Album Review – Graveyard Strippers / Crawling (2017)

This creepy Canadian quartet brings to you the perfect soundtrack to your next party, an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal with elements from rock, pop and electronic music.

A phoenix reborn from its ashes. That’s how Canadian Industrial Metal critters Graveyard Strippers call themselves, being born in Montreal, Quebec in 2013 with guitarist Riff (Projekt F), vocalist Holy Decay (Gotherfall, Magnum Stallion) and bassist Carl Puzzle (Sade Slavey). Since their creation, Graveyard Strippers recorded three excellent EP’s, those being Burn My Soul in 2013, Free The Monsters in 2015, which was by the way when the band recruited Dany Burton (Projekt F) as their new permanent drummer, and Burn The Monsters in 2016, culminating with the release of their first ever full-length spawn, the idiosyncratic and rousing Crawling, now in 2017.

The music by Graveyard Strippers might be considered an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal, spiced up by hints of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and even electronic and pop music. And let me tell you that those four rockers do it almost to perfection, sounding at the same time sexy and gruesome, gentle and aggressive, straightforward and progressive. You’ll notice that each one of the twelve songs featured in Crawling, which by the way portrays a fantastic artwork by renowned Canadian illustrator Felix LaFlamme, are independent from each other, presenting a unique sonority, but that they need each other for the whole album to make sense to your ears. Well, as you can see it’s not an easy task to summarize the work by Graveyard Strippers in just a few lines, and that’s why I recommend you hit play and enjoy their industrialized and sensual sounds in your own way.

The eerie and dark intro Filth invites us to the demented world ruled by Graveyard Strippers, before an industrial and metallic feast begins in full force with Broken, a song highly recommended for fans of Rammstein and Ministry where Holy Decay bursts his lungs by screaming in an insane and rabid way. After that frantic hurricane of industrialized sounds the bands offers us a more melodic tune titled Pretty, blending Gothic and Industrial Rock with elements from Neue Deutsche Härte. Moreover, Riff lives up to his monicker by delivering truly catchy riffs, while Dany keeps the song’s pace and speed at a very pleasant level with his precise beats. And then we have the title-track Crawling, which begins in a dark 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal-inspired way, gradually evolving into an imposing musicality led by the deep and lunatic vocals by Holy Decay, remaining vibrant until its climatic ending.

Featuring the seductive Natasha Nebula as guest vocalist, Freak Show sounds a lot more mechanized and sexier than its predecessors, presenting the darkest and most depraved form of Industrial Metal you can think of. In addition to that, Riff and Dany do a great job with their samples and electronic sounds, turning it into the perfect soundtrack for a real-life freak show. And if you think that after such amazing song you’ll be free from Natasha’s devilish voice, you’re absolutely wrong, as she’s back with the band in Deadsex, an ominous blast of Neue Deutsche Härte with Gothic Rock where the deranged screams by Holy Decay create a gripping paradox with the smoother but still diabolical moans by Natasha, not to mention the song’s first-class official video which perfectly epitomizes what Graveyard Strippers are all about. The “piercing assembly line from hell” titled Apocalypse Now brings forward another eccentric intro that morphs into a fantastic Industrial Metal extravaganza, showcasing rabid growls mixed with heavy-as-hell riffs and tons of wicked elements in the background in what sounds as a hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Ministry; whereas their electronic vein arises stronger than ever in Walking Dead thanks to the excellent job done by Riff and Dany once again, while Carl Puzzle adds his share of heaviness to the song with his sick bass lines, keeping the album at a high level of eccentricity.

Savior is another modern Industrial Metal composition led by the somber vocals by Holy Decay, despite not feeling as crushing and vibrant as the rest of the album, sounding a bit repetitive at times. On the other hand, Krash This Up is one of the weirdest and most fun creations by this talented quartet that should work really well if played live. Dany is simply amazing with his beats, being flawlessly accompanied by the rest of the band during the song’s two minutes of insanity. Then in King Me the band gives a lesson in how to blend Industrial Metal with Punk Rock, offering the listener a neck-breaking, electrified tune where Riff steals the show with his sensational guitar lines. Needless to say, this is another serious candidate to be part of their live performances. And lastly, madness takes control of the band in the closing tune of the album, named Serial Killer, where symphonic elements from Gothic Metal are added to create an even crazier atmosphere. Furthermore, Holy Decay sounds like a demonic entity with his Stygian gnarls, while Riff and Carl keep bringing thunder to the musicality in this top-notch ending to such electrified album.

The somber and bewitching realm of Graveyard Strippers can be further explored through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can listen to and buy Crawling on Spotify, at their own BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon or at the Onkyo Music webstore. Let’s say that, if you were desperately looking for the best and darkest soundtrack to your next Halloween, Gothic, Dark Electro or any other type of party not recommended for the ordinary person, I believe your hunt is finally over, as Graveyard Strippers are more than ready to put you and your guests into a lustful and mechanized trance with the high-end music found in Crawling.

Best moments of the album: Broken, Freak Show, Apocalypse Now and Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: Savior.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Filth 1:04
2. Broken 3:09
3. Pretty 3:40
4. Crawling 4:08
5. Freak Show (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:29
6. Deadsex (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:51
7. Apocalypse Now 4:07
8. Walking Dead 3:50
9. Savior 4:02
10. Krash This Up 2:07
11. King Me 2:46
12. Serial Killer 4:48

Band members
Holy Decay – vocals
Riff – guitars, programming, backing vocals
Carl Puzzle – bass, backing vocals
Dany Burton – drums, programming, backing vocals

Guest musician
Natasha Nebula – female vocals on “Freak Show” and “Deadsex”

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Album Review – Droid / Terrestrial Mutations (2017)

An extraterrestrial three-pronged sonic organism has just landed in Canada, bringing new sounds of degradation and alienation to all admirers of the more technical and progressive versions of Thrash Metal.

In the city of Brampton, located in the peripheral suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, resides a three-pronged sonic organism known as Droid. Though conceived in 2012, it has been the amalgamation of years of shows, rehearsing and writing that has led to the fully realized aural representation of their efforts in their 2017 debut album, titled Terrestrial Mutations. And this Canadian Sci-Fi Thrash Metal entity is more than ready to present to fans of renowned acts such as Voivod, Megadeth, Annihilator and Anthrax, among many other bands known for blending aggressiveness and dexterity in a compelling way, an amazing alternative in the world of underground thrash.

