About Gustavo Scuderi

"If I could survive to live one more time I wouldn't be changing a thing at all Done more in my life than some do in ten I'd go back and do it all over again..."

Album Review – Hvalross / Cold Dark Rain (2020)

Rocking since they were teenagers in punk, metal, prog and rock bands, this fantastic Dutch four-piece act is ready to kick some ass armed with their electrifying debut opus.

Rocking since they were teenagers in punk, metal, prog and rock bands, Roosendaal, Netherlands-based Hard Rock/Stoner Metal act Hvalross, which is by the way the Norwegian word for “walrus” (and don’t ask me why they opted for such distinct name for their band), was born in 2018 after lead singer Gerben van Oosterhout, guitarist Barry Veeke, bassist Maarten Vermeulen and drummer Tristan de Rijk decided to end their three-year musical break to make great hard rocking music together. Heavily influenced by bands such as Mastodon, Judas Priest, Gojira, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, but of course with their own Dutch twist, Hvalross have just unleashed upon humanity their debut album, entitled Cold Dark Rain, offering fans of Doom, Stoner and Southern Metal a very good reason for raising their horns and bang their heads to the sound of nine original, heavy-as-hell and groovy compositions in the span of 35 intense minutes.

And it’s time for the quartet to kill in the opening tune Death From Above, a headbanging extravaganza led by the classic riffage by Barry and the pounding beats by Tristan, or in other words, a fusion of old school Hard Rock the likes of AC/DC with heavier and groovier styles that will please all fans of our good old Rock N’ Roll. In Trenchfeet the band sounds clearly inspired by 80’s Heavy Metal infused with Stoner and Doom Metal elements, with Gerben sounding truly epic on vocals supported by the spot-on backing vocals by Maarten. There are no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, it’s straightforward rock music made in the Netherlands for our total delight, and they keep venturing through the realms of Southern Rock and Metal in Finally Repent, where Barry and Maarten make a dynamic stringed duo while Gerben keeps singing with tons of passion. Then I Shot My Best Friend presents a curious name for a high-octane feast of metallic riffs, low-tuned bass jabs and frantic beats, sounding and feeling like an European version of Mastodon with Barry going full progressive on the guitar, while Tristan doesn’t let the level of energy go down not even for a single second.

There’s more of their solid and electrifying rock music in Oblivion, bringing to our ears another round of Gerben’s classic Hard Rock vocal lines accompanied by the groovy bass by Maarten, therefore keeping the album as vibrant as it can be; followed by The Owl, a more melodious and psychedelic tune by Hvalross that will take you on a journey through the 70’s and 80’s to the sound of their strident riffage, rumbling bass and classic beats, with Tristan once again stealing the spotlight with his refined technique. As I Am is a truly neck-breaking Stoner Rock and Metal exhibit by the quartet, blending the groove by Mastodon with the obscurity of Black Sabbath and sounding very detailed from start to finish, with Gerben kicking ass yet again on vocals, whereas the quartet puts the pedal to the metal in the thrilling Playing The Big Game, presenting nonstop sonic action by all band members with Gerben’s vocals being boosted by the incendiary riffs by Barry and the crushing drums by Tristan. Lastly, a more sinister side of the band is showcased in the closing tune Geryon, which despite being another solid and detailed composition it’s not as electrifying as the rest of the album. Maarten’s thunderous bass will punch in the head mercilessly, though, enhancing the song’s impact considerably.

After all is said and done, we must all admit Gerben, Barry, Marteen and Tristan were absolutely precise throughout the entire album, available for a full listen on Spotify, blending elements from all of their rock and metal heroes while at the same time crafting something unique that sounds like Hvalross and nothing else. Hence, as we all love when a band is capable of uniting their passion for heavy music with endless creativity and feeling like the guys from Hvalross did in Cold Dark Rain, let’s show our true support to them by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and obviously by purchasing their newborn opus from their own BandCamp page. And may the walruses of Hard Rock and Stoner Metal keep hammering our heads with their amazing music with countless more albums through the years.

Best moments of the album: Death From Above, I Shot My Best Friend and Playing The Big Game.

Worst moments of the album: Geryon.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Death From Above 3:52
2. Trenchfeet 4:00
3. Finally Repent 3:28
4. I Shot My Best Friend 2:58
5. Oblivion 3:48
6. The Owl 4:02
7. As I Am 3:31
8. Playing The Big Game 3:45
9. Geryon 5:56

Band members
Gerben van Oosterhout – vocals
Barry Veeke – guitars
Maarten Vermeulen – bass, backing vocals
Tristan de Rijk – drums

Album Review – Walk In Darkness / On The Road To Babylon (2020)

Walk in darkness on the road to Babylon together with one of the newest names of the Italian Symphonic Metal scene to the sound of their third full-length album.

Born in 2015 as a Gothic Metal project with many influences by guitarist, composer and lyricist Shaman, Italian Symphonic Gothic Metal outfit Walk In Darkness has just released their third full-length opus, entitled On The Road To Babylon, the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2018 album Welcome to the New World. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Virus Recording Studio by Alessandro Guasconi, and portraying a stunning artwork by Brazilian artist Carlos Fides (Artside Studio), On The Road To Babylon presents the band’s captivating atmospheres from their previous efforts, dragging the listener to another dimension as in a psychedelic and shamanic journey through time, a dreamlike journey but only in appearance as the dream is lucid and plausible. Constantly evolving, albeit having originally approached the Gothic Metal genre, the band diverged from its primeval sound to more original and unpredictable paths following the emotional and psychedelic component of music, with their brand new album perfectly representing that evolution in their musicality through the years.

