Album Review – Carcass / Despicable EP (2020)

The trailblazers of Goregrind, Grindcore and Melodic Death Metal are back with a four-track collection of songs serving as a precursor to their upcoming 2021 album.

The legendary Liverpool, UK-based institution Carcass has released several classic albums over the years and changed the trajectory of Extreme Metal with each consecutive release, with albums like Reek of Putrefaction and Heartwork creating the template for Goregrind, Grindcore and Melodic Death Metal. Now in 2020, seven years after the release of the excellent Surgical Steel (and six years after the EP Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel), the band currently comprised of Jeff Walker on vocals and bass, Bill Steer and Tom Draper on the guitars, and Daniel Wilding on drums is about to release a new EP entitled Despicable, a four-track collection of songs serving as a precursor to the band’s upcoming 2021 full-length album and, above all, a bold and gory statement that those four guys still have a lot of fuel to burn and blood to spill with their wicked creations.

Just hit play and when The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue begins you’ll know it’s goddamn Carcass form the very first guitar note, with Bill and Tom sharpening their axes for a Grindcore and Death Metal onrush that’s about to start while Jeff snarls demonically as usual, also full of breaks and variations effectively inserted throughout this infernal tune. Led by the classy beats by Daniel, the quartet fires another solid, headbanging creation beautifully titled The Long and Winding Bier Road, where Jeff’s inhumane gnarls get deeper and more enraged, with their guitars showcasing more of their trademark riffage; and one more round of darkened riffs, devilish growls and rhythmic beats fills our avid ears in Under the Scalpel Blade, where it becomes clear the band is focusing a lot more on shaping up their melody rather than pure speed and heaviness. However, it’s when they accelerate their pace that things get really exciting (at least for old school fans like myself). Lastly, the band’s guitar duo keeps extracting strident, razor-edged sounds form their guitars in Slaughtered in Soho, sounding very progressive at times while Jeff continues to haunt our souls with his demon-like barks and vociferations.

I must admit Despicable is much better than what I was expecting, a really entertaining EP of modern-day Melodic Death Metal infused with Grindcore elements, and if this is the direction Carcass are taking with their music I can’t wait to see what they’ll bring into being in 2021 with their seventh full-length opus. Having said that, you can add Despicable to your demonic collection by clicking HERE or HERE, and keep an eye on the band’s official Facebook page and on Instagram for news about their upcoming album and, of course, for their tour dates as soon as all this madness is over. Let’s all hope 2021 is a much better year than this nasty 2020, and that bands like Carcass keep inspiring us all, “despicable” human beings, to slam into the circle pit while they pulverize our ears with their refined technique and aggressiveness for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue 6:00
2. The Long and Winding Bier Road 4:21
3. Under the Scalpel Blade 3:55
4. Slaughtered in Soho 4:37

Band members
Jeff Walker – vocals, bass
Bill Steer – guitars, backing vocals
Tom Draper – guitars
Daniel Wilding – drums

Album Review – Eight Lives Down / Humans (2020)

Four distinct musicians from four different countries united in the name of metal, bringing to us all a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable.

Originally founded by Greek-Kiwi vocalist and lyricist Aliki Katriou in 2016 together with British guitarist James Scott (replaced by French guitarist Paul Allain in 2017), bassist Marcin Orczyk from Poland, and Brazilian drummer Rodrigo Moraes Cruz, London, UK-based Extreme Metal act Eight Lives Down has its roots in Groove and Thrash Metal, but constantly branches out stylistically incorporating influences from Progressive, Death and Black Metal, as well as various other musical genres such as Punk Rock, Blues, and traditional folk music, while vocals range from low growls and high screams to clean and even operatic phrases, creating a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable. Now in 2020 the quartet is ready to invade our senses with their debut full-length opus, entitled Humans, showcasing all their versatility, dynamism, creativity and rage, all enhanced by the album’s top-notch mixing and mastering done by Dan Baune at Noise Foundry Productions, while embraced by a modern, stylish artwork by Dylan Sutton.

The blazing guitar riffs by Paul kick off the sick and groovy Opening Shots, bringing forward a fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more modern and alternative styles, with Aliki growling like a true she-demon for our total delight, followed by Misguided, where the metallic bass jabs by Marcin will hit you in the face while Aliki blasts her wicked mix of clean vocals and harsh gnarls, leaning towards contemporary Thrash and Groove Metal while Rodrigo dictates the pace with his classy beats. Then the mesmerizing vocalizations by Aliki accompanied by tribalistic sounds and tones ignite the heavy and experimental Angela, with Paul, Marcin and Rodrigo bringing sheer progressiveness to the music with their refined techniques, whereas From The Cradle is a lot more introspective, grim and atmospheric than its predecessors, starting in a semi-acoustic manner while Aliki declaims the song’s dark lyrics, sounding at the same time like a 90’s Groove and Funk Metal tune and a modern-day thrashing tune, something a wicked band like Faith No More would definitely do.

