Album Review – Nocturnal Escape / Uncharted Pathways (2020)

This talented German horde returns with a brand new concept album marking a stylistic change from their original sound to a soundtrack-like Black Metal offering.

Brought into being in 2014 as a recording project by  Leo and Klaus Bergmann after their previous band Bleak disbanded, Augsburg, Germany-based Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal band Nocturnal Escape is back in action now in 2020 with their sophomore installment, entitled Uncharted Pathways, a concept album consisting of five songs with a combined running time of nearly 58 minutes, marking a stylistic change from the riff-laden Melodic Death Metal found in their 2015 self-titled debut album to a soundtrack-like Black Metal offering. Featuring a grim and exquisite artwork by artist Daniela Teichmann, the album also presents to the listener a new growler, Paul Perlberg (replacing Thomas Zimmermann), and a new session drummer, James Knoerl, instead of the programmed drums from their first album, providing the overall sound a more organic and, therefore, more intense vibe.

The serene keys by Leo kick off the 10-minute aria entitled Exodus, evolving into a fusion of classic Black and Doom Metal where Paul roars and gnarls in a true devilish manner, filling every single space in the air with its background choir-like sounds, ritualistic drums and scorching hot guitar riffs, ending in a climatic and melancholic manner and building an instant bridge to Forlorn, once again presenting whimsical sounds blended with the band’s most vicious and extreme side, with Leo and Klaus slashing their strings in great fashion and, consequently, providing Paul all he needs to vociferate like a demon while James dictates the song’s charming rhythm with his sluggish beats. In addition, it becomes crystal clear in this dense and distinguished tune how the band decided to distance themselves from Progressive Death and Black Metal, being now fully invested in a hybrid of Black, Folk and Epic Metal.

Then featuring guest Rüdiger Bergmann on trombone, the trio’s acoustic guitars and low-tuned, rumbling bass lines ignite the also multi-layered and vibrant Tranquillity, morphing into an obscure and crisp Black Metal extravaganza led by Leo and his venomous riffage while Paul adds an extra touch of evil to it with his deep, enraged growls, also bringing forward a few eerie, symphonic breaks to enhance the intricacy and drama of the overall result, sounding and feeling as epic and detailed as it can be. And the band keeps stimulating our senses with their classy extreme music in Insight, where all background elements generate a Stygian atmosphere that will darken your heart and soul. Furthermore, the Black Metal blast beats by James make an interesting paradox with the clean vocals by Leo, resulting in a lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal with Leo’s crisp riffs and solos being the icing on the cake. And accelerating their pace and enhancing their electricity they offer us all the closing tune Departure, featuring guest vocals by Stefan Bauer, with James hammering his drums mercilessly until gentle piano notes permeate the air intertwined with heavy riffs and dense bass lines, flowing into a very symphonic, epic and enfolding finale.

In case you think you have what it takes to face almost one hour of the atmospheric and obscure passages by Nocturnal Escape, you can take a full listen at Uncharted Pathways on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase the album from Apple Music, from Amazon or from the band’s own BandCamp page, where not only you’ll be able to compare their current sound with their debut effort, but you’ll also receive an exclusive remastered instrumental version of the entire album (which means almost 58 extra minutes of instrumental and atmospheric extreme music for your avid ears). Also, don’t forget to check what Leo, Klaus and Paul are up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and let the atmospheric and very detailed Black Metal made in Germany found in Uncharted Pathways penetrate deep inside your mind.

Best moments of the album: Tranquillity and Departure.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Exodus 10:20
2. Forlorn 8:35
3. Tranquillity 12:34
4. Insight 12:21
5. Departure 13:54

BandCamp Exclusive Remastered Instrumental bonus tracks
6. Exodus (Instrumental) 10:20
7. Forlorn (Instrumental) 8:35
8. Tranquillity (Instrumental) 12:34
9. Insight (Instrumental) 12:21
10. Departure (Instrumental) 13:54

Band members
Leo Bergmann – guitars, keyboards, clean vocals
Klaus Bergmann – bass
Paul Perlberg – harsh vocals

Guest musicians
James Knoerl – drums (session)
Rüdiger Bergmann – trombone on “Tranquillity”
Stefan Bauer – vocals on “Departure”

Album Review – High Priestess / Casting The Circle (2020)

Seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with tribal percussion and prog rock arrangements, this American trinity is ready to cast a spell on us with their excellent new album.

Convoking crushing riffs drenched with lush harmonies and hypnotic eastern themes, Los Angeles-based Doom Metal trinity High Priestess was formed in 2016 by bassist and vocalist Mariana Fiel when she recruited Katie Gilchrest on guitar and vocals and Megan Mullins on drums, crafting a sound that echoes both past and future incarnations of doom and psychedelia since then. After the release of their highly-acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2018, it’s time for High Priestess to captivate our senses once again with their sophomore opus Casting The Circle, featuring a dark and sexy artwork by Jill Colbert at Manfish Inc. and seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with keyboards, tribal percussion, signature harmonies and grandiose prog rock arrangements. “After playing these songs live for many months, we are pleased to have captured them in their definitive recorded versions for the whole world. We honor gods and goddesses, ancestors and spirits from the past, present and future and sing songs of misfortune,” commented Katie Gilchrest herself about the band’s amazing new album.

A tribal, dark mass is about to start in the deep and embracing Casting the Circle, led by Megan’s ritualistic beats while Katie and Mariana begin blasting their enthralling vocal lines in a true psychedelic and doomed manner. Put differently, it’s absolutely impossible not to get hypnotized by their music, which is also the case in the fabulous Erebus, where the trio leans towards the most obscure side of iconic acts like Black Sabbath and Candlemass, but with a delicious feminine touch added to the overall result. It’s almost ten minutes of enfolding passages, crisp riffs and the sluggish beats by Megan, all spiced up by Katie’s astounding, piercing guitar solos, whereas The Hourglass is a Psychedelic and Progressive Rock extravaganza blending the trademark sound from the 70’s with the band’s more contemporary doom, with Katie’s stunning riffs being complemented by the low-tuned bass by Mariana and the classic drums by Megan, not to mention the song’s fiery vocal lines.

