APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2015

motorheadWhen looking back at 2015, the only thing that seems to matter is the passing of Lemmy Kilmister. Of course losing Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in November was sad but Lemmy was on another level – one of the pillars of the entire rock ‘n roll universe. Thankfully, he left a voluminous legacy for us to enjoy for eternity, including some of music’s best interviews and quotes possible. Cheers, Lemmy.

Other than that, 2015 was a remarkably strong year for the pioneering, long-running bands in the metal scene.  Everyone from KILLING JOKE, MY DYING BRIDE, FEAR FACTORY to AMORPHIS put out fantastic records. This past year also saw some very good super groups in TAU CROSS and FIRESPAWN make their debuts.  You’ll find that many of them made it to our respective lists.

Additionally, we’ve recruited some fresh blood in Charles Elliott, Andrew Sample, and Jeff Wagner. These industry vets have been in the trenches with us for years and years, and have helped bring you many of the greatest records ever released for the past 20+ years.
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KUOLEMANLAAKSO’s Sophomore Release Coming February 2014

Svart Records has set February 28th as the international release date for KUOLEMANLAAKSO‘s Tulijoutsen (“The Fire Swan”), the highly acclaimed Finnish death-doomsters’ second album and their most ambitious work to date. Produced once again by TRIPTYKON/DARK FORTRESS guitarist V. Santura, the 50-minute album was inspired by the grandeur of the Finnish forests, serene eeriness of the lakes, and early 1900s poetry and folklore. Thus, it was only natural for the band to live the lyrics, so to speak, and isolate themselves in a secluded location in the middle of the woods and capture the true essence of the songs on hard disk.

Here is the track “Tuonen tähtivyö“:

Musically, KUOLEMANLAAKSO have taken giant leaps in new territories on Tulijoutsen, but not forgetting the crushing heaviness and the love for the avant-garde, which define the KUOLEMANLAAKSO sound. Compared to previous material, Tulijoutsen offers a fresh variety of vocal acrobatics, bigger choruses, catchier melodies, and fuller arrangements.

Kotamäki (SWALLOW THE SUN, ex-BARREN EARTH) – vocals
Laakso (CHAOSWEAVER) – guitar and keys
Usva (THE NIBIRUAN, ex-ELENIUM) – bass
Tiera (CULT OF ENDTIME, ex-DISCARD) – drums

SWALLOW THE SUN, MOONSORROW @ House of Blues, Hollywood (04/25/10)

The Finnish Metal Tour 2010 featuring FINNTROLL, SWALLOW THE SUN, MOONSORROW, and SURVIVOR ZERO came to Hollywood on Sunday night. Considering that all of these bands debuted no later than earlier in the decade as bands that only true underground warriors knew about, the turn out and demographics of the patrons was quite surprising and impressive. The great majority of the crowd was composed of young metal fans who never had to pay top dollar for the bands’ import-only releases. However, they were full of youthful energy and enthusiasm.

SWALLOW THE SUN opened the show with a fantastic near 45 minute set. A set this long is unheard of for an opening act. Their setlist predominantly focused on their latest album, New Moon, and also included songs from their previous releases. The band performed almost flawlessly with plenty of passion. Their brutal charging riffs went over well along with their quieter, more melodic song sections. Vocalist Mikko Kotamäki kept the on stage banter to a minimum and let his singing do the talking. All in all, this was quite a strong presentation for fans old and new.

