The Best Melodeath / Extreme Power / Gothenburg Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2018





Dingy, dusky production pulls At The Gates back into the eldritch shadows where they belong, into the nocturnal maw of dark death metal. To Drink From The Night Itself burns in a haze of distorted riffs that slide and bounce and grind behind Tomas Lindberg's characteristic snarl, building on the success of At War With Reality. Once upon a deathly decade, this legendary Swedish quintet showed the world that it was possible to mold extreme metal into something infectious and groovy; now, that unique style of melodeath comes roaring back into the spotlight.

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Nightmarish and creepy as its cover artwork suggests, King Fowley's latest offering is an inspired blend of death, black, thrash and traditional heavy metal with incredibly melodic lead guitar work. It is also the final album recorded with the late Dave Castillo on drums, who gives a splendid last performance. Finally, it features arguably the best song Deceased have ever crafted, "Germ Of Distorted Lore". What else do you want to be convinced?

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The third full-length by Fractal Gates emphasises up-tempo and keyboard-heavy tunes, it has a prominent sci-fi aesthetic, and, above all, it brims with melodic death metal energy. The sound is impeccable, courtesy of the one and only Dan Swanö, and with guests such as Jari Lindholm (Enshine, ex-Slumber) and Ben Ellis (Scar Symmetry), fans of the style will feel compensated for the 5-year wait.

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Arghoslent are sort of personae non gratae around here (for obvious reasons), but House Of Atreus offers an inoffensive alternative, riffing past infinity with licks cribbed from old-school heavy/power, thrash, and other subgenres pressed into service for the cause of death. From The Madness Of Ixion achieves its extreme proportions of melody through the inexhaustible stock of riffs delivered by fluid instrumentation, rather than a stated commercial interest; this is rough, rhythmic, and highly catchy death metal that represents a side of the genre too few bands bother to explore.

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After spending eight albums in a swamp, you might think that Kalmah would have gotten trenchfoot or something by now - but Palo is a vital and bracing album, as riff-strong and exciting as Kalmah has ever been, so distinctly Finnish in its folk-borne melodies and guitar-keyboard cooperation that it's practically sitting alone in a sauna, calling its elk dealer on a Nokia while scanning foreign media for references to Finland and not smiling. Palo is a gloomy, dismal album in exactly the way we love; its somber hooks are just the thing to keep you feeling grey in these dark winter months.

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Nekrogoblikon have been lounging imperiously at the forefront of the New Wave of Goblin-Based Extreme Power/Melodeath for a few albums now, and though we'd be perfectly happy to hang with John Goblikon and mosh to his murky medleys like always, Welcome To Bonkers gets cozy with a variety of other genres to show some growth (moldy and otherwise) on the part of Nekrogoblikon. If you like infectious, keyboard-heavy melodeath with raspy vocals, then you'll be able to jam to this album, but also if you like The Flaming Lips, Queen, and large quantities of cheese.

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While in the business for over 20 years, melodic death metal veterans Omnium Gatherum don't show any sign of slowing down and with The Burning Cold proved that they still have what it takes. Their concept of solid keys, impressive leads, and heavy guitar solos payed off without sounding too Insomnium-ish like they did on their prior release persists. Old fans of the band will appreciate the album, while newer ones will have a great starting point while digging into their entire discography.

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Straight from the cover art, it ain't to hard to tell that Parius found some inspiration for their sophomore album from horror movies, especially those B-movies and The Twilight Zone. In the less than 30-minute run time that the album has, it manages to be varied, entertaining, and even somewhat goofy at times, mostly due to the occasional vocal play, but not only. It's quite clear that Parius don't take themselves completely seriously, which makes it so much more of an engaging listen, but this doesn't mean that they succumb to the pitfall of being a joke band; they instead show that you can be fun while also taking your music-writing extremely seriously.

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Hear those hardcore punk riffs hit pavement with that distinctive buzzed-out crunch? Feel the syncopation jackhammering those trademark grooves into the rhythmic bedrock? Hear those sizzling lead harmonies melting faces with every squeal and whine? When it comes to death metal, Sweden holds the crown - and that's why it also holds The Crown, whose invigorating melodic death metal has all the brawny riffs and razor-sharp tones we've come to expect from the scene wrapped up in a batch of electrifying songs. And on top of that, despite the youthful vigor, speed, and ferocity bleeding from every ragged stump of Cobra Speed Venom, this is not a debut from some hungry young upstarts looking to add their names to the long list of Swedeath legends - The Crown released Cobra Speed Venom to celebrate 20 years as a band. Ruminate on that next time you feel old.

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To quote a fellow Metal Stormer: "great production, good riffs, a cool cover art, interesting lyrics, it feels very Wolfheart..."; this about sums up Constellation Of The Black Light, the band's fourth full-length release since joining the 'game' in 2013. A mere 18 months after their highly acclaimed opus Tyhjyys shook the scene, the Finns continued their journey into bringing their folk-infused melodic death sound to the masses to enjoy.

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