Melodic Death Metal

Like Summer 2018 Music to Your Ears playlist + Music Quickies

Like usual in the summertime I have not looked out for that much new music but focused on… Just summer I guess. I dunno where it went. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been new tracks on my playlist. Not all of the chosen music is summery, in fact most isn’t. Instead of idiotic hip summer music, the playlist has plain really fucking good tracks.

Metals of summer 2018

-6122529-1411671592-2798At The Gates published their new album To Drink From The Night Itself in 2018. It’s a pretty good effort with some memorable tracks (To Drink From The Night Itself, In Nameless Sleep, The Mirror Black) but most of all it made me retry their previous album At War With Reality (2014). Somehow I had skipped it altogether and it proved to be a mistake, it’s an extremely solid melodic death metal album that only loses a bit of punch by the end. And I don’t get excited about melodic death metal easily. Circular Ruins has a grandiose last half, great chorus, lovely guitar harmonies and fierce vocals (even the Crawling Chaos from H.P. Lovecraft gets a mention), what’s not to like.


Slugdge-Esoteric-Malacology-e1519751375282Slugdge – Spectral Burrows. Esoteric Malacology is probably my favourite album of 2018 so far. Cosmic progressive death metal with a gimmicky lyric theme, that does not reflect to the overall quality of the music. How the hell a band that sings about snails makes lyrics and music this good.

 



R-10663576-1501951371-9132.jpegMagoth – Requiem Deus (Anti Terrestrial Black Metal, 2017). So, there’s these rare songs that starts with a chorus. Really untypical but you find them sometimes. Requiem Deus is one of those but on top of that, the chorus is instrumental! That’s even rarer I guess! The basis is a strong as shit tremolo melody. I bet a lot of black metal bands could have composed this tremolo but how the track is arranged brings so much more power to it.


R-12160526-1529516094-5694.jpegCraft‘s 2018 album White Noise and Black Metal does not seem to be as strong as Void (2011), but Void was ridiculously good. Cosmic Sphere Falls is right there among the best tracks of Craft’s career. Summer and black metal baby.

 

 


102919-awakeningAsunojokei – Spring of Passion (Awakening, 2018). Combining black metal, post-hardcore and Japanese anime music melodies. How can it not fail? Asunojokei’s compositions sound so logical that on paper they sound much more weird than what they actually sound!

 


homeland

My Reflection – Homeland (single, 2018) Out of the blue My Reflection published the best song of their career. Extremely symphonic melodic metal with a graceful music video that was shot in a time span of one year to portray Finnish nature and the seasons. The track celebrates the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence. Homeland should satisfy the fans of bands like Wintersun and Nightwish. The 2 minute intro already cuts the mustard and it warms my heart that the soaring female vocals are paired with strongly grunted, black metallish rasp and some good ol’ blast beating sections. I also just published a short article about the track: https://likemusictoyourears.com/2018/08/10/my-reflection-homeland-epic-symphonic-melodic-metal/


leprousLeprous – Stuck (Malina, 2017). Leprous gig in Tuska was among the best of the festival. The band looks like school boys and at best sounds like jazz musicians doing their impression of catchy progressive metal. The weird drumming style and lots of rhythmic hooks have drawn me quite in to their style. The last 1.5 minutes of rhythmics on Stuck are such a bliss.

 


doomedDoomed – Our Gifts (6 Anti-Odes to Life, 2018). Death/doom. Strong album that might lack a bit of high-points but the overall quality makes up for it. Especially The Doors and Our Gifts are high class atmospheric death-doom tracks. Strangely the tacit and slow instrumental Layers (Ode To Life) has been playing in my head after waking up, I guess it’s beautiful enough. As a satisfyingly logical detail, it is also the 7th track of the record!

 


Meshuggah_-_The_Violent_Sleep_of_Reason

Meshuggah – By The Ton (Violent Sleep of Reason, 2016). Another high point of Tuska 2018. The rhythmic majesty combined with the supreme light-show at times induced a catharsis. For example the title track of the record had a super satisfying effect of white lights going down on rhythm and speed with huge downward slides of one of the central riffs (first appearing at 0:34). By focusing on the lights they brought a completely new visual rhythm element to the show. By The Ton is still my favourite track of the record.


