SCYTHIA – … of War

SCYTHIA – … of War








Origin: Canada
Genre: Extreme Progressive Metal Folk Metal
Label: Self Released
Year: 2010

Scythia is a new six-member band coming from Canada. They were formed in the end of 2008 and they just released their debut album on their own, without any label behind them. Their music belongs to the folk metal genre in general and the group has been very active, supporting many big bands in local gigs, like Eluveitie, Belphegor, Alestorm, etc and they have already scheduled many shows in the coming months.

Folk metal nowadays has a large variety of bands and sub-genres in its ranks, so it’s not enough to describe Scythia’s music alone. I would say that the basis of their music is progressive metal, under a folk prism, mainly due to Marisol’s excellent violins. The 9 songs of this album are very complex and they don’t follow typical structures, so you will not find repeated parts, bridges and refrains. They chose the “hard” way, since they had many ideas and lot of inspiration, enough to create a very variable and interesting work. The strong card of Scythia is the orchestration and the combination of progressive metal riffs with synths and violins in a very melodic folk result. Except for the folk touches, there are also many classical influences both on violins and keys, which are combined very well inside the songs. The rhythm of the songs changes often, as well as the power of them. Except for the more typical progressive metal parts, there are also some long instrumental parts, where progressive guitars and violins are “married” perfectly (my favorite parts from the band), some acoustic parts, some parts with an epic power metal approach and a few extreme outbursts. Vocals are the typical of a progressive power metal band, with the addition of some beautiful female ones and very few brutal screams. In my opinion the band needs some more work in the vocals. Of course the singer has a very correct voice, but he needs a more personal “color” in order to make something more distinctive and recognizable.

Overall “… of War” is a promising debut that I definitely enjoyed and I believe fans of the genre should check them. They are reminiscent to bands like Elvenking, Kamelot, etc. and they need only few improvements to make something great. The production is one of them, especially in the more extreme parts, where the guitars sound a little drowned. Their sound isn’t polished at all. On the contrary it has a “live” feeling and I think it was something intended, since they pay a lot of attention to their live performances. I believe that what Scythia lack for now, is a special characteristic that will separate them from the rest. They are still in the beginning though and actually only a few bands have managed this. Of course we speak for a self-financed and self released debut album, so the result is more than satisfying. Everything else will come with time… The cd is released in digipak and you can visit their official pages to listen to their music and find more info about the band.

dimiarch

Rating:  (7,5/10)

Links:
http://www.scythia.ca
Scythia @ Facebook
Scythia @ My Space

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

YGGDRASIL – Vedergällning

YGGDRASIL – Vedergällning








Origin: Sweden
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: Det Germanske Folket
Year: 2009

Yggdrasil is the band of Gustaf Hagel and Magnus Wolfheart from Sweden. They begun this project on 2001 and after various demos they signed with Det Germanske Folket to release their debut “Kvällningsvindar över Nordrönt Land” in 2007. Two years later they return with the same label to offer us their second effort “Vedergällning”, a really good album.

Their music was always folk epic pagan metal with some black metal influences and this hasn’t changed in this new album. What has changed dramatically though is their sound. “Kvällningsvindar över Nordrönt Land” was a good and ambitious album that was drowning in its amateurish sound and production, while the vocals weren’t the best… There were many great ideas and the band showed it had the composing skills to do something good, if they just could work more in the production. Of course this album was actually the re-recording of their two demos, so this can be an excuse. Anyway it had many “technical” problems…

Listening to this new album is like listening to a new band. The sound improvement is chaotic! Another difference is that the female vocals that were used in their previous album are now absent. “Vedergällning” has a very epic sound, created by the mid-tempo heavy riffing and the folk tunes of the lead guitars. The use of enchanting violins works excellent in this album and it actually gives this “something” to the songs. Synths are mainly in the background, in order to add some “depth” in their sound, while some acoustic instruments (mostly guitars) help them to create a magical folk atmosphere. Vocals are also improved and except for the typical pagan black metal screams, there are also male clean vocals and many epic choirs, especially in the refrains. All of them are combined in perfect balance, following the spirit and atmosphere of the music. There are 8 songs in total in this album that last for almost 45 minutes and all of them are based on the characteristic traditional Norse scales that many bands before them have introduced. But Yggdrasil are far from copying other bands and “Vedergällning” has a very personal sound, with excellent work in the compositions. Their lyrics are in Swedish and as expected they deal with themes from the Norse mythology / history.

