Albums of the month: May

Oh May God did this month deliver on all fronts. Be it death or black metal with their different sub genres May had you covered. Or what about new releases from the mighty Vader, Forgotten Tomb, Winterfylleth, Devangelic or one of my personal favorite bands of all time Naglfar? That’s just part of the months releases too as it had a bunch of surprises to boot with Burial and Cosmovore coming from no where knocking me out! If that doesn’t make you happy I’m not sure you will honestly. Anyways get following The Metal Gamer monthly playlist to get a quick listen on all these awesome bands then just dig into the full albums if you like what you hear. Easy yeah? So lets go!

Album of the month

Burial – Satanic Upheaval

I stumbled upon this band only due to getting the latest promo from Foetal Juice and saw a member was also in this band. Decided to check them out as Burial had a new album out and actually been active since 2005. Glad I did because Satanic Upheaval knocked me out completely! No nonsense, just satanic metal with wicked riffs to boot. The song “Decayed by Time” might just become my most played song of the year as I can’t stop listening to it.

Burial – Satanic Upheaval was released May 8th via Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings.

Runners-up

Naglfar – Cerecloth

Are you surprised to see one of my absolute favorite bands of all time being in the album of the month section? I’m sure you’re not but I for one am glad Naglfar still has it in them even after such a long time between the albums. Cerecloth will be one of my favorite albums of the year and a wicked comeback for one of the kings of melodic black metal.

Naglfar – Cerecloth was released May 8th via Century Media Records.

Afsky – Ofte jeg drømmer mig død

Denmark knows a thing or two about creating superb underground black metal. Afsky is definitely on the forefront for the Danish black metal force together with bands like Solbrud and Orm. This is the bands best work to date and an album you simply can’t miss.

Afsky – Ofte jeg drømmer mig død was released May 12th via Vendetta Records.

Cosmovore – Into the Necrosphere

This release caught me completely by surprise. Randomly found it, thought the album cover looked pure awesome and instantly got sucked into the music from the very first notes. Been on constant rotation since. A fine debut!

Cosmovore – Into the Necrosphere was released May 24th as an independent release.

Cosmic Putrefaction – The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers

I’ve been waiting for this album since their very strong 2019 debut and it didn’t disappoint. Cosmic Putrefaction is death metal gold!

Cosmic Putrefaction – The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers was released May 22nd via I, Voidhanger Records.

More great albums of May

Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Vader – Solitude in Madness
Thrawsunblat – Insula
Sojourner – Premonitions
..and Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Green Carnation – Leaves of Yesteryear
KŁY – Wyrzyny
Omniarch – Omniarch
Esophagus – Defeated By Their Inferiority
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Deathing – All Hail the Decay
Killitorous – The Afterparty
Armagedda – Svindeldjup Ättestup
Henry Kane – Age of the Idiot
Féleth – Depravity
Pile of Priests – Pile of Priests
Noctu – Gelidae Mortis Imago
Devangelic – Ersetu
Ara – Jurisprudence
Sinister – Deformation of the Holy Realm
Revenge – Strike.Smother.Dehumanize
Centinex – Death in Pieces
Protosequence – A Blunt Description of Something Obscene
Brendanfraserectomy – Brendan’s Brutally Brutal bRevenge
Bašmu – The Encircling
Cauldron Black Ram – Slave
Exgenesis – Solve et Coagula
Cryptic Shift – Visitations from Enceladus
Iku-Turso – Pakana
Bloodred – The Raven’s Shadow
Ruadh – The Rock of the Clyde
Acârash – Descend to Purity
Árstíðir Lífsins – Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir
Father – Inferno
Wastewalker – Lowborn
Sielunvihollinen – Veren Äänet
Kryptamok – Verisaarna
Shadow in the Darkness – Erstwhile Befell
Nygmalion – Deluminate
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Bitterness – Dead World Order
Rannoch – Reflections upon Darkness
Hatchets For Hands – Cabaret of Decay

The Metal Gamer Songs of the Month Spotify playlist

Netherbird – Into the Vast Uncharted (Melodic Black/Death Metal)

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

Grafvitnir – Venenum Scorpionis (Melodic Black Metal)

A band that took me by surprise with their 2017 release was Swedish melodic black metal act Grafvitnir. I’d never heard of them before their fifth album release but it was a superb offering to the Swedish black metal of old and with that release I now had the band on my radar. Fast forward to 2019 and the trio has now released their sixth album called Venenum Scorpionis via the ever so great Carnal Records. One thing worth noting on the line-up is Niantiel is in it, who has a past with Grá and is currently also in Cursed 13. Grá and Cursed 13 shares most of it’s members and are lead by the dark star Heljarmadr (Dark Funeral, Domgård, Grá, Cursed 13).

