Insomnium – Argent Moon – EP Review

Artist: Insomnium

Album Title: Argent Moon EP

Label: Century Media Records

Date of Release: 17 September 2021

I find it quite amusing that neither of my favourite two melodic death metal bands at the current time hail from Sweden. After all, it was the Swedes that invented the genre. But no. Both Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium are Finnish. And, for my money, they are the best two proponents of melodic death metal in the here and now. Others push them close – I’m thinking Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates – but there’s something about the two Finnish bands that draws me in more than any others.

In 2019, Insomnium released the exquisite ‘Heart Like A Grave’, the follow-up to the highly acclaimed ‘Winter’s Gate’. Suddenly, the world at large woke up to the quintet’s charms and looked forward to hearing the band in the live arena in support of such a powerful record. But then the pandemic came along to scupper everyone’s plans. Not wishing to waste their time, Insomnium, like many other bands out there in the same predicament, instead turned their attention to creating some new music. The result is a four-track EP entitled ‘Argent Moon’, containing 23 minutes of brand-new material to help soften the blow of cancelled tours the world over.

And guess what? It has worked. I was a little underwhelmed at first, but I can put that down to fatigue, or simply not listening properly because when you let yourself really listen, you get swept up in the beautifully heavy soundtrack on offer.

The EP begins with ‘The Conjurer’ and with it, the soft, soothing sounds of acoustic guitar melodies bathe the ears in a warm, comforting glow. Subtle piano notes accompany the guitars, whilst a firm drum beat pushes it’s way into the mix. You can sense the song wanting to blossom and so it does. The acoustic guitars still strum pleasantly whilst an electric guitar sings mournfully and so beautifully, soaring into the sky with elegance. I love the gruff vocals; so powerful, so full of menace, yet perfectly in keeping with more punchy, resonant riffing. The song extends to over seven minutes, but it feels like two, as it is such a captivating experience. The track ebbs and flows effortlessly, from brutal passages to serene interludes where the acoustic guitars once again take centre stage.

Next up is ‘The Reticent’, a much shorter composition than its predecessor, but no less impactful for it. Again, it’s a quiet opening, allowing the track to build slowly but purposefully. The drums act like a heartbeat alongside the rumbling bass. And then in comes a clean vocal to offer something a little different. The buzz word for this review is ‘elegant’, because that’s exactly what Insomnium have delivered here – elegance. The flow from soft to heavy adds a palpable sense of drama to the overwhelming sense of sorrow that oozes from every melodic pore so beautifully.

The remaining two tracks, by and large, follow the same kind of blueprint – mind you, when the blueprint is this good, why change it eh? If anything, ‘The Antagonist’ lives up to its name very cleverly by being a more relaxed track for much of the time, only to explode at points to really hammer home the heaviness that Insomnium are capable of creating. The juxtaposition just serves to accentuate each side of the band more clearly, and of all the songs, this was the one that had to grow on me the most.

The final composition, ‘The Wanderer’ is a very poignant affair, once again beginning with some vibrant acoustic guitars atop a pulsing bass and bold drum beat. More clean vocals emerge, whilst there are a few spoken-word sections too. As the song progresses, the band make much more use of orchestration to add even more sophistication to proceedings, if such a thing was even possible. As well as adding sophistication, the sound of gentle strings in the mix help to ratchet up the emotional side of the song, leaving the listener with a bittersweet experience that just makes me want to press play and listen again, so I can discover it all over again.

You wanted evidence to back up my statement that Insomnium are one of the two best melodic death metal bands currently in operation? Well, ladies and gentlemen, doubters the lot of you, I present to you Markus Hirvonen (drums), Ville Friman (guitars), Niilo Sevänen (vocals, bass), Markus Vanhala (guitars) and Jani Liimatainen (guitars, vocals), collectively Insomnium, alongside their latest creation, ‘Argent Moon’. It’s the third recording in a row to deliver a truly scintillating performance from a band at the very top of their game. And on this evidence, it’s hard to imagine what wonders will come next.

The Score of Much Metal: 90%

Dessiderium – Aria

Cynic – Ascension Codes

TDW – Fountains

Hypocrisy – Worship

W.E.B. – Colosseum

Navian – Cosmos

NorthTale – Eternal Flame

Obscura – A Valediction

Nightland – The Great Nothing

MØL – Diorama

Be’lakor – Coherence

Hollow – Tower

Doedsvangr – Serpents Ov Old

Athemon – Athemon

Eclipse – Wired

Swallow The Sun – Moonflowers

Dream Theater – A View From The Top Of The World

Nestor – Kids In A Ghost Town

Beast In Black – Dark Connection

Thulcandra – A Dying Wish

Omnium Gatherum – Origin

Insomnium – Argent Moon EP

Kryptan – Kryptan EP

Archspire – Bleed The Future

Awake By Design – Unfaded EP

Cradle Of Filth – Existence Is Futile

Seven Spires – Gods Of Debauchery

Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb

Necrofier – Prophecies Of Eternal Darkness

Ex Deo – The Thirteen Years Of Nero

Carcass – Torn Arteries

Aeon Zen – Transversal

Enslaved – Caravans To The Outer Worlds

A Dying Planet – When The Skies Are Grey

Leprous – Aphelion

Night Crowned – Hädanfärd

Brainstorm – Wall Of Skulls

At The Gates – The Nightmare Of Being

Rivers Of Nihil – The Work

Fractal Universe – The Impassable Horizon

Darkthrone – Eternal Hails

Thy Catafalque – Vadak

Terra Odium – Ne Plus Ultra

Hiraes – Solitary

Eye Of Purgatory – The Lighthouse

Crowne – Kings In The North

Desaster – Churches Without Saints

Helloween – Helloween

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

Wooden Veins – In Finitude

Plaguestorm – Purifying Fire

Drift Into Black – Patterns Of Light

Alluvial – Sarcoma

White Moth Black Butterfly – The Cost Of Dreaming – Album Review

Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen

Bloodbound – Creatures From The Dark Realm

Nahaya – Vital Alchemy

Frost* – Day And Age

Obsolete Theory – Downfall

Vola – Witness

Acolyte – Entropy

Dordeduh – Har

Subterranean Masquerade – Mountain Fever

Seth – La Morsure Du Christ

The Circle – Metamorphosis

Nordjevel – Fenriir

Vreid – Wild North West

Temtris – Ritual Warfare

Astrakhan – A Slow Ride Towards Death

Akiavel – Vae Victis

Gojira – Fortitude

Hideous Divinity – LV-426

Benthos – II

Evile – Hell Unleashed

Ninkharsag – The Dread March Of Solemn Gods

Bodom After Midnight – Paint The Sky With Blood

Morrigu – In Turbulence

Mother Of All – Age Of The Solipsist

Throne – Pestilent Dawn

Sweet Oblivion (Geoff Tate) – Relentless

Exanimis – Marionnettiste

Dvne – Etemen Ænka

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Arion – Vultures Die Alone

Maestitium – Tale Of The Endless

Wode – Burn In Many Mirrors

Everdawn – Cleopatra

Unflesh – Inhumation

Mourning Dawn – Dead End Euphoria

Wheel – Resident Human

Wythersake – Antiquity

Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn

Metalite – A Virtual World

Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm

Ghosts Of Atlantis – 3.6.2.4

Memoriam – To The End

Aversed – Impermanent

Secret Sphere – Lifeblood

Enforced – Kill Grid

Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3

Turbulence – Frontal

Iotunn – Access All Worlds

Warrior Path – The Mad King

Stortregn – Impermanence

Mariana’s Rest – Fata Morgana

Orden Ogan – Final Days

Witherfall – Curse Of Autumn

Plague Weaver – Ascendant Blasphemy

Ephemerald – Between The Glimpses Of Hope

Paranorm – Empyrean

Einherjer – North Star

Epica – Omega

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde

Simulacrum – Genesis

Forhist – Forhist

Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix

Empyrium – Über den Sternen

Moonspell – Hermitage

Infernalizer – The Ugly Truth

Temperance – Melodies Of Green And Blue EP

Malice Divine – Malice Divine

Revulsion – Revulsion

Demon King – The Final Tyranny EP

Dragony – Viribus Unitis

Soen – Imperial

Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida

Oceana – The Pattern

Therion – Leviathan

Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound

Asphyx – Necroceros

W.E.T. – Retransmission

Labyrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus

TDW – The Days The Clock Stopped

Need – Norchestrion: A Song For The End

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Album of the Year 2019 – The Top 10

For the first time in several years, 2019 will not see your inboxes and social media timelines spammed by my epic and rather foolhardy top 20 or top 30 countdown series. I’ve simply not listened to, or reviewed, anywhere near enough music this year to make this a viable possibility.

