Album Review – Through Chaos & Solitude / The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun EP (2017)

A classy and meaningful Melodic Black Metal project aiming at opening our eyes and show us that we, mankind, are our own blessing and our own curse.

“The thawing winds of the morning sun is us. Mankind. We are our own blessing and our own curse. We are the stroke of wing which causes these winds to blow. We try to become god ourselves while declaring him for dead and still we deny our nature. We subdue the earth and its children and still we strive for more. By now we already realized our purpose and we willingly choose to neglect it. We’re flying directly into the sun and still we’re accelerating…”

These dark, poetic words perfectly summarize the music you’ll find in The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun, the debut demo by German Melodic Black Metal project Through Chaos & Solitude, led by multi-instrumentalist Tim Rule (Forward to Eden) with the help of Sebastian D. (Castigator) on drums. Featuring a serene cover art by Pottriot Illustrationen, and written, recorded and mixed by Tim himself during this past winter in the city of Ruhrpott in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state of Germany, The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun brings beautiful, melancholic and dark music in the vein of bands like Woods Of Ypres, Agalloch and Falls Of Rauros, with each one of its three songs sending a thoughtful message about life and death, our souls, our existence and our struggles.

The initial sound of the howling wind in the first song of the demo, titled The Intransigence Of The Soul, is suddenly joined by an onrush of heavy guitars and blast beats, with the demonic gnarls by Tim giving life (or I should say death) to the song’s poetic lyrics (“Constant struggle of the mind and the heart / Constant suspense of the body and the mind / Persistency in the thought – restlessly moving on / Intransigence of the soul…”). Furthermore, anguish, despair and loneliness are just a few of the emotions explored by Tim in this piercing Black Metal chant, ending in an acoustic and pensive manner before we face the second piece of the demo, A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth), which builds a direct bridge to the opening track, beginning in a slow-paced rhythm inspired by the obscurity of Doom and Gothic Metal, also showcasing acute Black Metal blast beats by Sebastian D. and a somber ambience. Tim’s phantasmagoric vocals embrace us in darkness at first, shifting to his hellish growls and back to melodic clean vocals and, therefore, creating a nice paradox of voices inside our minds.

Also connected to its predecessor, If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed brings forward obscure acoustic guitars and once again the haunting sound of the wind while Tim darkly grasps the song’s austere lyrics, which present his personal view of mankind (“Evolution has brought us so far / And still – look where we are / Creating life and taking life / All in the same conceited breath / We are appointing ourselves to gods / Whereas declaring him for dead / If this is the best we can be / Then please let it end with me / Evolution has brought us so far…”). In addition, this composition is another excellent sample of the clash of distinct sounds Tim enjoys putting together, displaying slow and steady beats à la Doom Metal during its first half, whereas the second part of the song brings an explosion of heavy and dissonant sounds that lives up to the legacy of Scandinavian Black Metal, until it finally reaches its lugubrious ending.

In summary, Tim and his Through Chaos & Solitude are not only offering us well-crafted, harmonious and dark heavy music, but he also discusses important topics about the dangerous direction mankind is taking, pointing to our dread but inevitable extinction. If you’re a metalhead that’s always in pursuit of high-end music coming from independent artists and bands who also care about the content and message transmitted through their creations, Through Chaos & Solitude might be exactly what you’re craving, and obviously don’t forget support this brand new project by purchasing The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun at the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore (in tape or CD format), at the Mark My Words Records’ BandCamp or webstore, or at Discogs. Let’s hope Tim goes on with Through Chaos & Solitude, a classy project with a meaningful message that only brings more energy to his already excellent Melodic Black Metal, and that mankind finally opens their eyes for all the wrongful things that are happening in our world before it’s too late.

Best moments of the album: The Intransigence Of The Soul.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bound By Modern Age Records/Mark My Words Records

Track listing
1. The Intransigence Of The Soul 7:58
2. A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth) 5:10
3. If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed 6:37

Band members
Tim Rule – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Sebastian D. – drums

Album Review – Ibyss / Hate Speech EP (2017)

A feast of modern and industrialized sounds by a dynamic duo of German metallers who are not afraid of expressing their rage against censorship and rising authoritarian tendencies.

