Album Review – Hearts & Hand Grenades / Adrenaline EP (2020)

Bang your heads nonstop to this fresh breath of Hard Rock that is not just built around the youth of today, but for all generations of true rock addicts.

In striving to create a true rock revival, and up-and-coming female-fronted Hard Rock unity that goes by the name of Hearts & Hand Grenades was formed in the beginning of 2019 in Buffalo, the second largest city in the state of New York, in the United States, focusing on creating a fresh breath of Hard Rock that is not just built around the youth of today, but for all generations of true rock addicts. After the release of their 2019 EP’s Wait and Nothing Left, it’s time for lead singer and bassist Stephanie Wlosinski, guitarists Kenny Blesy and Mike Bress, and drummer Tom Lafferty to showcase all their passion for rock music and dexterity with a new EP entitled Adrenaline, drawing influences from the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Flyleaf and Halestorm, among many others. “We have been working very hard to bring our collective efforts to create a true hard rock sound with some meaningful lyrics. There is an undertone of frustration, desire, hope, and self- examining on these tracks. The agenda is to have something that anyone can relate to, no matter what walk of life you come from,” stated the band, aiming at filling the hole where true rock used to live with their new EP.

And our hearts begin beating to the rhythm of their classy Hard Rock in the title-track Adrenaline, where Stephanie and Tom will make the earth shake with their respective bass and drums while the band’s guitar duo extracts sheer electricity from their stringed axes, all spiced up by Stephanie’s thrilling vocals. Put differently, simply bang your head nonstop together with those talented rockers, just the way we love it in first-class Rock N’ Roll. Kenny and Mike keep hammering their guitars in great fashion in For the Weakened, bringing elements of Southern Rock and hints of Doom Metal to their already crushing musicality while Stephanie ventures through more aggressive lands with her piercing vocal lines. Then drinking from the more metallic fountain of NWOBHM, but still loyal to their Hard Rock foundations, Stephanie and the boys kick some serious ass once again with Daggers, a born-to-be-a-hit extravaganza where Kenny and Mike are on fire with their riffs, and there’s no sign of the band slowing down as they keep putting the pedal to the metal in the also headbanging Turning to Ashes, with its thrilling rhythm being dictated by Tom’s old school beats while the rest of the band fills out every single space in the air with the magic of Rock N’ Roll.

If you want to increase the amount of adrenaline in your life you can listen to such fun and vibrant EP in its entirety on YouTube, on Spotify and on Pandora, and of course purchase it directly from the band’s own webstore, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Stephanie and the boys on Facebook and on Instragram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to let their electrifying rock music penetrate deep inside your minds and your hearts each and every day where our good old Rock N’ Roll is required to lighten up our humor and make our lives a little better. After three awesome EP’s in just one year, Hearts & Hand Grenades are more than ready to focus their energy and passion for rock music in the creation of their first full-length opus, and as long as they keep loyal to their foundations, which means as long as they keep delivering more of the vibrant and fresh music found in Adrenaline, we can rest assured classic Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: Adrenaline and Daggers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Adrenaline 5:29
2. For the Weakened 4:05
3. Daggers 3:31
4. Turning to Ashes 4:17

Band members
Stephanie Wlosinski – vocals, bass
Kenny Blesy – lead guitars
Mike Bress – guitars, keyboards
Tom Lafferty – drums

Album Review – Scent Of Darkness / Insanitude EP (2020)

Touching themes like depression, psychosis and solitude, the debut album by this promising Italian project will take you on a one-way journey to the desolate lands of doom.

Formed in 2018 in Brescia, a city in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, Funeral Doom project Scent Of Darkness was born from the artistic expression of the band’s mastermind and guitarist Gianluca Moreo, known from his work with Vereor Nox, aiming at delivering lugubrious and unsettling doom tailored for fans of bands like Saturnus, Novembers Doom and Ahab. Now in 2020, after partnering with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Telve (from Canticum Diaboli), Gianluca and his Scent Of Darkness are unleashing upon us the project’s debut EP entitled Insanitude, a concept album which speaks of psychological and social experiences lived in first person by Gianluca himself, touching themes like depression, psychosis, abandonment, mistrust, delirium, solitude and hope. And let me tell you that the final result, consisting of four Depressive Funeral Doom Metal songs with painful, desolated and sick traits, will certainly leave you completely disoriented after the album’s 30 macabre and sluggish minutes are over.

