Album Review – Dö / Astral Death Cult (2019)

Saluting the great forces of nature and the void that surrounds us, Finland’s own riff-praising, cosmos-worshiping metal unity returns with another round of their raw northern “döömer”.

Hail Cosmos! We’re all döömed!

Helsinki’s own riff-praising, cosmos-worshiping trio of doom, the infamous and heavy-as-hell unity known as , is ready to stimulate and distort our senses once again with what they like to call “döömer” in their brand new opus entitled Astral Death Cult. And if you have absolutely no idea of what “döömer” means, let’s say it’s simply dark astral energy masterfully compressed by our beloved sonic triumvirate comprised of Deaf Hank on vocals and bass, Big Dog on the guitar and Joe E. Deliverance on drums into a unique northern mix of stoner, doom, sludge and psychedelic elements with hints of Death and Black Metal. Or is this still too complicated for your terrestrial mind?

Astral Death Cult is the second full-length album released by Dö and their fifth release since the band’s inception in 2013 in “Hellsinki”, following the path of reverberating sounds and distortions paved in their previous releases, those being their debut self-tiled EP from 2014, the EP Den from 2015, their first full-length installment Tuho from 2016, and the EP Astral: Death/Birth from 2017. However, while their core essence remained intact through the years, with all albums being recorded live to get the genuine dynamics of the trio on each track, the lyrical themes have evolved from mysticism, misanthropy and anti-religiousness towards saluting the great forces of nature and the void that surrounds us, matching their musical direction flawlessly and, consequently, providing the listener a truly unique experience while listening to the album’s 36 minutes of pure “dööm”.

Joe’s funereal beats kick off the three-minute invitation to emptiness and obscurity titled Intergalacticlude, where the bass by Deaf Hank sounds as dirty and raw as it can be, also bringing to our ears and minds somber vociferations and a menacing aura. After such killer start we have the superb Atmosfear, which kicks off in a truly Stygian, atmospheric way before Deaf Hank begins exhaling evil and fear through his bass and raspy vocals, exploding into ass-kicking Doom and Sludge Metal for our total delight. Just break your damned neck headbanging to this visceral hymn, while Big Dog’s Black Sabbath-inspired demonic riffs add an extra touch of evil to the music. And the pounding drums by Joe together with Deaf Hank’s malevolent bass take the lead in Drifting (In a Methane Ocean), showcasing over nine minutes of sluggish passages, a grey ambience, endless heaviness, and desperate vocalizations amidst embracing, minimalist guitar lines, smashing our heads ruthlessly. Put differently, this is exactly what happens when distortion, harmony and heaviness unite in the name of doom.

Their astral journey goes on in the also pulverizing Cosmic Communion, bringing elements from Experimental and Progressive Metal to their already multi-layered sound. I simply love the rumbling sounds Deaf Hank blasts from his bass while Big Dog keeps shredding his strings beautifully, turning it into the perfect soundtrack to a futuristic slasher flick as they keep jamming like there’s no tomorrow. Planet Eater couldn’t have started in a more menacing way, representing the epitome of old school Doom and Stoner Metal. Big Dog is on fire with his riffs and solos, while Deaf Hank barks and roars nonstop, and let me tell you their synchronicity with their stringed weapons is amazing, complemented by Joe’s slow and potent beats. And lastly, never letting the level of energy, rage and distortions go down they offer us the groovy and dark Beyond the Cosmic Horizon, where its bass and drums will make your brain tremble. Deaf Hank’s anguish gnarls get darker and darker as the music progresses, with the soulful solo by Big Dog being the icing on the cake in this excellent closing tune.

This precious gem of doom, or maybe I should just start writing “dööm” all the time from now on, can be relished in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your absolute support to Finland’s meanest and most demented trio you can purchase the album from their official BandCamp, from the Dust & Bones Records webstore, from the Lay Bare Recordings webstore, form Apple Music or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their raw and classy music, because as you’re all already aware of, we’re all “döömed” in this rotten and decaying world, and there’s nothing we can do about that apart from banging our heads and raising our horns together with Deaf Hank, Big Dog and Joe E. Deliverance until our inevitable end.

Best moments of the album: Atmosfear and Cosmic Communion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Lay Bare Recordings/Mercyful Tapes

Track listing
1. Intergalacticlude 3:11
2. Atmosfear 5:50
3. Drifting (In a Methane Ocean) 9:18
4. Cosmic Communion 6:11
5. Planet Eater 5:43
6. Beyond the Cosmic Horizon 5:55

Band members
Deaf Hank – vocals, bass
Big Dog – guitar, backing vocals
Joe E. Deliverance – drums, backing vocals

Advertisements

Album Review – +MROME+ / Leech Ghetto (2019)

Back from the very depths of the underworld, this unrelenting Polish entity is ready to crush our senses once again with their unique and scorching fusion of Black and Death Metal.

Poland’s own Black and Death Metal entity +MROME+ is back from the very depths of the underworld once again to crush our senses with the unique and scorching music found in their brand new album, curiously entitled Leech Ghetto. Furthermore, as already expected (or not), the new opus by +MROME+, who are now a trio with the addition of bassist LV’s, joining lead singer and guitarist Key V and drummer P in their quest for heavy music, is completely different from their 2016 album Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell, yet still maintaining the band’s core essence and heaviness intact, working as a new start and keeping the band’s unpredictability as high as possible just the way we like it. Add to all that the wicked guest vocals by Ataman Tolovy (from Polish Experimental Black Metal band Túrin Turambar) in a couple of songs, and there you have an excellent DYI album highly recommended for anyone in pursuit of innovative and obscure metal music.

And Key V’s guitar ignites the engines of the opening track titled The Rogue, a mid-tempo, dark tune perfect for breaking your neck headbanging, also presenting a very welcome thrashing twist that makes it truly incendiary. Then ominous riffs and beats permeate the air in Born Old, which sounds like a hybrid of the music by Obituary, Exodus and Celtic Frost, just to name a few (and to show you how insane it sounds), with P being very precise with his drums, delivering aggressiveness and intricacy and, therefore, being tailored for fans of 80’s and 90’s heavy music; whereas in Anti-Ant Entante the band ventures through more rockin’ lands, with Key V’s raspy roars and razor-edged riffs piercing your soul mercilessly while LV’s and P keep the ambience thunderous with their respective bass and drums.