When it came to my attention that several German webzines and even leading print magazines refused to review or publish any news about Hate Speech, the brand new EP by German Industrial Metal duo Ibyss, because they think the album title is too “problematic” or “provocative”, I instantly thought there’s something wrong with the media and their “invisible” censorship. The duo even states in their material the specific topics their non-political EP deals with, such as third-wave feminism, trigger warnings and toxic masculinity, in an aggressive and unapologetic way against censorship and rising authoritarian tendencies in the midst of a battle of the sexes (which are already sweeping into the Heavy Metal subculture).

Formed in 2013 and highly influenced by the music by renowned acts like Nailbomb, Godflesh and Ministry, the duo comprised of Jens (vocals, guitars) and Nihil (guitars, bass, drum programming) hails from Düsseldorf, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, known for its fashion industry and arts, having released in 2014 their very experimental debut album Obsidian, as well as a couple of singles in the coming years, carving their name in the German independent scene. Moreover, they nurture a deep passion for alternative and industrial music, they love to experiment with unusual and heavy sounds, and they’re not afraid of discussing about controversial topics through their creations. Put differently, they use their austere music as their form of expressing their view of our modern-day society, and Hate Speech deserves a shot for being such an honest and meaningful album. There’s nothing wrong with that, don’t you agree?

Anyway, opening the EP in a metallic and groovy way we have Bois Ton Sang (or “drink your blood” from French), where Jens begins screaming his acid words violently while Nihil’s bass sounds very old school, resulting in a German Industrial Metal extravaganza perfect for breaking your neck headbanging. Moving on with their industrialized attack, electronic elements permeate the air from the very first second in the excellent Face Off, an aggressive Industrial Metal chant the likes of Fear Factory where the razor-edged guitars by both Jens and Nihil dictate the rhythm, with the song’s thunderous and menacing bass lines bringing even more electricity to the already belligerent musicality presented. And making use of tons of industrial elements in the background and featuring German legend Rüdiger Schuster (Stumpff, U.L.A.A, Unlucky Childz) as a guest vocalist, Home Is Where The Graves Are also brings forward rumbling bass lines and piercing guitars to enhance the song’s potency and impact in a brutal way.

Like Drones feels like traditional Industrial Metal with hints of Sludge Metal, reminding me of some of the newest songs by Sepultura due to its grooviness and creativity, not to mention the great job done by Nihil with the drum programming by making it sound very organic and raw; whereas the ruthless Frontlines keeps up with the rest of the album in terms of electricity and punch. This time Jens presents not only his tormented growls, but also his gentle, clean voice, creating an interesting paradox of vocal lines throughout the whole song. Finally, when you reach the last song of Hate Speech, entitled Senseless Ordeal, you’ll be able to clearly acknowledge what the music by Ibyss is all about, their sonority and characteristic sounds, showing how cohesive the whole EP is. The duo keeps smashing their guitars unceasingly during the song’s seven minutes, sounding threatening and coarse (but always with a lot of harmony), building what can be considered a fusion of the music by Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson and Triptykon, or in other words, an Industrial-Doom-Gothic Metal feast.

Why the media is not supporting such riveting underground act is beyond my comprehension. If you think about it for one second, they come from the same country as Neue Deutsche Härte icons Rammstein, who gave the world extremely polemic creations such as “Pussy”, “Amerika”, and especially “Mann gegen Mann”. If you also think we all have the right to express our ideas, if you think freedom of speech is still important, and especially if you like modern and industrialized music, go check what Jens and Nihil are up to at their Facebook page, enjoy their music at their YouTube channel and SoundCloud, and buy your copy of Hate Speech at their BandCamp page. As mentioned before, this talented duo is not afraid of expressing their anger against censorship and their view of other controversial topics, and by doing that through their experimental compositions they ended up providing fans of heavy music an excellent and noteworthy option outside of the comfort zone of traditional metal.

Best moments of the album: Face Off and Senseless Ordeal.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Bois Ton Sang 4:50
2. Face Off 3:52
3. Home Is Where The Graves Are (feat. Rüdiger Schuster) 4:19
4. Like Drones 2:40
5. Frontlines 4:43
6. Senseless Ordeal 7:01

Band members
Jens – vocals, guitars
Nihil – guitars, bass, drum programming

Guest musician
Rüdiger Schuster – additional vocals on “Home Is Where The Graves Are”

Album Review – Corpus Diavolis / Atra Lumen (2017)

Open your mind and follow the black light formed of ritualistic Black, Death and Doom Metal by this extremely talented horde hailing from France.

