Concert Review – Striker & Unleash The Archers (The Velvet Underground, Toronto, ON, 10/01/2018)

Do you want to know how to easily brave a cold and rainy Monday in Toronto? Striker and Unleash The Archers had the perfect recipe for that last night when they took our beloved city by storm.

OPENING ACT: Lutharö

Not only last night in Toronto was cold and rainy, but it was also a Monday, the day of the week all of us usually feel like doing absolutely nothing. However, when that same Monday offers us a night of pure Canadian Metal with the amazing bands Lutharö, Striker and Unleash The Archers at the small and very cozy The Velvet Underground, why not facing that shitty weather (I know it could have been a lot worse like what they’re having in Calgary now, but it’s still shitty) to meet some friends, enjoy a few beers and bang our fuckin’ heads to the best metal music you’ll find in the entire country? That, my friends, is the recipe for a packed (and hot) concert on what was supposed to be another boring Monday night, as simple as that.

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

The first band of the night was Hamilton-based female-fronted squad LUTHARÖ, playing an extremely fun, crisp and pleasant fusion of 80’s Heavy Metal with modern-day Melodic Death Metal the likes of The Agonist and Arch Enemy. Spearheaded by the talented she-wolf Krista Shipperbottom, whose vocal style, hair and looks remind me of The Agonist’s stunning frontwoman Vicky Psarakis, the band delivered a solid performance for the fans at the venue who probably had zero knowledge of the band before the concert. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of all songs they played last night, but I do remember the names of my two favorite ones, I of the Axe and their newborn tune Unleash the Beast, and in both cases all band members kicked some serious ass. Having said that, don’t waste your time and go check their music out on YouTube and on BandCamp, and keep an eye on their Facebook page for news and tour dates, because you never know when Krista and her henchmen will mercilessly attack your hometown.

Band members
Krista Shipperbottom – lead vocals
Victor Bucur – lead guitars, backing vocals
John Raposo – guitar
Ruslan Lypovsky – bass
Cory Hofing – drums 

STRIKER

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

After a short break, where fans either went to the washroom, got another beer or checked out the merch from the bands, it was time for my favorite Canadian band of the past decade to show everyone at the venue that Canada is indeed a land of first-class Heavy Metal. When award-winning Edmonto-based act STRIKER hit the stage, we all knew it was going to be a heavy, melodic and utterly entertaining performance, kicking things off with the opening track from their 2016 album Stand in the Fire, the electrifying Phoenix Lights, followed by two of my favorite tracks from their latest albums, Born to Lose, from their 2017 self-titled masterpiece Striker, and Heart of Lies, from their brand new opus Play To Win (to be officially released later this month). Needless to say, after such action-packed start, the game was already won by Striker.

And the quintet comprised of frontman Dan Cleary (what a voice, ladies and gentlemen!), guitarists Tim Brown and Chris Segger, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown kept blasting their fusion of old school Heavy Metal and Hard rock with contemporary Power Metal without giving a single second for us to breathe, impressing us all with their level of energy, professionalism and passion for what they do, with incendiary songs like Former Glory and Pass Me By (both from their 2017 self-titled album), and especially the high-octane Full Speed or No Speed (from their 2010 album Eyes in the Night) and the metal hymn Fight for Your Life (from their 2012 album Armed to the Teeth), representing to perfection what the music by Striker is all about. At a given moment of the show, when Dan was introducing us to the next song to be played (I don’t remember which one he was talking about, but it was of course amazing), he asked the crowd if there were any fans in the house of the music by metal giants like Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Anvil, complementing his joke by saying they were not going to play any of that, but “some old school Striker shit”. Well, who said we were expecting them to play any cover songs? When the band in question is a fantastic one like Striker, we want to listen to their own songs, and I can’t wait to do that again when they return to Toronto in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
Phoenix Lights
Born to Lose
Heart of Lies
Lethal Force
Crossroads
Former Glory
Too Late
Out for Blood
Pass Me By
Locked In
Full Speed or No Speed
The White Knight
Fight for Your Life

Band members
Dan Cleary – lead vocals
Tim Brown – lead and rhythm guitar
Chris Segger – lead and rhythm guitar
William Wallace – bass
Adam Brown – drums

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

I was so entertained and electrified by the concert by Striker that I completely lost track of time, not knowing exactly what time their concert ended and what time the main attraction of the night, the unstoppable Vancouver-based metal warriors known as UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, hit the stage at The Velvet Underground. And keep in mind it was a Monday night, which means most people would be checking their watches all the time counting every minute to go home. Just like Striker delivered a flawless performance, the band led by the warrior princess Brittney Slayes was absolutely on fire on stage from start to finish, inspiring the fans to ignite some mosh pits (all pretty good except for a silly moron with a moustache that was either too drunk, too high or way too stupid to respect everyone else, to the point Brittney had to call his attention to stop acting like a jerk), to do some crowd surfing, to raise our fists in the air and to sing along every single song with them.

Still promoting their 2017 opus Apex, the quintet formed by the skillful, humble and sympathetic Brittney Slayes on vocals (sending hearts with her hands to the fans during the entire show), Grant Truesdell on the guitar, Andrew Kingsley on the  guitar and harsh growls, newcomer Nick Miller on bass and Scott Buchanan on drums returned to the city after three long years, proving how hard it is to travel and tour inside Canada, but that excruciating wait was definitely worth it. Firing the most awesome songs from Apex such as Awakening, The Matriarch and Cleanse the Bloodlines, mixed with battle hymns from their previous albums like Time Stands Still, Tonight We Ride and my favorite of all, Test Your Metal, from their 2015 opus Time Stands Still, Unleash The Archers fully captivated our senses during their whole concert, also showing their awe for the amount of fans that gathered at the venue on a rainy Monday night (and yes, I have to repeat that again) to celebrate metal with them (and to sing A-Ha’s Take On Me which was coming out of the speakers after all was said and done).

Today is Tuesday, most of us might have been really tired the entire day and probably bored at work (as Brittney herself said, fuck work!), but happy to have witnessed a true feast of the best Heavy Metal made in Canada you can think of. As already mentioned, let’s hope none of the bands take too long to return to the city, and that they play at a bigger venue so that a lot more metal maniacs from Toronto and from other parts of the province are able to enjoy the lesson in heavy music given by such distinct bands, even if they play on a snowy Monday night in the middle of the winter, with chilling temperatures and bitterly cold winds. Do you think you have what it takes to ride with Striker and Unleash The Archers under such adverse conditions? If you love metal music as much as I do, I’m sure you’ll be there with us.

Setlist
Intro
Awakening
The Matriarch
Cleanse the Bloodlines
Test Your Metal
Dreamcrusher
Time Stands Still
General of the Dark Army
Tonight We Ride

Encore:
Apex

Band members
Brittney Slayes – vocals
Grant Truesdell – guitar
Andrew Kingsley –  guitar, harsh growls
Nick Miller – bass
Scott Buchanan – drums

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Metal Chick of the Month – Brittney Slayes

There’s no hiding from her, she sees everything!

