Every single year there is a recurring problem. We get a truckload of promo’s and press releases in our mailbox and together with those we don’t get anything on but are still worthwhile, we can’t give all of them the attention they deserve. So in an attempt to give those that we were impressed by still some proper attention, we take a look still at some of the releases we missed out on covering earlier and would hope you discover something new along the way yourselves.
There are of course tons of impressive releases coming from the capital country of metal music, Finland. There seems to be something in the lake water over there, being able to boast one after the other high quality piece of music with that magical touch that is hard to describe. It can go from very melodic to devastatingly melancholic to crushingly heavy and harsh. Today we’re having a look at the more melodic and symphonic side that has brought us some giants like Nightwish and Children of Bodom…
Ephemerald – Between the Glimpses of Hope
(19/2 – Inverse Records)
EPHEMERALD start their first album immediately with a boom with ‘Grand Creation’. Followed by my favourite from the album ‘I bear Fire’ a fast song that makes me feel like I’m a Viking marching into battle. In the middle of the album the slow down a bit with my other favourite ‘All there is’. Acoustic guitar parts and lyrics that feel really strong, even though they are quite uncomplicated. After that EPHEMERALD is back with full power and the album finishes off epically with ‘Into the Endless’ Personally I enjoy Vesa’s voice more during his clear parts as he actually has a nice voice what just unfortunately doesn’t always show in his normal singing style.
Overall I think it shows that all of them already have years of experience in music making and therefore they were able to make a really strong debut album. Some songs could still differ a bit more from each other but this album is definitely worth listening and not just for fans of symphonic or melodic death metal.
Scars Of Solitude – If These Walls Could Talk EP
(26/11 – Inverse Records)
‘If These Walls Could Talk’ is the first EP in the current line-up of the Finnish melodic metal band Scars of Solitude and to me it feels like a big improvement compared to their full-length album Deformation from 2017. The band seems to have grown a lot in those years. Not only is Tuomo‘s voice more pleasant to listen to, their whole EP seems more versatile with influences from different genres and a lot less purely melancholic, what makes it much more interesting even when listened to several times in a row. They also have a lot more energy than in some of there previous releases. My personal favourite is the pretty catchy ‘Dark Matter’. Now I just wait for some gigs near me as these guys are even better when enjoyed live. The EP should be available on vinyl some time during the Summer of 2022.
Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen – Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen
(28/5 – Atomic Fire)
Esa Holopainen is known as the lead guitarist of the legendary Finnish band Amorphis. So when he announced to be releasing his first ever solo album under the moniker Silver Lake, people quickly got really excited. Throw on top of that the addition of guest vocalists under the form of Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Einar Solberg (Leprous), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Anneke Van Giersbergen, Håkan Hemlin, Vesa-Matti Loiri and Amorphis‘ very own Tomi Joutsen, you know you’re in for quite the musical treat. And what a treat it indeed was! The masterfully crafted guitar melodies combined with well-chosen vocal contributions lift several songs into the stratosphere of immediate classics. Just take a listen at lead single ‘Storm‘ with its atmospheric and uplifting melodies or the more heavier tracks ‘In Her Solitude’ (with Tomi Joutsen) and ‘Promising Sun’ (with Björn “Speed” Strid) as some of its highlights, even though it’s hard to choose from all the amazing tracks. Holopainen made this a solo album that is not all about his playing and in all its modesty, it makes the music and vocal performances shine even more. If you somehow have missed this one, please check it out immediately, you won’t regret it.
Thy Row – Unchained
(24/9 – Rockshots Records)
The heavy metal/hard rock outfit Thy Row has been a welcome sight in the Finnish music scene for years and even had a successful stint in Japan a while back. Their infectious and catchy mix of all the right elements of classic heavy metal and hard rock with a clear modern touch is undeniably strong and the soaring vocals of musical busy bee Mikael Salo lifts it even higher. On their debut full-length we find a gathering of previously not recorded live favorites and completely new tracks. It’s simply impossible to sit through ‘Unchained‘ without having at least a couple of tracks worming its way into your brain and take up a permanent spot in there with the clearly 80’s heavy metal/hard rock era inspired melodies and overall extremely catchiness!
Dimman – Songs and Tales of Grievance
(30/7 – Inverse Records)
Another debut album here with Dimman‘s ‘Songs and Tales of Grievance‘. The melodeath outfit boasts a modern sound and it sounds pretty damn good. While they’re using the classic “beauty and the beast” trope with Jenna Kohtala‘s clean vocals and Valtteri Halkola‘s growls, it never really sounds outdated or too much like other similar outfits. The chugging riffs and impressive melodies crafted by the guitarists backed with some impressive rhythm section work through the bass and drums deliver at times really gorgeous soundtracks. The production is really solid, the song-crafting is excellent and they show off a whole lot of potential. This release quickly brought the band on our “to be watched” radar and we’re looking forward what more will come from them!
Lost In Grey – Under The Surface
(2/7 – Reaper Entertainment)
Lost In Grey have been synonymous with a very theatrical brand of metal. Every album tells an epic story that takes place in their own crafted world. With ‘Under The Surface’ they come with yet again a highly impressive piece of music that blends several genres together but is especially very symphonic and epic, like you’re listening to a heavy metal based film score. While the earlier full-length ‘The Waste Land‘ had more “radio friendly” tracks, this time we’re back at more atmospheric storytelling type of tracks. They smartly build up the album from more approachable songs with tracks like ‘Disobedience‘ and ‘Waves‘ over the gorgeous minimalist track ‘Varjo‘ towards the penultimate ‘Stardust’ trifecta of tracks at the end. Counting those tracks together you get to over 20 minutes of majestic epicness that is reminiscent of similar classic multiple chapter tracks that masters like Ayreon and similar acts have brought forth in the past. If you’re looking for bombastic, yet not overbearing and to the point symphonic metal music, look no further!
We had the most interesting chat with lead composer Harri and lyricist/vocalist Anna leading up to the album, check it out here.
Temple Balls – Pyromide
(16/4 – Frontiers Music)
Just before the pandemic hit hard, we were lucky enough to still be able to host Temple Balls at our very own venue JH Asgaard back in 2020 (see the photo report of their show with Shiraz Lane and Block Buster here). Everyone who was there knows that they absolutely rock the shit out of everyone with their great mix of heavy metal and hard rock. After 2 succesfull albums and a steadily growing dedicated fan base, 2021 saw them return with full-length number 3: ‘Pyromide‘! The album proves that these young guns ain’t slowing down any time soon with bangers like ‘Thunder From The North‘ and earwurms like ‘Bad Bad Bad‘. The twin guitar harmonies and catchy vocal melodies prove to relentlessly much fun and the whole album is one big party. Even the ballad of the album works well. Another killer of an album from future greats in the realm of Finnish melodic metal/hard rock!
Arion – Vultures Die Alone
(9/4 – AFM Records)
Arion is yet another band of young guns that has been growing its fan base steadily and named several times as the future for heavy music. With ‘Vultures Die Alone’ they further solidify that trend and bring us a mix of their older symphonic power metal heaviness and more poppy melodic tracks. With guitar virtuoso Iivo Kaipainen showing off this skills and Lassi Vääränen pipes, the high amount of epicness is almost a given. There were a couple of really fun surprises in our books, with highlights under the form of the track ‘Bloodline‘ featuring guest vocals from the infamous Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast) and the poppy ballad ‘In the Name of Love’ featuring the vocals of Susanna Aleksandra (Cyan Kicks), both really out of the box matches with Lassi, but both working as if they were made for each other!
