Album Review – Coiled Around Thy Spine / Shades (2018)

An astonishing combination of brutal violence, shredding guitar solos, blasting drums and soaring vocals inspired by classic and melodic Death Metal.

If you consider yourself a diehard fan of modern-day Melodic Death Metal you have to take a very good and detailed listen at Shades, the debut album by Italian metallers Coiled Around Thy Spine. Formed in 2017 in the city of Turin by Italian guitarist Sergio Costa, when he met American drummer David Archie Weiss online, Coiled Around Thy Spine not only have their core essence deeply rooted in Melodic Death Metal, but it’s the classic Death Metal influences spiced up by symphonic elements that make their music so entertaining, electrifying and vibrant, with all songs in Shades being highly recommended for slamming into the pit, banging your head nonstop or simply enjoy their intricate and flammable waves.

After Sergio and David started working on the music together, they decided to expand beyond the initial instrumental idea, recruiting Italian vocalist Daniele Rosso to complete the band’s lineup.  Unfortunately, David decided to quit the band for personal reasons before the release of Shades, but that doesn’t mean Coiled Around Thy Spine will call it quits and cease their quest for top-tier metal music. Quite the contrary, featuring a simple but very effective artwork by TheSmashedRabbit, Shades is an astonishing combination of brutal violence, shredding guitar solos, blasting drums and soaring vocals, inspired by classic and melodic Death Metal as well as contemporary metal masterpieces alike, proving this up-and-coming metal unity is here to stay, and after listening to the album you’ll certainly be eager for more of their music.

A movie-inspired intro named Candles builds the ambiance for the hard-hitting tune [God Mode: On], blending the most visceral and modern elements from Melodic Death Metal and Blackened Death Metal, sounding absolutely pulverizing form start to finish with Daniele blasting devilish gnarls and growls while Sergio Costa shreds his guitar in a demonic way. Put differently, this can be called an evil and bastard hybrid of Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir. Then we have Dissected, where David sounds beyond brutal on drums, elevating the impact of this hellish tune considerably, also presenting hints of the music by Arch Enemy on vocals and guitars and flowing demonically until the end; followed by How Freedom Dies, another crushing spawn by the power trio where the strident and sharp sound of guitars is simply outstanding, bringing a high dosage of malignancy to the music. Moreover, its background keyboards add a touch of delicacy to the ambience, bringing more balance to this well-crafted, full-bodied chant. And their Arch Enemy-like vein arises once again in the title-track Shades, a darker and more melodic metal extravaganza than its predecessors, with the only issue being that the music never reaches the same speed as the rest of the album (its level of heaviness and aggression is still quite gargantuan, though).

Their intricate and berserk feast of sounds and tones goes on in Subhumanized, led by the lancinating riffs and solos by Sergio while David keeps smashing his drums, sounding modern and vile from start to finish, whereas in The Sick Game, their most demonic song of all, guitars and keys complement each other flawlessly, supported by the pulverizing drumming by David. Furthermore, the song also displays interesting nuances of Progressive Death and Black Metal, resulting in a lesson in extreme music by the Italian trio where Daniele bursts his lungs screaming like a demon. The second to last spawn of dark sounds by Coiled Around Thy Spine, titled In Vain, showcases more of their high-octane, flammable music tailored for banging your head frantically, with all three members sounding demented with their instruments (in special David and his Stygian beats and fills), and  their final avalanche of extreme sounds, named Safe, is perhaps their most obscure one, leaning towards modern Black Metal in a true feast of rhythm, harmony, and darkness led by Daniele and his otherworldly growls, not to mention Sergio and his neck-breaking riffs, ending the album in a menacing and climatic manner.

You can listen to Shades in full on Spotify, and if you have what it takes to face the modern and absolutely threatening music by Coiled Around Thy Spine you should definitely visit their Facebook page for news, tour dates and everything else that’s related to the band, and purchase the album on iTunes or on Amazon. As aforementioned, Shades combines the brutality and heaviness of Death Metal with the finesse of modern-day Melodic Death Metal in a fantastic way, proving this now Italian duo (who will certainly find another sensational drummer to replace David soon) has all that’s needed to thrive in the world of heavy music. And we’ll all be eagerly waiting for more of their incendiary music in the near future, of course.

Best moments of the album: [God Mode: On], How Freedom Dies and The Sick Game.

Worst moments of the album: Shades.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Candles 1:54
2. [God Mode: On] 5:36
3. Dissected 6:17
4. How Freedom Dies 4:48
5. Shades 6:52
6. Subhumanized 5:54
7. The Sick Game 5:16
8. In Vain 5:59
9. Safe 7:50

Band members
Daniele Rosso – vocals
Sergio Costa – guitars, bass, synth
David Archie Weiss – drums, synth

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Album Review – Aborted Fetus / The Ancient Spirits Of Decay (2018)

Behold the pulverizing new album by one of the strongest names of the Russian underground Death Metal scene, turning each one of their compositions into instruments of torture, pain and gore.

For nearly two decades, Russian Death Metal force Aborted Fetus has been unflinching in their pursuit of ruthless savagery, delivering unstoppable aural punishment and standing triumphant like a warlord on the broken bodies of their defeated enemies. Now in 2018, this Perm-based squad founded in 2000 returns with another pulverizing opus titled The Ancient Spirits Of Decay, following the same ruthless path of devastation from their 2017 intimidating album The Art Of Violent Torture and being highly recommended for fans of Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and Devourment, among other crushing Death Metal giants.

In The Ancient Spirits Of Decay, which features a demonic, creepy artwork by Russian artist Andrey Khrisanenkov (from Armaada Art), the horde comprised of Igor Stafeev on vocals, Alexander ‘Meatgrinder’ Andreev on the guitar, Sergey Shchapov on bass and Sergey ‘Hammer’ Kulakov on drums lives up to the legacy of old school Death Metal, turning each one of the songs in the album into instruments of torture, pain and gore. Needless to say, you better prepare your ears and minds for over 48 minutes of brutal devastation not recommended for the lighthearted, showing why Aborted Fetus are one of the strongest names in the Russian independent extreme music scene.

