Album Review – Rifftera / Across the Acheron (2019)

Let’s brave the waters of the Acheron to the sound of the brand new opus by this talented Melodic Death and Thrash Metal squad from Finland.

If in 2015 a Finnish Melodic Death Metal band that goes by the stylish name of Rifftera stunned us all with their  aggressive and futuristic debut opus Pitch Black, now in 2019 it’s time for this talented Vaasa-base squad comprised of Janne Hietala and Mikko Kuoppamaa on vocals and guitars, Jupe Karhu on bass, Antti Pöntinen on keyboards and newcomer Ville Härkönen on drums to take another amazing step in their more-than-promising career with Across the Acheron, which is not only their sophomore release but an album that exhales harmony, electricity and rage, bringing a well-balanced and thrilling fusion of Death and Thrash Metal for both fans of what the band presented in their previous album as well as newcomers to their whimsical realm of modern-day metal music.

Featuring once again a beautiful cover art by Petri Lampela, who besides Rifftera has already worked with other excellent bands like  Vinide and Ratbreed, Across the Acheron might have taken longer than expected to be released, but the wait was definitely worth it as each and every song of the album is an absolute feast of first-class Melodic Death Metal. “The aim was basically to take steps forward from our debut in every aspect and we are really happy with the result. In my honest and not at all biased opinion I think that clear improvement was achieved musically, lyrically and production-wise,” commented lead singer and guitarist Janne, complementing his thought by saying that “when it comes to comparing the music between Across the Acheron and Pitch Black, I would say that our expression has reached new levels on both ends of the spectrum; some parts on the new album are more brutal than anything that what we had on Pitch Black and then again some songs are more straight forward and melodic than before. Overall it could be described that the building blocks are the same but writing and performing skills have evolved.”

The opening track Burning Paradise already showcases an epic start led by the always cinematic keys by Antti, being gradually joined by all other instruments until all hell breaks loose to a deep, enraged roar by Janne, becoming an almost Blackened Death Metal tune infused with Melodic and Industrial Metal elements where both Janne and Mikki slash their guitars in a piercing manner. Then we have the 8-minute extravaganza Two Sides of the Story, sounding very close to what they did in Pitch Black, with Ville simply demolishing his drums while Jupe and Antti generate a captivating background sounding with their instruments, also delivering tons of harmony and ethereal vibes for our total delight; followed by Eye of the Storm, a rhythmic, imposing and thrilling display of contemporary Scandinavian metal, showcasing pounding drums, epic keys and a dark and menacing atmosphere. Furthermore, Janne and Mikko have a very healthy “duel” of vocal styles, and as they sing during the entire song, it’s indeed beautiful to enjoy their ass-kicking metal music when you’re “in the eye of the storm”.

And those Finnish metallers keep invading our senses with their fusion of futuristic sounds and endless harmony in Cutthroat Game, with both guitars sounding as sharp as a knife while the bass punches by Jupe get even more thunderous then before, accompanied by Ville’s nonstop drums. After such crushing tune, it’s time to speed things up a bit in the superb Cry Wolf, led by Janne’s deranged growls and with Antti bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the sonority through his keys, resulting in what’s the most metallic and visceral of all songs; whereas Warmonger is another brutal composition tailored for cracking your neck in half headbanging, with Mikko’s clean vocals and Antti’s spot-on keys bringing some peace and hope to all devastation blasted by their bandmates. Not only that, the song’s main riff will entice you to keep bang your head nonstop, which obviously means this is an amazing option to be added to their setlist during their live concerts. Things slow down a bit in Deep Waters, getting more melodic, delicate and introspective than its predecessors but still exhaling the band’s characteristic rage, with the always inspiring keys by Antti stealing the spotlight and, therefore, keeping the level of electricity high, setting the stage for the 11-minute aria Across the Acheron, a very detailed and cinematic exhibit of their Melodic Death and Thrash Metal where you’ll be enfolded by inspiring passages, melodious riffs and solos, powerful vocals and violent growls. Moreover, this song has an amazing vibe and a touch of delicacy that only a band like Rifftera can bring you directly from the stunning Scandinavia, ending the album on a high, ominous and majestic mode.

It’s always a pleasure watching a hardworking and honest group of skillful musicians like Rifftera evolving like what they did from Pitch Black to their new album Across the Acheron, and in order to show them our true support don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to listen to their music on Spotify, and of course purchase your copy of Across the Acheron from the Inverse Records webstore, from Record Shop X, from iTunes, or from Amazon. In ancient Greek mythology, the Acheron was known as the “river of woe”, and was one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld. Having said that, I guess it’s time for all of us fans of Melodic Death Metal to brave the waters of the Acheron together with Rifftera, and face all the perils the underworld might bring us to the sound of their brand new and excellent album.

Best moments of the album: Eye of the Storm, Cry Wolf and Warmonger.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Burning Paradise 6:12
2. Two Sides of the Story 8:04
3. Eye of the Storm 6:34
4. Cutthroat Game 6:12
5. Cry Wolf 5:08
6. Warmonger 6:29
7. Deep Waters 4:50
8. Across the Acheron 11:20

Band members
Janne Hietala – guitars, harsh vocals
Mikko Kuoppamaa – guitars, clean vocals
Jupe Karhu – bass
Antti Pöntinen – keyboards
Ville Härkönen – drums

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Album Review – Barshasketh / Barshasketh (2019)

Dive deep into the pit of corruption crafted by an evil entity of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal to the sound of their highly anticipated fourth full-length opus.

Forged in the scorching fires of Wellington, New Zealand in 2007 as a solo project by KG (also known as Krigeist) with the intention of creating pure Black Metal, but currently located in Edinburgh, Scotland, the obscure and devilish entity known as Barshasketh is unleashing upon humanity their highly anticipated fourth album, simply self-titled Barshasketh, conceptually centered on Be’er Shachat, from which the band’s name derives. This term roughly translates as “pit of corruption”, a multifaceted esoteric idea concerning the self existing in a cyclical process that goes through phases of destruction, purification, and ultimate adversarial rebirth. Indeed, that conceptual arc poignantly and perfectly illustrates Barshasketh’s evolution over the years, and finds its apotheosis within the winding corridors of Barshasketh.

During its uniquely vast-yet-compact 54-minute run-time, the quartet comprised of KG on vocals, guitars and synths, GM on the guitars, BB on bass and MK on drums, vocals and synths is truly firing on all cylinders, exploring new territory with ambitious compositions and showcasing a certain percussive savagery previously unheard on previous recordings, all within the remit of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal. Featuring a menacing cover art and additional illustrations by Artem Grigoryev (Black Typography), Barshasketh’s brand new opus is the purest distillation of the band’s essence to date, pointing to a dark and vile future for mankind as a black sun rises at the dawn of 2019.

A somber and menacing atmosphere enfolds the band in the opening track Vacillation, a highly recommended song for admirers of the most obscure fusion of classic Black Metal with Atmospheric and Melodic Black Metal where KG gnarls demonically from the very first note while MK showcases all his skills as the excellent extreme drummer he is, followed by the also grim Resolve, continuing from where the previous tune ended (which obviously means an ode to darkness). Furthermore, KG and GM are in total sync with their scorching riffs, while BB and MK generate a dense background atmosphere with their devilish instruments. Then drinking from the fountain of old school Norwegian Black Metal we have Consciousness I, another visceral creation by the band spearheaded by MK and his unstoppable blast beats, with KG roaring and growling like a true creature form the netherworld, not to mention how the background keys also boost the song’s taste and impact considerably, whereas Consciousness II brings to our avid ears over eight minutes of damned sounds and tones, starting in a cryptic manner before exploding into classic Black Metal for our total delight. The stringed trio KG, GM and BB simply slash our senses with their axes, with the music also presenting some disturbing Blackened Doom-inspired passages.

Ruin I sounds and feels brutal and piercing form the very first second, a lecture in Black Metal not for the lighthearted with all band member extracting pure evil from their instruments, in special MK and his demolishing drums, while the second act entitled Ruin II sounds a lot more melodic and obscure, crushing our senses in over seven minutes of putrid Black Metal spearheaded by KG’s infernal growls and MK’s visceral beats, all enfolded by the hellish riffs by KG and GM and flowing majestically until its grand finale. The second to last blast of extreme music by Barshasketh, named Rebirth, is just as demonic as its predecessors, with all instruments exhaling demonic notes, especially KG and GM who penetrate deep inside our damned souls with their guitar lines, setting the tone for the closing song Recrudescense, a tribute to all things evil where the smell of death and despair reeks in the air for over nine minutes, with KG leading his horde of darkness with his visceral growls. Moreover, it’s truly impressive how the music gets more intense and vile as time goes by, with all violence and hatred giving place to a phantasmagorical ending that will haunt our souls forever and ever.

Actually, you don’t need all the detailed review and explanation above to purchase your copy of Barshasketh from the W.T.C.Productions BandCamp. All you need to know is that it’s vile, macabre and thunderous, just the way we all love in true Black Metal. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, therefore showing your true support to underground extreme music, and finally succumb to the darkest side of Black Metal to the sound of their infernal but at the same time very melodic and dense new album, diving deep into their “pit of corruption”. However, I must warn you that once you join Barshasketh down there, there’s no turning back (as if you would want to return from such distinct place, I might say).

Best moments of the album: Vacillation, Consciousness I and Recrudescense.

Worst moments of the album: Rebirth.

Released in 2019 W.T.C.Productions

Track listing
1. Vacillation 5:29
2. Resolve 5:10
3. Consciousness I 6:24
4. Consciousness II 7:53
5. Ruin I 4:47
6. Ruin II 7:26
7. Rebirth 6:30
8. Recrudescense 9:31

Band members
KG – vocals, guitars, synths
GM – guitars
BB – bass
MK – drums, vocals, synths

Album Review – Soilwork / Verkligheten (2019)

One of the biggest exponents of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene returns in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.

Although most people consider Helsingborg-based metal masters Soilwork to play a fusion of Metalcore and Melodic Groove Metal nowadays instead of the Melodic Death Metal we got used to from their early albums, I personally still see them as one of the biggest exponents of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene, having influenced (and still inspiring) countless bands worldwide, like for example Trivium. And to prove how relevant and ass-kicking the band is after all these years on the road, frontman Björn “Speed” Strid and his henchmen David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret on the guitars, Sven Karlsson on the keyboards and newcomer Bastian Thusgaard on drums are releasing upon humanity the superb Verkligheten, the eleventh studio album in their undisputed career.

Verkligheten, which by the way is the Swedish word for “reality”, is not only the first Soilwork album to feature Bastian on drums as the replacement of longtime member Dirk Verbeuren (who left the band to join Megadeth a couple of years ago), but it also marks the longest gap between their studio albums to date, with their previous installment, The Ride Majestic, having been released nearly three and a half years earlier. Well, at least the wait was absolutely worth it, because if there’s one word that can be used to describe the music found in Verkligheten is “addictive”. You won’t skip any song from the album, and as soon as it’s over you’ll go back to the first track and listen to everything all over again, which in other words means we’re undoubtedly facing a very strong candidate to be elected one of the best albums of 2019.

The title-track Verkligheten, a Western movie-Tarantino-inspired instrumental intro, flows smoothly and serene, inviting us all to join Soilwork in the realm of Melodic Death Metal with the crushing Arrival, presenting some pulverizing elements from Black Metal added to their core musicality, in special the demonic blast beats by Bastian, all enhanced by its classic lyrics beautifully declaimed by Björn (“The sky reflects in my hands / You took my world ’cause you can / Is it just me or is the light / Oh read me, you dust ridden seer / And prepare for the night”). The album couldn’t have started in a more thrilling and vibrant way, I might say. Moving on with the music, speed and violence are replaced with heaviness and an enfolding melody in the headbanging Bleeder Despoiler, where both David and Sylvain are on absolute fire with their scorching riffs, not to mention how the background keys by Sven and Bastian’s rhythmic drums complement each other flawlessly, and the band keeps blowing our speakers with their very melodic and fierce music in Full Moon Shoals, where once again all instruments are thoroughly connected, resulting in a dense and visceral sound complemented by another shot of their pensive and poetic words (“Anyone would cure it with blindness / There were moments where I thought I could be / A man who’s aching for the hour of closure / Darkness clearly kept on covering my needs / But it’s not what it seems / It’s just an inner endless shriek”).

