Concert Review – Cannibal Corpse (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 11/15/2019)

Over 30 years of evisceration, torture, mutilation, killing, blood and cannibalism in an awesome night of first-class Death Metal in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Perdition Temple and Thy Art Is Murder

I can’t describe in words how happy I am whenever a metal concert is scheduled for a Friday or Saturday night in Toronto, especially when the music in question is old school Death Metal. I mean, we need at least one full day to recover from all the insanity going on in the circle pits, right? And that’s probably why all fans at The Opera House this Friday, November 15 went the extra mile in terms of energy, rage and madness, slamming like it was their last night on earth to the sound of Perdition Temple, Thy Art Is Murder and my favorite Death Metal band of all time, the almighty Cannibal Corpse, pulverizing everything and everyone that crossed their path on a cold but fantastic night in Toronto.

It took forever for the concerts to start, probably because of the huge line that was formed at the door, with security even doing the checks while people were still in line and not right at the entrance. That was an indication that The Opera House was going to be jam packed (and it actually was), and after tons of non-metal songs played by the house DJ for a reason beyond my understanding (well, at least when he played Toto’s classic Africa some metalheads had a good time singing it), the first attraction of the night, Tampa, Florida-based Black/Death Metal horde PERDITION TEMPLE, finally hit the stage and began their short but solid setlist. Formed in 2009 by guitarist Gene Palubicki (from old school cult act Angelcorpse), the trio comprised of Gene together with bassist and vocalist Alex Blume and drummer Ronnie Parmer played a well-balanced setlist including songs from all of their releases, with songs like To Bleed at War, The Tempter’s Victorious and Goddess in Death already igniting some decent circle pits in the floor section. I personally enjoyed their performance a lot, and if you’re curious to know how the music by those Ameircan metallers sounds, simply check their official BandCamp page and, who knows, you might end up adding one of their albums to your devilish collection.

Setlist
The Tempter’s Victorious
Plague Camp
Testament to Annihilation
To Bleed at War
Goddess In Death

Band members
Alex Blume – vocals, bass
Gene Palubicki – guitars, vocals
Ronnie Parmer – drums

After a short break where most fans went either to the bar to grab some cold beer or to the bathroom to make room for more beer,  it was time for Sydney, Australia-based Deathcore outfit THY ART IS MURDER to show Toronto what they got, giving a lesson in slamming with their heavy-as-hell and politicized compositions. Comprised of vocalist Chris “CJ” McMahon, guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh, bassist Kevin Butler and drummer Jesse Beahler, this excellent Deathcore unity from Down Under blasted a demolishing setlist including songs from their newest album Human Target, such as Make America Hate Again and New Gods, which by the way I thought sounded amazing live, with older hits like Reign of Darkness, Fur and Claw and Puppet Master, driving the fans nuts while crushing their skulls inside the humongous mosh pit that dominated the entire floor section as soon as the band began their show. I must say CJ McMahon is not only an extremely talented vocalist, delivering his trademark deep, guttural growls and his inhuman screeches, but he’s also a very charismatic and humble guy, making it visible to everyone at the venue how happy and impressed he was with the reception by his Torontonians fans. After all was said and done, I was able to confirm Thy Art Is Murder is indeed one of the best bands hailing from the current metal scene in Australia, both in studio and when on stage, and after witnessing them live for the first time ever I can’t wait to see when those guys will get back to Toronto for another round of their unrelenting Deathcore.

Setlist
Death Squad Anthem
Make America Hate Again
Fur and Claw
Slaves Beyond Death
Holy War
No Absolution
Human Target
The Son of Misery
New Gods
Reign of Darkness
Puppet Master

Band members
Chris “CJ” McMahon – vocals
Andy Marsh – lead guitar
Sean Delander – rhythm guitar
Kevin Butler – bass
Jesse Beahler – drums

CANNIBAL CORPSE

The wait for the one and only Death Metal institution CANNIBAL CORPSE was finally over when it was getting close to 9:30pm, and from the very first note of the opening track Code of the Slashers, from their latest opus Red Before Black, released in 2017, until the closing moments from their gruesome all-time classic Hammer Smashed Face, it was pure Armageddon in the form of ass-kicking Death Metal. The unstoppable vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (I still don’t know how he can headbang like a beast for so long), guitarists Rob Barret and Erik Rutan (the lead singer and guitarist for Hate Eternal who is filling in on guitar during this tour due to the arrest of guitarist Pat O’Brien), the phenomenal bassist Alex Webster, and the precise drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz set The Opera House on fire with their visceral and absolutely perfect Death Metal, playing “horror classics” from almost all of their albums (which you can find on sale from their own BandCamp page), including my favorite Cannibal Corpse song of all time, Devoured by Vermin, from their 1996 album Vile, and the sensational Kill or Become, from their 2014 album A Skeletal Domain, where you could see several fans “firing up their chainsaws” together with Corpsegrinder. It was so insane I could barely take my phone out for some decent pictures.