Long-term readers of manofmuchmetal.com will know that 2019 has been notable for my absence. I’ve written openly and candidly elsewhere about the reasons for this, so I won’t do that again here. But suffice to say that there’s a big yawning gap between the end of January and the beginning of October, where there was nothing. No album reviews, no live reviews, no commentary. Nothing.

During this period, I did still listen to music and I bought a few albums along the way. But the promos that bombarded my inbox largely remained untouched; I couldn’t in all good conscience download them and listen for free, knowing full well that I’d not publish a review. I have ethics and morals after all.

So, whilst I have spent the last couple of months doing my best to catch up on the cream of the crop, reviewing as much as I have been able, a Top 30 of 2019 is way out of reach. Instead, I bring you this: a single post containing a brief overview of my favourite ten albums of the year.

I hope you enjoy it!

Number 10 =

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Insomnium – ‘Heart Like A Grave’

I tried to keep my top 10 to ten choices, I really did. However, in the past couple of days, whilst penning most recent review for manofmuchmetal.com, something clicked. And it was the realisation of just how much I now like ‘Heart Like A Grave’, the new opus from Finland’s Insimnium.

Despite purchasing the expensive mediabook version (it is a thing of beauty after all), it has been something of a slow burner for me. I immediately liked the music on the record, because who doesn’t enjoy a bit of epic Finnish melodeath? Especially at wintertime when the nights are long and cold. But it took until the last week or so to ascend that cliff and stand proudly at the summit. Eventually, the energy, the sense of the epic and the melodies become too damn good to ignore and the music really gets under your skin. A worthy addition to the list, even if their inclusion did lead to a bending of the rules!

To quote my review:

“There can be no argument…that the material on this album is of a very high standard, with professionalism oozing from every corner of the band. 

The longer you listen, the better ‘Heart Like A Grave’ gets, to the point where it is impossible not to get swept up in its grandiosity and brutal, bitter beauty. Insomnium have, right here, produced the best album of their career as far as I’m concerned. If you’re a fan of melodic death metal done the right way, ensure that you find a space in your collection for ‘Heart Like A Grave’. You’ll not regret it.”

Check out the full review here.

Number 10 =

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Avatarium – ‘The Fire I Long For’

This was one of the biggest surprises for me this year, in a year full of big surprises. I wasn’t shocked at the quality of the music on offer from Avatarium because, being familiar with their past output, I knew that these guys could write and perform quality music. However, I wasn’t expecting to like ‘The Fire I Long For’ quite as much as I did, because of all the talk about a lessening of the heaviness, less in the way of thunderous riffs, and a greater 70s rock influence. For my tastes, this was all bad news.

But I was wrong. I put off listening to it for as long as I could but when I eventually caved, I realised my reticence was a big mistake. It has been a constant companion over the past couple of weeks, with new things coming to the fore with each listen. It was at this point where I realised I had to find a place in this list for such a strong and engaging record.

To quote my review:

“Greatness and class will always shine through. And if ever there was an example of this, it’s Avatarium.

… the songwriting is incredibly strong. Whatever guise the compositions take, be it heavier or softer and more subtly nuanced, they just work.

…if quality music is what you crave, then make Avatarium’s ‘The Fire I long For’ the next addition to your collection. Immediately.”

Check out the full review here.

Number 9

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Mother Of Millions – ‘Artifacts’

An unknown entity prior to arriving at this record, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And, had it not been for the announcement that this Greek band would be gracing the ProgPower Europe stage in 2020, I’d probably still be blissfully unaware of their existence. But ‘blissfully’ is the wrong word because where Mother Of Millions are concerned, ignorance is definitely not bliss. On the evidence of ‘Artifacts’, this band deserves much more exposure and success than they currently enjoy.

Unusually for a progressive band, I was impressed from the very first listen. It was one of those experiences where I knew that I’d like it and like it more as time went by. The subtlety I knew, would eventually reveal itself and open up before me and by heavens was I right. And now, after further listens, it is unequivocally one of the best and most mature releases of 2019.

Note: since writing the review, I have found out that keyboardist Makis Tsamkosoglou  has tragically passed away. A fitting tribute then, that his final recorded performance should be on such a fantastic album. He will live on through his music for decades to come. RIP.

To quote my review:

“It is quite tricky to liken Mother Of Millions to their contemporaries, but certainly the likes of Leprous and Karnivool are useful reference points, but I do also hear whispers of other influences throughout. What I’d rather tell you is that this record is big on atmosphere, emotion, melody and it has a huge cinematic feel to it.

There is also a wonderful flow to the record, meaning that it feels smooth and enjoyable to listen to despite the darkness, sorrow, depth and subtle complexities that lie within the forty-odd minute run-time. 

If you are looking for an album that provides intelligence, subtlety, emotion and power, ‘Artifacts’ from Mother Of Millions is the record that you need. Right now.”

Check out the full review here.

Number 8

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Big Big Train – ‘Grand Tour’

This is the only album that features in my Top 10 that I have not reviewed this year. I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy and I really wanted this to be the album that released me from my writing block. So I listened to it time and again, enjoying it more and more with each spin. However, every time I came to write my thoughts down on paper, I drew a blank. I hope to review it in the fullness of time, but the fact that it features in my Top 10 should persuade you that this is an album out of the top drawer. Not that this is any real surprise because Big Big Train are incapable of creating anything less than excellent.

Their pastoral progressive rock blueprint remains largely untouched but the talented group of musicians seem able to create something new and exciting each and every time. I adore the upbeat positivity of ‘Alive’, a message that I needed this year and duly took on board. It’s a vibrant and gorgeous track that sets the tone for another superb record.

However, it is the two epics towards the end of the album that remain my favourites to this day and are the songs that elevate ‘Grand Tour’ into my top 10 for 2019. The sea shanty intro to ‘Ariel’ is ominous and captivating, whilst the final few minutes is pure theatre, as it drives with inexorable force to a stunning crescendo. ‘Voyager’ on the other hand contains the kind of central ‘chorus’ melody that rivals the best of the Big Big Train discography – this is a stunning track from start to finish and it gets more and more moving and powerful as time goes on.

Without doubt, this truly inspired record deserved a place in the top 10 and I just hope I get the time to give it the proper review it so richly deserves before too long. Big Big Train are easily my favourite progressive rock band around at the current time, they are truly that good.

Number 7

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Our Destiny – ‘Awakening’

What happens when you combine one of the best pianists I’ve ever heard with a beautiful voice? You get Our Destiny, a duo comprised of Vikram Shankar (Redemption, Silent Skies) and his significant other, Lauren Nolen. This isn’t metal, it isn’t even rock and so its appearance in my Top 10 should not have happened. And yet, it has and I’m delighted that it has because it demonstrates that I can appreciate music that doesn’t just bludgeon the listener to death.

There is a beauty in the simplicity of the material, allowing real depth of emotion and sincerity to shine through, as well as an all-too-obvious vulnerability and fragility. It is this latter quality that captivates me so much if I’m honest. There’s an incredible bravery from both Shankar and Nolan that puts most of us to shame as they lay themselves open for the world to hear. And yet, I adore the way in which there’s a sense of positivity and hope to the music that ultimately leaves me feeling uplifted and energised. If you’ve not already, take a listen and prepare to be as impressed as I am.

