The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017

“We sort of find that music tames the beast, you know.” – Malcom Young

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season. In a year where we lost so many talented and important musicians in rock and heavy music for various reasons, including Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Trish Doan (Kittie), Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost), Warrel Dane (Nevermore, Sanctuary), John Wetton (Uriah Heep), David Zablidowsky (Adrenaline Mob, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) and Cherry Taketani (Okotô, Hellsakura, NervoChaos), among several others, not to mention the end of the unmatched Black Sabbath, who we were able to witness live one last time during their farewell tour The End, only the freshness and energy flowing from brand new metal music can give us hope, not allowing Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll to die as many like to prophesy every single year.

Having said that, it’s time to blow our goddamn speakers with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, taming the beast inside us all as wisely said by AC/DC’s heart and soul Malcolm Young (R.I.P.). And as 2017 was the year of bands that cannot be considered dinosaurs in metal (or at least not yet), such as Trivium and Mastodon, that certainly points to a bright future ahead for Heavy Metal with their recent releases because, as you know, we won’t have behemoths like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica kicking ass on stage forever. By the way, this was definitely a fantastic year for Mastodon, who not only released one of the best albums of 2017, the excellent Emperor of Sand, but they also had some extra energy to burn with the classy EP Cold Dark Place, which by the way is part of our top 10 EP’s of the year (as you’ll see after our top 10/20 list). Alright, without further ado, turn up the volume and enjoy our 2017 list… LET THERE BE ROCK!

1. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence (REVIEW)
A superb album full of fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams.
Best song of the album: Betrayer

2. Kreator – Gods Of Violence (REVIEW)
We shall praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.
Best song of the album: Totalitarian Terror

3. Blaze Bayley – Endure And Survive (REVIEW)
The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date.
Best song of the album: Blood

4. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (REVIEW)
Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in this excellent album of Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Word to the Wise

5. Accept – The Rise of Chaos (REVIEW)
Let total chaos and destruction rise to the sound of the brand new album by the unstoppable Teutonic masters of Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Analog Man

6. Moonspell – 1755 (REVIEW)
An orchestral and emotional concept album that will take you to the year when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.
Best song of the album: Todos Os Santos

7. Striker – Striker (REVIEW)
Canadian Heavy Metal has never been more vibrant and rapturous than this.
Best song of the album: Born To Lose

8. Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu (REVIEW)
Witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war and human society.
Best song of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu

9. Torture Squad – Far Beyond Existence (REVIEW)
Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene.
Best song of the album: Blood Sacrifice

10. Solitary – The Diseased Heart of Society (REVIEW)
Four veteran thrash metallers canalizing all the hatred, degradation and perversions of our modern-day society into their music.
Best song of the album: Architects of Shame

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

11. Karkaos – Children Of The Void (REVIEW)
12. Prometheus – Consumed In Flames (REVIEW)
13. Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (REVIEW)
14. Terrifier – Weapons of Thrash Destruction (REVIEW)
15. Body Count – Bloodlust (REVIEW)
16. Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales (REVIEW)
17. Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (REVIEW)
18. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (REVIEW)
19. Infernäl Mäjesty – No God (REVIEW)
20. Katharos XIII – Negativity (REVIEW)

As aforementioned, we also have for you this year our Top 10 EP’s of 2017, ranging from the most rebellious form of Deathcore to the most melodic type of Symphonic Metal, from visceral Doom Metal to demonic Black Metal, and so on. In addition, those bands hail from all four corner of the earth, proving once again that it doesn’t matter where you go you’ll always be able to find first-class metal music, including all of its genres and subgenres, to please your avid metallic ears.

1. Primal Age – A Silent Wound (REVIEW)
2. Sinners Moon – Far Beyond The Stars (REVIEW)
3. Aversio Humanitatis – Longing for the Untold (REVIEW)
4. Loathfinder – The Great Tired Ones (REVIEW)
5. Ljosazabojstwa – Sychodžańnie (REVIEW)
6. Lorn – Arrayed Claws (REVIEW)
7. Jupiter Hollow – Odyssey (REVIEW)
8. Dö – Astral: Death/Birth (REVIEW)
9. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (REVIEW)
10. Afire – Afire (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2017? If you want to check another awesome list, I highly recommend Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Editorial Staff), a great online publication that we at The Headbanging Moose also contribute to on a regular basis. Also, don’t forget to tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a blazing fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal from all over the world!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2018!

Actually, before all is said and done, here’s for you the 2017 Christmas single from Norwegian Melodic Power Metal project Aldaria called When The Time Has Come, featuring several renowned guest musicians such as Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black),  Lars Rettkowitz (Freedom Call) and Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze), among others, with 100% of all income of this single being donated to Cancer Research. “This is a very important cause for me, as I lost my mother to this horrible disease in 2010. The single will be available across all streaming and digital platforms, and on Aldaria’s official webstore, where you will get a special edition with a lossless audio file, instrumental, high resolution cover art, and lyrics”, commented guitarist Frode Hovd, the mastermind behind Aldaria. Let’s all support such important cause!


Album Review – Butcher Babies / Lilith (2017)

The most dangerous and relentless demons of heavy music return with another crisp, visceral and fun album of present-day Metalcore.

As I said in our Metal Chick of the Month dedicated to the Butcher Babies in October 2016 celebrating three years of The Headbanging Moose, frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey definitely know how to properly rumble, and now with the release of Lilith, their third full-length album, this Los Angeles-based Metalcore act spearheaded by those two gorgeous growlers more than cements their name in modern metal music. And don’t get fooled by their stunning looks, as Heidi and Carla can rip your heart out in the blink of an eye, just to show you how visceral and vibrant their music is.

After the release of the excellent Take It Like A Man, in 2015, an album that’s utterly entertaining from start to finish, fans of the Butcher Babies kept wondering if Heidi and Carla, together with Jason Klein on bass, Henry Flury on guitars and newcomer Chase Brickenden on drums would be able to deliver the same amount of aggressiveness and electricity that led them to play alongside giants like Marilyn Manson, Danzig, Rob Zombie and Cradle of Filth since the band’s inception, and for our total delight Lilith not only kicks some serious ass, but it also brings a more melodic side of the Butcher Babies that add an extra layer of intricacy and quality to their always fun compositions.