Since their inception, Droid already released the demo Malfunction, in 2013, and an untitled promo in 2014, followed by the six-track EP Disconnected, in 2015, but it’s with Terrestrial Mutations that the power trio comprised of Jacob Montgomery on vocals and guitar, Chris Riley on bass and Sebastian Alcamo on drums reached a much higher level of speed and harmony, bringing new sounds of degradation and alienation to all admirers of the more technical and progressive versions of Thrash Metal. However, if you’re a fan of old school thrash, don’t think that they’ll sound too modern for your ears, as they always keep their sonority deeply inspired by the foundations of the genre.

For instance, the piercing guitar sounds by Jacob welcome the listener to the Sci-Fi world of Droid in the opening track Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows), where the band delivers old school Thrash Metal with Sebastian pounding his drums mercilessly throughout the entire song. In Suspended Animation, we face lots of groove flowing from the guitar by Jacob and the bass by Chris, bringing those “dancing and slamming” elements from the music by Suicidal Tendencies as well as lyrics that couldn’t sound more thrashier than this (“Cold saline injected / straight through the heart / drained of blood given / hours to restart”); whereas in Abandoned Celestial State we’re treated to a fast and groovy start with a Blues-ish vibe led by Sebastian with his beats, generating a fun and interesting ambience for Jacob to declaim the song’s lyrics in a rabid manner. In a nutshell, this excellent tune offers the listener a well-balanced mix of Thrash and Groove Metal, and just like a Sci-Fi movie it follows a “script”, ending in a dark and somewhat apocalyptic way.

The title-track Terrestrial Mutation brings forward almost 10 minutes of 80’s-inspired Thrash Metal, starting with a somber, eerie intro before Jacob comes ripping with his riffs until the musicality reaches a very melodic shape. However, the song loses its grip mainly due to its length, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of good stuff to enjoy such as the low-tuned metallic bass lines by Chris and the song’s more progressive pieces. Fortunately, a piano intro presents to the listener another harmonious and visceral creation by Droid, titled Pain Of Reincarnation, where Jacob, Chirs and Sebastian put all the potency of their instruments together to generate a truly exciting sounding, feeling like Thrash Metal with Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock elements, which turns it into one of the top moments of the album for sure. And in Temptations Of Terminal Progress the band fires an electrified feast of riffs, harsh and demented growls and pounding beats, also presenting interesting breaks and traditional thrashing lyrics (“The soothsayers learning / it’s best not to reveal what / he knew / the bones they are burning / for the means for the many / not the few”), morphing into a display of progressiveness mixed with elements from Blues and Jazz at times.

The rumbling bass lines by Chris and the fierce beats by Sebastian dictate the rhythm in the high-octane and electrifying tune Cosmic Debt, an old school Thrash Metal chant that will certainly ignite some good circle pits with highlights to the deranged vocals by Jacob à la Paul Baloff; followed by Excommunicated, a lot slower than its predecessors but still heavy and groovy, with Jacob delivering some cutting guitar riffs while Sebastian keeps smashing his drums effectively. The song never really takes off though, falling flat after a while, but at least the closing song, Mission Drift, with its over 10 minutes of music, showcases all the band’s passion for progressive and heavy sounds, with the bass punches by Chris sounding truly awesome. This is the perfect depiction of Progressive Thrash Metal, bringing intricate guitars and drums, and obviously keeping the stamina and complexity at a very high level until it fades into a somber, wicked conclusion.

The extraterrestrial thrashers from Droid can be better examined at their Facebook page, while Terrestrial Mutations can be purchased at their own BandCamp page, at the Nightbreaker Productions webshop, at the Hells Headbangers webshop, at the Temple of Mistery Records webshop, or at Discogs. As you can see, the music by Droid truly exists and is easy to find (as opposed to ETs), so if I were you I would support such promising power trio by buying their album, in order to ensure their future endeavors become a reality and keep their Sci-Fi soundings as thunderous as possible, piercing our metallic minds.

Best moments of the album: Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows), Abandoned Celestial State, Pain Of Reincarnation and Cosmic Debt.

Worst moments of the album: Terrestrial Mutation and Excommunicated.

Released in 2017 Nightbreaker Productions

Track listing
1. Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows) 4:58
2. Suspended Animation 3:26
3. Abandoned Celestial State 7:30
4. Terrestrial Mutation 9:56
5. Pain Of Reincarnation 6:36
6. Temptations Of Terminal Progress 8:00
7. Cosmic Debt 4:10
8. Excommunicated 6:45
9. Mission Drift 10:43

Band members
Jacob Montgomery – vocals, guitar
Chris Riley – bass
Sebastian Alcamo – drums

Concert Review – Blaze Bayley (The Rockpile, Toronto, ON, 08/19/2017)

A journey through the past, present and future in the career of the unstoppable Blaze Bayley in the form of first-class Heavy Metal for his diehard fans in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Cadillac Blood

I’ll never understand why people who call themselves diehard metalheads would miss a chance to attend a top-notch Heavy Metal concert like what we had this Saturday at the really nice venue The Rockpile, which despite being usually referred as located in Toronto, technically speaking it’s in Etobicoke, an administrative district and former city that makes up the western part of the city of Toronto, around 18km from downtown. The weather was perfect, the beer was nice and cold, the food was great and all prices were very, very reasonable (including the ticket price). And those so-called fans of heavy music keep complaining on Facebook, Twitter etc. that metal doesn’t have the proper support and all those shenanigans. How about instead of just typing, you get up from that couch, head to a place like The Rockpile and support underground metal?

If you do that, perhaps you’ll face an electrifying band like the young and restless thrashers from CADILLAC BLOOD, a completely independent act from Keswick, Ontario, located 70km north of Toronto. Blending elements from Thrash Metal, Punk Rock and Rock N’ Roll in their music, and being clearly inspired by bands such as Volbeat (by the way, the band’s name comes from Volbeat’s classic album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood if you haven’t noticed yet), Metallica, Motörhead and Anthrax, the quartet comprised of Luke Morrell on vocals, Tyler Morrell on guitar, Sean Murphy on bass and Dean Fraser on drums delivered an excellent warmup to the fans that were there for Blaze Bayley, being extremely professional and excited from start to finish, in special Luke who didn’t stop jumping and headbanging for a single second while singing at the same time. Unfortunately I don’t have their full setlist, but you can go to their BandCamp page and check out songs like Crow’s Nest and Devil’s Brew, both played by the band on Saturday.

