OBTEST – Gyvybës Medis

OBTEST – Gyvybës Medis








Origin: Lithuania
Genre: Pagan Metal
Label: Ledo Takas Records Osmose Productions
Year: 2008

Obtest is an old band from Lithuania. They exist from 1992 and this is their fourth full-length album, although they count also many EPs. Except for their debut “Tukstantmetis” where they were more black metal influenced, they have built a very personal sound on all their other releases, and they try to perfect it with their last effort “Gyvybës Medis”.

Even though they are usually referred to as pagan black metal band, I believe that blackened war metal would be more appropriate to describe their music. Their sound is very epic and bombastic, while the guitars remind more of a heavy metal band. The riffing is simple, but with melodies that stay in your mind, with small refrains that are repeated many times in each song and with many melodic well-played guitar solos. The vocals are a mixture of epic and black metal singing and all the lyrics are in Lithuanian, dealing with local legends and ancient pre-christianic pagan tales. The result is very epic war-songs that could raise your “army’s” moral and help you crash your enemies…

If you have never listened to Obtest before you will find this cd very original, but if you’ve heard “Auka Seniems Dievams” or “Iš Kartos Į Kartą” the surprise element is gone. Of course the album is very good, with better production and maturity, and it is released in many different formats. Except for normal jewel case cd, it is also available in digipak format and in A5 deluxe digibook with the band’s biography (only in Lithuanian though), and even in picture LP. You can visit Obtest’s official pages to listen with your own ears.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.obtest.lt
Obtest @ Facebook
Obtest @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

EQUILIBRIUM – Sagas

EQUILIBRIUM – Sagas








Origin: Germany
Genre: Folk Black Metal Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year: 2008

Equilibrium is a band from Germany, formed in 2001 and released their debut “Turis Fratyr” in 2005. Their folk black metal must have made quite an impression since their new work is released by Nuclear Blast, which was somehow surprising for me!

First of all this album is different from their first work, with much more expensive production and a mainstream rich sound! Their music is melodic symphonic black metal with many folk tunes and instruments. It has an epic majestic approach and most of the songs are at high speed, in a restless bombastic attack! There are also 2 instrumental tracks (one of them is the 16 minute masterpiece “Mana”), which help the listener relax a bit from the continuous assault.

The album is very long (more than 79 minutes) and it’s amazing how Equilibrium manage to come up with so many interesting ideas, themes and melodies… I believe that the whole album is basically like a big song, since the tracks don’t have the typical structure (bridge, refrain, etc) and many different genres are mixed into one: black metal, death metal, symphonic metal, classic heavy, power, Viking metal, all blended together. The band uses only black metal vocals, even in the more melodic parts and in the refrains. Another element in their music is that they don’t use only the typical “Viking” folk instruments, but they experiment with sounds that sometimes create a more oriental, or even “exotic” atmosphere!

The compositions and the production of “Sagas” are really at very high standards, as well as the musicianship and the technical skills of the band. If you are fan of bands like Ensiferum you should really check ’em out. There is a real effort in this album to put so many excellent ideas and atmospheres into one album and the result for this ambitious effort is more than satisfying, even though it can be a bit tiring at some parts. Of course if you prefer minimalism and simplicity in music, Equilibrium aren’t for you. The only thing I would like to listen from them is a bigger variety in the vocals (some clean and choirs could fit perfectly) and maybe a shorter album would be easier to assimilate. Of course I don’t complain, since the album is more than great! Their official pages offers many songs, so you better visit them.

The album is released in many different formats: standard CD, digipak CD+DVD (including studio reports, live videos, multimedia material), double LP and a limited to 500 box, including the CD+DVD and some patches, etc. The choice is yours…

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.equilibrium-metal.net
Equilibrium @ Facebook
Equilibrium @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

IMPERTHEAN – The Sounds Above

IMPERTHEAN – The Sounds Above








Origin: USA
Genre: Black Metal Electronic Experimental
Label: Self Released
Year: 2008

Experimentation in metal seems to have no limits and this is something that keeps this music alive for so many decades! Imperthean is a one man’s band from USA. It was formed in 2007 and so far they released this very interesting CD “The Sounds Above”.

It isn’t easy at all to describe their music, since it’s a weird mixture of many different genres. It has many electronic elements under a black metal filter. The album’s atmosphere and lyrics deals with outer space and Imperthean’s “The Sounds Above” manages to sound like a dark futuristic space soundtrack. There is an alien melancholic mood all over the album, like an outer civilization landing on a destroyed, deserted, ruined earth in the near future. They are definitely original, and their vision of electronic music mixed with black metal elements is very different from any other efforts in the past. Industrial gothic, synthetic cyber samples, black guitars, dark soundtrack music, distorted “robotic” vocals and screams, compose this unique sound. The production of the album is more than ok, but I believe it can be improved in the future, with much more impressive results!