Now simply hit play and feel the metallic riffs by Henry crushing your skull before the dynamic duo Heidei and Carla begin their growling feast in Burn the Straw Man, not only a circle pit-generator with a catchy chorus and pure rage flowing from all instruments, but also a fantastic choice for opening their live concerts in full force. Following that flawless start we have the title-track Lilith, bringing their trademark ferocity infused with more melodic lines (mainly found in their cleaner vocals), with Chase proving why he was chosen to be the band’s new drummer; and Headspin, an almost-radio-friendly tune presenting a heavy but extremely sexy rhythm that will put you to dance and sing along with the band. Moreover, as a “bonus” the song got a lustful official video that deals with virtual reality (aka virtual sex) that’s definitely worth a watch. And in Korova the band gets back to a more underground Metalcore sonority, with Henry, Jason and Chase doing a solid job by supporting the screams by Carla and Heidi, all boosted by the song’s absolutely addictive chorus.

The beyond electrified #Iwokeuplikethis offers pure madness blasted by the entire band, with Chase sounding beastly on drums while our charming screamers fire some demented gnarls and deep growls nonstop. Things slow down a bit in The Huntsman, a dark Metalcore semi-ballad with hints of Alternative and Groove Metal which never really takes off despite the awesome rumbling bass lines by Jason, but everything returns to normal (if the Butcher Babies can be called “normal”) in Controller, a song that can be considered “old school Butcher Babies” by presenting all elements that made them famous in heavy music. Furthermore, its groovy and metallic tones are tailored for jumping up and down and breaking our necks headbanging with the band. And Oceana is another shot of insanity by Heidi and Carla, with the first firing her more strident screeches while the latter keeps growling deeper and deeper. In addition, Henry nails it with his crisp riffs, increasing the impact of the song to our ears.

In Look What We’ve Done we have more of their more melodic and commercial version (which means it should receive some decent air play in several radio stations), with both girls kicking ass with their potent clean vocals. And although they’re also great when singing smoother songs, I personally prefer their more enraged mode like what happens in POMONA (Shit Happens), a song that will cause some serious bruises inside the circle pit. Both girls sound demented throughout the entire song led by the frantic riffs and beats by Henry and Chase, respectively, turning it into one of the best songs of the whole album. And Underground and Overrated, the closing tune in Lilith, will pierce your ears with Henry’s cutting guitar riffs and solos and Heidi and Carla’s hellish screams. This is what I would call a “festival song”, being more than perfect for those open air festivals that happen all over Europe and North America during the summer.

Lilith might be known as a dangerous demon of the night who is sexually wanton (and who steals babies in the darkness), but from now on she will also be known as the Butcher Babies’ bitch, because no woman in metal can top Heidi and Carla in terms of stamina, fury and passion for the more alternative side of Heavy Metal. If I were you, I would certainly keep an eye on their Facebook page for their tour dates to promote Lilith (which by the way can be purchased through several different platforms, and if you’re lucky enough you might be able to find the Japanese edition with five sick bonus tracks), because as a guy that has already seen Heidi, Carla & Co. live I can assure you their concerts are insanely enjoyable. And needless to say, the Butcher Babies will keep on rocking and showing their love for heavy music until the end as true metalheads that they are.

Best moments of the album: Burn the Straw Man, Headspin, #Iwokeuplikethis and POMONA (Shit Happens).

Worst moments of the album: The Huntsman.

Released in 2017 Century Media

Track listing
1. Burn the Straw Man 4:05
2. Lilith 3:27
3. Headspin 3:32
4. Korova 4:05
5. #Iwokeuplikethis 3:01
6. The Huntsman 3:06
7. Controller 3:04
8. Oceana 3:32
9. Look What We’ve Done 3:35
10. POMONA (Shit Happens) 3:13
11. Underground and Overrated 3:59

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
12. Beer Drinker & Hell Raisers 2:54
13. They’re Coming To Take Me Away 3:16
14. Don’t Give A Fuck 2:22
15. Crazy Horses 2:55
16. Pussy Whipped 2:32

Band members
Heidi Shepherd – vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Henry Flury – guitar
Jason Klein – bass
Chase Brickenden – drums

Album Review – 5 Star Grave / The Red Room (2017)

The six pricks from Hell are back in town, hic sunt the motherfuckers.

This is one of those bands that, as soon as you listen to their flammable music for the very first time, you become addicted to their electricity and rebellious attitude, especially if you’re already a huge fan of the sound by bands like the Misfits, Social Distortion, the Ramones, Minot Threat and so on, but with a heavier and more melodic approach. I’m talking about Italian Melodic Death Metal six-piece wolf pack 5 Star Grave, who have just released a Rock N’ Roll party-catalyst entitled The Red Room, an album that will surely put you to dance, bang your head, slam into the pit, drink a few beers and do everything else we love so much in heavy music. In other words, the six pricks from Hell are back in town, hic sunt the motherfuckers, and there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from them.

Formed in 2005 in Cuneo, a city and comune in Piedmont, Northern Italy, under the name Ground Zero, changing to 5 Star Grave in 2007, the band already released in their decade of existence the full-length albums Corpse Breed Syndrome, in 2008, and Drugstore Hell, in 2012, as well as a single with a cover version for one of the biggest hits by the Ramones, the classic Pet Sematary, before releasing The Red Room now in 2017. Bringing forth a weird and fun combination of several styles like traditional Heavy Metal and Punk Rock with industrial atmospheres, the band comprised of frontman Claudio Ravinale (who’s also the lead singer for Death Metal act Disarmonia Mundi and Industrial Metal outfit The Silverblack), bassist Andrea Minolfi, guitarists Thierry Bertone and Alessandro Blengino, keyboardist Hervè De Zulian and drummer Domenico Fazzari aims at charging the listener with their relentless hardcore/horror punk-influenced metal highly inspired by the golden years of 80’s metal and shock rock, which they more than achieve with The Red Room.

