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

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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:

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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”

Metal Chick of the Month – Nicole Ansperger

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One last silver kiss before the last string decays…

We’ve already had some incredible vocalists, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists, drummers and even a saxophonist here at The Headbanging Moose among our metal chicks to properly celebrate the power and importance of women in heavy music, but never a musician like the one selected to conclude the year of 2016. Can you think of anything more unconventional (and charming) than a stunning female fiddler playing kick-ass Heavy Metal? That’s exactly the case with German bombshell Nicole Ansperger, a high-skilled mistress of Celtic Folk fiddling known for her contributions to different groups and projects such as Swiss Folk Metal band Eluveitie, German Folk Rock group Paddy Goes To Holyhead, German Folk Punk band Across the Border and German Neo-Classical Metal orchestra Haggard.

Born in 1981 in the beautiful city of Stuttgart, Germany, our talented fiddler said her strong passion for playing music came to light after listening to the music by Italian composer and virtuoso violinist Antonio Vivaldi, famous for his highly-acclaimed series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. At the age of 6, she became a student of violinist George Moradian, who knew exactly how to help her develop her style and utilize all her natural potential, always by practicing famous pieces by masters such as Vivaldi and Bach and adding her own style to those. Then, at the age of nineteen, instead of becoming part of an orchestra she ended up joining her first Folk Rock band, learning then how to do improvisations, her true passion in music. Nicole never really thought about following a career playing the violin, it was just a hobby for her at first, but since 2005 she has been involved in so many bands, projects and concerts that she was able to turn music into her main profession.

Due to a guest visit with the famous band The Hooters, she was discovered by German Folk Rock band Paddy Goes To Holyhead in 2005, later joining Folk Punk band Across the Border in 2008 and recording two albums with them, named Loyalty (2009) and Folkpunk Air-Raid (2011). In addition to that, she played several concerts with German Symphonic Metal band Haggard in 2013, such as the one and only Wacken Open Air. You can have a good time listening to her solid performances with those bands on many YouTube videos, such as Across The Border’s Loyalty, Fucked Up World and Übers Meer / Rio Reiser, as well as Paddy Goes To Holyhead’s Far Away and Great Song of Whiskey. Apart from those bands, she also played violin in the 2006 album Fairy and the Dragon (a project of Jo Naumann from Paddy Goes To Holyhead), she was a guest violinist in the 2014 album Wegweiser, by Swiss Melodic Death/Folk Metal band Abinchova as you can witness in the excellent tune Flaschengeistand she also played violin on Winter’s Judgement, by Italian band Misteyes, from their 2016 album Creeping Time.

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However, it was in 2013 when she became a member of Eluveitie that she finally conquered the world of heavy music, replacing Meri Tadić on the violin and cello on December 11 of that year, having recorded with those Swiss metallers the singles King (her solo on this tune is simply superb) and The Call of the Mountains, and the full-length album Origins, all in 2014. And in case you want to see one of her violin solos with Eluveitie, I suggest you take a listen at this soulful one announcing her first full gig with Eluveitie. When asked about how she was invited to join Eluveitie, Nicole said she was at a concert and met a guy who knew the band, who then asked her if she would be interested in playing with them. Obviously, her answer was positive, and the guy got her in contact with Swiss multi-instrumentalist Chrigel Glanzmann, the mastermind behind Eluveitie, to whom she provided some of her demos. I guess I don’t need to say how good those demos were and what resulted out of that, right? Sadly, due to her family situation, our talented fiddler had to leave Eluveitie on August 3, 2015, as it became impossible for her to be on the road with the band constantly. The departure was very harmonious, though. “Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to manage personal obligations and take care of a family alongside a life of constant touring, and Nicole’s priorities are with her family – where they should be. We are parting amicably and would like to thank Nicole for the good times and her musical contribution. It’s been an honour to share stage and studio with such a talented musician!”, commented Eluveitie, while Nicole complemented saying that “this certainly doesn‘t mean an end to my musical career. Music will always be a very important part of my life and who knows – maybe we‘ll see each other again one day.” And guess what? It didn’t take too long for Nicole and Eluveitie to meet again. For our total delight, she rejoined the band in the middle of 2016, already playing several summer festivals with the band, including the always fantastic Wacken Open Air.

