Exgenesis is a rather new band, having formed in 2014 but it consists of some very talented musicians who all got a great resume to boot (more on that later). Personally I had high hopes for this release just due to the fact the members in the band has released some music I’ve really enjoyed. It would prove Exgenesis could deliver the goods and would do so very well at that.
From a person who don’t listen all that often to this genre I found Solve et Coagula being an excellent album. From start to finish it kept me wanting more of those deadly vocals from Alejandro Lotero (Antithesis and ex-Aeonian Sorrow) accompanied with his two brothers in arms Christian Netzell (Volturyon and ex-In Mourning) and Jari Lindholm (Enshine and ex-Slumber). The addition of Netzell on drums has made Exgenesis sound so much better than they did on their EP Aphotic Veil too, great addition of a drummer who has a good resume from different genres already.
There is literally nothing holding this album back, it’s through and through a superb offering to its genre. Where I think October Tide didn’t deliver as I’d hoped on their last release Exgenesis came in instead and swept me away. A must listen for the fans of the genre and can be a great entry point, a guide, for those who hasn’t wandered the path before.
Artist: Exgenesis Label: Rain Without End Records Release date: May 15th, 2020 Favorite track: Where the Hope Ends For fans of: October Tide & Soliloquium Score: 4/5 Excellent
Evil Dead inspired melodic death metal in the veins of The Black Dahlia Murder and At the Gates featuring members from Visceral Disgorge and Whisteria Cottage, what could go wrong!? Not much it would seem as the bands debut EP Blood in Flesh, Inked in Blood is a solid album and very enjoyable.
The album honestly first served as a quick fix while I waited for Verminous to drop (out today) and while they are very similar I have to say Book of the Dead has enough of their own core to make it memorable. There are breakdowns and some punishing gutturals on a few places here that reminds you where the members originates from. A nice touch and makes it stand out from not being a pure The Black Dahlia Murder clone. Listen to “The Offering” and you will know exactly what I mean, my favorite song for sure but the opener, and title track, “Bound in Flesh, Inked in Blood” is a close second. All in all this is 18 minutes of high quality melodic death metal on the heavier side with a nice concept fitting death metal and you should make sure to not miss this one.
Artist: Book of the Dead Label: Rebel Pyro Musick Release date: April 10th, 2020 For fans of: The Black Dahlia Murder & At the Gates Favorite song: The Offering Score: 3.5/5 Very good
A duo from the land down under, Australia, created in 2017 a death metal band named Aeons Abyss. With melodic riff driven death metal heavily influenced from both the death and thrash metal of old where bands such as Obituary, Morgoth, Entombed and Megadeth comes to mind the band released their debut EP Pity Eloquence in February. They haven’t stopped there though and just months later we now have their debut full-length album Impenitent in our hands!
Opening up with the title track it quickly becomes apparent just how much their style draws inspiration from previously mentioned bands. Easy to say I love this stuff and Aeons Abyss grabs my attention from the get go. One thing that does stand out for me is the vocals. That pure powerful voice where both low growls and mid shrieking is used in a way you don’t hear all that often in this day and age is something that might put some listeners off, it did to me at first too. Given it a few spins though it went from being what I thought holding the album back to its strong point. Funny how things can grow if you just give it time and really dig into an album, one of the things I love when it happens because those are the albums that usually sticks with you.
The intro to “You Shall Be As Gods” is another thing I came to love, the Victorian era type of intro which then falls into sweet midtempo riffing is a thing of beauty. Their previously released single “Darkness Falls” then ups the ante and delivers supreme headbanging worthy riffs where the Obituary influences shine. Two completely different takes on death metal but both executed so well. Which is exactly where I will end this review. Aeons Abyss has created wicked old school death metal where they take some of the best points from different styles and make it there own. It’s really refreshing and a real grower. You might not love Impentient on your first spin, hell you’ll probably have to be an old school death metal fanatic like me to begin with, but I assure you if you give it time you’ll only beg for more.
Written by J.B.
Artist: Aeons Abyss Label: Independent For fans of: Obituary and Morgoth Release date: November 1st, 2019 Favorite song: Darkness Falls Score: 4/5 Excellent
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Not long ago I reviewed the latest Netherbird album and stated they were one of the most underrated bands in Swedish metal. Along with those comes now another band I feel doesn’t get enough praise, In Mourning. They’ve been going for 19 years now (20 year anniversary tour next year please?) and every single album has been wicked with their crown jewel Monolith being one of the best albums in its genre to drop this past decade, if not the best. It’s obviously been hard to beat that when the bar has been set so ridiculously high but despise that both The Wright of Oceans and Afterglow have been killer records who both were high on my list for the best of 2012 and 2016 respectively. With a slight line-up change for Garden of Storms I still had very high hopes In Mourning would keep their level of excellence just like before.