Currently comprised of the aforementioned Shaman together with the talented frontwoman Nicoletta Rosellini (from Kalidia), guitarist Flaming Jack, keyboardist Tio Frank, bassist Monk Key and drummer Arcanus, Walk In Darkness are on fire throughout the entire album, offering us fans a collection of hymns to the sublime beauty of humanity that recedes and declines, dramatically mortal and fleeting but unattainable in its immense poetry. “On the Road to Babylon is a milestone in our endless musical research and evolution, almost like a prophecy and a warning to a world imploding due to pandemic crisis, self-isolation and trans-humanity. Mankind is perpetually on the road to Babylon and once again we are awaiting trial. Our intention is to write original songs with emotional and intense vocal parts combined with atmospheric and heavy music. The album is a concept formed by 9 songs, each of which is surprising and irrepressible because of the melodic and rhythmic solutions, the sweet and strong vocals as well as the deep and engaging lyrics. We directed an attentive gaze to the present and future world, analyzing and thinking about it, and we realized this album with incredible and moving atmospheres. We hope that every human being can listen to this at least once during lifetime on the way to Babylon,” commented Shaman about their newborn opus.

Whimsical keys permeate the air in the gorgeous opening track The Sound Of Rain, morphing into a classic Symphonic Metal feast led by the crushing beats by Arcanus while Nicoletta and guest Emiliano Pasquinelli make a dynamic vocal duo with their respective clean lines and visceral roars, and after such imposing start it’s time for the title-track On The Road To Babylon, starting in a melancholic and dark manner before the scorching riffs by Shaman and Flaming Jack, supported by the rumbling bass by Monk Key, fill out every single empty space in the music, sounding epic and touching until its very last second. Then inspired by the music by renowned European Symphonic Metal bands like Epica, Xandria, Delain and Beyond the Black, Walk On The Sky brings forward another round of slashing riffs, pounding drums and guttural growling, all embraced by Nicoletta’s angelical performance, whereas futuristic elements are thoroughly inserted in their classic sonority in On The Moon Or On Mars, with the keys by Tio Frank bringing a touch of finesse to the overall result, feeling like a hybrid of Progressive Rock and a Metal Opera.

A lot more inclined to old school Gothic Metal, Nothing showcases pensive words declaimed by the charming Nicoletta (“We can see / ships leaving for the stars / along the lines of space-time, / defying the laws of gravity / Only memories / are left in the cone of light / among floating plastic islands / in post-reality”), while in In The Mists Of Time the band enhances their heaviness and epicness considerably, with Nicoletta being amazingly supported by the powerful riffage by Shaman and Flaming Jack. Furthermore, it’s quite easy to visualize their fans hanging their lighters high while singing it together with the band during their live concerts. Then featuring guest vocalist Elisabetta Bettini, the band fires the also extremely melodic and passionate My Restless Wings, where Tio Frank, Mon Key and Arcanus generate a dense base perfect for the band’s guitar duo to shine with their soulful riffs; followed by Time To Rise, one of the first singles of the album, bringing forward the band’s characteristic romance, serenity and an embracing atmosphere while flowing smoothly until the very end and sounding as imposing as good Symphonic Gothic Metal always demands. Lastly, closing the album we have the groovy Critical System Failure, where the heaviness brought forth by Monk Key with his bass creates a gorgeous paradox with the gentle vocals by Nicoletta, resulting in a hypnotizing tune that will leave you eager for more of their music.

The talented metallers from Walk In Darkness are waiting for you to (guess what?) walk in darkness together with them on the road to Babylon, and in order to do that go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, listen to more of their stylish music on Spotify, and of course purchase On The Road To Babylon from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, among other locations. Italy is a well-known source of some of the best Symphonic Metal bands in the entire world, and now with Walk In Darkness solidifying their name with a triumvirate of high-end albums we can rest assured not only the country will remain on top of the “symphonic” food chain, but also that it won’t take long before Nicoletta, Shaman & Co. take your city by storm with their delicate and powerful music wherever you are.

Best moments of the album: On The Road To Babylon, On The Moon Or On Mars and In The Mists Of Time.

Worst moments of the album: Nothing.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Sound Of Rain 5:24
2. On The Road To Babylon 6:22
3. Walk On The Sky 4:40
4. On The Moon Or On Mars 4:47
5. Nothing 5:31
6. In The Mists Of Time 5:24
7. My Restless Wings 5:19
8. Time To Rise 5:35
9. Critical System Failure 4:06

Band members
Nicoletta Rosellini – vocals
Shaman – guitars
Flaming Jack – guitars
Tio Frank – keyboards
Monk Key – bass
Arcanus – drums

Guest musicians
Emiliano Pasquinelli – harsh vocals
Elisabetta Bettini – additional vocals on “My Restless Wings”

Album Review – Peculiar Three / Leap Of Faith (2020)

A talented trio of Greek musicians invites us all to their cyclical dance in their first full-length album full of rock emotion, metal aesthetic and prog essence.

“Do you remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human race long before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood.” – Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet

Formed in 2013 in Livadia, a town located in the central part of Greece, Progressive Rock/Metal studio project Peculiar Three, also known as peculiar three or even π3, is inviting us all to their cyclical dance with their first full-length opus Leap Of Faith, following up on their 2014 EP P3culiar. Mixed, produced and mastered at Locomotive Sound Studio by Ektoras Sohos, and displaying a stunning artwork by Greek artist Sotiris Kotsonis, Leap Of Faith was entirely performed and recorded live by vocalist and bassist Valantis Dafkos, guitarist an keyboardist Panos Karkanas and drummer Paris Gatsios, offering fans of the genre 46 minutes of first-class, organic heavy music split into seven new songs plus a very special bonus track, all full of rock emotion, metal aesthetic and prog essence.

Panos kicks of the band’s progressive party with his melodious riffage in Perpetual, gradually accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Paris and the whimsical vocals by Valantis, evolving into a fusion of epicness and creativity; whereas investing into a Black Sabbath-inspired Doom Metal sonority (sounding like their classic “Heaven & Hell” at times) the band offers us all Innermost, featuring a saz solo by guest Mantis Savvidis, with Valantis smashing his bass beautifully and with the music remaining dark and melodic from start to finish. Then we have Inkblot, a Progressive Rock extravaganza by the trio that’s more direct and less dense than its predecessors, where Panos keeps embellishing the airwaves with his riffs while Valantis provides some wicked vocal lines; and a somber and melancholic intro ignites the also entertaining Marginal, blending progressiveness with the heavier sounds of Southern and Stoner Metal, with Paris dictating the pace with his slow and steady beats.

