Winter Haven – Lanre Review

Score7.5/10
GenrePower Metal
CountryMexico
Runtime43:34
Release Date21 February 2020
Record LabelIndependent

Current and former members of the power metal bands Azeroth, Anna Fiori, and Aceria (fuck, that’s a lot of A’s) have returned after eight years to deliver the sophomore work of Winter Haven: Lanre. This anthemic, genre-bending beast holds nothing back as it attacks with a dangerously cold bite.

The mix of influences in Lanre is interesting in and of itself. The foundation is more-or-less power metal, but alt/metalcore elements run rampant in the form of mixed vocals, heavy breakdowns, and just the general tone of the vocals in general, which are pretty far from soaring, bellowing, rough, or powerful (you know, the usual traits of power metal vocalists). The lyrical content also aligns a lot more with metalcore, which doesn’t matter so much, but the overtones that come along with these themes makes it worth mentioning. There are also death and black metal elements at play, plus some electro stuff, but to a lesser extent.

‘Sunlight Dethroned’ is probably the most typically-power metal track on the album. It’s got cheesy harpsichords and strings, it’s a driving 6/8, and it’s a bit more uplifting that the rest of Lanre‘s tracklist. Unsurprisingly, this is one of my favourite tracks (I’m fucking biased. Who knew?!), but the darker ‘The Sleeper’ is a killer tune, too. I also love ‘When They Come’, which is also pretty mixed in its influences. The low point of the album is the acoustic ballad, ‘Endless’, which is overall pretty wonky, but the rest of the tracks are solid.

If I were in middle school, I would have eaten this fucking album alive. It’s energetic and edgy with great guitars, which is pretty much all I cared about back then. That isn’t to trash Winter Haven, though, because they’ve done a damn fine job here. Lanre is a really cool album and is well worth the listen for fans of fast-paced, aggressive, and slightly angsty metal (I forgot to mention, too, there are some serious Frozen Crown vibes).

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Verikalpa – Tuoppitanssi Review

Score7.5/10
GenreFolk Metal
CountryFinland
Runtime46:16
Release Date21 February 2020
Record LabelScarlet

Serving up another piece of melodeathy folk metal are Finland’s booze-fueled Verikalpa in their sophomore album, Tuoppitanssi. While I couldn’t tell you what in the fuck they’re singing about (well, I could because I read the album’s info sheet, but I really can’t say for sure), I can tell you that you’re in for a lively album with an edge. With strong melodies, a heavy rhythm section, and ferociously rough vocals, this style is hardly new, but it’s really fun it’ll probably pull you back at least once.

I can’t pinpoint the thing keeping Verikalpa from sounding like yet another generic offshoot of Korpiklaani, like so many folk bands do, but they have enough charm and individuality to steer clear of sounding too derivative. Regardless, the prevalence of the accordion is always a welcome trait. Weirdly enough, a good portion of Tuoppitanssi could be described as “viscious polka”; it’s hard, it’s gritty, and the vocals could peel the bark off a tree, but the accordion’s bounciness changes the entire feel.

Alternatively, when Tuoppitanssi isn’t in ska mode, it offers a pleasing variety. In fact, my favourite track on the album is ‘Varjosahti’, which is one of the album’s slower tunes (and a tad extra piratey). ‘Verimaat’ is also a notable track, largely due to those stupid-fast kicks. Otherwise, most of the tracks are up-tempo (like the blitzy ‘Karhunkaataja’), and there’s a pretty even split of 4/4 and 6/8, as you would expect from this style of music. That being said, the album is far from repetitive.

Fans of anything from Ensiferum to Vanir to Blodiga Skald will thoroughly enjoy Tuoppitanssi. It bites hard throughout its entirety but is catchy enough that you’ll be able to remember the songs without much effort. If you like drunk and bouncy, Verikalpa are right up your alley.

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Throne Of Iron – Adventure One Review

Score6/10
GenreTraditional Heavy Metal
CountryUSA (Indiana)
Runtime42:28
Release Date21 February 2020
Record LabelNo Remorse

If you’re looking for new, cleanish-yet-classic heavy metal, maybe go and listen to the new Ironflame or Wolpakk albums, because you won’t find it here. This debut, forged by Throne of Iron, is no-bullshit traditional metal, through and through. You will find no synths here, nor will you find crisp mastering, orchestrations, or anything outside of 4/4. You will, however, find plenty of classic Ozzy/Sabbath vibes, as well as vocals that sound like they’re being sung from across an empty alleyway, as is characteristic of the style.

At the end of the day, though, most of us find ourselves coming back to this timeless sound, so, even though it’s been done a million fucking times since the 80s, new offerings are usually a welcome sight. Adventure One is pretty simplistic (both musically and production-wise), the riffs are solid, and the vocals aren’t anything special. But isn’t that what gives this kind of music its heart? It’s just a few regular dudes, playing their brand of metal. Besides, the solos are pretty sick, so there’s that.

Beyond all that, though, there isn’t much else to say about this album. Throne of Iron aren’t going to win any awards for being groundbreaking any time soon, but that isn’t really the point here. For what it is, Adventure One is good enough. Most of the album treads closely on the line of being repetitive, but that’s always a risk when you play this old, shoddy, occult-styled metal. Regardless, if you’re a fan of this style, give this record a spin.

