Looking back on 2023

Looking back on 2023 means looking back to the past year and that is quite a tradition, not only for us at Obscuro.eu, but for more or less every human being. We have already read so many résumés and so might have you, but here are our personal musical summaries 2023. First let’s read the report of our flock keeper and flashy finger Muumi-Katja:


I haven’t covered that much so that pretty much every event made a highlight.


Behind the scenes with Turmion Kätilöt and Bloodred Hourglass in Berlin was unforgettable and the show a remarkable success for both bands as Berlin is known to be very tough nut. All the more, I am looking forward for their future touring activities outside of Finland.

The perhaps coolest event might have been the finissage of Der harte Norden at the Nordic Embassies in Berlin. It underlined that metal has achieved acknowledgement from feuilleton readers. A subculture with a reputation of violence and aggression – the role of which is entirely misunderstood though – has made it into the heart serious art and thus proven its integrative nature.

Another emotional highlight to me was the tour stop of Wolfheart, Before The Dawn and Hinayana in the Futurum club in Prague in November. It was an adrenalin peak lasting over several hours as the Prague crowd made it such an insane party. The thrilling atmosphere fuelled the musicians and those again the crowd. Eruptive.

I feel the need to mention Ignea here, too although I have not experienced them yet. But my spouse did. He went to see his teenage heroes from Fear Factory but Ignea made his day. Unexpected great performance and music. – There is no better to reason to really attend gigs. Surprises and experiences of this kind can only happen on gigs.


Both festivals I attended this summer were amazing. I do love small festivals especially those taking place in the countryside. The intimacy, to be able to get to every point of interest of the festival weekend within a few minutes, fair pricing – I just love that.

The M.I.S.E Open Air festival in early June is a gem. As usually, there were hardly bands I really knew before. But there are four bands that have made it into my heart: Lutharo delivered not only a great show but also made it into everybody’s heart. After their show you could overhear 1000 times that no one knew them before but loves them now. Hiraes have a most charismatic vocalist. However, the most unforgettable show certainly delivered Nanowar Of Steel. Long live irony! The best performance among the headliners definitely came from Benediction. I frankly admit I could listen to Dave Ingram’s voice and accent for endless hours even if he read out loud only a dictionary.

The Dark River Festival is my favourite festival. Taking place in Finland, naturally many Finnish bands play that we would only rarely see on central European stages. Least known here among those are perhaps Psychework although if it was only to experience their vocalist Anthony Parviainen it was worth any while. My friends from Mors Subita also delivered an energetic and thrilling show. They played some tracks from the lately released new album which the crowd loved. Although Mika supposed it would contain too much fast songs for my liking, I find it more diverse and versatile.

There is always more to it than you can catch on a quick spin. Another Finnish band seen by far too rarely outside of Finland is Stam1na. In more than 25 years of band history they have never slowed down in their energy wasting performance. Like Mors Subita, they are a band combining ethics with pure metal emotionality. The DRF 23 came with some more brilliant highlights. SAOR played captivatingly meditational material which war perfect to recharge my batteries and then there were Be’Lakor who played their first ever gig in Finland. That was a big party to everybody. 


Finally, there is one album, I’d like to push. Mielenvalta by Kaunis Kuolematon is ground-breaking on their own standards but also a fine example of out-of-the-box thinking. Music is emotion and only on this level you can really experience this album. Some conditions, emotions or experiences are not meant to be translated into metal yet essentially require a metal setting to shine. Kaunis Kuolematon began on a rather doomy side of melodeath and pushed their own boundaries far into any directions, extremes such as black metal as well as soft even pop, only to weave it all to an extremely intense audio experience.

That was a quite high quality and interesting selection. The message seems to be clear: More doesn’t always mean better. Now let’s have a look what our nerditor Royal Blunt thinks about 2023:

Royal Blunt

After more than five years of covering heavy metal for webzines, I feel less and less disposed to keep up with all hot releases.


This year I’ve focused on what I enjoy and on what interests me, but of course there are bands that I’m not just going to ignore. It seems to me that this year has been good for death metal: we got good releases Suffocation, Cryptopsy, Dying Fetus, Obituary, Cattle Decapitation, Incantation, Vomitory or Rotten Sound. Deathcore legends Suicide Silenece came with a really strong release this year. It really scratches the itch of a listener who likes the good old brutal early deathcore sound. I personally listened to a lot of black metal, but not many new releases. I did check out the new Panopticon record, and I also listened to a new LP by the Singaporean band Welkin, which I was lucky to see live in Taipei.

