Album Review – Of Blood and Mercury / Strangers EP (2019)

A mix of dark pop and ambient with a touch of synthetic nostalgia from the 80’s by a Belgian duo not afraid of experimenting in music, giving us a hint of the concepts and harmonies to be feature on their upcoming album.

Brought into being in early 2018 in the city of Brussles, Belgium by vocalist Michelle Nocon (Bathsheba, Leviathan Speaks, Serpentcult) and multi-instrumentalist Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (Enthroned, Emptiness), Avantgarde Noir Rock project Of Blood and Mercury is not exactly what you would expect from the fusion of musicians from extreme bands such as Enthroned, Pro-Pain, Bathsheba and Luminance, but that doesn’t mean it’s bland or tiresome. Quite the contrary, Michele and Olivier united their creativity in a very vibrant and detailed musical style that could be described as a mix of dark pop and ambient, with a touch of synthetic nostalgia from the 80’s.

As their first adventure through the realms of avantgarde music, Of Blood and Mercury are offering us an enthralling three-track EP entitled Strangers, where Michelle and Olivier have the support of bassist David Alexandre Parquier (Soror Dolorosa) and drummer Jonas Sanders (Emptiness, Pro-Pain, Resistance) to help them give life to their very distinct project. Recorded in the caves of Brussels’ Blackout Studio, Strangers gives us a hint of the concepts and harmonies to be feature on their upcoming 10-track album to be released later this year, with the melancholic tones of Michelle’s voice beautifully depicting the shadows that drag the wonders of nature to their ghostly forms.

Ethereal sounds ignite the mesmerizing Strangers, where you’ll feel embraced by Michelle’s vocals while she recites the song’s delicate lyrics (“Dusty words remember a lost cause. A feeling of a half filled glass. / Half poison, half wine. Half bitter, half sweet. some steel, some rust, some victory.”), with an extra kick added to the musicality thanks to the precise drums by Jonas. Put differently, this is first-class heavier-than-usual Dark Wave penetrating deep inside our hearts and souls, which can also be said about the following tune, titled Walk the Void. Inspired by the music by Enya with a modern and melodic twist, Of Blood and Mercury generate an inebriating atmosphere throughout the entire song, with Olivier doing a great job with his precise synths, keys and guitar lines. Furthermore, it definitely feels like the band is focusing a lot more on the atmosphere rather than just the music itself, and the final result is absolutely amazing. And the last song of the EP, Estranged, continues to wander between the rock and electronic genres in a very gentle and serene way, inviting us to simply close our eyes and let the hypnotic waves crafted by Michelle, Oliver & Co. invade our senses. In addition, some people like to say that musicians are the poets of the modern era we’re living in, and based on the lyrics crafted by Michelle and Olivier that statement is more than valid (“Estranged one, / in oblivion. / The disease has sprung. / Wear the mask of Cain. / ‘Cause you still haven’t learned to exit the dream. / And I still feel numb. / Estranged one, / in oblivion. / Symmetry gone wrong, / infertile brain.”).

You can listen to the entire EP by clicking HERE, follow Of Blood and Mercury on Facebook, and obviously show your true support to this classy duo by purchasing their debut EP directly from their BandCamp page. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for a full-bodied release by Of Blood and Mercury in the coming months, and until then we can satisfy our craving by listening to Strangers again, again and again, letting our minds and souls wander through the vast and melancholic lands of the distinct Avantgarde Noir Rock presented to us all by two veterans of the extreme music scene who are not afraid of experimenting and trying new musical styles and nuances, consequently showing the world there is no such thing as boundaries for musicians who create music from the bottom of their hearts.

Best moments of the album: Strangers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Strangers 4:54
2. Walk the Void 5:30
3. Estranged 4:58

Band members
Michelle Nocon – vocals, programming
Olivier Lomer-Wilbers – guitars, keyboards, programming

Guest musicians
David Alexandre Parquier – bass
Jonas Sanders – drums, percussion

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Album Review – When Plagues Collide / Tutor of the Dying (2018)

A superb amalgamation of melodic riffs and sweeping solos embraced by the beauty and finesse of symphonic music, blasted by a Belgian outfit that’s among us to dictate violence and spread the plague.

As total strangers, but sharing the same passion for heavy music, five friends met in June 2016 with the same goal in mind, which was translating their vision of life and musical ideas into a genre that’s not well known or developed among headbangers yet, but that has tons of potential to become your next favorite thing in metal. I’m talking about Symphonic Deathcore, an amalgamation of sounds and styles that encompasses melodic riffs and sweeping solos embraced by the beauty and finesse of symphonic music, and there’s no better band to introduce you to this thrilling new genre than Belgian metallers When Plagues Collide (a name standing for the reflection of our modern-day society and, therefore, allowing a critical view on social issues) and their debut full-length opus, titled Tutor of the Dying.

Believe me when I say you’ll be absolutely stunned by the complex and brutal creations by this Aarschot-based squad, comprised of Wouter Dergez on vocals, Joris Dergez and Santy Van der Mieren on the guitars, Bastiaan Barbieux on bass and Siebe Hermans on drums. Featuring an old school Death Metal-inspired artwork by Hans Trasid of Disart Design, as well as the very special guest musicians Ben Duerr (Shadow of Intent, Hollow Prophet), Luke Griffin (Acrania, Human Error) and Tim De Ridder (The Seventh, Before He Shot her), Tutor of the Dying is highly recommended for fans of bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Make them Suffer, Martyr Defiled and Molotov Solution, with each one of the album’s 11 tracks “dictating violence and spreading the plague”, like the band itself would say.

If you’re curious to know what Symphonic Deathcroe is all about, simply hit play and let cryptic sounds and noises from the underworld kick off the six-minute aria Messengers of the Holy Falsehood, being gradually accompanied by a choir and background symphonic elements until all hell breaks loose to the demented beats by Siebe and the lunatic vociferations by Wouter, with both Joris and Santy firing truly incendiary riffs from their axes. Fertilization with the Body of Men is a lot more metallic and closer to traditional Metalcore, with Bastiaan and Siebe shaking the foundations of the earth with their rumbling instruments, not to mention how the background piano and other symphonic elements bring an ethereal touch to the band’s sonic havoc, whereas Legion is another ass-kicking, demolishing tune by the quintet where Wouter sounds even more enraged and demented than before, with the strident sound of the guitars beautifully penetrating deep inside our minds.

And their level of destruction and rage only grows in Dictating Violence, a Deathcore tune perfect for slamming into the pit featuring the first guest of the album, vocalist Ben Duerr, blasting sheer brutality and wrath. Then an eerie and somber semi-acoustic bridge titled Als Imperatieve Grootmacht (which means “as an imperative superpower”, from Dutch) showcases devilish vocalizations and enigmatic words, setting the tone for the fulminating title-track Tutor of the Dying, bringing the most demonic, high-pitched screeches by Wouter, while Siebe shows no mercy for his drums nor for our necks. In other words, this is top-notch Deathcore to the masses with a phantasmagorical and amazing atmosphere, which can also be said about Fleshmould, where guest vocalist Luke Griffin growls and barks like a beast together with Wouter while the band’s guitar duo continues their insane shredding feast for our total delight.

An imposing intro evolves into a bold and introspective creation named Belials Archetype, led by the visceral riffs by both Joris and Santy and also presenting truly wicked lyrics (“Malevolent thoughts slither through the mind of this broken man / The weeping eyes of his unborn child reflecting on the name of his murdered wife / The ever cold breeze carries her scent as reminder of the elegance of life / In her fragile existence she achieves in maintaining the breath of belief in the essence of his being / Still death and reunification offer solace and liberation”); and When Plagues Collide continue their deranged feast of sounds and noises in Marked for Destruction, featuring guest vocalist Tim De Ridder, all embraced by spot-on symphonic elements and without showing any signs of the band slowing down. Quite the contrary, they keep taking their violent Deathcore to new heights, obviously making us fans of extreme music happy. Lastly, presenting a sonority slightly different from the previous songs we have Corpus Maleficus, more symphonic and less barbaric than its predecessors but of course still keeping intact their Deathcore roots, with highlights to the great sync between Siebe’s beats and the flammable guitars by Joris and Santy, before the orchestral, Stygian outro Vows captivates our senses and depressurizes our souls from all the devastation brought forth by the band throughout the entire album.

As already mentioned, I’m certain that after taking a more detailed listen at Tutor of the Dying in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify you’ll get addicted to Symphonic Deathcore, and in order to show your appreciation for the music by When Plagues Collide don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel. In a nutshell, the excellent Tutor of the Dying, available from the band’s BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from Chugcore’s BandCamp page, from iTunes and from Amazon, is the utmost depiction of what high-end Symphonic Deathcore is all about, always dictating violence, always spreading the plague and, above all that, showing us all When Plagues Collide are among us to stay (and slay).

Best moments of the album: Messengers of the Holy Falsehood, Dictating Violence and Tutor of the Dying.

Worst moments of the album: Corpus Maleficus.

Released in 2018 Chugcore

Track listing
1. Messengers of the Holy Falsehood 6:27
2. Fertilization with the Body of Men 4:25
3. Legion 4:16
4. Dictating Violence (feat. Ben Duerr) 3:42
5. Als Imperatieve Grootmacht 2:41
6. Tutor of the Dying 4:49
7. Fleshmould (feat. Luke Griffin) 3:28
8. Belials Archetype 3:25
9. Marked for Destruction (feat. Tim De Ridder) 4:00
10. Corpus Maleficus 4:18
11. Vows 2:54

Band members
Wouter Dergez – vocals
Joris Dergez – guitar
Santy Van der Mieren – guitar
Bastiaan Barbieux – bass
Siebe Hermans – drums

Guest musicians
Ben Duerr – vocals on “Dictating Violence”
Luke Griffin – vocals on “Fleshmould”
Tim De Ridder – vocals on “Marked for Destruction”

Album Review – Soul Dissolution / Nowhere EP (2018)

This unstoppable Belgian duo returns with a brand new EP only six months after their latest full-length album, offering the listener 24 minutes of classy extreme music rooted more firmly in the Post-Black territory.

Formed in December 2012 in the city of Brussels, Belgium mostly influenced by bands such as Agalloch, Drudkh, Alcest and the early days of Katatonia, the talented Atmospheric Black Metal duo that goes by the name of Soul Dissolution returns only six months after their critically-acclaimed opus Stardust with a brand new 2-track EP simply titled Nowhere, offering the listener 24 minutes of classy extreme music rooted more firmly in the Post-Black territory, drawing additional inspiration from bands like Harakiri For The Sky, Heretoir and Anomalie while still retaining the core atmosphere, dynamics and melodies from their previous material.

Comprised of Acharan on lead vocals and Jabawock on guitars, bass and additional vocals, Soul Dissolution are one of those underground acts that are not afraid of experimenting with different sounds and nuances, but always true to their origins, and that’s perhaps what makes Nowhere so compelling and vibrant form start to finish. Featuring a grim cover picture taken by Jabawock on a misty morning in the Vosges region in France, and presenting Celestial as their session drummer for the first time (in addition to him being a part of the band’s live lineup), Nowhere will take you on a journey full of epicness and melancholy, all enhanced by the album’s crystal clear overall production, paving an exciting path for Soul Dissolution to keep mesmerizing us all with their music in a not-so-distant future.

Melancholic guitar lines kick off the first of their two “musical voyages”, entitled Road to Nowhere, a lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal where the beats by Celestial are at the same time fierce and delicate while Jabawock slashes his guitar strings majestically, piercing our ears and minds with his whimsical riffs and solos. Furthermore, all elements from Melodic Black Metal found in the musicality bring an extra taste to their core Atmospheric Black Metal, majestically flowing like a wild river, not to mention the song’s captivating lyrics growled by Acharan in a truly anguished manner (“Under the moonlit sky/ Winds carry new words / For songs yet to come to life / Under the moonlit sky / Winds carry my steps / Pushing me forward on my road to nowhere”). Then even more obscure than its predecessor, Fading Darkness presents hints of Blackened Doom and Doom Metal in its core sound, with Soul Dissolution mesmerizing our senses with their deep gnarls, solid string work and precise drumming, bulding the perfect ambience for the poetry flowing from the song’s introspective words (“These thick, black woods / With trails long overgrown / This journey I started many years ago / The last time I saw the sun / This mountain on which I roam / Constantly surrounded by thick fog / Its sinister presence all around / Drains all life therein to be found”).

The full EP is available for a detailed listen on YouTube, and you can show your true support to Soul Dissolution by following them on Facebook, by listening to their music on Spotify, as of course by purchasing Nowhere from their own BandCamp page, from the GS Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, from iTunes or from Discogs. If the music found in Nowhere points to what we can expect from Soul Dissolution in their future releases no one knows for sure, as Acharan and Jabawock love to explore new grounds and nuances, but if there’s one thing we can be certain about is that the duo will keep delivering first-class atmospheric music for our total delight in the coming years, always surprising us in a very positive way and always loyal to their foundations.

Best moments of the album: Road to Nowhere.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 GS Productions

Track listing
1. Road to Nowhere 11:54
2. Fading Darkness 12:25

Band members
Acharan – lead vocals
Jabawock – guitars, bass, additional vocals

Guest musician
Celestial – drums (session)

Album Review – Pantheist / Seeking Infinity (2018)

After almost a decade, this London-based Funeral Doom institution returns to their musical roots with a 60-minute cinematic journey through obscure and atmospheric landscapes.

A pantheist is someone who believes that God and the universe are the same, or in other words, that “All Is God”, as pantheism literally means “God Is All” (pan means all and Theos means God when translated from Greek). Brought to life in the year 2000 in Antwerp, Belgium by vocalist and keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou, but currently based in London, England, the dark and vile Progressive/Funeral Doom Metal entity known as Pantheist, one of the standard bearers of the Funeral Doom sound, is among us to prove that “All is Doom” with their brand new opus entitled Seeking Infinity, their fifth full-length album and their first release in seven years. Seeking Infinity is a 60-minute cinematic journey through Funeral Doom landscapes, a decisive return to Pantheist’s musical roots whilst still incorporating the atmospheric and progressive elements that have become an integral part of their sound over the years.

The long journey leading to the creation of this album started all the way back in the summer of 2012, when Kostas announced to his then band members an outline for a new concept album. A lot of things have changed since then and the concept and sound have evolved dramatically until the creation of the album; however, despite the changes, the philosophy behind this concept album and its singular purpose have remained intact. Recorded, mixed and engineered by drummer Daniel “Dan” Neagoe (Shape of Despair, Clouds) and enhanced with the enchanting artwork of the band’s visual artist Cheryl, the album sounds and looks both modern and familiar, surely to fill with nostalgia fans of old-school traditional Funeral Doom/Death Metal, while also drawing to its mystical sound new followers for the years to come.

An ominous intro named Eye of the Universe keeps growing in intensity, with an eerie and somber narration setting the stage for the sluggish, obscure and visceral Control and Fire, a lesson in Funeral Doom with Kostas sounding demonic with both his deep growls and his phantasmagorical keys, while Dan keeps the rhythm as lugubrious as it can be with his slow and potent beats, being effectively supported by Frank Allain and his slashing riffs, with the music flowing darkly and smoothly until 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones comes crushing with its beyond atmospheric start on the piano, complemented by its cryptic words darkly declaimed by Kostas (“You can run, but you can’t hide from the quiet flow of time / the dark tentacles of fate push you towards your destiny / and when you think you are free to live your life as you please / you’ll find you’re nothing but a pawn of history / There is a fire, a desire in my head / eat my battered body, drink my wasted blood / and tell me endless tales of who I am: / the man who feels inside him that change has come”). Put differently, this is a funeral march of metal music tailored for admirers of the genre, with its second half getting creepy and enigmatic, beautifully exploding into classy Blackened Doom.