Venenum Scorpionis picks of right where Keys to the Mysteries Beyond left off and offers us 37 minutes of pure, cold black metal. They make no secret that this is yet another homage to the early Swedish black metal scene, great as it is. If you liked their old albums, actually scratch that, if you even like old school black metal then this will be right up your dark alley. Be it Dissection, Naglfar, Valkyrja, Funeral Mist or the new blood Blood of Serpents that’s your poison then you should know of Grafvitnir, if you don’t it’s time to repent. One thing I praised Grafvitnir for before was their use of Swedish lyrics on “Vargavinter”, here they offer one more with the track “Ormeld” and I still wish they would write even more as their songwriting in Swedish gives me chills to be honest.

There aren’t really much differences from Keys to the Mysteries Beyond and Venenum Scorpionis, for the good and bad. As I stated before you know exactly what you get from Grafvitnir and if you’ve enjoyed their previous efforts then you will have a good time with this too. It’s a band that has found their sound and is sticking by it, I for one think this is one of the best underground black metal bands in Sweden right now so I say keep it up! The two main differences for me personally is that I enjoy the songwriting more on Venenum Scorpionis but I thought Keys to the Mysteries Beyond had more melodic and atmospheric sides to it which speaks to me more in the long run. Each to their own though and I advise you to give both a listen to compare. I do need to add the instrumental track “I nattens mantel svept” is beautiful, bringing that medieval acoustic flare and is a nice ice breaker that weirdly enough fits into the rest of the album. Will be interested to see which album I will get back to the most down the road but fact is they are both great and black metal fans have another sweet dark offering given to them early this year!

Written by J.B.

Label: Carnal Records
For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection
Release date: February 22nd, 2019
Favorite song: Ormeld
Score: 4/5 Incredible

Damnation Army – Death Macabre (Black/Death Metal)

It’s been ten years since the one-man band Damnation Army released an album. Thomas Nyholm (Hordes of the Apocalypse and Isgärde) started this project in 2002 and were really active the first seven years with one EP and four full-length albums to its name but since then it’s been quiet for ten years, until now.

Quite fast it hits me Damnation Army is an army to be reckoned with. This is the kind of music with its roots heavy in the Dissection sound, one I am sure we all love. The vocals though is more from the Norwegian black metal scene as it reminds me a lot of a mix between Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) and Abbath (Immortal), rather sinister stuff.

The 30 minutes fly bye and it sure is a nice listen, it gives me a lot of great riffs and nods to the early era of black metal. While there isn’t much separating the songs it in all honesty doesn’t have to as you’re sure to headbang your way through it anyways. I also need to highlight the track Ancient Evil Rituals, now that’s how you make an Dissection homage! I simply can’t get the riffs out of my head! All in all sometimes you simply need an album like Death Macabre that offers a single lane approach, with no gimmicks and bullshit. It might not be memorable enough for you to remember in a year or two but for now it hits those sweet spots for this old Dissection lover just right.

Written by J.B.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection
Release date: January 17th, 2019
Favorite song: Ancient Evil Rituals
Score: 3/5 Good

Valkyrja – Throne Ablaze (Black Metal)

Let me tell you some of my history with Valkyrja. First of they were one of the first black metal bands that got me into the whole scene together with bands like Naglfar, Dissection, Dimmu Borgir, Thyrfing and Satyricon. At first it was honestly the name itself that made me try them out (my love for vikings you know) but they quickly proved to me they are a band to be reckoned with. I’ve only really listened to black metal these past six years or so meaning that when I found out about Valkyrja they had recently released The Antagonist’s Fire and I got a lot of love for that album due to it. Looking back I now think Contamination is their best release but obviously knowing they had a new album coming in 2018 I wanted to hear how they sound now as I think their releases differs quite a bit. With Valkyrja having a new lineup with the release of Throne Ablaze it made me wonder how that would impact on both the quality and the way they went with the sound. I took my time to give this albums a few spins as I was afraid the end of Valkyrja would draw near due to those changes. Who would want the bubble to burst with a band you have had a long-term relationship with?

