ARCANE GRAIL – Arya Marga (Ninefold Path to the Innocence)

ARCANE GRAIL – Arya Marga








Origin: Russia
Genre: Melodic Black Metal Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Musica Production
Year: 2009

This is the second album from the symphonic extreme metal band from Russia, after its debut “Mysteries of the Ancient Charnel” in 2006. The band was formed in 2001 and has been into many line-up changes all these years. Actually, after “Arya Marga” this year, 4 band members were fired (most of them were also on the first album) and now only two of them (Demether and Natalie, both vocalists!) are left in the band…

Anyway, I guess these problems are for them to solve. Coming to the music now, the album is very good and improved a lot since their debut. They play symphonic extreme metal, with a gothic atmosphere and black metal screaming vocals combined with operatic female ones… Well, this mixture isn’t unusual these days, but Arcane Grail do it their personal way and with a powerful and crystal clear sound. Except for the keyboards and piano performed by Anastasia, there are also many guest musicians in cello, viola and violin, enriching the band’s sound with physical instruments. Of course the typical metal instruments are still dominant, but they are accompanied and completed by a thick “natural” symphonic layer.

“Arya Marga” is a concept album that contains nine songs dealing with the ways and actions that lead men to enlightenment, like a contemporary version of Buddhism and Nirvana. The band members though clearly state they are not Buddhists, but they are affected by ancient beliefs and principles. So the general concept of the album can be seen as a rebellion against modern times and a return to diachronic values. Their music is very bombastic and majestic. There are some slower and more melodic parts, where Natalie sings operatic and then the screaming black metal vocals and blasting guitars enter. They use different kinds of growls (some of them by Natalie!!) in a dialogue between them and with the female vocals. This works perfectly, resulting in a powerful, emotional and very variable album. They move from gothic metal to black/death metal, power metal, classical music and opera, combined with mastery in their compositions, so that the album remains very tight and solid.

Arcane Grail have released a really good album that most fans of the genre will appreciate. All “Arya Marga” songs have something different to offer with many innovative melodies and they are very professionally produced and orchestrated. Also, unlike most Russian bands, their lyrics are in English except for a few parts. The album is released again by Musica Productions (like their debut) with a beautiful 20-page booklet, but I don’t know how good distribution they will get. In any case you can visit their official pages for more info and music.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://arcanegrail.heavymusic.ru
Arcane Grail @ Myspace
Arcane Grail @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

MISTUR – Attende

MISTUR – Attende








Origin: Norway
Genre: Epic Black Metal Viking Metal
Label: Einheit Produktionen
Year: 2009

Another great band comes from the mountains and fjords of Sogndal in Norway, the place that gave us Windir. The band begun in 2003 as a two members’ project and they released the amazing demo “Skoddefjellet” in 2005. This 4-song demo left many promises and got very positive reviews. So now, 4 years later, they release their debut album “Attende” with Einheit Produktionen.

Mistur have now a complete line-up, something that makes their sound much richer compared to their demo. They also have Stian Bakketeig (lead guitarist of Windir) in their ranks, so some riffs might remind you of them… Even if there are some similarities with Windir, don’t expect to listen to a clone. Mistur have a very different approach in their music. Their Viking metal is strongly influenced by dark classical music and they orchestrate their songs with amazing keyboards. Their music is epic, melancholic and melodic at the same time, without many folk elements. They use mainly piano and symphonic synths to accompany their songs and I can say they both work perfectly, giving the band its personal sound. Most of the time, vocals are black metal screams with some clean ones. Odne (he also runs another great band, called Sigtyr) is in my opinion one of the best singers of the genre. Mistur lyrics are all in Norwegian dealing with Viking mythology.

Attende” is a really great album of dark, epic, symphonic, Viking black metal that moves in mid-tempo rhythms. The work in the composition of the melodies is remarkable and the songs really captivate the listener. The combination of the melodic lead guitars and synths is excellent and the best moment is this album is the song “Skoddefjellet” from the first demo. The artwork of the album is made by Kris Verwimp, the master of the genre… If you like bands like Windir and Cor Scorpii, you probably already have this album. Otherwise, you should really check their music and be enchanted like me.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.mistur.no
Mistur @ Facebook
Mistur @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

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HEINRICHREICH – Druid

HEINRICHREICH – Druid








Origin: Ireland Slovakia
Genre: Black Metal Folk Black Metal
Label: Self Released
Year: 2009

Heinrichreich is a black metal band, half Irish half Slovak. Jörg Heinrich, band’s founder and composer was born in Slovakia, but he lives in Ireland for many years now. The band was formed in 2007 playing raw underground black metal, adding eventually some folk elements in its music. After the demo “Ein Reich” in 2007 and a split with Taranis “Ancient Will” in 2008, this is the debut album for Heinrichreich.

