Album Review – Tantivy / Eyes in the Night EP (2021)

Rousing guitar lines, pummeling drums, clever compositions and gritty vocals, all in one short and sweet EP recommended for anyone who thinks life is a disease, and the only cure is Rock N’ Roll.

With the drive of Motörhead, the hooks of Judas Priest and the thrash acrobatics of Toxic Holocaust, Wausau, Wisconsin-based duo Tantivy is chomping at the bit of traditional Heavy Metal. Named for an archaic word meaning a rapid gallop or ride, Tantivy are formed by vocalist, guitarist and bassist Adam Geurink (from crust-influenced outfit Wardehns) and drummer Jon Zimick in a musical match made in hell, culminating now in 2021 with the release of their debut EP titled Eyes in the Night. Recorded by Elliot Lozier, mixed and mastered by Trevor William Church at Church Recordings, and featuring a dark and rabid artwork by The Pit Forge, Eyes in the Night is everything a fan of the music by NWOBHM and Thrash Metal titans like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Judas Priest, Dio, Toxic Holocaust, Motörhead and Anthrax, among others, can ask for, with its rousing guitar lines, pummeling drums, clever compositions and gritty vocals inspiring us all to raise our fists high in the sky in the name of our beloved heavy music.

Jon’s crushing beats and Adam’s Motörhead-inspired, dirty bass lines ignite the frantic Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal feast titled I Am The Wolf, an amazing option for banging your head nonstop while enjoying a cold beer, with Adam’s raspy vocals adding an extra touch of rebelliousness to such vibrant sound. Then the 70’s and 80’s are united in the form of classic Hard Rock in Cut ‘Em Loose, exploding into a visceral and raw sonority led by Adam’s razor-edged riffs while Jon makes sure the level of adrenaline goes through the roof with his sick drumming, and the duo keeps smashing their instruments like there’s no tomorrow in Daggers, bringing forward a great fusion of classic Rock N’ Roll with Punk Rock. Moreover, Adam continues to vociferate manically while slashing his stringed axes mercilessly, driving the song’s fury through the roof. Then it’s time for guest Mason Kurth to kick some ass with his bass punches in Houndin’ Ya, another fast and electrifying display of Tantivy’s passion for Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll where Adam’s guitar roars like a true beast, always accompanied by Jon’s solid beats and fills; and the tribal drumming by Jon kicks off the 80’s-inspired extravaganza titled Nowhere, with Adam and Jon being in absolute sync during the entire song, therefore setting fire to the atmosphere and putting a beyond thrilling conclusion to the EP. Put differently, the one and only Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.) would certainly be very proud of those talented rockers.

It’s extremely easy to join Adam and Jon on their frantic quest for Heavy Metal. All you need to do is follow them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and more of their insane music, and even more important than that, purchase your copy of their amazing debut EP from their own BandCamp page to prove those unrelenting rockers you’re a worthy metalhead. Eyes in the Night is the perfect example of everything Heavy Metal has always been and will forever be, never slowing down, never giving up and never selling out, always remaining loyal to the roots of the genre and, above all, loyal to diehard fans of old school rock and heavy music. The EP might be short in duration, with only 19 minutes of music, but it’s so intense and well-crafted it sounds like a full-bodied album in the end, pointing to a very promising future for the duo in the American scene and anywhere else in the world where, as many people like to say, life is a disease and the only cure is Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: I Am The Wolf and Daggers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. I Am The Wolf 3:08
2. Cut ‘Em Loose 4:36
3. Daggers 4:19
4. Houndin’ Ya 3:29
5. Nowhere 4:02

Band members
Adam Geurink – vocals, guitars, bass
Jon Zimick – drums

Guest musician
Mason Kurth – bass on “Houndin’ Ya”

Album Review – Hulder / Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry (2021)

The past is alive because the present is dead. With the glorious birth of Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry, long live Hulder!

One of the best-kept secrets hailing from the underground Black Metal scene, Portland, Oregon-based one-woman entity Hulder was formed back in 2018 as the sole work of the selfsame Hulder, whose real name is Marz Riesterer, a native of Mechelen, Belgium but currently residing in the United States. She quickly went to work on Hulder’s first demo released in 2018, titled Ascending the Raven Stone, ancient and regressive but with no shortage of technicality. Hulder then began crystalizing her aesthetic in her subsequent albums both in sheer sonics as well as visuals, culminating now in 2021 with her debut opus Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry. Recorded at De Pestkerk Studio and mixed at The Underworld Studio, this demonic opus is structured like a true album, with side one kicking in an utterly feral manner and cresting along to vicious wanderlust while side two furthers the synth mysticism and maintains a more triumphant aspect, with each of its eight tracks being deeply rooted in 90’s classicism, from the paganisms of earliest Enslaved  and Kampfar to the hypnotizing grit of classic Judas Iscariot. Supported by session drummer Necreon (Cauterized, Funebrarum, Trepanation), Hulder is on absolute fire throughout the entire album, offering our ears old school, raw Black Metal that’s utterly dynamic, engaging, nuanced and transportive, but undeniably physical in its pulsing vistas of darkness and mystery.

