Album Review – Aephanemer / Prokopton (2019)

Blending the fury and harmony of Scandinavian metal with symphonic elements, here comes a French Melodic Death Metal unity ready to show the world what they got with their sophomore album.

If you’re a fan of modern-day Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy, The Agonist, In Flames and Soilwork, I’m sure you’ll love the music found in Prokopton, the sophomore full-length album by French metallers Aephanemer. Blending the fury and harmony of the traditional Scandinavian sound from the Gothenburg scene with several distinct symphonic and epic elements, this talented French four-piece army will captivate your senses with the potency, speed and intricacy found in each one of the eight tracks of their brand new opus, positioning them as one of the most interesting and promising names not only of the current metal scene in their homeland France, but anywhere else in the world where the modernity and specially the intensity of Melodic Death Metal are truly appreciated.

Formed in 2013 in Toulouse, capital of France’s southern Occitanie region, as a one-man band by guitarist Martin Hamiche to release six instrumental pieces inspired by his Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal heroes (with the 2014 EP Know Thyself being forged of those six songs), Aephanemer, which is the merger of the French words “éphémère” (ephemeral) and “fânée” (folded), have been making a name for themselves since becoming a full-bodied group in 2015 when vocalist and guitarist Marion Bascoul, bassist Anthony Delmas (replaced by Lucie Woaye Hune in 2017) and drummer Mickaël Bonnevialle joined Martin in his quest for heavy music. Featuring a classy artwork by Niklas Sundin (Cabin Fever Media), mixed by Dan Swanö (Unisound AB) and mastered by Mika Jussila (Finnvox Studios), Prokopton is an amalgamation of everything the band stands for and what we can expect from them in the future, sounding as exciting as it can be from start to finish.

An epic, Arch Enemy-inspired intro morphs into a more symphonic version of Melodic Death Metal led by Martin’s razor-edged riffs and Marion’s demonic roars in the title-track Prokopton, flowing flawlessly like an arrow high in the sky until its grand finale; whereas  background orchestrations set the tone for the also inspiring The Sovereign, where Mickaël dictates the rhythm with his precise beats while Marion, Martin and Lucie offer the listener a feast of flammable sounds. Epicness keeps flowing from their music in Dissonance Within, another dense, multi-layered composition bringing the best elements from Symphonic and Melodic Death Metal where Marion growls its rebellious lyrics like a she-demon (“Time to fight, no backing down / For I will have no rest until my skill prevails / Disembodied, a whistling sound / The singing of my blade ravages the plain”), and flirting with Symphonic Black Metal at times, Snowblind is a fun headbanging extravaganza with highlights to the pounding drums by Mickaël and another thunderous performance by Marion on vocals, not to mention the song’s majestic atmosphere.

At Eternity’s Gate is an instrumental bridge the likes of Gamma Ray and Arch Enemy that sets the stage for the thrilling Back Again, perfect for slamming into the pit and enjoying a cold pint of beer while the quartet crushes our heads with their instruments, with the band’s stringed trio being in absolute (and totally awesome) sync. In the very progressive, intricate and exciting Bloodline, Marion takes the lead with her Black Metal-like gnarls while the rest of the crew doesn’t let the electricity go down, firing stunning guitar riffs and solos, thunderous bass punches and smashing beats. And last but not least, in the dark and imposing If I Should Die poetry flows majestically form its lyrics (“Maybe it is going to take me nowhere / But I reckon not having to go anywhere / I don’t keep any illusion to hold dear / I just need to be ready to disappear / Void comes from the self alone / Fear from what we believe we own / Stoics across time give an advice / May death be daily before our eyes”) while all band members showcase their refined skills, resulting in a hybrid of a metal opera with the devastation of extreme music.

In a nutshell, Aephanemer are ready to take you on a fun and thrilling music journey through the realms of contemporary Melodic Death Metal with Prokopton, and all you have to do to join them is following the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase their new album directly from their BandCamp page or from iTunes or Amazon, where by the way the album comes with instrumental versions for each and every song as a beyond special bonus from the band to you. Mr. Martin Hamiche had a dream when he started Aephanemer, and now based on the high quality of the music found in Prokopton we can say without a shadow of a doubt that dreams not only do come true, but sometimes they also kick some serious ass for our total delectation.

Best moments of the album: The Sovereign, Dissonance Within and Bloodline.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Primeval Records

Track listing
1. Prokopton 5:13
2. The Sovereign 5:17
3. Dissonance Within 6:12
4. Snowblind 4:24
5. At Eternity’s Gate 2:55
6. Back Again 5:50
7. Bloodline 5:29
8. If I Should Die 9:08

Band members
Marion Bascoul – vocals, rhythm guitar
Martin Hamiche – lead guitar
Lucie Woaye-Hune – bass
Mickaël Bonnevialle – drums

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Album Review – Garden of Sinners / Truthsayers (2018)

A classic metal album where sci-fi meets reality and where reality crosses the darkest theories of world domination, courtesy of a newcomer French act that loves traditional Heavy and Power Metal from the bottom of their hearts.