Yggdrasil are back with a great folk metal album. Their rich sound with the melodic refrains, the epic choirs and the folk violins are simply amazing and worth the attention of fans of the genre. Especially because it’s obvious that the band put a lot of effort in this work, in order to achieve this surprising improvement. You can visit their official pages to listen to songs from both their albums and find more info about this great folk band.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.yggdrasil-sweden.com
Yggdrasil @ Facebook
Yggdrasil @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FIMBULVET – Kriegerwahn

FIMBULVET – Kriegerwahn








Origin: Germany
Genre: Epic Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Nocturnal Empire
Year: 2009

Fimbulvet is a German epic black metal band from Thuringia that had impressed me with its second album “Der Ruf in Goldene Hallen” in 2008. One year later they return with a new release, something between a new full length and an EP, since “Kriegerwahn” contains only five new songs, but it lasts for almost half an hour (29 minutes).

Their style remains unchanged, melodic epic pagan metal with extreme and clean vocals. The guest appearances of Heiko Gerull of Menhir and Stickel from Odroerir can give you a hint of the music style of this album. Epic melodic riffing rules their synths-free compositions and is often combined with acoustic guitars. Stephan’s amazing clean vocals complete the melodies of their songs, while his brutal screaming ones give them the needed aggression. I believe though that this EP lacks a little in power because the “black” parts are used often as a bridge for the epic refrains of the songs and the main effort in composition goes to the melodic lines. Luckily enough, there are also parts where the black vocals are combined more successfully with the faster melodic riffs and there is when the band becomes really good! Undoubtedly I enjoyed this album, since I like this genre a lot and Fimbulvet are very good at it. It leaves me though with the impression that it was a little hasty and the band could wait for a more complete album.

Kriegerwahn” it’s not the next step forward for the band, since it feels more like these songs were written together with the ones from the previous album. On the other hand if you look at the music itself it’s a very good work, much above the average albums of the genre. It’s released by their new label Nocturnal Empire both in jewel case and in a limited to 500 copies digipak version. If you don’t know Fimbulvet at all, I would suggest you to start with “Der Ruf in Goldene Hallen”.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.fimbulvet.com
Fimbulvet @ Facebook
Fimbulvet @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

SYCRONOMICA – Sycroscope

SYCRONOMICA – Sycroscope








Origin: Germany
Genre: Epic Black Metal Melodic Black Metal
Label: Silverwolf Productions
Year: 2009

Sycroscope” is the third album from the German band. They were formed in 1996 when they released their first demo, but it took them 8 years to release their debut full-length album “Paths” in 2004. Then they changed label to release “Gate” in 2006 and now they signed with Silverwolf Productions for this new album (three different labels so far).

Sycronomica play melodic symphonic black metal with an epic mood and some folk touches. They have a decent production for this demanding genre and a solid sound, even if the sound of synths should be more powerful and “real” in my opinion. Their songs are very well composed with many interesting ideas and a variety in rhythm, power and atmosphere. I’d also like to comment the excellent vocals in this work; both the majestic brutal ones and the epic clean ones. Guitars and synths have the first word in the melodies, changing the leading role between them. There also parts where operatic clean vocals sing the lead melodic lines and these are the parts that I find most interesting in this album. The 9 songs of “Sycroscope” last for 55 minutes and their lyrics are half in English and half in German. I believe though that some parts in the songs are not “that necessary” and it would be in favor of the band if the album was shorter, keeping only the best elements of their music.

Overall Sycronomica have made a big effort in this album and the result is quite satisfying. What stops them from making something bigger, in my opinion, is the lack of something fresh and personal in their sound that will make the listener recognize them among the countless releases of this genre. Anyway it’s not a band that should be overlooked by fans of the genre and you can check it on your own in the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (7,5/10)

Links:
www.sycronomica.de
Sycronomica @ Facebook
Sycronomica @ MySpace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ELUVEITIE – Everything Remains (As it Never Was)

ELUVEITIE – Everything Remains (As it Never Was)








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Folk Death Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year: 2010

Eluveitie is a band that needs no introduction. They are one of the most successful (if not the most) folk bands these days, as their contract with Nuclear Blast easily reveals. This 8-member Swiss band that was formed in 2002 has already released 4 albums and is touring around the world with great success. Their last year’s album “Evocation I – The Arcane Dominion” was an acoustic folk album, but now they return with their “official” folk black/death metal sound.