Musically conceiving a ritualistic feeling into the vibes of Black Metal, the unstoppable French horde known as Corpus Diavolis has never been tempted to lose themselves on their own musical maelstrom since their inception in 2008 in the city of Marseille, located in the always beautiful Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. After the release of their debut EP Nightsky Orgia in 2009 and their highly acclaimed full-length albums Revolucia in 2010 and Entheogenesis in 2013, the band led by multi-instrumentalist Daemonicreator brings forth now in 2017 Atra Lumen, a monumental opus tailored for fans of the darkest side of music.

Atra Lumen, which means “black light” in Latin, blends the band’s unrelenting Black, Death and Doom Metal with concepts such as Shamanism, ceremonial magic, tarot, the esoteric journey of English occultist Aleister Crowley and the philosophical transcendence of Chilean-French artist and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky, penetrating your skin, your mind and your heart and, consequently, enfolding you in a dark and mystical aura from start to finish. Each one of its eight tracks is unique, obscure and ominous, showcasing not only the talent of each member of Corpus Diavolis, but also how vicious and mesmerizing their creations feel when every distinct sound is thoroughly put together.

We’re invited to enter the gates of the underworld to the sound of the opening track, named Revelations Before Dawn, where doomed beats and a menacing ambience warm up the listener before Daemonicreator begins vociferating like a demon, with guitarists Analyser and Lord Khaos, together with bassist Funeral, delivering pure old school Black Metal through their instruments. The low-tuned riffs by Analyser and Lord Khaos and the rhythmic blast beats by drummer IX generate a hellish atmosphere in the Black Metal feast The Ardent Jewel of His Presence, once again showcasing all the potency and malignancy of the music by Corpus Diavolis; followed by L’Oeil Unique, or “the one eye” from French, uniting the most obscure forms of Black and Doom Metal (feeling almost like Blackened Doom), with highlights to the precise drumming by IX and to the Stygian way Daemonicreator declaims the song’s lyrics.

Signs Of End Times displays a truly devilish start to another powerful, full-bodied creation by Corpus Diavolis, before all hell breaks loose and Daemonicreator begins growling his blasphemous words potently, not mention the amazing job done by the duo of darkness Analyser and Lord Khaos with their demonic guitars. The next track, nicely entitled Wine of The Beast, brings forward more Doom Metal beats and somber passages by Daemonicreator and his followers, sounding slow-paced and diabolical at times, and faster and full of hatred at others. Furthermore, as a fan of extreme music, do you think you have the guts to drink the wine of the beast? Before you can even answer that, bells tolling ignite another evil aria of Black Metal titled Flesh to Flesh, again offering the most obscure elements of Doom Metal added to their already darkened music, with Analyser and Lord Khaos leading the sonority with their cutting old school riffage.

With sheer irreligiousness emanating from its riffs and blast beats, Thy Glorification is a violent, straightforward tune that leans towards Norwegian Black Metal where we can enjoy another nefarious performance by Daemonicreator on vocals, while the instrumental pieces get heavier, more impactful and more aggressive as the music progresses. And last but not least, Sick Waters, which presents a horror-inspired cinematic intro, is a very atmospheric chant focusing on the devilish gnarls by Daemonicreator and the steady but potent beats by IX. Moreover, the song’s beautiful fusion of the aggressiveness of Black Metal with the mournful aspects of Doom Metal closes the album in a blackened way, leaving us all eager for more of the extreme spawns by Corpus Diavolis.

Not only you can follow this awesome horde of esotericism and wickedness through their Facebook page and purchase your copy of Atra Lumen at several locations, such as the band’s own webshop or BandCamp, the ATMF’s webshop or BandCamp, the Season of Mist’s webshop, Amazon or Discogs (and pay attention as the physical copy of the album is limited to 400 copies only in digipak format with an extensive booklet), but Corpus Diavolis are also going to be one of the attractions at the first ATMF Festival, which will take place at the Eresia Metalfest on July 2 this year in Resia, located in the province of Udine, in Italy. In a nutshell, all you have to do to relish the extreme music by Corpus Diavolis is open your mind and your heart, surrender to their ritualistic sounds, and follow their black light formed of Black, Death and Doom Metal, as simple as that.

Best moments of the album: The Ardent Jewel of His Presence, Signs Of End Times and Thy Glorification.

