Top 25 Metal Albums Of 2019

Future generations will look back on 2019 as the Year of Power Metal. With very few exceptions, every major power metal band released new material this year, most of which was nothing short of excellent.

However, power metal wasn’t the only dominating force this year. Most of the big prog, heavy, and folk players also released albums, as well as bands that I don’t give a shit about like Slipknot, TOOL, and pretty well everything on the extreme metal side of things.

Anyway, the following features twenty five of the best “melodic” metal albums of the year! The competition was steep; of the 380+ albums I listened to this year, almost seventy of them were serious contenders for this list.

Also, you might notice that, despite a few placements in my monthly Top Tens and my scoring in general, some albums listed here are higher or lower than they “should” be. The main reason here is that, surprise surprise, opinions can change with time, and so can music.

Regardless, you can be damn certain that the following 25 metal albums are the best to come out of the monster than was 2019!

25. Elvenking – Reader of the Runes – Divination

Elvenking’s tenth album, Reader of the Runes – Divination, kicks all sort of ass, pagan-style. Fans will be pleased that Divination still retains the core Elvenking sound: a primarily-pop/punk vocal style, folk melodies, proggy song structure, and a power metal energy. Conversely, though, the album is as much a breath of fresh air as it is an Elvenking album, as it takes the band in two directions that they haven’t really explored in depth before; the road of Divination is generally darker and heavier than their previous material, and it also brings a whole concept that tells of a journey into a mystical world of runes and magic. It’s not the band’s best, but it’s really fucking good.

Full Review

24. HammerFall – Dominion

Since their founding in 1993, heavy metal templars HammerFall have fought to continue the legacy of 80s heavy metal, smithing more than ten full-length records and establishing themselves as Sweden’s and Europe’s premier heavy metal masters. Their latest album, Dominion, is an epic powerhouse that easily contends with their early material in terms of quality and heart.

Full Review

23. Rhodium – Sea of the Dead

Sea of the Dead is the latest offering of Greek power metal (think Firewind, Diviner, stuff like that). Featuring an almost all-new lineup, the album drives forth with exceptional guitarwork and even more impressive vocals, which sit somewhere between the usual, coarse Greek power vocals and higher Euro power norm. This is one hell of a sophomore album and is more than strong enough to earn spot on this list.

Full Review

22. 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 exchanges 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. This “pop” metal album blows all other pop metal albums out of the water.

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21. Frozen Crown – Crowned in Frost

Frozen Crown have solidified their sound in a heavier, grittier, more diverse power metal offering than their debut. This female fronted (or should I say, “female fueled,” due to vocalist Jade Etro as well as eighteen-year-old southpaw shredder Talia Bellazecca) powerhouse has created an exceptionally refined record that blasts forth with elements from harsh death metal, traditional heavy metal, and everything in between. Pair that with elaborate guitarwork and numerous vocal styles and you have yourself one ferocious album!

Full Review

20. Finsterforst – Zerfall

Furious German folkers Finsterforst are back with a fifth backbreaking album, complete with lengthy arrangements, chanted melodies, and intense orchestrations. Zerfall is a very unique take on folk metal, combining keyboards, orchestras, and heavy guitars with elements of death metal and folk melodies (sorta like Wintersun but heavier). The choruses have a slight ring of Orden Ogan to them that amplifies already-huge atmospheres, so it’s safe to say that you’re in for a poundingly heavy ride with this one.

19. Amulet – The Inevitable War

Blasting forth with a fresh lineup, Amulet’s sophomore record is an exceptional work of classic metal. The Inevitable War takes the band to new heights and is the best classic metal album of the year.

There’s really nothing to dislike. The mixing is flawless, the band is exceptionally talented, and the music simply bleeds energy. Each anthemic chorus hits with a similar impact as classic Manowar, and the galloping rhythm section chugs away with the likeness of Iron Maiden. Get your fix of the classics with this very new release.

Full Review

18. Control the Storm – Forevermore

This album is incredible: female-fronted power metal at its finest. The overall atmosphere is bright and energetic, and it’s fueled by symphonic components, folk elements, and rich vocal harmonies. Plus, the arrangements are dynamic and exceptionally written. If you haven’t heard of them before, this album is all you need to get excited about Control the Storm.

Full Review

17. 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.

