Album Review – Embrace of Disharmony / De Rervm Natvra (2019)

A fascinating journey into a unique universe of Avantgarde and Progressive Dark Metal inspired by Lucretio’s poem “De Rervm Natvra” and his theory of the universe.

Forged in in 2006 the fires of Rome, the stunning capital of Italy, with the main goal of uniting the dark and epic Progressive Metal from bands like Symphony X and Adagio with elements from Avantgarde and Extreme Metal bands, as well as several orchestral outfits like Arcturus, Winds, Dimmu Borgir and Opeth, Avantgarde/Progressive Dark Metal four-piece act Embrace of Disharmony is unleashing upon humanity their second full-length opus entitled De Rervm Natvra, which translates from Latin as “on the nature of things”, a fascinating journey into a unique musical universe thoroughly crafted by the band, released five years after their debut album Humananke.

Comprised of Gloria Zanotti on vocals, Matteo Salvarezza on guitars, vocals and programming, Leonardo Barcaroli on bass and Emiliano Cantiano on drums, Embrace of Disharmony offer in De Rervm Natvra a more extreme sonority but at the same time a more avantgarde-ish aura than in Humananke, all spiced up by idiosyncratic electronic elements and a superb lyrical theme based on Lucretio’s poem “De Rervm Natvra” and his theory of the universe. Recorded at Dis(agio)harmony Studios and Hombre Lobo Studios with Valerio Fisik, mixed by Giuseppe Orlando at Outer Sound Studio, and mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios, De Rervm Natvra is not only a great piece of symphonic and extreme music, but the overall sound quality of the album is simply outstanding, showing how focused all band members and their entire crew were, delivering first-class metal music to our avid ears.

Ethereal sounds permeate the air in Prohoemivm (“introduction”), with the voices in the background delivering a cryptic message and warming up our senses for the symphonic and eerie Lavdatio Epicvri (“in praise of Epicurus”), where Matteo’s background effects and keys grow in intensity until the entire band begins smashing their instruments furiously. And their venomous version of Dream Theater mixed with Cradle of Filth goes on in the 10-minute extravaganza De Primordiis Rervm (“the beginning”), a darker version of Epic Symphonic Metal with Emiliano sounding like a stone crusher on drums and with the delicate vocals by Gloria bringing more finesse to the overall musicality in an avalanche of symphonic sounds, somber passages, operatic choirs and tons of progressiveness. Then the quartet continues to mesmerize us with their dark symphony in De Motv Primordiorvm Rervm (“the beginning of motion”), another thrilling Progressive Dark Metal voyage where Matteo delivers crisp riffs while Leonardo and Emiliano are at the same time utterly progressive and vicious with their bass and drums, respectively; followed by De Infinitate Orbivm (“infinite worlds”), where a wicked intro evolves into a feast of Symphonic Metal showcasing classic piano notes, a menacing atmosphere and rumbling bass lines. Furthermore, Gloria and Matteo make a very dynamic and inspired vocal duo, while Emiliano doesn’t stop hammering his drums for our total delight.

In De Mortalitate Animae (“the immortality of the soul”), it’s impressive how the quartet is capable of transforming their music into some sort of theater or movie score, showcasing acoustic guitars while the smooth vocals by Gloria dictate the song’s rhythm, also presenting explosions of extreme music intertwined with pure Progressive Metal. De Pavore Mortis (“the terror of death”) starts in a whimsical and serene manner, again morphing into a Symphonic Metal party where Emiliano sounds even more brutal than before on drums while Gloria delivers some vicious, heavier-than-usual vocal lines to add an extra kick to the song; whereas in the Symphonic and Progressive Metal aria De Captionibvs Amoris (“the seizures of love”) we’re treated to the most wicked intro of the entire album, a dark and futuristic start that gets even more enfolding thanks to Matteo’s keys and Emiliano’s beats, generating a powerful paradox of sounds and setting the stage for Gloria to shine on vocals. Lastly we have De Formatione Orbis (“the formation of the world”), the most experimental of all songs, closing the album in a really distinct way and even flirting with Folk Metal at times. Once again presenting a potent vocal duet by Gloria and Matteo and flammable guitar riffs, the music gets a bit too atmospheric compared to the rest of the album, but nothing that could harm its overall electricity and impact.

In summary, Embrace of Disharmony are more than ready to take your hand and guide you through their whimsical and captivating world of heavy music in De Rervm Natvra, which is by the way available for a full listen on Spotify, and in order to show them your true support and admiration go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and purchase De Rervm Natvra from their BandCamp page, Apple Music, Amazon, or Discogs, or click HERE for all available options in the market. Gloria, Matteo, Leonardo and Emiliano might be only four musicians, but what they offer our ears in their new album sounds like if they were a full-bodied orchestra, meaning that not only they’re extremely talented and passionate about what they do, but also that fortunately for all of us we’ll be hearing from Embrace of Disharmony for many years to come, embellishing the airwaves with their fusion of the past, present and future of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: De Primordiis Rervm, De Infinitate Orbivm and De Captionibvs Amoris.

Worst moments of the album: De Formatione Orbis.

Released in 2019 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. Prohoemivm / Lavdatio Epicvri 3:05
2. De Primordiis Rervm 9:54
3. De Motv Primordiorvm Rervm 5:58
4. De Infinitate Orbivm 6:53
5. De Mortalitate Animae 7:53
6. De Pavore Mortis 6:12
7. De Captionibvs Amoris 5:53
8. De Formatione Orbis 8:14

Band members
Gloria Zanotti – vocals
Matteo Salvarezza – guitars, vocals, programming
Leonardo Barcaroli – bass
Emiliano Cantiano – drums

Guest musician
Marco Migliorelli – spoken words on “De Infinitate Orbivm” and “De Mortalitate Animae”

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Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 03/27/2019)

One year after storming Toronto with their Cryptoriana World Tour for the first time, the one and only Cradle of Filth returned for another fantastic round of blasphemy, darkness and seductiveness.

OPENING ACT: Raven Black

First of all, I would like to ask anyone to explain to me why WEDNESDAY 13, the Hollywood-based Gothic/Dark Metal band led by Murderdolls’ frontman Joseph Michael Poole (aka Wednesday 13), didn’t open for the almighty Cradle of Filth last night at The Opera House like they’ve been doing together with Los Angeles-based Gothic/Dark Metal unity RAVEN BLACK during this second round of the Cryptoriana North American tour, nicely named CRYPTORIANA WORLD TOUR 2019 – THE SECOND COMING OF VICE. All websites showed Raven Black scheduled for 7pm, Wednesday 13 for 7:45pm and Cradle of Filth for 8:55pm, but what actually happened last night in Toronto was a huge (and tedious) delay that ended up with Raven Black playing at 7:45pm and Cradle of Filth at 8:55pm, with no sign of Wednesday 13 at all nor any communication from the venue or the organizers. Unless they played at 5pm when no one was there to watch them, or if they wanted to make a very bad joke with their own name saying they were “late” two weeks (as yesterday was Wednesday 27), there’s no official reason for their absence. Can anyone out there explain to me what happened, please?

Anyway, without Wednesday 13, Raven Black was left with the always demanding duty of warming up the fans at The Opera house for another night of wicked, sulfurous and dark metal music. Comprised of the stunning, talented and very sympathetic Raven on lead vocals, The Doctor on lead guitar and backing vocals, Stitches on bass and Muppet on drums and harsh vocals (plus another mysterious, unnamed guitarist who would go on and off stage depending on the song played), Raven Black put on a great show, entertaining the fans avid for the more extreme music by Dani Filth and his horde. Still promoting their 2018 album 13, Raven Black played a fairly different setlist from the ones of this same tour, either by changing the order of the songs or by adding new ones, such as their brand new single named Carnival (a very good song, by the way), probably due to Wednesday 13’s cryptic absence. And it was impossible not to keep your eyes turned to the darkly, darkly sexy Raven, who delivered a very entertaining performance impersonating an evil doll with a special artifact per song, including a hula hoop, handcuffs and a giant teddy bear. My favorite songs of their concert were Dollhouse and Twinkle Twinkle Little Scars, and if you also enjoy this type of freakish, circus-inspired metal music, go take a look at their BandCamp page not only to purchase those two songs but their entire (short but already solid) discography.

Band members
Raven – lead vocals
The Doctor – lead guitar, backing vocals
Stitches – bass
Muppet – drums, harsh vocals

CRADLE OF FILTH

After a short break it was time for British Extreme Metal warlocks CRADLE OF FILTH to haunt The Opera House once again for our total delight, still promoting their 2017 album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, almost exactly one year after their 2018 concert in the city, coincidentally also on a Wednesday night. The setlist was very close to their previous one, with a few changes to some of the songs such as the removal of Beneath the Howling Stars and The Death of Love and the inclusion of Nemesis and Honey and Sulphur. I love all those songs, so I was more than fine with those changes as it’s always a pleasure to see a fantastic band like Cradle of Filth playing different songs live, but there was one huge “mistake” made by the band, which was NOT closing the show with the all-time classic From the Cradle to Enslave. Sorry, Dani, but I can’t forgive you for that even after seeing your Instagram post where you say you were quite sick last night (so sick he said they dropped Saffron’s Curse instead of From the Cradle to Enslave). Just kidding, of course.

Anyway, I can’t get tired of watching Dani growling like a demonic beast (even when he’s under the weather) while his bandmates make sure the atmosphere remains as obscure, devilish and aggressive as possible, with one of the nicest keyboardists in the world, Lindsay Schoolcraft, and the unstoppable guitarist Richard Shaw providing an extra touch of delicacy and madness to the show, respectively. Richard didn’t stop jumping up and down, spinning around, spitting and urging the crowd to go crazy into the circle pit, and all that while at the same time he was flawless with his riffs and solos. That’s what I call a true metalhead, my friends, providing Dani some effective support and relief due to his illness. If you were there, I bet their performance during the unparalleled 10-minute infernal beast Bathory Aria left you completely disoriented. That says it all.

In the end, although we didn’t have Wednesday 13 for some unknown reason, it was indeed another amazing night of Extreme Metal, with Raven Black and specially Cradle of Filth, of course, showing Toronto everything they got. When all was said and done (and after all the devastation the fans were promoting inside the endless circle pit in the center of the venue), everyone had a huge smile on their faces, and not even an exhausting day at work (like the one I had) could stop the crowd from enjoying the concert to its fullest. Furthermore, there were several amazing Cradle of Filth shirts being sold by their crew or worn by the fans as usual, but there was a guy wearing a very specific one that caught my attention, where in the back it said “DANI FILTH LOVES YOU”’. Well, how can we argue with that? He surely loves Toronto, and Toronto loves him and his iconic band back. That is pure, mutual respect and admiration that makes them come back to the city again and again. Hence, it’s been just less than a day after the concert was over, but I’m already eager to see the mighty Cradle of Filth possessing our souls once again here in our beloved Toronto.

Setlist
ACT I
Ave Satani (Intro)
Gilded Cunt
Nemesis
Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
Heartbreak and Seance
Bathory Aria: Benighted Like Usher / A Murder of Ravens in Fugue / Eyes That Witnessed Madness
Wester Vespertine
Dusk and Her Embrace
You Will Know the Lion by His Claw
Creatures That Kissed in Cold Mirrors (Interlude)

ACT II
A Bruise Upon the Silent Moon (Intro)
The Promise of Fever
Saffron’s Curse
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Honey and Sulphur
Her Ghost in the Fog
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Album Review – Rotting Christ / The Heretics (2019)

Heretics, atheists and rebels, it’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal masterfully crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.

“Since man cannot live without miracles, he will provide himself with the miracles of his own making. He will believe in any kind of deity even though he may otherwise be a heretic, an atheist, and a rebel.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It is not a coincidence that our review number 666 exhales blasphemy, heresy and, above all, first-class occult Black Metal and a lot of fire. Hailing from Athens, the capital of the beautiful Greece and the heart of Ancient Greece, here comes the greatest Greek metal institution of all time, the almighty Rotting Christ, spitting fire upon humanity with their fantastic and very atmospheric new opus, entitled The Heretics, their thirteenth studio album and a beautiful follow-up to their excellent 2016 release Rituals.  Recorded at Pentagram Studios in Athens, mixed and mastered at Fascination Street Studio in Örebro, Sweden, and featuring a stunning artwork by Ukrainian designer Vyacheslav Smeshko and cover art by Greek artist Maximos Manolis, Rotting Christ’s new album is absolutely incendiary, going against all types of religion, church and creed.

And when I say incendiary I’m not exaggerating, as pretty much every single song from The Heretics mentions the world “fire”, proving the band’s mastermind, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sakis Tolis and his brother, drummer Themis Tolis, knew exactly what they were doing when turning what it truly means to be a heretic into their unparalleled Dark Metal. All lyrics are obscure, austere and rebellious, which together with all beautiful intonations by guests Stelios Steele and Dayal Patterson, as well as an array of guest musicians such as Irina Zybina (vocalist for Russian Pagan/Folk Metal bands Alkonost and Грай), Alexis Karamelis and Melechesh Ashmedi, makes the experience of listening to The Heretics truly hypnotizing, enfolding our souls in darkness and fire while the music remains as heavy, intricate and epic as we got used to from the Tolis Brothers. In other words, are you ready to burn in the purifying fires of the Dark Metal blasted by the one and only Rotting Christ?

The imposing In the Name of God brings forward a very atmospheric start, with the words by Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky spoken by guest Stelios Steele setting the stage for the crushing wall of sounds created by the Tolis Brothers, always in the name of fire, not to mention how its headbanging riffs will inspire you to break your neck in half, while Vetry Zlye, also called “Ветры злые” (which translates as “evil winds” from Russian), is another beautiful composition by those Greek metallers with the help of guest vocalist Irina Zybina and her mesmerizing voice, getting closer to what the band did in Rituals and with the drums by Themis sounding as imposing and demolishing as we like it in classic extreme music. “The mind is universe and can make a heaven of hell a hell of heaven”, and it’s with those words by English poet John Milton that Rotting Chirst kick off another thrilling hymn titled Heaven and Hell and Fire, showcasing austere, cryptic lyrics (“Beyond the burning fire, heaven and hell / Today I give you choices: life or death / I offer you desire, I sentence you to death / Today I give you a choice, I give you Hell”) that perfectly match with the song’s flammable, classic and very melodic musicality, with Sakis once again being a beast with his riffs and unmatched roars.

