Album Review – Gravewards / Subconscious Lobotomy EP (2017)

Enjoy 22 minutes of destructive Death Metal delivered by a Greek power trio aiming at unleashing metal music with tons of groove and vile vibes, blended with technical and aggressive thrash sounds and their own twisted atmosphere.

And the endless source of high-quality metal music that is the Hellenic Republic brings to us another recently born Death Metal act that goes by the interesting name of Gravewards, a Death Metal power trio based in the capital Athens and formed in late 2015. Aiming at unleashing metal music with tons of groove and vile vibes heavily influenced not only by old school Death Metal, but also by technical and aggressive thrash sounds blended with their own twisted atmosphere, this Greek band is the latest option in the market for fans of bands such as Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Death and Benediction.

Recorded at Made In Hell Studio in Athens in late 2016, and featuring a straightforward, dark artwork By Czech designer Vojtěch Moonroot Doubek (Moonrot Art), the debut demo by Gravewards, titled Subconscious Lobotomy, will bring to your avid ears 22 minutes of destructive Death Metal split in four original creations by the band, working as a solid warmup for their upcoming releases. Those guy might be “just” a power trio, but the amount of energy and aggressiveness they put into making their music feels like they’re a full-bodied band with five or even more members. Be ready to get smashed by Nikos on vocals and guitars, Fotis on bass, and Vasilis on drums, and enjoy the demonic music by another band that proudly carries the flag of Greek Metal wherever they go.

Distorted lines and a hostile ambience are the background for Nikos and his bandmates to begin crushing with their visceral Death Metal in Casket Entrapment, also presenting hints of Doom and Sludge Metal to make things even more interesting. Moreover, Nikos sounds like a rabid beast on vocals, while Vasilis punishes his drums mercilessly during the whole song. In the next song of the EP, the heavy and sluggish title-track Subconscious Lobotomy, not only the rumbling bass by Fotis together with the blackened guitars by Nikos dictate the rhythm, but it also has a primeval vibe perfect for breaking your spine headbanging. Put differently, this is the type of song that offers the listener a very cohesive sonority with that raw punch we always look for in good quality Death Metal.

Sounding even more enraged and demented than before, Nikos keeps growling like a beast while Fotis and Vasilis set the desired ambience for his vile gnarls in Crawling Chaos, a showcase of almost seven minutes of a groovy and violent bloodshed the likes of Obituary, Entombed, Unleashed and several other classic acts that play old school Death Metal. And lastly, Deathwomb Incubation begins with an eerie female voice followed by melodic guitars in a gripping rhythm, gradually becoming a menacing spawn of evil Death Metal with the desperate, deep growls by Nikos penetrating your mind while Fotis and Vasilis keep shaking the earth with their low-tuned weapons until the song’s vibrant and abrupt ending.

In summary, Gravewards have just risen from the pits of hell and are definitely here to stay, disturbing our peace with the ruthless and gruesome Death Metal found in Subconscious Lobotomy, giving a very good sense of the destructive path this honest and hardworking Greek power trio might take in their future releases. If you are curious to know more about the band, go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and in case you’re an admirer of underground extreme music you can purchase their debut demo at Discogs or at the Dying Victims Productions’ webstore. I’m sure the guys from Gravewards will appreciate your support, which will certainly fuel them for keeping delivering crushing Death Metal to your ears.

Best moments of the album: Subconscious Lobotomy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Casket Entrapment 5:38
2. Subconscious Lobotomy 4:08
3. Crawling Chaos 6:37
4. Deathwomb Incubation 5:19

Band members
Nikos – vocals, guitars
Fotis – bass
Vasilis – drums

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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 – Divine Element / Thaurachs Of Borsu (2017)

In the hostile lands of Borsu, witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war, human society and the fabric of the cosmos itself, all embraced by the fury and epicness of Melodic Death and Black Metal.

A comeback that has been slowly brewing since a few years now. Formed in 2002 in the city of Athens, Greece, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Divine Element was the first band of Spectral Lore’s multi-instrumentalist Ayloss and vocalist Antonis, releasing their self-titled debut album back in 2010. After a hiatus of almost seven years, Divine Element are finally back with the stunning Thaurachs of Borsu, the first chapter in many future ones to come under a new and ambitious conceptual undertaking, the combination of metal with fantasy literature and world-making. Featuring a classy artwork by Chilean artist Matias Trabold Rehren, Thaurachs of Borsu is based on the same-titled novel written by Ayloss, which will be unveiled not long after the album release (to be followed by short stories from Antonis), set on a medieval fantasy universe envisioned by the band.