The title-track Leap of Faith is an electrifying feast of traditional rock and metal where all band members are in total sync, with Panos once again slashing his strings in great fashion while also presenting melancholic and somber passages. In The Sentient, less vibrant than the rest of the album, the band goes full progressive and abandons most of their heaviness for a while, and albeit not being truly exciting, it’s still a very pleasant song perfect for admirers of the genre with Panos and Paris making a dynamic duo with their riffs and beats. Peculiar Three get back to a more headbanging sound in Knaves o’ Knives, displaying elements from the music by bands such as Alice In Chains blended with the doom by Black Sabbath and a touch of 70’s rock, resulting in a great jamming vibe by the trio from start to finish. And lastly, featuring orchestrations and keys by guest Panos Makoulis, the bonus track Caliban’s End brings to our ears a serene and inspiring sound, with its acoustic lines and orchestrations walking hand in hand and, therefore, putting a very beautiful ending to the album.

You can enjoy this very entertaining and utterly independent, DIY album of Progressive Rock and Metal in its entirety on Spotify, but of course the best way to show the guys from Peculiar Three your support and admiration is by purchasing the album from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as by following them on Facebook and by subscribing to their YouTube channel for more of their music. There’s still a long road ahead of those talented Greek rockers, but the healthy evolution in their sound from their debut EP to Leap Of Faith in terms of creativity and overall sound quality already indicates that the sky is the limit for them, which is not only good new for fans of progressive music, but to anyone who enjoys an honest and fun combination of the thrilling sound of guitars, bass and drums in the name of rock.

Best moments of the album: Innermost and Knaves o’ Knives.

Worst moments of the album: The Sentient.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Perpetual 5:41
2. Innermost 5:40
3. Inkblot 5:44
4. Marginal 5:36
5. Leap of Faith 5:14
6. The Sentient 4:55
7. Knaves o’ Knives 7:10
8. Caliban’s End (bonus track) 5:49

Band members
Valantis Dafkos – lead & backing vocals, bass
Panos Karkanas – guitars, keys
Paris Gatsios – drums

Guest musicians
Mantis Savvidis – saz solo on “Innermost”
Panos Makoulis – orchestration & keys on “Caliban’s End”

Album Review – Dreams In Darkness / The Souls Pit (2020)

A lugubrious fusion of Gothic and Black Metal made in Argentina by “the soul that cultivates melancholy as a way of seeing the world.”

Dealing with delicate topics such as death, depression, fears and loneliness, Gothic/Black Metal act Dreams In Darkness was born back in 2016 in Tucumán, the most densely populated (and the second-smallest by land area) of the provinces of Argentina, inspired by the music by iconic bands the likes of Lacrimosa, Draconian and My Dying Bride, describing themselves as “el alma que cultiva la melancolía como forma de ver al mundo”, which in English translates as “the soul that cultivates melancholy as a way of seeing the world.” After the releases of their debut self-titled album in 2016 and their sophomore effort Dark Silence in 2018, it’s time for lead singer Giselle Stoker, keyboardist and vocalist Martin Tenebris, guitarist and drummer Cristian Bertrand and bassist Gabriel Nonasco to strike again with their third opus, entitled The Souls Pit, continuing the path of darkness, melancholy and solitude they have been paving since their inception a few years ago.

And melancholic, acoustic guitars ignite the obscure Carrion for the Vultures, where all keys and its background atmosphere remind me of the early days of Cradle Of Filth, while Giselle sounds like a true she-demon with her raspy gnarls, grasping like a Black Metal beast. In the excellent Dark Silence… Desolation, a well-balanced fusion of the most mournful form of Gothic Metal with the austerity of Black Metal, we’re treated to lyrics that exhale anguish and pain (“Bleeding, / Wailing, / In a sky so black, / Dark and immense, / That burns my body. / Screaming in the nothingness, / The crying of the soul, / An imposing emptiness, / That destroys my being.”), and after the cryptic and atmospheric interlude titled Spectral Voices the quarter returns in full force with the grim Bleeding, offering our ears a fusion of blast beats and demonic roars with serene key notes and a sense of hopelessness. Furthermore, the music feels very theatrical from start to finish, with Cristian and Gabriel hammering their stringed axes beautifully in what’s perhaps the creepiest of all songs from the album. And once again with Cristian delivering a solid riffage while Martin keeps the ambience as phantasmagorical as it can be, When the Candles Burn is a slow and steady tune presenting elements from Doom Metal, spearheaded by the scorching gnarls by Giselle.

The interesting ¡Oh… Muerte! is a lugubrious composition led by Martin’s melancholic keys and piano notes where Giselle “abandons” her demonic side and cleanly and stunningly declaims the song’s poetic words in her mother tongue, setting the tone for Beyond the Astral Boundaries, a dark, epic and imposing instrumental extravaganza where Cristian delivers at the same time scorching riffs and intricate beats and fills while Gabriel brings the groove with his bass jabs. In The Hunter we face more of their infernal words powerfully vociferated by Giselle (“I found myself, / In the darkness of my fears. / I become my demons. / And like a wild bird, / Into the forest I sheltered.”), with the entire band generating a fantastic hybrid of Symphonic Gothic and Black Metal with classic Doom Metal with their respective instruments, before another round of vampiric metal music penetrates deep inside our damned souls in the title-track The Souls Pit, where Giselle keeps growling nonstop accompanied by the vicious beats by Martin and the always sulfurous guitar lines by Cristian.