Electronics of summer 2018

a0487580087_10Slipdrive – Nova Byzantium a Thousand Spires of Light (River of Heaven OST, 2014). A complete random find from a soundtrack of a pen an paper roleplaying game I’ve never played and probably never will. The soundtrack is lovely sci-fi-game music-chillout-electro. Nova Byzantium and The Coming Renunciation seem to launch the listener straight into space.

 


42084Vector Lovers – Monologue (iPhonica, 2013). Music that sounds like you were on drugs. Sounds that seem to come from an other dimension in surprising relaxing symmetry. Such weird sensations and damn if I like it!

 

 


glanko orvotGlanko – Orvot (single, 2018). Glanko’s progressive sci-fi IDM or what the heck it is always activates my synapses. Chillout electronic track with really strong astral spacey vibes. Ideal for watching a spacestation move slowly with a small beam drive, multicoloured star rings and nebulas shining around it.

 


Finnish music of summer 2018 (sad list)

R-12137234-1529049213-7911.jpegPaperi T – Muutos (Kaikki on hyvin, 2018). My mainstream sin. The flow and sound of Paperi-T’s vocals and the cunning punning lyrics are a joy to listen. Even though his darker compositions and lyrics seem to be in the past, when Paperi-T is at his darkest that’s when I enjoy him the most. One of those lyricists that makes you want to google what the hell he is singing about but can also surprise with straight-forward lines and stories. New album is quite uneven but has a really good starting trinity.

Aether Realm – Tarot

a4166387068_10-500x500After getting goosebumpy by the original sounding intro of the starting track of Tarot (2017), The Fool, the multitude of Finnish metal influences really caught me off guard! A lot of melodeath, Wintersun’s epic song-writing, combining clean, heroic and very Jari Mäenpää-style raspy vocals. Power metal elements and blastbeating with bright melodic backline are straight out of Wintersun’s repertoire too. Insomnium style very melancholic guitar melodylines pop up ever so often. There’s a huge folk metal backbone that could, logically after two such clear influences, be based on Ensiferum, but just as well to some other influental 2000s folk metal band. Then! All the sudden The Emperor is a pure Kalmah track! Have these guys from North Carolina listened to anything else except Finnish metal!?

And why would the Finnish metal influences be negative?

Lo! They are using these influences with a lot of class, Tarot is a really really solid album. The four above mentioned Finnish bands are huge influence on my metal background so it’s no wonder that I’m keen on placing them on Tarot. Upon further listens it is clear that Tarot is not a copycat but an original album and a great mesh. And fair enough, there’s technical death metal riffing, power metal (Tarot), flashy pure rock solo (The Tower), black metal intro and a flamenco break (The Devil), midi intro (The Sun, the Moon, the Star), melancholic acoustic material (Temperance)… I cannot place the backbone of the album anywhere else than on good old Finnish melodic death metal but it does not make the album any lesser.

On actual negatives and melodies

How many times have I stressed that an album that clocks 73 minutes is TOO … FUCKING … LONG. Sure enough, Strength is a filler track and The Chariot not much of my liking. Notable weaknesses are the very cheesy and unoriginal folk metal melodies in Strength‘s verse and chorus and The Chariot‘s chorus. The American groove metal vibe and attitude lyrics of The Chariot are not to my personal preferences either. However Strength does have a pre-verse that does some good old goosebumps and The Chariot a c-part that grooves like a moose. This package would be tighter without them even though these tracks are ok and especially The Chariot may interest a lot of fans. Better to have more material than too little i guess.

Mostly Aether Realm use their melodic patterns, if not originally, but well enough for me to enjoy them. It is not a melodic symphonic extravaganza like the fellow US band Wilderun, through which I found them. Aether Realm’s melodies are often folk but stellar enough to not slip into joyful major keys. The melodies have been used with good harmony. Symphonic sections and melancholic melodies, keep the folkish melodies fresh. An occasional less melodic riff-storm like The Devil is a very welcome addition.

I am very picky about folk metal melodies, I got tired of Ensiferum’sand Korpiklaani’s hip folk metal in about 2004.