Led by LV’s metallic bass, The City of Opax offers our ears a significantly different start from all previous songs, sounding melancholic and grim and evolving into a very introspective tune, proving once again how wide the band’s range is when crafting their music. Featuring the aforementioned Ataman Tolovy on guest vocals, the stylish Coffin Nail is a feast of demented sounds as if Faith No More went Death or Thrash Metal, showcasing steady beats, wicked gnarls and a feeling of insanity as its main ingredients, and the trio continues to extract Stygian sounds form their instruments in Detroit Daze, especially LV’s with his groovy jabs, bringing elements from Progressive Metal to their already multi-layered music. Not only that, all of its changes and variations turn it into a very pleasant musical journey that will certainly smash your mind in the best way possible.

Ataman Tolovy returns in Twarz Niezawisła (“an independent face” from Polish), perhaps the most obscure and atmospheric of all songs, blending the thunder from Doom Metal with alternative and experimental music, followed by Bellies Grow, and let me tell you that the second to last blast of insanity by +MROME+ sounds and feels it was taken straight from the 80’s while having a futuristic touch at the same time, as if The Misfits and Motörhead had a bastard son. Do you understand now how multi-layered their music is? Anyway, Key V’s riffs dictate the rhythm in this distinguished tune, while P doesn’t stop pounding his drums for our total delight. And LV’s and his rumbling bass kick off the closing tune Primordial Soup, bringing forward slashing guitars, in-your-face, straightforward beats and aggressive vocals, flowing darkly until its venomous ending. Can this song be added to the official soundtrack of a Tarantino movie, please?

In a nutshell, +MROME+’s Leech Ghetto, which will really soon (aka later this week) be available on Spotify for a full listen and on the band’s own BandCamp page for purchase, continues to pave the band’s path of madness while sounding fresh and distinct from their previous releases as already mentioned, leaving us all disoriented and eager for more of their music in the coming years. We just can’t predict at all what Key V and his bandmates have in mind for their next album, but again that’s the beauty of their music and I truly hope they never change while they keep always changing (if that makes any sense to you).

Best moments of the album: The Rogue, Coffin Nail and Detroit Daze.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 NRA

Track listing
1. The Rogue 5:11
2. Born Old 4:22
3. Anti-Ant Entante 3:56
4. The City of Opax 4:30
5. Coffin Nail 3:47
6. Detroit Daze 3:31
7. Twarz Niezawisła 3:56
8. Bellies Grow 4:03
9. Primordial Soup 5:38

Band members
Key V – vocals, guitar
LV’s – bass
P – drums

Guest musician
Ataman Tolovy – guest vocals on “Coffin Nail” and “Twarz Niezawisła”

Album Review – Tableau Mort / Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion (2019)

A spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection in the form of atmospheric and emotional Black Metal.

Drawing on symbolic and thematic influences from Romanian Orthodox Christianity, Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, the debut album by British Black Metal horde Tableau Mort, is a spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection, which is often a path to madness. Recorded and produced by Jerry Sadowski and George Topor, mixed and mastered by Neil Haynes at Parlour Studios, and featuring a beyond obscure artwork by Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Design), Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion will bring to your ears a truly atmospheric and emotional sound that is both melodic and melancholic, also mixing Orthodox chanting with frenzied screams to expand on the band’s macabre foundations.

Formed in 2017 in London, the band comprised of veteran musicians of the underground scene (all of Romanian origin), those being James Andrews on lead vocals, George Topor on the guitar, keys and backing vocals, Cristian Giurgiu also on the guitar, Marek Basista on bass and George Bratosin on drums and backing vocals, might describe themselves as a Black Metal band, but there are in fact a lot more aspects and layers to their sound, resulting in the modern and powerful music found in Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion. Not only that, the band also invests heavily on their onstage performance and attire, proving those servants of the dark are more than prepared to spread their blasphemous message all over the world no matter who their enemies are.

Darkness is already upon us in the melodic and boisterous opening track Impending Corruption, where atmospheric keys complement the slashing riffs by George Topor and Cristian while James leads the horde with his fiendish gnarls and screeches. After such ominous start it’s time for Fall of Man and its darkly poetic lyrics (“And I find in your face, a most unfamiliar maze / I gaze at the sky as the colour bleeds out of space / In this moment of grief I light myself ablaze”), a Black Metal mass with hints of classic Blackened Doom (which obviously makes it even more menacing) where George Bratosin sounds extremely precise and brutal at the same time on drums. And it seems Tableau Mort want to get darker and darker as the album progresses, just like what we’re able to witness in Carpenter Of Sorrow, with Marek’s low-tune, devilish bass lines building a thunderous base for James to thrive with his unearthly roars; whereas Broken On The Wheel is a sonic mass of Stygian and venomous sounds where George Topor and Cristian are absolutely infernal with their guitars, while George Bratosin alternates between blast beats and doomed, intricate passages for our vulgar delectation.

Leaning towards classic Norwegian Black Metal, the band offers us an explosion of the most aggressive and obscure sounds you can think of in Tapestry Sewn, where James and George Bratosin sound utterly demonic on vocals and drums, respectively, and also bringing the most obscure elements from old school Doom Metal, therefore being prohibited for the lighthearted.  The band’s guitar duo keep crushing their sulfurous strings in Mother’s Promise while Marek and George Bratosin make the earth tremble with their weapons, inspiring us all to bang our heads and raise our horns to this ode to all things evil. Last but not least, a gargantuan amount of heaviness flows from all instruments in Beyond His Gaze, reeking of despair and insanity and showcasing captivating, poetic lyrics (“In Every blade of grass that shoots from the ground / The animals that graze, the parasites that feed / The rays of the sun that penetrate the darkness / The breeze that carries the rain”). Furthermore, the beyond demonic growling by James adds an extra touch of malignancy to this devilish aria, putting a climatic ending to such astounding album.

Tableau Mort’s lecture in Romanian Orthodox Christianity in the form of somber and disturbing Black Metal can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to those UK metallers simply follow them on Facebook and purchase your copy of Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion from Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webstore, as well as from Apple Music, Amazon or Discogs. Tableau Mort are definitely pinning the entire UK on the worldwide map of Black Metal with their music, and based on their skills, passion for heavy music and creativity, they have the potential to become one of the references of the genre in the coming years, leaving their mark already upon humanity with Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, and leaving us eager for more of their cryptic creations.

Best moments of the album: Fall of Man and Tapestry Sewn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. Impending Corruption 4:32
2. Fall of Man 6:17
3. Carpenter Of Sorrow 4:37
4. Broken On The Wheel 4:55
5. Tapestry Sewn 5:02
6. Mother’s Promise 4:41
7. Beyond His Gaze 6:18

Band members
James Andrews – lead vocals
George Topor – guitar, keys, backing vocals
Cristian Giurgiu – guitar
Marek Basista – bass
George Bratosin – drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Sathamel / Horror Vacui (2019)

A seething cauldron of fire and blood in the form of Blackened Death Metal made in the UK, feeding the primal fear that writhes in our souls.

Is there anything more terrifying to the human mind than the void? Is it not the emptiness that lies beyond our last breath that props up all our dreams of heaven? That’s what a Black/Death Metal band formed in 2012 in Leeds, a city in the northern English county of Yorkshire, under the name Sheol, but currently known as Sathamel, is going to tell us all in their brand new album entitled Horror Vacui, a concept in art that is approximately translated from Latin to “fear of empty spaces”, continuing the path of darkness from their previous releases after a two-year hiatus while creating a more cohesive sound, and with the title applied in a more literal sense in terms of the void felt while the entity that is Sathamel had halted all activity.

Mixed and mastered by Samuel Turbitt at Ritual Sound Studios, Horror Vacui is a seething cauldron of fire and blood, a declaration of war, an edict of domination and a sentence of death, all embraced by the fulminating and devilish sounds blasted by Sathamel’s brand new lineup comprised of vocalist Kruk, guitarists KVN and Cygnus, bassist Nadir and drummer Reykr, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the scorching music by Hate, Behemoth, Deicide and Marduk. Each song in Horror Vacui carries that touch of darkness from beyond the world and feeds the primal fear that writhes in our souls, powerfully representing all your fears unleashed in an unrelenting firestorm of terror.

In the opening tune Libera Me, a cinematic intro will enfold you in darkness until the music reaches a devilish level led by Kruk’s enraged roars, growing into modern-day Black Metal showcasing scorching riffs by KVN and Cygnus and the infernal blast beats by Reykr. Needless to say, this is not recommended for the lighthearted, being effectively spiced up by phantasmagorical background sounds and vocalizations. The title-track Horror Vacui is brutal and blasphemous in the vein of Behemoth, with its dense and sulfuric instrumental penetrating deep inside your skin while you can enjoy dark poetry flowing form its lyrics (“Together as one / A carrion beast and tyrant’s fist / to consume the stars with purest joy / and to feed on covenants of creation / I create a masterpiece of horror and ecstasy / My canvas – your hollow smile / The front line expands under mastro’s hands / Universe bends to painter’s will”); and it’s time for total devastation with Sathamel in Raise Flame From Ash, an explosion of Blackened Death Metal where the vocals by Kruk sound as bestial and deep as they can be, with a venomous stench reeking in the air during its two and a half minutes of darkened sounds smashing your brain mercilessly.

KVN and Cygnus, supported by the rumbling bass by Nadir, dictate the rhythm in A New Age Of Lycanthropy, a neck-breaking, malevolent tune presenting all elements we love in extreme music, including a truly obscure and evil aura, whereas in The Devil’s Hand we’re treated to another onrush of demonic words (“Alive but intimate in death / Like maggots we nest / Nest in dead flesh / Alive but dependant on death / Like red fields we blossom embracing the dead”) while the music is beyond infernal, bringing to our ears flammable riffs by the band’s guitar duo and an intricate drumming by Reykr to give the whole song an extra kick. Then Kruk growls and gnarls like a beast from the underworld in Whispers Of A Husk, where the vicious beats by Reykr will crack your skull mercilessly in a lesson in technique and obscurity in the name of Black Metal.

Blazing guitars ignite the also hellish Świt, a cult-like, headbanging hymn crafted by the band, with Nadir extracting sheer thunder from his bass while the background choir makes the whole song more epic and imposing, not to mention how Kruk’s vocals remind me of Unleashed’s own Johnny Hedlund. There’s no time to breathe as Sathamel keep haunting our souls with their fiendish Blackened Death Metal in There Where Is No Time, not as complex and vibrant as the rest of the album but still presenting the band’s characteristic riffage and harsh vocals, and you better get ready for almost eight minutes of virulent and Stygian sounds in Of Spilled Wine And Broken Glass, more rhythmic than all previous songs and full of breaks and variations, but obviously still unleashing pure evil on us, ending in a twisted and obscure way.

If your heart is as dark as the music by Sathamel, and if you do not fear being trapped for all eternity in the void, you can follow the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and grab your copy of such otherworldly album, which by the way is available in full on Spotify, from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Sathamel’s onrush of darkness and void will leave you completely disoriented from start to finish, proving once and for all there’s nothing better than some first-class Blackened Death Metal hailing from our beloved United Kingdom to feed all of our inner demons and fears.

Best moments of the album: Horror Vacui, Raise Flame From Ash and Whispers Of A Husk.

