Album Review – Unshine / Astrala (2018)

Druids are coming directly from Finland, bringing with them songs from the invisible side of the Earth that aim at reuniting the old bonds between the dolmen gods and digitised mankind.

Hailing from the Finnish capital Helsinki, here comes a band that transcended their own influences to create their own unique sound, inspired by artists as diverse as Enslaved, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Tangerine Dream and Iron Maiden. That band is called Unshine, who since their inception in 2001 have been delivering a distinct fusion of styles described by themselves as “Druid Metal”. As a matter of fact, Mother Nature is the true influence on Unshine’s music, as all five members of Unshine, friends for many years, were all raised in the countryside villages of Western Finland. “The songs try to reunite the old bonds between the dolmen gods and digitised mankind. Nature is not our enemy, it’s our physical and especially spiritual home”, said the band’s guitarist, keyboardist and mastermind Harri Hautala.

With a long history of recording and playing behind them, Unshine are beyond excited with the release of their new full-length album Astrala, the fourth in their auspicious career, inspired by the “invisible side of the Earth”, as mentioned by Harri, who also complemented his though by saying that “the first five album songs address the manifestations of Astrala and the last five songs describe travels to Astrala. The album has a touch of Nordic melancholy written all over it, also in the lyrics, and it includes music meant to create landscapes and themes from folk stories, mythology and nature religions, but also to present personal views describing the spiritual meaning of a forest as a cultural concept. The binding theme here is forest, although this is not a theme album.” After such distinct explanation, are you ready to venture through the invisible side of the Earth with Unshine?

Birch of Fornjotr is one of those cinematic intros exhaling epicness, telling the listener a metallic adventure is about to begin in Kainuun Kuningas (or “king of Kainuu” from Finnish, with Kainuu being one of the 19 regions of Finland with its geography and landscape consisting of lakes, hills and vast uninhabited forest areas), a Scandinavian feast of Folk and Epic Metal led by the charming and potent vocals by frontwoman Susanna Vesilahti, with the song’s Finnish words giving it an extra touch of eccentricity. Furthermore, the band’s guitar tag team Harri and Jari Hautala provides a solid balance between rhythmic riffs and melodious solos to the overall musicality, which is also the case in Jack’s Feast, as melodic as its predecessor with drummer Jukka Hantula bringing heavier and tribal sounds to the music. The only problem is that despite having a lot of potential to be more thunderous, the song never really takes off, remaining too “folky” and for way too long.

The following tune, titled The Masks of Enchantment, is indeed a very interesting depiction of Druid Metal, with some orchestral elements in the background provided by Harri and his keys enhancing the taste of this semi-power ballad, also showcasing a beautiful performance by Susanna with her ethereal voice; whereas in Pan the One get ready to prance around the fire pit to the sound of the minstrel-like vocals by Susanna, accompanied by the whimsical sounds blasted by the rest of the band (especially the exciting keys by Harri). And if Irish singer Enya suddenly went full metal, the fun Druids Are A-Coming would probably be how she would sound like, being faster and more piercing than any of the previous tunes thanks to the cutting guitars by Harri and Jari, not to mention the galloping bass by Teemu Vähäkangas.

Their Epic Metal vein arises once again in the mid-tempo, heavy chant Slow Moving Creatures, with its guitars inciting you to bang your head together with the band, while in Visionary’s Last Breath it’s time for Unshine to invite us all to dance to a fanciful “druid waltz”, presenting very traditional elements from Folk Metal blended with the heaviness brought forth by Jukka’s beats. Then we have the touching ballad Suo (Kantaa Ruumiit), which should translate as “swamp (carry the bodies)”, also sung in the band’s mother tongue with Susanna stealing the spotlight with her passionate vocals. Moreover, there’s a lot of dark elements in this imposing composition, making it extremely catchy and somber from start to finish. And finally we’re treated to 10 minutes of epic and ethereal passages in The Forest, where the stringed trio Harri, Jari and Teemu keep the music flowing at a pleasant pace, allowing Susanna to shine once again with her vocals amidst the song’s symphonic elements and dense atmosphere, ending the album on a climatic and melancholic note.

You can take a full listen at Astrala on Spotify, follow the band on Facebook, nad purchase a copy of the album from the Rockshots Records webstore, from Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon, and let your soul roam free through the forests of the invisible side of the Earth ruled by Unshine. And who knows, you might not only meet some druids during your visit to Astrala, but also decide to stay there permanently, dancing to the music by this talented Finnish squad forever and ever.

Best moments of the album: Pan the One, Druids Are A-Coming and Suo (Kantaa Ruumiit).

Worst moments of the album: Jack’s Feast.

Released in 2018 Rockshots Records

Track listing
1. Birch of Fornjotr (Instrumental) 1:35
2. Kainuun Kuningas 5:13
3. Jack’s Feast 6:38
4. The Masks of Enchantment 4:54
5. Pan the One 4:44
6. Druids Are A-Coming 4:11
7. Slow Moving Creatures 5:19
8. Visionary’s Last Breath 5:32
9. Suo (Kantaa Ruumiit) 6:06
10. The Forest 10:28

Band members
Susanna Vesilahti – vocals
Harri Hautala – guitar and keyboards
Jari Hautala – guitar
Teemu Vähäkangas – bass
Jukka Hantula – drums and percussions


Album Review – Blaze Bayley / The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III) (2018)

What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Here he is, the indomitable Heavy Metal icon Blaze Bayley, to tell us the dramatic conclusion to his stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.

All good things must come to an end, including the beyond fantastic Infinite Entanglement Trilogy by the indomitable British Heavy Metal icon Blaze Bayley. After the stunning two first parts Infinite Entanglement and Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II), it’s time for Blaze and his amazing band to tell us the conclusion to this thrilling sci-fi story in the third and final installment The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III), the tenth solo album in Blaze’s unique career, and believe me, the story of Mr. William Christopher Black couldn’t have ended in a more dramatic, exciting and electrifying way.

Featuring guest vocal performances from Fozzy singer and WWE superstar Chris Jericho and from Luke Appleton, bassist from American powerhouse Iced Earth and rhythm guitarist with British metallers Absolva, as well as several other guest vocalists and narrators such as Liz Owen and Harry Webster Appleton II, The Redemption of William Black continues where the earlier albums left off, with Blaze’s trademark infectious choruses, blistering lead guitar work from Chris Appleton and a bedrock rhythm section from Karl Schramm on bass and Martin McNee on drums, all three also members of Absolva. Co-written by Blaze and Chris Appleton, everything in the album is perfectly aligned with the previous two albums in the trilogy, including its rip-roaring artwork and layout designed by Akirant Illustration. Hence, get ready for another lecture in traditional Heavy Metal by Blaze and his henchmen, and to finally know what the future holds for the dauntless William Black.

