The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014

“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!” – Aleister Crowley, Moonchild

It’s with these inspiring words found in the occult novel Moonchild, written by British occultist, poet and novelist Aleister Crowley in 1917, that The Headbanging Moose reaches another year end. Well, not before celebrating heavy music, which is the essence of this webzine, right? In order to honour all metal bands and musicians who made our year a lot more fun, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014, excluding of course EP’s, best of and live albums. Party on, dudes!

Redeemer-of-souls-album-cover-art-12801. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are finally back with another marvellous sonic storm forged in the fires of pure Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Halls Of Valhalla

Primalfeardeliveringtheblack20142. Primal Fear – Delivering the Black (REVIEW)
Primal Fear once again deliver the awesome with their tenth studio album, their best since Seven Seals.
Best song of the album: King For A Day

Triptykon-Melana-Chasmata3. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (REVIEW)
One of the most expected albums of 2014 is a beautiful mix of Gothic, Black and especially Doom Metal as grandiose as they can be.
Best song of the album: Boleskine House

ExodusBloodInBloodOut4. Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out (REVIEW)
American Thrash Metal masters deliver us another great lesson in Thrash Metal. Welcome back to the family, Zetro!
Best song of the album: Blood In, Blood Out

Cover5. Axel Rudi Pell – Into the Storm (REVIEW)
A fantastic “storm” of heavy riffs and solos by one of the best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal guitar players from Germany.
Best song of the album: Burning Chains

accept-blind rage6. Accept – Blind Rage (REVIEW)
And we salute Accept for another wonderful metal album, the third installment in this new amazing Accept-era.
Best song of the album: Dying Breed

ESCAPETOR - Fear cover art7. Escapetor – Fear (REVIEW)
A serious contender for “Thrash Metal Album of the Year”, as heavy, invigorating and awesome as it can be.
Best song of the album: The Queen

vandenplas_chronicles8. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld (REVIEW)
Get ready for an amazing journey in this new Rock Opera Album.
Best song of the album: The King and the Children of Lost World

godsmack_1000hp9. Godsmack – 1000hp (REVIEW)
Lots of horsepower, groove, great riffs and strong vocal lines are just some of the things you’ll find in this amazing rock album.
Best song of the album: 1000hp

10. Phantom – …Of Gods and Men (REVIEW)
With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.
Best song of the album: Blood & Iron

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

11. Behemoth – The Satanist (REVIEW)
12. Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain (REVIEW)
13. Humbucker – King of the World (REVIEW)
14. Insomnium – Shadows Of The Dying Sun (REVIEW)
15. Crucified Barbara – In The Red (REVIEW)
16. Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead (REVIEW)
17. Motorjesus – Electric Revelation (REVIEW)
18. Lordi – Scare Force One (REVIEW)
19. Dimenzion:Psychosphere – Collapse (REVIEW)
20. Anti-Mortem – New Southern (REVIEW)

One of our recent reviews mentioned the law of conservation of mass by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, which states that “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.”  With that said, why not innovating a little and listing the Top 10 Cover Songs of 2014? Because in the end it’s metal bands working towards the conservation of heavy music. Let me tell you all those cover versions are amazing, but the first two go beyond that, they’re just perfect.

1. Axel Rudi Pell – Hey Hey My My (Neil Young cover)
2. Escapetor – Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
3. Iron Savior – Dance With Somebody (Mando Diao cover)
4. Van Canto – The Final Countdown (Europe cover)
5. Ektomorf – I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover)
6. Anti-Mortem – A Little Too Loose (Mr. Big Cover)
7. Endzeit – The Dawn No More Rises (Dark Funeral cover)
8. Axel Rudi Pell – Way to Mandalay (Blackmore’s Night cover)
9. Humbucker – Wine, Women An’ Song (Whitesnake cover)
10. Exodus – Angel Of Death (Angel Witch cover)

Also, in 2014 we were able to witness so many impressive releases from new and not so new independent bands (or at least not signed to major record labels) such as Orisonata, SouLost, GoatchristValknacht, Ann My Guard, Septekh, Way Of Changes, Henriette BMisanthrope Monarch, Witches Of Doom, Phobiatic, Prayed and Betrayed, Temple Of Void, Maahlas, Laugh At The Fakes, Lelahell, Diablery, Humbucker, Phantom, No Sin Evades His Gaze, Endzeit, among tons of other awesome bands and artists, it’s hard to name just a few. They’re indeed a huge slap to the face of those idiots who keep saying heavy music is dead and gone. Just Google those bands or search for them here at The Headbanging Moose and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some of them even made it to the top10/20 list, as you can see.

You can check The Headbanging Moose’s playlist Top 10 Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Albums of 2014 @ Songza, with the best songs from each band of the list above, as well as amazing songs from lots of independent bands who rocked the world in 2014. And, of course, do not forget to listen to the weekly episodes of The Metal Moose Show by the Metal Moose Radio. Support you local bands… AND FOLLOW THE MOOSE!

And last but not least, before the Headbanging Moose goes into “hibernation” until the beginning of 2015, I’ll leave you guys with a song that’s way better than any of that Christmas garbage shoved down our throats every fuckin’ year. This song says it all.

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2015!

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Album Review – Way Of Changes / Honesty EP (2014)

A truly honest and professional release by a brand new Metalcore band from Switzerland.