I have to admit that Eluveitie has never been one of my favorite bands and I always found the “praise” around their name a bit too exaggerating. It is also true that I liked a lot their acoustic album. Before I listen to this album, I had read many controversial reviews, while some of them were quite disappointing for the band. So I wasn’t expecting too much from this release. Luckily enough “Everything Remains” is a very good album. I believe it’s the best and most complete work of the band so far. Of course the production and overall sound is perfect, like always. Their style remains “as it ever was”, Swedish death / black metal combined with folk tunes and instruments. Only that this time everything sounds more balanced and tight. Their guitar riffing is more melodic and in harmony with the folk scales, so the result is much more solid. The vocals are once again brutal male death metal and folk female ones, and there are as well some choirs in the refrains. There are 13 songs in this work and most of them are about 3 minutes long, so it’s more like a concept album rather than separate songs. On the other hand, there are also some more “stand-alone” songs like the hit “Thousandfold” that has already its own videoclip.

Eluveitie has managed to bring this “extreme” folk metal genre to the masses. They worked hard for this very professional result, without any compromises in their style. They played this music from the beginning and unlike other bands who want to reach higher sales, they don’t reduce their black / death metal elements. With this album they really gained my respect and changed my opinion about them. Like most releases of Nuclear Blast, there are many versions of “Everything Remains”. Except for the normal CD edition, there is a digipak version with 2 bonus songs and a bonus DVD, a box set including the digipak plus a pendant, and there is also an LP version. If you need more info and want to listen to some songs, you can visit their official pages.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://eluveitie.ch
Eluveitie @ Facebook
Eluveitie @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

HIMINBJORG – Chants d’hier, Chants de Guerre, Chants de la Terre

HIMINBJORG – Chants d'hier, Chants de Guerre, Chants de la Terre








Origin: France
Genre: Experimental Pagan Black Metal
Label: European Tribes
Year: 2010

It has been 5 years since we listened to something new from Himinbjorg, when they released the album “Europa”. After that, there was silence and almost no news from them. I actually thought the band split up, but then out of nowhere they return with a new full length from their own label European Tribes. I always liked this band from the French Alps, so I was eager to listen to their new work. Himinbjorg are usually described as Viking black metal, but I think this “term” isn’t accurate at all in their case. Maybe in their first works it was closer, but they always had a very strange and personal sound. They had some black metal songs, some experimental songs and they also had some epic pagan black metal songs that are my favorite from the band and the basic reason I first listened to Himinbjorg.

In this new album “Chants d’hier, Chants de Guerre, Chants de la Terre”, which translates to “Songs of Old, Songs of War, Songs of the Land” they emphasize on their more experimental face. The tempo of the songs is slowed down and aggression gives its place to a dark atmospheric epic mood. There are two long almost ambient songs with dark recitations and a soundtrack atmosphere as well as 3 epic acoustic songs. Of course there are also five pagan black metal songs in this album that are simply amazing and they are enough in my opinion for someone to buy this album! Especially the fifth song “Destin de Sang” with the combination of black and clean vocals and the addition of folk instruments is the highlight of this album. If I had to rate only this song it would be a 10!!! Zahaah’s epic clean vocals really work for me and he is one of my favorite singers, since he has a very personal, expressive and characteristic voice. Except for “Destin de Sang” that is the most “typical” pagan folk metal track here, the rest of the songs have a very unique approach. They are slower, with dark melancholic melodies, combined with some “warmer” riffs that in my opinion have a gothic touch. Anyway, the result is quite interesting and original… This time all lyrics are in French (for the first time, after 5 albums in English) and they deal with the influence of ancestral spirit and traditions in someone’s personal life experience.

I believe that this is a very good album from Himinbjorg, who are not afraid to experiment. They always had a variety of “genres” in their albums, but maybe this time the differences between the genres are bigger and more obvious. I have to admit that I wasn’t very impressed from these “experimental” songs and I prefer their more fast, aggressive and “alive” side. I believe though that the basic reason is that if you don’t understand French you can’t really get into these songs, since they are mainly based on their lyrics. Anyway the rest of the songs really make it up for me. You can visit their official site to find more info about purchasing this album and listen to some of their songs.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://www.himinbjorg.fr
Himinbjorg @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

BUTTERFLY TEMPLE – Земля (Earth)

BUTTERFLY TEMPLE – Земля (Earth)








Origin: Russia
Genre: Extreme Progressive Metal Folk Pagan Metal
Label: Metalism Records
Year: 2010

The pioneers of Russian pagan metal are back with a new album, 4 years after their previous full-length “Following the Sun” in 2006. Butterfly Temple were formed in 1995 and they have been one of the most memorable bands of their genre, since actually all Russian pagan groups are deeply influenced by them. After their first four albums that were all very different and innovative, their last two albums were a bit more “conservative” and typical, still of a high level though.

The expectations from a new album from this band are always very high. Especially this time, since their founder and front-man Lesyar, who left the band after the fourth album, returns as a guest member in the vocals. “Земля” has an amazing sound, very powerful, solid and clear, by far the most professional production of the band ever. Butterfly Temple are back to re-claim their throne and this album can make it for them. Abrey’s clean vocals are excellent and unbelievably expressive as always. It’s his best performance so far; he is really breathtaking. The combination with Lesyar’s unique brutal pagan screams touches perfection and his absence from the band was obvious in the previous works. They are the best Slavic pagan metal singers around and it’s great to listen them together again! There are also some female folk singers, adding more to the variety of this work. All lyrics are in Russian, dealing with nature inspired pagan themes and about our lost connection with long-suffering mother Earth.

The music itself is brilliant. Butterfly Temple had always been experimenting and changing from album to album. Some works had a folk approach, others a more epic, or doom, others a more dark and others an acoustic approach, but all of them with the “trademark” sound and scales of the band. This album is different, having their most “progressive metal” approach so far and their more “extreme” parts are limited to Lesyar’s participation. Of course their music is still melodic epic pagan metal with some folk and black touches, but there is an obvious “technical turn” in their sound. The compositions are really innovative, with many changes inside them and a very rich orchestration. There are parts where Abrey’s vocals run the show for the band, parts where an “old time” pagan black metal mood is dominant, other parts where guitars and synths focus on the typical Butterly Temple melodic sound and there are also some big instrumental parts in their songs, where their new progressive mood is more dominant. The 7 long songs in this album last 52 minutes totally, while the limited version has a bonus acoustic track plus a video.

Butterfly Temple left their old label and signed a deal with Metalism Records to release this album and distribute it also outside Russia. “Земля” is released both in normal jewel case edition and a limited digibook version with 20-page booklet. This album is recommended to every metal fan since it covers a great range of genres with really quality music. For me it’s one of the highlights of this year. You can check them on your own in their official page. I would like to listen to a more pagan folk black metal album from them again in the future, but I have to admit that everything in this album is of highest quality!

dimiarch

Rating:  (9,5/10)

Links:
http://www.butterflytemple.ru

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

CHTHONIC – Mirror of Retribution

CHTHONIC – Mirror of Retribution








Origin: Taiwan
Genre: Folk Black Metal Melodic Black Metal
Label: Spinefarm Records
Year: 2009

Chthonic is not a new band, even though they are not very well known to the public. Maybe their Taiwanese origin is a reason for this, since it’s only the last few years that they try to spread their music to a wider audience. They were formed in 1995 and it was four years later when their debut album was released. “Mirror of Retribution” is their fifth full-length album, released 4 years after their previous effort “Seediq Bale” in 2005. The band has been very active all these years, releasing many albums, EPs, compilations, as well as 2 live DVDs and making many gigs around the world and finally they draw the attention of Spinefarm Records who signed them for their new album.

From the first seconds it is obvious that their basic influence is Cradle of Filth and they have many similarities with them, both in sound and music. But Chthonic is very far from being a CoF clone. They definitely have their personal identity, which is based on the many local elements they use in their music and especially the traditional Taiwanese instruments such as the very characteristic two-string violin, called “hena”. They play fast melodic black metal with synths and folk influences and they have a very powerful sound. Guitar riffs are very dominant in their songs and they don’t always follow the typical black metal guitar lines. They often have a progressive and death metal approach and they sound very technical. Their vocals are also very variable, using many different styles of extreme brutal black/death metal screams.

Another interesting factor about Chthonic is that they have a very unusual lyrical concept, based on Taiwanese myths and legends under a somehow nationalistic prism. Of course this is usual for many bands, but it’s the first time I see it from a group from this area. In their booklet there are many details about their local history and the concept of this album. The lyrics are in English and I have to admit that they are much better than many bands whose first language is English… Anyway, this lyrical concept fits perfectly to their music and together with hena’s sad sound it helps the band to create a very dark and unique atmosphere. I prefer their more folkloric and melodic moments, but actually all compositions are very good!

Overall “Mirror of Retribution” deserves your attention, since it’s a very professional album with many great songs and a really unusual and original mix of black metal and Taiwanese music, all under a surprisingly good production, where everything sounds crystal clear! Their previous works are also very good, but if you don’t know them, this is the right album to begin with. It is more than obvious that they have worked a lot to reach to this level and I hope they succeed their goals. You can check Chthonic’s music in their official pages.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://www.chthonic.tw
Chthonic @ Facebook
Chthonic @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews