Album Review – Ildaruni / Beyond Unseen Gateways (2021)

A spiritual journey to the mysteries untold in the form relentless, epic Black Metal infused with ancient folk melodies, masterfully brought forth by this emerging Armenian raging force.

3.5rating

ildaruni-beyond-unseen-gateways-2021Having emerged as a raging force from the depths of the Armenian underground metal scene in 2016, Yerevan-based Pagan Black Metal horde Ildaruni (which by the way is the ancient pagan name of the second largest river that flows through Armenia, currently known as Hrazdan River) represents a blend of relentless, epic Black Metal and ancient folk melodies, forgotten from times immemorial, exploring the height of the Urartian domain through the cognitive machinations of a bygone age and the esoteric apprehension of ancient pagan occultism. Recorded by Armen Shaverdian and Mark Erskine at Armen Shaverdian’s Guitar Clinic Studio, mixed and mastered by George Emmanuel (Lucifer’s Child, Rotting Chris) at Pentagram Studio, and displaying an ominous artwork by Mark Erskine (Erskine Designs), the band’s debut opus Beyond Unseen Gateways is a hymn to the blazing light that sank into shadowy shrines, to the wild darkness that covered the debris of Ardini, and to the bygone flame that enlightened the sanctum of Haldi, introducing an authentic sound and a spiritual journey to the mysteries untold masterfully brought forth by frontman Artak Karapetyan, guitarists Robert Meliksetyan and Mark Erskine, bassist Garbis Vizoian and drummer Arthur Poghosyan.

Atmospheric and epic from the very first second, the intro Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani will transport you to the fantastic realm ruled by Ildaruni, with the tin whistle by guest Arthur Atayan adding an extra touch of mystery to their music, before Robert and Mark begin slashing their guitars in the Epic Metal tune Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom, presenting beautiful hints of Folk and Pagan Metal while Artak roars and growls lie a true demonic entity; followed by the also imposing Perpetual Vigil, showcasing an obscure, sinister intro led by the tribal beats by Arthur and morphing into a headbanging beast crafted by this talented Armenian horde, living up to the legacy of Melodic and Pagan Black Metal. And get ready for over eight minutes of infernal blast beats, incendiary riffs and venomous growls in the Black Metal aria Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini, a lecture in extreme music spearheaded by the sulfurous vociferations by Artak that will haunt your soul for all eternity.

Once again blending the epicness of Pagan Metal with the heaviness and fury of Black Metal, the quintet fires the demolishing musical journey Towards Subterranean Realms, not to mention how thunderous the bass jabs by Garbis sound in paradox with all background orchestrations; and there’s no time to breathe as those Armenian metallers keep embellishing the airwaves with their bold and dense sound in Exalted Birth, another explosion of modern-day Melodic Black Metal with the band’s guitar duo stealing the spotlight with their wicked riffage supported by Arthur Atayan’s hypnotizing bagpipes. They still have fuel for another ass-kicking Black Metal onrush entitled Arakha, with Arthur setting the tone with his tribal, massive beats, accompanied by the strident sound of the guitars and the always vile roaring by Artak, and right after an imposing and stunning start Ildaruni come ripping in Whence Ravenstone Beckons, providing us fans eight minutes of impressive Black Metal where Arthur sounds more devilish than ever on drums while also featuring guest vocals by  Anna Hovhannesyan, with the music flowing darkly until the end.

ildaruni-2021I must say that listening to Beyond Unseen Gateways is indeed a unique sonic experience, or a “spiritual journey” as the band itself mentioned, and the hybrid of Black Metal with folk elements and paganism matched flawlessly with the stories told throughout the album’s impressive 52 minutes of first-class metal music. Having said that, let’s all show our total support and respect to the guys from Ildaruni by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know info about the band, by streaming their awesome creations on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing a copy of Beyond Unseen Gateways from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album in full). The ominous flame now burns stronger as Iladruni have just unleashed their long-waited cryptic incantations in the form of their incendiary debut effort, appealing to fans of renowned acts the like of Kawir, Rotting Christ and Windir. And may the gates of genesis reopen and herald forth an epoch of exaltation anew.

