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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Xenoglossy Productions

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

Band members
A. White – vocals, all instruments

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Album Review – Refusal / Epitome of Void (2019)

A straight-to-the-point album of Finnish Crust Old School Death Metal, as pulverizing, heavy and infernal as it can be.

Founded back in 2008 in the city of Helsinki, Finland by guitarist Tero Pirhonen and bassist Timo Pirhonen, before bringing in vocalist Niikka Lius, drummer Aleksi Roitto and more recently guitarist Kalle Kuosmanen to complete the band, the unrelenting squad that goes by the name of Refusal does not just play your regular Death Metal, but something they like to call “Finnish Crust Old School Death Metal”, smashing you like an insect with all their fury and heaviness without showing a single drop of mercy. After releasing several demos and their debut full-length album We Rot Within, in 2016, Refusal are back in action in 2019 with a brand new (and pulverizing) opus, beautifully titled Epitome of Void. Featuring a somber artwork by Finnish artist Sakke Vinko, Epitome of Void is highly recommended for fans of the music by iconic bands like Napalm Death, Nasum and Entombed, being absolutely perfect for slamming into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow.

The distorted guitars by Tero and Kalle ignite the pulverizing opening track Suffocate, reminding me of the devilish sound by Turkish beasts Diabolizer, or in other words, a brutal slamming Death Metal extravaganza led by Niika and his deep, visceral growls. If you survive their initial onrush of extreme music get ready for the insanely heavy Hectic, showcasing an enraged Niikka on vocals while Aleksi decimates his drums in a precise and groovy manner, accompanied by Timo’s roaring bass; whereas Disregard brings forward a less frantic but still acid and violent version of the band, urging us all to bang our heads manically to the infernal riffs by Tero and Kalle while Timo smashes his bass chords nonstop.

Disgust is just as brutal as Death Metal can be, with Refusal inviting us all to crush our skulls into the circle pit while Niikaa vomits the song’s lyrics in a very traditional way; followed by Slaves, the darkest of all songs in Epitome of Void, showcasing hints of classic, obscure Black Metal added to their unrelenting music. Moreover, Tero and Timo bring some welcome balance to the sonic havoc going on with their crisp solos. Then it’s time for more demented slamming to the infernal beats by Aleksi in Exploit, while Niikka keeps growling and vociferating manically for our total delight. Put differently, this is the undisputed epitome of Refusal’s classic Death Metal, highly recommended for all fans of the genre.

If you think your neck will have a break from all the insane headbanging proposed by Refusal you’re absolutely wrong, as the band ignites their most demonic mode in the rip-roaring Bound, with their guitars and drums being in full destructive force. Then their second to last deranged Death Metal attack comes in the form of Futile, where all band members sound even more infuriated than ever, pleasing anyone who admires old school Brutal Death Metal from the bottom of their (blackened) hearts, setting the stage for the the thunderous and vile closing tune Void, where the smashing sounds of drums and bass provide Niikka the perfect atmosphere for his sick guttural vocals. There’s no escape from Refusal, and their most unfriendly, obscure and intricate creation beautifully represents all their fury and rage, ending the album on a very high note.

Do you have what it takes to face the demolishing Death Metal by Refusal? If your answer is yes, simply slam into the pit by listening to Epitome of Void in full on Spotify, by following the band on Facebook and by subscribing to their YouTube channel. In a nutshell, Epitome of Void, which by the way is on sale from Refusal’s own BandCamp page, from the Great Dane Records’ BandCamp page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from Discogs, will not change or revolutionize the underground metal scene at all; quite the contrary, it’s pure old school Death Metal, without any artificial elements nor any type of shenanigans, thoroughly crafted by five Finnish guys who are beyond loyal to the foundations of the genre, deserving all our admiration and support for keeping the flames of true Death Metal alive and kicking.

Best moments of the album: Hectic, Disgust and Exploit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Great Dane Records

Track listing
1. Suffocate 2:20
2. Hectic 2:51
3. Disregard 3:13
4. Disgust 3:27
5. Slaves 4:33
6. Exploit 1:48
7. Bound 4:14
8. Futile 4:10
9. Void 5:19

Band members
Niikka Lius – vocals
Tero Pirhonen – guitars
Kalle Kuosmanen – guitars
Timo Pirhonen – bass, backing vocals
Aleksi Roitto – drums

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

Inspired by the suffering of warfare, spirit breaking oppression and the refusal to submit to either, behold the debut album by Anthony Kaoteon’s newborn spawn of Extreme Metal.

“Come confess your mortal sins,
Sadistic violence, the trademark of kings”

Inspired by the suffering of warfare, spirit breaking oppression and the refusal to submit to either, Extreme Metal project Death Tribe is the sound of vociferous rebellion and defiant resistance spearheaded by Anthony Kaoteon, the mastermind behind Death/Black Metal band Kaoteon, who released in 2018 the excellent Damnatio Memoriae. And if you’re already familiar with Kaoteon’s insurgent music, you’ll certainly have a blast with Death Tribe’s first installment, entitled Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, Anthony’s personal monument to independence and his eternal tribute to every man, woman and child that refuses to bend the knee and submit.

Born into the chaos and conflict of Beirut, Lebanon, but currently residing in Utrecht, Netherlands, Anthony refuses to accept the strictures of others in his day-to-day life as well as in music, always determined to shape his own destiny. Conceived over a few years and drawing on sounds from different periods of metal’s development, Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment features an array of guest vocalists such as Serge the Slave (Aramaic) and Youmni Abou el Zahab (Ascendant), who together with Anthony and his henchmen Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Alkaloid, Kaoteon) on bass and Mattias Landes (Dark Fortress, ReVamp) on drums generate a massive wall of violent and austere sounds recommended for fans of renowned acts like Revocation, Gojira and Skeletonwitch.  “I dedicate this album to those who keep chasing their dreams, to every person that was born with a tag on his forehead and defied the world to make his own statement heard – I will die soon but the music stays to remind those who listen of a man who didn’t obey,” said Anthony about his newborn spawn, inviting us all to join him in his musical rebellion.