Fact is it’s the lineup changes hasn’t really taken a toll on the band. The aggression from their previous albums is still there, granted a few songs (looking at you “Transcendental Death”) are a bit weak. The memorable catchy songs, riffs and speed is what made Valkyrja easy to get into which shows very well here. For some trve black metal fanatics the production will probably be too crisp, the songs too catchy etc but hate it all you like Valkyrja is a band that’s perfect to bring in new people to black metal even today. They have always had quite long songs which due to the great songwriting, riffs and aggression has worked. It does on Throne Ablaze too but at times I do feel they could have trimmed some fat to make the album have even more power.

There are a few tracks which stands out, a few that kinda disappears but it’s another solid release from Valkyrja. It isn’t as good as the, in my opinion, masterpiece Contamination but seeing the band has both a new drummer in Victor Parri (Desolator, Isole) and singer since Simon Wizén is now both on guitar and vocal duty I was expecting Throne Ablaze to take a major hit in quality. Rest assured it hasn’t though and their fans will have a great time with this album, if this lineup can become stable I think they can hit even higher levels too. If their next album has more aggression (this album was a bit too soft for my liking), is a bit more consistent, manage to captivate the listener better on their longer tracks then the overall experience will be a lot better. Valkyrja did also try to have more variety with those slower songs which I respect and while it didn’t do it for me this time around maybe they can use that way of thinking to create even more memorable albums in the future.

Throne Ablaze won’t change their standing in the hierarchy of black metal, it’s not even their own best offering. However here is definitely music for the black metal fans out there, with tracks like “Crowned Serpent”, “Opposer of Light” (here I think Parri shines) and “Throne Ablaze” being top tier songs. A pleasant surprise from a fan who was expecting the worst.

Written by J.B.

Label: World Terror Committee
For fans of: Watain and Dissection
Release date: November 26th, 2018
Favorite song: Crowned Serpent
Score: 3/5 Good

Lucifer’s Cold Embrace – Elegy of Lilith (Symphonic Black/Death Metal)

Like Naglfar, Dissection and Dimmu Borgir? Good then you’re in for a treat! Martin van Beek is back with his solo project Lucifer’s Cold Embrace which in case you missed it I did review the debut EP back in 2016 and praised it for being a top notch album. Well here we are with the full-length debut Elegy of Lilith and Martin offers more of the same melodic black worship that the likes previous mentioned Naglfar and Dissection has done for years.

Martin has taken the symphonic elements even further on Elegy on Lilith than it was on the Sovereign Heresy where some songs really tend to go closer to the Dimmu Borgir road than before. Still the music definitely lies the closest to Naglfar, which is of no fault as Naglfar is one of the best melodic black metal bands to ever walk this earth. Elegy of Lilith is more than double the playtime than the EP debut was and Martin now has a lot more room to explore the different sides of Lucifer’s Cold Embrace. There is more synths and juicy riffs where, even if this is music close to the influences, Lucifer’s Cold Embrace stands out and is no mere clone. The ten songs the album offers are simply solid and while I do still think “The Gift of Life” from Sovereign Heresy is currently the best song Martin has made this is a more consistent offering, although I do wish at times there would be a bit less symphonic black metal and more “trve black” sounds. The closing song “Legion” also does a fine job giving “The Gift of Life” a run for its money as I find the riffs there being extra icy!

When I last checked I noticed Lucifer’s Cold Embrace have started to get some followers and with this release I can only see that increasing as it’s great black metal on the symphonic/melodic side that is heavy influenced by some of the best bands out there, but with a modern production. Highly recommended!

Written by J.B.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection
Release date: November 30th, 2018
Favorite song: Legion
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Night Crowned – Humanity Will Echo Out (Blackened Death Metal)

Meet the new kids on the block, a Swedish blackened death machine that’s here to take no prisoners. When a band features current and ex members from The Crown, Cipher System, Dark Funeral and Nightrage then you know they are worth looking into. I will tell you right now that they crush it and live up to the hype! Humanity Will Echo Out might just be a 15 minute EP but damn do you want to spin this over and over again. The vocals are definitely the highlight for me on this album. The new blood in Swedish metal Ken Romlin (you may know him from Disrated or 2 The Gallows) does a fantastic work behind the mic, he has a good mix of styles where you hear black, death and even deathcore ranges.

