Album Review – Scent Of Darkness / Insanitude EP (2020)

Touching themes like depression, psychosis and solitude, the debut album by this promising Italian project will take you on a one-way journey to the desolate lands of doom.

Formed in 2018 in Brescia, a city in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, Funeral Doom project Scent Of Darkness was born from the artistic expression of the band’s mastermind and guitarist Gianluca Moreo, known from his work with Vereor Nox, aiming at delivering lugubrious and unsettling doom tailored for fans of bands like Saturnus, Novembers Doom and Ahab. Now in 2020, after partnering with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Telve (from Canticum Diaboli), Gianluca and his Scent Of Darkness are unleashing upon us the project’s debut EP entitled Insanitude, a concept album which speaks of psychological and social experiences lived in first person by Gianluca himself, touching themes like depression, psychosis, abandonment, mistrust, delirium, solitude and hope. And let me tell you that the final result, consisting of four Depressive Funeral Doom Metal songs with painful, desolated and sick traits, will certainly leave you completely disoriented after the album’s 30 macabre and sluggish minutes are over.

The somber acoustic guitars by Gianluca kick off the first track of the EP, the grim Reborn, being gradually accompanied by Lorenzo’s slow and steady beats and an enfolding atmosphere, with Lorenzo growling deeply and demonically and, consequently, resulting in a black mass of Funeral Doom for admirers of the genre. Then featuring lyrics by Alex Gothnesia and guest vocals by Gray Ravenmoon (Hateful Desolation), Trust Issues sounds even heavier and more caustic than the opening tune, with Gianluca and Lorenzo generating a menacing ambience with their Stygian riffs, bass jabs and drums, and with the raspy and hellish roars by Gray bringing an extra dosage of malignancy to their already visceral Doom Metal, followed by Crowded Solitude, another brutal, smashing Doom Metal extravaganza led by the funereal drums by Lorenzo while Gianluca keeps extracting sheer obscurity from his razor-edge riffs, sounding perfect for savoring each second in pitch black darkness. And last but not least, anguished spoken words will penetrate deep inside your psyche in the 10-minute aria entitled Whispers From Nowhere, where the band’s infernal duo continues to pave a sinister and dark path with their rumbling music, also presenting cryptic passages, eerie narrations, endless solitude and savage madness, all embraced by the gruesome gnarls by Lorenzo while the music flows like a dark river from hell until the song’s grandiose finale.

This 30-minute ode to all things doom can be better appreciated in full on YouTube, but of course I highly recommend you purchase a copy of the album from the Masked Dead Records’ BandCamp page or from Discogs to show your support to such up-and-coming Italian project, keeping the flames of doom burning in the depths of the underworld of heavy music. Also, you can get to know more about Scent Of Darkness by following the project on Facebook and by subscribing to its YouTube channel, darkening your heart and your thoughts even more as you join Gianluca in his one-way journey to hopelessness and desolation. If this high-end and very detailed EP is just the first release by Scent Of Darkness, I wonder where the project can go in the Doom Metal universe, leaving all fans of the slow, visceral and somber side of doom eager for more of his unrelenting creations in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Trust Issues and Whispers From Nowhere.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Masked Dead Records

Track listing
1. Reborn 5:45
2. Trust Issues 7:41
3. Crowded Solitude 6:26
4. Whispers From Nowhere 10:04

Band members
Gianluca Moreo – guitars
Lorenzo Telve – vocals, bass, drums

Guest musician
Gray Ravenmoon – vocals on “Trust Issues”

Album Review – Jessica Wolff / para dice (2020)

An unstoppable Finnish singer and her loyal “Wolffpack” will rock your world with their electrifying new album of modern-day Hard Rock.

The stunning Helsinki, Finland-based Hard Rock vocalist Jessica Wolff is a very busy young Finnish artist who’s not only committed to music, but she is also into acting, practicing kung fu and doing stunt work. However, behind the actions of this adrenaline junkie, you’ll find a warm-hearted girl with a striking personality, which is beautifully reflected in the music, in the catchy melodies and in the thought-provoking lyrics of her brand new album titled para dice, the follow-up to her 2013 album Renegade and her 2017 release Grounded, being highly recommended for fans of Pink Floyd, Joan Jett and Morcheeba, among others. Produced by Jonas Olsson, para dice, which title refers to going against the stream and daring to take risks in life if you want to achieve your goals, will offer your avid ears a direct and entertaining fusion of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll, showcasing all the talent by Jessica and her “Wolffpack” formed by guitarists Ari Manninen and Sebastian Lindqvist, bassist Taneli Tulkki and drummer Jarno Vanhanen.

Ari and Sebastian begin slashing their strings in great fashion in the opening track Ella’s Song, providing Jessica exactly what she needs to shine on vocals in a thrilling hybrid of modern-day Hard Rock with classic Rock N’ Roll. Not only that, this song is particularly special for Jessica and a little girl named Ella. “A couple of years ago I saw a post from the charity organization called Brother Christmas. It was about a girl who had been so school bullied she didn’t dare to go outside the house.  I contacted her mother and offered to come and hang out with Ella, talk, take walks or work out. I started to meet Ella who opened about her story. Ella is a true fighter with the heart of an angel. Her story really touched me and I asked if we could write a song about it,” said Jessica about the inspiration for such amazing tune. And keeping the adrenaline level truly high the band fires another dancing tune titled Perfect Kind Of Wrong, with Jarno dictating the rhythm with his classic beats while Jessica continues to embellish the airwaves with her piercing vocals, followed by All The Tight Things, a radio-friendly composition where Tanelli and his bass punches together with Jarno’s beats build a solid base for Jessica’s crisp vocals, while the band’s guitar duo delivers strident rockin’ riffs nonstop.

