated band that deserved to be widely known. 2020 is a bad year, as we all know, but concerning to good releases nobody can complain. This German quartet, created in 2004, already counts, with this one, four long plays and one EP. The music base may be Melodic Death but incorporates so many personal influences, including progressive, frequent acoustics, power, a bit of thrash, some classics, some Queen! Starting with an unexpected acoustic with less than 3 minutes (part 1 of the album title), just to prepare the majestous initial riff of the superb Geisteblitz. Those who don't know the band may now close the mouth ☺. With clean and death vocals, this is a complete sucession of great songs, ending with a 11 minutes epic part 2 of the album title (some Equilibrium?). I heard references to the mighty Kalmah, but to me Burden of Life are far better.
   Burden Of Life Facebook
   Burden Of Life - Geistesblitz (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
   Burden Of Life - Trust My Own Heart (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO feat. Luisa Funkenstein)

Velkhanos - The Wrath (2020) 9.5/10

After more than 40 years in Metal, it's always with great joy when hearing such bands for the first time. Coming from Spain, Velkhanos is a new band playing an original Metal. The base is Melodic Death close to Arch Enemy, but also including many other influences like Classic, Black, Power, even Flamenco. I don't know the members background, but all are quite skilled, and Miriam Ortiz jumps effortless from growls to clean. The rhythms are fast and contagious and the twin guitars provide frequent riffs and tempo changes. All songs are good, but just see the video Black Omen, link below, to surrender to a great band. For sure one of the best newcomer bands and debut albums of the year. I do hope their first tour will consider Portugal!
   Velkhanos Facebook
   Velkhanos - "Black Omen" (Official Quarantine Video)
   Velkhanos - "Vulcano" (Lyric Video)

Aurium - The Second Sun (2020) 7.5/10

Symphonic Metal is being quite healthy and popular, with many releases nowadays. Aurium comes from Serbia, self-released the first album in 2015 and an EP in 2016. In February 2020 they signed contract with Art Gate Records (Moonshade and Gwydion label), thus expecting a much better projection outside their country, and here it is the first fruit of this collaboration. Aurium is fronted by the excellent and charismatic vocalist Dragica Maletic (also singer in Demist). Her operatic vocals is the main band reference, with all instruments and powerful orchestrations following. Of course synths play an important part in their sound. Best songs to me are the emotive and Dragica's highlight Reminiscence and Leaden Skies. After Covid, probably we could expect a due European tour!
   Aurium Facebook
   Aurium - Asylum (Official Video)
   Aurium - "Leaden Skies" (Lyric Video)

Fraise - The Fifth Sun (2020) 8/10

Here it is an underrated band, despite existing since 2002 and this being already the fifth album. Fraise (strange name, meaning Strawberry in French, if that was the idea) come from Sweden and play Melodic Power Metal. Since the beginning they stayed independent from record companies and manage everything. From my notes, the third album "Siamese Conspiracy" was interesting but not so Power, and the fourth album "Circle-O-Zero", released 3 years ago, was even less interesting. But "The Fifth Sun" is a good improvement, more power and better production. Following the intro, are my two favorite songs, presented below, but all are reasonable. For the first time the band released a concept album, about the journey of a fictional character through life. A good melodic album.
   Fraise website
   Be One of Us
   Twin of My Soul

Irdorath - The Final Sin (2020) 9/10

Coming from Austria, this quartet is becoming a solid reference in Black Metal. The Final Sin is already their 5th album, continuing a regular release schedule, since their first album in 2007. By incorporating Thrash riffs and rhythms, together with some Melodic Death vibes, the sound becomes varied and full of details, appealing even for non Black Metal fans. Vocalizations are black but perfectly audible. Both guitars, bass and drums are quite well played and perfectly mixed. Instead of naming my favorite songs, for this album I prefer to say that the less appreciated are the two midtempo songs that end the album, but even those may appeal to many. Nice unusual cover, and their white TShirt is awesome. An excellent band, not only for Black Metal fans!
   Irdorath Facebook
   IRDORATH - Debaptized (Official Video)
   IRDORATH - Chains Of Virtue (Official Studio Video)

Boisson Divine - La Halha (2020) 9.5/10

How a after school project from two young "coupains", living in a small village of Gascony, France, turned into a quite successful and thrilling Folk Metal band. I was quite impressed with their previous Volentat, released in 2016, and was with anticipation that waited for this third chapter. Meanwhile, the sextet played in several countries, including three dates in Japan with Ensiferum and others. La Halha includes 15 songs and lasts for 74 minutes (digital edition, CD with 10 songs). The music is a contagious and diverse Folk Metal, with some Power and many folk instruments (name it, it's there), always happy, danceable and headbanging. Vocalizations are great, and all in Gascon language. What a great divine drink, for sure one of the best Folk Metal releases of the year. A band to see alive, I hope Portugal could be considered soon ☺
   Boisson Divine Facebook
   Boisson Divine - Libertat (MUSIC VIDEO)
   Boisson Divine - Rei de Suèda (Sveriges Kung)

