Album Review – Descend into Despair / Opium (2020)

It’s time to get lost in the musical and lyrical universe developed around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz” by this distinguished Romanian Funeral Doom act.

Founded in 2010 in Rădăuți, Suceava County, in Romania, but currently located in Cluj-Napoca, Cluj County, also in Romania, an idiosyncratic Doom Metal/Funeral Doom entity known as Descend into Despair has been gradually rising from that point into one of the most noteworthy bands in the local scene, fusing together Death, Black and Sludge Metal with Electronica and Dark Ambient elements to further refine what they like to call “Introspective Doom Metal”, pushing creative boundaries and taking pride in experimenting as much as they can. The band currently comprised of Xander Coza on vocals, analogue synthesizer and guitars, Florentin Popa on clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars and field recordings, Dragoș C. and Cosmin Farcău on the guitars, Alex Costin on bass, Flaviu Roșca on keyboards and piano, and Luca Breaz on drums developed a musical and lyrical universe around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz”, a brooding and ever-looming feeling that physical reality can never fully satisfy the demands of the mind. Now in 2020 the band returns with their third full-length opus, simply titled Opium, offering fans of Funeral Doom almost one hour of cryptic and melancholic passages split into three unique compositions, all embraced by a stunning cover artwork conceptualized by Xander himself, featuring model Melinda Nagy, painting by István Bába and bodypaint by Brigitta Adorjan. “Opium’s conceptual driving force is, we believe, fully grasped within this image, blurring the lines between painting and photography. Twisting classical beauty into modern obsession, weaving harmony of proportion into the disharmony of meaning that soaks through the fabric of existence, our Venus rises forth from horror and remembrance, drained by her rebirth, as murky as the sea that bore her,” commented the band about the connection between the concept of the art and the musical content of their newborn opus.

Featuring guest female vocals by Tara Vanflower, an atmospheric and peaceful start slowly and gradually evolves into a lugubrious feast of doom in ensh[r]ine, with the band’s guitarists Dragos and Cosmin meticulously smashing their stringed axes while Luca brings the thunder with his potent beats. Furthermore, Xander sounds like a beast from the pits of hell with his deep guttural gnarls, with the crisp and crystalline background keys and synths by Flaviu adding a touch of finesse to their mournful musicality. In other words, it’s truly impressive how they fill every single space in the air with tons of heaviness but sounding melodic and ethereal at the same time, ending such massive composition in a beyond enfolding way. Then sinister, atmospheric sounds and tones permeate the air in the also extensive, multi-layered and utterly doomed antumbra, where Xander’s gruesome roars get even more introspective and grim accompanied by the sluggish and melancholic beats by Luca, while the raw sounds of the guitars generate a beautiful paradox with all background keys and synths, also presenting several breaks and variations throughout its 17 lugubrious minutes, and once again bringing an orchestral, cinematic vibe until the very end. Lastly, an array of guests doing choir vocals and spoken pieces are one of the main ingredients in the pensive and obscure closing tune dis[re]member, where the delicate piano notes by Flaviu and the slow and steady beats by Luca walk hand in hand in a hypnotizing Doom Metal voyage. It’s by far the most intricate and the darkest of all three songs, with Dragos, Cosmin and Alex bringing an otherworldly vibe to the music with their sonic weapons, not to mention the breathtaking final act showcasing grim spoken words, crisp guitars and infernal roars amidst a perturbing sense of hopelessness.

In summary, if you can’t live without your daily dosage of Funeral Doom, then this excellent album made in Romania is exactly what you need to fulfill your darkest needs. Hence, don’t forget to show your true support to the guys from Descend into Despair by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and above all that, by purchasing Opium (which is also available in full on YouTube and on Spotify) from Funere’s Bandcamp page, or go to DistroKid for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mixed by Indee Rehal Sagoo in London, UK, and mastered by Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios in Birmingham, UK, Opium will certainly please all admirers of the most introspective and funereal side of Doom Metal, leaving a scathing mark in the hearts of those who dare to venture through the album’s 59 minutes of sheer obscurity, solitude and sorrow.

Best moments of the album: dis[re]member.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Funere

Track listing
1. ensh[r]ine 22:27
2. antumbra 17:08
3. dis[re]member 19:54

Band members
Xander Coza – vocals, analogue synthesizer, guitars
Florentin Popa – clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars, field recordings
Dragoș C. – guitars
Cosmin Farcău – guitars
Alex Costin – bass
Flaviu Roșca – keyboards, piano
Luca Breaz – drums, choir vocals on “dis[re]member”

Guest musicians
Tara Vanflower  – female vocals on “ensh[r]ine”
Irina Movileanu & Eva Breaz – choir vocals on “dis[re]member”
Bogdan Neciu & Răzvan Târnovan – spoken words on “dis[re]member”

Album Review – Tristwood / Blackcrowned Majesty (2020)

Behold the final part of a saga about the return of a legendary ruler named Ar’ath to Ma’haxul through the eyes of an infernal Industrial Black and Death Metal band from Austria.

