Symbolik – Emergence (Technical Death Metal)

When I saw the promo it said “Tech-Death w/ Black Metal, Symphonic, and Neoclassical elements” in the header I was instantly intrigued. Having never heard Symbolik before I didn’t know what level of quality to expect but knowing they were on The Artisan Era I had high hopes it would be high, and that is was. What catches my attention here is the guitarwork especially, it’s so well executed and stands out in a good way. Allen Burton (Inanimate Existence (live) and ex-Alterbeast) is a superb lead guitarist and does some of his finest work on this album, joining him is Damon Koenig who makes the duo very deadly and raises the bar for me on what to expect from this album straight from the opener “Augury of Ancients”. “Invoking Oblivion” is then even better where the solo’s reign supreme and it’s impossible not to get caught up in the vortex. Throughout the album you get a relentless flurry of quality riffs coming towards you that you simply can’t ignore. You would be wise to headbang to this and let yourself go.

While the guitars is definitely the high point for me on this album there is no denying the rest of the band pulls off great stuff too, it mainly seems the guitars have more room to shine (which the case with many technical death metal albums). Chris Blackburn sounds like a mix between Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder), Steve Boiser (Inferi, Tethys, Equipoise) and Reece Deeter (Vale of Pnath) and it fits the albums sound like a glove. Emergence is simply an well-written album where all the pieces have got together nicely and everyone plays on their strengths which together makes an excellent album. The band themselves said this has been in development for over eight years, bringing their ideas and inspirations to life through this album. Safe to say you can tell that’s the case, Emergence shines brightly and you can hear this isn’t anything rushed and made with a lot of heart behind it.

In the end there is really nothing bad to say about this album, if you enjoy technical death metal in the veins of Inferi, Vale of Pnath and Alterbeast with a hint of The Black Dahlia Murder then this is one of the best releases you will hear all year.

Artist: Symbolik
Label: The Artisan Era
Release date: April 10th, 2020
For fans of: Vale of Pnath & Inferi
Favorite song: Dirge of All Creation
Score: 4/5 Excellent


The Artisan Era

Temple Of Demigod – Onslaught Of The Ancient Gods (Symphonic Black/Death Metal)

Temple of the Demigod is a one-man symphonic black/death metal project created by Mark Erskine from Armenia in 2014. Since then there has been one EP named Profane Doctrine and a full-length album The Great Old Ones out prior to this release. It’s been three years in the making and now the ancient Gods from the Lovecraft mythos are approaching us once again.

After several listens these past days my main concern with the album is that it varies in quality. The opening track “Him Who Is Not to Be Named” started off so well but then on “Acolyte of an Ancient Cult” it drops off a bit and it isn’t until “He Who Lies in Eternity” I get fully sucked in again. While I love symphonic music I do think there is in all honesty a bit too much of that side, less keyboard would make it stand out a bit more, the less is more rule applies here. And why, oh why did “Neverending Dreams” even happen? Just hearing wale sounds for 2:30 minutes doesn’t do it for me, even though I understand why he did it (this being a Lovecraft concept album and all) but I don’t think it added anything to the album at all. Even with those things that I personally think holds the album back a bit there is no denying Temple of Demigod has some wicked riffs and vocals. When it also all syncs well like in symbiosis with the synth like on “Black Rivers of Yuggoth”, “Becoming”, or the opener as I mentioned before, then it’s really great symphonic black/death metal. It’s just a bit too much at times and I generally think The Great Old Ones worked a bit better in that regard. I do think Onslaught of the Ancient Gods offers more highs though and some of the best work by Temple of Demigod.

Overall I do enjoy Onslaught of the Ancient Gods, it’s a good album with some really good songwriting in an area I love (Lovecraft mythos). Hell I am even in the planing stage of a Lovecraft inspired tattoo… I just think this could be even better, there are some thoughts on what could of been once the album is over for sure. A few bumps on the road shouldn’t hold you back from giving this album a listen though, especially for Lovecraft fans as this sure does it justice in both atmosphere and lyrics. If you liked the past work of Temple of Demigod then you will feel right at home here and like this too.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Temple of Demigod
Label: SoundAge Productions
For fans of: Grief of Emerald and Limbonic Art
Release date: June 15th, 2019
Favorite song: Him Who Is Not to Be Named
Score: 3/5 Good

Meadows End – The Grand Antiquation (Symphonic/Melodic Death Metal)

