The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

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

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

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Album Review – Escalane / The Days Of Decay (2015)

A delightful album full of catchy riffs, sing-along choruses and endless electricity by an up-and-coming Pop Metal band from Finland, to at least end this tragic year on a high note.

Rating5

escalane_days-of-decay_640The Headbanging Moose has one last treat for you metalheads before this turbulent year finally comes to an end, and in order to lessen the pain caused by so many tragedies and bring some joy into our lives, let’s fly to the city of Jyväskylä, Finland and dance to the brisk and lighthearted music by Finnish Pop Metal band Escalane. In case you have absolutely no idea of how Pop Metal sounds, let me tell you that what this female-fronted four-piece group has to offer is a modern version of Heavy Metal with lots of Pop Rock influences, which translates into a sounding much heavier (and a thousand times better) than Paramore, but obviously a lot lighter than all the extreme music we’ve reviewed lately.

Formed by guitarist Juha Takanen in late 2013 and having released two promo singles in 2014, as well as having toured China for two weeks that same year, Escalane are now ready to spread their amusing fusion of heavy and pop music across the four corners of the world with their debut full-length album, entitled The Days Of Decay. Furthermore, the avant-garde album art designed by Finnish artist Simo Heikkinen already gives you an idea of what to expect from the music by Escalane, a torrent of catchy riffs, sing-along choruses and the charismatic performance by the sexy red-haired frontwoman Hanna Uimonen, so to speak.

If you turn on the radio and the song Waiting For The Sun by Escalane is playing, I’m pretty sure you’ll start smiling right away. It has some sort of “Babymetal” feeling but with more mature vocals, of course, which translates into lots of fun with Juha kicking fuckin’ ass through his heavy riffs and endless energy. Featuring electronic elements in the background but still more metal than pop, Singularity focuses on the smooth vocals by Hanna (with her Finnish accent adding an extra touch of beauty to the song) and her gentle piano notes; whereas Fading In, Fading Out brings to the listener pure Rock N’ Roll with elements from J-Pop. In addition, drummer Iiro Vuori and bassist Joonatan Jaakonaho let their metal side prevail, providing the perfect base for Juha to fire his solid shredding.

Promo_1Careless blends modern Metalcore with Pop Rock, with its keyboards spicing up the musicality, before the introspective ballad Seven Months presents a completely different mood from the rest of the album. In the end it works pretty well, increasing the album’s reach and showcasing another excellent performance by Juha. Reality is a good display of what can be called “progressive pop”, switching from heavier bass lines and guitar riffs to a gentle ambience and so on, while The Spiral is a great option for a special playlist to hit the road due to its exciting rhythm and electrifying riffs. Moreover, some parts of the song even feel like Power Metal and others like Alternative Metal so weird the whole thing is.

In This Disgrace, what seems to be “just” a ballad suddenly turns into high-speed Rock N’ Roll, and I bet you’ll be singing it together with the fiery Hanna without even noticing. And there’s even time for some headbanging with Escalane in The Map thanks to the solid synchronicity between Juha and Iiro, increasing the song’s heaviness. Lastly we have the title-track, The Days Of Decay, closing the album in an thrilling and metallic way, not to mention its extremely catchy chorus (“I don’t want your glow, I don’t want your crow, I don’t want it, no / I don’t wanna know about your flow, you don’t really have to show / I don’t want your glow, I don’t want your crow, I don’t want it, no / I don’t wanna know about your flow, I don’t want to know”).

Now that you have finally been exposed to some good Pop Metal, why not visiting Escalane’s Facebook page and give them a shout? You can also check more of their music at their YouTube channel, or purchase The Days Of Decay at the band’s BandCamp page, at the Inverse Store, or at Record Shop X. As this year might have been tragic and catastrophic for almost the entire world, at least let’s end it on a high note to the joyful music by Escalane, hoping for a better 2016 for all of us.

Best moments of the album: Waiting For The Sun, Fading In, Fading Out and The Days Of Decay.

Worst moments of the album: Reality.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Waiting For The Sun 3:23
2. Singularity 3:52
3. Fading In, Fading Out 3:23
4. Careless 4:37
5. Seven Months 3:59
6. Reality 5:31
7. The Spiral 4:25
8. This Disgrace 4:01
9. The Map 5:16
10. The Days Of Decay 3:27

Band members
Hanna Uimonen – vocals, piano
Juha Takanen – guitars
Joonatan Jaakonaho – bass
Iiro Vuori – drums

Album Review – Against The Plagues / Purified Through Devastation (2015)

The devastating new album by this Blackened Death Metal band from Chicago is undoubtedly the perfect soundtrack for the total extermination of our species.