Blasting their venomous hybrid of Avantgarde, Black, Death and Industrial Metal with Grindcore nuances (being even labeled Blackened Grindcore by some fans and critics) since their inception in 2001 in the city of Linz, Austria, the cryptic entity known as Tristwood is ready to raise some hell with their fifth full-length opus entitled Blackcrowned Majesty, a musical journey led via Nihilist, early Bathory, Oxiplegatz, Morbid Angel, Hellhammer, Skinny Puppy and Killing Joke into the world of the real underground of the rough 80’s and early 90’s. Representing the final part of a saga about the return of a legendary ruler named Ar’ath to Ma’haxul, born out of pure blackness and disaster, the album describes in a musical way how she flows to the north after her destruction and is crowned again by her faithful. The album art, created in the summer of 2019 in the Alps by Ani van Sunnjurck, is the basis and building block of the story, showing the anti-hero Rauthra and hinting at his outer appearance as well as his quest from northern shores to the interior of the country to join Ar’ath. Comprised of Deimon on vocals, synths and flute, Jegger on vocals and guitars, Neru on guitars, backing vocals and synths, JD on bass and fretless bass solos, and HMG on drums, Tristwood are on fire throughout the almost 40 minutes of music found in Blackcrowned Majesty, uniting a very entertaining concept with their usual musical madness and rage.

Arising from the underworld like evil creatures of darkness, Tristwood begin blasting their fusion of industrial, electronic and extreme music in Re-Enthronement Of The Damned, bringing forward an infernal sound masterfully crafted by all band members, with HMG being beyond pulverizing on drums while Deimon and Jegger keep growling like true demons. In the heavier and more caustic He Who Traversed A Greater Oblivion, the scorching riffs by Jegger and Neru will pierce your ears mercilessly in a frantic and chaotic fusion of Industrial and Black Metal, whereas wicked, uncanny sounds ignite the electro-dark title-track A Blackcrowned Majesty, before all hell breaks loose in another hellish extravaganza by Tristwood. Moreover, the background synths and keys by Deimon and Neru add a touch of dementia to the music, while JD simply hammers his metallic bass nonstop. And it’s time to bang our heads like maniacs to the obscure and futuristic Her Wraith Through Stygonian Lands, where Deimon and Jegger are once again berserk on vocals, supported by the classic beats by HMG and the venom and acid flowing from the band’s stylish guitar riffs.

The quintet keeps smashing our skulls in The Hall Of Rauthra´s Fate, a vicious fusion of Black and Industrial Metal presenting machine gun-like blast beats, razor-edged riffs and demonic gnarls and roars, sounding as dark and grim as it can be from start to finish; and there’s no sign of Tristwood slowing down at all as they continue to fill every single space in the air with sheer darkness, hatred and lunacy in Acherontic Deathcult, with the whimsical keys and synths by Deimon and Neru bringing a welcome balance to their sonic havoc. Then inhumane, desperate screams are potentialized by the band’s high-octane guitars and drums in the visceral Bone Cathedral, a lesson in contemporary Industrial Extreme Metal by Tristwood, not to mention how thunderous the bass by JD sounds during the entire song, followed by the Stygian and captivating Nightshade Eternal, the epic finale to the saga of Rauthra, where the sick and deranged harsh growls by Deimon and Jegger are effectively spiced up by all background elements and the always pounding beats by HMG, flowing smoothly and infernally until its abrupt and somber ending.

Will Rauthra join the Nightshade? All you need to do to have the answer to that question is listening to Blackcrowned Majesty in full, and in order to do that simply go to Tristwood’s official BandCamp page, where you can obviously purchase your copy of the album and show your support to such talented Austrian band. In addition, don’t forget to give the guys from Tristwood a shout on their Facebook page, where you can get more details about the band, their future releases and tour dates. In summary, Tristwood undoubtedly reinvented themselves in Blackcrowned Majesty, adding another solid stone to their ever-growing castle of Industrial Black and Death Metal with such multi-layered and distinguished concept album and, consequently, paving a promising path for those Austrian veterans who know how to make some reverberating and loud noise when armed with their weapons of sonic destruction.

Best moments of the album: He Who Traversed A Greater Oblivion, Her Wraith Through Stygonian Lands and The Hall Of Rauthra´s Fate.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Re-Enthronement Of The Damned 4:16
2. He Who Traversed A Greater Oblivion 4:23
3. A Blackcrowned Majesty 5:18
4. Her Wraith Through Stygonian Lands 4:54
5. The Hall Of Rauthra´s Fate 4:08
6. Acherontic Deathcult 4:24
7. Bone Cathedral 4:24
8. Nightshade Eternal 6:16

Band members
Deimon – vocals, synths, flute
Jegger – vocals, guitars
Neru – guitars, backing vocals, synths
JD – bass, fretless bass solos
HMG – drums

Album Review – Creptum / VAMA (2020)

An unrelenting horde hailing from Brazil is ready to distill their raw, unfiltered Black Metal armed with their sulfurous new opus.

Formed in the already distant year of 2001 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil under the name Nekros with the sole objective of distilling Black Metal in its rawest aspect, an obscure Black Metal entity currently known as Creptum has just unleashed upon humanity their sophomore effort entitled VAMA, the follow-up to their 2016 debut opus Of Lies, Curses and Blood and their 2017 EP Reborn in Flames. Produced by Marcos Cerutti and featuring a blood-red artwork by Brazilian designer Raphael Grizilli, VAMA will certainly please all diehard fans of the old school Black Metal blasted by renowned acts such as Marduk, Gorgoroth, Sarcófago and Dark Funeral, among others, showcasing all the talent and obscurity by the band’s renewed lineup featuring vocalist and guitarist Nebro, guitarist T. Aversvs, bassist Corvo and drummer Animus Atra, positioning such distinct horde as one of the most interesting names of the underground Brazilian scene.

