Album Review – Kaamos Warriors / Shadows Of Northern Chaos (2019)

All hail the Finnish warriors of the eternal night and their brand new album of Dark Metal, beautifully reflecting the coldness and melancholy of the North.

Formed as a duo by vocalist and guitarist Mikko Ojala (Crowned with Black, Dark the Suns, The Beauty of Darkened Hearts) and guitarist Jani Moilanen (R2JBros) in the beginning of 2018 in Kempele, a municipality just south of the city of Oulu in Northern Finland, the sinister Dark Metal unity known as Kaamos Warriors is unleashing upon humanity their second full-length opus entitled Shadows Of Northern Chaos, a follow-up to their debut album Ikuisen Talven Sarastus (or “the dawn of eternal winter” in English), released earlier this year. Now a three-piece band with the addition of bassist Jyri Moilanen to their lineup, Kaamos Warriors once again reflect the coldness and melancholy of the North in the eight dark and somber compositions found in  Shadows Of Northern Chaos, combining the bitterly cold elements from Atmospheric and Doom Metal to their core Black Metal essence. As a matter of fact, the word “kaamos” means “the polar night”, or the period of darkness north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle when the sun does not rise over the horizon, perfectly summarizing what the music by those Finnish metallers is all about.

Mikko and Jani generate a frosty and raw ambience with their riffs in the opening track Wolves in Storm, an ode to the North blending classic Black Metal with contemporary Blackened Death Metal and with Mikko’s vocals sounding deep and obscure just like the music demands. Then we have Chaos Walks the Earth, even darker and more demonic than its predecessor, with its guitars bringing the most visceral tones from classic Death Metal while Jyri’s bass lines sound absolutely ominous, therefore adding an extra dosage of malignancy to the music, all spiced up by spot-on blast beats and strident guitar solos. And get ready to crack your neck headbanging to the boisterous Chaos & Mayhem, where the brutal sounds of guitars and bass fill every single space in the air, resulting in a dense and violent atmosphere that leans towards Melodic Black Metal; whereas Ruined by Plague is a mid-tempo hellish hymn blasted by the trio with a huge focus on the very detailed work done on the guitars, which complemented by Jyri’s thunderous bass turns it into a storm of heavy music.

In the title-track Shadows of Northern Chaos this talented Finnish triumvirate goes full Black Metal, blasting our ears with an infernal sonority led by Mikko’s Stygian, guttural roars while its riffs add hints of melancholy and hopelessness to the overall result, and they keep slashing their strings in Where Shadows Grow, another classic Black and Death Metal composition showcasing spot-on beats, harsh gnarls and a perturbing, winter-like vibe, offering the listener a fusion of sheer aggressiveness and obscurity with a very pleasant melody. Ruins of Hope sounds as if Unleashed met Marduk and Behemoth for a jam session, with Mikko and Jani firing incendiary riffs from their axes while Jyri keeps delivering rumbling bass punches nonstop, and lastly the band fires Moon and Stars, one of the most melancholic and darkest of all tracks where you can feel the bitterly cold epicness of the North flowing from its riffs and beats, flirting with Doom Metal and remaining truly grim and dark until the very end.

If you enjoy this fusion of extreme music with the chilling, melancholic landscapes from the North crafted by Kaamos Warriors, you should definitely follow the band on Facebook, listen to more of their music on Spotify, and purchase their music from different locations such as Apple Music and Amazon. Shadows Of Northern Chaos might not be a masterpiece nor a revolution in Black and Death Metal, but it’s definitely a very good, cohesive and well-balanced album by those warriors of the never-ending northern night highly recommended for fans of the genre, and if in their first year of existence they were already capable of delivering two really entertaining full-length albums, I can’t wait to see what’s next in their promising (and wintry) career.

Best moments of the album: Chaos Walks the Earth, Chaos & Mayhem and Shadows of Northern Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Wolves in Storm 2:28
2. Chaos Walks the Earth 2:28
3. Chaos & Mayhem 2:06
4. Ruined by Plague 2:35
5. Shadows of Northern Chaos 3:06
6. Where Shadows Grow 3:28
7. Ruins of Hope 2:28
8. Moon and Stars 4:00

Band members
Mikko Ojala – vocals, guitars
Jani Moilanen – guitars (lead/acoustic)
Jyri Moilanen – bass

Album Review – Necronomicon / UNUS (2019)

Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their undisputed 30-plus-year career.

The gates to the underworld are open once again for another onslaught of Canadian Blackened Death Metal, courtesy of the most demonic and ancient horde hailing from the city of Montreal, the one and only infernal beast Necronomicon, and you better get ready for the searing cacophony of blistering riffs, machine-like drums and a symphonic ambiance found in their brand new album, titled UNUS, the Latin word for “one”. And the band founded by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rob “The Witch” Tremblay back in the distant year of 1988 sounds better than ever in their newborn spawn, proving why Necronomicon have been on the road for such a long period of time and, more important than that, continuously producing high-quality metal that’s just as dark and brutal as it is elegant.

