MetalBite's Top 10 Albums of the Month - April 2024

Welcome back to MetalBite's top 10 albums of the month! Yes, we're putting out April's list in June. I have a lot of reasons why that's the case, but I won't bore you with the apology tour. We're here, and this list is massive. Hope you find something to check out you weren't already familiar with.



Darkthrone - It Beckons Us All.......
Peaceville Records

Just as all their latest releases, Darkthrone once again utilizes their well-crafted black metal with a lot of heavy, speed and doom metal elements mixed in together, all of which flow through the heavy mid-tempo riffs and drums, with Nocturno Culto's vocals in Tom G. Warrior style giving the extra edge. Overall, the direction that they go with on this album is definitely familiar thanks to their previous efforts since Arctic Thunder, but they also added more atmosphere and progression to their songs, especially the psychedelic moments on 'Black Dawn Affiliation', which is also backed up with epic singing vocals by Fenriz during the song's finale. Darkthrone's songwriting is heavily dynamic with its variety of ideas which come from all angles, always leaving plenty of room to include more than one could imagine, while still maintaining the overall heaviness in the music and keep it structurally polished without too much substance all at once. So far, I like the effort of It Beckons Us All far better than Astral Fortress, especially since it doesn't feel lacklustre, rushed or insufficient in terms of its delivery, and sometimes I did occasionally think that I was going for a good thrill-ride. The final track in particular stands out in that regard, always keeping me on edge as to what may happen next, especially when things get slow and quiet, and then striking hard with this musical crescendo like it's a suspenseful horror movie scene. Personally, even though many prefer the earlier efforts of Darkthrone, I generally adore the direction that they've been going with for the last 4-5 albums, because they just keep expanding in every way possible, because you never know what to expect. Honestly, even though I didn't grasp It Beckons Us All as much as I wanted to, I still think that it performed better than Astral Fortress, because overall it was much more consistent and well-thought-out, giving a very satisfying end result that just works. I think that after 4 albums, Darkthrone has a more focused musical direction with a variety of styles and ideas that could be considered suitable for people like myself who aren't limited to strictly one genre/subgenre, because there is plenty of that for everyone. This year is certainly coming together nicely with all these Norwegian metal releases, starting with Coffin Storm's Arcana Rising, to Khold's Du Dømmes Til Død and Darkthrone's It Beckons Us All, all the way to Sarke's Endo Feight which is due to be released on June 21st this year. I guess nothing can stop these dedicated and experienced veterans in the Norwegian metal scene, who are always active and successful in their unique craft of extreme metal.


Witch Vomit - Funeral Sanctum
20 Buck Spin

Expert osdm that is cavernous, brutal and quite modern sounding at the same time.


Tyr - Battle Ballads
Metal Blade

Man, remember when this Faroese group was a "progressive/folk" band? Tyr is a completely different entity now. Once they realized on By The Light Of The Northern Star that they could write fist-pumping viking anthems and get the same reaction from their fanbase, they went that route and that weird sub-section of the metal populace that thinks Amon Amarth is the be all end all of the genre ate that shit up.

All that being said, this is fun as hell. It toes the line between cheese and power, never sounding too serious or too ham-fisted in its delivery. It's catchy like the plague yet somehow never falls into Alestorm levels of campiness. Try all you want, you can't really hate this. Just admit you like pop metal and crank this shit real loud.