Imperthean deserve the attention of those who like bizarre experiments in music, or horror space soundtracks. They (he) are already composing the second album! Since it is self released you can visit their myspace profile to listen to them and find details on how to buy the CD.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
Imperthean @ Myspace
Imperthean @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

WOLFMARE – Whitemare Rhymes

WOLFMARE – Whitemare Rhymes








Origin: Russia
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: CCP Records
Year: 2008

Wolfmare is a Russian folk metal band, that comes from Wolfsangel after changing their name in 2007. Under the name Wolfsangel they released the album “Widdershins” in 2004 and now they signed to CCP to release their new album.

Wolfsangel played folk black death metal, with many Celtic instruments and a fairytale atmosphere. Their debut was very interesting and I liked it very much, even though the amateur production and the bad vocals were a problem… Anyway, after many line-up changes, a new name and label they are back. Well, the change is huge! Actually the only thing that remains is the folk fairytale feeling of the album. The production is great and the technical skills are definitely improved, especially the clean vocals. The music is again Celtic folk extreme metal and except the black-death screams I’d say that the guitars have a more progressive metal approach with only a few death metal touches. The use of clean male and female vocals is very extended and both singers are very good. Acoustic instruments, violins, whistles, mandolin and bagpipes are everywhere in the songs and follow the lead melodies into a medieval setting. Unlike their debut, all traditional instruments are real and not computer samples. Many folk tunes (new and traditional ones) blend with the band’s metal sound in a very nice result.

If you are into folk pagan metal, Wolfmare is a great choice. Maybe you have heard this combination of styles before, but they manage to have a personal sound. There are also guest appearances by some Cruachan musicians and the album is very professional and well played. If you prefer a more underground extreme sound though, you can check their first work “Wolfsangel – Widdershins”. Follow the links below to listen to their music.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.wolfmare.com
Wolfmare @ Facebook
Wolfmare @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FALCHION – Chronicles of the Dead

FALCHION – Chronicles of the Dead








Origin: Finland
Genre: Epic Death Metal
Label: Massacre Records
Year: 2008

“Chronicles of the Dead” is Falchion’s second album. The Finnish band, that has two members of the folk metal band Korpiklaani, had released their debut “Legacy of Heathens” in 2005 and now, 3 years later, they continue what they begun.

They signed to Massacre Records and this time they hope they’ll get the distribution they deserve. Their music is epic death metal, and it sounds somehow like a mixture of Ensiferum and early Children of Bodom. So there is epic riffing and many guitar solos, with a very powerful sound. All of the songs are at mid or fast tempo and the vocals are the classic epic black/death screams (there are no clean vocals of choirs in this one). Everything is very well played, something necessary, since the compositions and the melodies are totally based on the guitars. Unlike most bands of the genre there are no synths in this album, but the sound is still very solid.

This album is very good in general terms, but (for my personal taste) I’d prefer a bigger variety in the vocals and the intensity of the songs, since they are too bombastic most of the time. Of course all of the compositions have a lot of work with many different ideas in the guitars, all under a “polished” production that is necessary to “capture” their sound. So if you like this kind of epic melodic technical black/death metal you should check Falchion. You can get a taste of their music at their myspace profile.

dimiarch

Rating:  (7/10)

Links:
Falchion @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

AKPHAEZYA – Anthology II: Links from the Dead Trinity

AKPHAEZYA – Anthology II - Links from the Dead Trinity








Origin: France
Genre: Avant-garde Metal Progressive Metal
Label: Ascendance Records
Year: 2008

Haha, there are times when words are just too small to describe what the ears listen. How can someone review this weird album from the French band Akphaezya! At least if you read this you are obviously on internet so you can listen to samples from their page.

This is the debut album of Akphaezya, a group that exists from 2002. The band, according to their own words, plays “eclectic” metal featuring the female singer and pianist Nehl Aëlin. Actually they combine almost every music type you can imagine with avant-garde metal. It’s a mixture of progressive, rock, death and Gothic metal, with jazz, trip-hop, cabaret, piano, classical, theatrical, aethereal, ethnic music and every other style freely! Of course the result is very original, and what is most amazing is that they manage to be very good in every genre, with a perfect sound and production. Nehl’s vocals are enchanting, making a wonderful contradiction with the male death screams (that aren’t that often). Even though there are countless genres in this album, I would say that avant-garde progressive metal and jazz are the most dominant.