MOONSORROW took the stage with an energy that contrasted with SWALLOW THE SUN‘s melancholic style of death/doom. MOONSORROW were immediately prowling the stage with two members opting to go topless (for better or for worse). The amount of showmanship and enthusiasm of the band quickly pumped up the crowd. While the band played well, I could not help but notice that their songs weren’t quite as atmospheric or trippy as they sound on record. In this live setting, the songs were more charging and aggressive. Regardless, their set was well played and just as well received.
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BARREN EARTH Reveal Tracklist for Debut Album, Curse of the Red River

New Finnish prog/death metal band, BARREN EARTH, featuring former members of AMORPHIS, and current members of SWALLOW THE SUN, MOONSORROW, and KREATOR, will be releasing their debut album, Curse of the Red River, on April 6th in the U.S. via Peaceville. Tracklisting is as follows:

1. “The Curse Of The Red River” (7:52)
2. “Our Twilight” (5:27)
3. “Forlorn Waves” (4:39)
4. “Flicker” (6:42)
5. “The Leer” (4:56)
6. “The Ritual Of Dawn” (6:34)
7. “Ere All Perish” (5:54)
8. “Cold Earth Chamber” (5:34)
9. “Deserted Morrows” (6:50)

The album was recorded at Seawolf Studios, Helsinki, in Summer 2009 with mixing carried out by the prolific Dan Swanö at Unisound in Sweden (KATATONIA, OPETH).

Visit the band on the web for more info:

APESHIT’s Top Albums of 2009

It’s that time where we take a look back on the year as 2009 comes to a close. So we, the APESHIT goons, asked ourselves, what albums moved us, kicked our asses, and reminded us of why we love metal (and music)? Read on for our top albums of 2009…
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Contrary to what many may or may not think, the release of a new SWALLOW THE SUN can be a significant event. With their fourth album, New Moon, SWALLOW THE SUN have written some of the best death/doom metal heard in recent years. Expansive, deep, and pretty damn solid, the album is a showcase of everything the band does well. Simply labeling SWALLOW THE SUN‘s distinctly Finnish music as “death/doom metal” can be misleading for these guys are more versatile than virtually any band in the genre. Whether it be versatility in vocal styles, different moods and feels, melodies, or how they can flawlessly pull off funeral doom and folk metal (i.e. AMORPHIS), SWALLOW THE SUN can do it all.

Opener, “These Woods Breathe Evil,” is heavy way to start things off and has a very black and black metal tone. “Falling World” has a decidedly different tone with its delicate and melancholic tone, complete with beautiful guitar melodies and clean vocals. “Sleepless Swans” sees the band getting heavy again with the crashing funeral doom of the last song section. “…And the Heavens Cried Blood” is the sound of tortured soul. “Lights on the Lake (Horror Pt. III)” starts off in a peaceful mood and soft female vocals before eventually smashing through with blast beats and crashing guitars, and coming back around again. The title track features some tasty guitar solos, a dimension to SWALLOW THE SUN‘s sound that is used very sparingly. The song also has the catchiest (clean) vocal lines on New Moon. “Servant of Sorrow” may be the least distinct number on the album. That’s not to say it’s bad in any way though. The song got some nice complimentary parts between the two guitars. SWALLOW THE SUN ends things with an epic doom finale with the 9:05 minute “Weight of the Dead.” If there was one song on New Moon to showcase what it was all about, this would be it.

New Moon is the kind of album that personifies how good underground metal can be when done right. If you’re late to the party, it’s OK as you can redeem yourself with some SWALLOW THE SUN. (Spinefarm Records)

Peaceville Records Signs Finnish All-Star Band BARREN EARTH

Peaceville Records is proud to announce the signing of Finnish prog death metallers, BARREN EARTH. With a line-up consisting of former members of prog/folk metal legends AMORPHIS, as well as current members of SWALLOW THE SUN, MOONSORROW and KREATOR, the band has been busy recording their debut album at the renowned Seawolf Studios in Helsinki, with the tracks currently being mixed by Dan Swanö (EDGE OF SANITY) who has described it as, “One of the best albums I have ever had the privilege to mix. The perfect blend of light and darkness. A new level of amazing has been reached!!”

An EP is due November 2009, with the album currently scheduled for an early 2010 release.

The music of BARREN EARTH combines elements of modern and traditional death metal, with 70’s prog rock and folk. Among the band’s influences are artists such as PARADISE LOST, OPETH, PINK FLOYD, JETHRO TULL and also some pioneers of Finnish prog.