Wicked noises are suddenly joined by the slashing riffs by Thierry and Alessandro in the opening track, beautifully titled Hic Sunt The Motherfuckers, with Hervè and his keys giving it a futuristic aura. Moreover, this amazing tune brings forward the two main characteristics of Melodic Death Metal, those being aggressiveness and harmony, helping the band in breaking down the walls in fantastic fashion. Following that superb start we have the also whimsical and modern Eat You Alive, where Claudio screams like a maniac supported by the potent backing vocals by Andrea, not to mention the song’s fiery guitar solos and catchy chorus; and Once Upon A Time, with Claudio sounding even more demented on vocals, enhancing the song’s impact while Domenico smashes his drums with tons of dexterity, being highly recommended for admirers of modern and alternative music.

The Ballad Of The Vampire is not a ballad at all, but an ode to the fusion of Heavy Metal, Punk Rock and Hardcore blasted by bands like the Misfits, a fast-paced and electrifying hymn showcasing great performances by Claudio and Domenico that will set their live concerts on fire without a shadow of a doubt, while in Alice the keys by Hervè make it sound more melodic and consequently less violent than the other tunes, but still a heavier-than-usual version of punk music perfect for an insane rockin’ party with its guitars burning our ears nonstop. And adding progressiveness to their high-octane Rock N’ Roll sonority, 5 Star Grave offer us Through The Eyes Of The Monster, where Thierry and Alessandro steal the spotlight with their sick riffs while Hervè brings a touch of lunacy with his synths. Put differently, it’s quite impossible to stand still to this explosion of modern metal music.

And those guys definitely know how to blend the music by the Misfits with modern Metalcore like what can be seen in He Never Died, which means you should start banging your head and screaming together with the band as the party doesn’t have a time to end. In Hell On Heels, a mid-tempo rockin’ tune with hints of Southern Rock, we have an acoustic intro as a variation to their trademark rowdy sounding, and at this point of the album you’ll realize 5 Star Grave cannot craft bad music; whereas For Better Or Worse sounds like the soundtrack to a demented circus act, again inspired by old school punk and metal. In addition, the strident sound of guitars increases the song’s temperature quite a bit, with Domenico taking the lead with his spot-on beats. And before all is said and done we have a semi-ballad entitled There Is No Heaven, which despite presenting their rumbling sounds and growls is slightly below the rest of the album in terms of creativity. Actually, to be fair I wouldn’t consider that a problem at all, as the other songs of the album are way too awesome.

In a nutshell, grab your leather jacket, your fighting boots, make sure the beer is crisp and cold, put on your warrior makeup or mask, and join the uncontrollable party held by 5 Star Grave in The Red Room by following them on Facebook, by listening to their music on YouTube, SoundCloud and Spotify, and by purchasing this excellent album of modern metal music on BandCamp, on iTunes or on Amazon. And after having The Red Room on your hands, simply hit play and get the party started, motherfuckers.

Best moments of the album: Hic Sunt The Motherfuckers, The Ballad Of The Vampire and Through The Eyes Of The Monster.

Worst moments of the album: There Is No Heaven.

Released in 2017 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Hic Sunt The Motherfuckers 4:14
2. Eat You Alive 4:17
3. Once Upon A Time 3:58
4. The Ballad Of The Vampire 1:43
5. Alice 4:03
6. Through The Eyes Of The Monster 3:39
7. He Never Died 3:00
8. Hell On Heels 4:16
9. For Better Or Worse 4:36
10. There Is No Heaven 4:20

Band members
Claudio Ravinale – vocals
Andrea Minolfi – bass, vocals
Thierry Bertone – guitars
Alessandro Blengino – guitars
Hervè De Zulian – synth
Domenico Fazzari – drums

Album Review – Aske / Broken Vow EP (2017)

A short, dark and acid sample of the new phase by an up-and-coming Brazilian Extreme Metal duo, pointing to a bright future ahead of them.

Forged by bassist Filipe Salvini and guitarist Lucas Duarte in 2009 in the city of São Carlos, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and being deeply rooted in classic extreme music styles, Brazilian Black/Death Metal act Aske has been making a name for themselves since their inception due to the high quality and originality of their music, playing in several local festivals and being invited to record the opening song for a Brazilian music program named Arte Extrema (with the single “Alcoholic Audition”). Now in 2017 Aske kick off a new phase in their career with a very cohesive and obscure EP named Broken Vow, pointing to a bright future ahead for the duo.

After releasing their debut demo in 2009 named A Dawn to Ruin, followed by another demo titled Scars from the Whip in 2014 and their first full-length album Once…, releases in 2015, Aske return with a different sonority due to a considerable lineup change, but still extremely loyal to their foundations in Broken Vow. The artwork in their new EP was conceived by photographer and designer Ayla de Lilith and bassist (and now also vocalist) Filipe Salvini himself, who commented that “our band has been through a short period of adaptation in the past few months, and we thought a new release with a few original songs would be a nice way to keep ourselves honest in our production process and ideal for us to get ready for a bigger future”. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Eugenio Stefane at 1979 Estúdio, Broken Vow brings to us metallers three brand new songs by Aske, a cover song for an underground classic by American group Pentagram, and a remastered version to one of their previous songs, released in 2016, as a bonus track, and as unique as all tracks in the EP might sound they all make sense when put together as you’ll be able to see.

The groovy and piercing guitars by Lucas ignite the dark and melodic tune Meadows in Shade, a solid display of underground Death and Black Metal where Filipe showcases his vocal abilities as the band’s new growler, delivering anger and obscurity with his raspy gnarls, whereas the blast beats and cutting riffs in the kick-ass Death Metal onslaught Menschwerdung (German for “incarnation”) will penetrate deep inside your mind, sounding truly bestial and aggressive from start to finish. Furthermore, Filipe increases the savagery flowing from his growling while at the same time punching us in the head with his bass lines. Then in Broken Vows we’re treated to a more metallic and modern version to one of Pentagram’s cult songs(check the original version HERE), where both Filipe and Lucas are precise with their strings, and with Filipe also powerfully darkening the original vocal lines by the iconic Bobby Liebling.

Mardi Gras, the first single released in this new phase of the band, is another heavy-as-hell blast of Death Metal with some more Stygian elements from Black Metal, with highlights to the pounding riffs by Lucas. And, as aforementioned, as a bonus we have the audio of the official video for the song Übermensch (German for “superman”), originally released in their 2016 album Once… with previous lead singer Paulo Roberto still on vocals (as well as Luciano Galhardo on guitars and Renato Lourenço on drums). As a matter of fact, although their past formation feels more blackened than their current sonority, in my humble opinion both “versions” of Aske sound amazing.

