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

Winterhymn – Blood & Shadow (Folk Metal)

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Are you ready for some Cold-Blooded American Pagan Metal? That’s what Winterhymn calls their music and it does have different feeling to it than your general folk metal band. Winterhymn infuse clean vocals with growls and a wide range of instruments. Making it a great mix between genres such as black, death and power metal. One band that instantly comes to mind as a reference point to meld this genres well is Eluveitie.

The debut Songs for the Slain was released in 2011 with Blood & Shadow being Winterhymn’s follow-up after a lot of touring with known acts such as Children of Bodom, Eluveitie, Turisas and Korpiklaani. Since the debut a lot has changed in the lineup with half the band (Warg, Sieven and Ulfr) leaving to form Siegelord in 2013. That hasn’t stopped Winterhymn’s quest for conquest though as this has in all honesty spawned two good bands with a different approach to music (Siegelord plays melodic death metal). More on Siegelord in a future blog post.

Exura (keyboards), Umbriel (violin) and Draug (vocals, guitars) have their best performance yet with the three new recruits in Alvadar (bass, backing vocals), Valthrun (drums) and Varrik (guitars) making sure the change of members isn’t slowing the band down as they are on point. Blood & Shadow is full with great hymns like Seafarer, speedy power metal tunes such as Blood of the Moon and black folk Silenced by the Northern Winds. There is something for everyone on Blood & Shadow that wants an epic tale. Definitely an album I will go back to several times to find myself getting a new favorite song each and every time.

Winterhymn’s Blood & Shadow is out now by SoundAge Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Winterhymn
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/winterhymn
For fans of: Eluveitie and Arkona
Favorite song: Seafarer

Ulfsark – Einherjar (Epic Viking/Power Metal)

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Oh some viking metal from Spain to listen to? Don’t mind if I do! The spaniards in Ulfsark, who were founded in 2014, recently released their debut EP Einherjar. Like the sucker I am for epic viking music I just knew I had to dig into this. Checking through their pictures as well I could see they are the real deal, getting Ensiferum vibes like crazy. This aside though, how do they sound? Well what do you know, they sound like Ensiferum as well! This isn’t a bad thing though as Ensiferum is one of my favorite bands, just like I guess Ulfsark thinks too.

With songs about valhalla, travels, feasts, drinking and war you know you got the recipe for a wicked viking metal album. I think Ulfsark is on to something with their EP Einherjar and I hope to see them release a full-length album in the near future.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ulfsark
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ulfsarkmetal
For fans of: Ensiferum and Brymir
Favorite song: Blood and Beer