Album Review – Denominte / Those Who Beheld The End (2016)

Behold the ascension of an awesome band from Finland that adds a lot of progressiveness to their Death Metal without losing the genre’s core viciousness.

Those_Who_Beheld_the_End_Cover640It’s not a secret to anyone that Finland always delivers when the music in question is Melodic Death Metal. However, the Land of a Thousand Lakes now offers a more brutal and old school version of the genre the likes of Death and Carcass thanks to Progressive/Technical Death Metal band Denominte. This powerful five-piece act has just released their debut full-length album entitled Those Who Beheld The End, experimenting with melody and progressiveness while at the same time keeping the heaviness and aggression of Death Metal flowing from each of the album’s seven demolishing compositions.

Formed in 2009 in the city of Oulu under the name Encrypted and having released their debut EP named Realms of Confusion in 2014, the band decided to change their name to Denominate in 2015 (with no changes to their lineup, though) as well as to increase their focus on the harmonious parts of their music instead of just pounding their instruments manically. As a result, in Those Who Beheld The End, recorded and mixed at a private studio in Oulu in two separate sessions due to their studio engineer’s personal projects (which ended up delaying the release date for some time), Denominate bring forward a strong balance of violence and melody that will please both fans of old school Death Metal and admirers of the more modern sounding of Melodic Death Metal.

As soon as you start listening to the opening track, In A Chasm Of Stone, you’ll be able to notice those core ingredients in their music due to the high level of intricacy found in their guitar lines. As aforementioned, they play a very technical version of Death Metal without losing the genre’s inner havoc, with the exceptional drummer Joni Määttä sounding like a machine gun and, consequently, bringing an additional layer of brutality to their music. Degradation is an old school chant led by the vicious growling by Ville Männikkö, and even with all the devastation going on you can still savor the progressiveness of the riffs and solos by guitarists Kimmo Raappana and Eetu Pylkkänen; whereas the heavier-than-hell bass lines by Tuomas Pesälä kick off the obscure song Penumbra, enhanced by the low-tuned gnarls by Ville and the unstoppable beast by Joni, guiding the listener to darkness. In other words, this is definitely the type of composition that will pave Denominate’s path to stardom in extreme music.

Promokuva_3The Demented Scholar of Abatos not only has an awesome name, but it’s also an extremely well-crafted composition where bass guitar and riffs generate the requested obscurity for Ville to keep growling and screaming. Moreover, this progressive song, less bestial and presenting more melodious lines, perfectly depicts the new concept proposed by the band, and as you’ll be able to notice while listening to it the final result is quite interesting. And following that stampede of progressiveness we have the 11-minute visceral hymn Torments of Silence, starting with a somber acoustic intro before darkness takes over the sonority and the band’s crushing Death Metal dominates your mind. Not only the sharp riffs by Kimmo and Eetu take the spotlight, but add to that the song’s precise tempo changes and the sonic impact of this excellent full-bodied composition increases considerably.

A very technical riffage together with blasting drums can only result in good music, which is the case in Apeirophobia (the fear of eternity), highly recommended for guitarists that love extreme music thanks to the job done by both Kimmo and Eetu, not to mention the song’s thoughtful and hellish lyrics (“Arising from a need, to achieve and repeat / tainted by fear to be doomed to predict / every action from here to eternity / linked to the past, past to the future / the ageless serpent ever devouring itself / the Styx ever-flowing, towards the source”). And lastly, walking through the realms of Melodic Death Metal we have Terrestrial Funeral, one final shot of progressiveness blended with endless pugnacity where the bass lines by Tuomas get even more complex than before, while Ville keeps screaming with anger in his heart until an excellent guitar solo concludes the song and the album.

In summary, the music found in Those Who Beheld The End might not be that very traditional form of Death Metal that stormed the world decades ago, but it maintains the vicious essence of those golden years without sounding outdated or repetitive, pointing to a very promising future of the genre. With that said, behold the ascension of this awesomely heavy band by visiting their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, and grab your copy of Those Who Beheld The End (you can listen to the entire album HERE) at Record Shop X, at the Inverse Records’ webstore, at Denominate’s BandCamp page, on iTunes and several other locations.

Best moments of the album: In A Chasm Of Stone and Penumbra.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. In A Chasm Of Stone 5:08
2. Degradation 4:05
3. Penumbra 5:07
4. The Demented Scholar of Abatos 5:40
5. Torments of Silence 11:16
6. Apeirophobia 6:04
7. Terrestrial Funeral 5:49

Band members
Ville Männikkö – vocals
Kimmo Raappana – guitars
Eetu Pylkkänen – guitars
Tuomas Pesälä – bass
Joni Määttä – drums

Album Review – The Sound That Ends Creation / We Are The Burden (2016)

Get ready for 21 minutes of brutal and technical Grindcore that will crush your spinal cord mercilessly.

Rating5

the sound that ends creation - we are the burdenIf someone asks you to mention a good one-man or one-woman band in Heavy Metal, the first names that will come to your mind probably play raw and obscure Black Metal. I would say that’s the case in nine out of ten projects, but obviously there are also many excellent multi-instrumentalists generating interesting material in other ramifications of heavy music such as Death and Doom Metal, for example. However, I believe this will be the first time you’ll be facing a one-man army blasting a trenchant fusion of Grindcore and Metalcore, two subgenres of heavy music where you’ll usually find regular bands comprised of at least three members. I’m talking about The Sound That Ends Creation, the indomitable creature generated inside the mind of American musician Chris Dearing in which he plays all of guitar and bass, as well as performing vocals and programming drums.

Formed in early 2016 in the city of Allen, Texas, in the United States, The Sound That Ends Creation blends all main styles found in extreme music, those being Death Metal, Black Metal, Mathcore and even Sludge and Stoner Metal, together with the project’s core essence formed of unrelenting Grindcore. The result of that brutal fusion can be seen in We Are The Burden, the debut album by The Sound That Ends Creation that will crush your spinal cord mercilessly in its 21 minutes of uncompromised devastation. Do not expect any sign of happiness or positivity emanating from the music, but only sheer savagery perfect for slamming into the pit as expected from any good Grindcore band.

Chris comes barking like a rabid dog in the opening track, a two-minute technical Grindcore tune named The Complex, also blasting the first wave of heavy riffs and violent beats in We Are The Burden. Moreover, drums sound amazingly organic despite being programmed, which is also the case in Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark, a diabolical mix of Grindcore and Black Metal, with its guitar lines being as sharp as the Death Metal-inspired growls by Chris. It doesn’t matter if the music gets faster than a bullet or as sluggish and somber as traditional Doom Metal, the entire song kicks fuckin’ ass. And the distorted mind of Chris provides the listener another two-minute havoc overflowing anger and hatred entitled A Cyclical Dawn, with highlights to all its tempo changes, which in my opinion means a lot considering the fact this is a relatively short composition.

