Album Review – Temptation’s Wings / Skulthor Ebonblade (2017)

Follow the epic adventures of the mighty warrior Skulthor, told by a relentless American power trio through their vibrant fusion of Stoner and Southern Metal.

Hailing from the mountains of North Carolina, in the United States, more specifically from the city of Asheville, here comes a bludgeoning power trio known as Temptation’s Wings, who since the band’s inception in 2005 has been blasting an old school fusion of Stoner and Southern Metal full of raw power, crushing riffs and epic vocals with influences ranging from Amon Amarth to ZZ Top, from Candlemass to Iced Earth, and so on. All that passion for heavy music culminated with the release of a demo titled Destruction of Another Dimension, in 2010, and the EP’s WarMallet: An EP of Brutality, in 2011, and Legends of the Tusk, in 2013, leading the band to play several concerts in support of their releases, including opening for metal legends Iced Earth in their hometown’s biggest venue, The Orange Peel. However, it’s now in 2017 that the trio aims at spreading their metallic wings over the entire world with the release of their debut full-length album, the rip-roaring Skulthor Ebonblade.

Showcasing a comic-inspired artwork by Minneapolis-based artist David Paul Seymour (the “Artist of Doom”), Skulthor Ebonblade is a doom-thrashing sonic representation of battles, berserkers, bizarre beasts and bashing skulls by the trio comprised of Micah on vocals and guitars, Chad on bass and Jason on drums, who above all things love to tell us epic tales of bloodshed and conquest through their music. With each one of its songs being a crushing narrative of brutality from start to finish, Skulthor Ebonblade can be considered a concept album that keeps the level of epicness and adventure always at the highest possible level. Having said that, simply grab your sword, ax and shield and head into the battlefield together with Temptation’s Wings to the sound of the glorious anthems found in the album’s 48 minutes of unrelenting metal.

Blazing fires in the intro Burning of Hjalmar warn the listener a monumental war of Sludge and Stoner Metal is about to begin in I’ Destroyer, where Micah and Chad build a wall of sound with their strings, being powerfully joined by Jason and his smashing beats. In addition, Micah impersonates the main character of the story in a gripping manner, while Chad and his bass sound as thunderous as they can be throughout the entire song. And the rumbling tunes by Chad kick off another heavy and potent creation by Temptation’s Wings entitled Into the Maelstrom, presenting top-tier Southern Doom with an epic atmosphere in the background, together with faster passages interspersed with darker, slower moments that end up turning it into a full-bodied experience for the listener.

And it seems that the skies are getting darker and darker as the music in Skulthor Ebonblade evolves, which is the case in To Forge a Legend (Ulfbehrt). Micah fires spot-on enraged vocals in perfect sync with the pounding drums by Jason, exhibiting a more melodic side of Temptation’s Wings with highlights to its sustained epic vibe. Then we’re treated to one of the most thrilling, razor-edged chants of the whole album, Lair of the Gorgon Queen, where Micah not only slashes our ears with his riffs, but his vocal performance is beyond heroic and vibrant. Furthermore, this flammable chant is also full of breaks, variations and nuances of several different music styles, not to mention Micah’s fantastic guitar solos; followed by Treachery of the Blind Raven, which by the way has a superb name for a metal song, where they continue their quest for Southern Metal in great fashion, with guitar and bass sounding as metallic as they can be and with all spaces being filled with the dense sounds of all instruments.

Witches of Dredmoor offers our avid ears almost 10 minutes of melancholic passages, low-tuned bass punches and passionate performances by all band members (in special Micah with his gripping story-telling vocal lines). It’s by far the darkest of all songs, presenting more of their stunning guitar solos and rhythmic beats to make the whole composition even more exhilarating; before the closing tune of the album, titled My Name Was Skulthor, brings forward an anguished anti-hero Skulthor with his dark thoughts and evil feelings consuming his mind, with all that negativity flowing from the song’s low-tuned bass lines and obscure vocals. There’s no happiness in sight, only the melancholy and sadness of a fallen warrior beautifully turned into first-class Doom Metal by Temptation’s Wings, concluding the album majestically. Actually, if you buy the CD version of the album, you get as a nice bonus from the band a 2-minute acoustic instrumental track named Solitude (inserted between “Lair of the Gorgon Queen” and “Treachery of the Blind Raven”), a simple but very positive extra touch to the album in my opinion.

You can take a detailed listen at Skulthor Ebonblade on YouTube, follow the band on Facebook, and purchase the epic, rumbling adventures of Temptation’s Wings through their BandCamp page or official website, as well as on iTunes. Although no one truly knows what lies ahead for Skulthor, we all know for sure that, no matter what destiny brings to our fallen warrior, the skillful minstrels of Heavy Metal known as Temptation’s Wings will be there to tell us another gripping story of violence, death and revenge through their kick-ass music.

Best moments of the album: I’ Destroyer, Lair of the Gorgon Queen and My Name Was Skulthor.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Burning of Hjalmar 1:24
2. I’ Destroyer 7:03
3. Into the Maelstrom 6:25
4. To Forge a Legend (Ulfbehrt) 7:46
5. Lair of the Gorgon Queen 6:03
6. Treachery of the Blind Raven 4:40
7. Witches of Dredmoor 9:40
8. My Name Was Skulthor 6:44

CD bonus track
6. Solitude 2:18

Band members
Micah – vocals, guitars
Chad – bass
Jason – drums

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Album Review – Lascar / Saudade (2017)

Blending modern elements of extreme music with feelings of loss, fragility and desperation, this one-man band from Chile offers us a unique interpretation of the apparent conflict on the naturalistic experience.

Hailing from the alluring city of Santiago, the capital of the mighty Republic of Chile, here comes a Post-Black Metal one-man army that goes by the name of Lascar, who since 2014 has been delivering truly captivating music by blending modern elements of extreme music with feelings of loss, fragility and desperation, offering a unique interpretation of the apparent conflict on the naturalistic experience. After the releases of the demos Lascar (2014) and Depths (2015), followed by the band’s debut full-length album Absence (2016), it’s time for Lascar, the brainchild of Chilean multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Hugo, to mesmerize us once again with beautiful Atmospheric Black Metal in the full-length opus Saudade, a Spanish word that can be translated as “yearning” or “nostalgia” (albeit there’s no specific word for it in English), implying a sense of abandon and a nostalgic mourning manifested within an artistic environment.

The opening track, entitled Tender Glow, is Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest, bringing forward a bucolic start with the sound of the guitar thoroughly blended with the wind while the music remains gloomy, desperate and anguished at all times thanks to the demonic gnarls by Gabriel, who effectively vociferates the song’s poetry-like lyrics (“The sun expands through the morning air / with its astral constant energy. / Ornaments of ice melts / through the cracks of crystal moments in an hyperbole. / A heartbeat rumble through a fragile atmosphere. / Echoes of lost dreams trespassing the ethereal. / Seasons of purple blossoms falling through the hands of time. / Ornaments of ice melts / through the cracks of crystal moments in an hyperbole.”). Thin Air continues from where the first song ended, impregnating the air with visceral blast beats, old school Black Metal riffs and tons of agony and melancholy, resulting in a wall of dark sounds built up by several distinct layers that will crush your soul mercilessly. Furthermore, Gabriel keeps growling like an uncanny entity until a gentle break brings some peace to our minds, with this paradox of negative emotions and gentle sounds being absolutely fantastic.