Then it’s time for a Blues-ish ballad by Jessica and the boys entitled The Sunny Side Of The Bay, with its delicate ambience being effectively boosted by Jarno’s minimalist beats, inviting us all to simply relax and enjoy the serene sounds and introspective lyrics of such enfolding song. In Kill Switch the unstoppable Jessica and her henchmen continue to venture through the gentle and passionate lands of rock ballads, but this time increasing their punch and electricity significantly and presenting a solid job done by both Ari and Sebastian with their riffs and solos, whereas in Fight Forever they blend contemporary Rock N’ Roll the likes of Paramore with the groove and heaviness of Hard Rock, also bringing forward another awesome vocal performance by Jessica supported by her loyal bandmates. Needless to say, this is a great option for hitting the road with your loved ones during the hot and fun days of summer.

The awesome Superhero offers us all a high dosage of acid lyrics with Jessica’s own feminine touch (“You say you need nobody / Here we go again why do you pretend / I see the pain inside you / You ain ́t fooling me, you ́re not a mystery / Yeah, come and look at mister cool, hey / Mister all the time, mister blow my mind, yeah / Come and look at mister fool, hey / I get so tired of your shit”) while at the same time presenting the heaviest riffs of the whole album, endless stamina and pounding beats, which together turn it into the best song of para dice hands down. Adding hints of Southern Rock to their Rock N’ Roll core essence, the band brings forth Demons, a headbanging tune where all guitar riffs and heavy beats create an interesting paradox with Jessica’s delicate but powerful vocals, while Take Me Away is another heavy ballad that keeps the momentum going with Jessica’s pensive vocal performance bringing a touch of finesse to the overall result while Taneli keeps hammering his bass, generating a welcome rumbling background sound. Lastly, closing the album we’re treated to the Rock N’ Roll extravaganza titled Strangers, offering the listener classic heavy riffs intertwined with lighter and more melodious moments and, therefore, putting a very pleasant and embracing ending to para dice.

If you’re more than curious to take a full and detailed listen at para dice, you can stream the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your utmost support to such talented vocalist from the land of ice and snow you can purchase your desired version of the album by clicking HERE, as well as follow her on Facebook and on Instagram, and subscribe to her official YouTube channel. Jessica is definitely poised to become one of the biggest contemporary female singers of her homeland, following the steps of renowned vocalists such as Tarja Turunen (Nightwish, Tarja) and Suvi Hiltunen (Afire), with para dice representing a fantastic step in her career and the perfect path for her to follow in order to keep on rocking our world and our hearts with her classy and electrifying music.

Best moments of the album: Ella’s Song, Fight Forever and Superhero.

Worst moments of the album: All The Tight Things.

Released in 2020 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. Ella’s Song 3:14
2. Perfect Kind Of Wrong 3:45
3. All The Right Things 3:19
4. The Sunny Side Of The Bay 3:28
5. Kill Switch 3:44
6. Fight Forever 3:33
7. Superhero 4:09
8. Demons 3:23
9. Take Me Away 3:42
10. Strangers 3:08

Band members
Jessica Wolff – vocals
Ari Manninen – guitar
Sebastian Lindqvist – guitar
Taneli Tulkki – bass
Jarno Vanhanen – drums

Album Review – Paradise Lost / Obsidian (2020)

The overlords of doom return with another majestic album, exploring the unknown and opening new horizons with their awe-inspiring music.

Still reigning supreme as the overlords of doom after over three decades on the road, Halifax, England-based Doom Metal act Paradise Lost never gets tired of stunning us all with their refined hybrid of old school Doom and Death Metal with 80’s and contemporary Gothic Metal and Rock, proving why they’ve maintained their relevance in the world of heavy music without disappointing their loyal fans not even once in their vast career. Now in 2020 it’s time for frontman Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen to darken the skies once again with Obsidian, their sixteenth studio album and the follow-up to their latest releases Medusa, from 2017, and The Plague Within, released in 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orgone Studios, with additional recordings done at Black Planet, and featuring a cryptic artwork by British artist Adrian Baxter, Obsidian might not be considered a classic yet like Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but I’m sure the album will reach its deserved cult status soon based on the amazing quality of the music found throughout its 47 astonishing minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes from the deluxe edition).

The gorgeous guest violin by Spanish musician Alicia Nurho adds a touch of finesse to the opening track Darker Thoughts, led by the always enfolding, deep vocals by Nick, sounding utterly grandiose, epic and doomed, and with Waltteri displaying all his refined skills behind his drum set. Then in Fall from Grace the band keeps slamming our heads mercilessly with their crushing riffage and damned beats, all led by Nick’s obscure roars while Steve makes the earth rumble with his bass (not to mention Greg’s hypnotizing solo), whereas Steve kicks off the 80’s-inspired dark tune titled Ghosts, enhanced by a brilliant performance by Nick with his Stygian vocals while his bandmates bring endless groove and electricity to the song from start to finish. And bringing forward contemplative lyrics that reek of modern-day poetry (“I’m tired of dreams, I’m tired of almost everything / Dreams deceive and living never lasts. / Too tired to sleep, denial of grief awakes my sins / Too weak to breathe, from living in deaths hands”), The Devil Embraced is another lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal spearheaded by Waltteri’s classic drums and the strident riffs by both Greg and Aaron.