Recorded at Silver Wings Studio, mixed and mastered at Darth Mader Music, and featuring a grim cover art and layout by German artist Totleben (Metal Artworks), UNUS, the crushing and cinematic follow up to the band’s 2016 opus Advent of the Human God, flawlessly combines the most infuriated elements of Death Metal with the orchestral prowess of Black Metal, creating the perfect synthesis of both genres and being highly recommended for fans of the music by Dimmu Borgir, Septicflesh, Behemoth and Deicide. Accompanied by newcomer Divider on drums, Rob takes care of all vocal duties, guitars and bass on the album, which therefore creates a very powerful and honest connection between the band’s mastermind and the music found in his new album, also showcasing all his refined skills and passion for dark music.

And Rob begins his onrush of violence and darkness in From Ashes into Flesh, featuring cryptic, phantasmagorical piano notes by guest musician Geirlioz. From the very first second we can witness how sensational Divider is on drums, setting fire to the music with his hellish beats. Put differently, what a bestial display of Symphonic Black Metal to kick off the album, with that devilish aura going on in  Infinitum Continuum, where the slashing riffs by Rob dictate the rhythm while his vocals sound a lot more Death Metal than ever, bringing an extra dosage of rage to the music. Its flammable musicality is beyond perfect for slamming into the circle pit, not to mention Rob’s incendiary guitar solo, elevating the overall quality of the album to new heights. Then it’s time for Divider to crush our skulls with his rumbling drums in Paradise Lost, a lesson in Blackened Death Metal by Necronomicon, sounding as dense and obscure as it can be and with Rob growling and roaring like a true creature from the netherworld.

The cinematic instrumental bridge The Price of a Soul sets the stage for Rob and Divider to explode our senses in the fulminating Singularis Dominus, a grandiose display of Black and Death Metal showcasing nonstop blast beats, electrifying riffs and deep, harsh growls. Put differently, it can’t get any better than this, with all that devastation being embraced by an epic aura generated by the song’s  background keys and choir, flowing like an arrow on fire in pitch black darkness until its thunderous finale. And a mesmerizing intro evolves into an Arabian nightmare entitled The Thousand Masks, with its keys bringing an extra dosage of epicness to the overall musicality, while Rob is on fire with his demonic growls and Divider keeps smashing our skulls with his blast beats.

Arising from the underworld like a fiendish entity, Necronomicon blend the aggressiveness of their trademark Blackened Death Metal with the obscurity of Blackened Doom in Ascending The Throne of Baator, feeling utterly sluggish and disturbing from start to finish and with the strident sound of its guitars being perfect for haunting your damned soul during your sleepless nights. Fhtagn is another atmospheric instrumental piece emerging from the crypts of Hades, preparing the listener for the devastating anthem Cursed MMXIX, a thrash-death-black spawn that will rip your heart out and feed it to the demons, with Rob delivering sheer darkness through his Death and Black Metal riffs and monstrous guttural vocals, resulting in what’s by far one of the heaviest and most frantic of all songs of the album. And Vox Draconis, the last song in UNUS, is just as brutal and exhilarating than its predecessors, bringing forward insanely sharp and heavy guitar solos by Rob supported by Divider’s rhythmic and precise drumming. What an epic and thunderous ending fur such grandiose album of Extreme Metal, I might say, leaving us completely disoriented and eager for more of Necronomicon’s music in a not-so-distant future.

You can get a very good sense of how somber and powerful the music found in UNUS is by listening to the full album on YouTube or on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would definitely purchase one of the best underground albums of 2019 from Necronomicon’s own BandCamp page, from the Season of Mist webstore, from the Napalm Records webstore, or from several other locations such as the FYE webstore, Waterloo Records, Apple Music or Amazon. Rob and his horde really stepped up their game in their 2016 opus Advent of the Human God, sounding extremely focused and professional back then, but there’s something about UNUS, which is by the way the “666th” album in their career,  that makes it absolutely addictive and evil, just like the fictional grimoire from H. P. Lovecraft’s horror stories that gives the band its classy name. It might be its absurd level of darkness and rage, its frantic speed, its epicness or everything at once. What really matters is that Necronomicon kicks ass in UNUS, cementing their name as one of the powerhouses of Canadian extreme music and, therefore, positioning them as the true leaders of extreme music in Canada hands down.

Best moments of the album: Infinitum Continuum, Singularis Dominus, The Thousand Masks and Cursed MMXIX.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. From Ashes into Flesh 4:23
2. Infinitum Continuum 5:27
3. Paradise Lost 4:55
4. The Price of a Soul 1:56
5. Singularis Dominus 4:50
6. The Thousand Masks 3:20
7. Ascending The Throne of Baator 4:54
8. Fhtagn 1:59
9. Cursed MMXIX 4:13
10. Vox Draconis 4:13

Band members
Rob “The Witch” Tremblay – vocals, guitar, bass
Divider – drums

Guest musician
Geirlioz – piano on “From Ashes into Flesh”

Album Review – Sathamel / Horror Vacui (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Released in 2019 Independent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: The Hollow.

