Album Review – Mondoscuro / Mondoscuro EP (2016)

Enter the exciting dark world newly created by Italian legendary bands Cadaveria and Necrodeath, and your life will never be the same again.

Rating4

mondoscuro_coverartworkMore than just a regular split album, what you’ll find in the special release entitled Mondoscuro (the fusion of the Italian words “mondo” and “oscuro”, meaning “dark world”) is a fresh and vibrant cooperation between two legendary bands from the Italian metal scene, those being Biella-based Gothic/Horror Metal act Cadaveria and Genoa’s own Black/Thrash Metal squad Necrodeath. Our stunning diva Raffaella Rivarolo, commonly known as Cadaveria, has defined this unique project as “a blood pact between two diabolic entities that will give life to a new irreligious and obscure soul”, while Alberto Gaggiotti, known as Necrodeath’s frontman Flegias and also as Cadaveria’s drummer Marçelo Santos, also defined this collaboration between these iconic bands as “a pact between these entities, which has been haunting us for some time, and now the time has come to exorcise it, entering together in the same studio.” Based on the hellish words by both Cadaveria and Flegias, you can have a very good idea of what you’ll find in Mondoscuro.

The creepy artwork by Italian artist Paolo Perrotta Mazza is a precise depiction of the dark world crafted by Cadaveria and Necrodeath, portraying a mutilated woman with her throat slit and a dead fetus hanging from her stomach. Nothing could better represent the fusion of Black, Death, Gothic and Horror Metal than that, a diabolic combination of different subgenres of extreme music brought forth by two of the most important groups of the Italian underground scene. Furthermore, the way this amalgamation of evil is presented to the listener also deserves our attention, as the bands invert their roles, playing each other’s classics, firing brand new material composed together and paying a tribute to some of their favorite artists, all wrapped up in around 30 minutes of high-quality music emanating professionalism and passion for what they do. What else can you ask for in a heavy music album?

bandpicturecadaveria

Cadaveria

This devilish masquerade ball kicks off with Cadaveria playing Necrodeath’s sonic havoc Mater Tenebrarum, from their 1987 album Into the Macabre (check the original version HERE). There was absolutely no doubt this version was going to sound darkly delicious, with Cadaveria firing her trademark demonic gnarls blended with ominous clean parts after the song’s  somber intro. Not only this song presents a wilder and more metallic side of Cadaveria, but the epic operatic ending (from Keith Emerson’s Inferno outro) features some very special guests including the multi-talented Lindsay Schoolcraft (Cradle of Filth, Schoolcraft, The Astroplex). Then it’s Necordeath’s turn to provide their view of Cadaveria’s Spell, from their 2002 album The Shadows’ Madame (listen to the original version HERE), sounding as infernal as possible. Flegias does a great job on vocals, turning the original song into a more hellish tune, as well as guitarist Pier with his old school Thrash Metal attack through the sound blasted from his six-stringed ax.

The second act brings forward two brand new songs by Cadaveria and Necrodeath, starting with Dominion of Pain, where Dark and Black Metal are united by the demonic vocal duo of Cadaveria and Flegias, who together blast the song’s psychological words flawlessly (“Overtaking the boundaries of consciousness / Dominating the fevers of pain / Exorcising all fears with the violence of truth / Dissipating the ashes of uncertainty.”). In addition to that, Marçelo Santos (or Flegias, if you prefer) does a very good job with his rhythmic beats, with the last piece of the song offering that type of sluggish and somber Doom Metal powerfully blasted by bands like Cadaveria and My Dying Bride. Rise Above, a wicked marriage of Thrash and Gothic Metal fired by Necrodeath with guest vocalist Cadaveria and guitarist Dick Laurent, showcases truly Stygian lyrics (“I found your name trace in the ancient Book of Shadows / I felt your strength inside the circle of a spell / I want reality obey your dark commands / My soul is troubled by indomitable sensations.”) and a fiery Peso providing his share of aggressiveness and harmony to the musicality through his bestial drums. Moreover, its chorus couldn’t sound more old school, highly inspired by the darkest and most macabre metal music from the 80’s.

bandpicturenecrodeath

Necrodeath

The last duo of compositions are in fact cover versions for two of the most important bands in the history of music, American Gothic/Doom Metal band Type O Negative and the unparalleled The Beatles. Cadaveria is the first one to pay homage to Type O Negative through her outstanding version for Christian Woman (check the original version from the 1993 classic Bloody Kisses HERE), a powerful and passionate tribute to Peter Steele (R.I.P.) and his iconic band. Although it doesn’t beat the beauty of the original version for obvious reasons, the low-tuned obscure guitar lines by Dick Laurent and the devilish performance by Cadaveria deserve our humble recognition so amazing they are, all embraced by atmospheric keyboards and a lustful vampiric vibe. And closing this special album we have Necrodeath playing a thrashier-than-ever version of one of the biggest classics by The Beatles, Helter Skelter, from their 1968 cult album The White Album (see the difference from the original version HERE). In this eccentric version of an old school rock anthem, the whole band is on fire, especially Flegias with his deranged growls, turning what used to be just a fast-paced Rock N’ Roll song into a brutal mosh pit-generator.

If you think you have what it takes to survive this brand new dark world created by those two iconic bands from Italy, all you have to do is go check both Cadaveria’s and Necrodeath’s Facebook pages, and purchase your copy of the EP at Cadaveria’s official webshop or at the Black Tears’ webshop. But let me warn you that once you enter this “mondoscuro” built by Cadaveria and Necrodeath there’s no turning back, as you’ll be consumed by their vile and merciless extreme music, becoming a prisoner to their realm of darkness. To be fair, I guess that’s what you’ve always wanted to happen when the band in question is Cadaveria, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Mater Tenebrarum and Dominion of Pain.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Black Tears

Track listing  
1. Cadaveria – Mater Tenebrarum (Necrodeath cover feat. Lindsay Schoolcraft) 5:29
2. Necrodeath – Spell (Cadaveria cover) 5:14
3. Cadaveria – Dominion of Pain (feat. Flegias and Pier) 5:59
4. Necrodeath – Rise Above (feat. Cadaveria and Dick Laurent) 4:44
5. Cadaveria – Christian Woman (Type O Negative cover) 8:39
6. Necrodeath – Helter Skelter (The Beatles cover) 2:30

Band members
Cadaveria
Cadaveria – vocals
Dick Laurent – guitars
Peter Dayton – bass
Marçelo Santos – drums 

Necrodeath
Flegias – vocals
Pier Gonella – guitars
GL – bass
Peso – drums

Guest musicians
Lindsay Schoolcraft – lead lyric soprano on “Mater Tenebrarum” (Keith Emerson’s “Inferno” outro)
Tiziana Ravetti – dramatic soprano on “Mater Tenebrarum” (Keith Emerson’s “Inferno” outro)
Cristiano Caldera – tenor on “Mater Tenebrarum” (Keith Emerson’s “Inferno” outro)
Ignis Forasdomine – organist on “Mater Tenebrarum” (Keith Emerson’s “Inferno” outro)

Album Review – Charred Walls Of The Damned / Creatures Watching Over the Dead (2016)

A magnificent lecture in Heavy Metal by four high-skilled electrified beasts who need absolutely no introduction.

