Sarcasm – Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds (Death Metal)

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For those unfamiliar (I have to confess I was) with Sarcasm their career goes all the way back to 1990 but after six demos the band disbanded in 1994. A few years ago, 2015 to be precise, the band re-merged from the shadows though with most of the members all having a past in Sarcasm from the 90’s. Sadly the sudden death of Oscar Karlsson (Defleshed, Gates of Ishtar) struck the band but they never wanted to give up, they wanted to keep on going and honour his memory. Matte Modin (Firespawn, Usurpress, ex-Dark Funeral, ex-Defleashed) took over the drums as Sarcasm were getting ready to work on Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds. However both Fredrik Wallenberg and Henrik Forslund left the band and Sarcasm had to assemble a new line-up once again. Eventually they did and Sarcasm now consist of Anders Eriksson, Jonas Söder, Matte Modin, Peter Laitinen and Heval Bozarslan.

This stormy past has probably influenced the band a lot in creating music. Raging speed and hard as a rock death metal, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind when listening to Sarcasm’s opener Bloodsoaked Sunrise from their latest album Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds. Sarcasm delivers a great mix of melodic death, your classic Swedish old school death and even some black metal elements in there. It’s like At the Gates, Dissection and Necrophobic joined forces. Some of the best from the Swedish metal scene that is. There is a track here for fans of any these bands as the songs do differ a bit in sound and that’s also what makes this a great album. There is variety and a sweet old school feeling to Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds that a metalhead who loves this sound will find right at home with.

If you haven’t heard Sarcasm before now is the time! Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds is an ode to the Swedish metal scene of old and even with all the hardship Sarcasm has suffered they’re back in form. If you only want a sample then I suggest listening to Scars of a Land Forgotten or the epic A Black Veil for Earth. Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds is out now through Dark Descent Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarcasmsweden
Label: Dark Descent Records
For fans of: Necrophobic and At the Gates
Favorite song: A Black Veil for Earth

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Karkaos – Children of The Void (Melodic Death Metal)

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Karkaos is a female-fronted melodic death metal band from Canada that has quite some hype surrounding them after their debut album in 2014, Empire, being a great starter for the band. Their epic sound, great riffs and vocals from Veronica Ortiz Rodriguez was a great mix. Since then the band has made some changes, new vocalist, lead guitarist and drummer. Namely Viky Boyer, Samael Pelletier (ex-Aeon’s Fall) and Justine Ethier (Blackguard and ex-Profugus Mortis). So with those changes it’s interesting to see what Karkaos offers in their sophomore release. Fun note is that the band was originally formed in 2003 under the name Sinister Vengeance but it wasn’t until the name change to Karkaos in 2009 the band started releasing albums.

First off, wow Boyer got a great voice and Ethier is a wicked drummer (knew that from his Blackguard times though), with Pelletier doing a superb job as the new lead guitarist. It’s definitely not slowed them down, as a matter of fact I think they sound even better. It’s more epic than ever and the growls joined with clean vocals hit the spot in this melodeath heart. It’s like the lovechild made from Arch Enemy and Epica. What could go wrong with that mix, am I right? Karkaos delivers a lot of headbang worthy tracks with some of my favorites being Kolossos, Let The Curtain Fall and Children of the Void (which sounds like a track that could feature on In Flames Come Clarity album). They took their time to release a sophomore album but it’s worth the wait, Karkaos are better than ever and fans of a more wicked Arch Enemy style with the symphonic elements of Epica would be wise not to miss this one out.

Children of the Void is out now as a self-released album.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/karkaos
For fans of: Arch Enemy and Epica
Favorite song: Let The Curtain Fall

Balfor – Black Serpent Rising (Melodic Black/Death Metal)

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From Ukraine I am lucky enough to find a very pleasant surprise. Balfor is a band I personally had never heard of before but the band has actually been active since 2001 (1997 as Alter Ego) and Black Serpent Rising is the bands third full-length. Playing what they themselves call barbaric black metal I was wondering what that meant. Musically it sounds a bit similar to a band I reviewed last year, Unlight or later Keep of Kalessin albums. Whereas their lyrical theme revolves around barbarians (guessing that’s where their genre name comes from).

One thing that really gets me thinking about barbarians is how brutal, yet epic the album starts off. It’s melodic black metal at it’s finest really, the tempo-changes and melodic rhythms are a thing of joy to listen to and it never really feels repetitive as each song is good in their own right. This Balfor horde is definitely a band that fans of melodic death/black metal around the world should know about. One of the biggest surprises this year for me, and it’s not even a new band! It’s clear that these guys have mastered many aspects of metal as it shows ever so brightly throughout Black Serpent Rising. My favorite tracks has to be the more, as I like to call it, “epic barbarian battle hymn” ones, Unbounded Wrath of Venom and Heralds of the Fall. All in all this is a great album, I can highly recommend this to any metalhead out there looking for something new.