The synphonic opening on No Room for Hope makes me draw parallels to another good entry to the Swedish metal scene, Zornheym. Which is a good thing as their debut was one of the best to spawn from last year, just like Night Crowned’s Humanity Will Echo Out is this year. Nocturnal Pulse follows it up with an even more memorable track and when All Life Ends close it out I can only think that the one real downside is that it’s “only” an 15 minute EP, I want more. A lot more. At least now I know Night Crowned is the real deal, this is a band that I am sure will draw many followers into their unforgiving blackened death metal style. Apart from Zornheym I hear a lot of parts that reminds me of the usual suspects in this genre Dissection and Unanimated, but also Naglfar, Belphegor, Dark Funeral and even Carach Angren influences can be heard here. Crystal clear production, agressive thundering drumming, catchy riffs and as stated before an increadible vocal performance. What more can you ask for really?

Written by J.B.

Label: Black Lion Records
For fans of: Belphegor and Unanimated
Release date: November 30th, 2018
Favorite song: Nocturnal Pulse
Score: 4/5 Incredible

Copenhell 2018

ladda ned

It’s been just about three weeks since I visited Copenhell and I did promise to write some lines about my festival experience. Sorry it’s taken so long but here it goes!

Warm-up day

As me and my wife wanted to get a good camping spot, get to know the site some, and of course see one or two band early we had purchased the tickets including warm-up. Lucky for us we had three friends (two which I’d never met before actually) that had saved good spots already. It was really windy, terrain not the easiest (the soil was hard) to put up a tent on but hey we did it and started drinking beer, cider to get ready for Mustasch. I was actually a bit surprised how many people had turned up to see Mustasch, not because the band is bad or unknown but because it was a warm-up day and they started rather early. A lot of people were already in high spirits and Mustasch is a great live band with a lot of energy on the stage that was a fitting act to get the crowd going. Have to add that Ralf Gyllenhammar is a really good frontman who always seem to perform great while also making the crowd be with him. Sadly I didn’t get to see any more bands this day as I in all honesty had such a good time at the Biergarten drinking beers, taking shots, and listening to some funny metal karaoke that I stayed there until I was basically too drunk to remember how I got back to the tent the day after.

Day 1

As some sort of a festival miracle I was not hungover at all when I woke up so I could instantly go up to buy some coffee and breakfast. Once I got that in me and my energy was back up I could even start chilling with some beers while listening to some of the upcoming bands for hype. The first band we went to see this day was none other than Parkway Drive, first time ever for me. Due to the wind and how dusty everything was every moshpit or circle pit turned the area into a big cloud of…..you guessed it dust. Even though it was kinda cool the sound and visual experience was a bit of a downer at times due to it however Parkway Drive did a splendid job at the stage, a superb opening act for the main stage Helvíti. Winston McCall is a killer vocalist, one of the best in metalcore, and it showed. They played both new and old material which pleased the crowd. Next up was Zeal & Ardor where we catched a couple of songs, they were all good mind you. However as my wife is a fan of Asking Alexandria (I was too years ago) we decided to only watch 15 minutes of Zeal & Ardor then go to the Hades stage to watch them. Asking Alexandria have not aged well with me, their old songs were butchered with just clean singing and the new material is…. well not good in my opinion. Even my wife wasn’t happy with it and we eventually decided to go and eat instead before Nightwish started. I’ve seen Nightwish before but this was the first time I would see them with Floor Jansen. Even as a Swede I didn’t really feel Anette Olzon unlocked her full potential and didn’t continue the Tarja legacy well at all (who can blame her though, Tarja is one of the best). With Jansen I now feel Nightwish has got their frontwoman. She sings really, really good and she just radiates confidence on stage while having the crowd in her fingers. Nightwish played songs from many different albums where of course songs like “Wish I Had An Angel”, “End of All Hope” and “Nemo” were the highlights. A pleasant surprise to see a Nightwish that now feels complete again.

