Xerath – III – Album Review

Xerath cover big

Artist: Xerath

Album Title: III

Label: Candlelight Records

Year of Release: 2014

UK extreme metallers Xerath return with their third album, ‘III’ and in keeping with ‘I’ and ‘II’ before it, have not wasted any precious time in thinking of a new approach to album titles. Simply titled it may be but instead, once again, the talented quartet have expended every ounce of effort on the compositions themselves, thereby taking the listener on another ambitious and enormously gratifying voyage into the world of heavy and technical cinematic modern extreme metal. Indeed the band, comprised of new boy Conor McGouran (guitars) alongside long-term members Michael Pitman (drums), Richard Thomson (vocals) and Christopher Clark (bass) should be very proud of their accomplishments here. Why exactly? Read on.

Xerath Promo 2013

The album opens up with the seven-minute ‘I Hold Dominion’, a track that sets the tone for what is to follow beautifully. The first minute is pure blockbuster film score territory where the symphonic influences take the lead. You can tell the track is building to something though and so it proves as a gargantuan riff joins the party, leaving you in no doubt about Xerath’s extreme metal tendencies. From then on, complex polyrhythmic riffs twist and turn, the rhythm section pounds with relentless precision and occasional guitar solos add their own breezy embellishments. Thomson’s vocals sit atop the music, alternating between a growled bark and a soaring clean delivery. The latter adds to the not-inconsiderable melodic aspect of the composition and compliments wonderfully the ever-present orchestration that sits at the heart of Xerath’s music.

Follow-up track ‘2053’ is more of a straight-up extreme metal track, if such a thing can be said about a Xerath composition. The symphonic elements still dominate but are complimented by furious double-pedal drumming and savagely incisive riffs that, thanks to the chosen tones and the precision with which they are executed, are a joy to behold. ‘I Hunt For The Weak’ on the other hand has, at its heart, a fantastic chorus which is genuinely anthemic and, thanks to the return of Thomson’s clean vocals, adds a brilliantly epic quality to the track.

I may have picked on the first three songs up until now, but rest assured the quality exhibited by these tracks is replicated time and time again throughout ‘III’. What I particularly like about this album is the way in which every different idea has been incorporated into the music in such a seamless and smooth fashion. The orchestral aspect for example which includes a live string quartet does not feel clunky, nor does it come across as if it has been bolted on to some death metal tracks as an afterthought. Instead, the classical element is the lifeblood of the music, the ingredient that is integral and without which, the music wouldn’t live and breathe.

Speaking of death metal, this is something of a disingenuous simplification on my part. Death metal may be the biggest influence at play, but there are also elements of thrash, black, prog and modern tech metal to be heard if you are prepared to listen carefully enough and give ‘III’ the time and attention that it deserves. Again, nothing feels out of place and the ability to segue from one apparently disparate idea to another so fluently is very impressive indeed.

One criticism that can be levelled of music of this nature is that it can get a little much after a while and can lose the attention of the listener. This is especially true when an album consists of 14 tracks and lasts for well over an hour. And whilst I’d argue, albeit tamely, that this album wouldn’t suffer unduly from a slight trim here and there, the sheer amount of music on offer here is not a problem. The consistent quality of both the songwriting and the execution, coupled with the willingness to experiment with different ideas, textures and aural landscapes means that the listener is held rapt from start to finish. Each listen yields something new and the sheer grandiosity of the whole thing cannot fail but to excite even the most jaded and cynical of music lovers.

Honestly, the scale of the whole album is just mind blowing, delighting and pulverising at each and every turn. Several bands over the years have attempted something similar but if it was ever in any doubt, ‘III’ simply blows away any thought that there is a band out there that can do this better right now. Xerath are at the top of their game and if there’s any justice in this world, ‘III’ can only cement their place amongst the extreme metal elite.

The Score of Much Metal: 9

Essential Metal Releases Still To Come In 2014 – Part 3

As with many of my blog posts, I hadn’t intended on adding a third part to my series of posts looking at those albums still to come in the latter half of 2014 that I’m really looking forward to. However, with a few announcements and confirmations in the past couple of weeks, I again felt compelled to add a few more albums to the already-impressive list.

