Album Review – Puta Volcano / AMMA (2020)

A highly enterprising and unusual release by four Greek rockers who definitely know how to blend 90’s Seattle Grunge with Stoner and Southern Rock.

Athens, Greece-based Hard Rock/Post-Grunge quartet Puta Volcano has been building up their legacy and fanbase one gig, one album and one song at a time since their inception in 2012, having released their debut EP Represent Victory Below Eye that same year, their first full-length installment The Sun in 2015,  and more recently another EP titled Harmony of Spheres, in 2017, gaining notoriety in their homeland for their heavy mixture of Seattle Grunge with Stoner and Southern Rock, all with a Southeastern European twist. Already acknowledged in the Greek heavy rock scene, the band comprised of Anna Papathanasiou on vocals, Alex Pi on the guitar, Bookies on bass and Steve Stefanidis on drums is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their brand new opus AMMA, a highly enterprising and unusual release full of heft and verve, combining elements from the music by Alice In Chains, Melvins, Hole, A Perfect Circle, Kylesa and Baroness and, therefore, creating a tantalizing and electrifying sound.

Produced by Johnny Tercu, recorded by Alex Ketenjian, Nick Dimitrakakos and Alex Bolpasis and mixed and mastered by Alex Ketenjian and Johnny Tercu, all at Unreal Studioz in Athens, and featuring a classy artwork that’s the collective effort of artists Anna Papathanasiou herself and Laura Bricta, with an inner sleeve photo by Chrysalena Antonopoulou and logo and layout by Fuzz Ink., AMMA is a multi-layered and very entertaining album of rock music, bringing forward a collection of songs reflecting the whereabouts of a band who illustrates the well documented character of their craft, while simultaneously branching out to new territories using bits and pieces of novelties, making the exploration of each and every track of the album a detailed nit-picking adventure for the listener.

The inspiring an cinematic intro R-Entry prepares our ears and minds for the groovy Entropica, showcasing poetic lyrics declaimed by Anna (“Back from an endless slumber / Across event horizons / Silence where once was thunder / Ashes and rust surround me / I’m breaking / Having seen too many ends / I’m choking / Struggling to let go”) while Steve blasts some sluggish and potent beats accompanied by Bookies’ low-tuned bass, resulting in a lecture in Post-Grunge. Then again drinking from the same fountain as iconic bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden we have Venus Lullaby, presenting a beautiful sonority led by Alex’s distortions and Anna’s charming vocals, driving you absolutely addicted to her passionate performance, not to mention the song’s electrifying vibe; and venturing through more aggressive and harder lands the band offers us all First Light, a true headbanging Rock N’ Roll anthem with hints of classic Heavy Metal where Alex and Bookies are on fire with their stringed weapons, while Anna continues to shine on vocals.

Then a somber intro morphs into a Hard Rock and Grunge extravaganza titled Black Box, with Steve and Bookies hammering their instruments ruthlessly, therefore providing Anna all she needs to fire her Alice In Chains-inspired vocals and inspiring us all to bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow, followed by Sugar Cube, a more introspective creation by the quartet showcasing crisp and delicate guitar lines and beats, bringing to our ears that trademark Seattle sound with a nice Greek twist. The atmospheric bridge Echoing Icons sets the stage to the exciting Primitive Data, another explosion of Post-Grunge with gorgeous lyrics (“Like raindrops on the sea / Break stillness and riple the veil / I fall from blackest space / A flailing newborn / Heliacal rising again / More shadows in my head / I left my center back home / A lifetime ago”), also showcasing the ass-kicking shredding by Alex and the fierce drumming by Steve.

Wicked guitars and deep, dark vocals permeate the air in Apnea, again exploring 90’s Grunge grounds with metallic nuances, flowing smoothly until its crisp ending, whereas Torus sounds groovier than all previous songs thanks to the potent bass jabs by Bookies, presenting stunning performances by all band members with Steve slamming his drum kit mercilessly, living up to the legacy of the Seattle sound. After such enfolding sonority it’s time for Puta Volcano to enhance their heaviness and rage in Space Blanket, a very melodic, sinister and vibrant song where Anna sounds as dark and devilish as possible and with Alex having another amazing performance with his riffs and solos, while ethereal sounds ignite the closing tune titled Kassandra’s Gift, led by Anna and her whimsical voice before the entire band comes crushing our senses one last time in a lesson in modernity and progressiveness.

The excellent AMMA is available for a full and detailed listen on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to Puta Volcano you should definitely purchase the album from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can grab a copy of the album or simply stream it. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, with AMMA working as the utmost representation of everything the band stands for, their talent and their strong focus on what they do, leaving us all eager for more of their music and pointing to a fantastic future for such distinguished Greek quartet with their Seattle-inspired sound.

Best moments of the album: First Light, Black Box, Primitive Data and Space Blanket.

Worst moments of the album: Sugar Cube.

