Album Review – Rise of Avernus / Eigengrau (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Code666

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

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

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Metal Chick of the Month – Fernanda Lira

Join the army, get in the violent mosh!

There’s nothing better than revving up the engines of 2018 with the thunderous sound blasted by one of the meanest and most humble bassists in contemporary Thrash Metal, a woman who not only kicks some serious ass with her roaring bass guitar, but who’s also an accomplished Extreme Metal vocalist, growling and gnarling like a beast anywhere she goes for our total delight. With that said, please welcome as our first metal chick of the year the stunning and electrifying Brazilian musician Fernanda Lira, better known as the lead singer and bassist for Brazilian all-female Thrash Metal power trio Nervosa. And you better be ready, because Fernanda will accelerate your heart and mercilessly rock you like a hurricane with all her passion for heavy music, her devilish screams and, above all, the groovy wallops of her mighty bass.

Fernanda B. Lira was born on September 9, 1989 in São Paulo, one of the world’s most populous cities with over 20 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, having discovered her love for heavy music and for playing bass guitar at the age of 13, being influenced by her father, who was also a bass player (and with whom she remembers “jamming” with his acoustic guitar or “playing drums” on the leather couch as a child while he played) and a huge fan of bands like KISS and Venom, and by her biggest idol since childhood, Iron Maiden’s one and only Steve Harris. Furthermore, she never attended classes to learn how to play bass, always using her instincts and utter dedication to develop her skills as a musician, blending all that with her endless energy and aggressiveness to make her playing style truly unique. And despite deciding she wanted to be in a band when she was around 15 years old, Fernanda undertook several other endeavors before becoming (and even when she was already) the frontwoman for Nervosa, as for example studying journalism at Faculdade Cásper Líbero (the oldest journalism school in Latin America), working as an English teacher, and presenting a show called Heavy Nation on Rádio UOL together with her friend Julio Feriato from 2012 until 2015, among other projects.

Highly inspired by the aforementioned Steve Harris and by other renowned bassists such as Geezer Butler, Steve Di Giorgio, Geddy Lee, Ron Royce and Markus Grosskopf, our badass Fernanda eliminated the use of picks and dedicated herself to playing with her fingers, also trying to take down from the bass the function of only “marking” the rhythm of the music. Moreover, regarding her vocal inspirations, Fernanda has always tried to learn how to sing by imitating her metal idols Tarja Turunen, Michael Kiske and Geoff Tate; however, after she started working with more aggressive vocal-inspired bands, she began to migrate to a different style of singing, leaning towards a similar style used by extreme music singers Tom Araya (the iconic vocalist and bassist for Thrash Metal behemoths Slayer) and Schmier (from Teutonic Thrash Metal legends Destruction).

Before joining Nervosa, Fernanda was part of two other Brazilian metal bands, both hailing from the city of São Paulo, those being the all-female Heavy Metal act Hellgard (who played more melodic material the likes of Helloween and Edguy), from 2008 to 2009, and Thrash/Death Metal group HellArise, from 2009 to 2011, playing bass and doing some backing vocals, as well as playing bass live for a comedy Heavy Metal band known as Detonator e as Musas do Metal (which translates as “Detonator and the Muses of Metal”), in 2012. She recorded two demos in her pre-Nervosa era with those bands, one being a three-track demo with Hellgard titled Rise of a Kingdom, in 2009, and a four-track demo with HellArise named Human Disgrace, in 2010, with the title-track being re-recorded and re-released in 2016 already without Fernanda on bass. Apart from Hellgard, HellArise and obviously Nervosa, Fernanda was a guest musician for two distinct metal bands from Brazil in the past few years, Post-Black/Doom Metal act Fanttasma and Thrash Metal titans Torture Squad, and in both cases she acted as a guest vocalist, leaving her menacing bass guitar “dormant”, for lack of a better word. You can enjoy her potent vocals in the songs Metropolis and Life Is War, from Fanttasma’s 2013 album Another Sleepless Night, as well as in their 2014 single Voodoo, and in Torture Squad’s 2013 release Esquadrão de Tortura (throughout the entire album) and in their cover version for Coroner’s Divine Step, released as a bonus track for their 2017 opus Far Beyond Existence. And last but not least, she’s also featured in the song Carcaça de Outro Alguém, together with a band called Fire Strike, as part of a tribute album to the cult Brazilian Horror Punk band Zumbis do Espaço; in a partnership with Brazilian guitarist and producer Denis Di Lallo in a song called Struggle to Survive; and in countless live performances with distinct bands and musicians, like for example playing Slayer’s all-time classic Black Magic with Brazilian Thrash/Death Metal band Desaster.

It’s finally time to talk a little about her career with Nervosa, one of the most promising bands not only in Brazilian metal but in the entire world of Thrash and Death Metal. After quitting her previous bands, our raven-haired growler was already searching for an all-female thrash act when she met guitarist Prika Amaral, who already had Nervosa as a project and was in pursuit of a bassist and singer to bring the band into being, which ended up happening in 2010. And Nervosa have been on a roll since their inception, releasing their debut EP titled Time of Death, in 2012, followed by the full-length albums Victim of Yourself, in 2014, and more recently the underground masterpiece Agony, one of the top 10 metal albums of 2016 from our list. From all those three flammable releases by Nervosa, you can slam into the circle pit together with Fernanda and the girls to the songs Masked Betrayer, Death, Hostages and Guerra Santa (with a nice explanation of what this song is all about by Fernanda herself). As a matter of fact, in one of her interviews, our ass-kicking bassist explained in more details the concept behind Guerra Santa, which is Portuguese for “holy war”. According to Fernanda, this song “talks about all the intolerance that goes on when the subject is religion. Although this is not like a Black Metal song talking against God, Jesus or any religion because I totally respect people’s beliefs. So, this song is not against religion but against the way religion can be harmful sometimes; I mean, religions should be preaching about love, respect, being kind to the next of kin, doing good stuff but sometimes they preach about intolerance against like sexual orientation, races, other cultures – destroying temples of other religions – so what kind of good they bring?”

When asked about the fast and growing success of a relatively young band like Nervosa, Fernanda mentioned that metal is always renewing itself, and everything that’s new in metal, such as three girls playing furious and aggressive Thrash Metal like Nervosa, ends up catching a lot of attention from metalheads all over the world. In addition, she believes that, as part of the process, in some years that’s going to become more natural with more and more girls getting involved with metal. In my humble opinion, I strongly believe their music is what’s really driving their success in the heavy music scene, especially when Nervosa are performing live, and you can get a very good taste of their crushing thrash live in several videos on YouTube, such as the songs Time of Death at Estúdio Showlivre in 2012 in Brazil; Justice Be Done at Seis Tercios Sesiones in Colombia in 2014; Masked Betrayer, Victim of Yourself and Nasty Injury at Ao Vivo no Casarão in Brazil in 2013; and in distinct full live performances like their 2016 concerts in Bulgaria and Serbia, and in special their demolishing concert at Rock Al Parque in 2017, arguably the largest free rock festival not only in Colombia but in the entire continent. And Fernanda loves that life on the road and being on stage, having already visited a lot of different countries and cities, despite the fact she never has enough time to walk around and get to know more about the place she’s playing that night nor about its culture or people.