If you missed parts 1 & 2, they can be read here:

Essential Metal Releases Still To Come in 2014 – Part 1
Essential Metal Releases Still To Come in 2014 – Part 2

This third installment contains a wide variety of music within the rock and metal genres, so hopefully there’s something of interest again here. In no particular order, here goes:

Knight Area – Hyperdrive

Knight_Area_-_Hyperdrive_450x450Dutch rockers Knight Area are simply one of the best bands within the modern neo-progressive rock scene. Every album that they release is of the highest quality and offers everything you could want in a band of this genre. The music is certainly grandiose in the manner of many of their predecessors, the keyboards dominate as they should and the guitar work is satisfying, containing plenty of interesting riffs and glorious melodic solos. And yet, Knight Area are also keen to avoid sounding overly pretentious, instead favouring strong compositions full of powerful melodic intent over self-indulgence. The result on the band’s last album, ‘Nine Paths’ was fantastic and I’m expecting nothing less from the forthcoming ‘Hyperdrive’

Scar Symmetry – The Singularity (Phase I – Neohumanity)

ssI have loved Scar Symmetry ever since they burst onto the scene in the early Noughties with ‘Symmetric In Design’, an album that simply blew me away. Their blend of brutality, razor-sharp precision, groove, hook-laden choruses and the clean/gruff dual vocal approach instantly hit the mark and, for me, they quickly became one of the most exciting melodic death metal bands to come out of Sweden in many years. Well over a decade later and, albeit with a few line-up changes since then, we’re about to be offered album number six. As the name suggests, it is the first album within a trilogy, an intriguing concept and one that just makes me even more curious and excited to hear it.

Freak Kitchen – Cooking With Pagans

fkHow do you sum up Freak Kitchen in a few short words? It’s a challenge, but I’d say ‘quirky, progressive, fun and very catchy’. The Swedish trio of Mattias IA Eklundh, Bjorn Fryklund and Christer Ortefors are not your usual band but it’s exactly for this reason that they remain a well-loved cult band. The music is referred to as prog rock, art-rock and experimental rock but with Freak Kitchen, genres don’t mean much as they are truly unique. The core of the band’s music is technical and challenging but they manage to almost disguise the complexity by keeping the songs on the shorter side and lacing them with a surprisingly heavy and groovy guitar tone, huge melodies and humorous lyrics that often have me laughing or singing loudly as if I’m listening to a stadium rock band. A very impressive feat, one that very few could pull off with such stunning results. It’s been five years since the last album so I’m ready for this.

Flying Colors – Second Nature

flyingcolorssecondnaturecd-500x500In spite of the fact that their name is spelt incorrectly (, I am still greatly looking forward to a new release from the ‘supergroup’ that goes by the name of Flying Colors. Comprised of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Steve Morse, Casey McPherson and Dave LaRue, the quintet offer the listening public a blend of progressive rock and pop music. Naturally, when musicians of this calibre are involved, you tend to expect music of the highest calibre and that’s exactly what you get. The self-titled debut album is a delight of beautifully-crafted organic-sounding progressive rock with huge hooks, giant choruses and a care-free, breezy attitude. As such, I cannot be the only one looking forward to the follow-up?

Australia – A New Powerhouse For Heavy Music?

I hadn’t planned on writing this post but all of a sudden, I felt compelled to do so. In recent months, I have been completely blown away by the quality of music being produced by some Australian artists and I wanted to bring this to people’s attention more.

As a brief aside from an English perspective, we have an interesting relationship with our Antipodean cousins. When it comes to sport, we love to ‘hate’ each other, sworn enemies on whatever pitch or court we find ourselves on. There are also those on both sides that would welcome an Australian split from the Commonwealth. But (and it’s a big but), I firmly believe that there’s great affection between us. How else could you explain the large numbers of Brits that emigrate ‘down under’ (apart from the weather of course) and the large number of Australians that have found themselves here in Blighty, many of whom have stayed and never left? Moreover, I have had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with many Aussies and almost to a person, the experience has been extremely positive.

And for those of you wondering, I’m not for one second suggesting that Australia has always been a wilderness of heavy metal. I’m aware that several very notable bands have surfaced over the years and achieved varying levels of success. AC/DC are clearly high on the list, but over the years, the list includes the likes of Airbourne, Psycroptic and Sadistik Exekution and many more, all very worthy in their own right. It is just that in recent months, every Australian release that I have spent time with has been good enough to make me consider rewarding it with full marks upon review. In my world, Australia is now a by-word for damn great heavy music.