More of their rumbling sounds permeate the air in the also heavy and furious Sacrifice, a lecture in Groove Metal by Eight Lives Down where Aliki’s roars get deeper and more enraged while Rodrigo sounds pulverizing on drums, supported by Marcin’s menacing bass; and in Organize Your Mind the quartet offers us all a hybrid of the rebelliousness of Alternative Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, with Paul being on absolute fire with his demented riffage, while also presenting interesting atmospheric passages and endless heaviness. After that it’s time to break our necks headbanging together with Aliki and the boys in Colder, adding hints of Heavy Rock to their already crushing sonority while Paul and Marcin have a fun duel with their strident riffs and solos and low-tuned bass punches, respectively. Lastly, you better get ready for nine minutes of introspection, groove and heaviness in the form of Why, starting in a serene way with Aliki declaiming the song’s cryptic words, evolving into a thunderous metal feast led by Rodrigo’s visceral beats, not to mention the incendiary solos by Paul as the icing on the cake.

This precious gem of Extreme and Experimental Metal can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to show your support to Aliki and her loyal henchmen you should definitely buy a copy of Humans from their own BandCamp page, from their webstore or from Amazon, as well as follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about such up-and-coming metal band, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their idiosyncratic creations. It will certainly be more than just interesting to see what the future holds for Eight Lives Down with their upcoming releases, if they’ll keep experimenting like crazy or if they’ll set a defined shape and style for their music. Until then, while we wait for the creative mind of Aliki to provide us more insanity in the form of music, we can keep banging our heads nonstop to Humans, by far one of the best alternative albums of the year.

Best moments of the album: Opening Shots and Sacrifice.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Cult Of Parthenope

Track listing
1. Opening Shots 3:50
2. Misguided 4:01
3. Angela 3:56
4. From The Cradle 7:40
5. Sacrifice 3:52
6. Organize Your Mind 4:21
7. Colder 4:20
8. Why 9:02

Band members
Aliki Katriou – vocals
Paul Allain – guitar
Marcin Orczyk – bass
Rodrigo Moraes Cruz – drums

Album Review – South of Salem / The Sinner Takes It All (2020)

This excellent UK outfit is ready to take the entire world by storm with an album full of cult anthems that have a truly original (but recognizable) take on the rock and metal genres with a horror twist.

Having spent the best part of a decade working on various musical projects supporting the likes of Iced Earth, The Damned, Wednesday 13, and The Birthday Massacre, the up-and-coming Bournemouth, UK-based Hard Rock outfit South of Salem has just brought to life their debut effort The Sinner Takes It All, an album full of cult anthems that have a truly original (but recognizable) take on the rock and metal genres with a horror twist. Recorded at Grindstone Studio in Suffolk, UK and produced, mixed, and mastered by Scott Atkins (Cradle Of Filth, Amon Amarth, Sylosis, Behemoth), the title of the album, according to vocalist Joey, guitarists Kodi and Fish, bassist Dee and drummer Pip, “represents the corruption connected to wealth and power. How in dark times the rich become more affluent and the poor become more disconnected. During the current pandemic, small businesses are going under and people are more reliant on their government. Human beings abusing others, when they should be helping one another. The sinners are truly preparing to take it all. Enough is enough!”

A Rock N’ Roll storm is about to begin in Let Us Prey, with its lyrics inspired by The Purge film series (“They call us sick but we’re feeling fine / Just counting down to the killing time / Tonight, tonight was made for us / We know we’re sick but we hide it well / On a murder mile straight to hell / Tonight we’re armed and dangerous”) while Kodi and Fish sound beyond insane with their riffs, followed by The Hate In Me, a modernized hybrid of Motley Crüe and Godsmack with a heavier twist where Joey exhales rage through his vocals while Pip keeps pounding his drums in great fashion. Then it’s time for the band’s guitar duo to slash their axes nonstop in the Hard rock extravaganza No Plague Like Home, the perfect soundtrack for a pub brawl with Dee and Pip bringing the thunder to the overall result, not to mention its kick-ass guitar solos, whereas the rumbling bass punches by Dee provides Joey a dense base for his introspective vocals in Pretty Little Nightmare, a song about the darkest side of love, ready to be played on any Rock N’ Roll radio station thanks to the dynamic and classic beats by Pip. After such introspective composition, let’s all rev up our engines to the sound of Made To Be Mine, where the fiery riffs by Kodi and Fish will make your blood boil, evolving into a melodious and vibrant sonority showcasing spot-on backing vocals and another excellent performance by Joey.

Piercing guitars and an 80’s-inspired vibe are the main ingredients in the Melodic Rock tune titled Cold Day In Hell, with Joey leading his crew with his rockin’ vocals in another song about obscure relationships, whereas in Demons Are Forever, featuring Alex Avdis (aka The AvD) of Red Method and The Defiled, we face a grim, eerie atmosphere generated by all band members while Joey delivers a somber performance on vocals. Furthermore, don’t forget to check the stunning official video for this song as it is intended to raise suicide awareness. Back to a more berserk and vicious mode, the quintet blasts the Punk Rock-infused Another Nail In My Coffin, blending elements from the music by The Misfits and Social Distortion with their classic rock sound, all spiced up by the song’s enfolding riffs, and keeping the level of adrenaline high South of Salem offer us all Severely Yours, a song about temptation in long-term relationships presenting a great job done once again by Joey with his raspy vocals while Pipi delivers classic beats nonstop. Finally, closing such excellent album we have one more punk-ish tune entitled Dead Hearts Don’t Break, dealing with negative thoughts and the way one relationship can contaminate all future ones, with Kodi, Fish and Dee being on absolute fire with their stringed weapons.

In a nutshell, South of Salem more than nailed it with The Sinner Takes It All, an album that will undoubtedly entertain any type of rock and metal fan, from the ones who love a good melody to rockers who enjoy some action in the mosh pit. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to stream more of their music on Spotify, and above all that, to support those talented UK musicians by purchasing their debut album from their own Big Cartel page (and sooner than later from other retailers such as Apple Music and Amazon). Relationships are always tough, it doesn’t matter where you come from, your religion, sexual orientation and so on, and as there’s not much we can do about that besides trying to be the best person to our significant other every single day, why not doing that while also enjoying the top-of-the-line rock and metal music provided by South of Salem in their new album? I’m more than certain that at least your ears, your mind and your soul will feel a lot stronger and happier to the sound of their awesome creations.

Best moments of the album: Let Us Prey, No Plague Like Home and Another Nail In My Coffin.

Worst moments of the album: Pretty Little Nightmare.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Let Us Prey 3:24
2. The Hate In Me 3:35
3. No Plague Like Home 4:06
4. Pretty Little Nightmare 3:53
5. Made To Be Mine 3:41
6. Cold Day In Hell 4:28
7. Demons Are Forever 4:41
8. Another Nail In My Coffin 3:53
9. Severely Yours 3:15
10. Dead Hearts Don’t Break 3:35

Band members
Joey – vocals
Kodi – guitar
Fish – guitar
Dee – bass
Pip – drums 

Guest musicians
The AvD – keyboards and samples on “Demons Are Forever”

Album Review – Vesicarum / Reign Of Terror EP (2020)

Follow the story of a serial killer from his beginnings through stages of murder and torture in the form of crushing and visceral Death Metal made in the UK.

Formed in 2016 as a solo project by vocalist Glynn Neve and growing in early 2018 to include guitarists Martin Shipton and James Thompson, bassist Orla Blue Reed and drummer Donal McGee, Vesicarum are a visceral five-piece Death Metal band from Kent, UK bursting at the seams with brutal energy, featuring frantic, technical riffing topped off with Glynn’s signature vocal style, unleashing upon us now in 2020 their debut EP Reign Of Terror. By the way, the name “vesicarum”, meaning “to fester” in Latin, is an ode to the sinister nature of the band’s music and lyrical content. Featuring darker subjects including serial killers and The Ankou (The Graveyard Watcher), the central lyrical theme is hatred, while the band describes their music as an adrenaline rush that is a great escape from the stresses and strains of life. “The EP tells a story of a serial killer from his beginnings through stages of murder and torture,” states Glynn, complementing by saying that “The first four songs on the EP are about the killer and his development – however the last track [Undivine End] switches to the victim’s point of view – it was written to give the listener the impression of a victim tied up in the killer’s torture chamber awaiting his demise.”

Bringing to our ears a fusion of Groove and Death Metal, the sick bass punches by Orla match perfectly with the deep roars by Glynn in the opening track Reign Of Terror and its horror flick-inspired lyrics (“Using my nails to tear at the skin / My ghastly life is about to begin / I’m in a frenzy my head starts to spin / My patience in these scum is wearing real thin / Committing murder is a pleasurable sin / Always giving me a sinister grin / Acts of horror, such a beautiful thing / Pure fucking evil, pure fucking grim”), whereas The Sick And The Depraved sounds even groovier and more imposing from the very first second, with Glynn growling manically accompanied by the slashing riffs by James and Martin, also presenting elements from the Death Metal by renowned acts such as Obituary and Unleashed. Then it’s time for Donal to crush his drum set in Midnight Slasher, a true headbanger where the guitars by James and Martin are spitting fire while Orla generates a rumbling atmosphere in the background, feeling modern and at the same time loyal to classic Death Metal. Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer brings forward more insanity and fear in the form of extreme music, showcasing another bestial kitchen work by Donal and Orla while Glynn continues to distill his venomous, guttural vocals. In other words, simply crack your neck headbanging to this sick tune until the disturbing outro Undivine End captivates your senses, offering us all eerie instrumental passages that sound as if the whole song was taken form an actual horror movie.

The psychological terror blasted by Vesicarum through their undisputed Death Metal in Reign Of Terror can be better appreciated in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you can show your deep passion for extreme music by purchasing the EP from Vesicarum’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, and also by following the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, filling your ears with all the wrath, violence and heaviness flowing from the band’s crushing music and, therefore, leaving us all curious to witness the next chapter in the career of this up-and-coming UK-based squad in their reign of violence, insanity and metal.

