Album Review – Heterochrome / Melancholia (2017)

Embark on a journey through the aggressive peaks and heavenly calm moments of life and death, crafted by a five-piece Iranian act that’s willing to face all adversities in their homeland to spread their music all over the world.

Every single time we at The Headbanging Moose do a review of an album by a band hailing from the Middle-East, we never know exactly how hard and dangerous it was (and is) for that specific band to record that album due to all restrictions imposed by religious and political parties in those countries. If you have no idea of what I’m talking about, take a quick read at this short and sweet article titled “How playing heavy metal in Iran can put your life in danger”, posted online at the Huck Maganize website. Formed in 2014 in Tehran, the capital of Iran located in the north of the country, female-fronted five-piece Progressive Metal act Heterochrome have just released their debut effort entitled Melancholia, a journey through the aggressive peaks and heavenly calm moments of life and death, and it seems that they are willing to face all perils and adversities in their homeland to spread their music all over the world.

The band was brought into being when guitarist Mohammadreza Rezaei and vocalist Mida met each other in 2014 and started writing music together, with the rest of the band members joining the duo in the coming years. Displaying a delicate but powerful artwork designed by Caelan Stokkermans, from Caelan Stokkermans Arts (who already worked with another band recently reviewed at The Headbanging Moose, called Ezerath), Melancholia is an amalgamation of sounds and styles, from the darkest and heaviest screams and thoughts to moments of tenderness, love and hope, all meticulously embraced by the band’s progressive and intricate passages. Furthermore, Mida ends up stealing the spotlight with her passionate vocal performance throughout the entire album, and if what people say is true about how women are completely discouraged to create music (in special Heavy Metal) in Iran, putting even their lives in danger for doing that, then she’s not only a highly skilled singer, but also a daredevil metalhead.

The opening track Cage displays tons of progressiveness flowing from all instruments from its very first second, being led by the sharp guitars by Mohammadreza and his bandmate Khashayar Oveisi, with Mohammadreza and the angelical voice of Mida bringing a classy and melancholic vibe to the music. Then leaning towards Progressive Rock blended with contemporary Hard Rock we have Hang, where Mida enchants us all to the precise beats by drummer Mohammad Mirboland and the metallic bass by Armin Afzali, with the songs harsh growls adding  an extra dosage of heaviness and electricity to the song’s introspective lyrics (“Every breath I take, brings me closer / Every second wasted, counts past the border / Every bridge falls broken, burning over  / As I sprint through the myst, the night is over”).

The following track, named Regret, is a smooth instrumental Progressive Metal tune with hints of Acid Rock, generating a dark and soulful “waltz” perfect for closing your eyes and banging your head together with the band. Moreover, Mohammad becomes the “captain” of the ship with both his fast-paced beats and more rhythmic drumming, with the song ending with a kick-ass guitar solo by Mohammadreza. And the band keeps the momentum going with Purgatory, a song highly recommended for fans of all types of heavy music that can be broken down into several distinct pieces, from the hypnotizing, gentle parts led by Mida to a pure metallic extravaganza and more progressive passages, therefore showcasing all the band’s versatility and also experimenting with darker sounds and nuances of Rock N’ Roll.

Their most experimental vein rises in Paradise, with the guitar duo comprised of Mohammadreza and Khashayar spearheading this feast of whimsical tunes and notes, boosted by the intricate bass lines by Armin. Furthermore, this pleasant composition proves Heterochrome definitely know how to use the fusion of male and female vocals in all their creations in a beyond compelling way. And last but not least, let the fires burn to the sound of the thrilling chant Inferno, a multi-layered mid-tempo tune that will pierce your mind and hypnotize you, while the bass lines by Armin embrace Mida’s stunning voice. Once again presenting a gripping guitar solo by Mohammadreza and beautiful, poetic lyrics as the icing on the cake (“Let me bleed / Naked by the fire / I’m drowning deep / Drowning in denial / Burning in / The inferno I made for myself”), the song remains flawless from start to finish, flowing to a gentle ending full of melancholy bursting from both Mida’s and Mohammadreza’s voices.

As aforementioned, I don’t know for sure how dangerous it is for a band like Heterochrome to craft their music in Iran, but it seems that they’re more than ready to take all possible risks in the name of Heavy Metal. With that said, we should all show our utmost support to those Iranian metallers (and to their freedom of speech) by liking their Facebook page, listening to their music on YouTube or on Spotify, and especially by purchasing Melancholia on BandCamp, iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby, always hoping that they succeed in their arduous journey and that they keep delivering good metal music to our ears, therefore inspiring others in Iran to do the same.

Best moments of the album: Hang and Inferno.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Cage 3:36
2. Hang 3:59
3. Regret 4:54
4. Purgatory 5:55
5. Paradise 3:55
6. Inferno 7:53

Band members
Mida – vocals
Mohammadreza Rezaei – guitars, backing vocals
Khashayar Oveisi – guitars
Armin Afzali – bass
Mohammad Mirboland – drums

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Album Review – Ezerath / Overture: The Heir Apparent (2017)

In the vast land known as Ezerath, the impending death of a king becomes first-class Progressive Death Metal through the hands of a talented Canadian multi-instrumentalist.