Thaurachs of Borsu chronicles the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war, human society and the fabric of the cosmos itself, as the gritty and daring warriors of his nation, Borsu, fight to regain their ancestral homeland from a much more powerful enemy. Musically speaking, the album ties together several styles of metal to serve the higher purpose of epic storytelling, albeit taking notice to never fall into the typical clichés of “soundtrack metal”, keeping an old-school approach mostly centered around Death and Black Metal of the heavy, melodic variety. Put differently, after hitting play you’ll find yourself wandering through the lands of Borsu, ready for battle and eager for some blood, banging your head nonstop to the majestic heavy music played by Antonis and Ayloss, with the precise and masterful support of German drummer Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, Hannes Grossman, Shapeshift) to make their sound even more enthralling.

A Realignment With Destiny is a fantastic epic intro to the battle that’s about to come, the title-track Thaurachs Of Borsu, where Antonis and Ayloss begin their crushing onslaught in total sync with the Amon Amarth-inspired beats by Hannes. In other words, this is superb metal music, dense and profound, with all instruments filling all spaces with sheer aggression and might. In addition, how not to fall in love for those monumental lyrics (“The valley folk to the mountains’ slopes withdrew / Surrounded only by unwrought stone / The sea lords to the dry desert driven / Οswan roams frenzied in a soundless plain / Mestyr hangs discouraged with a rusting blade / And all hearts bellow in a silent wailing / A resignation to oblivion”)?

In Onto The Trail Of Betrayal, Antonis’ potent deep growls keep rumbling the earth while the instrumental pieces invest in a more Black Metal sonority. Moreover, the intricate beats by Hannes go along flawlessly with the cutting riffs by Ayloss, resulting in eight minutes of the best underground Melodic Death and Black Metal you can get anywhere, where they not only play superior music but the story being told is also a work-of-art. Then in Beyond This Sea we’re treated to a calm and melancholic start before the sound of the sea and the guitar lines blend in a beautiful manner, creating a potent atmosphere for the metallic sounds that are about to come. Adding elements of Blackened Doom and Folk Metal to their menacing Melodic Death Metal, the result couldn’t sound more imposing and appealing, with highlights to how vocals and guitar follow the exact same lines.

The movie-inspired bridge Interlude (The Point Of No Return) sounds even more majestic than the album’s intro, warming up your fighting soul for the crushing Call Of The Blade, a gripping fusion of the music played by Amon Amarth with traditional Folk Metal, with Antonis sounding like a beast on vocals, enhancing the impact of the song’s already powerful lyrics (“The land speaks to me in an alien tongue / Though my blood was born in these shores / What will I find, if I dig to unearth these roots / The echo of old thoughts faints quickly here / As the collective energy rises triumphant / Powered by the fiery will of a few”). Traitor’s Last Stand is another belligerent tune by Divine Element, showcasing almost eight minutes of heavier-than-hell riffs, electrifying passages and enlivening breaks. Furthermore, Hannes brings a high dosage of intricacy to the overall musicality with his drumming, while Antonis keeps telling the story with precision and passion through his anger-fueled growls. The last part of the song exhales epicness, gradually morphing into the cinematic outro Augury For A Shapeless Future, where the gorgeous sound of a rough ocean, together with the orchestrations in the background, make it the perfect climatic ending for the album.

No words can describe with the right amount of detail how amazing Thaurachs Of Borsu is, which is why I highly recommend you go take a listen at the album in its entirety HERE, and also visit the band’s official Facebook page for more information and their YouTube channel for more awesomeness in the form of heavy music. Also, there are several locations where you can purchase Thaurachs Of Borsu, such as Divine Element’s BandCamp, the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and the Season of Mist’s webstore, as well as on Amazon and at Discogs. And while we wait for the next chapter in the career of Divine Element, we have plenty to enjoy and absorb in this superb album where heavy music and a thrilling story-telling couldn’t be more connected, impactful and vibrant.

Best moments of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu, Beyond This Sea and Call Of The Blade.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing   
1. A Realignment With Destiny 2:13
2. Thaurachs Of Borsu 4:52
3. Onto The Trail Of Betrayal 7:45
4. Beyond This Sea 4:54
5. Interlude (The Point Of No Return) 1:30
6. Call Of The Blade 6:34
7. Traitor’s Last Stand 7:36
8. Augury For A Shapeless Future 2:39

Band members
Antonis – vocals
Ayloss – guitars, bass, synths

Guest musician
Hannes Grossman – drums (session)

Album Review – The Silent Rage / The Deadliest Scourge (2016)

A superb display of modern and melodic Power Metal by an emerging band from Greece who unite the past, present and future of heavy music in their compositions, always sounding fresh, vigorous and exciting.

Rating3

The Silent Rage - The Deadliest Scourge Cover_HighResInvesting your energy and resources into making Power Metal in modern society “is a dangerous business, Frodo”. Apart from the mass hysteria caused by the swords and dragons from Game Of Thrones, just a very small niche of the world population still finds delight and excitement while listening to old school bands such as Manowar, Blind Guardian and many others who devoted their careers to singing about warriors and battles. Maybe it’s just a momentary trend and Power Metal will return to its glorious days soon, or maybe the advancements in technology and the modern-day life do not match with its thematic anymore. Luckily for all of us metalheads, there are still some newborn bands that not only know how to deliver high-end Power Metal, but they have also adapted their style to a more contemporary approach, sounding fresh and interesting even playing a subgenre of heavy music that’s becoming more and more relegated to the underground. Having said that, one of the best examples of how a band can be successful in this new world order are Greek Melodic Power Metal troopers The Silent Rage, who have just released their first (and superb) full-length album The Deadliest Scourge.

Formed by guitarist Nikos Siglidis in Athens, Greece in 2006, The Silent Rage have been on a roll since then, releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2009 (which got impressive feedback from global media) and another EP entitled Harvester Of Souls in 2011, thus sharing the stage with icons like Rage, Grave Digger, Stratovarius and Rotting Christ during their Greek tours. Displaying a somber artwork designed by Polish artist Michal Karcz of Parallel Worlds (who has already worked with Metal Church and VNV Nation), and featuring special guest musicians Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind), Yossi Sassi (Orphaned Land), Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov (Arkona) and Theophilos Kritikos (Feel), The Deadliest Scourge unites the past, present and future of Power Metal in such a solid and compelling way those guys sound like veterans, but obviously always looking forward without being imprisoned in a past that unfortunately will never return.

Signal Of War, an atmospheric and somewhat tribal intro composed by guest musician Theophilos Kritikos, warms up the listener for the first song of the album named My Race Won’t Last, a modern Heavy Metal hurricane led by the unstoppable drummer Stamatis Katsafados, showcasing an amazing synchronicity between lead and backing vocals which end up strengthening the story told through the lyrics. Right after that excellent start, the title-track The Deadliest Scourge begins at full speed through the blazing riffs by Nikos and his bandmate Kostas Krikos, before Steve Venardo joins the music with his potent vocals in a solid display of contemporary Power Metal, reminding me of old school Iced Earth but with the band’s own touch and a high dosage of electricity. And pedal to the metal in what can be considered a tribute to traditional Heavy Metal by The Silent Rage entitled StormWarrior, a song that will inspire you to grab your sword and shield and head into the battlefield to the sound of its accelerated rhythm, its catchy chorus and a beyond powerful performance by Steve on vocals.

Those Greek metallers provide us another shot of pure Power Metal in Between Harmony & Sorrow, where both lead and rhythm guitars sound cutting and electrified, being beautifully complemented by the heavy and tuneful bass lines by Stavros Tsilivarakos and, consequently, keeping the level of stamina really high in the album. With guest musician Apollo Papathanasio on lead vocals, Sin Of A Pilgrim is a hybrid of traditional Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, presenting many elements found in the music by Iced Earth such as the fiery guitar solo delivered by Kostas amidst the precise beats by Stamatis. And when a song starts with an amusing guitar solo inspired by Heavy Metal from the 80’s like what we see in Leading The Legions, a powerful tune about courage and leadership, you know it’s going to be awesome. Furthermore, all band members put their hearts and souls into the making of this chant, which obviously enhances its impact and beauty.

The Silent Rage 2015e_WebResProselytize The Masses can be described as “when progressive music meets pure Heavy Metal”, because this is exactly what you get in this great composition where lyrics are as traditional as possible (“You know that they’ve ruined your life / Led your behavior this way / Forming the limits and guiding your thoughts / Setting the borders, around and around as we’ll go / There’s no awakening from this oblivion / No escape or salvation, Gatekeepers leading you blind”). It’s quite impossible not to get thrilled by its lancinating riffs, with Kostas once again stealing the spotlight with his guitar solos. If you think there can’t be more awesomeness in The Deadliest Scorge, you’re completely mistaken, because even after so many epic songs they still have the necessary energy to craft more amazing metal such as in The Right To Dream, where Stamatis continues to smash his drums relentlessly while the guitar riffs by Nikos and Kostas keep piercing our ears.