Rating2

coverSome people call American Heavy Metal band Charred Walls Of The Damned a “supergroup”, but in my opinion they’re a lot more than that. Formed in 2009 by the immensely talented drummer Richard Christy (Death, Control Denied, Iced Earth) after a five-year absence from the metal scene since leaving Iced Earth and joining The Howard Stern Show in 2004, and having the one and only Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Beyond Fear, Winter’s Bane, Dio Disciples) on vocals, Jason Suecof (special guest musician and producer for Death Angel, Trivium, Kataklysm, Chimaira, DevilDriver and tons of other amazing bands) on guitar, and Steve Digiorgio (Testament, Control Denied, Death, Iced Earth, Sebastian Bach) on bass, Charred Walls Of The Damned go beyond the boundaries of almost all known “supergroups”, being an already established named in the world of heavy music and always delivering first-class material to metalheads all over the world.

If you have never heard their first two releases (their self-titled masterpiece Charred Walls of the Damned, from 2010, and Cold Winds on Timeless Days, from 2011), don’t waste any more time and go after them because those albums are definitely worth a shot, especially for fans of a high level intricacy together with sheer heaviness in music. And now, after almost five years waiting for more of the vigorous music by Charred Walls Of The Damned, Mr. Christy and his henchmen are finally back with another lecture in Heavy Metal entitled Creatures Watching Over the Dead, the third installment (all of them with beautiful names, by the way) by this band that’s a synonym to classy Heavy Metal and, unarguably, one of the best supergroups of all time, if not the best as they are for this guy that writes to you right now.

As soon as the serene intro in the opening track My Eyes explodes into pure Heavy Metal, Ripper’s voice starts penetrating deep inside your mind while the flawless beats by Richard crush your soul, proving how incredible this duo always sounds. We’re treated to the right amount of complexity and progressiveness in this outstanding composition, and don’t forget to check Richard’s drum demonstration for this song as it’s simply awesome. The Soulless, the first single of the album, has everything we love in traditional Heavy Metal. Fast and blazing guitars, a perfect drumming, rumbling bass lines and Ripper’s screams soaring as high as the sun make this demolishing fusion of Death, Thrash and modern Heavy Metal a newborn metallic classic, with its acid lyrics criticizing what’s happening with many of us in our modern but extremely toxic society (“I see you tripping into this electric world / As your brain melts into glass / Thoughts focusing upon a dark screen of deceit / A life that’s paid in full and wallowing in grief / Stepping through the mindless threshold / Now amongst the soulless”). Moreover, I have no words to say how good the guitar solo by Mr. Suecof is, it really gives me goosebumps every single time I listen to it.

It’s time to enjoy the acoustic lines by Jason and the smoother-than-usual vocals by Ripper before their demonic side arises in the dark power ballad Afterlife, presenting a dense musicality where the thunderous bass by Steve perfectly complements the crisp beats by Richard; followed by the best song of the album in my humble opinion, As I Catch My Breath. Gripping, groovy, atmospheric, powerful and inspiring are only a few adjectives we can use to describe it, with all four band members having outstanding performances showcasing all their skills in this classy hymn. Furthermore, it’s quite impossible not to sing the chorus along with Ripper and the guys, unless you’re absolutely not into metal music, of course. Slightly similar to the musicality from “Afterlife”, Lies brings forward a solid and potent sounding with hints of Power Metal, enhancing the epic vibe of the song. It’s another tune tailored for Ripper to shine with his enraged vocals, also presenting a soulful guitar solo by Jason that puts a beautiful end to such an awesome composition.

cwotd-2016Do you like what Ripper did with Judas Priest and Beyond Fear? If your answer is yes, Reach into the Light will put a humongous smile on your face. Its rhythmic drumming and cutting riffs provide Ripper exactly what he needs to fire his old school high-pitched screams, with all breaks and variations adding more flavor to this bestial composition by this incredible quartet. It truly amuses me how they can sound extremely aggressive and very harmonious at the same time, which is the case in another one of my favorites, Tear Me Down, displaying some electrifying vocals and guitar lines while Richard continues to impress on drums. Put differently, they get the best elements from their musical backgrounds and careers, and easily transform that interesting mixture into high-end metal music.

I personally recommend Living in the Shadow of Yesterday for your road trip playlist due to its pleasant rhythm, not to mention how good the crystal clear sound of drums is, as well as the song’s mighty bass lines. In addition, despite minimal, the song’s backing vocals end up working extremely well, and I guess I don’t need to say how tuneful all riffs and solos by Jason sound. Finally, the last sonic strike by Charred Walls Of The Damned, Time Has Passed, is a lesson in bass guitar by Steve. His instrument sounds insanely heavy, slapping the listener in the face pretty hard with each note played, which only gets better when accompanied by Richard’s groovy and furious beats and fills. When the song was over after my first listen to the album, it left me craving more Charred Walls Of The Damned. Well, it’s just a matter of going back to the beginning of the album and savor all songs again and again (something I’ve been doing nonstop since the album’s official launch).

Although there are no live dates scheduled yet for Charred Walls Of The Damned, I’m certain a tour to promote Creatures Watching Over the Dead will happen soon, and I truly hope they add a few Canadian dates to that. When that happens, you might notice Jason and Steve won’t probably join Richard and Ripper due to their other duties, but that’s not a big deal as the live musicians for the band include the also awesome Dennis Hayes (bass) and John Comprix (guitar) from Beyond Fear, as well as Matt Sorg (guitar) from Shed the Skin (check the review for their kick-ass debut album Harrowing Faith by clicking HERE). While we wait for a Creatures Watching Over the Dead tour, you can enjoy the entire album at the Howard Stern’s official website, and obviously purchase your favorite version of it at the Metal Blade Records’ website. More than just a metal album, Creatures Watching Over the Dead is a magnificent lecture in Heavy Metal by four high-skilled electrified musicians who need absolutely no introduction if you live and breathe heavy music.