Formed in 2013 under a different name by guitarists Lizee Bauwens and Thierry Villard in La Rochelle, a coastal city in southwestern France, Heavy Metal warriors Garden of Sinners (whose name was by the way inspired by the beyond fantastic song “Gardens Of The Sinner”, by German Power Metal masters Gamma Ray) are releasing now in 2018 their debut full-length album entitled Truthsayers, a must-have for fans of renowned acts such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Halloween and Gamma Ray, who are always in pursuit of new bands from the independent scene who can be considered a nice “alternative” to those bigger names. Put differently, we all know those iconic bands we love so much cannot last forever, and those five French metallers are among us to keep the fires of traditional Heavy Metal burning bright and to proudly carry that flag as high as the sun wherever they go.

After a couple of years of writing new material and playing a few festivals and concerts, Garden of Sinners finally reached a stable lineup in 2018 with the arrivals of lead singer Guy Boutet and drummer Edgar Decrolière, who together with Lizee, Thierry and bassist Max Descubes are ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with their honest and electrifying heavy music. Featuring a stylish artwork by JP Fournier Illustration (Avantasia, Edguy), Truthsayers is a classic metal album where sci-fi meets reality, and where reality crosses the darkest theories of world domination, therefore bringing an extra dosage of epicness to each one of the 11 flammable tracks of the album and making the experience of listening to the music by Garden of Sinners much more fun than your regular metal album.

In the opening track Downfall the band starts firing sheer Power Metal in less than a second to your metallic ears, with Guy delivering high-pitched, tuneful vocal lines the likes of André Mattos, Tobias Sammet and Michael Kiske, while the “co-ed” guitar duo Lizee and Thierry brings tons of adrenaline to the music with their riffs and solos. Then we have the title-track Truthsayers, a mid-tempo, classic Heavy Metal tune led by the rhythmic beats by Edgar where once again Guy has an amazing vocal performance, boosting the song’s impact; and In Flames, another old school Heavy Metal hymn that will please fans of renowned German bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray, Edguy and so on, with the band’s stringed trio being in absolute sync, speeding up their pace and delivering thunderous and sharp riffs and punches from start to finish.

In the excellent New Dimension, an inspiring intro morphs into another fast and straight-to-the-face sonority, showcasing a great job done by Thierry and Lizee with their riffs and solos, as well as Edgar and his steady and powerful drums, with the music flowing powerfully until its gripping conclusion; whereas in Deliverance the quintet adds subtle hints of the classic Hard Rock by Van Halen into their Power Metal, but of course with their more galloping, epic vein taking the lead while Guy nicely tells the story proposed through his potent singing. Sounding like a hybrid between Gamma Ray and Helloween from their Walls of Jericho album, Savage is a highly recommended song for heading into the battlefield or simply savoring a beer while raising your fists and singing along with the band, with its second half being a fun Power Metal sonic masturbation, and drinking from the fountain of modern-day European Power Metal the band offers another fast-paced, electrifying tune entitled Inside The Mirror, with the awesome shredding delivered by the band’s guitar duo and the precision with which Edgar pounds his drums being the metallic catalysts of awesomeness found throughout the entire song.

Ignition is a classic and inspiring song perfect for hitting the highway, with Guy sounding fantastic on vocals while his bandmates blast the purest metal waves you can think of, creating an upbeat atmosphere for lovers of the genre and setting the stage for the also electrifying In This Land, bringing forward an old school sounding spearheaded by the thrilling drums by Edgar and the rumbling bass by Max, with Thierry and Lizee once again slashing their strings, keeping the album at a high level of awesomeness. Rise, the second to last Power Metal exhibit by Garden of Sinners, slows things down a bit, becoming a more rhythmic headbanging tune where the whole band is very precise with their instruments, albeit not as fun as the rest of the album, before an instrumental sonic voyage by this talented French act, named The Time Traveler, closes the album by bringing cutting riffs, epic drums, classic breaks and endless electricity, clearly inspired by traditional instrumental pieces by Iron Maiden like “Transylvania” and “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)”.

Do you want to take an invigorating stroll through the Garden of Sinners? If your answer is yes, simply go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on YouTube, listen to Truthsayers in full on Spotify, and obviously buy your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Amazon. As aforementioned, Garden of Sinners are not here to reinvent the wheel nor revolutionize the world of heavy music, but they do have a very clear and concise goal in mind, and that is to keep playing old school Heavy Metal until the end. And based on how awesome their music sounds in Truthsayers, that end is (fortunately) very far from happening.

Best moments of the album: Downfall, New Dimension and Inside The Mirror.

