El Camino – Cursed Congregation (Black/Trash Metal)

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El Camino is an interesting act from Sweden. Their music draws a lot of influences from the great Dissection but they have their own unique touch to it with adding trash, doom elements and some H.P. Lovecraft into the mix. What comes out is nothing short but freaking awesome. I haven’t listened to El Camino before, actually I hadn’t heard about them until they were announced for this years Mörkaste Småland so all of this comes as a surprise to me. Formed in 2003 from the ashes of death metal act Vermin the band do have some Swedish veterans within their ranks and have already released a couple of full-length albums (along with EP’s and splits).

What I really enjoy with El Camino and Cursed Congregation is how it flirts with the old school sound of different genres and just feels really authentic all around. I can see this being a band that sounds just as good live as on cd. The riffs and old school atmosphere is sweet and grabs you hook line and sinker. IOMH, Cursed Congregation, Vengeance and the Häxkraft songs are really freaking great! Some songs doesn’t quite catch my attention though (Stars and Silence for example) which lowers the score a bit from this otherwise awesome first experience with the band.

Want to try something new with an old school feeling to it then El Camino’s third album Cursed Congregation is for you! Cursed Congregation is out now through Night Tripper Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/elCaminocvlt
Label: Night Tripper Records
For fans of: Dissection and Vampire
Favorite song: Cursed Congregation
Score: 3.5/5

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Altar of Betelgeuze – Among the Ruins (Stoner Doom/Death Metal)

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Altar of Betelgeuze is a Finnish band which was formed in 2010 and has since released an EP and full-length album prior Among the Ruins. Their music is said to be quite special in a grey area between stoner, doom and death metal. Among the Ruins is the first time I ever listen to be the band but seeing the reviews they’ve received I am more than interested to see what they are all about.

Surely enough this is great music made by great musicians. Altar of Betelgeuze gives me a feeling of the old school Black Sabbath as much as it does with one of last years better releases Khemmis and stoner giants Electric Wizard. While I am not usually the type of guy who goes for stoner music I can’t help the fact to be taken away by the music when it’s really well made, like Khemmis last year. Among the Ruins is filled with great solos, slow paced groove, awesome clean singing from Olli “Otu” Suurmunne and equally good growling from Matias Nastolin. The more I listen to the album the more I start to get into it and headbang to this sweet music. Sometimes I really get what stoner music is all about and it’s usually with these kinds of bands that don’t go all stoner but mixes it up with other genres. It’s heavy, emotive sounding that makes you sit back, relax and submit to the music.

Altar of Betelgeuze is definitely a band I think can battle with the greats in it’s genre. Along with Khemmis they are one of the very selected few bands within the stoner sphere I am looking forward to hear more of. I like this, when bands makes me get out of my comfort zone of music and appreciate something I usually don’t. More bands and albums like this and you might even call me a stoner eventually (pun intended).

Among the Ruins is out now through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Aobofficial
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
For fans of: Khemmis and Electric Wizard
Favorite song: Absence of Light
Score: 3/5

The Father of Serpents – Age of Damnation (Gothic Doom/Death Metal)

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From Serbia there is a new gothic doom/death act in the veins of My Dying Bride, Saturnus, Paradise Lost and Moonspell coming full speed ahead. The band consist of members from renown Serbian acts like The Hell, Tamerlan, Rain Delay and Consecration. The clean singing and narrations makes me think of Moonspell, adding the growls and guitar play that feels very much like Paradise Lost earlier work and you got yourself a good baseline for a good doom act.

Personally I’ve never been a Moonspell fan so the parts that sound very Moonspellish actually gets me hoping they had stuck more with the growls. Especially since Tamerlan’s growling reminds me a lot of Amorphis (one of my absolute favorite bands) vocalist Tomi Joutsen. None of the songs on the album really stands out for me but the opening track The Walls of No Salvation along with The Flesh Altar made up for a good start and I had a lot of hope this could be a hidden gem. Sadly Age of Damnation have a string of songs I didn’t find appealing at all up until The Afterlife Symphony with its beautiful violin play and sweet guitar solo makes it one of the highlights I take away from this album. I could definitely recommend this to goth and doom fans who likes the sound of Moonspell, but since I don’t I couldn’t really appreciate Age of Damnation that much. Together with some lack of consistency on the album makes Age of Damnation something I probably won’t get back to any time soon this year. As a debut this shows a lot of promise for the future though and I got high hopes they can make an even stronger sophomore album.

The Father of Serpents debut album Age of Damnation is out now through Satanath Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thefatherofserpents
Label: Satanath Records
For fans of: Moonspell and Paradise Lost
Favorite song: The Afterlife Symphony
Score: 2/5

Vallenfyre – Fear Those Who Fear Him (Death Metal)

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One of the few super groups that’s actually been around for years and making it work, becoming much more than just a super group in the process. If you don’t know why I call them that it’s because the trio consists of Hamish Hamilton Glencross (ex-My Dying Bride, ex-Solstice and ex-Seer’s Tear), Gregor Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) and Waltteri Väyrynen (Paradise Lost). Meaning some of the best doom metal bands to ever exist. Which is also why it’s obviously hard to keep Vallenfyre strictly death, they do of course have quite a lot of doom influences in their sound. However they do lean more towards band such as Entombed, Bloodbath and Asphyx than anything pure doom.

