Full of melodramatic music and outrageous darkness is what is best to describe Lycanthia's sophomore album 'Oligarchy' as, but the only downside is that there is really too much going on, for example the harsh male vocals on top of the female high vocals doesn't sound good, and maybe alternating the vocals would. The music itself is fairly good for a Doom-laden Metal album but still the guitars lack any real presence, ironically giving it an even more raw presentation, even though the drums and the keyboards steal the show. However no matter what the negative parts of the album are, the good points are that it is very dark, gothic and beyond extreme, something which lacks in some bands these days.
[6.5] RHYS STEVENSON
'A World So Cold'
Making their return with their second album is Austrian Melodic Power / Gothic group Illuminata, the three male and three female ensemble bring to the masses 'A World So Cold' released in 2011. This sees the sextet signed to Napalm Records and also brings their delightful and majestic sounds to the table once more, epic symphonies, luscious vocals and powerful music come together to take the listener on a magical journey through the wispy clouds and wintry mountains of the Austrian alps as Illuminata lead the way and deliver an absolute epic in the tune of Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil, but what is missing is the one and only fact, this album is too short, it is that good.
 RHYS STEVENSON
THE NINE TREASURES
'十丈铜嘴 Arvan Ald Guulin Hunshoor'
Simply put, this could be Chinese Metal album of the year, because '十丈铜嘴 Arvan Ald Guulin Hunshoor' not only has lyrics sung in Mongolian, features Chinese Folk music mixed with Heavy Metal or because it's the debut album by The Nine Treasures, but because the absolute originality is parallel. Hailing from Inner Mongolia, The Nine Treasures weave together a myriad of musical instruments to effectively deliver a piece of music that makes most Oriental Metal bands obsolete and what makes The Nine Treasures so special is that they've only been around two years, released their debut and are signed to a major Chinese label, in fact they've only started, next stop Loud Park?
 RHYS STEVENSON
TERMINAL LOST (天幕落)
Darkness falls over Shanghai as Terminal Lost return with their second slab of evil Melodic Black Metal in the form of '卷贰 凤凰山', the quintet bring the darker side of the Chinese Metal scene to the masses and blasts wide open the doors for black wolves to charge forward at the speed of the drums, whilst ravens swoop down as the riffs drop and the Oriental sounds deliver a soul-soothing and soul-crushing dual blow, this is an album full of many influences to keep any listener occupied and so it will be interesting to see where Terminal Lost go on from here, whether to more Oriental sounds, darker atmospheres or harder music.
[8.5] RHYS STEVENSON
'Infidel Art / Hail Horror Hail'
So way, way back in 1995, Sigh the Black Metal / Avant Garde Metal lords of Japan, released their sophomore album as a follow up to 1993's 'Scorn Defeat', 'Infidel Art' sees more melancholy develop from the band who at this point were a trio. Mixing the darkness of the Japanese history with the bleak and cold atmosphere found in traditional Black Metal, this album delivers a cross between extreme music and the oriental sounds of Japan, now one felt that the film The Grudge was eerie enough, but when an album like this comes out of the dark to haunt your hearing, it would seem wrong to put it as a stereotypical black metal album, for here is a band who undoubtedly changed the course of Japanese Metal forever.
Moving onto 1997 and Sigh turn up a notch by bringing in darker imagery and a far more cold, bitter and evil atmosphere into their third release 'Hail Horror Hail', which in turn reveals itself to be a rather sensational and unnerving album. Full of the Avant Garde Metal style in the music parts and Black Metal vocals cover the rest of the album with the bleak and eerie atmosphere warranted by the album from the first song to the very last song, Sigh take the listener on a journey of mystery, myth and total legendary proportions with this release and as they now at present have nine albums in their 23 year career, Sigh are now Japanese Metal legends.