Then it’s time to surrender to the most Stygian side of life in Invocation, offering our avid ears over 17 minutes of ethereal and somber passages led by Katie’s primeval, mesmerizing riffs while Mariana and Megan dictate the rhythm with their thunderous but delicate instruments, summoning the prince of darkness with their scorching Doom Metal. Flowing like an arrow on fire through the night and getting heavier and more imposing halfway through it, the song remains tribal and dense until its demolishing grand finale, with Katie heightening our senses with her cryptic organ keys. And lastly we have Ave Satanas, an ethereal and obscure outro by the trio where their somber vocalizations will drag you into their sinister lair in the name of Satan (which in the case of High Priestess is a beyond awesome opportunity for any metalhead, of course).

The circle of what the band itself likes to call “Heavy-Psych Doom” has been cast by Katie, Mariana and Megan in their newborn opus, and in order to join those three undeniably talented women in their quest for such unique style of heavy music simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and grab your copy of Casting The Circle from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page or webstore (US and Europe), as well as from Amazon. The high priestesses of heavy and lustful Doom Metal are among us to stay, and as they conjure each and every one of us to become part of their devilish kingdom, there’s only one question left, and it’s indeed a very simple one. Who are we to say no to such distinguished and dexterous triumvirate of doom?

Best moments of the album: Erebus and The Hourglass.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Ripple Music

Track listing
1. Casting the Circle 5:10
2. Erebus 9:37
3. The Hourglass 6:46
4. Invocation 17:22
5. Ave Satanas 3:26

Band members
Katie Gilchrest – vocals, guitars, organ
Mariana Fiel – bass, vocals
Megan Mullins – drums, percussion

Album Review – Chotzä / Tüüfuswärk (2020)

Succumb to the anti-social fusion of Black Metal and Black N’ Roll blasted by this infernal horde from Switzerland.

Formed as a side-project in 2011 in the city of Bern, on the German-speaking side of Switzerland, with the aim to create anti-social Black Metal and Black N’ Roll, the unstoppable and blasphemous unity known as Chotzä (which means “to vomit” in Swiss-German) is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their third full-length opus, entitled Tüüfuswärk, the follow-up to their previous installments Plump u Primitiv, released in 2014, and Bärner Bläck Metal Terror, released in 2017. Apart from their frantic and aggressive sonority, perhaps one of the main ingredients in the music by Chotzä is the fact that all of their songs are sung in “Bärndütsch”, which is one of many existing Swiss-German dialects, allowing the wicked music crafted by lead singer Szivilzs, guitarists Gruäbähung and Raven Dust, bassist Näbugring, pianist Leopold and drummer Cpt. Cunt to sound even more organic, visceral and austere than what they would ever sound in English, and as a fan of extreme music I must say their dialect blends extremely well with their vicious Black Metal.

Featuring guest vocalist Herr Morbid (also known as Ferdinando Marchisio) of Italian Black Metal band Forgotten Tomb, the opening track Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version) presents a wicked intro that quickly explodes into berserk, blasphemous extreme music led by the devilish roars by Szivilzs while Raven Dust and Gruäbähung cut our skin deep with their infernal riffage, followed by Schtächzähni, as fast and demonic as its predecessor, with Cpt. Cunt dictating the rhythm with his Punk Rock/Hardcore-infused beats while the guitars bring a welcome Thrash Metal twist to the overall result, not to mention how Näbugring keeps the atmosphere dense with his wicked bass lines. And blending old school Black Metal with the Rock N’ Roll blasted by bands like Motörhead, Misfits and Danzig we have Horrorotika, where the sound of guitars will pierce your mind mercilessly and the backing vocals provide an amazing support to Szivilzs in this ode to blasphemy, sex and horror.

In Sex, Suff & Satan, what starts in a sinister, introspective way morphs into a mid-tempo Symphonic Black Metal aria led by Leopold and his Stygian piano notes, also presenting slashing guitar solos and bringing some welcome elements from Gothic Rock and Doom Metal, whereas our beloved Swiss horde speeds things up and enhance their already insane level of rage in Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack, where Szivilizs barks the song’s cryptic lyrics manically while Cpt. Cunt keeps smashing his drums like a beast, resulting in another sensational fusion of the band’s core Black Metal with the most vicious form of Rock N’ Roll. And leaning towards a more classic version of Black Metal, especially due to Cpt. Cunt’s blast bats and fills, Süüchägott showcases the band’s dynamic guitar duo firing lancinating, hellish riffs for our total delight while Szivilzs continues with his demonic vociferations.

Abfau brings forward an onrush of darkened sounds, infernal screams and endless wrath, or in other words, it’s ruthless Black Metal infused with Doom Metal nuances, with Gruäbähung and Raven Dust once again crafting pulverizing riffs and solos; and Leopold comes ripping with his phantasmagorical keys in Ds Tanzgebei, a fun (and somewhat dancing) Black Metal extravaganza where all band members sound bestial and electrifying form start to finish, keeping the album at a high level of dementia. Then get ready for battle to the sound of Fotzä, smashing our heads with an avalanche of blackened sounds and sulfurous growls, while Cpt. Cunt gives a lesson in Black Metal drumming. And last but not least, we’re treated to the rebellious and dense title-track Tüüfuswärk with its eight minutes of extreme and vile sounds, where the band’s stringed trio keeps hammering their axes with tons of precision and violence, all spearheaded by Szivilzs and his trademark gnarls.