Amidst obscure background elements and nuances, the acoustic guitar by guest Pete Benjamin (Voices, Akercocke) kicks off another multi-layered feast of Doom Metal by Pantheist titled 1453: an Empire Crumbles, also showcasing the deep Gregorian chant-inspired vocals by the other guest Andy Koski-Semmens (Syven, Pantheist), offering the listener six minutes of what can be called a Stygian and mesmerizing mass. Then the serene keys by Kostas are the main ingredient in the also slow and dense Emergence, with the low-tuned bass lines by Alexsej creating a menacing ambience in paradox with the delicacy of the piano notes. In other words, Pantheist will crush your senses mercilessly throughout the entire song in the perfect depiction of how visceral and vibrant Doom Metal can be. And lastly we have Seeking Infinity, Reaching Eternity, another deep and full-bodied display of Funeral Doom led by Kostas’ anguished roars and church-like keys, giving life to the song’s imposing, poetic lyrics (“I hear the sound of horns, I see a beast appearing from the sea / it has ten horns and seven heads / looks like a lion, like a leopard it crawls / I stretch out my shaking hand / and touch the body of the dancing Shiva / I want to scream, but I can’t / instead I cry, shake and shiver”), with Dan pounding his drums in perfect sync with Frank’s harmonious and fierce riffs and, therefore, keeping the atmosphere vibrant and thunderous until its climatic finale.

Pantheist are a Funeral Doom institution that’s certainly worth a shot, no doubt about that, and the extremely high quality of the music found in Seeking Infinity is a solid statement that this very talented band is here to stay, living up to the legacy of all classic and old school Doom Metal, Funeral Doom and Blackened Doom bands from all over the world. Having said that, I highly recommend you follow the band on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more details about them and to enjoy more of their music. And, of course, purchase your copy of Seeking Infinity from their own BandCamp or webstore, from The Vynil Division’s BandCamp or webstore, from iTunes or from Discogs, and may the somber and lugubrious sounds and tones blasted by Pantheist permeate your thoughts whenever you visit the darkest corners of your mind.

Best moments of the album: 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones and Emergence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Melancholic Realm Productions

Track listing
1. Eye of the Universe 1:59
2. Control and Fire 11:45
3. 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones 13:13
4. 1453: an Empire Crumbles 6:04
5. Emergence 12:17
6. Seeking Infinity, Reaching Eternity 14:39

Band members
Kostas Panagiotou – vocals, keyboards
Frank Allain – guitars
Aleksej Obradović – bass
Daniel “Dan” Neagoe – drums

Guest musicians
Pete Benjamin – acoustic guitar on “1453: an Empire Crumbles”
Andy Koski-Semmens – vocals on “1453: an Empire Crumbles”

Beverage Review – Iron Maiden’s Hallowed

Hallowed Be Thy Ale.

“I’m waiting in my cold cell, when the bell begins to chime
Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time
Cause at 5 o’clock they take me to the Gallows Pole
The sands of time for me are running low”

British Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden are not only a metal music machine like everyone says, but in the past few years they’ve also mastered the art of craft beer brewing in a beyond fruitful partnership with independent family brewers Robinsons Brewery. Once again, the dynamic duo of Robinsons’ master brewer Martyn Weeks and Iron Maiden’s multi-talented, restless and wild lead vocalist and ale aficionado Bruce Dickinson have teamed up to create something very special for beer and music fans alike, the brand new Belgian style beer Hallowed (available from October 2017 for a limited period of four months according to the band itself), following on from the success of the original Trooper Beer, which has sold over 15 million pints since its launch in 2013, and previous limited edition beers Trooper 666, Trooper light Brigade and Red ‘N’ Black, all part of the already imposing collection of Iron Maiden beers. As a matter of fact, Hallowed is obviously named after Iron Maiden’s all-time classic Hallowed Be Thy Name, from their 1982 cult album The Number of the Beast, and just by that you already know this beer kicks some serious ass.

At 6.0% ABV in a 330 ml bottle, Hallowed is a Belgian inspired beer that’s brewed in England and also one of the first beers to be brewed by Robinsons Brewery that uses Belgian yeast. Furthermore, Robinsons haven’t changed the yeast used in their beers since 1942, which makes Hallowed even more special. “What makes this brew pretty special is that we’re adopting a Belgian yeast for the first time. I’m a big fan of Belgian beers, so I jumped at the chance to brew my own. While I get very excited about experimenting with new formulas and ingredients, the thing about Belgian beer is that it’s as much a way of life as it is a drink. We’ve tried to bottle that philosophy in Hallowed, albeit with a British twist”, explained Bruce. Martyn complemented Bruce’s thoughts by saying that “it’s all in the yeast. Belgian yeast yields a very distinct taste and presentation. You can sniff out a Belgian beer simply from its aromas: fruity, spicy and earthy. Belgian yeasts withstand higher alcohol levels, they attenuate well and create an array of phenolics and esters… put simply, this means more flavour and I think Hallowed drinkers are in for a treat.”