The opening track Upon Frigid Winds is pulverizing from the very first second, with Hulder beautifully growling the song’s Stygian words (“Almighty force of the damned / Awakened by eons of pain / Born of destruction and carnage / Brought to light once again / Upon frigid winds we ride / Blaze the path of retribution / Clashing of mere mortal weaponry / Force of evil remains eternal”). In other words, it’s classic, grim Black Metal, period. And our dauntless black metaller keeps darkening the skies in Creature of Demonic Majesty, blasting her guitars and bass mercilessly, therefore crafting a beyond menacing ambience while Necreon keeps smashing his drums nonstop; then inspired by the early days of renowned acts the likes of Immortal, Marduk and Mayhem, Hulder explodes our senses with the sulfurous Sown in Barren Soil, presenting an amazing job done with her piercing riffage, and always supported by the precise Necreon, of course. And it’s time to soothe our souls to the sound of the folk-infused, atmospheric tune titled De Dijle, where Hulder meticulously blends the sounds of nature with phantasmagorical keys and her trademark she-demon gnarls.

After such mesmerizing tune, Hulder offers our avid ears the mid-tempo Atmospheric Black Metal aria Purgations of Bodily Corruptions, once again boosting the song’s malignancy with her devilish keys and riffs, whereas Lowland Famine brings forward old school Black Metal in its purest form from start to finish, with the venomous she-wolf roars by Hulder being beautifully complemented by her Cradle of Filth-inspired keys. Put differently, the song effectively epitomizes Hulder’s talent and passion for extreme music; and switching gears to an atmospheric, almost shoegazing sonority Hulder captivates us all with her delicate vocals in A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn, exploding into visceral Black Metal while displaying poetic lyrics barked by our one-woman army (“A trail of fallen kin lie before me / As far as my tired eyes can see / A bloodred horizon to illuminate my path / I hear their cries as they share in my agony”). Finally, let’s crack our necks headbanging to the menacing From Whence an Ancient Evil Once Reigned, where Hulder’s slashing riffage and low-tuned bass generate a massive wall of sounds enhanced by Necreon’s bestial drumming, putting a sensational conclusion to such inspiring and medieval album.

I guess I don’t need to say we have right in front of us one of the most detailed, organic and infernal albums of 2021, and we don’t need to listen to anything that will still be released this year to make such statement. Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry is a true gem of extreme music, making me wonder what’s next in the career of this talented Belgian-American metaller. Hence, don’t forget to give Hulder a shout on Facebook, to stream more of her awesome music on Spotify, and to purchase Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry in less than two weeks from several distinct locations including her own BandCamp page, the Iron Bonehead’s BandCamp page or webstore, Record Shop X and Apple Music. The past is alive because the present is dead. With the glorious birth of Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry, long live Hulder!

Best moments of the album: Upon Frigid Winds, Sown in Barren Soil, Lowland Famine and A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Iron Bonehead

Track listing
1. Upon Frigid Winds 3:22
2. Creature of Demonic Majesty 3:33
3. Sown in Barren Soil 4:43
4. De Dijle 6:33
5. Purgations of Bodily Corruptions 4:23
6. Lowland Famine 5:26
7. A Forlorn Peasant’s Hymn 6:03
8. From Whence an Ancient Evil Once Reigned 5:07

Band members
Hulder – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Necreon – drums (session)

Album Review – Dark Zodiak / Ophiuchus (2021)

These Teutonic bringers of Death and Thrash Metal are ready to smash us all to the sound of their third full-length album, translating into extreme music the thirteenth sign of the zodiac.

Thrilling live shows, a crushing sound, direct interaction with the crowd and an incendiary fusion of Thrash and Death Metal forged from whipping riffs, vicious drums and thunderous female growls. That’s exactly what Eggingen, Germany-based squad Dark Zodiak stands for, leading the band to rock all over Germany and Europe and to share the stage with renowned acts such as Tankard, Debauchery and Eluveitie, among many others, since their inception in 2011. After the releases of their 2011 debut demo Throwing Stones, followed by the full-length albums See You in Hell, from 2014, and Landscapes of Our Soul, from 2017, it’s time for frontwoman Simone Schwarz, guitarists Charly Gak and Benni Poeck, bassist Steffi Bergmann and drummer Dieter Schwarz to smash our skulls once again with their third installment, the heavy and furious Ophiuchus, the thirteenth sign of the zodiac. A large constellation straddling the celestial equator, having its name taken from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος (Ophioukhos, or “serpent-bearer”), Ophiuchus is a lesson in underground extreme music, showcasing a band that’s not only extremely talented, but that also nurtures a deep passion for Death and Thrash Metal presented as 48 minutes of music split into the ten unrelenting, organic and honest tracks.

A sinister intro evolves into the thrashing beast Do More Say Less, with Simone providing her welcome card through her guttural, she-demon vocals, while Charly and Benni fire razor-edge Death Metal riffs nonstop, and it’s time for Dieter to smash his drums rabidly in the fast and furious Heaven, Earth And Beneath, showcasing a perfect combination of the instrumental madness from Thrash Metal with the vile growling from Death Metal, consequently inspiring us all to smash our skulls into the circle pit. Their sick and violent display of Death and Thrash Metal goes on in Invisible Apocalypse, where Simone invests in some demented Deathslam-inspired screeches while Steffi and Dieter make sure the ambience remains as dense as possible with their infernal kitchen; whereas the obscure vociferations by Simone kick off the infernal Ophiuchus, sounding as if Exodus went full Death Metal and presenting a great job done once again by the band’s guitar duo with their dirty riffs and solos, resulting in over seven minutes of ass-kicking metal with atmospheric passages and endless rage. Then another round of their unstoppable beats, crushing riffage and devilish roars is offered to our ears in the form of Destroy Destruction, a classic Death Metal tune with Dieter showcasing all his dexterity and insanity behind his drums.

The band’s blazing guitars will slash your ears in the also violent, headbanging tune Humor, where Simone’s deep growls walk hand in hand with the classic beats by Dieter, resulting in a solid and entertaining display of old school Death Metal, followed by From Thrash Till Death, once again bringing to our avid ears a pulverizing fusion of Thrash and Death Metal spearheaded by the scorching riffs by Charly and Benni during its three minutes of music tailored for banging our heads like true maniacs. The lyrics in 2020 A.D. couldn’t have represented better the current (and shitty) state of our world, while musically speaking it’s a mid-tempo, hammering extravaganza where Steffi’s bass (together with Dieter’s drums) will make your head tremble in great Death Metal fashion; and after a quick intro, Total Freedom explodes into pure Death Metal in their second to last breath of violence, and you better get ready to growl and gnarl together with Simone during the entire song, not to mention the heaviness of the pounding beats by Dieter. Lastly, blending the gory sound of Cannibal Corpse with the thrashing madness of Exodus and Nuclear Assault the band offers us all Ignorance, a great choice to close the album showcasing Simone’s vicious and demonic growling and the always thrilling drums by Dieter from start to finish, leaving us disoriented but absolutely eager for more of their music in the future.

After all is said and done, we must all admit Dark Zodiak did a damn good job throughout the entire album, offering our ears humongous dosages of savagery, dexterity and passion for extreme music. Hence, we should all hail those Teutonic bringers of Death and Thrash Metal by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by streaming more of their music on Spotify, and by grabbing a copy of Ophiuchus from their own website, from their BandCamp page, and soon enough from other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon. And may the stars of our beloved Death and Thrash Metal keep guiding Dark Zodiak in their quest for total annihilation, celebrating heavy music with more ass-kicking releases like Ophiuchus.

Best moments of the album: Heaven, Earth And Beneath, Ophiuchus and Ignorance.

Worst moments of the album: Total Freedom.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Do More Say Less 5:49
2. Heaven, Earth And Beneath 4:04
3. Invisible Apocalypse 3:45
4. Ophiuchus 7:18
5. Destroy Destruction 4:40
6. Humor 5:16
7. From Thrash Till Death 3:03
8. 2020 A.D. 4:52
9. Total Freedom 5:27
10. Ignorance 3:57

Band members
Simone Schwarz – vocals
Charly Gak – guitar
Benni Poeck – guitar
Steffi Bergmann – bass
Dieter Schwarz – drums

Album Review – Hell-Born / Natas Liah (2021)

After 12 years, one of Poland’s most devilish Black and Death Metal hordes returns with a brand new opus that darkly represents everything they have always been and more.

When some bands return from long years of silence, they unfortunately bring disappointment and a tarnishing of their reputation with them, while others bring a glorious shattering of the silence, a fulfilling of hopes and surpassing of expectations in mighty and imperious fashion, which is exactly the case with Sopot, Poland’s own Black/Death Metal veterans Hell-Born. Disciples of their devil’s work can rejoice, as these Polish masters of Black, Death and Thrash Metal have never sounded more accomplished and powerful than in their newborn opus Natas Liah, a towering edifice of darkness and extreme music brought into being by vocalist and bassist Baal Ravenlock (Behemoth’s co-founder), guitarist Les (also a former musician of Behemoth) and drummer Diabolizer over 12 years after the release of their previous effort Darkness. Recorded at Creme de la Creme Studio and mixed and mastered by Haldor Grunberg (known for his collaboration with Behemoth and Blaze Of Perdition) at Satanic Audio, Natas Liah is everything that Hell-Born have always been and more, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the devilish music blasted by Venom, Vader, Behemoth and Sodom, among many others.

A brief spoken intro explodes into a bestial feast of Black and Death Metal in When You Are God, where its solid instrumental pieces are spiced up by Baal’s deep guttural vocals. Put differently, it couldn’t have sounded rawer nor more devilish than what it already is, kicking off the album ruthlessly. Then even more infernal than the opening tune, Axis of Decay brings to our ears classic Black Metal infused with Death Metal elements, with Diabolizer sounding truly menacing with his blast beats accompanied by Les’ evil riffage, resulting in a song perfect for darkening our thoughts and souls for all eternity, followed by Ye Olde Woods Devil, presenting a mid-tempo, headbanging sonority masterfully crafted by the trio where the drums by Diabolizer and the bass punches by Baal will undoubtedly make your head tremble, sounding and feeling very rhythmic and at the same time primeval from start to finish. And featuring a guitar solo by guest Jacek Langowski (from Holy Smoke), Uroboros is another vicious devastation by Hell-Born showcasing Diabolizer’s spot-on drums and the always venomous riffs by Les, living up to the legacy of Polish extreme music.

After such bestial attack, guest Jacek “Jeff” Kubiak (from Damnation) provides a strident guitar solo in The Butcher, offering us all more of their incendiary fusion of Black, Death and Thrash Metal, with Baal sounding even more infuriated than before with his gruesome gnarls. Baal’s rumbling bass and Diabolizer’s pounding drums keep hammering our heads in Son of Earth, with Les bringing a humongous dosage of darkness to the music with his fiery guitar, and there’s no sign of slowing down for those Polish metallers as they keep darkening the skies with their furious music in In God’s Death, where the classic riffs by Les are boosted by the melodic but at the same time violent drumming by Diabolizer. Putting the pedal to the metal, the band explodes our senses with the Stygian and straightforward Soulrape, showcasing their usual dementia and obscurity led by the always demonic growling by Baal, before all hell breaks loose in the infernal closing tune Blakk Metal, featuring guest vocals by Behemoth’s one and only mastermind Adam “Nergal” Darski. Not only the background keys bring an additional touch of evil to the overall result, but Nergal’s trademark roars make it even more thrilling, turning it into what’s by far my favorite of all songs, or in other words, a lesson in modern-day Blackened Death Metal.

As already mentioned, Natas Liah might be Hell-Born’s most demolishing and obscure album in their solid career since the band’s inception in the distant year of 1996, proving some bands definitely know how to make an impactful and meaningful comeback form the pits of the underworld. Hence, don’t forget to follow those veterans from hell on Facebook, and to support them in their quest for extreme music by purchasing their sulfurous new album from their own BandCamp page or from the Odium Records’ webstore as a 6-panel digipack CD with a 16-page booklet or as a deluxe wooden box edition limited to 40 copies containing a vinyl version of the album, the 6-panel digipack CD with a 16-page booklet, a t-shirt, a patch, a button and a sticker. Having said all that, what are you waiting for to grab your copy of such insane album? Go for it, raise your horns and… HAIL SATAN!

Best moments of the album: Axis of Decay, The Butcher and Blakk Metal.

Worst moments of the album: Son of Earth.

Released in 2021 Odium Records

Track listing
1. When You Are God 4:59
2. Axis of Decay 4:50
3. Ye Olde Woods Devil 5:31
4. Uroboros 6:01
5. The Butcher 5:39
6. Son of Earth 4:52
7. In God’s Death 5:31
8. Soulrape 3:05
9. Blakk Metal 4:46

Band members
Baal Ravenlock – vocals, bass
Les – guitars
Diabolizer – drums

Guest musicians
Nergal – vocals on “Blakk Metal”
Jacek Langowski – lead guitars on “Uroboros”
Jeff – lead guitars on “The Butcher”

Album Review – Black Hole Deity / Lair Of Xenolich EP (2021)

This new American entity comes ripping with their debut dimension-altering listening experience, overflowing their supernatural and sci-fi-themed Death Metal.

When you put together past and present members of ruthless metal acts like Chaos Inception, Malignancy, Fear Factory, Cruelty Exalted and Calcemia, the result is obviously going to be demolishing to say the least. That’s exactly what vocalist Chris White, guitarists Alec Cordero and Cam Pinkerton, and renowned drummer Mike Heller, collectively known as Birmingham, Alabama-based Death Metal horde Black Hole Deity, have to offer us all in their debut EP entitled Lair Of Xenolich, highly recommended for fans of the likes of Nocturnus, Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal and Deeds of Flesh, just to name a few. Produced and mixed by Mike Heller at Heaven and Heller Studios, re-amped and mastered by Lasse Lammert at LSD Studios, and featuring a blasphemous artwork by Chris Kiesling from Misanthropic Art, Lair Of Xenolich is a dimension-altering listening experience, bringing to our ears supernatural and sci-fi-themed Death Metal, sounding progressive yet dark and brutal throughout its intense 16 minutes of music.