16. ShadowStrike – Legends of Human Spirit

Legends of Human Spirit is probably the strongest power metal debut of the entire year. It’s insanely fast, 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

15. Noveria – Aequilibrium

Italian proggers Noveria don’t fuck around. As soon as it starts, Aequilibrium explodes into high-intensity with a death metal atmosphere and epic choirs. Through the rest of the album, we encounter sick riff after sick riff (not the least of which can be found in ‘Awakening’ and ‘Broken’) in all their beefy, syncopated glory, as well as beautiful interludes and pulled back sections. Another aspect that makes Aequilibrium stand out is the fact that, while there’s a dark tone to most of the album, it’s never depressing and it’s always energetic.

Full Review

14. Scimitar – Shadows of Man

Canadian pagan metal warriors Scimitar have been around for just over a decade. Early on in their career, they released their debut album, Black Waters, but the band took a bit of a break soon after. Now, nine years later, the band have finally unleashed their sophomore album. Shadows of Man is gritty, furious, and packs way more variety into it than I would have ever expected. With a sound that’s in the realm of Ensiferum and Vanir (although far less refined, production-wise), Scimitar’s combination of death, black, and folk elements will be welcome with any fan of the dark side of folk metal.

(Yeah, I know this is, like, the third melodeath/folk metal album on a “melodic metal” list. Deal with it. This is MY house.)

Full Review

13. Brymir – Wings of Fire

Brymir is extreme metal for the power metal fan and Wings of Fire is no exception. If it weren’t for the rough vocals, it’d be epic symphonic power metal through-and-through.No, I shouldn’t say that. It’s way too epic to be just that. It’s the kind of epic that’ll make you believe that you can crush mountains and fly through the sky as the bringer of life or death, sole judge of the universe, with all of the power of the gods in your hands, under your hands, through your hands, about your hands (but not over your hands). It’s that. Fucking. Epic.

Full Review

12. Sabaton – The Great War

This year saw the release of Sabaton’s ninth record: The Great War. Despite a lengthy career of two decades, the Swedish metal heroes are showing no signs of slowing down, and they prove that they’re here to stay by delivering their biggest, boldest, most bombastic blast of metal in years. Other than slamming the epic pedal down to the fucking floor, The Great War separates itself from Sabaton’s prior works by hanging a darker atmosphere over the music, as well as putting more emphasis on classical scales, especially in its guitar solos.

Full Review

11. Majestica – Above the Sky

After six years of hiatus, power metal cheeseballs Majestica (formerly ReinXeed) are back with their seventh album, Above the Sky. Aside from a drastic name change, Majestica’s sound has grown more mature, despite their lyrical content becoming more juvenile than ever. Of course, these are perfect qualities to have in a power metal album: bullshit, nonsensical lyrics over technically impressive music.

Full Review

10. Galneryus – Into the Purgatory

The finest neoclassical power metal band east of the Silk Road have unleashed yet another album of facemelting ferocity. Into the Purgatory is the twelfth album to come from the mighty Galneryus and, despite such a long career, it lives up to the band’s glory, and then some. A slice of Galneryus’ neoclassical edge has been swapped for a bit more of a progressive influence this time around so, while you can still expect a melodic work of shred insanity, it’s different enough from their other albums to keep things feeling new.

Full Review

09. Moonlight Haze – De Rerum Natura

Formed by ex-Temperance members Chiara Tricarico and Giulio Capone 2018, Moonlight Haze is a symphonic metal project that combines the talents of musicians from Elvenking, Sound Storm, and Epica to create a melodic, emotionally dynamic, technically-pleasing work of female fronted metal that stands high above your typical Delain or Nightwish ripoff. Complete with countless folk and world music elements, De Rerum Natura is as unique as a symphonic debut could be.

Full Review

08. Wind Rose – Wintersaga

Dwarf metallers Wind Rose are back with a rugged sound in their fourth album, Wintersaga. As usual, the Tolkien themes are strong, as is evident in half of the song titles. Additionally, the album is split into two sections; the first contains the fun, catchy party tunes, and the second, which encompasses the final three songs, features a more power prog approach that hearkens to the band’s earlier works. However, the core sound of Wind Rose has shifted as a whole from their progressive power metal roots to settle upon a more bombastic, anthemic sound.

Full Review

07. Twilight Force – Dawn of the Dragonstar

As you can expect from Twilight Force, Dawn of the Dragonstar is full of unlimited, overblown storybook energy. With the exception of maybe two moments, the album is consistently happy and heroic from the very first seconds of the galloping ‘Dawn of the Dragonstar’ into its final piano notes. This hyper-melodic, smile-demanding work isn’t just sheen and shine, though; there’s an absolutely staggering degree of talent and proficiency to behold in every track.

