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”

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Album Review – Mettadone / Rotten Flattery (2019)

This talented Ukrainian entity returns after four long years with a much darker and rawer sound, bringing to our ears first-class European Death and Doom Metal.

Formed in 2014 as a Gothic-doom duo by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Evgeniy Shamarin in Kharkiv, a city in northeast Ukraine which is considered the Black Metal capital of the country, Death/Doom Metal unity Mettadone are ready to crush with a brand new lineup and musical direction in their sophomore album Rotten Flattery, highly recommended for fans of bands with a classic 90’s European sound such as Hypocrisy, Edge of Sanity and Paradise Lost. Comprised of the aforementioned Evgeniy on vocals and lead guitar, Sergey Baskakov also on the guitar, Alexander Chernyakhovsky on bass and Alexey Silenko on drums, Mettadone decided to venture through much darker and devilish lands in Rotten Flattery than what we were able to witness in their debut album Invisible Disease, mainly thanks to Evgeniy moving from drums to vocals and guitar when their previous vocalist left the band, switching from their My Dying Bride-inspired sonority to a much rawer approach, consequently sounding closer to other amazing underground acts like Warcrab, Moss Upon The Skull, Refusal and their countrymen 1914.

The quartet begins hammering their instruments mercilessly in the opening track Mind’s Prisoner, showcasing a well-balanced fusion of classic Death Metal and old school Doom Metal (and even Blackened Doom), with Evgeniy growling like a demon while Alexey crushes his drums in great fashion; whereas in Obscurity of Hypocrisy they keep blasting hatred and rage in the form of extreme music, with the band’s guitar duo Evgeniy and Sergey being on absolute fire, adding a welcome touch of evil to the music with their raw, razor-edged riffs. Then Alexander and Alexey extract pure metallic and utterly menacing sounds form their respective instruments in Untrue Entity, generating a thunderous atmosphere perfect for Evgeniy’s demented roars, resulting in six minutes of darkened sounds perfect for banging your head like there’s no tomorrow. And in Pray for Help we’re treated to a more ferocious version of classic Sludge and Doom Metal, with symphonic elements bringing epicness and melancholy to the overall musicality. Furthermore, it’s a pleasure to listen to Alexey on drums, as he can be at the same time infernal and very technical, never letting the music get stale or tiresome.

Living up to the legacy of underground Doom Metal, the quartet delivers the Stygian tune On the Verge, showcasing a beautiful work done by Evgeniy, Sergey and Alexander with their stringed weapons, and also presenting some clean vocals and crisp guitar solos as “bonuses” for our avid ears. In a Funeral Home showcases creepy piano notes intertwined with cutting riffs and pounding drums in what’s the darkest of all songs of the album with its seven minutes of demonic sounds and a strong feeling of hopelessness, just the way we like it in old school doom, also sounding very progressive and intricate from start to finish. Act of Revenge is another song tailored for ripping your spinal chord headbanging where Evgeniy’s growls get deeper and deeper as the music progresses, with the band’s guitarists being in absolute sync, therefore delivering flammable riffs from their axes while Alexey dictates the rhythm with his hellish beats. The last track from the regular version of the album, entitled Orphan, will pierce your ears and minds with its classic Doom Metal sonority infused with Death Metal nuances, and you better be ready because the quartet won’t stop hitting you hard with their vicious music, with the song’s ending being an interesting mix of the Death Metal by Unleashed with the obscure music by Paradise Lost. And lastly, Mettadone offer us more of their dark and visceral music in the bonus track He’ll Not Be Alive, where Evgeniy keeps gnarling demonically while his bandmates fire insanity and violence from their instruments, with the strident sound of guitars being simply fantastic and extremely enjoyable.