Mike showcases all his brutality and skills behind his drums in the fulminating opening tune Razed Earth Edict, where the band goes straight to the point, with Chris’ demented roars complementing their razor-edged riffs flawlessly. Then in Railgun Combat we’re treated to venomous lyrics barked by Chris (“Incandescent / Blaze through steel corridors / Priming our armaments / To sear their flesh / Break the covenant / Carnage in the church of Nihilanth / Bursts of plasma, claims their souls”) while Alec and Cam continue to kill with their stringed axes in another bestial Death Metal exhibit by the quartet, and featuring guest violinist Ally Storch, Hypersleep Dementia is a melodic and introspective interlude that will penetrate deep inside our psyche before the band comes ripping in Multiverse Incantations, with Mike hammering his drums mercilessly accompanied by the obscure riffage by Alec and Cam, resulting in a headbanging extravaganza with absolutely no shenanigans nor any artificial elements. And lastly, the title-track Lair Of Xenolich will offer your avid ears three minutes of top-of-the-line Death Metal, with Alec’s soulful solos and Mike’s crushing beats adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result, therefore putting an amazing ending to the album.

After all is said and done, although we’re talking about just 16 minutes of music, let’s say the dexterity, rage and intensity those four horsemen of Death Metal put into the making of the EP make it sound like a full-bodied album, pointing to an exciting future ahead of them full of wicked, multi-layered releases. Hence, don’t forget to show Black Hole Deity your appreciation by following them on Facebook, and especially by purchasing Lair Of Xenolich from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (and soon from other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon), keeping the fires of underground Death Metal burning bright and, of course, inspiring us to slam into the pit like true metalmaniacs to the furious sound of their top-of-the-line sci-fi inspired creations.

Best moments of the album: Razed Earth Edict and Lair Of Xenolich.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Razed Earth Edict 4:22
2. Railgun Combat 3:28
3. Hypersleep Dementia 1:49
4. Multiverse Incantations 4:10
5. Lair Of Xenolich 3:03

Band members
Chris White – vocals
Alec Cordero – lead guitar
Cam Pinkerton – rhythm guitar, bass, backing vocals
Mike Heller – drums

Guest musician
Ally Storch – violin on “Hypersleep Dementia”

Album Review – Hearts & Hand Grenades / Turning To Ashes (2021)

Featuring eight original songs full of savage riffs and powerfully deep lyrics, the debut album by this Buffalo, New York-based quartet is an ode to all things Rock N’ Roll.

Almost two years after the release of their debut EP in 2019, Buffalo, New York-based Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll outfit Hearts & Hand Grenades is ready to rock our hearts like there’s no tomorrow with their explosive fusion of rock and metal styles in their first full-length album, entitled Turning To Ashes. Originally founded as a cover band in 2012 by guitarist Mike Bress, it didn’t take long for Hearts & Hand Grenades to spread their wings and begin crafting original music for lovers of our good old Rock N’ Roll, culminating now in 2021 with the release of their awesome new album featuring eight original songs full of savage riffs and powerfully deep lyrics. Comprised of the same lineup since the band’s inception, with the aforementioned Mike Bress being accompanied by vocalist and bassist Stephanie Wlosinski, lead guitarist Kenny Blesy and drummer Tom Lafferty, Hearts & Hand Grenades are sharper than ever in Turning To Ashes, making it a must-listen for admirers of rock music with piercing female vocals and a rebellious attitude.

One of the songs from their 2019 EP, Turning to Ashes, becomes the opening track (and the title-track) in their debut full-length opus, an ode to Rock N’ Roll sounding modern, vibrant and fun from start to finish, followed by For the Weakened, also featured in their 2019 EP, where Stephanie is enraged with her high-pitched, raspy vocals while Kenny and Mike bring hints of Southern Rock to the music with their dirty riffs, showcasing all the band’s versatility. Then we have Daggers, inspired by 90’s Alternative Rock, the third (headbanging) tune from their previous effort where the rhythmic beats by Tom will put you to dance while Stephanie continues to kick ass with both her vocals and rumbling bass; whereas I Hide presents an introspective intro to an Alice In Chains-inspired sonority by the quartet, bringing forward a very pleasant pace boosted by the slashing Hard Rock riffage by Kenny and Mike. Needless to say, it will undoubtedly put a big smile on the faces of admirers of rock music from the 90’s.

The last composition from their 2019 EP, Adrenaline, is a lesson in Hard Rock transpiring sheer adrenaline, of course, with Kenny’s guitar solo bringing an extra touch of electricity to the overall result, and I must say this amazing song can be played on any radio station worldwide. Razor-edged guitars kick off the melodious Nothing Left, where Stephanie steals the spotlight with another fantastic vocal performance, leading her bandmates in this Rock N’ Roll party (not to mention another solid job done by Tom behind his drum set), and it’s time for the quartet to bring forth an entertaining fusion of styles such as Ska and Punk Rock in the amazing The In Crowd, where Stephanie is on fire with her piercing vocals as usual while Kenny and Mike alternate between minimalist guitar lines and pure stamina. Lastly, My Sickness is a classic Hard Rock creation that keeps the album at a high level of energy and heaviness, presenting elements form the music by renowned acts like Hole, AC/DC and Velvet Revolver, therefore leaving us all beyond excited for more of their music in a not-so-distant future.

Having said all that, what are you waiting for to join Stephanie, Kenny, Mike and Tom in the high-octane Rock N’ Roll party that is their debut album Turning To Ashes? You can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos, stream their rockin’ tunes on Spotify, and above all that, purchase your copy of their incendiary album or stream it as many times as you want by clicking HERE sooner than you can raise your horns and scream “Rock N’ Roll!” Actually, maybe that’s exactly what we need to do, banging our heads and raising our horns nonstop to warm us all up for when Turning To Ashes is finally unleashed upon humanity, keeping our beloved rock music alive and kicking.

Best moments of the album: Daggers, Nothing Left and The In Crowd.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Turning to Ashes 4:18
2. For the Weakened 4:06
3. Daggers 3:39
4. I Hide 4:23
5. Adrenaline 5:30
6. Nothing Left 4:10
7. The In Crowd 3:51
8. My Sickness 4:18

Band members
Stephanie Wlosinski – vocals, bass
Kenny Blesy – lead guitars
Mike Bress – guitars, keyboards
Tom Lafferty – drums

Album Review – Bhleg / Ödhin (2021)

One of Sweden’s most talented extreme music duos returns with six epic tracks of pure channeling of forceful darkness in their third full-length opus.

Inevitable, as the spreading twilight and turmoil when the blackness of winter swallows the sun, the massive and multi-layered Ödhin, the third full-length album by Swedish Black/Folk Metal act Bhleg, sweeps the world with icy winds and drowns it in the beautiful colors of the night. Enswathed in ancient Scandinavian wisdom, this blackened metal offering muses on the endtimes, as the Norns’ twines of fate have never resounded clearer or with more vigor. Hailing from Västra Götaland, a county or län on the western coast of Sweden, Bhelg are a musical and spiritual journey spearheaded by vocalist L. and multi-instrumentalist S. that began in 2007, but which would not take shape until 2013, having released their debut opus Draumr Ást in 2014 and their sophomore effort Solarmegin in 2018. However, it’s now in 2021 that the duo, supported by session drummer A., sounds sharper than ever, offering in Ödhin six epic tracks of pure channeling of forceful darkness, showcasing vicious outbursts of savagery, reflective moments of melancholy and a primal strength with roots in all three worlds, mesmerizing us with a message as ancient as time that, in the end, our fate shall come for us all.

Obscure vociferations emerge from the pits of the underworld in the raw and epic Vyss, where A. delivers top-notch, old school Black Metal blast beats while S. hammers his stringed weapons mercilessly, all of course boosted by the demonic gnarls by L.; and continuing their darkened path of Folk and Black Metal we’re treated to Alyr III, another bold and dense extravaganza thoroughly crafted by L. and S., with endless epicness and melancholy flowing from all background elements (not to mention its atmospheric, acoustic passages). Then it’s time to wake up and join Bhleg in the eerie, cryptic interlude Gyllene Gal (or “golden gal” in English), tailored for embracing your soul and captivate your senses, albeit a bit too long, before the band comes crushing once again in Slukad Sol (“swallowed sun”), with A. pounding his drums in great fashion while S. keeps extracting razor-edge, piercing riffs form his guitar, resulting in a vicious onrush of Blackened Folk Metal that will please all fans of the genre. Moreover, L. is once again bestial with his enraged roars, making this marvelous musical voyage offered to us by such talented Swedish horde even more gripping. It’s impressive how they’re capable of blending the fury of Black Metal with the epic ambience and all acoustic and tribal elements from Folk Metal, which is exactly the case in the multi-layered tune Ödet (“fate”), whereas minimalist acoustic guitars permeate the air in the pensive outro Drömmen Om Vårdträdet (“the dream of the memorial tree”), where the subtle sound of the bitterly cold wind puts a beautiful ending to the album.

There are countless places where you can put your dirty hands on such amazing album of Black and Folk Metal, such as Bhleg’s own BandCamp page, the Nordvis Produktion webstore, the Sound Pollution webstore, Season of Mist, Napalm Records, Nuclear Blast, EMP, Apple Music, Amazon, and so on. As you can see, there’s no excuse to not support such talented underground act, and you can also follow them on Facebook and stream more of their music on Spotify to get even more immersed in their obscure, folk-infused realm. And until our fate comes for us all, we have a very good reason to keep banging our heads to the sound of Bhleg’s undisputed music.

