Album Review – Slipknot / We Are Not Your Kind (2019)

Heavier and more experimental than usual, those masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.

From the obscure depths of the human psyche, American Alternative Metal horde Slipknot returns after five long years with a brand new album, entitled We Are Not Your Kind, the sixth studio album in the career of those masked marauders and a beyond solid statement by the band saying that, despite all the losses and problems they’ve had in the past decade or so, they can still deliver top-of-the-line metal music for the masses. Produced by Greg Fidelman, who has already worked with several renowned bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Slayer and with Slipknot themselves in the albums .5 The Gray Chapter in 2014 and Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) in 2004, We Are Not Your Kind has been described as a heavier and more experimental album than their previous releases featuring moody instrumentals and electronic elements, and the final result is simply stunning.

Not only that, We Are Not Your Kind is the band’s first album since the firing of longtime member Chris Fehn, while the rest of the crew remains the same, with Sid Wilson and Craig “133” Jones on turntables, samples, media and keyboards, Jim Root and Mick Thomson on the guitars, Shawn “Clown” Crahan on custom percussion and backing vocals, Corey Taylor on lead vocals, Alessandro Venturella on bass and Jay Weinberg on drums, not to mention their newest member “Tortilla Man” also on custom percussion and backing vocals, who joined the band for their live performances earlier this year. Jim Root himself said that the album is “the most time we’ve had to write a record, and work stuff out together” and that “while the industry is moving toward singles, Slipknot wanted to make an album experience, front to back.” On a side note, while the title of the album is taken from a line in the band’s standalone single “All Out Life”, released in 2018, that specific song is not featured on the standard edition, but only on the Japanese edition for a reason beyond my knowledge. Well, who cares, right? As long as the music found in the standard edition of the album kicks ass we can live without “All Out Life” despite that being a damn good song.

Insert Coin is one of those fantastic, ethereal intros that transport the listener into the wicked world of Slipknot, before their new anthem Unsainted, featuring the Angel City Chorale, invades our senses, with the thunderous percussion blasted by Jay and Shawn reeking classic Slipknot, all boosted by the sick shredding by Jim and Mick and lyrics that deal with Corey’s fight against depression (“Oh, I’ll never kill myself to save my soul / I was gone but how was I to know? / I didn’t come this far to sink so low / I’m finally holding on to letting go”). Needless to say, I can’t wait to watch them playing this song live next week in Toronto, like what they did on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this year. Birth of the Cruel, a mid-tempo tune perfect for headbanging while Corey alternates between his demented clean vocals and harsh roars, is a lot less violent but still creepy and thunderous, with Jim, Mick and Alessandro delivering tons of groove through their strings; followed by the somber bridge Death Because of Death, featuring guest vocalist Kat Primetau, warming us up for Nero Forte, bringing forward a classic fusion of Heavy and Alternative Metal and a great job done by Jay on drums, dictating the song’s pounding rhythm while Corey sounds as crazy as he can be, always supported by smooth but piercing backing vocals.

Critical Darling is an almost-radio-friendly tune by Corey, Shawn & Co., showcasing slashing riffs by the band’s badass guitar duo while Corey gnarls manically, once again supported by spot-on backing vocals which end up making the chorus extremely catchy; whereas in A Liar’s Funeral a cryptic intro morphs into some sort of “new version” of their own dark ballad “Snuff”, suddenly exploding into a neck-breaking sonority with hints of Doom and Sludge Metal, alternating between sheer melancholy and raging madness from start to finish. Then in the magnificent Red Flag we face the most classic version of Slipknot in the album, overflowing insanity, heaviness, fury and that awesome blend of the wicked noises by Sid and Craig with the venomous percussion by Shawn. Hence, this should sound outstanding if played live, not to mention how sharp both guitars and Alessandro’s bass punches sound. Then after the uncanny bridge What’s Next we’re treated to one of Slipknot’s most experimental songs of all time, Spiders, which sounds absolutely addictive, demented and fun, with all its background noises and percussion generating a unique ambience for our avid ears and mind. Put differently, simply relax, sit down and sing the song’s weird lyrics along with Corey, while Jim and Mick deliver short but crushing riffs as the music progresses.

Somber beats and riffs ignite the pulverizing Orphan, presenting the band’s trademark sonority that made them famous worldwide, and with Alessandro and Jay being on fire with their rumbling instruments while Corey’s vocals get utterly deranged, sounding perfect for smashing your skull into the circle pit. The last part of album is comprised of longer-than-usual songs that surpass the 6-minute barrier, starting with the very experimental My Pain, presenting an eerie atmosphere created by Sid and Craig and low, pensive vocalizations; however, the music never gets as heavy or fast as we’re used to, making me wonder if fans of classic Slipknot will enjoy it. Anyway, that eccentric vibe goes on in Not Long for This World, where Corey and the band’s electronic duo Sid and Craig set the tone before the rest of the band comes ripping with their acid instruments, bringing to our ears a beautiful melody and rumbling bass lines, with its creepy ending building an instant connection with Solway Firth, a circle pit-catalyst showcasing scorching riffs by Jim and Mick and endless electricity flowing from Jay’s beats, while Corey declaims the song’s austere words in great fashion (“I’m not ahead of my time- I just drew the first breath – If I’m alive tomorrow / I will alleviate the pressure… by cutting you out of me / I found my bottom line – dead on the front lines- I know I’ll never go home / So set fire to your ships and past regrets and be free”). And lastly, as aforementioned, All Out Life might be only present in the Japanese edition of the album, but it’s such a great song, perfect for slamming and screaming its lyrics together with the band (like you can see on their performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live), it makes the investment in this version of the album totally worth it.

In a nutshell, one of the most innovative and influential bands of modern metal music from the past 20 years, the one and only Slipknot, managed to deliver a fantastic album against all odds, proving once again that there’s nothing better than adversity to makes us (and, in this particular case, the entire band) stronger and more focused. Having said that, I highly recommend you grab your copy of the album, as well as other well-crafted merch, from the Slipknot Official Store, and buy your ticket for the Knotfest Roadshow when the band invades your city with their chaotic and rebellious anthems. We Are Not Your Kind might sound a bit too experimental or modern for some people, but I’m pretty sure most fans of contemporary heavy music will have a very good time listening to this multi-layered and very dense album. And whenever you catch yourself screaming “we are not your kind!” together with Corey and the guys, you’ll be at the same time showing everyone Heavy Metal is and will always be YOUR kind of music.

Best moments of the album: Unsainted, Red Flag, Spiders, Orphan and All Out Life.

Worst moments of the album: My Pain.

Released in 2019 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Insert Coin 1:38
2. Unsainted 4:20
3. Birth of the Cruel 4:35
4. Death Because of Death 1:20
5. Nero Forte 5:15
6. Critical Darling 6:25
7. A Liar’s Funeral 5:27
8. Red Flag 4:11
9. What’s Next 0:53
10. Spiders 4:03
11. Orphan 6:01
12. My Pain 6:48
13. Not Long for This World 6:35
14. Solway Firth 5:56

Japanese Edition bonus track
15. All Out Life 5:40

Band members
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables, keyboards
(#4) Jim Root – lead and rhythm guitars
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – samples, media, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – custom percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – lead and rhythm guitars
(#8) Corey Taylor – lead vocals
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Jay Weinberg – drums

Guest musicians
Angel City Chorale – choral performance on “Unsainted”
Kat Primetau – additional vocals on “Death Because of Death”

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Concert Review – Heavy Montréal 2019 Day 2 (Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC, 07/28/2019)

The fans at Heavy Montreal will always be thankful to the almighty Slayer for their final and utterly devastating concert in Quebec.

