The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

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Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

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Album Review – Biesy / Noc Lekkich Obyczajów (2017)

Enjoy this concept album about how urban life can separate us from reality and how at the same time it gives us freedom to cross its boundaries, all enfolded by first-class blackened music made in Poland.

“Biesy were born out of everyday working, urban and monotonous realities. The project explores how urban concrete life can separate you from reality, but at the same time enables you to cross its borders. This is not the place for faith – there is no time nor will. During the night people go astray and willingly drown among the masses on the streets. In the morning they fall down to create a passage for everything that is wonderfully common and hideously sincere. However, it is not certain if they even left the room.”

Those poetic words work as a classy introduction to the core essence of Black/Death Metal act Biesy, a brand new project formed in 2014 in Cracow, Poland by lead singer Stawrogin, guitarist, bassist, songwriter and lyricist PR, and drummer Maciej Pelczar. Biesy translates to “fiends” or “demons” from Polish, and from that you can imagine how dark their music should sound in their debut full-length release Noc Lekkich Obyczajów, or “night of weak morals” in English, a concept album about how urban life can separate us from reality and how at the same time it gives us freedom to cross its boundaries, as mentioned above, all enfolded by an ominous and depressive form of extreme music not recommended for the lighthearted. Add to that the concrete gray layout designed by PR himself together with Mentalporn, the menacing logo created by Ihasan, and the fact that all songs are entirely sung (or maybe I should say growled or gnarled) in Polish, and there you have a distinct, full-bodied Extreme Metal ode to everything we love and hate in our concrete jungles.

In the opening track, titled Każdego Dnia (which should translate as “every day”), ominous sounds grow in intensity until the music morphs into the most vile form of Blackened Doom you can think of, with Stawrogin sounding truly demonic on vocals while PR does an amazing job with his mesmerizing guitar lines, resulting in a cold and beautiful display of extreme music that darkly flows into a climatic ending. In W Krew (which should mean something like “in blood”), the power trio switches to a more demolishing mode, blasting a Stygian fusion of Black and Death Metal led by Maciej, who showcases all his skills by delivering both rhythmic and sluggish punches as well as infernal blast beats. In the end, it becomes impossible not to have your heart darkened by this superb hymn. And it seems like peace and happiness are definitely two items you won’t find in the music by Biesy, which is exactly the case in Powroty (or “returns” in English), even more doomed than the two previous songs and with the vociferations by Stawrogin being extremely menacing. Put differently, it’s unhappy, melancholic and visceral Blackened Doom tailored for headbanging until you crack your neck in half.

The second batch of somber sounds by Biesy begins with Czerń Nas Prosi (or “blackness calls us”), the shortest of all tracks, feeling like a satanic invocation with Maciej firing some traditional Doom Metal beats while PR sounds hellish on both guitar and bass, not to mention Stawrogin’s evil gnarls; followed by Rzucony W Przestrzeń (which translates as “thrown into space”), the longest and most obscure of all songs, starting with a deep, enraged roar by Stawrogin. Not only this is a lesson in Extreme Metal where PR is insanely dark on guitars, but its heaviness keeps growing and growing until after around four minutes there’s a creepy intermission that goes on for another four minutes until the trio returns with all their fury and malignancy, with the vocal parts getting more deranged and evil, ending in the most obscure way possible. And if you think you’re safe from Biesy after all that darkness, you’re absolutely wrong, as they have one final onslaught of Black, Death and Doom Metal to disturb your mind and soul, the title-track Noc Lekkich Obyczajów, where Maciej takes his already devilish drumming to a whole new level of dementia accompanied by the lancinating riffs by PR. This fantastic album of extreme music couldn’t have ended in a better way than this, I must say.

In summary, it doesn’t matter if you speak fluent Polish or if you don’t know a single word in this distinct language, Noc Lekkich Obyczajów (which is available for a full stream on YouTube) is definitely worth a shot. What Biesy did in the entire album, uniting the aggressive and damned sounds of Death, Black and Doom Metal with the disorders and unpredictability of life in the city in a sharp and bold manner, deserves our total recognition and respect. You can buy your copy of Noc Lekkich Obyczajów on BandCamp, at the Third Eye Temple webshop or at Discogs, and after finally having the album on your hands, you can add the perfect soundtrack to spend your deranged nights in the city.

Best moments of the album: W Krew and Noc Lekkich Obyczajów.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Third Eye Temple

Track listing
1. Każdego Dnia 5:08
2. W Krew 6:38
3. Powroty 7:06
4. Czerń Nas Prosi 3:51
5. Rzucony W Przestrzeń 11:29
6. Noc Lekkich Obyczajów 7:59

Band members
Stawrogin – vocals
PR – guitars, bass
Maciej Pelczar – drums

Album Review – Motograter / Desolation (2017)

Get “motograted” by the thrilling fusion of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock blasted by this tenacious American outfit.

Do you know what a “motograter” is? If you’re familiar with the fusion of Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock crafted by a relentless American squad known as Motograter, you already known that the “motograter” is a homemade musical instrument designed with industrial cable and guitar pieces that creates a unique bass sound, and by that you can imagine how thunderous their music sounds. Formed in 1995 in Santa Barbara, California, United States, the band (which by the way displays a tribal style body paint for their live concerts) has suffered considerable lineup changes and a few split-ups since their inception, but that didn’t stop the band from keeping on rocking, being reunited once again a few years ago and releasing this year their second full-length album after their 2003 debut self-titled release (featuring Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch on vocals), the hard and heavy Desolation, now with James Legion (Deadform, The Breathing Process) on the vocal duties.

As aforementioned, the reinvigorated Motograter, comprised of the talented James Legion on vocals, Matthew “Nuke” Nunes and Jesse Stamper on guitars, Mylon Guy on bass, Noah “Shark” Robertson on drums and Dustin “Skunk” Anderson on the motograter, will hit you in the face with a feast of alternative and metallic sounds found in their new album, with the artwork designed by Mister-Sam Shearon (who has already worked with renowned bands such as Iron Maiden, Ministry, Rob Zombie and Rammstein, among several others, and also created covers for comic books and graphic novels including Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Judge Dredd and The X-Files) effectively representing the energy and aggressiveness you’ll find throughout the entire album. With that said, are you ready to be “motograted” by this insane metal tribe?

You’ll experience modernity and electricity flowing from the very first second of the opening track Parasite, where Mylon, Noah and Dustin provide their welcome card in the form of thunderous and vibrant background sounds, giving all the necessary support for James to thrive with his vocals in an awesome blend of Hard Rock with Alternative and Nu Metal. Gripping guitar lines kick off another born-to-be-a-hit composition by Motograter, titled Dorian, with Matthew and Jesse slashing our ears with their riffs while Noah keeps the musicality as heavy as it can be with his pounding drums, not to mention the song’s completely addictive chorus that won’t leave your head for a few weeks; and their galvanized, rumbling sounds continue to permeate the atmosphere in Victim, another great sample of their contemporary Alternative Metal led by the ominous vocals by James.

In the excellent Paragon it becomes clear that those American metallers will never get tired of piercing our brains with their rumbling tones and roars, with the motograter going along really well with the song’s guitar riffs and the potent voice by James, being perfect for banging our heads nonstop together with the band due to its modern and thrilling rhythm. Slowing down a bit and sounding less metallic, Bleeding Through is a semi-ballad by this skillful sextet recommended for some radio play, albeit not as dynamic and fun as the rest of the album, followed by Misanthropical, which despite feeling like it’s going to be another ballad, it slowly morphs into an obscure metal chant with the motograter shaking the foundations of the earth, while the infernal duo Noah and Mylon continue to set fire to the music, and with the song’s guttural vocals adding some good amount of fury to the overall result. Daggers keeps the album at a great level of intricacy and stamina in an interesting mix of what’s almost a dark ballad with the heavier sounds of Alternative Metal, with Mathew and Jesse being fantastic on guitars, delivering both smoother and more electrified riffs during the whole song.

