Album Review – Bellator / I EP (2017)

In a bold and trenchant move, three dauntless ligériens decided to save humanity from boredom with their exciting and raw mix of Power and Thrash Metal.

As the end of 2012 was drawing near, the fear that the world was coming to an inexorable and grievous finale started to grow stronger in the hearts of men. However, three dauntless ligériens (Aymeric “Tørick” Plaëtevoet on vocals and guitars, Simon “Nomis” Bonnet on bass and backing vocals, and Thibault “Wilk” Roger on drums) decided to save humanity from utter boredom by forming together a new band named Bellator (which means “warrior” in Latin, just like the famous MMA promotion company), delivering an exciting, raw mix of Power and Thrash Metal recommended for fans of bands like Metallica, Grip Inc., Megadeth and Sepultura.

Hailing from Angers, a city located in Pays de la Loire in western France, about 300 km southwest of Paris, Bellator aim at hitting us hard with the aggressiveness of the music found in their brand new EP titled I, comprised of six straightforward metallic compositions with no shenanigans or artificial elements. Having already conquered several different territories in France such as Nantes, Angers and Rennes with their music, Bellator want to expand their kingdom even more with the release of I, with circle pits and walls of death being mere formalities for these metal warriors.

The initial guitar lines by Tørick in the opening track, Fromlor Agard, already show the listener what Bellator are all about, and when he starts screaming the song’s lyrics accompanied by the metallic bass by Nomis (who also provides some sick backing vocals throughout the entire EP), the music gets even more vibrant and potent. Thrashier and therefore more violent, Petit Orc sounds like a hybrid of Megadeth, Down and Body Count, blending several elements from Thrash, Groove and Speed Metal, with highlights to the amazing job done by Tørick on both vocals and guitar while Wilk maintains the song at a great speed with his precise beats; followed by Padnom, where Nomis increases the heaviness of his bass lines, adding tons of punch to the musicality. After listening to this old school Thrash Metal chant with belligerent vocals and a headbanging rhythm, I believe you will be able to notice they sing all their songs in their mother tongue French, which ends up working extremely well for their music style.

Closer to traditional Power Metal with hints of Thrash and Death Metal, Epic is an instrumental extravaganza showcasing blazing riffs and solos by Tørick and groovy beats by Wilk, with its second half being an ode to Speed Metal the likes of Megadeth. Then we have the song that carries the name of the band, Bellator, an awesome depiction of their core essence displaying enraged growls, fiery guitars and crushing beats, with Tørick inviting us to bang our heads and scream the name of the band manically together with him. And Blood Eagle, the last track of the EP, keeps bursting the band’s trademark aggression, with Tørick and Nomis making an awesome stringed duo (not to mention the bestial deep growls by Tørick), leaning towards modern Groove Metal.

After such solid debut, all metalheads will surely be looking forward for more of Bellator’s antagonistic music in the form of a new EP or, even better, a full-length album. While we wait for their next stride, let’s keep updated with all things Bellator through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and buy a copy of their new EP at their BandCamp page, at the M.U.S.I.C. Records’ webshop or on iTunes. They might not be able to actually save the entire human race only with their music due to the endless amount of shit going on in the world right now, but I’m sure that at least they’ll be able to provide a lot of fun to metalheads worldwide with their high-octane unswerving compositions.

Best moments of the album: Petit Orc and Bellator.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 M.U.S.I.C. Records

Track listing
1. Fromlor Agard 5:33
2. Petit Orc 4:22
3. Padnom 5:38
4. Epic 4:42
5. Bellator 4:07
6. Blood Eagle 4:53

Band members
Tørick – lead vocals, guitars
Nomis – bass, backing vocals
Wilk – drums

Interview – Dimitri (Primal Age)

Do you like Metalcore? If your answer is yes, you’ll certainly enjoy this exclusive interview with Dimitri, bassist for longstanding French act Primal Age, talking about their brand new EP A Silent Wound, their commitment to nature and animal rights, how much they love the unparalleled riffs by Slayer’s deceased guitar hero Jeff Hanneman, and more.

Dimitri (Primal Age)

The Headbanging Moose: Let’s start with an introduction of the band. Although Primal Age have been on the road since 1993, there are many people who still don’t know your music. Who are Primal Age? Can you tell us more about the history of the band and your main goals in music?

Dimitri (Primal Age): We are 5 guys (Didier on vocals, Flo and Ben on guitars, Mehdi on drums, and I, Dimitri on bass). We started as one of the very first European bands mixing hardcore and metal, as Arkangel, Length of Time or Kickback. We’re known for our commitment in favor of nature and animals.

THM: Your brand new EP A Silent Wound might be short in duration, with only around 15 minutes of music, but the amount of energy and violence flowing from each one of its four tracks is simply amazing. Why did you decide to record an EP instead of a full-length album this time, and how did you select the songs that would be included in it?

Dimitri: It was a special period because of a change in our line-up. Flo and Ben have replaced Johann who had to leave the band for familial reasons. So our project with this line up was an EP to give time for the new guys. It is not obvious to be incorporated to an old band.

THM: You’re a band that has always discussed delicate and controversial topics in each one of your lyrics, such as animal rights, vegetarianism and the overconsumption of mass. For instance, my favorite song of the EP, the opening track The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization, is an acid critic to our decaying health system with a strong focus on the wrongful actions taken by the W.H.O. in the past few decades. What details can you tell us about the process to compose this specific song? What inspires you to write music, and what do your fans and critics say about the themes proposed in your lyrics?

Dimitri: The fans… some are here just for the music, and some others pay a particular attention for the topics. It’s a kind of positive revolt to compose some music with what revolts me, instead of burning my neighbor’s car ))

THM: Another top moment of the EP in my opinion is your humble tribute to the deceased Jeff Hanneman, the iconic and revolutionary guitarist of Thrash Metal titans Slayer, titled To Jeff. How did you come up with the idea of recording this excellent tribute to one of the biggest guitarist in the history of heavy music, and how did you choose which songs from Slayer would be featured in the medley? Also, did you get any feedback from any of the guys from Slayer or anyone connected to Jeff about the song?

