Here’s another set of quick reviews for albums we’ve been checking out lately. This time around it’s mostly black metal (surprise surprise).
2012, Daemon Worship Productions
Daemon Worship Prod is one of the labels that have earned my complete trust when it comes to quality black metal, and Dutch horde Israthoum‘s Black Poison and Shared Wounds certainly makes that trust feel justified. While there’s nothing too terribly mind-blowing, the album contains a nice mixture of denser, more oppressive orthodox-style riffing and faster second wave-style aggression with some nice lead guitar thrown over the top. The most interesting aspect of Israthoum’s sound is the manic bellowing approach their vocalist takes, which is a bit similar to Acerbus’s delivery in Ondskapt. It adds an additional intensity on top of the otherwise fairly traditional black metal sound, which helps to set these guys apart.
2012, Candlelight Records
While they sort of fit in with more melodically-inclined doom bands like Rapture, October Tide and maybe Swallow the Sun, Daylight Dies have always had their own particular sound. My problem with that sound on the band’s last couple releases was that the band’s songs tended to meander too much, with each amazing riff seemingly hidden among a lot of other unfocused melodic guitar work that ultimately never led anywhere. Fortunately, that’s not the case here at all. A Frail Becoming sees the band’s songwriting becoming more focused and obviously much more effective as a result, whether it’s on more straightforward, driving tracks like opener ‘Infidel’ or some of the more abstract songs. The end result is an album that contains all the facets of Daylight Dies’s sound – excellent clean vocal passages, powerful doomy riffing, intricate, dual-guitar melodic lines and brilliant lead work – yet is also much more consistent than past releases. If you’re a fan of this type of doom metal, A Frail Becoming is a must-have.
2012, Ván Records
The volatile landscapes of Iceland have been especially fruitful lately for metal, having recently spewed forth excellent releases from acts like Solstafir, Azoic, Svartidauði, Skálmöld and now these guys. Árstíðir Lífsins‘s sophomore album Vápna lækjar eldr is an incredibly captivating mix of black metal, folk-influenced acoustic passages and brilliant melodic songwriting. The violin that creeps into several songs starts to remind a bit of Dornenreich‘s more recent material, but aside from that it’s hard to think of anything with a sound quite like Árstíðir Lífsins – like many of the recent Icelandic groups these guys are one-of-a-kind. The vocal approach is a bit over the top, with five different people credited for vocals including the vocalists from German black metal groups Helrunar and Drautran. Unfortunately the vocal chaos can overpower the rest of the band at times, but aside from that there’s a lot to like here.
2012, Ván Records
Instead of building on the promising mix of depressive black metal and clean singing showcased on their debut Nebel der Erinnerungen, Germany’s Freitod has elected to take their sound in a doomier direction, moving towards the slightly catchy, simplistic riffing style of bands like Katatonia, Lifelover and Rapture. Regenjahre is almost completely devoid of the melancholic blackened riffs found on their first album, instead employing driving power chord-based rhythm work and basic melodic riffing to complement the band’s usual mixture of clean singing and harsh vocals. Some of the vocal melodies and riffs are pretty decent, but the appeal of Regenjahre is probably limited to fans of bands similar to those listed above. Fans expecting Freitod to expand on the elements of their first release will most likely be disappointed with this new direction, as it barely sounds like the same band.
2011, Daemon Worship Productions
It’s not especially surprising that much of new Nightbringer side-project Bestia Arcana‘s debut To Anabainon ek tes Abyssu sounds almost exactly like Nightbringer, considering that the two bands share three members. Fortunately Bestia Arcana isn’t just Nightbringer under a different name. To Anabainon ek tes Abyssu is a little more varied than your average Nightbringer release, making frequent use of atmospheric keyboard passages and a spacier vibe that’s a little reminiscent of Darkspace. Of course the band does occasionally switch to the frenetic high-pitched riffing style that makes Bestia Arcana’s heritage obvious. The real treat on this release however is the additional experimentation. If the idea of a more atmospheric Nightbringer interests you or if you’re like me and always thought they had promise but could use more variation, Bestia Arcana is the answer.