It definitely feels wrong to write about something else on Earth Day, but considering all the greenwashing it’s being used for and how that’s even encouraged by the year’s theme, which is in fact, and very suspiciously, the same as last year’s and proves that the “official” part of the movement is rushing in the wrong direction just as well, and seeing as I already commented about this last year, I guess I might as well add another post in this series instead.
I probably should at least honor the occasion by focusing on bands and songs with an environmental theme, but I won’t, even if I actually did a quick search for bands that tackle this topic as I started writing this, so I may do that at a later time. However, after happening to stumble upon a band from Estonia and then searching the list and finding just one more from there, over the past few days I ended up having a quick look through other Estonian bands… And finding just two more that caught my attention, and only one that I’ll add here, to at least have that bare minimum of three. The other one will also go on the list, but they changed their style between their two full-length albums and, while I liked their older sound, I’m not fond of the new direction, yet they’re now teasing a new album, so maybe they’ll change direction yet again and I’ll be more inclined to add them in a future post.
That initial new find is Cydefect and the two picks are simple, Moment of Peace and Heal, since there’s little more to choose from at the moment. Sure, you can hear some of the lack of polish and uncertainty that’s to be expected of new bands, but less of it than in most cases, so if this is their starting point, I’d say that they show quite a lot of promise. But it remains to be seen how they’ll develop…
The one Estonian band that was already on the list is Portread and the last activity that I can find was shortly after the release of their one album, at the start of 2020, but I’m going to include them anyway, with the two picks being Saint of Sorrow and Born in Secrecy. I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore, unless they’ll return at a later point, but they sound more polished, and it’s the composition and the instrumental part that caught my attention more than the vocals, though those aren’t bad either.
And the band that I’m including after finding it while searching is Sky Down. They also only have one album, and it was released back in 2017, but they are still active. And the two picks are Shadow of the World and Storm. It’s not exactly a sound that I’d look for, and most of the other songs go even farther in another direction, but they do what they aim to do well enough.
Needing a non-personal post this week, I started checking some of the bands from the list and was pleased to quickly find several that had new releases, some after a long hiatus, in some cases finally giving me a good reason to include them in a post from this series, after failing to do so way back when I first discovered them. It will be another rushed post, only including three bands and written in a hurry, and none of the bands are new finds in the least, all three having been on the list for quite a number of years, but all three have new material released within the past year.
I’ll start with Escapist, which is actually one of the early additions on the list. Their early releases impressed me, and my first pick will actually be the very first song they posted, Angels Never Gone, while the second one will be Closer. That was, in itself, released earlier, but it’s from the album that they released last year, so I’ll count it as recent enough. The problem is that, instead of that new album, released some eight and a half years after their first one, marking their return, it might actually mark their end, since it would seem that their vocalist is no longer in the band, and she was definitely what made them stand out.
Another early addition on the list is Rose Avalon, which finally released the second full album last month, also well over eight years after their first one, though in 2018 they released the EP with the same name as this recent album, which included three of the songs that are also on it. Either way, while the songs from this new album didn’t strike me as particularly memorable, and some even include growls, I’ll pick Oppressors from it. But the second pick, the much older Capio Mea Fides, is why I wanted to include them here, so I hope that they’ll also return at least to that level, now that they returned to releasing albums.
I’ll finish this post with Thy Shade, whose first album, released in 2016, remains their only one, but who did more recently release three new songs. Unfortunately, two of them include growls, leaving the most recent one, Never Enough, as the only one that I can pick. At least that’s a pretty good song, but the main reason why I wanted to include them in such a post is their version of Adagio, which is quite a stunning piece, and I wouldn’t say that it really counts as a cover. But there are other great songs on that album as well.
After adding four posts to this series in the first three months of 2022, and no less than 14 in 2021, including one with what used to be the normal five bands, this is the first one in just under ten months, and it’ll once again be rushed and only include this “new normal” of three bands. But, after pretty much making a point of not looking for any new bands in quite some time, I recently happened to click on a few recommendations on YouTube, which resulted in one actual new find and realizing that I had wrongly discarded a band which I had stumbled into before. And then I started looking for a third band that I could add and found that a Romanian one which I had followed for a while but couldn’t include in such a post because they usually released only covers started adding more original songs over the past couple of years, so I had enough for a post.
The actual new find is LYRRE, and while I’m not particularly fond of the hurdy-gurdy that they seem to want to use as their “signature”, it can have its place and it does introduce a different element into their sound, so the songs that they released so far are interesting enough. And there are just three of them, which made it easy to select my two picks, which are North Star and Call in the Wind.
