Elvenking Release Third Single Of New Album

Elvenking’s Reader of the Runes: Divination is less than a month away. Fortunately, we’ve received the third single of the album. ‘Divination’ displays a bit more of the traditional Elvenking sound than their previous two singles.

Make sure to pick up Reader of the Runes: Divination when it comes out on 30 August!

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Top Ten Metal Albums Of July

It’s that time again! As is typical, July was more lean than previous months, but there was still plenty to check out!

10. TraumeR – History

Even though it’s already been out in Japan for just over a year, TraumeR’s third record, History, is finally ready to be heard by the international power metal community. While it doesn’t venture too far from the power metal norm, History will still be a hit for any fan of the genre. Soaring vocal lines, tight rhythm section, fast-paced double kicks; at the end of the day, these are the things that are looked for in a power metal album, and on this front, TraumeR deliver.

Full Review

9. Mind of Fury – The Fire

If you haven’t already listened to The Fire, then I’ll give you the following advice: start with the third track, and then come back to listen to the first two if you so desire. Seriously. I nearly gave up on this album because the first two songs are pretty rough. However, the other eight songs are really good, so I’m glad I gave the rest a chance.

Mind of Fury is a heavy metal band from the US with a brand of metal that is a solid mixture between catchy hard rock hooks, fast-paced power metal beats, and a classic metal aesthetic that gives the whole thing a gritty, rugged feel. There’s a really good amount of variety among the tracklist, including a phenomenal instrumental, ‘The Champion’. It’s also worth mentioning that there are only single-tracked guitars, so the bass actually has to hold the foundation during solos (which are fucking awesome, by the way), which it does very well.

8. Velesar – Dziwadla

It’d been a while since I’d heard a really good folk metal album, so you can imagine my excitement when I first heard Velesar’s debut a couple weeks ago. Dziwadla incorporate various European folk melodies into its three main leads: throaty vocals, flute, and violin. The backing guitars and drums keep the energy flowing. This is by no means a unique folk metal makeup, but the execution and songwriting keep Velesar fresh and well above other bands in the space.

7. Valis Ablaze – Render

Valis Ablaze’s sophomore record Render is primarily made up of groovy riffs and fluid pop-punk vocals. You’d be hard-pressed to find a passage that isn’t driven by some intricate 16th-note groove, so if you’re a fan of bouncy, djenty prog metal that you can feel in your stomach, this one’s definitely for you.

While Render‘s sound isn’t necessarily unique, Valis Ablaze offer a certain intensity that separates them from the crowd. This is a kickass album that demands the listener to move with it.

6. Mind Key – Mk III – Aliens in Wonderland

After a decade of absence, Mind Key’s comeback album is a prog metal powerhouse. Mk III – Aliens in Wonderland is full of power metal and 80s pop influences, making the album’s music as pleasingly colourful as its album artwork. Mind Key also favour a clear, cohesive sound over too much flare, which allows for a steady balance throughout the album.

Full Review

5. Desert – Fortune Favors the Brave

The third album by war metal warriors Desert is a harsh attack of heavy/power metal. With the highlight of this record being the incredible guitarwork, the rhythm section has nearly as much to offer in terms of ferocity. Fortune Favors the Brave manages to legitimately earn the title of “war metal” through a unique, raw sound that’s driven by a huge guitar sound, clashing riffs, and badass lead vocals that push the music with backbreaking force.

Full Review

4. Turilli / Lione Rhapsody – Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution)

Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution) is the latest brainchild of the aforementioned multi-instrumentalist and composer, Luca Turilli. As such, it’s (as expected) full of cinematic orchestrations, destructive synth lines, huge riffs, and vibrant arrangements. Oh, and we can’t forget about those ridiculous, facemelting, virtuoso guitar solos. Along with Turilli’s magic fingers and Lione’s pipes, Zero Gravity also features other members of the Rhapsody universe: guitarist Dominique Leurqui, drummer Alex Holzwarth, and bassist Patrice Guers. These Rhapsody-ers, with all of their combined might, have created a monster of an album.

Full Review

These next three albums took longer to figure out that the entire rest of the list. So, rather than read them “3, 2, 1”, it’s actually something closer to “1.3, 1.2, 1.1”.