Full Review

06. NorthTale – Welcome to Paradise

NorthTale was born of vocalist Christian Eriksson (ex-Twilight Force), drummer Patrick Johansson (ex-Yngwie Malmsteem) and guitar maestro Bill Hudson with the dream of bringing back the glory of late 90s/early 00s power metal. Whether you’re in the mood for that golden-age power metal, anthemic stadium metal, or even a vegan happy meal, Welcome to Paradise delivers all that and more, complete with facemelting solos, exciting diversity, and catchy melodies. This is one of the year’s best power metal albums and is as technically impressive as it is fun.

Full Review

05. 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 their other releases.

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 one of my top picks.

Full Review

04. Wilderun – Veil of Imagination

Not many bands can pull off an exceptional atmospheric album so, when one does, I always get excited. One of the few (and latest) this year to accomplish such a feat are Boston’s Wilderun with their third album, Veil of Imagination. The album combines elements of death, symphonic, progressive, and folk metal to make a sound that bands like Wintersun have been trying so desperately to embody. It expertly conjures deep feelings of wonder, determination, aggression, hate, fear, reflection, and everything in between. With rich orchestrations supporting it, Veil of Imagination is almost impossible colourful.

Full Review

03. Gloryhammer – Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex

Epic, cheesy, heroic. These are words I often use when describing my favourite albums, but make no mistake; I only use these words if I mean it. So, if I were to say that Gloryhammer’s third and latest album, Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex, was one of the most ridiculously epic tales of heroism that I’ve ever heard from a power metal album, you can be damn sure it’s true.

Between the powerful cries of Angus McFife and the cosmic colours created by the rest of band, there’s no room to criticize the skill of these galactic warriors. Additionally, while the core sound is true, pure power metal (with a healthy dose of symphonic backing tracks), the songwriting is pleasingly dynamic. So, bust out your most enchanted headphones and get a load of this ultra-melodic cheesefest and see for yourself why this just might be the greatest power metal album of the year (or of all fucking time).

Full Review

02. Dream Theater – Distance over Time

Dream Theater are legendary. There’s no question about it. These guys are some of the best musicians metal has to offer, and they’ve given rise to more than a few prog masterpieces. While it’s true that their material has lost a bit of steam over the last decade, Distance over Time recaptures all of their former velocity as their best album since Black Clouds and Silver Linings. There’s a perfect mix of mathematical intricacies, solid melodies, and headbangable grooves, and, despite having a sound that’s closer to their earlier works, this is the freshest they’ve sounded in years.

Full Review

01. Beast in Black – From Hell with Love

Insane solos? Check. The best vocal performance in modern heavy metal? Check. Synthetic fanfares that demand the construction of a training montage? Check. Pack it up, every other band ever. Beast in Black have achieved the pinnacle of music. It’s all downhill from here. Go home. Show’s over. Nothing else will ever excite you as much as this album will.

Just kidding. Well, kind of. From Hell with Love is what every 80s revival album strives to be: catchy, fun, and technically impressive. Between the limitless voice of Yannis Papadopoulos and the songwriting gold of Anton Kabanen, this album holds nothing back. It’s intense. It’s fucking doused in cheese. It’s the pump up record to end all pump up records.

What a year! January is just around the corner, and that means that PowerThorn’s One Year Anniversary is close, too. It was reassuring to watch the viewership increase from a few tens a day all the way up to a few hundred. Between successful weeks of six reviews and desolate weeks of one, it’s been fun so far! Whether this is your first visit or you’re a regular reader, I deeply thank you for your support.

Look forward to more power metal content in 2020!

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Interview With The Dark Element’s Anette Olzon

“When I listen to our music I think that, you know, they are happy albums, because they are so catchy and melodic. But if I go in too deep into Jani’s lyrics, they are quite sad and bitter.”

Finland’s melodic/symphonic metal outfit The Dark Element was formed in 2017. The band features ex-Nightwish and Alyson Avenue vocalist Anette Olzon as its frontwoman. On the release day of their sophomore album, Songs the Night Sings, I got to explore Anette’s thoughts of the new album, the future of the band, and women in metal.

Kane: Congratulations on your new album today! What was your favourite part of making Songs the Night Sings?

Anette Olzon: This album went really smooth. You know, now we all know each other. In the first album we didn’t really know each other. Of course, it’s always easier, you know, and Jani [Jani Liimatainen, Insomnium, ex-Sonata Arctica] knows my vocal style and he believes in what I do so it was all really smooth.

And who does the songwriting? Is it just Jani or is it both you and him?

