Ferriterium – Calvaire

What was first established in Ferriterium‘s sound with their second full length album, Le dernier livre in 2019, is now improved and going full force with the band’s new offering Calvaire (=calvary). The French act appears focused and inspired, with a full and potent production heavily leaning towards melodic black metal, but reaching levels of epicness that are not achieved or found often in this subgenre. And Ferriterium achieves that with a personal and characteristic musical groundwork, don’t expect another copycat.

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Funeral Winds – Essence

Funeral Winds is an old dog. Possibly one of the first Dutch black metal bands, they have been around since the early 90’s but haven’t had a dozen and more full lengths as other bands that have lasted that long have. Essence is the fifth record of the band, the follow-up to 2018’s Sinister Creed, one that honestly didn’t win me over but I never miss a chance to look into any activity by this long running act.

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A Diadem of Dead Stars – The Furrow of Woes (EP)

Meticulous followers of the Greek underground black metal scene would have noticed by now, how A Diadem of Dead Stars showed signs of activity again in 2020, four years after the project’s second full length Kingdoms Bathed In Golden Light. Up to that point in 2016, a handful of releases were released so when the first single … Of Green Pastures… came out last year, relief was kindled that the band is not in the past already. Just in the first days of 2021, A Diadem of Dead Stars opens up with a two-track EP named The Furrow of Woes, which displays clear improvement on their overall music.

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Malakhim – Theion

Theion is the debut full length album by Swedish black metal band Malakhim. It is a follow-up of a demo they released in 2017, which quickly caught attention and had them sign with Iron Bonehead for their first EP II, which came out two years ago. The band features Naglfar guitarist Andreas Nilsson, and they have also (already) released a live album in 2020, from a concert they did in House of Metal 2.

The forty minute record was my first interaction with the band, as I had missed their previous material, which seems as an ambitious effort right of the bat. Malakhim seem determined within their concepts, with a perplexed logo (reminding a bit of the one by Sinmara) and a well designed artwork to go along with easy to guess content. After listening to Theion, my mixed feelings stem from thoughts like the serious questioning of a band’s purpose within extreme metal in this day and age, when so many bands roam and wander. What new or exciting will Malakhim offer to you, an avid fan of Scandinavian melodic black metal? Well, not much.

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Final days of 2020 – Last minute releases

As we are getting ready to place the tombstone for this bleak year, it has been one of the most life-draining December months in recent memory. All around the internet, music albums released these days are most of the times neglected from end-year lists, as there must be a secret competition among webzines on who will post their round-up earlier. This causes a lot of legit records released now to go unnoticed, or at least not praised as much as they could have been.

Here are a handful of picks that fall in this category, coming out too late to be in my personal top 2020 list, while possibly they would have a spot if I had more time to process them. It wouldn’t be a crazy idea to introduce January of each year as another list month, when writers would post their top albums of last year’s December only, to make up for this unfortunate event.

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Commence in barbarity: Notes on war metal

In the beginning, there was Blasphemy. Through their debut Fallen Angel of Doom… in 1990, the Canadian legends hammered down a nail very deeply in the extreme metal scene, in what would prove to be one of the most influential releases of its time, having sparked a whole movement in the following three decades. Sometimes called bestial black / death metal, other times given its own nickname as war metal, the wagon has brought a lot of bands trying to exercise it throughout the years and not always successfully.

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