Let’s talk about Immortal for a second. One of the most well-known black metal bands because of the consistently-excellent quality of their output, Immortal has been kickin’ since the early 90s and was steadily releasing new music for some time (their last record, All Shall Fall, came out in 2009), until they announced their breakup earlier this year. But, despite this, Abbath, founding member of Immortal, and the band’s guitarist, vocalist, and writer, has stayed on peoples’ minds, for one simple reason: he’s just too damn good at what he does. There’s no way he’s going to disappear from the black metal scene.
This is a great surprise! Norwegian avant-garde metal masters Arcturus are back from their decade-long slumber with new material! With the man with the heavenly voice, ICS Vortex (of Dimmu Borgir and Borknagar fame and with his own solo project) on vocals, Hellhammer (literally every black metal band) on drums and main songwriter Steinar Sverd Johnsen at the helm, the band is hitting full force with their new album Arcturian, which they claim will be their magnum opus. Well, they’ve released a new song titled “The Arcturian Sign”, so let’s see if that’s true.
Let’s celebrate with champagne
Because it’s that time of the year again
When everyone gives each other gifts
And makes end of the year lists
2012 was a great year
Many albums I did revere
But only a few I must choose
Now before more rhymes I abuse
Let’s get to the favorite albums
So take this list into your cerebellums
(Yes, I know that the cerebellum doesn’t do that, shut up!)
01. Thoughts Like Hammers
02. Death in the Eyes of Dawn
04. Roots of the Mountain
07. Storm of Memories
Nordic Prog giants Enslaved work like clockwork. Since 2004, they’ve consistently made a great album every 2 years. After 2010’s great Axioma Ethica Odini (that admittedly had some flaws, but was still great), they come back this year with RIITIIR. If you don’t know what Enslaved sound like, think Borknagar but with less synths and upbeatness and more black metal. Even though they started out their career rooted firmly in black metal, they kept pushing the boundaries of the genre until they broke through, just like the visionary Ihsahn. But after so many years of being at or near the top of the genre-pushing game, do Enslaved still have something relevant to say with RIITIIR? The short answer is: Yes, most definitely. This album is brilliant. The long answer is after the cut:
02. Ur stjärnstoft är vi komna
06. Havets nåd
Vintersorg, which is more or less the solo project of Swedish prog genius Andreas Hedlund, is definitely one of the bigger names in the progressive/blackened/folk metal scene. As its predecessor Jordpuls, Orkan is a part of a series of concept albums on the four elements. Jordpuls was the earth, and Orkan is, contrary to the water-filled cover, the air. Orkan means hurricane, and somehow the sound of the album is reminiscent of being in a cold, windy landscape. It’s a hard feeling to explain, but the best of atmospheric prog metal albums always have their own mood, their own world that they draw you into. So what kind of world does Vintersorg beckon you towards in Orkan?
A couple of months ago I reviewed the new Borknagar album Urd, and I thought it was pretty rad. Featuring the brains behind Arcturus, Vintersorg and Ulver and ICS Vortex, Borknagar is in some sorts a Nordic blackened prog metal supergroup. They’ve just released a video for one of the more atmospheric tracks from Urd, ‘Earthling’, and you can watch it below.
It’s a simple but effective video that captures the earthly themes of the album. Vintersorg’s vocals are especially prominent in this song, and if you like this song you should also check his new album Orkan, which came out recently. Check back soon for my review of that one as well!
You know, the more I listen to music, the more I’m convinced that Nordic prog is best prog. Vintersorg, who also happens to be one of the singers on the latest Borknagar album, has a new album coming up titled Orkan. There’s a new track that’s being previewed from Orkan, and you can listen to it right now.
To be honest, it’s not anything mindblowing but it’s just very solid and enjoyable to listen to. I love the ability of Vintersorg to paint a texture and put the listener right in the middle of it. You can also listen to the title track of the album after the jump, and if you like what you hear, Orkan will be available on Napalm Records on June 29th in Europe and July 10th in USA/Canada!
The Treachery Of Senses
01. Above And Beyond
02. Flooding Light
03. In The Eyes Of The Mournuing
04. Aisle of Array
05. Past The Gates
06. Still The Spirit Stays
07. In Endless Endeavor
09. Lines Of Silver Blood
Someone has to popularize the term Nordic Progressive Metal. With bands like Leprous, Ihsahn, Shining, Enslaved, Vintersorg, ICS Vortex and Borknagar, there’s clearly something brewing up there in the northern regions of Europe. Cue Oddland, a Finnish quartet who won a national metal competition to get signed on Century Media. And they definitely fit in line with the mentioned bands as a force to be reckoned with in Progressive Metal. Imagine the groovy undertones of Gojira, Meshuggah and Lamb of God employed in a Leprous-like flamboyant progressive fashion. Imagine vocals that sound like Daniel Gildenlow of Pain of Salvation. And odd mix, is it not? Well, that’s what Oddland sounds like. Their debut album The Treachery of Senses is an enjoyable and refreshing joyride of progressive metal that will hopefully establish Oddland as a force to be reckoned with.
03. The Beauty of Dead Cities
04. The Earthling
05. The Plains of Memories
06. Mount Regency
08. The Winter Eclipse
09. In A Deeper World
10. The Age of Creation (Bonus Track)
11. My Friend of Misery (Bonus Track)
Norwegian progressive black metal giants Borknagar are back! Admittedly, they hadn’t gone anywhere, but ICS Vortex is back in the band, and his heavenly voice graces us once again. Borknagar are known for questioning and redefining what black metal is. It’s quite impressive that they can still do it 17 years after their formation, on their 10th album. This album is definitely more progressive than black, but it still has its roots deeply entrenched in Norway’s finest musical export. For those unfamiliar with Borknagar, they take the fundamentals of black metal (screeching vocals, fast drumming, tremolo picking and dreary chords) and expand upon them. They also use symphonic elements to create a haunting atmosphere that is explored with all the fervor of a true progressive band. Urd is yet another exploration along these lines, this time dealing with the themes of the world tree Yggdrasil, nature, and the interconnectedness of it all.
02. World Scum
06. American Steel
07. Redemption Of Man By God
09. Plata o Plomo
I gotta admit, I’m a pretty big fan of the legendary Max Cavalera. Yes, his music is simple, and his lyrics are borderline idiotic, but hey, sometimes simple is good. Soulfly, also known as the Max Cavalera and Marc Rizzo band (since they are the only constant members) have gone through a lot of changes. They used to be tribal groove metal, and as Max got tired with doing that and wanted to go back to his Sepultura roots (haha), they turned into more of a thrashy, hardcore groove band. A lot of that also comes from Marc Rizzo’s influence, and if you listen to his (awesome) solo work, it’s obvious that he is as influential as Max himself on Soulfly. Dark Ages and Conquer were just excellent, but I was disappointed with Omen. It was just lacking the raw yet catchy element that the previous two albums had. Now, the new album Enslaved brings yet another lineup change. Borknagar drummer David Kinkade and Static-X bassist Tony Campos have joined the fray, and all the signs pointed to an even heavier album than before. But do they deliver on the promise?