Rising from the scorching pits of hell with the intro The Wind of Agonizing Spirits, here come Aborted Fetus and their crushing Death Metal in Eaten by Pigs in the Trough, the first “method of torture” from the album (that by the way reminds me of the 2001 movie Hannibal) and a gruesome welcome card by this filthy squad where Igor growls deeply like a devilish creature, while Hammer is bestial with his beats and fills; followed by Drenched Eyes in Boiling Oil, with the music sounding and feeling as destructive as the song’s name. Furthermore, Meatgrinder fires old school Death Metal riffs supported by the metallic bass by Sergey, keeping the atmosphere dense, menacing and gory. And they continue their path of sheer torture and pain with a classic Death Metal tune titled Nailed to the Cross, with Meatgrinder being unstoppable with his riffs and solos and Hammer pounding his drums like a stone crusher, and Beheaded on the Guillotine, where Igor keeps vociferating like a demon, also presenting some classic guitar solos to bring more balance to the utter devastation blasted by the quartet.

Cradle of Revulsion kicks off with a soulful guitar solo supported by a pulverizing background, evolving into a piercing and menacing sonority led by Igor and his cavernous roars in what’s their most detailed and thrilling tune (with a few good breaks and variations to make the overall result even more potent), whereas total anarchy and chaos arise in a classic Death Metal chant titled Cold Lake of the Sinner, with Meatgrinder delivering pure shredding and Hammer once again bringing aggressiveness to the music, getting extremely gory just the way we like it. Then we have Flame of Death, an instrumental bridge spearheaded by Sergey and his low-tuned bass, setting the stage for Rack of Torment, another traditional, straightforward and demolishing creation by Aborted Fetus (despite falling flat after a while), with Hammer and Meatgrinder being in total sync helping Igor thrive with his deep growls, and the insanely heavy Roasted Alive in the Copper Bull’s Stomach, a short and cataclysmic extravaganza where Hammer sounds as demolishing as he can be, reminding me of the early days of Cannibal Corpse due to its rawness, which means it will certainly ignite some serious mosh pits during their live concerts.

The last batch of torturing hymns by Aborted Fetus keep decimating our senses, starting with Genital Torture by the Alligator Tongs, which not only carries a “cute” name, but the music itself is also a blast of Brutal Death Metal with Igor’s growls getting deeper and deeper, while Meatgrinder continues with his feast of devilish riffs and solos. In Iron Petals of the Blasphemer’s Pear the band offers one final explosion of their devastating Death Metal for our avid ears, with Hammer leading their sonic havoc and Meatgrinder and Sergey slashing their strings mercilessly, ending in a melancholic instrumental outro titled Follow Into the Darkness, closing the album in a pleasant (but obviously obscure) manner.

You can get more details about the brutal music crafted by these Russian metallers through their Facebook page, VKontakte profile and YouTube channel, and grab your copy of The Ancient Spirits Of Decay from their own BandCamp page, or from the Comatose Records’ BandCamp or webstore (as a special package including the album, a shirt and a sticker), as well as from iTunes, Amazon or Discogs. And after you possess such destructive album on your hands, it’s just a matter of hitting play and letting the torture begin.

Best moments of the album: Eaten by Pigs in the Trough, Cradle of Revulsion and Roasted Alive in the Copper Bull’s Stomach.

Worst moments of the album: Rack of Torment.

Released in 2018 Comatose Music

Track listing
1. The Wind of Agonizing Spirits (Intro) 2:14
2. Eaten by Pigs in the Trough 3:53
3. Drenched Eyes in Boiling Oil 3:51
4. Nailed to the Cross 3:38
5. Beheaded on the Guillotine 2:43
6. Cradle of Revulsion 6:11
7. Cold Lake of the Sinner 3:43
8. Flame of Death (Instrumental) 0:54
9. Rack of Torment 5:19
10. Roasted Alive in the Copper Bull’s Stomach 3:21
11. Genital Torture by the Alligator Tongs 5:46
12. Iron Petals of the Blasphemer’s Pear 4:43
13. Follow Into the Darkness (Instrumental) 1:58

Band members
Igor Stafeev – vocals
Alexander ‘Meatgrinder’ Andreev – guitar
Sergey Shchapov – bass
Sergey ‘Hammer’ Kulakov – drums

Album Review – Black Box Warning / Attendre La Mort EP (2018)

A high dosage of Sludge and Doom Metal split in five corrosive tracks recommended for fans of devastatingly heavy, sulfur-smelling tunes, courtesy of an up-and-coming French power trio.

Their medicine is not a syrup. Formed in 2015, French Doom/Sludge Metal band Black Box Warning is here to offer us all a heavy über rhythm section, staggering as a depressive overdose of neuroleptics ready to commit the irreparable to silence the voices in his head, obscure guitar sticks and a black tar singing that graze your brain and you inexorably asphyxiate neurons. Comprised of Kevin Dubois d’Enghien on vocals and guitar, Hervé Bettios on bass and Julien Rousset on drums, this French unity is releasing their debut EP titled Attendre La Mort, or “waiting for death” in English, featuring a dark artwork by Gilles Da Costa and five corrosive and downtrodden tracks highly recommended for fans of devastatingly heavy, sulfur-smelling tunes à la Crowbar, Primitive Man and Old Man Gloom.

It takes the power trio only a few seconds to blast an overdose of heavy, sluggish sounds in the opening track, titled 5 mg, with Kevin firing some deep, obscure growls while Hervé and Julien keep the music dense, menacing and thunderous with their sharp bass lines and beats, respectively. Then faster, more aggressive beats and tones ignite another Sludge and Doom Metal extravaganza by the power trio, this time lowering the dosage and naming it 4 mg, before morphing into that old school sluggish-as-hell Stoner Metal sonority we all love so much. Furthermore, the strident sound of the guitar by Kevin brings a touch of finesse to the music, boosting its impact and taste considerably, with its last part being a frantic fusion of sounds with Julien smashing his drums furiously while Hervé extracts devilish roars from his bass guitar.

