Symphonic Metal: Apocalyptica Release New Single Featuring Joakim Broden

Cello-centered symphonic metallers Apocalyptica have been closely collaborating with Swedish heavyweights Sabaton since last year, when they released their own single version of the Sabaton song ‘Fields of Verdun’.

Since then, the two have toured together, as well as released another collaboration in the track ‘Angels Calling’.

Continuing this trend, the band has released a new original song featuring the talents of iconic frontman Joakim Broden, called ‘Live or Die’.

Killer chorus, right?

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Melodic Metal: New Single From Dynazty

Swedish modern metallers Dynazty have dropped a new single from their upcoming album, The Dark Delight. ‘Presence of Mind’ follows the bands more recent albums, so we can likely expect an album of similar sound.

The Dark Delight will be Dynazty’s seventh album since their beginnings in 2007. While their music has explored a number of different styles, they have settled on modern melodic metal, as their previous three albums have supported.

No further details of The Dark Delight have been released yet, but you can expect to hear it on 4 April 2020!

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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.

Full Review

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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CyHra – No Halos In Hell Review

Score5/10
GenreMelodic Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime47:11
Release Date15 November 2019
Record LabelNuclear Blast

As a longtime fan of Amaranthe, I was actually pretty psyched when its founder and vocalist, Jake E, announced he was leaving to form his own band back in 2016 (or was it 2017?). As Amaranthe continued to venture further and further away from the metal/pop hybrid it began as into an outright pop outfit with metal instruments, this new band, CyHra, held my hopes of bringing Jake E’s songwriting talents back into metal, where they belong. Fortunately, CyHra’s debut, Letters to Myself, was exactly what I expected: a super-electronic, riff-heavy, melodic modern metal album. It had sincerity, it had charisma, and it had the musical chops to stand as a notably-impressive debut.

So, you can imagine my fucking disappointment upon first finishing No Halos in Hell. Despite Letters to Myself being an incredibly synthetic album to begin with, No Halos in Hell basically feels like an artificial ripoff. Furthermore, it’s the type of album Jake E appeared to be avoiding by leaving Amaranthe. Most of the songs sound the same, it’s one-dimensional, and it floats along with limited-to-zero dynamic range and beats the shit out of you with the exact same fucking chorus like fifty times. Usually, I would provide specific examples, but I’ll be honest; even after four full listens, I still can’t tell half the fucking tracks apart, so, unless I were to make an elaborate chart of which-song-reuses-what, a general idea’s all you’re gonna get.

Aside from the painfully uninspired simplicity of the songwriting and melodies, there’s another major contributor to this album’s demise: the choruses. Following the monotony of the verses, there’s always a very blatant attempt at a build in the prechoruses that promises an emotional climax in the chorus. Unfortunately, it almost never comes because the vocals float by, the guitars go nowhere, and the drums are too busy doing absolutely nothing. There’s a constant 16th-note feel throughout the entire album, and it would be so easy to throw in some cool grooves to really make the choruses shine, but no, that’s apparently too much to ask for.

In short, this album is an example of how not to make a pop metal album. While each individual song is passable, and a couple songs are actually good (‘Out of My Life’, ‘Blood Brothers’), it’s a fucking chore to listen to more than two at a time. CyHra are a talented band that have already proven themselves to be musically capable, but they really jumped the gun by going hyper-commercial in No Halos in Hell.

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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)

Progressive Metal: New Single From Freaky Jelly

Brazilian proggers Freaky Jelly have released their first single since their debut album in 2017. The band also has a new album on the way for 2020, although no more details have been released yet.

Singer Ricardo De Stefano on ‘When Hope Dies’:
“We tried a different approach in terms of production, getting closer to the sound of modern prog metal bands. Guitars are heavier, keyboards delivers futuristic atmospheres, and there is some tribal elements which gives dynamics to the song. The mood is dark and melancholic.”

