Metal Chick of the Month – Annick Giroux

Emmène-moi dans ton monde… De lumière et d’ombre… Emmène-moi dans ton monde… Car ma nuit est longue…

Born in May 1986 in Orléans, a suburb of Canada’s national capital Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, our metal chick of the month of June is much more than just your average metalhead. Not only she’s the lead singer for Montreal-based Heavy/Doom Metal band Cauchemar, but she’s also a bass player, the author of a fantastic book entitled “Hellbent for Cooking: The Heavy Metal Cookbook”, writer for UK’s Iron Fist magazine and for Morbid Tales fanzine, one of the promoters of the now defunct Wings of Metal festival in Montreal, and the co-founder of Temple of Mystery Records, not to mention she’s also a graphic designer who has already worked with the iconic Skyclad and countless underground bands. This might look overkill for any regular person, but not for the unstoppable Canadian superwoman Annick Giroux. Having said that, do you have what it takes to join Annick in her quest for metal music, good food and arts in general?

Annick’s life in metal and graphic design actually started when she was still a very young girl, at the age of 10, when her father brought home a floppy disk containing Paint Shop Pro 4.0, which she used with another software called Visual Page to make a primitive website about her favorite cartoon character. Almost at the same time, when she was 11 or 12 years old, she became pen-pals with a Vietnamese girl living in Belgium, who sent her some cassettes with the albums by Japanese Power Metal institution X-Japan. Annick immediately fell in love for their music, and that turned into an obsession to her to the point she even created an X-Japan fan site before eventually becoming a full metalhead. After that first contact with X-Japan, she started to properly explore the world of heavy music and to develop a deep passion for what she likes to call “Ancient Metal” (which includes Doom, Black, Speed, Thrash and NWOBHM), with bands such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Pagan Altar, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Anvil, Exciter, Mercyful Fate, Destruction, Sacrifice and Celtic Frost, among many, many others, changing the way she used to see music. She then started playing bass, joined a few different bands, designed their logos, demo layouts and flyers, ran the Morbid Tales fanzine for six issues, and even DJ’d weekly at a traditional Montreal metal/punk pub named Katacombes.

Owner of a potent voice, Annick founded the French-Canadian metal institution Cauchemar back in 2007 together with guitarist François Patry originally as a recording project, as performing live didn’t really appeal to them. Still, Cauchemar released in 2010 the five-track EP La Vierge Noire (which means “the black virgin” in English) and played live three Canadian shows before putting the band on hold in 2011 and embarking on an eighteen-month trip around the world. However, that plan lasted only until a friend of the band from Chile invited them to play in the country with local musicians, igniting their desire to keep the band alive and kicking and, consequently, taking them to the most distinct places like Peru, Japan, India and Thailand. All material they wrote during that insane trip ended up on their debut full-length album, entitled Tenebrario, released in 2013, and Annick even said in one of her interviews that trip was the richest and most inspiring experience of her life, as she had the unique pleasure of getting to know many different cultures, metal scenes, local cuisines, religions and social classes.

After Tenebrario, Cauchemar also released another full-length album, titled Chapelle Ardente (or “burning chapel” in English), in 2016, and as you might have already noticed Annick sings all songs from Cauchemar entirely in French, giving their music an extra touch of mysticism, delicacy and occultism. By the way, the name of the band, wihich means “nightmare” in English, stems from a series of violent nightmares Annick used to suffer, some described exactly like sleep paralysis. “I actually did some research into this in the past as some of my nightmares were rather troubling. In fact, the first meaning of the name Cauchemar, or cauquemaire, loosely translates to ‘ghost pressing down’, which surely derives from those very sleep paralyses. But I’m unsure if that’s what I experienced, I’ve been having dreams about dying ever since I was a child,” mentioned Annick in one of her interviews. If you want to feel that nightmare-sih vibe flowing from the music by Cauchemar and especially from Annick’s vocals, you should definitely take a listen at songs like Étoile D’Argent, Trois Mondes, Comme Un Poignard, Tête de Mort, and Le Fantôme, as well as several live performances by the band such as at the Nuclear War Now! Festival V in 2016, playing the song Sepolta Viva at the Magog, in Sherbrooke, in 2014 and the song L’Appel at Cafe Deckuf in Ottawa in 2013, and playing cover versions for Black Sabbath’s The Wizard at Montreal is Doomed in 2010 and Fleetwood Mac’s Green Manalishi in Montreal in 2016.

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Apart from her career with Cauchemar, you can also enjoy her bass punches and vocal lines in several other bands and projects from different parts of the world. For instance, in 2008 she played bass for Japanese Black/Thrash Metal act Barbatos during their live concerts, which ended up having Annick as their bass player in the 2008 Barbatos/Bastardator split live album Live in Montreal; you can also see her playing keyboards (yes, she can also play keyboards) on the introduction from the brand new album Destiny Calls, by Finnish Heavy/Speed Metal band Chevalier; and playing synths and/or doing female vocals on the songs Nordkarpatenland, Keď Svetlonosi Započnú V Močariskách Nazeleno Svícit, Nedlho Po Púlnoci Opacha Sa Doplazila Z Dzíry, and V Rujnovej Samote Pocichu Dumá Lovecký Zámek Zvlčilého Grófa, all from the album Nordkarpatenland, released in 2017 by Slovakian Black Metal horde Malokarpatan.

As you can see, Annick has already been involved in very distinct projects and bands in her career so far, and if you include in that mix her work as a graphic designer, then the list of bands and styles grows considerably. Having obtained a degree in Graphic Design before moving to Montreal with her then boyfriend (and now husband) François Patry, she mentioned in an interview that she actually earns a living as a freelance graphic designer, and as the co-owner of the aforementioned Temple of Mystery Records since 2016 she said she designs absolutely everything for the label’s releases. Furthermore, Annick said she has trouble listening to an album if the artwork is ugly, tasteless or uninspired, as in her opinion metal and graphic design have always been in symbiosis for her. Apart from the album design for Cauchemar’s Tenebrario and the artwork for their Chapelle Ardente album, you can also find Annick’s lines, colors and designs in the albums by tons of excellent underground bands like Anatomia, Venin, Night Demon, Metal Grave, Diabolic Force, Chevalier and Disforterror, just to name a few. For example, how not to enjoy the artwork she provided for the 2013 album Necheshirion, by Canadian Black Metal act Gevurah? When you listen to the music, it matches perfectly with the cryptic art by Annick, proving her point that the cover art is and will always be a crucial part of a metal album.

Despite being a talented musician and graphic designer, let’s say the metal community got to know Annick a lot better mainly due to her book entitled “Hellbent for Cooking: The Heavy Metal Cookbook”, which she signed as Annick “The Morbid Chef” Giroux, featuring a varied menu of over a hundred recipes from thirty countries, including Yorkshire Pudding from England, Beer Pizza Crust from Germany, Spaghetti Barracuda from Italy, Fårikål from Norway, Country Lamb Exohiko from Greece, Churrasco from Brazil, and Mushroom Steak à la Jack Daniel’s from the United States, among numerous other appetizer, breakfast, lunch, dinner, vegetarian, seafood, dessert and drink recipes, all with contributions by worldwide famous musicians from metal bands like Accept, Gwar, Tankard, Anthrax, Electric Wizard, Rotting Christ, Sepultura, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, Doro, U.D.O., Obituary, Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Uriah Heep, Kreator, Nuclear Assault, and a lot of underground acts. In the beginning, Hellbent for Cooking was just a section of the 6th edition of her Morbid Tales fanzine released in 2009, containing only around 20 recipes. However, the idea (originally conceived in 2007) for a metal cookbook by Annick became a reality when her editor Ian Christe picked up the 2009 fanzine and asked her if she was interested in having all recipes published as a book. Then for the pro-looking color cookbook itself that was released by Bazillion Points her deadline was only six months, and she took it seriously by dedicating herself entirely to research, writing, cooking, photographing and laying out the recipe pages. Our dauntless singer, bassist and chef said she contacted about 400 bands in total, and that she could never imagine that bands like Sepultura or Mayhem would actually respond to her. She even ended up discovering new bands during her research period, as for example a Death/Thrash Metal band from Pakistan named Dusk. Moreover, as an avid reader, Annick recommends apart from her own book a few other interesting Bazillion Points publications like Swedish Death Metal, by Daniel Ekeroth, Murder in the Front Row, by Harald Oimoen and Brian Lew, and and Only Death Is Real, by Tom Gabriel Fischer with Martin Eric Ain.

It was after her trip to different parts of the world, especially when she was in Europe and was able to enjoy many underground metal fests, that she returned to Montreal with the idea of organizing a festival of her own, naming it Wings of Metal. She said that as there was no such thing as an underground metal festival mixing styles in Canada, her idea was to do it in the European spirit with a lot of bands from overseas, focusing on the quality of sound and experience, and although the festival only lasted for four editions she’s still proud of her accomplishment. Known as somewhat of an archaeologist of obscure Canadian metal, Annick said that in her opinion Canadian metal often has a touch of something eccentric, mentioning renowned bands like Rush and Voivod as being uniquely bizarre, while other like Slaughter and Exciter are extremely violent, also mentioning that Montreal hosted the first ever international metal festival in North America, named World War III Festival, in 1985, featuring Voivod, Destruction, Celtic Frost, Possessed and Nasty Savage. In addition, when asked about the apparent division between Anglo-Canadians and French-Canadians in Montreal, Annick said she was not even aware of which local Anglophone bands were around, since they have their own shows and separate venues. However, she said that there’s no animosity between those two fronts, it’s just that people tend to stay in their own neighborhoods and feel more comfortable listening to music in their first languages. Well, it doesn’t actually matter if you’re an Anglo-Canadian, a French-Canadian or a complete foreigner to Montreal, whenever visiting the city try to stay updated about all metal concerts going on because, you know, you might be able to witness nightmares in the form of old school Doom Metal spearheaded by our multi-talented Annick Giroux.

Annick Giroux’s Official Instagram
Cauchemar’s Official Facebook page
Cauchemar’s Official BandCamp

“Canadian metal often has a touch of something eccentric. Being so far removed from the traditional music centres like New York City, Chicago, and LA made Canadian bands want to work even harder in developing something exceptional that could bring attention to them.” – Annick Giroux

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Album Review – Be Under Arms / Red Wave Is Coming (2019)

A red wave of first-class Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore is coming to crush your senses, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

It’s time for the Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore squad known as Be Under Arms to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their razor-edged and modern sonority in Red Wave Is Coming, their fourth full-length effort and an amazing follow-up to their previous releases, those being Let Shots Will Be Your Music (2014), Doomed to Life (2016), and more recently Evil Tales Of The Northern Country (2017). If you have never heard of Be Under Arms before, get ready to be stunned by the uniqueness of their music, instantly feeling the urge to join their army of unstoppable metal insurgents.

Combining Metalcore with Groove and Melodic Death Metal since their inception in 2013, this Moscow-based unity now comprised of the dynamic duo Anna “White Queen” Logacheva and Vladimir “Szandor” Nasonov on vocals, Stanislav Shtrih on the guitar, Dmitriy Kashirin on bass and Denis “John Doe” Vinitskiy on drums is on absolute fire in Red Wave Is Coming, always loyal to their foundations and still presenting their trademark military attire, dystopian atmosphere and austere lyrics about controversial social topics. Featuring a classic, rebellious album art by Estonian designer Darius Alas (Midiankai Arts), Red Wave Is Coming is not only a highly recommended album for admirers of modern metal music, but it also cements the band’s name as one of the biggest new exponents of the scene.

Bizarre, captivating sounds suddenly morph into a darkened intro entitled The Tsar, led by Stanislav’s metallic riffs, sounding not only slow and creepy, but also entirely sung in Russian by both Anna and Vladimir to give it a rawer taste, before all explodes into the band’s modernized Melodic Death and Groove Metal in the title-track Red Wave Is Coming, where Denis and Dmitriy smash their respective instruments nonstop. Furthermore, pay good attention to the song’s acid lyrics dealing with the most obscure side effects of having too much power (“I feel how darkness grows around me / This crown has become my burden, a sign that I’m not free / It presses like a crown of thorns / And blood pours from my eyes / All this gold and beauty / Such a good disguise”). And Rasstrel, another song fully sung in their mother tongue, is in my opinion one of the most fun tracks of the album showcasing amazing performances by all band members, in special Anna and Vladimir, not to mention it’s simply perfect for jumping up and down to the crushing and thunderous riffs and punches by both Stanislav and Dmitriy.