Worst moments of the album: Rise.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Downfall 4:32
2. Truthsayers 4:13
3. In Flames 5:05
4. New Dimension 5:48
5. Deliverance 5:15
6. Savage 4:26
7. Inside The Mirror 3:24
8. Ignition 4:33
9. In This Land 5:25
10. Rise 4:21
11. The Time Traveler (instrumental) 8:31

Band members
Guy Boutet – vocals
Lizee Bauwens – guitars
Thierry Villard – guitars
Max Descubes – bass
Edgar Decrolière – drums

Album Review – Black Box Warning / Attendre La Mort EP (2018)

A high dosage of Sludge and Doom Metal split in five corrosive tracks recommended for fans of devastatingly heavy, sulfur-smelling tunes, courtesy of an up-and-coming French power trio.

Their medicine is not a syrup. Formed in 2015, French Doom/Sludge Metal band Black Box Warning is here to offer us all a heavy über rhythm section, staggering as a depressive overdose of neuroleptics ready to commit the irreparable to silence the voices in his head, obscure guitar sticks and a black tar singing that graze your brain and you inexorably asphyxiate neurons. Comprised of Kevin Dubois d’Enghien on vocals and guitar, Hervé Bettios on bass and Julien Rousset on drums, this French unity is releasing their debut EP titled Attendre La Mort, or “waiting for death” in English, featuring a dark artwork by Gilles Da Costa and five corrosive and downtrodden tracks highly recommended for fans of devastatingly heavy, sulfur-smelling tunes à la Crowbar, Primitive Man and Old Man Gloom.

It takes the power trio only a few seconds to blast an overdose of heavy, sluggish sounds in the opening track, titled 5 mg, with Kevin firing some deep, obscure growls while Hervé and Julien keep the music dense, menacing and thunderous with their sharp bass lines and beats, respectively. Then faster, more aggressive beats and tones ignite another Sludge and Doom Metal extravaganza by the power trio, this time lowering the dosage and naming it 4 mg, before morphing into that old school sluggish-as-hell Stoner Metal sonority we all love so much. Furthermore, the strident sound of the guitar by Kevin brings a touch of finesse to the music, boosting its impact and taste considerably, with its last part being a frantic fusion of sounds with Julien smashing his drums furiously while Hervé extracts devilish roars from his bass guitar.

1 mg, the lowest dosage of the album, begins in the most traditional Sludge Metal way, flowing smoothly but at the same time violently from start to finish, with highlights to its neck-breaking rhythm led by the intricate beats by Julien; and the distorted bass by Hervé kicks off the most Stygian of all tracks of the EP, 2 mg, with the beats by Julien getting more intense and vibrant while Kevin slashes his guitar strings mercilessly, generating a rumbling and captivating sonority. And 3 mg, the last track of the EP, brings sheer aggressiveness and heaviness spearheaded by Kevin and his demonic gnarls, resulting in another tune perfect for banging your head nonstop with the band’s stringed duo blasting flammable, metallic lines while Julien once again doesn’t show any mercy for his drums.

In case you want to have an overdose of Black Box Warning, you can enjoy all 15 mg of the corrosive Sludge and Doom Metal found in Attendre La Mort at once on YouTube or on Spotify, and purchase your copy of the album from their official BandCamp page, as well as from several other locations. In addition, you can also keep an eye on all things Black Box Warning by following them on Facebook, on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and never miss your necessary dosage of crushing riffs and aggressive roars thanks to this talented power trio of Sludge Metal doctors.

Best moments of the album: 4 mg.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. 5 mg 3:37
2. 4 mg 5:54
3. 1 mg 4:28
4. 2 mg 5:47
5. 3 mg 3:26

Band members
Kevin Dubois d’Enghien – vocals, guitar
Hervé Bettios – bass
Julien Rousset – drums

Album Review – Ophe / Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude (2018)

An avantgarde and experimental album of Black Metal infused with dark atmospheres and nuances, meticulously put together by a one-man army hailing from France.

Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude, or “letter to the sad comfort of solitude” from Latin, is not only the brand new album by French Avantgarde Black Metal one-man army Ophe, but also a very avantgardish and experimental piece of Black Metal fixing without any doubt a new limit to the borders of a sound that is a personal mix of Extreme Metal, avantgarde music and dark atmospheres. Recorded and mixed by Edgard Chevallier at Lower Tones Place Studio, and featuring a glamorous artwork painted by the talented French artist Jeff Grimal, Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude will bring an obscure joy to the hearts of fans of the music by bands such as Fleurety, Blut Aus Nord, Manes, Anorexia Nervosa and Aevangelist.