Worst moments of the album: There Where Is No Time.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Libera Me 5:51
2. Horror Vacui 4:32
3. Raise Flame From Ash 2:38
4. A New Age Of Lycanthropy 4:20
5. The Devil’s Hand 3:55
6. Whispers Of A Husk 3:48
7. Świt 3:55
8. There Where Is No Time 3:53
9. Of Spilled Wine And Broken Glass 7:41

Band members
Kruk – vocal
KVN – guitar
Cygnus- guitar
Nadir – bass
Reykr – drums

Album Review – Gorebringer / A Craving For Flesh (2019)

A gory fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more extreme styles blasted by a bloodthirsty trio from the UK, eviscerating your ears and minds ruthlessly.

Proudly carrying the flag of Melodic Death Metal everywhere they go, but always venturing through more aggressive and gory lands, London, England-based triumvirate Gorebringer has just unleashed upon us their debut full-length opus entitled A Craving For Flesh, highly recommended for admirers of the fusion of speed, violence and melody blasted by bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and At The Gates. Formed in 2017 by vocalist Blööd Wörm (also known as Gorebringer himself), guitarist and bassist Stench, and drummer Carrion, Gorebringer offer in A Craving For Flesh everything we love in traditional Swedish Melodic Death Metal, but of course with their own British (and utterly putrid) twist. Mixed and mastered by TsunTsun Productions, and featuring a demonic, parasite-inspired artwork by Kumislizer Design, A Craving For Flesh will eviscerate your ears and mind ruthlessly, showing Gorebringer are not among us to make new friends, but instead to pulverize us with their bloodthirsty onrush of sounds.

An ominous intro featuring the dark keys by guest B.ulugüney ignites the demolishing The Fog, where Carrion showcases all his technique and fury from the very first beat while Blööd Wörm’s hellish gnarls sound a lot more Black Metal than Melodic Death Metal, therefore bringing a humongous amount of obscurity to the music. Then deep guttural growls and nonstop blast beats permeate the air in Meatporn, showcasing classic Death Metal-like lyrics (“Rotten breath fills the air / As the eyes rolling back, / Sweat drops on smelly-sexy / Corpse of your beloved one.”), as well as some sick Carcass-inspired riffs and solos and demented bass punches powerfully delivered by Stench; and it’s time to slam into the circle pit to the high-octane and extremely vile Rivers Of Blood, with its strident, metallic guitars adding more balance to the overall devastation brought forth by the trio, resulting in a lesson in modern Melodic Death Metal with a truly devilish vibe.

In My Sweet Knife, a crisp and austere fusion of Melodic and Blackened Death Metal tailored for admirers of the darkest forms of metal music, we’re treated to over four minutes of nonstop action where the vocals by Blööd Wörm overflow adrenaline and rage, whereas in The Cabin a movie-inspired beginning evolves into a to a dark, raw and neck-breaking sonic extravaganza where Carrion is absolutely precise and violent on drums, with the overall musicality flirting with classic Black Metal at times. And back to a more Arch Enemy/Carcass-inspired mode, the trio fires sheer hatred and madness in Shattered Sanity, with Stench continuing to slash his strings mercilessly while the infernal roars by Blööd Wörm get even more piercing and menacing than before.

Bloodsoaked Chapel is a sonic havoc blending the most visceral elements from Melodic Death Metal and modern-day Hardcore where its bass couldn’t sound more metallic, also presenting demented, controversial lyrics (“Oh sodomized slaves of my mine / Stop whining, surrender and have fun / My rage will grow faster, darker / Digging your holes is my absolute pleasure / Your flesh is my most precious toy / Your skin decorates my den perfectly”). After such high level of aggressiveness, the trio slows things down a bit and offers us a darker, more introspective composition titled The Hollow, clearly inspired by the music by Arch Enemy. It’s not that this is a bad song, but in my humble opinion Gorebringer sound a lot more cohesive and vibrant when they play at the speed of light. Lastly, Carrion accelerates the band’s wicked pace in the closing tune, the instrumental beast named The Restless Forest, once again flirting with Melodic Black Metal, while Stench gives a lecture in electricity and groove with his guitar shredding and bass jabs.

I’m pretty sure the guys from Gorebringer are beyond satisfied with the outcome of their collective efforts in A Craving For Flesh (available for a full listen on YouTube), and they definitely should be, as their debut album is indeed an amazing work of contemporary Melodic Death Metal infused with the goriest elements from traditional Death Metal the likes of Cannibal Corpse. Hence, if you want to show your true support to this talented trio from the UK, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to purchase your copy of A Craving For Flesh from the Gate Of The Silver Key Records’ BandCamp page or from Discogs, helping Gorebringer spread their visceral, acid and absolutely sanguinary creations to the four corner of our rotten and evil world.

Best moments of the album: Meatporn, Rivers Of Blood and Bloodsoaked Chapel.

Worst moments of the album: The Hollow.

Released in 2019 Gate Of The Silver Key Records

Track listing
1. The Fog 5:54
2. Meatporn 3:17
3. Rivers Of Blood 3:46
4. My Sweet Knife 4:34
5. The Cabin 6:29
6. Shattered Sanity 4:42
7. Bloodsoaked Chapel 3:30
8. The Hollow 4:30
9. The Restless Forest 4:41

Band members
Blööd Wörm – vocals
Stench – guitars, bass
Carrion – drums

Guest musician
B.ulugüney – keyboards

Album Review – Sophist / Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (2019)

Inspired by some of the greatest names of the Black Metal and Grindcore scene, this Canadian duo is ready to disturb our peace of mind with their unholy and blistering fast creations.

soph·ist·ry
/ˈsäfəstrē/
noun
the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

Conjured in June of 2019 in the city of Edmonton, capital of the Canadian province of Alberta, Black Metal/Grindcore duo Sophist has put their blackened hearts and souls into the making of their debut EP entitled Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto, a frantic blend of extreme styles inspired by bands such as Anaal Nathrakh, Mayhem and Napalm Death in order to create a sound that is unholy as it is blistering fast. Both veterans in the local music scene, Michael Sparks (bass, guitars) and Davis Hay (vocals, programming) kept the writing process fairly simple, with Davis defining the drums and song structure followed by Michael’s overlay of bass and guitar. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Davis himself, and featuring an obscure artwork by Unexpected Specter, Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto deals with the esoteric and the occult, with much of the inspiration for the lyrics on the album coming from an alchemical text called Hermaphrodite Child of the Sun and Moon (which you can find available in full HERE).

