Part II of an earlier series of albums that this author believes are well worth everybody’s time. Do check out the first installment of the series here.
1. Bifrost – Mana Ewah (Pagan/Folk Metal, Eniheit Produktionen)
What drew me to this band was the presence of Mathias Sollak of Harakiri for the Sky. The love for nature and home in stark contrast to the despondent underpinnings of Harakiri for the Sky, makes a pagan folk metal so much more enticing. There is an urgency and a far sturdier sense of musicianship here than most of pagan metal today, as they on most counts amount to a rudimentary guitar work while entirely relying on the built up of a flamboyant atmosphere. This largely becomes derivative and the exact opposite approach employed by Bifrost is what makes it hit.
2. Graves at Sea – The Curse That Is (Sludge/Doom, Relapse Records)
Graves at Sea sounds like a band that was cooked in the same steaming black cauldron that Indian and Lord Mantis found themselves in. Especially the vocals are definitely in the same vein. When it comes to the music not only does the sound limit itself it to the two aforementioned bands, but marks close resemblance to ‘Dopesick’ era Eyehategod with a distinct melodic quality added in. Similarities are a given in such a genre as Sludge and yet Graves at Sea hold their own.
3. Heavenwood – The Tarot of the Bohemians (Gothic Metal, Massacre Records/Raising Legends)
Now Heavenwood’s been a band that has always played the safe card. Yes, delving in a genre not exactly known for its experimentation must be a constraining factor. Gothic metal solely relies on riffs and atmosphere and sticks to a tried and tested song structure to get their things out. But with an experience that has spanned over two decades and four albums, they’ve created their best record yet. ‘The Tarot of the Bohemians’, sees the band shed their ‘Gothic’ and ‘Icon’ references evermore and carving out songs which might be termed to have a definitive Heavenwood edge.
4.Lutece – From Glory Towards Void (Melodic Black Metal, Dooweet Records)
This came out of the blue indeed. Lutece plays an extremely catchy sort of black metal, fraught with melody, unveiled as though it was on a war footing. Sometimes they do resort to some of the typical metal tropes and yet they still sound refreshing marking thus a high degree of replayability.
5. Marionette – Propaganda (Melodic Death/Post-metal, Unsigned)
Marionette mixes up quite a few genres and therein has a tough time being pigeonholed into one. But if I were to pick out a few strains of semblance, those would probably refer to some melodic death and post-metal hybrid. The long song structures with an expansive use of keyboards, metalcore-ish vocals, sludgy heavy weight riffs make it a rather interesting potpourri of different styles.