After listening to Rotten Flattery, I’m more than sure this new version of Mettadone is here to stay, providing fans of obscure doom and death everything they can ask for in underground extreme music. Hence, don’t forget to give Mettadone a shout on Facebook and on VKontakte, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their visceral music, and obviously to purchase a copy of Rotten Flattery from the Archaic Sound’s BandCamp page or from Discogs. After all is said and done, although Kharkiv might be considered the Black Metal capital of Ukraine, let’s say that the city also has its share of first-class Death and Doom Metal to offer us fans, thanks to the great job done by Mettadone in their brand new opus and hopefully in many more to come in their promising career.

Best moments of the album: Obscurity of Hypocrisy, Pray for Help and Act of Revenge.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Archaic Sound

Track listing
1. Mind’s Prisoner 7:10
2. Obscurity of Hypocrisy 4:26
3. Untrue Entity 6:16
4. Pray for Help 5:31
5. On the Verge 6:41
6. In a Funeral Home 7:06
7. Act of Revenge 5:26
8. Orphan 7:34

Bonus track
9. He’ll Not Be Alive 3:49

Band members
Evgeniy Shamarin – lead vocals, guitars
Sergey Baskakov – guitars
Alexander Chernyakhovsky – bass
Alexey Silenko – drums

Album Review – NONE / Damp Chill of Life (2019)

Accept hopelessness and succumb to the brand new opus by this unknown entity from the Pacific Northwest, picking apart your psyche and destroying your seasonal optimism with their oppressively bleak atmosphere.

Since their introduction in the spring of 2017, the enigmatic and anonymous Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal unity NONE, from Portland, Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, has crafted disturbing and emotionally devastating music that have garnered the attention of many listeners of the genre. After having released their self-titled debut opus on April 11, 2017, a thick shroud of piercing guitar interwoven with haunting synth and tortured vocals marching in despair towards an empty void, followed by Life Has Gone On Long Enough exactly one year later, on April 11, 2018, developing its tortured personality further, NONE returned this spring like clockwork, once again on April 11, with their brand new effort entitled Damp Chill of Life, weaving visionary soundscapes with first-class Depressive Black Metal, picking apart your psyche and destroying your seasonal optimism with their oppressively bleak atmosphere.

As atmospheric and cold as possible, the intro Fade embraces our souls in darkness and sets the tone for the chilling and piercing sounds from the 10-minute aria The Damp Chill of Life, with its Doom Metal beats, melodic riffs and an ethereal background generating the perfect ambience for NONE’s desperate, raspy gnarls. In other words, this is a lesson in Depressive Black Metal, alternating between serene passages and aggressive and dense riffs and vociferations, and flowing majestically until its melancholic ending. Cease also begins as mournful as a lonely morning in the woods, with the music exploding into the most Stygian form of Atmospheric Black Metal you can think of after four minutes of pure serenity, all enfolded by beautiful piano notes and anguished vocals, once again showcasing a touching finale and building an instant connection with You Did a Good Thing, where the uncanny duo delivers more of their delicate but at the same time crushing music. Furthermore, eerie voices exhale anger, despair and the feeling of loss, matching flawlessly with the music to give the listener a true and deep melancholic taste.

It’s Painless To Let Go brings forward another visceral hybrid of Depressive and Atmospheric Black Metal, this time infused with Doom Metal and Blackened Doom nuances, with the duo delivering somber guitar lines, creepy vocals and endless obscurity for our total delectation; whereas I Yearn to Feel is a semi-acoustic composition by NONE that will penetrate deep inside your mind and take you on a journey through vast, gelid lands, always led by crystalline piano notes and showcasing an enfolding aura. And the music remains bold and inspiring, reverberating into A Chance I’d Never Have, beginning with acoustic guitar lines and growing in intensity and fear until an avalanche of dark and crisp sounds invades our ears. In my humble opinion, this is perhaps NONE’s record with the most introspective vocal lines, and this song is the perfect depiction of that, with its second half offering the listener sheer melancholy and rage in the form of top-of-the-line contemporary Depressive Black Metal.

I’ve already had the utmost pleasure of reviewing all albums released by NONE since the inception of such idiosyncratic and mysterious entity, and I must tell you NONE definitely know how to transform all the solitude, wilderness and bitterly cold winds of the Pacific Northwest into the best Depressive and Atmospheric Black Metal one can ever imagine, showing how connected they are with their homeland. Hence, you should take a good listen at Damp Chill of Life in full on YouTube (especially on your loneliest days), and grab your copy of such bitterly cold album of extreme music from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore (by the way, you can find all special bundles of the album and all of NONE’s previous releases by clicking HERE), as well as from Apple Music, Amazon, CD Baby or Discogs. Simply succumb to the music by NONE, accept hopelessness, and finally realize you are no one, nowhere, and nothing.

Best moments of the album: The Damp Chill of Life and It’s Painless To Let Go.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Fade 1:58
2. The Damp Chill of Life 10:30
3. Cease 8:50
4. You Did a Good Thing 5:08
5. It’s Painless To Let Go 5:56
6. I Yearn to Feel 3:45
7. A Chance I’d Never Have 7:57

Band members
Anonymous – vocals
Anonymous – all instruments

Album Review – Illimitable Dolor / Leaden Light (2019)

Drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, the new album by this Australian-based unity is an ambitious ode to all things doom.

New South Wales, Australia-based Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal masters Illimitable Dolor return from the darkest corners of the earth after the release of their highly acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2017 with a brand new opus, entitled Leaden Light, carrying on where they last left, drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, sounding purer, more refined and clearer in expression than before, and lingering for long in your thoughts. With three artworks made by Indonesian artist Varises Otak for the CD, LP and box set editions exclusively (with layout and design by Australian graphic designer Pat Di Palo), this is an ambitious release from the band that features some of the best music in the style without overdoing any aspect of it.

Formed in 2014 in the city of Sydney, the band comprised of Stuart Prickett (The Slow Death, Horrisonous) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Yonn McLaughlin (The Slow Death, Nazxul) on drums and vocals, Dan Garcia (The Slow Death) and Mat V. Newton (Lycanthia) on the guitars, Gavin Collison on bass and Guy Moore (Elysium) on keyboards offers in Leaden Light a raw and obscure fusion of Atmospheric Doom and Death Metal with Funeral Doom, influenced by renowned acts such as Skepticism, My Dying Bride and Officium Triste, beign therefore recommended for admirers of the music by Mournful Congregation, Evoken, The Slow Death and Chalice of Suffering, among others. Containing five extremely detailed, mournful and lengthy songs in the span of over 51 minutes, Leaden Light is not an easy listen for the lighthearted, consuming your soul and inviting you to join the band in darkness for all eternity.

A thunderstorm warns the listener darkness is upon us, before Yonn and his sluggish beats together with Guy’s phantasmagorical keys invade our senses in Armed He Brings The Dawn, showcasing a dense and heavy atmosphere from start to finish while Stuart vociferates the song’s Stygian words deeply through his low-tuned, devilish gnarls. In addition, the music flows like a river of darkness, alternating between purely somber passages and more piercing sounds, embracing the listener majestically. Soil She Bears is just as damned, lugubrious and grim as its predecessor, with deep and visceral roars permeating the air while the keys by Guy keep the ambience truly menacing. Not only that, Gavin and Yonn bring heaviness to the musicality with their respective punches and beats, dragging you to the bitterly cold crypts of the underworld.

Horses Pale And Four continues form where the previous song ended, building momentum and aiming at reaching a climatic stage where all instruments are darkly connected, with Stuart’s growls and the band’s guitar triumvirate’s riffs complementing each other flawlessly. Put differently, this is a bold and enfolding display of Atmospheric Doom Metal spiced up by Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Doom nuances tailored for lovers of the genre. Then the serene, melancholic piano notes by Guy kick off the utterly doomed and depressive Leaden Light Her Coils, where the guitars by Stuart, Dan and Mat feel like a delicate but extremely sharp knife cutting our skin deep. Furthermore, its rhythm is beyond mesmerizing, and you’ll certainly be stunned by how grandiose their music can be, with Guy, Gavin and Yonn giving a lecture in Doom Metal with their slow, steady and reverberating tones. And last but not least, the sextet morphs into their most Atmospheric Black Metal mode possible in 2.12.14 (which is probably the date when the band was created), feeling very touching, ethereal and melancholic, with Stuart, Dan and Mat taking the lead with their gentle guitar lines, followed by Yonn’s precise beats and all other grim instruments and sounds until the song’s dense ending.