The last part of the album begins with Portrait of Decay, a hybrid of the more visceral music by Slipknot with the melody found in bands such as Alter Bridge, therefore becoming another strong candidate to become a radio favorite due to its catchy pace and vocals. Locust sounds and feels more aggressive than most of the album’s previous tracks, with Noah smashing his drums flawlessly while Mylon and Dustin make sure the music remains vibrant at all times (and let’s not forget about its harsh growls, one of the main ingredients that make this tune so amazing). Rise (There Will Be Blood), the second to last tune in Desolation, is one of those songs to jump up and down with the band during their live performances, bringing elements of more alternative bands like Linkin Park to their already potent sonority, followed by Shadows, a decent dark ballad that’s slightly below what Motograter can offer us despite the great job done by James on vocals. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re into modern metal ballads.

In case you feel you’re more than ready to be “motograted” by Motograter, simply follow them on Facebook and listen to their music on YouTube or on Spotify. And if Desolation brings forward all you enjoy in modern metal music, you can buy your copy at the EMP Label Group webstore as a regular CD or as a CD + t-shirt bundle, as well as on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs. Not only Desolation has all elements needed to be a must-have album for admirers of contemporary Alternative Metal, but above all it will definitely help Motograter in solidifying their path in heavy music, and let’s hope the band’s lineup is finally stabilized once and for all and that they keep delivering high-end albums like this one for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Parasite, Dorian, Paragon and Locust.

Worst moments of the album: Bleeding Through and Shadows.

Released in 2017 EMP Label Group

Track listing
1. Parasite 3:46
2. Dorian 3:46
3. Victim 3:30
4. Paragon 4:03
5. Bleeding Through 3:28
6. Misanthropical 3:41
7. Daggers 4:21
8. Portrait of Decay 3:35
9. Locust 3:42
10. Rise (There Will Be Blood) 3:40
11. Shadows 3:18

Band members
James Legion – vocals
Matthew “Nuke” Nunes – guitar
Jesse Stamper – guitar
Mylon Guy – bass
Noah “Shark” Robertson – drums
Dustin “Skunk” Anderson – motograter

Guest musicians
Aleksi Oksa – samples
Justin Fowler, Ahrue Luster & Jon Berrier – additional samples

Album Review – Eshtadur / Mother Gray (2017)

Overflowing rage, despair and electricity, the brand new album by this implacable Colombian act will certainly help the band cement their name in the Extreme Metal underground scene worldwide.

Formed in the fall of 2005 in Pereira, the capital city of the Colombian department of Risaralda, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Eshtadur has been on a roll since their inception, making a name for themselves in all four corners of the world with their unrelenting fusion of extreme sounds in the vein of bands such as At The Gates, Behemoth, Soilwork, Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh, always adding imposing and symphonic elements to their music to make it even more impactful to our ears. For instance, the band has already toured Colombia, Peru and Mexico, they headlined a stage at Rock Al Parque (which is not only the largest rock festival in Colombia and one of the most important in Latin America, but also arguably the largest free rock festival in the continent) in 2016, and they’re getting ready for their first ever US dates and many other festival appearances in the coming months.

Having already released the full-length albums Dominated by Dummies, in 2011, and Stay Away from Evil and Get Close to Me, in 2013, as well as their debut demo Rebellion of Angels, in 2007, and the EP Oblivion, in 2015, the band comprised of Jorg August on vocals and guitars, Alejo Bet on guitars, Victor Valencia on bass and Mauro Marin on drums is effectively expanding their exposure to the metal scene worldwide with their third full-length installment, the excellent Mother Gray, featuring a classy artwork designed by French artist Sylvain (Razorimages), guest guitar solos by Christofer Malmström (Darkane), and an endless amount of electricity and rage flowing from all their instruments, all led by the desperate growls by Jorg.

The heavy and dark guitars by Jorg and Alejo ignite the aggressive opening track Belong To Nowhere, a high-end fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Death and Melodic Death Metal where Mauro sounds possessed with his demonic blast beats while Jorg screams in a rabid and desperate manner throughout the entire song. Building an instant connection with the previous tune, Plaguemaker keeps the menacing aura crafted by the band even stronger, displaying a good balance of guitar lines, growls and potent drumming, while the keyboards in the background give it a Dimmu Borgir-inspired vibe; followed by the Melodic/Symphonic Metal aria Cornered At The Earth, where the band engages in their most sinister mode by deepening their growling and strengthening their beats, culminating in a violent and gripping rhythm boosted by its dark lyrics (“Gray the future and gray the earth / Dust in the soil, foil the religion / And the permanent conclusion of being the one who brings pest /Back to the world”). Whereas the Doom Metal-inspired Desolation brings forward a melancholic intro that slowly grows into an imposing sonority, as heavy and dense as it can be, with some faster moments to keep it fresh and vibrant. Moreover, the desperation flowing from the vocals is outstanding, going on and on until the song’s visceral ending to the sound of deep and putrid roars.

Getting back to a faster and more melodic sounding but still presenting the band’s characteristic symphonic elements, also showcasing fiery guitar riffs and solos as well as total havoc blasted by Mauro’s insane beats, the powerful Time Hole To Paris will certainly generate some sick mosh pits during their live concerts, while in March Of The Fallen we face an epic and somewhat funereal beginning to yet another ominous creation by Eshtadur, an eccentric “waltz” of Dark Metal with its keyboards and vocals taking the obscurity to a whole new level, again presenting more of those putrid gnarls before all is said and done. And as their “formula” seems to be one Stygian song followed by a sonic demolition, it’s time to speed things up again with the high-octane chant The Day After I Die, presenting slashing guitars blended with epic keys and rabid growls, without a single second of peace during its five minutes of sheer devastation.

As the first bonus track added by Eshtadur to Mother Gray, we have another symphonic extravaganza that will attack our senses named Heavens to The Ground (originally released in their 2015 EP Oblivion), with the guitars by Jorg and Alejo and the drumming by Mauro being in absolute sync, while the song’s keys make sure the atmosphere remains eerie for the otherworldly vociferations by Jorg.  The second bonus offered by the band is entitled Last Day Of The Condors, also from their EP Oblivion, sounding slightly similar to its predecessor (in special its guitar and vocal lines), not as tasty but still very enjoyable. And lastly we have a very cohesive, potent and fresh version they recorded in 2014 for Survivor’s hit Burning Heart (check out the original version HERE) featuring guest musicians Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork) and Christopher Clancy (Mutiny Within) on vocals, and Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) and Allan Marcus (Arecibo) on lead guitars. Survivor might be better known by the usual rocker for the all-time Rocky Balboa-classic “Eye of the Tiger”, but this song also represents all the passion Survivor had for rock music, not to mention this cover version is Eshtadur’s own tribute to Survivor’s longtime frontman Jimi Jamison (R.I.P.), who died of a heart attack in September 2014.

If you enjoyed all the fury blasted by Eshtadur in Mother Gray, I highly recommend you go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for more of their kick-ass music, and if you want to purchase Mother Gray (which you can listen in its entirety on Spotify), you can grab your copy of the album at the Bleeding Music Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes, on Amazon, or at several other locations such as Barnes & Noble and ImportCDs. As mentioned in the beginning of this review, Mother Gray overflows rage, despair and energy, and as you’re more than aware of, those are some of the main elements which make us love Heavy Metal so much. In other words, Eshtadur nailed it with Mother Gray, surely making all metalheads in Colombia proud of their music.

