Album Review – Crossbones / WWIII (2017)

The most longstanding and influential metal act from Albania returns with a brand new opus, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities.

When vocalist Olsi Ballta grabbed an Albanian-English dictionary in 1996 and picked the first word on the page he randomly opened, he had no idea he would be founding the most recognized metal act in Albania and the only band from the mid 90’s that kept going. That’s how everything started for Tirana-based Heavy/Thrash Metal band Crossbones, the first Albanian rock band to have released a genuine full-length album on CD (their debut album called Days Of Rage, from 1997), who led them to play several concerts and festivals in the local scene, as well as within the region comprised of Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and Kosovo, and to perform alongside major names such as Ian Paice (Deep Purple’s legendary drummer) and Rotting Christ.

After the release of a few singles, demos, a live album, a compilation and a stylish box set in the following years, Crossbones are finally back with new material, the full-length record entitled WWIII, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities in order to provide the listener a full-bodied metal attack that effectively represents not only the name and the artwork of the album, but also the core essence of the band. Perhaps due to the fact that Crossbones have been active through a couple of decades already, the music found in WWIII will provide you a voyage through old school and modern metal music, which only brings more flavor to the entire album. And let’s be honest, for a band that comes from a country where metal has absolutely (and unfortunately) zero support, what these guys do with their music is beyond fantastic.

The high amount of heaviness and groove emanating from all instruments from the very first second in I’m God, a potent mid-tempo Groove Metal composition with blazing guitar solos and neck-breaking riffs, will punch you in the face mercilessly, with lead singer Olsi Ballta delivering classic and melodious Thrash Metal vocal lines. And that’s only the beginning, as the straightforward tune Gates of Hell, led by guitarist Ben Turku and his slashing riffs, will please all fans of heavy music, with drummer Theo Napoloni and bassist Klejd Guza adding tons of groove to the musicality with their pounding beats and thunderous notes, respectively. In the slightly more atmospheric (but still as heavy as hell) Gjallë, or “alive” from Albanian, Theo and Klejd once again become the dynamic duo of fierceness, setting the perfect tone for Olsi to growl the song’s lyrics (which by the way are in Albanian).

The interesting WTF, which obviously means “what the fuck”, is more alternative than all previous tracks, focusing on the cutting strings by both Ben and Klejd while Olsi fires anguished and acid vocals, therefore increasing the song’s obscurity, with its ending being a sheer Groove Metal feast; whereas Messing with the Masses is a lot more introspective and somber, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. The dissonant and macabre guitar solo by Ben halfway through it is very effective though, while its second half sounds like a completely different song, being a mix of Alternative and Nu Metal. Schizo gets back to a more direct metal sonority thanks to the high dosage of harmony coming from the guitars by Ben, with Olsi also singing in his mother tongue and sounding more aggressive and demented, in sync with the theme proposed by the song’s name.

Rise offers thrilling Heavy Metal the way we headbanging bastards like it, also bringing elements from Sludge and Stoner Metal (therefore showing the band’s versatility) while Klejd simply kicks ass with his bass lines, supporting the song’s old school metallic lyrics (“I’m taking my chances / Roaming the streets / A wild stab in the dark / And over the fences / A million of thoughts / And fresh blood in the heart”). After a short eerie intro, the band delivers a dark version of Groove Metal with elements from Gothic Rock and Metal in You Fool, where Olsi steals the spotlight with his melancholic growls, supported by the heavy, obscure sounds blasted by all other bands members; followed by That Kind of Feeling, a dark semi-ballad by Crossbones featuring melodic elements from contemporary metal music blended with traditional vocal lines and the punch of Groove Metal, adding more taste to the album. And the second installment of the opening track, simply titled I’m God, Pt. 2, closes WWIII, beginning in a very sorrowful and pensive manner and being a lot more atmospheric than any other song of the album. In other words, a beautiful ending for WWIII, with Olsi having a truly passionate performance on vocals.

If you want to show your support to Crossbones and Albanian metal, simply visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and buy your copy of WWIII on iTunes, Amazon, Target, CD Universe, Walmart, hbdirect.com and several other retailers. We might not be ready for a real-life World War III, but we should all be more than happy with the music presented by this longstanding Albanian squad in WWIII, an album that will certainly cement the legacy of such important band for metal in Albania, in Eastern Europe and anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Gates of Hell, Gjallë and Rise.

Worst moments of the album: Messing with the Masses.

Released in 2017 Nadir Music

Track listing
1. I’m God 6:55
2. Gates of Hell 5:52
3. Gjallë 4:39
4. WTF 6:32
5. Messing with the Masses 5:23
6. Schizo 6:05
7. Rise 4:41
8. You Fool 4:38
9. That Kind of Feeling 5:58
10. I’m God, Pt. 2 3:39

Band members
Olsi Ballta – vocals
Ben Turku – guitars
Klejd Guza – bass
Theo Napoloni – drums

Album Review – The Sun Through a Telescope / Black Hole Smile (2017)

Brave the psychedelic sludge waters of Doom and Drone Metal brought forth by this inventive one-man band from Canada, and have your musical boundaries pushed further in a unique way.

I love when a band challenges our senses and pushes our musical boundaries further and further, which is exactly what you’ll face in Black Hole Smile, the brand new album by Canadian Drone/Doom Metal one-man project The Sun Through a Telescope, led by Ottawa-based multi-instrumentalist Leigh Newton (also known as Lee Neutron). In nothing less than 17 (yes, seventeen!) distinct tracks, Lee offers the listener an unconventional fusion of several styles and genres that will blow your mind, or as he likes to say, his music is where “Blackened Doom meets Ambient Drone, soaked in psychedelic sludge water.”

Lee has been very active with his The Sun Through a Telescope since 2011, having released a few EP’s that year before his first full-length album, titled I Die Smiling, came to light in 2013. The following year saw the birth of a new EP named Unnatural Cruciform on a Moss Covered Rock, paving the path for Lee to go even further with his creativity and bring forth Black Hole Smile. Each song will sound different than the others, each one being a distinct experiment by Lee, creating a parallel universe of music that might not make a lot of sense at first, but that will certainly get you entranced from start to finish.

In the very atmospheric, psychedelic and experimental Never Pray, Lee’s clean vocals sound as if he was in a different dimension, with the song’s background being only a distant, smooth noise, becoming an interesting warm-up for Living Every Single Hell, where alternative and distorted guitars are complemented by slow, sharp beats before an explosion of rage and anger with elements of Black and Death Metal invades our ears. Furthermore, Lee goes from maniac growls to desolated clean vocals and back to his demented mode à la Mike Patton, guiding us in a 10-minute voyage through the world of The Sun Through a Telescope. With such an impactful name, I couldn’t expect anything less visceral and experimental than Worm(hole)s, where Lee offers more of his hypnotic guitars and doomed beats, as well as his sick gnarls blending Drone and Doom Metal in a very gripping manner; followed by The Inverted Cross Of A Sunday Funday, a fun and solid instrumental piece by this one-man army displaying less than two minutes of demonic sounds inspired by the meanest forms of Industrial and Drone Metal.

“More Light” continues with Lee’s movie score-inspired extravaganza, being somehow epic and building an instant connection to Every Single Living Hell (note the word play with the second track of the album), with the crow in the background giving it a funereal vibe before becoming a hellish hybrid of Blackened Doom and Drone Metal, also presenting wicked sounds usually found in Alternative and Groove Metal. Focusing on its choir-like vocals and gentle guitar lines, the purely atmospheric composition Dead Dies, New Born gets to a more Alternative Rock and Metal sonority halfway through it, giving even a sense of hope to the whole song, whereas Something Witchy offers 40 seconds of a demented devastation full of distortions and wicked growls before peace returns in No Way Home. However, that peaceful ambience lasts only until half of the song, when Lee beings firing his blast beats and atmospheric vocals again.

Black Hole Bile and “Oh No, This Is Mine” are two similar but somehow unique one-minute deranged instrumental tunes, while A Prolonged Vegetative State presents a more violent side of The Sun Through a Telescope, showcasing deeper guttural and heavier sounds as if Faith No More was “poisoned” with the darkness of Drone and Doom Metal. And never tired of experimenting with different sounds, Lee delivers the Ambient Black Metal tunes Burn Everything and No More Light, with things only getting weirder and more experimental as the album progresses, so alternative it’s impossible to label what’s happening. If I try to explain the music in Caught, Drugged, Trial, Exile, one more atmospheric creation spawned by Lee, I would say there’s an inner fury in this song that never fully comes out, increasing its anxiousness and despair, while the melancholy and the sounds of birds in the background in Dead Tomorrow flow into the pleasant sonority with smooth vocals and the delicate instrumental from Whitehole / Brighthell, with moments of anger meticulously inserted at specific parts of the song, building a suffocating and climatic conclusion to this extravagant album.

If you want to know more about Lee and his The Sun Through a Telescope, simply visit his Facebook page for the most up-to-date news, with Black Hole Smile (which can be streamed in its entirety HERE) being available for purchase on BandCamp, CD Baby, iTunes and on Amazon. After swimming in the psychedelic sludge waters of Doom and Drone Metal proposed by The Sun Through a Telescope, I’m sure your view of the current state of heavy music will change considerably, proving how important independent artists like Lee are for music and arts in general.

Best moments of the album: Living Every Single Hell, Every Single Living Hell, A Prolonged Vegetative State and Whitehole / Brighthell.

Worst moments of the album: “Oh No, This Is Mine” and No More Light.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Never Pray 2:55
2. Living Every Single Hell 9:57
3. Worm(hole)s 6:20
4. The Inverted Cross Of A Sunday Funday 1:39
5. “More Light” 1:35
6. Every Single Living Hell 7:50
7. Dead Dies, New Born 4:06
8. Something Witchy 0:38
9. No Way Home 3:14
10. Black Hole Bile 1:06
11. “Oh No, This Is Mine” 1:17
12. A Prolonged Vegetative State 2:59
13. Burn Everything 1:04
14. No More Light 2:05
15. Caught, Drugged, Trial, Exile 5:38
16. Dead Tomorrow 0:51
17. Whitehole / Brighthell 7:08

Band members
Lee Neutron – vocals, guitars, bass, drums, programming, samples

Guest musician
Ava – additional vocals

Album Review – netra / Ingrats (2017)

The perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres into a coherent stream of melancholy, might be right in front of your eyes thanks to this exquisite Urban Black Metal one-man project.

Conveying images of a grey, boring and anxiogenic city life, Urban Black Metal one-man project netra is back with its third full-length album, titled Ingrats (which is French for “ungrateful”), the perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres such as as Ambient Black Metal, Trip-Hop and moody Jazz into a coherent stream of melancholy. Put differently, the music found in Ingrats is highly recommended if you like bands such as Manes, Katatonia or Burzum, and especially if you are not afraid of trying something truly new that will defy your senses and concepts in music.

Formed in 2003 by French multi-instrumentalist Steven Le Moan in Quimper, a citiy located in Brittany, in northwestern France, netra relased its first album Mélancolie Urbaine in 2010. Two years later, netra presented the highly claustrophobic Sørbyen, recorded after relocating to the city of Gjøcik, Norway over the course of a year. In addition to that, netra also collaborated with Californian rap duo We’rewolves in 2013 to create a true hybrid between Hip-Hop and Black Metal, the EP entitled Dreading Consciousness. Now in 2017, after moving to Auckland, a major urban city in the North Island of New Zealand, Steven and his netra found the right amount of inspiration to mesmerize us once again with the Depressive Black Metal and all other styles featured in Ingrats.

Gimme a Break, a Jazz-like intro with smooth piano and drums, introduces us to the universe of Ingrats before netra’s Black Metal strikes the listener like a lightning bolt in Everything’s Fine, a dark and aggressive composition where netra manically grasps the song’s lyrics, full of anguish and hatred. Furthermore, the song’s hints of Jazz and Experimental Metal, together with some clean vocals by the end of the song, make the whole experience of listening to this multilayered tune even more exciting. In Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours, an atmospheric instrumental composition alternating between electronic music and sheer obscurity, simply close your eyes and savor its musicality, getting ready for the melancholic Live with It, continuing with netra’s wicked fusion of sounds and proving music doesn’t need to be heavy and fast all the time to be good. Its clean vocals are spot-on, not to mention the gentle balance between acoustic guitars and electronic elements, turning it into one of the top moments of the album in my opinion.

Infinite Boredom, an instrumental bridge displaying gentle piano notes under the rain, paves a gray and sorrowful path for Don’t Keep Me Waiting, a movie-inspired creation by netra where all instruments keep growing in intensity, transpiring melancholy and pain. It’s interesting to notice how the saxophone somehow “replaces” the vocal parts, with a dense background voice, as well as the song’s Atmospheric Black Metal beats, enhancing the overall darkness present in the music. And A Genuinely Benevolent Man, the most modern and electronic of all songs, blends Trip-Hop with Atmospheric Black Metal elements, with the music gradually increasing in intensity while netra delivers only a few sick growls throughout the whole song.

