Album Review – Illimitable Dolor / Leaden Light (2019)

Drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, the new album by this Australian-based unity is an ambitious ode to all things doom.

New South Wales, Australia-based Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal masters Illimitable Dolor return from the darkest corners of the earth after the release of their highly acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2017 with a brand new opus, entitled Leaden Light, carrying on where they last left, drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, sounding purer, more refined and clearer in expression than before, and lingering for long in your thoughts. With three artworks made by Indonesian artist Varises Otak for the CD, LP and box set editions exclusively (with layout and design by Australian graphic designer Pat Di Palo), this is an ambitious release from the band that features some of the best music in the style without overdoing any aspect of it.

Formed in 2014 in the city of Sydney, the band comprised of Stuart Prickett (The Slow Death, Horrisonous) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Yonn McLaughlin (The Slow Death, Nazxul) on drums and vocals, Dan Garcia (The Slow Death) and Mat V. Newton (Lycanthia) on the guitars, Gavin Collison on bass and Guy Moore (Elysium) on keyboards offers in Leaden Light a raw and obscure fusion of Atmospheric Doom and Death Metal with Funeral Doom, influenced by renowned acts such as Skepticism, My Dying Bride and Officium Triste, beign therefore recommended for admirers of the music by Mournful Congregation, Evoken, The Slow Death and Chalice of Suffering, among others. Containing five extremely detailed, mournful and lengthy songs in the span of over 51 minutes, Leaden Light is not an easy listen for the lighthearted, consuming your soul and inviting you to join the band in darkness for all eternity.

A thunderstorm warns the listener darkness is upon us, before Yonn and his sluggish beats together with Guy’s phantasmagorical keys invade our senses in Armed He Brings The Dawn, showcasing a dense and heavy atmosphere from start to finish while Stuart vociferates the song’s Stygian words deeply through his low-tuned, devilish gnarls. In addition, the music flows like a river of darkness, alternating between purely somber passages and more piercing sounds, embracing the listener majestically. Soil She Bears is just as damned, lugubrious and grim as its predecessor, with deep and visceral roars permeating the air while the keys by Guy keep the ambience truly menacing. Not only that, Gavin and Yonn bring heaviness to the musicality with their respective punches and beats, dragging you to the bitterly cold crypts of the underworld.

Horses Pale And Four continues form where the previous song ended, building momentum and aiming at reaching a climatic stage where all instruments are darkly connected, with Stuart’s growls and the band’s guitar triumvirate’s riffs complementing each other flawlessly. Put differently, this is a bold and enfolding display of Atmospheric Doom Metal spiced up by Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Doom nuances tailored for lovers of the genre. Then the serene, melancholic piano notes by Guy kick off the utterly doomed and depressive Leaden Light Her Coils, where the guitars by Stuart, Dan and Mat feel like a delicate but extremely sharp knife cutting our skin deep. Furthermore, its rhythm is beyond mesmerizing, and you’ll certainly be stunned by how grandiose their music can be, with Guy, Gavin and Yonn giving a lecture in Doom Metal with their slow, steady and reverberating tones. And last but not least, the sextet morphs into their most Atmospheric Black Metal mode possible in 2.12.14 (which is probably the date when the band was created), feeling very touching, ethereal and melancholic, with Stuart, Dan and Mat taking the lead with their gentle guitar lines, followed by Yonn’s precise beats and all other grim instruments and sounds until the song’s dense ending.

As already mentioned, Leaden Light, available in full on Spotify, might not be an easy listen at first for the average rock fan, but it’s definitely worth a shot and a fantastic introduction to the world of modern-day Atmospheric Death and Doom Metal. Hence, you can show your true support to such idiosyncratic entity hailing from Australia by following them on Facebook, and specially by grabbing your copy of Leaden Light from several locations like their own BandCamp page or the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in the US or in Europe (where by the way you can still purchase the beyond special gold CD or LP box sets), as well as from iTunes or Amazon. In other words, succumb to the most lugubrious side of music by joining Illimitable Dolor in pitch black darkness, and may your life be doomed forever and ever to the sound of their classy and extremely somber music.

Best moments of the album: Horses Pale And Four and Leaden Light Her Coils.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Armed He Brings The Dawn 14:50
2. Soil She Bears 7:18
3. Horses Pale And Four 11:27
4. Leaden Light Her Coils 13:48
5. 2.12.14 4:27

Band members
Stuart Prickett – guitars, vocals, keyboards
Dan Garcia – guitars
Mat V. Newton – guitars
Gavin Collison – bass
Guy Moore – keyboards
Yonn McLaughlin – drums

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Album Review – Vessel of Iniquity / Void of Infinite Horror (2019)

Get ready for total annihilation, disembodiment and the disintegration of reality and existence in the form of a horrific strain of noise-infested black and death decimation.

Ritual black and death invocation. Terror noise-metal aimed at disintegrating one’s being and entire existence through the sheer force of hell in audial form. These are some of the words that can be used to describe the visceral music found in Void of Infinite Horror, the first full-length opus by British Black/Death Metal one-man sonic extermination entity Vessel of Iniquity. Formed in 2015 in Oxfordshire, a county in South East England, in the UK, Vessel of Iniquity is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist A. White, a talented musician who definitely knows  how to transform austere topics such as annihilation, disembodiment and the disintegration of reality and existence into a horrific strain of noise-infested black and death decimation.

Once again crafted and home-recorded in total seclusion, mastered by James Plotkin (Plotkinworks) and featuring layout and design by M. Alagna, Void of Infinite Horror offers the listener five unrelenting tracks of extreme music, sounding claustrophobic, abominable and twisted, all enfolded by a minimalist and dark cover painting by American artist Ellen Hausner named “Untitled (Monoprint series 1A)”. If you’re a fan of the massacring industrial noise scarification by entities like Gnaw Their Tongues, Sutekh Hexen and Abruptum, as well as the grandiose and bludgeoning sonic warfare of bands like Teitanblood and Impetuous Ritual, you’ll have a blast with Void of Infinite Horror, positioning this insanely heavy and wicked one-man army of darkness as one of the most promising names in the the vast but yet unexplored land of what can be labeled as “Terror Noise Metal”.

And the opening track of the album, beautifully entitled Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent, is already the perfect depiction of that so-called Terror Noise Metal, offering our ears a disruptive, eccentric and dissident avalanche of sounds and noises by A. White, with its drums sounding like a machine gun perforating our skulls mercilessly. Babalon is even darker and more menacing, presenting low-tuned sounds and deep, obscure roars that feel more like whispers, resulting in a modern-day Blackened Doom feast tailored for fans of devilish music. Hence, this track could easily be used as part of a horror movie score due to its strength, range and potential to instill fear in our hearts.

A. White’s demented onrush of sounds and noises goes on in Void of Infinite Sorrow, blending the most Stygian elements from Black and Doom Metal in its sluggish beats, thunderous riffs and bass, and malevolent rhythm, also presenting a menacing aura that ends up boosting its impact even more. If you think A. White and his Vessel of Iniquity will have to slow down at a given point to let us breathe you’re absolutely wrong, as his hurricane of dementia only gets stronger and darker as the music flows in Mother of Abomination, being utterly insane from start to finish, before the music switches from total chaos to an atmospheric and ethereal vibe in Once More Into the Abyss, where A. White delivers to our perturbed minds an endless amount of hypnotizing and damned sounds. Furthermore, I’m not sure if this can be called Atmospheric Black Metal, Drone, Noise, none of these, or even all at once, proving how unique and vile Vessel of Iniquity’s music can be.

If I had to summarize the music found in Void of Infinite Horror in one word, that would certainly be “chaos”, and if chaotic music is exactly what you crave in underground metal you must give Vessel of Iniquity a chance and support such distinct one-man act by following him on Facebook, and obviously by purchasing your copy of the album from the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp, from the Xenoglossy Productions’ BandCamp (in a fancy, old school cassette format), from CD Baby or from Discogs. No one knows exactly what lies ahead for A. White and his Vessel of Iniquity, as it’s not an easy task to predict what type of madness and experimentation musicians like him might add to their compositions, but at least we can rest assured that, as long as this cryptic metal entity is alive, chaos will reign.

Best moments of the album: Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent and Babalon.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Xenoglossy Productions

Track listing
1. Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent 3:50
2. Babalon 4:26
3. Void of Infinite Sorrow 4:59
4. Mother of Abomination 4:55
5. Once More Into the Abyss 6:07

Band members
A. White – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Der Rote Milan / Moritat (2019)

Enjoy these German tales from the past connected to the present through themes of freedom, fear and fighting oneself in the face of death, all embraced by first-class Black Metal.

