The Best Melodeath / Extreme Power / Gothenburg Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2017




Æther Realm are criminally underrated. However, this DIY American band is pushing the boundaries of melodic death metal, adding their very own twist and mix of styles, including folk and extreme power metal. Just listen to Tarot, only their second album, which showcases their skillful creativity. No holds barred, variety, poignant growls, appealing orchestration, long epic songs, Tarot has it all. Æther Realm has been cited as the future of melodeath, but they are the present!

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Aetherian's debut proves that quality melodic death metal doesn't necessarily come from Scandinavia. The Untamed Wilderness is atmospheric, mournful, cold and grey. Without straying too outside the style's norms, it shifts from melancholic and ethereal to light and upbeat and is destined to take you to frozen landscapes warmed only by wonderfully crafted incandescent melodies.

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Surging from mid-paced, pounding alt-metal to melodic, keyboard-aided choruses that would be power metal if not for the vicious snarling, Will To Power remains very accessible, but doesn't skimp on the furious Gothenburg energy. For the first time, Jeff Loomis joins Michael Amott on guitar to plug away in the dark, crunchy, lightning-powered deathly style that Arch Enemy helped to popularize. Meanwhile, Alissa White-Gluz has settled into her role perfectly, spilling out brutal screams that make her second outing with Arch Enemy as much of a success as the first, and even contributing the first-ever cleanly sung Arch Enemy song in "Reason To Believe" (though it still does get aggressive).
Harmonized leads and thick, buzzing OSDM riffs; spare, punky time-keeping and merciless all-hands-on-deck blasting; plodding, doom-like constructions and flashes of tech death animus; Dawn Of Disease encompasses many flavors of death metal, but individuality is always paramount. Ascension Gate is ten songs of bludgeoning melodeath that never say the same things twice and go from Sweden to New York to everywhere else all without ever leaving Germany.

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Duskmourn play melodeath of the gods: vast, dramatic landscapes of folk-tinged blackened death metal steeped in fluid, expressive riffs and hallowed choral backgrounds, worked into gargantuan, enchanting melodies that are mighty and majestic in equal measure. It's impossible to believe that Of Shadow And Flame is the work of just two guys from the States; it sounds like it was formed out of the earth itself as some kind of natural wonder.

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Mors Principium Est is one of the hardest working and most consistent bands in melodeath today. This is the third MSA nomination they've earned in a row, which is a clear sign of a band not resting on their laurels - an evolution in their style is evident, as symphonic elements have gained importance in their already rich sonic palette that perfectly balanced the modern Gothenburg sound with the ferocious and dark melodic death metal of the mid-90's. The fact they almost disbanded six years ago is now but a distant and even improbable-sounding memory, since the new leading man Andy Gillion is executing a near-perfect vision of progression for the band on Embers Of A Dying World.

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It's a shame Noumena took a seven-year-long break after 2006's Anatomy Of Life, because they would have been as big as Insomnium had they been more active. How could they not? They play a similar blend of primal early Gothenburg and speedy-yet-gloomy early Amorphis. On Myrrys they pay respect to Finnish culture, so the album is sung entirely in Finnish and some folksy riffs and melodies break up the doom and gloom of the more downhearted compositions. Growler Antti Haapanen still sounds like an apparition from the primordial swamps and clean vocalist Suvi Uura enchants with her hauntingly clear voice.

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The album's title is a term representing a flaw or an error of a protagonist that leads to tragic consequences, and you can clearly feel that represented throughout the album. A little more toned down on the death side of death/doom, instead focusing more on the (Novembers) doom with much more emphasis on the clean vocals and the dark and gloomy feel of the album. Don't be fooled, however; there is still plenty of headbang material here nonetheless.

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The black ritual fires burned within Shaarimoth for 12 long years as Temple Of The Adversarial Fire came into existence; the level of detail and gripping songwriting prove that this effort was not for nothing. Following the path of Nile's scorpion-and-scarab style with a deep, filthy darkness borrowed from Morbid Angel, Shaarimoth bring a Mesopotamian flavor to melodeath. This album hovers around the noisier and thinner side of production, but still boasts bludgeoning bass, complex riffs, and devastating grooves.

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In Tuomas Saukkonen's own words, "tyhjyys" translates very roughly as "emptiness" or "void", but "is much more bleak and desolate than simple nothingness." Lacking an English word that fully corresponds, let us allow this album to serve as the translation for that particular emotional sensation. Though fully invested in the pursuit of all things heavy and brutal, Wolfheart are also capable of conveying extraordinary feeling through these intricate guitar lines. The crushing metal makes Tyhjyys a powerful album, but the resounding despair makes Tyhjyys a powerful experience.

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Write-in votes

21 Savage - Issa Album
Aeternam - Ruins Of Empires
Bloodshot Dawn - Reanimation
Brendon Small - Brendon Small's Galaktikon II: Become the Storm
Countless skies - New Dawn
Evocation - The Shadow Archetype
Ex Deo - The Immortal Wars
Igorrr - Savage Sinusoid
In Twilight's Embrace - Vanitas
Mutiny Within - Origins
Nightrage - The Venomous
Noumena - Myrrys
Serenity In Murder - The Eclipse
The Black Dahlia Murder - Nightbringers
The Black Dahlia Murder is fucking melodeath, not metalcore you dickheads. - Nightbringers
Wintersun - The Forest Seasons
Wolfheart - Tyhjyys
Wormwitch - Strike Mortal Soil