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Band Name: Zaklon
Album: Nikoli
Release Date: October 2014
Label: Embassy Row Music (US), Possession Productions (Europe)
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja

The one-man Black Metal project from Belarus, Zaklon, has produced a fourth studio album titled Nikoli (Never). Set for a limited, 1000 copy-release, the album comes with a 16-page booklet containing the release’s lyrics and artistic impressions of the Belarusian fall. The project, which was started by musician Temnarod in 1999, has released 3 other albums since 2010 as well as several demos in earlier years.

The first song, “Atruta” (Poisoned), begins with the sounds of Belarusian nature in the fall and spoken words in the Belarusian language before plunging into a riveting, beautiful Atmospheric Black Metal melody accompanied by Temnarod’s vicious vocals, which suit the song and album quite well. Well-paced guitars, drums, and bass encompass the song’s entire 14 minutes. The track ends on a lighter note.  A great opener to a dark and melancholic album for this fall season.
The next track, “Dolu” (Down), continues to shape further the harrowing atmosphere of the album with faster guitars than the first track and a generally more melodic tune. The vocals are also fitting for the gloomy nature of the song. Some might say it is a bit monotonous or repetitive, but they are missing out on the slow descent into the cold Belarusian forests that Zaklon evokes with their music.
Playing over the sounds of rain, the title track “Nikoli” (Never), is sure to draw you further into the ancient woods of Belarus with a doom-like style that is complemented with fast, melodic guitar riffs and powerful vocals. This heavy tune paints a bleak yet resplendent picture of the Belarusian groves in the fall.

If the previous tracks weren’t enough to throw your imagination into the stark scenery of the Eastern European woods, then the track Sliach (Road) will surely do that for you with its vigorous sounds and guitar play, which also continue with even more impressive tunes in the next track, Ahni (Lights). This musical piece is mesmerizing in a sense that it transports you into the heart of the fall under the grey skies of Belarus. It is also one of the most versatile tracks on the album with great progression and a variety of sounds that lean towards Doom Metal elements. Personally, this is my favorite track from this wonderful album.

It seems that Zaklon wanted to end the album with a quiet, soothing song, and they did that quite well with Dym (Smoke), which is the shortest track on the album and features acoustic guitar and violin sounds as well as a flute. There is no growling on this song, but rather Temnarod’s compelling and resilient speech in Belarusian accompanied by tranquil music that concludes one’s journey into the fall-consumed woods.

Overall, I believe Zaklon did a remarkable job with this release. Despite the tracks being rather lengthy, I did not feel one second of boredom because this album has several elements that eliminate the redundancy some black metal bands are stuck in. Moreover, a unique element of this release is that the lyrics are sung in the Belarusian language, which adds a local cultural element to the music and offers a differentiating factor to it. While the album contained plenty of Doom Metal elements, it still captured the essence of Black Metal in an efficient manner. The album artwork beautifully complements its music. A very impressive piece of Atmospheric Black Metal.


Listen to Nikoli through Possession Productions' Bandcamp player below:


Gothenburg legends At The Gates return with a brilliant video for the song Death and the Labyrinth from their long-awaited comeback album At War With Reality, which will be released on October 28th on Century Media Records. The video, directed by Patric Ullaeus of Revolver, was shot in the deserts of the US Southwest and features the band's vocalist Thomas Lindberg along with natural scenery shot almost entirely in black and white. The song itself heralds a powerful album that the fans have long been awaiting. Heavy, melodic, and aggressive, it's just skull-crushing. We're already excited about this album, and this video got us more stoked! 

Watch Death and the Labyrinth below!


Indian metal veterans Demonic Resurrection released a new music video for Death, Desolation And Despair off their latest album, The Demon King

Frontman Sahil 'Demonstealer' Makhija commented on the new video to Metality, "The video took a long time to release. The shooting was actually wrapped up fairly quick and though it was just a one day shoot it was grueling to say the least given the location for the shoot and the amount of smoke and heat. So we were actually finished shooting in June itself but then the edit took a while and given that we were on tour it made sense to release it when we got back from the UK. Futher developments lead to a little more delay but we're super happy with the way it turned out. Definitely made the wait worth it."

The Demon King is availaable worldwide on Candlelight Records and Universal Music.

Check out the new video below! 


In Flames, founded in 1991, are generally known for being one of the pioneers of Melodic Death Metal through their own style that is known as the “Gothenburg Sound”, in relation to their hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. They, along with other bands in the Gothenburg scene (most notably At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, and Soilwork), have either further developed this scene or transitioned into a totally different subgenre. In Flames are known for their extremely melodic riffs and menacing guitar solos, as well as the occasional use of keyboards and violins in their songs. With the recent transition of the band into a style unfamiliar to their fans with their new album, Siren Charms, which has received mixed reactions, we take a look at their top 5 underrated songs from previous albums.