Formed in 2015 in Châtillon, a commune in the southwestern suburbs of Paris, by multi-instrumentalist Bargnatt XIX, better known for being the voice and guitar for French Avantgarde project Område, Ophe will certainly crush your senses throughout the 36 minutes of distorted passages, wicked noises and eerie gnarls in Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude, with the sonic extravaganza crafted by Bargnatt XIX being beautifully complemented by the saxophone schizophrenia delivered by guest musician Val Dorr (of Aevangelist). In other words, open your mind, let the music by Ophe penetrate deep inside your soul, and the way you view extreme music will never be the same again.

In the opening track, titled Somnum Sempiternum (which means “everlasting sleep” or ‘eternal sleep” from Latin), Bargnatt XIX begins firing Stygian riffs and blast beats together with his hellish gnarls in a vibrant and classy display of Atmospheric Black Metal, with the music getting darker, more fiendish and more demented as time goes by. Furthermore, the wicked saxophone sounds by Val Dorr add a touch of lunacy to the overall result, making the whole song even more delightful. Then we have Decem Vicibus (or “ten times” from Latin), a very obscure composition with the spoken words by Bargnatt XIX sounding smooth but perturbing at the same time, not evolving to any regular type of music you might be accustomed to. Well, that’s the beauty of Ambient Black Metal, as the creepiest sounds can become high-quality music just like that. And medieval, somber background noises set fire to an uncanny creation by Ophe named in XVIIII, with the sax by Val Dorr sounding even more disturbing than before, while Bargnatt XIX’s deep, enraged roars match perfectly with the hypnotizing heavy sounds emanating from all other instruments, in special the delicate and electrified guitar riffs and solos.

Missive Amphibologique D’Une Adynamie A La Solitude, a long and stylish song name that means “amphibological missive of an adynamy to loneliness” from French, is an 11-minute phantasmagoric aria that can easily be used as the soundtrack to your darkest nights, with its blast beats and ferocious growls bringing total chaos to our souls. And the song’s intense insanity goes on and on, with no sign of happiness or joy, courtesy of Bargnatt XIX and Val Dorr who generate a wall of strained, striking and grim sounds and tones in what can be considered a “controlled chaos”. Lastly, after such grandiose havoc it’s time to slow things down in Cadent, where Bargnatt XIX soothes our souls with his semi-acoustic lines embraced by an apocalyptic background to give it a beyond atmospheric vibe, closing the experimental journey by our skillful one-man army in a beautiful way.

In case you want to join the eccentric world of Bargnatt XIX and his Ophe, you can visit the project’s Facebook page for more details about such distinct endeavor, listen to Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude on Spotify, and purchase the album from Ophe’s own BandCamp page, from My Kingdom Music’s Big Cartel page, from the Season of Mist webstore, and from the JPC webstore, as well as from your regular retailers iTunes, Amazon and Discogs. And if this enticing album is Bargnatt XIX’s personal letter to the sad comfort of solitude, I can’t wait to see who or what he’s going to write a letter to next.

Best moments of the album: Somnum Sempiternum and XVIIII.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. Somnum Sempiternum 8:38
2. Decem Vicibus 4:33
3. XVIIII 5:45
4. Missive Amphibologique D’Une Adynamie A La Solitude 10:40
5. Cadent 5:16

Band members
Bargnatt XIX – vocals, all instruments, programming

Guest musician
Val Dorr – saxophone

Album Review – Ways. / Aftermath EP (2018)

One of the most promising alternative bands from France returns with another powerful, dynamic and melodic display of modern-day rock and metal music.

After a promising career start with the release of their debut EP Watching From Afar, in 2016, Paris-based Alternative Rock/Metal act Ways. is back with the second installment of their always-evolving musical path, entitled Aftermath, an 8-track EP that brings all the band’s characteristic elements from their previous release, sounding powerful, dynamic and melodic throughout its almost 27 minutes of music.

Featuring a minimalistic and stylish artwork by Maxime Larrouturou, Aftermath once again presents an inspired band mixing several influences and styles in their music, from Alternative Rock and Metal to Post-Hardcore, while at the same time maintaining a very cohesive and solid core essence. Comprised of Clément on vocals, Bruno and Nico on the guitars, newcomer Niko on bass, and Tony on drums, Ways. are ready to strike once again with their uncompromising, unrelenting and modern music, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time listening to their unique creations in Aftermath.

Sheer melancholy flows from the guitars by Bruno and Nico in the introspective intro Twilight Until Dawn, before the band begins firing an acid message together with their aggressive, adrenaline-fueled instrumental in the modern-day Alternative Metal tune Death Row, with Clément growling the song’s lyrics in a desperate and anguished mode (“But the people around me / Don’t seem to want to play with me. / My neighbors, day after day, / Are caught, / The cages emptied and filled, / The door is closed behind me, / I believe in a game full of life and joy”). In However…, Rock N’ Roll riffs are blended with the more aggressive lines of Alternative Metal, with Tony smashing his drums and, consequently, giving the song a stronger vibe, while Clément presents some cleaner vocals amidst his furious screams; whereas in And Nobody Cares, Ways. accelerate their speed and increase their electricity, bringing hints of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore to their characteristic sonority. In a nutshell, this is the song tailored for banging your heads nonstop, thanks to the crushing riffs by Bruno and Nico and the violent beats by Tony.