The Untouchables is another classic tune by Be Under Arms, alternating between faster and more aggressive passages and more melodic, headbanging moments, keeping the album at a high level of electricity, whereas Road to the Scaffold is a lot more introspective and obscure, almost sounding like a dark ballad, with Anna and Vladimir attacking us all with both their clean vocals and harsh roars while Denis add a touch of Doom Metal to the musicality with his beats. Then we have another one of my favorites, the violent No-Go Zone, bringing that classic Be Under Arms sounding closer to all of their previous releases, with Stanislav being ruthless with his scorching riffs while Dmitriy’s bass sounds as hammering as it can be. In other words, this is a top-notch warlike-inspired Groove Metal composition that will please all fans of the band without a shadow of a doubt, while New Crusader is a mid-tempo song that blends the heaviest elements from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal, being perfect for slamming into the circle pit while Denis dictates its rebellious rhythm.

Putting the pedal to the metal those Russian metallers deliver the frantic and visceral Breathe This, where Stanislav, Dmitriy and Denis generate a flawless atmosphere for Anna and Vladimir to growl and gnarl like two rabid beasts, followed by The Chosen One and its hypnotizing rhythm where Anna’s vocals truly represent her “White Queen” monicker, while Vladimir is responsible for bringing darkness to the music with his deep roars. Slightly different from their usual sound, which doesn’t mean it’s a bad song, this interesting tune would have worked better if a little shorter, I might say. Anyway, back to a more enraged sonority, the band offers us the insanely heavy The Death Instinct, presenting an amazing balance between melody and sheer aggression, and with its guitars and drums sounding bestial from start to finish for our total delight while Anna growls the song’s lyrics manically (“You are my brothers and I bear the burden for you / And every day I lift a Sisyphus stone / For prosperity but not for conviction / Hoping for the future without pain”), building an instant connection with the somber Bloody Shores, where acoustic guitars are intertwined with electrified and vile tones, resulting in a multi-layered creation by Be Under Arms that puts a melancholic and mesmerizing ending to the album.

In summary, as aforementioned Red Wave Is Coming (available for a full listen on Spotify) is undoubtedly a fantastic entrance door to the world of Be Under Arms if you know nothing about those Russian metalheads yet. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and VKontakte, listen to more of their music on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and purchase your copy of such entertaining album from Be Under Arms’ own BandCamp page or webstore (in digibook format or digibook + “Helmet” shirt combo), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. As the destructive red wave by Be Under Arms approaches, there’s nothing better than a good dosage of their ass-kicking Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal to serve as the soundtrack to the apocalypse, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: Rasstrel, No-Go Zone and The Death Instinct.

Worst moments of the album: The Chosen One.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Tsar 2:45
2. Red Wave Is Coming 4:44
3. Rasstrel 3:55
4. The Untouchables 4:19
5. Road to the Scaffold 5:11
6. No-Go Zone 3:58
7. New Crusader 4:26
8. Breathe This 3:53
9. The Chosen One 4:04
10. The Death Instinct 3:56
11. Bloody Shores 3:24

Band members
Anna “White Queen” Logacheva – vocals
Vladimir “Szandor” Nasonov – vocals
Stanislav Shtrih – guitar
Dmitriy Kashirin – bass
Denis “John Doe” Vinitskiy – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Kayla Dixon

Death falls so heavy on my soul… Death falls so heavy, makes me moan…

Things are about to get doomed, heavy and extremely sexy here at The Headbanging Moose with our metal chick of the month of May. Trained in classical, jazz and musical theatre vocals, as well as acting and dance, the talented and stunning Kayla Dixon, frontwoman for Doom Metal institution Witch Mountain and for Alternative Metal outfit Dress the Dead, is among us to prove once again that black girls do have a place in the world of heavy music, and she has been doing that in great fashion with her beyond powerful vocals since joining Witch Mountain in 2015. Hence, after listening to Kayla singing for the very first time you’ll get absolutely addicted to her voice and performance, no doubt about that, therefore going after everything she has already recorded in her career, it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not.

Born on March 20, 1995 in Glendale, California and raised between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland (as you can see, she moved a lot when she was a kid), Kayla has been singing since the age of five, joining a Jazz band at the age of 13, when she began to hone her vocal skills and discovered her passion for performing. Having studied ballet, modern and contemporary techniques at the American Dance Institute, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Maryland Youth Ballet, among others, not to mention she’s a trained actor of Stanislavski and Meisner techniques (which contributed to her deep understanding of the importance of storytelling on stage), Kayla has already participated in several projects in her career, such as productions at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Levine Music, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, also making an appearance in in the Sundance award winning movie I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, on Netflix, as well as in the TV series Portlandia, Grimm and Outlaw. In addition, she said in one of her interviews she doesn’t sit at a keyboard or think about intervals or scales, unless she’s writing harmonies. She usually writes the melody first, thinking about “what words match this melody and how can I put this melody into words?”

Kayla got her first contact with heavy music during her teens due to her sisters, who used to listen to bands like Marilyn Manson, Tool and Nine Inch Nails, and she fell in love for that type of music. After straying away from that for a while, she said it was when she was in the ninth grade that she rediscovered all those bands, later turning her attention to other heavier and more complex bands such as Meshuggah. She mentioned in one of her interviews that it was the intensity of metal music that really caught her attention at first, as she feels she can express all her emotions and feelings through metal. In addition, she also said that the energy coming from the audience while you’re on stage is also what makes heavy music so special for her.