Hallowed Be Thy Name is a mesmerizing and extremely obscure hymn by led by Themis’ pounding beats, with Sakis extracting those low-tuned, Stygian sounds we love so much from his guitar and bass. Put differently, join their mass and burn with them, also savoring the words by William Shakespeare powerfully declaimed by Stelios, putting a majestic end to the song. Following such enfolding tune we have Dies Irae, where Sakis’ work on the guitar is the perfect example of how heavy and harmonious a riff can be at the same time, as well as the song’s background choir bringing even more thunder to this already potent song; whereas in I Believe (or “Πιστεύω”), which is based on a poem by Nikos Kazantzakis, a giant of modern Greek literature, the instrumental pieces are a bit too “polluted”, but nothing that makes the song boring or not enjoyable. Moreover, it should work a lot better live as it has the potential to generate huge circle pits due to its frantic pace. Back to a more visceral mode, we have the fabulous Fire God and Fear, with the words by French philosopher Voltaire (“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”) generating a stunning paradox with the birds gently chirping in the background in the beginning, before the scorching riffs and thunderous drums by the Greek brothers of metal urge us all to bang our heads nonstop. Hence, this is by far one of my favorite songs of the entire album, where we can savor that classic Rotting Christ sonority with a welcome contemporary twist.

Rotting Christ The Heretics Box Collector

The Voice of Universe is another song that will reach deep inside your mind and soul, with Sakis vociferating its insurgent words (“The angel, I won’t serve again / I won’t have a place anymore in heaven / It’s my own soul, it’s my own mind / And can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”) while Themis keeps blasting his trademark tribal beats, and when you think those Greek metallers couldn’t sound more mesmerizing and brutal at the same time they deliver the excellent The New Messiah, featuring an excerpt from Matthew 24:11 (“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.”), with the guitars and all background elements and voices filling out all spaces in the air. And lastly, as the icing on the cake we have the magnificent, somber and ferocious The Raven, based on what’s probably the most famous poem by the iconic american writer Edgar Allan Poe, offering our ears over five minutes of cutting riffs, Black and Doom Metal drums, and endless poetry, with highlights to the sensational job done by Stelios Steele, giving life to Poe’s renowned lines. Actually, if you have some spare money to purchase any of the special editions of the album, you’ll also be able to enjoy the bonus tracks The Sons of Hell and Phobos (also called “The Sons of Hell, Pt. 1 & 2” by some people), two dark and demolishing tunes that make it worth the additional investment, or in other words, two excellent samples of modern-day Black Metal infused with epic and atmospheric elements.

In summary, The Heretics, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from several locations such as the band’s own BandCamp page and the Season of Mist webstore (and if I were you, I would go for the limited edition deluxe wooden boxset as it comes with several awesome perks), is definitely an album that will touch your heart and soul, taking you on a fascinating musical ride through the woes of religious wars, Zoroastrianism and the eternal war between good and evil. That’s what the unrelenting Rotting Christ offer us in their top-of-the-line new opus, and may Sakis and his horde continue to burn us all heretics, atheists and rebels with their dark and occult Black Metal for many decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Heaven and Hell and Fire, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fire God and Fear and The Raven.

Worst moments of the album: I Believe.

Released in 2019 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. In the Name of God 4:13
2. Vetry Zlye 3:14
3. Heaven and Hell and Fire 4:52
4. Hallowed Be Thy Name 5:06
5. Dies Irae 3:45
6. I Believe 3:42
7. Fire God and Fear 4:49
8. The Voice of Universe 5:22
9. The New Messiah 3:07
10. The Raven 5:23

Deluxe Edition/ Limited Edition Deluxe Boxset bonus track
11. The Sons of Hell 4:18

Limited Edition Deluxe Boxset bonus track
12. Phobos 4:12

Band members
Sakis Tolis – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion
Themis Tolis – drums

Guest musicians
Giannis Kalamatas – guitars (live)
Van Ace – bass (live)
Stelios Steele – poem intonation on “In the Name of God”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “The Raven”
Alexis Karamelis – backing vocals on “I Believe”
Stratis Steele, Alexandros Louziotis, Giannis Stamatakis & Theodoros Aivaliotis – vocals (choirs)
Nikos Velentzas, Stamatis Ampatalis, Vasilis Koutsoyflakis & Manos Six – percussion
Irina Zybina – female Vocals on “Vetry Zlye”
Dayal Patterson – intonation on “Heaven and Hell and Fire” and “Fire God and Fear”
Melechesh Ashmedi – vocals on “The Voice of Universe”

Album Review – Malefic By Design / Definitive Indication of Supremacy (2018)

Behold a band of underground veterans from Finland and their deadly debut full-length strike, a pulverizing opus that will summon you to a claustrophobic journey through blazing Armageddon.

Founded in 2015 in the city of Turku, Finland by underground metal veterans Mika Ikonen on vocals, Ville Pekkala, Sasu Haapanen and Miska Lehtivuori on the guitars and Antti Hakkala on drums (and if you haven’t noticed yet, there’s no bass player in their current lineup), who by the way have already released several previous efforts through multiple bands such as Searing Meadow, Ablaze In Hatred, Fall of the Leafe, Mormânt De Snagov and Devastracktor, Blackened Death Metal beast Malefic By Design has just released their deadly debut full-length strike, titled Definitive Indication of Supremacy, a pulverizing collection of catchy choruses and incendiary melodies that will certainly please all fans of modern extreme music.

Recorded in quiet solitude and far away from the public eye, Definitive Indication of Supremacy thoroughly blends the band’s Death Metal core essence with nuances from other styles such as Black and Doom Metal, summoning you to a sinister and claustrophobic journey through blazing Armageddon surrounded by a somber and devilish atmosphere.  The dark and primeval cover art is a good indication of what you’re going to face as soon as you hit play and start listening to the 12 Stygian tracks from Definitive Indication of Supremacy, showing Malefic By Design are among us to spread evil, hate and blasphemy. What else can you ask for in first-class Blackened Death Metal, right?

 The atmospheric and eerie intro Descending Sirens Of Evil opens the gates of the underworld to the demolishing Sickness Of Christ, a heavy and obscure Blackened Death Metal hymn with Mika delivering disturbing, deep growls while Antti dictates the rhythm with his precise beats. Then it’s time for almost seven minutes of pulverizing sounds and tones in Impending Doom, bringing together the most demonic elements of Black and Death Metal, with the band’s guitarists blasting a “melodic hell” with their strings; and the band goes full Black Metal in the visceral and brutal Enslaved By Birth, where Mika sounds more demented than before while Ville, Sasu and Miska bring forth another feast of satanic riffs and solos, resulting in one of the most complete (and therefore best) moments of the album.

