Album Review – Rifftera / Across the Acheron (2019)

Let’s brave the waters of the Acheron to the sound of the brand new opus by this talented Melodic Death and Thrash Metal squad from Finland.

If in 2015 a Finnish Melodic Death Metal band that goes by the stylish name of Rifftera stunned us all with their  aggressive and futuristic debut opus Pitch Black, now in 2019 it’s time for this talented Vaasa-base squad comprised of Janne Hietala and Mikko Kuoppamaa on vocals and guitars, Jupe Karhu on bass, Antti Pöntinen on keyboards and newcomer Ville Härkönen on drums to take another amazing step in their more-than-promising career with Across the Acheron, which is not only their sophomore release but an album that exhales harmony, electricity and rage, bringing a well-balanced and thrilling fusion of Death and Thrash Metal for both fans of what the band presented in their previous album as well as newcomers to their whimsical realm of modern-day metal music.

Featuring once again a beautiful cover art by Petri Lampela, who besides Rifftera has already worked with other excellent bands like  Vinide and Ratbreed, Across the Acheron might have taken longer than expected to be released, but the wait was definitely worth it as each and every song of the album is an absolute feast of first-class Melodic Death Metal. “The aim was basically to take steps forward from our debut in every aspect and we are really happy with the result. In my honest and not at all biased opinion I think that clear improvement was achieved musically, lyrically and production-wise,” commented lead singer and guitarist Janne, complementing his thought by saying that “when it comes to comparing the music between Across the Acheron and Pitch Black, I would say that our expression has reached new levels on both ends of the spectrum; some parts on the new album are more brutal than anything that what we had on Pitch Black and then again some songs are more straight forward and melodic than before. Overall it could be described that the building blocks are the same but writing and performing skills have evolved.”

The opening track Burning Paradise already showcases an epic start led by the always cinematic keys by Antti, being gradually joined by all other instruments until all hell breaks loose to a deep, enraged roar by Janne, becoming an almost Blackened Death Metal tune infused with Melodic and Industrial Metal elements where both Janne and Mikki slash their guitars in a piercing manner. Then we have the 8-minute extravaganza Two Sides of the Story, sounding very close to what they did in Pitch Black, with Ville simply demolishing his drums while Jupe and Antti generate a captivating background sounding with their instruments, also delivering tons of harmony and ethereal vibes for our total delight; followed by Eye of the Storm, a rhythmic, imposing and thrilling display of contemporary Scandinavian metal, showcasing pounding drums, epic keys and a dark and menacing atmosphere. Furthermore, Janne and Mikko have a very healthy “duel” of vocal styles, and as they sing during the entire song, it’s indeed beautiful to enjoy their ass-kicking metal music when you’re “in the eye of the storm”.

And those Finnish metallers keep invading our senses with their fusion of futuristic sounds and endless harmony in Cutthroat Game, with both guitars sounding as sharp as a knife while the bass punches by Jupe get even more thunderous then before, accompanied by Ville’s nonstop drums. After such crushing tune, it’s time to speed things up a bit in the superb Cry Wolf, led by Janne’s deranged growls and with Antti bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the sonority through his keys, resulting in what’s the most metallic and visceral of all songs; whereas Warmonger is another brutal composition tailored for cracking your neck in half headbanging, with Mikko’s clean vocals and Antti’s spot-on keys bringing some peace and hope to all devastation blasted by their bandmates. Not only that, the song’s main riff will entice you to keep bang your head nonstop, which obviously means this is an amazing option to be added to their setlist during their live concerts. Things slow down a bit in Deep Waters, getting more melodic, delicate and introspective than its predecessors but still exhaling the band’s characteristic rage, with the always inspiring keys by Antti stealing the spotlight and, therefore, keeping the level of electricity high, setting the stage for the 11-minute aria Across the Acheron, a very detailed and cinematic exhibit of their Melodic Death and Thrash Metal where you’ll be enfolded by inspiring passages, melodious riffs and solos, powerful vocals and violent growls. Moreover, this song has an amazing vibe and a touch of delicacy that only a band like Rifftera can bring you directly from the stunning Scandinavia, ending the album on a high, ominous and majestic mode.

It’s always a pleasure watching a hardworking and honest group of skillful musicians like Rifftera evolving like what they did from Pitch Black to their new album Across the Acheron, and in order to show them our true support don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to listen to their music on Spotify, and of course purchase your copy of Across the Acheron from the Inverse Records webstore, from Record Shop X, from iTunes, or from Amazon. In ancient Greek mythology, the Acheron was known as the “river of woe”, and was one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld. Having said that, I guess it’s time for all of us fans of Melodic Death Metal to brave the waters of the Acheron together with Rifftera, and face all the perils the underworld might bring us to the sound of their brand new and excellent album.

Best moments of the album: Eye of the Storm, Cry Wolf and Warmonger.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Burning Paradise 6:12
2. Two Sides of the Story 8:04
3. Eye of the Storm 6:34
4. Cutthroat Game 6:12
5. Cry Wolf 5:08
6. Warmonger 6:29
7. Deep Waters 4:50
8. Across the Acheron 11:20

Band members
Janne Hietala – guitars, harsh vocals
Mikko Kuoppamaa – guitars, clean vocals
Jupe Karhu – bass
Antti Pöntinen – keyboards
Ville Härkönen – drums

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Album Review – Meathook / Crypts, Coffins, Corpses (2019)

Terror is coming in the form of an absolute ode to all things brutal by this ruthless and demented Death Metal squad from Arizona.