TSTECLOGOThe Fires Are Growing trespasses the boundaries of heaviness, almost feeling like pure old school Death Metal at times while also sounding extremely progressive, flowing to a lancinating ending before the most intricate composition of the album, Machinations Of Progress, brings forth chaos and harmony at the same time. Highly recommended for fans of complexity and fury in music the likes of old school Carcass, this is the perfect example of how our lone wolf is capable of sounding like many well-established Technical Death Metal bands even being by himself and having no support from any record label. And how about an atmospheric break titled Interlude before Chris’ onslaught returns? You better take that time off to breathe, because what he delivers in A Hollow Pine Box is simply awesome. Not only guitars are superb (as well as all rhythmic beats and breaks), but there’s also room for hints of Pantera and the low-tuned sonority of Stoner Metal, enhancing the song’s impact on the listener.

If you’re still alive after such level of devastation, there’s still more madness in the form of music for you. Pounding his guitar and bass, Chris offers more high-quality Death Metal and Grindcore in less than two minutes titled Bottom Feeders, followed by The Open Eye, where the high-pitched growling by Chris together with his deeper guttural brings more flavor to the overall result. And closing the album with a beautiful message about how cruel and heartless we can all be, Chris presents the extremely technical A Portrait Of Inhumanity, a brutal Death Metal assault with progressive notes where Chris has another visceral performance on vocals.

After listening to such an inspiring album, I suggest you all go get in touch with Chris and his electrified The Sound That Ends Creation at the project’s Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channel, and if you love the demolishing sound of raw and technical Grindcore you can purchase We Are The Burden at The Sound That Ends Creation’s BandCamp page. Chris’ 21 minutes of ruthless and virulent music are definitely worth the investment, and by buying the album you will also help this talented artist in perpetrating the awesomeness and energy of the independent scene of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark, The Fires Are Growing and A Hollow Pine Box.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. The Complex 2:06
2. Burn the Trees, Burn the Bark 2:18
3. A Cyclical Dawn 2:24
4. The Fires Are Growing 2:08
5. Machinations Of Progress 2:10
6. Interlude 1:13
7. A Hollow Pine Box 2:07
8. Bottom Feeders 1:38
9. The Open Eye 1:59
10. A Portrait Of Inhumanity 3:14

Band members
Chris Dearing – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Thrawsunblat / Metachthonia (2016)

Welcome to Metachthonia, the electric and modern world crafted by an amazing Folk and Melodic Black Metal band from Canada.

Rating4

CDI101_1P_insert.epsMetachthonia:
(meh-tah-KTHOH-nee-ah) n. [< A.Grk meta- ‘after’ + chthoni- (stem of chthon ‘earth’ + -ios adj. suffix) + -a;]
1. the epoch after the age of the earth; this current electric age.

Dear metalheads from all over the world, welcome to Metachthonia, the brand new concept album by Canadian Folk/Melodic Black Metal act Thrawsunblat. Metachthonia is ancient Greek for “the age after that of the Earth”, referring to today’s modern world where we find ourselves under fluorescent light more often than sunlight, and so yearn for the natural world. Firing a unique blend of Folk and Black Metal inspired by bands such as Amon Amarth, Borknagar and Ensiferum, being even labeled as “Folkened Black Metal”, this extremely talented band from the city of Fredericton, the capital of the province of New Brunswick, puts no limits to their creations, offering the listener an eccentric and fresh version of extreme music that will captivate you from start to finish.

Formed in 2009 by multi-instrumentalist Joel Violette (ex-guitarist for Woods of Ypres) as a side project together with David Gold, the lead singer and drummer for Woods of Ypres, and having released their debut album named Canada 2010 that same year, Thrawsunblat became Joel’s main band following David’s tragic death in December 2011 as a result of an automobile accident. In 2013, the band released their second album, entitled Thrawsunblat II: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings, already featuring Brendan Hayter on bass and Rae Amitay on drums, as well as fiddler Jeff Mott (and obviously Joel), presenting a more complex side of their music. Now in Metachthonia (which by the way has each one of its songs divided in three parts as you can see HERE), not only Jeff and his fiddle were replaced by cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne, but the band also decided to venture through darker paths, sounding more blackened than before and, therefore, more intense and thrilling.

The 11-minute hymn Fires That Light the Earth is a beautiful start to the album. Although the strong sound of the cello is very captivating, it’s when the music explodes into the “Folkened Black Metal” proposed by the band, with Rae setting fire to the music with his bestial beats while Joel is anger incarnate, that the journey truly takes off. In addition, the clean vocals add epicness to the musicality, with the guitar lines by Joel and the bass lines by Brendan creating an ocean of sounds and vibrations. When the smoother and more melodic She Who Names the Stars begins, Joel and his crew are waiting for the listener at Metachtonia with arms wide open (“All you, welcome to Metachthonia. / It’s like the rustle of leaf to ground against the industrial sound. / All you, welcome to Metachthonia. / It’s like the sun on your skin while the diodes draw you in.”), with the cello by Raphael providing a good balance with Rae’s furious drumming. The music flows flawlessly throughout the almost ten minutes of the song, arising all types of emotions until its harmonious ending.

thrawsunblat logoIn Dead of Winter, a short choir-like intro morphs into sheer madness, a Blackened Folk Metal feast where Joel and Rae steal the spotlight with their awesome harsh growls/clean vocals alternation and infernal beats, respectively. It’s interesting how they prepare the listener for the sudden eruptions of Extreme Metal, with acoustic folk sounds bursting into an avalanche of blackened music. Hypochthonic Remnants is more violent and visceral than all previous tracks, mainly due to the thunderous guitar lines by Joel, enhanced by the song’s endless progressiveness and the hints of traditional Heavy Metal and even Power Metal added to its main riff. Furthermore, its second part is a solid blend of the Folk Metal by Ensiferum with the darkened sonority of Borknagar and Old Man’s Child, which then flows into an melancholic acoustic ending.

Tribal drums ignite another obscure voyage of progressive folk music named Rivers of Underthought, the least violent of all songs where the unique sound of the cello by Raphael yet again adds a lot of beauty to the overall result. It’s a lot more inclined to the harmony of Folk and Pagan Metal than to the savagery of Extreme Metal, all embraced by a strong progressive ambience during the song’s almost nine minutes. And finally, In Mist We Walk kicks off in devastation mode, with the sound of the guitar by Joel together with the galloping bass lines by Brendan not leaving a single space empty in the music. Its second piece is pure high-octane Pagan Metal with atmospheric and acoustic passages, whereas its third part is made for enjoying the excellence of its lyrics (“I walk the banks of the stream of electric thought. / I cross to the warmth of where I once was. / I look down to see a sixfold flame in hand. / Sing me the dark songs of Chthonia. / Sing life immense in passion and pulse.”).

The fantastic concept of Metachthonia can be explored in more detail at the band’s official Facebook page, and if you want to provide your full support to such a distinct band you can purchase the album (which can be relished in its entirety HERE) at their BandCamp page. The electric and modern world of Metachthonia presented by Thrawsunblat might seem really dangerous at times, but we must admit it’s a lot easier to face any type of challenge or fear when the music behind it is as awesome as what’s found in this classy  and multilayered album.