Rating4

ALBUM_COVER_2015We all know that the human race has proven countless times to be a failed experiment of Mother Nature and that, consequently, there’s only one last resort to restore balance to the world, which is the total extermination of our species. Thus, as there’s no other way out, why not conducting that mandatory purge to the sound of the demolishing music found in Purified Through Devastation,  the brand new release by American Blackened Death Metal act Against The Plagues?

Based in Chicago, Illinois, this brutally heavy and technical band has been pulverizing the world with their Blackened Death Metal since their inception in 2005, mixing speed and slower tempos in a precise and explicit way for the delight of fans of extreme music. Featuring another first-rate artwork by renowned Swedish artist Pär Olofsson (you might remember him from some of our previous reviews such as the latest albums by Exodus and Irreversible Mechanism), six of the nine tracks in Purified Through Devastation were already part of either their 2012 EP The Quaternion or their 2015 EP Extermination Event, which altogether offer the listener a concept album that will leave you disoriented after its 47 minutes of annihilation are over.

Their pulverization begins in less than five seconds in Man’s Modern World, where lead singer Shaun Albro delivers potent screams and growls (hence leading the band’s dense musicality) while drummer Varyen Chylinski shows no mercy for mankind, sounding like a machine gun behind his drums. The brutal and atmospheric All Flesh Had Corrupted, showcasing a more modern version of Death Metal due to its background sounds, continues the band’s carnage and also presents some amazing guitar lines by Jon Corston and Aaron Covarrubias, especially their solos. And what can be said about Praetorian Icon, slightly faster, heavier and more demonic than the previous tracks, reinforcing their impressive technique to sound so destructive and tuneful at the same time?

photoThe next song, Theokratia, is a magnificent neck-breaking chant perfect for admirers of Melodic Death Metal but with sharper instruments, in special the bestial drumming by Varyen and the even deeper growls by Shaun. And their heavy artillery doesn’t give any sign of slowing down as seen in TerrorForm, where hints of Symphonic Black Metal blend perfectly with their traditional shredding, beats and screams, making it a highly-recommended tune for getting smashed in the circle pit. The same is valid for the awesome chant Extermination Event, where its initial siren alerts a scathing bloodshed is about to begin in the form of demented Death Metal.

Let’s say the album needed a short break from all extermination going on with the instrumental track Falling Further, but it’s just for less than two minutes before the psychotic tune Enblightened comes crushing your skull with its Black Metal elements, enhancing the already amazing harsh vocals by Shaun. And lastly, we have the threatening Enemy Herein to close the album, with all instruments getting darker than usual and Jon and Aaron firing more of their striking guitar solos.

Against The Plagues can be found on Facebook and ReverbNation, and there are so many awesome versions of Purified Through Devastation available for sale I don’t know where to start. You can grab your copy of the album at their BandCamp page, a limited edition CD signed by all members at their Big Cartel page, and both the regular version of the album or a special combo CD + T-shirt at the Non Serviam Records webstore. If the brutal extermination of mankind deserves a proper soundtrack, Against The Plagues are indubitably the ones to help us with that gruesome task.

Best moments of the album: Man’s Modern World, Theokratia and Extermination Event.

Worst moments of the album: Enemy Herein.

Released in 2015 Non Serviam Records

Track listing
1. Man’s Modern World 7:06
2. All Flesh Had Corrupted 4:58
3. Praetorian Icon 5:25
4. Theokratia 7:47
5. TerrorForm 5:12
6. Extermination Event 3:56
7. Falling Further 1:39
8. Enblightened 4:46
9. Enemy Herein 6:49

Band members
Shaun Albro – vocals
Jon Corston – guitar
Aaron Covarrubias – guitar
Milo Kovacevic – bass
Varyen Chylinski – drums

Album Review – Morkesagn / Where The Darkness Never Ends (2015)

These ruthless Ukrainian metallers will take you where the darkness never ends to the sound of their raw and aggressive Black Metal.

Rating4

frontDo you want to know where the darkness never ends? Based on the cataclysmic music brought forth by Ukrainian Black Metal act Morkesagn in their debut full-length release Where The Darkness Never Ends, I should say it’s definitely the city of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Those corpse-painted metallers are capable of blending the most refined techniques found in heavy music with the infernal aggressiveness of raw Black Metal, resulting in a must-have album for fans of Emperor, Dissection, Satyricon and early Norwegian Black Metal.