The first thing I want to comment about this album, is the poor production, that isn’t good even for the underground standards. Anyway after the first minutes you get used to it and actually it doesn’t ruin anything, since the band has a very raw sound, that doesn’t demand polished production. I just think that it could be a little better… Coming to the music now, that counts most, Heinrichreich show us two faces: some parts are pure raw black metal and other parts have a more melodic folk sound, with the addition of Irish folk instruments (bodrahns, whistles, pipes), played by Linda Heinrich (Jörg’s wife). While the black metal songs / parts are nothing special in my opinion, the folk ones are quite enjoyable. Irish Celtic tunes, melodic atmospheric synths and raw screaming vocals are mixed cleverly, offering some good moments and ideas of folk black metal.

Of course as I said, the production needs certain improvement and despite my low rating (due to the many uninteresting parts of this album, that also last for only 34 minutes) I believe that Heinrichreich can offer something more complete in the future. There are some parts in their songs that are very promising. If you’d like to listen to their music you can follow the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (6/10)

Links:
http://heinrichreich.cells.sk
Heinrichreich @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

IN TORMENTATA QUIETE – Teatroelementale

IN TORMENTATA QUIETE – Teatroelementale








Origin: Italy
Genre: Avant-garde Metal Extreme Progressive Metal Melodic Black Metal
Label: My Kingdom Music
Year: 2009

It was back in 2005 when I got at my hands the debut same-titled album from In Tormentata Quiete. I remember I liked their unique music very much and I was always wondering if they are going to continue. There was almost no info in their official site, so I was certain that they split up. How mistaken was I! Now, 4 years later, they return with their second work “Teatroelementale” a brilliant masterpiece, deserving every single second of waiting!

ITQ come from Bologna of Italy and they were formed in 1998. It’s really not easy at all to describe their music, since I don’t know all these music genres they are influenced from. But what counts most is the final result. And it’s definitely amazing, innovative and unique, like nothing you have ever heard from another band. Anyway, in order to get an idea, I would say their music is a mix of progressive metal and rock, extreme avant-garde metal, black metal, traditional Italian music, even with some classical and jazz influences. In most such experiments (successful ones) the result is impressive and original, but it usually stops there. In ITQ’s case though, they manage to create really captivating songs, not just complexity for complexity. There are amazing melodies, powerful outbursts and above all EMOTION!

The orchestrations and structures of the compositions are very complex and require amazing skills. Their sound is unbelievably solid, considering the countless influences and the use of so many different styles in each song. Of course, apart for the typical metal instruments, they also use keyboards, piano, violin and saxophone. The most characteristic element of ITQ though, is their unique vocals. They use melodic clean male vocals not in a “metal” style (Giovanni Notarangelo), combined with really extreme screams (Marco Vitale) and female vocals, all in great harmony with each other. They move easily from one style and mood to another and they know how to “play” with emotions. In one moment they sink you in melancholy and in the next they “push” you to scream out full of rage, releasing all hatred from you. I would say their music is “cathartic” and liberating…

The CD is released by My Kingdom Music, with a very artistic booklet, that matches the quality of their music. Even though they are still unknown don’t expect an underground release. Their production and sound really kicks ass! If you want to order the CD you can visit their label’s page for more details (http://www.mykingdommusic.net). For me, this is one of the best releases in 2009 and I recommend it to every open-minded metalhead. Of course I know that their unusual melodies and approach might seem strange to many, but then again experiments have their risk. For me though, In Tormentata Quiete’s second experiment “Teatroelementale” was a complete success! You can visit also their official pages below to listen to their music.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9,5/10)

Links:
http://www.intormentataquiete.com
In Tormentata Quiete @ Facebook
In Tormentata Quiete @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

VESNA – Slovanská Krev

VESNA - Slovanská Krev








Origin: Czech Republic
Genre: Folk Black Metal
Label: Eastside Records
Year: 2009

From the ashes of Czech folk black metal band Adultery, Vesna has risen. Adultery was born in 1995, released 2 albums and an EP, but they split up in 2007, after their singer left the band. The same year, the 3 remaining members, together with a new violin player, decided to continue under a new name and a more folk approach. So Vesna (spring in English) is born!

