Xanthochroid – Of Erthe and Axen: Act I

To the uninitiated, it may appear that on the surface, the field of cinematic and symphonic metal is thinning. Following Wintersun’s embarrassing crowdfunding flop that was The Forest Seasons, an album through which Jari Maenpaa and Co. mishandled and squandered the good graces of fans of the sound by releasing an admittedly inferior album to the one that was promised for half a decade ago, it might not be immediately obvious who would pick up the mantle of epic prog/power/black/folk/whatever. The sound of Wintersun is highly ambitious, after all, and it could be forgiven if it was assumed by some that the breadth of scope offered (or promised, anyway) by Wintersun was unique to them.

Æther Realm – One Chosen by the Gods

Æther Realm are the best melodic death metal band deceptively not from Finland you’ll have the pleasure of hearing this year. Their sound can only be described as Wintersun sitting down one day for a horn of mead to discuss being beyond great, when Eluveitie show up and decide that it’s time for collaboration. Their debut effort One Chosen by the Gods certainly incorporates orchestral touches for that added huge sound, but never lets the heaviness of the music fall by the wayside or simply get lost.