Released in 2019 Gate Of The Silver Key Records

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

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

Guest musician
B.ulugüney – keyboards

Concert Review – Slipknot (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/20/2019)

An awesome night of heavy music spearheaded by the world’s most beloved and rebellious masked horde, showing everyone that if you’re 555, then Toronto is 666.

OPENING ACTS: Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat

Blackened Death Metal, Progressive Groove Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Alternative Metal. What at first it might look like the distinct styles you usually find at an European metal fest during the summer is actually the lineup of the 2019 edition of the highly-acclaimed Knotfest Roadshow, and fortunately for us Torontonians the one and only Slipknot and their friends from Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat brought that amalgamation of very different but utterly electrifying genres to the always great Budweiser Stage on another hot summer day in the city. It was a Tuesday, just the beginning of the week, which means most people who attended the show still had an entire week of work after around six intense hours of loud beats, unstoppable riffs and demented circle pits. Well, who cares, right? It’s all in the name of our good old Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Just by arriving at the venue you could see it was going to be a very special day for longtime fans of Slipknot, with several of them being properly dressed as their idols, including some wicked (and a few weird) masks, showing how much those people love and respect a band that revolutionized metal music 20 years ago and that are still alive and kicking. If you had the opportunity to arrive to the Budweiser stage right when the gates were opened, you were able to enjoy a lot of different attractions such as a special Slipknot exhibition right beside where 2018 Wacken Metal Battle Canada winners Centuries of Decay (you can see more details about their 2018 win HERE) where blasting their first-class Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal, enjoy one or more of the several food trucks available, test your knowledge of metal music by taking a fun quiz at the Monster Energy truck (needless to say, I had all six answers correct and got myself a nice Monster Energy bandana), or even take a picture with that crazy dude who tried to swim back to the Slayer concert in 2018 at that same venue. He was wearing a personalized shirt about his 2018 incident and two arm floats. Yes, he’s that crazy.

However, when the clock hit 5:30pm sharp, it was time for the gods and demons of heavy music and all fans that were already at the venue (and I was surprised by the huge number of people that managed to get there in time for the very first concert) to witness another blasphemous, theatrical and absolutely heavy-as-hell performance by Poland’s own BEHEMOTH. Still promoting their awesome 2018 opus I Loved You At Your Darkest, the iconic Nergal and his henchmen Seth, Orion and Inferno delivered a short and sweet concert for fans of their darker version of Death Metal, literally spitting fire, blood and blasphemy on our faces for around 40 minutes, with songs like Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,  Bartzabel and Chant for Eschaton 2000 proving why they became one of the most beloved extreme bands of the past decade, and also one of the most hated and abhorred by any type of church (which in the end is a very positive thing).

Setlist
Solve
Wolves ov Siberia
Daimonos
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Bartzabel
Conquer All
Sabbath Mater
Chant for Eschaton 2000

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

After a quick break the stage was ready with all of its lights aiming at our faces to warn us the pulverizing concert by French Progressive/Groove Metal institution GOJIRA was about to begin, and let me tell you it was simply fantastic and insanely heavy from start to finish. The Duplantier Brothers Joe and Mario, together with Christian Andreu on the guitar and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass delivered a neck-breaking performance for our total delight, leaving us all eager for more of their music in Canadian lands. I loved how heavy, dense and thrilling songs like Stranded, Flying Whales (my favorite of their setlist) and Silvera sounded last night, and we must thank Mr. Mario Duplantier for that. The guy is an untamed beast on drums, crushing his drum set flawlessly and throwing almost all of his sticks to the fans throughout his bestial performance. After such devastating concert by Gojira, I must say once again there’s only one thing I hate about festivals, and that’s the fact bands like Gojira do not have enough time to show the crowd everything they got.

Setlist
Toxic Garbage Island
Backbone
Stranded
Flying Whales
Love
The Cell
Silvera
The Gift of Guilt

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums

After two demolishing concerts of extreme music, it was time to cool things down a bit with the heavier-than-usual Rock N’ Roll by Danish institution VOLBEAT, who are just beginning to promote their newest album Rewind, Replay, Rebound. As a big fan of Volbeat, I was a little worried about how the most berserk Slipknot fans would react to their fusion of lighter styles like Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock, and during the first few songs let’s say most fans weren’t impressed with their music. However, after Sad Man’s Tongue (preceded by a snippet of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”) and Black Rose, featuring Toronto’s own Danko Jones on vocals together with Michael Polsen, things started to pick up and the more than 13 thousand fans at the venue who were already anxious for Slipknot had a great time with the band, especially when they played their heavier stuff like A Warrior’s Call, Dead But Rising and Seal the Deal. In a nutshell, it might not have been the best slot to add Volbeat, right after Behemoth and Gojira and right before Slipknot, but you know what? In the end it all worked really well, something only talented bands like Volbeat can do even against all odds.

