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”

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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 – Mongol / Warrior Spirit EP (2017)

Paying homage to the hordes of the ancient Mongolian empire by blending heavy, melodic riffs with an array of folk instruments and Asian harmonies, raise your fists to this idiosyncratic six-piece Canadian Folk Metal squad.

Forged in 2009 in the frozen bowels of Edmonton, Alberta, more specifically in the city of Devon, situated 26km southwest of Edmonton and located along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, Canadian Folk Metal act Mongol has continuously paid homage to the hordes of the ancient Mongolian empire, blending heavy, melodic riffs with an array of folk instruments and Asian harmonies, wielding a sound as diverse as the nations their historical influences conquered. Their unique sound has taken them on many exciting journeys, including co-headlining Noise Metal Fest, Mongolia’s first international metal festival, alongside Folk Metal icons Nine Treasures in 2014, as well as sharing the stage with renowned bands like Arkona, Kalmah, Nekrogoblikon and Havok, among others.

Since their genesis almost a decade ago, Mongol released the EP Leisurely Destruktion, in 2010, followed by the full-length albums The Altan Urug, in 2012, and Chosen by Tengri, in 2014. Now in 2017 those Mongolian warriors are back in action with a brand new EP titled Warrior Spirit, featuring three original compositions that, as expected, bring forward the band’s trademark sonority in honor of the Mongolian empire, all enfolded by a minimalist but impactful album artwork by Eric Dieterich, from Soloman Media. Warrior Spirit might be short in duration, with only around 19 minutes of music, but that’s more than enough for this idiosyncratic Canadian sextet to show how passionate they are about the “Land of the Blue Sky” and its history.

Mongol’s epic and warlike Folk Metal invades our ears from the very first second of the opening track of the EP, the excellent The Mountain Weeps, with bassist Sorkhon Sharr kicking ass with his low-tuned punches while frontman Tev Tegri leads his horde of Mongolian warriors with his potent vocals, effectively transmitting the strength of the song’s lyrics to the listener (“Like the mighty blade of the Gods reaching on to the Welkin, / and piercing our world as it guides our way to Heaven / Pilgrimage of kings, the mountains sing / somber songs of conflicts long untold”). Not only that, the folk sounds and noises by lead guitarist Zev are the icing on the cake in this Canadian Folk Metal hymn, while Bourchi showcases all his versatility by blasting rhythmic and progressive sounds mixed with fast-paced beats throughout the song’s six intense minutes.

With a traditional folk intro and a fighting atmosphere, River Child is absolutely perfect for prancing around a fire pit while drinking a cold beer with your comrades. The deep growls by Tev Tegri together with the fierce, accelerated guitars by Zev and Zelme set this awesome Folk Metal chant on fire, not to mention the song’s inspiring guitar solos, the furious drumming by Bourchi and its beyond catchy chorus, tailored for singing along with the band while slamming into the pit at the same time (“River child, wild and free / Come my brothers, and soon you will see / Grace of the faun and cunning of the hound / No one knows where the child is bound”). In the third and lats song of the EP, titled Warband, thunderous bass and drums dictate the rhythm while keyboardist Sche-Khe crafts an amazing background with his sharp notes. Furthermore, Tev Tegri keeps growling like a Mongolian warrior, giving life to another chorus that will enliven you for battle (“With rising glory, we find ourselves / Far away from the East. / We are nomads, we hold no home / We are War band, the Golden Horde.”), supported by all folk elements added to the musicality by Zev to spice up the final result.

You can have a very tasteful preview of the whole EP by clicking HERE, or listen to it in its entirety on Spotify. The unrelenting squad Mongol, who can be found on Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud, has been doing a sensational job paying tribute to the Mongolian empire through their well-crafted metal music, and it looks like they’ll keep raising that flag high with their future releases based on the music found in  Warrior Spirit, which can be purchased through their own BandCamp page, as well as on iTunesAmazon or CD Baby. Genghis Khan once said that “a man’s greatest joy is crushing his enemies”, but I believe that in the case of Mongol, despite all their admiration for the ations taken by the Mongolian empire, their biggest joy is to keep generating thrilling metal music for us metalheads.

Best moments of the album: River Child.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Mountain Weeps 5:50
2. River Child 5:14
3. Warband 7:05

Band members
Tev Tegri – vocals
Zev – lead guitar, vocals, folk instrumentation
Zelme – rhythm guitar
Sorkhon Sharr – bass
Sche-Khe – keyboards
Bourchi – drums

Album Review – Divine Element / Thaurachs Of Borsu (2017)

In the hostile lands of Borsu, witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war, human society and the fabric of the cosmos itself, all embraced by the fury and epicness of Melodic Death and Black Metal.

A comeback that has been slowly brewing since a few years now. Formed in 2002 in the city of Athens, Greece, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Divine Element was the first band of Spectral Lore’s multi-instrumentalist Ayloss and vocalist Antonis, releasing their self-titled debut album back in 2010. After a hiatus of almost seven years, Divine Element are finally back with the stunning Thaurachs of Borsu, the first chapter in many future ones to come under a new and ambitious conceptual undertaking, the combination of metal with fantasy literature and world-making. Featuring a classy artwork by Chilean artist Matias Trabold Rehren, Thaurachs of Borsu is based on the same-titled novel written by Ayloss, which will be unveiled not long after the album release (to be followed by short stories from Antonis), set on a medieval fantasy universe envisioned by the band.

Thaurachs of Borsu chronicles the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war, human society and the fabric of the cosmos itself, as the gritty and daring warriors of his nation, Borsu, fight to regain their ancestral homeland from a much more powerful enemy. Musically speaking, the album ties together several styles of metal to serve the higher purpose of epic storytelling, albeit taking notice to never fall into the typical clichés of “soundtrack metal”, keeping an old-school approach mostly centered around Death and Black Metal of the heavy, melodic variety. Put differently, after hitting play you’ll find yourself wandering through the lands of Borsu, ready for battle and eager for some blood, banging your head nonstop to the majestic heavy music played by Antonis and Ayloss, with the precise and masterful support of German drummer Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, Hannes Grossman, Shapeshift) to make their sound even more enthralling.

A Realignment With Destiny is a fantastic epic intro to the battle that’s about to come, the title-track Thaurachs Of Borsu, where Antonis and Ayloss begin their crushing onslaught in total sync with the Amon Amarth-inspired beats by Hannes. In other words, this is superb metal music, dense and profound, with all instruments filling all spaces with sheer aggression and might. In addition, how not to fall in love for those monumental lyrics (“The valley folk to the mountains’ slopes withdrew / Surrounded only by unwrought stone / The sea lords to the dry desert driven / Οswan roams frenzied in a soundless plain / Mestyr hangs discouraged with a rusting blade / And all hearts bellow in a silent wailing / A resignation to oblivion”)?

In Onto The Trail Of Betrayal, Antonis’ potent deep growls keep rumbling the earth while the instrumental pieces invest in a more Black Metal sonority. Moreover, the intricate beats by Hannes go along flawlessly with the cutting riffs by Ayloss, resulting in eight minutes of the best underground Melodic Death and Black Metal you can get anywhere, where they not only play superior music but the story being told is also a work-of-art. Then in Beyond This Sea we’re treated to a calm and melancholic start before the sound of the sea and the guitar lines blend in a beautiful manner, creating a potent atmosphere for the metallic sounds that are about to come. Adding elements of Blackened Doom and Folk Metal to their menacing Melodic Death Metal, the result couldn’t sound more imposing and appealing, with highlights to how vocals and guitar follow the exact same lines.

The movie-inspired bridge Interlude (The Point Of No Return) sounds even more majestic than the album’s intro, warming up your fighting soul for the crushing Call Of The Blade, a gripping fusion of the music played by Amon Amarth with traditional Folk Metal, with Antonis sounding like a beast on vocals, enhancing the impact of the song’s already powerful lyrics (“The land speaks to me in an alien tongue / Though my blood was born in these shores / What will I find, if I dig to unearth these roots / The echo of old thoughts faints quickly here / As the collective energy rises triumphant / Powered by the fiery will of a few”). Traitor’s Last Stand is another belligerent tune by Divine Element, showcasing almost eight minutes of heavier-than-hell riffs, electrifying passages and enlivening breaks. Furthermore, Hannes brings a high dosage of intricacy to the overall musicality with his drumming, while Antonis keeps telling the story with precision and passion through his anger-fueled growls. The last part of the song exhales epicness, gradually morphing into the cinematic outro Augury For A Shapeless Future, where the gorgeous sound of a rough ocean, together with the orchestrations in the background, make it the perfect climatic ending for the album.