Every single time I watch Alex Webster live I get more and more impressed with his technique, feeling and groove, proving why he’s in my opinion the best extreme music bassist of all time. As a matter of fact, how many Death, Thrash and Black Metal bands have bassists that you can actually listen to in detail while performing live? Not only that, but the band’s setlist was also impressive as already mentioned, and that’s probably one of the reasons why Alex and the guys were so brutal and awesome on stage this Friday. Songs like Red Before Black, Gutted, Make Them Suffer and Stripped, Raped and Strangled were the catalyst of some of the most demented circle pits you can imagine, while Scourge of Iron and the demonic Evisceration Plague were perfect for breaking our necks headbanging like maniacs. Another thing that was really entertaining during the band’s flawless performance were all the jokes by Corpsegrinder, showing that behind that brutal headbanging beast there’s a very kind and fun guy. When he offered “NOTHING” from the bottom of his heart to the fans we could see how excited he was with the warm and violent reception from the crowd. And what to say about his personal intro in I Cum Blood, where he dared the fans to try to headbang like him (and, of course, we would all fail miserably in his own words)? That’s what I call a frontman, my friends, never letting the energy go down and always reminding us why the band has been on the road alive and kicking since 1988. When the show was over, you could see many, many fans dripping wet of their own (and others’) sweat and beer leaving the venue without a jacket when the temperature was around -5oC, mostly due to the adrenaline still flowing through their veins, and you know what? That’s when you know there was a damn good Death Metal night in Toronto, obviously spearheaded by our beloved Cannibal Fuckin’ Corpse.

Setlist
Code of the Slashers
Only One Will Die
Red Before Black
Scourge of Iron
Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead
The Wretched Spawn
Devoured by Vermin
Unleashing the Bloodthirsty
Gutted
Kill or Become
A Skull Full of Maggots
Evisceration Plague
Firestorm Vengeance
Death Walking Terror
I Cum Blood
Make Them Suffer
Stripped, Raped and Strangled
Hammer Smashed Face

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Erik Rutan – lead guitar
Rob Barrett – rhythm guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

Album Review – Ploughshare / Tellurian Insurgency EP (2019)

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, here comes a cryptic Australian entity armed with their new EP blending a multitude of influences and sounds.

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, the brand new EP by Australian Black/Death Metal entity Ploughshare, entitled Tellurian Insurgency, is the perfect depiction of what this mysterious band hailing from Canberra, the capital city of Australia, stands for, always with open arms to a multitude of influences and sounds in order to serve a greater purpose, including Black, Death and Doom Metal mixed with Noise Rock, Post-Punk and even the darkest offshoots of Electronic Ambient. In the span of a little over 22 minutes, Ploughshare’s music flows impetuous and intense in Tellurian Insurgency, the natural follow-up to their 2018 full-length album In Offal, Salvation. Recorded and mixed by Elliot Johnson and Max Napier, mastered by MR and featuring a demonic artwork and layout by JR and RT, the new EP by this idiosyncratic Australian horde is not an easy listen at all for the average rock and metal fan, representing the band’s urge to reinvent themselves and bring something new to the listener with each and every album released, never sticking to a specific formula or style. “Ploughshare is what occurs when we come together as a band,” they explain. “We all bring material, but this will always undergo transformation once we’re together. The music emerges contingently, and in a manner that makes it impossible to inscribe our wills into it. We might all contribute, but we are equally all caught up in it.”

Ominous noises explode into sheer madness and chaos in the opening track Abreactive Trance, a demented voyage through the realms of Experimental Black Metal showcasing enraged vociferations, slashing guitar riffs and infernal blast beats, reeking of desperation and insanity while the music lives up to the legacy of modern-day extreme music. Then we have Indistinguishable Beast of Flight, even more experimental and progressive, with its vocal lines reaching a new level of dementia while the guitars sound utterly strident and piercing, or in other words, get ready for a multi-layered metal extravaganza that will please all fans of heaviness and noise, all spiced up by the gargantuan amount of intricacy flowing from the song’s beats and fills. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix), a new and interesting version for the title-track of their 2018 full-length opus, the disturbing and roaring sounds blasted by the band are infused with electronic noises and tones, resulting in a fresh and futuristic musical experiment albeit a the same time maintaining the core violence of the original version, whereas Xeno-Chemical Insider is another eerie composition by the band that sounds a lot more electronic than metal, which I’m pretty sure was the band’s original goal with this song.  Simply close your eyes and let Ploughshare penetrate deep inside your skin with their deranged screams, rhythmic beats and endless obscurity until the song’s ethereal and somber finale.

Although Ploughshare might be considered an unknown creature by many, you can still get in touch with them on Facebook to let them know how crazy you think their music is, and in order to show your support to this eccentric squad hailing from Australia you can purchase Tellurian Insurgency directly from their own BandCamp or from several other locations in different formats, such as the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp, the Brilliant Emperor Records’ BandCamp and Big Cartel, and the Metal Odyssey webstore. It’s almost impossible to predict what’s next for Ploughshare, but judging by the creativity and cohesiveness of the music found in the short but extremely diverse and thrilling Tellurian Insurgency, we can rest assured those metallers from Down Under won’t stop impressing us with their demented creations in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Indistinguishable Beast of Flight.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 I, Voidhanger Records/Brilliant Emperor Records/Night Rhythms Recordings

Track listing
1. Abreactive Trance 6:16
2. Indistinguishable Beast of Flight 5:22
3. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix) 6:01
4. Xeno-Chemical Insider 4:10

Band members
*Information not available*

Guest musician
VS – additional vocals on “Abreactive Trance”

Album Review – Halcyon Reign / The Voyage (2019)

Dealing with the metaphoric beasts we all hide from, the debut album by this Australian trio will take you on a theatrical journey through the realms of prog.

