Grá – Väsen (Black Metal)

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Let me start off with saying “Krig” is a hell of a song! Starting with some slow riffing almost Tiamat style to then have Heljarmadr come in with “jag stinker av hat” as the music stops for a few seconds gives me goosebumps. The bands third album Väsen is the best they’ve done so far, no contest. The sheer consistency, acoustic elements and great production throughout the album has upped the game for them a lot. That being said apart from “Krig” and the albums title track “Väsen” I had a hard time find a song that stands out. Along with the fact that “Gjallarhorn” is even being close to getting the skip button ready, simply put I am no fan of the electronic elements they added there, which stops the album from reaching the higher grades. However Grá has done a good job on being willing to try new things, hats off for that.

Overall you can not really find much wrong here though as the albums 40 minutes are in fact enjoyable and seasoned fans of the early waves of black metal will revel in Väsen. Personally I had higher hopes after having heard the single “Krig” before and I thought it would be an album of the year contender. The competition is fierce this year however with, in Sweden alone, Nekrokraft, Avslut, Necrophobic, Skogen and Wormlight all putting out solid albums. Väsen eventually lands on a good album grade, nothing more nothing less.

Label: Carnal Records
For fans of: Domgård and Avsky
Release date: April 27th, 2018
Favorite song: Krig
Score: 3/5

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Avslut – Deceptis (Black Metal)

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Alright this review has taken me a really long time to get out, I try to stay on two maybe three months old top but I kinda of had a writer block when this initially came out. Sorry for that! Also at the first spin I said to myself “Dark Funeral in Swedish”? That was my initial thought on the first listen but given time it grew on me and they are no simple copy of the Swedish giant. The songwriting is really dark and memorable as songs like “Pestilens”, “Förlorad” and “Terra Mater” have been spinning quite often at my place. The songwriting is also what makes Avslut stick out in the end and together with Christians superb vocals that makes the lyrics justice Deceptis becomes a must-have for black metal fans this year. Overall a very complete album and I can understand why it took Avslut such a long time to get their debut album out. It shows diversity, great musicianship and especially how important it is to emphasize on strong songwriting to stand out so you don’t get labelled as a mere copy of a bigger act.

Deceptis is an album that will set Avslut on the right path right from the start. It’s consistent and really enjoyable throughout. A tad too close to Dark Funeral on some songs (but hey they are one of the best black metal bands in my book) and it will be interesting to see what they come up with next and if they can separate themselves to a greater extent to become more unique. If they do they will certainly overthrow a lot of the black kings in only a couple of years as a band.

Label: Osmose Productions
For fans of: Dark Funeral and Nazghor
Release date: February 23rd, 2018
Favorite song: Förlorad
Score: 4/5

Wormlight – Wrath of the Wilds (Melodic Black/Death Metal)

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Lets get straight to it. Wormlight plays melodic black and death metal the way it has been played for years. Nothing wrong with this at all! Not as memorable as the releases from Necrophobic, Avslut and Nekrokraft have been to me but Wrath of the Wilds is certainly a good album that I enjoyed. It’s 90’s melodic black/death metal worship the Swedish way and I get some Naglfar, Dissection and Unanimated vibes for sure. Seeing as we won’t hear any new material from those bands any time soon (or ever) I say this is a perfectly good album to get your fill! There is no need to reinvent the wheel and Wrath of the Wilds is not only a good debut album, it is also a big step forward from the band since their EP Bloodfields came out in 2015.

The mid-range death growls together with the energetic hellfire the band unleashes is enough to make fans of melodic black metal be pleased with this release. There isn’t really something to point out as bad on this album and the 55 minutes go past with a feeling of satisfaction. However if you do put Wormlight against previously named bands and the new releases from for example Necrophobic then it lacks that extra punch to become an album I want to revisit instead of those. Either way I know a lot of you are like me and can not get enough quality black metal and Wrath of the Wilds certainly does fall into that category. If you only want to try out a couple of tracks it should be “Vittramark” with its icy atmosphere, piano outro (which they do use on several occasions though) and overall a great sounding song. That song along with “Invocation (intro)” leading to “Feast of the Mountain Kin” is a perfect example how to finish an album on a high note.

Label: Black Lion Records
For fans of: Unanimated and Necrophobic
Release date: April 25th, 2018
Favorite song: Feast of the Mountain King
Score: 3.5/5

Kosmogyr – Eviternity (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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What an interesting duo there is in atmospheric black metal band Kosmogyr. The two members Xander Cheng and Ivan Belic are from China and Czech Republic respectively creating an international band that’s really crossing borders. Eviternity is the duos debut album and it sure packs a punch.

The album is atmospheric black to its core with Ivan’s vocals giving it that black second wave kind of feeling to it. It’s melancholic beautiful music that’s yet made with a destructive force in mind. While listening I get hints of Emperor just as much as I do with bands like Grift, Uada and Panphage during the album. The change of pace and use of different instruments such as violins throughout the album are well placed and it’s really interesting to know that a duo so far away from each other can work so well together on a debut album. Eviternity also offers great song-writing all around which is a good reason on why I will probably return to it more than once this year, it’s got good replay value and leaves its mark.

