Album Review – Tableau Mort / Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion (2019)

A spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection in the form of atmospheric and emotional Black Metal.

Drawing on symbolic and thematic influences from Romanian Orthodox Christianity, Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, the debut album by British Black Metal horde Tableau Mort, is a spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection, which is often a path to madness. Recorded and produced by Jerry Sadowski and George Topor, mixed and mastered by Neil Haynes at Parlour Studios, and featuring a beyond obscure artwork by Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Design), Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion will bring to your ears a truly atmospheric and emotional sound that is both melodic and melancholic, also mixing Orthodox chanting with frenzied screams to expand on the band’s macabre foundations.

Formed in 2017 in London, the band comprised of veteran musicians of the underground scene (all of Romanian origin), those being James Andrews on lead vocals, George Topor on the guitar, keys and backing vocals, Cristian Giurgiu also on the guitar, Marek Basista on bass and George Bratosin on drums and backing vocals, might describe themselves as a Black Metal band, but there are in fact a lot more aspects and layers to their sound, resulting in the modern and powerful music found in Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion. Not only that, the band also invests heavily on their onstage performance and attire, proving those servants of the dark are more than prepared to spread their blasphemous message all over the world no matter who their enemies are.

Darkness is already upon us in the melodic and boisterous opening track Impending Corruption, where atmospheric keys complement the slashing riffs by George Topor and Cristian while James leads the horde with his fiendish gnarls and screeches. After such ominous start it’s time for Fall of Man and its darkly poetic lyrics (“And I find in your face, a most unfamiliar maze / I gaze at the sky as the colour bleeds out of space / In this moment of grief I light myself ablaze”), a Black Metal mass with hints of classic Blackened Doom (which obviously makes it even more menacing) where George Bratosin sounds extremely precise and brutal at the same time on drums. And it seems Tableau Mort want to get darker and darker as the album progresses, just like what we’re able to witness in Carpenter Of Sorrow, with Marek’s low-tune, devilish bass lines building a thunderous base for James to thrive with his unearthly roars; whereas Broken On The Wheel is a sonic mass of Stygian and venomous sounds where George Topor and Cristian are absolutely infernal with their guitars, while George Bratosin alternates between blast beats and doomed, intricate passages for our vulgar delectation.

Leaning towards classic Norwegian Black Metal, the band offers us an explosion of the most aggressive and obscure sounds you can think of in Tapestry Sewn, where James and George Bratosin sound utterly demonic on vocals and drums, respectively, and also bringing the most obscure elements from old school Doom Metal, therefore being prohibited for the lighthearted.  The band’s guitar duo keep crushing their sulfurous strings in Mother’s Promise while Marek and George Bratosin make the earth tremble with their weapons, inspiring us all to bang our heads and raise our horns to this ode to all things evil. Last but not least, a gargantuan amount of heaviness flows from all instruments in Beyond His Gaze, reeking of despair and insanity and showcasing captivating, poetic lyrics (“In Every blade of grass that shoots from the ground / The animals that graze, the parasites that feed / The rays of the sun that penetrate the darkness / The breeze that carries the rain”). Furthermore, the beyond demonic growling by James adds an extra touch of malignancy to this devilish aria, putting a climatic ending to such astounding album.

Tableau Mort’s lecture in Romanian Orthodox Christianity in the form of somber and disturbing Black Metal can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to those UK metallers simply follow them on Facebook and purchase your copy of Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion from Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webstore, as well as from Apple Music, Amazon or Discogs. Tableau Mort are definitely pinning the entire UK on the worldwide map of Black Metal with their music, and based on their skills, passion for heavy music and creativity, they have the potential to become one of the references of the genre in the coming years, leaving their mark already upon humanity with Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, and leaving us eager for more of their cryptic creations.

Best moments of the album: Fall of Man and Tapestry Sewn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. Impending Corruption 4:32
2. Fall of Man 6:17
3. Carpenter Of Sorrow 4:37
4. Broken On The Wheel 4:55
5. Tapestry Sewn 5:02
6. Mother’s Promise 4:41
7. Beyond His Gaze 6:18

Band members
James Andrews – lead vocals
George Topor – guitar, keys, backing vocals
Cristian Giurgiu – guitar
Marek Basista – bass
George Bratosin – drums, backing vocals

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Album Review – Sathamel / Horror Vacui (2019)

A seething cauldron of fire and blood in the form of Blackened Death Metal made in the UK, feeding the primal fear that writhes in our souls.

Is there anything more terrifying to the human mind than the void? Is it not the emptiness that lies beyond our last breath that props up all our dreams of heaven? That’s what a Black/Death Metal band formed in 2012 in Leeds, a city in the northern English county of Yorkshire, under the name Sheol, but currently known as Sathamel, is going to tell us all in their brand new album entitled Horror Vacui, a concept in art that is approximately translated from Latin to “fear of empty spaces”, continuing the path of darkness from their previous releases after a two-year hiatus while creating a more cohesive sound, and with the title applied in a more literal sense in terms of the void felt while the entity that is Sathamel had halted all activity.

Mixed and mastered by Samuel Turbitt at Ritual Sound Studios, Horror Vacui is a seething cauldron of fire and blood, a declaration of war, an edict of domination and a sentence of death, all embraced by the fulminating and devilish sounds blasted by Sathamel’s brand new lineup comprised of vocalist Kruk, guitarists KVN and Cygnus, bassist Nadir and drummer Reykr, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the scorching music by Hate, Behemoth, Deicide and Marduk. Each song in Horror Vacui carries that touch of darkness from beyond the world and feeds the primal fear that writhes in our souls, powerfully representing all your fears unleashed in an unrelenting firestorm of terror.

In the opening tune Libera Me, a cinematic intro will enfold you in darkness until the music reaches a devilish level led by Kruk’s enraged roars, growing into modern-day Black Metal showcasing scorching riffs by KVN and Cygnus and the infernal blast beats by Reykr. Needless to say, this is not recommended for the lighthearted, being effectively spiced up by phantasmagorical background sounds and vocalizations. The title-track Horror Vacui is brutal and blasphemous in the vein of Behemoth, with its dense and sulfuric instrumental penetrating deep inside your skin while you can enjoy dark poetry flowing form its lyrics (“Together as one / A carrion beast and tyrant’s fist / to consume the stars with purest joy / and to feed on covenants of creation / I create a masterpiece of horror and ecstasy / My canvas – your hollow smile / The front line expands under mastro’s hands / Universe bends to painter’s will”); and it’s time for total devastation with Sathamel in Raise Flame From Ash, an explosion of Blackened Death Metal where the vocals by Kruk sound as bestial and deep as they can be, with a venomous stench reeking in the air during its two and a half minutes of darkened sounds smashing your brain mercilessly.