What are you waiting for to know more about Aske? Go check what this Brazilian duo is up to on Facebook, listen to their music on YouTube, and buy your copy of Broken Vow (which can be enjoyed in full on Spotify) at the band’s own BandCamp page (and soon at the Sangue Frio Records’ webstore). After such strong EP, let’s wait and see what Filipe and Lucas will have for us next, and by that I mean we can surely expect a high-quality full-length album of extreme music hailing from Brazil, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Menschwerdung.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Sangue Frio Records

Track listing
1. Meadows in Shade 3:58
2. Menschwerdung 3:45
3. Broken Vows (Pentagram cover) 4:30
4. Mardi Gras 3:06
5. Übermensch (Video Version) 2:53

Band members
Filipe Salvini – vocals, bass
Lucas Duarte – guitars

Album Review – Antipope / Denial/Survival (2017)

Bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s, this Finnish act returns from a four-year hiatus to offer us all their music in its most uncompromising form.

As a nice Christmas gift to all readers of The Headbanging Moose, I have for you today Denial/Survival, the fourth full-length album by Finnish Progressive Black Metal trinity Antipope, whose music is according to the band itself a free expression of whatever styles, themes or moods might be needed to relate the particular message to the listener. Although the band is considered by many as Black Metal, the name Antipope stands for liberation from any and all dogmas and renouncement of intellectual and ideological authorities, being the soundtrack for self-discovery, death and rebirth.

Formed in 2004 in the city of Oulu, the band comprised of founder Mikko Myllykangas on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar and programming, Antti J. Karjalainen on guitars and Tuska E. on drums returns from a four-year hiatus with Denial/Survival, presenting their characteristic style of bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s. Combining elements of Extreme Metal, Melodic Death Metal and even a bit of Flamenco, and featuring an imposing artwork by Finnish artist Tiina Kaakkuriniemi, Denial/Survival will offer you the music of Antipope in its most uncompromising form, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time while listening to such diverse album of extreme music.

In the opening track, titled Waters Below, we already face the multi-layered music by the trio, with an instrumental beginning that goes on for about two minutes before devastation arrives through the hellish growls by Mikko in a rhythmic and epic display of modern Black Metal; followed by Flat Circle, which presents hints of Atmospheric Black Metal infused in their more straightforward Scandinavian Extreme Metal. Moreover, Tuska does a solid job going from a more progressive style to visceral blast beats that live up to the legacy of Black Metal. And in the title-track Denial/Survival the band speeds up their pace and distills their venom through their austere words (“I woke up in the land of denial / It’s true the guilt is all you care for / Seeing you and the rest of your kind / Wallowing in self-pity and mutual rape”) in a true headbanging hymn perfect for cracking your spinal cord, which obviously translates into one of the top moments of the album.

The ominous, darkened instrumental bridge Der Sadist sets the tone for the even more obscure Black Metal chant Hunt, with the mid-tempo beats by Tuska being effectively blended with the crisp guitar lines by Antti, sounding more introspective and melancholic than the rest of the album. Then get ready to be smashed by the futuristic and melodic (but still very raw) onrush of extreme music named True Anarchist, sounding at times like Marilyn Manson, with Antti once again firing his captivating riffs, before the atmospheric and ominous creation Mindlessness Meditation brings forward cavernous bass lines by Mikko, who darkly declaims the song’s cryptic lyrics.

An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness, a slow-paced chant that could actually be used to summon an evil entity, presents words that sound and fell infernal (“This is how it begins, the last phase / A thousand step descent into the unknown / The words extend the rays of light / From the shadows a new mind”), whereas in Tragic Vision we can feel their music growing in intensity as time passes by, with Mikko and Antti making a great guitar duo by blasting some wicked riffs. Furthermore, the whole song has a touch of epicness that makes it very exciting to listen to, not to mention Tuska’s galloping beats in perfect sync with his bandmates’ stringed weapons. And as the closing song of the album Antipope deliver what is also the longest of all tunes, entitled Resolution, which could easily be used in the soundtrack for a slasher flick or a Tarantino-style movie, helping the album stand out among other extreme bands for its versatility and innovative approach.

I’m certain that, after listening to Denial/Survival, you’ll be more than curious to know more about Antipope and their distinct career, and in order to do that simply go check what Mikko & Co. are up to on Facebook, watch to their classy videos on YouTube and listen to their music on Spotify, and purchase the album through their BandCamp page or on iTunes. There’s nothing better than celebrating Christmas with some nice extreme music made in Finland, a country where Santa Claus is supposed to live (in the cold and charming Lapland, the largest and northernmost region of the country), so don’t waste your time and go show your support to this very interesting underground act. Well, if you don’t do so, I guess Santa will have to cross “somebody’s” name from his list next year.

Best moments of the album: Denial/Survival, Hunt and Tragic Vision.

Worst moments of the album: Flat Circle.

Released in 2017 Antipope/TCM Entertainment

Track listing
1. Waters Below 5:25
2. Flat Circle 5:40
3. Denial/Survival 5:06
4. Der Sadist 3:22
5. Hunt 7:08
6. True Anarchist 4:23
7. Mindlessness Meditation 4:34
8. An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness 5:29
9. Tragic Vision 4:25
10. Resolution 7:13

Band members
Mikko Myllykangas – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, programming
Antti J. Karjalainen – guitars
Tuska E. – drums

Album Review – The Earth And I / The Candleman (2017)

Close your eyes and enjoy the first of two sister albums by this talented American band, introducing you to their unique fusion of groove-oriented sounds and captivating storytelling lyrics.

Playing a mix of groovy, moody, syncopated metal and more upbeat, accessible rock tunes inspired by bands like Periphery, Animals as Leaders and TesseracT, American Progressive Rock/Metal metallers The Earth And I (also known as TEAI, pronounced /tay/) are releasing their debut full-length album, titled The Candleman, the first of two sister albums (with the second one, named The Curtain, being scheduled for an early 2018 release). Featuring seven tracks through the course of 35 minutes, The Candleman will not only introduce you to the world of TEAI, but present to you in great fashion their unique music heavily focused on a fusion of groove-oriented sounds and captivating storytelling lyrics.