Oceans Of Night - Mindstorm

Mindstorm kicks things off with the opening track 'Servants Of Shadow / New Dawn', a very synthwave style song fused with progressive metal that incorporates the traditional odd-tempo rhythm and guitar melodies, setting the stage for the album's grand journey. Once the turn comes for the second track 'Before The Fall', the vocals join alongside the established instrumentation, making things even more interesting from here on out. There are a lot of those familiar Dream Theater-like moments that express various emotions through multiple stages within the band's performance, while succeeding to constantly stay on track with progression and the dynamic flow. Something you will definitely manage to notice is that the soundtrack has a bit of a soundtrack quality to it, often reminding you of some cult classic Japanese video games where you hear tons of progressive elements in the music, and if it weren't for the vocals, you could easily turn each composition on the album into a soundtrack for a video game level or perhaps a stage of the level. Even the synth work on the album is very much in that same league, as opposed to attempting to completely copy the work of Jordan Rudess. What is also significant about the instrumentation is that next to its overall progression, it's the fact that songs aren't all about the predominant technical moments, maybe apart from the sixth track 'Obelisk' that is much more challenging than the rest. A couple of notable standouts on the album are the tracks 'Mindstorm' and 'Distant', which are the only two tracks on the album that has female lead vocals and it definitely expands the vast musical horizon which was previously established. As is the tradition with progressive metal, the songwriting is always dynamic and packed with various ideas, with each conveying a vast range of emotions at once, while managing to hold your attention from beginning to end. What I appreciate about Oceans Of Night is that they focus a lot on creating a genuine feeling through their music, unlike many other contemporary progressive metal bands that heavily insist on incorporating technicality in their music, that doesn't necessarily convey emotions or even have a sense of plausible musicality. I really adore the overall musicality on this album, especially because it doesn't feel like a bunch of complex ideas thrown together that can make everything sound like an improvisation rather than an actual song with a sense of musical progression. Although I am not a big fan of modern progressive metal, I did actually end up liking this album quite a lot. It's undeniable that Oceans Of Night definitely has a strong background, and with this new album they successfully strengthened the foundation of their music. This album is a fine example of an effective use of superb progression and experienced songwriting, that doesn't make you lose interest and it can definitely mesmerize you as you listen to it. If you are into contemporary progressive metal bands, you should definitely check out Mindstorm by Oceans Of Night.


High On Fire - Cometh The Storm
MNRK Heavy

What can I say, just high quality, heavy as fuck, sludge/stoner/doom. Matt Pike is on top of his game!


Witchtrap - Hungry As The Beast
Dirty Sound Records

With relentless and blood-pulsing energy, Witchtrap commences its black thrash attack from the very get-go, with the title of the first track loudly stating that this hungry beast is 'Built For The Kill'. The chorus of the second track that says "I am Hungry as The Beast, so pay the price" is a perfect tagline of this album that tells you exactly what you're about to face from here on out. It's all a matter of devilish rock and roll that flows through the fast riffing and drumming, with unholy rage coming out of the harsh vocals by Burning Axe Ripper, altogether creating a very effective killing machine full of speed, testosterone and 'Ruthless Aggression', just as the title of the third track suggests. The only example on this album that is a stylistic departure is the seventh track 'Invocation' for its primary use of mid-tempo rhythm in a somewhat traditional heavy metal fashion, as opposed to the established thrash metal direction that is the strongest factor of Witchtrap's music. There will be more instances of mid-tempo rhythm in the following track 'Cauldron Of Abominations', but for the most part the song maintains the primary style of black/thrash metal. The overall songwriting that Witchtrap incorporated for this album is quite simple and straightforward with its standard oldschool black/thrash metal, but nevertheless it's very on point and effective throughout the entire album, where you don't feel the balls drop as the album progresses. Despite the riffs mostly sounding all too familiar and typical for this kind of subgenre, it's undeniable that they are incredibly headbanging catchy and tight all the way through, keeping that strong punch in the guts and relentless force all the way to the very last track 'Lightning Attack'. Those who are not very familiar with Witchtrap will notice that their music draws a lot of influence from 80's thrash metal acts, primarily the teutonic thrash metal examples such as Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Violent Force and Exumer, who have also been key to the development of significant black/thrash metal bands like Aura Noir, Cruel Force and Deathhammer. The general drive of the album is consistent and it will definitely make sure to keep you engaged from start to finish without losing any interest, but that all depends on the matter whether you are here to search for a needle in a haystack, or just looking for some good old fashioned ultra-violence.


Tonnerre - La Nuit Sauvage
Cruz Del Sur Music

Fronted by Annick Giroux (also from the great québécois heavy/doom band, Cauchemar) comes La Nuit Sauvage (the wild night), from her other band Tonnerre, a classic hard rock album about a magical night in the woods, around a campfire.


Selbst - Despondency Chord Progressions
Debemur Morti

Venezuelan (now living in Chile) one man band Selbst offers us an impressive, beautiful and mature album. Packed with dissonant melodies and melancholic atmospheres, it's finding beauty in sadness and despair. It's peak post-black metal!


Antheraea - The Failure I Am

Somber, yet aggressive and riffy. Gaerea appears to be an influence, although there's a more traditional black metal feeling - not a lot of post-rock in this, although that's by no means a bad thig, it wouldn't really fit well with the despondent anger. The mid-ranged shouts are a bit of an acquired taste, but they mesh well once you give them a bit of time. From what I can tell, this is more of a side project, which is really a shame, because I do think they're really on to something, with shades of Mgla and Dissection permeating a cathartic, vitriolic musical base.