Featuring Anthony himself on lead vocals, the opening track Hollow offers the listener an explosion of Groove Metal from the very first second, with Anthony barking like a beast while Mattias smashes his drums manically, or in other words, a straightforward, in-your-face tune tailored for admirers of rabid and pulverizing music. Following such demented start, Walid Wolflust (Kaoteon) lends his visceral roars to Beyond Pain and Pleasure, giving life (or I should say death) to its acid lyrics (“Are you delighted from others pain? / Are you distressed by another’s pleasure? / Come confess your mortal sins, / Sadistic violence, the trademark of kings”) in a brutal fusion of Black and Death Metal where Linus and Mattias are in an infernal sync; whereas in Implode Explode Anthony not only vociferates manically, but his scorching riffs add an extra touch of dementia to the overall musicality, inspiring us to slam into the circle pit to Death Tribe’s frantic fusion of Groove, Death and Thrash Metal.

It’s time for Death Tribe to go full Death Metal in Neurotic Breakdown, sounding gory, virulent and putrid from start to finish, with guest vocalist Serge the Slave (Aramaic) doing an amazing job by almost vomiting the song’s lyrics. Needless to say, the violence and hatred flowing from Anthony’s riffs and Mattias’ darkened beats is simply outstanding. Adnan Mryhij (Svengali) is the designated guest growler in Psychopathetic, a hybrid of Groove and Progressive Metal infused with the violence of Thrash Metal, sounding like a more demented version of Mastodon and also presenting a beyond infuriated Linus with his intricate bass punches; followed by Death Blues, where Youmni Abou el Zahab (Ascendant) brings a Hard Rock and Power Metal twist to the band’s crushing sonority with his high-pitched screams, with the overall result sounding as if classic 80’s metal has met the insanity and rage of modern-day extreme music.

Walid is back on vocals in the demolishing Narcissist Bastard Nation, where Linus and Mattias make the earth tremble with their respective instruments, sounding closer to Kaoteon’s sound from their 2018 album, also carrying obscure lyrics that are nothing but a sad reflection of our reality (“Money and Power is what they seek / Blinded by Hatred and their love of creed, / Sinners as saints covered by shame, / Killing each other’s and no justice to blame, / Narcissist Nation – Clueless bastard marionettes”). Then JM Elias (Damage Rite, Svengali) brings sheer hate and violence to the onrush of demented sounds titled Nuclear Hate, with Anthony slashing his strings in a very melodic but fierce manner while Linus keeps extracting thunderous tones from his bass nonstop. And Anthony and Serge bark and scream together in the closing tune named Face the Facts, a groovy extravaganza spiced up by elements from Southern Metal delivering lots of shredding and deranged growls for your avid ears, ending the album in an absolutely berserk way.

If you want to know more about this newborn beast known as Death Tribe, their music, their goals, principles and tour dates, simply go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to grab your copy of the flammable Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment from the project’s own BandCamp page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from CD Baby. Because, in the end, it doesn’t really matter if Anthony incarnates his Kaoteon or his Death Tribe form, as he will keep being the voice of the voiceless until his final breath. Having said that, it’s time for all of us to join Anthony’s newly founded tribe of extreme music, always fighting for freedom of speech, and never kneeling to anyone.

Best moments of the album: Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate.

Worst moments of the album: Psychopathetic.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Hollow 4:10
2. Beyond Pain and Pleasure 3:41
3. Implode Explode 4:25
4. Neurotic Breakdown 5:25
5. Psychopathetic 3:09
6. Death Blues 3:41
7. Narcissist Bastard Nation 4:14
8. Nuclear Hate 3:52
9. Face the Facts 3:35

Band members
Anthony Kaoteon – guitars, lead vocals on “Hollow”, “Implode Explode” and “Face the Facts”
Linus Klausenitzer – bass
Mattias Landes – drums

Guest musicians
Walid Wolflust – vocals on “Beyond Pain and Pleasure” and “Narcissist Bastard Nation”
Serge the Slave – vocals on “Neurotic Breakdown” and “Face the Facts”
Adnan Mryhij – vocals on “Psychopathetic”
Youmni Abou el Zahab – vocals on “Death Blues”
JM Elias – vocals on “Nuclear Hate”

Metal Chick of the Month – Mariia “Masha” Dementieva

Raise some hell, our true Lady Evil!

Are you ready to scream and roar together with our metal chick of the month of April in the name of darkness and evil, here on The Headbanging Moose webzine? If you’re a fan of the blasphemous, obscure and absolutely awesome music played by renowned acts like Behemoth, Septicflesh and Kaoteon, among many others, you’ll fall in love with the talent and beauty of Mariia “Masha” Dementieva, also known as simply Masha (or even  Mary Crematorium in a not-so-distant past, and if you prefer, Мария Дементьева in her mother tongue), the unrelenting frontwoman for Ukrainian Blackened Death Metal horde Nordwitch. That, of course, if you come from another galaxy or dimension and haven’t listened to Nordwitch’s sulfurous music yet, because if you’re from this planet I’m sure you’re already addicted to Masha’s demonic growling.

