Album Review – Paradise Lost / Draconian Times (1995)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: Shades of God.

Released in 1995 Music For Nations

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

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

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

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Metal Chick of the Month – Cristina Scabbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Hexis / Tando Ashanti (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: Resurrectio.

Released in 2017 Halo of Flies/Alerta Antifascista Records

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

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

Album Review – Gravewards / Subconscious Lobotomy EP (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best moments of the album: Subconscious Lobotomy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

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

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

Album Review – Katharos XIII / Negativity (2017)

After the 56 minutes of intense and pensive Depressive Suicidal Black Metal thoroughly crafted by this Romanian quartet reach deep into your soul, you’ll never be the same again.

Born in 2007 in the city of Timișoara, the main social, economic and cultural centre in western Romania located around 550km northwest of the capital Bucharest, and functioned in the early days as a one-man band until de beginning of the recordings of the demo Silver Melancholy in late 2008, self-released in 2009, Depressive Suicidal Black Metal act Katharos XIII return after their 2011 debut Dead Emotions with their second full-length installment, titled Negativity, comprised of seven tracks emerged from the dark chambers of human psyche, questions and deep melancholy into black chords, a truly unique combination of different layers and influences.

Featuring a somber artwork by Romanian artist Alexandru Das (Argus Megere, North, Ordinul Negru), Negativity offers the listener an amalgamation of personal experiences (all kinds of abuse, paranoia, severe depressions), strange stories, movies (Greenaway, Lynch) and books (Eliade, Cioran, Zola), all thoroughly put together by the talented F on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Andrei on guitars, SQ on bass and Sabbat on drums, resulting in a unique experience of extreme music for admirers of the genre. And if you feel your heart got darker after listening to the album’s 56 minutes of intense and pensive Black Metal, that means Katharos XIII succeeded in sending you the desired message through their disturbing music.

Opening the album on a high note we have XIII, a modern approach to Black Metal sounding very melodic and epic thanks to the excellent guitars by F and Andrei, with the devilish gnarls by F bringing more obscurity to the overall result. Moreover, its riffs get to a very traditional mode halfway through it, while the song’s atmosphere keeps growing in intensity and mystery, flowing to an ominous ending led by the demonic vociferations by F. Slightly different than its predecessor, the title-track Negativity goes full Black Metal, overflowing blast beats, flammable riffs and infernal growls, also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal and Doom Metal, not to mention its disturbing lyrics (“Burn in the kingdom of the blind / A garden that cannot be seen / By the ones who ignore the creation / The path of the eternal self-torment”) and its beyond somber break.

The steady beats by Sabbat together with the darkened keys by F create a truly somber ambience in No One Left to Lead the Way, a perfect fusion of Black Metal with Blackened Doom supported by a strong harmonious background, flowing into a smooth but very obscure ending; followed by The Chains are so Beautiful, where a melancholic and grim beginning led by Sabbat with his sluggish beats and bassist SQ with his low-tuned roars gradually leans towards old school Doom Metal, supporting the very macabre spoken words by F (“I will tell you a story / Stories as we all like to hear / The amphetamine has won the game / Enslaving the pain inside soul / Close your eyes and sleep tight / While the angels watch you closely / Nothing bad to happen to you / Only to fall into their arms”), before exploding into visceral and deranged Black Metal until its introspective finale.

Spearheaded by the piercing riffs by Andrei, World’s Coffin sounds like a blackened waltz, with F grasping his words bestially, blending old school Black Metal with contemporary Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir. Furthermore, the bass by SQ keeps rumbling in a demonic way in the background, topped with a soulful solo by Andrei. I Die Everytime I Walk This Path brings forward a serene and contemplative intro, generating a comforting but at the same time perturbing ambience where F instead of growling simply grasps in a vile manner. Not only that, tempestuous moments are thoroughly inserted in this Blackened Doom aria, with the beautiful work done by Andrei and SQ with their strings taking you to a dark dimension ruled by Katharos XIII. Lastly, closing this amazing album of extreme music the band offers a darkened assault titled Inside, with Sabbat pounding his drums vigorously while Andrei blasts straightforward demonic riffs, reaching an epic and reverberating stage before the song’s climatic and violent conclusion.

In other words, are you prepared to have your mortal soul embraced in the endless darkness crafted by Katharos XIII? If you can’t wait for that to happen, then you should definitely visit Katharos XIII on Facebook to know more about this distinct Romanian band, and purchase your copy of Negativity through the Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webshop, as well as at Discogs. As mentioned before, after listening to Negativity, you’ll never be the same again, and all you’ll have to do is to thank this amazing Romanian quartet for such unique experience of dark and mournful sounds.

