Album Review – Nexion / Seven Oracles (2020)

Behold the indomitable seven-headed best of Black Metal summoned by an up-and-coming, infernal horde hailing from Iceland.

The nature of existence and human value and meaning are central themes in every religion, every spirituality and countless philosophies. It is thus fitting that Reykjavík, Iceland-based Black Metal horde Nexion’s first full-length opus, entitled Seven Oracles, concerns itself with these subjects, working as a revelatory “proclamation” of mythic proportions. Formed in 2016, the band comprised of Joshua Hróðgeir Rood on vocals, Jóhannes Smári Smárason and Óskar Rúnarsson o the guitars, Kári Pálsson on bass and Sigurður Jakobsson on drums offers in the follow-up to their 2017 self-titled EP a collection of the seven “oracles”, with each one addressing the nature of existence from a different angle, revealing and tearing away upheld “truths” like the serpent who gnaws the roots of Yggdrasil. Each song is a dagger, each chord is poison, and each utterance is fire, destroying the receiver’s sense of existential belief until there is nothing left. Mixed and mastered at Studio Emissary in Iceland, and featuring a cryptic artwork by José Gabriel Alegría Sabogal portraying a seven-headed beast appearing before a figure who offers it up a libation in exchange for wisdom within a self-conflating world, Seven Oracles has everything we love in extreme music, leaving us all completely disoriented after its 46 minutes of scorching and austere music are over.

Arising from the depths of the underworld, this Icelandic horde generates a Stygian wall of sounds in the title-track Seven Oracles, exploding into a raw and vile sonority led by Sigurður’s infernal drums while Joshua roars like a true demonic entity, not to mention the strident riffage by the band’s guitar duo, building an instant bridge to the also occult and ritualistic extravaganza titled Revelation of Unbeing, bringing elements from Blackened Doom and Doom Metal to make the overall result even more uncanny, with Jóhannes, Óskar and Kári being on absolute fire with their stringed weapons from start to finish. Then we have Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds, a lesson in modern-day Black Metal made in Iceland that’s even more disturbing and grim than its predecessors, spearheaded by Joshua and his Death Metal-inspired growls and also presenting the trademark epicness of Scandinavian Black Metal; and there’s no time to breather as those ruthless metallers blast another sulfurous aria entitled Sanctum Amentiae, where the razor-edged riffs by both Jóhannes and Óskar are in perfect sync with the rhythmic, pounding beats by Sigurður.

In the fantastic and fulminating Utterances of Broken Throats the entire band hammers their instruments mercilessly, bringing to our ears a piercing and dense hybrid of classic Black Metal and contemporary Melodic Black Metal, or in other words, get ready to be utterly stunned and smashed by those talented marauders. And the tribal beats by Sigurður are gradually accompanied by the hellish guitar lines by Jóhannes and Óskar until all hell breaks loose in The Spirit of Black Breath, another feast of Icelandic Black Metal that will put you in a darkened trance throughout its over six minutes of devilish sounds and tones, followed by the climatic closing aria The Last Messiah, named after the eponymous book The Last Messiah, in honor of Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zappfe, sounding as demolishing and detailed as all previous songs from such intense album of extreme music. Furthermore, Joshua’s growls get deeper and more berserk as the music progresses, all embraced by crisp guitar riffs, rumbling bass punches and a gargantuan amount of evil and obscurity for our vulgar delectation.

This seven-headed best of Black Metal summoned by Nexion is waiting for you at the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page or at the Sound Cave’s webstore in different formats such as the regular digipak CD version or the awesome orange/black marble LP + shirt bundle, and you can also get to know more about such distinct act of the underground Black Metal scene by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by listening to more of their music on Spotify. This is Icelandic Black Metal at its finest, and we must all thank Nexion for bringing to us all mere mortals such breathtaking and compelling display of extreme music, setting the bar really high for the band’s five evil minds in the upcoming releases, always sounding sulfurous, always extreme, and above all that, always loyal to the foundations of Black Metal and to their Scandinavian roots.

Best moments of the album: Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds and Utterances of Broken Throats.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Seven Oracles 6:22
2. Revelation of Unbeing 5:35
3. Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds 5:52
4. Sanctum Amentiae 6:05
5. Utterances of Broken Throats 7:08
6. The Spirit of Black Breath 6:25
7. The Last Messiah 9:05

Band members
Joshua Hróðgeir Rood – vocals
Jóhannes Smári Smárason – guitar
Óskar Rúnarsson – guitar
Kári Pálsson – bass
Sigurður Jakobsson – drums

Album Review – Odraza / Rzeczom (2020)

A unique and caustic album of Black Metal made in Poland about myths, projections, appearances, fears we fight, and the legacy we cannot deny.