So Far So Good brings forward a belligerent sound led by the razor-edged riffs by the band’s guitar duo, while bassist Niko joins Tony to create a beyond dense background. Then we have a somber, pensive instrumental bridge titled Thirteen, setting the tone for the also fierce With Love, the most alternative of all songs from the EP, ignited by the metallic bass by Niko and with Clément delivering his piercing clean vocals as well as his deranged growls while the rest of the band fires melodious and heavy sounds from start to finish. And lastly, as a bonus track the band offers us all I See No Beauty, showcasing more of their slashing Alternative Metal and Rock and presenting austere lyrics about ecology, global warming, poaching and animals mistreatment (“Dropped in the jungle, / Still so young, / I try using violence, / I test, / I experience, / I grow up and feed myself / I see no beauty in the species that made me”).

To sum up, the second step in the career of Ways. is beyond solid and promising, showcasing a band that’s even sharper and more focused than before, and if you want to show your support to this French quintet go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on YouTube, and purchase Aftermath (which is available for a full listen on Spotify or on YouTube) from the band’s own BandCamp page. I’m certain that the next step for this talented Post-Hardcore/Metal act will be the release of their first full-length album, which will represent the combination of a lot of hard work, dedication and energy, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes for that to happen, if it’s as half as good as the music found in Aftermath it will certainly be worth the wait.

Best moments of the album: Death Row and And Nobody Cares.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Twilight Until Dawn 2:01
2. Death Row 3:14
3. However… 3:13
4. And Nobody Cares 3:32
5. So Far So Good 3:44
6. Thirteen 2:20
7. With Love 6:02

Bonus track
8. I See No Beauty 2:41

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

Album Review – Lebowskii / Liquidators EP (2018)

Presenting a fast, groovy and electrified fusion of 80’s and 90’s Thrash Metal with traditional Heavy and Death Metal sounding, please welcome a promising new act from the French underground scene.

It’s time for The Headbanging Moose to take a short and extremely fun and heavy trip to Nantes, a city on the Loire River in the Upper Brittany region of western France, to slam into the pit to the flammable Thrash Metal blasted by a brand new group in the French independent scene that goes by the name of Lebowskii. If you’re a diehard fan of bands such as Slayer, Death, Megadeth, Cannibal Corpse, Metallica and Tool, you’ll have a great time listening to the music by this four-piece act comprised of Damien on vocals and guitar, Jonathan on vocals and bass, Boris on the guitar and Laurent on drums. Together those four French horsemen are releasing their debut EP, titled Liquidators, presenting a high-octane, groovy and electrified fusion of 80’s and 90’s Thrash Metal with traditional Heavy and Death Metal sounding.

In the opening track, titled Why Are We Falling Down?, we already get to know who Lebowskii are, as we face four metallers crushing our heads with their fiery mix of Thrash and Groove Metal. Moreover, Laurent shows all his fury through his fierce beats in this great composition highly recommended for banging your head and cracking your spine, while Damien leads the battle with his enraged screams. Then we have Haunting A Shell Of Flesh, slightly slower but heavier than its predecessor due to the smashing drums by Laurent, also presenting hints of the Thrash Metal by Slayer and Testament, with Boris bringing a welcome balance to the song’s neck-breaking core rhythm with his precise guitar lines. And leaning towards modern Thrash Metal (without losing its old school vibe) the band offers us all the title-track Liquidators, bringing forward a great riffage by Boris while Damien effectively screams and shouts the song’s violent lyrics,supported by Jonathan and his backing vocals, who also delivers groovy, solid bass lines during the entire song.

Their feast of contemporary metal blended with traditional riffs and beats from Bay Area Thrash goes on in Your Brain Is Just Insane, another song tailored for headbanging nonstop with the band where Damien and Jonathan once again make a great duo on vocals, pumping up the listener to scream and shout together with them. Lastly, closing the EP the band blasts more aggression in the form of music in Narrow Minded, a song where you’ll be able to enjoy Lebowskii in their most Groove Metal mode, with the sound of bass and drums being truly thunderous. In addition, when you reach this point of the EP you’ll realize that although all five songs are longer than your usual Thrash Metal tune (mainly due to the progressiveness added by all band members with their refined techniques), that doesn’t mean they get tiresome or boring. Quite the contrary, Lebowskii are a band that knows how to captivate our attention for an extended period of time, no matter how long their compositions might be.