The somber acoustic guitars by Gianluca kick off the first track of the EP, the grim Reborn, being gradually accompanied by Lorenzo’s slow and steady beats and an enfolding atmosphere, with Lorenzo growling deeply and demonically and, consequently, resulting in a black mass of Funeral Doom for admirers of the genre. Then featuring lyrics by Alex Gothnesia and guest vocals by Gray Ravenmoon (Hateful Desolation), Trust Issues sounds even heavier and more caustic than the opening tune, with Gianluca and Lorenzo generating a menacing ambience with their Stygian riffs, bass jabs and drums, and with the raspy and hellish roars by Gray bringing an extra dosage of malignancy to their already visceral Doom Metal, followed by Crowded Solitude, another brutal, smashing Doom Metal extravaganza led by the funereal drums by Lorenzo while Gianluca keeps extracting sheer obscurity from his razor-edge riffs, sounding perfect for savoring each second in pitch black darkness. And last but not least, anguished spoken words will penetrate deep inside your psyche in the 10-minute aria entitled Whispers From Nowhere, where the band’s infernal duo continues to pave a sinister and dark path with their rumbling music, also presenting cryptic passages, eerie narrations, endless solitude and savage madness, all embraced by the gruesome gnarls by Lorenzo while the music flows like a dark river from hell until the song’s grandiose finale.

This 30-minute ode to all things doom can be better appreciated in full on YouTube, but of course I highly recommend you purchase a copy of the album from the Masked Dead Records’ BandCamp page or from Discogs to show your support to such up-and-coming Italian project, keeping the flames of doom burning in the depths of the underworld of heavy music. Also, you can get to know more about Scent Of Darkness by following the project on Facebook and by subscribing to its YouTube channel, darkening your heart and your thoughts even more as you join Gianluca in his one-way journey to hopelessness and desolation. If this high-end and very detailed EP is just the first release by Scent Of Darkness, I wonder where the project can go in the Doom Metal universe, leaving all fans of the slow, visceral and somber side of doom eager for more of his unrelenting creations in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Trust Issues and Whispers From Nowhere.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Masked Dead Records

Track listing
1. Reborn 5:45
2. Trust Issues 7:41
3. Crowded Solitude 6:26
4. Whispers From Nowhere 10:04

Band members
Gianluca Moreo – guitars
Lorenzo Telve – vocals, bass, drums

Guest musician
Gray Ravenmoon – vocals on “Trust Issues”

Album Review – Paradise Lost / Obsidian (2020)

The overlords of doom return with another majestic album, exploring the unknown and opening new horizons with their awe-inspiring music.

Still reigning supreme as the overlords of doom after over three decades on the road, Halifax, England-based Doom Metal act Paradise Lost never gets tired of stunning us all with their refined hybrid of old school Doom and Death Metal with 80’s and contemporary Gothic Metal and Rock, proving why they’ve maintained their relevance in the world of heavy music without disappointing their loyal fans not even once in their vast career. Now in 2020 it’s time for frontman Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen to darken the skies once again with Obsidian, their sixteenth studio album and the follow-up to their latest releases Medusa, from 2017, and The Plague Within, released in 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orgone Studios, with additional recordings done at Black Planet, and featuring a cryptic artwork by British artist Adrian Baxter, Obsidian might not be considered a classic yet like Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but I’m sure the album will reach its deserved cult status soon based on the amazing quality of the music found throughout its 47 astonishing minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes from the deluxe edition).

The gorgeous guest violin by Spanish musician Alicia Nurho adds a touch of finesse to the opening track Darker Thoughts, led by the always enfolding, deep vocals by Nick, sounding utterly grandiose, epic and doomed, and with Waltteri displaying all his refined skills behind his drum set. Then in Fall from Grace the band keeps slamming our heads mercilessly with their crushing riffage and damned beats, all led by Nick’s obscure roars while Steve makes the earth rumble with his bass (not to mention Greg’s hypnotizing solo), whereas Steve kicks off the 80’s-inspired dark tune titled Ghosts, enhanced by a brilliant performance by Nick with his Stygian vocals while his bandmates bring endless groove and electricity to the song from start to finish. And bringing forward contemplative lyrics that reek of modern-day poetry (“I’m tired of dreams, I’m tired of almost everything / Dreams deceive and living never lasts. / Too tired to sleep, denial of grief awakes my sins / Too weak to breathe, from living in deaths hands”), The Devil Embraced is another lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal spearheaded by Waltteri’s classic drums and the strident riffs by both Greg and Aaron.

Ominous sounds embellish the ambience in the also somber and heavy-as-hell Forsaken, where Nick is once again flawless on vocals supported by the slashing guitars by Greg and Aaron, while Steve and Waltteri sound absolutely thunderous with their respective instruments. After such dense tune, it’s time to bang our heads in darkness to the sound of Serenity, a hammering fusion of Doom and Death Metal tailored for admirers of the genre, also presenting some welcome breaks and variations, tons of progressiveness and the always macabre roars by Nick, followed by Ending Days, where Alicia returns with her gentle violin while the band gets back to a more serene and melancholic vibe, showcasing all their versatility and talent. Furthermore, the impact of the guitars and drums combined to the overall result is majestic, which can also be said about Hope Dies Young, featuring backing vocals by American singer Heather Mackintosh (Tapping the Vein), a very pleasant and enfolding sonority, and another round of their unique and stylish lyrics (“How could you know? / As pure as driven snow / Through a winter of descent / The splintered argument / Such a withering lament / Hopes will die young / Hopes will die young now”). The last song of the regular version of Obsidian, titled Ravenghast, brings to our ears a classic Paradise Lost sound, reminding me of some of their old school compositions from Draconian Times, with the level of heaviness and melancholy being beautifully insane while Waltteri blasts his drums in the best Doom Metal way possible and Nick fires his deep, demonic growls. If you decide to purchase the deluxe edition of Obsidian you’ll face the bonus tracks Hear the Night and Defiler, both very solid and classy Doom Metal compositions presenting all the elements we learned to love form the band’s distinguished music, making it totally worth the investment.

I guess I don’t need to ask you to take a good listen at Obsidian in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the band, and of course don’t forget to keep the fires of doom burning by purchasing your copy of the album by clicking HERE, and to follow Paradise Lost on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you search for the meaning of “obsidian” online, you’ll find out it’s a volcanic glass that’s supposed to be truth-enhancing, a strongly protective stone which forms a shield against negativity, blocking psychic attack and absorbing negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension, stimulating growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. There couldn’t be a better representation of the new album by Paradise Lost, as their brand new opus is indeed a work-of-art perfect for heightening our senses and opening our minds and hearts for the glory of doom.

Best moments of the album: Darker Thoughts, Ghosts, Serenity and Ravenghast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Darker Thoughts 5:46
2. Fall from Grace 5:42
3. Ghosts 4:35
4. The Devil Embraced 6:08
5. Forsaken 4:30
6. Serenity 4:46
7. Ending Days 4:36
8. Hope Dies Young 4:02
9. Ravenghast 5:30

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
10. Hear the Night 5:34
11. Defiler 4:45

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead & rhythm guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musicians
Alicia Nurho – violin on “Darker Thoughts” and “Ending Days”
Heather Mackintosh – backing vocals on “Hopes Die Young”

Album Review – Descend into Despair / Opium (2020)

It’s time to get lost in the musical and lyrical universe developed around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz” by this distinguished Romanian Funeral Doom act.

Founded in 2010 in Rădăuți, Suceava County, in Romania, but currently located in Cluj-Napoca, Cluj County, also in Romania, an idiosyncratic Doom Metal/Funeral Doom entity known as Descend into Despair has been gradually rising from that point into one of the most noteworthy bands in the local scene, fusing together Death, Black and Sludge Metal with Electronica and Dark Ambient elements to further refine what they like to call “Introspective Doom Metal”, pushing creative boundaries and taking pride in experimenting as much as they can. The band currently comprised of Xander Coza on vocals, analogue synthesizer and guitars, Florentin Popa on clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars and field recordings, Dragoș C. and Cosmin Farcău on the guitars, Alex Costin on bass, Flaviu Roșca on keyboards and piano, and Luca Breaz on drums developed a musical and lyrical universe around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz”, a brooding and ever-looming feeling that physical reality can never fully satisfy the demands of the mind. Now in 2020 the band returns with their third full-length opus, simply titled Opium, offering fans of Funeral Doom almost one hour of cryptic and melancholic passages split into three unique compositions, all embraced by a stunning cover artwork conceptualized by Xander himself, featuring model Melinda Nagy, painting by István Bába and bodypaint by Brigitta Adorjan. “Opium’s conceptual driving force is, we believe, fully grasped within this image, blurring the lines between painting and photography. Twisting classical beauty into modern obsession, weaving harmony of proportion into the disharmony of meaning that soaks through the fabric of existence, our Venus rises forth from horror and remembrance, drained by her rebirth, as murky as the sea that bore her,” commented the band about the connection between the concept of the art and the musical content of their newborn opus.

Featuring guest female vocals by Tara Vanflower, an atmospheric and peaceful start slowly and gradually evolves into a lugubrious feast of doom in ensh[r]ine, with the band’s guitarists Dragos and Cosmin meticulously smashing their stringed axes while Luca brings the thunder with his potent beats. Furthermore, Xander sounds like a beast from the pits of hell with his deep guttural gnarls, with the crisp and crystalline background keys and synths by Flaviu adding a touch of finesse to their mournful musicality. In other words, it’s truly impressive how they fill every single space in the air with tons of heaviness but sounding melodic and ethereal at the same time, ending such massive composition in a beyond enfolding way. Then sinister, atmospheric sounds and tones permeate the air in the also extensive, multi-layered and utterly doomed antumbra, where Xander’s gruesome roars get even more introspective and grim accompanied by the sluggish and melancholic beats by Luca, while the raw sounds of the guitars generate a beautiful paradox with all background keys and synths, also presenting several breaks and variations throughout its 17 lugubrious minutes, and once again bringing an orchestral, cinematic vibe until the very end. Lastly, an array of guests doing choir vocals and spoken pieces are one of the main ingredients in the pensive and obscure closing tune dis[re]member, where the delicate piano notes by Flaviu and the slow and steady beats by Luca walk hand in hand in a hypnotizing Doom Metal voyage. It’s by far the most intricate and the darkest of all three songs, with Dragos, Cosmin and Alex bringing an otherworldly vibe to the music with their sonic weapons, not to mention the breathtaking final act showcasing grim spoken words, crisp guitars and infernal roars amidst a perturbing sense of hopelessness.

In summary, if you can’t live without your daily dosage of Funeral Doom, then this excellent album made in Romania is exactly what you need to fulfill your darkest needs. Hence, don’t forget to show your true support to the guys from Descend into Despair by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and above all that, by purchasing Opium (which is also available in full on YouTube and on Spotify) from Funere’s Bandcamp page, or go to DistroKid for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mixed by Indee Rehal Sagoo in London, UK, and mastered by Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios in Birmingham, UK, Opium will certainly please all admirers of the most introspective and funereal side of Doom Metal, leaving a scathing mark in the hearts of those who dare to venture through the album’s 59 minutes of sheer obscurity, solitude and sorrow.

Best moments of the album: dis[re]member.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Funere

Track listing
1. ensh[r]ine 22:27
2. antumbra 17:08
3. dis[re]member 19:54

Band members
Xander Coza – vocals, analogue synthesizer, guitars
Florentin Popa – clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars, field recordings
Dragoș C. – guitars
Cosmin Farcău – guitars
Alex Costin – bass
Flaviu Roșca – keyboards, piano
Luca Breaz – drums, choir vocals on “dis[re]member”

Guest musicians
Tara Vanflower  – female vocals on “ensh[r]ine”
Irina Movileanu & Eva Breaz – choir vocals on “dis[re]member”
Bogdan Neciu & Răzvan Târnovan – spoken words on “dis[re]member”

Album Review – Creptum / VAMA (2020)

An unrelenting horde hailing from Brazil is ready to distill their raw, unfiltered Black Metal armed with their sulfurous new opus.

Formed in the already distant year of 2001 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil under the name Nekros with the sole objective of distilling Black Metal in its rawest aspect, an obscure Black Metal entity currently known as Creptum has just unleashed upon humanity their sophomore effort entitled VAMA, the follow-up to their 2016 debut opus Of Lies, Curses and Blood and their 2017 EP Reborn in Flames. Produced by Marcos Cerutti and featuring a blood-red artwork by Brazilian designer Raphael Grizilli, VAMA will certainly please all diehard fans of the old school Black Metal blasted by renowned acts such as Marduk, Gorgoroth, Sarcófago and Dark Funeral, among others, showcasing all the talent and obscurity by the band’s renewed lineup featuring vocalist and guitarist Nebro, guitarist T. Aversvs, bassist Corvo and drummer Animus Atra, positioning such distinct horde as one of the most interesting names of the underground Brazilian scene.

Animus Atra begins hammering his drums vigorously accompanied by the Black Metal riffage by Nebro and T. Aversvs in the opening aria Earth, while Nebro barks like a rabid beast nonstop, also bringing an ominous aura from Atmospheric Black Metal, whereas sounding more enraged, heavier and more demonic, the band goes full Black Metal in Reborn in Darkness, tailored for fans of the scorching music by Marduk and Darkthrone, with Nebro and T. Aversvs once again slashing our ears with their blasphemous riffs supported by the low-tuned, menacing bass by Corvus. Then strident guitar lines permeate the air in the also venomous 156, a hard-hitting, metallic extravaganza led by the band’s infernal kitchen of Corvus and Animus Atra, living up to the legacy of classic Black Metal infused with melodic nuances, followed by The Moon Above, bringing forward cryptic words vociferated by Nebro (“I hear the pounding of drums / My bones shiver with their sound / And I feel my heart, I feel my heart racing / I feel the dirt beneath my feet, / The transmutation of black moon above me / I feel the heat of the battles / That are now happening within”) while his bandmates keep the ambience as dense, ominous and electrifying as possible.

The title-track VAMA is another Stygian composition where the entire band adds hints of Doom Metal to their already sulfurous Black Metal, with Animus Atra alternating between vicious blast beats and sluggish, phantasmagorical passages, sounding utterly detailed and captivating from start to finish; and the acoustic instrumental tune Kundaliní gives us a few moments of introspection and peace before all hell breaks loose in Revolution Within, a disruptive onrush of Black Metal sounds spearheaded by Animus Atra and his demented drums, with Nebro growling deeply and rabidly while Corvo is unstoppable with her wicked bass punches. Creptum don’t stop darkening the skies and our souls with their imposing and epic Black Metal sonority in Devouring Mother, sounding as if Immortal and Mayhem had a bastard son while the gruesome gnarls by Nebro penetrate deep inside your psyche, until the closing tune On My Skin brings to our ears a few brief moments of serenity before the quartet crushes our skulls one last time with their heavy-as-hell sound, presenting a neck-breaking rhythm led by Animus Atra’s classic beats.

This fantastic display of South American Black Metal can be appreciated in full on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support and admiration for this Brazilian horde you should definitely purchase VAMA from their own BandCamp page, from the Drakker Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow Creptum on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their incendiary music, consequently proving you’re a true disciple of the underworld. VAMA is not just another album of Black Metal, but a bold statement by a band that is fully dedicated to such obscure subgenre of heavy music, and above that, to show Brazil can also be an excellent source of the most extreme type of music you can think of.

Best moments of the album: Reborn in Darkness, VAMA and Devouring Mother.

Worst moments of the album: Earth.

Released in 2020 Drakkar Productions

Track listing
1. Earth 4:48
2. Reborn in Darkness 5:00
3. 156 4:52
4. The Moon Above 3:35
5. VAMA 5:59
6. Kundaliní 3:39
7. Revolution Within 3:35
8. Devouring Mother 4:48
9. On My Skin 4:31

Band members
Nebro – vocals, guitar
T. Aversvs – guitar, bass
Corvo – bass
Animus Atra – drums

Guest musician
Tanatos – additional vocals
Deimous Nefus – guitar

Album Review – Kult Mogił / Torn Away the Remains of Dasein (2020)

An unrelenting Polish entity returns with their sophomore full-length opus, presenting a new sound directed towards classic Death Metal from the 90’s.

Almost three years after the release of the EP Portentaque, Tarnów, Lesser Poland-based Blackened Death Metal entity Kult Mogił is back from the pits of the underworld with a brand new full-length album entitled Torn Away the Remains of Dasein, presenting to the listener a new line-up and, more important than that, a new energy and sound directed towards a more classic Death Metal style from the 90’s when compared to their debut full-length opus Anxiety Never Descending. Mixed and mastered at Satanic Audio by Haldor Grunberg and featuring a stylish cover artwork by Polish artist Sars (Gruzja, Odraza), Torn Away the Remains of Dasein reeks of pure violence from start to finish, showcasing all the talent and passion for extreme music by lead singer and bassist Deimos, guitarists Rzulty and Thisworld Outof, and drummer The Rays. “Instead of following trends of fashionable playing, we’re heading in the opposite direction, going back to the roots of death metal even more than before. This is our most essential recording, devoid of layers of sludge and other popular additions from previous releases. We want the new songs, stripped of these ornaments, to defend themselves with strong, load-bearing riffs. This album is 100% devoid of the desire to be avant-garde or experimental. We are destroying the previously developed formula so that we can on its ruins pay homage to the classics of the genre,” commented the band about their vicious new album.

And the opening track Hunger of Pride is the perfect depiction of this new version of Kult Mogił, sounding and feeling absolutely ominous, disruptive and violent from the very first second, with Rzulty and Thisworld Outof showing no mercy for our souls with their infernal riffage while Deimos roars and growls rabidly, resulting in a putrid Death Metal feast infused with Black Metal nuances. Then wicked sounds ignite another awesome display of brutality titled White.Death.Implosion, where The Rays sounds vile and demented on drums by blasting sheer havoc through his beats, therefore providing his bandmates all they need to shine with their venomous growls and sick riffs and solos, and not giving us a single second to breathe, the quartet fires the also hellish Blackened Death Metal tune Torment of Dasein, bringing to our ears pure savagery flowing from all instruments, with Deimos doing a fantastic job with both his guttural vocals and his menacing bass punches. In Idols in Blood we’re treated to an austere onrush of Black and Death Metal sounds spearheaded by the rhythmic and groovy beats by The Rays, while Rzulty and Thisworld Outof don’t stop extracting razor-edged riffs from their axes, reminding me of the total darkness of the early days of their countrymen Behemoth, whereas in A Wax Reverie the band adds hints of Doom Metal to their already otherworldly sonority, smashing our skulls once again and blending the gore of bands like Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under with their own share of dementia. And lastly, the rumbling bass by Deimos ignites the closing tune Fountain of Affliction, where the band’s guitar duo fires an endless amount of sulfur and rage from their stringed weapons while The Rays sounds like a bulldozer on drums, ending the album on an utterly obscure and aggressive note.

In case you’re not familiar with the music by Kult Mogił, I highly recommended you go take a good listen at their previous releases before listening to Torn Away the Remains of Dasein in full on YouTube to have a clear understanding of the musical evolution explained by the band until reaching their current shape and form, showing that the adjustments they made to their sound were more than welcome and spot-on, therefore pointing to a bright future to such obscure unity hailing from Poland. In addition, don’t forget to give the guys from Kult Mogił a shout on Facebook, and to grab your copy of Torn Away the Remains of Dasein from the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page or from their webstore in CD, black LP or red LP formats. After such pulverizing album, I wonder if Kult Mogił will continue to venture through even more classic Death Metal lands, if they’ll succumb to the darker side of Black and Doom Metal, or if they’ll simply merge all of their influences and all those styles into something new and fresh. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter what the final result is, as long as they keep bringing forth amazing records like Torn Away the Remains of Dasein we can rest assured the underground Polish scene will remain alive, vibrant and as brutal as it can be.

