Album Review – In Torment / Sphere Of Metaphysical Incarnations (2014)

Surrender to the power of the “sphere” of extreme metal by one of the best Death Metal bands from Brazil.

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1 - coverDon’t you just love when behind massive amounts of savagery there’s a very solid and appealing storyline? That makes the whole experience of listening to an extreme metal band even better, which is exactly the case with Brazilian Technical/Brutal Death Metal band In Torment and their brand new concept album, the sonic carnage entitled Sphere Of Metaphysical Incarnations. Talking about the birth of a new god and a conscious sphere of energy becoming a living organism, this album simply kicks ass.

Forged in 1997 under the name of Torment in the city of São Leopoldo, in the south of Brasil, In Torment’s musicality can be compared to Death Metal icons such as Brazilian countrymen Krisiun or American behemoths Cannibal Corpse, mainly due to the refined technique of each band member. Not only that, lead singer Alex Zuchi is also a writer, having already released a romance entitled “A Transcedência da Carne”, or “The Transcendence of the Flesh” in English. In addition, take a look at the very detailed album booklet and you’ll also find very interesting quotes by Henry Bergson, Carl Jung and Oscar Wilde. Do I need to say more?

However, as we’re here to talk about Death Metal, it’s when the music starts that things reach another level, with the violent blast beats, riffs and solos found in the opening track, The Unnatural Conception, being boosted by the demonic vocals by Alex Zuchi. This is one hundred percent what Death Metal music needs to be good, don’t you agree? In the following track, Divine Universal Awareness, In Torment continue with their feast of violence accompanied by a truly interesting storyline as you can notice in the lyrics (“Exploring the mysteries of the universe / The mutual hatred keeps feeding me / As the conversion riddle is exposed”). Moreover, despite being so barbaric, the instrumental is so technical it gets even progressive sometimes.

Drummer Dio (who has just left the band, being replaced by Cássio Canto) dictates the devastation in Into Abyssal Landscapes with his nonstop drumming and sick breaks, with the guitars by Alexandre Graessler and Rafael Giovanoli offering the listener some polished but very aggressive riffs, followed by The Threshold (Transcending the Matter), with its interesting narration as an intro and Alex Zuchi showcasing a wider vocal range in this song, “abandoning” his characteristic deep guttural for some harsher screams in parts of it. And let’s not forget the beautiful solo by Rafael Giovanoli, which makes the whole song even more exciting.

6-7The title-track, Sphere of Metaphysical Incarnations, slows things down a little, albeit it’s heavier than all previous tracks due to the nice job done on guitars again. Also, the most interesting detail in this song is that it tells us what or who the sphere really is, keeping us all avid for more of the “sphere”. The next track, Far Beyond Mortality, is a very exciting tune with lots of variations thanks to its intense drumming, with highlights to its always-evolving lyrics (“The sphere grows as a living entity / Guided by a single mind”).

Mechanisms of Domination, a little more modern than all previous tracks (especially its riffs), is pure headbanging and slamming until the end with the band showing no mercy for our necks and bodies, followed by one of the shortest songs of the album, the awesome The Extinction Process. The name of the song says it all: it’s everything a hardcore Death Metal fan wants, with sheer brutality converted into music by outstanding musicians. And finally, closing the album we have the very technical instrumental track Beholding the Everlasting, another good example of how those guys master their instruments.

What are you waiting for to surrender to the power of the “sphere”? Show all your support to this incredible band by visiting their official Facebook page, buying their music and attending their concerts. While the sphere becomes a living organism, In Torment become one of the best extreme bands in the history of Brazilian metal and are ready to conquer the entire world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: The Unnatural Conception, Far Beyond Mortality and The Extinction Process.

Worst moments of the album: Mechanisms of Domination.