The hopelessness depicted by netra continues in the ambient Paris or Me, where subtle hints of Jazz and Black Metal coming from the piano and guitar lines add to this instrumental piece a delicate feeling of solitude; whereas in Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve I highly recommend you keep your eyes closed and follow netra in his walk through the dark and hazy urban streets where he lives. Bringing forward Industrial and Alternative Metal nuances, there’s no sign of happiness in the music, which can be felt through his clean but acid vocals, reminding me of some of the best creations by Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. And how about a sweet Jazz song as the closing act of this unusual album? In Jusqu’au-boutiste you’ll not only get that, but netra also offers trenchant riffs and blast beats in the best Atmospheric Black Metal style imaginable, like a sharp razor cutting our ears while the piano parts give peace to our souls, ending the album in a tempestuous fashion.

Only time will tell what’s next for the urban black metaller netra, but based on the amazing quality of the music found in Ingrats (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), I don’t think he’ll take too long to release more of his eccentric music. While we all wait for another blast of his multilayered creations, let’s keep in touch with him through his Facebook page, and purchase a copy of Ingrats through the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp (where you can find some interesting bundles like the “ultimate netra listener pack”) or official webstore in a 4 panel sleeve with 8 page booklet format or as a fantastic package containing the CD, a 11cm x 7cm all-weather vinyl netra sticker and a beyond awesome “Urban Black Metal” shirt, as well as on Amazon and on CD Baby. Now please excuse, as I’m going for a lonely walk through the dark and cold shadows of Toronto, and I guess you know which album I’ll be listening to.

Best moments of the album: Everything’s Fine, Live with It and Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve.

Worst moments of the album: A Genuinely Benevolent Man.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Gimme a Break 1:19
2. Everything’s Fine 5:24
3. Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours 3:36
4. Live with It 4:30
5. Infinite Boredom 0:44
6. Don’t Keep Me Waiting 4:32
7. A Genuinely Benevolent Man 5:10
8. Paris or Me 3:32
9. Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve 5:00
10. Jusqu’au-boutiste 5:55

Band members
netra – vocals, all instruments

Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio Promo Hour Of The Day – From Monday To Friday @ 8pm GMT

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http://midnight-madness.is-a-rockstar.com/Great news for all of you metalheads!

FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8pm GMT, one of our kick-ass partners, Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, broadcasting directly from London, England, will blast the best of underground metal music reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose during the PROMO HOUR OF THE DAY!

So remember, FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8PM GMT tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to get your daily shot of the cream of the underground metal music crop, from Hard Rock to Black Metal, from Folk Metal to Thrash Metal, from Doom Metal to Metalcore, and so on! You’ll have the unique pleasure of listening to the superb music by bands like Charm Designer, Neverworld, Majesty Of Revival, Nervosa, False Coda, Atonismen, Diabolizer, The Silent Rage, Terrifier, Gaerea, and tons of other amazing metal acts from all over the world!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
Twitter
Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Ways. / Watching From Afar EP (2016)

Mixing several influences and musical styles from Alternative Rock to Post-Hardcore, this up-and-coming French quintet might be exactly what you’re looking for in modern heavy music.

Rating5

ways_watching-from-afarMixing several influences and musical styles, French Alternative Rock/Metal act Ways. might be exactly what you’re looking for in alternative music, offering a wide variety of genres in their compositions that will please fans of heavier groups such as Deftones, Marilyn Manson and Killswitch Engage, to radio-friendly bands like Foo Fighters. And that harmonious but still fierce fusion of styles can be easily witnessed in their debut EP entitled Watching From Afar, a six-track album that nicely summarizes what Ways. are capable of, their main influences and their goals with their music.

Formed in 2013 in Paris, France, this talented quintet brings forward dynamic and melodic music displaying elements from Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal and Post-Hardcore, among others, always keeping their musicality fresh and vibrant throughout the almost 20 minutes in Watching From Afar. You’ll be positively surprised by the band due to all their sudden tempo changes and variations, going from harsh and desperate screams to gentle vocals and smooth guitar sounds. Featuring a sexy artwork by French photographer Sebastien Bessac, Watching From Afar can entertain you at a pub, at home, in your car or anywhere else good music is required.

In the opening track, titled My Blue Stain, a melodic beginning quickly turns into a blend of Metalcore and Alternative Metal, with lead singer Clément smoothly transitioning from harsh screams to clean vocals. Furthermore, it’s easy to notice influences from Deftones and In Flames, among other bands, in all instruments, which is also the case in As A Duty, showcasing a lighter side of the band with Bruno and Nico doing a great job on guitars, firing gentle lines and heavier riffs in sync with the vocals by Clément. Overflowing anguish and melancholy, this nice composition displays hints of Alternative Rock (in special during the song’s calm passages) that add an extra flavor to the overall result. And in Misty Hope, despite starting in a calm and relaxing way, vocal lines keep fierce and deranged, being recommended for fans of Foo Fighters and Deftones in pursuit of a higher level of aggressiveness in music. In addition to that, drummer Tony leads the song’s pace with his rhythmic beats, increasing its effectiveness and appeal for the delight of the listener.

waysThe title-track Watching From Afar is an instrumental track that’s more progressive and introspective than everything else in the album (and also the shortest of all songs), a nice display of dexterity by all band members leading up to the melancholic tune Something To Say…, where the groovy and smooth lines by session bassist Thomas Houche, together with the atmospheric riffs by Bruno and Nico, provide all the support for another passionate performance by Clément on vocals. Watching From Afar closes with Twenty First Sectuary, the heaviest and in my opinion the best composition of the album, getting closer to Melodic Death Metal without losing the harmony of Metalcore. Not only all guitar lines by Bruno and Nico sound amazing in this chant, but Tony also pounds his drums harder than in any other song of the album, translating into more electricity and consequently accrediting it to be one of the best options for the band’s live performances.

You can get more details on the music and career by Ways. by visiting their Facebook page, YouTube channel and Instagram, and if you want to purchase Watching From Afar, simply go to their BandCamp page for a preview of the album and to get a physical copy of it, or you can also get it on iTunes, supporting not only Ways. but the entire heavy music independent scene. As previously mentioned, Ways. can offer you a wide range of heavy, classic and soft rock in their compositions, making your day better with their pleasant musicality and showing you that Watching From Afar is just the beginning and a nice sample of what’s coming next for those talented French musicians.

Best moments of the album: My Blue Stain and Twenty First Sectuary.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. My Blue Stain 3:17
2. As A Duty 4:48
3. Misty Hope 3:17
4. Watching From Afar 2:13
5. Something To Say… 3:11
6. Twenty First Sectuary 3:39

Band members
Clément – vocals
Bruno – guitar
Nico – guitar
Elo – bass
Tony – drums

Guest musician
Thomas Houche – bass (session)

Album Review – Hammerhands / Largo Forte (2016)

The soundtrack to your darkest days is here, courtesy of a talented Canadian band and their sluggish, heavy and rowdy music.

Rating4

hh-largo-forte-coverFew subgenres of heavy music can be so disturbingly awesome as Sludge and Doom Metal thanks to those low-tuned sounds, wicked screams and sluggish beats that penetrate our hearts and souls every single time we listen to them, making our lives a little more miserable just the way we like it. Hailing from the city of Mississauga, Ontario (extremely close to our “headquarters”), here comes Canadian Sludge Metal quartet Hammerhands offering their moodiness, blasphemy and grudge in their brand new album, entitled Largo Forte, a solid display of atmospheric and doomed heavy music that will accompany your misery during those dark and rainy days.

Formed in the year of 2012, Hammerhands released their debut album, Glaciers, one year later in 2013, also releasing that same year a special covers EP named 1995 containing their versions for two of their biggest influences in music (“X.Y.U.” by The Smashing Pumpkins, and “To Bring You My Love” by PJ Harvey). It might have taken three years for the band to release new original material, but based on the music found in Largo Forte it was definitely worth the wait. Featuring a dark and pensive artwork by their own bassist Justin Hunt, Largo Forte brings forward the band’s trademark Atmospheric Sludge and Doom Metal blended with Alternative Metal and other subgenres of heavy music, generating a metallic ambience tailored for fans of sheer heaviness.

The rumbling bass by Justin kicks off the groovy Eighteen, a sluggish composition that becomes a dark feast of modern and crude Sludge Metal when the inebriate and desperate vocals by NJ Borreta join the musicality, with its anguish ending only increasing its impact even more; followed by THUNDERCHUNK, a dense Stoner Metal chant emanating pure anger from its lyrics (“You are a brave man, / some father’s son. / Hammer your hard head, / against the ground. / You’re going to flex your muscles, / and bare your teeth. / Break everything around you, / you know I’ll hold my god damn stance.”). Guitarist Collin Young does a superb job with his wicked noises while drummer Jon Galletly delivers those slow and extremely heavy beats we love in this type of music, with yet another ending transpiring hopelessness and anguish.

hammerhandsHigh Plains is just perfect for an eerie strip-tease done by a mischievous and devilish woman, an obscure Sludge and Doom Metal tune led by the thunderous bass by Justin and the slow and steady beats by Jon, not to mention the spot-on vocals by Collin throughout the entire song. And the title-track Largo Forte begins as obscure as its predecessor, with the bass lines kicking you in the face while Collin fires some Sabbath-inspired riffs in the background. Moreover, the music is kept low and dark almost in its entirety, suddenly exploding into pure hatred through the desperate screams by NJ. Mezzo Grave, displaying some wicked noises and screeches, works as a bridge to If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem, showcasing downright distortion and an endless dosage of aggressiveness. The thunderous sounds blasted by bass and drums will pierce your mind, whereas NJ continues delivering his anguished lines until the song’s chaotic and heavy ending.

With a start lot lighter than all previous tunes, Where We Go brings forward more melodious and melancholic sounds thanks to the guitar lines by Collin. Albeit being a good composition, it’s slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality and creativity, but fortunately that doesn’t last long as we’re treated to the almost pure Doom Metal tune Darkerness with its low-tuned sonority and slow, heavy pace. This song presents a tormented intro that goes on for over two minutes, warning the listener that darkness is upon us, which is only confirmed through its macabre lyrics (“We’ll gut them, / and bleed them dry. / They’ll scream for hope, / but die inside. / Now that they plunge, / there is no right. / This place, / no light.”). Furthermore, as already happened in previous songs, its ending is a noisy and deranged chaos. In The Hardest Thing we have one final blast of distress, with Collin declaiming the lyrics through his somber and funereal vocals while the rest of the band plays some sort of Tarantino-inspired noisy Blues, an interesting way to close such a substantial album.

There’s a nice way to enjoy the whole album on YouTube in the 49-minute official video crafted by the band, displaying deserted landscapes, predatory reptiles, burning lava, among other beautiful scenes from Mother Nature, and you can also visit their Facebook page and YouTube channel to know more about their music and future projects. Obviously, you can purchase Largo Forte at Hammerhands’ BandCamp page to show your true support to these talented Mississaugans whose job is to provide us fans of Sludge metal exactly the type of music needed on our gloomiest days.

Best moments of the album: THUNDERCHUNK, High Plains and If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem.

Worst moments of the album: Where We Go.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Eighteen 4:58
2. THUNDERCHUNK 7:11
3. High Plains 4:57
4. Largo Forte 6:44
5. Mezzo Grave 2:34
6. If You’re Not Part of the Party, You’re Part of the Problem 3:39
7. Where We Go 5:50
8. Darkerness 7:58
9. The Hardest Thing 5:25

Band members
NJ Borreta – vocals, guitar
Collin Young – guitar, vocals on “High Plains”, “Where We Go” and “The Hardest Thing”
Justin Hunt – bass, backing vocals
Jon Galletly – drums, backing vocals

Guest musician
Andrew Couto – saxophone on “Darkerness”

Album Review – Majesty Of Revival / Dualism (2016)

One of the most important bands from the contemporary Ukrainian Metal scene returns with a full-bodied album that will definitely put you to dance, love, drink a beer and bang your head, if not all at the same time.

Rating4

full var 5If there’s one very special band that proudly raises the flag of Ukrainian Metal as high as the sun, always delivering amazing music to our ears with a high level of professionalism, commitment and dexterity, it’s Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal Majesty Of Revival, and in case you know nothing about them, I highly recommend you go after all their discography as it’s definitely worth a shot. And if you need more than just these few words to convince you of how good this band is, simply take a listen at their brand new album, entitled Dualism, and you’ll certainly get hooked on their melodious and electrifying music.

Formed in the fall of 2009 by lead singer and guitarist Dimitriy Pavlovskiy in Uzghorod, a city located in western Ukraine, at the border with Slovakia and near the border with Hungary, Majesty Of Revival have already built a respectable career not only in their home country but also in important markets such as Japan, despite all the lineup changes since their inception. After releasing their debut EP Meaning of Life (2011), the full-length albums Through Reality (2012) and Iron Gods (2012) and another EP named Netherworld (2014), the band took a break from the outside world to focus on the studio work to give birth to Dualism, experimenting with different sounds and styles in order to provide their fans a unique experience in heavy music.