If you are a fan of straightforward heavy music with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, then you should definitely give Lebowskii a try by liking their Facebook page, and obviously by buying your copy of the ass-kicking EP Liquidators through their BandCamp page or through the M.U.S.I.C. Records webstore. This is the type of music that once it gets into your day-to-day playlists, it will stay there forever, and you’ll find yourself banging your head to the flammable riffs and hardcore attitude by Lebowskii over and over again. As a matter of fact, remember we’re talking about a five-track EP only, which makes me wonder how insane a full-length album by such promising band shall sound like (and I hope Lebowskii deliver that sooner than later, for our total delight).

Best moments of the album: Why Are We Falling Down? and Liquidators.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 M.U.S.I.C. Records

Track listing
1. Why Are We Falling Down? 5:50
2. Haunting A Shell Of Flesh 5:58
3. Liquidators 5:12
4. Your Brain Is Just Insane 5:47
5. Narrow Minded 6:26

Band members
Damien – guitar, vocals
Jonathan – bass, vocals
Boris – guitar
Laurent – drums

Album Review – Vanguard X Mortem / Amberosia (2018)

A blend of atmospheric and symphonic extreme music known as “Vampyric Metal”, highly recommended for all admirers of the underworld with an insatiable lust for fresh blood.

There are several amazing bands out there who play what fans like to call “Vampire Metal”, or that at least add a few strong elements of this idiosyncratic subgenre of heavy music to their sound, such as Powerwolf, Theatres Des Vampires, Lord Vampyr, Cain’s Dynasty, Draconian, Lacrimosa, Mandragora Scream, Type O Negative, and perhaps the biggest exponent of the genre, British titans Cradle Of Filth, just to name a few. Hailing from the French capital Paris, here comes a very interesting project named Vanguard X Mortem, also venturing through the realms of Vampyric and Baroque Metal and, consequently, joining all the aforementioned bands in the comfortable darkness where vampires reign supreme.

Formed in 2011 by guitarist and songwriter Christophe Florian (also known as L.C.F), from bands like Comédie Macabre and Lords of the Cemetery, Vanguard X Mortem birthed in stylistic blending of Atmospheric and Symphonic Extreme Metal to create their debut album titled [vanguardismortem], in 2012, followed by the full-length album Neptune Fragrance, in 2014, and the EP Anthropomorphism, in 2016. And Christophe returns now in 2018 with a brand new opus entitled Amberosia, a powerful and somber album of extreme music featuring a fiendish artwork by RectopusArt, highly recommended for all admirers of the underworld with an insatiable lust for fresh blood.

The phantasmagoric keys in the horror movie-inspired intro Séraphin set the stage for Christophe and his Vanguard X Mortem to darken our minds in Amberosia, where blazing riffs and an ominous aura permeate the air before Christophe begins firing his vampyric gnarls, accompanied by the ethereal voice by Alix Rousselet. Furthermore, its headbanging, heavy and somber pace is spiced up by elements from old school Cradle of Filth, therefore enhancing its impact on the listener. La Morte Amoureuse, which is French for “the dead woman”, is top-notch Gothic Metal bringing all elements we love in the genre such as theatrical keyboards, slashing riffs, sexy female vocals and huge doses of melancholy, with a fantastic job done by the band’s skillful trio with their instruments, in special Chrisophe with his devilish guitar; whereas Automn Orchard feels and sounds more romantic and melodic, but with the demonic vocals by Christophe giving it a harsher twist in a solid fusion of Gothic Rock and Metal with Atmospheric Extreme Metal. Alix once again embellishes the music with her delicate vocals, while drummer Marco De Barros keeps the pace as mournful and obscure as possible with his Doom Metal-ish beats.

In the excellent Parish of Disillusionment the band offers us orchestral and symphonic music thoroughly fused with Extreme Metal, resulting in a song perfect for breaking your neck headanging while its fiery keys penetrate deep inside your mind, feeling absolutely macabre from start to finish. Then we have L’Emperesse (or “the empress” in English) beautifully impersonated by Alix, who effectively tells us who the empress is and how evil and mischievous she can be, all embraced by nuances of epicness and mystery flowing from the band’s impactful Symphonic Gothic Metal, followed by Nocturne in the Moonlight, carrying a classic song name for a flammable hybrid of Gothic Metal and Symphonic Black Metal. In addition, the paradox between the hellish gnarls by Christophe and the operatic vocals by Alix brings a very interesting taste to the music, not to mention the song’s amazing guitar riffs and solos.

The Flower’s Blood is another song that puts together in a compelling way the more brutish sounds emanated by Christophe and Marco with the angelic voice of Alix, all boosted by its background symphonic elements; while Solstice, the second to last ode to vampirism by Vanguard X Mortem, sounds as dark as expected, but not as exciting as the rest of the album, falling flat after a while despite still bringing some interesting guitars and keys. And in the eerie outro If the End…, gracious and smooth lines make the perfect ambience for Alix to mesmerize us once again with her lecherous vocals, concluding the album on a high note.