In order to properly celebrate nothing more, nothing less than FIVE years of The Headbanging Moose, there’s nothing better than paying a humble tribute to a true Warrior of the North as our metal chick of this month of October, a woman that perfectly represents all the passion, strength and perseverance from the people that make our beloved Canada one of the best places to live in the world. Born in 1985 in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities not only in the province of British Columbia but in the entire country, here comes the dauntless vocalist Brittney Slayes, whose real name is Brittney Hayes, frontwoman and founding member of Canadian Heavy Metal band Unleash The Archers, always ready to show you what metal music from the Great White North is all about.

The talented Brittney, who discovered her voice when she was five years old and began singing in her local community choir at the age of eight, traveled with several choirs during her school years, taking part in many musical theater productions and working with some of the best vocal coaches in Western Canada. In university, she attended the UVic School Of Music, but choosing instead to attain her undergraduate degree in History. Furthermore, during her time at the University of Victoria, she traveled the world as a member of the Juno Award-winning ensemble the Uvic Chamber Singers. As a UVic alumna and the lead singer of Victoria-born Unleash the Archers, Brittney gave a keynote talk on July 10, 2018 for UVic’s upcoming conference Boundaries and Ties: The Place of Metal Music in Communities, with her talk, entitled “View from the ‘Apex’: A Metal Musician’s Views on Metal and Community”, drawing on her firsthand experience with local, national, and international metal communities. And do you want to know what our metal warrior thinks about us, metalheads? “People are so open-minded. They’re not going to cast judgement and never give you a chance. From what I’ve seen, metalheads are very kind and caring and open-hearted. I just think that the metal community is uplifting, really,” said our wise vocalist.

Apart from her time singing with different choirs, our Canadian warrior had never been involved in any other bands or music projects before founding Unleash The Archers back in 2007 with her boyfriend and drummer Scott Buchanan, and according to Brittney herself starting the band was the best thing she could have ever done (and we all agree with that, of course), allowing her to use her background in classical music and her four octave range to provide a more dynamic approach to the band’s incendiary fusion of traditional Heavy Metal with Power and Melodic Metal. In late 2008, the band recorded a self-titled four-song demo, which featured two songs (Black Goat of the Woods and Destroyer) they would end up re-recording for their first studio album. In one of her interviews, Brittney explained a little more about the origins of the band, saying it all began when Scott, former guitarist Brayden Dyczkowski (who left the band in 2014) and herself were in university, when Scott and Brayden were playing in a Death Metal band together, and as the drummer’s girlfriend Brittney simply loved to go to their shows and rock out. When the band broke up, she called Brayden and asked him if he wanted to start a band with herself as the vocalist and Scott on drums, and from that day on Unleash The Archers became a reality, leading the band to grow and become a reference in Canadian metal music, winning the Best Metal Band and Best Vocalist awards during the 2015 Vancouver Whammy Awards, as well as being voted number 6 in Exclaim Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards for Best Metal Albums of 2009.

Apart from the aforementioned self-titled debut demo, Unleash The Archers have already released four full-length albums and one EP, those being their 2009 debut album Behold the Devastation (when she was still known as as B. Hayes), the 2011 album Demons of the AstroWaste, the 2012 EP Defy the Skies, the 2015 album Time Stands Still, and last year’s highly acclaimed opus Apex. Currently comprised of our Canadian Valkyrie of metal Brittney on vocals, Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley on the guitars and harsh growls, and Scott Buchanan on drums, as well as Nick Miller taking care of the bass duties during their live performances, Unleash The Archers have a great selection of official videos, lyric videos and unofficial live footage for us to enjoy for hours on YouTube. For instance, you can join Unleash The Archers in their quest for metal with the songs Tonight We Ride, Ten Thousand Against One, Apex, General Of The Dark Army, Time Stands Still, Cleanse The Bloodlines, Awakening, The Matriarch and Dawn Of Ages. And if live concerts and performances are your cup of tea, you can enjoy Brittney and the guys kicking ass with the songs Dreamcrusher and Time Stands Still live in Montreal in 2015; General Of The Dark Army live at the Pont Rouge in Monthey, Switzerland  in 2016; an acoustic version of The Outlander recorded live at CHSR in New Brunswick with Matt Nightingale during the 2011 “Tour Through The AstroWaste”; and their full set during their 2015 appearance at ProgPower USA in 2015. When asked about her favorite Unleash The Archers songs, those she believes a newcomer to their metal world should definitely take a listen at, Brittney said she has always loved Battle In The Shadow (Of The Mountain), from their second album Demons of the AstroWaste, saying she has a strong emotional connection to that song, also including on the list Four In Hand, from their debut album Behold the Devastation, as it’s about sin becoming personified as a cloaked figure riding around in a chariot pulled by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Interesting, isn’t it?

Brittney has also been featured in several other bands and projects as a guest musician, each one of them being very peculiar and showcasing all the talent and range of our metal warrior. For instance, she provided additional vocals to the song Leather Lord, featured on the 2013 EP Live at Mushroom: Vol. I, by Canadian Power/Heavy Metal band 3 Inches of Blood; guest vocals on the song Queen of the Galaxy, from the 2014 EP Queen of the Galaxy (and also featured on the 2018 album The Extraterrestrial Compendium), by American Power/Thrash Metal band Dire Peril (and you can also check a cool live version of it in 2016 at the Blue Lamp HERE); vocals on the song Lunar Sunrise, from the 2014 album The Age of Ether, by American Power/Progressive Metal band Disforia; vocals for the full 2018 album Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster, by American Power Metal band Helion Prime, like in the song Spectrum; vocals for the excellent song Burn It Down (With Fire), from the 2018 album Shadows from the Past, by American Heavy Metal band Lords of the Trident; and last but not least, she was also a guest on the song Siren’s Song, from the 2016 album Lawful Evil, by The Dread Crew of Oddwood (an acoustic pirate band from San Diego, California).

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Regarding her career and life on the road, Brittney said that living life through music is every musician’s dream, living and breathing music every second of every day while on tour, and she wants to keep playing with Unleash The Archers everywhere, every corner of the globe, every continent and every type of venue, from Japan to Scotland, from Brazil to Antarctica (if they can find metalheads there, of course). When asked about the main difference between festivals and regular shows, she said that in the end they’re not that different, only that there are a lot more bands hanging out backstage waiting for their turn and the atmosphere seems quite a bit more laid back. Having already played with Unleash The Archers all over the world, from North America to China and Japan, Brittney has been collecting a lot of good memories and moments from each and every concert, such as their performance at Hell & Heaven Fest in Mexico City in 2014, where they played a side stage but were able to see the concerts by some of their favorite bands like Angra and KISS. Furthermore, all that passion for heavy music and her family had a very positive impact on her performance on stage. For instance, her brother used to play in a punk band and her father worked as a musician for a long time in the 60’s and 70’s. She used to play with his music equipment when she was a little kid, and there are many pictures of Brittney rocking out with an old SM57 in her hand standing on a table or any other stage-like apparatus. Also, as aforementioned, she was always involved in musical theater, drama, choir or any other sort of performing art, making her feel very comfortable when facing the crowd, it doesn’t matter if at a small venue or at a big renowned festival.