To follow it up we had to rush to the smaller stage Pandemonium in order to watch the band I looked forward to the most on day one, Thy Art is Murder. I’d seen them once before, two years ago at Graspop. However back then the band didn’t feature Chris “CJ” McMahon, it just wasn’t the same. Now with McMahon holding the reins it was a whole other beast on stage. It was crushing to say the least, the energy, the crowd, the viscous pits. It had it all I hoped for. When the deathcore classics “Reign of Darkness” and “The Purest Strain of Hate” came on I was as happy as a fan of that band can be. They delivered and are now back in full force, best band I’d seen at the festival so far. By the time Thy Art is Murder had finished Arch Enemy was already under-way with their set, we saw the end of it and it was good. I’d already seen Arch Enemy a few times before so I knew what to expect. It seemed like a normal day at the office for them and as one that things their latest album is one of their weaker ones I wasn’t of course too keen on them playing a lot of new material (which was to be expected). Arch Enemy are professionals inside and out, they did a good show, as they always do but they were better the times I’ve seen them in the past, mainly since they played more songs I liked. After Arch Enemy came the band I was looking forward to the most besides Thy Art is Murder, Avenged Sevenfold where we went to the very front row. I have a story to share. My mom passed away a few years ago and since then there is a song I’ve wanted to experience live more than any other “So Far Away”. I’ve seen Avenged Sevenfold live three times before Copenhell and they’ve never played it (first time I saw them was when their self-titled album had been released though, so couldn’t have obviously). Avenged Sevenfold opened up great, showed Copenhell a good time and as always M. Shadows (who’s gained a lot of weight) showcase what it means to be a good frontman with his stage presence. Then there it was, everyone attention went towards the screens as clips of The Rev started showing. I knew what was coming up, my wife knew too as she started to cry. I finally got to hear “So Far Away” live. What an experience it was for me emotionally and hell even though I’ve in all honesty seen Avenged Sevenfold doing better live performances (with Disturbed 2017 for example) and I really missed “A Little Piece of Heaven” in their set this blew me away just because of that one song. It is indeed an experience of a lifetime for me. Next up was Bullet For My Valentine but by this time it was actually really, really cold and we were both hungry and tired so we went to get some food, listening to the band at the meantime but not paying too much attention then went to bed. Hey I am getting old you guys! Eight hours of drinking, moshing etc does that to a guy haha. From what I heard Bullet For My Valentine did great, a good mix of old and new material. Me going to camp early does mean that I missed Soulfly though, which is a shame as I’d never seem them before. Next time I guess?

Day 2

Day two (or day three, depending how you count) started early there finally being some black metal on stage. It was time to finally see the Icelandic atmospheric black metal band Auðn. Even though it was early, very hot and not much action from the crowd initially Auðn did their best and eventually got everyone headbanging and waking up. Good start to the day and they did a good job, for myself me and my wife was just sitting on the hill, catching some sun, drinking some beer while listening to good music and softly headbang. So I can’t really say I did anything to add to the atmosphere but to me it was a good way to get going. Only negative with sitting so far back and it still being windy is the sound disappears at times due to it, that’s just the way it is at festivals though. If you want to see a band for real you need to go to a concert, different experiences for sure, but for sound alone it’s the best. From black metal to thrash and Exodus. I’ve seen them before but like eight years ago but damn they don’t seem to age. Still full throttle on stage and never slowing down. Exodus showed they still got it and cemented their role as one of the thrash giants for me even at their later years. From Exodus it was time for the band I wanted to see most this day, At the Gates. Standing at the front row, headbanging, helping crowd suffers and getting into a mosh for a while was sick. It was only a bit passed 3pm but hell I was super pumped. At the Gates have never disappointed me and didn’t do so today either. They played anything from the classics like “Cold” and “Slaughter of the Sould” to their new, superb, album “To Drink From the Night Itself”. Always fun to catch one of your favorite bands live and dig to every single song they perform. Due to At the Gates ending around 4pm I missed most of Orm’s performance. I did get to hear two songs by them which sounded well and I definitely need to look into their discography some as it seems to be good Danish black metal, they had a lot of the home crowd with them for sure. After Orm we went to eat what we found being THE best food at the festival, a simple burger with fries but it was well made and we hoped we would have found it earlier. Anyways as we needed to rest some (didn’t want to go to camp early another day) we sat there eating, drinking and chatting giving Deftones a miss (never been a fan of them anyway truth be told) and waited for Japanese band Crossfaith. We honestly only went to see them because “they came all the way from Japan so we have to show them some support” but damn am I glad I did. They surprised me a lot with both the music, the energy and how they got the crowd going. When they played their cover of “Omen” they asked the whole crowd to get down and get ready to jump on his command. Just three years ago Slipknot tried to do the same, with a very average result on people doing it, but Crossfaith seemed to get EVERYONE doing it and it was insane to witness. I think Crossfaith had the most attendance on the Pandemonium stage as well from what I saw. A band I, from their live performance alone, am now a fan of.

