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

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Drearyym – Precursions (Melodic Death Metal)

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I’ve reviewed some of the more seasoned bands from Finland so far with Noumena, Mors Principium Est and Wolfheart already granting us sweet melodic death metal releases. Now it’s time to go tapping into the talent pool of new and upcoming acts starting with Drearyym. Drearyym were formed in 2014 and has since then already been able to produce two EP’s and the full-length debut I am about to review Precursions. Precursions features the two songs from the bands second EP Precursions Part I as well as four new tracks. It’s actually quite astonishing that Drearyym are still alive and kicking after the rocky road the band has had with members coming and going during these three years, having had an especially hard time to find a stable drummer in the lineup. Not many bands that find the motivation to keep on going when the start hasn’t been what you might have thought it would be.

To start off these 45 minutes of Nordic tales and great wars is the 3 minute intro Draugr March. It works as a soft introduction to the album that fills it’s role with fantasy like sounding music that tells of the battles that are to come. It’s with In Obsidian we really hear what Drearyym are all about. The growling technique Leevi Kuunila does and battle-fuelled melodic death metal music you hear is influenced by the type of music you’ve heard the Finnish bands Brymir, Turisas and Frosttide perform. Bands I enjoy listening to so that isn’t a bad thing. 1.50 into In Obsidian the song takes a rather interesting turn, carnival music starts playing and it’s actually a smooth transition that doesn’t feel forced in and eventually fades out. A cool touch in my opinion. Nine Divines acoustic intro is a beautiful start that later turns into a brutal symphonic warzone just to five minutes in get some nice piano music together with a sweet guitar solo. These elements makes this song my favorite ones on the album and shows some of the bands diverse style in epic melodic death metal.

Hunter’sTale and Old Barn are also good songs and once Precursions is over I am feeling quite satisfied with Drearyym’s debut. It may not be perfect but for a debut from a band that’s already had some lineup struggles this is solid. Precursions is out now as an independent digital release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Drearyym
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Drearyym1
For fans of: Frosttide and Brymir
Favorite song: Nine Divines

Valhalore – Voyage into Eternity (Folk/Viking Metal)

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This is a journey, or as the album title says a Voyage into Eternity. Starting off with a storytelling voice and calm melodies it soothes the listeners mind. It eventually becomes a epic symphonic blast of melodies as it was Nightwish together with Eluveitie themselves recording this. Vocals ranges from the high and lows, growling and clean singing. With three members in the band sharing vocal duty it sure does give the album an extra twist and different ways of telling this story of Vikings. The ferocity in the music is like that of the berserker’s of old and the melodies clings on inside your head like the ballads from Blind Guardian or Amon Amarth. Across the Frozen Ocean for example really does make me think about the legendary song The Bard’s Song by Blind Guardian.

I get the feeling of going on adventures when listening to this album. It’s the sort of epic music that takes you to the epic worlds from Lord of the Rings, Witcher or Dragon Age. The use of various types of instruments like mandolin, cello and whistle puts that extra epic mark on Voyage into Eternity. To me Voyage of Eternity is the definition of epic folk music. Not only due to the use of various instruments with great melodies and riffs but also due to the great song-writing and great use of different vocals to deliver a sweet story. Plus the fact I love vikings, any story with vikings in it is a plus in my book!

Valhalore was a big surprise to me. It’s well produced and features so many elements I like in good music this is an instant classic for me. Fans of bands such as Ensiferum, Wintersun, Eluveitie, Blind Guardian and the likes take heed (and of course drink mead). Valhalore are here to stay and their debut Voyage into Eternity is one of the best releases so far this year. Voyage into Eternity is out now as an independent release.

Facebook: /www.facebook.com/valhalore
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/valhalore
For fans of: Eluveitie and Blind Guardian
Favorite song: Guardians of Time

Persefone – Aathma (Progressive Death Metal)

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Ah Persefone, a band that I’ve always liked when I want “sofisticated” progressive/technical metal as I like to call it. Plus the fact the have some of the coolest album covers I’ve seen on literally every single album. Andorra’s offering to the metal world Persefone now gives us Aathma, the bands 5th release since they formed in 2001.

You are instantly hit with sweet guitar solos and riffs that will make you blush like if your crush were singing to you from the guitar sound. I know a lot of my readers aren’t fans of clean singing but how can you not like Persefone when musically everything just clicks. Aathma is as much as an outer body experience as it is progressive death metal madness.

The fun thing with Aathma is how the tracks leads up to one another and you can feel the emotions flow through this album. Opening songs are instrumental and will guide you through the journey to come. Then comes Prison Skin and you’re left numb. After that you just sit down and relax, take it all in as I am sure Persefone fans know by now. You enter such a calm and blissful place in your mind while listening to Persefone it’s a nice change from the worlds usual sorrow and death. Let go of anger, fear and guilt.