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Diabulus In Musica – Euphonic Entropy Review

Score9/10
GenreSymphonic Power Metal
CountrySpain
Runtime56:26
Release Date15 February 2020
Record LabelNapalm

While some people can’t seem to keep their marriage from falling the fuck apart for more than a week, husband-and-wife combo Zuberoa Aznárez and Gorka Elso have released the fifth album of their band, Diabulus In Musica. Euphonic Entropy is an absolute monster of a symphonic metal album, delivering emotion, variety, and energy in equal parts. Every song is a mixed bag, so you can be damn sure that this album will exceed expectations.

Euphonic Entropy has a little bit of everything: electronics, choirs, orchestrations, folk instruments, rough vocals, colossal guitars. What’s more, these elements are all actually tastefully integrated into a chunky metal backdrop to create epic atmospheres and massive soundscapes, with the occasional light moment. It’s lean in the solo department (entirely devoid of solos, in fact), but the heavy grooves, breakdowns, and instrumentation are rich enough that it isn’t an issue. The guitars and female vocals are both captivating enough as it is, so it’s probably for the best to be solo-free.

Now, while the album as a whole is cohesively incredible, there’s one song that I seriously can’t get enough of. ‘The Misfit’s Swing’, as you probably guessed from the title, is a metal swing track. Actually, let me clarify; ‘The Misfit’s Swing’ is the fucking epitome of metal swing and is everything I want in such a song. God damn. I want an entire genre of this shit. Yeah, there’s the odd band like Diablo Swing Orchestra that does it, but, man. This track is something else. It satisfies both the metalhead and the jazzman in me.

Fortunately, Euphonic Entropy has so much more to offer than just one killer song. There’s the ballad ‘Blurred Dreams, the Eluveitie-esque ‘Otoi’, and a flowwy symphonic-only track, plus a healthy dose of chugging, pounding, backbreaking metal. If you want modern symphonic metal done right, look no further.

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Symphonic Metal: Diabulus In Musica Release ‘One Step Higher’

Spanish symphonic metal outfit Diabulus In Musica are just a few days from releasing their fifth album, Euphonic Entropy. In anticipation, the band has released another single: ‘One Step Higher’.

Singer Zuberoa Aznárez on the new single:
“’One Step Higher’ is a bright look to the future, a song about personal growth and about embracing new stages of life with thrill. Despite the obstacles, our path is about overcoming them and finding the light again, making us stronger and wiser.”

01. A Lucid Chaos 
02. Race to Equilibrium 
03. Nuevo Rumbo 
4. The Misfit’s Swing 
05. In Quest of Sense 
06. Otoi
07. Blurred Dreams 
08. On the Edge 
09. Our Last Gloomy Dance 
10. One Step Higher 
11. Blind Muse 
12. In the Vortex

If heavy, melodic, groove-driven symphonic metal is your thing, make sure to catch Euphonic Entropy this Friday, 14 February!

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Ironflame – Blood Red Victory Review

Score9/10
GenreHeavy Power Metal
CountryUSA (Ohio)
Runtime39:47
Release Date7 February 2020
Record LabelDivebomb

US power metal warriors Ironflame have thundered forth with their third album in four years, Blood Red Victory. Within, you will find eight testosterone-fueled metal hymns of epic aggression. The album is grittier than their previous two works, but it retains that same centurion spirit which Ironflame command so easily.

On a side note, I think I’m throwing around the word “them” a bit too much, because Ironflame’s studio lineup is a one-man show. It’s the product of the mutitalented Andrew D’Cagna, who has proven himself to be a true metal man, through-and-through. Personally, I’m not usually a fan of one-man albums because they just seem to be lacking something (Devin Townsend would be a perfect example of this), but Blood Red Victory is such a fucking banger that I don’t even care. As far as I’m considered, D’Cagna is actually just a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude. (Tropic Thunder anyone?)

Anyway, back to the album. This is exactly what I picture when I hear the term “US power metal”. It’s got that classic metal aesthetic combined with modern power metal energy and, well, it’s fucking powerful. There’s a great mix of tracks, from fast drivers to slower, more foreboding tracks like ‘Blood Red Cross’. One of the best things about Blood Red Victory, though, if the fact that you could start with literally any track and get hooked on the album right away. Each song is fucking sick. Simple as that.

And then we get to those fucking guitars. Every track goes from sick riff to sick riff. Seriously. From the first seconds of the opener to the album’s demise, it’s a shitshow of a riffshow. And I barely need to mention how killer the solos are.

On top of the relentless shredding of the guitars, the melodies are simplistic yet memorable, which gives a bit of that Iron Maiden treatment to the songs, where you know full well the isn’t much to the melody yet you’ll happily find yourself wanting to belt them out (in my own not-so-humble opinion, these are the best types of melody). While some of my favourites are in ‘Seekers of the Blade’ and ‘On Ashen Wings’, every song is irresistibly catchy. And, the vocal layering only adds to this.