Best moments of the album: Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom, Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini and Exalted Birth.

Worst moments of the album: Perpetual Vigil.

Released in 2021 Black Lion Records

Track listing
1. Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani 3:38
2. Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom 6:23
3. Perpetual Vigil 6:02
4. Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini 8:10
5. Towards Subterranean Realms 7:50
6. Exalted Birth 6:05
7. Arakha 6:34
8. Whence Ravenstone Beckons 7:58

Band members
Artak Karapetyan – vocals
Robert Meliksetyan – guitars, keyboards
Mark Erskine – guitars, keyboards
Garbis Vizoian – bass
Arthur Poghosyan – drums

Guest musicians
Arthur Atayan – tin whistle on “Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani,” “Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom,” and “Towards Subterranean Realms”, bagpipes on “Exalted Birth”
Anna Hovhannesyan – vocals on “Whence Ravenstone Beckons”

Album Review – Ablaze My Sorrow / Among Ashes and Monoliths (2021)

One of the most exciting forces of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene returns with their fifth full-length album, ready to kill once again with their visceral and aggressive music.

A familiar name in the Melodic Death Metal arena, Falkenberg, Halland-based outfit Ablaze My Sorrow came together in 1993 when Gothenburg, Sweden’s own brand of Death Metal had just begun to take shape, unfortunately splitting up in 2006. However, in 2013 their long-awaited reunion happened, and since this rebirth the quintet released their fourth album, Black, and played a slew of memorable gigs and fests. Now in 2021, after four years of incubation, Ablaze My Sorrow are ready to unleash upon us all their fifth full-length album, entitled Among Ashes and Monoliths, highly recommended for fans of the music by At The Gates, Dark Tranquility and In Flames, among others. Mixed and mastered by Ulf Blomberg at HoboRec/The End Studios, and featuring a classic cover artwork by Algerian artist Mustapha Haraoui (Mustapha Design DZ), Among Ashes and Monoliths is the band’s first-ever record with new vocalist Jonas Udd, whose aggressive rasp fits this passionate band to perfection, while the other members, those being Magnus Carlsson and Dennie Lindén on the guitars, Anders Brorsson on bass and Alex Kribensten on drums, return intact from their previous releases and are ready to kill once again with their visceral Melodic Death Metal.

In the atmospheric and dark opening track My Sorrow, Magnus and Dennie provide their welcome card from the very first second with their slashing riffs, exploding into Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal for diehard fans of the style, followed by the title-track Among Ashes and Monoliths, where Alex hammers his drum set mercilessly providing Jonas all he needs to shine with his enraged roars, also presenting elements from old school Black Metal in an amazing depiction of what the band is capable of. Then an introspective beginning showcasing clean, anguished vocals evolves into the obscure Black Waters, where the guitars by Magnus and Dennie cry in pain from start to finish while Anders and Alex add their share of heaviness to their core sonority; and more of their classic Melodic Death Metal is offered in Grit, with all band members extracting sheer adrenaline and violence from their sonic weapons, all spearheaded by the venomous growling by Jonas. After that, a melodious rhythm spiced up by Anders’ metallic bass punches will inspire you to bang your head with the band in Her Cold Embrace, where Jonas gets the sensational and stunning support of guest vocalist Jonna Enckell; whereas leaning towards old school Death Metal, the band puts the pedal to the metal and decimates our ears with At the Graves of Giants, with the demonic gnarls by Jonas walking hand in hand with the blast beats by Alex.