KVN and Cygnus, supported by the rumbling bass by Nadir, dictate the rhythm in A New Age Of Lycanthropy, a neck-breaking, malevolent tune presenting all elements we love in extreme music, including a truly obscure and evil aura, whereas in The Devil’s Hand we’re treated to another onrush of demonic words (“Alive but intimate in death / Like maggots we nest / Nest in dead flesh / Alive but dependant on death / Like red fields we blossom embracing the dead”) while the music is beyond infernal, bringing to our ears flammable riffs by the band’s guitar duo and an intricate drumming by Reykr to give the whole song an extra kick. Then Kruk growls and gnarls like a beast from the underworld in Whispers Of A Husk, where the vicious beats by Reykr will crack your skull mercilessly in a lesson in technique and obscurity in the name of Black Metal.

Blazing guitars ignite the also hellish Świt, a cult-like, headbanging hymn crafted by the band, with Nadir extracting sheer thunder from his bass while the background choir makes the whole song more epic and imposing, not to mention how Kruk’s vocals remind me of Unleashed’s own Johnny Hedlund. There’s no time to breathe as Sathamel keep haunting our souls with their fiendish Blackened Death Metal in There Where Is No Time, not as complex and vibrant as the rest of the album but still presenting the band’s characteristic riffage and harsh vocals, and you better get ready for almost eight minutes of virulent and Stygian sounds in Of Spilled Wine And Broken Glass, more rhythmic than all previous songs and full of breaks and variations, but obviously still unleashing pure evil on us, ending in a twisted and obscure way.

If your heart is as dark as the music by Sathamel, and if you do not fear being trapped for all eternity in the void, you can follow the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and grab your copy of such otherworldly album, which by the way is available in full on Spotify, from their own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Sathamel’s onrush of darkness and void will leave you completely disoriented from start to finish, proving once and for all there’s nothing better than some first-class Blackened Death Metal hailing from our beloved United Kingdom to feed all of our inner demons and fears.

Best moments of the album: Horror Vacui, Raise Flame From Ash and Whispers Of A Husk.

Worst moments of the album: There Where Is No Time.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Libera Me 5:51
2. Horror Vacui 4:32
3. Raise Flame From Ash 2:38
4. A New Age Of Lycanthropy 4:20
5. The Devil’s Hand 3:55
6. Whispers Of A Husk 3:48
7. Świt 3:55
8. There Where Is No Time 3:53
9. Of Spilled Wine And Broken Glass 7:41

Band members
Kruk – vocal
KVN – guitar
Cygnus- guitar
Nadir – bass
Reykr – drums

Album Review – Alunah / Violet Hour (2019)

The Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of the newborn spawn by a fantastic UK-based Hard Rock and Doom Metal unity.

Brace yourselves, my dear metalheads, as the Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of Violet Hour, the brand new album by UK-based Hard Rock/Doom Metal frontrunners Alunah, one of the best albums of 2019 from the underground and independent scene without a shadow of a doubt. Founded in 2006 in “Sabbath City”, usually referred to as Birmingham, the band comprised of the enchantress Siân Greenaway on vocals, the talented Dean Ashton (bassist for UK’s Hard Rock institution Diamond Head) on the guitar, the unstoppable Daniel Burchmore on bass and founding member Jake Mason on drums is ready to strike once again harder than ever, bringing more riffs, more swagger and more groove to our avid ears with their newborn opus.

Recorded at Wales’ historic Foel Studio, produced by Chris Fielding (Skyhammer Studio), and featuring a beyond obscure and captivating artwork by Brazilian artist Felipe Froeder (Arcano XV), Violent Hour offers the listener a searing combination of intoxicating melodies and riffs on top of a high-class songwriting. “Alunah are very happy and excited to release Violet Hour to the world. It has been so enjoyable to write and record this album during an energetic and focused period for the band. Having it released on Heavy Psych Sounds is a great feeling and we cannot wait for people to hear it. The time to fear is now!”, commented the band about the album, inviting all of us to join them in their quest for old school doom.

Siân and the boys don’t give us a single second to breathe in the amazing opening track Trapped & Bound, spearheaded by Dean’s heavy-as-hell riffs and Jake’s pounding drums. I dare you to not bang your head to the song’s hypnotizing rhythm, a perfect fusion of the doomed music by Black Sabbath with the badass Sludge Metal played by Crowbar, and to show you how awesome this song is, it’s also featured on the 2019 compilation Doomed & Stoned in England, just like another crushing song by their countrymen Warcrab. And the somber, deep and addictive vocals by Siân add an extra touch of evil to the dark and sluggish Dance of Deceit, where Dean and Daniel are merciless with their stringed weapons, not to mention Dean’s amazing solo as the icing on the cake.

Then we’re treated to Hunt, a lesson in Doom Metal by Alunah sounding slow and enthralling form start to finish, with Jake’s beats bringing nuances of melancholy to the music while Siân beautifully declaims the song’s devilish lyrics. Put differently, it reminds me of some of the best tracks from Heaven & Hell’s classic The Devil You Know, and if you like that album you know what I’m talking about. In Hypnotised the name of the song says it all, with Dean being on fire with his demonic riffage and solos while Daniel couldn’t sound more thunderous on bass. Hence, it keeps the album at a high level of heaviness and darkness, being therefore recommended for all your beer-drinking, headbanging moments in life, whereas the title-track Violet Hour is just as mesmerizing and delicious as its predecessors, with Siân’s vocals sounding so powerful it’s hard to describe them in just a few words, and with Dean slashing our ears and minds with his grim guitar lines.

Jake smashes his drums fiercely in the also obscure and sexy Unholy Disease, one of those Doom Metal songs that will put you in a trance, or in other words, your soul belongs solely to Siân during the song’s five minutes of razor-edged riffs, low-tuned bass punches and an endless amount of electricity. Velvet sounds as delicate but at the same time as hot and striking as velvet itself, being the perfect soundtrack for a movie scene at an obscure pub somewhere in the middle of England, while Jake keeps hammering his drums slowly and steady just the way we like it, nicely boosted by Daniel’s metallic, rumbling bass. And crisp guitar lines and an enfolding atmosphere are the main ingredients in Lake of Fire, a dark and serene composition showcasing another flawless vocal performance by Siân supported by the thunderous sounds blasted by her bandmates, making you want to walk into a real lake of fire with her until the song’s ethereal finale.

This precious gem of classic Doom Metal made in the UK is already on pre-sale on the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp and webstore, as well as on several other locations such as the All That Is Heavy webstore, the Season of Mist webstore, the Shiny Beast music mailorder, and Amazon. Having said that, simply let your mind be enfolded by the spellbinding Doom Metal delivered by Alunah in Violet Hour, and may your damned soul forever be comfortable in darkness, exactly how we expect it to be in first-class Doom Metal from the always somber and charming United Kingdom.

Best moments of the album: Trapped & Bound, Hunt and Unholy Disease.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Trapped & Bound 4:58
2. Dance of Deceit 3:54
3. Hunt 5:38
4. Hypnotised 6:11
5. Violet Hour 4:24
6. Unholy Disease 4:55
7. Velvet 6:22
8. Lake of Fire 6:33

Band members
Siân Greenaway – vocals
Dean Ashton – guitar
Daniel Burchmore – bass
Jake Mason – drums

Album Review – Gorebringer / A Craving For Flesh (2019)

A gory fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more extreme styles blasted by a bloodthirsty trio from the UK, eviscerating your ears and minds ruthlessly.

Proudly carrying the flag of Melodic Death Metal everywhere they go, but always venturing through more aggressive and gory lands, London, England-based triumvirate Gorebringer has just unleashed upon us their debut full-length opus entitled A Craving For Flesh, highly recommended for admirers of the fusion of speed, violence and melody blasted by bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and At The Gates. Formed in 2017 by vocalist Blööd Wörm (also known as Gorebringer himself), guitarist and bassist Stench, and drummer Carrion, Gorebringer offer in A Craving For Flesh everything we love in traditional Swedish Melodic Death Metal, but of course with their own British (and utterly putrid) twist. Mixed and mastered by TsunTsun Productions, and featuring a demonic, parasite-inspired artwork by Kumislizer Design, A Craving For Flesh will eviscerate your ears and mind ruthlessly, showing Gorebringer are not among us to make new friends, but instead to pulverize us with their bloodthirsty onrush of sounds.

An ominous intro featuring the dark keys by guest B.ulugüney ignites the demolishing The Fog, where Carrion showcases all his technique and fury from the very first beat while Blööd Wörm’s hellish gnarls sound a lot more Black Metal than Melodic Death Metal, therefore bringing a humongous amount of obscurity to the music. Then deep guttural growls and nonstop blast beats permeate the air in Meatporn, showcasing classic Death Metal-like lyrics (“Rotten breath fills the air / As the eyes rolling back, / Sweat drops on smelly-sexy / Corpse of your beloved one.”), as well as some sick Carcass-inspired riffs and solos and demented bass punches powerfully delivered by Stench; and it’s time to slam into the circle pit to the high-octane and extremely vile Rivers Of Blood, with its strident, metallic guitars adding more balance to the overall devastation brought forth by the trio, resulting in a lesson in modern Melodic Death Metal with a truly devilish vibe.

In My Sweet Knife, a crisp and austere fusion of Melodic and Blackened Death Metal tailored for admirers of the darkest forms of metal music, we’re treated to over four minutes of nonstop action where the vocals by Blööd Wörm overflow adrenaline and rage, whereas in The Cabin a movie-inspired beginning evolves into a to a dark, raw and neck-breaking sonic extravaganza where Carrion is absolutely precise and violent on drums, with the overall musicality flirting with classic Black Metal at times. And back to a more Arch Enemy/Carcass-inspired mode, the trio fires sheer hatred and madness in Shattered Sanity, with Stench continuing to slash his strings mercilessly while the infernal roars by Blööd Wörm get even more piercing and menacing than before.

Bloodsoaked Chapel is a sonic havoc blending the most visceral elements from Melodic Death Metal and modern-day Hardcore where its bass couldn’t sound more metallic, also presenting demented, controversial lyrics (“Oh sodomized slaves of my mine / Stop whining, surrender and have fun / My rage will grow faster, darker / Digging your holes is my absolute pleasure / Your flesh is my most precious toy / Your skin decorates my den perfectly”). After such high level of aggressiveness, the trio slows things down a bit and offers us a darker, more introspective composition titled The Hollow, clearly inspired by the music by Arch Enemy. It’s not that this is a bad song, but in my humble opinion Gorebringer sound a lot more cohesive and vibrant when they play at the speed of light. Lastly, Carrion accelerates the band’s wicked pace in the closing tune, the instrumental beast named The Restless Forest, once again flirting with Melodic Black Metal, while Stench gives a lecture in electricity and groove with his guitar shredding and bass jabs.

I’m pretty sure the guys from Gorebringer are beyond satisfied with the outcome of their collective efforts in A Craving For Flesh (available for a full listen on YouTube), and they definitely should be, as their debut album is indeed an amazing work of contemporary Melodic Death Metal infused with the goriest elements from traditional Death Metal the likes of Cannibal Corpse. Hence, if you want to show your true support to this talented trio from the UK, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to purchase your copy of A Craving For Flesh from the Gate Of The Silver Key Records’ BandCamp page or from Discogs, helping Gorebringer spread their visceral, acid and absolutely sanguinary creations to the four corner of our rotten and evil world.

Best moments of the album: Meatporn, Rivers Of Blood and Bloodsoaked Chapel.

Worst moments of the album: The Hollow.

Released in 2019 Gate Of The Silver Key Records

Track listing
1. The Fog 5:54
2. Meatporn 3:17
3. Rivers Of Blood 3:46
4. My Sweet Knife 4:34
5. The Cabin 6:29
6. Shattered Sanity 4:42
7. Bloodsoaked Chapel 3:30
8. The Hollow 4:30
9. The Restless Forest 4:41

Band members
Blööd Wörm – vocals
Stench – guitars, bass
Carrion – drums

Guest musician
B.ulugüney – keyboards

Album Review – Warcrab / Damned In Endless Night (2019)

May all your nights be damned to the sound of the soul-crushing death and doom blasted by UK’s own monolithic metal workhorses in their brand new opus.

There’s nothing better than a badass and absolutely pulverizing fusion of Death, Sludge and Doom Metal to haunt our souls on a Friday the 13th, don’t you agree? I’m pretty sure not even Jason Voorhees himself is capable of generating such heavy and reverberating sounds like UK’s own monolithic metal workhorses Warcrab, who after three years of silence return with an ever darker and more threatening sonority found in their new full-length opus, entitled Damned In Endless Night, a thunderous display of unbelievable heaviness and groove that will please all fans of the soul-crushing death and doom played by bands like Bolt Thrower, Crowbar and Eyehategod.

