ALBUM REVIEW: Unleash The Archers – Phantoma


Unleash the Archers is a band that reliably produces songs that are unconventional and wildly exciting. This Canadian Power Metal act has broken barriers in the genre by their dauntless divergences, hearty songwriting, and overall efficacious passion. The quintet is preparing to release their sixth full-length album, Phantoma (Napalm Records), which elevates their innovative skills and strengths to new heights.

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Monolith Deathcult – The Demon Who Makes Trophies Of Men


Avant-Garde Death Metal mentallers with serious swagger and a slew of crazed ideas, Netherlands-based wild bunch The Monolith Deathcult are back.

The Demon Who Makes Trophies Of Men (Human Detonator Records) is an imaginative, irreverent slice of noise that screams “Attack! Attack! Attack!” for much of its grim, punishing but seriously rewarding running time.Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Sonata Arctica – Clear Cold Beyond


Finland is reported to be one of the happiest countries in the world. Even though it can produce some fantastically grim Metal acts, this Nordic nation has some jubilant bands as well. Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Myrath – Karma


The Myrath sound is an exciting, intoxicating and entertaining one. On Karma (earMUSIC), there’s a dark side to some of the lyrical content (“Wrath of a raging sea …” Demons, oblivion, etc), leaning towards the heavy and the epic, but the overall impression is relatively light, hooky and generally uplifting. Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Therion – Leviathan III


Symphonic Metal master Christofer Johnsson assembles and commands the latest Therion line-up for Leviathan III (Napalm Records), another epic, bombastic concept album that will have fans of this kind of thing rocking in the aisles, or whatever it is opera fans tend to do in similar circumstances (frocking in the aisles?!).

Non-aficionados will admire the abundant technical excellence but might find themselves worn down by the too sweet, lightweight method and approach, the continuous faux-classical bombardment and the sometimes awkward melding of scatter-gun references and influences (not least in the lyrics).

The strategic mix of the metal and the classic, throughout history, can often be problematic, even jarring. But the long-running Therion, following up directly here on Leviathan I and II (2021 and 2022, respectively), succeed in a more-or-less comfortable marriage of the bright fairytale lights and the darker doom, the beauty and the beast.

Much of the musical glue that holds it all together comes from Johnsson’s keyboards, but it’s the guitars (Christian Vidal) and the main man’s ambition in composition that really shine through.

Vocals range from Viking-style war chants to soaring female operatics (Lori Lewis), with geetar sounds veering from acoustic filigrees (“Ruler Of Tamag”) to electric chugalongs, melodic lead breaks and energetic riff riots (see “An Unsung Lament” and “Ayahuasca”, for example).

There’s also pop among the pomp, singalong and chantalong bits with strong hooks as Swede Johnsson sprinkles in echoes of the spectacularly successful, smooth and satisfying Abba-metal of countrymen Ghost as well as more straight-ahead power metal and melodic prog.

But despite moments of genuine doom and some death growling, Leviathan III can, at times, be too mild and mellow, saccharine and schmaltzy, tunes fit for backing Disney animation rather than proper Wagnerian guts, glory and apocalyptic passion (the images in my head of Elmer Fudd squalling “Kill the wabbit!” in Chuck Jones’ Warner cartoon classic What’s Opera Doc? are surely not what Johnsson had in mind).

The accompanying lyrics are something of a classical, mythological and religious ragbag, referring to generic chaos, the abyss, Babylon, “children of both wrath and all revenge of the deep”, not to mention brother killing brother, Latin warblings, Bacchus, Freja, Thor and Odin, spiritual revelations and a “nightingale in the shadow of your mind”. Profound or what?

The vocals (Thomas Vikström is the lead male singer) that open “Maleficium” recall System Of A Down – echoes of the superior voice of Serj Tankian are cast up several times throughout the album – before mellowing out like most of the rest of the material. “Maleficium”, though, is still one of the album’s signature highlights, along with the aforementioned “Ayahuasca” (the longest track at almost eight minutes).

“What Was Lost Shall Be Lost No More” achieves a certain intensity that several of the other songs lack, while “Duende” opens acoustically and atmospherically, the flamenco-style intro a welcome diversion. Then the operatic, neo-classical assault takes over once again.

Climactic Norse-fest “Twilight Of The Gods” opens with a Tony Iommi-esque droning riff, promising much, but then delivers more of the same formula and a martial, marching beat leads the way to the drum-driven finale (Sami Karppinen on the skins).

Performed live, with full orchestra and choir, Leviathan III might be a different and more impressive beast, but that remains to be seen, and heard.

The old Symphonic Metal lark obviously takes some courage, such are the potential pitfalls, not to mention logistical demands, and Johnsson is to be congratulated again for significantly adding to Therion’s already 35-year legacy. If his reach exceeds his grasp, on this evidence, it’s certainly not for want of trying.

Buy the album here:

https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/therion

7 / 10
CALLUM REID


ALBUM REVIEW: Hinayana – Shatter and Fall


 

From the great state of Texas emerges one of the most interesting and promising new Melodic Death Metal acts in the U.S. Hinayana has received high praise for their latest EP which is claimed to be unique and visionary. Now this southern quintet is getting ready to release their sophomore album, Shatter and Fall (Napalm Records) and everyone is curious to see if this budding band continues to blossom. Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Ghosts of Atlantis – Riddles of the Sycophants


 

Suffolk symphonic death metal masters Ghosts of Atlantis follow up their 2021 full-length debut with another journey to the faraway lands of myths and legend. A continuation of the events told on 3.6.2.4., Riddles of the Sycophants (Hammerheart Records) finds the remaining Atlanteans having washed ashore, word soon spreading about their survival and apparent favour from the gods. Creating unrest, these stories cause the seal on Pandora’s Box to be removed, the greed and desire of mankind once again forcing the Ghosts of Atlantis to intervene.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Serenity – Nemesis AD


Drawing inspiration from the life and work of German Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer, Austrian symphonic metal virtuosos Serenity return with eighth full-length studio release, Nemesis AD (Napalm Records).


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ALBUM REVIEW: Within Temptation – Bleed Out


 

More so than many records, the eighth full length studio release from symphonic metal act Within Temptation serves as a perfect snapshot of current times. A combination of the ongoing recovery process from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the way that modern presentations of popular music consistently change and mutate, by the time Bleed Out (Force Music Recordings) finds its way into your grubby little paws, seven of its eleven songs will already have been released into the world of Spotify and YouTube.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Ghosts of Atlantis – Existentialist – Draugrheim Live at Colchester Arts Centre


 

No review from the Colchester Arts Centre would be complete without hailing the best small venue in the UK. Able to host 400 when packed to the architraves, its post-COVID refurb has cleaned up and modernised where needed (toilets, bars), whilst maintaining the features and character that every converted church that is now a gig-hosting venue should. Added to that, great views and a powerful sound-system, and the stage is quite literally set for a much more adventurous and welcome Tuesday night than you might normally get in the Britain’s oldest (and newest – Google it) city*

*It’ll always be a town, to me.

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