Metal Chick of the Month – Cristina Scabbia

Follow me, follow me… As I trip the darkness…

If you write her name with an “h”, she will kick your ass mercilessly. That’s probably the most fun way to introduce you to our beyond special Metal Chick of the Month, the electrified Italian rocker Cristina Scabbia, one of the most influential and reputable women in the entire world of heavy music and the perfect choice for celebrating four metallic and totally awesome years of The Headbanging Moose webzine this October. Owner of a distinct and very potent voice, Cristina Scabbia, whose full name is Cristina Adriana Chiara Scabbia, was born on June 6, 1972 in the cosmopolitan city of Milan, a metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region and a global capital of fashion and design. Best known as one of the two vocalists for Italian Alternative Rock/Metal band Lacuna Coil, Cristina is not only an accomplished singer and lyricist, but also a writer, a fashion model and, above all, a true headbanger who loves what she does and who has already devoted a good part of her life to Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Cristina was not even 20 years old when she began singing professionally as a touring musician for other bands and providing backing vocals, in 1991. Later that year, she met vocalist Andrea Ferro and bass player Marco Coti Zelati, who would be the future founding members of Lacuna Coil, in Milan’s Midnight Club, and there’s no way of talking about Cristina without talking about her unique connection with Lacuna Coil. Actually, when the band started it was called Sleep of Right, having recorded a song called Bleeding Souls for the Noise of Bolgia compilation in 1995. The band soon changed its name to Ethereal, playing an interesting mix of Gothic and Doom Metal, with Cristina being initially employed only as a session singer, being asked to record backup vocals for the choruses of their demo tape, but the band members liked the way the male and female vocals sounded together and they asked her to be a permanent member then. After several lineup changes and after releasing a two-track demo in 1996, Ethereal were signed by Century Media Records at the end of 1997 and had to change their name to Lacuna Coil (which means “empty spiral”), as Ethereal was already taken by a band from Greece.

After the name change in 1997, Lacuna Coil became a reference in Alternative Rock and Metal worldwide, having already released eight studio albums, those being In a Reverie (1999), Unleashed Memories (2001), Comalies (2002), Karmacode (2006), Shallow Life (2009), Dark Adrenaline (2012), Broken Crown Halo (2014), and more recently Delirium (2016), as well as the EP’s Lacuna Coil (1998), Halflife (2000), Shallow Live: Acoustic at Criminal Records (2010) and The House of Shame / Delirium (2016). In addition to that, the band also released a DVD in 2008, titled Visual Karma (Body, Mind and Soul). Each album by Lacuna Coil is very unique, presenting a different sonority from the others, with the band always adding new elements to their music and experimenting with new sounds. If you want to have a journey through the various phases of the band, paying a detailed attention to the evolution of Cristina (whose highest note ever hit is claimed to be an A7) as a singer and a performer, you should definitely check their songs Falling Again (from In a Reverie), Senzafine (from Unleashed Memories), Swamped (from Comalies), Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence (from Karmacode), I Like It (from Shallow Life), Trip to Darkness (from Dark Adrenaline), Nothing Stands in Our Way (from Broken Crown Halo), and Blood, Tears, Dust (from Delirium). As a matter of fact, there are so many official videos as well as bootlegs online with Cristina and Lacuna Coil you can literally spend hours or even days just watching everything nonstop.

Apart from her solid career with Lacuna Coil, Cristina can be seen in several distinct projects from the most diverse bands and genres, and in all of them she adds her personal touch of rebelliousness, passion and electricity. First let’s talk about her participation in metal-related bands and projects, and then let’s show what she can do when she’s not in her metallic mode. In 2007, Cristina lent her voice to the song S.O.S. (Anything but Love), from the album Worlds Collide by Finnish Symphonic Heavy Metal band Apocalyptica, and the result was so interesting she ended up playing several live concerts with them in the coming years. And it seems the year of 2007 was very fruitful for her career outside Lacuna Coil, as she also recorded what’s probably her biggest non-Lacuna Coil hit, the revamped version of the all-time classic power ballad “A Tout le Monde”, this time named A Tout le Monde (Set Me Free), by American Speed Metal titans Megadeth, featured on their excellent album United Abominations. Needless to say, every time Megadeth and Cristina were in the same city or festival, they ended up playing that amazing song together for the delight of the fans at the venue, as I was able to enjoy during the 2012 version of Gigantour with Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil here in Canada.

