Sounds from Apocalypse - Reviews 2021

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Against Evil - End of the Line (2021) 9/10

This is one of the few cases that, upon downloading the promo to review, I preordered the CD. Against Evil comes from a country that I admire for its ancient culture, India, but with few references on the Heavy Metal world. Formed in 2014, they released an EP in 2015 and the first album in 2018, followed by a tour in central Europe in 2019. And this is a hell of a band, playing traditional Heavy Metal with inserts from Power and Speed, but sounding quite fresh. As references, some Saxon, Judas Priest and Manowar. Vocals, guitars and bass/drums are quite well balanced and all songs are great. It would be awesome if they could come on another tour. Heavy Metal is well and alive, in all parts of the world \m/
   Against Evil Facebook
   Against Evil - The Sound of Violence (Music Video)
   Against Evil - Metal or Nothin' (Music Video)

Massen - Contraesthetic (2021) 9/10

At first it seemed a new band to me, but then I found that this Belarus band used to be known as Massenhinrichtung (meaning Mass Extinction). Searching my notes, I remembered that I loved their 2018 album! So this album is the fourth, and I'm sure that it will open doors around the world. The music is an exquisite, dense, surprising Pagan Black Metal, quite melodic, and... with violin! Vocals are harsh but often the fury is cut by delicate female vocals, giving a Slavic folk vibe, and violin. I had to order this, another album that will enrich my collection! And glad they shorten the band's name. Those who don't know, must check the videos below!
   Massen Facebook
   MASSEN - By Water To The Sun (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   MASSEN - The Flock Of Whores (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Wolfchant - Omega: Bestia (2021) 9/10

As an old-timer Metalhead, I own a vest full of patches accompanying me to all shows. Wolfchant's is proudly a presence on the front. After the excellent Bloodwinter in 2017, and an interruption in 2018, here is the seventh album of this pagan melodic death metal German band. The main band distintion, two vocals, harsh and clean, is here, the main evolution is a melodic death less folk and more power metal, with awesome solos and riffs, bass and drums always noticed. While not having a hit like the epic Das Bollwerk, the collection of 14 songs divided in two disks will get you headbanging for 65 minutes. A miss in my live shows that must be solved!
   Wolfchant Facebook
   WOLFCHANT : Komet (Official Video) | German Epic Pagan Death Metal
   Wolfchant - Der Geist und die Dunkelheit (Official Video)

Vexillum - When Good Men Go To War (2021) 9/10

There's no better country for Power Folk than Italy. Following masters Elvenking, here is another excellent band. When Good Men Go To War is the fourth album, six years after the reasonable Unum. The first song, Enlight the Bivouac, and the title song shows the main influence, while the second one, Sons Of A Wolf, seems like a folkish Blind Guardian. Among the other songs we got lots of variations, also some fast and folk songs, some bagpipes, flutes, but always with excellent vocals and players. The album ends with an exquisite Italian acoustic. A band that would be very welcome to play in Portugal for the first time and in Spain again.
   Vexillum Facebook
   VEXILLUM - When A Good Man Goes To War (Visualizer)
   VEXILLUM - Sons Of A Wolf (Official Video)

Ulthima - Symphony Of The Night (2021) 9.5/10

Another 2021 awesome release and best newcomer so far. Follow your dreams could be the leitmotiv of this band, formed by two Mexicans that moved to Finland, to be close to their musical inspirations. I believe the first times were not easy but in 2018 they came with a six-piece stable lineup. The first album is now available and is a collection of nine Melodic Death anthems that will blow your speakers and will hurt your neck. The first reference is Children of Bodom, but with better vocals, and getting the melody of Aephanemer. Other reference coming to mind is Frosttide. Only 40 minutes? Play in loop!
   Ulthima Facebook
   Ulthima - Eternity
   Ulthima - Symphony Of The Night

The Prowlers - Closing Circle (2021) 7/10

Here it is the fifth album from this Italian band, and curiously all from different record companies. I had no references, so this was my first contact. As many others, they were formed, in 1996, as an Iron Maiden cover band, and some years later started to release their own stuff. The previous album was released 8 years ago, so Closing Circle is like a return. The music is a reasonable Heavy Metal, with Progressive, Hard Rock and Power elements, well played and sung, revealing the years on the road. Best songs to me Rush Hour, Liar and I’ll Never Be (A Rich Man). The album ends with the curious A-ha cover Take On Me (oh boy, a band that I can't stand).
   The Prowlers Facebook
   Rush Hour
   I’ll Never Be (A Rich Man)

