Album Review – Coiled Around Thy Spine / Shades (2018)

An astonishing combination of brutal violence, shredding guitar solos, blasting drums and soaring vocals inspired by classic and melodic Death Metal.

If you consider yourself a diehard fan of modern-day Melodic Death Metal you have to take a very good and detailed listen at Shades, the debut album by Italian metallers Coiled Around Thy Spine. Formed in 2017 in the city of Turin by Italian guitarist Sergio Costa, when he met American drummer David Archie Weiss online, Coiled Around Thy Spine not only have their core essence deeply rooted in Melodic Death Metal, but it’s the classic Death Metal influences spiced up by symphonic elements that make their music so entertaining, electrifying and vibrant, with all songs in Shades being highly recommended for slamming into the pit, banging your head nonstop or simply enjoy their intricate and flammable waves.

After Sergio and David started working on the music together, they decided to expand beyond the initial instrumental idea, recruiting Italian vocalist Daniele Rosso to complete the band’s lineup.  Unfortunately, David decided to quit the band for personal reasons before the release of Shades, but that doesn’t mean Coiled Around Thy Spine will call it quits and cease their quest for top-tier metal music. Quite the contrary, featuring a simple but very effective artwork by TheSmashedRabbit, Shades is an astonishing combination of brutal violence, shredding guitar solos, blasting drums and soaring vocals, inspired by classic and melodic Death Metal as well as contemporary metal masterpieces alike, proving this up-and-coming metal unity is here to stay, and after listening to the album you’ll certainly be eager for more of their music.

A movie-inspired intro named Candles builds the ambiance for the hard-hitting tune [God Mode: On], blending the most visceral and modern elements from Melodic Death Metal and Blackened Death Metal, sounding absolutely pulverizing form start to finish with Daniele blasting devilish gnarls and growls while Sergio Costa shreds his guitar in a demonic way. Put differently, this can be called an evil and bastard hybrid of Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir. Then we have Dissected, where David sounds beyond brutal on drums, elevating the impact of this hellish tune considerably, also presenting hints of the music by Arch Enemy on vocals and guitars and flowing demonically until the end; followed by How Freedom Dies, another crushing spawn by the power trio where the strident and sharp sound of guitars is simply outstanding, bringing a high dosage of malignancy to the music. Moreover, its background keyboards add a touch of delicacy to the ambience, bringing more balance to this well-crafted, full-bodied chant. And their Arch Enemy-like vein arises once again in the title-track Shades, a darker and more melodic metal extravaganza than its predecessors, with the only issue being that the music never reaches the same speed as the rest of the album (its level of heaviness and aggression is still quite gargantuan, though).

Their intricate and berserk feast of sounds and tones goes on in Subhumanized, led by the lancinating riffs and solos by Sergio while David keeps smashing his drums, sounding modern and vile from start to finish, whereas in The Sick Game, their most demonic song of all, guitars and keys complement each other flawlessly, supported by the pulverizing drumming by David. Furthermore, the song also displays interesting nuances of Progressive Death and Black Metal, resulting in a lesson in extreme music by the Italian trio where Daniele bursts his lungs screaming like a demon. The second to last spawn of dark sounds by Coiled Around Thy Spine, titled In Vain, showcases more of their high-octane, flammable music tailored for banging your head frantically, with all three members sounding demented with their instruments (in special David and his Stygian beats and fills), and  their final avalanche of extreme sounds, named Safe, is perhaps their most obscure one, leaning towards modern Black Metal in a true feast of rhythm, harmony, and darkness led by Daniele and his otherworldly growls, not to mention Sergio and his neck-breaking riffs, ending the album in a menacing and climatic manner.

You can listen to Shades in full on Spotify, and if you have what it takes to face the modern and absolutely threatening music by Coiled Around Thy Spine you should definitely visit their Facebook page for news, tour dates and everything else that’s related to the band, and purchase the album on iTunes or on Amazon. As aforementioned, Shades combines the brutality and heaviness of Death Metal with the finesse of modern-day Melodic Death Metal in a fantastic way, proving this now Italian duo (who will certainly find another sensational drummer to replace David soon) has all that’s needed to thrive in the world of heavy music. And we’ll all be eagerly waiting for more of their incendiary music in the near future, of course.

Best moments of the album: [God Mode: On], How Freedom Dies and The Sick Game.

Worst moments of the album: Shades.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Candles 1:54
2. [God Mode: On] 5:36
3. Dissected 6:17
4. How Freedom Dies 4:48
5. Shades 6:52
6. Subhumanized 5:54
7. The Sick Game 5:16
8. In Vain 5:59
9. Safe 7:50

Band members
Daniele Rosso – vocals
Sergio Costa – guitars, bass, synth
David Archie Weiss – drums, synth

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Album Review – Altars of Grief / Iris (2018)

Highly influenced by the desolate landscapes and the solitude of long, prairie winters, here comes one of the biggest names in Canadian Blackened Doom with a superb new album narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.

Formed in November 2013 in Regina, the capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, Blackened Doom act Altars of Grief has worked over the years to develop a weighty concoction of Death Metal, Sludge Metal, Funeral Doom and Atmospheric Black Metal along with a strong focus on storytelling and the desire to convey authentic emotion, highly influenced by the desolate landscapes and the solitude of long, prairie winters that inspired the moniker of “Prairie Doom Metal”. After the release of their 2014 debut fill-length album This Shameful Burden, the band returns in full force with the bold and multi-layered Iris, narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter, named Iris.