Few more notable tracks…

Tarot does have major charm. Especially The Fool, hard-hitting and rhythmic Death (Only For The Weak in the beginning riff, anyone?) and the 19 minute opus, The Sun, the Moon, the Star which has some serious epicness going on. The Sun, the Moon, the Star is really hard to dissect into bits but it flows smoothly as hell from choir hits to electronic sounds, symphonic melodeath riffing with folk cleans to power metal riffing followed by straight to your face melodic guitar frenzy and black metallish blastbeating. Then a piano interlude! And this was just a 3 minute part in the middle of it!

Even the drinking song King of Cups does not fall into an unoriginal drinking song pothole but is genuinely a good track with mean vocal delivery, some killer fucking guitar work and lovely weird ass solo.

8½/10

Best music just now – Music quickies

Best music just now, Aether Realm (melodic death metal), Iglooghost (some crazy wonky electronic artist), Carpenter Brut (synthwave/retrowave), Radien (sludge metal) & Saimaa (Finnish progressive poprock for sportsmen).

Æther Realm – Tarot (2017)

a4166387068_10-500x500My face when I was listening to a random rather praised American metal band that turns out sounding a lot like a mixture of Wintersun, Insomnium, Ensiferum and Kalmah. And they do this Finnish melodeath thing supremely fucking well. Every other year I lose my hope on ever finding really good melodeath anymore, then I am proven wrong…

The Fool is probably their most original and best track, but by no means the only great track in the album. Full review of the album has also been released in Like Music To Your Ears.


Iglooghost – Neō Wax Bloom (2017)

669158533299_T35318255470054If you don’t like bright complex electronic music, you might still dig this crazy Irish guy. Must be a love it or hate it artist. As a very raw definition one could say Iglooghost combines IDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep and bright and fucked up vocal sounds. It has also been called a maximalist album which fits really well as there’s a shit ton of stuff happening.

Once more I didn’t know music like this could exist and be so goddamn logical and mind-boggling at the same time.

I am almost ashmed on how much I dig Neo Wax Bloom, the album does not wear out with tens of listens. Bug Thief is the best electronic track of 2017, hands down. The background story is also worth a mention: “It’s a story about a void named “Mamu” and its destruction by two falling eyeballs. “… OK OK.


Radien – Maa (2016)

Radien-maaFinnish sludgepulverizing. Very hypnotic, mostly based on gigantic riffs, but Radien also flourishes in good spareful use of melodies. Even if you don’t speak Finnish, this is a supreme release. Also free to download from bandcamp!

 

 


Carpenter Brut – Leather Teeth (2018)

R-11608612-1519344046-6788.jpegI am not as taken aback with Leather Teeth, as I’d like to. I expected it to be a full time heavy as shit electronic retrowave joyblast like Trilogy but… It is good but the ridiculously strong melodic themes are not as apparent as on Trilogy. On some tracks like the title track everything sticks together like it should. Bringing in two great vocalists in Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg and Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures Mat McNerney also helps the case.


Saimaa – Urheilu-Suomi (2018)

R-11561131-1518526844-2996.jpeg

Finnish progressive poprock with full-on sports theme. A lot of 70s/80s resembling instrumental material infused with nostalgic clips from the past, and spoken word sections that somehow remind of electronic occult band Tähtiportti. The totality sums as a really competitive album. It is really not just a classic rock album, but nearly a big-band album too. There’s an array of wind and bowed string instruments and synths. I don’t think a mixture like this has ever been made.

There’s a lot of humour like the over of the top hero story Kuningas (footballer Jari Litmanen). 99 % of the album is really far from normal depressive Aki Kaurismäki like Finnish music tones. Yet out of the blue Saimaa crafts a supremely touching track in Suo Porkka ja Suksi. It tells the tragic story of cross-country skier Mika Myllylä like a Kalevala poem. If you want just instrumental goodness, I recommend the crazy bass leads of Pikataipale.

Even the first part of the double album is too long (77 minutes), hence I made a better 41 minute version of it to a Spotify playlist under this paragraph. You are welcome Saimaa, next time maybe hire me ;)?


