Album Review – Through Chaos & Solitude / The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun EP (2017)

A classy and meaningful Melodic Black Metal project aiming at opening our eyes and show us that we, mankind, are our own blessing and our own curse.

“The thawing winds of the morning sun is us. Mankind. We are our own blessing and our own curse. We are the stroke of wing which causes these winds to blow. We try to become god ourselves while declaring him for dead and still we deny our nature. We subdue the earth and its children and still we strive for more. By now we already realized our purpose and we willingly choose to neglect it. We’re flying directly into the sun and still we’re accelerating…”

These dark, poetic words perfectly summarize the music you’ll find in The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun, the debut demo by German Melodic Black Metal project Through Chaos & Solitude, led by multi-instrumentalist Tim Rule (Forward to Eden) with the help of Sebastian D. (Castigator) on drums. Featuring a serene cover art by Pottriot Illustrationen, and written, recorded and mixed by Tim himself during this past winter in the city of Ruhrpott in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state of Germany, The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun brings beautiful, melancholic and dark music in the vein of bands like Woods Of Ypres, Agalloch and Falls Of Rauros, with each one of its three songs sending a thoughtful message about life and death, our souls, our existence and our struggles.

The initial sound of the howling wind in the first song of the demo, titled The Intransigence Of The Soul, is suddenly joined by an onrush of heavy guitars and blast beats, with the demonic gnarls by Tim giving life (or I should say death) to the song’s poetic lyrics (“Constant struggle of the mind and the heart / Constant suspense of the body and the mind / Persistency in the thought – restlessly moving on / Intransigence of the soul…”). Furthermore, anguish, despair and loneliness are just a few of the emotions explored by Tim in this piercing Black Metal chant, ending in an acoustic and pensive manner before we face the second piece of the demo, A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth), which builds a direct bridge to the opening track, beginning in a slow-paced rhythm inspired by the obscurity of Doom and Gothic Metal, also showcasing acute Black Metal blast beats by Sebastian D. and a somber ambience. Tim’s phantasmagoric vocals embrace us in darkness at first, shifting to his hellish growls and back to melodic clean vocals and, therefore, creating a nice paradox of voices inside our minds.

Also connected to its predecessor, If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed brings forward obscure acoustic guitars and once again the haunting sound of the wind while Tim darkly grasps the song’s austere lyrics, which present his personal view of mankind (“Evolution has brought us so far / And still – look where we are / Creating life and taking life / All in the same conceited breath / We are appointing ourselves to gods / Whereas declaring him for dead / If this is the best we can be / Then please let it end with me / Evolution has brought us so far…”). In addition, this composition is another excellent sample of the clash of distinct sounds Tim enjoys putting together, displaying slow and steady beats à la Doom Metal during its first half, whereas the second part of the song brings an explosion of heavy and dissonant sounds that lives up to the legacy of Scandinavian Black Metal, until it finally reaches its lugubrious ending.

In summary, Tim and his Through Chaos & Solitude are not only offering us well-crafted, harmonious and dark heavy music, but he also discusses important topics about the dangerous direction mankind is taking, pointing to our dread but inevitable extinction. If you’re a metalhead that’s always in pursuit of high-end music coming from independent artists and bands who also care about the content and message transmitted through their creations, Through Chaos & Solitude might be exactly what you’re craving, and obviously don’t forget support this brand new project by purchasing The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun at the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore (in tape or CD format), at the Mark My Words Records’ BandCamp or webstore, or at Discogs. Let’s hope Tim goes on with Through Chaos & Solitude, a classy project with a meaningful message that only brings more energy to his already excellent Melodic Black Metal, and that mankind finally opens their eyes for all the wrongful things that are happening in our world before it’s too late.

Best moments of the album: The Intransigence Of The Soul.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bound By Modern Age Records/Mark My Words Records

Track listing
1. The Intransigence Of The Soul 7:58
2. A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth) 5:10
3. If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed 6:37

Band members
Tim Rule – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Sebastian D. – drums

Album Review – Corpus Diavolis / Atra Lumen (2017)

Open your mind and follow the black light formed of ritualistic Black, Death and Doom Metal by this extremely talented horde hailing from France.

Musically conceiving a ritualistic feeling into the vibes of Black Metal, the unstoppable French horde known as Corpus Diavolis has never been tempted to lose themselves on their own musical maelstrom since their inception in 2008 in the city of Marseille, located in the always beautiful Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. After the release of their debut EP Nightsky Orgia in 2009 and their highly acclaimed full-length albums Revolucia in 2010 and Entheogenesis in 2013, the band led by multi-instrumentalist Daemonicreator brings forth now in 2017 Atra Lumen, a monumental opus tailored for fans of the darkest side of music.

Atra Lumen, which means “black light” in Latin, blends the band’s unrelenting Black, Death and Doom Metal with concepts such as Shamanism, ceremonial magic, tarot, the esoteric journey of English occultist Aleister Crowley and the philosophical transcendence of Chilean-French artist and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky, penetrating your skin, your mind and your heart and, consequently, enfolding you in a dark and mystical aura from start to finish. Each one of its eight tracks is unique, obscure and ominous, showcasing not only the talent of each member of Corpus Diavolis, but also how vicious and mesmerizing their creations feel when every distinct sound is thoroughly put together.

