Albums of the month: October

With October being done and dusted we’re closing in fast on the end of the year. As expected heavy hitters of the month such as In Mourning, Insomnium, The Great Old Ones, Mayhem and Hour of Penance delivered wicked stuff while we also had some pleasant surprises (in my book at least) from bands such as Xoth, Vukari and Shadecrown to make October yet another stellar month for extreme music. Has October even been the best month of the year so far? Many thinks so but I’m still on the fence there but I do think it’s been one of the strongest months for sure (along with May and August) we’ve had so far. Will November and December end it with a bang or has the best of the year already been released? Who knows but we will know very soon! Again don’t forget to drop the bands and labels a like while also checking in The Metal Gamer playlist for all the latest in music! Also a side note but this post is the 500th blog post for The Metal Gamer! Hails and thanks for all the support over the years!

Album of the month

In Mourning – Garden of Storms

When a band like In Mourning produces their best album since the crown jewel Monolith then you know it’s one that will be high up the album of the year lists for most. A must listen! You can read the review here.

In Mourning – Garden of Storms was released October 4th via Agonia Records.

Runners-up

The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism

The Great Old Ones are back with yet another stunning Lovecraftian atmospheric black metal album. They seem to be able to do no wrong and the band has only strengthen what is already a very strong discography.

The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism was released October 22nd via Season of Mist.

Insomnium – Heart Like a Grave

I’ll be honest I didn’t get into Winter’s Gate as much as most people seem to have. A great album sure but I don’t think it was close to the levels of Above the Weeping World nor Across the Dark for example. I do think that’s the case with Heart Like a Grave however. Their best album in ten years!

Insomnium – Heart Like a Grave was released October 4th via Century Media Records.

Necronomicon – Unus

One of the best albums I’ve heard this year and the best Necronomicon has done to this date where the Necronomicon of old and new fuse together seamlessly, creating some of the best music of 2019 over 30 years into their career. You can read the review here.

Necronomicon – Unus was released October 18th via Season of Mist.

Shadecrown – Riven

Finland has a new mighty warrior to push their melodic death/doom music forward! While Insomnium is obviously a giant in the scene we now have Shadecrown who surprised me big time with Riven. The album is insane and it’s funny to think what this band can do in the future when they have already gotten so far into creating a quality sound with only a couple of full-length albums under their belt.

Shadecrown – Riven was released October 11th via Inverse Records.

Honorable mentions

Exhumed – Horror
Ehlder – Nordabetraktelse
1349 – The Infernal Pathway
Gatecreeper – Deserted
Entrails – Rise of the Reaper
Totengeflüster – The Faceless Divine
Xoth – Interdimensional Invocations
Vukari – Aevum
Cell – Ancient Incantations of Xarbos
Messora – The Door
Singularity – Place of Chains
Profanatica – Rotting Incarnation of God
Svartby – Big Boss
Esogenesi – Esogenesi
Signs of the Swarm – Vital Deprivation
Konkhra – Alpha and the Omega
Barbarian Swords – Totemic Anal Turbofucker
Sarcasm – Esoteric Tales of the Unserene
Thrashfire – Into the Armageddon
Blood Eagle – To Ride in Blood & Bathe in Greed II
Coffin Rot – A Monument to the Dead
Profetus – The Sadness of Time Passing
Mortiferum – Disgorged from Psychotic Depths
Rimfrost – Expedition: Darkness
Hour of Penance – Misotheism
Arx Atrata – The Path Untravelled
Sun Worship – Emanations of Desolation
Horrocious – Depleted Light and the Death of Uniqueness
Hell’s Coronation – Ritual Chalice of Hateful Blood
Defenestration – Scalped on the Pavemenet
Mayhem – Daemon
Rings of Saturn – Gidim
Temple – The Last Pact
Undead – Existential Horror
Cleric – Serpent Psalms
Vermicular Incubation – Chapter of the Vermain Domain
Shrine of Malice – Sheol

The Metal Gamer songs of the month playlist

Interview: Arx Atrata

One of my personal favorites when it comes to atmospheric black metal is Arx Atrata. The one-man band by Ben Sizer is a thing of beauty and I still remember having their album Spiritus in Terra spinning while visiting The Highlands of Scotland, the perfect soundtrack to these magical lands. When I got to know Arx Atrata is on their way to release a new album October 11th titled The Path Untravelled I couldn’t pass the opportunity to have a chat with Ben!