There are many changes in tempo, mood, intensity, but all of them under a common atmosphere for the whole album, something very difficult. It’s not just a random display of different genres, but there is a very complex structure, by really talented, skilled and ambitious musicians. Totally recommended for open-minded listeners who search for unusual, innovative and original bands. Since words are not enough to describe such weird musical experiments you better visit their official pages below and listen on your own.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.akphaezya.com
Akphaezya @ Myspace
Akphaezya @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

TODESBONDEN – Sleep Now, Quiet Forest

TODESBONDEN – Sleep Now, Quiet Forest








Origin: USA
Genre: Folk Metal Gothic Metal
Label: Prophecy Productions
Year: 2008

Laurie Ann Hous is the lead vocalist of Autumn Tears, who have released 5 excellent albums of neoclassical experimental music with amazing aethereal female vocals. In 2003 she formed Todesbonden and together with Jason Aaron Wood (Ol Sonuf, Rain Fell Within, Ephemeral Sun) on guitars and Patrick Geddes on violin they released in 2004 the “Stormbringer” EP.

Now with a more complete line-up and a deal with Prophecy Productions they return offering us this masterpiece! It’s not easy to define their music since they extend from gothic metal and rock, to folk, classical and ethnic music! Piano, violins and electric guitars blended skillfully, build the perfect setting for Laurie’s characteristic vocals. If you let yourself in their music you will enter a beautiful tranquil magical world. The compositions have a great variety of influences and each of the songs has its own identity. Balkan, renaissance, classical, aethereal, Middle Eastern, Spanish, Celtic, Mexican music elements, all of them are in pure harmony with each other. The melodies are really brilliant in a very melancholic mood. Words are just too weak to describe them. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything better in this genre, both in music and performance. Laurie Ann Haus both in Todesbonden and Autumn Tears is in my opinion by far the best female singer around in this genre, with her unique operatic vocals enchanting my ears!

This is another quality release from Prophecy that you shouldn’t miss if you like this kind of music! Except for the normal version it’s also available in a digipak edition, both of them with great artwork and photography. Currently the band is working on its next album. You can get a taste at the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (10/10)

Links:
Todesbonden @ Myspace
Todesbonden @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ELVENKING – Two Tragedy Poets (…And a Caravan of Weird Figures)

ELVENKING - Two Tragedy Poets








Origin: Italy
Genre: Folk Acoustic Folk Metal
Label: AFM Records
Year: 2008

The power folk metal band from Italy is back with its fifth album. Being already 11 years in the scene they released the very promising debut “Heathenreel” in 2001, combining epic power metal with folk music. In their following albums the folk elements were slowly removed, resulting in the almost progressive power metal album “The Scythe” in 2007, where all folk elements are almost gone. Since this was their weakest album so far (according to many reviews and my opinion) my expectations weren’t very high, but fortunately I was wrong!

This album is their folkest work so far and even though it is supposed to be acoustic, the orchestrations are so rich, that you can’t understand it at first listen! Acoustic guitars, drums, violins, keys and Damnagoras’ characteristic vocals create a unique sound, very different from any other “acoustic” work you’ve ever heard. There are also some electric guitars, but in very minor parts, adding a metal sound to the album. Except for the cover on “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and the two acoustic versions of their previous songs “The Winter Wake” and “The Wanderer” all the other songs are new. This album is much closer to “Heathenreel” and I believe the absence of electric guitars made the band much more inventive on the compositions of the songs. The lead melodies are based mainly on the many different types of guitars and secondary on the violins (synths and whistles are in the background). Aydan’s work on the guitars is remarkable since he mixed standard acoustic, piezo acoustic and classical ones with brilliance, creating an unbelievably solid sound. Of course the production of the album is at the high standards they always offer us!

The album will be released on 14thof November in digipak and jewel case editions and will be preceded by an online single! Digipak version will include the acoustic version of “The Wanderer”, while there is also a song “Skywards 2008” available only in the Japan version. For me it was a very pleasant surprise, since I thought the band would follow other musical directions. If you liked their earlier more folk works, you must check “Two Tragedy Poets”. Also if you want to listen to an interesting acoustic experiment with a folk power metal approach, don’t hesitate! You can also check their official pages for samples.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.elvenking.net/index.htm
Elvenking @ Facebook
Elvenking @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews