Album Review – Rage Of Light / Imploder (2019)

A contrast made of light and rage in the form of an action-packed album of trance music and Melodic Death Metal.

A contrast made of light and rage. That’s exactly what you’re going to get in Imploder, the debut full-length album by Swiss Electronic Groove Metal unity Rage Of Light, the brainchild of vocalist and keyboardist Jonathan Pellet, known for his past works with Symphonic Power Metal band Trophallaxy/Dysrider. Offering a hybrid of trance and Melodic Death Metal, a unique combination of sounds that can be labeled as “Trance Metal”, Rage Of Light will stimulate all your senses with their brand new opus, showing why the multi-talented Jonathan, together with the gorgeous Melissa Bonny (Evenmore, Warkings, Ad Infinitum) on lead vocals and the talented Noé Schüpbach on guitars and bass, are more than ready to conquer the world of heavy music with their creativity, electricity and, of course, a lot of rage.

Jonathan came up with the idea to create a fusion of trance and metal music in 2007, but due to being busy with other projects it took almost a decade for the idea to fully bear fruit. Finally, in 2015, he recruited Melissa and Noé to complete the band, releasing in 2016 their debut five-track EP Chasing a Reflection, followed by a few very interesting singles in 2017 and 2018 including cover versions for Amon Amarth’s battle hymn “Twilight Of The Thunder God” and Lady Gaga’s hit “Judas”. After receiving very positive feedback from fans and critics from all over the world through the years, it’s time now in 2019 for Rage Of Light to reach new heights with Imploder, featuring a modern artwork by Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes, cellist Joëlle “Jo” Graz (Trophallaxy/Dysrider) as a very special guest musician and, above all, three superb musicians who perfectly represent the union of endless talent and a deep passion for music.

The very atmospheric and entrancing intro Light captivates our senses from the very first second, dragging us to Rage Of Light’s lair of heavy music in Enraged, where the trio begins distilling their refined techniques and ethereal sounds, with Melissa’s hypnotizing vocals matching flawlessly with the song’s epic ambience and crushing beats, not to mention Noé’s amazing guitar solo as the icing on the cake. Following such powerful start, keep banging your head to Melissa, Jonathan and Noé to the heavy-as-hell Fallen, a beautiful fusion of modern-day Melodic Death Metal with trance music, or in other words, a rebellious hymn by Rage Of Light led by Jonathan’s whimsical keys and synths, all complemented by his own rabid growls. And in their 2018 single I Can, I Will we’re treated to a more frantic and electrified version of their Trance Metal, with both Melissa and Jonathan kicking some serious ass with their powerful roars, giving life to the song’s poetic lyrics (“My eyes drag me down / When I look around and see what I’m not / Is there, anywhere, a stairway to the top? / Watch me, never again / Will I look down and feel this pain / Cause now, step by step I start to climb and leave these cries behind”).

Experimenting even more with electronic and eccentric sounds, the band offers our ears another dancing fusion of 90’s trance with Heavy Metal infused with Symphonic Metal nuances in Away With You, where it’s quite impossible to stand still to its enfolding rhythm, while In The Shadow is another solid composition featuring classic beats and riffs mixed with the band’s trademark modernity (it falls flat after a while, though), with Melissa stealing the spotlight once again with her unique voice. Then the gentle and potent cello by Jo brings a touch of finesse to the beyond fantastic and insurgent Battlefront, with Melissa alternating between her crisp clean vocals and her she-demon roars in what’s probably the most detailed and multi-layered song from the entire album; and get ready for a trance-meets-metal party in the instrumental title-track Imploder, courtesy of Jonathan and Noé, who together generate a dense, mechanized and metallic atmosphere for admirers of the genre. Furthermore, despite the fact the drums in the entire album are programmed, they still sounds very organic, therefore smashing your skull mercilessly.

With lyrics sounding like a blend of cult flicks such as Terminator and Night of the Living Dead (“Our lives, threatened by this viral disease / We thought we could handle this affliction / No cure will stop the infection to spread / Condemned by our evolution”), Mechanicals, also previously released as a single, is a movie score-inspired extravaganza showcasing intricate guitar lines, pounding drums,  tons of insanity and a futuristic vibe in over seven minutes of first-class modern metal music, leaving us completely disoriented before Nothingness closes the regular version of the album, with Jo returning with her somber cello to add her share of melancholy and serenity to Rage Of Light’s vibrant music while Noé brings rage to the overrall result with his riffs, flowing smoothly until its delicate grand finale. And please I beg you to go for the deluxe edition of Imploder, as you’ll be absolutely stunned by the bonus track Twilight Of The Thunder God, their cover version for Amon Amarth’s most powerful tune of all time in my opinion (you can check the original version HERE). I saw somewhere a guy saying this version should be called “Twilight of the Thunder Goddess”, and I agree one hundred percent as Melissa is on her more-than-perfect “beast mode”, resulting in a flawless performance by one of the most versatile singers of the new era of metal music.

