Cellar Darling: This Is The Sound (Nuclear Blast)
Cellar Darling are a trio of Anna Murphy (vocals, hurdy gurdy). Merlin Sutter (drums) and Ivo Henzi (guitars & bass), all three are formerly of Swiss folk metal act Eluveitie. Cellar Darling don't really stray to far from the musical endeavours of their former band but instead of the harsh/clean mix employed by Eluveitie Anna handles all the vocals for this record. Her voice is similar to that of Sharon Den Adel of Within Temptation and you can hear that clearly on the symphonic Black Moon which is one of the three singles that open this record. First track Avalanche has pagan chanting with the pulsing riffs of Amaranthe while Challenge is the folkiest song of the three with Anna's Hurdy Gurdy driving the song as Ivo gets a killer guitar solo at the end.
The metal part of this record sits more in the symphonic/power style than that of their previous band, the tones are darker and drawn from the pagan and Wicca world, Six Days has an industrial sound in opposition with the keys and flutes that come in middle of the piece, with little fills and epilogues the album draws similarities with Charlotte Wessels Phantasma project in 2015. Murphy has great vocals and is able to show them off much better here than she ever did with her previous band while Ivo and Merlin are the perfect foils for her angelic voice and hurdy-gurdying the three have spent a long time on the road together and it does show with the confidence exuded on this record, at 14 songs for the special edition they clearly have a wealth of material built up in their short existence and the fruits of their collective labour make this album a very choice cut for those with a love of folk-influenced metal. 8/10
Rabid Bitch Of The North: Nothing But A Bitter Taste (Hostile Media)
A big old slab of Northern Iron now from Norn Iron metal traditionalists Rabid Bitch Of The North who play loud, brash, heavy metal that's decked in leather, studs and wields a Rickenbacker bass, which precisely how bassist/vocalist Joe McDonnell makes his noise, he along with drummer Chris Condie and guitarist Gerry Mullholland make the noise contained on this record. They really buy into the NWOBHM mythology staccato riffs, one-two drum patterns and lead bass playing all feature heavily as the band use screeching highs and gritty lower vocals to give songs like Nothing But A Bitter Taste their attitude but will also split the audience in half, as they are a bit love or hate. The record has nothing you haven't heard before but it's fun enough for a bit of retroism in the modern day. 7/10
The Sun Explodes: We Are Of These Walls (Self Released)
With the continuing evolution of the genre many call djent there are many bands now successfully that marry a cacophony of riffs with songwriting that engages. The Sun Explodes are one of the more recent bands to come out of the technical metal origins but they like many of their compatriots have adjusted the formula to something that is a bit more accessible and melodic. The vocals for one are excellent Dave Maclachlan has an expressive vocal and he also adds the keys to the heavyweight emotive songs such as Mirrorgazer which closes the album strongly.
The rest of the record is full of heavy low tuned metal with big meaty riffs the order of the day, filled with progressive touches and groove the band really show their talent on the excellent Spake Of Tongue which brings all their elements together while Orro/Seven Sisters are the more ambient middle section. The Sun Explodes is a strong album that as I've said sits in the djent realms but pushes them yet again. 7/10