Like an avalanche that failed to go off, Calcined are perhaps one of the least musically apt bands from Switzerland, well, in fact they implement a sector of Brutal Death Metal into the ranks, collectively the music itself is good but the vocals lack clarity and are often grunted rather than growled. This being their debut EP 'Thwarted', the blastbeats, riffs and composure is sublime, the audio inserts in relation to the additional recordings are fairly decent, the vocals could be adapted but none the less their debut EP is not a complete failure, but the Swiss quartet are heading in the right direction, eventually the sound will improve.
[6.5] RHYS STEVENSON
FROSTHAMMER / DEMORIAN
'Old Times Glances Upon US'
Joining forces on the 2011 split release 'Old Times Glances Upon US' is Canada's Symphonic Black Metal quartet Frosthammer and Sweden's Black Metal duo Demorian. Frosthammer deliver the signature raw sound they have always carried on their releases and this ultimately sheds an atmospheric approach of dark dankness and chaotic depression in its suicidal form. Delivering a cold blast of winter-covered Symphonic Black metal is what Frosthammer does best and on this split they do not fail to impress. On the other half Demorian bring a furious excitement of brain-crushing Black Metal, raw blast-beats simmering under a wispy audio wave of raw vocals, fast and insane drumming coalescing with mid-paced guitars to add a further dimension to their side of this split. This is perhaps two of the most darkest Black Metal bands in the underground, just be aware that they don't take weak ears on this one, a split release not for the faint of heart.
 + [8.5]
DEMORIAN / ANCIENT WARLORD
'Infernal Antichristian Incantations'
Swedish Black Metal underground tyrants Demorian hit back with another split release, this time it is with Filipino Black Metal quartet Ancient Warlord under the release title of 'Infernal Antichristian Incantations'. Demorian carry on their trademark raw black metal parameter in relation to the ear-burning received from the scintillating drumming by the Swedish duo, sadly though this is not one of their best outings, but still is a well devised sound. Moving onto the second half of this split album is the Filipino quartet Ancient Warlord with their rather unethical sound of raw guitars humming and drumming providing a foundation for cold-hearted vocals. This is perhaps one of the Philippines darkest bands and essentially brings two continents together on this release, a truly explicit result of sensational Black Metal.
 +  RHYS STEVENSON
'An Angel Burden'
Fighting their way back from the studio is American Heavy Power Metal one-man band Ashen Reign, who is all done by Brent McDaniel and in a breathtaking style at that, fusing a mystical atmosphere to the backbone of his eccentric wielding of Heavy Metal to Power Metal to create a dynamic sound of which is totally unique. By far one of the best American Metal releases of this year, with soul and a sense of dedication clearly evident on his sophomore album 'An Angel Burden'. As extravagant as Devin Townsend of Canada, Brent McDaniel and his magical Ashen Reign are set to become legend.
 RHYS STEVENSON
'Remember The Fallen'
Galician Black / Death Metal novices Barbarian Prophecies devour the horrific accounts of Auschwitz on their sophomore album 'Remember The Fallen', with artwork to symbolise this and sounds to mimic the negativity of the brutality experienced at such concentration camps. Fast, insanely brutal and despairingly dark, this is Spain's darkest side and inevitably one of the Spanish Metal scene's darkest album releases. The band however is not associated with the NSBM movement and should not be judged as such. For their second attempt at a mass metal break out, they have gone and done the right thing, kept it extreme and brain-challenging.
[8.5] RHYS STEVENSON