Musically speaking, Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto is a feast of violent and blasphemous sounds, as already mentioned, with the title-track Betrothal to the Stone: Conception of Mephisto​ exploding into raw, obscure Black Metal after a short and creepy intro. Moreover, Davis roars and gnarls manically while Michael shreds his guitar chords nonstop in this lesson in bestiality, reminding me of truly old school Mayhem. Faster and more demented, Choke on Your Own Bile is infused with Grindcore and Hardcore elements, with Davis and Michael extracting pure hatred from their instruments. Not only that, albeit the drums are programmed, they do sound really organic, bringing even more ferocity to the music. Then get ready for total anarchy in the form of visceral Black Metal blasted by the Canadian duo in A Captive of Saturn’s Scythe, where the insanity flowing from their riffs and beats is perfect for Davis to keep vociferating like a demon, inviting us all to slam into the circle pit with them. And as a beyond special and interesting bonus, the duo offers us the instrumental versions of all three songs of the EP, showcasing the same rage and heaviness but obviously without Davis’ demonic growls.

If you enjoy exploring the darkest pits of extreme music and are addicted to the most visceral and unholy forms of Black Metal available out there, then Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto will undoubtedly satisfy your cravings. Hence, go show your support to Sophist and to underground Black Metal in general by following the duo on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and by purchasing their flammable debut EP from their own BandCamp page or from other locations like Apple Music. And, of course, this is just the beginning for Sophist, as I’m pretty sure Davis and Michael will return with more of their razor-edged, blasphemous creations in a not-so-distant future, carving their names even deeper onto the darkened walls of Canadian extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Choke on Your Own Bile.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Betrothal to the Stone: Conception of Mephisto​ 3:16
2. Choke on Your Own Bile 5:10
3. A Captive of Saturn’s Scythe 2:53

Bonus tracks
4. Betrothal to the Stone: Conception of Mephisto​ (Instrumental version) 3:16
5. Choke on Your Own Bile (Instrumental version) 5:10
6. A Captive of Saturn’s Scythe (Instrumental version) 2:53

Band members
Davis Hay – vocals, programming
Michael Sparks – bass, guitars

Album Review – The Promise Of Plague / The Tomb Of Lost Lovers (2019)

The debut album by this American quartet is an obscure fusion of black, industrial, punk and electronic, and you’ll simply love this style known as “Electro Black”.

Featuring members and ex-members of bands like Abominant, Fatal Step, Astrum Empyrean Asunder, Absence of Faith, Märcoda and Assisting Sorrow, the Louisville, Kentucky-based four-piece Industrial Black Metal entity known as The Promise Of Plague is back in 2019 with their debut full-length opus entitled The Tomb Of Lost Lovers, a huge step forward for the band in terms of creativity, strength and overall sound production compared to their 2016 demo Sleepwalking Into Armageddon. Comprised of Jim Higgins and Ashley Vega on vocals, Jerry Barksdale on guitars, keys and programming, and Chris Dalton on bass, The Promise Of Plague play an obscure and piercing fusion of Black and Industrial Metal infused with Punk Rock and electronic elements, or as some people like to say, they play a fairly new style called “Electro Black”.

And their Electro Black becomes already crystal clear in the opening track You Became My Noose, ignited by cutting guitars and electronic beats intertwined with whimsical keys, with Jim alternating between demonic roars and clean, anguished vocals and also presenting symphonic nuances in the background as a welcome add-on. Tim keeps gnarling in great Black Metal fashion in The Quiet, while Jerry slashes his guitar and Ashley brings some finesse to the music with her vocals in a short and sweet display of modern Industrial Black Metal; followed by These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown, where its imposing and rockin’ vibe reminds me of the primeval days of the unparalleled Cradle of Filth. Furthermore, Jerry and Chris are ruthless with their stringed weapons, while Jim and Ashley make an amazing duet once again exhaling anger, passion, melancholy and darkness from their vocal lines, sounding at the same time furious and doomed. And what can I say about their cover version for Venom’s Warhead? It’s just as raw and infernal as the original one released in 1984 (check it out HERE), showcasing a great job done by Jerry with his scorching hot riffs and the hints of Doom Metal added to the musicality to make it more demonic.

Then leaning towards the classic Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost we have Insolent, sounding and feeling considerably different from the previous songs of the album and presenting another spot-on performance by both Jim and Ashley on vocals. In other words, it’s dark, heavy and damned, ending in the most melancholic and beautiful manner you can think of. Chris’ low-tuned bass lines fill every empty space in the somber Mine Is A Place Called Hell, where Ashley’s clean vocals make a very interesting paradox with Jim’s hellish screeches in what’s perhaps the most electronic of all songs, perfectly depicting what Electro Black is all about. And lastly, the title-track Tomb Of Lost Lovers is a rumbling and dancing hybrid of classic Black Metal with electronic music, with Jerry bringing tons of epicness with his keys. Not only that, it should work really well at a dark electro party, with all band members delivering sheer aggression and electricity form their respective instruments.

I guess after reading this humble review of The Tomb Of Lost Lovers you got really curious about what Electro Black is, right? If your answer is yes, go check what The Promise Of Plague are up to on their official Facebook page, and grab your copy of the album directly from the band’s own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, The Promise Of Plague might not be reinventing the wheel with their fusion of metal and non-metal styles, but they have certainly unleashed an interesting and entertaining beast of heaviness, fury and darkness with their debut album, pointing to a very healthy future for the quartet and, who knows, inspiring more underground musicians who are starting their careers in heavy music to venture through the realms of Electro Black, a subgenre of metal that will never go mainstream without any doubt, and we’ll always love it that way.

