Album Review – OHHMS / The Fool (2017)

Spanning the course of 60 minutes and focusing on corporate and personal politics, the first full-length album by this British quintet is not only a huge step forward in their career, but also a lesson in Sludge and Progressive Metal.

Armed with the thickest riffs and fieriest will, Sludge/Progressive Metal act OHHMS was formed in 2014 in Kent, a county in South East England, aiming at blowing our minds with their monolithic, doomed music. After the release of their debut EP Bloom in 2014, followed by another EP title Cold in 2015, OHHMS started to build a strong reputation in their homeland’s underground scene, playing big festivals such as Desertfest and Temples, and also sharing the stage with acts like The Skull, Conan and Rolo Tomassi. Now, three years after their thunderous beginnings, the band is back with their debut full-length album, the heavy and sludgy The Fool, another step forward in their short but solid career.

Spanning the course of 60 minutes of hard-hitting, progressive music, The Fool delivers five thunderous songs that focus on corporate and personal politics, all wrapped up in an elegant tarot-inspired packaging designed by Black Sails Design. With two of its songs going over the barrier of 10 minutes (one of them having over 20 minutes in duration, by the way), something inconceivable for any regular radio station or TV show, The Fool won’t provide any sort of “music for the masses” to you, but an introspective and very peculiar journey through the minds of the five talented musicians behind OHHMS, and that’s in my opinion what makes this album so distinct and impactful.

The acoustic intro Shuffle, Cut and Reveal slowly introduces us to the sluggish and heavy The Magician,  which after a fast-paced beginning smoothly flows into traditional Stoner Metal, with Max Newton smashing his drum set while lead singer Paul Waller blasts sheer anguish through his vocals. The Hanged Man is a top-notch musical voyage, flowing from an ominous intro into 13 minutes of progressiveness, slow-paced passages and a somber ambience. Max adds endless intricacy to the music with his beats, while guitarists Daniel Sargent and Marc George alternate between heavier riffs and gentle lines, with the overall result being so compelling you won’t notice the length of the song at all. Even more progressive than its predecessor, The World is a song that combines in a potent way the heaviness of Stoner Metal with the experimentations of Progressive Metal, not to mention its hints of several other styles such as Industrial and Doom Metal, with Max and bassist Chainy Chainy building a more-than-thunderous atmosphere with their respective instruments.

The superb The Lovers is beautiful and thrilling from start to finish, with all instruments creating the perfect ambience for Paul and a mysterious (and wonderful) female voice to complement each other’s lines flawlessly. It’s a slow and serene ballad recommended for true lovers, or in other words, simply close your eyes and feel your significant other’s embrace while listening to this awesome composition. And as the icing on the cake OHHMS present to us The Hierophant, a bold, complex and mind-blowing 21-minute extravaganza, where the whole band is able to display all their skills as great musicians they are. After over two minutes of initial dissonant noises, Paul arrives with his somber vocals, and this eccentric atmosphere goes on until at around six minutes the rest of the band joins him, becoming a sonic experimentation through the realms of Sludge and Stoner Metal, with highlights to the bestial, crushing riffs by both Daniel and Marc (in special during the song’s final part).

One might say The Fool is not an album for the average listener, but in my humble opinion I think this album is a great opportunity for newcomers to the world of the lengthy and sluggish sounds of Stoner and Doom Metal to explore the uniqueness of this subgenre of heavy music. Well, newcomer or not, you should definitely go check what OHHMS are up to at their Facebook page and, if you’re already hooked on their music, purchase The Fool through their BandCamp page, at the Holy Roar Records’ webshop, on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs.

Best moments of the album: The World and The Lovers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Holy Roar Records

Track listing
1. Shuffle, Cut and Reveal 1:15
2. The Magician 8:10
3. The Hanged Man 13:24
4. The World 6:42
5. The Lovers 8:03
6. The Hierophant 21:49

Band members
Paul Waller – vocals
Daniel Sargent – guitars
Marc George – guitars
Chainy Chainy – bass
Max Newton – drums

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

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Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Lunatic Hooker / Embracing The Filth (2017)

Be embraced by the filthy and crushing Grindcore with a Sludge Metal twist crafted by five British musicians who got together to reignite their inner fire and passion for extreme music.

The music business can be spirit crushing and soul destroying, where bands that start as groups of friends with a passion for music can end up disillusioned, with the flames of their passion near extinguished. This happened to British musicians George (vocals), Ross (guitar), Tim (guitar), Duncan (bass, vocals) and Rafael (drums) in their respective bands, but rather than let those last flickering embers burn out for good, they got together to reignite the fire, forging in 2014 a new evil entity that goes by the name of Lunatic Hooker, blasting a roaring fusion of Grindcore and Sludge Metal perfect for nonstop slamming and headbanging.

After the release of a two-track demo in 2015 and a single with their cover version for Motörhead’s all-time classic (We Are) The Road Crew in 2016, this London-based squad is unleashing upon humanity their debut full-length opus, titled Embracing The Filth. Featuring twelve tracks of unrelenting, punishing and pulverizing Extreme Metal, all enfolded by a captivating artwork by Dan Capp (Winterfylleth) and crackling with that irresistible rediscovered electricity, Embracing The Filth is one of those albums you might not know what you’re dealing with at first, but that you’ll get addicted to as soon as you hit play and let its piercing sounds invade your ears.

Rafael and his doomed beats ignite the sludgy party named My God Is Bigger than Yours (what a clever name for a song), before chaos reigns through the putrid gnarls by George and the dirty and fast riffage by Ross and Tim. Once again uniting Grindcore with Sludge Metal, demonic sounds emanate from all instruments in Beard Feared, in special the blast beats by Rafael and the devilish growling by George, with its brutal slamming rhythm drawing influences from Slayer, Napalm Death and other devastating groups; followed by The Pen Is Mightier than the Sword, another song with a very intelligent name that also presents crushing riffs and beats while George sounds more demonic than ever (and let me say that, if you survive the intense circle pit this song can generate, you’re pretty much immortal), and Unearthed Dead Children, a sonic onslaught of Grindcore bursting heaviness through the cavernous growls by George and Rafael’s ruthless drumming.

The title-track Embracing the Filth lives up to its name, being a dirty, crude and absolutely vile composition of darkness. Moreover, it feels like the guitars by Ross and Tim are an extension of George’s sick vocals, consequently enhancing the song’s overall impact, with Rafael once again showing no mercy for his drum set. In Blood Eagle we face an eerie start that lasts for almost half of the song before the band gets back to their sick high-speed musicality, with its guitars and drums exhaling sheer Grindcore, whereas Fucks All brings elements from Hardcore and Thrash Metal to their already aggressive sonority. Tim and Ross keep firing some sick dirty riffs to make the whole song more demonic, also presenting Black and Death Metal blast beats thanks to the unwearying Rafael. And the excellent Cult Chaos begins at full speed, reminding me of some of the most visceral creations by Cannibal Corpse, with all instruments sounding extremely sharp from start to finish. Hence, this slamming composition should work really well during their live performances.

In Transformation Walrus, a song inspired by and featuring footage in its official video from Kevin Smith’s 2014 film Tusk, darkness takes control of the band from the very first second, with George leading his crew with his deranged growls, before See the Light, perhaps the most violent of all tracks, showcases deeper guttural vocals by George and the merciless drums by Rafael highly influenced by old school Death Metal. In other words, Lunatic Hooker offer us two and a half minutes of pure brutality, with some harmonious guitar lines and solos to give more balance to the overall result. There are two more songs to go in this demonic opus, starting with Spain in the Neck, another recommended soundtrack for a sick mosh pit where Ross and Tim sound like two beasts with their flammable strings, while Rafael keeps the adrenaline high with his unstoppable beats. And finally, the closing of their awesome casket comes in the form of a 6-minute demented extravaganza named Sarlac, where George reaches the deepest and most obscure growls of the entire album. Slow and steady, almost sounding like Funeral Doom, this composition is very different from all previous tracks, showing the band’s crisp versatility in Extreme Metal.

If you feel more than ready to be embraced by Lunatic Hooker’s filthy and crushing Grindcore with the sluggish twist coming from their Sludge Metal vein, go join their demented crew at their official Facebook page and enjoy more of their cutting music at their YouTube channel. In Embracing The Filth, available at the band’s Big Cartel, at the Black Bow Records’ BandCamp and on Amazon, Lunatic Hooker were extremely successful in concentrating all their passion for extreme music and transform that metallic amalgam into reality, leaving all doors open for another blast of their vicious music anytime soon, and hopefully for many years to come as well.

Best moments of the album: My God Is Bigger than Yours, Embracing the Filth and Cult Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: Blood Eagle.

Released in 2017 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. My God Is Bigger than Yours 3:16
2. Beard Feared 2:32
3. The Pen Is Mightier than the Sword 3:08
4. Unearthed Dead Children 2:48
5. Embracing the Filth 3:07
6. Blood Eagle 4:13
7. Fucks All 2:46
8. Cult Chaos 3:24
9. Transformation Walrus 3:32
10. See the Light 2:35
11. Spain in the Neck 2:46
12. Sarlac 6:24

Bonus track
13. (We Are) The Road Crew (Motörhead cover) 2:44

Band members
George – vocals
Ross – guitar
Tim – guitar
Duncan – bass, vocals
Rafael – drums

Album Review – Solitary / The Diseased Heart of Society (2017)

When four veteran thrash metallers canalize all the hatred, degradation and perversions of our modern-day society into their music, the final result couldn’t have been more exhilarating than their brand new first-class, unrelenting album.