A: No, it’s mainly Jani. I mean, he is a songwriter so he always makes the songs and sends me the demos and then I go into the studio and, of course I do the vocals how I want to do them. Of course, I follow his melody, but all the harmonies and stuff that I want to do I can do myself.

And this time he actually asked me in the middle of the process if I had any lyrics because I guess he had some writer’s block, so then I sent him some lyrics and he actually took some of those parts from me and put them in ‘Pills on My Pillow’ so I have been a little more creative this time in that way.

What would you say is the album’s strongest quality?

A: Well I believe The Dark Element was very melodic, so we’re still very melodic and have quite catchy choruses, for instance. This time we talked about, after the last album, that I would really like to have a bit more heaviness and more guitars and he actually listened, so he made it a bit more heavy and bombastic this time and I think he has added some more disco, too, which is really nice.

So I think that the melodies and catchy choruses are the strongest part. Somebody said that it’s a bit of “ABBA metal” and that it truly an honour because ABBA is, of course, the best band. [laughs]

Of course! I mean, if you’re gonna do a poppy style of metal then I don’t think there’s a better compliment you could get.

A: [laughs] No, it’s really an honour when people say that. It’s all fine by me, being a Swede. [laughs]

How would you say Songs the Night Sings differs from your debut?

A: You know, I would say that the first one was a little bit of a tryout, both for Jani and for me. He did pull some songs out of his drawer that maybe he had just had there for years and then he wrote them into something new. These songs are all written new for Songs the Night Sings and I think he kind of knew the direction better after how people reacted to the songs in the first album. So think it’s kind of the same vibe as the first one, just a bit bolder and more elements that he has tried out that are a bit different.

I think I would agree. There’re a lot more orchestrations and it sounds a lot fuller and there’s more detail. I’d say it’s like a refined version of the first album.

A: Yeah, I think so. You know, the first album had songs that differed a bit more over the whole album than this one. I think this one has more of a right balance. I mean the new songs do have a lot of different elements but this album has a red thread into it.

For sure. Do you have any favourite songs?

A: Yeah! My favourite since I heard it is ‘The Pallbearer Walks Alone’. I just love that from the first time I heard it and when I when to the studio to sing it. It’s my favourite song from all The Dark Element. I really like ‘Pills on My Pillow’; there’s a lot of pain in that one, some cool disco, and the poppier song ‘Silence Between the Words’, which is really poppy. [laughs] But I really like it! It’s a really fun and easy song. But I like all of them for different reasons.

So you guys decided to release two music videos and one lyric video. How important do you think music videos are?

A: I think they are important because kids today watch YouTube. That’s how it is. You know, back in the day MTV was the big thing to look at. I think videos today, like our videos, are very easy. They are not like high-cost videos that MTV had, you know, with a big budget, I guess. I mean, Rammstein has a huge budget for their videos. [laughs]

But I don’t think you need to do them so creatively, people just want to see you. There’s something about that thing, you know, when they can look at you. So I think videos are still very important.

Do you guys have any plans to tour the album yet?

A: I mean, yes, we want to play gigs, we just have one issue and that is Jani has joined the big band Insomnium and they are touring heavily. We have gotten a lot of requests and we are very much trying to squeeze in gigs between his touring with Insomnium, so hopefully. There will probably be some gigs but, if it comes to touring, maybe we will just have to join Insomnium! [laughs] Since he is so busy.

We have had to say no to some requests, unfortunately, due to his busy schedule but I think there will be some. Hopefully he has some time off now and then. Not so many days, but some.

Or enough, anyway!

A: [Laughs] Yeah, I’m on him every day like, “Hey, have you checked your schedule? Have you checked your schedule?” because I would like to play a lot next year, much more than we’ve done. It’s really nice that he’s joined Insomnium but it a bit more of a hassle for us. But we’ll see!

Do you have anything you particularly like or dislike about touring?

A: Well, for me, I’ve done that big, heavy touring thing that he’s doing at the moment. I did it with Nightwish. It was fun but it was also very, very hard. I have problems sleeping in the bus, for instance, so either I have to drink beer or take pills to sleep, [laughs] which is hard. I also think it’s a bit boring when it comes to traveling. Nowadays, I don’t really like to go anywhere and I just stay at home because I’ve seen the world, I’ve been in cities. I remember that I woke up many times and I didn’t have any clue what country I was in, what city I was in, and it was kind of scary, you know, when you just wake up like, “Where am I?” It happened a lot. I also have a lot of memory losses from my touring days because it was very intense. So I try to think that I’ve done that, you know, that Jani’s doing at the moment, and I cherish it, but I prefer to do a little bit less gigs. More like “let’s do two gigs and have fun” and then we go home. I prefer that.

