Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour

Sonata Arctica has never been subtle and The Ninth Hour doesn’t change that. The cover art features a city in the shape of a skull, balancing society versus nature (wolf shirt!) and this theme also dominates the album. More than any previous record, The Ninth Hour is fairly thematic, focused on the issues of climate change and the human relationship to…

Sirenia – Dim Days of Dolor

For starters, front-woman Ailyn is long gone and I must say, she shan’t be missed. Yes, Sirenia has swapped their squeaky, squealy,  X-Factor drop out in favor of Emmanuelle Zoldan, an equally attractive and much more talented opera singer from France. The improvement in quality from one singer to the other cannot be understated. It’s…

Saor – Guardians

Despite tight production, expert song-writing and meticulous attention to detail, the general expression that “Guardians” resonates is a sense of freedom. The average song length is about 11 minutes, which is ample time to allow the music to breathe and progress naturally. However, the bane of songs with long durations is the crucial requirement to…

Krampus – Counter//Current

Smoothly following on from “Intro” we have “The Trial” and this is where things pick up and where I will explain my earlier statement of not knowing what the fuck was going on. From this track on, everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in. We have Industrial, we have Metalcore, we have Folk Metal,…

Khepra – Cosmology Divine

If not overly folky, what is it then? Basically it’s melodic death metal with oriental influences. Raw vocals, not as low as true death metal, no shrieks like you find in black metal, no clean vocals like in power metal. Just very powerful, gruff but understandable. The folky side is found within the melodies and…

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate

Things open with the gentle sounds of wind upon the waves before erupting into classic Insomium riffing. The early going is fairly typical for the band but features some of their strongest writing in recent memory. At the 6:10 mark things move toward calmer waters, adopting a soothing, Anathema-like drone before heavy riffs return to wreck your…