With their past two albums A Fragile King and Splinters being two albums I really like I was wondering if Fear Those Who Fear Him is on the same level or if Vallenfyre are losing their touch. Fact is they haven’t lost their touch the mix of doom and death Vallenfyre produces is still top class. They haven’t really managed to bring the magic out fully since their debut actually as that album still remains their best work as of yet. Songs like Degeneration, An Apathetic Grave and Soldier of Christ are songs that can definitely feature on a Vallenfyre best of though so fans of the band, or the genre overall will do best not to miss this one. Vallenfyre keeps on proving super groups can work and this is yet a solid release. If you haven’t listened to the band before I suggest you start with A Fragile King but Fear Those Who Fear Him can easily make you become a new fan of the band in its own.

For Those Who Fear Him is out now through Century Media Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Vallenfyre
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Vallenfyre
Label: Century Media Records
For fans of: Entombed and Paradise Lost
Favorite song: An Apathetic Grave
Score: 3.5/5

Father Befouled – Desolate Gods (Death Metal)

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Since the bands formation in 2007 Father Befouled have been very active releasing two EPs, four splits and Desolate Gods will make it their fourth full-length album. This is very slow tempo, heavy death metal the way Incantation and Dead Congregation also does it. Almost on the verge of sounding doom or sludge metal at times just as they up the tempo and unleash the chaos. The atmosphere on the album is very filthy and vile, especially due to the lyrical content filled with death and blasphemy.

The album starts off with Offering Revulsion and Mortal Awakening being the raw destructive force I had in mind when I got this album. The tempo-changes hit the right spots and Father Befouled shows they have really taken a few steps in the right direction since their 2012 release Revulsion of Seraphic Grace (haven’t listen to their first two full-length albums though so have that in mind). It’s the small bits and pieces here and there which makes Desolate Gods better. The core sound is very much the same but the production and overall quality of the songs are better. There are a couple of songs I am not too sold on like Exalted Offal but Ungodly Rest instantly makes up for it as the last four tracks are also the best ones on the album.

Desolate Gods is a rather good release and Father Befouled have taken steps in the right direction to perfect their sound. I still think Father Befouled got some way to go before they can take on the beast that is Incantation for real but they are showing nice progress. Fans of the bands earlier releases or Incantation will dig this vile spawn. Desolate Gods is out now through Dark Descent Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FatherBefouled
Label: Dark Descent Records
For fans of: Incantation and Dead Congregation
Favorite song: Ungodly Rest

Moribundo – Raíz Amarga (Death/Doom Metal)

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Are you a fan of bands such as Swallow the Sun, Draconian, Paradise Lost and Amorphis? Then look no further! Moribundo (means “Dying” in Spanish) and the melancholic thoughts you might get when thinking of death is something Moribundo expresses through their music. Created in 2014 Raíz Amarga is the Spanish bands debut album and what a debut it is!

The various influences Moribundo takes from have created a new beast entirely. The use of different instruments like piano and violin combined with the depressed growls creates an almost funeral doom experience at times. Not only that the four tracks are really different to each other, with a lot of variety to the music it makes Raíz Amarga an album you can easily listen to several times without getting bored. Death and despair. Take those words in and what they really mean to you then listen to this and you will experience the bitter rot Moribundo so beautifully expresses.

I found this to be a rather epic experience. It’s sweet melancholic symphonies and variety in music that makes it stand out from the average doom act. Adding the mixing of Hiili Hiilesmaa at Yellow House Studio (Swallow the Sun, Moonspell, Amorphis, Sentenced) and you got yourself one of the better doom albums of 2017.

Raíz Amarga is out now through Satanath Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoribundoMetal
Label: Satanath Records
For fans of: Swallow the Sun and Draconian
Favorite song: Luz (Ciego Color)

Loathfinder – The Great Tired Ones (Blackened Doom Metal)

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Ah it’s a good thing I got those promos from Godz ov War as not only did I get to review one of this years best releases (HerezA’s I Become Death), but I’ve also got to listen to some of last years releases I missed out and get more into the ever evolving Polish scene. Whereas Misanthropic Rage album was released last year Loathfinder’s debut EP The Great Tired One is only two months old, fresh meat so to say. Not finding much information about the band I got intrigued to see what this mystic band is all about. What I found out was rather evil.

Loathfinder plays a very chilling to the bone type of blackened doom metal that resembles the kind of profound evil that bands such as Forgotten Tomb, Lifelover, Bethlehem or even early Katatonia plays. As you probably can guess this isn’t for the weak of heart. It’s heavy down-tempo with vocals that will torment your very soul, lyrics that will leave you in horror and an atmosphere that’s so dark and vile you’re unsure how to even take this in. With four tracks and clocking on 27 minutes you’re in for a ride of twisting doom. As I said this isn’t for the weak hearted and it took me a few listens to get into (much like Misanthropic Rage did) but once I did the disorted sound, the gnarling vocals and feeling of despair got the best of me and now I can say this is a great debut.

Loathfinder is one of those albums that challenges the listener but if you dare to take up that challenge then I am sure you will come to like it. Loathfinder’s debut EP The Great Tired Ones is out now through Godz ov War Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Loathfinder
Label: Godz ov War Productions
For fans of: Forgotten Tomb and Bethlehem
Favorite song: The Great Tired Ones