Of medium and malty style, which makes it ideal for a beef stew or cheeses, Hallowed brings vibrant aromas with vanilla, coffee, clove and floral notes, presenting on the palate notes of coffee, toasted malt and biscuit. Moreover, the crystal rye gives this dark amber, almost light brown ale a blood red hue and a smooth dry finish, having a lot of depth in malt character while the light Belgian yeast provides balance to its taste. As a huge fan of Belgian beer, I personally enjoyed a lot savoring my first bottle of Hallowed a few weeks ago, and I’m happy that I bought a few extra ones at LCBO for future occasions. If the original Trooper beer was already recommended for beer lovers (and not for heavy beer drinkers), Hallowed can be considered even more distinguished and gourmet, turning the simple act of drinking beer into a unique and very pleasant experience. Apart from LCBO here in Canada (and keep in mind not every store has it), I don’t know where else you can get Hallowed, as the product is already listed as discontinued on the Robinsons Brewery official website. Well, you should keep trying to find Hallowed in your hometown or by purchasing it online if possible, because it’s totally worth the investment, with one 330 ml bottle of Hallowed costing around 2.90 Canadian Dollars. In the meantime, you can also have some fun online by watching Bruce himself tasting Hallowed HERE, or this short but fun video by United News International where they talked about the release of Hallowed last year.

Beer details
Country: England
Brewer: Robinsons Brewery
Style: Belgian Dark Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 6.00%
Color: Red
Smell: Delicate floral, hints of vanilla & clove
Taste: Malty, Toffee, Caramel
Sweetness: 3 out of 5
Bitterness: 2 out of 5
Contains: Malted barley and wheat
Price: CAD$ 2.90 (1 x Bottle 330 ml)

Album Review – Cult of Erinyes / Tiberivs (2017)

Inspired by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, here comes a ruthless Belgian Ritualistic Black Metal horde with their brand new and utterly fantastic concept album.

One of the most talented and prominent bands of the Extreme Metal independent scene in Europe, Belgian Ritualistic Black Metal horde Cult of Erinyes, is back with their unsparing music in the form of a concept album titled Tiberivs, inspired by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who ruled one of the greatest empires of mankind from 14 AD to 37 AD. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newcomer to the dark world of this Brussels-based band or if you’re already a fan of works such as A Place to Call My Unknown, Blessed Extinction and their latest EP Transcendence, the music found in Tiberivs will leave scathing scars on your skin and poison your blood, leaving you eager for more of the band’s mordant creations.

As commented by the band’s mastermind Corvus, “I always perceived Cult of Erinyes as a portal that allows my mind to connect with different universes. I had, from the very beginning of the creative process, to immerse myself in a definite time period – the Ancient Roman Empire, Tiberius era. Each song, melody, and riff had to refer to a variation of emotions forgotten by time itself. What sounded like a fantastic challenge ended as a nightmare where my subconscious got lost. Desperation, frustration, and madness raised dangerously. This third album is our most progressive effort so far, but also contains radical and intense parts sublimed by Mastema’s urges for ferocity. We both went as far as we could on this album and were lucky to be helped in our task by longtime devoted musicians Algol (bass, additional guitars), Baron (lead guitars, artwork), and Déhà, who handled the drums, some guitars/keys, and the the mix/mastering process. Last but not least, Alex (Kall, Hypothermia, Craft) offered us a five-star bass-line on the intro and Marc DeBacker, my brother in Wolvennest, added some crystal-clear guitar sounds on the end of the album. This album also marked the end of my longtime musical and spiritual journey with Mastema. I can only but respect his decision and salute the energy he shared on Tiberivs. This concept album was his idea, and I’m glad we end our collaboration on this high and digressive note. He will be replaced for future live and recording duties by the most extreme and mentally extreme singer I know, Déhà, who is known for his work with Yhdarl, Maladie, We All Die (Laughing), and shitloads of other good projects. For all those reasons, I will hate and cherish this album. For Centuries To Come.”

In the opening track, titled Archaea, 41 B.C., fires burn amidst some eerie voices and moans, being slowly joined by the band’s atmospheric instrumental and topped off with a narration about how Romans were raised by wolves and that wolves are born to hunt and kill, resulting in a beyond ominous intro to the devastating Nero (Divine Providence), offering the listener the band’s old school Black Metal with their traditional ritualistic twist in the form of a sensational tempest of slashing guitars and blast beats. Moreover, not only Mastema sounds more devilish and brutal than ever, but the song’s frantic sounds are effectively blended with its ambient passages, turning it into a full-bodied blackened experience that’s definitely worth a listen. And in Casvs Belli, which means “an act or situation provoking or justifying war”, we’re treated to an explosion of extreme music with the demonic riffs by Corvus together with Algol and Baron generating a truly belligerent atmosphere, all enhanced by the infernal growls by Mastema and the obscure keys by Corvus.

Bred for War connects instantly and perfectly with the previous song to the point they can even be considered one major composition split in two, with sheer bestiality flowing from the awesome drumming by Déhà. In other words, this is straightforward Black Metal perfect for Corvus and his horde to tell the story proposed in the album; followed by Loner, a song that kicks off like a raging bull, smashing everything through the blast beats by Déhà and the fast and cutting guitars by Corvus, with Algol strengthening the song’s melody with his bass lines. The final result couldn’t sound more amazing, a furious and occult creation by Cult of Erinyes with an excellent job done by Mastema giving life to the song’s dark lyrics. Germanicvs, with its almost 8 minutes of blackened sounds and a demonic aura, keeps up with the foundations of Black Metal, being one of the most obscure and dense of all songs of the album led by the sustained drums by Déhà and spiced up by dark vociferations by Mastema.