If your souls gets darker and your blood flows stronger through your body to the sound of Gothic and Black Metal, you should definitely give Dreams In Darkness a chance by listening to The Souls Pit in full on YouTube and on Spotify, as well as by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and by grabbing your copy of their newborn spawn from Apple Music or from Amazon, darkening the skies of heavy music even more. It’s not everyday that we have the pleasure of listening to metal bands from Argentina here on The Headbanging Moose, especially ones as obscure and cryptic as Dreams In Darkness, but whenever that happens we’re always happy to see South American extreme music is alive and kicking, proving once again why the continent has some of the craziest and most passionate fans in the world and why we should keep turning our attention to underground bands like those talented Argentinian vampires.

Best moments of the album: Dark Silence… Desolation and The Hunter.

Worst moments of the album: When the Candles Burn.

Released in 2020 Shadows of Death Records

Track listing
1. Carrion for the Vultures 4:43
2. Dark Silence… Desolation 6:08
3. Spectral Voices 1:38
4. Bleeding 7:30
5. When the Candles Burn 7:03
6. ¡Oh… Muerte! 3:12
7. Beyond the Astral Boundaries 4:09
8. The Hunter 8:28
9. The Souls Pit 5:17

Limited Edition CD Jewel Case bonus track
10. The Souls Pit (Demo) 5:20

Band members
Giselle Stoker – lead vocals
Martin Tenebris – keyboards, vocals
Cristian Bertrand – guitars, drums
Gabriel Nonasco – bass

Album Review – BleedSkin / Blood Reign (2020)

Bang your heads to the brutal display of classic and contemporary Death Metal blasted by this promising Belgian band in their debut album.

Forged in 2016 in the fires of Andenne, a Belgian municipality located in the Walloon province of Namur, BleedSkin are an up-and-coming band highly inspired by iconic names from the 80’s and 90’s the likes of  Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, Dying Fetus and Aborted, among others, playing an old school, no bullshit style of Death Metal while singing about controversial topics such as dismemberment, butchery and annihilation. All that hard work and passion for heavy music has already led frontwoman Anouk Debecq, guitarists Benjamin Lefevre and Céline Mazay, bassist Rémy Adam and drummer Julien Vanhees to open for an array of bands including Exuviated, Debauchery and Blood Red Throne since their inception, culminating now in 2020 with the release of their debut effort Blood Reign, a brutal display of classic and contemporary Death Metal that will please all fans of the genre, recorded and mixed by Benoît Polomé at Noise Factory Studio and Soundwave Studio and embraced by a sinister artwork by Venezuelan artist Jesus Lhysta, better known under his moniker Rotted Artist.

A creepy, tribalistic and symphonic horror movie-inspired intro named Perverted Feelings sets the tone for the bestial devastation titled Eternal Hatred, where Benjamin and Céline begin slashing their axes while Anouk screams and roars deeply like an infernal entity, or in other words, this is a high-octane, classic Death Metal tune perfect for slamming into the circle pit, also bringing forward spot-on guitar solos and endless savagery. Once again inspired by renowned acts like Cannibal Corpse, Death and Morbid Angel, the band delivers Obsession, a great headbanging tune with Anouk once again showcasing all her she-wolf skills on vocals and where Julien hammers his drums without a single drop of mercy; and blending the ferocity of Death Metal with the speed of Thrash Metal the band offers us all No One Will Hear You, where Rémy and Julien will make your cranial skull tremble to the thunderous sound of their respective bass and drums. Then sounding as heavy as a stone crusher, it’s time for BleedSkin to pulverize our heads with Schizophrenia, with Benjamin and Céline yet again firing pure hatred from their guitars, and with guest Logan Dykens, the band’s former vocalist, bringing his share of dementia on backing vocals, whereas Point of No Return is an ode to the classic Death Metal sound from the 90’s and the 2000’s, with Anouk getting more and more demented on vocals as the music progresses without a single second of peace for our total delight.

Perversion of Mankind, which touches the complicated subject of pedophilia (and in order not to be censored, Anouk wrote it as if it were a children’s story where the monster is the pedophile), is another avalanche of incendiary riffs, blast beats and venomous vociferations brought forth by BleedSkin, while Silence Is Your Only Way, a song about sexism, violence against women, abortion and rape, is a demolishing composition where the music matches perfectly with the topics discussed (or maybe I should say barked) by Anouk in the lyrics, not to mention how unstoppable the band’s guitar duo sounds with their endless riffs and solos. Then more of their hellish growls and blast beats will penetrate deep inside your skin in The Dead Sale, feeling like Benjamin and Céline want to disintegrate their guitar strings due to the violence they apply to their riffage; followed by Innocent, the album’s second to last blast of classic Death Metal made in Belgium, where Benjamin is spot-on with his wicked guitar solo while Rémy doesn’t stop pounding his bass not even for a single second in a solid display of aggressiveness and rage. Lastly, how about more heaviness, anger and speed to properly close the album? That’s what they offer our metallic ears in Chaos Theory, where Anouk’s deranged, guttural roars are not recommended for the lighthearted, and with Julian dictating the pace with his demonic beats and fills.

BleedSkin’s debut full-length opus can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show them your utmost support don’t forget to follow such promising band hailing from Belgium on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their sick creations and official videos, and above all that, to click HERE and purchase or stream your favorite version of Blood Reign. As you might have already noticed, those Belgian metallers do not aim at reinventing Death Metal nor anything like that, having as their main goal keeping the fires of classic Death Metal burning bright in the underground and, consequently, offering us fans a very good reason for breaking our necks headbanging and slamming like maniacs. Well, in the end, what else can we ask for in first-class extreme music, right? And thanks to the girls an boys from BleedSkin, we can rest assured we’ll have a lot of fuel to burn into the circle pit to the sound of their visceral music for quite a while.