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Edge Of Paradise – Universe Review

Score3.5/10
GenreMelodic Metal (Pop Metal)
CountryUSA (Los Angeles)
Runtime36:11
Release Date8 November 2019
Record LabelFrontiers

Modern melodic metal is something I’ve been on board with since I first heard Amaranthe years ago. To me, pop and metal can complement each other better than anything else, when it’s done properly. The most obvious examples include albums by Chaos Magic, The Dark Element, and CyHra, where the catchiness and electronic elements achieve a balance with heavy metal energy and instrumentation. Unfortunately, LA’s female-fronted outfit Edge of Paradise bypasses this approach in Universe, instead following the footsteps of bands like Delain and Metalite.

What I mean by this is the fact that, where those first bands I mentioned have the majority of their sound rooted in metal, Edge of Paradise sit way the fuck over on the pop/alt side. There are some industrial influences within Universe‘s heavily-electronic style, but it doesn’t help at all to prevent the end result: a sound that’s weak, forgettable, and painfully one-dimensional.

However, I can’t in good conscience say that Universe isn’t metal at all, because that’d be a lie. There’s some decent riffage in a lot of the intros and transitions, such as in ‘Universe’ and ‘Face of Fear’. Plus, the instrumental finisher, ‘Burn the Sun’, is a decent metal instrumental. This hardly outweighs the non-metalness of the vocals, melodies, and straight execution, but it’s something.

While I don’t really have any favourite part of Universe, I do have a least favourite; the vocals are a complete miss for me. Especially the whispered vocals which, unfortunately, populate like sixty percent of the album. I mean, seriously, what the fuck even is that? The whole vocal delivery makes me cringe and writhe in my skin. It’s awkward. In all honesty, it was hard for me to look past them on my first listen of the album when I was trying to figure out if there was anything underneath them that would make the album worth listening to.

Which, aside from a bit of guitarwork, there really wasn’t. A bit of a waste of fucking time, if you ask me. If you want to take a break from all of the great metal that’s come out recently, give this one a spin.

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Progressive Metal: Sons Of Apollo Releasing Album In January

Prog supergroup Sons of Apollo was founded in 2017. The band consists of various virtuoso musicians such as Dream Theater’s former drummer and past keyboardist Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian.

They released their debut, Psychotic Symphony, that same year and met generally favourable reception.

The group have now announced the details for their second album, which will be called MMXX (pronounced “2020”).

01. Goodbye Divinity
02. Wither To Black
03. Asphyxiation
04. Desolate July
05. King Of Delusion
06. Fall To Ascend
07. Resurrection Day
08. New World Today

MMXX will be released on 17 January 2020 under InsideOut Music.

Sons of Apollo have also announced their 2020 headline tour dates.

North America 2020:
Fri 1/24 Pomona, CA The Glass House
Sat 1/25 Los Angeles, CA The Roxy
Sun 1/26 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
Tue 1/28 Salt Lake City, UT The State Room
Wed 1/29 Denver, CO The Oriental Theater
Fri 1/31 St. Charles, IL Arcada Theater
Sat 2/1 Battle Creek, MI The Music Factory
Sun 2/2 Toronto, ONT. Mod Club
Mon 2/3 Montreal QUE. Corona Theater
Wed 2/5 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club
Thu 2/6 New York, NY Gramercy Theater
Fri 2/7 Jim Thorpe, PA Penn’s Peak
Sat 2/8 Englewood, NJ Bergen PAC

Europe 2020:
Sat 2/29 Germany TBA
Mon 3/2 Drammen, Norway Union Scene
Tue 3/3 Gothenburg, Sweden Traedgarn
Thu 3/5 Kyiv, Ukraine N.A.U Theatre
Sat 3/7 Moscow, Russia RED
Sun 3/8 St Petersburg, Russia Aurora
Tue 3/10 Pratteln, Switzerland Z7
Wed 3/11 Milan, Italy Live Club
Fri 3/13 Bilbao, Spain Santana 27
Sat 3/14 Barcelona, Spain Razzmatazz 2
Sun 3/15 Madrid, Spain La Riviera
Tue 3/17 France TBA
Wed 3/18 France TBA
Thu 3/19 London, U.K. Islington Assembly Hall
Fri 3/20 Eindhoven, Netherlands Prognosis Festival
Sun 3/22 Show Brno, Czech Republic Sono
Tue 3/24 Kosice, Slovakia Colosseum
Wed 3/25 Budapest, Hungary Barba Negra