As already mentioned, Leaden Light, available in full on Spotify, might not be an easy listen at first for the average rock fan, but it’s definitely worth a shot and a fantastic introduction to the world of modern-day Atmospheric Death and Doom Metal. Hence, you can show your true support to such idiosyncratic entity hailing from Australia by following them on Facebook, and specially by grabbing your copy of Leaden Light from several locations like their own BandCamp page or the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in the US or in Europe (where by the way you can still purchase the beyond special gold CD or LP box sets), as well as from iTunes or Amazon. In other words, succumb to the most lugubrious side of music by joining Illimitable Dolor in pitch black darkness, and may your life be doomed forever and ever to the sound of their classy and extremely somber music.

Best moments of the album: Horses Pale And Four and Leaden Light Her Coils.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Armed He Brings The Dawn 14:50
2. Soil She Bears 7:18
3. Horses Pale And Four 11:27
4. Leaden Light Her Coils 13:48
5. 2.12.14 4:27

Band members
Stuart Prickett – guitars, vocals, keyboards
Dan Garcia – guitars
Mat V. Newton – guitars
Gavin Collison – bass
Guy Moore – keyboards
Yonn McLaughlin – drums

Album Review – Zohamah / Spread My Ashes (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Redefining Darkness Records

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

Band members
H.M. – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Inferitvm / The Grimoires (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

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

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

Album Review – Lucifera / La Caceria De Brujas (2019)

Let the witch hunt begin to the sound of the infernal fusion of Black and Thrash Metal by this dynamic duo hailing from Colombia.

Spawned in the year of 2008 in the ardent fires of Pasto, the capital of the department of Nariño, in southern Colombia as an hellish duo comprised of guitarist and composer David HellRazor and vocalist and bassist Alejandra Blasfemia, Black/Thrash Metal outfit Lucifera started off playing a much more conventional form of Thrash Metal,  evolving into an obscure and demonic beast over the years while still maintaining the amazing dynamism between the band’s founding members. Now in 2019 it’s time for Lucifera to spread darkness and blasphemy with their highly anticipated fourth full-length and defining opus entitled La Caceria De Brujas, or “the witch hunt” in English, taking the band’s primeval elements to a whole new level of malignancy, hatred and professionalism.

Featuring a menacing design by HR Design, from the band’s hometown Pasto, La Caceria De Brujas offers the listener a 39-minute tour de force of the blackest Thrash Metal and thrashiest Black Metal split into eight demonic hymns that will please all of fans of true, ancient metal music from the very depths of the underworld. In addition, one very interesting and important detail about La Caceria De Brujas is the fact that the lyrics for each song were pretty much written by a different musician. For instance, the lyrics for “Arde En Llamas” were written by Sonia Sepulchral (Bolivia), “Sigillum Diaboli” by Alicia Leguizamon (Colombia), “Sortilegio” by Clara Kultarr (Peru), “Ceremonia Secular” by the band’s own she-demon Alejandra Blasfemia (Colombia), “Pacto Pagano” by Melissa Kalissa (Colombia), “Conjuro” by Silvia Gers (Argentina), and “Brujeria” by Adriana Mavir (Mexico). However, that doesn’t mean the songs feel or sound disconnected; quite the contrary, the transition from song to song couldn’t have sound more powerful and thrilling, adding an extra touch of obscurity to the entire album thanks to this amazing “coven” of lyricists.