Featuring a stunning artwork by Travis Smith from Seempieces, brilliantly depicting Iris’ final moments as she kneels before the winter beset church and embraces her fate, and the mesmerizing cello by Raphael Weinroth-Browne (who by the way played cello for Canadian Folk/Melodic Black Metal band Thrawsunblat on their amazing 2016 opus Metachthonia), Iris is not just an album of heavy music, but an amalgamation of emotions that will transport your mind and soul to the desolation of the prairies. “The story of Iris is very much rooted in our prairie surroundings and deals with the struggles of addiction, sickness and religion. A father finds himself unable to connect with and care for his young daughter, Iris, who has fallen seriously ill. Spiraling deeper and deeper into his vices, and feeling rejected by Iris’ new found and unwavering faith, he gets into his car and decides to leave her behind. Somewhere along the icy road, he loses control of his vehicle and perishes. His purgatory is to watch helplessly as Iris slowly succumbs to her illness without him”, comments the band’s lead singer Damian Smith.

Melancholy and grief permeate the air in the opening track Isolation, a masterpiece of darkness led by the strident and somber guitars by Erik Labossiere and Evan Paulson, while Damian obscurely declaims the song’s lyrics through his anguished gnarls, proving why he’s a poet of the underworld. Hence, the music flows majestically until its grand finale, setting the tone for Desolation, where a Stygian atmosphere is suddenly joined by heavy-as-hell riffs and the crushing Black Metal beats by Zack Bellina, also presenting introspective and touching words (“I opened my eyes / To the night sky / The unending storm / Revealed itself before me / Weightless in my resolve / But, still a burden remains / With this final breath / Please, forgive me”). Moreover, it’s simply impressive how Altars of Grief can sound so distinct from one song to another, also bringing forth a perfect balance between harsh growls and deep clean vocals.

The title-track Iris brings forward more of the band’s enfolding musicality, blending the aggressiveness of Atmospheric Black Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal, also presenting very subtle nuances of Melodic Black Metal. In addition, Erik and Evan once again fire a mix of rage and harmony through their flammable strings, enhancing the taste of this very complete and bold composition. Then we have Child of Light, where an epic and melancholic intro evolves into a full-bodied sound, and with Zack together with bassist Donny Pinay building a massive, atmospheric wall of sounds with their instruments, generating the perfect ambience for all vocal styles used by the band; followed by Broken Hymns, another captivating, neck-breaking tune where Raphael is truly outstanding with his cello, adding a marvelous touch of delicacy and melancholy to the overall musicality. In other words, this is a song tailored for closing your eyes and letting the band guide your mind and soul to their dark and mournful world.

And Altars of Grief personify the grievous, obscure voices of the bitterly cold winds of winter in the Atmospheric Black Metal extravaganza titled Voices of Winter, with Damian’s growls being delicately complemented by Raphael’s stunning cello sounds and the whimsical guitars by Erik and Evan, whereas in Becoming Intangible the sound of the cello and the acoustic guitars walk hand in hand in the smoothest way possible before morphing into contemporary extreme music, sounding very atmospheric, gripping and bold until its beyond piercing ending. Zack is once again a beast on drums, not to mention the latent poetry found in the song’s lyrics (“I can barely see the sun / I guess this path was truly flawed / Judgement comes with revelation / And, I’ve never felt so close to God”), flowing into one of the most beautiful outros in underground extreme music, titled Epilogue, performed by Raphael and his always astounding cello.

You can listen to Iris in its entirety on YouTube, follow Altars of Grief on Facebook, and purchase your copy of this masterpiece of the underworld from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore in distinct bundles (Iris CD, Iris CD + Nachtterror / Altars of Grief – Of Ash and Dying Light vinyl split, Iris CD + shirt + patch, and Iris CD + Nachtterror / Altars of Grief vinyl split + shirt + patch), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. If you were not familiar with “Prairie Doom Metal” before listening to Iris, now you have a very good reason to get to know more about such distinct sub-genre of extreme music. But if Altars of Grief are already a recurrent part of your playlist, the emotional story told in Iris will simply make you even more addicted to their desolate and imposing sounds.

Best moments of the album: Isolation, Iris and Broken Hymns.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Isolation 9:19
2. Desolation 6:15
3. Iris 6:20
4. Child of Light 7:02
5. Broken Hymns 8:11
6. Voices of Winter 7:26
7. Becoming Intangible 9:17
8. Epilogue 2:05

Band members
Damian Smith – vocals
Erik Labossiere – guitars, vocals
Evan Paulson – guitars, vocals, programming
Donny Pinay – bass, vocals
Zack Bellina – drums, vocals on “Broken Hymns”

Guest musician
Raphael Weinroth-Browne – cello on “Isolation”, “Child of Light”, “Broken Hymns”, “Voices of Winter” and “Becoming Intangible”, all instruments on “Epilogue”

Album Review – Nervosa / Downfall Of Mankind (2018)

Slam into the pit to another killing hardcore thrashing bulldozer by Brazil’s meanest all-female Thrash Metal commando unit.

After two long years, here they finally are the unrelenting Brazilian all-female Thrash Metal commando unit Nervosa with a brand new and devastating album titled Downfall Of Mankind, delivering their usual raw aggression and untamed power throughout the album’s almost 50 minutes split into 14 compositions (including the limited edition bonus track) of killing hardcore thrash. In addition, the follow-up to their sensational 2016 release Agony marks their first with drummer Luana Dametto (who also plays drums for Brazilian Death Metal squad Apophizys), adding an extra touch of pugnacity to the band’s already heavier-than-hell and faster-than-a-bullet musicality and, therefore, providing lead singer and bassist Fernanda Lira and guitarist Prika Amaral all they need to keep haunting the souls of the lighthearted with their Thrash Metal tempest.

Downfall Of Mankind perfectly captures the live energy and the old school character that defines this São Paulo-based band without neglecting the strengths of a modern, compact soundscape, bringing the most pulverizing and sharp elements from all types of extreme music such as Thrash, Death and Black Metal, but of course always being deeply rooted in our beloved Bay Area Thrash sound. Featuring a demonic artwork by Brazilian artist Hugo Silva (Abracombie Ink), and with guest musicians João Gordo (Ratos de Porão), Rodrigo Oliveira (Korzus) and Michael Gilbert (Flotsam & Jetsam) providing their share of insanity and rage to Nervosa’s music, Downfall Of Mankind is definitely one of those albums that will inspire you to slam into the circle pit and bang your head like a maniac, two of the main goals in our good old Thrash Metal,  becoming a permanent part of your most metallic playlist.