Meadows End are in their 21st year as a band, that’s a really long time but it does seem they’ve never managed to become a name many knows apart from the diehard melodic death metal fans. One reason for that might be that The Grand Antiquation is only their fourth full-length during all this time, the full-length debut Ode to Quietus was actually released in 2010 meaning it took a long time before they actually released something. Another might be that they simply couldn’t cut it in a genre that got a fierce competition, which I think was the case on the debut. A decent debut as it was that wasn’t good enough to make any ripples on the melodeath ocean. However something happened on The Sufferwell, Meadows End got a stable line-up which has been intact ever since and the vocalist Johan Brandberg now had more experience to boot. The Sufferwell was a big step in the right direction and the band showed they are on the right path here with Sojourn being yet another good release, their best yet even. With The Grand Antiquation I have hopes we will see an even stronger Meadows End that would have made the development from decent, good to now great within a four album span.

First thing first, and I can’t stress this enough, songs in the mother tongue are so powerful! Even more so in this case as I understand the Swedish lyrics. That was something I missed on Sojourn so I’m happy they have added that again to their craft. One think that strikes me early on when listening to The Grand Antiquation. This is the type of metal that makes you happy and pumped up for the weekend ready to take over the world with those catchy riffs and epic choirs, fitting it was released on a Friday right? The symphonic elements take a bigger part on the album than it did on Sojourn, this is more on a epic scale which at times even resemblance power metal a la Blind Guardian. Before it was more adding a touch of synth and piano in the mix much like the bands with the most common influences Omnium Gatherum and Mors Principium Est do, while now I feel like they try to go more towards Fleshgod Apocalypse. Personally I think they’ve overdone it a bit with The Grand Antiquation, it’s too….grand for my taste. There is no denying that tracks like “Devilution” is incredibly catchy though but they are certainly a few steps behind Fleshgod Apocalypse in terms of both triumphant orchestra and riffs.

The differences between The Sufferwell and Sojourn did in the end lead to The Grand Antiquation which is a sort of hybrid between the two. I’m not convinced in their decision on going full symphonic here as it does overwhelm me at times. I much rather have them going in the same direction as “I Stilla Vemod Vandra” where it’s on the down low. However Meadows End keeps taking one step at the time down their road to melodeath glory. While they still have a bit to go before they reach their destination the path they walk is on the right one. Personally I enjoyed Sojourner more as a whole but they tried something different here, which in the long run might be a good choice for future releases as they find their footing on the perfect own melodeath mix. Meadows End stays the course and remains a good band that I still feel are on the brink to something greater. Who knows when, and if, they will truly unlock that potential?

Written by J.B.

Label: Black Lion Records
For fans of: Fleshgod Apocalypse and Mors Principium Est
Release date: March 8th, 2019
Favorite song: I Stilla Vemod Vandra
Score: 3/5 Good

Mordant Rapture – The Abnegation (Technical Death Metal)


Ah The Artisan Era, a label that just keeps giving good tech-death to the world and they’re always improving by adding more and more great bands to their roster. Now enter Mordant Rapture and their debut EP “The Abnegation”. Is it yet another great release from the label or have they, for once, taken a misstep?

Reading the history of the band and how their debut got created is one that tells the tale of years of hard work, gallons of coffee, sleep deprivation, and doubts. The competition in this day and age is fierce so I can really relate with many bands having the same process before releasing something. The band started in 2013, which gives you an idea how long it’s taken the band to finally feel ready to release their first EP featuring five songs into the world. Was it worth the wait?

Yes, yes it was. One thing I really like with Mordant Rapture’s style is how they try to captivate a cinematic musical experience, somewhat in the veins of Fleshgod Apocalypse or Carach Angren. The sound is very different from those bands though as this is straight up technical death metal with a lot of symphonic elements to it, think Inferi (this is much better in my opinion though), Enfold Darkness or Spawn of Possession as examples. Already on the first track “Unsightly Beast” you get a flurry of great riffs, solos and get an instant feel on what Mordant Rapture are all about, delivering class symphonic tech-death heavy influenced by the grandiose nature of film scores. Meaning in other words this is epic stuff, who doesn’t like well written film scores? Having that as an influence in the technical realm of metal works great, it’s not something new but it’s not something I hear too often either. “Withered” is a shorter song than the opener, this is way more of a heads on approach and on this track their blackened death and black elements shine as you hear influences from both Emperor and Dissection. Great stuff right?