Rating5

digipak4Panel-DW.aiAs the last review for 2014, the Headbanging Moose offers you a really nice EP entitled Honesty, by Swiss Metalcore band Way Of Changes. The band started to take shape in June 2013, when drummer Quentin Gobalet, who was searching for musicians to play Metalcore, found guitarists Théo Dikötter and Eliot Colomb. Then in the beginning of 2014, already with bassist Maxime Dessauges, they finally found a singer for the band, Simon Phildius, releasing their first song “In & Out” in September 2014 before finally releasing the Honesty EP in November 2014.

Inspired by bands such as August Burns Red, Parkway Drive and Bury Tomorrow, this five-piece Metalcore group from Switzerland has as their main goal crafting catchy and powerful heavy music, and based on what can be seen in this EP they succeeded in their first attempt. In addition, perhaps the most unique detail amidst all the traditional and polished Metalcore riffs and beats found in the music by Way Of Changes are the vocals by Simon, deeper and more devilish than usual, getting even closer to traditional Death or Black Metal, and that adds a lot of potency to their music.

The EP “takes off” with an atmospheric intro named (guess what?) Take Off, followed by the heavy Mistakes and its 100% Metalcore instrumental, very melodic and modern as expected, with riffs and drums synced to provide harmony to the music and, as aforementioned, the eerie voice by Simon adding to it a fresh and dark taste. Counting Seconds sounds inspired by Swedish Melodic Death Metal blended with the sonority of American Metalcore, turning it into an interesting headbanging song with highlights to the excellent job done by Théo Dikötter and Eliot Colomb on the guitars.

way of changesAnd Way Of Changes keep delivering good and dense music in Dream Awake: by the time you reach this song, you’ll realize those guys prefer focusing on heavier tunes rather than faster songs, no doubt about that. Then we have the band’s “first-born child”, In & Out, a little faster than the other tracks with an interesting riff in the background while drummer Quentin keeps guiding the song, with the vocal lines by Simon being once again as deep as possible.

Closing the EP we have Cuckoo, which right after a smooth intro turns into into pure heaviness with harsh and clean vocals working pretty well together. Its heavy riffs after two and a half minutes are tailored for some brutal headbanging, and if you’re a longtime fan of Metalcore this part of the song will definitely catch your attention.

While this promising band is working on new material, you can visit their Facebook page to like their music, check where in Switzerland they’re playing live, and of course purchase their music at their official webstore or at CD Baby. As the name of the EP says, Way Of Changes are a very honest and professional band, and they have what it takes to be successful in the years to come in the world of Metalcore.

Best moments of the album: Counting Seconds and In & Out.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Take Off 1:23
2. Mistakes 4:19
3. Counting Seconds 4:11
4. Dream Awake 4:41
5. In & Out 3:39
6. Cuckoo 4:53

Band members
Simon Phildius – vocals
Théo Dikötter – guitar, vocals
Eliot Colomb – guitar, vocals
Maxime Dessauges – bass
Quentin Gobalet – drums

Album Review – In Torment / Sphere Of Metaphysical Incarnations (2014)

Surrender to the power of the “sphere” of extreme metal by one of the best Death Metal bands from Brazil.

Rating4

1 - coverDon’t you just love when behind massive amounts of savagery there’s a very solid and appealing storyline? That makes the whole experience of listening to an extreme metal band even better, which is exactly the case with Brazilian Technical/Brutal Death Metal band In Torment and their brand new concept album, the sonic carnage entitled Sphere Of Metaphysical Incarnations. Talking about the birth of a new god and a conscious sphere of energy becoming a living organism, this album simply kicks ass.

Forged in 1997 under the name of Torment in the city of São Leopoldo, in the south of Brasil, In Torment’s musicality can be compared to Death Metal icons such as Brazilian countrymen Krisiun or American behemoths Cannibal Corpse, mainly due to the refined technique of each band member. Not only that, lead singer Alex Zuchi is also a writer, having already released a romance entitled “A Transcedência da Carne”, or “The Transcendence of the Flesh” in English. In addition, take a look at the very detailed album booklet and you’ll also find very interesting quotes by Henry Bergson, Carl Jung and Oscar Wilde. Do I need to say more?

However, as we’re here to talk about Death Metal, it’s when the music starts that things reach another level, with the violent blast beats, riffs and solos found in the opening track, The Unnatural Conception, being boosted by the demonic vocals by Alex Zuchi. This is one hundred percent what Death Metal music needs to be good, don’t you agree? In the following track, Divine Universal Awareness, In Torment continue with their feast of violence accompanied by a truly interesting storyline as you can notice in the lyrics (“Exploring the mysteries of the universe / The mutual hatred keeps feeding me / As the conversion riddle is exposed”). Moreover, despite being so barbaric, the instrumental is so technical it gets even progressive sometimes.

Drummer Dio (who has just left the band, being replaced by Cássio Canto) dictates the devastation in Into Abyssal Landscapes with his nonstop drumming and sick breaks, with the guitars by Alexandre Graessler and Rafael Giovanoli offering the listener some polished but very aggressive riffs, followed by The Threshold (Transcending the Matter), with its interesting narration as an intro and Alex Zuchi showcasing a wider vocal range in this song, “abandoning” his characteristic deep guttural for some harsher screams in parts of it. And let’s not forget the beautiful solo by Rafael Giovanoli, which makes the whole song even more exciting.