Animus Atra begins hammering his drums vigorously accompanied by the Black Metal riffage by Nebro and T. Aversvs in the opening aria Earth, while Nebro barks like a rabid beast nonstop, also bringing an ominous aura from Atmospheric Black Metal, whereas sounding more enraged, heavier and more demonic, the band goes full Black Metal in Reborn in Darkness, tailored for fans of the scorching music by Marduk and Darkthrone, with Nebro and T. Aversvs once again slashing our ears with their blasphemous riffs supported by the low-tuned, menacing bass by Corvus. Then strident guitar lines permeate the air in the also venomous 156, a hard-hitting, metallic extravaganza led by the band’s infernal kitchen of Corvus and Animus Atra, living up to the legacy of classic Black Metal infused with melodic nuances, followed by The Moon Above, bringing forward cryptic words vociferated by Nebro (“I hear the pounding of drums / My bones shiver with their sound / And I feel my heart, I feel my heart racing / I feel the dirt beneath my feet, / The transmutation of black moon above me / I feel the heat of the battles / That are now happening within”) while his bandmates keep the ambience as dense, ominous and electrifying as possible.

The title-track VAMA is another Stygian composition where the entire band adds hints of Doom Metal to their already sulfurous Black Metal, with Animus Atra alternating between vicious blast beats and sluggish, phantasmagorical passages, sounding utterly detailed and captivating from start to finish; and the acoustic instrumental tune Kundaliní gives us a few moments of introspection and peace before all hell breaks loose in Revolution Within, a disruptive onrush of Black Metal sounds spearheaded by Animus Atra and his demented drums, with Nebro growling deeply and rabidly while Corvo is unstoppable with her wicked bass punches. Creptum don’t stop darkening the skies and our souls with their imposing and epic Black Metal sonority in Devouring Mother, sounding as if Immortal and Mayhem had a bastard son while the gruesome gnarls by Nebro penetrate deep inside your psyche, until the closing tune On My Skin brings to our ears a few brief moments of serenity before the quartet crushes our skulls one last time with their heavy-as-hell sound, presenting a neck-breaking rhythm led by Animus Atra’s classic beats.

This fantastic display of South American Black Metal can be appreciated in full on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support and admiration for this Brazilian horde you should definitely purchase VAMA from their own BandCamp page, from the Drakker Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow Creptum on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their incendiary music, consequently proving you’re a true disciple of the underworld. VAMA is not just another album of Black Metal, but a bold statement by a band that is fully dedicated to such obscure subgenre of heavy music, and above that, to show Brazil can also be an excellent source of the most extreme type of music you can think of.

Best moments of the album: Reborn in Darkness, VAMA and Devouring Mother.

Worst moments of the album: Earth.

Released in 2020 Drakkar Productions

Track listing
1. Earth 4:48
2. Reborn in Darkness 5:00
3. 156 4:52
4. The Moon Above 3:35
5. VAMA 5:59
6. Kundaliní 3:39
7. Revolution Within 3:35
8. Devouring Mother 4:48
9. On My Skin 4:31

Band members
Nebro – vocals, guitar
T. Aversvs – guitar, bass
Corvo – bass
Animus Atra – drums

Guest musician
Tanatos – additional vocals
Deimous Nefus – guitar

Album Review – Kult Mogił / Torn Away the Remains of Dasein (2020)

An unrelenting Polish entity returns with their sophomore full-length opus, presenting a new sound directed towards classic Death Metal from the 90’s.

Almost three years after the release of the EP Portentaque, Tarnów, Lesser Poland-based Blackened Death Metal entity Kult Mogił is back from the pits of the underworld with a brand new full-length album entitled Torn Away the Remains of Dasein, presenting to the listener a new line-up and, more important than that, a new energy and sound directed towards a more classic Death Metal style from the 90’s when compared to their debut full-length opus Anxiety Never Descending. Mixed and mastered at Satanic Audio by Haldor Grunberg and featuring a stylish cover artwork by Polish artist Sars (Gruzja, Odraza), Torn Away the Remains of Dasein reeks of pure violence from start to finish, showcasing all the talent and passion for extreme music by lead singer and bassist Deimos, guitarists Rzulty and Thisworld Outof, and drummer The Rays. “Instead of following trends of fashionable playing, we’re heading in the opposite direction, going back to the roots of death metal even more than before. This is our most essential recording, devoid of layers of sludge and other popular additions from previous releases. We want the new songs, stripped of these ornaments, to defend themselves with strong, load-bearing riffs. This album is 100% devoid of the desire to be avant-garde or experimental. We are destroying the previously developed formula so that we can on its ruins pay homage to the classics of the genre,” commented the band about their vicious new album.

