Album Review – Judas Priest / Firepower (2018)

The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.

When British Heavy Metal legends Judas Priest announced they were just about to release their 18th studio record, the magnificent Firepower, I already knew it was going to be an epic album. Not only it’s the first studio album since their 1988 release Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom and the first ever with the always precise and competent Andy Sneap as co-producer, but the entire band (Rob Halford on vocals, Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner on the guitars, Ian Hill on bass and Scott Travis on drums) is absolutely on fire throughout the album’s almost one hour of the purest form of “British steel” that will beautifully and powerfully pierce your ears and control your mind, compelling you to bang your head nonstop and raise your horns to the iconic Metal Gods. By the way, the amazing album art, created by Chilean artist Claudio Bergamin, breathes scorching fire like an enraged dragon, fully in line with the unparalleled history of one of the most formidable bands in heavy music.

Although their 2014 opus Redeemer of Souls was already fantastic, showcasing a veteran band at the top of their form, the metallic extravaganza found in Firepower is so majestic and inspiring that not even the terrible news of Glenn Tipton being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which unfortunately for all lovers of true metal music won’t allow him to tour as much as before with the band (being replaced by Andy Sneap during the upcoming Firepower 2018 World Tour), could ruin the magic crafted by the band in Firepower, and Glenn in his most humble “the show must go on” mode had a few nice words to say about his situation, encouraging the band to continue with the tour. “I want everyone to know that it’s vital that the Judas Priest tour go ahead and that I am not leaving the band – it’s simply that my role has changed. I don’t rule out the chance to go on stage as and when I feel able to blast out some Priest! So at some point in the not too distant future I’m really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again”, said one of the greatest guitarists in the history of Heavy Metal.

Getting back to the album, five seconds are all that the mighty Judas Priest need to explode our senses with their incomparable metal music in the title-track Firepower, where Glenn and Richie begin their flammable riff-fest before the Metal God Rob Halford comes crushing with his unique metallic vocals. Put differently, the band offers us a high-octane, electrifying and straightforward 80’s-style version of themselves for our absolute delectation. And without wasting a single second the Metal Gods fire another superb hymn titled Lightning Strike, a mid-tempo, rumbling composition led by the always precise Scott Travis, with the rip-roaring way Halford declaims the lyrics being beyond thrilling (“I’ll bring you the head of the demon / I’m peeling the skin from his face / The life that you lead is inhuman / Its cause and effects a disgrace / You’re sowing the seeds of a nightmare from hell / Your prayers and your demons are tolling the bell / Walking through fire, fate’s in my hands / Waiting for lightning to strike / Man on a wire, bearing the brand / Waiting for lightning to strike / Lightning to strike”). Then darker riffs by Glenn and Richie permeate the air while Halford tells a somber story in Evil Never Dies, a sonic masterpiece perfect for hitting the road that will urge you to bang your head and scream together with Halford every single time you listen to its flawless lines.

Slowing down the pace a bit, but still sounding vibrant and epic, Never the Heroes brings forward lyrics about the fortunes of war and all the darkness that fills the heart of a soldier (“We were fearless but so afraid / Though in our hearts we still felt pain / We’re on fire but on a leash / We only ever wanted peace”), with the solos by both Glenn and Richie being a thing of beauty. Needless to say, this battle hymn will sound stunningly powerful when played live. Following such touching song we have Necromancer, a solid display of Heavy Metal infused with Stygian elements and nuances (mainly due to the nature of the song), closer to the band’s  sonority from the albums Angel of Retribution and Redeemer of Souls; and Children of the Sun, another song to sing along with Halford & Co., presenting a headbanging rhythm led by Scott with his steady beats and the simple but effective bass lines by Ian Hill. As usual,  the band’s guitar duo does an amazing job with their crisp solos, enhancing the song’s punch considerably.

Their metal feast goes on with a gentle piano bridge named Guardians, warming our ears and minds up for the powerful Rising from Ruins, displaying an elegant sonority where Halford has a titanic performance, stealing the spotlight with his deep and passionate vocals, not to mention how Scott keeps the music flowing smoothly with his classic beats. And what to say about the next tune, aggressively titled Flame Thrower? When I first saw the name of the song I was more than sure it was going to be ass-kicking, and guess what? It is indeed a true rockin’ extravaganza ignited by the slashing guitars by Glenn and Richie, in a blend of their own music from albums like British Steel and Ram It Down mixed with Halford’s solo career. Also uniting old school and modern Judas Priest, the quintet delivers the gripping Spectre, where Richie adds a touch of modernity to the band’s trademark sound with his guitar while Halford once again impersonates a “dark poet of metal”. Then a melancholic intro quickly morphs into a flammable and adventurous metal hymn entitled Traitors Gate, showcasing all elements we learned to love from NWOBHM, and, as a consequence, being tailored for admirers of the more epic side of the band. Furthermore, the guitars by Glenn and Richie are in total sync with Scott’s beats and especially with Halford’s potent roars and high-pitched screams, making it a true exhibit of classic metal.

The last batch of songs in Firepower is quite interesting, as if the band decided not to release them as bonus tracks of a deluxe edition of the album despite their uniqueness, but instead they added them to the regular version of it as a gift to all metal maniacs who have been supporting the band since their inception. No Surrender is straightforward Rock N’ Roll infused with Heavy Metal nuances highly inspired by the band’s own 80’s musicality, or in other words, if this was part of British Steel, Defenders of the Faith or Screaming for Vengeance it would have been a metal classic today. Hence, can you feel their guitars penetrating deep inside your heart? Then the superb Lone Wolf feels like they wanted to pay a stylish tribute do Black Sabbath, Pantera and Down all at once in a fusion of top-notch Heavy Metal with the dementia and aggression of Stoner and Doom Metal. Even the usually quiet Ian Hill delivers some thunder through his bass, with Richie and Glenn stealing the spotlight with the heaviest riffs of the entire album while Halford is simply astounding on vocals. And last but not least, how about a touching and majestic ballad titled Sea of Red, closing this grandiose album in great fashion, with Halford’s voice sounding even more impactful together with the fiery guitars by Richie and Glenn? And don’t forget to pay very good attention to the lyrics as they’re simple but very potent.

In summary, Judas Priest are all fired up in Firepower, delivering everything we love and expect in their classic and always incendiary Heavy Metal, therefore proving once again they’re not called the Metal Gods in vain. There are several retailers where you can purchase this masterpiece of old school and contemporary metal perfectly united, such as iTunes, Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart, providing you the most exciting soundtrack for anything you need to do in life. After such brilliant job done in Firepower, let’s hope now that Glenn can somehow overcome Parkinson’s disease, and that we can see him sooner than anyone can expect on stage with the rest of the band, firing some of their biggest classic together with the new combustible songs from the new album, because that’s where a talented and hardworking guitar god like him should always be.

Best moments of the album: Firepower, Lightning Strike, Evil Never Dies, No Surrender and Lone Wolf.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Epic Records

Track listing
1. Firepower 3:27
2. Lightning Strike 3:29
3. Evil Never Dies 4:23
4. Never the Heroes 4:23
5. Necromancer 3:33
6. Children of the Sun 4:00
7. Guardians 1:06
8. Rising from Ruins 5:23
9. Flame Thrower 4:34
10. Spectre 4:24
11. Traitors Gate 5:34
12. No Surrender 2:54
13. Lone Wolf 5:09
14. Sea of Red 5:51

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums


Album Review – Antichrist / Pax Moriendi (2018)

Get ready for 45 minutes of the most visceral form of old school Doom Metal made in Peru, dragging you to an eternal voyage into the most obscure side of your mind.

Formed in 2004 in Lima, the alluring capital of Peru, but not really kicking into recorded gear until a decade later, Doom/Death Metal act Antichrist soon released a steady stream of demos between 2014 and 2016, all harbingers of the colossal beast that was going to haunt our souls now in 2018, the brutally obscure album Pax Moriendi. Not only this is their highly anticipated debut album, but above that, it’s a piercing, funereal ode to the end of life as we know it. As a matter of fact, Pax Moriendi translates as “the peace of dying” from Latin, just to give you an idea of how lugubrious the whole album sounds and feels.

Across the 45 minutes of music split into five Stygian songs in Pax Moriendi, the listener is taken down into sewers a mile deep (or more), tweaking that immortal doom-death schematic into something righteously foul and filthy, but still well within the range of melancholic human experience. Led by the cavernous growls by lead singer and founder Agalariept, Antichirst are a true behemoth of darkness, blasting low-tuned, macabre sounds and tones that will reach deep inside your skin, bringing you venomous thoughts and, as a consequence, dragging you to an eternal voyage into the most obscure side of your mind.

Ominous, eerie sounds permeate the air in the opening track, darkly titled Forgotten in Nameless Suffering, where the duo Luis M. Guerra on drums and Manolo Zaren on keyboards create a truly phantasmagoric atmosphere, perfect for the deep, dark grunts by the band’s demonic frontman Agalariept. Furthermore, this song brings to you the most primeval form of Doom Metal you can think of, spiced up by orchestral elements in the background and, therefore, being highly recommended for your one-way descent into the pits of hell. Then their Death Metal side arises in brutal and somber fashion in Obscurantism, with Manolo slashing his guitar while bassist Gustavo Rodriguez makes sure our brains detach from our skulls with his low-tuned punches, with the whole musicality being nicely complemented by a whimsical, ethereal break. Also, in order to make things even more sepulchral, Agalariept fires intense, deep gnarls to the point he doesn’t sound human.

In the Dark and Mournful Corner is a flawless depiction of depressive, mournful and obscure Blackened Doom where Luis delivers those slow, sluggish and extremely evil beats, turning the song into some sort of evil mass, while Manolo not only burns our senses with his guitar but he also adds a touch of delicacy to the musicality with his keys. Moreover, it’s impressive how Antichrist alternate between old school Doom Metal and heavy-as-hell Death Metal so smoothly and effectively during the song’s gripping 10 minutes. After such demented aria, it’s time for a frantic display of aggression by Antichrist entitled Screams and Lamentations Drowned, with Luis smashing his drums while Agalariept barks and growls like a devilish beast, becoming a more visceral version of Doom Metal with its core essence reeking of putrid Death Metal. And You Will Never See Sun Light, the longest and murkiest of all songs, brings forward over 12 minutes of sluggish beats, hellish roars and uncanny sounds, with the ghoulish noises in the background making the whole song even more impactful and perturbing, flowing into a lugubrious ending led by the sinister piano by Manolo. Hence, if you survive this tenebrous aria, you’re indeed a true servant of darkness.

And as a servant of all things hellbound it’s your duty to follow Antichrist on Facebook and to buy your copy of the perilous and reverberating Pax Moriendi from Record Shop X, from the NWN! Productions webshop, from the Dark Descent Records webshop, or from the Invictus Productions webshop. Peru might not be known worldwide for its metal scene, but when you dig deep into the Peruvian underworld and find an amazing band like Antichrist, you know it’s time to surrender to the dark side of the “Land of the Incas” and crack your neck headbanging to such powerful display of old school Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: Obscurantism and In the Dark and Mournful Corner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Iron Bonehead

Track listing
1. Forgotten in Nameless Suffering 8:54
2. Obscurantism 7:44
3. In the Dark and Mournful Corner 10:53
4. Screams and Lamentations Drowned 4:47
5. You Will Never See Sun Light 12:16

Band members
Agalariept – vocals
Manolo Zaren – guitars, keyboards
Gustavo Rodriguez – bass
Luis M. Guerra – drums

Album Review – Vanguard X Mortem / Amberosia (2018)

A blend of atmospheric and symphonic extreme music known as “Vampyric Metal”, highly recommended for all admirers of the underworld with an insatiable lust for fresh blood.

There are several amazing bands out there who play what fans like to call “Vampire Metal”, or that at least add a few strong elements of this idiosyncratic subgenre of heavy music to their sound, such as Powerwolf, Theatres Des Vampires, Lord Vampyr, Cain’s Dynasty, Draconian, Lacrimosa, Mandragora Scream, Type O Negative, and perhaps the biggest exponent of the genre, British titans Cradle Of Filth, just to name a few. Hailing from the French capital Paris, here comes a very interesting project named Vanguard X Mortem, also venturing through the realms of Vampyric and Baroque Metal and, consequently, joining all the aforementioned bands in the comfortable darkness where vampires reign supreme.

Formed in 2011 by guitarist and songwriter Christophe Florian (also known as L.C.F), from bands like Comédie Macabre and Lords of the Cemetery, Vanguard X Mortem birthed in stylistic blending of Atmospheric and Symphonic Extreme Metal to create their debut album titled [vanguardismortem], in 2012, followed by the full-length album Neptune Fragrance, in 2014, and the EP Anthropomorphism, in 2016. And Christophe returns now in 2018 with a brand new opus entitled Amberosia, a powerful and somber album of extreme music featuring a fiendish artwork by RectopusArt, highly recommended for all admirers of the underworld with an insatiable lust for fresh blood.

The phantasmagoric keys in the horror movie-inspired intro Séraphin set the stage for Christophe and his Vanguard X Mortem to darken our minds in Amberosia, where blazing riffs and an ominous aura permeate the air before Christophe begins firing his vampyric gnarls, accompanied by the ethereal voice by Alix Rousselet. Furthermore, its headbanging, heavy and somber pace is spiced up by elements from old school Cradle of Filth, therefore enhancing its impact on the listener. La Morte Amoureuse, which is French for “the dead woman”, is top-notch Gothic Metal bringing all elements we love in the genre such as theatrical keyboards, slashing riffs, sexy female vocals and huge doses of melancholy, with a fantastic job done by the band’s skillful trio with their instruments, in special Chrisophe with his devilish guitar; whereas Automn Orchard feels and sounds more romantic and melodic, but with the demonic vocals by Christophe giving it a harsher twist in a solid fusion of Gothic Rock and Metal with Atmospheric Extreme Metal. Alix once again embellishes the music with her delicate vocals, while drummer Marco De Barros keeps the pace as mournful and obscure as possible with his Doom Metal-ish beats.

In the excellent Parish of Disillusionment the band offers us orchestral and symphonic music thoroughly fused with Extreme Metal, resulting in a song perfect for breaking your neck headanging while its fiery keys penetrate deep inside your mind, feeling absolutely macabre from start to finish. Then we have L’Emperesse (or “the empress” in English) beautifully impersonated by Alix, who effectively tells us who the empress is and how evil and mischievous she can be, all embraced by nuances of epicness and mystery flowing from the band’s impactful Symphonic Gothic Metal, followed by Nocturne in the Moonlight, carrying a classic song name for a flammable hybrid of Gothic Metal and Symphonic Black Metal. In addition, the paradox between the hellish gnarls by Christophe and the operatic vocals by Alix brings a very interesting taste to the music, not to mention the song’s amazing guitar riffs and solos.

The Flower’s Blood is another song that puts together in a compelling way the more brutish sounds emanated by Christophe and Marco with the angelic voice of Alix, all boosted by its background symphonic elements; while Solstice, the second to last ode to vampirism by Vanguard X Mortem, sounds as dark as expected, but not as exciting as the rest of the album, falling flat after a while despite still bringing some interesting guitars and keys. And in the eerie outro If the End…, gracious and smooth lines make the perfect ambience for Alix to mesmerize us once again with her lecherous vocals, concluding the album on a high note.

If you’re one of those creatures who only come out at night and enjoy a good blend of atmospheric, symphonic and heavy music as the soundtrack of your never-ending nocturnal quest for blood, I highly recommend you go check what Vanguard X Mortem are up to on Facebook, YouTube, ReverbNation and SoundCloud, and of course purchase Amberosia through the Noir Carrousel Records Big Cartel as a regular CD or as a special CD + T-shirt bundle, as well as at other online retailers like Cultura and Fnac. And then you’ll become addicted not only to fresh human blood, but also to French Vampire Metal.

Best moments of the album: La Morte Amoureuse, Parish of Disillusionment and Nocturne in the Moonlight.

Worst moments of the album: Solstice.

Released in 2018 Noir Carrousel/Socadisc

Track listing     
1. Séraphin 1:51
2. Amberosia 6:45
3. La Morte Amoureuse 5:16
4. Automn Orchard 4:41
5. Parish of Disillusionment 4:34
6. L’Emperesse 4:32
7. Nocturne in the Moonlight 3:46
8. The Flower’s Blood 5:17
9. Solstice 4:48
10. If the End… 3:14

Band members
Christophe Florian – vocals, guitars, programming
Alix Rousselet – female vocals, violin
Marco De Barros – drums


Album Review – Funeral Winds / Sinister Creed (2018)

A blasphemous and extremely austere album of old school Black Metal by a cult Dutch entity, offering us all endless fury, hate, rage and scorn, all spiced up by a bit of good old black magic.

Twenty seven years after their foundation, Dutch Black Metal horde Funeral Winds are more than ready to spread darkness upon the earth with the release of their fourth full-length album, titled Sinister Creed. Definitely not a prolific band, the Rotterdam-based offspring of multi-instrumentalist Hellchrist XUL won’t offer you anything that hasn’t been there since their beginning back in 1991, those being fury, hate, rage and scorn, all spiced up by a bit of good old black magic, allowing you to summon demons while listening to this blasphemous and extremely austere album of old school Black Metal. Written and recorded between 2014 and 2017 at Necromanteion Studio, in Belgium, Sinister Creed will please all fans of the darkest forms of extreme music without a shadow of a doubt, making your hearts and souls even darker than they already are.