Regarding her career with both Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, everything started back in 2015 when Kayla, who had recently discovered the music by Witch Mountain, saw on their Facebook page they were auditioning for a new vocalist after the departure in 2014 of the amazing Uta Plotkin, prior to the release of the album Mobile of Angels. She then decided to take a shot at that by submitting a video audition, admitting she was a little nervous as she loved Uta’s lyrics and the vocal melodies, but fortunately for all of us fans of rock and metal Kayla became the band’s new frontwoman (and let’s not forget she was only 19 years old at the time). Four years later, this excellent Portland, Oregon-based band formed back in 1997 released their first full-length album with Kayla on vocals, self-titled Witch Mountain (which by the way she was responsible for all lyrics), not to mention their 2016 single Burn You Down, impressing not only the band’s diehard fans with her potent voice and her ability to easily switch between clean and harsh vocals,  but also her own band members. “When she laid down a scratch track in the studio and was going back and forth between the cleans and the dirties, our producer Billy and us were just sitting there laughing with joy,” recalls guitarist Rob Wrong. “For her that was just a scratch track, and we’re just like ‘most people in the world can’t do this.’ For Dixon, the possibility to cross styles and alternate between clean and screaming vocals is ‘a breath of fresh air.’”

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Then in 2018, one year after parting ways with former The Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving, Dress the Dead announced a new lineup with our goddess Kayla on vocals in an unexpected move by many. “A mutual friend reached out to me about Dress the Dead.  One of my first thoughts was, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready or even at an appropriate talent level to be replacing someone like Peter Dolving for these guys.’  I’d battled with the idea in my head for several months before finally reaching out.  I had listened to and loved 1969, but what really hit me hard was when I heard the other songs that are still unreleased that they sent me.  I had no idea how musically diverse this band would turn out to be,” said Kayla about joining her second major band, but as what happened with Witch Mountain her vocals matched Dress the Dead’s music flawlessly, as you can enjoy in the excellent songs 1969, There Goes The Sun and Promises & Kisses. In addition to that, just to give you an idea of how healthy her relationship with her new bandmates is, take a look at this fun YouTube video titled “Dress The Dead – Crappy Comments”, where Kayla and the rest of the band read and discuss about the most ridiculous comments they received from fans via social media.

Our hardcore vegan (yes, she’s a vegan) had also been involved with several other bands and projects before joining Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, each one offering Kayla a chance to showcase all her highly developed vocal skills. For instance, she was (apparently) the vocalist for a Cleveland, Ohio-based Groove/Death Metal band named Demons Within during an unknown period of time, and the lead singer for Sacramento, California-based Power Metal act Helion Prime from 2016 until 2017, with whom she recorded the sensational single Remnants of Stars, in 2017. Apart from that, she also started lending her unique voice now in 2019 to a British/Romanian Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band named Clouds during some of their live performances, and she also appeared as a guest vocalist in the song Buried In Sand, from Clouds’ 2018 release Dor – Bonus Album;  in the electrifying title-track Terminal, from the 2017 album Terminal, by British Melodic Progressive Metal band Divinity Compromised; and more recently in Living Light, from the 2019 album Divided by Darkness, by Phoenix, Arizona-based Doom Metal act Spirit Adrift, to be released later this month.

Touring is always one of the most difficult and demanding tasks in the life of a musician, and as a talented vocalist that Kayla is she obviously warms up her voice (and mind) properly before going on stage, sometimes meditating for a few minutes to reach her desired state of mind prior to performing. As a matter of fact, Kayla mentioned that meditation was one of the main activities she discovered through the years to fight her childhood traumas, to work on her spirituality and to remain strong when facing any type of adversity. She also said that, to keep her body and mind healthy while touring with Witch Mountain, who by the way have a very aggressive touring agenda, she tries to eat well and work out whenever she can, avoiding things like partying and drinking. Even with all those precautions to stay in shape, Kayla said that due to her incendiary performances each show ends up being fairly exhausting for her but energizing at the same time, saying it’s another form of “meditation” for her. “Music is a way for me to express that negativity and get it out. There’s also a positivity about it. So, it’s very energizing. Music is what makes me happy and I believe it is my life’s purpose,” commented Kayla, and if you take into account the fact that when she’s not on tour she can be giving vocal lessons or acting (albeit she hasn’t being doing a lot of that lately due to her busy schedule), it’s the utmost proof she was born to be an artist.

As curious as this might sound, Kayla always mentions in her interviews that she considers herself an introvert, although she’s not actually afraid of talking to people. Despite having introverted tendencies, she confronts that inner fear by working really hard on it, saying that fear doesn’t have to be who she really is or her story. And even more curious than that, she mentioned that one thing she loves doing for relaxation and fun is watching horror movies, with her favorite one being the 1982 cult movie Poltergeist and also mentioning Suspiria as another movie she enjoyed a lot (I just don’t know if she’s talking about the 1977 original one or the 2018 version). She said Poltergeist really freaked her out, that it was extremely scary in her opinion, so how can this be a relaxing activity, right? Anyway, still talking about ghosts and paranormal activities, she said she had a few paranormal experiences in her life, as her mother was really into that kind of thing and would tell her about ghosts she saw. She mentioned that when she was seven years old she was sitting in the living room around Christmas time watching the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and when she went to her room there was this white figure of an old man standing. In addition, her dad, who’s by the way a pastor, also claims he’s seen a ghost in his church, which used to be an old-fashioned one-room school house back in the 1900’s, describing the appearance of the ghost in great detail. If ghosts truly exist or not, no one knows for sure, but if Kayla channels those encounters and experiences into her music, and we all know the unknown has always been a magnificent inspiration for all genres and subgenres of heavy music, we can rest assured she’ll keep providing us first-class rock and metal for decades to come.

Kayla Dixon’s Official Facebook page
Kayla Dixon’s Official Instagram
Kayla Dixon’s Official Twitter
Kayla Dixon’s Official YouTube channel
Witch Mountain’s Official Facebook page
Witch Mountain’s Official Instagram
Witch Mountain’s Official Twitter
Witch Mountain’s Official BandCamp page
Dress the Dead’s Official Facebook page
Dress the Dead’s Official Instagram

“When I get on stage, I lose control and there’s not much I can do about that.” – Kayla Dixon

Album Review – Orthostat / Monolith Of Time (2019)

A heavy-as-hell album ranging from slow and doom-ish parts to infernal blast beats, proving once again the underground Death Metal scene in Brazil is a lot more interesting than you might think.