Best moments of the album: Belong To Nowhere, Cornered At The Earth and Time Hole To Paris.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Music Records

Track listing
1. Belong To Nowhere 3:27
2. Plaguemaker 4:28
3. Cornered At The Earth 5:01
4. Desolation 6:50
5. Time Hole To Paris 5:21
6. March Of The Fallen 7:32
7. The Day After I Die 5:06

Oblivion/Burning Heart bonus tracks
8. Heavens to The Ground 3:26
9. Last Day Of The Condors 3:15
10. Burning Heart (Survivor cover) 4:33

Band members
Jorg August – vocals, guitars
Alejo Bet – guitars
Victor Valencia – bass
Mauro Marin – drums

Guest musician
Christofer Malmström – guitar solos

Album Review – Sinners Moon / Far Beyond The Stars EP (2017)

What are you waiting for to fly far beyond the stars with the brand new (and extremely fun) EP by this Symphonic Metal squad from Slovakia?

If you’re a fan of the music by bands such as Nightwish, Epica, Sonata Arctica, After Forever and Kamelot, among several others, you’ll be happy to know that an up-and-coming Symphonic Metal band hailing from Sereď, a town in southern Slovak Republic, is back with their imposing sounding in a brand new EP that not only lives up to the legacy of the genre, but that also offers some interesting variations and surprises that keep it truly entertaining from start to finish. I’m talking about Sinners Moon and their EP titled Far Beyond The Stars, another solid step in their recent but already exciting career and a highly recommended option for fans of the fusion of heavy music with operatic vocals and fantasy.

The fact the Sinners Moon managed to keep the exact same lineup (Simona and Derick on vocals, LukeN on guitars, Viktor on bass, Jarthuusen on keyboards and Jan on drums) that recorded their 2015 full-length opus Atlantis also helped the band in maintaining a high level of cohesiveness and dynamism in their new EP. As a matter of fact, one of the most complex songs in Atlantis, the 8-minute aria Fly to the Moon, works as the prequel to the music found in Far Beyond The Stars, proving LukeN and his bandmates are extremely focused when creating the music by Sinners Moon, always trying to give it a purpose and a soul.

The first half of the EP presents the trademark musicality by Sinners Moon, with their metal symphony permeating the air form the very first second in the intro Awakening (The Suite), creating the perfect ambience for the title-track Far Beyond The Stars, an electrifying fusion of Symphonic Metal with the more traditional version of Scandinavian Melodic Metal, where frontwoman Simona delivers her passionate and delicate vocal lines in contrast with Derick’s demonic gnarls. Moreover, LukeN is on fire with his guitar, making a flammable duo with Jarthuusen, and if you love Melodic Metal I’m sure you’ll feel energized by the song’s powerful lyrics (“Reach out your hand for the stars high above / We are hungry to find this world left aside / Please take me there we will fly to the moon / Far beyond all the stars we will touch them together”). Then in the awesome Travelers the rumbling bass by Viktor is quickly joined by Jarthuusen and LukeN, generating an amazing metallic vibe while Jan keeps the song’s pace at a thrilling level. In addition, the guitar riffs fired by LukeN provide Simona all she needs to declaim the song’s beautiful lyrics in a compelling way (“Dreams of love, dreams of life / Somewhere else we gain our hopes / With this heart and these hands / We will build a ourselves a new home / Never give up, never give in on our ways”).

After that blast of Symphonic Metal, the band brings forward two welcome surprises in Far Beyond The Stars, starting with their cover version for Skúsime To Cez Vesmír, which translates as “let’s try it through the universe”, by Slovak 80’s rock band Tublatanka (watch a vibrant live version of Tublatanka playing it in 1989 HERE). Sinners Moon added their own symphonic twist to this excellent rock song, with highlights to the amazing job done by Jan on drums as well as the electrified vocals by Simona. And the second treat of the EP is the opening track Far Beyond The Stars in a smooth and lovely piano-ballad version, with total focus on the beautiful voice of Simona, being the perfect soundtrack for being “captured” in a warm and comforting embrace by the person you love the most.

In summary, after all the epicness and imposing sounds found in Atlantis, it looks like Sinners Moon wanted to take an “alternative break” from all the seriousness that surrounded that album and show fans of heavy music a more relaxed side of the band, and let’s say they nailed it in Far Beyond The Stars, which can be purchased on BandCamp, at the Slovak Metal Army webstore or at Discogs. Also, don’t forget to visit the band’s Facebook page and YouTube channel for more of their top-tier metal music, and if you’re already addicted to their symphonic sounds you should definitely go for the deluxe digital version of the album, including a bonus demo track from their early days (before the lineup was even solidified) titled Dawn Of War, which by the way displays an above average overall production and a high-end sound quality for being just a demo, as well as few bonus featurettes including a special digital EP wallpaper, a digital booklet and a “thank you” note from the band. With that said, what are you waiting for to grab your copy of this fun EP and fly with Sinners Moon far beyond the stars?

Best moments of the album: Travelers and Skúsime To Cez Vesmír.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Slovak Metal Army

Track listing
1. Awakening (The Suite) 1:42
2. Far Beyond The Stars 4:19
3. Travelers 4:10
4. Skúsime To Cez Vesmír (Tublatanka cover) 4:24
5. Far Beyond The Stars (Piano Version) 5:08

Deluxe Digital Version bonus track
6. Dawn Of War (2009 Demo Version) 5:47

Band members
Simona – vocals
Derick – growls
LukeN – guitars
Viktor – bass
Jarthuusen – keyboards
Jan – drums

Concert Review – Trivium & Arch Enemy (The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, 11/07/2017)

Over 1,500 metalheads headed over to Toronto’s Greektown for a flammable night of modern and vibrant contemporary metal music, courtesy of the iconic Arch Enemy and the unstoppable Trivium.

OPENING ACTS: Fit For An Autopsy and While She Sleeps

Although it’s getting colder and colder as the month of November begins to switch from the colors of fall to the monochromatic look of winter, I guess no one can complain about the clear and not-so-chilly weather yesterday in Toronto, turning the night into the perfect occasion to head to The Danforth Music Hall, located at the easternmost side of what’s known as “Greektown”, to watch the fulminant performances by two of the most important bands in contemporary metal music, Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters Arch Enemy and American Heavy Metal troopers Trivium, both promoting their brand new kick-ass albums. Not only that, weeks before the concert all tickets were already sold out, which means we were going to experience around 1,500 metalmaniacs screaming, jumping up and down and slamming into the pit together with the bands. It can’t get any better than this, my friends.

The two bands chosen to warm up the crowd in a night of modern and aggressive heavy music were American Deathcore act Fit For An Autopsy and British Metalcore group While She Sleeps, with FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY being the first to hit the stage at 6:30pm. Formed in 2008 in Jersey City, in the state of New Jersey, United States, the band is supporting Arch Enemy and Trivium during their fall tour by promoting their latest album, titled The Great Collapse, released earlier this year. If Deathcore is your cup of tea, go check The Great Collapse in full on YouTube as their setlist was 2/3 formed of songs from that album, and also watch their official video for Black Mammoth, the closing song of their performance.

Setlist
Hydra
Heads Will Hang
Absolute Hope Absolute Hell
Still We Destroy
Iron Moon
Black Mammoth

Band members
Joe Badolato – vocals
Will Putney – guitar
Patrick Sheridan – guitar
Tim Howley – guitar
Peter Spinazola – bass
Josean Orta – drums

After that good start it was time for WHILE SHE SLEEPS to blast their Metalcore precisely at 7:15pm to all metalheads that were already at the venue (and the ones arriving a little late). Formed in 2006, this Sheffield-based squad is currently promoting their new album You Are We, with their setlist also being almost 100% based on it. New songs like the opening tune You Are We, Silence Speaks, and the closing one Hurricane kept the audience warm enough for the main attractions of the night, with lead singer Lawrence Taylor and bassist Aaran Mckenzie being absolutely on fire from start to finish.