Best moments of the album: Eternal Hatred, Schizophrenia and Silence Is Your Only Way.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Perverted Feelings 1:51
2. Eternal Hatred 3:18
3. Obsession 3:19
4. No One Will Hear You 3:44
5. Schizophrenia 3:33
6. Point of No Return 4:03
7. Perversion of Mankind 3:33
8. Silence Is Your Only Way 3:55
9. The Dead Sale 3:18
10. Innocent 4:02
11. Chaos Theory 4:03

Band members
Anouk Debecq – vocals
Benjamin Lefevre – lead guitars
Céline Mazay – guitars
Rémy Adam – bass
Julien Vanhees – drums

Guest musician
Logan Dykens – backing vocals on “Schizophrenia”, “Silence Is Your Only Way”, “The Dead Sale” and “Innocent”

Album Review – Enslaved / Utgard (2020)

Once again inspired by Norse mythology, one of Norway’s most prominent bands of all time returns with more of their early Black Metal roots infused with experimentations with 70’s Progressive Rock.

Since their inception in the distant year of 1991, Bergen, Norway-based Progressive Black/Viking Metal horde Enslaved has continued to push their sound into new territories and remain fresh and relevant with each one of their records, which is also the case with their brand new opus entitled Utgard, the fifteenth studio album in their undisputed career. Currently comprised of vocalist and bassist Grutle Kjellson, guitarists Arve Isdal and Ivar Bjørnson, keyboardist Håkon Vinje and drummer Iver Sandøy, the band’s music once again draws heavily on the Viking cultural and religious heritage of their home country for inspiration, with most of the band’s lyrics relating to Norse mythology. Embraced by a somber artwork by Norwegian artist Truls Espedal, Utgard is titled after a location in Norse mythology, even including some Norse lyrics and song titles, while at the same time displaying the band’s early Black Metal roots infused with their experimentations with Progressive Rock from the 70’s, resulting in a very entertaining album for both diehard fans of the band and newcomers to their Viking realm.

Ritualistic vocalizations ignite the flammable and melodic Fires In The Dark, before the acoustic guitars by Arve and Ivar take us to desolate, bitterly cold Norwegian lands in a beautiful depiction of their modern-day Progressive Black Metal. Furthermore, Grutle, Håkon and Iver have a healthy vocal duel with their respective harsh roars and serene clean vocals, increasing the song’s taste considerably. Then leaning towards their more classic Black Metal, but of course also providing their fans elements from their current musical stage, we have Jettegryta, where Iver is on fire with his blast beats and intricate fills while Grutle growls and gnarls in a dark and captivating manner; followed by Sequence, more rhythmic and less visceral than its predecessors, with Grutle’s gnarls being once again effectively supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals. However, the guitar solos seem a bit disconnected from the rest of the music, resulting in a sound that’s not as exciting as expected in the end. Fortunately, in Homebound the band gets back on track, offering our ears beautiful, poetic words vociferated rabidly by Grutle (“When gold blinds / I will see beyond the false torches / The howling will guide us / Walking the plains between worlds / When houses fall / I will be the pillar in the hail / Unmoving we travel / Crossing oceans in mythological dreams”) while the music remains imposing and vibrant from start to finish.

In Utgarđr, a cryptic, hypnotizing interlude presenting deep vocalizations, we face freezing background sounds until Enslaved come ripping once again with Urjotun, blending their raw sonority with modernized and even electronic sounds and tones from 80’s pop music. As a matter of fact, the final result is truly exciting, as if it was taken from a cult action movie from that same decade. And strident riffs and the pounding drums by Iver kick off the grim and furious Flight Of Thought And Memory, a lecture in contemporary Progressive Black and Viking Metal alternating between obscure savagery and melancholic passages, or in other words, a very detailed, multi-layered composition tailored for admirers of the genre. Back to a more straightforward musicality the quintet offers us all the melodic Storms Of Utgard, with the guitars by both Arve and Ivar permeating the air in great fashion, boosted by the song’s galloping beats and celestial keys, and they put a gentle and inspiring closure to the album with Distant Seasons, a semi-acoustic ballad where we’re treated to serene clean vocals infused with tribal and primeval nuances, featuring spot-on backing vocals by guests Inger Sunneva Peersen and Sonja Elisabeth Peerson.

We must all admit it’s a real pleasure to witness Enslaved experimenting and developing new sounds album after album, and in Utgard, which by the way is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, let’s say they nailed it, offering us all a well-balanced mix of their more violent roots with their present progressiveness and harmony. Hence, don’t forget to give those Norwegian metallers a shout on Facebook, to follow them on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and to purchase Utgard from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all location where you can find the album), and may Enslaved keep on rocking like there’s no tomorrow through the realms of Viking Metal and Progressive Rock for many decades to come in their gorgeous and mythical homeland.

Best moments of the album: Jettegryta, Homebound and Flight Of Thought And Memory.

Worst moments of the album: Sequence.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Fires In The Dark 5:59
2. Jettegryta 4:56
3. Sequence 6:39
4. Homebound 5:29
5. Utgarđr 1:51
6. Urjotun 4:21
7. Flight Of Thought And Memory 6:22
8. Storms Of Utgard 4:38
9. Distant Seasons 4:31

Band members
Grutle Kjellson – vocals, bass, keyboards
Arve Isdal – lead guitars, acoustic guitars, backing vocals on “Fires In The Dark”
Ivar Bjørnson – guitars, acoustic guitars, keyboards, effects, backing vocals on “Fires In The Dark”
Håkon Vinje – keyboards, piano, clean vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums, percussion, keyboards, effects, clean vocals

Guest musicians
Martin Horntveth – percussion, glockenspiel, rototoms, tubular bells, keyboards and programming on “Sequence”
Inger Sunneva Peersen – backing vocals on “Distant Sesons”
Sonja Elisabeth Peerson – backing vocals on “Distant Sesons”

Metal Chick of the Month – Madame Mayhem

Let the Mayhem begin!

