GMA - Vol168 - Elessär, April Weeps, Hamferð, Seeds Of Iblis, Gauntlet, Goresoerd, AkromA, The Witch, The Bleeding, Frostbitten Kingdom
Welcoming to the international stage is Argentina's Elessär, whose premier album 'Dark Desires' released last year, delivers a magical and galloping sound of Symphonic Power Metal wrapped within the elegance of life and fantasy. There seems to be a love affair between any Hispanic nation and the Power Metal, Gothic Metal and Symphonic Metal styles, Elessär certainly seems to prove that point. In fact Elessär are the sort of band you would expect a European label to snap up immediately (what are they playing at?). As for their album, Alejandra's vocals almost certainly wallow in the style of Tarja-era Nightwish, and the music does too. Make no mistake, they might not be well known outside South America, but blimey they would be well received in Europe!
Download This: "Heroes Born Dead"
For Fans of: Sonata Arctica, Nightwish, Therion
 RHYS STEVENSON
'Outer Calm. Pain Within'
What could be called somewhat more gratifying amongst other underground Progressive Metal releases, 'Outer Calm. Pain Within' is the debut album by Slovakia's April Weeps. What instantly hits out is the inevitable contrast between the female and male vocals, melodic and gritty respectfully. Whilst the vocals lead the front-line, the real artillery comes from the guitars, drums and keyboards, firing out a rally of riffs, beats and atmospheric elements that come together to deliver a sound that is guaranteed to crush your soul, make you spit blood and wish you had not shagged Dream Theater so hard, because this release is 10x more impressive then them. The modern wave of Progressive Metal is amongst us, lead by April Weeps who are flying the flag for the Slovak Metal scene.
Download This: "Buried"
For Fans of: Opeth, Soilwork, Killswitch Engage
 RHYS STEVENSON
What is so magical about the debut full length album 'Evst' by Faroe Islanders Hamferð is the sheer magnitude of power rumbling throughout Jón Aldará's vocals, breaking out into an almost operatic tone. Reminiscing of early Pavarotti, gone metal. Contrasting against that comes some of the grizzliest Death Metal vocals you could possibly imagine (OK this might be a bit of an over-exaggeration, but the elemental truth is the vocals are blindingly crushing). What this Faroese beast has done is taken the core essences of Paradise Lost, whipped in a Nordic atmosphere and turned the combo into a sound that inevitably was justifiable to why they got to play Wacken, their next effort will certainly be watched with interest.
Download This: "Sinnisloysi"
For Fans of: Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Amorphis
[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
SEEDS OF IBLIS
'Anti Quran Rituals'
Possibly one of the most extremist Black Metal groups to emerge from the Middle East ever, Seeds of Iblis are an Iraqi quartet who exclusively preach about one thing: Anti-Islam. Such a controversial release made public is sure to cause a division amongst the metal community, but discounting the lyrics aside, their debut album 'Anti Quran Rituals' spits out venom in all directions. Through the use of barbaric riffs, traditional Middle Eastern music as the atmospheric backdrop, thunderous drumming and spleen-splitting vocals, Seeds Of Iblis are primed to make a name for themselves and for those who seek unique sounds or bands from far-flung lands, 'Anti Quran Rituals' is one album you must own, regardless.
* We suggest a song to download, but due to the nature of the lyrics we are not going to suggest any.
For Fans of: Gorgoroth, Carpathian Forest, Marduk
 RHYS STEVENSON
'Break The Chains'
Greek Heavy Metallers Gauntlet made their voices known last year with the release of their first ever demo entitled 'Break The Chains', delivering what you would expect from any Classic-style Heavy Metal release: infectious vocals, melodic riffs and rallying drumming, all in the Iron Maiden-esque style. Sure granted it is nothing new and might bore some fans to tears, but the solidarity of the release pushes the band on and with this effort, we might not be waiting much longer for their next release which is surely poised to build upon this success. Standing at a modest 21 minutes, this is a demo that any Heavy Metal fan should own, however it was limited to 150 copies, so you would need to act very fast!