Morkesagn, whose name was taken from the Norwegian language and means “Dark Legends”, was formed in the year of 2013 in Kiev by lead vocalist, guitarist, composer and songwriter Ekvil, and although there have been significant changes to the band’s lineup since then, their music surely evolved to a much more robust and lancinating form. Add to that the content of their lyrics, based mostly on the mythology of Greece and partly on Scandinavian mythology, and there you have one of the most promising bands hailing from Eastern Europe in recent years.

Dungeons, with its smooth and sinister intro suddenly exploding into over 8 minutes of darkness and sulfur in the form of brutal Black Metal led by the demonic growls by Ekvil, presents lots of melodic elements and a somber atmosphere which end up preventing it from being too crude; whereas primeval drums set the tone for the infernal opus Heart of Darkness, the first of their three “hearts”, where Ekvil and Farn burst undistilled Black Metal riffs and solos while Lev Kurgansky (the session drummer for the album) is an unstoppable demon behind his drums.

IMG_5457-Edit_newThe following “heart”, entitled Heart of Poison, starts as very obscure and heavy Doom Metal before becoming a venomous blast of the blackest form of Extreme Metal you can think of. In addition, the devilish way Ekvil declaims the lyrics is at the same time threatening and captivating, enhancing the song’s morbidity. Heart of Flame, the third and last “heart”, will lacerate your soul with its burning Black Metal inflamed by the traditional blast beats and fills by Lev, as well as the piercing riffs by Ekvil and Farn, solidifying this complex tune full of variations as if there were three or four songs in one.

And there’s no place to hide from their blasphemous metal music, as you’ll notice in the solid and vile tune Temple, where beautiful guitar lines flourish amidst sheer carnage, and the rumbling bass lines by Heydvald simply confirm darkness will prevail after all is said and done. Finally, as hazardous as a frostbite we have Frost, an amazing “tribute” to Norwegian Black Metal that lives up to the tradition of Scandinavian extreme music, from its cold name to its hypnotizing rhythm, darkening our minds before the ominous instrumental outro Throne of Doom brings this enraged album to an end.

In conclusion, Morkesagn can undoubtedly take you on a tenebrous journey through the forbidding world of Black Metal aboard the skeleton ship portrayed in the album art of Where The Darkness Never Ends, which can be purchased at the band’s official BandCamp page. It’s just a matter of knowing if you’re brave enough to face the band’s grim musicality and, above all things, if you’re willing to accept infinite darkness into your heart.

Best moments of the album: Heart of Darkness and Heart of Flame.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Farn Black Productions

Track listing
1. Dungeons 8:20
2. Heart Of Darkness 7:19
3. Heart Of Poison 7:07
4. Heart Of Flame 7:15
5. Temple 7:31
6. Frost 4:43
7. Throne Of Doom 2:57

Band members
Ekvil – vocals, guitars
Farn – guitars
Heydvald – bass
Heisenbeard – drums

Guest musician
Lev Kurgansky – drums (session musician)

Album Review – Vorna / Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (2015)

A stunning expedition through the depths of human mind, crafted by proficient Finnish metallers whom no light follows.

Rating3

vorna_cover640As I stated earlier this year in the review for the self-titled debut album by Stoner/Progressive Metal band Sata Kaskelottia, and also in the review for the 2005 classic Metallitotuus, by Power Metal band Teräsbetoni, anytime I receive material from a band from the land of ice and snow that’s sung in their mother tongue I get quite excited about what I’m about to listen to. It couldn’t be any different with Finnish Black/Pagan Metal orchestra Vorna (named after a character from the Finnish folklore), who have just release their second full-length album, an incredible full-bodied expedition through the depths of human mind entitled Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (or “No Light Follows Me”, in English).

Dealing with themes like nature, myths and struggles of mind, this ascendant six-piece group formed in 2008 in Tampere, Finland are an exquisite treat for all fans of Black, Pagan and Folk Metal, and their new album will blow your mind no matter how much you love (or even hate) those subgenres of metal music. From its minimalistic and gorgeous artwork, designed by Jarno Lahti (KAAMOS Illustration & Design Studio), to its intricate passages and somber atmosphere, Ei Valo Minua Seuraa offers all metalheads a memorable feast of darkness, all spiced up by the uniqueness of the Finnish language, of course.