We’re invited to enter the gates of the underworld to the sound of the opening track, named Revelations Before Dawn, where doomed beats and a menacing ambience warm up the listener before Daemonicreator begins vociferating like a demon, with guitarists Analyser and Lord Khaos, together with bassist Funeral, delivering pure old school Black Metal through their instruments. The low-tuned riffs by Analyser and Lord Khaos and the rhythmic blast beats by drummer IX generate a hellish atmosphere in the Black Metal feast The Ardent Jewel of His Presence, once again showcasing all the potency and malignancy of the music by Corpus Diavolis; followed by L’Oeil Unique, or “the one eye” from French, uniting the most obscure forms of Black and Doom Metal (feeling almost like Blackened Doom), with highlights to the precise drumming by IX and to the Stygian way Daemonicreator declaims the song’s lyrics.

Signs Of End Times displays a truly devilish start to another powerful, full-bodied creation by Corpus Diavolis, before all hell breaks loose and Daemonicreator begins growling his blasphemous words potently, not mention the amazing job done by the duo of darkness Analyser and Lord Khaos with their demonic guitars. The next track, nicely entitled Wine of The Beast, brings forward more Doom Metal beats and somber passages by Daemonicreator and his followers, sounding slow-paced and diabolical at times, and faster and full of hatred at others. Furthermore, as a fan of extreme music, do you think you have the guts to drink the wine of the beast? Before you can even answer that, bells tolling ignite another evil aria of Black Metal titled Flesh to Flesh, again offering the most obscure elements of Doom Metal added to their already darkened music, with Analyser and Lord Khaos leading the sonority with their cutting old school riffage.

With sheer irreligiousness emanating from its riffs and blast beats, Thy Glorification is a violent, straightforward tune that leans towards Norwegian Black Metal where we can enjoy another nefarious performance by Daemonicreator on vocals, while the instrumental pieces get heavier, more impactful and more aggressive as the music progresses. And last but not least, Sick Waters, which presents a horror-inspired cinematic intro, is a very atmospheric chant focusing on the devilish gnarls by Daemonicreator and the steady but potent beats by IX. Moreover, the song’s beautiful fusion of the aggressiveness of Black Metal with the mournful aspects of Doom Metal closes the album in a blackened way, leaving us all eager for more of the extreme spawns by Corpus Diavolis.

Not only you can follow this awesome horde of esotericism and wickedness through their Facebook page and purchase your copy of Atra Lumen at several locations, such as the band’s own webshop or BandCamp, the ATMF’s webshop or BandCamp, the Season of Mist’s webshop, Amazon or Discogs (and pay attention as the physical copy of the album is limited to 400 copies only in digipak format with an extensive booklet), but Corpus Diavolis are also going to be one of the attractions at the first ATMF Festival, which will take place at the Eresia Metalfest on July 2 this year in Resia, located in the province of Udine, in Italy. In a nutshell, all you have to do to relish the extreme music by Corpus Diavolis is open your mind and your heart, surrender to their ritualistic sounds, and follow their black light formed of Black, Death and Doom Metal, as simple as that.

Best moments of the album: The Ardent Jewel of His Presence, Signs Of End Times and Thy Glorification.

Worst moments of the album: Flesh to Flesh.

Released in 2017 Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum

Track listing
1. Revelations Before Dawn 6:22
2. The Ardent Jewel of His Presence 5:52
3. L’Oeil Unique 5:54
4. Signs Of End Times 4:12
5. Wine of The Beast 6:27
6. Flesh to Flesh 4:52
7. Thy Glorification 3:37
8. Sick Waters 6:46

Band members
Daemonicreator – vocals, synths, theremine
Analyser – lead guitars
Lord Khaos – guitars
Funeral – bass
IX – drums

Album Review – Hellfire / Goat Revenge EP (2017)

From the ominous pits of the Ukrainian underworld, comes a triad of black metallers ready to crush your soul with their demolishing debut album.

Are you ready for a demonic storm of Black Metal made in Ukraine, with strong influences from old school Thrash and Death Metal? If instead of simply answering yes you began banging your head and raised your devilish horns, then the darkened, blasphemous music crafted by the vicious power trio known as Hellfire in their debut EP titled Goat Revenge might be exactly what you’re looking for in extreme music. In a little less than 25 minutes, Hellfire unleash sheer fury and hatred upon humanity in Goat Revenge (which by the way features a beyond traditional and macabre artwork by artist Oleg Satanyugin), showcasing all their loyalty and passion for underground Black Metal.