I can see how that saves a bit of energy, too, and nobody has to really strain themselves.

A: Yeah, and I think also that when you do a tour like that six days a week, travelling, travelling, travelling, people getting sick and still having to perform, you know, singing with a flu in your body and stuff, you don’t give your best every evening. If you only have a few gigs, normally you’re not ill and you’re good and you’re happy, and I think that shows to the audience, too. You can give them much more for their money, I believe.

Shifting back to the album, do you think the lyrics or the overall sound are more important?

A: Oh. Well, when I listen to our music I think that, you know, they are happy albums, because they are so catchy and melodic. But if I go in too deep into Jani’s lyrics, they are quite sad and bitter. They are not happy lyrics. They are sad lyrics, all of them, and you wonder if he’s been through Hell in his life or not. [laughs] So, for me when I listen to the songs, I think the overall sound is what I listen too. Of course, I listen to the lyrics, too, but I think not many people sit down and just nail through and listen really deep to the lyrics. I think people just want to hear a good song with a good tempo and something fun in it. So I believe lyrics are important but the sound is probably more important.

Aside from The Dark Element, what are you listening to these days?

A: Well, I listen to the radio. [laughs] But I listen to many different things depending on my mood. I listen to a lot of metal, actually, because me and my husband share the Spotify account and he’s like a “death metal dude” and “metal dude” so the only thing that comes up in mine is Katatonia and stuff, so I listen to that. I also listen to singer-songwriters, but I listen to a lot of radio mainly, all those hit that are in the pop charts. They are easy listening.

As a female metal artist, do you feel that women are having more success these days?

A: Well, I remember when me and Alyson Avenue came out with our first album and we were out gigging back in the days when I was very young, that was in the late 80s and early 90s. Female-fronted bands were, like, the worst of the worst. It was so bad. People were like, “Female-fronted? They suck!” And I think you still can feel that vibe, in a way, as soon as there’s a girl singing there’s something with a lot of men, because that’s just how it goes, where they prefer a male singer. I don’t know why.

But I think it’s gotten better with so many good singers out there who’ve showcased that they can growl and they can do all those things a male singer can do, too, like belt and sing progressive and stuff. So, I think it’s better these days than it was when I was younger and started singing.

I think it definitely helps having big bands like Nightwish, Battle Beast, and Amaranthe that have fantastic frontwomen to help move it forward, too.

A: Yeah, and where bands like Evanescence are still going, and like you said Battle Beast. Noora is fantastic and she proves inmany ways that a girl can do what a man can do because she really sings in many ways like a guy. And then you have, of course, bands like Arch Enemy that also proves that there are some really good female-fronted bands out there.

We’re just about out of time here so I want to squeeze in one more question! What do you want to see The Dark Element become?

A: Oh! Well. I personally would love to do some more gigs, that’s my aim, because we’ve had so much fun. And hopefully some more albums, before I get too old, with that same happy feeling Jani and I have at the moment, and that his creativity continues the way that it has and that we get better and better with every album because he’s a very talented songwriter. And, hopefully, sell a lot and sell more so we can do more of what we want with more gigs and better videos and have a higher budget for everything. That’s always what you want.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me!

A: And thank you! It’s been an honour.

The Dark Element’s sophomore album, Songs the Night Sings, is out now! You can catch it on YouTube, streaming services, or buy it >>here<<! And don’t forget to follow The Dark Element on Facebook!

The Dark Element – Songs the Night Sings Review

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Aerodyne – Damnation Review

Score9/10
GenreHeavy Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime46:08
Release Date18 October 2019
Record LabelROAR! Rock of Angels

Against my lack of any expectations whatsoever, I was fucking blown away by this album. Smithed by the mighty Aerodyne, Damnation (which is my first taste of this band) is, in short, one hell of a sophomore album. It’s energetic, anthemic, charismatic heavy metal with a blatant Ozzy undertone. Sound kickass? Of course it does! It’s true metal to the core, no doubt about it.

The driving force behind Aerodyne’s success is the phenomenal riffing that ensues as soon as the album lifts off. Between the chugging drive of songs like ‘Murder in the Rye’ and the lower, meaner riffage heard in ‘The Nihilist’, there’s not only a good mix but there’s also a strong sense of sincerity displayed. The soloing is just as sick and the bass is juicy but, at the end of the day, the riffs are what heavy metal is all about, and these guys excel in axemanship.