Dimitri: As you say, Jeff was a legend who has composed some of the most famous riffs of metal music. We grew up with Slayer and we miss this guy so much, so we decided to refresh people’s minds with some of the most legendary riffs which are here to stay.

Album Review – Primal Age / A Silent Wound EP (2017)

THM: You play a solid and entertaining fusion of Thrash Metal, Hardcore and Punk Rock, which some people like to label as Metalcore. Apart from bands like Slayer, Napalm Death and Agnostic Front, what other bands and artists influenced Primal Age to become the band you’re today? And do you listen to anything outside Heavy Metal and Punk Rock? If so, which non-metal artists are part of your playlist?

Dimitri: We grew up with bands like Earth Crisis, Sepultura, Pantera, Minor Threat, Venom, Youth Of Today, Hatebreed… there are so many. Personally I’m a fan of Oi music, Cock Sparer, The Business or Last Resort are some of the bands in my playlist. But it’s only mine, each one is different and we have our own choices.

THM: A Silent Wound features a few guest vocalists that end up adding an extra touch of adrenaline to the overall result of the EP, those being Felipe Chehuan (Confronto), Julien Truchan (Benighted) and Koba (Loyal To The Grave). What’s your relationship with those musicians and their respective bands, and how did the invitations happen for them to be part of your album?

Dimitri: Benighted is a French band. We like these great guys with whom we played some shows. Felipe from Confronto is an old acquaintance we have so much respect for and we were grateful to play with Confronto in Brazil. Loyal to the Grave is a Japanese legendary band, and it was a special moment for us to share the stage with them in Japan. We’re happy to have these guys on our EP to remind us some great moments as musicians.

THM: Primal Age have already played in renowned festivals such as Free Edge Fest, Hellfest and Sonisphere, but of course as an underground heavy band you’re used to play in much smaller places like local pubs and theaters. Do you prefer playing in big festivals or at small venues? What do you feel when you’re playing in front of thousands of people as compared to a reduced crowd? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each one in your opinion?

Dimitri: We like both of these conditions. The only thing we have in mind is to give our energy to the crowd through our music, it doesn’t matter if there are 100 or 3,000 people.

THM: How has the reaction of your fans to the new songs from A Silent Wound been in your current concerts? And what are the band’s future plans in regards to touring inside and outside France, and also to releasing new material?

Dimitri: We have had a very good feedback. The new pieces are in accordance with our musical identity. We’re happy to defend this new EP on stage. We have plans in France and far from home, so, we feel lucky ))

THM: I might be wrong, but I think you have never recorded a song in your mother tongue French. Is there a specific reason for that? Are you planning on recording anything in French for your local fans, as for example a French version of one of your existing albums?

Dimitri: You’re right. I very love French lyrics, but not for what we play. English seems to be the best language for that kind of music. The other reason is to speak to everybody and to have the opportunity to play worldwide.

Primal Age

THM: What’s the current state of the metal and punk scene in France? Do you think it’s better than when the band started, or is it getting more and more difficult for new French bands to succeed in music nowadays? Which new French bands do you recommend to our readers?

Dimitri: France has never been the place to be for this music. Most of people are listening to the mainstream music you hear on TV or radio and don’t have a real culture, they just consume it, what is sad. The reputation is rather bad, but you can find some great bands. There are several great bands here in Normandy like Surounded by Sins, Elephants, Explicit Silence… so many.

THM: As you know we have a huge French-speaking community here in Canada, in the province of Quebec, where several amazing metal and punk bands are born every year. Do you know anything about the Canadian and the Quebec heavy music scene, and if so, what are your favorite bands from Canada and/or Quebec?

Dimitri: We really appreciate bands like Comeback Kids, or the first albums of Voivod we listened to when we were young. We saw them in Paris in 87 when they came for their first tour with Kreator. We also love Get the Shot, as well as Obey The Brave (with whom we played at the Bloodaxe Festival in Tokyo, Japan, in 2013).

THM: Merci beaucoup pour votre temps et votre disponibilité. Please feel free to send a final message to your fans and to the readers of The Headbanging Moose here in Canada and all over the world.

Dimitri: Thanks for the interest about the band, we really appreciate it. Maybe one day we’ll see you guys on the road.

Links
Primal Age Official Website | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | ReverbNation | Big Cartel

Album Review – Corpus Diavolis / Atra Lumen (2017)

Open your mind and follow the black light formed of ritualistic Black, Death and Doom Metal by this extremely talented horde hailing from France.

Musically conceiving a ritualistic feeling into the vibes of Black Metal, the unstoppable French horde known as Corpus Diavolis has never been tempted to lose themselves on their own musical maelstrom since their inception in 2008 in the city of Marseille, located in the always beautiful Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. After the release of their debut EP Nightsky Orgia in 2009 and their highly acclaimed full-length albums Revolucia in 2010 and Entheogenesis in 2013, the band led by multi-instrumentalist Daemonicreator brings forth now in 2017 Atra Lumen, a monumental opus tailored for fans of the darkest side of music.

Atra Lumen, which means “black light” in Latin, blends the band’s unrelenting Black, Death and Doom Metal with concepts such as Shamanism, ceremonial magic, tarot, the esoteric journey of English occultist Aleister Crowley and the philosophical transcendence of Chilean-French artist and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky, penetrating your skin, your mind and your heart and, consequently, enfolding you in a dark and mystical aura from start to finish. Each one of its eight tracks is unique, obscure and ominous, showcasing not only the talent of each member of Corpus Diavolis, but also how vicious and mesmerizing their creations feel when every distinct sound is thoroughly put together.

We’re invited to enter the gates of the underworld to the sound of the opening track, named Revelations Before Dawn, where doomed beats and a menacing ambience warm up the listener before Daemonicreator begins vociferating like a demon, with guitarists Analyser and Lord Khaos, together with bassist Funeral, delivering pure old school Black Metal through their instruments. The low-tuned riffs by Analyser and Lord Khaos and the rhythmic blast beats by drummer IX generate a hellish atmosphere in the Black Metal feast The Ardent Jewel of His Presence, once again showcasing all the potency and malignancy of the music by Corpus Diavolis; followed by L’Oeil Unique, or “the one eye” from French, uniting the most obscure forms of Black and Doom Metal (feeling almost like Blackened Doom), with highlights to the precise drumming by IX and to the Stygian way Daemonicreator declaims the song’s lyrics.

Signs Of End Times displays a truly devilish start to another powerful, full-bodied creation by Corpus Diavolis, before all hell breaks loose and Daemonicreator begins growling his blasphemous words potently, not mention the amazing job done by the duo of darkness Analyser and Lord Khaos with their demonic guitars. The next track, nicely entitled Wine of The Beast, brings forward more Doom Metal beats and somber passages by Daemonicreator and his followers, sounding slow-paced and diabolical at times, and faster and full of hatred at others. Furthermore, as a fan of extreme music, do you think you have the guts to drink the wine of the beast? Before you can even answer that, bells tolling ignite another evil aria of Black Metal titled Flesh to Flesh, again offering the most obscure elements of Doom Metal added to their already darkened music, with Analyser and Lord Khaos leading the sonority with their cutting old school riffage.

With sheer irreligiousness emanating from its riffs and blast beats, Thy Glorification is a violent, straightforward tune that leans towards Norwegian Black Metal where we can enjoy another nefarious performance by Daemonicreator on vocals, while the instrumental pieces get heavier, more impactful and more aggressive as the music progresses. And last but not least, Sick Waters, which presents a horror-inspired cinematic intro, is a very atmospheric chant focusing on the devilish gnarls by Daemonicreator and the steady but potent beats by IX. Moreover, the song’s beautiful fusion of the aggressiveness of Black Metal with the mournful aspects of Doom Metal closes the album in a blackened way, leaving us all eager for more of the extreme spawns by Corpus Diavolis.

Not only you can follow this awesome horde of esotericism and wickedness through their Facebook page and purchase your copy of Atra Lumen at several locations, such as the band’s own webshop or BandCamp, the ATMF’s webshop or BandCamp, the Season of Mist’s webshop, Amazon or Discogs (and pay attention as the physical copy of the album is limited to 400 copies only in digipak format with an extensive booklet), but Corpus Diavolis are also going to be one of the attractions at the first ATMF Festival, which will take place at the Eresia Metalfest on July 2 this year in Resia, located in the province of Udine, in Italy. In a nutshell, all you have to do to relish the extreme music by Corpus Diavolis is open your mind and your heart, surrender to their ritualistic sounds, and follow their black light formed of Black, Death and Doom Metal, as simple as that.

Best moments of the album: The Ardent Jewel of His Presence, Signs Of End Times and Thy Glorification.

Worst moments of the album: Flesh to Flesh.

Released in 2017 Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum

Track listing
1. Revelations Before Dawn 6:22
2. The Ardent Jewel of His Presence 5:52
3. L’Oeil Unique 5:54
4. Signs Of End Times 4:12
5. Wine of The Beast 6:27
6. Flesh to Flesh 4:52
7. Thy Glorification 3:37
8. Sick Waters 6:46

Band members
Daemonicreator – vocals, synths, theremine
Analyser – lead guitars
Lord Khaos – guitars
Funeral – bass
IX – drums

Album Review – Primal Age / A Silent Wound EP (2017)

One of the most influential bands in the history of underground French Metalcore brings forth four striking new songs, blending the best of Heavy Metal and Hardcore in a fresh, vibrant and honest way.

Delivering a huge amount of energy, power and passion for heavy music to their fans since 1993, always exploring important topics such as the defense of the animal rights, vegetarianism, ecology and the denunciation of the overconsumption of mass, French Metalcore act Primal Age marked the 90’s by being among the first European bands to mix Heavy Metal and Hardcore into their music, gaining a lot of positive feedback from fans of both styles. That amazing reaction from the audience opened the doors for the band to spread their music globally, sharing the stage with renowned acts like Napalm Death, Caliban, Madball, Hatebreed and Agnostic Front, as well as playing many festivals such as Free Edge Fest, Hellfest and Sonisphere and performing in distant lands like Brazil and Japan through the years.

Hailing from Évreux, a commune in Haute Normandie in northern France, Primal Age released their debut EP The Light to Purify in 1999, followed by the full-length albums A Hell Romance in 2007 and The Gearwheels of Time in 2010, while the year of 2014 saw the birth of a split album with French Metalcore band Absone named My Legacy / Eternal Struggle – The Best of 17 Years XVX 90’s Metalcore (And Still Going Strong). Now in 2017, they’re back in full force with a brand new EP titled A Silent Wound, featuring a stylish artwork by Visual Injuries and four original songs that perfectly represent their core essence and their undisputed allegiance to classic European Metalcore.

The opening track, nicely entitled The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization, is a frantic Hardcore chant boosted by hints of Death and Thrash Metal (and therefore an amazing choice for slamming into the pit) where drummer Mehdi Abou is simply insane behind his drums, while the sick growls by lead singer Didier are in total sync with the demonic strings by Benoit, Florian and Dimitri. Following that high-octane start, we have the title-track A Silent Wound, featuring Felipe Chehuan from Brazilian Deathcore band Confronto, another Punk Rock and Thrash Metal onslaught flawlessly blasted by Primal Age. Furthermore, both guitars by Benoit and Florian sound very tuneful and melodic, strengthening the song’s bestial vibe even more, which I believe will cause some “desired” body injuries and bruises to their fans during their live concerts.

Can the excellent Counterfeiters of the Science be labeled as “Tribal Metalcore”? It’s a fuckin’ furious and ruthless composition, in special the harsh and aggressive growls by Didier, with its unstoppable and vicious sounding being the epitome of the music by such distinct act. And featuring singers Julien Truchan (Benighted) and Koba (Loyal To The Grave), the remarkable Slayer medley named To Jeff is a beautiful tribute to the one and only Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.). You have to listen to it to feel its potency, but as a quick summary of what you’ll find in the music (or I should say a “spoiler”), it starts with a few nice words from Jeff himself, followed by the band’s excellent versions for parts of the all-time classics “South of Heaven”, “Dead Skin Mask” and “Raining Blood”, ending with a good chunk of “Angel of Death” and back to a “Raining Blood” finale. In my humble opinion, this is a superb homage to Jeff and there’s no way you can stay indifferent to its energy and rhythm.