Released in 2020 The Orchard

Track listing
1. R-Entry 0:42
2. Entropica 4:28
3. Venus Lullaby 3:45
4. First Light 3:41
5. Black Box 4:20
6. Sugar Cube 3:18
7. Echoing Icons 1:41
8. Primitive Data 4:32
9. Apnea 2:43
10. Torus 4:15
11. Space Blanket 4:15
12. Kassandra’s Gift 5:47

Band members
Anna Papathanasiou – vocals
Alex Pi – guitar
Bookies – bass, backing vocals
Steve Stefanidis – drums

Album Review – Lady Beast / The Vulture’s Amulet (2020)

The Heavy Metal beasts from Pittsburgh return with another sensational round of soaring vocals, incendiary riffs and classic drums in their fourth full-length opus.

After hundreds of concerts, festivals, tours, three full-length albums, one EP and one compilation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Heavy Metal machine Lady Beast is more than ready to celebrate over 10 years kicking ass and spreading their fulminating music all over the world with their fourth full-length opus entitled The Vulture’s Amulet, an ode to all things metal highly inspired by behemoths the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Mercyful Fate and Motörhead. Featuring a beyond stylish and sexy artwork by American artist Adam Burke (Nightjar Illustration), The Vulture’s Amulet has everything it takes to conquer the hearts of any diehard metalhead, from soaring vocals to breathtaking riffs and blast beats, showcasing all the talent, energy and passion flowing from frontwoman Deborah Levine, guitarists Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler, bassist Greg Colaizzi (who has just left the band, being replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Adam Ramage and, above all, proving once again heavy music is still alive and kicking inside our hearts forever and ever.

Classic, razor-edged riffs ignite the frantic and electrifying ode to heavy music titled Metal Machine, filling every single space in the air with electricity and rage before Deborah comes ripping with her powerful and piercing vocals, or in other words, an 80’s classic metal hymn released a few decades later, in 2020. And get ready for another metal storm led by Andy and Chris with their incendiary riffage in Runes of Rust, a Judas Priest-inspired hymn where Adam smashes his drums with tons of precision and groove, sounding as old school as it can be; while the sick bass lines by Greg generate a thunderous atmosphere perfect for the band’s guitar duo to pierce our ears with their riffs in The Gift, a beautiful fusion of the music by renowned Teutonic bands like Grave Digger, Running Wild and Accept, giving you all you need to bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

Then phantasmagorical guitars à la Mercyful Fate are one of the main ingredients in Sacrifice to the Unseen, while Deborah continues to kick us in the head with her feminine and ferocious vocal lines, also bringing the most electrifying elements from classic Hard Rock to the overall result, followed by the even more metallic and inspiring Betrayer, reminding me of some of the best songs from Judas Priest’s 1978 classic album Killing Machine (or Hell Bent For Leather), with Deborah being simply fantastic on vocals accompanied by the NWOBHM-like riffs by Andy and Chris. And drinking from the same fountain as Iron Maiden in their instrumental classics “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)” and “Transylvania”, but of course with Deborah’s ass-kicking vocals embellishing the airwaves, we have The Champion, an epic Heavy Metal anthem filling our hearts with hope, fire and, of course, Heavy Metal.

It’s time to put the pedal to the (heavy) metal in the absolutely furious, high-octane tune entitled Transcend the Blade, this time a fully instrumental track with Andy and Chris spearheading their sonic onrush, firing beautiful riffs and solos for our total delight, whereas slowing things down a bit (while at the same time getting darker) the band offers us all the title-track The Vulture’s Amulet, a mid-tempo tune where Greg and Adam are ruthless with their thunderous bass and drums, respectively, with Deborah returning in full force declaiming the song’s stylish lyrics. and last but not least, the closing tune Vow of the Valkyrie is an exciting and flammable feast of old school riffs and solos, blast beats and the always killer vocals by Deborah, resulting in a true born-to-be-an-underground-metal-classic bringing forward an amazing guitar “duel” by Andy and Chris tailored for lovers of the seven-stringed ax.

In a nutshell, as already mentioned, The Vulture’s Amulet has everything one might ask for in traditional Heavy Metal, plus of course the mesmerizing touch added by Deborah with her she-wolf vocals, and if you want to show Lady Beast your true support you can buy the album directly from their BandCamp page, from the Reaper Metal Productions webstore (in both vinyl and cassette formats), from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as stream it in full on YouTube and on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, proving to Deborah and her henchmen you’re worth joining their metal den and with The Vulture’s Amulet being the perfect soundtrack for enjoying a cold beer deep down there together with those heavy music beasts.

Best moments of the album: Metal Machine, The Gift, Betrayer and Vow of the Valkyrie.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Reaper Metal Productions

Track listing
1. Metal Machine 3:15
2. Runes of Rust 4:26
3. The Gift 5:09
4. Sacrifice to the Unseen 5:09
5. Betrayer 3:29
6. The Champion 5:24
7. Transcend the Blade 3:42
8. The Vulture’s Amulet 5:14
9. Vow of the Valkyrie 5:03

Band members
Deborah Levine – vocals
Andy Ramage – lead guitar
Chris Tritschler – rhythm guitar
Greg Colaizzi – bass
Adam Ramage – drums

Album Review – Absolva / Side By Side (2020)

Celebrating the great tradition of British Heavy Metal with huge riffs and massive hooks, this young and restless Manchester, UK-based unity returns with their breathtaking fifth full-length album.