Now, while the guitars may be what make Damnation as killer as it is, it’s the vocals that make the album truly distinct from so many of the metal bands today. As I mentioned earlier, this album bleeds Ozzy Osbourne (mid- and late-Ozzy, to be more precise). Sure, the overall sound and rhythm guitarwork are partially responsible, but Marcus Heinonen‘s voice is the biggest reason for this relation. This becomes especially apparent in ‘Kill or Be Killed’ and ‘March Davai’ (which seriously belongs on Black Rain), where the similarities are not only in your face but shoved down your throat.

Alongside catchy melodies and dynamic songs, Aerodyne prove themselves as a terrifying metal force. Damnation is a hellbeast of an album that offers all the aggression, power, and headbangability you could want from a heavy metal album. These Swedes have slammed their way onto my radar and I’ll be sitting on the edge of my seat until they unleash another album.

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Ethereal Kingdoms – Hollow Mirror Review

Score3/10
GenreSymphonic Metal
CountryDenmark
Runtime43:15
Release Date11 October 2019
Record LabelMighty Music

Symphonic metal is a little pretentious on the best of days, but Ethereal Kingdom are in another realm entirely. Their debut album, the aptly-named Hollow Mirror, is about as hollow as it gets, but it’s pretentious enough to make even a bitchy blonde trust-fund girl seem humble. Seriously. The band’s whole schtick rides on the back of juxtaposing tranquil lows with dissonant highs as if it’s a revolutionary idea (which, if you’ve ever listened to symphonic or gothic metal, you’d know it isn’t).

To be clear, though, it’s not this dark/light idea that is responsible for Hollow Mirror‘s downfall. No; it’s far, far more than that. The culprit here is, well, damn-near everything. The execution is bad, the songwriting is bad, the melodies are crap, and the vocals are in their own, keyless world.

But, before I tear this poor album to shreds, I’d better get the good stuff out in the open. The drums are actually pretty good to the point where they far out-perform every other aspect of the album combined. They craft some solid grooves and vicious blast beats but they also manage to keep everything more-or-less tied together, despite some awkwardly structured songs and messy backing keyboards. Additionally, the rhythm guitars, while very straightforward, aren’t bad at all.

But, yeah. That’s it. Think the album’s hopeless now? Well, until you hear it, you’ll have no fucking clue just how hopeless it is. It’s almost as if Ethereal Kingdoms intentionally tried to make a shitty album. All you have to do is listen to one of the many passages with rough vocals and this becomes ever clearer. Courtesy of the band’s vocalist Sofia Schmidt, they sound like they were sung by someone who was trying to make fun of screamo, and that’s putting it nicely. But the vocals don’t stop there; Miss Schmidt also sings the finest out-of-tune soprano I’ve heard in a while, in a manner so boringly that it’s almost impressive. It also doesn’t help that the vocal lines are written like crap to begin with.

Aside from awkward, jagged, uninspired songs (especially ‘Endings’ and ‘Apparition’. Jesus Christ.) and an awful lead, the album has two more crucial pitfalls. The first is the incredibly dissonant violin (which I think might actually be fucking intentional, for whatever reason) which I’m convinced is played by a seven year old. The second comes in the form of spoken sections in most of the songs which try to tell some sort of story. Although, even after numerous listens, I have no idea what that story is because I spent equal amounts of time laughing and cringing while listening to it.

Needless to say, I don’t recommend Hollow Haze. That is, unless you’re looking for some scarily-bad music to play at your Halloween party, in which case it’s exactly what you need! All jokes aside, Ethereal Kingdoms have entered the metal world on such a low note that, if they decide to actually pursue a second album, they have nowhere to go but up.

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Power Metal: Magic Kingdom Reveal New Single

Belgian power metallers Magic Kingdom are son to release their first album in five years. MetAlmighty will be the band’s fifth album, as well as the first album to feature Michael Vescera on vocals.

‘Fear My Fury’ is the second single to be released for the new album, which is due on 22 November through AFM Records.

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Heavy Metal: New Single From Aerodyne

Aerodyne are a fresh heavy metal band out of Sweden’s capital. Their debut album, Breaking Free, was released in late 2017. With their sophomore album right around the corner, the war-themed single ‘March Davai’ has been put out to give a taste of the new album.

The Ozzy Osbourne vibes in ‘March Davai’ are unmistakable, and I’m not complaining one bit.

Make sure to check out Damnation when it comes out on 18 October!