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As expected, Fernanda has already been asked numerous times how it feels to be an all-female band and about the growing importance of women in metal music. She said that, at the end of the day, we’re all metalheads nurturing the same passion and admiration for Heavy Metal. She complemented by saying she doesn’t really care about being gendered, because in her opinion being called an all-female Thrash Metal band is just a way to describe a specific genre, like Folk Metal, Black Metal, and so on, given the fact that there aren’t many known bands like Nervosa in the market, and although it was a little difficult in the beginning because they’re playing an extreme style dominated by men in a sexist country like Brazil, people are changing their view of women in metal, supporting them, respecting them and encouraging other women to play heavy music. Moreover, she said there’s still a long way to go regarding this matter because there are many conservative metalheads that do not fully accept girls playing heavy music yet, but that’s something metal as a subversive kind of music can certainly change, with fans of heavy music being in their majority very open-minded, intelligent and cultural people. In addition to that, Fernanda said she has always felt like playing only with girls, as she has always dreamed about that and has always been inspired by girls in metal. All her previous bands were all-female groups, and she knew that it was something new that would help her and her bands stand out in metal.

Another interesting topic discussed by our charming growler in some of her interviews is the usage of the Portuguese language in her lyrics, something you can easily find in other heavy music styles like Punk Rock and Hardcore, with amazing bands like the unparalleled Ratos de Porão applying the Portuguese language to their music almost to perfection, but that’s not very common in Thrash, Death and Black Metal. Although Nervosa have two songs in Brazilian Portuguese, those being Urânio em Nós (from Victim of Yourself) and Guerra Santa (from Agony), she said she has always listened to metal in English despite the fact she was born and lives in Brazil, obviously due to the fact most major metal bands sing in English, and that writing lyrics in English is much more natural and easier for her than in Portuguese. And besides, she believes that the English language helps her spread her opinion and ideas much better than Portuguese to a wider audience worldwide (despite the fact that nowadays it’s quite easy to translate anything in any language), making people think, debate, agree or disagree about the topics and subjects contained in her lyrics.

If there’s one thing you can definitely spend hours watching on YouTube, those are several interviews Fernanda gave in both English and Portuguese to the most diverse channels, shows and websites, and in all of them you’ll be able to notice how fun and honest she is not only as a musician but also as a regular human being. I’ve selected a few of those videos for you, including an interview she gave during Nervosa’s performance at Obscene Extreme festival in the Czech Republic in 2015; her chat with the online show From Hero To Zero in 2016 during Nervosa’s European tour with Destruction, where she talks about how difficult it is to make a living out of metal in Latin America, among other topics; and my favorite (and most distinct) of all, Fernanda, together with João Gordo (the idiosyncratic frontman for Ratos de Porão) and vegan chef Willyan Balbino, preparing a vegan twist to a Brazilian popular food snack named “coxinha”, a savory dough shaped into a drumstick around a creamy chicken salad filling then battered and fried, but in this specific case as Panelaço do João Gordo is a vegan show the coxinha was prepared with jackfruit instead of chicken. They obviously talk about heavy music and other stuff, but the star of the show in the end is the jackfruit coxinha (even for a “meatatarian” like myself, those coxinhas look beyond delicious).

And closing our small tribute to the talented Fernanda, when asked about what her recommendations are for bands that are starting their career in heavy music, she said the best option in the beginning is for the bands to promote their music in their homeland, focusing on what’s around them first before going for bigger markets like the USA and Europe. Nervosa have hundreds of thousands of Facebook and Instagram likes, but most of them come from their fanbase in Brazil and the rest of South America. She strongly believes it’s essential to have a huge support from where you come from, with the only issue in their own case being the fact that it’s really hard to make heavy music in Brazil due to the lack of money, opportunities and support from the media. However, as an obstinate metalhead that she is, she believes in the power and unity of metal fans in Latin America, who are always buying albums, merchandise and attending concerts with more intensity than in other parts of the world, being proud of the scene and proudly carrying the flag of Brazilian metal anywhere she goes with Nervosa. And that, my friends, is how you join professionalism and passion in the best possible way.

Fernanda Lira’s Official Facebook page
Fernanda Lira’s Official Facebook fan page
Fernanda Lira’s Official Instagram
Nervosa’s Official Website
Nervosa’s Official Facebook page
Nervosa’s Official Twitter
Nervosa’s Official YouTube channel
Nervosa’s Official Instagram

“All of my best stories and memories are because of metal. I was born and raised in metal. So, all my boyfriends, all my friends, and experiences are related to metal. That’s why I’m so intense on the stage, I feel like I’m living the dream.” – Fernanda Lira

Album Review – Aske / Broken Vow EP (2017)

A short, dark and acid sample of the new phase by an up-and-coming Brazilian Extreme Metal duo, pointing to a bright future ahead of them.

Forged by bassist Filipe Salvini and guitarist Lucas Duarte in 2009 in the city of São Carlos, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and being deeply rooted in classic extreme music styles, Brazilian Black/Death Metal act Aske has been making a name for themselves since their inception due to the high quality and originality of their music, playing in several local festivals and being invited to record the opening song for a Brazilian music program named Arte Extrema (with the single “Alcoholic Audition”). Now in 2017 Aske kick off a new phase in their career with a very cohesive and obscure EP named Broken Vow, pointing to a bright future ahead for the duo.

After releasing their debut demo in 2009 named A Dawn to Ruin, followed by another demo titled Scars from the Whip in 2014 and their first full-length album Once…, releases in 2015, Aske return with a different sonority due to a considerable lineup change, but still extremely loyal to their foundations in Broken Vow. The artwork in their new EP was conceived by photographer and designer Ayla de Lilith and bassist (and now also vocalist) Filipe Salvini himself, who commented that “our band has been through a short period of adaptation in the past few months, and we thought a new release with a few original songs would be a nice way to keep ourselves honest in our production process and ideal for us to get ready for a bigger future”. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Eugenio Stefane at 1979 Estúdio, Broken Vow brings to us metallers three brand new songs by Aske, a cover song for an underground classic by American group Pentagram, and a remastered version to one of their previous songs, released in 2016, as a bonus track, and as unique as all tracks in the EP might sound they all make sense when put together as you’ll be able to see.