Band members
Luke Morrell – vocals
Tyler Morrell – guitar
Sean Murphy – bass
Dean Fraser – drums

BLAZE BAYLEY

When it was time for the unstoppable BLAZE BAYLEY to hit the stage with his Endure and Survive World Tour 2017, at around 10:30pm, The Rockpile was not even half full, maybe due to lack of better promotion or because the pub was a bit far for fans who rely on public transportation to move around, but I think those are just excuses for our society’s growing laziness to do anything that’s not online. Blaze deserved a much bigger crowd (he even joked it was his fault, as he asked that only true metalheads attended his concert), as he’s been doing superior music being totally independent, with very little support from anyone but himself and his bandmates. His music is powerful and vibrant, his lyrics are poetic and meaningful, and his energy on stage is simply fantastic. What else do you need in a metal concert?

Anyway, the brave fans who were at The Rockpile had the absolute pleasure of witnessing an amazing performance by Blaze and his amazing band formed by the talented Chris Appleton on guitars and backing vocals, Karl Schramm on bass and backing vocals, and Martin McNee on drums, who are not only the guys who recorded the first two parts of the kick-ass Infinite Entanglement trilogy with Blaze, the 2016 album Infinite Entanglement and the 2017 follow-up Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II), but who are also three quarters of British Heavy Metal act Absolva, a great underground band highly recommended for lovers of old school metal music.

When Blaze was in Toronto for the last time, at the now defunct Hard Rock Café in 2014, he was supported by a Canadian Iron Maiden cover group named Maiden Quebec, and although they were a very good band, Blaze’s performance was somewhat hampered by their lack of chemistry. Fortunately for the fans at The Rockpile this Saturday, Blaze and the guys from Absolva were in perfect sync, a reflection of their years working together, delivering to the crowd a top-notch setlist encompassing the best of Blaze’s past, present, and even future (if you think of Infinite Entanglement as an evolving project), playing simply the best songs from Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden and his unparalleled solo career. From the very first notes of the inspiring Endure and Survive, to the speed and violence of Blood, Dark Energy 256 and Man on the Edge (see his intro video to this all-time classic HERE), and the epicness of The Clansman, their performance was flawless.

As I mentioned before, Blaze is a metal poet, and there was always a reason for a song to be inserted in his setlist, always bringing a powerful message to the fans who were singing along all lyrics with Blaze. For instance, his speech about how we all fail and how we all must stand up from our failures and fight our fears again and again in Fight Back, from his latest album, only shows how much he loves what he does and how much he’s passionate about Heavy Metal, as well as how he said us fans are his “home” in the emotional Calling You Home. Of course there was also room for lighter topics, like when he explained the origins of Wolfsbane and how we all would feel “sexier” after screaming the words “man hunt” during Wolfsbane’s biggest hit Man Hunt. By the way, the “duel” between Blaze and the rest of the band during this song was awesome, with Chris and Karl stealing the show with their refined techniques. Blaze made sure he acknowledged the undeniable talent of Chris not only as a guitarist, but also as a songwriter and producer, something we can easily see through his work with both Absolva and Blaze Bayley.

After the last song of the setlist, A Thousand Years (my favorite track from Infinite Entanglement), Blaze and the guys stayed at the venue for a free autograph and photo session with their fans, not charging a single penny as most band do nowadays with their “meet & greet experiences”, as a sign of his respect and admiration for us, supporters of independent music. All band members were very nice and courteous with everyone, talking about their tour across Canada and the US, their plans for the future and other topics. And all true metal fans who attended the concert on Saturday went back home with a huge smile on their faces, something that happens every single time you see a concert by the metal warrior Blaze Bayley. As simple as that.

Setlist
Endure and Survive
Escape Velocity
Futureal
Blood
Silicon Messiah
Fight Back
Virus
Calling You Home
Stare at the Sun
The Clansman
Man Hunt
Man on the Edge
Dark Energy 256
Lord of the Flies
A Thousand Years

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums

Album Review – Mongol / Warrior Spirit EP (2017)

Paying homage to the hordes of the ancient Mongolian empire by blending heavy, melodic riffs with an array of folk instruments and Asian harmonies, raise your fists to this idiosyncratic six-piece Canadian Folk Metal squad.

Forged in 2009 in the frozen bowels of Edmonton, Alberta, more specifically in the city of Devon, situated 26km southwest of Edmonton and located along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, Canadian Folk Metal act Mongol has continuously paid homage to the hordes of the ancient Mongolian empire, blending heavy, melodic riffs with an array of folk instruments and Asian harmonies, wielding a sound as diverse as the nations their historical influences conquered. Their unique sound has taken them on many exciting journeys, including co-headlining Noise Metal Fest, Mongolia’s first international metal festival, alongside Folk Metal icons Nine Treasures in 2014, as well as sharing the stage with renowned bands like Arkona, Kalmah, Nekrogoblikon and Havok, among others.

Since their genesis almost a decade ago, Mongol released the EP Leisurely Destruktion, in 2010, followed by the full-length albums The Altan Urug, in 2012, and Chosen by Tengri, in 2014. Now in 2017 those Mongolian warriors are back in action with a brand new EP titled Warrior Spirit, featuring three original compositions that, as expected, bring forward the band’s trademark sonority in honor of the Mongolian empire, all enfolded by a minimalist but impactful album artwork by Eric Dieterich, from Soloman Media. Warrior Spirit might be short in duration, with only around 19 minutes of music, but that’s more than enough for this idiosyncratic Canadian sextet to show how passionate they are about the “Land of the Blue Sky” and its history.

Mongol’s epic and warlike Folk Metal invades our ears from the very first second of the opening track of the EP, the excellent The Mountain Weeps, with bassist Sorkhon Sharr kicking ass with his low-tuned punches while frontman Tev Tegri leads his horde of Mongolian warriors with his potent vocals, effectively transmitting the strength of the song’s lyrics to the listener (“Like the mighty blade of the Gods reaching on to the Welkin, / and piercing our world as it guides our way to Heaven / Pilgrimage of kings, the mountains sing / somber songs of conflicts long untold”). Not only that, the folk sounds and noises by lead guitarist Zev are the icing on the cake in this Canadian Folk Metal hymn, while Bourchi showcases all his versatility by blasting rhythmic and progressive sounds mixed with fast-paced beats throughout the song’s six intense minutes.