An avalanche of groove and heaviness will hit you from the very first thunderous notes by bassist Tom Penzel in the opening track, titled Deadlock, where it’s interesting to note how Dimitriy can easily go from deep harsh growls to very melodic vocal lines, not to mention how progressive guitars and drums sound, helping to keep this 6-minute composition exciting in its entirety. More metallic and aggressive in spite of the smooth keyboards by Vladimir Yakubovskiy, Awaken brings forward a good balance between guttural vocals and piercing riffs with serene and progressive passages, an amazing tune that will certainly pump up the fans when played live; followed by the sensational and classy Van Halen-inspired Hard Rock chant Alive, with highlights to the precise drumming by Vasiliy Irzhak and to its lyrics about our struggles in life (“All the changes occur when you least expect / And you never know who’s in charge / They come after you, if you fight, then you shoot / Or then you escape – take the last parachute”).

In Inner Dimension the band gets back to brutal and complex Power Metal, with the song’s background keyboards creating an amazing aura nicely complemented by the blazing riffs by Dimitriy, reminding me of old school Dream Theater (especially the guitar solos and all tempo changes). Then we have one of the heaviest of all tracks and consequently one of my favorites, the powerful Darkest, showcasing hints of Pantera in its riffs, an epic vibe led by the nonstop beats by Vasiliy, and lyrics as dark as the music demands (“Darkest fears disappearing with fading dreams / Full of griefs, thru the field of blackhearts / Forgotten truth has been replaced by lies / That destroyed belief for us all”); and Failure, where Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal are beautifully united once again. The bass guitar by Tom Penzel sounds like a hammer so heavy it is, adding tons of groove to the musicality and, therefore, turning it into a recommended choice for some good headbanging.

mor2016The intro for the power ballad Days seems slightly inspired by Metallica’s classic “One”, suddenly turning into contemporary and progressive Heavy Metal with the symphonic elements in the background increasing the song’s liveliness as well as its soulful guitar solos, whereas Wolfheart feels like listening to Sonata Arctica, including the song’s name and lyrics (“You have the wolfheart / You should free it once / Through the whole pain you have to believe / Release your hopes from the darkest fears / Don’t deny thy destiny / You are the knight of your own life / Cherish thy braveness, honor and love / With the obeisance you have to fight – sword in your hands, high above / You have the wolfheart”). It’s a good composition with beautiful guitar lines and solos, but too smooth at times compared to the overall potency of the album. Tongue gets back to a Symphonic Power Metal vibe with modern elements of Alternative Metal added to it, all without losing its core essence and boosted the the harsh vocals by Dimitriy. In addition, pay good attention to the interesting battle between Dimitriy and Vladimir with their guitar and keyboard solos. And presenting a sonority similar to classic bands like Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, the very traditional tune Perfection offers nonstop drums and epic vocal lines that will surely accelerate the beat of your heart.

When the band slows down the crazy rhythm of ther music, we’re treated to a medieval power ballad named When the Night Embrace, with the passionate vocal performance by Dimitriy being flawlessly supported by the song’s inspiring atmosphere, becoming a perfect choice for singing along with the band during their live performances. The Hard Rock riffs by Dimitriy and the epic keyboards by Vladimir complement each other in the kick-ass metal tune Serenity, tailored for banging our heads nonstop while Vasiliy keeps hitting his drums as heavy as possible, not to mention the spot-on hints of Industrial Metal added to the vocal lines. As we get close to the end of Dualism, Majesty Of Revival fire the title-track Dualism, more progressive than most tracks of the album due to all its tempo changes and intricate beats and riffs. However, heaviness is still present in the musicality thanks to the deep growls by Dimitriy, feeling almost like a Metal Opera so imposing it is. And the Dream Theater-inspired ballad Same Blood closes the album on a high note, in special due to the superb keyboards by Vladimir and the song’s melancholic and gentle rhythm.

The progressive and symphonic universe crafted by Majesty Of Revival can be better appreciated through their Facebook, VKontakte and YouTube, and the excellency of Dualism can be purchased through their BandCamp page (where you will find some interesting options including bonus tracks and combos with T-shirts), as well as on iTunes and on Amazon. Featuring a modern and fresh artwork by Tomi Fanta, which was probably inspired by the duality found in poker cards, Dualism will instantly put you to dance, love, drink a beer and bang your head, if not all at the same time. In other words, everything we search for in high-quality Heavy Metal music.

Best moments of the album: Awaken, Alive, Darkest, When the Night Embrace and Serenity.

Worst moments of the album: Wolfheart.

Released in 2016 Massive Sound Recordings

Track listing  
1. Deadlock 6:56
2. Awaken 6:14
3. Alive 4:13
4. Inner Dimension 6:14
5. Darkest 4:04
6. Failure 4:33
7. Days 6:00
8. Wolfheart 4:37
9. Tongue 5:26
10. Perfection 3:26
11. When the Night Embrace 4:56
12. Serenity 4:53
13. Dualism 5:06
14. Same Blood 4:50

Band members
Dimitriy Pavlovskiy – vocals, guitars
Tom Penzel – bass
Vladimir Yakubovskiy – keyboards
Vasiliy Irzhak – drums

Guest musicians
Marat Adiev – keyboards
Nelly Hanael – backing vocals
Ivan Kraynyay – bass
David Sánchez – harp, strings

Metal Chick of the Month – Heidi Shepherd & Carla Harvey

heidi_carla

Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages… Step right up and get your tickets to the greatest show on earth!

Love them or hate them, we all must admit that the two female metallers chosen to celebrate the third anniversary of The Headbanging Moose have a strong influence on contemporary Heavy Metal due to their unique (and aggressive) attitude, which obviously includes their sexy looks and fiery and chaotic music. They deal with their sexuality more naturally than we prepare a simple orange juice, and although some people might consider their work futile or even too obscene, let’s not forget that heavy music is above all things a form of art where artists can freely express their thoughts, ideals and beliefs through their compositions and, in many cases like for example in Black Metal, through their image. Besides, their music is a billion times better than anything Lady Gaga does, a woman who calls herself a true metal fan but in reality keeps playing second-class meaningless pop stuff. With that said, let’s raise our horns to frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, the dynamic duo responsible for the amusing blend of violence and rebelliousness bred by American Metalcore/Groove Metal band Butcher Babies.

Before we talk about each “butcher baby” in more details, let me provide you a short and sweet overview of this Alternative Metal band from Los Angeles, California in case you have never heard of them in your life. Formed in 2010, Butcher Babies probably have one of the most solid lineups in the history of heavy music despite being just a few years old. Apart from Heidi and Carla, the band is also made up by guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner, all still playing together since the band’s inception and, based on how healthy their relationship is, that’s the way things are going to be for many years to come. The name of the band came from the song Butcher Baby by American Punk Rock band Plasmatics, spearheaded by the iconic singer, songwriter and actress Wendy O. Williams. Both Heidi and Carla acknowledge how important Wendy O. Williams was (and still is) for the increasing acceptance of women in heavy music, which is one of the reasons why they wear such eccentric attire during their live performances including wearing nothing but black tape over their nipples (albeit they’ve ditched it in recent years).

Despite their short period of existence so far, the band has already released the single Blonde Girls All Look The Same in 2011, the EP Butcher Babies in 2012, their first full-length album Goliath in 2013, another EP entitled Uncovered in 2014 and finally their most recent full-length album, Take It Like a Man, in 2015. You can have lots of fun with their music and sexiness in songs such as They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!, Igniter, Magnolia Blvd, Mr. Slowdeath, Dead Man Walking, I Smell a Massacre, Gravemaker and The Butcher, or you can simply enjoy their entire 40-minute performance at the always superb Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belguim in 2015. There are also tons of cool interviews with Heidi and Carla on YouTube, such as backstage interviews at Knotfest in 2014 and at Rockstar Mayhem Tour in 2013; their explanation for abandoning the nipple tape and covering up; a nice interview for Metal Hammer at Soundwave 2015 where they talk about hugging koala bears, fighting kangaroos and their adventures in Australia; an interview to German channel BunchTV in 2011 still with the nipple tapes; and a very relaxed interview to FeMetalTV in 2015.

HEIDI SHEPHERD

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Enough said already, now it’s all about the girls. Let’s begin with the sometimes blonde, sometimes red-headed hurricane Heidi Shepherd, the woman accountable for the high-pitched screams and growls for Butcher Babies. Born on April 17, 1985 in Utah, United States, Heidi is more than “just” a metal singer, being also a radio DJ, actress and casting director best known for the 2008 thriller Animals and the TV series MANswers, as well as minor parts and uncredited appearances in different shows such as My Name Is Earl, Ghots Whisperer and CSI: NY.

Heidi, who by the way is the oldest of 6 kids, grew up in Provo, Utah, the third largest city in the state and located around 43 miles south of Salt Lake City, where she attended Provo High School, graduating in 2003. Still in high school, believe it or not Heidi was an accomplished track and field athlete, even traveling to Russia to participate in the Junior Olympics. She also graduated from Southern Utah University, where once again she showcased all her athleticism participating in competitions such as high jump and long jump. Also, as a girl raised in the Mormon religion, Heidi has a very interesting view of the concept of Heaven and Hell, stating those are things the human being made up to make ourselves feel comfortable about the afterlife, something to give people a purpose and life goals.

In regards to her passion for music and how it helped her become a better person, our unrestrained vocalist said music was basically the only thing she could relate to in her childhood, having as her personal heroes distinct names such as Slipknot, Wendy O. Williams, Gwen Stefani and Joan Jett, most of them being females that defy the male dominance in music as you can see. However, it’s Slipknot, a top to bottom male band, who had the strongest influence on her vocal style and stage performance, saying when she saw a picture of them for the first time (she was around 12 or 13 only) it really scared her but intrigued her at the same time. Once a girl who developed an intense fear of the dark, Heidi learned to embrace fear and use it in her creative process through the years, something we can definitely connect to what Slipknot aim with their unique approach.

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If you think she’s a party girl who doesn’t sleep at all and drinks every alcoholic beverage in sight, you’re absolutely wrong. Well, of course she always has her share of fun, but Heidi mentioned already in different interviews that if she doesn’t get enough sleep every night her live performances suffer a truly negative impact. On top of that, Heidi said that despite loving whiskey she can’t drink it on the road anymore, as the effect of the alcohol hurts her vocal chords, so she saves it for when she gets back home. If you’re a singer I’m sure you can relate to that, because you can be tired and drunk and still play a guitar, for example, but the impact alcohol can have on your vocals can be devastating without any doubt.

Lastly, as a lover of horror flicks and a believer of supernatural and paranormal forces, which in my opinion is an excellent source of inspiration for the type of music played by Butcher Babies, Heidi mentioned that among her favorite recent movies we can find titles like the new Evil Dead, V/H/S and V/H/S/2, You’re Next and The Purge, all pretty decent films with interesting storylines, don’t you think? And who knows, maybe it’s time for a slasher movie with a main female character named “Heidi the Butcher”, who not only chops and dismembers her victims, but does that screaming like a maniac while listening to some vicious heavy music. Or maybe it should be a sanguinary duo of Heidi and Carla? Read the rest of this essay and take your own conclusions.

Heidi Shepherd’s Official Facebook page
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Twitter
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Instagram

“There’s no reason why girls can’t get up there and rock just as hard as, if not harder than, the boys. And I’m so happy to say that I’m seeing a movement.” – Heidi Shepherd

CARLA HARVEY

carla01Of course Butcher Babies wouldn’t be complete without the charisma of the daredevil vocalist, author and actress Carla Harvey. Born on October 4, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan, United States, Carla is what we can call a very successful “experiment” as she is of Ethiopian, Finnish, Irish and Italian background, and her contribution to Butcher Babies comes in the form of hellish growls deeper than the screams by Heidi, endless energy on stage and some of the weirdest faces you can think of. Put differently, when Carla is performing with the band, she becomes a true female demon like Lilith, for example.

Carla attended Glenn Levey Middle School in Southfield, Michigan, before going to Mercy High School (an all-girl private Catholic school) and Harrison High School, both in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her first job in Hollywood was as an Entertainment Reporter for the Playboy Channel, also taking part in several movies such as Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove (2005), Happy in the Valley (2009) and Dry Run (2010), and other TV shows like Root of All Evil, Sex Chronicles and, just like her partner Heidi, MANswers. In addition, she took a break from the entertainment world to earn a degree in Mortuary Science from Cypress College in California, and worked as an embalmer and funeral director before forming Butcher Babies.

Our raven-haired (with some blue nuances) brawler said she’s been into music since she was a little kid, playing instruments like guitar and bass but always knowing she was born to be a singer. Her first appearance in a band happened when she was around 17 years old, but it wasn’t until Butcher Babies were born that she reached true stardom. Among her main influences, we can find kick-ass names like Slayer and Slipknot, with Slash and Jimi Hendrix being her personal heroes especially due to their roots. As a biracial girl growing in Detroit, seeing musicians that were also of African-American descent playing the music she loved was essential for her to keep pursuing her dreams and overcoming the odds imposed by society on her. Another huge influence on her vocal style and onstage performance in the one and only Phil Anselmo, the iconic frontman from Pantera and Down, who she has admired since she was a kid, highlighting how humble and easy-going he is as a person after finally being able to meet him on the road.

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Heavily influenced by horror movies such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects (these two directed by another one of her idols, Rob Zombie), Carla is also passionate about writing, drawing and reading comic books since she was a kid, something that helped her cope with loneliness as an introverted child, and from that fusion of horror flicks, comics and Heavy Metal she became a “comic book mastermind” according to Hustler Magazine. Her first comic book, entitled Butcher Babies (illustrated by Anthony Winn from Deepcut Productions), was released at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, followed by her first full-length novel Death and Other Dances in 2014, and more recently the comic series Soul Sucka, the story about an African-American vampire, in 2015. Carla is always drawing “naked girls” and other stuff, and if you’re interested in taking a look at her work you can visit her Big Cartel page.

And finally, just like what was written about Heidi in terms of drinking and partying while on tour, Carla also said drinking lots of water and hot tea is what truly helps keep her vocal chords moist, together with the obvious and necessary amount of sleep per night. However, she mentioned she also enjoys drinking Jägermeister as it coats her throat rather than drying it out. Although I’m a beer guy, I’m an admirer of Jäger too and I understand perfectly what she’s trying to say about the effect of this exquisite German digestif on your throat. If your job requires you to cut off alcohol, all you have to do is improvise and find other alternatives. And it looks like being creative and always trying new stuff doesn’t scare our roaring metal babe at all.

Carla Harvey’s Official Facebook page
Carla Harvey’s Official Twitter
Carla Harvey’s Official Instagram

“I wish, some day people stop using the female fronted this, female fronted that, because it always takes the focus away from the band itself, because you know, we are all just Heavy Metal bands, we are all doing the same thing.” – Carla Harvey

Butcher Babies’ Official Facebook page
Butcher Babies’ Official Twitter
Butcher Babies’ Official Instagram

Album Review – Age of Atlas / Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. (2016)

Just hit play and enjoy a feast of heavy, catchy and groovy compositions, brought forth by four promising British musicians who are constantly challenging themselves and pushing the boundaries of progressive music.

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album-cover-frontIf you have never visited Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, a city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, you’re missing all the vitality and distinctiveness of the city’s culture and heritage. For instance, you can go check their Humber Mouth literature festival, the annual Hull Jazz Festival, as well as several other exhibitions, theaters and concerts. Such cultural richness could only translate into amazing heavy music, which is exactly the case with Alternative Rock/Metal band Age of Atlas, who are releasing their first full-length album entitled Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., following on from their debut EP The Scale of Things to Come, from 2014.

With Peter Measures on vocals, Mikey Scott on drums and the two nearly identical twins Keelan and Kye Beavers on guitar and bass, respectively (which is probably the main reason why they are in perfect synchronicity at all times), this very technical Hull-based group formed in the year of 2012 is highly recommended for fans of the progressive heavy music played by Coheed and Cambria and Tides of Man, among many other distinct bands. Self-recorded at Mikey’s own studio Fruit Trade Music and featuring a beautiful artwork by James Fenwick Illustration, Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. epitomizes everything Age of Atlas are today in a feast of gripping riffs, stunning breaks and poetic vocal lines, obviously pointing to an absolutely bright future that lies ahead for this talented quartet.

The progressive and sharp opening track Sleight Of Hand Of Glory already offers the listener a taste of what Age of Atlas are capable of, with its alternative and psychedelic intro being boosted by the metallic bass lines by Kye before lead singer Peter Measures starts firing his modern poetry (“The thunder in your tongue finger lisps the blood from the thumb / Your hunter handed stitching yearns and breaks and comes undone”), not to mention the elements of Blues and Jazz added to the musicality which end up expanding its range even more. And that’s only the beginning, as the punchy riffs by Keelan and the roaring drums by Mikey steal the show in Natural Sciences, a hybrid of Dream Theater and Gojira with a Hard Rock twist. Despite being considerably heavy for many average radio listeners, I’m more than sure this electrifying tune could still be played at any rock n’ roll radio station in the world and become an instant hit. While that doesn’t happen, you can keep enjoying the intricacy provided by Kye on bass and the spot-on guitar solos by Keelan in For The Feast That Follows, some sort of “controlled craziness” that works really well from start ot finish, bringing pure awesomeness to our ears.

Presenting a modernized ambience, Father Of The Fear Of Falling is a soulful and technical composition where the complexity provide by Mikey on drums flawlessly supports the alternating moments of melodious softness and headbanging riffs found throughout the entire music; while Echoes Of Empire, presenting even more tempo changes and a passionate performance by Peter on vocals, is another sonic experiment for fans of Progressive Metal, with its backing vocals adding an extra touch of liveliness to the song. In The Brackening, highly influenced by Groove Metal but still having Progressive Rock as its core element, pay good attention to the “battle” between brothers Keelan and Kye with their unstoppable stringed weapons while Peter continues to blast his fiery vocal lines. An in Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance the band presents a more mainstream approach through smooth and progressive Hard Rock lines. This can be considered the most generic (or least innovative) of all tracks, albeit being well-crafted and offering a solid performance by Peter supported by the song’s background keyboards.

pic1Background electronic effects, rumbling bass lines and a headbanging rhythm make listening to the excellent Ambering a very positive experience, displaying even hints of pop music in certain moments. Furthermore, the last piece of the song is one of those progressive journeys loved by fans of the genre, which should sound incredible if played live. Then we have Needer, sounding heavier and sharper at first, but getting back to the band’s harmonious experimentations. Needless to say how bass and drums get inside your head and shake your brain in a good way, another remarkable characteristic of the music by Age of Atlas. And the icing on the cake comes in the form of an almost 7-minute aria of progressiveness named Gyromancer: it doesn’t matter if you prefer heavier and crazier sounds or a more serene complexity, the band brings forward all variations of Progressive Metal and Rock in this powerful tune, and the final result will certainly electrify the rest of your day.

As any other creative progressive band, Age of Atlas do not settle down at all and are already working on writing and refining new material for a follow up second album. While we wait for the next chapter in their promising career, let’s visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud to know more about the band and to enjoy more of their music. And as an early Christmas gift (and to show how nice the citizens of Hull are), Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. is available as a free download for fans who sign up to the band’s mailing list (which you can do by clicking HERE). “We’ll always try and push ourselves in new ways and writing new material, working on new songs, is the most enjoyable way of challenging ourselves.” says vocalist Peter, and we must all agree that as long as they keep challenging themselves and releasing albums like Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., the future of progressive and groovy music looks more than good not only for Kingston upon Hull, but for the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Sleight Of Hand Of Glory, Natural Sciences and The Brackening.