Antichrist Siege Machine - Vengeance Of Eternal Fire
Profound Lore

It's war metal, you know what you're in for, but I must say, something about this hits a little better than the rest of the crop, or even ASM's previous albums. This duo is really good at creating a push and pull within the confines of the style, and it should appeal to more than just the subgenre fanatics.


Beholder - Dualisme
Avantgarde Music

Québec black metalers of Beholder offers us raw and aggressive black metal with many influences sprinkled all around. Whether it be a thrash riff or a doomy passage, it will always sound clear, organic and pure evil!


The Crypt - Victory Through Chaos

US extreme metal band The Crypt from Fish Creek, Wisconsin have returned once again, hungrier and angrier than before. Their recent EP Throne To The Setting Sun which was released back in January left me wondering what will come out next from the band's vault, especially since they keep switching genres with each following release, but I was thinking that they would hopefully go back to their good old death metal direction. Their independent seventh full-length album Victory Through Chaos was released on April 27th 2024, showcasing that the band was indeed going back to their primitive and chaotic extreme roots. Along the way you will hear a lot of headbanging tunes that will definitely leave a strong impression when the first note hits, but I can still guarantee that you will not be prepared for the madness that awaits. In case you ask yourselves why, it's because this album is packed with ideas from all angles, molding this enormous pile into a one colossal collection that's full of psychedelic atmosphere, progression, technicality, death-thrashing and then some. The fourth track in particular, 'Princess In Mourning', turned out to be a very big surprise with its maniacal screaming vocals and slow rhythmic output which create a heavy atmospheric and melancholic feeling altogether. We also have some insanely aggressive and technical death metal going on, starting from the fifth track 'Ninghizzida' which utilizes some over the top blast beats, headbanging insane riffs, shredding guitar solos, carrying some of that flavor over to the following tracks 'Lunar Blood', 'Virgin Sacrifices' and 'Fire Walk With Me'. We've also got one nice instrumental on this album, that being 'Dim At Noon', a very progressive and structurally complex track with plenty of guitar and bass solo work going on top of the riffs. The Crypt always had a very strong, dynamic and complex songwriting, constantly shifting with its variety of ideas but always managing to stay on track. Whenever it comes to the next work of The Crypt, I am always on the edge of my seat wondering what will come next, and that's not just in terms of the overall musical direction with each following album due to switching back and forth with subgenres, but also in terms of what each song on the album will throw at you out of nowhere. Their music definitely has a heavy surprise factor about it, leaving you open to your imagination and wondering about multiple possibilities where it will go from here on out, and it's great because it's not predictable from the very get-go and you would often end up experiencing something entirely different. After their recent EP Throne To The Setting Sun, I didn't know what to expect because that is one of the great things about The Crypt because they always make you wonder what's going to happen on the next album, although I was lucky enough to have guessed that Victory Through Chaos was going be the return to the wicked and ominous death metal. It's a very fine album that was worth the time and it certainly didn't disappoint, especially with all the goodies that you can find in their music, keeping you engaged and excited all the way through. Although I still think it would be hard to top the great performance with their previous full-length album Истребитель from 2023, nevertheless, Victory Through Chaos is a nice continuation in The Crypt's dark saga.


Benighted - Ekbom
Season Of Mist

Nothing new from these long-running French stalwarts, but nothing needs to be either. Kevin Paradis is an absolute machine, and his style feels more "at home" with Benighted than it does in the jillion other session projects he's done. The riffing is still a blitz of modern death metal with a blackened edge, and a tinge of deathcore (without fully taking the plunge into that pool). Julien Truchan is still one of the most versatile vocalists in the game. The structuring on this is a tad more punchy and memorable than the two previous full-lengths, neither of which left a huge impression on me. Call it recency bias or whatever, but I do get the sense Ekbom is going to stick around a little longer.


Castle Rat - Into The Realm
King Volume Records

Beyond awesome, old-school doom/stoner rock with modern production and a particularly great imagery of epic, medieval warriors and fantasy.