The last “triumvirate” of this flammable album brings forward more high-end Heavy Metal, starting with the metallic Thoughts Collapse, a fast and heavy tune perfect for diehard fans of old school Power Metal, with highlights to the superb job done by the dynamic duo Nikos and Kostas on guitars and to the violent growling by Steve and Nikos. In A Piece Of Eden, the band offers the listener an uplifting chorus and another spot-on performance by Stamatis on drums, not to mention Kostas’ epic solo that leads to the song’s powerful conclusion, before Shadow Spirit, an awe-inspiring and medieval Folk Metal acoustic tune, puts an end to this brilliant opus. Guest musicians Yossi Sassi and Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov add an extra dosage of epicness with their eccentric instruments, while the smooth ending of the song brings peace to our beaten and bruised metal hearts, sounding delightfully melancholic.

Available as a 500 hand-numbered digipack format (which includes a bonus track entitled Inner Scars), a regular jewel case format and digital download at the band’s BandCamp page or at the Alone Records’ webstore, The Deadliest Scourge is one of those albums that definitely put a smile on the faces of all admirers of good old Power Metal. You can find more about The Silent Rage and their incredible album at their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and witness how Power Metal is still relevant and puissant in the world of music. May the Gods of Metal always be by the side of The Silent Rage, helping them generate a lot more top-notch Heavy Metal for many years to come, never sounding cheesy or outdated and, therefore, continue taking virtuous and precise steps on the bright path ahead of them.

Best moments of the album: The Deadliest Scourge, StormWarrior, Proselytize The Masses and Shadow Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Alone Records

Track listing
1. Signal Of War (Intro) 2:29
2. My Race Won’t Last 3:46
3. The Deadliest Scourge 3:43
4. StormWarrior 5:10
5. Between Harmony & Sorrow 4:21
6. Sin Of A Pilgrim 3:17
7. Leading The Legions 4:16
8. Proselytize The Masses 4:10
9. The Right To Dream 4:16
10. Thoughts Collapse 4:59
11. A Piece Of Eden 4:51
12. Shadow Spirit 6:01

500 Hand-Numbered Digipak bonus track
13. Inner Scars 3:57

Band members
Steve Venardo – lead vocals, growls
Nikos Siglidis – guitars, growls
Kostas Krikos – lead guitar
Stavros Tsilivarakos – bass
Stamatis Katsafados – drums

Guest musicians
Theophilos Kritikos – programming and orchestration on “Signal Of War”
Apollo Papathanasio – lead vocals on “Sin Of A Pilgrim”
Yossi Sassi – ud on “Shadow Spirit”
Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov – galician bagpipe and sopikla on “Shadow Spirit”

Album Review – Slitherum / Godbox Suicide (2016)

A Dark Metal album that beautifully represents all the diversity, radiance and finesse of the Greek culture, crafted by a power trio ready to conquer the world of heavy music.

Rating4

frontIn order to properly celebrate the 300th album review by The Headbanging Moose, let’s go back to a country that has always played a very important role in the history of immigration to Canada, especially during the early 20th century, building a healthy and flourishing relationship with “The Great White North”. Known for their incomparable history, rich cuisine and astonishing landscapes, Greece has always been a place where past, present and future meet, creating a distinct atmosphere not found anywhere else in the world, and the same can be said about their multilayered music as you’ll be able to see in Godbox Suicide, the debut full-length album by Gothic/Industrial Metal act Slitherum.

Amazing groups from the Hellenic Republic such as Diablery, Primeval Mass and Defision have already had their powerful music reviewed at The Headbanging Moose, not to mention the iconic Rotting Christ, all of them shaping their own style by blending elements from different genres and subgenres of rock and heavy music similarly to what Slitherum offer us in their new album. Formed in 2015 in the city of Athens, the power trio comprised of Nick Marinos on vocals, Giannis Kalamatas on guitars, bass and synths, and Antonis Kanaras on drums will take you on a journey through the realms of obscure and melodic music, showcasing all their skills and their passion for Dark Metal.

Godbox suicide starts with Λεχωνα (pronounced “Lechona”), which is Greek for a woman who has just given birth, an atmospheric intro that “gives birth” to the album and sets the tone for Feet, presenting a groovy sounding with the resonant bass lines by Giannis building the perfect ambience for the devilish growls by Nick. Not only it sounds like a hybrid of Moonspell and early In Flames, but it’s quite interesting how they add pure Hard Rock elements amidst the havoc generated by their Death and Black Metal vein, creating a fresh and solid sonority.

The title-track Godbox Suicide offers the listener slightly more melodic lines in a journey back to the 80’s, mainly due to the Type O Negative-inspired vocals by Nick. This is one of those top-notch Gothic Rock and Metal tunes tailored for lovers of the dark side who enjoy dancing facing the wall (if you know what I mean), with highlights to its powerful solos and extremely catchy chorus; whereas Vulnus, the Latin word for wound or injury, is another thrilling Gothic Metal composition with vocals leaning towards Black and Doom Metal, being melancholic, sorrowful and venomous. In addition, the spot-on Doom Metal beats by Antonis boost the song’s impact on the listener, making the whole experience of listening to Slitherum a lot more pleasant.

slitherumKeyboards bring forward an electronic vibe before Antonis smashes his drums in the awesome Industrial Metal chant Mother, with Nick going from the deepest low vocals to the harshest screeches while Giannis keeps kicking ass with his riffs and solos. After listening to this song, you’ll realize how much those Greek guys simply love all the alternative and obscure subgenres of heavy music and how elegantly and passionately they mix all their main influences into their musicality.

Before Godbox Suicide is over, Slitherum have another blast of their dark music entitled Child, a mesmerizing and atmospheric power ballad led by its strong bass lines and synths where Nick has a great performance declaiming the song’s cryptic lyrics, sometimes sounding like the weird creations by Faith No More (which just proves how versatile Slitherum are). And then the wicked composition Cure concludes the album in the darkest way possible, working almost as a regular outro but with extra layers added to it, including some eerie vocal lines in the background.

This up-and-coming Greek band can be found on Facebook and on YouTube, and Godbox Suicide can be purchased at Discogs as a CD or as a special vinyl version. Godbox Suicide is not only an album that beautifully represents all the diversity, radiance and finesse of the Greek culture, but also an album that will help this talented band go places and spread their peculiar metal music throughout the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Feet, Godbox Suicide and Mother.

Worst moments of the album: Cure.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1.Λεχωνα (“Lechona”) 3:31
2.Feet 3:13
3.Godbox Suicide 3:23
4.Vulnus 4:12
5.Mother 2:42
6.Child 5:00
7.Cure 4:35

Band members
Nick Marinos – vocals
Giannis Kalamatas – guitars, bass, synths
Antonis Kanaras – drums

Album Review – Rotting Christ / Rituals (2016)

The Greek gods of Black Metal return with a brand new opus that sounds more ritualistic and occult than ever, but as heavy and visceral as usual.

Rating4

rotting christ_ritualsI’m pretty sure most metalheads will agree with me when I say Rituals, the brand new opus by Greek Black/Dark Metal institution Rotting Christ, would be the perfect soundtrack to the most intense and gruesome epic movie of all time, making even classics like Gladiator look like a teen movie. Rituals does not offer just another selection of Extreme Metal songs crafted by this iconic band from Athens, Greece, but instead a sequence of ritualistic battle chants tailored to inspire us to grab our swords, shields and armors and be prepared to fight in this Holy War until our inevitable and sanguinary end comes.

In fact, this blend of Extreme Metal with History, religion and culture offered by Rotting Christ is not news to anyone. This has been a constant in the distinct career of this awesome Greek act since their inception in 1987, and with each and every new record they go deeper and deeper into the selected topics and themes, always improving the more contemporary blackened-Gothic style from their latest albums. Add to that the several guest musicians featured in Rituals and the band’s usual controversy in regards to their lyrics, and there you have another excellent album that will surely keep Rotting Christ more than relevant in the world of extreme music.

We already face a religious call to arms in the opening track, entitled In Nomine Dei Nostri (“In the Name of Our God”, from Latin), featuring guest vocalist George Zacharopoulos, who helps Rotting Christ in providing the album a solid start. Musically speaking, this tune is remarkably potent and imposing, a sonic battle that gradually grows within time and that gets even more impactful due to its demonic chorus. זה נגמר (Ze Nigmar), or “It’s Over”, is a dark and mysterious song about death and failure written in the official language of Jesus Christ (Aramaic) and is referred on his last 7 sentences on the cross, displaying the band’s trademark sonority with the guitar riffs by the band’s mastermind Sakis Tolis and the talented George Emmanuel creating a mesmerizing aura; while the high-octane tune Ἐλθὲ κύριε (Elthe Kyrie), or “Come Lord” from Greek, features Danai Katsameni (an actress of the National Hellenic Theater) vociferating some disturbing and desperate vocals which end up bringing a fantastic vibe to the music, not to mention those screams match flawlessly with the deeper growling by Sakis.