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Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination Review

Score9.5/10
GenreProgressive Folk Metal
CountryUSA (Boston)
Runtime01:06:12
Release Date1 November 2019
Record LabelIndependent

Not many bands can pull off an exceptional atmospheric album so, when one does, it always gets me excited about it. One of the few (and latest) this year to accomplish such a feat are Boston’s Wilderun with their third album, Veil of Imagination. It expertly conjures deep feelings like wonder, determination, aggression, hate, fear, reflection, and everything in between. With rich orchestrations supporting it, Veil of Imagination is as colourful as its album cover would have you believe.

One of the amazing things about Veils of Imagination is how it hangs between so many genres yet doesn’t quite fit definitively into any of them. This album has been the topic of a few of my conversations lately, and everyone I talk to has a different take on what they’d consider it as. Personally, I think it fits well enough under the banner of “progressive folk”, but friends of mine have fought me on this, instead calling it things like “epic progressive death”, “progressive symphonic”, or even “atmospheric death”. The thing I find fascinating isn’t the label itself (I hardly ever get hung up on metal subgenres because they’re not absolute), it’s the fact that everyone I’ve talked to seems to have had a different experience with the album, driving them to pick out different defining characteristics about it.

The truth is, there is no right and wrong, especially when it comes to Veils of Imagination. It’ll be flowing with a light, carefree melody over bright orchestrations or acoustic guitar one second then it’ll explode into insanely harsh blast beats and gutteral vocals the next. There’s a steady, haunting undertone to the album, but it’s more apparent at some times than others.

If there’s one downside to the album, it’s that it only really works if you listen to it all at once. Each song is dynamic and holds it own, sure, but to get that special, full impact, listening to the entire thing is a necessity.

So, if you want to hear one of the best metal albums of the entire year, make damn sure to give Veil of Imagination a spin. This is my first experience with Wilderun but, after this, I’m ready to dive into their previous work.

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The Dark Element – Songs The Night Sings Review

Score9/10
GenreSymphonic Melodic Metal
CountryFinland
Runtime55:55
Release Date8 November 2019
Record LabelFrontiers

The Dark Element was formed in 2016 by former Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon and former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen. Their self-titled debut combined elements of symphonic metal and pop to deliver a strong, synth-heavy melodic metal album. While that debut was pretty good, their sophomore effort, Songs the Night Sings blows it out of the fucking water. The sound is fuller, the arrangements are more diverse, and everything else has gotten a serious upgrade.

All of the aspects of The Dark Element that were good still remain. Anette’s vocals (while a bit more chesty and less sharp this time around) are as good as ever and belt out some excellent melodies. On top of that, the electronic and synth elements are lively, and a powerful energy is carried through the whole album. However, the synth stuff is now supported by orchestrations and the guitarwork is way more intricate. Combine this with a beefier production and you quickly see why this could be the best melodic metal album of the year.

Another area in which Songs the Night Sings excels in is variety. There’s not a whole lot you won’t find in this album; there are lighter songs in ‘I Have to Go’ and ‘To Whatever End’, intense, riff-heavy tracks like ‘The Pallbearer Walks Alone’ and ‘Not Your Monster’, and everything in between. The album also flows really smoothly, with well-constructed ups-and-downs, allowing for the emotionality to run organically.

Aside from all this, the biggest improvement is in the little things. While I really enjoyed The Dark Element, my primary complaint was the lack of detail. Fortunately, this is the farthest thing from being an issue here because it’s full to the brim with expertly-placed touches. Some of my favourites include the synthwork in ‘The Pallbearer Walks Alone’, the 7/4 section in ‘Pills on my Pillow’, the killer guitar solos, and the funky instrumental in ‘Get Out of My Head’, but that’s just scratching the surface of what this album has to offer.

If you’re looking for an electronic/metal crossover that works, look no further than Songs the Night Sings. It brings all the weight and emotion of metal and tops it off with a shiny, melodic finish without losing any musical integrity.

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