The album starts with our anti-hero seeking for redemption, saying he will “save the best of this world”, and Blaze Bayley & Co. make it quite clear with the high-octane, heavy and thrilling opening track Redeemer, with the guitar by Chris sounding extremely acute like a sharpened axe, also bringing one of those electrifying choruses tailored for singing along with Blaze. Then without giving us any time to breathe Blaze and his bandmates fire another metallic hymn titled Are You Here, where Chris and Karl sound thunderous with their strings while Martin never lets the energy level go down with his pounding beats; followed by Immortal One, a powerful song about immortality showcasing a fantastic guitar solo by Chris and an imposing rhythm, increasing in intensity until its crushing finale. Put differently, it can’t get any more Heavy Metal than this, my friends.

In the outstanding The First True Sign the band doesn’t get tired of smashing our ears with pure Heavy Metal, with its initial tribal sounds being suddenly joined by Chris’ most awesome, lancinating riffs of the whole album, turning it into a terrific choice for their live performances. Moreover, Blaze as usual passionately declaims the song’s poetic lyrics, captivating our attention from start to finish. After such metallic extravaganza, it’s time for one of those stunning ballads by Blaze, entitled Human Eyes, where acoustic guitars are accompanied by a pensive Blaze reciting the song’s extremely touching words, and all that dedication and focus by Blaze goes on until the song’s melancholic ending; whereas in Prayers of Light, the aforementioned guest Chris Jericho delivers some cryptic words before the flammable riffs by Chris ignite another explosion of traditional metal music. It’s indeed an upbeat tune perfect for cheering up your day, with both Jericho and Luke Appleton doing an amazing job on backing vocals. And Blaze’s minstrel side strikes again in 18 Days, where he poetically sings the song’s potent lines amidst a feast of mid-tempo heavy riffs and beats, making a sensational vocal duo with guest Liz Owen who delivers beautiful, ethereal vocals together with the Messiah.

With elements from Hard Rock added to the band’s classic Heavy Metal, we’re treated to the very precise and exciting work done on strings by Chris and Karl in Already Won, providing Blaze all he needs to thrive on vocals. And Blaze definitely knows how to reach deep inside our hearts with his introspective vocals like what happens in Life Goes On, being powerfully accompanied by lighter, acoustic parts intertwined with heavier moments crafted by his band members. The second to last act in the epic and futuristic tale of William Black comes in the form of The Dark Side of Black, a thrilling tune bringing forward all we love in the music by Blaze Bayley, that being fast-paced beats, melodic and cutting riffs, and obviously his resonant, potent vocals. Furthermore, Chris once again fires a superb guitar solo as the icing on the cake of the most obscure side of our protagonist translated into first-class metal. Last but not least we have Eagle Spirit, ignited by a special narration by a British war hero, Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Harry Webster Appleton II, before the band offers us all over nine minutes of gripping passages and flammable riffs, with Martin delivering rhythmic, puissant beats to make the whole song even more impactful. And after all is said and done, William finally finds his redemption as the story comes to a climatic and absolutely beautiful ending.

You can buy your copy of The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III) directly from Blaze Bayley’s official webstore, as well as from other retail outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, Heartland Music, Collectors’ Choice Music and, among others. At the same time, a special deluxe box will be available exclusively from Blaze’s website, specially made to house all three albums from the Infinite Entanglement Trilogy (needless to say, I highly recommend you listen to all three albums in a row without breaks to properly experience the full saga), and later this year the new album will also be made available as a vinyl LP, again in a specially-made deluxe box to house all 3 LP’s. Now that the astonishing tale of Mr. William Christopher Black is over, let’s all keep an eye on Blaze’s official Facebook page for news and tour dates, as he’s certainly going to kick some ass live in a city near you pretty soon (just like he did last year in Toronto). I have absolutely no idea if we’ll ever see William Black again, but if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that the daredevil Blaze Bayley is in the best shape of his life and will therefore keep blowing our minds with his unmatched fusion of old school Heavy Metal and top-tier sci-fi storytelling.

Best moments of the album: Redeemer, The First True Sign, 18 Days and The Dark Side of Black.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Blaze Bayley Recordings

Track listing 
1. Redeemer 4:11
2. Are You Here 2:32
3. Immortal One 2:56
4. The First True Sign 4:04
5. Human Eyes 5:36
6. Prayers of Light 3:25
7. 18 Days 4:03
8. Already Won 2:58
9. Life Goes On 5:00
10. The Dark Side of Black 3:25
11. Eagle Spirit 8:50

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums

Guest musicians
Chris Jericho – narration, backing vocals on “Prayes of Light”
Luke Appleton – backing vocals on “Prayes of Light”
Liz Owen – female vocals on “18 Days”
Melissa Adams & Joanne Kay Robinson – backing vocals, choir
Aine Brewer, Rob Toogood, Michelle Sciarrotta & Harry Webster Appleton II – narration

Album Review – Lebowskii / Liquidators EP (2018)

Presenting a fast, groovy and electrified fusion of 80’s and 90’s Thrash Metal with traditional Heavy and Death Metal sounding, please welcome a promising new act from the French underground scene.

It’s time for The Headbanging Moose to take a short and extremely fun and heavy trip to Nantes, a city on the Loire River in the Upper Brittany region of western France, to slam into the pit to the flammable Thrash Metal blasted by a brand new group in the French independent scene that goes by the name of Lebowskii. If you’re a diehard fan of bands such as Slayer, Death, Megadeth, Cannibal Corpse, Metallica and Tool, you’ll have a great time listening to the music by this four-piece act comprised of Damien on vocals and guitar, Jonathan on vocals and bass, Boris on the guitar and Laurent on drums. Together those four French horsemen are releasing their debut EP, titled Liquidators, presenting a high-octane, groovy and electrified fusion of 80’s and 90’s Thrash Metal with traditional Heavy and Death Metal sounding.

In the opening track, titled Why Are We Falling Down?, we already get to know who Lebowskii are, as we face four metallers crushing our heads with their fiery mix of Thrash and Groove Metal. Moreover, Laurent shows all his fury through his fierce beats in this great composition highly recommended for banging your head and cracking your spine, while Damien leads the battle with his enraged screams. Then we have Haunting A Shell Of Flesh, slightly slower but heavier than its predecessor due to the smashing drums by Laurent, also presenting hints of the Thrash Metal by Slayer and Testament, with Boris bringing a welcome balance to the song’s neck-breaking core rhythm with his precise guitar lines. And leaning towards modern Thrash Metal (without losing its old school vibe) the band offers us all the title-track Liquidators, bringing forward a great riffage by Boris while Damien effectively screams and shouts the song’s violent lyrics,supported by Jonathan and his backing vocals, who also delivers groovy, solid bass lines during the entire song.

Their feast of contemporary metal blended with traditional riffs and beats from Bay Area Thrash goes on in Your Brain Is Just Insane, another song tailored for headbanging nonstop with the band where Damien and Jonathan once again make a great duo on vocals, pumping up the listener to scream and shout together with them. Lastly, closing the EP the band blasts more aggression in the form of music in Narrow Minded, a song where you’ll be able to enjoy Lebowskii in their most Groove Metal mode, with the sound of bass and drums being truly thunderous. In addition, when you reach this point of the EP you’ll realize that although all five songs are longer than your usual Thrash Metal tune (mainly due to the progressiveness added by all band members with their refined techniques), that doesn’t mean they get tiresome or boring. Quite the contrary, Lebowskii are a band that knows how to captivate our attention for an extended period of time, no matter how long their compositions might be.

If you are a fan of straightforward heavy music with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, then you should definitely give Lebowskii a try by liking their Facebook page, and obviously by buying your copy of the ass-kicking EP Liquidators through their BandCamp page or through the M.U.S.I.C. Records webstore. This is the type of music that once it gets into your day-to-day playlists, it will stay there forever, and you’ll find yourself banging your head to the flammable riffs and hardcore attitude by Lebowskii over and over again. As a matter of fact, remember we’re talking about a five-track EP only, which makes me wonder how insane a full-length album by such promising band shall sound like (and I hope Lebowskii deliver that sooner than later, for our total delight).

Best moments of the album: Why Are We Falling Down? and Liquidators.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 M.U.S.I.C. Records

Track listing
1. Why Are We Falling Down? 5:50
2. Haunting A Shell Of Flesh 5:58
3. Liquidators 5:12
4. Your Brain Is Just Insane 5:47
5. Narrow Minded 6:26

Band members
Damien – guitar, vocals
Jonathan – bass, vocals
Boris – guitar
Laurent – drums

Album Review – Vanguard X Mortem / Amberosia (2018)

A blend of atmospheric and symphonic extreme music known as “Vampyric Metal”, highly recommended for all admirers of the underworld with an insatiable lust for fresh blood.

There are several amazing bands out there who play what fans like to call “Vampire Metal”, or that at least add a few strong elements of this idiosyncratic subgenre of heavy music to their sound, such as Powerwolf, Theatres Des Vampires, Lord Vampyr, Cain’s Dynasty, Draconian, Lacrimosa, Mandragora Scream, Type O Negative, and perhaps the biggest exponent of the genre, British titans Cradle Of Filth, just to name a few. Hailing from the French capital Paris, here comes a very interesting project named Vanguard X Mortem, also venturing through the realms of Vampyric and Baroque Metal and, consequently, joining all the aforementioned bands in the comfortable darkness where vampires reign supreme.

Formed in 2011 by guitarist and songwriter Christophe Florian (also known as L.C.F), from bands like Comédie Macabre and Lords of the Cemetery, Vanguard X Mortem birthed in stylistic blending of Atmospheric and Symphonic Extreme Metal to create their debut album titled [vanguardismortem], in 2012, followed by the full-length album Neptune Fragrance, in 2014, and the EP Anthropomorphism, in 2016. And Christophe returns now in 2018 with a brand new opus entitled Amberosia, a powerful and somber album of extreme music featuring a fiendish artwork by RectopusArt, highly recommended for all admirers of the underworld with an insatiable lust for fresh blood.

The phantasmagoric keys in the horror movie-inspired intro Séraphin set the stage for Christophe and his Vanguard X Mortem to darken our minds in Amberosia, where blazing riffs and an ominous aura permeate the air before Christophe begins firing his vampyric gnarls, accompanied by the ethereal voice by Alix Rousselet. Furthermore, its headbanging, heavy and somber pace is spiced up by elements from old school Cradle of Filth, therefore enhancing its impact on the listener. La Morte Amoureuse, which is French for “the dead woman”, is top-notch Gothic Metal bringing all elements we love in the genre such as theatrical keyboards, slashing riffs, sexy female vocals and huge doses of melancholy, with a fantastic job done by the band’s skillful trio with their instruments, in special Chrisophe with his devilish guitar; whereas Automn Orchard feels and sounds more romantic and melodic, but with the demonic vocals by Christophe giving it a harsher twist in a solid fusion of Gothic Rock and Metal with Atmospheric Extreme Metal. Alix once again embellishes the music with her delicate vocals, while drummer Marco De Barros keeps the pace as mournful and obscure as possible with his Doom Metal-ish beats.

In the excellent Parish of Disillusionment the band offers us orchestral and symphonic music thoroughly fused with Extreme Metal, resulting in a song perfect for breaking your neck headanging while its fiery keys penetrate deep inside your mind, feeling absolutely macabre from start to finish. Then we have L’Emperesse (or “the empress” in English) beautifully impersonated by Alix, who effectively tells us who the empress is and how evil and mischievous she can be, all embraced by nuances of epicness and mystery flowing from the band’s impactful Symphonic Gothic Metal, followed by Nocturne in the Moonlight, carrying a classic song name for a flammable hybrid of Gothic Metal and Symphonic Black Metal. In addition, the paradox between the hellish gnarls by Christophe and the operatic vocals by Alix brings a very interesting taste to the music, not to mention the song’s amazing guitar riffs and solos.

The Flower’s Blood is another song that puts together in a compelling way the more brutish sounds emanated by Christophe and Marco with the angelic voice of Alix, all boosted by its background symphonic elements; while Solstice, the second to last ode to vampirism by Vanguard X Mortem, sounds as dark as expected, but not as exciting as the rest of the album, falling flat after a while despite still bringing some interesting guitars and keys. And in the eerie outro If the End…, gracious and smooth lines make the perfect ambience for Alix to mesmerize us once again with her lecherous vocals, concluding the album on a high note.

If you’re one of those creatures who only come out at night and enjoy a good blend of atmospheric, symphonic and heavy music as the soundtrack of your never-ending nocturnal quest for blood, I highly recommend you go check what Vanguard X Mortem are up to on Facebook, YouTube, ReverbNation and SoundCloud, and of course purchase Amberosia through the Noir Carrousel Records Big Cartel as a regular CD or as a special CD + T-shirt bundle, as well as at other online retailers like Cultura and Fnac. And then you’ll become addicted not only to fresh human blood, but also to French Vampire Metal.

Best moments of the album: La Morte Amoureuse, Parish of Disillusionment and Nocturne in the Moonlight.

Worst moments of the album: Solstice.

Released in 2018 Noir Carrousel/Socadisc

Track listing     
1. Séraphin 1:51
2. Amberosia 6:45
3. La Morte Amoureuse 5:16
4. Automn Orchard 4:41
5. Parish of Disillusionment 4:34
6. L’Emperesse 4:32
7. Nocturne in the Moonlight 3:46
8. The Flower’s Blood 5:17
9. Solstice 4:48
10. If the End… 3:14

Band members
Christophe Florian – vocals, guitars, programming
Alix Rousselet – female vocals, violin
Marco De Barros – drums

Interview – Artyom (Amentia)

If you’re curious to know how the metal scene is in Belarus, here is Artyom, guitarist and one of the founders of Minsk-based Technical Death Metal four-piece beast Amentia, to talk about not only that, but also about his biggest influences in music and a lot of nice-to-know details about the band’s latest album, the pulverizing Scourge.

Artyom (Amentia)

The Headbanging Moose: Can you please introduce Amentia to the readers of The Headbanging Moose, telling a little about your origins, your goals and your music? What are the main differences between Amentia in the early days to what the band is now?

Artyom: Amentia was formed in 2003 in Minsk, Belarus. Initially it was created as a studio project and it remained like that until 2006 when the band performed live for the first time. But the live period didn’t take too long and since 2009 Amentia returned to the status of a studio project due to the numerous line-up changes and the lack of suitable musicians who could play the material live. Though there were some attempts to find the proper members and actually we still don’t give up on performing live and maybe someday we will complete the lineup and present our material on stage. If we speak about the differences between Amentia in the early days and now I can say that this band was playing technical brutal death metal from the very beginning but with each album the music was becoming more and more mature and emphatic. The structures of the songs became more complex, melodies – more interesting, more and more elements of different genres were embedded in the main style of the band’s music, like avant-garde, math, progressive and sometimes even jazzy tunes.

THM: Last year you released an amazing album of old school Death Metal titled Scourge, which has been getting lots of positive reviews worldwide. What can you tell us about the recording process of the album, what worked well and what were your biggest issues? In addition, Scourge is the first release of the band after six years of absolute silence. Why did it take so long for Amentia to record a new album?

Artyom: The recording process itself went pretty smooth but the most difficult part was mixing and mastering. This is the first album which Alex decided to mix himself and it was a big challenge for him. He was studying this process really thoroughly, by trials and errors, and it took a lot of time until he was satisfied with the result. But the main reason why Amentia was silent for 6 years is because each of us has (or had) other bands and we had to dedicate our time also to them. At that time Alex was playing in POSTHUMOUS BLASPHEMER and couple of other projects in different non-metal genres. I performed and am still performing in DEATHBRINGER, DISLOYAL, WOE UNTO ME, THY DISEASE, and also in some bands as a session guitarist. By the way DEATHBRINGER is one more band where we are playing together with Alex.

THM: Scourge also features two new members, Valery “Vile” Toothgrinder and Zubov, both on vocals. Can you tell us a bit about them? How were they chosen to be part of the band, and what do they bring to the band’s music that wasn’t there before?

Artyom: Well, Zubov was a vocalist in POSTHUMOUS BLASPHEMER so Alex and him know each other for quite a long time and played together, so when it came to recording vocals he was the easiest candidate, without any hesitation we decided that his guttural growls would fit perfectly. But we also wanted to diversify the vocals just a little bit by adding some screams and our good friend Vile was eager to try and it appeared that his screams were exactly what we’ve been looking for. The combination of their voices added some density and fat to the music.

THM: Two of my favorite songs of the album are the devastating Anorexia and Sentence Executioner. What’s the story behind those two songs, and what message are you sending to the listener through their lyrics?

Album Review – Amentia / Scourge (2017)

Artyom: I think the names speak for themselves. Anorexia is a song about a person with a very popular nowadays mental disorder, who is obsessed with losing weight and starvation so much that gradually deprives him/herself of vital energy and kills him/herself. Sentence Executioner is a song about a person who works as an executioner in prisons and killing people becomes his everyday routine, the line between life and death erases and he dissolves in the world of torture, mutilation and killing, forgetting about the normal life. In general we do not have any special message which we’d like to send to the listener, we are just showing the brutality of the real world, all the diseases, cruelty and injustice that surround us.

THM: Another nice detail in Scourge is its dark and sinister cover art, designed by Mayhem Project Art. How was the process together with that company until you reached this final design, and what does the album art mean to the overall concept of the album?

Artyom: Our label has offered us to work with Mayhem Project Art. We looked through his works and we were very satisfied with his style. We just gave him the lyrics, explained the main lyrical themes and he came up with an idea to depict a weak and sick character covered with sores and wounds, suffering from the combination of different diseases; a piece of old dirty cloth covers his head, he is abandoned and rejected by everyone. And this collective image covers all the main lyrical themes of this album, so we really liked the idea.

THM: As an old school Death Metal band I’m pretty sure your strongest influences in music come from traditional Death Metal bands like Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse and Death, am I right? Who else has had a significant influence on your music from the Death Metal scene, from other types of heavy music, and even from non-metal styles?

Artyom: Definitely bands like MORBID ANGEL, DEATH, SUFFOCATION and CANNIBAL CORPSE have influenced most of the bands that play death metal. We are listening to all kinds of music and it is reflected to some extent in our works. If we are speaking about extreme music then I can name BLOTTED SCIENCE, DECREPIT BIRTH, MISERY INDEX, GORGASM, GORGUTS, NECROPHAGIST, MESHUGGAH, GOJIRA and many more. What concerns other genres in my case it would be worth mentioning ULVER, PINK FLOYD, WARDRUNA, DEVIN TOWNSEND, TOOL, HAMFERÐ, IHSAHN, LEPROUS, PAIN OF SALVATION, MASTODON, OPETH, BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE, etc. Alex listens also to a lot of funk music, jazz, rhythm and blues, like MARCUS MILLER, VIKTOR WOOTEN, AMY WINEHOUSE, JAMIROQUAI, Ukrainian rock band OKEAN ELZY.

THM: I had the pleasure to review a few bands from Belarus in the past few years, those being Irreversible Mechanism, Dzhatinga and more recently Ljosazabojstwa, all extremely talented but unfortunately with very little support from the media. With that said, how do you see the current metal scene in Belarus? Can we say it’s growing in importance, or is it still way too underground to be considered a true movement in the country? And what other Belarusian metal bands do you recommend to our readers?

Artyom: Nothing has changed in Belarus. Metal is still total underground in our country and looking at the number of people attending metal shows and buying CDs I would say that it’s slowly getting worse unfortunately. But it doesn’t affect so much the amount of metal bands. We have a lot of talented musicians in different genres but not all of them can withstand this situation in underground metal, this poor infrastructure and all kinds of obstacles created by our society, government and general cultural development of the masses. If you haven’t heard about the following bands from Belarus yet, then I’d recommend to check out: SERDCE, DEATHBRINGER, IRREVERSIBLE MECHANISM, RELICS OF HUMANITY, POSTHUMOUS BLASPHEMER, NEBULAE COME SWEET, WOE UNTO ME, and VICTIM PATH.


THM: How have been the concerts to support the release of Scourge? Any memorable moments Amentia have had as a headliner or supporting any major acts in your homeland or in other countries that you would like to share with us?

Artyom: As I’ve mentioned before Amentia is still just a studio project and we don’t play live at all. But I really hope that it will change in the future and we will have some great touring and concert stories to share with you in our next interview.

THM: Now that Scourge has been out for a while, what can you tell us about the future of the band? What are your plans regarding the recording of new material and, consequently, new tour dates?

Artyom: We’ve already started working on new material. Slowly, in the intervals between activities in other bands but the new Amentia album arises.

THM: Thank you very much for your time, we really appreciate that! Please feel free to send your final words to our readers, and anything else you would like to say as your final considerations.

Artyom: Thank you so much for this interview and your interest in Amentia music. Huge thanks to all the readers who will check out this interview. Keep supporting underground metal, attend shows, buy CDs and stay brutal. Only thanks to you metal music is still alive.

Amentia Facebook | VKontakte | BandCamp
Satanath Records Official Website | Facebook | VKontakte | YouTube | BandCamp

Album Review – Death Keepers / Rock This World (2018)

A fresh, catchy and incredibly addicting blend of classic Power Metal with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll influences that will rock your world like there’s no tomorrow.

Born in the fires of Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, in late 2011 by the fusion of the experience and talent of an array of musicians who were driven into gathering the best of Heavy Metal of yesterday and today, five-piece squad Death Keepers sticks to the all-time Heavy Metal style, that quintessential sound and energy that so many fans fell in love with back in the 80’s, spiced up by the technological developments of our era, thus, bringing to life an experience of epic proportions like what you’ll find in their debut album, entitled Rock This World, a fresh and fulfilling Heavy Metal extravaganza pushed into the next wave of Heavy Metal evolution.

Death Keepers released their debut EP On the Sacred Way in 2013, and since then they’ve been working on their debut album, developing their own sound by adding more and more Hard Rock influences to their previous Power Metal sound. Including both revamped songs from their EP as well as brand new tunes, Rock This World brings to the listener a fresh, catchy and incredibly addicting blend of classic Power Metal the likes of of Helloween and Judas Priest with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll influences that give the whole album an unusual and tremendously infectious feel. With that said, simply put on your old school leather jacket and get ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow with those five Spanish metallers.

Ladies and gentlemen, start up your engines and join Death Keepers in their frantic race for Rock N’ Roll in the opening track straightforwardly titled Rock & Roll City, where frontman Dey Rus fires those classic metallic vocals we all love so much in heavy music, complemented by the fantastic guitars by both Eddy Gary and Antonio Maties. Fire Angel sounds and feels more melodic and epic with pure Heavy Metal flowing from all instruments, reminding me of the music by icons such as Edguy, Avantasia and Sebastien, being perfect for singing along with the band with your fists in the air; whereas in Death Keepers the band tells the world who they are by delivering an ass-kicking Heavy Metal sonority led by the fast and rhythmic beats by Miki Hunter (who’s by the way flawlessly supported by the rumbling bass by Gorka Alegre), being clearly inspired by old school Helloween. And the band’s guitar duo sounds even more Helloween-ish than before in Haven’s Heaven, showcasing great pace and dynamism among all band members in another ode to classic metal.

In the title-track Rock This World, not only the sound of the guitars by Eddy and Antonio keeps burning our skin, but their solos are also a thing of beauty, not to mention another solid performance by Dey on vocals. Put differently, Death Keepers definitely know how to rock our world in a beyond fun way, right? And it’s time to add a pinch of their Spanish musical heritage to the album through the melancholic acoustic guitars in Thriving Forcast, before all their electricity returns in this instrumental power ballad featuring some excellent guitar solos and tons of feeling; followed by Love’s Within (Yourself), where it’s quite interesting to see how the vocals by Dey feel like a fusion of Andi Deris and Tobias Sammet, while Miki keeps the sonority at full speed with his beats and Eddy, Antonio and Gorka create a thrilling onrush of metal with their strings.

If you consider yourself a diehard metalhead with true Heavy Metal flowing through your veins you’ll love Wildfire, with Dey being flawlessly supported by the song’s backing vocals. Hence, you’ll start playing some air guitar with Death Keepers without even noticing so compelling the entire song is. Then the bridge Invention IV presents one minute of pure dexterity on guitars before Metallia comes ripping our metal hearts in superb fashion, with the entire band firing the purest form of Heavy Metal you can think of with their scorching instruments. Furthermore, Gorka is a beast with his galloping bass lines, while Dey provides some excellent high-pitched vocals in this top-tier tribute to all things metal. And in the closing tune, named Smooth Hit Love, a Hard Rock-like acoustic start evolves into a passionate power ballad led by the touching riffs and solos by Eddy and Antonio, while Dey puts his heart and soul into declaiming the song’s love words until the sound of the ocean comes to end it beautifully.

You can take a full listen at Rock This World on Spotify, but if you love traditional Heavy Metal more than you love your own life and family I highly recommend you go purchase the album right now without even blinking through the Fighter Records BandCamp, through the Xtreem Music webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon, and add each one of its hard rockin’ songs to the playlist of your most electrifying moments in life. Because, you know, they are Death Keepers, and they’re among us with one single purpose in mind, to keep rocking our world like there’s no tomorrow.

Best moments of the album: Rock & Roll City, Death Keepers, Wildfire and Metallia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records

Track listing   
1. Rock & Roll City 3:24
2. Fire Angel 4:40
3. Death Keepers 5:08
4. Haven’s Heaven 5:21
5. Rock This World 4:25
6. Thriving Forcast (Instrumental) 4:54
7. Love’s Within (Yourself) 5:04
8. Wildfire 6:38
9. Invention IV (Instrumental) 0:56
10. Metallia 4:37
11. Smooth Hit Love 8:50

Band members
Dey Rus – lead vocals
Eddy Gary – lead & rhythm guitar
Antonio Maties – lead & rhythm guitar
Gorka Alegre – bass
Miki Hunter – drums

Album Review – Sex Dumpster / Lord Alcohol (2018)

Breathing in the rotten stench of humanity’s decay, here come Sex Dumpster and their one-way trip to the void in the form of filthy Black Metal.

The world we’ve built is a hard, unforgiving place, full of cruelty, dirt and despair. Every shadow hides a nightmare and every alleyway a nest of unreasoning hatred. You may want to avert your gaze, wrap yourself in a protective cloak of pretty lies and colourful deceptions, immerse yourself in the garish delusions of television and the distracting mundanity of music for the masses, but you can’t hide from reality forever. That’s why an infamous Black Metal duo that goes by the charming name of Sex Dumpster is among us, to tear away your blindfolds and grind your face into the filth of existence until you choke, and they’ll do that by mercilessly crushing your senses with their unrelenting new album, poetically titled Lord Alcohol.

The origins of Sex Dumpster can be traced back to frozen isolation in Alaska, where vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Hiram Lohr first pulled together the disparate souls that would form the band Thousand Year War. After releasing a full-length album and one EP, Thousand Year War collapsed into ruin, with Hiram turning his back on the ice and snow and heading to the sultry, putrefying heat of Mexico, more specifically to Cozumel, a mostly undeveloped Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, where he breathed in the rotten stench of humanity’s decay and submerged himself in the conscienceless bile of bitter existence. Armed with riffs rusted in piss and blood, wielded with a vicious, vehement intent and radiating a haunting atmosphere of emptiness, Lord Alcohol is Sex Dumpster’s howling hymn to nothingness, a one-way trip to the void highly recommended for fans of bands like Taake, Urgehal and Nattefrost.

Put together a violent mix old school Black Metal with a Punk Rock attitude and the most aggressive lyrics you can think of, and there you have the demented Bible Up Your Ass (and you better get used to the “gentle” song names found in Lord Alcohol). In this inspiring chant, Hiram seems to be vomiting the song’s blasphemous words, which in the end works really well, while the bestial Grega Plamberger doesn’t stop crushing his drum set; and Hiram’s filthy rant of profanity goes on in Cunt World, firing some truly acid riffs and gnarls tailored for haunting our souls, therefore generating the perfect soundtrack for slamming into the pit or banging your head like a maniac. And Doom Metal-inspired lines set the tone for the vile Shit On My Grave, a darker and more melancholic tune where Grega switches between slower, almost sluggish beats and sheer devastation, with his infernal drumming flawlessly supporting Hiram’s deranged screams.

Ivar The Boneless is an Epic Black Metal-like creation by Sex Dumpster, a deviant battle hymn showcasing crushing beats, raw guitar riffs and an amazing performance by Hiram and his harsh vocals, and the final result couldn’t sound more compelling and vibrant; whereas Lord Alcohol continues with the epic vibe from its predecessor, worshiping our beloved alcohol through Grega’s rhythmic drumming and the spot-on atmospheric elements in the background, in an interesting fusion of raw Black Metal with modern Epic Metal. Then Sex Dumpster smash our heads with a brilliant cover version for GG Allin’s classic I Kill Everything I Fuck, from the album Brutality & Bloodshed for All by GG Allin & The Murder Junkies (check the original version HERE). In a nutshell, Sex Dumpster’s version is just as dirty, nasty and aggressive as the original one recorded by one of the most demented and controversial artists of all time. And there’s more craziness for your ears in This Lonely Rope, an obscure and sluggish chant where the strident sound of guitars make an interesting duo with the heaviness of drums, all embraced by an almost mesmerizing rhythm (despite not being as good as all previous songs).

With a name like Fist Fucking Motherfucker you can only expect violence, hatred and devastation flowing from all instruments, with a great job done by Hiram and his crisp Black Metal riffs. Let’s say that although this is perhaps one of the worst songs for listening in a public place (if you care about your personal reputation, of course), it’s indeed a damn fun composition. The second to last deranged tune in Lord Alcohol, entitled Klonopin Dreams, Suicidal Requiems, is an instrumental extravaganza where the duo goes mental, mixing Black Metal with other metal styles such as Power and Progressive Metal (and even hints of non-metal styles), turning it into a must-listen for fans of the more disturbed side of metal music. Lastly, closing the album we have more crude, belligerent and visceral sounds coming from the duo’s guitar lines and drums in Under The Night, with all the darkness bred by Sex Dumpster growing in intensity until the song’s abrupt finale.

Do you have the guts to enter the realm of sheer debauchery and sacrilege brought forth by Hiram Lohr and his bloodcurdling spawn Sex Dumpster? In case you consider yourself demented enough to face the band’s crusty Black Metal, all you have to do is visit Sex Dumpster’s Facebook page to get more info about this American-Mexican monstrosity and their irreligious music. Right now you won’t find Lord Alcohol for sale at any retailer such as BandCamp, iTunes or Amazon, and I have absolutely no idea if the album will ever be on sale at any of those. Maybe that’s what Hiram wants, right? Maybe the only place you’ll be able to find Lord Alcohol will be behind a dirty and stinking dumpster, in line with all the rottenness found throughout such distinct album.

Best moments of the album: Bible Up Your Ass, Ivar The Boneless and Fist Fucking Motherfucker.

Worst moments of the album: This Lonely Rope.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing   
1. Bible Up Your Ass 4:20
2. Cunt World 4:41
3. Shit On My Grave 4:49
4. Ivar The Boneless 5:08
5. Lord Alcohol 6:01
6. I Kill Everything I Fuck (GG Allin cover) 2:23
7. This Lonely Rope 5:06
8. Fist Fucking Motherfucker 3:30
9. Klonopin Dreams, Suicidal Requiems 4:26
10. Under The Night 5:34

Band members
Hiram Lohr – vocal, guitar, bass
Grega Plamberger – drums

Album Review – Funeral Winds / Sinister Creed (2018)

A blasphemous and extremely austere album of old school Black Metal by a cult Dutch entity, offering us all endless fury, hate, rage and scorn, all spiced up by a bit of good old black magic.

Twenty seven years after their foundation, Dutch Black Metal horde Funeral Winds are more than ready to spread darkness upon the earth with the release of their fourth full-length album, titled Sinister Creed. Definitely not a prolific band, the Rotterdam-based offspring of multi-instrumentalist Hellchrist XUL won’t offer you anything that hasn’t been there since their beginning back in 1991, those being fury, hate, rage and scorn, all spiced up by a bit of good old black magic, allowing you to summon demons while listening to this blasphemous and extremely austere album of old school Black Metal. Written and recorded between 2014 and 2017 at Necromanteion Studio, in Belgium, Sinister Creed will please all fans of the darkest forms of extreme music without a shadow of a doubt, making your hearts and souls even darker than they already are.

Do not look for any fine music craftsmanship, as Funeral Winds are devoted to master the black arts, not some hip fine tune; therefore, there is only one thing you can expect from this infernal Dutch duo, and that’s total devastation. If you are into music evolutions, new genres and refined, subtle post-production gimmicks you are very welcome to look elsewhere, as Sinister Creed is an album for those whose thirst for blood was never satisfied, whose love for the early 90’s is still alive and kicking, and whose black flame never extinguished. It might have taken over 10 years for Funeral Winds to return with new material, with their previous installment, named Nexion Xul – The Cursed Bloodline, being released in the already distant year of 2007, but the duo is back in full force to destroy the silence that took place during their hiatus with endless dosages of hellspawn Black Metal.

Sinister noises ignite the ode to darkness entitled The Road to Perdition, before Hellchrist XUL comes crushing our souls mercilessly with his demented gnarls and pulverizing riffs, giving life (or I should say death) to the song’s darkly poetic lyrics (“The angles slowly align themselves / With every step I take / on this unpaved road to perdition / A path full of rocks with sharp edges / That cut strips of flesh / with each incautious step taken”). In Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh we’re treated to absolute chaos and devastation in the form of Black Metal, with session drummer M.Z. Inversus sounding like an unstoppable bulldozer. Furthermore, the song has a hardcore feel that only makes it more flammable and therefore more enjoyable, setting the tone for another onslaught of aggressive, old school Black Metal named The Arrival, showcasing the always demented screams by Hellchrist XUL, powerfully boosted by the song’s sick drumming, insane guitar lines and endless obscurity.

The title-track Sinister Creed maintains the album’s acidity and rage at an extremely high level, With pure sulphur flowing from all instruments, in special from its blast beats and flammable guitars which will rip your heart out in a gruesome way. Then featuring Amon XUL on guest vocals, Funeral Winds manage to get even more frantic and demented than before in Blood, a fantastic display of visceral Black Metal that’s utterly loyal to the foundations of the genre; followed by Black Moon over Saturn: featuring Hekte Zaren on guest vocals, this insane tune presents an operatic, choir-like intro to a feast of blackened sounds and roars, resulting in a beautiful blend of raw Black Metal with Doom Metal and symphonic elements.

Never slowing down, never softening their music, Funeral Winds continue their path to the underworld by offering the listener an explosion of metallic riffs and bestial drums named Seven Arrows, Knife and Flame (Sekhmet), where Hellchrist XUL sounds truly possessed on vocals (which in Black Metal is always a very positive addition to the musicality, of course). And as the closing act of such demonic album we have Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae, which means “now and at the hour of our death” in English, with its over seven minutes of first-class Black Metal that will disturb your peace and exterminate your mind, also presenting some insanely dark words vociferated by Hellchrist XUL (“I have crawled from the womb of eternal darkness / Out of the void into the light I abhor / I have crawled from the womb of emptiness / Out of the abyss into this world / I am here not to please, I am here not to bring joy”), with the music flowing flawlessly until its ungodly, transcendental ending.

You can take a full, detailed listen at Sinister Creed on YouTube or on Spotify, and in case you’re already a loyal member of the dark side you can purchase the album at the Funeral Winds’ BandCamp, at the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp or Big Cartel, at the Season of Mist webshop, at Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Funeral Winds on Facebook and to keep an eye on their YouTube channel for more music and videos by such distinct Black Metal act, and may the pitch black darkness bred by Funeral Winds in their Mephistophelian career keep haunting our souls for decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh, Blood and Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Avantgarde Music

Track listing  
1. The Road to Perdition 4:47
2. Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh 3:59
3. The Arrival 3:30
4. Sinister Creed 2:44
5. Blood 3:05
6. Black Moon over Saturn 5:26
7. Seven Arrows, Knife and Flame (Sekhmet) 4:27
8. Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae 7:37

Band members
Hellchrist XUL – vocals, all instruments
M.Z. Inversus – drums (session)

Guest musicians
Amon XUL – additional vocals on “Blood”
Hekte Zaren – additional vocals on ‘Black Moon over Saturn”

Beverage Review – Megadeth’s À Tout Le Monde Beer

A superb beer that tastes smooth and fresh without losing the core punch and energy of a good brew, just like its beyond-classic eponymous Heavy Metal ballad.

“À tout le monde, à tous mes amis
Je vous aime, je dois partir
These are the last words I’ll ever speak
And they’ll set me free”

À Tout Le Monde, which gained a revamped version titled À Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free) in 2007 featuring Cristina Scabbia, is not only one of the biggest hits by Thrash/Speed Metal titans Megadeth, but also one of the most touching, most recognizable and most powerful metal ballads of all time without a shadow of doubt. However, in 2016 À Tout Le Monde also became a synonym to a new beer by Unibroue, a brewery located in Chambly, Quebec, Canada that was started by Serge Racine and Quebec native André Dion in 1990, and known for some of the most admired craft beers in Quebec and in the rest of Canada such as Blanche de Chambly (Witbier), Don de Dieu (Tripel Wheat Ale), Maudite (Strong Red Ale), and Unibroue’s flagship beer La Fin du Monde (Tripel).

Born of the friendship between Unibroue’s brewmaster Jerry Vietz and the one and only Dave Mustaine, À Tout Le Monde is a flavorful Belgian-style, dry-hopped saison with hoppy and spicy notes, a clean, fresh taste and a crisp dry finish, dedicated to all fans of Heavy Metal and Belgian-style ales from around the world, using a dry hopping technique and, to date, having the lowest alcohol content of any Unibroue beer at 4.5%. Furthermore, À Tout Le Monde is not the first strike into the business of alcoholic beverages by “Megadave”, as back in 2014 he teamed up with Fallbrook Winery winemaker Vernon Kindred to create the Mustaine Vineyards. Although I haven’t tried any of the wines by the Mustaine Vineyards yet (and I do enjoy a good wine), as a beer guy I’m absolutely certain none of their wines can beat À Tout Le Monde, nor any of the several beers brewed by any other band in the world. And don’t worry, as I won’t be cheesy by jesting with you guys saying À Tout Le Monde is a beer “for everyone”. Or will I?

If you access the official Unibroue page for À Tout Le Monde, you’ll see their beer and food pairings list includes very distinct options such as  grilled steak, charcuteries, nachos, mussels and comté-style cooked pressed cheese, but to be honest I think you can pair this outstanding beer even with marshmallows, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a slice of watermelon so good and fresh it tastes. Displaying a yellow color, slightly golden with hazy appearance, and tasting slightly spicy and astringent with notes of tropical fruits and citrus like mango and litchi, À Tout Le Monde can usually be found in Canada as 341 ml or 750 ml bottles, as a 30,000 ml keg, or as draft beer, being sold at The Beer Store or at LCBO with prices going from CAD$ 14.95 for a pack of 6 bottles of 341 ml to CAD$ 222.15 for the keg. As a matter of fact, it actually took a long time for the closet The Beer Store to where I live to start selling À Tout Le Monde, which means if you do not live in Quebec your pursuit for À Tout Le Monde can get a little tedious, frustrating and time-consuming (unless you have some extra money to buy it directly online and deal with the delivery fees, of course).

The idea for the beer came about when Megadeth headlined the Festival d’été de Québec, playing their kick-ass Thrash and Speed Metal in front of eighty thousand people in 2015. “We had pulled up in the middle of the day and went to the hotel with this guy named Jerry Vietz from Unibroue. And we both had a lot of stuff in common and we hit it off right away. I was kind of sampling some of the different beverages that he had. And I told him, ‘I like this. I like this about this one. I like this about that one.’ And we made a second round, brought the liquid down to Nashville and tried it again. And I said, ‘Okay, so it’s getting really close. I like this about this, and I like this about that.’ And then I got to taste the final product for the first time in Orlando”, said Mustaine, who also had a few interesting words to say about the boom of music-inspired beers from other bands. “It’s funny, because I’ve spoken with a couple of beer magazines now — I didn’t know they had beer magazines, but evidently they do — and they said, ‘Have you tried the Iron Maiden beer?’ ‘Oh, yeah, of course.’ ‘Have you tried the AC/DC beer?’ ‘No. How is it?’ ‘Oh, it’s terrible.’ ‘Have you tried the Motörhead beer?’ ‘No. How is it?’ ‘Well, it’s okay.’ And they told me that Mastodon has a beer, I think, and then New Order has a beer too”, Mustaine said. “And it’s, like, okay, well, maybe these dudes got into it just to kind of slap their name on a can of beer or something like that. I did this because when we did the wine… In April of 2014, we made wine [to coincide with Mustaine’s performance with the San Diego Symphony], so that there was something really cool that would be like a social lubricant with everybody, but also be like an adhesive where everybody would come together with the two worlds colliding.”

Of course, as any other beer inspired or crafted by a Heavy Metal band, there are a lot of “extras” available for diehard fans of Megadeth who loved the beer like myself, some of those being free like the YouTube videos with Bernard Johnson, a Regional Sales Manager from Unibroue, talking about À Tout Le Monde, and Dave Mustaine himself talking about making his own beer and wishing us all Happy Holidays (in 2016, when the beer was launched); and if you have some spare cash to invest on some À Tout Le Monde merch you can go to the official Megadeth webstore and select whatever suits you best from the options available. I’ll personally save my money for the beer itself, buying at least the pack with 6 bottles whenever I find it here in Ontario or when I visit Quebec, and not only because I’m a longtime fan of the music by Dave Mustaine & Co., but because À Tout Le Monde is indeed a superb beer, tasting smooth and fresh without losing the core punch and energy of a good brew, just like its beyond-classic eponymous Heavy Metal ballad.

Beer details
Country: Canada
Brewer: Unibroue
Fermentation: Top
Style: Belgian Style Dry, Hopped Saison
Alcohol Content (ABV): 4.5%
Color: Yellow, slightly golden with hazy appearance
SRM: 5,5
Clarity: Slightly cloudy
Head: Egg whites
Bubbles: Fine
Effervescence: Medium and sustained
IBU: 22
Body: Medium
Aftertaste: Medium
Price: CAD$ 14.95 (6 × Bottle 341 ml), CAD$ 26.95 (12 × Bottle 341 ml), CAD$ 50.95 (24 × Bottle 341 ml), CAD$ 222.15 (1 × Keg 30000 ml)

Album Review – Minneriket / Anima Sola (2018)

A scorching extravaganza of Norwegian Black Metal that will consume your soul, thoroughly put together by a one-man army of darkness.

Norwegian Romantic Black Metal one-man army Minneriket is the work of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, who created the project back in 2014 for as much a philosophical and spiritual channeling as a musical outlet. Drawing on influences as various as punk and goth yet steeped in the intensity of the early Norwegian Black Metal scene, Minneriket, which translates as “the kingdom of memories”, is honest and real, reflecting both self and society, knocking down barriers and ignoring taboos, breathing new life into the genre in a completely uncompromising manner. After the releases of the albums Vargtimen in 2015, Stjerner, speil og svartebøker… in 2016, and more recently the Burzum tribute From the Veins of a Nearly Dead Boy in 2017 (which officially received inclusion on the Vikernes Burzum website), Minneriket returns in full force, unleashing upon humanity the project’s latest opus Anima Sola.

The title of the album, which means “lonely soul” in English, and the artwork, designed by Czech artist Anna Marine, are based on the catholic imagery of the lonely spirit burning in purgatory. The soul which is burning forever, but is never entirely consumed by the flames. It’s the war between spirits and matter, and fire as both a destructive force of nature and the kindle in your heart. Musically speaking, Anima Sola is a scorching extravaganza of Norwegian Black Metal that will consume your soul, with Stein doing a fantastic job on vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards throughout the whole album, leaving you completely disoriented after each of its ten piercing compositions is over, it doesn’t matter if sung in English or in his mother tongue Norwegian.

Tro, håp og kjærlighet (Norwegian for “faith, hope and love”) brings a somber, melancholic intro that keeps growing darker and darker, until Stein arises from the crypts of hades with his hellish gnarls, with his Stygian guitars generating a mesmerizing rhythm. In other words, this is Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest. And things get even better in An All Too Human Heart, featuring guest musician Fredrik Rex  (Blodsgard) on guitars and bass. Offering the listener that strident Black Metal riffage we all love so much, Stein attacks our souls with an infernal storm of old school Norwegian Black Metal, sounding absolutely bestial on vocals and, consequently, more obscure than anything or anyone you can imagine. Furthermore, it’s impressive how he masterfully blends the sheer obscurity of Black Metal with the smoothness and delicacy of ambient music, which is exactly the case in When Life Gets Sick, the Dead Grow Strong, always sounding and feeling pugnacious and chthonic, with the song’s riffs and beats being in full diabolical sync, effectively boosting its overall impact.

Then disturbing sounds permeate the air in I am the Serpent Son, a song tailored for lovers of the darkest form of Norwegian Extreme Metal where Stein uses his voice in an otherworldly way to distill its stylish lyrics (“I submit to your beauty and wisdom / I will learn all your black arts / Mother Lilith! / See to all my needs / so that I may grow and conquer this world”). And there’s not a single second of peace or hope in over seven minutes of extreme music in Between Infinity and Melancholy, where Stein keeps firing his blistering guitar lines and enraged vociferations, with the musicality feeling extremely raw and primeval, but still very polished due to the above average production of the album. Then in Det lyset jeg ikke kan se (or “the light I cannot see”), also featuring Fredrik Rex, we face over 13 minutes of a descent into the pits of hell full where thunderous bass punches and steady beats steal the spotlight for the first three minutes, before a sonic onrush of traditional Black Metal lacerates our minds mercilessly. In addition, Stein and his Minneriket don’t let our souls rest not even during the atmospheric break in this full-bodied blackened aria, proving how precise he is with his instruments.

Stein then treats us with a wicked beginning and his disturbing, Satanic vocal lines in Sorger er tyngst i solskinn (“sorrow is the heaviest in sunshine”), all effectively supported by the song’s somber instrumental pieces, feeling extremely metallic, inhuman and bizarre from start to finish; while Alle hjerter banker ei (or “all hearts beat one” in English) leans towards vile Blackened Doom, where once again Stein delivers hypnotizing riffs and beats that will drag your soul to the underworld, with endless grief and despair flowing from all instruments. And his most damned and depressive side keeps dominating his mind in the desperate hymn Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan (“pain, beauty and Satan”), being slow and steady as good Doom Metal should be without forgetting the project’s old school Black Metal core, before a sonic havoc of putrid sounds entitled Time for Suicide comes crushing our hearts, with its lyrics being as perturbing as they can be, especially through Stein’s evil gnarls (“Headaches taunt me with flashbacks of the past / Call it fear, but I think it runs deeper / an infection that eats away at my soul / furthering my suffering and doubling my agony”).

In summary, Anima Sola, which can be enjoyed in its entirety on Spotify, might be considered by many Minneriket’s strongest work to date, proving how focused, professional and passionate about extreme music Mr. Akslen is, always moving forward and never sounding outdated or bland. You should definitely check his other albums, news and future plans on Facebook and on YouTube, and grab your copy of Anima Sola through the project’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. Stein himself commented that the album was created because “we need to talk about the darkness”, also saying that the album “speaks of solitude and ineptitude, loss and yearning; humorless Black Metal with music and lyrics equally painful and raw.” Well, let’s face it, the man behind Minneriket more than succeeded in sending his dark message to the world with Anima Sola.

Best moments of the album: An All Too Human Heart, I am the Serpent Son and Det lyset jeg ikke kan se.

Worst moments of the album: Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan.

Released in 2018 Akslen Black Art Records

Track listing  
1. Tro, håp og kjærlighet 5:40
2. An All Too Human Heart 3:33
3. When Life Gets Sick, the Dead Grow Strong 3:59
4. I am the Serpent Son 4:34
5. Between Infinity and Melancholy 7:35
6. Det lyset jeg ikke kan se 13:25
7. Sorger er tyngst i solskinn 6:10
8. Alle hjerter banker ei 4:52
9. Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan 3:30
10. Time for Suicide 2:27

Band members
Stein Akslen – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards

Guest musician
Fredrik Rex – guitars and bass on “An All Too Human Heart” and “Det lyset jeg ikke kan se”