As it happens with any up-and-coming artist in metal music, Brittney has been asked several times through the years about who her biggest idols and influences are in music and in life in general, and her answers couldn’t be more classic, more inspiring and, of course, more metal. She said in one of her interviews that as a vocalist she has always been highly influenced by the one and only Bruce Dickinson, the metal god Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon), and Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland), among many others, with bands such as Iron Maiden, As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, Helloween and Septicflesh playing an important role in the development of her taste for music and her singing style. Furthermore, Brittney mentioned that the unparalleled Countdown To Extinction, released by Megadeth in 1992, was the first metal record she’s ever heard in her life, and that was basically the moment that would define her musical preferences for the rest of her life, but she also complemented her thought by saying Best Of The Beast, Iron Maiden’s first “best of” album, released in 1996, was the album that inspired her to use her vocal talents as a singer in a metal band. In addition, when questioned which bands she would choose if she could create her own festival, Brittney simply listed Iron Maiden, Lost Horizon, Iced Earth, Sabaton and Dragonland, all beyond formidable acts, also saying that she would love to tour with Iced Earth, one of her favorite bands of all time, as their music speaks to her on a whole other level.

And last but not least, When Brittney was asked how it feels to be in a Power Metal band from a country like Canada where the Power Metal scene is not as developed as in other places like Scandinavia and Japan, she admitted it’s a bit tough for bands that play metal the likes of Unleash The Archers due to the music culture in Canada being a lot more inclined to Death Metal and other more extreme styles, with Canadian metalheads growing up with bands like Kataklysm and Voivod,  even saying a Power Metal band can feel very “lonely” in the country. However, she also mentioned that even in that not-so-inspiring scenario there are still lots of traditional Power Metal acts all over the country, proving that as long as Power Metal bands keep playing music from their hearts and stay united and strong, the genre has all it takes to grow in popularity among Canadian fans. And there’s no one better than the warrior princess Brittney to lead that metal army and “unleash the archers” upon all of us.

Brittney Slayes’ Official Facebook page
Brittney Slayes’ Official Instagram
Brittney Slayes’ Official Twitter
Unleash The Archers’ Official Facebook page
Unleash The Archers’ Official Instagram
Unleash The Archers’ Official Twitter

“There’s always going to be those faces in the crowd that you have known since the beginning, and that you know will always be there for you; they were fans, and they’ve become friends. I think that there’s very much this foundation of fans that keep you standing. That will never change. The only thing that happens is that it just grows.” – Brittney Slayes

Album Review – Paths / In Lands Thought Lost (2018)

An impending opus of Scandinavian-inspired Black Metal infused with the bitterly cold and somber sounds of the Pacific Northwest, generating a stunning and vicious atmosphere that will beautifully embrace your soul.

Formed in 2013 in the city of Victoria, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Michael Taylor, Atmospheric Black Metal project Paths has evolved from its psychedelic-laced Black Metal beginnings to embrace more of a grand in scope atmosphere, more properly upholding and defining the beauty of their surroundings through the dense music they create. Hence, that evolution in the music by Paths is beyond clear with their impending third full-length album, entitled In Lands Thought Lost, a powerful and dense fusion of Scandinavian-inspired Black Metal with the bitterly cold and somber sounds of the Pacific Northwest, generating a stunning and vicious atmosphere that will beautifully embrace your soul.

Featuring an austere artwork by Sólfjall Design, as well as Austin Lunn from Panopticon as a sessions drummer (who by the way volunteered to re-record drums for the album to replace Michael’s carefully constructed synthetic drums for a more organic result), In Lands Thought Lost can be considered the most stylistically developed full-length from this crushing musical entity known as Paths, uniting melody and atmosphere in a puissant Black Metal vibe that summons your spirit back to the 90’s in each of its five distinct but thoroughly connected songs, showcasing how focused Michael was when writing this amazing album of extreme music.

In the opening track, a multi-layered and visceral creation titled Nights Tomb, a short intro explodes into brutal and atmospheric extreme music, with Michael becoming a beast with his demonic gnarls and crushing riffage while Austin makes sure the music flows demonically with his blast beats, invading your mind like a giant dark wave of sounds. Then we have To Brave The Storm, another classic and vibrant Atmospheric Black Metal extravaganza sounding and feeling more melodic and anguished than its predecessor, with Michael being flawlessly supported by the unstoppable Austin and his rhythmic beats and fills, with the song’s visceral guitar lines emanating a mesmerizing and creepy vibe from start to finish. And the song’s abrupt finish sets the stage for the melancholic Creaking Boughs, also traveling through the realms of modern Atmospheric Black Metal, with the intensity of the beats growing together with the lancinating growls by Michael, who also fires some delicate guitar solos embraced by the song’s furious ambience. Furthermore, a gentle break provides the listener some time to breathe, before the music once again bursts into blackened sounds and tones.

The following tune, entitled The Everbright Land, kicks off in full force with Austin taking the lead with his demolishing beats, while Michael makes sure his growls and gnarls are in total sync with his obscure guitar lines and background phantasmagorical keys. Moreover, his bass lines also bring thunder to the musicality in the most Black Metal of all songs, with the music remaining disturbing, harmonious and electrifying in its entirety for our total delight. And finally, ethereal sounds ignite the longest and most intricate of all songs, South Ever South, blending the introspection of Doom Metal with the band’s characteristic Atmospheric Black Metal, with its bass lines presenting a mournful tone in contrast with the enfolding sound of the keyboards. Sometimes their most Black Metal side dictates the rhythm, sometimes it’s their doom-ish and atmospheric vein that takes the lead, until desolate and Stygian sounds put a climatic end to Paths’ obscure journey.

In summary, In Lands Thought Lost is not only a top-of-the-line album of Atmospheric Black Metal highly recommended for fans of the genre, but the precision and dedication the mastermind behind Paths, the aforementioned Michael Taylor, put in the development of the album is so compelling to the point all of us fans of extreme music should start beginning him to turn Paths into a full-bodied group or at least into a live band, allowing us to admire his music in the most organic way possible, which is on stage. I have no idea if that’s ever going to happen, but we can all go “bother” Michael on the project’s official Facebook page, and of course inspire him to write more music by purchasing In Lands Thought Lost as soon as the album becomes available on the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp and webstore in digital format or as a red vinyl (limited to 500 copies). As a matter of fact, if you’re an admirer of Atmospheric Black Metal, I’m pretty sure you’re already well aware of that, eager to have such inspiring album on your metallic hands.

Best moments of the album: Nights Tomb and The Everbright Land.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Bindrune Recordings

Track listing    
1. Nights Tomb 7:32
2. To Brave The Storm 8:40
3. Creaking Boughs 8:43
4. The Everbright Land 9:11
5. South Ever South 12:33

Band members
Michael Taylor – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Austin Lunn – drums (session)

Album Review – Infernäl Mäjesty / No God (2017)

A powerful album of Canadian Thrash and Death Metal that confirms there’s no god in our decaying world, but only an infernal majesty of extreme music reigning supreme among us.

Formed in the distant year of 1986 in the city of Toronto, Canada, but currently located on the opposite side of the country, in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Thrash/Death Metal squad Infernäl Mäjesty has been unleashing complex and exciting metal tunes upon humanity since their inception, starting with their 24-track demo recorded at the renowned Metalworks Studios in Toronto (owned by members of Canadian Hard Rock band Triumph) and their 1987 debut album None Shall Defy, and culminating with the release of their brand new opus now in 2017 titled No God.

Featuring an elegant cover art by Safir & Rifas (based on their 2014 oil on canvas art named “Death Angel”), No God offers the listener 11 imposing thrash tunes for the delight of fans of the heaviness and aggressiveness of giants such as Slayer, Behemoth and Testament, masterfully played by founding members Chris Bailey (vocals), Steve Terror (guitar) and Kenny Hallman (guitar), together with newcomers Daniel Nargang on bass and Kiel T. Wilson on drums. “We put a lot into it physically and mentally and feel it has a classic Infernäl Mäjesty undertone while artfully expanding into episodes of melodic cacophony. Recorded at our studio in Vancouver, Canada and produced by Steve Terror, Chris Bailey and Ken Hallman, we enrolled the masterful mixing skills of Chris ”Hollywood” Holmes and believe this to be our best works since None Shall Defy”, says the band about their brand new spawn.

Chris and his horde begin their ominous attack from the very first second of the belligerent tune Enter The World Of The Undead, where we’re furiously invited to enter their world of Thrash and Death Metal to the sound of the cutting riffs by Steve and Kenny, while Kiel keeps up with the legacy of iconic drummers such as Dave Lombardo, Gene Hoglan and Tom Hunting. Dark and acrid words flow from Chris’ visceral growls in the rhythmic onslaught of extreme music called In God You Trust, also presenting a hellish aura in the background which ends up enhancing the song’s obscurity; followed by a very aggressive and infernal composition named Signs Of Evil, displaying a similar pattern than both previous songs, with highlights to the unstoppable Kiel behind his drums and to the once again sharp guitar riffs and solos by Steve and Kenny. And in Another Day in Hell the music feels like it’s rising from the pits of the underworld, with the initial roar by Chris being a sign of how heavy this tune will be. Not only it brings an old school sonority the likes of Unleashed, but its calmer but blackened breaks make the whole composition even more menacing.

Kingdom Of Heaven, a mid-tempo straightforward Death Metal chant with thrashing elements added to it, presents a neck-breaking start with lots of groove emanating from Kiel’s drumming, while Steve, Kenny and Daniel slash our skin with their razor-edged strings, whereas the title-track No God is a blasphemous feast of Death and Thrash Metal perfect for their live performances, with Chris vociferating the song’s wicked lyrics manically (“Born of fire from the starless depths of hell / The red cross turns black so many dead sent up the stacks / Spill the blood of virtue for the empire of gold / Satan laughing defecating into open mouths below”), therefore being one of the strongest compositions of the whole album. Then we have an eerie instrumental track about the 9/11 attacks titled False Flag for Europe, paving the path for the rhythmic Nation of Assassins, starting in a darker and heavier pace before exploding into a thrilling hurricane of metal, with Chris darkly screaming the song’s name while the rest of the band blasts a very cohesive fusion of Thrash and Death Metal.

The killer drumming by Kiel and the straightforward guitars by both Steve and Kenny are all Chris needs to fire his infuriated growls in the fantastic House Of War, with the aggressiveness of the entire song being way above average. All band members are absolutely on fire, delivering an intricate but always crude and primeval hymn for admirers of traditional Death Metal that has all it takes to become an underground classic. Systematical Extermination keeps the quality of the album at a very good level, albeit being less creative than the others (it might have been more effective if it was a little shorter, though), while in Extinction Level Event a truly macabre intro morphs into a pounding sonic devastation. Steve and Kenny continue with their merciless slashing, also blasting melodious lines to give more balance to all the havoc going on, with Kiel helping Chris to poetically scream about the end of mankind until the song’s somber ending.

Infernäl Mäjesty is another one of those amazing bands that makes us proud of being Canadian, and if I were you I would certainly like their Facebook page, listen to more of their demonic Thrash Metal at their YouTube channel and at their BandCamp page (where No God will be available soon), and grab your copy of No God at the High Roller Records’ webstore in different formats (CD digipak, LP black, LP splatter and LP royal blue), at the Napalm Records’ webstore, at the Season of Mist’s webstore, at Target, at Record Shop X, on Amazon and several other locations (please note that “False Flag for Europe” and “House Of War” are on the CD and digital download, but not on the vinyl edition because they are already on a custom House Of War 7”). After listening to this raging lecture of Extreme Metal, I’m more than inclined to believe there’s no god, but only an infernal majesty of metal music reigning supreme among us.

Best moments of the album: Enter The World Of The Undead, No God and House Of War.

Worst moments of the album: Systematical Extermination.

Released in 2017 High Roller Records

Track listing
1. Enter The World Of The Undead 5:44
2. In God You Trust 5:14
3. Signs Of Evil 4:53
4. Another Day in Hell 6:37
5. Kingdom Of Heaven 6:46
6. No God 5:58
7. False Flag for Europe 2:05
8. Nation of Assassins 6:24
9. House Of War 4:47
10. Systematical Extermination 6:28
11. Extinction Level Event 6:08

Band members
Chris Bailey – vocals
Steve Terror – guitar
Kenny Hallman – guitar
Daniel Nargang – bass
Kiel T. Wilson – drums

Album Review – Terrifier / Weapons of Thrash Destruction (2017)

A Canadian army of Thrash Metal proves through their phenomenal new album that thrashing is their business… and business is good.

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terrifierwotdalbumcoverasofdec21If you have already checked out our Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2016 you know that, at least for us at The Headbanging Moose, 2016 was the year of Thrash Metal, with bands like Testament, Anthrax and Death Angel delivering the cream of the thrashing crop. With that said, how about keeping the flame of Thrash Metal burning brighter than a thousand suns, with the first review of 2017 being not only a kick-ass album, but a tribute to this always thrilling subgenre of heavy music? Formed in 2003 in the city of Kelowna, in the province of British Columbia, Canada, but currently located in Vancouver, here comes Thrash Metal squad Terrifier (originally known as Skullhammer) armed to the teeth with their brand new opus, the thundering Weapons of Thrash Destruction.

The album’s old school straightforward artwork already tells you what you’re about to face in Weapons of Thrash Destruction, and after listening to such amazing album you’ll agree that the band’s motto could well be “thrashing is our business… and business is good.” Having release their debut album Destroyers of the Faith in 2012, followed by the EP Metal or Death in 2013, Terrifier offer in their new album exactly what diehard thrash metallers desire, being highly inspired by icons like Slayer, Exodus, Testament, Megadeth, Metallica, Overkill and Kreator, also adding to their musicality hints of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Pantera, Iced Earth and several other of their influences in heavy music. The band’s frontman and mastermind Chase Thibodeau explains their reason for being. “We formed this band because we love thrash and play what we think sounds cool… our music is fast, technical, heavy and melodic and shredding.”

Guitarists Rene Wilkinson and Brent Gallant waste no time and begin slashing their instruments in the opening track, the superb Reanimator, delivering the thrashiest riffs you can think of, with Chase screaming the song’s lyrics in a frantic Paul Baloff style. Inspired by the 1985 cult horror flick Re-Animator, it’s five minutes of nonstop action perfect for getting some hardcore bruises in the circle pit. In Deceiver, it’s confirmed Terrifier is a band that definitely knows how to craft true old school Thrash Metal, blasting more of their unstoppable blazing riffs while drummer Kyle Sheppard showcases his passion for metal through his insane beats; followed by Nuclear Demolisher, bringing forward sheer madness in the form of music. After an amazing rhythmic start, we’re treated to a heavy and cohesive sonority led by the beats by Kyle, with highlights to its electrifying guitar solos and to Chase’s hellish vociferations.

terrifierKeeping the speed over the “recommended” limit, fans of old school Exodus and Overkill will go crazy with the demented tune Violent Reprisal, especially due to its belligerent riffs, solos and vocals, whereas Skitzoid Embolism pays a fun tribute to one of the most iconic scenes from the 1990 classic Total Recall. This is yet another top-notch display of traditional Thrash Metal by Terrifier, with both Rene and Brent having sensational performances with their flammable guitars. And galvanized by the music bred by Exodus with Zetro on vocals, Drunk as Fuck epitomizes what Canadian Thrash Metal is all about, including the song’s spirituous lyrics. As the band states, “Heavy Metal is not just music, it’s a way of life”, so raise your beers to this awesome drinking hymn!

In Bestial Tyranny,  yet again we witness a tenacious band that is never tired of blasting high-octane thrash music, with Chase sounding completely demented with his screams while Rene and Brent, together with bassist Alexander Giles, form a “stringed trinity of Thrash Metal” throughout the song’s six breathtaking minutes. And violence never ends in this fantastic album, with Riders of Doom, an instrumental bridge displaying some nice guitar solos, setting the stage for their last onslaught of old school Thrash Metal, titled Sect of the Serpent, a song inspired by Conan the Barbarian (they do love the almighty Arnold, don’t you think?) played at the speed of light. Chase leads his demented troop of metallers, with Kyle’s berserk beats crushing the listener mercilessly.

In a nutshell, the sonic Armageddon caused by Terrifier and their Weapons of Thrash Destruction goes beyond all expectations, proving one more time how underground metal can be just as mighty and exhilarating as the classic bands we love so much. In order to know more about the band’s fantastic arsenal of Thrash Metal, go check their Facebook page, SoundCloud or ReverbNation, and if you want to put your hands on such awesome thrashy armament, simply go to Terrifier’s BandCamp page or to the Test Your Metal Records’ Big Cartel page. Weapons of Thrash Destruction will provide you the precise amount of ammunition you need to kick some serious ass into the mosh pit, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Reanimator, Nuclear Demolisher, Drunk as Fuck and Sect of the Serpent.

Worst moments of the album: Deceiver.

Released in 2017 Test Your Metal Records

Track listing
1. Reanimator 5:24
2. Deceiver 5:15
3. Nuclear Demolisher 4:26
4. Violent Reprisal 4:17
5. Skitzoid Embolism 4:08
6. Drunk as Fuck 4:12
7. Bestial Tyranny 6:13
8. Riders of Doom 1:40
9. Sect of the Serpent 6:44

Band members
Chase Thibodeau – vocals
Rene Wilkinson – guitar
Brent Gallant – guitar
Alexander Giles – bass
Kyle Sheppard – drums

Concert Review – Wacken Metal Battle Canada Final (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016)

One Canadian Band to rule them all, One Canadian Band to find them. One Canadian Band to bring them all, and in Wacken Open Air bind them.

INTRODUCTION: ONE BAND TO RULE THEM ALL!

wacken metal battle_canada_final2016If you were at the charming The Opera House in Toronto this Saturday, June 11, you were able to witness the future of Canadian Metal in pursuit of a sacred placed among the Gods of Metal at the 2016 edition of Wacken Open Air, which will be held during the first week of August this year. Five amazing bands made in Canada showcased all their skills and passion for heavy music during the final and decisive round of the fourth annual edition of Wacken Metal Battle Canada, but only one of them secured a spot in the most important metal festival in the world. Do you want to know which band was crowned the kings of the night?

This year, guest judges Noel Peters (Inertia Entertainment), Sarah Lutz (Metal Blade Canada), Darryl Hurs (Indie Week), Chris Gonda (PureGrainAudio.com), Tim Henderson (Bravewords.com), Andrew Epstein (Zombitrol Productions) and Glenn Fricker (Spectre Media Group) had the difficult mission to decide who would play at Wacken Open Air this August, but before I get into more details, let me say it’s impressive how well organized Wacken Metal Battle is in Canada, it doesn’t matter the city or the qualifying round. With over 100 independent Canadian metal bands from the cities of Toronto, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, and after 27 qualifying rounds, 9 semi-finals and the national final this Saturday, all we can say in a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in this awesome project, with a special thanks to my friend Jon Asher (Asher Media Relations) for letting me be part of this. And now, let’s get ready to rumble!

DISTORTHEAD

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DistortHead @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

The first group to hit the stage, at around 8pm, was Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore band DistortHead, from Montreal, Quebec, who were obviously the Quebec Final winners this year. With all band members elegantly wearing lumberjack shirts, DistortHead fired a good mix of modern and groovy metal music the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder and Suicide Silence with the more ferocious sound of old school Death Metal, which translated into a solid and unstoppable performance by this talented quintet. Lead singer Phil Ranger led his troop during the entire setlist, demanding some furious circle pits from the fans at the venue and, as any proud Québécois, made good usage of “Bill 101” to teach the audience how to curse in French. If brutal Melodic Death Metal is your cup of tea, go check their BandCamp page, where you can enjoy their 2014 album Invasive Species in its entirety.

Band members
Phil Ranger – vocals
Vincent Rousseau – guitar
Alex Guindon – guitar
Felix Bourcier – bass, backing vocals
Max Arseneau – drums

PYRAMID THEOREM

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Pyramid Theorem @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

In my opinion, one of the best things in any Wacken Metal Battle round is the variety of sounds you can listen to within a short span of time, getting truly paradoxical at times, but as awesome as usual. That was confirmed when Progressive Hard Rock act Pyramid Theorem began their psychedelic and electrifying performance. Those Torontonians, who were the Ontario Final 2/2 winners, sounded so professional, polished and in sync it’s hard to believe they do not have an agreement with a record label yet. Take a listen at the excellent tunes Outlaw for Good and Drive and you’ll see what I’m talking about. The crowd was excited during the whole show, mainly due to the thrilling performance by the dynamic duo Christian Di Mambro (vocals and bass) Sam Ermellini (guitar and vocals), who didn’t stop interacting with the audience for a single second while at the same time displaying their refined techniques on stage. Some of the guitar solos by Sam were simply outstanding.