Dark Chasms brings forward another round of their vicious and aggressive Melodic Death Metal, with the band’s guitar duo extracting rage, pain and electricity form their strings accompanied by the rumbling bass by Anders, and an eerie, wicked intro ignites the In Flames-inspired tune titled The Cavernous Deep, presenting more of Jonas’ clean vocals while the instrumental pieces keep the ambience as dark and heavy as it can be. Then violence and obscurity continue to flow from their music in Nonexistence, exhibiting hints of Thrash Metal carefully added to their core sound and spearheaded by the sharp riffage by Magnus and Dennie, consequently inviting us all to slam into the pit together with the band, whereas somber sounds permeate the air in the instrumental interlude March of the Eldricht Spawn, setting the stage for Ablaze My Sorrow to come crushing once again in The Day I Die, a solid Melodic Death Metal tune showcasing all elements we learned to love in this type of music, including harsh growls intertwined with clean vocals, smashing drums and epic and frantic riffs and solos. Lastly, we have Frihet Framför Feghet, which is Swedish for “freedom over cowardice”, a bestial, hellish creation by the quintet with guest Ulf Blomberg bringing his share of dementia to the band’s sick music, sounding perfect for jumping up and down with those Swedish metallers and cracking our necks headbanging nonstop.

If Melodic Death Metal is your business, and business is good, you should definitely go check what the guys form Ablaze My Sorrow are up to on Facebook and on Instagram, stream their full catalog on Spotify, and purchase your favorite version of Among Ashes and Monoliths by clicking HERE. In the end, despite the ups and downs faced by the band through the years, and by that I mean the fact they ended up splitting up in 2006 and going on a hiatus for seven long years before reuniting in 2013, it doesn’t look and feel at all that the band didn’t “exist” during that period due to the high quality and energy found in their new album, proving those guys are back for good and hungrier than ever for more, strengthening their name as one of the driving forces of contemporary Swedish Melodic Death Metal and, therefore, providing us fans all we need to bang our heads and raise our horns in support of underground Swedish metal music.

Best moments of the album: Among Ashes and Monoliths, Her Cold Embrace, At the Graves of Giants and Frihet Framför Feghet.

Worst moments of the album: My Sorrow and The Cavernous Deep.

Released in 2021 Black Lion Records

Track listing
1. My Sorrow 4:30
2. Among Ashes and Monoliths 4:11
3. Black Waters 3:47
4. Grit 3:39
5. Her Cold Embrace 4:55
6. At the Graves of Giants 4:43
7. Dark Chasms 4:15
8. The Cavernous Deep 4:44
9. Nonexistence 3:45
10. March of the Eldricht Spawn 1:40
11. The Day I Die 3:17
12. Frihet Framför Feghet 3:41

Band members
Jonas Udd – vocals
Magnus Carlsson – guitars
Dennie Lindén – guitars
Anders Brorsson – bass
Alex Kribensten – drums

Guest musicians
Ulf Blomberg – additional vocals on “Frihet Framför Feghet”
Jonna Enckell – additional vocals on “Her Cold Embrace”

Album Review – Re-Armed / Ignis Aeternum (2020)

A modern, melodic and entertaining album of heavy music about positivity, about constant change and seeing life as it is in every level, directly from Finland into your heart and soul.

Mixing their trademark Melodic Death Metal with classic Death and Thrash Metal and symphonic influences in order to bring to the scene a more vibrant and modern sound, Kerava, Finland-based unity Re-Armed has been on a constant evolution since their inception in 2001, moving from what’s usually known as the Gothenburg sound to their current shape and form, culminating with the release of their brand new album Ignis Aeternum, the fourth full-length opus in their solid career. Produced and recorded at Studio UG and mixed at ShedStudios in Kerava,  mastered at Audiamond in Niinikoski, Finland, and featuring a caustic and grim artwork by Brazilian artist Romulo Dias, Ignis Aeternum is about positivity, about constant change and seeing life as it is in every level. It is a trip, a breathtaking view about life’s diversity, and an ode to life, all embraced by the slashing metal music blasted by frontman Jouni Matilainen, guitarists Allan Välimaa and Oskari Niekka, bassist Juhana Heinonen and drummer Iiro Karjalainen with tons of precision, dexterity and feeling, just the way we like it in Melodic Death Metal.