This superb EP by Primal Age, which can be streamed in its entirety HERE, is on sale at several locations such as the band’s Big Cartel as a regular CD version or as a special red vinyl collector edition (limited to 100 copies only); at the Deadlight Entertainment’s BandCamp or webstore; at the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore; or on Amazon. After listening to A Silent Wound it’s easy to understand how Primal Age, who can be contacted through their Facebook page and whose music can be appreciated at their YouTube channel and ReverbNation, are still alive and kicking after almost 25 years playing underground heavy music, without selling out to the mass media. This French quintet definitely knows how to bring the best of Heavy Metal and Hardcore together in their music, always sounding fresh, vibrant, honest and loyal to their foundations. Add to that their undeniable talent with their instruments, and there you have the recipe for at least another 25 years blasting awesome music to their fans and to anyone who enjoys tons of heaviness with a good melody behind.

Best moments of the album: The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization and To Jeff.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Deadlight Entertainment

Track listing
1. The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization 3:12
2. A Silent Wound (feat. Felipe Chehuan) 3:11
3. Counterfeiters of the Science 3:35
4. To Jeff (feat. Julien Truchan & Koba) 4:20

Band members
Didier – vocals
Benoit – guitars
Florian – guitars
Dimitri – bass
Mehdi Abou – drums

Guest musicians
Felipe Chehuan – additional vocals on “A Silent Wound”
Julien Truchan – additional vocals on “To Jeff”
Koba – additional vocals on “To Jeff”

Album Review – netra / Ingrats (2017)

The perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres into a coherent stream of melancholy, might be right in front of your eyes thanks to this exquisite Urban Black Metal one-man project.

Conveying images of a grey, boring and anxiogenic city life, Urban Black Metal one-man project netra is back with its third full-length album, titled Ingrats (which is French for “ungrateful”), the perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres such as as Ambient Black Metal, Trip-Hop and moody Jazz into a coherent stream of melancholy. Put differently, the music found in Ingrats is highly recommended if you like bands such as Manes, Katatonia or Burzum, and especially if you are not afraid of trying something truly new that will defy your senses and concepts in music.

Formed in 2003 by French multi-instrumentalist Steven Le Moan in Quimper, a citiy located in Brittany, in northwestern France, netra relased its first album Mélancolie Urbaine in 2010. Two years later, netra presented the highly claustrophobic Sørbyen, recorded after relocating to the city of Gjøcik, Norway over the course of a year. In addition to that, netra also collaborated with Californian rap duo We’rewolves in 2013 to create a true hybrid between Hip-Hop and Black Metal, the EP entitled Dreading Consciousness. Now in 2017, after moving to Auckland, a major urban city in the North Island of New Zealand, Steven and his netra found the right amount of inspiration to mesmerize us once again with the Depressive Black Metal and all other styles featured in Ingrats.

Gimme a Break, a Jazz-like intro with smooth piano and drums, introduces us to the universe of Ingrats before netra’s Black Metal strikes the listener like a lightning bolt in Everything’s Fine, a dark and aggressive composition where netra manically grasps the song’s lyrics, full of anguish and hatred. Furthermore, the song’s hints of Jazz and Experimental Metal, together with some clean vocals by the end of the song, make the whole experience of listening to this multilayered tune even more exciting. In Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours, an atmospheric instrumental composition alternating between electronic music and sheer obscurity, simply close your eyes and savor its musicality, getting ready for the melancholic Live with It, continuing with netra’s wicked fusion of sounds and proving music doesn’t need to be heavy and fast all the time to be good. Its clean vocals are spot-on, not to mention the gentle balance between acoustic guitars and electronic elements, turning it into one of the top moments of the album in my opinion.

Infinite Boredom, an instrumental bridge displaying gentle piano notes under the rain, paves a gray and sorrowful path for Don’t Keep Me Waiting, a movie-inspired creation by netra where all instruments keep growing in intensity, transpiring melancholy and pain. It’s interesting to notice how the saxophone somehow “replaces” the vocal parts, with a dense background voice, as well as the song’s Atmospheric Black Metal beats, enhancing the overall darkness present in the music. And A Genuinely Benevolent Man, the most modern and electronic of all songs, blends Trip-Hop with Atmospheric Black Metal elements, with the music gradually increasing in intensity while netra delivers only a few sick growls throughout the whole song.

The hopelessness depicted by netra continues in the ambient Paris or Me, where subtle hints of Jazz and Black Metal coming from the piano and guitar lines add to this instrumental piece a delicate feeling of solitude; whereas in Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve I highly recommend you keep your eyes closed and follow netra in his walk through the dark and hazy urban streets where he lives. Bringing forward Industrial and Alternative Metal nuances, there’s no sign of happiness in the music, which can be felt through his clean but acid vocals, reminding me of some of the best creations by Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. And how about a sweet Jazz song as the closing act of this unusual album? In Jusqu’au-boutiste you’ll not only get that, but netra also offers trenchant riffs and blast beats in the best Atmospheric Black Metal style imaginable, like a sharp razor cutting our ears while the piano parts give peace to our souls, ending the album in a tempestuous fashion.

Only time will tell what’s next for the urban black metaller netra, but based on the amazing quality of the music found in Ingrats (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), I don’t think he’ll take too long to release more of his eccentric music. While we all wait for another blast of his multilayered creations, let’s keep in touch with him through his Facebook page, and purchase a copy of Ingrats through the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp (where you can find some interesting bundles like the “ultimate netra listener pack”) or official webstore in a 4 panel sleeve with 8 page booklet format or as a fantastic package containing the CD, a 11cm x 7cm all-weather vinyl netra sticker and a beyond awesome “Urban Black Metal” shirt, as well as on Amazon and on CD Baby. Now please excuse, as I’m going for a lonely walk through the dark and cold shadows of Toronto, and I guess you know which album I’ll be listening to.