Best moments of the album: Fires That Light the Earth and Dead of Winter.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Ignifera Records/Broken Limbs

Track listing
1. Fires That Light the Earth 11:01
2. She Who Names the Stars 9:33
3. Dead of Winter 9:50
4. Hypochthonic Remnants 8:32
5. Rivers of Underthought 8:56
6. In Mist We Walk 11:56

Band members
Joel Violette – vocals, guitars
Brendan Hayter – bass
Raphael Weinroth-Browne – cello
Rae Amitay – drums, additional vocals on “Dead of Winter”

Album Review – ThrOes / This Viper Womb (2016)

After a few years in the making, the Tasmanian devil Trent Griggs and his henchmen finally bring to life over one hour of unrelenting flesh-eating Dissident Metal not recommended for the faint-hearted.

Rating4

THROES_TVW_COVERWhat I’m about to say might sound a bit cliché, but based on the aggressive and defiant nature of the music found in This Viper Womb, the brand new album by Dissident Metal act ThrOes, I believe we should start calling this awesome band from Hobart, the capital and most populous city of of the Australian island state of Tasmania as the “Tasmanian Devils of Extreme Metal”. Tasmanian devils are not only hostile carnivores, but also extremely asocial and neither demonstrate nor respond to affection, behavioral attitudes that match perfectly with the vicious vocal attacks, savage guitar riffs, crushing drums and even the idiosyncratic sounds of an instrument called EBow found throughout the entire album. In other words, ThrOes are unleashing a wild beast upon humanity, and it seems they’re not worried at all about the noxious effects of their music on the human mind.

Conceived by multi-instrumentalist Trent Griggs in December 2003 and having released a four-song promotional demo titled The Drowning Rituals in 2005, this interesting Avant-garde Black Metal one-man project has been going through a slow and steady process of evolution and materialization, impacted by several factors such as Trent’s perfectionism (a good element in this case, by the way), the distance between Trent and the other musicians who helped him in This Viper Womb, and also his time off in 2015 to focus on the birth of his first son Dorian. Now in 2016 it’s time for Trent, together with Australian vocalist James Ludbrook (Damaged, Terrorust) and the bestial American drummer Kevin Talley (Chimaira, Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Six Feet Under, DevilDriver), to envenom the world with the uproar caused by the ten distinct compositions from This Viper Womb.

As soon as you hit play and the opening track Permanent Midnight starts, you’ll face the spoken words by Terence Mckenna taken from the lecture “Culture And Ideology Are Not Your Friends”, presented at the Whole Life Expo in Denver in April 1999, just to show you how unconventional ThrOes are. Thus, it doesn’t take long for the atmosphere to be filled by the sick screams by the unstoppable Trent, sounding like a heavier version of the iconic Mike Patton, with all instrumental pieces being obscure, violent and reverberating, not to mention the song’s lyrics depicting the torments of a disturbed mind (“Holes for filling / With drink and smoke and coke and dope / and crack and smack, xanax, prozac, / panic attacks, terror attacks / It’s a head shrinker’s racket but they’re kidding no-one, we are drowning in this”). This is one of the craziest types of music you’ll find anywhere thanks to our Tasmanian friends, and that madness goes on in Shock to the Guts, another perfect example of what Dissident Metal means. Kevin simply kicks ass with his precision in this innovative fusion of Black, Death, Industrial, Doom and Progressive Metal, piercing your ears while the guitar solos bring some serenity amidst sheer rebelliousness.

The sinister Dead Lights already starts with Trent growling like a demon, with the additional vocals by James Ludbrook increasing even more the pandemonium generated and the bass lines by Trent adding a lot of groove to the music. Now you better get ready for eight minutes of distorted passages and desperate harsh vocal lines in Conscience Makes Cowards (I couldn’t agree more with the name of the song), which sometimes gets to such a high level of progressiveness you might get lost in time and space until Trent calls you back to reality with his hellish screams; followed by Nothing Left for the Vultures, an explosion of sharp growls and metallic riffs by Trent accompanied by the beyond complex drumming by Kevin.

throesCutting guitars and the deranged vocal duo Trent and James are the main ingredients in the extremely heavy Nowhere Else, a unique composition that leans towards Progressive Black Metal, with its second half being a descend into the underworld so disturbing it is until it finally reaches its hopeless conclusion. The eccentric title-track This Viper Womb, which emanates progressiveness and obscurity, is a funereal ode to dementia with sluggish beats and bizarre sounds in the background while insanity keeps growing and filling the song’s atmosphere, and ThrOes bring forward more Extreme Metal to you in Lavish the Anguish, full of distortions and focusing more on instrumental pieces in the first half before Trent and James begin their vocal onrush, boosting the song’s ferocity.

If you survived ThrOes’ merciless strike of extreme music until this point of the album, their coup de grâce comes in the form of Feed It, a furious Black Metal-inspired chant showcasing harmony and despair mixed in the riffs and anguished vociferations by Trent. Moreover, I guess I don’t need to say how amazing the drums by Kevin sound once again in this boundless turmoil of Dissident Metal, right? And what better way to end such a distinguished amalgamation of crazy emotions and sounds than with an eerie instrumental outro that goes on for over five minutes? That’s what Trent offers us all in D.N.A. Corruption before returning to his obscure lair in Tasmania.

The exotic and blackened world of ThrOes can be better appreciated through their Facebook page, YouTube channel (where you can listen to the whole album with lyrics for every song), SoundCloud and official blog, and you can grab your copy of This Viper Womb at the Aesthetic Death Records’ webshop. In This Viper Womb, the Tasmanian devil Trent and his henchmen bring forth over one hour of unrelenting flesh-eating Extreme Metal not recommended for the faint-hearted, finally putting the vastly wild and mysterious Tasmania on the map of heavy music for the total delight of fans all over the world who are always searching for this type of fresh and innovative band.

Best moments of the album: Permanent Midnight, Dead Lights and Feed It.

Worst moments of the album: Conscience Makes Cowards.

Released in 2016 Aesthetic Death Records

Track listing
1. Permanent Midnight 4:54
2. Shock to the Guts 7:16
3. Dead Lights 6:41
4. Conscience Makes Cowards 8:29
5. Nothing Left for the Vultures 8:41
6. Nowhere Else 6:52
7. This Viper Womb 6:02
8. Lavish the Anguish 5:15
9. Feed It 6:31
10. D.N.A. Corruption 6:00

Band members
Trent Griggs – vocals, guitars, bass, ebow
James Ludbrook – additional vocals
Kevin Talley – drums (session)

Album Review – Grotesque Ceremonium / Demonic Inquisition (2016)

Call it Torturing Metal, Inquisitor Metal or simply old school Death Metal, the destructive music by this one man-army from Turkey will inflict some good pain on your body and soul.