If you’re one of those creatures who only come out at night and enjoy a good blend of atmospheric, symphonic and heavy music as the soundtrack of your never-ending nocturnal quest for blood, I highly recommend you go check what Vanguard X Mortem are up to on Facebook, YouTube, ReverbNation and SoundCloud, and of course purchase Amberosia through the Noir Carrousel Records Big Cartel as a regular CD or as a special CD + T-shirt bundle, as well as at other online retailers like Cultura and Fnac. And then you’ll become addicted not only to fresh human blood, but also to French Vampire Metal.

Best moments of the album: La Morte Amoureuse, Parish of Disillusionment and Nocturne in the Moonlight.

Worst moments of the album: Solstice.

Released in 2018 Noir Carrousel/Socadisc

Track listing     
1. Séraphin 1:51
2. Amberosia 6:45
3. La Morte Amoureuse 5:16
4. Automn Orchard 4:41
5. Parish of Disillusionment 4:34
6. L’Emperesse 4:32
7. Nocturne in the Moonlight 3:46
8. The Flower’s Blood 5:17
9. Solstice 4:48
10. If the End… 3:14

Band members
Christophe Florian – vocals, guitars, programming
Alix Rousselet – female vocals, violin
Marco De Barros – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Marjolaine Bernard

Behind shivering drops of my soul… Dancing under a dry sky the void’s pouring inside…

Let’s take a flight to Paris, the capital and most populous city of France, where among several activities and attractions you can visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral, or simply find a traditional French café on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées to enjoy a nice, traditional croissant. If you’re a metalhead, there are also some excellent metal pubs and venues for you to go, such as Le Black Dog, James Hetfeeld’s and Le Cavern, and if you’re lucky enough you might enjoy a live concert by Wildpath, a female-fronted Symphonic Power Metal band formed in Paris in 2001 where, since 2008, our metal chick of the month has been giving life to their lyrics. I’m talking about French vocalist Marjolaine Bernard, a very talented and young musician who will certainly attract the attention of fans of melodic female voices like Floor Jansen and Tarja Turunen.

Born on June 4, 1983, Marjolaine started in the world of music at a very young age, first with the piano, then by joining a choir after watching a children’s concert, and since then she has never stopped singing. Furthermore, our French girl has been singing metal for a long time, being part of different small independent bands as a teenager and being clearly inspired by names like Floor and Tarja. However, Marjolaine stated that, despite Floor and Tarja (among other renowned vocalists) still being a reference to her, they’re not necessarily what she listens to nowadays and she doesn’t see herself as a Symphonic Metal singer, but just as a musician among other musicians trying to work with her voice in the best way possible, always in line with the music being played.

Marjolaine and her bandmates from Wildpath draw inspiration to create their music from several distinct sources, from electro to reggae, from metal to ambient music, like a giant melting pot. Furthermore, she mentioned she loves movie scores and soundtracks, being highly influenced by amazing composers such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, also getting ideas from music from video games. She said that metal is a style where you’re allowed to let go with musical expressions and experimentations, and that’s the path that’s being constantly explored by the band in recent years. Forging elements from rock, metal, electro, folk, symphonic and traditional music, always caring for harmony and energy, Wildpath are a band in continuous evolution, and Marjolaine’s voice is exactly what the music needs to become more lively and appealing, as you’ll see below when we talk about her career with the band.

However, before Wildpath, there was Ad Vitam Aeternam, which is Latin for “To (or Towards) Eternal Life”, a Melodic Gothic Metal band formed in 1999 in Paris with whom Marjolaine played until 2005. She recorded the album Abstract Senses with Ad Vitam Aeternam in 2004, that being the only official release by the band since their inception. You can take a listen at the entire album HERE, or also enjoy individual songs from the album such as Dementia and In The Throes of Apocalypse, always paying attention to how different the music style by Ad Vitam Aeternam was from Wildpath, which only shows how versatile Marjolaine is as a vocalist.

It was in the year of 2008 that she finally joined Wildpath, which as already mentioned was formed back in 2001 by keyboardist Alexis Garsault and guitarist Olivier Caron in Paris, having released their debut album Nyx Secrets in 2005 (without Marjolaine on vocals, obviously). After Marjolaine became the lead singer for Wildpath, the band released three full-length albums, Non Omnis Moriar in 2009 (which by the way had its name inspired by the Odes by Roman lyric poet Horace and means “I shall not all die” or “not all of me will die”), Underneath in 2011 and Disclosure in 2015, as well as a very special release featuring acoustic versions of tracks from previous albums in 2016, titled Still – Acoustic Live Experience. You can get a very good taste of how smooth and tuneful Marjolaine’s vocals are in songs such as Petrichor, The Raven, Absentia, Confined and Excinere, listen to the entire albums Disclosure and Underneath, enjoy the acoustic versions from Still for the songs Everlasting Wish and Unborn, or also have fun with Marjolaine and the others with two live “studio” versions for the songs Buried Moon and Secret’s Case.