You can also find Cristina in unique metal projects such as the character “The Mother” on the 2013 album The Theory of Everything, by Dutch Progressive Metal/Rock band Ayreon, and as a guest vocalist on the song Scars, by Thrash/Groove Metal project Metal Allegiance, from their 2015 self-titled album. In addition, Cristina is also one of the musicians interviewed on the 2007 documentary Over the Madness, a DVD that follows the career of British Doom/Death Metal icons Paradise Lost, including interviews from present and past band members, plus a host of others such as the aforementioned Cristina, Martin E. Ain, Aaron Stainthorpe and Alex Skolnick, presenting the band’s history from its formation up to 2006, in chronological order.

In regards to her contributions to non-metal acts, you can enjoy the charming and powerful vocals by Cristina on different songs such as Beautiful Lie, as a duet with Italian singer Emiliano Audisio (Line 77) to be part of the soundtrack for the 2013 Italian film Passione Sinistra; Nell’acqua, with Rezophonic; an alternate version of Watch Over You, with Alter Bridge; Basta!, with L’Aura and Rezophonic; Can You Hear Me?, also with Rezophonic; and I’m That, with Franco Battiato. By the way, when Cristina sang with L’Aura it was in 2008 at Festival di Sanremo, one of the most important pop festivals in Italy (if not the most important one). And you can also find some nice videos online of Cristina singing together with a Queen tribute band called Queenmania, such as in the all-time classics Bohemian Rhapsody and Under Pressure. And in addition to all that, she also used to write an advice column in the popular rock magazine Revolver, alongside the iconic American drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah).

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If you follow The Headbanging Moose you might have seen Cristina’s name as an inspiration for several of our previous metal chicks, just showing how important she is to the expansion of the presence of women in heavy music, but of course as any normal person she also has her idols and favorite bands in music. Among her main influences and names who contributed to her becoming a singer and pursuing a career in Heavy Metal, Cristina mentioned legendary bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Motörhead, as well as darker bands like Paradise Lost and Type O Negative. By the way, some of her favorite songs, those that really make a good amount of adrenaline rush through her body, are Motörhead’s Ace of Spades and Type O Negative’s My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, which despite being very distinct songs I have to agree that they surely put a smile on the face of anyone who enjoys some good old rock and metal. Of course Cristina as any other talented and professional artist listens to a lot of non-metal music, in special music from her homeland Italy, which in the end helps her diversify her vocals from song to song, explore new horizons and remain vibrant and relevant to the world of heavy music.

Slightly changing the focus to her personal life, many of you might think it’s a dream to date a woman like her, but as in any relationship there are always some hurdles and barriers to be overcome in order to keep the passion and love going on. Cristina has been in a relationship with Slipknot and ex-Stone Sour guitarist Jim Root for over 10 years already, but keeping that relationship fresh is not an easy task due to distance between them as they’re both very busy musicians who are always on tour (not to mention the fact that Root lives in Florida while Cristina resides in Italy). “Well, my lifestyle is challenging already,” Cristina explained. “Because I travel a lot and I work very hard. So you have to learn to live your life in a different way, but in a way that works for you. So for me to even think about a normal relationship would be something weird.” Before dating Root, she was in a relationship with Lacuna Coil’s own bassist Marco, and when they broke up let’s say it wasn’t easy for them to keep working together as a band, but fortunately as decent adults they overcame that “issue” and now they’re very good friends, loving each other in a different level.

Another interesting topic discussed by Cristina in one of her interviews was related to the recent deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, where she expressed her opinion about mental illnesses, from depression to dementia to other types of mental conditions, saying we should never judge the others’ decisions as there’s so much to understand about the whole situation before reaching any conclusion. That was also explored on Lacuna Coil’s latest album Delirium. “When we did Delirium, it was really important for us to treat it in the most respectful and delicate way possible,” said Cristina. “Because you can try to send a positive message and to try to tell people, ‘Oh, you should be positive all the time, you should be happy, you should overcome depression,’ and everything, but it’s not as easy as you speak. It’s way deeper than that and more complicated than this.”

As any good Italian woman, in special if that woman is born in the city of Milan, Cristina loves stylish clothes, trying on new make-up, taking care of her dark hair and everything else that’s a synonym to fashion. For instance, she considers her beauty and make-up signature the one she herself calls a “raccoon look”, or as described by Cristina, “a heavy sort of smokey eyes style with carbon black eyeshadow surrounding both whole eyes and heavily in the lower part of the eye as well.” She also mentioned that, because she likes to combine styles and to work with contrasts, she likes to observe everything around her and go to runway shows in Milan, listing as some of her style icons the always trendy Madonna and the very elegant and dark British and Irish designer Daphne Guinness. Furthermore, she said her make-up and outfit behavior is in constant change due to new products, styles and techniques that are always appearing in the market, stating that while thinking about a new look for her concerts she always takes into account several important factors such as if the clothes are easy to carry around, if they’re washable, and if they allow her to move a lot onstage. Also in the fashion world, American photographer Jeremy Saffer (an old-time friend of Cristina) invited her to be her calendar girl for the Halloween 2015 Special Edition of XPRESSIONS magazine, with the final result being beyond stunning, of course, being sold out in a really short time.

Regarding her preparation for getting onstage and spending a long time on the road during Lacuna Coil’s extremely busy agenda worldwide, Cristina said she doesn’t exercise a lot, saying she’s some sort of “lazy bum”, and that concentration is the most important part of the process for her together with some warming up exercises to keep her voice in good shape. She said travelling all the time and managing everything is definitely not for everyone, but it can be very rewarding if you love what you do. One funny thing connected to that hectic lifestyle is that Cristina collects all her flight boarding cards, saying that one day it will be nice to see and to show others how much she’s traveled in her life. And, in terms of the apps she uses regularly, apart from Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Twitter, she’s also been using an app named Master Tour, which she considers very helpful for whoever does her type of job, keeping you updated on tours and schedules like a tour book in your smartphone. Hence, if you’re a touring musician, why not trying the same app as the successful Cristina Scabbia, right?

Lastly, when asked if she considers herself a role model for young girls, she said she doesn’t see herself as one but that all the love she gets from fans when she’s on the road makes her sometimes believe she might be indeed an inspiration for all of them. She always tells them that they have to believe in themselves because, no matter what, it is impossible to make everyone happy, so the key is to make ourselves happy and conscious of our own unique potential, with her motto in life being “live in the present and make it beautiful. I never think too much about the past or the future. The past is… gone and we will never be able to plan the future the perfect way.’’ What do you think about Cristina and her way of life? Do you agree with what she does and thinks in music and life in general? Well, there are tons of interesting interviews and videos of Cristina online to help you know more about her, such as this one from Loudwire called Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?, where she even tells if her highest note being an A7 is true or not. It seems that the world of heavy music and also the whole cyberworld can never get enough of the one and only Italian stunner Cristina Scabbia (without an “h”, per favore).

Cristina Scabbia’s Official Facebook page
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Twitter
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Instagram
Lacuna Coil’s Official Facebook page
Lacuna Coil’s Official YouTube channel
Lacuna Coil’s Official Instagram

“You have to sing with your heart, you have to sing with passion, you have to be sincere in what you’re singing, and you have to be totally convinced of what you’re doing. Most of all, you have to realize that this is a hard job that not everyone can take, so don’t look at the shiny part only, because there is a lot of work involved and a lot of sacrifice, so be ready for that as well..” – Cristina Scabbia

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Album Review – Project Renegade / Cerebra EP (2017)

Presenting a solid fusion of dark, modern and gothic elements in their compositions, this newborn Hellenic entity has all it takes to become one of the biggest exponents in European Alternative Metal.

Presenting in their music a solid and dynamic mix of Alternative, Nu, Industrial and Gothic Metal, with the addition of modern sounds, ambient, groove and electronic elements, here comes Greek Alternative Metal quartet Project Renegade, formed earlier this year in the Greek capital Athens by frontwoman Marianna and drummer Ody, who were later joined by Tasos on guitar and Makis on bass to complete the band’s lineup. After the band’s inception, those talented Greek metallers quickly put together an EP titled Cerebra, comprised of three original compositions that not only represent the essence of their music, but that are also a very good indication of what to expect from them in their soon-to-be-released debut full-length album.

Engineered, recorded and mixed at Matrix Recording Studio Athens by Dimitris Misirlis, known for his collaborations with bands like Nightstalker, Agatus and Rosewood Brothers, and mastered at Grindhouse Studios Athens by George Bokos (Stone Cold Dead, Rotting Christ, Nightfall), who has worked with names such as George Kollias, Contrarian and Unearthly, Cerebra is a very promising start to this up-and-coming four-piece act from Greece, a land that has always provided amazing bands to the world of heavy music, and after listening to its three complex and catchy tracks you’ll be more than eager to see what the band has to offer in the future and, if you’re lucky, to check them out kicking ass live.

Futuristic notes kick off the first track of the EP, entitled Pressure, a modern and symphonic blend of Alternative and Gothic Metal led by the heavy, headbanging riffs by Tasos and the smooth but piercing vocals by Marianna, while Makis and Ody make sure the atmosphere remains dense and dark with their respective bass punches and potent beats. In other words, this is an excellent sample of the fire power by Project Renegade. Following a similar metallic and modernized pattern, Project Renegade enhance their aggressiveness and obscurity in the excellent tune Natural Born Killer, where Tasos once again does an amazing job with his riffs, as well as Makis with his thunderous bass. In addition to that, Marianna makes sure her vocals transpire passion and energy, in order to properly tell the desired story through the song’s lyrics. And lastly, a wicked narration ignites another impactful and upbeat Alternative Metal feast by this Greek quartet, named One of the Crowd, where Marianna turns up the heat with her high-pitched, rebel vocal lines while Ody smashes his drums mercilessly, with all madness and wild reverberation crafted by the band smoothly flowing into a whimsical and groovy ending.

In a nutshell, Project Renegade is such a promising band that they’re capable of composing 6-minute songs (which would be considered an “atrocity” for radio exposure in modern days) that sound as if they have only three minutes or even less in duration so cohesive they are, showing how melodic and captivating their music is. If you want to know more about the band and stay tuned for their upcoming full-length album, simply visit their Facebook page and keep an eye on their YouTube channel, ReverbNation and SoundCloud for new songs to come. And if you want to show your support to Alternative Metal made in Greece, purchase Cerebra (which is available for a full listen on Spotify) through the band’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. This newborn Hellenic entity has all it takes to become one of the biggest exponents in Alternative Metal in Europe based on what they have to offer in Cerebra, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in their career when their debut full-length album is finally released.

Best moments of the album: Natural Born Killer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Pressure 6:02
2. Natural Born Killer 6:11
3. One of the Crowd 6:27

Band members
Marianna – vocals
Tasos – guitar
Makis – bass
Ody – drums

Album Review – In a Testube / Immigration Anthems (2017)

Embark on the alternative voyage proposed by four skillful musicians from Greece, full of contrasting and groovy sounds, modern day-inspired lyrics and an energetic attitude.

With live appearances in a multitude of festivals and cities across Greece, Greek Alternative Metal act In a Testube has already shared the stage in their career with influential artists of the local and international scene such as Devil Wears Prada, Rotting Christ, Jane Doe and Need. Fans have described the band’s music as an amalgam of different styles, approaching the soundscape of Korn, Nine Inch Nails, System Of a Down, A Perfect Circle, Alice in Chains and Gojira, with the occasional inclusion of experimental touches which fuse American alternative styles to the more melodic approach of European artists.

Hailing from the city of Thessaloníki, In a Testube were conceived as a group in 1999 by friends and producers Dennis Konstantinidis and Theo Arabatzis, who together recorded a demo during the summer of that same year. The band even built a studio for the recording and production of their debut album Eleven, which took place between May 2005 and January 2006. Now in 2017, with a solid lineup comprised of Dennis Konstantinidis on vocals and guitar, Panos Papadopoulos on guitar, Petros Kabanis on bass and Konstantinos Mentesidis on drums, In a Testube are releasing an entertaining album of fresh metal and rock music entitled Immigration Anthems, featuring a clever artwork designed by guitarist Panos himself (who’s also known as “PeeAy”) and nothing less than thirteen compositions full of alternative and groovy sounds, modern day-inspired lyrics and an energetic attitude by all band members.