1 mg, the lowest dosage of the album, begins in the most traditional Sludge Metal way, flowing smoothly but at the same time violently from start to finish, with highlights to its neck-breaking rhythm led by the intricate beats by Julien; and the distorted bass by Hervé kicks off the most Stygian of all tracks of the EP, 2 mg, with the beats by Julien getting more intense and vibrant while Kevin slashes his guitar strings mercilessly, generating a rumbling and captivating sonority. And 3 mg, the last track of the EP, brings sheer aggressiveness and heaviness spearheaded by Kevin and his demonic gnarls, resulting in another tune perfect for banging your head nonstop with the band’s stringed duo blasting flammable, metallic lines while Julien once again doesn’t show any mercy for his drums.

In case you want to have an overdose of Black Box Warning, you can enjoy all 15 mg of the corrosive Sludge and Doom Metal found in Attendre La Mort at once on YouTube or on Spotify, and purchase your copy of the album from their official BandCamp page, as well as from several other locations. In addition, you can also keep an eye on all things Black Box Warning by following them on Facebook, on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and never miss your necessary dosage of crushing riffs and aggressive roars thanks to this talented power trio of Sludge Metal doctors.

Best moments of the album: 4 mg.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. 5 mg 3:37
2. 4 mg 5:54
3. 1 mg 4:28
4. 2 mg 5:47
5. 3 mg 3:26

Band members
Kevin Dubois d’Enghien – vocals, guitar
Hervé Bettios – bass
Julien Rousset – drums

Album Review – Augury / Illusive Golden Age (2018)

Following the same path of extreme pounding riffing mixed to the sci-fi and historical concept of their first two albums, this Canadian four-piece act returns with a brand new (and crushing) opus.

Hailing from Montreal, “La Métropole du Québec”, Canadian Progressive Death Metal squad Augury began their journey in 2001 from the ashes of many local acts such as Foreshadow, Kralizec, Atheretic, Quo Vadis, Disembarkation and Neuraxis, with an intent from the start to deliver an extreme dose of Death-Black-Progressive Metal along with an intriguing scientific and esoteric lyrical concept. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Patrick Loisel, guitarist Mathieu Marcotte (Humanoid), bassist Dominic “Forest” Lapointe (First Fragment, Teramobil, Beyond Creation), and newcomer Antoine Baril (Contemplator) on drums, Augury are back in action with their third full-length installment, titled Illusive Golden Age, following the same path of extreme pounding riffing mixed to the sci-fi and historical concept of their first two albums Concealed and Fragmentary Evidence.

Featuring a somber artwork by Canadian musician Filip Ivanović, from Flat Bathtub, Illusive Golden Age will please all fans of progressive and extreme music who are also in constant pursuit of a good background story or meaningful content, making the entire band really proud of the final result achieved. “It took us quite a long time to concretize so we’re eager to see people’s reaction to our new music. Illusive Golden Age is a poetic tale about the recurrence of downfall and a glance at some factors that bring down societies, influenced by lost civilizations and their enigmas”, said those talented Canadian metallers about their brand new spawn.

Thnigs can’t get any more progressive than the title-track Illusive Golden Age, an epitome of modern Progressive Death Metal where Patrick together with Mathieu and Dominic give a lesson in how to treat your strings with respect, delivering beautiful riffs and solos while Antoine demolishes his drums; and Antoine and Dominic ignite the furious The Living Vault in a groovy and captivating way, before Patrick vociferates deeply like an uncanny beast. Furthermore, the song evolves to a very intricate and exciting musicality, with its slashing riffs blending flawlessly with its insanely complex drums until its wicked grand finale. It’s certainly impressive how they blend Progressive and Death Metal so perfectly, which is exactly the case in another lesson in creativity and fury by the quartet titled Carrion Tide, presenting lyrics fans of the genre will definitely love (“They swarm the clouds / Seeded with the morgellon plague / Falling like manna / Tapeworms weave through your brains / Witness the parasite becoming a host / Witness the anthill getting boiled down / Setting to sail / The carrion tide”), whereas in Mater Dolorosa the band takes their ferocity and madness to a whole new level in a feast of crushing riffs, demented drums and deep, cavernous roars (not to mention how the bass punches by Dominic will make your skull tremble), resulting in one of the best and most pulverizing of all songs.

Then if you love demented metal music you’ll have a blast with Maritime, where the band’s guitar duo is not only in total sync, but they complement Antoine’s bestial drumming in a precise manner, setting the stage for Kevin and his berserk gnarls. Message Sonore leans towards more traditional Progressive Metal, with the metallic sounds emanating from their riffs being the core element in this intricate instrumental exhibit (and I should say it would be extremely nice to see them jamming like this live), while Parallel Biospheres carries a classy name for another frantic onrush of Progressive Death Metal led by Antoine and his phenomenal drumming. Put differently, this is a total delight for lovers of the most insane side of progressive music, with Kevin sounding beyond demonic on vocals. And last but not least, their most complex creation, entitled Anchorite, is also their longest one, presenting utterly melodious guitar lines, rhythmic drums and an enfolding atmosphere, with the brutish growls by Kevin effectively bringing an extra dosage of aggressiveness to the overall musicality, culminating in a true musical journey through the wicked universe ruled by Augury until everything comes to a tempestuous and awesome ending.

You can listen to Illusive Golden Age in full on YouTube, and follow Augury on Facebook for news, tour dates and all other updates by the band. And in case Progressive Death Metal is your cup of tea and you’re eager to put your hands on this thunderous and very progressive album, you can find it on sale at the band’s own BandCamp page, at The Artisan Era’s webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. In a nutshell, the third full-length opus by Augury not only cements their name as one of the most exciting new groups of the underground extreme scene, but it also points to a bright future for a band that’s not afraid at all to experiment with sounds while at the same time being as aggressive and heavy as they can be.