Blending the most slashing elements from Rock N’ Roll, Melodic Death Metal and even Industrial Metal, Soilwork offer us an amazing composition titled The Nurturing Glance, perfect for banging your head, singing along with the band or simply enjoying Björn’s flawless vocal performance accompanied by the precise beats by Bastian, whereas in When the Universe Spoke  a serene intro explodes into top-notch Melodic Death Metal infused with Metalcore and Groove Metal nuances, with both Björn’s clean vocals and harsh growls being potentialized by the strident riffs by the band’s guitar duo (as well as the insane drumming by Bastian). Futuristic waves ignite what feels like a hybrid between contemporary Arch Enemy and Soilwork entitled Stålfågel (or “steel bird” from Swedish), featuring the stunning Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy as a guest vocalist. Björn and Alissa vigorously kick some serious ass together, while David and Sylvain hypnotize us with their riffs and solos in one of the top songs of the album without a shadow of a doubt, and putting the pedal to the metal this Swedish institution fires more of their razor-edged metal music in The Wolves Are Back in Town, showcasing headbanging beats, extremely melodic and sharp guitar lines, and yet another demolishing performance by Björn, spearheading his skillful horde like the true frontman he is.

Verkligheten Digipak CD Cover

Witan also presents a nice balance between harmonious and aggressive sounds, with Björn focusing slightly more on his clean vocals, flowing like a fast arrow until The Ageless Whisper comes ripping our hearts and minds in a solid display of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Moreover, Bastian pounds his drums like there’s no tomorrow, while the band’s guitar duo continue to grind their axes with a lot of precision and energy. Then featuring guest vocals by Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis), Needles and Kin is classic Melodic Death Metal presenting a vibrant fusion of rage, electricity and harmony with the intricate beats by Bastian dictating its rhythm and pace, all boosted by David’s superb guitar solo, before the closing tune You Aquiver, with guest Dave Sheldon (Exes for Eyes, Annihilator) on the guitar, brings to our ears a good mix of their more ferocious side with the whimsical and ethereal sound of the keys by Sven, with best metal (and even non-metal) albums of 2019. Furthermore, what Mr. Björn “Speed” Strid & Co. did in their new album might not be a revolution in music (as some very demanding fans always expect from their favorite bands), but it’s indeed a solid statement that Melodic Death Metal is still alive and kicking, and that Soilwork will continue to be a reference in the genre no matter what happens to the band. Fortunately for us fans of heavy music, the band is far from calling it quits, which means we’ll certainly have the pleasure of enjoying more of their crisp and vibrant metal with their future releases, and if they’re just half as good as Verkligheten we’ll have a very good reason to celebrate and to keep banging our heads together with those Swedish metal icons.

Best moments of the album: Arrival, The Nurturing Glance, Stålfågel and The Wolves Are Back in Town.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Verkligheten (instrumental) 1:44
2. Arrival 3:47
3. Bleeder Despoiler 3:36
4. Full Moon Shoals 4:46
5. The Nurturing Glance 5:24
6. When the Universe Spoke 5:22
7. Stålfågel (feat. Alissa White-Gluz) 4:25
8. The Wolves Are Back in Town 3:24
9. Witan 3:48
10. The Ageless Whisper 5:01
11. Needles and Kin (feat. Tomi Joutsen) 4:57
12. You Aquiver (feat. Dave Sheldon) 4:03

Band members
Björn “Speed” Strid – vocals
David Andersson – lead guitar
Sylvain Coudret – rhythm guitar
Sven Karlsson – keyboards
Bastian Thusgaard – drums

Guest musicians
Alissa White-Gluz – guest vocals on “Stålfågel”
Tomi Joutsen – guest vocals on “Needles and Kin”
Dave Sheldon – guitars on “You Aquiver”
Taylor Nordberg – bass (live)

Album Review – Orchid / Miasma (2019)

Immerse yourself in the debut full-length opus by four Indian metallers who are not afraid to experiment with the new and the unknown, always ready to push their own boundaries in heavy music.

Formed in late 2011 in Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru), the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, Avantgarde/Progressive Metal entity Orchid is a four-piece band comprised of Kaushal on vocals, Vinay on the guitar, Rahil on bass and Mayur on drums that plays a dense and very distinct blend of Heavy Metal with several other genres and styles such as Progressive Rock, Hardcore and Psychedelic Rock leanings (as well as Mathcore), pushing the boundaries of heavy music in the subcontinental underground and remaining one of the most original bands to emerge from the region.

In 2016, Orchid released their much-awaited self-titled debut EP to critical acclaim with Rolling Stone India calling it “one of the best cult classics of 2016” and “one of the most intriguing metal releases of the year”, inspiring the guys to keep moving forward and keep spreading their distinguished music to all four corners of the earth with their debut full-length opus Miasma, an album tailored for fans of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Gorguts and Frank Zappa, among others. Unlike their previous EP, which touched upon themes of techno-surrealism, Miasma is more straightforward with sociopolitical themes, with the artwork, done by the band’s own drummer through Copycat, containing elements from every song on the album.

An enraged scream by Kaushal kicks off the low-tuned, sluggish and heavy-as-hell opening track Obsolescence, with Vinay delivering lancinating riffs while Mayur brings tons of intricacy and dementia to the musicality with his beats, remaining crazy, vibrant and unique from start to finish, whereas in Solipsist we’re treated to two and a half minutes of top-notch Progressive Metal where Kaushal growls and roars manically while Vinay and Rahil give a lesson in progressiveness and heaviness with their stringed weapons. Then we have Master Supreme, a short and sweet headbanging tune led by the crushing drums by Mayur, bringing to our avid ears the most insane elements from Progressive and Groove Metal. “The song is about the pervasive influence and the growing epidemic of gurus/godmen and their cults in Indian society as well as abroad. Religion and spirituality is the biggest scam in the world; and because we live in India, we have a front-row seat to the circus,” commented the band about this austere and captivating song.

After the shortest song of the album, it’s time for the longest one, titled Dead End, offering seven minutes of insanity, rage and eccentricity. In other words, a full-bodied sonic extravaganza full of breaks and variations, not to mention the beautiful Jazz-inspired passage featuring guest Aadarsh Subramaniam and his old school keyboard solo, building an instant bridge to the also pulverizing Identoid, where Rahil extracts truly thunderous roars from his bass while Mayur and Kaushal “duel” to see who’s the most aggressive and demented one, maintaining the album at a high level of ferocity and intricacy. Following such fun tune we have Sugar Pill, showcasing the most progressive of all starts but quickly morphing into a sonic onrush of crisp guitar riffs, Hardcore-inspired drums and raspy growls, fading into a very alternative and sluggish outro, before Zero-Sum Game comes crushing like a thunderbolt, already beginning in full force and bringing a violent Kaushal on vocals, while Vinay keeps firing his classic and slashing guitar lines in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Metal with Avantgarde Metal and Mathcore nuances. Lastly the band offers us all Disassembly Line, not as vibrant and crushing as all previous songs but still a good sample of all the madness the quartet can blast through their music, with highlights to the once again amazing job done by Mayur on drums.

In a nutshell, the guys form Orchid were able to condense all their skills, influences and rage in a very intricate and solid way throughout Miasma, placing their brand new album as a fresh option for fans of heavy music who are always in pursuit of bands that think outside the box and that are not afraid to experiment with the most distinct music styles and genres. Having said that, what are you waiting for to show your support to those Bangalore-based metallers? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and purchase Miasma directly from their BandCamp page as well as from Instamojo. I bet you’ve never thought metal music made in India could sound so insane and eccentric like this, right?

Best moments of the album: Obsolescence, Dead End and Zero-Sum Game.

Worst moments of the album: Disassembly Line.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Obsolescence 5:54
2. Solipsist 2:34
3. Master Supreme 1:10
4. Dead End (feat. Aadarsh Subramaniam) 6:59
5. Identoid 2:47
6. Sugar Pill 4:22
7. Zero-Sum Game 4:32
8. Disassembly Line 3:48

Band members
Kaushal – vocals
Vinay – guitars
Rahil – bass
Mayur – drums, percussion

Guest musician
Aadarsh Subramaniam – keyboard solo on “Dead End”

Album Review – Meathook / Crypts, Coffins, Corpses (2019)

Terror is coming in the form of an absolute ode to all things brutal by this ruthless and demented Death Metal squad from Arizona.

The very first album review of 2019 is an absolute ode to all things brutal, and I’m sure you’ll feel completely disoriented after listening to its 31 minutes of pulverizing and gruesome extreme music. I’m talking about Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, the third full-length installment by American Brutal Death Metal unity Meathook, released on January 1 via Unmatched Brutality Records. Formed in 2007 in Phoenix, Arizona by the Gonzales Brothers, Meathook are ready to strike again six years after the the cruel assault of their 2012 album, Facing Deformity, and their depraved inclinations have only become more sickening with the passage of time.

If the dreams of the deranged could be captured in music, if the tales of their sleeping journeys through kingdoms of the unspeakable and grotesque were vomited out from the mouths of demons, then you would have the sound found in Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, comprised of nine crushing hymns of old school, unrelenting Brutal Death Metal highly recommended for fans of Devourment, Skinless, Ingested and Terrordrome, among other utterly vicious and demolishing metal bands. As the new year begins, a new age of dark dreams and devastation will dawn with the new opus by Meathook, so simply say goodbye to quiet nights and untroubled sleep because terror is coming in the form of the most extreme type of music you can think of.

Wicked noises explode into sheer brutality led by the demented beats by drummer Johnny Gonzales in the opening track Awaiting Torment, while lead singer Mars Gonzales barks like a rabid demon in a feast of violent, gory and visceral sounds just the way we like it; and their onrush of crushing noises goes on in Cauldron of Dead Bodies, a lesson in Brutal Death Metal where guitarists Robin Mack and Aaron Gonzales decimate their strings beautifully, delivering classic Death Metal riffs while the roars by Mars get deeper and deeper. Then Mars once again leads his horde of sick bastards in Purification Through Pain, almost vomiting the lyrics (and therefore making it quite impossible to follow them) while Johnny pulverizes everything and everyone with his bestial drumming, followed by the fulminating title-track Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, perfect for braking your spinal cord in half headbanging, with Robin and Aaron being in total sync with their axes supported by the low-tuned punches by bassist Elliot Thomas in a lecture in gore and dementia. And in Placed Upon the Altar we’re treated to a high-octane devastation bringing the most disturbing and gruesome elements from Brutal Death Metal such as inhumane growls, incendiary guitars and nonstop blast beats, or in other words, another sensational creation by this devilish Death Metal squad.

Leaning towards old school Cannibal Corpse but at the same time presenting a more contemporary vibe, Temples Made From Flesh is a song perfect for slamming into the pit, with Mars sounding absolutely monstrous on vocals, whereas in Disseminated Remains an operatic intro morphs into an ass-kicking display of savagery led by Johnny’s potent and rhythmic beats, hammering our heads mercilessly from start to finish. If you’re still alive after such gargantuan level of havoc blasted by Meathook up until now, you better get ready because the album’s second to last bloodthirsty extravaganza, titled Awakened by the Stench, is just as perverse and vile as the rest of the album, with Mars and Johnny complementing each other’s demonic roars and beats respectively. And last but not least, closing their Death Metal coffin the band offers our avid ears the insanely heavy and brutal Coils of Entrails, presenting hints of the most devastating form of Grindcore, not to mention Mars’ spine-tingling screeches and gnarls as well as Robin’s and Aaron’s razor-edged riffs.

If you have what it takes to face the disturbing and thunderous Death Metal by Meathook, you can take a detailed listen at Crypts, Coffins, Corpses on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you’re already a longtime member of the Death Metal underworld you can purchase your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Unmatched Brutality Records webstore, or from the Comatose Music webstore. As aforementioned, the first review of 2019 was going to be a total carnage, and we have to thank the guys from Meathook  for kicking off this new year on such a high, apocalyptic and barbaric mode for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Cauldron of Dead Bodies, Crypts, Coffins, Corpses and Placed Upon the Altar.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Unmatched Brutality Records

Track listing
1. Awaiting Torment 3:28
2. Cauldron of Dead Bodies 3:39
3. Purification Through Pain 3:09
4. Crypts, Coffins, Corpses 3:38
5. Placed Upon the Altar 3:19
6. Temples Made From Flesh 3:04
7. Disseminated Remains 3:56
8. Awakened by the Stench 3:32
9. Coils of Entrails 3:37

Band members
Mars Gonzales – vocals
Robin Mack – guitar
Aaron Gonzales – guitar
Elliot Thomas – bass
Johnny Gonzales – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018

“Chasing a dream as I go higher
Playing it mean, my heart’s on fire
Living my life, ain’t no pretender
Ready to fight with no surrender.” – No Surrender, by Judas Priest

Another year goes by and, as usual, we lost a lot of good people, including family and friends. In heavy music, 2018 was the year several amazing musicians passed away, such as Dave Holland (former drummer of Judas Priest), Ralph Santolla (former guitarist of Iced Earth, Deicide, Death and Obituary), Vinnie Paul (the talented drummer of Hellyeah, Pantera and Damageplan), Jill Janus (the stunning vocalist of Huntress), and “Fast” Eddie Clarke, one of the meanest guitarists in history and the last of Motörhead’s “Three Amigos”, signaling the definitive end of Motörhead’s classic lineup. Not only that, we also saw the one and only Glenn Tipton, the iconic lead guitarist for Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest and one of the most influential guitar players in the history of metal, opening up about his ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and, as a consequence, having to pull out of the 2018 tour due to his health issues. However, as the Metal Gods themselves sing in their new ass-kicking song No Surrender, we can’t surrender and should keep on fighting with our heads high, always listening to our good old Heavy Metal to inspire us to face our daily struggles.

Enough said already, how about we show the world that we metalheads are still here, always ready for a fight, and that metal music is alive and kicking with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums? From classic bands like Judas Priest, Behemoth and Immortal, to underground bands from all four corners of the earth like Ukraine’s 1914, Australia’s Rise of Avernus and Canada’s Altars of Grief, we can say that 2018 was a damn good year for our beloved Heavy Metal, pointing to a promising future for all its genres and subgenres and proving once again that metal unites us all it doesn’t matter where we live, our culture, language, race or religion. So, get ready to raise your horns and bang your heads nonstop to our selection of best metal albums of the year, and always remember… NO SURRENDER!

1. Judas Priest – Firepower (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Firepower

2. Blaze Bayley – The Redemption of William Black (REVIEW)
What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Enjoy the dramatic conclusion to Blaze’s stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.
Best song of the album: The Dark Side of Black

3. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (REVIEW)
Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before.
Best song of the album: Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica

4. Dragonlord – Dominion (REVIEW)
Exploring themes of darkness, here comes Eric Peterson’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.
Best song of the album: Northlanders

5. Primal Fear – Apocalypse (REVIEW)
The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity and melody.
Best song of the album: The Ritual

6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (REVIEW)
The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Mighty Ravendark

7. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind (REVIEW)
It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these Ukrainian Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen.
Best song of the album: Passchenhell

8. Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau (REVIEW)
Here come Australia’s own Rise of Avernus with their most symphonic, heaviest and darkest opus thus far.
Best song of the album: Eigenlicht

9. Altars of Grief – Iris (REVIEW)
A superb album of Canadian Blackened Doom narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.
Best song of the album: Broken Hymns

10. Marduk – Viktoria (REVIEW)
A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound.
Best song of the album: Viktoria

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory (REVIEW)
12. Motorjesus – Race to Resurrection (REVIEW)
13. Borgne – [∞] (REVIEW)
14. SynlakrosS – Malice Murder (REVIEW)
15. Xenoblight – Procreation (REVIEW)
16. Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (REVIEW)
17. Tamerlan Empire – Age of Ascendancy (REVIEW)
18. Coiled Around Thy Spine – Shades (REVIEW)
19. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura (REVIEW)
20. NovaReign – Legends (REVIEW)

In addition, how about another round of awesome albums released this year, this time presenting to you our Top 10 EP’s of 2018? Those shorter-than-a-regular-album but still heavier-than-hell releases are like going to a fancy restaurant, where you might not get a humongous amount of food, but what’s served on your plate is more than enough to please your palate (or your ears, in this case). And, of course, you leave the place eager for more of that tasty and exquisite metal music.

1. Violent Life Violent Death – Come, Heavy Breath (REVIEW)
2. Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad (REVIEW)
3. Godless – Swarm (REVIEW)
4. The Black Swamp – Witches (REVIEW)
5. Progenie Terrestre Pura – starCross (REVIEW)
6. Lebowskii – Liquidators (REVIEW)
7. Geisterwald – Geisterwald (REVIEW)
8. Soul Dissolution – Nowhere (REVIEW)
9. Dark Archive – Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon (REVIEW)
10. Forte Ruin – Rebuilding the Machinery (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2018? Once again don’t forget to check Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Editorial Staff), tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a sensational fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of the underground and independent metal scene!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2019!

And last but not least, if you want to support Glenn Tipton and everyone else on their personal battles against Parkinson’s, you can purchase the official Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation Charity T-shirt by clicking HERE or make a direct donation following the instructions found HERE. You can always help your family, friends and fellow metalheads, as simple as that, and who knows, maybe we can make this world a better place to live.

Album Review – Godless / Swarm EP (2018)

Committed to pure, unadulterated, lightning-fast, ear-shredding, thrash-influenced Death Metal, this promising Indian act is ready to kill with their crushing and groovy sophomore EP.

From their inauspicious origins in 2015 in the city of Hyderabad, the capital of southern India’s Telangana state, within a very exotic metal music scene, Death/Thrash Metal squad Godless slowly rose to the very top of the country’s Death Metal class thanks to their unapologetic commitment to pure, unadulterated, lightning-fast, ear-shredding, thrash-influenced Death Metal. Comprised of Kaushal LS on vocals, Ravi Nidamarthy on the guitars, Abbas Razvi on bass and Aniketh Yadav on drums, Godless had an amazing year in 2018, having won the Wacken Metal Battle India, having played at the iconic Wacken Open Air as the great prize of the competition won, and having released their sophomore EP, a thrashing and groovy beast entitled Swarm.

Featuring a dark and devilish artwork by Khaos Diktator Design, Swarm deals with controversial themes such as zombification, cosmic horror, reanimation of the dead, occultism and religion. “We actually started to work on the Swarm EP right after our debut EP Centuries of Decadence. We didn’t really have any direction in mind but wrote the song Infected by the Black. Things naturally took on a more aggressive, thrashier and faster direction, and we just continued the flow from there on for the rest of the EP,” commented the band about their new album, inviting us all to slam into the pit and roar together with them on their quest for extreme music.

The soothing sound of water blended with cryptic, otherworldly noises in the intro Exordium set the stage for Godless to decimate our senses in Infected By The Black, blasting a more demonic version of the already heavy-as-hell Trash Metal by their countrymen SystemHouse33, and with Kaushal barking and roaring like a beast in a true Death Metal style while Aniketh pounds his drums frantically and with tons of groove. Following such pulverizing start we have From Beyond, another brutal tune blending the most electrifying elements from Thrash, Death and Groove Metal where Ravi’s riffs sound as metallic and piercing as possible, accompanied by Abbas and his menacing bass punches.

Then growling deeper and deeper like a rabid creature, Kaushal leads his henchmen in the fulminating Deathcult, presenting a crisp and thunderous sonority thanks to the fantastic sync between Abbas and Aniketh, not to mention Ravi’s incendiary guitar lines. Put differently, this is old school Thrash Metal infused with the most carnivorous elements from Death Metal, for the absolute delight of fans of extreme music. And last but not least, with the help of guest guitarist Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager (Obscura, Despotic, NYN), the quartet unleashes hell upon humanity with the thrashing and infernal tune Empty Graves, where Kaushal goes full Death Metal on vocals while Aniketh sounds like an unstoppable stone crusher on drums, bringing total chaos in the form of music to end the EP on a high and visceral note.

All the devastation and groove brought forth by Godless can be better appreciated by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by listening to more of their music on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing Swarm from their BandCamp page or webstore,  as well as from iTunes or Amazon. Because you know, whenever you feel the urge to slam into the circle pit and scream like a beast to the sound of crushing Death and Thrash Metal, you can count on this promising Indian act to provide you the perfect soundtrack to that.

Best moments of the album: Infected By The Black.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Exordium 0:51
2. Infected By The Black 3:33
3. From Beyond 3:44
4. Deathcult 3:24
5. Empty Graves (feat. Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager) 3:50

Band members
Kaushal LS – vocals
Ravi Nidamarthy – guitars
Abbas Razvi – bass
Aniketh Yadav – drums

Guest musician
Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlaeger – guitars on “Empty Graves”

Album Review – All My Sins / Pra Sila – Vukov Totem (2018)

Immerse yourself into a work of windswept mysticism and pure pagan fury dedicated to the most important and powerful totem in the culture of southern Slavs.

Originating from the southern regions of Europe, Serbian Black Metal duo All My Sins was officially formed by multi-instrumentalists Nav Cosmos and V in the year of 2000 in the city of Pančevo around the idea of claiming their own place among the already-established Second Wave of Black Metal. Inspired by the spiritual heritage of the land they come from, the band started making records, each of them conceptually placed around certain mythological symbols such as their brand new opus entitled Pra Sila – Vukov Totem, which would be roughly translated to English as “The Primordial Force of the Wolf’s Totem”, a work of windswept mysticism and pure pagan fury dedicated to the most important and powerful totem in the culture of southern Slavs, the wolf.

Featuring a somber cover art by Romanian musician and artist Daniel Dorobantu (Thy Veils) and guest musicians Nemir, Khargash and Jaguar (from underground Serbian bands like Obscured and Terrörhammer), All My Sins’ newborn eight-track album portrays the wolf as the ancient ancestor of Serbian people, a creature with unusual attributes that is believed to possess obscure divine powers, narrating a vast spiritual journey throughout the realms of southern Slavic mysticism. The meeting of man and wolf, mystically dangerous yet magnificent at the same time, depicts the encounter with a demonic being and concurrently the moment when a man meets his native forefather. In the world of wilderness abandoned by man, contradictory and strong, the wolf represents everything we are not, unknown and terrifying, or the perfection of a stranger.

In the opening track Vukov Totem, or “Totem of the Wolf”, a demented blast of visceral Black Metal invades our ears mercilessly, with V pulverizing his strings with his violent shredding while Nemir shakes the foundations of the earth with his blast beats before a cosmic break turns the sonic devastation into a more progressive and atmospheric extravaganza. Their incendiary feast of Slavic Black Metal goes on in Zov iz Magle, or “A Call from the Mist”, where Nav Cosmos roars and gnarls powerfully from the bottom of his blackened heart, with the entire song feeling very dense, enfolding and also bringing some deep, phantasmagorical clean vocals, while its instrumental parts remind me of old school Norwegian Black Metal; followed by Vetrovo Kolo, or “The Wheel of the Wind”, another brutal explosion of extreme sounds by All My Sins where Nemir sounds even more enraged and bestial on drums, while Nav Cosmos vociferates manically. Furthermore, the song’s razor-edged guitar riffs will violently pierce your mind and soul, leaving you completely disoriented after all is said and done. And U Mlazevima Krvi, or “In the Streams of Blood”, brings forward devastation, rage, madness and top-notch Pagan Black Metal to our ears. What else can you ask for, right? Moreover, Nav Cosmos’ deranged growls in his mother tongue end up adding an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality, just like what happens in the whole album.

Then it’s time to get smashed into the circle pit to the fulminating Opsena, or “The Phantasm”, showcasing almost eight minutes of crushing Black Metal with Atmospheric Black Metal nuances while V continues to brutalize his strings powerfully, with the music morphing into a completely new sonority after a cryptic, somber passage, feeling a lot more melodic and introspective. In the bridge Mesecu u Oko, or “Towards the Moon’s Eye”, wicked, Stygian noises are spiced up by Nav Cosmo’s anguished gnarls, flowing into over 10 minutes of a beyond atmospheric display of contemporary Black Metal named Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Prvi), or “The Final Equinox (Act I)”, sounding epic and bold from start to finish, with Nemir delivering sheer darkness through his crisp drumming, until melancholy permeates the air in Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi), or “The Final Equinox (Act II)”, featuring guest Khargash on bass and backing vocals. This is a fantastic Atmospheric Black Metal chant infused with hints of Doom Metal, remaining as sluggish and grim as it can be and, therefore, putting a pensive ending to such demolishing album of Pagan Black Metal.

Brewing since the ancient days, Pra Sila – Vukov Totem (available for a full listen on YouTube) is now being released into the modern era with a timelessness that’s exciting to behold, and you can savor that first-class fusion of Black Metal and the Slavic culture by purchasing the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Saturnal Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Amazon, or from Discogs. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on VKontakte, and immerse yourself into a sensational world of South Slavic Black Metal mysticism crafted by this talented and undisputed Serbian duo.

Best moments of the album: Vukov Totem, Vetrovo Kolo and U Mlazevima Krvi.

Worst moments of the album: Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi).

Released in 2018 Saturnal Records

Track listing
1. Vukov Totem 9:43
2. Zov iz Magle 7:56
3. Vetrovo Kolo 6:25
4. U Mlazevima Krvi 3:52
5. Opsena 7:57
6. Mesecu u Oko 1:19
7. Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Prvi) 10:25
8. Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi) 8:10

Band members
Nav Cosmos – vocals, recitals, bass
V – guitars, bass, clean and backing vocals, recitals, keys, vrg

Guest musicians
Nemir – drums (session)
Khargash – bass, backing vocals on “Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi)”
Jaguar – backing vocals on “U Mlazevima Krvi”

Album Review – When Plagues Collide / Tutor of the Dying (2018)

A superb amalgamation of melodic riffs and sweeping solos embraced by the beauty and finesse of symphonic music, blasted by a Belgian outfit that’s among us to dictate violence and spread the plague.

As total strangers, but sharing the same passion for heavy music, five friends met in June 2016 with the same goal in mind, which was translating their vision of life and musical ideas into a genre that’s not well known or developed among headbangers yet, but that has tons of potential to become your next favorite thing in metal. I’m talking about Symphonic Deathcore, an amalgamation of sounds and styles that encompasses melodic riffs and sweeping solos embraced by the beauty and finesse of symphonic music, and there’s no better band to introduce you to this thrilling new genre than Belgian metallers When Plagues Collide (a name standing for the reflection of our modern-day society and, therefore, allowing a critical view on social issues) and their debut full-length opus, titled Tutor of the Dying.

Believe me when I say you’ll be absolutely stunned by the complex and brutal creations by this Aarschot-based squad, comprised of Wouter Dergez on vocals, Joris Dergez and Santy Van der Mieren on the guitars, Bastiaan Barbieux on bass and Siebe Hermans on drums. Featuring an old school Death Metal-inspired artwork by Hans Trasid of Disart Design, as well as the very special guest musicians Ben Duerr (Shadow of Intent, Hollow Prophet), Luke Griffin (Acrania, Human Error) and Tim De Ridder (The Seventh, Before He Shot her), Tutor of the Dying is highly recommended for fans of bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Make them Suffer, Martyr Defiled and Molotov Solution, with each one of the album’s 11 tracks “dictating violence and spreading the plague”, like the band itself would say.

If you’re curious to know what Symphonic Deathcroe is all about, simply hit play and let cryptic sounds and noises from the underworld kick off the six-minute aria Messengers of the Holy Falsehood, being gradually accompanied by a choir and background symphonic elements until all hell breaks loose to the demented beats by Siebe and the lunatic vociferations by Wouter, with both Joris and Santy firing truly incendiary riffs from their axes. Fertilization with the Body of Men is a lot more metallic and closer to traditional Metalcore, with Bastiaan and Siebe shaking the foundations of the earth with their rumbling instruments, not to mention how the background piano and other symphonic elements bring an ethereal touch to the band’s sonic havoc, whereas Legion is another ass-kicking, demolishing tune by the quintet where Wouter sounds even more enraged and demented than before, with the strident sound of the guitars beautifully penetrating deep inside our minds.

And their level of destruction and rage only grows in Dictating Violence, a Deathcore tune perfect for slamming into the pit featuring the first guest of the album, vocalist Ben Duerr, blasting sheer brutality and wrath. Then an eerie and somber semi-acoustic bridge titled Als Imperatieve Grootmacht (which means “as an imperative superpower”, from Dutch) showcases devilish vocalizations and enigmatic words, setting the tone for the fulminating title-track Tutor of the Dying, bringing the most demonic, high-pitched screeches by Wouter, while Siebe shows no mercy for his drums nor for our necks. In other words, this is top-notch Deathcore to the masses with a phantasmagorical and amazing atmosphere, which can also be said about Fleshmould, where guest vocalist Luke Griffin growls and barks like a beast together with Wouter while the band’s guitar duo continues their insane shredding feast for our total delight.

An imposing intro evolves into a bold and introspective creation named Belials Archetype, led by the visceral riffs by both Joris and Santy and also presenting truly wicked lyrics (“Malevolent thoughts slither through the mind of this broken man / The weeping eyes of his unborn child reflecting on the name of his murdered wife / The ever cold breeze carries her scent as reminder of the elegance of life / In her fragile existence she achieves in maintaining the breath of belief in the essence of his being / Still death and reunification offer solace and liberation”); and When Plagues Collide continue their deranged feast of sounds and noises in Marked for Destruction, featuring guest vocalist Tim De Ridder, all embraced by spot-on symphonic elements and without showing any signs of the band slowing down. Quite the contrary, they keep taking their violent Deathcore to new heights, obviously making us fans of extreme music happy. Lastly, presenting a sonority slightly different from the previous songs we have Corpus Maleficus, more symphonic and less barbaric than its predecessors but of course still keeping intact their Deathcore roots, with highlights to the great sync between Siebe’s beats and the flammable guitars by Joris and Santy, before the orchestral, Stygian outro Vows captivates our senses and depressurizes our souls from all the devastation brought forth by the band throughout the entire album.

As already mentioned, I’m certain that after taking a more detailed listen at Tutor of the Dying in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify you’ll get addicted to Symphonic Deathcore, and in order to show your appreciation for the music by When Plagues Collide don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel. In a nutshell, the excellent Tutor of the Dying, available from the band’s BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from Chugcore’s BandCamp page, from iTunes and from Amazon, is the utmost depiction of what high-end Symphonic Deathcore is all about, always dictating violence, always spreading the plague and, above all that, showing us all When Plagues Collide are among us to stay (and slay).

Best moments of the album: Messengers of the Holy Falsehood, Dictating Violence and Tutor of the Dying.

Worst moments of the album: Corpus Maleficus.

Released in 2018 Chugcore

Track listing
1. Messengers of the Holy Falsehood 6:27
2. Fertilization with the Body of Men 4:25
3. Legion 4:16
4. Dictating Violence (feat. Ben Duerr) 3:42
5. Als Imperatieve Grootmacht 2:41
6. Tutor of the Dying 4:49
7. Fleshmould (feat. Luke Griffin) 3:28
8. Belials Archetype 3:25
9. Marked for Destruction (feat. Tim De Ridder) 4:00
10. Corpus Maleficus 4:18
11. Vows 2:54

Band members
Wouter Dergez – vocals
Joris Dergez – guitar
Santy Van der Mieren – guitar
Bastiaan Barbieux – bass
Siebe Hermans – drums

Guest musicians
Ben Duerr – vocals on “Dictating Violence”
Luke Griffin – vocals on “Fleshmould”
Tim De Ridder – vocals on “Marked for Destruction”

Album Review – Tragacanth / The Journey of a Man (2018)

Follow the tale of a young man’s downward spiral into the abyss to the sound of the symphonic and progressive devastation blasted by this excellent Dutch quintet.

If you’re familiar with the work by Dutch Symphonic/Progressive Black/Death Metal act Tragacanth, having already listened to their 2015 debut full-length album Anthology of the East, you know how those five skilled metallers love to blend their entrancing melodies and symphonic sections with lyrical themes ranging from spiritual wars to mythical creatures, telling the tales of ancient Babylonian times. Now in 2018 it’s time for the band comprised of Terry Stooker on vocals, Erik Brouwer and Adrian Neagoe on the guitars, Mark Oosterbaan on bass and Jasper van Minnen on drums to strike once again with their sophomore opus entitled The Journey of a Man, this time showcasing a lyrical mix between mythological and purely personal topics, being recommended for fans of cult acts such as Nile, Carach Angren, Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth.

Formed in 2014 in Utrecht, a city in the central Netherlands that has been a religious center for centuries, Tragacanth are one of those bands that do not just create music, spicing up their creations with a fantastic storytelling, and their new album is the perfect depiction of their highly-developed musical and lyrical skills. “From the mystical, enigmatic Far East covered in Anthology of the East, this time we travel to Ancient Greek times where a young man finds out he is to perish soon. Wandering the complex maze of emotions and disease running through his veins, The Journey of a Man tells the tale of his downward spiral into the abyss,” commented the band about their newborn spawn, inviting us all to join this young man in his personal and very obscure journey.

Enter the ominous realm of Tragacanth to the sound of the eerie opening track Survival: Stagnate Reality, a lot more progressive than symphonic I might say, with the band’s guitarists Erik and Adrian giving a lecture in Progressive Death Metal, sounding utterly insane, heavy and intricate. And their creepy guitars and bass lines dictate the rhythm in Denial: They are Mistaken, where Terry sounds diabolical with his gnarling in a brilliant fusion of the Symphonic Black Metal by Dimmu Borgir with the Progressive Death Metal by bands like Augury and Virulent Depravity; followed by Anger: Kitrine Chole, a beautiful devastation blasted by Tragacanth where its bass lines will tremble inside your head while Jasper smashes your skull with his complex and powerful beats, not to mention how demonically Terry vociferates the song’s insane lyrics (“A black haze thwarts / My vision’s blurred / Sever the chains / Composure can’t hold / This pent up energy / The rage breaking free / The walls imploding destroying all what once was”).

Their demented feast of Progressive Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal goes on in the pulverizing Depression: Waning Light, featuring the angelical voice of Romanian vocalist Manuela Marchis, and where the drums by Jasper sound heavier than hell while Terry keeps growling and screaming rabidly, turning it into my favorite song of the album by far.  Then not ready to accept his fate, the man turns to the gods, with the path leading him to Hades, god of the underworld, Thanatos, the personification of death, and eventually to those cruel sisters of fate, the Moirai, resulting in the vibrant Bargaining: Will You Answer Me?, featuring guest vocalist Rik van Schaaik in the role of Hades and Thanatos, among other additional vocal lines, with the music being as infernal and complex as its predecessors thanks to the impressive job done by Erik, Adrian and Mark with their stringed weapons. And a cryptic, Middle-Eastern beginning evolves into a dense and impactful display of Progressive Metal in Nightmare: The Vision, with highlights to its mesmerizing bass punches and ass-kicking drums, ending in a very symphonic and captivating manner.

Once again drinking form the fountain of modern-day Progressive Death Metal, get ready to have your spinal cord broken in half to the brutal headbanging tune Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits, with the guitars by Erik and Adrian bringing a touch of delicacy to this sonic demolition, and their onrush of berserk and intricate sounds goes on in Suffering: The Essence Implodes, where Terry roars like a demon while Jasper shows no mercy for his drums (nor for our necks), also bringing the most pulverizing elements from Death and Black Metal thoroughly added to the musicality. Lastly, darker and more introspective than all previous songs we have Death: Journey’s End, closing the album on a Stygian note, with Erik and Adrian stealing the spotlight with their slashing riffs and soulful solos, not to mention all the poetry flowing form the song’s lyrics (“Let go / Enclaved by the river Styx / Lies a tomb for me / My celestial sanctuary / Let go / An eternal resting place / All alone and forgotten /The Asphodel Meadows”).

As already mentioned, Tragacanth are not your average metal band, being true masters in blending heavy music with a deep and detailed background story, always keeping in mind the band has only a couple of years of existence (which means they still have a lot to grow in the coming years). Hence, The Journey of a Man, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from several different locations such as their own BandCamp, the Pest Records’ BandCamp, the Loud Rage Music webstore, iTunes, Amazon and Discogs, is a fantastic materialization of that impressive ability by those four Dutch metallers, beautifully taking us down into the abyss together with the  album’s main character.

Best moments of the album: Anger: Kitrine Chole, Depression: Waning Light and Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits.

Worst moments of the album: Suffering: The Essence Implodes.

Released in 2018 Pest Records

Track listing  
1. Survival: Stagnate Reality 5:24
2. Denial: They are Mistaken 7:21
3. Anger: Kitrine Chole 4:25
4. Depression: Waning Light (feat. Manuela Marchis) 8:40
5. Bargaining: Will You Answer Me? (feat. Rik van Schaaik) 4:36
6. Nightmare: The Vision 4:54
7. Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits 5:18
8. Suffering: The Essence Implodes 4:55
9. Death: Journey’s End 6:34

Band members
Terry Stooker – vocals
Erik Brouwer – guitars
Adrian Neagoe – guitars
Mark Oosterbaan – bass
Jasper van Minnen – drums

Guest musicians
Manuela Marchis – vocals on “Depression: Waning Light”
Rik van Schaaik – vocals on “Bargaining: Will You Answer Me”