Best moments of the album: The Soulless, As I Catch My Breath, Reach into the Light and Tear Me Down.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Metal Blade Records

Track listing
1. My Eyes 4:30
2. The Soulless 4:03
3. Afterlife 2:53
4. As I Catch My Breath 5:03
5. Lies 3:31
6. Reach into the Light 2:39
7. Tear Me Down 3:50
8. Living in the Shadow of Yesterday 3:36
9. Time Has Passed 3:16

Band members
Tim “Ripper” Owens – vocals
Jason Suecof – guitar
Steve Digiorgio – bass
Richard Christy – drums

Album Review – The Astroplex / The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar (2016)

In the distant world of Azhul’Tar, who will reign supreme in the battle between the young and brave Satis and the tyrannical emperor Zarkhonn? Only this excellent Canadian band can answer you that through their cinematic blend of Melodic Death and Black Metal.

Rating4

the-astroplex_artwork“Way beyond our stars, lies a world in ruins. Kingdoms where people are left fighting over basic needs. Independent groups of space explorers, named Travelers, are hired to look for such resources throughout the different planetary systems.

One band of Travelers, led by the young Satis, has struggled for years to find such scarce goods. Flying an old war vessel, the Astroplex, Captain Satis and her crew are about to see their fates changed.

A monumental event that will take its toll throughout the entire galaxy…”

Deeply rooted into science fiction soundtracks from the 80’s such as the masterpieces Alien, Blade Runner and Terminator, creating a cinematic blend of that vintage sound with contemporary extreme music, Canadian Modern Melodic Death/Black Metal act The Astroplex will take you on an exciting journey to a world far, far away in their debut full-length album The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar. From the opening credits to its climatic ending, The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar tells a compelling and epic post-apocalyptic story of survival and death, all embraced by high-end metal music.

Born inside the minds of two former band mates in 2014, Herr Nox (lead singer, lyricist, keyboardist, graphic designer and instrumental composer for the project) and Commander John Steele (guitarist, bassist, drummer and the one responsible for the background story in The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar), The Astroplex aim at blurring the line between science fiction and heavy music, bringing forward a fresh and exciting experience to the listener. As the third member of the project we have the charming Lindsay Schoolcraft, keyboardist for British Extreme Metal titans Cradle of Filth, who beautifully portrays the story’s main character Satis and, consequently, makes you more and more attracted to the events happening in the distant world where the story takes place.

Just like in any good sci-fi movie, The Astroplex provide us all the Opening Credits, an instrumental intro from outer space (sounding like the iconic Terminator theme at times) informing the journey is about to begin, before Prophecy explodes into a modernized version of Melodic Death Metal led by the bestial growls by Herr Nox. At this point, the story already starts to take shape and form (“The world is changing / The suns are rising / Light fills the empty ship / Darkness is gone / There may be hope, there may be One / Time is running out / Life is running short / ‘Tis Azhul’Tar that you’ll behold”), and the music itself couldn’t sound more perfect for the whole concept proposed by the band.

In the atmospheric instrumental track Travelers, our brave captain Satis leads her crew in pursuit of a spacecraft named Xenova-2, guiding the listener to A Dying World, with additional elements from Groove and Progressive Metal giving the song more stamina and heaviness. Herr Nox has a precise performance, blasting some deep guttural vocals while the guitar riffs by Commander John Steele pierce your brain until the song’s ferocious ending. Modernity blended with old school Death Metal is offered once again by the band in The Red Emperor, where Commander John Steele and the stunning Lindsay beautifully craft the futuristic ambience needed for Herr Nox to tell the story through their magnificent guitar riffs and solos, potent beats and operatic backing vocals, turning this into one of the best compositions of the entire album.

the-astroplexVa’Hel (The Prison Moon) is another sci-fi movie-inspired instrumental track that shows us Satis became a prisoner to Zarkhonn (also known as the Red Emperor, ruler of Azhul’Tar and its three moons, master of the Life Stream, to the people of Earth), an exotic voyage through space and time in the form of music with highlights to the crisp sound of its keyboards and synths; whereas the epic and gripping composition The Rise and Fall of Satis presents a melodic approach of Extreme Metal with the exciting guitar lines by Commander John Steele guiding the musicality, while Herr Nox continues to translate the world of Azhul’Tar into words.

And as the story advances to its ending, we have Battle for Azhul’Tar, another epic hymn where you can feel the agony and pain of all characters of the story being told and the perfect soundtrack for an intergalactic war, with its lyrics depicting the brutal devastation caused by this sanguinary battle (“The sky is burning, bombs are droping / Lazers blazing, who’ll get out of here alive / Such suffering, greed is causing / People dying, who will see the next sunrise”). Moreover, Commander John Steele lets his beast arise through his Black Metal-ish blast beats and sick guitar solo, only making things even more exciting. Lastly, the cinematic outro The Heir (End Credits), highly inspired by classics such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner and many others, leaves us questioning what will happen next to the newly crowned empress Satis, to the fallen emperor Zarkhonn and to the entire world of Azhul’Tar. If this will become a trilogy, only time will tell.

While we all wait for the next episode of such metallic saga (if it happens, of course), you can go check The Astrpolex’s Facebook page, YouTube channel (where you can listen to The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar in its entirety) and SoundCloud page to know more about the band, their music and their plans for the future. You can also buy this movie in the form of heavy music through their BandCamp page, and if you don’t do that, well, I have a special message from Zarkhonn himself (wherever he is now) telling you what he will do to you in case you “forget” to buy your copy of The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar. He seems to be a very reasonable guy, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: Prophecy, The Red Emperor and Battle for Azhul’Tar.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing 
1. Opening Credits (instrumental) 1:53
2. Prophecy 4:29
3. Travelers (instrumental) 0:56
4. A Dying World 5:17
5. The Red Emperor 5:51
6. Va’Hel (The Prison Moon) (instrumental) 4:00
7. The Rise and Fall of Satis 6:14
8. Battle for Azhul’Tar 6:11
9. The Heir (End Credits) (instrumental) 3:26

Band members
Herr Nox – male vocals, synthesizers
Commander John Steele – guitars, bass, drums, additional synthesizers
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals and voices

Album Review – Age of Atlas / Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. (2016)

Just hit play and enjoy a feast of heavy, catchy and groovy compositions, brought forth by four promising British musicians who are constantly challenging themselves and pushing the boundaries of progressive music.

Rating4

album-cover-frontIf you have never visited Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, a city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, you’re missing all the vitality and distinctiveness of the city’s culture and heritage. For instance, you can go check their Humber Mouth literature festival, the annual Hull Jazz Festival, as well as several other exhibitions, theaters and concerts. Such cultural richness could only translate into amazing heavy music, which is exactly the case with Alternative Rock/Metal band Age of Atlas, who are releasing their first full-length album entitled Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., following on from their debut EP The Scale of Things to Come, from 2014.

With Peter Measures on vocals, Mikey Scott on drums and the two nearly identical twins Keelan and Kye Beavers on guitar and bass, respectively (which is probably the main reason why they are in perfect synchronicity at all times), this very technical Hull-based group formed in the year of 2012 is highly recommended for fans of the progressive heavy music played by Coheed and Cambria and Tides of Man, among many other distinct bands. Self-recorded at Mikey’s own studio Fruit Trade Music and featuring a beautiful artwork by James Fenwick Illustration, Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. epitomizes everything Age of Atlas are today in a feast of gripping riffs, stunning breaks and poetic vocal lines, obviously pointing to an absolutely bright future that lies ahead for this talented quartet.

The progressive and sharp opening track Sleight Of Hand Of Glory already offers the listener a taste of what Age of Atlas are capable of, with its alternative and psychedelic intro being boosted by the metallic bass lines by Kye before lead singer Peter Measures starts firing his modern poetry (“The thunder in your tongue finger lisps the blood from the thumb / Your hunter handed stitching yearns and breaks and comes undone”), not to mention the elements of Blues and Jazz added to the musicality which end up expanding its range even more. And that’s only the beginning, as the punchy riffs by Keelan and the roaring drums by Mikey steal the show in Natural Sciences, a hybrid of Dream Theater and Gojira with a Hard Rock twist. Despite being considerably heavy for many average radio listeners, I’m more than sure this electrifying tune could still be played at any rock n’ roll radio station in the world and become an instant hit. While that doesn’t happen, you can keep enjoying the intricacy provided by Kye on bass and the spot-on guitar solos by Keelan in For The Feast That Follows, some sort of “controlled craziness” that works really well from start ot finish, bringing pure awesomeness to our ears.

Presenting a modernized ambience, Father Of The Fear Of Falling is a soulful and technical composition where the complexity provide by Mikey on drums flawlessly supports the alternating moments of melodious softness and headbanging riffs found throughout the entire music; while Echoes Of Empire, presenting even more tempo changes and a passionate performance by Peter on vocals, is another sonic experiment for fans of Progressive Metal, with its backing vocals adding an extra touch of liveliness to the song. In The Brackening, highly influenced by Groove Metal but still having Progressive Rock as its core element, pay good attention to the “battle” between brothers Keelan and Kye with their unstoppable stringed weapons while Peter continues to blast his fiery vocal lines. An in Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance the band presents a more mainstream approach through smooth and progressive Hard Rock lines. This can be considered the most generic (or least innovative) of all tracks, albeit being well-crafted and offering a solid performance by Peter supported by the song’s background keyboards.

pic1Background electronic effects, rumbling bass lines and a headbanging rhythm make listening to the excellent Ambering a very positive experience, displaying even hints of pop music in certain moments. Furthermore, the last piece of the song is one of those progressive journeys loved by fans of the genre, which should sound incredible if played live. Then we have Needer, sounding heavier and sharper at first, but getting back to the band’s harmonious experimentations. Needless to say how bass and drums get inside your head and shake your brain in a good way, another remarkable characteristic of the music by Age of Atlas. And the icing on the cake comes in the form of an almost 7-minute aria of progressiveness named Gyromancer: it doesn’t matter if you prefer heavier and crazier sounds or a more serene complexity, the band brings forward all variations of Progressive Metal and Rock in this powerful tune, and the final result will certainly electrify the rest of your day.

As any other creative progressive band, Age of Atlas do not settle down at all and are already working on writing and refining new material for a follow up second album. While we wait for the next chapter in their promising career, let’s visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud to know more about the band and to enjoy more of their music. And as an early Christmas gift (and to show how nice the citizens of Hull are), Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. is available as a free download for fans who sign up to the band’s mailing list (which you can do by clicking HERE). “We’ll always try and push ourselves in new ways and writing new material, working on new songs, is the most enjoyable way of challenging ourselves.” says vocalist Peter, and we must all agree that as long as they keep challenging themselves and releasing albums like Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., the future of progressive and groovy music looks more than good not only for Kingston upon Hull, but for the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Sleight Of Hand Of Glory, Natural Sciences and The Brackening.

Worst moments of the album: Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing 
1. Sleight Of Hand Of Glory 4:26
2. Natural Sciences 3:06
3. For The Feast That Follows 3:49
4. Father Of The Fear Of Falling 3:43
5. Echoes Of Empire 4:08
6. The Brackening 5:28
7. Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance 4:37
8. Ambering 3:25
9. Needer 3:57
10. Gyromancer 6:52

Band members
Peter Measures – vocals
Keelan Beavers – guitar
Kye Beavers – bass
Mikey Scott – drums

Album Review – Axxen Conners / Nowhere to Escape Sins EP (2016)

And the calm and turquoise waters of Antalya will never be the same after the turmoil of extreme music generated by this up-and-coming masked duo from hell.

Rating5

album-coverThe Turkish city of Antalya, the country’s biggest international sea resort located on the Turkish Riviera and a gateway to Turkey’s southern Mediterranean region, known as the Turquoise Coast for its blue waters, is about to have its peaceful and breathtaking landscapes intensely disturbed by a wicked turmoil of extreme music crafted by a new dynamic duo known as Axxen Conners. If you’re planning on visiting the city anytime soon to enjoy its beaches and atmosphere, you better watch out because Axxen Conners might be hiding in the shadows just waiting to attack you when you least expect.

Formed in 2015 by the sinful outlaws Bilge Ozce (known as Serpent) and Serdar Evren (known as Croc), Axxen Conners somehow managed to turn all the usual inspiration that comes from a place like Antalya upside down. In other words, instead of playing any type of beach-like smooth music for teenage girls, they decided to join the dark side of music and fire a high-octane fusion of Progressive Black and Death Metal upon humanity. Hence, the result of their rebelliousness and passion for heavy music can be seen in Nowhere to Escape Sins, the technical and very enjoyable debut EP by this unstoppable masked duo of darkness.

And now, ladies and gentleman, get ready to dance with Serpent and Croc in the first of the three tracks of the EP, entitled Behind The Walls Of Primal Existence, where an atmospheric intro by guest keyboardist Brook gradually morphs into a metallic blend of Melodic Death, Black and Power Metal. While Serpent begins spilling his venomous gnarls, Croc focus on his harmonious and aggressive riffs and solos, bringing more balance to the overall result. The special musicality generated by Axxen Conners in this tune is what happens when progressiveness and obscurity meet in metal music, I should say.

_mg_9239Not only Serpent is Axxen Conners’ lead singer, but he’s also the drummer and bassist for the project, and as you’ll notice in the puissant and extremely belligerent Creator Became Absolute he simply loves to smash his drum set and his four-stringed low-tuned weapon. Flirting with contemporary Black Metal (especially its demonic aura and high-pitched demon growls), this devilish hymn showcases all the refined skills of the duo, sounding like an established full-bodied band even being two brand new guys from the independent scene. That alone deserves a lot of respect from us headbangers, no doubt about that.