Kicking of Garden of Storms are the two previously released singles “Black Storm” and “Yields of Sand”. Both beings songs I’ve had on my playlist since they came out, proving the line-up changes hasn’t done anything negative to In Mourning at all. Top quality tracks from a band I expect nothing else from and this is the type of quality only a few bands such as Be’lakor, Insomnium and Opeth could deliver apart from In Mourning in this progressive melodic death metal style. Each song got their own standout quirk to it but always keeping that red thin line of In Mourning signature sound to it, perfectly executed and makes it very easy to have this album on repeat for weeks onwards while always finding a new favorite track along the way.
I really enjoyed Afterglow when that came out but Garden of Storms has taken it one step further with just about every aspect. The only track I can’t really stand behind here is “Hierophant”, which I find being weaker than the rest of the album. However when I say that it’s just nitpicking as for most bands out there that would probably be a standout track, just that when In Mourning has such a high quality stamp even good songs can feel a bit flawed compared to the rest. October is only a week old and already we got two album of the year contenders in our hands with In Mourning and Insomnium leading the pack. This is In Mourning’s best album since Monolith, hell I’m even close to saying this is their best album but I’m just not ready for that statement yet seeing this album is still really new and I’m all hyped up and I was close on setting that 5/5 score. What I do know now though is that you need this album!
Written by J.B.
Artist: In Mourning Label: Agonia Records For fans of: Be’lakor & Insomnium Release date: October 4th, 2019 Favorite song: Black Storm Score: 4.5/5 Incredible
Funny enough I’ve got a few promos from the beautiful country of Norway this past month and none of them have been black metal! From Blood Red Throne to Chase the Dead now it’s time to look into a band named Haunted By Silhouettes, a melodic death metal band who’s about to release their sophomore album The Last Day on Earth.
It becomes quite apparent that Haunted By Silhouettes takes a lot of influences from the Swedish and especially Finnish melodeath scene as the albums title track “The Last Day on Eath” starts the album. Insomnium and Dark Tranquillity levels of melodeath. On “Pyroclast” they upp the level a bit on the heaviness which later on “Deadlock” goes even higher on the absolute brutal intro, here they even use cleans and I see the songs as a mix of As I Lay Dying and Atreyu styled metal. Not going to lie though I wasn’t a big fan of the cleans used here, I’ve heard it done a lot better but also a lot worse. Decent but doesn’t do the trick and I would like the song a lot more without them to be fair. “Death of Janus” does a lot better job, switching the cleans to screamo and here it works as a charm together with the growls, making the track one of my favorites on the album together with “Jakta” which just has superb melodies throughout the whole song and much emotions. Also has to mention the song “Undertow” which has a great guest appearance by an female vocalist I couldn’t find the name of but it was definitely a standout track.
I do respect how Haunted By Silhouettes tries to incorporate many different styles into their music, with different ones standing out on different songs especially on the first half of The Last Day on Earth. You can hear hardcore, metalcore, deathcore and even progressive elements alongside the melodic death metal. I sometimes feel they are grasping at too many styles though and it’s a bit all over the place at times. The second part of the album is a lot more straight forward melancholic sounding melodeath though and this is where they shine as I found everything from “Jakta” and onwards being a more consistent level.
I’ve heard quite a few say that 2019 is a revival year for melodeath and I can only jump on that train and go cho cho! It might not hit the insanely high quality that Eternal Storm came thundering upon us in August but Haunted By Silhouettes presents a varied album but also along with a mixed bag of quality. When it’s good it’s really good but it has a few too many bumps on the road to make it stand out in what’s turning out to be a stellar year for melodeath.
A band that I don’t think has truly got the appreciation it deserves is the Swedish melodic black/death metal band Netherbird. Sure a lot of people know about them but it seems to never been that much hype around their albums when they drop. I find that weird because not only are they a great band but they are in many ways the closest we can get to that sweet sweet Dissection sound in modern time (I would say Unanimated too but they are alive and kicking again). While the lyrical theme differs a lot from both Unanimated and Dissection that perfect passage between black and death metal is played here just as well. Into the Vast Uncharted is the bands 11th album (counting the EP’s, fifth full-length) and they’ve aged like a fine wine with their last album The Grander Voyage being the best they had done. Will Into the Vast Uncharted be just as good?