Forged in 2014 in the hellish fires of Kremenchuk, an important industrial city in the Poltava Oblast, in central Ukraine, by lead singer and guitarist Karagh and bassist Necrobaphomet (former members of Ukrainian Black Metal band Paranomia), Hellfire have been gaining a lot of positive feedback wherever they play in their homeland, inspiring the trio to keep moving forward and never turning their backs to traditional Black Metal. If you check their biography online, you’ll see they don’t assign “regular instruments” to themselves, but they use more obscure words to describe their roles in the band. Karagh is responsible for “all guitar holocaust, screams and bulldozer”, Necrobaphomet takes care of the “four strings fornication and obscurant propaganda”, and their third element, drummer Skullcrusher, provides the “drums of doom and coffins”. After reading that, how putrid and aggressive do you think Hellfire might sound?

Goat Revenge starts with an Intro comprised of a minute of flies buzzing, gun shots and ominous sounds, directly followed by the cutting tune Hellmass Attack, where the band delivers devilish Black Metal with huge influences from Death Metal and hints of the badass Rock N’ Roll by Motörhead. Moreover, Karagh blasts pure evilness through his demonic growls and metallic riffs, boosting the song’s already visceral sonority. Following a similar pattern from its predecessor, the title-track Goat Revenge is led by the infernal and rhythmic beats by Skullcrusher, while its main riff will incite you to bang your head nonstop. In addition to that, Karagh sounds filthier on vocals than before, with Necrobaphomet maintaining a high level of obscurity in the music with his roaring bass guitar.

War Apocalypse Battery, another thunderous, badass composition by Hellfire and a mandatory choice for their live performances, presents a solid melody without abandoning the band’s old school sonority thanks to the amazing job done by all band members, in special Karagh with his fiery guitar; whereas investing in a darker and more visceral Black Metal sounding, the power trio fires pure hatred and evil through their music in Field of Screams, with Skullcrusher doing justice to his nickname by pounding his drums manically. And adding some groove to their musicality, Unholy Cult presents a more rhythmic display of their blasphemous Black Metal, with Karagh and Necrobaphomet slashing their strings in a powerful way while Skullcrusher takes care of the intricacy in the music through his beats.

Unleash the Beast is the closest the band gets to the most primeval form of Black Metal, with the song’s fiendish gnarls and blast beats impregnating the air and disturbing our minds. Not only that, Karagh once again offers the listener trenchant riffs during the whole song, and maybe because it’s the longest of all tracks it’s also the one presenting the highest amount of progressiveness and variations, resulting in an amazing full-flavored Extreme Metal chant. Lastly, the band hits us ruthlessly with their most vile fusion of Black and Death Metal titled Lord of the Mighty Horns, one more great option for their live concerts. The drumming by Skullcrusher reminds me of old school Cannibal Corpse, while Necrobaphomet leads the song’s pugnacious ending with his rumbling bass lines, concluding the album on an extremely savage note.

If you have the guts to brave the ominous pits of the Ukrainian underworld to the sound of Hellfire, simply visit their Facebook or VKontakte for news about the band (including their tour dates if you live in Ukraine or if you’re planning on visiting the country anytime soon), listen to Goat Revenge on Spotify, and purchase your copy of the album at the Witches Brew’s BandCamp or webshop, on iTunes or on Amazon. Hellfire will certainly crush your soul with their unrelenting Black Metal, which in the end is everything you crave when listening to good extreme music, right?

Best moments of the album: Hellmass Attack, War Apocalypse Battery and Unleash the Beast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Witches Brew/Iron County Records

Track listing
1. Intro 0:53
2. Hellmass Attack 2:43
3. Goat Revenge 3:37
4. War Apocalypse Battery 3:44
5. Field of Screams 2:29
6. Unholy Cult 2:53
7. Unleash the Beast 4:39
8. Lord of the Mighty Horns 3:24

Band members
Karagh – guitars, vocals
Necrobaphomet – bass
Skullcrusher – drums

Album Review – Nighon / The Somme (2017)

Inspired by cinematic music and all extreme forms of metal, this up-and-coming Finnish squad presents their new concept album with stories from World War I, World War II and the crisis we see in our world today.

Greatly inspired by cinematic music and all extreme forms of metal, blending darkness with light in a unique and aggressive sound, Finnish Symphonic Shock Metal troopers Nighon are releasing their second full-length opus, entitled The Somme, a concept album with stories from World War I, World War II, the similarities between those events and the crisis we see today in our world. Sounding much more extreme than Nighon’s 2014 debut album Cor Oblivionis, The Somme is supposed to be heard in its entirety without any pauses or breaks, in order to provide the listener an in-depth, detailed view of the whole concept behind the music.

Formed in 2008 in Pietarsaari, Finland, this up-and-coming sextet not only delivers high-end music to metalheads all over the world, but they also host their own podcast called Nighon Propaganda-cast, where the idea is to provide uncensored content and a free flow of information, discussing themes such as literature, politics, several different types of music, nature and arts in general, among others. The diversity of topics found in their podcast will give you an idea of how creative the band is, and how much they’re all willing to explore new ideas and transform everything into good heavy music. Furthermore, if you’re ready to war, The Somme might be the perfect soundtrack for you to rise up, bringing a precise balance between heavy, melodic sounds and a more-than-meaningful content.