That’s the same thing, you say? Whatever. Just know that they’re all really close in ranking.

3. Control the Storm – Forevermore

Forevermore came way the fuck out of nowhere this month. I was actually in the middle of making this list when I chanced upon it, and I had to bump another album off. But you don’t care about any of that; you just care whether or not it’s worth listening to.

And, let me assure you, this album is incredible: female-fronted power metal at its finest. Behind the versatile lead vocals, orchestrations, keys, and vocal harmonies fill the spaces, alongside a killer rhythm section. The arrangements are dynamic and exceptionally written and, if that isn’t enough for you, the guitar solos are just ridiculous. If you haven’t heard of them before, you need to go listen to Control the Storm’s stuff right now.

Full Review

2. ShadowStrike – Legends of Human Spirit

Legends of Human Spirit is probably the strongest power metal debut of the entire year. It’s insanelyfast, vibrant, true power metal to the core. It’s really as simple as that. ShadowStrike, hailing from New York, have busted out of the gate with a DragonForce-influenced sound that manages to steer clear of being too derivative, delivering a unique, shredtastic album.

Part of the driving force of this individuality is the band’s tasteful use of symphonic elements (I would never consider this album “symphonic metal”, though) as well as sophisticated song arrangements. With nothing short of excellent on the record, ShadowStrike have quickly become one of my favourite power metal bands, ever.

Full Review

1.Sabaton – The Great War

Amidst the salvo of excellent albums this month, Sabaton’s The Great War stands above the rest. While I did only score this album an 8.5 (mostly because of some reusage of older material that’s typical of Sabaton), for myself, this album is a 10; it’s everything I want in a Sabaton album, plus more. On top of that, compared to any other album on this list, it’s the one I’ll relisten to the most.

With ten pounding, ultra-anthemic heavy metal tracks and a beautiful choral closer, there’s a fair amount of variety (by Sabaton’s standards, anyway) that will especially please the diehard fan. There’s also a hefty dose of epic choirs, as well as some classical details that add some sophistication to the album. Combine this all with the best drumming that’s ever been seen in a Sabaton record and you’ve got yourself a seriously strong album of the month!

Full Review

Let me know if one of your favourites didn’t make the cut. Maybe I missed it!

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Týr – Hel Review

Written by Dungeon Shaker
Score7/10
GenreProgressive Folk Metal
CountryFaroe Islands
Runtime1:09:53
Release Date8 March 2019
Record LabelMetal Blade

Tyr is a band I have long held in high regard. The sound Heri Joensen has developed over the last twenty years has been flirting with perfection for a decade now. Valkyrja, released in 2013, has rightfully earned the lauded and elusive title of a masterpiece. Hel has the unfortunate distinction of following up that modern classic. The laborious six-year gap between releases feels almost strategic as Hel has a bit of a dark side: its length. Regardless, the important thing is that there is finally another Tyr record, and that is worth celebrating.  

The Heri Joensen-led act from the far-flung Faroese Islands expertly molds elements of progressive, folk, and traditional metal with viking metal themes. Heri’s approach to composing viking metal is far subtler and tactful than many of his contemporaries. Traditional Faroese folk melodies are adopted as a melodic base, revised, and deeply interwoven into the songs. A welcome and unique coloring of melody. The result is a sound which is extremely distinctive and comfortably familiar. 

Hel’s highlight is the ‘Ragnar Kvæði’ and ‘Garmr’ duplet; each showcases Heri’s brilliant use of melody in two distinct manners. ‘Ragnar Kvæði’s’ beautiful choral opening introduces the track’s dominant musical theme: variations on the vocal arrangement heard in those opening moments. A somewhat somber and epic mood is created as its instrumentation plays around Heri’s layered vocal work, itself a brilliant example of how a relatively standard-structured song can be transcended.

‘Garmr’, on the other hand, is entirely structured around its arrangement; numerous tempo changes allow Heri’s vocal lines to essentially dual with the numerous lead guitar breaks throughout the track. ‘Garmr’ does follow a pretty standard structure but the back and forth tempo changes create a sense of urgency, especially as the recurring lead breaks are all rooted in a similar and often the same melody. A shining example of that lead guitar parts can and should be used to accent thematic elements, without having to rely on virtuosic showmanship.  

