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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Aural Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Arx Atrata / The Path Untravelled (2019)

Close your eyes and enjoy this Atmospheric Black Metal beast by a talented UK-based one-man army, bringing the beauty of vast and unspoiled landscapes and cold, cleansing winds to our hearts.

Wherever you may be in your life, the music by British Atmospheric Black Metal one-man band Arx Atrata can open a window onto that moment of hope and clarity you have always been searching for, bringing the beauty of vast and unspoiled landscapes and cold, cleansing winds to your heart, therefore being highly recommended for fans of the music by Winterfylleth, Ashbringer, Imperium Dekadenz and Agalloch, to name a few, or simply for those who still seek magic beneath the trees and under the stars. Formed in 2010 in Nottingham, a city in central England’s Midlands region, by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ben Sizer, Arx Atrata is offering to your avid ears and soul now in 2019 his third full-length opus, entitled The Path Untravelled, the follow-up to his debut album Oblivion, from 2013, and his sophomore installment Spiritus in Terra, from 2016, featuring a darkly stylish artwork by British artist Ellie Mowforth (Namurian Visions). With The Path Untravelled, Ben has unveiled even more of the qualities that have delighted fans and reviewers so far on his journey, digging deeper, reaching further and dreaming in even more vibrant colors to create something truly special.

The soothing sounds of nature and acoustic guitars invade our senses and grow in intensity in the instrumental intro MCMLXXVII until To Be Reborn comes crushing with its strident, razor-edged guitars and Doom Metal-inspired beats in an absolutely atmospheric, captivating and aggressive manner, also presenting lyrics that exhale melancholy (“A once-proud people, now brought to their knees / Their downfall created by their own hand, it seems / The end was coming quicker than foretold / The tears of young and old were heard throughout the land”). In An Undying Verse, the talented Ben keeps blasting his obscure and melodic Black Metal for our total delight, generating an enfolding ambience full of somber passages, demonic roars and crisp riffs, and let me tell you that Ben does a fantastic job matching the sharp sounds of his guitar with his anguished gnarls, with all background keys and ethereal elements bringing an extra touch of delicacy to the overall result, building an instant connection with the title-track The Path Untravelled, a grandiose display of classic Atmospheric Black Metal that instantly darkens our hearts and fills our souls with melancholy and grief. Moreover, the song also brings forward minimalist piano notes amidst potent doomed beats and hellish vociferations, resulting in a voyage through dark and desolate lands that goes on for over ten minutes of awesomeness.

Elmet is another stunning creation by Ben, showcasing a very melodious and pleasant rhythm where his riffs sound more acute and austere than ever, not to mention his blast beats and whimsical keys, inspiring us all to close our eyes and let his music embrace us completely. Brethren And Betrayer, the second to last aria in The Path Untravelled, presents the most gentle intro of all songs, evolving into a heavy but utterly harmonious display of extreme music where Ben once again delivers a lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal with his deep gnarls and endless obscurity, whereas the final song The Wraith already beings in full force, setting the tone for Ben to darkly declaim its pensive lyrics (“Beyond our knowledge there is a lost place / And none who reach there will ever return / Here he stands / Stalwart protector of all his lands / Until the end / At his hand, enemies were vanquished / Until he could fight no more / The spirit endures… the body is weak”). All instruments are in perfect sync throughout this superb composition, where not even a single space is left empty in its over ten minutes of metallic, ambient and Stygian sounds and tones, majestically flowing until an epic and somber finale.

Once again we’re having the pleasure of facing a multi-talented, hardworking musician that “multiplies” himself in order to generate full-bodied and dense musical beasts to metalheads like us, and if I were you I would definitely show my appreciation and support to Ben and his Arx Atrata by purchasing The Path Untravelled from his own BandCamp page and by listening to it in full on Spotify, as well as by following him on Facebook. If Ben’s main goal with his Arx Atrata is to take us all to unexplored, bitterly cold lands where we can isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and finally find our inner light or darkness, let’s say he more than succeeded with The Path Untravelled, leaving us stunned and, consequently, eager for the next step in his vibrant musical journey through the vast world of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: An Undying Verse and The Wraith.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. MCMLXXVII 2:27
2. To Be Reborn 5:52
3. An Undying Verse 8:17
4. The Path Untravelled 10:15
5. Elmet 8:51
6. Brethren And Betrayer 6:44
7. The Wraith 10:41

Band members
Ben Sizer – vocals, all instruments and synths

Album Review – Sun Of The Dying / The Earth Is Silent (2019)

A driving force of Doom Metal from Spain is ready to show us all how solitude, grief and serene landscapes can be translated into first-class extreme music.