The very first album review of 2019 is an absolute ode to all things brutal, and I’m sure you’ll feel completely disoriented after listening to its 31 minutes of pulverizing and gruesome extreme music. I’m talking about Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, the third full-length installment by American Brutal Death Metal unity Meathook, released on January 1 via Unmatched Brutality Records. Formed in 2007 in Phoenix, Arizona by the Gonzales Brothers, Meathook are ready to strike again six years after the the cruel assault of their 2012 album, Facing Deformity, and their depraved inclinations have only become more sickening with the passage of time.

If the dreams of the deranged could be captured in music, if the tales of their sleeping journeys through kingdoms of the unspeakable and grotesque were vomited out from the mouths of demons, then you would have the sound found in Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, comprised of nine crushing hymns of old school, unrelenting Brutal Death Metal highly recommended for fans of Devourment, Skinless, Ingested and Terrordrome, among other utterly vicious and demolishing metal bands. As the new year begins, a new age of dark dreams and devastation will dawn with the new opus by Meathook, so simply say goodbye to quiet nights and untroubled sleep because terror is coming in the form of the most extreme type of music you can think of.

Wicked noises explode into sheer brutality led by the demented beats by drummer Johnny Gonzales in the opening track Awaiting Torment, while lead singer Mars Gonzales barks like a rabid demon in a feast of violent, gory and visceral sounds just the way we like it; and their onrush of crushing noises goes on in Cauldron of Dead Bodies, a lesson in Brutal Death Metal where guitarists Robin Mack and Aaron Gonzales decimate their strings beautifully, delivering classic Death Metal riffs while the roars by Mars get deeper and deeper. Then Mars once again leads his horde of sick bastards in Purification Through Pain, almost vomiting the lyrics (and therefore making it quite impossible to follow them) while Johnny pulverizes everything and everyone with his bestial drumming, followed by the fulminating title-track Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, perfect for braking your spinal cord in half headbanging, with Robin and Aaron being in total sync with their axes supported by the low-tuned punches by bassist Elliot Thomas in a lecture in gore and dementia. And in Placed Upon the Altar we’re treated to a high-octane devastation bringing the most disturbing and gruesome elements from Brutal Death Metal such as inhumane growls, incendiary guitars and nonstop blast beats, or in other words, another sensational creation by this devilish Death Metal squad.

Leaning towards old school Cannibal Corpse but at the same time presenting a more contemporary vibe, Temples Made From Flesh is a song perfect for slamming into the pit, with Mars sounding absolutely monstrous on vocals, whereas in Disseminated Remains an operatic intro morphs into an ass-kicking display of savagery led by Johnny’s potent and rhythmic beats, hammering our heads mercilessly from start to finish. If you’re still alive after such gargantuan level of havoc blasted by Meathook up until now, you better get ready because the album’s second to last bloodthirsty extravaganza, titled Awakened by the Stench, is just as perverse and vile as the rest of the album, with Mars and Johnny complementing each other’s demonic roars and beats respectively. And last but not least, closing their Death Metal coffin the band offers our avid ears the insanely heavy and brutal Coils of Entrails, presenting hints of the most devastating form of Grindcore, not to mention Mars’ spine-tingling screeches and gnarls as well as Robin’s and Aaron’s razor-edged riffs.

If you have what it takes to face the disturbing and thunderous Death Metal by Meathook, you can take a detailed listen at Crypts, Coffins, Corpses on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you’re already a longtime member of the Death Metal underworld you can purchase your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Unmatched Brutality Records webstore, or from the Comatose Music webstore. As aforementioned, the first review of 2019 was going to be a total carnage, and we have to thank the guys from Meathook  for kicking off this new year on such a high, apocalyptic and barbaric mode for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Cauldron of Dead Bodies, Crypts, Coffins, Corpses and Placed Upon the Altar.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Unmatched Brutality Records

Track listing
1. Awaiting Torment 3:28
2. Cauldron of Dead Bodies 3:39
3. Purification Through Pain 3:09
4. Crypts, Coffins, Corpses 3:38
5. Placed Upon the Altar 3:19
6. Temples Made From Flesh 3:04
7. Disseminated Remains 3:56
8. Awakened by the Stench 3:32
9. Coils of Entrails 3:37

Band members
Mars Gonzales – vocals
Robin Mack – guitar
Aaron Gonzales – guitar
Elliot Thomas – bass
Johnny Gonzales – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018

“Chasing a dream as I go higher
Playing it mean, my heart’s on fire
Living my life, ain’t no pretender
Ready to fight with no surrender.” – No Surrender, by Judas Priest

Another year goes by and, as usual, we lost a lot of good people, including family and friends. In heavy music, 2018 was the year several amazing musicians passed away, such as Dave Holland (former drummer of Judas Priest), Ralph Santolla (former guitarist of Iced Earth, Deicide, Death and Obituary), Vinnie Paul (the talented drummer of Hellyeah, Pantera and Damageplan), Jill Janus (the stunning vocalist of Huntress), and “Fast” Eddie Clarke, one of the meanest guitarists in history and the last of Motörhead’s “Three Amigos”, signaling the definitive end of Motörhead’s classic lineup. Not only that, we also saw the one and only Glenn Tipton, the iconic lead guitarist for Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest and one of the most influential guitar players in the history of metal, opening up about his ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and, as a consequence, having to pull out of the 2018 tour due to his health issues. However, as the Metal Gods themselves sing in their new ass-kicking song No Surrender, we can’t surrender and should keep on fighting with our heads high, always listening to our good old Heavy Metal to inspire us to face our daily struggles.