The third track of the album, Uneven Alignment, couldn’t start in a more melancholic manner, with its smooth sounds and nuances mesmerizing our senses before Gabriel returns with his visceral roars and frantic drums. Put differently, this is a solid and beautiful depiction of modern Black Metal with Gabriel taking us all on a whimsical journey through the obscure realms of Lascar. And lastly, the acoustic guitar by Gabriel kicks off the final breath of Post-Black Metal in Saudade, a 14-minute aria named Bereavement, showcasing all elements from Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal fused with traditional Doom and Black Metal, with devastation and despair flowing from all instruments from start to finish, therefore ending the album on the highest note imaginable.

It’s quite difficult to express in just a few lines what the music by Lascar truly represents, which means that, if I were you, I would definitely go take a very detailed and focused listen at Saudade in its entirety on YouTube, as well as follow Lascar on Facebook. Hence, in case Saudade has all the elements you’re searching for in obscure extreme music, you can purchase a copy of the album at Lascar’s BandCamp page, at the ATMF’s BandCamp page or webstore (as a regular CD, a regular LP, or a collector’s edition translucid purple vinyl LP with white speckles), at the Throne Records’ webstore or at Discogs. The feeling of loss followed by a strong and deep sense of yearning might not be something easy to deal with inside ourselves, but with the lugubrious music by Lascar as the soundtrack at least we have a very good reason to let those feelings and thoughts consume our minds in the darkest way possible.

Best moments of the album: Thin Air and Bereavement.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 A Sad Sadness Song

Track listing
1. Tender Glow 10:25
2. Thin Air 8:49
3. Uneven Alignment 8:34
4. Bereavement 14:25

Band members
Gabriel Hugo – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Theurgia / Transformation (2017)

Descend into the crypts of Hades to the sound of the perturbing and dense Black Metal brought forth by this ruthless Venezuelan horde.

Forged in the scorching fires of Maracaibo, Venezuela in 2014 from the ashes of a band called Daemonhorn, but currently located in Colombia, old school Black Metal horde Theurgia are among us to blast pure hatred and violence with the release of their debut full-length album, titled Transformation. Recorded at Fenix Estudio in Barranquilla, Colombia, mixed and mastered at Dae Home Studio, and featuring an ominous album art created by John Quevedo Janssens (with the art in the digital edition being designed by the band’s own vocalist and guitarist Daemonae), Transformation brings all elements that make traditional Black Metal so compelling and menacing, helping the band carve their name in the history of underground South American extreme music.

The word “Theurgia” is the Lesser Key of Solomon (also known as Clavicula Salomonis Regis) called “Ars Theurgia Goetia”, the invocation of 31 demonic entities (those being emperors, dukes, kings and princes) with special characteristics. With such an imposing name, the music by Theurgia couldn’t sound more perturbing and dense than what they offer us in Transformation, with their lyrics talking about important topics such as general philosophy and war (in full gear). In the 40 minutes of visceral, disturbing music of the album, the band comprised of lead singer and guitarist Daemonae, guitarist Mortum P., bassist Teuterastus and drummer Hellbeats deliver an enraged message to the world, stating that darkness is upon us and there’s nothing we can do to avoid our grievous fate. In other words, if you’re searching for high-end raw old school extreme music or even the perfect soundtrack to the apocalypse, Transformation has exactly what you need to enfold your darkest and most villainous thoughts.

An intro directly from the pits of hell, titled The Torch ov Creation, announces devastation is about to break loose in ILV (The Verb of Waters), which begins in a doom-ish mode until Daemonae starts to fire his blackened growls while Hellbeats lives up to his own moniker on drums, with the music gradually evolving to raw and furious old school Black Metal. If that solid start is not heavy enough for you, the title-track Transformation presents the Venezuelan quartet on their most menacing beast mode, with Mortum P. delivering truly infernal riffs that effectively complement the demented drumming by Helbeats. Put differently, this full-bodied ode to darkness will offer your ears a chaotic havoc of Black Metal sounds led by the aggressive gnarls by Daemonae.

Transmutation (Of Synesthetic Formula) brings forward more of the band’s evil and obscure sounds, with Daemonae vociferating like a demonic entity while Teuterastus and Hellbeats threaten us all with their rumbling instruments, disturbing our senses until the songs climatic ending. Then we have My Oeneric Dreams, a short, ominous bridge to the visceral Procesio IV – Monotonous Chant, another song that begins in a Doom Metal fashion before exploding into a haunting feast of Black and Death Metal. This is a top-notch blackened aria where Hellbeats sets fire to the musicality with his drums, while Mortum P. distils his sulfuric riffs mercilessly. If you’re a fan of vile Blackened Death Metal, this song is simply tailored for your avid inner demon.

There’s no time to breathe with an onrush of crushing extreme music named Procesio V – Dolorvm, presenting an imposing sonority generated by the mesmerizing Black Metal riffs by Mortum P. and the unearthly bass by Teuterastus; followed by Procesio VI – Mea Spíritus in Opium (the creation of our souls before apparent orthodox existence), where the band gets to a truly demented level, delivering high dosages of putrid gnarls, devilish riffs and blast beats, resulting in a scathing descend into the crypts of Hades with Theurgia, therefore ending the album on a high note. And as a bonus track to the physical version of the album we have their cover version for Dissection’s Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane (check the original version HERE), taken from the tribute album “In Memory of Jon Nödtveidt – A Tribute to Dissection”, bringing all the fury of the original song by Dissection with Theurgia’s own perverse twist.

You can easily join the dark side of South American Extreme Metal by following Theurgia on Facebook and YouTube, and purchase your copy of Transformation, which you can listen in its entirety HERE, through the Throats Productions’ BandCamp, the Worship Tapes’ webstore, the Esfinge Records’ webstore or at Discogs. And after listening to Transformation, may your soul never be in peace again.

Best moments of the album: ILV (The Verb of Waters), Transformation and Procesio IV – Monotonous Chant.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Throats Productions/Worship Tapes

Track listing
1. The Torch ov Creation (Instrumental) 0:54
2. ILV (The Verb of Waters) 5:56
3. Transformation 7:27
4. Transmutation (Of Synesthetic Formula) 6:20
5. My Oeneric Dreams (Instrumental) 0:41
6. Procesio IV – Monotonous Chant 7:39
7. Procesio V – Dolorvm 5:25
8. Procesio VI – Mea Spíritus in Opium 5:49

Physical Edition bonus track
9. Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane (Dissection cover) 5:19

Band members
Daemonae – vocals, lead guitars
Mortum P. – rhythm guitars
Teuterastus – bass, backing vocals
Hellbeats – drums

Album Review – Biesy / Noc Lekkich Obyczajów (2017)

Enjoy this concept album about how urban life can separate us from reality and how at the same time it gives us freedom to cross its boundaries, all enfolded by first-class blackened music made in Poland.