The gates to the underworld are open in Switzerland thanks to the incendiary music blasted by Chotzä in their newborn spawn Tüüfuswärk, and if you want to show your support to such demented Black Metal horde you can follow them on Facebook to know more about their music, their concerts and other nice-to-know details about the band, and purchase your copy of the album from Northern Fog Records (CD), Sturmglanz (vinyl) or Worship Tapes (cassette). It’s truly impressive how those Swiss metallers are capable of blending the most hellish elements form a myriad of styles like Black Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Hardcore without sounding confusing or disorganized; quite the contrary, the music by Chotzä is absolutely furious, cohesive and thrilling, just like what we can see in Tüüfuswärk, showing us all this six-piece horde of darkness will still haunt our soul for years to come with their dark-as-the-night creations.

Best moments of the album: Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version), Horrorotika and Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack.

Worst moments of the album: Sex, Suff & Satan.

Released in 2020 Northern Fog Records/Sturmglanz/Worship Tapes

Track listing
1. Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version) 3:44
2. Schtächzähni 5:59
3. Horrorotika 4:28
4. Sex, Suff & Satan 6:15
5. Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack 4:47
6. Süüchägott 2:48
7. Abfau 7:11
8. Ds Tanzgebei 5:07
9. Fotzä 5:56
10. Tüüfuswärk 8:06

Band members
Szivilizs – vocals
Raven Dust – guitars
Gruäbähung – guitars
Näbugring – bass
Leopold – piano
Cpt. Cunt – drums

Guest musician
Herr Morbid – vocals on “Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version)”

Album Review – My Dying Bride / The Ghost Of Orion (2020)

A lesson in how to transform pain, agony and grief into beautiful metal music by one of the pioneers of the death and doom style.

It’s impressive when even after 30 years on the road a veteran band like West Yorkshire, UK-based Gothic/Doom Metal masters My Dying Bride, one of the pioneers of the death and doom style alongside Anathema and Paradise Lost, is capable of still delivering top-of-the-line music without sounding repetitive, outdated or tiresome, just like what they have to offer us now in 2020 with their 13th studio album, the majestic The Ghost Of Orion, proving once again why the band currently comprised of Aaron Stainthorpe on vocals, Andrew Craighan and Neil Blanchett on the guitars, Lena Abé on bass, Shaun Macgowan on keyboards and violin and Jeff Singer on drums is and will always be a reference in extreme music. Produced by Mark Mynett (Mynetaur), portraying a stunning artwork by Israeli artist Eliran Kantor (Testament, Tristania, Fleshgod Apocalypse), and featuring very special guest appearances by British cellist Jo Quail and Norwegian singer Lindy Fay Hella (from Folk/Ambient band Wardruna), The Ghost Of Orion not only marks the band’s longest gap between studio albums to date, being released five years after their previous effort Feel the Misery, but it’s also a lecture in how to transform pain, agony and grief into beautiful Doom Metal.

As soon as you hit play, get ready to dive deep into the Stygian waters of doom ruled by Aaron and his horde in the opening track Your Broken Shore, with Jeff dictating the rhythm with his somber, sluggish beats while Aaron is absolutely superb with both his anguished, clean vocals and his demonic roars, resulting in the perfect anthem for savoring endless darkness and solitude, not to mention the delicate and whimsical sounds of the cello by Jo Quail and the violin by Shaun throughout the entire song as the icing on the cake. And that lugubrious vibe goes on in the also captivating To Outlive the Gods, with sheer melancholy flowing from its words (“A fool will believe every single word said / And yes you may speak with only me now on the sunrise / Child of my sore and bleeding body come over here / Sit here and say your words feeding only me till sunrise”) while Andrew, Neil and Lena make our hearts tremble with their crushing riffs and bass punches.

Clearly inspired by Aaron’s arduous experience with his five-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer a couple years after the release of Feel the Misery, from which she was thankfully declared in remission later, Tired of Tears brings forward gentle and serene sounds that graciously permeate the air while Shaun is absolutely amazing with his violin, with Lena and Jeff keeping the atmosphere dense and mournful with their sonic weapons. Put differently, this is a lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal with nuances of Depressive Black Metal and Blackened Doom, showcasing My Dying Bride’s undisputed ability to turn pure sadness into grandiose metal music. Following such touching tune we have The Solace, where the hypnotizing vocals by Lindy Fay Hella are solely accompanied by the grim guitar lines by Andrew and Neil in a minimalist and enfolding creation by My Dying Bride.

In the brilliant The Long Black Land the energy emanating from the cello by Jo Quail together with the low-tuned, menacing bass by Lena is outstanding, embellishing even more the song’s over ten minutes of obscure passages spearheaded by the clean and aggressive gnarls by Aaron, giving life to its poetic lyrics  for our total delight (“On the lap of the world I lay my head / Pick my way carefully through our long past / Hold my hand, young one / Hold my hand / Listen to my voice / Hold my hand / Face your God / Your God”) and ending in a classy and mournful manner. The semi-acoustic, phantasmagorical bridge The Ghost of Orion sets the stage for the also bold and intricate The Old Earth, starting also in a gentle and somber way led by Andrew’s and Neil’s acoustic lines, suddenly exploding into a lecture in devilish and sluggish Doom Metal where Aaron declaims the song’s lyrics with passion and rage, overflowing sheer melancholy before the outro Your Woven Shore brings to the listener an ethereal, sinister atmosphere and sonority, putting a cinematic and therefore fabulous closure to the album.