Band members
Christian Di Mambro – vocals, bass
Sam Ermellini – guitar, vocals
Stephan Di Mambro – synths, guitar, vocals
Vic Dee – drums, percussion

THE MOUNTAIN MAN

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The Mountain Man @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

Fans of the relentless music by icons such as Lamb of God, Whitechapel, Gojira and Pantera definitely had an awesome time during the performance by Vancouver-based five-piece act The Mountain Man, who blasted a nice fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Groove Metal, proving why the band was the B.C. Final winner. The whole festival seemed to be turning into “the night of the frontmen”, with lead singer Parker Lane keeping up with the vocalists from both previous bands with his unique screams and endless energy on stage. We have to give a round of applause to those guys, coming all the way from the other side of the country, paying all expenses from their own pockets, and still having enough strength to kill on stage. If you want to know more about their music, you can listen to their debut EP entitled Bloodlust at their BandCamp page, and if by any chance the band members themselves read this, please send us the EP for a detailed review.

Band members
Parker Lane – vocals
Tyson Tambellini – guitar
Jordan Orr – guitar
Tevyn Pacey – bass
Ryan McCreedy – drums

PROFANER

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Profaner @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

After a quick break and another cold beer, it was time for Melodic Death/Thrash Metal band Profaner to distill their acid metal music upon the audience. Hailing from the city of Hamilton, around 70km southwest of Toronto, the Ontario 1/2 Final winners didn’t waste time and started kicking ass on stage from the very first notes of the opening song of their setlist. If you visit their BandCamp page, you’ll be able to listen to a few songs they played this Saturday, such as the awesome Marked For Death, and see how good and violent those guys are. Guided by the uncontrollable frontman Anthony “Tooty” Tuttolomondo, Profaner showed everyone at the venue how old school brutal music is done, with the blazing riffs by guitarists Jason Crook and Pat Rogers, together with the boisterous drumming by Craig Piggot, being the recipe for success in heavy music. I loved their music and charisma, and so did the vast majority of the fans at The Opera House. A good sign of the band’s future, don’t you agree?

Band members
Anthony “Tooty” Tuttolomondo – vocals
Jason Crook – guitar, backing vocals
Pat Rogers – guitar
Rusty – bass
Craig Piggot – drums

TALES OF THE TOMB

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Tales Of The Tomb @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

There was still a lot more to come Saturday night, even with the clock getting closer to (or past) midnight, with the unique Psychological Horror/Death/Murder Metal brutally fired by Edmontonian metallers Tales Of The Tomb, who stood tall as the Prairie Final winner band. With lead singer Connor Adams, guitarist Corey Skerlak and bassist Bryn Herbert growling like possessed beats, Tales of The Tomb crushed the audience with their music inspired by icons such as Dying Fetus and Bloodbath, and the dark and gory vibe of classic slasher films. Those guys unleashed hell upon The Opera House, playing songs from their debut EP named Volume One: Morpras, as you can listen to at their BandCamp page. Nonstop violence is always fun in extreme music, and in the case of Tales Of The Tomb that enjoyment is multiplied by a thousand due to their demonic screeches and bestial riffs. In other words, a highly recommended band for fans of vicious Extreme Metal.

Band members
Connor Adams – vocals
Tres Thomas – guitar
Corey Skerlak – guitar, vocals
Bryn Herbert – bass, vocals
John Thomson – drums 

SPECIAL GUEST HEADLINERS: CRIMSON SHADOWS

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Crimson Shadows @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/11/2016

And before that incredible night of Canadian Metal was over, we were treated to the Epic Death/Power Metal by special guest headliners Crimson Shadows, winners of the first edition of Wacken Metal Battle Canada in 2013, and also crowned the Metal Battle international winners at Wacken Open Air that same year. Well, the epic devastation crafted by these talented Torontonians, mixing the speed and intricacy of Dragonforce and Rhapsody with the vileness and heaviness of Children of Bodom, sounded even more potent on stage, with highlights to the excellent performance of newcomer Paul “Ablaze” Zinay with his harsh screams, and especially Mr. Greg Rounding with his fantastic riffs, solos and clean vocals. If you know nothing about Crimson Shadows, I suggest you take a listen at the high-end battle hymns Rise to Power and Braving the Storm, which were played to perfection during their electrifying concert. I believe that whenever Rise to Power is played, if you do not start singing it together with Crimson Shadows, raising your fists in the air, drinking a pint of beer and getting ready to die in the battlefield, you’re not a honorable warrior.

Band members
Paul “Ablaze” Zinay – vocals
Ryan Hofing – guitar
Greg Rounding – guitar, vocals
Alex Snape – bass
Cory Hofing – drums

AND THE WINNER IS…

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Profaner – 2016 Wacken Metal Battle Canada Winner

…everyone that attended the event this Saturday, especially the bands and the amazing crew that helped that metal celebration become true! Unfortunately, only one band could win the tournament and head to Wacken Open Air in August, but all five bands were simply amazing and deserve our humble recognition for keeping the fire of Canadian Metal alive. Congratulations to runner-ups DistortHead, who won a bunch of cool stuff from PureGrainAudio.com and Los Cabos Drumsticks that will be very beneficial to their career, and in special to the 2016 Wacken Metal Battle Canada winners PROFANER! YOU GUYS KICK ASS!

As previously mentioned, Crimson Shadows went to Wacken Open Air and won the international battle in 2013, and in 2015 Vesperia (who were there on Saturday to pass the crown to Profaner) re-lived that success by once again bringing the first place from Germany to Canada. Now it’s time for Profaner to show to the craziest metal fans in the entire world who will attend the festival in August how awesome Canadian Metal is. If you want to have a good overview of what happens to all independent bands while at Wacken Open Air, I recommend you watch the movie Wacken 3D – Louder Than Hell, from 2014. But that’s just in case you’re not going to join Profaner in their thrilling quest in Teutonic lands, of course.

Album Review – Gomorrah / The Haruspex (2016)

Enter the gates of Gomorrah and be prepared for an insane feast of first-class Canadian Death Metal that will crush your body and mind.

Rating4

CDDIGI-2.1BWhen most people see the name “Gomorrah”, they automatically associate it with to the city mentioned in the Book of Genesis, the Qur’an and Hadith, the Torah, and the New Testament. But such interpretation has been shifting considerably since 2006 in the world of heavy music, when Canadian Death Metal act Gomorrah was born in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia as a Black Metal outfit, storming the world with their refined and brutal music. Growing to a bolder form of Death Metal through the years, this talented band is releasing their second full-length album, entitled The Haruspex, an excellent option for fans of the devastating music by Cannibal Corpse, Decapitated and Bloodbath.

Their short but substantial existence, which includes the unique experience of sharing the stage with renowned acts like Suffocation, Cryptopsy and The Agonist, together with the thorough production of the album, allowed this Kelowna-based band to step up their game in The Haruspex, therefore cementing their path in extreme music. Featuring a sinister artwork by artist Kevin Ellis Moore, The Haruspex will promptly assault you and leave you lying on the floor covered in blood, eager for more of the band’s unyielding compositions.