Formed in 2016 in the city of Sydney, Australia, a Progressive Metal three-piece act that goes by the name of Halcyon Reign has just released their debut opus entitled The Voyage, offering the listener a prog feast recommended for fans of iconic bands such as Mastodon, Twelve Foot Ninja and Karnivool. Recorded and mixed by Adam Jordan at Main Street Studios, mastered by Don Bartley  at Benchmark Mastering, and featuring an interesting album art by Edi Udo at Edi Udo Illustrations, which seems to be a tribute to Mastodon’s Leviathan and Gojira’s From Mars to Sirius (and I’m pretty sure those are two of the band’s main influences), The Voyage deals with the metaphoric beasts we all hide from, with those theatrical beastly metaphors being embraced by an atmospheric, intricate and groovy sound blasted by lead singer and guitarist Lachlan Arvidson, bassist Luke Delbridge and drummer Simon Bowles, resulting in a fresh, full-bodied experience for any type of metalhead in search for a good balance between heaviness and creativity.

Emerging from the underworld of prog, the band comes ripping in the opening track ‘Welcome Reality’, a multi-layered musical journey through the realms of Progressive Metal where Lachlan’s classic metal vocals match the music perfectly, not to mention the great job done by Luke with his thunderous bass lines, feeling like a hybrid of Mastodon and Tool. Then a serene intro evolves into an even more progressive and intricate creation by the trio titled The Kraken, with Simon bringing a blend of Progressive, Doom and Heavy Metal with his beats while Lachlan fires his slashing riffs and potent vocals nonstop. Moreover, this great tune is full of breaks and variations, with its mesmerizing instrumental ending being tailored for admirers of the genre. And Peleliu is another classy composition by Halcyon Reign, showcasing the duo Lachlan and Luke in absolute sync with their stringed weapons, supported by Simon’s spot-on beats. Alternating between heavier and more complex moments and gentle, melancholic passages, the final result gets close to that sonic extravaganza the one and only Dream Theather enjoy doing all the time.

If you think The Voyage has been beyond amazing so far, get ready for almost ten minutes of dense, top-of-the-line metal music in Beyond The Cape, where Lachlan sounds at the same time delicate and infuriated on vocals. Furthermore, Luke and Simon make the earth tremble with their respective beats and bass punches, and they keep pounding their weapons with tons of precision and feeling until the song’s epic and enthralling finale. After such lecture in Progressive Metal, an atmospheric, futuristic bridge named Last Horizon sets the stage for the trio to shine once again in the title-track The Voyage, bringing to our ears and minds more of their beautifully crafted music, uniting progressiveness and heaviness in great fashion. Not only the sound of guitars and bass will pierce your ears mercilessly, but the music also brings hints of Sludge Metal to the band’s core essence, and that healthy amalgamation of styles makes the song feel like two or three songs in one, with the three band member jamming freely and stunningly until all fades into a space void.

The past decade has been more than just great for heavy music from Down Under, with countless excellent groups like Halcyon Reign showing the world everything they got, and if you want to show your support to this up-and-coming Australian triumvirate of Progressive Metal you can purchase The Voyage from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music, from Amazon or from CD Baby, as well as listen to the album in full on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook, therefore joining Lachlan, Luke and Simon on their theatrical trek through space and progressive lands and, of course, inspiring them to keep delivering first-class metal music for all of us lovers of the underground scene.

Best moments of the album: The Kraken and Beyond The Cape.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. ‘Welcome Reality’ 6:14
2. The Kraken 8:18
3. Peleliu 5:09
4. Beyond The Cape 9:15
5. Last Horizon 1:27
6. The Voyage 7:28

Band members
Lachlan Arvidson – vocals, guitars
Luke Delbridge – bass
Simon Bowles – drums, vocals

Album Review – He Who Seeks Vengeance / They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became (2019)

A high-octane fusion of classic Metalcore with Hardcore, Deathcore, Death and Thrash Metal made in Australia, inspired by the biggest names of the current rock and metal scene.

Highly inspired by some of the biggest names of the modern rock and metal scene such as As I Lay Dying, Of Mice & Men, Parkway Drive, Bring Me The Horizon, Thy Art Murder and Trivium, Australian Metalcore outfit He Who Seeks Vengeance is unleashing upon humanity their debut full-length album beautifully entitled They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became, blasting a high-octane fusion of classic Metalcore with Hardcore, Deathcore, Death and Thrash Metal for the masses. Formed in 2016 in Frankston, a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, the band comprised of lead singer Scott Masson, guitarist Kye Bradbury-Flint, bassist Joel Petry and drummer Adam Vousden sounds a lot more cohesive, polished and focused in their new album than in their 2017 debut EP The Kid’s Got Alligator Blood, proving the quartet is on the right path in their promising career and explaining why they’ve already become a reference in the underground scene in their homeland.

Distorted sounds and crushing beats invade our ears in Death Mountain before Scott begins roaring deeply for our total delight in a feast of fast, furious and vicious Metalcore infused with classic Death Metal elements, or in other words, an ass-kicking welcome card by the quartet. And keep banging your heads to the band’s demolishing sound in I Know You’re out There, Demon, where we’re able to enjoy the first stint of clean vocals of the album while Kye showcases his refined guitar skills, adding a lot of groove and electricity to their musicality; whereas Screw Feet presents a rumbling sonority led by Joel’s bass jabs and Adam’s vile beats. Furthermore, this is the type of modern metal music I enjoy a lot, being violent, melodic and progressive all at once, not to mention the incendiary riffs fired by Kye from start to finish. Slowing down and getting more obscure, Ghosts brings forward a solid instrumental that lacks the same energy and impact from the previous songs, despite the great job done by Scott with both his growls and clean vocals, followed by Nothing Lasts Forever, where an enraged intro explodes into a fusion of Metalcore with Groove Metal and Deathcore and with Joel’s thunderous bass powerfully complementing the song’s crisp, razor-edged guitar riffs.