Rating5

153-1Before starting reading this review, go down to the very end of it and take a good listen at the brutal devastation called “Burned At The Stake” by Turkish Death Metal one-man army Grotesque Ceremonium. Are you done listening to it? Good, because that will make it a lot easier for you to understand what an “unholy old school Death Metal band influenced by early 90’s dark, putrid evil” is, also setting the tone for every single song in Demonic Inquisition, the debut full-length album by this promising project led by the multitalented musician Batu Çetin.

Formed in 2014 in Ankara, Turkey, and having released a debut EP entitled Blasphemous Goat Observance that same year, Grotesque Ceremonium return in Demonic Inquisition with a concept album about the Dark Ages and the Medieval Inquisition, where all punishments and inquisition methods were performed by demons and Baphomet’s evil army against all believers of God. Singing about witches, witchcraft, demonic punishments and tortures in the depths of hell (the satanic temple of Baphomet), Mr. Batu Çetin will take you on a tormenting journey accompanied by the sound of his old school extreme music, leaving your agonizing soul completely disoriented and desolated. What else do you need in good Death Metal music, right?

Putrid growls and snarls permeate the air in Defiled Spirits Of Unholy Torments, where Batu displays a very good control of all instruments, in special his obscure riffs and drums like what we see in bands such as Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, therefore sounding as Death Metal as possible. The title-track Demonic Inquisition builds a direct link with the opening track, enhanced by its profane vociferations and a hellish ambience. By growling deeper and deeper, Batu takes us to the hideous pits of Medieval Inquisition in a little over six minutes or torturing passages and pure Death Metal, exactly the way it’s supposed to sound.

In Burned At The Stake, which is obviously about one of the most heartless forms of torture, Batu translates the unbearable pain caused by fire into brutality with his guitar lines and rhythmic drumming, whereas in Malefizhaus & Hexengefangnis, the witch prisons built during the Bamberg Witch Trials with a capacity of 30 to 40 prisoners each, our one-man army once again provides his vision of such disgusting event through his old school musicality, with highlights to his satanic riffs and nefarious growling. If you feel your head burning after all the darkness spilled by Grotesque Ceremonium so far, get ready for more aggressiveness in Barbaric Apostasy, where despite adding hints of Blackened Doom to his beats, Batu never deviates from the foundations of Death Metal. Put differently, simply bang your fuckin’ heads to this amazing feast of extreme music until your brain detaches from your skull.

gro-bandAgonized Screams Of The Damned might be faster than the previous songs, but it’s still sluggish and extremely heavy, which obviously turns it into one of the most devastating songs of the album (if not the most). Moreover, Batu keeps roaring his fiendish gnarls and delivering his very traditional guitar lines, and pay attention to how vocals and riffs follow the exact same pattern during the entire song, showing how methodical this musician is. Following a similar sonority, we are embraced by total fuckin’ darkness in a disquieting composition entitled In The Cauldrons Of Hell, which blends the heaviness of old school Death Metal with the funereal beats from Doom Metal and Blackened Doom.

The last original track in Demonic Inquisition, named Crushing Morbid Death, is sheer Death Metal with no extra ingredients or any type of shenanigans: it’s simply Batu blasting his wicked growls, riffs and drumming in three minutes of Stygian music. And lastly, the cover version for Profanation, by old school American Death Metal band Incantation, lives up to the original version from 1992, an amazing tribute to one of our death metaller’s main influences with highlights to its “lovable” lyrics (“Pentagram is hailed in hell / Star of death brings infinite life / Enter the circle and desecrate / Devours the soul, embalminate the body…”). Not only that, keep in mind Batu is not a full-bodied band like Incantation, but just one single person, yet again showcasing his refined abilities as a musician.

This impactful display of putrescent Death Metal, available as a jewel box CD limited to 500 copies (including an 8-page booklet) or as a digital download, can be purchased at the band’s BandCamp page, at the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page and webstore, or at Discogs. Perhaps we should say Grotesque Ceremonium, the disfigured child created by the mind of Mr. Batu Çetin, is a forbidding form of Death Metal called “Torturing Metal” or maybe even “Inquisitor Metal” due to its vile nature. A good epitome of what Batu is capable of generating in music, and an excellent alternative for any fas avid for the heaviest form of Death Metal you can think of.

Best moments of the album: Malefizhaus & Hexengefangnis and Agonized Screams Of The Damned.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Satanath Records/More Hate Productions

Track listing
1. Defiled Spirits Of Unholy Torments 4:52
2. Demonic Inquisition 6:28
3. Burned At The Stake 3:08
4. Malefizhaus & Hexengefangnis 5:24
5. Barbaric Apostasy 5:49
6. Agonized Screams Of The Damned 3:53
7. In The Cauldrons Of Hell 4:47
8. Crushing Morbid Death 2:53
9. Profanation (Incantation cover) 5:04

Band members
Batu Çetin – vocals, all instruments

Concert Review – Disturbed & Breaking Benjamin (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, 08/08/2016)

The city of Toronto got awesomely “infected” by David Draiman and his horde on a warm and beautiful night of alternative music.

OPENING ACTS: Saint Asonia and Alter Bridge

Disturbed_Breaking Benjamin_2016Due to my hectic working schedule yesterday and the distance from my place to the fantastic Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, I wasn’t able to see the performances by the two special guests of the night, Canadian Nu Metal/Hard Rock band SAINT ASONIA and American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band ALTER BRIDGE. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited to watch Saint Asonia, despite the fact they’re portrayed as a “supergroup” based in Toronto formed by lead singer and guitarist  Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace), lead guitarist Mike Mushok (ex-Staind), bassist Corey Lowery (ex-Stuck Mojo) and drummer Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven). I’m not sure how many people were actually able to watch their concert, nor if they were a good warm-up for the following bands. All I can say is that the music they play is not my cup of tea and I don’t really regret missing their performance.

What I do feel slightly sad about was missing the excellent singer Myles Kennedy and the talented guitarist Mark Tremonti (together with bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips) playing their straightforward and honest rock music with Alter Bridge. We all know Myles and Mark are awesome musicians, and even considering the music by this Orlando-based group a bit too soft for me I’m sure that might have been a kick-ass concert. Well, that’s the price to pay when there are too many bands in such a short period of time, fans end up missing a good chunk of what they paid for unless they arrive REALLY early to the venue, which was not the case for most fans last night.

BREAKING BENJAMIN

IMG_1585The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre got packed only a few minutes before American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band BREAKING BENJAMIN began their show, with frontman and guitarist Benjamin Burnley leading his competent band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania formed by Jasen Rauch on lead guitars, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar, Aaron Bruch on bass and Shaun Foist on drums. The band got back in action a couple of years ago after Benjamin was finally able to overcome his phobias and addictions, with all members being completely new to the band (except for Benjamin, of course), and based on the warm reaction from everyone at the venue I believe fans truly missed Benjamin’s melodious mix of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock during the band’s hiatus.