“Slovanská Krev” isn’t actually a new album. This EP was firstly released by Adultery in 2004, but Vesna totally re-recorded and re-arranged it, adding also two new songs. Another difference is that the band changed their lyrics from Czech to Moravian language. So the album lasts now for about 27 minutes… Vesna play folk black metal, where flutes and violins have the leading role in their melodies. We have the typical contradiction of raw black metal instruments and brutal vocals on one side and nice melodic folk tunes and clean vocals on the other. Luckily Vesna do it with great success and they offer us a good album of Slavonic pagan metal.

The band is already preparing its next EP named “Hrdost” (Proud) having a new violin player, so I guess this will show us better their new direction. Even if the album is small, it is more than decent, with nice compositions and folk melodies (violins rule), but I have to say that the production could be improved and I hope they will do so in the future. So if you like folk black metal the-old-way and you never knew about Adultery, or if you liked them, this is a release you should check. You can also visit their official pages for samples and their label Eastside if you’d like to get it.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.vesna-cz.com
Vesna @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

SVARTBY – Riv, Hugg och Bit

SVARTBY - Riv, Hugg och Bit








Origin: Russia
Genre: Folk Black Metal Folk Death Metal
Label: Trollzorn - SMP Records
Year: 2009

Russian folk metallers Svartby from Saint Petersburg are back with their second full-length album “Riv, Hugg och Bit” which means “Rip, Chop and Bite”. This 4-member band was formed in 2004 and after 2 EPs they released their debut album “Kom i Min Kittel” with the Russian label Phono Records in 2007. They got the attention of Trollzorn that re-released it next year. And so, on August of 2009 their new work is out, again by Trollzorn.

Their folkish black / death metal reminds a lot of early Finntroll, but that’s only after a first listening. According to the band, Svartby is a fantasy “black village” where witches, dwarves, goblins and spirits live (but not trolls, other bands sing a lot about them, so they have no place in Svartby!). So I guess you can get an idea about their thematology. Coming to the music now, this is a very good album! They use very bizarre tunes and scales and they have a very personal sense of melody. Unlike most bands of the genre that use catchy folk tunes (I don’t say it with a bad meaning), Svartby compose very unusual melodies. Actually sometimes they sound to me like they are de-constructing melodies, putting them back in a weird order, something risky (they could easily sound out-of-tune), but the result is very interesting and original. Of course they also use “normal” melodies and humpa, polka, folky tunes as well.

They have a very good production and a great balance in their sound, with all instruments sounding clear and at the same level. The improvement from their previous efforts is vast, almost chaotic! They use keyboards very much and most of the melodies are based on the synths. Sometimes they are used like piano, or folk instruments, others they are just in the background and sometimes they even have a jazz-like sound. Of course their music is very rich and variable, so there are also many parts where guitars take the leading melodic lines. So despite the extended use of melodic keyboards, they still sound very powerful and “metal”, cause guitars, drums and bass are substantial in the song structures and they are not there “just to be”. Furthermore, they use only brutal rough vocals that are combined perfectly with their rich, almost symphonic sound. Some songs are more aggressive, or fast, but most of them are melodic and in mid-tempo. This album is dedicated to the dwarves of “Svartby” and the band really managed to “dress” their fantasy tales with the perfect music: a dark folk metal soundtrack that they name “svartcore”!

Overall “Riv, Hugg och Bit” is a great album and fans of folk symphonic black / death metal better check Svartby. It is released by Trollzorn, a label with great distribution, so it easy to find it. If you want a first contact with their sound better check out their official pages below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://svartby.com
Svartby @ Facebook
Svartby @ VK

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ARKONA – Гой, Роде, Гой!

ARKONA – Goi, Rode, Goi!








Origin: Russia
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: Napalm Records SoundAge Productions
Year: 2009

The time for Arkona’s 5th full-length album is near. At the end of October this unique Russian band will release its first album with Napalm Records (who also re-released their previous album) so their challenge to conquer larger audience is ahead. Of course in the circles of pagan metal Arkona is one of the best bands, but when a band signs in a bigger label, usually major changes occur. So let’s see what their next step forward will bring to them and what will they offer to us.