New since the last album is the addition of a full-time drummer in the Netherbird ranks. Fredrik Widigs (ex-Marduk, ex-Demonical and ex-Nordjevel to name a few) did a fine job as a session drummer on The Grander Voyage but now the line-up is complete as Fredrik Andersson (A Canorous Quintet, This Ending, ex-Amon Amarth) joined Netherbird in 2016 and has been able to be a part of this album since the very start due to it, and it shows. It’s not easy to stand out in a band that’s had drummers of such high caliber as Widigs, Erlandsson (At the Gates, ex-Paradise Lost) or Fjellström (Nordjevel, ex-Dark Funeral, ex-Aeon) but hell Andersson manages to really shine on Into the Vast Uncharted. He makes his presence known and stands out especially on tracks like “Saturnine Ancestry” and “Nexus of Unlight” where the intro’s literally is a kickstart into headbanging from the drums alone. That being said it’s obviously not a one-man show. Nephente on vocals is as good as ever, Jon Nödtveidt would be pleased, with the bass/guitar work from Nord, Jacobsson, André and Bizmark really hitting the sweet spots. No one could ever complain on the musicianship involved in a Netherbird album, that’s for sure.
There is honestly only one track I have a bit of a problem with on Into the Vast Uncharted and that’s “Eventide Evangel”. It starts of as a quite boring tune, even for a sort of ballad, but eventually it unleashes a flurry of wicked riffs and thundering drums that at least makes the song end on a high to eventually lead into one of the best tracks on the album “The Obsidian White”. They made it work a lot better on “Harvest the Stars” for this sort of slower tune, much due to the length of the two songs as “Harvest the Stars” is quite a lot shorter and never really loses focus as I think “Eventide Evangel” did. “Mercury Skies” clocking on almost nine minutes could be suffering from the same fate but here the melancholic tunes and atmosphere keeps it together well, showcasing how Netherbird has done these type of songs incredible well in the past on songs like “Hinterlands” and “Pillars of the Sky”. Also has to be said the production value is once again of the highest level, I might even go as far as saying it’s a step greater than it was on The Grander Voyage.
Into the Vast Uncharted is yet another excellent album from Netherbird, a band that I think never falters. With songs like “Mercury Skies” (which takes the mantle from “Pillars of the Sky” as a superb epic song with ease), “Saturnine Ancestry” and “The Obsidian White” keeping the flame burning of the brightest blue this bird once again soars high. Is it as good as The Grander Voyage? Honestly I think the two albums are quite different so hard to tell after only a few days with the album. Into the Vast Uncharted is more intense and maybe not as grand of a voyage (nor as symphonic) as it’s predecessor, but this is closer to Dissection than they’ve ever been, blurring out the boundaries between death and black metal. One thing I do know for certain right now though, The Grander Voyage was on my top albums of 2016 list and Into the Vast Uncharted will be just as well!
Written by J.B.
Artist: Netherbird Label: Eisenwald For fans of: Dissection and Unanimated Release date: September 27th, 2019 Favorite song: Mercury Skies Score: 4/5 Excellent
Sweden isn’t just famous for Ikea, meatballs and knäckebröd, but we got a little something called death metal that flourish here too! Creeping Flesh from Gothenburg is quite fresh, formed in 2013, meat that’s now creeping Into the Meat Grinder with their full-length debut. Prior this album though Creeping Flesh has been releasing material with haste as they released two EP’s and a demo in a three year span. Me being completely unaware of the band before this full-length didn’t know what to expect but safe to say it quickly became apparent that going into this meat grinder would leave me utterly destroyed.
“Tank Corps Unleashed” with the mighty Jonny Petterson (Gods Forsaken and Wombbath to name a few) kicks off the album in class, damn that tune hit me hard and got me in a good mood when writing this early in the morning. A great featuring to say the least. One would think that Creeping Flesh might have done a bad decision in pulling all the stops on the opener but hell no they did not! “Black Twisted Limbs” turns out to be even more… twisted and already Creeping Flesh eradicate my doubts on how they handle themselves without help. Then a much faster track, with a bit of that Gothenburg melodeath flair to it, “Stench of Guts” comes on and now I’m just completely sold on these guys. Old school death metal a la Obituary, Asphyx, Hail of Bullets and especially Bolt Thrower meets the riffs of At the Gates. It’s just a great match and your neck will get sour. “Zaamurets” is even more groovy and I can just see myself throwing first in the air when this songs gets played live. The album never loses momentum and the way they change style and tempo just a tiny bit from song to song keeps it interesting and each song stands well on their own. Hell I had a really hard time choosing my favorite song due to this, they are all good in their own way haha. If I had to choose my top three though then “Tank Corps Unleashed”, “Black Twisted Limbs” and “Zaamurets” will have to be it, basically you can say that first half of this album is close to death metal album of the year material.