The groovy and piercing guitars by Lucas ignite the dark and melodic tune Meadows in Shade, a solid display of underground Death and Black Metal where Filipe showcases his vocal abilities as the band’s new growler, delivering anger and obscurity with his raspy gnarls, whereas the blast beats and cutting riffs in the kick-ass Death Metal onslaught Menschwerdung (German for “incarnation”) will penetrate deep inside your mind, sounding truly bestial and aggressive from start to finish. Furthermore, Filipe increases the savagery flowing from his growling while at the same time punching us in the head with his bass lines. Then in Broken Vows we’re treated to a more metallic and modern version to one of Pentagram’s cult songs(check the original version HERE), where both Filipe and Lucas are precise with their strings, and with Filipe also powerfully darkening the original vocal lines by the iconic Bobby Liebling.

Mardi Gras, the first single released in this new phase of the band, is another heavy-as-hell blast of Death Metal with some more Stygian elements from Black Metal, with highlights to the pounding riffs by Lucas. And, as aforementioned, as a bonus we have the audio of the official video for the song Übermensch (German for “superman”), originally released in their 2016 album Once… with previous lead singer Paulo Roberto still on vocals (as well as Luciano Galhardo on guitars and Renato Lourenço on drums). As a matter of fact, although their past formation feels more blackened than their current sonority, in my humble opinion both “versions” of Aske sound amazing.

What are you waiting for to know more about Aske? Go check what this Brazilian duo is up to on Facebook, listen to their music on YouTube, and buy your copy of Broken Vow (which can be enjoyed in full on Spotify) at the band’s own BandCamp page (and soon at the Sangue Frio Records’ webstore). After such strong EP, let’s wait and see what Filipe and Lucas will have for us next, and by that I mean we can surely expect a high-quality full-length album of extreme music hailing from Brazil, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Menschwerdung.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Sangue Frio Records

Track listing
1. Meadows in Shade 3:58
2. Menschwerdung 3:45
3. Broken Vows (Pentagram cover) 4:30
4. Mardi Gras 3:06
5. Übermensch (Video Version) 2:53

Band members
Filipe Salvini – vocals, bass
Lucas Duarte – guitars

Album Review – Antipope / Denial/Survival (2017)

Bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s, this Finnish act returns from a four-year hiatus to offer us all their music in its most uncompromising form.

As a nice Christmas gift to all readers of The Headbanging Moose, I have for you today Denial/Survival, the fourth full-length album by Finnish Progressive Black Metal trinity Antipope, whose music is according to the band itself a free expression of whatever styles, themes or moods might be needed to relate the particular message to the listener. Although the band is considered by many as Black Metal, the name Antipope stands for liberation from any and all dogmas and renouncement of intellectual and ideological authorities, being the soundtrack for self-discovery, death and rebirth.

Formed in 2004 in the city of Oulu, the band comprised of founder Mikko Myllykangas on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar and programming, Antti J. Karjalainen on guitars and Tuska E. on drums returns from a four-year hiatus with Denial/Survival, presenting their characteristic style of bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s. Combining elements of Extreme Metal, Melodic Death Metal and even a bit of Flamenco, and featuring an imposing artwork by Finnish artist Tiina Kaakkuriniemi, Denial/Survival will offer you the music of Antipope in its most uncompromising form, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time while listening to such diverse album of extreme music.

In the opening track, titled Waters Below, we already face the multi-layered music by the trio, with an instrumental beginning that goes on for about two minutes before devastation arrives through the hellish growls by Mikko in a rhythmic and epic display of modern Black Metal; followed by Flat Circle, which presents hints of Atmospheric Black Metal infused in their more straightforward Scandinavian Extreme Metal. Moreover, Tuska does a solid job going from a more progressive style to visceral blast beats that live up to the legacy of Black Metal. And in the title-track Denial/Survival the band speeds up their pace and distills their venom through their austere words (“I woke up in the land of denial / It’s true the guilt is all you care for / Seeing you and the rest of your kind / Wallowing in self-pity and mutual rape”) in a true headbanging hymn perfect for cracking your spinal cord, which obviously translates into one of the top moments of the album.

The ominous, darkened instrumental bridge Der Sadist sets the tone for the even more obscure Black Metal chant Hunt, with the mid-tempo beats by Tuska being effectively blended with the crisp guitar lines by Antti, sounding more introspective and melancholic than the rest of the album. Then get ready to be smashed by the futuristic and melodic (but still very raw) onrush of extreme music named True Anarchist, sounding at times like Marilyn Manson, with Antti once again firing his captivating riffs, before the atmospheric and ominous creation Mindlessness Meditation brings forward cavernous bass lines by Mikko, who darkly declaims the song’s cryptic lyrics.

An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness, a slow-paced chant that could actually be used to summon an evil entity, presents words that sound and fell infernal (“This is how it begins, the last phase / A thousand step descent into the unknown / The words extend the rays of light / From the shadows a new mind”), whereas in Tragic Vision we can feel their music growing in intensity as time passes by, with Mikko and Antti making a great guitar duo by blasting some wicked riffs. Furthermore, the whole song has a touch of epicness that makes it very exciting to listen to, not to mention Tuska’s galloping beats in perfect sync with his bandmates’ stringed weapons. And as the closing song of the album Antipope deliver what is also the longest of all tunes, entitled Resolution, which could easily be used in the soundtrack for a slasher flick or a Tarantino-style movie, helping the album stand out among other extreme bands for its versatility and innovative approach.

I’m certain that, after listening to Denial/Survival, you’ll be more than curious to know more about Antipope and their distinct career, and in order to do that simply go check what Mikko & Co. are up to on Facebook, watch to their classy videos on YouTube and listen to their music on Spotify, and purchase the album through their BandCamp page or on iTunes. There’s nothing better than celebrating Christmas with some nice extreme music made in Finland, a country where Santa Claus is supposed to live (in the cold and charming Lapland, the largest and northernmost region of the country), so don’t waste your time and go show your support to this very interesting underground act. Well, if you don’t do so, I guess Santa will have to cross “somebody’s” name from his list next year.

Best moments of the album: Denial/Survival, Hunt and Tragic Vision.

Worst moments of the album: Flat Circle.

Released in 2017 Antipope/TCM Entertainment

Track listing
1. Waters Below 5:25
2. Flat Circle 5:40
3. Denial/Survival 5:06
4. Der Sadist 3:22
5. Hunt 7:08
6. True Anarchist 4:23
7. Mindlessness Meditation 4:34
8. An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness 5:29
9. Tragic Vision 4:25
10. Resolution 7:13

Band members
Mikko Myllykangas – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, programming
Antti J. Karjalainen – guitars
Tuska E. – drums

Album Review – Cannibal Corpse / Red Before Black (2017)

Always loyal to their foundations and sounding rawer and more aggressive than ever, here comes the most hardworking act in Death Metal with another first-class onslaught of sheer brutality.