Carrying on where they last left in their 2016 release Scars of Aeons with their unique blend of down-tuned Sludge and ponderous Death Metal, Warcrab flesh it out and leave no room for doubt on the efficacy of their powerful and cohesive fusion of underground styles in Damned in Endless Night. Featuring almost the same lineup as from their previous album, with Martyn Grant on vocals (replacing former singer Kane Nelson), Geoff Holmes,  Paul “Budgie” Garbett and Leigh Jones on the guitars, Dave “Guppy” Simmonds on bass, and Rich Parker on drums, the long-awaited full-length from this Plymouth, Devon, England-based band is arguably their best release to date, cementing Warcrab as one of the flagships of the current underground metal scene in their homeland.

Perpetua is a serene intro where the band’s guitar trio warms up our senses for the hammering and bold Halo of Flies, with the sluggish guitars by Geoff, Paul and Leigh dictating the rhythm while Martyn begins vociferating like a demonic entity and Rich pounds his drums slowly and fiercely. In the Arms of Armageddon sounds closer to what the band offered in Scars of Aeons, which means an infernal, low-tuned and grim musicality smashing our heads mercilessly, not to mention the massive wall of sounds created by Dave and Rich in the background, whereas Blood for the Blood God is pure old school Sludge and Doom Metal for your avid ears, with Rich sounding utterly ominous on drums while Martyn basically vomits the song’s lyrics in a brutal and devilish way, therefore being highly recommended for breaking your neck in half headbanging.

Then the creepy guitars by Warcrab’s stringed triumvirate penetrate deep inside our minds in Abyssal Mausoleum, and you better get ready for over eight minutes of damned passages, low-tuned bass lines and endless obscurity, showcasing Geoff on absolute fire with his doomed guitar solos; and  Dave slashes our ears with his distorted bass lines in Magnetic Fields Collapse, a classic display of modern-day Sludge Metal infused with Death Metal-inspired vocals. In other words, simply keep banging your head nonstop and raise your horns to Warcrab until the song’s fulminating grand finale; followed by Kraken Arise (which by the way is also featured in a very interesting 2019 compilation titled Doomed & Stoned in England), a bestial onrush of Sludge Metal by Warcrab spearheaded by Martyn’s enraged roars, with Dave and Rich sounding as thunderous as the music demands with their sonic weapons.

Warcrab Damned in Endless Night Silver-embossed CD Box Set

Dave’s menacing bass lines are embraced by wicked distortions and a somber atmosphere in Unfurling Wings of Damnation, leaning towards classic Doom Metal the likes of Celtic Frost and Black Sabbath, with Geoff, Paul and Leigh extracting minimalist but potent and sharp sounds from their guitars, growing in intensity until it reaches a decimating, rockin’ sonority for our total delectation. Needless to say, Geoff’s solos are insanely heavy and crisp, adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result. Swords sounds and feels dark and demonic from start to finish, keeping the album at a truly high level of acidity, rage and madness, with Rich stealing the spotlight with his steady, sluggish beats while Martyn growls and gnarls nonstop. and its lugubrious final moments build an instant connection with the outro Damnati, an instrumental feast of cutting riffs and solos, pounding beats and sheer darkness that puts a climatic ending to such impactful album.

I became a fan of the music by Warcrab in 2016 after listening to Scars of Aeons, but I must admit those guys stepped up their game in terms of aggressiveness, obscurity and intricacy in Damned In Endless Night, on sale from several locations such as the band’s own BandCamp page and the Transcending Obscurity webstore (where you can also find a sensational Damned in Endless Night silver-embossed CD box set, limited to 150 and containing an 8-panel silver digipak CD, an autographed card signed by the band personally, a logo patch, an album artwork badge, a fridge magnet and a 3D sticker), as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow this six-piece infernal horde on Facebook and to bang your head like a maniac to their harsh and ruthless music, and then (only then) may all your nights be endless and damned.

Best moments of the album: Halo of Flies, Blood for the Blood God and Kraken Arise.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Perpetua (instrumental) 1:59
2. Halo of Flies 5:20
3. In the Arms of Armageddon 5:27
4. Blood for the Blood God 5:49
5. Abyssal Mausoleum 8:25
6. Magnetic Fields Collapse 4:22
7. Kraken Arise 3:35
8. Unfurling Wings of Damnation 7:33
9. Swords 6:18
10. Damnati (instrumental) 3:13

Band members
Martyn Grant – vocals
Geoff Holmes – lead guitar
Paul “Budgie” Garbett – guitar
Leigh Jones – guitar
Dave “Guppy” Simmonds – bass
Rich Parker – drums

Album Review – Grimgotts / Dragons of the Ages (2019)

Set sail and enjoy this concept album about a war between dragons, sea-creatures and men in the form of classic and imposing Symphonic Power Metal.

Formed in the town of Horsham in 2015 by vocalist Andy Barton as a joke parody band at first, British Symphonic Power Metal act Grimgotts initially described themselves as “probably the best Harry Potter themed symphonic power metal band to come out of West Sussex”, having released only one (unofficial) single under that gimmick. Fortunately for us, fans of symphonic metal music, Andy decided to shift the band’s focus to fantasy and nautical themes the following year, and with the help of other musicians Grimgotts released their debut EP entitled Here Be Dragonlords, followed by another EP that same year named Extenditus Playus, the EP Part Man, Part Beast, Part Dragon in early 2017, and the full-length album Lions of the Sea by late 2017 after teaming up with  keyboardist Fabio Garau, guitarist David Hills and bassist James Taylor.

In 2018 Grimgotts solidified their lineup with bassist Nelson Moreira and drummer Mo Abdelgadir, playing at Power Metal Quest Festival and supporting German power metallers Victorius in London, England, inspiring the band to set sail once again in 2019 with the release of their sophomore full-length opus, titled Dragons of the Ages, a concept album about a war between dragons, sea-creatures and men set in the same fictional world of Vale as per the band’s own previous albums. Produced by Alex Loader (Ethereal Sound Studio) and featuring an epic, dragon-infused artwork by Ryan Marter (Arctic Wolf Design), Dragons of the Ages will please most fans of bands like Edguy, Twilight Force, Rhapsody, Alestorm and Sabaton, among others, taking the listener on a vibrant journey to a whimsical land where heavy music is the ultimate soundtrack to epic battles.

The sound of the waves and the symphonic keys by Fabio invite the listener to join Grimgotts in War’s Come to Our Shores, reminding me of the epic and adventurous music played by UK’s own Alestorm, with Andy’s vocals being a mix of Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén’s and Italian icon Fabio Lione’s, also featuring guest Julia Zelg with her beautiful female vocals. After such vibrant welcome card it’s time for The Last Dragon Warriors, where Julia once again helps Andy to declaim the song’s classic Power Metal lyrics (“For every day that we are here / We prepare to take the world / With our ships we can sail to the sun / For years we’ve sat and we’ve decayed / But today with stand as one / A mighty army, hail to the lords”) while David fires some ass-kicking, incendiary solos to add more electricity to the overall result, whereas Ancient Waters sounds and feels even more epic and imposing, inspired by the symphonic music played by acts like Rhapsody of Fire, Blind Guardian and Sabaton, with David’s riffs and Nelson’s rumbling bass dictating its thrilling rhythm.

In War at Dawn Fabio fires strident key notes while Mo pounds and slams his drums with precision and feeling, resulting in a Symphonic Power Metal extravaganza perfect for heading into the battlefield, with Andy telling the story with a lot of passion. Then prance around the fire pit together with your friends to the sound of The King Under the Sea, where David keeps slashing his stringed weapon and Mo keeps smashing his drums nonstop, not to mention the epic vibe generated by Fabio’s keys; and folk-ish elements ignite the metallic feast entitled The Long Road, sounding more progressive than its predecessors but still loyal to the foundations of Symphonic Power Metal. In addition, Nelson and Mo once again shine with their refined techniques. And Turning the Tide, the most Power Metal of all songs, is another battle hymn where David is on fire with his riffs while Mo sounds like a stone crusher on drums, sounding and feeling very melodic, epic and, above all, as fast as good Power Metal should be.

Despite bringing forward fanciful lyrics as its main ingredient (“The Shaman spoke to me / Told me of my destiny / The Northmen march to war / The dragons still can fall / For our great ancient city / Let’s not delay / Pray, we won’t go astray”), Take to the Sea lacks more stamina and strength. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the genre. Back to a more dense sonority, The Great Shadow is embraced by the crisp keys by Fabio, with Andy delivering high-pitched, tuneful vocal lines the likes of André Mattos (R.I.P.), and with that inspiring vibe going on until the song’s climatic ending, all spiced up by David’s flammable solos. Last but not least, get ready for over eight minutes of folk-like keyboards, galloping beats and bass, electrifying guitars and soaring vocal lines in Here Be Dragonlords, even presenting some deep guttural vocals on the second half of the song while its ending is amazingly epic, melancholic and powerful.

You can listen to Grimgotts’ tribute to the sea, to mythical creatures and dragons and, of course, to our beloved Heavy Metal on YouTube and on Spotify in its entirety, and after “returning” from such distinct voyage don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and to purchase Dragons of the Ages from the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. And may those metal pirates and warriors hailing from the UK continue to invade our minds and enhance our senses with their imposing and symphonic music for many years to come, always fighting for glory, for freedom and for metal.

Best moments of the album: The Last Dragon Warriors, War at Dawn and Turning the Tide.

Worst moments of the album: Take to the Sea.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. War’s Come to Our Shores 6:05
2. The Last Dragon Warriors 5:26
3. Ancient Waters 3:54
4. War at Dawn 4:18
5. The King Under the Sea 3:20
6. The Long Road 4:54
7. Turning the Tide 3:32
8. Take to the Sea 3:28
9. The Great Shadow 5:22
10. Here Be Dragonlords 8:30

Band members
Andy Barton – lead vocals
David Hills – guitars
Fabio Garau – keyboards
Nelson Moreira – bass
Mo Abdelgadir – drums

Guest musicians
Hector Clark – backing vocals on “The Last Dragon Warriors”
Julia Zelg – additional vocals on “War’s Come to Our Shores” and “The Last Dragon Warriors”
Nick Thurtell – additional vocals
Prash Sarma – additional vocals

Metal Chick of the Month – Māra Lisenko

Label me insane… My madness is not my enemy!

Get ready to be absolutely stunned by the sick growling, screaming and roaring blasted by our metal lady of the month of September, a true metalhead who loves all types of extreme music from the bottom of her Latvian heart, with her music being highly recommended for diehard fans of renowned acts like Aborted, Cryptopsy, Cattle Decapitation, Decapitated, Bloodbath and Hideous Divinity, among several others, who are always in pursuit of new names in the scene and who also love a feminine touch amidst such level of devastation. Hailing from Riga, Latvia’s capital, set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava, but currently residing in the metal heaven known as the Federal Republic of Germany, here comes the ferocious she-wolf Māra Lisenko, the indomitable growler for some of the best bands of the past few years coming from the Baltics, those being Ocularis Infernum and MĀRA.

Having studied vocals at Vocaltech – Thames Valley University (currently known as University of West London) in 2007 in the UK, as well as with some of the most prestigious vocal coaches worldwide such as rock and metal vocal coach Melissa Cross, rockstar vocal coach Mark Baxter, and “Death Metal Phoniatrician” Dr. Enrico H Di Lorenzo (Hideous Divinity), Māra is an extremely versatile vocalist, being able to sing from the most brutal and gory growls to fragile, emotional clean vocals. In addition, although she started to sing in bands and tour around Europe in 2003, her singing career started way earlier than that, when she was still a three-year old girl, mainly because her own mother was a choir leader and inspired her to follow a similar path. A self-starter and an autodidact, our dauntless growler is also a vocal coach, having taught several aggressive as well as melodic vocal techniques and training since 2011, and also offering studio session work for bands who need professional sounding vocals for their recordings (and you can get more details about her services by clicking HERE or HERE). In one of her interviews, she said all the energy in her singing and screaming is driven by her real-life experiences and emotions, never about fictional topics, which in her opinion makes it a lot easier for her to transform those feelings into ass-kicking vocals.

During hear early years as a professional vocalist, she was part of two distinct Latvian bands named Defame (which I couldn’t find any information online) and Karmafree, with whom she won a couple of awards, those being Best Vocalist in a band contest named “Rīgas Dzintars” with Karmafree in 2011, and a Grand Prix with Defame at Sinepes Un Medus in 2005. Karmafree, which is still active by the way, is an alternative bass and vocal duo comprised of Māra on vocals and her husband Dmitry Lisenko on bass formed in 2010 in London, England, playing many festivals and releasing a self-titled demo and video entitled Fresh Millionaire before the duo returned to their homeland Latvia. In 2012 they released their first EP, named Illusions, along with a music video for the song Fragile; after their debut album, Karmafree released a series of singles, with songs like InvisibleValidate Me and #SSDD beautifully representing the evolution of the project, their social and political fights, and of course Māra’s fantastic vocal range. You can listen to a lot more of the music by Karmafree on their official YouTube channel, as well as on their BandCamp page.

It was back in 2015 when Māra was able to present herself to a much broader audience after joining a Riga-based Melodic/Symphonic Death/Black Metal band named Ocularis Infernum, who have been on the road since 2002 but who had released only one demo and one EP before she became their frontwoman. Under the stage name of Māra Sekhmet, she released in 2017 together with the band’s founders Andris and Magnuss the excellent Expired Utopia (which you can purchase from their own BandCamp page or listen in full on Spotify), exploring themes like darkness, occultism and paganism, always embraced by a symphonic and Stygian aura inspired by renowned acts such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth. I personally loved listening to every single second of Expired Utopia, and if you’re also a fan of this fusion of extreme and symphonic music you can have a taste of the band’s darkness and of Māra’s refined gnarls and powerful clean vocals by listening to the songs A Confession Of Defeat and Lost Forest. There’s nothing on the band’s official Facebook page about an upcoming album, concerts nor anything like that since the end of 2018, but let’s hope they’re just taking a break and that the world can enjoy more of the music by Ocularis Infernum in a not-so-distant future.

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Right now, Māra’s main project is her own solo band named MĀRA, a Latvian/German four-piece outfit established in 2018 that plays a modern and sharp amalgamation of Death, Thrash, Alternative and Groove Metal. Currently based in two countries – Germany and Latvia – MĀRA have already played tours and summer festivals all across Europe since their inception, visiting countries like Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany, France and obviously Latvia, and opening for some of the biggest exponents of Extreme Metal such as Sepultura, Krisiun and Satyricon. So far Māra and her henchmen, including her aforementioned husband Dmitry on bass, released in 2018 their debut EP entitled Therapy For An Empath, which you can purchase from their BandCamp page or listen to in full on YouTube, and three music videos for the songs Sell Your Soul, Label Me Insane and Blameshifter, having already won Album Of The Year (with Therapy For An Empath, of course) and Best Vocalist at the  Latvian Metal Music Awards 2018. Moreover, you can enjoy MĀRA’s incendiary performance at the Latvian Metal Music Awards 2018,  which was held at an underground extreme music club in Riga named Melnā Piektdiena, playing the song Label Me Insane live during the event. As you might have already noticed, the name of the band was taken directly from her own name Māra, a very traditional Latvian girl name and, according to Māra herself, in Latvian folklore it’s also the name of a goddess, carrying a lot of strength rooted very deep in where the band comes from, also using Māra’s cross as their logo, a powerful Latvian magic sign.

Regarding her main idols in music, you just need to think of most classic Death, Thrash, Black and Groove Metal bands like Sepultura, Morbid Angel, Slayer, Carcass, Aborted, Cryptopsy and so on, with Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy) being perhaps her biggest idol as a vocalist. Māra even mentioned during an interview that one of her dreams as a musician would be to sing either Territory or Roots Bloody Roots together with Max as a very distinct and powerful duet, showing her total admiration and respect for a man that has undoubtedly revolutionized the way extreme vocalists sing all over the world. Not only that, you can also check all her passion for extreme music and vocalists on her official YouTube channel, where she uploads her own vocal covers for some of the heaviest and most awesome songs of all time, as for example Slipknot’s Psychosocial and The Heretic Anthem, Lamb Of God’s Laid To Rest and Sepultura’s Territory, with Slipknot having a huge influence on her vocal style and taste for music according to Māra herself, in special their 2001 masterpiece Iowa. As a matter of fact, she released her cover version for The Herectic Anthem on the same day Slipkont launched their brand new album We Are Not Your Kind this year, proving how much she loves and follows the band led by Corey Taylor. On a side note, our skillful vocalist also said that all metalheads from Latvia who dedicate a lot of their time to keep the local metal scene going, doing it just for their love for metal with basically no financial reward, also inspire her a lot in life, once again showing Māra has and will always have a beautiful connection with her homeland.

Māra also seems to be crazy four touring and performing live, as she mentioned in an interview that she could simply live out of touring. She enjoys visiting different countries, meeting and playing for different people, and learning about metal scenes everywhere she goes. She has already played in several European countries, and I’m pretty sure she can’t wait to expand her horizons to places like North and South America, Japan and Australia. As aforementioned, Māra and her husband Dmitry are currently residing in Germany (while the other band members, guitarist Denis Melnik and drummer Alberts Mednis, still live in Riga), and the reason why they decided to do that was purely due to music. She said that while metal in Latvia is considered underground and the opportunities for metal bands and artists there are very limited (albeit the internet can be very helpful in terms of worldwide exposure), even taking into account the metal scene in Latvia is healthy and friendly, Germany is the place to be for any type of metal band, complementing by saying that the fact her band is located in two different countries ended up helping them book gigs in more than one country. In addition to that, she said there are no metal radio stations in Latvia, and there are only 4 or 5 metal-oriented pubs in the entire country where local and touring bands can play. Well, let’s say that Māra is one of the most hardworking metal musicians (if not the most) hailing from Latvia that’s trying to change that, putting her beloved homeland on the global metal map even living in Germany.

Last but not least, when asked if she also sings and writes in her mother tongue Latvian and in any other language rather than English, she said although English is her preferred language because she wants her lyrics and messages to be understood by as many people as possible, she also sings and writes lyrics in Latvian and Russian depending on the project she’s working on, as sometimes she feels she wants to communicate only with Latvian and Russian speaking people. In case you want to enjoy about one hour of Māra talking about her career, her goals, her personal life and many other topics in English, I highly recommend you take a shot at an interview she gave to Dani Zed Extreme Music Reviews & Liveshows via Skype a couple of months ago. How lucky is Dani Zed for having the utmost pleasure of talking to such nice and talented metal woman for an extended period of time like that? We need to thank him for uploading the interview on YouTube, and obviously keep supporting Māra on her quest for extreme music in Lativa, in Germany, and anywhere else in the world where powerful and visceral female roars like hers are truly appreciated.

Māra Lisenko’s Official Facebook page
Māra Lisenko’s Official Instagram
Māra Lisenko’s Official YouTube channel
MĀRA’s Official Facebook page
MĀRA’s Official Instagram
MĀRA’s Official YouTube channel
MĀRA’s Official BandCamp page

“I love touring, I could live like that. I love visiting different countries, meeting and playing for different people, learning about metal scenes everywhere I go. It’s very exciting.” – Māra Lisenko

Album Review – Night Screamer / Dead of Night (2019)

Mixing 80’s horror movies, political lyrics and fast cars into their old school Heavy Metal blender, this London, UK-based unity will rock you like there’s no tomorrow with their debut full-length album.