By now, I’m sure you’re asking me to cut the waffle and get down to business. Well, in no particular order, here goes:

Vanishing Point – ‘Distant Is The Sun’

Vanishing-Point_Distant-is-the-SunAs previous blogs have explored, my love affair with Vanishing Point stretches back nearly a decade and a half. And their brand new album ‘Distant Is The Sun’, is the best this quintet have sounded since 2000’s ‘Tangled In Dream’ and has really impressed me. To the point that the band have regained their mantle as my ‘go-to’ band when I want to listen to melodic heavy metal.

There is still an element of prog about the compositions on what is arguably Vanishing Point’s most consistent body of work since the turn of the millennium. There’s the odd interesting time signature or quirky riff but it’s not overdone and it doesn’t ever rob the music of it’s immediacy. And whilst ‘Distant Is The Sun’ is immediate thanks to some cracking huge choruses and memorable hooks, it is a heavier, darker affair with a true metal vibe that permeates through the huge riffs and the overall tempo of the music. This is melodic metal with proper bite.

Voyager – ‘V’

voyager‘V’ is rapidly turning into one of my favourite discs of 2014. I cannot for the life of me remove it from my playlists at the moment. The album is too damn catchy, too much fun and too well produced not to be a massive hit with me and so it has proved.

Those familiar with my blog will be sick of hearing it, but in terms of production, heavy metal doesn’t get much better – ‘V’ sounds fantastic thanks to a wonderful clarity of sound that is married nicely with enough punch to give the metal element real strength.

From a musical standpoint, the compositions are a really addictive blend of quirky, progressive metal and 80s pop. Vocalist Daniel Estrin has a tone that really invites the 80s references and does divide opinion somewhat. Personally, I love his delivery and find that his singing really compliments both the heavy riffing of the verses as well as those garagantuan choruses. If you want music that’s going to make you grin from ear to ear, this is the album for you.

Aeon Of Horus – Existence

AEONOFHORUS_EXISTENCE_COVERAs I stated previously, Aeon Of Horus play the kind of extreme metal that I want to listen to. On the one hand, you’re handed an aural beating at the hands of a relentlessly uncompromising rhythm section, savage riffs and vocals that sound like they have been ripped straight out of hell. On the other, there’s a sensitive and nicely understated use of melody that helps to break up the brutality and offer something to entice listeners in for repeated spins. There’s even an occasional foray into more atmospheric, ambient territory which juxtaposes the extremity really nicely indeed.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the whole thing is held together by an impressive level of technicality that, in the hands of those less well-skilled and dextrous, would end up sounding messy to say the least. Not so here, as every passage of music is crisp, clear and surgically precise. Put simply, this is a killer extreme metal record.

Karnivool – Asymmetry

20130715-0240-0-asymmetryThis album was one big surprise for me when it was released. I have it’s predecessor in my collection and I enjoy listening to it from time to time. However, Karnivool threw a bit of a curveball with ‘Asymmetry. And after an initial period of disorientation, I cannot tell you what a great curveball it has turned out to be.

The reliance on the band’s highly talented rhythm section remains on ‘Asymmetry’ and, if anything, it has been enhanced even further. This time around, there’s a demonstrable Tool vibe to much of the material in terms of the way that Karnivool seem to enjoy toying with the listener. Tracks build to the point where they threaten to open up into a giant crescendo or spiral out of control. But, at the last minute, the brakes are applied and the explosion never happens. And yet, for all the teasing and overt technicality, the compositions remain compelling and rewarding.

‘Asymmetry’ is a dark beast, full of emotion and ominous intent. Yet, it is also one hell of a groovy collection of songs and thanks to some subtle melodic sensibilities, the more you listen, the more you find yourself immersed in the music and drawn in for repeated listens.

Caligula’s Horse – The Tide, The Thief & Rivers End

caligulas-horseIf progressive music is your thing, then prepare to be very impressed with Caligula’s Horse. This album contains just about everything that I love about what I’d refer to as ‘proper’ progressive metal. On a first listen, the sheer amount of music on offer can be daunting but that’s part of the charm to be perfectly honest. Give it time though, and the fruits of your labours begin to grow.