Leaning towards traditional Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal, the band fires harmonious and visceral lines in the mid-tempo composition titled Repress The Oblivious, being beyond perfect for headbanging like a true disciple of darkness, whereas in Frozen Phantoms an ominous acoustic intro morphs into another explosion of blackened music by Malefic By Design, with the whole band being in some sort of demonic sync led by the boisterous drums by Antti, with Mika’s growls getting deeper and deeper as the music progresses. And Salvation For Everyone showcases hints of Symphonic Black Metal before reaching a frantic and heavy pace spearheaded by the once again furious drums by Antti, all embraced by a sinister background full of uncanny keyboard notes and sheer heaviness.

Medieval Beliefs is an old school Black and Death Metal creation tailored for succumbing to the dark side and snapping your neck headbanging, with the band’s stringed trio firing more of their diabolical riffs, creating an instant connection with the also very melodic Counterstrike Despise, also closer to more modern Melodic Death Metal while maintaining a vile aura in the background. Furthermore, Mika and his sick gnarls make a good balance with the delicate but fierce riffs by Ville, Sasu and Miska, which is also the case in Regenerated Reflections, an eerie fusion of contemporary Death Metal with traditional waltz (if that makes sense to you), also presenting elements from Doom and Dark Metal, and that amalgamation of styles results in a bold and thrilling chant with highlights to its beyond eccentric and obscure vocal lines. Then an enfolding atmosphere builds the stage for the heavy, mid-tempo Black Metal tune At The Gates, which despite being a good song it’s below the rest of the album in terms of electricity, falling flat after a while, fading into the acoustic outro Satanic Harmony, an interesting way to “depressurize” from all the madness blasted during the entire album.

In summary, Definitive Indication of Supremacy, which is available for a full listen on Spotify and for purchase through several channels such as the More Hate Productions’ BandCamp, Keltainen Jäänsärkijä, Record Shop X, iTunes, Amazon and Discogs, not only brings top-tier Blackened Death Metal to your avid ears from start to finish, but it also positions Malefic By Design as one of the strongest new names in contemporary Scandinavian extreme music. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how impactful their debut album will be on Finnish territory as well as worldwide, and when we’ll be able to savor more of the band’s pugnacious malignancy in the form of a new album.

Best moments of the album: Enslaved By Birth, Salvation For Everyone and Regenerated Reflections.

Worst moments of the album: At The Gates.

Released in 2018 More Hate Productions

Track listing
1. Descending Sirens Of Evil (Instrumental) 1:58
2. Sickness Of Christ 3:46
3. Impending Doom 6:39
4. Enslaved By Birth 3:11
5. Repress The Oblivious 4:17
6. Frozen Phantoms 3:58
7. Salvation For Everyone 4:23
8. Medieval Beliefs 4:00
9. Counterstrike Despise 4:23
10. Regenerated Reflections 6:11
11. At The Gates 6:41
12. Satanic Harmony (Instrumental) 1:44

Band members
Mika Ikonen – vocals
Ville Pekkala – guitars
Sasu Haapanen – guitars, vocals
Miska Lehtivuori – guitars, vocals
Antti Hakkala – drums

Album Review – Preludio Ancestral / Oblivion (2018)

A magnificent opus of epic-painted Power Metal with symphonic arrangements and amazing guitar work, where various guest musicians help give form to an album that will be a delight for any lover of the genre.

Formed back in 2005 by guitarist Leonardo Gatti in San Miguel, a city in the northwest region of Greater Buenos Aires located around 30km from the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Symphonic Power Metal band Preludio Ancestral has been making a name for themselves since their inception with a steady flow of high-quality releases, starting with the EP Silencio and the full-length album Hacia lo Inmortal, both in 2012, followed by the 2013 EP Putrefaction, the 2015 album Kybalion, and the 2016 album El Misterio de la Pasión Divina, gaining strong recognition not only in their native country, where they even opened for acts like Rhapsody of Fire and Stratovarius, but also everywhere where the epicness and electricity of Power Metal are admired.

Now in 2018 the band comprised of the aforementioned Leo Gatti on the guitars and keyboards, Ari Katajamäki on bass and Diego Camaño on drums are set to release a brand new album titled Oblivion, a magnificent opus of epic-painted Power Metal with symphonic arrangements and an awesome guitar work, where various guest musicians hailing from different parts of Argentina and Europe give form to an album that will be a delight for any lover of the genre. As a matter of fact, due to the fact that almost every song of the album has a different lead singer, Oblivion feels like three or four album in one, with the music always remaining fresh and captivating throughout its 10 distinct songs (or 12 if you purchase the special Japanese edition of the album).

Presagio is a cinematic intro that takes you to the world of Preludio Ancestral, where the flammable sound of the guitar by Leo and the unstoppable beats by Diego are joined by Alessio Perardi on vocals in King of Silence, a classic Melodic Power Metal tune the likes of Dragonforce and Stratovarius; followed by Storm, a Power Metal extravaganza led by the intricate drums by Diego with Enzo Donnarumma taking the vocal duties, while Leo and Ari bring tons of melody and feeling to the musicality. And Alessio is back on vocals for a fast and harmonious exhibit of modern-day Melodic Metal named Fear of Falling, showcasing all elements we love in this type of music. Furthermore, Ari is simply fantastic with his bass, smashing his strings mercilessly while guest keyboardist Gabliel Crisafulli embellishes the overall sound with his kick-ass solo.

With Fran Vázquez on vocals, Preludio Ancestral offer a mid-tempo, melodic tune titled Ready to Rock, leaning towards the darker and deeper metal crafted by icons such as Dio and Saxon. Moreover, can you feel those beats pounding inside your mind? Moving on with the album, the title-track Oblivion, featuring Juan Pablo Kilberg on vocals, could be part of a concept album due to its initial narration and pace, morphing into straightforward Power Metal the likes of Helloween and the early days of Sonata Arctica, with Juan Pablo also delivering a crisp guitar solo to make things even more epic. Then it’s time to slow things down a bit with a power ballad titled Universal Love, presenting more of the voice of Alessio Perardi, passionate solos by Leo and a dense background, but unfortunately with the overall result falling flat after a while.

In Reflection in the Wind they get back to a faster and more slashing musicality, presenting a solid instrumental base by Leo, Ari and Diego that sets the perfect stage for Kimmo Perämäki to thrive on vocals. This is one of those songs to sing along with the band wherever you are, not to mention another spectacular keyboard solo by Gabliel Crisafulli. In Dust World, a classic mid-tempo tune led by the powerful riffs by Leo, Alessio Perardi returns for one last breath of his potent vocals, while Ari and Diego keep the atmosphere as thunderous as it can be, before the closing act in Oblivion, titled Metal Walls, brings Daniel García on vocals in what can be considered the most modernized of all tracks, displaying elements from distinguished styles such as Alternative, Industrial, Dark Metal and Hard Rock, and let me tall you that the final result is above all expectations, in special due to the amazing job done by Leo on keyboards.