The name chosen for the album is already legitimated by its opening track, the pleasant and dark Harmaudesta (“Away from Grey”), where the orchestrations blend perfectly with the harsh vocals by Vesa Salovaara, while the obscure keyboard notes by Saku Myyryläinen, together with the precise drumming by Mikael Vanninen, boost the song’s impact significantly. In Jälkemme (“Heritage”), a sense of epicness emanates through its soaring ambience, inducing a strong feeling that the battle is about to begin. In addition to that, Arttu Järvisalo and Henri Lammintausta do an excellent job with their flaming guitars by adding elements of Black and Viking Metal to their riffs.

vorna_promophoto_2015Their symphony of darkness goes on with a fusion of Melodic Black Metal and the band’s core Pagan Metal in Itsetön (“Soul Shriven”), a hellish waltz flawlessly crafted by the entire band until everything morphs into a melancholic ending; whereas Sieluni Varjossa (“In the Nightside of Self”) presents a sharper sonority thanks to the beats by Mikael and to the solid and resonant bass lines by Niilo Könönen. Moreover, the second half of the song is pure obscurity, perfect for afflicting your soul before the serene Vaipunut (“Of Life Descended”) arises full of melancholy and sorrow. It’s almost like a Dark Metal ballad, very interesting and gripping, showcasing the band’s versatility and Vesa’s clean vocals, which sound as powerful as his guttural.

All that sorrow keeps flowing in the amazing Yksin (“Alone”), with Saku leading Vorna’s metallic orchestra while Arttu and Henri continue to darken the music with their riffs, turning this song not only into the best of all tracks but, more important than that, into a beautiful aria of solitude, fear and sadness. And Vorna lead the listener to one final fight in Hiljaiset Rauniot (“Silent Ruins”), an emotive and razor-sharp chant with an inspiring intro and atmospheric keyboards, and where you can feel death is imminent through both the growls and clean vocals by Vesa, efficiently ending such a distinct album.

This proficient Finnish orchestra can be reached at their official Facebook page and YouTube channel, and their Stygian concerto Ei Valo Minua Seuraa can be purchased through the Inverse Store, Record Shop X or CDON.COM. Indeed no light follows Vorna, but that doesn’t mean their music is dull or unreverberant. Quite the contrary, Ei Valo Minua Seuraa is doubtless one of the brightest releases of the year.

Best moments of the album: Jälkemme, Vaipunut and Yksin.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Harmaudesta 3:57
2. Jälkemme 7:37
3. Itsetön 8:07
4. Sieluni Varjossa 6:58
5. Vaipunut 3:47
6. Yksin 6:40
7. Hiljaiset Rauniot 8:48

Band members
Vesa Salovaara – vocals
Arttu Järvisalo – guitars
Henri Lammintausta – guitars
Niilo Könönen – bass
Saku Myyryläinen – keyboards
Mikael Vanninen – drums

Album Review – The Prophet / Dying (2015)

A consistent and striking album full of hatred, suffering and death, by an up-and-coming Russian band that aims at redefining Melodic Death Metal.

Rating4

the prophet_dyingIf you look up in any dictionary for the definition of the word Dying, you’ll find a few different meanings such as “on the point of death”, “occurring at or connected with the time that someone dies” or even “gradually ceasing to exist or function; in decline and about to disappear”. However, from now on there should be a new definition added to that list referring to the brand new release by Siberian Melodic Death Metal band The Prophet, a consistent and striking album overflowing hatred, suffering and, obviously, death.

Dying is the third full-length album by this talented band formed in 2010 in the city of Tomsk, Russia (one of the oldest towns in Siberia), and it’s by far their most solid and professional one in terms of its overall production, quality of the compositions and connectivity among its nine hostile tracks. The album’s cadaverous artwork, designed by Armenian artist and multi-instrumentalist Mark Erskine (GraveDealer Studio), is just the icing on the cake, effectually complementing what the music by The Prophet proposes throughout the entire album.

Just a few seconds after their metallic cavalry arrives in the opening track Killers, The Prophet already start detonating their fast and furious Death Metal through the harsh screams by lead singer/guitarist Doctor and a high-octane rhythm brought forward by guitarist Jo-Sound, bassist Bathone and drummer Raziel, reminding me of the massacre that old school Arch Enemy used to present. The following track, On The Path, is perfect for banging your head like a maniac due to its Black Metal riffs and its darkened ambience, which is also present in Incantation Of Sorrow, with the slight difference that now it’s the drums that get closer to a Black Metal sonority.