There’s nothing like a good dosage of Death and Doom Metal to make any Friday the 13th even darker and more enjoyable, don’t you agree? And that’s exactly what Madrid, Spain-based six-piece horde Sun Of The Dying is offering us all with their sophomore full-length opus The Earth Is Silent, the follow-up to their 2017 debut album The Roar of the Furious Sea. Formed in the year of 2013 as a side project between former vocalist Lavin Uruksoth (from CrystalMoors) and guitarist Daniel Fernández Casuso (from Apocynthion), Sun Of The Dying is highly recommended for fans of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Katatonia and Anathema, among others, blending their 90’s-rooted doom music with a more modern sound taken from bands like Shape of Despair, Ahab and Swallow the Sun, with the 45 minutes of extreme music found in The Earth Is Silent being a must-listen for admirers of such distinct style.

And the band now comprised of the aforementioned Daniel together with lead singer Eduardo Guilló, guitarist Roberto Rayo, bassist José Yuste, keyboardist David Muñoz and drummer Diego Weser really stepped up their game in their new album, featuring a minimalist and straightforward cover picture by Spanish photographer Miguel Urbaneja (Dissociated), and recorded, mixed and mastered at The Empty Hall Studio in Madrid. From grim, atmospheric passages to heavier-than-hell moments, The Earth Is Silent is a powerful statement that Sun Of The Dying are not just an average band, but a driving force of Doom Metal from the Spanish underground scene that’s ready to penetrate deep inside your soul and show you how solitude, grief and serene landscapes can be translated into first-class extreme music.

The sound of the waves give a raw touch to the somber intro The Earth Is Silent, darkening the skies for the Stygian anthem A Dying Light, which begins in a lugubrious way to the keys by David while Eduardo delivers a huge dosage of melancholy through his deep, clean vocals. In addition, Diego smashes his drums slowly and steadily in great Doom Metal fashion, with Eduardo’s cavernous roars bringing darkness to their crushing musicality. Speeding things up a bit and enhancing their background epicness and obscurity, the band offers us all A Cold Unnamed Fear, where the stringed trio Daniel, Roberto and José sound almost full Black Metal with their incendiary riffs in another brutal display of extreme music, with a delicate touch coming from David’s keys; and they continue their voyage through desolate and cold lands in Orion, where the sound of the guitars by Daniel and Roberto will mesmerize your mind throughout the song’s over eight minutes of solitude and ethereal passages, while Diego keeps the rhythm as sluggish and nocturnal as possible.

Showcasing lyrics that exhale hopelessness darkly vociferated by Eduardo (“When the morning came / There was no hope / There was no joy / When the morning came / The sun was white / Behind the clouds”), When the Morning Came brings forward an interesting paradox between the rumbling bass punches and whimsical keys generated by José and Davi, respectively, with the song’s last part being a brilliant ode to silence and nature; followed by Monolith, offering our ears an imposing an ominous background while at the same time leaning towards Blackened Doom, or in other words, a spine-chilling creation by the band filling every single space in the air with its phantasmagorical keys, flammable guitars and endless heaviness, not to mention its bitterly cold words declaimed by Eduardo (“Another day of calm and cold in this ship / waiting for a sign of mercy of our god / Meanwhile the ice bright like a silver knife / Behind the mist I suppose I see something dark / A cyclopean stone with many lights like stars”). And finally, the piano notes by David kick off the closing tune, entitled White Skies And Grey Lands, before Eduardo’s smooth vocals bring serenity to the music, with all instruments uniting in a climatic and thrilling sound exhibiting the strength of Doom Metal spiced up by the beauty of classical music.