Best moments of the album: Vyss and Slukad Sol.

Worst moments of the album: Gyllene Gal.

Released in 2021 Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. Vyss 9:16
2. Alyr III 8:56
3. Gyllene Gal 5:12
4. Slukad Sol 10:18
5. Ödet 8:36
6. Drömmen Om Vårdträdet 4:34

Band members
L. – lead vocals
S. – guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals

Guest musician
A. – drums (session)

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020

“Rock stars come and go. Musicians play until they die.” – Eddie Van Halen

What can I say about the year of 2020? No words can describe all the pain, fear, anxiety, losses and struggles we all had to endure during what’s going to be sadly remembered as the worst year of our modern times. We saw the rise of coronavirus, which had a huge negative impact on pretty much everything and everyone we know, with millions of hardworking people unfortunately losing their jobs, concerts being cancelled, restaurants and other businesses being shut down, people getting stuck in their homes and having to deal with psychological issues like depression, and more important than that, with countless lives, and in some cases people really close to us, people we love, losing their battle against such horrible disease. We also witnessed a gut-wrenching surge in racism against black people all over the world, and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in the never-ending fight for freedom and justice, trying to make our world a better place for everyone. And last but not least, we lost so many iconic figures it’s hard to list everyone without crying a little. We lost sports titans such as Kobe Bryant, Diego Maradona and Paolo Rossi, amazing, talented actors and actresses including our beloved “Black Panther” Chadwick Boseman, the original “Darth Vader” David Prowse and the unstoppable Mad Max’s villain “Immortal Joe” Hugh Keays-Byrne, and music geniuses like Rush’s unparalleled Neil Peart and one of the best and most revolutionary guitarists of all time, the one and only Eddie Van Halen. May their souls rest in peace.

However, although we might be living such difficult and stressful times, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with the development of effective vaccines that will certainly put our society back on track sooner than later, giving us all some hope and pointing to a much better future for all of us. In the meantime, I guess one thing that we metalheads have been doing (and will always do) throughout such shitty year is using the music we love to face all of our problems and fears with our heads and horns high in the sky, never giving up nor giving in. Having said that, I’ll leave you with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, showing to us all that it doesn’t matter what happens with the world, heavy music will always stand strong. From the most primeval form of Black Metal to fast and electrifying Power Metal, from a beyond amazing soaring numbers of women kicking ass in an array of styles such as Doom, Symphonic and Death Metal to the most underground Atmospheric Black Metal entities you can think of, from our good old Rock N’ Roll to modern-day Alternative Metal, music prevailed above darkness, pain and hate, and that’s how it will be forever and ever. Enjoy our list of top metal albums for this (terrible) year that’s coming to an end, and let’s keep raising our horns and banging our heads together in 2021!

1. Primal Fear – Metal Commando (REVIEW)
Join Primal Fear’s undisputed rock brigade and become a true metal commando to the sound of their breathtaking new album.
Best song of the album: Infinity

2. Trivium – What The Dead Men Say (REVIEW)
It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.
Best song of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones

3. Testament – Titans Of Creation (REVIEW)
The titans of Thrash Metal are back in action with another technical, melodic and absolutely pulverizing album of extreme music.
Best song of the album: Night of the Witch

4. Lamb of God – Lamb of God (REVIEW)
Re-energized and unrelenting, Lamb of God are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.
Best song of the album: Gears

5. Sepultura – Quadra (REVIEW)
A sensational concept album based on Quadrivium embraced by a fusion of Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Guardians of Earth

6. Onslaught – Generation Antichrist (REVIEW)
These UK veterans are ready to set the world on fire once again with one of the most ferocious Thrash Metal albums of the year.
Best song of the album: Religiousuicide

7. Ecclesia – De Ecclesiæ Universalis (REVIEW)
This army of French inquisitors stands strong on their crusade against every doom heretic with their incendiary debut album.
Best song of the album: Antichristus

8. Eleine – Dancing In Hell (REVIEW)
Time for us all to dance in the fires of hell to the sound of the striking new opus by this unstoppable Swedish Symphonic Metal group.
Best song of the album: Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie (W.Y.R.C.L.)

9. Grave Digger – Fields of Blood (REVIEW)
Grave Digger celebrate 40 years of their undisputed Heavy Metal on a journey back to the vastness of the Scottish Highlands.
Best song of the album: Freedom

10. Konvent – Puritan Masochism (REVIEW)
A dark, primeval and stunning fusion of Death and Doom Metal masterfully crafted by four unrelenting women hailing from Denmark.
Best song of the album: Puritan Masochism

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

11. Genus Ordinis Dei – Glare of Deliverance (REVIEW)
12. Paradise Lost – Obsidian (REVIEW)
13. Axel Rudi Pell – Sign of the Times (REVIEW)
14. Raventale – Planetarium II (REVIEW)
15. Hellsmoke – 2020 (REVIEW)
16. My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion (REVIEW)
17. Burning Witches – Dance with the Devil (REVIEW)
18. Naglfar – Cerecloth (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Stormbreaker (REVIEW)
20. Thundermother – Heat Wave (REVIEW)

And how about we also pay a tribute to the bands that released short and sweet albums that condensed pretty much the same amount of electricity, rage and intricacy than any of the full-length albums from the list above? That’s why we’re also going to provide you as usual our Top 10 EP’s of 2020 for you to see that size doesn’t really matter.