Worst moments of the album: Flesh to Flesh.

Released in 2017 Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum

Track listing
1. Revelations Before Dawn 6:22
2. The Ardent Jewel of His Presence 5:52
3. L’Oeil Unique 5:54
4. Signs Of End Times 4:12
5. Wine of The Beast 6:27
6. Flesh to Flesh 4:52
7. Thy Glorification 3:37
8. Sick Waters 6:46

Band members
Daemonicreator – vocals, synths, theremine
Analyser – lead guitars
Lord Khaos – guitars
Funeral – bass
IX – drums

Album Review – Bathsheba / Servus (2017)

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises a new Occult Doom Metal entity, bringing endless sadness, pain and anguish with their first full-length opus.

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises Bathsheba, an unholy gathering of four talented musicians hailing from Genk, a city located in the Belgian province of Limburg, aiming at spreading grief and agony all over the world with their first full-length opus, the excellent Servus. Portraying a biblical name and fronted by the stunning she-devil Michelle Nocon (Serpentcult, Leviathan Speaks, Death Penalty), this distinct quartet formed in 2013 brings forth an occult version of Doom Metal intensified by elements from Sludge and Black Metal, resulting in a blackened feast of atmospheric and schizophrenic sounds.

The mystical frontwoman Michelle, together with guitarist Dwight Goossens (Disinterred), bassist Raf Meukens (Death Penalty, Torturerama) and drummer Jelle Stevens (Sardonis), released a demo  tape in October 2014 and shortly after signed to Svart Records, releasing an EP titled The Sleepless Gods in May 2015, which then led the band to participate in important underground festivals such as Doom Over London, DesertFest, Incubate, Dutch Doom Days and Doomed Gatherings. However, it’s with Servus, which features a stylish artwork by Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (Dissolvtion), that the band has reached a new level of wickedness, offering the listener six complex and peculiar songs about struggle, sadness, constant threat and distortion of the mind. In other words, Bathsheba will drag you into the horror of existence under the crushing weight of reality with the doomed music found in Servus.

Somber words work as an intro to the sluggish and obscure tune Conjuration of Fire, with the slow, dirty rhythm carved by Dwight, Raf and Jelle opening the gates of hell for the she-demon Michelle to start mesmerizing us by declaiming the song’s poetic lyrics (“Art of chaos / come over me / I wander endlessly / Are you the One / the One for me / Divided in Earth and Sea”). Furthermore, the second part of the song gets beautifully heavier and more diabolical, turning it into a modern-day witchcraft hymn. Like a tenebrous tempest, Bathsheba come crushing our souls in the boisterous Ain Soph, displaying old school doomed beats by Jelle and whimsical guitars by Dwight. Michelle delivers some deeper, darker vocal lines, while a saxophone creates a gripping paradox with the song’s more extreme Black Metal-inspired sounds. And the somber aura present in both previous songs continues to penetrate our skin in Manifest, where an atmospheric background and the smooth voice by Michelle are slowly joined by the other instruments until the music reaches a fierce Doom Metal stage bursting with melancholy and heaviness. Put differently, this excellent composition will offer you 10 minutes of hopelessness emanating from its sharp riffs, flammable solos and those potent and steady beats only found in old school Doom Metal.

Wandering through a desolated field, Bathsheba fire Demon 13, an awesome Doom and Sludge Metal chant with a demonic vibe showcasing a growing excruciating pain through the rumbling roar by Raf’s bass guitar and the pounding drums by Jelle, with Michelle sounding more menacing and pleasant and the same time. Inspired by the most obscure creations by Black Sabbath, Dwight brings tons of feeling to the music in the slow-paced and melodic composition The Sleepless Gods, while Michelle becomes some sort of enchantress through her vocals; and if you love truly dark sounds, I, at the End of Everything will certainly please your ears, being like a tribal version of Doom Metal displaying Stygian guitar lines in sync with Jelle’s rhythmic beats, not to mention the song’s conjuring lyrics (“And by the virtue of the Highest One / I command Thee / To perfect the Creation / Make me myself again / Universe tremble again / You who is worthy of all praise”). After this song is over, I bet you’ll go back to the beginning of Servus again and again so addictive Michelle’s performance is throughout the entire album, proving how gripping the music by Bathsheba can be.