And the opening track Hunger of Pride is the perfect depiction of this new version of Kult Mogił, sounding and feeling absolutely ominous, disruptive and violent from the very first second, with Rzulty and Thisworld Outof showing no mercy for our souls with their infernal riffage while Deimos roars and growls rabidly, resulting in a putrid Death Metal feast infused with Black Metal nuances. Then wicked sounds ignite another awesome display of brutality titled White.Death.Implosion, where The Rays sounds vile and demented on drums by blasting sheer havoc through his beats, therefore providing his bandmates all they need to shine with their venomous growls and sick riffs and solos, and not giving us a single second to breathe, the quartet fires the also hellish Blackened Death Metal tune Torment of Dasein, bringing to our ears pure savagery flowing from all instruments, with Deimos doing a fantastic job with both his guttural vocals and his menacing bass punches. In Idols in Blood we’re treated to an austere onrush of Black and Death Metal sounds spearheaded by the rhythmic and groovy beats by The Rays, while Rzulty and Thisworld Outof don’t stop extracting razor-edged riffs from their axes, reminding me of the total darkness of the early days of their countrymen Behemoth, whereas in A Wax Reverie the band adds hints of Doom Metal to their already otherworldly sonority, smashing our skulls once again and blending the gore of bands like Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under with their own share of dementia. And lastly, the rumbling bass by Deimos ignites the closing tune Fountain of Affliction, where the band’s guitar duo fires an endless amount of sulfur and rage from their stringed weapons while The Rays sounds like a bulldozer on drums, ending the album on an utterly obscure and aggressive note.

In case you’re not familiar with the music by Kult Mogił, I highly recommended you go take a good listen at their previous releases before listening to Torn Away the Remains of Dasein in full on YouTube to have a clear understanding of the musical evolution explained by the band until reaching their current shape and form, showing that the adjustments they made to their sound were more than welcome and spot-on, therefore pointing to a bright future to such obscure unity hailing from Poland. In addition, don’t forget to give the guys from Kult Mogił a shout on Facebook, and to grab your copy of Torn Away the Remains of Dasein from the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page or from their webstore in CD, black LP or red LP formats. After such pulverizing album, I wonder if Kult Mogił will continue to venture through even more classic Death Metal lands, if they’ll succumb to the darker side of Black and Doom Metal, or if they’ll simply merge all of their influences and all those styles into something new and fresh. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter what the final result is, as long as they keep bringing forth amazing records like Torn Away the Remains of Dasein we can rest assured the underground Polish scene will remain alive, vibrant and as brutal as it can be.

Best moments of the album: White.Death.Implosion and Idols in Blood.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. Hunger of Pride 5:43
2. White.Death.Implosion 4:57
3. Torment of Dasein 6:33
4. Idols in Blood 4:38
5. A Wax Reverie 6:24
6. Fountain of Affliction 5:37

Band members
Deimos – vocals, bass
Rzulty – guitars
Thisworld Outof – guitars
The Rays – drums

Album Review – Zebadiah Crowe / Host Rider (2020)

An infernal British duo returns after almost eight excruciating years of silence with the utmost sound of violence, horror, darkness, filth and savagery in their brand new opus.

Almost eight years after the release of their sophomore album Omak K’aah, a beyond infernal British duo that goes by the curious name of Zebadiah Crowe returns from the pits of the underworld with more of their incendiary hybrid of Black, Thrash and Industrial Metal with Grindcore nuances in their brand new opus entitled Host Rider, a new tome of foulness and fractured sanity featuring seven new psalms of wild abandon and dangerous delirium. Formed in 2006 in London, UK, the duo comprised of The Horrid on vocals, bass and drum programming and Forrrthen on the guitars sounds sharper and more caustic than ever in their newborn spawn, bringing forth the sound of violent punk attitude, suffocating black horror, gothic darkness, mechanistic filth and the savagery of the most vicious outliers of thrash, being highly recommended for admirers of the distinguished terror blasted by renowned acts such as Venom, Ministry, Mantar and Babylon Whores, leaving you broken and destroying your senses without a single drop of mercy.

Imposing, epic sounds explode into a venomous fusion of Black and Industrial Metal in the amazing opening track Knucklebones, where the dirty, scorching riffs by Forrrthen provide The Horrid exactly what he needs to thrive with his wicked gnarls, whereas the thunderous and metallic bass by The Horrid takes the lead in the pulverizing A Tincture of Malic, a song that will undoubtedly inspire you to slam into the circle pit together with this talented unity from hell. Moreover, although the drums might be programmed, they actually sound very organic and evil, giving the whole album an extra touch of rawness. And there’s no time to breathe at all as they keep hammering our heads with their frantic and industrialized sounds in Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin, reminding me of some of the most vicious creations by Ministry, with The Horrid going full Black Metal with his vile screams while Forrrthen keeps slashing his stringed ax manically.

In The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief we’re treated to more of their blackened music, with the programmed drums working really well once again while the duo smashes their guitar and bass mercilessly, even bringing hints of Punk Rock to its core mechanized essence. Slightly groovier and more visceral than its predecessors, A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men is an underground lesson in savagery and dementia where Forrrthen’s riffage sounds bestial from start to finish, not to mention the trademark enraged roars by The Horrid, while in Godblind and Destitute they once again blend the heaviness of Black Metal with the violence of Thrash Metal and the metallic noises of industrial music, keeping the album’s electricity flowing at an insane speed. Lastly, closing such short but utterly extreme and malignant album we have Wormhavens Dance, where Zebadiah Crowe fire tons of rage and darkness through their razor-edged instruments, all spearheaded by The Horrid’s demonic screams and at the same time spiced up by futuristic background elements.