Best moments of the album: XIII, Negativity and World’s Coffin.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. XIII 9:50
2. Negativity 6:13
3. No One Left to Lead the Way 6:24
4. The Chains are so Beautiful 8:21
5. World’s Coffin 5:58
6. I Die Everytime I Walk This Path 12:03
7. Inside 7:16

Band members
F – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Andrei – guitars
SQ – bass
Sabbat – drums

Album Review – Olde / Temple (2017)

Putting society and personality in its crosshairs, attacking the traits that make people hide behind various masks in order to survive, here comes a Canadian Doom Metal brigade ready to crush our skulls with their heavy-as-hell new album.

Inspired by a recording session with long-time Stoner Metal stalwarts Sons of Otis, guitarist and producer Greg Dawson (Cunter, Grift, BWC Studios) began to handpick and assemble Canadian Doom/Stoner Metal brigade Olde, emphasizing a powerful and economic approach to doom music. Enlisting the help of drummer Ryan Aubin (Sons of Otis), bassist Cory McCallum (Five Knuckle Chuckle), guitarist Chris “Hippy” Hughes (Moneen) and vocalist Doug McLarty (Jaww), this Malton-based band began to take form, releasing their debut full-length album simply titled I, in 2014, followed by the EP Shallow Graves, in 2016.

Always true to their heavy, bludgeoning roots, Olde are back in 2017 with a brand new full-length instalment, the pungent and resonant Temple, an album where Olde put society and personality in its crosshairs, attacking the traits that make people hide behind various masks in order to survive, and how the ranks of the disguised, with their ulterior motives, aren’t exacting worried about the average Joe in their quest for self-preservation and “progress”. Olde’s sound has also grown since the band’s inception, encompassing more abstraction and harmony, whilst never forgetting to bludgeon their fans, as needed, with riff after riff, driven by the sophisticated-caveman drums of Aubin and the harsh, yet always clear, vocals of lyricist McLarty. Featuring an eye-catching artwork by Joshua Wilkinson, Temple will undoubtedly punch you in the face with all its doomed strength, like it or not.

Heavy, sluggish and thunderous from the very first second thanks to the amazing stringed trio comprised of Chris, Greg and Cory, the opening track Subterfuge is an excellent Doom and Stoner Metal composition, bringing the best elements of both genres to our avid ears, but it’s when Doug begins vociferating the lyrics that things get really dark and serious (“The blood you seek is out there, / On the frayed edges of town / Just point your boots, and follow… / Your rotten heart”). Ryan kicks off the following tune, the obscure Now I See You, with his pounding, damned beats, before Doug offers more of his grumpy and raspy vocals perfect for the music being played. Furthermore, I love when it’s possible to listen to those metallic bass punches like the ones blasted by Cory due to the album’s crisp production, but of course without losing the band’s amazing rawness. Also, if I were you, I would check Olde playing this excellent song at the NP music studio for the National Post Sessions, in order to fully enjoy the band’s catchy sonority and refined technique.

The Ghost Narrative is an excellent depiction of the most sluggish and deranged form of Stoner Metal, where Chris and Greg are kicking ass on guitars with their riffs and solos in an overdose of heaviness flowing from all instruments, which is also present in Doug’s enraged vocals; followed by the title-track Temple, the longest of all songs, starting in a somber manner through the bass sounds crafted by Cory and quickly morphing into a neck-breaking Sludge and Stoner Metal hymn. Its hostile sounding, led by the beats by Ryan, only gets more belligerent when joined by the vocals by Doug, hitting you hard and mercilessly until its dark ending. And increasing their aggressiveness and speed, Centrifugal Disaster presents modern and poetic lyrics (“The world heaves under the weight of our existence / A population siphoned from, stretched beyond all reason / Exploit everything for a fraction of what it’s worth / Rallying cry of modern Man: / Give me convenience, or give me Death”), piercing guitars and rumbling bass lines boosted by the intricate drumming by Ryan, culminating in a Stoner Metal extravaganza highly recommended for fans of the genre.