I simply love how many different languages and dialects are used by the band, always providing a fresh touch to their music, and in Les Litanies de Satan (Les Fleurs du Mal), or “The Litanies of Satan (The Flowers of Evil)” from French, that couldn’t be different, with the music generating a belligerent ambience that provides guest vocalist Vorph (Samael) all he needs to darkly declaim the song’s French lyrics (“Toi dont l’oeil clair connaît les profonds arsenaux / Où dort enseveli le peuple des métaux, / Toi dont la large main cache les precipices / Au somnambule errant au bord des edifices”). And as heavy and tribal as it can be, Ἄπαγε Σατανά (Apage Satana), the Greek for  “Begone, Satan”, brings forward a hellish march where its background noises and vociferations add an extra layer of obscurity to this disturbing chant, sounding like a satanic mantra at times.

rotting christIn Του θάνατου (Tou Thanatou), or “Death’s” from Greek, although you can hear straightforward Black Metal in the background, the music is at the same time very melodic and ritualistic, with hints of Symphonic Gothic Metal enhancing even more the quality of this beautiful cover version for a traditional Greek song by Nikos Xylouris. The initial and final narrations in For a Voice like Thunder (taken from the Prologue to “King Edward the Fourth” by William Blake) are obscurely amazing thanks to the fantastic contribution by the one and only Nick Holmes, who together with Sakis and his crew makes sure there are plenty of Gothic and Doom Metal elements from his band Paradise Lost added to the music.

Dark shadows continue to be over the music by Rotting Christ in Konx om Pax, which means  “Watch and do no harm” from Greek or “Light rushing out in a single ray” from Egyptian, another solid war-like composition where all instruments sound powerful, especially the sustained drumming by Themis Tolis and the song’s background keyboards. The same can be said about देवदेवं (Devadevam), or “God of Gods” from Sanskrit, a more melancholic and somber tune featuring guest singer Kathir which despite being very complex and dense, it lacks the Black Metal “venom” found in the other songs of the album. And the grand finale in Rituals comes in the form of a unique cover version for a psychedelic tune by Greek Progressive Rock band Aphrodite’s Child, entitled The Four Horsemen, where Themis and bassist Van Ace have exceptional performances while Sakis continues firing his bestial and effective growls.

There are so many details, so much content and so much to absorb in Rituals (which can be listened in its entirety HERE) that it becomes extremely difficult for an occasional listener of Rotting Christ to understand and enjoy everything the band is offering. However, if you’re a fan of occult and extreme music with a robust production and a primeval background, I’m sure you’ll have a very productive time listening to each “ritual” of the album. Rituals will take you to a time where crossing the thin line between war and religion was just a matter of accepting or not that the world we live in is hopeless, and there’s nothing we can do to change its wretched destiny.

Best moments of the album: In Nomine Dei Nostri, Ἐλθὲ κύριε (Elthe Kyrie) and Του θάνατου (Tou Thanatou).

Worst moments of the album: देवदेवं (Devadevam).

Released in 2016 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. In Nomine Dei Nostri 4:57
2. זה נגמר (Ze Nigmar) 4:43
3. Ἐλθὲ κύριε (Elthe Kyrie) 4:49
4. Les Litanies de Satan (Les Fleurs du Mal) 3:55
5. Ἄπαγε Σατανά (Apage Satana) 3:50
6. Του θάνατου (Tou Thanatou) (Nikos Xylouris cover) 3:37
7. For a Voice like Thunder 6:11
8. Konx om Pax 6:21
9. देवदेवं (Devadevam) 5:18
10. The Four Horsemen (Aphrodite’s Child cover) 5:24

Special Digibox bonus track
11. Lok’tar Ogar 4:25

Band members
Sakis Tolis – vocals, guitars
George Emmanuel – guitars
Van Ace – bass
Themis Tolis – drums

Guest musicians
George Zacharopoulos – additional vocals on “In Nomine Dei Nostri”
Danai Katsameni – additional vocals on “Ἐλθὲ κύριε (Elthe Kyrie)”
Vorph – additional vocals on “Les Litanies de Satan (Les Fleurs du Mal)”
Nick Holmes – additional vocals on “For a Voice like Thunder”
Kathir – additional vocals on “देवदेवं (Devadevam)”

Album Review – Primeval Mass / To Empyrean Thrones (2016)

A primeval and aggressive feast of Black Metal crafted by a proficient and occult one-man army from Greece that will darkly guide your soul to empyrean thrones.