If there’s a band in extreme music that not only remains loyal to their foundations, but that also keeps delivering excellence with each and every album release, that band are American death metallers Cannibal Corpse. This Buffalo-based Death Metal institution never disappoints, always providing us fans everything we crave in extreme music, playing their music almost to perfection while maintaining a high level of rawness and aggressiveness in their sonority at all times, which is exactly the case in Red Before Black, the fourteenth studio album in their vile, ruthless and gory career. Having said that, do you have what it takes to face another brutal installment by the Corpse?

Released three years after the good A Skeletal Domain and featuring a slashing artwork by American comic book artist Vince Locke, Red Before Black not only proves why Cannibal Corpse are still alive and kicking after almost 40 years on the road, fighting against all odds and always going against anything that can be considered mainstream, but it also shows that there’s no sign of the band slowing down or venturing through less violent fields. Quite the contrary, it seems that the Corpse is thirstier for guts, entrails and blood than ever.  “We always try to make our music aggressive, but where an album like ‘A Skeletal Domain’ was definitely aggressive, it has a targeted refinement that the new album doesn’t. ‘Red Before Black’ is as well executed as anything we’ve done, but it has a rawness to it that we haven’t had in a long time,” asserted bassist Alex Webster.

Raw and putrid sounds impregnate our ears from the very first second in Only One Will Die, with the guitars by Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett sounding pulverizing while George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher barks manically as usual, showing why he’s one of the most respected and consistent growlers still in action. Furthermore, its lyrics reek of traditional Cannibal Corpse (“Both of us will throttle / Strangling with rage / Both consumed by madness, revenge has us enslaved / Both are badly wounded / And struggle to survive / Both are fighting to the death but only one will die”). Brutality keeps flowing from all instruments in the fantastic title-track Red Before Black, where the competent old school drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz maintains the pace at a frantic level while Corpsegrinder vociferates the song’s lancinating name ferociously. And those guys never get tired of blasting sheer Death Metal to our metallic ears, delivering violence and bloodshed from start to finish in this ominous circle pit-generator Code of the Slashers, with their always demonic guitar solos enhancing the song’s electricity to the limit; whereas Shedding My Human Skin is mid-tempo slashing tune where guitars penetrate deep inside our mind while Alex and Paul keep punching us in the head ruthlessly. The song loses its taste a bit after a while, though, but it’s still a decent creation by our beloved Corpse.

Get ready to be massacred by Corpsegrinder and his henchmen in Remaimed (let’s see if you can survive this hurricane of Death Metal), with all instruments played with extreme violence, in special the bass by Alex who once again proves why he’s in my humble opinion the best Extreme Metal bassist of all time; followed by Firestorm Vengeance, a heavy-as-hell metal tempest ignited by putrid, raw riffs that grow in intensity until all hell breaks loose, led by the unstoppable Paul on drums. Put differently, if you’re getting to know Cannibal Corpse at this point in your life, this is a very good sample of their more contemporary sound. Heads Shoveled Off is perfect for banging your head like Corpsegrinder himself, while Paul keeps demolishing his drums and the guitar duo Pat and Rob shows no mercy by cutting our ears with their sharp-edged strings, not to mention the song’s slashing words (“Back in Nam he killed a man / A shovel was used to cut his head off / Now forever changed lust to decapitate / Chop at the neck to keep the skull intact / Going insane / Come back deranged”), and displaying hints of progressiveness but still maintaining the band’s crude sonority, Corpus Delicti is another great job done by Rob and Pat with their axes, delivering amazing riffs and solos nonstop.

Red Before Black Collectors Bundle

In Scavenger Consuming Death we have the pleasure to witness Mr. Webster doing what he does best, shaking the foundations of the earth with his devilish bass lines, also presenting a fantastic chorus to follow along with Corpsegrinder, as well as visceral guitar solos and a thrilling pace. In other words, it can’t get any more Cannibal Corpse than this. The crude, primeval sonority found in In the Midst of Ruin, a beyond perfect tune for some carnage inside the circle pit, takes us back to the band’s early days, with Alex Webster firing bestial, rumbling tunes from his bass; while Destroyed Without a Trace, the second to last tune in Red Before Black, is filled with the band’s trademark harmony and aggressiveness (and a Corpsegrinder sounding more enraged than you can imagine), with all breaks and changes from slower, heavier moments to sheer devastation making it a great choice for their live concerts. Lastly, closing this crushing record we have more of the band’s old school Death Metal in Hideous Ichor, which despite being slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality, it’s still very enjoyable if you’re a longtime fan of the band.

Metal Blade Records kind of surprised us all by uploading the full album on their YouTube channel, but of course in case you’re also a “Corpse addict” like myself you’re certainly going to buy your favorite version of the album at their webstore, like the Red Before Black Collectors Bundle, including among a ton of pretty cool stuff a bonus CD named “Blood Covered”, featuring Cannibal Corpse turning some metal classic by Accept, Metallica, Kreator, Possessed and other bands into their own infernal sound. Red Before Black exhales pure Cannibal Corpse, and it will surely maintain this fantastic Death Metal horde relevant in the minds of old school metal fans, it will show newcomers to the world of heavy music how Death Metal should always be played, and last but not least, it will keep haunting the souls of those who are not brave enough to face the most hardworking band in the history of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Only One Will Die, Red Before Black, Heads Shoveled Off and Scavenger Consuming Death.

Worst moments of the album: Shedding My Human Skin and Hideous Ichor.

Released in 2017 Metal Blade Records

Track listing 
1. Only One Will Die 3:24
2. Red Before Black 3:12
3. Code of the Slashers 4:45
4. Shedding My Human Skin 3:28
5. Remaimed 4:13
6. Firestorm Vengeance 3:43
7. Heads Shoveled Off 3:37
8. Corpus Delicti 3:29
9. Scavenger Consuming Death 4:33
10. In the Midst of Ruin 3:25
11. Destroyed Without a Trace 4:01
12. Hideous Ichor 4:33

Limited edition bonus disc “Blood Covered”
13. Sacrifice (Sacrifice cover) 3:04
14. Confessions (Possessed cover) 2:58
15. No Remorse (Metallica cover) 6:16
16. Demon’s Night (Accept cover) 4:17
17. Bethany Home (A Place to Die) (The Accused cover) 3:20
18. Endless Pain (Kreator cover) 3:11
19. Behind Bars (Razor cover) 2:20

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Pat O’Brien – guitar
Rob Barrett – guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

Guest musician
Erik Rutan – backing vocals on “Only One Will Die”, lead guitar on “In the Midst of Ruin”

Album Review – Dzö-nga / The Sachem’s Tales (2017)

A demonic entity hailing from the United States gives life to the Algonquin folklore in a brand new concept album of vibrant and classy Atmospheric Black Metal.

In case you’re searching for the next name in Atmospheric and Epic Black Metal, you must take a listen at The Sachem’s Tales, the brand new concept album by an American Black Metal project that goes by the name of Dzö-nga (pronounced “zone-gah”), formed in 2016 in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, United States by multi-instrumentalist Cryvas. By the way, did you know Dzö-nga is the name of a cryptid or demon that is said to haunt the mountain Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world lying partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim, India? Drawing inspiration from world mythologies, Dzö-nga is definitely the perfect name to represent the music by this heavy and eccentric monster of underground extreme music.

The Sachem’s Tales, Dzö-nga’s second full-length album and a concept album about the Algonquin folklore from creation mythos (“Against the Northern Wind”) to apocalyptic prophesies (“A Seventh Age of Fire”), is the project’s first release to feature Grushenka Ødegård on vocals, with Cryvas and Grushenka being joined by guest musicians Aaron Maloney (This or the Apocalypse) as their session drummer and Lilith Astaroth (Sorrowseed) lending an ethereal voice to “Halle Ravine”. Featuring a classy cover art titled “The Wendigo”, designed by British illustrator Frank Victoria, The Sachem’s Tales will certainly please all fans of the more atmospheric side of extreme music fused with folk elements, especially the ones who love the sound by bands like Agalloch, Falls of Rauros, Moonsorrow and Coldworld, among others.

Midewiwin Lodge, a serene instrumental intro led by the acoustic guitars by Cryvas and spiced up by elements from Mother Nature, sets up the ambience for the melancholic and gripping To the Great Salt Water, with the contrast between the piano and the blast beats perfectly supporting the gentle voice of Grushenka and the growls by Cryvas, enhancing the impact of its fairy tale-inspired lyrics (“What shall I tell our children? / Tell them our story / Tell them who they are / Far beyond the mountains / Where wild-men roam / Over the raging river’s foam / Follow the Whiteshell west”). Put differently, this is a beautiful rollercoaster of emotions crafted by Dzö-nga, going from deeply enraged moments to slower passages of pure tenderness. Then in The Wolves Fell Quiet what starts in a calm mode with the suave notes of the piano embracing our souls suddenly explodes into magnificent Atmospheric Black Metal, with Cryvas growling and gnarling like a hellish entity. Furthermore, multi-layered waves of blackened sounds mixed with ambient music turn listening to this tune into a distinct and dense journey through darkness.

In the acoustic ballad Halle Ravine, it’s time for Lilith Astaroth to give life to the song’s poetic lyrics, bringing hope and melancholy at the same time to our hearts, with the song’s smoother sonority also showcasing how versatile Cryvas is as a musician; followed by Against the Northern Wind, where blast beats ignite a flammable fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with Folk and Dark Metal, once again presenting paradoxical elements that create a unique experience to the listener. Moreover, Cryvas’ demonic roars and Grushenka’s angelical voice complement each other in a superb way, making it impossible not to feel touched by all sounds blasted by the band, all reaching deep inside our hearts and souls. A Seventh Age of Fire brings forward almost 10 minutes of top-tier extreme music by Cryvas and his crew, where Aaron not only proves he’s a rabid beast behind his drums, but he also displays an extremely refined technique, therefore adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. And effectively complementing this stylish aria, Cryvas offers us all some epic church-inspired pipes, with all instruments converging to a climatic acoustic ending with the song’s lyrics yet again coming from a dark and thrilling fairy tale (“Be brave and you will be protected / Be wise and you will be rewarded / (Hear in our silence that we are at peace / Our mantle passed to you) / Light again the ancient flame / Lead our people back home”). And before all is said and done, we’re treated to the instrumental outro The Witching Meadow, a song that contains several elements found in Folk Metal, with its kick-ass piano notes generating a comforting atmosphere to end this fantastic album in great fashion.

You can enjoy this fairy tale of Extreme Metal in full on YouTube, follow Dzö-nga on Facebook, listen to their other creations on SoundCloud, and obviously purchase The Sachem’s Tales at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Avantgard Music’s BandCamp, on Amazon or at Discogs. Having said that, let’s hope that this gargantuan, hazy creature named Dzö-nga keeps haunting not only mountain Kangchenjunga, but everywhere else in the world where high-quality metal music is appreciated for many years yet to come.

Best moments of the album: To the Great Salt Water and Against the Northern Wind.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Midewiwin Lodge (Instrumental) 2:35
2. To the Great Salt Water 8:49
3. The Wolves Fell Quiet 7:23
4. Halle Ravine (feat. Lilith Astaroth) 4:04
5. Against the Northern Wind 7:16
6. A Seventh Age of Fire 9:23
7. The Witching Meadow (Instrumental) 3:26

Band members
Cryvas – vocals, all instruments
Grushenka Ødegård – vocals

Guest musicians
Aaron Maloney – drums (session)
Lilith Astaroth – vocals on “Halle Ravine”

Album Review – Al-Namrood / Enkar (2017)

Unafraid of exercising their freedom of speech in their homeland, three dauntless Saudi black metallers keep fighting against tyranny, oppression and authoritarianism with their brand new, distinct and acid album.

Forged in 2008 in the fires of Dammam, the capital city of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and the sixth largest city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and Taif, Black/Folk Metal trinity Al-Namrood is another one of those cases where no matter how talented and bright the band members are, the religious and political leaders of their homeland will do whatever it takes to end their career (not to say something even harsher than that), restricting their reach and forcing them to remain anonymous to stay alive (as you can read in an excellent and very detailed article titled “Witch Hunts, Resurgence and Defiance: Heavy Metal In The Middle East”, published by an online publication named The Quietus). However, the only Black Metal band in Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem to be scared to exercise their freedom of speech with their brand new album Enkar, where once again Al-Namrood translates into first-class metal music their austere position against their own country’s authoritarian regime.

Al-Namrood (or (النمرود‎ in Arabic) means “Nimrod” (which translates to “the non believer”), a Babylonian king who ruled the world maliciously and stated “I am the God of all creation”, and the group chose the name as their form of defiance against religion. After the successful release of their 2010 album Estorat Taghoot, the band decided to shift their focus away from the ancient Babylon land to a hub with deeper Arabian aspect, pronouncing the utter darkness of the Arabian Peninsula and therefore playing what can be called “Arabian Occult Metal”. If you love Black Metal in the vein of bands like Marduk, Darkthrone and Bathory mixed with the most obscure and anti-religious aspects of the music by Candlemass, Black Sabbath and Kreator, all embraced by the unique tones and sounds from the Middle-Eastern culture, then you must take a listen at Enkar as soon as possible, as this album might change considerably your view of underground Extreme Metal.