No words can describe with the right amount of detail how amazing Thaurachs Of Borsu is, which is why I highly recommend you go take a listen at the album in its entirety HERE, and also visit the band’s official Facebook page for more information and their YouTube channel for more awesomeness in the form of heavy music. Also, there are several locations where you can purchase Thaurachs Of Borsu, such as Divine Element’s BandCamp, the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and the Season of Mist’s webstore, as well as on Amazon and at Discogs. And while we wait for the next chapter in the career of Divine Element, we have plenty to enjoy and absorb in this superb album where heavy music and a thrilling story-telling couldn’t be more connected, impactful and vibrant.

Best moments of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu, Beyond This Sea and Call Of The Blade.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing   
1. A Realignment With Destiny 2:13
2. Thaurachs Of Borsu 4:52
3. Onto The Trail Of Betrayal 7:45
4. Beyond This Sea 4:54
5. Interlude (The Point Of No Return) 1:30
6. Call Of The Blade 6:34
7. Traitor’s Last Stand 7:36
8. Augury For A Shapeless Future 2:39

Band members
Antonis – vocals
Ayloss – guitars, bass, synths

Guest musician
Hannes Grossman – drums (session)

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

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Attention, metalheads!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Aegri Somnia / Ad Augusta per Angusta (2017)

A compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, where Spanish oral traditional music is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Whenever metal gets blended with any other type of music in the world, in special with more traditional styles and genres, the result is always beyond interesting, transpiring creativity, passion, feeling and entertaining us all in a different way than our usual metal bands. That encounter of the fury and darkness of heavy music with distinct non-metal sounds is exactly what you’ll experience in Ad Augusta per Angusta, the debut full-length album by Madrid-based Black/Avantgarde Metal project Aegri Somnia, where Spanish oral traditional music, unknown even for most of Spanish people, is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Aegri Somnia are Cristina R. Galván (also known as Lady Carrot), from the Castilian folk music world, and multi-instrumentalist Nightmarer, from the Avantgarde Metal scene (As Light Dies, Garth Arum), who decided to form the project in 2012 in an old ghostly house located in a northern Spanish valley, surrounded by loneliness, silence and the smell of wet earth. And it didn’t take long for the duo to give life to Ad Augusta per Angusta from the harmonious union of their skills and backgrounds, offering the listener a compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, a travel through the rural and magical Spain with its lights and shadows, and a gaze into the abyss of the black and tenebrous Spain with the inner cruelty and brutality of human beings. Featuring a stylish artwork designed by Cristina and Nightmarer themselves, Ad Augusta per Angusta will certainly redefine the way you see folk and metal music.

Serene acoustic guitars and the delicate voice by Cristina kick off the folk composition Seran, full of traditional Iberian elements and showcasing a steady, melancholic atmosphere. Furthermore, all additional instruments played by both Cristina and Nightmarer are necessary to the music, never sounding out of place. Aegri Somina offer heavier guitars and a rousing vibe in the excellent and classy chant Señor Platero, presenting a great performance once again by Cristina on vocals while Nightmarer brings the word “metal” to the musicality in a perfect balance between extreme music and Iberian folk; followed by La Culebra, a song that’s at the same time tailored for a dancing performance and for a metal concert. Not only Cristina changes her tone a bit in this song, sounding more aggressive than before, but also the song’s symphonic elements enhance its darkness, cohesiveness and taste.

La Deshonra, the longest of all tracks, transpires melancholy through the beautiful acoustic guitars by Nightmarer and the passionate vocals by Cristina, and despite the music not having any breaks or variations, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. In fact, its constant rhythm is what makes it mesmerizing. In Molinero – Vengo De Moler, the fusion of metallic guitars and the classic sound of unique instruments like spoons, clamps and stomps, among others, creates a fantastic ambience for Cristina to declaim the song’s lyrics, filling all spaces in this exotic and fun composition, whereas in La Niña De La Arena, one of the best tracks of the album, the duo speeds up the pace and delivers sharp guitar lines, both electric and acoustic. This is indeed an intricate chant displaying several different instruments and layers, with nuances of modern folk music to spice it up a bit. And exhibiting a softer side, Cristina and Nightmarer focus on the more gentle sounds of their instruments in Romance De Santa Elena, generating a calm atmosphere where Cristina beautifully tells the story through the song’s poetic lyrics.

