Tuesday, 10 April 2018

#6 - Top of 2017

Sons of Crom - The Black Tower (Nordvis)

The black tower is an amazing epic heavy metal album brought to us by the extraordinary duo Iiro Sarkki (in vocals and drums) and Janne Posti (in vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards), who go by the name "Sons of Crom". The record is split into two sections with 4 songs each, and although it goes only slightly over 40 minutes, it is filled with memorable and extremely diverse tracks! "Steps of Doom" is a very interesting intro song which sounds like it is taken from a fantasy movie or game and sets an epic tone for an adventure. "In Fire Reborn" is another epic song with some intense vocal lines that blend seamlessly with imposing choral parts.  The riff-based "Fall of Pandemonium" (with its awesome guitar and violin melodic lines) and the melodic "Legacy" (with a great accoustic guitar background blending with some stunning and powerful vocals) finish off the first half of the album. The second part is equally epic with the Bathoresque  "Black Wings Up High", the galloping "Summoning the Starborn" which picks-up the rhythm without losing in terms of heaviness and the amazing "Viimeinen Laki", which is the only track in Finnish, but evokes an emotional response regardless of the understanding of the lyrics! "Rebirth of the Sun" is a great instrumental tune that is filled with sorrowful violin tunes and closes a very interesting and unique (for today's standards) release. And to paraphrase a black-haired bare-chested fellow "By this axe they rule"!


Below is the audio track for the song "Black Wings Up High".

Monday, 9 April 2018

#7 - Top of 2017

Sorcerer - The Crowning of the Fire King (Metal Blade Records)

Sweden has given us another epic heavy metal album with Sorcerer releasing their second full-length album "The Crowning of the Fire King". "Sirens" is an amazing melodic but at the same time heavy-riffed track that serves as the perfect opening for the record.
The "Ship of Doom" is full of melodic guitar riffs by Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren. "Abandoned By the Gods" clearly showcases the awesome vocal capabilities of the lead singer Anders Engberg, who has an epic feel reminiscent of Dio and fits the heavy doom melodies. Highlights of the album and personal favourites are "The Devil's Incubus" with an epic and pompous chorus that definitely sticks to memory and the title-song "The Crowning of the Fire King" with its layers of eerie melodies! "Nattvaka" is an excellent mellow interlude, "Crimson Cross" definitely has a Candlemass vibe and "Unbearable Sorrow" (the longest track-spanning at almost 10 minutes) with the bass feeling like a ten ton hammer landing on your face. If you haven't had enough, there are two bonus tracks "Disciples of the Dark" and "Bringer of Misery" which act as the proverbial doom cherries on top of a hell of an album!


Below is the music video for the song "Sirens" and the lyric video for "The Devil's Incubus".

Friday, 6 April 2018

#8 - Top of 2017

Kaipa - Children of the Sounds (Century Media)

Kaipa are back after the excellent release of 2014's "Sattyg" and grace us with another treatise on how to combine  music craftmanship of the highest callibre with beautiful content, dressed in the colors of spring!  Starter "Children of the Sounds" is a classic Kaipa song drawing influences from their earlier periods along with some early "Flower Kings" vibe. "On the Edge of New Horizons" is the true masterpiece of the album and where the brilliance of the band truly shines. It keeps the listener on edge through many shifts and turns accompanied by  novel vocal lines, folk elements and instrumental orgies and a dramatic ending. Here one should note that the top-notch rhythm section of the band (Jonas Reingold and Morgan Agren) that acts as the glue that keeps it all together. Like a Serpentine is a more "earthy" piece, opening slow and building its pace more steadily. "The Shadowy Sunlight" mixes folk and eerie elements impecably and uses the vocals of Aleena Gibson to build an atmosphere around the piece that is not what one might expect from Kaipa, but a transedent experience nevertheless. The closer of the (almost) 1 hour album comes with "What's Behind the Fields", that is influenced more than anything else by rock legends Uriah Heep, once more bringing their influences to their own style and creating a song that along with "On the Edge of Horizons" will surely be included in the "Best of"album when the band retires.


Below are the lyric videos for "Children of the Sounds" and "What's behind the fields"

#9 - Top of 2017

Avatarium - Hurricanes and Halos (Nuclear Blast)

When Avatarium released their debut the world was stunned by the "female version of Candlemass" that Leif Edling created. Since then, the band has evolved by leaps and bounds and the third album veers the band straight into 70s hard rock with the doom influences of the past minimised, with their current feel being closer to Krux ("III") than Candlemass. In "Hurricanes And Halos" Leif Edling takes a backseat in performing and acts more as a mentor, with credit for the album being  shared between Edling (main composer) and Marcus Jidell (guitarist and producer) .
The inaugural "Into The Fire / Into The Storm" sets the tone for the album acting as a tribute to the great Deep Purple, while being a standalone great track at the same time. The next track ("Starless Sleep"), keeps the interest up by imbuing the album with a BOC feel. The next track also keeps the 70s levels consistent with  propably the most unique track of the record ("Medusa Child") with intense Led Zeppelin vibes. "The Sky at the bottom of the Sea" continues the trend of the album with paying trubute to Uriah Heep and is probably the least memorable here, nevertheless being a solid tribute to one  of Leif Edling's favorite bands. "When breath turns to air" is an introvert song which acts as a farewell from Markus Jidell to his father and is propably the most personally charged moment of the album. In the last song, "A kiss", the band comes  full circle with a very heavy Candlemass/Sabbath riff  that is here to remind us of the band's beginnings and give a heavy farewell until we meet again.


Below you can enjoy the music video for the "Starless Sleep".

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

#10 - Top of 2017

Mausoleum Gate - Into a Dark Divinity (Cruz del Sur Music)

In number 10 for 2017, another Finnish band, Mausoleum Gate with a very unique heavy metal release "Into a Dark Divinity". This is just the second album by the band formed in 2009 but it showcases a unique approach both in musical and lyrical themes. This is achieved by the a great combination of mellow vocals by the lead singer V-P Varpula and 70's inspired guitar riffs by Count LaFey and Kasperi Puranen along with typical heavy metal rhythm section (Wicked Ischanius and Oscar Razanez). "Condemned to Darkness" definitely sets the tone and high expectations that are met throughout the album which has no low moment, although it is on the short side clocking at only 42 minutes. The short but effective "Burn the Witches at Dawn" is an interesting change of pace and serves as a nice transition to the heavier and more epic "Apophis"and "Solomon’s Key"! The groovy "Horns" and the grandiose "Into a Dark Divinity" wrap up a unique heavy metal record which sets the tone for future work by the band.


Below is the lyric video for the song "Solomon's key".

If you like what you hear, you can order the album from here and help support and upcoming melodic heavy metal band.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

# 11 - Top of 2017

BattleBeast - Bringer of Pain (Nuclear Blast)

Bringer of Pain is the fourth full-length record by the Finnish heavy metal band, BattleBeast; and the third with the powerful lead vocalist Noora Louhimo who always make the songs stand out! From the radio-friendly "Straight to the Heart" to the title-track "Bringer of Pain"(with its quick-paced chorus that is made for sing-alongs) and the catchy "King for a Day" (full of rhythmic keyboards), there is a song for every mood! There a number of highlights in the album that add different vibes including "Familiar Hell" with its awesome guitar riffs, the galloping "Bastard Son of Odin" (worthy of its title) and the power-ballad "Far from Heaven" showcasing Noora's vocals. This record is another amazing release by BattleBeast that makes for a great feel-good listen and definitely has a replay value!


Below is the video clips for the title song "Bringer of Pain" and "King For a Day" and "Familiar Hell".