Voidfallen – The Atlas of Spiritual Apocalypse
(8/10 – Inverse Records)
While we did notice the singles leading up to the release of Voidfallen‘s debut full-length ‘The Atlas of Spiritual Apocalypse’, somehow the band really caught our attention once we caught this masked quintet on stage in support of Metsätoll (read the review here). Besides a really cool and intriguing aesthetic with their masks, that actually goes throughout every part of their creations, they deliver a really epic rendition of melodeath that almost gets to symphonic death at times. Think of bands like Wintersun, Norther and Frosttide and you won’t be all that far off. While every now and then they lean over a bit towards the metalcore side, this is a really strong melodeath album that feels like it’s something more and that a whole lot of thought and effort has been put into the creation of this little gem. Just check out the mesmerizingly dark single ‘From Souls to Embers’:
Bloodred Hourglass – Your Highness
(22/10 – Out of Line Music)
When Bloodred Hourglass released ‘Godsend‘ in 2019, we knew that this band was meant for greatness. And with their latest album ‘Your Highness‘, they took it even further. With their main songwriter having left the band, they had to regroup a bit, but luckily this didn’t harm them one bit. The blend of their signature melodeath sound with new elements like more keyboards and even the first time use of clean vocals resulted in easily one of the very best melodic death metal albums of the year. Bangers like ‘Drag Me the Rain‘ and ‘Nightmares Are Dreams Too‘, to emotional tearjerkers like ‘Tell Me About Yesterday Tomorrow’ and the epic closer ‘Until We Meet Again’, sees Bloodred Hourglass rising to the occasion and showing their true potential. This band will become one of the greats in the modern melodeath scene, there is no doubt about that!
Also check out the cool chat we had with vocalist Jarkko Koukonen right here.
Omnium Gatherum – Origin
(5/11 – Century Media Records)
Probably one of the most legendary bands in this list, Omnium Gatherum was back with a brand new full-length in 2021. ‘Origin‘ really became the ultimate OG album combining the uplifting influences of US hard rock and heavy metal, Finnish melancholy and incredible songwriting. Markus Vanhala really took the time to pick out the best tracks possible and you can really hear it. If you’re any bit into melodic death metal, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this album without any doubt! Just check out the absolute feast that is ‘Paragon‘, the first single of the album.
Also check out the chat we had with Markus Vanhala about that album besides a bunch of his other projects right here.
Shadecrown – Solitarian
(17/9 – Inverse Records)
The melodic death/doom outfit Shadecrown brought out their 3rd release ‘Solitarian‘, which is probably the most depressive entry in this list. Comparable to some of the heartbreaking melodeath from Insomnium or inner torment portrayed by Marianas Rests‘ 2021 album (review here), the dance on the line between melodeath and soul-crushing doom is an absolute delight for anyone looking for heaps of melancholy in their music. Personally being a fan of the now defunct Ghost Brigade and of course masters of doom and gloom Swallow the Sun, this album really hit home being packed with emotions and strong melodies. Highly recommended for fans of aforementioned bands!
Evil Drive – Demons Within
(2/4 – Reaper Entertainment)
It’s maybe a bit too easy to call Evil Drive the Finnish answer to the Swedish death metal legends of Arch Enemy. But it’s really not all that far off. The music they create uses the same kind of melodies that the melodeath initiators evoked through inspiration coming from classic heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden. The thing is, Arch Enemy hasn’t been doing it this will for ages, so it really is a good thing to have Evil Drive being there for us to fulfill these needs while still maintaining their individuality. Most of the tracks are absolutely killer with gorgeous yet straightforward dual guitar melodies and engaging harsh vocals and will be a riot at any live situation. A hidden gem that should have gotten more attention than it got.
Check out the chat we had with the band about the album right here.
Beast In Black – Dark Connection
(29/10 – Nuclear Blast)
Last but not least, the 3rd full-length of Beast In Black! While the earlier 2 releases were absolutely great, ‘Dark Connection’ brings back Anton Kabanen in full form. They’ve always been heavily inspired by anime and manga like ‘Berserk’, but now Anton returned to his love for more science fiction based steampunk themes and existentially philosophies about the connection between man and machine. Inspirations from the classic scifi movie ‘Blade Runner’ and one of Anton‘s favorite anime series ‘Armitage III‘ are all there besides the tracks dedicated to ‘Beserk’ of course. Also the blend of Euro beat, pop and symphonics into their brand of power metal is again ever-present, this time with even more room at the frontline for the synths. And of course we can’t forget about the always impressive pipes from Yannis Papadopoulos, who seem to be able to do anything. That dude is really one of those unique vocal talents that you immediately pick out of the rest. ‘Dark Connection’ is simply a melodic feast of one after the other upbeat catchy track of which its hooks won’t leave you alone anymore for a really really long time. Even the most Debbie downers within the metal community simply have to smile a bit when hearing the unapologetic poppy metal tunes…
Don’t forget to check out the chat we had with mastermind Anton Kabanen right here.