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Dawn Of Destiny – The Beast Inside Review

Score8/10
GenreMelodic/Power Metal
CountryGermany
Runtime56:26
Release Date4 October 2019
Record LabelRam It Down

These days, it’s incredibly difficult to carve out your own distinct space in the metal world. Among the billion or so new bands that come out by the year, it’s simply a numbers game at this point; no matter what your sound is, chances are it’s been done before. Usually, anyway. So, when a band like Dawn of Destiny comes around with a new album, it’s enough to ignite my curiosity. To say that The Beast Inside is unique would be a bit of an understatement. Seriously. It’s so unique that I can’t directly compare its sound to another band or album. Not that I’ve heard every metal record ever (because, obviously, I haven’t), but I’ve listened to my fair share of melodic and power metal, so that should say something.

However, that doesn’t make their sound indescribable or anything of the sort. Most simply, The Beast Inside is a mashup of gothic, progressive, symphonic, and power metal. This fundamental mix is hardly groundbreaking, but the way in which Dawn of Destiny differs from any band I can think of is the way it twists this combination into unconventional songwriting and interesting melodies. The first track, ‘The Beast Inside a Beauty’ is a great example of this. Starting with a light music box melody, it brings the attitude of gothic and symphonic metal together with the driving energy of power metal. It’s also the perfect preview to the album’s overall sound and (although the next two tracks aren’t quite as good) it starts the album off on a high note.

So, yeah, it’s got a unique sound, but what about the musicians? I’m glad you asked! In short, this is a fucking talented group. Jen Faber brings a big, beefy guitar tone to his chugging riffs and, on drums, Philipp Bock goes beyond your basic time-keeping by keeping the grooves dynamic. And those guitar solos? Holy fuck. There are some serious gems, especially in ‘It’s My Fate’. The highlight, though, is Jeanette Scherff‘s strong vocal style. She sings far lower and with way more bravado than you usually hear in this kind of music, making the already-solid choruses even more memorable. Her voice is actually very similar to original Battle Beast and current Burning Point vocalist Nitte Valo. Tying the whole thing together are the keyboards, courtesy of Dirk Raczkiewicz, which fill out the background nicely.

Despite all the praise I have for The Beast Inside, it isn’t perfect. ‘Peace of Mind’ is pretty weak to the point where the album could easily do without it. But, other than the odd awkward verse melody and section, this is pretty much it for shortcomings, which isn’t bad at all, if you ask me.

All things considered, The Beast Inside is an awesome album. The songs range from energetic power metal to heavier, darker metal to unconventional-yet-melodic metal. Some songs are definitely stronger than others, with ‘Signs in the Sky’ and ‘If We Close Our Eyes’ being my favourites, but every track offers something different from the last, so make sure to give the whole album a spin!

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Eclipse – Paradigm Review

Score6.5/10
GenreHard Rock/Heavy Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime41:34
Release Date11 October 2019
Record LabelFrontiers

Paradigm is the seventh album from Swedish rock outfit Eclipse. While it’s primarily a hard rock album, it crosses the line between rock and metal enough that it can’t definitively be considered one or the other. As such, it’s safe to expect a super catchy album that offers both the weight of heavy metal and the fun-loving lifeblood of hard rock.

But the genre crossovers don’t quite stop there. To get a better idea of what Paradigm offers, think something along the lines of pop-punk vocals over contemporary riffs, tame rock drumming, poppy mastering and song structure, all with a metal undertone. I know it doesn’t really sound promising when put like that, but it actually allows for a ton of sick hooks and memorable tracks. Sure, there aren’t a whole lot of flashy performances (although, it’d be impossible not to recognize the fantastic performance of vocalist Erik Martensson), but songs like ‘Viva La Victoria’ and ‘Mary Leigh’ make up for it in charisma and energy.

Anyway, since you’re here, chances are you’re at least kind of a metalhead. So, of course, I’d damn-well better get to the most metal parts Paradigm has to offer! The rhythm guitar lines and tone are mostly responsible for the heavy metal undertones throughout the album, but tracks like ‘Delirious’, ’38 or 44′, and ‘The Masquerade’ unleash a melodic metal massacre, trading the rock riffs and overall sound for an aggressive (albeit still poppy) bite that is undoubtedly metal in every way.

The biggest thing setting Paradigm back is the amount of filler tunes. While there are five tunes which I really dig (all of which I’ve mentioned already), a few songs, namely ‘Never Gonna Be Like You’ and ‘United’, fail to strike any impact beyond offering a few minutes of passable music. If more of the songs were similar in quality to its best, I would consider this album excellent but, you know, that’s not the case.

All in all, Eclipse has made another really good album in Paradigm. Unfortunately, as is the case with 95% of hard rock albums, it falls victim to basic, stock-variety songwriting. That being said, this album is still a lot of fun, and its high points make the entire album worth checking out.