If you’re a longtime fan of the grim and somber fusion of Doom and Death Metal played by bands like Sun Of The Dying, go show your support to those talented Spanish metallers by following them on Facebook, by listening to The Earth Is Silent in full on YouTube and on Spotify and, above all that, by purchasing your copy of the album from their BandCamp page, from Indiemerchstore.com (in CD or vinyl format), or simply click HERE for each and every location where you can find this excellent opus of extreme music. In a nutshell, Sun Of The Dying are not among us to bring happiness nor hope. Quite the contrary, the music found in The Earth Is Silent is the perfect representation of the harsh future that awaits us all in our decaying world, and of course that could only be done through the Stygian and cryptic sounds of our beloved Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: A Cold Unnamed Fear, When the Morning Came and Monolith.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 AOP Records

Track listing
1. The Earth Is Silent (Intro) 1:39
2. A Dying Light 8:23
3. A Cold Unnamed Fear 5:41
4. Orion 8:09
5. When the Morning Came 5:21
6. Monolith 8:47
7. White Skies And Grey Lands 7:22

Band members
Eduardo Guilló – vocals
Daniel Fernández Casuso – guitars
Roberto Rayo – guitars
José Yuste – bass
David Muñoz – keyboards, backing vocals
Diego Weser – drums

Album Review – Grand Magus / Wolf God (2019)

It’s time to worship the almighty Wolf God together with one of the most talented and hardworking bands of the Swedish metal scene.

Hailing from the stunning city of Stockholm, Sweden, Heavy/Doom Metal three-piece act Grand Magus has been delivering a powerful and thrilling amalgamation of styles such as Blues, Hard Rock, Heavy and Doom Metal since their inception in the now distant year of 1999 (or even 1996 if you consider their years under the name Smack as part of their current career), gathering a respectable fanbase through the years around the entire world of heavy music. For instance, their self-titled debut album Grand Magus, released in 2001, stirred up the underground to the point it is now considered to be a cult favorite, and now in 2019 the band comprised of Janne “JB” Christoffersson on lead vocals and guitars, Mats “Fox” Skinner on bass and backing vocals, and Ludwig “Ludde” Witt on drums returns in full force with Wolf God, the ninth album in their solid career and undoubtedly one of the most interesting and epic albums of the year. Drawing influence from bands such as Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Manowar, Grand Magus are absolutely focused, sharp and heavy-as-hell in Wolf God, blasting hymn after hymn for the delight of all lovers of the golden years of classic metal music.

With the majority of the songs being recorded on the first take at The Sweetspot Recording Studio in Sweden together with producer Staffan Karlsson (Arch Enemy, Firewind, Spiritual Beggars), Grand Magus achieved an honest, diverse and yet down-to-earth sound that envelops the trio’s true power, letting the music flow naturally throughout the album’s almost 40 minutes of undisputed Heavy Metal. “We decided to let go of the current philosophy to record drums first and then bass and then guitar etc. This time, we met up, jammed and created together during the last six months with the goal to record basic tracks live,” said the band about their newborn opus, and by enfolding it with the old school, aggressive artwork by American artist Anthony J. Roberts (Blackmindseye) the trio finally reached a new level of epicness that will certainly save a spot for them among the gods of metal.

Featuring orchestrations by Swedish musician Nico “Dyngwie” Elgstrand (guitarist for Entombed A.D.), who has already played acoustic guitars in a couple of tracks from their previous albums, Gold and Glory is a classy and epic intro to the howling title-track Wolf God, where Ludde pounds his drums in great Manowar-inspired fashion while JB delivers his trademark potent vocals, resulting in an old school metal song perfect for banging our heads while worshiping the Wolf God itself. And Fox’s thunderous bass take the lead in the also majestic A Hall Clad in Gold while Ludde continues to smash his drum set vigorously, not to mention all the passion and energy flowing from JB’s vocals, especially during the song’s absolutely catchy chorus.

Traditional, utterly metallic lyrics (“Ancient forces / Sleeping deep within my heart / Been searching / Through the ages in the dark / A secret / That will put me to the test / And guide me / So much stronger than the rest”) are the main ingredient in the headbanging tune Brother of the Storm, where JB fires pure electricity from his riffs while the beats by Ludde get more rhythmic and imposing, and you better keep banging your head like there’s no tomorrow in the incendiary Dawn of Fire, another classic, stylish Heavy and Doom Metal hymn led by JB’s crisp riffs and Fox’s rumbling bass. On a side note, I saw those guys playing this excellent tune live when they opened for Amon Amarth  here in Toronto, and it sounded beyond powerful and inspiring. Then putting the pedal to the metal the trio offers the circle pit-catalyst Spear Thrower, where we can enjoy Ludde’s berserk beats supporting the always pleasant vocals by JB, being tailored for fans of classic Heavy Metal while all is spiced up by JB’s piercing solos; whereas To Live and to Die in Solitude, one of the best songs in Wolf God with highlights to JB’s passionate performance and the unstoppable drums by Ludde, couldn’t be any more epic, vibrant and electrifying, or in other words, simply close your eyes and savor each and every note of such distinct ode to metal music.

