Satan Claus, Crom’s little helper, is coming to collect your asses in a jar and smoke them for breakfast. Ho-ho-ho!
Henrik Palm – Many Days
LP, 2017, Fetish
Think grey, empty, dystopian streets. Think tentacles of malevolent smoke oozing from the sewers. Think unimaginable horrors steadfastly marching into your mind, occupying your most inner thoughts with sickening harmonies and grasping hold of your soul, twisting and turning until reality is but an abstract illusion. Rock music seldom sounded this dark. The blend of minimalistic drumming and an almost introvert way of singing brings you into Palm’s world, as vivid as a morbid mirage in a haunted industrial complex. This album is as unique as they come, and a must-buy for music lovers of more experimental ways. Possibly album of the year.
SONS OF APOLLO – Psychotic Symphony
LP, 2017, InsideOut Music
Finally an all-star group that does something worthwhile. Mike Portnoy, Jeff Scott Soto, Bumblefoot, Billy Sheehan and Derek Sherinian channel their inner SYMPHONY X fanboi and strike, if not gold, then at least silver with their debut album. Progressive metal with some symphonic touches is the name of the game, and as can be expected from these guys’ track records, they pull off every conceivable shredding, polyrhythm and odd time signature with ease. Soto’s vocals are a fucking delight to hear, his snarl is as great as his passion for delivering the lyrics with immense power. No track stands out as a clear-cut hit, but overall there are no weak songs. If you’re into the aforementioned SYMPHONY X or DREAM THEATER, you’d better pick this up!
WILDNESS – Wildness
LP, 2017, AOR Heaven
Melodic hard rock that doesn’t really take off. These youngsters have their hearts in the right place and the chops to pull off a real stunner, but the songwriting lacks that special something. The arrangements are easily predictable, as are most melodies and chord progressions. In my book, going by the book and not delivering any surprises whatsoever is the same as boring, so before a sequel arises I’ll just forget about this as there are so many better records to listen to.
TOXIC CRYPT – Where Dead Trees Grow
LP, 2017, Self-released
Where Swedeath seed grows is, apparently, the bellies of some dudes from the Northern Swedish town of Gällivare. This album is a pretty straight-on homage to the early 90’s Stockholmian sound, what with the ENTOMBED grooves, DISMEMBER melodies and GRAVE riffing. Throw in some BOLT THROWER heaviness and the occasional DISSECTION flirt, and you’ve got a tasty recipe. Sadly, the flavour isn’t as intense as often is the case with rehashes. For a debut album this is very capable, so maybe good things are to be expected moving forward. When that time comes, try to breathe some life into your drum sound, please.
BELL WITCH – Mirror Reaper
LP, 2017, Profound Lore Records
One doom song, 83 minutes. Boring? Fuck no. The thick atmosphere on this beast is serene, hazy and melancholic, yet dark and menacing as the deepest abyss. A song to fall into, and fall for. It’s absolutely amazing how a red thread is easily discernible throughout the song, as every part fits into the next as seamlessly as I fit into your mom last night. Without a doubt one of the best albums of 2017. And take a look at that fantastic fucking cover artwork. So beautiful, epic and dreamy/nightmarish. Spot on.
DARK BUDDHA RISING – Dakhmandal
LP, 2013, Svart Records
A few notches behind BELL WITCH, regarding quality, comes Finland’s DARK PENIS RISING. Deploying much the same tools, they create a smoky aura of sepulchral mysteriousness, but fail to drive the point home. The vocals are average at best, and no riffs or melodies strike me as anything but ordinary. Maybe they should start by writing catchy shit, and then transform that into their effective doom style. To me these songs sound more like arrangements than compositions, meaning they lack substance.
EGONAUT – The Omega
LP, 2017, Mighty Music
Riding the coattails of BLACK SABBATH and GHOST, EGONAUT surprise me with their blend of energetic and melodic hard rock that doesn’t shy away from more somber moments. Vocalist Emil Kyrk has an expressive voice, that fits the sound like a glove despite the occasional faltering in pitch. There are no blockbuster hits on “The Omega”, but the overall experience is positive and I’ll be checking out their future stuff.
AMBERIAN DAWN – Darkness of Eternity
LP, 2017, Napalm Records
Oh. My. Fucking. God. Do these kinds of bands still exist? Über-cheesy power metal with über-cheesy neoclassical elements meets über-cheesy and pompous fantasy stuff, and of course some über-cheesy NIGHTWISH-y operatic moments bordering on musical territory. And why the fuck not, let’s throw in some ABBA influences as well. As expertly as everything is executed, I still can’t get over the fact that this dairy product overload makes me constipated like a bitch. Sorry, you shall not pass.
Jared James Nichols – Black Magic
LP, 2017, Listenable Records
Bluesy rock music that didn’t make an impression. There’s so much else to check out, why bother with this?
BABYLON A.D. – Revelation Highway
LP, 2017, Frontiers Records
When cheese meets shit. Stay away. (OK it’s not that bad, merely below average, but I couldn’t help myself. So sue me.)
ARTIFICIAL BRAIN – Infrared Horizon
LP, 2017, Profound Lore Records
Blasting of Satan. Gurgling of Satan. Djent-meets-brutal-death-metal-riffing of Satan. Muddy production of Satan. Hail Satan.
TORMENTOR – Anno Domini
Demo, 1989, Self-released
“Elizabeth Bathory” is BESTEST. “Tormentor I” is ALSO BESTEST. “Beyond” is absolutely THE BESTEST. The rest is FUCKING BESTEST. If you love thrashy proto-black with groovy heavy metal moments, don’t be an idiot – do your duty and WORSHIP THIS FUCKING DEMO/ALBUM. COUNTESS!!! IT’S YOUR NIGHT!!!!