An eerie, dark intro ignites another menacing creation by this talented Belgian horde, titled First of Men, a hybrid of Atmospheric and Ritualistic Black Metal with hints of Blackened Doom. Moreover, although it doesn’t show the same fury that emanates from the rest of the album, it’s still essential for the storyline. In Damnatio Memoriae (or “damnation of memory” in English), the music grows in intensity and darkness until after one minute it becomes a feast of Blackened Doom sounds enfolding the demented gnarls by Mastema, remaining rhythmic and dynamic thanks to the excellent job done by Déhà on drums until its thrilling Stygian ending; whereas For Centuries to Come is an 11-minute aria where Corvus showcases all his abilities as a multi-instrumentalist, while Mastema elevates his evil growls and screams to a whole new infernal level. This is by far the most complete and detailed of all songs, with its second half being a work-of-art of extreme music, not to mention its atmospheric elements beautifully complementing the piercing guitar riffs and solos, flowing into a fantastic and climatic conclusion to the album.

In a nutshell, the implacable Cult of Erinyes sounds stronger and more menacing than ever in Tiberivs (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE) and, despite being their ultimate album with the demonic Mastema on vocals, I’m sure the band will still provide us a lot of amazing material like this in the future. Furthermore, this brilliant concept album can be purchased at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Caverna Abismal Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and at the Aural Music Webstore, as well as on iTunes, Amazon and Discogs. The roots to the greatest empire in the history of mankind are deeply connected to the lives of wolves, and there’s nothing better than the austere extreme music by Cult of Erinyes to show you how harsh, ruthless and vicious wolves can be.

Best moments of the album: Nero (Divine Providence), Loner and For Centuries to Come.

Worst moments of the album: First of Men.

Released in 2017 Caverna Abismal Records

Track listing
1. Archaea, 41 B.C. 2:40
2. Nero (Divine Providence) 7:42
3. Casvs Belli 6:24
4. Bred for War 3:52
5. Loner 4:27
6. Germanicvs 7:40
7. First of Men 5:49
8. Damnatio Memoriae 6:04
9. For Centuries to Come 10:59

Band members
Mastema – vocals
Corvus – lead and rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards
Algol – bass, rhythm guitar
Baron – lead guitar
Déhà – drums, additional guitar & keyboards

Guest musicians
Alex – bass on “Archaea, 41 B.C.”
Marc DeBacker – additional guitar on “For Centuries to Come”

Album Review – Bathsheba / Servus (2017)

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises a new Occult Doom Metal entity, bringing endless sadness, pain and anguish with their first full-length opus.

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises Bathsheba, an unholy gathering of four talented musicians hailing from Genk, a city located in the Belgian province of Limburg, aiming at spreading grief and agony all over the world with their first full-length opus, the excellent Servus. Portraying a biblical name and fronted by the stunning she-devil Michelle Nocon (Serpentcult, Leviathan Speaks, Death Penalty), this distinct quartet formed in 2013 brings forth an occult version of Doom Metal intensified by elements from Sludge and Black Metal, resulting in a blackened feast of atmospheric and schizophrenic sounds.

The mystical frontwoman Michelle, together with guitarist Dwight Goossens (Disinterred), bassist Raf Meukens (Death Penalty, Torturerama) and drummer Jelle Stevens (Sardonis), released a demo  tape in October 2014 and shortly after signed to Svart Records, releasing an EP titled The Sleepless Gods in May 2015, which then led the band to participate in important underground festivals such as Doom Over London, DesertFest, Incubate, Dutch Doom Days and Doomed Gatherings. However, it’s with Servus, which features a stylish artwork by Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (Dissolvtion), that the band has reached a new level of wickedness, offering the listener six complex and peculiar songs about struggle, sadness, constant threat and distortion of the mind. In other words, Bathsheba will drag you into the horror of existence under the crushing weight of reality with the doomed music found in Servus.

Somber words work as an intro to the sluggish and obscure tune Conjuration of Fire, with the slow, dirty rhythm carved by Dwight, Raf and Jelle opening the gates of hell for the she-demon Michelle to start mesmerizing us by declaiming the song’s poetic lyrics (“Art of chaos / come over me / I wander endlessly / Are you the One / the One for me / Divided in Earth and Sea”). Furthermore, the second part of the song gets beautifully heavier and more diabolical, turning it into a modern-day witchcraft hymn. Like a tenebrous tempest, Bathsheba come crushing our souls in the boisterous Ain Soph, displaying old school doomed beats by Jelle and whimsical guitars by Dwight. Michelle delivers some deeper, darker vocal lines, while a saxophone creates a gripping paradox with the song’s more extreme Black Metal-inspired sounds. And the somber aura present in both previous songs continues to penetrate our skin in Manifest, where an atmospheric background and the smooth voice by Michelle are slowly joined by the other instruments until the music reaches a fierce Doom Metal stage bursting with melancholy and heaviness. Put differently, this excellent composition will offer you 10 minutes of hopelessness emanating from its sharp riffs, flammable solos and those potent and steady beats only found in old school Doom Metal.

