Metal Release Calendar: January, February, March

1 January

MacAllister Project – Samadhi (Folk Power Metal)

Cygnus Atratus – The Empyrean Heaven (Progressive Power Metal)

Shredistic – Adrift (Progressive Metal)

Oath – Legacy (Heavy Metal)

Miwa – Hell Is Real (Heavy Metal)

Ingott – Na cestě do nebe stavil jsem se v pekle (Heavy Metal)

Tetsuya Mitani – Cry No More ‘Counter Attack’ (Power Metal/Shred) [EP]

Mandrágora – Nocturnal Rites (Heavy Metal) [EP]

4 January

In Victory – Power of the Enlightened (Power Metal) [EP]

Penumbra – Silencio (Progressive Power Metal)

5 January

Forsaken Warriors – Escaping Hell (Heavy Metal)

Hellhoundz – The Battle of the Somme (Heavy Metal)

Landmine – Pioneer’s Destiny (Heavy Power Metal)

Holysword – Knights of Vyria (Power Metal) [EP]

7 January

Amoushbard – Mithra (Progressive Metal)

Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite (Progressive Metal)

10 January

Brothers of Metal – Emblas Saga (Power Metal)

Arkhanon – Capitulo IV (Astral) (Power Metal)

Hyldia – Valkyrie (Power Metal)

Raging Fate – Bloodstained Gold (Power Metal)

The Mystic Forest – Ancient Woods (Ambient Symphonic Metal)

Haunt – Mind Freeze (Heavy Metal)

Rage – Wings of Rage (Speed Metal)

Ingrimm – Auf Gedeih und Verderb (Folk Metal)

Aereum – Tempest of Time (Folk Metal)

14 January

Raven Heretic – Under the Sign (Heavy Metal)

Draconian Remains – The First Crusade (Heavy Metal)

Vocifer – Boiuna (Heavy Metal)

Андем – Моя игра (Power Metal)

17 January

Sons of Apollo – MMX (Progressive Metal)

Victorius – Space Ninjas from Hell (Power Metal)

Darktribe – Voici l’homme (Power Metal)

Dragonlore – Lucifer’s Descent (Heavy Power Metal)

Helldown – In Deaths Hands (Heavy Metal)

Mindless Sinner – Poltergeist (Heavy Metal)

Windmill – Dance of Fire and Freedom (Progressive Folk Metal)

18 January

Last Drakma – Spiritual War (Power Metal)

Fabula Rasa – Through the Molten Eye (Folk Power Metal) [EP]

24 January

Elegy of Madness – Invisible World (Symphonic Metal)

SWMM – Trail of the Fallen (Symphonic Folk Metal)

Ironsword – Servants of Steel (Heavy Power Metal)

Temperance – Viridian (Melodic Metal)

Thoughts Factory – Elements (Progressive Metal)

Wolfpakk – Nature Strikes Back (Heavy Metal)

29 January

Shadowquest – Gallows of Eden (Power Metal)

Lovebites – Electric Pentagram (Heavy Power Metal)

31 January

Amberian Dawn – Looking for You (Melodic Metal)

Invictus – Eden (Heavy Power Metal)

Serenity – The Last Knight (Progressive Symphonic Metal)

Serious Black – Suite 226 (Power Metal)

5 February

Hauk – Red Tail Rising (Folk Metal)

Nightfear – Apocalypse (Heavy Power Metal)

7 February

Delain – Apocalypse and Chill (Melodic Metal)

Ironflame – Blood Red Victory (Heavy Power Metal)

Operose – Oceans of Starlight (Progressive Symphonic Metal)

Kanseil – Cant del corlo (Folk Metal) [EP]

14 February

Anvil – Legal at Last (Heavy Power Metal)

Seven Spires – Emerald Seas (Symphonic Metal)

Diabulus In Musica – Euphonic Entropy (Symphonic Metal)

21 February

Demons & Wizards – III (Power Metal)

Secret Rule – Against (Melodic Metal)

Throne of Iron – Adventure One (Heavy Metal)

Verikalpa – Tuoppitanssi (Folk Metal)

6 March

Almanac – Rush of Death (Symphonic Power Metal)

Burning Witches – Dance with the Devil (Heavy Power Metal)

20 March

Beneath My Sins – I Decide (Symphonic Metal)

27 March

Aevum – Multiverse (Symphonic Metal)

Scarlet Aura – Stormbreaker (Symphonic Metal)

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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Top Ten Metal Albums Of March

While last month certainly had more to offer, there were still enough great metal albums to have a lot of competition for the top ten metal albums of March.

Below are albums that range the elements: the fluid, the rock-hard, the furiously hot, and the frigid cold. Brace yourself, because these records don’t fuck around!

10. Iron Savior – Kill or Get Killed

There’s nothing new in Iron Savior’s eleventh installment, Kill or Get Killed. It’s the same old song and dance, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still great. The bass is cranked, the hooks are catchy, and the guitar solos are fucking phenomenal.

At this stage of their career, nobody expects anything new or different, but it’s clear that Iron Savior are veterans of the German power metal scene and they’re damn good at what they do: heavy, loud, and intense power metal.

Iron Savior – Stand Up and Fight (AFM)

9. Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings

Battle Beast has all but completely reinvented its sound this time around, abandoning its unique brand of melodic heavy/power metal for a shinier, late 90s/early 00s pop sound. If Bringer of Painwas a step in a new direction, No More Hollywood Endings is a trip to the next city over. If it weren’t for a couple individual tracks and Noora Louhimo’s iconic, raspy vocals, it’d be unrecognizable as a Beast album.