As a fan of the darkest side of music who’s always listening to the most visceral forms of Thrash, Death and Black Metal, I must admit their music didn’t excite me despite being extremely well-crafted and played to perfection by all band members. Except for the brief moments when they played an excerpt of the superb Walk, by one of my favorite bands of all time, Pantera, as well as another excerpt from the classic Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, I couldn’t really connect to the band’s music. One thing I enjoyed a lot though was the vocal range by Aaron, going from clean and melodic lines to furious growls whenever he was responsible for the vocal parts, and for me that was the best ingredient of their concert. Please don’t think I hate Breaking Benjamin with all my strength or that it was a horrible concert, let’s simply say it’s hard to pay some decent attention to a band you’re not a fan of their music or style when you’re anxious for the following act.

Setlist
So Cold
Angels Fall
Sooner or Later
Blow Me Away
The Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk
Polyamorous
Ashes of Eden
Believe
Breath
Failure
Until the End
I Will Not Bow
The Diary of Jane

Band members
Benjamin Burnley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jasen Rauch – lead guitar, electronic strings, programming
Keith Wallen – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Aaron Bruch – bass, backing vocals
Shaun Foist – drums, electronic percussion, programming

DISTURBED

IMG_1592Only one day after playing at Heavy Montréal, Mr. David Draiman and his Alternative Metal horde DISTURBED hit the stage at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to do what they do best, which is playing electrifying razor-edged modern metal music. Still promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (which by the way was awarded gold in Canada as well as platinum to the single The Sound of Silence, as informed by Draiman during the show), this iconic band from Chicago, Illinois not only revolutionized music with their inception back in the 90’s, but they also keep bringing different generations to their live concerts like what happened yesterday, something only traditional bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica do nowadays.

Blending classics such as the opening song Ten Thousand Fists and the classy Stricken with new songs like the kick-ass The Vengeful One, Draiman and his crew conquered all from the very first notes of their powerful performance. Draiman might not be moving around like before, but it looks like that’s a task he’s leaving for guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and especially bassist John Moyer to do, with those three guys being unstoppable on stage while Draiman focused on his unparalleled vocals (including his classic “monkey screams”) and leading gestures. They even invited the guys from Saint Asonia and Breaking Benjamin to sing the classic Who Taught You How to Hate with them, although it felt a bit weird seeing two bass players on stage at the same time.

IMG_1602One of the most anticipated moments of the show was their beautiful version for Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, and I have to say that lived up to all expectations and beyond. The drumming by Mike was incredible, as if he was pounding our hearts, and the piano notes embellished the entire ambience, but of course the main ingredient in such a unique ballad were Draiman’s vocals. He sang each and every note to perfection together with the fans, a memorable moment in a warm Torontonian night that will stay fresh in our minds and hearts for many years to come. Another great example of how Draiman flawlessly captivated and commanded the audience throughout the whole gig occurred during their new song called The Light, where he asked everyone to raise their lighters and mobiles during the chorus of the song and every single person obviously attended his demand, creating a sensational view of brilliant dots all over the venue.

My only complaint is that their setlist was way too short, with only fourteen songs being played in total. They could have played a few more tunes like the title-track “Immortalized” or even their version for “Land of Confusion”, which has been part of their recent setlists. Anyway, the icing on the cake came in the form of their biggest hit Down With the Sickness, with all fans jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics together with Draiman, especially the ones in the floor section like myself. The heat of the fire coming from the stage might have been strong, but the heat coming from their music was even stronger, leaving all fans happier than usual on a Monday night on their way back home. When introducing Down With the Sickness, Draiman said Toronto was “infected” by their music. I can’t think of a better definition to their concert than that.

Setlist
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
The Vengeful One
Prayer
Liberate
Who Taught You How to Hate
Stupify
The Sound of Silence
Inside the Fire
The Light
Stricken
Indestructible
Voices
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

Album Review – Iron Savior / Titancraft (2016)

One of the most underrated bands from the heavy music scene in Germany returns with another solid lesson in Power Metal, perfect for banging our heads nonstop and raising our fists in the air.

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CoverMeine Damen und Herren, it’s my pleasure to inform you German Power Metal warriors Iron Savior have just released a brand new album, entitled Titancraft, the ninth in their underrated career and another extremely well-crafted collection of old school Heavy Metal hymns. Spearheaded by the skillful Piet Sielck on vocals and guitar, Iron Savior have managed to maintain the same lineup from their 2011 album The Landing and their 2014 kick-ass album Rise of the Hero, and we all know how good and productive it is to music whenever a band doesn’t suffer too many changes in regards to its members.

Instead of changes in their lineup, Iron Savior invested into increasing the reach of their music by simply adding the abilities of several guest musicians to the album. In Titancraft, fans will be able to enjoy the contributions by guitarist Jan Bertram (Paragon), singer Frank Beck (Gamma Ray), keyboardist and pianist Daniel “Danny Danger” Galmarini (Mercury Falling), and Philippa “Pippa” Sielck  on backing vocals. Add to that the once again classic cover art by Colombian musician and illustrator Felipe Machado Franco, the same artist responsible for the artwork in The Landing and Rise of the Hero, and there you have an album that transpires Heavy Metal in all possible senses.

Rumbling bass lines, electronic effects and an eerie voice constitute the futuristic intro Under Siege, setting the tone for the title-track, Titancraft, an explosion of the purest form of Power Metal similar to what their countrymen from Gamma Ray usually do. I love when a band like Iron Savior can craft honest and exciting music even after so many years on the road, and although the vocals by Piet sound less aggressive than in their previous albums, that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome. After that solid start, we have the even more powerful Way of the Blade, a superb composition that lives up to the history of true Power Metal showcasing piercing guitar lines by Piet and Joachim “Piesel” Küstner and the thunderous bass by Jan-Sören Eckert, as well as Piet getting back to his beastly mode on vocals.

Seize the Day sounds happier than usual, which doesn’t mean the music is soft or bland despite being slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality (let’s say that excessive happiness is also a bit tiring after a while); whereas Gunsmoke, with its lyrics inspired by the dangerous lives of gunmen in the Wild West (“And when all hope was gone / Judgement came to town / Seven guns / To shoot the outlaws down / Shoot ‘em down”), has that headbanging rhythm perfect for some air guitar. Furthermore, Thomas Nack is not only a fast drummer, but in this song he also shows his skills in a groovier form closer to classic Hard Rock. And in Beyond the Horizon, a classic Power Metal composition where backing vocals help Piet sound more powerful and epic, Danny Danger embellishes the musicality with his keyboard notes, working really well together with all guitar solos by Piet and Piesel.

BandThe fantastic The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell is an ode to Heavy and Power Metal, blending the best elements from Gamma Ray, Manowar, Judas Priest and so on, with Piet and his crew delivering a potent and metallic hymn where all guitar riffs and solos sound cutting, which is always a good thing in heavy music; and if you love high-octane Power Metal, Strike Down the Tyranny is perfect for you. It’s quite similar to many old classics by Iron Savior, with highlights to the always competent Thomas behind his drums.