The music may be technical, varied and quirky on occasion, but there’s no denying the honesty and warmth that accompanies the apparent complexity. Hints of classic rock and more straight-edged metal elements lurk close to the surface, to the extent that the more familiar you become with the music, the simpler and more memorable it becomes. The melodies are strong, the compositions don’t feel overworked and the entire album works as a cohesive whole. Without question, this is one of the best prog albums that 2014 has delivered.

Ne Obliviscaris – Portal Of I

NE OBLIVISCARIS - [2012] Portal Of IThis is the oldest of the albums here having been released in 2012. However, it is so good that I had to fit it into this blog post.

The first word that springs to mind when I listen to this album is ‘epic’. What Ne Obliviscaris have created is something so huge, you can’t help but get completely swept up in it. The band’s output is rooted in death metal at the more melodic end of the spectrum but they add elements of black metal, progressive technicality, a sprinkling of more modern ‘core and djent and then somehow manage to incorporate a lone violin to top it all off, thereby providing an almost folk feel to passages within the compositions.

If I could sum up this massive album in just a few words, I would say ‘epic and atmospheric; a tour de force of beautiful extreme metal’.

Essential Metal Releases Still To Come In 2014 – Part 1

Welcome to my quick run-down of those albums I’m looking forward to being released in the latter half of 2014. I’ve already gone into some detail about the album that I’m most looking forward to, Evergrey’s ‘Hymns For The Broken’, but there are plenty more albums that are high on my radar. Want to know what they are? Then read on!

opeth pcOpeth – Pale Communion

I have to confess that this is an album that I have already heard and reviewed for Powerplay magazine. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to holding the finished article in my hands. It isn’t an album I had held out great hope for having failed to be enthralled by any of the Opeth back catalogue up to now. However, this is the album that means that I finally ‘get’ Opeth and understand why so many people hold them in high regard. Stylistically similar to ‘Heritage’ and ‘Damnation’ occasionally, it also throws a few nods to the band’s heavier past. 70s and 80s-inspired progressive music at it’s very best.

Here’s a track from the forthcoming album, ‘Pale Communion’:

threshold ftjThreshold – For The Journey

A new album from one of the most highly-regarded and consistently brilliant UK-based prog metal bands? Well, ok then, if you insist. Threshold’s stock has been rising over the past few years but when you release such excellent albums, it’s hardly surprising. ‘Critical Mass’ remains a firm favourite but more recent output has offered fans some of the most subtly complex yet anthemic and damn catchy music that the genre has to offer. High quality and professionalism comes as standard.

Check out this track from previous album, ‘March Of Progress’:

In-Flames-Siren-Charms-SmallIn Flames – Siren Charms

I have always been a fan of arguably the biggest and most commercially-successful band to come out of the Swedish city of Gothenburg. Beginning life as all-out melodeath, the band’s sound has gently and subtly morphed into something different, something altogether more modern. Many argue that there is a melodeath core to In Flames’ more recent output and perhaps they are right. But it doesn’t really matter if the output is high on quality and the music is enjoyable. That’s certainly always been the case with In Flames and, whilst I’m left feeling a little underwhelmed by the lead single that has been recently released, I remain interested in the release of ‘Siren Charms’ and still class myself as a staunch fan of the band.

The new single from ‘Siren Charms’, entitled ‘Rusted Nail’:

sanctuary2011band_638Sanctuary – The Year The Sun Died

Whilst Sanctuary pre-dated Nevermore, it is fair to say that there is as much interest and excitement over this release from Nevermore fans as from original Sanctuary fans. Indeed, many of us are one and the same. When news greeted us that Nevermore were calling it a day, there was a great deal of sadness in the Mansion of Much Metal because I regarded them as one of the very best and a firm favourite. However, news of a new Sanctuary album, their first since 1989, has softened the blow somewhat. I have sorely missed Warrel Dane’s vocals, but it’d not long until we have new material fronted by one of the most unique voices in heavy metal.

THis following clip will give you an idea of what to expect from ‘The Year The Sun Died’:

My Most Anticipated Release of 2014

Having briefly rounded-up those albums that I consider to be the best so far in 2014 (check these posts out here), I fully intended to take a general look at the albums still to be released this year that I was particularly looking forward to. I still intend to do that in the coming days/weeks but as I began to write, it became obvious that there is one album in particular that I am most excited about and which I felt deserved a little more exclusive focus from me.