Formed in 2013 in the city of Warwick, New York, in the United States by guitarists Daniel Siew and Liam Zintz-Kunkel, drummer Suss Mackenzie and bassist Nick Petromilli, who were later joined by neo-soul vocalist Kendyle Wolven in 2017, TEAI aim at filling a serious need in the Progressive Metal world for non-operatic female vocals with The Candleman and The Curtain. Displaying a minimalist and classy artwork designed by the band’s own guitarist Daniel Siew, The Candleman definitely succeeds in bringing that vocal variation desired by TEAI to their metal music, effectively helping the band make a name for themselves in underground Progressive and Groove Metal.

The beautifully-titled atmospheric intro The Lake Under the Desert warms up the listener for the groovy and thunderous I. CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone), a powerful tune where Daniel, Liam and Nick create a wave of rumbling sounds with their strings, setting the stage for the mesmerizing vocals by Kendyle to shine brighter than the sun. Moreover, the song brings moments of hope flawlessly blended with passages full of anger, resulting in a full-bodied Progressive Metal experience for our senses enhanced by its poetic lyrics (“In the harbor, / the ship had turned to stone. / They watched from the Belfry, / long bones, and cold and unsound, / their skin drawn tight / over emaciated forms.”). Then in II. Little Frames, a more obscure, introspective creation by TEAI, the fiery Kendyle keeps blasting her potent vocals in a beautiful paradox with the harsh growls by Nick, with the musicality alternating between more technical Progressive Metal and rowdy Groove Metal. Put differently, simply close your eyes and let this feast of contrasting sounds penetrate deep inside your soul.

In the interesting And Now for a Slight Departure the band adds elements from Ska and Punk to their music, creating an upbeat vibe led by the high-pitched vocals by Kendyle and the rhythmic and precise beats by Adam, resulting in what can be considered a  more “radio-friendly” version of TEAI; while in Sugar High they get back to a darker sonority, with Daniel, Liam and Nick once again doing an amazing job with their axes, sounding like the bastard son of Dream Theater with Evanescence, but also presenting elements from Alternative Metal and Hard Rock to spice things up a bit.

Then as a break from all their groovy and wicked sounds TEAI offer us all a serene ballad named The Hollow Deluge, with Kendyle passionately (and effectively) declaiming its pensive words (“I stand before the most cloudy of waters. / I survey the scene with reserved apprehension. / There’s something not right here, like I’ve been here before. / It’s strangely familiar. / It’s almost uncomfortably comfortable.”), all boosted by the electricity that rises in the last part of the song, flowing into a climatic ending. And as the icing on the cake we have Skies Like Fences, bringing forward over 7 minutes of intricate drumming, metallic and extremely groovy bass lines, flammable guitar solos, deranged growls and endless energy, or in other words, an extravaganza of Progressive Metal once again led by Kendyle and her charming voice.

You can enjoy The Candleman in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify, follow TEAI on Facebook, and buy your favorite version of the album through the band’s own BandCamp or webstore (in digipak or MP3 format, as well as on iTunes and on Amazon. In a nutshell, TEAI set the bar really high for themselves with The Candleman, but of course if they keep doing what they’re capable of in The Curtain next year, which is delivering high-end metal with a strong progressive vein, I’m sure all of us fans of Progressive Metal will be more than happy when their second album is released, just like how we are now with The Candleman.

Best moments of the album: I. CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone) and Skies Like Fences.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Lake Under the Desert 0:56
2. I. CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone) 4:34
3. II. Little Frames 8:35
4. And Now for a Slight Departure 4:05
5. Sugar High 4:06
6. The Hollow Deluge 5:01
7. Skies Like Fences 7:37

Band members
Kendyle Wolven – lead vocals
Daniel Siew – guitar, vocals
Liam Zintz-Kunkel – guitar
Nick Petromilli – bass, vocals
Adam Susskind – drums

Album Review – Devilfire / Dark Manoeuvres (2017)

An electrifying lesson in how to set (devil) fire to a Rock N’ Roll party by five indomitable British musicians.

It’s said that some of the greatest bands of our time have been forged on the road, and British Melodic Hard Rock act Devilfire is no exception to that, brought into being in Birmingham, England during a studio session in 2013 when producer and singer Alex Cooper (Shy, Spike of the Quireboys, Ginger) was working with Uli Jon Roth drummer Lars Wickett, revealing to him his plan for a Birmingham-based Melodic Rock band. After 3 years of planning and writing, things finally fell into place in 2016, when the band (at that time known as Devilstar) was offered to open for Tarja Turunen during her Eastern European tour in the beginning of 2017, blasting their flammable music to rock and metal fans from places like Hungary, Romania, Greece and Turkey, as well as to a sold out festival crowd at Hard Rock Hell AOR 2017 in the UK as the icing on the cake.

And the year of 2017 couldn’t have been better for this five-piece act formed by Alex Cooper on vocals, Baz Blackett and Kieran Topp on the guitars, Dan Bate on bass and Lars Wickett on drums, as they’re ready to conquer the world with their debut album Dark Manoeuvres, released in the beginning of October. Mixed by acclaimed producer Romesh Dodangoda (Motörhead, Bring Me The Horizon, Bullet For My Valentine) and co-produced by Romesh and Devilfire frontman Alex Cooper at Long Wave Studios in Cardiff, Dark Manoeuvres is a mammoth 13-track album calling on several distinct influences with a darker melodic sound, pushing the boundaries of Rock N’ Roll while at the same time remaining loyal to their British roots.

Rock N’ Roll is in the air with the smooth sonic waves blasted by Devilfire in the opening tune Ready For War?, an excellent business card delivered by the band presenting an 80’s-inspired vibe led by the passionate, raspy vocals by Alex, followed by She’s Like Fire, a born-to-be-a-classic of underground Hard Rock where they speed up (and spice up) things considerably, perfect for dancing the night away with whoever you want to the sound of its catchy chorus and the precise beats by Lars. More melodic and romantic, (In and Out of Love) All of the Time is a potent display of classic 80’s Hard Rock,  a song for all rockin’ girls out there energized by the fiery guitars by Baz and Kieran; whereas Waiting For a Rockstar, a mid-tempo chant with a fun story told by Alex, brings hints of symphonic elements in the background to make it even more impactful, turning it into a serious candidate for becoming one of the band’s biggest hits.

