Happy weekend, everyone! You might remember that a couple of weeks ago, I accidentally pulled a bunch of American bands from the Overdrive to-be-reviewed pile and ran with it as a column theme. This week, we’re going to balance that out with a bunch of albums from around the world of metal. Grab your passport and let’s dive in!

Cóndor – El Valle del Cóndor

First up, from Colombia, is the latest release from death-doom metallers Cóndor. El Valle del Cóndor is a charmingly raw doom record, eschewing polish in favor of a rougher sound reminiscent of older metal albums and demos. The result is a mix of desert rock and doom metal with a folky edge. The songwriting and playing on this album isn’t as focused as many metalheads will be used to – the latter half of the album is dotted with longer, meandering melodic passages, including one passage in “Cabeza de buitre” that plays with the guitar tone and feedback for the latter half of the song. It’s long, but patient listeners will enjoy following along. Some of the guitar lines aren’t the sharpest either, and the odd weird note creeps into the shredding, but overall the music is tight enough that these moments give El Valle del Cóndor a charming, rough-around-the-edges feel, rather than a sloppy one. Overall, El Valle del Cóndor is a great lazy-afternoon album for when you just want to lie around and rock out.
El Valle del Cóndor came out September 26, 2018. You can check it out HERE.

In Twilight’s Embrace – Lawa

Our second album this week is from Polish black metallers In Twilight’s Embrace. Their latest release, Lawa, is a homage to death and the spirit of their native country. Fittingly, the band channels this spirit through a pounding meld of death and black metal. Lawa has a palpable enthusiasm for its’ subject matter, partially carried through the uptemp riffs, but mostly conveyed by the savagery of Cyprian Łakomy’s ferocious vocals. Łakomy commands a broad range of growls and shrieks to great effect here. The riffs are heavy, and the music is cohesive while pulling from a broad range of death and black metal influences. The production is crisp and fitting given the band’s melodeath roots, though it’s maybe a little too clean and sterile for such primal subject matter. I’d recommend checking out the whole thing, but definitely start with album opener “Zaklęcie” (especially, if, like me, you’re still way too excited about bands like Batushka). From there, Lawa is a fantastic ride through some of the best black metal Poland has to offer.
Lawa was released November 1, 2018 via Left Hand Sounds. You can check it out HERE.

Iron Lamb – Blue Haze

Our last stop is Sweden, where heavy rock-and-roll band Iron Lamb have just dropped their most recent album, Blue Haze. Right away, opener “Apocalypse Express” grabs the listener’s attention with the simple-yet-trippy opening riff before dropping into a banger of a track. Blue Haze is a heavier album than you might guess from that name, with a lot of NWOBHM influences in guitarists Johan Wallin and Jens Bäckelin’s riffs and solos. These guys aren’t confined to only one style however, and their songs are loaded with little flashes of punk, thrash metal, and old-school rock and roll. Put it all together and you have a fun rock and roll album with enough musical twists and turns to keep the audience nodding along.
Blue Haze was released October 26, 2018 via The Sign Records. You can check it out HERE.

Now I’m off to wash down the week with some alcohol. See you back here next week!