Although there’s isn’t much available online about Masha’s personal life (apart from many awesome photos from her career as a model, photo model and alternative tattoo model), you can still enjoy a good amount of information from her ass-kicking Kyiv-based band Nordwitch, formed in 2015. Singing about some very interesting topics such as satanism, occultism and ancient Scandinavian mythology, Nordwitch bring forth a flammable fusion of Black and Death Metal in their music, offering tons of melody amidst a brutal sonic devastation. The name Nordwitch, according to Masha herself, is the band’s representation of the mysticism and mystery of Scandinavian witches with a hint of female sexuality, which by the way matches perfectly with her diabolical vocal style. As a matter of fact, before becoming Nordwitch, Masha and the rest of the band, guitarists Max and Leo and bassist Max Senchilo, were all part of a Symphonic/Progressive Metal band named Crystalnight, where Masha was not their vocalist, but their keyboardist. If you’re curious to know how Masha and her bandmates used to sound before morphing into the dark beast known as Nordwitch, you can take a listen at some of their songs from their ReverbNation profile, such as Dark Angel and the original version of Nordwitch’s crushing tune Lady Evil.

In addition, not only Masha spearheads her horde of Blackened Death Metal in Nordwitch, but she was also one of the producers of their 2016 opus Mørk Profeti together with the other members of the band. You can listen to their pulverizing album in full on YouTube, and raise your horns to amazing songs like the aforementioned Lady Evil and Messiah of Death, or search for some live footage online like this one where the band is playing Lady Evil live at MHM – Metal Head’s Mission Festival in 2018. Furthermore, don’t forget to buy your copy of the album at the Satanath Records BandCamp, to subscribe to the band’s YouTube channel (where you can find for example a fun and raw version of the song No Regret live in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2016), follow them on VKontakte, and listen to more of their music through their ReverbNation and SoundCloud profiles. Who doesn’t enjoy listening to some brutal metal music like this remastered live version of Messiah of Death, right?

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In regards to her idols and main influences in music and in life in general, Masha said in one of her interviews that not only herself but all of her bandmates are inspired by mysticism, occultism and several other eccentric topics when writing their music, always trying to make their sound as unique as possible. As the main founder and central figure of Nordwitch, a project that was originated inside her pagan mind, Masha is obviously influenced by all classic Black Metal bands, such as Mayhem, Watain and Bathory, which she’s been a fan since she was a teenager, and you can see how much she’s passionate about such controversial but fantastic subgenre of heavy music by visiting her official Instagram account and searching for her personal videos playing several Black Metal classics on the piano and keyboard. For instance, take a very good listen at her delicate but at the same time piercing piano versions for Burzum’s Dunkelheit and Han Som Reiste, Dark Funeral’s Stigmata, Dissection’s Where Dead Angels Lie and Thorns Of Crimson Death, and Shining’s Tillsammans Är Vi Allt, among others, as well as non-Black Metal hymns like Type O Negative’s Love You To Death. In addition, she mentioned in an interview that she’s also influenced by classical music and Scandinavian folk music, which kind of explains her passion for the piano, and that Runhild Gammelsæter, a Norwegian musician notable for being the vocalist for the American bands Thorr’s Hammer and Khlyst, is her favorite female metal singer of all time, complementing by saying that she cannot choose only one male singer as her favorite, though, as there are too many.

When asked about her hobbies outside of music, Masha listed a few very interesting and healthy activities, like working out and practicing sports, modeling and photography, also mentioning her interest in satanism, occultism and the mythology of ancient Scandinavia, which as aforementioned are the main topics covered in the music by Nordwitch. In addition, Masha said in one of her interviews she’s an apolitical person, as in her opinion true Black Metal has always been and will continue to be away from politics or anything related to it, being focused on religion and other more obscure topics. She also said that she had always dreamed about being in an Extreme Metal band like Nordwitch, but she wasn’t sure if that was going to actually happen one day, also saying she understands being a woman in a Black and Death Metal band from the underground scene is not easy at all, but that she won’t give up and keep on rockin’, always counting on the support form her family, friends and fans, aiming as high as possible with Nordwitch in the years to come. And we, true metalheads, will be ready to hail darkness and raise our horns together with the unstoppable Masha and her henchmen, no doubt about that.

Masha’s Official Instagram
NordWitch’s Official Facebook page
NordWitch’s Official VKontakte
NordWitch’s Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Gruzja / I Iść Dalej (2019)

A raw and visceral manifestation of Black Metal overflowing dirty sex, drugs, alcohol and extreme aggression, directly from Poland into your deranged mind.

“Music against aesthetisation
Music against shopping centres
Gals, devil, railway sidings…”

From the filthy, moist and drunken basements of Poland, one of the most prolific countries in the world of underground Extreme Metal, here comes a cryptic and heavy-as-hell entity known as Gruzja (which I believe is Polish for “Georgia”), distilling their vicious, nihilistic Black Metal in their brand new opus entitled I Iść Dalej, which translates to English as “and go ahead” or “and move further”. Recorded in the summer of 2018 in Tbilisi, the capital of the country of Georgia, and mixed and mastered by HG, I Iść Dalej is an amalgamation of infernal sounds, alcohol, pus, rot, ugliness and dirty sex, perfectly representing the everyday life of the band’s mysterious members, or as in their own words, “the spirit is local, but the music – from afar. Gruzja deals with art and, consequently, it is part of a culture. A culture of violence.”