So, yeah. If you want a lion’s share of traditional metal and power metal all in one, this is as close as you’re gonna get. D’Cagna is a fucking metal genius and I pray to the gods that he won’t be finished any time soon.

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Symphonic Metal: Diabulus In Musica Announce New Album

Spanish symphonic metal quartet Diabulus In Musica are soon to release their fifth album. Euphonic Entropy is set to be released on 14 February through Napalm Records, whom the band have been with since their sophomore album.

Accompanying this news is the album’s first single, ‘Otoi’, which delivers a rich folk sound over top its traditional Basque themes.

The band on the new single and video:
“‘Otoi’ is a special song to us because it is entirely sung in Basque, our local language, one of the oldest languages in Europe and the only pre-indoeuropean one that is still alive. “Otoi” means “prayer”, in this case to the ancient gods of Basque mythology: Urtzi and Amari who represent the sky and its mother, the Earth, respectively. It is a kind of lament around the loss of our cultural identity throughout the time due to different threats. The video was recorded in a 16th century Basque farmhouse which is now a key heritage object of the region.”

01. A Lucid Chaos 
02. Race to Equilibrium 
03. Nuevo Rumbo 
4. The Misfit’s Swing 
05. In Quest of Sense 
06. Otoi
07. Blurred Dreams 
08. On the Edge 
09. Our Last Gloomy Dance 
10. One Step Higher 
11. Blind Muse 
12. In the Vortex

The band on Euphonic Entropy:
“After three intense years, we’re finally back with probably our heaviest and most convincing album so far. We can’t wait to share the new songs with you all! We think they are fresh, diverse, energetic and a new step in DIM’s history. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our very first album than coming back with our strongest effort.

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Heavy Metal: Archon Angel Release Titular Track For ‘Fallen’

The new heavy/power metal project of vocalist Zak Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle), Archon Angel, have released the first single of their upcoming album, Fallen: a mid-paced titular track that gives a solid performance of melodic heavy metal.

Zak Stevens on the single:
“The title track accompanies the Archon on his journey in transitioning from a successful businessman, who leads a life of excess and egoism, to a superhero who will clean up the city and eventually, save the world from self destruction. In the song, he is reminiscing about his past and the family he left behind, while summoning the power that called him to save the world to “hear him.””

Zak on the music video:
“After an arduous search for the perfect city and videographer, we settled on Pittsburgh, PA for my scenes. The band was filmed in Genova, Italy, near the famous Porto Antico. In Pittsburgh, we shot atop Mt. Washington, overlooking downtown, much like the Archon would be doing as he pondered his future. The weather didn’t cooperate the first day as it was a rainy day. But one of the coolest moments occurred while filming the video….one of the locations was right across from Heinz Field during a Pittsburgh Steelers [football] game. At the apex of the song, the crowd erupted in cheering at the perfect time, and people who were watching us film were caught by surprise. It really contributed to my overall mindset during that portion of the song. I felt like they were cheering for the Archon and it mimicked a true live performance. I can’t wait to get out there and perform this song live with Archon Angel.”

You can catch Archon Angel’s Fallen on 14 February. The album will be released under Frontiers Music SRL.

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Heavy Metal: Ironflame Announce New Album

Ohio-based US heavy metal warriors Ironflame are soon to unleash their third album upon the metal world. Blood Red Victory is set to drop on 7 February under Divebomb Records. For a taste of what’s to come, check out the new single, ‘Seekers of the Blade’.

The studio version of Ironflame is done almost solely by multi-instrumentalist Andrew D’Cagna, but Blood Red Victory also features solos from Quinn Lukas and Jesse Scott, who are also part of the band’s live lineup.

01. Gates of Evermore
02. Honor Bound
03. Seekers of the Blade
04. Blood Red Cross
05. On Ashen Wings
06. Graves of Thunder
07. Grace and Valor
08. Night Queen
09. The Serpent and the Throne*
10. Horns Held High*

D’Cagna on the album’s themes:
“There is a recurring theme of victory in the lyrics for this album. Some songs have an air of chest-out confidence; others are about overcoming adversaries or even adversity itself. Most have been written from a ‘we/us’ perspective, which makes the listener feel like, ‘We’re in this together.'”

Don’t miss this February release, because it’s sure to scratch that traditional heavy metal itch.

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Melodic Metal: Delain Announce ‘Apocalypse And Chill’ For February

After releasing two new singles (‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘One Second’), modern melodic metal outfit Delain have announced the cover, tracklist, and release date for their upcoming album.

Apocalypse and Chill is set for a 7 February release. Judging by its name, it might be safe to coin the term “millennial metal” here, but let’s not be too hasty.

01. One Second
02. We Had Everything
03. Chemical Redemption 
04. Burning Bridges
05. Vengeance 
06. To Live Is To Die 
07. Let’s Dance 
08. Creatures
09. Ghost House Heart 
10. Masters Of Destiny      
11. Legions Of The Lost 
12. The Greatest Escape 
13. Combustion

The album promises to deliver huge riffs and beefed-up synth and orchestrations as it pulls elements from heavy, electronic, and anthemic music.

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