In the third and last composition, beautifully named Cursed Messiah For Doomed Society, the guitar lines by Croc lean towards pure Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy with hints of Amon Amarth, resulting in a musicality absolutely opposed to what we call “mainstream”, which by the way is always a good thing in Extreme Metal. Moreover, the right amount of progressiveness led by Croc’s ominous synths and the beats and fills by Serpent are exactly what Serpent needs to vociferate the song’s lyrics, which as excpeted do not point to a happy ending (“Fuelled by fear / All living things will perish / The lost from the world above / have nowhere to escape sins / Feel the Hellish dreams / Death to those who stray from the path / hear the voice of dark destruction / your body  will rot in pain”).

I personally consider Nowhere to Escape Sins a debut way beyond expectations for Axxen Conners taking into account the limited resources Serpent and Croc have available for generating music in their homeland, and I’m curious to know what those masked metallers could offer the world of heavy music with proper support. Well, I just saw that they became part of the Butcher Records family, which means we now should patiently wait to see what surprises that will bring to us all and the impact that will have on their musicality. In the meantime, don’t forget to like their Facebook page, enjoy their music through their YouTube channel and on Spotify, and if possible purchase Nowhere to Escape Sins through their BandCamp page.

Best moments of the album: Creator Became Absolute.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing  
1. Behind The Walls Of Primal Existence 4:03
2. Creator Became Absolute 3:24
3. Cursed Messiah For Doomed Society 4:58

Band members
Serpent – vocals, bass, drums
Croc – guitars, synths, backing vocals

Guest musician
Brook – keyboards on “Behind The Walls Of Primal Existence”

Live musicians
Brook – keyboards
Oni – guitars
Todd – drums

Album Review – Shed the Skin / Harrowing Faith (2016)

Not only an amazing tribute to the life of American musician Tom Rojack (R.I.P.), but also a lesson in old school Death Metal by five skillful veterans.

Rating4

shed-the-skin-album-coverFormed in 2011 in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States by longtime friends Kyle Severn (drummer from Death Metal legends Incantation) and Matt Sorg (guitarist for Ringworm, Charred Walls of the Damned, Blood of Christ and Beyond Fear, among others) after playing together in a tribute to old school band Blood of Christ at a memorial show for their friend Tom Rojack, who passed away in 1997, Death Metal quintet Shed the Skin are unleashing upon the earth their highly anticipated debut full-length beast entitled Harrowing Faith, following their 2014 7” EP Rebirth Through Brimstone. More than just an album, Harrowing Faith is a statement that proves the fire of traditional and brutal Death Metal is far from being extinguished.

And let me tell you that the name of the band, inspired by the track also named “Shed the Skin” from Blood of Christ’s 1993 four-song promo cassette simply titled Promo ’93, perfectly illustrates what the music by this old school Satanic Death Metal horde will inflict in you. Featuring a gory artwork by James “Human Furnace” Bulloch (Ringworm), Harrowing Faith transpires violence and bloodshed, with each one of its 12 compositions offering the listener the talent and aggressiveness of the band’s five Death Metal veterans in a little less than 40 intense minutes.

The obscure and atmospheric intro Plasmic Flames can be considered the calm before the storm in Harrowing Faith, because when the metallic riffs by Matt ignite the mosh pit-generator Daimonic Adytum all hell breaks loose. Moreover, lead singer and guitarist Ash Thomas (FaithXtractor, Vladimirs, Acheron) vomits his deep guttural like a maniac beast, enhancing even more the impact of this excellent Death Metal devastation. Then we have the title-track Harrowing Faith, a brutal havoc played at full speed where Kyle is absolutely on fire, providing more fuel for Ash to thrive with his demonic gnarls. Albeit very technical, it’s still absolutely raw and dark just the way we love in Death Metal, especially the demented sound of guitars the likes of Cannibal Corpse.

shed-the-skin-bandBlackened bells tow in a sensational demonic intro for the next tune, Putrid and Pious, as fast and aggressive as the previous tunes. The growls by Ash get deeper and deeper, with the album’s outstanding production and hints of Doom Metal taking the song’s pugnacity to a whole new level. A somber ambience grows in obscurity in Unbound Revenant, once again venturing through the realms of Doom Metal, in special the slow and steady drumming by Kyle, being perfect for fans of extremely Stygian music. Right after that doomed exhibit, a sick guitar solo kicks off a two-minute feast of sheer Death Metal entitled Warband Under the Baphomet, with highlights to its amazing vibe, fierce beats and a superb job done by both guitarists Ash and Matt as well as bassist Ed Stephens (Ringworn, Vindicator, Charred Walls of the Damned) with their lacerating strings. And the band keeps the album at a very high level of quality with the deranged composition CSUM, where not only guitars and drums are in total sync, but the hints of progressiveness added amidst all savagery also increase the overall quality of such hostile chant.

In Alpha and Omega, guitar noises grow in intensity and are violently joined by all instruments, generating total madness in the form of high-end Death Metal for the delight of diehard fans of the genre; followed by Cambion, where Ash sounds like a demonic ogre on vocals. Furthermore, this song shows that Death Metal doesn’t need to be played at the speed of light to be awesome, being as heavy as hell due to its amazing riffs and bass lines. There’s still more destruction to come, starting with Inhuman Accretion, a solid composition with demented guitar solos and endless savagery where Kyle is a stone crusher on drums as usual. The last regular song of the album, named Innermost Sanctuary, is very melodic and keeps up with the rest of the album in heaviness, but sounding slightly generic compared to the other songs, with the piercing guitars by Ash and Matt being its best element, whereas the hellish outro Execration Divine, showcasing the Phantom of the Opera-inspired organ by Brian Boston and the demonic guitar lines by Ash and Matt, puts an end to this lesson in Death Metal.

If you’re not yet familiar with the works and projects by each of the five Death Metal war dogs behind Shed the Skin, I suggest you go check their Facebook page, and in case you want to purchase this scorching gem of extreme music called Harrowing Faith simply visit the band’s BandCamp page or the Hells Headbangers Records’ BandCamp page. Wherever Mr. Tom Rojack is, I’m certain he’s truly honored with the final result that Kyle, Matt & Co. achieved with Shed the Skin, a tribute to his life and to all things Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Harrowing Faith, Putrid and Pious and Warband Under the Baphomet.

Worst moments of the album: Innermost Sanctuary.

Released in 2016 Hells Headbangers Records

Track listing
1. Plasmic Flames 2:06
2. Daimonic Adytum 1:55
3. Harrowing Faith 3:10
4. Putrid and Pious 3:39
5. Unbound Revenant 4:05
6. Warband Under the Baphomet 2:01
7. CSUM 3:28
8. Alpha and Omega 4:44
9. Cambion 4:21
10. Inhuman Accretion 2:42
11. Innermost Sanctuary 4:04
12. Execration Divine 2:38

Band members
Ash Thomas – vocals, guitars
Matt Sorg – guitars
Ed Stephens – bass
Brian Boston – keyboards
Kyle Severn – drums

Album Review – Dystehist / Ad Divinvs Malvm Caro Factvm Est EP (2016)

And divine evil was made excellent music thanks to an up-and-coming Blackened Death Metal project hailing from the United States of America.