‘Ragnar Kvæði’ and ‘Garmr’ are both two of the finest tracks Heri has penned for Tyr, and both are serious contenders for the best song of 2019. Yet Hel, an overall good release, is lacking in great tracks. Apart from the aforementioned, ‘Empire of the North’ and ‘Sunset Shore’ are the only other songs that flirt with greatness. Moments of brilliance are of course littered throughout the album’s massive seventy-minute runtime, namely ‘Fire and Flame’s’ flamboyantly Iron Maiden-inspired solo section. The task of having to labor through numerous good, albeit unmemorable songs can be rather off-putting, especially once the hour mark is reached. 

Hel is a very good album, but it is hampered by its excessive run time. The die-hard Tyr fan will find much to dissect and enjoy. I’ve lived with it for almost six months now and I am still unpacking it. Hel is simply a record with too many ideas spread across too many songs. Still, if you listen to only two new songs this year, make sure those are ‘Ragnar Kvæði’ and ‘Garmr’. 

Skál!

Dungeon Shaker has been an avid fan of the metal for almost two decades now. A simple journey that began with a cassette of The Black Album, has blossomed into a lifelong obsession. A lover of all genres of metal, collector of vintage (metal) vinyl, and a soon to be historian by trade. Dungeon Shaker runs his own personal blog, thunderousvoices.com, itself a menagerie of heavy metal writing.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Favorite Bands: Blue Oyster Cult, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Tyr, Running Wild, Moonsorrow

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Ariel Perchuk’s Odyssey Announces New EP

Argentinian progressive power outfit Ariel Perchuk’s Odyssey have announced that a new EP will surface soon. Aside from the title, Storm, and the album artwork, no further details have yet been revealed.

Ariel Perchuk’s Odyssey was founded in 2016 by (you guessed it) keyboardist and composer Ariel Perchuk. The group’s debut, Eastern Symphony, was released in January and mixes Middle Eastern folk music with neoclassical power metal compositions. So, if there’s one thing we can expect from the upcoming Storm, it’s sick keyboarding and a unique metal flavour.

Go follow the band on Facebook!

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Heilung – Futha Review

Score9/10
GenreNeofolk (Amplified History)
CountryDenmark
Runtime1:13:34
Release Date28 June 2019
Record LabelSeason of Mist

After the near-instant success of their debut, Heilung have returned with Futha. The band’s music tries to pull the listener into the spirit of Iron Age Northern Europe to a time before the spread of Christianity and Western political ideology. They reflect this by using unconventional song structure, unsettling execution, and maintaining an ancient pagan atmosphere. However, Futha differs from its predecessor in one core way; where the masculine Ofnir took a lot of musical and lyrical inspiration from inscriptions on armor and weapons, the feminine Futha takes from ancient Icelandic poetry and healing spells.

Before we dig into the album, let me begin by saying that, if you have neither the time nor patience to listen to this album in its entirety in one sitting, wait until you do. Darker trance music like this is really meant to be listened to all at once, so if you decided to break it into numerous sittings, you’d only be robbing yourself of a phenomenally unique experience. Oh, and it’s even better if you listen to it in the dark.

Even among other neofolk bands, Heilung are in a league of their own. Their sound is far more haunting and experimental than bands like Wardruna or Danheim but, as far as melody and droniness go, they sit somewhere between these and the ambient Draugurinn. Furthermore, in Futha, the emotions are amplified to such extremes that you can expect to feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow or despair in a few spots, as well as goosebumps during its intense climaxes.

And it’s for this reason that it’s far more difficult for me to review a piece of music like this than it is to review a metal album. This music is about feeling and emotion rather than entertainment, so it almost feels wrong to score it anything other than “Yes, it made me feel,” or “No, it made me bored,”. But, as you can already see, I’m giving it my best shot, so fuck it.

Now, let’s look at Futha‘s actual contents. On the low end of things, there are a few purely spoken passages, which unfortunately took me out of the zone a couple times (namely, the demonic speaking in ‘Elivagar’, which brought me out of it twice). They aren’t all bad and they usually do a good job at constructing an atmosphere, but it’s a bit excessive at times. However, this is all more than made up for with the cascade of chanting, passive percussion, and numerous vocal styles such as horrifying growls, throat singing, female vocals, and disorienting shrieks. Every song begins with a low ambiance and then builds upon it with new layers of these different elements like the crescendo of a midnight wind through a primordial forest. (And there it is, ladies and gentlement: the most pretentious simile I’ve ever written.)