Formed in the year of 2009 in the obscure basements and gray courtyards of the charming city of Kraków, in Lesser Poland by vocalist, guitarist and bassist Stawrogin (Gruzja, Massemord and Totenmesse) and guitarist, bassist and drummer Priest (Massemord, Totenmesse and Voidhanger), the Stygian Black Metal duo known as Odraza, or “disgust” from Polish, returns from the pits of the underworld with their sophomore studio album Rzeczom (“things”), the follow up to their 2014 debut opus Esperalem Tkane. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Impressive-Art Studio in Beskidu Małego, Poland, and portraying the stunning Polish model Dorota Maria Kuźmicka as its cover art, Rzeczom will take you on a dark and captivating journey through the wicked world of Odraza. “We dedicate Rzeczom to ourselves, the authors. It is a diary; excerpts from our lives and the lives of the people once close to us come across the words by the authors that inspire us. It is about myths, about projections, appearances, fears we fight, and the legacy we cannot deny. It is also about the lie – after all, it is but us who decide how many of those memories reflect what has never been,” darkly commented the duo about their new and weird creation.

In the opening tune titled Schadenfreude (“malicious joy” or “spitefulness” from German), an eerie, cryptic intro quickly explodes into modern and visceral Black Metal led by the duo’s scorching riffs, with Priest blasting savagery and intricacy through his beats nonstop. The album couldn’t have started in a better (and more venomous) way, I might say, with the duo’s rumbling bass igniting the title-track Rzeczom, sounding as if Triptykon went full Blackened Doom. Moreover, Stawrogin growls and barks like a true demonic beast throughout the entire song, spiced up by somber passages and vicious backing vocals, resulting in a song definitely not recommended for the lighthearted. Then back to a more ferocious and berserk mode those Polish metallers fire the Behemoth-inspired W Godzinie Wilka (“at the hour of the wolf”), bringing to our ears Blackened Death Metal at its finest with Stawrogin’s harsh gnarls being effectively supported by Priest’s pounding drums; whereas a serene, acoustic intro permeates the air in …Twoją Rzecz Też (“…your thing too”), evolving into a metallic and alternative, almost circus-like onrush of sounds showcasing the band’s versatility and their will to never sound outdated or repetitive.

Once again sounding wicked and vile form start to finish, the duo surprises us with another round of unusual extreme music in Długa 24 (“long 24”), where Stawrogin does a very entertaining job with both his darker vocals and his clean vociferations, followed by Świt Opowiadaczy (“dawn of the storytellers”), offering the listener six minutes of obscure passages and endless violence flowing from their damned instruments, with Priest stealing the spotlight with his frantic and intricate drumming. And venturing through the realms of Doom and Stoner Metal to give their core Black Metal an even more badass vibe, they offer us all Młot Na Małe Miasta (“a hammer for small towns”), with both Stawrogin and Priest extracting electricity from their stringed weapons and, therefore, keeping the album at a high level of obscurity and madness.

After such demented tune, we’re treated to Najkrótsza Z Wieczności (“the shortest of eternities”), a contemplative and melancholic display of extreme music made in Poland where Stawrogin devilishly declaims the song’s Polish words, being multi-layered and grim just the way we like it in Extreme Metal. Following this cryptic composition, a phantasmagorical storm is about to begin in Bempo, growing in intensity until morphing into ass-kicking Blackened Death Metal led by Priest’s always fulminating drums, also showcasing a razor-edged guitar solo by guest musician Azar. And last but not least, it’s time for Odraza to stun us once and for all with eight minutes of absolute darkness in the instrumental aria Ja Nie Stąd (“I’m not from here”), starting in a progressive and atmospheric manner and flowing beautifully to the riffage and beats by the band’s dynamic duo until its inevitable and ethereal end.

This precious gem of contemporary Black Metal made in Poland can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you should definitely buy a copy of the album from Odraza’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Godz Ov War Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore and from Discogs, showing your true support to the talented Stawrogin and Priest and to the entire underground scene. Also, don’t forget to follow Odraza on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their distinguished music. It doesn’t matter if you are a native Polish metalhead or if you don’t understand a single word said by the band in Rzeczom, this is the type of album that’s a must-have in your collection of dark and acid extreme music, and just like Odraza dedicated the album to themselves, you can go ahead a dedicate it to your own Black Metal persona in your most introspective moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Schadenfreude, W Godzinie Wilka and Młot Na Małe Miasta.

Worst moments of the album: Długa 24.