Enough said already, how about we show the world that we metalheads are still here, always ready for a fight, and that metal music is alive and kicking with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums? From classic bands like Judas Priest, Behemoth and Immortal, to underground bands from all four corners of the earth like Ukraine’s 1914, Australia’s Rise of Avernus and Canada’s Altars of Grief, we can say that 2018 was a damn good year for our beloved Heavy Metal, pointing to a promising future for all its genres and subgenres and proving once again that metal unites us all it doesn’t matter where we live, our culture, language, race or religion. So, get ready to raise your horns and bang your heads nonstop to our selection of best metal albums of the year, and always remember… NO SURRENDER!

1. Judas Priest – Firepower (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Firepower

2. Blaze Bayley – The Redemption of William Black (REVIEW)
What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Enjoy the dramatic conclusion to Blaze’s stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.
Best song of the album: The Dark Side of Black

3. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (REVIEW)
Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before.
Best song of the album: Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica

4. Dragonlord – Dominion (REVIEW)
Exploring themes of darkness, here comes Eric Peterson’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.
Best song of the album: Northlanders

5. Primal Fear – Apocalypse (REVIEW)
The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity and melody.
Best song of the album: The Ritual

6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (REVIEW)
The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Mighty Ravendark

7. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind (REVIEW)
It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these Ukrainian Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen.
Best song of the album: Passchenhell

8. Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau (REVIEW)
Here come Australia’s own Rise of Avernus with their most symphonic, heaviest and darkest opus thus far.
Best song of the album: Eigenlicht

9. Altars of Grief – Iris (REVIEW)
A superb album of Canadian Blackened Doom narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.
Best song of the album: Broken Hymns

10. Marduk – Viktoria (REVIEW)
A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound.
Best song of the album: Viktoria

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory (REVIEW)
12. Motorjesus – Race to Resurrection (REVIEW)
13. Borgne – [∞] (REVIEW)
14. SynlakrosS – Malice Murder (REVIEW)
15. Xenoblight – Procreation (REVIEW)
16. Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (REVIEW)
17. Tamerlan Empire – Age of Ascendancy (REVIEW)
18. Coiled Around Thy Spine – Shades (REVIEW)
19. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura (REVIEW)
20. NovaReign – Legends (REVIEW)

In addition, how about another round of awesome albums released this year, this time presenting to you our Top 10 EP’s of 2018? Those shorter-than-a-regular-album but still heavier-than-hell releases are like going to a fancy restaurant, where you might not get a humongous amount of food, but what’s served on your plate is more than enough to please your palate (or your ears, in this case). And, of course, you leave the place eager for more of that tasty and exquisite metal music.

1. Violent Life Violent Death – Come, Heavy Breath (REVIEW)
2. Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad (REVIEW)
3. Godless – Swarm (REVIEW)
4. The Black Swamp – Witches (REVIEW)
5. Progenie Terrestre Pura – starCross (REVIEW)
6. Lebowskii – Liquidators (REVIEW)
7. Geisterwald – Geisterwald (REVIEW)
8. Soul Dissolution – Nowhere (REVIEW)
9. Dark Archive – Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon (REVIEW)
10. Forte Ruin – Rebuilding the Machinery (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2018? Once again don’t forget to check Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Editorial Staff), tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a sensational fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of the underground and independent metal scene!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2019!

And last but not least, if you want to support Glenn Tipton and everyone else on their personal battles against Parkinson’s, you can purchase the official Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation Charity T-shirt by clicking HERE or make a direct donation following the instructions found HERE. You can always help your family, friends and fellow metalheads, as simple as that, and who knows, maybe we can make this world a better place to live.

Album Review – Godless / Swarm EP (2018)

Committed to pure, unadulterated, lightning-fast, ear-shredding, thrash-influenced Death Metal, this promising Indian act is ready to kill with their crushing and groovy sophomore EP.

From their inauspicious origins in 2015 in the city of Hyderabad, the capital of southern India’s Telangana state, within a very exotic metal music scene, Death/Thrash Metal squad Godless slowly rose to the very top of the country’s Death Metal class thanks to their unapologetic commitment to pure, unadulterated, lightning-fast, ear-shredding, thrash-influenced Death Metal. Comprised of Kaushal LS on vocals, Ravi Nidamarthy on the guitars, Abbas Razvi on bass and Aniketh Yadav on drums, Godless had an amazing year in 2018, having won the Wacken Metal Battle India, having played at the iconic Wacken Open Air as the great prize of the competition won, and having released their sophomore EP, a thrashing and groovy beast entitled Swarm.

Featuring a dark and devilish artwork by Khaos Diktator Design, Swarm deals with controversial themes such as zombification, cosmic horror, reanimation of the dead, occultism and religion. “We actually started to work on the Swarm EP right after our debut EP Centuries of Decadence. We didn’t really have any direction in mind but wrote the song Infected by the Black. Things naturally took on a more aggressive, thrashier and faster direction, and we just continued the flow from there on for the rest of the EP,” commented the band about their new album, inviting us all to slam into the pit and roar together with them on their quest for extreme music.

The soothing sound of water blended with cryptic, otherworldly noises in the intro Exordium set the stage for Godless to decimate our senses in Infected By The Black, blasting a more demonic version of the already heavy-as-hell Trash Metal by their countrymen SystemHouse33, and with Kaushal barking and roaring like a beast in a true Death Metal style while Aniketh pounds his drums frantically and with tons of groove. Following such pulverizing start we have From Beyond, another brutal tune blending the most electrifying elements from Thrash, Death and Groove Metal where Ravi’s riffs sound as metallic and piercing as possible, accompanied by Abbas and his menacing bass punches.