The key to Futha‘s success lies in its repetition. Its songs don’t often contain more than one or two parts, but the occasional addition (or jarring introduction) of a new part will keep you stimulated while you’re entranced by whatever recurring chant has the stage.

All in all, this album made me feel all sorts of weird shit, so I’d say it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to. Not only that, but it does so without me understanding a single fucking word that’s spoken in it, which I would consider a trait of true music. With only two albums to their name so far, Heilung have proven that they are masters at weaving a mesmerizing tapestry and that they aren’t just another tryhard ambient band. Futha is an absolute gift and you owe it to yourself to shut off for a while to listen to it.

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New Singles From NorthTale, Elvenking, Korpiklaani

It’s been a big Friday! Check out these new singles from three big bands.

NorthTale – Shape Your Reality

NorthTale is a power metal project featuring former Twilight Force frontman Christian Eriksson and other prominent power metal musicians. ‘Shape Your Reality’ is taken from their upcoming album, Welcome to Paradise, which will be released on 2 August via Nuclear Blast.

Elvenking – Silverseal

The second single from the upcoming album of folk metal veterans Elvenking is ‘Silverseal’, which takes the band into slightly new territory. Reader of the Runes: Divination is set for release on 30 August under AFM.

Korpiklaani – Pivo Pivo

Folk metallers Korpiklaani have released a new version of the song ‘Beer Beer’ in Polish, from the Beer Beer CD of their latest album, Kulkija.

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Battle Tales – Lè Lèjande Dè Vêr No Review

Written by Dungeon Shaker
Score9/10
GenreFolk Metal
CountrySwitzerland
Runtime28:09
Release Date28 June 2019
Record LabelIndependent

I love to travel, but like many, I don’t retain the financial means for frequent, extensive travel. Also, like many, I turn to art, history, literature, even folktales, to experience distant lands and cultures across time. Thus is the appeal of folk metal, at least for me. The weaving of exotic folk melodies and instrumentation into a genre of music –metal – that I love so much can itself be a cultural experience.

I was only recently introduced to Switzerland’s Battle Tales through Lè Lèjande Dè Vêr No (Tales from Our Country). The EP’s cover, albeit slightly clichéd, is strikingly gorgeous. I am always partial to high fantasy concepts rendered through traditional methods. The digital age has sadly robbed us of the potential for some great artwork, and I am glad to see that painted album covers are mounting a comeback. The dragon may be nothing more than a simple injection of high fantasy, but the medieval city set among a mountainous terrain illustrates the EP’s musical direction. Not only did this cover invite me in, but it also foreshadowed an intense musical impact.

The mark of a truly great band is the ability to employ melodies which furnish an emotion, intention, and/or concept. A common pitfall within folk metal is the clichéd over application of regional folk melodies. Battle Tales implementation of local melodies is the foundation of the band’s grandiose sound, while thankfully avoiding the aforementioned pitfall. For example, the variation of the simple recorder melody that anchors the bulk of ‘Le Lac Noir’ magnifies the song from a simple romp into a track reminiscent of early Ensiferum greatness.

The band’s sound is rooted in just that, early Ensiferum. A slight deviation from this formula is the interplay between the classical influences, namely the orchestrations and choral arrangements that are utilized to propel an epic soundscape, see ‘Othon d’Everdes.’ Whereas Ensiferum was/is more guitar driven, Battle Tales is comfortable with their more melodic charge. The guitar work while simple in its application, is relaxed when in a supporting role, which allows the band’s folk instrumentation to shine. The higher registers the guitar work adopts when at the forefront, whether that be a solo or the harmony-less Iron Maiden esque riff in ‘Le Lac Noir,’ are among the highlights of the EP.  

Battle Tales, having chosen to deliver this EP solely in their native language is a rather bold statement, especially for such a young act. The absence of lyrical storytelling –at least for non-French speakers– places a heightened emphasis on the story as told through its music. The soundscapes the band crafts harken medieval imagery that accents the folklore in the storytelling. I couldn’t help losing myself in a time and place I can only dream of, even without lyrical support.  