Setlist
Born to Raise Hell (Motörhead song)
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Lola Montez
Sad Man’s Tongue
Black Rose (with Danko Jones)
The Everlasting
Slaytan
Dead But Rising
A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
Last Day Under the Sun
Doc Holliday
Seal the Deal
Still Counting
Sawdust in the Blood (Rob Zombie song)

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar
Jon Larsen – drums

SLIPKNOT

It was already past 9pm when the speakers began playing AC/DC’s rock anthem “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”, getting our engines revved up for a storm of heaviness, insanity and explosions by American institution SLIPKNOT. It was total chaos and anarchy from start to finish, with the first few songs from their setlist, those being the classics People = Shit, (sic) and Get This, already inspiring all their fans to go absolutely mental into the pit. The temperature at the Budweiser Stage was just going up, with their new songs Unsainted, Solway Firth (both from their brand new, ass-kicking album We Are Not Your Kind) and All Out Life working even better than expected. As a matter of fact, I was more than sure those three songs would sound fantastic on stage, first because they’re already damn good songs, but mainly due to the fact Slipknot on stage always take their heaviness to the next level.

Corey, Mick, Jim and all others were on fire during their long and incendiary performance, with all their stage paraphernalia (and the Budweiser Stage is just perfect for that type of concert) adding a very welcome touch of insanity to the night. Not only that, it was visible how Corey was extremely happy to be back in Toronto after a long time, letting all the energy coming from the crowd penetrate deep inside his mind and helping him growl and scream like a beast until the very end. “We’ve been at this for 20 years! It hasn’t always been easy, but looking at all of you here tonight, I can safely say we’ll be doing it for another 20,” said a more-than-excited Corey to his fans before crushing their heads once again with their venomous music. I honestly have no idea if they can keep that level of violence on stage for another two decades, but if they keep going and delivering top-of-the-line heavy music like what Slayer have been doing until now, we can rest assured rock and metal will never die.

Although the fans at the floor section were out of control inside some killer circle pits, I must say the most demented guy from the entire night was the band’s newest member Tortilla Man. How deranged and talented is that guy? He kept pounding his drums, screaming, jumping up and down, dancing and hitting his beer kegs as hard as possible without showing any signs of fatigue for almost two hours; now I fully understand why the rest of the band is so happy and excited to have Tortilla Man in the band. The only field where he wasn’t number 1 in madness and precision was dancing, because that’s Mr. Sid Wilson’s undisputed title. I don’t know for sure what exactly he does behind his turntables, but when he’s there dancing and having fun around the stage it’s a whole new thing. That guy is just as sick as his music, no doubt about that. Anyway, after the all-time hits Spit It Out (including their famous “get down/jump the fuck up” interaction with the crowd) and Surfacing, it was time for Slipknot to say goodbye, to promise us all they will return to Toronto, and for the fans to breather a little and try to recover their energies to try to get home safe and sound. And as one final message after such amazing night of metal music, all I have to say to you is that if you’re 555, then I’m 666. As simple as that.

Setlist
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) (AC/DC song)
(515)
People = Shit
(sic)
Get This
Unsainted
Before I Forget
Solway Firth
The Heretic Anthem
Psychosocial
The Devil in I
Prosthetics
Vermilion
Custer
Sulfur
All Out Life
Duality

Encore:
Spit It Out
Surfacing
‘Til We Die

Band members
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables, keyboards
(#4) Jim Root – lead and rhythm guitars
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – samples, media, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – custom percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – lead and rhythm guitars
(#8) Corey Taylor – lead vocals
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Jay Weinberg – drums
Tortilla Man – custom percussion, backing vocals

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Album Review – Hiss From The Moat / The Harrier (2019)

A first-class album of Black and Death Metal made in Italy, inspired by the true harriers of our society such as politics, religion and dictatorship.

In case you’re not familiar with the brutality and rage of Italian Black/Death Metal horde Hiss From The Moat, the band was founded in 2006 by drummer James Payne (Vital Remains, Hour of Penance) with two Italian friends, bassist Carlo Cremascoli and guitarist Giacomo Poli, delivering a stream of very interesting releases since their inception, starting with their debut EP The Carved Flesh Message, in 2009, followed by their first full-length album Misanthropy, in 2013, eventually adding vocalist and guitarist Massimilano Cirelli to their lineup, and now their sophomore full-length opus The Harrier, in 2019. Regarding the album’s title, Mr. Payne says, “The Harrier refers to he who devastates. It’s not intended as someone whom we created to destroy, but rather to indicate everything that has devastated our history, like politics, religion and dictatorship etc. That’s why we used extracts of religious and political scripts in the lyrics.”