If you still can’t imagine how the flammable fusion of such distinct styles like trance and Melodic Death Metal sounds like, you can take a full listen at Imploder on Spotify, but in case you’re already familiar with (and addicted to) Rage Of Light’s breathtaking music, don’t forget to follow Jonathan, Melissa and Noé on Facebook and to purchase your copy of their excellent new album from their own BandCamp page, from the Napalm Records’ webstore (in Europe or in the United States), or from your regular retailers like iTunes and Amazon. In the end, no one knows for sure if Rage Of Light play a heavier-than-usual version of trance music, or a modernized and electronic version of Heavy Metal, and that very interesting contrast is what makes their music so unique and vibrant. That’s the beauty of it, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: Fallen, Battlefront, Mechanicals and Twilight Of The Thunder God.

Worst moments of the album: In The Shadow.

Released in 2019 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Light 1:48
2. Enraged 5:01
3. Fallen 4:32
4. I Can, I Will 4:36
5. Away With You 3:50
6. In The Shadow 6:47
7. Battlefront 4:30
8. Imploder (Instrumental) 5:58
9. Mechanicals 7:17
10. Nothingness 5:40

Digipak Edition/iTunes/Amazon bonus track
11.Twilight Of The Thunder God (Amon Amarth cover) 4:06

Band members
Melissa Bonny – lead vocals
Jonathan Pellet – vocals, keyboards, synth, drums programming
Noé Schüpbach – guitars, bass

Guest musician
Joëlle “Jo” Graz – cello

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Album Review – Skognatt / Ancient Wisdom (2018)

An onrush of Atmospheric Black Metal as raw, aggressive, melodic and obscure as it can be, from the undergrounds of Bavaria directly into your mind.

Hailing from Augsburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities and the third-largest city in Bavaria (after Munich and Nuremberg), here comes a very sinister and interesting Atmospheric Black Metal/Dark Ambient one-man project named Skognatt, who have just unleashed darkness upon humanity with its first full-length album Ancient Wisdom. After its inception in 2016 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Danijel Zambo, Skognatt released the demo Landscape of Ice in 2016, followed by the EP Stargazer that same year, and another EP in 2017 titled Ancient Wisdom (with the same name as the new album, but only featuring two songs that would be part of it). With the help of guest multi-instrumentalist Gerileme (Asche der Welten, Osteon) on drums and drum engineering, Skognatt brings forth six otherworldly compositions in Ancient Wisdom, living up to the legacy of old school Black Metal but with an atmospheric and eccentric twist added to its already somber musicality.

Macabre and phantasmagoric from the very beginning, the title-track Ancient Wisdom brings forward acoustic guitars intertwined with the sinister, demonic gnarls by Danijel, flowing smoothly and darkly until its ending, all boosted by creepy keyboard notes. Then the steady drumming by Gerileme and the lugubrious guitars by Danijel set the pace in Xibalbá, an Atmospheric Black Metal tune with hints of Symphonic Black Metal and Middle-Eastern nuances, with the vocals by Danijel sounding more devilish and anguished than before; followed by World Apart, showcasing blast beats and flammable guitar riffs (and therefore leaning towards traditional Black Metal), but also bringing a touch of delicacy and melancholy to the overall musicality through its very melodic and sometimes acoustic background sounds and tones.

More obscure than its predecessors, Thanatos alternates between melancholic, serene passages and more aggressive moments led by the piercing growls by Danijel, resulting in a Stygian hymn that can be used as the soundtrack to your deepest nightmares. As a matter of fact, Thanatos was the personification of death in Greek mythology, just to give you a sense of how dark this song is. Moving on with the album, Dark Star presents a movie-inspired intro before an explosion of demonic sounds fills the air, with Gerileme sounding even more infernal on drums in a hybrid of contemporary Ambient and Experimental Black Metal. Put differently, it can’t get any more underground, visceral and crude than this, being definitely not recommended for the lighthearted. And closing this somber and eccentric album we have another blast of Atmospheric Black Metal titled Fallen, spiced up by peculiar and whimsical sounds and featuring spoken words taken from the work of English nobleman and poet Lord Byron (1788 – 1824). Furthermore, Danijel does a great job both on keyboards and on vocals, enhancing the song’s already distinct taste until the music fades into a mesmerizing semi-acoustic outro.

In summary, Ancient Wisdom (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) is one of those albums of extreme music that perfectly represent what underground metal is all about, being raw, aggressive, melodic and obscure, all at the same time. And in order to show your true support to an independent act like Skognatt, you can pay a visit to the band’s official Facebook page, and of course buy your copy of Ancient Wisdom from its BandCamp page, keeping the fires of Black Metal burning inside the dark soul of Mr. Danijel Zambo and his devilish alter ego Skognatt for years and years to come.