6-7The title-track, Sphere of Metaphysical Incarnations, slows things down a little, albeit it’s heavier than all previous tracks due to the nice job done on guitars again. Also, the most interesting detail in this song is that it tells us what or who the sphere really is, keeping us all avid for more of the “sphere”. The next track, Far Beyond Mortality, is a very exciting tune with lots of variations thanks to its intense drumming, with highlights to its always-evolving lyrics (“The sphere grows as a living entity / Guided by a single mind”).

Mechanisms of Domination, a little more modern than all previous tracks (especially its riffs), is pure headbanging and slamming until the end with the band showing no mercy for our necks and bodies, followed by one of the shortest songs of the album, the awesome The Extinction Process. The name of the song says it all: it’s everything a hardcore Death Metal fan wants, with sheer brutality converted into music by outstanding musicians. And finally, closing the album we have the very technical instrumental track Beholding the Everlasting, another good example of how those guys master their instruments.

What are you waiting for to surrender to the power of the “sphere”? Show all your support to this incredible band by visiting their official Facebook page, buying their music and attending their concerts. While the sphere becomes a living organism, In Torment become one of the best extreme bands in the history of Brazilian metal and are ready to conquer the entire world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: The Unnatural Conception, Far Beyond Mortality and The Extinction Process.

Worst moments of the album: Mechanisms of Domination.

Released in 2014 Rapture Records

Track listing
1. The Unnatural Conception 3:51
2. Divine Universal Awareness 3:14
3. Into Abyssal Landscapes 4:14
4. The Threshold (Transcending the Matter) 3:47
5. Sphere of Metaphysical Incarnations 5:44
6. Far Beyond Mortality 4:00
7. Mechanisms of Domination 3:38
8. The Extinction Process 2:48
9. Beholding the Everlasting 2:40

Band members
Alex Zuchi – vocals
Alexandre Graessler – guitars
Rafael Giovanoli – guitars
Bruno Fogaça – bass
Dio – drums*

*Dio has recently left the band to focus on his personal projects, being replaced by Cássio Canto. 

Album Review – Autere / Amal’l (2014)

Melodic and professional metal music directly from Finland to inspire you for some good headbanging and mosh pits.

Rating5

Autere_-_Amall_coverAfter 12 years of existence, including a few demos, one EP, some significant lineup changes and about 100 live performances, Finnish Melodic Death/Groove Metal band Autere is finally releasing their first full-length album, entitled Amal’l, a very modern metal album that was definitely worth the entire wait, especially if you are a fan of the heavy riffs and huge doses of melody and energy found in Melodic Death Metal.

As you will notice while listening to this album, this five-piece metal band from Turku, Finland already has some considerable experience in the world of heavy music, with each member being part of other bands such as Trespassenger, Damnesty, Black Sleep and Jacks Over Kings. Add to this strong music background a very professional production and you’ll see why Amal’l sounds so solid compared to the debut albums from many other metal bands.

With vocals à la Pantera (“BUUURRRN!”), the headbanging tune Burn opens the album as the band’s “business card”, being so heavy even its melodic but not too mellow clean vocals keep up with the song’s ferocity, while in the more rhythmic and intense Circle Of Kinetic Damage, with its technical riffs and strong chorus, the influence by Arch Enemy and other Swedish Melodic Death Metal bands is noticeable. Besides, songs like this one show us why the band has been playing live concerts together for so long, as it has a great level of energy to entertain most types of metalheads.

autere_promo1The more modern Redeemers gets closer to American Metalcore, with its harsh and clean vocals making an interesting combination full of harmony, while Lines visibly focuses on its riffs as the base of the entire song, with its harsh vocals and nice guitar solo at the end intensifying the overall result. In the following track, Horizon, Autere get back to a Pantera-ish sonority, with highlights to its breaks and melody and to drummer Tatu Turunen for being so precise with his drum set.

Carbon showcases a faster and more violent side of the band, sounding even more “Americanized” but without losing that harmonious European punch, with its chorus being really catchy and entertaining, while in Bloodlands the band’s headbanging machine keeps working at full power, with guitarists Joona Alamäki and Petri Huhtala kicking ass with their riffs. And there are still two more songs to go: Veils Of Faith keeps the momentum going with its nice flow accompanied by the vocal lines by Anssi Rissa, ending in a very strong way; and Allies, slower than all other songs and with a heavy focus on its main riff, gets a little tiring after two minutes, albeit not being a boring song at all.

In summary, Amal’l, which can be purchased at the online Inverse Store, is a straightforward album directly from the land of ice and snow that will satisfy your craving for melodic metal music, and will surely inspire you for some good headbanging and mosh pits.

Best moments of the album: Circle Of Kinetic Damage, Horizon and Carbon.

Worst moments of the album: Lines and Allies.

Released in 2014 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Burn 3:26
2. Circle Of Kinetic Damage 4:15
3. Redeemers 3:41
4. Lines 3:44
5. Horizon 4:20
6. Carbon 3:43
7. Bloodlands 3:24
8. Veils Of Faith 3:03
9. Allies 4:18

Band members
Anssi Rissa – vocals
Joona Alamäki – guitars
Petri Huhtala – guitars
Markus Virtanen – bass
Tatu Turunen – drums

Album Review – AC/DC / Rock or Bust (2014)

The shortest and one of the least inspired albums by the greatest Hard Rock band of all time.