On Lè Lèjande Dè Vêr No Battle Tales delivers an EP which isn’t overly extravagant, but one that relies on well-crafted songs to tell their folk tales. Albeit a mere extended play, it has been more impactful than many full-lengths released this year. I am excited to see this band continue to develop their skills as musicians and songwriters. I am just as excited at the prospect of returning to Battle Tales’ little corner of Switzerland. Lè Lèjande Dè Vêr No is an EP I’d wager would make Jari Mäenpää circa 2004 proud. I now count myself as a fan of this band, and you owe it to yourself to join me in that fandom.

Battle Tales – Lè Lèjande Dè Vêr No (Full EP)
Dungeon Shaker has been an avid fan of the metal for almost two decades now. A simple journey that began with a cassette of The Black Album, has blossomed into a lifelong obsession. A lover of all genres of metal, collector of vintage (metal) vinyl, and a soon to be historian by trade. Dungeon Shaker runs his own personal blog, thunderousvoices.com, itself a menagerie of heavy metal writing.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Favorite Bands: Blue Oyster Cult, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Tyr, Running Wild, Moonsorrow

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New Album Details From Wind Rose

Dwarven metallers Wind Rose have released the details for their forthcoming fourth album, Wintersaga. The album will be released on 27 September through Napalm Records and it will include their recent single (which was based on a meme), ‘Diggy Diggy Hole’.

The Italian power folk band promises that Wintersaga will be their most epic, anthemic, mead-fueled album yet!
Dwarves from all around the world, this September we will gather our axes and hammers once again to retake what belongs to us. Hear the call of the last moon of autumn, feel the approaching shiver of Durin’s Day, we will rewrite the books with a new story that begins with the Wintersaga”

01. Of Iron and Gold
02. Wintersaga
03. Drunken Dwarves
04. Diggy Diggy Hole
05. Mine Mine Mine!
06. The Art of War
07. There and Back Again
08. The King Under the Mountain
09. We Were Warriors

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Top Ten Metal Albums Of June

For the first time this year, I can honestly say that picking the top ten albums from this month was actually pretty easy. June was comparatively leaner than earlier months of the year, and a few big projects such as Timo Tolkki’s Avalon and Sweet Oblivion feat Geoff Tate failed to deliver anything more than disappointment, so that thinned out the potential choices even more.

That being said, every album on this list is worthy of being in a Top Ten, so make sure to check them out!

10. Ravensire – A Stone Engraved in Red

Coming up on the bottom of the list are Portuguese heavy metallers Ravensire with their third record, A Stone Engraved in Red. It’s nothing revolutionary (heavy metal never is), but it’s a solid fucking piece of metal. The throaty vocals bellow with the intensity of a canon and the rhythm section is tight and clear. Needless to say, it’s good old, gritty classic metal.

Ravensire – A Stone Engraved in Red (Cruz del Sur)

9. Mighty Thor – Ragnarok

Another third album, Mighty Thor’s comeback, Ragnarok, is a seriously destructive force. For an epic power metal album, it actually delivers a fair amount of variety, which is super rare to see in the genre. Aside from that, the sheer intensity and skill are enough to pump you up and put a smile on your face.

Full Review

8. Stille Volk – Milharis

Shifting gears a bit, Stille Volk’s Milharis is quite a bit more mellow and dark than the previous two. Stille Volk is one folk band that seems to only get better with time, and the band’s maturity really shows here. Milharis only lightly touches the metal line, and instead focuses on creating rich folk atmospheres, whether it’s in the energetic drive of ‘Incantation Mystique’ or the more mysterious, foreboding ‘Le Crepuscule du Patre’. At times it’s dissonant and spooky, and at times it’s outright dooming, but it’s a nice change of pace from my usual balls-to-the-wall synth-laden power metal.

Stille volk – Incantation Mystique (Auerbach Tontrager)

7. Diviner – Realms of Time

One of the few Greek power metal bands to break out past the “big in Greece” barrier, Diviner’s sophomore album is another excellent display of the country’s trademark heavy/power metal. It’s full of huge riffs, strong and raspy vocals, and energetic melodies. Despite never falling into an overabundance of keys or choirs, as is typical of power metal, Realms of Time manages to pack a massive punch throughout its entirety.