Moonlight Haze - Lunaris (2020) 8/10

Now that's a quite productive band. Formed in 2018, released the first album in 2019 (reviewed on these pages) and here it is already the second album. Maintaining the same experient lineup with Giulio Capone (ex-Drakkar, ex-Temperance, among others) on drums and keyboards, Alessandro Jacobi (Elvenking) on bass, Marco Falanga (ex-Overtures) and Alberto Melinato (ex-Teodasia) on guitars, all instruments are perfectly coordinated and totally adjusted to Miss Chiara Tricarico clean and angelical vocals sometimes high pitched. The genre is still extremely melodic Symphonic Metal with keyboard predominance, chorus, a bit of power and a bit of pop. Besides the videos, Of Birth and Death (with Elvenking's violinist) and both versions of Enigma (in italian and english) deserve special attention.
   Moonlight Haze Facebook
   MOONLIGHT HAZE - Till The End (Official Video)
   MOONLIGHT HAZE - The Rabbit Of The Moon (Official Video)

Godark - Forward We March (2020) 8.5/10

The awaited debut from one of the most promising portuguese bands is finally here. Born a decade ago in the north of Portugal, they had only released an EP in 2015. My first contact with the band was on the Milagre Metaleiro Open Air in 2018, where they played with a hot sun facing. Despite the conditions, at that time I was quite impressed with the band's quality. Playing a catchy Melodic Death Metal, much in the line of the mighty Amon Amarth, Vitor Costa vocals approach Johan Hegg, as with some riffs and rhythms. Just hear Repealing Silence! But also many proper details add diversity, as in Forbidden Words, one of my favorites. Lyrically, the album carries a positive message of free will and fight against oppression and corruption. Excellent debut, people please follow the band!
   Godark Facebook
   Godark - Repealing Silence
   Godark - Forbidden Words

Grave Digger - Fields of Blood (2020) 9.5/10

Scottish people should consider to erect a statue to Chris Boltendahl ☺ . Starting with the superb Tunes of War, 24 years ago, the scottish battle for independence is being a recurrent theme. In 2010 they released The Clans Will Rise Again, and now Fields of Blood. Grave Digger is one of the most consistent and productive Metal bands around and always a safe bet in terms of epic Metal and Power. And for the 20th album of these Germans, they did it again, giving us 12 songs, all excellent and diverse. The unmistakable vocals is the spine along the album, but then we have great and memorable riffs, lots of bagpipes, speed, marchs, of course some Accept, and even a beautiful slow with the collaboration of Noora from Battle Beast. Heavy Metal is well and alive with such bands and albums!
   Grave Digger Facebook
   GRAVE DIGGER - Lions Of The Sea (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   GRAVE DIGGER ft. Noora Louhimo - Thousand Tears (Official Video) | Napalm Records

Natural Spirit - Under Sickle of Time (2020) 9.5/10

Pagan Metal from Ukraine and Russia rules! Since I received the review request for this ukrainian band, it is being played often. Under Sickle of Time, or in the original language Під серпом часу, is already their fourth album, but my first contact. The album gathers the best songs from the last eight years. The music is a quite epic Pagan Metal, impregnated of slavian folklore, with beautiful female vocals and some harsh male vocals, all in ukrainian. Besides the three members of the band, 12 guest musicians and a chorus, flutes, hurdy-gurdy, didgeridoo, pipes, cello, viola, etc, allow for a rich and diverse sound. All Pagan and Folk Metal fans should check this album, and for sure fans of Arkona and Pagan Reign will love it.
   Natural Spirit Facebook
   NATURAL SPIRIT - Гори, Палай! / Burn, Blaze! (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   NATURAL SPIRIT - Live "OSCOREI. Midvinter festival IX 2019 HD

Re-Armed - Ignis Aeternum (2020) 8/10

Here it is a band new to me, despite being around since 2001. Well, on the first decade, this finnish band just released demos, with the first album coming only in 2012. One of the issues may have been frequent lineup changes. Ignis Aeternum is the fourth album and includes 10 songs of good and varied melodic death metal, the most melodic album to date, according to the band. While less melodic than their country mates Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, still due to their death/thrash roots, this album incorporates many details and will please to all Gothenburg sound fans. The album lyrical theme is an ode to life, quite proper for current times. A serious band to hear and to follow... and be positive!
   Re-Armed Facebook
   RE-ARMED - Ode to Life (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO 2020) | Black Lion Records
   RE-ARMED - Beyond The Horizon (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO 2020) | Black Lion Records

Black Phantom - Zero Hour is Now (2020) 7.5/10

When started to hear this band, the portuguese Attick Demons came to mind. For those who don't know both bands, do you like Iron Maiden? Black Phantom comes from Milan and the main reference is obviously the biggest Heavy Metal band. Born as a solo project from Andrea Tito (Mesmerize, five albums released between 1998 and 2013), but then got a band and released the first album in 2017. Zero Hour is Now is the second album, and a pretty decent traditional Heavy Metal work. Manuel Malini is like Bruce Dickinson's younger brother and Andrea Tito's bass is uncommonly well noticeable. The first two songs, Redemption and Hordes of Destruction, together with Either You Or Me are my fave.
   Black Phantom Facebook
   BLACK PHANTOM "HORDES OF DESTRUCTION" Official Video
   BLACK PHANTOM "SCHATTENJӒGER" Official Video