Hi Ben! First thing first, how did Arx Atrata come to life?

About 10 years ago, I had been listening to a lot of atmospheric black metal and a lot of blackened doom, and felt inspired to try and come up with a blend of the two. The project was going slowly at first, but soon there was a new wave of British black metal bands emerging – Winterfylleth, Fen, Wodensthrone, and similar – and the influence I took from their sounds and themes formed the last part of the puzzle. By mid 2013 I’d got five songs together that I felt were a good representation of where I wanted to take things, and that winter they were released as Oblivion, the first album. The reception to that was far more positive than I could have hoped for, and as a result I’ve been working on more material ever since.

You’ve had a steady three year gap between each album, is that by choice or it just happens?

It just happens. I spread my songwriting time across multiple acts and, like almost all musicians in this genre, I obviously have a day job as well. I’d love to be like Iron Maiden in the 80’s, releasing an album every 18 months, but there aren’t enough hours in the day.

You’re also a member of the band Twilight’s Embrace. Which band do you focus the most on?

Generally speaking it’s a matter of taking turns, focusing on one and then the other. There’s obviously a lot of work leading up to an album release and then a fair amount afterwards, but then things die down and there’s an opportunity to switch to another project for a while. Twilight’s Embrace had to take a back seat over recent months while I got this album finished, but that time is coming to a close now. I also play guitar in a band called Fjords (https://www.facebook.com/fjordsofficial/) who have their debut album out this winter as well, so it’s been a busy year.

Arx Atrata has a new album titled The Path Untravelled incoming that’s set for a release on October 11th. How has the process gone while writing it? Anything you done different from your past two albums?

For the most part my process is always the same. I produce lots of ideas for parts of songs, then I pick the best ones to base songs around, before continually adding to them and refining them. The songwriting happens over a long period of time and since I do it all in my home studio it only really finishes when the final mix is done. I don’t produce demos and then re-record them ‘properly’ – it’s just an ongoing process of refinement until each song is ready for release.

One thing a bit different this time is that I wrote a lot of material that didn’t make it onto the album, not because it wasn’t good enough but because I needed to pick the most cohesive collection of songs for this release. So maybe the next record won’t have to take three more years – but I’m making no promises!

Speaking of The Path Untravelled, is there a special song on the album you think stands out and might become the next “Legacy” so to say?

I’m happy with all the tracks on this album, so it’s hard to pick a favourite. However, I think the title track is perhaps the one I’m most pleased with, because it covers almost all the musical ground I wanted to show with this project. But I think the listeners will decide which song or songs are the best!

What’s your main influences when you write a song?

Often I start out inspired by some other band, trying to understand what it is that I like about their music and trying to write completely new music in their style. But I only do one or two sections that way, because I think it’s important that each song has a blend of ideas and influences.

As mentioned above I was very inspired by recent UK black metal acts, but I also love a lot of atmospheric black metal acts, from the harsher sounds of Darkspace and Paysage D’Hiver through to the lush ambience of Lustre and Eldamar, and especially bands that bridge the gap like Coldworld. Finally I’ve been impressed by recent black metal acts that keep the fury of traditional black metal but have very interesting melodies and atmospheric layers, like Der Weg Einer Freiheit and The Great Old Ones.

To my knowledge Arx Atrata has never performed live? Will it happen?

That’s correct, there have been no Arx Atrata shows yet. I hope that will change one day. Assembling a line-up of musicians to play live is not easy, however. I’ve had some interest but nothing can happen until I can get a full complement of positions filled.

Reflecting back on the nine years you’ve been working on Arx Atrata what’s been the highlight so far?

Every release is a highlight for me. Both the previous albums got a good reception and seeing that was very rewarding, especially positive reviews in respected print media like Terrorizer.

You work in the gaming industry I’ve been told. How long have you been doing that for?

That’s right – I’ve been a game developer since 2006, so about 13 years now.

What game have you had the most fun working on?