The album starts with the ominous intro Marseille 1914, narrating the tragic event that happened on June 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie were shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I by early August that same year. After that history lesson, The Greatest Of Catastrophes (a blend of the outbreak of World War I and the Ukraine crisis) brings forward modern Symphonic Metal with hints of Industrial and Melodic Death Metal, exploding into a thrilling musicality led by the potent clean vocals by Alva Sandström and showcasing a great balance between mechanized sounds and more melodic, powerful lines, therefore enhancing the song’s impact. The Dirge goes straight to the point, being utterly ferocious through the growls by Nico Häggblom and the brutal riffs by Michael Mikander and Björn Johansson, not to mention how potently the bass by Mats Ödahl will hit you in the face, with Alva once again bringing  light to all darkness blasted by the rest of the band. And just as symphonic and rampant as its predecessor, Lest We Forget presents all instruments exhaling a truly metallic vibe, in special the bass lines by Mats and the nonstop beats by Mika Paananen. However, in my opinion the only problem is that the song never decides if it’s a power ballad or a traditional heavy tune, getting a bit confusing at times.

Medic works as an eerie bridge to the vicious Blow Them To Hell, an aggressive composition tailored for fans of Dimmu Borgir where Nico growls deeper than ever, while Mika continues to deliver his arsenal of blast beats, not to mention the elements from Black Metal added to the musicality which end up increasing the song’s overall darkness even more. During World War II, there was a German naval base along the Kåfjorden, which branches off the main Altafjord, another short, ominous bridge to Scharnhorst, inspired by a battleship from Nazi Germany and displaying a well-balanced fusion of modern metal music and old school Death and Black Metal. Michael, Björn and Mats make sure our necks break in half with the headbanging sounds coming from their strings, with the musicality also presenting a good amount of epicness to help the band tell the desired story during the song’s almost nine minutes.

Leaning towards traditional Melodic Death Metal with hints of Industrial Metal (which ends up giving it a more menacing aura), Reclaiming Ravenpoint presents an amazing vocal duo by Nico and Alva, with their harsh growls and clean vocals complementing each other’s performance beautifully. Even weirder than the other instrumental passages and bridges, You Do Not Know What The Night May Bring consists of a phantom voice repeating the song’s name like a mantra, before the neck-breaking chant Minor Secundus comes crushing with its amazing guitars, bass and drums. However, what seems to be pure heaviness evolves into a more melodic sonority thanks to the vocals by Alva and the song’s electrifying vibe, which only makes the whole experience of listening to such excellent tune even better.

Tragédie reminds me of some of the best songs by Lacuna Coil, being one of the fastest and most dynamic of all songs with Nico firing his hellish screams in contrast with Alva’s delicate but potent voice. This full-bodied creation by Nighon not only feels like a movie score, but Mika’s precise performance once again on drums deserves our humble appreciation. And their dark symphony of war goes on in I Fear For Tomorrow, featuring Mathias Lillmåns (Finntroll, Magenta Harvest, Chthonian), with the extremely aggressive vocal lines and heavier-than-hell riffs being the highlights of the song. Nevertheless, despite being a good composition with a decent pace, it lacks more creativity to ignite the spark inside us metalheads. Lastly, the title-track Somme, inspired by the Battle of the Somme, a battle of World War I fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire, showcases a touching beginning with the mournful sound of the bagpipes signing to the end of the conflict, morphing into a power ballad with Alva leading the music while Michael delivers the most beautiful solo of the entire album, with the music smoothly flowing into an impactful ending.

You can get more details on the music by Nighon at their Facebook page and SoundCloud, and purchase The Somme at the Inverse Records’ webstore, at Record Shop X or on Amazon. It seems that our leaders and rulers never learn the lesson, with the threat of a new war always haunting the innocent in our modern-day society, and if you want to learn a little more about the wars from the past and their outcomes, The Somme might be an interesting source of information for your studies, with the advantage of being loud, fast and heavy, of course.

Best moments of the album: The Greatest Of Catastrophes, The Dirge, Minor Secundus and Tragédie.

Worst moments of the album: Lest We Forget and I Fear For Tomorrow.

Released in 2017 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Marseille 1914 1:24
2. The Greatest Of Catastrophes 4:01
3. The Dirge 4:43
4. Lest We Forget 5:11
5. Medic 0:52
6. Blow Them To Hell 6:03
7. Altafjord 0:44
8. Scharnhorst 8:36
9. Reclaiming Ravenpoint 5:32
10. You Do Not Know What The Night May Bring 2:09
11. Minor Secundus 4:47
12. Tragédie 4:29
13. I Fear For Tomorrow (feat. Mathias Lillmåns) 5:47
14. Somme 7:09

Band members
Nico Häggblom – harsh vocals
Alva Sandström – clean female vocals
Michael Mikander – lead guitar
Björn Johansson – guitar
Mats Ödahl – bass
Mika Paananen – drums

Guest musician
Mathias Lillmåns – additional vocals on “I Fear For Tomorrow”

Album Review – Ritual of Odds / Ritual of IX (2017)

Join the wrathful and mordant ritual spearheaded by the Melodic Death Metal masters of underground Greek music.