There hasn’t been too many atmospheric black metal albums coming my way this year compared to last year but when they do they’ve been on good quality. Kosmogyr delivers a solid debut that’s worth any atmospheric black metal fans time and one they can build on for future releases.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Panphage and Uada
Release date: March 9th, 2018
Favorite song: Frailty
Score: 3/5

Skogen – Skuggorna Kallar (Folk/Black Metal)

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Skogen. It doesn’t only mean forest in Swedish but is also the name of one of Swedens top tier black metal bands. They have released nothing but great albums in my opinion and I’ve been looking forward to review this for a long time. Their latest album has taken the name from the second track on the bands debut Vittra, namely Skuggorna Kallar. One thing that has make Skogen stand out for me is the fact they keep on growing and with each release they improve their sound that eventually lead to one of the best albums of 2014 I döden to be unleashed to this world.

I have to be honest my initial listen to Skuggorna Kallar left me disappointed. It started off so well with “Det nordiska mörkret” which is great atmospheric black metal with folk influences, something I like when Skogen dabble with and they do so more than ever on this album bringing them closer to Primordial than ever before. Then coming into “När solen bleknar bort” we have one of the most crushing Skogen tracks ever released, a song that will be with me for many many years to come. “Nebula” is black folk metal perfection in many ways, whereas “Omen” and “Frostland” are classic Skogen sound and these five tracks contains just about everything I hoped for the album, but then it loses me. From a captivating first half and superb Skogen metal I find the change to English vocals and a more doom approach on “The Sun’s Blood” and onwards being far less appealing to my ears. Sadly that brings the score down a bit from an otherwise great album.

I do find this release to be weaker than their previous ones and a bit of a letdown but Skuggorna Kallar gives Skogen fans yet another good album. It lacks the consistency the older albums have had to me but at the same time containing some of the bands best singles to date.

Label: Nordvis Produktion
For fans of: Borknagar and Primordial
Release date: May 25th, 2018
Favorite song: När solen bleknar bort
Score: 3/5

Nekrokraft – Servants (Black/Thrash/Death Metal)

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I was not overly happy with the Will O’ Wisp debut. It was one of the earlier albums I reviewed but looking back to it I was too nice, it lacked a lot and I’d almost forgotten about the album. How funny that a band can make such an insane leap and improvement in only two years though! The production is miles better than Will O’ Wisp and their mix of death/thrash/black works wonders this time, making you miss Old Man’s Child and Dissection less. You might even be wondering if this could be the new album from Dimmu Borgir at times when they add their more symphonic tracks. In all honesty I wish Dimmu Borgir’s new album had more in common with Servants than with their own album Eonian, because this is simply better and some songs even sound more Dimmu than Dimmu Borgir does themselves. “Lechery” is a prime example to that to name one song. Add the fact Nekrokraft hits as heavy as Necrophobic does and got a similar mix of styles then you know this is a top notch recipe for an album. You might even remember that Necrophobic’s latest offering Mark of the Necrogram got a stunning 5/5 by me, yet my only one.

What makes me love this album and give it such a high score is the fact it never gets dull and it grows with time. There are so many different elements put into this record with such fine craftsmanship that each song stands really well on their own. Doesn’t matter if you take the thrash inspired “Gateway to Damnation” or as mentioned symphonic Dimmu Borgir-like “Lechery” they are all great songs that will be spinning for months to come. Also have to say the vocalist Angst, who is also on vocal duty for Witchery, has in my opinion his best performance yet. There is next to nothing to complain about on Servants really, hence the score.

If you like your extreme metal crushing and unforgiving with some of the most memorable songs of the year then don’t sleep on this one. This will end very high on my album of the year list.

Label: The Sign Records
For fans of: Dimmu Borgir and Necrophobic
Release date: May 4th, 2018
Favorite song: Lechery
Score: 4.5/5

Paara – Riitti (Black Metal)

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I enjoyed Paara’s debut Yön olevainen puoli. It was raw black metal with some folk vibes to it and it was in Finish, sometimes resembling Moonsorrow in a few aspects but in no way a copycat. With Riitti the band has taken it an extra step. The album is a few minutes longer on the four tracks it offers for one, got an even more folkish touch to it and it fits really well with the lyrics on folktales and ghost stories. It all just adds up nicely in a package. Even more so on Riitti than on the debut.

Riitti starts of really slow with forest sounds, soft clean vocals and acoustic guitar to eventually break out into a full on black metal track on Viimeinen virta. Sadly this song didn’t really capture me and I find the 15 minute opening being a bit boring and falling flat until the end where it kicked in and paved the way for the rest of the album. The following three tracks on the album are killer with their energy and aggression. Especially Suon sydän is a personal favorite of mine that I will play many many times, one of the best songs this year in my opinion. It’s a perfect Paara song in many ways as it presents the different styles the band draw influences from with folk, atmospheric black metal, raw black metal elements and change of clean to harsh vocals. This is what Paara is all about to me and it’s beautiful.

Some people might lose faith on the album or get bored after the opening track but I advise you not to. Riitti is a good album and an overall slight improvement from the debut, with their best track released to date. I couldn’t ask for much more really.

Label: ViciSolum Productions
For fans of: Moonsorrow and Havukruunu
Release date: February 9th, 2018
Favorite song: Suon sydän
Score: 3/5