An ominous intro takes us to the demonic realm ruled by Nervosa, who don’t waste a single second and start crushing our skulls with their ruthless Thrash Metal in Horrordome, with newcomer Luana simply demolishing her drums while Fernanda delivers her already classic she-demon gnarls. This berserk tune will surely generate some interesting mosh pits during their live concerts, which is also the case in Never Forget, Never Repeat, sounding even more devilish and pulverizing and showcasing the band’s heavy artillery at its finest. Prika seems to be mastering “the art of the riff”, delivering sheer brutality in a well-balanced fusion of Thrash and Death Metal, all complemented by the song’s utterly austere, old school lyrics (“Tyranny, bigotry / Crimes against humanity / Murder, persecution / Inprisonment subordination / Enough of genocides / Enough of bloodshed / Break this perpetration / Of history’s dark past”). Then toning down a bit their rage but still sounding brutal, the power trio blasts more of their thrashing music with their riffs and beats generating a menacing wall of sounds in Enslave, followed by Bleeding, presenting hints of the contemporary music by Cannibal Corpse (which is obviously a good thing) and with Fernanda taking her growls to a deeper, more hellish level, while Luana proves why she was the perfect choice as their new drummer.

After such level of destruction, get ready for an 80’s-inspired (or I should say old school Metallica-inspired) Thrash Metal attack by those three she-devils titled …And Justice For Whom?, where the unstoppable beats by Luana dictate the rhythm while Prika continues with her shredding onrush. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see them playing this one live. And Fernanda’s rumbling bass ignites a dark, mid-tempo tune beautifully titled Vultures, a good song to break your neck headbanging with Prika once again delivering cutting riffs from start to finish (despite the fact the song could have been a little shorter, though), whereas Kill The Silence brings a classic Nervosa sonority in terms of its pace, riffs and lyrics, led by the slashing guitar lines by Prika while Fernanda keeps growling and gnarling like a beast, therefore keeping the album at a truly high level of aggressiveness. Their sonic insanity goes on in No Mercy, a more rhythmic and groovy circle pit-generator with highlights to the solid job done by Luana on drums, and Raise Your Fist!, a rebellious anthem by Nervosa bringing forward an inspirational intro with historic speeches about freedom, gender equality and equal opportunities for all, such as the timeless one by Martin Luther King, Jr., sounding melodic, violent and electrifying, all at the same time. In other words, let’s all raise our fists up in the air to this insurgent hymn by Nervosa.

Downfall Of Mankind/Limited Edition Digipack CD Fan Package

And Nervosa still have energy left for more devastation, starting with the berserk Fear, Violence And Massacre, blending the most pulverizing elements from Thrash, Death and even Black Metal, with Prika firing an awesome, melodic guitar solo halfway through it, not to mention you’ll definitely feel the urge to scream the words “fear, violence and massacre” together with Fernanda; whereas although Conflict is a decent creation by the girls, it’s a bit too generic compared to the rest of the album. There’s a lot of good stuff in the song, though, such as the incendiary riffs by Prika and its frenzied pace. The last track from the regular version of Downfall Of Mankind is the superb Cultura do Estupro, with the iconic vocalist João Gordo (Ratos de Porão) sharing the vocal duties with Fernanda in the only song of the album entirely sung in Brazilian Portuguese. I really hope João joins Nervosa during some of their live concerts to sing this cataclysmic, acid tune, with Luana sounding simply demented behind her drums. Lastly, as a bonus track to the limited edition version of the album we have Selfish Battle, featuring Rodrigo Oliveira (Korzus) on drums and Michael Gilbert (Flotsam & Jetsam) providing a nice guitar solo in a slightly different version of Nervosa, feeling more like a heavier version of 80’s Hard Rock the likes of Warlock thanks mainly to the high-pitched vocals by Fernanda.

One can never get enough of Nervosa, and if you’re already addicted to their incendiary music go check what they’re up to on Facebook and purchase your copy of Downfall Of Mankind from their own BandCamp page or from several other locations such as the Napalm Records webstore, where you can get the deluxe fan package featuring the limited edition digipack, a cover flag, a patch, leather wriststraps and a tote bag. Also, don’t forget to watch the track by track breakdown of the album by the girls on YouTube (part 1 and part 2), and obviously to keep an eye on their official website and Facebook page for whenever they take your hometown by storm. Downfall Of Mankind once again proves that thrashing like there’s no tomorrow is Nervosa’s business, and they don’t need any guy to make sure that their business continues to be more than good.

Best moments of the album: Horrordome, Never Forget, Never Repeat, …And Justice For Whom? and Cultura do Estupro.

Worst moments of the album: Vultures and Conflict.

Released in 2018 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:12
2. Horrordome 3:17
3. Never Forget, Never Repeat 4:40
4. Enslave 3:15
5. Bleeding 3:47
6. …And Justice For Whom? 3:34
7. Vultures 4:09
8. Kill The Silence 3:29
9. No Mercy 3:40
10. Raise Your Fist! 4:04
11. Fear, Violence And Massacre 3:35
12. Conflict 2:59
13. Cultura do Estupro (feat. João Gordo) 3:10

Limited Edition/Digipak bonus track
14. Selfish Battle (feat. Michael Gilbert & Rodrigo Oliveira) 3:26

Band members
Fernanda Lira – lead vocals, bass
Prika Amaral – guitar, backing vocals
Luana Dametto – drums

Guest musicians
João Gordo – additional vocals on “Cultura do Estupro”
Michael Gilbert – guitar solo on “Selfish Battle”
Rodrigo Oliveira – drums on “Selfish Battle”

Album Review – Malefic By Design / Definitive Indication of Supremacy (2018)

Behold a band of underground veterans from Finland and their deadly debut full-length strike, a pulverizing opus that will summon you to a claustrophobic journey through blazing Armageddon.