Ischemic - Condemned To The Breaking Wheel

Been following these bleak doomsters for a while, and I can confidently say this is their best album. Maybe it's the addition of a second guitarist, maybe it's the fact that the multi-talented Mrudul Kamble is their best drummer yet, maybe it's the more blackened edge on this release over any of their other ones, but this has a lot of drudging, churning grooves that slowly unfold into melodic catharses. I actually follow the rise and fall of songs a bit more here, the layers coalesce into one another and give me something more to unpack, whereas with previous releases by this band, I enjoyed it, but didn't often feel the compulsion to dig further.


Replicant - Infinite Mortality
Transcending Obscurity

Delightfully tasty dissonance with a certain despondent edge to it. I prefer it just a hair to the previous album, though that one was really solid as well - there's just a bit more skronk, a wider range of motion, and a little bit more oomph put into the shrieking. Is the shrill clamor turning people off? These folks should be a lot bigger than they are.


Deicide - Banished By Sin
Reigning Phoenix Music

Once again Deicide invites us on a blasphemous trip to Florida. The cover is kinda shabby, but the originals kick ass - old-school death metal that calls back to their early 2000s era. I don't agree that the influences reach back to Legion era, but Banished By Sin still has a lot of catchy and evil tracks on it. Glen Benton sounds sinister and powerful as ever, and the guitar work is well executed. Don't expect any surprises but if you like Deicide you'll get what you came for.


Dool - The Shape Of Fluidity
Prophecy Productions

Now here's an unexpected one, Dutch dark rock band Dool. The band combines progressive, post and dark rock with a heavy and doomish kind of metal. Reminds me a bit of Katatonia. Lead vocalist Raven was born intersex but doctors chose they would live their life as a girl, which understandably, caused a lot of pain and confusion. It's much later in life that Raven decided to reclaim that which others have tried so hard to take away from them. With that comes new joys and freedom. It's all of these powerful and complex emotions that are released on The Shape Of Fluidity and it gives an impressive and compelling work of art.


Tarot - Glimpse Of The Dawn
Cruz Del Sur Music

Impressive hard rock à la deep purple, injected with a good dose of classic heavy metal. With galloping melodies, super catchy chorus and crazy solos it's perfectly old school but still sounds like it was recorded in the 21st century.




Dvne - Voidkind

10: Dvne - Voidkind
Metal Blade Records

Fuck, I hate including Dvne in lists like this. I love them - they're one of my favorite newer discoveries ever since Etemen Aenka became a staple in my life, but their records are the kind of things that take a couple shroom trips and a few months to fully reveal their intricacies to you. I'm at least a little more familiar with their sound now, but Voidkind is another one of those that just has so many peaks and valleys that I can't properly articulate how good it is now, or how good it's going to be later. As it stands, this could be my album of the year…or it could stay where it is right now. One thing I know for sure is that it's definitely worth your time.

Powerful, emotional, heavy, soft, ethereal, mesmerizing, complex. It's prog that not only focuses on technical prowess but with beautiful post-metal atmospheres, all while being bone crushingly heavy.

MetalBite's Rating: ???/10


Uttertomb - Nebulas Of Self-Desecration

9: Uttertomb - Nebulas Of Self-Desecration
Pulverized Records

Chilean death metal of the Dead Congregation/Incantation variety - that old-school styled, unflinching commitment to creating a swirling, chasmic void darkness is present. There isn't a single inviting melody and the haunting clean breaks are strategically placed gaps between two sections of crushing chords, bruising tremolos or doom-tinged descents. This is my favorite kind of death metal - it doesn't have to reinvent anything to push the genre forward. You can always clearly identify the influences present, but nonetheless Uttertomb manages to mix in their own personality and identity.

Although it's the band's first full-length, they've taken their time to properly marinate and refine, with 14 years of activity and a handful of EPs under their belt already. This certainly doesn't feel like a new and inexperienced band - they know exactly what they want to be, and this is the kind of album that sounds like it was almost a decade in the making. It's evident through the attention to detail in the progression and the atmosphere it evokes.

MetalBite's Rating: 8.6/10


Engulfed - Unearthly Litanies Of Despair

8: Engulfed - Unearthly Litanies Of Despair
Me Saco Un Ojo / Dark Descent

Mustafa Gürcalioğlu is the fucking RIFF KING. Just when I think this motherfucker has shown us all his tricks he reinvents the wheel again at least once per year. Engulfed has always been the most Swedeathy of his many projects, and on this new album he leans into that melody a little bit more while, of course, never sacrificing that ineffable mix between groovy, crushing and pummeling that has become firmly cemented in my heart. Am I a fanboy? You better fucking believe it. Holy dick balls this guy is good at guitar.