Best moments of the album: The Living Vault, Mater Dolorosa and Maritime.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Illusive Golden Age 5:49
2. The Living Vault 6:07
3. Carrion Tide 5:03
4. Mater Dolorosa 6:50
5. Maritime 4:31
6. Message Sonore 3:22
7. Parallel Biospheres 4:31
8. Anchorite 8:07

Band members
Patrick Loisel – vocals, guitars
Mathieu Marcotte – guitars
Dominic “Forest” Lapointe – bass
Antoine Baril – drums

Album Review – Altars of Grief / Iris (2018)

Highly influenced by the desolate landscapes and the solitude of long, prairie winters, here comes one of the biggest names in Canadian Blackened Doom with a superb new album narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.

Formed in November 2013 in Regina, the capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, Blackened Doom act Altars of Grief has worked over the years to develop a weighty concoction of Death Metal, Sludge Metal, Funeral Doom and Atmospheric Black Metal along with a strong focus on storytelling and the desire to convey authentic emotion, highly influenced by the desolate landscapes and the solitude of long, prairie winters that inspired the moniker of “Prairie Doom Metal”. After the release of their 2014 debut fill-length album This Shameful Burden, the band returns in full force with the bold and multi-layered Iris, narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter, named Iris.

Featuring a stunning artwork by Travis Smith from Seempieces, brilliantly depicting Iris’ final moments as she kneels before the winter beset church and embraces her fate, and the mesmerizing cello by Raphael Weinroth-Browne (who by the way played cello for Canadian Folk/Melodic Black Metal band Thrawsunblat on their amazing 2016 opus Metachthonia), Iris is not just an album of heavy music, but an amalgamation of emotions that will transport your mind and soul to the desolation of the prairies. “The story of Iris is very much rooted in our prairie surroundings and deals with the struggles of addiction, sickness and religion. A father finds himself unable to connect with and care for his young daughter, Iris, who has fallen seriously ill. Spiraling deeper and deeper into his vices, and feeling rejected by Iris’ new found and unwavering faith, he gets into his car and decides to leave her behind. Somewhere along the icy road, he loses control of his vehicle and perishes. His purgatory is to watch helplessly as Iris slowly succumbs to her illness without him”, comments the band’s lead singer Damian Smith.

Melancholy and grief permeate the air in the opening track Isolation, a masterpiece of darkness led by the strident and somber guitars by Erik Labossiere and Evan Paulson, while Damian obscurely declaims the song’s lyrics through his anguished gnarls, proving why he’s a poet of the underworld. Hence, the music flows majestically until its grand finale, setting the tone for Desolation, where a Stygian atmosphere is suddenly joined by heavy-as-hell riffs and the crushing Black Metal beats by Zack Bellina, also presenting introspective and touching words (“I opened my eyes / To the night sky / The unending storm / Revealed itself before me / Weightless in my resolve / But, still a burden remains / With this final breath / Please, forgive me”). Moreover, it’s simply impressive how Altars of Grief can sound so distinct from one song to another, also bringing forth a perfect balance between harsh growls and deep clean vocals.

The title-track Iris brings forward more of the band’s enfolding musicality, blending the aggressiveness of Atmospheric Black Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal, also presenting very subtle nuances of Melodic Black Metal. In addition, Erik and Evan once again fire a mix of rage and harmony through their flammable strings, enhancing the taste of this very complete and bold composition. Then we have Child of Light, where an epic and melancholic intro evolves into a full-bodied sound, and with Zack together with bassist Donny Pinay building a massive, atmospheric wall of sounds with their instruments, generating the perfect ambience for all vocal styles used by the band; followed by Broken Hymns, another captivating, neck-breaking tune where Raphael is truly outstanding with his cello, adding a marvelous touch of delicacy and melancholy to the overall musicality. In other words, this is a song tailored for closing your eyes and letting the band guide your mind and soul to their dark and mournful world.

And Altars of Grief personify the grievous, obscure voices of the bitterly cold winds of winter in the Atmospheric Black Metal extravaganza titled Voices of Winter, with Damian’s growls being delicately complemented by Raphael’s stunning cello sounds and the whimsical guitars by Erik and Evan, whereas in Becoming Intangible the sound of the cello and the acoustic guitars walk hand in hand in the smoothest way possible before morphing into contemporary extreme music, sounding very atmospheric, gripping and bold until its beyond piercing ending. Zack is once again a beast on drums, not to mention the latent poetry found in the song’s lyrics (“I can barely see the sun / I guess this path was truly flawed / Judgement comes with revelation / And, I’ve never felt so close to God”), flowing into one of the most beautiful outros in underground extreme music, titled Epilogue, performed by Raphael and his always astounding cello.

You can listen to Iris in its entirety on YouTube, follow Altars of Grief on Facebook, and purchase your copy of this masterpiece of the underworld from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore in distinct bundles (Iris CD, Iris CD + Nachtterror / Altars of Grief – Of Ash and Dying Light vinyl split, Iris CD + shirt + patch, and Iris CD + Nachtterror / Altars of Grief vinyl split + shirt + patch), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. If you were not familiar with “Prairie Doom Metal” before listening to Iris, now you have a very good reason to get to know more about such distinct sub-genre of extreme music. But if Altars of Grief are already a recurrent part of your playlist, the emotional story told in Iris will simply make you even more addicted to their desolate and imposing sounds.

Best moments of the album: Isolation, Iris and Broken Hymns.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Isolation 9:19
2. Desolation 6:15
3. Iris 6:20
4. Child of Light 7:02
5. Broken Hymns 8:11
6. Voices of Winter 7:26
7. Becoming Intangible 9:17
8. Epilogue 2:05

Band members
Damian Smith – vocals
Erik Labossiere – guitars, vocals
Evan Paulson – guitars, vocals, programming
Donny Pinay – bass, vocals
Zack Bellina – drums, vocals on “Broken Hymns”

Guest musician
Raphael Weinroth-Browne – cello on “Isolation”, “Child of Light”, “Broken Hymns”, “Voices of Winter” and “Becoming Intangible”, all instruments on “Epilogue”

Album Review – Nervosa / Downfall Of Mankind (2018)

Slam into the pit to another killing hardcore thrashing bulldozer by Brazil’s meanest all-female Thrash Metal commando unit.

