Daylight Dies "A Frail Becoming"(Candlelight)
This has that sound which is technically heavy, but is almost so clean sounding that it's soft. It also has that signature Candlelight records "sensitive arty farty" thing going. I dunno if they tell these bands what to sound like of if they pick the bands because they sound a certain way. But for sure this band has that whole meloncholy/sensitive thing going. It's kinda like non-aggressive Death Metal with more mainsream Black Metal leanings thrown in. It's kinda cool at times, just extremely predicable and lacking of any edge really. It makes me want to take a nap really. It's not terribly melodic, but very pop-like within the confines of "dark arty" metal. It's like they wanna sit you down at a fancy restraunt, pour you some wine, and take the stage. Ew. Ok shut it off please! Now!
Doro "Raise Your Fist" (Nuclear Blast)
On the cover Doro is actually raising her knee higher than her fist, which is a bit confusing. But that's where the surprises end here. Oh, except the rather awesome duo with Lemmy on "It still Hurts." Just goes to show - Lemmy's mere presence manages to lift at least one song here above average. This is very solid traditional Heavy Metal with a modern edge. Similar to Rob Halford's solo material in that it is very traditional song structure and lyric-wise - but much heavier than 80s Metal of this type. The songs are of course, totally centered around Doro's vocals and cachy choruses. It's fun and cute with song titles like "Little Headbanger," but nothing about this is phenominal. It's basically pre-packaged for sing along to large festival crowds who will blindly love it. And that's cool, I'd rather people blindly love this than a lot of other shit. But compared to Udo, Halford, or Dickinson's solo stuff - it falls short for sure. But that it even comes close to those guys says something. Doro rocks pretty hard. I just ain't gonna sit here and say she's amazing and phenominal because she just ain't. She simply is Doro, from the 80s. Solid, fun, rockin, cheesy. Nothing more nothing less.
Malignancy "Eugenics" (Willowtip)***
Um...ok, where do I start? This is just about as rediculously chaotic and technical a Death Metal band can get. It's not my thing, but if it is your thing I have rarely heard better than this. I just can't fucking headbang to this. It comes down to the drums. They are just FUCKED. There is hardly ever a straight beat for more than a couple seconds. It's like they have this rule "we have to change the beat every 2 seconds MAX." Man, if like your shit technical and insane sounding that way? For sure get this. hey are damned good, I just personally cannot get into this shit. I mean live I would just be laughing the whole time at the absurdity of it all. And the kids would just be there in the pit going fuckin nuts. I can see it now. NOT old school at all.
Metsatoll "Ulg" (Spinefarm)
This was released last year but somehow took me till now to get it. What a mistake that was! This is the best thing I have heard in years! As far as "folk Metal" goes - I am not one of these people that just likes anything with funny sounding wind instruments and a bunch of funny clothing in the band pic and silly lyrics about beer and pirates. Metsatoll clearly has a sense of humor, but they take their music seriously and have much pride in what they do. But it is offered up in a very sincere way. There is a strong spirit to this music I must say is lacking in so many other bands of this genre. Maybe it is because so few Estonian metal bands have reached a wide international audience. I'm not sure, but there is a real passion here and a fresh feeling not found in any other area of heavy metal that I can think of. It feels "new" not tired and ancient like Thrash Metal feels these days. Like other styles, Folk Metal has plenty of fake poser garbage. Metsatoll has been honing their own Estonian brand folk Metal for many years, so they are not newcomers jumping on some band wagon. Their sound here is very developed and nice and organic sounding. It starts with a basic heavy riff based sound, very solid natural sounding drums, and various wind instruments and mouth harp (the cowbell of Folk Metal!) Overall, it manages to sound much more raw and simple than the stereotypical overproduced folk Metal out there. The vocals in this band are what really stand out. Somewhere they have added a baritone voice, which melds perfectly with the lead vocals, which are slightly higher in tone. Together there is a very strong choral effect unlike many bands I have heard. "Muhu Dread" features baritone vocals as the main and takes the album into a new direction. The flute lead clearly compliments to lead vocals and choral background vocals answer the call like some primitive symphony. I could go on and on, but simply put - this band really has their sound dialed in and is easily one of the best, if not THE best Folk Metal band out there today. Highly recommended.
Satan's Wrath "galloping blasphemy" (Metal Blade)
This has some very strong old school satanic riffs right in your face from the start. This is the sort of stuff I would expect from Metal Blade in 2012 but rarely hear. Nice guitar work. Contemporary enough to stand up to new stuff, but well versed in the old school. Vocals are very cool and somewhat peculiar. But they are not so unlike the vocals of Ross DOlan of Immolation. Basically Death Metal vocals, put to a slower 80s sort of tempo. I mean except when they decide to play all out thrash! Nice old school Slayer meets Iron Maiden guitar harmonies. Whoah - hello Possessed! Nice to hear you again! glad a band has decided to immitate you again! Not much else to say here, except that Metal Blade has not lost all sense of connection to the idea of bringing quality underground heavy metal to the front! Reminds me of stuff you typically hear from underground European labels such as Iron Bonehead. Shaxul approval has been given here!