FFO Hyperdontia, Diabolizer, Decaying Purity, and drinking Mustafa's bathwater in an effort to write a single riff with a trace of the magic that lines his entire discography.

MetalBite's Rating: 8.6/10


Atrae Bilis - Aumicide

7: Atrae Bilis - Aumicide
20 Buck Spin

It took me a minute to come around to this group, but once it clicked I became enamored with their unique take on tech death. They don't have the speed of Archspire nor the noodles of Inferi or Dark Matter Secret - they go the Soreption/Zenith Passage route of groovy tech with a dash of Ulcerate's organic delivery. They twist and contort an off-kilter rhythmic feel into something that's downright smooth, and makes you headbang at a convoluted pulse - Aumicide should not be this catchy. Once you get used to the style, no one really sounds like them, and I could have made that claim even on the album before this.

MetalBite's Rating: 8.7/10


My Dying Bride - A Mortal Binding

6: My Dying Bride - A Mortal Binding
Nuclear Blast Records

This was a great surprise for me. I never thought that My Dying Bride would fully go back to their roots. But with A Mortal Binding they created a wonderful mixture between Turn Loose The Swans and The Angel And The Dark River that doesn't sound calculated or forced. This album is what I would have loved to hear after their 1995 release instead of that boring Like Gods Of The Sun. A Mortal Binding combines the very well-aged death metal approach they had many years ago with more depressive, violin-based tunes after that. Great stuff for some melancholic hours. It is just a shame that the band is more or less on hold now because of their exhausting song-writing process.

MetalBite's Rating: 9/10


Voha - Majestic Nightsky Symphonies

5: Voha - Majestic Nightsky Symphonies
Void Wanderer Productions

This album introduces a big departure from Voha's earlier works, as it takes a more symphonic black metal approach, equivalent to that of bands such as Emperor, early Dimmu Borgir, Odium, Diabolic Masquerade, Limbonic Art, Obtained Enslavement, combined with the melodic black metal elements of Old Man's Child, Sacramentum and Vinterland. The misanthropic atmosphere of Voha's music has shifted towards a more epic and cosmic style with all the ambience and symphonics that dominate alongside the primary black metal aspect, which in itself is structurally more complex and richer, as it creates this incredibly mesmerizing effect that possesses you from the very get-go. The mesmerizing quality of Voha's music is present throughout the entire album, keeping it strong and consistent from one track to another, without missing a beat or feeling a bit thinned out after a while. You can probably tell that the atmosphere is definitely the biggest highlight aside from all those symphonies and melodies, with a couple of ambient moments on the album that serve as interludes and nicely transition to the next chapter. This whole album feels like an epic journey with such a strong cinematic quality and classical music vibe, full of emotional roller coasters that hit hard, especially on the sixth track 'Crimson Tears' which nicely builds up the grand finale of the album that is concluded with the outro track 'And The Stardust I Shall Become'. The songwriting is very dynamic and well-thought-out with its overall complexity in the song arrangement, making every song stand out in its own way. Even though it's a risky decision to change stylistically, Voha's transition from classic black metal towards symphonic black metal worked out really well for me, and I was so stunned how drastically different it is compared to the predecessors Celestial Winter Sadness and Tama EP. I personally consider it to be a welcome change that works so much better due to being able to express more emotions and also create this layer of imagination that lives within the listener's mind, almost like some sort of storytelling through music that creates powerful images as you listen to the songs. When I first heard 'Raven Cry', I suddenly felt like nothing else mattered in that moment besides the music, but that was just a taste of what is to come, because after that it gradually gets stronger and more interesting. I have a feeling that a lot of people will draw comparisons to Emperor's magnificent debut In The Nightside Eclipse due to the style, atmosphere and the cover art, and although it would be understandable, considering its significant similarities, I think it's probably a bit to surface level thinking because an approach such as this goes way deeper than that, due to the fact that Majestic Nightsky Symphonies takes a lot of queues from various symphonic, as well as melodic black metal bands with a classical musical background. Every musician is a composer, but not necessarily a classical music type of composer, however in the case of Grof Vragovzov, he seems to have a bit of those classical composer influences that have greatly inspired his riffs, melodies and especially the keyboard sections. My experience with this album is so hard to describe because I was simply left without words once it was all over, but I could say that the words "majestic" and "symphonic" are definitely close to describing my journey. This album is exactly as the title suggests, a nice collection of Majestic Nightsky Symphonies that are equally epic and wonderful from start to finish, represented in a very oldschool 90's black metal style but in a more contemporary form. Voha made such a comeback that unexpectedly came out even greater than I could have ever imagined, and it also expanded the band's sound so well to the point where you just can't think of anything better that would take its place. Despite the troubles that Voha has faced before the album's release, I think that it turned out to be a case of "no pain no gain", where suffering is necessary in order to achieve something, or as I say it from my personal standpoint, boiling hot water always makes a fine tea. If you were lucky to tune in to this album's premiere via Black Metal Promotion, then I am most certain that many of you enjoyed it, but in case you haven't heard it yet, then you should definitely check it out as soon as possible. In the end, the dark lord has triumphantly reclaimed his stellar throne.