Servus is already on sale at several locations, such as Bathsheba’s BandCamp or Big Cartel in different formats (CD, LP, CD + shirt package and LP + shirt package), at the Svart Records’ webstore, at Record Shop X, at Discogs, on iTunes or on Amazon. This, my friends, is the sorrowful and eldritch world crafted by this dark entity called Bathsheba, an obscure land where although happiness and peace are not welcome, we’ll indubitably enjoy living in its shadows.

Best moments of the album: Conjuration of Fire and Demon 13.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Svart Records

Track listing
1. Conjuration of Fire 7:34
2. Ain Soph 5:42
3. Manifest 10:33
4. Demon 13 5:45
5. The Sleepless Gods 7:14
6. I, at the End of Everything 8:25

Band members
Michelle Nocon – vocals
Dwight Goossens – guitars
Raf Meukens – bass
Jelle Stevens – drums

Album Review – The Sun Through a Telescope / Black Hole Smile (2017)

Brave the psychedelic sludge waters of Doom and Drone Metal brought forth by this inventive one-man band from Canada, and have your musical boundaries pushed further in a unique way.

I love when a band challenges our senses and pushes our musical boundaries further and further, which is exactly what you’ll face in Black Hole Smile, the brand new album by Canadian Drone/Doom Metal one-man project The Sun Through a Telescope, led by Ottawa-based multi-instrumentalist Leigh Newton (also known as Lee Neutron). In nothing less than 17 (yes, seventeen!) distinct tracks, Lee offers the listener an unconventional fusion of several styles and genres that will blow your mind, or as he likes to say, his music is where “Blackened Doom meets Ambient Drone, soaked in psychedelic sludge water.”

Lee has been very active with his The Sun Through a Telescope since 2011, having released a few EP’s that year before his first full-length album, titled I Die Smiling, came to light in 2013. The following year saw the birth of a new EP named Unnatural Cruciform on a Moss Covered Rock, paving the path for Lee to go even further with his creativity and bring forth Black Hole Smile. Each song will sound different than the others, each one being a distinct experiment by Lee, creating a parallel universe of music that might not make a lot of sense at first, but that will certainly get you entranced from start to finish.

In the very atmospheric, psychedelic and experimental Never Pray, Lee’s clean vocals sound as if he was in a different dimension, with the song’s background being only a distant, smooth noise, becoming an interesting warm-up for Living Every Single Hell, where alternative and distorted guitars are complemented by slow, sharp beats before an explosion of rage and anger with elements of Black and Death Metal invades our ears. Furthermore, Lee goes from maniac growls to desolated clean vocals and back to his demented mode à la Mike Patton, guiding us in a 10-minute voyage through the world of The Sun Through a Telescope. With such an impactful name, I couldn’t expect anything less visceral and experimental than Worm(hole)s, where Lee offers more of his hypnotic guitars and doomed beats, as well as his sick gnarls blending Drone and Doom Metal in a very gripping manner; followed by The Inverted Cross Of A Sunday Funday, a fun and solid instrumental piece by this one-man army displaying less than two minutes of demonic sounds inspired by the meanest forms of Industrial and Drone Metal.

“More Light” continues with Lee’s movie score-inspired extravaganza, being somehow epic and building an instant connection to Every Single Living Hell (note the word play with the second track of the album), with the crow in the background giving it a funereal vibe before becoming a hellish hybrid of Blackened Doom and Drone Metal, also presenting wicked sounds usually found in Alternative and Groove Metal. Focusing on its choir-like vocals and gentle guitar lines, the purely atmospheric composition Dead Dies, New Born gets to a more Alternative Rock and Metal sonority halfway through it, giving even a sense of hope to the whole song, whereas Something Witchy offers 40 seconds of a demented devastation full of distortions and wicked growls before peace returns in No Way Home. However, that peaceful ambience lasts only until half of the song, when Lee beings firing his blast beats and atmospheric vocals again.

Black Hole Bile and “Oh No, This Is Mine” are two similar but somehow unique one-minute deranged instrumental tunes, while A Prolonged Vegetative State presents a more violent side of The Sun Through a Telescope, showcasing deeper guttural and heavier sounds as if Faith No More was “poisoned” with the darkness of Drone and Doom Metal. And never tired of experimenting with different sounds, Lee delivers the Ambient Black Metal tunes Burn Everything and No More Light, with things only getting weirder and more experimental as the album progresses, so alternative it’s impossible to label what’s happening. If I try to explain the music in Caught, Drugged, Trial, Exile, one more atmospheric creation spawned by Lee, I would say there’s an inner fury in this song that never fully comes out, increasing its anxiousness and despair, while the melancholy and the sounds of birds in the background in Dead Tomorrow flow into the pleasant sonority with smooth vocals and the delicate instrumental from Whitehole / Brighthell, with moments of anger meticulously inserted at specific parts of the song, building a suffocating and climatic conclusion to this extravagant album.