Formed in the year of 2003 in Patras, Greece’s third-largest city and the regional capital of Western Greece, Melodic Death Metal quartet Ritual of Odds (known as Existence Edge until 2005) is unleashing upon us their third full-length installment, peculiarly titled Ritual of IX, taking influences from renowned bands such as At The Gates, In Flames and Carcass. Forging a unique sound by infusing elements of Thrash, Horror and Epic Metal into their own musicality, Ritual of Odds will show you with Ritual of IX why they’ve been called the “Melodic Death Metal Masters of Greece”, blasting a high-quality fusion of harmony and havoc throughout the album’s ten unrelenting compositions.

One curious fact about the band is that, before Ritual of IX, their two previous full-length albums were released on the same year, in 2010, those being Underverse and God is an Atheist (not to mention their highly acclaimed demo entitled Building Up the Underverse, from 2008). In addition, the band has already toured Europe and the United States to support the release of their albums, sharing the stage with important names like Paul Di’Anno, Septicflesh and Nightrage. With such a strong background both inside the studio and on the road, it isn’t a surprise to anyone that the music found in Ritual of IX would sound so cohesive and energetic, reinforcing the band’s importance in contemporary Melodic Death Metal.

Tailored for fans of the modern metal played by Arch Enemy blended with old school In Flames, the title-track Ritual of 9 offers a constant and aggressive drumming by Petros Haritos, while the vocals by Kostas Fotopoulos lean towards a more visceral fusion of Death and Black Metal, inviting the listener to the band’s own ritual (“Deteriorated in agony – Screw it all and gone with me / There’s no escape / Insanity / The limitless eternity / A life infected with vanity? / Welcome to a new reality / Wither and die? – Ritual of 9 / This is the ritual of 9”). In Hunt You Down, a somber beginning flows into an atmospheric, dark composition where a possessed Kostas leads his bandmates in an extremely vile onslaught, with guitarist Nikolas Perlepes delivering some classic melodic and headbanging riffs; followed by Feargas, bringing elements from Progressive and Groove Metal while singing about modern-day topics (“Who do you think you are? / Your nations look like herds of sheep / Intoxicated souls with lies and fear / Lethal frequencies radio, TV / Twisted minds tell me how I should be / For fuck sake I’m not a part of your army of zombies”). Moreover, the infernal gnarls by Kostas are powerfully supported by the rhythmic and heavy beats by Petros during the entire song.

Displaying a great name for a metal tune, Hate at First Sight presents a weird intro with excerpts from different TV and radio news, quickly turning into more pounding music by these talented Greeks. In a nutshell, this is the type of song made to lacerate your neck headbanging, with its drums sounding like a machine gun. Sirens in the background warn Ritual of Odds are coming to crush with their violent metal music in A Part of Me, showcasing a modernized sonority thanks to the guitar lines by Nikolas, but of course without losing the essence of Melodic Death Metal. And following almost the same tone and pace as its predecessor we have Digital Hell, a fantastic song to make people jump up and down during their live concerts with the bass lines by Marios Kanellopoulos emanating those thunderous, groovy sounds that beautifully increase the song’s impact.

The kick-ass neck-breaking tune Why So Serious is their personal tribute to the iconic Joker played by Heath Ledger (R.I.P.), with its intro (and chorus) being inspired by one of the most memorable scenes in the history of action movies, while the music itself is as violent and demented as the Joker, especially through the deep growling by Kostas. Put differently, how not to enjoy this smashing creation by Ritual of Odds? And there’s more of the band’s stabbing musicality, as the riffs in the fast and berserk Greed exhale pure metal, also presenting very harmonious guitar lines and nonstop beats, which altogether will work really well when the song is played live, whereas The Dual Substance of Man, also sounding modern and old school at the same time, is perhaps the closest one to traditional Death Metal, with Nikolas having a great performance with his riffs and solos. Lastly, in the eerie and obscure What I’ve Become, a psychological song about violence, death, hatred and all other “nice things” that transform the human being into a beast, a solid instrumental provides Kostas exactly what’s needed for his vocals to get more deranged and pugnacious.

After listening to the potent music by Ritual of Odds, I’m sure you’ll be more than eager to be part of the band’s melodic and vicious ritual, and that’s why I’m going to be very helpful by providing you the links to their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation. And, as usual, you can support Greek metal and heavy music in general by grabbing your copy of Ritual of IX at the Swimming With Sharks Records’ BandCamp page (which includes as a more-than-amazing bonus a free download of the band’s 2010 album God is an Atheist) or on Amazon. These guys are not called the “Melodic Death Metal Masters of Greece” in vain, and you’ll certainly start referring to them as that after adding Ritual of IX to your private collection of underground metal.

Best moments of the album: Ritual of 9, Digital Hell and Why So Serious.

Worst moments of the album: The Dual Substance of Man.