It was a huge privilege to have been able to do some contracting work on Everquest Next, because obviously the Everquest franchise is a cornerstone of online games. Sadly that game got cancelled during production but it was a great experience to work with some industry veterans on a historic game series.

How much has games influenced your music writing?

Video games have often had great soundtracks, and I’ve especially enjoyed those of the Deus Ex series, Thief, Splinter Cell, and Mass Effect. Composers like Michael McCann, Sascha Dikiciyan, Jack Wall, and Eric Brosius have created memorable works without needing to go down the route of emulating Hollywood orchestral scores. I often find myself trying to capture similar moods to their music in my works, especially in the parts that are more synth-heavy.

Lyrically, a few of the themes I write about have been inspired by the plot lines of the darker games I play. I don’t want to write about mundane things and often the high drama and world-changing decisions in those games can be the seed of an interesting premise for a song, especially if I can relate it to the real world. I suppose it’s not much different to Steve Harris of Iron Maiden writing several songs about films – the art we enjoy makes us think, that helps us make new art, and the cycle continues.

I obviously have to ask! What’s your favorite game of all time?

My favorite game of all time is Ultima VII. It’s a classic RPG from the early 90’s with a great storyline, strong themes, memorable music, and a vast world to explore. I must have lost hundreds of hours to that game, taking notes, memorizing runes, exploring dungeons, and completing quests. I’ve played many RPGs since then but none quite beat it.

Thanks for your time Ben, looking forward to hear the next epic journey from Arx Atrata! Any shoutouts?

Thanks for the interview, and look out for The Path Untravelled on October 11th!

Be sure to follow Arx Atrata on social medias and check out their upcoming album The Path Untravelled when it drops October 11th!
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Albums of the month: May

What a month! This year for metal has been good overall, granted some months better than others but May oh my…. There has been not just one, nor two but six albums I could consider album of the year contenders! How freaking sweet is that (and bad for my wallet)!? That being said the album of the month was very very hard to pick and hell even the top five won’t consist of the all the albums that might find their way into the yearly top ten! Hope you find some great metal here, be sure to check all the band out and comment your own lists here, on Instagram, Twitter or on Facebook as I would love to hear them! With this album of the month article I am going on a vacation to Prague for a bit over a week. Catch all of you metal gamers later!

Album of the month

Vale of Pnath – Accursed

Wow what a journey Vale of Pnath has had! They’ve always been of my favorite techdeath bands, much do to their black metal influences, but they really knocked this one out of the park! A perfect five in my book and a crown jewel in their already great, and growing, discography. Released May 17th via Willowtip Records.
Read the review here

Runners-up

AngelMaker – AngelMaker

From one of my favorite techdeath bands we have one of my favorite deathcore bands. Angelmaker is not just mine but also my wifes go to band when we want some deathcore quality. This is their most varied release yet and I absolutely love it! Released May 31st as an independent release.

Misþyrming – Algleymi

This is in my opinion the best black metal release so far. Even with strong releases from bands like Nordjevel, Abduction, Murg and their countrymen Sinmara I think Misþyrming got an edge and Algleymi has been one of my most played albums since its release. Released May 24th via Norma Evangelium Diaboli.

Warforged – I: Voice

Warforged was probably the band I had changing up and down the most if it was going to be my album of the month or not. What an experience! Add the very cool music video for the whole album and you got yourself a great time. Released May 10th via The Artisan Era.
Read the review here

Murdryck – Födelsen

My biggest surprise of the month. My partner in crime K.P. was all up in flames over this release and it didn’t take more than a couple of songs to understand why. Nearly perfect black metal in the Swedish old school way. Released May 1st via Leviaphonic Records.
Read the review here

Honorable mentions

Decomposition of Entrails – Abnormality
Darkthrone – Old Star
Krypts – Cadaver Circulation
Nihility – Thus Spoke The Antichrist
Entrapment – Imminent Violent Death
Kampfar – Ofidians Manifest
Kull – Exile
Ontborg – Within the Depths of Oblivion
Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno
Firelink – The Inveterate Fire
Mordbrand – Döden/Efter Döden
Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion
October Tide – In Splendor Below
Amon Amarth – Berserker
Abnormality – Sociopathic Constructs
Osiah – Kingdom of Lies
Deathspell Omega – The Furnaces of Palingenesia

Albums of the Month: April

This time the album of the month section is coming a late, I’ve simply had too much to do past few weeks. However here it is the 4th edition, 1/3 of the year complete and even though it took a few weeks before most of the good albums dropped we yet again have some great albums to show!