Released in 2020 Godz Ov War Productions

Track listing
1. Schadenfreude 4:18
2. Rzeczom 5:21
3. W Godzinie Wilka 4:50
4. …Twoją Rzecz Też 5:43
5. Długa 24 2:06
6. Świt Opowiadaczy 6:01
7. Młot Na Małe Miasta 5:41
8. Najkrótsza Z Wieczności 5:06
9. Bempo 6:29
10. Ja Nie Stąd 8:01

Band members
Stawrogin – vocals, guitars, bass
Priest – guitars, bass, drums

Guest musician
Azar – guitar solo on “Najkrótsza Z Wieczności” and “Bempo”

Album Review – Zifir / Demoniac Ethics (2020)

An unrelenting Turkish horde continues to pave their path of anti-religiousness and nihilism in their brand new and sulfurous album.

“Zifir is a confession about who we are, and who you are.”

Arising from the pits of Istanbul, Turkey (and also hailing from Brno, Czech Republic) with an infernal explosion of putrid Black Metal spiced up with Doom Metal and Blackened Doom nuances, an unrelenting horde that goes by the name of Zifir, which by the way is the Persian-originated Turkish word for “tar” (finding its use in “zifiri karanlık”, an idiom corresponding to “utter darkness”), returns with another blasphemous album titled Demoniac Ethics, the fourth full-length opus since the band’s inception in 2006 in the Turkish city of İzmir. Formed by Onur Önok on vocals and guitars, Ilgar on bass and Nursuz on drums, Zifir continue to pave their path of anti-religiousness and nihilism in Demoniac Ethics, showing religion through a twisted kaleidoscope, exposing the imprisoning religious dogma and tyranny that have occurred throughout history, and taking you right into the innermost sanctum of their anti-religious agenda while delivering one of the strongest and most forward-thinking Black Metal releases of late. Add to all that the disturbing artwork by Ukrainian artist Vergvoktre and there you have a full-bodied ode to darkness made in Turkey.

And cryptic, somber sounds permeate the air in the intro Sûr before Onur begins his primeval sonic attack in Chants For Execution, growling and slashing his guitar strings manically while his bandmates fire sheer obscurity from their rumbling bass and drums, also presenting background ritualistic elements to make the whole experience even more impactful to the listener. Then in Still Reigning austere lyrics are darkly vociferated by Onur (“We are in despair, now and forever / The only truth is just dystopia / Behold the portrait of hell, in the realm of hysteria”) while Ilgar and Nursuz bring a grim Doom Metal touch to the overall sonority, feeling at times like pure Blackened Doom; followed by Empire of Worms, again venturing through the Stygian lands of crushing doom with Nursuz delivering both old school Black Metal beats and ominous, sluggish sounds, while Onur continues his descent into pitch black darkness with his inhumane vocalizations.

Gökyüzü Karanlık (or “the sky is dark” from Turkish), a pure, unfiltered Blackened Doom extravaganza led by the slow and fierce beats by Nursuz, is not recommended for the lighthearted, while Onur and Ilgar extract minimalist and extremely venomous sounds form their stringed axes, whereas the beyond vile bridge An Eerie Moment prepares our senses for Chaos Clouds, a vile and imposing Black Metal feast where Onur sounds more demonic than ever, sounding very atmospheric from start to finish and bringing forward tribal drums and razor-edge, crushing riffs intertwined with the vicious gnarls by Onur. And strident guitars and endless obscurity are the main ingredients in Spirit of Goats, all boosted by its anti-religious, sulfurous words (“Life they pledge / Death of else / Tons of faith / Drowned beneath lies / All shall rot / Tons of faith / Heresy saves / I am the spirit of goats”). Put differently, it couldn’t have sounded more old school and otherworldly that this.

Never tired of spreading blasphemy, rage and darkness, the trio fires the absolutely gruesome A Bleak Portrait, a hybrid between classic Black Metal and contemporary Blackened Doom spearheaded by Onur with his hellish growls and riffs, while Ephemeral Idols leans towards a more classic version of extreme music infused with Black N’ Roll elements. Moreover, Ilgar and his menacing bass lines are effectively complemented by the headbanging beats by Nursuz, resulting in an amazing performance by the trio and ending in the most Mephistophelian way possible. Lastly, closing the album we have the also somber and cryptic Insects as Messengers, a lesson in Black and Doom Metal led by the vicious roars by Onur and the slow and poisonous drums by Nursuz, with the sound of Onur’s guitars cutting your skin deep without a single drop of mercy.

There are several locations where you can purchase your copy of Demoniac Ethics (which is also available for a full listen on YouTube), including the band’s own BandCamp page, the Duplicate Records’ BandCamp page and webstore (in CD and LP formats), Apple Music and Amazon, and of course don’t forget to support the band by following them on Facebook and on Instagram and by subscribing to their YouTube channel, keeping the fires of underground, anti-religious Black Metal burning bright and spreading the blasphemous and utterly incendiary sounds and words of such demented Turkish horde to the four corners of our decaying, condemned world.

Best moments of the album: Chants For Execution, Spirit of Goats and Ephemeral Idols.

Worst moments of the album: Still Reigning.