Forged in the year of 2015 in the fires of Jaraguá Do Sul, a city located in the north of the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, Death Metal squad Orthostat is unleashing upon humanity their debut full-length opus, entitled Monolith Of Time, a heavy-as-hell album ranging from slow and doom-ish parts to infernal blast beats, and a natural follow-up to their 2016 demo Into the Orthostat. Comprised of David Lago on vocals and guitars, Rudolph Hille also on the guitar and Eduardo Rochinski on bass (all supported by session drummer Thiago Nogueira), Orthostat are sending a solid statement to all fans of old school Death Metal with their new album, proving once again Brazil is and will always be an excellent source of underground metal music no matter which part of the country you visit.

Recorded by David Lago at HellFrost Studio, in Brazil, produced and engineered by David Lago and Thiago Nogueira, and Mixed and Mastered by Thiago Nogueira, Monolith Of Time will provide your ears a feast of pulverizing and highly technical sounds, with its lyrics dealing with themes related to ancient civilizations, their culture and their wars, all enfolded by a cryptic artwork by illustrator and storyteller Carlos Bercini. In other words, Orthostat offer in Monolith Of Time everything a metalhead can ask for in an album of Death Metal, and after hitting play you better get ready to have your skull crushed by this talented and ruthless horde of Brazilian musicians.

In the opening track, entitled Ambaxtoi, ominous sounds grow in intensity while desperate background vociferations make the whole atmosphere dense, disturbing and grim in great fashion, but after two and a half minutes the music morphs into sheer Death Metal for our total delectation. After such powerful start we’re treated to Qetesh, a lesson in gruesome and vile Death Metal by Orthostat where Thiago crushes his drums manically while David and Rudolph make sure our skin burns with their scorching riffs, not to mention the song’s uncanny lyrics (“Oh, Qetesh, deity of intercourse / Stream thy heat on us / Bring the human instinct forth / The breeding mild / The species thrive / Surviving the wild”); followed by Eridu, another classic and putrid Death Metal extravaganza spearheaded by the pulverizing riffs by the band’s guitar duo, with David taking his growling to deeper and deeper lands while Eduardo doesn’t stop smashing his bass chords violently. And it seems that their sonic havoc has no time to end, with all band member firing absolute fury and aggression in Incitatus, showcasing a very classic sonority the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under where not only the instrumental pieces are extremely well executed, but the vocals by David are also as visceral as they can be.

Then we have over six minutes of brutal sounds in Baetylus, with its lyricis perfectly representing what can be called “dark poetry” (“A large flint / Coned shaped obelisk / Wears the wool / Garbed deity / Pour the oil / Make the pebble shine / Hefty boulder / Stone divine”), and with the music ending with a sick guitar solo as the icing on the cake. If you’re a fan of the more straightforward sound by Cannibal Corpse, but with huge dosages of complexity added to the sound of each instrument, you’ll love The Will of Ningirsu, offering the listener nonstop action by the entire band with highlights to David, Rudolph and Eduardo’s razor-edged strings. Full of breaks and variations, Tezcatlipoca is a headbanging tune where your skull will be shattered by the unrelenting drums by Thomas, presenting over nine minutes of scorching riffs, pulverizing beats and rumbling bass lines. Furthermore, after a phantasmagorical break halfway through it, the band’s steamroller of Death Metal returns in full force to destroy your senses, working as their “coup de grâce”. And the song that carries the name of the band, Orthostat, closes the album by bringing forward a fusion of Death and Doom Metal recommended for fans of truly dark music, evolving into another sonic demolition boosted by the demonic guitar riffs and solos by Eduardo and Rudolph.

This precious gem of old school Death Metal from the Brazilian underground scene can be better appreciated in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but if you want to show your true support to Orthostat don’t forget to grab your copy of Monolith Of Time from their own BandCamp page, as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. In a nutshell, if you love pure, old school Death Metal, you must give Orthostat’s debut album a listen without a shadow of a doubt. And do you want to know why? Because they crush, as simple (and as Death Metal) as that.

Best moments of the album: Qetesh, Incitatus and The Will of Ningirsu.

Worst moments of the album: Eridu.

Released in 2019 Sangue Frio Records

Track listing
1. Ambaxtoi 7:12
2. Qetesh 5:13
3. Eridu 4:38
4. Incitatus 5:04
5. Baetylus 6:18
6. The Will of Ningirsu 4:50
7. Tezcatlipoca 9:17
8. Orthostat 6:09

Band members
David Lago – vocals, guitars
Rudolph Hille – guitars
Eduardo Rochinski – bass

Guest musician
Thiago Nogueira – drums (session)

Album Review – Gruzja / I Iść Dalej (2019)

A raw and visceral manifestation of Black Metal overflowing dirty sex, drugs, alcohol and extreme aggression, directly from Poland into your deranged mind.

“Music against aesthetisation
Music against shopping centres
Gals, devil, railway sidings…”

From the filthy, moist and drunken basements of Poland, one of the most prolific countries in the world of underground Extreme Metal, here comes a cryptic and heavy-as-hell entity known as Gruzja (which I believe is Polish for “Georgia”), distilling their vicious, nihilistic Black Metal in their brand new opus entitled I Iść Dalej, which translates to English as “and go ahead” or “and move further”. Recorded in the summer of 2018 in Tbilisi, the capital of the country of Georgia, and mixed and mastered by HG, I Iść Dalej is an amalgamation of infernal sounds, alcohol, pus, rot, ugliness and dirty sex, perfectly representing the everyday life of the band’s mysterious members, or as in their own words, “the spirit is local, but the music – from afar. Gruzja deals with art and, consequently, it is part of a culture. A culture of violence.”

A very unique intro of wicked sounds and noises warms up our senses for an avalanche of distorted, pulverizing riffs and crushing beats in Gruzini (“Georgians”), offering us three and a half minutes of raw and vile Black Metal where the vocal lines are beyond infernal, all spiced up by the fact everything is sung in Polish, of course. Then even more phantasmagorical, disturbing and crude we have Moja Ratyzbona (“my Regensburg”), with its riffage sounding crude and old school, accompanied by the song’s Doom Metal-inspired sluggish beats, while its putrid vociferations add an extra touch of evil to the musicality (not to mention how demented the clean vocals also sound and feel), whereas in Opuść Mnie (“leave me”) we’re treated to an austere wall of Black Metal sounds with an epic vibe perfect for crushing your skull into the circle pit, with an endless amount of aggressiveness and rage flowing from all instruments, in special from its frantic beats.