What cinematic album wouldn’t be complete without an intermission track with piano and violin, adding to the atmosphere for the follow-up track? That’s exactly what “A Plea Above Ashes” is there for and while I would want it to smoothly transition into the next track, it doesn’t which makes it feel a bit out of place to me. That also leaves the only negative part on the album for me. “Quell the Voiceless” brings up the pace, where the drums especially gets me going and are really dominant. This is also the track that I feel showcase all Mordant Rapture tricks on their debut. The symphonic elements, blackened tech-death, crushing drums and thundering riffs are all there at once to make it a go to song for me when I go back to “The Abnegation”. The finisher “Natal Trophies” is the longest and most symphonic track on the album, which just like the last scenes in a movie ends in an epic way. Here the vocals are better than ever where a wider range of growls and techniques are used. A great way to end this 22 minute journey into the world of Mordant Rapture which makes me want more of this.

Hell I love this music. It’s not something that breaks the boundaries of tech-death but this is insanely well produced symphonic tech-death that has very few flaws in it. Mordant Rapture displays great musicianship and a great range of aspects to their music. This is the kind of music that will make you miss Spawn of Possession and Necrophagist less or you Inferi fans out there forget they even existed. That’s something very few does on their debut album and I can only hope an upcoming full-length won’t take five years. The Artisan Era has done it again, adding a new band to their ranks that shows how hard work pays off. “The Abnegation” is not only one of the best debut albums of the year but one of the best releases overall.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Enfold Darkness and Spawn of Possession
Release date: July 13th, 2018
Favorite song: Quell the Voiceless
Score: 4.5/5

Rapheumets Well – Enders Door (Progressive Death/Black Metal)


Are you ready for a sci-fi concept album? Follow the rogue travler Eryos and how he discovered an artifact that would change his place in cosmos forever. This one hour long journey will leave you wanting more of Eryos and his adventures. Rapheumets Well were formed in 2008, North Carolina USA, after changing name from Blue Man’s God (created 2002). Having had a very wide range of influences on their albums, experimenting in classical, ambience and metal music this band stands out. Enders Door is the bands third release after having told other stories within this multi-verse on Dimensions and The Exile.

One thing is certain when you listen to Rapheumets Well, it’s epic. Much like you find Dimmu Borgir’s symphonic black metal massive and sometimes overwhelms you with their orchestral music Rapheumets Well does the same. Differences are many though. The progressive elements and clean vocals (both female and male) makes you think about The Faceless more than Dimmu Borgir. There is also a lot of death metal influences in the music, still very symphonic, which bands such as Fleshgod Apocalypse are known for. The whole sci-fi take on all this is awesome and at times I think on movies such as Tron or Ghost in the Shell while listening to Enders Door. The different directions the songs take is also what makes Enders Door sick out from the rest. It feels like a movie in musical form, and it’s freaking epic!

I can recommend Rapheumets Well to anyone who is out for something a little bit different. It’s a great concept album with various of influences covering a wide range of genres. I would also love to see this band live, from what I’ve read they seem to make it like a play when performing their music. I can imagine it being a great experience in the veins of what Fleshgod Apocalypse or Carach Angren does.

Rapheumets Well – Enders Door is out May 26th through Test Your Metal Records.

Also with this review I will leave you guys for two weeks. Traveling to Tokyo tomorrow and I will not be reviewing any new albums while there. Hopefully I will get the chance to catch a concert on some of the local bands there though!

For fans of: Dimmu Borgir and The Faceless
Favorite song: Lechery Brought the Darkness

Lucifer’s Cold Embrace – Sovereign Heresy (Symphonic Black/Death Metal)


Lucifer’s Cold Embrace is the devilish solo project by the Dutch talent Martin van Beek. It all started with Martin and his girlfriend sharing the passion for bands like Dissection and Naglfar so Martin decided to write songs for her with the diabolical inspiration they give you. The result is nothing short but a five track EP that captures the very essence of satanic melodies, singing symphonic hate for God while giving love to Lucifer.

The starting song Rising gives me The Serpentine Offering by Dimmu Borgir vibes all over (with a touch of Satyricon). A very good start that definitely gets me going. Lucifer’s Cold Embrace follows it up with Black Death, a foul track about the pestilence that takes me more towards the older Dissection sound and lyrics. It’s just so evil. Then we have my favorite song on Sovereign Heresy, The Gift of Life. I think this is one of the best songs released this year. It makes Jon Nödtveidt (ex-Dissection) turn in his grave with joy that out there is a Dutch mastermind that can follow some of the work he has made legend. Martin then end Sovereign Heresy journey with Serpentine Flames – Embers of Hate and The Shepherd’s Rod. Two just as diabolical songs as the rest of the album and after spending 20 minutes with Lucifer’s Cold Embrace you are left begging for more.

