[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Insomnium - Winter's Gate (Century Media)
The 7th album from the Finnish masters of Melodic Death Metal contains just one track, clocking in right at 40 minutes, and it’s right on par with the level of excellence that we’ve come to expect from these guys. There’s simply no other band on the planet (that I’m aware of) that can conjure up a sense of melancholy and dread with a single melodic guitar line over a barrage of Death Metal riffage and drums. The clean vocals, which sound too much like Opeth to me, return on this album, but much more sparingly than the last release. I think this one slots in nicely with the rest of the discography, no better or worse than any of the previous releases. These guys just don’t make albums that aren’t absolute masterpieces.
Witchskull - The Vast Electric Dark (Ripple)
This is technically a re-issue, as the album was released about a year ago, but somehow I missed it and now it’s getting the proper treatment from Ripple, so we’ll include it here. The debut album from these three Aussies is a can’t miss for fans of raucous, up-tempo Stoner/Doom Metal. The riffs are spectacular and the hooks will dig in deep, but the show stealer here are the majestic vocals. Rather than gurgling or trying to clone Ozzy for the 10,000th time, vocalist/guitarist Marcus De Pasquale just lets it rip, soaring over the music with his high register wails, reminiscent of the dude from Lo-Pan. This one is going straight to the year-end list, most likely a top-5 contender. Hopefully this is just the beginning for these guys.