In summary, as aforementioned, Aaron and his bandmates from My Dying Bride simply nailed it in The Ghost Of Orion, available for purchase from the Nuclear Blast webstore and for streaming on Spotify, filling our ears, minds and hearts with an immeasurable amount of melancholy, sorrow and distress in what’s undoubtedly one of the best metal albums of 2020. Having said that, I highly suggest you go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on Instagram, including their tour dates, as they’ll bring the music found in The Ghost Of Orion to the stages near you without a shadow of a doubt. Hence, after listening to such distinguished album of Gothic and Doom Metal (again and again), I’m sure you’ll understand once and for all why My Dying Bride are so important and relevant to the world of heavy music, getting better and better as the years go by just like that fancy red wine you enjoy savoring all by yourself on a cold and rainy night while listening to their undisputed doom.

Best moments of the album: Your Broken Shore, The Long Black Land and The Old Earth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Your Broken Shore 7:43
2. To Outlive the Gods 7:56
3. Tired of Tears 8:37
4. The Solace 5:52
5. The Long Black Land 10:01
6. The Ghost of Orion 3:31
7. The Old Earth 10:32
8. Your Woven Shore 2:09

Band members
Aaron Stainthorpe – vocals
Andrew Craighan – guitars
Neil Blanchett – guitars
Lena Abé – bass
Shaun Macgowan – keyboards, violin
Jeff Singer – drums

Guest musicians
Jo Quail – cello
Lindy Fay Hella – female vocals on “The Solace”

Album Review – Vulcano / Eye In Hell (2020)

A hellish and incendiary fusion of Thrash, Death and Black Metal blasted by an obstinate veteran squad from Brazil that loves extreme music above all things.

Forged in the distant year of 1981 under the name Astaroth in the fires of Santos, a coastal city in southern Brazil’s São Paulo state, Black, Death and Thrash Metal veterans Vulcano are back in action with a brand new album titled Eye In Hell. Produced by the band’s own guitarist Zhema Rodero together with Ivan Pelliciotti at O Beco Estúdio in Curitiba, Brazil and featuring a classic artwork by Italian artist Roberto Toderico (Paganizer, Pestilence, Sodom, Tygers Of Pan Tang), the album is a bold statement by this five-piece act comprised of vocalist Luiz Carlos Louzada, guitarists Zhema Rodero and Gerson Fajardo, bassist Carlos Diaz and drummer Bruno Conrado, proving why not only they were one of the first influences for their countrymen Sepultura, but also why they attained together with other fellow Brazilian bands like Sarcófago and Mutilator a worldwide cult legend status among some of the most extreme practitioners in heavy music, Norway’s feared Black Metal inner circle of the early 90’s.

And the band begins smashing our heads mercilessly in Bride of Satan with their old school Thrash Metal infused with Death Metal elements, with Bruno sounding insane on drums while Zhema and Gerson give a lecture in shredding. I must say this tune is a fantastic welcome card by Vulcano, and there’s still a lot more to come in the form of an avalanche of scorching riffs and crushing beats in Cursed Babylon, spearheaded by Luiz Carlos and his aggressive roars, and ending in a frantic and violent Slayer-inspired manner for our total delectation. There’s no time to breathe as they fire another bestial tune entitled Evil Empire, where Carlos’ rumbling bass and Bruno’s blast beats bring groove and rage to the musicality. In other words, it’s pure old school extreme music spiced up by the crisp riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo; and blending the most furious elements from Thrash and Death Metal the band offers us all the wicked Struggling Beside Satan, where Luiz sounds even more demented on vocals while the rest of the band hammers their instruments with sheer brutality from start to finish.

Following the same Bay Area Thrash pattern as its predecessors, Sinister Road is a fantastic option for slamming into the circle pit like a maniac or for some sick headbanging, with Zhema and Gerson being on absolute fire with their stringed axes, whereas in Devil Bloody Banquet the band once again shows they’re never tired of delivering fast and furious metal to the masses. Not only all band members are ruthless with their respective instruments, but if you’re a fan of the early days of Slayer and Exodus you must listen to this excellent composition. Then Bruno doesn’t stop pounding his drums not even for a single second in Sirens of Destruction, another demolishing creation by Vulcano with highlights to the amazing sync between the guitar riffs and Carlos’ groovy bass punches, followed by Dealer of My Curse, a brutal and very melodic hybrid between old school Thrash Metal and contemporary Groove Metal where the amazing riffage by both Zhema and Gerson makes sure the energy level doesn’t go down at all, keeping their music absolutely far from being obsolete or flat.

Rev up your engines as Vulcano are about to kill in the berserk Mysteries of the Black Book, a demolishing aria of thrash where Luiz leads the horde with his rabid roars, not to mention the insanity flowing from their riffs and demented drumming, while Inferno sounds and feels like their personal tribute to all things Thrash Metal, with Carlos and Bruno making the earth tremble with their rumbling weapons. Put differently, don’t waste a single second and go crush your skull into the pit together with the Vulcano boys. In Cybernetic Beast the band gives another lesson in shredding and brutality, showcasing the band’s guitarists’ dexterity while maintaining their core violence intact, followed by When the Days Falls, the second to last song in the album, leaning towards classic Black Metal and sounding heavier than its predecessors (albeit not as fiery nor  as exciting), with Luiz bursting his lungs screaming. Lastly, closing the album the band offers our avid ears the title-track Eye in Hell, pulverizing our senses while Luiz sounds infernal on vocals. Furthermore, it’s interesting how they managed to add elements from Doom, Stoner and Southern Metal to their classic sound, and the final result is not only awesome but also extremely sharp and vile.

There’s an infinite number of locations where you can purchase Eye In Hell in different formats, including TargetShop (CD and vinyl), Nuclear Blast (CD and vinyl), Season of Mist (CD and vinyl), Record Shop X (CD and vinyl), Apple Music and Amazon, and don’t forget to give the band a shout on Facebook and to stream their flammable music on Spotify. One might be asking how a band like Vulcano has managed to survive for so many decades in the underground scene, against all odds, never giving up nor selling out, and the answer to that is quite simple. They love Thrash, Death and Black Metal from the bottom of their hearts, with their new album Eye In Hell perfectly depicting all that passion, obstinance and electricity, and that’s all we always ask for in heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Struggling Beside Satan, Sinister Road, Mysteries of the Black Book and Inferno.