Best moments of the album: Everything’s Fine, Live with It and Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve.

Worst moments of the album: A Genuinely Benevolent Man.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Gimme a Break 1:19
2. Everything’s Fine 5:24
3. Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours 3:36
4. Live with It 4:30
5. Infinite Boredom 0:44
6. Don’t Keep Me Waiting 4:32
7. A Genuinely Benevolent Man 5:10
8. Paris or Me 3:32
9. Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve 5:00
10. Jusqu’au-boutiste 5:55

Band members
netra – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Ashes To Fire / Still Waters EP (2016)

A sea of complexity and groove thoroughly presented by an auspicious French quintet that definitely knows how to craft high-quality Djent and Metalcore.

Rating5

cover-ashes-to-fire-still-watersThe subgenre of heavy music known as Djent, a development of progressive metal named for an onomatopoeia for the distinctive distorted, low-pitch guitar sound first employed by Swedish icons Meshuggah, with bands like After The Burial, Sikth, Animals As Leaders and Born Of Osiris becoming some of its biggest exponents, has been also represented worldwide since 2013 by a dexterous quintet hailing from the charming city of Bordeaux, France named Ashes To Fire. Fans of Metalcore, Djent, Hardcore and Post-Hardcore will have a great time listening to the music by these French metallers, in special the six potent compositions from their brand new EP entitled Still Waters.

Featuring members of local French bands such as Hate To Eleven, Defeat The Foe and Heaven Can Wait, Ashes To Fire offer the listener a very professional and punchy fusion of all their metal inspirations. The artwork in Still Waters, designed by French artist Serge Cleoron, features an ocean that represents the harmony among all band members while the octopus and its tentacles depict some of the band’s main influences in music like August Burns Red, Thy Art Is Murder and Born Of Osiris, among others, continuing the musical path initiated with their 2014 self-titled demo and their 2015 debut EP Karmalogy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of Djent or not, you’ll certainly sense elements from all those bands in Still Waters, and will probably start banging your head to Ashes To Fire’s powerful compositions without even noticing.

Modern sounds together with heavy guitars in the EP’s Intro kick things off in a thunderous way, before guitarists Nico and Dylan lead the Metalcore massacre Real Life, with lead singer Yas growling like there’s no tomorrow. In addition, the song gets less violent and more melodic at times, keeping the sonority always fresh in an awesome display of what this French quintet is capable of. The violence of Hardcore turns Dad And Mum into the most electrifying and complete track of the EP, where once again again Yas demonstrates all his vocal potency while Corekie and William generate a true storm of metal music with their respective rumbly, noise bass and dense beats.

photo-ashes-to-fireBringing elements from Melodic Death Metal the likes of In Flames mixed with the modern American Metalcore from August Burns Red, To Disappear displays a flawless sync between the heavy riffs by Nico and Dylan and the roaring bass by Corekie, whereas in Roots To Sheet, the sound of guitars grows and is complemented by bass and drums in another solid exhibition of Djent and Metalcore by this awesome band. Moreover, a constant, heavy ambience keeps the music at a truly dark level perfect for Yas to fire his distressed harsh vocals. Finally, a sinister intro ignites the last track in Still Waters, titled Sara, being sharply joined by the intricate bass wallops by Corekie, with Nico delivering his solid guitar solos in a sea of complexity and groove that goes on until the song’s abrupt and effective ending.

In summary, the excellent Still Waters, available at Ashes To Fire’s BandCamp page or at M.U.S.I.C. Records’ webstore, is definitely your go-to album for contemporary high-quality Djent and Metalcore, and if you want to explore the already mentioned groovy sea of heavy music created by those French metallers simply visit their Facebook page and YouTube channel, consequently showing your support and appreciation for a music style that keeps reinventing itself, proudly carrying the flag of modern metal music all over the world.

Best moments of the album: Dad And Mum and To Disappear.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 M.U.S.I.C. Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:11
2. Real Life 2:45
3. Dad And Mum 4:25
4. To Disappear 4:28
5. Roots To Sheet 4:18
6. Sara 5:04

Band members
Yas – vocals
Nico – lead guitar
Dylan – rhythm guitar
Corekie – bass
William – drums

Album Review – N.K.V.D. / Totalitarian Industrial Oppression (2016)

Join the metallic army of Industrial Black Metal brought forth by an interesting project from France inspired by dictatorship, totalitarianism and oppression.

Rating4

nkvd_tioNarodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (Russian for “People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs”), or simply N.K.V.D., was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin, being active from 1943 to 1946. Almost 60 years after its dissolution, here we have the new generation of N.K.V.D., this time an Industrial Black Metal project formed by French multi-instrumentalist Loïc.F in Montpellier, a city in southern France, blasting their disturbing and uproarious dark music inspired by dictatorship, totalitarianism and oppression, among other obscure topics from a not-so-distant past.

N.K.V.D.’s brutal, cold Black Metal has been haunting the souls of the living since 2005 with a series of outstanding releases, those being their debut EP Diktatura in 2007, their first full-length album Vlast in 2011, and finally the album Hakmarrja in 2014. By the way, an extract of the song “Hakmarrja” appears in the recently released movie The Blair Witch Project, just for you to get a sense of how obscure their music is. After a decade of existence, as both Diktatura and Vlast have been sold out for years, Loïc.F together with Krucyator Productions and Clan of Exclusion decided to release a compilation entitled Totalitarian Industrial Oppression, uniting the two records in one with a remastered version of Vlast. Featuring a tyrannical artwork by H & Secret Shelter, this special compilation offers the most solid and disquieting Industrial Black Metal you can think of, taking you to the darkest years of political repression in the history of mankind.