If you’re a fan of the most recent solo albums by the indomitable Blaze Bayley, more specifically with his  Infinite Entanglement Trilogy, you’ve probably heard the names of vocalist and guitarist Christopher Appleton, bassist Karl Schramm and drummer Martin Mcnee, who together with Chris’ brother, guitarist Luke Appleton (of Iced Earth), have been making a lot of noise since 2012 with their Manchester, England-based Melodic/Heavy Metal band Absolva. Each member has a wealth of experience with an impressive pedigree recording and touring with their other above-mentioned associations with Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley, and have also toured as support artists with the likes of Saxon, Michael Schenker and Y&T. Now in 2020 it’s time for Absolva to strike again with Side By Side, their fifth studio album following on from Flames of Justice (2012), Anthems to the Dead (2014), Never a Good Day to Die (2015) and Defiance (2017).

Recorded at Rocksector Records headquarters in Manchester, produced by Chris Appleton himself, mastered by Ade Emsley at Table of Tone Mastering Ltd. in London, and featuring a classic artwork by Brazilian artist Alberto Quirantes of Akirant Illustration (Blaze Bayley, Iron Maiden, Star Wars), Side By Side undoubtedly celebrates the great tradition of British Heavy Metal with huge riffs and massive hooks. However, Absolva have never been scared to mix things up, and fans will discover light and shade across the ten original songs (plus two very special bonus tracks) found in such entertaining album that transpires metal music, showcasing an exceptional performance by all band members and, therefore, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Helloween and several other metal giants.

The strident guitars by Chris and Luke bring thunder to the opening track Advocate Your Fate, accompanied by the band’s heavy kitchen of Martin and Karl in a pure traditional Heavy Metal feast, with their guitar solos being absolutely incendiary; and blasting a Judas Priest-inspired mega-riff the band embellishes the airwaves with the high-octane Burning Star, where Chris’ soaring screams are beautifully supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals, sounding perfect for headbanging nonstop in the name of Heavy Metal. Then keep banging your heads and raising your horns to the sound of The Sky’s Your Limit, where the bass punches by Karl will reverberate inside your brain, feeling very melodic from start to finish and being obviously recommended for enjoying it while on a road trip, whereas the title-track Side by Side brings forward an inspiring, upbeat atmosphere showcasing the union among the band members, with both Chris and Luke taking the lead with their refined riffs and solos and, of course, living up to the legacy of the biggest exponents of the genre.

After such amazing first batch of songs, it’s time to speed things up and slam into the pit together with the boys in Living a Lie, another lesson in traditional Heavy Metal where Martin is unstoppable on drums while its guitars will pierce your ears and Chris powerfully declaims the song’s austere lyrics, followed by Legion, presenting a “Stranger in a Stranger Land” vibe generated by Karl and his menacing bass, alternating between heavier moments spiced up by Chris and Luke’s shredding and more serene, melodic passages. And more metallic sounds permeate the airwaves in Eternal Soul, a galloping tune led by Karl and Martin armed with their thunderous instruments, feeling like a metal classic from the 80’s with a catchy chorus that will put you to sing along with the band, not to mention their trademark electrifying solos.

Chris leads his metal army in the rebellious anthem End of Days, a more epic and imposing tune where Martin’s beats dictate the pace and the band’s stringed trio doesn’t stop firing sheer electricity from their axes, and setting fire to the world the band brings forth the frantic, melodic and absolutely awesome Heart Let’s Go, where Chris keeps blasting his sharp vocals accompanied by the razor-edged sound of the guitars and the groovy bass by Karl. Finally, a serene Hard Rock-inspired intro ignites the melodic From This World, the last original song of the album where the quartet showcases a lot of passion and feeling, led by the pounding beats by Martin (albeit going on for a little too long, though), before we’re treated to two metallic and vibrant bonus tracks by Absolva showing their respect and admiration for the undisputed metal titans Iron Maiden, with 2 Minutes to Midnight, and Black Sabbath, with Heaven and Hell, with their Iron Maiden version sounding and feeling beyond stunning.

The guys form Absolva are waiting for you on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify, ready to invade your senses with their refined old school Heavy Metal, and with Side By Side being the perfect representation of everything they stand for and what we can except from such talented band in a not-so-distant future. Hence, don’t forget to purchase your copy of the album from their Big Cartel page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, standing side by side with one of the youngest and most promising bands of the UK scene and, as a consequence, living and breathing metal music together with a band that proudly carries the flag of NWOBHM wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Burning Star, Eternal Soul, Heart Let’s Go and 2 Minutes to Midnight.

Worst moments of the album: From This World.

Released in 2020 Rocksector Records

Track listing
1. Advocate Your Fate 4:39
2. Burning Star 4:02
3. The Sky’s Your Limit 5:22
4. Side by Side 4:39
5. Living a Lie 3:07
6. Legion 3:42
7. Eternal Soul 5:37
8. End of Days 6:07
9. Heart Let’s Go 4:21
10. From This World 5:51

Bonus tracks
11. 2 Minutes to Midnight (Iron Maiden cover) 5:49
12. Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath cover) 7:01

Band members
Christopher Appleton – lead vocals, lead guitar
Luke Appleton – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass
Martin Mcnee – drums

Album Review – Nocturnal Escape / Uncharted Pathways (2020)

This talented German horde returns with a brand new concept album marking a stylistic change from their original sound to a soundtrack-like Black Metal offering.