Asian bands

Speaking about Asian bands, covering and discovering them has kind of been my focus lately, you can check out my list of best East/Southeast Asian bands that I wrote for Obscuro. I would like to highlight new releases from Kruelty, Parasitario and Emasculate Vituperation, since those are the ones that I’ve listened to the most. As for more melodic or accessible hard music I was happy about the new Sylosis album. Very catchy and high-energy stuff. Also the Slovak epic heavy/doom metal band Malokarpatan is back with a new album. Don’t miss it if you like more traditional metal.

My top songs would be: Bring Me the Horizon – “Lost”, Yungblud ft Oli Sykes – “Happier”, Spiritbox – “Jaded”, Bilmuri – “All Gas” and Sylosis – “Deadwood”. Yeah, not very metal, but that’s what I choose to listen to when I just want to jam out to a song.


One important album, in my opinion, that came out this year was Dødheimsgard’s “Black Medium Current”. It’s a very strong album from one of the original 90s Norwegian black metal bands. Their sound went into a more progressive direction with time, but they’re still sticking to their black metal roots. This one is an album that will demand more of your attention than the average party metal release, but the payoff is worth it. As I wrote in my review:

‘Black Medium Current’ is a very strong offering – both with regard to songwriting and execution – by Dødheimsgard. It is great to see the band consistently putting out great music even after almost thirty years of existence. It can be a bit much to take in at a first listen, however, repeated listens are rewarding – which is kind of what prog-metal music-nerds who write and read reviews like this seek anyway… So kick back and dive into this monumental piece of blackened/progressive metal art.”


As for shows, it’s been slim pickings for me this year. Taiwan, where I currently live, doesn’t have any multi-day metal festivals. I was happy to see that Taipei had a proper black metal event (Taipei Black Order Propaganda) after many years of no black metal concerts here. The only real metal festival is a club event called Taiwan Deathfest which I go to every year. I’m glad to see that the festival keeps growing and getting better every year, both in terms of participation and line-up.

I’ve attended Asakusa Deathfest in Tokyo, which was very cool, but I went only for two days out of five, which isn’t enough to write a proper report about it. I wrote one about a cool metalcore event called Shockwave that took place in spring though. You can read my piece which includes some observations about the Taiwanese scene which the reader might find interesting.

So far so good. It is always interesting to read how Royal Blunt keeps up with the times and his priorities, even though he lives on the other side of the world from the rest of us. Well, now it is my turn, nerditor Friend.X aka Mr Deep:

Friend.X aka Mr. Deep

I had a pretty productive year, but I chose well which concert to go to, which album to review and which festival to cover. Some texts were pure writing exercises, others were pure pleasure. But here are my highlights, and while I may have written the most articles this year, my summary will be shorter.

Highlights of the year

I have to go back to Ignea, already mentioned by Muumi-Katja, getting to know this Ukrainian gem of a metal band with their fantastic singer Helle Bohdanova was a real highlight for me and led to review, interview, concert and finally meeting the band in person before and after the show.

Another highlight was seeing Seven Spires live at the beginning of the year. It’s a band from Boston that I’ve been following since their first songs and have been hoping for years that they would tour Europe and Germany.

My personal concert highlight was the, not just a concert, release party for the new Fire Rose album “Blood On Your Hands” in September. It was really a party with friends among friends, not just a concert.

The success of my favourite bands, Lord Of The Lost, has been amazing, their album “Blood and Glitter” went to No.1 in the German album charts straight after release, they have performed in Germany and at the ESC, they have toured with Iron Maiden again and their own tour was sold out. Well deserved.


But there is more, my festival highlight was the rather small Rock & Metal Day’z in Oschersleben. It is a charity festival for children and their parents in need. I spent a whole week there, physically helping to build up the festival infrastructure from scratch. What an experience! There my personal highlight was the performance of April Art. And I should not forget to mention the Rockharz Festival of course with its fantastic line-up including ESC-participants Lord Of The Lost..


Of the albums I reviewed in 2023 my highlights were of course Ignea’s „Dreams Of Lands Unseen“ and Fire Rose‘ „Blood On Your Hands“ but also the releases of Skalmöld‘s „Ýdalir“ and The Hellfreaks„Pitch Black Sunset“.

Looking forward

Looking back on 2023 also means looking forward to 2024 and I have already scheduled the first album review, Wanted Inc. „Dead For The First Time“ early the year and first concert visits so I guess, I won’t be less busy.

That’s it, the summaries of the three of us. Sure, we could have written more or maybe less. But we didn’t. What we did was helping to keep metal music and the metal scene alive. We are proud of this kind of “family” and so should be you. For good reasons I close with the chorus of Judas Priest’s „United“:

„United, united, united we stand

United we never shall fall

United, united, united we stand

United we stand one and all“



Please buy merch and physical music or downloads  from the bands official sources and don’t stream music for free because it steals your artists’ income

proof reading by DeepL, thanks to Muumi-Katja and Royal Blunt for their input


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