Bandcamps:

https://aether-realm.bandcamp.com/album/tarot-2
https://iglooghost.bandcamp.com/album/ne-wax-bloom
https://carpenterbrut.bandcamp.com/album/leather-teeth
https://radien.bandcamp.com/album/maa

Wintersun – The Forest Seasons

Wintersun - The Forest Seasons Cover mp3Wintersun’s The Forest Seasons might be the album that has split most opinions in 2017. Their Indiegogo campaign raised 464 330 euros (!) to be spent on their new headquarters that’d allow them to reach their “true vision” in future releases. As the frontman/main composer Jari Mäenpää stated, expensive limited studio time is not ideal for the massive compositions he wants to make.

The Forest Seasons represents a rawer sound that they can reach without the top notch equipment that is planned for the eternally overdue Time II. In fact, The Forest Seasons is almost completely a bedroom recording. All instruments are recorded by Jari Mäenpää.

The only reward level of the campaign was 50 euros and the reward: The Forest Package. It includes a new album, master files + bonus track, isolated tracks of the new album, live album from Tuska 2013, First album remaster 2.0, Time I remaster 1.5, Time I master files + isolated tracks, booklets, wallpapers, photos & instrumentals.

Some have praised the album, some accused Jari Mäenpää of being a conman before even getting the rewards. The truth is still out there, but following the whole campaign from the start till the end; I appreciated the honesty that they portrayed in a making of documentary. It was a good long watch in itself (1h 25min), and obviously free in Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MscAKtZt80I.

The Forest Seasons currently stands at 56 % in Metal-archives (19 reviews). I would say this is not based on just the music.

Wintersun’s first record (2004) has a special place in my heart though it has not lasted time (no pun intended) as well as some of the melodeath albums of its … Wait for it … Time… I did not think the second album Time I (2012) was much more than alright, 7-8/10. A lot of people are accusing The Forest Seasons of having bad sounds which is so puzzling considering Time I symphonics are at worst near frigging Casio quality. At times they are great, but the base level is not what I was expecting. I can totally understand Jari wanting to have more a bombastic sound in the future.

What bothers me about The Forest Seasons

I already thanked Wintersun about their honesty BUT one has to acknowledge that they did manage to kind of conceal the fact that drums are actually programmed. They are not played by the drummer of the band Kai Hahto. Obviously they never stated anything other. The drums are luckily very well programmed. The drum sound does not bother me at all, just the fact that they weren’t openly expressing that Kai Hahto is not going to play the drums. He is a drummer a lot of people rave about after all and made a lot of appearances in the documentary. Including appearing in the booklet as a band member.

I personally feel some cheese in the lyrics could have been avoided. At times the folk/viking metal aesthetics sound out of place on an album that is strongly based on the elements and seasons. Wintersun’s phrase book of cliche fantasy literature elements could have been set a bit farther away. Clear cut example of this is the last 7 minutes of power metal and viking choirs in Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring). I enjoy the end nevertheless, it just could have been less of a cheesefest. As an undermining factor, I rarely enjoy power metal. On the other hand I find the sing-along choirs of The Forest That Weeps (Summer) totally irresistible.

On with the good stuff

In short, The Forest Seasons is a damn good album, which is all that should matter. First three tracks are packed with memorable melodies, good song-writing and fine sounding symphonics. I really like bombastic elements, so for me the symphonics are a bit too much on the background. The guitar sound could have also been more powerful at times, but it’s a minor concern except in the last track. There’s a fine amount of details and stuff happening but also a great sense of progression present. For example how the Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring) meanders to small climax on 4.30. Slows down and finally gets to the chorus at about 7 minute mark.

The Forest That Weeps (Summer) has a similar meandering progression, the chorus comes early but it’s still not as climactic as later in the track. Some details like “I saw the lakes that shimmer” with echoing/airy keyboard melodies create images powerfully. It’s actually stunning how the track turns melancholic in the end. It brilliantly portrays a familiar August melancholy when the summer is almost at an end. This might be the best track of 2017 & Wintersun discography.

