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Yer Metal Is Olde: Nightwish – Oceanborn

Yer Metal Is Olde: Nightwish – Oceanborn

“I was seven years old for most of 1999—the year Nightwish‘s breakout record Oceanborn saw its worldwide release. It would be seven more years before I would finally encounter what constitutes one of the most exhilarating listening experiences of my life. Since Oceanborn dropped, scores of symphonic metal bands have made countless attempts to imitate it, yet each clone of this record since has failed spectacularly to match either its significance or its quality. Hence this little entry of mine into the annals of Yer Metal Is Olde.” Own the Night(wish).

Within Temptation – Resist Review

Within Temptation – Resist Review

“The times they are a changing. Once not so long ago, Within Temptation was in the vanguard of symphonic metal, powered by the wonderful voice of Sharon den Adel. Early albums like Mother Earth and The Silent Force balanced dark moods with accessible songcraft, and though they were never a super heavy outfit, their overall style fit well enough in the metalverse. Over time their sound became more glossy and pop-centric, drifting closer and closer to alt-rock, culminating in the commercially grasping dumpster fire that was 2014s Hydra. Four long years have gone by without a followup, reinforcing the bad taste that album left behind.” Resistance is brutal.

Venom – Storm the Gates Review

Venom – Storm the Gates Review

“It’s always sad when a band has an internal branding dispute of such magnitude that it gives rise to two separate, but identical, entities. In this case, UK legends Venom are now forced to share a moniker with Venom Inc. and it may not be such a bad thing. Last year I reviewed the corporate crusher’s debut, Avé, where I waxed pompous over its unremarkable, but undeniably decent, content. Now, the black metal originals have returned with no less than their fifteenth studio album Storm the Gates.” Sounds of a poison fading.

Amaranthe – Helix Review

Amaranthe – Helix Review

“One part pop, one part -core, and one part power metal, Amaranthe could only have come from Sweden: a country and people so obsessively modern and image-conscious that they created the Eurovision industry, the national Twitter account, and the marketing model for trend-driven consumption from furniture to clothing. Even some of the most iconic metal Sweden has produced had remarkably trend-driven second acts. In Flames‘ fall from melodeath darlings to nü-metal wannabes was followed by bands adopting the Swedecore sound. What’s the most successful metal band that Sweden has produced since Gothenburg? Well, Ghost. But even for Sweden Amaranthe is another level entirely.” Amaranthe is back for more. How’s that working out for them?

Dragonlord – Dominion Review

Dragonlord – Dominion Review

“As a longtime fan of Testament, that I’d somehow missed Dragonlord until now came as a bit of a surprise. Testament guitarist Eric Peterson founded the project as a way to showcase his kvlt kred, and released two albums in the 00’s that can loosely be described as Dimmu Borgir-adjacent. Since then, they’ve slogged through a quagmire of line-up changes, label problems, and scheduling conflicts. That Dominion is here at all is impressive.” New Testament.

Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back Review

Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back Review

“Not a lot of bands last twenty years, and even fewer do so with no real lineup changes. British stoner rock stalwarts Orange Goblin are a rare breed: aside from losing second guitarist Pete O’Malley long ago, the other four members have stood fast since 1995. Two things usually happen in these cases: first, the band gets incredibly tight, with fantastic chemistry. Twenty-three years together will do that. On the flip side, more often than not the songwriting suffers (see: Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™). Bands turn into caricatures of what they are most famous for.” Orange you glad the Goblin‘s back?

Voices – Frightened Review

Voices – Frightened Review

“When Akercocke dissolved in 2012, a few of its members regrouped as Voices, releasing a respectable debut in the form of Voices from the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain, revealing that there was some life left from the ashes of everyone’s favorite hedonistic prog-death merchants. However, absolutely no one was prepared for the relentless headfuck that came out the following year.” Voices carry… expectations.

Winterfylleth – The Hallowing of Heirdom Review

Winterfylleth – The Hallowing of Heirdom Review

“The first time I sat down with The Hallowing of Heirdom, I was in denial. With every song, I expected the sky to crack open and a dark sheet of black rain to pour from blood-red clouds. It never happened. And, as a result, I’m going to try to rate, compare, and measure The Hallowing of Heirdom against Winterfylleth‘s decade of atmospheric black metal records. For how much I hate the phrase, this is like comparing apples to oranges.” Strum and drag.

Kalmah – Palo Review

Kalmah – Palo Review

Kalmah could be a fine case study for some poor grad student’s research into band development. Finland’s favorite sons grew up overnight, discovering their unique and — dare I say — iconic sound as young whipper-snappers. They caught the thicket of mid-period lows underfoot and freed themselves through personal evolution, not brute strength. They retooled into an incredibly consistent act not wholly unalike their early days, but not overtly similar either. It’s been nearly five years since Kalmah last stomped the swamp, and Palo would be more a shock if it wasn’t the beautiful bog beast we all expected.” Muckrakers.

Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pacifisticuffs Review

Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pacifisticuffs Review

“Back in ’12—when I was wearing an onion on my belt, as that was the fashion at the time—I encountered Diablo Swing Orchestra for the first time. These Swedish purveyors of the abstract and absurdly catchy had composed an album entitled Pandora’s Piñata that I downright lovedDSO went into hibernation after PP and resurfaced again with the news that their long-time vocalist AnnLouice Lögdlund was leaving the band. Lögdlund’s considerable lung capacity was replaced with Kristen Evegård, but unlike other band breakups when you lose a vocalist, DSO kept most of the rest of the band in place and produced a new album. 2017’s newest record is the wittily entitled Pacifisticuffs, which coming from Swedes is a great way of describing what appears to be the Swedish cultural state of nature.” Conscientious objections.