Best moments of the album: White.Death.Implosion and Idols in Blood.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. Hunger of Pride 5:43
2. White.Death.Implosion 4:57
3. Torment of Dasein 6:33
4. Idols in Blood 4:38
5. A Wax Reverie 6:24
6. Fountain of Affliction 5:37

Band members
Deimos – vocals, bass
Rzulty – guitars
Thisworld Outof – guitars
The Rays – drums

Album Review – Nexion / Seven Oracles (2020)

Behold the indomitable seven-headed best of Black Metal summoned by an up-and-coming, infernal horde hailing from Iceland.

The nature of existence and human value and meaning are central themes in every religion, every spirituality and countless philosophies. It is thus fitting that Reykjavík, Iceland-based Black Metal horde Nexion’s first full-length opus, entitled Seven Oracles, concerns itself with these subjects, working as a revelatory “proclamation” of mythic proportions. Formed in 2016, the band comprised of Joshua Hróðgeir Rood on vocals, Jóhannes Smári Smárason and Óskar Rúnarsson o the guitars, Kári Pálsson on bass and Sigurður Jakobsson on drums offers in the follow-up to their 2017 self-titled EP a collection of the seven “oracles”, with each one addressing the nature of existence from a different angle, revealing and tearing away upheld “truths” like the serpent who gnaws the roots of Yggdrasil. Each song is a dagger, each chord is poison, and each utterance is fire, destroying the receiver’s sense of existential belief until there is nothing left. Mixed and mastered at Studio Emissary in Iceland, and featuring a cryptic artwork by José Gabriel Alegría Sabogal portraying a seven-headed beast appearing before a figure who offers it up a libation in exchange for wisdom within a self-conflating world, Seven Oracles has everything we love in extreme music, leaving us all completely disoriented after its 46 minutes of scorching and austere music are over.

Arising from the depths of the underworld, this Icelandic horde generates a Stygian wall of sounds in the title-track Seven Oracles, exploding into a raw and vile sonority led by Sigurður’s infernal drums while Joshua roars like a true demonic entity, not to mention the strident riffage by the band’s guitar duo, building an instant bridge to the also occult and ritualistic extravaganza titled Revelation of Unbeing, bringing elements from Blackened Doom and Doom Metal to make the overall result even more uncanny, with Jóhannes, Óskar and Kári being on absolute fire with their stringed weapons from start to finish. Then we have Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds, a lesson in modern-day Black Metal made in Iceland that’s even more disturbing and grim than its predecessors, spearheaded by Joshua and his Death Metal-inspired growls and also presenting the trademark epicness of Scandinavian Black Metal; and there’s no time to breather as those ruthless metallers blast another sulfurous aria entitled Sanctum Amentiae, where the razor-edged riffs by both Jóhannes and Óskar are in perfect sync with the rhythmic, pounding beats by Sigurður.

In the fantastic and fulminating Utterances of Broken Throats the entire band hammers their instruments mercilessly, bringing to our ears a piercing and dense hybrid of classic Black Metal and contemporary Melodic Black Metal, or in other words, get ready to be utterly stunned and smashed by those talented marauders. And the tribal beats by Sigurður are gradually accompanied by the hellish guitar lines by Jóhannes and Óskar until all hell breaks loose in The Spirit of Black Breath, another feast of Icelandic Black Metal that will put you in a darkened trance throughout its over six minutes of devilish sounds and tones, followed by the climatic closing aria The Last Messiah, named after the eponymous book The Last Messiah, in honor of Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zappfe, sounding as demolishing and detailed as all previous songs from such intense album of extreme music. Furthermore, Joshua’s growls get deeper and more berserk as the music progresses, all embraced by crisp guitar riffs, rumbling bass punches and a gargantuan amount of evil and obscurity for our vulgar delectation.

This seven-headed best of Black Metal summoned by Nexion is waiting for you at the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page or at the Sound Cave’s webstore in different formats such as the regular digipak CD version or the awesome orange/black marble LP + shirt bundle, and you can also get to know more about such distinct act of the underground Black Metal scene by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by listening to more of their music on Spotify. This is Icelandic Black Metal at its finest, and we must all thank Nexion for bringing to us all mere mortals such breathtaking and compelling display of extreme music, setting the bar really high for the band’s five evil minds in the upcoming releases, always sounding sulfurous, always extreme, and above all that, always loyal to the foundations of Black Metal and to their Scandinavian roots.