Album of the month

Månegarm – Fornaldarsagor

Månegarm seems to do no wrong and Fornaldarsagor is a stunning album. In my opinion this is their best release since Vargstenen, which is hard to beat as it’s considered a viking metal masterpiece! Released April 26th via Napalm Records.

Runners-up

Gods Forsaken – Smells of Death

Their sophomore album is even better than their also great debut. One of the best HM-2 swedeath albums you will hear all year! Released April 19th via Soulseller Records.

Enterprise Earth – Luciferous

As one that have never truly got behind the Enterprise Earth hype train this took me by surprise. While they’ve released good albums in the past this is one of the best deathcore albums I’ve heard since I started this blog three years ago. If not for Månegarm releasing an album of the year contender this would be my album of the month pick. Released April 5th via Entertainment One Music.

Murg – Strävan

Yet another surprise. This time due to the fact I hadn’t listened to the band prior to Strävan though. Strävan is the bands third release and after going through their old stuff I dare say this is their best yet and the best black metal release of the month. Released April 26th via Nordvis Produktion.

Dawn of Demise – Into the Depths of Veracity

Dawn of Demise is, together with Illdisposed, the best death metal band Denmark has. Into the Depths of Veracity is yet another class release from these mad fuckers. Released April 19th via Unique Leader Records.

Honorable mentions

Numenorean – Adore
Istapp – The Insidious Star
AntropomorphiA – Merciless Savagery
Hath – Of Rot and Ruin
Hedonihil – I
Dethrone The Corrupted – Sintrophia
Belzebubs – Pantheon of the Nightside Gods
Marianas Rest – Ruins
Allegaeon – Apoptosis
Mephorash – Shem Ha Mephorash
After The Burial – Evergreen
Mist Of Misery – Unalterable
Waldgeflüster – Mondscheinsonaten
2 Wolves – …Our Fault
Archaic Decapitator – The Apothecary
Devour the Unborn – Liturgy of Irreverent Oblation
Wormwitch – Heaven That Dwells Within

Abduction – All Pain As Penance (Black Metal)

One-man black metal project from the UK Abduction is back with the third full-length album in just as many years, a very active project to say the least. Created by Phil Illsley (Taken by the Tide, ex- Lordaeron) in what I believe would be 2016 (no real data anywhere that I can find other than that the first demo was released in October 2016) Phil has been quick to craft more and more music. Funny fact for us metal gamers but his old death metal band Lordaeron is indeed named after the Warcraft kingdom and the lyrical theme revolved around Warcraft lore. Abduction is far from that though as here we got black metal of the cosmic kind.

Having had no previous experience with Abduction I jumped with into All Pain As Penance not really knowing what to expect. One thing I was a bit afraid off is the sheer amount of albums he has put out, would that affect the quality or not? What I can tell you is that All Pain As Penance is a fine release, were fans of Mgła, Uada and Behexen will feel right at home (albeit Abdication has a different lyrical theme approach). It’s haunting melodies will trap you in its web just to consume your soul into the vast abyss. I also need to recommend the different parts at play here for a solo project. The vocals are just as raucous as one can expect when it comes to black metal, while the drums and guitar are working so well together you could think it was trance. I always find it astonishing when all this is made from one person, where none of the elements are the weak link and even the production is perfectly mixed. When it all ends in the monumental track that is “The Funeral of Cosmic Mastery” I almost get goosebumps.

I will be honest with you metal gamers. All Pain As Penance almost made me fall of my seat one its first spin, there is so much clicking with me here I have a hard time knowing where to start. I will start by saying Abduction checks every box I usually look for in black metal, a spiritual journey that almost makes me have an outer body experience. I can only imagine hearing this live, experiencing the same kind of transcendence like when Mgła or Uada perform. Production value that just hits the rights spots and memorable songs I will be listening to for a long time coming. I haven’t been able to put this record away since I started listening to it a week ago, that alone speaks for itself. It’s a joy to my ears with only the likes of previously mentioned Uada and Mgła (can they please release something new soon!?) can beat and Abduction has now found a new fan.