Interminable displays a more melodic and less aggressive side of the band led by the metallic, low-tuned bass by Joel, while Scott declaims the song’s lyrics in a Punk-ish/Hardcore-inspired way, sounding perfect for fans of this less bestial side of Metalcore. Then the flammable guitar lines by Kye ignite the also groovy and rhythmic Money Is God, where Scott sounds truly deranged and insane and with Adam pounding his drums just the way we like it in modern-day metal, before the band blasts a rebellious circle pit-generator spearheaded by Adam and Kye titled Mark Me with an X, with both being armed to the teeth with their respective instruments. Needless to say, it should work really well if played live, with the deep guttural roars by Scott being the icing on the cake. In Strychnine the band sounds as modern and metallic as they can be, especially Adam with his crushing beats and fills, also showcasing the band’s trademark neck-breaking rhythm and pace in a solid display of what contemporary Metalcore truly means, while in 80-20, a song tailored for being played live at rock and metal festivals, we’re all invited to jump up and down with He Who Seeks Vengeance, presenting a blazing main riff that will rip your spinal cord out, unstoppable drums and endless stamina.

Once again bringing hints of classic Death Metal and even some Thrash Metal influences to their core sonority, the band offers us Shrapnel, alternating between groovier, more melodic moments and sheer insanity. Moreover, Scott doesn’t stop screaming and roaring, bursting his lungs with his deep guttural lines. Into the Shape of a Heart keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline (which by the way is kind of a tough job as we’re talking about fifteen songs in total), bringing to our ears a great riffage delivered by Kye while Joel continues to hammer his bass mercilessly, followed by Defeatist, offering the listener a more rumbling, dense sonority infused with Djent and Hardcore nuances while its guitar riffs are in total sync with the sound of drums, generating a vibrant atmosphere perfect for Scott’s sick vociferations. Lastly, closing the album we have two very distinct songs, starting with This Is My Day, which despite not being a bad song is slightly generic if compared to the rest of the album, albeit still presenting the band’s characteristic style and vibe and with Adam delivering another great performance on drums, while Blackwater is a very unique, dark and pensive ballad, not as devastating as their usual sound but, in the end, it works extremely well, closing the album on a somber note as if it is some sort of “aftermath”.

What are you waiting for to show your support to this talented four-piece act from Down Under? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became (available for a full listen on Spotify) by clicking HERE or from CD Baby. Those guys definitely want to put Australia on the map of contemporary Metalcore and Hardcore, and based on the high quality of the music found in their brand new album there’s no doubt they will succeed, which means we can expect to hear more from He Who Seeks Vengeance in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Death Mountain, Screw Feet, 80-20 and Shrapnel.

Worst moments of the album: Ghosts and This Is My Day.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Death Mountain 3:33
2. I Know You’re out There, Demon 4:08
3. Screw Feet 4:36
4. Ghosts 5:12
5. Nothing Lasts Forever 4:30
6. Interminable 5:43
7. Money Is God 3:30
8. Mark Me with an X 4:24
9. Strychnine 4:51
10. 80-20 4:40
11. Shrapnel 3:51
12. Into the Shape of a Heart 3:50
13. Defeatist 3:31
14. This Is My Day 4:04
15. Blackwater 4:27

Band members
Scott Masson – vocals
Kye Bradbury-Flint – guitar
Joel Petry – bass
Adam Vousden – drums

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

Album Review – Tyrannic / Ethereal Sepulchre (2018)

A dark beast of doom in the form of an uncompromising album of true and raw heavy music, courtesy of a trinity whose veins pump with the pulse of Black, Thrash and Doom Metal.

Formed in 2010 under the antipodean sky of Sydney, Australia, the ruthless Thrash/Doom Metal entity known as Tyrannic has been paving their own twisted path with a dark and sinister mindset since their inception, and despite several lineup changes over the years the band’s founding member R has constantly driven the band forward from behind the kit with his signature vocal style and dedication to the “do-it-yourself” principles and aesthetic of the underground. After releasing a couple of demos, a split album and a live tape through the years, it’s time for Tyrannic to unleash their dark beast of doom with their honest and uncompromising debut album titled Ethereal Sepulchre, crafted with a very personal approach to carving its own unique and disgusting mould.

Featuring four long tracks of heinous, horrific and bizarre sounds, the most primitive rumblings straight from the beast’s belly, Ethereal Sepulchre offers the listener unadulterated metal from a trinity whose veins pump with the pulse of Heavy Metal. Furthermore, R describes the album as a release which “projects complete darkness in the most obscure form”, with its lyrical content being an expression of his innermost exploration into abstract thought, madness and insanity, all driven by experiential death worship. In other words, if you’re a fan of the obscure music by iconic bands from distinct genres but with the same appreciation for the dark, like Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Emperor and Dark Funeral, among several others, get ready for a visceral and thunderous descent into the pits of hell with Tyrannic.