A very unique intro of wicked sounds and noises warms up our senses for an avalanche of distorted, pulverizing riffs and crushing beats in Gruzini (“Georgians”), offering us three and a half minutes of raw and vile Black Metal where the vocal lines are beyond infernal, all spiced up by the fact everything is sung in Polish, of course. Then even more phantasmagorical, disturbing and crude we have Moja Ratyzbona (“my Regensburg”), with its riffage sounding crude and old school, accompanied by the song’s Doom Metal-inspired sluggish beats, while its putrid vociferations add an extra touch of evil to the musicality (not to mention how demented the clean vocals also sound and feel), whereas in Opuść Mnie (“leave me”) we’re treated to an austere wall of Black Metal sounds with an epic vibe perfect for crushing your skull into the circle pit, with an endless amount of aggressiveness and rage flowing from all instruments, in special from its frantic beats.

Manam is another perturbing chant by Gruzja, an excellent representation of what Extreme Metal is all about in the Polish underground scene, blending the most obscure elements from Black Metal to the atmospheric and gloomy waves of Doom Metal with vocals that couldn’t sound more desperate than this; followed by Jego Głos (“his voice”), presenting some amazing nuances of Punk and Hardcore added to their core Black Metal, therefore making their music even more rebellious and potent like if the instrumental parts from Motörhead were blended with the rabid and raspy vocal lines of The Exploited. And get ready for over four minutes of visceral sounds and tones in Ilu Nas Było? (“how many of us were there?”), darkening the skies like we expect from classic Doom Metal, with the strident tone from the guitar potentializing the gruesome and demonic roars blasted by the band’s uncanny lead singer, almost vomiting the song’s Polish words in our faces. Lastly, Gruzja offer us Iść Dalej (“go ahead”), completely different form the rest of the album, feeling more like a remix version of a song than an original composition per se (or maybe it’s just an outro, who knows). It’s not bad at all, but it takes away a little of the insane and hellish atmosphere from all previous songs.

Take a listen at this disturbing and very enjoyable album of underground music in full on YouTube or on Spotify and get ready to be smashed like an insignificant insect by the unruly and deranged Gruzja, and in order to show your true support to this very interesting Polish band simply follow them on Facebook, and purchase I Iść Dalej from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp or webstore. In a nutshell, I Iść Dalej is a raw and visceral album of Black Metal overflowing sex, drugs, alcohol and an infinite amount of our good old aggression. What else can you ask for in underground extreme music, right?

Best moments of the album: Moja Ratyzbona and Opuść Mnie.

Worst moments of the album: Iść Dalej.

Released in 2019 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing
1. Gruzini 3:28
2. Moja Ratyzbona 4:18
3. Opuść Mnie 3:59
4. Manam 4:50
5. Jego Głos 3:08
6. Ilu Nas Było? 4:40
7. Iść Dalej 4:20

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Rotting Christ / The Heretics (2019)

Heretics, atheists and rebels, it’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal masterfully crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.

“Since man cannot live without miracles, he will provide himself with the miracles of his own making. He will believe in any kind of deity even though he may otherwise be a heretic, an atheist, and a rebel.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It is not a coincidence that our review number 666 exhales blasphemy, heresy and, above all, first-class occult Black Metal and a lot of fire. Hailing from Athens, the capital of the beautiful Greece and the heart of Ancient Greece, here comes the greatest Greek metal institution of all time, the almighty Rotting Christ, spitting fire upon humanity with their fantastic and very atmospheric new opus, entitled The Heretics, their thirteenth studio album and a beautiful follow-up to their excellent 2016 release Rituals.  Recorded at Pentagram Studios in Athens, mixed and mastered at Fascination Street Studio in Örebro, Sweden, and featuring a stunning artwork by Ukrainian designer Vyacheslav Smeshko and cover art by Greek artist Maximos Manolis, Rotting Christ’s new album is absolutely incendiary, going against all types of religion, church and creed.

And when I say incendiary I’m not exaggerating, as pretty much every single song from The Heretics mentions the world “fire”, proving the band’s mastermind, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sakis Tolis and his brother, drummer Themis Tolis, knew exactly what they were doing when turning what it truly means to be a heretic into their unparalleled Dark Metal. All lyrics are obscure, austere and rebellious, which together with all beautiful intonations by guests Stelios Steele and Dayal Patterson, as well as an array of guest musicians such as Irina Zybina (vocalist for Russian Pagan/Folk Metal bands Alkonost and Грай), Alexis Karamelis and Melechesh Ashmedi, makes the experience of listening to The Heretics truly hypnotizing, enfolding our souls in darkness and fire while the music remains as heavy, intricate and epic as we got used to from the Tolis Brothers. In other words, are you ready to burn in the purifying fires of the Dark Metal blasted by the one and only Rotting Christ?

The imposing In the Name of God brings forward a very atmospheric start, with the words by Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky spoken by guest Stelios Steele setting the stage for the crushing wall of sounds created by the Tolis Brothers, always in the name of fire, not to mention how its headbanging riffs will inspire you to break your neck in half, while Vetry Zlye, also called “Ветры злые” (which translates as “evil winds” from Russian), is another beautiful composition by those Greek metallers with the help of guest vocalist Irina Zybina and her mesmerizing voice, getting closer to what the band did in Rituals and with the drums by Themis sounding as imposing and demolishing as we like it in classic extreme music. “The mind is universe and can make a heaven of hell a hell of heaven”, and it’s with those words by English poet John Milton that Rotting Chirst kick off another thrilling hymn titled Heaven and Hell and Fire, showcasing austere, cryptic lyrics (“Beyond the burning fire, heaven and hell / Today I give you choices: life or death / I offer you desire, I sentence you to death / Today I give you a choice, I give you Hell”) that perfectly match with the song’s flammable, classic and very melodic musicality, with Sakis once again being a beast with his riffs and unmatched roars.

