Ghost

Night – High Tides – Distant Skies Review

Night – High Tides – Distant Skies Review

“Nobody will remember this, but back in 2017 Night’s album Raft of the World found its way onto my year-end list. This Swedish cadre of retro-rockers wormed their way onto my playlists with a catchier-than-it-should-have-been brand of 70’s hard rock, drawing influence from bands I love such as Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy. They started out as a NWoBHM-worshiping group, and have evolved over the years into a very classic hard rock act. High Tides – Distant Skies sees the band shed nearly all of their metallic influences, save for some proto-metal riffing, in exchange for the classic rock of Blue Öyster Cult and, yes, Dire Straits.” That ain’t working. Or is it?

Acârash – Descend to Purity Review

Acârash – Descend to Purity Review

Descend to Purity is the band’s sophomore effort, following 2018’s In Chaos Becrowned. Doc Grier thought that effort was a promising debut, but with songs that tended to meander and ultimately go nowhere. He also nearly started a riot in the comments section by stating that Ghost kinda suck. Now, I have no wish to further inflame a world that has enough tension as is, but whatever your feelings about Ghost, you have to admit that the band members at least sound like they’re having fun. Acârash is aiming for the same aesthetic.” Good metal fun?

Spell – Opulent Decay Review

Spell – Opulent Decay Review

“The retro waves never stop crashing ashore, they just shift decades. Beginning around 2000 the metalverse became inundated with 80s throwback acts, and over the past ten or so years there’s been an increasing drive to mine 70s rock for inspiration as well. Canadian act Spell are in on this big dig, incorporating a lot of 70s rock ideas into a slurry containing NWoBHM and goth rock. Opulent Decay is their third attempt to get this tricky recipe right, showcasing an intriguing blend of eras and styles which results in something very old sounding and full of occult auras.” Olden magic.

Ereley – Diablerie Review

Ereley – Diablerie Review

“I kind of forgot about Fear Factor for a while there. I can give no particular reason for it, they simply slipped out of my mind and slunk through the front door, down the stairs, into the street. But a band with such a unique sound was bound to return, at least in doppelganger form, burrowing back into my head. It took a minute to get my thoughts in order, but after mentally crossing out Godflesh, I knew who Ereley were pushing back into my brain. It wasn’t the pure stuff though.” Strange bedfellows.

Shrine of Insanabilis – Vast Vortex Litanies Review

Shrine of Insanabilis – Vast Vortex Litanies Review

“This year, I learned that anonymity can only carry you so far in life. Ask Mr. Tobias Forge or either of the two proposed leaders from two of the bazillion Batushkas out there how that all panned out in the end, at least in terms of legal issues. And since their debut album, 2015’s impressive-if-repetitive Disciples of the Void, we’ve learned that Shrine of Insanabilis are German, and that their drummer, Serpenth, also played in Acherontas. Ah, well, so much for mystery.” He would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.

The Neptune Power Federation – Memoirs of a Rat Queen Review

The Neptune Power Federation – Memoirs of a Rat Queen Review

“What a good story needs first and foremost is interesting characters though, and The Neptune Power Federation get that. Their vocalist, Imperial Priestess Screaming Loz Sutch, assumes the mantle of a time-travelling space witch for their fourth album, Memoirs of a Rat Queen. 70s space rock that mixes Heart with Hawkwind and AC/DC, a sexy vengeful bombshell on the mic, and a story scattered from the French revolution to boning in a parking lot; what could possibly go wrong here?” Aqua(lung) metal.

Kadavar – For the Dead Travel Fast Review

Kadavar – For the Dead Travel Fast Review

“When Ghost popped out of the ground/Vatican and started spinning their poppy, Satanic throwback rock for the masses, they inadvertently birthed a whole new wave of acts seeking to merge the same 70s rock influences with occult imagery and demonic subject matter. One of the earliest adapters of this “new” style was Germany’s Kadavar, who fused psychedelic rock with horror and occult themes in ways that were as good and sometimes better than anything Ghost had done before.” Now THIS is dead racing!

Cult of Sorrow – Invocation of the Lucifer Review

Cult of Sorrow – Invocation of the Lucifer Review

“After almost six years of reviewing here, I’ve noticed American bands latching on to certain trends. Just a decade ago, everyone and their cousin was aping the Gothenburg sound, mixing it with d-beats and hardcore (and some whiny) vocals, and calling it a day. Nowadays, doom is the nectar du jour, and many a band is gulping it. Here in America, you have two prevalent strains: the airy, dreamy, almost progressive take that bands like YOBKhemmis, and especially Pallbearer have crafted, and then there’s the so-70s-your-sideburns-are-showing Blue Oyster Cult Scoobie-Doobie-Doom “Occult” doom that’s been sweeping the nation. So which side does Invocation of the Lucifer, the second album by Cincinnati upstarts Cult of Sorrow, land?” Culting the herd.

Dying Embers – Where Shadeless Dwell Frozen Review

Dying Embers – Where Shadeless Dwell Frozen Review

“In the mid-00’s, I was just starting to dip my toes into the realms of metal. Maybe it was just the entry point I had with Children of Bodom, but there were a slew of bands that were called melodic death metal, but like a Scooby Doo villain, turned out to be power metal with some harsh vocals, some of them adding some cues from Gothic metal to seem a little darker. Bands like Eternal Tears of Sorrow or Before the Dawn went over well with pubescent me, with their straightforward, Maidenesque guitar harmonies and gloomy veneer. Dying Embers fall in this category as well, being tagged melodic death metal, and instead molding bits of Gothic and growls onto a mid-paced power metal album with the unwieldy title Where Shadeless Dwell Frozen. Time to feel like a teenager again.” Drama Club metal.