INTRODUCTION: Alive and Kicking 10 Years On

The 10th anniversary of Canada’s biggest and most important metal festival, our beloved Heavy Montreal, couldn’t have been celebrated in greater fashion than what metalheads from all over Canada and from several other countries were able to enjoy at the always beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau. Although this was just my second time at Heavy Montreal, not counting the two editions of Heavy T.O. in 2011 and 2012, I must say the overall organization this year was a lot better than in 2014 (check our reviews for both days of the 2014 edition HERE and HERE), with a better layout, better access and exit, better facilities, food trucks, washrooms and so on, which was reflected in the happiness and good vibes flowing from all fans that were literally burning under a merciless sun in a (finally) scorching hot Canadian summer. As I was only able to attend day 2 of the festival, I’m not going to talk about any of the Saturday attractions, so if you’re curious to know how that day was go check the festival’s official Facebook page. And if you’re a hungry metalhead visiting Montreal for Heavy Montreal next year or any other metal concert, I highly recommend Il Focolaio for a delicious pizza or calzone to recharge your batteries before slamming into the circle pits.

SKILLET

Let’s begin with the first band I saw on Sunday, American Christian Hard Rock act SKILLET, who began their fun but not-so-heavy performance at 4:05pm when the sun and the temperature were hotter than the fires of hell. John Cooper, Korey Cooper, Seth Morrison and Jen Ledger put on a pretty good concert during the 45 minutes they had, with songs like Legendary, Sick of It and Hero receiving a very warm feedback from the crowd. I honestly had no idea they were a Christian band, but who cares? They might not be as heavy as most attractions of the festival (or maybe they’re too heavy for less extreme festivals), but they play with a lot of passion and energy, and I guess everyone who was watching their performance noticed that and showed a lot of respect for the band. Not only John is a great frontman, but the two girls Korey (who’s John’s wife) and Jen kicked ass on the guitar, piano, drums and vocals, bringing an amazing feminine touch to the entire festival. In a nutshell, if a heavier-than-usual (but not too extreme) version of modern-day Rock N’ Roll is your cup of tea, I’m sure you’re going to have a very good time watching Skillet live.

GAMMA RAY

As soon as Skillet’s performance was over, it was time for German Power Metal masters GAMMA RAY to fill the airwaves of the festival with some true old school Heavy Metal, especially because the band comprised of the iconic vocalist and guitarist Kai Hansen, bassist Dirk Schlächter, guitarist Henjo Richter, drummer Michael Ehré and second (or first) vocalist Frank Beck was the only attraction of the entire festival who played that type of music. I’m a longtime fan of Mr. Hansen’s music and I was very happy I could witness them playing at Heavy Montreal instead of another Alternative Metal band, but I don’t think most of the attendees had the same reaction when the band hit the stage. I mean, there were still countless fans banging their heads and raising their fists to classics like Master of Confusion, Heavy Metal Universe and Send Me a Sign, but there was something missing to make the show memorable. And to be fair, I still don’t understand why the band needs Frank Beck; he’s a good vocalist, but he doesn’t bring any real value to Gamma Ray’s performance. His microphone was lower than Kai’s, he didn’t sing most of the songs, and the songs he did sing were just OK. I think putting that crazy dude that was all wet dancing samba (and several other rhythms) nonstop on the gray mud to dance on stage would have been a lot more fun than Frank’s performance, don’t you agree?

IN THIS MOMENT

There was no time to breathe as, the second Gamma Ray were over, we were all able to witness a fantastic and very theatrical performance by the stunning Maria Brink and her henchmen (and henchwomen), collectively known as American Alternative Metal/Metalcore band IN THIS MOMENT. The aforementioned Maria, who I dare to say looks and feels like an evil (and of course improved) version of Lady Gaga, together with Chris Howorth on lead guitar, Randy Weitzel on rhythm guitar, Travis Johnson on bass and Kent Diimmel on drums, plus the two sexy masked dancers who worked as some sort of “mirrors” to Maria, delivered a truly hypnotizing concert, with their music being a blend of the blasphemy and anti-religiousness of Marilyn Manson and Cradle of Filth with the insanity of Slipknot and Ghost. The final result was obviously fantastic, with my two favorite songs of their setlist being by far the demented Big Bad Wolf and the closing song Whore, where Maria’s dancers entered dressed up as characters from the excellent dystopian novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, holding sings with the words “SHAME” and “WHORE”. In the end, In This Moment kicked some serious ass without a shadow of a doubt, leaving all fans at Heavy Montreal extremely satisfied and eager for more of the music by metal’s favorite “whore” in a not-so-distant future.

HEAVY MANIA

When the next attraction from the Apocalypse Stage started, American stoner metallers Clutch, I went for a walk as I needed a break and some water. Terror and Demolition Hammer were on fire on the Forest and Garden stages, respectively, but I decided to watch the last wrestling show of the festival in the area called HEAVY MANIA, featuring wrestlers of the International Wrestling Syndicate like The Green Phantom, Sexxxy Eddy and Tabarnak De Team. The name of the fatal-four battle I was able to watch was “Le Cauchemar D’Oppenheimer”, and it was so fun I even missed the beginning of Slash’s concert. Well, it was definitely worth it, with Sexxxy Eddy winning the match amidst some trash talk and a few destroyed tables, just the way we like it in underground wrestling.

SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS

Back to the Heavy Stage, it was time for the one and only SLASH, accompanied by Myles Kennedy on vocals, Frank Sidoris on the guitar, Todd Kerns on bass and Brent Fitz on drums to bring old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock to our avid ears. It was still very hot in Montreal, but because the show started at 7:15pm the sun was already lower and we were able to enjoy the concert without sweating like pigs. Myles Kennedy, who looks like a rocker version of Kevin Bacon, is such a great singer to the point I even forgot it was Slash on the guitar at times, showcasing all his refined skills in excellent songs like Anastasia, World on Fire and, of course, their cover version for one of Guns N’ Roses biggest hits, Nightrain. Slash was precise as usual with his unmatched riffs and solos, not to mention how happy he looked on stage, making me wonder if he’s only playing with Guns N’ Roses nowadays to have enough money to fund his solo career. Well, I’m actually happy he’s in both bands, so I can’t complain about that at all. Anyway, at this point of the festival we had already had several subgenres of heavy music, as you can see, except for our good old Thrash Metal. Guess what happened next?

ANTHRAX

From 8:15pm on, Heavy Montreal became Thrash Montreal, with Anthrax and the almighty Slayer leading us all the way into the eye of the circle pit. First, it was American Thrash Metal institution ANTHRAX who revved up our engines with their punk/hardcore-infused thrash, blasting classic moshing hymns like Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time and Antisocial for our vulgar delectation, as well as their already classic tribute to the deceased Dio, Lemmy and Dimebag with the beautiful In The End. Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante were unstoppable during their short but extremely vibrant performance, inspiring all fans to raise their fists and horns in the air and mosh like there’s no tomorrow. Moreover, I don’t know why but the festival organization decided it was a good idea to throw more cold water on the crowd when it was already nighttime, making some people run away from the stage due to that. Maybe they were trying to calm down the more excited fans who were crushing their skulls into the circle pit, who knows. What I know for sure is that I love Thrash Metal, just like Scott Ian asked us all, and I was more than happy to be able to witness one of the bands of the Big Four once again in my life.

SLAYER

Lastly, the moment everyone at Heavy Montreal was waiting for. The heaviest, most evil and most demonic band in the history of music, Thrash Metal titans SLAYER, took the province of Quebec by storm for one final time before calling it quits by the end of this year, which is something I still cannot believe but that makes total sense taking into account their age, everything that has happened to the band in the past decade, and the humongous amount of energy needed to play their music at the required (and insane) level. Although the opening acts might not have been as demolishing as their 2018 concerts in Canada, when Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God opened for them like their pulverizing concert at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph were beyond possessed during their incendiary performance at Heavy Montreal, proving once and for all why you can play Black Metal, Death Metal or any other type of extreme music, but you’ll never be as badass as Slayer.

If their 2015 album Repentless was indeed their last studio album ever, let’s say they’re retiring in style, as the intro Delusions of Saviour plus the frantic thrashing hymn Repentless were everything they needed to set fire to Heavy Montreal. After that insane start it was pure Armageddon, with old school classics such as Evil Has No Boundaries and Mandatory Suicide being intertwined with newer songs like World Painted Blood and Payback (as Mr. Araya said, “payback is a bitch, motherfucker!”), and even songs they haven’t played in a while such as Gemini, Temptation and Born of Fire. By the way, Slayer played nothing more, nothing less than FIVE songs from Seasons in the Abyss, including of course the battle hymn War Ensemble (where Mr. Araya kindly asked us all to scream “WAAAAAAAAAR!” together with him), the serial killer-inspired classic Dead Skin Mask, and obviously the album’s flawless obscure title-track, or in other words, half of their 1990 masterpiece for our total delight. Furthermore, it was absolutely amazing witnessing all fans at the festival screaming “SLAAAAAYYYYEEEERRRR!”, “FUCKIN’ SLAYER!” and even “OLE OLE OLE OLE! SLAYER, SLAYER!” at the top of their lungs before, during and after the concert, showing a beautiful connection with the band as they masterfully played an avalanche of Thrash Metal classics amidst the flames burning on stage, ending with the all-time classic Angel of Death, including Mr. Araya’s famous demented roar at the beginning.

Gary Holt was once again fantastic on the guitar (needless to say, I can’t wait for the next Exodus album), Paul Bostaph couldn’t stop smashing his drums and our skulls, and Kerry King was the usual beast incarnate shredding his guitar chords manically from start to finish while all fans slammed their souls into the never-ending mosh pits. However, it was Tom Araya who stole the show with a perfect vocal performance, and after everything was said and done he didn’t leave the stage until he could thank each and every fan at the festival for our passionate support through the years. We could clearly see he was very emotional, very touched by our love for Slayer, and we were able to read his lips when he said “I’m gonna miss you, guys…” while tears fell from his eyes. Well, we’re going to miss his screams too, if that’s actually going to be the end of Slayer. Kerry King didn’t cry but he simply raised both fists in the air and roared like a wild beast, as the “demonic machine of Thrash Metal” he is. Maybe that’s his way of saying “thank you!” and crying tears of joy? At least that’s what all fans kept doing while returning from the festival on the subway, screaming SLAYER! SLAYER! SLAYER! nonstop. And that’s what we’ll keep doing forever and ever, even if Quebec, the rest of Canada and any other part of the world never see the band playing live again after this farewell tour is over. Thank you, SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYEEEERRRRR! Heavy Montreal loves you!

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Evil Has No Boundaries
World Painted Blood
Postmortem
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Gemini
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
Payback
Temptation
Born of Fire
Seasons in the Abyss
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Black Magic
Dead Skin Mask
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Album Review – Sharks In Your Mouth / Sacrilegious (2019)

A travel to the year of 1799 in Italy, where an elite group of rich and evil people founded a secret society called “The First Order”, in the form of incendiary Post-Hardcore and Djent.

From Post-Hardcore to Djent, including elements from Melodic Metalcore, Alternative Metal and Deathcore, to name a few, the Ancona, Italy-based band comprised of Andrea Pali on vocals, Valerio Quirini on lead guitar, Daniele Monaldi on the guitar, Diego Nardelli on bass and Enrico Rivetti on drums, collectively known as Sharks In Your Mouth, has never stopped improving their sound and style since their inception in 2010, always in pursuit of the “ultimate sound”. Now in 2019 the band returns with another round of heavy and melodic sounds with their sophomore album Sacrilegious, a follow-up to their 2016 debut opus Promises. Not only that, the album also narrates what the band calls “The Covenant” saga, bringing additional layers to their already dense and aggressive music.

Engineered by Federico Ascari and Sharks In Your Mouth, reamped, mixed and mastered by Federico Ascari at Wavemotion Recordings, and featuring a stylish artwork by Mattia Castiglia, Sacrilegious takes us to the year of 1799 in Italy,  where an elite group of rich and evil people founded a secret society called “The First Order”, possessing an ancient magical book that must be burned to avoid letting them dictate the social and moral laws of the future. A young boy gets caught up in one of their rituals and “The Order” kills him, but not before painting some “black tears” on his face as their tradition. From that you can already have a very good idea of how obscure their lyrics are, which together with the thunderous sounds blasted by their guitars, bass and drums generate a dark and enfolding atmosphere that will please all fans of the genre.

The cinematic intro Black Tears opens the gates of the underworld to the violent The Covenant, where Andrea begins roaring rabidly just the way we like it in Metalcore and Deathcore while Enrico makes sure our heads don’t stop trembling with his beats, resulting in a beyond amazing start to the album. Then Valerio and Daniele shred their axes mercilessly while Diego exhales rage from his metallic bass in the title-track Sacrilegious, presenting acid lyrics that match perfectly with the music (“What we did is sacrilegious / We’ve been fighting against the odds / What we did is sacrilegious / But we had to burn that book / They will give to this world their idols and the illusion of choice / Illusion of choice / Impostors, who will rise and who will fall?  / The Order is born”); and featuring guest musician Daniele Gottardo, who adds his personal touch of evil to the song with a sick guitar solo, we have another bestial Deathcore tune named Dethroned. Furthermore, it’s impressive how somber those guys can sound while at the same time being extremely melodic, with Diego and Enrico never stopping extracting low-tuned, thunderous roars from their instruments while Andrea alternates between clean vocals and demented screams.

In Sinner, an acoustic intro morphs into a crushing Symphonic Metalcore hymn led by Andrea while Diego smashes his bass chords manically, with all symphonic background elements adding a good amount of finesse to the sonority and also sounding very progressive at times, whereas R.I.P., one of the darkest songs of the album, showcases a focused and demonic duo on the guitars, supported by Enrico’s intricate drums and a berserk Andrea on vocals, and also presenting some creepy, obscure passages to give the whole song an extra infernal kick. Keep banging your head and slamming into the pit to the pulverizing As Above So Below, where you will feel Diego’s bass rumbling at the back of your head, providing the listener a fresh and vibrant fusion of more melodic lines and sheer aggression, and venturing through more modernized and radio-friendly lands, the band offers us the fast-paced This Is Gonna Hurt, incorporating elements from Alternative Metal and Rock to their more vicious style.

If Limp Bizkit suddenly turned into a heavier band, Fear Me, Feed Me is how they would sound, with its instrumental pieces being pretty solid as well as Andrea’s growls, bringing tons of rage and progressiveness for our avid ears, although his rap-like vocals don’t work as expected. Keeping their aggressiveness and dementia at a high level, the quintet fires the Melodic Metalcore tune Marked, bringing forward sick, distorted riffs by Valerio and Daniele, not to mention Enrico’s bestial drumming, while Curtain is a short and sweet piano bridge to the epic and visceral Fall (The Covenant Part II), an imposing tune where all rage flowing from drums is complemented by flammable riffs and bass punches while Andrea darkly declaims the song’s poetic lyrics (“I still hear their cry for help / While I paint my black tears on my face / Shadows in the night, trying to resist / Hunted from the ancient creed / All is lost, erased from reality / Paint your black tears / Paint your black tears”).

If you nurture a deep passion for Hardcore, Metalcore and Djent, and if you are constantly searching for new names in the market that can offer you something more than just well-crafted heavy music, you must give Sharks In Your Mouth a chance without a shadow of a doubt. Not only those guys master their instruments, but as already mentioned the theme found in Sacrilegious (available in full on Spotify) is way more flavorful and interesting than your average bands out there. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to those Italian metallers by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and of course by purchasing Sacrilegious from their official webstore or from several other locations like Apple Music and Amazon by clicking HERE, consequently joining the band’s army known as “Covenants” and banging your head like a beast to some high-end Djent made in Italy.

Best moments of the album: The Covenant, Sacrilegious and R.I.P.

Worst moments of the album: Fear Me, Feed Me.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Black Tears 1:04
2. The Covenant 4:39
3. Sacrilegious 4:12
4. Dethroned (feat. Daniele Gottardo) 4:03
5. Sinner 3:29
6. R.I.P. 3:23
7. As Above So Below 4:08
8. This Is Gonna Hurt 3:43
9. Fear Me, Feed Me 3:43
10. Marked 4:36
11. Curtain 0:23
12. Fall (The Covenant Part II) 4:40

Band members
Andrea Pali – vocals
Valerio Quirini – lead guitar
Daniele Monaldi – guitar
Diego Nardelli – bass
Enrico Rivetti – drums

Guest musician
Daniele Gottardo – guitar solo on “Dethroned”

Album Review – Grenouer / Ambition 999 (2019)

Over 55 minutes of classy and modern rock music showcasing a different side of this talented Russian band, but still keeping their amazing core Alternative Rock and Metal intact.

Offering over 55 minutes of modern and melodic Alternative Metal with several distinct rock elements, Ambition 999, the ninth album in the career of Saint Petersburg, Russia-based act Grenouer, turned out to be a long-term project due to all the re-recording needed until the band reached its desired sound. That resulted into one of the biggest gaps between albums in their career, with nothing more, nothing less than four years separating Ambition 999 from their previous album, Unwanted Today, released in 2015. However, all that wait was definitely worth it as their new album is indeed a fresh addition to their discography, with each one of its 15 songs offering a different approach when compared to the band’s two previous efforts in terms of riff intensity and rapid-fire solos, balancing between new and clichés, double density and marked vocal temperament.

Engineered and recorded by Al Bolo at RDS& Moscow Gates Apartment Studios, Anssi Kippo at Astia-Studio, and Luigi Del Missier at BlackMirror Studios, produced, mixed and mastered by Giuseppe “Dualized” Bassi from dysFUNCTION Productions, and featuring a futuristic artwork by Brazilian artist Jobert Mello (Sledgehammer Graphix) and Italian artist Zimon (New Breed Graphic Studio), Ambition 999 feels like a heavier version of bands such as Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, presenting a more than inspired and electrified band comprised of Andrey Ind on lead vocals, Dmitry Rubanovsky and Alexander Motor on the guitars, Al Bolo on bass and Danny D on drums, and bringing to our avid ears everything we need to have a good time on the road, at a pub, at home, or anywhere else where good rock music is properly appreciated.

Electric waves permeate the air before the band begins blasting their modernized blend of Alternative Rock and Metal in Burnt to the Ground, with highlights to the slashing guitar riffs and solos by Dmitry and Alexander; followed by Nevermind Tomorrow, a song perfect for banging our heads to their riffs and beats while Andrey gives life to its party-like lyrics (“Fast and tight / High heel party night / Tomorrow never knows and never dies / Drinks on me / Any chicks for free? / We’re born to make some noise, so sing with me / Or you’d better shout”), and One Day, another thrilling tune in the same vein as bands like Godsmack, Shinedown and Three Days Grace, sounding very melodic and showcasing a passionate performance by Andrey on vocals while Danny D dictates the rhythm with his spot-on beats. Then in Infinite Grace the band adds a good amount of heaviness to their music, getting closer to the musicality by bands like Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson but still keeping their core Alternative Rock intact, also presenting some sick guitar solos for our total delectation, whereas in Medicine Treats No Lies the quintet continues their feast of modern-day rock and metal music, with Al together with Danny D bringing thunder to the music with their respective instruments.

If Cure for the Lonely is even more futuristic and atmospheric, displaying a strong focus on Andrey’s vocals and feeling at times like a hybrid of modern rock music with the electronic and alternative sounds by old school bands like Depeche Mode, Uncommon Faith is a good song for hitting the highway, presenting great sync between the band’s stringed trio and Danny D’s beats, all infused with Hard Rock elements. On the other hand, Back on Track is slightly below the rest of the album in terms of electricity, albeit it does bring forward a considerable amount of progressiveness as well as Andrey’s smooth but potent vocals; while Universe of My Heaven sounds very modern and progressive, also bringing some symphonic elements in the background to give it an extra taste. Moreover, Al’s bass sounds as groovy as it can be, while Danny D pounds his drums just the way we like it in good modern Rock N’ Roll. After that, it’s time for Grenouer to take their musicality to even more eccentric lands with the weird, atmospheric and fun Crimson Lines, with highlights to its classy, poetic lyrics (“Read between the crimson lines / Sacred destination / Go behind the scenes of life / Steady irritation / Read between the crimson lines / Go behind the sonic nightmares / Black and white visions in the sky”).

It’s interesting how Grenouer manage to keep their essence while exploring new sounds, which is the case in the almost electronic-dancing tune Chase the Sun, and although the final result is quite entertaining the guitars by both Dmitry and Alexander needed an extra kick for the whole song to work even better. Then melancholic, acoustic guitars ignite the introspective Ingenious Care, showcasing smooth vocal lines, complex and serene drums, and featuring guests Chayka Chursina on vocals and Zimon on bass, sounding dark from start to finish and, therefore, sending the desired message by the band. Dangerous Girls takes the band back to a heavier, more pounding sonority, with their guitar duo being on fire as well as Al and his rumbling bass, or in other words, this is a well-balanced hybrid of Progressive and Alternative Metal for admirers of the genre. The second to last blast of Grenouer’s rockin’ sounds comes in the form of Paranormal Star, sounding as whimsical and piercing as its name, placing it as another serious candidate to be part of their live setlists, whereas the last tune from Ambition 999 is a superb acoustic ballad entitled Alone in the Dark, which not only presents beautiful guitars and vocals, but its official video is amazingly obscure and captivating. Put differently, it might not be the usual electrified Grenouer we’re used to, but this somber, pensive side of the band is just as enfolding as their more regular sonority.

What are you waiting for to put your hands on 15 extremely well-crafted and energizing rock songs made in Russia? Simply go to the band’s official BandCamp page to grab your copy of the album, as well as to the Sleaszy Rider Records’ BandCamp or webstore, to iTunes or to Amazon, and keep an eye on their Facebook page, VKontakte and YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their crisp rock music. As an already established and successful band in the world of heavy music, we can rest assured Grenouer are far from calling it quits, hoping that all of their future releases are just as good as the music found in Ambition 999 and that they proudly keep carrying the flag of Rock N’ Roll wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Nevermind Tomorrow, Medicine Treats No Lies, Crimson Lines and Alone in the Dark.

Worst moments of the album: Back on Track and Chase the Sun.

Released in 2019 Sleaszy Rider Records

Track listing
1. Burnt to the Ground 3:30
2. Nevermind Tomorrow 3:32
3. One Day 4:15
4. Infinite Grace 4:07
5. Medicine Treats No Lies 3:25
6. Cure for the Lonely 2:37
7. Uncommon Faith 5:13
8. Back on Track 3:41
9. Universe of My Heaven 3:49
10. Crimson Lines 4:16
11. Chase the Sun 3:17
12. Ingenious Care 3:24
13. Dangerous Girls 4:08
14. Paranormal Star 3:10
15. Alone in the Dark 3:20

Band members
Andrey Ind – lead vocals
Dmitry Rubanovsky – guitars
Alexander Motor – guitars
Al Bolo – bass
Danny D – drums

Guest musicians
Chayka Chursina – female vocals on “Ingenious Care”
Zimon – bass on “Ingenious Care”

Concert Review – Godsmack & Volbeat (Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON, 05/10/2019)

And the city of Ottawa was more than ready to rumble with two of the best bands of the modern Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll scene.

OPENING ACT: Stitched Up Heart

Although my drive from Toronto to Ottawa on Thursday was a complete shit due to the nasty rain and all the trucks spraying tons of water on my windshield, that didn’t turn my energy level down not even a bit for the concert that was about to happen on Friday. I was really pumped to see what’s probably the best modern Rock N’ Roll bands available out there, the almighty Volbeat and the incendiary Godsmack, kicking some serious ass on stage at Richcraft Live (I honestly have no idea what that name means) at the Canadian Tire Centre. It was my first time at that venue and I must say it’s indeed a great place to watch a concert or a sports event, but unfortunately getting there is not that easy unless you drive, take a taxi or Uber to the venue, which ends up inflating the parking costs considerably.

Anyway, fans were still arriving at the venue when Los Angeles-based Hard Rock act STITCHED UP HEART began their short but effective performance, spearheaded by the beautiful Mixi on vocals. If you have no idea about what type of music Stitched Up Heart play, let’s say it’s a fusion of the contemporary Hard Rock played by Godsmack with Evanescence and Marilyn Manson, and the final result is very entertaining. It was a beyond solid warm-up for the main attractions of the night, and a very good welcome card from the band to us fans of rock music here in Canada, as I don’t actually remember seeing them anywhere around here before this tour opening for Volbeat and Godsmack. In other words, go to their official website for more information about the band, where they’re playing, where to buy their music, and so on, as those guys (and girl, of course) are definitely worth a shot.

Setlist
This Skin
Warrior
Catch Me When I Fall
Darkness
Straightjacket
Finally Free
Lost (feat. Sully Erna)

Band members
Mixi – vocals
Merritt – guitar
Randy – bass
Decker – drums 

VOLBEAT

After a short break, and with the Canadian Tire Centre already occupied by thousands of fans from different parts of Canada and the United States, it was time for Danish rockers VOLBEAT to bring to Ottawa their undisputed Rock N’ Roll infused with Heavy Metal nuances, proving once again that Copenhagen-based quartet is not one of the biggest names in the current Rock N’ Roll scene in vain. Still promoting their 2016 album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, but just about to release a brand new album (for our total delight), the band comprised of Michael Poulsen on vocals and rhythm guitar, Rob Caggiano on lead guitar, Kaspar Boye Larsen on bass, and Jon Larsen on drums set the venue on fire with their fast and melodic riffs and beats, and of course, endless electricity (despite the fact that Mr. Poulsen was visibly fighting some sort of cold or flu).

From the first few notes from the excellent The Devil’s Bleeding Crown to the closing moments from the already classic Still Counting, Volbeat delivered what’s expected from them, inspiring all fans from the floor section to ignite some fun (and furious) circle pits, especially during their most metallic songs such as A Warrior’s Call, 16 Dollars, Doc Holliday and Seal the Deal. Also, I think I’ve already mentioned this before, but it’s always impressive to witness how powerful and precise Mr. Caggiano is on the guitar, elevating the band’s sonority to new heights since entering the band in 2013. In addition, one song that I was extremely happy they played was Hallelujah Goat, one of my favorite Volbeat songs of all time due to its energy and heaviness, potentialized by Rob’s amazing technique and feeling. And before I forget, the band also played a brand new song for the first time ever in Ottawa, the 40-second Punk Rock tune Parasite, which albeit being extremely short it was well received by all fans who were paying attention at the moment, because you know, 40 seconds are not enough not even for a quick bathroom break. In a nutshell, I know that I just saw Volbeat live and that I’ll see them again with Slipknot, Gojira and Behemoth soon here in Toronto, but they’re so good live I cannot wait, and besides, their concerts are never long enough for them to play all of their classics.

Setlist
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Lola Montez
Sad Man’s Tongue (with Ring of Fire intro)
A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
Let It Burn
Black Rose
Parasite
16 Dollars
Dead but Rising
Fallen
Hallelujah Goat
Marie Laveau
Doc Holliday
Seal the Deal
Still Counting

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar
Jon Larsen – drums

GODSMACK

It was close to 9:45pm when the lights went out, a fun mashup of classic rock songs started playing from the amps, and finally GODSMACK hit the stage with their unique mix of Alternative Rock and Heavy Metal. I confess I don’t think their 2018 album When Legends Rise is one of their best efforts to date; quite the contrary, it’s relatively weak compared for example to their previous album, the fantastic 1000hp, released in 2014, but Sully Erna and his henchmen are so amazing in what they do they managed to turn all of the songs they played from their new album, those being When Legends Rise, Say My Name, Unforgettable, Under Your Scars and Bulletproof, into truly amazing moments of their performance. By the way, as explained by Sully during the concert, inspired by their own song Under Your Scars, Godsmack have recently founded The Scars Foundation to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that so many are faced with today. Needless to say, donate and show your support to such important and noble cause.

Getting back to the concert, I have to say that even if they played bad music the whole thing would still have been at least great, as all the fire and other special effects on stage added a lot of energy to their performance. But, of course, Godsmack do not play bad music, and fantastic songs like 1000hp (my favorite of the night), Cryin’ Like a Bitch and Whatever put a huge smile on the faces of every single fan watching their concert. Furthermore, there were three very distinct moments that let’s say “surprised” most fans due to their uniqueness, those being their dark and enthralling performance of their all-time hit Voodoo, the interesting Batalla De Los Tambores (or “battle of the drums”, if you know nothing in Spanish) between Sully and the extremely talented drummer Shannon Larkin, and the Rock N’ Roll party established on stage when Rob Caggiano and the entire Stitched Up Heart joined them on stage for a cover version of AC/DC’s classic Highway to Hell.

In the end, after Godsmack played their heavier-than-hell hit I Stand Alone, all fans left the Canadian Tire Centre extremely satisfied, hoping the band doesn’t take another abysmal time to return to Canadian soil. On the other hand, if you live in Canada and missed Godsmack, I feel really sorry for your soul. A band like that is always busy, always touring the world, and they don’t have a lot of empty spot to fill out with Canadian dates. Well, don’t cry like a bitch if you missed it, simply stay tuned to their upcoming tours and do like the rockin’ citizens from Ottawa, whenever you hear the words “Volbeat” or “Godsmack”, put on your black shirt, you leather jacket and get ready to rumble like there’s no tomorrow with one of the best and most electrifying bands of the not-so-new generation of rock and metal music.

Setlist
When Legends Rise
1000hp
Say My Name
Keep Away (Moon Baby Outro)
Cryin’ Like a Bitch
Awake
Unforgettable
Something Different
Voodoo
Batalla De Los Tambores
Whatever

Encore:
Under Your Scars
Bulletproof
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover)
I Stand Alone

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

Album Review – Sepsiss / Badd Blood EP (2019)

Bang your head to the debut EP by this emerging American outfit that plays uncompromising metal combining a more traditional sound with modern rhythms and urban hardcore.

Founded by vocalist Melissa Wolfe and guitarist William Savant in 2011 in Manchester, a city in the southern part of the U.S. state of New Hampshire, the incendiary female-fronted Hard Rock and Alternative Metal band that goes by the name of Sepsiss has been wowing crowds across their home state since their inception, playing uncompromising metal that combines a more traditional sound with modern rhythms, light synths and a blend of urban hardcore. Now in 2019 this five-piece outfit comprised of the aforementioned Melissa on clean vocals and William on harsh vocals and on the guitar, accompanied by Cam Loud also on the guitar, Mr Goodbarz on keyboards and Robbert Pann on drums is unleashing a very dynamic and fun EP entitled Badd Blood, offering fans of modern metal music eight unique tracks which prove that female-fronted metal bands can offer some of the most powerful, intriguing and diverse sounds in the genre, just like what bands such as their rock heroes Heart and more recently Evanescence have always done.

A cinematic intro evolves into a feast of modern-day Hardcore and Alternative Metal entitled Fair To Say led by Melissa’s classic vocal lines, giving life to the song’s lovesick lyrics (“You are my favorite vice, / The way you’re squeezing me tonight. / The way you’re screaming songs slice the sky for me… / I fell in love with your void, / I filled it up on my own accord. / And you’re bored with being broken… / SO I’LL BREAK US UP!!!!”), as if Green Day met Evanescence. Then with William making a flammable vocal duet with Melissa we have To Write Hate On His Arms, showcasing straightforward and precise beats by Robbert while Mr Goodbarz adds a touch of delicacy and madness to the background with his keys, resulting in what’s in my humble opinion the best track of the EP.

William and Cam bring tons of heaviness to the band’s modern Hard Rock in Sky Is Falling, a song that’s considerably faster and more dynamic than its predecessors, with the music remaining vibrant and fresh for over five minutes in an interesting fusion of different styles like Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal and contemporary Hard Rock; followed by The Swarm, where the band switches their gears to a more alternative sonority with Mr Goodbarz and Robbert keeping the atmosphere as modern as possible in perfect sync with the guitar riffs. Black Light Invasion follows a similar pattern, with Melissa’s vocals getting sexier as the music progresses, sounding groovy and catchy from the very first second and, therefore, being highly recommended for hitting the dance floor while both William and Cam kick some serious ass with their riffs and solos. And in Falling Unloved the band accelerates their pace to a frantic fusion of the music by Evanscence with Hardcore, Punk Rock and even Ska, crushing their instruments mercilessly and offering their fans a good reason to crack their necks headbanging.

And their Rock N’ Roll party goes on in Force You To Lay Down, where the vocals by Melissa sound inebriating and captivating, while her bandmates make sure the energy level doesn’t go down not even a bit by pounding their instruments nonstop. Last but not least, Eyes Of Empathy closes the album with five minutes of first-class Hard Rock, showcasing lyrics that are as catchy as they can be (“Eyes of empathy can never reason why… / It could never mend the things I’ve seen tonight… / Forever quell the screams of your denial… / I won’t ever wake.”). Not only that, Melissa is on absolute fire on vocals, with the amount of electricity and rage brought forth by William, Cam and Robbert being beyond outstanding.

Do you have what it takes to enter the alternative and metallic lands ruled by Melissa, William & Co.? You can certainly show your total support to such up-and-coming band by following them through their official Facebook page, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by listening to their music on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing Badd Blood from the band’s own webstore as a regular physical version or as an autographed edition. And let’s hope Sepsiss keep on rocking and inspiring more and more women to follow a similar musical path not only in their home state, but anywhere else in the world where good music is appreciated, all in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: To Write Hate On His Arms and Eyes Of Empathy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Fair To Say 3:54
2. To Write Hate On His Arms 3:20
3. Sky Is Falling 5:17
4. The Swarm 2:27
5. Black Light Invasion 3:58
6. Falling Unloved 3:55
7. Force You To Lay Down 3:37
8. Eyes Of Empathy 5:03

Band members
Melissa Wolfe – vocals
William Savant – vocals, guitars
Cam Loud – guitars
Mr Goodbarz – keyboards
Robbert Pann – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Kayla Dixon

Death falls so heavy on my soul… Death falls so heavy, makes me moan…

Things are about to get doomed, heavy and extremely sexy here at The Headbanging Moose with our metal chick of the month of May. Trained in classical, jazz and musical theatre vocals, as well as acting and dance, the talented and stunning Kayla Dixon, frontwoman for Doom Metal institution Witch Mountain and for Alternative Metal outfit Dress the Dead, is among us to prove once again that black girls do have a place in the world of heavy music, and she has been doing that in great fashion with her beyond powerful vocals since joining Witch Mountain in 2015. Hence, after listening to Kayla singing for the very first time you’ll get absolutely addicted to her voice and performance, no doubt about that, therefore going after everything she has already recorded in her career, it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not.

Born on March 20, 1995 in Glendale, California and raised between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland (as you can see, she moved a lot when she was a kid), Kayla has been singing since the age of five, joining a Jazz band at the age of 13, when she began to hone her vocal skills and discovered her passion for performing. Having studied ballet, modern and contemporary techniques at the American Dance Institute, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Maryland Youth Ballet, among others, not to mention she’s a trained actor of Stanislavski and Meisner techniques (which contributed to her deep understanding of the importance of storytelling on stage), Kayla has already participated in several projects in her career, such as productions at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Levine Music, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, also making an appearance in in the Sundance award winning movie I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, on Netflix, as well as in the TV series Portlandia, Grimm and Outlaw. In addition, she said in one of her interviews she doesn’t sit at a keyboard or think about intervals or scales, unless she’s writing harmonies. She usually writes the melody first, thinking about “what words match this melody and how can I put this melody into words?”

Kayla got her first contact with heavy music during her teens due to her sisters, who used to listen to bands like Marilyn Manson, Tool and Nine Inch Nails, and she fell in love for that type of music. After straying away from that for a while, she said it was when she was in the ninth grade that she rediscovered all those bands, later turning her attention to other heavier and more complex bands such as Meshuggah. She mentioned in one of her interviews that it was the intensity of metal music that really caught her attention at first, as she feels she can express all her emotions and feelings through metal. In addition, she also said that the energy coming from the audience while you’re on stage is also what makes heavy music so special for her.

Regarding her career with both Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, everything started back in 2015 when Kayla, who had recently discovered the music by Witch Mountain, saw on their Facebook page they were auditioning for a new vocalist after the departure in 2014 of the amazing Uta Plotkin, prior to the release of the album Mobile of Angels. She then decided to take a shot at that by submitting a video audition, admitting she was a little nervous as she loved Uta’s lyrics and the vocal melodies, but fortunately for all of us fans of rock and metal Kayla became the band’s new frontwoman (and let’s not forget she was only 19 years old at the time). Four years later, this excellent Portland, Oregon-based band formed back in 1997 released their first full-length album with Kayla on vocals, self-titled Witch Mountain (which by the way she was responsible for all lyrics), not to mention their 2016 single Burn You Down, impressing not only the band’s diehard fans with her potent voice and her ability to easily switch between clean and harsh vocals,  but also her own band members. “When she laid down a scratch track in the studio and was going back and forth between the cleans and the dirties, our producer Billy and us were just sitting there laughing with joy,” recalls guitarist Rob Wrong. “For her that was just a scratch track, and we’re just like ‘most people in the world can’t do this.’ For Dixon, the possibility to cross styles and alternate between clean and screaming vocals is ‘a breath of fresh air.’”

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Then in 2018, one year after parting ways with former The Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving, Dress the Dead announced a new lineup with our goddess Kayla on vocals in an unexpected move by many. “A mutual friend reached out to me about Dress the Dead.  One of my first thoughts was, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready or even at an appropriate talent level to be replacing someone like Peter Dolving for these guys.’  I’d battled with the idea in my head for several months before finally reaching out.  I had listened to and loved 1969, but what really hit me hard was when I heard the other songs that are still unreleased that they sent me.  I had no idea how musically diverse this band would turn out to be,” said Kayla about joining her second major band, but as what happened with Witch Mountain her vocals matched Dress the Dead’s music flawlessly, as you can enjoy in the excellent songs 1969, There Goes The Sun and Promises & Kisses. In addition to that, just to give you an idea of how healthy her relationship with her new bandmates is, take a look at this fun YouTube video titled “Dress The Dead – Crappy Comments”, where Kayla and the rest of the band read and discuss about the most ridiculous comments they received from fans via social media.

Our hardcore vegan (yes, she’s a vegan) had also been involved with several other bands and projects before joining Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, each one offering Kayla a chance to showcase all her highly developed vocal skills. For instance, she was (apparently) the vocalist for a Cleveland, Ohio-based Groove/Death Metal band named Demons Within during an unknown period of time, and the lead singer for Sacramento, California-based Power Metal act Helion Prime from 2016 until 2017, with whom she recorded the sensational single Remnants of Stars, in 2017. Apart from that, she also started lending her unique voice now in 2019 to a British/Romanian Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band named Clouds during some of their live performances, and she also appeared as a guest vocalist in the song Buried In Sand, from Clouds’ 2018 release Dor – Bonus Album;  in the electrifying title-track Terminal, from the 2017 album Terminal, by British Melodic Progressive Metal band Divinity Compromised; and more recently in Living Light, from the 2019 album Divided by Darkness, by Phoenix, Arizona-based Doom Metal act Spirit Adrift, to be released later this month.

Touring is always one of the most difficult and demanding tasks in the life of a musician, and as a talented vocalist that Kayla is she obviously warms up her voice (and mind) properly before going on stage, sometimes meditating for a few minutes to reach her desired state of mind prior to performing. As a matter of fact, Kayla mentioned that meditation was one of the main activities she discovered through the years to fight her childhood traumas, to work on her spirituality and to remain strong when facing any type of adversity. She also said that, to keep her body and mind healthy while touring with Witch Mountain, who by the way have a very aggressive touring agenda, she tries to eat well and work out whenever she can, avoiding things like partying and drinking. Even with all those precautions to stay in shape, Kayla said that due to her incendiary performances each show ends up being fairly exhausting for her but energizing at the same time, saying it’s another form of “meditation” for her. “Music is a way for me to express that negativity and get it out. There’s also a positivity about it. So, it’s very energizing. Music is what makes me happy and I believe it is my life’s purpose,” commented Kayla, and if you take into account the fact that when she’s not on tour she can be giving vocal lessons or acting (albeit she hasn’t being doing a lot of that lately due to her busy schedule), it’s the utmost proof she was born to be an artist.