Brought into being in 2014 as a recording project by  Leo and Klaus Bergmann after their previous band Bleak disbanded, Augsburg, Germany-based Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal band Nocturnal Escape is back in action now in 2020 with their sophomore installment, entitled Uncharted Pathways, a concept album consisting of five songs with a combined running time of nearly 58 minutes, marking a stylistic change from the riff-laden Melodic Death Metal found in their 2015 self-titled debut album to a soundtrack-like Black Metal offering. Featuring a grim and exquisite artwork by artist Daniela Teichmann, the album also presents to the listener a new growler, Paul Perlberg (replacing Thomas Zimmermann), and a new session drummer, James Knoerl, instead of the programmed drums from their first album, providing the overall sound a more organic and, therefore, more intense vibe.

The serene keys by Leo kick off the 10-minute aria entitled Exodus, evolving into a fusion of classic Black and Doom Metal where Paul roars and gnarls in a true devilish manner, filling every single space in the air with its background choir-like sounds, ritualistic drums and scorching hot guitar riffs, ending in a climatic and melancholic manner and building an instant bridge to Forlorn, once again presenting whimsical sounds blended with the band’s most vicious and extreme side, with Leo and Klaus slashing their strings in great fashion and, consequently, providing Paul all he needs to vociferate like a demon while James dictates the song’s charming rhythm with his sluggish beats. In addition, it becomes crystal clear in this dense and distinguished tune how the band decided to distance themselves from Progressive Death and Black Metal, being now fully invested in a hybrid of Black, Folk and Epic Metal.

Then featuring guest Rüdiger Bergmann on trombone, the trio’s acoustic guitars and low-tuned, rumbling bass lines ignite the also multi-layered and vibrant Tranquillity, morphing into an obscure and crisp Black Metal extravaganza led by Leo and his venomous riffage while Paul adds an extra touch of evil to it with his deep, enraged growls, also bringing forward a few eerie, symphonic breaks to enhance the intricacy and drama of the overall result, sounding and feeling as epic and detailed as it can be. And the band keeps stimulating our senses with their classy extreme music in Insight, where all background elements generate a Stygian atmosphere that will darken your heart and soul. Furthermore, the Black Metal blast beats by James make an interesting paradox with the clean vocals by Leo, resulting in a lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal with Leo’s crisp riffs and solos being the icing on the cake. And accelerating their pace and enhancing their electricity they offer us all the closing tune Departure, featuring guest vocals by Stefan Bauer, with James hammering his drums mercilessly until gentle piano notes permeate the air intertwined with heavy riffs and dense bass lines, flowing into a very symphonic, epic and enfolding finale.

In case you think you have what it takes to face almost one hour of the atmospheric and obscure passages by Nocturnal Escape, you can take a full listen at Uncharted Pathways on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase the album from Apple Music, from Amazon or from the band’s own BandCamp page, where not only you’ll be able to compare their current sound with their debut effort, but you’ll also receive an exclusive remastered instrumental version of the entire album (which means almost 58 extra minutes of instrumental and atmospheric extreme music for your avid ears). Also, don’t forget to check what Leo, Klaus and Paul are up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and let the atmospheric and very detailed Black Metal made in Germany found in Uncharted Pathways penetrate deep inside your mind.

Best moments of the album: Tranquillity and Departure.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Exodus 10:20
2. Forlorn 8:35
3. Tranquillity 12:34
4. Insight 12:21
5. Departure 13:54

BandCamp Exclusive Remastered Instrumental bonus tracks
6. Exodus (Instrumental) 10:20
7. Forlorn (Instrumental) 8:35
8. Tranquillity (Instrumental) 12:34
9. Insight (Instrumental) 12:21
10. Departure (Instrumental) 13:54

Band members
Leo Bergmann – guitars, keyboards, clean vocals
Klaus Bergmann – bass
Paul Perlberg – harsh vocals

Guest musicians
James Knoerl – drums (session)
Rüdiger Bergmann – trombone on “Tranquillity”
Stefan Bauer – vocals on “Departure”

Album Review – High Priestess / Casting The Circle (2020)

Seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with tribal percussion and prog rock arrangements, this American trinity is ready to cast a spell on us with their excellent new album.

Convoking crushing riffs drenched with lush harmonies and hypnotic eastern themes, Los Angeles-based Doom Metal trinity High Priestess was formed in 2016 by bassist and vocalist Mariana Fiel when she recruited Katie Gilchrest on guitar and vocals and Megan Mullins on drums, crafting a sound that echoes both past and future incarnations of doom and psychedelia since then. After the release of their highly-acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2018, it’s time for High Priestess to captivate our senses once again with their sophomore opus Casting The Circle, featuring a dark and sexy artwork by Jill Colbert at Manfish Inc. and seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with keyboards, tribal percussion, signature harmonies and grandiose prog rock arrangements. “After playing these songs live for many months, we are pleased to have captured them in their definitive recorded versions for the whole world. We honor gods and goddesses, ancestors and spirits from the past, present and future and sing songs of misfortune,” commented Katie Gilchrest herself about the band’s amazing new album.