The first track of the album, a demonic welcome card by the trio entitled Serpent Scythe, brings forward classic, old school Black Metal from the very first second spiced up by hints of the Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath, with R’s growls being a demonic fusion of the vocals by Tom Araya (Slayer) and Mortuus (Marduk), while Morgan and J slash their strings in a hellish manner. And Tyrannic’s evil triumvirate keeps delivering darkness and dementia through their instruments in the sluggish and medieval Possession of Accursed Inheritance, offering over 12 minutes of obscurity in the form of Black Metal infused with Blackened Doom nuances. Moreover, R gets more and more deranged on vocals while his beats exhale madness and aggressiveness, until the band’s sonic onslaught of Stygian sounds ends with the creepy sound of a mysterious organ.

In the following tune, named Tyrannic Deluge, what starts in a somber Doom Metal-inspired manner suddenly explodes into flammable Black Metal from the netherworld, with J firing scorching hot riffs form his guitar. This can be considered the most complete and electrifying of all four tracks, remaining pulverizing throughout its 14 devilish minutes, flowing like an ardent blaze through the forest until its Funeral Doom-inspired grand finale. And R, J and Morgan unite their darkened forces once again for one final blast of hellish Black Metal in the title-track Ethereal Sepulchre, delivering blasphemous vociferations, somber riffs and bass punches, and pounding beats, evolving into a menacing hybrid between old school Black Metal and low-tuned, demonic Doom Metal that remains utterly disturbing and vile for our total delight.

In summary, if you are one of those metalheads who simply love to have your soul darkened by the damned sounds blasted by bands from the underworld of heavy music, then Ethereal Sepulchre should definitely become part of your devilish collection. Hence, in order to put your hands on such sulfurous album, simply go to the Séance Records’ BandCamp or webstore (where you’ll find it in CD or in an old school, primeval tape format), as well as Discogs, to purchase your copy of it. And last but not least, don’t forget to show your support to such demented power trio by following them on Facebook, joining R, J and Morgan in their sonic crusade in the name of raw and aggressive Black, Thrash and Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: Tyrannic Deluge.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Séance Records

Track listing
1. Serpent Scythe 6:07
2. Possession of Accursed Inheritance 12:13
3. Tyrannic Deluge 14:05
4. Ethereal Sepulchre 7:00

Band members
R – vocals, drums
J – guitars
Morgan – bass

Album Review – The Black Swamp / Witches EP (2018)

Australia’s own five-headed creature from the swamp is back with a short and slimy album of Sludge and Southern Metal that celebrates the riff-driven sound they’ve become known for.

For the love of the riff, Australian Southern/Groove Metal group The Black Swamp was formed as a live act in 2012 in the Gold Coast, in South East Queensland, soon evolving to a full-bodied band and releasing their debut EP Foulness in 2014, followed by the full-length I Am, in 2016, not to mention a handful of unofficial releases on their way to support slots with Hellyeah, Black Label Society and Sebastian Bach, as well as their own national tours. Always playing a sludge sound reminiscent of the 70’s and 90’s, “the swamp” is back in 2018 with a short and slimy EP titled Witches, a celebration of the riff-driven sound they’ve become known for, also marking their first release with new frontman Luke Hosking (from Australian Groove/Thrash Metal band Azreal). Hence, the quintet comprised of Luke on vocals, Grant Scott and Jesse Kenny on the guitars, Rohan Downs on bass and Brendan Woodley on drums again focuses their energy and creativity on raw sounds, highly inspired by Heavy Metal pioneers Black Sabbath and Doom/Sludge Metal masters Crowbar.

And “the swamp” needs only a few seconds to blow our ears with their ruthless and heavy-as-hell Stoner Metal in the opening track Headless, with Luke delivering sheer rage through his Phil Anselmo-inspired deep, crude vocals, while Grant and Jesse are simply bestial with their crushing riffs. If that’s not heavy enough for you, just keep banging your head nonstop to another soulful and aggressive Sludge Metal creation by The Black Swamp, named Event Horizon, where the bass lines by Rohan feel like if he was rubbing metal to metal so piercing and thunderous they sound. Put differently, this is a drinking-smoking-slamming-headbanging tune, bringing a classic rhtythm tailored for lovers of the genre. Then we have 1487 C.E., a short and serene bridge that sets the stage for to the demolishing title-track Witches, showcasing the heaviest and most whimsical elements found in Sludge, Stoner and Doom Metal, with Brendan pounding his drums mercilessly while Luke continues his musical rant à la Pantera, not to mention the always crisp and furious riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

In a nutshell, it’s quite impressive the amount of heaviness and rage found in each one of the four tracks of the EP in a littles less than 17 minutes, proving The Black Swamp are not joking around when displaying their admiration and passion for Sludge and Doom Metal. If you want to show your support for this resonant quintet, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and buy your copy of Witches (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) directly from The Black Swamp’s BandCamp page, as well as from iTunes or from CD Baby. After this brief “attack” by Australia’s own five-headed creature from the swamp, I’m sure you’ll get curious to know what comes next in their career, getting more and more addicted to their sluggish, vile and totally awesome music.

Best moments of the album: Headless and Witches.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Headless 4:32
2. Event Horizon 6:46
3. 1487 C.E. 1:00
4. Witches 4:13

Band members
Luke Hosking – vocals
Grant Scott – guitar
Jesse Kenny – guitar
Rohan Downs – bass
Brendan Woodley – drums

Album Review – Moonshifter / Love Lust Fire Dust (2018)

A lesson in classic Hard Rock with a modern and fresh Australian twist, turning all the band’s love, lust, fire and dust into an ass-kicking Rock N’ Roll party.