Released in 2020 Duplicate Records

Track listing
1. Sûr 1:33
2. Chants For Execution 4:20
3. Still Reigning 5:38
4. Empire of Worms 5:04
5. Gökyüzü Karanlık 2:36
6. An Eerie Moment 2:04
7. Chaos Clouds 4:27
8. Spirit of Goats 3:39
9. A Bleak Portrait 3:55
10. Ephemeral Idols 3:53
11. Insects as Messengers 4:32

Band members
Onur Önok – vocals, guitars
Ilgar – bass
Nursuz – drums

Album Review – Wardaemonic / Acts of Repentance (2020)

Hailing from Western Australia, an infernal horde returns with more of their ancient and inscrutable Black Metal in the form of the mightiest album of their career.

Back from the hellish pits of Perth, Western Australia with the mightiest album of their career, the excellent Acts of Repentance, a ruthless Black Metal horde known as Wardaemonic has gone from strength to strength in their new album, incorporating slower, dissonant parts that work brilliantly when contrasted with their trademark “ancient and inscrutable Black Metal”. Furthermore, the band comprised of Maelstrom on vocals and drums, Anharat and Lord Bane on the guitars and Blitz on bass and synths offers fans of the music by iconic names such as Immortal, Marduk, Watain and Dark Funeral, among others, everything we crave in classic Black Metal, feeling uncompromising and steely in its approach while backed with enough experience to make the entire album memorable and also intriguing for the listener to keep coming back to it for more. Featuring a sulfurous artwork by French artist Leoncio Harmr (Eternal Storm) and layout by Finnish artist Turkka Rantanen (Paganizer, Demilich), Acts of Repentance is not only a fantastic addition to the band’s discography, marking their fourth full-length opus and the follow-up to their 2015 installment Obsequium, but also a must-have release for anyone who respects and admires underground Black Metal from the bottom of their (evil) hearts.

Dragging our souls to their Stygian Australian lair, the quarter begins their devastating Black Metal onrush in the first of the album’s five acts from hell, Act I – Introspection, where Maelstrom sounds beyond infernal with both his blast beats and devilish vociferations, resulting in a lecture in old school Black Metal clearly inspired by the genre’s infamous Scandinavian sound. Not only that, Anharat and Lord Bane will penetrate deep inside your psyche with their crushing riffage, and if you survive such demented and vicious display of extreme music you better get ready for another ass-kicking tune titled Act II – Admission, offering the listener nine minutes of blackened sounds and cryptic passages where those four black metallers from Down Under don’t stop hammering their instruments for our total delight. Moreover, Blitz makes the earth tremble with his bass lines and diabolical synths, helping the music flow as darkly and aggressively as it can be until the very end.

Then an absolutely atmospheric and phantasmagorical intro ignites the 12-minute aria entitled Act III – Castigation, morphing into a disruptive and evil sonic feast led by Maelstrom and his unstoppable blast beats and also bringing elements of primeval Doom Metal and Blackened Doom to our avid ears, not to mention the strident riffs and endless rage flowing from Maelstrom’s inhumane gnarls, sounding multi-layered, dense and utterly impactful. Another grim and captivating ambience brought forth by Wardaemonic is suddenly replaced by an avalanche of violent Black Metal titled Act IV – Sufferance, where the somber vocalizations by Maelstrom make an interesting paradox with his trademark deep roars while the band’s guitar duo continues to breathe fire from their stringed weapons. And ending the album in the most brutal and demolishing way we have Act V – Repentance, an unrelenting display of traditional Black Metal infused with Melodic and even Atmospheric Black Metal nuances. Your mind will be destroyed by the stunning riffs by both Anharat and Lord Bane accompanied by Blitz’s thunderous bass punches, concluding the album’s five acts on a truly high note.

Wardaemonic Acts of Repentance Autographed CD Boxset

The gates to the underworld of Australian metal are open once again thanks to Wardaemonic and their wicked new opus Acts of Repentance, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and in order to join those talented metallers in their quest for Black Metal simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and purchase your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in CD format or as an amazing autographed CD boxset, or from Apple Music. After such pulverizing opus of Extreme Metal, I bet you’re eager for more of the music by Wardaemonic, and I’m quite sure we won’t have to wait for another five excruciating years to hear again from one of the most talented and solid metal acts coming from Australia, darkening the skies and our souls with their undisputed Black fuckin’ Metal.

Best moments of the album: Act I – Introspection and Act III – Castigation.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Act I – Introspection 7:15
2. Act II – Admission 8:58
3. Act III – Castigation 12:09
4. Act IV – Sufferance 9:01
5. Act V – Repentance 8:14

Band members
Maelstrom – vocals, drums
Anharat – lead guitars
Lord Bane – guitars
Blitz – bass, synth programming

Album Review – My Dying Bride / The Ghost Of Orion (2020)

A lesson in how to transform pain, agony and grief into beautiful metal music by one of the pioneers of the death and doom style.