Frozen Crown - Winterbane (2021) 9/10

Third album in a little more than three years! And my third review for this excellent Italian band. After 3/5 of the members have left the band, remaining only Giada and Federico, there was some expectation. As before, Federico composes all songs and took care of the artwork. The symphonic parts and occasional harsh vocals are less important and the result is pure Heavy Power, without addictives, and straight in your face! Musically, there is an approach to Dragonforce (Far Beyond), maybe influences of the common tour ☺ . Also quite good is the Night Crawler cover (excellent Giada) And I'm impressed with the new members, specially the new Axe Queen Sheena. Hopefully the pandemic will stop, I want again to see this band alive!
   Frozen Crown Facebook
   FROZEN CROWN - Far Beyond (Official Video)
   FROZEN CROWN - Battles In The Night (Official Video) [previous album, video to be replaced]

Silent Line - Death and Perspective (2021) 8/10

If you are a fan of Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, you probably will like this Canadian band, being around since 2008. For their fourth album, Silent Line present 14 songs, along almost 70 minutes. Vocalizations, both death and clean, are good, with some memorable refrains, guitar work is what to expect from a good Melodic Death Metal band, keyboards are enough to fill in. Besides the two MDM monsters referred, Amon Amarth can be catched in few parts (as in Blood of the North). In summary: original, not much; good and entertaining MDM, Yes!
   Silent Line Facebook
   New Dominion
   Heart of the Sea

Heleven - Into The Oceans (2021) 7/10

Alternative Metal is not my beach but found this interesting and a bit hypnotic, enough to review it. Heleven comes from Granada, Spain, was founded in 2016 and Into The Oceans is their second album. Not compromising with a single genre, some progressive, grunge, gothic, doom, metalcore, acoustics are also included, but instead of an amalgam of genres, the result is curiously uniform. The vocalist and chorus are the main responsible for the melodic parts, while all the instruments don't avoid to follow experimental paths. Best songs to me are Into The Oceans and Lesson Learned.
   Heleven Facebook
   Heleven - "Into the Oceans" (Official Video)
   Heleven - "Broken" (Lyric Video)

Alkonost - Ведомые ветром / Vedomye Vetrom (2021) 9/10

For those who don't know, Alkonost is a Russian Epic Folk Metal band, being around since 1996. With many line-up changes, they succeed to manage a solid career and released recently this 12th album. The first words for the beautiful digipack and artwork. With an epic entrance like the french new-age project Era, all following songs have similar quality, with emotive clean female vocals of Ksenia, sung in Russian, and exquisite solos and guitar riffs, that give a proper and unique feeling. The last song, Bird, in English, has the special participation of Petri Lindroos (Ensiferum). Besides this, Tam Gde Zhivut Vetra, is also a favorite. A band I would love to see alive!
   Alkonost Facebook
   Alkonost feat Petri Lindroos (Ensiferum) - Bird (Lyric video)
   Alkonost - Prorochestvo (lyric video)

Silent Winter - Empire of Sins (2021) 9/10

One of the most solid European Power Metal scene band strikes back. Coming from the amazing Greece, Silent Winter had a demo period between 1995 and 2001, and was reborn in 2018, releasing since then one EP and the first album in 2019. Empire of Sins is the confirmation, if needed, of high quality Power Metal with a Progressive touch. Almost all songs are quite good, blinking to some Helloween, Stratovarius and Manowar, but with a proper identity. Mike Livas is an excellent and versatile vocalist, also I love those riffs. Favorite song is Hunter's Oath. The only negative aspect is the Belinda Carlisle cover that closes the album, boring as the original.
   Silent Winter Facebook
   Silent Winter - Gates Of Fire (Official 3d Lyric Video 2021)
   Silent Winter - Empire Of Sins (Official Cinematic 4k Video)

Stormtide - A Throne of Hollow Fire (2021) 9/10

Here it is an example how I like my Metal, excelent melodic death, good vocals, some folk, some oriental influences, and principally epic as hell. Stormtide come from Australia, released an excellent debut in 2016 and now the second album. Comparing both albums, this one is less folk and less oriental, but still quite good. The quartet, with no permanent bass player, delivers a set of epic 10 songs, full of orchestrations that don't give much space to bass, and catchy guitar lines. Reuben Stone's vocals add the necessary emotion. I wished it had more than 40 minutes. If you like old Equilibrium, Atlas Pain or Wintersun, don't loose this one! And a tour with Valhalore would be memorable!
   Stormtide Facebook
   Stormtide - She Who Would Name The Stars
   Stormtide - Awakening | Epic Death Metal