If you think you have what it takes to face Zebadiah Crowe and the anthems of horror and perversion found in their new album Host Rider, you should definitely follow them on Facebook to know more about this distinct entity hailing from the UK, including their tour dates and upcoming releases, but of course in order to show them you’re a creature of the dark just like The Horrid and Forrrthen themselves, you should purchase your copy of Host Rider from their own BandCamp page. No one knows if Zebadiah Crowe will take another long and excruciating eight years to bring to our ears a new sonic beast the likes of Host Rider, but for now let’s not worry about that, as we do have their new album to enjoy, letting their piercing, austere sounds penetrate deep inside our psyche, therefore dragging us to the world of horrors and dementia ruled by one of the most talented duos of the underground British scene.

Best moments of the album: Knucklebones, Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin and A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men.

Worst moments of the album: A Tincture of Malic.

Released in 2020 Lore Breaker Records

Track listing
1. Knucklebones 4:17
2. A Tincture of Malic 2:58
3. Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin 3:13
4. The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief 3:44
5. A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men 3:40
6. Godblind and Destitute 3:50
7. Wormhavens Dance 3:45

Band members
The Horrid – vocals, bass, drum programming
Forrrthen – guitars

Album Review – Mazikeen / The Solace of Death (2020)

A beastly album of Symphonic Death and Black Metal from Australia that proves death can be comforting when enfolded by first-class extreme music.

What started in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia as a solo project by guitarist Andrew Shiells with the help from Chris Meyer (from Australian Black Metal act Aberration Nexus), who recorded some drums and synths for the project’s first demo tracks, has evolved to a much bolder and multi-layered beast in recent years, blasting a crushing hybrid of Symphonic Death and Black Metal with other extreme styles such as Melodic Death Metal and old school Black Metal. I’m talking about Mazikeen (based on the Hebrew word “mazzikim”, meaning “harmful spirits”), an infernal horde comprised of the aforementioned Andrew Shiells and his henchmen James Edmeades (Claret Ash) on vocals, Kris Marchant on the guitars, Aretstikapha (Plasmodium, Klavierkrieger) on piano and synths, and Marco Pitrruzzella (Six Feet Under, Sleep Terror) on drums, who are unleashing upon us their first full-length opus titled The Solace of Death, featuring eight original songs and four insane cover tracks throughout impressive 67 minutes of music, all embraced by the stylish and sinister artwork by Australian artist Jamie Ludbrooke.

An eerie, phantasmagorical intro evolves into a feast of symphonic and dark sounds in the opening track The Solace Of Death, where Marco is absolutely infernal with his blast beats while James delivers his Dani Filth/Shagrath-inspired roars and gnarls, supported by the imposing synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha, whereas in Apostate it’s time for ten minutes of Symphonic Black Metal infused with Doom and Melodic Death Metal nuances where the guitars by Kris and Andrew sound sharp and very harmonious just the way we like it in extreme music. Brutal and enthralling form start to finish, this great composition lives up to the legacy of bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Carpathian Forest, which can also be said about Vexation Through The Golden Sun, even more obscure, violent and epic than its predecessors, spearheaded by the insane drums by Marco while his bandmates make sure every empty space in the air is filled with darkness and evil, resulting in a lecture in modern-day Symphonic Black Metal full of breaks and variations, Stygian passages and even some serene, acoustic moments for our total delight. And featuring guest vocals by Josh Young (Astral Winter, Atra Vetosus), Mazikeen go full Scandinavian Black Metal in Fractricide, inspired by the trailblazers of the genre such as Mayhem and Emperor, blasting a demolishing sonority that will make your head tremble nonstop.

Josh returns with his wicked gnarls in the melancholic and somber Psychotic Reign, starting in a Gothic Metal-ish vibe while also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal in its core essence. Moreover, I personally love the paradox created between Marco’s stone crushing beats and all background keys and symphonic elements, giving the whole song and extra touch of eccentricity, flowing into the cryptic and atmospheric instrumental bridge Harrowing Cessation, which also develops into a romantic instrumental ballad entitled MORS VINCIT OMNIA, or “death conquers all” from Latin, where the strength and depth of the piano notes take the lead and guide the music until its inevitable and grim ending. And in the last original song from the album, Cerulean Last Night, Mazikeen get back to a more ferocious and visceral mode, uniting the most piercing elements from old school Black Metal and contemporary Symphonic Black Metal spiced up by the visceral guest vocals by Ian McLean (The Maledict).

The last batch of songs in The Solace of Death is the band’s own tribute to their biggest idols and influences, starting with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, originally released in the 1994 cult album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (check the original version HERE), with Mazikeen’s version featuring the vicious vocals by guest Ashahalasin (Inhuman Remnants, Somnium Nox) infernally complemented by the pulverizing drums by Marco, followed by Disection’s Night’s Blood, from the 1995 album Storm of the Light’s Bane, as bestial as the original song with Kris and Andrew delivering sheer electricity and rage through their scorching riffs. Then we have a cover for Dimmu Borgir’s Mourning Palace, from the 1997 album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (you can listen to the original one HERE), where James does a fantastic job on vocals accompanied by the whimsical keys and synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha. And finally, Ashahalasin returns for their cover song for Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger, from the 1994 album Transilvanian Hunger, as raw and malevolent as the original tune, with Marco once again taking the lead firing endless dementia and wrath from his blast beats.

