Recently in Black/Death metal Category

Opeth: Watershed

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Opeth: WatershedRoadrunner

Track list: Coil - Heir Apparent - The Lotus Eater - Burden - Porcelain Heart - Hessian Peel - Hex Omega - Derelict Herds - Bridge of Sighs - Den Standiga Resan

Opeth presents us another great album. Guitarist Peter Lindgren has been replaced by Fredrik Åkesson, but frankly, if I hadn't read that from another review, I wouldn't have noticed anything. The change has been seamless, one could say.

Not much has changed: what was good remains good. What is different is the level of 70's progressive elements. There's certainly more of that. However, worry not: Opeth is still a progressive metal band, and the death metal elements are there as well. It's just the balance has been bumped a bit towards the progressive side.

The result is impressive. There are several very good tracks, with many that will surely join the lists of favourites for many Opeth fans. *****

Moonsorrow: Tulimyrsky EP

CD, Spikefarm Records

Track list: Tulimyrsky - For Whom The Bell Tolls - Taistelu Pohjolasta - Hvergelmir - Back To North

You can trust Moonsorrow to be epic! Their idea of a mini-cd is 68 minutes long. The title track lasts for whopping 29 minutes and it kicks ass the whole time. It's a story, narrated by a Finnish actor Turkka Mastomäki, and consists of several parts that vary from mellow and atmospheric to very fierce beating - as you can expect from Moonsorrow.

I really like what Moonsorrow has done with their last few albums and this MCD is no exception. The title track is excellent, furious stuff with excellent production: not too clean, not too rough. The cover songs - For Whom the Bell Tolls from Metallica, Back to North from Merciless - are well done, as are the older, previously unreleased demo-era songs. Great stuff. ****

Azaghal: Luciferin valo

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Azaghal: Luciferin valoCD, Avantgarde Music 2006

Track list: Black Terror Metal - Ilmestyskirjan ratsastajat - Tuhoaja - Kuin lampaat teuraalle - Verta ja tuhkaa - Teen paholaisen työtä - Azaghal Terror Cult - Hyvästit maailmalle - Olematon - Luciferin Valo

Azaghal's black metal is simple and straight-forward. I like it; there are few surprisingly catchy tracks. The only negative is the heavily cliche-laden lyrics, but once you get over that (and enjoy the few exceptionally funny lines), it's all good. Nothing special, perhaps, but it's a good, steady ride. Few of the tracks stand out and will definitely remain on my playlist. ****

Luna Ad Noctum: The Perfect Evil in MortalCD, Metal Mind Records 2006

Track list: Phantoms ov Wrath (Intro) - The Perfect Evil in Mortal - Diablex Virus - Devilrising Impact - Humana Androide - Deviante Obscurante - Deceptive Fatality - Dimness in Me - Loneliness Ruined My Life

Polish Luna Ad Noctum plays fairly aggressive black metal in the style of Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child and Cradle of Filth. While their style isn't the most unique, it's still fresh enough so that I wouldn't necessarily label them as another clone band. There's some good energy here. However, the tracks are pretty bland, mostly - not enough hooks. Still; if you're fan of Dimmu Borgir, check this out. ***

Ansur: Axiom

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Ansur: AxiomCD, Candlelight Records 2006

Track list: Earth Erasure - Post-Apocalyptic Wastelands - Interloper - Desert Messiah - Sowers of Discord - The Axiom Depicted

Axiom is a curious batch of extreme metal with all sorts of tricks involved. The roots are in black metal, but the tree branches out to progressive metal and whatnot. It takes few rounds to get your head around it all, but I've enjoyed it since. I wouldn't mind if they improved the vocals, though; now the distorted vocals are sparse and feel a bit pasted-on. Proper, well-sung vocals would've made a huge difference here. ****

Slechtvalk: At the Dawn of WarCD, Fear Dark Records 2005

Track list: From Out of the Mist We Came Forth - Call to Arms - Mortal Serenity - On the Eve of Battle - Besieged - The Spoils of Treason - Thunder of War - Black Raven Death - Desertion - Under a Moonlit Sky

Slechtvalk is a black/dark metal band; musically, it's black metal alright, but the lyrical concepts lean to epic power metal with all the glory of the medieval warfare. The whole blast works pretty well - there are real musical highlights, like Besieged. The clean vocals are a bit clumsy and the song-writing isn't top-notch throughout the album, but still: a decent album. ****

I Shalt Become: Wanderings

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I Shalt Become: WanderingsCD, Moribund Records 2006

Track list: Intro - Fragments - The Funeral Rain - Winter Lights - Pantings in a Gallery - Labyrinthine - Thorns - Insects - Her Demons - A Once Great Man - Outro - En ring til aa herske (Burzum) - The Heavens Drop with Human Gore (Judas Iscariot) - I Filled with Woes the Passing Wind (Judas Iscariot)

Here we have a cult classic of sorts. The album has been lying in the Moribund archives for ten years, but now it has seen the day of light again. I Shalt Become is a follower of Burzum; the style is the same, dismal and depressive hypnotic monotony. It's executed well enough to lift I Shalt Become from being just another copycat. Despite thelack of sound quality and the rough edges of some of the tracks, Wanderings is a fine album for the fans of suicidally depressive black metal, and now there's even three appropriate covers as bonus tracks. ****