Worst moments of the album: When the Days Falls.

Released in 2020 Mighty Music

Track listing
1. Bride of Satan 3:25
2. Cursed Babylon 2:57
3. Evil Empire 3:15
4. Struggling Beside Satan 2:56
5. Sinister Road 3:14
6. Devil Bloody Banquet 2:53
7. Sirens of Destruction 3:35
8. Dealer of My Curse 3:50
9. Mysteries of the Black Book 2:45
10. Inferno 3:14
11. Cybernetic Beast 3:29
12. When the Days Falls 2:59
13. Eye in Hell 4:07

Band members
Luiz Carlos Louzada – vocals
Zhema Rodero – guitar
Gerson Fajardo – guitar
Carlos Diaz – bass
Bruno Conrado – drums

Album Review – Konvent / Puritan Masochism (2020)

A dark, primeval and absolutely stunning fusion of Death and Doom Metal masterfully crafted by four unrelenting women hailing from Denmark.

If you’re craving a dark and primeval fusion of Death and Doom Metal in the same vein as renowned acts such as Candlemass, Paradise Lost, Cult of Luna and Black Breath, who all unleashed the bleakest horror on mankind in the early 90’s, you’ll certainly fall in love with the “Primitive Death Doom” blasted by four talented and hardworking Danish women collectively known as Konvent. Formed in 2015 in the charming city of Copenhagen, this all-female band currently comprised of Rikke Emilie List on vocals, Sara Helena Nørregaard on the guitars, Heidi Withington Brink on bass and Julie Simonsen on drums is ready to haunt our souls with their debut full-length opus entitled Puritan Masochism, the brilliant follow-up to their 2017 demo, conjuring up a deserved revival for the whole death doom genre.

As obscure as the pits of hell from the very first second, the title-track Puritan Masochism comes ripping mercilessly, with Rikke barking the song’s acid lyrics in great fashion (“You pathetic, worthless subject / Submission keeps you erect / Ignorant as you wait / There are enemies at the gate / Slaughter the peacocks / Set fire to the lawns / Now the Queen shall hang”) while Julie sounds thunderous with her sluggish and damned beats, followed by The Eye, where Sara continues to masterfully slash her strings, therefore generating a menacing ambience complemented by Julie’s pounding drums and Heidi’s rumbling bass punches in another solid and visceral display of our good old Doom Metal. And in Trust we face a gargantuan amount of darkness, dementia and rage flowing from all instruments with Rikke being once again bestial with her she-demon growling, living up to the legacy of the genre without a shadow of a doubt.

Stygian clouds are all over us in World of Gone, with Sara and Heidi delivering minimalist but extremely sharp guitar lines and bass jabs respectively, inspiring us to break our necks headbanging in solitude while their music penetrate deep inside our psyche. Then blending elements from the grim music crafted by Black Sabbath, Candlemass and Tryptikon, the quartet fires another round of doomed riffs and beats simply titled Bridge, getting heavier and heavier as the music progresses thanks to the venomous beats by Julie, whereas the absolutely metallic and devilish bass lines by Heidi ignite the incendiary Waste, featuring guest vocals by Danish singer Tue Krebs Roikjer (from Atmospheric Black Metal band Morild), and let me tell you that Rikke and Tue make an infernal vocal duo throughout the entire song, turning it into one of the best and most demonic moments of the entire album.

Kicking off the last batch of songs from Puritan Masochism, Julie will smash your skull with her beats while Sara keeps extracting pure evil form her strings in Idle Hands, all embraced by the cryptic, poetic lyrics vociferated by Rikke (“These idle hands full of will / Go into the field / I will yield / Only dust and dew where they grew / Empty bags / Working mill / Go into the field / I will yield”). And closing the album we have Ropes pt. I, the first part of a double-the-pain extravaganza which begins in a mournful and cadaverous way thanks to the crisp guitar lines by Sara, with its ending being just as somber and captivating as its beginning, flowing smoothly into Ropes pt. II, an epic fusion of the slow and lugubrious sounds of Doom Metal with the enraged growls from Death Metal where Sara, Heidi and Julie are in perfect sync, providing Rikke all she needs to crush our minds with her deep guttural vocals. Put differently, this is what I call a breathtaking closure to such amazing album of extreme music.

In a nutshell, the girls from Konvent nailed it in Puritan Masochism, offering fans of both old school and contemporary Doom Metal a powerful lesson in heaviness and obscurity over the span of 48 minutes of music found in their newborn spawn, consequently pointing to a fantastic future for the band. Hence, go check what Konvent are up to on Facebook, including their tour dates, and of course don’t forget to show your true and honest support to those amazing metallers by purchasing Puritan Masochism directly from their BandCamp page, or click HERE for all locations where you can buy and stream the album in its entirety. The (under)world of doom will never be the same after Puritan Masochism, an album that can already be considered a new classic of such distinct genre, and albeit it has set the bar absurdly high for Rikke, Sara, Heidi and Julie in their future installments, I’m sure that’s exactly what those four amazing Danish girls wanted to achieve with the album, showing the entire world they’re among us to stay, their passion for a good challenge and, above all, that they’ll keep praising the riff and the horrors of doom for years to come.