Evil distortions and vociferations kick off the blasphemous, belligerent and pulverizing opening track Arde En Llamas, with Alejandra sounding like the beast incarnate on vocals, while David blasts truly demonic sounds from his sonic weapons. Furthermore, you can sense influences from the early days of Slayer and classic Black Metal in their music, which obviously translates into absolute awesomeness. And Alejandra keeps growling manically (and always in Spanish, which makes her message even more obscure and vibrant) and punching us in the head with her rumbling bass in Sigillum Diaboli, a frantic hymn perfect for slamming into the circle pit to the vicious riffs by David, followed by Sortilegio, even more satanic than its predecessors by blending the speed and rawness of Thrash Metal with the darkness of Black Metal, with David sounding bestial not only with his riffs but also with his crushing beats. Then a disturbing intro taken from the original motion picture soundtrack “The Witch – Witch’s Coven” (written and performed by Mark Korven in 2015) ignites the demonic Ceremonia Secular, with the guitars by David bringing thunder to the overall musicality, resulting in a fantastic headbanging, mid-tempo display of extreme music that flows infernally until its grand finale.

Putting the pedal to the metal, the Colombian duo gets back to a more dissonant, high-octane sonority in Pacto Pagano, showcasing guitars and bass in absolute sync which consequently generates a menacing ambience for our total delight, while Alejandra’s gnarls sound like the utmost depiction of madness and rage. Following a similar disruptive, devilish pattern as its predecessor, Conjuro is another superb exhibit of underground Thrash and Black Metal by Alejandra and David, who by the way is on total fire with his riffs and solos, making our heads tremble in a demented way, which is also the case in Brujeria, where David demolishes his drums providing Alejandra all she needs to unleash her inner demon on vocals, or in other words, her anguished roars match flawlessly with the song’s thunderous bass and riffs from start to finish. Lastly, ending such sensational album the duo offers us Evocación Del Caos, by far the most obscure of all songs, an instrumental extravaganza presenting hints of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom forming a damned sonority that goes on and on, mesmerizing our senses and darkening our minds until all fades into a cold void, giving place to a final and very unsettling combination of evil sounds and tones.

In summary, let the witch hunt begin to the sound of the beyond fulminating fusion of Black and Thrash Metal found in La Caceria De Brujas, courtesy of this talented and electrifying Colombian duo, and in order to show all your support to Lucifera go check what they’re up to on Facebook and grab your copy of such blasphemous and sulfurous album from the Dunkelheit Produktionen’s BandCamp page or webstore in CD format or as a limited black, red or sun-amber edition LP (including an A2 format poster and a metalpin). Because if you’re going to be part of a coven, you better choose one where you can also enjoy first-class metal music, like what Lucifera more than succeeds in providing to our ears always avid for ass-kicking underground Extreme Metal.

Best moments of the album: Arde En Llamas, Sigillum Diaboli, Pacto Pagano and Conjuro.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Dunkelheit Produktionen

Track listing
1. Arde En Llamas 4:07
2. Sigillum Diaboli 4:25
3. Sortilegio 3:50
4. Ceremonia Secular 6:23
5. Pacto Pagano 3:49
6. Conjuro 4:10
7. Brujeria 5:04
8. Evocación Del Caos 6:51

Band members
Alejandra Blasfemia – vocals, bass
David HellRazor – guitars, all instruments

Album Review – Barshasketh / Barshasketh (2019)

Dive deep into the pit of corruption crafted by an evil entity of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal to the sound of their highly anticipated fourth full-length opus.

Forged in the scorching fires of Wellington, New Zealand in 2007 as a solo project by KG (also known as Krigeist) with the intention of creating pure Black Metal, but currently located in Edinburgh, Scotland, the obscure and devilish entity known as Barshasketh is unleashing upon humanity their highly anticipated fourth album, simply self-titled Barshasketh, conceptually centered on Be’er Shachat, from which the band’s name derives. This term roughly translates as “pit of corruption”, a multifaceted esoteric idea concerning the self existing in a cyclical process that goes through phases of destruction, purification, and ultimate adversarial rebirth. Indeed, that conceptual arc poignantly and perfectly illustrates Barshasketh’s evolution over the years, and finds its apotheosis within the winding corridors of Barshasketh.

