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10 Highly Recommended Metal Albums Of 2023 (#6-10)

Nice to see that life has basically returned to normal and so many quality releases came across my desk this year. Out of the few hundred I got a chance to listen to, the following 10 were the ones played the most. 

Check out this Spotify playlist for the full list, honourable mentions, singles and a few not-metal releases.

10 – HERMITAGE – DARUMA’S EYES PT. 2 – TEMPERANCE (Italy) October 20, 2023

Most new power metal has really fallen off for me, many of the bands I was listening to in the 00s have either taken a more progressive turn, or suffered a dramatic loss of power and intensity in their music. I was pleasantly surprised when I came across Italy’s TEMPERANCE in this regard. The first listen of “Daruma”  hit me with the full force of powerful operatic vocals and well utilised symphonics, an instant throwback to the glory days of power metal that got your heart racing, made you feel like you were flying on a dragon and other assorted cheese like that. A grandiose story is told with this album through though fist pounding riffs, singalong falsetto chorus, massive walls of choir, orchestra and engaging lyrics. It’s a fun listen from cover to cover.

Favourite Track: Daruma

FFO: Delain, Nightwish, Epica

9 – CONVERGENCE – SHYLMAGOGHNAR (Nederlands) November 10th, 2023

The third release from SHYLMAGOGHNAR contrasts in comparison to the first two albums as it is a solo effort by Nimblkorg. On the debut record “Emergence” the lyrics and vocals were done by co-founder Skirge and even with his departure, the vocals on this latest release are of equal quality as before. This current iteration definitely seems to have found its style and is more cohesive and meticulous than the two preceding albums. On some tracks the keyboards take a more prominent role in creating a melancholic harmony that complement contemplative guitar passages, while on others speedy riffs collide with melodeth gutturals. Adding in doomy and blackened elements make this record a very dynamic listening experience. 

Favourite Track: Follow The River

FFO: Saor, Duskmourn, Opeth

8 – NIGHTSPHERE – HERETOIR (Germany) October 6th, 2023

My end of year list wouldn’t be complete without a brooding, miserable post black metal descent into gloomy introspection. This year’s soundtrack for existential doom is “Nightsphere”, a heart wrenching scream into the abyss. Harsh vocals that claw through you and threaten to drag you beneath the dirt are met by soothing cleans which offer a moment of comfort and morose, melancholic guitar riffs delivering solace and commiseration. The collaboration with DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT on “Glacierheart” is a perfectly icy mix that goes well with the name of the song and will keep you cool on hot summer days.

Favourite Track: Glacierheart – Nightsphere Part II

FFO: Harakiri For The Sky, Agalloch, Alcest

7 – DESCENT – ORBIT CULTURE (Sweden) August 18, 2023

When ORBIT CULTURE debuted “Rasen” in 2016 it was one of my favourite releases of the year and I told everyone about it. It was inventive and easily stood out from the pack with the unique vocals and just the right amount of core elements. However the next couple releases fell off for me and I had almost given up on them. Fortunately on this year’s  “Descent” they bring back all the power, machine gun blast beats, melodic riffs, deathy vocals, and spine tingling modern cleans of the past. There are thick layers of elements providing a complex wall of sound that is intriguing and instantly distinguishable. If this release don’t satiate your desire for groove metal, they released a few more tracks in December on  “The Forgotten”.

Favourite Track: The Aisle Of Fire

FFO: Meshuggah, In Flames, Hypocrisy

6 – AS IN GARDENS, SO IN TOMBS …AND OCEANS (Finland) January 27, 2023

From the get go “As In Gardens, So In Tombs” demands you give it your full attention and in return it delivers an  authentic, multifaceted listening experience. The juxtaposition of symphonics and black metal leave little to be desired. Of course, being Finnish there is a heavy dose of keyboards that collide with passionately melodic riffs. For the astute listener there are electronic/industrial elements which give it that little something extra that I appreciate. The musicians that make up …AND OCEANS have decades of experience in other bands, knowledge and influences that permeate this album.

Favourite Track: Cloud Heads

FFO: Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, The Kovenant

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