Good thing is though that Sovereign Heresy is the first in a planned series of many and I can’t wait what Martin comes out with next. Everything from the song-writing, music and production is top notch which will give every fan of Dimmu Borgir, Dissection and Naglfar a reason to rejoice as Lucifer’s Cold Embrace takes you.

For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection
Favorite song: The Gift of Life

Endemise – Anathema (Symphonic Black/Death Metal)


Ottawa’s Endemise are no new kids on the block. They’ve been going since 2005 and released three EP’s and two full-length albums before Anathema. Created by brothers David and Dale Sauve they’ve changed in style and molded to what became symphonic black/death metal in Anathema.

Anathema is nothing short but an majestic dark ride that draws evil influences from big names such as Dissection, Watain, Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir and Septic Flesh. During their eleven years of honing their skills Endemise has become a band to keep an extra eye on as these influences have sunked in and made them create their own sound. Anathema is a nice little surprise coming out this year and I am glad Endemise has found their symphonic deadly groove.

For fans of: Watain and Septic Flesh
Favorite song: Blackening

Stormtide – Wrath of an Empire (Symphonic Folk/Death Metal)


What’s this, an Australian band that’s doing epic folk/death metal Ensiferum, Whispered, Alestorm (and more) style? To me that’s always been Europe’s (especially Finland and Germany) domain so nice to see a band from down under creating some epic music. The lineup of six formed in 2013 and released their EP, A Skalds Tale, the same year with Wrath of an Empire being the bands full-length debut.

They have certainly taken inspiration from Whispered as the core sound has a lot in common (almost sounding Japanese like on some tracks) with the Finnish samurai masters. There are differences though, lyric theme isn’t japanese at all for example as it’s more of a journey of a hero getting born and fighting off an evil empire. Power metal style!

I really like this type of music and I’ve enjoyed Stormtide’s Wrath of an Empire all the way through. I wouldn’t say it stands out but if you are a fan of the genre, like me, you should definitely give this album a try.

For fans of: Whispered and Ensiferum
Favorite song: Ride to Ruin

Anno Domini – The Cold Expanse (Symphonic Black/Death Metal)


Australian Anno Domini is another veteran band I’ve come across lately turning 11 years old this year. Having only released one full-length album prior to The Cold Expanse however I might forgive myself for not knowing about them until now. This is one of the very few black/death albums I’ve review, maybe the only one even, that has some clean singing to it. The Cold Expanse starts very epic symphonic black almost Dimmu Borgir meets Ne Obliviscaris like, then change to clean singing but still keeps being heavy. I have to say it works and makes them a bit different than your typical symphonic black metal band, eventhough I think some songs got a bit too much clean vocals to them for being a black/death metal album. The songs really change character well, a trait not many bands try to do, Artificial Divine Intelligence for example got some Egyptian sounding touches to it whereas Primordium got no clean singing at all and is more towards the standard symphonic black metal sound.

Want to experience how it would sound like if Australian black metal had a baby with Norwegian black metal then Anno Domini’s The Cold Expanse is worth looking into.

For fans of: Ne Obliviscaris and Dimmu Borgir
Favorite song: Primordium

Far Beyond – A Frozen Flame of Ice (Symphonic Death Metal)


German band Far Beyond is a solo project of Eugen Dodenhoeft that’s been active since 2001. A Frozen Flame of Ice is Far Beyond’s second full-length album. Far Byond touches many genres with their epic metal. Symphonic metal, power metal, melodic death metal and even bits of gothic and black metal is the sound coming from A Frozen Flame of Ice. If I had to put a label on them though I would say the main influence is Symphonic Death Metal. Taken five years to release the album the album is very well produced and Eugen has left nothing half-done. Everything from the clean vocals, growling to guitar riffs (A Frozen Flame of Ice 5 min in is mint) and songwriting is spot on.

Very beautiful album that expresses many different emotions. If you are a fan of Finnish legends Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Wintersun then check out Far Beyond and their latest album A Frozen Flame of Ice.

For fans of: Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Wintersun
Favorite song: A Frozen Flame of Ice