Diviner – Heaven Falls (Ulterium)

6. Merging Flare – Revolt Regime

Finnish melodic metal outfit Merging Flare have reignited for the first time in nearly eight years to bring us Revolt Regime. It’s hot, heavy, and hard as steel, but still maintains that beautiful, cocaine-fueled sense of fun that made 80s heavy metal so fucking awesome. The album features Beast in Black’s Kasperi Heikkinen (guitars), so it’s no surprise that Merging Flare is in the same realm of badass, pump-up, cheer-along metal as the Beast.

Full Review

Merging Flare – Alliance in Defiance (Ram It Down)

5. Cremisi – Dawn of a New Era

I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty sceptical about this album at first. I mean, what should I expect from a debut album that claims to be “symphonic folk metal”? I was full on expecting just another power metal album with minor folk melodies (which, by the way, I would never consider to be “symphonic folk metal”, thus my skepticism) from a band who was just trying to label itself as unique.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Dawn of a New Era is definitely what I would call symphonic folk metal, and it’s a damn good combination of the two. The orchestrations are pretty light and work very well in the background and we’re met with the occasional power metal section around what is mostly a very Falconer-ish brand of folk metal. Also, I can’t say I’ve ever heard something like this before, so Cremisi get some bonus points for actually standing out from the crowd!

Cremisi – Battle of Lepanto (Volcano)

4. Freternia – The Gathering

Looks like this was the month of comeback albums, because Freternia’s the Gathering is the third one on this list! I don’t have all that much to say about this one (without regurgitating my actual review, that is) other than it’s kickass power metal to the core without being your baseline, typical power metal album.

Full Review

Freternia – Dark Vision (Rock of Angels)

3. Moonlight Haze – De Rerum Natura

Swooping in at number three is Moonlight Haze’s debut, De Rerum Natura, which is easily the best symphonic metal album of the year so far. Featuring current and former members of Elvenking, Sound Storm, and Temperance, Moonlight Haze masterfully combine elements of Far Eastern folk, jazz, and orchestral with power metal and various vocal styles, allowing for an unmatched and widely-dynamic experience. This is far from your typical female fronted symphonic metal.

Full Review

Moonlight Haze – Ad Astra (Scarlet)

2. Chaos Magic – Furyborn

Caterina Nix’s second installment of Chaos Magic is, quite simply, amazing. Written alongside Chilean musician Nasson, Furyborn is a far cry from its predecessor and exchanged its typical symphonic metal sound for a more original, albeit poppy, take on melodic metal. It’s full of sick guitars, killer melodies, and boundless attitude. Make sure that you do not miss this album!

Full Review

Chaos Magic – I’m Your Cancer (Frontiers)

1. Majestica – Above the Sky

If you even kind of know what PowerThorn is about, this should hardly come as a surprise. Ultimately cheesy, no-holds-barred, whimsical power metal? Yup, that pretty much wins it. The “debut” album of Majestica (I say “debut” because they were formerly named ReinXeed) is undoubtedly all of those things. Between the excellent songwriting, guitar skills, and vocal proficiency of Tommy Johansson (who is also in Sabaton. Busy fucker) and the outright ridiculousness of songs like ‘Night Call Girl’ and ‘Father Time’, Above the Sky is truly a power metal album for the ages.

Full Review

Majestica – Night Call Girl (Nuclear Blast)

Think I missed something or included something that doesn’t deserve to be here? Let me know! I’m open to revisions!

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New Music Video From Equilibrium

Folk/dance metal veterans have released a music video for their single, ‘A Lost Generation’, from the upcoming album Renegades. Following in suit with their more recent style, ‘A Lost Generation’ is fucking bumpin’. The rhythm guitar is huge, the synth is mean, and the song is super badass.

Equilibrium – A Lost Generation (Nuclear Blast)

Renegades is set to come out on 23 August via Nuclear Blast. In the ocean of heavyweight metal bands releasing new material this summer, this one is definitely the top of my most anticipated albums!

As always, go give Equilibrium a follow on Facebook!

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