Ominous sounds embellish the ambience in the also somber and heavy-as-hell Forsaken, where Nick is once again flawless on vocals supported by the slashing guitars by Greg and Aaron, while Steve and Waltteri sound absolutely thunderous with their respective instruments. After such dense tune, it’s time to bang our heads in darkness to the sound of Serenity, a hammering fusion of Doom and Death Metal tailored for admirers of the genre, also presenting some welcome breaks and variations, tons of progressiveness and the always macabre roars by Nick, followed by Ending Days, where Alicia returns with her gentle violin while the band gets back to a more serene and melancholic vibe, showcasing all their versatility and talent. Furthermore, the impact of the guitars and drums combined to the overall result is majestic, which can also be said about Hope Dies Young, featuring backing vocals by American singer Heather Mackintosh (Tapping the Vein), a very pleasant and enfolding sonority, and another round of their unique and stylish lyrics (“How could you know? / As pure as driven snow / Through a winter of descent / The splintered argument / Such a withering lament / Hopes will die young / Hopes will die young now”). The last song of the regular version of Obsidian, titled Ravenghast, brings to our ears a classic Paradise Lost sound, reminding me of some of their old school compositions from Draconian Times, with the level of heaviness and melancholy being beautifully insane while Waltteri blasts his drums in the best Doom Metal way possible and Nick fires his deep, demonic growls. If you decide to purchase the deluxe edition of Obsidian you’ll face the bonus tracks Hear the Night and Defiler, both very solid and classy Doom Metal compositions presenting all the elements we learned to love form the band’s distinguished music, making it totally worth the investment.

I guess I don’t need to ask you to take a good listen at Obsidian in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the band, and of course don’t forget to keep the fires of doom burning by purchasing your copy of the album by clicking HERE, and to follow Paradise Lost on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you search for the meaning of “obsidian” online, you’ll find out it’s a volcanic glass that’s supposed to be truth-enhancing, a strongly protective stone which forms a shield against negativity, blocking psychic attack and absorbing negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension, stimulating growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. There couldn’t be a better representation of the new album by Paradise Lost, as their brand new opus is indeed a work-of-art perfect for heightening our senses and opening our minds and hearts for the glory of doom.

Best moments of the album: Darker Thoughts, Ghosts, Serenity and Ravenghast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Darker Thoughts 5:46
2. Fall from Grace 5:42
3. Ghosts 4:35
4. The Devil Embraced 6:08
5. Forsaken 4:30
6. Serenity 4:46
7. Ending Days 4:36
8. Hope Dies Young 4:02
9. Ravenghast 5:30

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
10. Hear the Night 5:34
11. Defiler 4:45

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead & rhythm guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musicians
Alicia Nurho – violin on “Darker Thoughts” and “Ending Days”
Heather Mackintosh – backing vocals on “Hopes Die Young”

Album Review – Descend into Despair / Opium (2020)

It’s time to get lost in the musical and lyrical universe developed around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz” by this distinguished Romanian Funeral Doom act.

Founded in 2010 in Rădăuți, Suceava County, in Romania, but currently located in Cluj-Napoca, Cluj County, also in Romania, an idiosyncratic Doom Metal/Funeral Doom entity known as Descend into Despair has been gradually rising from that point into one of the most noteworthy bands in the local scene, fusing together Death, Black and Sludge Metal with Electronica and Dark Ambient elements to further refine what they like to call “Introspective Doom Metal”, pushing creative boundaries and taking pride in experimenting as much as they can. The band currently comprised of Xander Coza on vocals, analogue synthesizer and guitars, Florentin Popa on clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars and field recordings, Dragoș C. and Cosmin Farcău on the guitars, Alex Costin on bass, Flaviu Roșca on keyboards and piano, and Luca Breaz on drums developed a musical and lyrical universe around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz”, a brooding and ever-looming feeling that physical reality can never fully satisfy the demands of the mind. Now in 2020 the band returns with their third full-length opus, simply titled Opium, offering fans of Funeral Doom almost one hour of cryptic and melancholic passages split into three unique compositions, all embraced by a stunning cover artwork conceptualized by Xander himself, featuring model Melinda Nagy, painting by István Bába and bodypaint by Brigitta Adorjan. “Opium’s conceptual driving force is, we believe, fully grasped within this image, blurring the lines between painting and photography. Twisting classical beauty into modern obsession, weaving harmony of proportion into the disharmony of meaning that soaks through the fabric of existence, our Venus rises forth from horror and remembrance, drained by her rebirth, as murky as the sea that bore her,” commented the band about the connection between the concept of the art and the musical content of their newborn opus.

Featuring guest female vocals by Tara Vanflower, an atmospheric and peaceful start slowly and gradually evolves into a lugubrious feast of doom in ensh[r]ine, with the band’s guitarists Dragos and Cosmin meticulously smashing their stringed axes while Luca brings the thunder with his potent beats. Furthermore, Xander sounds like a beast from the pits of hell with his deep guttural gnarls, with the crisp and crystalline background keys and synths by Flaviu adding a touch of finesse to their mournful musicality. In other words, it’s truly impressive how they fill every single space in the air with tons of heaviness but sounding melodic and ethereal at the same time, ending such massive composition in a beyond enfolding way. Then sinister, atmospheric sounds and tones permeate the air in the also extensive, multi-layered and utterly doomed antumbra, where Xander’s gruesome roars get even more introspective and grim accompanied by the sluggish and melancholic beats by Luca, while the raw sounds of the guitars generate a beautiful paradox with all background keys and synths, also presenting several breaks and variations throughout its 17 lugubrious minutes, and once again bringing an orchestral, cinematic vibe until the very end. Lastly, an array of guests doing choir vocals and spoken pieces are one of the main ingredients in the pensive and obscure closing tune dis[re]member, where the delicate piano notes by Flaviu and the slow and steady beats by Luca walk hand in hand in a hypnotizing Doom Metal voyage. It’s by far the most intricate and the darkest of all three songs, with Dragos, Cosmin and Alex bringing an otherworldly vibe to the music with their sonic weapons, not to mention the breathtaking final act showcasing grim spoken words, crisp guitars and infernal roars amidst a perturbing sense of hopelessness.

In summary, if you can’t live without your daily dosage of Funeral Doom, then this excellent album made in Romania is exactly what you need to fulfill your darkest needs. Hence, don’t forget to show your true support to the guys from Descend into Despair by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and above all that, by purchasing Opium (which is also available in full on YouTube and on Spotify) from Funere’s Bandcamp page, or go to DistroKid for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mixed by Indee Rehal Sagoo in London, UK, and mastered by Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios in Birmingham, UK, Opium will certainly please all admirers of the most introspective and funereal side of Doom Metal, leaving a scathing mark in the hearts of those who dare to venture through the album’s 59 minutes of sheer obscurity, solitude and sorrow.

Best moments of the album: dis[re]member.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Funere

Track listing
1. ensh[r]ine 22:27
2. antumbra 17:08
3. dis[re]member 19:54

Band members
Xander Coza – vocals, analogue synthesizer, guitars
Florentin Popa – clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars, field recordings
Dragoș C. – guitars
Cosmin Farcău – guitars
Alex Costin – bass
Flaviu Roșca – keyboards, piano
Luca Breaz – drums, choir vocals on “dis[re]member”

Guest musicians
Tara Vanflower  – female vocals on “ensh[r]ine”
Irina Movileanu & Eva Breaz – choir vocals on “dis[re]member”
Bogdan Neciu & Răzvan Târnovan – spoken words on “dis[re]member”

Album Review – Tristwood / Blackcrowned Majesty (2020)

Behold the final part of a saga about the return of a legendary ruler named Ar’ath to Ma’haxul through the eyes of an infernal Industrial Black and Death Metal band from Austria.

Blasting their venomous hybrid of Avantgarde, Black, Death and Industrial Metal with Grindcore nuances (being even labeled Blackened Grindcore by some fans and critics) since their inception in 2001 in the city of Linz, Austria, the cryptic entity known as Tristwood is ready to raise some hell with their fifth full-length opus entitled Blackcrowned Majesty, a musical journey led via Nihilist, early Bathory, Oxiplegatz, Morbid Angel, Hellhammer, Skinny Puppy and Killing Joke into the world of the real underground of the rough 80’s and early 90’s. Representing the final part of a saga about the return of a legendary ruler named Ar’ath to Ma’haxul, born out of pure blackness and disaster, the album describes in a musical way how she flows to the north after her destruction and is crowned again by her faithful. The album art, created in the summer of 2019 in the Alps by Ani van Sunnjurck, is the basis and building block of the story, showing the anti-hero Rauthra and hinting at his outer appearance as well as his quest from northern shores to the interior of the country to join Ar’ath. Comprised of Deimon on vocals, synths and flute, Jegger on vocals and guitars, Neru on guitars, backing vocals and synths, JD on bass and fretless bass solos, and HMG on drums, Tristwood are on fire throughout the almost 40 minutes of music found in Blackcrowned Majesty, uniting a very entertaining concept with their usual musical madness and rage.

Arising from the underworld like evil creatures of darkness, Tristwood begin blasting their fusion of industrial, electronic and extreme music in Re-Enthronement Of The Damned, bringing forward an infernal sound masterfully crafted by all band members, with HMG being beyond pulverizing on drums while Deimon and Jegger keep growling like true demons. In the heavier and more caustic He Who Traversed A Greater Oblivion, the scorching riffs by Jegger and Neru will pierce your ears mercilessly in a frantic and chaotic fusion of Industrial and Black Metal, whereas wicked, uncanny sounds ignite the electro-dark title-track A Blackcrowned Majesty, before all hell breaks loose in another hellish extravaganza by Tristwood. Moreover, the background synths and keys by Deimon and Neru add a touch of dementia to the music, while JD simply hammers his metallic bass nonstop. And it’s time to bang our heads like maniacs to the obscure and futuristic Her Wraith Through Stygonian Lands, where Deimon and Jegger are once again berserk on vocals, supported by the classic beats by HMG and the venom and acid flowing from the band’s stylish guitar riffs.

The quintet keeps smashing our skulls in The Hall Of Rauthra´s Fate, a vicious fusion of Black and Industrial Metal presenting machine gun-like blast beats, razor-edged riffs and demonic gnarls and roars, sounding as dark and grim as it can be from start to finish; and there’s no sign of Tristwood slowing down at all as they continue to fill every single space in the air with sheer darkness, hatred and lunacy in Acherontic Deathcult, with the whimsical keys and synths by Deimon and Neru bringing a welcome balance to their sonic havoc. Then inhumane, desperate screams are potentialized by the band’s high-octane guitars and drums in the visceral Bone Cathedral, a lesson in contemporary Industrial Extreme Metal by Tristwood, not to mention how thunderous the bass by JD sounds during the entire song, followed by the Stygian and captivating Nightshade Eternal, the epic finale to the saga of Rauthra, where the sick and deranged harsh growls by Deimon and Jegger are effectively spiced up by all background elements and the always pounding beats by HMG, flowing smoothly and infernally until its abrupt and somber ending.

Will Rauthra join the Nightshade? All you need to do to have the answer to that question is listening to Blackcrowned Majesty in full, and in order to do that simply go to Tristwood’s official BandCamp page, where you can obviously purchase your copy of the album and show your support to such talented Austrian band. In addition, don’t forget to give the guys from Tristwood a shout on their Facebook page, where you can get more details about the band, their future releases and tour dates. In summary, Tristwood undoubtedly reinvented themselves in Blackcrowned Majesty, adding another solid stone to their ever-growing castle of Industrial Black and Death Metal with such multi-layered and distinguished concept album and, consequently, paving a promising path for those Austrian veterans who know how to make some reverberating and loud noise when armed with their weapons of sonic destruction.

Best moments of the album: He Who Traversed A Greater Oblivion, Her Wraith Through Stygonian Lands and The Hall Of Rauthra´s Fate.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Re-Enthronement Of The Damned 4:16
2. He Who Traversed A Greater Oblivion 4:23
3. A Blackcrowned Majesty 5:18
4. Her Wraith Through Stygonian Lands 4:54
5. The Hall Of Rauthra´s Fate 4:08
6. Acherontic Deathcult 4:24
7. Bone Cathedral 4:24
8. Nightshade Eternal 6:16

Band members
Deimon – vocals, synths, flute
Jegger – vocals, guitars
Neru – guitars, backing vocals, synths
JD – bass, fretless bass solos
HMG – drums

Album Review – Creptum / VAMA (2020)

An unrelenting horde hailing from Brazil is ready to distill their raw, unfiltered Black Metal armed with their sulfurous new opus.

Formed in the already distant year of 2001 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil under the name Nekros with the sole objective of distilling Black Metal in its rawest aspect, an obscure Black Metal entity currently known as Creptum has just unleashed upon humanity their sophomore effort entitled VAMA, the follow-up to their 2016 debut opus Of Lies, Curses and Blood and their 2017 EP Reborn in Flames. Produced by Marcos Cerutti and featuring a blood-red artwork by Brazilian designer Raphael Grizilli, VAMA will certainly please all diehard fans of the old school Black Metal blasted by renowned acts such as Marduk, Gorgoroth, Sarcófago and Dark Funeral, among others, showcasing all the talent and obscurity by the band’s renewed lineup featuring vocalist and guitarist Nebro, guitarist T. Aversvs, bassist Corvo and drummer Animus Atra, positioning such distinct horde as one of the most interesting names of the underground Brazilian scene.

Animus Atra begins hammering his drums vigorously accompanied by the Black Metal riffage by Nebro and T. Aversvs in the opening aria Earth, while Nebro barks like a rabid beast nonstop, also bringing an ominous aura from Atmospheric Black Metal, whereas sounding more enraged, heavier and more demonic, the band goes full Black Metal in Reborn in Darkness, tailored for fans of the scorching music by Marduk and Darkthrone, with Nebro and T. Aversvs once again slashing our ears with their blasphemous riffs supported by the low-tuned, menacing bass by Corvus. Then strident guitar lines permeate the air in the also venomous 156, a hard-hitting, metallic extravaganza led by the band’s infernal kitchen of Corvus and Animus Atra, living up to the legacy of classic Black Metal infused with melodic nuances, followed by The Moon Above, bringing forward cryptic words vociferated by Nebro (“I hear the pounding of drums / My bones shiver with their sound / And I feel my heart, I feel my heart racing / I feel the dirt beneath my feet, / The transmutation of black moon above me / I feel the heat of the battles / That are now happening within”) while his bandmates keep the ambience as dense, ominous and electrifying as possible.

The title-track VAMA is another Stygian composition where the entire band adds hints of Doom Metal to their already sulfurous Black Metal, with Animus Atra alternating between vicious blast beats and sluggish, phantasmagorical passages, sounding utterly detailed and captivating from start to finish; and the acoustic instrumental tune Kundaliní gives us a few moments of introspection and peace before all hell breaks loose in Revolution Within, a disruptive onrush of Black Metal sounds spearheaded by Animus Atra and his demented drums, with Nebro growling deeply and rabidly while Corvo is unstoppable with her wicked bass punches. Creptum don’t stop darkening the skies and our souls with their imposing and epic Black Metal sonority in Devouring Mother, sounding as if Immortal and Mayhem had a bastard son while the gruesome gnarls by Nebro penetrate deep inside your psyche, until the closing tune On My Skin brings to our ears a few brief moments of serenity before the quartet crushes our skulls one last time with their heavy-as-hell sound, presenting a neck-breaking rhythm led by Animus Atra’s classic beats.

