#TheGathering III – Melodic Death Metal edition

5 min read

Welcome back to “The Gathering”, a weekly segment focusing on new release material from a chosen heavy metal subgenre. In the previous weeks, we’ve covered doom metal and thrash metal and in this week’s edition we’ve gathered up a selection of new releases from the melodic death metal sphere.

When I think of melodic death metal my mind immediately wants to head to the Nordic regions like Sweden and Finland. So it was surprising to find that almost all of the bands releasing new material at the moment hail from the United States. I wasn’t sure if there would be a detectable regional sound amongst the selection and it was impressive to discover an incredible diversity in the styles of these US acts. This week is a fun one so get ready to explore the dark, winding, and highly unpredictable terrain of current melodic death metal.

Band: Vaelmyst
Title: Secrypts of the Egochasm
Label: Independent
Released: 13 August 2021
Country: United States

Face the Madness” is the debut album for Danish thrash masters Killing. With this album you can expect vicious, to the point classic thrash with bold, in your face riffing, solos, and catchy hooks. There’s also loads of outrageous evil-OK, so let’s kick things off with the exciting debut album from Vaelmyst, a melodic death trio from Los Angeles. “Secrypts of the Egochasm” is dynamic, exquisitely crafted, and includes progressive elements as well as injections of blackened death and speed. This was my first encounter with the band and I have to say that I was stunned when I learned that this highly sophisticated album was their debut. The progressive and adventurous nature of the band’s sound has reawakened old memories and feelings similar to when I first discovered artists like Dark Tranquillity, early Opeth or even Vintersorg and Borknagar. This is a stellar effort and one that will remain in-rotation long after this review is done. I see you Vaelmyst!

Band: Winter Nights
Title: Sky Burial
Label: Independent
Released: 18 August 2021
Country: United States

Sky Burial” is the new four-track EP from New York death metallers Winter Nights.

The band formed back in 2007 and have only released material sporadically over the years. This offering has a searing coldness to the sound that I wasn’t expecting, and instead of overt brutality there is a more complex and burdensome heaviness to the style. Additionally, the inclusion of lofty synth, wailing guitars, and slow- to mid-tempos offer an extra solemn and symphonic feel. This all seems very fitting considering that the title “Sky Burial” refers to the ancient open air funerary practice performed in regions such as Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and also some provinces in China. The cover art even boldly depicts a part of this process showing a body being set upon and consumed by carrion birds. I found this EP surprisingly deep and intricate and can recommend that you give it a whirl.

Band: CroworD
Title: Crimson Gaze (EP)
Label: NRT Records
Released: 03 September 2021
Country: Austria

After four years of silence Austrian melodic death act CroworD are back with a new EP “Crimson Gaze”. The band was created in 2012 and cite Gothenburg’s 1990s death metal scene as a source of major inspiration, so if you’re a fan of that sound or bands like In Flames or At the Gates you may want to pay attention. This EP presents an honest melodic death experience with gruff, brutal vocals, plenty of intricate riffs, dazzling leads and melodious guitar wizardry. CroworD have delivered a solid offering here and one that will keep you engaged for the entire twenty-three minute runtime.

Band: Heirs of Isildur
Title: Heirs of Isildur vs Tales from Nocturnia
Label: Insymmetry Creations LLC
Released: 16 September 2021
Country: United States

And now for something completely different…

Heirs of Isildur is cross-media project, which includes a melodic death metal project, a steampunk time-travel comic series of the same name, and a medieval fantasy comic series called “Tales from Nocturnia”. This new release from the band “Heirs of Isildur vs Tales from Nocturnia” seems to be a musical clash of the two comic series. The album contains ten tracks of comic-inspired metal creativity that had me absolutely captivated for the entire forty-six minute duration. Talk about a musical journey and battle of creative ideas. Alongside the classic brutal death vocals and epic guitar leads, there’s wild and varied synth usage, violin, clean male/ female vocal harmonies, and switching moods and tempos. You never know what’s coming next and this just builds the excitement. The album also features guest appearances by artists such as Fabian Jiru (Trollfest, Fleshmeadow) and Bryan Eckermann (Scars of the Flesh, Wings of Abaddon, and Winters Plague). “Heirs of Isildur vs Tales from Nocturnia” was an unexpected and thrilling experience for me and one that you shouldn’t pass up.

Band: Swelling Repulsion
Title: The Severed Path
Label: Spirit Coffin Publishing
Released: 17 September 2021 (CD)
Country: United States

Swelling Repulsion are a progressive, melodic death metal band from Colorado. “The Severed Path” is the band’s first full-length release, originally released in June but this month will be receiving a CD release through Spirit Coffin Publishing. The nine track album has a surprisingly brief run time of just twenty-five minutes with a handful of tracks hovering around the two minute mark each. Most tracks, regardless of length, lean heavily into the proggy elements. There are regular switches in tempo, tone, style, method of performance and plenty of impressive displays of superior musicianship. In all honesty though I struggle with highly technical and overly-progressive metal, and this felt like I was riding an old wooden roller coaster the way each track relentlessly buffeted me one way and another. The serene instrumental tracks “Labyrinth” and “Portal offered some brief reprieve but I will admit that I was simply overwhelmed by the erratic style and suffered a prog-overload. However, fans of progessive metal should absolutely check this album out. There is undeniable talent on display here and an exciting ride for those with the fortitude to handle it.

Band: Death On Fire
Title: Six Foot Box
Label: Independent
Released: 16 July 2021
Country: United States

 I’m not familiar with Death on Fire but a quick search shows me that they are an Indiana based melodic death/ thrash act who formed in 2017 and who have released two albums and a couple of singles. Back in July the band offered up a new EP “Six Foot Box”, containing three tracks and just over thirteen minutes of material. I decided to jump in and take a listen.

Track one which also happens to be the title track was a total surprise for me, being a slow moving, ballad-like number with crooning vocals and fuzzy, bluesy guitars. A very unexpected opening for what I was anticipating was a death metal EP. The remaining two tracks usher in the riffs, shreds, grit and brutality that I’d initially been expecting. There’s a rawness in the production that gives this EP an almost ‘live’ performance feel to it, which adds to the experience. Overall, there’s nothing really new or dynamic here just good old fashioned, rockin’ metal.

Proua Metallist

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