And those sounds from the Middle-East are joined by metallic lines to form a unique musicality led by the enraged and sick vocals by Humbaba in the opening track, titled Nabth, a feast of eccentricity and sheer madness, with the guitars by Mephisto sounding truly mesmerizing. In addition, the song’s official video, with its images of protests, riots and police brutality from across the Middle-East, match perfectly with the music played by Al-Namrood. Enhancing the lunacy flowing from the guitars, the band offers us Halak, a great display of Orient Metal tailored for banging our heads and prancing together with the band, with highlights to the electrified beats by Ostron; followed by Xenophobia, another acid creation by Al-Namrood that deals with an extremely controversial topic, with Humbaba firing some truly demented vociferations from start to finish to make the final result even more impactful.

Estibdad brings forward a kick-ass hybrid of Folk and Orient Metal where all band members are on fire, in special Mephisto with his slashing riffs, not to mention you can feel the anger and rage flowing from Humbaba’s desperate growls. Efsad keeps the momentum going with its rhythmic drumming and Middle-Eastern-inspired riffs and bass lines effectively delivered by Mephisto, whereas Estinzaf, perhaps the most Heavy Metal (or I should say Black Metal) of all songs, presents more traditional guitar lines and drums, but of course still bringing the band’s own regional twist. Moreover, Humbaba sounds like a Saudi version of the iconic Mike Patton (Faith No More) during the whole song due to the level of lunacy and the weird noises he produces with his voice, which in the end is a very positive complement to the overall result. And in Ensaf we face a darker sonority that grows in intensity as time goes by, with even the vocal lines by Humbaba sounding more obscure and sharper than before, culminating in a mesmerizing pace with hints of progressiveness and Folk Metal elements to boost its taste.

In Egwaa we’re treated to what’s probably their most primeval mode, a hypnotizing and stylish break from all madness from the rest of the album deeply rooted in their own homeland’s traditions and sounds, with their smooth but at the same time extremely potent percussion stealing the spotlight. Then when it looks like that gentle break will still go on for a while, the band returns with an imposing, epic tune titled Ezdraa, transporting the listener to the darkest side of Saudi Arabia, with Ostron kicking some serious ass with his intricate drumming, before Entiqam, a nice ending to such distinct album, showcases a more-demented-than-ever Humbaba, leading the band’s ominous and classy musicality while the song’s Middle-Eastern elements sound heavier, crisper and more piercing than in all previous tracks.

You can enjoy all the madness, violence and hatred from Enkar by listening to the full album on Spotify, and of course purchase this Saudi gem at the Shaytan Productions’ BandCamp, on iTunes, on Amazon, on CD Baby or at Discogs. Al-Namrood, who can be found on Facebook despite the fact the band members have to remain anonymous, not only continue to pave a fantastic path in underground heavy music with this idiosyncratic album, spreading their music all over the world and always moving forward against all odds, but they also serve as some sort of inspiration for other musicians in Saudi Arabia and from any other countries with very strict laws to keep pursuing their dreams and to keep fighting against tyranny, oppression and authoritarianism, all in the name of freedom and metal.

Best moments of the album: Nabth, Estibdad and Ensaf.

Worst moments of the album: Estinzaf.

Released in 2017 Shaytan Productions

Track listing
1. Nabth 3:55
2. Halak 3:17
3. Xenophobia 4:24
4. Estibdad 3:23
5. Efsad 3:03
6. Estinzaf 3:17
7. Ensaf 4:28
8. Egwaa 4:02
9. Ezdraa 4:24
10. Entiqam 5:18

Band members
Humbaba – vocals
Mephisto – guitars, bass, percussion
Ostron – keyboards, percussion

Album Review – Biesy / Noc Lekkich Obyczajów (2017)

Enjoy this concept album about how urban life can separate us from reality and how at the same time it gives us freedom to cross its boundaries, all enfolded by first-class blackened music made in Poland.

“Biesy were born out of everyday working, urban and monotonous realities. The project explores how urban concrete life can separate you from reality, but at the same time enables you to cross its borders. This is not the place for faith – there is no time nor will. During the night people go astray and willingly drown among the masses on the streets. In the morning they fall down to create a passage for everything that is wonderfully common and hideously sincere. However, it is not certain if they even left the room.”

Those poetic words work as a classy introduction to the core essence of Black/Death Metal act Biesy, a brand new project formed in 2014 in Cracow, Poland by lead singer Stawrogin, guitarist, bassist, songwriter and lyricist PR, and drummer Maciej Pelczar. Biesy translates to “fiends” or “demons” from Polish, and from that you can imagine how dark their music should sound in their debut full-length release Noc Lekkich Obyczajów, or “night of weak morals” in English, a concept album about how urban life can separate us from reality and how at the same time it gives us freedom to cross its boundaries, as mentioned above, all enfolded by an ominous and depressive form of extreme music not recommended for the lighthearted. Add to that the concrete gray layout designed by PR himself together with Mentalporn, the menacing logo created by Ihasan, and the fact that all songs are entirely sung (or maybe I should say growled or gnarled) in Polish, and there you have a distinct, full-bodied Extreme Metal ode to everything we love and hate in our concrete jungles.

In the opening track, titled Każdego Dnia (which should translate as “every day”), ominous sounds grow in intensity until the music morphs into the most vile form of Blackened Doom you can think of, with Stawrogin sounding truly demonic on vocals while PR does an amazing job with his mesmerizing guitar lines, resulting in a cold and beautiful display of extreme music that darkly flows into a climatic ending. In W Krew (which should mean something like “in blood”), the power trio switches to a more demolishing mode, blasting a Stygian fusion of Black and Death Metal led by Maciej, who showcases all his skills by delivering both rhythmic and sluggish punches as well as infernal blast beats. In the end, it becomes impossible not to have your heart darkened by this superb hymn. And it seems like peace and happiness are definitely two items you won’t find in the music by Biesy, which is exactly the case in Powroty (or “returns” in English), even more doomed than the two previous songs and with the vociferations by Stawrogin being extremely menacing. Put differently, it’s unhappy, melancholic and visceral Blackened Doom tailored for headbanging until you crack your neck in half.