If you want to know more about Lee and his The Sun Through a Telescope, simply visit his Facebook page for the most up-to-date news, with Black Hole Smile (which can be streamed in its entirety HERE) being available for purchase on BandCamp, CD Baby, iTunes and on Amazon. After swimming in the psychedelic sludge waters of Doom and Drone Metal proposed by The Sun Through a Telescope, I’m sure your view of the current state of heavy music will change considerably, proving how important independent artists like Lee are for music and arts in general.

Best moments of the album: Living Every Single Hell, Every Single Living Hell, A Prolonged Vegetative State and Whitehole / Brighthell.

Worst moments of the album: “Oh No, This Is Mine” and No More Light.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Never Pray 2:55
2. Living Every Single Hell 9:57
3. Worm(hole)s 6:20
4. The Inverted Cross Of A Sunday Funday 1:39
5. “More Light” 1:35
6. Every Single Living Hell 7:50
7. Dead Dies, New Born 4:06
8. Something Witchy 0:38
9. No Way Home 3:14
10. Black Hole Bile 1:06
11. “Oh No, This Is Mine” 1:17
12. A Prolonged Vegetative State 2:59
13. Burn Everything 1:04
14. No More Light 2:05
15. Caught, Drugged, Trial, Exile 5:38
16. Dead Tomorrow 0:51
17. Whitehole / Brighthell 7:08

Band members
Lee Neutron – vocals, guitars, bass, drums, programming, samples

Guest musician
Ava – additional vocals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best moments of the album: To Keep the Blood.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Pagan Records

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

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

Album Review – Blaze Bayley / Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II) (2017)

The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date, this time offering an action-packed album bursting with anger, passion and mystery.

Less than one year after the release of the gripping Infinite Entanglement, the indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the also astounding Endure And Survive, the second part of his most ambitious project, a Sci-Fi trilogy about Mr. William Christopher Black, a man who doesn’t know if he’s a man or a machine on a futuristic mission to discover one of the new Kepler planets. After the dark and climatic ending of the first part, I’m sure all fans of the Heavy Metal crafted by Blaze (including myself, of course) have been waiting anxiously for the next chapter in the eccentric journey of our mysterious main character, and Endure And Survive offer us all that and more in a brilliant way.

Once again accompanied by the talented Chris Appleton (guitar), Karl Schramm (bass) and Martin McNee (drums), all from British Heavy Metal band Absolva, plus many other very special guests such as Anne Bakker (violin) and Thomas Zwijsen (acoustic guitars), Blaze continues to tell the story of William Black magnificently, with a lot of poetry in his lyrics and, as usual, endless passion and energy in his vocals. The album’s futuristic artwork, designed once again by Andreas Sandberg with additional images from Christopher Steenstrup (who is also working on a Blaze Bayley video game), builds an instant connection with part one, showing how focused Blaze was on providing his loyal fans the most cohesive and exciting story possible.

Shall we begin? That’s precisely how the powerful title-track Endure and Survive starts, exactly where the first part ended, with the music itself continuing to be heavy, melodic and thrilling. In my humble opinion, Blaze found in Chris the perfect guitarist for his vocals as we can see in this epic tune, not to mention the song’s inspiring chorus and the amazing narrations, effectively taking us to the Sci-Fi world created by Blaze. In Escape Velocity, the story goes on at the speed of light, with Chris, Karl and Martin crafting electrifying music full of exciting solos and fast beats, while Blaze canalizes all his passion for metal and science fiction into his potent vocals, resulting in another classic song that I can’t wait to see him performing live. And after a dark intro we’re treated to the best musicality Blaze and his bandmates can offer, titled Blood, a high-speed furious Heavy Metal hymn absolutely perfect for the song’s aggressive lyrics, with Chris being simply insane with his riffs. Furthermore, a man and a woman explain who William Black really is, a murderer with blood on his hands according to them. Is that really the truth? Well, I don’t know the answer, at least not yet, but I know this song kicks some serious ass.