It’s impressive when even after 30 years on the road a veteran band like West Yorkshire, UK-based Gothic/Doom Metal masters My Dying Bride, one of the pioneers of the death and doom style alongside Anathema and Paradise Lost, is capable of still delivering top-of-the-line music without sounding repetitive, outdated or tiresome, just like what they have to offer us now in 2020 with their 13th studio album, the majestic The Ghost Of Orion, proving once again why the band currently comprised of Aaron Stainthorpe on vocals, Andrew Craighan and Neil Blanchett on the guitars, Lena Abé on bass, Shaun Macgowan on keyboards and violin and Jeff Singer on drums is and will always be a reference in extreme music. Produced by Mark Mynett (Mynetaur), portraying a stunning artwork by Israeli artist Eliran Kantor (Testament, Tristania, Fleshgod Apocalypse), and featuring very special guest appearances by British cellist Jo Quail and Norwegian singer Lindy Fay Hella (from Folk/Ambient band Wardruna), The Ghost Of Orion not only marks the band’s longest gap between studio albums to date, being released five years after their previous effort Feel the Misery, but it’s also a lecture in how to transform pain, agony and grief into beautiful Doom Metal.

As soon as you hit play, get ready to dive deep into the Stygian waters of doom ruled by Aaron and his horde in the opening track Your Broken Shore, with Jeff dictating the rhythm with his somber, sluggish beats while Aaron is absolutely superb with both his anguished, clean vocals and his demonic roars, resulting in the perfect anthem for savoring endless darkness and solitude, not to mention the delicate and whimsical sounds of the cello by Jo Quail and the violin by Shaun throughout the entire song as the icing on the cake. And that lugubrious vibe goes on in the also captivating To Outlive the Gods, with sheer melancholy flowing from its words (“A fool will believe every single word said / And yes you may speak with only me now on the sunrise / Child of my sore and bleeding body come over here / Sit here and say your words feeding only me till sunrise”) while Andrew, Neil and Lena make our hearts tremble with their crushing riffs and bass punches.

Clearly inspired by Aaron’s arduous experience with his five-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer a couple years after the release of Feel the Misery, from which she was thankfully declared in remission later, Tired of Tears brings forward gentle and serene sounds that graciously permeate the air while Shaun is absolutely amazing with his violin, with Lena and Jeff keeping the atmosphere dense and mournful with their sonic weapons. Put differently, this is a lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal with nuances of Depressive Black Metal and Blackened Doom, showcasing My Dying Bride’s undisputed ability to turn pure sadness into grandiose metal music. Following such touching tune we have The Solace, where the hypnotizing vocals by Lindy Fay Hella are solely accompanied by the grim guitar lines by Andrew and Neil in a minimalist and enfolding creation by My Dying Bride.

In the brilliant The Long Black Land the energy emanating from the cello by Jo Quail together with the low-tuned, menacing bass by Lena is outstanding, embellishing even more the song’s over ten minutes of obscure passages spearheaded by the clean and aggressive gnarls by Aaron, giving life to its poetic lyrics  for our total delight (“On the lap of the world I lay my head / Pick my way carefully through our long past / Hold my hand, young one / Hold my hand / Listen to my voice / Hold my hand / Face your God / Your God”) and ending in a classy and mournful manner. The semi-acoustic, phantasmagorical bridge The Ghost of Orion sets the stage for the also bold and intricate The Old Earth, starting also in a gentle and somber way led by Andrew’s and Neil’s acoustic lines, suddenly exploding into a lecture in devilish and sluggish Doom Metal where Aaron declaims the song’s lyrics with passion and rage, overflowing sheer melancholy before the outro Your Woven Shore brings to the listener an ethereal, sinister atmosphere and sonority, putting a cinematic and therefore fabulous closure to the album.

In summary, as aforementioned, Aaron and his bandmates from My Dying Bride simply nailed it in The Ghost Of Orion, available for purchase from the Nuclear Blast webstore and for streaming on Spotify, filling our ears, minds and hearts with an immeasurable amount of melancholy, sorrow and distress in what’s undoubtedly one of the best metal albums of 2020. Having said that, I highly suggest you go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on Instagram, including their tour dates, as they’ll bring the music found in The Ghost Of Orion to the stages near you without a shadow of a doubt. Hence, after listening to such distinguished album of Gothic and Doom Metal (again and again), I’m sure you’ll understand once and for all why My Dying Bride are so important and relevant to the world of heavy music, getting better and better as the years go by just like that fancy red wine you enjoy savoring all by yourself on a cold and rainy night while listening to their undisputed doom.

Best moments of the album: Your Broken Shore, The Long Black Land and The Old Earth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Your Broken Shore 7:43
2. To Outlive the Gods 7:56
3. Tired of Tears 8:37
4. The Solace 5:52
5. The Long Black Land 10:01
6. The Ghost of Orion 3:31
7. The Old Earth 10:32
8. Your Woven Shore 2:09

Band members
Aaron Stainthorpe – vocals
Andrew Craighan – guitars
Neil Blanchett – guitars
Lena Abé – bass
Shaun Macgowan – keyboards, violin
Jeff Singer – drums

Guest musicians
Jo Quail – cello
Lindy Fay Hella – female vocals on “The Solace”

Album Review – Colosso / Apocalypse EP (2020)

Pestilence, War, Death and Famine masterfully turned into brutal and obscure Death Metal by a heavier-than-hell unity hailing from Portugal.

What if a vicious horde hailing from Portugal decided to turn the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos, into gruesome and raw Death Metal? That’s exactly what a project formed in 2011, currently comprised of Max Tomé on guitars, keyboards and vocals, Alexandre Ribeiro (Grog) on bass and Robin Stone (Norse) on drums, collectively known as Porto, Portugal-based Death Metal unity Colosso, has to offer us all in their brand new EP simply titled Apocalypse, translating into modern and sharp Death Metal all the darkness flowing from the four riders Pestilence, War, Famine and Death.

After years of toiling in the underground, putting out six releases of ever-evolving Death Metal such as their debut full-length opus Peaceful Abrasiveness, in 2012, and more recently Rebirth, in 2018, Colosso seem to have reached their most demonic shape and form in Apocalypse, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Norse, Morbid Angel, Nile, Incantation and Suffocation, among other behemoths of extreme music. Mixed and mastered by Max Tomé himself, and featuring a beyond obscure album art by Phlegeton Art Studio, as well as guest vocals by Guilherme Henriques of Oak and Gaerea, Diogo Santana of Analepsy, and Sérgio Afonso of Bleeding Display, Apocalypse is an undoubtedly breathtaking and refreshingly diverse album, showcasing the myriad aspects of this bold and innovative Death Metal band without compromising on their aggressive, apocalyptic sound.

And pestilence and plague permeate the air in the vicious and heavy-as-hell Pestilence, blending the violence of Death Metal with the grim and infernal sounds of Blackened Doom while guest vocalist Guilherme Henriques barks and roars like a creature from the netherworld. Not only that, Robin smashes his drums mercilessly nonstop, with that disturbing and evil onrush of sounds going on and on until the song’s visceral ending. Then guest Sérgio Afonso lends his guttural vocals to Colosso in the also Stygian tune War, with the sounds of machine guns and explosions making the whole song even more realistic, leaning towards classic Death Metal. Moreover, Alexandre’s bass jabs and Robin’s beats feel like the epitome of evil, resulting in a pulverizing display of extreme music for lovers of the genre.

Max himself is responsible for the vocal duties in Death, a lot more melodic and crisper than its predecessors while still providing the band’s characteristic rawness and darkness. Furthermore, Max is spot-on with his razor-edged riffs accompanied by Robin’s intricate drums and, as a surprise, Max fires clean, ethereal vocals instead of the album’s characteristic putrid gnarls, bringing elements from Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal to Colosso’s core savagery. And last but not least, Diogo Santana provides his share of deep guttural roars to Famine, where the band gets back to their most demented and hellish mode, showcasing all band members in total sync led by Max’s strident riffs, while Robin sounds like a stone crusher on drums and, as a consequence, flirting with Brutal Death Metal at times.

In summary, if you’re an admirer of the meanest and heaviest side of Death Metal you must give these Portuguese metallers a very good try as Max and his henchmen have all it takes to explode your mind and darken your soul with their brand new installment Apocalypse, which by the way will soon be available from the band’s own BandCamp page and from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in distinct formats such as the awesome T-shirt + CD + Digital Download bundle. Also, don’t forget to show your support to Colosso by following them on Facebook and by listening to more of their somber creations on Spotify. As the four dreadful figures in the Book of Revelation who symbolize the evils to come at the end of the world get closer and closer to us, there’s nothing better than the avalanche of Death Metal roars crafted by Colosso to provide them a warm and friendly welcome, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: War and Famine.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Pestilence 8:14
2. War 4:07
3. Death 4:11
4. Famine 4:14

Band members
Max Tomé – guitars, keyboards, vocals on “Death”
Alexandre Ribeiro – bass
Robin Stone – drums

Guest musicians
Guilherme Henriques – vocals on “Pestilence”
Sérgio Afonso – vocals on “War”
Diogo Santana – vocals on “Famine”

Album Review – Forlet Sires / Holy (2019)

The “abandoned forefathers” of Switzerland continue their explorations of uneasy, heavy music with their excellent sophomore opus of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal.

Brought into being in late 2013 in Winterthur, a Swiss city northeast of Zurich, near the German border, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal unity Forlet Sires might have started out as a conventional Atmospheric Black Metal project, but soon the band started to incorporate influences from several distinct styles such as classic Black Metal, Doom Metal and even Progressive Metal, consolidating a new approach on the genre without any boundaries while keeping a grief aspect in every tone. Now in 2019 the band comprised of Kilian Schmid on vocals, Tobias Kalt and Sebastian Vogt on the guitars, Matthias Menzi on bass and Daniele Brumana on drums returns in full force with Holy, the follow-up to their 2016 debut album Journey Towards Ruin and a lesson in atmospheric and utterly dark music.

Recorded by Forlet Sires at Gaswerk Winterthur with assistance from Pascal Pendl and George Necola, mixed by Billy Anderson, mastered by Justin Weis and featuring a stylish artwork by Adam Burke that perfectly depicts the album’s sense of death, abandonment and hopelessness, Holy presents an evolved version of Forlet Sires (by the way, an old English expression that roughly translates to “abandoned forefathers”, expressing how mankind has lost its way in various aspects) continuing their explorations of uneasy, heavy music, creating an elusive net of insecurity and surpassing music barriers while following the band into their sonic abyss. These words might sound a bit too poetic for some of you, but as soon as you start listening to Holy I’m sure you’ll realize no words can effectively describe the dark and atmospheric poetry flowing from Forlet Sires’ music.

Melancholy permeates the air from the very first second in the opening track Carnage and Candor, with Tobias and Sebastian taking the lead with their somber guitar lines, suddenly exploding into visceral Atmospheric Doom Metal for our total delight with Kilian roaring like an infernal beast. Moreover, this multi-layered aria brings forward tons of progressiveness and obscurity, getting more and more infuriated as the music progresses with Daniele adding a touch of evil with his Black Metal blast beats, ending in a truly grim and vile manner just the way we like it in Doom Metal. Then in Where Nothing Shall Thrive we’re treated to a classic display of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal that leans towards the most vicious form of Blackened Doom you can think of, all enhanced by the physiological and somber lyrics vociferated by Kilian (“You’re alive, alone. You’re afraid, you tried. Devils are in your mind, lining you up to die. Fade away, longing for more. Feel the void, mourn the waste of life. Youth was lost, faster than you thought. Midlife has passed, all you did was dreaming. Gently conditioned, ambition repressed by degrees.”). And to make things even better, the stringed trio Tobias, Sebastian and Matthias exhale heaviness and evil from their axes throughout the entire song, not to mention the lesson in intricacy and darkness given by Daniele on drums.

Dead Skin, a demonic hybrid of Progressive Metal and Blackened Doom by the quintet, sounds and feels as wicked as it can be,  with Kilian leading his horde with his demented growls and gnarls while the sound of guitars penetrates deep inside your skin and Matthias delivers tons of groove from his bass, resulting in a full-bodied composition that will please all fans of the genre without a shadow of a doubt. And lastly, the thunderous bass by Matthias together with Daniele’s drums generate a beyond aggressive atmosphere in We Roam This World Alone, the epitome of Atmospheric Doom Metal showcasing Stygian words that carry a message of anguish and grief growled by Kilian (“Cold sorrow claims all hope. Live on, for reasons unknown. Falling. Fallen. While I’m bleeding unappealing strands of purulence, I am feeding off a cyst on this dry cunt.”). Hence, keep banging your head nonstop to Tobias’ and Sebastian’s crushing riffage until the song’s climatic finale, overflowing desperation and evil.

It’s quite impressive how Forlet Sires are capable of crafting lengthy, complex and sorrowful compositions without sounding tiresome or repetitive; quite the contrary, each one of the four songs found in Holy, available in full on Spotify, will keep you mesmerized, dragging you into a downward spiral of darkness together with the band, which in the end means they were more than successful in their aforementioned duty of generating fresh and at the same time mournful music. If you want to show your true support to this talented Swiss army of doom, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and grab your copy of Holy from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, preparing your blackened mind and soul for the most desolating and melancholic moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Where Nothing Shall Thrive and We Roam This World Alone.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Cruel Bones

Track listing
1. Carnage and Candor 12:37
2. Where Nothing Shall Thrive 7:45
3. Dead Skin 8:59
4. We Roam This World Alone 11:23

Band members
Kilian Schmid – vocals
Tobias Kalt – guitars
Sebastian Vogt – guitars
Matthias Menzi – bass
Daniele Brumana – drums

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Loud Rage Music

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

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

Album Review – Mavradoxa / Nightmarrow (2019)

The final breath of dark and heavy sounds by a now extinct metal unity will take you on a journey of isolation and hopelessness through the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal.

Let me begin this review by saying that I was absolutely shocked when I read earlier this year that the beyond promising and talented Rochester, New York-based Atmospheric Black Metal band Mavradoxa was calling it quits after only a few years of existence. Fortunately for all of us, fans of dark and atmospheric music, the band left us with three excellent full-length albums, those being their 2016 debut opus Sojourners, their fantastic 2017 release Lethean Lament, and more recently Nightmarrow, released earlier this year via Hypnotic Dirge Records. Although related to the tonal atmosphere and character of their previous albums, Nightmarrow sees the band developing and intensifying their song-writing ability, crafting simultaneously cohesive yet unpredictable songs with a progressive hue that is still rooted in Atmospheric Black Metal.

Engineered by Nicholas Alan at Subterranean Studios, mixed by Stephen Parker (Pillorian, Maestus), mastered by Justin Weis at Trakworx Recording, and featuring a stunning artwork by American artist Dylan Garrett Smith, Nightmarrow represents a meditation on the isolation and hopelessness of our age (particularly in the realm of the urban), and the consequences of technology and voracious consumption of resources. Mavradoxa’s founding duo Zachary Smith, also known as Nival, and Monica Finger, also known as Lux, together with guitarist Tyler Stasierowski (from The Highest Leviathan) and bassist Josh Mason (from Wandering Oak and Acrylazea), perfectly depict that feeling of solitude and desperation in Nightmarrow, positioning the unfortunately now defunct band as one of the most creative and interesting bands of the underground scene in the United States.

Featuring guest vocals by Matt Greenwood and an additional guitar solo by Nicholas Alan, the opening track Maple begins in full force with the razor-edged riffs by Zach and Tyler and the intricate beats by Monica generating a rumbling ambience perfect for Zach’s anguished roars, sounding as powerful and grim just the way we like it in Atmospheric Black Metal. Furthermore, the song’s progressive ending flows smoothly into the even darker musical voyage entitled The Carrion Shade, where Josh and Monica make the earth tremble with their respective instruments while the entire band darkly intones the song’s cryptic lyrics (“Black sun, black moon / In shadows, entombed / Flame, gold, & rust / slowly coalesced / in the pale of the / last winter sunset”). This is Progressive Black Metal at its finest showcasing all band members in absolute sync, therefore delivering a crushing wall of blackened sounds for our total delight, in special Zach and Tyler with their flammable guitars.

Matt Greenwood returns in the title-track Nightmarrow, where the music gets closer to what was offered to us in Lethean Lament, presenting more introspective and atmospheric sounds and passages. Zach sounds utterly enraged and acid on vocals, with Monica’s gentle clean vocals bringing more balance to this dense and bold feast of extreme music. Then an acoustic, ethereal bridge named Rustling Leaves soothes our souls and warms up our senses for Black Crystal Snowfall, featuring guest vocals by Swamp and sheer poetry flowing from its lyrics (“Ancestral whispers beckon us back / to a starless womb, to a time before / this place where all is languishing, / where all is ensnared by the grasp / of synthetic hands, becoming, / and ripping our bones from within”), also bringing forward elements from Blackened Doom added to their core atmospheric music. Monica’s steady beats and Zach’s and Tyler’s crisp riffs will undoubtedly embrace your soul from start to finish, reaching a climatic and piercing grand finale that gently morphs into a melancholic outro titled Umbra, where Zach and Tyler deliver a passionate performance with their acoustic guitars, concluding Nightmarrow on a high and pensive note.

If Nightmarrow, which by the way is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, is indeed the last breath of Atmospheric Black Metal by Mavradoxa no one knows for sure. The band might decide to come back from their “retirement” one day to smash our senses again with their somber music, who knows? Until that day arrives (if it arrives,  of course), you can keep in touch with Zach and Monica on Facebook, and purchase your copy of Mavradoxa’s final journey through the realms of atmospheric and extreme music from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page (or click HERE for all details about the band and where to buy their music), as well as from your regular retailers such as Apple Music, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs. Having said that, it’s with a heavy heart that I finalize this review (or maybe I should call it a tribute), as heavy, ominous and splendorous as the music by the now extinct Mavradoxa. Thank you for your music, Zah and Monica, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you two again in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: The Carrion Shade and Nightmarrow.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Maple 7:41
2. The Carrion Shade 9:25
3. Nightmarrow 9:34
4. Rustling Leaves 1:45
5. Black Crystal Snowfall 10:57
6. Umbra 3:40

Band members
Zachary Smith – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Monica Finger – drums, vocals
Tyler Stasierowski – electric guitars, 12-string acoustic guitar
Josh Mason – fretless bass guitar

Guest musicians
Matt Greenwood – guest vocals on “Maple” and “Nightmarrow”
Swamp – guest vocals on “Black Crystal Snowfall”
Nicholas Alan – additional lead guitar on “Maple”