You can enjoy this precious gem of Australian Black Metal in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and also grab your copy of the album from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from the Iron, Blood & Death Corporation’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music, or click HERE for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mazikeen can also be found on Facebook, where you can know more about the band, their tour dates, their music and plans for the future, proudly carrying the flag of Black Metal wherever they go. In a nutshell, Andrew and his horde from Mazikeen nailed it in The Solace of Death, showing us all that death can be indeed comforting, especially if enfolded by a good amount of first-class Black Metal like the sonic devastation blasted by such distinct band hailing from the always inspiring Australia.

Best moments of the album: Vexation Through The Golden Sun, Fractricide and Night’s Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Harrowing Cessation.

Released in 2020 Satanath Records/Iron, Blood & Death Corporation

Track listing
1. The Solace Of Death 6:57
2. Apostate 10:05
3. Vexation Through The Golden Sun 10:46
4. Fractricide 4:54
5. Psychotic Reign 7:00
6. Harrowing Cessation 2:30
7. MORS VINCIT OMNIA 2:59
8. Cerulean Last Night 7:34
9. Freezing Moon (Mayhem cover) 6:36
10. Night’s Blood (Dissection cover) 7:10
11. Mourning Palace (Dimmu Borgir cover) 5:36
12. Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone cover) 5:36

Band members
James Edmeades – vocals
Kris Marchant – guitars
Andrew Shiells – guitars, synths
Aretstikapha – piano, synths
Marco Pitrruzzella – drums

Guest musicians
Josh Young – vocals on “Fractricide” and “Psychotic Reign”
Ian McLean – vocals on “Cerulean Last Night”
Ashahalasin – vocals on “Freezing Moon” and “Transilvanian Hunger”

Album Review – Re-Armed / Ignis Aeternum (2020)

A modern, melodic and entertaining album of heavy music about positivity, about constant change and seeing life as it is in every level, directly from Finland into your heart and soul.

Mixing their trademark Melodic Death Metal with classic Death and Thrash Metal and symphonic influences in order to bring to the scene a more vibrant and modern sound, Kerava, Finland-based unity Re-Armed has been on a constant evolution since their inception in 2001, moving from what’s usually known as the Gothenburg sound to their current shape and form, culminating with the release of their brand new album Ignis Aeternum, the fourth full-length opus in their solid career. Produced and recorded at Studio UG and mixed at ShedStudios in Kerava,  mastered at Audiamond in Niinikoski, Finland, and featuring a caustic and grim artwork by Brazilian artist Romulo Dias, Ignis Aeternum is about positivity, about constant change and seeing life as it is in every level. It is a trip, a breathtaking view about life’s diversity, and an ode to life, all embraced by the slashing metal music blasted by frontman Jouni Matilainen, guitarists Allan Välimaa and Oskari Niekka, bassist Juhana Heinonen and drummer Iiro Karjalainen with tons of precision, dexterity and feeling, just the way we like it in Melodic Death Metal.

It’s time to put the pedal to the metal together with the guys from Re-Armed in the epic and insurgent Dive Within, with Iiro sounding absolutely bestial on drums, providing his bandmates all they need to kick some serious ass with their respective sonic weapons, spiced up by a beautiful ending featuring a stanza taken from Eino Leino’s poem “Hymni Tulelle”. Then we’re treated to more of the melodic and electrifying sounds crafted by the quintet in Beyond the Horizon, sounding futuristic and extremely sharp while Allan and Oskari fire some Arch Enemy-inspired riffs accompanied by the whimsical keys by guest Sami Tiittanen; and the rumbling bass jabs by Juhana kick off the vibrant Melodic Death Metal extravaganza titled Ode to Life, featuring guest guitarist Euge Valovirta (CyHra, Godsplague), a song perfect for breaking your neck headbanging where their razor-edged guitars are nicely complemented by all epic background elements.

Gentle piano notes quickly explode into violent and atmospheric Melodic Metal in Eager to Collapse, with Iiro and Juhana bringing thunder and groove to the music while Jouni keeps vociferating rabidly, whereas Resistance is even darker and more epic than its predecessors, led by the vile riffage by Allan and Oskari while their bandmates add an extra touch of progressiveness, rage and heaviness to the overall result, inspiring us all to slam into the circle pit. Spiced up by futuristic background keys and tones, the band offers the thrilling The Hollow Lights, blending their trademark Melodic Death Metal with the most venomous elements from Death and Thrash Metal, flowing majestically until its climatic ending, while in Remain Unbounded the band’s guitar duo shreds their strings mercilessly until Iiro comes crushing with his Black Metal-inspired beats, keeping the song at a high level of violence and alternating between vicious, high-speed moments and more intricate, mid-tempo passages.

Get ready to bang your heads like there’s no tomorrow with Re-Armed in Words Left Unsaid, where the bass punches by Juhana will make your skull tremble while Jouni’s growls and roars sound as heavy as hell from start to finish. Following this vicious onrush of sounds the band brings forward Voyager, another solid composition showcasing all their talent and passion for Scandinavian metal, with Jouni and guest vocalist Micko Hell (Denigrate, Gloomy Grim) making a thrilling metallic duet on vocals while Iiro once again shines with his spot-on drumming. Lastly, Re-Armed conclude such great album of heavy music with another sample of their endless energy and firepower in the form of Built to Last, where Allan and Oskari are in absolute sync with Sami’s keys, therefore building the perfect setting for Jouni to thrive with his wicked gnarls until the song end’s in sheer melancholy.