Based in the cities of Los Angeles (United States), London (England) and Milan (Italy), this multinational entity has recently issued a series of videos through their YouTube channel showing the band working on the recording of The Harrier in the city of Milan, therefore demonstrating their passion for what they do and a desire to be as honest and transparent as possible with their fans. Furthermore, regarding the album’s artwork designed by Stefano Bonora, Mr. Payne said that “the artwork of the album is defined by three elements: a head of a statue that represents the blind and apathetic attitude of mankind; the mechanical mask on top of the head that represents the institutions that oppress people (similar to the belt on the statue’s mouth and the crosses as blinders); and the alchemical circles that have the meaning of improving mankind through the mind and the body, to promote self-improvement without looking for external help,” just to give you an idea of how obscure and austere their music is.

The cryptic and serene intro The Badial Despondency suddenly explodes into the bestial title-track The Harrier, where the quartet begins pulverizing everything and everyone that crosses their path. Furthermore, James is unstoppable on drums, while Massimiliano roars the song’s dark lyrics manically from start to finish, and brutality and rage keep flowing from all instruments in I Will Rise, a beyond electrifying Melodic Black Metal tune where the guitars by both Massimiliano and Giacomo sound infernal, not to mention how fast, precise and ruthless James is on drums. Then some sort of “dark poem” is recited by Massimiliano before all hell breaks loose in The Passage To Hell, bringing not even a single second of peace for us to breathe, only sheer devastation in the form of classic Black Metal, with James once again hammering our heads with his hellish and intricate drumming.

Slaves To War is just as demonic as its predecessor, showcasing sick guitar riffs, endless violence and a sulfurous atmosphere only modern Black Metal can offer you, keeping the album on fire before the band comes ripping our hearts out with the magnificent Sine Animvs, a lecture in modern-day Melodic Black Metal infused with Death Metal nuances, close to the Blackened Death Metal blasted by the iconic Behemoth. Hence, it’s absolutely impossible to stand still to the incendiary riffs by the band’s guitar duo. In the interlude titled The Abandonment, acoustic guitars work as the “calm before the storm”, warming up our senses for The Allegory of Upheaval, another straightforward creation by those Italian metallers alternating between very complex and interesting moments and less inspired passages. It’s still a very good song though, proving how powerful the band always sounds.

Then we have another one of my favorite tracks, God Nephasto, and James himself had a few nice words to say about it. “The song is one of the most intense of the album as far as rhythm and atmosphere,” explained our talented drummer. “It has several parts of blast beats and breakdowns that combined with the dark atmosphere of the notes keep the song pretty nervous. This is to support the lyrics that have been taken from parts of the Enuma Elish and the Old Testament that talk about when the Gods mentioned in these scripts, ordered sacrifices in their honor.” Musically speaking, it’s a visceral sonic havoc that will please all fans of the genre, sounding crisp, thunderous and menacing, with highlights to Massimilano’s infernal growls and obviously to James’ demolishing beats. Their second to last Black Metal extravaganza, entitled Unperishing, is just as demonic and violent as the rest of the album, with its classic riffs and beats bringing endless heaviness to the overall musicality, while Carlo not only extracts thunder from his bass, but he also supports Massimiliano’s vociferations flawlessly with his backing vocals. And there’s still time for one final onrush of blackened sounds for our total delight, named The Decay of Lies, less frantic but as heavy as hell, working at times as a marching outro to such vile album. Needless to say, Massimiliano and Giacomo are absolutely demonic with their guitars from start to finish, ending the album on a high and obscure note.

There are several places where you can get your copy of such amazing album of Black and Death Metal, like the band’s own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, the M-Theory Audio’s webstore in regular CD or limited edition vinyl format, the Napalm Records’ webstore, iTunes, Amazon, and so on. Don’t forget to also follow Hiss From The Moat on Facebook, and to worship darkness to the sound of their crushing extreme music, always keeping a very good distance from all types of religion and from politics, the true destroyers of our decaying society. and that’s how you craft first-class extreme music, my friends. Music that not only makes you bang your head and raise your horns, but that above all that also makes you think.

Best moments of the album: I Will Rise, Sine Animvs and God Nephasto.

Worst moments of the album: The Allegory of Upheaval.

Released in 2019 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. The Badial Despondency 1:24
2. The Harrier 4:00
3. I Will Rise 3:56
4. The Passage To Hell 3:44
5. Slaves To War 4:35
6. Sine Animvs 3:48
7. The Abandonment (Interlude) 3:26
8. The Allegory of Upheaval 4:33
9. God Nephasto 4:12
10. Unperishing 4:46
11. The Decay of Lies 4:48

Band members
Massimilano Cirelli – vocals, guitar
Giacomo Poli – guitar
Carlo Cremascoli – bass, backing vocals
James Payne – drums

Interview – Anthony Kaoteon

In this exclusive interview, Lebanese vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Kaoteon talks about his brand new project Death Tribe, his already established band Kaoteon, and his always delicate connection to the Middle-East.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

The Headbanging Moose: Let’s begin with a very simple question, and that is who’s Anthony Kaoteon? When did you begin your life in metal music, and who influenced you the most to follow that path?

Anthony Kaoteon: I am a Lebanese kid who grew up at the end of Civil War, witnessed the Syrian occupation, the religious hatred of my countrymen, the bombs in the streets of Beirut, the Israeli mass airplane attacks on the country to mention a few big events that scarred me as a child and made me realize that the world is blind and needs someone loud enough to hear the truth.

THM: What’s your goal with Death Tribe, and what’s the main difference from your already established band Kaoteon? Can you tell us more about the story behind Death Tribe and the reason for the band’s name?

AK: Death Tribe is more of a personal project where I am experimenting with Metal genres. It is not a side project but it has no restrictions or limitations as it has no genres, not one vocalist or one sound. The only restriction is me as the only fixed member in the band but working with new musicians opens my mind and allows me to explore areas I would have never explored otherwise. If I was a polyamorous guy, then KAOTEON would be my lover and Death Tribe my date.

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

THM: Regarding your brand new album Beyond Pain and Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, how was the recording process of the album? Did everything go as planned, and do you think the final result sends the message you had in mind to the listener?

AK: The recording process was very lengthy, expensive and time consuming especially that it was recorded in several regions and studios around the world. The biggest impact on sound were the mixing engineer – namely Karim Sinno from The Audioloft in Lebanon. He brought everything together and kept it crystal clear.

THM: Beyond Pain and Pleasure features an array of excellent guest vocalists such as Walid Wolflust, Serge the Slave, Adnan Mryhij, Youmni Abou el Zahab and JM Elias. Apart from Walid Wolflust, who sings for your other band Kaoteon, are they all your personal friends? How did you invite each one of them to sing in the album?

AK: They are all personal and close friends of mine who have their great bands and I wanted to promote their sound through mine while promoting my sound through theirs. We come from a very talented region that is undiscovered and deserves much more support.

THM: My favorite songs from Beyond Pain and Pleasure are the title-track Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate. I personally think they’re very powerful and rebellious, which I believe is what you want the listener to feel while listening to the album. Having said that, what song from the album better represents yourself and your never-ending fight for freedom?

AK: That is the beauty of an album like BP&P, every person will have a different favorite. I enjoy Hollow, BP&P and Implode Explode a lot but this varies every now and then. The overall sound of the album is rebellious so I surely wanted that but what I really wanted is to deliver an eclectic album that brings all genres together under one record.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

THM: I’m pretty sure the metal scene in the Netherlands, your current home, is a lot more developed than in your homeland Lebanon. Are there any bands you would recommend from the Dutch underground scene?

AK: I am still not very active in the scene due to a lot of shit happening in my personal life that I will not discuss but the bands here are very talented. I see a huge stoner metal movement. I cannot chose one band top of mind as it wouldn’t be just but there is definitely a lot of bands to check that won’t disappoint.

THM: Now talking about your connection to Lebanon and the Middle-East, how harmful do you think the combination of religion and politics is in that region not only to metal and non-metal music, but to all forms of art? And do you see an end to that in the future?

AK: It is detrimental and I am afraid I don’t see an end to it anytime soon. It is a deeply rooted plague that is still being nourished by the west to control its masses and use it when and where needed.

THM: Do you think one day you’ll be able to return to Lebanon and start making metal music again there? And what do your family and friends that are still in Lebanon think of the type of music you play?

AK: Most people don’t know what is metal unless they like it and play it. We live parallel lives so that we don’t get judged. I don’t see myself returning to Lebanon to play music any time soon.

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

THM: What’s next for Anthony Kaoteon? Can we expect a new Kaoteon or Death Tribe album in a not-so-distant future, and do you have any plans for touring with any of your bands around Europe or in North America? I would love to see either Kaoteon or Death Tribe performing in Canada.

AK: For touring, KAOTEON is the horse of choice and we are releasing the 3rd album soon hopefully as we finished the recording with Adrian (Erlandsson) from At the Gates on drums and Linus (Klausenitzer) from Obscura on bass again. The mixing and mastering were finalized by Tue Madsen in Denmark at Antfarm Studios and the artwork is getting ready with Vincent Fouquet in France.

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, Anthony! It’s always a pleasure interviewing relentless musicians like you who keep the underground metal scene alive and kicking. Please feel free to send a final message to our readers, and anything else you would like to say to all fans of heavy music out there.

AK: Thanks a million for the opportunity to speak and promote the music Gustavo. People like you keep the dream alive and I hope you will keep it up. As for the readers and music lovers, if you want bands to keep making music – support them!

Links
Kaoteon Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp
Death Tribe Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp

Metal Chick of the Month – Mariia “Masha” Dementieva

Raise some hell, our true Lady Evil!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Master’s Call / Morbid Black Trinity EP (2019)

Behold the rise of a new Black Metal entity from the UK and their debut EP, encompassing the darkness of faith, body and spirit with three powerful tracks that each tell a different potent story.

Originally conceived by guitarists John Wilcox and Dave Powell in the birthplace of metal itself, Birmingham, England, in 2014, but only reaching its full shape and form in 2016 after recruiting lead singer Shayan, bassist Adam Tricklebank and finally  drummer James Williams, Wolverhampton-based Black Metal unity Master’s Call walk forth through the flames beyond the gates with conviction and grit on their side, going against all odds and standing strong no matter what. For instance, vocalist Shayan, born in Tehran, the capital of Iran, where rock and metal music are banned (especially where anti-religious lyrics are concerned as the country’s hardline Islamic government considers it blasphemy), didn’t stop writing and performing Black Metal even with the potential risk of jail or even execution, proving how obstinate and passionate for extreme music Shayan and his bandmates from Master’s Call are.

Now in 2019 it’s time for this unrelenting British horde to unleash hell with their debut EP Morbid Black Trinity, an album highly recommended for fans of bands like Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Conjurer and Behemoth, encompassing the darkness of faith, body and spirit with three powerful tracks that each tell a different potent story. Recorded and mixed by Neil Haynes at The Parlour Studios in Northampton, mastered by Peter In De Betou at Tailor Maid Productions (Necrophobic, Dimmu Borgir, Watain) in Sweden, and featuring a creepy artwork created by the band’s own John Wilcox and Adam Tricklebank, Morbid Black Trinity is not just another fantastic extreme music album from the independent scene, but a beyond solid statement that Master’s Call are among us to stay and to keep spreading darkness and rage in the name of their beloved Black Metal.

An ominous intro morphs into a thrilling fusion of Black and Death Metal the likes of Behemoth in the first track, From Once Beneath The Cursed, led by Shayan’s sulfurous roars and James’ thunderous beats, while Dave and John extract the most metallic sounds you can imagine form their scorching hot guitars. Depicting the incarnation of a physical embodiment conjured from the underlying madness, hate and evil of the world, the entire song couldn’t sound more imposing than that, with poetry and darkness flowing as one from its vile lyrics (“Rise oh ferocious beast that lies within / At last we have reached the time to strike this mortal coil / So let loose the pain, gathering the serpents below / Sweet death shall conquer them all / May its annihilation bless our hearts / For we have snuffed long in slumber / Of the prison of life that you call a gift / We’ll burn it! / Scorch the solar as we have awakened”).

Rising from the depths of hell once again, Master’s Call offer our avid ears the fulminating The Spire Cranes, representing the holy buildings that tower high to cast the reach of their oppressive symbols of faith afar, but can be broken down through the cracks in their holy walls. Dave and John’s riffs dictate the song’s vibrant rhythm while James keeps crushing his drums mercilessly and Adam makes the ground tremble with his bass lines, all enfolded by Shayan’s deep, demonic vociferations. And lastly, the icing on the cake comes in the form of almost seven minutes of visceral Blackened Death Metal blasted by Shayan and his horde in My Eyes Are The Night, with Dave and John bringing hints of Thrash Metal in their amazing riffs, sounding violent and somber from start to finish. Assuming the perspective of a hunter that stalks the night, preying on victims who have lost themselves amid the atrocities of the world, by manipulating them into sacrificing themselves for the false hope of a greater existence beyond our own, this austere aria of darkness makes it impossible not to break your spinal cord headbanging to the brutal beats by James, ending the EP in a beyond demonic vibe.

In a nutshell, the gates to the underworld are open thanks to the awesome music crafted by this unstoppable group of musicians from the UK in Morbid Black Trinity,  and if you want to know more about such up-and-coming act you should definitely follow them on Facebook, and of course if you’re already a longtime fan of both classic and modern-day Black Metal go grab your copy of their debut EP directly from their BandCamp page. Although short in duration, Morbid Black Trinity already shows all the potential Master’s Call have and how furious and obscure their music can be, leaving us eager for more of their malevolent compositions in the form of another EP or full-length release and, consequently, pointing to a bright (or maybe I should say dark) future for this sharp and dauntless Black Metal entity.

Best moments of the album: From Once Beneath The Cursed.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. From Once Beneath The Cursed 5:50
2. The Spire Cranes 5:07
3. My Eyes Are The Night 6:41

Band members
Shayan – vocals
Dave Powell – guitars
John Wilcox – guitars
Adam Tricklebank – bass
James Williams – drums

Album Review – Rifftera / Across the Acheron (2019)

Let’s brave the waters of the Acheron to the sound of the brand new opus by this talented Melodic Death and Thrash Metal squad from Finland.

If in 2015 a Finnish Melodic Death Metal band that goes by the stylish name of Rifftera stunned us all with their  aggressive and futuristic debut opus Pitch Black, now in 2019 it’s time for this talented Vaasa-base squad comprised of Janne Hietala and Mikko Kuoppamaa on vocals and guitars, Jupe Karhu on bass, Antti Pöntinen on keyboards and newcomer Ville Härkönen on drums to take another amazing step in their more-than-promising career with Across the Acheron, which is not only their sophomore release but an album that exhales harmony, electricity and rage, bringing a well-balanced and thrilling fusion of Death and Thrash Metal for both fans of what the band presented in their previous album as well as newcomers to their whimsical realm of modern-day metal music.

Featuring once again a beautiful cover art by Petri Lampela, who besides Rifftera has already worked with other excellent bands like  Vinide and Ratbreed, Across the Acheron might have taken longer than expected to be released, but the wait was definitely worth it as each and every song of the album is an absolute feast of first-class Melodic Death Metal. “The aim was basically to take steps forward from our debut in every aspect and we are really happy with the result. In my honest and not at all biased opinion I think that clear improvement was achieved musically, lyrically and production-wise,” commented lead singer and guitarist Janne, complementing his thought by saying that “when it comes to comparing the music between Across the Acheron and Pitch Black, I would say that our expression has reached new levels on both ends of the spectrum; some parts on the new album are more brutal than anything that what we had on Pitch Black and then again some songs are more straight forward and melodic than before. Overall it could be described that the building blocks are the same but writing and performing skills have evolved.”

The opening track Burning Paradise already showcases an epic start led by the always cinematic keys by Antti, being gradually joined by all other instruments until all hell breaks loose to a deep, enraged roar by Janne, becoming an almost Blackened Death Metal tune infused with Melodic and Industrial Metal elements where both Janne and Mikki slash their guitars in a piercing manner. Then we have the 8-minute extravaganza Two Sides of the Story, sounding very close to what they did in Pitch Black, with Ville simply demolishing his drums while Jupe and Antti generate a captivating background sounding with their instruments, also delivering tons of harmony and ethereal vibes for our total delight; followed by Eye of the Storm, a rhythmic, imposing and thrilling display of contemporary Scandinavian metal, showcasing pounding drums, epic keys and a dark and menacing atmosphere. Furthermore, Janne and Mikko have a very healthy “duel” of vocal styles, and as they sing during the entire song, it’s indeed beautiful to enjoy their ass-kicking metal music when you’re “in the eye of the storm”.

And those Finnish metallers keep invading our senses with their fusion of futuristic sounds and endless harmony in Cutthroat Game, with both guitars sounding as sharp as a knife while the bass punches by Jupe get even more thunderous then before, accompanied by Ville’s nonstop drums. After such crushing tune, it’s time to speed things up a bit in the superb Cry Wolf, led by Janne’s deranged growls and with Antti bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the sonority through his keys, resulting in what’s the most metallic and visceral of all songs; whereas Warmonger is another brutal composition tailored for cracking your neck in half headbanging, with Mikko’s clean vocals and Antti’s spot-on keys bringing some peace and hope to all devastation blasted by their bandmates. Not only that, the song’s main riff will entice you to keep bang your head nonstop, which obviously means this is an amazing option to be added to their setlist during their live concerts. Things slow down a bit in Deep Waters, getting more melodic, delicate and introspective than its predecessors but still exhaling the band’s characteristic rage, with the always inspiring keys by Antti stealing the spotlight and, therefore, keeping the level of electricity high, setting the stage for the 11-minute aria Across the Acheron, a very detailed and cinematic exhibit of their Melodic Death and Thrash Metal where you’ll be enfolded by inspiring passages, melodious riffs and solos, powerful vocals and violent growls. Moreover, this song has an amazing vibe and a touch of delicacy that only a band like Rifftera can bring you directly from the stunning Scandinavia, ending the album on a high, ominous and majestic mode.

It’s always a pleasure watching a hardworking and honest group of skillful musicians like Rifftera evolving like what they did from Pitch Black to their new album Across the Acheron, and in order to show them our true support don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to listen to their music on Spotify, and of course purchase your copy of Across the Acheron from the Inverse Records webstore, from Record Shop X, from iTunes, or from Amazon. In ancient Greek mythology, the Acheron was known as the “river of woe”, and was one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld. Having said that, I guess it’s time for all of us fans of Melodic Death Metal to brave the waters of the Acheron together with Rifftera, and face all the perils the underworld might bring us to the sound of their brand new and excellent album.

Best moments of the album: Eye of the Storm, Cry Wolf and Warmonger.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Burning Paradise 6:12
2. Two Sides of the Story 8:04
3. Eye of the Storm 6:34
4. Cutthroat Game 6:12
5. Cry Wolf 5:08
6. Warmonger 6:29
7. Deep Waters 4:50
8. Across the Acheron 11:20

Band members
Janne Hietala – guitars, harsh vocals
Mikko Kuoppamaa – guitars, clean vocals
Jupe Karhu – bass
Antti Pöntinen – keyboards
Ville Härkönen – drums