Balfor’s third black metal offering Black Serpent Rising is out now through Drakkar Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/balforofficial
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BalforHorde
For fans of: Keep of Kalessin and Unlight
Favorite song: Unbounded Wrath of Venom

Nyktophobia – Fallen Empire (Melodic Death Metal)

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A lot of you melodeath fans might have heard of Dawn of Disease. Their last release Worship the Grave received a lot of praise last year and was one of the best melodic death metal releases. The creator, and vocalist, of Dawn of Disease Tomasz Wisniewski have been very busy as of late. Not only did Dawn of Disease release an album last year but in 2015 he and another Dawn of Disease member (drummer Christian Timmer) joined Michael Tybussek (ex-Agamendon, ex-Mor Dagor and ex-December Flower) newly formed band, namely Nyktophobia. The time is already upon us to get to hear the bands debut album Fallen Empire.

What actually got me to check in this album was me browsing bandcamp pages and found the artwork for the Fallen Empire album cover to be beautiful. Getting to know more about the band and the roots from Dawn of Demise made me even more happy to have found this hidden gem. Musically there might not be a surprise that it has a lot in common with Dawn of Disease but more so with older Amon Amarth. The melodies and groove is there that’s typical of a melodic death metal album but the harsh vocals and overall heavy feeling of the album gets me thinking back to albums such as Amon Amarth’s The Avenger or The Crusher. Reign of Fire and Hammer of the Gods being two great examples that really reminds me of Amon Amarth’s past records.

This was a positive album release for me. Nyktophobia’s debut album is certainly not one to miss if you enjoy melodic death metal of the old ways, as I am sure you do. Fans of old school Amon Amarth and Dawn of Disease will love this release. Fallen Empire is out now through Delicious Bowels Agency.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nyktophobia
For fans of: Dawn of Demise and Amon Amarth
Favorite song: Hammer of the Gods

Shadow of Intent – Reclaimer (Deathcore)

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Released the same day as Firespawn’s The Reprobate I had to make a tough choice which to review first. Since I’d review deathcore albums for half the week I thought it was time for some death metal then. That said it doesn’t necessarily mean I like this any less! It’s actually only been a year since Shadow of Intent dropped their debut album Primordial, the Halo (video game) themed melodic deathcore sound was perfect for me to have as one of the first review on The Metal Gamer. I didn’t have it in my top 20 of the year but that was honestly a miss, Primordial mainly missed out simply due to me forgetting how great it was and took in some albums on my list that I reviewed closer in time to when I was making the list. Oh well I guess that happens to a lot of people. So does Reclaimer live up to one of last years best releases?

They got the epic entry down with We Descend… orchestral setting joined with Ben Duerr’s growls from hell (or space in this case), sweet guitar plays and roaring drums. The orchestral elements are a lot more present on Reclaimer than on Primordial, which is great in my opinion as it adds more depth to the music. It also feels closer to the Halo series due to it, more of an epic battle kind of feeling. The use of clean vocals I was a bit scared how it would turn out but already when the single The Horror Within came out I knew there was nothing to worry about. He nails it! What else is new on Reclaimer? Oh Shadow of Intent managed to get some really class acts to feature on Reclaimer. Or how about Jason Evans (Ingested) and Dickie Allen (Infant Annihilator) joining their evil vile forces on The Catacombs? Aleksandr Shikolai (aka Alex Terrible from Slaughter to Prevail) continues to remain an active presence having featured in quite a few albums so far. He does a great job just as well here on The Gathering of All. Then we also have a vocalist from a band I recently started getting into Tom Barber from Lorna Shore on The Prophet’s Beckoning.

While I see those three songs as highlights on Reclaimer, Shadow of Intent pushes their sound even further even if those songs wouldn’t be on the album. Songs such as The Horror Within, The Forsaken Effigy and The Great Schism (instrumental song with sweet guitar, piano solos) are more than great examples of that. Primordial was a great debut, Reclaimer is, only one year later, even better and really shows the talent Shadow of Intent got. To be able to develop so much as a band in such a short amount of time is nothing short but greatness in the making. Who knows how far these guys can go? Maybe it’s time to bring Shadow of Intent into the discussion who can be crowned as the new deathcore kings soon? All hail the king Shadow of Intent. The best deathcore band to have spawned these past years.

April 28th was a wicked day for music, one of the best death metal and deathcore releases of the year out on the same day. Shadow of Intent’s sophomore album Reclaimer is out now as an independent release. A must have for any deathcore fan.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShadowofIntentCT
For fans of: Angelmaker and Aversions Crown
Favorite song: The Catacombs

Kaunis Kuolematon – Vapaus (Melodic Doom/Death Metal)

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Ending my days with pure Finnish music we slow it down a notch and go for a doom twist in Finlands melodic death metal heaven. Kaunis Kuolematon is Finnish for “Beautiful Immortal” and in many ways I think this shows in their music. Singing purely in Finnish it’s a band that doesn’t get much attention outside Finland but here is me hoping that is soon to change. Vapaus is Kaunis Kuolematon’s second release after their 2014 debut Kylmä kaunis maailma received quite a bit of praise for being one of the better death/doom debuts these past years. Being compared to Swallow the Sun in the process, which proves these rockers got a lot of talent. Vapaus hopefully continues that road and elevates the bands sound even more.