Band-1Although Amid The Fogs Of Nothing has the most beautiful name of all songs in the album, it is just an instrumental tune that prepares the listener to “die” with the title-track, the heavy and crisp Dying. It’s yet another song with a strong Arch Enemy-ish vibe, or in other words, it’s very melodic and lethal at the same time, with highlights to the always desperate growls by Doctor and the razing riffs by both Doctor and Jo-Sound.

Relying on a truly unhappy and dark atmosphere, Let My Soul Out will not bring any joy or hope to your miserable life, especially due to the addition of elements from Blackened Doom and Doom Metal to its musicality; while Infection, a lot faster and more violent than most songs of the album, sounds as if Behemoth meet In Flames, therefore kicking you in the jugular without mercy. A Voice From Nowhere follows a similar pattern, offering sheer brutality and nonstop beats that morph into an eerie ending, whereas Bathone and Raziel guide the funereal Last Mourning Waltz, with its guitars acting like one last scream of agony before a sinister piano concludes the band’s journey to the other side.

There are many ways you can join The Prophet on their road to death and doom, including their  official Facebook page, VKontakte, YouTube and SoundCloud. And in case you want to purchase Dying, you can find it for sale at their BandCamp page or at the Russian label Musica Production’s page on eBay. Now all that’s left to do is adding the suggested new definition of “dying” to the dictionary, especially because the words “dying” or “death” have never made more sense in Melodic Death Metal than through the music by The Prophet.

Best moments of the album: Killers, Dying and Infection.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Musica Production

Track listing
1. Killers 3:23
2. On The Path 4:14
3.Incantation Of Sorrow 3:31
4. Amid The Fogs Of Nothing 2:05
5. Dying 4:05
6. Let My Soul Out 5:25
7. Infection 3:43
8. A Voice From Nowhere 2:52
9. Last Mourning Waltz 4:48

Band members
Doctor – vocals, guitars
Jo-Sound – guitars
Bathone – bass
Raziel – drums

Album Review – Dendritic Arbor / Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden EP (2015)

Follow the exploratory path of madness by a talented five-piece band whose main objective is to provide us distinct extreme music from multiple perspectives.

Rating5

“Different music from multiple perspectives.”

Dendriticarbor_Svog_cover-page-001If you visit the official Facebook page by American Progressive Black Metal quintet Dendritic Arbor, that’s the short and sweet description you’ll find about the eccentric music by this band hailing from the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States, and let me tell you there couldn’t be better words to describe their challenging and lunatic creations and experimentations. I myself consider labeling them as “just” a Progressive Black Metal band a limitation to their unique scope and creativity,  but that’s something I’ll leave up to you to decide after you take a listen at their brand new EP entitled Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden.

Formed in 2012, the band composed of Maxwell Beehner (guitars, vocals), Adam Henderson (guitars, vocals), Thomas Bittner (bass), Chris McCune (drums) and Kyle Lambert (responsible for the “noise”, or whatever that’s supposed to mean) is on a hot streak since their inception, releasing high-quality extreme music no matter if it’s just a single, a full-length album or an EP like Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden. Featuring a more-than-unusual album art designed by Hannah MacAulay and Maxwell Beehner (Ageless Christian Records), this avant-garde four-track album will demolish you like a wrecking ball in its 20 minutes of psychedelic rage.

The weird noises in the beginning of Cotard Delusion (a rare mental illness in which an afflicted person holds the delusion that they are dead, either figuratively or literally) might deceive you a bit, making you think the music by Dendritic Arbor is not as heavy as promised, but as soon as the sonic carnage arises with an explosion of blast beats, absurdly demented guitar riffs and disgruntled howls and barks by both Maxwell and Adam, sounding like there’s a horde of hideous trolls making noises behind the band, you’ll realize these guys are not fooling around. However, things get even more demonic (and therefore better) in Failed Manifestations, a top-notch mix of Black, Death and Thrash Metal, all at once in a powergrinding turmoil, not to mention the “trolls” who keep vociferating their evil spell against mankind. In other words, it’s a complex, progressive and totally destructive nightmare for the faint of heart.