Best moments of the album: These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown and Insolent.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. You Became My Noose 3:54
2. The Quiet 1:53
3. These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown 4:38
4. Warhead (Venom cover) 3:03
5. Insolent 5:44
6. Mine Is A Place Called Hell 3:18
7. Tomb Of Lost Lovers 3:50

Band members
Jim Higgins – vocals
Ashley Vega – vocals
Jerry Barksdale – guitar, keys, electronics
Chris Dalton – bass

Album Review – Waldgeflüster / Mondscheinsonaten (2019)

The perfect soundtrack for those crystalline winter, woodland walks, courtesy of a Bavarian heathen horde armed with their Folk-drenched Black Metal.

There’s nowhere like Germany in winter time. The forests, the castles, the markets and the “gluhwein” (a type of mulled wine from German-speaking countries made from red wine with cinnamon and other herbs and spices), all offer solace for the wandering winter soul, as well as the music as you’ll be able to enjoy in Mondscheinsonaten, the brand new opus by Munich, Bavaria-based Black/Folk Metal horde Waldgeflüster. Both the name of the band (German for “forest whisperings”) and the album name (which translates as “moonlight sonatas”) already give you a very good idea of how powerful their new Folk-drenched Black Metal eyries are, melting the coldest of hearts, but it’s after hitting playing and immersing yourself in their music that you’ll finally understand what Bavarian heathen music is all about.

Formed in 2005 as a one-man project by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Winterherz (whose full name is Jan van Berlekom), Waldgeflüster evolved into a full-bodied band in 2014 when guitarists Dominik Frank and Markus Frey, bassist Arvagr and drummer Thomas Birkmaier joined Winterherz in his quest for metal music for good, after having played with him either as studio or live musicians in previous albums and concerts. Building strongly on the band’s heathen foundations, melding clean and harsh vocals seamlessly and integrating folk instrumentation sparsely enough to augment (but never over-embellish the exceptional blackened metal grounding), Mondscheinsonaten is perfectly pitched to fuel those crystalline winter, woodland walks with its immensely infectious melodies and haunting refrains, with the entire band sounding extremely crisp, mature and cohesive throughout the album’s over 60 minutes of stylish and enfolding music.

Embraced by the sound of the howling wind, the melancholic, acoustic Einleitung (“introduction”) warms up our hearts for the dense and thrilling Der Steppenwolf (“the steppenwolf”), with Winterherz growling deeply while Domink and Markus extract sheer darkness from their guitars. In other words, this is a journey through the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Folk Metal where the music keeps growing in intensity as time goes by, while Thomas, armed with his classic blast beats, makes sure not a single space is left empty. Then get ready for over twelve minutes of a flawless fusion of folk and extreme music entitled Gripfelstürme (“summit storm”), where the band’s guitar duo once again hypnotizes us with their scorching riffs and with Winterherz being on fire with both his demonic gnarls and his obscure clean vocals, also showcasing ethereal passages and backing vocals that add a touch of finesse to the overall result.  And Waldgeflüster continue to invade our minds and captivate our senses with the atmospheric Rotgoldene Novemberwälder (“red golden November forests”), uniting the most visceral elements from classic Black Metal with the melancholy of Atmospheric Black Metal, with strident guitar lines, intricate beats and pitch black darkness flowing nonstop from this bitterly cold aria.

In Und der Wind… (“and the wind…”), a serene intro explodes into sheer aggression and rage in the form of old school Black Metal with Thomas sounding bestial on drums while Arvagr delivers thunder through his bass lines. Moreover, your soul will certainly get lost throughout the song’s ten detailed and dense minutes; whereas in Von Winterwäldern und Mondscheinsonaten (“from winter forests and moonshine nights”) we’re treated to more flammable sounds flowing from all instruments, in special from Dominik’s and Markus’ guitars, with Winterherz roaring with all his strength while the music brings hints of Progressive Black Metal to make things even more entertaining. Then closing the regular version of the album we have the delicate Staub in der Lunge (“dust in the lungs”), beginning in the most serene way possible with its clean vocals and acoustic guitars dictating the rhythm before the entire band comes ripping one last time with their refined Black Metal sonority. In addition, Dominik and Markus once again steal the spotlight with their piercing guitar lines for our total delight. And if you acquire the black/grey double vinyl version of the album, you’ll also get the acoustic version for Der Steppenwolf as a bonus track, a beautiful and very delicate alternate rendering of one of the best songs of the album.

In case you’re already prepared to get lost in the heathen lands of Bavaria together with Waldgeflüster, you can enjoy Mondscheinsonaten in full  on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Nordvis Produktion’s official webstore (as well as from several other locations by clicking HERE). In a nutshell, as aforementioned the “moonlight sonatas” by this talented horde of musicians hailing from the stunning Bavaria are the perfect soundtrack for a cold and pensive winter walk, proving once again Folkened Black Metal is more than just a subgenre of extreme music, but an intrinsic part of the lifestyle and culture of the coldest parts of earth.

Best moments of the album: Der Steppenwolf and Gripfelstürme.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. Einleitung 3:08
2. Der Steppenwolf 7:51
3. Gripfelstürme 12:21
4. Rotgoldene Novemberwälder 6:28
5. Und der Wind… 10:52
6. Von Winterwäldern und Mondscheinsonaten 9:51
7. Staub in der Lunge 5:48

Black/Grey Double Vinyl bonus track
8. Der Steppenwolf (Acoustic version) 7:57

Band members
Winterherz – vocals, mandolin, keyboards
Dominik Frank – guitars, backing vocals
Markus Frey – guitars
Arvagr – bass, backing vocals
Thomas Birkmaier – drums

Guest musician
Johannes Schermaul – cello

Metal Chick of the Month – Romana Kalkuhl

I was born to burn! Maiden of steel!

After a short and sweet break, The Headbanging Moose returns in full force with our metal chick of the month of July, elevating the temperature in the always hot summer in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re a diehard fan of old school Heavy and Power Metal the likes of Warlock, Judas Priest, Accept, Manowar and Grave Digger, I’m quite sure you already know our metal lady, but in case you’re still not familiar with her refined technique and deep passion for heavy music here’s a good chance for you to go after the music from her ass-kicking bands Burning Witches and Atlas & Axis. Hailing from the metallic lands of the charming and beautiful Switzerland, here comes the talented Swiss guitarist Romana Kalkuhl, ready to take the world of heavy music by storm armed with her inseparable stringed axe for our total delight.