To quote my review:

“What it is, is a beautiful collection of songs that are part acoustic, part pop, part ambient, but completely seductive.

What I love about ‘Awakening’ is the purity of it. Every note is carefully thought-out yet organic-sounding at the same time. The rich melodies both wash over you and burrow deep within your soul to never let go. The atmosphere is bitter-sweet in that the music feels uplifting and warm, yet strangely poignant, almost melancholy in places.

When all around me is frenetic, full-throttle and largely fake, ‘Awakening’ is the soundtrack to keep me calm, grounded and focused on those things that matter most: human contact, relationships and pure, unadulterated love.”

Check out the full review here.

Number 6

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Odd Logic – ‘Last Watch Of The Nightingale’

The release of new Odd Logic material is always a cause for excitement in the Mansion of Much Metal. How on earth they can be so criminally overlooked remains a mystery, because over the course of the past three albums at least, the American outfit, spearheaded by Sean Thompson, has delivered some of the best and most refreshing progressive metal I’ve heard.

The brand of progressive metal that Odd Logic serve up is both familiar and original, with many unique embellishments and influences blending with a kind of ‘classic’ prog metal core. It is also properly heavy, with some chunky riffs, nice lead guitar work and some thunderous drumming at times. A worthy addition to my top 10 and all the sweeter because they deserve greater success.

To quote my review:

“It’s likely that Odd Logic will never take over the world, but regardless, they continue to make the music that they want. It’s a labour of love and I love this philosophy.

In simple terms, based on the quality of music on offer here, Odd Logic remain criminally unknown and underrated. Despite all of the considerable challenges they have had to hurdle, Thompson and Hanson have produced an album every bit as good as ‘Effigy’ or ‘Penny For Your Thoughts’. As previously stated, if I had to put my neck on the block, I’d say that this is their best release yet. And the even better news is that ‘Last Watch of the Nightingale’ is available on CD. I shall therefore be ordering mine…if you’re a progressive metal fan with any kind of taste at all, you’ll be doing the same. This is quite brilliant stuff!”

Check out the full review here.

Number 5

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Klone – ‘Le Grand Voyage’ 

The emotion and the authenticity of this release saw it sail into my top 10 for 2019. I’d liked previous efforts by the French outfit, but the sheer power and strength of ‘Le Grand Voyage’ very nearly floored me. The more I listen to it, and believe me, I’ve listened to it a lot, the more I fall for its abundant charms.

The choruses are, by and large, things of enormous beauty. The vocals are magical; packed with emotion, melody and sincerity, Yann Ligner’s gravelly grunge tone strikes a surprising chord with me. I simply can’t get enough of the intensity and darkness of the record, both of which clash brilliantly with the brief moments of hope and the waves of melody that hit at just the right time to briefly expunge the despondency.

I’m also a fan of the organic-sounding production that breathes life into the songs. When I reviewed ‘Le Grand Voyage’, I knew it would be high in my end-of-year list and now that I am writing it, I have been proved correct.

To quote my review:

“Do you know the feeling you get when an album just clicks? You know, that feeling that is accompanied by goosebumps, where your hairs stand on end, where you try to take the album out of the stereo or off the record player, only to fail miserably and press play again? Well that’s how I’m currently feeling about ‘Le Grand Voyage’ by Klone.

It never ceases to excite me when a band comes out of the shadows to blow me away; it is the magic of music and the thrill of a new discovery combining to dizzying effect. And, with ‘Le Grand Voyage’, Klone have created the album of their career to date and have made a very persuasive case for featuring in many an end-of-year ‘best of’ list.”

Check out the full review here.

Number 4

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Leprous – ‘Pitfalls’ 

Leprous are one of those bands that will find their way into an enormous amount of end-of-year ‘best of’ lists. But that’s because of one important thing: they are an exceptional band. Exceptionally talented musicians, exceptionally gifted songwriters and exceptionally brave when it comes to following their own convictions, and not giving a damn about what the outside world thinks. The proof? ‘Pitfalls’.

I’ve yet to hear a non-committal opinion of this record, as fans, critics and casual bystanders appear to be completely divided over this release. Some think it is sensational, others think it is awful. Or at least, not what they wanted to hear from a new Leprous album. I fall into the former category because I have no hesitation as I sit here now, to declare ‘Pitfalls’ easily the best record of the Norwegian prog band’s career.

I have always preferred it when Leprous allow some melody into their writing and with ‘Pitfalls’, you get plenty of melody to enjoy. Much of the album may not veer anywhere near traditional metal territory but, with vocalist/keyboardist Einer Solberg opening his heart and soul to reveal his inner mental demons, it is still an intensely heavy and dark collection of songs. I love the sincerity, the honesty and the willingness to try something new. To me, this is Leprous firing on all cylinders and I love it more with each passing day.

To quote my review:

“Challenging, heartbreaking, honest, deliberate, unique, individual, pure, anguish, mesmeric, enveloping, odd, unexpected, wonderful.

I shall declare that ‘Pitfalls’ is not a metal album. There are metal traits, accents, and there are a couple of songs that remain within the broad ‘metal’ framework. But ‘Pitfalls’ is, to my mind…different…

I’m drawn like a moth to a flame to this music; to Einar’s brutally honest subject…to the way the rest of the band are talented enough to know when to be restrained and when to unleash more flamboyance or raw power, so that the songs just work. I am certain that I will look back on ‘Pitfalls’ at a time of greater clarity and judge it to be a classic, a masterpiece.”

Check out the full review here.

Number 3

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Voyager – ‘Colours In The Sun’ 

Ah, Voyager. There’s no-one out there quite like them is there? By now, I’d hope that every reader of manofmuchmetal.com would be very familiar with Voyager, seeing as how I bang on about them with scary frequency. But I have reason to. It’s because this Aussie band are fair dinkum musicians and songwriters. Ever since I heard ‘The Meaning Of I’ a few years ago, I have followed their career with interest and can safely say that they have yet to release anything short of excellent.

‘Colours In The Sun’ is no different and, although it was a little more of a slow burner for me than past albums, it is now one of my very favourites. The blend of progressive metal with 80s synth pop works incredibly well, ably assisted by some professional and astute songwriting and an all-important sense of humour. When you refer you yourselves as “epic electro progressive power pop metal”, you can’t really take life too seriously can you?

But ultimately, it is the combination of fun, melody and positive atmosphere, coupled with an undeniably high level of professionalism and passion that makes ‘Colours In The Sun’ so superb. I cannot listen to this album without jumping up with a big smile on my face and dancing around the house. Voyager make me feel happy and you can’t put a price on that.

To quote my review:

“They have proved over the course of the past six albums that they are incapable of writing substandard material and the same can be said of this, their seventh studio release…

Every time ‘Colours In The Sun’ ends, I find myself thinking ‘what? Already?’ 

Every time I listen, time seems to speed up and before I know it, the better part of 45 minutes has passed. But more importantly, it has passed in a blur of utter enjoyment, of gratification and in the company of some of the best music I have heard this year.”

Check out the full review here.

Number 2

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Soen – ‘Lotus’ 

Had it not been for the release of a stupendous album from my all-time favourite band, ‘Lotus’ would have taken the album of the year title. And justifiably so, because it is a wonderfully entertaining and thoroughly professional record that delights and intrigues at almost every turn.

I have had the record in my collection for over six months and without a shadow of doubt, it is better now than it has ever been. It has taken a while but everything now just clicks into place and sounds incredible. It is the kind of album that you can play over and over again without getting bored – trust me, I know!

The melodies are so unbelievably strong and resonant; the pacing and flow of the record is just about perfect; the blend of intricacy and prog metal exactness, with the more organic elements is inspired and the whole album feels stronger for these pronounced differences that are merged so smoothly into a cohesive whole. ‘Lotus’ is a cracking album and thoroughly deserves it lofty position in my end-of-year list. Very nicely done indeed.