Do not look for any fine music craftsmanship, as Funeral Winds are devoted to master the black arts, not some hip fine tune; therefore, there is only one thing you can expect from this infernal Dutch duo, and that’s total devastation. If you are into music evolutions, new genres and refined, subtle post-production gimmicks you are very welcome to look elsewhere, as Sinister Creed is an album for those whose thirst for blood was never satisfied, whose love for the early 90’s is still alive and kicking, and whose black flame never extinguished. It might have taken over 10 years for Funeral Winds to return with new material, with their previous installment, named Nexion Xul – The Cursed Bloodline, being released in the already distant year of 2007, but the duo is back in full force to destroy the silence that took place during their hiatus with endless dosages of hellspawn Black Metal.

Sinister noises ignite the ode to darkness entitled The Road to Perdition, before Hellchrist XUL comes crushing our souls mercilessly with his demented gnarls and pulverizing riffs, giving life (or I should say death) to the song’s darkly poetic lyrics (“The angles slowly align themselves / With every step I take / on this unpaved road to perdition / A path full of rocks with sharp edges / That cut strips of flesh / with each incautious step taken”). In Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh we’re treated to absolute chaos and devastation in the form of Black Metal, with session drummer M.Z. Inversus sounding like an unstoppable bulldozer. Furthermore, the song has a hardcore feel that only makes it more flammable and therefore more enjoyable, setting the tone for another onslaught of aggressive, old school Black Metal named The Arrival, showcasing the always demented screams by Hellchrist XUL, powerfully boosted by the song’s sick drumming, insane guitar lines and endless obscurity.

The title-track Sinister Creed maintains the album’s acidity and rage at an extremely high level, With pure sulphur flowing from all instruments, in special from its blast beats and flammable guitars which will rip your heart out in a gruesome way. Then featuring Amon XUL on guest vocals, Funeral Winds manage to get even more frantic and demented than before in Blood, a fantastic display of visceral Black Metal that’s utterly loyal to the foundations of the genre; followed by Black Moon over Saturn: featuring Hekte Zaren on guest vocals, this insane tune presents an operatic, choir-like intro to a feast of blackened sounds and roars, resulting in a beautiful blend of raw Black Metal with Doom Metal and symphonic elements.

Never slowing down, never softening their music, Funeral Winds continue their path to the underworld by offering the listener an explosion of metallic riffs and bestial drums named Seven Arrows, Knife and Flame (Sekhmet), where Hellchrist XUL sounds truly possessed on vocals (which in Black Metal is always a very positive addition to the musicality, of course). And as the closing act of such demonic album we have Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae, which means “now and at the hour of our death” in English, with its over seven minutes of first-class Black Metal that will disturb your peace and exterminate your mind, also presenting some insanely dark words vociferated by Hellchrist XUL (“I have crawled from the womb of eternal darkness / Out of the void into the light I abhor / I have crawled from the womb of emptiness / Out of the abyss into this world / I am here not to please, I am here not to bring joy”), with the music flowing flawlessly until its ungodly, transcendental ending.

You can take a full, detailed listen at Sinister Creed on YouTube or on Spotify, and in case you’re already a loyal member of the dark side you can purchase the album at the Funeral Winds’ BandCamp, at the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp or Big Cartel, at the Season of Mist webshop, at Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Funeral Winds on Facebook and to keep an eye on their YouTube channel for more music and videos by such distinct Black Metal act, and may the pitch black darkness bred by Funeral Winds in their Mephistophelian career keep haunting our souls for decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh, Blood and Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Avantgarde Music

Track listing  
1. The Road to Perdition 4:47
2. Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh 3:59
3. The Arrival 3:30
4. Sinister Creed 2:44
5. Blood 3:05
6. Black Moon over Saturn 5:26
7. Seven Arrows, Knife and Flame (Sekhmet) 4:27
8. Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae 7:37

Band members
Hellchrist XUL – vocals, all instruments
M.Z. Inversus – drums (session)

Guest musicians
Amon XUL – additional vocals on “Blood”
Hekte Zaren – additional vocals on ‘Black Moon over Saturn”


Album Review – Minneriket / Anima Sola (2018)

A scorching extravaganza of Norwegian Black Metal that will consume your soul, thoroughly put together by a one-man army of darkness.

Norwegian Romantic Black Metal one-man army Minneriket is the work of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, who created the project back in 2014 for as much a philosophical and spiritual channeling as a musical outlet. Drawing on influences as various as punk and goth yet steeped in the intensity of the early Norwegian Black Metal scene, Minneriket, which translates as “the kingdom of memories”, is honest and real, reflecting both self and society, knocking down barriers and ignoring taboos, breathing new life into the genre in a completely uncompromising manner. After the releases of the albums Vargtimen in 2015, Stjerner, speil og svartebøker… in 2016, and more recently the Burzum tribute From the Veins of a Nearly Dead Boy in 2017 (which officially received inclusion on the Vikernes Burzum website), Minneriket returns in full force, unleashing upon humanity the project’s latest opus Anima Sola.

The title of the album, which means “lonely soul” in English, and the artwork, designed by Czech artist Anna Marine, are based on the catholic imagery of the lonely spirit burning in purgatory. The soul which is burning forever, but is never entirely consumed by the flames. It’s the war between spirits and matter, and fire as both a destructive force of nature and the kindle in your heart. Musically speaking, Anima Sola is a scorching extravaganza of Norwegian Black Metal that will consume your soul, with Stein doing a fantastic job on vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards throughout the whole album, leaving you completely disoriented after each of its ten piercing compositions is over, it doesn’t matter if sung in English or in his mother tongue Norwegian.

Tro, håp og kjærlighet (Norwegian for “faith, hope and love”) brings a somber, melancholic intro that keeps growing darker and darker, until Stein arises from the crypts of hades with his hellish gnarls, with his Stygian guitars generating a mesmerizing rhythm. In other words, this is Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest. And things get even better in An All Too Human Heart, featuring guest musician Fredrik Rex  (Blodsgard) on guitars and bass. Offering the listener that strident Black Metal riffage we all love so much, Stein attacks our souls with an infernal storm of old school Norwegian Black Metal, sounding absolutely bestial on vocals and, consequently, more obscure than anything or anyone you can imagine. Furthermore, it’s impressive how he masterfully blends the sheer obscurity of Black Metal with the smoothness and delicacy of ambient music, which is exactly the case in When Life Gets Sick, the Dead Grow Strong, always sounding and feeling pugnacious and chthonic, with the song’s riffs and beats being in full diabolical sync, effectively boosting its overall impact.

Then disturbing sounds permeate the air in I am the Serpent Son, a song tailored for lovers of the darkest form of Norwegian Extreme Metal where Stein uses his voice in an otherworldly way to distill its stylish lyrics (“I submit to your beauty and wisdom / I will learn all your black arts / Mother Lilith! / See to all my needs / so that I may grow and conquer this world”). And there’s not a single second of peace or hope in over seven minutes of extreme music in Between Infinity and Melancholy, where Stein keeps firing his blistering guitar lines and enraged vociferations, with the musicality feeling extremely raw and primeval, but still very polished due to the above average production of the album. Then in Det lyset jeg ikke kan se (or “the light I cannot see”), also featuring Fredrik Rex, we face over 13 minutes of a descent into the pits of hell full where thunderous bass punches and steady beats steal the spotlight for the first three minutes, before a sonic onrush of traditional Black Metal lacerates our minds mercilessly. In addition, Stein and his Minneriket don’t let our souls rest not even during the atmospheric break in this full-bodied blackened aria, proving how precise he is with his instruments.

Stein then treats us with a wicked beginning and his disturbing, Satanic vocal lines in Sorger er tyngst i solskinn (“sorrow is the heaviest in sunshine”), all effectively supported by the song’s somber instrumental pieces, feeling extremely metallic, inhuman and bizarre from start to finish; while Alle hjerter banker ei (or “all hearts beat one” in English) leans towards vile Blackened Doom, where once again Stein delivers hypnotizing riffs and beats that will drag your soul to the underworld, with endless grief and despair flowing from all instruments. And his most damned and depressive side keeps dominating his mind in the desperate hymn Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan (“pain, beauty and Satan”), being slow and steady as good Doom Metal should be without forgetting the project’s old school Black Metal core, before a sonic havoc of putrid sounds entitled Time for Suicide comes crushing our hearts, with its lyrics being as perturbing as they can be, especially through Stein’s evil gnarls (“Headaches taunt me with flashbacks of the past / Call it fear, but I think it runs deeper / an infection that eats away at my soul / furthering my suffering and doubling my agony”).

In summary, Anima Sola, which can be enjoyed in its entirety on Spotify, might be considered by many Minneriket’s strongest work to date, proving how focused, professional and passionate about extreme music Mr. Akslen is, always moving forward and never sounding outdated or bland. You should definitely check his other albums, news and future plans on Facebook and on YouTube, and grab your copy of Anima Sola through the project’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. Stein himself commented that the album was created because “we need to talk about the darkness”, also saying that the album “speaks of solitude and ineptitude, loss and yearning; humorless Black Metal with music and lyrics equally painful and raw.” Well, let’s face it, the man behind Minneriket more than succeeded in sending his dark message to the world with Anima Sola.

Best moments of the album: An All Too Human Heart, I am the Serpent Son and Det lyset jeg ikke kan se.

Worst moments of the album: Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan.

Released in 2018 Akslen Black Art Records

Track listing  
1. Tro, håp og kjærlighet 5:40
2. An All Too Human Heart 3:33
3. When Life Gets Sick, the Dead Grow Strong 3:59
4. I am the Serpent Son 4:34
5. Between Infinity and Melancholy 7:35
6. Det lyset jeg ikke kan se 13:25
7. Sorger er tyngst i solskinn 6:10
8. Alle hjerter banker ei 4:52
9. Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan 3:30
10. Time for Suicide 2:27

Band members
Stein Akslen – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards

Guest musician
Fredrik Rex – guitars and bass on “An All Too Human Heart” and “Det lyset jeg ikke kan se”


Album Review – Vile Creature / Cast of Static and Smoke (2018)

A dystopian science fiction taking place well after civilization has been destroyed by its own nuclear ambitions in the form of 44 minutes of suffering and austere Doom Metal.

Formed in 2014 in Saint Catharines, the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in the province of Ontario, Sludge/Doom Metal duo Vile Creature is more than ready to release their brand new full-length album titled Cast of Static and Smoke, a logical progression from their previous releases both in sound and content. While in their 2015 debut album A Steady Descent into the Soil they mirrored Blackened Doom with equally melancholy stories of growing up queer, and in their 2016 EP A Pessimistic Doomsayer they explored escaping your demons by forging relationships with works of fiction, now with Cast of Static and Smoke the band have delved into building a world of their own while writing a compelling 44 minutes of  what they like to call “suffering metal”.

In order to properly translate all that melancholy and suffering into metal music, the duo comprised of Vic on vocals and drums and KW on vocals, guitar and percussion recorded the core of the album live with only one guitar and one drum kit. Furthermore, Cast of Static and Smoke is a record and a short story at the same time, a dystopian science fiction taking place well after civilization has been destroyed by its own nuclear ambitions. Displaying an eerie artwork by artist Stephen Wilson (Unknown Relic) and featuring a few interesting guest musicians who end up bringing extra layers of complexity to the music, the album presents four songs that embody emotions felt by characters and moments that take place within the story, sounding less chronological and more a response to certain instances. Musically the band is as heavy as they have ever been, weaving through different paces and influences with ease while maintaining their foundation in Doom Metal.

Wicked, somber sounds kick off the 10-minute Doom metal aria Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper, with guest Erin Severson talking about all that’s wrong in our society before the sluggish beats and distorted guitars by Vic and KW invade our ears, paving the path for the song’s austere lyrics (“Blinded by visions of the elements of life / Leading to a scorched earth / A crows nest shrouded in metal and rust / Even scraps fear nothingness / I’ve seen blackened, deserted shores / Calling me, whispering lore”). Furthermore, guest vocalist Chris Colohan effectively provides his share of anguished growling, taking the song’s acidity to a whole new level before everything ends in the most visceral way possible. Then we have the absolutely grim Circuits, Bending & Breaking, an excellent hybrid of Doom Metal, Blackened Doom, Drone and Ambient with a violent twist where Vic keeps blasting Stygian, slow-paced beast while KW gnarls desperately and rabidly amidst a high level of distortions and rough noises perfect for disturbing our thoughts.

Forest, Subsists as a Tomb starts as dark and downbeat as the two initial compositions of the album, becoming another feast of devilish sounds and tones led by the lingering drums by Vic, with KW firing some enraged growls and slashing guitar noises. Once again, Erin’s narration feels as creepy as the previous one, with another guest musician, James Claypool, bringing forward a good amount of wickedness to the overall musicality with his flammable guitar. And lastly we have Sky, in Descending Pieces, a song that doesn’t bring any joy or happiness to our hearts and souls; quite the contrary, it follows the same somber path crafted by Vile Creature throughout the entire album, resulting in a solid display of modern-day Doom and Sludge Metal with the duo’s deranged screams and perturbing riffs and beats setting the stage for the final unsettling message by Erin.

In summary, although Cast of Static and Smoke is definitely not an easy listen for newcomers to the world of depressive and suffering Doom Metal by Vile Creature, it’s indeed an album that will grow on you as the music and the story progress together, gradually making your ears and senses more familiar with the band’s eccentric type of music. The album can be purchased through the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as through the Halo of Flies’ BandCamp page or webstore and the Dry Cough Records’ webstore. Furthemrore, if you buy Cast of Static and Smoke you’re not just buying over 40 minutes of high-quality extreme music, but the physical copy is also accompanied by a 16-page booklet that includes lyrics, credits, the full story itself (which you can read HERE), and an audio recording of the entire story scored by Vile Creature for those who have a hard time reading small print or just want another way to experience it. Having said that, don’t waste your time and go show your support to Vile Creature by visiting their Facebook page and buying their new album, and consequently immersing yourself in the bitter and melancholic post-apocalyptic reality proposed by this persevering Canadian duo.

Best moments of the album: Circuits, Bending & Breaking.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Halo of Flies

Track listing  
1. Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper 10:20
2. Circuits, Bending & Breaking 9:16
3. Forest, Subsists as a Tomb 13:36
4. Sky, in Descending Pieces 8:52

Band member
Vic – drums, vocals
KW – guitar, vocals, percussion

Guest musicians
Chris Colohan – vocals on “Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper”
James Claypool – guitar on “Forest, Subsists as a Tomb”
Erin Severson – the narrator on “Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper”, “Forest, Subsists as a Tomb” and “Sky, in Descending Pieces”
George Zhen – piano


Album Review – Not My Master / Disobey EP (2018)

An aggressive mix of Thrash, Groove and Extreme Metal with Southern Rock blasted by a new four-piece act hailing from the always metallic U.S. state of Texas.

It’s time for The Headbanging Moose to head to Texas, the second-largest state in the United States by both area and population where several amazing heavy bands were born such as D.R.I., Devourment, Pissing Razors, Galactic Cowboys and, above all, the mighty Pantera, to slam into the pit to the aggressive mix of Thrash, Groove and Extreme Metal with Southern Rock blasted by a four-piece act that goes by the name of Not My Master. Playing what the band members themselves call Texas Metal, or in their own words, “dirty nasty satanic devil music you would find on Pornhub, if Pornhub played dirty nasty satanic devil music”, Not My Master are releasing their straightforward, vicious and extremely aggressive debut EP, titled Disobey.

Formed in 2016 in the city of El Paso, situated in the far western corner of Texas, the band comprised of Chris Kidwell on vocals, Chelo Styles on the guitar, Rudy Barajas on bass and Charlie Gonzalez on drums has been spreading their “Texas Fuckin’ Metal” throughout the whole state for a while, having already shared the stage with bands like Soulfly, Death Angel, Puddle Of Mudd and Rotting Christ, and also played in festivals such as Zia Music Fest, KILL This Festival, MUDD Fest and HaloHeavy Fest. With Disobey, the band not only aims at solidifying their name in the local Texan scene, but also to spread their ruthless music all over the world, effectively summarizing in its seven distinct tracks what the band is capable of offering to fans of heavy music.

The marching beats by Charlie are gradually joined by the slashing riffs by Chelo and the menacing bass punches by Rudy in the opening track, entitled Acadence, before Chris begins firing some enraged growls in a solid display of Extreme Groove Metal, perfect for fans of bands like Lamb Of God. Then the band keeps pounding our heads with their visceral music in Revenge, with lots of groove flowing from both guitar and bass while Chris switches back and forth from deep, rabid growls to clean, dark vocals, reminding me of the most obscure songs by Pantera (which obviously translates into sheer awesomeness); followed by the acid Where’s God Now, with the guitar lines by Chelo inspiring you to break your neck headbanging, not to mention how the metallic sounds blasted by all instruments increase the impact of Chris’ screams.

Then we have an eerie start to what’s the darkest composition in the EP, titled Morning Star, suddenly exploding into a heavy and aggressive hybrid of Groove and Southern Metal with hints of modern Doom Metal, led by Chris and his demented gnarls, whereas in Lies the raw and dirty guitar lines by Chelo build a demonic atmosphere for the rest of the band to blast hatred and evil in a fantastic display of Sludge Metal. Moreover, the low-tuned bass punches by Rudy sound insanely heavy, bringing even more ferocity to the overall result. And as a “bonus” don’t forget to listen to the two creepy alternative versions of this song on YouTube by clicking HERE and HERE.

Not My Master then treat us with an excellent cover version for How the Gods Kill, by Danzig (check the original version HERE), and on a side note, this classic was also covered by Polish Death/Black Metal project +MROME+ in their 2016 album Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell (as you can see HERE). With that said, which version do you prefer? In my humble opinion, both kick some serious ass, with Not My Master sounding more melancholic in its first half before becoming a beautiful storm of Southern Metal throughout the rest of the song. And lastly, closing this obscure and very enjoyable EP we have another wicked tune named Consume, a vicious sample of what they call Texas Metal with Chelo burning our skin with his scorching hot riffs while Chris and Rudy sound like an earthquake with their growls and bass lines, respectively.

Are you curious to know more about Not My Master? I surely am, and I can’t wait to see when those Texan metallers will release their first full-length album, kicking everyone in the head with their relentless fusion of Southern and Groove Metal. You can follow Not My Master on Facebook and get to know more about the band members, their tour dates and other details, as well as listen to their music and watch their videos on ReverbNation. High-quality heavy music made in El Paso, Texas is furiously knocking at your door, but be careful because once you open it, there’s no escape from Not My Master’s vicious attack.

Best moments of the album: Revenge and Lies.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing  
1. Acadence 4:18
2. Revenge 3:08
3. Where’s God Now 3:49
4. Morning Star 5:15
5. Lies 4:38
6. How the Gods Kill (Danzig cover) 5:55
7. Consume 4:41

Band members
Chris Kidwell – vocals
Chelo Styles – guitar
Rudy Barajas – bass
Charlie Gonzalez – drums


Album Review – Rise of Avernus / Eigengrau (2018)

Blending elements from progressive and symphonic music with the most obscure side of Extreme Metal, all enfolded by majestic orchestrations, here come Rise of Avernus with their heaviest and darkest opus thus far.

Eigengrau (German: “intrinsic gray”, lit. “own gray”; pronounced [ˈʔaɪ̯gn̩ˌgʁaʊ̯]), also called Eigenlicht (Dutch and German: “own light”), dark light, or brain gray, is the uniform dark gray background that many people report seeing in the absence of light.

Since their inception in 2011, Australian Dark Orchestral Death/Doom Metal horde Rise of Avernus has been making a name for themselves throughout the metal community with their unique style blending elements from progressive and symphonic music with the darkest side of Extreme Metal, all enfolded by majestic orchestrations. Within the short time since the release of their 2012 debut EP, they’ve followed a relentless touring schedule, supporting some major international acts such as Apocalyptica, Enslaved, Eluveitie, Prong, Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Rotting Christ and Sigh along the way. Now in 2018 it’s time for this Sydney-based blackened squad to spread their devilish wings all over the world once again with Eigengrau, their fourth studio release and, more important than that, their heaviest and darkest opus thus far.

Featuring a Stygian artwork by world renowned artist Seth Siro Anton (aka Spiros Antoniou from Septicflesh), Eigengrau is the experience of seeing a deep grey shade in the total absence of visible light, or what one may refer to as a “perfect darkness.” Upon this canvas, an individual can project their subconscious, their processes, their anxieties and their fears. Thematically, Eigengrau explores the fluidic nature of these self-created experiences, how they can be shaped and how they may change at the point of one’s own death. Other tracks go on to explore the intricacies of personal realities, influenced by external factors or via spiritual and religious indoctrination. The nature of self-realization and being forced to confront weakness to overcome it. The distinct sound of the album reflects these altered states, oscillating between delicate movements and nightmarish grandiosity.

And Rise of Avernus’ nightmare of tenebrous and imposing sounds begin in full force in the opening track Terminus, showcasing a movie-inspired start before becoming a majestic fusion of the extreme music by bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth and Necronomicon with a raw Death Metal twist. Furthermore, Ben VanVollenhoven, the (black) heart and soul of the band, sounds insanely infernal on vocals, as well as Andrew Craig and his thunderous drums. Following such fantastic beginning we have Ad Infinitum (or “to infinity”), a neck-breaking, symphonic tune led by the atmospheric keys by Mares Refalaeda where Ben once again brings sheer darkness to the musicality with his demonic voice, resulting in a flawless combination of Atmospheric and Symphonic Black Metal.

Then we have a movie score-inspired beginning to yet another venomous feast by Rise of Avernus titled Gehenna, showcasing a beautiful but still obscure mid-tempo rhythm led by the guitars by Ben, who also provides a powerful performance with both his harsh and clean vocals (not to mention how awesome all orchestrations are); while Eigenlicht offers the listener almost eight minutes of a descent into the pitch black crypts of Hades, presenting smooth guitar lines by Ben and the always gripping keys by Mares, with the atmospheric break halfway through it being a thing of beauty. To sum up, this is Symphonic Black Metal at its finest, with the whole music ending in dense and ferocious fashion for our total delectation. And there’s’ still a lot more to go in Eigengrau, with tribal beats igniting another sonic extravaganza named Tempest, where Ben sounds more hellish and cavernous than before while Andrew and Mares fill all empty spaces with their burning instruments, resulting in a flawless mix of orchestral and heavy music.

Forged in Eidolon brings forward an ominous intro rising from the pits of hell directly into your mind, with the spectral orchestrations and keyboards by both Ben and Mares imprisoning your soul in the metallic realm of evil reigned by Rise of Avernus. Then serene sounds are joined by a wave of sublime orchestrations in Mimicry, creating the perfect ambience for the demonic growls by Ben and enhanced by the astounding keys by Mares. And as the closing act to this impressive album we have Into Aetherium, a wondrous composition that starts with almost three minutes of an instrumental blast of melancholic and obscure Symphonic Black Metal before all hell breaks loose, darkening our thoughts and hearts during its eight minutes of duration. Led by the bestial drums by Andrew, this fiendish hymn sets the perfect landscape for Ben to continue his path to the underworld, gnarling like an evil entity until the song’s mesmerizing and grandiose ending.

What are you waiting for to show your support for Rise of Avernus and purchase your copy of Eigengrau, one of the best extreme albums you can find out there, blending the aggressiveness of Death, Doom and Black Metal with the finesse and epicness of orchestral music? Eigengrau is available through Rise of Avernus’ own BandCamp page or Big Cartel (where by the way you can also find an album + patch + shirt bundle and an album + patch + pin + shirt + canvas/artwork bundle), as well as through the Aural Music webstore as a regular CD format or as a very special woodbox edition, if all of those versions of the album are still in stock, of course (which I doubt due to the insanely high quality of the music in question). Also, don’t forget to pay a visit to Rise of Avernus on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and to listen to more of their classy music on YouTube. This is not only the band’s boldest, darkest and heaviest release to date, as aforementioned, but a lesson in extreme music that will certainly figure among the best metal albums of 2018 not only at The Headbanging Moose, but in several other publications all over the world where dark music always prevails.