In summary, Oblivion (available for a full listen on Spotify) will not only cement the name of Preludio Ancestral as one of the best and most professional bands from this new wave of Symphonic and Power Metal in their homeland, but it will also help the band spread their wings and reach higher grounds in the world of heavy music. And if you wan to show your honest support to such up-and-coming act, simply go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for news and other shenanigans, and purchase Oblivion through the band’s own BandCamp page, through the Xtreem Music webstore, through the Spiritual Beast webstore, or on Amazon. May the power of Heavy Metal be with Preludio Ancestral anywhere they go, and may other bands from Argentina and South America follow their steps and deliver more metal music to fans tired of having bad and fake music shoveled down their throats by their local TV shows, radio stations, and websites.

Best moments of the album: King of Silence, Fear of Falling and Reflection in the Wind.

Worst moments of the album: Universal Love.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records/Spiritual Beast

Track listing
1. Presagio 1:04
2. King of Silence 3:49
3. Storm 4:02
4. Fear of Falling 4:30
5. Ready to Rock 3:45
6. Oblivion 5:07
7. Universal Love 4:24
8. Reflection in the Wind 3:31
9. Dust World 4:49
10. Metal Walls 5:35 

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Like A Star (New Version) 3:31
12. No Man’s Land 3:27

Band members
Leonardo Gatti – guitars, keyboards
Ari Katajamäki – bass
Diego Camaño – drums

Guest musicians
Alessio Perardi – vocals on “King of Silence”, “Dust World”, “Fear of Falling” and “Universal Love”
Fran Vázquez – vocals on “Ready to Rock”
Daniel García – vocals on “Metal Walls”
Juan Pablo Kilberg – vocals on “Oblivion”
Raffaele Raffo Albanese – vocals on “No Man’s Land”
Kimmo Perämäki – vocals on “Reflection in the Wind”
Enzo Donnarumma – vocals on “Storm”
Gabliel Crisafulli – keyboards solos on “Oblivion”, “Reflection in the Wind” and “Fear of Falling”
Juan Pablo Kilberg – guitar solos on “Oblivion”
José Paz – keyboards on “Presagio”

Album Review – Dzö-nga / The Sachem’s Tales (2017)

A demonic entity hailing from the United States gives life to the Algonquin folklore in a brand new concept album of vibrant and classy Atmospheric Black Metal.

In case you’re searching for the next name in Atmospheric and Epic Black Metal, you must take a listen at The Sachem’s Tales, the brand new concept album by an American Black Metal project that goes by the name of Dzö-nga (pronounced “zone-gah”), formed in 2016 in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, United States by multi-instrumentalist Cryvas. By the way, did you know Dzö-nga is the name of a cryptid or demon that is said to haunt the mountain Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world lying partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim, India? Drawing inspiration from world mythologies, Dzö-nga is definitely the perfect name to represent the music by this heavy and eccentric monster of underground extreme music.

The Sachem’s Tales, Dzö-nga’s second full-length album and a concept album about the Algonquin folklore from creation mythos (“Against the Northern Wind”) to apocalyptic prophesies (“A Seventh Age of Fire”), is the project’s first release to feature Grushenka Ødegård on vocals, with Cryvas and Grushenka being joined by guest musicians Aaron Maloney (This or the Apocalypse) as their session drummer and Lilith Astaroth (Sorrowseed) lending an ethereal voice to “Halle Ravine”. Featuring a classy cover art titled “The Wendigo”, designed by British illustrator Frank Victoria, The Sachem’s Tales will certainly please all fans of the more atmospheric side of extreme music fused with folk elements, especially the ones who love the sound by bands like Agalloch, Falls of Rauros, Moonsorrow and Coldworld, among others.

Midewiwin Lodge, a serene instrumental intro led by the acoustic guitars by Cryvas and spiced up by elements from Mother Nature, sets up the ambience for the melancholic and gripping To the Great Salt Water, with the contrast between the piano and the blast beats perfectly supporting the gentle voice of Grushenka and the growls by Cryvas, enhancing the impact of its fairy tale-inspired lyrics (“What shall I tell our children? / Tell them our story / Tell them who they are / Far beyond the mountains / Where wild-men roam / Over the raging river’s foam / Follow the Whiteshell west”). Put differently, this is a beautiful rollercoaster of emotions crafted by Dzö-nga, going from deeply enraged moments to slower passages of pure tenderness. Then in The Wolves Fell Quiet what starts in a calm mode with the suave notes of the piano embracing our souls suddenly explodes into magnificent Atmospheric Black Metal, with Cryvas growling and gnarling like a hellish entity. Furthermore, multi-layered waves of blackened sounds mixed with ambient music turn listening to this tune into a distinct and dense journey through darkness.

In the acoustic ballad Halle Ravine, it’s time for Lilith Astaroth to give life to the song’s poetic lyrics, bringing hope and melancholy at the same time to our hearts, with the song’s smoother sonority also showcasing how versatile Cryvas is as a musician; followed by Against the Northern Wind, where blast beats ignite a flammable fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with Folk and Dark Metal, once again presenting paradoxical elements that create a unique experience to the listener. Moreover, Cryvas’ demonic roars and Grushenka’s angelical voice complement each other in a superb way, making it impossible not to feel touched by all sounds blasted by the band, all reaching deep inside our hearts and souls. A Seventh Age of Fire brings forward almost 10 minutes of top-tier extreme music by Cryvas and his crew, where Aaron not only proves he’s a rabid beast behind his drums, but he also displays an extremely refined technique, therefore adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. And effectively complementing this stylish aria, Cryvas offers us all some epic church-inspired pipes, with all instruments converging to a climatic acoustic ending with the song’s lyrics yet again coming from a dark and thrilling fairy tale (“Be brave and you will be protected / Be wise and you will be rewarded / (Hear in our silence that we are at peace / Our mantle passed to you) / Light again the ancient flame / Lead our people back home”). And before all is said and done, we’re treated to the instrumental outro The Witching Meadow, a song that contains several elements found in Folk Metal, with its kick-ass piano notes generating a comforting atmosphere to end this fantastic album in great fashion.

You can enjoy this fairy tale of Extreme Metal in full on YouTube, follow Dzö-nga on Facebook, listen to their other creations on SoundCloud, and obviously purchase The Sachem’s Tales at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Avantgard Music’s BandCamp, on Amazon or at Discogs. Having said that, let’s hope that this gargantuan, hazy creature named Dzö-nga keeps haunting not only mountain Kangchenjunga, but everywhere else in the world where high-quality metal music is appreciated for many years yet to come.

Best moments of the album: To the Great Salt Water and Against the Northern Wind.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Midewiwin Lodge (Instrumental) 2:35
2. To the Great Salt Water 8:49
3. The Wolves Fell Quiet 7:23
4. Halle Ravine (feat. Lilith Astaroth) 4:04
5. Against the Northern Wind 7:16
6. A Seventh Age of Fire 9:23
7. The Witching Meadow (Instrumental) 3:26

Band members
Cryvas – vocals, all instruments
Grushenka Ødegård – vocals

Guest musicians
Aaron Maloney – drums (session)
Lilith Astaroth – vocals on “Halle Ravine”

Album Review – Moonspell / 1755 (2017)

An orchestral and emotional concept album sang completely in Portuguese that will take you to the year of the horror when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.

