International Metal

Divine Element – Thaurachs of Borsu Review

Divine Element – Thaurachs of Borsu Review

“Based on my review stats thus far into my AMG career, I’ve got a 66 percent chance of snagging a record featuring Spectral Lore guitarist Ayloss whenever I pull an I, Voidhanger release from the promo bin. It’s easy to see why the label is so eager to back his work; he’s one of the few black metal guitarists I can recall who possesses a unique playing style, slapping an unmistakable stamp onto pretty much every product he touches. But before he staked his claim to black metal fame with Spectral Lore, he cut his teeth on Divine Element.” Sharp teeth, sharp riffs.

Earth Electric – Vol I: Solar Review

Earth Electric – Vol I: Solar Review

“Rune Eriksen is a well-traveled gentleman of metal. He was an important part of Mayhem’s second creative wave and continues to be a foundational part of Aura Noir. He’s also known for his gothic doom vehicle Ava Inferi, which released one of the most enduring albums in the genre with 2011s Onyx. Now he’s launching another project with long-time Ava Inferi collaborator Carmen Susana Simoes. Earth Electric could be called experimental goth rock, and rocking it is, taking an enormous 70s rock influence and shoehorning it into Ava Inferi’s ethereal goth style.” Rock in a soft place.

Firewind – Immortals Review

Firewind – Immortals Review

“Long running Greek power metal warriors Firewind have always been a reliable second-string act thanks to the capable stewardship of axe God, Gus G. When news broke in 2009 that he was to be Ozzy’s new guitar wiz, I wondered if he’d be able to keep his first love alive on the side. Immortals marks the third Firewind platter since he joined with metal’s original maniac, so it seems the man can multi-task just fine.” This Gus is on fire!

Heavens Decay – The Great Void of Mystery Review

Heavens Decay – The Great Void of Mystery Review

“We all know December is the Great Dumpster Fire of Destiny for promos, and one does not simply sort through it without being stunned by the world-class dreck the labels unleash upon us poor, defenseless reviewers like so much coal in our stockings. Even in dead-end December though, you can sometimes trip over an industrial grade gem – the kind that will never shine like a pricey diamond, but may just win your affection anyway with its durable, utilitarian badassery. The Great Void of Mystery by Heavens Decay is one such stone of note.” December dumpster diving is risky business.

Clouds – Departe Review

Clouds – Departe Review

“Sometimes a piece of music is entirely about a single, specific feeling, be it rage, joy or sadness. Departe, the second album by atmospheric post-doom super group Clouds, is definitely about the latter, and it attempts to drown the listener in a vast sea of chilling, cloying melancholy without offering the slightest hint of hope or beam of light. Formed by members of The 11th Hour, Eye of Solitude, Rapture, Barren Earth and Shape of Despair, the line up reads like doom royalty and their vast experience helps make this one of the bleakest, most depressive listens of this year or any other.” Got something in your eye? You’re about to.

Trees of Eternity – Hour of the Nightingale Review

Trees of Eternity – Hour of the Nightingale Review

“Life is fleeting, sometimes cruel and always impossible to predict. Case in point – the circumstances surrounding the Hour of the Nightingale debut by Trees of Eternity – a project formed by Juha Raivio (Swallow the Sun) and his partner Aleah Liane Stanbridge. Prior to Trees, Aleah was best known for her vocal work on Swallow the Sun’s Songs of the North and AmorphisUnder the Red Cloud. Trees’ and its melodic quasi-doom style was designed to showcase Aleah’s vocal talents and take her career to the next level.” What might have been.

Black Yet Full of Stars – Black Yet Full of Stars Review

Black Yet Full of Stars – Black Yet Full of Stars Review

“There’s no doubt about it, in this burgeoning world of myriad metal sub-genres, an unlucky few have been branded as default pejoratives. We’re all guilty of it to some degree: nu metal, metalcore, deathcore… basically anything with a core, all sneered at and vilified down the length of our long, elitist noses. It saddens my iron bones to find that power metal seems to be suffering the same fate. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but there can be no denying the scene’s quality output.” Up with power!

Them – Sweet Hollow Review

Them – Sweet Hollow Review

“New the band may be, but the individual members are all seasoned veterans, most notably bassist Mike LePond from Symphony X and drummer Kevin Talley from Suffocation. Markus Ulrich (Lanfear) and Markus Johansson (Sylencer) are on six-string duties and Richie Seibel (also Lanfear) handles the keyboards. Vocalist Troy Norr’s recent experience moonlighting in a King Diamond tribute band informs what Sweet Hollow is all about.” But they do make a good cup of tea….

Johansson & Speckmann – Edge of the Abyss Review

Johansson & Speckmann – Edge of the Abyss Review

“I like to imagine the absurdly prolific Rogga Johansson’s inner monologue to be similar to Pinky and the Brain’s introductory bit, with him eating whatever the Swedes eat for breakfast, wondering ‘what should I do today?’ and answering, ‘the same thing you do every day, Rogga: write and record a death metal record.’ Our hero would then draw a band name from a hat or make one up depending on his mood, and by lunchtime would have written about seven songs and called up whoever was needed to complete the lineup. Johansson & Speckmann had clearly been drawn from what must be a very large hat by now, and before the traditional Swedish dinner bell rang that day, Edge of the Abyss was born.” Pinky and the Brawn.