Ronda De Mayo brings Iberian folk with hints of modern Hard Rock, Folk and Progressive Metal, feeling like part of the soundtrack for a dark movie, with its percussion and synths working really well, keeping the music flowing smoothly. Then we have Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte, another dancing tune full of clapping and acoustic lines keeping up with the Spanish traditions, with Cristina going back to her sharper vocal lines while Nightmarer does an amazing job with his unstoppable guitar, and Charro Del Labrador, where Cristina continues to showcase her tender vocal lines, with the musicality in this case being denser than usual thanks to the heavier beats and louder folk instruments. I personally think this experimental composition should sound very interesting if they record a full metal version of it. And Veneno, the last composition in Ad Augusta per Angusta, offers the listener atmospheric passages and a high dosage of melancholy, and albeit not being a bad composition, it’s in my opinion slightly below the rest of the album in terms of creativity.

It’s extremely easy to know more about Aegri Somnia and their music. For instance, you can listen to the full album on YouTube, where you can also watch an amazing video by Cristina herself speaking about the traditional percussion instruments used in Ad Augusta per Angusta and other details about the Iberian oral tradition (with subtitles in English available). You can also follow the duo on Facebook, and purchase Ad Augusta per Angusta at their BandCamp page, at the Symbol Of Domination’s BandCamp page, at the Satanath Records’ webstore or at Discogs. And if exploring new music is part of your life, then you’re more than welcome to join Cristina and Nightmarer in their voyage through the darkness and light of the rural Spain.

Best moments of the album: Señor Platero, Molinero – Vengo De Moler and La Niña De La Arena.

Worst moments of the album: Veneno.

Released in 2017 Symbol Of Domination/United By Chaos

Track listing
1. Seran 4:08
2. Señor Platero 4:51
3. La Culebra 3:13
4. La Deshonra 6:06
5. Molinero – Vengo De Moler 5:05
6. La Niña De La Arena 2:40
7. Romance De Santa Elena 4:28
8. Ronda De Mayo 4:17
9. Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte 3:40
10. Charro Del Labrador 5:41
11. Veneno 4:51

Band members
Cristina R. Galvan (Lady Carrot) – female vocal, galician and castilian tambourine, pandero cuadrado, palo de agua, spoons, almirez, shells and claps
Nightmarer – male vocal, electric & acoustic guitar, fretless bass, keyboards/synths, programming, violin, accordion, wind chimes, claps and stomps

Album Review – Himiltungl / Öden (2017)

An unconventional album by three high-skilled musicians who want to share their inner Swedish darkness with others through their haunting mix of Black and Viking Metal with folk melodies from the deep forests of Jamtland.

Rating5

cover-digitalFormed in 2013 in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries, and inspired by the traditional Folk, Viking and Black Metal creations by bands like Týr, Vintersorg and Woods of Ypres, Folk Metal band Himiltungl (which means “the fucking moon” in ancient Swedish) weaves a haunting mix of Black and Viking Metal with folk melodies from the deep forests of Jamtland, a historical province in the center of Sweden. The band consists of three high-skilled musicians who want to share their inner Swedish darkness with others, and in that way invoke a sense of dread, joy and wonder, primarily singing in Swedish and Jamtlandic with lyrics conflictingly revolving around the majesty of nature interspersed with reflections on the terminality of life and death.

If all that explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, simply hit play and enjoy the music found in Öden (which translates to “fates”), the long awaited follow-up to their debut album Svart Ravin, from 2013, telling stories of blood, loss and tragic ends while continuing to explore the folk-inspired path that was initiated with their first album, always moving towards heavier and more progressive sounds. Each song will sound completely different to your ears, sometimes bursting with anger and aggressiveness, sometimes being as smooth as the sound of a placid lake, and that’s exactly what Himiltungl wants you to feel while listening to Öden. This is not your average Folk Metal album, so you better sharpen your senses for the freakish amalgamation of sounds and emotions found in Öden in order to understand what the Folk Metal by Himiltungl truly means.