Dendritic Arbor band pictureKeratoconus, which by the way is the name of a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than the more normal gradual curve, offers the listener brutal slamming Black Metal with no shenanigans, with drummer Chris McCune simply crushing everything with his inhuman beats. And what the hell are those wicked lyrics about (“Ruby moonlight harvesting the growth. / golden fishbone, lodged into the throat. / guess whose eating from the trash again?”)? Anyway, Latex, the most progressive of the four tracks, is an eldritch canticle forged in the pits of hell, where the whole band focuses all their strength and vileness to generate an idiosyncratic sonority until it becomes just a fading eerie noise to put an end to the album.

In a nutshell, Dendritic Arbor are not among us to provide us relaxing or charming songs, but a disquieting tsunami of Extreme Metal aiming at your ill-fated soul and your filthy heart. And with Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden, available at their BandCamp page, they continue their exploratory path of madness that will send to your ears, as aforementioned, distinct heavy music from multiple perspectives.

Best moments of the album: Failed Manifestations.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Cotard Delusion 3:44
2. Failed Manifestations 3:25
3. Keratoconus 6:08
4. Latex 7.37

Band members
Maxwell Beehner – guitars, vocals
Adam Henderson – guitars, vocals
Thomas Bittner – bass
Chris McCune – drums
Kyle Lambert – noise

Album Review – Nachtlieder / The Female Of The Species (2015)

The Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal returns with her aggressive night songs to tell us the spiteful story of Eve, the female of the species.

Rating5

IVR048_NACHTLIEDER_The_Female_Of_The_Species_1500pxThere couldn’t be a more suitable name than Nachtlieder for the Black Metal storm spearheaded by the skillful Swedish multi-instrumentalist Dagny Susanne. Nachtlieder is German for “night songs” or “songs of the night”, an epitome of the music found in The Female Of The Species, which is not only the brand new release by this talented Valkyrie from Gothenburg, Sweden, but also a concept album that will tell you the resentful story about Eve, the female of the species.

Unleashing her fury upon mankind since 2008, our female warrior has clearly expanded her horizons and aggressiveness from their debut album in 2013, evolving from feelings of desolation, loneliness and misanthropy to a much bolder and controversial theme. “The Garden of Eden is decaying,” she says, “and Eve’s sudden revelation of desolation and mortality has grown into spite. Stepping barefoot in the soil, she finds her path under the frozen leaves.”

In Malice, Come Closer, an incandescent Black Metal aria with hints of Atmospheric Doom, Dagny proves within less than two minutes how powerful women can sound in extreme music by offering the listener stunning sinister growls and sharp guitar riffs. And sounding even heavier and darker, Nightfall disseminates a sense of sorrow and despair that darkly reeks in the air, with lyrics that couldn’t be more Black Metal (“Stillness, sinister, crystal clear awakening / Open hands in a wordless prayer / A chilling pulse violently beating within / The silent horizon”) and a precise drumming by Martrum (by the way, drums are the only instrument not played by Dagny in the entire album).

IMG_3658-1Including elements of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, which end up making it sound more obscure than raw Black Metal, Fatale keeps the album at a good level of quality, with highlights to its mesmerizing and diabolical riff; and if you enjoy faster and more extreme metal music, the amazing Lonely Mortal, a very well-crafted chant where Dagny shines brighter than a lonely star on a deadly winter night, will satisfy your most devilish cravings. Then, Eve gets back to a doom-ish sonority, a nefarious song with stronger keyboard notes by Dagny while the beats by Martrum get a lot more rhythmic.

You’ll need only a few seconds to know Silence And Devastation is going to be a blast of old school Black Metal from start to finish, not to mention how interesting it is to notice the way Dagny blends riffs and keyboards into one unique “entity”. Following all that heaviness we have the somber Cimmerian Child, with its grim rhythm and low-tuned riffs. Moreover, as “Cimmerian” relates to members of a mythical people who lived in perpetual mist and darkness near the land of the dead, the lyrics in this tune are spot-on to depict the result of their inbreeding (“Follow a path toward the light / Through the dense dark forest / Pretty little one / Brush the thorns from your cloak”). At long last, the album wouldn’t be complete without its title-track The Female Of The Species, closing the album in the most obscure and violent way possible. This is not only a thrilling 8-minute Black Metal opus, but also an excellent display of what our multi-instrumentalist diva of darkness is capable of and the direction her music might probably follow in her future releases.