Best moments of the album: The Sick And The Depraved and Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 One Eyed Toad Records

Track listing
1. Reign Of Terror 6:23
2. The Sick And The Depraved 3:30
3. Midnight Slasher 4:33
4. Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer 3:20
5. Undivine End 2:14

Band members
Glynn Neve – vocals
James Thompson – guitars
Martin Shipton – guitars
Orla Blue Reed – bass
Donal McGee – drums

Album Review – Grimgotts / Sagas EP (2020)

A UK-based Symphonic Power Metal squad continues to chronicle the epic battles between men and dragons on the high seas of Andria in the second part of their new trilogy.

Fans of Rhapsody of Fire, Dragonforce, Sonata Arctica and Alestorm will be signing up to set sail with London, UK-based Symphonic Power Metal band Grimgotts with their brand new EP entitled Sagas, the second part of a trilogy that started earlier this year with the release of the EP Tales, and that will see its epic conclusion later in 2020 with the third EP Legends. Sagas continues to chronicle the epic battles between men and dragons on the high seas of the mythical land of Andria, which is by the way the band’s own original fantasy realm, just like what was told in the first EP of the trilogy and in their previous releases Lions of the Sea (2017) and Dragons of the Ages (2019), proving the band formed by frontman Andy Barton, guitarist David Hills, keyboardist Fabio Garau, bassist Nelson Moreira and drummer Mo Abdelgadir definitely know how to unite fantasy and heavy music with tons of symphonic and epicness flawlessly for the delight of metal fans across the seven seas (and beyond).

It’s time to sail together with the pirates from Grimgotts in the opening tune Northern Passage, a symphonic and epic feast led by the inspiring keys by Fabio and the always precise beats by Mo, while Andy declaims the song’s lyrics like a true bard. Put differently, simply grab your sword and join the band in their quest for metal, whereas the strident riffage by David ignites the even more metallic Power Metal tune Rise Again, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Nelson and the awesome balance between Andy’s vocal lines and Fabio’s magical keyboards, definitely making your day more exciting and fun. Then we have Plunder, Loot & Chantey, an absolutely perfect soundtrack for prancing around the fire while drinking a pint of mead, or if you prefer a more “technical” language, this is a very entertaining fusion of Symphonic Power Metal with Folk and Epic Metal, with Mo dictating the pace with his classic beats. And lastly, the band offers the faster and more traditional title-track Sagas, another great option for banging your heads with Grimgotts, with David and Fabio making an incendiary duo with their respective riffs and keys while Andy showcases all his talent as the band’s frontman, leaving us eager for the last EP of their trilogy in a not-so-distant future.

It feels like Grimgotts are following a treasure map with Tales, Sagas and Legends, with each EP and each song being a different adventure the listener needs to face before reaching the glorious end of the trilogy, and let’s all admit their formula is working really well, making us all excited and ready for their next challenge. Hence, don’t forget to follow those UK metallers on Facebook and on Instagram, to listen to more of their music on Spotify, and to grab your copy of Sagas (sooner than you can scream “ahoy!”) and all of their previous albums from their own BandCamp page, showing them your true support and proving you have what it takes to sail the unruly seas of Andria together with the boys from Grimgotts, spending your time signing metal anthems while drinking beer and raising your swords until the end of their exciting saga.

Best moments of the album: Rise Again and Plunder, Loot & Chantey.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Northern Passage 4:18
2. Rise Again 6:52
3. Plunder, Loot & Chantey 3:43
4. Sagas 4:06

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

Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial EP (2020)

Adopting a more progressive sound, this unstoppable UK-based Alternative Rock unity is more than ready to rock your world with the first half of their third full-length album.

After embellishing the airwaves with their refined fusion of Alternative Rock and Metal with nuances of Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock in their previous efforts, those being their 2015 debut album Of The Night and their 2018 release Motus Octo, Cambridge, UK’s own Bouquet of Dead Crows are back from outer space with the first part of their third full-length album Hemispheres, the six-track EP titled Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial. Adopting a more progressive sound with their trademark riffs with big melodies approach being enhanced to incorporate more layered and nuanced elements, the band currently comprised of Antoinette Cooper on vocals, Neil Bruce on the guitars, newcomer Karen Gadd on bass, and Andrew Coxall on drums and synths is more than ready to rock your world with Celestial, also preparing us all for the second half of their musical journey, Cerebral, scheduled for a late 2020 or maybe even an early 2021 release.

Recorded at the beginning of the year at Parlour Studios, mixed and produced by Neil Haynes, and featuring a stylish artwork by longtime collaborator Stewart Harris, from Stewart Harris Designs, Celestial has an overall theme of mental health, which is a topic all band members are very passionate about. With each song, they’ve written about issues that affect them individually and personally. There’s been a lot of stigma about depression and anxiety over the years, and as the mood slowly shifts, this album captures the zeitgeist of our current unpredictable day-to-day life, the fears we are all experiencing right now. In addition, although written before the pandemic that the world is currently experiencing, a lot of the lyrics do seem strangely prescient and also very relevant, such as the chorus of the title track which says that “it’s not the end of the world this time, it feels like the end of the world every time.”

Atmospheric and eerie from the very first second, the Sci-Fi intro Terraformer will captivate your senses and warm you up for the British Rock extravaganza titled Before The Storm, where Neil and Karen are in absolute sync with their riffs and bass, respectively, providing Antoinette exactly what she needs to shine on vocals while also bringing elements of Jazz to their core alternative essence, flowing smoothly into the gentle and enfolding Caged, where Andrew does a superb job with both his beats and his ethereal synths. In addition, Karen brings the groove to the overall result, also full of nice breaks and variations, whereas Neil begins slashing his strings in great fashion in the fast and thrilling Left to Rot, the most metallic of all songs of the EP with Antoinette adding a touch of finesse to the rumbling sounds blasted by her bandmates with her piercing vocals. Then it’s time to celebrate all giant monsters from the Japanese culture like Godzilla and Gamera in Kaiju Hijinks, another explosion of groove and adrenaline by the quartet presenting elements from Stoner Rock and Jazz to make things more interesting, not to mention the razor-edged riffs by Neil, followed by the title-track for the full album, Hemispheres, an introspective and futuristic song that evolves into a gentle Hard Rock ballad led by Andrew’s rhythmic drums and Neil’s classic riffs, ending the EP on a high note and setting the bar high for the second act Cerebral in the coming months.

Celestial, which is available for a full listen on YouTube (as six very entertaining visualizers) and on Spotify, is definitely a step forward in the career of Bouquet of Dead Crows, and in order to show those rockers your true appreciation don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and of course to grab your copy of the EP from the German Shepherd Records’ BandCamp page, from Music Glue, from Apple Music or from Amazon. After putting your hands on this excellent EP, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack for rockin’ around your house or in your car during such strange times we’re living, while we all wait for Antoinette, Neil & Co. to deliver more of their stylish Rock N’ Roll with the next chapter in their evolutionary career, Cerebral.

Best moments of the album: Left to Rot and Kaiju Hijinks.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Terraformer 1:32
2. Before The Storm 2:34
3. Caged 3:49
4. Left to Rot 3:31
5. Kaiju Hijinks 2:36
6. Hemispheres 5:22

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars
Karen Gadd – bass, backing vocals
Andrew Coxall – drums, synths, programming, backing vocals

Album Review – Onslaught / Generation Antichrist (2020)

These Bristol, UK-based veterans are ready to set the world on fire once again with one of the most ferocious Thrash Metal albums of the year.

Synonymous with the brilliance and endurance of today’s Thrash Metal movement, Bristol, UK-based veterans Onslaught are ready to set the world on fire once again with one of the most ferocious Thrash Metal albums of the year, the excellent Generation Antichrist. Their long-awaited new album was recorded at Dugout Productions in Uppsala, Sweden, with Grammy Award winner Daniel Bergstrand (Behemoth, In Flames, Meshuggah) at the helm, capturing Onslaught’s classic sound with a pristine modern production. Not only that, Generation Antichrist is the first album to feature new vocalist David Garnett, replacing longtime frontman Sy Keeler, delivering a vocal performance on par with the brutal musical attack crafted by guitarists Nige Rockett and Wayne Dorman, bassist Jeff Williams and drummer James Perry. Influenced by second-generation Hardcore Punk bands and inspired by a world full of hatred, megalomaniacs and political madness, Onslaught are eager to unleash the new beast that is Generation Antichrist, one of their best efforts since their inception in the distant year of 1983.

Tune in to an old school Thrash Metal intro titled Rise to Power, starting in a visceral and heavy-as-hell way with James demolishing his drums while newcomer David showcases his growling abilities, setting the tone for Strike Fast Strike Hard, bringing forward modern thrash the likes of Exodus during their Rob Dukes-era that’s more than perfect for slamming into the mosh pit like a maniac, with Nige and Wayne being unstoppable with their shredding and wicked solos, making the song’s electricity and aggressiveness go through the roof. And they keep hammering our heads without a single drop of mercy in Bow Down to the Clowns, with Jeff firing sheer thunder from his bass while James’ drums dictate the song’s headbanging rhythm. In addition, the song’s backing vocals provide an amazing support to David’s sick screams in great Thrash Metal fashion.

The title-track Generation Antichrist couldn’t have sounded darker and more austere than this, a brutal and high-octane extravaganza tailored for diehard fans of Thrash Metal showcasing a fantastic job done by both Nige and Wayne with their axes while James continues to pound his drums manically, and get ready to crush your skull into the pit together with Onslaught in the modern-day thrashing tune titled All Seeing Eye, where David’s vocals match perfectly with the message from the song’s lyrics and the band’s vicious sounds, proving why he was the chosen to be Onslaught’s new frontman. Following such devastating tune we have Addicted to the Smell of Death, a great title for a frantic display of Thrash Metal led by James’ machine gun-like beats accompanied by a demented riffage, also bringing to our avid ears classic backing vocals and endless stamina, with David once again going berserk on vocals.