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coverThe brand new album by British thrash metallers Solitary, the enraged opus The Diseased Heart Of Society, is so much more than “just another album”. It represents the complete rebirth of one of the most enduring Thrash Metal outfits from the UK, a roar of defiance from a band that are sick of the state of the world around them and tired of the weak imitations that have been masquerading as their beloved Thrash Metal. In other words, if you’re a fan of traditional and aggressive Thrash Metal the likes of Slayer, Testament and Forbidden, bands that stay true to their roots no matter what happens in their lives,  I’m sure Solitary will quickly become one of your new favorite bands right after your first listen at The Diseased Heart of Society.

Founded in 1994 in Preston, a city located in Lancashire, England, Solitary have rediscovered with The Diseased Heart of Society the passion and anger that first inspired them to take up arms and rage at the world around them. Their allegiance to the Thrash Metal cause has always been unflinching and from the heart, with their live album I Promise to Thrash Forever, released back in 2014, summarizing in its title everything Solitary stand for, and in their new album, featuring an austere artwork by Andy Pilkington (Very Metal Art) and some furious guitar solos by guest musician Stan Havard (Xentrix), they reinforce their love for heavy music in a professional, potent and crisp manner that will inspire you to slam into the pit and bang your head nonstop to their electrified thrashing tunes.

An ominous and serene intro named Blackened Skies permeates the air before all hell breaks loose in Wait, where drummer Roy Miller doesn’t waste a single second and begins crushing his drums mercilessly. Furthermore, the song’s belligerent melody and pace, together with the raspy vocals by Richard Sherrington delivering an aggressive message through the lyrics, remind me of the more contemporary albums by Exodus such as Shovel Headed Kill Machine, which of course translates into sheer awesomeness. And at the blink of an eye, Solitary fire more or their high-speed Thrash Metal, an insane, metallic chant entitled Trigger Point Atrocity, where the bass guitar by Pete Hewitt will keep rumbling inside your head while Richard and Andy Mellor deliver modern and piercing riffs that would make Testament’s own Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick really happy. And their feast of modern Thrash Metal goes on with another solid composition named Anthem of Regret, sounding slightly darker and more melancholic than the previous tunes. In addition, Andy is not only an excellent riffer, but his solos also bring a lot of adrenaline to the music by Solitary.

solitaryIn the superb Architects of Shame, a melodic intro keeps rising and accelerating until it reaches the boiling point of old school Bay Area Thrash, with its kick-ass pace and the perfect sync between guitars and drums turning it into one of the most electrifying of all songs, not to mention Richard’s amazingly acid performance on vocals. After that lesson in violence, the title-track The Diseased Heart of Society brings forward a Slayer-inspired start, with Richard and Andy suddenly slashing our ears with their riffs while Roy delivers very rhythmic and fierce beats. Put differently, this is a song tailored for triturating our necks by banging our heads as hard as possible. Then it’s time to speed up the music and slam into the pit with Solitary in the first single of the album, titled Unidentified, showcasing obscure lyrics about human trafficking violently declaimed by Richard (“Righteous another victim they’re dying everyday / I am the fallen saviour for the one who’s lost their way / Faceless all I have chosen salvation’s in my eyes / Corruption and exploitation their dependency is mine”). Every single time I face a modern thrashing tune like this I realize Thrash Metal has been the genre that evolved the best in the past few decades, offering the listener brutal riffs, sharp solos, metallic bass lines and furious drumming without sounding outdated or obsolete, all we need in this form of music.

The Words Define sounds like a “sequel” to the previous song, keeping the speed above the recommended limit while Richard is as visceral as usual with his harsh vocals, a combination that should sound incredible during their live performances. And if violence is what you want, that’s what Solitary offer you in the ruthless The Edge of Violence, where you’ll be treated to nonstop thrashing action, with Richard leading his bandmates with his rabid growls. Furthermore, the cutting guitar solos throughout the song end up bringing even more potency to the overall result, making it a must-listen for admirers of true Thrash Metal. And closing the album we have one more fast and furious chant by Solitary, the spiteful Humanity’s Decline, offering straightforward, brutal Thrash Metal to put anyone who’s still alive to an end, yet again displaying another bestial performance by Roy on drums.

You can grab your copy of such flammable, rip-roaring Thrash Metal opus at the UKEM Records’ webstore or at Solitary’s webstore, where you can also find available a sensational bundle  including a signed digipak, a media card with the digital version of the album, pre-production demo’s and documentary, the “I Promise to Thrash Forever – The Solitary Story” book, a Solitary key ring, a “The Diseased Heart of Society” patch, a Solitary sticker, a limited edition of the Solitary T-shirt (with breast, sleeve and back print) and a limited edition of the artwork in a 15×15 digital print on a metal plaque (please note that both the T-shirt and the artwork have only ten copies produced). The unstoppable Solitary, whose kick-ass music and all other details can be found at their official Facebook page, managed to transform in The Diseased Heart of Society all the degradation and downfall of our world into first-class, unrelenting Thrash Metal, which means at least musically speaking there’s something really good coming out of all tragedies we’ve been experiencing in the past few years, and we need to thank those British metallers for that.

