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Metal Machines

The past month has been quite a busy one for the world of metal music and many well-established acts have announced new releases. However, among the many new releases, three stand out above the rest.

Therion, long regarded as the masters of symphonic metal, are also known for their elaborate concerts and multiple operatic and metal-style guest singers. After undergoing a vast change in lineup and recruiting new members, including Thomas Vikstrom, the band’s first official lead singer since guitarist Christofer Johnsson retired from vocal duties. The follow- up to 2007’s Gothic Kabbalah is Sitra Ahra, a rather peculiar, but strong effort from the symphonic metal entity. While Gothic Kabbalah was more of a personal, raw, guitar-heavy album with a rocking feel, Sitra Ahra features unapologetic orchestration and an old-fashioned feel with sounds that one may hear in some old black-and-white movie.

The title track serves as a more than adequate way to start off the album because of its general calmness and the upfront symphony. The main problem with this album is “Din,” which is simultaneously a short and fast song but for some reason cuts off abruptly, a fact that remains a problem even after a few listens. Nevertheless, Sitra Ahra is a must-listen for those who want something a little different.

Dimmu Borgir are probably the most well-known symphonic black metal band besides Cradle of Filth. After firing their keyboardist Mustis and bassist/ clean vocalist ICS Vortex (ex- Arcturus, ex-Borknagar), the band proceeded to work on the new album Abrahadabra (loosely translated as “I will create as I will speak”). The album turned out to be rather epic, with an orchestral bombast complete with choir that rivals “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” from 2003’s Death Cult Armageddon.

Finally, James LaBrie’s new solo album, Static Impulse broke out onto the scene. Though expectations were high for LaBrie’s solo album, audiences got far more than they expected as they heard a very confident, bone-crushingly heavy and yet refreshingly melodic album stylized after Swedish death metal. LaBrie, whose vocals are admittedly an acquired taste, shows that he can still demand respect with his own band. The death-growls and screams are handled by the drummer, Peter Wildoer of Darkane. Everything about this album is tightly constructed and even more confident than the previous solo effort, Elements of Persuasion. Notable songs on the album are “One More Time,” “Mislead,” “Euphoric,” “This is War” and “Coming Home,” an acoustic ballad that closes the album nicely.

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