A tribal, dark mass is about to start in the deep and embracing Casting the Circle, led by Megan’s ritualistic beats while Katie and Mariana begin blasting their enthralling vocal lines in a true psychedelic and doomed manner. Put differently, it’s absolutely impossible not to get hypnotized by their music, which is also the case in the fabulous Erebus, where the trio leans towards the most obscure side of iconic acts like Black Sabbath and Candlemass, but with a delicious feminine touch added to the overall result. It’s almost ten minutes of enfolding passages, crisp riffs and the sluggish beats by Megan, all spiced up by Katie’s astounding, piercing guitar solos, whereas The Hourglass is a Psychedelic and Progressive Rock extravaganza blending the trademark sound from the 70’s with the band’s more contemporary doom, with Katie’s stunning riffs being complemented by the low-tuned bass by Mariana and the classic drums by Megan, not to mention the song’s fiery vocal lines.

Then it’s time to surrender to the most Stygian side of life in Invocation, offering our avid ears over 17 minutes of ethereal and somber passages led by Katie’s primeval, mesmerizing riffs while Mariana and Megan dictate the rhythm with their thunderous but delicate instruments, summoning the prince of darkness with their scorching Doom Metal. Flowing like an arrow on fire through the night and getting heavier and more imposing halfway through it, the song remains tribal and dense until its demolishing grand finale, with Katie heightening our senses with her cryptic organ keys. And lastly we have Ave Satanas, an ethereal and obscure outro by the trio where their somber vocalizations will drag you into their sinister lair in the name of Satan (which in the case of High Priestess is a beyond awesome opportunity for any metalhead, of course).

The circle of what the band itself likes to call “Heavy-Psych Doom” has been cast by Katie, Mariana and Megan in their newborn opus, and in order to join those three undeniably talented women in their quest for such unique style of heavy music simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and grab your copy of Casting The Circle from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page or webstore (US and Europe), as well as from Amazon. The high priestesses of heavy and lustful Doom Metal are among us to stay, and as they conjure each and every one of us to become part of their devilish kingdom, there’s only one question left, and it’s indeed a very simple one. Who are we to say no to such distinguished and dexterous triumvirate of doom?

Best moments of the album: Erebus and The Hourglass.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Ripple Music

Track listing
1. Casting the Circle 5:10
2. Erebus 9:37
3. The Hourglass 6:46
4. Invocation 17:22
5. Ave Satanas 3:26

Band members
Katie Gilchrest – vocals, guitars, organ
Mariana Fiel – bass, vocals
Megan Mullins – drums, percussion

Album Review – Apocalyptian / Citizens Of The Apocalypse EP (2020)

A short and pulverizing soundtrack to the apocalypse by a ruthless Death Metal unity from Down Under.

Crafted from a mutual love for Death Metal from the late 90’s and early 2000’s by members of the underground Australian bands He Who Seeks Vengeance, Maleficium, Death Masque and Conscious Control, Melbourne-based three-piece horde Apocalyptian has been working hard since their inception to bring some first-class Old School Death Metal to our avid ear, culminating with the release of their debut EP entitled Citizens Of The Apocalypse now in 2020. Comprised of Scott Masson on vocals (who’s also the lead singer for Metalcore act He Who Seeks Vengeance, whose album They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became was reviewed at The Headbanging Moose in 2019), Allan Butt on the guitars and Jacob Capper on bass, Apocalyptian are ready to pulverize your senses with the 18 minutes of classic Death Metal found in their newborn spawn, being therefore highly recommended for fans of bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, The Black Dahlia Murder, Monstrosity and Suffocation, among countless others.

The Wretchedness Within is raw, vile and berserk from the very first second, with Scott welcoming us all to the world of Apocalyptian with a demented roar before his bandmates start smashing their instruments just the way we like it in classic Death Metal, with nuances of Deathcore added to make it even more electrifying. Then we have Wage War On A Dying Planet, as sick and violent as the opening track, where Allan and Jacob are on absolute fire with their stringed weapons while Scott gets more and more demented on vocals as the music progresses, living up to the legacy of giants like Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under, and let’s keep slamming into the circle pit to the sound of Scorched Wasteland, with Allan delivering razor-edged riffs for our total delight while Jacob’s bass punches are in total sync with the song’s insane beats. Needless to say, Scott is once again venomous with his deep guttural barks, which is also the case in the title-track Citizens Of The Apocalypse, as devastating as its predecessors, bringing forward infernal riffs and beats and inspiring us to bang our heads to the vicious riffage by Allan, with Jacob adding an extra touch of heaviness to the music with his low-tuned bass.

If you’re searching for a good (and extremely heavy) soundtrack for the end of days that seem to be approaching us all faster than we could have ever imagined, you should definitely check what Apocalyptian are up to on Facebook and purchase your copy of Citizens Of The Apocalypse (available for a full listen on Spotify, by the way) from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Amazon. Citizens Of The Apocalypse might be short in duration, but it’s indeed a solid and pulverizing album of classic Death Metal thoroughly crafted by three talented musicians from Down Under that points to a great future ahead of them. As long as the apocalypse doesn’t happen in the coming months or years, of course.