The 3rd track Eternal Darkness (Autumn) surprises with straight to your face fierce black metallish tempo. I didn’t expect Jari, a composer known for his power metal antics, to pull off black metal so well. Also, a fitting last.fm comment about the god tier solo at about 8.20:
wintersunsolo

Not all of it is of my liking

Wintersun succeeded in black metal atmosphere but the last track Loneliness (Winter) does not succeed as a doom track as well. The atmosphere is mostly there but the track fails to resound my nerves. First explanation could be the main riff that is quite buried, and not that special. Heavy guitars are quite instrumental in creating, umm, heavy atmosphere. Now the guitars are just a backing track there. I listen to a lot of melancholic doom metal and I just don’t get the feels from Loneliness (Winter).

The 8 minute acoustic version that’s a bonus track in The Forest Package is a bit more compact and a better version too. The c-part before the final chorus with its emotional guitar leads and vocal harmonies nearly gives me chills. That’s a lot more than what the distorted version does. The acoustic guitar sound is a bit steely, I’ve heard better and more natural sounds, it is not a huge concern nevertheless.

Short sum up

Even with skipping the last track, which seems to have its fans, the album still has 41 minutes of material that I’d classify great. Can’t complain too much.

8+/10

10 Wintersun Forest Spirits Wallpaper

Causemos – Infinite Event

How about a music quiz folks? Which band am I talking about:

The October of 2012 finally saw the comeback release of this Finnish epic melodic metal band. Their last release was dated at 2006, after setbacks and various other trouble they finally managed to get their new release out. And boy was it a blast. 

No I’m not talking about Wintersun, the band in question is Causemos. A melodic death metal band with plenty of bombastic a cosmic vibe. After waiting over half-decade for Wintersun to fill my melodic metal needs it was Causemos with their EP Infinite Event who did it, leaving the untimely epic of Wintersun drifting in space.

Infinite Event sees Causemos abandoning the Bal-Sagothisms that were visible on their early material and finding an own symphonic and technical sound. One the most surprising releases of 2012 packing fresh aggression, epic tunes, crunchy riffs and surprising technical mastery in a compact EP.

After the jaw-dropper beginning of Unrealized Reality 1|2, Infinite Event gallops on satisfyingly but lacks the utmost hookedelia and melodic-ecstasy that would take it to real masterclass. Until the fifth track Invariable blasts a top-notch melody and a memorable riff and keeps the intensity on the whole track. Fantastic. The catchiness of Herald and the wonderfully feisty and humorous Käteen escort the EP to a fine end. 24 minute length serves Infinite Event extremely well, very often I find myself tuning it right back in listening it twice in a row.

8½/10

Free download (pay what you want): http://causemos.bandcamp.com/

Ei oo leipääkään – Ei oo paskaakaan!

Synestesia – Nereus // NMMREM XVI

Synestesia is a Finnish melodic death metal band that was formed in 2001 and has been a long time coming but failed to break in to the surface. The predecessor of Nereus, Feenix was very well acclaimed critically, but it seems the band still stayed under. Alike Feenix, Nereus is a self-published free download album (that was also released in a small batch of cds). Immediately after tuning in, Nereus captivates with the amount of professionality. It is apparent that the band really know what they doing and have created an impressive and professional sounds for the record.

The first track Alku begins with a foghorn humming and the sounds of seagulls. Atmospheric ambient, then a piano melody. A great clicheic intro track with a notable melody. But just right. The next track Juurelle majakan did take multiple listens to open up. On first it passed me by nearly completely. Later it elevated as among my favourite tracks of the album. A very catchy chorus with a wonderfully epic background choir, melodic riff. I could imagine hearing this from the radio? Vocals are extremely raspy and the first glimpse of the rather wide growling range the vocalist has. I really dig that the lyrics can usually be imposed from the vocals without the need of reading them.

The next track Valo is a solid track with nice melodic riffing and raspy vocal goodness, but is a step down from Juurelle Majakan. It starts a quick downfall that continues with the title track Nereus and peaks in the 5th track “Murha?”. Murha? is probably the most experimental track of the record with a chugging riff and spoken vocals posing as an official announcement. The structure is interesting, but not captivating; the lyrics also bother me as they are not too interesting and quite clumsy.