The second batch of somber sounds by Biesy begins with Czerń Nas Prosi (or “blackness calls us”), the shortest of all tracks, feeling like a satanic invocation with Maciej firing some traditional Doom Metal beats while PR sounds hellish on both guitar and bass, not to mention Stawrogin’s evil gnarls; followed by Rzucony W Przestrzeń (which translates as “thrown into space”), the longest and most obscure of all songs, starting with a deep, enraged roar by Stawrogin. Not only this is a lesson in Extreme Metal where PR is insanely dark on guitars, but its heaviness keeps growing and growing until after around four minutes there’s a creepy intermission that goes on for another four minutes until the trio returns with all their fury and malignancy, with the vocal parts getting more deranged and evil, ending in the most obscure way possible. And if you think you’re safe from Biesy after all that darkness, you’re absolutely wrong, as they have one final onslaught of Black, Death and Doom Metal to disturb your mind and soul, the title-track Noc Lekkich Obyczajów, where Maciej takes his already devilish drumming to a whole new level of dementia accompanied by the lancinating riffs by PR. This fantastic album of extreme music couldn’t have ended in a better way than this, I must say.

In summary, it doesn’t matter if you speak fluent Polish or if you don’t know a single word in this distinct language, Noc Lekkich Obyczajów (which is available for a full stream on YouTube) is definitely worth a shot. What Biesy did in the entire album, uniting the aggressive and damned sounds of Death, Black and Doom Metal with the disorders and unpredictability of life in the city in a sharp and bold manner, deserves our total recognition and respect. You can buy your copy of Noc Lekkich Obyczajów on BandCamp, at the Third Eye Temple webshop or at Discogs, and after finally having the album on your hands, you can add the perfect soundtrack to spend your deranged nights in the city.

Best moments of the album: W Krew and Noc Lekkich Obyczajów.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Third Eye Temple

Track listing
1. Każdego Dnia 5:08
2. W Krew 6:38
3. Powroty 7:06
4. Czerń Nas Prosi 3:51
5. Rzucony W Przestrzeń 11:29
6. Noc Lekkich Obyczajów 7:59

Band members
Stawrogin – vocals
PR – guitars, bass
Maciej Pelczar – drums

Album Review – Eshtadur / Mother Gray (2017)

Overflowing rage, despair and electricity, the brand new album by this implacable Colombian act will certainly help the band cement their name in the Extreme Metal underground scene worldwide.

Formed in the fall of 2005 in Pereira, the capital city of the Colombian department of Risaralda, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Eshtadur has been on a roll since their inception, making a name for themselves in all four corners of the world with their unrelenting fusion of extreme sounds in the vein of bands such as At The Gates, Behemoth, Soilwork, Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh, always adding imposing and symphonic elements to their music to make it even more impactful to our ears. For instance, the band has already toured Colombia, Peru and Mexico, they headlined a stage at Rock Al Parque (which is not only the largest rock festival in Colombia and one of the most important in Latin America, but also arguably the largest free rock festival in the continent) in 2016, and they’re getting ready for their first ever US dates and many other festival appearances in the coming months.

Having already released the full-length albums Dominated by Dummies, in 2011, and Stay Away from Evil and Get Close to Me, in 2013, as well as their debut demo Rebellion of Angels, in 2007, and the EP Oblivion, in 2015, the band comprised of Jorg August on vocals and guitars, Alejo Bet on guitars, Victor Valencia on bass and Mauro Marin on drums is effectively expanding their exposure to the metal scene worldwide with their third full-length installment, the excellent Mother Gray, featuring a classy artwork designed by French artist Sylvain (Razorimages), guest guitar solos by Christofer Malmström (Darkane), and an endless amount of electricity and rage flowing from all their instruments, all led by the desperate growls by Jorg.

The heavy and dark guitars by Jorg and Alejo ignite the aggressive opening track Belong To Nowhere, a high-end fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Death and Melodic Death Metal where Mauro sounds possessed with his demonic blast beats while Jorg screams in a rabid and desperate manner throughout the entire song. Building an instant connection with the previous tune, Plaguemaker keeps the menacing aura crafted by the band even stronger, displaying a good balance of guitar lines, growls and potent drumming, while the keyboards in the background give it a Dimmu Borgir-inspired vibe; followed by the Melodic/Symphonic Metal aria Cornered At The Earth, where the band engages in their most sinister mode by deepening their growling and strengthening their beats, culminating in a violent and gripping rhythm boosted by its dark lyrics (“Gray the future and gray the earth / Dust in the soil, foil the religion / And the permanent conclusion of being the one who brings pest /Back to the world”). Whereas the Doom Metal-inspired Desolation brings forward a melancholic intro that slowly grows into an imposing sonority, as heavy and dense as it can be, with some faster moments to keep it fresh and vibrant. Moreover, the desperation flowing from the vocals is outstanding, going on and on until the song’s visceral ending to the sound of deep and putrid roars.

Getting back to a faster and more melodic sounding but still presenting the band’s characteristic symphonic elements, also showcasing fiery guitar riffs and solos as well as total havoc blasted by Mauro’s insane beats, the powerful Time Hole To Paris will certainly generate some sick mosh pits during their live concerts, while in March Of The Fallen we face an epic and somewhat funereal beginning to yet another ominous creation by Eshtadur, an eccentric “waltz” of Dark Metal with its keyboards and vocals taking the obscurity to a whole new level, again presenting more of those putrid gnarls before all is said and done. And as their “formula” seems to be one Stygian song followed by a sonic demolition, it’s time to speed things up again with the high-octane chant The Day After I Die, presenting slashing guitars blended with epic keys and rabid growls, without a single second of peace during its five minutes of sheer devastation.

As the first bonus track added by Eshtadur to Mother Gray, we have another symphonic extravaganza that will attack our senses named Heavens to The Ground (originally released in their 2015 EP Oblivion), with the guitars by Jorg and Alejo and the drumming by Mauro being in absolute sync, while the song’s keys make sure the atmosphere remains eerie for the otherworldly vociferations by Jorg.  The second bonus offered by the band is entitled Last Day Of The Condors, also from their EP Oblivion, sounding slightly similar to its predecessor (in special its guitar and vocal lines), not as tasty but still very enjoyable. And lastly we have a very cohesive, potent and fresh version they recorded in 2014 for Survivor’s hit Burning Heart (check out the original version HERE) featuring guest musicians Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork) and Christopher Clancy (Mutiny Within) on vocals, and Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) and Allan Marcus (Arecibo) on lead guitars. Survivor might be better known by the usual rocker for the all-time Rocky Balboa-classic “Eye of the Tiger”, but this song also represents all the passion Survivor had for rock music, not to mention this cover version is Eshtadur’s own tribute to Survivor’s longtime frontman Jimi Jamison (R.I.P.), who died of a heart attack in September 2014.