Although the average Brother in Arms brings the adrenaline down a bit due to its not-so-exciting rhythm, despite its decent lyrics (“Alone on the journey / Like so often before / My circuits are gleaming / In overload / And now I’m coming ashore”) and good guitar solo, everything gets back on track in I Surrender, an outstanding power ballad where you’ll start singing its catchy lyrics instantly, all enhanced by a beautiful guitar solo and the passionate vocal performance by Piet, making the overall result even more touching. In other words, this is an amazing example of how a band can sound mighty even when not playing at full speed. Finally, if you were born to be rebellious, you’ll have a good time listening to the straightforward Power Metal tune Rebellious and its electrified guitar passages and classic beats.

In summary, Iron Savior never disappoint, always displaying their profound passion for Power Metal through their classic tunes, and it couldn’t be different in Titancraft. By the way, If you’re a diehard fan of the band, you certainly need to purchase the limited edition of the album, containing a stamped tinplate (20×30 cm) with cover artwork, an Iron Savior metalpin, a personal sketch and notes from Piet Sielck himself, a handsigned autograph card and a certificate of authenticity. As you already know, this is true Power Metal crafted by another brilliant band from Germany, a country that has metal music running through its veins, and that’s all we need to bang our heads and raise our fists with a huge smile on our faces.

Best moments of the album: Titancraft, Way of the Blade, The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell and I Surrender.

Worst moments of the album: Seize the Day and Brother in Arms.

Released in 2016 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Under Siege (Intro) 0:58
2. Titancraft 5:21
3. Way of the Blade 3:57
4. Seize the Day 4:57
5. Gunsmoke 5:07
6. Beyond the Horizon 5:58
7. The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell 5:02
8. Strike Down the Tyranny 5:10
9. Brother in Arms 5:23
11. I Surrender 4:04
12. Rebellious 4:49

Limited/Japanese Edition bonus tracks
10. R&R Addiction 5:10
13. Protector 2016 4:36

Japanese Edition bonus track
14. Assailant 2016 4:20

Band members
Piet Sielck – vocals, guitar
Joachim “Piesel” Küstner – guitar
Jan-Sören Eckert – bass guitar
Thomas Nack – drums

Guest musicians
Jan Bertram – lead guitars on “R&R Addiction”
Philippa “Pippa” Sielck – backing vocals
Frank Beck – backing vocals, additional lead vocals on “Assailant 2016”
Daniel “Danny Danger” Galmarini – keyboards on “Beyond The Horizon”, “I Surrender” and “Brother In Arms”, piano on “I Surrender”

Album Review – Winterhymn / Blood & Shadow (2016)

If your fearless heart claims for top-notch Epic Folk Metal, you’ll definitely enjoy this excellent compilation of songs perfect for your mead-drinking and mud-fighting parties.

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Blood&Shadow_FrontAlthough I couldn’t see Pagan/Folk Metal squad Winterhymn kicking ass live during Paganfest America Part V here in Toronto in 2014 due to traffic issues (as you can read HERE), I went after their music to get to know more about this American sextet, and let me tell you I was impressed with the energy, passion and creativity flowing from their symphonic and progressive compositions. With that said, I guess I don’t need to mention how excited I got when I received their brand new album for review, the melodious Blood & Shadow, right?

Since their inception in 2009, these folk metallers from Cincinnati, Ohio have been bringing the epicness of Celtic and Scandinavian Folk sounds to the United States, starting with their 2011 debut album Songs for the Slain until this year’s Blood & Shadow, also sharing the stage with renowned names like Eluveitie, Turisas, Chthonic, Arkona and many others. Featuring a beautiful and sanguinary artwork by Irish artist Vasilis Zikos, reflecting a scene from Winterhymn’s personal mythos (which the album is entirely based upon), Blood & Shadow is the soundtrack for drinking lots of mead and getting in random fights in the mud around a bonfire, all embraced by the undeniable talent of four brave lads and two stunning maidens.

Blending elements from Folk and Black Metal with hints of Power Metal, the melodic battle chant Blood of the Moon kicks off the album on a high note by bringing forward a very epic rhythm with highlights to the mesmerizing sound by violinist Umbriel, followed by Dream of Might, which leans towards pure Folk Metal. Albeit slower than the opening track, it still offers a high dosage of epicness, with the vocals by lead singer and guitarist Draug being perfectly complemented by the pounding drums by Valthrun and the once again incredible violin sounds by Umbriel. And the outstanding Pagan Metal composition Blood Burner is one of those songs tailored for fans of vicious battle chants who love to slam into the circle pit with a pint of cold beer in hand, with Draug and Varrik providing some exciting riffs and solos while Valthrun doesn’t let the amazing energy in the music go down.

Less violent and with a more progressive flow (but still very impactful), Legacy in Flames offers lyrics about the everyday life of a warrior nicely declaimed by Draug and bassist Alvadar (“We hunt our prey / With our last breath / By the sanguine moon / Through realms of death / So curse our name / You’ll be slaughtered all the same / Your legacy in flames”), with its last part being highly recommended for prancing around a fire pit with a pint of mead; whereas The Summoning displays a higher focus on Death Metal guttural vocals while instrumental is purely Folk Metal, a good balance that works well for a while but that unfortunately falls flat close to the end of it. Seafarer, a “Middle Earth-inspired song”, is a semi-acoustic ballad where violin and acoustic guitars generate the perfect atmosphere for Draug and his clean vocals, a soulful break from the band’s traditional battle hymns before Silenced by the Northern Winds gets back to brutal folk music with Draug leading the band’s onrush with his imposing growls, boosted by an excellent guitar solo to properly conclude this thrilling tune.

zGroup (22)In Shadow We Ride, another classic Folk Metal tune by Winterhymn, offers the listener slower beats and a fighting vibe, with its second half getting slightly heavier and, consequently, adding some extra flavor to the overall result (especially the potent bass lines by Alvadar). And in Huntsman, a serene intro morphs into brutal Pagan Metal, with its lyrics being everything a fan of this type of music loves (“They marched across the Iron Jaw with sword and helm / Seeking fabled woodland doorways to the twilight realms / The proudest of their captains are now hunted like boars / Their banners lie in gory pools upon the forest floor”). Moreover, all instruments sound potent and sharp, accrediting it to be one of the best songs of the new album for their live performances.

The final triad of Folk Metal in Blood & Shadow begins with the electrifying The Wolf’s Head, where Death and Power Metal elements arise. The song’s riffs and solos, together with the precise drumming by Valthrun, set the music on fire, with both guttural and clean vocals and the background sonority crafted by Umbriel and Exura on violin and keyboards, respectively, being absolutely outstanding. Into the Depths shows the whole band still has enough fuel for more Epic Pagan Metal, which after a solid intro gets heavier than almost everything from the album, not to mention the heroic singing by Draug. And lastly, Umbriel dictates the rhythm through her fast and melodious violin in The Chosen End, where all band members unite to provide the listener a full-bodied composition overflowing courage, passion and pain, a climatic ending for such a professional album.