Best moments of the album: Xibalbá and Thanatos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Ancient Wisdom 5:17
2. Xibalbá 5:09
3. World Apart 5:19
4. Thanatos 4:06
5. Dark Star 4:50
6. Fallen + Outro 6:44

Band members
Danijel Zambo – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Gerileme – drums

Album Review – Ann My Guard / Innocence Descent (2014)

A very professional and vigorous album of alternative heavy music enhanced by an amazing feminine touch.

Rating4

AnnMyGuard_IDI’ll be honest with you and admit Alternative Metal has never been on my top picks whenever I want to listen to music. As I’ve said a couple of times here, I usually stick to the foundations of Heavy Metal. However, sometimes it’s interesting (and good for your brain) to listen to bands outside of this traditional world, especially when the band is as technical and pleasant as Hungarian “Doll Metal” band Ann My Guard, who have recently released their debut album, the energetic Innocence Descent.

This 4-piece band from the stunning city of Budapest, Hungary, took around six long years to thoroughly write the whole album, a process that might look too exhausting at first but that was definitely worth every second and penny spent in the end. Produced by the most renowned producer in their native Hungary, Gábor Vári, the album couldn’t sound more professional and ready for the absurdly competitive and demanding music market than that: Innocence Descent is a great mix of Alternative Metal and Rock with a huge focus on melody and harmony (something commonly done by most European bands), which will please fans of Evanescence, Hole, Kittie, H.I.M. and all other bands that are part of that more “delicate” side of heavy music.

As soon as the interesting intro Enchant begins, you can already notice all the band’s aforementioned influences, which becomes even clearer in Grey Witch, with its Alternative Metal riffs and the smooth vocals by Eszter. Moreover, its high-end production and the excellent chorus make it an excellent option for becoming a radio hit. Another important detail in Innocence Descent are the lyric themes, with pretty much every song talking about women, witches, sex and all other taboos present in the feminine world.

Getting back to the music, it seems the band loves deep key notes such as the ones found in Dark Sea Blue, a song that flirts with Pop Rock without losing that heavier approach from Alternative Metal, and the melancholic Ivory Ballad. Then we have the strong bass lines and nice drumming from Crush Honey, which sounds like some old songs from Hole, and the awesome rhythm from the powerful Morgana’s Song, another excellent example of how Ann My Guard took care of all details in their musicality to sound as professional as possible. Once again, I should say this song could easily be played in any Rock N’ Roll radio around the world.

AnnMyGuardThe next part of the album slows things down a little in a very introspective way, starting with the short acoustic ballad Hollow Red (which focus 100% on Eszter’s voice to enhance its atmosphere), followed by another ballad, My Lullaby, with beautiful lyrics and lots of harmony, and Easy, a melancholic tune with highlights to the good work done by guitarists István Tagcherer and Krisztián Varga both in the slow and the fast parts of the song. But it’s when the band accelerates their music that they hit the bull’s-eye in my opinion: H.K.A. Bitch has lots Punk Rock elements blended with Nu Metal, which together with its heavy riffs and acid lyrics turn it into a perfect choice for entertaining a more energetic audience during their live performances; while the vigorous Fallen follows a similar pattern as the previous track, boosted by some rhythmic variations and a delicate but strong chorus.

And lastly, Ann My Guard offer us the semi-acoustic ballad Gone, with highlights to the good guitar solo at the end of the song, and Circles, a unique Pop Rock track that gets heavier halfway through the song before fading into a melancholic rhythm to close the album.

You can take a good listen at the entire album HERE, and also support Ann My Guard by purchasing their official merchandise, or a digital copy of the album on iTunes or Amazon. As I said before, if you’re a fan of alternative heavy music with a feminine touch, Innocence Descent is indubitably one of the best new options in the market. I’m pretty sure all members of the band are proud of their “baby”, and you won’t be disappointed at all with the professionalism and vitality of their music.

Best moments of the album: Morgana’s Song, H.K.A. Bitch and Fallen.

Worst moments of the album: Dark Sea Blue and Gone.

Released in 2014 Smash Fabric Records

Track listing
1. Enchant 1:23
2. Grey Witch 3:11
3. Dark Sea Blue 3:48
4. Ivory Ballad 4:01
5. Crush Honey 4:15
6. Morgana’s Song 3:19
7. Hollow Red 1:19
8. My Lullaby 3:59
9. Easy 2:57
10. H.K.A. Bitch 1:55
11. Fallen 3:42
12. Gone 3:35
13. Circles 7:44

Band members
Eszter Anna Baumann – vocals, bass, flute, keys
István Tagcherer – guitars
Krisztián Varga – guitars
Joci Vadász – drums