If you enjoyed all the fury blasted by Eshtadur in Mother Gray, I highly recommend you go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for more of their kick-ass music, and if you want to purchase Mother Gray (which you can listen in its entirety on Spotify), you can grab your copy of the album at the Bleeding Music Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes, on Amazon, or at several other locations such as Barnes & Noble and ImportCDs. As mentioned in the beginning of this review, Mother Gray overflows rage, despair and energy, and as you’re more than aware of, those are some of the main elements which make us love Heavy Metal so much. In other words, Eshtadur nailed it with Mother Gray, surely making all metalheads in Colombia proud of their music.

Best moments of the album: Belong To Nowhere, Cornered At The Earth and Time Hole To Paris.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Music Records

Track listing
1. Belong To Nowhere 3:27
2. Plaguemaker 4:28
3. Cornered At The Earth 5:01
4. Desolation 6:50
5. Time Hole To Paris 5:21
6. March Of The Fallen 7:32
7. The Day After I Die 5:06

Oblivion/Burning Heart bonus tracks
8. Heavens to The Ground 3:26
9. Last Day Of The Condors 3:15
10. Burning Heart (Survivor cover) 4:33

Band members
Jorg August – vocals, guitars
Alejo Bet – guitars
Victor Valencia – bass
Mauro Marin – drums

Guest musician
Christofer Malmström – guitar solos

Album Review – Aversio Humanitatis / Longing for the Untold EP (2017)

Expanding upon their Black Metal roots by embracing the ferocity of the most mutated and cursed Death Metal, this Spanish horde brings forth a violent and ferocious one-way journey into darkness with their brand new release.

“Time is an ever open wound, that never hurts the same twice.”

Since their inception in 2010 in the city of Madrid by a core and unchanged trio of mysterious locals, Spanish Black/Death Metal horde Aversio Humanitatis (Latin for “the loathing humanity”) has been slowly morphing into a beast of implausible proportions and of ungraspable intents, as they began to expand upon their Black Metal roots by embracing the ferocity of the most mutated and cursed Death Metal. This transcendental and abhorrent metamorphosis into otherworldly sonic tyrant fully sublimated in their 2017 EP Longing for the Untold, in which Aversio Humanitatis went from being a purely methodical and vaguely technical Black Metal band in the vein of Emperor, Satyricon and Abigor, to becoming something completely undefinable, shaped by the ever so apparent lineaments of an unquenchable black hole, a beast capable of harnessing the power of collapsing stars and of the very depths of Hades.

Originally released on CD in Spain only in early 2017, Longing for the Untold is by far the boldest and most Stygian opus by this idiosyncratic Spanish entity, surpassing their 2011 debut full-length album Abandonment Ritual in terms of heaviness, obscurity, chaos and aggressiveness. Now re-packaged with three bonus tracks from their 2013 split Three Ways of Consciousness (with Venezuelan/Chilean Black Metal act Selbst and Spanish Black Metal act Nihil) and with a new incredible artwork, Longing for the Untold brings forward a colossal behemoth of technically intimidating and sonically imposing Progressive Black Metal that lunges forth toward the listener with crushing force, levitating out of solid darkness. More than just an album, Longing for the Untold represents a place and time where the power of sound literally devours the senses, turning perception into a smoldering and swarming void of sensorial awe and of transcendental sonic disintegration.

The sensational title-track Longing for the Untold presents the fury of old school Black Metal mixed with atmospheric and menacing sounds, with vocalist and bassist A.M.’s dark guttural growls being spot-on, therefore enhancing the song’s obscurity and its wicked lyrics (“Time is an ever open wound / that never hurts the same twice / Twisted shards created by our will / shall open the flesh / in ways that may be poetry, or may be mundane / Since the shadow of our self is always / longer than our height / Since the pride of our self is always / shorter than our pain”), also showcasing truly infernal blast beast by drummer J.H. Prison of Shattered Glass feels a lot more doom-ish than the opening track, with A.M. and guitarist S.D. delivering pure evil through their strings. In other words, this is a lesson in Blackened Doom by this excellent Spanish entity, where the devilish background sounds, the ominous growls by A.M. and the sluggish beats by J.H. end up generating a sulfuric and disturbing ambience altogether, ending in a beautiful, Stygian way; whereas The Ever Shifting Path gets back to a more perturbing and belligerent sonority, with the Black Metal-inspired drumming by J.H. together with the hellish vociferations by A.M. being the main elements in this fantastic Extreme Metal aria, becoming even more impactful halfway through it.

Longing for the Untold BlackSeed Productions Edition

Closing this top-tier feast of obscure and extreme music we have the eerie Advent of the Inescapable, starting with an atmospheric, creepy intro before exploding into absolute hatred in the form of Black Metal, and that perturbing feeling goes on until the music fades into sheer darkness. Moreover, pay good attention to its lyrics, which are beyond perfect for the music played (“Transcend a fraudulent reality – / let fear and pain penetrate and go through / Deconstruct your being – / resign all perishable aspirations / Dissociation from all that surrounds you – / become an impassive entity / Accept your purpose in this world – / you are here to destroy and suffer”). As aforementioned, this new version of Longing for the Untold also contains three bonus tracks, all from their 2013 split Three Ways of Consciousness (Spears of Unlight, Psalms of the Wandering and Shrine of Involution), which add a 0.5 to the album’s overall score by offering more of Aversio Humanitatis’ undisputed fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with Doom Metal.

After paying a visit to Aversio Humanitatis’ Facebook page and YouTube channel to know more about this distinct act hailing from Spain and to get a better taste of their music, I’m sure you’ll promptly search the web for a copy of Longing for the Untold  (which by the way can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE, including all bonus tracks). Well, let me tell you that your hunt will be an extremely easy task, as the album is available for purchase at the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp or webstore, at the BlackSeed Productions’ webstore in black vinyl, white vinyl or cassette, on Amazon or at Discogs; as well as at the band’s own BandCamp and at the BlackSeed Productions’ BandCamp or webstore (with or without the bonus tracks). And when you finally have this fantastic album on your hands, get ready for a violent , never-ending and ferocious one-way journey into darkness.

Best moments of the album: Longing for the Untold and The Ever Shifting Path.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Track listing
1. Longing for the Untold 5:04
2. Prison of Shattered Glass 6:06
3. The Ever Shifting Path 5:36
4. Advent of the Inescapable 4:41

Vynil & Tape B-Side bonus tracks
5. Spears of Unlight 4:38
6. Psalms of the Wandering 5:34
7. Shrine of Involution 6:15

Band members
A.M. – vocals, bass
S.D. – guitars
J.H. – drums

Live musicians
N.H.T. – guitar, vocals
J.C. – bass