Manam is another perturbing chant by Gruzja, an excellent representation of what Extreme Metal is all about in the Polish underground scene, blending the most obscure elements from Black Metal to the atmospheric and gloomy waves of Doom Metal with vocals that couldn’t sound more desperate than this; followed by Jego Głos (“his voice”), presenting some amazing nuances of Punk and Hardcore added to their core Black Metal, therefore making their music even more rebellious and potent like if the instrumental parts from Motörhead were blended with the rabid and raspy vocal lines of The Exploited. And get ready for over four minutes of visceral sounds and tones in Ilu Nas Było? (“how many of us were there?”), darkening the skies like we expect from classic Doom Metal, with the strident tone from the guitar potentializing the gruesome and demonic roars blasted by the band’s uncanny lead singer, almost vomiting the song’s Polish words in our faces. Lastly, Gruzja offer us Iść Dalej (“go ahead”), completely different form the rest of the album, feeling more like a remix version of a song than an original composition per se (or maybe it’s just an outro, who knows). It’s not bad at all, but it takes away a little of the insane and hellish atmosphere from all previous songs.

Take a listen at this disturbing and very enjoyable album of underground music in full on YouTube or on Spotify and get ready to be smashed like an insignificant insect by the unruly and deranged Gruzja, and in order to show your true support to this very interesting Polish band simply follow them on Facebook, and purchase I Iść Dalej from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp or webstore. In a nutshell, I Iść Dalej is a raw and visceral album of Black Metal overflowing sex, drugs, alcohol and an infinite amount of our good old aggression. What else can you ask for in underground extreme music, right?

Best moments of the album: Moja Ratyzbona and Opuść Mnie.

Worst moments of the album: Iść Dalej.

Released in 2019 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing
1. Gruzini 3:28
2. Moja Ratyzbona 4:18
3. Opuść Mnie 3:59
4. Manam 4:50
5. Jego Głos 3:08
6. Ilu Nas Było? 4:40
7. Iść Dalej 4:20

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Helevorn / Aamamata (2019)

Embrace darkness and melancholy to the sound of the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the underground Spanish scene.

Hailing from Palma de Mallorca (which is becoming a recurrent source of first-class metal music at The Headbanging Moose), in the Balearic Islands, Spain, the melancholic, somber and utterly melodic Gothic/Doom Metal outfit that goes by the stylish name of Helevorn (a lake in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion) returns in 2019 with their fourth full-length album and what’s perhaps their boldest and most detailed opus since their inception in 1999, the multi-layered Aamamata, leaving us absolutely stunned with its almost one hour of the finest and most elegant heavy music you can think of. Comprised of lead singer Josep Brunet, guitarists Sandro Vizcaino and Samuel Morales, bassist Guillem Morey, pianist and keyboardist Enrique Sierra, and drummer Xavi Gil, Helevorn aim at reaching new heights with Aamamata, proving melancholic doom can be just as breathtaking as any style considered faster or heavier, being highly recommended for admirers of the gloomy music by renowned acts like Draconian, Swallow The Sun and Paradise Lost.

Featuring a classy logo by Irene Serrano, a mesmerizing artwork by Gonzalo Aeneas depicting Sibyl, and Ancient Greek prophetess, and several brilliant guest musicians such as Júlia Colom and Heike Langhans (from Draconian), Aamamata, the song that Death sings every day in the Mediterranean Sea (which has become a desolate pit for human lives), goes beyond the boundaries of traditional Doom Metal, bringing elements from countless metal and non-metal styles and, therefore, offering our avid ears a unique and captivating sonority from start to finish. “We know that we are not discovering something new, but it’s how it sounds the 90’s goth-doom metal in the present times. It should be received like a piece to reborn the scene and to relate music and the decadence of Humankind through the drama of the refugees, that constantly are dying trying to escape from the hell that Western Countries put to them. We think that fans will love the new album,” said the band about their newborn spawn, and they’re more than right in stating we, fans of underground heavy music, will simply love Aamamata in its entirety.

Sandro and Samuel begin slashing their strings in the sluggish and atmospheric opening track A Sail To Sanity, urging us all to bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow in a beautiful display of classic Doom Metal where Josep growls deeply and with a lot of anguish, whereas in Goodbye, Hope the piano and keys by Enrique bring a touch of delicacy and melancholy to the musicality, while Xavi pounds his drums in the most damned way possible, being tailored for fans of somber and heavy-as-hell doom. And in Blackened Waves, led by Gulliem’s metallic bass lines and Enrique’s ethereal keys, we’re treated to a dense and enfolding sound enhanced by cryptic lyrics that exhale poetry and arcane feelings (“Rolling by, weary, uneven planes / A darkness lurks / Slowly, I am given to the mystery / I am drawn into its depths / A wall of, formidable strength / The power is palpable”).

However, it’s in Aurora, a hypnotizing voyage through the most obscure realms of Doom Metal, that Helevorn position themselves as one of the most interesting names of the current Spanish scene, with the music starting in a compelling way with the gorgeous vocals by guest Júlia Colom together with the eccentric sounds of the bouzouki and bağlama by Jaume Compte, bringing an extra dosage of finesse to the music, not to mention its classic riffs and pleasant pace. Furthermore, this flawless aria is dedicated to all of those who have fallen by executions and political persecution during the fascist coup in Spain in 1936, and are still missing, buried in hundreds of unmarked mass graves, but is especially dedicated to Aurora Picornell, a freedom fighter who stood up for liberty and civil rights, and was executed on January 5, 1937 (more than 80 years after her death, her body has not yet been found). If that doesn’t touch your soul, I honestly don’t know what would. Anyway, drinking from the same fountain as Paradise Lost and Draconian, Helevorn deliver Forgotten Fields, a song that feels like it was written in the 90’s with Josep once again doing an amazing job with both his harsh growls and clean vocals, followed by the serene Nostrum Mare (Et deixo un pont de mar blava), featuring spoken parts by (in order of appearance) Vassilis Mazaris (Greek), Diane Camenzuli (Maltese), Joan Oliver (Spanish), Sara Husein El Ahmed (Arabic), Pablo Ferrarese (Italian), Isabelle Pereira (French), Élide Terrón and Felip Palou (Catalan), and Corin Solo Fogel (Hebraic), while the band makes sure the atmosphere remains vibrant and obscure throughout the entire song, in special the piano notes by Enrique and the metallic riffs by the band’s guitar duo.