Then growling deeper and deeper like a rabid creature, Kaushal leads his henchmen in the fulminating Deathcult, presenting a crisp and thunderous sonority thanks to the fantastic sync between Abbas and Aniketh, not to mention Ravi’s incendiary guitar lines. Put differently, this is old school Thrash Metal infused with the most carnivorous elements from Death Metal, for the absolute delight of fans of extreme music. And last but not least, with the help of guest guitarist Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager (Obscura, Despotic, NYN), the quartet unleashes hell upon humanity with the thrashing and infernal tune Empty Graves, where Kaushal goes full Death Metal on vocals while Aniketh sounds like an unstoppable stone crusher on drums, bringing total chaos in the form of music to end the EP on a high and visceral note.

All the devastation and groove brought forth by Godless can be better appreciated by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by listening to more of their music on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing Swarm from their BandCamp page or webstore,  as well as from iTunes or Amazon. Because you know, whenever you feel the urge to slam into the circle pit and scream like a beast to the sound of crushing Death and Thrash Metal, you can count on this promising Indian act to provide you the perfect soundtrack to that.

Best moments of the album: Infected By The Black.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Exordium 0:51
2. Infected By The Black 3:33
3. From Beyond 3:44
4. Deathcult 3:24
5. Empty Graves (feat. Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager) 3:50

Band members
Kaushal LS – vocals
Ravi Nidamarthy – guitars
Abbas Razvi – bass
Aniketh Yadav – drums

Guest musician
Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlaeger – guitars on “Empty Graves”

Album Review – Tragacanth / The Journey of a Man (2018)

Follow the tale of a young man’s downward spiral into the abyss to the sound of the symphonic and progressive devastation blasted by this excellent Dutch quintet.

If you’re familiar with the work by Dutch Symphonic/Progressive Black/Death Metal act Tragacanth, having already listened to their 2015 debut full-length album Anthology of the East, you know how those five skilled metallers love to blend their entrancing melodies and symphonic sections with lyrical themes ranging from spiritual wars to mythical creatures, telling the tales of ancient Babylonian times. Now in 2018 it’s time for the band comprised of Terry Stooker on vocals, Erik Brouwer and Adrian Neagoe on the guitars, Mark Oosterbaan on bass and Jasper van Minnen on drums to strike once again with their sophomore opus entitled The Journey of a Man, this time showcasing a lyrical mix between mythological and purely personal topics, being recommended for fans of cult acts such as Nile, Carach Angren, Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth.

Formed in 2014 in Utrecht, a city in the central Netherlands that has been a religious center for centuries, Tragacanth are one of those bands that do not just create music, spicing up their creations with a fantastic storytelling, and their new album is the perfect depiction of their highly-developed musical and lyrical skills. “From the mystical, enigmatic Far East covered in Anthology of the East, this time we travel to Ancient Greek times where a young man finds out he is to perish soon. Wandering the complex maze of emotions and disease running through his veins, The Journey of a Man tells the tale of his downward spiral into the abyss,” commented the band about their newborn spawn, inviting us all to join this young man in his personal and very obscure journey.

Enter the ominous realm of Tragacanth to the sound of the eerie opening track Survival: Stagnate Reality, a lot more progressive than symphonic I might say, with the band’s guitarists Erik and Adrian giving a lecture in Progressive Death Metal, sounding utterly insane, heavy and intricate. And their creepy guitars and bass lines dictate the rhythm in Denial: They are Mistaken, where Terry sounds diabolical with his gnarling in a brilliant fusion of the Symphonic Black Metal by Dimmu Borgir with the Progressive Death Metal by bands like Augury and Virulent Depravity; followed by Anger: Kitrine Chole, a beautiful devastation blasted by Tragacanth where its bass lines will tremble inside your head while Jasper smashes your skull with his complex and powerful beats, not to mention how demonically Terry vociferates the song’s insane lyrics (“A black haze thwarts / My vision’s blurred / Sever the chains / Composure can’t hold / This pent up energy / The rage breaking free / The walls imploding destroying all what once was”).

Their demented feast of Progressive Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal goes on in the pulverizing Depression: Waning Light, featuring the angelical voice of Romanian vocalist Manuela Marchis, and where the drums by Jasper sound heavier than hell while Terry keeps growling and screaming rabidly, turning it into my favorite song of the album by far.  Then not ready to accept his fate, the man turns to the gods, with the path leading him to Hades, god of the underworld, Thanatos, the personification of death, and eventually to those cruel sisters of fate, the Moirai, resulting in the vibrant Bargaining: Will You Answer Me?, featuring guest vocalist Rik van Schaaik in the role of Hades and Thanatos, among other additional vocal lines, with the music being as infernal and complex as its predecessors thanks to the impressive job done by Erik, Adrian and Mark with their stringed weapons. And a cryptic, Middle-Eastern beginning evolves into a dense and impactful display of Progressive Metal in Nightmare: The Vision, with highlights to its mesmerizing bass punches and ass-kicking drums, ending in a very symphonic and captivating manner.

Once again drinking form the fountain of modern-day Progressive Death Metal, get ready to have your spinal cord broken in half to the brutal headbanging tune Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits, with the guitars by Erik and Adrian bringing a touch of delicacy to this sonic demolition, and their onrush of berserk and intricate sounds goes on in Suffering: The Essence Implodes, where Terry roars like a demon while Jasper shows no mercy for his drums (nor for our necks), also bringing the most pulverizing elements from Death and Black Metal thoroughly added to the musicality. Lastly, darker and more introspective than all previous songs we have Death: Journey’s End, closing the album on a Stygian note, with Erik and Adrian stealing the spotlight with their slashing riffs and soulful solos, not to mention all the poetry flowing form the song’s lyrics (“Let go / Enclaved by the river Styx / Lies a tomb for me / My celestial sanctuary / Let go / An eternal resting place / All alone and forgotten /The Asphodel Meadows”).

As already mentioned, Tragacanth are not your average metal band, being true masters in blending heavy music with a deep and detailed background story, always keeping in mind the band has only a couple of years of existence (which means they still have a lot to grow in the coming years). Hence, The Journey of a Man, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from several different locations such as their own BandCamp, the Pest Records’ BandCamp, the Loud Rage Music webstore, iTunes, Amazon and Discogs, is a fantastic materialization of that impressive ability by those four Dutch metallers, beautifully taking us down into the abyss together with the  album’s main character.

Best moments of the album: Anger: Kitrine Chole, Depression: Waning Light and Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits.

Worst moments of the album: Suffering: The Essence Implodes.

Released in 2018 Pest Records

Track listing  
1. Survival: Stagnate Reality 5:24
2. Denial: They are Mistaken 7:21
3. Anger: Kitrine Chole 4:25
4. Depression: Waning Light (feat. Manuela Marchis) 8:40
5. Bargaining: Will You Answer Me? (feat. Rik van Schaaik) 4:36
6. Nightmare: The Vision 4:54
7. Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits 5:18
8. Suffering: The Essence Implodes 4:55
9. Death: Journey’s End 6:34

Band members
Terry Stooker – vocals
Erik Brouwer – guitars
Adrian Neagoe – guitars
Mark Oosterbaan – bass
Jasper van Minnen – drums

Guest musicians
Manuela Marchis – vocals on “Depression: Waning Light”
Rik van Schaaik – vocals on “Bargaining: Will You Answer Me”

Album Review – Where’s My Bible / M’N’R (2018)

Blending rock and punk influences with the violence of Death, Thrash and Black Metal, this Finnish squad is more-than-ready to mosh and roll in their first full-length release.

Blending rock and punk influences with the more violent and austere Death, Thrash and Black Metal sounds, Finnish Mosh N’ Roll squad Where’s My Bible (and yes, that’s the actual name of the band) was formed in 2014 in the city of Heinola with the intention to just have fun and play, although the thought of being taken seriously quickly kicked in, culminating with the release of their debut EP named The Beginning in early 2016. A major milestone for the band, which is reflected in the title itself, the EP led the band to participate in several concerts and festivals in the following months, including a spot in the main stage of the renowned Tuska Open Air in 2017, secured after winning the Tuska-Torstai competition hosted by the festival.

The band kicked off 2018 by starting the recording of their debut album, simply titled M’N’R (the acronym for Mosh N’ Roll), an energetic and upbeat representation of the band’s sound, being released in the fall this year. In other words, if you enjoy slamming into the circle pit and enjoying a cold beer while listening to our good old Rock N’ Roll, but with a more venomous metal twist, get ready to rock together with frontman Jussi Matilainen, guitarists Toni Hinkkala and Pasi Löfgren, bassist Jarno Laakkonen and drummer Antti Jokinen, and enjoy all those fun bruises that high-octane feast of sounds will leave on your body.

A wicked intro kicks things off, setting the tone for the thrashing party titled Speedload, led by the rip-roaring riffs by Toni and Pasi, while Antti hammers his drums like a good thrasher that he is. Also presenting elements from Hardcore and Metalcore, this is not only a true headbanger but a fantastic welcome card by the band, with highlights to the sick growling by Jussi. If you love hitting the dance floor and crushing your skull, well, the time is now, as Where’s My Bible deliver a neck-breaking and vibrant tune named Dancefloor, with Toni and Pasi getting the support of Jarno and his thunderous bass to generate a dense and electrifying ambience, living up to the legacy of 80’s Thrash Metal with a modern vibe; and Jarno ignites another classy exhibit of Mosh N’ Roll titled Absinthe, bringing elements from Punk Rock and Hardcore to their already incendiary sonority. In addition, Jussi sounds even more demented on vocals, helping to keep the music violent and melodic from start to finish.

Then the acoustic and somewhat atmospheric bridge Interlude gives us time to recover our energies before Jussi comes growling as deep as a knife would go in Meatholder, a demolishing display of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore where the guitars by Toni and Pasi exhale heaviness, rage and harmony in an amazing sample of what the band is capable of. Faster than a bullet and as heavy as hell, Me Myself and I is a sonic extravaganza where Antti doesn’t stop pounding his drums in over six minutes of unrelenting Finnish Thrash Metal, getting considerably progressive and atmospheric towards its ending. Transcendence is another song that surpasses the six-minute barrier, something not very common for Thrash Metal bands, but that keeps the energy level high until its last second, which means there’s plenty of time for you to break your neck headbanging to the vicious riffs by Toni and Pasi while Jussi continues to bark and gnarl manically. And lastly as a bonus track we have Failure, originally recorded back in 2016 and featuring Leevi Luoto (responsible for guitars and clean vocals for Finnish Metalcore act One Morning Left), remaining aggressive, raw and frantic throughout its entirety.