Orden Ogan - Final Days (2021) 9.5/10

After the excellent Gunmen and seeing the band on tour, I confirmed that this is a band for the Power Metal podium. So, anxiously waiting, me and many others, for the next album, delayed several months. And the wait was worth it! At least the album is as good as Gunmen, with ten solid melodic songs. Seeb Levermann, now only as vocals, only knows how to compose hits, and he again assures a crystal clear production. The album concept moved from the dark West to the Dark Sci-Fi, ending with the final days of mankind. An emotive slow could not be missed, with the participation of Ylva Eriksson (Brothers Of Metal vocalist). Looking forward to receive my box edition and to review the band alive.
   Orden Ogan Facebook
   ORDEN OGAN - Inferno (2021) // Official Music Video // AFM Records
   ORDEN OGAN - Heart Of The Android (2020) // OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO // AFM Records

Númenor - Draconian Time (2021) 8/10

Now here it is an interesting band coming from Serbia, or how to mix Epic Power with Symphonic Black. Númenor was created in 2009, while coming from other projects, and released 3 albums before this Draconian Time. The album start quite well with a good epic power with the participation of Blind Guardian's Hansi Kürsch. Diversity is not missing in this matured album, or how to mix Rhapsody with Bal-Sagoth or Blind Guardian with Dimmu Borgir. The rhythms and riffs are generally fast, alternating between Power and Symphonic Black. Vocals are mainly black but fit quite well in all tracks. If you like Stormlord and the other mentioned bands, check this one. Pity it's only 34 minutes.
   Númenor Facebook
   Númenor - Make the Stand feat. Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian)
   Numenor - Numenor

Ablaze My Sorrow - Among Ashes and Monoliths (2021) 7.5/10

This Swedish band appeared when the Gothenburg Melodic Death sound started to be known, being from a city not far. Before splitting up in 2006 they released 3 reasonable albums. Reuniting in 2013, they released Black in 2016, in my oppinion a weak album with some metalcore. Without having much expectations, actually this Among Ashes and Monoliths surprised me positively, with a back to the roots sound. Almost all songs are reasonable, riff based, some more melodic (Black Waters, Her Cold Embrace), others thrashy (Noexistence). A worthy representative of the Swedish Melodic Death scene.
   Ablaze My Sorrow Facebook
   Ablaze My Sorrow - Black Waters (Official Music Video 2021)
   Ablaze My Sorrow - My Sorrow (Official Lyric Video 2020)

Isatha - From Here to Beyond (2021) 8/10

Another new band to me. Isatha come from Hungary, the name meaning "forefather" (not confirmed by google translate) and are composed by eight members. They released the first album in 2013 and here is the second one. Announced as Extreme Folk Metal, I would say that it's a mix between Folk and Melodic Death, where harsh male vocals and death riffs are compensated with flute, crystal clean female vocals and acoustic parts. In parts remind Waylander with Celtic Folk replaced by Slavic Folk, other parts countrymen Dalriada. I do like all nine songs, but Feast With The Fallen is the fave one. A band to follow!
   Isatha Facebook
   Isatha - Feast With The Fallen
   Isatha - Pan

Crystallion - Heads Or Tails (2021) 7.5/10

Long time not hearing from this German band. Founded in 2003, they released the first three albums between 2006 and 2009, being then compared to Rhapsody or Freedom Call. The previous album, Killer, in 2013, represented a style change, more to a classic Heavy and Hard direction. On 2019, the longtime vocalist left, being replaced by a female singer. Heads Or Tails maintains the same direction, with Kristina Berchtold giving a Girlschool / Warlock touch. The 11 songs are well constructed, with simple refrains, nice intros, good riffs (also a new element) and rhythms. The slowest song Sleeping Emperor is better than any Doro song in recent years. A band to be seen alive, when conditions make it possible.
   Crystallion Facebook
   Crystallion - Knights And Heroes (Official Video)
   Crystallion - Living On A Lie (Official Music Video)