MetalBite's Rating: 9/10


Attic - Return Of The Witchfinder

4: Attic - Return Of The Witchfinder
Ván Records

From the very get-go, whispers and haunting tales set the mood of the album, in a faithful ghostly fashion, followed by spooky and occult heavy metal that immediately screams out in pure King Diamond/Mercyful Fate style. Heavy banging guitar riffs, superb melodies, spectacular solos, relentless drumming and King Diamond styled vocals of Meister Cagliostro, all dominate throughout the entire album, while leaving open space to include other interesting bits like the surprising blast beats on the tracks 'Hailstorm And Tempest' and 'Synodus Horrenda', clean guitar sections and horrific organ keyboards. While being completely immersed in the album, you will feel that it has a powerful and fluent progression as it goes from one track to another, with a strong emphasis on the storytelling aspect with concepts that include demons, rituals, witch burning and other occult horror themes. The horror elements contribute a lot to the atmospheric side of Attic's music, creating an aura that will definitely evoke images of these horrific events in your head as you just let yourself go. It's got such a powerful transition between tracks, that once it reaches the conclusion with the final song 'Synodus Horrenda', it simply gives you this sense of epic closure where you are satisfied with the journey you just embraced. The songwriting is undoubtedly dynamic all the way through and each song is filled with plenty of progression, providing a very fun rollercoaster of ideas in this thrillride. With everything this album has to offer, from the music to the stories, as well as the awesome choruses, it is simply impossible to not be engaged from start to finish, especially since the album has such a strong mesmerizing quality to it. These fun inclusions such as blast beats and borderline black metal moments have proven to be incredibly effective by expanding the band's sound and keeping you constantly on edge. Attic is just unmistakable in their game because they just continue being a great successor to Mercyful Fate/King Diamond's style and sound, checking all the marks that this band satisfies the requirements. Whether you prefer Attic over Portrait, or the other way around, you just can't deny that both bands manage to take all the best elements of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, and then effectively incorporate them in their albums, while both of them still remain in their own unique realm. From what I have come to expect from the Return Of The Witchfinder, I have to say that this is indeed a magnificent album that checks all the marks for me. To put it shortly, it's an "all killer no filler" album with lots of great stuff to be found, and not a desperate and lazy rip-off attempt of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. It is definitely a faithful spiritual successor to both bands, but also a great exemplary album on its own. Attic has without a doubt nailed this one, and I am very pleased with the end result.

MetalBite's Rating: 9/10


Cistvaen - At Light's Demise

3: Cistvaen - At Light's Demise

There's been something stirring in the heart of Albion for some time, as the UK black metal scene continues to thrive, with high quality new acts appearing regularly. Cistvaen are no exception, following their 2021 EP with a debut album simply dripping in atmosphere and majestic melodies. Other than a short interlude, the tracks fully utilise their lengthy run-times, with the band's occasionally languid approach to their craft allowing sufficient time to envelop the listener in folk-derived melodies and lush textures, seditiously inviting us to draw nearer, before spitefully revealing the dark heart at the centre of the band's music, with cantankerous passages of coruscating blasts separating flesh from bone, before grinding what's left to ashes. For context, Wolves In The Throne Room and Winterfylleth are the most obvious comparators, although Cistvaen are typically more visceral than the latter, and one can detect a dash of the almost punk fervour of Downfall Of Gaia, and the delicate melodies of Alcest too, but there is nothing here that is too familiar for comfort. The magnificent basslines that bubble under and through each track also set them apart – James Mardon's performance is spectacular, and a clear point of difference in a treble-obsessed sub-genre. For a relatively callow band to display the kind of unassailable confidence in their music that Cistvaen obviously possess is highly impressive, but not altogether surprising, given the universal excellence across seven enthralling tracks. Cistvaen sing of the Light's Demise, but their future is bright indeed.