Eloton is a sweet introduction to Kaunis Kuolematon where the harsh and clean vocals works in great symphony and this is the type of death/doom combination I’ve come to love from the Nordic countries. Hurskas continue that right up until 2:20 in where it takes a turn and all of a sudden becomes a beautiful acoustic medley building up for fantastic guitar plays and riffs. Yksin is, in my humble opinion, the song that gets to me the most. It’s a beautiful ballad with lyrics that saddens you but also gives you hope, it’s simply stunning. What’s more is that the song smoothly transition to Tuhottu elämä which initially ups the tempo and brings you more of that headbang worthy riffing. The way Kaunis Kuolematon changes the tempo during the album really does makes me think of Swallow the Sun, one of the best death/doom bands out there. Ikuinen ikävä is the heaviest song on Vapaus and if it wasn’t for Yksin being one of the best songs I’ve heard all year it would be my favorite song on the album. It definitely got the best instrumental elements in my ears. Ikaros is yet another good slow paced song but it’s the next two tracks that grabs my attention the most. Arvet, one more track with very powerful lyrics along with great music, quickly becoming another favorite of mine. Sanat jotka jäivär sanomatta ends the album in a great way, a magnificent ballad where the use of clean and harsh vocals really shines. Ending this sad journey of war, life and death with memories of your loved ones being there forever.

Last year I had October Tide’s Winged Waltz as my favorite doom album release. This year I can sense Vapus grabbing that spot. Kaunis Kuolematon uses a formula that works and melodic doom/death doesn’t get much better than this in my opinion. Vapaus is out now through Haminian Sounds. Knowing Finnish or not I still suggest you get it!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KaunisKuolematon
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/pahankasvot
For fans of: Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth
Favorite song: Yksin

Damnation Plan – Reality Illusion (Melodic Death Metal)

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Continuing my Finnish journey and looking for new releases from upcoming bands we next have Damnation Plan. For some this might not be a new act as the band was actually formed back in 2004. Featuring members from MyGrain and Wintersun they are not a band to take lightly though. Their debut didn’t show its light until 2013 with The Wakening (fitting name since they took their time), an album that received a lot of praise. To follow the groundwork laid down by their debut the band has worked hard for four years to release an even better album in Reality Illusion. Now the question is, have Damnation Plan taken a step further or not?

The intro and Beyond These Walls works as a good introduction to the album, greeting its listeners with a flurry of riffs, great combination of harsh and clean vocals which gives you that classic Gothenburg melodic death metal feeling a la Soilwork, Scar Symmetry or Disarmonia Mundi. Tommy Tuovinen (ex-MyGrain) and Asim Searah (Wintersun) stands out throughout this whole album. This is a duo that can pull of a wide range of vocals together and it makes Damnation Plan have an edge on some other upcoming acts. Coming into Rise of the Messenger their teamwork is extra notable and it’s a great example on what they can pull off together. Add to the fact that Antti Lauri, Jarkko Lunnas, Kalle Niininen and Jukka Vehkamaa does some great musical performances then you got yourself a band truly on the rise. On Blinded Faith I think the band really comes into sync with both the song, riffs and melodies making it quickly becomes one of my favorite songs on the album. The Empowerment works as a great intermission and purely instrumental track that showcase the talent within the band.

Second half of the album starts with Maze of Despair, the albums ballad and where Asim Searah shines extra bright (might be because of his past as a singer in power metal band Kiuas). It’s almost like coming to the second act of a play, when listening to it I get Edguy vibes from that song. Interesting song choice on the album actually, might feel out of place to some but I thought it was a cool touch that makes you see Damnation Plan from another side. To be fair there are some power metal elements here and there so I am not that surprised with a ballad of that caliber. Next song Iron Curtain Falls is back to the melodic death metal sound with some sweet added synth to it that then turns into the best solo on the album at 3:40. Reality Illusion, The Final Destination and Don’t Talk to Strangers (another song where I get a lot of power metal vibes from) finishes off the album on a high note. All three being of quite high quality, keeps on giving great riffs, sweet sounding vocals and headbanging material. With The Final Destination being by far the longest song on the album, clocking in at 8:26, it features just about a barrage of everything. That being said it isn’t actually my favorite song (still great though) it’s instead a tie between Blinded Faith and Iron Curtain Falls. The two songs where I think Damnation Plan shows their full potential.

I enjoyed this album, it’s better than their debut and Damnation Plan really feels like a band that can become a new big melodeath export from Finland. Their melodic death metal sound sticks out from most out there, especially with the power metal elements and ballads that are smoothly inserted into the mix. Reality Illusion is out now from Inverse Records!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/damnationplan
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DamnationPlan
For fans of: MyGrain and Soilwork
Favorite song: Blinded Faith