Founded in 2015 in the city of Turku, Finland by underground metal veterans Mika Ikonen on vocals, Ville Pekkala, Sasu Haapanen and Miska Lehtivuori on the guitars and Antti Hakkala on drums (and if you haven’t noticed yet, there’s no bass player in their current lineup), who by the way have already released several previous efforts through multiple bands such as Searing Meadow, Ablaze In Hatred, Fall of the Leafe, Mormânt De Snagov and Devastracktor, Blackened Death Metal beast Malefic By Design has just released their deadly debut full-length strike, titled Definitive Indication of Supremacy, a pulverizing collection of catchy choruses and incendiary melodies that will certainly please all fans of modern extreme music.

Recorded in quiet solitude and far away from the public eye, Definitive Indication of Supremacy thoroughly blends the band’s Death Metal core essence with nuances from other styles such as Black and Doom Metal, summoning you to a sinister and claustrophobic journey through blazing Armageddon surrounded by a somber and devilish atmosphere.  The dark and primeval cover art is a good indication of what you’re going to face as soon as you hit play and start listening to the 12 Stygian tracks from Definitive Indication of Supremacy, showing Malefic By Design are among us to spread evil, hate and blasphemy. What else can you ask for in first-class Blackened Death Metal, right?

 The atmospheric and eerie intro Descending Sirens Of Evil opens the gates of the underworld to the demolishing Sickness Of Christ, a heavy and obscure Blackened Death Metal hymn with Mika delivering disturbing, deep growls while Antti dictates the rhythm with his precise beats. Then it’s time for almost seven minutes of pulverizing sounds and tones in Impending Doom, bringing together the most demonic elements of Black and Death Metal, with the band’s guitarists blasting a “melodic hell” with their strings; and the band goes full Black Metal in the visceral and brutal Enslaved By Birth, where Mika sounds more demented than before while Ville, Sasu and Miska bring forth another feast of satanic riffs and solos, resulting in one of the most complete (and therefore best) moments of the album.

Leaning towards traditional Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal, the band fires harmonious and visceral lines in the mid-tempo composition titled Repress The Oblivious, being beyond perfect for headbanging like a true disciple of darkness, whereas in Frozen Phantoms an ominous acoustic intro morphs into another explosion of blackened music by Malefic By Design, with the whole band being in some sort of demonic sync led by the boisterous drums by Antti, with Mika’s growls getting deeper and deeper as the music progresses. And Salvation For Everyone showcases hints of Symphonic Black Metal before reaching a frantic and heavy pace spearheaded by the once again furious drums by Antti, all embraced by a sinister background full of uncanny keyboard notes and sheer heaviness.

Medieval Beliefs is an old school Black and Death Metal creation tailored for succumbing to the dark side and snapping your neck headbanging, with the band’s stringed trio firing more of their diabolical riffs, creating an instant connection with the also very melodic Counterstrike Despise, also closer to more modern Melodic Death Metal while maintaining a vile aura in the background. Furthermore, Mika and his sick gnarls make a good balance with the delicate but fierce riffs by Ville, Sasu and Miska, which is also the case in Regenerated Reflections, an eerie fusion of contemporary Death Metal with traditional waltz (if that makes sense to you), also presenting elements from Doom and Dark Metal, and that amalgamation of styles results in a bold and thrilling chant with highlights to its beyond eccentric and obscure vocal lines. Then an enfolding atmosphere builds the stage for the heavy, mid-tempo Black Metal tune At The Gates, which despite being a good song it’s below the rest of the album in terms of electricity, falling flat after a while, fading into the acoustic outro Satanic Harmony, an interesting way to “depressurize” from all the madness blasted during the entire album.

In summary, Definitive Indication of Supremacy, which is available for a full listen on Spotify and for purchase through several channels such as the More Hate Productions’ BandCamp, Keltainen Jäänsärkijä, Record Shop X, iTunes, Amazon and Discogs, not only brings top-tier Blackened Death Metal to your avid ears from start to finish, but it also positions Malefic By Design as one of the strongest new names in contemporary Scandinavian extreme music. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how impactful their debut album will be on Finnish territory as well as worldwide, and when we’ll be able to savor more of the band’s pugnacious malignancy in the form of a new album.

Best moments of the album: Enslaved By Birth, Salvation For Everyone and Regenerated Reflections.

Worst moments of the album: At The Gates.

Released in 2018 More Hate Productions

Track listing
1. Descending Sirens Of Evil (Instrumental) 1:58
2. Sickness Of Christ 3:46
3. Impending Doom 6:39
4. Enslaved By Birth 3:11
5. Repress The Oblivious 4:17
6. Frozen Phantoms 3:58
7. Salvation For Everyone 4:23
8. Medieval Beliefs 4:00
9. Counterstrike Despise 4:23
10. Regenerated Reflections 6:11
11. At The Gates 6:41
12. Satanic Harmony (Instrumental) 1:44

Band members
Mika Ikonen – vocals
Ville Pekkala – guitars
Sasu Haapanen – guitars, vocals
Miska Lehtivuori – guitars, vocals
Antti Hakkala – drums

Album Review – Sahon / Chanting For The Fallen (2018)

Waging a war against stereotypes since the late 90’s, here comes a fast and furious power trio with their band new and electrifying opus, showcasing all their pride for their Korean heritage.

Although you might have never heard of South Korean Thrash Metal squad Sahon, those Asian metallers have been waging a war against stereotypes since the late 90’s, forging a sound that distills the best elements of Extreme Metal into a form of Thrash Metal that holds its own when pitted against the rest. Now in 2018 it’s time for vocalist and bassist Yong Ho Lee, guitarist Chang Myeong Lee and drummer Kyoung Hong Kim to unleash their latest opus, entitled Chanting For The Fallen, a lesson in Thrash Metal that showcases all the band’s pride for their Korean heritage and, as a consequence, makes them stand out in an overcrowded genre.