To quote my review:

“…alongside the very intricate progressive aspects, we’re treated to a greater dose of melody throughout, as well as an even more pronounced amount of ebb and flow, light and shade, and plenty of interesting textures, many of which take many listens to either hear or fully appreciate. Put simply, ‘Lotus’ is a sophisticated beast that benefits from the influences of old but manages to blend them into a final product that demonstrates an overall increase in their own identity.

And you’d think that by now, with so many repeated listens under my belt, I’d be getting bored of the nine compositions that comprise ‘Lotus’. Well you’d be wrong; if anything, I’m more beguiled and impressed than ever. I’m not sure that this record will ever lose its magic and that, right there, is a sign that I am listening to a very special album.

Poignant, melodic, technical, sublime. There’s no other way in which to sum up such an incredible album. Listening to ‘Lotus’ is like being in the presence of musical greatness.”

Check out the full review here.

Number 1

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Evergrey – ‘The Atlantic’

This has to be the worst-kept secret on the Internet as well as the most widely expected result of any competition or election this year. However, I make no apologies for this decision. There is a reason why Evergrey are my favourite band in the entire universe: they just write the kind of music that I love and I want to hear. And, when Tom Englund and Co. are on fire, they are really on fire.

With ‘The Atlantic’, they have delivered an album that is heavy, incredibly emotional, cathartic, memorable and utterly jaw-dropping. It seems like forever since it was released but I never tire of listening to it. At the time, it was the soundtrack to an intensely difficult period in my personal life and, because the subject matter echoed much of what I was going through, it really resonated with me, giving me strength when I felt like giving up.

To quote my review:

“For someone who considers ‘In Search of Truth’ the greatest album of all time, it says something when I happily declare that the opening trio of songs on this disc are three of the bands’ best ever. Truly world class, they simply leave me speechless and in awe.

You can always tell when Evergrey are firing on all cylinders, with one such indicator being the opening track to an album. In the past, we’ve had ‘The Masterplan’, ‘A Touch Of Blessing’ and ‘King Of Errors’ – all killer opening salvos. And with ‘The Atlantic’, we have the stupendous ‘The Silent Arc’.

For me though, it is the peerless ‘All I have’ that screams out to me as the very best six minutes on the album, maybe even in the entire career of Evergrey. This song is, put simply, utter genius.

…it isn’t just another Evergrey album. This is ‘The Atlantic’, arguably the very best of their career…I say this now without any fear of being proved wrong: ‘The Atlantic’ will not be beaten in 2019. It is utter, unequivocal and peerless genius.”

And, for once, I wasn’t wrong. There really was no other result possible. Ladies and Gentlemen – listen to ‘The Atlantic’, and bask in the aural delights of the best album of 2019, possibly of the decade…

Check out the full review here.

Insomnium – Heart Like A Grave – Album Review

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Artist: Insomnium

Album Title: Heart Like A Grave

Label: Century Media

Date of Release: 4 October 2019

Next up in my epic ‘2019 catch-up’ adventure is ‘Heart Like A Grave’ by Insomnium, a melodic death metal album that could have only come from the instruments and minds of a Finnish band. Sweden may have invented the ‘Gothenburg sound’ when it comes to melodic death metal, but Finland may just have stolen the crown when it comes to creating epic and melody-infused extreme metal.

Personal taste dictates that it has become insanely difficult to knock Omnium Gatherum off the throne right at the pinnacle of the subgenre but over the years, Insomnium are one of the bands that stands the greatest chance of upsetting the hierarchy. And, with ‘Heart Like A Grave’, the quintet from Joensuu have given me further cause to think.

Insomnium’s previous release, ‘Winter’s Gate’ was rightly lauded as being their best to date, with many declaring it as unbeatable. With such lofty praise being lavished over what was essentially an epic one-track album, the pressure must have felt quite intense. Or not, as the case may be, because any hint of nerves or a downturn in quality is quickly dismissed when listening to this, the eighth album in their career.

It would have been surprising had ‘Heart Like A Grave’ been similar in construction to its direct predecessor, because one-song records are a rarity and are usually created when there are greater forces at play; the pull of inspiration for example, or an inner desire that’s too strong to ignore. As such, it won’t come as a shock to learn that ‘Heart Like a Grave’ is much more ‘normal’ in terms of its delivery; you get ten distinct songs and a running time of just over the hour, so plenty of material for your hard earned cash. A couple more and lavish artwork as well if like me, you end up purchasing the glorious media book edition. I’m a sucker for a limited edition.

There can be no argument either that the material on this album is of a very high standard, with professionalism oozing from every corner of the band. With Jani Liimatainen now a fully enrolled member of the band, Insomnium boast three guitarists in their ranks and alongside Ville Friman and Markus Vanhala, they lay the foundations for what is an undeniably entertaining listening experience, without ever overpowering the listener; in fact, they come together nicely to create layers of melodies and plenty of dynamism within the compositions, everything from crunchy riffs to mournful lead breaks.

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Speaking of trios, ‘Heart Like A Grave’ is further enhanced by three vocalists. Joining the growls of bassist Niilo Sevänen and the clean vocals of guitarist Ville Frimen is the aforementioned newcomer Liimatainen. Together with Frimen, they combine to give greater scope to the clean vocal approach, introducing another welcome facet and increasing the melodic sensibilities of the band as a whole. An early example of this can be heard within the superb ‘Valediction’, which is a cracking track, utilising the dual clean vocals to great effect.

But it’s not all sweetness and light though, as tracks like ‘Pale Morning Star’ attest – whilst it might contain plenty of melody, well-placed acoustic guitars and an incredible sense of the epic, there’s also a pronounced black metal edge to much of the composition thanks to the blastbeats of drummer Markus Hirvnen and a dark, menacing undercurrent that is nectar to my ears. I find that melodeath works best when there is a sense of danger and trepidation, and this track provides an excellent combination of everything I enjoy.

It is also undeniable that there are a few nods on ‘Heart Like A Grave’ towards the recent output of Omnium Gatherum; whilst Omnium Gatherum refrain from using clean vocals, there is a familiarity with one or two of the melodies here and there, which echo the Karhula-based band. But that being said, I also hear the odd dash of early Amorphis (‘Neverlast’ for just one example) but overall, Insomnium have plenty to distinguish themselves in what is becoming quite a congested subgenre.

I worried at the beginning that there might be a slight issue on this album with variety and contrast as initially, many of the songs seemed to bleed into each other in something of a fuzzy blur. However, with repeated listens, I have decided that my early thoughts are simple tosh and piffle, the musings of a feverish mind, probably under the influence of too much alcohol or too little sleep. The more you listen, the more distinct the songs become and the more memorable and enjoyable they become.

Nevertheless, it is quite tricky to pick out further tracks for special mention because dips in the overall quality are few and far between. If there’s been a criticism levelled at Insomnium in the past it has been that early albums in particular suffered a little in the consistency stakes. I’d argue that ‘Heart Like A Grave’ is the most consistent record they’ve penned. But if my life depended on it, I’d mention the slower-paced behemoth that’s ‘And Bells They Toll’ thanks to the stunning melodies and excellent use of clean singing to mix things up within a track that’s of a generally slower pace than those that went before it.

Plus, I’d also mention the title track that starts off in magical fashion with a beautiful acoustic guitar-led melody and which just gets better as it develops, from the plodding riffs that get the head nodding forcefully, to the epic and rousing melodies that are accented by layers of clean vocals. In a way, this should probably have been the closing track rather than the beguiling instrumental ‘Karelia’ because it has the feeling of a closer and the way it makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck is just scintillating, especially when the lead guitar solo breaks through the gorgeous tumult.

The longer you listen, the better ‘Heart Like A Grave’ gets, to the point where it is impossible not to get swept up in its grandiosity and brutal, bitter beauty. Insomnium have, right here, produced the best album of their career as far as I’m concerned. If you’re a fan of melodic death metal done the right way, ensure that you find a space in your collection for ‘Heart Like A Grave’. You’ll not regret it.