This fantastic display of South American Black Metal can be appreciated in full on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support and admiration for this Brazilian horde you should definitely purchase VAMA from their own BandCamp page, from the Drakker Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow Creptum on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their incendiary music, consequently proving you’re a true disciple of the underworld. VAMA is not just another album of Black Metal, but a bold statement by a band that is fully dedicated to such obscure subgenre of heavy music, and above that, to show Brazil can also be an excellent source of the most extreme type of music you can think of.

Best moments of the album: Reborn in Darkness, VAMA and Devouring Mother.

Worst moments of the album: Earth.

Released in 2020 Drakkar Productions

Track listing
1. Earth 4:48
2. Reborn in Darkness 5:00
3. 156 4:52
4. The Moon Above 3:35
5. VAMA 5:59
6. Kundaliní 3:39
7. Revolution Within 3:35
8. Devouring Mother 4:48
9. On My Skin 4:31

Band members
Nebro – vocals, guitar
T. Aversvs – guitar, bass
Corvo – bass
Animus Atra – drums

Guest musician
Tanatos – additional vocals
Deimous Nefus – guitar

Album Review – Lamb of God / Lamb of God (2020)

Re-energized and unrelenting, Richmond, Virginia’s own Groove Metal titans are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.

At long last, five years after the release of the excellent VII: Sturm und Drang, Richmond, Virginia-based Groove Metal titans Lamb of God are finally back with a brand new album self-titled Lamb of God, the band’s eighth studio effort, for our vulgar delectation. Produced by Josh Wilbur (Korn, Megadeth, Gojira, Trivium), the fact that their new effort is self-titled is a testament to the band’s pride and satisfaction with these songs and this period in their creativity, showcasing a true and healthy collaboration between frontman Randy Blythe, guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell and newcomer Art Cruz on drums, a re-energized and unrelenting lineup that’s more than ready to lay claim to the metal throne. “Putting only our name on it is a statement,” Mr. Randy Blythe said. “This is Lamb of God. Here and now,” expressing in words all the rage, groove and darkness found in each of the album’s ten original and extremely acid songs.

An eerie start evolves into a pounding Groove Metal feast in the opening track Memento Mori, where Willie and Mark and infernal with their riffs, inspiring us all to slam into the pit like true metal maniacs while Randy darkly vociferates the song’s psychological lyrics (“The hardest hour, the cruelest sign / I’m waking up from this wretched lie / I fight it the same, don’t waste this day / Wake up, wake up, wake up / Memento mori”), whereas in Checkmate we’re treated to more of their modern-day, austere words (“Watch the gears grind off their teeth / The screeching halt machine digging heels in disbelief / Two reactional identities, opposing policies / A bait and switch routine”), while Art brings forward all his fury and dexterity on drums, proving why he was chosen to take the band’s drumming duties. And in Gears, my favorite song of the entire album, Randy sounds inhumane with his enraged roars accompanied by Art’s pounding beats and the groovy and thunderous bass by John, resulting in a very intricate, multi-layered and thrilling aria from start to finish.

Speeding things up a notch, the quintet fires the neck-breaking, pulverizing tune Reality Bath, bringing an amazing shredding blasted by the band’s guitar duo while Randy alternates between his trademark growls and dark, eerie clean vocals, followed by New Colossal Hate, keeping the album at an insane level of wrath and violence. In other words, it’s another song perfect for jumping up and down with the band, with John and Art making the foundations of the earth tremble with their hellish kitchen, and they continue to crush our heads with the wicked and visceral Resurrection Man, one of the heaviest and most obscure of all tracks, with Art hammering his drums fiercely while Rady fires deep, vicious roars nonstop. Then featuring guest vocalist Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), the band delivers more of their hybrid of Groove and Thrash Metal in Poison Dream, with the sick riffage by Willie and Mark adding an extra kick to the overall result, not to mention the song’s vibrant and aggressive vibe.

The one and only Mr. Chuck Billy (Testament) lends his thunderous vocals to the high-octane Groove and Thrash Metal hurricane entitled Routes, sounding very melodic and at the same time as vile and caustic as possible, offering our avid ears their usual frantic beats, rabid screams and strident guitar solos, and you better get ready for another round of insanity and heaviness spearheaded by Randy and his demented screams in Bloodshot Eyes, also bringing some introspective moments while John and Art deliver endless groove through their unstoppable weapons. And last but not least, Lamb of God fire one last breath of first-class, demolishing metal music entitled On the Hook, with all of its crisp and thunderous riffs and bass jabs being nicely spiced up by Art’s rhythmic beats, uniting the heaviest elements from Thrash and Death Metal to the band’s core essence and, therefore, putting an amazingly heavy and explosive end to the album.