As the year of 2020 has been nothing but pure chaos and mayhem, how about we celebrate the month of November and the fact we’re getting closer and closer to the end of such unique year in the history of mankind with our multi-talented metal chick of the month, the one and only Madame Mayhem, frontwoman of her own solo band Madame Mayhem? I’m sure you’ll enjoy knowing a little about her career, her personal life and, above all that, rocking like there’s no tomorrow to her electrifying and meaningful compositions, putting you to dance wherever you are even if it’s your own living room during this never-ending quarantine. Having said that, grab a cold beer, raise your horns and let the Mayhem begin!

Born on January 24, 1989 in Tenafly, one of the best places to live in New Jersey, in the United States, really close to the rich and multicultural Manhattan, Madame Mayhem, whose real name is Natalie Ann Cohen, began her musical training at the Manhattan School Of Music and went on to Frost School Of Music at the University Of Miami, where she completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, double majoring in Classical Opera and Musical Theatre, in three years. Before that, when she was still a little kid, she said her mom used to play music in the car when she drove her around to try to get her to nap, playing mostly grunge, which Mayhem’s likes to joke it was her “baby music”, making a big impression on her and helping develop her taste for heavier music as she grew older. Always having the will to perform, sing, write and create music, she said her nickname Madame Mayhem was actually created by her parents, meaning she needed to take control and rise above the “Mayhem” around her, taking charge of her own anxiety, hurt and frustrations, and then channeling all that towards her pulse-pounding anthems, instantly connecting with anyone who has struggled.

Madame Mayhem actually began her professional career back in 2011 when she was featured on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio New Discovered and Uncovered Artist chart, before opening for Buckcherry’s Live Nation tour at The Sands Casino, already creating some buzz in North America and internationally. Having already performed all across the United States in famous venues such as The Roxy, The Viper Room, Bowery Ballroom, Knitting Factory, The Cutting Room and the Bluebird Café, she has also headlined the VH1’s “That Metal Show” annual Christmas Party, performed on Shiprocked Cruise in 2017, scheduled to perform at Sunfest in 2017, and has recently performed on national tours with renowned and respected metal artists such as Doro and Mushroomhead. Not only that, owner of a ravishing looks that blends the colors of goth, glam and nuances of other rock styles, our beloved diva has also been covered in both fashion and rock music media including Aquarian Weekly, Brave Words, Fashion Style, Gannett, Guitar World, KNAC, Loudwire, New Noise, Revolver and The Day In Rock, among others, and has also been featured in international publications like Sweden Rock Magazine, Aardschok Magazine, Rock Hard Magazine France and Metal Hammer Magazine Spain.

Musically speaking, she has already collaborated with a vast array of renowned rock and metal artists and bands such as Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Winery Dogs), Ray Luzier (KoRn, KXM), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses), Russ Parrish (“Satchel” from Steel Panther), Earl Slick (David Bowie, John Lennon), Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Dio), John Moyer (Disturbed), Corey Lowery (Saint Asonia), Clint Lowery (Sevendust) and more, having also shared the stage with amazing bands the likes of Sevendust, Memphis May Fire, Fozzy and Doro. There’s a very good reason for all those connections with prominent names of the rock and metal scene, which is obviously the high quality of the music found in her three official albums released so far, those being her 2012 debut effort White Noise, produced by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Mark Hudson, her sophomore album Now You Know, from 2015, and her most recent album Ready For Me, released in 2017, always offering the listener a high-octane, fresh fusion of  Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Alternative Rock and Metal.

Apart from those full-length installments, Madame Mayhem has also released a few more recent singles, those being her cover version for Paul McCartney’s My Valentine, in 2018, Broken, in 2019, and Breaking Down and an amazing cover version for Aerosmith’s Livin’ On The Edge now in 2020. Regarding her rendition of one of the biggest classics by Aerosmith, she said that “earlier in my career I covered Aerosmith’s Livin’ On The Edge during our live shows. We had recorded a version, but it stayed in the Mayhem vault of songs completed, yet never released…until now! During these times, I feel this song is especially relevant. I wanted to give fans and fellow music lovers alike, a little something to rock out to during these strange and difficult days which we are all experiencing together.” Hence, if you want to keep on rocking together with Madame Mayhem, you can also enjoy her official videos and live footage for songs such as Monster, a cover version for Alanis Morissette’s Uninvited, a live acoustic version of Broken, as well as Ready For Me, All Around The World, Left For Dead, Dead Will Rise and Save Me.

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Having always wanted to become a singer, a musician and a performer, therefore never having a plan B in life, Madame Mayhem has a very eclectic taste in music, looking up to and showing her deepest respect and admiration for countless artists, as for example Chris Cornell, whose incredible voice really got her and still does, and Alanis Morissette, a strong female artist who really impacted her as a child. According to Mayhem herself, Incubus was her first real rock concert, with every live show coming with awesome memories in her humble opinion. In addition, when asked about which artists she would love to collaborate on a song or album, she said she has been fortunate enough to already have collaborated with so many incredible musicians and artists, but some would be Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, Korn, Halestorm, Evanescence and Sevendust, among many, many others. Also, she mentioned that opening up for Sevendust, Fozzy and Doro was an amazing experience, learning different things from each band she has toured with.

Regarding her life on the road, she mentioned that an average day on tour is not as glamorous as one might think, but when you’re surrounded by your band and team that all have each other’s backs every day is fun and great. When on tour, Madame Mayhem tries to interact with her fans as much as possible both on stage and after the concert is over, also trying to stay connected with them through all her social media profiles. Furthermore, in order to stay healthy while on tour, she said she tries to rest whenever possible, never partying too hard so that she can preserve her voice and put on the best show she can each night. However, as we’re all aware of, music concerts are pretty much nonexistent nowadays due to the coronavirus pandemic, and as bands cannot play live and sell merch to their fans, Mayhem said that apart from her social media, she’s more than happy to sell her products through her own webstore to keep her fans entertained, also making use of live streaming platforms like countless other bands around the world to keep the fires of rock and metal music alive while music concerts and festivals continue to be prohibited worldwide.