Born in 1990 in Switzerland, Romana, whose full name is Romana Eskić-Kalkuhl (as she’s married to Swiss guitarist Damir Eskić, from the bands Destruction and Gomorra), comes from a family of musicians who have always supported her decision to become a professional guitar player. For instance, her father Meinolf Kalkuhl is an opera singer in Zurich, Switzerland, while her mother is a piano teacher. All that support resulted in the formation of her first professional band in 2009 while she was still in university. That band is Aargau-based Heavy Metal act Atlas & Axis, with whom Romana has already recorded two full-length albums, those being March of the Night, in 2011, and Confrontation, in 2014, not to mention all concerts the band has already played live. You can enjoy the Iced Earth-inspired sound of Atlas & Axis and Romana’s incendiary shredding on YouTube by listening to songs like Power and Might, Elements, To Violence and These Words, among many others, as well as the song Winter played live at the Dynamo in Zurich in 2014. Unfortunately, due to her current commitment to Burning Witches, our blonde warrior doesn’t have the necessary time to focus on Atlas & Axis at the moment, which means the band is on hold until further notice.

It was in the spring of 2015 in the city of Brugg, a municipality in the Swiss canton of Aargau, when Romana founded Heavy/Power Metal unity Burning Witches, following her personal dream of performing on stage with an all-female metal band. Earlier that year she started looking for talented women for her new project, with her longtime friend, bassist Jeanine Grob, becoming the band’s first official member. Then during a party at a festival she met vocalist Seraina Telli, from bands like Dead Venus, Rizon and Surrilium, starting a very healthy and productive partnership between them, with Seraina’s ideas and experience from her studies at the Music Academy and her bands being exactly what Romana wanted for Burning Witches. Having the one and only Schmier, vocalist and bassist for German Thrash Metal institution Destruction, as their producer and consultant (and a personal friend of Romana, by the way), and with drummer Lala Frischknecht and guitarist Alea Wyss completing the lineup after an intensive search and several auditions, Romana and her Burning Witches were finally ready to crush with their classic metal music.

Since the band’s inception, Romana and the girls have already released two full-length albums (their self-titled debut album in 2017, and Hexenhammer in 2018), one four-track live album named Burning Alive, recorded on September 30, 2017 at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, and now in 2019 they re-released Burning Witches / Burning Alive as a combo under Nuclear Blast. If you want to feel the power of their metal sword, simply go to Spotify or to YouTube and enjoy some flammable Heavy Metal anthems such as Wings Of Steel, Black Widow, and Executed, or many other live footage from Romana and the girls slaying everything and everyone that crosses their path like their flammable performance at Sweden Rock Festival in 2019; their concert in 2018 in Mannheim, a city in southwest Germany; and their powerful pocket show at Salzhaus Brugg in 2018.

Sadly for all fans of the band, lead singer Seraina Telli left the band earlier this year for personal reasons, being replaced by Dutch vocalist Laura Guldemond, from bands like Shadowrise and Synergy Protocol, and of course Romana had a few words to say about that change to her band. “This is, of course, a very sad moment for all of us. We have been very close for the last years and have reached a lot together. With great sadness we have to accept that Seriana wants to move on and we wish her the best of luck for that! Your time with the Witches will never be forgotten! For us as a band, it is important now to look into the new challenges and the new record — the show must go on!”, complementing her thoughts by saying that “we are super thrilled that we have found Laura so quick over our Dutch connection Sonia. We know it is impossible to replace a great voice in exact the same way; that is why Laura is the perfect choice for us. She will bring in her own strength and personality into the Witches! We will not change the identity of the band; we will continue playing the music we love! Laura is an experienced and crisp vocalist with a big range and a crazy enough personality to be one of us! Please give her a warm welcome — she has already won many metalhearts at our first show with her at the Sweden Rock Festival! We will continue to spread the magic of the witches — thanks for all the support over the years!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Regarding the fact that the band has become more international with the addition of Laura to their lineup, the second Dutchwoman in the band, Romana said that the collaboration between them is quite dynamic, with the Dutch girls flying to Switzerland over the weekend for rehearsals and concerts, while the rest of the time everyone practices their music from home. She also mentioned in one of her interviews that her main goal when she started Burning Witches was to have fun with the band, not because of success itself, complementing by saying that if one day that pleasure of playing with Burning Witches is over, then the band will also be over. In addition, when asked about how she keeps the band as independent and feminine as possible even with the influences of Damir and Schmier, she said that their help is based on their experience, something the girls from Burning Witches don’t have enough yet, and that Damir’s support was crucial to make everything happen, always keeping in mind the band was going to be (and will always be) an all-female metal band.

Romana’s list of idols and influences can easily be felt in the music by Burning Witches, with her favorite styles ranging from Heavy, Thrash, Death and Black Metal to Hard Rock and even Progressive Rock. According to Romana herself, the bands that have influenced her the most (and the entire band, of course) are Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Saxon, Accept, Dio and several other renowned acts from the NWOBHM. Also, in regards to her equipment, Romana has always played Charvel and Jackson USA guitars, since the beginning, saying those are the best ones in her opinion, and although she’s endorsed also by Fender (apart from Charvel and Jackson, of course) she doesn’t use it when playing live just because she has so many instruments of the other two manufacturers. And before I forget, did you know she also plays classical guitar? Our dauntless metalhead is not only a shredder, but as you can see she’s also a woman who adds a touch of finesse to her guitar lines.