The intro Imperial kicks off the album in a more than ferocious way, giving you a good idea of what’s coming next, the bestial Nine Kings of Sulphur, where its eerie ambience gets stronger with each instrument growing until the song reaches a pulverizing rhythm. Moreover, the technical riffs by guitarist Bowen Matheson magnificently support the deep growling by frontman Jeff Bryan during the entire song. And following that strong start, get ready to be smashed by Gomorrah in Carcosa, a song that will make fans of Deicide and Cannibal Corpse truly happy. The vociferations by Jeff are insanely powerful in this sick tune, not to mention its unstoppable beats (reproduced live by drummer Casey Long-Read).

GOMORRAH press photo as Nov 17Are you tired already? Because those guys still have a lot more of their demonic music to disturb our minds, beginning with Dismantling The Throne, an extremely poisonous version of Progressive Death Metal where its bass lines (reproduced live by bassist Clayton Harder) add tons of groove to the musicality; followed by Sitra Achra, the epitome of modern Death Metal, being ruthless and harmonious at the same time. Blast beats multiply in the air, while the bass guitar keeps rumbling thunderously, making this one of the best tunes of the entire album. And in Crowns of Flesh, an eerie intro deceives the listener as it takes a few seconds for the band’s nuclear assault to reignite, with its potent riffs and beats alongside the song’s resonant bass lines aiming at dislocating your brain due to the intense headbanging they might cause.

Cerulean is not only an amazing display of Death and Groove Metal where Jeff continues his ode to dementia through his pungent growls, but I personally love when extreme music can be so violent without being played at the speed of light, proving how talented the musicians involved in this band are. Then we have the brutal and melodic Venom and Rapture, where you’ll be instigated to bang your head up and down violently, and Architects, a short instrumental break before one last shot of insanity begins in the form of The Mark of Veritas, a derranged chant where the band’s growls and blast beats come crushing from the very first second. In addition, the fusion of Jeff’s howls and the song’s flammable drumming is outstanding, closing the album on a high note.

If you got psyched up with the music by Gomorrah, go check their Facebook page for more details on the band, including their future tour dates, as well as their YouTube channel and SoundCloud page. And lastly, you can purchase The Haruspex at their BandCamp page or at the Test Your Metal Records’ Big Cartel page. If you dare to enter the gates of Gomorrah, I can guarantee you won’t get disappointed at all with the insane level of destruction this awesome Canadian band can offer you.

Best moments of the album: Carcosa, Sitra Achra and The Mark of Veritas.

Worst moments of the album: Venom and Rapture.

Released in 2016 Test Your Metal Records

Track listing
1. Imperial 1:55
2. Nine Kings of Sulphur 3:17
3. Carcosa 2:31
4. Dismantling The Throne 2:59
5. Sitra Achra 3:51
6. Crowns of Flesh 3:50
7. Cerulean 3:05
8. Venom and Rapture 4:14
9. Architects 1:33
10. The Mark of Veritas 3:40

Band members
Jeff Bryan – vocals
Bowen Matheson – guitars

Band live lineup
Jeff Bryan – vocals
Bowen Matheson – guitars
Clayton Harder – bass
Casey Long-Read – drums

Album Review – VHOD / Dreamcleaver (2015)

A must-listen experimental and rapturous Death Metal album presented by a long-serving Canadian metaller.

Rating4

VHOD_DREAMCLEAVER-album_coverConceived by sole member Chris Shaver in early 2014 in the city of Armstrong, located in British Columbia, Canada, as a merger of Chris’ past bands Godcursed (2004-2014), Morbid Darkness (1989-2014) and Worms Of The Birth (2011-2014), what you will find in the music by Experimental Death Metal project VHOD is a metallic torrent of different genres and subgenres of heavy music, blending elements from all his past works with new concepts and a substantial amount of progressiveness. If you’re already familiar with the music Chris is capable of crafting, you’ll undoubtedly love VHOD, and if you’re a newcomer to his 25-year old metal kingdom, get ready for an amazing sonic experience.

It took Chris a few months at his own studio (Artery Studios) to finalize VHOD’s first full-length album, entitled Dreamcleaver, featuring exclusive artwork by artist Jeni Fitts (Provoking Drama), and the result couldn’t have been more ferocious and harmonious, which makes me wonder how satisfied Chris might be right now with his newborn “creature”. Although this isn’t his first release under the VHOD banner, having already recorded a considerable amount of singles and EP’s, including a four-piece concept EP for his Tor-saga, it’s now in Dreamcleaver where Chris was able to showcase all his abilities as a musician, also pointing to the direction his music will most probably follow from now on.

As soon as you start listening to the opening track Still The Blood, with highlights to its truly metallic sounding and the primeval growls by Chris, you’ll find yourself in the eye of a Death/Thrash Metal tornado. This is indeed a progressive and at the same time visceral tune, with nice guitar solos at the end to provide it some extra fuel, followed by the less progressive and extremely destructive The Spectre’s Behest, where Chris puts the “pedal to Death Metal” and multiplies his offensive abilities, reaching an incredible level of devastation in an more than exciting chant. And again bringing elements of Thrash Metal, On The Tree Of Woe presents our multi-instrumentalist warrior vociferating his lines while instrumental parts create an atmosphere of evil and bestiality. Despite its piercing guitar riffs and endless electricity being the most important elements of the entire song, its second part also deserves our attention, when Chris focuses on a more introspective and apocalyptical vibe.

The next track, So Pass Away/Locus Mortis, is not only a solid tune where progressive lines and pure hardcore riffs are perfectly blended, but the bestial growling by Chris (especially during its chorus) makes it feel like the Death Metal played by Cannibal Corpse when they slow down, but still as heavy as hell, with its somewhat anguished ending increasing its impact. And in the Death/Doom Metal song Dragon Sand, a “solitary” beat kicks it off before melancholy and hopelessness begin emanating from its riffs and rhythm, with that dark energy going on until the end of the song in a great display of musicianship. Focusing on a more traditional and faster musicality, we have Reap The Harvest, offering a good mixture of blast beats and heavy riffs and solos, and if Chris puts together a band for live performances I believe this is one of the best songs to be added to the setlist.

5In Now Underground,  “forget” about the devilish Death Metal offered so far, as there’s a switch to a completely different sounding the likes of Opeth, or in other words, a darker version of Progressive Metal. Chris delivers high doses of experimentations and a somber ambience in a surprisingly enjoyable break from the previous madness, but that’s just until the high-speed Flesh For Our Swords begins: this tune proves that VHOD can provide an infinite mix of genres and subgenres of heavy music with its Melodic Death Metal vibe boosted by the old school growls by Chris. Moreover, it doesn’t actually feel like “just” a one-man band due to its organic sounding and infinite electricity, not to mention its awesome bass lines punching you in the head all the time. Lastly, Obsequies is only an eerie instrumental “intro” (which could have been slightly shorter, by the way) to the title-track Dreamcleaver, an amazing exhibit of fast and furious Death Metal, including elements from Punk Rock, Hardcore, Thrash Metal and more. It’s the best song of the album in my humble opinion and a lesson in how to transform guitar riffs into endless fuel for the sonic havoc proposed, as even with almost eight minutes the music never loses its grip. In addition, Chris’ vocals remind me of Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth, giving the song a more pugnacious approach.