With a traditional folk intro and a fighting atmosphere, River Child is absolutely perfect for prancing around a fire pit while drinking a cold beer with your comrades. The deep growls by Tev Tegri together with the fierce, accelerated guitars by Zev and Zelme set this awesome Folk Metal chant on fire, not to mention the song’s inspiring guitar solos, the furious drumming by Bourchi and its beyond catchy chorus, tailored for singing along with the band while slamming into the pit at the same time (“River child, wild and free / Come my brothers, and soon you will see / Grace of the faun and cunning of the hound / No one knows where the child is bound”). In the third and lats song of the EP, titled Warband, thunderous bass and drums dictate the rhythm while keyboardist Sche-Khe crafts an amazing background with his sharp notes. Furthermore, Tev Tegri keeps growling like a Mongolian warrior, giving life to another chorus that will enliven you for battle (“With rising glory, we find ourselves / Far away from the East. / We are nomads, we hold no home / We are War band, the Golden Horde.”), supported by all folk elements added to the musicality by Zev to spice up the final result.

You can have a very tasteful preview of the whole EP by clicking HERE, or listen to it in its entirety on Spotify. The unrelenting squad Mongol, who can be found on Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud, has been doing a sensational job paying tribute to the Mongolian empire through their well-crafted metal music, and it looks like they’ll keep raising that flag high with their future releases based on the music found in  Warrior Spirit, which can be purchased through their own BandCamp page, as well as on iTunesAmazon or CD Baby. Genghis Khan once said that “a man’s greatest joy is crushing his enemies”, but I believe that in the case of Mongol, despite all their admiration for the ations taken by the Mongolian empire, their biggest joy is to keep generating thrilling metal music for us metalheads.

Best moments of the album: River Child.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Mountain Weeps 5:50
2. River Child 5:14
3. Warband 7:05

Band members
Tev Tegri – vocals
Zev – lead guitar, vocals, folk instrumentation
Zelme – rhythm guitar
Sorkhon Sharr – bass
Sche-Khe – keyboards
Bourchi – drums

Album Review – Olde / Temple (2017)

Putting society and personality in its crosshairs, attacking the traits that make people hide behind various masks in order to survive, here comes a Canadian Doom Metal brigade ready to crush our skulls with their heavy-as-hell new album.

Inspired by a recording session with long-time Stoner Metal stalwarts Sons of Otis, guitarist and producer Greg Dawson (Cunter, Grift, BWC Studios) began to handpick and assemble Canadian Doom/Stoner Metal brigade Olde, emphasizing a powerful and economic approach to doom music. Enlisting the help of drummer Ryan Aubin (Sons of Otis), bassist Cory McCallum (Five Knuckle Chuckle), guitarist Chris “Hippy” Hughes (Moneen) and vocalist Doug McLarty (Jaww), this Malton-based band began to take form, releasing their debut full-length album simply titled I, in 2014, followed by the EP Shallow Graves, in 2016.

Always true to their heavy, bludgeoning roots, Olde are back in 2017 with a brand new full-length instalment, the pungent and resonant Temple, an album where Olde put society and personality in its crosshairs, attacking the traits that make people hide behind various masks in order to survive, and how the ranks of the disguised, with their ulterior motives, aren’t exacting worried about the average Joe in their quest for self-preservation and “progress”. Olde’s sound has also grown since the band’s inception, encompassing more abstraction and harmony, whilst never forgetting to bludgeon their fans, as needed, with riff after riff, driven by the sophisticated-caveman drums of Aubin and the harsh, yet always clear, vocals of lyricist McLarty. Featuring an eye-catching artwork by Joshua Wilkinson, Temple will undoubtedly punch you in the face with all its doomed strength, like it or not.

Heavy, sluggish and thunderous from the very first second thanks to the amazing stringed trio comprised of Chris, Greg and Cory, the opening track Subterfuge is an excellent Doom and Stoner Metal composition, bringing the best elements of both genres to our avid ears, but it’s when Doug begins vociferating the lyrics that things get really dark and serious (“The blood you seek is out there, / On the frayed edges of town / Just point your boots, and follow… / Your rotten heart”). Ryan kicks off the following tune, the obscure Now I See You, with his pounding, damned beats, before Doug offers more of his grumpy and raspy vocals perfect for the music being played. Furthermore, I love when it’s possible to listen to those metallic bass punches like the ones blasted by Cory due to the album’s crisp production, but of course without losing the band’s amazing rawness. Also, if I were you, I would check Olde playing this excellent song at the NP music studio for the National Post Sessions, in order to fully enjoy the band’s catchy sonority and refined technique.

The Ghost Narrative is an excellent depiction of the most sluggish and deranged form of Stoner Metal, where Chris and Greg are kicking ass on guitars with their riffs and solos in an overdose of heaviness flowing from all instruments, which is also present in Doug’s enraged vocals; followed by the title-track Temple, the longest of all songs, starting in a somber manner through the bass sounds crafted by Cory and quickly morphing into a neck-breaking Sludge and Stoner Metal hymn. Its hostile sounding, led by the beats by Ryan, only gets more belligerent when joined by the vocals by Doug, hitting you hard and mercilessly until its dark ending. And increasing their aggressiveness and speed, Centrifugal Disaster presents modern and poetic lyrics (“The world heaves under the weight of our existence / A population siphoned from, stretched beyond all reason / Exploit everything for a fraction of what it’s worth / Rallying cry of modern Man: / Give me convenience, or give me Death”), piercing guitars and rumbling bass lines boosted by the intricate drumming by Ryan, culminating in a Stoner Metal extravaganza highly recommended for fans of the genre.

Bringing hints of Southern Rock and old school Rock N’ Roll, Maelstrom reminds me of some of the classic tunes by Down, with highlights to the excellent job done once again by Chris and Greg on guitars. Put differently, this is a song perfect for enjoying a cold beer and banging your head vigorously together with the band, presenting an excellent guitar solo at the end as the icing on the cake. And lastly, closing the album Olde brings forward an ode to darkness titled Castaway, reaching deep into our most deviant thoughts. This low-tuned and slow composition is led by the potent drumming by Ryan and the rabid, deep growls by Doug, while the rest of the band makes sure the atmosphere remains as cold-hearted, gloomy and unhappy as possible.