Hallowed Be Thy Name is a mesmerizing and extremely obscure hymn by led by Themis’ pounding beats, with Sakis extracting those low-tuned, Stygian sounds we love so much from his guitar and bass. Put differently, join their mass and burn with them, also savoring the words by William Shakespeare powerfully declaimed by Stelios, putting a majestic end to the song. Following such enfolding tune we have Dies Irae, where Sakis’ work on the guitar is the perfect example of how heavy and harmonious a riff can be at the same time, as well as the song’s background choir bringing even more thunder to this already potent song; whereas in I Believe (or “Πιστεύω”), which is based on a poem by Nikos Kazantzakis, a giant of modern Greek literature, the instrumental pieces are a bit too “polluted”, but nothing that makes the song boring or not enjoyable. Moreover, it should work a lot better live as it has the potential to generate huge circle pits due to its frantic pace. Back to a more visceral mode, we have the fabulous Fire God and Fear, with the words by French philosopher Voltaire (“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”) generating a stunning paradox with the birds gently chirping in the background in the beginning, before the scorching riffs and thunderous drums by the Greek brothers of metal urge us all to bang our heads nonstop. Hence, this is by far one of my favorite songs of the entire album, where we can savor that classic Rotting Christ sonority with a welcome contemporary twist.

Rotting Christ The Heretics Box Collector

The Voice of Universe is another song that will reach deep inside your mind and soul, with Sakis vociferating its insurgent words (“The angel, I won’t serve again / I won’t have a place anymore in heaven / It’s my own soul, it’s my own mind / And can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”) while Themis keeps blasting his trademark tribal beats, and when you think those Greek metallers couldn’t sound more mesmerizing and brutal at the same time they deliver the excellent The New Messiah, featuring an excerpt from Matthew 24:11 (“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.”), with the guitars and all background elements and voices filling out all spaces in the air. And lastly, as the icing on the cake we have the magnificent, somber and ferocious The Raven, based on what’s probably the most famous poem by the iconic american writer Edgar Allan Poe, offering our ears over five minutes of cutting riffs, Black and Doom Metal drums, and endless poetry, with highlights to the sensational job done by Stelios Steele, giving life to Poe’s renowned lines. Actually, if you have some spare money to purchase any of the special editions of the album, you’ll also be able to enjoy the bonus tracks The Sons of Hell and Phobos (also called “The Sons of Hell, Pt. 1 & 2” by some people), two dark and demolishing tunes that make it worth the additional investment, or in other words, two excellent samples of modern-day Black Metal infused with epic and atmospheric elements.

In summary, The Heretics, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from several locations such as the band’s own BandCamp page and the Season of Mist webstore (and if I were you, I would go for the limited edition deluxe wooden boxset as it comes with several awesome perks), is definitely an album that will touch your heart and soul, taking you on a fascinating musical ride through the woes of religious wars, Zoroastrianism and the eternal war between good and evil. That’s what the unrelenting Rotting Christ offer us in their top-of-the-line new opus, and may Sakis and his horde continue to burn us all heretics, atheists and rebels with their dark and occult Black Metal for many decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Heaven and Hell and Fire, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fire God and Fear and The Raven.

Worst moments of the album: I Believe.

Released in 2019 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. In the Name of God 4:13
2. Vetry Zlye 3:14
3. Heaven and Hell and Fire 4:52
4. Hallowed Be Thy Name 5:06
5. Dies Irae 3:45
6. I Believe 3:42
7. Fire God and Fear 4:49
8. The Voice of Universe 5:22
9. The New Messiah 3:07
10. The Raven 5:23

Deluxe Edition/ Limited Edition Deluxe Boxset bonus track
11. The Sons of Hell 4:18

Limited Edition Deluxe Boxset bonus track
12. Phobos 4:12

Band members
Sakis Tolis – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion
Themis Tolis – drums

Guest musicians
Giannis Kalamatas – guitars (live)
Van Ace – bass (live)
Stelios Steele – poem intonation on “In the Name of God”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “The Raven”
Alexis Karamelis – backing vocals on “I Believe”
Stratis Steele, Alexandros Louziotis, Giannis Stamatakis & Theodoros Aivaliotis – vocals (choirs)
Nikos Velentzas, Stamatis Ampatalis, Vasilis Koutsoyflakis & Manos Six – percussion
Irina Zybina – female Vocals on “Vetry Zlye”
Dayal Patterson – intonation on “Heaven and Hell and Fire” and “Fire God and Fear”
Melechesh Ashmedi – vocals on “The Voice of Universe”

Movie Review – Lords Of Chaos (2018)

Witness the birth of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners in the vision of award-winning director Jonas Åkerlund, despite the annoying fact the entire movie is spoken in English.

“A teenager’s quest to launch Norwegian Black Metal in Oslo in the early 1990s results in a very violent outcome.”

That’s how the producers of the good movie Lords Of Chaos, which was screened at several film festivals in 2018 and released in theaters on February 8 and on demand on February 22 this year, are promoting their version of the birth of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners, those being Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes (also known for his revolutionary one-man project Burzum), Pelle ‘Dead’ Ohlin and, above all, Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth, the founder of and central figure in the early Norwegian Black Metal scene, the co-founder of the Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem, and the founder and owner of the Extreme Metal record label Deathlike Silence Productions and record shop Helvete. All of them were members of one of the most infamous bands of all time, Mayhem, being part of a militant cult-like group known as the “Black Metal Inner Circle”.