Setlist
You Are We
Civil Isolation
Brainwashed
Feel
Silence Speaks
Hurricane

Band members
Lawrence Taylor – vocals
Sean Long – guitar
Mat Welsh – guitar, vocals
Aaran Mckenzie – bass
Adam Savage -drums

ARCH ENEMY

Finally, after over three long years (the last time the band was in town was in 2014 together with Kreator), Toronto had the pleasure of witnessing another bestial performance by ARCH ENEMY, precisely at 8:05pm (the punctuality of the concerts in Toronto always amazes me), and let me tell you that this time the whole band was even sharper and heavier than last time. Well, let’s say that is most probably due to the fact that in their new album, the excellent Will to Power, Arch Enemy put the pedal to the metal, sounding less melodic and more ruthless, and when their new songs were transferred to the stage the result couldn’t be different than some insane mosh pits, lots of growling and fists and horns in the air.

Frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz (with her always exotic and apocalyptic attire) seemed extremely happy and excited (as expected) to be with Arch Enemy once again in her homeland Canada, saying that it might be difficult for the band to cross the ocean to play in North America, but when they’re able to finally come to Canada and the US, it’s definitely worth it. She said that although she’s originally from Montreal, Quebec, she nurtures a deep passion and respect for Toronto, and the fans responded to that statement with a lot of enthusiasm, banging their heads nonstop to each and every song played by Arch Enemy. As mentioned, the new songs worked extremely well, in special the high-octane Slayer-ish tornado titled The Race, which by the way Alissa said is her favorite of the new album (and mine too), and the classy and groovy Blood in the Water.

Sharlee D’Angelo and Daniel Erlandsson were as precise and competent as usual with their bass and drums, respectively, but I must say it’s impressive how crystal clear, blazing and tuneful the guitars by Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis sounded during their entire performance. Those guys are true BEASTS with their cutting riffs and solos, sounding so perfect to the point you couldn’t tell if they were playing live or if it was the studio version of the songs. Whoever adjusts their instruments prior to the shows is a technical genius, no doubt about that, and if you get to see Arch Enemy live anywhere during this tour simply close your eyes and let each note played by Mr. Amott during the classic instrumental piece Snow Bound penetrate deep into your soul. The only “complaint” I have about their concert was the presence of not-so-exciting songs in their setlist, like Stolen Life, You Will Know My Name and Avalanche, which worked well, I have to admit that, but imagine if they played some of their more obscure and scathing classic tunes, like what happened with Ravenous, Dead Bury Their Dead and especially Nemesis? Well, we’ll have to wait for their next Canadian tour to see what they’ll do to their setlist (and I can’t wait for that).

Setlist
Set Flame to the Night (Intro)
The World Is Yours
Ravenous
Stolen Life
War Eternal
My Apocalypse
Blood in the Water
You Will Know My Name
The Race
The Eagle Flies Alone
As the Pages Burn
Dead Bury Their Dead
We Will Rise
Avalanche
Snow Bound
Nemesis
Enter the Machine (Outro)

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

TRIVIUM

After a short break, where the house DJ played some all-time classics on the speakers such as Iron Maiden’s “The Prisoner” and Motörhead’s “Born to Raise Hell” to keep the momentum created by Arch Enemy going, Orlando-based metallers TRIVIUM took the stage by storm at 9:45pm sharp already with the opening track of their superb new opus, The Sin and the Sentence, the title-track The Sin and the Sentence, which made the crowd explode in awe and ignited some serious mosh pits all over the venue. Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu and Paolo Gregoletto were as electrified and in sync as usual, with Matt leading the fans with his “meme-generator” faces and gestures, but it was newcomer Alex Bent who stole the spotlight. Holy shit, that guy is a relentless killing machine on drums, elevating the band’s already heavy sonority to a whole new level. Needless to say, he played all songs to perfection, in special one of the best of the new album and a serious candidate to become a Trivium classic, the Black Metal-inspired tune Betrayer.

Surprisingly (at least for me), one of the songs with the strongest reaction from fans was Until the World Goes Cold, which is a pretty nice ballad but, let’s be realistic, it’s far from being as awesome as classics like Down From the Sky and Kirisute Gomen. Two of the other songs from The Sin and the Sentence, the radio-friendly The Heart From Your Hate and Thrown Into the Fire, also sounded and felt truly heavy and thrilling, proving once again that Trivium are one of the most effective bands in heavy music when composing both heavier and slower, more melodic songs. Just like what happened with Arch Enemy, I missed a few songs in their setlist, especially some of the more complex tunes from Shogun, but Matt & Co. know what they were doing when they put this setlist together, trying to encompass all of the band’s phases in a little less than one hour and a half.

Last but not least, when the intro Capsizing the Sea started playing we all knew the show was coming to an end, but not before Matt thanked Toronto for another fantastic night of metal, promising to always return to the city with another blast of Trivium music, and asking everyone present at the venue to get down or kneel before one of their biggest classics, if not the biggest of all, In Waves. If you enjoy Slipknot you’ve already seen Corey Taylor and his bandmates do the same during their concerts, and with In Waves that Slipknot-ish formula worked extremely well like a precise time bomb, with all fans jumping up and down like maniacs while bursting their lungs screaming the two words from the song’s name. I guess there wasn’t a single fan that wasn’t eager for more Trivium when the show was over, as both Arch Enemy and Trivium had shorter-than-usual time slots to play for co-headlining the tour, but again, we must learn to be patient and wait for Trivium to get back in town in a not-so-distant future, right? At least Matt promised to be back soon, and we must trust the man.

Setlist
The Sin and the Sentence
Down From the Sky
Betrayer
Until the World Goes Cold
Like Light to the Flies
Rain
Dusk Dismantled
Strife
The Heart From Your Hate
Kirisute Gomen
Thrown Into the Fire

Encore:
Capsizing the Sea (Intro)
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Album Review – Rapheumets Well / Enders Door (2017)

Enjoy the third and final installment of the saga of the Atai in the form of a thirteen-song Sci-Fi opera of Symphonic and Progressive Black Metal.

After the releases of the first and second parts of a trilogy about the complex saga of the Atai (ancient architects), who aid in the propagation of sentient life throughout the multi-verse, those being the full length albums Dimensions, from 2014, and The Exile, from 2016, American Symphonic/Progressive Black Metal warriors Rapheumets Well return now in 2017 with the third and final installment of this musical saga, Enders Door, a thirteen-song science fantasy opera in the form of Symphonic Metal. Although this relentless North Carolina-based squad suffered a few lineup changes from their previous release, such as the departure of lead singer Tripp King (being replaced by the insanely talented growler Jeb Laird), their music remains bold, visceral and ominous, perfect to give a climatic ending to such compelling story.

And do you want to know what happens in Enders Door while the entire band is kicking some serious ass with their flammable instruments? Well, this is what Rapheumets Well will tell you: in the fifth era of the Avomenian Empire, amidst the planetary ruins of Vaath, a rogue traveler would discover an artifact that would forever change his place in the cosmos. Upon arriving to retrieve the artifact, it became apparent that Eryos’ brother Nathyiem would never make it to their arranged meeting point.  In departing from the planet Vaath, Eryos received a distress signal from his brother’s ship, coming from an uncharted planet.  Upon arriving, he found an odd world inhabited by a mysterious species called the Dreth led by lecherous matriarch named Eishar.  It is here that he would uncover a faced-door, an inter-dimensional gateway to the Ender.

In the opening track, titled The Traveler, we face an eerie, cinematic start to the album, transporting us to the world of Rapheumets Well by blending the finesse of keyboards and choir with devastating blast beats, before Jeb begins growling like a beast; followed by Distress on the Aberrant Planet, where the brutality led by the band’s mastermind Joshua “Nasaru” Ward on drums is effectively complemented by the keyboards by Annette Greene, while guitarists Brett Lee and Hunter Ross make sure they add the world “metal” to the music. The Autogenous Extinction offers the listener more demolishing, ominous sounds crafted by this unstoppable band, resulting in high-end Symphonic Black Metal with hints of Blackened Death Metal for admirers of the music by Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth, with Annette bringing balance to the sonic havoc with her smooth vocals. And in Secrets of the Demigods we’re treated to another great “duel” between Annette and Joshua, a true clash of delicate vocals and bestial beats, all embraced by a dark and dense background enhanced by classic guitar riffs and solos.