Released in 2014 Rapture Records

Track listing
1. The Unnatural Conception 3:51
2. Divine Universal Awareness 3:14
3. Into Abyssal Landscapes 4:14
4. The Threshold (Transcending the Matter) 3:47
5. Sphere of Metaphysical Incarnations 5:44
6. Far Beyond Mortality 4:00
7. Mechanisms of Domination 3:38
8. The Extinction Process 2:48
9. Beholding the Everlasting 2:40

Band members
Alex Zuchi – vocals
Alexandre Graessler – guitars
Rafael Giovanoli – guitars
Bruno Fogaça – bass
Dio – drums*

*Dio has recently left the band to focus on his personal projects, being replaced by Cássio Canto. 

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Metal Chick of the Month – Dani Nolden

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You know what I am… An angel with horns!

Brazil has a lot more to offer than just samba, caipirinha and half-naked mulatas dancing during Carnival. Especially in regards to women there, that stereotype really makes me sick: I guess not even 1% of the Brazilian girls are like that, and a very good example is the stunning Daniela Nolden, or simply Dani Nolden, lead singer of Brazilian Heavy Metal band Shadowside.

Dani Nolden was born on December 26, 1982 in the coastal city of Santos, Brazil, located about 70 km from the city of São Paulo and 500 km from the city of Rio de Janeiro. She started her life in music at the age of 8, taking piano lessons, but after she was introduced to bands such as Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest and Skid Row, she took a completely different path of what their parents were expecting from her. She then became a Metal/Rock singer and songwriter, being with many independent bands until founding Shadowside back in 2001. The band then reached some success and status in the world of heavy music in its first year of existence, being one of the opening bands for the South American/Brazilian tours of Nightwish and Primal Fear.

In the following years, Dani Nolden and her band Shadowside literally “went places”: in 2006, Shadowside supported German Heavy Metal icons Helloween during their tour in Brazil; in 2007, the band won the AirPlay Direct‘s  “All Things Digital Hard Rock/Heavy Metal” among over 1,000 bands worldwide; and due to that exposure they signed a major worldwide deal and began touring the United States, Europe and South America, performing with bands such as Iron Maiden, W.A.S.P., Kittie, Sepultura and Temple of Brutality (feat. David Ellefson of Megadeth). One of Dani’s career highlights happened during Shadowside’s first US tour in 2008, at the Flight of the Valkyries festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, when she shared the stage with American heavy metal band Benedictum for a few Dio cover songs as part of an exclusive performance.

To date, Dani has recorded one EP and three full-length albums with Shadowside, being responsible for the vocals and keyboards in all recordings: Shadowside – Demo EP (2001), Theatre of Shadows (2005), Dare to Dream (2009), and Inner Monster Out (2011). By the way, the album Theatre of Shadows brings an awesome cover version for Dio’s unique classic Rainbow in the Dark, where Dani beautifully shows all her vocal range and potency. Besides Shadowside, Dani has also played with the symphonic band Sphaera Rock Orchestra, a project created by musician Alexey Kurkdjian that mixes Classical and Rock music, and appeared as a guest vocalist with the Brazilian Power Metal band Soulspell during their 2011 tour. She also works as a music consultant for the company The Ultimate Music when she’s not recording or on tour with her band.

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Her biggest influences in music include Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden, Helloween, Nightwish and Sepultura, Hard Rock giants W.A.S.P., Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses, and more modern or contemporary bands like Disturbed, Soilwork and Rammstein. Moreover, she mentioned in an interview that if she had to choose only one band or artist for the “tour of her dreams”, that band would certainly be Iron Maiden. Up the Irons, Dani!

Last but not least, when this gorgeous metalhead is not doing anything related to her career with Shadowside, she enjoys playing videogames, reading books, watching movies, surfing, and practicing Kung Fu. She also loves soccer, which might be her biggest Brazilian characteristic, even being a teenage soccer player before having to abandon that potential career due to her increasing amount of work and tours with Shadowside. I know the world of heavy music is a lot better with Dani Nolden as a Heavy Metal singer rather than as a soccer player, but I guess no one would mind watching a simply stunning epic duel between our “Metal Chick of the Month” for Brazil and Hope Solo for the United States, don’t you agree? At least visually speaking, that would be a lot more pleasant to watch than any of the matches between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Dani Nolden’s Official Facebook page
Dani Nolden’s Official Twitter

“Dare to dream, it just might come true!” – Dani Nolden

Album Review – Heaven & Hell / The Devil You Know (2009)

Dio, Iommi, Butler and Appice deliver us the heaviest and darkest Black Sabbath album of all time, even with the band not being called Black Sabbath.