If you’re a longtime fan of True Norwegian Black Metal, there’s nothing new to you in the movie that you don’t already know, but it’s still interesting to see how director Jonas Åkerlund, a Swedish director and drummer known for music videos like Madonna’s Ray of Light, Rammstein’s Pussy and The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up, and a member of Swedish Black Metal institution Bathory from 1983 to 1984, portrayed all the trademark chaos, rebelliousness and violence of the Norwegian scene in the 90’s. Featuring Rory Culkin (yes, he’s the younger brother of Macaulay Culkin) as Euronymous, who did a great job trying to humanize such distinct character of the Black Metal universe, Emory Cohen as the untamable Varg, Jack Kilmer as the disturbed Dead, Sky Ferreira as Euronymous’ girlfriend Ann-Marit, and Valter Skarsgård as Emperor’s drummer and convicted murderer Bård Guldvik ‘Faust’ Eithun, as well as Anthony De La Torre as Jan Axel ‘Hellhammer’ Blomberg and James Edwyn as Kjetil ‘Manheim’ (considered by many the true founders of Mayhem in 1984, when the band was still named Musta), Lords Of Chaos is far from being a masterpiece, but it’s still a very entertaining movie that provides (to a certain point, of course) a very good view of how Black Metal changed the lives of those reckless kids that had a fairly decent life in Norway.

Despite the real Varg being completely against Lords Of Chaos, even stating in a 2016 video that Mayhem, Burzum and Darkthrone all denied the movie rights to their music, the movie is indeed a compelling ride that transforms Mayhem’s iconic guitarist Euronymous into a normal person like any of us, focusing on his fears and personal strugles as a young guy living in Norway, having won the jury prize best film award at the Molins de Rei Horror Film Festival in 2018 and being nominated to several other awards worldwide. However, if there’s one thing that really bothered me throughout the entire movie was the fact that all actors in the film speak in English (and with their American accents) all the time, despite the movie being entirely shot is Oslo, the capital of the beautiful Norway. In my opinion, they could have selected a few good Norwegian actors and done the whole movie in Norwegian to give it a much more realistic vibe, as it was sometimes pretty inconsistent and cringeworthy (at least for me) watching people in Norway, with the TV, newspapers and everything else in Norwegian, speaking like if they were all born and raised in Los Angeles or New York. That small but important detail doesn’t necessarily ruin the movie, but whenever you watch it I’m sure you’ll also have that feel that you’re watching a “Black Metal edition” of Beverly Hills, 90210 being aired on a Tuesday at 3pm on a random public access TV channel. I understand the use of English was somewhat essential for reaching a broader audience and having better support to promote the movie, but I still think the Norwegian language would have made the entire movie a thousand times more entertaining.

Apart from that language issue, Lords Of Chaos is extremely well produced, presenting a fantastic photography, including some stunning scenes from Norway’s unique nature and landscapes and, of course, strong colors and imagery to represent the main characters’ depression, madness and fears, and the story flows smoothly with very few plot holes (and historical inaccuracies) until the end. Furthermore, it’s nice to see how human all those musicians were, despite the fact many of their fans like to idolize them (as we pretty much do with any member of our favorite bands no matter which type of music they play). For instance, in one of the first scenes of the movie, we can see Euronymous, Dead and the others partying outdoors like any regular teenager, listening to some ass-kicking, old school metal hymns, having a lot of beer and trying to impress the girls around them. No murder, no arson, nor anything like that, only kids enjoying life and trying to find their place in society. As simple as that, just like many, many Black Metal bands reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose who focus on their music rather than on violent or illegal activities.

In addition, although Jonas Åkerlund stated in a 2018 interview that he used little Black Metal in the movie in part because “it’s kind of painful to listen to black metal music if you’re not used to it or don’t love it,” there’s still a lot of good Black Metal and other types of extreme and not-so-extreme music played throughout the entire movie. While watching it, get ready to bang your head and raise your horns to classics such as Funeral Fog by Mayhem, Inri and Satanic Lust by Sarcofago, Fast as a Shark by Accept, Stand up and Shout by Dio, Born for Burning, Sacrifice and The Return of Darkness and Evil by Bathory, Outbreak of Evil by Sodom, Serpent Eye by Cathedral, and Exhume To Consume by Carcass, among several others. Not only that, there are obviously some very entertaining scenes where both Mayhem and Burzum are either rehearsing, recording in the studio or playing live, which by the way is one of my favorite musical moments of the movie, with Mayhem’s chaotic sound mixed with the bloody and demented performance by their frontman Dead being the undisputed depiction of True Norwegian Black Metal.

Anyway, the main topic presented during the whole movie is obviously the extremely delicate relationships between Euronymous and Dead during what can be considered the first phase of Mayhem (until the always perturbed Dead loses it and commits suicide by blowing his brains out with a shotgun, with Euronymous taking a picture of his deceased friend and turning it into the disturbing cover art of their 1995 bootleg live album Dawn of the Black Hearts), and especially between Euronymous and the one who would become his arch nemesis in the end, the beyond controversial Varg. I mean, Dead was absolutely nuts from the very beginning, and apparently he’s always been like that due to a very tough childhood where he was bullied and beaten all the time at school, and Euronymous was just a regular musician until turning into a Black Metal beast with excellent sales, marketing and promotion skills, but the transformation of Varg from a chubby guy who liked Scorpions into a total lunatc who would reach the point of burning churches in the name of Black Metal is simply fantastic. For instance, pay good attention to the whole scene where Varg invites the press to his “lair” and tells them his name is “Count Grishnackh”, among other ridiculous comments and statements he makes. That’s hilarious and could have easily been included in any American teen movie.