1. Front – Antichrist Militia (REVIEW)
2. Malfested – Shallow Graves (REVIEW)
3. Tøronto – Under Siege (REVIEW)
4. Soul Dissolution – Winter Contemplations (REVIEW)
5. Lutharö – Wings of Agony (REVIEW)
6. Póstuma – Moralis (REVIEW)
7. Black Sun – Silent Enemy (REVIEW)
8. MĀRA – Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive! (REVIEW)
9. Serocs – Vore (REVIEW)
10. Invocation – Attunement to Death (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2020? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2020 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2021!

And before we go, let’s bang our heads one last time in 2020 with a classic Christmas song by an amazing Romanian band that loves Heavy Metal from the bottom of their hearts, pointing to much better times ahead for all of us! Enjoy!

Album Review – Waking Dream / Peculiarities of Evolution!!! EP (2020)

Hailing from Russia, this talented quartet is ready to put you to dance to the sound of their upbeat new EP of pure, unfiltered rock music.

Formed in Moscow, Russia in 2012 by guitarist Aleksandr Imaykin and singer Olga Karbusheva, Waking Dream are a hardworking band that plays an eclectic mix of Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll and Punk Rock with high-pitched female vocals as the icing on the cake, influenced by renowned acts the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Nightwish, Ramones, Toy Dolls and Metallica. After releasing four full-length albums and two EP’s, it’s time for the band formed of the aforementioned Olga Karbusheva and Aleksandr Imaykin together with Mikhail Romanov on the guitars and Aleksandr Kislyakov on backing vocals and harmonica to kick some ass once again with their sixth release, the vibrant EP entitled Peculiarities of Evolution!!!, an upbeat album produced by Ivan Alyoshin and displaying a distinguished cover art by Russian artist Dasha Samsonova that will put you to dance to the sound of its four tracks filled with electricity, passion, rebelliousness and, more important than all that, pure, unfiltered rock music.

Featuring guest violinist Inna Hinkiladze, whose violin makes a beautiful paradox with the low-tuned bass by Aleksandr Imaykin, A Hit Song quickly morphs into a classic Rock N’ Roll song with Punk Rock, Ska and even some Folk influences, inviting us all to dance together with Olga and the boys, whereas the guitars by Mikhail and Aleksandr Imaykin bring a touch of 60’s and 70’s rock music to their core sonority in Broken Heart, while Aleksandr Kislyakov kicks some ass with his incendiary harmonica, resulting in a straightforward, no shenanigans tune that will undoubtedly put a smile on your face. Olga keeps embellishing the airwaves with her delicate but piercing vocals in Gift Frenzy, showcasing a great job done by Aleksandr Imaykin on drums and the trademark guitar solos by Mikhail Romanov, feeling modern and vibrant from start to finish, and let’s hit the dance floor one last time with the groovy Rock N’ Roll feast Peculiarities of Evolution, spearheaded by the unstoppable beats by Aleksandr Imaykin while the harmonica by Aleksandr Kislyakov adds a sense of nostalgia to the overall result.

In a nutshell, albeit extremely short in duration with just a little over 11 minutes of music, Peculiarities of Evolution!!!, which is by the way available for a full listen on Spotify, is another amazing stone in the Rock N’ Roll path paved by Waking Dream in their already solid career, showing us all the quartet will stand strong in their quest for good rock and metal music for many years to come. Hence, in order to sow them your support and inspire them to keep moving forward, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, on Instagram and on VKontakte, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, official videos and live footage, and above all that, purchase a copy of their fun and dancing new EP from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Peculiarities of Evolution!!! might not be a revolution in music (well, that has never been the band’s goal anyway), but it’s indeed an extremely well-done and thrilling album of Rock N’ Roll, and in the end that’s all that really matters and, of course, everything a true rocker needs.

Best moments of the album: Broken Heart.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. A Hit Song 3:12
2. Broken Heart 2:40
3. Gift Frenzy 3:03
4. Peculiarities of Evolution 2:32

Band members
Olga Karbusheva – lead vocals
Mikhail Romanov – rhythm and lead guitars
Aleksandr Imaykin – rhythm guitars, bass, keyboards, drums
Aleksandr Kislyakov – backing vocals, harmonica

Guest musician
Inna Hinkiladze – violin on “A Hit Song”