You can always keep up to date with everything Olde are doing, including their tour dates (especially if you live in the Greater Toronto Area), by following them on Facebook, and purchase your copy of Temple through their BandCamp page, the STB Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or the Medusa Crush Recordings’ BandCamp page. Temple is not only a top-notch album of Stoner and Doom Metal made in Canada, but it also cements Olde’s name in the Canadian independent scene, opening the doors for the band to reach new heights and to properly explore new markets in a not-so-distant future, like the United States and the UK, where their music style is extremely appreciated. And, of course, to support Olde in their mission to crush everyone’s head with their heavy-as-hell damned music wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Subterfuge, Now I See You and Centrifugal Disaster.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 STB Records/Medusa Crush Recordings

Track listing
1. Subterfuge 4:06
2. Now I See You 4:27
3. The Ghost Narrative 4:17
4. Temple 7:48
5. Centrifugal Disaster 5:04
6. Maelstrom 6:16
7. Castaway 7:05

Band members
Doug McLarty – vocals
Chris Hughes – guitars
Greg Dawson – guitars
Cory McCallum – bass
Ryan Aubin – drums, guitar solo on “Maelstrom”

Guest musician
Simon Talevski – guitar solo on “Castaway”

 

Album Review – Floating Widget / The Sounds of Earth EP (2017)

One of the most celebrated bands from the Canadian independent scene is finally back in action after 13 years with an electrifying EP of old school Stoner Rock and Metal.

One of the most celebrated bands from the independent rock and metal scene from Montreal is finally back in action after 13 years with brand new material and the same rebellious attitude that made then famous among the Québécois fans of alternative music. I’m talking about Stoner Rock/Metal druids Floating Widget, who are ready to crush with their new EP The Sounds of Earth, their first original release since their 2004 debut album Praises To The Riff Monolith and a lesson in how our good old Rock N’ Roll sounds even better when the right amount of extra heaviness, speed and groove is added to the music.

Formed by vocalist and bassist Vincent Peake, who’s also the founder of the first Alternative Rock band in Quebec called Groovy Aardvark (which existed between 1986 and 2005) and who also played with bands such as GrimSkunk, Sabbath Café and even Voivod, Floating Widget are more than ready to regain their momentum with The Sounds of Earth, playing in the renowned Montebello RockFest this year with Queens of the Stone Age, Rammstein, At the Drive In, The Offspring, and many other bands, and there’s no secret formula for the band receiving all that love from the underground scene. Featuring a classy artwork displaying a “ceramic astronaut” by artist Brett Kern, The Sounds Of Earth exhales pure Stoner Rock and Rock N’ Roll, getting straight to the point without any shenanigans or artificial elements.

Vicent and his crew don’t waste a single second and begin blasting piercing Rock N’ Roll that will put everyone to dance in the opening track Rock & Roll Jubilee, just like in its official video, with guitarists Alex Leclerc and Stéphane Vigeant exhaling pure electricity through their metallic strings. And their guitars ignite another rockin’ chant, titled Psy Walker, with Vicent not only delivering awesome harsh vocals but also thunderous and groovy bass punches, while Matt Demon makes everything more rhythmic and appealing with his beats. Matt keeps the momentum going by kicking off the Stoner Rock tune I Am the Temple, with hints of Rockabilly and Hard Rock added to its upbeat rhythm, also showcasing another great performance by Vincent on vocals, as well as the perfect sync between Alex and Stéphane with their riffs.

Groovier and more melodic, Albatross (Nobody Loves an) is a solid Stoner Rock and Metal chant with a Blues-ish twist where Matt delivers some traditional, steady and sluggish beats while Vincent tells one of those fun, odd stories only found in this type of music. In other words, this is a song highly recommended for banging your head while enjoying a cold beer during the band’s live performances. And lastly, featuring the iconic Snake from Voivod as a guest vocalist, we have the very rhythmic and modern Stoner Metal tune Spiderzilla closing the EP on a high note, with longtime friends Vincent and Snake making a great vocal duo (which ends up enhancing the song’s taste even more), not to mention Vincent’s low-tuned rumbling bass.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 13 years for Floating Widget to release new material, because based on the amazing quality of the music found in The Sounds of Earth (which can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify), Vincent and his crew have all it takes to quickly reclaim their status as one of the most electrifying names in the underground rock and metal scene hailing from Quebec, and to remain sitting in their throne of Rock N’ Roll for many years to come. And if you live in Quebec or by any chance are going to visit the province anytime soon, keep an eye on their Facebook page for their live dates and all things Floating Widget. You can purchase The Sounds of Earth in digital format through the band’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon, as well as the cassette version through the GBS Records’ BandCamp page, with this version bringing on its second side 19 minutes of the famous recordings named “Sounds Of Earth” that NASA sent into space aboard Voyager 1 in 1977.

Best moments of the album: Rock & Roll Jubilee and I Am the Temple.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing 
1. Rock & Roll Jubilee 2:52
2. Psy Walker 3:16
3. I Am the Temple 3:26
4. Albatross (Nobody Loves an) 4:05
5. Spiderzilla (feat. Snake) 2:40

Band members
Vincent Peake – vocals, bass
Alex Leclerc – guitar
Stéphane Vigeant – guitar
Matt Demon – drums

Guest musician
Snake – additional vocals on “Spiderzilla”

Album Review – Karkaos / Children Of The Void (2017)

As we’re all the children of the void, let’s raise our horns and bang our heads to the superb new album by one of the most reputable and celebrated metal acts hailing from the beautiful province of Quebec.

Founded by guitarist Vincent Harnois in the year of 2003 under the name Sinister Vengeance, Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore outfit Karkaos soon evolved into one of the most reputable and celebrated metal acts hailing from the stunning city of Montreal, located in the province of Quebec, in Canada. Melodic yet heavy, this unstoppable female-fronted band is unleashing upon the earth their brand new full-length installment, titled Children Of The Void, which features new frontwoman Viky Boyer, drummer Justine Ethier (Blackguard) and lead guitarist Samael Pelletier (Aeon’s Fall), and let me tell you that all these lineup changes were extremely positive to the band and to their sound, especially if you’re a fan of the music by bands such as Epica, In Flames, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth.

Featuring an elegant artwork by the immensely talented Colombian artist and designer Marcela Bolívar, as well as collaborations with guest artists Lindsay Schoolcraft from Cradle of Filth and Morgan Lander from Kittie, Children Of The Void offers the listener a considerably different sonority from the band’s previous albums, the 2011 EP In Burning Skies and the 2014 full-length release Empire, sounding more symphonic, imposing and polished than before. “We have been working hard for a long time to be able to give you an album that combines beautiful melodies to our own symphonic signature, groovy and brutal riffs to intensity as well as catchy choruses”, comments the band’s mastermind Vincent about Children Of The Void, and let’s say his “summary” of the album was spot-on to depict all the beauty and aggressiveness found in its 12 amazing compositions.