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If you prefer Wildpath live in front of a bunch of metalheads, I recommend this 2012 version of Buried Moon and Dive live at Le Grand Rex in Paris during the IronSquid StarCraft 2 World Championship Finals, as well as Non Omnis Moriar live in Eloyes, France in 2010; Unborn and Ghost Memories live at Le Divan Du Monde in Paris in 2015; or even this full concert  in 2012 during a mini-festival named Metal Symphonic Quest II in Tours, a city located in the centre-west of France. The festival also had the bands Adrana, Lost Opera, Roman Rouzine The Tria and Eidon, but it was Wildpath who headlined the night. And if you think you need to go all the way to France to watch Wildpath live, you’re wrong, as in 2016 the band played their first gig in the UK at The Quinphonic Festival 2 at The Roadhouse Birmingham. How far do you think Marjolaine and Wildpath can go?

As a guest musician, Marjolaine was part of the only album released by French Melodic Heavy/Power Metal band Silent Fall, entitled Otherwise, from 2010, doing choir vocals in the whole album and main female vocals on the song This Could Have Been. If you’re curious to know how she was invited to be part of the album, the answer is quite simple. Olivier Caron, Wildpath’s own guitarist, was also the lead guitarist for Silent Fall, making it a lot easier for Marjolaine to add her vocals to their music in an effective and exciting way.

When asked about her favorite song of all time, including all types of music and eras, her answer was quite unique, citing the classic Sanvean: I Am Your Shadow (or simply Sanvean) by the iconic Australian musical project Dead Can Dance, featured on their first official live album Toward the Within, released in 1994, an album that contains 15 songs, of which only four appeared on their previous albums. Sanvean was later re-recorded by one of the masterminds behind Dead Can Dance, Lisa Gerrard, on her 1995 solo album The Mirror Pool. In regards to heavy music, her first rock album was the classic Angels Fall First, the debut studio album by Finnish Symphonic Metal band Nightwish. With cult songs such as Elvenpath, Beauty and the Beast and Astral Romance, it’s easy to understand why Marjolaine fell in love for Symphonic Metal, right?

Marjolaine was also questioned about her favorite or best moments as an artist, and albeit she said there have been already lots of amazing memories with Wildpath, one of her favorite experiences was a concert with a “quatour” (a special form of string quartet that developed in Paris around 1775 and became one of the leading genres of Parisian music until the French Revolution) and a choir at La Scène Bastille, saying that seeing a symphony coming alive was truly fantastic. In addition, she also listed as one of her favorite moments when the band played with French progressive guitarist Patrick Rondat, and lastly the band’s famous performance in 2015 at Le Divan du Monde.

As previously mentioned, among her main influences we’ll find names such as Floor and Tarja, with Floor in particular being a huge inspiration for Marjolaine as she’s one of the few contemporary female singers who can combine lyrical songs with very dynamic rock vocals in a precise manner. However, out of the metal and rock scene, her favorite singer is Lisa Gerrard, who apart from her work with Dead Can Dance was also responsible for several other renowned projects, including a Golden Globe Award for the music score to the film Gladiator, on which she collaborated with Hans Zimmer.

Another interesting fact about Marjolaine is that her stage outfit is created by one of her students, who proposed to create special clothes tailored for their live performances, working with the band’s colors and adding her own personal touch to the creations. That stylist is from a company called Le Paon, a new brand from the independent French scene. Marjolaine and the stylist collaborate with each other in the creation of the outfits, first discussing new ideas orally and then working together on drawings and other details, until the stylist begins working on the whole realization of the clothes. One of her first new looks debuted at the concert at Le Divan du Monde in 2015, and in her opinion it was already a great evolution from her previous costumes.

Lastly, when asked about places or regions she would like to play with Wildpath, Marjolaine answered she would love to go to Brittany (a cultural region in the north-west of France) because she has family there, or also other French cities such as Lyon. Outside of France, she mentioned Belgium, Switzerland and Luxemburg as countries she would love to visit with her band, as well as other more distant places like Japan and South America, but that the high cost of playing in those places make the trip almost impossible, at least for now. It’s interesting that she didn’t mention the United States or Canada on her list, two major markets for heavy music, in special our French-speaking province of Quebec here in Canada. Well, let’s hope she just “forgot” to mention Canada, and that one day we have the pleasure of seeing Wildpath kicking ass live in our home and native land.

Marjolaine Bernard’s Official Facebook page
Marjolaine Bernard’s Official Twitter
Wildpath’s Official Facebook page
Wildpath’s Official Twitter
Wildpath’s Official YouTube

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