As curious as this might sound, Kayla always mentions in her interviews that she considers herself an introvert, although she’s not actually afraid of talking to people. Despite having introverted tendencies, she confronts that inner fear by working really hard on it, saying that fear doesn’t have to be who she really is or her story. And even more curious than that, she mentioned that one thing she loves doing for relaxation and fun is watching horror movies, with her favorite one being the 1982 cult movie Poltergeist and also mentioning Suspiria as another movie she enjoyed a lot (I just don’t know if she’s talking about the 1977 original one or the 2018 version). She said Poltergeist really freaked her out, that it was extremely scary in her opinion, so how can this be a relaxing activity, right? Anyway, still talking about ghosts and paranormal activities, she said she had a few paranormal experiences in her life, as her mother was really into that kind of thing and would tell her about ghosts she saw. She mentioned that when she was seven years old she was sitting in the living room around Christmas time watching the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and when she went to her room there was this white figure of an old man standing. In addition, her dad, who’s by the way a pastor, also claims he’s seen a ghost in his church, which used to be an old-fashioned one-room school house back in the 1900’s, describing the appearance of the ghost in great detail. If ghosts truly exist or not, no one knows for sure, but if Kayla channels those encounters and experiences into her music, and we all know the unknown has always been a magnificent inspiration for all genres and subgenres of heavy music, we can rest assured she’ll keep providing us first-class rock and metal for decades to come.

Kayla Dixon’s Official Facebook page
Kayla Dixon’s Official Instagram
Kayla Dixon’s Official Twitter
Kayla Dixon’s Official YouTube channel
Witch Mountain’s Official Facebook page
Witch Mountain’s Official Instagram
Witch Mountain’s Official Twitter
Witch Mountain’s Official BandCamp page
Dress the Dead’s Official Facebook page
Dress the Dead’s Official Instagram

“When I get on stage, I lose control and there’s not much I can do about that.” – Kayla Dixon

Album Review – Voidnaut / Nadir (2019)

A thrilling and very detailed album of Melodic Groove Metal made in Greece, overflowing heaviness, punch and electricity.

Hailing from the always vibrant city of Athens, Greece, Heavy/Groove Metal act Voidnaut was formed in 2015 by guitarist Kostas Krikos and vocalist Stavros Benardo as a small project, gradually evolving into a much bolder and violent beast with the additions of drummer Kostas Alexakis (Acid Death) and bassist Kostas Tasakos (Double Square) not long after. With influences ranging from Disturbed to Pantera and the overall sound of American Heavy Metal, Voidnaut are unleashing upon us their debut full-length album, entitled Nadir, mixed and produced at Devasounds Studios by Fotis Benardo (SixforNine, Septic Flesh), mastered by Steve Lado (Tardive Dyskinesia), and featuring a modern artwork by Giannis Nakos (Remedy Art Design). And overflowing heaviness, punch and electricity, of course.

The acoustic guitar by Kostas Krikos in the intro Nadir works as the “calm before the storm”, warning us all there’s a demolishing feast of Groove Metal coming entitled Back from the Grave, a straightforward and catchy tune where Kostas Alexakis provides those traditional pounding beats we love in heavy music, while its lyrics remind me of some of the most interesting creations by bands like Dream Theater and Trivium (“I shut off the engine of light and in darkness I reigned / To another dimension,My redemption… / All I need is a sign-an unknown sacrifice I’m the keeper of light. / In my hour of pain wicked forces I gained for I’m back from…”). Then get ready to bang your head to a fusion of Southern and Groove Metal named Hunted, where Stavros does a great job with his raspy, angry vocals while Kostas Tasakos extracts pure metallic lines from his bass; and Stavros kicks off the flammable This Pain of Mine with a demented scream, while the rest of the band fires modern-day Alternative and Groove Metal lines, sounding perfect for jumping up and down during their live performances.

Control is another smashing tune by Voidnaut led by Kostas Alexakis’ thunderous beats and spiced up by Kostas Krikos’ electryfing riffs and solos, with all four band members being on fire from start to finish in an awesome display of modern metal music. Then more modernity and contemporary sounds invade our ears in Porcelain Lady, displaying a great sync between Kostas Tasakos and Kostas Alexakis with their rumbling bass punches and beats, respectively, while Stravos keeps roaring like a pro on vocals; and putting the pedal to the metal the band offers us Damage Done, blasting sheer rage and groove from their sharp instruments, with highlights to Kostas Alexakis’ incendiary performance on drums, not to mention the amazing guest vocals by Fotis Benardo and guest guitar solo by Bob Katsionis (Firewind, Outloud).

Kostas Krikos keeps cutting our skin deep with his razor-edged riffs in Scarred for Life, highly inspired by the music crafted by icons like Killswitch Engage, Light The Torch and other exponents of the Metalcore and Alternative Metal scene, with Stravos simply kicking some serious ass with his screams, followed by Road to Nowhere, probably the most commercial track of the album (which doesn’t mean it’s bad at all, though, just less electrifying), presenting solid instrumental pieces spearheaded by Kostas Krikos and his in-your-face riffs. Lastly, closing the album Voidnaut deliver tons of aggression in Savage World, drinking from the same fountain as bands like Trivium, sounding groovy, heavy-as-hell and vibrant, with Kostas Alexakis once again stealing the spotlight with his rhythmic and furious drumming. They’re definitely on beast mode in this great song, which obviously puts a climatic ending to the album, therefore leaving us eager for more of their modern-day Melodic Death and Groove Metal.

It’s quite easy to feel all of Voidnaut’s groove and punch from Nadir, as all you have to do is listen to the album in full on Spotify, or purchase it from iTunes or Amazon. You can also keep updated with all things Voidnaut such as tour dates and new releases by following the band on Facebook, and enjoy more of their music (and videos) by subscribing to their YouTube channel, showing your true support to another excellent Hellenic band that will surely keep fighting for metal music for years to come with their talent, passion and energy. Needless to say, we should all thank them for that by banging our heads nonstop to their powerful music.

Best moments of the album: This Pain of Mine, Control and Damage Done.

Worst moments of the album: Road to Nowhere.

Released in 2019 7hard/7us Records

Track listing
1. Nadir 1:17
2. Back from the Grave 4:16
3. Hunted 3:20
4. This Pain of Mine 4:15
5. Control 3:38
6. Porcelain Lady 4:26
7. Damage Done (feat. Fotis Benardo & Bob Katsionis) 4:36
8. Scarred for Life 4:26
9. Road to Nowhere 4:15
10. Savage World 3:52

Band members
Stavros Benardo – vocals
Kostas Krikos – guitars
Kostas Tasakos – bass
Kostas Alexakis – drums

Guest musicians
Fotis Benardo – vocals on “Damage Done”
Bob Katsionis – guitar solo on “Damage Done”

Interview – Through The Noise

It’s time for vocalist Jowl Nyberg and guitarist Marcus Skantz to make some noise in this fun interview where they talk about their excellent band Through The Noise and their brand new album Dualism .

Through The Noise

The Headbanging Moose: Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers? How would you define Through The Noise?

Jowl Nyberg: I’m Jowl and I’m the vocalist and one of the founders of the band. We’ve always struggled to define Through The Noise, at least genre-wise, since we’ve never tried to fit in to a specific genre. We’re just a couple of guys who enjoy heavy music and try our best to present our listeners with just that: heavy music. We play metal with a touch of hardcore, that’s as close as we can come when we try to define it.

Marcus Skantz: Marcus and one of the guitarist in the band. To me, Through The Noise is a high energetic with both a lot of aggression and big melodies.

THM: Your brand new album Dualism is a fun and electrifying feast of heavy and hardcore sounds, but also full of melody and very polished. How was the recording process of the album, and did everything go according to your original plan?