Formed in 1999 in the Korean capital Seoul, Sahon have always played austere and frantic Thrash Metal heavily influenced by both Death and Black Metal, singing about everyday topics such as politics, death, hate, Satanism and sex, being highly recommended for fans of renowned acts like Exodus, Destruction and Kreator. After the releases of a few full-length albums and one EP, Sahon are sharper than ever with their new installment Chanting For The Fallen, with the album’s stunning and peculiar artwork depicting their strong connection with their culture and country’s heritage, adding an extra touch of awesomeness to an album that has no weaknesses and shows no mercy for our spinal cords.

The pounding drums by Kyoung Hong Kim and the rumbling bass by Yong Ho Lee ignite the Slayer-inspired thrashing feast Faith of Savagery, bringing forward a demolishing sonority led by the demented vocals by Yong Ho Lee during the song’s four minutes of brutality highly recommended for simply getting smashed into the circle pit. And Chang Myeong Lee keeps firing old school Thrash Metal riffs through his flammable guitar in the insanely awesome At The Edge Of Cliff, while Yong Ho Lee vociferates like a maniac nonstop, living up to the legacy of Bay Area Thrash; followed by Survive, presenting a band that doesn’t know how to slow down or sound less violent than their music idols. Furthermore, not only this fun composition carries a name that’s beyond perfect to be the soundtrack to a brutal mosh pit, but Kyoung Hong Kim sounds truly infernal on drums from start to finish, keeping the song’s pace at a demented level. Less intense in terms of speed but extremely heavy and aggressive, Condemnation presents Yong Ho Lee not only barking like a beast, but his bass lines are also as thunderous as hell, with the music exploding into classic Thrash Metal in its final (and pulverizing) segment.

And there’s no time to breathe with another sonic havoc crafted by the Korean power trio of Thrash Metal, titled Charge Till The End, a song that shows all their passion for the boisterous music by iconic bands like Slayer and Exodus, spiced up by some classic guitar solos by Chang Myeong Lee. Then with its intro and initial riff inspired by Motörhead’s all-time classic “Overkill”, which ends up giving the song a more visceral and electrifying vibe, Born To Lose Live To Win brings forward amazing performances by all three band members, in special Kyoung Hong Kim with his ass-kicking beats, in what can be considered the ultimate fusion of old school Thrash Metal and badass Rock N’ Roll. In Joy Of Hatred the band delivers more Thrash Metal from the 80’s to your metallic years with a modern twist, with Chang Myeong Lee once again cutting our skin like a butcher with his razor-edged strings. In other words, it can’t get any thrashier than this. And lastly, their coup de grâce comes in the form of a one-and-a-half minute infernal hurricane of Thrash Metal with strong Black Metal influences and nuances titled You Shall Pay, where Yong Ho Lee has his most disturbing and demonic vocal performance of the whole album.

All the madness and devastation in the form of Thrash Metal blasted by Sahon can be better appreciated by following them on Facebook, and of course by purchasing Chanting For The Fallen from their own BandCamp page or from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore. After listening to this sensational album of old school, unrelenting Thrash Metal, not only you’ll get addicted to the music by Sahon, but I bet you’ll start saving some money to travel to South Korea just to have the pleasure of witnessing at least one live performance of the trio, smashing everything and everyone that crosses their path with absolutely no mercy.

Best moments of the album: At The Edge Of Cliff, Survive and Born To Lose Live To Win.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Transcending Obscurity Asia

Track listing
1. Faith of Savagery 4:27
2. At The Edge Of Cliff 3:15
3. Survive 3:52
4. Condemnation 3:56
5. Charge Till The End 3:44
6. Born To Lose Live To Win 4:16
7. Joy Of Hatred 4:57
8. You Shall Pay 1:38

Band members
Yong Ho Lee – vocals, bass
Chang Myeong Lee – guitar
Kyoung Hong Kim – drums

Album Review – Dark Archive / Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon EP (2018)

Sharing the same admiration and respect for the beauty of darkness and Satan, this infernal Finnish duo will pulverize your senses with 17 minutes of ruthless and vibrant Black Metal.

Formed in the summer of 2016 in Finland by vocalist and lyricist Niko “Perdition” Aromaa and composer and multi-instrumentalist Joakim “Lord Mordor” Lindholm, with a vision to form a Black Metal band that would create something fresh and something which would stand out from the scene, the demonic entity known as Dark Archive is ready to spread darkness upon the earth with their brand new EP titled Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon. Considering themselves as a satanic band, with both Niko and Joakim sharing the same admiration and respect for the beauty of darkness and Satan, Dark Archive will pulverize your senses with each of the five tracks in Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon, making you feel all that darkness growing inside you during the album’s 17 minutes of ruthless extreme music.

Sinister sounds are suddenly joined by a sulphurous onrush of Black Metal in the opening track, Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon, with Joakim blasting demonic beats and riffs nonstop while Niko growls the song’s blasphemous and poetic lyrics in a rabid way (“Hunger holds their brethren, as they hold this world dominion, even voices of our fathers can’t describe this burden / Beneath their holy sculptures, they see us as aberrations to their perfect heaven frame, we are the caricature”). Put differently, if you want violence, Dark Archive will give you violence, which can also be said about Closure Of Empyrean Delirium, where the duo brings modern and deranged Black Metal for your avid ears. In this flammable tune, Niko keeps screaming like a savage beast while Joakim continues to pave his path of devastation, with the overall result sounding like a less symphonic version of the early days of Dimmu Borgir.