Rating4

cover“Amongst the Ruins of Cosmos…To Amaranthine Empyrean Thrones.”

Although there are tons of Black Metal one-man armies spread all over the world, and despite getting accustomed to their undeniable talent and eccentricity, I have to say those lonesome metallers of evil continue to impress me every single time I get to review their music. This time, what we have in our hands is a top-tier feast of the occult entitled To Empyrean Thrones, the brand new release by Greek Black Metal act Primeval Mass. If you love the heavy and thrashy sound of sheer aggression and the disturbing sense of pitch black darkness, you’ll have a blast listening to this excellent album.

Spawned at the dawn of the 2nd millennium in Athens, Greece by multi-instrumentalist and warlock Orth, Primeval Mass have been causing a significant impact in the underworld of extreme music with each and every release since the band’s inception, which includes two full-length albums (As Solemn Maelstrom… and Blood Breathing Idols), a couple of demos and some split records. However, after taking a listen at the band’s previous releases, it becomes clear that To Empyrean Thrones (conceived, arranged and performed in its entirety by Orth) is by far Primeval Mass’ boldest, most solid and most exhilarating opus to date. In addition to that, I guess I don’t need to mention how kick-ass the album art is. Designed by the exceptionally talented Karmazid, it’s incandescent, obscure, and therefore perfect for representing high-quality Black Metal.

There couldn’t be a better way to start the album than with the creepy and atmospheric In Fiery Ascent, which intro goes on for almost three minutes in a great display of Blackened Doom before darkness rises in the form of blasting Black Metal. Orth showcases his total control of all instruments during the almost ten minutes of blasphemy brought forth in this ruthless tune, followed by the amazing For Astral Triumphs. Orth definitely puts the pedal to the metal in this great composition, growling like a possessed beast amidst nonstop blast beats and endless savagery, with its harmonious guitar riffs and solos bringing balance and intricacy to the overall result.

primeval massAdding Death Metal and especially Thrash Metal elements to the music, with some riffs reminding me of the early days of Slayer, Orth fires another high-octane demented tune to haunt our souls named Their Eyes of the Abyss, one of my favorite tracks where his harsh vocals rise to a whole new satanic level. And when you think Orth will keep storming our souls with his fast and furious brutality, he surprises us all with Behind the Watching Shadows, a melancholic instrumental Doom Metal aria spreading despair and sorrow through its soulful riffs and sluggish beats. Of course, it doesn’t take too long for the sonic havoc to start again with yet another thrashier than usual Black Metal tune called With the Emblem of the Blackwinged (beautiful song name, by the way), with its disturbingly amazing rhythm enhanced by Orth’s hellish growling. Moreover, its unstoppable drumming will puncture your ears while the guitar lines will cut your flesh like a sharp razor during its seven minutes of mean and ruthless music.

Going back to the foundations of Black Metal, the ambience becomes the main element in The Grand Ordeal, with Orth’s solid guitar lines guiding the musicality together with his bloodthirsty growls, whereas in Hour of the Stellarnaut, a professional exhibit of what true Black Metal can offer fans of extreme music, our fearless metaller breathes fire an sulfur through all instruments. And how about a 12-minute dark opus entitled The Mansions of Night to conclude the album? Featuring hints of Doom Metal, this is a powerful and complex composition that switches from slower but brutally heavy passages to extremely fast riffs and beats, culminating in a spot-on Stygian ending. I’m not sure how Orth can keep that level of ferocity on vocals for such a long period of time, but the final result is amazing anyway.

In summary, To Empyrean Thrones sounds so professional and impactful it’s hard to believe only one single person was responsible for giving birth to such a strong album. Well, that’s the reason why Black Metal never gets stale, thanks to the passion skillful musicians like Orth have for this type of music, and I can’t wait to listen to his future endeavors if he continues following this hellish path.  Thus, in case you want to join him in his shadowy journey to empyrean thrones, all you have to do is connect to Primeval Mass through the band’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud or ReverbNation, and get your copy of the album at the Primeval Mass’ official BandCamp page.

Best moments of the album: For Astral Triumphs, Their Eyes of the Abyss and With the Emblem of the Blackwinged.

Worst moments of the album: The Grand Ordeal.

Released in 2016 Katoptron IX Records

Track listing
1. In Fiery Ascent 9:55
2. For Astral Triumphs 7:29
3. Their Eyes of the Abyss 4:04
4. Behind the Watching Shadows 4:45
5. With the Emblem of the Blackwinged 7:02
6. The Grand Ordeal 4:05
7. Hour of the Stellarnaut 2:56
8. The Mansions of Night 12:06

Band members
Orth – vocals, lead & rhythm guitars, bass, storms and invocations

Album Review – Diablery / Architect (2014)

An Avant-garde Black Metal album full of dark and complex compositions, highly recommended for all fans of heavy music.

Rating4

cover _ copy 2If Black Metal itself is a genre that depends a lot on a strong atmosphere to succeed, that’s even more important for Symphonic Black Metal bands such as the very professional and technical independent band Diablery, who seem to master the art of creating dense atmospheric songs based on what you will find on their excellent debut album, entitled Architect. Are you a fan of heavy synths, desperate vocals and totally evil lyrics? If the answer is yes, this album is definitely what you’re seeking to feed your dark soul.

The music by this obscure band from Athens, Greece, which by the way is the country of many awesome bands like Rotting Christ, Firewind and Septicflesh, doesn’t have a single moment of simplicity or nonsense noises: all elements found in Architect, which was mixed and mastered at Toproom Studio in Norway by Børge Finstad (who has already worked with Mayhem, Enslaved, Borknagar, Theatre of Tragedy, among others), are perfectly connected by pleasant and deep melodies, and of course, an incredible somber feeling that is present throughout the whole album. Furthermore, nothing would have been possible without the above average skills of all band members, with highlights to the amazing synths and drums by Nazfell and Beleth, respectively.

Architect kicks off with Mysteria Aeterna, an eerie piano intro which prepares the listener for all the darkness to come, which indeed happens as soon as Architect of Manifestations starts: this is a very symphonic and melodic song, but at the same time 100% brutal, that I’m pretty sure most fans of Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal band Dimmu Borgir will enjoy. The same can be said about Embraced by the Theurgist, where you can feel the intensity in Diablery’s music and appreciate the excellent job done by Nazfell on synths, who adds many different layers to the song. Pay attention to it and you’ll notice this song presents so many variations it sounds like three or more songs in one.

band_photo_2Vanity of Darkness, one of the best songs of the whole album, has an intro that could easily be used as a movie score, followed by a powerful sonority and the awesome vocals full of despair by the talented singer and guitarist Setesh, while Magistris Inferiores is a shorter and more boisterous track that sounds a lot like some of the old songs by Dimmu Borgir. In addition, I must say Beleth is a beast on drums, and the keyboards at the end are very interesting and a good bridge for the next song, the superb Thus Made Perfect. The longest track of the album is a violent Black Metal tempest so professionally and beautifully done you won’t even remember we’re talking about an independent band, and when it’s over I’m sure you’ll play it again and again. One might ask if this song is part of a movie soundtrack, so mighty and complex it is.

The last part of the album begins with another good song called Seal Thy Mouths with Pillars of Azurite (I truly love how Black Metal bands name most of their songs), with its melancholic intro and an intense atmosphere, followed by the excellent mix of heavy riffs, strong synths and pounding drums found in Ichor Shrine Synagogue, and the more direct Black Metal from Blackness Enshrouds This Congregation, a very interesting song full of violent vocals and energetic drums. And finally, close your eyes and enjoy the “journey” through darkness offered by the band with the outro Horn of Amentet, one of the most interesting I’ve ever listened to. And I’m not even going to say much about the excellent album art: it emanates obscurity and malignancy, exactly like the music by Diablery does.

To sum up, Architect is not just one more Black Metal album, but a truly avant-garde collection of dark compositions where the main goal is to provide all fans of Heavy Metal, especially the more contemporary black metallers, a very creative and evil experience in heavy music. And if you really enjoyed the music by Diablery, you can support the band by purchasing Architect in digital format at their BandCamp official page, or a physical CD copy at their CreateSpace online merchstore.

Best moments of the album: Architect of Manifestations, Vanity of Darkness and Thus Made Perfect.

Worst moments of the album: Seal Thy Mouths with Pillars of Azurite.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Mysteria Aeterna (Intro) 1:47
2. Architect of Manifestations 6:05
3. Embraced by the Theurgist 6:28
4. Vanity of Darkness 6:37
5. Magistris Inferiores 4:17
6. Thus Made Perfect 9:31
7. Seal Thy Mouths with Pillars of Azurite 6:08
8. Ichor Shrine Synagogue 5:08
9. Blackness Enshrouds This Congregation 4:59
10. Horn of Amentet (Outro) 7:25

Band members
Setesh – vocals, guitar
Nimerius – guitar
Nazfell – synths
Desaster – bass
Beleth – drums