“God made man in his own image.” It’s with these words that the band kicks off the opening track, entitled Believe, slowly building the music by adding element after element until it reaches its final rockin’ rhythm and electrified vibe, with Dennis bringing some rebelliousness to the musicality with his raspy vocals. Sounding more contemporary and alternative, In the End is a mid-tempo Rock N’ Roll composition where the bass lines by Petros and the steady beats by Konstantinos dictate the rhythm; followed by C.I.C.O., the acronym for “Change Is Coming On”, a song about the need to change the way we do everything (“Tell me one thing / what could get worse? / It feels like we are cursed / with this darkness in you / the more, the worse is for you / No one showed us the line / and we are screwed big time / with the things that we do / I feel I have to change”). It’s definitely darker and heavier than the previous tunes thanks to the metallic riffs by Dennis and his bandmate Panos, as well as the always sick low-tuned bass by Petros. And blending modern Hard Rock with alternative elements in the background like what bands such as Dommin usually do, Hey Lilly showcases a great job done by Dennis in his personal “talk” with a woman called Lilly.

In Cloc, one of the heaviest of all songs, we face metallic riffs spiced up with hints of progressiveness, sounding at times like Gojira and Mastodon, with Petros and Konstantinos kicking ass in the band’s “kitchen” while Dennis enhances his aggressiveness on vocals. The radio-friendly tune Limitless begins with an eerie narration before getting truly alternative and electrified, drawing influences from bands like Korn and Linkin Park, with highlights to the precise performance by Dennis on vocals; whereas in Together as Two a promising start suddenly flows into a generic formula that doesn’t know if it’s a ballad or an Alternative Rock song. In other words, its instrumental parts are relatively well-engendered, but the song never really takes off. However, in Lucky Thirteen we’re treated to an eccentric atmosphere and tons of alternative elements added to the musicality, and just like “Limitless” this is a song perfect for some radio exposure, with Konstantinos leading the rhythm with his groovy and potent beats.

This talented Greek quartet keeps delivering top-tier Alternative Rock and Metal through their precise beats and heavy but melodic guitars in Many Things (and after listening to it you’ll have to agree they’re a “hit machine”), but it’s when they get more metal like in Flying Away that they thrive even more. It’s another tune with hints of Progressive Metal, presenting amazing guitar and bass lines, as well as the once again kick-ass beats by Konstantinos. Digital Eyes is a slow-paced, dark creation by In a Testube with the bass by Petros sounding menacing, reminding me a little of some contemporary songs by Metallica in regards to its rhythm, therefore bringing a fresh taste to the album in special due to its beautiful ending. In Slipping Away, the longest and most progressive of all tracks, the band blends elements from Groove Metal and Alternative Rock in a solid way, going from smooth and modern passages to hardcore growls and potent riffs, not to mention Petros’ awesome bass punches and the song’s crazy and innovative last part, morphing into the outro Mythu, which nicely wraps up the musical journey offered by the band.

You can embark on the modern and alternative voyage proposed by In a Testube by following them on Facebook and listening to their music on YouTube or ReverbNation, and purchase Immigration Anthems (which can be enjoyed in full HERE) through the New Dream Records’ webshop, on iTunes or on Amazon. These guys love what they do, they love good music, and it’s just a matter of time until several radio stations not only in Greece but all over the world begin blasting their solid creations through our speakers, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: C.I.C.O., Cloc, Flying Away and Digital Eyes.

Worst moments of the album: Together as Two.

Released in 2017 New Dream Records

Track listing
1. Believe 3:30
2. In the End 3:31
3. C.I.C.O. 4:28
4. Hey Lilly 4:14
5. Cloc 5:52
6. Limitless 5:33
7. Together as Two 5:11
8. Lucky Thirteen 4:13
9. Many Things 4:02
10. Flying Away 4:30
11. Digital Eyes 5:48
12. Slipping Away 6:52
13. Mythu 3:30

Band members
Dennis Konstantinidis – vocals, guitar
Panos Papadopoulos – guitar
Petros Kabanis – bass
Konstantinos Mentesidis – drums 

Guest musician
Nikos Magnisalis – Kavali solo on “Digital Eyes”

Album Review – Dirty Machine / Discord (2017)

Enjoy the debut album by a tenacious Nu Metal outfit that has all it takes to successfully spread their metallic and groovy wings all over the world.

Hailing from the rockin’ Los Angeles, California, a city that never sleeps, Nu Metal outfit Dirty Machine has been proudly carrying the flag of Alternative and Nu Metal since their inception in 2012, pulling major influences from bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Linkin Park and Sevendust, having already shared the stage with renowned acts like Ghost, Sixx AM, Disturbed and Trivium. The band has quickly built a rabid underground following, especially in the Kansas City area due to getting regular airtime on the leading Kansas City rock station 98.9 The Rock and headlining the Jägermeister Stage at the 2016 Kansas City Rockfest.