Best moments of the album: Puritan Masochism, Trust, World of Gone and Waste.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Puritan Masochism 4:41
2. The Eye 3:25
3. Trust 5:17
4. World of Gone 5:57
5. Bridge 6:30
6. Waste (feat. Tue Krebs Roikjer) 4:59
7. Idle Hands 5:22
8. Ropes pt. I 4:36
9. Ropes pt. II 7:21

Band members
Rikke Emilie List – vocals
Sara Helena Nørregaard – guitars
Heidi Withington Brink – bass
Julie Simonsen – drums

Guest musician
Tue Krebs Roikjer – vocals on “Waste”

Metal Chick of the Month – Julie Simonsen

The Bridge of Light gives wings… Lead into the sea where you’ll be joining me…

Are you ready for some old school, dark and heavy-as-hell Doom Metal on The Headbanging Moose this month of February? If doom is what you love, I’m sure you’ll have a blast with our metal chick of the month, the badass, raven-haired Julie Simonsen, drummer for one of the most infernal and Stygian bands of the current European scene, the unrelenting all-female Doom Metal entity known as Konvent, an up-and-coming act that will surely become a driving force of primeval doom not only in their homeland Denmark, but anywhere else where obscure and devilish extreme music is properly appreciated. Having said that, fasten your seat belts and enjoy our humble tribute to a woman who albeit might be taking her first steps in her music career, has all it takes to conquer the hearts of metalheads form all over the world with her unique charisma and undeniable talent behind the drums.

Born and raised in Frederiksværk, a small town in the Halsnæs Municipality on Zealand, in Region Hovedstaden in Denmark, but currently residing in Søborg, a neighbourhood in Gladsaxe Municipality, located some 10 km northwest of central Copenhagen, Julie said she was feeling bored at school before joining Konvent. She said that after she moved to Søborg she attended some sort of “left-wing hippie music college” (which I believe is a school called Det frie Gymnasium) where she was supposed to play angry punk music, therefore getting more involved in the local punk and metal scene. After her graduation, she worked at H&M and even in the zoo where she sold ice cream, and now apart from her career with convent she is also currently working in a warehouse for an online clothing store.

Julien mentioned in one of her interviews she started playing drums when she was around 12 or 13 years old, getting her first drums from her parents and then starting taking lessons. Her father introduced her to the music by Kiss when she was a little girl, when she was only around 6 or 7 years old, and she instantly fell in love for it, saying she thought at that time Eric Singer was really cool with the makeup and everything else. As a matter of fact, that was actually the real reason that inspired her to play the drums. A few years later, after she started playing drums, Julie also started taking guitar lessons, which by the way it’s still a thing for her, but of course drums have always been her top priority.

It was at the end of November 2017 when our dauntless drummer joined Konvent, the all-female Doom Metal sensation formed in 2015 in Copenhagen following in the footsteps of Candlemass, Paradise Lost, Cult of Luna and Black Breath, who all unleashed the bleakest horror on mankind in the early 90’s, having already appeared with the band at several festivals such as Aalborg Metal Festival, Metal Magic, When Copenhell Freezes Over and Roskilde Festival. Kovent are currently comprised of Rikke Emilie List on vocals, Sara Helena Nørregaard on the guitars, Heidi Withington Brink on bass and, obviously, Julie Simonsen on drums, having released a demo in 2017 (still with their original drummer Mette Marie List), and just a few days ago their debut full-length opus entitled Puritan Masochism, via Napalm Records, a massive extreme metal highlight of early 2020 (which will obviously be reviewed at The Headbanging Moose soon) conjuring up a deserved revival for the whole death doom genre. Julie said the four girls in the band already knew each other from the Copenhagen metal scene, as the scene in the city is not actually really big, with most people knowing each other from concerts and other events. In addition, Julie said that when Konvent first got together, they didn’t want to commit to any specific genre, simply deciding to call their music “Primitive Death Doom” due to the slow rhythms and riffing combined with Rikke’s Death Metal-like vocals.

When asked about the recording process for Puritan Masochism and what lessons the band learned from their live performances that were applied to the album, Julie said that the whole recording got better and better as they got more and more comfortable with their instruments, having more control and more creativity while writing music, consequently becoming more fun, more relaxed and more instinctual. She also said it was indeed a very lengthy process at the beginning, especially due to all the concerts and rehearsals happening at the same time they were writing and recording material for the album. The girls had a very strict deadline, saying they wrote the last song for the album on the last day before the recordings, but that after all the pressure somehow contributed to their creative thinking and they were happy with what they took with them from the studio. If you want to get a very good (and infernal) taste of Konvent’s undisputed doom from their new album, with Julie smashing her drums beautifully, take a very good listen at the songs Trust and Ropes Pt. II, and don’t forget to also purchase their music directly form their BandCamp page. I’m beyond certain you’ll get addicted to their devilish creations.

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Highly influences by some of the most obscure and talented bands and artist from the extreme music universe such as Anaal Nathrakh, King Diamond, Candlemass, Mantar, Monolord, Alunah, Solbrud, Dirt Forge and Black Breath, Julie was questioned if she still feels the influence of Metallica’s own Lars Ulrich around Copenhagen and in Denmark in general. well, she said there will always be a comparison to Lars due to the fact she’s a drummer from his homeland Denmark, but she doesn’t really know if that’s a compliment. There’s this “love-hate” feeling due to Lars’ arrogance, but she still likes him and his style, saying he’s some sort of “goofy uncle” for all drummers, complementing by saying that he’s still a big celebrity in Denmark and that he’s not seen in public that often, as opposed to the guys from Volbeat who are always around town.