Best moments of the album: Trigger Point Atrocity, Architects of Shame, Unidentified and The Edge of Violence.

Worst moments of the album: Anthem of Regret.

Released in 2017 UKEM Records

Track listing
1. Blackened Skies | Wait 4:30
2. Trigger Point Atrocity 3:26
3. Anthem of Regret 4:27
4. Architects of Shame 3:42
5. The Diseased Heart of Society 4:33
6. Unidentified 2:50
7. The Words Define 3:40
8. The Edge of Violence 2:54
9. Humanity’s Decline 2:56

Band members
Richard Sherrington – vocals, guitar
Andy Mellor – lead guitar
Pete Hewitt – bass
Roy Miller – drums

Guest musician
Stan Havard – lead guitar

Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio Promo Hour Of The Day – From Monday To Friday @ 8pm GMT

http://midnight-madness.is-a-rockstar.com/Great news for all of you metalheads!

FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8pm GMT, one of our kick-ass partners, Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, broadcasting directly from London, England, will blast the best of underground metal music reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose during the PROMO HOUR OF THE DAY!

So remember, FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8PM GMT tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to get your daily shot of the cream of the underground metal music crop, from Hard Rock to Black Metal, from Folk Metal to Thrash Metal, from Doom Metal to Metalcore, and so on! You’ll have the unique pleasure of listening to the superb music by bands like Charm Designer, Neverworld, Majesty Of Revival, Nervosa, False Coda, Atonismen, Diabolizer, The Silent Rage, Terrifier, Gaerea, and tons of other amazing metal acts from all over the world!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

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Album Review – Avenford / New Beginning (2017)

A lecture in melodic, progressive and vigorous Power Metal by a band that has all it takes to be one of the greatest names in Power Metal within the next few years.

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avenford-new-beginningFormed in the summer of 2012 by guitarist Peter Szehoffner and lead singer and guitarist Arpie Gamson in Hungary, inspired by the music by Masterplan, Jorn Lande, Yngwie Malmsteen and Iron Maiden, among others, but currently residing in London, England, Power Metal quartet Avenford has been making a name for themselves in the world of heavy music since their inception, delivering first-class Heavy Metal for fans of melodic guitars, fast and rhythmic drums and epic high-pitched vocal lines. After releasing their debut album in 2014, titled Mortal Price, and after beginning to conquer Europe and the rest of the world with their music, it’s time for Avenford to strike us all again with their fresh new album New Beginning.

The list of guest musicians in New Beginning is quite extensive, each one adding their own share of adrenaline to the final result. We have Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind), Zoltan Marothy (Kiss Forever Band), Roland Grapow (Masterplan, Helloween), Zoltan Kiss (Iron Maidnem), Bodor Mate (Alestorm) and Piotr Sikora (Exlibis) lending their feeling and refined techniques to Avenford, contributing with Peter, Arpie, bassist Tom Longbottom and drummer Jivodar Dimitrov in crafting beautiful and exciting Heavy Metal perfect for hitting the road, for having a good time with your friends, or for simply relaxing and enjoying it by yourself.

The opening track Dead or Alive doesn’t waste a single second and comes ripping in a heavy and melodic way led by the guitars by Arpie and Peter, suddenly turning into a fast-paced metal feast with guest singer Apollo Papathanasio kicking some serious ass on vocals, resulting in Power Metal at its finest; whereas Back in Time is a Symphonic Power Metal composition with a strong focus on its electrified atmosphere and the fierce drumming by Jivodar, also featuring an amazing solo by guest guitarist Zoltán Maróthy. And progressiveness, intricacy and tons of feeling are the main ingredients in the fast-paced chant Assassin, where not only both guitarists are on fire, blasting beautiful riffs and solos, but the rumbling bass lines by Tom are also very effective and add a lot of groove to the music.

avenfordAlbeit slightly slower, Fury Road is still very progressive and heavy, with the one and only Roland Grapow doing what he does best, which is of course delivering awesomeness though his guitar solo, before the short and pleasant instrumental bridge Maze of Visions builds the ambience for the title-track New Beginning, a heavy power-ballad where Arpie has an amazing performance on vocals while the rest of the band sounds extremely cohesive and focused on delivering top-tier Power Metal to the masses. And in Overlord, a futuristic warlike intro explodes into Progressive Power Metal due to the accelerated beats by Jivodar, with both Arpie and Peter making the perfect dynamic duo on guitars. In other words, if you love high-octane Melodic Heavy Metal, this thrilling tune will definitely please your metallic ears.

With guest singer Zoltán Kiss giving a lesson in melodic vocals, Dark Angel presents the perfect combination of guitars and keyboards the likes of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, having all it takes to become a classic among fans of the genre. Besides, how not to get excited with the song’s amazing chorus? In Mask, we’re treated to more electricity and passion for heavy music from Avenford, a very traditional sonority led by the potent vocals by Arpie and the unstoppable drums by Jivodar, and featuring a great guitar solo by another guest Máté Bodor; while Return from the Land of Emeralds is the dream of every musician that loves complex and metallic Power Metal. All band members are in perfect sync in this instrumental feast, with Tom and Jivodar crafting the perfect atmosphere for all the song’s inspiring guitar solos. And my favorite track of the album, Unholy Game, featuring the sharp keyboards by guest musician Piotr Sikora, brings elements from old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock that truly elevate the song’s electricity to a whole new level. No one can stand still to such amazing tune, with Arpie being absolutely fantastic on vocals.

In a nutshell, New Beginning is a lecture in melodic, progressive and vigorous Power Metal by a band that sounds like veterans of the genre, despite being on the road for less than a decade, and if you’re fond of this always galvanized genre of heavy music I highly recommend you go visit Avenford’s Facebook page and YouTube channel to get more details on this excellent band and their inspiring music. And of course if you want to add New Beginning to your distinct collection of Power Metal albums, you can find it at the Pride & Joy webshop, at Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon. The name of the album might be New Beginning, but what we have is actually a solid continuation to the career of a band that has an immeasurable potential to become one of the greatest names in Power Metal within the next few years.

Best moments of the album: Dead or Alive, New Beginning, Dark Angel and Unholy Game.

Worst moments of the album: Back in Time.

Released in 2017 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Dead or Alive 4:22
2. Back in Time 3:50
3. Assassin 4:30
4. Fury Road 4:32
5. Maze of Visions 1:21
6. New Beginning 7:13
7. Overlord 5:41
8. Dark Angel 3:43
9. Mask 3:56
10. Return from the Land of Emeralds 5:49
11. Unholy Game 3:48

Band members
Arpie Gamson – vocals, guitar
Peter Szehoffner – guitar, backing vocals
Tom Longbottom – bass
Jivodar Dimitrov – drums

Guest musicians
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals on “Dead or Alive”
Zoltán Maróthy – lead guitars on “Back in Time”
Roland Grapow – lead guitars on “Fury Road”
Zoltán Kiss – vocals on “Dark Angel”
Máté Bodor – lead guitars on “Mask”
Piotr Sikora – keyboards on “Unholy Game”

Album Review – Dead Witches / Ouija (2017)

Beware as the witches are coming to take your soul with their occult, stoned-out Doom Metal.

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hps048_deadwitches_300dpi_cmykBritish drummer Mark Greening (Electric Wizard, Ramesses, With The Dead) and Italian singer Virginia Monti (Psychedelic Witchcraft) have joined forces to establish the heaviest occult, psych superbeast to see the light in 2017, taking the shape of Occult Stoner/Doom Metal act Dead Witches and unleashing upon us mere mortals their debut album obscurely entitled Ouija, a must-have for followers of bands like Electric Wizard, Sleep and Pentagram, among others, who love the combination of dark and strong melodies, heavy guitar riffs and a truly supernatural vibe.

Ouija is comprised of six distinct songs that will mesmerize you during the album’s 33 minutes of somber passages, classic Doom Metal beats and a stunning performance by Virginia on vocals, all perfectly depicted by the bewitching artwork designed by Goatess Doomwych. In addition, Ouija also ended up being the last release in the career of guitarist Greg Elk, who sadly passed away late 2016, giving the album an extra mystical touch. In other words, while listening to Ouija, let the awesome sound of Greg’s guitar penetrate your mind and soul, taking you to the other side for a quick visit where he’s definitely having a good time with his deceased guitar heroes right now. I’m pretty sure that’s what Greg and the rest of the band want you to feel with their music.

The album’s two-and-a-half-minute long Intro informs a dark, misty storm is upon us, with the menacing bass by Carl Geary sending a clear message that there will be no sign of happiness from now on, beginning with the excellent Dead, where Greg and Mark generate the most damned atmosphere you can think of with their fetching guitar riffs and Doom Metal beats, respectively, before the classy Virginia begins firing her sexy devilish vocals, leading us all to burn into the fire as the music progresses. And as the icing on the cake, Greg delivers an outstanding solo to make the whole song even more captivating.

deadwitches_02Then it’s Greg and Carl who build the wicked atmosphere in the sensational Drawing Down The Moon, my favorite song of the album where Virginia sounds even more rapturous on vocals. Moreover, when Mark speeds his beats up we’re treated to a potent sonority full of electricity, passion and the delicious obscurity of Doom Metal. The title-track Ouija is a lot more melancholic, highly recommended for savoring a full bottle of a high-quality, traditional red wine. Greg keeps blasting pure awesomeness through his riffs and solos, while at the same time we get hypnotized by the song’s vocal lines and beats inspired by ritualistic Doom Metal.

In Mind Funeral, get ready to play with the words “self”, “mind”, “control” and “funeral” together with Virginia throughout the whole song in a gripping way, while the rest of the band delivers their low-tuned, obscure lines flawlessly. Although this amazing chant might darken your heart a bit, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret feeling that darkness growing inside you thanks to the electrifying sonority brought forth by this England-based group. And A World Of Darkness, the last tune of this darkly alluring album, showcases powerful performances by Mark and Carl in over seven minutes of raw, straightforward old school Doom Metal that smoothly flow into a Stygian ending. Needless to say, the guitar sounds by Greg feel really touching the whole song, an amazing job done by a talented guitarist that will surely be missed by his family, friends and fans.

You can join the entrancing coven by this excellent UK band through their Facebook page or YouTube channel, and you’ll soon be able to buy your copy of Ouija at the Heavy Psych Sounds Records website, at the All That Is Heavy webstore, on Amazon and other locations. So beware, my dear headbanging friend, as the witches are coming to take your soul with the occult, stoned-out music found in Ouija, an album that has all it takes to become a fan-favorite among admirers of underground Doom Metal without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Drawing Down The Moon and Mind Funeral.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Intro 2:27
2. Dead 6:05
3. Drawing Down The Moon 5:54
4. Ouija 5:04
5. Mind Funeral 5:00
6. A World Of Darkness 7:35

Band members
Virginia Monti – vocals
Greg Elk (R.I.P.) – guitar
Carl Geary – bass
Mark Greening – drums

Album Review – Warcrab / Scars of Aeons (2016)

Enjoy one of the most complete and thrilling Sludge Metal albums of the past few years, courtesy of six exceptional musicians from the UK.

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coverIt’s time to get extremely heavy with the precise fusion of Death, Sludge and Doom Metal blasted by British squad Warcrab, a sextet that has been on the road since 2009 offering their warlike music to fans of the dark side of underground metal, starting with their self-titled debut EP in 2012 and then with their 2014 EP named Ashes of Carnage. Hailing from Plymouth, a city on the south coast of Devon, England, Warcrab are back with new material and will crush your head with the darkened and sluggish compositions found in Scars of Aeons, their debut full-length album and one of the best of the genre from the past few years in my humble opinion.

The music by Warcrab is not only highly recommended for connoisseurs of Sludge Metal, but it’s also an amazing alternative for fans of bands like Bolt Thrower, Amon Amarth and Slayer due to the more aggressive approach coming from their Death Metal influences. That exciting mix of different types of extreme music led them to play numerous shows across the UK in 2015, sharing the stage with renowned artists such as Vader, Incantation and Desecration, which also turned out to be an excellent source of creativity and potency for the music found in Scars of Aeons. If there’s a word that can be used to define their musicality, I would say that word is “heaviness”.

The intro to the opening track Conquest couldn’t be more obscure and damned, but it’s when drummer Rich Parker starts pounding his drums that a dark feeling truly impregnates the air. Martyn Grant’s vociferations boost the vileness of the song, with guitarists Paul “Budgie” Garbett and Leigh Jones being spot-on with their heavy and demonic riffs throughout the song’s eight raw and fierce minutes, ending with a sensational solo by lead guitarist Geoff Holmes. The following song, Destroyer of Worlds, is tailored for breaking your neck and pulverizing your spinal cord, with the Death Metal vocals by Martyn matching perfectly with the musicality generated by the rest of the band. It is a kick-ass combination of the heaviness and moodiness of Sludge Metal with the belligerence of Death Metal, or in other words, the level of brutality in this amazing composition is definitely not for the lighthearted. And increasing their speed a bit and leaning towards a more Death Metal vibe, Warcrab keep attacking us all with their visceral music in the solid In the Shadow of Grief, where all guitarists are in perfect sync while Rich continues to fire his rhythmic and potent beats.

group-photoIn the sensational Bury Me Before I’m Born, Geoff’s soulful solos are exactly what’s needed to give more balance to the overall inhumanity generated by the band in the beginning of the song, before Martyn growls his possessed words in a demonic way. Moreover, it has a primeval and tribal feel that gets mesmerizing as the song progresses, with the thunderous bass by Dave “Guppy” Simmonds snarling like an evil monster in the background. Warcrab still have a 10-minute ode to darkness and hate to offer us all, the title-track Scars of Aeons, a groovy and powerful composition where Martyn leads the band’s Doom Metal assault with his deranged growls and screams. Despite being a neck-breaking tune, it also brings forward a good amount of melody and harmony to the listener, proving how talented the whole band is, gradually slowing down and getting more and more blackened and melancholic until all is said and done.

As aforementioned, I consider Scars of Aeons one of the most complete and thrilling Sludge/Doom Metal albums of the past few years, offering all the elements traditionally found in this type of music and at the same time presenting a fresh vibe thanks to the sensational job done by all Warcrab guys with their instruments. They deserve our respect and support for carrying the flag of extreme music in such a classy way, and in order to do that we should all give them a shout at their Facebook page, bang our heads to their music at their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase Scars of Aeons at the Black Bow Records’ BandCamp page.