Before you start listening to Overture: The Heir Apparent, the debut full-length album by Canadian Progressive Death Metal act Ezerath, let me tell you that not only this is a one-man project where multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Vocino-Montpetit was responsible for recording all vocal parts (except of course for the female vocals by guest singer Felicia Weinmann) as well as all other instruments and programming, but the album also took three full years to be released between writing, learning how to sing, and learning how to mix and master. In other words, what Jeremy is offering the world of heavy music with his Ezerath is the perfect example of how talent, hard work and a good dosage of creativity, when properly combined, always result in sheer amusement for our ears and minds.

Formed in 2016 in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Ezerath is a project highly recommended for fans of the music by Behemoth, Opeth, Nile, Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath and several other bands that know how to unite extreme music with a gripping concept. Yes, Overture: The Heir Apparent is not just another regular metal album, bringing a full-bodied storyline in the background to support the music. The entire album, which by the way features an elegant artwork by Caelan Stokkermans (from Caelan Stokkermans Arts), is a first person narrative, depicting the thoughts of several main characters immediately before the death of Alton Nayan, the King of Gnara residing in Stonegate Castle, located in the vast land known as Ezerath.

The intro to the opening track, the flammable Temple of the Forsaken, feels like we’re watching a movie or reading a novel, which in the end is Jeremy’s main goal with the album, before he begins blasting a very intricate and melodic form of Death Metal. Furthermore, the destruction crafted by Jeremy is boosted by the song’s atmospheric background, not to mention how he effectively tells the story through his evil gnarls. A Heart, an Eye, and a Womb, an instant sequel to the opening track, begins in an ominous way with a dark narrative by Jeremy, with the demonic guitars and beats giving it a more menacing pace, but of course always bringing a lot of progressiveness (one of the main characteristics found in the music by Ezerath).

And the tale goes on with another blast of Progressive Death Metal titled Whispers of Ruin, where the intricacy found in the guitars and drums matches perfectly the eerie ambient sounds, feeling more epic and obscure than its predecessors and smoothly flowing into a complex and beautiful ending. Then we have In a Gale of Inferno, presenting an acoustic intro accompanied by choir-like sounds and the pleasant vocals by Felicia, evolving into another bold composition that nicely blends the aggressiveness of Death Metal with the storytelling and melodic elements of Progressive Metal, consequently becoming one of the top moments of the album; followed by Hand of a Serth, showcasing a much heavier and darker start as well as a great combination of slashing riffs, blast beats and deep guttural vocals, flirting with Black Metal at times due to its ferocity and speed. Moreover, even amidst so much carnage you’ll find very harmonious and gentle guitar lines and the pleasant clean vocals by Felicia, enhancing the song’s overall taste even more.

The story is almost coming to its end to the sound of acoustic guitars, wicked sounds and the demonic growls by Jeremy in The Sound of Knell, this time offering a more symphonic form of Death Metal by bringing elements from the music by Dimmu Borgir and Emperor, definitely feeling like the soundtrack to an epic movie, before we face Eternally Mine, the climatic conclusion to Overture. Its intro sounds even more movie-inspired than what we can find in all previous songs, also presenting an eccentric sonority boosted by Jeremy’s obscure guitar riffs and solos, as well as his rhythmic beats and whimsical keys, gradually moving towards a melancholic ending to the gentle sound of the piano.

The land of Ezerath, conceptualized and brought into being by Jeremy through his music, can be better appreciated on his Facebook page and YouTube channel, where you can by the way listen to the album in its entirety. Overture: The Heir Apparent, available for purchase on CreatespaceBandCamp, iTunes or Amazon, is not only a fantastic album of Progressive Death Metal with a solid concept supporting the music, as aforementioned, but also a small sample of what Jeremy is capable of providing to the world of heavy music if he receives proper support from fans like us, the media and record labels, or in other words, it’s up to us to help Jeremy keep Ezerath alive and prosper for many years to come. If you’re an admirer of technical and flammable Death Metal, I’m more than sure you’ll show your support and respect for Ezerath, getting lost in those lands where the imminent death of a king was amazingly transformed into first-class metal music.

Best moments of the album: Temple of the Forsaken, In a Gale of Inferno and Hand of a Serth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Temple of the Forsaken 7:12
2. A Heart, an Eye, and a Womb 6:12
3. Whispers of Ruin 5:44
4. In a Gale of Inferno 5:46
5. Hand of a Serth 7:54
6. The Sound of Knell 7:03
7. Eternally Mine 6:49

Band members
Jeremy Vocino-Montpetit – vocals, guitar, programming

Guest musician
Felicia Weinmann – female vocals