To sum up, VHOD might be considered just a project by many, including its architect Chris Shaver, but the quality of the music presented by this one-man infantry in Dreamcleaver is so impressive it becomes a must-listen for lovers of extreme and multi-layered metal. All things VHOD can be found at the band’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you will soon find Dreamcleaver for purchase at VHOD’s BandCamp page or at the Inverse Records webshop, if you consider yourself one of those death metallers who carry that passion for progressiveness in your black heart.

Best moments of the album: The Spectre’s Behest, So Pass Away/Locus Mortis and Dreamcleaver.

Worst moments of the album: Obsequies.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Still The Blood 5:07
2. The Spectre’s Behest 3:36
3. On The Tree Of Woe 7:09
4. So Pass Away/Locus Mortis 6:56
5. Dragon Sand 7:23
6. Reap The Harvest 4:37
7. Now Underground 5:21
8. Flesh For Our Swords 5:20
9. Obsequies 3:23
10. Dreamcleaver 7:49

Band members
Chris Shaver – vocals, all Instruments

Album Review – Kafirun / Glorification Of Holy Death EP (2015)

Welcome to the darkest side of metal music, put forward by a very promising Canadian Black Metal act.

Rating5

KAFIRUN Glorification of Holy Death EPIt’s always a pleasure to review the release by a Canadian band, especially when the band in question is capable of delivering such creative and venomous music to the point it contaminates our deranged minds and souls in the best way possible. That’s what Black Metal band Kafirun has to offer with their brand new EP, the deadly ravage entitled Glorification Of Holy Death.

Brought into being in 2014 and hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, this new breed of Canadian black metallers is releasing their second installment after their debut demo/EP Death Worship, which if you haven’t taken a listen to yet I suggest you do it now by clicking HERE. More than just a sequel to Death Worship, the new EP aims at reaching new levels of perversity and complexity, and Kafirun end up conquering their objectives by stepping up their technique, wrath and malice.

The psychedelic intro, the doom-ish drumming by Corpus Vile and the demonic and desperate vocals by Luzifaust in the opening track, Wings of Malevolence, evoke darkness and welcome all of us to the kingdom of Kafirun. Far from being raw old school Black Metal, this song has a more melancholic and somber sounding with a sustained rhythm perfect for some slow but intense headbanging, while in Salvation Through Sin they speed things up and also blacken their music, delivering some sick riffs, growls and blast beats in a very crude way. This is indeed a very obscure type of Black Metal that fans of the genre will enjoy, with the devilish break halfway through it making the song more interesting to the listener.

kafirun photoThe third track of the EP, Destruction of the Divine Self, showcases more modern and thrashier riffs by guitarist Hanephi before suddenly turning into brutal Black Metal, with vociferations and drums at the speed of evil, followed by another bestial song named Chaos Magnum Opus. The initial scream by Luzifaust says it all: it’s going to be a disturbingly blackened tune, where Corpus Vile violently pounds his drums while Hanephi and Hypnocrotizer brutalize their strings with some wicked lines. You will definitely feel distraught with this malevolent song, no doubt about that.

Last but not least, in Open Veins the band gets back to Blackened Doom, with even the vocal lines getting deeper and more grievous. Its funereal sonority is beyond perfect to close the EP and emphasizes all the disorientation and addiction to the darkest side of metal music put forward by this promising Canadian quartet. With that said, what are you waiting for to succumb to all unholy sins and let the right one in by visiting Kafirun’s official Facebook page and by purchasing their music at their BandCamp page?

Best moments of the album: Destruction of the Divine Self and Chaos Magnum Opus.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Wings of Malevolence 4:07
2. Salvation Through Sin 4:18
3. Destruction of the Divine Self 3:32
4. Chaos Magnum Opus 3:28
5. Open Veins 6:14

Band members
Luzifaust – vocals
Hanephi – guitars
Hypnocrotizer – bass
Corpus Vile – drums

Album Review – Meridius / Meridius EP (2015)

Get ready for war with this rising and upfront Canadian Thrash Metal army.

Rating5

meridius-cover-small2Named after Russell Crowe`s iconic character Maximus Decimus Meridius from the Academy Award-winning epic movie Gladiator, Canadian Thrash/Groove Metal band Meridius is here to provide us headbangers a short and extremely energetic Thrash Metal assault with their debut self-titled EP, Meridius, which will please all fans of veterans the likes of Slayer, Exodus and Pantera. And just like General Maximus, this five-piece army won’t stop until the last body drops to the sound of their cutthroat music.

Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia and singing about inevitable (but always fresh) topics such as death, torture, war and violence, Meridius are not aiming at revolutionizing Thrash Metal. What those guys really want is pretty simple and straightforward: to entertain all thrash metallers in the world with huge doses of dark humor and high-quality music, and let me tell you that based on what is available in Meridius they have more than what it takes to succeed. Who doesn’t enjoy some honest and violent Thrash Metal, eh!?

The first track in Meridius is also my favorite one, Speed Kills, where the 100% Slayer-ish riffs by guitarists Kieran Marquis and Sam Buchanan support the song’s dense and heavy musicality. It’s ruthless music with lots of groove, sounding like a “tribute” to contemporary North American Thrash Metal, especially the vocals by frontman Eric Willmott which are more aggressive and modern than usual just like what Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Rob Dukes (Exodus, Generation Kill) usually do. Moreover, when the song reaches its guitar solo, it gets closer to the music by Pantera, which is always a good thing.

meridius-press-photo-hailey-statlerConquer The Throne, with its riffs and drums inspired by Swedish Melodic Death Metal and Speed Metal, is another aggressive metal attack with more melodic vocals, showcasing lyrics as violent as the music and a very catchy chorus, followed by the third and last track of the EP, Walk The Plank, which goes back to the musicality of Bay Area Thrash. The song is not at the speed of light, but it’s very groovy and truly heavy with the addition of even some clean vocals. The neck-breaking riff in the middle of the song is perfect for lovers of slow but gigantic headbanging, and the second half of it is an exhibit of the Heavy Metal skills of all band members, with a melancholic acoustic ending that was probably put there on purpose for the listener to slow down after so much violence.

It’s particularly important to acknowledge the high-end production of the entire EP, and if the band’s first full-length album, which is already being crafted and should be available in the next few months, sounds as professional as any of the three tracks from the EP, diehard thrash metallers from any nationality will soon turn their eyes and ears to Canada without a shadow of a doubt. While Meridius are writing new material and getting ready to tour Canada, go check their music at their official BandCamp page and also on SoundCloud, and get ready for war with this 101 proof Canadian Thrash Metal band.

Best moments of the album: Speed Kills.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Speed Kills 3:42
2. Conquer The Throne 4:17
3. Walk The Plank 5:27

Band members
Eric Willmott – vocals
Kieran Marquis – lead guitar
Sam Buchanan – rhythm guitar
Peter Reimann – bass guitar
Nolan Olson – drums