Then it’s time to break your neck headbanging to the sound of Empires Fall, again presenting elements form the current thrash blasted by Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, proving why Thrash Metal doesn’t need to be played at the speed of light to sound infernal, whereas the demolishing hurricane titled Religiousuicide is an ode to 80’s and 90’s Thrash Metal that will make your blood boil without a shadow of a doubt, all spiced up by its acid, blasphemous lyrics (“Sacrament or Sacrifice / Holier than thou / Anti cult or Antichrist / Messiah take a bow / Hanging on the Holy Cross / Judicious parasite / Religion takes it up the ass / Is Jesus Fucking Christ”) barked by David while Nige and Wayne are on fire with their strident solos from start to finish. And last but not least, the band offers a new version of A Perfect Day to Die, originally released in 2019 as a single still with Sy Keeler on vocals, sounding just as incendiary and visceral, with Jeff and James making sure Onslaught’s kitchen remains rumbling and metallic.

In summary, the reinvigorated old school Thrash Metal platoon known as Onslaught are simply kicking some serious ass throughout the entire Generation Antichrist, with newcomer David bringing a huge dosage of adrenaline to the band with his raspy vocals and, therefore, pointing to a bright future in their already awesome career. You can find more details about Onslaught, their music and their tour dates (whenever this COVID-19 madness is over, of course) on their official Facebook page and on Instagram, listen to more of their crushing thrash on Spotify, and purchase your copy of Generation Antichrist from the AFM Records webstore or by clicking HERE. I’m sure all fans of classic and modern thrash like myself are going to be truly impressed with the high quality of the music found in Onslaught’s new effort, urging us all to slam into the circle pit even if we have to do it by ourselves while isolated in our homes.

Best moments of the album: Strike Fast Strike Hard, Generation Antichrist and Religiousuicide.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Rise to Power 2:05
2. Strike Fast Strike Hard 4:38
3. Bow Down to the Clowns 4:50
4. Generation Antichrist 5:43
5. All Seeing Eye 3:50
6. Addicted to the Smell of Death 3:55
7. Empires Fall 5:34
8. Religiousuicide 3:29
9. A Perfect Day to Die (2020 version) 3:50

Band members
David Garnett – vocals
Nige Rockett – guitar
Wayne Dorman – guitar
Jeff Williams – bass
James Perry – drums

Album Review – Paradise Lost / Obsidian (2020)

The overlords of doom return with another majestic album, exploring the unknown and opening new horizons with their awe-inspiring music.

Still reigning supreme as the overlords of doom after over three decades on the road, Halifax, England-based Doom Metal act Paradise Lost never gets tired of stunning us all with their refined hybrid of old school Doom and Death Metal with 80’s and contemporary Gothic Metal and Rock, proving why they’ve maintained their relevance in the world of heavy music without disappointing their loyal fans not even once in their vast career. Now in 2020 it’s time for frontman Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen to darken the skies once again with Obsidian, their sixteenth studio album and the follow-up to their latest releases Medusa, from 2017, and The Plague Within, released in 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orgone Studios, with additional recordings done at Black Planet, and featuring a cryptic artwork by British artist Adrian Baxter, Obsidian might not be considered a classic yet like Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but I’m sure the album will reach its deserved cult status soon based on the amazing quality of the music found throughout its 47 astonishing minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes from the deluxe edition).

The gorgeous guest violin by Spanish musician Alicia Nurho adds a touch of finesse to the opening track Darker Thoughts, led by the always enfolding, deep vocals by Nick, sounding utterly grandiose, epic and doomed, and with Waltteri displaying all his refined skills behind his drum set. Then in Fall from Grace the band keeps slamming our heads mercilessly with their crushing riffage and damned beats, all led by Nick’s obscure roars while Steve makes the earth rumble with his bass (not to mention Greg’s hypnotizing solo), whereas Steve kicks off the 80’s-inspired dark tune titled Ghosts, enhanced by a brilliant performance by Nick with his Stygian vocals while his bandmates bring endless groove and electricity to the song from start to finish. And bringing forward contemplative lyrics that reek of modern-day poetry (“I’m tired of dreams, I’m tired of almost everything / Dreams deceive and living never lasts. / Too tired to sleep, denial of grief awakes my sins / Too weak to breathe, from living in deaths hands”), The Devil Embraced is another lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal spearheaded by Waltteri’s classic drums and the strident riffs by both Greg and Aaron.

Ominous sounds embellish the ambience in the also somber and heavy-as-hell Forsaken, where Nick is once again flawless on vocals supported by the slashing guitars by Greg and Aaron, while Steve and Waltteri sound absolutely thunderous with their respective instruments. After such dense tune, it’s time to bang our heads in darkness to the sound of Serenity, a hammering fusion of Doom and Death Metal tailored for admirers of the genre, also presenting some welcome breaks and variations, tons of progressiveness and the always macabre roars by Nick, followed by Ending Days, where Alicia returns with her gentle violin while the band gets back to a more serene and melancholic vibe, showcasing all their versatility and talent. Furthermore, the impact of the guitars and drums combined to the overall result is majestic, which can also be said about Hope Dies Young, featuring backing vocals by American singer Heather Mackintosh (Tapping the Vein), a very pleasant and enfolding sonority, and another round of their unique and stylish lyrics (“How could you know? / As pure as driven snow / Through a winter of descent / The splintered argument / Such a withering lament / Hopes will die young / Hopes will die young now”). The last song of the regular version of Obsidian, titled Ravenghast, brings to our ears a classic Paradise Lost sound, reminding me of some of their old school compositions from Draconian Times, with the level of heaviness and melancholy being beautifully insane while Waltteri blasts his drums in the best Doom Metal way possible and Nick fires his deep, demonic growls. If you decide to purchase the deluxe edition of Obsidian you’ll face the bonus tracks Hear the Night and Defiler, both very solid and classy Doom Metal compositions presenting all the elements we learned to love form the band’s distinguished music, making it totally worth the investment.

I guess I don’t need to ask you to take a good listen at Obsidian in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the band, and of course don’t forget to keep the fires of doom burning by purchasing your copy of the album by clicking HERE, and to follow Paradise Lost on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you search for the meaning of “obsidian” online, you’ll find out it’s a volcanic glass that’s supposed to be truth-enhancing, a strongly protective stone which forms a shield against negativity, blocking psychic attack and absorbing negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension, stimulating growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. There couldn’t be a better representation of the new album by Paradise Lost, as their brand new opus is indeed a work-of-art perfect for heightening our senses and opening our minds and hearts for the glory of doom.

Best moments of the album: Darker Thoughts, Ghosts, Serenity and Ravenghast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Darker Thoughts 5:46
2. Fall from Grace 5:42
3. Ghosts 4:35
4. The Devil Embraced 6:08
5. Forsaken 4:30
6. Serenity 4:46
7. Ending Days 4:36
8. Hope Dies Young 4:02
9. Ravenghast 5:30

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
10. Hear the Night 5:34
11. Defiler 4:45

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead & rhythm guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musicians
Alicia Nurho – violin on “Darker Thoughts” and “Ending Days”
Heather Mackintosh – backing vocals on “Hopes Die Young”

Album Review – Zebadiah Crowe / Host Rider (2020)

An infernal British duo returns after almost eight excruciating years of silence with the utmost sound of violence, horror, darkness, filth and savagery in their brand new opus.

Almost eight years after the release of their sophomore album Omak K’aah, a beyond infernal British duo that goes by the curious name of Zebadiah Crowe returns from the pits of the underworld with more of their incendiary hybrid of Black, Thrash and Industrial Metal with Grindcore nuances in their brand new opus entitled Host Rider, a new tome of foulness and fractured sanity featuring seven new psalms of wild abandon and dangerous delirium. Formed in 2006 in London, UK, the duo comprised of The Horrid on vocals, bass and drum programming and Forrrthen on the guitars sounds sharper and more caustic than ever in their newborn spawn, bringing forth the sound of violent punk attitude, suffocating black horror, gothic darkness, mechanistic filth and the savagery of the most vicious outliers of thrash, being highly recommended for admirers of the distinguished terror blasted by renowned acts such as Venom, Ministry, Mantar and Babylon Whores, leaving you broken and destroying your senses without a single drop of mercy.

Imposing, epic sounds explode into a venomous fusion of Black and Industrial Metal in the amazing opening track Knucklebones, where the dirty, scorching riffs by Forrrthen provide The Horrid exactly what he needs to thrive with his wicked gnarls, whereas the thunderous and metallic bass by The Horrid takes the lead in the pulverizing A Tincture of Malic, a song that will undoubtedly inspire you to slam into the circle pit together with this talented unity from hell. Moreover, although the drums might be programmed, they actually sound very organic and evil, giving the whole album an extra touch of rawness. And there’s no time to breathe at all as they keep hammering our heads with their frantic and industrialized sounds in Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin, reminding me of some of the most vicious creations by Ministry, with The Horrid going full Black Metal with his vile screams while Forrrthen keeps slashing his stringed ax manically.

In The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief we’re treated to more of their blackened music, with the programmed drums working really well once again while the duo smashes their guitar and bass mercilessly, even bringing hints of Punk Rock to its core mechanized essence. Slightly groovier and more visceral than its predecessors, A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men is an underground lesson in savagery and dementia where Forrrthen’s riffage sounds bestial from start to finish, not to mention the trademark enraged roars by The Horrid, while in Godblind and Destitute they once again blend the heaviness of Black Metal with the violence of Thrash Metal and the metallic noises of industrial music, keeping the album’s electricity flowing at an insane speed. Lastly, closing such short but utterly extreme and malignant album we have Wormhavens Dance, where Zebadiah Crowe fire tons of rage and darkness through their razor-edged instruments, all spearheaded by The Horrid’s demonic screams and at the same time spiced up by futuristic background elements.