Wandering through a desolated field, Bathsheba fire Demon 13, an awesome Doom and Sludge Metal chant with a demonic vibe showcasing a growing excruciating pain through the rumbling roar by Raf’s bass guitar and the pounding drums by Jelle, with Michelle sounding more menacing and pleasant and the same time. Inspired by the most obscure creations by Black Sabbath, Dwight brings tons of feeling to the music in the slow-paced and melodic composition The Sleepless Gods, while Michelle becomes some sort of enchantress through her vocals; and if you love truly dark sounds, I, at the End of Everything will certainly please your ears, being like a tribal version of Doom Metal displaying Stygian guitar lines in sync with Jelle’s rhythmic beats, not to mention the song’s conjuring lyrics (“And by the virtue of the Highest One / I command Thee / To perfect the Creation / Make me myself again / Universe tremble again / You who is worthy of all praise”). After this song is over, I bet you’ll go back to the beginning of Servus again and again so addictive Michelle’s performance is throughout the entire album, proving how gripping the music by Bathsheba can be.

Servus is already on sale at several locations, such as Bathsheba’s BandCamp or Big Cartel in different formats (CD, LP, CD + shirt package and LP + shirt package), at the Svart Records’ webstore, at Record Shop X, at Discogs, on iTunes or on Amazon. This, my friends, is the sorrowful and eldritch world crafted by this dark entity called Bathsheba, an obscure land where although happiness and peace are not welcome, we’ll indubitably enjoy living in its shadows.

Best moments of the album: Conjuration of Fire and Demon 13.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Svart Records

Track listing
1. Conjuration of Fire 7:34
2. Ain Soph 5:42
3. Manifest 10:33
4. Demon 13 5:45
5. The Sleepless Gods 7:14
6. I, at the End of Everything 8:25

Band members
Michelle Nocon – vocals
Dwight Goossens – guitars
Raf Meukens – bass
Jelle Stevens – drums

Album Review – Circle Of Indifference / Welcome To War (2016)

A solid album by a multi-cultural band that invites us all to go to war to the sound of their sharp Melodic Death Metal.

Rating5

CIRCLE OF INDIFFERENCE - Welcome to War cover artAfter listening to the brand new concept album by Melodic Death Metal band Circle Of Indifference, entitled Welcome To War, you might not believe in what I’m going to say about this interesting project recommended for fans of bands like Death and Carcass. Founded in 2013 by Swedish multi-instrumentalist Dagfinn Övstrud in the city of Hönö, Sweden, and having already released their debut album Shadows of Light, in 2014, Circle Of Indifference are a band where none of its members have ever met in person. I’m not joking. Apart from the band’s mastermind Dagfinn on guitars, bass and additional keyboards, Circle Of Indifference are Brandon L. Polaris on vocals directly from Belgium, Tyler Teeple on lead guitars representing Canada, and Kostas Vassilakis, a member of Progressive Death/Thrash Metal band Infravision, from Greece, on keyboards and drums. They use the Internet to communicate with each other, share their thoughts and ideas, record their separate parts in their respective homes, and everything is put together at the end of the recording process.

And although those four metallers are distant around 12,000km from each other in total, the final result is really good, sounding a lot more organic than many regular bands I know. The concept of the album, which presents the lives of two soldiers in World War II on either side of the conflict, starting from their enlistment at the early stages up until they come face to face during a battle at the end, helped the band members to stay focused and follow the same path while writing their parts of the music. The beautiful and melancholic cover art by Turkish digital artist and musician Aybars Altay, who resides in Germany and has already worked with another one of the bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose (the excellent Norwegian Progressive Death/Black Metal act Maahlas), complements the intensity of the music in Welcome To War, putting a “face” to the story told by Dagfinn and his multi-cultural army.

Without further ado, it’s time to head to the battlefield to the sound of Conscription, bringing forward the heaviness of traditional Death Metal with the modernized atmosphere of Melodic Death Metal, not to mention how perfectly guitar riffs and keyboards complement each other. It’s a bit odd the name of the following song, Einbehrufung (Conscription), is the German translation for the title of the opening track, with its warlike ambience “torturing” the souls of the two main characters. In addition, the growls by Brandon L. Polaris lean towards old school Death Metal, reminding me of the vocals by Johnny Hedlund (Unleashed). Then a gloomy intro kicks off From This I Depart, before the amazing guitars lines by Dagfinn and the progressive drumming by Kostas suddenly fill all spaces in the music, getting more melodic than both previous tracks.

CIRCLE OF INDIFFERENCE band photoThe storyline gets more and more exciting as it progresses, with the kick-ass Menschenmörder (Murderer Of Man), one of the most exciting moments of the album, also presenting a dark intro that evolves to a modern and heavy chant. Furthermore, the guitars by Dagfinn transpire electricity, effectively supporting the song’s lyrics about the torments inside the mind of a soldier (“Inside, a sea of mixed emotions that I still hide / I cannot show them what I really feel / Outside, I wear a mask of brutal terror untied / I cannot show them what I really feel / Inside”). The title-track Welcome To War begins by blasting some loud shots and explosions, giving the sense that we’re in the middle of a battle, with its straightforward Melodic Death Metal sounding working extremely well.  In other words, Circle Of Indifference keep it simple and the final result is awesome, with highlights to the additional layers brought forth by keyboards and backing vocals.