Rating5

dystehist-ad-divinvs-malvm-caro-factvm-est-coverFormed as a nameless experiment in 2011 by vocalist and writer Tzel (Tyranny Enthroned, Reject Christ), and after a few years of fluctuations, periodic hiatus, dissections and modifications, American Blackened Death Metal project Dystehist has finally reached its desired shape and form, culminating with the spawn of its debut EP this year entitled Ad Divinvs Malvm Caro Factvm Est, which would translate into English as “to divine evil made flesh”. Based on that name alone (and every time a band uses Latin to name their albums and songs) I guess you can have a very good idea of how devilish and heavy the music by Dystehist sounds, and if you’re a longtime fan of Extreme Metal you’ll surely have a good time enjoying the four visceral tracks found in this excellent album.

Hailing from the famous city of St. Louis, located in the state of Missouri, United States, Dystehist play what can be called “Luciferian Metal”, an artistic definition for their piercing blend of old school Black Metal with more contemporary Blackened Death Metal, or an evolution of extreme music that takes no prisoners and spreads vileness and blasphemy through each note played. Fans of Emperor, Behemoth and several other bands that are always pushing the boundaries of extreme music will instantly connect with Dystehist’s heaviness and thematic, not to mention the huge and auspicious room the band has for advancement taking into account this is just their first release ever despite already sounding like veterans.

The frist of the four songs, Avra Devolvat (or “aura unleashed”), brings forward the aggressiveness of Death Metal, in special the deep growls by Tzel, with the demonic approach of Black Metal, resulting in a well-balanced devastation perfect for slamming into the pit. In addition, its bestial but very technical drumming, together with the powerful performance by Cin with his guitar riffs and solos, ends up boosting the overall malignancy of the song. In Extasim Metv (“in the ecstasy of fear”) builds an instant bridge from the previous tune, with their blackened music growing in malice and profanity while Tzel gets extremely hostile, taking his growls to a deeper hellish level. Yet again, we witness a precise combination of technical Death Metal with the obscure sounding of Black Metal.

dystehist_logoAn ominous intro grows into an assault of Death Metal in Latria Vesani (“worship madness”), where it’s interesting to see the progressive elements added to the music, especially to drums, and when all instruments accelerate and get heavier the band reaches their most impactful sonority. Put differently, this is an amazing ode to darkness, or an excellent Extreme Metal composition full of breaks and variations for the delectation of all types of death and black metallers. Their last blast of Blackened Death Metal comes in the form of Mortvis Pax Ere (Avte Conqviescit), or “the peace of the dead (has been silenced)”, showcasing Tzel and Cin in total demonic sync, with Tzel’s desperate gnarls being effectively complemented by Cin’s demented guitar lines and the sharp bass lines by Ethom. Throughout the song’s almost nine minutes of hatred and despair, drums are played at times at the speed of light, alternating with more rhythmic beats and, consequently, generating an amazing and demolishing result in the end.

The devilish music by Dystheist can be better appreciated at their official Facebook page, and Ad Divinvs Malvm Caro Factvm Est can be purchased at their BandCamp page or at the Sepulchral Silence Records’ BandCamp page. It looks like the divine evil proposed by Dystehist was not only made flesh, but also excellent Blackened Death Metal music, and I can’t wait to see what Tzel and his horde will unleash upon humanity when their first full-length opus becomes a demonic reality.

Best moments of the album: Latria Vesani.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sepulchral Silence Records

Track listing 
1. Avra Devolvat 5:42
2. In Extasim Metv 5:47
3. Latria Vesani 7:15
4. Mortvis Pax Ere (Avte Conqviescit) 8:45

Band members
Tzel – vocals
Cin – lead and rhythm guitars, vocals
Ethom – bass (session)

Album Review – Forteresse / Thèmes pour la Rébellion (2016)

Métal Noir Québécois at its finest by the progenitors of the genre, enfolded by pure insurgency and a strong sense of patriotism.

Rating4

sp044One of my favorite expressions in heavy music is “Métal Noir Québécois”, not only because it sounds beautiful, but mainly due to the fact it truly represents the unity, patriotism and epicness of Extreme Metal hailing from “la belle province” of Quebec. That powerful designation was originated back in 2006 when Atmospheric Black Metal act Forteresse, formed that same year in Quebec City, released their debut album titled Métal Noir Québécois, and now ten years later this talented quartet  reinforces even more the concept they created with their fifth installment named Thèmes pour la Rébellion.

Singing (obviously in French) about the history of Quebec and its separatist movement, Forteresse continue their rebellious and vengeful path thoroughly built through the years within each of their releases, with Thèmes pour la Rébellion being a further step from their previous release, their 2011 album Crépuscule d’Octobre. If you love dark and dense sounds with a passionate and violent storyline behind them, this album will definitely blow your mind, and even if you’re not a huge connoisseur or admirer of Black Metal there’s still a lot to enjoy in all eight tracks from an album that, above all things, lives up to the recent but already distinguished legacy of Métal Noir Québécois.

The intro Aube De 1837 (“dawn of 1837”), inspired by the Rebellions of 1837, takes you into the battlefield, setting the tone to Spectre De La Rébellion (“spectrum of the rebellion”), emanating blast beats and an infernal atmosphere from its very first second, with Athros transpiring pure rebelliousness and anger through his harsh growls. Although it sounds like old school Black Metal at first, I believe we can call this Epic Black Metal due to its rising energy, its more melodious lines and its truly climatic ending. In the also dense Là où Nous Allons (“there where we are going”), guitarists Matrak and Moribund fire extreme aggression through their riffs and solos, while drummer Fiel accelerates his beats even more, generating the perfect background for the song’s belligerent lyrics (“Armez-vous de vos mousquets les plus fidèles / La charge sera brutale et sans pitié / La monnaie des cartes est inutile là où nous allons / À l’aube, le destin aura été scellé”). At this point of the album, you’ll be already able to realize all songs will be epic from start to finish, with no exceptions.

forteresse-2016aForteresse’s metallic artillery do not cool down in the slightly less destructive and more melodic Par la Bouche de Mes Canons (“through the mouth of my cannons”), with highlights to the amazing job done by Matrak and Moribond on guitars once again, while Athros keeps sending an insurgent message through his combative vociferations. In addition, you can sense the pain and anger growing towards the end of the song, which ends up working as a bridge to the magnificent Le Sang des Héros (“the blood of heroes”), where a wicked intro with a short narration explodes into sheer brutality. This is high-end Black Metal where Athros and Fiel unleash hell on earth, an intricate composition that fills the air with hatred and sorrow, with its nonstop electricity and endless pugnacity helping turn this into one of the best moments of the album (needless to say, I would love to witness them playing this song live).