Best moments of the album: The Wretchedness Within.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Wretchedness Within 4:40
2. Wage War On A Dying Planet 4:07
3. Scorched Wasteland 5:58
4. Citizens Of The Apocalypse 3:41

Band members
Scott Masson – vocals
Allan Butt – guitars
Jacob Capper – bass

Album Review – Ani Lo. Projekt / A Time Called Forever (2020)

May your heart and soul be filled with the timeless Heavy Metal blasted by Ani Lo. and her henchmen forever and ever in their sophomore full-length opus.

Brought into being in 2010 in Sofia, the capital of the Balkan nation of Bulgaria, when well-known Bulgarian singer Ani Lozanova (also known as Ani Lo.) and her long-term musical partner, drummer Konstantin Dinev (also known as Kossy D.) decided to join forces to create a project of their own, Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal act Ani Lo. Projekt will bring to your ears a powerful and metallic sound in their sophomore album, entitled A Time Called Forever, the follow-up to their 2011 opus Miracle presenting 12 breathtaking creations composed by Jens Faber (Dawn Of Destiny), who also played guitar, bass and keyboards on the entire album, as well as some growls and clean vocals. Recorded and mastered by Markus Teske at Bazement Studio, featuring an array of guest musicians the likes of Eric Dow (Helsótt), Michael Thionville (Voodoma) and Ani Lo.’s own husband Lachezar Stefanov, and displaying a classy artwork by Bulgarian artist Deliana Stoyanova, A Time Called Forever will undoubtedly please all fans of the music played by bands such as Lords Of Black, Almanac, The Unity and Within Temptation, blending the most symphonic, epic and harmonious elements form classic Heavy and Power Metal.

Kossy begins hammering his drums in the epic and symphonic opening track Break My Chains, with Jens providing Ani all she needs to shine with her potent vocals by blasting crisp background keys and wicked growls, followed by the title-track A Time Called Forever, a beyond mesmerizing tune showcasing Arabian elements and the piercing vocals by Ani, inspiring you to bang your head nonstop while the band smashes your senses with their kick-ass Symphonic Heavy Metal. Featuring guest vocals by Lachezar Stefanov, Bleed is an upbeat composition where the keys by Jens and the beats by Kossy generate an incendiary paradox perfect for admirers of the very melodic but still ferocious and high-octane side of Power Metal, and even more epic and imposing than its predecessors, End Up in Sorrow is a song where Ani steals the spotlight with her enfolding vocals, sounding as if Nightwish and Epica had the mighty Doro on vocals, not to mention Jens’ stunning keys.

Back to a more frantic and very sharp sonority, The Letter presents Kossy kicking some serious ass with his Helloween/Stratovarius-inspired beats, with Jens once again sounding bestial with his guitar riffs and solos; whereas again investing in more melodious and fiery sounds the band offers the gorgeous ballad Back to You, where the passionate vocals by Ani are boosted by Jens’ souful riffage while Kossy keeps the pace very pleasant with his beats. Then we have Cold Death, a galloping and fierce aria of Power Metal by the trio with Ani’s vocals sounding even more captivating, feeling like a song form the Middle Ages turned into modern-day metal music, and Feel Inside, perhaps the most generic of all songs despite its positive message and another solid performance by all band member, especially Jens with his guitar solos, never really taking off (but nothing that causes any damage to the album).

Featuring guest vocals by Michael Thionville, who by the way makes a flammable duo with Ani, Fly with Me is another passionate ballad by Ani and her henchmen, showcasing epic keys and spot-on drums, being therefore perfect for enjoying it with your significant other in your arms. Then again venturing through the realms of Symphonic Power Metal the band explodes our senses with the fantastic Don’t Leave (This World), where Ani hypnotizes us all with her potent, high-pitched lioness roars while guest Eric Dow delivers sheer rage through his growls, making it impossible not to raise your fists to such epic tune; and it’s time to put the pedal to the metal in a Melodic Metal extravaganza titled My Misery, where again we’re treated to the awesome Ani-Eric duet, living up to the legacy of renowned acts like Stratovarius and Kamelot, sounding absolutely fast and thrilling thanks to the unstoppable beats by Kossy. And the last blast of heavy music by Ani Lo. Projekt comes in the form of the ballad Walk Alone, where Ani’s deep vocals are accompanied by gentle piano notes and an embracing atmosphere until the very end.

The multi-talented Ani Lo., Kossy D. and Jens Faber are waiting for you on Facebook, and if you want to show your utmost admiration and support for such distinguished group of musicians you should definitely purchase A Time Called Forever from countless locations such as the Season of Mist webstore, Record Shop X, HMV, Apple Music and Amazon, as well as stream it in its entirety from YouTube and from Spotify. And may Ani and her awesome Ani Lo. Projekt keep reigning forever and ever not only in the metallic Republic of Bulgaria, but anywhere else in the world where our good old Heavy Metal is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: A Time Called Forever, End Up in Sorrow and My Misery.