“Biesy were born out of everyday working, urban and monotonous realities. The project explores how urban concrete life can separate you from reality, but at the same time enables you to cross its borders. This is not the place for faith – there is no time nor will. During the night people go astray and willingly drown among the masses on the streets. In the morning they fall down to create a passage for everything that is wonderfully common and hideously sincere. However, it is not certain if they even left the room.”

Those poetic words work as a classy introduction to the core essence of Black/Death Metal act Biesy, a brand new project formed in 2014 in Cracow, Poland by lead singer Stawrogin, guitarist, bassist, songwriter and lyricist PR, and drummer Maciej Pelczar. Biesy translates to “fiends” or “demons” from Polish, and from that you can imagine how dark their music should sound in their debut full-length release Noc Lekkich Obyczajów, or “night of weak morals” in English, a concept album about how urban life can separate us from reality and how at the same time it gives us freedom to cross its boundaries, as mentioned above, all enfolded by an ominous and depressive form of extreme music not recommended for the lighthearted. Add to that the concrete gray layout designed by PR himself together with Mentalporn, the menacing logo created by Ihasan, and the fact that all songs are entirely sung (or maybe I should say growled or gnarled) in Polish, and there you have a distinct, full-bodied Extreme Metal ode to everything we love and hate in our concrete jungles.

In the opening track, titled Każdego Dnia (which should translate as “every day”), ominous sounds grow in intensity until the music morphs into the most vile form of Blackened Doom you can think of, with Stawrogin sounding truly demonic on vocals while PR does an amazing job with his mesmerizing guitar lines, resulting in a cold and beautiful display of extreme music that darkly flows into a climatic ending. In W Krew (which should mean something like “in blood”), the power trio switches to a more demolishing mode, blasting a Stygian fusion of Black and Death Metal led by Maciej, who showcases all his skills by delivering both rhythmic and sluggish punches as well as infernal blast beats. In the end, it becomes impossible not to have your heart darkened by this superb hymn. And it seems like peace and happiness are definitely two items you won’t find in the music by Biesy, which is exactly the case in Powroty (or “returns” in English), even more doomed than the two previous songs and with the vociferations by Stawrogin being extremely menacing. Put differently, it’s unhappy, melancholic and visceral Blackened Doom tailored for headbanging until you crack your neck in half.

The second batch of somber sounds by Biesy begins with Czerń Nas Prosi (or “blackness calls us”), the shortest of all tracks, feeling like a satanic invocation with Maciej firing some traditional Doom Metal beats while PR sounds hellish on both guitar and bass, not to mention Stawrogin’s evil gnarls; followed by Rzucony W Przestrzeń (which translates as “thrown into space”), the longest and most obscure of all songs, starting with a deep, enraged roar by Stawrogin. Not only this is a lesson in Extreme Metal where PR is insanely dark on guitars, but its heaviness keeps growing and growing until after around four minutes there’s a creepy intermission that goes on for another four minutes until the trio returns with all their fury and malignancy, with the vocal parts getting more deranged and evil, ending in the most obscure way possible. And if you think you’re safe from Biesy after all that darkness, you’re absolutely wrong, as they have one final onslaught of Black, Death and Doom Metal to disturb your mind and soul, the title-track Noc Lekkich Obyczajów, where Maciej takes his already devilish drumming to a whole new level of dementia accompanied by the lancinating riffs by PR. This fantastic album of extreme music couldn’t have ended in a better way than this, I must say.

In summary, it doesn’t matter if you speak fluent Polish or if you don’t know a single word in this distinct language, Noc Lekkich Obyczajów (which is available for a full stream on YouTube) is definitely worth a shot. What Biesy did in the entire album, uniting the aggressive and damned sounds of Death, Black and Doom Metal with the disorders and unpredictability of life in the city in a sharp and bold manner, deserves our total recognition and respect. You can buy your copy of Noc Lekkich Obyczajów on BandCamp, at the Third Eye Temple webshop or at Discogs, and after finally having the album on your hands, you can add the perfect soundtrack to spend your deranged nights in the city.

Best moments of the album: W Krew and Noc Lekkich Obyczajów.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Third Eye Temple

Track listing
1. Każdego Dnia 5:08
2. W Krew 6:38
3. Powroty 7:06
4. Czerń Nas Prosi 3:51
5. Rzucony W Przestrzeń 11:29
6. Noc Lekkich Obyczajów 7:59

Band members
Stawrogin – vocals
PR – guitars, bass
Maciej Pelczar – drums

Album Review – Eshtadur / Mother Gray (2017)

Overflowing rage, despair and electricity, the brand new album by this implacable Colombian act will certainly help the band cement their name in the Extreme Metal underground scene worldwide.

Formed in the fall of 2005 in Pereira, the capital city of the Colombian department of Risaralda, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Eshtadur has been on a roll since their inception, making a name for themselves in all four corners of the world with their unrelenting fusion of extreme sounds in the vein of bands such as At The Gates, Behemoth, Soilwork, Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh, always adding imposing and symphonic elements to their music to make it even more impactful to our ears. For instance, the band has already toured Colombia, Peru and Mexico, they headlined a stage at Rock Al Parque (which is not only the largest rock festival in Colombia and one of the most important in Latin America, but also arguably the largest free rock festival in the continent) in 2016, and they’re getting ready for their first ever US dates and many other festival appearances in the coming months.

Having already released the full-length albums Dominated by Dummies, in 2011, and Stay Away from Evil and Get Close to Me, in 2013, as well as their debut demo Rebellion of Angels, in 2007, and the EP Oblivion, in 2015, the band comprised of Jorg August on vocals and guitars, Alejo Bet on guitars, Victor Valencia on bass and Mauro Marin on drums is effectively expanding their exposure to the metal scene worldwide with their third full-length installment, the excellent Mother Gray, featuring a classy artwork designed by French artist Sylvain (Razorimages), guest guitar solos by Christofer Malmström (Darkane), and an endless amount of electricity and rage flowing from all their instruments, all led by the desperate growls by Jorg.

The heavy and dark guitars by Jorg and Alejo ignite the aggressive opening track Belong To Nowhere, a high-end fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Death and Melodic Death Metal where Mauro sounds possessed with his demonic blast beats while Jorg screams in a rabid and desperate manner throughout the entire song. Building an instant connection with the previous tune, Plaguemaker keeps the menacing aura crafted by the band even stronger, displaying a good balance of guitar lines, growls and potent drumming, while the keyboards in the background give it a Dimmu Borgir-inspired vibe; followed by the Melodic/Symphonic Metal aria Cornered At The Earth, where the band engages in their most sinister mode by deepening their growling and strengthening their beats, culminating in a violent and gripping rhythm boosted by its dark lyrics (“Gray the future and gray the earth / Dust in the soil, foil the religion / And the permanent conclusion of being the one who brings pest /Back to the world”). Whereas the Doom Metal-inspired Desolation brings forward a melancholic intro that slowly grows into an imposing sonority, as heavy and dense as it can be, with some faster moments to keep it fresh and vibrant. Moreover, the desperation flowing from the vocals is outstanding, going on and on until the song’s visceral ending to the sound of deep and putrid roars.