Once Upon a War is another old school composition showcasing slow and steady drums, low-tuned bass punches intertwined with piano notes, and a very powerful vocal performance by Josep deeply vociferating the song’s acid lyrics (“A woman taken from home / To appease the warlords’ thirst / The children give themselves up / What must be done to save their own innocence? / Innocents!”), all embraced by Sandro’s and Samuel’s crisp riffs and solos, before the over 8 minutes of mesmerizing, doomed music found in the following tune, entitled The Path to Puya, majestically penetrates deep inside your mind, with the stunning guest vocalist Heike Langhans forming a fantastic dynamic duo with Josep, while guest Pedro Zubiri (from Blind Panic) fires a soulful guitar solo for our total delight, and that hypnotizing and breathtaking vibe goes on until the song’s obscure finale. And lastly, Helevorn bring forward the gentle La Sibil-la, a Catalan medieval song dated from the 10th century, with the band’s version being very delicate and dense, switching from purely acoustic passages to the traditional heaviness of Doom Metal, providing a superb ending for a grandiose album of dark and mournful metal music.

You can find Aamamata available for a full listen on YouTube, and purchase your copy of such awesome album from the band’s official BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from the Solitude Productions webstore (in regular CD or Digipak format), from iTunes, from Amazon or from Discogs. Furthermore, don’t forget to show your utmost support to those talented Spaniards by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by listening to their music on Spotify. Helevorn elevated not only the quality and potency of their already refined Doom Metal in Aamamata, but the spirits of all of those who admire the fusion of good heavy music with a strong background message or meaning. And that, my dear metalheads, is the true essence of heavy music and everything we should always look for when in pursuit of new or unique names in the underground metal scene like Helevorn.

Best moments of the album: A Sail To Sanity, Blackened Waves, Aurora and The Path to Puya.

Worst moments of the album: Forgotten Fields.

Released in 2019 Solitude Productions/BadMoodMan Music

Track listing
1. A Sail To Sanity 5:25
2. Goodbye, Hope 5:58
3. Blackened Waves 5:26
4. Aurora 7:24
5. Forgotten Fields 5:44
6. Nostrum Mare (Et deixo un pont de mar blava) 7:28
7. Once Upon a War 5:55
8. The Path to Puya 8:38
9. La Sibil-la 5:05

Band members
Josep Brunet – vocals
Sandro Vizcaino – guitars
Samuel Morales – guitars
Guillem Morey – bass
Enrique Sierra – piano, keyboards
Xavi Gil – drums

Guest musicians
Júlia Colom – guest vocals on “Aurora” and “Nostrum Mare”
Heike Langhans – guest vocals on “The Path to Puya”
Jaume Compte – bouzouki and bağlama on “Aurora”
Pedro Zubiri – guitar solo on “The Path to Puya”
Batucada d’es Gremi – additional drums on “Aurora”
‘Are’are women (Malaita, Salomon Islands) – outro singing on “The Path to Puya”
Vassilis Mazaris, Diane Camenzuli, Joan Oliver, Sara Husein El Ahmed, Pablo Ferrarese, Isabelle Pereira, Élide Terrón, Felip Palou & Corin Solo Fogel – spoken parts on “Nostrum Mare”

Album Review – Rotting Christ / The Heretics (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotting Christ The Heretics Box Collector

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: I Believe.

Released in 2019 Season of Mist

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Zohamah / Spread My Ashes (2019)

Combining Black, Death and Doom Metal into a poisonous but intoxicating musical cocktail, here comes an Israeli one-man band armed with his excellent debut opus.

An intentionally cryptic band from Israel, Black/Death Metal one-man army Zohamah, which by the way is an expression taken from the Kabbalah that translates to “darkness” or “pollution”, a form of evil that results in kilkull (or spiritual damage), is unleashing upon humanity its first full-length opus, entitled Spread My Ashes, a follow-up to its debut EP Manic Depression, from 2017. Combining Black, Death and Doom Metal into a poisonous but intoxicating musical cocktail, Zohamah is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist H.M. (also known as Hezi Menashe), known from several underground bands such as Romuvos, Spawn of Evil and Immaterial, with all lyrics and music being written by H.M. himself, not to mention the album was also recorded, mixed and mastered by this extremely talented Israeli metaller.

The howling wind warns us all there’s a Black and Doom Metal storm coming in the opening track New World, generated by the somber gnarls and damned riffs blasted by H.M. It couldn’t have sounded more devilish than this, with H.M. also showcasing his superior skills on drums. Then presenting a Black Sabbath-inspired main riff enfolded in absolute obscurity we have The Darkness Whispers in My Ear, where H.M. is once again on fire with his demonic roars and intricate beats amidst the song’s hypnotizing rhythm; followed by Zohamah’s 2017 single, named Emptiness, a feast of the most Stygian sounds a man can generate, with his scorching hot guitar lines blending beautifully with his rumbling bass and rhythmic drumming, bringing elements from the most diverse types of classic extreme music.

A lot more Death Metal than its predecessors, which is noticeable specially on H.M.’s deeper growls, Black Cloud offers three minutes of aggressive, sulfurous and ruthless sounds, and the music remains vibrant and grim until all fades into pitch black darkness, whereas Broken Mirror is another demented creation by H.M., presenting the most melancholic and obscure elements from underground Blackened Doom. In addition, H.M. growls in a true desperate manner, bursting his lungs in pain and anguish. The title-track Spread My Ashes is a disturbing and harmonious instrumental bridge, building the ambience for the song that carries the name of the project, Zohamah, to captivate our senses with its neck-breaking pace, infernal screams and blast beats, ending the album on a high (and visceral) note just the way we love in underground extreme music.