The menacing and phantasmagoric intro Ch.R.I kicks off the first part of the album, the EP Diktatura, opening the gates for a pulverizing Industrial Metal hymn with a true Black Metal aura titled Kadyrovski Klan, which makes Ministry and Nine Inch Nails sound like the Teletubbies so heavy it is. Moreover, Loïc.F was capable of creating such a diverse and dense sounding by himself he truly deserves to be called a one-man army, not to mention the song’s sensational marching ending. Then we have another dissonant and disturbing composition, Die Blinde Wissenschaft (or “the blind science” from German), even more furious than its predecessor and a delight for the lovers of the genre, where all spaces are filled with metallic and aggressive sounds; followed by Incipit SSSR, a song that will pierce your mind so belligerent it is, the perfect soundtrack for a warlike horror movie with the vocals by guest musician Eric Syre sounding truly demonic and full of hatred. And closing the EP we have the perturbing soundtrack-inspired track Sloboda, which somber ambience in the beginning gives place to pure epicness in the form of Industrial Metal that “marches” powerfully until the song’s end.

promo-pictureLet me warn you that the second part, the remastered album Vlast, is not going to be any lighter than Diktatura, starting with the thunderous and explosive noises that smoothly morph into mean Atmospheric Black Metal in Geheime Staats Polizei (German for “Secret State Police”), where although drums are programmed, they add an impeccable level of violence to the overall result. The second version of Incipit SSSR, featuring guest musician H.S on vocals, is as epic and obscure as the original version, with its demonic warlike aura embracing the listener while Loïc.F does a great job by adding the necessary samples to the music, making the whole song more realistic; whereas Ibn Al Khattab presents a flammable feast of blast beats, menacing voices and another killer performance by H.S, with Loïc.F creating an eruption of dark sounds in the background, turning it into one of the best tracks of the album. And in Alkhan-Kala, we face a wicked narration in the beginning followed by more sheer darkness in the form of Extreme Metal, sounding like an industrial army marching to war.

Get ready for war in the last batch of industrialism and dictatorship from Totalitarian Industrial Oppression. In Geniul Din Carpati (or “Genius of the Carpathians” from Romanian), Loïc.F definitely knows how to start a song in a very impactful way, with the strident and resonant sound of drums penetrating your mind despite the entire song not being  as gripping as the rest of the album. As industrialist as possible, Krasnaya Paranoia shows no sign of happiness or peace, with its imposing background being the perfect stage for guest vocalist Tyrant Moloch to provide his gnarls to another brutal creation by N.K.V.D., while in Socijalisticka Federativna Republika Jugoslavija we have an army chant to kick off things in a proper, ominous way. If you pay good attention to the entire album, you’ll notice this is an alternative (or more complete) version of “Sloboda”, exhibiting similar samples, rhythm and tempo changes, but with a stronger vibe and density. The last track of the album, Grozny, is simply disturbing, showcasing heavy guitar sounds and fierce drums in a solid fusion of Black and Industrial Metal, something Loïc.F has mastered doing. It’s basically an instrumental tune that would have been much more effective if slightly shorter, but still quite enjoyable.

If you want to join the metallic army of N.K.V.D. forged in their autocratic realm of Industrial Black Metal, simply visit their Facebook page for more information on this unique project. And obviously don’t forget to support the independent scene by purchasing your copy of Totalitarian Industrial Oppression by visiting their BandCamp page, the Krucyator Productions’ BandCamp page or webstore, or also at Discogs.

Best moments of the album: Kadyrovski Klan, Geheime Staats Polizei and Ibn Al Khattab.

Worst moments of the album: Geniul Din Carpati and Grozny.

Released in 2016 Krucyator Productions

Track listing
Part 1 (Diktatura EP)
1. Ch.R.I 1:14
2. Kadyrovski Klan 4:48
3. Die Blinde Wissenschaft 4:16
4. Incipit SSSR 4:42
5. Sloboda 6:39

Part 2 (Vlast)
6. Geheime Staats Polizei 5:37
7. Incipit SSSR 4:32
8. Ibn Al Khattab 3:02
9. Alkhan-Kala 4:12
10. Geniul Din Carpati 4:17
11. Krasnaya Paranoia 4:25
12. Socijalisticka Federativna Republika Jugoslavija 5:47
13. Grozny 5:11

Band members
Loïc.F – guitars, bass, programming, samples

Guest musicians
Eric Syre – vocals on “Incipit SSSR” (Diktatura version)
Masterssatan – vocals on “Die Blinde Wissenschaft”
H.S  – vocals on all Vlast album, except on “Krasnaya Paranoia”
Tyrant Moloch – vocals on “Krasnaya Paranoia”

Album Review – Ways. / Watching From Afar EP (2016)

Mixing several influences and musical styles from Alternative Rock to Post-Hardcore, this up-and-coming French quintet might be exactly what you’re looking for in modern heavy music.

Rating5

ways_watching-from-afarMixing several influences and musical styles, French Alternative Rock/Metal act Ways. might be exactly what you’re looking for in alternative music, offering a wide variety of genres in their compositions that will please fans of heavier groups such as Deftones, Marilyn Manson and Killswitch Engage, to radio-friendly bands like Foo Fighters. And that harmonious but still fierce fusion of styles can be easily witnessed in their debut EP entitled Watching From Afar, a six-track album that nicely summarizes what Ways. are capable of, their main influences and their goals with their music.

Formed in 2013 in Paris, France, this talented quintet brings forward dynamic and melodic music displaying elements from Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal and Post-Hardcore, among others, always keeping their musicality fresh and vibrant throughout the almost 20 minutes in Watching From Afar. You’ll be positively surprised by the band due to all their sudden tempo changes and variations, going from harsh and desperate screams to gentle vocals and smooth guitar sounds. Featuring a sexy artwork by French photographer Sebastien Bessac, Watching From Afar can entertain you at a pub, at home, in your car or anywhere else good music is required.

