• Numenorean - Adore (2019)

    Numenorean is a post back metal quintet from Calgary that I discovered by pure coincidence. It turns out that this young group is one of my greatest discoveries of the year. This isn't so surprising knowing that the band has signed with French label Season of Mist that might be the best in the genre.

    The quintet from Alberta offers captivating atmospheres somewhere between despair, grief and sorrow in form of unchained black metal outbursts with cold riffs, pitiless rhythm sections and skilled vocals where one can actually understand most of the lyrics. These moments are interwoven with appeasing, calm and introspective interludes and instrumental tunes centered around soothing acoustic guitar sounds evoking the beauty of nature. The changes, mixtures and transitions always sound perfectly fluid and invite listeners to get emotionally engaged, reconnect with nature and spark their creativity. This is an amazing record to listen to while working as it energizes and inspires from start to finish. Complex yet fluid title track ''Adore'' is probably the best song on the record as it summarizes the band's strengths in almost nine captivating minutes as one discovers beauty in darkness.

    If you like the combination of harmonious acoustic and ambient melodies on one side and unchained black metal outbursts on the other side, you are going to adore the detailed, imaginative and rich Adore by Calgarian youngsters Numenorean. In a certain way, the quintet's music reminds me of a harsher version of the soundtracks to the Life Is Strange video games that are absolutely stellar. If you want to listen to something creative, emotional and inspiring, give this record a spin and support the outstanding band and great label behind it.

    Final rating: 90%

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  • The Old Dead Tree - The End (2019)

    I have been waiting for this release for almost ten years and I'm glad that it actually ended up seeing the light of day today. French progressive gothic metal band The Old Dead Tree was one of the most creative, emotional and unique bands of the past decade and each of its stunning studio records is an epic milestone that other genre bands wished they wrote. The group split up while recording a fourth record a decade ago but came back to release the final five songs written together along with an intense documentary detailing the band's stunning career to bid farewell for good.

    In many cases, bands fail to meet expectations when they have been silent so long. This isn't the case at all for The End. The Old Dead Tree picks the fans up right where it left them with The Water Fields twelve years earlier. The five songs here are filled with sorrowful melancholia, intellectual quietude and deep sorrow. These tracks will take a few spins to unfold but constantly grow on you, haunt you and move you to the core and ultimately leave a lasting impression.

    The opener ''Sorrow'' starts with fragile piano melodies that soon turn dark and give place to plodding yet menacing riffs that should please doom metal fans. The track gets more epic when sorrowful guitar tones are smoothly added to the melting pot. All these things are happening in the opening two minutes before any vocals set in. These haven't changed at all since Manuel Munoz sounds as desperate, mournful and resilient as ever and his unique French accent blends in perfectly. His sorrowful clean vocals are as efficient as his bleak growls that are perfectly balanced. Even though the opening song doesn't have much of a conventional structure and goes through multiple changes, the vocals are the element that keeps everything together and gives the challenging track some flow.

    Up next, the band offers ''Someone Should Know (The Truth)'' that is a little bit more structured and rhythmic than the progressive opener. This song in particular could have found its righteous place in the middle section of The Water Fields with its transitions from calmer moments with domineering bass guitar play and distorted guitar tones to more powerful sections with heartfelt vocals and intense drum patterns.

    The middle track on this extended play is ''Kids'' which is the most rhythmic track with its simplistic but efficient verses while the bridges are dramatic, epic and longing in a way that is nearly cinematic. As a matter of fact, this song would be the perfect fit for the soundtrack of a nostalgic film noir.

    ''Raise'' starts with mournful guitar tones and dramatic piano sounds before it unfolds as vibrant and emotional ballad. The vocals add a poetic touch as some of the lyrics are offered in spoken words. The few faster guitar riffs and haunting screams contrast the calm and intellectual sections perfectly.

    Album closer ''The End... Again'' offers the tearjerking conclusion you have seen coming by a mile. It sounds haunted, fragile and desperate. Like so many other songs, it starts almost timidly with simplistic piano sounds, slightly distorted guitar sounds and shy clean vocals that get more intense with every moment before erupting into one final heartfelt outburst. It's the most emotional track on an intense release and therefore my favourite song on this output. Once the last sounds have faded, you feel like breathing out, laying back and digesting some of the most intense twenty-three minutes of music you might have ever come across. Soon after, you will hit the repeat button to embark on this emotional roller coaster ride again and again.

    To conclude, The Old Dead Tree's The End combines the band's strengths as if the group had never split up and convinces as much as the band's three regular studio records. If you have never heard about this band, here's your final chance to discover a unique gothic metal band with brain, heart and soul that is often compared to groups such as Katatonia and Opeth but actually even better than these genre veterans. If you don't believe me, give this release a few spins and get ready to discover this group's entire discography. Here's hope that the positive reception this release has received so far might convince the band to change its mind and come back for good one day.

    Final rating: 90%

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  • Ross the Boss - By Blood Sworn (2018)

    Let's adress the elephant in the room: new singer Marc Lopes. He yells, shouts and screams in every single song as if he were terrorized and fighting for survival. My mother would ask: Why does this gentleman scream so loudly, is he hurt? This vocal style might work in a select few cases such as brilliant Manowar cover ''Hail and Kill'' that needs to be performed so ferociously due to its gruesome lyrics. In most cases however, the singer sounds overtly motivated to a point when it becomes a trope that is unintentionally amusing. Don't get me wrong, a few energizing screams and shouts here and there are perfectly fine but when the singer does nothing but that it ends up sounding annoying at least or ridiculous at worst.

    This is a shame since the song writing is alright. It's nothing groundbreaking of course. In a time when Manowar's last respectable release traces back at least ten years, it's however great to have one of its former members around who is holding the hammer high. The guitar riffs are powerful and the solos blistering. The rhythm section provides flow and pace as well but the guitar play is much more domineering here than on actual Manowar records. The use of keyboards is also decent and gives some tunes a majestic, epic and cinematic feeling. Tunes likle the crushing ''I Am Vengeance'' or the elaborate ''Lilith'' would fit on any play list for a metal party.

    After listening to a few tunes however, one has to take a break because the singer is pushing things too far. There are grindcore singers and gangster rappers who sound more relaxing than he does. Slow down, God can hear you! Perhaps this overtly energetic performance works better in concert but the previous line-up with a different singer was overall better than this new revamped version of Ross the Boss. Bring back the line-up you had between 2015 and 2016 and record an album with it. There's still a need for traditional heavy metal with atmosphere, attitude and guts but it shouldn't be performed the way it is on By Blood Sworn.

    Final rating: 65%

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  • Oshawa Generals versus Ottawa 67s on November 30th 2019

    Oshawa Generals versus Ottawa 67s on November 30th 2019

    Oshawa Generals versus Ottawa 67s on November 30th 2019

    Oshawa Generals versus Ottawa 67s on November 30th 2019

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  • Hexvoid live in Ottawa

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