Written by J.B.

Label: Inferna Profundus Records
For fans of: Mgła and Uada
Release date: March 29th, 2019
Favorite song: The Funeral of Cosmic Mastery
Score: 4.5/5 Near perfect

Interview: Cân Bardd

A band that is quickly on the rise within the atmospheric metal community is Cân Bardd. With a new release less than a month ago I wanted to pick the brains of Malo Civelli. Where does the band name come from? How did Malo become a multi instrumental talent and what’s next for Cân Bardd?

You’re only 20 years old (born April 4th, 1998 according to The Metal Archives) but already got your own solo project. Tell me a bit about yourself, how did you learn all the instruments and doing vocals?

I started music when I was really young with theory and piano. It gave me a very good base and it helped me a lot to improve my musical hear. I did almost 10 years of piano classes. My brother introduced me to hard rock and heavy metal and showed me the basics of electric guitar. From there I learned almost everything by myself, I downloaded some tabs and improved slowly my guitar skills. Concerning vocals, I never took any class or anything, I did all by myself, how to not hurt myself and be able to sing pretty much in the tone. I trained as much as I could and I have to say that I’m happy with what I’m capable of today. I’m sure I can do better and I’ll keep on training any way!

Cân Bardd is an interesting name, where does it originate from?

Cân Bardd means “Bard’s Song/Poesy” in Welsh. I love the Celtic traditions and culture and Welsh is one of the most popular language outgoing this. My music is really influenced by Celtic and folk music, so I wanted a name that reminded this influence because it’s one of the biggest of the project.

You started the project in 2016, with the first release Nature Stays Silent being released last year. You already got a new album coming out the 22nd February. Did you already have a lot of music written down before starting Cân Bardd?

When I released “A Gift for Nature”, I already had the whole album ready. I really wanted to start with a great album and be ready to release it as soon as possible. So when we signed with Northern Silence, it gave me a big boost of motivation and I wrote the whole album in 4-5 months. This is really rare for me to have 50 minutes of music which I’m proud of in only 5 months.

Tell me some of the process on your songwriting.

I usually start with a riff idea. This is something that I have in my head and it is generally a type of riff with an ambiance to it and then I try to transmit it on my DAW. Then I write others instruments around the riff like drums, rhythmic guitars and keyboards. When it’s done, I’m trying to write the following part with coherence. If I’m not inspired, I just listen to the parts endlessly to find something that really fits the ambiance and what I have in mind. So yeah, basically, I start with a melody and build up from that!

What’s your main influences when writing music?

It really can be anything. A riff I heard in a music, a painting I saw in a museum or on the internet, a poem, a mood, a sentence, or even a word. It is really convenient to be inspired by everything because it allows me to be diversified. I do not restrain myself to pure atmospheric black metal as you can hear on Abîme or Celestial Horizon. I love post black metal and folk metal and I love to be able to let these kinds of music influencing my music.

The artwork on both your albums are very beautiful, who’s done them?

The first album is a painting by Alexandre Calame, a Swiss painter the did some fantastic romantic painting back in 1800. The second artwork was made by the talented Edouard Noisette who worked on the artwork of my other project “Kaatarakt”. That’s how we discovered him and I knew he would do a perfect job for the album!

What’s next for Cân Bardd after the release of The Last Rain?

I’m going to start composing for the next release, but we’re not in a hurry. I want to take my time to write music I happy with. We released a solid album in my opinion, so now I can rest a little bit because people are able to hear what Cân Bardd truly is. That was the case for NSS, but the sound wasn’t great enough.
So now we’ll surely start looking for gigs. We have a live line up and some shows should arrive pretty soon I hope. Nothing is sure now, but this is a possibility!

I know you toured not too long ago with your other band Kaatarakt. Have you been thinking of doing something live with Cân Bardd?

As I told you, we’d love start playing live. Dylan is a professional drummer, so I’m surrounded by good musician who are used to play shows. We’re in contact with some promoters, so the plan is in a good start!