A pensive and anguished William is the centerpiece of the dark composition Eating Lies, showcasing all the talent of Blaze as a storyteller, as you can feel all the inner suffering from the story’s main character due to the lies being told about him through his vocals; followed by Destroyer, presenting that traditional sonority by Blaze seen in pretty much all his albums. In other words, it’s a very cohesive and rhythmic song about the “destroyer of worlds”, with the classic beats by Martin and the soulful riffs and solos by Chris supporting another excellent performance by Blaze. Then we have the epic Dawn of the Dead Son, where a woman with a suave voice seems to be talking inside William’s mind, with the music being a mix of his years with Iron Maiden with his contemporary material, displaying a galloping rhythm and blazing guitars. Each and every song has a reason to exist and this one is no exception to that, taking the listener once again on a dangerous but exciting journey before a serene ambience takes place in the stunning acoustic chant Remember. This troubadour-inspired folk version of Blaze is simply superb, being more melodic and romantic than “What Will Come” from part one, with Blaze flawlessly declaiming the song’s lyrics. Needless to say, his partnership with Thomas and Anne couldn’t sound more in sync, with the song’s female backing vocals also being a thing of beauty.

Returning to a more classic musicality, Fight Back is a song that would have already been amazing on its own in any of Blaze’s old albums, but that in Endure And Survive also plays an important part in the storyline, with Karl and Martin adding tons of heaviness to the music, therefore making it easier for Blaze to effectively deliver his potent vocals. Exhibiting hints of the classic Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath and some songs by Dio in his solo career, in special his biggest hit Holy Diver, the stunning The World Is Turning the Wrong Way brings forward a sensational aura and a profound, catchy chorus, with Chris’ guitar sounding heavier than hell, absolutely in line with all the darkness and agony found in the song’s lyrics. And finally, we have Together We Can Move the Sun, the most introspective and passionate of all songs, with Blaze’s strong voice being flawlessly complemented by the female vocal parts. Blaze and his crew offer us all eight minutes of a touching ballad, showcasing classy guitar lines, inspiring lyrics and an enigmatic (and extremely climatic) conclusion, building a sensational expectation for the third and final installment of the story of William Black, and in the end we all understand what has to happen in part three. William Black must… DIE!

Despite being avid for the conclusion of Blaze’s futuristic adventure, I’m more than happy to wait for it listening to both Infinite Entanglement and Endure And Survive in a row, savoring each and every line declaimed by the Messiah in those two albums. His official Facebook page is probably the best place to keep updated with all advancements in the recording of the next album and to know when he’ll be crushing your city with his amazing metal, and in order to put your hands on the second part of this kick-ass trilogy simply visit his official webstore, iTunes, Amazon or Discogs. Only Blaze knows the destiny of the dauntless voyager William Christopher Black, if he will live or die, or even if his entire life was real, and that marvelous uncertainty created by Blaze is the main ingredient that makes Endure And Survive (as well as Infinite Entanglement) stand out beautifully in contemporary heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Endure and Survive, Blood, Remember, The World Is Turning the Wrong Way and Together We Can Move the Sun.

Worst moments of the album: None. The whole album is awesome.

Released in 2017 Blaze Bayley Recordings

Track listing
1. Endure and Survive 4:27
2. Escape Velocity 3:27
3. Blood 4:41
4. Eating Lies 4:48
5. Destroyer 4:30
6. Dawn of the Dead Son 5:19
7. Remember 3:58
8. Fight Back 3:25
9. The World Is Turning the Wrong Way 4:35
10. Together We Can Move the Sun 8:14

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums

Guest musicians
Corvin Bahn – accordion
Anne Bakker – violin, backing vocals
Thomas Zwijsen – acoustic guitars
Liz Owen, Melissa Adams, Joanne Kay Robinson & Luke Appleton – backing vocals
Michelle Sciarrotta – backing vocals, acoustic guitars, narration
Rob Toogood – backing vocals, narration
Aine Brewer – narration

Album Review – Falls of Rauros / Vigilance Perennial (2017)

Feel embraced by the Black and Folk Metal thoroughly crafted by this American quartet, ranging from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion.