The cinematic intro Babel leads us to the symphonic and metallic world of Karkaos before the explosive Skymaster hits us with heaviness and might from its very first second in a perfect fusion of the music played by Arch Enemy with Dimmu Borgir and Nightwish. Furthermore, pay attention to the precision of Justine behind her drums and to the song’s powerful chorus (“All hope is gone, I scream at heavens / This is not yet the end! / Brothers and sisters moan, I howl / Truth will prevail!”), as well as to the amazing Viky, who steals the show with her superb vocal performance. The following tune, Kolossòs, is a song tailored for breaking your neck in half due to the passionate vocals by Viky, its thunderous riffs and bass lines, and the infinite epicness that permeates the atmosphere. This is a newborn underground Melodic Death Metal classic showcasing mighty lyrics (“Kolossòs! The earth has spoken! / To the sun, you were reaching! / Kolossòs! The earth has shaken! / On the ground eternally, you’ll be laying!”) and the awesome guest vocals by Kittie’s Morgan Lander, as previously mentioned.

Let The Curtains Fall ventures through the realms of Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir, but with a more melodic twist thanks to the potent keys by Sébastien Belanger-Lapierre while Vincent and Samael add their share of heaviness to the overall musicality; whereas Pale, one of the fastest and heaviest of all songs, is a brutal composition by Karkaos where the colorful-haired Viky is absolutely on fire while the other band members deliver amazing metal music, in special Justine with her potent beats and once again Sébastien and his cinematic keyboards. And their onrush of epicness goes on in the title-track Children of the Void, which will inspire you for some intense headbanging due to its accelerated pace, with Vincent, Samael and bassist Eddy Levitsky (who recently left the band) blasting sheer electricity through their strings, all spearheaded by the unstoppable Justine.

Then it’s time for Rêverie, an epic bridge that rises in intensity and mystery until it reaches the form of the sensational Tyrants, a first-class Melodic Death Metal hymn with tons of symphonic elements to increase its obscurity and potency flawlessly delivered by all band members, with Viky beautifully growling like a she-demon, not to mention her also amazing clean vocals during the more melodic parts of the song.  And changing a bit their style and sonority, they offer a very interesting and gripping song named Where Mushrooms Grow, sounding very harmonious, melancholic and dense, perfect for singing along its catchy chorus with the band (“Fields of sorrow / Where mushrooms grow / All trees, all hollow / We reap what we sow / Fields of chaos / Where mushrooms grow / Fading as we cross / Forgetting what we know”). This is indeed a side of Karkaos I would love to see them exploring more in their future releases so captivating it sounds.

But the band obviously has more of their fast-paced metal to offer like what we see in Lightbearer, another solid composition showcasing beautiful vocal lines, thunderous riffs and bass lines and a rhythmic drumming. In my humble opinion, this song would sound simply superb with a full orchestra accompanying the band in the background, don’t you agree? Anyway, in The Beast, Vincent and Samael fire their cutting riffs while Sébastien is responsible for the epicness in the background, sounding highly inspired by contemporary Arch Enemy and The Agonist and also highlighting the excellent job done by Justine on drums, adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. Closing this amazing album of contemporary metal we have Bound by Stars, which sounds a bit generic and doesn’t keep up with the rest of the album, despite its purpose being to sound more complete and introspective than the other tracks. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to enjoy in the song, such as the perfect vocal lines by Viky and the powerful performances by Justine and Sébastien with their instruments.

If you also consider yourself a “child of the void”, you can join Karkaos in their quest for Melodic Death Metal by following them on Facebook, listening to their fiery music on YouTube, and buy Children Of The Void at their BandCamp page, on Amazon or on CD Baby. Children Of The Void is undoubtedly going to be among the best releases of 2017 not only in Canada but also worldwide, and the band more than deserves that due to their commitment to their work and passion for melodic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Kolossòs, Pale, Tyrants and Where Mushrooms Grow.

Worst moments of the album: Bound by Stars.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Babel 1:13
2. Skymaster 3:50
3. Kolossòs 4:32
4. Let The Curtains Fall 4:34
5. Pale 4:04
6. Children of the Void 4:45
7. Rêverie 0:59
8. Tyrants 4:26
9. Where Mushrooms Grow 4:19
10. Lightbearer 4:20
11. The Beast 4:20
12. Bound by Stars 6:49

Band members
Viky Boyer – lead vocals
Vincent Harnois – guitars, vocals
Samael Pelletier – lead guitars
Eddy Levitsky – bass
Sébastien Belanger-Lapierre – keyboards
Justine Ethier – drums

Guest musicians
Morgan Lander – additional vocals on “Kolossòs”
Lindsay Schoolcraft – backing vocals

Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 07/15/2017)

On a pleasant summer day in the city of Toronto, over 18,000 metalheads had a beautiful time screaming, singing, jumping up and down, raising their horns and “climbing like a monkey” to the flammable music by the unparalleled Iron Maiden.

OPENING ACT: Ghost

As opposed to last year’s Iron Maiden concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, when it was freaking cold and a snow blizzard covered the city and made driving a true nightmare, this Saturday the weather couldn’t be more perfect, with a temperature close to 30 degrees in a sunny day, resulting in another memorable night for all Maidenmaniacs that attended the concert at the always amazing Budweiser Stage (which used to be called Molson Canadian Amphitheatre). You could see in the eyes of the fans that everyone was in a great mood, probably because they spent the whole day getting ready for the concert, drinking beer, enjoying a nice BBQ or simply listening to Iron Maiden while getting tanned by the nice afternoon sun. And besides, everyone would have the whole Sunday to recover before returning to work on Monday (unless you were also seeing Metallica on Sunday, but that’s a different story).

It was around 7:30pm when the opening act hit the stage, Heavy Metal blue-eyed boys GHOST, who for some reason are deeply loved by most musicians, but not as much by fans of metal music. Even Metallica’s James Hetfield himself was at the venue watching the performance by Papa Emeritus III (also known as Tobias Forge) and his nameless ghouls. Anyway, this was my second time seeing Ghost, once again opening for Iron Maiden as in 2014 in the Czech Republic, and this time was way better than the first, I must admit. Papa Emeritus III was more dynamic on stage, more communicative and less “stuck” to the pope gimmick. A considerable amount of fans that were at the venue enjoyed their performance, singing together with the band songs like Ritual, Year Zero and Absolution, and as their performance wasn’t too long I guess not even the most diehard fan of Iron Maiden got bored with Ghost.