The last part of the album begins with Forêt d’Automne (“autumn forest”), where traditional riffs continue to spread darkness whereas Fiel delivers more of his rhythmic and complex beats and fills, not to mention that, as the story advances, you’ll notice Athros gets more and more enraged on vocals. Vespérales (“vesperal”), the second to last tune, brings forward more violence and anger, being one of the most epic of all songs with its seven minutes of cutting riffs, vicious growls and a fierce atmosphere, an amazing example of what Métal Noir Québécois truly is; followed by Le Dernier Voyage (“the last voyage”), an outro that beautifully represents a real aftermath, with its atmospheric passages signing the war is finally over, therefore concluding such a great album on a melancholic but strong note.

You can take a good listen to this thrilling album in its entirety HERE, as well as visit Forteresse’s Facebook page to know more about the band and their music. And in order to provide them your full support, go buy your copy of Thèmes pour la Rébellion at the Sepulchral Productions’ webstore, at Discogs or at the Season of Mist’s webstore. Forteresse do not just offer Métal Noir Québécois, they do it almost to perfection to guarantee you understand and absorb everything they want to tell you through their music. This is Métal Noir Québécois at its finest, and if I were you I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to join Forteresse’s army and get into the battlefield alongside them.

Best moments of the album: Spectre De La Rébellion and Le Sang des Héros.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sepulchral Productions

Track listing
1. Aube De 1837 0:46
2. Spectre De La Rébellion 5:33
3. Là où Nous Allons 6:09
4. Par la Bouche de Mes Canons 6:14
5. Le Sang des Héros 6:51
6. Forêt d’Automne 5:20
7. Vespérales 6:59
8. Le Dernier Voyage 4:55

Band members
Athros – vocals, additional guitars, additional keyboards
Matrak – lead guitars
Moribond – rhythm guitars, bass
Fiel – drums, keyboards

Live musician
G. – bass

Concert Review – Slayer (Sound Academy, Toronto, ON, 09/12/2016)

When you have the iconic Death Angel, Anthrax and Slayer playing together in Toronto, you know it’s going to be an action-packed night of demented headbanging, beer drinking and brutal slamming.

OPENING ACTS: Death Angel and Anthrax

img_1784Anytime a concert is scheduled for a weekday that’s not Friday and there are a few bands on the lineup, I believe the organizers should push the whole event one hour later than planned to give more time to several fans that do not live right beside the venue to get there before the first band starts. And when the opening act is a band like Thrash Metal masters DEATH ANGEL, that extra time should be mandatory. The doors at a completely revamped Sound Academy (which will soon change its traditional name to Rebel, the most generic thing you can think of) opened at 6:30pm yesterday, and right after that Death Angel began their concert. Was I there to witness the amazing band led by Mark Osegueda fire their classics and new songs from the superb The Evil Divide? Of course not, nor hundreds of other fans who due to work or school could not get to the venue before 7:30pm. Is it too difficult to take into account the fact that most people do not live only five minutes from the venue, especially on a Monday night? We paid good money for the tickets, we deserved to see Death Angel, but it looks like some people just don’t care if you’re attending the full concert or not, right?

Setlist
The Ultra-Violence
Evil Priest
Claws in So Deep
Thrown to the Wolves
The Dream Calls for Blood
The Moth

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums

img_1787And if you arrived after 7:30pm you might even have missed the beginning of the excellent concert by Thrash Metal titans ANTHRAX, simply proving how early the whole event started. Despite playing only nine songs in total, our good friends Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante kicked fuckin’ ass, with half of their setlist being comprised of songs from their latest album, the classy For All Kings. And let me tell you that those new songs worked really well live, especially Evil Twin and Breathing Lightning. Obviously, all fans got really pumped up when they played some of their biggest classics such as Caught in a Mosh, Antisocial and Indians (including a war dance), with Joey and Scott (“Do you love Thrash Metal?”) igniting some flammable mosh pits with their endless energy and unique charisma. I hope they get back to Toronto soon, and next time they have to be the headliners and play their full set, because I lost count of how many times I’ve seen Anthrax as the opening act only in the past few years, always having to cut down their setlist due to time restraints.

Setlist
You Gotta Believe
Monster at the End
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Evil Twin
Antisocial
Breathing Lightning
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums 

SLAYER

img_1796One very positive thing I have to say about the revamp at the Sound Academy is that they fixed all past issues they had with their sound system, turning what once was a muffled and tangled noise into detailed and crystal clear sounds. That, my friends, was what made the cataclysmic performance by Thrash Metal behemoths SLAYER, the most badass and heaviest band on earth, even heavier than what we were used to, in special the demolishing drums by Mr. Paul Bostaph. He sounded bestial the entire concert, louder and heavier than a construction zone working at full force, making our chests pump hard with his beats as if he was using a stone crusher instead of regular drum sticks behind his drums. Simply amazing.

Obviously, the rest of the band also had a fantastic performance, with Tom Araya leading the band with his deranged screams while Gary Holt and Kerry King showed us how a guitar duo should really sound in heavy music. After the devilish intro Delusions of Saviour ended and their new bone-crushing hymn Repentless started, it was a feast of old school classics the likes of Postmortem, Mandatory Suicide, War Ensemble and the demonic Seasons in the Abyss mixed with new material from Repentless (five new songs to be more precise, including the awesome You Againt You and Vices), generating some sick mosh pits and rabid screams from all fans at the Sound Academy.

img_1808A few songs from their setlist hit me like a stampede so heavy, dark and amazing they were played. First of all, it’s always a pleasure to see Tom reciting the chorus for Dead Skin Mask before the song starts, inspiring every fan to sing along with him. As Tom said, we love Slayer’s music and they love to play it, so it’s like a love affair, right? And what to say about the brutal Disciple (I bet you were bursting your lungs out screaming “God hates us all!” together with Tom during the song, just like I did), the chaotic Born of Fire, and the really old school Fight Till Death, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy? This one crushed me like an insect so fantastic it was.

I have no words to describe the apocalyptic aura generated by the last batch of classics played by Slayer, starting with one of the most demonic songs of all time, Hell Awaits, followed by the also obscure South of Heaven, my favorite Slayer song of all Raining Blood (where Paul Bostaph gave a lesson in drumming from the very first beat until the end), the classic Black Magic and finally, paying homage to the legacy of Jeff Hanneman, the unparalleled Angel of Death. That was the last song of a pure Thrash Metal night on a perfect day in Toronto, leaving us all eager for more Death Angel, Anthrax and Slayer in a not-so-distant future. Add to all that the excellent Dystopia by Megadeth and the upcoming releases by Testament and even Metallica (at least their new song sounds good, let’s wait for the rest of the album), and you know 2016 is the year of Thrash Metal. And, of course, Toronto couldn’t be left out of such an awesome party.