In order to show your utmost support to those talented metallers from the land of ice and snow, simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel and search for them on Spotify for more of their music, and above all that, purchase your favorite version of Ignis Aeternum from several locations such as the Black Lion Records’ BandCamp page and Big Cartel, from Record Shop X, from the EMP store, from IndieMerchstore or from Apple Music. The title of the album translates from Latin as “eternal fire”, and there’s nothing better to represent life as a fire that never ceases to exist no matter what, giving the entire album an even stronger meaning and purpose and, consequently, keeping Re-Armed’s inner fire also burning for many years to come in their homeland and anywhere else where modern and captivating metal music is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Dive Within, Ode to Life and The Hollow Lights.

Worst moments of the album: Eager to Collapse.

Released in 2020 Black Lion Productions

Track listing
1. Dive Within 4:31
2. Beyond the Horizon 5:12
3. Ode to Life 4:10
4. Eager to Collapse 3:47
5. Resistance 4:34
6. The Hollow Lights 4:27
7. Remain Unbounded 5:17
8. Words Left Unsaid 4:37
9. Voyager 5:22
10. Built to Last 4:57

Band members
Jouni Matilainen – lead vocals
Allan Välimaa – guitars
Oskari Niekka – guitars, backing vocals
Juhana Heinonen – bass, backing vocals
Iiro Karjalainen – drums

Guest musicians
Euge Valovirta – guitars on “Ode to Life”
Micko Hell – additional vocals on “Voyager”
Sami Tiittanen – keyboards
Aapo Salo – orchestra, symphonic arrangements

Album Review – Nexion / Seven Oracles (2020)

Behold the indomitable seven-headed best of Black Metal summoned by an up-and-coming, infernal horde hailing from Iceland.

The nature of existence and human value and meaning are central themes in every religion, every spirituality and countless philosophies. It is thus fitting that Reykjavík, Iceland-based Black Metal horde Nexion’s first full-length opus, entitled Seven Oracles, concerns itself with these subjects, working as a revelatory “proclamation” of mythic proportions. Formed in 2016, the band comprised of Joshua Hróðgeir Rood on vocals, Jóhannes Smári Smárason and Óskar Rúnarsson o the guitars, Kári Pálsson on bass and Sigurður Jakobsson on drums offers in the follow-up to their 2017 self-titled EP a collection of the seven “oracles”, with each one addressing the nature of existence from a different angle, revealing and tearing away upheld “truths” like the serpent who gnaws the roots of Yggdrasil. Each song is a dagger, each chord is poison, and each utterance is fire, destroying the receiver’s sense of existential belief until there is nothing left. Mixed and mastered at Studio Emissary in Iceland, and featuring a cryptic artwork by José Gabriel Alegría Sabogal portraying a seven-headed beast appearing before a figure who offers it up a libation in exchange for wisdom within a self-conflating world, Seven Oracles has everything we love in extreme music, leaving us all completely disoriented after its 46 minutes of scorching and austere music are over.

Arising from the depths of the underworld, this Icelandic horde generates a Stygian wall of sounds in the title-track Seven Oracles, exploding into a raw and vile sonority led by Sigurður’s infernal drums while Joshua roars like a true demonic entity, not to mention the strident riffage by the band’s guitar duo, building an instant bridge to the also occult and ritualistic extravaganza titled Revelation of Unbeing, bringing elements from Blackened Doom and Doom Metal to make the overall result even more uncanny, with Jóhannes, Óskar and Kári being on absolute fire with their stringed weapons from start to finish. Then we have Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds, a lesson in modern-day Black Metal made in Iceland that’s even more disturbing and grim than its predecessors, spearheaded by Joshua and his Death Metal-inspired growls and also presenting the trademark epicness of Scandinavian Black Metal; and there’s no time to breather as those ruthless metallers blast another sulfurous aria entitled Sanctum Amentiae, where the razor-edged riffs by both Jóhannes and Óskar are in perfect sync with the rhythmic, pounding beats by Sigurður.

In the fantastic and fulminating Utterances of Broken Throats the entire band hammers their instruments mercilessly, bringing to our ears a piercing and dense hybrid of classic Black Metal and contemporary Melodic Black Metal, or in other words, get ready to be utterly stunned and smashed by those talented marauders. And the tribal beats by Sigurður are gradually accompanied by the hellish guitar lines by Jóhannes and Óskar until all hell breaks loose in The Spirit of Black Breath, another feast of Icelandic Black Metal that will put you in a darkened trance throughout its over six minutes of devilish sounds and tones, followed by the climatic closing aria The Last Messiah, named after the eponymous book The Last Messiah, in honor of Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zappfe, sounding as demolishing and detailed as all previous songs from such intense album of extreme music. Furthermore, Joshua’s growls get deeper and more berserk as the music progresses, all embraced by crisp guitar riffs, rumbling bass punches and a gargantuan amount of evil and obscurity for our vulgar delectation.

This seven-headed best of Black Metal summoned by Nexion is waiting for you at the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page or at the Sound Cave’s webstore in different formats such as the regular digipak CD version or the awesome orange/black marble LP + shirt bundle, and you can also get to know more about such distinct act of the underground Black Metal scene by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by listening to more of their music on Spotify. This is Icelandic Black Metal at its finest, and we must all thank Nexion for bringing to us all mere mortals such breathtaking and compelling display of extreme music, setting the bar really high for the band’s five evil minds in the upcoming releases, always sounding sulfurous, always extreme, and above all that, always loyal to the foundations of Black Metal and to their Scandinavian roots.

Best moments of the album: Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds and Utterances of Broken Throats.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Seven Oracles 6:22
2. Revelation of Unbeing 5:35
3. Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds 5:52
4. Sanctum Amentiae 6:05
5. Utterances of Broken Throats 7:08
6. The Spirit of Black Breath 6:25
7. The Last Messiah 9:05

Band members
Joshua Hróðgeir Rood – vocals
Jóhannes Smári Smárason – guitar
Óskar Rúnarsson – guitar
Kári Pálsson – bass
Sigurður Jakobsson – drums

Album Review – Ruadh / The Rock of the Clyde (2020)

Open your heart and join musician and songwriter Tom Perrett in his Atmospheric Black Metal journey through the Iron Ages in Scotland.

Drawing from the vast well of history, culture and mythology, Glasgow, Scotland’s own musician and songwriter Tom Perrett set out to compose music purely to taste with his Atmospheric Black Metal solo-project Ruadh (which is pronounced ‘Roo-Ah’ and translates to ‘red’), creating an unmistakable atmosphere with the beating heart of old school Black Metal favourites of his since the project’s inception in 2018, such as Windir, Bathory, Burzum and others, which should also appeal to fans of Saor, Winterfylleth, Panopticon and similar acts. Hailing from Rutherglen (also known as the red glen) in the central belt of Scotland, Tom and his very special guests Cieti on female vocals, Kimberly Copland on bass and Philip Morrison on drums are unleashing upon us all Ruadh’s sophomore album The Rock of the Clyde, an evolution from their 2019 debut album Sovereign presenting six tracks of epic Scottish Atmospheric Black Metal with Folk elements, taking you through the Iron Ages in Scotland and also exploring the history and mythology of the people of Scotland, conveying both sorrow and uplifting, almost heroic tones, all embraced by the delicate and enthralling artwork by Joan Llopis Doménech Illustrations.

Tom and his bandmates don’t waste a single second and fill every single space in the air with crisp, dark and atmospheric sounds in Embers, where Tom fires some deep guttural roars accompanied by Philip’s classic, steady beats and Cieti’s delicate vocals in a 10-minute sonic voyage alternating between heavier moments and an enfolding and whimsical vibe, not to mention the amazing job done by our brave Scottish warrior with his strident guitar riffs. After a fantastic welcome card like that, a ritualistic intro kicks off the title-track The Rock Of The Clyde, morphing into an Atmospheric Folk and Black Metal extravaganza where Kimberly and Philip generate a bold and groovy base for Tom and his soulful riffs and solos, as well as his potent clean vocals, also bringing to our ears acoustic passages and endless melancholy before finally exploding into a visceral fusion of traditional Folk and Black Metal. And in Winters Light the band continues to pave their dark and introspective path, with Kimberly delivering thunderous bass jabs together with the blast beats by Philip while Tom is once again on absolute fire with his growling, his riffage and all background elements found throughout the song’s inspiring nine minutes of music.

Fields Of Heather is another lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal made in Scotland going full Black Metal at times, with all band members generating a classy and piercing sonority with their sonic weapons, sounding at the same time violent, rebellious and epic, and with Tom’s riffs and Kimberly’s bass walking hand in hand it doesn’t matter the speed of the music. Then acoustic and serene sounds and tones permeate the air in Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 1), a very personal and gentle creation by Tom heightening our senses and warming up our hearts for the second part of this beautiful aria, Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 2), where a murder of ravens in fugue follows Tom and his dense and captivating music, uniting the heaviness and darkness of Black and Death Metal with more atmospheric and ethereal sounds while Philip dictates the rhythm and Tom barks rabidly as usual, flowing majestically until the song’s grand finale and, consequently, putting a stunning conclusion to such vibrant voyage through Scottish lands.

You don’t need to travel all the way to Scotland to join Tom and his Ruadh in their quest for Atmospheric Black Metal, as all you need to do is follow the project on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about his music, his goals and his music, and above all that, grab your copy of The Rock of the Clyde directly from Ruadh’s own BandCamp page, from the Northern Silence Productions’ BandCamp page, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy and stream the album. Massive in both scope and scale, The Rock of the Clyde will feature among the best Atmospheric Black Metal albums of the year without a shadow of a doubt, proving not only that Tom is thoroughly connected to his Scottish roots, but also that underground metal music always sounds more compelling and vibrant when its made of Scottish iron.

Best moments of the album: The Rock Of The Clyde and Fields Of Heather.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Northern Silence Productions

Track listing
1. Embers 10:01
2. The Rock Of The Clyde 10:20
3. Winters Light 9:01
4. Fields Of Heather 10:56
5. Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 1) 4:44
6. Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 2) 8:54

Band members
Tom Perrett – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
Cieti – female vocals
Kimberly Copland – bass
Philip Morrison – drums