It doesn’t really matter if you appreciate the works of one-man bands like Zohamah or not, you should definitely take a shot at Spread My Ashes, available in its entirety on on YouTube and on Spotify, as this is one of those albums that perfectly represent all the talent, hard work, passion for heavy music and darkness found in the independent Extreme Metal scene. If after listening to Spread My Ashes you feel like you want to know more about H.M. and his Zohamah (and I’m sure you will), you can follow him on Facebook, and show him your utmost support by purchasing the album from the Redefining Darkness Records’ BandCamp page, from the Hells Headbangers’ webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. In the end, H.M. is not only spreading his ashes on us with Zohamah’s brand new album, but also showing all of us fans of metal music that the Israeli scene is a lot more interesting, vibrant and obscure than we can imagine.

Best moments of the album: The Darkness Whispers in My Ear and Broken Mirror.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Redefining Darkness Records

Track listing
1. New World 4:45
2. The Darkness Whispers in My Ear 4:38
3. Emptiness 5:04
4. Black Cloud 3:14
5. Broken Mirror 4:29
6. Spread My Ashes 1:52
7. Zohamah 5:42

Band members
H.M. – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Inferitvm / The Grimoires (2019)

Telling the story of the most important forbidden grimoires in European history, this unrelenting Spanish horde delivers an excellent album that lives up to the legacy of 90’s Black Metal.

Born in 2014 in Palma de Mallorca, a resort city located in the Balearic Islands in Spain, with the task of putting the Black Metal genre back in the shadow of the glory it had in the 90’s, following the label from the most infamous bands from that period as a pure conceptual beginning (but excluding arsoning or murders, of course), the unstoppable horde that goes by the name of Inferitvm has just released their sophomore album The Grimoires, an epic story about black magic, esoteric rituals and all the different ingredients of true classical Black Metal. Having said that, do you accept the challenge of deciphering the forbidden texts that Inferitvm have brought back to life?

Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Sorcerer V., guitarist Lord Insekkton, bassist Aghanazzar and drummer Bârg, the sound of Inferitvm is fast, raw and full of details and reminiscences, with bands like Emperor and Immortal, as well as several other renowned groups from Norway, Sweden and Finland, serving as the main inspiration for their music. Telling the story of the most important forbidden grimoires in European history, delving into the miseries and stories behind them, The Grimoires is a manual for unraveling all the mysteries of black magic, with a symphonic twist that will undoubtedly surprise all who enjoy devilish and extreme music. Furthermore, the album brings some orchestral variations which end up helping to introduce your mind into the concept and imagery of an album that’s definitely “not for children”, with its lyrics being based on ancient spells and rituals of esoteric origin, and with the majority of recital refrains expressing the prayers and rituals in a solemn and profound way.

Phantasmagorical keys generate a menacing ambience in the intro Trithemius, before Inferitvm comes ripping with the sonic onrush titled Codex Gigas, where Sorcerer V. gnarls and vociferates like a demon to the imposing beast by Bârg. Moreover, Sorcerer v. and Lord Insekkton bring tons of melody to the musicality with their strings, flirting with contemporary Melodic Black Metal but still sounding loyal to the foundations of classic Black Metal. Then their devastation goes on in the sulfurous and pulverizing Clavicula Salomonis, a lecture in Black Metal bringing forward the most malevolent elements of the genre spearheaded by Sorcerer V.’s infernal roars; and there’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps blasting sheer obscurity through their damned instruments in Malleus Maleficarum, with Sorcerer V. and Lord Insekkton being on fire with their riffs and solos throughout this marching mass of absolute evil.

In Goetia of Shadows, Bârg and Aghanazzar keep smashing their instruments nonstop, generating a reverberating sound that will please all fans of the genre, all balanced by some very harmonious guitar lines and hellish growls, whereas Galdabrök is another hammering, disturbing hymn of darkness by Inferitvm, with Bârg and his pounding drums dictating the rhythm while Sorcerer V. grasps the song’s obscure lyrics poetically and darkly. In Liber Lux Tenebris, the scorching hot guitars by Sorcerer V. and Lord Insekkton add a touch of Doom Metal to their already infernal music before all hell breaks loose in another feast of old school Black Metal perfect for banging your head in the name of evil. And De Occulta Philosophia is probably one of the most disturbing songs of the whole album (if not the most), where all band members make sure they extract the most Stygian sounds form their instruments, in special the band’s infernal guitar duo with their classic riffage, ending in the most unsettling way possible.

Fortunately for all fans of extreme music, the last batch of songs from The Grimoires is just as thrilling and vile as the rest of the album, starting with La Poule Noire, presenting a classic Scandinavian Black Metal sound with the band’s own twist, sounding as violent as it can be, with its guitar solos creating an interesting paradox with the blast beats delivered by Bârg; followed by De Praestigiis Daemonum, a truly infernal aria where Inferitvm crush our minds mercilessly with their brutality, darkness and rage, or in other words, a demolishing Black Metal tune with a few breaks and variations added to bring more taste and punch to the overall result. And last but not least, the cryptic vocalizations by Sorcerer V. ignite the closing tune titled De Umbrarum Regni, spiced up with nuances of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, remaining creepy and atmospheric until its visceral ending.

In a nutshell, this unstoppable Spanish horde more than succeeds in telling stories of black magic and evil spells in the form of the pulverizing Black Metal found in The Grimoires (available for a full listen on Spotify), and in order to show your true support to those four horsemen of old school Black Metal simply follow them on Facebook, and grab your copy of such distinct album from their BandCamp page, from the Inverse Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. Because, in the end, all you have to do is let the ancient spells and malignancy flowing from the music by Inferitvm consume your soul, keeping the flame of 90’s Black Metal burning bright for decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Clavicula Salomonis, Malleus Maleficarum and De Occulta Philosophia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Trithemius 1:23
2. Codex Gigas 5:46
3. Clavicula Salomonis 6:55
4. Malleus Maleficarum 6:23
5. Goetia of Shadows 6:04
6. Galdabrök 5:14
7. Liber Lux Tenebris 5:41
8. De Occulta Philosophia 7:01
9. La Poule Noire 5:30
10. De Praestigiis Daemonum 5:02
11. De Umbrarum Regni 5:26

Band members
Sorcerer V. – vocals, guitar
Lord Insekkton – guitar
Aghanazzar – bass
Bârg – drums