Then we have one of the longest and most complex of all tracks, Lechery Brought the Darkness, with its semi-acoustic intro suddenly exploding into sheer Symphonic Black Metal, with the paradox of voices between Annette with her angelic vocals and Jeb with his rabid gnarls sounding incredible from start to finish; and the title-track Enders Door, a fantastic tune showcasing a phantasmagorical background, extreme violence flowing form Joshua’s drums, and crushing guitar lines by both Brett and Hunter, perfectly depicting the traveler’s quest in the form of top-tier metal. In Prisoner of the Rift, they keep a menacing aura upon us with a fusion of Symphonic Metal with acoustic and even folk elements, creating a unique sonority led by the gentle voice of Annette, whereas The Diminished Strategist kicks off in full force, being an amazing representation of modern and intense Black Metal. Furthermore, the song’s keyboards sound mesmerizing when combined with the clean vocals by both Annette and Joshua, with the huge amount of progressiveness added to the music amidst all the sonic chaos going on resulting in an eccentric music voyage.

Nastarian Waltz works as a whimsical bridge to the imposing and epic Ghost Walkers Exodus, where Joshua continues to impress on drums with his nonstop beats and fills in a flawless combination of progressiveness, symphonic elements and the most devastating form of Black Metal. Put differently, this song alone sounds so complete it is already worth the investment on the album. On the other hand, Killing the Colossus, despite being another solid creation by Rapheumets Well, is not as gripping as the other songs of the album. Its guitars and keyboards in a dark sync help boost the song’s taste though, not to mention the obscure vociferations by Jeb. Lastly, after a piano-guided atmospheric bridge titled Eishar’s Lament, it’s time for the closing track of the album, the sinister Unveiling the Sapient, with Joshua once again pulverizing everything and everyone with his drums while Brett and Hunter deliver some Technical Death Metal-inspired guitar lines and solos, culminating in a sensational conclusion for this awesome Sci-Fi story.

What are you waiting for to dive into the metallic world of Rapheumets Well? You can buy your copy of Enders Door at the Test Your Metal Records’ BandCamp or Big Cartel, as well as on iTunes or Amazon, and remember you can also get online the first two installments of this heavy and gripping trilogy, such as HERE and HERE. I honestly don’t know what’s next for Rapheumets Well, if they’ll start a new trilogy with a whole different story, if they’ll release a regular album, or maybe even release a prequel to this existing trilogy. One thing is certain: no matter what their next step is, we can rest assured Joshua and his bandmates will certainly blow our minds once again with their multi-layered metal music.

Best moments of the album: Distress on the Aberrant Planet, Enders Door and Ghost Walkers Exodus.

Worst moments of the album: Killing the Colossus.

Released in 2017 Test Your Metal Records

Track listing
1. The Traveler 4:39
2. Distress on the Aberrant Planet 3:57
3. The Autogenous Extinction 4:45
4. Secrets of the Demigods 4:40
5. Lechery Brought the Darkness 6:39
6. Enders Door 6:35
7. Prisoner of the Rift 2:58
8. The Diminished Strategist 5:36
9. Nastarian Waltz 1:13
10. Ghost Walkers Exodus 5:41
11. Killing the Colossus 5:58
12. Eishar’s Lament 1:18
13. Unveiling the Sapient 7:21

Band members
Jeb Laird – lead vocals
Annette Greene – clean vocals, keyboards
Brett Lee – guitar
Hunter Ross – guitar
Joshua “Nasaru” Ward – drums, clean vocals

Album Review – Trivium / The Sin and the Sentence (2017)

Fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams. That’s the formula for best metal album of the year.

Finally, after two somewhat controversial albums (the technically excellent but not unanimous Vengeance Falls, from 2013, and the extremely tiresome Silence In The Snow, from 2015), Orlando-based Heavy Metal fighters Trivium are back on track with what’s probably going to be the best metal album for most critics and fans worldwide, the sharp, dynamic and vibrant The Sin and the Sentence. This amazing release (the eight studio album in their solid career) features everything you learned to love in the music by Trivium, such as fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics and, above all, the return of the band’s mastermind Matt Heafy’s screaming vocals, by far the most important element that makes The Sin and the Sentence a million light-years better than Silence In The Snow.

Not only Matt’s enraged growls are back, but it seems that the band has at long last found the perfect drummer for their music, the talented Alex Bent (Battlecross, Brain Drill, Dragonlord), who replaced drummer Paul Wandtke, and as soon as you hit play you’ll be able to clearly see the humongous difference Alex makes to their sound. In addition, another interesting thing in The Sin and the Sentence is that the album wasn’t going to be called this way if it wasn’t for the cover art and design done by Matt’s wife, Ashley Heafy, with whom he’s married since January 2010. In a recent interview, Matt stated that the working title for the album was The Revanchist and that the album was going to have gold and neon colors; however, those plans were changed once Ashley presented the band with symbols for each accompanying song, and from there The Sin and the Sentence was born.

The opening track, The Sin and the Sentence, kicks off in full force, with newcomer Alex showing us all the wonders a high-skilled drummer can do to a band. This born-to-be-a-classic tune is extremely addictive and as heavy as hell, with an inspired (and recovered) Matt simply kicking fuckin’ ass on vocals; and it seems that no matter how their music sounds, Matt & Co. definitely know how to craft beautiful lyrics (“I saw the dagger eyes staring back at me / I knew I’d never have a chance to bleed / Guilty, but in the sight of fallen men / They bury you before you speak / (The sin and the sentence)”). Then blending Death, Groove, Progressive and even Black Metal in an aggressive but very melodic manner, Beyond Oblivion, a technical tune that lives up to the band’s legacy, showcases fun, uprising backing vocals in sync with the rumbling sound of the bass by Paolo Gregoletto, not to mention their once again hypnotizing lyrics (“These shadows sleep so soundly / Appalled, he now averts his eyes / Disgraced, he felt so empty / Entrusting us with our demise”). And Other Worlds feels closer to what they did in the albums In Waves and Silence in the Snow by focusing on the clean vocals by Matt, while Corey Beaulieu and Matt deliver sharp and very harmonious guitar lines and solos, presenting hints of modern Hard Rock in its rhythm.

The second single of the album, The Heart from Your Hate, is another great example of how Trivium can adapt from being a truly heavy machine to a more radio-friendly band, presenting a catchy chorus that goes along really well with the song’s main riff; whereas Betrayer can be considered the most visceral and electrifying of all tracks in the album, a full-bodied, intricate composition that brings several elements from the band’s first (and more ferocious) albums. Furthermore, do you also think the guitars sound a lot like the classic riffage by Black Metal titans Emperor, one of Matt’s favorite bands of all time? Anyway, in The Wretchedness Inside, a song to bang your head like a maniac, Paolo sounds thunderous on bass, with the song’s overall rhythm reminding me of the most recent albums by Slipknot mixed with Trivium’s In Waves sounding. And, as usual, Matt provides us another blast of top-notch lyrics (“Submerged in dirt but it was never enough / To quell the fire in the back of my lungs / My bones are aching and my head is a mess / They said to run but I’m obsessed with the madness”). As a side note, this song was actually taken from a demo Matt ghostwrote for a different band in 2014; the song was never used though, so Trivium simply re-recorded it for The Sin and the Sentence. The following track, titled Endless Night, feels like some songs from Vengeance Falls, again with a higher focus on Matt’s clean vocals, also bringing hints of Hard Rock to their heavy sonority. Moreover, the sound of bass guitar, which by the way is simply fantastic the whole album, ends up boosting the impact of this specific tune considerably.