The year of 1755 marks the year of the horror when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon, when almost 100 thousand souls lost their lives, and this tragic event is still considered one of the most disastrous catastrophes in European history and nature. Now in 2017, in remembrance of the victims and the band’s hometown, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake was turned into a vicious, rip-roaring concept album straightforwardly titled 1755, the twelfth full-length studio release by Portuguese Dark Metal masters Moonspell, an orchestral and emotional adventure sang completely in Portuguese (which gives the whole album an additional poetic touch) that will transport your mind and soul to November 1, 1755, the holy day of All Saints’ Day and the day that the earth shook like never before in Lisbon.

There are a few remarkable differences between 1755 and Moonspell’s latest releases such as Night Eternal, Alpha Noir/Omega White and especially Extinct, as the band “distanced” themselves a little from the more Gothic and melodic approach from the past decade to venture through the realms of symphonic and epic sounds, and the final result couldn’t be more breathtaking. Featuring a lavish artwork by Portuguese artist João Diogo (Dramafall), 1755 might not be an easy listen at first for newcomers to the world of Moonspell or even to longtime fans of the band who don’t know a single word in Portuguese, but the final result is so compelling, sharp and cohesive I’m sure the whole album will grow on you until it becomes a mandatory part of your day-to-day playlist.

When I first saw the tracklist for 1755 I asked myself why they added one of their old songs as the opening track of the album, but after hitting play everything made sense. Em Nome Do Medo (or “in the name of fear”) is an obscure, haunting and absolutely awesome orchestral version for their biggest classic sung in Portuguese, from their 2012 album Alpha Noir/Omega White (take a listen at the original version HERE), with highlights to the superb job done by guest musician Jon Phipps (who actually created the orchestrations for the whole album) and the insanely beautiful choir (comprised of the amazing Crystal Mountain Singers and Tristania’s own Mariangela Dermutas) that accompanies frontman Fernando Ribeiro and his piercing vocals, and that epic aura of darkness goes on in the title-track 1755, where keyboardist Pedro Paixão delivers as usual some insane keys that complement the guitar sounds flawlessly. And what to say about Ricardo Amorim’s souful guitar solo? Put differently, I simply can’t wait to witness Moonspell playing this metallic opera live. And leaning towards a more metallic, rockin’ vein we have the threatening In Tremor Dei (or “fear Of God”), presenting the band’s characteristic Dark Metal with Fernando being beautifully supported by guest vocalist Paulo Bragança (who supplies the trenchant voice of a Fado fallen angel who is a big part of the Portuguese culture), with the song’s lyrics perfectly depicting the fire, wreckage, despair and death that took over Lisbon that day.

Desastre (the Portuguese word for “disaster”) gets closer to what the band did in Night Eternal, with Fernando’s growls sounding deeper and more enraged as he screams the word “culpado” (or “guilty” in English) with all his fury. Furthermore, the beats by drummer Miguel Gaspar will hit you hard inside your mind, showing how acute the entire album is. Then orchestral elements shine in another great display of Dark Metal blended with classical music titled Abanão (which means “quake” or “shakeup”), where Pedro once again boosts the song’s epicness with his keyboards while Miguel and bassist Aires Pereira live up to the song’s name with their rumbling beats and bass punches, respectively; followed by Evento (or “event”), where Moonspell keep blending their own sonority from Night Eternal with Memorial and more intense elements from orchestral music, not to mention how its lyrics showcase the thin line between love and hate people experience with religion. It’s another one of the top moments of the album, and needless to say it should also sound fantastic if played live. And 1 De Novembro (or “1st of November”), in reference to the day the earthquake happened, brings forward a more contemporary version of Moonspell where Fernando’s voice sounds considerably different than usual and where tons of heaviness and epicness arise due to the excellent job done by Pedro and Miguel on keys and drums.

1755 Deluxe Box

Then infused with modern Gothic and Dark Metal similar to what they did in the darkest and most melancholic tracks of Alpha Noir/Omega White, but with an epic twist, Ruínas (or “ruins”) displays an 80’s-inspired rhythm where the bass lines by Aires sound ominous, with its lyrics passionately declaimed by Fernando transmitting a true sense of hopelessness, setting the tone for Todos Os Santos (or “all saints”), one of the strongest tracks of the album and the musical depiction of the eternal war between men and God. Its thrilling guitars combined with the powerful vocals by Fernando and its thunderous backing vocals result in top-notch Moonspell music, also presenting a catchy-as-hell chorus (even if you don’t know anything in Potuguese) in a beyond perfect closing to such sad and important event in the history of Portugal. As a matter of fact, there’s still one more song in the regular version of the album, their cover version for Brazilian rock band Os Paralamas do Sucesso’s hit Lanterna Dos Afogados (listen to the original song HERE), feeling more like a “bonus” than a regular track and sounding very somber, melancholic and touching, with Fernando giving a lesson in dark vocals. Moreover, if you go with any of the special editions of 1755, you’ll also be treated to the Spanish version of Desastre, which according to Moonspell themselves is a homage to all their Spanish-speaking fans around the world, as in the late 18th century a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese was spoken in the streets of Lisbon.

What Moonspell did in 1755, turning all devastation, death and grief from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake into first-class art, is not only terrific musically speaking, but it also proves that the human being is capable of finding beauty even in the most adverse moments, and I guess that’s some sort of subliminal message the band wanted to send us all with this excellent album. With that said, go grab your favorite version of 1755 at the Napalm Records webshop, or at the band’s own BandCamp page or official European webstore, and learn more about one of the saddest and most terrifying day in the history of Portugal. 1755 might be known as the year of the horror, as the year when God abandoned the people of Lisbon, but at least we have Moonspell to properly tell that grim story to us all and to soothe our hearts and souls forevermore with their undisputed Dark Metal.

Best moments of the album: 1755, In Tremor Dei, Evento and Todos Os Santos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Em Nome Do Medo 5:32
2. 1755 5:12
3. In Tremor Dei 4:26
4. Desastre 3:22
5. Abanão 4:08
6. Evento 4:43
7. 1 De Novembro 3:53
8. Ruínas 4:45
9. Todos Os Santos 5:10
10. Lanterna Dos Afogados (Os Paralamas do Sucesso cover) 6:30

Deluxe Box/Digipak/Limited Edition/Japanese Edition bonus track
11. Desastre (Spanish Version) 3:36

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards, guitars
Aires Pereira – bass
Miguel Gaspar – drums

Guest musicians
Jon Phipps – orchestrations
Paulo Bragança – vocals on “In Tremor Dei”
Martin Lopez – darbuka in “1755”
Crystal Mountain Singers (Carmen Simões, Alexandra Bernardo, Silvia Guerreiro) and Mariangela Dermutas – choirs

Album Review – Eli van Pike / Welcome to My Dark Side (2017)

Welcome to the dark and melodic world of Gothic Metal, Neue Deutsche Härte and Industrial Metal ruled by three outstanding musicians who will certainly fuel your inner passion for industrialized sounds.

