Review: Stonegriff - Come Taste The Blood (Metal On Metal 2015 CD)

 One of the latest newcomers of the ever so supreme Swedish doom-metal scene is Stonegriff. Or to be accurate, they have been around for a few years already, but with the release of Come Taste The Blood, their sophomore album, they have taken a step up and joined the real elite. Two years have passed since the release of their debut Prologus Magicus, which sure wasn't bad, but nothing on it really stood out and it kind of left me with a bland impression. But as soon as I heard the first tone of Come Taste the Blood, it was clear that things definitely had changed this time.

 Musically though, no sensational changes has taken place, other than that they have remarkably improved the song-writing and sound a lot tighter. But what really makes them feel like brand new band is the sound. After a quick research, you'll find that the guy who's responsible for the phenomenal production of this album is none less than Andy La Roque (who by the way also did a great job with Trial's last album). It just sounds amazing, and it makes you reflect of how much of a difference the right sound actually can make to an album, even though some (myself included) sometimes might think of it as something that no one but the audio-nerds care about.

 Anyway, with this album Stonegriff without question establishes themselves as one of the most interesting Swedish bands right now. Songs like the pounding Valkyrian Quest, the groovy You're Never Alone and the absolutely monumental In Doom We Trust (despite the slightly corny title, ruthless track!) can impossibly leave any doom-connoisseur unimpressed. 7.5/10


Review: Dark Quarterer - Ithaca (Metal On Metal 2015 CD)

 After releasing new albums by classic bands such as Attacker, Heretic and Outrage, the latest old legends to be added to Metal on Metal's rooster is none less than the mighty Dark Quarterer. I must admit that I'm not really familiar with their post 2000-releases, but the first three albums are nothing but phenomenal stuff. Without any exaggeration whatsoever, their self titled debut album is one of the best epic metal albums ever made, up there with Into Glory Ride, King Of The Dead, Crystal Logic etc. So, as you might be able to tell, my expectations for Ithaca were definitely set very high.

 It starts off well with the grandiose and bombastic opener The Path Of Life. It's clear that they've managed to re-invent their sound in a great way, particularly because of the addition of keyboards in their lineup. They are used both as more modern sounding synthesizers to create an epic mood, as well as classic organs and regular piano, which gives a touch of the 70's in songs like Escape and the closing Last Fight. Compared to those quite up tempo and almost cheerful songs, there couldn't be a larger contrast to tracks like the pitch black doom monstrosity Mind Torture, or the fateful semi-ballad Nostalgia, which brings my thoughts to the stunning The Entity from their first album. It's just incredible what a diverse album they have delivered.

 The only track that I think is a bit weaker is Rage Of Gods. Sure, it definitely has an epic atmosphere, but I it's a bit too repetitive, and the different parts of it doesn't really flow together so well. And to be honest, a ten minutes long track by this band with that title made me expect something in league with Collosus Of Argil, which Rage Of Gods unfortunately is quite far away from. But a song that in fact met those expectations, and by far is my personal favorite from this album, is Night Song. This song just has it all. I never would have expected them to be able to match the immortal classics from their early days, but I'd actually say that this is one of their five best songs ever, as well as the best song I've heard so far from this year. The definite highlight of this surprisingly qualitative album, which in turn goes right into the list of the 2015 highlights so far. 8,5/10


Review: Satan's Host – Pre-dating God part 1 & 2 (Moribund 2015 CD)

 These US veterans decided to not only give us one, but two brand new albums this year, which I doubt anyone would mind. The fact that the whole thing is divided into two albums means that there's a lot of music to take in, but the songs are very well written and filled with small details. Even though you've listened to the whole thing 10-15 times, there's always something new to discover each time you revisit these albums.

Also, the vocal performance of the one and only Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin (or if you prefer it so, Leviathan Thisiren) is absolutely brilliant. Anyone who have heard Ample Destruction shouldn't be surprised that he's got a hell of a voice, but the performance here shows a width in his range that is just incredible. Valley of Blood sounds like they have used five different vocalists. Add to that the evil riffing and the crazy yet inexcessive drums, and you've got some of the most interesting and innovatory heavy metal you possibly could find these days. Imagine if Iron Maiden on their post 2000-albums instead of the progressive elements would have taken some influences from death and black metal, and I think you've got quite a good idea of how Satan's Host sounds. We'll see if Maiden will be able to deliver something of this high quality with their new album, it sure won't be easy... 8/10