Desolate Plains: Practicing The Inner Arts (Molon Lave Records)
Athens act Desolate Plains are a two piece that seems to be the project of Lampros Potamianos who plays guitars and bass as well as also writing all of the music and lyrics, he is joined by Aliki Katriou who takes the mic as well as contributing lyrics and music, the band's music deals with "the human spirit and its continuing evolution through the centuries" they do this by playing very impressive modern metal tracks move between crunching groove metal to classic orchestral thrash, Shadow Of Eternity especially could have come off any of the latest Metallica albums, it serves as just a small part to what this band can do they successfully merge black, death and thrash metal with the symphonic swathes of black metal coming through on top of the double kicks of session drummer Hugo Ribeiro.
What makes the band an entertaining prospect is that Potamianos is a very talented guitar player and composer creating complicated musical pieces for Aliki to sing over, they get much more elaborate as the album progresses adding layers of acoustics and the aforementioned orchestral touches to Taming An Inner Storm. It's in the vocals where Desolate Plains are really interesting Aliki's vocals are so low you'd be forgiven if you didn't realise shes a woman, she snarls and screams on tracks such as Being Of Despair and Beneath My Skin but she also has a low clean vocals that is really alluring for the listener. Desolate Plains is a perfect name for this band their songs are full of a ringing desolation starting out with faster more aggressive songs before they slow things down into swaying bleak doom-laden grooves Crippled Black Phoenix would adore. As I've said Desolate Plains are intriguing their music is difficult and takes a few spins to really grab you but when it does it rewards you with progressive, genre spanning heaviness. 8/10
Soulskinner: Descent To Abbadon (Xtreem Music)
Unlike Desolate Plains their is no subtlety in Soulskinner's fourth album, they play gut ripping brutal death metal with touches of grind to really crush your bones to dust. The Athens based band have been bludgeoning the Greek scene since 1997 (when they were known as Terra Tenebrae) but they have only been in this incarnation since 2000, in that time they have released four studio albums and plenty of splits meaning they are well versed in battery and they aren't going to change tact yet the record opens with Fratricide which moves into Soul Of Death seamlessly the drumming not dropping a beat and the shredding attacking your vital organs.
Clearly the band are influenced by bands such as Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Benediction and Autopsy as they are comfortable riffing at lightning speed as they are slowing things down for thundering doom on Nemesis. Heavy as a really heavy thing and twice as angry Soulskinner are like an artillery barrage, loud, raucous and earth flattening if you like your death metal as pure is it can be descend into abaddon with this Greek death machine. 7/10
The Shadeless Emperor: Ashbled Shores (WormHoleDeath Records)
Ashbled Shores is the debut record of Larissa based metal band The Shadeless Empire they play style of melodic death metal that incorporates some epic folk elements from the outset, the record opens with the title track which has a middle section which has some hot flute action from frontman Ethan which comes back on Shades Over The Empire. Their music is like Amon Amarth very heavy but with melodic touches throughout, they have classic metal, death metal and as I've said folk tendencies in their music the dual guitars of Tasos and Chris are excellent, riff happy and progressively dexterous they lead the charge of this record and also add the acoustic guitars that sprinkled in and out of the record.
In the rhythm section Thanos is blastbeat happy but can also give heartbeat to the acoustic parts while Filippos has a big bottom end, the record is grandiose with a piano interlude in the middle of the record before Helios The Dark brings back the heavy as Ethan roars over every track with a vengeance and plays a mean flute too as I've mentioned. The Shadeless Emperor have a lot going on on their debut record, it's interesting, heavy and will appeal to anyone who like Amon, Enisferum and Insomnium. 8/10