Fear of Eternity: Ancient SymbolismCD, Moribund Records 2006

Track list: Intro (Passing) - Fragments of Wisdom - Tale of Prophecy - Throne of the Gods - Malignant Spirits - Ancient Symbolism - Descension Human Weakness - Golden Columns - The End of Times - Outro (Irae)

Fear of Eternity is an Italian one-man band focused on creating gloomy atmosphere. While the music has a background in black metal, the guitars are toned low and the horror-film synths and organs take the spotlight. The vocals are a disgusting (in a good sense) growl, which is a direct nod to black metal. The atmosphere is indeed dark, but otherwise this is not my cup of tea and I'm quite sure I'm in majority here. Check this out if you know you'll like it. **

Taketh: Freakshow

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Taketh: FreakshowCD, Fear Dark Records 2006

Track list: Welcome - Evil - Ignore - Not Quite Right - Consequence (of abusing human weakness) - Silence - Freakshow - Paths and Crossroads - Högmod - Your Master - Mind Numbing Crap - Past the Horizon - Bring Me Water - A New Day

Swedish Taketh plays technical death metal with thrashy and even some small black metal influences. I like the way they've kept their songs short, around three minute mark, but there are few too many. More variety would've been necessary. I think they could also use a better vocalist. Now the result is fairly mediocre, to be honest, but at their best, Taketh really shines. ***

Cradle of Filth: Bitter Suites to SuccubiCD, Abracadaver 2001

Track list: Sin Deep My Wicked Angel - All Hope In Eclipse - Born In A Burial Gown - Summer Dying Fast - No Time To Cry - The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh - Suicide And Other Comforts - Dinner At Deviant's Palace - The Black Goddess Rises II - Scorched Earth Erotica

Cradle of Filth has put together a mixed bag of stuff. Couple of instrumental pieces, some new tracks, a cover, some remade older tracks... Most of the stuff have one thing in common and that's their mediocrity. Cradle of Filth has made better stuff, and even the decent tracks, like The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, sounded better the first time they were released. The only glimpse of light on the album is the excellent Sisters of Mercy cover No Time to Cry. The rest of it can be forgotten. **

Nachtmystium: Demise

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Nachtmystium: DemiseCD, Autopsy Kitchen Records 2004

Track list: Intro - Solitary Voyage - Scorpio Incarnate - Ashes to Ashes - The Glorious Moment - Rise and Fall - Transmission Postmortem

I'm quite unfamiliar with the US black metal scene, but apparently there's life in the underground. Demise is, at least, a solid proof of that. Armed with a cold, bleak style reminiscent of Burzum's coldness, Nachtmystium paints some pretty convincing soundscapes. The album sounds simply dismal. It's not pure gold, though - the album-ending ambient noise piece Transmission Postmorten is uninspiring filler stuff. I'd prefer proper music. ****

Mystic Circle: The Bloody Path of GodCD, Dockyard 1 2006

Track list: Psalm of the End - The Bloody Path of God - Doomsday Prophecy - Nine Plagues of Egypt - The Grim Reaper - Riders of the Apocalypse - Hellborn - Church of Sacrifice - The Forgotten - Unholy Terror - Memento Mori - Circle of the Tyrants

What's up with metal bands and religion? If they really hate religion so much, why the love affair with the religious imagery? The Bloody Path of God, for example, is a very religious album, with just about every song drawing inspiration from god and church. How boring is that? The music's not superb, either. Mystic Circle has moved from black metal to death metal, practically removing most black metal influences from their music (the song Unholy Terror is an exception). The result is, frankly, fairly boring. **

Goathemy: Frostland

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Goathemy: FrostlandCD, Rebellion Brothers Records 2006

Track list: New Era of Disgust - Cursing the Venomous Waters - My Demons - Sweet Purgatory - Rebellion Morningstar - Frostland - Opus Funerale - Hands of Immorality - Cold Sky Promise

Goathemy is Finnish black metal band. Their personal touch is the heavy use of a female vocalist. She's definitely the brightest thing about Frostland, as the album is fairly mediocre otherwise. Technically it's alright, but the songs just lack the final shine that would make any of them really stand out. **

Dark Fortress: Séance

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Dark Fortress: SéanceCD, Century Media 2006

Track list: Ghastly Indoctrination - CataWomb - Requiem Grotesque - While They Sleep - To Harvest the Artefacts of Mockery - Poltergeist - REvolution:Vanity - Incide - Shardfigures - Insomnia

This German group mixes paranormal themes, black metal and slow doom influences to create an interesting and surprisingly fresh mixture of metal. The best track on the album is While They Sleep, which is spiced with very clever string arrangements. Even though there are low points, the end result is fresh, interesting and atmospheric. ****

Catacombs: In the Depths of R'lyehCD, Moribund Records 2006

Track list: In the Depths of R'lyeh - Dead Dripping City - At the Edge of the Abyss - Where No Light Hath Shone - Fallen into Shadow - Awakening of the World's Doom

Xathagorra Mlandroth is the man behind this new extreme doom metal band. Extreme is indeed a good word for this album, since I reckon most people - even those who enjoy metal in general - will probably find In the Depths of R'lyeh unlistenable. Long songs featuring slow, crawling beats, wailing guitars and an ominous low grumble for vocals aren't for everybody. Those who fancy that sort of thing will enjoy In the Depths of R'lyeh immensely; for others, this has nothing to offer. ****

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