Getting back to a faster and more melodic sounding but still presenting the band’s characteristic symphonic elements, also showcasing fiery guitar riffs and solos as well as total havoc blasted by Mauro’s insane beats, the powerful Time Hole To Paris will certainly generate some sick mosh pits during their live concerts, while in March Of The Fallen we face an epic and somewhat funereal beginning to yet another ominous creation by Eshtadur, an eccentric “waltz” of Dark Metal with its keyboards and vocals taking the obscurity to a whole new level, again presenting more of those putrid gnarls before all is said and done. And as their “formula” seems to be one Stygian song followed by a sonic demolition, it’s time to speed things up again with the high-octane chant The Day After I Die, presenting slashing guitars blended with epic keys and rabid growls, without a single second of peace during its five minutes of sheer devastation.

As the first bonus track added by Eshtadur to Mother Gray, we have another symphonic extravaganza that will attack our senses named Heavens to The Ground (originally released in their 2015 EP Oblivion), with the guitars by Jorg and Alejo and the drumming by Mauro being in absolute sync, while the song’s keys make sure the atmosphere remains eerie for the otherworldly vociferations by Jorg.  The second bonus offered by the band is entitled Last Day Of The Condors, also from their EP Oblivion, sounding slightly similar to its predecessor (in special its guitar and vocal lines), not as tasty but still very enjoyable. And lastly we have a very cohesive, potent and fresh version they recorded in 2014 for Survivor’s hit Burning Heart (check out the original version HERE) featuring guest musicians Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork) and Christopher Clancy (Mutiny Within) on vocals, and Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) and Allan Marcus (Arecibo) on lead guitars. Survivor might be better known by the usual rocker for the all-time Rocky Balboa-classic “Eye of the Tiger”, but this song also represents all the passion Survivor had for rock music, not to mention this cover version is Eshtadur’s own tribute to Survivor’s longtime frontman Jimi Jamison (R.I.P.), who died of a heart attack in September 2014.

If you enjoyed all the fury blasted by Eshtadur in Mother Gray, I highly recommend you go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for more of their kick-ass music, and if you want to purchase Mother Gray (which you can listen in its entirety on Spotify), you can grab your copy of the album at the Bleeding Music Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes, on Amazon, or at several other locations such as Barnes & Noble and ImportCDs. As mentioned in the beginning of this review, Mother Gray overflows rage, despair and energy, and as you’re more than aware of, those are some of the main elements which make us love Heavy Metal so much. In other words, Eshtadur nailed it with Mother Gray, surely making all metalheads in Colombia proud of their music.

Best moments of the album: Belong To Nowhere, Cornered At The Earth and Time Hole To Paris.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Music Records

Track listing
1. Belong To Nowhere 3:27
2. Plaguemaker 4:28
3. Cornered At The Earth 5:01
4. Desolation 6:50
5. Time Hole To Paris 5:21
6. March Of The Fallen 7:32
7. The Day After I Die 5:06

Oblivion/Burning Heart bonus tracks
8. Heavens to The Ground 3:26
9. Last Day Of The Condors 3:15
10. Burning Heart (Survivor cover) 4:33

Band members
Jorg August – vocals, guitars
Alejo Bet – guitars
Victor Valencia – bass
Mauro Marin – drums

Guest musician
Christofer Malmström – guitar solos

Album Review – Aversio Humanitatis / Longing for the Untold EP (2017)

Expanding upon their Black Metal roots by embracing the ferocity of the most mutated and cursed Death Metal, this Spanish horde brings forth a violent and ferocious one-way journey into darkness with their brand new release.

“Time is an ever open wound, that never hurts the same twice.”

Since their inception in 2010 in the city of Madrid by a core and unchanged trio of mysterious locals, Spanish Black/Death Metal horde Aversio Humanitatis (Latin for “the loathing humanity”) has been slowly morphing into a beast of implausible proportions and of ungraspable intents, as they began to expand upon their Black Metal roots by embracing the ferocity of the most mutated and cursed Death Metal. This transcendental and abhorrent metamorphosis into otherworldly sonic tyrant fully sublimated in their 2017 EP Longing for the Untold, in which Aversio Humanitatis went from being a purely methodical and vaguely technical Black Metal band in the vein of Emperor, Satyricon and Abigor, to becoming something completely undefinable, shaped by the ever so apparent lineaments of an unquenchable black hole, a beast capable of harnessing the power of collapsing stars and of the very depths of Hades.

Originally released on CD in Spain only in early 2017, Longing for the Untold is by far the boldest and most Stygian opus by this idiosyncratic Spanish entity, surpassing their 2011 debut full-length album Abandonment Ritual in terms of heaviness, obscurity, chaos and aggressiveness. Now re-packaged with three bonus tracks from their 2013 split Three Ways of Consciousness (with Venezuelan/Chilean Black Metal act Selbst and Spanish Black Metal act Nihil) and with a new incredible artwork, Longing for the Untold brings forward a colossal behemoth of technically intimidating and sonically imposing Progressive Black Metal that lunges forth toward the listener with crushing force, levitating out of solid darkness. More than just an album, Longing for the Untold represents a place and time where the power of sound literally devours the senses, turning perception into a smoldering and swarming void of sensorial awe and of transcendental sonic disintegration.

The sensational title-track Longing for the Untold presents the fury of old school Black Metal mixed with atmospheric and menacing sounds, with vocalist and bassist A.M.’s dark guttural growls being spot-on, therefore enhancing the song’s obscurity and its wicked lyrics (“Time is an ever open wound / that never hurts the same twice / Twisted shards created by our will / shall open the flesh / in ways that may be poetry, or may be mundane / Since the shadow of our self is always / longer than our height / Since the pride of our self is always / shorter than our pain”), also showcasing truly infernal blast beast by drummer J.H. Prison of Shattered Glass feels a lot more doom-ish than the opening track, with A.M. and guitarist S.D. delivering pure evil through their strings. In other words, this is a lesson in Blackened Doom by this excellent Spanish entity, where the devilish background sounds, the ominous growls by A.M. and the sluggish beats by J.H. end up generating a sulfuric and disturbing ambience altogether, ending in a beautiful, Stygian way; whereas The Ever Shifting Path gets back to a more perturbing and belligerent sonority, with the Black Metal-inspired drumming by J.H. together with the hellish vociferations by A.M. being the main elements in this fantastic Extreme Metal aria, becoming even more impactful halfway through it.

Longing for the Untold BlackSeed Productions Edition

Closing this top-tier feast of obscure and extreme music we have the eerie Advent of the Inescapable, starting with an atmospheric, creepy intro before exploding into absolute hatred in the form of Black Metal, and that perturbing feeling goes on until the music fades into sheer darkness. Moreover, pay good attention to its lyrics, which are beyond perfect for the music played (“Transcend a fraudulent reality – / let fear and pain penetrate and go through / Deconstruct your being – / resign all perishable aspirations / Dissociation from all that surrounds you – / become an impassive entity / Accept your purpose in this world – / you are here to destroy and suffer”). As aforementioned, this new version of Longing for the Untold also contains three bonus tracks, all from their 2013 split Three Ways of Consciousness (Spears of Unlight, Psalms of the Wandering and Shrine of Involution), which add a 0.5 to the album’s overall score by offering more of Aversio Humanitatis’ undisputed fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with Doom Metal.

After paying a visit to Aversio Humanitatis’ Facebook page and YouTube channel to know more about this distinct act hailing from Spain and to get a better taste of their music, I’m sure you’ll promptly search the web for a copy of Longing for the Untold  (which by the way can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE, including all bonus tracks). Well, let me tell you that your hunt will be an extremely easy task, as the album is available for purchase at the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp or webstore, at the BlackSeed Productions’ webstore in black vinyl, white vinyl or cassette, on Amazon or at Discogs; as well as at the band’s own BandCamp and at the BlackSeed Productions’ BandCamp or webstore (with or without the bonus tracks). And when you finally have this fantastic album on your hands, get ready for a violent , never-ending and ferocious one-way journey into darkness.

Best moments of the album: Longing for the Untold and The Ever Shifting Path.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Track listing
1. Longing for the Untold 5:04
2. Prison of Shattered Glass 6:06
3. The Ever Shifting Path 5:36
4. Advent of the Inescapable 4:41

Vynil & Tape B-Side bonus tracks
5. Spears of Unlight 4:38
6. Psalms of the Wandering 5:34
7. Shrine of Involution 6:15

Band members
A.M. – vocals, bass
S.D. – guitars
J.H. – drums

Live musicians
N.H.T. – guitar, vocals
J.C. – bass

Album Review – Paradise Lost / Draconian Times (1995)

The best, darkest and most detailed album by one of the pioneers of Gothic and Doom Metal.

paradise_lost-draconian_times-frontI remember when I was a teenager that there was a stupid “urban legend” about the album Icon, by British Gothic/Doom Metal band Paradise Lost, selling more copies worldwide than Metallica’s Black Album. We all know that was pure bullshit, but one thing was true: with the albums Icon and especially Draconian Times, Paradise Lost became one of the most respected bands of the 90’s, being recognized as one of the pioneers of Gothic/Doom Metal and appearing as one of the main attractions in many festivals all over the world, something not seen very often taking into account the dark and sluggish music played by the band.

Draconian Times, as any other album from a similar genre and/or style, is not an easy product to be assimilated, mainly due to its obscure and depressive themes, and of course, its slow pace (you shall never expect to hear some fast drums in a Gothic song, my friend). However, it’s a brilliant Heavy Metal album with several amazing moments, even if you’re not a big fan of this type of music. The first track of the album, Enchantment, is an excellent summary of the band’s music, with a beautiful piano intro and excellent riffs throughout the whole song. It’s a great mix of Gothic and Doom Metal, with particular highlights to Nick Holmes’ powerful voice and the song’s somber lyrics (“In depth grasp the chains / Struggle as the waters gain but I… / All I need is a simple reminder) and eerie atmosphere.

The second track, Hallowed Land, is what we can call pure Doom Metal,  while The Last Time became an instant hit with its faster than usual rhythm and lyrics and chorus tailored for being sung loud by all fans at their shows (“It’s a cruel misfortune / Forbidding us to see / When stories may collide / It’s a sad state of mind / Heart’s beating… / Heart’s beating for the last time”). This might be considered their biggest hit, despite its a more commercial approach not being well digested by their diehard fans. Then we have Forever Failure and its lyrics that deal with the constant losses in our lives, a very depressive and slow song not recommended for people who have some kind of suicidal tendencies. Once Solemn closes the first part of the album in a brilliant way, being a fast tune with a very good rhythm, and more Heavy Metal than any of the other songs (sometimes even sounding like Metallica).

Paradise LostIf Draconian Times was comprised of only its first five tracks, it would have deserved a flawless 5.0. However, after that the album loses a little its energy and creativity, but nothing that makes it less compelling. Shadowkings has nice riffs and its pace is good, albeit not enough to outdo the previous songs, while Elusive Cure, sounds extremely Gothic, eerie and deep. The following track, called Yearn for Change, showcases an obscure but pleasant rhythm, while Shades of God goes back to the more melancholic approach of “Elusive Cure”, despite not being as solid and entertaining. Finally, we have Hands of Reason, with a very beautiful guitar solo embellishing its overall result, followed by the sluggish and damned I See Your Face, and the final track, Jaded, which is extremely melancholic and another good example of how slow and somber the union of Gothic and Doom Metal can be.

Many different special editions of Draconian Times have been released since the original version in 1995, all of them with some bonus songs, videos and other shenanigans. In addition, there’s a live album called Draconian Times MMXI, where the band plays the album in its entirety. If you cannot find any of the fancier versions of it, I suggest you at least search for the one that comes with The Sisters of Mercy cover Walk Away. It’s an amazing version for this classic song that’s worth the extra investment without a shadow of a doubt.

The front cover is beautiful and makes a great connection with the music in the album, representing all the sadness and sorrow found in the lyrics and rhythm. Another important thing is that despite being considered a Gothic band by many, very few songs have over 5 minutes in Draconian Times, making the album more “commercial” or at least easier for the radio stations at that time and MTV to play some of the songs during any of their daily programs. Those were good times when Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal were respected and admired, with Paradise Lost being competent (and lucky enough) to enjoy some fame in the world of mainstream music even playing mournful and unhappy sounds.

Best moments of the album: Enchantment, The Last TimeOnce Solemn and Walk Away.

Worst moments of the album: Shades of God.

Released in 1995 Music For Nations

Track listing
1. Enchantment 6:04
2. Hallowed Land 5:02
3. The Last Time 3:27
4. Forever Failure 4:18
5. Once Solemn 3:03
6. Shadowkings 4:41
7. Elusive Cure 3:21
8. Yearn for Change 4:19
9. Shades of God 3:54
10. Hands of Reason 3:58
11. I See Your Face 3:17
12. Jaded 3:26

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
13. Walk Away (The Sisters of Mercy cover) 3:24
14. Laid to Waste 3:16
15. Master of Misrule 3:07

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm and acoustic guitars
Steve Edmonson – bass guitar
Lee Morris – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Cristina Scabbia

Follow me, follow me… As I trip the darkness…

If you write her name with an “h”, she will kick your ass mercilessly. That’s probably the most fun way to introduce you to our beyond special Metal Chick of the Month, the electrified Italian rocker Cristina Scabbia, one of the most influential and reputable women in the entire world of heavy music and the perfect choice for celebrating four metallic and totally awesome years of The Headbanging Moose webzine this October. Owner of a distinct and very potent voice, Cristina Scabbia, whose full name is Cristina Adriana Chiara Scabbia, was born on June 6, 1972 in the cosmopolitan city of Milan, a metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region and a global capital of fashion and design. Best known as one of the two vocalists for Italian Alternative Rock/Metal band Lacuna Coil, Cristina is not only an accomplished singer and lyricist, but also a writer, a fashion model and, above all, a true headbanger who loves what she does and who has already devoted a good part of her life to Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Cristina was not even 20 years old when she began singing professionally as a touring musician for other bands and providing backing vocals, in 1991. Later that year, she met vocalist Andrea Ferro and bass player Marco Coti Zelati, who would be the future founding members of Lacuna Coil, in Milan’s Midnight Club, and there’s no way of talking about Cristina without talking about her unique connection with Lacuna Coil. Actually, when the band started it was called Sleep of Right, having recorded a song called Bleeding Souls for the Noise of Bolgia compilation in 1995. The band soon changed its name to Ethereal, playing an interesting mix of Gothic and Doom Metal, with Cristina being initially employed only as a session singer, being asked to record backup vocals for the choruses of their demo tape, but the band members liked the way the male and female vocals sounded together and they asked her to be a permanent member then. After several lineup changes and after releasing a two-track demo in 1996, Ethereal were signed by Century Media Records at the end of 1997 and had to change their name to Lacuna Coil (which means “empty spiral”), as Ethereal was already taken by a band from Greece.

After the name change in 1997, Lacuna Coil became a reference in Alternative Rock and Metal worldwide, having already released eight studio albums, those being In a Reverie (1999), Unleashed Memories (2001), Comalies (2002), Karmacode (2006), Shallow Life (2009), Dark Adrenaline (2012), Broken Crown Halo (2014), and more recently Delirium (2016), as well as the EP’s Lacuna Coil (1998), Halflife (2000), Shallow Live: Acoustic at Criminal Records (2010) and The House of Shame / Delirium (2016). In addition to that, the band also released a DVD in 2008, titled Visual Karma (Body, Mind and Soul). Each album by Lacuna Coil is very unique, presenting a different sonority from the others, with the band always adding new elements to their music and experimenting with new sounds. If you want to have a journey through the various phases of the band, paying a detailed attention to the evolution of Cristina (whose highest note ever hit is claimed to be an A7) as a singer and a performer, you should definitely check their songs Falling Again (from In a Reverie), Senzafine (from Unleashed Memories), Swamped (from Comalies), Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence (from Karmacode), I Like It (from Shallow Life), Trip to Darkness (from Dark Adrenaline), Nothing Stands in Our Way (from Broken Crown Halo), and Blood, Tears, Dust (from Delirium). As a matter of fact, there are so many official videos as well as bootlegs online with Cristina and Lacuna Coil you can literally spend hours or even days just watching everything nonstop.

Apart from her solid career with Lacuna Coil, Cristina can be seen in several distinct projects from the most diverse bands and genres, and in all of them she adds her personal touch of rebelliousness, passion and electricity. First let’s talk about her participation in metal-related bands and projects, and then let’s show what she can do when she’s not in her metallic mode. In 2007, Cristina lent her voice to the song S.O.S. (Anything but Love), from the album Worlds Collide by Finnish Symphonic Heavy Metal band Apocalyptica, and the result was so interesting she ended up playing several live concerts with them in the coming years. And it seems the year of 2007 was very fruitful for her career outside Lacuna Coil, as she also recorded what’s probably her biggest non-Lacuna Coil hit, the revamped version of the all-time classic power ballad “A Tout le Monde”, this time named A Tout le Monde (Set Me Free), by American Speed Metal titans Megadeth, featured on their excellent album United Abominations. Needless to say, every time Megadeth and Cristina were in the same city or festival, they ended up playing that amazing song together for the delight of the fans at the venue, as I was able to enjoy during the 2012 version of Gigantour with Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil here in Canada.

You can also find Cristina in unique metal projects such as the character “The Mother” on the 2013 album The Theory of Everything, by Dutch Progressive Metal/Rock band Ayreon, and as a guest vocalist on the song Scars, by Thrash/Groove Metal project Metal Allegiance, from their 2015 self-titled album. In addition, Cristina is also one of the musicians interviewed on the 2007 documentary Over the Madness, a DVD that follows the career of British Doom/Death Metal icons Paradise Lost, including interviews from present and past band members, plus a host of others such as the aforementioned Cristina, Martin E. Ain, Aaron Stainthorpe and Alex Skolnick, presenting the band’s history from its formation up to 2006, in chronological order.

In regards to her contributions to non-metal acts, you can enjoy the charming and powerful vocals by Cristina on different songs such as Beautiful Lie, as a duet with Italian singer Emiliano Audisio (Line 77) to be part of the soundtrack for the 2013 Italian film Passione Sinistra; Nell’acqua, with Rezophonic; an alternate version of Watch Over You, with Alter Bridge; Basta!, with L’Aura and Rezophonic; Can You Hear Me?, also with Rezophonic; and I’m That, with Franco Battiato. By the way, when Cristina sang with L’Aura it was in 2008 at Festival di Sanremo, one of the most important pop festivals in Italy (if not the most important one). And you can also find some nice videos online of Cristina singing together with a Queen tribute band called Queenmania, such as in the all-time classics Bohemian Rhapsody and Under Pressure. And in addition to all that, she also used to write an advice column in the popular rock magazine Revolver, alongside the iconic American drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah).

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If you follow The Headbanging Moose you might have seen Cristina’s name as an inspiration for several of our previous metal chicks, just showing how important she is to the expansion of the presence of women in heavy music, but of course as any normal person she also has her idols and favorite bands in music. Among her main influences and names who contributed to her becoming a singer and pursuing a career in Heavy Metal, Cristina mentioned legendary bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Motörhead, as well as darker bands like Paradise Lost and Type O Negative. By the way, some of her favorite songs, those that really make a good amount of adrenaline rush through her body, are Motörhead’s Ace of Spades and Type O Negative’s My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, which despite being very distinct songs I have to agree that they surely put a smile on the face of anyone who enjoys some good old rock and metal. Of course Cristina as any other talented and professional artist listens to a lot of non-metal music, in special music from her homeland Italy, which in the end helps her diversify her vocals from song to song, explore new horizons and remain vibrant and relevant to the world of heavy music.

Slightly changing the focus to her personal life, many of you might think it’s a dream to date a woman like her, but as in any relationship there are always some hurdles and barriers to be overcome in order to keep the passion and love going on. Cristina has been in a relationship with Slipknot and ex-Stone Sour guitarist Jim Root for over 10 years already, but keeping that relationship fresh is not an easy task due to distance between them as they’re both very busy musicians who are always on tour (not to mention the fact that Root lives in Florida while Cristina resides in Italy). “Well, my lifestyle is challenging already,” Cristina explained. “Because I travel a lot and I work very hard. So you have to learn to live your life in a different way, but in a way that works for you. So for me to even think about a normal relationship would be something weird.” Before dating Root, she was in a relationship with Lacuna Coil’s own bassist Marco, and when they broke up let’s say it wasn’t easy for them to keep working together as a band, but fortunately as decent adults they overcame that “issue” and now they’re very good friends, loving each other in a different level.

Another interesting topic discussed by Cristina in one of her interviews was related to the recent deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, where she expressed her opinion about mental illnesses, from depression to dementia to other types of mental conditions, saying we should never judge the others’ decisions as there’s so much to understand about the whole situation before reaching any conclusion. That was also explored on Lacuna Coil’s latest album Delirium. “When we did Delirium, it was really important for us to treat it in the most respectful and delicate way possible,” said Cristina. “Because you can try to send a positive message and to try to tell people, ‘Oh, you should be positive all the time, you should be happy, you should overcome depression,’ and everything, but it’s not as easy as you speak. It’s way deeper than that and more complicated than this.”

As any good Italian woman, in special if that woman is born in the city of Milan, Cristina loves stylish clothes, trying on new make-up, taking care of her dark hair and everything else that’s a synonym to fashion. For instance, she considers her beauty and make-up signature the one she herself calls a “raccoon look”, or as described by Cristina, “a heavy sort of smokey eyes style with carbon black eyeshadow surrounding both whole eyes and heavily in the lower part of the eye as well.” She also mentioned that, because she likes to combine styles and to work with contrasts, she likes to observe everything around her and go to runway shows in Milan, listing as some of her style icons the always trendy Madonna and the very elegant and dark British and Irish designer Daphne Guinness. Furthermore, she said her make-up and outfit behavior is in constant change due to new products, styles and techniques that are always appearing in the market, stating that while thinking about a new look for her concerts she always takes into account several important factors such as if the clothes are easy to carry around, if they’re washable, and if they allow her to move a lot onstage. Also in the fashion world, American photographer Jeremy Saffer (an old-time friend of Cristina) invited her to be her calendar girl for the Halloween 2015 Special Edition of XPRESSIONS magazine, with the final result being beyond stunning, of course, being sold out in a really short time.

Regarding her preparation for getting onstage and spending a long time on the road during Lacuna Coil’s extremely busy agenda worldwide, Cristina said she doesn’t exercise a lot, saying she’s some sort of “lazy bum”, and that concentration is the most important part of the process for her together with some warming up exercises to keep her voice in good shape. She said travelling all the time and managing everything is definitely not for everyone, but it can be very rewarding if you love what you do. One funny thing connected to that hectic lifestyle is that Cristina collects all her flight boarding cards, saying that one day it will be nice to see and to show others how much she’s traveled in her life. And, in terms of the apps she uses regularly, apart from Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Twitter, she’s also been using an app named Master Tour, which she considers very helpful for whoever does her type of job, keeping you updated on tours and schedules like a tour book in your smartphone. Hence, if you’re a touring musician, why not trying the same app as the successful Cristina Scabbia, right?

Lastly, when asked if she considers herself a role model for young girls, she said she doesn’t see herself as one but that all the love she gets from fans when she’s on the road makes her sometimes believe she might be indeed an inspiration for all of them. She always tells them that they have to believe in themselves because, no matter what, it is impossible to make everyone happy, so the key is to make ourselves happy and conscious of our own unique potential, with her motto in life being “live in the present and make it beautiful. I never think too much about the past or the future. The past is… gone and we will never be able to plan the future the perfect way.’’ What do you think about Cristina and her way of life? Do you agree with what she does and thinks in music and life in general? Well, there are tons of interesting interviews and videos of Cristina online to help you know more about her, such as this one from Loudwire called Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?, where she even tells if her highest note being an A7 is true or not. It seems that the world of heavy music and also the whole cyberworld can never get enough of the one and only Italian stunner Cristina Scabbia (without an “h”, per favore).

Cristina Scabbia’s Official Facebook page
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Twitter
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Instagram
Lacuna Coil’s Official Facebook page
Lacuna Coil’s Official YouTube channel
Lacuna Coil’s Official Instagram

“You have to sing with your heart, you have to sing with passion, you have to be sincere in what you’re singing, and you have to be totally convinced of what you’re doing. Most of all, you have to realize that this is a hard job that not everyone can take, so don’t look at the shiny part only, because there is a lot of work involved and a lot of sacrifice, so be ready for that as well..” – Cristina Scabbia

Album Review – Hexis / Tando Ashanti (2017)

Behold the epitome of Blackened Hardcore offered by a distinct Danish act, channeling pure darkness throughout 40 minutes of doomed sounds and noises split in 11 obscure compositions.

Hexis (ἕξις), a Greek word important in the philosophy of Aristotle (and because of this a traditional word of philosophy), is a relatively stable arrangement or disposition, for example a person’s health or knowledge or character. However, since 2010 the word has also been used to describe a distinct band from the city of Copenhagen, in Denmark, playing a mix of Hardcore and doomy Black Metal and singing about topics such as nihilism, anti-Christianity and abstract thought. Across their history, the band has played over 300 shows in the United States, Canada, Japan, Cuba, Russia, the UK and all over Europe, showing how appreciated their unique and obscure music is worldwide.

Following the success of their first full-length album Abalam, from 2014, as well as many other EP’s, demos and split albums released through the years, Hexis return with their second full-length installment, titled Tando Ashanti, the epitome of Blackened Hardcore channeling pure darkness in the vein of Celeste and Oathbreaker and the start of an almost year-long worldwide tour for 2017, released through Halo of Flies in North America and Alerta Antifascista Records in Europe. Furthermore, Hexis are one of those bands where informing their lineup is definitely an item of very low importance to them, which means the names featured on this review might not be accurate. What seems to be their current lineup is Filip on vocals, Victor Kaas on guitars, Luca Mele on bass and Tommaso Rey on drums, but if these names are somehow incorrect I apologize for that. Anyway, it’s the music that really matters, don’t you agree?

Distorted sounds and an apparent lack of hope permeate the air in the intro Tando, when we’re suddenly attacked by Hexis in Ashanti, with the lancinating riffs by Victor together with the demented beats by Tommaso creating a beyond belligerent atmosphere perfect for the irreligious lyrics growled by Filip (“Faithless. But yet you pray in hope that your nightmares will disappear, that these images will leave your head, leave your mind. Tied into anxiety, tied into hopelessness. Surrounded by flies, surrounded by thousands of eyes. Faithless. God is not here today.”). Molestus also begins in full force, a visceral amalgamation of heavy sounds and piercing noises by Filip and his crew, with highlights to the crude riffs by Victor and the rhythmic drumming by Tommaso; whereas Ritualis, albeit following a similar pattern, sounds sharper and more aggressive, which in the end boosts its impact on the listener, not to mention its old school Black Metal riffage and endless obscurity as its main ingredients.