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Silent Call – Windows Review

Score7/10
GenreProgressive Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime1:00:52
Release Date11 October 2019
Record LabelRockshots

Swedish prog outfit Silent Call have been around since the mid-2000s. Since then, they’ve put out only a handful of albums, with their latest, Windows, being their fourth. Even though this is the final album of the band’s career, they’ve enlisted Göran Nyström (Sarpedon, Twinspirits) as their new vocalist, whose style gives the album a very Greek power metal feel, similar to Firewind or Diviner.

For the most part, Windows is a really solid prog metal album. The riffs are heavy, the drums and vocals are expressive, and there are numerous synth parts in the background and foreground. Additionally, the intros to pretty much every song are very well done. The album’s only real downfall is its amount of excess. With an hour-long runtime, it’s a bit long, which would be ok if every song got the care it deserved, but that, unfortunately, isn’t the case. Songs like ‘Imprisoned in Flesh’, ‘Shifting Shape’, and ‘Clouded Horizon’ (among others) don’t offer much past your typical Queensryche-y or power metaly progressive metal song. It’s not like they’re awful songs, but they’re forgettable and come across as mainly filler.

But that isn’t to say there aren’t any awesome tracks; tucked far into the album’s end, the final three, ‘Invisible’, ‘Bleeding Me Dry’, and ‘Eye of Destruction’, all blow the rest of the tracklist out of the fucking water. Between excellent synthwork, great guitar soloing, strong arrangements, and the best riffs on the entire album, it makes me wonder why they’d be stuck on the tail end of such a long album. Upon consecutive listens, the album has a sort of sagging feeling after the second track because, aside from a few cool moments, there’s not a whole lot to see in between the main good songs.

It’s often a shame when a band announces its end, but sometimes, as is the case here, it’s better to make a clean exit than to be remembered for falling apart in the latter portion of your career (I’m looking at you, Sonata Arctica. Fuckers.). Despite having some issues with it, Windows is still a very enjoyable album, and its highlights deliver some seriously killer performances.

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Storchi – Outside Review

Score8/10
GenreProgressive Metal/Fusion
CountryIsrael
Runtime44:51
Release Date10 October 2019
Record LabelDutch Music Works

I don’t know what’s in the water over there, but Israel has pumped out some seriously good prog albums this year. The unforgettable Lotus Graveyard by Tillian is just one example, and I still listen to that record on a regular basis. The latest addition to this effort is the debut album of Storchi, entitled Outside. It brings an interesting combination of prog metal, fusion, and club jazz, finished off with a deep-rooted Middle Eastern feel. If you want to listen to something with its very own distinct sound, look no further.

Aside from the raw skill its musicians display (more on that in a minute), Storchi’s best quality is its blatant uniqueness. While, at times, Outside beckons to a sound similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra and 70s/80s fusion in general, the sound it ends up with can’t be compared too closely to these because it is simply very individual. The music is driven by the flute, courtesy of Danielle Sassi, which carries all of the melodies over top of the guitars, bass, and drums, which constantly transition between intense metal riffage and light grooves.

There’s a good ratio of metal to jazz here, with most of the songs leaning more one way than the other. For example, ‘Surroundings’, ‘Hidden Truth’, and ‘Lights Out’ are far more metal, whereas ‘Paracosm’ (after the first third of the song, anyway) and ‘Midnight’ are almost entirely ethnic jazz tunes. It becomes evident in the album’s first minutes that Outside will be a dynamic experience, but that’s a bit of an understatement.

And now we get to the musicians themselves who, strikingly, are all teenagers, which blows the shit out of my mind because I can’t play anything half as good as these guys. The guitarwork is great, with some notable soloing in ‘Paracosm’ and ‘Hidden Truth’, and the bassplaying follows in like fashion. The flute, of course, is excellent throughout the album’s entirety, but my favourite part of Outside is that fucking drumming. Noam Arbel proves himself to be quite the beast behind the kit, and he bangs the shit out of the highs and patters away on the lows with tasteful precision. Right off the get go I was impressed with this guy, but on the fifth track, ‘Midnight’, I was fucking blown away. Seriously. The five-minute drum solo constantly reminded me of drummers like Joe Morello and (to a lesser extent) Buddy Rich. Damn. Not too bad, if you ask me.

There are also a handful of guest musicians lending support on piano and string instruments, but the core of Outside‘s energy comes from its main quartet. While a couple of the arrangements could do with some trimming and touching up, this album is an all-around blast and I’m damn excited to listen to what Storchi lays down next.

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