Setlist
Masked Ball (Jocelyn Pook song)
Square Hammer
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Ritual
Cirice
Year Zero
Absolution
Mummy Dust
Monstrance Clock

Band members
Papa Emeritus III (Tobias Forge) – vocals
Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists:

  • Fire – lead guitarist
  • Ether – rhythm guitarist
  • Water – bassist
  • Wind – keyboardist
  • Earth – drummer

IRON MAIDEN

Finally, after over one year (and another cold winter), it was time for Toronto to scream one more time for the one and only IRON MAIDEN, this time during their The Book Of Souls World Tour 2017, the second leg of their majestic tour promoting their 2015 masterpiece The Book Of Souls. The setlist was pretty much the same as last time, except for Tears of a Clown being replaced with The Great Unknown, and the saddest change of all time, Hallowed Be Thy Name being replaced with Wrathchild due to a legal dispute with retired rock band manager Barry McKay, who is taking Steve Harris and Dave Murray to court over the song. Barry claims Hallowed Be Thy Name reproduces major parts of a song titled “Lying in my Shadow”, written by musician Brian Quinn (under the name Brian Ingham), and because of that Iron Maiden couldn’t play one of their most beautiful and powerful classics during their 2017 tour.

That didn’t stop Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris & Co. to kick ass one more time on stage for the delight of over 18,000 metalheads at the Budweiser Stage, blasting as usual a well-balanced mix of old school songs and newer compositions. Fans were already pumped up during the classic “Doctor Doctor” intro, exploding into sheer ecstasy when Bruce appeared at the top of the band’s Mayan-inspired stage to ignite their “ritual” with the initial spoken words of their new classic If Eternity Should Fail. After that it was an avalanche of hits played to perfection with Bruce interacting with the crowd all the time, while Steve was unstoppable with his galloping bass and Janick seemed as if he was high on something so electric his performance was. And I guess I don’t need to say how awesome Adrian, Dave and Nicko were with their instruments, right? There was only one minor issue with Bruceç mic, which kept failing a little once in a while, but nothing that could harm such sensational concert.

In my humble opinion, the best sequence of the night started with the classic Children of the Damned, where Bruce gave his already traditional speech about most of the fans not being born when the song was written and, for the ones born in 83 or 84, they might be the true “children of the damned”, conceived when the song was written in 82 (as Bruce mentioned, your parents had sex at least once in their lives!). After such stylish composition, the band invited all of us to fly with them and “fight” the Red Baron in the high-octane Death or Glory, with Bruce and his monkey mask enticing us to “climb like a monkey”, a fun move he started last year that became sort of mandatory every time they play this song. And the stunning sequel went on with the 13-minute hymn The Red and the Black, with all fans jumping up and down and singing the “Oh-oh oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh oh-oh-oh!” parts along with Bruce, followed by one of my top Maiden songs of all time, The Trooper, where guess what? It was time to burst our lungs again screaming the song’s famous “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!” together with the band. And closing their killer sequel, the imposing Powerslave, which almost made me blind with its initial flames as I was quite close to the stage.

The newer songs like The Great Unknown and the epic The Book of Souls (where Eddie had his heart “ripped out” by Bruce) kept their momentum going, making everyone even more excited for their final batch of unparalleled classics such as Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast (with the stage fires making us literally burn), and Wasted Years. However, it was their 2000 creation Blood Brothers that really stole the show, with all fans signing its heartening lyrics together with the band, after Bruce’s inspiring intro where he spoke about how diverse and welcoming the city of Toronto is, and how there shouldn’t be no differences among us all, as we’re all blood brothers. What a brilliant performance of such amazing tune, I have to say! One of the best I’ve seen live together with the one from Rock In Rio III in 2001. As Bruce said close to the end of the show, Iron Maiden are far from being done, and they’ll return to Toronto with more of their unmatched metal music in a not-so-distant future. Needless to say, all 18,000 fans at the concert Saturday are more than eager for that without a shadow of a doubt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hot and sunny day like this Saturday or if it’s in the middle of a cold winter, we all know that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Wrathchild
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

Album Review – Mutank / W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. EP (2017)

They have a lot of thrashing songs that have abbreviated titles, and they kick some serious ass with their old school music and hardcore attitude.

They have a lot of thrashing songs that have abbreviated titles on their menu, and all those songs will certainly put you to slam into the circle pit with their endless electricity and catchy melodies. I’m talking about Canadian Crossover/Trash Metal act Mutank, who have just released a new EP titled W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. (which according to the band means “We Have Alotta Thrash Songs That Have Abbreviated Titles”). Displaying a kick-ass old school cover art by Andrei Bouzikov (Holycide, Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch), W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. is not just a set of five amazing Crossover Thrash songs, but it’s also a follow-up to the band’s 2014 debut album M.E.C.H. METAL, which carved Mutank’s name in the Montreal Thrash scene and led them to play at Wacken Open Air that same year, as well as a taste of what’s to come as the band will have a full-length album to follow the EP later this year.

Inspired by Megadeth, Overkill, Iron Maiden, Municipal Waste, Mike Patton and the golden age of Thrash Metal, this Montreal-based quartet describes their sound as a “T-Rex skateboarding down a volcano”, which is exactly what you’ll find in W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. “Our upcoming EP W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. sort of started as a joke. I just thought it would be funny to force an acronym for ‘what’s that?’ and I came up with ‘We Have Alottta Thrash Songs That Have Abbreviate Titles’. From there we came up with the concept of an EP with a bunch of forced acronym titles. The EP itself was written somewhat conceptually with the individual songs being very short thrash songs that come together to make one longer progressive thrash track, which harkens back to the title since we don’t even know what it is! We have a ton of new material in the works as well, people can expect new stuff sooner rather than later!”

In the opening track, titled  L.I.F.E. (“Lament Infinity, Forlorn Eternity”), we’re treated to the sharp, thrilling guitar riffs and solos by Costa Skoulikas and Lee Whiskey in one minute of old school Thrash Metal, warming up the listener for I.D.I.O.T. (“I’ll Do It Over Tomorrow”), with its sick lyrics being nicely declaimed by lead singer and bassist Stephen Reynolds (“My brain’s a backed-up toilet / Can’t function cuz’ somebody soiled it / The posterior of prosperity / Thoughts too inbred to decongest / They’re unrelated so it can’t be incest / As I plunge into depravity”), whose rumbling bass also adds an extra kick to the song. Slam into the pit, have a beer with your buddies or simply bang your head nonstop to this uncompromised and electrified tune, before Mutank brings forth more shredding and thunderous bass lines for our avid ears in the faster and more hardcore mosh pit-generator P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S. (“Price Of Progress: Ugly Little Organisms Undermining Society”). This awesome composition sounds like the Thrash Metal played by Anthrax with Mutank’s own touch, turning it into the best track of the EP in my opinion.