In the end, I guess the best way to summarize M’N’R is by taking a few interesting steps. First of all, simply follow Where’s My Bible on Facebook and listen to M’N’R on Spotify or, even better, show your support to those Finnish metallers by purchasing the album from the Inverse Records webstore, from Record Shop X, from metalmailorder.com, from iTunes or from Amazon, then fill your refrigerator up with some good quality beer, invite your friends for the night, and there you have a true Rock N’ Roll party with a beyond special Finnish Mosh N’ Roll touch. What else can you ask for in good Scandinavian music, right?

Best moments of the album: Speedload, Absinthe and Meatholder.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Inverse Records

Track listing 
1. Intro 1:04
2. Speedload 4:54
3. Dancefloor 3:35
4. Absinthe 3:48
5. Interlude 1:21
6. Meatholder 5:10
7. Me Myself and I 6:14
8. Transcendence 6:06

Bonus track
9. Failure (feat. Leevi Luoto) 5:00

Band members
Jussi Matilainen – vocals
Toni Hinkkala – guitar
Pasi Löfgren – guitar
Jarno Laakkonen – bass
Antti Jokinen – drums

Guest musician
Leevi Luoto – additional guitars and vocals on “Failure”

Album Review – Depths Above / Ex Nihilo (2018)

Crafting Black and Doom Metal “out of nothing”, this Brno-based band is here to introduce us all to their gloomy vision of underground metal with their debut album.

Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing”, often appearing in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning “creation out of nothing”, chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but also occurring in other fields. It’s with that concept in mind that Depths Above, a Czech Black/Doom Metal band formed in 2015 in the city of Brno by current and former members of the bands Bhagavat (Italy), Desert Witch (Slovakia) and Inferno (Czech Republic), are releasing their debut installment, the 32-minute 4-track album Ex Nihilo, introducing us all to their gloomy vision of underground metal in which genres like Black, Death and Doom Metal mix in various dosages and moods. The wicked album artwork, created by the band’s own vocalist and guitarist Vama Marga, is a very good indication of what to expect from Vama together with guitarist Dreamancer, bassist Ivan Teleranko Dvorsky and drummer Sarapis, but it’s when you hit play that you’ll actually be able to feel all the madness and fury flowing from their distinguished music.

Ominous and cavernous sounds ignite the Black and Doom Metal aria Here and Everywhere, morphing into a gargantuan feast of extreme sounds led by Sarapis’ frantic drums and Vama’s and Dreamancer’s choleric riffs, before Vama begins growling like a demonic entity. And the music remains menacing and austere until its Stygian finale, being flawlessly followed by the flammable The Descent, where Ivan and Sarapis make the ground rumble with their thunderous instruments, being perfect for breaking your neck headbanging. Furthermore, the music gets more atmospheric and eccentric as time goes by, also showcasing a beautiful and impactful work done by the band’s devilish guitar duo.

Almost tribal, but always hypnotizing and obscure, A Prayer presents Vama, Dreamancer and Ivan complementing Sarapis’ nocturnal beats flawlessly with their piercing and dense strings in an instrumental extravaganza of Blackened Doom and classic Doom Metal, infused with elements from Progressive Metal the likes of Tool and Mastodon; whereas the title-track Ex Nihilo closes the album as demented and vibrant as the other songs in the form of a massive wall of darkened sounds spearheaded by Vama and his enraged roars. Moreover, it’s by far the most Black Metal of all songs, spiced up by the utter melancholy and anguish of Doom Metal, without a single space being left empty, invading your ears mercilessly and therefore closing the album on a high, cryptic and malevolent note.

You can get in touch with the talented Vama and his henchmen through their Facebook page, and grab your copy of Ex Nihilo exclusively from their BandCamp page. As aforementioned, Ex nihilo means “creation out of nothing”, and Depths Above explored that concept to perfection when creating the music found in their new album, showing the world the band is here to stay, proudly carrying the flag of Black and Doom Metal as high as the sun, but of course with their hearts and minds being as blackened as extreme music demands.

Best moments of the album: The Descent and Ex Nihilo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Here and Everywhere 7:30
2. The Descent 7:04
3. A Prayer (Instrumental) 7:31
4. Ex Nihilo 9:04

Band members
Vama Marga – vocals, guitars
Dreamancer – guitars
Ivan Teleranko Dvorsky – bass
Sarapis – drums

Album Review – 1914 / The Blind Leading the Blind (2018)

It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these talented and obstinate Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen from Ukraine.

It’s time to head into the battlefields of World War I together with Ukranian Blackened Death/Doom Metal infantrymen 1914 and their brand new opus, the breathtaking The Blind Leading the Blind. World World I might not get explored as it should very often, as World War II typically overshadows it, but this Liviv-based squad, formed in 2014 at the 100th anniversary of World War I, makes a damn solid case for its historical significance (click HERE for an in-depth interview regarding the band’s ideology), with their unique and incendiary fusion of  Black, Death, Doom and even Sludge Metal being stomping, heavy-as-hell, therefore inspiring the strength and bravery within to march towards death.