Combining the best elements of Gothic Metal, Neue Deutsche Härte and Industrial Metal, creating their own identity and remaining true to a tougher musical line, German-American Industrial Metal entity Eli van Pike is releasing its debut album Welcome to My Dark Side, comprised of ten unique compositions with its lyrics being in both German and English, often representing a mirror of the abysses of the human psyche. Not only is this new project highly recommended for admirers of the music played by renowned acts such as Rammstein, Eisbrecher, Oomph! and Lindemann, but it’s also a very interesting option for newcomers who are always seeking for darker sounds with a strong melodic vein.

Formed in 2016 by German musician Thorsten Eligehausen (Schandpfahl, Cradle Of Haze) together with German multi-instrumentalist Marc Vanderberg (Devil May Care) and American singer Ken Pike (Firesphere), therefore the name Eli van Pike, composed of parts of the names of the band members, the project debuted in 2016 with the singles Even Heros Fall and Tears of War, getting in the focus of the Gothic and Industrial Metal scene. In 2017, after releasing an EP titled Herzschlag, it’s time for Thorsten and his crew to reach new heights with their debut full-length album, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself singing, dancing or simply banging your head to most of the songs of the album due to its high level of electricity and feeling.

And the eccentric Eli van Pike begin their industrialized attack on a high note with the Teutonic hymn Made in Germany, with the keys by Thorsten together with the brutal riffs by Marc forging a fierce and pleasant Industrial Metal sounding, also presenting a great balance between the clean vocals by Ken and the deeper growls by Thorsten. Herzschlag, or “heartbeat” in German, a powerful Neue Deutsche Härte hymn with the heaviness from guitars and drums being boosted by the song’s old school keyboards, transpires a Rammstein-inspired vibe, in special through the obscure vocals by Thorsten, but it’s in the next song that their metallic vein gets to a whole new level of insanity. Faster and crazier (but still very melodic), the thrilling 1-2-frei is pure Neue Deutsche Härte, with the addictive guitar lines by Marc being the icing on the cake of such industrialized hymn.

Although it’s hard to “accept” a ballad in an Industrial Metal album, World on Fire kind of works well: it might not the best ballad in the world, but its solid instrumental and decent lyrics make it a lot more enjoyable. Back to a much harder and more obscure sonority, Tears of War is exciting from start to finish, with the German words vocalized by Thorsten darkening the music even more while Marc keeps kicking ass with his riffs and Ken once again brings epicness to the overall result with his passionate vocals. Slowing down a bit, the band offers us One Last Rose, a fusion of Industrial Metal with 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal, hence presenting all the elements of a dark hit, with highlights to the song’s melodic vocals in sync with its piercing synths, followed by Peter, 41,  another industrialized composition that will rock the hell out of you. Moreover, Thorsten sounds simply amazing with his cryptic, deep voice, while Marc continues to add electricity and groove to the music with his strings.

The title-track Welcome to My Dark Side is a fantastic display of modern and fresh Neue Deutsche Härte, offering the listener heavy sounds mixed with gentle vocals and sharp keyboards, also showcasing a Dark Metal aura in the background the likes of Moonspell. After such amazing display of dark music, Eli van Pike’s blackened, mechanized attack goes on with a frantic creation entitled Amen, bringing forward three minutes of Stygian vocals by Thorsten supported by the slashing riffs by Marc. In other words, this is another one of their songs that will certainly put people to dance at an underground metal party. However, instead of closing the album with such magnificent tune, the trio ventures through the realms of acoustic ballads in Valentine’s Day, and let me be honest with you, in my humble opinion acoustic guitars should never be used in any Industrial Metal album under any circumstances. It’s not that the song is bad, but it’s completely disconnected from the rest of the album, sounding like filler in the end. Maybe with some electronic elements in the background this western-ish ballad could have been more enjoyable, or at least more in line with the concept behind Eli van Pike.

Anyway, despite this slight lapse of electricity, overall Welcome to My Dark Side is a damn good album taking into account the fact that the band has been together for just a short period of time. In case you want to know more about the project, go check their Facebook page and listen to their music on YouTube or Spotify, and buy Welcome to My Dark Side on BandCamp, at the darkSIGN-Records’ webstore, on iTunes, on Amazon or on Qobuz. And always remember, you’re welcome to join the dark side of Industrial Metal created by Eli van Pike any time, a project so compelling it will definitely fuel your inner passion for industrialized sounds.

Best moments of the album: 1-2-frei, Tears of War, Welcome to my Dark Side and Amen.

Worst moments of the album: World on Fire and Valentine’s Day.

Released in 2017 darkSIGN-Records

Track listing 
1. Made in Germany 4:10
2. Herzschlag 3:45
3. 1-2-frei 2:54
4. World on Fire 4:02
5. Tears of War 4:57
6. One Last Rose 3:40
7. Peter, 41 3:34
8. Welcome to My Dark Side 3:17
9. Amen 2:59
10. Valentine’s Day 2:28

Band members
Thorsten Eligehausen – vocals, keyboards
Marc Vanderberg – guitars, drum & bass programming
Ken Pike – vocals

Album Review – Madness Of Sorrow / N.W.O. The Beginning (2017)

Depicting the corrupt and sick system in which humanity is living, the new album by this Italian duo of Gothic and Horror Metal will certainly entertain you with its high dosage of acidness, energy and creativity.

Although the ceaseless danger of the emergence of a totalitarian world government (the conspiracy theory known as the New World Order) might incite fear in our hearts, it also fuels the creativity from artists all over the world, including Italian Gothic/Horror Metal band Madness Of Sorrow with their brand new release, titled N.W.O. The Beginning, the fourth studio album in their career. Depicting the corrupt and sick system in which humanity is living, focusing specifically on corporations, sex and serial killers, and featuring a dark and acid artwork by Italian artist Graziano Roccatani, N.W.O. The Beginning will take you on a journey through the shadows of our decaying world, showcasing how exciting heavy music can be when powered by controversial and disturbing topics.

Formed in March 2011 by multi-instrumentalist Murihell (aka Muriel Saracino) from the ashes of Italian Gothic Metal/Hard Rock group Filthy Teens in the region of Pisa and Livorno, in Tuscany (but currently located in Val d’Aosta, a region of northwest Italy bordered by France and Switzerland), Madness Of Sorrow are constantly delivering high-quality music for fans of Gothic and Horror Metal, starting with their debut album Signs in 2011, which by the way led them to play in 2012 in Milan with Italian Gothic Metal icons Cadaveria, followed by Take the Children Away from the Priest in 2013 and more recently III: The Beast in 2015. The project takes now one step further with N.W.O. The Beginning, their first album featuring new singer Prophet (aka Diego Carnazzola), widening their music horizons and venturing on new sounds unexplored by the band in their previous releases.

The intro N.W.O. welcomes the listener with an eerie voice talking about the aforementioned conspiracy theory, working as a warm-up for Salomon, where Prophet blasts powerful growls as well as dark, clean vocals while Murihell delivers a Gothic, industrial and obscure musicality, blending the styles by Mercyful Fate and Ministry (which translates into pure wickedness, of course), followed by the excellent Inside the Church, a song that should sound fantastic when played live, bringing elements from Thrash and Death Metal in its riffs and beats, not to mention its awesome accelerated pace and catchy lyrics and chorus. And despite almost sounding as a ballad, You’re Not Alone also presents the darkened elements commonly found in the music by Madness Of Sorrow, being a very good example of a song by an extreme band that could be played in any radio station, with highlights to the top-notch clean vocals by Prophet.