If you think you have what it takes to face Zebadiah Crowe and the anthems of horror and perversion found in their new album Host Rider, you should definitely follow them on Facebook to know more about this distinct entity hailing from the UK, including their tour dates and upcoming releases, but of course in order to show them you’re a creature of the dark just like The Horrid and Forrrthen themselves, you should purchase your copy of Host Rider from their own BandCamp page. No one knows if Zebadiah Crowe will take another long and excruciating eight years to bring to our ears a new sonic beast the likes of Host Rider, but for now let’s not worry about that, as we do have their new album to enjoy, letting their piercing, austere sounds penetrate deep inside our psyche, therefore dragging us to the world of horrors and dementia ruled by one of the most talented duos of the underground British scene.

Best moments of the album: Knucklebones, Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin and A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men.

Worst moments of the album: A Tincture of Malic.

Released in 2020 Lore Breaker Records

Track listing
1. Knucklebones 4:17
2. A Tincture of Malic 2:58
3. Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin 3:13
4. The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief 3:44
5. A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men 3:40
6. Godblind and Destitute 3:50
7. Wormhavens Dance 3:45

Band members
The Horrid – vocals, bass, drum programming
Forrrthen – guitars

Album Review – Deified / Anthrobscene EP (2020)

Playing dark, angry, philosophical and downright nihilistic Groove Metal, this UK-based outfit is ready to discuss everything that’s wrong in our society with their brand new EP.

Playing a dark, angry, philosophical and downright nihilistic fusion of Groove Metal, Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal since their inception in 2013, reflecting on some of the worst parts of today’s status quo and always targeting key political figures, nuclear annihilation and conscious degradation, Merseyside, England-based outfit Deified is unleashing upon humanity their third EP and fourth official album (taking into account their 2015 full-length opus Ascension), entitled Anthrobscene, following up on their critically acclaimed 2018 EP Inhuman Manifesto. A time capsule discussing modern times, Anthrobscene doesn’t hold back with its commentary on social media, the digital revolution, mental health, climate change, politics and more, showcasing all the talent and rage from frontman Jamie Hughes, guitarists Matthew Pike (who also produced, mixed and mastered the album) and Alistair Blackhall, bassist Tom Simm and drummer Jordan Stanley-Jones and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of the caustic metal blasted by renowned bands like Lamb Of God and Sylosis.

The cinematic intro Prelude heightens our senses for the acid Dark Desires, a visceral Lamb Of God-inspired tune where Jamie roars demonically accompanied by the razor-edged riffs by Matthew and Alistair, resulting in a high-speed dirty extravaganza overflowing madness and wrath, not to mention how Tom and Jordan give a lesson in groove with their respective bass and drums. Then it’s  time to bang our heads to the strident and melodic Broken Matrix, a modern-day Melodic Death and Groove Metal for the masses showcasing an ass-kicking shredding and classic beats, providing Jamie all he needs to bark like a beast, whereas sounding like a stone crusher on drums Jordan dictates the rhythm in Enemies Within, while Jamie declaims the song’s austere lyrics and Matthew and Alistair once again demolish our minds with their unrelenting guitars, all spiced up by Tom’s rumbling bass lines.

Following such electrifying display of modern metal music, a brief, futuristic Intermission sets the stage for Deified to kill once again in the frantic and sharper-than-a-knife Apotheosis/Rebirth, where the entire band sounds furious and vile from start to finish, with Jamie taking the lead with his maniacal vocals while Tom and Jordan make the earth tremble with their avalanche of low-tuned and thunderous sounds. The second to last blast of Deified’s well-balanced music comes in the form of Blood Under the Bridge, where the band’s stringed trio is on absolute fire with their riffage and thunderous bass jabs, sounding absolutely perfect for headbanging nonstop or crushing your skull into the pit, consequently keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline, before the closing song An Ode to Armageddon comes ripping with its epic start and its explosion of fulminating Groove Metal, or in other words, it’s an instrumental outro showcasing crisp riffs, piercing solos and endless stamina flowing from its bass and drums for our total delight.

In a nutshell, it’s impressive how dynamic, versatile and meaningful Deified were able to sound in only 28 minutes of music in Anthrobscene, proving how skillful the band is and why they’ve been on a roll since they started back in 2013, having already being crowned the winners of Bloodstock M2TM in 2015 and having already toured with iconic bands the likes of Cattle Decapitation, Exodus, Incite and Krysthla. Hence, don’t forget to show the guys from Deified your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel and, above all, to grab your copy of their brand new EP from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Anthrobscene is about everything we fear the most, and at the same time about everything we can’t live without, showing how rotten our minds are and, of course, how heavy music is yet again one of the best ways to represent all that’s wrong with the society we live in, and we must thank the guys from Deified for offering us metalheads such high quality and honest music with each and every single one of their albums.

Best moments of the album: Dark Desires and Apotheosis/Rebirth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Prelude 1:01
2. Dark Desires 4:33
3. Broken Matrix 4:05
4. Enemies Within 3:49
5. Intermission 0:48
6. Apotheosis/Rebirth 5:18
7. Blood Under the Bridge 5:40
8. An Ode to Armageddon 3:04

Band members
Jamie Hughes – vocals
Matthew Pike – guitars
Alistair Blackhall – guitars
Tom Simm – bass
Jordan Stanley-Jones – drums