I, II, III, IV and V. More than just Roman numerals, those represent the five pillars of a German Black Metal unity known as Der Rote Milan, who are beyond ready to keep haunting  our souls with their second full-length opus, entitled Moritat, the follow-up to and a logical progression from their 2016 debut album Aus der Asche. Not only that, their new album can also be considered a concept release, as Moritat tells local stories based on real events during a thirty-year war that took place during the 17th century, with its central character being the historical figure Schinderhannes, an outlaw considered by some to be the “German Robin Hood”.  These stories, which take place in the southwestern Germany’s Hunsrück region, are connected to the present through themes of freedom, fear and fighting oneself in the face of death.

Forged in 2015 in the fires of Trier, a southwestern German city in the Moselle wine region lying in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg, Der Rote Milan (which would translate to English as “the red kite”) continue to play Melodic Black Metal in Moritat, finding their identity in a combination of vicious blast beats, catchy melodies, and calm, thoughtful moments. The lyrics are performed in German to underscore the local character of the stories, giving the whole experience of listening to their music an extra touch of aggressiveness, obscurity and pure evil. Comprised of six very detailed and bold songs, Moritat surpasses the 40-minute barrier in great fashion, positioning this cryptic entity as one of the most promising new names of the underground German scene.

Gentle notes gradually morph into a brutal but very melodic devastation entitled Die Habsucht (or “the greed” in English), where IV begins fulminating everything and everyone with his demonic beats while lead singer III fires some absolutely enraged roars, with the music flowing majestically until a somber and atmospheric break takes over, powerfully getting back to an infernal Black Metal ending. Then it’s time for I and II to pulverize our ears with their scorching riffs in Drohende Schatten (“threatening shadows”), a lesson in Melodic Black Metal by this Teutonic horde, sounding even more demented and violent than the opening track, whereas Gnosis der Vergänglichkeit (“gnosis of transience”) is an ode to all things dark and mournful with a melancholic Atmospheric Black Metal-inspired intro where III’s otherworldly growls and vociferations sound utterly anguished and grim, while V keeps the ambience menacing with his low-tuned bass.

And that intricate and lugubrious vibe keeps haunting our souls in Der letzte Galgen (“the last gallows”), where III growls demonically while his bandmates extract the most vicious and piercing sounds possible from their instruments, with IV once again stealing the spotlight with his precision and technique, getting almost tribal with his beats at times (which in the end enhances the song’s taste and punch even more). There’s no time to breathe with more of their vibrant fusion of classic Black Metal with distinct melodic and atmospheric styles in Der Findling (“the boulder”), reaching deep inside our hearts and blackening them beautifully, with I, II and V being in a fantastic and extremely evil sync with their strings, before the title-track Moritat (“ballad”) brings to our metallic ears 12 minutes of visceral sounds and noises, with the amount of aggression and obscurity flowing from each instrument being truly outstanding. Not only that, IV keeps demolishing his drums in a very precise and melodic way, while the guitars sound and feel extremely sharp, therefore cutting our skins mercilessly, with the music remaining epic until the song’s triumphant and dark finale.

In case these simple, straightforward words are not enough to show you how potent and somber the music by those German metallers sounds and feels, you can take a more detailed listen at Moritat in its entirety on YouTube, and of course after getting stunned by their disturbing sonic waves you must check what Der Rote Milan are up to on Facebook, and purchase Moritat from their own BandCamp page, from the Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel, from iTunes or from Amazon. In a nutshell, the gates to the underworld of German Black Metal are open, and Der Rote Milan are right there waiting to claim your soul to the sound of their brand new, pulverizing concept album of first-class Melodic Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Drohende Schatten and Moritat.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork

Track listing
1. Die Habsucht 6:10
2. Drohende Schatten 3:26
3. Gnosis der Vergänglichkeit 7:42
4. Der letzte Galgen 7:21
5. Der Findling 4:16
6. Moritat 12:01

Band members
III – vocals
I – guitars
II – guitars
V – bass
IV – drums

Album Review – Dødsfall / Døden Skal Ikke Vente (2019)

An unstoppable Black Metal force from Norway returns with their long-awaited fifth album, containing 10 new unrelenting tracks of pure hate and anger.

After four years of silence, the unstoppable Norwegian Black Metal force known as Dødsfall returns with their long-awaited fifth album, entitled Døden Skal Ikke Vente, or “death shall not wait” from Norwegian, containing 10 new tracks of pure hate and anger in its best form. And their new album is the result of a huge wave of inspiration that grew up like a snowball after the release of Kaosmakt, in early 2015, resulting in a fresh and creative album holding on to their roots and the sound that was established from the very beginning on the band’s career. It can be described as a successful combination of past and present with new elements and different sources of inspiration, sounding epic, majestic and furious with a medieval touch inspired from the cold lands of the north.

Formed in 2009 in Bergen, Norway, but currently located between Gothenburg, Sweden and Oslo, Norway, Dødsfall is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ishtar, who together with newcomer Telal on drums (who has been playing with acts like Troll, Isvind, and Endezzma, to name a few) created a sulfurous and dark beast in the form of their new album Døden Skal Ikke Vente. Featuring a crushing, ominous album artwork by underground artist Pazuzuh, who previously worked with the band on the artwork of their album Djevelens Evangelie, from 2013, Døden Skal Ikke Vente will take you on a journey through vast, bitterly cold Norwegian lands, proving once again why Norway is and will always be the birthplace and home of true Black Metal.

Ishatr and Telal begin disturbing all peace and order with their ruthless blend of old school and contemporary Black Metal in Hemlig Vrede (or “secret wrath” in English), sounding very melodic and aggressive form the very first second and with Ishtar’s demonic gnarls being flawlessly complemented by Telal’s brutish blast beats. Their furious and thunderous Black Metal keeps hammering our heads in Tåkefjell (“fog mountain”), another piercing composition where the guitars by Ishtar sound as metallic as they can be, also presenting lots of breaks and variations, and consequently feeling like three or four songs in one; followed by the obscure and melancholic Svarta Drömmar (“black dreams”), where their Black Metal is darkly infused with Atmospheric Black Metal elements, with its rhythm being dictated by Telal’s precise drums and with highlights to Ishtar’s anguished growls.

Putting the pedal to the metal this infernal duo delivers a vicious onrush of violent and raw sounds entitled Grå Himlar (“gray skies”), with the riffs and solos by Ishtar cutting our skin mercilessly, and therefore setting the bar high for the rest of the album. Well, the duo doesn’t disappoint at all in the following track, Kampsalmer (“battle hymns”), a headbanging, marching chant showcasing bestial riffs and demonic roars all enfolded by a truly menacing ambience, and the music remains vile and sulfurous until its epic ending. Then led by the pounding drums by Telal and displaying an inspired Ishatr on the guitar we have the full-bodied, intricate tune entitled I de Dødens Øyne  (“in the eyes of death”), a song tailored for admirers of classic Black Metal who also love to raise their horns and slam into the pit in the name of extreme music.

Continuing with their feast of incendiary and dark sounds they offer us all Ødemarkens Mørkedal (“the dark valley of the wilderness”), an ode to Scandinavian Black Metal where Ishtar growls and roars in a bestial way while Telal keeps crushing his drums nonstop, whereas the heavy-as-hell guitar lines by Ishtar ignite the flammable För Alltid I Min Sjæl (“forever in my soul”), a mid-tempo Black Metal extravaganza where Ishtar and Telal are on fire from start to finish, sounding as infernal and sharp as possible. The last song of the album, named Ondskapelse (“evil hands”), brings more of their hellish Scandinavian Black Metal infused with Melodic Black Metal nuances, with Telal smashing his drums just the way we love it in Extreme Metal, flowing like rapid fire until the instrumental outro Skogstrollet (“forest troll”) captivates our senses with the howling sound of the cold wind, ending the album on an ethereal note.

You can better explore the chilly and vile realm of Norwegian Black Metal crafted by Dødsfall by following them on Facebook, and show your support to such talented duo by purchasing Døden Skal Ikke Vente (available for a full listen on YouTube, by the way) from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Osmose Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, and from Record Shop X. Let all the frost, hatred and evil flowing from the music found in Døden Skal Ikke Vente embrace you, leading you on a fantastic and somber one-way journey into the absolute darkness and void we learned to love in Norwegian Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Tåkefjell, Grå Himlar and I de Dødens Øyne.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Osmose Productions

Track listing
1. Hemlig Vrede 4:30
2. Tåkefjell 4:54
3. Svarta Drömmar 5:29
4. Grå Himlar 4:29
5. Kampsalmer 4:50
6. I de Dødens Øyne 5:37
7. Ødemarkens Mørkedal 5:25
8. För Alltid I Min Sjæl 4:32
9. Ondskapelse 5:04
10. Skogstrollet (Instrumental) 1:04

Band members
Ishtar – vocals, guitars, bass
Telal – drums

Album Review – Barshasketh / Barshasketh (2019)

Dive deep into the pit of corruption crafted by an evil entity of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal to the sound of their highly anticipated fourth full-length opus.