Calamitas represents brutal devastation in the form of music, blending the most violent elements from Black Metal, Hardcore and Neocrust in a fantastic spawn of extreme music by Hexis, with the vocals by Filip sounding extremely demented; followed by Nocturnus, where heavier-than-hell riffs are quickly joined by frantic drums in another brutal creation. Moreover, their sonic havoc suddenly gives place to a slow-paced Doom Metal-ish musicality led by the low-tuned bass by Luca Melo, but all hell breaks loose again for our total delight. And it looks like Hexis mastered the art of crafting bold and devilish songs with less than three minutes like what we face in Opacus, presenting more of the band’s austere lyrics (“As shadows it passes by, creating what is his, taking what was yours. Purging the body, the body of the heartless. Immerse them, immerse the victims, immerse all life, the fragile souls. The shadows they pass, purging the souls.”). Can you imagine this song with a dark orchestra in the background? I can, and just the idea is already beyond awesome.

Cordolium, the longest of all tracks, comes crushing with a hurricane of distorted guitar sounds, slow and menacing beats, and the vociferations of Filip, and that negativity and despair goes on for the song’s six obscure minutes, growing in hostility until its resonant ending, which builds an instant connection with the demonic Resurrectio, with Filip being accompanied by only an eerie background noise and a few isolated beats. In the end, it’s just noise and feels a bit like filler, albeit it makes some kind of sense when put together with all other songs from the album. Luckily, in the belligerent Septem the band gets back to a more Hardcore sonority, delivering modern Black Metal riffs with progressive drumming and hellish gnarls, not to mention the guitars by Victor which are a demonic work-of-art. And ending this eccentric spawn of blackened sounds we have another intense creation named Praesagium, showcasing an amazing job done by Tommaso with his intricate beats, all the malignancy flowing from Filip’s grasps, and a truly Stygian ending in one of the most complete and visceral of all songs.

There are so many places where you can buy your copy of Tando Ashanti in different formats I might have forgotten a few of them on my list, but here we go anyway. You can get the album at Hexis’ BandCamp, at the Alerta Antifascista Records’ BandCamp, at the Init Records’ BandCamp or webshop, at the Halo of Flies’ BandCamp or webshop, at the Bloated Veins’ Big Cartel, on Amazon or at Discogs. Tando Ashanti might be considered by many the most complete, detailed and obscure work by Hexis to date, which is something I have to agree with. I don’t recall listening to such piercing and multi-layered Blackened Hardcore before, and let’s hope Hexis keep taking their aggressiveness and creativity to new heights for many years still to come.

Best moments of the album: Ritualis, Calamitas, Opacus and Praesagium.

Worst moments of the album: Resurrectio.

Released in 2017 Halo of Flies/Alerta Antifascista Records

Track listing
1. Tando 2:16
2. Ashanti 5:24
3. Molestus 2:37
4. Ritualis 2:46
5. Calamitas 1:59
6. Nocturnus 4:58
7. Opacus 2:24
8. Cordolium 5:54
9. Resurrectio 2:27
10. Septem 2:31
11. Praesagium 5:28

Band members
Filip – vocals
Victor Kaas – guitars
Luca Mele – bass
Tommaso Rey – drums

Album Review – Gravewards / Subconscious Lobotomy EP (2017)

Enjoy 22 minutes of destructive Death Metal delivered by a Greek power trio aiming at unleashing metal music with tons of groove and vile vibes, blended with technical and aggressive thrash sounds and their own twisted atmosphere.

And the endless source of high-quality metal music that is the Hellenic Republic brings to us another recently born Death Metal act that goes by the interesting name of Gravewards, a Death Metal power trio based in the capital Athens and formed in late 2015. Aiming at unleashing metal music with tons of groove and vile vibes heavily influenced not only by old school Death Metal, but also by technical and aggressive thrash sounds blended with their own twisted atmosphere, this Greek band is the latest option in the market for fans of bands such as Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Death and Benediction.

Recorded at Made In Hell Studio in Athens in late 2016, and featuring a straightforward, dark artwork By Czech designer Vojtěch Moonroot Doubek (Moonrot Art), the debut demo by Gravewards, titled Subconscious Lobotomy, will bring to your avid ears 22 minutes of destructive Death Metal split in four original creations by the band, working as a solid warmup for their upcoming releases. Those guy might be “just” a power trio, but the amount of energy and aggressiveness they put into making their music feels like they’re a full-bodied band with five or even more members. Be ready to get smashed by Nikos on vocals and guitars, Fotis on bass, and Vasilis on drums, and enjoy the demonic music by another band that proudly carries the flag of Greek Metal wherever they go.

Distorted lines and a hostile ambience are the background for Nikos and his bandmates to begin crushing with their visceral Death Metal in Casket Entrapment, also presenting hints of Doom and Sludge Metal to make things even more interesting. Moreover, Nikos sounds like a rabid beast on vocals, while Vasilis punishes his drums mercilessly during the whole song. In the next song of the EP, the heavy and sluggish title-track Subconscious Lobotomy, not only the rumbling bass by Fotis together with the blackened guitars by Nikos dictate the rhythm, but it also has a primeval vibe perfect for breaking your spine headbanging. Put differently, this is the type of song that offers the listener a very cohesive sonority with that raw punch we always look for in good quality Death Metal.

Sounding even more enraged and demented than before, Nikos keeps growling like a beast while Fotis and Vasilis set the desired ambience for his vile gnarls in Crawling Chaos, a showcase of almost seven minutes of a groovy and violent bloodshed the likes of Obituary, Entombed, Unleashed and several other classic acts that play old school Death Metal. And lastly, Deathwomb Incubation begins with an eerie female voice followed by melodic guitars in a gripping rhythm, gradually becoming a menacing spawn of evil Death Metal with the desperate, deep growls by Nikos penetrating your mind while Fotis and Vasilis keep shaking the earth with their low-tuned weapons until the song’s vibrant and abrupt ending.

In summary, Gravewards have just risen from the pits of hell and are definitely here to stay, disturbing our peace with the ruthless and gruesome Death Metal found in Subconscious Lobotomy, giving a very good sense of the destructive path this honest and hardworking Greek power trio might take in their future releases. If you are curious to know more about the band, go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and in case you’re an admirer of underground extreme music you can purchase their debut demo at Discogs or at the Dying Victims Productions’ webstore. I’m sure the guys from Gravewards will appreciate your support, which will certainly fuel them for keeping delivering crushing Death Metal to your ears.

Best moments of the album: Subconscious Lobotomy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Casket Entrapment 5:38
2. Subconscious Lobotomy 4:08
3. Crawling Chaos 6:37
4. Deathwomb Incubation 5:19

Band members
Nikos – vocals, guitars
Fotis – bass
Vasilis – drums