Between trying to keep up with my metal life and personal life, this month seems to have flown the fuck away from under my feet! It seems like it was only yesterday when I was stumbling my way through March’s top albums, so you can imagine how difficult this list was, considering it nearly caught me by surprise!
This was a great month for power and symphonic metal especially. It was kind of lean in the folk department, but that isn’t to say that folk metal didn’t make its way onto this list!
As usual, most of these albums had reviews done for them, so if you want to see a more in depth analysis, click on the album titles in the headings.
10. Atlas Pain – Tales of a Pathfinder
Dropping the sails at Number Ten are epic power metal adventurers Atlas Pain with their second full-length album, Tales of a Pathfinder. On this worldwide expedition you’ll encounter folk melodies and influences from numerous world cultures, from the Far East to Oceania to the reaches of the West.
While Tales of a Pathfinder doesn’t really blaze any new trails, the use of rough vocals over such sickeningly uplifting arrangements dig out a nice little niche for Atlas Pain. Regardless of how original this album is, its contagious energy will certainly find its way into your heart.
9. Valence – Cognitive Dissidents
Shifting gears a little bit, Valence has some groovy instrumental prog to lay down on you. Cognitive Dissidents manages to climb above the mess of chaotic and pretentious prog metal by keeping the whole thing focused and fluid while jazzing around and maintaining a fun atmosphere.
The beefy guitar tones, eclectic melodies, and killer rhythm section are sometimes accompanied by string parts (which are all played by the band, by the way) to change up the feel. If you’re looking for something to nod your head to with the odd grin surfacing from time to time, this album will get the job done for sure.
8. Qantice – The Anastoria
Qantice’s The Anastoria is a massive display of symphonic wonder. Easily beating the aforementioned Tales of a Pathfinder in epic positivity, the breakneck speed throughout the entire record will have you so dialed in that you’ll be surprised an hour has gone by since you started listening. The orchestrations (often played by real life people) are incredibly rich and the parts are so numerous that you’ll be sure to find something new with consecutive listens.
This album already does a great job at separating itself from other similar bands, but the violin (courtesy of Alexandra Laya) makes it sound truly unique; she bows away on that fucking thing as furiously as the rest of the band plays. This neverending intensity almost makes it impossible to stop listening once you’ve started.
7. Manegarm – Fornaldarsagor
In their best album in probably a decade, Manegarm have something grand in Fornaldarsagor. While primarily a coarser folk metal work, there’s the usual inclusion of impending black metal elements, as well as some female and clean male vocals. While the formula of Fornaldarsagor is typical of Manegarm, far more care has been taken regarding the songwriting that the past three albums.
6. Deep Sun – Das Erbe der Welt
This futuristic sophomore album from the Swiss Deep Sun is as dynamic as its melodies are catchy (which is, in case you were wondering, very). Das Erbe der Welt is full of electronic keyboard sounds and a great female lead, but the highlight for me is definitely the rhythm section. Whether its in sharp shots or syncopated grooves, it carries out the job with direct, forceful purpose. There’s also a ton of variety for a band like this, so bonus points there, too.
We’re halfway there, but let me tell you: I had a lot of trouble putting the next five against one another. They’re all clearly in the top five, but it took quite a bit of deliberating (and relistening) to finally get them to where I think they should be.
Anyway, you don’t care about any of that; on to the top five albums of April!
5. Solarus – Darkest Days
Maybe it’s the sharp vocals. Maybe it’s the riffs. Maybe it’s the fucking madman on the drums. Or, maybe, everything simply comes together really, really well.
For a symphonic/power metal album, Darkest Days is a bit, well, dark. Nonetheless, the music retains a certain vigour that allows it to be easily received despite a slight edge.
While there are times where I can find something to compare this album to, Solarus manages to keep Darkest Days sounding individual and new without compromising anything. Add to this a crazy solid rhythm section, ripping solos, and a strong female lead, and you get an album that’ll remain on your metal playlist until the sun burns out.
4. Silverheart – Destination
Silverheart’s Destination is pure power metal to the core. It has the speed, uplifting melodies, and cheesy keys. However, something is missing: horribly overdone lyrical and musical cliches. Is this a bad thing? Fuck no.
Somehow, this Argentinian outfit has put together a power metal album that sounds neither derivative nor repetitive, instead fueling us with a clean, riff-heavy ember that has as many twists and turns as fire itself. There’s no shortage of surprises on this journey, such as the odd techno line, so make sure to set this album as your next destination.
3. Age of Artemis – Monomyth
Power prog Brazilians Age of Artemis have gone on their own quest for heroism in their latest album, Monomyth. And, surprise surprise, they’ve achieved it. Coming forth with improved skill, songwriting, and melodic formulas, the band have clearly managed to grow with time. The proggy breakdowns are super lively, and the pump up energy is constant. My favourite part, though, is the kickass drummer Ricardo Linnasi. There’s not a single time when he’s not doing something cool, and he’ll hit you with a sick groove when you least expect it.
In addition to all of the phenomenal musical aspects to the album, I actually think that the concept works. It’s too often that a band tries too hard to bring a concept album to life, but the whole “steps to becoming a hero” thing really works for Monomyth. Both the style and execution are very fitting, so Age of Artemis earn some bonus points for actually producing a clear concept that isn’t pretentious bullshit.
2. Tillian – Lotus Graveyard
This is pushing the metal boundary a little bit, but Ho. Ly. Fuck. I couldn’t not incude it. This debut album from the female-fronted Tillian is nothing short of spectacular. Lotus Graveyard is a passionate, dramatic, and fluid piece of prog rock/metal, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’ll amaze you.
While I have a ton to say about this album, I’d only end up regurgitating my review, so check it out if you want.
Regardless, listen to this album. Seriously.
1. Eluveitie – Ategnatos
Eluveitie have hit their peak in their eighth record, Ategnatos. It’s fantastically fluid for such a diverse folk metal album, and, while it retains the trademark Eluveitie sound, it’s a distinct experience from most of their other releases.
To say the least, it’s dynamic. The songs range from huge melodeath blast beats with rough vocals to softer, mournful tracks like ‘Eclipse’. There’s even a bouncy tune in ‘Ambiramus’ that’ll be stuck in your head for weeks (but don’t worry, you’ll welcome it). The broad instrumentation of this Swiss septet includes traditional instruments and shamelessly skilled drums, as well as three different vocal styles, my favourite of which are the versatile pipes of Fabienne Erni. The control she displays is insane and honestly, without her, the album wouldn’t have made it as my top pick.
Well, that’s it for this list! Make sure you throw these albums on some time, because they each have plenty to offer!
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