Forged in the scorching fires of Wellington, New Zealand in 2007 as a solo project by KG (also known as Krigeist) with the intention of creating pure Black Metal, but currently located in Edinburgh, Scotland, the obscure and devilish entity known as Barshasketh is unleashing upon humanity their highly anticipated fourth album, simply self-titled Barshasketh, conceptually centered on Be’er Shachat, from which the band’s name derives. This term roughly translates as “pit of corruption”, a multifaceted esoteric idea concerning the self existing in a cyclical process that goes through phases of destruction, purification, and ultimate adversarial rebirth. Indeed, that conceptual arc poignantly and perfectly illustrates Barshasketh’s evolution over the years, and finds its apotheosis within the winding corridors of Barshasketh.

During its uniquely vast-yet-compact 54-minute run-time, the quartet comprised of KG on vocals, guitars and synths, GM on the guitars, BB on bass and MK on drums, vocals and synths is truly firing on all cylinders, exploring new territory with ambitious compositions and showcasing a certain percussive savagery previously unheard on previous recordings, all within the remit of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal. Featuring a menacing cover art and additional illustrations by Artem Grigoryev (Black Typography), Barshasketh’s brand new opus is the purest distillation of the band’s essence to date, pointing to a dark and vile future for mankind as a black sun rises at the dawn of 2019.

A somber and menacing atmosphere enfolds the band in the opening track Vacillation, a highly recommended song for admirers of the most obscure fusion of classic Black Metal with Atmospheric and Melodic Black Metal where KG gnarls demonically from the very first note while MK showcases all his skills as the excellent extreme drummer he is, followed by the also grim Resolve, continuing from where the previous tune ended (which obviously means an ode to darkness). Furthermore, KG and GM are in total sync with their scorching riffs, while BB and MK generate a dense background atmosphere with their devilish instruments. Then drinking from the fountain of old school Norwegian Black Metal we have Consciousness I, another visceral creation by the band spearheaded by MK and his unstoppable blast beats, with KG roaring and growling like a true creature form the netherworld, not to mention how the background keys also boost the song’s taste and impact considerably, whereas Consciousness II brings to our avid ears over eight minutes of damned sounds and tones, starting in a cryptic manner before exploding into classic Black Metal for our total delight. The stringed trio KG, GM and BB simply slash our senses with their axes, with the music also presenting some disturbing Blackened Doom-inspired passages.

Ruin I sounds and feels brutal and piercing form the very first second, a lecture in Black Metal not for the lighthearted with all band member extracting pure evil from their instruments, in special MK and his demolishing drums, while the second act entitled Ruin II sounds a lot more melodic and obscure, crushing our senses in over seven minutes of putrid Black Metal spearheaded by KG’s infernal growls and MK’s visceral beats, all enfolded by the hellish riffs by KG and GM and flowing majestically until its grand finale. The second to last blast of extreme music by Barshasketh, named Rebirth, is just as demonic as its predecessors, with all instruments exhaling demonic notes, especially KG and GM who penetrate deep inside our damned souls with their guitar lines, setting the tone for the closing song Recrudescense, a tribute to all things evil where the smell of death and despair reeks in the air for over nine minutes, with KG leading his horde of darkness with his visceral growls. Moreover, it’s truly impressive how the music gets more intense and vile as time goes by, with all violence and hatred giving place to a phantasmagorical ending that will haunt our souls forever and ever.

Actually, you don’t need all the detailed review and explanation above to purchase your copy of Barshasketh from the W.T.C.Productions BandCamp. All you need to know is that it’s vile, macabre and thunderous, just the way we all love in true Black Metal. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, therefore showing your true support to underground extreme music, and finally succumb to the darkest side of Black Metal to the sound of their infernal but at the same time very melodic and dense new album, diving deep into their “pit of corruption”. However, I must warn you that once you join Barshasketh down there, there’s no turning back (as if you would want to return from such distinct place, I might say).

Best moments of the album: Vacillation, Consciousness I and Recrudescense.

Worst moments of the album: Rebirth.