If your courageous heart claims for top-notch Epic Folk Metal, go check Winterhymn’s Facebook page, as well as their YouTube channel and ReverbNation page, and don’t forget to buy their new album at the SoundAge Productions’ webstore, at the band’s BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. As aforementioned, there’s no better way to get drunk with mead and engage into mud-fighting than to the sound of such an amazing band like Winterhymn.

Best moments of the album: Blood Burner, Silenced by the Northern Winds and The Wolf’s Head.

Worst moments of the album: The Summoning.

Released in 2016 SoundAge Productions

Track listing
1. Blood of the Moon 3:48
2. Dream of Might 3:59
3. Blood Burner 3:19
4. Legacy in Flames 4:51
5. The Summoning 4:12
6. Seafarer 3:20
7. Silenced by the Northern Winds 6:53
8. In Shadow We Ride 4:47
9. Huntsman 5:23
10. The Wolf’s Head 3:39
11. Into the Depths 6:25
12. The Chosen End 4:31

Band members
Draug – vocals, lead guitar
Varrik – guitar
Alvadar – bass, backing vocals
Exura – keyboards
Umbriel – violin
Valthrun – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Emmi Silvennoinen

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Aina sydämessäin oon… Neito pohjolan…

Brothers of the North, sharpen your swords and axes, grab your war hammers and shields, paint your faces with the colors of your Norse clans and be prepared to bleed in the battlefield fighting side by side with our Metal Chick of the Month, the lionhearted Finnish warrior Emmi Silvennoinen, former keyboardist for Finnish Epic Folk Metal band Ensiferum. If you dig Scandinavian girls and are also crazy for electrifying fighting chants, Emmi will certainly drive you moonstruck.

Born on April 9, 1988 in the city of Vantaa, Finland, the fourth most populated Finnish city and also part of the inner core of the Finnish Capital Region along with Helsinki, Espoo, and Kauniainen, Emmi stepped in as the keyboardist for Ensiferum for their live performances following the departure of Meiju Enho in September 2007, until she finally joined the band as their permanent keyboard player for the recording of the album From Afar, in 2009.

Before becoming part of Ensiferum’s metallic army, our gorgeous Scandinavian shieldmaiden was the keyboardist for a Finnish Melodic Death/Gothic Metal band named Exsecratus, from Helsinki, with whom she recorded the demo Execute, in 2006, and the full-length album Tainted Dreams, in 2007. Although the band doesn’t exist anymore, you can still enjoy Emmi’s impassioned keyboard notes embellishing the band’s sounding in interesting songs such as Under the Winter Moon, My Last Fight and Suicide. As you can see, Emmi used to play a completely different style than her work with Ensiferum, but that doesn’t mean her excellent skills behind the keyboards were less important or less effective for the music by Exsecratus.

As aforementioned, our Finnish “valkyrja” joined Ensiferum back in 2007 as the band’s keyboardist for all their upcoming live performances when in 2009 she finally got the full-time job with them, recording her first single with Ensiferum called From Afar, which is also the name of her first full-length album with the band, from 2009. From that album, one of the most interesting tracks is Twilight Tavern, which official video features live footage from the famous venue Nosturi, located in Helsinki. After that strong start, Emmi also recorded with Ensiferum the singles Stone Cold Metal (2010) and Burning Leaves (2012), the full-length album Unsung Heroes (2012), the fun Suomi Warmetal EP (2014), and more recently the full-length album One Man Army (2015).

Among all Ensiferum songs that could be used to present Emmi’s solid skills as a musician, I believe the title-track of their latest album, One Man Army, is a very good example of what she’s capable of doing. In addition, why not grab a cold beer and enjoy the sound of her keyboards in their cover versions for the all-time classics Wrathchild (Iron Maiden) and Breaking The Law (Judas Priest)? Despite the fact both original songs do not have any keyboard parts at all, she managed to add her own notes to the music, enhancing their uniqueness compared to all other cover versions for those two songs you might find anywhere.

Emmi hasn’t been in many parallel projects apart from her full-time commitment with Ensiferum, except for playing keyboards in the album Hymns of the Mortals – Songs from the North (2014) by Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Thyrien. Again, the musicality crafted by Thyrien is quite different from the Folk Metal by Ensiferum, as you can see in the excellent tune When The Horizon Burns, once again showcasing Emmi’s versatility and ability to adapt to what the music is asking for.

One very important detail about Emmi’s natural aptitude for music is that she doesn’t only play regular keyboards in her life and career, but she can also play the Hammond organ, the pump organ, the regular organ and the piano, not to mention she was also doing the backing vocals in all songs by Ensiferum. If that doesn’t prove to you how dexterous our charming keyboardist is, I honestly have no idea what really would.

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Due to the fact that Emmi was a live musician for a good couple of years with Ensiferum, I thought it would be nice to have some words from our diva regarding her life on the road, her opinion about the importance of live performances to a metal band, or anything similar to that. Fortunately, I was able to find an interview where, when asked about the differences between playing at a big festival and playing at small venues, she gave a short and sweet explanation of the importance of festivals to bands like Ensiferum. “There are usually more people who hasn’t heard of our music, and festivals are a place to show all we got”, she said, and let’s admit she’s absolutely right about that.

Furthermore, if you’re either a fan of Emmi and the music by Ensiferum or if you’re a newcomer to the world of Epic and Folk Metal, you can enjoy Emmi kicking ass on her favorite place on earth, which is on a festival stage together with the other members of the band, playing songs such as Windrider (at With Full Force XV, Germany, 2008), Lai Lai Hei and Token Of Time (both at Wacken Open Air, Germany, 2008), or even Ensiferum’s full performance at the RockHard Festival, in Germany, on May 18, 2013.

However, in the past few years Emmi was unfortunately forced to sit out of some of Ensiferum’s tours around the world for personal reasons (which were not disclosed anywhere), culminating in her definite departure from the band in April this year. In 2013, she missed the band’s South American tour which was scheduled to start on May 28 in Bogota, Colombia, with her parts being replaced by backing tracks as per a statement released by the rest of the group. And in the beginning of 2015 Emmi couldn’t make it to Ensiferum’s European and North American tours, when she was replaced by the digital accordion of Netta Skog (ex-Turisas). “This was a very tough decision for me to make to not be a part of the European and North American tours, but I am so happy that not only an amazing musician will be standing in for me, but also a close friend. I hope you all enjoy the shows and the new songs with Netta – I’m looking forward to returning to play them for you in the summer!”, she stated, showing her relationship with the band was more than perfect at that time. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get back in action due to family reasons, being replaced permanently by Netta.

Lastly, I wish there were more interviews (both written and on YouTube) with Emmi to be shared with all of you, but it looks like she’s either more reserved than the other members of the band, or that interviewers all over the world are wasting some amazing opportunities to ask a few questions to such a unique musician. Anyway, if you speak Finnish you might have a good time with this interview to a Finnish channel called MoonTV (I couldn’t understand almost anything, obviously), and if you’re a fan of radical sports you can check Emmi and the other members of Ensiferum going paragliding in the valleys of Slovenia after their concert at Metaldays, held in Tolmin, Slovenia in 2013. Adrenaline has always been the perfect catalyst for good heavy music, don’t you think?