In Myrens Gäst, the trio starts blasting their dark music with folk elements from the very beginning, with the somber vocals by Jens being complemented by the also melancholic voice by Magnus. It’s quite difficult to label this as only one subgenre of heavy music, but I would personally say it sounds like some sort of “Melodic Dark Folk Metal”. Anyway, in The Dying War, one of the few songs in English from the album, Jens and his hellish gnarls perfectly fit the unusual and modern Folk Metal instrumental, with drummer Mattias bringing the necessary groove and progressiveness to the musicality. And Skogstokig brings forward Scandinavian guitar lines and minstrel-like vocals in a very traditional folk way, with its last part getting more metallic with potent riffs and beats alternating with harmonious vocalizations.

Paying homage to their tribal roots, the band offers the listener Eldsjäl, a touching blend of Folk Metal and ancient soundings where both Jens and Magnus deliver passionate performances on vocals, with some harsher moments to spice up the final result; followed by Shadows Crowd, their most contemporary composition, getting closer to Blackened Folk Metal. Mattias and Magnus craft the base to this melancholic and powerful chant with their beats and bass lines, while Jens once again delivers solid vocal lines throughout the entire song. In Kung Jorum a melancholic intro flows into heavier traditional music with all folk elements sounding crystal clear, also presenting interesting acoustic passages, whereas in Cerebration Gate an inspiring beginning quickly morphs into a mid-tempo Folk Metal hymn, presenting raspier gnarls by Jens and heavier guitar lines. This is in my opinion one of the best songs of the album, showcasing an effective combination of progressiveness and feeling.

himiltungl_oden-42

Photo by Paul Wennerholm – http://paulwennerholm.com/

In Tångsal, a song made to be played and sung around the fire pit, Jens grasps the song’s lyrics like a demonic entity while the instrumental parts feel like a blend of Folk and Pagan Metal with hints of Black Metal, before Sökaren brings forward medieval and folk elements added to its heavy and electrified guitars, with the backing vocals as well as the precise drumming by Mattias elevating the overall quality of the song. And Glöd, their most complex aria and the longest of all tracks at almost nine minutes, displays over two minutes of distorted noises before the music reaches its final shape and tone. Moreover, when the guitar by Jens gets heavier than usual, the song gets a lot more obscure and impactful.

Urmoder not only has an excellent pace and intensity, but the symphonic elements present in it also bring more darkness to the overall musicality, with all band members delivering a precise performance (in special Mattias with his potent and rhythmic beats) in what’s one of the most gripping of all songs. Ivolin, another blast of Folk and Pagan Metal, proves that when Himiltungl craft their modern and heavy version of minstrel-like music they effectively reflect their core essence and their inspirations; and in the introspective Hatarens Sång, minimalist guitar sounds generate the ambience for Jens and his bandmates to tell a story through their grim vocals, with all instruments being progressively added to the music for a climatic ending.

After listening to the multilayered Öden, available on iTunes and on Amazon, you’ll certainly agree with what I said in the beginning of this review about how difficult it is to label the music by this up-and-coming Swedish trio. You can definitely try giving a name or definition to their music, by studying more about the band and their creations through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, BandCamp and SoundCloud. As previously mentioned, I like to call their music as “Melodic Dark Folk Metal”, simply because it is indeed very melodic, constantly dark and always folk, but anything I say won’t be enough to describe their unconventional canticles.

Best moments of the album: Shadows Crowd, Cerebration Gate and Urmoder.

Worst moments of the album: Kung Jorum.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Myrens Gäst 6:32
2. The Dying War 3:10
3. Skogstokig 3:34
4. Eldsjäl 5:22
5. Shadows Crowd 4:41
6. Kung Jorum 7:18
7. Cerebration Gate 5:32
8. Tångsal 3:09
9. Sökaren 3:44
10. Glöd 8:55
11. Urmoder 3:58
12. Ivolin 4:03
13. Hatarens Sång 3:25

Band members
Jens – vocals, guitars
Magnus – bass, vocals
Mattias – drums

Album Review – Falls of Rauros / Vigilance Perennial (2017)

Feel embraced by the Black and Folk Metal thoroughly crafted by this American quartet, ranging from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion.