A Constant Storm - Lava Empire (2020) 7/10

Four years after its debut, here it is the second album from this one-man project. Daniel Laureano is the guitar player of the portuguese Melodic Death Metal act Moonshade and here he assures lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums and keys. Also collaborating are their band members Ricardo Pereira (harsh vocals) and Pedro Quelhas (orchestrations and some keys and drums), and Inês Rento (female vocals). The music is varied, between melodic death, gothic and ethno, with some good riffs and acoustic parts. There are some quite good songs, like Penduum Heart and Pyramid of Sunset, also I do like the acoustic parts. Clean vocals should be stronger (or better mixed), Daniel's adventures on vocals can be improved.
   A Constant Storm Facebook
   A Constant Storm - Pyramid At Sunset (Official Lyric Video)
   A Constant Storm - Hollow Days (My Probation)

Thy Despair - The Song of Desolation (2020) 8.5/10

Despite existing since 2006, with a change of name in 2008 and several hiatus, only in 2020 the debut album of this Ukrainian band saw the light of day. The album includes the 3 songs from their previous 2018 EP The Free Ones, based on the current Ukrainian war. Playing a dark symphonic metal with some progressive, melodic death, gothic, folk and doom, their sound is varied and quite cinematographic. With perfectly conjugated clean female vocals (Elin) and male growls (band founder and leader Nephilim), good riffs and rhythms, subtle yet efficient keyboards, this is a pleasant surprise and another band to follow. Checking further, on Youtube you can find a curious Game of Thrones tribute.
   Thy Despair Facebook
   THY DESPAIR - Army Of Dead (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
   THY DESPAIR - Ghost Rider (OFFICIAL LIVE VIDEO)

Alogia - Semendria (2020) 9/10

Alogia is delivering solid Progressive Power Metal for 20 years. Established in Serbia by the brothers Srdjan and Miroslav Brankovic, both guitars, they got Nikola Mijic (Eden’s Curse) as vocalist. This trio is the backbone of the band and responsible for their successful sound. Semendria is their 6th album of originals, a collection of Power Prog anthems, with excellent vocals, good riffs and melodic keys. The addition of flutes gives a touch of delicacy. And some power guests are included: Mark Boals, Fabio Lione and Tim Ripper Owens. The favorite song is Visantia, with Fabio, impossible not to compare to Rhapsody or Angra. Besides this one, also quite good are Semendria, Eternal Fight, Raise Your Fist (For Metal Unity). Another band to see alive!
   Alogia Facebook
   ALOGIA ft MARK BOALS (Malmsteen, Ring of fire) - SEMENDRIA
   ALOGIA ft FABIO LIONE (Rhapsody, Angra) - VISANTIA

Trick or Treat - The Legend of the XII Saints (2020) 9/10

As its name suggests, this band started long time ago (2002) as a Helloween tribute band but soon started to compose their stuff. After the median Re-Animated album, where each song was dedicated to a TV show, this The Legend of the XII Saints is back on the road of good Power. For this 6th album of originals, the theme is the Saint Seya anime, with 12 songs dedicated to knights, one for each zodiac's sign. The music is an excellent melodic power metal, very much like old Helloween or Freedom Call, with some Rhapsody. Alessandro Conti vocals are top (he also did the artwork), the twin guitars are like all Power Metal fan like. As guests, Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast in Black vocals) and Alessio Lucatti (Deathless Legacy and Vision Divine keys).
   Trick or Treat Facebook
   TRICK OR TREAT "CAPRICORN: Excalibur" official video
   TRICK OR TREAT "AQUARIUS: Diamond Dust" official video

Ignea - The Realms of Fire and Death (2020) 7.5/10

The Realms of Fire and Death is the third album of one of the most known Ukrainian Metal bands, that visited us in 2019 for Vagos Metal Fest. Fronted by the flaming Helle Bogdanova (trivia, Ignea means flaming ☺), Ignea's sound is a mix of Melodic Death, Death, Modern, Symphonic and Folk, with some inserts of oriental influences. Being a conceptual album, the nine songs are divided into three stories about fire and death, thus the album's name. Miss Helle's vocals are remarkable, running easilly from angelical to growls. The songs are quite diverse, one in Ukrainian (first time), even those not so melodic should be listened carefully. Highlights to me are Queen Dies, Чорне Полум’я, Jinnslammer and Disenchantment, and the acoustic What For.
   Ignea Facebook
   IGNEA — Disenchantment (Official Music Video)
   IGNEA — Queen Dies (Official Music Video)

Sojourner - Premonitions (2020) 9.5/10

Here it is another one of the best albums of the year, that will spin a lot in these strange times. I'm a huge fan of this international band (New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden and Italy), after two excellent albums and seeing them alive in 2019. Premonitions was quite anticipated, specially after hearing The Deluge. The art cover, excellent, doesn't follow previous albums. The music is still epic atmospheric black with excellent angelical Chloe's and black Emilio's vocals. There is a constant midtempo rhythm with many piano and keys parts, but the tin whistle is almost unnoticeable and the scottish accent has been lost. While prefering 2018's The Shadowed Road, this is an excellent and beautiful album, and The Deluge is one of the most remarkable songs of the year, so far.
   Sojourner Facebook
   SOJOURNER - The Deluge (Official Video) | Napalm Records
   SOJOURNER - Fatal Frame (Official Audio) | Napalm Records