Mikko Kotamäki – Vocals (SWALLOW THE SUN)
Olli-Pekka Laine – Bass (Ex-AMORPHIS, MANNHAI)
Kasper Mårtenson –Keyboards (Ex-AMORPHIS, BEN GRANFELT BAND)
Janne Perttilä – Guitar (RYTMIHÄIRIÖ)
Marko Tarvonen – Drums (MOONSORROW)
Sami Ylisirniö – Guitar (KREATOR, WALTARI)

On signing to Peaceville:

“Getting signed by Peaceville Records is a great honour, as they are one of the very few metal labels left who have a passion and feeling for the music they release. To us, it also feels like coming home, because in a way they carry a big responsibility for BARREN EARTH‘s existence by having released the most important albums from pioneers such as AUTOPSY and PARADISE LOST. Those albums played a huge role, when we sucked our musical mother’s milk in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This is a fact that should be noticeably evident in BARREN EARTH‘s sound and music. Hopefully BARREN EARTH will also be able to add a fresh spin to Peaceville‘s already impressive roster.” – Olli-Pekka Laine

For more details on BARREN EARTH go to: www.myspace.com/officialbarrenearth

KATATONIA to Return to the US this Fall

Sweden’s KATATONIA will return to headline their first American tour this fall. Kicking of September 4, the tour will make nineteen stops around the country and will feature an all European line-up with Sweden’s SCAR SYMMETRY joining up with Finland’s INSOMNIUM and SWALLOW THE SUN.

The tour, beginning in Springfield, Virginia will be KATATONIA‘s second visit to the US in a year, the band making their stateside touring debut last fall performing alongside MOONSPELL and North Carolina-based DAYLIGHT DIES. Touring in support of their first live album, Live Consternation, it will be the first time long-time American fans will be able to experience a full set from the highly acclaimed band. Live Consternation, set for American release June 5, is a stunning 5.01 cd/2.0 DVD package features selections from the band’s successful 2006 album, The Great Cold Distance, and choice cuts from their growing and popular catalog.

On-going acclaim for SCAR SYMMETRY‘s 2006 album, Pitch Black Progress, has yielded a second tour of North America for the melodic death metallers from Sweden.

INSOMNIUM will make their stateside debut performing selections from their current/third album, Above the Weeping World. “This is by far the best INSOMNIUM album”, says vocalist/bassist Niilo Sevänen. “It is the first time we feel we really succeeded in the studio. As a band we are very happy with the end result.” Formed in 1997, INSOMNIUM recorded two demos before signing with Candlelight Records.

Hope is the third album from rising Finnish doom/death band SWALLOW THE SUN. Featuring a guest appearance by KATATONIA vocalist Jonas Renske the album charted in the band’s home country of Finland upon its release. The tour will be the band’s first of America and comes as the band’s profile is rising internationally.

Confirmed dates as of press time are as noted. Ticket on sale information to follow.

Sep-04, Jaxx Nite Club (West Springfield VA)
Sep-06, BB King Blues Club (New York NY)
Sep-07, Mark’s Showplace (Bedford NH)
Sep-08, Chance Theater (Poughkeepsie NY)
Sep-09, Le Medley (Montreal QU)
Sep-10, Imperial de Quebec (Quebec City QU)
Sep-11, The Funhaus (Toronto ON)
Sep-12, Peabody’s (Cleveland OH)
Sep-13, I-Rock (Detroit MI)
Sep-14, The Pearl Room (Mokena IL)
Sep-15, Station 4 (St. Paul MN)
Sep-17, Bluebird Theater (Denver CO)
Sep-19, Whiskey-A-Go-Go (West Hollywood CA)
Sep-20, Showcase Theater (Corona CA)
Sep-21, Brickhouse (Phoenix AZ)
Sep-22, Launchpad (Albuqeruque NM)
Sep-24, White Rabbit (San Antonio TX)
Sep-25, Ridglea Theater (Ft. Worth TX)
Sep-26, Scout Bar (Houston TX)