Formed in 2013 in London, England, the birthplace of classic Heavy Metal, the unstoppable five-piece metal unity known as Night Screamer is ready to rock you like there’s no tomorrow with their mix of 80’s Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Thrash Metal in their debut full-length album Dead of Night. Comprised of lead singer Gadd, guitarists Calvin Lever and Jamie Carter, bassist Julia B Cadau (who’s by the way also part of an excellent Symphonic Metal band named Angel Nation) and drummer Kilian Noise, Night Screamer offer in Dead of Night all elements that made their debut EP’s Hit n’ Run (2014) and Vigilante (2015) so entertaining and a lot more, with every song painting a different picture while staying truthful to the household formula, mixing 80’s horror movies, political lyrics and fast cars into the band’s traditional metal blender. In other words, if you’re a diehard fan of the powerful and epic 80’s sound from the NWOBHM, Night Screamer are here, almost 40 years years later, to keep the flame of classic metal alive with Dead of Night.

An enfolding intro quickly becomes a feast of razor-edged riffs, rumbling bass lines and nonstop beats in the opening track Sacrifice, a traditional 80’s metal hymn tailored for lovers of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon led by Gadd’s piercing vocals, whereas the song that carries the name of the band, Night Screamer, is just as electrifying as its predecessor, with both Calvin and Jamie spitting fire from their guitars while Gadd powerfully screams the song’s catchy chorus and Kilian dictates the rhythm with his classic, steady beats. And there’s still a lot more, as in Blood On The Wall (F***ed It Up), a true headbanger perfect for cracking your neck in half, Julia and Kilian make the earth tremble with their bass punches and pounding drums, respectively, not to mention the straightforward, flammable solos by the band’s sharp guitar duo.

Then blazing guitars ignite the rockin’ tune Hit n’ Run, showcasing Hard Rock-inspired lyrics declaimed by Gadd (“Your love is speed / Your love is fire / Your love is more / Than I could ever desire / With black hair / And dagger eyes / You got your kicks / From bloody cries / HIT RUN! HIT RUN!”) and feeling like a hybrid of the early days of Judas Priest with the debauchery of Mötley Crüe. In March Of The Dead we’re treated to an epic instrumental intro with Julia bringing thunder to the music with her metallic bass, morphing into a mid-tempo song that leans towards the most classic form of Heavy Metal you can think of while also presenting faster and more melodic moments the likes of Helloween; and it’s time to dance together with Night Screamer in Party With The Devil, a fun and vibrant composition where the whole band adds tons of groove to the musicality as well as spot-on backing vocals, allowing Gadd to thrive with his high-pitches, raspy screams one more time.

Then in Paradise Lost, featuring an ominous intro with spoken words by Gadd, we face lyrics about a world that doesn’t exist (“When I was just a boy / I swore I’d run away / To find the paradise / We lost along the way / A place with no conditions / And free from binds that tie / You’d call this boy a dreamer / I’d call it all a big lie”), complemented by beautiful guitar solos and a dark aura that together enhance the song’s impact considerably. Rise Above is another rip-roaring, in-your-face metal attack by the quintet where Calvin and Jamie are on absolute fire, supported by Julia’s dense bass lines and once again mixing NWOBHM with classic German Power Metal, before Out Of My Mind ends the album on an utterly high note. Clearly inspired by the music blasted by their countrymen Judas Priest, this excellent metal hymn will leave you eager for more of the music by Night Screamer, with Gadd’s vocals being in perfect sync with the song’s slashing riffs for the total delight of admirers of the genre.

In case you’re ready to scream in the night together with Gadd, Calvin, Jamie, Julia and Kilian, all you have to do is follow them on their official Facebook page, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and of course purchase their debut full-length opus Dead of Night from their own BandCamp page and keep banging your head and raising your horns in the name of traditional Heavy Metal. In Dead of Night, Night Screamer do not try to be progressive, alternative, symphonic, atmospheric, nor any other of those shenanigans. All they want to do is play our good old Heavy Metal, and they do it extremely well throughout the over 43 minutes of first-class music found in their newborn spawn. This is what good old rock and metal is all about, with bands like Night Screamer proving once and for all that no matter how much the rest of the world tries to kill Heavy Metal, our most beloved type of music will never go away.

Best moments of the album: Night Screamer, Hit n’ Run and Rise Above.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Sacrifice 6:08
2. Night Screamer 3:59
3. Blood On The Wall (F***ed It Up) 4:24
4. Hit n’ Run 4:23
5. March Of The Dead 6:13
6. Party With The Devil 5:18
7. Paradise Lost 5:19
8. Rise Above 3:52
9. Out Of My Mind 4:13

Band members
Gadd – vocals
Calvin Lever – guitars
Jamie Carter – guitars
Julia B Cadau – bass
Kilian Noise – drums

Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/10/2019)

Who’s ready for another night of Iron Maiden and their ass-kicking Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019 in Toronto?

INTRODUCTION: “No FTTB nor The Raven Age for you”

As I wasn’t selected for the First To The Barrier experience by the Iron Maiden Fan Club for the second night of the one and only Iron Maiden in Toronto at the always pleasant Budweiser Stage, and as a few friends invited me to a BBQ with lots of beer and metal music before the concert, let’s say that I “had to” miss the opening act THE RAVEN AGE, which in the end was more than good for me because watching their concert in full from the first row on Friday wasn’t what we can call a very entertaining experience. If you were there on the second day and saw The Raven Age, I’m pretty sure it was the exact same thing as the previous night, with the same band’s lineup, the same setlist, and the same confusing sonority. However, if you missed The Raven Age both days you can take a look at how their concert was by clicking HERE.

IRON MAIDEN

Just like what happened on Friday, 15 thousand fans from the most diverse countries such as Australia, Peru, India, Brazil, El Salvador, Germany, Colombia, Sweden and so on (including WWE badass superstar and a true metalhead Erick Rowan, whose real name is Joseph Ruud) were gathered together at the Budweiser Stage at around 9pm to enjoy another round of classics by the one and only IRON MAIDEN, once again as part of their Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019. Their setlist was the absolute same as Friday, of course, but because I wasn’t so close to the stage let’s say I was able to move more, to jump up and down a lot more, and to have a much more complete view of the stage, including Janick Gers who I must confess I couldn’t see much on the previous night. I was really tired from the previous day and I thought I was going to take it easy on Saturday, but you know what? As soon as Doctor Doctor started playing on the speakers, it was pure madness one more time.

As I mentioned, this time I could enjoy their full stage without having to force my neck up, right or left too much, and my neck is very thankful for that. The whole band was on fire as usual, with Dave and Adrian delivering their traditional crisp and crystal clear riffs and solos while Steve was the beast incarnate on stage. How can he do that? He doesn’t stop smashing his bass chords, singing, running around the stage and jumping up and down not even for a single second, and he’s already 63 years old! It’s absolutely impressive, reminding me why I admire and respect his work and passion for Iron Maiden so much. It’s always a pleasure to watch him play The Trooper, “galloping” his bass as if he was riding a horse into the battlefield, and his endless energy while screaming the famous “Oooh! Ooo-oooo-oooh!” together with the crowd during Fear of the Dark. After another superb and impeccable performance by Bruce, Steve & Co. was over (and this time Bruce’s flame thrower worked during Flight of Icarus), I started thinking how boring the world of music will be without Iron Maiden when they call it quits, but that’s something we don’t need to worry about at least for the next few years, as Bruce himself promised they’ll return to Toronto, most probably after the release of their upcoming studio album. I wish I could attend more concerts from their current tour, but for obvious reasons like time and money, for now I’ll have to  content with two nights in Toronto I’ll never forget. UP THE IRONS!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Clansman
The Trooper
Revelations
For the Greater Good of God
The Wicker Man
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/09/2019)

How about witnessing the almighty Iron Maiden and their Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019 from the best spot of the Budweiser Stage in Toronto on a perfect summer day?

INTRODUCTION: First To The Barrier

Thousands of fans from all over the world, a perfect sunny day, a lot of (overpriced) beer, and another memorable performance by the unparalleled Iron Maiden at the Budweiser Stage to shake the foundations of our beloved city of Toronto. That would have already been a damn good summary of the night if I hadn’t been one of the 40 lucky bastards (plus one guest each) from the Iron Maiden Fan Club who were chosen to get into the venue before the rest of the crowd and bag the best spot at the barrier, which is obviously right at the front. That’s what’s called the FIRST TO THE BARRIER (or FTTB if you’re a fan of acronyms) experience, a fun but quite exhausting adventure as you have to be there at the venue several hours before the concert starts, most of the time without food or anything to drink, and if you move or try to go to the washroom you simply lose your spot and all that effort will be in vain.

Fortunately, I can say I’m good at standing for hours waiting for a concert to start without eating or drinking anything, and all I can say is that the whole experience was more than amazing. What an unforgettable night in another celebration of classic Heavy Metal, where all fans had the chance to not only sing and scream lots of classic together with the band, but a night where we were also able to make new friends, uniting our metal universe even more. Even if you’re not part of the Iron Maiden Fan Club, you can try to be someone’s guest by asking people on Facebook’s FTTB Public Group if they have a spare available when the band takes your city by storm. That’s totally worth it, and that’s how I met a very nice Maidenmaniac who drove hours from Montreal wearing his Aces High pilot hat to join me a couple of feet from the stage from around 5pm until the end of the show.

OPENING ACT: THE RAVEN AGE

Let’s say the only part of the day that wasn’t exactly fun was having to endure British Melodic Groove Metal act THE RAVEN AGE’s performance in full from the first row without having the option to simply ignore them and go grab a beer. Formed in 2009, this London, England-based band has just released a new album named Conspiracy, featuring new vocalist Matt James, who joined the band in 2018. I’m not going to say it was a bad concert, but I think due to the fact those boys are still trying to find their core essence, playing a confused mix of Power, Thrash, Death and Heavy Metal with Hard Rock and even Southern Rock, it was tough to follow them and to actually enjoy their concert. There were a few good moments, though, like the opening song Betrayal of the Mind and the closing tune Angel in Disgrace, especially the last one as it was the heaviest and most detailed of their setlist, but overall it wasn’t the warmup I was expecting for the main attraction of the night. And believe me, standing there for almost one hour listening to something you don’t really enjoy was not what we can call a nice experience. On a side note, both guitarists Dan Wright and George Harris (and yes, he is Steve Harris’ son) are quite talented and have a great future in heavy music. Just maybe not with The Raven Age, unless they stop trying to sound like a generic version of Trivium or Avenged Sevenfold and find their own sound in the future.

Setlist
Bloom of the Poison Seed
Betrayal of the Mind
Promised Land
Surrogate
The Day the World Stood Still
The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships
Fleur De Lis
Grave of the Fireflies
Seventh Heaven
Angel in Disgrace

Band members
Matt James – vocals
Dan Wright – guitar
George Harris – guitar
Matt Cox – bass
Jai Patel – drums

IRON MAIDEN

Finally after a short break, when it was around 9pm, the almighty IRON MAIDEN hit the stage to stun us all with their flawless Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019, obviously inspired by their successful mobile game Legacy of the Beast (don’t forget you can also follow the game’s official Facebook page for news, updates and other shenanigans). As a matter of fact, the short and sweet video showing scenes from the game and several of its versions of our beloved Eddie (most of them already available as Legacy of the Beast Figurines), while the classic instrumental tune Transylvania was playing in the background, was more than enough to warm up our senses for the metallic hurricane that was about to start, but we all needed of course to sing in unison UFO’s all-time classic Doctor Doctor and scream the spoken words from Churchill’s Speech to properly invite Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko McBrain to crush our minds with my favorite Iron Maiden song of all time, the one and only Aces High, while a giant airplane was “flying” above their heads.

That beyond epic start was followed by an avalanche of the band’s old and not-so-old classics, with Where Eagles Dare, The Clansman, The Wicker Man and Flight of Icarus being the highlights of the night for me. By the way, Bruce’s speech before The Clansman was quite fun, where he “complained” about the fact an Australian (Mel Gibson) portrayed one of the most important Scotsmen of all time, Mr. William Wallace. The song was played to perfection, of course, with all 15 thousand fans at the Budweiser Stage screaming “FREEDOM!” together with Bruce & Co. at the top of their lungs (including of course this guy here that’s writing this review). Another memorable and extremely funny moment was when Bruce’s flame thrower just stopped working in the middle of Flight of Icarus, and after blowing raspberries (yes, he did that), why not showing everything he got by beautifully and powerfully screaming “FLY AS HIGH AS THE SUN” to end the song in great fashion? We might not have had Bruce’s flames in our faces, but we got something even better than that, his unique, trademark high-pitched scream piercing our ears and minds.

It was also amazing to witness all fans singing together with the band even the longest and most obscure songs (or maybe not as classic as the others) of their setlist, those being For the Greater Good of God and Sign of the Cross, proving once again not only Iron Maiden’s newest creations are still meaningful and appreciated, but also that it doesn’t really matter how long their songs are, they are never ever tiresome or boring. And what to say about the poetry found in the lyrics for the gorgeous Revelations? I’ll never get tired of witnessing Bruce declaiming those dark and touching lyrics live, no doubt about that. Well, after almost two hours of perfection, with an encore that brought to our avid ears the insanely awesome The Evil That Men Do, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Run to the Hills (needless to say, all three perfectly executed), it was time to enjoy Monty Python’s inspiring hymn Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and get ready to see the boys in action once again on Saturday. Because you know, one Iron Maiden concert is never enough.

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Churchill’s Speech

Aces High
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Clansman
The Trooper
Revelations
For the Greater Good of God
The Wicker Man
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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