The second band is Ad Infinitum, and I clearly remember discarding them before because what I had stumbled into were songs ruined by growls, but now that I listened to several where all the vocals are clear I definitely couldn’t skip over them anymore. And those songs existed on their earlier albums, and since I can select my two picks from different ones even so, I actually won’t include any of the songs that were already released from their upcoming album and go with Inferno and Fire and Ice. When they can sound so well, it’s just such a pity that they choose to ruin quite a number of their songs, some of them badly, with those growls…
As for the Romanian band, that’s Anahata and, as I already mentioned, they usually release covers, and have been doing so very regularly for years, but they now also have a number of original songs and I can therefore finally include them in such a post. However, because it’s different from their other ones, my first pick will be their first original song, Masquerade. And then I wanted to make it easy for myself and select one released less than a year ago as my second pick, going with Tarnished Speck of Grace, but the fact that I didn’t pick any recent song for Ad Infinitum made me question that decision… And I wanted to include their cover of Tallulah anyway, since I was quite hooked on that one after stumbling into it, so I’ll just go ahead and break my rule of picking two songs per band even more and add Midsummer Cairn and Let the Solstice Reign here as well, just because I like them.
This will be another one of those probably awfully inappropriate posts, adding another that only includes Ukrainian bands to this series. And this time around they don’t even seem to still be active, or at least the two actual new finds don’t have new material or any other activity that I can find in years and the third, which is the one Ukrainian band that I still had on the list, ceased to exist in that form several years ago, though it can be said to have a successor, as a two-person project, but the songs posted under that name seem to be in Ukrainian. And yes, I’m aware that there is one more band on that list that has Ukraine listed as the country, but it’s from Sevastopol and they seem to consider themselves Russian, so they’re part of the problem and I won’t even mention their name now. Either way, once again, I can only hope that the members of these bands will make it through this, along with the rest of the Ukrainians and the country as a whole… And with all of us in this part of the world, and not only.
Kreigen is the band I specifically meant to include this time around, albeit more for what they attempted than for what they actually achieved, this kind of operatic metal with several vocalists requiring production values that they obviously lacked and also more experience than they strike me as having. I’d say that Winter of the Wolf and Therion of Wawel turned out better than the rest, so those are my two picks, the first actually being what I happened to pick to listen to first and the reason why I was actually excited to stumble into this band before the other songs dampened my enthusiasm. Still, the potential is obvious and I’d have certainly liked them to continue.
The other new find is HeirThronE, which can be said to be here in order to have three bands in this post, being a generic power metal, or even simply heavy metal, band, with a rather rough sound and some weaknesses in the vocals. Still, they seem to be kids, or at least they were at the time this was recorded, and I’d actually say that they sound better than I’d have expected after seeing that picture. If you want to listen for yourselves, I’ll go with Metalhallow and Hero as my two picks.
As for the band that was already on the list and which I know is no longer active in this form, though two members continue under the name of Trouble|Me, that’s Sad Alice Said and my picks are Open Your Eyes and Fade. They’re the one band included in this post that seems fairly professional and experienced, and the sound is clean and smooth, quite pleasing to listen to, but it strikes me as rather weak, in the sense of lacking strength. Not that everything needs to have a powerful sound, of course, but it seems to me that they could use, or more exactly could have used, more force in order to truly be memorable.
After last week’s post, I’ll continue on this probably awfully inappropriate path, adding another along the same lines to this series, so again only having Ukrainian bands that are actual new finds for me, albeit from different parts of the country this time around. I’m still rushing even when it comes to picking the bands, not really using consistent criteria, but the three in this post do stick to my recent rule, having released new material, or in case of two of the three their only material, within the past year. Again, I can only hope that the members of these bands will make it through this, along with the rest of the Ukrainians and the country as a whole… And with all of us in this part of the world, and not only.
Again using the alphabetical order, I’ll start with Blessdivine, who only have one album so far, so both picks will have to be from it. It also seems to be another one of those infuriating cases of a label not allowing their bands to post their music on their own channels, and since it’s also from Italy I’m starting to wonder whether it’s something of a rule there, but I guess I’ll just have to deal with it and, since it’s the only song that they have at least a lyric video for, Servants of the Cross will have to be the first pick, while for the second I’ll go with A New Dawn. They have a pretty typical power metal sound, which also implies only male vocals, but they pull it off quite well, so I can’t complain, and found A New Dawn in particular to be quite enjoyable.
Defiant is a far more established band, so I just listened to the few songs that they have videos for and the two picks would be Breaker of Chains and Defiant… As strange as it is to see a self-titled song appearing quite a few albums into a band’s “life”. Either way, this is also power metal, and also only having male vocals, though they seem to have changed a few vocalists over the years and early on, when they weren’t singing in English, I’m seeing a female vocalist listed as well. But what I heard now shows that they’re confident, experienced, skilled, the instrumental parts also making me think of far better known bands at times.
As for Magic Infinity, they also only have one album released so far, and only two songs, Broken Heart and Nostradamus, posted separately, so I’ll take the easy way and go with them as my two picks. They also only have male vocals despite the fact that, at least based on these two songs, it seems fair enough to see them listed under Gothic, the sound leaning towards the theatrical, if I may use the term, so contrasting voices would definitely help. But at least there don’t seem to be growls, bar one little moment, at least as far as I could tell after quickly skipping through their other songs as well. Sadly, they seem to be badly suffering because of poor equipment, or at least it seems to me that the recording quality is poor and little, if any, work was done on the tracks after the recording itself, so what you can hear here is probably not what they’d really be capable of.