Released in 2019 W.T.C.Productions

Track listing
1. Vacillation 5:29
2. Resolve 5:10
3. Consciousness I 6:24
4. Consciousness II 7:53
5. Ruin I 4:47
6. Ruin II 7:26
7. Rebirth 6:30
8. Recrudescense 9:31

Band members
KG – vocals, guitars, synths
GM – guitars
BB – bass
MK – drums, vocals, synths

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018

“Chasing a dream as I go higher
Playing it mean, my heart’s on fire
Living my life, ain’t no pretender
Ready to fight with no surrender.” – No Surrender, by Judas Priest

Another year goes by and, as usual, we lost a lot of good people, including family and friends. In heavy music, 2018 was the year several amazing musicians passed away, such as Dave Holland (former drummer of Judas Priest), Ralph Santolla (former guitarist of Iced Earth, Deicide, Death and Obituary), Vinnie Paul (the talented drummer of Hellyeah, Pantera and Damageplan), Jill Janus (the stunning vocalist of Huntress), and “Fast” Eddie Clarke, one of the meanest guitarists in history and the last of Motörhead’s “Three Amigos”, signaling the definitive end of Motörhead’s classic lineup. Not only that, we also saw the one and only Glenn Tipton, the iconic lead guitarist for Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest and one of the most influential guitar players in the history of metal, opening up about his ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and, as a consequence, having to pull out of the 2018 tour due to his health issues. However, as the Metal Gods themselves sing in their new ass-kicking song No Surrender, we can’t surrender and should keep on fighting with our heads high, always listening to our good old Heavy Metal to inspire us to face our daily struggles.

Enough said already, how about we show the world that we metalheads are still here, always ready for a fight, and that metal music is alive and kicking with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums? From classic bands like Judas Priest, Behemoth and Immortal, to underground bands from all four corners of the earth like Ukraine’s 1914, Australia’s Rise of Avernus and Canada’s Altars of Grief, we can say that 2018 was a damn good year for our beloved Heavy Metal, pointing to a promising future for all its genres and subgenres and proving once again that metal unites us all it doesn’t matter where we live, our culture, language, race or religion. So, get ready to raise your horns and bang your heads nonstop to our selection of best metal albums of the year, and always remember… NO SURRENDER!

1. Judas Priest – Firepower (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Firepower

2. Blaze Bayley – The Redemption of William Black (REVIEW)
What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Enjoy the dramatic conclusion to Blaze’s stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.
Best song of the album: The Dark Side of Black

3. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (REVIEW)
Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before.
Best song of the album: Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica

4. Dragonlord – Dominion (REVIEW)
Exploring themes of darkness, here comes Eric Peterson’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.
Best song of the album: Northlanders

5. Primal Fear – Apocalypse (REVIEW)
The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity and melody.
Best song of the album: The Ritual

6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (REVIEW)
The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Mighty Ravendark

7. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind (REVIEW)
It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these Ukrainian Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen.
Best song of the album: Passchenhell

8. Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau (REVIEW)
Here come Australia’s own Rise of Avernus with their most symphonic, heaviest and darkest opus thus far.
Best song of the album: Eigenlicht

9. Altars of Grief – Iris (REVIEW)
A superb album of Canadian Blackened Doom narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.
Best song of the album: Broken Hymns

10. Marduk – Viktoria (REVIEW)
A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound.
Best song of the album: Viktoria

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory (REVIEW)
12. Motorjesus – Race to Resurrection (REVIEW)
13. Borgne – [∞] (REVIEW)
14. SynlakrosS – Malice Murder (REVIEW)
15. Xenoblight – Procreation (REVIEW)
16. Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (REVIEW)
17. Tamerlan Empire – Age of Ascendancy (REVIEW)
18. Coiled Around Thy Spine – Shades (REVIEW)
19. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura (REVIEW)
20. NovaReign – Legends (REVIEW)

In addition, how about another round of awesome albums released this year, this time presenting to you our Top 10 EP’s of 2018? Those shorter-than-a-regular-album but still heavier-than-hell releases are like going to a fancy restaurant, where you might not get a humongous amount of food, but what’s served on your plate is more than enough to please your palate (or your ears, in this case). And, of course, you leave the place eager for more of that tasty and exquisite metal music.

1. Violent Life Violent Death – Come, Heavy Breath (REVIEW)
2. Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad (REVIEW)
3. Godless – Swarm (REVIEW)
4. The Black Swamp – Witches (REVIEW)
5. Progenie Terrestre Pura – starCross (REVIEW)
6. Lebowskii – Liquidators (REVIEW)
7. Geisterwald – Geisterwald (REVIEW)
8. Soul Dissolution – Nowhere (REVIEW)
9. Dark Archive – Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon (REVIEW)
10. Forte Ruin – Rebuilding the Machinery (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2018? Once again don’t forget to check Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Editorial Staff), tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a sensational fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of the underground and independent metal scene!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2019!

