Album Review – Xenos / Filthgrinder (2020)

No compromise, no fashion, no bullshit, just Thrash Metal. That’s what three unstoppable Italian metallers have to offer us all in their excellent debut album.

Are you ready to crush your skull into the circle pit to the sound of a 100% pure, no bullshit, no shenanigans Thrash Metal album born from the urge to go back to the roots of the genre and inspired by the more technical wing of 90’s Thrash Metal? That’s exactly what you’re going to get in Filthgrinder, the debut album by an Agrigento, Sicily-based Thrash Metal trio formed at the end of 2018 by vocalist and bassist Ignazio Nicastro (from post-thrashers Eversin) together with guitarist Giuseppe Taormina and drummer Danilo Ficicchia that goes by the sharp name of Xenos, clearly inspired by thrashing masters like Megadeth, Xentrix, Annihilator and Slayer, but of course without forgetting to add their own dosage of personality to each one of their compositions. Featuring a modern and aggressive album art that perfectly represents the band’s sound, as well as guest appearances by Jeff “Mantas” Dunn from Venom and Simon Cobb from Anihilated, Filthgrinder exalts the characteristics of the genre through fast and aggressive compositions, yet at the same time sounding technical and full of groove.

Soldados works like an acoustic and serene intro, or maybe I should say “the calm before the storm” by Xenos, as they begin their infuriated, berserk Thrash Metal attack in the title-track Filthgrinder, with Giuseppe shredding his axe in great fashion while Danilo pounds his drums mercilessly. Put differently, it’s pure old school Bay Area Thrash led by Ignazio’s raspy and demented screams, with no artificial elements added at all, followed by Post Apocalypse Breed, just as insane and frantic as its predecessor, reminding me of some of the creations by Exodus and Slayer. Furthermore, Danilo accelerates the song’s pace while Ignazio brings thunder and lightning to the musicality through his vocals and bass punches, resulting in a must-listen song for lovers of the genre.

And pounding our heads with their razor-edged riffs and venomous beats, the band offers us all Birth Of A Tyrant, a headbanging tune where Danilo is once again berserk on drums, also featuring a sick guitar solo by the aforementioned Jeff “Mantas” Dunn, whereas So Old, So Cold sounds and feels a lot more infuriated and faster, or in other words, a frantic display of classic Thrash Metal by the trio with Giuseppe kicking some serious ass on the guitar while Ignazio continues to bark manically, bursting his lungs with anger and rage. And leaning towards the Speed Metal played by Megadeth infused with the fury of Exodus we have Iconoclast, with violent beats and rumbling bass lines working as the driving force of this slamming feast.

There’s absolutely no sign of slowing down as the trio keeps blasting sheer violence and rebelliousness in Angel Of Silence, with its background speech adding a touch of insanity to the overall musicality while Ignazio and Giuseppe are on fire with their metallic bass lines and sick shredding, respectively. Then we have Xenos’ superb cover version for Megadeth’s all-time classic Peace Sells (check out the original one HERE), showcasing a fantastic job done by all band members who give their own raw and demented twist to this thrashing anthem, with Giuseppe stealing the spotlight with both his wicked riffs and crisp solos. And last but not least, featuring guest vocals by Simon Cobb, the closing song Of Magma And War is another ode to all things thrash where Ignazio and Simon make a demonic vocal duo while Danilo shows no mercy for his drum set, concluding the album on the highest and most visceral note possible.

In a nutshell, if thrashing is your business and business is good, you must give Xenos a try by following them on Facebook and by purchasing Filthgrinder directly from their own BandCamp page, from My Kingdom Music’s Big Cartel, or from other distinct locations by clicking HERE. Those Italian metallers definitely know what they’re doing and where they’re headed to, therefore paving a very interesting future in their up-and-coming career. As the band members themselves like to say, there’s “no compromise, no fashion, no bullshit, just Thrash Metal” in the music found in Filthgrinder, and to be fair that’s all we can ask for (and all we need) when the style in question is our beloved Thrash Metal.

Best moments of the album: Filthgrinder, Peace Sells and Of Magma And War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Club Inferno Ent.

Track listing
1. Soldados 2:34
2. Filthgrinder 3:28
3. Post Apocalypse Breed 5:02
4. Birth Of A Tyrant (feat. Jeff “Mantas” Dunn) 3:41
5. So Old, So Cold 4:16
6. Iconoclast 3:38
7. Angel Of Silence 5:26
8. Peace Sells (Megadeth cover) 3:52
9. Of Magma And War (feat. Simon Cobb) 5:37

Band members
Ignazio Nicastro – vocals, bass
Giuseppe Taormina – guitars
Danilo Ficicchia – drums

Guest musicians
Jeff “Mantas” Dunn – guitar solo on “Birth Of A Tyrant”
Simon Cobb – additional vocals on “Of Magma And War”

Album Review – Colosso / Apocalypse EP (2020)

Pestilence, War, Death and Famine masterfully turned into brutal and obscure Death Metal by a heavier-than-hell unity hailing from Portugal.

What if a vicious horde hailing from Portugal decided to turn the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos, into gruesome and raw Death Metal? That’s exactly what a project formed in 2011, currently comprised of Max Tomé on guitars, keyboards and vocals, Alexandre Ribeiro (Grog) on bass and Robin Stone (Norse) on drums, collectively known as Porto, Portugal-based Death Metal unity Colosso, has to offer us all in their brand new EP simply titled Apocalypse, translating into modern and sharp Death Metal all the darkness flowing from the four riders Pestilence, War, Famine and Death.