Babylonfall - Collapse (2020) 7/10

An interesting new band coming from the land of the thousand lakes. Formed in 2016 by five skilled musicians, this debut album matured since then and was released in April 2020. The main genre is melodic death but many other flavours are found, like groove, alternative, modern, progressive and thrash. Vocals are deep death, alternating with clean vocals, these reminding Tom Englund (Evergrey). Just hear Celestial, one of the best songs of the album, together with Distant Call of Innocence. All instruments are competent, with some memorable riffs. I may suggest a mix of Soilwork, Gojira and Evergrey. A good varied album but I would prefer less alternative.
   Babylonfall Facebook
   Babylonfall - Murder Of Crows (Official music video)
   Babylonfall - Celestials (Lyric video)

Hyperion - Into the Maelstrom (2020) 8.5/10

There are some bands that get inspiration on classic Metal bands, while adding a modern sound. Hyperion come from Italy and offer a good Heavy, with plenty of riffs and powerful vocals. After a quite good Dangerous Days, the debut album three years ago, this second full-length doesn't disappoint anybody. Starting with the fast title album song, well followed by the excellent Ninja Will Strike (MichelAngelo Carano vocals and riffs at their best). Not all songs have the power of these two, some recurring to easy refrains, but not bad at all. The album ends with another highlight, the fast Bridge of Death. Not too original but a vigorous refreshing piece of good Metal, with some Judas Priest and other NWOBHM influences.
   Hyperion Facebook
   HYPERION - Into the Maelstrom (Official Video-clip)
   HYPERION - Driller Killer [2020]

Aeternam - Al Qassam (2020) 9.5/10

Do you like arabian flavoured Metal? And would you want less violent and more melodic than Nile? And stronger than Orphaned Land, Myrath or Sechem? Look no further, Aeternam is the answer! This Canadian quartet just released a masterpiece, but well worth also checking their previous works. Al Qassam is the fourth album and places the band on the top of the Symphonic Death Metal genre. The album grows with each audition, with so much attention to details without loosing the Middle Eastern theme. Among high technical Death Metal and harsh vocals, many delicious Folk pieces and clean singing are included. Orphaned Land's Kobi Farhi sings in Palmira Scriptures, a beautiful acoustic song. One of the best releases of the year, already ordered!
   Aeternam Facebook
   AETERNAM - Al Qassam (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
   AETERNAM - Lunar Ceremony (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)

Nemedian Chronicles - Nemedian Chronicles (EP 2020) 8.5/10

After so many years I still love to find such promising new bands. Nemedian Chronicles comes from the city of Aephanemer, Toulouse, and proposes an epic Power Heavy Metal with lyrics related to Conan The Barbarian and Red Sonja. This EP is like an intro to the first album, coming in 2021, and includes four songs, 25 minutes of quite good Metal. Starting with a beautiful semi acoustic minstrel type song soon they jump into a fast The Thing In The Crypt, their first lyric video, Monsterslayer is a midtempo song quite suitable to live shows and the last The Song of Red Sonja could be in a Blind Guardian album. Nice cover, allusive to the theme. By Crom, looking forward for the album and much more about this band.
   Nemedian Chronicles Facebook
   Nemedian Chronicles - The Thing in the Crypt
   Nemedian Chronicles 4 tracks Demo Teaser

Victoria K - Essentia (2020) 7.5/10

A new serious case in Symphonic Metal? Victoria K is an australian singer that started to be known by their Youtube channel and several covers (Nightwish, Within Temptation, Iron Maiden, and so on), getting almost 5000 subscribers. Then, after a successful single Lacuna, got the opportunity to open for Eluveitie in Melbourne in May 2019. Thought to be a solo project, the success led to a full band, while maintaining the name. And here it is a strong debut album, where Victoria's skills in singing and songwriting are revealed. The vocalizations are powerfull , versatile and warm, on top of good symphonic Metal, a mix between Within Temptation and Evanescence. Nice the introduction of the hurdy gurdi on Shroud of Solitude by Michalina (Eluveitie). Mandatory to be checked by Symphonic Metal fans.
   Victoria K Facebook
   VICTORIA K - Matrix (Official Music Video - feat. Sheri Vengeance)
   VICTORIA K - The Haunting (Official Music Video)

Volturian - Crimson (2020) 7/10

Volturian is a new Italian parallel project built by Federica Lanna (Sleeping Romance singer) and Federico Mondelli (Frozen Crown guitar). Having such talented references, let's evaluate this Modern Melodic project. The intro was not appealing at all, I don't like electronics and synths. But when hearing the next couple songs, Volturian becomes interesting. The main force are the powerful vocalizations where Federica shows its potential, with all instruments scaled to assist her. There are some other good moments, like the participation of Jade (Frozen Crown) on one song, some catchy riffs and the emotive Between The Sleepers. The songs are all well constructed, many have electro pop parts, suitable to win the European Song Contest, but not to my liking. Interesting album, Federica is awesome, but I still prefer Sleeping Romance. A joke: couldn't this project be called Federica Federico? ☺
   Volturian Facebook
   VOLTURIAN - New Life (Official Visualizer)
   VOLTURIAN - Broken (Official Video)