The next track 274 askelmaa covers the downfall well. The lyrics are obscure as hell, I do not know what are these 274 steps and how they relate to anything but the song has a big emotion and atmosphere going on. Death/doom composition with an emotional quality and progressive touches makes this a clear highlight along with Juurelle Majakan. Also I do not know how Synestesia manages to pull it off but the emotional death/doom track finishes up with a memorable 70s progressive rock keyboard jam!

The album finds another low point with Hiljaisuus, which might actually work better for a listener not native Finnish as the lyrics are clicheic as fuck. The composition really has potential but repeating “niin kaunis on hiljaisuus” on and on again just takes the mat under this song.

Rest of the album isn’t that memorable in a good way or bad but solid 7/10 death metal with its minor peaks and low-points. Peaks include for example the raspy vocal performance of the vocalist, groovy riff of Kone pysähtyy and the end of Kuolleiden Kulkue which has another doom/death riff topped by piano and finally epic female vocals. It serves as a great outro for the album. It also brings in the question, what if Synestesia really made just Doom influenced metal in this style that they so well incorporate in small sections?

I believe the record may actually work better if you don’t get the lyrics as for me they aren’t that special and that is the biggest problem of the album. When listening in your native language; lyrics usually have to impress, but in Nereus they are rather obscure. It is supposed to be a concept album but even with reading the lyrics once, checking their internet site with some great thematic art (http://nereusprojekti.net/), and trying to think of the concept, it remains obscure. Maybe Valo and Nereus are some sort of propaganda tracks of the Nereus nation? Meaning the emotions are clicheic on purpose?

As a whole Nereus fails to captivate this picky listener, who nowadays mostly finds melodic death metal rather bland. There is no questioning however that Nereus has lots of diverse elements and originality and it does keep the listener entertained, especially on first listens.

For a listener who is really into melodic death metal or for the “Finnish Sakara-generation” this album can be a very good experience, but I doubt Synestesia reaches the front-line of Finnish metal bands with this effort. It is melodic, raspy, heavy, diverse but in total hard to grasp and lacking much of the high points. But it is a good try, keeping this quality Synestesia would surely had continued to grow and slowly find bigger audiences. Unfortunately in the December 2012 the band announced its breakup. It is a shame as this sort of hard-hitting metal would surely strike home way better in a smoky club after a few beers.

7+/10

Download the album for free: http://nereusprojekti.net/

Night In Gales – Necrodynamicg

In 2001 when Necrodynamic was released, Modern Melodeath was on a really big ascension with names like Soilwork and In Flames leading the pack. Night In Gales previous effort Nailwork was released in 2000 and while being a bit of an oddity, still had most of that 2000s’ melodeath touch.

Criminally underrated stands Night In Gales Necrodynamic. It is often referred with a shrug as the weakest effort of a mediocre melodeath band. While it may be true that Night In Gales never were better than a mediocre melodeath band, they did succeed in composing memorable songs and good album entities. In Necrodynamic Night In Gales is probably as far from melodeath as they’ve ever been. Ironically lyrically they are almost only about death. The songs usually encompass a sort of thrash metal-edged drive with nicely raw and muddy sounds; far away from the typical “modern melodeath sound”, but still melodic and heavy.

The most unusual thing about Night in Gales has always been the compound words in their lyrics. In earlier albums their guitar work was at times also very odd and while not always perfect, still original. Like guitar work the lyrics turned less experimental with time, but still have a pinch of old. How about:

Down for more of those nothings
Neonecrononsense and unlight
Saw a skeleton eatin’ its gravestone
But I keep these words inside

The songs have plenty of groove and while the lyrics aren’t filled with oddcompoundworks anymore; they are still pretty fun.

I really got into Necrodynamic nearly 10 years ago and the song trinity Deathmouth Daisies, Song Of Something and Right From The Morgue is still as fun and rocking as they used to be. There are a lot of albums which I then thought as masterpieces but find hardship in appreciating now. Necrodynamic is still fresh. An album which I’ve always enjoyed and never mixed it up as being a masterpiece.

It is the sort of album you may have heard about; but didn’t know how good it is. Hell, rest of Night in Gales albums were re-released in 2008, but not Necrodynamic. While it may be because of copyright reasons, it still does criminal injustice to the album. I think it was just the wrong time for a modern melodeath band to release an album which was not modern at all.

83/100