Rating4

nvp055-coverTheir name comes from one of my favorite books of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, inspired by the great falls of River Anduin beneath Nen Hithoel, where the river fell from Emyn Muil to the wetland of Nindalf. Their music, a fusion of Black and Folk Metal with several other elements from distinct genres of music, ranges from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion. I’m talking about Falls of Rauros, an extremely talented quartet hailing from the city of Portland, Maine, in the United States, who are releasing their fourth full-length album titled Vigilance Perennial, for the delight of fans of complex and atmospheric music.

Since their inception in 2005 the band has been in a constant state of evolution in their career, with their music flowing organically and increasing in intensity with each of their releases. Featuring an impactful artwork by Sólfjall Design, Vigilance Perennial offers the listener five unique compositions that not only represent the core essence of Falls of Rauros, but that will also take you on a journey of creativity and discovery together with the four members of this idiosyncratic band. If you truly open your mind to the music found in Vigilance Perennial, the entire album will probably become a constant part of your daily music playlist without a shadow of a doubt.

Smooth guitar lines by Jordan and Aaron kick off the opening track, White Granite, being gradually accompanied by Evan on bass and Ray on drums, before Jordan begins firing some hellish gnarls completing the band’s aforementioned fusion of Folk and Black Metal, in this case nicely complemented by subtle hints of Doom Metal. You’ll be travelling through serene fields and harsher landscapes with the band in this full-bodied composition, elevating your emotions and senses before the second aria of the album, Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes, continues to guide you through Falls of Rauros’ whimsical journey. Slow beats and soulful guitars dictate the rhythm in the song’s gentle beginning, but it’s after around three minutes that things get more flammable with their dark and melodic Folk Metal exploding once again, with Jordan growling in a very somber way while Evan and Ray add a lot of progressiveness and epicness to the sonority.

The instrumental piece Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains showcases two minutes of tranquil guitar lines and a pleasant atmosphere, preparing our ears and souls for the dense and multilayered composition that will certainly blast the minds of fans of the genre entitled Arrow & Kiln, where the band fires heavy and aggressive sounds from the very beginning, with Jordan sounding more menacing and demonic than before. Moreover, Ray has an amazing performance on drums with both his Black Metal blast beats and his more rhythmic and progressive beats, helping the other members to constantly alternate between calm instrumental passages and piercing folk sounds powerfully. And closing the album Falls of Rauros offer us all another extreme music extravaganza named Impermanence Streakt Through Marble, a very harmonious and exciting tune where all band members deliver top-notch Folk and Black Metal through their sharp instruments. The song gets remarkably heavy at times, especially halfway through it, with the riffs by Jordan and Aaron and the precise drumming by Ray creating a darkened ambience perfect for the harsh growls by Jordan to sound even stronger.

If you’re ready to tame the unrestrained waters of Falls of Rauros, simply go check their Facebook page for more details on their career, tour dates and future plans. And there are so many different places where you can grab your copy of Vigilance Perennial I might have missed one or two from my list, as you can buy the album at the Falls of Rauros’ BandCamp page, at the Nordvis Produktion’s BandCamp page or webstore (in CD or LP format), at the Bindrune Recordings’ webstore also in CD or LP format, as well as on iTunes or Amazon. Feel embraced by the beautiful extreme music crafted by Falls of Rauros, and let your emotions flow to the sound of their distinguished creations.

Best moments of the album: Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes and Arrow & Kiln.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bindrune Recordings/Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. White Granite 10:11
2. Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes 9:30
3. Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains 2:17
4. Arrow & Kiln 12:02
5. Impermanence Streakt Through Marble 10:17

Band members
Jordan – vocals, guitar
Aaron – guitar, vocals
Evan – bass
Ray – drums

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Horn / Turm am Hang (2017)

One of the most respected underground musicians from Germany returns with more of his nature-themed, medieval style Black Metal bound to pagan roots and tribalism in another remarkable album.