Bringing hints of Southern Rock and old school Rock N’ Roll, Maelstrom reminds me of some of the classic tunes by Down, with highlights to the excellent job done once again by Chris and Greg on guitars. Put differently, this is a song perfect for enjoying a cold beer and banging your head vigorously together with the band, presenting an excellent guitar solo at the end as the icing on the cake. And lastly, closing the album Olde brings forward an ode to darkness titled Castaway, reaching deep into our most deviant thoughts. This low-tuned and slow composition is led by the potent drumming by Ryan and the rabid, deep growls by Doug, while the rest of the band makes sure the atmosphere remains as cold-hearted, gloomy and unhappy as possible.

You can always keep up to date with everything Olde are doing, including their tour dates (especially if you live in the Greater Toronto Area), by following them on Facebook, and purchase your copy of Temple through their BandCamp page, the STB Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or the Medusa Crush Recordings’ BandCamp page. Temple is not only a top-notch album of Stoner and Doom Metal made in Canada, but it also cements Olde’s name in the Canadian independent scene, opening the doors for the band to reach new heights and to properly explore new markets in a not-so-distant future, like the United States and the UK, where their music style is extremely appreciated. And, of course, to support Olde in their mission to crush everyone’s head with their heavy-as-hell damned music wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Subterfuge, Now I See You and Centrifugal Disaster.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 STB Records/Medusa Crush Recordings

Track listing
1. Subterfuge 4:06
2. Now I See You 4:27
3. The Ghost Narrative 4:17
4. Temple 7:48
5. Centrifugal Disaster 5:04
6. Maelstrom 6:16
7. Castaway 7:05

Band members
Doug McLarty – vocals
Chris Hughes – guitars
Greg Dawson – guitars
Cory McCallum – bass
Ryan Aubin – drums, guitar solo on “Maelstrom”

Guest musician
Simon Talevski – guitar solo on “Castaway”

 

Album Review – Coldfells / Coldfells (2017)

Feel the beauty and desolation of the Appalachian landscapes through the Blackened Doom by a talented American power trio with their debut album, a perfect soundtrack to journeys outside frozen windows and within frozen souls.

“Visions of deep desire lay dormant, broken into fragments by an icy stare from the haggard, furrowed brow of nature – its cruel intent, to taunt the soul with beauty always out of reach, that disappears like mist with time…”

Hailing from Martins Ferry, a city in Belmont County, Ohio, United States, on the Ohio River, the extremely talented American Blackened Doom power trio Coldfells has just unleashed their debut full-length self-titled album upon us, bringing the aura of the band’s Appalachian surroundings as the album’s core essence. According to Coldfells themselves, the sonic purpose of the album is “to see the winter Appalachian landscapes we grew up around, the dead trees, grey skies, run-down mill towns, but, besides everything being desolate, it’s still beautiful.” And the trio comprised of Aaron Carey on vocals and additional guitars, Jonny Doyle on guitars, and Andrew D’Cagna on bass, drums and backing vocals definitely succeeded in providing with the music found in Coldfells a perfect soundtrack to journeys outside frozen windows and within frozen souls in a winter night of introspection.

Creepy, obscure keys ignite a 10-minute darkened feast of Doom Metal named The Rope, spearheaded by the sharp, slow-paced drumming by Andrew while Aaron fires his raspy gnarls tailored for the music and atmosphere created. This song brings a beautiful and melancholic musicality with a precise balance between clean and harsh vocals, or in other words, a very detailed composition recommended for fans of dark and smooth music with a piercing sonority, with its last part flirting with traditional Black Metal. With a melancholic start just like the opening track, The Sea Inside explodes into gripping Melodic Black Metal with highlights to the deep growls by Aaron and the mesmerizing riffs by Jonny, sounding atmospheric and doomed at all times and, consequently, providing amazing Blackened Doom for admirers of the genre. In Time Shall Be Forgotten, the shortest of all songs, is devastating from the very first second, with Andrew demolishing his drum set while Jonny fires sheer darkness through his strings. In addition, the song contains elements from the music by Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and other darkened bands, which ends up making it as menacing and lugubrious as hell.

All Night We Flew offers the listener sluggish and devilish Blackened Doom, with Aaron and Andrew adding tons of malignancy and darkness to the music with their anguished growls and steady, pounding beats. Once again, harsh and clean vocals complement each other in a fantastic manner, not to mention its magnificent main riff. Hence, while listening to this full-bodied hymn, simply bang your fuckin’ head nonstop until you feel that excruciating pain inside your head. And the last explosion of atmospheric Doom Metal by Coldfells, titled Eons Pass, sounds very stylish and harmonious, with the clean voice by Andrew bringing hope to our ears while Aaron reminds us all life is dark and dammed. Furthermore, the trio wants to drag us to a dark and cold side of life with the song’s mournful rhythm, and after a melancholic break the band returns in full force for one final breath of their Blackened Doom led by the blast beats by Andrew, until the song’s hellish conclusion.

In a nutshell, if what Coldfells wanted us all to feel while listening to their music was the beauty and desolation of the Appalachian landscapes, as aforementioned, they more than triumphed with each one of the five tracks of the album, which by the way can be enjoyed in its entirety on Spotify. And if you want to purchase Coldfells, the album is available at the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as on CD Baby and on Amazon. Actually, there’s a special edition of the album that’s already sold out at the Eihwaz Recordings’ webstore, which includes the two songs from their 2014 demo Black Breath as bonus tracks, but if I were you I would keep an eye on that just in case they print more copies of it.

Best moments of the album: The Rope and All Night We Flew.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bindrune Recordings/Eihwaz Recordings

Track listing
1. The Rope 10:26
2. The Sea Inside 8:18
3. In Time Shall Be Forgotten 5:36
4. All Night We Flew 8:28
5. Eons Pass 7:51

Eihwaz Recordings Black Breath Demo 2014 (Disc 2) bonus tracks
1. Dungeons Deep 8:32
2. On Carven Throne 8:17

Band members
Aaron Carey – vocals, additional guitars
Jonny Doyle – guitars
Andrew D’Cagna – bass, drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Dö / Astral: Death/Birth EP (2017)

A cathartic 20-minute experience in the form of a concept EP inspired by things happening around us at this very moment, and the future that does not look that bright for mankind, brought forth by the Finnish propagators of “Dööm Metal”.

There’s a wicked phenomenon that has been happening once a year in the city of “Hellsinki”, Finland for the past few years, when a trio of ill-tempered creatures that goes by the uncanny name of  leaves their secret, somber den to unleash upon us mere mortals all their wrath and negativity in the form of raw Doom and Stoner Metal, or simply “Dööm Metal”, as christened by Dö themselves. It first happened in 2014 with the release of their self-titled EP, then again in 2015 with an EP titled Den, and once again in 2016 with the full-length Tuho. Now in 2017 it’s time for this eerie tradition (or perhaps I should call it an annual ritual) to strike us again with the release of their brand new scathing EP Astral: Death/Birth.

Featuring a minimalist but meaningful cover art by the band’s own guitarist Big Dog, Astral: Death/Birth brings all the traditional elements found in their previous albums without forgetting to move forward in their already solid career. “Over a year has passed since we released Tuho, and now we’re back with a brand new two song EP called Astral: Death/Birth. It’s a concept EP inspired by things happening around us at this very moment, and the future that does not look that bright for mankind. The songs were recorded live during one session at our rehearsal den, as we wanted to capture the intensive live feeling and maintain their roughness. The tracks are basically individual, but we highly recommend you to enjoy Astral: Death/Birth as one cathartic 20 minute experience”, said the band about the album. I guess I don’t need to say more, right? Just relax and join Dö in their doomed astral voyage of life and death, feeling every second of their coarse sounds penetrating deep into your mind.

One interesting fact about the EP is that the band itself has already provided their own “review” of each one of the two songs. According to Dö, the first track of the EP, titled Astral Death, is “a song that’s heavy as the burden we carry with us when scuffing towards the inevitable end”, and let’s say they’re spot-on with their description of this tune perfect for breaking your already damaged neck into pieces. The distorted guitar lines by Big Dog, together with the damned drums by Joe E. Deliverance, kick off this beyond obscure Doom Metal hymn, before reaching a sluggish, heavy feast of demonic riffs that flawlessly support the hellish raspy vocals by Deaf Hank. Moreover, Big Dog blasts one of his traditional guitar solos while Deaf Hank shakes the earth with his ominous bass, resulting in a thrilling thunderstorm of sounds.

“A cosmic rebirth in form of a song. Starts as calm, mantra-like levitation, until it transforms into vicious, unstoppable force of nature.” Those are their words to describe the metallic extravaganza titled Astral Birth, where their demented sounds intoxicate the air throughout the song’s 12 minutes of melodious Doom and Stoner Metal. Deaf Hank and Big Dog align their strings powerfully, while Joe fires his steady and rhythmic old school beats. The vocals never get too harsh in the beginning, sounding arcane and hypnotizing, but that lasts for only around four minutes. After a gripping display of dark music, the band’s demonic vein arises again with Deaf Hank gnarling in a bestial way, being effectively complemented by the song’s tribal beats, wicked distortions and pure psychedelia, with all those sounds and noises invading our ears until the song’s harrowing ending.

The full EP is already available for a detailed listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and you can always keep updated with all things Dö through their Facebook page as usual. And, of course, you can support the most villainous power trio of the entire Scandinavia by purchasing Astral: Death/Birth through their BandCamp page or on iTunes. Now that their yearly rite of “Dööm Metal” has been successfully consummated, it’s time for Dö to spread their damned sounds across the earth with their live performances before they get back to their lair and start working again on new material, for the delight of admirers of obscure, sluggish and low-tuned music.

Best moments of the album: Astral Death is my favorite of the two songs, but Astral Birth is also pretty amazing.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Astral Death 7:46
2. Astral Birth 12:16

Band members
Deaf Hank – vocals, bass
Big Dog – guitar, backing vocals
Joe E. Deliverance – drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Ghost Horizon / The Erotics of Disgust EP (2017)

Four distinct compositions that will pierce into your mind and soul in a beautiful way, brought forth by a musician that definitely knows how to transform his deepest feelings into great music.

If you’re an admirer of the most obscure and melancholic forms of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal, I have some very good news for you. Critically acclaimed Post-Black Metal act Ghost Horizon is back with a brand new EP, titled The Erotics of Disgust, a follow-up (but with a considerably different sounding) to the band’s previous EP Astral Possessions, released in 2016.  This time around, this Phoenix-based project consists of founder Dan Stollings on vocals and all stringed instruments, and newcomer “Frog” Magus (Norse) on drums, who together brought into being four distinct compositions that will pierce into your soul and crush your feelings in a beautiful way.

Dan commented that the EP “has been waiting in the darkness for quite a while now – it’s been completed for months. It’s been hard to let this EP into the world, because in a lot of ways, I’m sharing some pretty deep emotions that I would never talk about otherwise. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in the process of its creation, and I think that’s reflected pretty heavily in the music. The decision to do the vocals myself was also a part of this realization that in order to portray exactly what I’m thinking, I need to use my own voice. Nothing on this album is perfect. I didn’t want it to be perfect. At first I went into writing with the mentality that this will be the best produced thing I’ve ever done, but after finishing the vocals, I realized this thing needs to be raw. And so it was.” After reading such powerful words by Dan, I’m sure you’re more than curious to listen to The Erotics of Disgust, but once again let me warn you that the music might be too dark for the average listener.

Radiant Eyes presents an introspective beginning for this new phase of Ghost Horizon, gradually morphing into a dark amalgamation of Blackened Doom and Post-Black Metal with hints of progressiveness enhancing the song’s depressive sonority. Moreover, “Frog” Magus does an amazing job on drums, maintaining the song’s dense rhythm flowing smoothly. In So Hollow, not only Dan surprises us with his clean vocals supported by a gentle ambience, but the song’s lyrics also prove that he’s definitely a skillful poet of darkness (“You can take it all / Everything we know / You can break it all / You chose a path I cannot follow / You left a heart in me so hollow / Changing skies above / Breaking hearts below / On again / True love / Off again / Bruised love”). This is modern and gripping Atmospheric Black Metal that brings at the same time peace and hopelessness to our hearts, making us eager for more of the music by Ghost Horizon.

Following a similar pattern to the previous song, This Forever Flow also presents delicate guitars and bass lines together with the Doom Metal-inspired beats by “Frog”, with its last piece getting heavier due to the harsh growls by Dan without losing its core subtlety. Besides, how not to get touched by its profound lyrics (“Fading from my heart is the will to be one / Fear in my words – last words to my love / Fire fading quickly, your lips have left me cold / The ending of a romance with the ending left untold”)? Lastly, featuring guitarist and composer Tyler Allen on guest vocals, Ghost Horizon deliver a full-bodied darkened composition bursting with anguish, despair and melancholy entitled Whispers, with its Black Metal riffs and blast beats bringing an extra dosage of obscurity to the overall musicality. In my humble opinion, it’s the best and most complete of the four songs of the EP, the type of music I would like to see Dan explore even more with his future releases.