Comprised of 2.Division, Infanterie-Regiment Nr.147, Oberleutnant – Ditmar Kumar on vocals, 37.Division, Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr.73, Wachtmiester – Liam Fessen and 5.Division, Ulanen-Regiment Nr.3, Sergeanten – Vitalis Winkelhock on the guitars, 9.Division, Grenadier-Regiment Nr.7, Unteroffiziere – Armin von Heinessen on bass and 33.Division, 7.Thueringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.96, Gefreite – Rusty Potoplacht on drums, 1914 pay homage to all that fell fighting the Great War, with their themes covering topics such as the Battle of Gallipoli (and the involvement of Ataturk), the Brusilovsky breakthrough, the Battle of Verdun and the gas attack at Ypres, not being political nor warmongers, but just telling the tales of war, injustice, fear, hopelessness and endless death as they happened. Featuring a deadly, lugubrious artwork by Czech artist Vladimir “Smerdulak” Chebakov, The Blind Leading the Blind is a precious gem of extreme music, positioning 1914 not only as one of the best underground metal bands of the current scene, but of the past decade without a shadow of a doubt.

War In is a beautiful, wicked and dark intro that takes us to the horrors of World War I, exploding into visceral Blackened Death Metal in Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne (inspired by the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the greatest American battle of the First World War, where in six weeks the AEF lost 26,277 killed and 95,786 wounded), led by the pulverizing drums by Rusty, while Ditmar roars the song’s lyrics manically (“Arrival / The Meuse-Argonne offensive started like clockwork / We planned to break through the Hindenburg line / I know what we are fighting for / Hopefully to end the war”), also bringing the most Stygian elements from classic Doom Metal. Then we have A7V Mephisto, a World War I German tank masterfully translated into a brutal and heavy tune where the entire band showcases their heavy artillery by blasting sheer obscurity inspired by old school Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost, in special Liam and Vitalis with their lethal riffs, but with a more demonic twist; followed by High Wood. 75 Acres of Hell, an infernal display of Black and Death Metal spearheaded by Ditmar’s growls while Armin and Rusty keep the ambience as dense and grim as possible with their respective instruments, displaying the battle for High Wood’s 75 acres, which started on July 14 and raged nearly continuously for 64 days, coming to be known as “The hell of High Wood” or “The rottenest place on the Western Front.”

Bagpipes ignite a sinister and pulverizing cover version for The Exploited’s all-time hit Beat The Bastards, sounding as rebellious and fun as the original version, but of course with a more metallic and crushing vibe, with highlights to the beautiful job done by both Liam and Vitalis with their hellish guitars. In the interesting bridge Hanging On The Barbed Wire, the infantry sings while marching under a heavy storm (“If you want to find the General, / I know where he is, / If you want to find the General, / I know where he is / He’s pinning another medal on his chest / I saw him, I saw him / Pinning another medal on his chest.”), setting the tone for the superb Passchenhell, a wordplay with The Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, a campaign of World War I fought by the Allies against the German Empire. Musically speaking, it’s another flawless display of Blackened Death Metal infused with Doom Metal nuances, also featuring the beyond special guest vocalist David Ingram (Benediction, Bolt Thrower, Just Before Dawn). Furthermore, Rusty is once again bestial on drums, whereas Ditmar together with David will haunt your soul with their demonic growling.

“Hello there, soldier! Ready to kill more Germans?” Those warlike words ignite a fantastic sonic havoc by 1914 titled C’est Mon Dernier Pigeon, leaning towards pure old school Black Metal, feeling and sounding as thunderous and menacing as possible and ending in the most demolishing way you can think of; followed by Stoßtrupp, the German word used to describe shock troops or assault troops created to lead an attack, where another eerie, obscure narration suddenly explodes into a darkened feast of Black and Death Metal tailored for cracking your neck headbanging, with Armin sounding vicious with his rumbling bass punches. Lastly, we have The Hundred Days Offensive, an Allied offensive that lasted from August 8 to November 11, 1918, ending World War I, and 1914 turned that battle into 10 minutes of first-class Blackened Death and Doom Metal where you can feel the horrors of the battlefield in the music, remaining very introspective, melancholic, and flowing infernally until the music morphs into the sensational and creepy outro War Out, the perfect ending to such brilliant album.

In summary, The Blind Leading the Blind, which by the way had as its official release date the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month (Central European Time), marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, is a must-have not only for admirers of Extreme Metal, but also for anyone who wants to learn more about World War I in a very unorthodox and exciting way. Available for purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Archaic Sounds’ BandCamp page, from the Redifining Darkness Records’ BandCamp page, from iTunes and from Discogs, The Blind Leading the Blind definitely redefines the career of 1914, propelling them into a more-than-promising future. Having said that, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, grab your weapons and be prepared to face death in the battlegrounds of the Great War.

Best moments of the album: Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne, Beat The Bastards, Passchenhell and C’est Mon Dernier Pigeon.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Archaic Sound/Redefining Darkness Records

Track listing
1. War In 1:14
2. Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne 6:20
3. A7V Mephisto 8:13
4. High Wood. 75 Acres of Hell 5:27
5. Beat The Bastards (The Exploited cover) 5:02
6. Hanging On The Barbed Wire 2:28
7. Passchenhell (feat. David Ingram) 7:01
8. C’est Mon Dernier Pigeon 5:22
9. Stoßtrupp 6:13
10. The Hundred Days Offensive 10:01
11. War Out 1:55

Band members
2.Division, Infanterie-Regiment Nr.147, Oberleutnant – Ditmar Kumar – vocals
37.Division, Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr.73, Wachtmiester – Liam Fessen – guitar
5.Division, Ulanen-Regiment Nr.3, Sergeanten – Vitalis Winkelhock – guitar
9.Division, Grenadier-Regiment Nr.7, Unteroffiziere – Armin von Heinessen – bass
33.Division, 7.Thueringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.96, Gefreite – Rusty Potoplacht – drums

Guest musician
David Ingram – vocals on “Passchenhell”

Album Review – Vistery / Death Is Dead (2018)

The new album by this ruthless squad hailing from the Belarusian capital Minsk has everything you crave in old school, crushing Death Metal.