Rating4

coverSince its creation in 2002 by German multi-instrumentalist Niklas “Nerrath”, Teutonic one-man army Horn has aimed at creating nature-themed, medieval style Black Metal bound to pagan roots, focusing on the relation of man and nature in a regional context. And this excellent project, hailing from Paderborn, a city in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, has been extremely successful in its journey, delivering high-end extreme music always with a meaningful concept behind it and always singing in its mother tongue German. Now, in the beginning of 2017, we have Horn’s seventh studio album, the folk, dynamic opus Turm Am Hang.

Inspired by the classic German folk song “Es ist ein Schnitter”, from the 17th century, as well as lansquenets (a gambling game of German origin), wars of the past, tribalism and the spirit of masculinity, Turm Am Hang will stimulate your most primeval senses with its distinctive ambience and powerful music. Furthermore, the artwork, layout and visual concept, all brought forth by German illustrator Timon Kokott, perfectly visualize the album’s combined musical and lyrical themes, complementing the already thrilling experience of listening to the music crafted by Nerrath.

After a pleasant folk intro in the opening track, titled Alles in einem Schnitt (which would translate as “everything in one cut”), Nerrath offers us his thrilling Black Metal with Folk and Pagan Metal elements, all sung in German as aforementioned to make things even more aggressive, not to mention the uniqueness of his tribal and stylish guitar lines. The title-track Turm am Hang (“tower on slope”) also begins in a serene way, again exploding into what can be called Blackened Folk Metal, with Nerrath blasting his enraged growls, potent beats and blazing, rhythmic riffs; followed by Verhallend in Landstrichen (“ranging in landscapes”), with the folk elements in the background adding a lot of epicness to the musicality together with its menacing drums. Furthermore, simply close your eyes and you will be able to feel all the energy flowing from the folkloristic sounds generated by Nerrath in this brilliant composition.

primarA song with an impactful name like Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz (“the one with the bow on the cross”) couldn’t sound less amazing than this, with its somber intro being gradually joined by guitars until all becomes an Extreme Metal extravaganza, perfect for drinking a few pints of beer together with your friends. Ä(h)renschnitter (“spices”) kicks off at full speed, with Nerrath going berserk with his fast-paced beats and riffs while powerfully vociferating the song’s lyrics at the same time. Moreover, hints of old school German Punk Rock are a very welcome addition to the overall musicality, enhancing the song’s effectiveness. And in Totenräumer (“Mortimer”), a fantastic fast-paced creation by Nerrath, our one-man army is startling on vocals, giving life to the song’s epic lyrics. Leaning towards sheer Pagan Metal, it never slows down, keeping the listener fully entertained from start to finish.

The eerie instrumental Lanz und Spieß (“lance and spear”) works as an intro for Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels (“bastion, in the sea of deaf rock”), a voyage through the realms of experimental and atmospheric extreme music, bringing forward elements of Black and Pagan Metal with an obscure rhythm. Ad lastly, as a “bonus” Nerrath offers the listener his excellent version for The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way, a melancholic and introspective journey of ambient music by American Ambient Black Metal band When Bitter Spring Sleeps, from their 2013 album Coven of the Wolves. Not only this is the only song in English in the album, but it also features guest vocals by American Lord Sardonyx, the mastermind behind When Bitter Spring Sleeps himself.

In order to enjoy everything Nerrath and his amazing project Horn have to offer, simply follow his steps on Facebook, and go to Horn’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel to grab your copy of Turm am Hang. As mentioned before, the experience of listening to an album by Horn is beyond unique, connecting you to the pagan and tribal origins of man and embraced all the time by superior metal music. As this is always the main goal of ambient and experimental extreme music, I must say Turm am Hang triumphs brilliantly hands down.

Best moments of the album: Alles in einem Schnitt, Verhallend in Landstrichen and Totenräumer.

Worst moments of the album: Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels.

Released in 2017 Iron Bonehead/Northern Silence Productions

Track listing
1. Alles in einem Schnitt 5:42
2. Turm am Hang 5:09
3. Verhallend in Landstrichen 5:10
4. Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz 5:00
5. Ä(h)renschnitter 5:35
6. Totenräumer 5:34
7. Lanz und Spieß 2:09
8. Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels 4:44
9. The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way (When Bitter Spring Sleeps cover) 8:12

Band members
Nerrath – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Lord Sardonyx – additional vocals on “The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way”