And Jonas Åkerlund keeps humanizing all characters the entire movie, showing how Euronymous got some money from his father to open Helvete and start his record label, how Varg got money from his mother to help record a Mayhem album (and kept asking Euronymous for that money to pay his mom back), and how Faust couldn’t stop watching horror movies, which was one of the reasons why he got so interested in killing someone, or as he said, in piercing a knife through someone’s body like in the movies. And unless you come from a different dimension and knows absolutely nothing about True Norwegian Black Metal, you’ll be relatively shocked with how things turn at the end of the movie when Varg, feeling betrayed by his former friend Euronymous, who according to Varg himself turned his back not only to him but to the “Black Metal Inner Circle” and to the entire scene to focus on his musical career and on his girlfriend, decides to put an end to their relationship for good (or I should say not good at all). Let’s say Euronymous was what Dani Filth, from Cradle Of Filth, and Nergal, from Behemoth, are nowadays, an excellent performer and musician with a normal life backstage, which somehow sparks a lot of rage from the ones who consider themselves “true Black Metal fans”, got it?

There are many interviews and videos online where Jonas Åkerlund, Rory Culkin and Emory Cohen discuss Lords Of Chaos, like this one with BUILD Series NYC, and you can also find more information about the movie directly from their Facebook page, Twitter and Intagram. However, I highly recommend you avoid all that before watching Lords Of Chaos (don’t even watch the trailer below), as a few of those interviews and videos might “ruin” some important parts of the movie for you. Put differently, turn off the lights and light up some candles, turn off your smart phone, put on your most diabolical metal shirt, grab a beer or some red wine, and dive deep into the beautiful but somber Norway together with Euronymous, Dead and Varg, and become a “lord of chaos” yourself. You’re going to love this movie or completely hate it, but at least give it a try and then see what you think about it.

Best moments of the movie: Every scene where Euronymous interacts with either Dead or Varg is excellent. Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen and Jack Kilmer do a pretty solid job playing those three iconic characters.

Worst moments of the movie: As aforementioned, the fact that all dialogues are spoken in English and not in Norwegian, despite the entire movie being set in the beautiful Norway and based on Norwegian characters.

Released in 2018 Gunpowder & Sky/Arrow Films

Directed by Jonas Åkerlund

Cast
Rory Culkin – Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth
Emory Cohen – Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes
Jack Kilmer – Pelle ‘Dead’ Ohlin
Sky Ferreira – Ann-Marit
Valter Skarsgård – Bård Guldvik ‘Faust’ Eithun
Anthony De La Torre – Jan Axel ‘Hellhammer’ Blomberg
Jonathan Barnwell – Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud
Full cast & crew

Album Review – Zohamah / Spread My Ashes (2019)

Combining Black, Death and Doom Metal into a poisonous but intoxicating musical cocktail, here comes an Israeli one-man band armed with his excellent debut opus.

An intentionally cryptic band from Israel, Black/Death Metal one-man army Zohamah, which by the way is an expression taken from the Kabbalah that translates to “darkness” or “pollution”, a form of evil that results in kilkull (or spiritual damage), is unleashing upon humanity its first full-length opus, entitled Spread My Ashes, a follow-up to its debut EP Manic Depression, from 2017. Combining Black, Death and Doom Metal into a poisonous but intoxicating musical cocktail, Zohamah is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist H.M. (also known as Hezi Menashe), known from several underground bands such as Romuvos, Spawn of Evil and Immaterial, with all lyrics and music being written by H.M. himself, not to mention the album was also recorded, mixed and mastered by this extremely talented Israeli metaller.

The howling wind warns us all there’s a Black and Doom Metal storm coming in the opening track New World, generated by the somber gnarls and damned riffs blasted by H.M. It couldn’t have sounded more devilish than this, with H.M. also showcasing his superior skills on drums. Then presenting a Black Sabbath-inspired main riff enfolded in absolute obscurity we have The Darkness Whispers in My Ear, where H.M. is once again on fire with his demonic roars and intricate beats amidst the song’s hypnotizing rhythm; followed by Zohamah’s 2017 single, named Emptiness, a feast of the most Stygian sounds a man can generate, with his scorching hot guitar lines blending beautifully with his rumbling bass and rhythmic drumming, bringing elements from the most diverse types of classic extreme music.

A lot more Death Metal than its predecessors, which is noticeable specially on H.M.’s deeper growls, Black Cloud offers three minutes of aggressive, sulfurous and ruthless sounds, and the music remains vibrant and grim until all fades into pitch black darkness, whereas Broken Mirror is another demented creation by H.M., presenting the most melancholic and obscure elements from underground Blackened Doom. In addition, H.M. growls in a true desperate manner, bursting his lungs in pain and anguish. The title-track Spread My Ashes is a disturbing and harmonious instrumental bridge, building the ambience for the song that carries the name of the project, Zohamah, to captivate our senses with its neck-breaking pace, infernal screams and blast beats, ending the album on a high (and visceral) note just the way we love in underground extreme music.

It doesn’t really matter if you appreciate the works of one-man bands like Zohamah or not, you should definitely take a shot at Spread My Ashes, available in its entirety on on YouTube and on Spotify, as this is one of those albums that perfectly represent all the talent, hard work, passion for heavy music and darkness found in the independent Extreme Metal scene. If after listening to Spread My Ashes you feel like you want to know more about H.M. and his Zohamah (and I’m sure you will), you can follow him on Facebook, and show him your utmost support by purchasing the album from the Redefining Darkness Records’ BandCamp page, from the Hells Headbangers’ webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. In the end, H.M. is not only spreading his ashes on us with Zohamah’s brand new album, but also showing all of us fans of metal music that the Israeli scene is a lot more interesting, vibrant and obscure than we can imagine.