“Black and White”, from Reroute to Remain (2002)

Typically considered as their “transitional album” from classic Melodic Death Metal into more of an alternative, modern sound, Reroute to Remain contains several of their most popular songs, including Cloud Connected and Trigger, both of which have produced music videos. Metaphor is also notable from this album among fans of In Flames for including Anders Friden’s clean vocals in the entire song along with epic movie-like drums and violins.

One song that perhaps didn’t garner much attention on this album is Black and White, the final track. It is generally an aggressive, heavy track compared to the rest of the album, and could somehow be the heaviest song on the album. The track begins with what sounds like a cassette tape being abruptly stopped during its playing. Daniel Svensson’s drumming is quite powerful in this track, as well as Anders’ growling vocals that are reminiscent of the previous album, Clayman. Then-guitarist Jesper Strömblad’s fast riffs add an even more bellicose tune to the song. The solo towards the end is short, but also beautiful and suitable for the song. Ander’s clean vocals in the chorus also fit the song quite well. The rhythm of the song generally speeds up and slows down suddenly, which makes it an even more unique song on the album. Lyrically, the song focuses on personal contradictions and an inner conflict.

“Borders and Shading”, from Soundtrack to Your Escape (2004)

Further progressing away from their classic Melodic Death Metal roots, In Flames greatly adds the elements of keyboards and synthesizers in Soundtrack to your Escape. Songs from this album that have received wide admiration include My Sweet Shadow, The Quiet Place, Like You Better Dead, and Touch of Red, all of which have been made into music videos. Dead Alone and Evil in a Closet are also well-noted songs from the album.

However, Borders and Shading isn’t well-recognized on this album. The moderately-paced song packs a punch of catchy riffs, Anders’ screams and Korn-style clean vocals, as well as some nice synths in the background. Its lyrics are dark and appealing to the atmosphere of the album. The progression of the song is attractive in a sense that Strömblad’s heavy riffs kick in at the right moments, reminiscent of their earlier styles in Clayman and Colony. One beautiful thing about this song is Anders’ transition from clean vocals to piercing screams, reflecting the agony and longing portrayed in the lyrics.

“Bullet Ride”, from Clayman (2000)

One of In Flames’ most celebrated albums, Clayman is widely acclaimed by almost all In Flames fans. A set of powerful, melodic tunes that many in the metal community revere, this album contains classic In Flames hits like Clayman, Suburban Me, Only for the Weak, and Pinball Map. The latter two have been made into music videos. It is also considered by many to be In Flames’ last “true” Melodic Death Metal album, and perhaps one of the best.

A song that doesn’t really come to mind when mentioning Clayman is Bullet Ride, although it is the first track of the album. A rather slower-paced track compared to the rest of the album, this song includes aggressive, melodic guitar riffs that characterize In Flames’ style, as well as the significant primary use of Anders’ clean vocals coupled with his screams. An emotional song on a generally belligerent album, it vacillates between soft and heavy sounds, giving the song a gripping atmosphere of personal struggle and insanity.

“Everlost, Part I”, from Lunar Strain (1994)

In Flames’ debut album sounds quite different than the following releases, not only because of Mikael Stanne’s vocals instead of Anders’ but also because of the raw, churning guitar sound that dominated this album. Classic Melodic Death Metal hits from this album include Upon an Oaken Throne, Behind Space, and Clad in ShadowsLunar Strain generally fits the description of a classic Melodic Death Metal album and the Gothenburg sound at a time when the genre was still nascent.

However, Everlost, Part I didn’t receive widespread acclaim like those aforementioned songs. The song has a unique sound to it that sets it apart from the rest of the album. The slow, raw, and doom-like character of the guitars on this song combined with Stanne’s aggressive, screaming black metal-type vocals create a powerful, melancholic tune that captivates the listener. The drumming is excellent and well-timed as well. Progression is also a notable characteristic with the slowing of the rhythm at certain points of the songs. The guitar solo towards the end of the song is beautiful, soulful, and raw though perhaps too short. Another key feature that defines this song is Stanne’s screams at the beginning and the end, plunging the song’s atmosphere into a harrowing chill. Acoustic guitar also plays at the end of the song, which heralds the start of the song’s more popular counterpart Everlost, Part II, which features female vocals and acoustic guitars in its entirety.

“Worlds within the Margin”, from Whoracle (1997)

An In Flames fans’ favorite, Whoracle is still considered one the band’s best-ever releases. Known for its rhythmic and highly melodic sound, this album presented well-known songs like Episode 666, Food for the Gods, Jotun, and a cover of Depeche Mode’s Everything Counts. The third album of In Flames registered generally well with their fans, new and old.

One song from this album that is quite underrated is Worlds within the Margin, a heavy track that clearly demonstrates Anders’ primal growls along with an epic atmosphere created by drums and keyboards. The riffs and chorus are quite catchy as well. The rhythm of this song is quite intriguing with its lyrics and progression. Lyrically, it does a good job in describing some sort of an apocalyptic event regarding the fall of human civilization. Every single aspect of this song is brilliant. A fast guitar solo performed by Strömblad makes it even more epic. Overall, it is a very impressive, headbang-inducing piece of music. 

By Habib Tabaja