Best moments of the album: Terminus, Eigenlicht, Tempest and Into Aetherium.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Code666

Track listing 
1. Terminus 5:43
2. Ad Infinitum 4:54
3. Gehenna 5:59
4. Eigenlicht 7:33
5. Tempest 4:51
6. Forged in Eidolon 5:56
7. Mimicry 3:53
8. Into Aetherium 8:03

Band members
Ben VanVollenhoven – vocals, guitar, orchestrations
Mares Refalaeda – vocals, keyboards
Andrew Craig – drums, percussion


The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017

“We sort of find that music tames the beast, you know.” – Malcom Young

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season. In a year where we lost so many talented and important musicians in rock and heavy music for various reasons, including Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Trish Doan (Kittie), Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost), Warrel Dane (Nevermore, Sanctuary), John Wetton (Uriah Heep), David Zablidowsky (Adrenaline Mob, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) and Cherry Taketani (Okotô, Hellsakura, NervoChaos), among several others, not to mention the end of the unmatched Black Sabbath, who we were able to witness live one last time during their farewell tour The End, only the freshness and energy flowing from brand new metal music can give us hope, not allowing Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll to die as many like to prophesy every single year.

Having said that, it’s time to blow our goddamn speakers with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, taming the beast inside us all as wisely said by AC/DC’s heart and soul Malcolm Young (R.I.P.). And as 2017 was the year of bands that cannot be considered dinosaurs in metal (or at least not yet), such as Trivium and Mastodon, that certainly points to a bright future ahead for Heavy Metal with their recent releases because, as you know, we won’t have behemoths like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica kicking ass on stage forever. By the way, this was definitely a fantastic year for Mastodon, who not only released one of the best albums of 2017, the excellent Emperor of Sand, but they also had some extra energy to burn with the classy EP Cold Dark Place, which by the way is part of our top 10 EP’s of the year (as you’ll see after our top 10/20 list). Alright, without further ado, turn up the volume and enjoy our 2017 list… LET THERE BE ROCK!

1. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence (REVIEW)
A superb album full of fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams.
Best song of the album: Betrayer

2. Kreator – Gods Of Violence (REVIEW)
We shall praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.
Best song of the album: Totalitarian Terror

3. Blaze Bayley – Endure And Survive (REVIEW)
The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date.
Best song of the album: Blood

4. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (REVIEW)
Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in this excellent album of Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Word to the Wise

5. Accept – The Rise of Chaos (REVIEW)
Let total chaos and destruction rise to the sound of the brand new album by the unstoppable Teutonic masters of Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Analog Man

6. Moonspell – 1755 (REVIEW)
An orchestral and emotional concept album that will take you to the year when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.
Best song of the album: Todos Os Santos

7. Striker – Striker (REVIEW)
Canadian Heavy Metal has never been more vibrant and rapturous than this.
Best song of the album: Born To Lose

8. Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu (REVIEW)
Witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war and human society.
Best song of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu

9. Torture Squad – Far Beyond Existence (REVIEW)
Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene.
Best song of the album: Blood Sacrifice

10. Solitary – The Diseased Heart of Society (REVIEW)
Four veteran thrash metallers canalizing all the hatred, degradation and perversions of our modern-day society into their music.
Best song of the album: Architects of Shame

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

11. Karkaos – Children Of The Void (REVIEW)
12. Prometheus – Consumed In Flames (REVIEW)
13. Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (REVIEW)
14. Terrifier – Weapons of Thrash Destruction (REVIEW)
15. Body Count – Bloodlust (REVIEW)
16. Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales (REVIEW)
17. Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (REVIEW)
18. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (REVIEW)
19. Infernäl Mäjesty – No God (REVIEW)
20. Katharos XIII – Negativity (REVIEW)

As aforementioned, we also have for you this year our Top 10 EP’s of 2017, ranging from the most rebellious form of Deathcore to the most melodic type of Symphonic Metal, from visceral Doom Metal to demonic Black Metal, and so on. In addition, those bands hail from all four corner of the earth, proving once again that it doesn’t matter where you go you’ll always be able to find first-class metal music, including all of its genres and subgenres, to please your avid metallic ears.

1. Primal Age – A Silent Wound (REVIEW)
2. Sinners Moon – Far Beyond The Stars (REVIEW)
3. Aversio Humanitatis – Longing for the Untold (REVIEW)
4. Loathfinder – The Great Tired Ones (REVIEW)
5. Ljosazabojstwa – Sychodžańnie (REVIEW)
6. Lorn – Arrayed Claws (REVIEW)
7. Jupiter Hollow – Odyssey (REVIEW)
8. Dö – Astral: Death/Birth (REVIEW)
9. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (REVIEW)
10. Afire – Afire (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2017? If you want to check another awesome list, I highly recommend Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Editorial Staff), a great online publication that we at The Headbanging Moose also contribute to on a regular basis. Also, don’t forget to tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a blazing fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal from all over the world!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2018!

Actually, before all is said and done, here’s for you the 2017 Christmas single from Norwegian Melodic Power Metal project Aldaria called When The Time Has Come, featuring several renowned guest musicians such as Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black),  Lars Rettkowitz (Freedom Call) and Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze), among others, with 100% of all income of this single being donated to Cancer Research. “This is a very important cause for me, as I lost my mother to this horrible disease in 2010. The single will be available across all streaming and digital platforms, and on Aldaria’s official webstore, where you will get a special edition with a lossless audio file, instrumental, high resolution cover art, and lyrics”, commented guitarist Frode Hovd, the mastermind behind Aldaria. Let’s all support such important cause!


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