Ephemerald - Between the Glimpses of Hope (2021) 9.5/10

A new star on the constellation of Finnish Melodic Death! I remember when Joni Snoro left the awesome band Frosttide, months later I heard about Ephemerald for the first time. Together with friends belonging to other Finnish fine acts, five singles were released since 2017 and now the first album. Time for sure contributed for the excellency of the 9 tracks, all melodic, all epic, all different, with fast drums, good riffs, good harsh and clean vocals. Joni's guitar gives a Frosttide feel, besides the obvious Wintersun (the student surpasses the master?) and Children of Bodom influences. If not enough, All There Is is one of the most beautiful songs of the year. Another must-to-buy record!
   Ephemerald Facebook

Marco Garau's Magic Opera - The Golden Pentacle (2021) 9.5/10

Missing the old Rhapsody? Now multiply their Symphonic Power by two and you will get Magic Opera. This is a new solo project by the keyboardist of Derdian, with the participation of members from Wings of Destiny (vocals), Seven Thorns, Shadowstrike and, of course, Derdian. The concept story is about a fantasy kingdom, wizards, a lost golden pentacle and good versus evil (no dragons). All songs are an homage to Music itself, extremely melodic and symphonic, normally fast, with many classical inserts and some references to other musical styles. The comparison to Avantasia crossed my mind, but I do prefer Magic Opera. Another candidate to best album of the year.
   Magic Opera Facebook
   Magic Opera - Free Again (Official Lyric Video)
   Magic Opera - Until The End Of Time (Official Lyric Video)

Immortal Guardian - Psychosomatic (2021) 9.5/10

Since finding Duskmourn, several years ago, I haven't heard such a thrilling band coming from the States. Immortal Guardian was founded in 2008 by Gabriel Guardian a Texan virtuous guitarist/keyboardist and... yes, he plays both instruments at the same time. Together with one of the best vocalists around, the Brazilian Carlos Zema, and also quite good drums and bass players, the lineup was setup for Super Metal, on their words. I will call it Prog Power with many incursions on Classical. This second album is another 2021 masterpiece, quite varied, and a direct result of the members lockdown. Depressed with confinement? Just hear this to bring joy to your life!
   Immortal Guardian Facebook
   Immortal Guardian - Lockdown (Official Music Video)
   IMMORTAL GUARDIAN - Read Between The Lines (Lyric Video)

Winterage - The Inheritance of Beauty (2021) 9/10

Another new band to me, despite being around for some time. Winterage comes from Italy, the land of Melodic Power Metal, and the first impression on their music is Rhapsody of Fire, with a quite strong symphonic component. But hearing more there are several differences, like the inclusion of violin instead of keyboards, so an Elvenking vibe, a complete orchestra, folk instruments and an Irish folk component, and plenty of choirs. And what about the lyrics? You must pay attention to it, all have a story related to beauty and decadence, well ending with a cinematographic and varied 16 minutes The Amazing Toymaker. Another excellent release on this year's beginning.
   Winterage Facebook
   WINTERAGE - Orpheus and Eurydice (Official Video)
   WINTERAGE - Of Heroes And Wonders (Lyric Video)

Mirzadeh - Sauna (EP 2021) 9.5/10

Seven years after the last album, Desired Mythic Pride, by the way a masterpice, here it is an EP from this Finnish Band. Mirzadeth started in 2000, released 3 albums and now this EP. The music is mainly Melodic Black but with other influences like Folk and Gothic. Sauna includes five songs, while different all are headbang demanding and extremely melodic. The highlight goes to the epic Valakea, sung in the local dialect of the holy mountain where the video was recorded, with superb riffs and clean choruses. Very underrated band, but deserving much better recognition, and for sure one of the best EPs of the year.
   Mirzadeh Facebook
   Mirzadeh - Valakea (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
   Mirzadeh - Rotten Sights (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Incursed - Baskavígin (2021) 10/10

When reviewing Amalur, back in 2017, I wrote that this is a band I must see alive. So glad I had the chance to see them twice in 2019. Incursed comes from the Basque country, Spain, and the songs reflect well their origins. Baskavígin is the story of the dramatic slaying of more than 30 basque whales hunters in 1615 on northern Iceland. The music follows the same pattern of Amalur, but more matured. It's still an easy identifiable Viking Pagan Folk Metal, fast, with harsh vocals, plenty of clean choruses and folk moments. Impossible to choose songs, all are great. The first runner for best album of the year!
   Incursed Facebook
   INCURSED - Baskavígin (Official Music Video)
   INCURSED - Who Stole My Beer? (Official Lockdown Video)


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