Reading again the reviews below (just before I press the Publish button), I feel that this time I have been somehow very strict. However the overproduction and the difficult political and economic situation (which will surge physical sales of non-essential goods in the coming months) require new bands to be unique and innovative. Personally speaking from the standpoint of a fan who has family to support and bills to pay, my purchases will reduce and become more selective in the near future.
Fortis Ventus - Vertalia
Fortis Ventus are a symphonic metal band coming from Athens, Greece. Vertalia is their debut album in which (as pretty much expected) they draw their main influences from bands like Nightwish and while someone might say that mimicking is the greatest form of flattery, objective listeners may be disturbed by the lack of personality. I certainly want to remain respectful and do not undermine the effort of any artist but there is a thin line that separates being influenced from copying and in this case this line has become almost invisible...Nevertheless the album is still very enjoyable and the songs well played, so those who miss the Finish can use it as a fine alternative/substitute...
Graveshadow - The Uncertain Hour
Another symphonic metal band for this month which sounds much more original trying to combine elements from Doom, Thrash and even Goth Metal. The Symphonic Power Metal of Sacramento's Graveshadow sounds much heavier and being helped by the wonderful vocals of Rachl "Raxx" Quinn offers 10 incredibly catchy songs. A "feel-good" album for sure...
Split Image - Torrent of Illusion
I guess anyone who sees the Ed Repka-style cover of the new Split Image album expects to listen nothing else than old-school Thrash Metal. Crossover elements are pretty much prevailing in this case and even though -once again- originality is not something that anyone should expect here, their beatdown/hardcore/crossover/thrash metal hybrid will be appealing for fans of the subgenre(s).
Critical Defiance - No Life Forms
Another Thrash Metal album coming from Chile this time. If insanely fast and aggressive Thrash without any technicalities is your cup of tea then the new album by Critical Defiance will be your album of the year. To my ears it sounds single dimensional though, hence I could not be 100% "on-boarded"...
Kanine - Karnage
Slamming Metal is a term that I first time encounter but despite the "gimmick" to me what I listen in Karnage is just plain Deathcore which I must admit is very technical and well played but still bound to remain uninteresting due to the subgenre limitations.
An Abstract Illusion - Wow
Six years after their highly praised full-length debut (Illuminate The Path), An Abstract Illusion return with their second album Woe, a pretty ambitious effort I must say comprising of one 60-minute song divided into seven pieces. Even though I am not the biggest fan of Atmospheric Metal, this one I have to admit is really great mainly due to its progressive character, the great riffs and the wonderful melodies.
Chaotian - Effigies of Obsolescence
Following up their hugely respected 2 demos (also available as a compilation) and a fairly recent 7”, Chaotian return with their official debut. While retaining its technical elements, their Death Metal focuses on the groove making Effigies of Obsolescence one of the heaviest albums of the year!
Sublation - The Path To Bedlam
Sublation are a two member group who play modern Death Metal in the vein of NWOADM style. The Path To Bedlam is their debut album, rich of technical elements, nice riffs, excellent production and plenty of modern groove. If you are fan of the previous, do not hesitate !
The Human Race Is Filth - Echo Chambers
Echo Chambers is a 10 minute crust/sludge/grind assault by THRIF (The Human Race Is Filth). It is a long shot to seek innovation and variety in Grindcore records however the latest album by Wormrot has set the bar very high and can be a fine example of the Grindcore archetype for the years to come...