The Score of Much Metal: 92%

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others from 2019:

Soen – Lotus
Avatarium – The Fire I Long For
Mother Of Millions – Artifacts
Meshiaak – Mask Of All Misery
Strigoi – Abandon All Faith
CyHra – No Halos In Hell
Klone – Le Grand Voyage
Vanden Plas – The Ghost Xperiment: Awakening
King – Coldest of Cold
Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
Port Noir – The New Routine
Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites
Ray Alder – What The Water Wants
Borknagar – True North
Leprous – Pitfalls
Myrath – Shehili
Prehistoric Animals – Consider It A Work Of Art
Voyager – Colours In The Sun
Odd Logic – Last Watch Of The Nightingale
Avandra – Descender
Darkwater – Human
ZW Band / Zonder Wehrkamp – If It’s Real
Teramaze – Are We Soldiers
Rendezvous Point – Universal Chaos
Our Destiny – Awakening
Evergrey – The Atlantic

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 9

Welcome to day 22 of my ‘Album of the Year 2016’ top 30 countdown. Thank you for sticking with me over the past month or so, the support has been brilliant and it gives me the inspiration to keep going.

From 30 to 10 so far, every single album featured so far has been worthy of a spot in this list, regardless of their size or popularity – that’s the Blog of Much Metal way! However the series is getting very serious now as we are nearing the final few hurdles to discover which album has made it to the summit of this year’s list. Who do you think will feature from here on in? What are your thoughts so far on the choices I have made? Are you beginning to think that there may be some glaring omissions from the list? Whatever your thoughts, please get in touch and tell me what you think – I love a good debate and a little good-natured banter too.

As always, if you are new to this series or if you just happen to have missed one or two of the instalments, you can find links to numbers 30-10 at the bottom of this page – please check it all out, you might just like it and even better, you might just discover your next favourite album.

And with that, let’s turn our attention to the main event – who has taken the number 9 slot?…

Number 9

OG cover

 

Omnium Gatherum
Grey Heavens
Lifeforce Records

 

“Ah, Omnium Gatherum. A band that have gone from being an ok melodic death metal band to arguably my most favourite band within the genre. These Finns really are a special outfit and with ’Grey Heavens’ they have once again proved how peerless they are.

What I particularly love about Omnium Gatherum is the way in which they don’t ever overdo the clean vocals. They do have a soft and gentle side and they do inject plenty of warm and memorable AOR melodies into their music. However, they never seem to lose sight of the fact that they are also an extreme metal band.

There’s really not much more to say about this record. It is exactly the kind of album that I hoped for from this talented group of musicians, a band that continue to grow and go from strength to strength. With ’Grey Heavens’, Omnium Gatherum have just increased their stock further and, for me at least, stand at the very summit of the melodic death metal genre.”

Read the full review here

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2016 has been a hugely strong year for metal of most styles. However, one of the best-served sub-genres this year is, without question, the melodic death metal scene, with a plethora of superb albums being released on an unsuspecting world. This is nectar to my ears though, because melodeath and I have a very healthy relationship. Some might even call it a love affair. But who am I to comment?

Call it what you will, but Finnish sextet Omnium Gatherum find themselves high up my insanely strong list this year thanks to their latest opus ‘Grey Heavens’. As has become their modus operandi, this cracking release reprises their unique blend of properly extreme metal and smooth, hook-laden AOR melodies. For someone like me, it’s a match made in heaven and yet again, Omnium Gatherum have delivered a masterclass. ‘Grey Heavens’ is the sound of a band at the height of their powers and manages to push their previous masterpiece, ‘Beyond’ all the way, something I thought would be virtually impossible.

The keyboard-driven atmospheres smother this release beautifully, helping to accentuate those huge melodies and counterpoint the extreme metal foundations to superb effect. There is a depth in the compositions as a result that helps to heighten the enjoyment and take Omnium Gatherum to the next level. From all-out extremity, to full-on groove and from mature songwriting to soaring melodies, ‘Grey Heavens’ has it all and it keeps on getting better too.

In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2016 – number 13
Album of the Year 2016 – number 14
Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 14

Hello and welcome to the latest post in my Album of the Year 2016 top 30 countdown, one man’s lone opinion in a tumultuous worldwide sea of opinions about music.

As I have said before, I am picking my albums based on one thing: the impact that they have made on me during the past 12 months. I don’t care if the artist is big, small, underground or more mainstream – it is the music that counts and that alone.

as a result, there will be choices that I make that some of you will disagree with and certainly some omissions that many of you will find glaring and unbelievable. However, I have spent the year listening to and reviewing as much music as it was humanly possible for one man to do properly. But I have missed things and there are definitely albums that have passed me by simply by coming along at the wrong time. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with my choices and stand by them wholeheartedly…I think!

If you want to read any of the other posts in this series, the links to these re at the bottom of this post – please feel free to check them out and comment appropriately.

And, with that said, let’s get on with today’s choice…

Number 14

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Insomnium
Winter’s Gate
Century Media Records

 

“As it turns out…‘Winter’s Gate’ is better than I ever really dared to imagine. It contains everything that I like in my extreme metal, namely strong melodic sensibilities, drama, intensity, frequent changes in tempo, texture and mood and an overall feeling that the band believe 100% in this work, that it is as honest as it is undeniably pretentious. And I don’t mean this last comment negatively either, because damn it, I love pretentious music if it has the substance to back it up.

Epic’ is a word used far too often in music reviews. However, ‘Winter’s Gate’ deserves this adjective. With it, Insomnium have arguably created their masterpiece, their tour-de-force. People will be talking about this record for years to come and rightly so. ‘Winter’s Gate’ has been created by a band at the top of their game …”

Read the full review here

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The thought of an album comprised of a single 40-minute track is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many. In a day and age where attention spans are eroding faster than the polar ice caps, it is a brave move to attempt such a feat in 2016. However, Finnish melodeathers Insomnium felt up to the challenge, duly releasing ‘Winter’s Gate’ as the vehicle for this ambitious endeavour.

Any concerns I had about this release were expunged within moments of pressing play for the first time. This isn’t some garage band producing something for a laugh, ‘Winter’s Gate’ is the real deal, released by a band who have proved that they have the musicianship as well as the song-writing know-how to succeed and succeed very well indeed.

This concept piece has been laced with rich and evocative atmospheres and creates more than enough drama to ensure that listeners become fully invested in the music. Passages of quiet introspection collide with moments of all-out aggression, whilst both gentle and grandiose melodies vie with segments that are far more non-conformist, spikier and less immediate. The whole thing comes together to do exactly what it is supposed to do, namely to tell a story and take the listener on a journey through the medium of doom-tinged epic melodic death metal.

Crucially, I’m as sold on this album as I was when it was released. That’s the hallmark of quality right there.

In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:

Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29

Welcome to day two of my ‘Album of the Year 2016’ top 30 countdown. If you missed the first post in this series, check it out here:

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

As I stated at the beginning of the last post, 2016 has been an incredibly strong year for my personal music taste. I have listened to countless new releases and have reviewed, in full, nearly 100 of the best. Whittling them down into a top 30 has been excruciatingly hard and even now, I’m still tinkering with the order and making 11th hour swaps.

In some cases, my opinion of the music has increased whilst in others, my initial love has waned disappointingly. As such, my final 30 contains a few surprises even to me. Mind you, going back and revisiting all these super albums has been a delight and is something I’ve enjoyed immensely. However, rest assured that every album that’s featured in this list is worthy of its place, whether it was released 11 months or 11 days ago.

So, back to the main issue at hand – what is today’s album of choice?…

Number 29

COVER SMALL

 

In Mourning
Afterglow
Agonia Records

 

“‘Afterglow’, the fourth album from In Mourning, is such a positive album because Messrs Tobias Netzell (guitars, vocals), Pierre Stam (bass), Björn Pettersson (guitars, vocals), Tim Nedergård (guitars) and former katatonia drummer Daniel Liljekvist have really come up trumps in terms of merging three or four key ingredients into a cohesive and believable end product. They take the crushing brutality of death and doom metal and blend it with mournful, elegant melodies, a progressive bent and a liberal dose of dark, foreboding atmosphere.