Still talking about the pandemic, she said that due to the fact she lives in New York she still spends most of her time in her apartment, having set up a small makeshift home studio and writing music, as well as playing some live cover songs for her Youtube page and doing some virtual festivals. Mayhem tries to stay active by doing cardio outside when she can and Les Mills’ Body Combat in her living room, saying those workouts have really helped keep her sane during such difficult times, and of course spending time home with her family has also been great. She even said that because of the extra time she has in her hands right now she was the one who put together the official lyric video for Breaking Down and the music video for Livin’ On The Edge, showcasing another one of her many talents as a musician and an artist. That’s also related to her belief as to how someone can become a better musician or singer, commenting that anyone should keep working hard and practicing as much as possible, complementing by saying that she’s an example of that by having periodic vocal training sessions, trying to practice every single day, and learning new things within the realm of her career as a musician and a singer, something she considers extremely important.

When asked about how she feels about streaming services like Spotify, Madame Mayhem said that although she has always been a fan of releasing full-length physical CD’s that you can hold and that the artwork and the music together can tell a story from front to back, streaming music has made it easier for people to discover new music and new artists, and I guess we must all agree with her on that as without streaming most independent and underground bands would have a hard time trying to spread their music everywhere. That also includes streaming of programs and movies, which in this case are very beneficial for the viewers who can enjoy an endless variety of shows and movies, just like what Madame Mayhem herself likes to do during her downtime. If you want to know more about our unstoppable vocalist and performer, you can find several online interviews with her such as this one to an online magazine named  Bionic Buzz,  where she talks about her latest releases, touring with Sevendust and Fozzy in Europe, and other fun stories. Having said all that, let’s keep banging our heads to our multi-talented artist and her incendiary Rock N’ Roll, and let the Mayhem continue forever and ever!

Madame Mayhem’s Official Facebook page
Madame Mayhem’s Official Instagram
Madame Mayhem’s Official Twitter
Madame Mayhem’s Official YouTube channel

“Music, singing, and performing have been my passions my entire life, and always will be.” – Madame Mayhem

Album Review – Genus Ordinis Dei / Glare of Deliverance (2020)

Witness the story of a young woman named Eleanor who is persecuted by the Holy Inquisition in the form of a stunning album of Symphonic Death Metal made in Italy.

There’s nothing better than celebrating what’s probably the weirdest Halloween of the past few decades (due of course to all the madness the world is going on right now) than with the pulverizing Symphonic Death Metal         blasted by a four-piece band hailing from Crema, a city and comune in the province of Cremona, in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy, that goes by the stunning name of Genus Ordinis Dei, which translates from Latin as something like “the order of the race”. Comprised of Niccolò “Nick K” Cadregari on vocals and guitars, Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli on guitars and orchestrations, Steven F. Olda on bass and Richard Meiz on drums, Genus Ordinis Dei are unleashing upon humanity their brand new opus entitled Glare of Deliverance. Produced by Tommy himself at Sonitus Studio, Glare of Deliverance is much more than a follow-up to their sophomore album Great Olden Dynasty, offering us all a series of ten individual songs, each with its own music video or episode, which combine in sequence like a short film or television series that tells the story of a young woman named Eleanor, who is persecuted by the Holy Inquisition, bringing the concept art of American author Tom Roberts to life.

Sounds of nature warm up our senses for the enfolding and atmospheric journey that’s about to begin in a beautiful and imposing intro named Ritual, setting the stage for the band to kill in Hunt, a majestic Death Metal aria infused with symphonic and epic elements, with Nick roaring and screaming in anger nonstop accompanied by the pulverizing drums by Richard and the beyond whimsical orchestrations by Tommy; and soaring choirs intertwined with the pounding beats by Richard ignite the progressive and heavy-as-hell Edict, with Steven adding his share of groove to the music while Nick and Tommy slash their stringed axes powerfully. The band keeps smashing their instruments in great fashion in Examination, where we’re all invited to bang our heads to this sinister tune spearheaded by Nick’s demonic growls and vociferations, alternating between Symphonic Metal moments and eerie passages. After that, like in an epic movie, the music in Torture grows in intensity until all hell breaks loose, morphing into a melodic and atmospheric feast of Death Metal presenting incendiary guitars making a thrilling paradox with all background orchestrations.

Then phantasmagorical guitars, melancholic violins and endless sorrow and pain will penetrate deep inside your mind in Judgement, where Steven and Richard bring a touch of Doom Metal to the music while Nick and Tommy fire Groove Metal-inspired riffs, with the whole experience ending in pure solitude. And cryptic sounds and tones are gradually joined by serene acoustic guitars in Dream, sounding and feeling as progressive as possible, with its hammering drums walking hand in hand with the background keys by Tommy, whereas Gregorian chants kick off the also dense and doomed Abjuration, offering our avid ears a cinematic vibe boosted by Nick’s and Tommy’s razor-edged guitars in another gorgeous creation by the quartet, uniting the rage of Death Metal with the finesse of a classic opera. Sounding like a metallic and grim waltz we face the amazing Exorcism, with Nick taking the lead with his deep guttural roars while his bandmates generate a massive wall of sounds for our total delight, resulting in seven minutes of the best Symphonic Death Metal you can find anywhere in the world; and last but not least, if Mastodon, Nightwish, Dimmu Borgir and Gojira were combined into one single entity they would certainly write the multi-layered, breathtaking tune Fire, where the keys by Tommy are enhanced by the contrast with Steven’s bass and Richard’s beats, and with all breaks, variations, gentle passages and the Stygian growling by Nick blowing our minds, or in other words, it’s a first-class hybrid of sheer heaviness and a stylish metal opera to flawlessly close the album.