Evergrey – Hymns For The Broken

evergrey hftb

They are my favourite band. Simple as that. Anyone who has read this blog probably already knows this. If you didn’t, please click this link and catch up! ‘Glorious Collision’, released in 2011 was seen by many, myself included, as a real return to form after a couple of albums that weren’t received quite as positively as others. That’s not to say that either ‘Monday Morning Apocalypse’ or ‘Torn’ were bad records, just that they maybe didn’t fire the enthusiasm as much after the devastatingly great triple combo of ‘In Search Of Truth’, ‘Recreation Day’ and ‘The Inner Circle’.

These three albums deliver time and time again and, despite being released a decade and more ago, they have all stood the test of time. Moreover, as I’ve made clear elsewhere on this blog, ‘In Search Of Truth’ is my absolute favourite album of all time. The question is, will album number nine, ‘Hymns For The Broken’ live up to my ultra-high expectations?

Evergrey and their irrepressible front man, Tom Englund, have been pushing ‘Hymns For The Broken’ very hard on social media in the recent months and although Tom, in true Swedish self-deprecating style, will not go so far as to say that he is proud of what he has created, I get the feeling that on September 26th, we’ll be treated to a very special album indeed. Based on the support that their record label have also given to the cause, I think AFM Records agree too.

We’ve been treated to a few small teasers, but these don’t seem to be giving away too much in terms of the music itself. The first was released at the beginning of June 2014. It lasted for less than a minute and gave fans the album title, the track titles and confirmation that the album will feature a new concept story. The latter is greeted positively because, in my opinion, Evergrey are at their best when delivering a story.

This information sits on top of what appears to be a atmospheric synth-led intro giving way to a slow-to-mid-tempo, heavy as hell riff that doesn’t sit, to these ears in a simple 4-4 beat. I’m already excited.

The second teaser was released just a week or so ago. At around 1 minute 30 seconds, it again begins with the sound of a piano before exploding into a riff that is big, fat and juicy. Given the apparent time signature, it appears that Evergrey’s progressive side has not disappeared either.

Accompanying the music, fans are told that the first single will be the track ‘King Of Errors’, released on 15th August. A video will accompany the song which will reveal the two mysterious new members to replace drummer Hannes Van Dahl and guitarist Marcus Jidell. The album artwork is also revealed in this clip. It is bold, striking and has grown on me over the past week or so.

What can we therefore deduce from these two teasers? It’s always a little dangerous to read too much into small snippets like these but I have to admit that I am very optimistic about what lays ahead. The fact that both teasers feature keyboardist Rikard Zander prominently leads me to hope that his involvement on ‘Hymns For The Broken’ will be more central as I love the juxtaposition between the heavy riffing and the dark keyboard-created atmospheres for which Evergrey are known.

Tom, Rikard and a mysterious new member of Evergrey. Just who is the new drummer?

Tom, Rikard and a mysterious new member of Evergrey. Just who is the new drummer?

We’ve yet to hear any vocals but I fully expect Tom Englund, one of the best voices in heavy metal today, to deliver a typically passionate vocal performance, full of emotion. As far as choruses or melodies are concerned, I really hope that Evergrey deliver as I know that they can and have done in the past. I want anthems that stick in the mind long after the album has finished. I want poignancy, I want intelligence and I want catchy. Not much then, no pressure Evergrey! But then, I only want all this because I know that the band are capable of these things and because previous albums have placed the bar so high.

Now the long wait until 26th September begins. It feels like it is a long way away but even now, consider me very excited!

Still unconvinced or unfamiliar with Evergrey? Check this out, ‘The Phantom Letters’ from ‘Glorious Collision':

Half-Way Through 2014 – The Best So Far – Part 3

Today I bring you the third instalment of my half-way round-up of some of the best albums released so far in 2014. So far, this year has been a strong one with a number of albums catching my attention and garnering positive reviews where applicable.