I am hugely impressed by what I have heard. There’s not a weak track anywhere to be found and the consistency of the song writing and indeed the execution is out of the top drawer…‘Afterglow’ is a damn fine record and is one of the finest melodic death/doom releases I’ve heard in a while, right up there with label mates October Tide and last year’s opus from Swallow The Sun.”

Read the full review here

Photo: Daniel Jansson
Photo: Daniel Jansson

This record was released back in May 2016 and, if anything, the more I listen to this album, the more I like it. ‘Afterglow’ made a big impact right away but it is one of those releases that actually gets stronger with time and repeated listens. It is particularly satisfying when it is returned to after a bit of a break because I find that the heavy and uncompromising riffs hit harder whilst the melodies and the dark atmospheres feel even more emotive and elegant.

Some six months on, ‘Afterglow’ really feels like a remarkably consistent record with plenty to enjoy throughout, most notably the progressive elements that keep the listener on their toes. However I have to admit that ‘Ashen Crown’ is the standout moment; I just love the juxtaposition between the heavy opening and the shoegaze-infused second half that sends shivers down my spine thanks to its subtlety and acoustic-led elegance that conveys real depth, emotion and poignancy, not to mention its uplifting overtones. That said, there are plenty of other fantastically mesmerising moments to be found littering this impressive album.

If you’re looking for an album that is brutal, sophisticated and dripping with dark atmosphere, make sure that you check out ‘Afterglow’ as it is easily the best and most accomplished release from this talented Swedish extreme metal band.

In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate – Album Review

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Artist: Insomnium

Album Title: Winter’s Gate

Label: Century Media Records

Date Of Release: 23 September 2016

I am a big fan of melodic death metal, a genre normally considered to be the preserve of the Swedes who helped to create the very movement. However, over the past few years, Finland have muscled onto the scene and produced some melodeath big hitters of their own. The likes of Omnium Gatherum, Mors Principium Est and Before The Dawn spring to mind to name just a few alongside the subject of this review, Insomnium.

In the case of Insomnium, I have always felt that their own brand of melodic death metal was a little different to others in that it is not afraid to incorporate different influences into the mix, including a slight black metal feel, strong melodic metal overtones and more epic, doom influences, occasionally drawing fleeting comparisons to the likes of their compatriots Swallow The Sun.

I, for one, was not surprised then when I heard that the new Insomnium album, ‘Winter’s Gate’ would be a 40-minute one-track concept piece, based around a short story composed by the vocalist & bassist Niilo Sevänen and inspired, in part, by Edge Of Sanity’s ‘Crimson’ record. I wasn’t sure in all honesty how it might end up sounding, but I was certainly intrigued and knew that if anyone could attempt such a feat and pull it off, Insomnium were, in theory, one of the bands capable of succeeding. Their flair for the dramatic and their ability to imbue their previous albums with rich atmospheres, bold aural soundscapes and a sense of the epic meant that they had a solid base from which to build.

As it turns out though, ‘Winter’s Gate’ is better than I ever really dared to imagine. It contains everything that I like in my extreme metal, namely strong melodic sensibilities, drama, intensity, frequent changes in tempo, texture and mood and an overall feeling that the band believe 100% in this work, that it is as honest as it is undeniably pretentious. And I don’t mean this last comment negatively either, because damn it, I love pretentious music if it has the substance to back it up.

If it isn’t executed in the right manner, longer pieces of music can easily become boring and akin to wading through treacle. With ‘Winter’s Gate’, the 2400 seconds just fly by. I have listened to the song several times now, each time approaching it with excitement rather than trepidation and not once have I found my mind wandering or descending into clock-watching for any other purpose than referencing the sections and movements that make up this composition.

In suitably fitting fashion, ‘Winters Gate’ opens to the cold and strangely melancholy sound of a buffeting wind out in the unforgiving wilds immediately communicating a sense of isolation and desolation. Before long, a quiet, haunting melody drifts in on the lonely stiff breeze. A sense of what is to come is crafted beautifully and then, after around 90 seconds, the composition explodes with serious intent. A blast beat from drummer Markus Hirvonen, imposing rhythm section rounded out by bassist Niilo Sevänen and frenetic black metal-esque picked riffing courtesy of Ville Friman and Markus Vanhala sit at the centre of the proceedings before things calm to a more measured tempo. All the while however, the melodic sensibilities are never far away, adding a layer of immediacy and accessibility to the music, albeit with undeniably harsh and sombre overtones. As opens go, this is genuinely epic-sounding, portraying a sense of drama and huge scope on which to build and develop.

A more groove-oriented melodic death metal vibe is evident in spades at around the five-minute mark, before ploughing back into frenetic territory, complete with enormous keys from Swallow The Sun’s very own Aleksi Munter that layer the music with a multitude of textures as well as lashings of atmosphere. It even sounds like there is a choir buried deep in the background, as the grandiosity builds to new heights.

As we near seven minutes, a heavily-affected spoken word vocal can be heard above a momentary lull in the aggression where acoustic guitars are audible for the first time. The acoustic guitars make a return a couple of minutes later after another blast of groove-laden and melodic riffing.

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The vocals take a different turn as we near the 10-minute mark, being clean-sung and emotive. However, the song quickly reverts back to that central riff, those choral sounds and the explosive blastbeats that continue to weave in and out of the composition with devastating effect.

After the preceding tumult, the song falls away into minimalist, almost ambient territory at the 12 minute mark. It creates a welcome juxtaposition and a nice respite before slowly rebuilding, led by some bold bass and drum work slightly Tool-esque in delivery. The keys are once again central, as the drama is slowly and deliberately increased, via delicate spoken word vocals as well as a soulful and melodic lead guitar embellishment.

The ensuing riff is ponderous but full of sinister intent, joined by gruff vocals full of malevolence. The Dissection-like lead guitar melody is brilliant, as the darkness is lifted marginally by more of those epic and rich synths that bathe this section in a grand cinematic glow.

Another acoustic section at the 19-minute mark, really reminds me of Swallow The Sun. The clean vocals offer a folk feel which then segues into a beautiful lead guitar-led melody, with a strangely upbeat feel, underpinned by yet more of those almost choral-sounding effects.

More superb clean vocals make an appearance and there’s another flamboyant and expressive lead guitar solo to usher in another heavy and melodic riff atop more of the hugely symphonic sounds and textures.

As good as ‘Winter’s Gate’ is up until now, at the 24-minute point, all I can say is ‘wow!’ Everything falls away to be replaced by a lone piano that plays a desperately sombre melody, the aural soundtrack to misery, despair and loneliness. Synths gently increase around the piano as there’s the palpable feeling that something is about to happen. And it does. Ushered in by a rumble of thunder, a crushing doom-like riff enters the fray along with some of the harshest vocals anywhere on the record. Swallow The Sun parallels are again drawn whilst I pick my jaw off the floor, set my face in some kind of hideous grin and allow goosebumps to appear everywhere. And yet, for all this, the music remains melodic and grandiose in scope, gently easing into a melody that shifts almost insidiously into something a little more positive, almost hopeful in tone.

We’re nearing the three-quarter mark at this point, but I’ve almost lost track of the twists and turns already offered from this gargantuan piece of music. It doesn’t end there either, and the band certainly don’t rest on their laurels. More aggressive riffs underpinned by bludgeoning and incessant blastbeats feature heavily as the composition nears its conclusion.

Earlier strong melodic refrains are reprised in the latter stages of the song, as well as an increase in the speed and intensity, with the keys coming back prominently. It’s hard to imagine such an epic track offering anything more epic to conclude but it very briefly delivers, as everything in the band’s armoury comes to the fore one glorious, final time. After that, it is up to the acoustic guitars, piano and calming synths to see the album out, leaving the final moments of the story to be told by the sounds of nature and those buffeting winds on the shores of a bleak and unforgiving expanse.