After years of toiling in the underground, putting out six releases of ever-evolving Death Metal such as their debut full-length opus Peaceful Abrasiveness, in 2012, and more recently Rebirth, in 2018, Colosso seem to have reached their most demonic shape and form in Apocalypse, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Norse, Morbid Angel, Nile, Incantation and Suffocation, among other behemoths of extreme music. Mixed and mastered by Max Tomé himself, and featuring a beyond obscure album art by Phlegeton Art Studio, as well as guest vocals by Guilherme Henriques of Oak and Gaerea, Diogo Santana of Analepsy, and Sérgio Afonso of Bleeding Display, Apocalypse is an undoubtedly breathtaking and refreshingly diverse album, showcasing the myriad aspects of this bold and innovative Death Metal band without compromising on their aggressive, apocalyptic sound.

And pestilence and plague permeate the air in the vicious and heavy-as-hell Pestilence, blending the violence of Death Metal with the grim and infernal sounds of Blackened Doom while guest vocalist Guilherme Henriques barks and roars like a creature from the netherworld. Not only that, Robin smashes his drums mercilessly nonstop, with that disturbing and evil onrush of sounds going on and on until the song’s visceral ending. Then guest Sérgio Afonso lends his guttural vocals to Colosso in the also Stygian tune War, with the sounds of machine guns and explosions making the whole song even more realistic, leaning towards classic Death Metal. Moreover, Alexandre’s bass jabs and Robin’s beats feel like the epitome of evil, resulting in a pulverizing display of extreme music for lovers of the genre.

Max himself is responsible for the vocal duties in Death, a lot more melodic and crisper than its predecessors while still providing the band’s characteristic rawness and darkness. Furthermore, Max is spot-on with his razor-edged riffs accompanied by Robin’s intricate drums and, as a surprise, Max fires clean, ethereal vocals instead of the album’s characteristic putrid gnarls, bringing elements from Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal to Colosso’s core savagery. And last but not least, Diogo Santana provides his share of deep guttural roars to Famine, where the band gets back to their most demented and hellish mode, showcasing all band members in total sync led by Max’s strident riffs, while Robin sounds like a stone crusher on drums and, as a consequence, flirting with Brutal Death Metal at times.

In summary, if you’re an admirer of the meanest and heaviest side of Death Metal you must give these Portuguese metallers a very good try as Max and his henchmen have all it takes to explode your mind and darken your soul with their brand new installment Apocalypse, which by the way will soon be available from the band’s own BandCamp page and from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in distinct formats such as the awesome T-shirt + CD + Digital Download bundle. Also, don’t forget to show your support to Colosso by following them on Facebook and by listening to more of their somber creations on Spotify. As the four dreadful figures in the Book of Revelation who symbolize the evils to come at the end of the world get closer and closer to us, there’s nothing better than the avalanche of Death Metal roars crafted by Colosso to provide them a warm and friendly welcome, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: War and Famine.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Pestilence 8:14
2. War 4:07
3. Death 4:11
4. Famine 4:14

Band members
Max Tomé – guitars, keyboards, vocals on “Death”
Alexandre Ribeiro – bass
Robin Stone – drums

Guest musicians
Guilherme Henriques – vocals on “Pestilence”
Sérgio Afonso – vocals on “War”
Diogo Santana – vocals on “Famine”

Album Review – Gorevent / Fate (2020)

Let’s all slam into the circle pit to the sound of the new album by this ruthless Japanese outfit, representing the sound of humanity come full circle.

Ushering in a new age of primitive savagery come Niigata, Japan-based Brutal Slamming Death Metal kings Gorevent, armed to the teeth with their brand new opus entitled Fate, the fifth full-length album in their undisputed career, representing the sound of humanity come full circle, ending in blood and darkness as we began. Put differently, remorseless riffs, blunt force trauma rhythm battery and animalistic vocals are the main ingredients in the new slamming feast brought forth by this unrelenting band formed in the already distant year of 2004 and currently comprised of Gokucho on vocals, Suguru and Kasahara on the guitars and Takasick on bass, not to mention Metadon, who recorded the drums for the album as a session musician. Featuring a beyond obscure artwork by an enigmatic artist named Mr. Utsuro, Fate will smash you like an insect, being highly recommended for fans of the vicious creations by bands like Devourment, Autopsy, Visceral Disgorge and Cephalotripsy.

Get ready to have your spinal cord and your skull crushed to pieces in the opening track Confront, sounding as heavy and rude as it can be with Gokucho blasting his Chirs Barnes-inspired deep roars like a beast, while session drummer Metadon proves why he was chosen to record the album. After such demented welcome card the band offers our putrid ears the also gory Justice, where Suguru and Kasahara simply smash their stringed weapons in a feast of infernal riffs perfect for headbanging or slamming manically, and their brutal and primeval sounds keep hammering our heads in Keep It Tightening, where its guitars will slash your ears while Takasick and Metadon generate a thunderous ambience with their respective bass punches and beats. In Swell, a song for lovers of our good old headbanging, Gokucho’s guttural gnarls get closer to the ones of a dark and demonic creature, resulting in a first-class, gruesome Death Metal composition where not a single space is left empty.

Then it’s time for Gorevent to accelerate their beastly machine and deliver sheer brutality in Energies, tailored for breaking your neck in half to the sound of the blast beast by Metadon while the band’s guitar duo extract tons of aggressiveness from their strings. Needless to say, their demented party has no time to end, offering us all the Brutal Death Metal extravaganza entitled Round 13, where Gokucho’s primate growls are effectively supported by the vicious sounds crafted by his bandmates, whereas in the title-track Fate we all witness guest vocalist Ryo Honma taking his vile vocals to a whole new level of dementia and brutality, while Metadon keeps the song’s pace obscure and evil. Put differently, it couldn’t have sounded more demonic than this, ending the album on a high and visceral note, and as a “bonus track” to such violent album Gorevent deliver the also berserk and grim Day to Head, reminding me of the early days of Cannibal Corpse when all you could hear were deep roars and crushing beats, definitely not recommended for the lighthearted.

In a nutshell, although Gorevent might not be reinventing Death Metal nor anything close to that in their new album Fate, those Japanese metallers did a very good and solid job throughout the entire album, living up to the legacy of Brutal Slamming Death Metal and, even more important than that, providing fans of the genre more fuel for their insane circle pits. Hence, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, including their tour dates, as you might be able to witness them live in your city crushing everything and everyone that dares to cross their path, and don’t forget to purchase Fate from your favorite retailer such as the Comatose Music’s BandCamp page or webstore, Apple Music and Amazon. While veteran metal acts like Gorevent exist, and I guess we can already call them veterans, we can rest assured Death Metal will remain strong, violent and gory just the way we like it, and based on the sheer aggressiveness flowing from each and every track found in Fate I honestly (and happily) don’t believe the band is thinking about calling it quits in the foreseeable future.

Best moments of the album: Justice, Energies and Round 13.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Comatose Music

Track listing
1. Confront 2:51
2. Justice 2:39
3. Keep It Tightening 3:04
4. Swell 3:12
5. Energies 3:13
6. Round 13 2:36
7. Fate 4:10
8. Day to Head 3:13

Band members
Gokucho – vocals
Suguru – guitar
Kasahara – guitar
Takasick – bass

Guest musician
Metadon – drums (session)
Ryo Honma – vocals on “Fate”

Album Review – Frogg / A Reptilian Dystopia EP (2020)

A short and sweet stash of riffs, licks and raw emotion inoculated over the years, poured out into the world in the form of modern and thrilling Technical Death Metal.

Formed in 2019 in Stamford, a town in Delaware County, New York, United States, the unrelenting Modern and Technical Death Metal project known as Frogg has been in the works for years in the mind of Sky Moon Clark, and over the years he has been inoculating a stash of riffs, licks and raw emotion, which will now be poured out into the world in the form of the band’s debut EP beautifully entitled A Reptilian Dystopia. Comprised of the aforementioned Sky Moon Clark on lead vocals and guitars, Liam Zintz-Kunkel on rhythm guitars, Siebe Sol Sijpkens on bass, Emma Rae on keyboards and backing vocals and Anthony Barrone on drums, Frogg are one of those bands highly recommended for metalheads looking for something new and creative, especially fans of Obscura, Arsis, Necrophagist and Born of Osiris, blending the violence from classic Death Metal with modern and innovative sounds from the current music scene.

Produced and mixed by Shane Stanton, mastered by Ermin Hamidovic (Systematic Productions), distributed by Distrokid, and featuring a devilish artwork by Yann Kempen and Bertrand Lefebvree, the short and sweet A Reptilian Dystopia will certainly put a smile on your face while you headbang to each one of its four well-engendered and classy tracks. “Our EP is kind of our raw sound put on a plate without much refinement, but it’s still the basic punch and flavour Frogg has to offer. Just think of the EP as our base, while our in-the-works Album I (expected 2021/2022) will be a more fleshed out form of Frogg with an emphasized focus on the overall songs start to finish,” said Mr. Sky Moon Clark himself about the future material Frogg intend to release.

Right from the very first second in Ancient Rain we can enjoy tons of intricacy and insanity flowing from all instruments, while the song’s austere lyrics are effectively vociferated by Sky Moon (“Surrender to the ancient rain / Greed is all there is to blame / No vaccination to this strain / ‘Til earth is free of human stain / Deep below the monster waits / Under ice and time and space”). Not only that, Anthony slams his drums majestically, with the song also showcasing a great riffage sync between Sky Moon and Liam in what’s a bestial and fun feast of Technical Death Metal. Then groovier and more atmospheric than the opening tune thanks to the thunderous bass by Siebe and the whimsical keys by Emma, Nuclear Storm is a two-minute explosion of aggression and progressiveness led by Anthony’s nonstop beats and fills, maintaining the EP at a very high level of acidity and heaviness.

Strident guitars ignite the metallic extravaganza titled DNA, even more atmospheric than its predecessors and once again showcasing more of their cryptic lyrics (“I refuse to accept this rusty machine / As my sole source of bibliography / Further corrupting our genes / A modification delivering new geography / Dip your brain through your poison”). Put differently, it’s a multi-layered display of the band’s dexterity, with its piercing riffs being effectively intertwined with crushing beats and rumbling bass jabs, not to mention Sky Moon’s awesome closing solo as the icing on the cake. Following such dense composition we have the also amazing Ranidaphobia, which by the way means fear of frogs and toads, bringing forward sheer violence, dementia and rage in the form of Technical Death Metal by Frogg, alternating between the savagery led by Anthony’s visceral drums and the delicate keys and vocalizations by Emma, with the song’s ending being absolutely climatic for our total delight. And as a bonus to their fans, Frogg close the EP with an instrumental version of Ancient Rain, blasting our ears with their refined techniques and deep passion for heavy music.

A member of ASCAP (or the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), Sky Moon Clark and his Frogg are looking for guitarists, bassists and drummers in the New York City area to join him and Emma Rae for their live performances, and if you’re a musician looking for a good challenge the likes of Frogg simply get in touch with them on Facebook. In addition, if you want to support such up-and-coming band from New York, you can purchase A Reptilian Dystopia from the project’s own BandCamp page or from Distrokid. In a nutshell, A Reptilian Dystopia might already be a very entertaining album of metal music, but let’s not forget it’s only the first step (or maybe I should say the first leap) in the promising career of Frogg, which fortunately means we can rest assured we’ll be hearing from Sky Moon and his band a lot more in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: DNA and Ranidaphobia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Ancient Rain 3:23
2. Nuclear Storm 2:05
3. DNA 7:29
4. Ranidaphobia 3:47
5. Ancient Rain (Instrumental) 3:24

Band members
Sky Moon Clark – lead vocals, guitars
Liam Zintz-Kunkel – rhythm guitar
Siebe Sol Sijpkens – bass
Emma Rae – keyboards, backing vocals
Anthony Barrone – drums

Album Review – Secret Rule / Against (2020)

A beautiful album of Symphonic Metal showcasing a collection of songs from romantic and intimate ones to dark and fast tunes, all of them about being overwhelmed in a hurricane of emotions.

Formed at the beginning of 2014 in Rome, Italy with the intention to create a special sound with powerful rhythms and catchy melodies, Symphonic Rock/Metal unity Secret Rule can be considered one of the most hardworking bands of the current Italian scene without a shadow of a doubt, having released nothing more, nothing less than four studio albums since their inception until 2019, or almost one album per year, with the year of 2018 being the only exception to that. After the released of the full-length installments Transposed Emotions, in 2015, Machination, in 2016, The Key to the World, in 2017, and more recently The 7 Endless, in 2019, it’s time for the band spearheaded by the stunning vocalist Angela Di Vincenzo (Kyla Moyl) together with guitarist and keyboardist Andy Menario (Martiria), bassist Michele Raspanti (S.O.S., Graal) and drummer Alex Beccati to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their fifth album, entitled Against, exhaling endless energy, epicness and romance though the band’s feast of heavy riffs, soaring vocals and electronic elements. In other words, you will find all types of songs in Against, from the most romantic, intimate and mellow one to dark, fast and powerful tunes, all of them about being overwhelmed in a hurricane of emotions, exactly how we like it in Symphonic Metal.

The opening track Spira Mirabilis sounds ominous and atmospheric like the soundtrack to a dark horror movie, suddenly exploding into captivating Symphonic Metal led by Angela’s potent vocals who’s always supported by the theatrical performance by her band members, with Andy kicking ass with his wicked keys. And Andy also slashes his strings in great fashion in Shades of Humanity, accompanied by the thunderous bass by Michele while Angela continues to shine on vocals, sounding heavier than its predecessor but at the same time very delicate and also presenting strident guitar solos and never-ending stamina. Then it’s time for Secret Rule to put the pedal to the metal and offer us all a feast of rock and metal sounds in Rise Again, showcasing a great balance between the pounding beats by Alex and the futuristic keys by Andy, while at the same time blending elements from the music by Evanescence, Epica and Lacuna Coil; followed by the more introspective and cryptic Going Nowhere, a song perfect for Angela to steal the spotlight with her dark and sexy vocals amidst the solid and dense musicality blasted by the whole band.

Adding a touch of modernity to their musicality, with hints of Rammstein’s Industrial Metal being thoroughly inserted into its core but still keeping the band’s classic Symphonic Metal intact, of course, Digital Revolution is beyond exciting and vibrant from start to finish, becoming one of the best moments of the album without any doubt. Endless Promises is a radio-friendly tune by Secret Rule spearheaded by Alex’s unstoppable drums while Angela takes her vocals up a notch, sounding and feeling very pleasant right from the very first second, whereas Purgatory is a lot groovier and more demonic thanks to its harsh vocals, building a great paradox with Angela’s angelical voice, not to mention Andy’s flammable solos. Put differently, it will certainly please all fans of the genre, which can also be said about the title-track Against, bringing forward a video game-inspired intro that’s quickly joined by the band’s characteristic riffs and beats, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline.

Deep Solitude sounds a little generic if compared to the rest of the album despite the great job done by Angela on vocals; nothing that would harm the album though, as it can be quite entertaining for many fans, as a matter of fact. Fortunately, they get back on track with Outsiders, another fun composition uniting the electricity of Symphonic Metal with the modern and futuristic nuances of orchestral music, with Andy, Michele and Alex being on absolute fire with their thunderous instruments, while My Last Breath flirts with Alternative Rock and Metal, resulting in a semi-ballad that sounds at the same time very gentle and obscure, with Angela embellishing the airwaves with another passionate vocal performance. And lastly, the keys by Andy dictate the rhythm in the closing tune Don’t Let Me Fade, where Alex pounds his drums potently and Andy injects an extra dosage of electricity to the song’s pace through his always sharp guitar solos.

As already mentioned, Secret Rule are not only an unstoppable, hardworking band hailing form Italy, but their talent is also undeniable as we can all see in their brand new opus Against, and if you want to know more about Angela and the boys you can get in touch with them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to more of their music on Spotify. Also, above all that, don’t forget to preorder your copy of Against from the band’s own webstore in a Special Limited Edition Boxset format, from Record Shop X or from Apple Music, and soon from other locations such as the Pride & Joy Music webstore. Let’s enjoy this fresh and exciting new endeavor by Secret Rule now in 2020, attending their live concerts and raising our horns for such distinct metal act from Italy, and when 20201 comes I’m sure Angela, Andy & Co. will present us with another round of their awesome Symphonic Metal. Because you know, Secret Rule never know when to stop, which in their case is always a very good thing.

Best moments of the album: Spira Mirabilis, Rise Again, Digital Revolution and Outsiders.

Worst moments of the album: Deep Solitude.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Spira Mirabilis 4:03
2. Shades of Humanity 3:29
3. Rise Again 4:37
4. Going Nowhere 4:56
5. Digital Revolution 3:56
6. Endless Promises 3:36
7. Purgatory 3:50
8. Against 4:34
9. Deep Solitude 3:47
10. Outsiders 4:30
11. My Last Breath 3:35
12. Don’t Let Me Fade 3:46

Band members
Angela Di Vincenzo – vocals
Andy Menario – guitars, keys
Michele Raspanti – bass
Alex Beccati – drums

Album Review – Arcana 13 / Black Death EP (2020)

A lethal mixture between the visual terror of Italian horror with the heavy and magical atmospheres of 70’s Occult Rock in the form of a short but extremely sharp and obscure EP.

“Emblems seen through the fog, it’s the end of it all. Look upon the blood-red moon and you’ll be facing the Black Death.”

Hailing from Italy, the birthplace of cult horror movie masters like Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Mario Bava, among many others, more specifically from Ravenna, a city in in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy, Doom/Heavy Metal entity Arcana 13 (which should be read as Arcana Tredici, as “tredici” is 13 in Italian) is unleashing upon humanity more of their “Horror Doom”, a lethal mixture between the visual terror of Italian horror with the heavy and magical atmospheres of 70’s Occult Rock, with their brand new EP entitled Black Death, the follow-up to their 2016 full-length opus Danza Macabra.

Comprised of Simone Bertozzi and Andrea Burdisso on vocals and guitars, Filippo Petrini on bass and Luigi Taroni on drums, Arcana 13’s latest gravestone is the collaboration with director Luca Canale Brucculeri on his new horror TV series Black Death, based on the eponymous comic book. He got enthralled by Arcana 13’s music and decided to commission the main theme’s songwriting for the series, resulting in this short but extremely effective display of horror and doom by Arcana 13, all complemented by a grim artwork designed by Spanish artist Pol Abran (Branca Studio). Having said that, are you ready to face darkness and horror together with this talented four-piece act of doom?

Like in a sinister horror movie the song Black Death starts in a truly phantasmagorical way, evolving into a feast of damned beats blasted by Luigi and cryptic guitar lines by both Simone and Andrea. Not only that, it has a beautiful Black Sabbath-inspired vibe that will certainly captivate all your senses, inviting you to feel the thunderous bass by Filippo smashing your skull mercilessly, while the last part of the song is faster, more dynamic and more flammable, bringing to our avid ears a wild guitar solo as the icing on the cake. Then Arcana 13 offer us all something I’d never thought I would see one day, a somber and atmospheric Doom Metal version of an Iron Maiden song, more specifically the old school Wrathchild (check out this amazing version from Iron Maiden’s latest live album The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter, released in 2018), where Filippo kicks ass on bass while the vocal lines sound and feel grim and introspective from start to finish, also showcasing a fantastic job done by Simone and Andrea with their damned riffage.

If Black Death is only the “teaser trailer” to what Arcana 13 are preparing for us in the near future in the form of a new horror movie-inspired full-length opus, then we can all rest assured great things are about to happen in the ominous world of such skillful and hardworking Italian group. Hence, keep an eye on their official Facebook page for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the quartet, and grab your copy of Black Death from their official BandCamp page, from the Aural Music webstore, from FYE.com and soon from several other locations, showing your utmost support to a band that certainly knows how to transform a spine-chilling, psychological horror story into top-of-the-line heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Both songs are darkly amazing.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Aural Music

Track listing
1. Black Death 6:48
2. Wrathchild (Iron Maiden cover) 3:52

Band members
Simone Bertozzi – vocals, guitar
Andrea Burdisso – vocals, guitar
Filippo Petrini – bass
Luigi Taroni – drums

Album Review – Nightfear / Apocalypse (2020)

An unstoppable Heavy Metal entity hailing from Spain returns in full force with their most powerful and mature album to date, always true and loyal to their origins.

Formed in the already distant year of 2008 in Madrid, Spain, an unstoppable Heavy Metal force that goes by the name of Nightfear is about to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their third full-length installment, entitled Apocalypse, by far their most powerful and mature album to date, featuring ten impressive compositions full of catchy melodies, razor-edged guitar riffs and the remarkable vocals by Lorenzo Mutiozabal, being highly recommended for fans of the fusion of Heavy and Power Metal blasted by iconic bands like Judas Priest, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Maiden And Primal Fear.

Comprised of the aforementioned Lorenzo Mutiozabal on vocals, Ismael Retana and Ángel Fernández on the guitars, Manuel Moreno on bass and Osckar Bravo on drums, Nightfear released their debut album Inception in 2012, quickly establishing their name in the Spanish Heavy Metal scene, with their 2015 concept album Drums of War cementing their name as one of the most prominent national bands within the genre. However, it’s with Apocalypse that this unrelenting Spanish squad aims at conquering the world of heavy music, offering their fans and newcomers to their metal realm a new step in the evolution of the band while at the same time always staying true to their origins.

And Osckar already gives a taste of his refined skills in the opening track We are Back, kicking off the album on a high (and fast) note. In other words, this is definitely how any band should announce their return to action, with Lorenzo’s vocals reminding me of the golden years of Helloween’s own Andi Deris, not to mention the incendiary riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo. Their ode to old school Heavy and Power Metal goes on in Shine, another Helloween-inspired anthem where Ismael and Ángel slash their strings majestically, resulting in an upbeat creation by the band where Manuel’s thunderous bass and Osckar’s nonstop beats generate a powerful atmosphere for our total delight, followed by Living Your Life, a mid-tempo rockin’ tune where Lorenzo is on fire with his high-pitched, passionate vocal lines, supported by spot-on backing vocals and classic, strident riffs.

It’s definitely impossible to stand still to the dynamic and high-octane A Better World, where Osckar and the band’s stringed trio are on absolute fire, therefore providing Lorenzo all he needs to shine on vocals. Furthermore, not only the song’s ending brings a beautiful guitar solo for our avid ears, but its utterly catchy chorus and sheer speed turn it into a must-listen for admirers of the genre. There’s no sign of slowing down, as in The Stranger, a very melodic and captivating tune once again drinking from the same fountain as several of their German neighbors, the band remains loyal to traditional Heavy Metal from start to finish. How can it get any better than this? Then even faster and more aggressive than its predecessors, the instrumental feast of metallic sounds and tones titled Psichokiller sounds like a Spanish version of Primal Fear, with Ismael and Ángel delivering pulverizing riffs and electrifying guitar solos nonstop; whereas the tribal beats by Osckar ignite the also incendiary Through the Stars, presenting over six minutes of flammable guitar lines and killer drums and bass punches, while Lorenzo keeps doing what he does best, which is blasting his soaring vocals majestically in this lecture in traditional Melodic and Power Metal.

Nuclear Winter is another pounding, headbanging creation by Nightfear where the entire band kicks some serious ass with their flammable vocals, piercing riffs, and thunderous bass and drums. Put differently, it’s an ode to 80’s and 90’s Heavy Metal, bringing forward beautiful, melodious lines intertwined with sheer adrenaline, and the band puts the pedal to the metal mercilessly, accelerating the pace and delivering a Power Metal extravaganza entitled The Evil in You, led by the intricate, high-octane shredding by the band’s talented guitarists while Osckar dictates the song’s frantic rhythm on drums. And lastly we have Angels of Apocalypse, one of the boldest creations of their career surpassing the eight-minute barrier, starting in a serene manner with a narration inviting the listener to join Nightfear in their new adventure and exhaling epicness, with Lorenzo giving a lesson in metal singing while the music flows smoothly and powerfully until the very end.

If you want to put your metallic hands on this precious gem of Heavy and Power Metal made in Spain, simply go to the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page or to Apple Music (and soon also available from the Xtreem Music webstore and other locations) to grab your copy of the album, and obviously don’t forget to follow Nightfear on Facebook and to listen to more of their music on Spotify, showing your true support to such distinct and talented metallers. A new year has just begun, and as several people are saying 2020 will be the year of the Apocalypse, at least we can rest assured Nightfear are among us to provide our ears and minds a vibrant and thrilling soundtrack to the end of the world.

Best moments of the album: We are Back, The Stranger, Through the Stars and Nuclear Winter.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. We are Back 5:59
2. Shine 5:11
3. Living Your Life 5:00
4. A Better World 4:09
5. The Stranger 5:32
6. Psichokiller 4:29
7. Through the Stars 6:29
8. Nuclear Winter 6:05
9. The Evil in You 4:42
10. Angels of Apocalypse 8:27

Band members
Lorenzo Mutiozabal – vocals
Ismael Retana – guitar
Ángel Fernández – guitar
Manuel Moreno – bass
Osckar Bravo – drums

Album Review – Invocation / Attunement to Death EP (2020)

Let this vile and demonic breath of Ritualistic and Hypnotic Black and Death Metal from the infernal pits of Chile reach deep inside your damned soul.

Forged in the fires of Valparaíso, Chile in 2015, Black/Death Metal horde Invocation is unleashing upon humanity a sulfurous and absolutely obscure EP entitled Attunement to Death, the follow up to their highly acclaimed 2016 demo Seance Part. I and their 2018 EP The Mastery of the Unseen, offering fans of extreme music a short but fulminating blast of what the band itself likes to call “Ritualistic and Hypnotic Black and Death Metal” in the form of six original compositions. Comprised of Sense of Premonition on vocals and guitars, Sense of Clairvoyance on bass and Sense of Clairaudience on drums, Invocation reached a hellish harmony with their classic South American diabolism with Attunement to Death, while at the same time imbuing it with a deeper and more unique aspect that bountifully displays their authentic grounding in the occult, setting the tone for a very promising and infernal future for such talented band.

Ominous, cryptic noises permeate the air in the opening track Oppression, a phantasmagorical intro that will drag you to the pits of the underworld before the trio begins blasting their instruments mercilessly in Flying Ointments, exhaling pure evil and heaviness, and with the gruesome vociferations by Sense of Premonition being complemented by his own demonic riffs and Sense of Clairaudience’s intricate and sulfurous beats. After such demented start to the EP, scorching riffs and rumbling, metallic bass lines dictate the rhythm in the also Stygian and infernal Divine Transition, presenting a solid fusion of the darkness of Black Metal with the raw sounds of Death Metal, offering to our avid ears pure devastation in the form of music from start to finish, without of course a single second of peace just the way we like it in extreme music.

A putrid roar by Sense of Premonition kicks off the Death Metal extravaganza entitled The First Mirror, showcasing a great sync between Sense of Clairvoyance and Sense of Clairaudience with their respective bass punches and beats and fills, resulting in a true headbanging tune that lives up to the legacy of the genre. Then get ready for over seven minutes of obscurity and rage in The Officiants, where the classic riffage by Sense of Premonition gets even more impactful accompanied by Sense of Clairaudience’s infernal drums, whereas its vocals couldn’t have sounded more disturbing and visceral. And last but not least, Invocation summon all creatures of the dark in their most detailed and devilish creation, the heavy-as-hell Secret Tongues, uniting elements from Black and Death Metal in the name of evil. In addition, its guitar sounds will certainly darken your mind, while Sense of Clairaudience continues to crush our skulls without a single drop of mercy in this multi-layered aria that sounds absolutely ritualistic.

In a nutshell, while Invocation (hopefully) get ready for their debut full-length opus in a not-so-distant future, there’s a lot to savor in their brand new EP, which as already mentioned might be short in duration but reeks of violence and obscurity. Having said that, simply let the dark and demonic sounds blasted by this awesome Chilean horde penetrate deep inside your soul by following them on Facebook and by purchasing your copy of Attunement to Death from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Record Shop X, or from other locations as soon as the album is officially released in February, celebrating all things evil in the name of our good old Black and Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Flying Ointments and Secret Tongues.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Iron Bonhead

Track listing
1. Oppression 0:56
2. Flying Ointments 5:05
3. Divine Transition 7:46
4. The First Mirror 5:06
5. The Officiants 5:29
6. Secret Tongues 6:29

Band members
Sense of Premonition – vocals, guitars
Sense of Clairvoyance – bass
Sense of Clairaudience – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The year of 2019 might be reaching its inevitable end in the blink of an eye for most of us, but if there’s one thing we must admit is that it has been indeed a year of countless events, episodes and changes with a huge impact on how pretty much everything works in our Heavy Metal universe. For instance, 2019 was the year where we unfortunately witnessed the ultimate campaign by Thrash Metal titans Slayer, who at the same time left an undisputed and brilliant legacy to Heavy Metal and a giant hole in our hearts and in the global Thrash Metal scene. Do you think there’s any band that can fill that gap created by the end of Slayer? In my humble opinion, although I love bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, I doubt anyone can claim Slayer’s throne as the meanest, most demonic and most pulverizing band of all time, but that doesn’t mean Thrash Metal is dead and gone. Quite the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking, with many of the underground bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose contributing to keep the flame of such distinct subgenre of heavy music burning bright.

In addition, 2019 was also the year we lost many of our rock and metal icons, including André Matos (vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper), Larry Wallis (former guitarist of Motörhead), and Timi Hansen (former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond), as well as several talented musicians from non-metal styles like Marie Fredriksson (lead singer and keyboardist of Roxette), Keith Flint (frontman of The Prodigy), and the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Mr. Dick Dale. However, even with all those significant losses, we can say 2019 was a productive year for rock and metal music, with many iconic and underground bands delivering some fantastic albums for our total delectation, and that’s why here we are again with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, to prove once and for all that heavy music will never, ever die. Having said that, enjoy our list of top metal albums for this year that’s coming to an end, and keep raising your horns high together with us in 2020!

1. Rammstein – Rammstein (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.
Best song of the album: Deutschland

2. Necronomicon – UNUS (REVIEW)
Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their career.
Best song of the album: Infinituum Continuum

3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics (REVIEW)
It’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Fire God and Fear

4. Soilwork – Verkligheten (REVIEW)
Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters return in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.
Best song of the album: Stålfågel

5. The Agonist – Orphans (REVIEW)
Canadian juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.
Best song of the album: Blood as My Guide

6. Helevorn – Aamamata (REVIEW)
Embrace darkness and melancholy with the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the current Spanish scene.
Best song of the album: Aurora

7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (REVIEW)
The world’s most famous masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.
Best song of the album: Unsainted

8. Amon Amarth – Berserker (REVIEW)
Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with Amon Amarth.
Best song of the album: Shield Wall

9. Target – Deep Water Flames (REVIEW)
Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by this amazing band from Chile.
Best song of the album: Oceangrave

10. Singularity – Place of Chains (REVIEW)
The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Ritual of Regret

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

11. Grand Magus – Wolf God (REVIEW)
12. Hiss From The Moat – The Harrier (REVIEW)
13. Lucifera – La Caceria De Brujas (REVIEW)
14. Alunah – Violet Hour (REVIEW)
15. Dö – Astral Death Cult (REVIEW)
16. Rifftera – Across the Acheron (REVIEW)
17. Rage Of Light – Imploder (REVIEW)
18. Rexoria – Ice Breaker (REVIEW)
19. HerezA – Death Metal Drunks (REVIEW)
20. Aephanemer – Prokopton (REVIEW)

Also, let’s not forget about some of the best albums which, although might be short in duration, they did bring to our ears an endless amount of heaviness, speed and harmony this year, accrediting them to be part of our Top 10 EP’s of 2019. As you can see, those EP’s were recorded by the most diverse types of bands and artists from all over the world, becoming some sort of “tasting sample” of what we can expect from those metallers in a not-so-distant future.

1. Eleine – All Shall Burn (REVIEW)
2. Quilombo – Itankale (REVIEW)
3. Master’s Call – Morbid Black Trinity (REVIEW)
4. Violent Life Violent Death – Sadness Rains (REVIEW)
5. Angra Demana – Triptych Of Decay (REVIEW)
6. Vorga – Radiant Gloom (REVIEW)
7. Shuulak – Citrinitas (REVIEW)
8. Moanaa – Torches (REVIEW)
9. Exuviated – Déliquescence (REVIEW)
10. Sophist – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2019? And, as usual, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2020!

And before The Headbanging Moose takes a well-deserved break to recover our energies and return in full force in 2020, how about we enjoy what’s probably one of the best and most detailed “Christmas” songs of all time, the fantastic Valhalleluja, recently released by Italian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Nanowar of Steel? This is the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas night with your loved ones, especially if you give someone anything from IKEA as a Christmas gift. Well, simply watch the official video below and follow the lyrics to understand what I’m talking about. Having said that, let’s all pray to Odin, drink beer and sing Valhalleluja together with Nanowar of Steel, my friends!

Album Review – Wolvencrown / Of Bark And Ash (2019)

Close your eyes and enjoy this excellent album of Atmospheric Black Metal made in the UK, blending the obscurity and melodies of extreme music with Nature and the emotions she conveys.

From the heart of the Midlands, the central part of England, more specifically from the city of Nottingham, comes an Atmospheric Black Metal quintet that goes by the stylish name of Wolvencrown, blending the obscurity and melodies of Black Metal with Nature and the emotions she conveys, therefore being highly recommended for admirers of the music by bands like Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone and Fen. Formed in 2015, the band now comprised of Nick on vocals and guitar, Jack also on the guitar, Reece on bass, Will on keyboards and Matt on drums is unleashing upon us their first full-length opus entitled Of Bark And Ash, following the naturalistic and atmospheric path of melodies and feelings of longing and yearning of their 2017 self-titled debut EP, being packed with stunning riffs, inspiring passages and enfolding keyboards, turning it into a must-listen for anyone who enjoys the absolute heaviness of extreme music spiced up by an embracing atmosphere.

The opening tune, titled Earths Eternal Dawn, sounds brutal and grim from the very first second, with the keys by Will adding a phantasmagorical touch to the band’s classic Black Metal while Matt provides us all we need to headbang like maniacs and Nick growls and gnarls in a truly devilish manner. After such classy welcome card, the band offers us an epic composition divided in two parts, starting with 1194 pt.I, exhaling intricacy, progressiveness and obscurity, with Nick and Jack slashing their axes beautifully. Furthermore, Matt’s beats and fills couldn’t have sounded more complex and violent, while Will’s keys once again bring a delicate balance to the overall result; whereas the second part, simply titled 1194 pt.II, is as grandiose and dense as part one, with Nick leading his horde with his anguished roars while the guitars sound absolutely pulverizing and sharper than a knife, living up to the legacy of both old school and more contemporary Black Metal and with its last part being an amazing, massive sonic havoc.

More rhythmic and atmospheric thanks to the outstanding job done by both Will and Matt, Infernal Throne presents Stygian vociferations by Nick that will penetrate deep inside your soul, while their riffs blacken our hearts mercilessly, and Wolvencrown keep hammering our heads and darkening the skies with their top-of-the-line Atmospheric Black Metal in  the title-track Of Bark and Ash, filled with folk and epic elements. Moreover, the beats by Matt are powerfully complemented by Reece’s thunderous bass lines, resulting in a full-bodied aria that’s at the same time an ode to darkness and Nature, which in the end obviously coexist in perfect harmony, not to mention Nick’s furious screams to make things even more intense and disturbing, just the way we like it in extreme music.

Leaning towards classic Atmospheric Black Metal, Towards Broken Depths mixes scorching riffs with ambient keys and blast beats, again bringing to our avid ears the demonic gnarls by Nick while Reece keeps the atmosphere as dense as possible with his bass lines. Then the cryptic keys by Will ignite the also furious and melodic Destined, perhaps the most epic of all tracks, with all instruments sounding austere and flammable throughout the entire song and with both Nick and Jack stealing the spotlight with their unstoppable riffage, whereas endless melancholy flows from the closing tune titled S.A.D., a lot more melodic and atmospheric than its predecessors while at the same time working as a grim “goodbye” or “farewell” by Wolvencrown, with the violent and harmonious sound of guitars crushing our minds in great fashion, ending in a contemplative and ethereal way.

You can enjoy this precious gem of underground extreme music in its entirety on YouTube, purchase your copy from the Avantgarde Music BandCamp page or from several other locations such as ImportCDs, Barnes & Noble, FYE and Sound Cave, and follow Wolvencrown on Facebook to stay up-to-date with everything related to their music and upcoming tour dates. Every single time our good old Black Metal is infused with the delicate but powerful sounds of Mother Earth, the final result is extremely pleasant to say the least, and Wolvencrown simply nailed it in Of Bark And Ash, showing once again how Atmospheric Black Metal is always the perfect choice for those times in your life where all you want to do is escape from your everyday life and dive deep into the wild.

Best moments of the album: 1194 pt.I, 1194 pt.II and Of Bark and Ash.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Earths Eternal Dawn 4:14
2. 1194 pt.I 4:54
3. 1194 pt.II 6:42
4. Infernal Throne 4:08
5. Of Bark and Ash 6:43
6. Towards Broken Depths 5:09
7. Destined 7:27
8. S.A.D. 5:46

Band members
Nick – vocals, guitars
Jack – guitars
Reece – bass
Will – keyboards
Matt – drums