Julie and the other girls from Konvent were also inquired about the current state of the Danish metal scene, being asked about which bands from Copenhagen they would love to play with or see live, and their answers included several incredible bands from the beautiful capital of “Danevang” such as Dirt Forge, Solbrud, Alkymist, Møl, Afsky, Morild and Dying Hydra, among others, which by the way they said all made them feel very welcome to the scene, especially Dirt Forge with whom they had the pleasure to play with several times in the past few years. They complemented by saying the Danish scene is a very familiar one, as most bands know each other in some way and everyone is extremely friendly and helpful, also saying there are countless concerts happening everyday at different small venues and mentioning other Danish bands like Konvent that are branching out to the world and getting more and more attention such as Baest, Slægt and Møl. Hence, if you live in Copenhagen or if you’re visiting the city in the near future you should definitely try some of their best venues for some first-class underground doom and other heavy styles, including Ungdomshuset, which is the local youth house in Copenhagen, as well as the bigger venues such as Vega or Pumpehuset, also referred to as “The Bomb House”, whenever they put on metal, and Loppen, at the freetown Christiania in the middle of Copenhagen (which by the way Julie doesn’t feel one hundred percent safe as in the rest of the city), where Konvent has already taken their stage by storm.

As we’re talking about the Danish scene and venues for live metal performances, it’s obvious that Julie and the other girls love to play their music live and tour as much as they can, something that’s expected form any good metalhead. For instance, one of their biggest dreams was to perform at the biggest music festivals organized in their homeland, the exceptional Copenhell and Roskilde Festival, which they ended up doing in the same year, in 2019. Julie said it was truly unreal to be part of both festivals, saying they were extremely nervous and restless before the shows, and also mentioning that because they were supposed to play at a really early spot, at around 2pm, they didn’t think there were going to be so many people attending their concert. She also said they’re absolutely pumped for their first round of international concerts, including shows in Germany, Sweden and Norway, as well as international festivals such as Gefle Metal Fest in Gävle, Sweden, In Flammen Open Air in Torgau, Germany and the HRH Vikings – Chapter III in Sheffield, England. When asked about which countries or festivals apart from the aforementioned ones they would love to play, our stunning drummer said they definitely want to play at the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise, also citing other major festivals like Brutal Assault, Sweden Rock, Hellfest and Eindhoven Metal Meeting. In addition to all that, Julia also mentioned Konvent have been receiving tons of positive feedback form all over the world, from countries and regions like the United States, Canada, Japan, Eastern Europe and South America, with the fans from the United States and Eastern Europe being the most excited with their music so far. If you would like to witness the power and obscurity of Konvent live, go check some YouTube videos such as their performance of the songs No End and Bridge at the Kaldet Fra Dybet III festival at Ungdomshuset, in Copenhagen, in February 2018; playing the song Puritan Masochism at Copenhell in 2019; and their full performance at When Copenhell Freezes Over at Vega in January 2018, where you can enjoy Julie smashing her drums in songs like Chernobyl Child, Tracks and Squares. Also, don’t forget to check their short and sweet “tour report” from their 2018 mini-tour in Germany as a support act for the bands Monolord and Firebreather, and Julie herself inviting us all to join them at the 2018 edition of Metal Magic.

When Konvent are not doing music, the girls like to do some distinct and fun activities either by themselves or together, with their curiosity about the world inspiring them to take walks in the nature, listen to science podcasts, travel the world, spend quality time with their friends and family and read books by authors like Dennis Jürgensen, Dan Turèll, and Patty Smith. As none of the girls smoke weed, they can only recommend some traditional Danish dishes to us fans, such as their famous Smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich made with rye bread with loads of different toppings on it, and the Danish pastry called Snøfler. And lastly, when asked if they’re worried about all the work that Konvent might generate for them, Julie said that all the girls are trying their best to align their tasks and responsibilities as a band to their non-Konvent work and studies, and that of course one day they hope they can make a living from Konvent. In my humble opinion, based on the fantastic job done by the band so far with both their demo and their newborn full-length spawn they’re on the right path to stardom, and I can’t wait to see Julie and her bandmates slamming our heads with their pulverizing doom in North America in a not-so-distant future.

Julie Simonsen’s Official Facebook page
Julie Simonsen’s Official Instagram
Konvent’s Official Facebook page
Konvent’s Official Instagram
Konvent’s Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Arcana 13 / Black Death EP (2020)

A lethal mixture between the visual terror of Italian horror with the heavy and magical atmospheres of 70’s Occult Rock in the form of a short but extremely sharp and obscure EP.

“Emblems seen through the fog, it’s the end of it all. Look upon the blood-red moon and you’ll be facing the Black Death.”

Hailing from Italy, the birthplace of cult horror movie masters like Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Mario Bava, among many others, more specifically from Ravenna, a city in in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy, Doom/Heavy Metal entity Arcana 13 (which should be read as Arcana Tredici, as “tredici” is 13 in Italian) is unleashing upon humanity more of their “Horror Doom”, a lethal mixture between the visual terror of Italian horror with the heavy and magical atmospheres of 70’s Occult Rock, with their brand new EP entitled Black Death, the follow-up to their 2016 full-length opus Danza Macabra.

Comprised of Simone Bertozzi and Andrea Burdisso on vocals and guitars, Filippo Petrini on bass and Luigi Taroni on drums, Arcana 13’s latest gravestone is the collaboration with director Luca Canale Brucculeri on his new horror TV series Black Death, based on the eponymous comic book. He got enthralled by Arcana 13’s music and decided to commission the main theme’s songwriting for the series, resulting in this short but extremely effective display of horror and doom by Arcana 13, all complemented by a grim artwork designed by Spanish artist Pol Abran (Branca Studio). Having said that, are you ready to face darkness and horror together with this talented four-piece act of doom?

Like in a sinister horror movie the song Black Death starts in a truly phantasmagorical way, evolving into a feast of damned beats blasted by Luigi and cryptic guitar lines by both Simone and Andrea. Not only that, it has a beautiful Black Sabbath-inspired vibe that will certainly captivate all your senses, inviting you to feel the thunderous bass by Filippo smashing your skull mercilessly, while the last part of the song is faster, more dynamic and more flammable, bringing to our avid ears a wild guitar solo as the icing on the cake. Then Arcana 13 offer us all something I’d never thought I would see one day, a somber and atmospheric Doom Metal version of an Iron Maiden song, more specifically the old school Wrathchild (check out this amazing version from Iron Maiden’s latest live album The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter, released in 2018), where Filippo kicks ass on bass while the vocal lines sound and feel grim and introspective from start to finish, also showcasing a fantastic job done by Simone and Andrea with their damned riffage.