You can follow Lamb of God on Facebook and on Instagram (if you haven’t done so yet, of course) to stay up to date with everything that surrounds the band, including their tour dates, new songs and videos, news and other nice-to-know details, but I highly recommend you invest a small amount of your hard-earned money into their brand new album by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of it, as this is among the best metal albums of the year hands down. It might have taken a little longer than expected for Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen to released their new album due to all this horrifying and tedious COVID-19 pandemic, but at least the wait is over and, if you look on the bright side of life, all the wait was relatively worth it, making us insanely eager to see what Lamb of God had to offer us all in such obscure times. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint at all, with their self-titled installment certainly fueling their inner selves to keep composing and delivering more of their unique Groove Metal for many years to come. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for metal concerts to be back on, buy your tickets to see Lamb of God live, and witness them kicking some serious ass with both their classics and the new fulminating songs from their new album, just the way we like it.

Best moments of the album: Memento Mori, Gears, Reality Bath and Routes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Epic Records/Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Memento Mori 5:48
2. Checkmate 4:30
3. Gears 3:55
4. Reality Bath 4:32
5. New Colossal Hate 4:30
6. Resurrection Man 4:59
7. Poison Dream 4:57
8. Routes 3:04
9. Bloodshot Eyes 3:57
10. On the Hook 4:30

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

Guest musicians
Jamey Jasta – vocals on “Poison Dream”
Chuck Billy – vocals on “Routes”

Album Review – Kult Mogił / Torn Away the Remains of Dasein (2020)

An unrelenting Polish entity returns with their sophomore full-length opus, presenting a new sound directed towards classic Death Metal from the 90’s.

Almost three years after the release of the EP Portentaque, Tarnów, Lesser Poland-based Blackened Death Metal entity Kult Mogił is back from the pits of the underworld with a brand new full-length album entitled Torn Away the Remains of Dasein, presenting to the listener a new line-up and, more important than that, a new energy and sound directed towards a more classic Death Metal style from the 90’s when compared to their debut full-length opus Anxiety Never Descending. Mixed and mastered at Satanic Audio by Haldor Grunberg and featuring a stylish cover artwork by Polish artist Sars (Gruzja, Odraza), Torn Away the Remains of Dasein reeks of pure violence from start to finish, showcasing all the talent and passion for extreme music by lead singer and bassist Deimos, guitarists Rzulty and Thisworld Outof, and drummer The Rays. “Instead of following trends of fashionable playing, we’re heading in the opposite direction, going back to the roots of death metal even more than before. This is our most essential recording, devoid of layers of sludge and other popular additions from previous releases. We want the new songs, stripped of these ornaments, to defend themselves with strong, load-bearing riffs. This album is 100% devoid of the desire to be avant-garde or experimental. We are destroying the previously developed formula so that we can on its ruins pay homage to the classics of the genre,” commented the band about their vicious new album.

And the opening track Hunger of Pride is the perfect depiction of this new version of Kult Mogił, sounding and feeling absolutely ominous, disruptive and violent from the very first second, with Rzulty and Thisworld Outof showing no mercy for our souls with their infernal riffage while Deimos roars and growls rabidly, resulting in a putrid Death Metal feast infused with Black Metal nuances. Then wicked sounds ignite another awesome display of brutality titled White.Death.Implosion, where The Rays sounds vile and demented on drums by blasting sheer havoc through his beats, therefore providing his bandmates all they need to shine with their venomous growls and sick riffs and solos, and not giving us a single second to breathe, the quartet fires the also hellish Blackened Death Metal tune Torment of Dasein, bringing to our ears pure savagery flowing from all instruments, with Deimos doing a fantastic job with both his guttural vocals and his menacing bass punches. In Idols in Blood we’re treated to an austere onrush of Black and Death Metal sounds spearheaded by the rhythmic and groovy beats by The Rays, while Rzulty and Thisworld Outof don’t stop extracting razor-edged riffs from their axes, reminding me of the total darkness of the early days of their countrymen Behemoth, whereas in A Wax Reverie the band adds hints of Doom Metal to their already otherworldly sonority, smashing our skulls once again and blending the gore of bands like Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under with their own share of dementia. And lastly, the rumbling bass by Deimos ignites the closing tune Fountain of Affliction, where the band’s guitar duo fires an endless amount of sulfur and rage from their stringed weapons while The Rays sounds like a bulldozer on drums, ending the album on an utterly obscure and aggressive note.

In case you’re not familiar with the music by Kult Mogił, I highly recommended you go take a good listen at their previous releases before listening to Torn Away the Remains of Dasein in full on YouTube to have a clear understanding of the musical evolution explained by the band until reaching their current shape and form, showing that the adjustments they made to their sound were more than welcome and spot-on, therefore pointing to a bright future to such obscure unity hailing from Poland. In addition, don’t forget to give the guys from Kult Mogił a shout on Facebook, and to grab your copy of Torn Away the Remains of Dasein from the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page or from their webstore in CD, black LP or red LP formats. After such pulverizing album, I wonder if Kult Mogił will continue to venture through even more classic Death Metal lands, if they’ll succumb to the darker side of Black and Doom Metal, or if they’ll simply merge all of their influences and all those styles into something new and fresh. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter what the final result is, as long as they keep bringing forth amazing records like Torn Away the Remains of Dasein we can rest assured the underground Polish scene will remain alive, vibrant and as brutal as it can be.