In all honesty, when it lost Anton Kabanen, the Beast lost its bite. No More Hollywood Endings is widely dynamic, but a lot of the songs are very one-dimensional. Although many of the tracks feature epic orchestras and plentiful keyboards, more parts doesn’t always mean better songs.

I have very mixed feelings about this album mainly because of how hit-and-miss the tracks are. That being said, it’s far from being bad, and it’s good enough to make it as number nine!

(Also, the following track is incredible.)

Battle Beast – The Golden Horde (Nuclear Blast)

8. Darkwater – Human

Swedish power proggers Darkwater have created a fluid and intense experience in their comeback record. Human is their third record to date and is their first release in eight years. Fortunately, it was well worth the wait, because this record is one of the best prog albums I’ve heard in a long time.

The musicianship is excellent, but, by prog standards, it’s nothing special. That being said, Darkwater quickly proves that you don’t need to be a legendary musician who shreds with the utmost fucking insanity for minutes on end to make a great progressive album. The whole record feels natural and smooth.

Darkwater – Alive (Pt. II) (Ulterium)

7. Queensrÿche – The Verdict

I was as relieved as everybody else when Queensryche released their self-titled record in 2013 after the long line of bullshit they produced. So, it should come as no surprise that I absolutely love The Verdict, as it’s the third decent album in a row that Queensryche has made since the drama of the late 90s.

The Verdict is a dynamic piece of work, with the bulk of its sound being closer to their older material. There are clear grunge influences in parts and the synth is sprinkled throughout, adding a bit more detail and variety. Vocalist Todd La Torre also does an exceptional job manning the drums in Scott Rockenfield’s absence.

Queensryche – Man the Machine (Century Media)

6. Warrior Path – Warrior Path

This album is insanely good. Being forged under Greek guitarist/composer Andreas Sinanoglou, it also features vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos (ex Wardrum, Beast In Black) and guitarist/keyboardist Bob Katsionis (Firewind), making for quite the lineup. Now, I’m pretty biased to all things Yannis, so I’ll try to avoid talking too much about how his already-impressive vocal versatility is demonstrated in yet another new way or how he absolutely fucking masters old school heavy metal singing too much.

Well, shit. I tried.

Ok, I didn’t try at all.

Besides the vocals, the songs are very well written (a trait that is often missing from traditional metal bands), the solos and riffs are heavy and the slow parts are beautiful. You’ll come back to this record a few times; I guarantee it.

Warrior Path – Sinnersworld (Symmetric)

5. Bloodbound – Rise of the Dragon Empire

Bloodbound has taken all of the glorious, dragonslaying exuberance from War of Dragons and crammed it all into Rise of the Dragon Empire. Along with more dynamic and variable songwriting, it’s altogether better than its predecessor and, in my opinion, the best Bloodbound record to date. The soaring choruses are thunderous, the guitar solos are grand, and the synth is heavy in this power metal monster.

In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be nearly as good as it is.

Bloodbound – The Warlock’s Trail (AFM)

4. Stonecast – I Earther

Stonecast rock seriously fucking hard in I Earther. Their strong energy will draw you in and their anthemic hooks will make you stay. This earthy metal is sturdy and its sound is nothing short of mountainous.

The vocal delivery ranges from powerful war cries to low, rough vocals. The guitar solos are awesome and the drums create exciting grooves. However, the highlight for me lies in ‘Cherokee’, which contains a staggering amount of variety in its eight minutes as well as an end section that is unmatched by most of the endings I’ve heard in metal.

Stonecast – Goddess of Rain (Pitch Black)

3. Iron Fire – Beyond the Void

Let it be known that Iron Fire is king in the land of heavy metal. After twenty years in the studio, not a single one of their records has lost any heat, and they’ve perhaps hit the pinnacle of their career in their ninth: Beyond the Void. These heavy metal veterans show absolutely no sign of slowing down, and it’s greatly reassuring to see them continuously produce nothing but excellence.

Now, I’m not exaggerating when I say the songwriting is fantastic. No song sets into one feel, and the molten-hot solo sections, especially in the titular track, have some serious underlying grooves. Honestly, while Kirk Backarach’s soloing is awesome, the rhythm section underneath is just as good.

Iron Fire – Beyond the Void (Cime)

2. 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. I’m not complaining by any stretch, that’s just the way it is.

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.

Its combination of heavy synth tracks, blasting drums, and facemelting guitars is nothing short of deadly. Don’t listen to this one on an empty stomach because you’ll probably pass out.

Brymir – Wings of Fire (Ranka Kustannus)

1. Frozen Crown – Crowned in Frost

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “That’s a lot of praise to give an album. How can there be an even better one on this list?” Never fear, your question will be answered.

While Frozen Crown’s sophomore album isn’t quite as epic as Wings of Fire, every other aspect lifts it higher and into my top album spot for March. 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 is better in every way than its impressive predecessor. Now, we can’t give all of the credit to the ladies, because the men are just as good. Drummer Alberto Mezzanotte pounds out some excellent grooves and lead guitarist/songwriter/keyboardist Federico Mondelli slams his amazing solos and riffs into the forefront. Filippo Zavattari completes the sound with his big, beefy bass.

Crowned in Frost has a ton of variety and it builds upon their heavier, grittier brand of power metal that was created in The Fallen King. Complete with top-tier musicians, this is my obvious favourite of March and will certainly be a contender at the end of the year!

Frozen Crown – Neverending (Scarlet)

Think I forgot a worthy album on this list? Leave a comment!

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