Best moments of the album: The Darkness Whispers in My Ear and Broken Mirror.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Redefining Darkness Records

Track listing
1. New World 4:45
2. The Darkness Whispers in My Ear 4:38
3. Emptiness 5:04
4. Black Cloud 3:14
5. Broken Mirror 4:29
6. Spread My Ashes 1:52
7. Zohamah 5:42

Band members
H.M. – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Inferitvm / The Grimoires (2019)

Telling the story of the most important forbidden grimoires in European history, this unrelenting Spanish horde delivers an excellent album that lives up to the legacy of 90’s Black Metal.

Born in 2014 in Palma de Mallorca, a resort city located in the Balearic Islands in Spain, with the task of putting the Black Metal genre back in the shadow of the glory it had in the 90’s, following the label from the most infamous bands from that period as a pure conceptual beginning (but excluding arsoning or murders, of course), the unstoppable horde that goes by the name of Inferitvm has just released their sophomore album The Grimoires, an epic story about black magic, esoteric rituals and all the different ingredients of true classical Black Metal. Having said that, do you accept the challenge of deciphering the forbidden texts that Inferitvm have brought back to life?

Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Sorcerer V., guitarist Lord Insekkton, bassist Aghanazzar and drummer Bârg, the sound of Inferitvm is fast, raw and full of details and reminiscences, with bands like Emperor and Immortal, as well as several other renowned groups from Norway, Sweden and Finland, serving as the main inspiration for their music. Telling the story of the most important forbidden grimoires in European history, delving into the miseries and stories behind them, The Grimoires is a manual for unraveling all the mysteries of black magic, with a symphonic twist that will undoubtedly surprise all who enjoy devilish and extreme music. Furthermore, the album brings some orchestral variations which end up helping to introduce your mind into the concept and imagery of an album that’s definitely “not for children”, with its lyrics being based on ancient spells and rituals of esoteric origin, and with the majority of recital refrains expressing the prayers and rituals in a solemn and profound way.

Phantasmagorical keys generate a menacing ambience in the intro Trithemius, before Inferitvm comes ripping with the sonic onrush titled Codex Gigas, where Sorcerer V. gnarls and vociferates like a demon to the imposing beast by Bârg. Moreover, Sorcerer v. and Lord Insekkton bring tons of melody to the musicality with their strings, flirting with contemporary Melodic Black Metal but still sounding loyal to the foundations of classic Black Metal. Then their devastation goes on in the sulfurous and pulverizing Clavicula Salomonis, a lecture in Black Metal bringing forward the most malevolent elements of the genre spearheaded by Sorcerer V.’s infernal roars; and there’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps blasting sheer obscurity through their damned instruments in Malleus Maleficarum, with Sorcerer V. and Lord Insekkton being on fire with their riffs and solos throughout this marching mass of absolute evil.

In Goetia of Shadows, Bârg and Aghanazzar keep smashing their instruments nonstop, generating a reverberating sound that will please all fans of the genre, all balanced by some very harmonious guitar lines and hellish growls, whereas Galdabrök is another hammering, disturbing hymn of darkness by Inferitvm, with Bârg and his pounding drums dictating the rhythm while Sorcerer V. grasps the song’s obscure lyrics poetically and darkly. In Liber Lux Tenebris, the scorching hot guitars by Sorcerer V. and Lord Insekkton add a touch of Doom Metal to their already infernal music before all hell breaks loose in another feast of old school Black Metal perfect for banging your head in the name of evil. And De Occulta Philosophia is probably one of the most disturbing songs of the whole album (if not the most), where all band members make sure they extract the most Stygian sounds form their instruments, in special the band’s infernal guitar duo with their classic riffage, ending in the most unsettling way possible.

Fortunately for all fans of extreme music, the last batch of songs from The Grimoires is just as thrilling and vile as the rest of the album, starting with La Poule Noire, presenting a classic Scandinavian Black Metal sound with the band’s own twist, sounding as violent as it can be, with its guitar solos creating an interesting paradox with the blast beats delivered by Bârg; followed by De Praestigiis Daemonum, a truly infernal aria where Inferitvm crush our minds mercilessly with their brutality, darkness and rage, or in other words, a demolishing Black Metal tune with a few breaks and variations added to bring more taste and punch to the overall result. And last but not least, the cryptic vocalizations by Sorcerer V. ignite the closing tune titled De Umbrarum Regni, spiced up with nuances of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, remaining creepy and atmospheric until its visceral ending.

In a nutshell, this unstoppable Spanish horde more than succeeds in telling stories of black magic and evil spells in the form of the pulverizing Black Metal found in The Grimoires (available for a full listen on Spotify), and in order to show your true support to those four horsemen of old school Black Metal simply follow them on Facebook, and grab your copy of such distinct album from their BandCamp page, from the Inverse Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. Because, in the end, all you have to do is let the ancient spells and malignancy flowing from the music by Inferitvm consume your soul, keeping the flame of 90’s Black Metal burning bright for decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Clavicula Salomonis, Malleus Maleficarum and De Occulta Philosophia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Trithemius 1:23
2. Codex Gigas 5:46
3. Clavicula Salomonis 6:55
4. Malleus Maleficarum 6:23
5. Goetia of Shadows 6:04
6. Galdabrök 5:14
7. Liber Lux Tenebris 5:41
8. De Occulta Philosophia 7:01
9. La Poule Noire 5:30
10. De Praestigiis Daemonum 5:02
11. De Umbrarum Regni 5:26

Band members
Sorcerer V. – vocals, guitar
Lord Insekkton – guitar
Aghanazzar – bass
Bârg – drums