In short, although The Female Of The Species might be considered by many as a raw Black Metal album, there’s a lot more than that offered by Nachtlieder both musically and thematically speaking. In case you want to know more about the Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal and her distinct music, she can be reached directly via her Facebook page, and if you’re eager to relish the vindictive story told by Dagney in The Female Of The Species through her rampant and enthralling songs of the night, you can find it for sale at her official BandCamp page, as well as at the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page or official webshop.

Best moments of the album: Nightfall and Lonely Mortal.

Worst moments of the album: Fatale.

Released in 2015 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Malice, Come Closer 4:20
2. Nightfall 4:34
3. Fatale 4:14
4. Lonely Mortal 4:39
5. Eve 5:16
6. Silence And Devastation 3:58
7. Cimmerian Child 4:34
8. The Female Of The Species 8:25

Band members
Dagny Susanne – vocals, all instruments
Martrum – drums

Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Of The Night (2015)

Take a good listen at this classy rock album by a very talented British quartet and you might be able to understand what a “bouquet of dead crows” is all about.

Rating5

bodc_of the nightAlthough it might be a bit tough for most of us to imagine how a “bouquet of dead crows” would look like, a group of talented rockers hailing from Cambridge, UK can definitely help us in turning this difficult task into a pleasant Rock N’ Roll party, especially if you’re a fan of female-fronted bands. This is what you’ll find in the smooth and trenchant Of The Night, the brand new album by British Alternative Rock/Metal act Bouquet of Dead Crows.

Formed in 2013, Bouquet of Dead Crows truly know how to combine big riffs with big melodies, presenting a sequence of very consistent and rousing compositions led by lead singer Antoinette Cooper and guitarist Neil Bruce. Featuring an exquisite artwork by Stewart Harris Designs, Of The Night is perfect for a day on the road by yourself or with your significant other, a relaxing Sunday afternoon or any other situation where you need to soothe your spirit without giving up the electricity we all love in Pop Rock.

Instruments begin to arise from an acoustic intro in the opening track Everything Is Temporary until the beautiful voice by Antoinette Cooper fills your ears with passion and melancholy, followed by Epicentre, showcasing strong bass lines by Graeme Clarke and heavier guitar riffs by Neil to counterbalance with Antoinette’s voice. In other words, this nice tune proves how romantic and metallic the band can sound at the same time, which is also valid for Just A Little More, another great display of Alternative Rock/Metal with some progressive elements added to boost its pleasant rhythm. When this song is over, I’m sure you’ll be eager for more of it.

Graeme kicks off Without You with his resonant bass before it becomes a gentle ballad, focused on its touching lyrics about what true love is (“Hold me close, don’t let me go, because I just can’t go on without you…”). In my humble opinion, this charming song has all it takes to become a radio hit, it’s just a matter of it getting in the hands of the right people. The next song, Drownout, which by the way is another excellent choice for a rock n’ roll radio playlist, provides some “mystery” to the listener due to its elaborate bass lines and guitar solo, including a thoughtful chorus perfect for singing along with the band in a moment of reflection (“Rising up through the current / Must break free / Peaceful water laps at our skin / Letting us be”).

bodc_live 2015Then we have The Fundamental Flaw Of Solitude, a modern Rock N’ Roll chant with hints of Blues Rock and electric performances by Antoinette and Neil; and The Silent Path (Time Goes By), a minimalist but very effective song tailored for lovers of ballads with Folk Rock influences. And adding a good amount of horsepower to their musicality, Bouquet of Dead Crows fire pure Rock N’ Roll the way we love in Don’t Panic!, with the whole band providing Antoinette what’s needed for her to shine and turn this into one of the best songs of the album (if not the best), not to mention another great guitar solo by Neil.

Before Of The Night is over (and showing how well they master the art of switching between high-octane rock music and beautiful ballads), this talented British quartet still delivers the touching Like A Flower, with its poetic lyrics flawlessly declaimed by Antoinette (“The shadows fall away / Lost in the tranquility of the night / The sun warms the face / Tilted up like a flower / Sending the angst astray”), and Endless, a 7-minute rock journey with awesome guitar lines by Neil and another charge of catchy lyrics to sing together with the band, until it reaches its end on a high note.

In case alternative rock music is your cup of tea, you can get in touch with Bouquet of Dead Crows through their Facebook page, and obviously listen to Of The Night and purchase it at the official German Shepherd Records BandCamp page. Perhaps after taking a good listen to the entire album, all by yourself or together with someone you love, you might be able to create a good depiction of a “bouquet of dead crows” inside your mind to the sound of this classy rock band from the UK.