After Crossfaith we went around the merchandise stands where I eventually bought an Suffocation, Naglfar and Enslaved shirt. By the time we came back we saw the last few songs by Alice in Chains with one of the songs being their famous “Man in the Box”. Was alright but I am not a fan of the band so was happy just to hear those few songs. At the Hades stage I was now ready for Kreator. They did a good job but I had more hopes actually, not sure why but in my mind I had thought Kreator would be one of the best experiences for me at Copenhell and they were solid just not great. Compared to for example Exodus they seemed more tired, I thought it would be the other way around. Can’t put my finger on it though, they played my favorite songs, it sounded good and the crowd was hype I just didn’t feel it. A day at the office for Kreator it seemed like. Then we had Ozzy Osbourne, well what can I say. I saw him at Sweden Rock Festival 2011 and even back then I thought it was just a big Zakk Wylde show. There isn’t much wrong with than to be honest as Zakk Wylde is the best guitarist in the world for me but it’s too much of the good at the same time if you get me. This show was the same as back then, granted now I could see Tommy Clufetos go at it some on the drums so in a sense I guess this was slightly better show but I do find it good Ozzy is calling it quits, he should have years ago in my opinion. Now I’ve seen both Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne farewell tours at least, that’s quite cool! I did win a meet and greet with Zakk Wylde by the way, however sadly he wasn’t feeling to well so a tour guy came and told us ten that had won it wouldn’t happen as he needed rest in order to go on stage and finish the show. Bullshit or not I don’t know, was a bit angry about it but at the same time you win some you lose some. Zakk did do amazing solos and all that on stage and that’s all that matters. Last band I saw was Enslaved who started close to 1am. While I think they pulled of a great show I came to a weird conclusion, I am not a big Enslaved fan overall. I like some of their albums and songs, but usually their earlier work and when they played a lot from their latest release I was just standing there going “meh this is too proggy”. First time I saw them and happy I did but I would much rather have seen Enslaved ten years ago or something for the sake of them playing more songs I enjoy haha.

Day 3

The last day had just as much on my schedule as the two days before. Both me and my wife felt a bit under the weather today though which made us being less hyped of course and we said that if we don’t feel much better after Alestorm had played we would go home (meaning we would miss Ghost, Tsjuder and Sodom). That aside we went to see a Danish band called Livløs. Having heard little about them besides that some friends of mine in Faithful Darkness had been supporting a show with them weeks before Copenhell said they were good we decided to go check them out. This, again, turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Not only was the weather really good today, less windy, more sun etc but the frontman Simon Olsen was also full of energy and seemed insanely happy to play in front of his home crowd at the big stage. He even crowd surfed while singing and even though I knew zero songs they did such a good live performance that I basically started listening to them the day after I got home. An upcoming band for sure that I recommend anyone who can to see live. From a local death metal act to the least metal but yet so right act on the festival, namely Jakob Stegelmann & orkester. Oh wow was this a fun experience. You heard themes from Spider-Man, Batman, Star Wars, you name a classic movie or series theme and most of them were performed live. This was really cool and I like how Stegelmann interacted with the audience, telling stories on why he had chosen then songs and what they meant for him. Also how freaking awesome isn’t it to see moshpits and crows surfing to the imperial march!? Following Stegelmann was Steel Panther, one of my wifes favorite bands and we had just seen them a couple months ago in Copenhagen. A shame that they played almost an identical setlist, same jokes etc. For people who saw them for the first time it was probably cool and funny but for us it was a bit “meh seen and done that before”. Guess that’s why you don’t usually see a band twice on the same tour right?

What came next was the heaviest show on Copenhell, the mighty Suffocation! Hell do I like this band and the sheer brutality they showcase live. I might have been feeling a bit ill so I wasn’t at the front but my neck was sour from all the headbanging I did at the back. Man do these guys crush. From what I saw there were several moshpits going on and everyone had a good time. This was the second time I’ve seen them and they were just as good now as last time. One of the best death metal bands in the world and one of the best performances I saw at Copenhell. From Suffocation came another classic band but on a whole other scale W.A.S.P.. It’s a band I’ve grown up with hearing from my dad and I went mainly to catch a few songs as we went to eat in the meantime. They did such a good show we had to eat fast and get there though. Who would of thought these oldtimers would had it in them? I know they are a world class band but my expectation of them were small and they outdid that by a mile. A great show where they played all the good classics and showed me just why they are world class. Igorrr, that weird French band that I’ve never know if I like them or not, can’t place them. I had to go and witness them live to see if I could finally make up my mind if I hate or love them. Fact is I still can’t! My wife though is a fan now and listens to them quite often at home, I just can’t grasp their music though and after a show with them I was left there confused. Do I like or dislike them? Hell do I know, it’s weird music, cool performance that everyone should see at least once, that’s all I know.