MetalBite's Rating: 9.1/10


Satanic North - Satanic North

2: Satanic North - Satanic North
Reaper Entertainment

Vocalist Petri Lindroos and drummer Janne Parviainen from Ensiferum have a new battlefield with Satanic North. And as you can clearly see in the name, this ain't no Nickelback cover band. Although they are from Finland, they take more from the Swedish and Norwegian scenes of the 90s, with some old Immortal, Dark Funeral, The Abyss in there. In a few tracks, some punky Impaled Nazarene shines through (maybe because of the vocals, which are reminiscent of Mika Luttinen). Drums are a little bit tinny but I suppose it fits the vibe. "Battles in the North" and "Blizzard Beasts" are the biggest influences, which is not a terrible choice at all. Lyrically you get the whole Satanic nine yards, no cliché is left out. This is an excellent, blast heavy old school black metal blitz.

MetalBite's Rating: 9.5/10


Vulture - Sentinels

1: Vulture - Sentinels
Metal Blade Records

From the very first track 'Scream From The Abattoir', this ravenous beast is already screaming for vengeance with violence and force, striking hard with all they got. Not even a moment of thought and you already hear that the Vulture is hungry for blood, as the raw energy with furious speed, melody and headbanging action dominates throughout their riffs, screaming vocals and tight drumming. The single 'Unhallowed & Forgotten' still remains one of the strongest and memorable tracks on this album that perfectly teased the upcoming devastation, but despite being a brilliant album teaser, it certainly isn't anywhere near as good as what you are about to witness. As the album goes in motion with all the speed/thrash metal murder, you will notice that their songs are packed with some 80's metal influences, ranging from Accept to 80's Metallica to Exciter and Agent Steel, as well as many other quintessential 80's heavy, thrash or speed metal. The best examples that showcase the aforementioned influences are 'Transylvania/ Realm Of The Impaler', 'Draw Your Blades', 'Gargoyles' and 'Oathbreaker', all of which are excellent tracks that shed even more royal blood on the chess board. A wise man said, "Where There's a Whip (There Is a Way)", and so does the sixth track on this album make its way to be one of the outstanding destroyers that causes absolute whiplash from your intense headbanging. This album has plenty of surprising bits, with one example being instrumental track 'Der Tod Trägt Schwarzes Leder' that showcases a more classical music direction that jumps straight into 'Death Row' to continue ripping its way through. There is no denying that this album is just packed with excellent killer songs that rock out with absolute glory in any possible tempo, be it slow or fast, and they leave no head unbanged. The album flows so smoothly and yet so heavy at the same time, with every track building up the excitement to the very last bit, leading to the grand finale 'Sentinels (Heavier Than Time)', a superb conclusion to this magnificent experience that no one could predict. Vulture's dynamic and rich songwriting has always relied on traditional elements from heavy, speed and thrash metal, with a strong effort to take everything great about their music to its absolute peak. They certainly went ahead of their way to continue producing excellence and aggression through musical simplicity, with adrenaline flowing through every song while succeeding to keep maximum attention at all times. Truth be told, there is nothing about this album that kills the mood or breaks concentration, because it's all so focused and consistent with its fluent transition from one track to another. All three maniacal string players with their crimson BC Rich Ironbirds dominate with the drums and vocals that they simply refuse to give the listener a break, because an album such as this is not meant to be an easy ride. If you can't take the heat, then go home! This album is "all killer no filler" and I had no doubt about Sentinels whatsoever, because Vulture always managed to surpass all my expectations. Their task was very simple, conquer and deliver, and so they did! When the time is right, check out their new album Sentinels, because every track and every second of music matters from start to finish, no skipping allowed!

German speed metal at it's finest! The energy is unmatched and almost makes me want to get on a bike and ride at full speed with the wind in my hair. (and I actually hate moterbikes)

MetalBite's Rating: 9.7/10

Thanks for stopping by. View all the previous year's lists here:

March 2024

February 2024

January 2024

And, of course, Follow MetalBite on Facebook, Spotify and Instagram so you can be there right when the next Top 10 list drops!

Entered: 6/4/2024 4:09:15 PM