In summary, although many people have a lot of difficulties to talk about their deepest feelings, it seems that Dan has simply mastered how to express his own feelings through the music by Ghost Horizon. However, you have to be very open-minded and absorb each second of The Erotics of Disgust in order to fully understand the whole message delivered by Dan this time, letting your mind and soul minutely merge with the music found on this fine album. And you can always get to know Ghost Horizon in more detail through their Facebook page and listen to their music on Spotify, as well as purchase your copy of The Erotics of Disgust on BandCamp, at the Tridroid Records’ webshop, on Cd Baby, on Amazon or on iTunes. The Erotics of Disgust is certainly not Dan’s last stint with his Ghost Horizon, which means there’s still a lot to come from such distinct act, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Best moments of the album: Whispers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Radiant Eyes 4:11
2. So Hollow 4:05
3. This Forever Flow 5:01
4. Whispers 4:34

Band members
Dan Stollings – all stringed instruments, vocals
“Frog” Magus – drums

Guest musician
Tyler Allen – additional vocals on “Whispers”

Album Review – Astral Corpse / Metsän Pimeydessä EP (2017)

Enter the forest of darkness ruled by a cold-hearted Keravian Black Metal horde and succumb to their malignancy and hatred.

From the depths of ancient Keravian burial grounds, influenced by Nordic nature and music, Finnish Black Metal horde Astral Corpse launches their first sonic onslaught, titled Metsän Pimeydessä, or “In the Forest of Darkness” from Finnish. If you love Black Metal without compromise, you’ll surely have fun listening to the 20 minutes of what the band calls “True Keravian Black Metal”, which translates into sheer obscurity, blasphemy, speed and raw sounds. Are you ready to enter the forest of darkness ruled by Astral Corpse?

Hailing from Kerava, a citiy in Southern Finland located around 40km north of the capital Helsinki, Astral Corpse have been through several lineup changes after their inception back in 2008 before reaching their current shape and form. With lead singer, guitarist and founding member AstroNuclear Agitator, guitarist Frostektor, bassist Arcane Desolator and drummer Cosmic Triumphator extracting extreme aggression and vileness from their instruments, Metsän Pimeydessä becomes more than just their debut EP, but a solid statement that Astral Corpse are among us to stay, bringing darkness to our souls and high-quality Black Metal to our ears.

The Black Metal attack led by the putrid growls by AstroNuclear Agitator begins in full force with Cease to Exist, with Cosmic Triumphator obviously delivering the most traditional blast beats you can imagine, not to mention how the song ends in a brutal way. In Drain the Blood, AstroNuclear Agitator and Frostektor accelerate their riffage, blasting sheer darkness through their guitars while Cosmic Triumphator and bassist Arcane Desolator keep a menacing atmosphere rumbling in the background, proving how loyal they are to the foundations of traditional Black Metal. And the title-track Metsän Pimeydessä lives up to its name, being an obscure Black Metal hymn spiced up with hints of Doom Metal, with the potent and precise beats by Cosmic Triumphator dictating the rhythm while AstroNuclear Agitator keeps gnarling and roaring like a demon.

Welcome to the Spirit World gets back to the band’s most demonic stage, being a furious display of extreme music where not only the guitars sound on fire, but the hatred and aggressiveness flowing from both vocals and drums is outstanding. Put differently, it can’t get any more blackened than this. Following that intense tune, epicness and blasphemy are the main ingredients in the evil chant Nocturnal Winds, inspired by the most traditional form of Scandinavian Black Metal with its old school guitar lines and bestial drums impregnating the atmosphere. Finally, how about ending the EP with a pulverizing Black Metal aria? That’s what we get in the thrilling Winds of Death, with AstroNuclear Agitator barking his last breath of malignancy while Cosmic Triumphator crushes his drums mercilessly, therefore generating a chaotic and dense musicality that aims at dragging us to the pits of hell.

All the malice, irreligiousness and odium flowing from the forest of darkness ruled by Astral Corpse can be explored through the band’s Facebook page and SoundCloud, with Metsän Pimeydessä (which you can take a listen at in its entirety HERE) being available at the Orbovoid Records’ webshop. But remember that once you enter this Keravian forest full of malignancy and hatred, there’s no way back. You’ll be trapped forever in Astral Corpse’s dark realm of old school Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Drain the Blood and Welcome to the Spirit World.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Orbovoid Records

Track listing
1. Cease to Exist 3:43
2. Drain the Blood 3:04
3. Metsän Pimeydessä 2:53
4. Welcome to the Spirit World 2:41
5. Nocturnal Winds 3:28
6. Winds of Death 5:24

Band members
AstroNuclear Agitator – vocals, guitars
Frostektor – guitars
Arcane Desolator – bass
Cosmic Triumphator – drums