Forged in the melting pot of some of Melbourne’s most notorious and rocking venues such as The Espy, The Tote, Bendigo Hotel and Cherry Bar, among many others, Australian Hard Rock act Moonshifter determined from their inception to always “keep it fun”, in line with everything that’s done by some of their biggest icons in rock music like AC/DC and Kiss. After a few singles that led to the band being played and interviewed on local community radio shows and TV stations, which of course also resulted in an increase in their number of live concerts, it’s time now for frontman Lachlan Cross, guitarists Wayne Elkin and Mark Cambruzzi, bassist Andy Baker and drummer Mike Cato to release their debut full-length album Love Lust Fire Dust, showcasing their focused brand of rock and groove with stratospheric lead vocals, hypnotic guitar solos, thundering bass and drums encased by addictive guitar riffs.

Are you ready to rock? That’s the main question Moonshifter have in the opening track Dirty Mind, a kick-ass blend of old school Rock N’ Roll and 80’s Hard Rock with the band’s inspired guitar duo blasting sheer electricity through their sharp guitars, while Lachlan beautifully declaims the song’s lyrics about how he wants a woman with a filthy, lustful mind. Then in I Am Yours, You Are Mine we’re treated to a 70’s-inspired Rock N’ Roll extravaganza led by the griping beats by Mike, while Wayne and Mark keep blowing our ears with their riffs and solos, not to mention how catchy the song’s chorus is; followed by Mountain, where hints of Progressive Rock the likes of Rush are added to the band’s classic Hard Rock, resulting in a great choice for any road trip playlist, also presenting a solid performance by Lachlan on vocals as well as Andy and his soulful bass lines.

Leave You Baby is a song to dance with your loved one like in a 60’s or 70’s rock n’ roll party, but of course with a modern (and consequently more incendiary) twist thanks to the flammable guitar lines and fierce beats fired by Moonshifter. After dancing the night away it’s time to take a break from all the band’s rockin’ madness with a melancholic ballad titled I Keep This Light, led by the passionate vocals by Lachlan, who’s by the way nicely supported by the spot-on backing vocals by the rest of the band and by the stunning guitar solos by Wayne and Mark, while in So Much More they get back to their unrelenting Rock N’ Roll mode, with vocals and drums overflowing groove and electricity. Put differently, this is a short and sweet ode to rock and metal that will certainly put everyone to dance or slam into the pit during their live concerts. And in Burnin’ Alive, a song tailored for sharing a beer with your pals and banging your head nonstop, there’s more vibrant rock music for your avid ears, this time inspired by Southern Rock, which proves how versatile Moonshifter are as a band.

Whoever Emily is, she might be very happy with the tribute Moonshifter paid to her in the form of a modern Hard Rock hymn named Oh Emily, where Andy and Mike are responsible for crafting a strong base for the guitars to shine while Lachlan declaims his twisted love for our main character. Then with their guitars sounding metallic and crisp, the band offers the listener Let You Down, another display of modern-day rock music with highlights to the solid drumming by Mike, albeit not as vibrant as the rest of the album, followed by You Feel It, a song so dynamic it can be used both as the opener or the closing tune of their live setlists, presenting a more-than-inspired Lachlan on vocals, electrified riffs and solos, and tons of feeling form start to finish. Lastly, rev up your engines and ride on the waves of Hard Rock with the amazing Ride, or also “Ride (With Me)” if you prefer, with Mike simply smashing his drums while the stringed trio Andy, Mark and Wayne slash our ears with their thrilling sounds, closing the album in a majestic way.

If you want to know more about such promising group from Down Under, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, listen to more of their music on ReverbNation, and obviously purchase their exciting new album from their own BandCamp page or from CD Baby. In a nutshell, Love Lust Fire Dust is a lesson in classic Hard Rock with a modern and fresh twist, turning all the band’s love, lust, fire and dust into an ass-kicking Rock N’ Roll party perfect for dancing, slamming into the pit or having a beer with your friends. And that’s what our good old Rock N’ Roll is all about.

Best moments of the album: Dirty Mind, Leave You Baby, So Much More and Ride.

Worst moments of the album: Let You Down.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Dirty Mind 4:00
2. I Am Yours, You Are Mine 3:46
3. Mountain 3:51
4. Leave You Baby 4:09
5. I Keep This Light 5:42
6. So Much More 2:35
7. Burnin’ Alive 4:10
8. Oh Emily 4:18
9. Let You Down 4:13
10. You Feel It 4:59
11. Ride 4:56

Band members
Lachlan Cross – vocals
Wayne Elkin – guitar
Mark Cambruzzi – guitar
Andy Baker – bass
Mike Cato – drums

Album Review –Tamerlan Empire / Age of Ascendancy (2018)

Behold the rise of a metal empire and their marvelous fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Central-Asian and Middle-Eastern melodies and rhythms.

It’s time to travel once again to Sydney, Australia to behold the rise of a metal empire that will leave you speechless after listening to its marvelous fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Central-Asian and Middle-Eastern melodies and rhythms. I’m talking about Tamerlan Empire, a savage horde formed in 2011 by drummer Khan, with the band’s name and lyrical content being inspired by Tamerlan (also known as Timurlan, Amir Temur, Timurleng or Timur Khan), a powerful Mongol/Turkish emperor from the 14th century. Not only their songs are about the emperor’s battles and conquests, but they have also drawn a much deeper influence from his dark brutal side and strategic mind, with his detailed forward-thinking always being many steps ahead of the enemies and allies.