Hailing from the Belarusian capital Minsk, here comes a ruthless Death Metal squad comprised of Ivan “Paranoid” on vocals, Aleksey “Wicked” on the guitars, Alexander “Soulless” on bass and Sergiy “Def” on drums, collectively known as Vistery, ready to crush our heads with their third full-length installment, titled Death Is Dead. Featuring a nocturnal artwork by Mosaeye, Death Is Dead is highly recommended for fans of the violent music by bands like Unleashed, Vader, Entombed and Grave, exhaling hatred and sounding as heavy as hell, which translates into the perfect soundtrack for your anti-social and anti-religious activities.

Vistery started by the end of 2010 as a solo project of Alexey “Wicked” Kizillo, who performed as a guitar player, drummer and vocalist with a number of bands in Minsk for several years, finally reaching the shape and form of a classic Death Metal band in the beginning of 2011. The following two years were very productive for Vistery with the release of two full-length albums, those being Procreation of the Wicked, in 2011, and Sinister Prophecy, in 2012. However, due to unforeseen issues such as several changes in the band’s lineup, Vistery went on a performing hiatus until 2017, when they returned to stage in Vitebsk, followed by the 7th anniversary celebration gig in Minsk. That renewed lineup inspired the band to record a new album, culminating with the pulverizing Death Is Dead now in 2018.

Ominous background noises and the groovy bass by Soulless kick off the vicious intro Winds Of Devastation, where Paranoid manically roars its cryptic lyrics (“Can you see the trees bowing helplessly / In the wake of a devastating power / Can you hear this howl / Rupture your eardrums / Unrelenting pressure / No relief to come”) before all hell breaks loose in Tormentor, a crushing and thunderous Death Metal hymn with tons of progressiveness flowing from Def’s beats and Wicked’s damned riffs, resulting in a dense feast of aggressive sounds perfect for breaking your neck headbanging. Then featuring guest guitarist Anton Smirnov (Goose Enough, Like a Gossamer) we have Rotting Earth, a mid-tempo Death Metal extravaganza spiced up by Progressive Death Metal elements where Soulless keeps smashing our brains with his visceral punches. And are you ready for the most violent and gruesome picnic ever? That’s what the quartet offers you in Picnic Party, with highlights to the deep and brutal work done by both Soulless and Def with their vile instruments.

In Omniphobic, the lyrics reek of old school Death Metal (“I can see your fear of death / Poisoning your every breath / Flight would be your primal instinct / If only your legs weren’t so rigid”) while the music remains as brutish as possible, with Soulless extracting low-tuned, hellish tones form his bass (not to mention the nonstop  smashing beats by Def); followed by Swamp, where the entire band delivers a more rockin’ sonority, even flirting with Melodic Death Metal, spearheaded by the demonic guttural vocals by Paranoid. Moreover, all instruments feel like they were “blessed” by Satan himself, including Paranoid’s vocals, sounding as dark and deep as Death Metal can be. Then it’s time to “die” together with this talented Belarusian act in Die From Within, showcasing great performances by Wicked with his flammable riffs and Soulless with his thunderous bass, while Paranoid roars and gnarls like a true demon, whereas in Black Magic an uncanny intro evolves into brutal devastation led by Def’s frantic beats and fills, getting heavier and more menacing as the music progresses and, therefore, being recommended for admirers of old school, putrid Death Metal, all embraced by a rumbling and obscure vibe.

Guest musician Anton Smirnov returns with his fiery guitar in Mortal Fear, a mid-tempo creation where the whole band is on fire, blasting a thrilling fusion of violence, groove and progressiveness, with Wicked’s guitar reminding me of the always amazing riffs by Cannibal Corpse, and Vistery will make sure your head is smashed with a hammer in Butchery, the perfect depiction of what their music is all about, sounding and feeling heavy, groovy and exciting form start to finish. Furthermore, Paranoid steals the spotlight with his deep roars, helping it become the best song of the album in my humble opinion. And the title-track Death Is Dead is just as thunderous and vibrant as the rest of the album, with the bass punches by Soulless getting more menacing than before. Put differently, there was no better way to end the album than with this ode to classic Death Metal.

If you need to listen to Death Is Dead in full before making the decision of purchasing it and supporting underground Death Metal made in Belarus, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on the band’s own website, on YouTube and on Spotify, but if you’re already familiar with the band’s music and can’t wait to add such demented album to your personal collection, you can get it from the band’s BandCamp page, from iTunes or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow Vistery on Facebook and VKontakte, and subscribe to their YouTube channel, showing the entire world Death Metal is still alive and kicking, with bands like Vistery leading the underworld hordes of devastation with their old school music like what they offer in Death Is Dead.

Best moments of the album: Picnic Party, Black Magic and Butchery.

Worst moments of the album: Rotting Earth.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Winds Of Devastation 1:50
2. Tormentor 2:56
3. Rotting Earth 3:27
4. Picnic Party 3:09
5. Omniphobic 3:39
6. Swamp 4:00
7. Die From Within 2:49
8. Black Magic 3:08
9. Mortal Fear 3:23
10. Butchery 3:02
11. Death Is Dead 3:01

Band members
Ivan “Paranoid” – vocals
Aleksey “Wicked” – guitars
Alexander “Soulless” – bass
Sergiy “Def” – drums

Guest musician
Anton Smirnov – guitar solos on “Rotting Earth” and “Mortal Fear”