Rating6

acdc-rock-or-bust-artworkFinally, here we are with the brand new studio album by Australian Hard Rock icons AC/DC, entitled Rock or Bust, the first since the superb Black Ice (2008) and the shortest studio album ever released by the band, even shorter than Flick of the Switch (1983). Not only that, it is their first release without founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who left the band in 2014 for health reasons (he was officially diagnosed with dementia), being replaced by his nephew Stevie Young, and there are also the issues drummer Phil Rudd is still facing with the law accused for procuring the murder of two men and possession of illegal drugs.

However, if there’s a clear surplus of non-music material in Rock or Bust, unfortunately there’s a significant shortfall of Rock N’ Roll itself. I’m not saying Rock or Bust is garbage, but it’s a billion light-years away from what this incredible band is capable of doing. When the other members of AC/DC said all their issues with Malcolm and Phil wouldn’t prevent them from releasing this album and going on a world tour, it makes me wonder if Rock or Bust was just released as an excuse to make tons of money playing their same old classics in sold-out arenas worldwide. I hope not, but that’s the impression I got after listening to this middling album.

When the opening song of the album begins, the title-track Rock or Bust, you need just one note to recognize it’s AC/DC. Moreover, albeit being less inspired than most of their songs from their latest records, its 100% AC/DC chorus (“In rock we trust / It’s rock or bust”) and of course the “magic” crafted by Angus Young help making it an enjoyable track. Pretty much the same can be said about the good Play Ball and its catchy and traditional rhythm, and it would have been so much more fun if AC/DC were selected to play this song during the  halftime show on the next Super Bowl instead of the beautiful but extremely tedious Katy Perry.

Rock the Blues Away is a very generic song, especially its riffs: we’ve listened to the same stuff a billion times before, but at least there was more inspiration and energy in older songs. Anyway, I believe hardcore fans will love it mainly due to its lyrics. Miss Adventure sounds a little different than usual, with its bass lines being a lot more audible (it looks like this is a worldwide trend in music), and despite its lyrics being too repetitive that doesn’t affect the song negatively. In the average Dogs of War, the intro is one of those things fans will truly love to see live, but unfortunately after that the song gets back to the same “I’ve seen it before” level from the previous tracks.

acdcGot Some Rock & Roll Thunder is another very traditional track, but this time a lot more consistent and exciting, and again the riffs and solos by Angus are always so good and soulful it’s impossible not to get thrilled with his performance. On the other hand, I really don’t know what to say about Hard Times except that it is very repetitive and tiring, with even Brian Johnson’s voice sounding totally flavorless. At least the faster and more melodic Baptism by Fire lives up to the band’s tradition in Hard Rock. It’s not a classic, but a lot better than almost all songs in this album, with highlights to its sing-along lyrics and a great performance by the duo Brian/Angus.

The last part of the album is so flat and mediocre you will probably skip all those songs and get back to the start: Rock the House intends to be a Rock N’ Roll pub song, but it’s again too generic and its chorus lacks that amazing punch AC/DC usually provide us, while Sweet Candy (what a boring name for an AC/DC song, by the way) is totally disposable in its 3 minutes of pure repetitiousness. Not even Angus was capable of saving this song from being a total disaster. Lastly, I got really excited with the first five seconds of Emission Control, but then one more time it all went back to boredom with really lazy riffs, drums, vocals and everything else. And when this song is over, you feel there’s something missing in Rock or Bust, and that’s real Rock N’ Roll.

Before you come screaming at me things like “Hey, but that’s AC/DC! They don’t need to change to be awesome!”, let me tell you that I agree 100% with that. More of the same can be amazing, just take a listen at Motörhead’s Aftershock, one of the most badass and incredible albums of 2013, or even to AC/DC’s previous installment, Black Ice, where there isn’t a single song that is not worth listening to so epic that album is. The main issue in Rock or Bust is the total lack of electricity, that special element which makes AC/DC so fuckin’ awesome even playing the exact same type of music for over 40 years. They still rock, especially live, but this album is definitely a “bust”.

Best moments of the album: Play Ball, Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder and Baptism by Fire.

Worst moments of the album: Hard Times, Rock the House and Sweet Candy.

Released in 2014 Albert/Columbia

Track listing
1. Rock or Bust 3:04
2. Play Ball 2:47
3. Rock the Blues Away 3:24
4. Miss Adventure 2:57
5. Dogs of War 3:35
6. Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder 3:22
7. Hard Times 2:44
8. Baptism by Fire 3:30
9. Rock the House 2:42
10. Sweet Candy 3:09
11. Emission Control 3:41

Band members
Brian Johnson – lead vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar, backing vocals on “Dogs of War”
Stevie Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals
Phil Rudd – drums, percussion

Album Review – Goatchrist / She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror (2014)

Fans of extreme music, behold the rise of this extremely talented and obscure Black Metal band.

Rating5

goatchrist-coverHailing from Wakefield/Halifax, in the UK, comes Blackened Death Metal band Goatchrist, a group that despite having started as a one man band is now coming together as a full band, re-releasing their debut demo album from earlier 2014, She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror. And I don’t know if this album should be called only a “demo”, so professional and consistent it is compared to many other more experienced Black Metal bands. In other words, why not treating it with a little more respect as a full-length album already?

And it really deserves to be considered as such, especially if you take into account the fact vocalist/guitarist Dominator Xul’Ahabra was just 16 years old and when he was the sole band member. Not only this means it’s an awesome opportunity to enjoy the creations of a musician at the very beginning of his career, but also a chance to acknowledge his amazing talent for crafting extreme music in a way lots of veterans are not capable of even after so many years on the road. But don’t worry, Dominator and his “herd” stay true to the foundations of extreme metal, keeping an enormous distance from any type of commercial or pop stuff.

A smooth piano intro helps set the atmosphere for Through Flames, We Invoke Him (awesome song name, by the way), with its very dark and dense Black/Doom Metal musicality enhanced by the desperate vocals by Dominator, followed by the even rawer Catacombs, with more intense drums by Kaahl and riffs by Dominator and a melancholic break with an interesting duo of guitar and bass lines before an apocalyptic ending. This song can be really disturbing for non-fans of Black Metal, I should say.

goatchrist-logoAnd the derangement goes on with The Four Horsemen, another very decent and solid dark tune with harsh vocals again conducting the havoc, with the addition of some keyboard notes to lighten up a little the overall result. Then we have Bloodletting, Part 1, an intro to the title-track focusing on some interesting guitar lines, followed of course by the title-track, She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror, a demonic and atmospheric track where harsh vocals blend really well with traditional Black Metal instrumental, with highlights to bass and drums for being really strong and in total sync.

There’s still a lot more to come, beginning with a 3-minute fuckin’ violent massacre entitled Fatal Equinox (Perpetual Resplendence), a very professional cover version of one of the songs by Brazilian Black/Death Metal band Goatpenis. The next song is another intro, Bloodletting, Part 2, this time more atmospheric due to its organ and keyboard notes, “opening the gates” for the awesome Inferno. How do you think a song called “Inferno” would sound like? It’s truly infernal, with drummer Kaahl violently pounding his drums and Dominator delivering some dark riffs and solos while he screams like hell during the entire song. And for the total delight of fans of extreme metal, this re-issue of She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror also includes a brand new instrumental track, The Triumvirate’s Flight To Nippur, a feast of blast beats and traditional riffs where not even a single second sounds weak or empty.

In order to acquire this sonic storm, simply visit Goatchrist’s BandCamp page, or also visit SixSixSix Music’s official website and Big Cartel page, who by the way does an amazing job with tons of other truly underground metal bands. Fans of Black Metal, behold the rise of Goatchirst, a band that will surely leave their mark in the world of extreme music in the years to come.

Best moments of the album: Catacombs, She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror and Inferno.

Worst moments of the album: The Four Horsemen.

Released in 2014 SixSixSix Music

Track listing
1. Through Flames, We Invoke Him 7:43
2. Catacombs 4:51
3. The Four Horsemen 6:39
4. Bloodletting, Part 1 2:02
5. She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror 6:55
6. Fatal Equinox (Perpetual Resplendence) (Goatpenis cover) 2:39
7. Bloodletting, Part 2 2:08
8. Inferno 6:05
9. The Triumvirate’s Flight To Nippur (Instrumental) 5:18

Band members
Dominator Xul’Ahabra – guitar, vocals
Blood-Count Aamon Vetis – bass guitar, backing vocals
Kaahl – drums

Album Review – Cadaveria / Silence (2014)

A sinister parade of heavy music led by the reigning succubus of Black and Doom Metal.

Rating4

cadaveria_silenceI got to know Black/Gothic Metal band Cadaveria a couple of months ago while listening to The Metal Moose Show, and basically after that I had to go after more of their excellent obscure music. The band is led by the diabolical Italian beauty Cadaveria (aka Raffaella Rivarolo), known for being the former singer of Symphonic Black Metal band Opera IX. Now, after over ten years in action, the band releases their fifth full-length album, Silence, a sinister parade of Black and Doom Metal, with Gothic influences from the 80’s and the unique feminine touch by Cadaveria.

Despite being extremely hard for bands to stay relevant in Heavy Metal doing this type of dark music, more due to their demanding fans rather than to the music itself, Cadaveria somehow manage to reinvent their musicality with each release, avoiding that feeling of “I’ve heard that before a million times” from any person that gets in contact with their music, no matter if it’s a diehard fan or a brand new listener. Of course the music by Cadaveria is not light-hearted or commercial at all, so do not expect to listen to it anywhere, but only where it really matters: in the underground music world.

