[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Elvenking - The Pagan Manifesto (AFM)
The Italians return like clockwork with their 8th album and basically they sound like Elvenking. I’m not sure if this is power metal with folk influences or the other way around, but it sounds good to me. You know what you’re getting with a new Elvenking release by now: clean mid-range vocals, classic power metal riffs, songs about fantasy shit and some flutes and bagpipes and violins added to the mix for good measure. I’d probably put these guys more in the power metal/Falconer camp than with their peers in the folk kingdom, but The Pagan Manifesto is a solid release regardless.
Mangrenade - Severed Part I (Red Moth)
Cincinnati’s “drunk rock” trio returns with yet another 4 song EP, following their two strong EPs from last year. Severed Part I is the band’s heaviest collection yet, both musically and thematically. While I think the guys have always drawn from personal experiences for their lyrics, the songs about addiction and suicide on this EP really create a dark mood. The riffs are as heavy as ever, probably heavier and the band’s trademark catchiness is in full force, most strongly evident on the release’s first and last tracks. I’m assuming there’s a Severed Part II on the way, and I for one am pretty stoked to hear more from these guys.
Serpentine Path - Emanations (Relapse)
The second full-length release from this New York City quintet features seven tracks of absolutely menacing death/doom, which is pretty much what you’d expect when you combine the former members of sludge veterans Unearthly Trance with a dude from Electric Wizard. Droning guitars sit atop the sludgy maelstrom, adding a slight touch of melody to the otherwise atonal chaos and death vocals. These guys aren’t exactly pushing any boundaries with this stuff, but if you like the whole doom/death thing, this is a top of the line release.
Vainaja - Kadotetut (Svart)
Another strong death/doom release this week comes from Finland’s Vainaja. The trio brings the doom slow and heavy on their debut album, only relenting for a few moments at the beginning and end to lull the listener into a false sense of security with a couple of ambient tracks. Like the dudes from Serpentine Path, these guys aren’t reinventing the wheel, but Kadotetut is super heavy and I really enjoy it. It’s not really an easy listen, with its Finnish lyrics and oppressive heaviness, but it’s a worthwhile addition to any doom/death collection and it’s a strong launching point for an exciting new band within the genre.