Their fusion of contemporary Blackened Death Metal and old school Black Metal gives form to another hellish composition titled Godfear Eradication, where Joakim kicks some serious ass with his scorching riffs while austere words are aggressively vociferated by Niko (“While they burden their grief / While puppets dance behind the curtains / Waiting to unleash / Still they flood air with words from bible / Toxic as gas”); followed by the pulverizing Unohda Ei Ikinä, or “never forget” from Finnish, with its demonic guitar riffs crawling deep inside your skin, sounding as belligerent, demented and enraged as it can be, but still bringing tons of harmony and feeling in an amazing exhibit of modern-day Extreme Metal. And the duo has time for one final blast of absolute darkness and hatred entitled Essence Of Death, with both Niko and Joakim sounding extremely vile and sharp with their harsh growls, fierce riffs and thunderous drums.

Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon, which by the way is available for a full listen on Spotify, certainly points to a dark future (in a good way, of course) for Dark Archive, and if you want to show your support for such up-and-coming name of the underground extreme music scene go check their Facebook page for news and tour dates, their YouTube channel and SoundCloud page for more of their disturbing music, and obviously grab your copy of the EP from their own BandCamp page or from iTunes. If this demonic Finnish duo was capable of creating such high level of devastation and obscurity in just a little over 17 minutes, can you imagine what they’ll be able to accomplish when they release their first full-length opus?

Best moments of the album: Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon and Unohda Ei Ikinä.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Cultivate Our Blood In Aeon 4:03
2. Closure Of Empyrean Delirium 2:22
3. Godfear Eradication 4:31
4. Unohda Ei Ikinä 3:36
5. Essence Of Death 2:40

Band members
Niko “Perdition” Aromaa – vocals
Joakim “Lord Mordor” Lindholm – all instruments

Album Review – Mad Agony / Mad Patrol (2018)

Join this mad patrol of Italian metallers where drinking beer, slamming into the pit and showing your passion for heavy music are the only rules you need to follow.

Forged in the distant year of 1991 in the metallic pits of Padua, a city in Northern Italy’s Veneto region, Italian Heavy/Thrash Metal squad Mad Agony went on a huge hiatus starting in 1993 due to the departure of one of its founding members, but their inner passion for true heavy music didn’t die at all, leading the band to rise from the ashes in 2011. After their rebirth to the world of heavy music, the band released in 2013 the full-length album Chernobitch, gaining positive feedback from fans and critics worldwide and, consequently, inspiring them to keep recording heavy music in the following years, culminating now in 2018 with the release of their second full-length installment, titled Mad Patrol.

Comprised of “Mad” Max Zane on vocals, Samael Von Martin on lead guitar, Andrea “Babetz” Babetto on rhythm guitar, Dani D3vine on bass, and Demian De Saba on drums, Mad Agony play a wild and straight-to-the-face fusion of several styles such as Heavy Metal, Trash Metal, Hard N’ Heavy, Hard Rock and even Black Metal, with their songs being characterized by endless amounts of electricity and being highly recommended as the playlist for any fun rock n’ roll party where drinking all the beer you can until you drop is mandatory. Put differently, Mad Agony don’t aim at reinventing the wheel with Mad Patrol, but just to keep partying and carrying the flag of Heavy Metal proudly in honor of the golden years of the music we all love so much.

The headbanging riffs by Samael and Andrea rev up the engines in the opening track Cold Stars, an old school fusion of the classic Thrash Metal played by Anthrax with the more visceral music blasted by Forbidden where Mad Max lives up to his own nickname with his rabid screams, and with the music ending powerfully with a flammable solo by Samael. Then crushing guitar lines kick off an epic and impactful ode to Thrash Metal by Mad Agony, titled Circle Of Fire, also bringing hints of the Power Metal played by bands like Grave Digger and Running Wild and, consequently, being highly recommended for admirers of 80’s traditional metal music; whereas in Let Me Die we’re treated to a mid-tempo sonority showcasing rumbling bass punches by Dani and steady, fierce beast by Demian, with its rhythm reminding me of the classic “Bang Your Head” by Quiet Riot. It gets a bit tiring after a while, though, but nothing to worry about.

More Beer is one of those old school thrashing hymns with a beyond fun theme, with the whole band destroying their instruments during the faster pieces, while the slower parts are spearheaded by the slashing riffs by Samael and Andrea; followed by Party Time (Zombie Version), a Rock N’ Roll party by Mad Agony where Mad Max couldn’t sound more inspired on vocals while Samael fires pure awesomeness through his riffs and solos. And in Warriors Of The Whales, which by the way has an amazing name, the vocals by Mad Max sound somehow inspired by the great Udo Dirkschneider, becoming an awesome option for slamming into the pit during their live performances, with Demian being utterly brutal on drums.

Antiochia – Back To Bare Metal is a classic instrumental Heavy Metal extravaganza showcasing potent drums and electrified guitar riffs and solos, before Mad Agony get back to a more Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock vibe in the flammable You Bring Me To The Ground. Simply grab your beer, slam into the pit and have fun with this exciting tune, with highlights to its catchy chorus and the exciting pace led by Damien and his solid beats. And lastly, we have Metal Thrashin’ Mad, their cover version for the classic by Anthrax from their 1984 album Fistful Of Metal (check out the original version HERE). Needless to say, Mad Agony’s version is just as incendiary, entertaining and old school, with the demented vocal performance by Mad Max being the icing on the cake.

You can get more details about Mad Agony and their unrelenting metal music through their official Facebook page, and purchase your copy of the well-crafted and upbeat Mad Patrol from the band’s own webstore (where you can buy the way buy the special edition with a bonus live CD) showing your support to such obstinate band and, as a consequence, keeping the flame of underground metal burning brighter than ever. And besides, how not to be tempted to join a “mad patrol” of Heavy Metal? You have to be really mad not to take part in such distinct squad.

Best moments of the album: Circle Of Fire, More Beer and Metal Thrashin’ Mad.