The opening track, Velo (The Other Side of Hate), which by the way is probably a play on words with “LOVE”, is the perfect representation of Melodic Black Metal with devilish feminine vocals (can I say Cadaveria is like the reigning succubus of Black Metal?), alternating traditional Black Metal with more symphonic parts and with Frank Booth and Dick Laurent doing an awesome job on guitars. Following that great start, as the name of the song says Carnival of Doom has an awesome Doom Metal punch, being brutal but delicate at the same time, with Cadaveria’s clean vocals redefining the meaning of the word “mesmerizing”, while in Free Spirit there’s a slight change in the band’s approach, with its guitar lines and vocals focusing on a more melancholic tune inspired by Gothic/Doom Metal from the 80’s.

cadaveriaThe Soul That Doesn’t Sleep emanates despair and darkness, with Cadaveria beautifully switching between harsh and clean vocals while the rest of the band maintains a morbid rhythm, solidifying the overall result, followed by Existence, which gets closer to apocalyptic Black Metal with drummer Marçelo Santos conducting the rhythm. In the modern and amazing Out Loud, the band offers us a heavy and furious tune with hints of Thrash and Death Metal, sounding like an even more wicked version of Arch Enemy and making it a perfect choice for circle pits, while Death, Again, which begins in the darkest and most melancholic way possible, has that type of hypnotizing melody, with Cadaveria making it even more enjoyable.

The last part of Silence brings to the listener an interesting mix of good, bad and, of course, dark tunes, starting with Exercise1, too generic compared to the rest of the album; Almost Ghostly, a feminine version of Paradise Lost blended with Tristania, with highlights to its amazing vocal lines; Loneliness, another excellent technical track with Gothic elements dominating the entire song; and finally Strangled Idols, again a more melodic and dark song, with its raw Rock N’ Roll vein being very beneficial to the overall energy of the song.

You can check the official album trailer HERE, visit the band’s official Facebook page, and of course buy their music and merchandise at their webshop or on iTunes. If there was a parade of Black and Doom Metal, Silence would definitely be its sinful and delectable soundtrack.

Best moments of the album: Carnival of Doom, The Soul That Doesn’t Sleep and Out Loud.

Worst moments of the album: Existence and Exercise1.

Released in 2014 Scarlet Records

Track listing
1. Velo (The Other Side of Hate) 4:14
2. Carnival of Doom 3:28
3. Free Spirit 4:44
4. The Soul That Doesn’t Sleep 3:34
5. Existence 4:56
6. Out Loud 3:16
7. Death, Again 5:04
8. Exercise1 3:54
9. Almost Ghostly 4:22
10. Loneliness 4:42
11. Strangled Idols 5:00

Band members
Cadaveria – vocals
Frank Booth – guitar
Dick Laurent – guitar
Killer Bob – bass
Marçelo Santos – drums

Album Review – Neverworld / Visions Of Another World (2014)

An exciting music journey to a “different world” created by this talented Heavy Metal band from the UK.

Rating4

Front CoverFormed in 2009 from the ashes of several local bands in Bedfordshire, UK, comes a Heavy/Power Metal band that offers fans of the genre a very professional and entertaining music feast, with all the traditional and melodic elements found in the music by giants such as Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Helloween, Gamma Ray and Savatage. After the release of an EP entitled Welcome To…, in 2010, British band Neverworld is back with their first full-length album, the interesting and solid Visions Of Another World.

According to the band members themselves, “Neverworld is a place of dreams, a world we all visit in our sleep and the band explore this magical realm in their lyrics and artwork.” They also say it’s a place where metal dreams come true, inspiring all of us to use our imagination while listening to their music, and let me tell you this is the best thing you can do while taking a listen at Visions Of Another World: not only this is a very technical album, but it’s just a matter of closing your eyes and following the story told in each and every song for a unique experience that will stimulate all your senses.

In order to properly kick off the “journey” proposed above we have Tempus, an intro that blends the sound of a clock ticking together with some smooth piano and keyboard notes, as if the band wanted to musically hypnotize and transport the listener to another world, before the title-track, the amazing Visions Of Another World, fills our ears and souls with that Symphonic Power Metal vibe, speed and energy the likes of Helloween and Judas Priest, with highlights to its guitar solos blended with some background keyboard notes. Simply raise your fists and sing the chorus along with vocalist Ben Colton, you’re going to love it.

band picThey Live focuses on more old school heavy music, like a mix of Deep Purple and Gamma Ray, with its ending showcasing a very harmonious and progressive side, creating an intense and fun atmosphere for the listener, while Blood And Romance, invigorated by the stunning vocals by guest musician Christina Gajny, is so delightful I would like to see more of that Ben/Christina duo in their future releases. It’s such a beautiful Power Metal ballad, with almost 10 minutes of powerful melodies and atmospheric passages transpiring pure emotion, it’s hard not to listen to it several times before moving on to the next song, Ghosts, with its “angrier” and more rhythmic musicality. Even the vocal lines by Ben are more aggressive here, providing a good balance with all its nice breaks and variations before culminating in a 100% Power Metal ending.

The band “spins the wheel” in the next track, The Wheel Of Misfortune, which has in its powerful keyboards and the amazing guitar solo “battle” during its last part its greatest strengths, followed by the more serious and introspective Eminent Reprisal, where Neverworld slow down things a bit and let the guitar lines guide the music. Each of the band members’ skills are truly noticeable here, with so many good solos and riffs it’s difficult to pick just one or two. Finally, we have Salt Water Bandits, which starts in a very mighty way, enhanced by an atmospheric break halfway through it and all the great sounding the band has to offer us, including many creative riffs, soulful solos, accelerated beats, high-pitched vocals and so on; and the very progressive This Fire, which sounds like a hybrid of Dream Theater and Gamma Ray with the band’s own touch, ending with the same clock from the intro to wrap things up in a very consistent way.