In the opening track, titled My Blue Stain, a melodic beginning quickly turns into a blend of Metalcore and Alternative Metal, with lead singer Clément smoothly transitioning from harsh screams to clean vocals. Furthermore, it’s easy to notice influences from Deftones and In Flames, among other bands, in all instruments, which is also the case in As A Duty, showcasing a lighter side of the band with Bruno and Nico doing a great job on guitars, firing gentle lines and heavier riffs in sync with the vocals by Clément. Overflowing anguish and melancholy, this nice composition displays hints of Alternative Rock (in special during the song’s calm passages) that add an extra flavor to the overall result. And in Misty Hope, despite starting in a calm and relaxing way, vocal lines keep fierce and deranged, being recommended for fans of Foo Fighters and Deftones in pursuit of a higher level of aggressiveness in music. In addition to that, drummer Tony leads the song’s pace with his rhythmic beats, increasing its effectiveness and appeal for the delight of the listener.

waysThe title-track Watching From Afar is an instrumental track that’s more progressive and introspective than everything else in the album (and also the shortest of all songs), a nice display of dexterity by all band members leading up to the melancholic tune Something To Say…, where the groovy and smooth lines by session bassist Thomas Houche, together with the atmospheric riffs by Bruno and Nico, provide all the support for another passionate performance by Clément on vocals. Watching From Afar closes with Twenty First Sectuary, the heaviest and in my opinion the best composition of the album, getting closer to Melodic Death Metal without losing the harmony of Metalcore. Not only all guitar lines by Bruno and Nico sound amazing in this chant, but Tony also pounds his drums harder than in any other song of the album, translating into more electricity and consequently accrediting it to be one of the best options for the band’s live performances.

You can get more details on the music and career by Ways. by visiting their Facebook page, YouTube channel and Instagram, and if you want to purchase Watching From Afar, simply go to their BandCamp page for a preview of the album and to get a physical copy of it, or you can also get it on iTunes, supporting not only Ways. but the entire heavy music independent scene. As previously mentioned, Ways. can offer you a wide range of heavy, classic and soft rock in their compositions, making your day better with their pleasant musicality and showing you that Watching From Afar is just the beginning and a nice sample of what’s coming next for those talented French musicians.

Best moments of the album: My Blue Stain and Twenty First Sectuary.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. My Blue Stain 3:17
2. As A Duty 4:48
3. Misty Hope 3:17
4. Watching From Afar 2:13
5. Something To Say… 3:11
6. Twenty First Sectuary 3:39

Band members
Clément – vocals
Bruno – guitar
Nico – guitar
Elo – bass
Tony – drums

Guest musician
Thomas Houche – bass (session)

Concert Review – Gojira (Metropolis, Montreal, QC, 10/21/2016)

And Gojira melted the spinal cords of all metallers in Montreal with the scorching magma flowing from their kick-ass neck-breaking music.

OPENING ACTS: TesseracT

gojira-fall-2016If you can move your neck, feel your back, walk and breathe normally, that means you didn’t attend the pulverizing performance by French icons Gojira this Friday at the neat and well-located Metropolis in Montreal, Quebec. Who cares if it was only 8 degrees outside and raining nonstop? It was a night of heavy music played to perfection, which means no weather could stop us metallers from leaving our places and head to the venue to bang our fuckin’ heads to the most important metal band in the history of France. Very few times I’ve seen such flawless interaction between band and crowd, a night that will forever be kept inside our hearts and remembered as the night Gojira beautifully conquered “La Métropole du Québec”.

img_1842Before we get to the Armageddon generated by Gojira, let’s talk about the opening act, British Progressive Metal/Rock band TESSERACT. Founded in 2003 and having released three full length albums and a few EP’s, including the 2016 EP Errai, The band formed by the talented musicians Daniel Tompkins, Acle Kahney, James Monteith, Amos Williams and Jay Postones provided the fans at the venue a very professional and technical performance, but that didn’t mean it was exciting. Quite the contrary, their whole concert felt like one endless 45-minute song so tiresome it was. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between songs, and I was about to fall asleep after just a few minutes. Well, there were many fans that had a good time during their concert, but for fans of old school stuff like Slayer, Pantera and Anthrax, for example, the concert never really clicked. They are all awesome musicians, especially Amos with his brutal and thunderous bass sounds, but overall they sound like a less metallic version of the latest (boring) album by Dream Theater. If you enjoyed the concert that’s fine, I respect it, but we must admit there were tons of other better choices to warm up the crowd for the main attraction of the night.

Setlist
Phoenix
Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception
Concealing Fate, Part 3: The Impossible
Of Matter – Proxy
Of Matter – Retrospect
Dystopia
Survival
Of Mind – Nocturne 

Band members
Daniel Tompkins – vocals
Acle Kahney – guitar
James Monteith – guitar
Amos Williams – bass
Jay Postones – drums

GOJIRA

img_1843After TesseracT was over I was feeling so bored I chugged a beer to see if that would wake me up, but I didn’t realize that wasn’t necessary because when GOJIRA started, they needed less than a second to make my blood boil again with excitement. I’m pretty sure they are considered the active volcano of their hometown Bayonne in France, in special after the release of the marvelous Magma earlier this year. When the heavier-than-hell Only Pain kicked off the concert, that’s exactly what every single person present on the floor section felt: a lot of pain in their entire bodies caused by the demented circle pits that started right at the first notes played by Gojira, and that madness didn’t stop until the very end of the night.

After that spine-crushing beginning, Gojira showed no mercy for our souls and blasted three songs made in the depths of hell aiming at destroying our necks, the amazing The Heaviest Matter of the Universe (obviously played by one of the heaviest bands on the entire planet), and their two newborn classics Silvera and Stranded. Yes, they played those three in a row for our total delectation. Not that after that it wasn’t heavy, because they only played brutal material, as for example the bestial Backbone, but that initial sequence was memorable. The only moment of peace was during Terra Inc., but that didn’t last long because Wisdom Comes came crushing our souls like there was no tomorrow. There were beer flying all over the places, fists and horns in the air, pure anarchy and tons of screaming and headbanging. I was just sweating like a wild boar, with my Pantera T-shirt, my pants and even my underwear soaking wet with my own sweat, with many other people’s sweat and with a considerable amount of beer.

img_1851I really don’t know what to say about the rest of their setlist as everything was superb, like for instance the demonic Oroborus and Vacuity. Perhaps the moment where the connection between band and fans reached its peak was during the stunning circle pit generated by the melancholic hymn Pray, a song you don’t usually expect to see that type of aggressiveness coming from the crowd. Or maybe it was when bassist Jean-Michel Labadie threw himself into the crowd in wat can be called an “enhanced stage-diving” as he was still holding (and playing) his low-tuned ax? Anyway, brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier, as well as Jean and guitarist Christian Andreu, were absolutely flawless with their instruments, captivating everyone with their powerful performances during the entire concert. Furthermore, Mario’s drum solo even made me forget how boring drum solos usually are, just for you to have an idea of how good he was.