Download This (if you can): Hearts Of Metal
For Fans of: Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Metallica
[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
Celebrating 10 years this year may surpass the fact that not only was 'Asülum' Goresoerd's third album, but it was their first release on Inverse Records. Estonia's most revered Death Grinders have once again served up another slab of face-mauling grit and stuck to their indigenous Estonian tongue. Now if this album was to be a film, it probably would be Saw 7, because it is soon over before it has started and it delivers a high velocity impact in a rapid rate of fire. Plus naturally it's gore, but that's besides the point. The point is 'Asülum' proves itself as a well-planned work of art, that delivers outrageously catchy riffs, ballistic drums and raucous vocals, all of which are guaranteed to gain attention across planet metal. Goresoerd are one hell of a hidden Estonian gem, mine it at will.
Download This: "Soerd"
For Fans of: Deathbound, Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death
 RHYS STEVENSON
Such a far outcry from what you would expect from a Symphonic-charged Progressive Black Metal album, the vocals sound so painful it makes stepping on Lego entertaining and feel as if under anesthetic. Seriously though the keyboards, female chanting and drums deliver the greater parts of this album, but the vocals, well, are enough for you to cry, the guitars are there but at times are muffled by the vocals. Perhaps if they were deeper and less on the verge of developing 'Blackened Screamo', this album might be going places, but Akroma's latest effort 'La Cène' is certainly not pushing them anywhere. This French lot may need to come up with something far more serious for their next effort, or consider it game over. This album is an own goal for Akroma.
Download This: "Simon"
For Fans of: Ihsahn, Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved.
[5.5] RHYS STEVENSON
'Black Flower Field'
You know when a release is going to be extra special when a film clip makes it's way into the introduction of a song, well The Witch have done just and with the Pulp Fiction reference where Samuel L Jackson delivers his excellent biblical passage before executing Brad, it really sets the tone for the release. This French Progressive Stoner unit have certainly delivered their A-game on their second EP 'Black Flower Field'. Infectious hooks, ravaging riffs and biting vocals charge this release into the next dimension, that is as a release placing The Witch firmly on the front line for an imminent signing next year; or we will eat our speakers .'Black Flower Field' is certainly one hell of an interesting EP
Download This: "Skeleton Soul"
For Fans of: Mastodon, Kyuss, Fu Manchu
[7.5] RHYS STEVENSON
'Rites Of Putrefaction'
They might as well just of made an instrumental and save the hassle of the vocalist turning up, granted the debut EP by Italian Death Metallers The Bleeding is enough to make you poop your pants, but the vocals are on par with grunts made by cavemen. Seriously though if anyone wanted to sign along to this, the best option would be to mime. The only credible aspect of 'Rites Of Putrefaction' is the ferocity of the drums, the guitars make the occasional 'wow factor', but the overall impression of the EP is one of mass frustration, there again this would mostly appeal to fans of Grindcore, Brutal Death Metal and Goregrind, so who can honestly complain? The neighbors next door of course....
Download This: "No Dawn"
For Fans of: Aborted, Suffocation, Cattle Decapitation
[6.5] RHYS STEVENSON
'The Winter War Symphony'
If anyone knows their history, then they will recall the bloody battle that took place between Finland and the former USSR, otherwise known as the "Winter War". What really sticks out like an impaled thumb on Frostbitten Kingdom's latest release is the sincerity of the music, from start to finish the blistering aggressiveness exerted here is near enough a musical representation of the brutality and pain experienced on the snow-trodden battlefield. Opening up with a ten minute wonder-opus and then cascading down to the 4 minute mark before reaching 6 and then 8 minute-long songs, 'The Winter War Symphony' warrants more attention than it is getting as it makes Immortal seem truly outdated, if you dig Melodic Black / Death Metal in the style of Hecate Enthroned, etc, then you're bound to be blitzed apart from this Finnish resistance.
Download This: "Sentinels Of The Silent"
For Fans of: Hecate Enthroned, Immortal, Behemoth
[8.5] RHYS STEVENSON
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