After two long years, here they finally are the unrelenting Brazilian all-female Thrash Metal commando unit Nervosa with a brand new and devastating album titled Downfall Of Mankind, delivering their usual raw aggression and untamed power throughout the album’s almost 50 minutes split into 14 compositions (including the limited edition bonus track) of killing hardcore thrash. In addition, the follow-up to their sensational 2016 release Agony marks their first with drummer Luana Dametto (who also plays drums for Brazilian Death Metal squad Apophizys), adding an extra touch of pugnacity to the band’s already heavier-than-hell and faster-than-a-bullet musicality and, therefore, providing lead singer and bassist Fernanda Lira and guitarist Prika Amaral all they need to keep haunting the souls of the lighthearted with their Thrash Metal tempest.

Downfall Of Mankind perfectly captures the live energy and the old school character that defines this São Paulo-based band without neglecting the strengths of a modern, compact soundscape, bringing the most pulverizing and sharp elements from all types of extreme music such as Thrash, Death and Black Metal, but of course always being deeply rooted in our beloved Bay Area Thrash sound. Featuring a demonic artwork by Brazilian artist Hugo Silva (Abracombie Ink), and with guest musicians João Gordo (Ratos de Porão), Rodrigo Oliveira (Korzus) and Michael Gilbert (Flotsam & Jetsam) providing their share of insanity and rage to Nervosa’s music, Downfall Of Mankind is definitely one of those albums that will inspire you to slam into the circle pit and bang your head like a maniac, two of the main goals in our good old Thrash Metal,  becoming a permanent part of your most metallic playlist.

An ominous intro takes us to the demonic realm ruled by Nervosa, who don’t waste a single second and start crushing our skulls with their ruthless Thrash Metal in Horrordome, with newcomer Luana simply demolishing her drums while Fernanda delivers her already classic she-demon gnarls. This berserk tune will surely generate some interesting mosh pits during their live concerts, which is also the case in Never Forget, Never Repeat, sounding even more devilish and pulverizing and showcasing the band’s heavy artillery at its finest. Prika seems to be mastering “the art of the riff”, delivering sheer brutality in a well-balanced fusion of Thrash and Death Metal, all complemented by the song’s utterly austere, old school lyrics (“Tyranny, bigotry / Crimes against humanity / Murder, persecution / Inprisonment subordination / Enough of genocides / Enough of bloodshed / Break this perpetration / Of history’s dark past”). Then toning down a bit their rage but still sounding brutal, the power trio blasts more of their thrashing music with their riffs and beats generating a menacing wall of sounds in Enslave, followed by Bleeding, presenting hints of the contemporary music by Cannibal Corpse (which is obviously a good thing) and with Fernanda taking her growls to a deeper, more hellish level, while Luana proves why she was the perfect choice as their new drummer.

After such level of destruction, get ready for an 80’s-inspired (or I should say old school Metallica-inspired) Thrash Metal attack by those three she-devils titled …And Justice For Whom?, where the unstoppable beats by Luana dictate the rhythm while Prika continues with her shredding onrush. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see them playing this one live. And Fernanda’s rumbling bass ignites a dark, mid-tempo tune beautifully titled Vultures, a good song to break your neck headbanging with Prika once again delivering cutting riffs from start to finish (despite the fact the song could have been a little shorter, though), whereas Kill The Silence brings a classic Nervosa sonority in terms of its pace, riffs and lyrics, led by the slashing guitar lines by Prika while Fernanda keeps growling and gnarling like a beast, therefore keeping the album at a truly high level of aggressiveness. Their sonic insanity goes on in No Mercy, a more rhythmic and groovy circle pit-generator with highlights to the solid job done by Luana on drums, and Raise Your Fist!, a rebellious anthem by Nervosa bringing forward an inspirational intro with historic speeches about freedom, gender equality and equal opportunities for all, such as the timeless one by Martin Luther King, Jr., sounding melodic, violent and electrifying, all at the same time. In other words, let’s all raise our fists up in the air to this insurgent hymn by Nervosa.

Downfall Of Mankind/Limited Edition Digipack CD Fan Package

And Nervosa still have energy left for more devastation, starting with the berserk Fear, Violence And Massacre, blending the most pulverizing elements from Thrash, Death and even Black Metal, with Prika firing an awesome, melodic guitar solo halfway through it, not to mention you’ll definitely feel the urge to scream the words “fear, violence and massacre” together with Fernanda; whereas although Conflict is a decent creation by the girls, it’s a bit too generic compared to the rest of the album. There’s a lot of good stuff in the song, though, such as the incendiary riffs by Prika and its frenzied pace. The last track from the regular version of Downfall Of Mankind is the superb Cultura do Estupro, with the iconic vocalist João Gordo (Ratos de Porão) sharing the vocal duties with Fernanda in the only song of the album entirely sung in Brazilian Portuguese. I really hope João joins Nervosa during some of their live concerts to sing this cataclysmic, acid tune, with Luana sounding simply demented behind her drums. Lastly, as a bonus track to the limited edition version of the album we have Selfish Battle, featuring Rodrigo Oliveira (Korzus) on drums and Michael Gilbert (Flotsam & Jetsam) providing a nice guitar solo in a slightly different version of Nervosa, feeling more like a heavier version of 80’s Hard Rock the likes of Warlock thanks mainly to the high-pitched vocals by Fernanda.

One can never get enough of Nervosa, and if you’re already addicted to their incendiary music go check what they’re up to on Facebook and purchase your copy of Downfall Of Mankind from their own BandCamp page or from several other locations such as the Napalm Records webstore, where you can get the deluxe fan package featuring the limited edition digipack, a cover flag, a patch, leather wriststraps and a tote bag. Also, don’t forget to watch the track by track breakdown of the album by the girls on YouTube (part 1 and part 2), and obviously to keep an eye on their official website and Facebook page for whenever they take your hometown by storm. Downfall Of Mankind once again proves that thrashing like there’s no tomorrow is Nervosa’s business, and they don’t need any guy to make sure that their business continues to be more than good.