‘Epic’ is a word used far too often in music reviews. However, ‘Winter’s Gate’ deserves this adjective. With it, Insomnium have arguably created their masterpiece, their tour-de-force. People will be talking about this record for years to come and rightly so. ‘Winter’s Gate’ has been created by a band at the top of their game and thus stands at the pinnacle of melodic death metal and what this terrific genre can produce.

The Score Of Much Metal: 9.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

Seven Impale – Contrapasso
DGM – The Passage
Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 3

Welcome to the third and final part of my series looking at those bands & albums that I either know or hope will be released during the second half of 2016.

If you missed the first two instalments, here they are for your delectation:
Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 1
Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 2

So here goes with my final picks…

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
Century Media Records

insomnium coverAnother excellent Finnish extreme metal band, Insomnium put together a truly edifying and highly enjoyable racket. Death metal sits at the heart of what Insomnium are all about but this is then blended expertly with dark, doom and folk metal elements before being topped off with lashings of atmosphere and elegant melodies. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well it is and I’m very intrigued to hear the new album, ‘Winter’s Gate’ which is due out in the early part of September. I am even more intrigued now that I know that the album is a concept and made up of one single 40-minute track. It’s a bold move and extremely brave but I’m confident that the result will be worth the wait.

Amaranthe – TBC
Nuclear Blast

Amaranthe are one of those bands that seriously divide opinion. On the one hand, many metal fans will dismiss the output of this young outfit as vacuous, plastic nonsense, a synthetic hit of ear candy. To a certain extent, they’d not be too far wrong as much of the material owes more to pop music than it does to melodic death metal. However, delve more closely into the music and several things become abundantly clear: the vocalists are actually very good, the hooks and choruses are hugely infectious, the guitar work and strong rhythm section is out of the metal top drawer and the song writing is undeniably slick and nicely arranged. They were a guilty pleasure but more and more, my guilt is subsiding as I realise Amaranthe are a very good band indeed.

Darkwater – TBC
Ulterium Records

It feels like an absolute age since Swedish metallers Darkwater released their last album, the thoroughly enjoyable ‘Where Stories End’. It also feels like I’ve been putting Darkwater into these posts forever, whilst we wait patiently for new material to see the light of day. The follow-up was scheduled for a 2014 release but has slipped beyond 2015 into 2016…and who knows whether it’ll be released before the year is out. I certainly hope so. Whenever it arrives though, I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait and we’ll be treated to another excellent album full of synth-heavy epic, memorable and darkly-tinged melodic progressive metal.

Sound Of Contact – TBC
Lightyears Music Ltd

Rather foolishly, I omitted the debut album from Sound of Contact from my top 20 albums of 2013 and it is a decision that still haunts me given how often I return to ‘Dimensionaut’ for a dose of high quality melodic progressive rock. In my defence, time constraints meant that I didn’t get a chance to listen to it as much as I wanted at the time, but that’s no excuse. Sound of Contact offer some of the richest, most memorable and indulgent progressive rock of recent times, created by a talented and focused group of musicians. I’ve put this band into these kinds of posts seemingly for ages but solo projects by the members keep getting in the way. It has been confirmed that work has begun on a new album, but even I will admit that a 2016 release is more in hope than expectation. But we’ll wait and see.

Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
InsideOut Music

devincd[1]This is a name that needs no introduction. Devin Townsend is one of the hardest working and talented musicians within the rock/metal world. From Strapping Young Lad to the Ziltoid concept and everything in between, Townsend has managed to create some of the heaviest, richest, most beautifully soothing music I’ve ever heard. And none of it is anything short of brilliant. Reading the quotes directly from Townsend himself, he sounds excited by the new record, a release that has been written as a collective effort from all those involved. And, if Devin is excited by it, then I think we should too. The more I read about it, the higher the hopes I have for it.

Dimmu Borgir – TBC
Nuclear Blast

It has been very quiet in the world of Dimmu Borgir in terms of a new album. It has been six years since the Norwegian extreme metallers released ‘Abrahadabra’, so it’s about time! According to their social media updates, the band were undertaking pre-production back in December 2015 but since then, nothing further has been mentioned. I’ve been a fan of Dimmu Borgir and their over-the-top and grandiose black metal ever since discovering the remarkable ‘Enthrone, Darkness, Triumphant’ many years ago. Each release from Shagrath et al is a slick, professional affair where the final product shines through a powerful and crystal-clear production. The symphonic elements and grandiose bombast provide a majestic and theatrical sheen to what is, at heart, pretty bruising and uncompromising heavy metal. I’m definitely not alone in hoping that we see a new album during the remainder of 2016.

Hecate Enthroned – TBC
Crank Music Group

Whilst on the subject of black metal, Hecate Enthroned are one of those bands that I have a genuine soft spot for. They were heavily inspired by Cradle of Filth in that their compositions were full of Gothic theatrics, symphonics and more melody than you’d think on a first listen, partly disguised by a raw and challenging production. The band turned all death metal on us in the late 90’s and since then, the output from the UK band has not been prolific to say the least. However, I check in with the band from time to time to check progress and social media updates suggested back in May that the new album is moving onto the mixing stage. So maybe, just maybe I can enjoy some new Hecate Enthroned material very soon…

Subterranean Masquerade – TBC
Taklit Music

Septet Subterranean Masquerade is a truly international band boasting members from Orphaned Land, November’s Doom and Green Carnation. And as equally eclectic as the line-up in the music itself. The band fuse elements of 70s prog rock, folk, extreme metal, jazz, symphonic metal and world music whilst incorporating both clean singing and death metal growls. As you might imagine, the finished article can appear to be a daunting prospect initially and not for the faint-hearted. And yet, the music flows excellently, underpinned by some strong melodies and clever songwriting from the protagonists led by guitarist and founding member Tomer Pink. Seeing posts from Kjetil Nordhus (Green Crnation) heading off to undertake vocal recordings for a new album has be very intrigued and hopeful for a new album before the year is out.

In Mourning – Afterglow – Album Review

COVER SMALL

Artist: In Mourning

Album Title: Afterglow

Label: Agonia Records

Date Of Release: 20 May 2016

In Mourning is a name that that have flitted around the very edges of my consciousness for a few years now. ‘Afterglow’ however, takes the Swedish quintet out of my personal periphery and re-positions them at the very forefront of my mind. To put it another way, this is the aural equivalent of shouting in my face ‘like me, like me’. Well, it has worked, because I do. Very much.

Previous albums by the Swedes had been decent enough and pleasant, if ‘pleasant’ is an adjective that can be applied to a dark and doomy death metal band. ‘Afterglow’ is, in my opinion, another proposition entirely. It isn’t decent and it isn’t pleasant. It is, instead, rather excellent.

‘Afterglow’, the fourth album from In Mourning, is such a positive album because Messrs Tobias Netzell (guitars, vocals), Pierre Stam (bass), Björn Pettersson (guitars, vocals), Tim Nedergård (guitars) and former katatonia drummer Daniel Liljekvist have really come up trumps in terms of merging three or four key ingredients into a cohesive and believable end product. They take the crushing brutality of death and doom metal and blend it with mournful, elegant melodies, a progressive bent and a liberal dose of dark, foreboding atmosphere.

Opening track, ‘Fire And Ocean’ proves this beyond any doubt whatsoever. Chunky, heavy riffs, a driving beat, clever subtle melodic leads that are vaguely reminiscent of the likes of Daylight Dies and Insomnium, as well a surprising amount of groove combine to create a heady introduction to the album, especially when you factor in the occasional lead guitar solo and some truly satisfyingly gruff growls.

If anything, there’s an even more epic feel to the album’s longest track, ‘The Grinning Mist’, thanks largely to the expansive soundscapes created from the outset. The atmospherics make a bigger impact here and help to convey a slightly darker and altogether much bleaker sonic tapestry. There’s also room within the ten minutes or so for In Mourning to break out of their shell a little more and experiment with numerous different tempos as well as injecting more pronounced light and shade to increase the overall dynamics of the song. There’s even a brief introduction of clean vocals for added variety.