Best moments of the album: Destroyer of Worlds and Scars of Aeons.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. Conquest 8:29
2. Destroyer of Worlds 4:47
3. In the Shadow of Grief 5:56
4. Bury Me Before I’m Born 4:51
5. Scars of Aeons 10:09

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 – Cryptic Shift / Beyond the Celestial Realms EP (2016)

An action-packed voyage through space and time, led by a Sci-Fi Death Metal Assault Squad from the UK eager to conquer the entire universe with their progressive and technical brutality.

Rating5

btcr-coverAre you ready for a voyage through space and time, a daredevil journey to a parallel universe where you’ll face technology a million light-years beyond our knowledge and where unknown forms of extraterrestrial life coexist, all to the sound of a very progressive and technical fusion of Death and Thrash Metal? This is what you’ll get in Beyond the Celestial Realms, the brand new EP by British Progressive Death/Thrash Metal act Cryptic Shift. If you’re a fan of the hard-hitting and intricate sound of iconic bands such as Death, Obituary and Voivod, lasers will blast from your eyes with excitement while listening to Cryptic Shift.

Formed in 2010 under the name Crÿptic Shift, this Leeds-based group calls itself a “Sci-Fi Death Metal Assault Squad”, a distinct designation that makes total sense as soon as you start listening to their high-quality material. And this blend of extreme music and Sci-Fi led the band to share the stage with renowned acts like Exodus, Hirax and Lost Society, also playing at some up-and-coming festivals in the UK such as Thrashersaurus, Full Thrash Assault and Thrashoholic Fest, all between 2014 and 2015. Beyond the Celestial Realms, which features a “futuristic old school” (if that expression exists) artwork by Nemesis Design, can be considered the “encapsulation” of the band’s short but very active career,  containing revamped versions of some of their original demos mixed with brand new compositions and, of course, a high level of brutality and stamina.

In the cinematic/alien-inspired intro Beyond the Celestial Realms, ominous acoustic lines and a phantom voice inform the listener a dangerous journey is about to begin, entitled Voyage Through Dimensions.  This feast of old school Death and Thrash Metal with a futuristic concept brings forward sheer dexterity and aggressiveness through the guitar riffs by Xander Bradley and Henry Parker, which precisely follow the potent rhythm imposed by drummer Ryan Sheperson. The second half of the song gets groovier thanks to the rumbling sound of the bass guitar by John Riley, adding layers to a song that has all it takes to become the band’s biggest classic in the future.

cryptic-shiftWhen a song is named Deathcrusher, we all know it’s going to be a demonic onrush perfect for breaking your neck headbanging until its apocalyptic ending, with its Slayer-ish riffs being nicely complemented by some traditional Death Metal beats.  In addition to that, Xander and Ryan not only have their kick-ass riffs to provide us, but their solos are also amazing. The following song, Spore, showcases a traditional fast-paced Death Metal rhythm boosted by the piercing guitars by Xander and Ryan, sounding like a fusion of Anthrax and Death, in special the vocal lines by Xander. And after the song’s calm and harmonious break halfway through it, we’re treated to a storm of groovy high-end guitar solos and endless progressiveness. Lastly, the initial peace found in Glacial Reclamation suddenly gives place to an outstanding Thrash Metal extravaganza, with Xander blasting his growls while John keeps delivering his low-tuned punches. All band members display a high level of adroitness with their instruments in this solid and thrilling composition, getting even more progressive than all previous tracks.

The gates to the parallel universe of Death Metal crafted by Cryptic Shift can be found at the band’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and the key to open those gates can be purchased at their official website or BandCamp page, at the Fractured Mind Records’ BandCamp, at the Nightbreaker Productions’ webstore, at the Tictail’s webstore, or at the Blood Harvest’s webstore. Cryptic Shift aim at conquering this universe (and any other existing ones) with their fusion of progressiveness and brutality, and based on the high quality of the music found in Beyond the Celestial Realms, we can say their spaceship of Death Metal is on course without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Voyage Through Dimensions.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Fractured Mind Records/Nightbreaker Productions

Track listing    
1. Beyond the Celestial Realms 1:12
2. Voyage Through Dimensions 5:29
3. Deathcrusher 6:04
4. Spore 5:40
5. Glacial Reclamation 4:40

Band members
Xander Bradley – vocals, guitars
Henry Parker – guitars
John Riley – bass
Ryan Sheperson – drums

Album Review – Age of Atlas / Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. (2016)

Just hit play and enjoy a feast of heavy, catchy and groovy compositions, brought forth by four promising British musicians who are constantly challenging themselves and pushing the boundaries of progressive music.