Best moments of the album: Horrordome, Never Forget, Never Repeat, …And Justice For Whom? and Cultura do Estupro.

Worst moments of the album: Vultures and Conflict.

Released in 2018 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:12
2. Horrordome 3:17
3. Never Forget, Never Repeat 4:40
4. Enslave 3:15
5. Bleeding 3:47
6. …And Justice For Whom? 3:34
7. Vultures 4:09
8. Kill The Silence 3:29
9. No Mercy 3:40
10. Raise Your Fist! 4:04
11. Fear, Violence And Massacre 3:35
12. Conflict 2:59
13. Cultura do Estupro (feat. João Gordo) 3:10

Limited Edition/Digipak bonus track
14. Selfish Battle (feat. Michael Gilbert & Rodrigo Oliveira) 3:26

Band members
Fernanda Lira – lead vocals, bass
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Luana Dametto – drums

Guest musicians
João Gordo – additional vocals on “Cultura do Estupro”
Michael Gilbert – guitar solo on “Selfish Battle”
Rodrigo Oliveira – drums on “Selfish Battle”

Album Review – Geisterwald / Geisterwald EP (2018)

From the haunted woods of the Swiss city of Geneva, here comes an infernal masked duo armed with their mechanized and uproarious Industrial Metal.

Formed in 2017 in Geneva, a city in Switzerland that lies at the southern tip of Lac Léman, Industrial Metal masked duo Geisterwald is unleashing upon humanity this year their self-titled debut EP, channeling all their passion for heavy music and their musical backgrounds into their newborn spawn. Comprised of Harald Wolken on vocals, guitars and synths and Gaëlle Blumer on drums, and with all of the songs from the album being entirely sung in their mother tongue German, Geisterwald are ready to make an uproarious impact on the underground Industrial Metal scene, with the music found in their debut EP being a fantastic taste of what those two Swiss metallers are capable of when armed with their gas masks and their metallic instruments.

The EP kicks off with an ominous intro sounding as if a beast is rising from a dark and tenebrous pit in the mechanized Alte Körper (which should translate as “old body” if I’m not mistaken), where Gaëlle crushes her drums while Harald alternates between deep, primeval growls and eerie clean vocals, resulting in a heavier-than-hell display of Industrial Metal infused with Neue Deutsche Härte. Just as insane and piercing, Kreuz (or “cross”) presents the duo building an industrialized atmosphere with their menacing sounds, with Gaëlle delivering both traditional metal beats and more factory-like sounds while Harald brings a touch of delicacy and lunacy to the overall music with his synths.

Then get ready for a dark and demented Neue Deutsche Härte extravaganza titled Wolf, sounding and feeling intense, macabre and demented all at once, with its somber guitars and the howl of a wolf being the details that make it so compelling and vibrant. Furthermore, Harald’s vocals feel truly demonic amidst the thunderous sound of the drums by Gaëlle, showcasing the amazing synchronicity between them. And the last blast of modern metal music by this infernal duo of masked marauders comes in the form of old school Industrial Metal the likes of Ministry and Rammstein, titled Schlag Stärker (which means something like “hit harder”). Simply bang your head nonstop to such heavy tune, where we’re able to enjoy a merciless Gaëlle on drums while Harald does what he knows best, which is growling deeply and in the most enraged way possible.

Whatever comes next for this talented duo is probably going to be even more insane and destructive than their debut EP, and while we wait for more top-tier Industrial Metal made in Switzerland let’s all go check what Geisterwald (which by the way is a wordplay in German for “ghost forest” or “haunted woods”) are up to on Facebook, including the dates for their wicked live performances, listen to their music on SoundCloud, and purchase a copy of their debut EP from BandCamp, from Big Cartel or from Amazon. As a matter of fact, I guess you wouldn’t mind getting lost in the haunted woods of Geneva and face the industrialized roars by Geisterwald, would you?

Best moments of the album: Schlag Stärker.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Intro 1:01
2. Alte Körper 3:20
3. Kreuz 3:33
4. Wolf 3:21
5. Schlag Stärker 4:20

Band members
Harald Wolken – vocals, synths
Gaëlle Blumer – drums

Album Review – Malefic By Design / Definitive Indication of Supremacy (2018)

Behold a band of underground veterans from Finland and their deadly debut full-length strike, a pulverizing opus that will summon you to a claustrophobic journey through blazing Armageddon.

Founded in 2015 in the city of Turku, Finland by underground metal veterans Mika Ikonen on vocals, Ville Pekkala, Sasu Haapanen and Miska Lehtivuori on the guitars and Antti Hakkala on drums (and if you haven’t noticed yet, there’s no bass player in their current lineup), who by the way have already released several previous efforts through multiple bands such as Searing Meadow, Ablaze In Hatred, Fall of the Leafe, Mormânt De Snagov and Devastracktor, Blackened Death Metal beast Malefic By Design has just released their deadly debut full-length strike, titled Definitive Indication of Supremacy, a pulverizing collection of catchy choruses and incendiary melodies that will certainly please all fans of modern extreme music.

Recorded in quiet solitude and far away from the public eye, Definitive Indication of Supremacy thoroughly blends the band’s Death Metal core essence with nuances from other styles such as Black and Doom Metal, summoning you to a sinister and claustrophobic journey through blazing Armageddon surrounded by a somber and devilish atmosphere.  The dark and primeval cover art is a good indication of what you’re going to face as soon as you hit play and start listening to the 12 Stygian tracks from Definitive Indication of Supremacy, showing Malefic By Design are among us to spread evil, hate and blasphemy. What else can you ask for in first-class Blackened Death Metal, right?