Best moments of the album: Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds and Utterances of Broken Throats.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Seven Oracles 6:22
2. Revelation of Unbeing 5:35
3. Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds 5:52
4. Sanctum Amentiae 6:05
5. Utterances of Broken Throats 7:08
6. The Spirit of Black Breath 6:25
7. The Last Messiah 9:05

Band members
Joshua Hróðgeir Rood – vocals
Jóhannes Smári Smárason – guitar
Óskar Rúnarsson – guitar
Kári Pálsson – bass
Sigurður Jakobsson – drums

Album Review – Odraza / Rzeczom (2020)

A unique and caustic album of Black Metal made in Poland about myths, projections, appearances, fears we fight, and the legacy we cannot deny.

Formed in the year of 2009 in the obscure basements and gray courtyards of the charming city of Kraków, in Lesser Poland by vocalist, guitarist and bassist Stawrogin (Gruzja, Massemord and Totenmesse) and guitarist, bassist and drummer Priest (Massemord, Totenmesse and Voidhanger), the Stygian Black Metal duo known as Odraza, or “disgust” from Polish, returns from the pits of the underworld with their sophomore studio album Rzeczom (“things”), the follow up to their 2014 debut opus Esperalem Tkane. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Impressive-Art Studio in Beskidu Małego, Poland, and portraying the stunning Polish model Dorota Maria Kuźmicka as its cover art, Rzeczom will take you on a dark and captivating journey through the wicked world of Odraza. “We dedicate Rzeczom to ourselves, the authors. It is a diary; excerpts from our lives and the lives of the people once close to us come across the words by the authors that inspire us. It is about myths, about projections, appearances, fears we fight, and the legacy we cannot deny. It is also about the lie – after all, it is but us who decide how many of those memories reflect what has never been,” darkly commented the duo about their new and weird creation.

In the opening tune titled Schadenfreude (“malicious joy” or “spitefulness” from German), an eerie, cryptic intro quickly explodes into modern and visceral Black Metal led by the duo’s scorching riffs, with Priest blasting savagery and intricacy through his beats nonstop. The album couldn’t have started in a better (and more venomous) way, I might say, with the duo’s rumbling bass igniting the title-track Rzeczom, sounding as if Triptykon went full Blackened Doom. Moreover, Stawrogin growls and barks like a true demonic beast throughout the entire song, spiced up by somber passages and vicious backing vocals, resulting in a song definitely not recommended for the lighthearted. Then back to a more ferocious and berserk mode those Polish metallers fire the Behemoth-inspired W Godzinie Wilka (“at the hour of the wolf”), bringing to our ears Blackened Death Metal at its finest with Stawrogin’s harsh gnarls being effectively supported by Priest’s pounding drums; whereas a serene, acoustic intro permeates the air in …Twoją Rzecz Też (“…your thing too”), evolving into a metallic and alternative, almost circus-like onrush of sounds showcasing the band’s versatility and their will to never sound outdated or repetitive.

Once again sounding wicked and vile form start to finish, the duo surprises us with another round of unusual extreme music in Długa 24 (“long 24”), where Stawrogin does a very entertaining job with both his darker vocals and his clean vociferations, followed by Świt Opowiadaczy (“dawn of the storytellers”), offering the listener six minutes of obscure passages and endless violence flowing from their damned instruments, with Priest stealing the spotlight with his frantic and intricate drumming. And venturing through the realms of Doom and Stoner Metal to give their core Black Metal an even more badass vibe, they offer us all Młot Na Małe Miasta (“a hammer for small towns”), with both Stawrogin and Priest extracting electricity from their stringed weapons and, therefore, keeping the album at a high level of obscurity and madness.

After such demented tune, we’re treated to Najkrótsza Z Wieczności (“the shortest of eternities”), a contemplative and melancholic display of extreme music made in Poland where Stawrogin devilishly declaims the song’s Polish words, being multi-layered and grim just the way we like it in Extreme Metal. Following this cryptic composition, a phantasmagorical storm is about to begin in Bempo, growing in intensity until morphing into ass-kicking Blackened Death Metal led by Priest’s always fulminating drums, also showcasing a razor-edged guitar solo by guest musician Azar. And last but not least, it’s time for Odraza to stun us once and for all with eight minutes of absolute darkness in the instrumental aria Ja Nie Stąd (“I’m not from here”), starting in a progressive and atmospheric manner and flowing beautifully to the riffage and beats by the band’s dynamic duo until its inevitable and ethereal end.

This precious gem of contemporary Black Metal made in Poland can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you should definitely buy a copy of the album from Odraza’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Godz Ov War Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore and from Discogs, showing your true support to the talented Stawrogin and Priest and to the entire underground scene. Also, don’t forget to follow Odraza on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their distinguished music. It doesn’t matter if you are a native Polish metalhead or if you don’t understand a single word said by the band in Rzeczom, this is the type of album that’s a must-have in your collection of dark and acid extreme music, and just like Odraza dedicated the album to themselves, you can go ahead a dedicate it to your own Black Metal persona in your most introspective moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Schadenfreude, W Godzinie Wilka and Młot Na Małe Miasta.