If Black Death is only the “teaser trailer” to what Arcana 13 are preparing for us in the near future in the form of a new horror movie-inspired full-length opus, then we can all rest assured great things are about to happen in the ominous world of such skillful and hardworking Italian group. Hence, keep an eye on their official Facebook page for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the quartet, and grab your copy of Black Death from their official BandCamp page, from the Aural Music webstore, from FYE.com and soon from several other locations, showing your utmost support to a band that certainly knows how to transform a spine-chilling, psychological horror story into top-of-the-line heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Both songs are darkly amazing.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Aural Music

Track listing
1. Black Death 6:48
2. Wrathchild (Iron Maiden cover) 3:52

Band members
Simone Bertozzi – vocals, guitar
Andrea Burdisso – vocals, guitar
Filippo Petrini – bass
Luigi Taroni – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The year of 2019 might be reaching its inevitable end in the blink of an eye for most of us, but if there’s one thing we must admit is that it has been indeed a year of countless events, episodes and changes with a huge impact on how pretty much everything works in our Heavy Metal universe. For instance, 2019 was the year where we unfortunately witnessed the ultimate campaign by Thrash Metal titans Slayer, who at the same time left an undisputed and brilliant legacy to Heavy Metal and a giant hole in our hearts and in the global Thrash Metal scene. Do you think there’s any band that can fill that gap created by the end of Slayer? In my humble opinion, although I love bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, I doubt anyone can claim Slayer’s throne as the meanest, most demonic and most pulverizing band of all time, but that doesn’t mean Thrash Metal is dead and gone. Quite the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking, with many of the underground bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose contributing to keep the flame of such distinct subgenre of heavy music burning bright.

In addition, 2019 was also the year we lost many of our rock and metal icons, including André Matos (vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper), Larry Wallis (former guitarist of Motörhead), and Timi Hansen (former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond), as well as several talented musicians from non-metal styles like Marie Fredriksson (lead singer and keyboardist of Roxette), Keith Flint (frontman of The Prodigy), and the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Mr. Dick Dale. However, even with all those significant losses, we can say 2019 was a productive year for rock and metal music, with many iconic and underground bands delivering some fantastic albums for our total delectation, and that’s why here we are again with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, to prove once and for all that heavy music will never, ever die. Having said that, enjoy our list of top metal albums for this year that’s coming to an end, and keep raising your horns high together with us in 2020!

1. Rammstein – Rammstein (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.
Best song of the album: Deutschland

2. Necronomicon – UNUS (REVIEW)
Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their career.
Best song of the album: Infinituum Continuum

3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics (REVIEW)
It’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Fire God and Fear

4. Soilwork – Verkligheten (REVIEW)
Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters return in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.
Best song of the album: Stålfågel

5. The Agonist – Orphans (REVIEW)
Canadian juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.
Best song of the album: Blood as My Guide

6. Helevorn – Aamamata (REVIEW)
Embrace darkness and melancholy with the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the current Spanish scene.
Best song of the album: Aurora

7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (REVIEW)
The world’s most famous masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.
Best song of the album: Unsainted

8. Amon Amarth – Berserker (REVIEW)
Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with Amon Amarth.
Best song of the album: Shield Wall

9. Target – Deep Water Flames (REVIEW)
Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by this amazing band from Chile.
Best song of the album: Oceangrave

10. Singularity – Place of Chains (REVIEW)
The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Ritual of Regret

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

11. Grand Magus – Wolf God (REVIEW)
12. Hiss From The Moat – The Harrier (REVIEW)
13. Lucifera – La Caceria De Brujas (REVIEW)
14. Alunah – Violet Hour (REVIEW)
15. Dö – Astral Death Cult (REVIEW)
16. Rifftera – Across the Acheron (REVIEW)
17. Rage Of Light – Imploder (REVIEW)
18. Rexoria – Ice Breaker (REVIEW)
19. HerezA – Death Metal Drunks (REVIEW)
20. Aephanemer – Prokopton (REVIEW)

Also, let’s not forget about some of the best albums which, although might be short in duration, they did bring to our ears an endless amount of heaviness, speed and harmony this year, accrediting them to be part of our Top 10 EP’s of 2019. As you can see, those EP’s were recorded by the most diverse types of bands and artists from all over the world, becoming some sort of “tasting sample” of what we can expect from those metallers in a not-so-distant future.

1. Eleine – All Shall Burn (REVIEW)
2. Quilombo – Itankale (REVIEW)
3. Master’s Call – Morbid Black Trinity (REVIEW)
4. Violent Life Violent Death – Sadness Rains (REVIEW)
5. Angra Demana – Triptych Of Decay (REVIEW)
6. Vorga – Radiant Gloom (REVIEW)
7. Shuulak – Citrinitas (REVIEW)
8. Moanaa – Torches (REVIEW)
9. Exuviated – Déliquescence (REVIEW)
10. Sophist – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2019? And, as usual, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2020!

And before The Headbanging Moose takes a well-deserved break to recover our energies and return in full force in 2020, how about we enjoy what’s probably one of the best and most detailed “Christmas” songs of all time, the fantastic Valhalleluja, recently released by Italian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Nanowar of Steel? This is the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas night with your loved ones, especially if you give someone anything from IKEA as a Christmas gift. Well, simply watch the official video below and follow the lyrics to understand what I’m talking about. Having said that, let’s all pray to Odin, drink beer and sing Valhalleluja together with Nanowar of Steel, my friends!