Another old school famous band that I’ve heard from an early age were up next. The German power metal kings Helloween. Wow was this a show any fans shouldn’t miss! Getting songs from each era, with the different vocalists (!) is just awesome and I hoped some other bands could do the same sometime. I’d never seen anything like it before and from the start to finish Helloween were class, great stage presence, told stories and interacted well with the audience. Played some sweet power metal (only power metal act at Copenhell I think) and overall just did everything I had hoped for and more. By now my wife was actually feeling better, while I felt worse, so before Alestorm came on we said we would leave after their show. What a show that was to end with though! First time either of us had seen them live and they put on a killer party. Pirate metal in all it’s glory. There were countless of moshpits, circle pits and even fucking row pits all over the place. People were dancing, singing alone, drinking themselves silly and had a jolly good time! I even read afterwards that Alestorm set a record for the most crowd surfing to ever happen at a show in Copenhell at 700 or something silly like that. Insane ending to the festival for us and the best live performance I saw there, one of the best in years even. Alestorm knows how to part and I am all down with the pirate metal fans now after being somewhat reluctant at first.

Our ride home was a hell, not getting a cab for an hour we decided to take the bus. Sadly we missed out train home (was full) so had to wait an hour at the central and overall took us almost three hours to get home, knackered. It was all worth it though. We had a great festival, good food, great company with new friendships made, quite a few beers, shots and of course a lot of good music. This is actually one of the festivals I’ve been to with the best average performances. Most bands did really well and only a couple disappointed me. Copenhell as a festival overall has also improved drastically since we were there three years ago. Better toilets, bigger area, more variety in food and drinks. Next year Copenhell celebrate it’s ten year anniversary I advice everyone a go. Welcome to hell.

Five quick takeaways:

Best live performance: Avenged Sevenfold due to “So Far Away”, otherwise Alestorm on overall performance
Worst live performance: Asking Alexandria
Bands I missed: Soulfly, Ghost and Tsjuder
Biggest surprise: Crossfaith
Biggest letdown: That I didn’t get to meet Zakk Wylde

Unflesh – Savior (Technical Death Metal)

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It’s been some time since I listened to technical death metal actually, at least a couple of months when the Inferi album dropped. Don’t know why I waited so long to listen to Unflesh as “Savior” has been out since May 25th. Here we are though and I’ve finally given the album a few spins during the week. Lets start with some background on Unflesh, who are they? The band is located in USA and began as a solo project in 2014 by Ryan Beevers. The first album, an EP named “Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity”, came out in 2016 and featured Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, ex-Obscura) on session drums. The EP got a lot of praise when it came out so this debut full-length has had some hype to it. What’s changed since the EP is that Unflesh has gone from a solo project into a fully fledged band where Ryan added Peter de Reyna on bass, Chris Dovas on drums and Chris Gardino on guitars. Has this change elevated Unflesh game to new heights?

What struck me first is that the influences are many on “Savior”. While it is at its core a tech-death album that will please fans of Arsis, Alterbeast and Revocation there are also loads of elements gathered from the melo-death and black metal genres. You can hear hints of The Black Dahlia Murder, Naglfar, Dissection and even Emperor throughout the album and that’s exactly what makes Unflesh stand out from most bands out there. It’s a pure joy to give this albums several spins and each time you notice something new, getting that feeling when you have a hard time picking your favorite song on the album as it keeps changing with each listen. It is that good. Personally there are only a handful of albums that’s better than “Savior” this year. If it hadn’t been for the insane release of Rivers of Nihil I would say this is the best tech-death you will hear this year. However when many will undoubtedly name Inferi, Alkaloid and Augury (all good releases mind you) as tech-death albums of the year I will name-drop Unflesh. A modern tech-death release with a touch of the old school, what’s not to like?

A splendid EP became an even better full-length release once Ryan got his band together. Unflesh is a band on the rise that can battle with the best of them already. The “Dissection goes tech-death” approach is one I can get behind and fall in love with. This is an album that will land high on my yearly best of list.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Dissection and Arsis
Release date: May 25th, 2018
Favorite song: Caliginous
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