Worst moments of the album: Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing 
1. Sleight Of Hand Of Glory 4:26
2. Natural Sciences 3:06
3. For The Feast That Follows 3:49
4. Father Of The Fear Of Falling 3:43
5. Echoes Of Empire 4:08
6. The Brackening 5:28
7. Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance 4:37
8. Ambering 3:25
9. Needer 3:57
10. Gyromancer 6:52

Band members
Peter Measures – vocals
Keelan Beavers – guitar
Kye Beavers – bass
Mikey Scott – drums

Concert Review – Disturbed & Breaking Benjamin (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, 08/08/2016)

The city of Toronto got awesomely “infected” by David Draiman and his horde on a warm and beautiful night of alternative music.

OPENING ACTS: Saint Asonia and Alter Bridge

Disturbed_Breaking Benjamin_2016Due to my hectic working schedule yesterday and the distance from my place to the fantastic Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, I wasn’t able to see the performances by the two special guests of the night, Canadian Nu Metal/Hard Rock band SAINT ASONIA and American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band ALTER BRIDGE. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited to watch Saint Asonia, despite the fact they’re portrayed as a “supergroup” based in Toronto formed by lead singer and guitarist  Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace), lead guitarist Mike Mushok (ex-Staind), bassist Corey Lowery (ex-Stuck Mojo) and drummer Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven). I’m not sure how many people were actually able to watch their concert, nor if they were a good warm-up for the following bands. All I can say is that the music they play is not my cup of tea and I don’t really regret missing their performance.

What I do feel slightly sad about was missing the excellent singer Myles Kennedy and the talented guitarist Mark Tremonti (together with bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips) playing their straightforward and honest rock music with Alter Bridge. We all know Myles and Mark are awesome musicians, and even considering the music by this Orlando-based group a bit too soft for me I’m sure that might have been a kick-ass concert. Well, that’s the price to pay when there are too many bands in such a short period of time, fans end up missing a good chunk of what they paid for unless they arrive REALLY early to the venue, which was not the case for most fans last night.

BREAKING BENJAMIN

IMG_1585The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre got packed only a few minutes before American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band BREAKING BENJAMIN began their show, with frontman and guitarist Benjamin Burnley leading his competent band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania formed by Jasen Rauch on lead guitars, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar, Aaron Bruch on bass and Shaun Foist on drums. The band got back in action a couple of years ago after Benjamin was finally able to overcome his phobias and addictions, with all members being completely new to the band (except for Benjamin, of course), and based on the warm reaction from everyone at the venue I believe fans truly missed Benjamin’s melodious mix of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock during the band’s hiatus.

As a fan of the darkest side of music who’s always listening to the most visceral forms of Thrash, Death and Black Metal, I must admit their music didn’t excite me despite being extremely well-crafted and played to perfection by all band members. Except for the brief moments when they played an excerpt of the superb Walk, by one of my favorite bands of all time, Pantera, as well as another excerpt from the classic Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, I couldn’t really connect to the band’s music. One thing I enjoyed a lot though was the vocal range by Aaron, going from clean and melodic lines to furious growls whenever he was responsible for the vocal parts, and for me that was the best ingredient of their concert. Please don’t think I hate Breaking Benjamin with all my strength or that it was a horrible concert, let’s simply say it’s hard to pay some decent attention to a band you’re not a fan of their music or style when you’re anxious for the following act.

Setlist
So Cold
Angels Fall
Sooner or Later
Blow Me Away
The Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk
Polyamorous
Ashes of Eden
Believe
Breath
Failure
Until the End
I Will Not Bow
The Diary of Jane

Band members
Benjamin Burnley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jasen Rauch – lead guitar, electronic strings, programming
Keith Wallen – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Aaron Bruch – bass, backing vocals
Shaun Foist – drums, electronic percussion, programming

DISTURBED

IMG_1592Only one day after playing at Heavy Montréal, Mr. David Draiman and his Alternative Metal horde DISTURBED hit the stage at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to do what they do best, which is playing electrifying razor-edged modern metal music. Still promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (which by the way was awarded gold in Canada as well as platinum to the single The Sound of Silence, as informed by Draiman during the show), this iconic band from Chicago, Illinois not only revolutionized music with their inception back in the 90’s, but they also keep bringing different generations to their live concerts like what happened yesterday, something only traditional bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica do nowadays.

Blending classics such as the opening song Ten Thousand Fists and the classy Stricken with new songs like the kick-ass The Vengeful One, Draiman and his crew conquered all from the very first notes of their powerful performance. Draiman might not be moving around like before, but it looks like that’s a task he’s leaving for guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and especially bassist John Moyer to do, with those three guys being unstoppable on stage while Draiman focused on his unparalleled vocals (including his classic “monkey screams”) and leading gestures. They even invited the guys from Saint Asonia and Breaking Benjamin to sing the classic Who Taught You How to Hate with them, although it felt a bit weird seeing two bass players on stage at the same time.

IMG_1602One of the most anticipated moments of the show was their beautiful version for Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, and I have to say that lived up to all expectations and beyond. The drumming by Mike was incredible, as if he was pounding our hearts, and the piano notes embellished the entire ambience, but of course the main ingredient in such a unique ballad were Draiman’s vocals. He sang each and every note to perfection together with the fans, a memorable moment in a warm Torontonian night that will stay fresh in our minds and hearts for many years to come. Another great example of how Draiman flawlessly captivated and commanded the audience throughout the whole gig occurred during their new song called The Light, where he asked everyone to raise their lighters and mobiles during the chorus of the song and every single person obviously attended his demand, creating a sensational view of brilliant dots all over the venue.

My only complaint is that their setlist was way too short, with only fourteen songs being played in total. They could have played a few more tunes like the title-track “Immortalized” or even their version for “Land of Confusion”, which has been part of their recent setlists. Anyway, the icing on the cake came in the form of their biggest hit Down With the Sickness, with all fans jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics together with Draiman, especially the ones in the floor section like myself. The heat of the fire coming from the stage might have been strong, but the heat coming from their music was even stronger, leaving all fans happier than usual on a Monday night on their way back home. When introducing Down With the Sickness, Draiman said Toronto was “infected” by their music. I can’t think of a better definition to their concert than that.

Setlist
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
The Vengeful One
Prayer
Liberate
Who Taught You How to Hate
Stupify
The Sound of Silence
Inside the Fire
The Light
Stricken
Indestructible
Voices
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums