THE LAST REIGN – Prelude EP

The Last Reign’s overall style and approach to metal is unmistakably Scandinavian. Taking hefty cues from Soilwork and In Flames, their sound has a constant push and pull between the pneumatic and aggressive sounds of hardcore metal while still clinging on to various melodic approaches that flaunt a shameless love of the past. Their second release, ‘Prelude’ is a stop-gap, but its three songs go a long way to showing off a superb band – one that really should be on the radar of almost all fans of Scandinavian metal sounds.

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ASTROSAUR – Obscuroscope

With a name like Astrosaur, you’d half expect this Norwegian trio to be a full on doom metal band. Appearances can deceive, of course, and their 2019 release ‘Obscuroscope’ is nothing of the sort. Its six pieces of music are lengthy and complex; there are elements of trippy space rock and a few stoner-ish tropes, but in the main, the release delves deep into a world of complex post rock and post/progressive metal sounds that should appeal to prog fans who like things at the heavier end of the scale.

The public perceives metal and academia as rivals” reads the Astrosaur website, somewhat pompously. Whether that’s true of not, at least half of their second album would’ve benefit from far less musical academia and far more actual tunes. With Astrosaur’s brand of prog, it really is all about the flashy self-indulgence…and for anyone whom isn’t actually a musician, this works hugely towards the album’s detriment.

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DIG DEEPER – In Central European Time

Taking cues from late 60s psych and various trippy Americana bands from more recent times, Norway’s Dig Deeper are a curious hybrid of Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Pink Floyd, Richmond Fontaine and a half remembered garage band from eons past. ‘In Central European Time’, the band’s third full length release, often plays like a dark road movie for the head and should appeal to fans of the aforementioned, possibly even those familiar with fellow Scandinavians The Bloakes, Trevor & The Joneses and King Black Acid.

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EMPTYBROOK – Emptybrook EP

Summer in Finland is short. Very short, apparently. Maybe that’s why this band have chosen a moniker that at once conjures images of nature, only to couple the pastoral visions with the idea of something lacking. There’s no babbling brook here, no salmon leaping…just emptiness. It’s the near perfect choice of name as it turns out, as an empty brook suggests dashing hopes. Maybe it’s those dashed hopes that have made these four Finns so scathing, since Emptybrook’s music attacks with a scowl, a hardened vocal and an echoing reverb that’s deeply unnerving.

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