Number 1: Winter’s Gate – Insomnium
‘Winter’s Gate’ by Finnish melodic death metal band Insomnium is made up of one epic forty-minute track, which tells the story of a group of Vikings, who set out on the brink of winter in search of a fabled island. There is such variation throughout the album, with harsh, melo-death sections, stunning guitar work, lulling acoustic passages, and glorious group harmony which will bring you out in goosebumps. Atmospheric, immersive and at times powerfully bleak, I believe this to be Insomnium’s finest work to date.
You can read Loud-Stuff’s full review of the album here.
Number 2: Semente – Sinistro
Sinistro‘s stunning release ‘Semente’ is a gorgeous mix of enormous, stomping doom riffs and an elegant, sophisticated vocal from front-woman Patricia Andrade. Powerful and beautiful, I cannot begin to describe how hauntingly addictive this album is. Slow and crushingly heavy, Semente will not fail to seduce you. With massive, lumbering riffs and the sheer versatility of Andrade’s irresistible voice, this album is a delicious mix of the mournful and provocative. Listen loud! Check out the opening track, ‘Partida‘ and prepare to have your mind completely blown.
Number 3: Mariner – Cult of Luna
Swedish post-metal band Cult of Luna released their seventh album ‘Mariner‘ as a collaborative with American vocalist Julie Christmas. Drawing heavily on themes of outer-space and the universe, the album seems to focus around contrast and juxtaposition, literally creating something which seems ‘not of this world’. Cult of Luna bring slow, crushing riffs which contrast with Christmas’s wild, feral-sounding screams and shrieks. The addition of these vocals bring an eerie dynamic to Cult of Luna’s already massive sound. They compliment each other perfectly, whilst creating a completely unique sound.
Number 4: Wistful – Sylvaine
Delicate and precise, Norwegian atmospheric post-metal artist Sylvaine‘s second album ‘Wistful’ brings us an intricate blend of gorgeous vocals and fragile-sounding guitar tones. Dreamy, lulling and angelic, I was struck by the beauty of tracks such as ‘Saudade‘ and ‘Ghost Trapped in a Limbo’, with their subtle and graceful melodies. Tracks such as ‘Earthbound‘ give a sense of light versus dark, and the invasion of harsh vocals on this beautiful landscape gives very interesting results.
Number 5: Jumalten Aika – Moonsorrow
Finnish blackened-folk metal band Moonsorrow‘s album release ‘Jumalten Aika’ certainly did not disappoint me. This is their traditional sound at it’s best, with heavy, yet bouncy riffs, harsh vocals, group chanting and choruses, as well as the favoured addition of the mouth-harp. It’s fun, it’s grim, it’s pounding and it’s practically tribal. There is something deliciously primative about it. I enjoy this album massively. Turn it up and stomp along!
Number 6: Moonlover – Ghost Bath
Desperate and desolate, American post-black metal band Ghost Bath deliver a stunning combination of agonised, tortured vocals and at times, positive, happy-sounding chord progressions in a black-metal style. They are unlike anything I have heard before, and my very first exposure to them gave me the shivers. Clear, distinct piano passages throughout the album are a beautiful addition to the overall atmosphere. Tracks such as ‘The Silver Flower Part II‘ encompass almost everything that Ghost Bath are, with a slow, grim introduction to a gentle, atmospheric outro, and everything in between. Absolutely stunning. Check it out below.
Number 7: Kodama – Alcest
Alcest‘s ‘Kodama’ is absolutely gorgeous. Brimming with stunning, graceful landscapes and coated in Neige’s gentle, soaring vocal, this album is ‘pretty’ in every sense of the word. With delicate guitar tones and intricate melodies, I find myself exhilarated when the blast-beats hit and Alcest remind us of their atmospheric-black metal elements alongside the ‘shoegaze’ aspects. Kodama is bittersweet – joyful, mournful and exquisite. I am particularly drawn to the track ‘Oiseaux de Proie’. It’s beautiful, uplifting and represents everything I love about Alcest.
Number 8: Winter – Oceans of Slumber
With an instantly stunning vocal from Cammie Gilbert, Texan progressive-metal band Oceans of Slumber‘s album ‘Winter’ is a mix of everything from doom to death-metal, and anything in between, showcased by tracks such as ‘Apropologue’. Gilbert’s angelic and soaring vocal really sets this album off, with catchy melodies and choruses on top of some excellent musicianship and guitar work. Tracks such as ‘Devout’ and ‘Suffer the Last Bridge’ really stand out to me. The album also features a cover of ‘Nights in White Satin’ by The Moody Blues, which was unexpected but a nice touch.
Number 9: Alters – Kroh
Birmingham’s five-piece doom-metal band Kroh bring us their album ‘Alters’. Backed with fuzzy guitar and a heavy undertone, Kroh delivery catchy, addictive riffs topped with Oliwia Sobieszek’s captivating vocals. Slow, repetitive and rumbling, the formula here seems simple but is somehow magnetic, making the listener swing and sway to the music. Tracks such as ‘Feed the Brain’ and ‘Stone into Flesh’ give an eerier feel, keeping the album dynamic.
Number 10: Sorceress – Opeth
I found Opeth‘s release ‘Sorceress’ very unusual. With huge variety throughout the album and the tracks themselves, it seems like Opeth are experimenting with the different styles they have approached across the latest few albums. Thick with heavy, almost jazzy riffs and supported by Mikael Åkerfeldt’s gorgeous vocal, blending with a 70s blues-rock approach, this album is captivating, technically advanced, powerful… and odd. I definitely enjoy it in places but certainly I have to be in the right mood.