During its uniquely vast-yet-compact 54-minute run-time, the quartet comprised of KG on vocals, guitars and synths, GM on the guitars, BB on bass and MK on drums, vocals and synths is truly firing on all cylinders, exploring new territory with ambitious compositions and showcasing a certain percussive savagery previously unheard on previous recordings, all within the remit of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal. Featuring a menacing cover art and additional illustrations by Artem Grigoryev (Black Typography), Barshasketh’s brand new opus is the purest distillation of the band’s essence to date, pointing to a dark and vile future for mankind as a black sun rises at the dawn of 2019.

A somber and menacing atmosphere enfolds the band in the opening track Vacillation, a highly recommended song for admirers of the most obscure fusion of classic Black Metal with Atmospheric and Melodic Black Metal where KG gnarls demonically from the very first note while MK showcases all his skills as the excellent extreme drummer he is, followed by the also grim Resolve, continuing from where the previous tune ended (which obviously means an ode to darkness). Furthermore, KG and GM are in total sync with their scorching riffs, while BB and MK generate a dense background atmosphere with their devilish instruments. Then drinking from the fountain of old school Norwegian Black Metal we have Consciousness I, another visceral creation by the band spearheaded by MK and his unstoppable blast beats, with KG roaring and growling like a true creature form the netherworld, not to mention how the background keys also boost the song’s taste and impact considerably, whereas Consciousness II brings to our avid ears over eight minutes of damned sounds and tones, starting in a cryptic manner before exploding into classic Black Metal for our total delight. The stringed trio KG, GM and BB simply slash our senses with their axes, with the music also presenting some disturbing Blackened Doom-inspired passages.

Ruin I sounds and feels brutal and piercing form the very first second, a lecture in Black Metal not for the lighthearted with all band member extracting pure evil from their instruments, in special MK and his demolishing drums, while the second act entitled Ruin II sounds a lot more melodic and obscure, crushing our senses in over seven minutes of putrid Black Metal spearheaded by KG’s infernal growls and MK’s visceral beats, all enfolded by the hellish riffs by KG and GM and flowing majestically until its grand finale. The second to last blast of extreme music by Barshasketh, named Rebirth, is just as demonic as its predecessors, with all instruments exhaling demonic notes, especially KG and GM who penetrate deep inside our damned souls with their guitar lines, setting the tone for the closing song Recrudescense, a tribute to all things evil where the smell of death and despair reeks in the air for over nine minutes, with KG leading his horde of darkness with his visceral growls. Moreover, it’s truly impressive how the music gets more intense and vile as time goes by, with all violence and hatred giving place to a phantasmagorical ending that will haunt our souls forever and ever.

Actually, you don’t need all the detailed review and explanation above to purchase your copy of Barshasketh from the W.T.C.Productions BandCamp. All you need to know is that it’s vile, macabre and thunderous, just the way we all love in true Black Metal. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, therefore showing your true support to underground extreme music, and finally succumb to the darkest side of Black Metal to the sound of their infernal but at the same time very melodic and dense new album, diving deep into their “pit of corruption”. However, I must warn you that once you join Barshasketh down there, there’s no turning back (as if you would want to return from such distinct place, I might say).

Best moments of the album: Vacillation, Consciousness I and Recrudescense.

Worst moments of the album: Rebirth.