Released in 2017 Swimming With Sharks Records

Track listing
1. Ritual of 9 3:15
2. Hunt You Down 5:38
3. Feargas 3:54
4. Hate at First Sight 4:09
5. A Part of Me 3:20
6. Digital Hell 3:36
7. Why So Serious 4:12
8. Greed 3:40
9. The Dual Substance of Man 3:23
10. What I’ve Become 5:49

Band members
Kostas Fotopoulos – vocals
Nikolas Perlepes – guitars
Marios Kanellopoulos – bass
Petros Haritos – drums

Album Review – Bathsheba / Servus (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Svart Records

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

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

Album Review – Mord’A’Stigmata / Hope (2017)

Explore the obscure sea of negativity and spirituality crafted by this up-and-coming Polish unit, all embraced by atmospheric passages, caustic guitars and tormented growls.

Formed by guitarist, composer and main visionary Static in 2004 in Bochnia, a town located only around 50km from the multicultural city of Kraków, in southern Poland, Black/Avantgarde Metal act Mord’A’Stigmata has been on a constant growth since the band’s inception, reinventing themselves year after year with each album released and, at the same time, maintaining a reasonable distance from the main routes taken by extreme music in general. After the considerable success of their 2013 full-length album Ansia and their 2015 EP Our Hearts Slow Down, Mord’A’Stigmata return with their fourth full-length album, titled Hope, a bold musical statement that has all it takes to become their most accomplished work to date.

Divided into four distinct chapters, Hope is a ride into the palest corners of the void within oneself, a landscape of deep melancholy adorned with sparks of light that will please fans of bands such as Agalloch, Neurosis and Altar of Plagues. The album’s enigmatic artwork, designed by Bartek Rogalewicz from Hellywood (who has already worked with iconic groups like Rogi, Non Opus Dei and Behemoth), represents exactly what you’ll face in Hope, an obscure sea of negativity and spirituality embraced by lugubrious and atmospheric passages, caustic guitars and tormented growls, providing you a full-bodied experience in avant-garde extreme music.

The distorted but melodious lines crafted by guitarists Golem XIV and Static kick-off the 12-minute aria of darkness Hope, an ominous fusion of Black and Doom Metal where lead singer and bassist Ion effectively darkens the musicality with his hellish gnarls. Not only that, the band also brings forward hints of Blackened Doom and Dark Metal with their instruments, especially after four minutes when Ion delivers some deep clean vocals, with the music displaying a hypnotic pace until the song’s ardent ending. That obscure aura goes on in the Stygian and intricate composition The Tomb from Fear and Doubt, with drummer DQ and his doomed beats leading the rhythm while Ion grasps the song’s somber lyrics (“Have you ever lost something you ever had? / Have you ever missed someone that never was? / Have you ever stared into the abyss / with the matches stuck between the eyelids?”) and all instruments maintain a sulphuric stench reeking in the air. In addition to that, once again blending the darkest and most visceral elements from Black and Doom Metal, the wicked sounds emanating from the last part of the song will penetrate deep in your blackened soul without a shadow of a doubt.

Rhythmic beats and cursed guitars ignite another fantastic composition by Mord’A’Stigmata, entitled To Keep the Blood, where a melancholic but fierce instrumental builds the desired ambience for Ion to thrive with his devilish growls. This is not only the song with the most electrified vibe, but also a newborn hymn of Black and Doom Metal, with Golem XIV and Static enhancing the song’s impact considerably through their sharp guitar lines. Lastly, in the mournful In Less than No Time, tribal drumming and the band’s trademark damned sounds create a mesmerizing tone, growing in intensity until Ion comes vociferating his hopeless words (“There is a kind of grief / Can’t be expressed by tears / Nor yelled into the night / On an empty field”). Presenting elements from the music by Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Katatonia and other icons of Doom Metal, this beautiful creation by Mord’A’Stigmata is the perfect fourth and final act for Hope, with highlights to the superb work done by DQ on drums.

You can find all details about the chthonic creations of this talented quarter from Poland, as well as their current tour dates and plans for the future, through their Facebook page, with Hope being available for purchase at their official BandCamp page, at the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page or webshop in CD-digipack, in LP format, as a CD + T-shirt combo or as an LP + T-shirt combo, as well as on Amazon and at Discogs. After putting your hands on Hope, simply let the darkness blasted by Mord’A’Stigmata fill your inner void, guiding you on a path of no return to the underworld of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: To Keep the Blood.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. Hope 12:02
2. The Tomb from Fear and Doubt 12:08
3. To Keep the Blood 8:45
4. In Less than No Time 11:30

Band members
Ion – vocals, bass
Golem XIV – guitars
Static – guitars
DQ – drums

Album Review – netra / Ingrats (2017)

The perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres into a coherent stream of melancholy, might be right in front of your eyes thanks to this exquisite Urban Black Metal one-man project.