When questioned about the differences and disparities between men and women not only in Heavy Metal, but in music in general, Romana said that it might look easier to be an all-female group at first, attracting a lot of attention form the media and the fans (especially when all band members are beautiful like the ladies from Burning Witches), but it only gets harder and harder as time goes by due to the systemic sexism found everywhere, complementing by saying that many people will see them as just “pretty faces” and think that it’s a man who’s doing all the job in the background. Romana also said that one of the very positive effects of her all-female band is serving as the inspiration for other women to attend their concerts and start their lives in metal, which in my opinion is indeed an amazing change to a music genre mostly dominated by men, whereas the more sexist metal fans ended up reacting very negatively to their music. Who on earth wouldn’t enjoy watching five talented women kicking some serious ass on stage, playing old school metal music? You have to be really stupid, and not just sexist, to think the Burning Witches are not a great metal band.

Anyway, as aforementioned, Romana is married to Damir Eskić, guitarist for Destruction and Gomorra (which was previously called Gonoreas), and it was actually during a Gonoreas’ concert that the couple met, with Damir having a huge influence on Romana’s playing style as he was the one who taught her a lot about the instrument (albeit she already knew how to play it from her school years). On a side note, Romana said she was impressed by Miriam Zehnder, who played the rhythm guitar at Gonoreas at that time, also saying her stage presence fascinated her a lot, showing how connected Burning Witches and Gomorra are not only because of Romana and Damir. In addition to that, Romana said her relationship with Damir is quite healthy, dynamic and fun, with Damir being for example the music collector while she’s more interested in clothes, and so on. Damir considers himself the coach, the moral preacher and the main supporter of the Burning Witches, keeping the girls happy and motivating them even in difficult situations, all confirmed by Romana who also said Damir also makes sure he gives them a motivating speech before every concert, getting them ready to rock on stage.

Both Romana and Damir seem to be extremely busy professionals, and when asked about how they manage all their duties and their relationship, including their music lessons as both are teachers at different music schools (Romana works at three different schools while Damir works at two schools and at the conservatory in Winterthur), she said although they don’t actually have time for anything else, they still manage to have a normal life as a couple, as all those things have already become a part of their everyday life. Furthermore, the couple might not have real rings, but the dates tattooed on their fingers already say it all, showing a lot of mutual respect and admiration between them, with Romana saying that although they’ve already been together for over a decade seeing each other pretty much daily, they still miss each other when they’re on tour in different parts of the world, mentioning for example how difficult it was during the two week Damir was away with Destruction this year. She wasn’t really complaining about that because she understands how hard it is to be part of a band that tours a lot and how lucky both are for being in successful bands, but let’s face it, it’s indeed tough to be away from your loved one no matter what, even if it’s in the name of our good old Heavy Metal.

Romana Kalkuhl’s Official Facebook page
Romana Kalkuhl’s Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official Facebook page
Burning Witches’ Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official Twitter
Burning Witches’ Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Angra Demana / Triptych Of Decay EP (2019)

From the the boundless darkness of hell, here comes an infernal Black Metal duo armed to the teeth with their sulfurous and violent new EP.

Formed in 2007 in the city of Karaj, Iran, but currently located in Innsbruck, capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol, Ambient/Atmospheric Black Metal entity Angra Demana is unleashing upon humanity a brand new EP entitled Triptych Of Decay, marking a new beginning for the band such is the difference between this EP and the band’s debut full-length Dissolve Into Nothingness, released in 2012. For instance, the meaning of Angara Damana (which by the way was the band’s past name) is based according to Zoroaster’s book, stating there are four levels of hell, with the first three levels, Malicious, Scurrility and Malfesant, being the upper levels and beneath them is the boundless darkness, which is Angara Damana or “Angra Demana”.

Lead singer Atöm Krieg and guitarist and bassist Radman, together with guest drummers Jocke Wallgren (Amon Amarth) and Fredrik Widigs (Marduk), turned Triptych of Decay into a handful of surprises with their creativity, rage and dexterity, successfully avoiding to enter the mined fields of eccentricity or elitist avantgarde. Featuring a Stygian artwork by Vojtěch Doubek (Moonroot), Triptych Of Decay will lacerate your damned soul without a single drop of mercy, elevating the name of Angra Demana to new heights in the underground Extreme Metal scene, and leaving you eager for more of their intricate and vile Black Metal.

Brutal and raw from the very first second, Rupture is a true headbanging massacre featuring the demolishing Jocke on drums, or in other words, it’s a classic Black Metal composition where Radman fires sulfurous riffs from his guitar, not to mention how Stygian the lyrics vociferated by Atöm are (“Darkness emerged – enlightenment of my sight / It granted me a world , far beyond this life / To the seclusion atmosphere of flawless awareness / In resistance, transgression against this mortal breed / In a world of forgotten deserted mankind / I start a battle between glory and corruption”). And Jocke once again lends his refined technique to the ominous Erode, where the riffs by Radman will cut your skin deep while Atöm continues to bark rabidly, sounding wicked and diabolical from start to finish. Furthermore, its background keys give it an extra touch of obscurity, with the bass lines by Radman dictating the song’s lugubrious rhythm. Then it’s time for Fredrik to kick some ass on drums in Extinction, and the final result is a berserk onrush of Black Metal sounds. Radman sounds infernal on the guitar, as well as Atöm with his deranged roars and grim vocalizations, effectively giving life to the song’s apocalyptic words (“And the sickness will be erased / When the last scream drift away in the eternal cosmos / Peace through extinction of flesh and blood / And finally all is drenched in thy wisdom”). In my humble opninion, Angra Demana couldn’t have ended the album in a more hellish manner.

In a nutshell, the music by Angra Demana is evil, frantic, chaotic, ritualistic and sulfurous, exactly how we expect a good Black Metal band to sound, and Triptych Of Decay is the perfect depiction of their obscurity. With that said, let’s show our support to such distinct underground duo by following them on Facebook, and especially by purchasing their brand new EP directly from their BandCamp page, keeping the flame of devilish and atmospheric Black Metal burning bright for centuries to come, it doesn’t matter if it’s in Iran, in Austria or in any other part of our decaying world.

Best moments of the album: Extinction.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Rupture 7:06
2. Erode 5:55
3. Extinction 6:05

Band members
Atöm Krieg – vocals
Radman – guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Jocke Wallgren – drums on “Rupture” and “Erode”
Fredrik Widigs – drums on “Extinction”