Worst moments of the album: Długa 24.

Released in 2020 Godz Ov War Productions

Track listing
1. Schadenfreude 4:18
2. Rzeczom 5:21
3. W Godzinie Wilka 4:50
4. …Twoją Rzecz Też 5:43
5. Długa 24 2:06
6. Świt Opowiadaczy 6:01
7. Młot Na Małe Miasta 5:41
8. Najkrótsza Z Wieczności 5:06
9. Bempo 6:29
10. Ja Nie Stąd 8:01

Band members
Stawrogin – vocals, guitars, bass
Priest – guitars, bass, drums

Guest musician
Azar – guitar solo on “Najkrótsza Z Wieczności” and “Bempo”

Album Review – Front / Antichrist Militia EP (2020)

Ravaging and rampaging the wastelands, the most infernal platoon hailing from Finland returns to the battlefront tighter and more caustic than ever with a brand new mini-album.

At long last, almost four years after the release of their fantastic debut album Iron Overkill, the venomous Lahti, Finland-based Black/Death Metal platoon that goes by the name of Front returns to the battlefront with a brand new mini-album titled Antichrist Militia, offering fans of the music by Marduk, Bestial Warlust and Motörhead decisive 23 minutes of brutality, rage, blasphemy and, above all that, war. Now expanded to a quartet formed by lead singer Kaosbringer, guitarist Von Bastard, bassist Meister F. and drummer Revenant, Front present in Antichrist Militia their deadliest Black and Death Metal sonic arsenal to date, with the ass-kicking artwork designed by Indonesian artist Jenglot Hitam (Abigail, Sabbat, Unholy Desecration) saying everything it needs to, that Front are ravaging and rampaging the wastelands, sounding tighter, more finessed and at the same time more caustic than ever, getting in and getting out with militaristic precision, and this time with a booze-reeking smirk across its barbed-wired face.

In the intro Doom Cult Legion, ominous and eerie noises from the pits of hell warm up our senses for the pulverizing title-track Antichrist Militia, where the entire band showcases their heavy artillery led by Revenant’s brutal and pounding drums while Von Bastard extracts sheer dementia form his guitar, all spiced up by Kaosbringer’s demonic roars and gnarls. Furthermore, this venomous tune is simply perfect for raising your horns while screaming the song’s name together with the band, not to mention its frantic, slamming and metallic second half, followed by Iron Front, their personal tribute to the almighty Motörhead, bringing forward a demented mix of Black and Death Metal with badass Rock N’ Roll where Meister F. hammers his bass in a way that would make the iconic Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.) truly proud, accompanied by Von Bastard’s hellish guitar riffs and solos. Hence, this ode to ruthless rock and metal will work perfectly during their live performances without a shadow of a doubt.

Leaning towards the current Black Metal sonority blasted by Marduk, Venom & Salt is a warlike tune spearheaded by Kaosbringer and his enraged growls, filling our ears with nonstop violence flowing from all instruments while Revenant shows no mercy at all for his drums, whereas an obscure start with somber voices evolves into a Black and Doom Metal chant titled Mouths of War, a Stygian song that will penetrate deep inside your psyche, disturbing your peace of mind while the quartet blasts evil and hatred form their weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, as the icing on the cake, the song also brings forward Winston Churchill’s renowned speech, the same form Iron Maiden’s hit “Aces High” by the way, just to give the final result an extra military touch. And finally, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a crossfire before Von Bastard puts the pedal to the metal with his sick riffage in Machinegun Blasphemy, with Revenant sounding absolutely infernal on drums from start to finish. This can easily be labeled “War Metal”, or in other words, the utmost depiction of what happens when old school Black and Death Metal unite in the name of war.

In a nutshell, Front bring forth in Antichrist Militia the precise soundtrack to inspire us all right before we head into the battlefield, and despite the album having only 23 minutes of music that’s actually more than enough to cause a nuclear explosion due to its gargantuan amount of heaviness and rage. Having said that, don’t forget to follow this infamous legion of metalheads on Facebook, and keep an eye on the Iron Bonehead Productions’ BandCamp page and webstore where sooner than later you’ll be able to put your dirty hands on such thrilling album of extreme music. Front’s “pocket version” of what can be described as a musical world war is almost upon us all, and based on the current state of our society I can’t think of a better option to bang our heads like true bastards until our inevitable and gruesome end.

Best moments of the album: Iron Front and Machinegun Blasphemy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Iron Bonehead Productions

Track listing
1. Doom Cult Legion 0:43
2. Antichrist Militia 5:05
3. Iron Front 4:20
4. Venom & Salt 4:06
5. Mouths of War 3:43
6. Machinegun Blasphemy 4:48

Band members
Kaosbringer – vocals
Von Bastard – guitars, choir vocals
Meister F. – bass
Revenant – drums, choir vocals