Conveying images of a grey, boring and anxiogenic city life, Urban Black Metal one-man project netra is back with its third full-length album, titled Ingrats (which is French for “ungrateful”), the perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres such as as Ambient Black Metal, Trip-Hop and moody Jazz into a coherent stream of melancholy. Put differently, the music found in Ingrats is highly recommended if you like bands such as Manes, Katatonia or Burzum, and especially if you are not afraid of trying something truly new that will defy your senses and concepts in music.

Formed in 2003 by French multi-instrumentalist Steven Le Moan in Quimper, a citiy located in Brittany, in northwestern France, netra relased its first album Mélancolie Urbaine in 2010. Two years later, netra presented the highly claustrophobic Sørbyen, recorded after relocating to the city of Gjøcik, Norway over the course of a year. In addition to that, netra also collaborated with Californian rap duo We’rewolves in 2013 to create a true hybrid between Hip-Hop and Black Metal, the EP entitled Dreading Consciousness. Now in 2017, after moving to Auckland, a major urban city in the North Island of New Zealand, Steven and his netra found the right amount of inspiration to mesmerize us once again with the Depressive Black Metal and all other styles featured in Ingrats.

Gimme a Break, a Jazz-like intro with smooth piano and drums, introduces us to the universe of Ingrats before netra’s Black Metal strikes the listener like a lightning bolt in Everything’s Fine, a dark and aggressive composition where netra manically grasps the song’s lyrics, full of anguish and hatred. Furthermore, the song’s hints of Jazz and Experimental Metal, together with some clean vocals by the end of the song, make the whole experience of listening to this multilayered tune even more exciting. In Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours, an atmospheric instrumental composition alternating between electronic music and sheer obscurity, simply close your eyes and savor its musicality, getting ready for the melancholic Live with It, continuing with netra’s wicked fusion of sounds and proving music doesn’t need to be heavy and fast all the time to be good. Its clean vocals are spot-on, not to mention the gentle balance between acoustic guitars and electronic elements, turning it into one of the top moments of the album in my opinion.

Infinite Boredom, an instrumental bridge displaying gentle piano notes under the rain, paves a gray and sorrowful path for Don’t Keep Me Waiting, a movie-inspired creation by netra where all instruments keep growing in intensity, transpiring melancholy and pain. It’s interesting to notice how the saxophone somehow “replaces” the vocal parts, with a dense background voice, as well as the song’s Atmospheric Black Metal beats, enhancing the overall darkness present in the music. And A Genuinely Benevolent Man, the most modern and electronic of all songs, blends Trip-Hop with Atmospheric Black Metal elements, with the music gradually increasing in intensity while netra delivers only a few sick growls throughout the whole song.

The hopelessness depicted by netra continues in the ambient Paris or Me, where subtle hints of Jazz and Black Metal coming from the piano and guitar lines add to this instrumental piece a delicate feeling of solitude; whereas in Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve I highly recommend you keep your eyes closed and follow netra in his walk through the dark and hazy urban streets where he lives. Bringing forward Industrial and Alternative Metal nuances, there’s no sign of happiness in the music, which can be felt through his clean but acid vocals, reminding me of some of the best creations by Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. And how about a sweet Jazz song as the closing act of this unusual album? In Jusqu’au-boutiste you’ll not only get that, but netra also offers trenchant riffs and blast beats in the best Atmospheric Black Metal style imaginable, like a sharp razor cutting our ears while the piano parts give peace to our souls, ending the album in a tempestuous fashion.

Only time will tell what’s next for the urban black metaller netra, but based on the amazing quality of the music found in Ingrats (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), I don’t think he’ll take too long to release more of his eccentric music. While we all wait for another blast of his multilayered creations, let’s keep in touch with him through his Facebook page, and purchase a copy of Ingrats through the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp (where you can find some interesting bundles like the “ultimate netra listener pack”) or official webstore in a 4 panel sleeve with 8 page booklet format or as a fantastic package containing the CD, a 11cm x 7cm all-weather vinyl netra sticker and a beyond awesome “Urban Black Metal” shirt, as well as on Amazon and on CD Baby. Now please excuse, as I’m going for a lonely walk through the dark and cold shadows of Toronto, and I guess you know which album I’ll be listening to.

Best moments of the album: Everything’s Fine, Live with It and Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve.

Worst moments of the album: A Genuinely Benevolent Man.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Gimme a Break 1:19
2. Everything’s Fine 5:24
3. Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours 3:36
4. Live with It 4:30
5. Infinite Boredom 0:44
6. Don’t Keep Me Waiting 4:32
7. A Genuinely Benevolent Man 5:10
8. Paris or Me 3:32
9. Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve 5:00
10. Jusqu’au-boutiste 5:55

Band members
netra – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Aegri Somnia / Ad Augusta per Angusta (2017)

A compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, where Spanish oral traditional music is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Whenever metal gets blended with any other type of music in the world, in special with more traditional styles and genres, the result is always beyond interesting, transpiring creativity, passion, feeling and entertaining us all in a different way than our usual metal bands. That encounter of the fury and darkness of heavy music with distinct non-metal sounds is exactly what you’ll experience in Ad Augusta per Angusta, the debut full-length album by Madrid-based Black/Avantgarde Metal project Aegri Somnia, where Spanish oral traditional music, unknown even for most of Spanish people, is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Aegri Somnia are Cristina R. Galván (also known as Lady Carrot), from the Castilian folk music world, and multi-instrumentalist Nightmarer, from the Avantgarde Metal scene (As Light Dies, Garth Arum), who decided to form the project in 2012 in an old ghostly house located in a northern Spanish valley, surrounded by loneliness, silence and the smell of wet earth. And it didn’t take long for the duo to give life to Ad Augusta per Angusta from the harmonious union of their skills and backgrounds, offering the listener a compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, a travel through the rural and magical Spain with its lights and shadows, and a gaze into the abyss of the black and tenebrous Spain with the inner cruelty and brutality of human beings. Featuring a stylish artwork designed by Cristina and Nightmarer themselves, Ad Augusta per Angusta will certainly redefine the way you see folk and metal music.

Serene acoustic guitars and the delicate voice by Cristina kick off the folk composition Seran, full of traditional Iberian elements and showcasing a steady, melancholic atmosphere. Furthermore, all additional instruments played by both Cristina and Nightmarer are necessary to the music, never sounding out of place. Aegri Somina offer heavier guitars and a rousing vibe in the excellent and classy chant Señor Platero, presenting a great performance once again by Cristina on vocals while Nightmarer brings the word “metal” to the musicality in a perfect balance between extreme music and Iberian folk; followed by La Culebra, a song that’s at the same time tailored for a dancing performance and for a metal concert. Not only Cristina changes her tone a bit in this song, sounding more aggressive than before, but also the song’s symphonic elements enhance its darkness, cohesiveness and taste.

La Deshonra, the longest of all tracks, transpires melancholy through the beautiful acoustic guitars by Nightmarer and the passionate vocals by Cristina, and despite the music not having any breaks or variations, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. In fact, its constant rhythm is what makes it mesmerizing. In Molinero – Vengo De Moler, the fusion of metallic guitars and the classic sound of unique instruments like spoons, clamps and stomps, among others, creates a fantastic ambience for Cristina to declaim the song’s lyrics, filling all spaces in this exotic and fun composition, whereas in La Niña De La Arena, one of the best tracks of the album, the duo speeds up the pace and delivers sharp guitar lines, both electric and acoustic. This is indeed an intricate chant displaying several different instruments and layers, with nuances of modern folk music to spice it up a bit. And exhibiting a softer side, Cristina and Nightmarer focus on the more gentle sounds of their instruments in Romance De Santa Elena, generating a calm atmosphere where Cristina beautifully tells the story through the song’s poetic lyrics.

Ronda De Mayo brings Iberian folk with hints of modern Hard Rock, Folk and Progressive Metal, feeling like part of the soundtrack for a dark movie, with its percussion and synths working really well, keeping the music flowing smoothly. Then we have Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte, another dancing tune full of clapping and acoustic lines keeping up with the Spanish traditions, with Cristina going back to her sharper vocal lines while Nightmarer does an amazing job with his unstoppable guitar, and Charro Del Labrador, where Cristina continues to showcase her tender vocal lines, with the musicality in this case being denser than usual thanks to the heavier beats and louder folk instruments. I personally think this experimental composition should sound very interesting if they record a full metal version of it. And Veneno, the last composition in Ad Augusta per Angusta, offers the listener atmospheric passages and a high dosage of melancholy, and albeit not being a bad composition, it’s in my opinion slightly below the rest of the album in terms of creativity.

It’s extremely easy to know more about Aegri Somnia and their music. For instance, you can listen to the full album on YouTube, where you can also watch an amazing video by Cristina herself speaking about the traditional percussion instruments used in Ad Augusta per Angusta and other details about the Iberian oral tradition (with subtitles in English available). You can also follow the duo on Facebook, and purchase Ad Augusta per Angusta at their BandCamp page, at the Symbol Of Domination’s BandCamp page, at the Satanath Records’ webstore or at Discogs. And if exploring new music is part of your life, then you’re more than welcome to join Cristina and Nightmarer in their voyage through the darkness and light of the rural Spain.

Best moments of the album: Señor Platero, Molinero – Vengo De Moler and La Niña De La Arena.

Worst moments of the album: Veneno.

Released in 2017 Symbol Of Domination/United By Chaos

Track listing
1. Seran 4:08
2. Señor Platero 4:51
3. La Culebra 3:13
4. La Deshonra 6:06
5. Molinero – Vengo De Moler 5:05
6. La Niña De La Arena 2:40
7. Romance De Santa Elena 4:28
8. Ronda De Mayo 4:17
9. Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte 3:40
10. Charro Del Labrador 5:41
11. Veneno 4:51

Band members
Cristina R. Galvan (Lady Carrot) – female vocal, galician and castilian tambourine, pandero cuadrado, palo de agua, spoons, almirez, shells and claps
Nightmarer – male vocal, electric & acoustic guitar, fretless bass, keyboards/synths, programming, violin, accordion, wind chimes, claps and stomps