Visions Of Another World is available on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and other locations, and it’s a more than welcome addition to your list of metal albums. Let the energy and atmosphere generated by those British guys invade your mind and soul, and you’ll be more than happy to follow them to this new world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Visions Of Another World, Blood And Romance and Eminent Reprisal.

Worst moments of the album: This Fire.

Released in 2014 Dreamdemon Recordings

Track listing
1. Tempus 2:27
2. Visions Of Another World 5:53
3. They Live 4:44
4. Blood And Romance 9:13
5. Ghosts 6:40
6. The Wheel Of Misfortune 5:37
7. Eminent Reprisal 7:24
8. Salt Water Bandits 8:16
9. This Fire 8:33

Band members
Ben Colton – guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals
Jack Foster – guitar
Gary Payne – bass
Daniel Potter – keyboards
Mike Vaughan – drums

Guest musician
Christina Gajny – female vocals on “Blood and Romance”

Album Review – Viathyn / Cynosure (2014)

The new album by this outstanding indie Power Metal band from Calgary has everything we love in progressive metal music and more.

Rating4

Album Cover - Viathyn  - Cynosure - 2014There was a time when my playlist was pretty much composed in its entirety by the anthem-like songs and sing-along choruses of many Power Metal bands such as Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Blind Guardian and Angra. Although years have gone by and my taste for heavy music has expanded considerably, listening to some thrilling Power Metal tunes always touches my heart no matter what, and seeing this genre of heavy music is alive and well in the hands of awesome indie groups, such as Progressive Power Metal band Viathyn, truly makes me hapy. By the way, the name of the band has no real definition in English, it’s just something the band members came up while playing off the word “Leviathan”.

After the EP Demagogue in 2008 and their first full-length album The Peregrine Way in 2010, this Calgary-based band returns with more of their powerful and progressive music in Cynosure, which according to guitarist Jacob Wright means “a focal point or an object that serves to guide”. Also, when explaining the meaning of the songs, which by the way are full of virtuosity and emotion, he mentioned each track focuses upon a character that is either affected by or acts as an agent of chaos, in order to express how small and insignificant our actions are within the grand scale of the universe and to show that we as humans should be humble and respectful to each other. In other words, Cynosure also has a good storyline to add even more value to its music, which is already excellent by itself.

Get ready for a metal journey with the opening track Ageless Stranger, which right after its “Hobbit-ish” intro turns into nonstop Power Metal with lots of progressiveness, riffs and drums à la Gamma Ray, and awesome guitar solos by Jacob Wright, followed by The Coachman, which sounds like a heavier version of Jethro Tull and Sonata Arctica, especially the vocal lines by Tomislav Crnkovic and the harmony found in the lyrics, with highlights to its great chorus (“And in the shades of nightfall, riding swift, he steers to your call / Step into the coach and find your broken oaths are inside / By sleight of hand and wake of fate, speak his name, he’ll be your guide”). I might be wrong, but is it some kind of tribute to Helloween on one of the last guitar solos and at the end of the song, sounding like a live version of “Future World”?

Viathyn Press Photo 2Edward Mordrake gets back to that breathtaking traditional Power Metal with its flawless instrumental, awesome guitar riffs and all rhythmic breaks. It’s definitely one of the best songs of the whole album, especially its second half which would put a big smile on Mr. Kai Hansen’s face. The heavy and symphonic  Shadows In Our Wake has a more badass attitude and it’s impossible not to get excited with the energy this track emanates, with highlights to its nice guitar duos and speed similar to Gamma Ray (but a little more progressive), followed by the superb Countess of Discordia: it has that Power Metal vibe we all love, with “Brothers Crnkovic” absolutely on fire and in total sync. Moreover, not only it has best lyrics of all songs (“Eris, the Countess of Discordia / Behold her kingdom of strife and chaos at your door / Mother to false oaths and daughter to the void / Her fortress stretches high up to the weeping moon”), but it’s impressive how despite being lengthy it’s not tiring at all (and I’m sure you’ll start tapping together with its double bass wherever you are).

Cynosure goes on with Time Will Take Us All, which has a more serene intro and slower rhythm, with part of its musicality inspired by British Progressive Rock and the addition of some guttural vocals in the background being its special element, and Three Sheets To The Wind, a song that takes Folk and Power Metal to the next level, making me want to start dancing and prancing with a mug of beer in my hand. The last two tracks of the album are Albedo, a psychedelic music voyage with interesting lyrics (“Panacea, cure all that ails me and fill my veins with life / Aqua Vitae, draw clarity to my eyes and post colour through my mind”), with highlights to the excellent job done on guitars, and finally the title-track Cynosure, as symphonic and metallic as possible in its almost 10 minutes of fast and complex riffs, guitar solos and drums. Some passages even remind me of Dragonforce, with Tomislav Crnkovic once again showcasing an excellent vocal performance boosted by the enjoyable song lyrics.

There are many places where you can listen to and purchase Viathyn’s Cynosure (SoundCloud, CD Baby, BandCamp, Big Cartel, iTunes, among others), an awesome album tailored for fans of progressive and powerful metal music. There’s no way you won’t feel really good listening to it, I can assure you.

Best moments of the album: The Coachman, Edward Mordrake and Countess of Discordia.

Worst moments of the album: Time Will Take Us All.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Ageless Stranger 7:13
2. The Coachman 5:41
3. Edward Mordrake 6:24
4. Shadows In Our Wake 7:02
5. Countess of Discordia 7:12
6. Time Will Take Us All 7:01
7. Three Sheets To The Wind 7:21
8. Albedo 6:48
9. Cynosure 9:35

Band members
Tomislav Crnkovic – vocals, guitar
Jacob Wright – guitar
Alex Kot – bass
Dave Crnkovic – drums

Album Review – Phantom / …Of Gods and Men (2014)

With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.

Rating3

Of Gods And Men v2.9Do you really love Heavy Metal? Do you not only listen to it, but feel it and live it every single day of your life? If your answer is “YES!”, screaming with your horns in the air, you MUST listen to …Of Gods and Men, the brand new album by Canadian Heavy Metal band Phantom, by far one of the best new metal bands I can think of. D.D. Murley, Necro Hippie and J.J. Blade (who unfortunately has left the band to pursue other career goals) are true Heavy Metal warriors, and they more than deliver it in this indie masterpiece.

Formed in January of 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, this Heavy Metal/Power Metal trio simply masters the art of crafting catchy, dynamic and nostalgic music, inspired by the musicality of the 80’s with huge doses of energy and passion for Heavy Metal. After releasing their 2013 EP The Powers That Be, and after playing the Newblood Stage at the famous Bloodstock Festival in the UK in 2014, this promising and electrifying band sounds even more mature and more than ready to conquer the world with their first full-length album. …Of Gods and Men is a Heavy Metal extravaganza, with each and every song definitely worth our time, money, screams and horns.

A megalith is not only a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones, like Stonehenge in the UK or the Easter Island’s Moai, but also the album art in …Of Gods and Men and the album’s imposing intro, Megalith, setting the tone for the superb Children of the Stars to kick some serious ass: the name is 80’s metal, the music is 80’s metal, and it’s totally awesome from start to finish.  Vocalist/guitarist D.D. Murley has an amazing voice, he is a great riffmaker, and he will surely get you pumped to scream with him the simple but excellent chorus “Pray for us / Children of the stars”. In other words, he knows how to deliver Heavy Metal to us all.

Too Young to Die, with its awesome bass lines and drums, introduces to us the refined skills of the other band members, bassist Necro Hippie and drummer J.J. Blade. Besides, its great energy and the message in the lyrics are a delight to fans of old school metal music, making it almost impossible not to start banging our heads nonstop. However, it’s the next song that can be considered the icing on the cake in …Of Gods and Men: Blood & Iron, a song heavily inspired by behemoths like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon, is the epitome of Heavy Metal, and there isn’t a single detail here that’s not 100% pure fuckin’ metal. I saw Phantom playing it live once opening for Blaze Bayley here in Toronto, and it got stuck inside my mind instantly. With its perfect galloping rhythm, Manowar-ish lyrics and also the “Oh-oh-oh-oh!” halfway through it, this is already a classic no matter if it’s a brand new song by an indie band. Why these guys are not signed yet to a strong record label is a question beyond my comprehension.

phantom-promoAnyway, the longest song of the album, The Kings Road, is more melodic than its predecessors, reminding me of old school Iron Maiden from Piece Of Mind and Powerslave with elements from 70’s Psychedelic Rock. It’s indeed a bold 8-minute instrumental track where all band members showcase their outstanding techniques as musicians. Right after that metal feast we have another intro, this time called Trinity, which invites us to enjoy the title-track, Of Gods and Men, with its beginning being a good indicator that pure metal is about to come. It’s another lesson in heavy music, with highlights to its great chorus and to the incredible synergy among all band members.

How not to headbang like a motherfuckin’ bastard to something that sounds even like old school Anthrax due to its heavier approach? Well, that’s the case in The Devil In Me, with its ressonating bass lines guiding the music while J.J. Blade pounds his drum kit. And lastly, the band offers us Beyond the Sun, a song that will leave us eager for more of Phantom’s heavy music without a shadow of a doubt. This is like Iron Maiden with Paul Di’Anno on vocals, with all its shredding, solos and insane speed making it truly outstanding.

The band will release …Of Gods and Men on December 6 at Toronto’s own legendary rock bar, the Bovine Sex Club, and if you live in Toronto or will be around the city on that day or weekend, do not miss the chance to witness one of the most powerful and exciting indie bands in Canada. There will be plenty of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire for all fans that attend their concert, and even more to tame the entire world with the release of such an epic album. This is Heavy Metal, period.

Best moments of the album: Children of the Stars, Blood & Iron and Beyond the Sun.

Worst moments of the album: Nothing in …Of Gods and Men is bad or boring at all.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Megalith 2:24
2. Children of the Stars 4:18
3. Too Young to Die 3:57
4. Blood & Iron 4:04
5. The Kings Road 8:20
6. Trinity 1:11
7. Of Gods and Men 5:28
8. The Devil In Me 5:08
9. Beyond the Sun 5:38

Band members
D.D. Murley – lead vocals and guitar
Necro Hippie – bass guitar
J.J. Blade – drums*

* Currently J.J. Blade has left the band to pursue other career goals.