“It’s nice to see Scandinavian folk metal bands, especially Finnish bands, are doing well all around the world. I’m proud to be part of this, and it’s nice to see people are loving this kind of music, and getting inspirations from Scandinavian bands for their own music and all their lifestyles.” – Emmi Silvennoinen

Album Review – Ancesttral / Web Of Lies (2016)

A top of the line Thrash Metal album by a passionate and all fired up quartet that wants to show the entire world Brazil has a lot more to offer than just samba and MPB.

ancesttral_frontcoverWhen my good friend Jorge Diaz, host of the awesome Brazilian radio show Timão Metal, asked me if I wanted to write a review for Web Of Lies, the brand new album by Brazilian Thrash/Heavy Metal band Ancesttral, I obviously accepted the task right away. First and foremost, it’s always a pleasure to show the world that “terra brasilis” has a lot more to offer than just samba and MPB in regards to music. Furthermore, Jorge brought to my attention that two members of Ancesttral are huge supporters of our favorite soccer team (and obviously the team that inspired the creation of Timão Metal), the almighty Sport Club Corinthians Paulista. And do you want to know how Web Of Lies sounds? Well, let me tell you it’s goddamn good, just like scoring a beautiful and pivotal goal against your worst archenemies in a decisive soccer match.

Formed in 2003 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, Ancesttral have been on an exciting upward spiral of success since the band’s inception, having already released an EP named Helleluiah in 2005, their debut full-length album The Famous Unknown in 2007, and more recently another EP entitled Bloodshed and Violence in 2012. Now in Web Of Lies not only the band’s old school influences the likes of Metallica, Anthrax, Pantera, Slayer and Testament continue to shine in their music, but there’s also the addition of modern elements from artists such as Godsmack, Disturbed and Rob Zombie, contributing to a fresher sounding while remaining loyal to our good old Thrash Metal, their biggest passion in life (together with Corinthians, of course).

There’s a lot of electricity flowing from the very first second in the opening track, the fantastic What Will You Do?, which sounds like an awesome fusion of Fight, Metallica and Anthrax. Even before lead singer and guitarist Alexandre Grunheidt (who’s by the way absolutely nuts for Corinthians) joins the music with his blazing vocals, lead guitarist Leonardo Brito already fires a flammable mini-solo as the band’s welcome card, leading up to a difficult question: can it get any better than this? The solid and sharp headbanging composition Massacre, inspired by the Carandiru massacre, one of the most hideous slaughters in Brazil’s history, answers that question with its endless aggressiveness and dark lyrics (enhanced by an enfuriated Alexandre on vocal), sounding like a hybrid between some of the classics by Fight and the heaviest tunes by Disturbed; followed by Threat to Society, more modern than the two previous tracks due to the additional elements from bands such as Godsmack and System Of A Down. Furthermore, drummer Denis Grunheidt blasts groovier-than-usual beats, providing the perfect atmosphere for Alexandre and Leonardo to bring forth also more contemporary riffs and solos.

Megadeth-like riffs by Leonardo and more tuneful growls by Alexandre are the main ingredients in the well-crafted chant (and a good choice for their live performances) named You Should Be Dead, where its backing vocals are very effective in increasing the song’s impact on the listener, whereas in the excellent Fight a somber intro led by the obscure bass sounding by Renato Canonico suddenly becomes a merciless neck-breaking tune, presenting elements from old school Thrash Metal as well as from Alternative Metal. Not only that, albeit the vocal lines get more melodious (and consequently less violent), Ancesttral do not give up their usual brutality, being driven in this case by their heavier than hell riffs. And in Nice Day to Die, a Speed Metal composition with hints of Alternative and Nu Metal, the band definitely puts the pedal to the metal in terms of pugnacity, in special the demented vocals by Alexandre (and all backing vocals as well) and the frantic drumming by Denis.

After such amazing devastation, it’s time to slow things down in Pathetic Little Liars, focusing on a darker sounding, something that could have been recorded by Metallica in any of their albums after the 90’s (except of course for the horrendous St. Anger). The only minor issue with this song is that, in my opinion, nothing changes in its four minutes, being quite repetitive after a while. Also groovy and as heavy as hell, Subhuman is another high-quality composition with highlights to the burning riffs and solos by Leonardo, its nonstop beats and an awesome Rob Zombie-inspired performance by Alexandre, all translating into modernized metal music tailored for old school metallers.

ancesttral_2016Then we have one of the most thrilling songs of the album, the title-track Web of Lies, another awesome tune where hints of the sonority by Disturbed become manifest one more time, showcasing how much Ancesttral looks into the future when composing their material, and despite being less thrashy than their customary sounding it’s still awesomely vibrant and resonant. Before the wondrous sonic extravaganza in Web Of Lies is over, Ancesttral show us what happens when Pantera meet Anthrax in the deranged Fire, where metallic riffs build the necessary ambience for Alexandre to spit fire through his incandescent vocals. In addition to that, I bet you’ll start screaming “FIRE!” together with the band while slamming into the pit to the sound of this belligerent tune, and that says it all when the music in question is Thrash Metal. As a bonus, What Will You Do? returns with the same punch as its original version, but this time with a special alternate solo by guest guitarist Rodrigo Flausino, concluding the album almost exactly like it started, which is evidently on a very high note.

The guys from Ancesttral are true workhorses, having invested a shitload of money, time and energy into the making of the album, and playing exhaustively everywhere in Brazil where first-class Heavy Metal is demanded. For instance, take a look at their outstanding performance at Manifesto Rock Bar, in São Paulo, on August 23, 2014 playing three of the new songs (“What Will You Do”, “Threat to Society” and “Web of Lies”) before they were even launched, and you’ll be able to notice how much they nurture a profound passion for all things metal. And in order to provide your honest support to this sensational Brazilian band, go check their Facebook, YouTube, ReverbNation and SoundCloud, and buy your copy of Web Of lies through their online store, the Shinigami Records’ webshop, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and many other locations. Just like Ancesttral do, simply respect your past, live the present, look into the future… E VAI CORINTHIANS!

Best moments of the album: What Will You Do?, Massacre, Fight and Web of Lies.

Worst moments of the album: Pathetic Little Liars.

Released in 2016 Shinigami Records

Track listing
1. What Will You Do? 5:23
2. Massacre 5:10
3. Threat to Society 3:52
4. You Should Be Dead 3:50
5. Fight 5:32
6. Nice Day to Die 2:38
7. Pathetic Little Liars 4:06
8. Subhuman 3:42
9. Web of Lies 3:14
10. Fire 2:52
11. What Will You Do? (Alternate Solo Version) 5:23

Band members
Alexandre Grunheidt – vocals, guitars
Leonardo Brito – lead guitars
Renato Canonico – bass
Denis Grunheidt – drums

Guest musician
Rodrigo Flausino – guitar solo on “What Will You Do? (Alternate Solo Version)”