Angel Vengeance - Angel of Vengeance (2020) 8/10

A band from Thailand? While not being known for Metal, from this nice country we already have the excellent Melodius Deite, so I had great curiosity about them. Angel Vengeance exist since 2017 and this is their first album. All four members have a good experience and collected several local awards as described in their website. The album starts with a classic Toccata, followed by the excellent Open Your Eyes. And the genre played by the band is immediately defined, Power Metal much like Helloween, at Keepers time. The remaining songs follow the same pattern. The album has, as theme, the Apocalypse Day, with the coming of the Angel of Vengeance, and was mixed and mastered by no other than Piet Sielck (Iron Savior). A good debut and a band to look at.
   Angel Vengeance Facebook
   Angel Vengeance - "Open your eyes" lyric video (2nd version)
   Angel Vengeance (THA) - "Blood Of The Brothers" (Lyric video)

Echoes of Agony - Hiraeth (2020) 9/10

Long life Internet! Another new thrilling band, worth to be followed. Echoes of Agony is a Melodic Black Metal band from Berlin whose members are quite young, 17 to 20 years old, with the exception of the drummer (48 yo). Most members are from the beginning, 2016, meaning they started much younger. Kudos to that! Hiraeth is the first album, gathering 7 songs quite melodic and addictive, where black, hypnotic riffs, melancholy, emotive vocals, variations and acoustics are added in the correct proportions. The title song is an epic anthem of 11 minutes and my favorite, but all album is here playing often these days. One of the best newcommers of the year, and still unsigned!
   Echoes of Agony Facebook
   ECHOES OF AGONY - Erlösung im Inferno (Official Lyric Video)
   Echoes of Agony - Hiraeth (FULL ALBUM)

Reverent Tales - Visceral (2020) 8/10

A recent band that is starting to become a confirmation. Reverent Tales is a Portuguese band, created in 2018 with experienced members coming from other bands on the Lisbon region. Fronted by the versatile Raquel Nunes, the music is mainly Progressive Metal but with many other influences like death and groove. This debut album, released by Amazing Records, a recent label by the people of Amazing Events (vagos Metal Fest, etc), is an interesting and creative proposal, worthy of an attentive hearing. Besides the excellent growl/clean/sensual vocalizations, particularly notable is the combination between guitars and keyboards. For sure the band will be on the road, gathering many Metal fans.
   Reverent Tales Facebook
   Reverent Tales - Above Me (official video)
   Blackened Slumber

Deus Mori - Umbra Mortis (EP 2020) 9/10

I'm not a particular Black Metal fan, actually I can't stand raw Black, I saw several of the biggest names alive and was not impressed. But I saw this British band alive on HRH Vikings 2, in 2019, and was quite impressed, scenery with a barbed wire fence, good vocals and players. Deus Mori is quite recent, just a couple years, released a first EP in late 2018, and Umbra Mostis is the second one. The theme is the well chosen horrors of war and all suffering associated. The EP has spoken intros and outros, contextualizing the theme. The remaining four songs are a dense trench of riffs, black rhythms, some unexpected solos and even some speed. My fave is the awesome fast Ritual Silence. An appreciated genre in Portugal, I believe it's a question of time for this band to be invited to come ☺
   Deus Mori Facebook
   Deus Mori - Under The Sigil Of Death (OFFICIAL TRACK)
   Deus Mori - Uprising (Official Video) (from previous EP)

Dark Passage - The Legacy Of Blood (2020) 8/10

Nice debut! This Italian quartet was formed in 2012, released a good EP in 2015 and, five years later, this first album. The music is pure Heavy Metal with links to classic Iron Maiden, epic parts like good old Omen, and german influences like Grave Digger. The Legacy of Blood is a concept album inspired by the First Scottish Independence War during the XIII century. Each of the main 8 songs is preceded by short songs that work as introductions. Some are actually quite interesting, including acoustics and pipes. On the main songs, while different, all are melodic and with enjoyable riffs, including a good instrumental that gives name to the album. Those who like epic Heavy Metal, may want to check this band.
   Dark Passage Facebook
   DARK PASSAGE - Crown Prince (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
   DARK PASSAGE - When I Killed The King (OFFICIAL AUDIO)

Lutharö - Wings of Agony (EP 2020) 9.5/10

Are you ready for 26 minutes of awesome Melodic Death tinted with Thrash? Look no more, here is Lutharö! Hailing from Canada, they released the Incarnadine EP in 2015 (curiosity, Incarnadine was the band's first name, between 2012 and 2014) and the excellent Unleash the Beast EP in 2018. Fronted by Krista Shipperbottom that easily alternates between powerful growls, screams and clean singing, with a pair of guitars delivering memorable riffs and high quality solos, all five songs of this third EP are quite good, perfectly closed by the superb Wings of Agony. The next Arch Enemy? For sure! Someone bring them to play in Portugal or Spain, and, if not asking much, with the country mates Unleash The Archers.
   Lutharö Facebook
   Lutharo - Wings Of Agony (Official Video)
   Lutharo - Barren