Worst moments of the album: Feel Inside.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Break My Chains 4:52
2. A Time Called Forever 5:47
3. Bleed 4:27
4. End Up in Sorrow 5:16
5. The Letter 3:53
6. Back to You 3:23
7. Cold Death 4:07
8. Feel Inside 3:13
9. Fly with Me 5:13
10. Don’t Leave (This World) 3:19
11. My Misery 3:53
12. Walk Alone 4:15

Band members
Ani Lo. – vocals
Kossy D. – drums
Jens Faber – guitars, bass, keyboards, growls, clean vocals

Guest musicians
Eric Dow – vocals on “Don’t Leave (This World)” and “My Misery”
Michael Thionville – vocals on “Fly With Me”
Lachezar Stefanov – vocals on “Bleed”

Album Review – Nicumo / Inertia (2020)

Let’s explore the vast and melancholic lands of Melodic Gothic Metal and Rock together with five talented Finnish musicians and their breathtaking new album.

Formed in 2007 in Ylivieska, a town and municipality of Pohjois-Pohjanmaa, Finland, the talented Melodic Gothic Metal/Rock institution known as Nicumo returns with another blast of their stylish “Melancholic Metal” in Inertia, the third full-length album in their solid career. Recorded and mixed by Olli Tainio at Joshua Music, mastered by Svante Forsbäck at Chartmakers Mastering, and featuring guest saxophonist Mikko-Ilari Ojala, Inertia will guide through vast and melancholic lands together with lead singer Hannu Karppinen, guitarists Atte Jääskelä and Tapio Anttiroiko, bassist Sami Kotila and drummer Aki Pusa, keeping the band’s momentum going after the releases of their 2013 debut album The End of Silence and their 2017 sophomore effort Storms Arise. “Inertia continues kind of naturally from where our second album Storms Arise left. Atmosphere is even deeper and more intense than in previous albums. We have grown as a band during these years of course, and I believe that it can be heard on this album. Songs are more solid and thoughtful entities, composed by needs of the song. Sound-wise this album is most experimental in our discography. Saxophone and even concrete floor played with drumsticks can be heard from the album just for an example,” commented Aki about the band’s newborn spawn.

In the awesome opening track Three Pyres a melancholic and somber Gothic Rock-infused start gradually evolves into a feast of deep, dark vocals by Hannu and the delicate but piercing guitar lines by Atte and Tapio, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the music by HIM with a more obscure vibe, and we’re all invited to dive into the band’s Melodic and Gothic Metal waters in Dark Rivers, with the band’s guitar duo crushing their strings mercilessly while Aki dictates the song’s pace alternating between faster beats and more rhythmic passages. In Same Blood, a stunning ballad with the band’s guitar duo embellishing the airwaves with their solos together with Mikko-Ilari and his saxophone, Hannu darkly declaims the song’s introspective words accompanied only by acoustic guitars at times, whereas in Witch Hunt their music leans towards classic Melodic Metal, but of course bringing the band’s darker sounds. Moreover, Hannu delivers more of his enraged growls while Sami keeps blasting his rumbling bass nonstop, keeping the album’s Gothic flame burning bright.

Then alternating between thunderous sounds and cryptic, melancholic moments the band brings forward the captivating Tree of Life, where Sami once again delivers tons of groove through his bass while Hannu’s crisp vocals are effectively supported by all background elements, followed by Mother and the Snake, even more enfolding and atmospheric, with Atte and Tapio cutting our skin deep with their wicked riffs and solos while Hannu once again shines with both his clean vocals and deep roars. After such powerful display of Gothic Metal, get ready to dance and bang your heads to the sound of Who You Are, an amazing tune showcasing Hannu’s most visceral growls and the band’s characteristic, slashing guitar lines and spot-on drums; and venturing through the realms of old school Gothic Rock and Metal we have Time Won’t Heal, as melancholic as the best creations by Ville Valo and his HIM, displaying inspiring guitar lines and an embracing ambience that provide Hannu all he needs to thrive on vocals once again. Finally, closing such beautiful album of melancholic music we have Black Wolf with its almost seven minutes of serene passages and heavy riffs, darkening our hearts (in a good way, of course) and flowing like the unruly waters of a Stygian river until its climatic finale.

In short, Inertia is a very entertaining, pleasant and solid album of Melancholic Metal tailored for admirers of such distinct style, inviting the listener to join Nicumo in darkness and savoring every single moment of the album together with them. Hence, let’s show our utmost support to those Finnish metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by listening to more of their music on YouTube and on Spotify, and above all that by buying your copy of inertia from Nicumo’s official BandCamp page, from the Inverse Store, from Record Shop X or from Discogs, and may the breathtaking and somber music by Nicumo serve as the soundtrack to your most serene and melancholic moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Three Pyres, Same Blood and Mother and the Snake.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Three Pyres 3:57
2. Dark Rivers 4:38
3. Same Blood 4:20
4. Witch Hunt 4:41
5. Tree of Life 5:12
6. Mother and the Snake 3:55
7. Who You Are 4:32
8. Time Won’t Heal 3:46
9. Black Wolf 6:55

Band members
Hannu Karppinen – vocals
Atte Jääskelä – guitars
Tapio Anttiroiko – guitars
Sami Kotila – bass
Aki Pusa – drums

Guest musician
Mikko-Ilari Ojala – saxophone

Album Review – Burning Witches / Dance with the Devil (2020)

The witches are back to mesmerize us all and put us to dance with them forever and ever to the sound of their incendiary Heavy Metal.