Into the Meat Grinder just blew me away, super tight death metal that combines the old school death metal sound with a bit of melodic death mixed into it and Creeping Flesh is now a band I will follow very closely. Sure you might argue they don’t really add anything new to the vast ocean of death metal but when it’s made this well, with top notch production value to boot then I say it’s one of the best death metal albums you will hear all year! The album drops today, and I advise you to grab a copy. Not only because it freaking owns but you will also support independent underground death metal while doing so!
Formed in 2016 this trio from Germany has slowly but surely crafted their debut album The Rise of Norn which is melodic death metal to its core but with that epic stamp that bands such as Wolfheart, Kalmah, Wintersun, Ensiferum and Brymir are known for.
Especially Brymir and Ensiferum are two of the bands I draw parallels to while listening to The Rise of Norn. While I could wish some more orginality there is no denying Vagrant has released a solid debut album and taken influence from some great bands while writing this. With a nice slow paced intro “The Whispering Sea” it draws the listener in for a groovy riff fest with subtle orchestral parts in “Blinded by Destiny”, a good start. “Deceptive Similarity” starts out insanely heavy, Amon Amarth like, but sadly it quickly slows down and basically becomes the ballad of the album. It took me a few spins to appreciate this song, which I did in the end mind you. But I do wonder how it would sound if they did a more heavy song, with that melodic epic death metal buzz to it. I personally think that would sound even better.
“Darkness During the Reign of a Black Sun” gives me a straight up folk metal vibe a la Ensiferum with some nice solos to come with it. Whereas “Spirit of Valor” later on really capture that said epic spirit added more great symphonic elements and the whole shabang which makes it my favorite song on the album together with “Blood on a Crow’s Break” which ends the album on a high note.
The Rise of Norn delivers exactly what I expected from Vagrant going into this. A solid debut that has a few flaws but is ultimately something they can build on. The genre is a tough one to break into but skilled musicians as they are I’m sure they can do so in time.
Written by J.B.
Artist: Vagrant Label: Black Lion Records For fans of: Brymir and Ensiferum Release date: July 19th, 2019 Favorite song: Spirit of Valor Score: 3/5 Good
Lets start with saying how important a great album cover can be. There I was looking through some promos I’ve received the past month to grab something to review and what caught my eyes was the album The Apothecary from Archaic Decapitator due to the fine art alone. And what do you know it was made by who I think is one of the best artists in the business, Caelen Stokkermans. It wasn’t just visually stunning but it also captured the lyrical concept of the album well so you know what you’re in for.
Who are Archaic Decapitator then? Hailing from Connecticut in the United States the five-piece was created in 2007. Originally they started of with playing straight up gory death metal but eventually evolved into a more sophisticated melodic death metal band. The only full-length they’ve released so far is Impalement Ceremonies in 2011 as they have since been focusing on EP’s with The Apothecary being the third release in four years.
It doesn’t take long before the main influences for Archaic Decapitator to become known, Scandinavian death metal and especially the Finnish style with bands like Insomnium, Mors Principium Est and Omnium Gatherum coming to mind. The now classic synth melodies accompanies the catchy riffing well and with the great vocals from Kyle Quintin the whole package is delivered in style. The songs offers enough variety to hold their own and give the listener different experiences. It all ends in the epic seven minute long title track “The Apothecary” which ends the album on a high note. However I think the best track on the album goes to “Cruelty of the Host Star”, uncompromising melodeath that’s short but sweet, got a killer solo and no added fluff to it. Just straight up class melodeath that leaves a good taste in your mouth. Having said variety on the album is a big strength of Archaic Decapitator and I would argue there is a different favorite song for everyone here due to that fact.
This is actually the best melodic death metal album I’ve heard this year so far. Fans of the style, especially the Scandinavian sort, will be sure to grab a copy of this album today if you haven’t already.
Written by J.B.
Label: Independent For fans of: Insomnium and Mors Principium Est Release date: April 19th, 2019 Favorite song: Cruelty of the Host Star Score: 4/5 Incredible