In Kein Entkommen (No Escape), which presents a solid mix of harsh growls and clean vocals, Kostas maintains the energy at a high level with his unstoppable beats, while Tyler, who is beyond superb with all his guitar solos throughout the entire album, might have reached a new level of finesse in this tune. The second to last war anthem by Circle Of Indifference, named Veil Of Despair, offers a more modernized approach than usual, while yet again another great duo of guitars and keyboards lead the musicality. Moreover, Brandon’s voice sounds more polished in this case, maybe due to the song’s sharper sonority, therefore expanding the sonic range of the band. The last track, Ein Akt Der Güte (An Act Of Kindness), is obviously an epic conclusion to the story told so far, with the exciting keyboards by Kostas once again adding fire to the music, as well as the mesmerizing riffs by Dagfinn. The lyrics to the song couldn’t be more realistic, with Brandon declaiming a soldier’s final words full of sorrow and anger (“As I rest against the wall / I take a breath and close my eyes / The British soldier takes my hand / I feel at peace it’s time to die / It’s time to die”).

As previously mentioned, how they managed to be so concise even with each band member being located in distinct parts of the world is beyond my knowledge, but that’s absolutely irrelevant when the final product sounds as compelling as Welcome To War. This is another great example of how heavy music unites us all, no matter where we come from, and if you want to know more about Circle Of Indifference go check their Facebook page, YouTube channel (where the full album is available for a listen) and SoundCloud page, with Welcome To War being on sale at the band’s BandCamp page, on iTunes and on Amazon. I guess their only “problem” right now might be finding a way to get together for live performances, because if there’s one thing that those gigantic distances didn’t stop those guys from doing was creating powerful and dynamic Melodic Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: Menschenmörder (Murderer Of Man), Welcome To War and Ein Akt Der Güte (An Act Of Kindness).

Worst moments of the album: Einbehrufung (Conscription).

Released in 2016 Records Of Indifference

Track listing
1. Conscription 4:33
2. Einbehrufung (Conscription) 5:26
3. From This I Depart 5:35
4. Menschenmörder (Murderer Of Man) 5:05
5. Welcome To War 6:28
6. Kein Entkommen (No Escape) 4:22
7. Veil Of Despair 5:04
8. Ein Akt Der Güte (An Act Of Kindness) 7:45

Band members
Brandon L. Polaris – vocals
Dagfinn Övstrud – guitars, bass, additional keyboards
Tyler Teeple – guitar solos
Kostas Vassilakis – keyboards, drums

Album Review – Cult of Erinyes / Transcendence EP (2016)

High-quality Ritualistic Black Metal blasted by an up-and-coming cult of infernal goddesses that will definitely devastate your mind.

Rating5

CultOfErinyes-EPIn Greek mythology, the Erinyes (also known as Furies) were female chthonic deities of vengeance, sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses”. Having said that, try to imagine what would happen if a cult dedicated to those hellish deities of the underworld decided to converge all their strength and energy into extreme music. The result would be the Ritualistic Black Metal bred by the skillful Belgian act Cult of Erinyes, who are just about to release a 19-minute opus in cassette format (limited to 100 copies) entitled Transcendence.

Hailing from the always pleasant city of Brussels, Belgium, Cult of Erinyes have always been crafting music in seek of the trinity, the purest form of the universe, which ends up providing a particular atmosphere of their sonority that explains the label of “Ritualistic Black Metal”. The band has already released an EP and two full-length albums since their inception in 2009, but in case you have never heard of them before I should say their new EP Transcendence is a highly-recommended option to join their cult. Featuring a distinguished artwork by Business for Satan, from the city of Strasbourg, France, this obscure EP doesn’t need more than its duration to devastate your mind and make you addicted to their eldritch metal music.

Cult of Erinyes come blasting their evil music from the very first second in Degree of Solitude, a solid fusion of raw Black Metal with a heavy and demonic ambience, with its second half becoming a bestial onslaught of Extreme Metal where lead singer Mastema growls like an ancient demon. In the title-track, Transcendence, the band’s mastermind and warlock Corvus fires his evil riffs and thunderous bass lines, while Mastema continues his vocal tribute to evil. This song showcases lots of elements from Doom Metal, Blackened Doom, Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Death Metal, resulting in a demonic composition that will definitely drag you down to the pits of hell.

CultofErinyes_official1And as a sophisticated bonus to admirers of Extreme Metal all over the world, this talented Belgian band offers us their kick-ass cover version for the classic chant Pagan Fears, originally recorded by Mayhem, known as the trailblazers of Norwegian Black Metal and one of the most controversial bands of all time (if not the most controversial one). This is undoubtedly an amazing tribute with the necessary amounts of darkness, despair and violence requested, and in case you want to compare it to the original song you can do that by simply clicking HERE.

To sum up, although Transcendence has only three songs, the quality of the music found in its 19 minutes of brutality and occultism is indeed beyond average, making us all eager for what this cult of infernal goddesses can offer us next. In order to know more about Cult of Erinyes and their high-end Black Metal, go check their Facebook page. And if you truly want to support the underground of extreme music, go purchase Transcendence at the Caverna Abismal Records’ BandCamp page (remember it’s limited to 100 copies only), and relish it while we all wait for another demonic rite by these talented Belgian metallers.

Best moments of the album: Degree of Solitude.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Caverna Abismal Records

Track listing
1. Degree of Solitude 5:46
2. Transcendence 6:40
3. Pagan Fears (Mayhem cover) 6:32

Band members
Mastema – vocals
Corvus – guitar, bass, keyboards
Baal – drums*

*Former member