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The_Devil_You_Know_coverI’ve never been a fan of Black Sabbath with Ozzy on vocals, although I understand and respect his importance to Heavy Metal, and also like his crazy performance on stage. I even consider the new 13 a good album, but I personally enjoy the band a lot more with Dio as the lead singer, when Sabbath produced some of the heaviest albums of their career. When The Devil You Know was launched back in 2009, it wasn’t simply a band called Heaven & Hell, but that obscure Black Sabbath that mixed the devilish riffs from Tony Iommi with the unique voice of Ronnie James Dio.

Just start listening to Atom and Evil (or should I say Adam and Eve?) and all those accusations against Tony Iommi, saying he has a deal with the devil, will totally make sense. His riffs in this album are mesmerizing, darker than the darkest night, and impossible not to get addicted to them. He’s one of those geniuses that makes us left-handed people feel really proud of being more skillful with our left hand! All the songs have awesome riffs, but I would say the most memorable ones are from the opening track, from Bible Black and from the last song, Breaking into Heaven, and if you don’t feel anything special while listening to these songs, go listen to Justin Bieber or any other crap. You’re not worthy!

heavenandhellGeezer Butler also does an incredible job with his bass lines, especially in the songs Double the Pain (one of my favorites from The Devil You Know) and Neverwhere. Also, having the talented and precise drummer Vinny Appice working with Geezer makes the music flow a lot smoother during the entire album, which by the way was never supposed to be a regular fast Heavy Metal record: only two songs (Eating the Cannibals and Neverwhere) have a fast rhythm, while all other focus on more sinister melodies commonly found in Doom Metal. And I’m not going to say anything about the amazing front cover: it’s too evil to be real, more terrifying than any Black Metal album cover I’ve ever seen.

Finally, what can I say about the unparalleled voice of Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.)? The Devil You Know was his last record, and he sings every single line from each song perfectly, turning poetry into music. I love Bruce, Halford and many other Metal vocalists, but there’s no one that can sing with such passion and emotion as Dio. The entire world of music will forever miss that little guy, who became a real giant every time he started singing for us any of his songs. Unfortunately Dio is gone, but his legacy will remain with us, and The Devil You Know is the perfect representation of his vocal power. If this record had been launched in the 80’s, I’m pretty sure it would have been considered one of the best and most influential Heavy Metal albums of all time.

Best moments of the album: Bible Black, without any doubt. This is by far my favorite Black Sabbath Heaven & Hell song of all time. Watch the video below from the band playing it at Wacken in 2009, pay attention to the perfect lyrics, and tell me if this is not wonderful? Isn’t Dio fuckin’ awesome? “He locks himself away and tastes the silence / Hungry for another bite of wrong”

Worst moments of the album: I cannot say anything bad about this album. Maybe the fact that it ended up being just a project due to Dio’s death? I cannot even imagine how many more great albums Heaven & Hell could have recorded if Dio was still alive.

Released in 2009 Rhino Entertainment

Track listing
1. Atom and Evil 5:15
2. Fear 4:48
3. Bible Black 6:29
4. Double the Pain 5:25
5. Rock and Roll Angel 6:02
6. The Turn of the Screw 5:02
7. Eating the Cannibals 3:37
8. Follow the Tears 6:12
9. Neverwhere 4:35
10. Breaking into Heaven 6:53

iTunes exclusive bonus tracks
11. I (live) 6:30
12. Die Young (live) 6:46

Band members
Ronnie James Dio – vocals
Tony Iommi – guitar
Geezer Butler – bass guitar
Vinny Appice – drums, percussion