Rating4

nvp055-coverTheir name comes from one of my favorite books of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, inspired by the great falls of River Anduin beneath Nen Hithoel, where the river fell from Emyn Muil to the wetland of Nindalf. Their music, a fusion of Black and Folk Metal with several other elements from distinct genres of music, ranges from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion. I’m talking about Falls of Rauros, an extremely talented quartet hailing from the city of Portland, Maine, in the United States, who are releasing their fourth full-length album titled Vigilance Perennial, for the delight of fans of complex and atmospheric music.

Since their inception in 2005 the band has been in a constant state of evolution in their career, with their music flowing organically and increasing in intensity with each of their releases. Featuring an impactful artwork by Sólfjall Design, Vigilance Perennial offers the listener five unique compositions that not only represent the core essence of Falls of Rauros, but that will also take you on a journey of creativity and discovery together with the four members of this idiosyncratic band. If you truly open your mind to the music found in Vigilance Perennial, the entire album will probably become a constant part of your daily music playlist without a shadow of a doubt.

Smooth guitar lines by Jordan and Aaron kick off the opening track, White Granite, being gradually accompanied by Evan on bass and Ray on drums, before Jordan begins firing some hellish gnarls completing the band’s aforementioned fusion of Folk and Black Metal, in this case nicely complemented by subtle hints of Doom Metal. You’ll be travelling through serene fields and harsher landscapes with the band in this full-bodied composition, elevating your emotions and senses before the second aria of the album, Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes, continues to guide you through Falls of Rauros’ whimsical journey. Slow beats and soulful guitars dictate the rhythm in the song’s gentle beginning, but it’s after around three minutes that things get more flammable with their dark and melodic Folk Metal exploding once again, with Jordan growling in a very somber way while Evan and Ray add a lot of progressiveness and epicness to the sonority.

The instrumental piece Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains showcases two minutes of tranquil guitar lines and a pleasant atmosphere, preparing our ears and souls for the dense and multilayered composition that will certainly blast the minds of fans of the genre entitled Arrow & Kiln, where the band fires heavy and aggressive sounds from the very beginning, with Jordan sounding more menacing and demonic than before. Moreover, Ray has an amazing performance on drums with both his Black Metal blast beats and his more rhythmic and progressive beats, helping the other members to constantly alternate between calm instrumental passages and piercing folk sounds powerfully. And closing the album Falls of Rauros offer us all another extreme music extravaganza named Impermanence Streakt Through Marble, a very harmonious and exciting tune where all band members deliver top-notch Folk and Black Metal through their sharp instruments. The song gets remarkably heavy at times, especially halfway through it, with the riffs by Jordan and Aaron and the precise drumming by Ray creating a darkened ambience perfect for the harsh growls by Jordan to sound even stronger.

If you’re ready to tame the unrestrained waters of Falls of Rauros, simply go check their Facebook page for more details on their career, tour dates and future plans. And there are so many different places where you can grab your copy of Vigilance Perennial I might have missed one or two from my list, as you can buy the album at the Falls of Rauros’ BandCamp page, at the Nordvis Produktion’s BandCamp page or webstore (in CD or LP format), at the Bindrune Recordings’ webstore also in CD or LP format, as well as on iTunes or Amazon. Feel embraced by the beautiful extreme music crafted by Falls of Rauros, and let your emotions flow to the sound of their distinguished creations.

Best moments of the album: Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes and Arrow & Kiln.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bindrune Recordings/Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. White Granite 10:11
2. Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes 9:30
3. Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains 2:17
4. Arrow & Kiln 12:02
5. Impermanence Streakt Through Marble 10:17

Band members
Jordan – vocals, guitar
Aaron – guitar, vocals
Evan – bass
Ray – drums

Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio Promo Hour Of The Day – From Monday To Friday @ 8pm GMT

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FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8pm GMT, one of our kick-ass partners, Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, broadcasting directly from London, England, will blast the best of underground metal music reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose during the PROMO HOUR OF THE DAY!

So remember, FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8PM GMT tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to get your daily shot of the cream of the underground metal music crop, from Hard Rock to Black Metal, from Folk Metal to Thrash Metal, from Doom Metal to Metalcore, and so on! You’ll have the unique pleasure of listening to the superb music by bands like Charm Designer, Neverworld, Majesty Of Revival, Nervosa, False Coda, Atonismen, Diabolizer, The Silent Rage, Terrifier, Gaerea, and tons of other amazing metal acts from all over the world!

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