It’s time to put the pedal to the metal together with the guys from Re-Armed in the epic and insurgent Dive Within, with Iiro sounding absolutely bestial on drums, providing his bandmates all they need to kick some serious ass with their respective sonic weapons, spiced up by a beautiful ending featuring a stanza taken from Eino Leino’s poem “Hymni Tulelle”. Then we’re treated to more of the melodic and electrifying sounds crafted by the quintet in Beyond the Horizon, sounding futuristic and extremely sharp while Allan and Oskari fire some Arch Enemy-inspired riffs accompanied by the whimsical keys by guest Sami Tiittanen; and the rumbling bass jabs by Juhana kick off the vibrant Melodic Death Metal extravaganza titled Ode to Life, featuring guest guitarist Euge Valovirta (CyHra, Godsplague), a song perfect for breaking your neck headbanging where their razor-edged guitars are nicely complemented by all epic background elements.

Gentle piano notes quickly explode into violent and atmospheric Melodic Metal in Eager to Collapse, with Iiro and Juhana bringing thunder and groove to the music while Jouni keeps vociferating rabidly, whereas Resistance is even darker and more epic than its predecessors, led by the vile riffage by Allan and Oskari while their bandmates add an extra touch of progressiveness, rage and heaviness to the overall result, inspiring us all to slam into the circle pit. Spiced up by futuristic background keys and tones, the band offers the thrilling The Hollow Lights, blending their trademark Melodic Death Metal with the most venomous elements from Death and Thrash Metal, flowing majestically until its climatic ending, while in Remain Unbounded the band’s guitar duo shreds their strings mercilessly until Iiro comes crushing with his Black Metal-inspired beats, keeping the song at a high level of violence and alternating between vicious, high-speed moments and more intricate, mid-tempo passages.

Get ready to bang your heads like there’s no tomorrow with Re-Armed in Words Left Unsaid, where the bass punches by Juhana will make your skull tremble while Jouni’s growls and roars sound as heavy as hell from start to finish. Following this vicious onrush of sounds the band brings forward Voyager, another solid composition showcasing all their talent and passion for Scandinavian metal, with Jouni and guest vocalist Micko Hell (Denigrate, Gloomy Grim) making a thrilling metallic duet on vocals while Iiro once again shines with his spot-on drumming. Lastly, Re-Armed conclude such great album of heavy music with another sample of their endless energy and firepower in the form of Built to Last, where Allan and Oskari are in absolute sync with Sami’s keys, therefore building the perfect setting for Jouni to thrive with his wicked gnarls until the song end’s in sheer melancholy.

In order to show your utmost support to those talented metallers from the land of ice and snow, simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel and search for them on Spotify for more of their music, and above all that, purchase your favorite version of Ignis Aeternum from several locations such as the Black Lion Records’ BandCamp page and Big Cartel, from Record Shop X, from the EMP store, from IndieMerchstore or from Apple Music. The title of the album translates from Latin as “eternal fire”, and there’s nothing better to represent life as a fire that never ceases to exist no matter what, giving the entire album an even stronger meaning and purpose and, consequently, keeping Re-Armed’s inner fire also burning for many years to come in their homeland and anywhere else where modern and captivating metal music is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Dive Within, Ode to Life and The Hollow Lights.

Worst moments of the album: Eager to Collapse.

Released in 2020 Black Lion Productions

Track listing
1. Dive Within 4:31
2. Beyond the Horizon 5:12
3. Ode to Life 4:10
4. Eager to Collapse 3:47
5. Resistance 4:34
6. The Hollow Lights 4:27
7. Remain Unbounded 5:17
8. Words Left Unsaid 4:37
9. Voyager 5:22
10. Built to Last 4:57

Band members
Jouni Matilainen – lead vocals
Allan Välimaa – guitars
Oskari Niekka – guitars, backing vocals
Juhana Heinonen – bass, backing vocals
Iiro Karjalainen – drums

Guest musicians
Euge Valovirta – guitars on “Ode to Life”
Micko Hell – additional vocals on “Voyager”
Sami Tiittanen – keyboards
Aapo Salo – orchestra, symphonic arrangements