 The atmospheric and eerie intro Descending Sirens Of Evil opens the gates of the underworld to the demolishing Sickness Of Christ, a heavy and obscure Blackened Death Metal hymn with Mika delivering disturbing, deep growls while Antti dictates the rhythm with his precise beats. Then it’s time for almost seven minutes of pulverizing sounds and tones in Impending Doom, bringing together the most demonic elements of Black and Death Metal, with the band’s guitarists blasting a “melodic hell” with their strings; and the band goes full Black Metal in the visceral and brutal Enslaved By Birth, where Mika sounds more demented than before while Ville, Sasu and Miska bring forth another feast of satanic riffs and solos, resulting in one of the most complete (and therefore best) moments of the album.

Leaning towards traditional Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal, the band fires harmonious and visceral lines in the mid-tempo composition titled Repress The Oblivious, being beyond perfect for headbanging like a true disciple of darkness, whereas in Frozen Phantoms an ominous acoustic intro morphs into another explosion of blackened music by Malefic By Design, with the whole band being in some sort of demonic sync led by the boisterous drums by Antti, with Mika’s growls getting deeper and deeper as the music progresses. And Salvation For Everyone showcases hints of Symphonic Black Metal before reaching a frantic and heavy pace spearheaded by the once again furious drums by Antti, all embraced by a sinister background full of uncanny keyboard notes and sheer heaviness.

Medieval Beliefs is an old school Black and Death Metal creation tailored for succumbing to the dark side and snapping your neck headbanging, with the band’s stringed trio firing more of their diabolical riffs, creating an instant connection with the also very melodic Counterstrike Despise, also closer to more modern Melodic Death Metal while maintaining a vile aura in the background. Furthermore, Mika and his sick gnarls make a good balance with the delicate but fierce riffs by Ville, Sasu and Miska, which is also the case in Regenerated Reflections, an eerie fusion of contemporary Death Metal with traditional waltz (if that makes sense to you), also presenting elements from Doom and Dark Metal, and that amalgamation of styles results in a bold and thrilling chant with highlights to its beyond eccentric and obscure vocal lines. Then an enfolding atmosphere builds the stage for the heavy, mid-tempo Black Metal tune At The Gates, which despite being a good song it’s below the rest of the album in terms of electricity, falling flat after a while, fading into the acoustic outro Satanic Harmony, an interesting way to “depressurize” from all the madness blasted during the entire album.

In summary, Definitive Indication of Supremacy, which is available for a full listen on Spotify and for purchase through several channels such as the More Hate Productions’ BandCamp, Keltainen Jäänsärkijä, Record Shop X, iTunes, Amazon and Discogs, not only brings top-tier Blackened Death Metal to your avid ears from start to finish, but it also positions Malefic By Design as one of the strongest new names in contemporary Scandinavian extreme music. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how impactful their debut album will be on Finnish territory as well as worldwide, and when we’ll be able to savor more of the band’s pugnacious malignancy in the form of a new album.

Best moments of the album: Enslaved By Birth, Salvation For Everyone and Regenerated Reflections.

Worst moments of the album: At The Gates.

Released in 2018 More Hate Productions

Track listing
1. Descending Sirens Of Evil (Instrumental) 1:58
2. Sickness Of Christ 3:46
3. Impending Doom 6:39
4. Enslaved By Birth 3:11
5. Repress The Oblivious 4:17
6. Frozen Phantoms 3:58
7. Salvation For Everyone 4:23
8. Medieval Beliefs 4:00
9. Counterstrike Despise 4:23
10. Regenerated Reflections 6:11
11. At The Gates 6:41
12. Satanic Harmony (Instrumental) 1:44

Band members
Mika Ikonen – vocals
Ville Pekkala – guitars
Sasu Haapanen – guitars, vocals
Miska Lehtivuori – guitars, vocals
Antti Hakkala – drums

Album Review – Godsmack / When Legends Rise (2018)

A rollercoaster of good and bad moments in the band’s first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound.

Almost four years after the release of the incendiary 1000hp, American Alternative Rock/Metal icons Godsmack are back in action with When Legends Rise, the seventh studio album in their solid career, and their first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound. And when I say “exaggeratedly radio-friendly” I’m not exaggerating (not sure if I’m allowed to use that word and its variations so many times in just a couple of lines), because not only When Legends Rise doesn’t bring the same horsepower, rage and heaviness of 1000hp, but it sounds and feels way too mellow and generic compared to everything they’ve already released since their inception.

As early as 2015, frontman and guitarist Sully Erna spoke of his will to create a new sound for Godsmack in their next album, later describing the album in 2017 as a “reinvention” for the band, as a “new chapter” juxtaposed against older albums, of which he described as “vintage classic Godsmack”. Let’s say he succeeded and failed miserably at the same time, because it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of the band or if you’ve never heard of them before, as soon as you finish listening to the 11 tracks in When Legends Rise you won’t be able to tell if it was a good or bad experience so many highs and lows the entire album has. As a matter of fact, I guess if you follow Godsmack from the very beginning, the lowest moments of the album will make you feel extremely disappointed with this “new direction” chosen by Sully and his henchmen.

The tribal-like beats by Shannon Larkin kick off the best and most metal song of the entire album, the title-track When Legends Rise, which despite not being a masterpiece, it’s indeed a catchy and entertaining song led by the unique vocals by Sully, sounding as radio-friendly as the band wants but still bringing some of their old school aggressiveness. Then we have Bulletproof (if you’re a regular radio listener you might have heard it a billion times already), which is not that bad but with potential to be a lot better (and by that I mean heavier), with bassist Robbie Merrill doing a very good job in keeping the atmosphere dense and rumbling; followed by Unforgettable, probably the cheesiest song ever written by Godsmack, sounding way too happy for my taste and with the support choir by The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir being plain boring. Well, as I’ve mentioned a thousand times in this webzine, I hate generic choirs.

Every Part of Me presents hints of the sounding from their early days, especially through the melodious guitar lines by Tony Rombola, resulting in a very decent song that reminds us all of the potential Godsmack is throwing away by trying to sound more mainstream than they should, while Take It to the Edge sounds quite similar to its predecessor, but with heavier and more piercing guitar and bass lines. Furthermore, it’s good to hear Sully screaming and sounding a little angrier, and albeit this is not their classic Alternative Metal it can be considered something like a well-crafted version of modern-day Hard Rock. After that interesting sequence of heavy tunes the band offers us the ballad Under Your Scars, and although I’ve complained about almost every song so far I must admit this is indeed a good one, mainly due to the beautiful job done by guest violinist Zvezdelina Haltakova and guest cellist Irina Chirkova. And in Someday, after a not-so-exciting start the music evolves to a harder but still generic sonority that goes on for too long, ruining what could have been a good Hard Rock song. In addition, a weak song such as this would have benefited a lot from a guitar solo, something the whole album lacks by the way, and something that really started to bother me after a few listens.

And the “genericism” found in When Legends Rise goes on in Just One Time, even with Robbie and Shannon bringing some decent groove to the music, saving it from being a total failure. Then we have the excellent Say My Name, proving that when Sully and his crew speed up their pace and deliver stronger, more austere lyrics, they sound a billion times better. Hence, together with the opening track, this is by far one of the best songs of the album, presenting flammable Rock N’ Roll guitar riffs and rhythmic beats, which unfortunately cannot be said about Let It Out, another so-so creation alternating between heavier moments and very bland passages. It might once again sound good on the radio for the average listener, but definitely not for Rock N’ Roll fans, with the biggest issue for me being that the sound of both guitars is really low, or even worse, almost nonexistent. Furthermore, what’s also very irritating in the entire album is that there are moments like the closing song Eye of the Storm where a very promising start morphs into tasteless rock music; however, the more aggressive pieces of the song save it from total damnation, not to mention that we finally have a guitar solo added to it.

In the end, after When Legends Rise (available for a full listen on Spotify), we have to agree with this article from the online publication The Top Tens listing Godsmack as one of the top 10 bands that aren’t metal according to Encyclopaedia Metallum, together with names such as Avenged Sevelfold, Disturbed, Korn and Rage Against The Machine, but at least those bands still deliver a significant amount of rage and rebelliousness through their music, as opposed to what Godsmack (unfortunately) did in their new album. And if that toned-down version of Hard Rock is the direction Sully Erna really wants to take from now on with his band to reach a “broader audience”, well, good luck with that. I’ll personally stick to their more vibrant material from Godsmack, Awake and 1000hp.

Best moments of the album: When Legends Rise, Take It to the Edge and Say My Name.

Worst moments of the album: Bulletproof, Unforgettable, Someday and Let It Out.

Released in 2018 Universal Music

Track listing
1. When Legends Rise 2:52
2. Bulletproof 2:57
3. Unforgettable 3:28
4. Every Part of Me 3:20
5. Take It to the Edge 3:15
6. Under Your Scars 3:51
7. Someday 4:44
8. Just One Time 3:09
9. Say My Name 3:38
10. Let It Out 3:41
11. Eye of the Storm 3:21

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

Guest musicians
Zvezdelina Haltakova – violin on “Under Your Scars”
Irina Chirkova – cello on “Under Your Scars”
The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir – additional vocals on “Unforgettable”

Album Review – The Black Swamp / Witches EP (2018)

Australia’s own five-headed creature from the swamp is back with a short and slimy album of Sludge and Southern Metal that celebrates the riff-driven sound they’ve become known for.

For the love of the riff, Australian Southern/Groove Metal group The Black Swamp was formed as a live act in 2012 in the Gold Coast, in South East Queensland, soon evolving to a full-bodied band and releasing their debut EP Foulness in 2014, followed by the full-length I Am, in 2016, not to mention a handful of unofficial releases on their way to support slots with Hellyeah, Black Label Society and Sebastian Bach, as well as their own national tours. Always playing a sludge sound reminiscent of the 70’s and 90’s, “the swamp” is back in 2018 with a short and slimy EP titled Witches, a celebration of the riff-driven sound they’ve become known for, also marking their first release with new frontman Luke Hosking (from Australian Groove/Thrash Metal band Azreal). Hence, the quintet comprised of Luke on vocals, Grant Scott and Jesse Kenny on the guitars, Rohan Downs on bass and Brendan Woodley on drums again focuses their energy and creativity on raw sounds, highly inspired by Heavy Metal pioneers Black Sabbath and Doom/Sludge Metal masters Crowbar.

And “the swamp” needs only a few seconds to blow our ears with their ruthless and heavy-as-hell Stoner Metal in the opening track Headless, with Luke delivering sheer rage through his Phil Anselmo-inspired deep, crude vocals, while Grant and Jesse are simply bestial with their crushing riffs. If that’s not heavy enough for you, just keep banging your head nonstop to another soulful and aggressive Sludge Metal creation by The Black Swamp, named Event Horizon, where the bass lines by Rohan feel like if he was rubbing metal to metal so piercing and thunderous they sound. Put differently, this is a drinking-smoking-slamming-headbanging tune, bringing a classic rhtythm tailored for lovers of the genre. Then we have 1487 C.E., a short and serene bridge that sets the stage for to the demolishing title-track Witches, showcasing the heaviest and most whimsical elements found in Sludge, Stoner and Doom Metal, with Brendan pounding his drums mercilessly while Luke continues his musical rant à la Pantera, not to mention the always crisp and furious riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

In a nutshell, it’s quite impressive the amount of heaviness and rage found in each one of the four tracks of the EP in a littles less than 17 minutes, proving The Black Swamp are not joking around when displaying their admiration and passion for Sludge and Doom Metal. If you want to show your support for this resonant quintet, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and buy your copy of Witches (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) directly from The Black Swamp’s BandCamp page, as well as from iTunes or from CD Baby. After this brief “attack” by Australia’s own five-headed creature from the swamp, I’m sure you’ll get curious to know what comes next in their career, getting more and more addicted to their sluggish, vile and totally awesome music.

Best moments of the album: Headless and Witches.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Headless 4:32
2. Event Horizon 6:46
3. 1487 C.E. 1:00
4. Witches 4:13

Band members
Luke Hosking – vocals
Grant Scott – guitar
Jesse Kenny – guitar
Rohan Downs – bass
Brendan Woodley – drums