If you missed parts 1 and 2, they can be accessed via the following links:

Half-Way Through 2014 – The Best So Far – Part 1
Half-Way Through 2014 – The Best So Far – Part 2

But here now, is Part 3:

Anathema – distant satellites

Distan_SatellitesRegular readers of this blog will not be surprised to read that this album features in this list. I absolutely adored ‘Weather Systems’ and it finished at the summit of my ‘Best of 2012′ top 20. Clearly, based on the quality of the follow-up, ‘distant satellites’, Anathema didn’t feel any pressure. Instead, they have matched the brilliance and come up with yet another magnificent body of work.

The aspect of anathema’s music that I enjoy so much is their deep, emotional and thought-provoking lyrical content. ‘distant satellites’ is no different in that respect and there are plenty of occasions throughout the album where I find a tear rolling down my cheek as I listen to Vincent Cavanagh or Lee Douglas pour their heart and soul into the delivery of some heavy and raw subject matters.

The lyrics however, would lack their punch and bite if the music that underpinned it was substandard. This is not a problem for Anathema at all. The melodies are sublime, the compositions are, for Anathema, relatively simple and straight-forward but put together with a care and understanding that is beyond most of our capabilities to comprehend. ‘distant satellites’ is, by the Liverpudlian band’s own admission, more stripped back, with fewer layers and less ‘clutter’ if I can call it that. And yet, listening to this record, you’d hardly believe it because the output sounds so rich and full of vibrancy. Much of this has to do with the increased use of orchestration which is a real boon because ‘distant satellites’ feels more majestic as a result.

Naturally, much will be made of the closing few tracks which play around with more electronic and ambient sounds and textures. Honestly, these tracks took time to digest and to fully appreciate. With time and effort however, they stand alongside the rest of the album perfectly and are now some of my favourite songs on the album.

Put very simply, it will take one hell of an album to knock this off the top spot when it comes to my 2014 top 20 countdown at the end of the year.

Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

VPFor those interested in my full, in-depth review of this album, you can access it here: Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld – Album Review

If you’re just interested in a brief overview at this stage, then read on.

German progressive metallers Vanden Plas have been around since the late 1980’s and it is fair to say that every one of their eight releases since their inception have been quality affairs. Of course some will have their favourites amongst the pack but what you cannot say is that any of the back catalogue is substandard. Vanden Plas simply do not do substandard.

Over the years, the quintet have become more and more interested and involved with musical theatre and have actually put on shows in their native Germany. Unsurprisingly then, the ostentatiously-titled ‘Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld’ is heavily influenced in this area and, in conjuction with German author Wolfgang Hohlbein, Vanden Plas have created a concept album that is grandiose and theatrical in the extreme. You want big sounds and big songs? Then this is the album you need, trust me.

As theatrical and dramatic as ‘Chronicles…’ is, Vanden Plas have not forgotten their musical roots and so the core of the material is still progressive metal with bucket-loads of melody. In fact, what I particularly like about this album, which incidentally, is the first in a two-part series, is the use of recurring melodies and motifs throughout the ten tracks or ‘visions’ as they are referred to here.

If you are looking for a lush, grandiose, technical, varied and anthemic listening experience, ‘Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld’ stands head and shoulders above the competition and should be the only choice you need to make.

Kuolemanlaakso – Tulijoutsen

Kuolemanlaakso_TulijoutsenThe voice of Swallow The Sun, Mikko Kotamäki is back behind the microphone with yet another band. this time, it is the crushingly heavy Finnish doom metal band Kuolemanlaakso. And it is fair to say that this sophomore release has restored my interest in doom metal after a period where my interest has waned in the sub-genre somewhat.

The recipe for this album is apparently quite straight-forward: make the guitar sound as heavy as possible and once that’s sorted, write some of the most crushing mid-tempo riffs possible. That said, a subtle use of keys and Kotamäki’s deviation from an uncompromising growl into cleaner territories both help to provide some measure of atmosphere and accessibility to counterpoint the otherwise suffocating and relentless heaviness. Reference points include Agalloch, Celtic Frost and, to a lesser extent, the aforementioned Swallow The Sun amongst others. sound interesting? You bet it does.

What I like most about ‘Tulijoutsen’ however, is the combination of relative simplicity and groove that, if you’re anything like me, will plaster a big fat grin on your face and have you banging your head regardless of whether or not you have hair. It has been a while since I have been this smitten by a doom metal record but Kuolemanlaakso have produced a fantastic album that should be heard by as many fans of the genre as possible – you’re unlikely to be disappointed.