When asked about her biggest challenge from all bands she has already played in her career, she mentioned the time she played with Haggard, mainly the first few gigs like the very first one in Mexico, when she had only one week to practice the entire set and hadn’t met anyone from the band before. And although she has played most of her career in Germany, she said she still wants to visit lots of different countries, naming Australia as one of her desired destinations. Finally, before you complain that I haven’t mentioned her biggest idols in heavy music, here they are to conclude this tribute to the talented Nicole! When she was a teenager, she mentioned she used to listen a lot to old school bands such as Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, switching to more contemporary and intricate groups like Opeth and Dream Theater in recent years. Well, no matter what, we have to admit our gracious Nicole has indeed an amazing taste for music.

Equipment
Diamo Carbon Violin
Viper 7 String Wood Violin
Acoustic Violin with Magnetic Pickup
Accoustic Cello Rouen 2008
Audioprotect/Vision Inear

Nicole Ansperger’s Official Facebook page

Album Review – IceThurS / Unlocked Door (2016)

Inspired by the Norse myth of the Ratatoskr, this Russian power trio brings forth nine first-class atmospheric and upbeat compositions in a unique fusion of genres labeled by the band as “Urban Folk Metal”.

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icethurs-unlocked-door-cover-1500%d1%851500x300dpi-rgbBrothers in arms, behold the rise of an awesome Russian Urban Folk Metal horde known as IceThurS who, guided by the one and only Ratatoskr, are going to put us all to dance around the fire pit and engage into some brawls to the sound of their debut full-length album, the uproarious, fun and catchy Unlocked Door (or НЕзапертая дверь in Russian). In Norse mythology, Ratatoskr, Old Norse for “drill-tooth” or “bore-tooth”, is a squirrel who runs up and down the world tree Yggdrasil, an immense mythical tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse cosmology, carrying messages between the Veðrfölnir (a hawk sitting between the eyes of an unnamed eagle that is perched on top of the tree) and the wyrm Níðhöggr (a dragon who gnaws at a root of the tree). If you got slightly lost with the explanation of who our hardworking squirrel is, just see it as a symbol of degeneration and constant change of the existing, the main ingredients of a diverse album evoking the feelings of joy, festivity, sadness, victory and defeat, sometimes all in one song.

Formed in 2011 in the city of Moscow, IceThurS bring forth a unique blend of modern Melodic Death Metal with traditional Folk Metal and Russian music in Unlocked Door, resulting in atmospheric and upbeat compositions that live up to the legacy of ancient Slavic tradition and myth. Singing about topics such as nature, paganism and Norse folklore, the power trio formed by lead singer Ekaterina Loky, guitarist Anton Garm and bassist Andrey Konurovskiy, supported by a legion of amazing guest musicians on bass, drums, backing vocals and other instruments, delivers nine distinct songs in Unlocked Door that will surely entertain you from start to finish, each one telling their own story and all being an important part of the bigger picture proposed by the band.

Get ready to start dancing and prancing while drinking a pint of mead as their Urban Folk Metal comes crushing in the opening track En Sjörövare Sagan (Пиратская Сага), where the fantastic vocals by Ekaterina guide the listener through a vibrant folk journey with highlights to the harmonious and electrified solo by Anton; followed by Gift (Дар), with its futuristic beginning morphing into modern Folk Metal with elements of Alternative Metal added to the background, while Ekaterina’s vocals continue to hypnotize us. In addition, guest bassist Igor Batsov provides the musicality his special blast of grooviness through his metallic lines, enhancing the overall quality of this solid tune. Then we are treated to a fun devastation brought forth by IceThurS entitled Compotator (Собутыльник), an explosion of Death Metal where Anton is a beast with his guitar, delivering a blend of Thrash and Death Metal riffs that sound at times like a folk version of Arch Enemy.