Released in 2019 W.T.C.Productions

Track listing
1. Vacillation 5:29
2. Resolve 5:10
3. Consciousness I 6:24
4. Consciousness II 7:53
5. Ruin I 4:47
6. Ruin II 7:26
7. Rebirth 6:30
8. Recrudescense 9:31

Band members
KG – vocals, guitars, synths
GM – guitars
BB – bass
MK – drums, vocals, synths

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018

“Chasing a dream as I go higher
Playing it mean, my heart’s on fire
Living my life, ain’t no pretender
Ready to fight with no surrender.” – No Surrender, by Judas Priest

Another year goes by and, as usual, we lost a lot of good people, including family and friends. In heavy music, 2018 was the year several amazing musicians passed away, such as Dave Holland (former drummer of Judas Priest), Ralph Santolla (former guitarist of Iced Earth, Deicide, Death and Obituary), Vinnie Paul (the talented drummer of Hellyeah, Pantera and Damageplan), Jill Janus (the stunning vocalist of Huntress), and “Fast” Eddie Clarke, one of the meanest guitarists in history and the last of Motörhead’s “Three Amigos”, signaling the definitive end of Motörhead’s classic lineup. Not only that, we also saw the one and only Glenn Tipton, the iconic lead guitarist for Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest and one of the most influential guitar players in the history of metal, opening up about his ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and, as a consequence, having to pull out of the 2018 tour due to his health issues. However, as the Metal Gods themselves sing in their new ass-kicking song No Surrender, we can’t surrender and should keep on fighting with our heads high, always listening to our good old Heavy Metal to inspire us to face our daily struggles.

Enough said already, how about we show the world that we metalheads are still here, always ready for a fight, and that metal music is alive and kicking with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums? From classic bands like Judas Priest, Behemoth and Immortal, to underground bands from all four corners of the earth like Ukraine’s 1914, Australia’s Rise of Avernus and Canada’s Altars of Grief, we can say that 2018 was a damn good year for our beloved Heavy Metal, pointing to a promising future for all its genres and subgenres and proving once again that metal unites us all it doesn’t matter where we live, our culture, language, race or religion. So, get ready to raise your horns and bang your heads nonstop to our selection of best metal albums of the year, and always remember… NO SURRENDER!

1. Judas Priest – Firepower (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Firepower

2. Blaze Bayley – The Redemption of William Black (REVIEW)
What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Enjoy the dramatic conclusion to Blaze’s stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.
Best song of the album: The Dark Side of Black

3. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (REVIEW)
Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before.
Best song of the album: Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica

4. Dragonlord – Dominion (REVIEW)
Exploring themes of darkness, here comes Eric Peterson’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.
Best song of the album: Northlanders

5. Primal Fear – Apocalypse (REVIEW)
The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity and melody.
Best song of the album: The Ritual

6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (REVIEW)
The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Mighty Ravendark

7. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind (REVIEW)
It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these Ukrainian Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen.
Best song of the album: Passchenhell

8. Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau (REVIEW)
Here come Australia’s own Rise of Avernus with their most symphonic, heaviest and darkest opus thus far.
Best song of the album: Eigenlicht

9. Altars of Grief – Iris (REVIEW)
A superb album of Canadian Blackened Doom narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.
Best song of the album: Broken Hymns

10. Marduk – Viktoria (REVIEW)
A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound.
Best song of the album: Viktoria

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory (REVIEW)
12. Motorjesus – Race to Resurrection (REVIEW)
13. Borgne – [∞] (REVIEW)
14. SynlakrosS – Malice Murder (REVIEW)
15. Xenoblight – Procreation (REVIEW)
16. Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (REVIEW)
17. Tamerlan Empire – Age of Ascendancy (REVIEW)
18. Coiled Around Thy Spine – Shades (REVIEW)
19. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura (REVIEW)
20. NovaReign – Legends (REVIEW)

In addition, how about another round of awesome albums released this year, this time presenting to you our Top 10 EP’s of 2018? Those shorter-than-a-regular-album but still heavier-than-hell releases are like going to a fancy restaurant, where you might not get a humongous amount of food, but what’s served on your plate is more than enough to please your palate (or your ears, in this case). And, of course, you leave the place eager for more of that tasty and exquisite metal music.