Best moments of the album: Drownout, Don’t Panic! and Like A Flower.

Worst moments of the album: Everything Is Temporary.

Released in 2015 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Everything Is Temporary 3:29
2. Epicentre 3:08
3. Just A Little More 2:56
4. Without You 4:44
5. Drownout 3:47
6. The Fundamental Flaw Of Solitude 4:06
7. The Silent Path (Time Goes By) 2:51
8. Don’t Panic! 3:02
9. Like A Flower 3:50
10. Endless 7:04

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars, ukulele
Graeme Clarke – bass, acoustic guitar
Andrew Coxall – drums, percussion, programming

Album Review – Novallo / Novallo II EP (2015)

A wicked fusion of metal, rock, pop, electronic, jazz and tons of other contrasting genres, crafted by a talented and promising American band.

Rating4

cover artRanging from the delightful turmoil brought forth by Progressive Metal to the catchy tunes from modern Pop/Rock, the vibrant experimentations by American Alternative/Experimental Metal band Novallo will definitely hit you like a bullet train at full speed and put you to dance, bang your head or simply move your body in any unconventional way you might enjoy. And let me tell you that such a weird sounding ends up making the task of putting a label to Novallo extremely hard. I personally can’t say if they’re a pop version of Dream Theater or a heavier version of Justin Timberlake, if not both at the same time.

Founded in the city of Columbus, Ohio (the 15th largest city in the United States) in 2006, Novallo released their self-titled debut EP in 2012, earning them some considerable recognition and appreciation by a growing fan base, as well as a spot on the 2015 edition of the Rock on the Range festival (as the only unsigned band on the bill, by the way), playing on May 16 alongside renowned acts such as  Saxon, Ministry, Babymetal, Godsmack, In Flames and Judas Priest. Now, after beginning to solidify their path to stardom, they’re back with a brand new EP entitled Novallo II, another wicked fusion of unlike music genres crafted by these talented and professional musicians.

How crazy, electronic and innovative can an intro be? Take a listen at Wake and you’ll see, right before Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton offers you a  unique mix of Alternative and Progressive Metal with hints of Jazz and electronic music. Put differently, it’s a very fun tune that’s appealing and complex all at once, something not so common in music nowadays. Drummer Nick Salvatore kicks ass behind his drum set hands down, which is also the case in the even more electronic I AM, a well-crafted rock-ish version of dance music where it’s pretty easy to notice their influences from the King of Pop Michael Jackson.

novalloA lot heavier than all other tracks from the EP, Sideways Bird nicely blends elements from Groove Metal with Alternative Rock. Besides, I dare you to try to make any sense out of the song’s loco lyrics (“First ride hitched on a glitch – am I coming or going? / Insanity photographed consciousness flowing. / Discount tricks shaped like bits from the back corner store man. / Liquid crime – amplified to extract and delete even more.”). In contrast, Give Gravity a Choice is significantly smoother and more progressive, with its calm passages and stronger soundings creating together a relaxing environment enhanced by the solid vocals by Sam Gitiban, who provides the song all the necessary energy and balance.

Showcasing freakish electronic effects that sound like something you would find in a Mario Bros. videogame, White Phoenix keeps the madness rolling thanks to the sick riffs by Gino Bambino and the precise breaks by Nick Salvatore, not to mention the brilliant work done by Brandon Johnson with his metallic bass lines. And although the movie-ish outro Sleep might put an end to the album, we all know the band is just starting their promising journey through the world of eccentric music.

To sum up, what Novallo has to offer in Novallo II, available at their BandCamp page (or you can take a peek at what the band can do at their YouTube channel, if you prefer), is indeed unique, or maybe I should say substantially distinct when compared to almost any other band or artist you can think of. Their music will most probably suit you no matter if you’re one of those orthodox fans of Progressive Metal that looks down on anything that doesn’t contain a billion intricate notes and riffs, or if you don’t give a shit about complexity as long as you can feed your inner dancer with the music. In other words, whilst you have a craving for a special type of music, Novallo definitely have the righteous tunes to fulfill all your needs.

Best moments of the album: Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton and Sideways Bird.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Wake 0:29
2. Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton 3:07
3. I AM 3:35
4. Sideways Bird 3:35
5. Give Gravity a Choice 5:18
6. White Phoenix 4:21
7. Sleep 1:05

Band members
Sam Gitiban – vocals
Gino Bambino – guitar
Brandon Johnson – bass
Nick Salvatore – drums, percussion