Sever the Hand is a first-class composition that can be divided in two distinct pieces, the first presenting a more melodic, smoother musicality, while the second brings all Trivium’s fury, in special the precise beats by Alex, the demonic riffage by Matt and Corey, and Matt’s sick growling. More obscure but still heavy and metallic, Beauty in the Sorrow displays gripping guitars by Matt and Corey (as well as one of the best guitar solos of the whole album), again bringing hints of traditional Black Metal in its riffs; whereas The Revanchist, one of Trivium’s most progressive songs of their past few albums and the longest in The Sin and the Sentence, brings forward powerful, metallic bass lines that will punch you in the head while Matt tells the story in a solid and entertaining manner, not to mention how Alex yet again steals the spotlight with his bestial, rhythmic drumming. Lastly, Thrown into the Fire is a song that showcases all elements from most of Trivium’s phases, not to mention how superb Matt’s screams sound. With the insane beats by Alex dictating the song’s rhythm, the final result is furious and harmonious just the way we love it, ending this awesome album in a brutal, vile and piercing way.

After listening to The Sin and the Sentence, do you also agree with me it will most probably be the best metal album of 2017? Let’s face it, there are tons of amazing albums launched this year, like the new ones from Kreator, Mastodon and Accept, but the new installment by Trivium is by far the most complete, creative and exciting of all (at least for me). Well, even if you think another album (or maybe albums) is better than The Sin and the Sentence, it’s still worth the investment, so go grab your favorite version of it at the Warner Music webstore, and don’t miss Matt & Co. when they take your city by storm in the coming months. And, obviously, let’s hope the band keeps the momentum going for years to come in the same awesome vein as they just delivered us all with The Sin and the Sentence.

Best moments of the album: The Sin and the Sentence, Betrayer, Sever the Hand and Thrown into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. The Sin and the Sentence 6:23
2. Beyond Oblivion 5:17
3. Other Worlds 4:50
4. The Heart from Your Hate 4:04
5. Betrayer 5:27
6. The Wretchedness Inside 5:32
7. Endless Night 3:38
8. Sever the Hand 5:26
9. Beauty in the Sorrow 4:31
10. The Revanchist 7:17
11. Thrown into the Fire 5:29

Japanese Edition bonus track
12. Pillars of Serpents ’17 (re-recorded version) 5:03

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Concert Review – Helloween (Espaço das Américas, São Paulo, Brazil, 10/29/2017)

What we once thought was unlikely to happen became reality and, my friends, it was one HELL of a night!

Have you ever imagined seeing Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen and Andi Deris together on the same stage? Yes, I know, we have seen Kiske and Hansen together with Unisonic before, we have seen Kiske singing HELLOWEEN classics beautifully, we have seen Hansen as a special guest on Helloween concerts, but the three pieces together feel so right that it is hard to think how it hasn’t happened before. The Pumpkins United World Tour is real now, it’s a huge celebration to the band’s legacy and I am not afraid to say that this is one of the most amazing tours of this year!

This tour was announced a year ago and the first date confirmed was in São Paulo (although the tour actually started in Mexico). I have got to say Brazilians love Helloween, tickets were sold out in a blink of an eye and the band announced a second date – again sold out. We were also informed that these two concerts were going to be recorded to a near future release in DVD, so we couldn’t be more excited. Unfortunately, guitarist Roland Grapow wasn’t invited to join the band on this historical moment (according to himself), which is really a shame.

Without an opening act, Helloween went straight to the point and got the party started at 7:30pm at the Espaço das Américas venue with the iconic Halloween, with Deris and Kiske singing together. This was enough to make 8,000 grown adults sing loud, smile, cry, jump, put their hands in the air, fall on their knees and thank for being there (I am not exaggerating, Brazilian fans are really this passionate and intense). After the song, both vocalists thanked all the fans and Deris remembered that 10 years ago they recorded a live album and DVD in São Paulo (Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy World Tour 2005/2006) because Brazilian fans were the loudest in the world, so they wanted to do it again. The duo also introduced us to their two friends, Doc and Seth, the funny animated pumpkins on the screen who were responsible for “choosing” the night’s setlist, focusing on classics but also giving a space to songs released after the 2000s.

Photos by Leandro Anhelli – http://www.anhelli.com.br/

It was incredible to see Kiske and Deris singing side by side but the night wasn’t only about them. Kai Hansen, Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner were playing heavier and louder than ever, and in perfect harmony. Weikath was in his usual “low profile mode” on his corner of the stage, but as technical and impressive as always, while Hansen and Gerstner were moving all the time along the stage and interacting with the fans in the front row. Markus Grosskopf smiled all the time and alongside Dani Löble didn’t miss one beat at all. The whole team was clearly happy and connected.

When it was time for Hansen to take over the microphone on a medley of Starlight, Ride the Sky, Judas and Heavy Metal (Is the Law), the PA system died not once, but twice. On the first time, the musicians took some minutes to notice as the crowd kept singing in support as if nothing wrong was happening, until a sound technician came in to the stage and asked them to stop. They left and after some minutes Hansen apologized and said they were going to start over. When the sound failed for the second time, they left the stage for a little longer, 20 minutes or so, which made us think of a worst case scenario like a cancellation or something. Luckily, the team managed to fix everything and the band could hit the stage for Kai’s moment to shine.

Photos by Leandro Anhelli – http://www.anhelli.com.br/

Right after that, Deris and Kiske returned to the stage. Kiske joked that in all these years they have seen many things on the road, but never a PA that failed twice. Then, they gave the fans a moment to calm down a bit. Deris said it was a moment for a ballad, especially for the girls (he said the same thing before when they played If I Could Fly) and they made a beautiful duo singing Forever and One (Neverland); however, Kiske mentioned guys also love ballads, and all the fans shouted a loud “YEAAAH” in response.

There is no such thing as an ordinary concert for Helloween and they even know how to make a drum solo an emotional moment. Lights out on stage, Dani started with some beats and then images of a happy and precise Ingo Schwichtenberg – the original drummer, dead in 1995 at the age of 29 – were projected on the screen. Dani started to follow Ingo’s beats as if they both were on a very technical drums battle. It ended up with Ingo “playing alone” and many of us crying, clapping and shouting his name in a very loving tribute. It’s worth to mention that on the previous night the screen didn’t work for some time and unfortunately the fans couldn’t see such beautiful moment.

Power, How Many Tears, Eagle Fly Free, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Future World and I Want Out made a killer final sequence, with KOT7K being the highlight of the show undoubtedly. After 3 amazing hours the show was over, but we had energy left for more. Some great songs were left out of the setlist, including the recently released single Pumpkins United, but well, that’s okay. And despite the technical difficulties, I did not see one single person complaining; quite the contrary, everybody went back home with a big smile on their faces, and that feeling of being part of something really awesome and unique. To finish this review, if I can leave a piece of advice for you all, my metalhead friends, I’d say: please go see this concert if Helloween come to your town/country on this very special tour! You will remember this amazing night forever with a smile on your face and possibly tears of joy in your eyes.

Setlist
Intro: Let Me Entertain You (Robbie Williams song)
Halloween (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Dr. Stein (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
I’m Alive (with Michael Kiske)
If I Could Fly (with Andi Deris)
Are You Metal? (with Andi Deris)
Rise and Fall (with Michael Kiske)
Waiting for the Thunder (with Andi Deris)
Perfect Gentleman (with Andi Deris)
Starlight / Ride the Sky / Judas / Heavy Metal (Is the Law) (with Kai Hansen)
Forever and One (Neverland) (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
A Tale That Wasn’t Right (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
I Can (with Andi Deris)
Drums Solo (Dani Löble & Ingo Schwichtenberg ‘battle’) – Ingo Tribute
Livin’ Ain’t No Crime / A Little Time (with Michael Kiske)
Why? (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Sole Survivor (with Andi Deris)
Power (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
How Many Tears (with Andi Deris, Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen)
Eagle Fly Free (with Michael Kiske)
Keeper of the Seven Keys (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Future World (with Michael Kiske)
I Want Out (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)

Band members
Andi Deris – vocals
Michael Kiske – vocals
Kai Hansen – vocals, guitars
Michael Weikath – guitars
Sascha Gerstner – guitars
Markus Grosskopf – bass
Dani Löble – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Dagny Susanne

Malice, come closer to me!