Playing what can be called “Turkic/Uzbek Middle-Eastern Symphonic Black Metal”, an aggressive and very unique atmospheric style of Black Metal, Tamerlan Empire are releasing their highly anticipated debut album entitled Age of Ascendancy, perfectly describing the overlord’s meteoric rise and his great interest and contribution to science, politics, architecture, astronomy and literature during his reign, as well as the era in general where empires strove for dominance through war, bloodshed and destruction. And this distinct band, comprised of Ghorr on vocals and guitar, Ferus on the guitar, Vezir on keyboards and orchestrations, and Khan on drums and percussion, more than succeeded in translating the grandiosity of the empire ruled by the aforementioned warlord, creating an unparalleled, multi-layered sound that will certainly please all fans of the orchestral vein of extreme music.

The title-track Age Of Ascendancy is an epic, cinematic intro that effectively sets the stage for the symphonic onslaught titled Battle Of Tyrants, a song that begins in full force with the orchestrations by Vezir enhancing the overall impact on your ears and mind. Put differently, this grandiose, intricate hymn will make you feel you’re in the middle of the battlefield, with Khan sounding impressive behind his drums. Even more atmospheric and imposing, Vengeance In Blood presents Ghorr and Ferus delivering melodious and aggressive riffs nonstop, while Khan keeps smashing his drums mercilessly. Furthermore, Ghorr’s enraged growls live up to the legacy of Symphonic Black Metal, sounding vile and piercing, and therefore making me think if we can call Tamerlan Empire the “Dimmu Borgir from the East”. And be prepared for another feast of blackened sounds entitled Ottoman’s Demise, a headbanging tune led by the blazing guitars by Ghorr and Ferus, spiced up by the uniqueness of Middle-Eastern music and sounding utterly dense and bold from start to finish.

Slightly less epic and a lot more devastating, Ascension of Iron showcases all band members in their fastest and most furious mode, with the musicality being led by the classic blast beats by Khan while Ghorr keeps barking like a demon; whereas in Behest Of The Chosen we’re treated to a whimsical intro where classic Middle-Eastern elements and percussion are suddenly joined by a gripping and dark sonority, feeling very rhythmic, mesmerizing and detailed until its atmospheric grand finale. Tribal beats ignite another superb metal extravaganza by Tamerlan Empire named Winter March, the perfect soundtrack to an epic adventure presenting what’s perhaps the strongest balance between Black Metal and Middle-Eastern music, with Vezir sounding absolutely fantastic with his keys and orchestrations, followed by Dominion Of Ashes, leaning towards modern Symphonic Black Metal and also presenting elements from traditional Norwegian Black Metal, but with its core essence still bringing the band’s unique Middle-Eastern Black Metal. In addition, the deranged vocals by Ghorr remind me of Marduk’s Mortuus, which of course translates into sheer violence and awesomeness.

Then phantasmagoric keys kick off the demolishing Marauder’s Mark, taking the band’s onrush of blackened sounds to a whole new level and also presenting some interesting breaks and variations to add a few extra layers to the overall result; and Of Dust Returned, which sounds similar to its predecessor but bringing even heavier and darker nuances. In other words, this is contemporary Black Metal blended with Symphonic and Atmospheric Black Metal, with its in-sync keys and guitars generating a truly Stygian ambience. And there’s time for one last blast of their unparalleled Black Metal with the magnificent Scattered Sands, a climatic conclusion to such incredible album of extreme music showcasing an interesting paradox between Ghorr’s devilish gnarls and the ethereal sounds emanating from Vezir’s keys. Furthermore, what I’m about to say might sound weird for some of you, but I can easily visualize a lustful woman doing a heavier-than-usual belly dance to this amazing metal tune.

If you have what it takes to join the empire of flammable and epic Black Metal ruled by this up-and-coming Australian horde, simply go check what they’re up to on Facebook, listen to their music on Spotify and on ReverbNation, and grab your copy of Age of Ascendancy (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) from the Metal Hell Records’ BandCamp or webstore (as a regular CD version or as a special bundle that includes the CD plus a metallic gold embroidered logo patch, a 1.25″ pin back button, a vinyl logo sticker, and a download code for the digital version of the album), as well as from CD Baby, iTunes or Amazon. And after putting your hands on such distinct album, I dare you to not get completely addicted to the band’s vibrant and bold Middle-Eastern Symphonic Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Vengeance In Blood, Ascension of Iron, Winter March and Scattered Sands.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Metal Hell Records

Track listing
1. Age Of Ascendancy 1:57
2. Battle Of Tyrants 4:49
3. Vengeance In Blood 5:02
4. Ottoman’s Demise 5:44
5. Ascension of Iron 4:54
6. Behest Of The Chosen 7:39
7. Winter March 7:00
8. Dominion Of Ashes 4:54
9. Marauder’s Mark 5:32
10. Of Dust Returned 5:13
11. Scattered Sands 7:10

Band members
Ghorr – vocals, guitars
Ferus – guitars
Vezir – keyboards, orchestration
Khan – drums, percussion

Live musicians
Yassa – vocals
Ramz – bass

Album Review – Rise of Avernus / Eigengrau (2018)

Blending elements from progressive and symphonic music with the most obscure side of Extreme Metal, all enfolded by majestic orchestrations, here come Rise of Avernus with their heaviest and darkest opus thus far.