Worst moments of the album: Let Me Die.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing      
1. Cold Stars 5:11
2. Circle Of Fire 4:33
3. Let Me Die 5:07
4. More Beer 2:24
5. Party Time (Zombie Version) 2:55
6. Warriors Of The Whales 3:48
7. Antiochia – Back To Bare Metal (instrumental) 6:13
8. You Bring Me To The Ground 3:24
9. Metal Thrashin’ Mad (Anthrax cover) 2:51

Disc 2 – Live Somewhere And Nowhere
10. Chernobitch 4:26
11. Back In Town! 3:04
12. Subconscious Fear 5:41
13. Presence 4:24
14. Boundaries Of Death 6:58
15. Iron Fist (Motörhead Cover) 2:56
16. Mad Agony 3:56
17. Mad Agony (feat. Pietro M Rock) (Video version) 4:20
18. Trick Or Treat (Fastway cover) 4:50

Band members
“Mad” Max Zane – vocals
Samael Von Martin – lead guitar & backing vocals
Andrea “Babetz” Babetto – rhythm guitar & backing vocals
Dani D3vine – bass & backing vocals
Demian De Saba – drums & backing vocals

Album Review – Dormanth / IX Sins (2018)

Succumb to the dark side with the well-crafted and entertaining collection of crushing, riff-oriented Doom and Death Metal tunes by an old school act hailing from Spain.

Born in Bilbao, Spain in January 1993 after various experiences of its components in different bands, such as Nopresion, Beer Mosh and Elbereth, Melodic Doom/Death Metal act Dormanth went on an almost 20-year hibernation period in 1996 after releasing their debut album Valley of Dreams, in 1995, breaking the silence in 2015 with the release of the EP Voice of the Soul… Under the Tears of Sun, followed by the full-length album Winter Comes, in 2016. And it looks like Dormanth are on a roll on this second phase of the band, as their brand new album, titled IX Sins, is an extremely well-crafted and entertaining collection of crushing, riff-oriented metal tunes that will certainly drag your soul into pitch black darkness.

Comprised of founding member Oscar del Val on vocals and guitar, Javi Prieto on lead guitar, newcomer Miguel A. Richart on bass and Victor Franquelo on drums, Dormanth are an unstoppable Extreme Metal machine in IX Sins, delivering nine pestilent, heavier-than-hell compositions (or maybe we should call them “sins”) that will please most fans of the darker and more lugubrious vibe of the fusion between Doom and Death Metal. Furthermore, Spanish artist Igor “Mugi” Mugerza (Abigor Artwork) is again the artist chosen for the cover art concept, with the nine knights (clearly inspired by the Nazgûl, from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) representing all the heaviness and obscurity present in the music by Dormanth.

Oscar and Javi begin their Black Metal-riffage onrush in the opening track Human Claim, a pounding funeral march that tells us all darkness is about to take over our minds in a dense and potent hybrid of Doom and Death Metal with melodic influences. After such strong start, the strident sound of guitars keeps permeating the air in another atmospheric and melodic composition titled Lamb Or Wolf, with the band’s guitar duo accelerating their riffs until all hell breaks loose. Moreover, the vocals by Oscar get more putrid and devilish as the music progresses, while Victor becomes the band’s driving force with his potent beats. And in Let See The Wood, we’re treated to a frantic and furious Death Metal extravaganza with Thrash Metal and Hardcore influences where Victor and Miguel simply demolish their instruments. Hence, the nonstop violence contained in this gripping tune will certainly set the crowd on fire during their live performances.

Slowing things down considerably and venturing through the realms of modern Doom Metal, the band offers the listener Like Ice, keeping a solid pace and providing Oscar exactly what he needs to fire his deep, enraged growls; followed by Promised Land, where Dormanth get back to a more piercing mix of Death and Black Metal. During its almost five minutes, Victor delivers from blast beats to rhythmic, galloping moments, while the band’s guitarists keep the sound cohesive and gripping with their riffs and solos. And the sixth “sin” of the album, entitled Soul Shall Die, once again leans towards more old school, sluggish Doom Metal, with Oscar growls being in perfect sync with Victor’s steady beats.

Misery is a potent, galloping tune with tons of shredding and demented beats and fills, showcasing an almost-Black Metal sound mixed with old school Death Metal and, as a consequence, reminding me of some of the creations by Swedish masters Unleashed; whereas The Skin, the second to last display of blackened sounds by Dormanth, begins with an old school guitar solo before all instruments explode, generating a menacing atmosphere, while its second half is a feast of shredding and blast beats intertwined with an eerie female voice. And closing this obscure album we have another threatening tune named Sands Of Frozen Tears, yet again displaying the band’s solid instrumental and Oscar’s deep growls, albeit not as vibrant as the rest of the album.

The dark and sinister realm of Dormanth can be better explored by visiting their Facebook page, and if you want to put your hands on IX Sins simply go to the band’s BandCamp page, to the Necromance Records’ Big Cartel or webshop, to the Dead Sheep Productions’ webshop, or to Discogs. Dormanth are also beyond ready to hit the road and bring to the stage the same energy and darkness flowing from their music, with the only difference being that their live lineup has studio bassist Miguel on the lead guitar (instead of bass), Isma Fernandez on bass, and original member Javi Martinez on drums, but of course still spearheaded by Oscar on vocals and guitar. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t really matter if you prefer staying home to listen to their studio version of the songs or if seeing them live is what really excites you, as long as you succumb to their captivating fusion of Death and Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: Lamb Or Wolf, Let See The Wood and Misery.

Worst moments of the album: Sands Of Frozen Tears.

Released in 2018 Necromance Records/Base Record Production/Dead Sheep Productions

Track listing  
1. Human Claim 4:02
2. Lamb Or Wolf 4:29
3. Let See The Wood 4:46
4. Like Ice 4:38
5. Promised Land 4:55
6. Soul Shall Die 4:08
7. Misery 4:26
8. The Skin 4:32
9. Sands Of Frozen Tears 5:02

Band members
Oscar del Val – vocals, guitar
Javi Prieto – lead guitar
Miguel A. Richart – bass
Victor Franquelo – drums

Live members
Oscar del Val – vocals, guitar
Miguel A. Richart – lead guitar
Isma Fernandez – bass
Javi Martinez – drums

Album Review –Tamerlan Empire / Age of Ascendancy (2018)

Behold the rise of a metal empire and their marvelous fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Central-Asian and Middle-Eastern melodies and rhythms.