The month of November in the Northern Hemisphere is always a synonym to colder temperatures and darker days, a sign that winter is coming and that all the happiness and warmth of the summer are long gone and will take even longer to return. Having said that, there’s nothing better than listening to some old school, menacing Scandinavian Black Metal to “celebrate” the Stygian season that’s about to begin, especially if it’s the Black Metal crafted by our metal chick this month, the multi-talented Swedish Valkyrie known as Dagny Susanne, the mastermind behind the top-notch extreme music project Nachtlieder. By the way, Nachtlieder is German for “night songs” or “songs of the night”. Do I need to say more?

Born on September 9, 1986 in Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden, situated in the province of Lapland, but currently residing in the multi-cultural Swedish city of Gothenburg where she moved about a decade ago, Dagny Susanne (whose real full name is Karin Dagny Susanne Hansson) mentioned she never had any friends who were into heavy music nor could buy any albums in her hometown because there wasn’t a record store there at that time, being “forced” to download music using Napster with a modem, which obviously made her discovery of metal painfully slow. Furthermore, growing up in Kiruna affected her personality and the way she currently sees things both in good and bad ways, but her interest in metal, in meeting musicians and starting a band motivated her to move to Gothenburg. However, nowadays Dagny feels a little nostalgic when talking about her beloved Kiruna, saying that not only it’s a beautiful and serene place, but it also inspires you to work, clearing your head and putting you in a good state of mind due to its calmness and distance from bigger cities like Gothenburg and Stockholm. For instance, just to give you an idea of how isolated Kiruna is, Luleå, the biggest town in the same region, is nothing more, nothing less than three hours away from it.

Since 2008, Dagny has been embellishing the world of extreme music with her Black Metal outlet Nachtlieder, being responsible for the songwriting, the lyrics, all vocal parts and pretty much all other instruments except for the drums, played in almost all her releases by her longtime friend Martrum (also known as Dödsdyrk, from bands such as Minion and Wicked). After the release of two demos in 2009 and a promo album in 2010, Dagny and her Nachtlieder became a much bolder and intense entity after unleashing upon humanity the full-length albums Nachtlieder, in 2013, and more recently The Female of the Species, in 2015, with the latter having the Biblical character of Eve, the female of the species, as the central character in the album’s narrative as mentioned in our review for the album. However, the original idea of the album was taken from the book “The Female of the Species”, by American writer Joyce Carol Oates, a collection of novellas about women committing different acts of violence for various reasons, slightly changing to the narrative about Eve after Dagny began to reference the phenomenon of “Satanic feminism” where Satan, a symbol for liberation, is also used as a feminist icon in her lyrics. In addition, Dagny said that, as she used to work in a public library, she reads a lot and that has a significant influence on her lyrics (but not on her music, thought), starting with small text fragments before coming up with what the lyrics should be about.

If you want to take a good listen at the music by Dagny and her Nachtlieder, I highly recommend you go to BandCamp, YouTube or Spotify to do so, being suddenly embraced by her visceral Black Metal such as in the excellent songs Eve, Beyond Death, Leave the View To the Rats and A Meager Escapism. The only “issue” with Natchlieder is that you won’t be able to find any live material or footage online, as Dagny hasn’t been able to form a full-bodied band yet. She obviously wants to perform live some time, but there are a few barriers to that such as the availability of musicians in her circle of friends that would be willing to play her music, and if those musicians would be reliable enough to replicate her music to an acceptable level to her.

Prior to becoming Nachtlieder, our Swedish black metaller was the bass player for Gothenburg-based Death/Black/Thrash Metal band Wicked from 2006 to 2010, having recorded with them a demo titled Chaos in 2007, the single Gospel of Sickness in 2009 and the split album Abominations, Chaos and Bestial Warfare in 2009 together with the bands Adokhsiny, Land of Hate, Надимач and Wargoatcult. She mentioned that she learned a lot from that time as it was her first extreme band, in special about arrangements and the role of the bass guitar in a band. The band unfortunately disbanded after their lead singer moved out of town with his family, but all three members are still friends and try to meet as much as possible whenever they’re in the same city. Apart from Wicked and obviously Nachtlieder, you can find Dagny in a couple of bands and projects as a guest musician, being the bassist and guitarist for the 2016 album Winds of Transilvania, by American/Swedish Black Metal project Nattsvargr (led by American vocalist Noctir); and doing some vocals and violin for a German Ambient Black/Doom Metal band named Black Autumn.

Dagny also has a very interesting (and obviously strong) connection with Black Metal from her homeland, having discovered the genre in her teens and consequently listening to Swedish bands for hours and hours, in special her favorite of all, Dissection. For instance, she mentioned that Dissection’s first gig after guitarist, vocalist and main songwriter Jon Nödtveidt (R.I.P.) got out of prison was the first big concert she ever went to. When asked about the general concept of cold and dark winter days being the reason why Scandinavian Metal is so unique, our Swedish diva said that there are of course bands that succeeded in portraying the extreme conditions and contrasts that exist in the northern parts of Scandinavia through their music, but that you can also see a significant difference between the metal scene in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Furthermore, when asked what defines Black Metal as a genre, Dagny said that when she wrote her bachelor in musicology about Black Metal she tried to identify the elements that define the music, finding that certain intervals were used both in chord progressions and melodies, therefore making Black Metal a music style for her no matter what the lyrical content is. For example, she said that if Black Metal is all about Satanism as several people think, then a band like Immortal, one of the biggest and most influential exponents of the genre, wouldn’t be Black Metal.

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As usual, I love to know about our metal girls’ opinions about women and sexism in the metal universe, and Dagny has a strong position about those topics, especially for playing a music style vastly dominated by men. First of all, she mentioned that gender isn’t the only thing that matters, citing other details such as age, profession, place of birth and residence and ethnicity, among others, as reasons why different people doing the exact same thing will certainly receive very distinct feedback from the society. However, she said she has already faced some not-so-subtle sexist comments directly to her face such as “chicks can’t play”, as well as the feeling of not being fully respected by guys whenever she was the only woman in the group. In addition, she said that although she doesn’t know for sure why the number of one-woman Black Metal bands is extremely low compared to one-man Black Metal projects, she feels that it might be due to the different networks between men and women and the conscious and subconscious differences in social sex. “From the day we’re born we’re not encouraged to do the same things and this includes the music we should listen to and perform and the instruments we should play”, said Dagny. Also, she thinks the well-established expression “’female-fronted metal” (which I confess I end up using quite often i my reviews and discussions) doesn’t really make sense at all, like the term “female vocals” instead of “clean vocals” when the singer is not a man, and that applies to Nachtlieder as very few people would associate those expressions with the type of music she plays.

As any musician in our modern-day society, Dagny also has to deal with illegal downloads of her music, but she doesn’t see those as a huge threat to music in general as many others do. She said that the biggest trouble for artists like her concerning illegal downloading is that they can’t keep track of their listeners, and knowing who her listeners are and that there are people out there who appreciate her music is always a boost to her creative process. She thinks that people who can afford it should prioritize paying for their music consumption, and the ones who can’t pay for it should at least be part of an informal “marketing campaign” by sharing the bands’ Facebook and BandCamp pages, leaving positive comments on YouTube, among other small but meaningful acts. The only thing that really bothers her in this case is when an album leaks before the release date, as she finds that really disrespectful towards the hardworking labels and artists. Furthermore, Dagny also considers the way music is shared by fans on the internet extremely positive for independent artists like herself, saying that for example fan initiatives like the Facebook community Death Metal Girls and the YouTube series The Female Vocalists of Extreme Music are great options for headbangers who want to broaden their knowledge of female artists in metal.