If you were to listen to only a few tracks on this album then do take Aathma Part I to IV. The ending of this album is superb and could easily be an EP by itself (actually looking at metal archives they have it down as a 20 minute long track). Lucky enough it’s on Aathma and the one hour soul searching experience is over in a great fashion. Fans of Persefone don’t worry Aathma is another hit from Andorra’s finest, granted hard to top Spiritual Migration as that’s one of the best progressive albums released in my opinion but still an insanly good album. If this was a release from a band which didn’t have such a high average level then it would be named progressive album of the year right away. Question is readers, are you ready to transcend?

Persefone – Aathma is out now through ViciSolum Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/persefoneband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/persefoneband
For fans of: Ne Obliviscaris and Edge of Sanity
Favorite song: Aathma Part I-IV

Valfreya – Promised Land (Melodic Black/Folk Metal)

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The band’s name caught my eye when I received a promo and I just had to check it out. I found this on The Metal Archives “The band’s name is influenced by one by name of Óðinn, Valföður (Old Icelandic for “Father of the Corpses”) and Freyja, the Vanic deity, sister of Freyr”. A cool fusion of names and from there on I was already in love with the band. Apart from the name the band, as the name implies, sings about Norse mythology and they do it in a very melodic/symphonic (whatever floats your boat) kind of way with with folk and black metal being the two main genres they cross. Promised Land is the Canadian bands second full-length and fourth album over since their formation in 2009.

Promised Land is a concept album following the tale of Eric The Red discovering America while defying the Gods. Between the songs you sometimes have a intermission with a story teller guiding you what has happened and is about to happen. The idea has been done before but I’ve always find it a fun way to to tell a story through a music album. One thing that stood out for me with Valfreya is the band was created by the female vocalist Corinne Cardinal (Crook) who also does the graphic design and is the main composer of the band. Not that often I find black/folk influenced bands have a female in the forefront like that. Kudos to Crook for creating Valfreya and making it all happen as I am sure it can be tough.

Being a concept album I do of course think it should be listened to in full from start to finish. Even more so since it’s a story I like and heard when I was a kid, and I found this a great way to tell the story of Eric The Red. Promised Land is a concept album any fan of Norse mythology will enjoy and fans of symphonic folk with black metal influences will surely have a good time here. Promised Land is independently released and it’s out now!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Valfreya.Metal
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/valfreyametal
For fans of: Ensiferum and Wintersun
Favorite song: The Choice

Craving – By the Storm (Melodic Death/Folk Metal)

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Germany and Finland seems to almost have a stronghold of good folk metal bands as they just keep on coming and I keep on finding bands I’ve never heard of before from these countries that are great. From the same country that has given us the likes of Suidakra and Equilibrium Germany has a band that’s probably lesser known for most of you called Craving.

By the Storm is the bands third full-length release and since their formation in 2005 (as Erbos). The core three members Thorsten Flecken, Ivan Chertov and Maik Schaffstädter were together on the first two albums however with By the Storm the lineup has taken a big change. Craving now consists of Ivan Chertov on guitar/vocals, Leonid Rubinstein on bass and Tobias Petri on guitar, meaning Ivan Chertov is the only member left from the original lineup.

With the change though there isn’t really that much that’s different and fans of Craving will still feel right at home. Ivan is still a great vocalist, while Leonid and Tobias fills in the void left from the past members just fine. By the Storm is a really long album, the longest I’ve reviewed actually, clocking a whopping 1 hour and 18 minutes. I don’t think Craving offers anything extraordinary but at the same time it isn’t bad, it’s just compared to the likes of Equilibrium and Suidakra they are missing that little extra punch. For fans of said bands though Craving will be a nice surprise to anyone who haven’t heard of them before. If you have then don’t be alarmed by their lineup changes, they still still offers the melodeath/folk metal you’re used to.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CravingOfficial
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cravingofficial
For fans of: Suidakra and Equilibrium
Favorite song: Spirits of the Dead

Trees of Eternity – Hour of the Nightingale (Doom Metal)

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What do you get if you take some of the best doom musicians from Sweden and Finland? You get Trees of Eternity! Featuring members who’s played or play for heavy hitting doom bands such as October Tide, Swallow the Sun, Wintersun and Katatonia you can’t call this anything else than a doom super group. What’s sad with this project, which started in 2009 but Hour of the Nightingale is the bands debut, is that this will be the one and only release with the singer Aleah Liane Stanbridge. She sadly passed away after a long struggle against cancer in April this year.

The album reflects the true doom metal sound. It’s very dark and gloom, got a haunting feeling to it and Aleah’s voice together with the doom veterans instrumental play is just out of this earth. You can’t help but to feel sadden and think about all the love and sorrow you will or have experienced in life, even onto death.

This is a different type of doom metal than for example October Tide as this is not infused with death metal and consists of clean singing. Hour of the Nightingale is definitely one of the best doom albums of 2016, depending if you want your doom metal with death metal influences, clean singing or with growl your vote might differ. What I do know though is that Trees of Eternity has made a superb debut and it’s a crying shame that the band won’t feature Aleah’s beautiful voice yet again.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/treesofeternity
For fans of: Swallow the Sun and Draconian
Favorite song: Eye of Night