In Lay It On the Line, a semi-ballad with the band’s characteristic approach, we’re treated to harmonious guitars and beats while Alex keeps firing his sharp vocal lines, reminding me of some of the old tunes by Motley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Poison, among other classics, while Kill Your Love is another awesome composition by this talented quintet, sounding faster and more violent than its predecessors (but still very melodic). Hence, this fantastic song could be played on any radio station all over the world, showcasing addictive vocals and soulful guitar solos and, therefore, being captivating form start to finish. Tear Me Apart is that kind of generic ballad that, despite having its good moments, is below the rest of the album in terms of creativity and complexity, albeit still displaying the band’s trademark guitar solos and overall solid melody. Fortunately, the band gets back on track in God Give Me Vengeance, a song to do the famous “air-drumming” together with Lars due to its catchy rhythm, presenting a fusion of modern Hard Rock with old school Rock N’ Roll boosted by touches of symphonic sounds.

Baz and Kieran are joined by Dan and his bass for an onrush of slashing strings and rumbling sounds in Devil In Your Eyes, tailored for fans of old school Hair Metal and Hard Rock, before the entire band comes crushing with the underground hit (You Gotta) Revolution, blending the classic sonority of bands like Van Halen with the rebelliousness of Motley Crüe, with Lex being flawlessly supported by the song’s elegant and potent backing vocals. Put differently, if Devilfire don’t play this song live, we riot. Anyway, She’s Always On the Run is another average ballad that doesn’t do any good nor any harm to the album, feeling like filler despite being one of their first ever songs recorded; however, for our total delight their upbeat musicality returns in great 80’s fashion in A Thousand Times, a song that made me think that if I didn’t know it was recorded now in 2017, I surely might have thought it was recorded back in 1980 something by a veteran Hard Rock band, mainly due to its beyond classic combination of vocals and backing vocals. And lastly we have the melancholic Somehow, which in my humble opinion is how the band should always sound when writing ballads, avoiding being cheesy or predictable. Quite the contrary, it’s very introspective, pleasant and deep, and consequently an interesting way to conclude the album without being literally electrified, but still feeling electrifying.

How can you put your hands on such top-tier album of Hard Rock, you might be asking yourself, right? Well, that’s easier than you can imagine, as Dark Manoeuvres is on sale at the band’s webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. And in order to show your proper support to Alex, Lars and Co., simply go check the band’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and Spotify for news, tour dates and all other things Devilfire. Dark Manoeuvres is a lesson in how to set fire to any Rock N’ Roll party in the world, and if I were you I wouldn’t miss that celebration for anything.

Best moments of the album: She’s Like Fire, Waiting For a Rockstar, Kill Your Love and (You Gotta) Revolution.

Worst moments of the album: Tear Me Apart and She’s Always On the Run.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Ready For War? 3:07
2. She’s Like Fire 3:22
3. (In and Out of Love) All of the Time 3:33
4. Waiting For a Rockstar 4:10
5. Lay It On the Line 5:09
6. Kill Your Love 3:51
7. Tear Me Apart 4:00
8. God Give Me Vengeance 4:52
9. Devil In Your Eyes 3:10
10. (You Gotta) Revolution 4:58
11. She’s Always On the Run 3:49
12. A Thousand Times 4:31
13. Somehow 2:59

Band members
Alex Cooper – vocals
Baz Blackett – guitar
Kieran Topp – guitar
Dan Bate – bass
Lars Wickett – drums

Album Review – Amentia / Scourge (2017)

After six years of silence, this Belarusian Death Metal squad is finally back in action to dismantle our bodies and souls with 33 minutes of extreme dexterity and utter rage.

Initially created as a studio project in 2003 by Alex Goron, bass player for Belarusian band Posthumous Blasphemer, Minsk-based Technical Death Metal four-piece beast Amentia is finally awake from hibernation after six years of silence to dismantle our bodies and souls with their third full-length installment, the brutal Scourge. Comprised of seven relentless original compositions tailored for killing our brain cells with each second of their sound by bringing forward fast and furious riffs, machine gun bursts of drum fills and blast beats and demonic soul-destroying vocals, Scourge lives up to the band’s name, leaving you with a severe mental impairment after banging your head nonstop like a maniac to its 33 minutes of extreme dexterity and utter rage.

Featuring members of Posthumous Blasphemer, Deathbringer, Disloyal and Thy Disease, and being strongly recommended for fans of bands like Suffocation, The Faceless and Meshuggah, Amentia already released in their underground career the split EP Mind Degradation in 2006, and the full-length albums Burn to Hate, in 2007, and Incurable Disease, in 2011, but it’s now in 2017 with newcomers Valery “Vile” Toothgrinder and Zubov on vocals that the group has reached a whole new level of brutality with their music. Displaying an ominous cover artwork by Mayhem Project Art, Scourge is not only the epitome of modern and technical Death Metal, but a solid statement by Amentia telling the world the band is back in action and they’re thirstier for blood than ever.

In the opening track, an amazing display of Technical Death Metal perfect for breaking our spine in half headbanging titled Kill Me, the quartet begins firing sheer brutality through their razor-edged instruments, in special Alex with his demented beats and Artyom with his lancinating guitar solos, whereas in I Don’t Believe their violent and rhythmic sounds keep invading our ears mercilessly, with the level of intricacy found in this sea of savagery in the form of music being astounding. In addition, the deep growling by Vile sounds beyond cavernous, which together with the also menacing guitar and bass turn this song into a must-listen for fans of the genre. And then we have the infernal tune Anorexia, with its first part being an instrumental feast of contemporary Death Metal led by Alex and his amazing drums, supported by the always cutting guitars by Artyom, before Vile returns with his bestial roars in another lesson in violence by Amentia.