Eigengrau (German: “intrinsic gray”, lit. “own gray”; pronounced [ˈʔaɪ̯gn̩ˌgʁaʊ̯]), also called Eigenlicht (Dutch and German: “own light”), dark light, or brain gray, is the uniform dark gray background that many people report seeing in the absence of light.

Since their inception in 2011, Australian Dark Orchestral Death/Doom Metal horde Rise of Avernus has been making a name for themselves throughout the metal community with their unique style blending elements from progressive and symphonic music with the darkest side of Extreme Metal, all enfolded by majestic orchestrations. Within the short time since the release of their 2012 debut EP, they’ve followed a relentless touring schedule, supporting some major international acts such as Apocalyptica, Enslaved, Eluveitie, Prong, Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Rotting Christ and Sigh along the way. Now in 2018 it’s time for this Sydney-based blackened squad to spread their devilish wings all over the world once again with Eigengrau, their fourth studio release and, more important than that, their heaviest and darkest opus thus far.

Featuring a Stygian artwork by world renowned artist Seth Siro Anton (aka Spiros Antoniou from Septicflesh), Eigengrau is the experience of seeing a deep grey shade in the total absence of visible light, or what one may refer to as a “perfect darkness.” Upon this canvas, an individual can project their subconscious, their processes, their anxieties and their fears. Thematically, Eigengrau explores the fluidic nature of these self-created experiences, how they can be shaped and how they may change at the point of one’s own death. Other tracks go on to explore the intricacies of personal realities, influenced by external factors or via spiritual and religious indoctrination. The nature of self-realization and being forced to confront weakness to overcome it. The distinct sound of the album reflects these altered states, oscillating between delicate movements and nightmarish grandiosity.

And Rise of Avernus’ nightmare of tenebrous and imposing sounds begin in full force in the opening track Terminus, showcasing a movie-inspired start before becoming a majestic fusion of the extreme music by bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth and Necronomicon with a raw Death Metal twist. Furthermore, Ben VanVollenhoven, the (black) heart and soul of the band, sounds insanely infernal on vocals, as well as Andrew Craig and his thunderous drums. Following such fantastic beginning we have Ad Infinitum (or “to infinity”), a neck-breaking, symphonic tune led by the atmospheric keys by Mares Refalaeda where Ben once again brings sheer darkness to the musicality with his demonic voice, resulting in a flawless combination of Atmospheric and Symphonic Black Metal.

Then we have a movie score-inspired beginning to yet another venomous feast by Rise of Avernus titled Gehenna, showcasing a beautiful but still obscure mid-tempo rhythm led by the guitars by Ben, who also provides a powerful performance with both his harsh and clean vocals (not to mention how awesome all orchestrations are); while Eigenlicht offers the listener almost eight minutes of a descent into the pitch black crypts of Hades, presenting smooth guitar lines by Ben and the always gripping keys by Mares, with the atmospheric break halfway through it being a thing of beauty. To sum up, this is Symphonic Black Metal at its finest, with the whole music ending in dense and ferocious fashion for our total delectation. And there’s’ still a lot more to go in Eigengrau, with tribal beats igniting another sonic extravaganza named Tempest, where Ben sounds more hellish and cavernous than before while Andrew and Mares fill all empty spaces with their burning instruments, resulting in a flawless mix of orchestral and heavy music.

Forged in Eidolon brings forward an ominous intro rising from the pits of hell directly into your mind, with the spectral orchestrations and keyboards by both Ben and Mares imprisoning your soul in the metallic realm of evil reigned by Rise of Avernus. Then serene sounds are joined by a wave of sublime orchestrations in Mimicry, creating the perfect ambience for the demonic growls by Ben and enhanced by the astounding keys by Mares. And as the closing act to this impressive album we have Into Aetherium, a wondrous composition that starts with almost three minutes of an instrumental blast of melancholic and obscure Symphonic Black Metal before all hell breaks loose, darkening our thoughts and hearts during its eight minutes of duration. Led by the bestial drums by Andrew, this fiendish hymn sets the perfect landscape for Ben to continue his path to the underworld, gnarling like an evil entity until the song’s mesmerizing and grandiose ending.

What are you waiting for to show your support for Rise of Avernus and purchase your copy of Eigengrau, one of the best extreme albums you can find out there, blending the aggressiveness of Death, Doom and Black Metal with the finesse and epicness of orchestral music? Eigengrau is available through Rise of Avernus’ own BandCamp page or Big Cartel (where by the way you can also find an album + patch + shirt bundle and an album + patch + pin + shirt + canvas/artwork bundle), as well as through the Aural Music webstore as a regular CD format or as a very special woodbox edition, if all of those versions of the album are still in stock, of course (which I doubt due to the insanely high quality of the music in question). Also, don’t forget to pay a visit to Rise of Avernus on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and to listen to more of their classy music on YouTube. This is not only the band’s boldest, darkest and heaviest release to date, as aforementioned, but a lesson in extreme music that will certainly figure among the best metal albums of 2018 not only at The Headbanging Moose, but in several other publications all over the world where dark music always prevails.

Best moments of the album: Terminus, Eigenlicht, Tempest and Into Aetherium.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Code666

Track listing 
1. Terminus 5:43
2. Ad Infinitum 4:54
3. Gehenna 5:59
4. Eigenlicht 7:33
5. Tempest 4:51
6. Forged in Eidolon 5:56
7. Mimicry 3:53
8. Into Aetherium 8:03

Band members
Ben VanVollenhoven – vocals, guitar, orchestrations
Mares Refalaeda – vocals, keyboards
Andrew Craig – drums, percussion