Beneath My Sins - I Decide (2020) 9/10

By coincidence, the sixth review in a row for a female fronted band. Or maybe not, this shows that Metal is not a male territory anymore. And enjoyable times for Symphonic Metal fans! Beneath My Sins is a band from Paris, founded in 2015 by the talented Clement Botz (guitars) and Emma Elvaston (singer). After a reasonable debut album in 2017 and many shows, here is I Decide. The album was produced by Fabio D'Amore (Serenity bass player) and had also the collaboration of known musicians like Matteo Sisti (Eluveitie), Melissa Bonny (Ad Infinitum), Michele Guaitoli (Temperance, Visions Of Atlantis) and Fabio Polo (Elvenking), giving special flavours to some of the songs. Epica and Within Temptation fans must check this band. Besides the videos, try to hear the surprising folkish Unpredictable. Another band that I must meet!
   Beneath My Sins Facebook
   Beneath My Sins feat. Niklas Müller - Your Muse (Official Video)
   Beneath My Sins feat. Melissa Bonny - Try (Official Video)

Bendida - First of the Heroes (2020) 9.5/10

When you have a band with 8 elements, including a soprano female vocalist, violin, piano, viola da gamba (kind of cello) and french horn, what to expect? Bendida is a symphonic fantasy metal band from Bulgaria, a country that I love. For this second album, they had theambitious project of creating a Metal Symphony full of orchestrations and pompous songs. The choir Sveta Paraskeva Academic Choir at the National Academy of Art (Sofia), with twelve singers, was included in the equation. Among the majestic orchestrations of Vinnie Atanasov (also all guitars) is the portentous vocals of Kremena Nikolova. Lyrics often include verses in other languages! The whole album is a symphonic masterpiece but I highlight the beautiful duet between Kremena and Janika Gross (Haggard, Molllust), and the epic and premonic History of the World, divided in 6 chapters and ending with a message of hope. Beautiful artwork. A tour with Haggard would be something from the other world!
   Bendida Facebook
   Bendida - Vampires' Ball - feat Janika Groß - lyric video
   Bendida - The Legend of Gilgamesh - lyric video

Secret Rule - Against (2020) 7/10

Secret Rule is the project of Angela Di Vincenzo, created in 2014 and quite workaholic. My first contact with the band was with Machinergy, the second album released in 2016. Against is the fifth album and is a mix of symphonic metal with some gothic, modern and industrial. Of course the highlight is the warm and powerful vocals of Angela, well explored on all the 12 songs. The band doesn't include a permanent keyboard/synths player, yet the sound is heavily based on this. Anyway there are songs that will please all symphonic fans (like Deep Solitude), others to more modern industrial fans, gathering influences from Amaranthe and Within Temptation. I have much curiosity to see the band alive, hopefully the tour with the brazilian Semblant, postponed due to the Covid19 crisis, will occur this year.
   Secret Rule Facebook
   Secret Rule - Shades Of Humanity (Official Video 4K)
   SECRET RULE – Purgatory (Official Video)

Living Tales - Mirror (2020) 8/10

Here it is a good surprise, the second album from this portuguese Progressive Metal band. New to me, Living Tales was founded in 2007 at Porto region and released a first album in 2012. Since then, all lineup changed with the exception of Luis Oliveira, guitars. First notice for this new album is the excellent cover by Augusto Peixoto. The band, now fronted by the italian Silvia Bellora (nice italian spoken intro and outro on The Curse), delivers a reasonable melodic Prog Metal with good compositions and adequate variations. As guests, Miguel Inglês (Equaleft) and Fernando Martins (Web) add some vocalizations in 3 songs. Besides the videos below, I particularly like Thirst of Justice and the instrumental Delusional Mind.
   Living Tales Facebook
   Mirror Cage - Lyrics Video
   The Curse

Torchia - The Coven (2020) 8/10

Five years ago, by direct contact of a new Finnish band I reviewed their second demo (here). My prevision of success was confirmed. Since then, Torchia got a deserved recognition, with a good debut album in 2017, considered by Inferno Magazine the 7th best Finnish album of the year, many shows and tours around Europe and Taiwan. The Coven is another example of their proper mix of Melodic Death with Thrash and Speed, with plenty of guitars and solos, and aggressive vocals. Added to this cocktail are some dark elements. All songs flow without rest or calm parts. As references I may think of a faster At the Gates with some Children of Bodom.
   Torchia Facebook
   TORCHIA - Plague Peasant (Official Music Video)
   TORCHIA - Memoirs (Official Audio Track)

Wishing Well - Do Or Die (2020) 9/10

A fresh revival of good Hard Rock Heavy Metal, with a modern sound, is what proposes this Finnish melodic band. Normally I hear heavier stuff, but this is being quite addictive. Wishing Well (good name for the current worldwide crisis) is a bit underrated (not even in Metal Encyclopedia) for a band that is releasing their third album. Starting with the fast Do Or Die and with anthems as We Shall Never Surrender or Sermon On The Mount (my favorite), or the ballad Cosmic Ocean, these could be aligned with the best Dio or Rainbow songs. The Chilean vocalist Rafael Castillo is excellent, also to be noticed the quite good riffs and the old-school organ. Excellent band, deserved to be much better known!
   Wishing Well Facebook
   Wishing Well - Do Or Die
   Wishing Well - We Shall Never Surrender

XIV Dark Centuries - Waldvolk (2020) 10/10

Finally, a new album from these Pagan, or by their definition, Heathen Thuringian Metal, masters! When I heard their previous Gizit dar Faida, nine years ago, I was immediately hooked on it. So it was with great expectations, but almost a safe bet, when I started to hear Waldvolk. And all ingredients are there: epic songs, battle riffs, many folk and acoustic parts, melodic keyboards, clean and harsh vocalizations, complex arrangements, instrumentals (intro and outro). All songs are awesome, including the re-recorded Julenzeit and Bragarful, from the 2005 Jul EP, and Runibergun, from the 2006 Skithingi album. One of my favorite albums of the year, very looking forward to receive the limited wooden box edition (only 150).
   XIV Dark Centuries Facebook
   XIV Dark Centuries "Atme den Wald" (Official Video)
   XIV Dark Centuries "Skogafulka" (Official Video)

VËLLA - Coma (2020) 7.5/10

VËLLA is a new unconventional Portuguese band composed by experienced musicians. Each of the five members brought their influences to the group and the result is a quite varied album with melody, riffs, alternative, groove, gothic, electronics, death, industrial, metalcore, fado. Considering the diversity of influences, the album is surprisingly homogeneous, much due to Pedro Lopes vocalizations. As guests, Miguel Inglês (Equaleft) on Promise, Ana Marques and Ariana Pereira (violin) on Tormento (quite interesting song, half sung in Portuguese), and André Ferreira on I'll Be the End. While not being my beach, it's a good album that will please beyond metalheads.
   VËLLA Facebook
   VËLLA - MANNEQUIN (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   VËLLA - OTHERSIDE (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Deathless Legacy - Saturnalia (2020) 9/10

Wow, what an excellent and ambitious project from these Italian friends. The band took the idea from the Saturnalia ancient Rome celebration, with a slave called Lucius betrayed by his master and being possessed by a Roman soldier, also a victim from the bad guy. To get the full experience, it is advised to see the excellent mute video, with a black and white photography and no dialogs. On the video, almost all band participates (as in the previous videos), Frater Orion (the drummer) is the main character, as well as the director, Steva is a hot Laverna goddess and even the couple's dog has a brief appearance. The 24 minutes song follows the story perfectly, altemating symphonic and gothic Metal with more extreme parts. See the video to the end for uncovering an explanatory video. Saturnalia brought to a live show would be awesome!
   Deathless Legacy Facebook
   DEATHLESS LEGACY - Saturnalia - (OFFICIAL VIDEO) - Shortfilm

Drakum - Zombie Dragons from Outer Space (2020) 10/10

Another quite antecipated album. Drakum come from Barcelona and play an irresistible Happy Folk Melodic Death Metal. I'm following the sextet almost since the beginning and had the luck of seeing them alive twice (in Zaragoza). Six years after the first album Torches Will Rise Again and five after the fun Trollmin EP (one of the best animated clips ever), here is Zombie Dragons from Outer Space. The album title, followed by the intro U're Fucked Obviously, says all about the humor of the band. These Brothers know how to compose great Folk Melodic Death songs, with Marc and Feni guitars in perfect harmony and where Javi's violin (also with Northland) add extra layers of melody. All eleven songs are great but I love the oriental touch of Urashima, as well as the short instrumental Tambors de Libertat. In my oppinion the album of the year so far! And it's about time for a huge international recognition, including Portugal.
   Drakum Facebook
   Drakum - Urashima [Official Video]
   Drakum - We Are Alive [Lyric Video]

Immorgon - As Shadows Fall (2020) 9/10

Oh Odin, I was waiting for this! Immorgon is a Melodic Death Metal with viking theme from Barcelona, Spain. After the quite good And Thus We Raid debut, released in 2015, I had the opportunity to meet and see the band alive in Zaragoza 2016, and the catalan quartet for sure won a place in Valhalla. While maintaining the same spirit, with As Shadows Fall we see a more matured band, songs a little more elaborated. Two of them have lyrics in catalan, adapted from poems of local authors. Musically speaking, all songs are epic and headbanging, I may have a slight preference for Pale Beams of Light, The Raven and The Fall. Fans of Amon Amarth should check this band, Horns Up and Skall \m/
   Immorgon Facebook
   Immorgon - The Raven (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   Immorgon - Pale Beams of Light (Official Video Lyric)

Dead End Finland - Inter Vivos (2020) 8/10

Dead End Finland is a quartet that plays a mix of melodic death and symphonic, plus lots of electronics, some gothic and melancholy. Their previous album, Slaves To The Greed, was an interesting album, according to my records. For this fourth album, the band gave all attention to the minimal details, but with omnipresent keyboards driving the songs. Vocals alternate between clean and growls, accenting a dark feeling. This an album that grows with each audition, quite cared and well played and sung. The cumplicity between members, all within the band since their fundation in 2010, can be felt. A minor problem, but because of my tastes, it has too much synths and electronics.
   Dead End Finland Facebook
   Dead End Finland - Lifelong Tragedy (Official music video)
   Dead End Finland - Deathbed

Verikalpa - Tuoppitanssi (2020) 9/10

Here it is an exciting new Finnish addition to the pantheon of Folk Metal. The band officially started in 2015 and three years after they released an interesting first album. Tuoppitanssi (meaning Pint Dance, as on the brilliant cover) is the second album and actually is a quite good mix of Folk (mainly) with some Black and Death. As references we may find Turisas, Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Ensiferum and Trollfest. Lyrics, in Finnish, are based on traditions, pagan beliefs and... much beer. All songs are excellent, I may prefer Peikon Kieli and the fast Karhunkaataja. Another must to see alive. Not on the Big 5 Finnish Folk Metal but immediately after!
   Verikalpa Facebook
   VERIKALPA - Talonväen Teuraat (Official Video)
   VERIKALPA - Naulattujen Vaellus (Official Lyric Video)

Brothers of Metal - Emblas Saga (2020) 8.5/10

With 2017's Prophecy of Ragnarök, Brothers of Metal were widely noticed. With a viking visual, we would expect a Melodic Death Folk music, but no, it's pure Heavy Power Metal. With this second album, the eight Swedes are confirmed as an exciting band and a must to see alive. As on the first one, Emblas Saga is all about the viking mythology, quite interesting is the booklet with liner notes about the songs that comes with the limited edition. With 3 guitars and 3 vocalists, the music is quite melodic and epic, sometimes cinematograpic, plenty of choruses, as a mix of Sabaton and Orden Ogan, with little bits of Judas Priest and Abba. My highlight goes to the shieldmaiden Ylva Eriksson, an excellent vocalist. Another band that I have to see alive!
   Brothers of Metal Facebook
   BROTHERS OF METAL - One (2019) // Official Music Video // AFM Records
   BROTHERS OF METAL - Njord (2019) // Official Music Video // AFM Records

Arbrynth - A Place of Buried Light (2020) 8.5/10

Here it is a quite interesting, yet obscured, independent project from Melbourne, Australia. Arbrynth plays a quite atmospheric Progressive Post Metal but also incorporating Folk, Melodic Death Metal and Doom elements. A Place of Buried Light it's their second album, almost a decade after their debut, and it's 50 minutes of music to hear carefully, plenty of acoustic moments, good riffs and dual vocals (clean and death). Besides comparisons with Alcest, Amorphis and Opeth, sometimes it feels like a Post Metal version of Wormwood, one of my top bands. A recommended album!
   Arbrynth Facebook
   Arbrynth-The Dark Between The Stars
   Arbrynth - Beautiful in Death

Aereum - Tempest of Time (2020) 9/10

What a big surprise for starting the Metal year. Aereum is a new German band, Tempest of Time is the debut album and what a killer album it is! The genre is an efficient mix of Melodic Death and Folk. The song structures are typically Folk with the addition of Death vocals (most of the time, but also some clean) and almost permanent melodic riffs. All compositions are well constructed, without exaggerations, with the correct mix of guitars with accordion, bass and drums. Highlithing songs is almost impossible, maybe Master of Light and Modular Cowboys, but listen to all, on the link below. A last remark for the art graphics on the booklet, quite interesting. This band deserves a widespread recognition and support!
   Aereum Facebook
   Aereum - Tempest of Time [Full Album]
   AEREUM (Germany) - Master Of Light(HD)

Darktribe - Voici L'Homme (2020) 8.5/10

Voici L'Homme is the 3rd album of Darktribe, four years after a good The Modern Age (my first contact with the band). This French act, created in 2004, plays a good and solid Progressive Power Metal, with an excellent vocalist and efficient musicians. The album name may induce that it's sung in french, but it's only the refrain on the album name song, by the way an excellent one and my fave. Also quite good are Prism of Memory and the emotive The Hunger Theory. And... surprise! They are coming to Portugal to play at Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão 2020, 23 to 25 July, not to be missed.
   Darktribe Facebook
   DARKTRIBE - Voici l'Homme (Official Video)
   DARKTRIBE - Prism Of Memory (Lyric Video)

Rage - Wings of Rage (2020) 9.5/10

Rage is a Metal institution and quite present on my Metal in more than 2 decades. Debuting as Avenger in 1984, changed the name in 1986, and, as Rage, just released their 24th full-length. Awesome! As far as I remember, Rage is always a safe bet in terms of high quality Heavy Speed Power. The charismatic Peter "Peavy" Wagner, after the departure of Victor Smolski and André Hilgers in 2015, got a stable lineup becoming more efficient with each release. Wings of Rage is a great piece of Metal where the emotive and unique Peavy's vocals are supported by an excellent set of songs, all of them with a story (read the booklet). Curiously my fave songs are not the videos: Tomorrow, Wings of Rage (inspired on "fridays for future" movement) and the new superb Higher Than The Sky upgrade. It's forbidden to loose their show in Portugal the 21st August at XIII Milagre Metaleiro Open Air.
   Rage Facebook
   RAGE "Chasing The Twilight Zone" (Official Lyric Video)
   RAGE "Let Them Rest In Peace" (Official Video)

	
    

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