Swiss Heavy/Power Metal outfit Burning Witches is by far one of the hottest exports from the Alpine Republic since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2017, receiving a very positive feedback from fans and critics from all over the world. Formed in 2015 in Brugg, a Swiss municipality and a town in the canton of Aargau, the band currently comprised of Dutch newcomer Laura Guldemond on vocals (replacing the band’s original singer Seraina Telli in 2019), Romana Kalkuhl and Sonia Nusselder on the guitars, Jeanine Grob on bass and Lala Frischknecht on drums is ready to show the world everything they got once again with their third full-length installment Dance with the Devil, the follow-up to their highly acclaimed sophomore album Hexenhammer, released in 2018, and a lesson in Heavy Metal by five talented ladies who have always loved and breathed heavy music that will certainly inspire you to raise your horns and bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

An eerie, mesmerizing intro titled The Incantation captivates our senses for the infernal Lucid Nightmare, with Romana and Sonia blasting sheer adrenaline through their sick riffage. Put differently, it’s classic Heavy Metal from the 80’s with Laura kicking some serious ass with her witch-like, soaring vocals, setting the bar really high for the rest of the album. Then it’s time to dance with our beloved Swiss witches in the title-track Dance with the Devil, a Hard Rock extravaganza led by Lala’s spot-on beats and Laura’s stunning vocals while the band’s stringed trio fills every single space in the air with adrenaline and electricity; followed by Wings of Steel, originally released in their 2019 EP Wings of Steel, a pure Heavy Metal tune showcasing the band’s dexterity and passion for what they do, all spiced up by Romana’s and Sonia’s classy guitar solos.

And Laura keeps blasting her high-pitched, piercing vocal lines in Six Feet Underground, another solid tune where Jeanine and Lala make the earth tremble with their low-tuned, metallic weapons, whereas in Black Magic we’re treated to an introspective, melancholic intro where Laura beautifully declaims the song’s words, evolving into a stunning ballad presenting passionate guitar solos and an ethereal atmosphere, showing a more delicate side of the band. Less visceral than the previous songs but still heavy-as-hell, Sea of Lies is a good composition bringing to our ears a great performance by Lala on drums, providing her bandmates a solid base for them to effectively slash their strings, while a Judas Priest-inspired riff kick off the metallic anthem The Sisters of Fate, perfect for banging your head nonstop with the girls or for hitting the road with your loved ones. This is the epitome of the band’s killer Heavy Metal with a Rock N’ Roll twist, with their guitar riffs and solos penetrating deep inside our minds.

Necronomicon is one of the darkest and most devilish of all songs, with Laura impersonating a true witch with her raspy, demonic vocals while Jeanine doesn’t stop hammering her bass strings, also presenting more of the band’s razor-edged riffs and solos, and bringing forward Helloween-inspired riffs blended with the classic Hard Rock by bands like Europe and Survivor we have The Final Fight, another lesson in charisma and vocal potency by Laura, therefore highly recommended for singing along with the band. Then taking their heaviness to a new level the quintet blasts the battle anthem Threefold Return, presenting an old school shredding infused with rumbling bass punches and rhythmic drums which will please all fans of classic Heavy and Power Metal without a shadow of a doubt, and lastly we have their cover version for Manowar’s classic Battle Hymn, featuring guest guitarist Ross the Boss (Manowar, Ross the Boss) and guest bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X, Ross the Boss). This is a sensational rendition by the witches with a welcome feminine touch, and still as strong and insurgent as the original version (which you can take a listen at HERE).

If you consider yourself a true metalhead and you think you have what it takes to face the stunning metal witches from Switzerland, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course go grab your copy of the breathtaking Dance with the Devil (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the Nuclear Blast webstore in different formats by clicking HERE or HERE. Hence, after putting your hands on such entertaining album of heavy music, you’ll quickly realize the unrelenting Burning Witches have taken over your mind for good, inspiring you to dance with them forever and ever to the sound of their undisputed Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Lucid Nightmare, Dance with the Devil, The Sisters of Fate and The Final Fight.

Worst moments of the album: Sea of Lies.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Incantation 0:57
2. Lucid Nightmare 4:50
3. Dance with the Devil 4:26
4. Wings of Steel 4:29
5. Six Feet Underground 4:31
6. Black Magic 5:06
7. Sea of Lies 4:56
8. The Sisters of Fate 3:31
9. Necronomicon 4:12
10. The Final Fight 4:35
11. Threefold Return 3:56
12. Battle Hymn (Manowar cover) 6:55

Band members
Laura Guldemond – vocals
Romana Kalkuhl – guitars
Sonia Nusselder – guitars
Jeanine Grob – bass
Lala Frischknecht – drums

Guest musicians
Ross the Boss – guitars on “Battle Hymn”
Mike LePond – bass on “Battle Hymn”