I’m sure you’re eager to put your hands on what’s one of the best metal albums of the worldwide underground scene, and you’ll be able to do that sooner than later by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of the album to buy or stream when it’s officially released. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow Genus Ordinis Dei on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel to be the first to know about each chapter of the incredible Glare of Deliverance, and listen to more of their music on Spotify. Are you curious to know what happens to Eleanor in this high-octane, top-of-the-line album of Symphonic Death Metal? Well, the skillful musicians of Genus Ordinis Dei are here to tell us the fate of such interesting character in their new album, and let’s hope they continue to embellish the airwaves for many years to come with their impressive creations while at the same time they keep us all absolutely hooked with their refined storytelling abilities in each of their future releases.

Best moments of the album: Hunt, Edict, Exorcism and Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Ritual 3:47
2. Hunt 4:18
3. Edict 6:42
4. Examination 6:59
5. Torture 4:41
6. Judgement 7:46
7. Dream 6:38
8. Abjuration 7:47
9. Exorcism 7:04
10. Fire 16:08

Band members
Niccolò “Nick K” Cadregari – vocals, guitars
Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli – guitars, orchestrations
Steven F. Olda – bass
Richard Meiz – drums

Album Review – White Walls / Grandeur (2020)

Hailing from the Romanian shores of the Black Sea, four talented musicians return with their third full-length album of dynamic, splendorous and grandiose Progressive Metal.

Hailing from the Romanian shores of the Black Sea, more specifically from the city of Constanța, where the band was formed back in 2009, Progressive/Alternative Metal outfit White Walls has been associated with diverse groups such as Leprous, The Ocean, Opeth, Tool and Karnivool, often intertwining elements of darkness and light with relentless riffs, melancholic chords and a balanced mix between restlessness and restraint, resulting in what the band itself likes to call “Dynamic Progressive Metal”. Now in 2020, vocalist Eugen Brudaru, guitarist Alexandru-Eduard Dascălu, bassist Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu and drummer Theo Scrioșteanu return with an exciting full-length album entitled Grandeur, the third in their undisputed career. Mixed and mastered by Forrester Savell, and featuring a classy artwork by Romanian artist Radu Damian, Grandeur opens a whole new spectrum of musical pathways and offers a more mature sound seven years after the release of their previous effort Escape Artist. Inspired by the state of the world, the title is not only a beautiful word, but also reveals some of the underlying themes in the songs.

Serene guitars and a feeling of peace and hope will penetrate your mind in the intro False Beliefs, revving up the band’s engine for the groovy and violent Eye For An I, offering our ears a frantic, headbanging fusion of classic Progressive Metal the likes of Mastodon and Gojira with modernized Groove Metal nuances, with Eugen being on fire with both his clean vocals and his enraged roars. Then it’s time for another sonic voyage titled Home Is On The Other Side, where Alexandru cuts our skin deep with his riffage while Serban makes the earth tremble with his bass, not to mention it’s atmospheric intermission, sounding very intricate, detailed and vibrant until the very last second; and there’s not a single second to waste as the quartet fires the thrilling Holy Worse, with Eugen growling rabidly while Theo dictates the pace with his rhythmic beats, sounding as if they were a more alternative version of Dream Theater. After that, strident guitars blended with the reverberating bass by Serban ignite the also electrifying Velvet, full of breaks and variations and, therefore, perfectly representing what White Walls are all about, and I must say it will undoubtedly please all fans of the genre; and there’s more of Serban’s thunderous bass jabs in Speaking in Tongues, a very dynamic and straight-to-the-point composition where the band needs less than three minutes to showcase all their dexterity and passion for progressive sounds.

In Starfish Crown we face lyrics that are obviously there to make you think (“Retrieve the heart that whispers in your ear / My crescent lights flow / Would you help me? / Repetition is key / Resolution? We’ll see… / No direction for me / Just a silly dream”), while Serban and Theo make a fantastic duo as the band’s groovy kitchen, whereas Locked-in Syndrome is a little more inclined to Progressive Rock than the other songs, with Eugen doing a great job once again by displaying all his vocal range while Alexandru extracts minimalist but at the same time piercing sounds form his guitar. Then it’s time to enhance their heaviness and groove in the neck-breaking Month’s End, a fantastic tune with Theo smashing his drums with tons of precision and rage, resulting in one of my favorite songs of the album, exhaling an infinite amount of progressiveness and feeling. And you better prepare your senses for over six minutes of hammering Progressive Metal sounds in The Descent, where all band members demonstrate their close relationship with their instruments. In addition, Alexandru’s guitar solos are absolutely stunning, adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result. Lastly, let’s have a blast with Serban and Theo with their respective bass jabs and beats in The Slaughter (Marche Funèbre), sounding like two or three songs in one thanks to the amazing job done by the quartet throughout the song’s eight minutes of sheer complexity and creativity, before the music smoothly fades into eternity.

It’s indeed a very pleasant and unique experience to explore each and every track found in Grandeur in detail, and you can do so by streaming the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to properly support White Walls and inspire them to keep moving forward you can purchase a copy of the album from your favorite retailer by clicking HERE, as well as by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by subscribing to their YouTube channel. The actual meaning of the word “grandeur”, which is splendor and impressiveness, especially of appearance or style, perfectly suits the music by White Walls, who not only represent Romanian rock and metal anywhere they go, but they also show everyone that, despite its complexity, Progressive Metal can be just as breathtaking as any other music style.

Best moments of the album: Eye For An I, Velvet and Month’s End.

Worst moments of the album: Locked-in Syndrome.

Released in 2020 Tentasol Records

Track listing
1. False Beliefs 1:38
2. Eye For An I 4:45
3. Home Is On The Other Side 5:04
4. Holy Worse 4:50
5. Velvet 4:56
6. Speaking in Tongues 2:41
7. Starfish Crown 5:32
8. Locked-in Syndrome 4:28
9. Month’s End 4:19
10. The Descent 6:47
11. The Slaughter (Marche Funèbre) 8:57

Band members
Eugen Brudaru – vocals
Alexandru-Eduard Dascălu – guitar
Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu – bass
Theo Scrioșteanu – drums

Guest musician
Cosmin Farcaș – additional keys and effects