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
The Antichrist
Disciple
Postmortem
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
When the Stillness Comes
You Against You
Mandatory Suicide
Fight Till Death
Born of Fire
Dead Skin Mask
Seasons in the Abyss
Pride in Prejudice
Vices

Encore:
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Black Magic
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Concert Review – Rotting Christ (L’Astral, Montreal, QC, 09/08/2016)

No Marduk? No problem at all, as Montreal still got an incredible night of extreme music spearheaded by the best Greek band of all time, the one and only Rotting Christ.

OPENING ACTS: Necronomicon and Carach Angren

marduk-tourFinally back from a lengthy trip to Montreal and Quebec City, it’s time to get the ball rolling again at The Headbanging Moose, and let’s begin with an outstanding night of Extreme Metal this Thursday in Montreal. First and foremost, in my opinion it was a huge lack of respect to all fans who had bought their tickets to see Marduk, Rotting Christ, Carach Angren and Necronomicon Thursday night at L’Astral in Montreal (by the way, what an amazing venue) to inform that Marduk had not received their Canadian working visas on time and, therefore, could not perform together with the other three bands of the night, only a couple of hours before the doors actually opened. I don’t believe the organizers were expecting the decision to not provide the visas to Marduk reversed the same day of the show, and I’m pretty sure most of you will agree with me it looks a lot more like an attempt to avoid a significant loss of money due to tickets being returned and refunded.

Anyway, Necronomicon, Carach Angren and Rotting Christ didn’t disappoint at all and put up a sensational show from start to finish, minimizing the pain we all had to endure due to the absence of the main band of the night. The first band to hit the stage was Canadian Symphonic Black/Death Metal horde NECRONOMICON, who after over a month on the road were finally back to their hometown to once again spread darkness over their beloved city at a packed L’Astral. Promoting their latest (and kick-ass) album Advent of The Human God, the band led by the talented (and also really cool guy) Rob “The Witch” Tremblay played a well-balanced mix of old songs with new demolishing tunes such as I (Bringer of Light) and Crown of Thorns, letting every single fan at the venue with a darkened heart and a huge smile on their faces. After their performance, Rob stayed at the band’s merch booth taking pictures with fans and selling high-quality T-shirts (really good stuff for only $25 each) and CD’s, which by the way are being re-printed already due to the high demand by fans worldwide. It’s so good to see bands like Necronomicon succeeding like that in an era where very few people buy physical music, and even better to see that when they play live they can transfer all the obscurity and potency of their music to the stage.

Band members
Rob “The Witch” Tremblay – vocals, guitar
Mars – bass
Rick – drums

img_1735After a short break, it was time for Dutch Horror Metal act CARACH ANGREN to haunt L’Astral with their theatrical and blackened performance. In case you know nothing about this excellent band from the city of Limburg, in the Netherlands, I highly recommend you go after their material because it’s not only very professional, but also unique and exciting. Furthermore, things get even better live, as all band members make sure they offer their fans a true depiction of their diabolical music. While Namtar kept smashing his drums and Ardek built a Mercyful Fate-inspired atmosphere through his keyboard notes, it were frontman Seregor and guest guitarist Jack Owen (let me say the presence of the famous ex-Cannibal Corpse guitarist was a huge and awesome surprise for me) who stole the show with their precise performances. I believe everyone at the venue loved the concert by Carach Angren, with songs such as When Crows Tick on Windows and Killed and Served by the Devil proving once again the fusion of theatre and extreme music, like what Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir do, always has a very positive impact on any live audience. There was even a wall of death close to the end of their show, which always translates into greatness for fans of demolishing music like myself.

Band members
Seregor – vocals
Ardek – keyboards, orchestrations
Namtar – drums 

Guest musician
Jack Owen – guitars 

ROTTING CHRIST

img_1744As aforementioned, we did not get Marduk, but who said the night wasn’t superb even with that unforeseen letdown? Well, that was only possible thanks to the flawless performance by Greek Black/Dark Metal titans ROTTING CHRIST, a concert that I personally recommend to anyone who loves violence and groove blended with history in heavy music. Call it tribal, ritualistic or warlike music, what Mr. Sakis Tolis and his army delivered to the fans in Montreal was beyond magnificent, with Sakis inciting every metalhed at the venue to “fight” in the circle pit. It was a neck-breaking, mind-blowing metal extravaganza that only a distinguished band like Rotting Christ is capable of delivering, leaving every single person in the crowd absolutely thrilled during their entire show.

I simply loved their precise mix of old classics, like the infernal The Sign of Evil Existence and Non Serviam, more contemporary tunes like the bestial 666, and brand new songs from the excellent Rituals, such as the hypnotizing chant Ze Nigmar, the delivish and rhythmic Apage Satana and my favorite song of the new album, the aggressive and energetic Elthe Kyrie (even with the stunning female vocals by Danai Katsameni not being live for obvious reasons). Nobody seemed to care about the fact that very few parts of the songs were sung in English, with most of their setlist being sung in Greek and other languages. The ritualistic and demonic aura of each song, played to perfection by all band members (in special by guitarist George Emmanuel, who was on fire during the whole concert as if he was possessed by an evil entity), was all that Rotting Christ needed to dominate the hearts, minds and souls of every fan at L’Astral.

img_1749I already nurture a lot of respect for Rotting Christ, but after what I saw in Montreal that respect grew even bigger than before. When you see a gorgeous girl that unfortunately has to be on a wheelchair (probably for the rest of her life) due to reasons beyond our control having an absolute blast the entire concert, getting totally mesmerized by the band’s powerful and primeval music, you know the band has something special in them. There are things only heavy music is capable of doing, especially bringing together all types of people it doesn’t matter how the person looks, the gender, religion, race or anything else. Unfortunately as I was still in Montreal until yesterday I couldn’t see them in Toronto Friday night, but I’m sure their Torontonians fans got exactly what they paid for: a stupendous concert of extreme music, perfectly fired by the most important and influential Greek band of all times. Put differently, next time Rotting Christ visit your city, don’t even think about missing the chance of seeing them live. Period.

Setlist
Ze Nigmar
Kata ton Demona Eautou
Athanati Este
Elthe Kyrie
Apage Satana
Grandis Spiritus Diavolos
Konx om Pax
666
The Sign of Evil Existence
Noctis Era

Encore:
Non Serviam

Band members
Sakis Tolis – vocals, guitars
George Emmanuel – guitars
Van Ace – bass
Themis Tolis – drums