icethursGetting back to their foundations, the band brings forward White Road (Белая дорога), a charming Folk Metal chant where Ekaterina has a very passionate performance whereas guest drummer Efim Burak makes the song more potent and aggressive through his beats, with its second half being a violent and melodious display of modern folk. Efim continues to pound his drums in the epic and thrilling Loki (Локи), supported by guest bassist Ivan Izotov, providing Ekaterina what she needs to showcase all her vocal range throughout the entire song. And exhibiting elements from the band’s cultural background, Razguliai (Разгуляй)  reminds me of some of the creations by their countrymen Arkona, sounding very traditional but with the band’s modern touch added to it. The only issue for me is that the song loses some of its electricity after a while, despite still being very enjoyable until the end.

The rebellious War (Война) presents a powerful vocal duo comprised of Ekaterina and guest singer Dmitry Stempkovsky, an enraged song with blazing guitar lines and a very melodic atmosphere that will inspire you to raise your fists and glasses in the air, before Vengeance of Veles (Велесова месть) offers the listener once again modern extreme music mixed with traditional Russian elements. Furthermore, Ekaterina fires some sick growls while Andrey smashes his bass strings in a potent way in this beer-drinking anthem, and if you know nothing about Russian please enjoy the translation to part of the lyrics as they’re truly poetic (“Everything that existed before / And was pleasant for heart / Became our ice grave / Let the blood in the veins / Get cold / Fury has raised up / This heart”). Last but not least, the title-track Unlocked Door (НЕзапертая Дверь) is sheer heaviness blended with an intricate instrumental, all spiced up by Ekaterina’s thrilling vocal lines. Showcasing a beautiful balance between demented gnarls and folk clean vocals, this full-bodied composition perfectly depicts everything IceThurS stands for.

IceThurS and their wild Slavic music are waiting for you on their Facebook page, VKontakte and YouTube channel, and if you want to take the fast Ratatoskr home you can go to the Bud Metal Records’ BandCamp page, to the band’s Facebook shop, to iTunes or to Amazon and grab your copy of Unlocked Door. In other words, enter the world of Urban Folk Metal crafted by IceThurS, and consequently make a friendly mythological squirrel extremely happy, how about that?

Best moments of the album: En Sjörövare Sagan (Пиратская Сага), Compotator (Собутыльник) and Unlocked Door (НЕзапертая Дверь).

Worst moments of the album: Razguliai (Разгуляй).

Released in 2016 Bud Metal Records

Track listing
1. En Sjörövare Sagan (Пиратская сага) 3:47
2. Gift (Дар) 3:52
3. Compotator (Собутыльник) 3:28
4. White Road (Белая дорога) 5:03
5. Loki (Локи) 4:24
6. Razguliai (Разгуляй) 3:34
7. War (Война) 4:05
8. Vengeance of Veles (Велесова месть) 3:26
9. Unlocked Door (НЕзапертая Дверь) 3:40

Band members
Ekaterina Loky – lead vocals
Anton Garm – guitars, vocals
Andrey Konurovskiy – bass, vocals

Guest musicians
Dmitry Stempkovsky – vocals on “War”
Igor Batsov – bass on “Compotator”, “En Sjörövare Sagan”, “Gift” and “Razguliai”
Efim Burak – drums on “White Road” and “Loki”
Ivan Izotov – bass on “White Road” and “Loki”
Svetlana Faliy, Egor Palenik, Jana Artekovskaya, Jaroslav Minchenko, Nancy Dardis, Larissa Kolesnikova, Vladislav Ivanov, Eugene Chub, Dmitri Kalinin – backing vocals, choir