Lastly, one might think that a musician like Dagny, coming from the northernmost part of Sweden and playing the ominous Black Metal by Nachtlieder, must draw most or all of her inspiration in the night, but in reality that’s not what happens to her during her creative process. Dagny said she’s inspired by her instrument and what she’s playing at the moment, with the calm and relaxed feeling from the middle of the night being of course something she loves but that due to her working schedule is not something she can fully enjoy anymore. For instance, one of my favorite songs from The Female of the Species, the fantastic Nightfall, was written at night and had parts of its lyrics inspired by the first part in the Arnold Schoenberg opera Pierrot Lunaire, also known as “Moonstruck Pierrot”. I guess everyone reading this tribute to Dagny has already gotten “moondrunk” in life, feeling dizzy or lightheaded after staying awake for an entire night, but of course very few of us are capable of delivering such vibrant and captivating music by ourselves like this high-skilled woman who left her hometown, the distant city of Kiruna, to conquer the world of extreme music with her undisputed, raw and totally awesome Black Metal.

Nachtlieder’s Official Facebook page
Nachtlieder’s Official YouTube channel
Nachtlieder’s Official BandCamp page

“My own purpose with feminism is not to blame the trouble in the world on a specific group of people, but to raise the questions. Make people think about how they treat others and why. It’s all about recognizing human value, in the metal scene, but most of all outside of it. I’m certainly responsible too and no one is without flaws. We’re all products of the societies we live in.” – Dagny Susanne

Album Review – Arch Enemy / Will to Power (2017)

A good balance between the classic days of the band with the more modern path they decided to venture after the arrival of frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz. But please, they need to stay away from clean vocals.

Will to Power, the tenth studio album by Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy, might be far from being a masterpiece, but at least in my humble opinion it’s a considerable improvement from their previous installment, the uninspired War Eternal, released in 2014. The first Arch Enemy album to feature guitarist Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, Conquering Dystopia) as well as clean singing as lead vocals, Will to Power presents a good balance between the classic days of the band with Angela Gossow on vocals with the more modern path they decided to venture after the arrival of frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz, with each song having its own soul and purpose on the album.

Although Jeff definitely brought a new dynamism to the music by Arch Enemy after joining the band in 2014, I guess it was the departure of Nick Cordle that same year that had the most positive impact on the songwriting by Michael Amott, who seems to have gotten rid of the damaging “generic” virus that infested his music in War Eternal. Furthermore, another nice touch in Will to Power is the album’s stylish and meaningful cover art, designed by American artist Alex Reisfar. “The human skull as a central focal point, the flesh sort of falling off into the circular pattern. The snake ouroboros weaving in and out of the mouths and throats of the severed heads of a wolf, a goat and a vampire bat… All representing self-determination and a predatory, almost parasitic will to power”, explained Mr. Amott, and as the music progresses in the album you’ll realize how powerful the art is and how much it enhances the impact of the whole album.

Set Flame to the Night is a classy intro perfect for their live performances, warming up the listener for the high-octane anthem The Race, my favorite song of the album, where Alissa and drummer Daniel Erlandsson take the lead with their wicked growls and unstoppable beats, respectively, violently questioning the dangerous direction our society is taking (“I heard there was a race / Where we’re all one race / Color, gender, age never could dictate / I saw there was a time / When we valued all life / Nobody oppressed, everyone had rights / Suddenly, in an age where the distance between us is binary / All we see, is an internal war friendly fire in the sky and respect on the floor”). Less intense and more melodic, Blood in the Water, another fantastic choice for their live concerts, transpires old school Arch Enemy with a pinch of their contemporary creations, with the flawless guitar duo comprised of Michael and Jeff being absolutely on fire, blasting slashing riffs and solos throughout the whole song. And in The World Is Yours we face more insane riffs by Michael and Jeff, not to mention the always awesome keys by guest musician Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) and the song’s sing-along, catchy chorus (“If you want the world / Use your mind / Take control / Feel the strength / Rise from within / If you really want it the world is yours”).

One of the first tracks in Will to Power to be revealed, The Eagle Flies Alone, is not as gripping as the rest of the album despite its powerful lyrics, with Alissa showcasing a good vocal performance, though, as well as the good job done by Michael and Jeff on the guitars; followed by Reason to Believe, which really feels like if Arch Enemy meets The Agonist as it’s the first ever Arch Enemy song with lead clean vocals in almost its entirety (with some growls added to make it less cheesy). It’s indeed a power ballad that might make their newer fans happy, but it’s unfortunately too generic compared to what they’re capable of. Not even Michael’s own brother, ex-Arch Enemy guitarist Christopher Amott, is capable of saving it from being tiresome. On the other hand, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo kicks off the dark and belligerent tune Murder Scene, where Alissa sounds truly enraged adding even more electricity to the song’s already boisterous rhythm. Put differently, it’s top-notch Melodic Death Metal with hints of traditional Death Metal, with highlights to the superb job done by both Michael and Jeff with their fiery strings; whereas First Day in Hell, the most ominous of all songs, brings forward a neck-breaking main riff boosted by Alissa’s obscure, deep gnarls and screams, and as the story being told evolves you’ll feel your soul getting darker and darker.

Then we have the instrumental bridge Saturnine, shaping up the sonority for the multi-layered and gripping Dreams of Retribution, a Melodic Death Metal feast that brings together the past, present and future of the band, with its guitars and bass being in total sync while Daniel adds progressiveness to the musicality and Jens once again kicks ass with his spot-on keyboard notes. The second to last song of the regular version of the album, titled My Shadow and I, is another violent creation by Arch Enemy, sounding slightly less inspired than some of the previous songs but still above average, mainly due to the intricacy found in drums and bass lines. Finally, A Fight I Must Win might be slower than most songs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cohesive, piercing and metallic, representing almost to perfection the path Arch Enemy has been following with their latest albums, closing Will to Power in a strong way. Actually, if you go for the limited edition digipak, you’ll be treated to their cover for English Street Punk band Charged GBH’s 1982 song City Baby Attacked by Rats (you can listen to the original version HERE), an amazing version by Michael, Alissa & Co. that’s definitely worth the investment in the special edition of the album.

Overall, Will to Power is a pretty decent album by Michael and his crew, being recommended for all fans of modern Melodic Death Metal. After listening to the album for the very first time, I had some mixed feelings about some of the songs, while others (the ones where clean vocals where pretty much nonexistent) hit me in a very positive manner right from the first second, proving that, at least to my ears and my heart, Arch Enemy still got it and can deliver high-end metal music if they want to. I honestly believe the best thing the band can do right now is to stay away from the idea that clean vocals are a good addition or variation to their music, because in the end that’s certainly not what made this band so relevant and admired in Heavy Metal. I’m not saying Alissa is not a good singer when using her clean voice; quite the contrary, she’s an incredible vocalist, but Arch Enemy are a synonym to rebelliousness and anger, things that can only be represented by some high dosages of rabid screams and deep guttural growls.

Best moments of the album: The Race, Blood in the Water, Murder Scene and Dreams of Retribution.

Worst moments of the album: The Eagle Flies Alone and Reason to Believe.

Released in 2017 Century Media

Track listing
1. Set Flame to the Night (instrumental) 1:18
2. The Race 3:15
3. Blood in the Water 3:55
4. The World Is Yours 4:53
5. The Eagle Flies Alone 5:15
6. Reason to Believe 4:47
7. Murder Scene 3:50
8. First Day in Hell 4:48
9. Saturnine (instrumental) 1:09
10. Dreams of Retribution 6:40
11. My Shadow and I 4:05
12. A Fight I Must Win 6:37

Limited Edition Digipak bonus track
13. City Baby Attacked by Rats (Charged GBH cover) 2:48

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

Guest musicians
Jens Johansson – keyboards on “The World Is Yours”, “Saturnine” and “Dreams of Retribution”
Christopher Amott – guitars & keyboards on “Reason to Believe”