Astral Domine - Arcanum Gloriae (2014)

It’s been too long since a symphonic metal album tickled our fancy the way the latest album from Astral Domine. It’s powerful, moving, and yet, at the same time, peaceful. I might not be able to say “Arcanum Gloriae” is perfect, but it treads dangerously close.

Gods Tower - Roll Out (EP) (2013)

Gods Tower may have the look of a one dimensional, full speed ahead folk/thrash band, but there is a lot of heart dwelling underneath the surface. Two tracks may not seem like a large sample of their variety, but “Roll Out” is a hell of a lot deeper than the tank on the cover indicates.

Feridea - Reborn In Time (EP) (2014)

We’ve beaten the dead horse until it died a second death. Symphonic metal is a crowded arena, and only the best and brightest stand out. Feridea aren’t bad at what they do; but what they do just isn’t enough to separate themselves from the pack.

Random - Pidanoma (2014)

Whether you take the name at face value or look deeper, Random holds a lot in those six letters. Their mix of eclectic musical styles might be tough to decipher on the first listen, but after a few spins of “Pidanoma,” you will be hooked, drooling, and ready for more.

Gukurahundi - An Apparition In Nocturnal Splendor (EP) (2013)

California’s Gukurahundi aren’t big on subtlety or light touches; but their blasting riffs and battery are enough to keep this five song EP spinning. Blackened death metal doesn’t have much lateral movement, but “An Apparition In Nocturnal Splendor” does have a few bright spots.

Courtsleet - Hope’s Apparition (EP) (2014)

We already delved deeply into one half of a split that was made to be; Joe Hawker and his Of Solitude And Solemn project added some feeling. But Courtsleet, the brain child of Gavin Turner, is the counterpoint. Raw, emotional, and grating, “Hope’s Apparition” is the yang to Hawker’s yin.

Idensity - Chronicles (2013)

It took way too long for the new album by France’s Idensity to make it’s way through our speakers, but it was worth every day waiting. Taking traditional death metal and amplifying it through the use of breathtaking violins and orchestration, “Chronicles” is every bit as dynamic as it sounds.

Empyrean Throne - Demonseed (2013)

To set yourself apart from the hordes of other death metal bands, Empyrean Throne had two options: either do it better than everyone else, or add something to the mix that the others can’t match. Why choose, when you can do both? “Demonseed” is fresh and brutal.

Absidia…In The Shadow - The Storm (EP) (2013)

The best laid plans, as we know, often go awry. Absidia… In The Shadow may have had the best of symphonic black metal intentions, but their end result doesn’t live up to the plan. Unfortunately, “The Storm” isn’t much of one.

Valtari - Hunter’s Pride (2014)

Two years, a truck load of time and effort. Marty Warren was already riding the wave from his last album, but that just wasn’t enough. An Aussie melodic death project with a Scandinavian twist. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Go get “Hunter’s Pride;” you won’t be disappointed.