You don’t happen to be a gamer? Any favorite game and what are you playing at the moment?

I played a lot when I was 14-15 years old. I started when I was young with pretty unknown games like “Age of Wonders”, “Age of Mythology” and a little bit of car and plane simulator. Then I discovered “League of Legends” and this without any doubt the game I played the most. I don’t have any console anymore and my pc isn’t a gamer one, so this is the only game I’m able to play and I still like playing a little bit with my friends when I have the occasion!

Thanks for the interview Malo! Any last words?

Thank you for your interest and the time you took for Cân Bardd! We thank everyone who bought or listened to our new album, and we really hope that you liked it!

Interview: The Great Old Ones

A band that’s been on the forefront of Post-Black Metal for a few years now is The Great Old Ones. With crafty songwriting, a love for H.P. Lovecraft and always striving for improvements they’ve captured the black metal community. I managed to get in touch with the creator of The Great Old Ones Benjamin Guerry (guitar, vocals) and have a few words with him on the upcoming album, the new lineup, Lovecraft and, of course, gaming.

Tell me some history about the band. How did it all start?

I started the project alone in 2009, composing songs without a particular goal. I quickly linked these songs with my Lovecraft readings, and it seemed obvious to me to link these two passions. When I had enough songs to make an album, I recruited musicians and the chemistry was instantaneous. Since the lineup has moved a lot, but the envy has never been so strong.

Seeing as The Great Old Ones is influenced by H.P. Lovecraft I was wondering what’s your favorite work by him? Is everyone in the band into Lovecraft and his work?

This is a question that is often asked, and it is very difficult for me to answer it! I like the vast majority of Lovecraft’s work but If I have to choose some, I can say “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Color Out of Space”, “The Outsider”, and “Azathoth”. Each one of them has something that touches me.

Your latest album EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy was your darkest one yet, both due to the atmosphere and it leaning even more towards black metal than ever before. Was this intentional or did it just become that way when creating it?

When I started writing the songs for this album, I actually wanted a darker, more violent atmosphere. Moreover, it corresponded well to the atmosphere of the story from which they are inspired. And the goal is never to do the same thing twice! We are really satisfied with the result.

You’ve bought in two new members to the line-up with Alexandre “Gart” Rouleau on guitar and Benoit Claus on bass. How much has their involvement had an impact on the sound on the upcoming album?

About the composition, it does not change anything because I always write the majority of the songs alone. But they have a musical level and a very artistic feeling that brings a lot to the interpretation. This will be heard on the album!

You’ve had an album based on the novel “At the Mountains of Madness” and now lately it was the Esoteric Order of Dagon (with “The Shadow over Innsmouth” for example). What will you base the next one on? The Dunwich Horror?

I can’t tell you much because I have to keep the surprise intact. But I can already say that we will propose some things a little different in terms of concept. But still in the lovecraftian universe of course.

What can fans of The Great Old Ones expect from the upcoming album?

Something very epic, violent, but very immersive and varied. Each song has its own soul, and this makes, to our eyes, the whole thing captivating. We are currently in studio with Francis Caste in Paris, and the sound promises to be gigantic!

Can we expect a tour anytime soon?

We take a break after the studio, the time to prepare well and come back with a show worked and powerful. But wait for us for the autumn of 2019!

Any particular bands that inspire you guys when writing music?

I can tell you Emperor, Opeth, Satyricon, but also classical music, movie score, etc.

Do you follow the music scene? If so what was your favorite albums of 2018?

I can’t speak for the band but only for me. I really liked the last Gorod, a band in which our current bassist plays. A real sense of melody! I often listen to the latest Spectral Wound album. A real trip.

As the blog is called The Metal Gamer I have to ask. Are anyone of you gamers, and if so got any favorite game?

Yes, there are some gamers in our band. Gart is a true lover of retrogaming for example. Personally, I have less time to play than before. However, the last blast I had with a game was surprisingly with a mobile game. I really recommend “The Last Door”, which is a point and click in pixel art with a fantastic atmosphere, a great soundtrack, and a very lovecraftian atmosphere.

That’s it, do you have anything to add?

Thanks for the interview. Be ready for a new journey even more intense and epic.