Now in 2017 the band has joined forces with Zombie Shark Records to release their debut album, entitled Discord, featuring eight uproarious composition (plus three bonus songs) blending the most electrifying elements from Groove and Rap Metal that will inspire you to jump up and down and have a very good time with your friends. Moreover, Dirty Machine’s music is so cohesive and catchy that you’ll find yourself singing the songs along with the band and tapping on your desk even if you’re not a fan of Nu Metal at all, and that says a lot about a band that has all it takes to successfully spread their metallic and groovy wings all over the world.

Their modern fusion of the Nu Metal by Limp Bizkit and the Rap Metal by Bodycount is crystal clear from the very first second in the exciting title-track Discord, showcasing great sync between the aggressive rapper lines by lead singer David Leach and the clean vocals by guitarist and vocalist Darren Davis, as well as endless heaviness boosted by the song’s solid melody. The next tune, titled Seeds, is ready to be played on any radio station, where not even the harsher vocals by David make it too aggressive for some air time, while the guitars by Darren and his bandmate Arnold Quezada bring the right amount of fire to their musicality. And taking their pugnacity to a whole new level, Self Made Hero feels like an alternate version of Slipknot led by the song’s blazing guitars thoroughly blended with the wicked samples by DJ Ecusa. Put differently, this is one of those songs to keep jumping up and down nonstop during their live concerts.

Social Recoil is another excellent display of fresh and thrilling Nu Metal, with Mike Weekley smashing his drums while Arnold and Darren follow him with their crushing riffs, not to mention the insane amount of groove coming from the low-tuned, metallic bass by Nathan Young. Now, are you ready for a “fight” with DJ Ecusa? That’s what you’ll get in Ecusa’s Nightmare, a three-minute whimsical party full of weird noises and voices, with the rest of the band effectively supporting this talented DJ and his “stunts”; and connecting instantly with the wicked feast led by DJ Ecusa we have Built, bringing more of Dirty Machine’s Limp Bizkit-Korn-Sevendust-inspired sounding, where the duo David and Darren keeps delivering amazing vocal lines, powerfully complementing each other, while Nathan and Mike sound as thunderous as possible with their bass punches and beats, respectively.

Although C4 is as heavy and groovy as the rest of the album, for some reason it doesn’t click to me, with its vocal lines being a bit disconnected from the instrumental pieces. Not only that, the guitars don’t sound as inspired as in the rest of the album, which makes me agree with the funny message sent by David at the end of the song saying not-so-nice things about the song itself. Fortunately, everything gets back on track with Wonka, where the band sounds faster, crazier and heavier than ever. This is what Dirty Machine need to do to really pump us up, providing a balanced mix of heavy riffs from Alternative Metal and witty vocals from Rap Metal and Hardcore. Not only this is a wise choice to close the album, but the demented screams by Darren add a lot of anger to the overall result, turning it into one of my favorite compositions in Discord.

If you want to know more details about the music and career of Dirty Machine, go to their Facebook page and YouTube channel for an overdose of high-end Nu Metal, and you can also support this dirty sextet by purchasing Discord at the Zombie Shark Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes or on Amazon. As Dirty Machine are a very active band, who knows, you might even get them in action in LA or any other city in the United States blasting their Nu Metal in one of your visits to their homeland, and I bet you’ll get addicted to their catchy and groovy music without even noticing.

Best moments of the album: Discord, Seeds, Self Made Hero and Wonka.

Worst moments of the album: C4.

Released in 2017 Zombie Shark Records

Track listing
1. Discord 3:18
2. Seeds 4:15
3. Self Made Hero 3:22
4. Social Recoil 3:42
5. Ecusa’s Nightmare 2:55
6. Built 3:32
7. C4 2:45
8. Wonka 3:47

Bonus tracks
9. Refuse To Follow 3:46
10. Victory 3:47
11. J-Dead 3:58

Band members
David Leach (Dirty Davo) – vocals
Arnold Quezada (Hedge) – guitar
Darren Davis – guitar, vocals
Nathan Young (Youngblood) – bass, backing vocals
Mike Weekley (Nightmare) – drums
DJ Ecusa – turntables & samples

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

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

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Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

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 – 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

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)