JN: We knew from the start that we wanted to work with Erik Wiss at Wiss Music Productions again, why change a winning concept, right!? He knows our sound and we love to work with him, he always pushes us towards perfection and has nice inputs on our work. Although this time around Marcus had joined the band and he have some recording skills and equipment that the rest of us don’t, so we decided to record only the vocals and drums at Wiss Music Productions. The guitars and bass tracks are recorded in Marcus bedroom and then mixed at Wiss Music Productions along with everything else.

We only had like two-three tracks to work with before we booked the studio, so the process to write the rest of the songs was pretty intense, but that’s the way we like it: we thrive under pressure! Marcus and I spent many late nights at his place during this period. This was a bit different than our last album ´Fall Of Gaia´ where we wrote all the songs together in our rehearsal space.

MS: We booked the studio to record our second album just a month after I joined the band by the end of the summer 2017. By then, we just had one finished song and two song ideas to work with but we really needed a sharp deadline to kick our selves in the butt and write some new music. Five months later we had nine songs pre prodded and ready to be recorded. Peter went to Erik at Wiss Music Production and tracked all drums by the end of February and then me, Victor and Martin had about a month to record all the guitars and bass in my home studio before we returned to Erik to finish with all the vocals. The whole recording process went great even though it resulted in many late nights in my home studio due to my day work plus me, Jowl and Peter participating in a short film project where I helped with all post editing of sound and effects.

Jowl Nyberg (Through The Noise)

THM: Which songs from Dualism do you think better represent the band, and do you think your fans get that message while listening to your music or while watching you guys play live?

JN: We’ve always strived for intense, energetic songs with catchy and melodic choruses and I’d say that we deliver on that with all the songs on ´Dualism´ but if I had to pick one, I’d go with Psychomachia. If one truly wants to experience Through The Noise though: live is the way to go!

THM: One of my favorite songs of the album, Maktbegär (which I believe means “lust for power” from Swedish), is the only one sung in your mother tongue. Why did you guys decide to record that specific song in Swedish? Is there a special reason behind that?

JN: You are quite right in your translation, it does indeed mean “lust for power”.

I’ve always wanted to try and write something in Swedish and this is something that I’ve dabbled (and struggled) with at home for some time. ´Maktbegär´ actually started out as a translation and my own interpretation of a song called ´Mercy Me´ by one of my favourite punk-rock bands ´Alkaline Trio´ that I made for fun. The more I worked with it, it turned into something completely different that was too good not to use and the first time Marcus showed me this song I just knew that it would fit like a glove. I’ve also always felt like our regional dialect “skånska” fits well with hardcore-type vocals.

THM: How did you guys invite local Swedish punk vocalist Jahna Lund (from Death By Horse) to sing in three songs from Dualism? She has an amazing voice and matched perfectly your music. Can we expect more of that type of partnership in your future releases?

JN: Jahna and her band ´Death By Horse´ are close personal friends of mine: I love their music and Jahna’s characteristic voice! We’ve joined each other on stage plenty of times and I love collaborations and features on records, so it felt natural to invite her to add another level to our work. On our last record ´Fall Of Gaia´ I did a similar thing with a friend from work for the song ´The Accursed´ which turned out great so it might be a recurring theme on our albums!

MS: Jahna is a personal friend to us and we asked her to do some vocals on Psychomachia. While writing the song Secret Project we realized we needed a lot of choirs so we thought that she could be part of that song as well. The day she was in Erik’s studio she listened to some of the songs that was finished and when she heard the track Beyond Betrayal she got some ideas she wanted to test and that’s how she ended up in three songs of the record.

You just never know! If we write a piece where we think her voice would fit, we would not hesitate on asking her to do some more guest vocals.

Marcus Skantz (Through The Noise)

THM: Do you consider yourselves a metal band with punk and hardcore influences, or a punk and hardcore band with metal influences? How are the more diehard fans from both sides reacting to your music?

JN: This is interesting because we’ve always felt like we’re “in between”, so to speak. We’ve been considered “not hardcore enough” for hardcore festivals as well as “not heavy enough” for metal festivals. This is both a blessing and a burden in my opinion, it makes us somewhat unique but at the same time it alienates us from some gigs and crowds. Since I come from the punkrock/hardcore-scene originally and most of the other guys are more metalheads it’s only natural that our music sounds like something in between and that’s what makes us who we are.

MS: If you ask me we are a metal band with punk and hardcore influences, but that is me coming mainly from a thrash and melodic death background and I write songs in a certain way. If you ask Jowl I bet he thinks of it the other way around. I don’t think it really matters. We are a metal/hardcore band and we blend many different kind of styles into the mix with the outcome that we sound like Through The Noise.

THM: How’s the local metal and hardcore scene in your hometown Lund, in the city of Malmö and in Sweden in general? Can you recommend some bands from the underground scene that you think our readers should take a listen at?

JN: We have a lot of great local bands but not a lot of places for them (us) to play, unfortunately. Most bands around here head for Germany, eastern Europe, the Balkans and so on since there are more places to play and bigger audiences. It’s like the old saying “Big In Japan”, many bands are huge in other countries and almost unknown back home in Sweden.

Eastern High (Progressive-Metal), The Generations Army (Thrash-Metal), Wolves Within (Melodic-Hardcore), Mörbultad (Hardcore in Swedish), Chine (Death/Groove-Metal), Escaping Amenti (Theatrical/Apocalyptic Metalcore), Faithful Darkness (Melodic death-metal), Pandemonium (Symphonic Black Death-Metal) just to name a few!

MS: Both in general and locally, we have a thriving metal and hardcore scene in Sweden with a lot of great underground and up-and-coming bands. Kill The Kong, Imminence, Eleine and Eastern High just to name a few. We have a long tradition of great hard rock, metal and hardcore bands coming from Sweden which inspires us all.

Album Review – Through The Noise / Dualism (2019)

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music, and what inspires you to write heavy music?

JN: My biggest influences when it comes to lyricwriting are Matt Skiba of ´Alkaline Trio´ and Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail. I tend to write deep, often melancholic, emotional and (at least to me) meaningful lyrics with a lot of metaphors that tells a story and I believe that I have these two gentlemen to thank for a lot of that! When it comes to my vocal style I guess Alexander Hagman of ´Raised Fist´, Andrew Neufeld of ´Comeback Kid´ and Tim McIlrath of ´Rise Against´ are some influences but also guys like Jake Luhrs of ´August Burns Red´. Other than that: playing and making heavy music is a great stress and anger release!

MS: My biggest influences comes from bands like Metallica, Pantera, Killswitch Engage and Machine Head in terms of how to build up a song, get the right groove and surprise or satisfy the listener. I often tries to write songs, riffs and so on that I myself would like to hear. I think it’s an honest way to treat the song and keep it real for both the listener and me as a composer.

THM: What about the future of the band? What can we expect from Through The Noise in the short and long term? And how are your tour plans going so far for the promotion of Dualism?

JN: We’re planning and hoping to take the band to the next level with this album! At the moment we are trying our best to book as many shows as possible for the rest of the year, at least, and after that we look forward to the process of making our next album! We’re here to stay and this is what we put all our effort into!

MS: In short term we are currently trying to book as many shows as possible with a fall of 2019 tour in the early planning stage. Of course we’re also planning for a follow up EP or full-length but since, while writing this, we have not released Dualism yet our focus right now is mainly on promoting the record and get out to play.

THM: Thanks you very much for your time! Please feel free to send your final considerations to our readers, to remind them where to buy your music, and anything else you would like to say.

JN: Thank you for taking an interest in our band! We would be very grateful if you visit and follow us on our social media pages and web shop (see links below), add our songs to your playlists and (of course) catch us live! This means the world to us and would really help us out!

Upcoming shows
May 4 @ Helltown Mini Festival at Jutan, Helsingborg, Sweden
June 7 @ Backstage Varberg, Varberg, Sweden

Links
Through The Noise Facebook | Intagram | Twitter | YouTube | Big Cartel | Spotify | iTunes | Amazon | Google Play | Deezer