And last but not least, if you want to support Glenn Tipton and everyone else on their personal battles against Parkinson’s, you can purchase the official Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation Charity T-shirt by clicking HERE or make a direct donation following the instructions found HERE. You can always help your family, friends and fellow metalheads, as simple as that, and who knows, maybe we can make this world a better place to live.

Album Review – All My Sins / Pra Sila – Vukov Totem (2018)

Immerse yourself into a work of windswept mysticism and pure pagan fury dedicated to the most important and powerful totem in the culture of southern Slavs.

Originating from the southern regions of Europe, Serbian Black Metal duo All My Sins was officially formed by multi-instrumentalists Nav Cosmos and V in the year of 2000 in the city of Pančevo around the idea of claiming their own place among the already-established Second Wave of Black Metal. Inspired by the spiritual heritage of the land they come from, the band started making records, each of them conceptually placed around certain mythological symbols such as their brand new opus entitled Pra Sila – Vukov Totem, which would be roughly translated to English as “The Primordial Force of the Wolf’s Totem”, a work of windswept mysticism and pure pagan fury dedicated to the most important and powerful totem in the culture of southern Slavs, the wolf.

Featuring a somber cover art by Romanian musician and artist Daniel Dorobantu (Thy Veils) and guest musicians Nemir, Khargash and Jaguar (from underground Serbian bands like Obscured and Terrörhammer), All My Sins’ newborn eight-track album portrays the wolf as the ancient ancestor of Serbian people, a creature with unusual attributes that is believed to possess obscure divine powers, narrating a vast spiritual journey throughout the realms of southern Slavic mysticism. The meeting of man and wolf, mystically dangerous yet magnificent at the same time, depicts the encounter with a demonic being and concurrently the moment when a man meets his native forefather. In the world of wilderness abandoned by man, contradictory and strong, the wolf represents everything we are not, unknown and terrifying, or the perfection of a stranger.

In the opening track Vukov Totem, or “Totem of the Wolf”, a demented blast of visceral Black Metal invades our ears mercilessly, with V pulverizing his strings with his violent shredding while Nemir shakes the foundations of the earth with his blast beats before a cosmic break turns the sonic devastation into a more progressive and atmospheric extravaganza. Their incendiary feast of Slavic Black Metal goes on in Zov iz Magle, or “A Call from the Mist”, where Nav Cosmos roars and gnarls powerfully from the bottom of his blackened heart, with the entire song feeling very dense, enfolding and also bringing some deep, phantasmagorical clean vocals, while its instrumental parts remind me of old school Norwegian Black Metal; followed by Vetrovo Kolo, or “The Wheel of the Wind”, another brutal explosion of extreme sounds by All My Sins where Nemir sounds even more enraged and bestial on drums, while Nav Cosmos vociferates manically. Furthermore, the song’s razor-edged guitar riffs will violently pierce your mind and soul, leaving you completely disoriented after all is said and done. And U Mlazevima Krvi, or “In the Streams of Blood”, brings forward devastation, rage, madness and top-notch Pagan Black Metal to our ears. What else can you ask for, right? Moreover, Nav Cosmos’ deranged growls in his mother tongue end up adding an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality, just like what happens in the whole album.

Then it’s time to get smashed into the circle pit to the fulminating Opsena, or “The Phantasm”, showcasing almost eight minutes of crushing Black Metal with Atmospheric Black Metal nuances while V continues to brutalize his strings powerfully, with the music morphing into a completely new sonority after a cryptic, somber passage, feeling a lot more melodic and introspective. In the bridge Mesecu u Oko, or “Towards the Moon’s Eye”, wicked, Stygian noises are spiced up by Nav Cosmo’s anguished gnarls, flowing into over 10 minutes of a beyond atmospheric display of contemporary Black Metal named Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Prvi), or “The Final Equinox (Act I)”, sounding epic and bold from start to finish, with Nemir delivering sheer darkness through his crisp drumming, until melancholy permeates the air in Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi), or “The Final Equinox (Act II)”, featuring guest Khargash on bass and backing vocals. This is a fantastic Atmospheric Black Metal chant infused with hints of Doom Metal, remaining as sluggish and grim as it can be and, therefore, putting a pensive ending to such demolishing album of Pagan Black Metal.

Brewing since the ancient days, Pra Sila – Vukov Totem (available for a full listen on YouTube) is now being released into the modern era with a timelessness that’s exciting to behold, and you can savor that first-class fusion of Black Metal and the Slavic culture by purchasing the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Saturnal Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Amazon, or from Discogs. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on VKontakte, and immerse yourself into a sensational world of South Slavic Black Metal mysticism crafted by this talented and undisputed Serbian duo.

Best moments of the album: Vukov Totem, Vetrovo Kolo and U Mlazevima Krvi.

Worst moments of the album: Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi).

Released in 2018 Saturnal Records

Track listing
1. Vukov Totem 9:43
2. Zov iz Magle 7:56
3. Vetrovo Kolo 6:25
4. U Mlazevima Krvi 3:52
5. Opsena 7:57
6. Mesecu u Oko 1:19
7. Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Prvi) 10:25
8. Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi) 8:10

Band members
Nav Cosmos – vocals, recitals, bass
V – guitars, bass, clean and backing vocals, recitals, keys, vrg

Guest musicians
Nemir – drums (session)
Khargash – bass, backing vocals on “Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi)”
Jaguar – backing vocals on “U Mlazevima Krvi”

Album Review – Khandra / There Is No Division Outside Existence EP (2018)

Progressing in their own unique interpretation of desolation, this cryptic Atmospheric Black Metal entity from Belarus are unleashing upon humanity their second revelation.

Hailing from the Belarusian capital Minsk, Khandra (or Хандра), the Russian word for “melancholy”, are an Atmospheric Black Metal duo comprised of vocalist LDZMR (Vladimir Borodulin) and multi-instrumentalist DMTR (Dmitry Romanovsky) who sparked a bit of interest with their 2017 debut two-song EP All Is of No Avail. Progressing in their own unique interpretation of desolation, those two cryptic entities holed themselves up in the winter of 2018 to invoke and expel their second revelation, a somber and malevolent four-track EP entitled There is No Division Outside Existence, and they had a few interesting comments about their newborn spawn. “The concept of the project is the flaw and inability of consciousness to reflect the boundlessness of the nothingness in the frames of reality that (reality) only exists within and in the sanity. It is a sort of an attempt of exceeding the limits of imagination, which makes the lyrics unavailable for criticism from the point of view of logical thinking. The musical vessel here is a result of expression that has no bonds with any personal emotion of social nature.”

Ominous sounds rising from the pits of hell ignite the atmospheric and menacing intro titled Into the Absolute Nothingness, before demonic, austere waves invades our ears in Decaying into the Ascended, where Dmitry shows no mercy for his stringed weapons, delivering cutting riffs and thunderous bass lines while Vladimir gnarls like a true creature from the underworld. Put differently, it’s a very melodic and electrifying hybrid of old school Black Metal with contemporary Atmospheric Black Metal, with its hellish blast beats adding an extra touch of aggressiveness to the overall musicality, ending in a tribal and visceral way. And the duo continues to fire their Stygian sounds and vociferations in the title-track There is No Division Outside Existence, another infernal creation where the crisp and metallic sounds of the guitar together with the rumbling bass roars create the perfect atmosphere for Vladimir to growl and bark rabidly. And lastly we have Progressing in Desolation, offering the listener almost nine minutes of the darkest form of Atmospheric Black Metal you can think of, spiced up with Doom Metal nuances and the creepy, harsh vocalizations by Vladimir. Moreover, Dmitry is truly infernal with his phantasmagorical guitar, not to mention how well they move from an enraged sonic havoc to more harmonious and mesmerizing lines and then back, with the music remaining dense and strident until its lugubrious grand finale and, therefore, being highly recommended for lovers of the darkest side of metal.

In a nutshell, Khandra are more than just your regular metal band, and There Is No Division Outside Existence, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and on sales from their own BandCamp, from the Redefining Darkness Records’ BandCamp, from the Possession Productions’ BandCamp, from iTunes or from Amazon, is the ultimate representation of what the duo is capable of and how deep they can crawl inside your mind. Because, in the end, Khandra are a musical manifestation that can only be illuminated through experience, and all you have to do is listen and absorb.

Best moments of the album: Decaying into the Ascended.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Redefining Darkness Records

Track listing    
1. Into the Absolute Nothingness 3:27
2. Decaying into the Ascended 7:44
3. There is No Division Outside Existence 5:59
4. Progressing in Desolation 8:31

Band members
Vladimir Borodulin – vocals
Dmitry Romanovsky – guitars, bass