Vile and Zubov sound like two enraged monsters in the visceral chant named Slow Decay, with its frantic beats and riffs being in total sync with their devilish gnarls (not to mention Alex’s pounding bass punches), followed by Noble Death, a song that brings more up-to-date elements of extreme music and tons of progressiveness where the sound of guitars strenuously slashes our senses so heavy and metallic it sounds, while Vile keeps barking and growling like a rabid gorilla for the delight of us fans of old school Death Metal. And if you think their slaughterhouse of Death Metal is over you’re absolutely wrong, as you’ll have to face Amentia once again in the high-octane ode to bestiality titled Sentence Executioner, ignited by the cutting riffs by Artyom and a furious growl by Vile, feeling like a hellish version of Dream Theater with a demon on vocals, with highlights to the fantastic job done once again by Alex on both bass and drums. And without a single second of peace, this Belorusian squad delivers another explosion of Technical Death Metal named Paranoia, showcasing crisp guitar solos and nonstop savagery, as well as a duel of gargantuan harsh growls by Vile and Zubov.  The band keeps punching us in the head throughout the entire song with their blackened sounding, resulting in the perfect conclusion for such ruthless album of extreme music.

If you have the guts to confront this boisterous joint of Belarusian metallers and their demolishing Death Metal, you can take a full listen at Scourge on YouTube, follow them on Facebook and on VKontakte, and buy your copy of the album at Amentia’s BandCamp page, at the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, or at Discogs. I just hope Amentia do not take another six years to release a new album, and that they keep blasting our ears with their action-packed Death Metal over and over again for many years yet to come.

Best moments of the album: I Don’t Believe, Anorexia and Sentence Executioner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Satanath Records/Amputated Vein Records

Track listing
1. Kill Me 4:50
2. I Don’t Believe 4:28
3. Anorexia 4:35
4. Slow Decay 4:27
5. Noble Death 4:05
6. Sentence Executioner 5:09
7. Paranoia 5:48

Band members
Vile – scream
Zubov – esophagus
Artyom – guitars
Alex – bass, drums

Album Review – At Dawn’s Edge / Through Glass Eyes (2017)

An excellent debut album by a Canadian trinity that loves to experiment with several aspects from distinct music styles, incorporating all those nuances and vibes into their core Melodic Metal.

Hailing from Mississauga, a city of around 800,000 people that’s part of the culturally diverse Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, here comes Melodic Metal trinity At Dawn’s Edge, a band that, albeit being rooted in the more aggressive qualities of metal, especially the core elements found in Melodic, Symphonic and Groove Metal, loves to explore new grounds and experiment with several aspects from distinct styles such as Flamenco, Electronic and Middle-Eastern sounds, incorporating all those nuances and vibes into one cohesive piece of music. That amalgamation of metal and non-metal genres culminated now in 2017 with the release of their debut full-length album, entitled Through Glass Eyes, highly recommended for fans of the music by bands like Epica, Evanescence and Nightwish, among many others.

The trio comprised of newcomer Tamara Filipovic as the band’s frontwoman and founding members Alexandru Oprea and Matt Ozzy on guitars were joined in Through Glass Eyes by a respectful group of guest musicians, with Spencer Creaghan taking care of the orchestral arrangements found throughout the entire album, Chris McConnell making a passionate vocal duo with Tamara on “Amorina”, and James Hayes adding an extra touch of delicacy to the songs “Cálida Brisa”, “Utter” and “Forgotten Isle” with his incredible violin solos, not to mention the talented drummer Marcus Sisk, who has been supporting the band during their live performances. In addition, three tracks in Through Glass Eyes (those being “Venus’s Rapture,” “Utter” and “From the Ashes”) were part of the band’s 2015 EP named First Contact, still with vocalist Ashavari Anna Joshi, but completely re-recorded with Tamara on vocals and boosted by a sharper and more thunderous production.

Where Do I Begin? Well, that’s the question proposed by the band in this instrumental intro led by potent bass sounds blended with electronic elements, building the stage for the groovy and melodic riffs by Alex and Matt in If Ghosts Were Men, with Tamara bringing epicness to the music with her mesmerizing voice, inviting the listener to the world of passion, adventure and high-end Heavy Metal brought forth by At Dawn’s Edge. In Sightless, rumbling sounds keep flowing from guitars and bass while Tamara keeps thriving on vocals, with the song’s pounding drums fusing perfectly with all orchestrations and electronic vibes. Moreover, it’s quite impressive how At Dawn’s Edge can sound extremely metallic but also commercially approachable at the same time, which is also the case in Venus’s Rapture, where the band speeds up their pace considerably, reminding me of the melodic sonority by Epica and Nightwish but presenting the band’s own twist and groove. In other words, this is a perfect choice for their live setlists, setting the crowd on fire with the exciting contrast between Alex and Matt’s slashing riffs with Tamara’s gentle voice.

Dangerous Excuses brings a hybrid of Progressive and Melodic Metal, as if Epica went Dream Theater, a more traditional approach to modern music by At Dawn’s Edge (despite losing its grip after a while) where guitars and orchestral elements take turns in leading the musicality; followed by Cálida Brisa (Interlude), an interesting instrumental bridge featuring elements from Mother Nature blended with hints of Flamenco, topped off with a beautiful violin solo by James, and Amorina, a song that presents elements from Folk Metal blended with Middle-Eastern nuances, flowing smoothly form start to finish while Tamara and Chris have their “beauty and the beast” moments. Then showcasing their most metallic vein we have Nightmare Reality, one of the heaviest and most intricate of all songs, bringing elements from Alternative Metal the likes of Evanescence fused together with the more symphonic sounds from Epica, with the strings by both Alex and Matt sounding sharper than ever.

Utter is another elegant display of modern and vibrant Symphonic Metal infused with hints of several other metal and non-metal styles as well as some orchestrations, also offering more of the band’s solid guitar solos and again featuring a classy violin solo by James, whereas in From The Ashes we’re treated to an epic vibe with tons of modernity and progressiveness thanks to the amazing job done by Matt and Alex on guitars, setting the tone for Tamara to steal the spotlight with her stunning vocals once again. And there’s still a lot more to go in Through Glass Eyes, starting with Evil Flamingo, one of the darkest compositions of the album where Tamara sets fire to the musicality with her powerful performance, enhanced by the crisp solos by Matt and Alex and a puissant wall of sounds created by both bass and drums. In Forgotten Isle, James’ violin strikes again in another feast of symphonic, progressive and groovy tones and reverberations, before the bonus track Dead Ashore We Lay concludes the album by offering the listener almost 9 minutes of the band’s sophisticated music, exhaling inventiveness, romance and electricity.