Best moments of the album: White.Death.Implosion and Idols in Blood.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. Hunger of Pride 5:43
2. White.Death.Implosion 4:57
3. Torment of Dasein 6:33
4. Idols in Blood 4:38
5. A Wax Reverie 6:24
6. Fountain of Affliction 5:37

Band members
Deimos – vocals, bass
Rzulty – guitars
Thisworld Outof – guitars
The Rays – drums

Album Review – Häxan / White Noise (2020)

Three Welsh girls are ready to bring the noise armed with their first full-length album, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

With an impressive array of live shows and festivals under their belt, including Download Festival, Monsters Of Rock Cruise, Rock The Boat Cruise and Hard Rock Hell, Cardiff, Wales-based all-female Hard Rock trio Häxan is ready to take the world of rock and metal by storm with their brand new album White Noise, a lecture in classic rock tailored for fans of the music by Led Zeppelin, Suzi Quatro, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Recorded at Stompbox Studios in Wales, the album was produced, mixed and mastered by Todd Campbell (Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons), who’s helped lead singer and guitarist Sam Bolderson, bassist Harriet Wadeson and drummer Jess Hartley reach a higher level with their music, all embraced by a straightforward and strong artwork by Matt Riste Illustration, and if you think the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the girls from embellishing the airwaves with their music you’re absolutely wrong. “We debated postponing the album launch until there was more certainty in our (and your) lives. We ultimately decided that so many of our fans and friends had been asking for this album for so long, that it was only right to continue with its launch and hopefully help to give everyone a little something to look forward to. We want White Noise to be able to mask the sounds of the uncertain outside world that’s around all of us currently, to allow people to escape it. It’s an opportunity to shut everything else out and enjoy the incredible potency of music.”

Let’s cut to the chase as it’s time to rock together with the girls from Häxan in the opening tune Damned If You Do, presenting elements from classic rock with the electrifying punk-ish sound blasted by bands like Volbeat, with Jess sounding fantastic on drums while Sam delivers sheer adrenaline with her spot-on riffs, followed by Killing Time, a mid-tempo headbanging tune led by the pounding drums by Jess accompanied by the crushing bass punches by Harriet, bringing a Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” vibe and, therefore, resulting in a lesson in 80’s Rock N’ Roll for admirers of the genre. After such great start the band offers us all Nine Lives, a Volbeat/Misfits-inspired composition by the trio where Sam and Harriet slash their strings beautifully while Sam blasts her delicate but potent vocals for our total delight. Needless to say, this is an amazing option for their live performances, which is also the case with Grave Digger, where the band ventures through more Blues-ish, Southern Rock lands. Furthermore, Sam poetically declaims the song’s lyrics while Jess keeps the song’s pace smooth and vibrant at the same time, not to mention the thrilling guitar solo blasted by Sam. And they keep smashing their instruments powerfully in the Hard Rock extravaganza Louder Than Words, with Harriet and Jess making the earth tremble with their thunderous bass and drums, also bringing to our avid ears soulful guitar riffs and solos and endless stamina.

In Black Sheep the trio gets back to a darker and groovier sonority, with Harriet hammering our heads with her fiery bass while Sam brings forward more of her charming vocals, sounding almost like a grim, badass rock ballad, whereas uniting the groove of Southern Rock with the old school Hard Rock by AC/DC Häxan offer us all the dancing Crash and Burn, with Sam’s vocals being nicely complemented by some crisp backing vocals, rockin’ guitar riffs and incendiary solos. In the flammable Skeletons, we’re treated to a high-speed, dirty pounding Rock N’ Roll party by the girls where Jess is unstoppable on drums, providing Sam all she needs to scream the song’s catchy chorus flawlessly (“Your skeletons are out to play, you thought you’d take them to your grave / You’ll always be the second best to demons that you’d laid to rest / Your skeletons are running wild, haunting you til the day you die / You believe what’s done is done, but you won’t ever run / From all your skeletons, skeletons”), before Living Dead closes the album in great fashion, albeit not as inspiring as the rest of the album, but still showcasing all the dexterity of the girls with Jess once again kicking ass with her beats together with Harriet’s rumbling bass jabs.

The talented and hardworking girls from Häxan are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on Spotify to rock your world like there’s no tomorrow, bu of course in order to show them your true support and to prove you deserve a place in the Rock N’ Roll heaven, go grab your copy of White Noise from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In a nutshell, White Noise might not be a revolution in rock music, but that has never been the band’s intention anyway. Sam, Harriet and Jess just want to play pure, unfiltered rock music and give us all a very good reason for smiling, banging our heads and dancing the night away. After two astounding releases, those being their 2017 debut EP Breaking Down the Walls and now the top-of-the-line White Noise, what’s next for the girls from Häxan? Well, only time will tell, but we can all rest assured they will never sell out and will keep bringing the noise to our avid ears for many years to come, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Damned If You Do, Nine Lives and Skeletons.

Worst moments of the album: Living Dead.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Damned If You Do 4:50
2. Killing Time 4:07
3. Nine Lives 4:45
4. Grave Digger 5:03
5. Louder Than Words 4:07
6. Black Sheep 5:35
7. Crash and Burn 4:07
8. Skeletons 5:34
9. Living Dead 4:27

Band members
Sam Bolderson – vocals, guitar
Harriet Wadeson – bass
Jess Hartley – drums