Album Review – Down To The Heaven / [level -1] (2018)

Bringing forth complex arrangements combined with a large dose of modern electronic music, here comes a metal unity from Poland ready to smash our senses with their debut album of incendiary Metalcore and Djent.

Electronicore, also known as Trancecore or Synthcore, is a fusion of Metalcore and Djent with elements of various electronic music genres, such as trance, electronica, and dubstep, with bands and artists like Attack Attack! in the United States and Enter Shikari in the UK having contributed to the development and the dissemination of the genre all over the world. Furthermore, it looks like the style has been expanding in a healthy and interesting way in recent years with the rising of bands like Switzerland’s own Rage Of Light and Polish Metalcore/Djent unity Down To The Heaven, who are releasing this year their debut album curiously titled [level -1].

Formed in 2013 in the city of Bielsko-Biała, Down To The Heaven have all it takes to become one of the references in Eletronicore and Djent. Comprised of Rusty on vocals, Shaun and Majster on the guitars, Grzela on bass, Cyfrowe Zło on keys and electronic noises, and Hoomer on drums, the band brings forth a style characterized by complex arrangements with heavy guitar playing combined with a large dose of melody and modern electronic music. In [level -1], which was mixed and mastered at Seeker Studio in Wrocław, Poland in 2017 and which features a modern and captivating artwork by Sztuczny Horyzont, this Polish six-piece act showcases all they got, being ready to smash your senses with their vicious and rumbling sounds and noises.

As if a wicked horror flick was about to begin, a creepy intro titled Down to the… gets heavier and heavier as time goes by, generating a metallic and embracing atmosphere for the demolishing Catharsis, where frontman Rusty barks deeply like a beast while the whimsical keys by Cyfrowe Zło make a vibrant contrast with the furious beats by Hoomer, resulting in a fantastic and modern hybrid between Metalcore, Industrial Metal and Melodic Death Metal. Then Shaun and Majster ignite another crushing feast of sounds named Lost in Memories with their cutting riffs, while Grzela will make your head tremble with his sick bass lines. Moreover, the music remains bold and thunderous from start to finish, proving how talented and heavy Down To The Heaven are. And putting the pedal to the metal the band blasts sheer madness and aggression in Unbroken, an excellent sample of contemporary Djent infused with elements from heavier styles where Rusty is once again demented on vocals, while Cyfrowe Zło brings insanity to the music with his keys and special effects.

Even more modernized and eccentric than its predecessors, No Vision is a movie-inspired instrumental extravaganza where its beautiful piano notes go along really well with the guitar solos and the mesmerizing atmosphere, whereas in Kingdom of Delusion it actually feels we’re “entering” a movie, with the rhythmic and tribal beats by Hoomer setting the stage for Rusty and his deranged, lunatic growls. In addition, the music evolves to a potent industrialized sounding, with both Shaun and Majster firing sheer electricity through their crisp riffs. In Tyrant’s Fall we’re treated to an explosion of modern-day Metalcore with an electronic and demented twist, led by Cyfrowe Zło and his piercing keys while Hoomer keeps pounding and smashing his drums and Rusty growls the song’s rebellious lyrics (“Arise in rage! / Image of madness / Dripping from rusty chains / Like deadly poison inside our brains / Blood under feet / Groan of tormented souls / Who’s lurking behind the Throne / BURN THEM ALL!”), before We Are, the last track of the album, continues to punch you in the head with the violent sounds extracted from all instruments, being effectively complemented by the most electronic noises of the entire album. Moreover, the song also presents clean vocals at times, making the whole experience of listening to it even more tasteful and, therefore, ending the album on a high and wicked note.

In summary, Down To The Heaven nailed it in [level -1], creating something truly unique by adding their own twist and electricity to the already innovative Eletronicore, and if you want to know more about this skillful act from Poland simply pay them a visit on Facebook for news, tour dates and other shenanigans, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and purchase [level -1] directly from their BandCamp page or from iTunes. Put differently, if it’s fresh and modern music you’re craving, but without giving up that raw and aggressive vibe from heavy music, it’s time you get “down to the heaven”.

Best moments of the album: Catharsis, Unbroken and Tyrant’s Fall.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Down to the… 3:25
2. Catharsis 5:02
3. Lost in Memories 3:48
4. Unbroken 4:10
5. No Vision 6:07
6. Kingdom of Delusion 5:51
7. Tyrant’s Fall 3:32
8. We Are 3:02

Band members
Rusty – vocals
Shaun – guitar
Majster – guitar
Grzela – bass
Cyfrowe Zło – electronic noises, keys
Hoomer – drums

Album Review – Mandatory / Catharsis (2014)

A good option for fans of Melodic Death Metal who enjoy European harmony blended with North American violence.

Rating5

MANDATORY_Catharsis_Cover_HQAustrian Melodic Death Metal band Mandatory is one of those cases where harmony and brutality walk hand in hand with each other, creating an electrifying sound perfect for live performances, which by the way helped this Linz-based quintet win the International Live Award in 2011 in Austria. Now with Catharsis, the band’s second full-length album, those guys deliver a more melodic and technical Death Metal than their previous releases without sounding too commercial or generic.

Although Catharsis is quite different from the band’s 2009 debut album Carbon Black, it’s still very technical and heavy, recommended for both fans of Melodic Death Metal and the more modern heavy music from North America. Moreover, do not expect to listen to old school Death or Thrash Metal, as the sounding in the whole album is very polished and even progressive depending on the song, similar to what bands such as Arch Enemy are doing today. You can indeed expect lots of shredding, guttural and clean vocals mixed, and fast and technical blast beats.

The opening track, End of Watch, can be summarized as pure European Melodic Death Metal with hints of American Metalcore, with its double bass boosting the very melodic guttural vocals. Then we have Act I: Tragedy, the first of three “acts” (or whatever the band wanted those to be) where its excellent instrumental, clean vocals and motivational lyrics (“Embrace the Light within / Shatter the Sky / Your pain and misery / Will purify your mind”) give a good balance to the song; and the slower but heavier To the Streets, a modern Thrash Metal tune the likes of contemporary Metallica and A7X, with some intense riffs and an interesting guitar solo perfect for some headbanging.

Mandatory_2012_1500_webEmperor has the most Metalcore rhythm of all songs, especially its guitar duos, with highlights to its very polished production (enhancing the sounding of all instruments) and the political message in its lyrics (“You aren’t machines / You are not chained / To these ambassadors / Of hatred fear and despise”); while the very enjoyable Act II: Catharsis begins with an intense low riff before turning into fast Melodic Death Metal. It even flirts with progressive metal due to all its breaks, variations and the excellent work done by both guitarists Chris Hörmann and Manuel “Mani” Rohrauer.

Shadowmaker is another good melodic and very progressive tune, albeit not as heavy as the rest of the album, with its guitar solos reminding me of some old stuff done by Dream Theater; followed by For the World to See, which gets back to Melodic Death Metal with its clean vocals being once again a nice touch to the overall musicality. Finally, we have Act III: Purification, the last of the three “acts”, another progressive/melodic heavy track with uprising lyrics (“Rise Up! / Liberate your wisdom / Rise Up! / Let the storm break loose”), and closing the album we have Blueprint, the most Thrash/Death Metal track of all with highlights to its technical and professional instrumental and the nice sound effects on the background. In addition, it might only be a coincidence, but the three “acts” (add also “End of Watch” to this list) are the best songs of the album by far in my opinion.

You can purchase Catharsis at Mandatory’s official BandCamp page, where the album comes as a special edition with lots of extra stuff, or also at Amazon, iTunes and other online stores. Go for it if you’re a fan of the most modern type of Melodic Death Metal available in the market, uniting melody, violence and fun in heavy music.

Best moments of the album: End of Watch, Act I: Tragedy, Act II: Catharsis and Act III: Purification.

Worst moments of the album: To the Streets and For the World to See.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. End of Watch 3:53
2. Act I: Tragedy 4:15
3. To the Streets 6:53
4. Emperor 5:08
5. Act II: Catharsis 6:53
6. Shadowmaker 4:36
7. For the World to See 5:45
8. Act III: Purification 5:18
9. Blueprint 3:51

Band members
Markus Hundsberger – vocals
Chris Hörmann – guitars, backing vocals
Manuel “Mani” Rohrauer – guitars, backing vocals
Leo Wolfmayr – bass
Mike Pfaffenhuemer – drums, clean vocals