In a nutshell, as previously mentioned it’s simply amazing how At Dawn’s Edge were capable of drawing influences from so many distinct types of music, putting all of them together and creating fresh and captivating metal in Through Glass Eyes without sounding cheesy, convoluted or over the top. Hence, you can get more details on the band, their music and why and how their creative process works so well by following them on Facebook, listening to their music on YouTube and on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing Through Glass Eyes through their BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. I believe the band’s next steps will be to spread their music all over the world, touring as much as possible not only in the Greater Toronto Area but also in the rest of Canada, in the US and even overseas, and Through Glass Eyes is certainly the right type of fuel they need to reach all those places and succeed in their career, having what it takes to please all types of fans of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: If Ghosts Were Men, Venus’s Rapture, Nightmare Reality and Evil Flamingo.

Worst moments of the album: Dangerous Excuses.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Where Do I Begin? (Intro) 0:51
2. If Ghosts Were Men 4:43
3. Sightless 3:36
4. Venus’s Rapture 3:35
5. Dangerous Excuses 6:17
6. Cálida Brisa (Interlude) 2:37
7. Amorina 4:17
8. Nightmare Reality 3:51
9. Utter 5:55
10. From The Ashes 6:25
11. Evil Flamingo 5:13
12. Forgotten Isle 6:25

Bonus track
13. Dead Ashore We Lay 8:49

Band members
Tamara Filipovic – vocals
Alexandru Oprea – guitars
Matt Ozzy – guitars

Guest musicians
Spencer Creaghan – orchestral arrangements
Chris McConnell – male vocals on “Amorina”
James Hayes – violin solo on “Cálida Brisa”, “Utter” and “Forgotten Isle”
Marcus Sisk – drums (live)

Album Review – Mastodon / Cold Dark Place EP (2017)

Fill your ears with more of the dark, classy and crisp music by one of the biggest names of contemporary metal as their anticipated Christmas gift for you.

Three songs recorded during the sessions for their 2014 album Once More ‘Round the Sun, and another song recorded during the Emperor of Sand sessions in 2017. That was the anticipated Christmas gift American Progressive/Sludge Metal act Mastodon gave us all metalheads by the end of September, when they released a gloomy (and somehow charming) EP titled Cold Dark Place. Displaying an obscure and totally fantastic artwork by British illustrator Richey Beckett, the EP comprised of the songs “North Side Star”, “Blue Walsh” and “Cold Dark Place” (from the Once More ‘Round the Sun sessions) and “Toe to Toes” (from the Emperor of Sand sessions) presents to the listener a more melancholic and introspective side of Mastodon, but still bringing all the dexterity and characteristic punch delivered by the talented Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor.

In one of his interviews about the EP, Bill commented that “When we recorded ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’, three of the four songs were songs that Brent had mostly written. We all kind of arrange everything together as a band, but they were very heavily Brent songs; he wrote the music for ’em and Brann wrote the lyrics, and the rest of us played on it. And I think with ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’, we had, like, 15, 16 songs, and we’re, like… Anything over an hour or… 52 minutes is, like, our cutoff time with records; we don’t wanna make records any longer than that. So what we thought was these songs, they kind of sound like they belong together; they don’t exactly sound like they’d go on ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’. ‘Why don’t we take those and put them out as an EP later on down the road?’ We didn’t feel like they were completely finished or mixed or whatever. We wanted to kind of… We didn’t wanna rush it. So, ‘Let’s just wait. And we’ll put those out at a later time.’ The song ‘Toe To Toes’ was from the ‘Emperor Of Sand’ sessions. And I’m glad we didn’t put it on that record, ’cause that record’s great — it’s great the way it is. I mean, it could have maybe been better with that song on it, but it’s cool to take that song and add it to the ‘Cold Dark Place’ EP.”

Peace and melancholy permeate the air in the first track of the EP, North Side Star, with beautiful guitar lines by both Bill and Brent leading the musicality, while Brann is precise with his smooth but impactful drumming. Moreover, its vocal lines also display a whimsical sense of sadness, with the music growing in intensity and speed halfway through it, showcasing amazing guitar solos and an electrifying vibe. Then we have Blue Walsh, a song that follows a similar dark pattern as the opening track, also bringing their trademark progressiveness and the multi-layered vocal wall built by all band members. In other words, this is an interesting and gentle journey through the realms of Progressive Metal where Mastodon once again captivate us all with their amazing lyrics (“As we hang from the vine, / we swam on the thin red line. / I’m asleep in the deep, / asleep in the dark black sea. / I call out your name, / all I hear is the pouring rain. / When you came into view, / I realize it’s not you.”).

The insanely good Toe to Toes has such a great feel and pace, with the claps added to the song turning it into something very special for us fans of modern heavy music, you’ll catch yourself clapping your hands together with the band without a shadow of a doubt, not to mention how fantastic what they all do with their vocal pieces is, in special Troy who has a beyond passionate vocal performance complemented by his own powerful bass lines and the song’s upbeat vibe. It’s by far my favorite of the EP, and I’m sure it will become a fan-favorite during their live concerts (if they play anything from the EP in their setlist, of course). And in the closing tune, the title-track Cold Dark Place, a semi-acoustic, introspective composition that presents a darker-than-ever Mastodon, you can feel sorrow and darkness flowing from its cryptic lyrics (“You left my heart, / in some cold dark place, / where your love grows on a vine, / and I see it all the time.”). This song might sound very light compared to their usual sound, but it exhales heaviness and depth, ending with a superb guitar solo as the icing on the cake.

In summary, 2017 was definitely the year of Mastodon. After the superb Emperor of Sand, they still had an ace in the hole with Cold Dark Place, making all their fans even happier than before because, as you know, when you like a band a lot there’s never enough of that band for your ears, right? Now just go complete your collection of Mastodon albums by purchasing Cold Dark Place through your favorite music service, stay tuned for their live concerts as they might pay a visit to your city real soon, and keep enjoying the stylish and crisp music by one of the biggest names of contemporary metal.

Best moments of the album: Toe to Toes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Reprise Records

Track listing
1. North Side Star 6:09
2. Blue Walsh 5:11
3. Toe to Toes 4:28
4. Cold Dark Place 5:58

Band members
Brent Hinds – lead guitar, lead and backing vocals, claps
Bill Kelliher – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, claps
Troy Sanders – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, claps
Brann Dailor – drums, percussion, claps