Credit: unknown
Credit: unknown

The opening two tracks are very good, but by track three, the magic really hits. ‘Ashen Crown’ begins in a similar fashion to its predecessors but just after the half-way mark something a curveball is thrown. The Katatonia-esque lead guitar melody and heavy, swirling riffs are disposed of. An undistorted guitar strums away and then the clean vocals appear once again, this time to dominate proceedings. It’s as if In Mourning felt an overwhelming urge to go all shoegaze and poignant on us. Elegant soft melodies and a piano join the party to help create a closing segment that feels both solemn and uplifting, with a fragile beauty that could break the resolve of the most cold-hearted of grown men. The song builds to a majestic crescendo, offering a vague sense of hope and light to the listener.

‘Below Rise to the Above’ begins in a manner not too dissimilar to the way in which its predecessor closed, with a quiet and intensely atmospheric opening, complete with haunting guitars and more clean vocals, albeit stronger-sounding and more assured this time. It isn’t long before the heavier riffs join in but by then, the die has been cast. As heavy the track gets, it retains that melodic core throughout. I love the stop-start, chugging off-kilter riffing and the way that the gruff vocals really come to fore, a wonderful counterpoint to the melodic and restrained tumult surrounding them. This track drips with atmosphere and the hairs on the back of my neck rise, particularly when the closing soulful, bluesy guitar solo kicks in. What a song.

The clean vocals do make further appearances, particularly during the penultimate track, ‘The Call To Orion’. However, the final three songs revert more overtly to the formula seen at the beginning of the record, each providing a more than favourable listening experience.

What I really admire about this record is the way in which the compositions are complex but in an unassuming way. It’s one thing to hurl a million ideas into the melting pot and emerge with an end product that is a muddled and unfocused mélange of sounds and ideas. It’s an entirely different skill to create complex music that sounds smooth and not at all daunting. And with ‘Afterglow’, In Mourning have succeeded handsomely. Yes it is heavy, intense and raw in places but the whole thing flows very nicely nevertheless.

As the final notes of ‘Afterglow’ assault the senses, I am left with two primary thoughts. Firstly, I am hugely impressed by what I have heard. There’s not a weak track anywhere to be found and the consistency of the song writing and indeed the execution is out of the top drawer. However, featuring just seven tracks, I kind of hope for just one more song. To be entirely fair, there are no quick instrumental intros, outros or interlude to act as padding and the album does last for 55 minutes, so you’re not short-changed. It’s just that ‘Afterglow’ seems to end all too quickly somehow. Maybe that’s a good thing?

That aside though, there isn’t much to find fault with here. ‘Afterglow’ is a damn fine record and is one of the finest melodic death/doom releases I’ve heard in a while, right up there with label mates October Tide and last year’s opus from Swallow The Sun. Highly recommended.

The Score Of Much Metal: 9.0

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – TripsOctober Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens – Album Review

OG cover

Artist: Omnium Gatherum

Album Title: The Grey Heavens

Label: Lifeforce Records

Date Of Release: 26 February 2016

Ah, Omnium Gatherum. A band that have gone from being an ok melodic death metal band to arguably my most favourite band within the genre. These Finns really are a special outfit and with ’Grey Heavens’ they have once again proved how peerless they are. That said, the sextet will say that they are fundamentally different from the rest of the genre and, to a greater or lesser extent, they would be right to say this. The band refer to themselves as ’adult-oriented death metal’ thanks to the blend of extreme metal and AOR-inspired melodies. Of course, the whole idea with melodeath is to fuse catchy melodies and hooks with extreme metal but there is something fundamentally different about Omnium Gatherum. It is almost intangible but it is like their style of songwriting is just that little bit more sophisticated and honed than the vast majority of their peers.

I remember the moment that I fell in love with Omnium Gatherum like it was yesterday. I was taking the dog out for a walk and was on about the fifth spin of previous album ’Beyond’. Something just clicked, like a moment of enlightened euphoria and from then on, I have been thoroughly smitten. ’Beyond’ ended 2013 as my second favourite album of the entire year. My love of ’Grey Heavens’ blossomed in almost identical fashion; out with the dog again but, rather than one song bowling me over, it was more the vibe of the whole record, the sounds, the mood, the atmosphere. The smile spread and once again, I have found myself well and truly hooked.

Omnium Gatherum 2016 is untouched from the previous record and is therefore comprised of vocalist Jukka Pelkonen, guitarists Markus Vanhala (Insomnium) and Joonus ’Jope’ Koto (To/Die/For), keyboardist Aapo Koivisto, bassist Erkki Silvennoinen and drummer Jarmo Pikka. And, based on the output of ’Grey Heavens’, this continuity has paid massive dividends.

Credit unknown
Credit unknown

The blueprint for ’Grey Heavens’ is very similar to its predecessors but if anything, it is a little harsher, a little heavier and a little bit darker. It may be a trick being played on my ears but ’Beyond’ just felt a touch more positive, a little lighter and ever so slightly softer around the edges. Personally though, it is difficult to pick a favourite between the two because both are magnificent.

Instead of an anthemic introductory instrumental, ’Grey Heavens’ wastes absolutely no time in blasting away any lingering cobwebs for the listener. ’The Pit’ is a blood and thunder opener that takes no prisoners thanks to its fast pace, double-pedal drumming and gruff vocals from the outset. Before long though, those unmistakeable synths enter the fray, bringing with them a groovy riff and really nice intricate lead guitar embellishments. And then, at the half-way mark, the track slows to allow a soulful lead guitar solo and some superb clean vocals, almost choral in nature rather than a single voice. The pace quickly increases again and the song races to a conclusion. An exquisite opener.

In contrast, ’Skyline’ is a groove-monster, reminiscent of early In Flames in terms of the guitar riff and the cheekiness with which the composition is imbued. I defy anyone who likes quality metal not to listen to this track without a big grin on their face; it’s that kind of song.

’Frontiers’ opens with a big atmospheric keyboard intro before a chugging stop-start riff joins the fray. The keys are instrumental in creating the central melodies on this track and, coupled with a emotive lead guitar line, create an infectious and subtly beautiful chorus. At the half way point, everything quietens to allow the keyboards to take centre stage alongside some hushed clean vocals again, before the song is ushered out via a cracking but all-too-short lead guitar solo.

What I particularly love about Omnium Gatherum is the way in which they don’t ever overdo the clean vocals. They do have a soft and gentle side and they do inject plenty of warm and memorable AOR melodies into their music. However, they never seem to lose sight of the fact that they are also an extreme metal band. As such the wonderfully gravelly and low bass rumble of Pelkonen is almost ever-present, with those subtle clean vocals only added sparingly when absolutely necessary. This also means that there’s no danger of Omnium Gatherum descending into that dreaded emo or metalcore territory.

As with the last few albums, the Finns include a longer, epic track into proceedings. This time, it is present in the form of the delectable ’Majesty And Silence’. One of the most striking aspects of this track is the inclusion of acoustic guitars to such an extent. This is a more atmospheric and sprawling number that features some achingly beautiful melodies as well as something approaching a progressive metal structure as it shifts from one idea to another, flitting from light to shade, heavy to soft and melodic to harsh seemingly at will. The vocals even veer into more black metal territory at one point. As the title suggests, this is a majestic track, one of the album highlights, of which there are many.

Elsewhere, I love the bright and breezy feel of ’Foundation’ and the almost power metal leanings of ’The Great Liberation’ that also has a faint Children Of Bodom hint to it as well as an absolutely killer last ten seconds. ’Ophidian Sunrise’ reintroduces the acoustic guitar alongside some of the best melodic moments on the album, the instrumental piece ’These Grey Heavens’ is nothing short of sublime in terms of the bittersweet atmosphere it creates and closer ’Storm Front’ concludes the album as it began; fast, furious, heavy and powerful.

There’s really not much more to say about this record. It is exactly the kind of album that I hoped for from this talented group of musicians, a band that continue to grow and go from strength to strength. With ’Grey Heavens’, Omnium Gatherum have just increased their stock further and, for me at least, stand at the very summit of the melodic death metal genre.

The Score Of Much Metal: 9.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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