1. Violent Life Violent Death – Come, Heavy Breath (REVIEW)
2. Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad (REVIEW)
3. Godless – Swarm (REVIEW)
4. The Black Swamp – Witches (REVIEW)
5. Progenie Terrestre Pura – starCross (REVIEW)
6. Lebowskii – Liquidators (REVIEW)
7. Geisterwald – Geisterwald (REVIEW)
8. Soul Dissolution – Nowhere (REVIEW)
9. Dark Archive – Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon (REVIEW)
10. Forte Ruin – Rebuilding the Machinery (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2018? Once again don’t forget to check Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Editorial Staff), tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a sensational fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of the underground and independent metal scene!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2019!

And last but not least, if you want to support Glenn Tipton and everyone else on their personal battles against Parkinson’s, you can purchase the official Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation Charity T-shirt by clicking HERE or make a direct donation following the instructions found HERE. You can always help your family, friends and fellow metalheads, as simple as that, and who knows, maybe we can make this world a better place to live.

Album Review – Depths Above / Ex Nihilo (2018)

Crafting Black and Doom Metal “out of nothing”, this Brno-based band is here to introduce us all to their gloomy vision of underground metal with their debut album.

Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing”, often appearing in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning “creation out of nothing”, chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but also occurring in other fields. It’s with that concept in mind that Depths Above, a Czech Black/Doom Metal band formed in 2015 in the city of Brno by current and former members of the bands Bhagavat (Italy), Desert Witch (Slovakia) and Inferno (Czech Republic), are releasing their debut installment, the 32-minute 4-track album Ex Nihilo, introducing us all to their gloomy vision of underground metal in which genres like Black, Death and Doom Metal mix in various dosages and moods. The wicked album artwork, created by the band’s own vocalist and guitarist Vama Marga, is a very good indication of what to expect from Vama together with guitarist Dreamancer, bassist Ivan Teleranko Dvorsky and drummer Sarapis, but it’s when you hit play that you’ll actually be able to feel all the madness and fury flowing from their distinguished music.

Ominous and cavernous sounds ignite the Black and Doom Metal aria Here and Everywhere, morphing into a gargantuan feast of extreme sounds led by Sarapis’ frantic drums and Vama’s and Dreamancer’s choleric riffs, before Vama begins growling like a demonic entity. And the music remains menacing and austere until its Stygian finale, being flawlessly followed by the flammable The Descent, where Ivan and Sarapis make the ground rumble with their thunderous instruments, being perfect for breaking your neck headbanging. Furthermore, the music gets more atmospheric and eccentric as time goes by, also showcasing a beautiful and impactful work done by the band’s devilish guitar duo.

Almost tribal, but always hypnotizing and obscure, A Prayer presents Vama, Dreamancer and Ivan complementing Sarapis’ nocturnal beats flawlessly with their piercing and dense strings in an instrumental extravaganza of Blackened Doom and classic Doom Metal, infused with elements from Progressive Metal the likes of Tool and Mastodon; whereas the title-track Ex Nihilo closes the album as demented and vibrant as the other songs in the form of a massive wall of darkened sounds spearheaded by Vama and his enraged roars. Moreover, it’s by far the most Black Metal of all songs, spiced up by the utter melancholy and anguish of Doom Metal, without a single space being left empty, invading your ears mercilessly and therefore closing the album on a high, cryptic and malevolent note.

You can get in touch with the talented Vama and his henchmen through their Facebook page, and grab your copy of Ex Nihilo exclusively from their BandCamp page. As aforementioned, Ex nihilo means “creation out of nothing”, and Depths Above explored that concept to perfection when creating the music found in their new album, showing the world the band is here to stay, proudly carrying the flag of Black and Doom Metal as high as the sun, but of course with their hearts and minds being as blackened as extreme music demands.

Best moments of the album: The Descent and Ex Nihilo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Here and Everywhere 7:30
2. The Descent 7:04
3. A Prayer (Instrumental) 7:31
4. Ex Nihilo 9:04

Band members
Vama Marga – vocals, guitars
Dreamancer – guitars
Ivan Teleranko Dvorsky – bass
Sarapis – drums