Speeding things up again, the duo offers a fast-paced and aggressive tune drinking from the fountains of Thrash and Gothic Metal entitled Necrophilia, with the slashing guitar lines by Murihell together with Prophet’s demented screams being all that’s needed to ignite some fun mosh pits during their live concerts. More modern and Gothic than all previous songs, Slut brings forward lyrics that are extremely porn and nasty, in line with what the music proposes, but that for obvious reasons cannot be played on any radio station; whereas R.I.P. is a song where Murihell showcases all his talent and passion for metal, sounding more melodic, rhythmic and leaning towards more traditional Heavy Metal, with even some hints of Symphonic Metal coming from its background keyboards. In Zombified, smooth but dark keys and low-tuned bass lines build a demonic ambience perfect for Prophet to darkly declaim the song’s wicked lyrics in a solid display of contemporary Gothic Metal for fans of the genre.

Keep Your Head Down, an interesting composition by this skillful duo from Italy, offers more of their Gothic and Symphonic Metal, albeit being slightly repetitive in my opinion (in special its chorus), whereas in DNA what feels like Gothic Metal at first becomes a vicious display of Dark and Industrial Metal with elements from Thrash Metal, proving how versatile the duo is. Moreover, Murihell does an amazing job on drums and guitars, paving the path for Prophet and his raging vocals to thrive. And with a Down with the Sickness-inspired beginning, but bringing forward elements from Melodic Death Metal in its guitars and beats, the awesome S.O.S displays a rockin’ rhythm and effective breaks throughout its three minutes to keep the sound always fresh and vibrant, therefore turning it into one of the best songs of the album (if not the best), flowing into a tribal Outro that also presents the band’s trademark obscure sounding.

In summary, the New World Order might fortunately be just a theory (at least for now), but Madness Of Sorrow are an exciting reality and the music you’ll find in their new album is highly recommended for facing our everyday issues and struggles due to its elevated amount of energy and creativity. You can find more information about them at their official Facebook page, and enjoy their music on YouTube as well as on Spotify. And in order to grab your copy of N.W.O. The Beginning, simply go to iTunes or to Amazon. But hurry up, before the New World Order is finally born and comes to destroy our freedom, our music and arts in general.

Best moments of the album: Inside the Church, You’re Not Alone and S.O.S.

Worst moments of the album: Keep Your Head Down.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. N.W.O. 0:35
2. Salomon 3:26
3. Inside the Church 3:36
4. You’re Not Alone 3:21
5. Necrophilia 3:26
6. Slut 3:23
7. R.I.P. 3:26
8. Zombified 3:37
9. Keep Your Head Down 4:26
10. DNA 3:46
11. S.O.S 3:11
12. Outro 1:26

Band members
Prophet – vocals
Murihell – guitars, bass, drums

Live lineup
Prophet – vocals
Murihell – guitars
Hades – bass
Kronork – drums

Album Review – Mord’A’Stigmata / Hope (2017)

Explore the obscure sea of negativity and spirituality crafted by this up-and-coming Polish unit, all embraced by atmospheric passages, caustic guitars and tormented growls.

Formed by guitarist, composer and main visionary Static in 2004 in Bochnia, a town located only around 50km from the multicultural city of Kraków, in southern Poland, Black/Avantgarde Metal act Mord’A’Stigmata has been on a constant growth since the band’s inception, reinventing themselves year after year with each album released and, at the same time, maintaining a reasonable distance from the main routes taken by extreme music in general. After the considerable success of their 2013 full-length album Ansia and their 2015 EP Our Hearts Slow Down, Mord’A’Stigmata return with their fourth full-length album, titled Hope, a bold musical statement that has all it takes to become their most accomplished work to date.

Divided into four distinct chapters, Hope is a ride into the palest corners of the void within oneself, a landscape of deep melancholy adorned with sparks of light that will please fans of bands such as Agalloch, Neurosis and Altar of Plagues. The album’s enigmatic artwork, designed by Bartek Rogalewicz from Hellywood (who has already worked with iconic groups like Rogi, Non Opus Dei and Behemoth), represents exactly what you’ll face in Hope, an obscure sea of negativity and spirituality embraced by lugubrious and atmospheric passages, caustic guitars and tormented growls, providing you a full-bodied experience in avant-garde extreme music.

The distorted but melodious lines crafted by guitarists Golem XIV and Static kick-off the 12-minute aria of darkness Hope, an ominous fusion of Black and Doom Metal where lead singer and bassist Ion effectively darkens the musicality with his hellish gnarls. Not only that, the band also brings forward hints of Blackened Doom and Dark Metal with their instruments, especially after four minutes when Ion delivers some deep clean vocals, with the music displaying a hypnotic pace until the song’s ardent ending. That obscure aura goes on in the Stygian and intricate composition The Tomb from Fear and Doubt, with drummer DQ and his doomed beats leading the rhythm while Ion grasps the song’s somber lyrics (“Have you ever lost something you ever had? / Have you ever missed someone that never was? / Have you ever stared into the abyss / with the matches stuck between the eyelids?”) and all instruments maintain a sulphuric stench reeking in the air. In addition to that, once again blending the darkest and most visceral elements from Black and Doom Metal, the wicked sounds emanating from the last part of the song will penetrate deep in your blackened soul without a shadow of a doubt.

Rhythmic beats and cursed guitars ignite another fantastic composition by Mord’A’Stigmata, entitled To Keep the Blood, where a melancholic but fierce instrumental builds the desired ambience for Ion to thrive with his devilish growls. This is not only the song with the most electrified vibe, but also a newborn hymn of Black and Doom Metal, with Golem XIV and Static enhancing the song’s impact considerably through their sharp guitar lines. Lastly, in the mournful In Less than No Time, tribal drumming and the band’s trademark damned sounds create a mesmerizing tone, growing in intensity until Ion comes vociferating his hopeless words (“There is a kind of grief / Can’t be expressed by tears / Nor yelled into the night / On an empty field”). Presenting elements from the music by Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Katatonia and other icons of Doom Metal, this beautiful creation by Mord’A’Stigmata is the perfect fourth and final act for Hope, with highlights to the superb work done by DQ on drums.

You can find all details about the chthonic creations of this talented quarter from Poland, as well as their current tour dates and plans for the future, through their Facebook page, with Hope being available for purchase at their official BandCamp page, at the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page or webshop in CD-digipack, in LP format, as a CD + T-shirt combo or as an LP + T-shirt combo, as well as on Amazon and at Discogs. After putting your hands on Hope, simply let the darkness blasted by Mord’A’Stigmata fill your inner void, guiding you on a path of no return to the underworld of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: To Keep the Blood.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. Hope 12:02
2. The Tomb from Fear and Doubt 12:08
3. To Keep the Blood 8:45
4. In Less than No Time 11:30

Band members
Ion – vocals, bass
Golem XIV – guitars
Static – guitars
DQ – drums