A cryptic, semi-tribal intro evolves into another riff-fest titled Glory to the Brave, a beer-drinking, headbanging creation by the trio with Fox filling all spaces in the air with his bass jabs, perfect for raising your horns in the air together with Grand Magus, whereas in the thrilling He Sent Them All to Hel the skillful JB declaims the lyrics about a hero dealing with death and darkness in the aftermath (“First light in the morning – Foul smell of decay / He stands in silence – Nothing to say / Black ravens are calling / Flying high over head / Their wine is served by the dead / Once they rode together / Now he’s alone / Filling his soul with rage”), boosted by spot-on instrumental parts, endless stamina and the classic beats by Ludde, resulting in what’s in my humble opinion one of their best battle hymns of all time. And there’s nothing better than the pure Heavy Metal flowing from Untamed to close the album on a high note, showcasing a classic riffage and wild guitar solos by JB, while Fox and Ludde are on absolute fire on bass and drums, with the music flowing smoothly and powerfully until its epic finale.

It’s time for us all to praise the Wolf God, and we can do that by enjoying one of the best albums of 2019 in full on Spotify or by purchasing a copy of it from the Hamburg Records webstore or from the Nuclear Blast webstore. At this point of their career, we can all happily rest assured Grand Magus will never sell out, which means they’ll keep offering us all, lucky metalheads, precious gems of the underworld like Wolf God, bringing all their passion and respect for the gods of metal with each and every song of their albums and, more important than that, continuing to fight for Heavy Metal no matter what, always in the name of the almighty riff.

Best moments of the album: A Hall Clad in Gold, Brother of the Storm, To Live and to Die in Solitude and He Sent Them All to Hel.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Gold and Glory 2:18
2. Wolf God 3:49
3. A Hall Clad in Gold 5:02
4. Brother of the Storm 3:16
5. Dawn of Fire 5:12
6. Spear Thrower 2:55
7. To Live and to Die in Solitude 3:41
8. Glory to the Brave 5:15
9. He Sent Them All to Hel 3:37
10. Untamed 3:46

Band members
Janne “JB” Christoffersson – lead vocals, guitars
Mats “Fox” Skinner – bass, backing vocals
Ludwig “Ludde” Witt – drums

Guest musician
Nico “Dyngwie” Elgstrand – orchestrations on “Gold and Glory”

Album Review – Ploughshare / Tellurian Insurgency EP (2019)

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, here comes a cryptic Australian entity armed with their new EP blending a multitude of influences and sounds.

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, the brand new EP by Australian Black/Death Metal entity Ploughshare, entitled Tellurian Insurgency, is the perfect depiction of what this mysterious band hailing from Canberra, the capital city of Australia, stands for, always with open arms to a multitude of influences and sounds in order to serve a greater purpose, including Black, Death and Doom Metal mixed with Noise Rock, Post-Punk and even the darkest offshoots of Electronic Ambient. In the span of a little over 22 minutes, Ploughshare’s music flows impetuous and intense in Tellurian Insurgency, the natural follow-up to their 2018 full-length album In Offal, Salvation. Recorded and mixed by Elliot Johnson and Max Napier, mastered by MR and featuring a demonic artwork and layout by JR and RT, the new EP by this idiosyncratic Australian horde is not an easy listen at all for the average rock and metal fan, representing the band’s urge to reinvent themselves and bring something new to the listener with each and every album released, never sticking to a specific formula or style. “Ploughshare is what occurs when we come together as a band,” they explain. “We all bring material, but this will always undergo transformation once we’re together. The music emerges contingently, and in a manner that makes it impossible to inscribe our wills into it. We might all contribute, but we are equally all caught up in it.”

Ominous noises explode into sheer madness and chaos in the opening track Abreactive Trance, a demented voyage through the realms of Experimental Black Metal showcasing enraged vociferations, slashing guitar riffs and infernal blast beats, reeking of desperation and insanity while the music lives up to the legacy of modern-day extreme music. Then we have Indistinguishable Beast of Flight, even more experimental and progressive, with its vocal lines reaching a new level of dementia while the guitars sound utterly strident and piercing, or in other words, get ready for a multi-layered metal extravaganza that will please all fans of heaviness and noise, all spiced up by the gargantuan amount of intricacy flowing from the song’s beats and fills. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix), a new and interesting version for the title-track of their 2018 full-length opus, the disturbing and roaring sounds blasted by the band are infused with electronic noises and tones, resulting in a fresh and futuristic musical experiment albeit a the same time maintaining the core violence of the original version, whereas Xeno-Chemical Insider is another eerie composition by the band that sounds a lot more electronic than metal, which I’m pretty sure was the band’s original goal with this song.  Simply close your eyes and let Ploughshare penetrate deep inside your skin with their deranged screams, rhythmic beats and endless obscurity until the song’s ethereal and somber finale.

Although Ploughshare might be considered an unknown creature by many, you can still get in touch with them on Facebook to let them know how crazy you think their music is, and in order to show your support to this eccentric squad hailing from Australia you can purchase Tellurian Insurgency directly from their own BandCamp or from several other locations in different formats, such as the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp, the Brilliant Emperor Records’ BandCamp and Big Cartel, and the Metal Odyssey webstore. It’s almost impossible to predict what’s next for Ploughshare, but judging by the creativity and cohesiveness of the music found in the short but extremely diverse and thrilling Tellurian Insurgency, we can rest assured those metallers from Down Under won’t stop impressing us with their demented creations in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Indistinguishable Beast of Flight.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 I, Voidhanger Records/Brilliant Emperor Records/Night Rhythms Recordings

Track listing
1. Abreactive Trance 6:16
2. Indistinguishable Beast of Flight 5:22
3. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix) 6:01
4. Xeno-Chemical Insider 4:10

Band members
*Information not available*

Guest musician
VS – additional vocals on “Abreactive Trance”

Album Review – Cthonica / Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction (2019)

Witness the spiritual putrefaction of men in the form of raw extreme music, crafted by a cryptic Venezuelan duo that refuses to compromise or embrace standardized creation processes.

On their horrific debut opus entitled Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction, Venezuelan Black/Death Metal abominable duo Cthonica unravels almost an hour of blood-curling and slithering ritualistic aural terror the hideousness and repulsiveness of which has rarely been seen on this earth, being highly recommended for admirers of the extreme noise blasted by bands such as Immolation, Incantation, Beherit, Blasphemy and Portal. Adding hazy layers of purulent noise and sepulchral dark ambient murk to further disfigure their abhorrent creation, Cthonica have crossed a new threshold in Extreme Metal, setting an entirely new standard of sonic inversion with their raw and decaying sound, and taking the glorification and worship of death and perversion to an entire new realm of conceptual and audial atrocity.

Formed in the Venezuelan capital city of Caracas in 2016 by D.V. on guitars, bass and drums, and H.K. on vocals, noise, electronics, lyrics and concept, rising from the ashes of a previous incarnation of the project called Okkvlt, Cthonica are a proudly home-recorded project, both for necessity due to the precarious access to resources in the tumultuous Venezuelan society and general lack of most things out there, and for the complete refusal by the core duo behind the project to compromise or embrace standardized and commonly acceptable creation processes. Mixed and mastered at Necrosound Studio, and featuring an artwork of surreal visual horror by Venezuelan artist Bryan Maita (BMS Illustration), Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction deals with the Tehomic-Typhonian metamorphosis of every man’s reason through what they call “spiritual putrefaction”, or the progressive human corruption through the guidelines of opprobrious disciplines and their teachings, and even if you have no idea of what this means at all simply (try to) relax and enjoy over 50 minutes of first-class, utterly raw extreme music made in Venezuela.

Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction, which seems to be purposely split into two distinct parts, kicks off with the first act of the first part, Act I: The Chalice, sounding dissonant, disruptive and absolutely raw from the very first second. H.K. begins growling deeply and rabidly in great Death Metal fashion while D.V. does an amazing job with both his flammable riffs and demonic blast beats, generating a Stygian ambience that will crawl deep inside your skin like a putrid maggot, resulting in a very atmospheric experiment with phantasmagorical passages and creepy intermissions to make things even more mesmerizing. Act II: The Lantern begins in full force, with the duo smashing our souls with their crude Experimental Black Metal, and you can easily sense the dirtiness flowing from D.V.’s devilish riffage throughout the entire song. Furthermore, H.K. continues to fire gargantuan harsh gnarls like a beast in this brutal and disturbing ode to the void, followed by Act III: The Verb, just as gruesome and infernal as its predecessors, with D.V. unleashing pure obscurity from his Doom Metal beats. Put differently, it can’t get any more experimental than this, and it’s quite impressive how they captivate our senses no matter how lengthy and intricate their wicked creations might be. In addition, H.K. not only is a talented growler, but his background noises and tones also add an extra touch of lunacy to the music.

Featuring guest vocalist İanzél (Ancient Blood, Desesperanza, Precaria), IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation… (the first aria of the second part of the album) brings to your ears a humongous wall of blackened sounds that will crush you like an insect, with the guitars and bass by D.V. reaching a new level of malignancy and sulfur while H.K. darkly vociferates the song’s words from the very depths of the underworld. This is the perfect sample of what underground extreme music is all about, which can also be said about V:II: … for the Children of he Who Lurks Beyond Shall Not Witness This Showcase Of Glory…, showcasing a tribal and absolutely vile intro led by the scorching hot riffs by D.V. while H.K. fires his trademark enraged roars. Its strident riffs and solos, together with its crisp beats, generate a dense and furious sonority that flows smoothly until everything ends in the most aggressive and demented way possible. Then prepare your ears and minds for another onrush of obscurity and dementia in the form of raw Black Metal by the duo titled VI:III: … Not As Those Who Served and Preached in Obeisance., where visceral blast beats and riffs permeate the air, blackening your heart and thoughts while H.K.’s vocals get more and more deranged as the music progresses. And to properly conclude the album we have the cinematic outro VII: Ω De Derelictum Domum Sacrorum with its eerie noises, haunting screeches and demonic tones, putting a beyond devilish ending to such unique opus.

This precious and raw gem of underground extreme music made in South America can be appreciated in full on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would show my utmost support to H.K. and D.V. by purchasing Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction from one of the several locations where the album is on sale, such as the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp or webstore (if you fancy the vinyl format), the Cagliary Records’ BandCamp or webstore (for admirers of the cassette format), from the Clavis Secretorvm’s BandCamp or webstore in digipack format or as a black or white double LP, and Apple Music. The current state of Venezuela might be precarious and extremely delicate, but even facing all types of barriers and against all odds Cthonica managed to deliver an excellent debut album for our total delectation, proving once again that the underground is (and will always be) alive and kicking, and that the spiritual putrefaction of the human being can be useful at least as fuel when Black Metal is the music in question.

Best moments of the album: Act II: The Lantern and IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation….

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Clavis Secretorvm/Sentient Ruin/Caligari Records

Track listing
1.  Act I: The Chalice 11:19
2. Act II: The Lantern 7:49
3. Act III: The Verb 9:51
4. IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation… 6:34
5. V:II: … for the Children of he Who Lurks Beyond Shall Not Witness This Showcase Of Glory… 8:20
6. VI:III: … Not As Those Who Served and Preached in Obeisance. 5:30
7. VII: Ω De Derelictum Domum Sacrorum 2:57

Band members
H.K. – vocals, noise, electronics
D.V. – guitars, bass, drums

Guest musician
İanzél – additional vocals on “IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation…”

Album Review – Kaamos Warriors / Shadows Of Northern Chaos (2019)

All hail the Finnish warriors of the eternal night and their brand new album of Dark Metal, beautifully reflecting the coldness and melancholy of the North.

Formed as a duo by vocalist and guitarist Mikko Ojala (Crowned with Black, Dark the Suns, The Beauty of Darkened Hearts) and guitarist Jani Moilanen (R2JBros) in the beginning of 2018 in Kempele, a municipality just south of the city of Oulu in Northern Finland, the sinister Dark Metal unity known as Kaamos Warriors is unleashing upon humanity their second full-length opus entitled Shadows Of Northern Chaos, a follow-up to their debut album Ikuisen Talven Sarastus (or “the dawn of eternal winter” in English), released earlier this year. Now a three-piece band with the addition of bassist Jyri Moilanen to their lineup, Kaamos Warriors once again reflect the coldness and melancholy of the North in the eight dark and somber compositions found in  Shadows Of Northern Chaos, combining the bitterly cold elements from Atmospheric and Doom Metal to their core Black Metal essence. As a matter of fact, the word “kaamos” means “the polar night”, or the period of darkness north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle when the sun does not rise over the horizon, perfectly summarizing what the music by those Finnish metallers is all about.

Mikko and Jani generate a frosty and raw ambience with their riffs in the opening track Wolves in Storm, an ode to the North blending classic Black Metal with contemporary Blackened Death Metal and with Mikko’s vocals sounding deep and obscure just like the music demands. Then we have Chaos Walks the Earth, even darker and more demonic than its predecessor, with its guitars bringing the most visceral tones from classic Death Metal while Jyri’s bass lines sound absolutely ominous, therefore adding an extra dosage of malignancy to the music, all spiced up by spot-on blast beats and strident guitar solos. And get ready to crack your neck headbanging to the boisterous Chaos & Mayhem, where the brutal sounds of guitars and bass fill every single space in the air, resulting in a dense and violent atmosphere that leans towards Melodic Black Metal; whereas Ruined by Plague is a mid-tempo hellish hymn blasted by the trio with a huge focus on the very detailed work done on the guitars, which complemented by Jyri’s thunderous bass turns it into a storm of heavy music.

In the title-track Shadows of Northern Chaos this talented Finnish triumvirate goes full Black Metal, blasting our ears with an infernal sonority led by Mikko’s Stygian, guttural roars while its riffs add hints of melancholy and hopelessness to the overall result, and they keep slashing their strings in Where Shadows Grow, another classic Black and Death Metal composition showcasing spot-on beats, harsh gnarls and a perturbing, winter-like vibe, offering the listener a fusion of sheer aggressiveness and obscurity with a very pleasant melody. Ruins of Hope sounds as if Unleashed met Marduk and Behemoth for a jam session, with Mikko and Jani firing incendiary riffs from their axes while Jyri keeps delivering rumbling bass punches nonstop, and lastly the band fires Moon and Stars, one of the most melancholic and darkest of all tracks where you can feel the bitterly cold epicness of the North flowing from its riffs and beats, flirting with Doom Metal and remaining truly grim and dark until the very end.

If you enjoy this fusion of extreme music with the chilling, melancholic landscapes from the North crafted by Kaamos Warriors, you should definitely follow the band on Facebook, listen to more of their music on Spotify, and purchase their music from different locations such as Apple Music and Amazon. Shadows Of Northern Chaos might not be a masterpiece nor a revolution in Black and Death Metal, but it’s definitely a very good, cohesive and well-balanced album by those warriors of the never-ending northern night highly recommended for fans of the genre, and if in their first year of existence they were already capable of delivering two really entertaining full-length albums, I can’t wait to see what’s next in their promising (and wintry) career.

Best moments of the album: Chaos Walks the Earth, Chaos & Mayhem and Shadows of Northern Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Wolves in Storm 2:28
2. Chaos Walks the Earth 2:28
3. Chaos & Mayhem 2:06
4. Ruined by Plague 2:35
5. Shadows of Northern Chaos 3:06
6. Where Shadows Grow 3:28
7. Ruins of Hope 2:28
8. Moon and Stars 4:00

Band members
Mikko Ojala – vocals, guitars
Jani Moilanen – guitars (lead/acoustic)
Jyri Moilanen – bass

Album Review – Forlet Sires / Holy (2019)

The “abandoned forefathers” of Switzerland continue their explorations of uneasy, heavy music with their excellent sophomore opus of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal.