Rating4

album-cover-frontIf you have never visited Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, a city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, you’re missing all the vitality and distinctiveness of the city’s culture and heritage. For instance, you can go check their Humber Mouth literature festival, the annual Hull Jazz Festival, as well as several other exhibitions, theaters and concerts. Such cultural richness could only translate into amazing heavy music, which is exactly the case with Alternative Rock/Metal band Age of Atlas, who are releasing their first full-length album entitled Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., following on from their debut EP The Scale of Things to Come, from 2014.

With Peter Measures on vocals, Mikey Scott on drums and the two nearly identical twins Keelan and Kye Beavers on guitar and bass, respectively (which is probably the main reason why they are in perfect synchronicity at all times), this very technical Hull-based group formed in the year of 2012 is highly recommended for fans of the progressive heavy music played by Coheed and Cambria and Tides of Man, among many other distinct bands. Self-recorded at Mikey’s own studio Fruit Trade Music and featuring a beautiful artwork by James Fenwick Illustration, Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. epitomizes everything Age of Atlas are today in a feast of gripping riffs, stunning breaks and poetic vocal lines, obviously pointing to an absolutely bright future that lies ahead for this talented quartet.

The progressive and sharp opening track Sleight Of Hand Of Glory already offers the listener a taste of what Age of Atlas are capable of, with its alternative and psychedelic intro being boosted by the metallic bass lines by Kye before lead singer Peter Measures starts firing his modern poetry (“The thunder in your tongue finger lisps the blood from the thumb / Your hunter handed stitching yearns and breaks and comes undone”), not to mention the elements of Blues and Jazz added to the musicality which end up expanding its range even more. And that’s only the beginning, as the punchy riffs by Keelan and the roaring drums by Mikey steal the show in Natural Sciences, a hybrid of Dream Theater and Gojira with a Hard Rock twist. Despite being considerably heavy for many average radio listeners, I’m more than sure this electrifying tune could still be played at any rock n’ roll radio station in the world and become an instant hit. While that doesn’t happen, you can keep enjoying the intricacy provided by Kye on bass and the spot-on guitar solos by Keelan in For The Feast That Follows, some sort of “controlled craziness” that works really well from start ot finish, bringing pure awesomeness to our ears.

Presenting a modernized ambience, Father Of The Fear Of Falling is a soulful and technical composition where the complexity provide by Mikey on drums flawlessly supports the alternating moments of melodious softness and headbanging riffs found throughout the entire music; while Echoes Of Empire, presenting even more tempo changes and a passionate performance by Peter on vocals, is another sonic experiment for fans of Progressive Metal, with its backing vocals adding an extra touch of liveliness to the song. In The Brackening, highly influenced by Groove Metal but still having Progressive Rock as its core element, pay good attention to the “battle” between brothers Keelan and Kye with their unstoppable stringed weapons while Peter continues to blast his fiery vocal lines. An in Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance the band presents a more mainstream approach through smooth and progressive Hard Rock lines. This can be considered the most generic (or least innovative) of all tracks, albeit being well-crafted and offering a solid performance by Peter supported by the song’s background keyboards.

pic1Background electronic effects, rumbling bass lines and a headbanging rhythm make listening to the excellent Ambering a very positive experience, displaying even hints of pop music in certain moments. Furthermore, the last piece of the song is one of those progressive journeys loved by fans of the genre, which should sound incredible if played live. Then we have Needer, sounding heavier and sharper at first, but getting back to the band’s harmonious experimentations. Needless to say how bass and drums get inside your head and shake your brain in a good way, another remarkable characteristic of the music by Age of Atlas. And the icing on the cake comes in the form of an almost 7-minute aria of progressiveness named Gyromancer: it doesn’t matter if you prefer heavier and crazier sounds or a more serene complexity, the band brings forward all variations of Progressive Metal and Rock in this powerful tune, and the final result will certainly electrify the rest of your day.

As any other creative progressive band, Age of Atlas do not settle down at all and are already working on writing and refining new material for a follow up second album. While we wait for the next chapter in their promising career, let’s visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud to know more about the band and to enjoy more of their music. And as an early Christmas gift (and to show how nice the citizens of Hull are), Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. is available as a free download for fans who sign up to the band’s mailing list (which you can do by clicking HERE). “We’ll always try and push ourselves in new ways and writing new material, working on new songs, is the most enjoyable way of challenging ourselves.” says vocalist Peter, and we must all agree that as long as they keep challenging themselves and releasing albums like Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., the future of progressive and groovy music looks more than good not only for Kingston upon Hull, but for the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Sleight Of Hand Of Glory, Natural Sciences and The Brackening.

Worst moments of the album: Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing 
1. Sleight Of Hand Of Glory 4:26
2. Natural Sciences 3:06
3. For The Feast That Follows 3:49
4. Father Of The Fear Of Falling 3:43
5. Echoes Of Empire 4:08
6. The Brackening 5:28
7. Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance 4:37
8. Ambering 3:25
9. Needer 3:57
10. Gyromancer 6:52

Band members
Peter Measures – vocals
Keelan Beavers – guitar
Kye Beavers – bass
Mikey Scott – drums