It’s time to travel once again to Sydney, Australia to behold the rise of a metal empire that will leave you speechless after listening to its marvelous fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Central-Asian and Middle-Eastern melodies and rhythms. I’m talking about Tamerlan Empire, a savage horde formed in 2011 by drummer Khan, with the band’s name and lyrical content being inspired by Tamerlan (also known as Timurlan, Amir Temur, Timurleng or Timur Khan), a powerful Mongol/Turkish emperor from the 14th century. Not only their songs are about the emperor’s battles and conquests, but they have also drawn a much deeper influence from his dark brutal side and strategic mind, with his detailed forward-thinking always being many steps ahead of the enemies and allies.

Playing what can be called “Turkic/Uzbek Middle-Eastern Symphonic Black Metal”, an aggressive and very unique atmospheric style of Black Metal, Tamerlan Empire are releasing their highly anticipated debut album entitled Age of Ascendancy, perfectly describing the overlord’s meteoric rise and his great interest and contribution to science, politics, architecture, astronomy and literature during his reign, as well as the era in general where empires strove for dominance through war, bloodshed and destruction. And this distinct band, comprised of Ghorr on vocals and guitar, Ferus on the guitar, Vezir on keyboards and orchestrations, and Khan on drums and percussion, more than succeeded in translating the grandiosity of the empire ruled by the aforementioned warlord, creating an unparalleled, multi-layered sound that will certainly please all fans of the orchestral vein of extreme music.

The title-track Age Of Ascendancy is an epic, cinematic intro that effectively sets the stage for the symphonic onslaught titled Battle Of Tyrants, a song that begins in full force with the orchestrations by Vezir enhancing the overall impact on your ears and mind. Put differently, this grandiose, intricate hymn will make you feel you’re in the middle of the battlefield, with Khan sounding impressive behind his drums. Even more atmospheric and imposing, Vengeance In Blood presents Ghorr and Ferus delivering melodious and aggressive riffs nonstop, while Khan keeps smashing his drums mercilessly. Furthermore, Ghorr’s enraged growls live up to the legacy of Symphonic Black Metal, sounding vile and piercing, and therefore making me think if we can call Tamerlan Empire the “Dimmu Borgir from the East”. And be prepared for another feast of blackened sounds entitled Ottoman’s Demise, a headbanging tune led by the blazing guitars by Ghorr and Ferus, spiced up by the uniqueness of Middle-Eastern music and sounding utterly dense and bold from start to finish.

Slightly less epic and a lot more devastating, Ascension of Iron showcases all band members in their fastest and most furious mode, with the musicality being led by the classic blast beats by Khan while Ghorr keeps barking like a demon; whereas in Behest Of The Chosen we’re treated to a whimsical intro where classic Middle-Eastern elements and percussion are suddenly joined by a gripping and dark sonority, feeling very rhythmic, mesmerizing and detailed until its atmospheric grand finale. Tribal beats ignite another superb metal extravaganza by Tamerlan Empire named Winter March, the perfect soundtrack to an epic adventure presenting what’s perhaps the strongest balance between Black Metal and Middle-Eastern music, with Vezir sounding absolutely fantastic with his keys and orchestrations, followed by Dominion Of Ashes, leaning towards modern Symphonic Black Metal and also presenting elements from traditional Norwegian Black Metal, but with its core essence still bringing the band’s unique Middle-Eastern Black Metal. In addition, the deranged vocals by Ghorr remind me of Marduk’s Mortuus, which of course translates into sheer violence and awesomeness.

Then phantasmagoric keys kick off the demolishing Marauder’s Mark, taking the band’s onrush of blackened sounds to a whole new level and also presenting some interesting breaks and variations to add a few extra layers to the overall result; and Of Dust Returned, which sounds similar to its predecessor but bringing even heavier and darker nuances. In other words, this is contemporary Black Metal blended with Symphonic and Atmospheric Black Metal, with its in-sync keys and guitars generating a truly Stygian ambience. And there’s time for one last blast of their unparalleled Black Metal with the magnificent Scattered Sands, a climatic conclusion to such incredible album of extreme music showcasing an interesting paradox between Ghorr’s devilish gnarls and the ethereal sounds emanating from Vezir’s keys. Furthermore, what I’m about to say might sound weird for some of you, but I can easily visualize a lustful woman doing a heavier-than-usual belly dance to this amazing metal tune.

If you have what it takes to join the empire of flammable and epic Black Metal ruled by this up-and-coming Australian horde, simply go check what they’re up to on Facebook, listen to their music on Spotify and on ReverbNation, and grab your copy of Age of Ascendancy (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) from the Metal Hell Records’ BandCamp or webstore (as a regular CD version or as a special bundle that includes the CD plus a metallic gold embroidered logo patch, a 1.25″ pin back button, a vinyl logo sticker, and a download code for the digital version of the album), as well as from CD Baby, iTunes or Amazon. And after putting your hands on such distinct album, I dare you to not get completely addicted to the band’s vibrant and bold Middle-Eastern Symphonic Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Vengeance In Blood, Ascension of Iron, Winter March and Scattered Sands.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Metal Hell Records

Track listing
1. Age Of Ascendancy 1:57
2. Battle Of Tyrants 4:49
3. Vengeance In Blood 5:02
4. Ottoman’s Demise 5:44
5. Ascension of Iron 4:54
6. Behest Of The Chosen 7:39
7. Winter March 7:00
8. Dominion Of Ashes 4:54
9. Marauder’s Mark 5:32
10. Of Dust Returned 5:13
11. Scattered Sands 7:10

Band members
Ghorr – vocals, guitars
Ferus – guitars
Vezir – keyboards, orchestration
Khan – drums, percussion

Live musicians
Yassa – vocals
Ramz – bass