Luckily their unlimited talent, experience and personality left their music totally unaltered and “Goi, Rode, Goi!” is their best and most complete album so far. Arkona have the “luxury” to have (in my opinion) the biggest “front-man” in the whole pagan metal scene, which happens to be a woman! Masha Scream has one of the most characteristic growling / screaming vocals around, while her clean folk singing is by far the best in this genre. If it was to describe this album with few words it would be: pagan folk metal manifest! This work lasts for 80 minutes with 14 amazing songs of Slavic pagan metal. Melodic guitars and countless traditional instruments combined so naturally, in Arkona’s personal sound. Compared to their previous album “Ot Serdtsa K Nebu – From the Heart to the Skies”, this album is less experimental, with less acoustic songs. They emphasize in their pagan metal sound, varying from folk metal to pagan black metal, with Masha giving her best performance so far, while choir vocals also appear in more parts than before.

“Goi, Rode, Goi!” is actually like an all-star pagan metal album, with the participation of many guests from top groups of the genre. Musicians from Svarga, Rarog, Kalevala, Månegarm, Obtest, Skyforger, Menhir, Heidevolk, Ashaena and Tverd among others were invited in this amazing album. Most of them appear on the 15 minutes epos “Na Moey Zemle (In My Land)” and help also in the choirs and the traditional instruments. Of course not only metal, but also classic and folk musicians participate in this album that contains, apart from the typical metal instruments, tambourines, shaker, khomuz, balalaika, yakut jaw-harp, gaita gallega, blockflute, small pipe, tin and low whistles, sopilka, zhaleyka, okarina, accordeon, violin, kokle, tulnic, domra, mandoline, as well a string quintet and a female choir! What is most amazing is that the band has a very balanced and tight sound and everything is heard so natural and in the right place, revealing a very serious and professional effort.

My favourite song from this album is “Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov (Faces Of Immortal Gods)”, where Masha’s vocals are totally “out-of-this-world”!! Of course a special reference must be made on the amazing “Na Moey Zemle (In My Land)”, a metal opera, where a Russian wanderer travels across Europe to find a land that will make him happy. Along the way he meets different people from various cultures and all guest musicians [Skyforger (Latvia), Obtest (Lithuania), Månegarm (Sweden), Menhir (Germany), Heidevolk (Holland)] sing in their native language. Especially the parts where Heiko Gerull from Menhir sings with Masha (two of my favourite singers), sound like the perfect combination to me!

Unlike other bands, their success didn’t alter their music in a negative way, nor drove them in more “commercial” paths. “Goi, Rode, Goi!” is a 100% Arkona album in the sound we loved them. There are no compromises… On the contrary they sound more extreme and fierce than before. Kris Verwimp painted their lovely artwork and he couldn’t do anything better than that! If you have any appreciation in the folk pagan metal scene and you should get one album this year, save your money until the end of October, that Napalm will release this masterpiece. Until then, check their official pages or watch this preview video below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9,5/10)

Links:
http://arkona-russia.com
Arkona @ Facebook
Arkona @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

DISOLVO ANIMUS – Aleatoric Morte

DISOLVO ANIMUS - Aleatoric Morte








Origin: Greece
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Orkestral Promenade Productions
Year: 2009

Disolvo Animus is a newcomer from Hellas, that where formed in 2006 by Animus (vocals, guitars). After the self-titled demo in 2006, a promo in 2008 and numerous changes they finally look to have a more solid line-up and they signed with Orkestral Promenade Productions to release the debut EP called “Aleatoric Morte”.

Before listening to this EP, the only info I got was that they where playing symphonic black metal, a genre not very popular in our country’s scene. The album begins with an orchestral intro and then comes “God Bless Cain”, the first actual song! Well, I must admit I wasn’t prepared for something so intense and professional, I was impressed! This is a keyboard based black metal band, following the footsteps of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth (especially in the synths) and Hollenthon. TheDreamless does an amazing work with the orchestrations, under a very powerful production, that can easily be compared with the aforementioned bands (except for the sound of drums, that could be better). He “dresses” the album with a rich symphonic filter, while all melodies and structures of the songs are completely based on the keys. Their singer dis.Astrous is equally great, screaming with such passion and grandiosity and he enriches the dark atmosphere of this EP. Actually it is more accurate to describe their music as black orchestral music with extreme vocals. All other instruments, including guitars, are somehow in the background, since synths and vocals totally dominate their music. Their lyrics are in English, dealing with dark Apocalyptic and astral themes.

All four compositions of “Aleatoric Morte” are of highest quality, with many interesting ideas, creating a very atmospheric and powerful work that fans of this genre must definitely check. I believe that another great band from Hellas is about to arise, let’s see. Till then you can visit their Facebook or myspace page to listen to their music and order their EP.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
Disolvo Animus @ Facebook
Disolvo Animus @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews