Album Review – Infuriate / Infuriate (2018)

Here comes a group of Texas all-stars armed with their debut album of fast and furious Death Metal, focusing on the brutal side of nature and unconscientious human behavior.

A group of Texas all-stars, Austin-based Death Metal/Grindcore unit Infuriate was founded in late 2015 by drummer Sterling Junkin (Widower, Laughing and Lying, Venereal Baptism) and guitarist Steven Watkins (Serpentian, Sect of Execration, Sarcolytic, Images of Violence), with vocalist and guitarist Jason Garza (Blast Perversion, Slow Grind) and bassist Alan Berryman (Whore of Bethlehem, Cathexis) completing the band’s pulverizing lineup. After about a year and a half of songwriting, nine demolishing tracks of unrelenting Death Metal and Grindcore had been arranged for the band’s debut self-titled album, released earlier this year, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Deeds Of Flesh, Severed Savior, Severe Torture and Disavowed.

Featuring an obscure artwork by the legendary artist Jon Zig, as well as special images for each song for a more vivid lyric booklet, the album contains a wide range of sinister topics that focus mainly on the brutal side of nature and unconscientious human behavior, with the music being deeply rooted in late 90’s Death Metal with a modern speed. Furthermore, although the album might not surpass the 30-minute barrier, it doesn’t feel incomplete or simplistic at all. Quite the contrary, just like several renowned acts like Slayer and Cannibal Corpse have mastered doing, Infuriate were capable of condensing a gargantuan amount of violence, hatred, heaviness and speed throughout the album’s relatively short time span, positioning the quartet as one of the most promising new names of the underground extreme music scene.

The opening track Juggernaut Of Pestilence is total savagery from the very first note, led by the razor-edged riffs by Jason and Steven while drummer Sterling pounds his drums mercilessly, and their devastation goes on in the sonic havoc titled Slaughter For Salvation, with Jason growling in a demonic and rabid way, being perfect for slamming into the circle pit with the sound of the guitars getting extremely acute and flammable for our total delight. Then Collective Suffering showcases a modern-day Cannibal Corpse vibe, mainly due to the amazing job done by the band’s stringed trio, with the bass punches by Alan sounding as heavy as hell; whereas in Engastration we’re treated to a violent and metallic sonority that gets quite progressive at times, therefore enhancing its taste considerably, also presenting lyrics that reek of old school Death Metal (“Creatures of ingenuity / With voracious appetites / Lacking conscience / They gather…”).

Only Pain Remains is another hurricane of Death Metal and Grindcore for your avid (and evil) ears, with both guitars exhaling rage and madness while Sterling continues to smash his drum set, not to mention Jason’s berserk growls and roars. And the band keeps smashing our heads with their visceral music in Matando, an unstoppable Grindcore tune infused with Death Metal elements spearheaded by an inspired guitar duo, with Jason once again vociferating contemporary and aggressive words (“False sense of security / Betrayed for all to see / Bleeding profusely / From the wounds of treachery / An altercation bred from deception / You must bleed with me”), followed by Mori Terrae, where their guitar shredding is effectively complemented by the fierce beats by Sterling while Jason barks like a beast nonstop in this full-bodied hymn of destruction, and Surrogate, a frantic and pulverizing display of crushing Grindcore with the bestial growls by Jason being supported by another excellent job done on the guitars, with the song’s fulminating pace being furiously led by Sterling’s beats. And lastly we have Cannibalistic Gluttony, portraying a beautiful name for another disturbing tune by Infuriate with the music remaining vile, demented and intricate from start to finish, with highlights to the groovy and complex beats by Sterling, closing the album on an absolutely brutal mode.

In a nutshell, what are you waiting for to slam your damn skull into the circle pit to the pulverizing Death Metal crafted by Infuriate? You can purchase their debut album (available for a full listen on YouTube) from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp or webstore (in regular CD format or as a CD + T-shirt bundle), as well as from your usual online retailers iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs, and keep up to date to all things Infuriate by following them on Facebook, but that, of course, only if you think you’re brave enough to face an overdose of sheer aggression and rage in the form of extreme music made in Texas.

Best moments of the album: Slaughter For Salvation, Only Pain Remains and Matando.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Juggernaut Of Pestilence 2:28
2. Slaughter For Salvation 2:56
3. Collective Suffering 2:41
4. Engastration 3:20
5. Only Pain Remains 4:10
6. Matando 3:35
7. Mori Terrae 3:46
8. Surrogate 3:18
9. Cannibalistic Gluttony 3:17

Band members
Jason Garza – vocals, guitar
Steven Watkins – guitar
Alan Berryman – bass
Sterling Junkin – drums

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Album Review – Bast / Nanoångström (2018)

Set against a bleak science fiction backdrop, exploring the human conditions of loss, isolation, and change in the wake of time’s passage, the new album by this three-piece act from the UK has everything you crave in Sludge and Doom Metal.

Founded in 2008 in London, England, the three-piece experimental vortex of blackened intensity and forlorn, mournful doom known as Bast returns now in 2018 with Nanoångström, the follow-up to their 2014 critically acclaimed debut release Spectres, continuing the band’s trajectory into narrative driven arrangements and experimental compositions. Including a beautiful artwork designed and directed by the band’s own lead singer and guitarist Craig Bryant, and also featuring an exclusive piece by Manga legend Shintaro Kago as well as guest vocals by Chris Naughton of England’s leading purveyors of Black Metal Winterfylleth, Nanoångström is set against a bleak science fiction backdrop, exploring the human conditions of loss, isolation, and change in the wake of time’s passage, all enfolded by the crushing fusion of Sludge and Doom Metal blasted by Craig and his bandmates Gavin Thomas on bass and Jon Lee on drums and backing vocals.

Low-tuned, melancholic and whimsical sounds invade our senses in the intro Distant Suns, warming us up for the crushing Far Horizons, a 10-minute Sludge Metal exhibit led by the rip-roaring riffs and growls by Craig, while Jon flawlessly pounds his drums in a delicate but fierce way at the same time, with the song’s crisp and flammable riffs being intertwined with somber and more serene passages, even presenting hints of Atmospheric Black Metal. Then featuring the aforementioned guest vocals by Chris Naughton we have The Beckoning Void, an explosion of contemporary Sludge and Doom Metal where the bass punches by Gavin sound truly menacing and thunderous, while Craig keeps shredding his strings mercilessly. Moreover, the song also presents nuances of classic Black Metal added to the drumming by Jon, hammering our heads and piercing our minds mercilessly, with the song’s second half getting more progressive and vibrant until its majestic finale.

The title-track Nanoångström begins as sluggish, introspective and obscure as possible, with the band’s stringed duo extracting Stygian tones from their instruments, while Jon slowly and steadily smashes his drums. In addition, Craig’s anguished growls get more and more desperate as the music progresses, before everything evolves into a Progressive Sludge Metal extravaganza that would make the guys from Tool really proud. Then rumbling guitars and bass lines permeate the air in the also sluggish Doom Metal tune titled A Red Line Through Black, remaining at a truly obscure tone until a wave of progressiveness takes over and the music morphs into a hard-hitting feast of classic Sludge Metal riffs, frantic and intricate beats, and enraged roars. Put differently, it can’t get any heavier nor more eccentric than this. Lastly, Chris joins Bast once again in The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars, where the band brings forth 12 minutes of crude, melodic and cutting Progressive Sludge Metal, a full-bodied headbanging hymn spearheaded by Craig and his aggressive, harsh growls, while Jon keeps extracting sheer Black Metal sounds from his beats. And their sonic havoc goes on ruthlessly, not giving us a single second of peace until its abrupt and powerful ending.

In a nutshell, Nanoångström has everything fans of contemporary and dark Sludge and Doom Metal are always craving, elevating Bast to new heights and positioning them as one of the most interesting exponents of the genre. If Bast’s sluggish music is your cup of tea, you can grab your copy of Nanoångström from their own BandCamp page or from the Black Bow Records’ Big Cartel, and after you do that just remember your days will never be bright or peaceful again. Well, I guess those are not the sensations you want to fell while listening to first-class Doom Metal, which means Bast more than succeeds in taking you to the most obscure side of music with Nanoångström.

Best moments of the album: The Beckoning Void and The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. Distant Suns 2:40
2. Far Horizons 10:24
3. The Beckoning Void (feat. Chris Naughton) 10:53
4. Nanoångström 11:10
5. A Red Line Through Black 9:56
6. The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars (feat. Chris Naughton) 12:34

Band members
Craig Bryant – vocals, guitars
Gavin Thomas – bass
Jon Lee – drums, vocals

Guest musician
Chris Naughton – guest vocals on “The Beckoning Void” and “The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars”

Album Review – SynlakrosS / Malice Murder (2018)

Get ready to be transported to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion in the brand new ass-kicking album by one of the most prominent names of the underground metal scene.

Formed in 2008 in the stunning city of Valencia, Spain by bassist Pablo “Roro” Fuentes and drummer Tiko Martínez, the unstoppable female-fronted Melodic Death Metal outfit that goes by the stylish name of SynlakrosS has just taken another amazing step in their (r)evolutionary career with the release of their third full-length installment, the creative, incendiary and utterly fun Malice Murder, cementing their name as one of the best bands in the Melodic Death Metal, Nu Metal and Metalcore scene all over the world, therefore being highly recommended for fans of bands such as In Flames, Slipknot, Butcher Babies, Arch Enemy and Lamb Of God, among several others. Injecting a considerable dosage of energy into our hearts and minds with their music and thematic lyrics, SynlakrosS will transport you to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion in Malice Murder, always moving forward but at the same time always loyal to their foundations and, of course, to their already huge fanbase.

In my humble opinion, what really stands out in Malice Murder, apart from its top-of-the-line production and endless electricity, are the insanely metallic and piercing sounds extracted by Pablo from his infernal bass, and especially all the experimentations and different vocalizations blasted by the band’s stunning frontwoman Patricia Pons. She sounds vile, demented, passionate and defiant with her wicked growls, roars and screams, taking her vocals to a whole new (and previously unexplored) level that will certainly please all fans of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Add to that mix the crushing riffs and solos by the band’s axemen Iván Muñoz and Aarón Hidalgo, not to mention the sensational album artwork designed by Patricia herself, and there you have not only the perfect follow-up to their 2016 opus Death Bullets for a Forajido, but also a gargantuan avalanche of breathtaking metal sounds that will blow your senses mercilessly.

The opening track, titled Angel on Fire, sounds modern, electrified and vibrant right from the very first second, with its futuristic sounds and Patricia’s hypnotizing whispers kicking off a Melodic Death Metal party led by Pablo’s infuriated bass punches. Then in the fast-paced, heavy-as-hell extravaganza named Fatal Frame the band puts the pedal to the metal showcasing furious riffs and tones by the band’s stringed triumvirate, with Patricia growling and gnarling like a she-wolf while Tiko smashes his drums beautifully; followed by Dark Seed, not only the first single of the album but also the epitome of modern-day Metalcore, exhaling sheer madness and rage and with Patricia stealing the spotlight once again with her rabid growls and demented vociferations, as well as Aarón and Iván with their heavy and aggressive shredding. Put differently, this is the type of song that’s absolutely perfect for setting the crowd on fire during their live concerts. And let me remind you that the party is just starting, as in Alone in the Dark, spearheaded by Pablo and his thunderous, hammering bass, melodic guitar lines are flawlessly intertwined with moments of sheer lunacy, living up to the legacy of renowned Nu Metal acts like the iconic Korn.

Eternal Darkness showcases a classic song name for an explosive fusion of Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal and Groove Metal, breaking your neck in half to the precise beats by Tiko (which means it might become a fan-favorite if they add it to their setlists, of course), while Killing Diablos gets closer to their sonority from Death Bullets for a Forajido, but with a 2018 twist if I might say that. In addition, its background effects and tones nicely add an extra touch of madness to the music, while Patricia alternates between her rabid roars and demented clean vocals. Resurrection is another solid and well-crafted metal chant by SynlakrosS where the razor-edged guitars by Aarón and Iván shine brighter than the sun, also presenting a futuristic vibe and atmosphere and, as a consequence, being tailored for jumping up and down with the band; whereas in Morrígan it’s time for total devastation with this steampunk Spanish army, as the “Morrígan” is a figure from Irish mythology that represents a “great queen” or “phantom queen”, being mainly associated with war and fate, especially with foretelling doom, death or victory in battle. Does that remind you of someone? Anyway, I simply love how Patricia screams the song’s name from the bottom of her heart, making it impossible to stand still to this groovy and rumbling tune.

The last batch of songs from Malice Murder begins with Bloody Waltz, a dark an eerie “waltz” of contemporary Alternative Metal presenting elements from the wicked music by Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, such as its uncanny background keys, sounding and feeling very theatrical, which means it’s perfect for Patricia to showcase all her skills as the amazing singer and performer she is. Then the number of the beast, the famous 666, names another furious and ominous hymn by the quintet where Pablo slams his bass strings manically, extracting beyond lancinating sounds from it and, therefore, supporting Patricia’s screams flawlessly; whereas in Under the Ice there’s absolutely no sign of the band slowing down or getting any softer. Quite the contrary, it’s time for total anarchy with highlights to the perfect sync between Pablo’s bass and the guitar duo’s crisp riffage, sounding even more modernized than all previous songs. In the short and sweet semi-acoustic bridge Undying, we’re treated to some sort of futuristic western-like sonority, before SynlakrosS come crushing one last time in Siren’s Bloody Curse, the perfect conclusion to such powerful album, feeling more melancholic and obscure than all previous songs, transpiring melody and displaying an amazing performance by Pablo on bass and Iván with his fiery guitar solo. Needless to say, Patricia once again slays our senses with her potent growls and gripping clean vocals throughout the entire song.

In case you’re not a “curly wolf” yet, you should definitely start following SynlakrosS on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase your copy of Malice Murder (available for a full listen on Spotify) from their own webstore in regular CD format or as a CD + T-shirt bundle (with the T-shirt also being designed by the unstoppable Patricia), as well as from iTunes, Amazon, or CD Baby. And if you’re already a diehard fan of SynlakrosS, you know the band is going places with their hard work, talent and extreme dedication, with the incendiary Malice Murder beautifully representing what their music is all about and pointing to an even brighter future for what’s in my humble opinion the best metal act hailing from Spain from the past decade and one of the best new names of the current metal scene worldwide.

Best moments of the album: Fatal Frame, Dark Seed, Morrígan and 666.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Angel on Fire 4:24
2. Fatal Frame 3:26
3. Dark Seed 4:03
4. Alone in the Dark 3:46
5. Eternal Darkness 4:33
6. Killing Diablos 3:50
7. Resurrection 3:54
8. Morrígan 3:38
9. Bloody Waltz 3:56
10. 666 3:18
11. Under the Ice 4:05
12. Undying 2:24
13. Siren’s Bloody Curse 4:26

Band members
Patricia Pons – vocals
Iván Muñoz – guitar
Aarón Hidalgo – guitar
Pablo Fuentes – bass
Tiko Martínez – drums

Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Motus Octo (2018)

Enjoy the “eight movements” of modern-day rock music presented by this talented Cambridge, England-based Alternative Rock and Metal squad.

If you’re not only a fan of all the aggressiveness and speed of more extreme forms of metal music, but also an admirer of the melodious and gentle waves of Alternative Rock and Metal, you’ll be extremely pleased to know that Cambridge, England-based alternative rockers Bouquet of Dead Crows are finally back after three long years with a brand new album  titled Motus Octo, the follow-up to their 2015 debut album Of The Night. The title, referring to the fact that there are eight tracks on the album, essentially means “eight movements”, or eight emotions, and that’s exactly what you’ll get throughout the entire album, with each of its tracks awakening different emotions and reactions from deep inside your heart and mind.

Featuring a beautiful packaging designed by Stewart Harris Designs, Motus Octo is a very different beast to the band’s previous work, moving into more of a progressive direction but still showcasing all the characteristics that made people enjoy their first album, such as the huge wall-of-sound guitar riffs by Neil Bruce, the pounding bass lines by Graeme Clarke and the bat-shit drumming by Andrew Coxall, all sitting beautifully underneath vocalist Antoinette Cooper’s soaring vocals. Furthermore, the quartet goes from the heavier waves of Alternative Metal to the charm of British Rock and the melancholy of Blues, extracting crisp and vibrant sounds from their instruments throughout the entire album, keeping us hooked on their music and always eager for more.

Distorted, whimsical waves ignite the fun Faultlines, before Graeme and Andrew come crushing with their bass lines and beats respectively in a modern display of British Rock infused with alternative elements from bands like Garbage and Hole, while Neil slams and slashes his guitar mercilessly. And their music gets even more piercing and rumbling in The Devil’s in the Detail, with the beautiful voice by Antoinette leading the band in this Alternative Rock feast while Neil fires his classic solos, presenting hints of Ska and traditional Rock N’ Roll; followed by No Tomorrow, a song perfect for enjoying a nice and relaxed road trip with your loved ones, once again showcasing an inspired Antoinette on vocals and a precise and groovy Andrew on drums. Then Bouquet of Dead Crows deliver an introspective and enfolding ballad titled Slow Motion Ghosts, where all band members provide Antoinette all she needs to thrive, exhaling passion and delicacy through her vocals until the music gently fades away.

Fragments (Black Hole Eyes) contains some very welcome elements from the music by AC/DC blended with contemporary Rock N’ Roll and even Stoner Rock, not to mention how inspired Neil is with his stylish riffs and solos, while Andrew pounds his drums with tons of precision, therefore turning it into one of the best songs of the album. In Cold Inside, the band slows things down a bit in another gentle rock ballad, with highlights to the solid synchronicity between Neil and Graeme with their strings, getting considerably heavier at times in special when Neil is firing his guitar solos; whereas in Incessant Desire things get groovier, faster and heavier, which obviously translates into awesomeness, being highly inspired by classic Ska and Rock N’ Roll music from the 90’s, spearheaded by Neil and Andrew while Antoinette sounds extremely sexy with her fiery vocal lines. And lastly we have Undone, bringing forward an eerie intro to the thunderous sounds of Graeme’s bass punches and the passionate vocals by Antoinette, evolving into a Stoner Rock extravaganza perfect for headbanging while enjoying a cold beer (or even a strip-tease, it’s up to you), until wicked noises put an end to the song and, obviously, to the entire album.

As you already know, all you need to do to keep in touch with Bouquet of Dead Crows and stay informed about their plans for the future, tour dates and other shenanigans is follow them on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel, but of course if you want to show your true support to one of the most promising names from the current British Rock scene, you should definitely purchase your copy of Motus Octo from the German Shepherd Records’ BandCamp page, as well as from the band’s own webstore in CD or vinyl. In addition, in order to celebrate the release of Motus Octo, the band will be playing a special launch gig at The Blue Moon  in Cambridge on November 24, where they’ll play the full album live. If you’re going to be around the Cambridge area that day, why not joining Antoinette, Neil & Co. for a night of kick-ass rock music accompanied by good food, cold beer and nice people? You can buy your ticket HERE, get ready to rock, and show your “eight movements” on the dance floor, how about that? That’s the way our good old Rock N’ Roll should always be enjoyed, and Motus Octo is the perfect soundtrack for that.

Best moments of the album: The Devil’s in the Detail, Fragments (Black Hole Eyes) and Incessant Desire.

Worst moments of the album: Cold Inside.

Released in 2018 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Faultlines 7:14
2. The Devil’s in the Detail 3:29
3. No Tomorrow 3:56
4. Slow Motion Ghosts 5:42
5. Fragments (Black Hole Eyes) 3:49
6. Cold Inside 8:37
7. Incessant Desire 3:40
8. Undone 6:14

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars
Graeme Clarke – bass
Andrew Coxall – drums

Album Review – Elegiac / Pagan Storm (2018)

Forging the New Wave of American Black Metal, behold this talented one-man army from Portland, Oregon and his brand new melodic, aggressive and bestial full-length opus.

Forging the New Wave of USBM (or American Black Metal), Portland, Oregon-based one-man army Elegiac is into this creative and productive overwhelming attitude that all the most influential bands of the 90’s were in at their very beginning, dwelling with the most typical references of the early Scandinavian heritage influenced by the more pragmatic synthesis of the USBM roughness in the project’s brand new opus entitled Pagan Storm. Since its inception in 2014 in San Diego, California by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zane Young (from several underground acts such as Airengrav, Blitzgeist, Gormanudr, Lord Impotent and Tideless), Elegiac has released three EP’s and four full-length albums, as well as a demo and several split albums, but it’s with Pagan Storm, which features a classy and epic cover art by Joe McEvoy, that this Black Metal beast has reached its most melodic, aggressive and flammable shape and form.

Zane wastes no time and quickly darkens our minds with his sluggish Doom Metal-inspired beats and demonic gnarls in the opening track titled Rituals of War, evolving into a dissonant and Mephistophelian feast of Black Metal without a single empty space in its over eight minutes of obscurity. Then we have Allegiance and Honor, more brutal and piercing than its predecessor, presenting darkly poetic lyrics (“Calling to the gods of my blood / Deep within my memory / Return my mind to the patterns of old / And teach me the wisdom now tossed away / By the desert god of Abraham / A true plague of the mind and flesh / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / Molded for their every will…”) and leaning towards contemporary Melodic Black Metal, with Zane’s roars reaching a truly infernal level throughout the entire song; and dark clouds of Black and Doom Metal spread upon humanity in the 10-minute aria Somber Morning, where Zane delivers the most Stygian guitar lines and delicate but vile beats of the whole album in a demonic display of extreme music that will haunt the souls of the lighthearted. And strident guitar lines kick off the also blackened extravaganza named Through Ancient Eyes, where Zane keeps growling like a demonic entity while pounding his drums in a damned and somber manner. Put differently, if you love the rawest and most sulfurous form of underground Black and Doom Metal, this song is just perfect for you.

A lot more vibrant and electrified than its predecessors,  Purity of Winter brings forward a rumbling and dense sonority for our avid ears, or in other words, a lesson in visceral Black Metal with both guitar and bass lines sounding as crude as they can be, resulting in an enfolding fusion of melancholy, crushing sounds and tones, and the desolation of the winter. In Golden Fires of Victory we face the menacing, obscure gnarls by Zane accompanied by his blast beats and demented guitars, sending a sound message to the unbelievers that the gates of hell are open and darkness is upon us, feeling vile and crushing from start to finish; whereas in the title-track Pagan Storm the talented Zane takes his fury to a whole new level, growling and screaming in the most bestial way while unleashing demonic but at the same time very harmonious riffs from his guitar, once again adding a considerable dosage of modern-day Melodic Black Metal to his raw core sonority. And last but not least, how about 10 minutes of melodic and dynamic Black Metal to darken your metal heart even more? That’s what Zane offers in the closing tune Ancient Spirit, a fantastic “waltz of the damned” where his anguished lamentations add an extra layer of melancholy to the musicality, while his flammable riffs keep invading our ears until the music fades into pitch black darkness.

The somber and eccentric world of extreme music crafted by Zane and his Elegiac can be better explored by visiting the project’s official Facebook page, and of course if you have what it takes to dive deep into the crypts of Hades together with Zane you can purchase Pagan Storm from the ATMF’s BandCamp page or webstore. Hence, after listening to this potent and hellish opus by Elegiac, I bet USBM, our beloved American Black Metal, will be one of your favorite genres whenever straightforward and devilish extreme music is needed in your everyday life, with Pagan Storm becoming your personal reference in the underworld of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Purity of Winter, Pagan Storm and Ancient Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 De Tenebrarum Principio

Track listing
1. Rituals of War 8:17
2. Allegiance and Honor 5:07
3. Somber Morning 10:20
4. Through Ancient Eyes 7:33
5. Purity of Winter 7:03
6. Golden Fires of Victory 6:49
7. Pagan Storm 7:16
8. Ancient Spirit 9:41

Band members
Zane Young – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – mTORR / North (2018)

Enjoy the brainchild of a true Northman highly influenced by 80’s True Metal and Nordic themes, delivering raw and merciless riffs for admirers of the golden years of traditional heavy music.

Hailing from the Finnish city of Äänekoski, here comes a Heavy/Viking Metal one-man band highly influenced by 80’s True Metal bands such as Running Wild, Manowar, Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol, as well as the always interesting Nordic themes, delivering raw, uncompromised and merciless music for admirers of the golden years of traditional metal music. I’m talking about mTORR, the brainchild of Finnish multi-instrumentalist Arska (whose real name is Ari Honkonen), from renowned underground bands like Heathen Hoof, Minotauri and Morningstar, a solo project formed in 2017 who’s unleashing upon humanity  in 2018 the full-length opus North. Featuring a cover photo by Timo Honkonen and guest drummer Viljami (or Viljami Kinnunen) lending his talent to a few songs from the album, North is the natural follow-up to the project’s two previous EP’s, Nordic Iron Age and Viking Metal Rock, both also released in 2018, once again translating into music all the passion for Heavy Metal coming from the heart of a true Northman like Arska.

The album’s intro will take you to the shores of the realm ruled by the true metal warrior Arska and his mTORR, warming your senses up for the Manowar-inspired hymn Thundergod with its four minutes of crisp guitar riffs, galloping bass lines, pounding drums and an epic Running Wild-like rhythm and vibe, and exhaling epicness and might we have The Golden Fields of Tawastia, where Arska’s guitar lines sound captivating from start to finish, adding an extra touch of adrenaline to the music. However, the drums sound and feel slightly weird, not as precise as in the previous song, reducing the overall impact considerably. Then again blending the classic sonority by bands like Manowar, Running Wild and Iron Maiden, Arska delivers inspiring Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll music in Nordic Rocker, with his bass lines and drums generating a powerful support for his warlike vocals.

Razor-edged guitars ignite another old school tune named A Halo from the Gods, perfect for banging your head and raising your fists together with mTORR, also bringing fiery guitar solos and endless stamina, setting the tone for Nordic Hammer, with its pure Manowar lyrics (“In the hammer we trust! / You can’t take it away! / That’s the way we believe! / We’re the sons of the North!”), while the song’s pace and atmosphere remind me of the early days of Running Wild, or in other words, a combination that translates into awesomeness of course. Arska keeps smashing and pounding his strings like the mighty Thor with his hammer in another rhythmic and rumbling song titled Rock för North, where the bass lines get more thunderous than ever, keeping the music vibrant and fresh from start to finish; and putting the pedal to the metal, Arska is once again supported by the headbanging beats by Viljami in Guardians of Light, a song that will please all fans of the fusion between Heavy Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Viking Metal.

Then a video game-ish bridge named The Raid of Sigtuna warms up our senses for Metal for the North, a fast-paced, epic creation by Arska showcasing cutting riffs and classic drums, not to mention its lyrics which are a beautiful ode to his homeland (“Beautiful Scandinavia – Ancient Fennoscandia – Are the soul of a northern warrior – And the crystal clear ice! / Metal makes us stronger – And the northern legacy / Forward together – We’re playing metal for the North!”). mTORR’s second to last blast of battle-like metal and rock from the North comes in the form of Fennoscandian Nights, displaying a galloping bass in total sync with Arska’s always classic riffs, boosting its impact on the listener considerably, before the demo version for Fennoscandian Heathens (actually, the sound quality is just as good as the rest of the album despite being called a demo) comes crushing, sounding faster and just as epic and imposing as all previous songs, being a recommended choice for singling along with Arska and a climatic conclusion to this interesting tribute to all things North.

As already mentioned, North is not just an album of old school metal music, but the musical depiction of all the passion and appreciation the talented Arska nurtures for his homeland, and if you also want to show your support to his new project mTORR and to the stunning landscapes of the North, you can purchase your copy of the album from the Alone Records’ webstore in CD or vinyl format, as well as from the High Roller Records’ webstore (also in CD or vinyl) or from Discogs (in CD or vinyl), with all 250 hand-numbered vinyl copies coming with a sticker and the first 100 copies with a poster. As you can see, you cannot simply download North like most albums nowadays. North is a tribute to the past, and that’s how it’s supposed to be admired by us, old school metalheads.

Best moments of the album: Thundergod, Nordic Rocker, Nordic Hammer and Metal for the North.

Worst moments of the album: The Golden Fields of Tawastia.

Released in 2018 Alone Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:05
2. Thundergod 4:08
3. The Golden Fields of Tawastia 3:27
4. Nordic Rocker 3:39
5. A Halo from the Gods 3:59
6. Nordic Hammer 2:07
7. Rock för North 3:34
8. Guardians of Light 3:07
9. The Raid of Sigtuna (Instrumental) 1:17
10. Metal for the North 3:36
11. Fennoscandian Nights 3:54
12. Fennoscandian Heathens (Demo) 3:10

Band members
Arska – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Viljami – drums on “Thundergod”, “Guardians of Light” and “Fennoscandian Heathens”

Album Review – Dragonlord / Dominion (2018)

Exploring themes of darkness owning and influencing these times we now live in, here comes Eric Peterson’s fantastic Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.

After long and excruciating 13 years, San Francisco, California-based Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal horde Dragonlord, the brainchild of Testament’s own Eric Peterson where he’s able to showcase his darkened side, is finally back with a brand new opus, titled Dominion. Serving as the long-awaited follow-up to their 2005 release Black Wings of Destiny, but taking the fantasy and storytelling to a whole new level, Dominion explores themes of darkness owning and influencing these times we now live in, and things that have come to pass. In addition to Eric Peterson on vocals, guitar and bass, Dominion features the musical talents of Lyle Livingston (Psypheria) on orchestrated keys and pianos, Alex Bent (Trivium) on drums, and notable fantasy metal singer Leah McHenry (Leah) on female vocals and choirs, who has performed and recorded with members of renowned acts like Blind Guardian, Nightwish and Delain, among others.

Featuring a stunning artwork painted by Berlin-based Israeli artist and designer Eliran Kantor (Testament, Iced Earth, Sodom), Dominion is a dark fantasy fan’s musical dream, exploring everything from Nordic history to Lord of the Rings, with its eight songs creating a deep and heady musical journey rife with meaning and menace, from the blackest and loudest recesses of Eric Peterson’s mind. If you’re a fan of the superb work done by Mr. Peterson with Thrash Metal titans Testament, you might be surprised by how visceral, epic and imposing his guitar sounds with Dragonlord, not to mention his devilish gnarls, turning Dominion into a must-have for fans not only of the Symphonic Black Metal genre, but also for anyone else who admires high-quality and vibrant extreme music.

The always mesmerizing sounds of thunder and rain open the gates of the underworld in the intro titled Entrance, before Eric comes ripping with his ass-kicking guitar, all embraced by an epic atmosphere and suddenly exploding into the fantastic title-track Dominion, presenting insane keys and an imposing background choir, while Alex proves why he’s one of the most talented drummers of the current metal scene and Eric sounds bestial with his enraged roars. Put differently, this full-bodied and very detailed lesson in Symphonic Black Metal is what Dimmu Borgir should be doing, and their sonic onslaught of piercing and Stygian metal music goes on in Ominous Premonition, getting faster, more demonic and absolutely amazing, with the keys by Lyle being a thing of beauty while Eric not only growls like a demon, but his riffs and solos are also majestic as usual.

In Lamia it’s quite impressive how Eric’s riffs and Lyle’s keys and orchestrations blend so perfectly, with guest vocalist Leha providing a touch of delicacy and passion amidst all devastation blasted by the rest of the band; whereas epicness and lust beautifully flow from all instruments in the stunning Love of the Damned, a Symphonic Black Metal ballad where Eric’s vocals get more introspective and deep (and I would simply love to see them performing this song live). Then it’s time for a journey to the mighty North in Northlanders, with the bitterly cold riffs by Eric and the gripping keys by Lyle being enhanced by Alex’s precise and potent beats, while the ambience remains as epic as possible in a flawless hybrid between Black Metal and Symphonic Metal.

Dragonlord Dominion Ultimate Dragonlair Merch Bundle

Then featuring Tilen Hudrap (Vicious Rumors, Wartune, Thraw) on bass, The Discord of Melkor is perhaps the most Black Metal of all tracks, a dark symphony of classic and vibrant metal music that sounds very dense thanks to the brutality blasted by Alex on drums, whereas Serpents of Fire, the last song in Dominion, is just as fantastic as the rest of this very detailed and thrilling album, with Eric growling and gnarling demonically while Alex and Lyle generate a massive wall of symphonic and violent sounds, resulting in over eight minutes of a captivating and bold sonority for our total delectation, not to mention how its climatic ending gets closer to the Thrash Metal by Testament, therefore adding an extra pinch of adrenaline to the overall result.

If you think that my words are not enough to describe the music in Dominion, I highly recommend you go watch “The Making of Dominion” video series on YouTube (split into parts one, two and three), and in order to get more details about Dragonlord simply go visit their official Facebook page. In addition, from all album versions and bundles available in the market, apart from the digital options you should definitely take a look at the physical combos available from the Spinefarm Records’ webstore, especially the beyond superb “Ultimate Dragonlair” merch bundle, featuring the LP gatefold version with a large-size 20-page lyric booklet, the CD digipack, a copy of the unparalleled “The Burner” comic book, and a stylish T-shirt. But be aware that, once you enter the dangerous dominion of Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal ruled by Eric Peterson and his Dragonlord, there’s no turning back.

Best moments of the album: Dominion, Love of the Damned, Northlanders and The Discord of Melkor.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Spinefarm Records

Track listing
1. Entrance 2:34
2. Dominion 5:36
3. Ominous Premonition 4:40
4. Lamia 4:15
5. Love of the Damned 5:21
6. Northlanders 6:45
7. The Discord of Melkor (feat. Tilen Hudrap) 7:09
8. Serpents of Fire 8:09

Band members
Eric Peterson – vocals, guitars, bass
Lyle Livingston – keyboards, piano, orchestrations
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Leah McHenry – female vocals, choirs
Tilen Hudrap – bass “on Discord of Melkor”

Album Review – Tyrannic / Ethereal Sepulchre (2018)

A dark beast of doom in the form of an uncompromising album of true and raw heavy music, courtesy of a trinity whose veins pump with the pulse of Black, Thrash and Doom Metal.

Formed in 2010 under the antipodean sky of Sydney, Australia, the ruthless Thrash/Doom Metal entity known as Tyrannic has been paving their own twisted path with a dark and sinister mindset since their inception, and despite several lineup changes over the years the band’s founding member R has constantly driven the band forward from behind the kit with his signature vocal style and dedication to the “do-it-yourself” principles and aesthetic of the underground. After releasing a couple of demos, a split album and a live tape through the years, it’s time for Tyrannic to unleash their dark beast of doom with their honest and uncompromising debut album titled Ethereal Sepulchre, crafted with a very personal approach to carving its own unique and disgusting mould.

Featuring four long tracks of heinous, horrific and bizarre sounds, the most primitive rumblings straight from the beast’s belly, Ethereal Sepulchre offers the listener unadulterated metal from a trinity whose veins pump with the pulse of Heavy Metal. Furthermore, R describes the album as a release which “projects complete darkness in the most obscure form”, with its lyrical content being an expression of his innermost exploration into abstract thought, madness and insanity, all driven by experiential death worship. In other words, if you’re a fan of the obscure music by iconic bands from distinct genres but with the same appreciation for the dark, like Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Emperor and Dark Funeral, among several others, get ready for a visceral and thunderous descent into the pits of hell with Tyrannic.

The first track of the album, a demonic welcome card by the trio entitled Serpent Scythe, brings forward classic, old school Black Metal from the very first second spiced up by hints of the Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath, with R’s growls being a demonic fusion of the vocals by Tom Araya (Slayer) and Mortuus (Marduk), while Morgan and J slash their strings in a hellish manner. And Tyrannic’s evil triumvirate keeps delivering darkness and dementia through their instruments in the sluggish and medieval Possession of Accursed Inheritance, offering over 12 minutes of obscurity in the form of Black Metal infused with Blackened Doom nuances. Moreover, R gets more and more deranged on vocals while his beats exhale madness and aggressiveness, until the band’s sonic onslaught of Stygian sounds ends with the creepy sound of a mysterious organ.

In the following tune, named Tyrannic Deluge, what starts in a somber Doom Metal-inspired manner suddenly explodes into flammable Black Metal from the netherworld, with J firing scorching hot riffs form his guitar. This can be considered the most complete and electrifying of all four tracks, remaining pulverizing throughout its 14 devilish minutes, flowing like an ardent blaze through the forest until its Funeral Doom-inspired grand finale. And R, J and Morgan unite their darkened forces once again for one final blast of hellish Black Metal in the title-track Ethereal Sepulchre, delivering blasphemous vociferations, somber riffs and bass punches, and pounding beats, evolving into a menacing hybrid between old school Black Metal and low-tuned, demonic Doom Metal that remains utterly disturbing and vile for our total delight.

In summary, if you are one of those metalheads who simply love to have your soul darkened by the damned sounds blasted by bands from the underworld of heavy music, then Ethereal Sepulchre should definitely become part of your devilish collection. Hence, in order to put your hands on such sulfurous album, simply go to the Séance Records’ BandCamp or webstore (where you’ll find it in CD or in an old school, primeval tape format), as well as Discogs, to purchase your copy of it. And last but not least, don’t forget to show your support to such demented power trio by following them on Facebook, joining R, J and Morgan in their sonic crusade in the name of raw and aggressive Black, Thrash and Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: Tyrannic Deluge.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Séance Records

Track listing
1. Serpent Scythe 6:07
2. Possession of Accursed Inheritance 12:13
3. Tyrannic Deluge 14:05
4. Ethereal Sepulchre 7:00

Band members
R – vocals, drums
J – guitars
Morgan – bass

Album Review – Barkasth / Decaying (2018)

A new formation on the landscape of the Ukrainian Black Metal scene reveals the dark side of idolatry on human life and demonstrates the result of this pernicious influence in their debut full-length opus.

It’s time to get devilish, heavy and blasphemous with the interesting fusion of classic Black Metal with Melodic Black Metal and Blackened Doom blasted by a four-piece act hailing from Ukraine comprised of Arkhonth on guitars and vocals, Goreon also on guitars and vocals, Hagalth on bass and Malet on drums, collectively known as Barkasth. Formed in 2015 in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine located in the northeast part of the country, Barkasth are spreading darkness not only in their homeland but everywhere else in the world with their debut full-length album, simply titled Decaying.

A new formation on the landscape of the Ukrainian Black Metal scene, Barkasth’s source of inspiration is a radically negative attitude towards religion, in any of its manifestations, as the main cause of obscurantism and distorted perception of reality – the main indicator for the level of ignorance of a contemporary man. Throughout the seven unrelenting tracks in Decaying, this Stygian horde reveals the dark side of idolatry on human life and demonstrates the result of this pernicious influence. In other words, the music by Barkasth presents no artificial elements nor any other type of shenanigans added to it, going straight to the point and showing the world Black Metal is still one of the most effective weapons against all forms of religion.

And the opening track Begging By Freaks comes crushing with a classic and epic beginning that beautifully evolves into a mid-tempo, blackened sonority where harsh and demonic growls are supported by the scorching riffs by  Arkhonth and Goreon. Put differently, this is a sulfurous and austere display of Melodic Black Metal infused with elements from Blackened Doom and traditional Doom Metal that will please all fans of the genre, whereas an even darker atmosphere serves as the background for the hellish Alone, with Malet delivering rhythmic but at the same time fierce beats while the harsh vocals by Arkhonth exhale blasphemy and hatred, all enfolded by a mesmerizing vibe. And in Blood & Flesh the band accelerates their pace, therefore reaching a more traditional Black Metal sonority with Malet delivering sheer darkness through his blast beast while Arkhonth growls like a true Black Metal veteran, turning it into one of the top moments of the album without any doubt, also showcasing cutting riffs that will pierce through your ears in a violent manner.

Soul Away gets back to a more introspective and obscure hybrid of Black Metal and Blackened Doom, with Arkhonth and Goreon, together with bassist Hagalth, shredding their strings mercilessly, while all the growling and roaring gets as deep, reverberating and demonic as possible; but it’s when they focus on their darkest and most aggressive Black Metal side that they truly thrive, and the title-track Decaying is the perfect depiction of that, with the entire band sounding flammable and infernal, in special Malet with his always demolishing and melodic beats. Then their disturbing and demonic vein arises once again in the visceral hymn Shepherd, with the sound of guitars penetrating deep inside your flesh amidst a feast of desperate and deep roars, not to mention how vile the whole ambience feels. Lastly, as the icing on the cake we have another cryptic, low-tuned aria of darkness entitled …Where Was The Son Of God, where the Doom Metal-inspired beats by Malet are flawlessly complemented by the guitar duo’s anguished lines, resulting in a captivating and very harmonious ending to the album.

Decaying, which is available for a full (and darkened) listen on YouTube and for purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Svarga Music mailorder, might be far from being a masterpiece or a reference in Black Metal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an extremely well-crafted and solid album by this hardworking quartet, positioning Barkasth as one of the most promising new acts from the Ukrainian scene and definitely a band to keep an eye on in the coming years. Especially if, just like Barkasth’s band members, you also believe religion is one of the main factors in the imminent and inevitable downfall of our rotten society.

Best moments of the album: Blood & Flesh and Decaying.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Svarga Music

Track listing
1. Begging By Freaks 6:15
2. Alone 7:16
3. Blood & Flesh 5:53
4. Soul Away 5:17
5. Decaying 5:08
6. Shepherd 6:02
7. …Where Was The Son Of God 6:36

Band members
Arkhonth – guitars, vocals
Goreon – guitars, vocals
Hagalth – bass
Malet – drums