Brought into being in late 2013 in Winterthur, a Swiss city northeast of Zurich, near the German border, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal unity Forlet Sires might have started out as a conventional Atmospheric Black Metal project, but soon the band started to incorporate influences from several distinct styles such as classic Black Metal, Doom Metal and even Progressive Metal, consolidating a new approach on the genre without any boundaries while keeping a grief aspect in every tone. Now in 2019 the band comprised of Kilian Schmid on vocals, Tobias Kalt and Sebastian Vogt on the guitars, Matthias Menzi on bass and Daniele Brumana on drums returns in full force with Holy, the follow-up to their 2016 debut album Journey Towards Ruin and a lesson in atmospheric and utterly dark music.

Recorded by Forlet Sires at Gaswerk Winterthur with assistance from Pascal Pendl and George Necola, mixed by Billy Anderson, mastered by Justin Weis and featuring a stylish artwork by Adam Burke that perfectly depicts the album’s sense of death, abandonment and hopelessness, Holy presents an evolved version of Forlet Sires (by the way, an old English expression that roughly translates to “abandoned forefathers”, expressing how mankind has lost its way in various aspects) continuing their explorations of uneasy, heavy music, creating an elusive net of insecurity and surpassing music barriers while following the band into their sonic abyss. These words might sound a bit too poetic for some of you, but as soon as you start listening to Holy I’m sure you’ll realize no words can effectively describe the dark and atmospheric poetry flowing from Forlet Sires’ music.

Melancholy permeates the air from the very first second in the opening track Carnage and Candor, with Tobias and Sebastian taking the lead with their somber guitar lines, suddenly exploding into visceral Atmospheric Doom Metal for our total delight with Kilian roaring like an infernal beast. Moreover, this multi-layered aria brings forward tons of progressiveness and obscurity, getting more and more infuriated as the music progresses with Daniele adding a touch of evil with his Black Metal blast beats, ending in a truly grim and vile manner just the way we like it in Doom Metal. Then in Where Nothing Shall Thrive we’re treated to a classic display of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal that leans towards the most vicious form of Blackened Doom you can think of, all enhanced by the physiological and somber lyrics vociferated by Kilian (“You’re alive, alone. You’re afraid, you tried. Devils are in your mind, lining you up to die. Fade away, longing for more. Feel the void, mourn the waste of life. Youth was lost, faster than you thought. Midlife has passed, all you did was dreaming. Gently conditioned, ambition repressed by degrees.”). And to make things even better, the stringed trio Tobias, Sebastian and Matthias exhale heaviness and evil from their axes throughout the entire song, not to mention the lesson in intricacy and darkness given by Daniele on drums.

Dead Skin, a demonic hybrid of Progressive Metal and Blackened Doom by the quintet, sounds and feels as wicked as it can be,  with Kilian leading his horde with his demented growls and gnarls while the sound of guitars penetrates deep inside your skin and Matthias delivers tons of groove from his bass, resulting in a full-bodied composition that will please all fans of the genre without a shadow of a doubt. And lastly, the thunderous bass by Matthias together with Daniele’s drums generate a beyond aggressive atmosphere in We Roam This World Alone, the epitome of Atmospheric Doom Metal showcasing Stygian words that carry a message of anguish and grief growled by Kilian (“Cold sorrow claims all hope. Live on, for reasons unknown. Falling. Fallen. While I’m bleeding unappealing strands of purulence, I am feeding off a cyst on this dry cunt.”). Hence, keep banging your head nonstop to Tobias’ and Sebastian’s crushing riffage until the song’s climatic finale, overflowing desperation and evil.

It’s quite impressive how Forlet Sires are capable of crafting lengthy, complex and sorrowful compositions without sounding tiresome or repetitive; quite the contrary, each one of the four songs found in Holy, available in full on Spotify, will keep you mesmerized, dragging you into a downward spiral of darkness together with the band, which in the end means they were more than successful in their aforementioned duty of generating fresh and at the same time mournful music. If you want to show your true support to this talented Swiss army of doom, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and grab your copy of Holy from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, preparing your blackened mind and soul for the most desolating and melancholic moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Where Nothing Shall Thrive and We Roam This World Alone.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Cruel Bones

Track listing
1. Carnage and Candor 12:37
2. Where Nothing Shall Thrive 7:45
3. Dead Skin 8:59
4. We Roam This World Alone 11:23

Band members
Kilian Schmid – vocals
Tobias Kalt – guitars
Sebastian Vogt – guitars
Matthias Menzi – bass
Daniele Brumana – drums