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Best Metal Newcomers Of 2013 Explored: Part 3

For our 2013 year-end awards we included a category for best “newcomers” – those bands that released debut albums worth hearing.

To help get you acquainted with the best new talent releasing albums you may have missed, we’ll be looking at each of the bands nominated for the “best newcomer” category by our staff. Today, writer/reviewer CROMCarl covers Avatarium, Bane of Winterstorm, Artlantica, Heavatar, and the previously mentioned Gloryhammer. Here's what he had to say:

Avatarium

Just when you thought Leif Edling was done making Candlemass albums - relegating the epic doom pioneers to live duty only - the man goes and reinvents the genre again with the creation of Avatarium. Backed by powerhouse guitarist Marcus Jidell (Evergrey), drummer Lars Skold (Tiamat), and keyboarist Carl Westholm (Krux/ex-Candlemass), the band was bursting with talent and vast doom pedigrees.

All initial trepidation of how vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith would fare was cast aside on the album's first spin. Her haunting and gorgeous vocals showed as much immense power as it did frail honesty. The band laid waste to all doom that came before them with one of the best debut albums since Candlemass' "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus." The band was not only my top newcomer of the year, but came in second in my overall Top Albums of 2013 (see the review here).

Gloryhammer

Just as xFiruath mentioned in his Newcomers Explored article, Gloryhammer quickly stormed upon the power metal scene, virtually polarizing the genre's fans, with those giving utter love and absolutely hatred taking sides. There is no doubt that the level of cheese is so high, the Limburger seeps from the sides of the CD, but once you realize the it is humor from the mind of Alestorm's Chris Bowes, you quickly understand that this was the point (did you think a "unicorn invasion of Dundee" was serious?).

Taking all of the cheese aside...what Gloryhammer ended up doing was taking fantasy power metal and played it 10x better than the best of the genre. With ex-Emerald vocalist Thomas Lazlo Winkler at the helm as your hero Angus McFife, it is hard not to give in to the band's charm and unmistakable talent.

Bane of Winterstorm

Where Gloryhammer represents the fun side of the power metal genre, one of the most serious bands to come out of 2013 is Australia's Bane of Winterstorm. Mixing symphonic power with the occasional black metal screech, this young four piece burst out of the scene with the stunning debut "The Last Sons of Perylin." Formed in 2009 under the moniker Winterstorm, the band changed names in 2011 due to the volume of acts with the same name.

Mixing the pure excitement and symphonic speed of Rhapsody of Fire with elements of early Blind Guardian and adding soaring melodic choruses and phenomenally played riffs, the band is one of the strongest acts to come around in the last decade. With similar epic fantasy storylines to its previously mentioned mentors, the band represents euro style power metal for a new generation of musicians and fans alike. The album also featured the guest vocal appearance of Dragonland's Jonas Heidgert, which you can check out here:

Artlantica

Sure, there are newcomers that represent younger musicians that emerge on the scene, but then there are newcomers that rise to supergroup level, with veteran members sporting musical backgrounds that rival the greatest in the business. Guitarist Roger Staffelbach (Artension/Angel of Eden) joined forces with vocalist great John West (Emir Hot/ex-Artension/ex-Royal Hunt/ex-Badlands/ex-Lynch Mob), keyboardist Mistheria (Angel Of Eden/Rob Rock/Tommy Vitaly) and drummer of the universe John Macaluso (Mastercastle/ex-Riot/ex-Yngwie Malmsteen/ex-TNT/ex-Ark). Guest members Steve DiGiorgio on bass (Sadus/Testament), guitarist Chris Caffery (Savatage/Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and drummer Dani Löble (Helloween) filled out the massively impressive list.

With neo-classical power that nearly tops Yngwie Malmsteen, Artlantica's debut album is a dream for fans that love shredding guitar and one of the top notch vocalists ever (see review here). The album's opener "2012" was one of the best opening tracks ever on an album and topped my song list for 2013. Check out the album's title track here:

Heavatar

When Van Canto sprang upon the scene with its a Cappella power metal style, some fans scoffed at the idea of the absence of the one instrument that is the central core of metal....the guitar. If you pour over the band's back catalog, you can only salivate at the idea of what it might sound like with a the six string included. Though I differ, and find Van Canto's lack of "power" the most unique quality. The band puts the onus squarely on the vocals - which in this instance "plays" all the instruments but drums.

Enter Heavatar, created by Van Canto vocalist/vocal guitarist Stefan Schmidt - the answer to fans who sought that missing power. With six string firmly in the hands of Schmidt and Sebastian Scharf (ex-Fading Starlight) and Van Canto members relegated to being the greatest "background choir" in the history of metal. Heavatar is pure power metal combined infused with classical masterpieces of Bach and Beethoven. Filled out by bassist David Vogt (known by another name in some other "werewolf" band which will remain nameless) and the "retired" "drummer of all power metal" Jorg Michael, Heavatar powered through the competition to be one of the more exciting new bands of 2013. Check out "Replica" from the debut "Opus I - All My Kingdoms" belwo (and see rour eview here).

Looking for more new talent that came out in 2013? Check out yesterday's article covering Vista Chino, The Resistance, Raven Lord, Skan, and Lord Dying at this location.

CROMCarl's avatar

Carl Frederick is a staff writer for Metal Underground.com. From the early to mid-90's, Carl published his own fanzine called C.R.O.M. In 1997, he released a compilation entitled "CROM: The Resurrection of True Metal," which featured songs from bands from around the world, including the first U.S. release of any kind for bands like Italy's Rhapsody (n/k/a Rhapsody of Fire) and Brazil's Angra. Follow Carl on Facebook and Twitter: @CROMCarl.

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