F.O.G. (“Frailty Of Genius”) can be summarized as a minute and a half of pure madness led by the groovy beast by drummer Ahmed Daas and the inebriate vocals by Stephen, who once again sings the song’s old school demented lyrics with all his strength (“I walk around saying “It’s too late” / I know it ain’t / I guess that’s why I hold my breath under the water / ’til I come back up and drown in air”). And D.E.A.T.H. (“Divine Evaluation Awaits Thee Human”), the longest of all tracks, is also the one with the highest amount of complexity, showcasing thrashing guitars and a badass attitude, with Stephen and Ahmed sounding simply bestial with their bass and drums, respectively.

In ten minutes, Mutank slam more than several bands in their entire careers, and that says a lot about the overall quality of the music found in W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. You can get to know more about Mutank and their wicked acronyms and abbreviations at their Facebook page, listen to their high-voltage music on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and purchase W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. through their BandCamp page. I was trying to come up with a fun abbreviation to conclude this review, but you know what? Leave those to Mutank, as they definitely know how to condense words and, more important than that, amazing music into their short but extremely fun compositions.

Best moments of the album: I.D.I.O.T. and P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Boonsdale Records

Track listing
1. L.I.F.E. (Instrumental) 1:01
2. I.D.I.O.T. 2:06
3. P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S. 1:40
4. F.O.G. 1:33
5. D.E.A.T.H. 3:50

Band members
Stephen Reynolds – vocals, bass
Costa Skoulikas – guitar
Lee Whiskey – guitar
Ahmed Daas – drums

Album Review – Hammerdrone / Dark Harvest (2017)

Mixing up intense aggression, a dark atmosphere and elegant melodies, this Canadian quintet brings forth a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization known as the Dark Harvest Commando.

Formed back in 2010 in the city of Calgary, known as the center of Canada’s oil industry, Melodic Death Metal act Hammerdrone mixes up intense aggression, a dark atmosphere and elegant melodies to deliver songs that are both epic and catchy, being highly recommended for admirers of the musical creations by bands such as Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquility and early Soilwork. After receiving an enthusiastic response from the metal press in countries across the world with the release of their debut EP A Demon Rising in 2012 and the full-length Clone of Europa in 2014, this Canadian quintet returns with their second full-length installment, entitled Dark Harvest, a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization the Dark Harvest Commando.

The Dark Harvest Commando of the Scottish Citizen Army was a militant group which in 1981 demanded that the British government decontaminate Gruinard Island, a site which had been used for anthrax weapon testing during World War II, by distributing potentially anthrax-laden soil on the mainland. Enfolded by a menacing artwork by Brazilian artist Caio Caldas of CadiesArt (DragonForce, Raven Lord, Soulspell), Dark Harvest has all the elements needed to effectively portray the ominous actions of such terrorist organization, including demented vocals, blazing riffs and frantic drumming, therefore enhancing the impact of the music (and also of the story being told) on the listener.

The atmospheric intro Echoes prepares the listener for the carnivorous but very melodic Karakoram, with its lyrics explain “who” the savage mountain Karakoram is (“I am the slate of lost emotion, I am the face of blank despair / That which crushes your spirit and body / In this cold and rarified air.”). Not only the lyrics are meaningful, but the amazing job done by both Rick Cardellini and Curtis Beardy on guitars provides lead singer Graham Harris the exact ambience needed for his deep guttural vocals to thrive. In Ancestral Weight, which begins with a soulful solo by Rick while drummer Vince Cardellini blasts pure heaviness through his beats (sounding like a machine gun), we’re treated to modern and versatile Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth.

The title-track Dark Harvest takes you to the secret lair of the Dark Harvest Commando, with the band’s Melodic Death Metal presenting a warlike vibe. The overall violence emanating from their riffs and drums is insanely high, while Graham works as the “leader” of such vile terrorist organization with his deranged growls. And continuing his momentum, Graham canalizes the size and strength of a bison on his deep vocals in the excellent Black Bison, boosting the song’s hostile lyrics even more (“I see my God as he floods the plains of destiny / With the bile of intent. / I see my God and his hooves are stained with mortal men, / Malice hangs in the fog of his breath. / No lunar eclipse is half this dark – / It crushes your will and seeps into your heart.”). Showcasing elements from Thrash Metal, in special in its drums, this full-bodied, menacing and powerful composition is tailored for admirers of the heaviest form of Melodic Death Metal, being perfect for cracking your spine headbanging; whereas in The Wasting Throne, another pounding tune by Hammerdrone, both guitars dictate the rhythm together with the lowering bass by Teran Wyer, resulting in a robust song where all spaces are filled with heavy sounds and melodic touches, while its second part offers more of the band’s neck-breaking metal music.

After the album’s intro, Harvest The Void is the first (and only) serene moment you’ll find in Dark Harvest, working as a gentle bridge to the deep and melodic Collapse Of Reality, with highlights to the dynamic guitars by Rick and Curtis and the intricate beats by Vince, while Graham keeps growling like a beast. It’s a good quality tune despite going on for too long, losing a bit of its punch after a while. However, in the last of all tracks, titled Lost In An Instant, the whole band is fuckin’ roaring, with Graham and his bandmates delivering high-end Melodic Death Metal through their beautiful guitar solos, solid beats and endless stamina.

You can listen to Dark Harvest in its entirety HERE, and also show your support to Hammerdrone (and consequently to independent metal in general) by grabbing your copy of this excellent concept album at their BandCamp page. Hammerdone, who can be found on Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, not only bring us metalheads high-end underground heavy music made in Canada, as melodic and catchy as it can be, but they also tell a sinister and noteworthy story in Dark Harvest that will show you that many (if not all) terrorist attacks do not come out of nowhere, but that they’re always connected to classified actions taken by all governments worldwide. We obviously do not condone any of those actions and reactions by governments or terrorist groups, but it’s clear that when metal bands like Hammedrone are inspired by such controversial topics, the final result is always amazing musically speaking.

Best moments of the album: Ancestral Weight, Black Bison and The Wasting Throne.

Worst moments of the album: Collapse Of Reality.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Echoes (Intro) 1:09
2. Karakoram 4:37
3. Ancestral Weight 3:51
4. Dark Harvest 6:17
5. Black Bison 7:48
6. The Wasting Throne 6:07
7. Harvest The Void 3:32
8. Collapse Of Reality 5:34
9. Lost In An Instant 5:35

Band members
Graham Harris – vocals
Rick Cardellini – lead guitars
Curtis Beardy – rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Teran Wyer – bass, vocals
Vince Cardellini – drums