Well, it’s already Sunday night, I’m back to Toronto and my neck still hurts to the point I have to move around like the old Robocop from the 80’s, but it’s that kind of pain we all love to endure after such an incredible concert of first-class heavy music. I might be getting old for the level of devastation brought forth by Gojira in Montreal, but you know what? The day I cannot get into a pulverizing mosh pit like that, the day I don’t consider the pain in my body caused by a Heavy Metal concert a good thing, I’ll call it a day. Merci beaucoup pour cette nuit incroyable, Gojira! À bientôt, j’espère!

Setlist
Only Pain
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
Silvera
Stranded
Flying Whales
The Cell
Backbone
Terra Inc.
Wisdom Comes
Drum Solo
The Shooting Star
Toxic Garbage Island
Pray

Encore:
Clone
Oroborus
Vacuity

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums

Album Review – Vindland / Hanter Savet (2016)

Directly from the French region of Britanny, here comes a Black and Viking Metal power trio that effectively knows how to blend aggressiveness, history and culture into extreme music.

Rating4

Vindland-Hanter-Savet2016Breton, the old native Celtic language spoken in Brittany, a cultural region in the north-west of France that became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532, also referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain), might not be the most commonly used language anymore by the Bretons, but it still plays an important role in this distinct region of France. One of the most interesting usages of Breton in modern days is undoubtedly in music and arts, like what you’ll find in Hanter Savet, the brand new album by Black/Viking Metal power trio Vindland.

The lyrics, song titles and even the album title are all written in Breton, showing how much this talented band based in the city of Paimpol is connected to their roots, therefore making the whole album more organic and heartfelt. The band was formed in 2004 and, after releasing a demo, an EP and after playing a few concerts, the band split up. In 2010, however, the band was reformed and started working on what would be Hanter Savet, and based on the potency of the music found throughout the entire album I believe this time Vindland are here to stay, delivering a well-balanced mix of the brutality found in Black Metal with the epicness and emotions of Viking and Folk Metal. Although you might not understand a single word sung by the band, I’m pretty sure you’ll have a good time listening to this Breton opus.

The aforementioned aggression of Black Metal and the burning passion of Viking Metal are already united in the opening track, named Orin Kozh. The voice by frontman Romuald is that type of devilish and strident growl perfect for extreme music, supported by a musicality that’s always evolving through time due to all tempo changes without sounding tiresome or being too lengthy in duration. Treuzwelus continues the attack from where the first song ended, presenting several Folk and Pagan Metal elements in a very creative form, with Marc being precise and energetic on drums and, consequently, providing all support Romuald and Camille need for their vocals and galloping riffs, respectively. And Serr-Noz brings forward a melodic atmosphere that captures the listener’s mind and takes him on an epic Black Metal journey, with Camille discharging a high level of excitement due to his amazing guitar lines. Moreover, its magic aura only grows in intensity as the music progresses, with innumerous elements from all types of music added as a “bonus” to the listener in the background.

vindland-bandIn Pedenn Koll, its smooth intro works as “the calm before the storm” of Melodic Black Metal that suddenly arrives, with highlights to its infernal growls contrasting with the harmony built by the guitars and to another outstanding performance by Marc on drums; while in Skleur Dallus the heavier riffs by Camille, which sound a lot closer to traditional Heavy Metal, ignite this rhythmic Pagan Metal hymn. Furthermore, the music only keeps expanding its boundaries until it embraces you completely, with even its serene breaks having a lot of energy flowing. The high-end Folk Metal composition Morlusenn displays a characteristic sonority from Scandinavian music, but with the band’s own French touch, and despite focusing a lot more on its instrumental parts it’s important to say the anguished growls by Romuald sound truly amazing and are exactly what the music needed.

The band’s versatility becomes evident in Skorneg Du, as they mutate from Folk Metal to pure old school Black Metal with Viking Metal elements in a 7-minute battle chant that lives up to the tradition of the Norsemen, as well as in Skeud Ar Gwez, an epic 11-minute aria that starts in a very progressive and atmospheric form that lasts for over three minutes until it explodes into a feast of Extreme Metal. Albeit technical and professionally composed, in my opinion the music takes too long to take off, and maybe a shorter version of it in a similar format as all other songs would have been a lot more effective. And closing the album we have the bonus track And The Battle Ended, a re-recording of the original song from their 2009 EP named Ancestors’ Age, still containing the brutality and harmony of the original version but with an updated sonority following the band’s current approach.

In summary, the region of Britanny couldn’t be in better hands in terms of heavy music than with this excellent power trio, and Hanter Savet is a very good example of how history, culture and aggressiveness always work really well when combined in music and arts in general. If you want to know more about Vindland, go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel, where you can also listen to Hanter Savet in its entirety, and if you want to purchase the aubm simply visit the Black Lion Productions’ BandCamp or Big Cartel.

Best moments of the album: Treuzwelus, Serr-Noz and Skleur Dallus.

Worst moments of the album: Skeud Ar Gwez.

Released in 2016 Black Lion Productions

Track listing
1. Orin Kozh 4:32
2. Treuzwelus 6:20
3. Serr-Noz 5:55
4. Pedenn Koll 4:39
5. Skleur Dallus 4:59
6. Morlusenn 4:58
7. Skorneg Du 7:06
8. Skeud Ar Gwez 11:30

Bonus track
9. And The Battle Ended (2016 Version) 5:37

Band members
Romuald – vocals
Camille – guitars, bass
Marc – drums