Album Review – Skognatt / Ancient Wisdom (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Best moments of the album: Xibalbá and Thanatos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

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

Band members
Danijel Zambo – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Gerileme – drums

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Album Review – Axel Rudi Pell / Knights Call (2018)

And Mr. Axel Rudi Pell strikes once again, delivering another entertaining collection of rock and metal tunes supported by his loyal army of skillful musicians.

If there’s a musician that truly loves what he does, that person has to be the iconic German Heavy Metal/Hard Rock guitarist Axel Rudi Pell. It’s incredible how consistent this accomplished guitar virtuoso is with his amazing solo band, not only by delivering top-tier music since the band’s inception in the far, far away year of 1989, but also by not taking too many years to record a new album. As a matter of fact, if you take a detailed look at the band’s complete discography, you’ll notice that every two years there’s a brand new Axel Rudi Pell full-length album released for our total delight. Furthermore, his creativity and ability to compose high-end music have been flourishing in the past decade, with the releases of the extremely well-crafted albums The Crest (2010),  Circle of the Oath (2012), Into the Storm (2014), Game of Sins (2016), and now in 2018 the excellent Knights Call, the 18th studio album in his undisputed career.

Featuring a traditional artwork by British illustrator Martin McKenna, who by the way has been working with the band since 2010 with the release of the aforementioned The Crest, the secret in Knights Call is not a secret at all, but the result of a lot of hard work, perfect synchronicity among all band members, and above all that, a solid and consistent lineup that has been accompanying Mr. Axel Rudi Pell for a while, comprised of the underrated Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Volker Krawczak on bass, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards and Bobby Rondinelli on drums. Apart from Mr. Rondinelli, who joined the band in 2013, all others have been with Axel for a very long time, with Volker being a member of the band since the beginning in 1989 (and even before that if you consider his time with Steeler), while Johnny and Ferdy since 1998’s Oceans of Time. Actually, when you hit play and start listening to the flammable rock music blasted by those veterans in Knights Call, you can kind of feel how they know each other extremely well.

The Medieval Overture is  a classic medieval-inspired Axel Rudi Pell intro to the Rock N’ Roll feast titled The Wild And The Young, a song about getting old in style and having good memories of a time that’s never coming back (“Sometimes I’m dreaming of the past / Making love in the summer while it lasts / But life ain’t easy as it seemed / Much tougher and louder than I dreamed / I thought I was living in paradise / And those were the days of my life”), led by the unparalleled riffs by Mr. Axel Rudi Pell and the always flammable vocals by Johnny. Following such strong start we have Wildest Dreams, a keyboard-driven Hard Rock tune where Volker extracts rumbling sounds from his bass while the competent Bobby keeps the music at a very pleasant pace, bringing that characteristic sound from the band’s old releases; and Long Live Rock, their musical representation of our passion for Rock N’ Roll, or in other words, a tribute not only to themselves but to all rock and metal heroes of our lives, showcasing a thunderous kitchen by Volker and Bobby , with Ferdy complementing Axel’s metallic riffs and solos flawlessly.

Then it’s time for The Crusaders Of Doom, one of those imposing, epic creations by Axel and his henchmen, a mid-tempo song full of atmospheric keyboards and classy guitar lines, all embraced by a passionate vocal performance by the talented Johnny. Truth And Lies is another upbeat composition by the band, a 70’s-80’s-inspired instrumental party for lovers of Progressive Rock and Metal presenting gripping keys and the always mesmerizing riffs and solos by Axel, while in Beyond The Light Mr. Gioeli returns after a “break” with what’s most probably his strongest vocal performance of the album, powerfully declaiming the song’s lyrics (“Is there life beyond the light / In the valley of the souls we’d lost long ago / Is there life beyond the light / Only in our dreams or in reality”). Those guys definitely know how to craft beautiful and touching ballads, and this one is no exception to that.

Knights Call Limited Edition Boxset

Getting back to their 80’s Hard Rock sonority, Slaves On The Run is a straightforward tune presenting all elements we love in the music by Axel Rudi Pell, being a more than excellent option for their live concerts. Furthermore, Axel and Ferdy are once again in total sync, while Volker keeps pounding his bass in a very melodious way. The second to last song in Knights Call, Follow The Sun, brings more old school Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal for our avid ears, with the album’s crisp production allowing us to feel the beats by Bobby inside our heads while Johnny keeps firing his potent vocal lines, also bringing a chorus tailored for singing along with the band. And closing this very entertaining album we have a 9-minute aria of classic rock and metal with hints of Arabian music titled Tower Of Babylon, something we’ve seen the band doing before. You’ll find yourself wandering through the realms of epicness and intricacy forged by Axel and crew, with his guitar solos sounding absolutely hypnotizing.

After listening to Knights Call (and I’m sure that’s something I’ll be doing for a long time), I’m more than certain it’s quite impossible for Axel Rudi Pell to release a bad album. There are several versions of Knights Call available for purchase HERE, but if I were you I would go for the deluxe boxset which includes a red/black LP in gatefold cover and with printed innersleeve, a digipak CD + poster, a patch, a sticker, a photo card, a doople sided A1 poster, and a skull tin-cup with an engraving of the band logo. And after all is said and done, we can all rest assured that in less than two years we’ll be treated one more time to the captivating rock and metal music crafted by one of the best guitarists hailing from the beautiful Germany.

Best moments of the album: The Wild And The Young, Long Live Rock, Slaves On The Run and Follow The Sun.

Worst moments of the album: Truth And Lies.

Released in 2018 SPV/Steamhammer

Track listing  
1. The Medieval Overture (Intro) 1:43
2. The Wild And The Young 4:20
3. Wildest Dreams 5:43
4. Long Live Rock 5:34
5. The Crusaders Of Doom 8:01
6. Truth And Lies 4:48
7. Beyond The Light 7:45
8. Slaves On The Run 5:13
9. Follow The Sun 5:12
10. Tower Of Babylon 9:50

Band members
Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – guitar
Volker Krawczak – bass
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli – drums

Album Review – Pestilent Reign / Pyres (2018)

Get ready for a feast of modern Death Metal blasted by a hardworking German act with their debut full-length opus, singing about the constant anger borne from injustice, human stupidity and religious bigotry.

It’s time to be absolutely pulverized by the frantic, modern and very technical Death Metal played by a German four-piece act known as Pestilent Reign, who are releasing their debut full-length album this year, entitled Pyres. Formed in 2013 by guitarist Lars Hägele and vocalist Christoph Sauner in the city of Sttutgart, in Southern Germany, Pestilent Reign released two EP’s after their inception, those being Shivering Chaos, in 2015, and The Zealot, in 2016, leading the band to play from local to international shows at festivals like Monthly Assault in Switzerland and Nice To Eat You in the Czech Republic, and sharing the stage with well-known bands like Benighted, Wormed, Unfathomable Ruination, Implore, Pighead, Analepsy, Omophagia, Spasm, Gutalax, Serrabulho, Deserted Fear, Rottenness, Warfuck and Abysmal Torment.

Across 39 minutes split in eight fulminating tracks, Pyres draws strength from a multitude of influences such as Psycroptic, Dying Fetus, Aborted and Revocation in a multi-faceted manner that’s as rewarding to listen to as it is fun. On Pyres, Pestilent Reign strikes the perfect balance between straightforward modern Death Metal, sledgehammer-like brutality, thrashy hooks, technically adept flourishes, and monstrous grooves. Featuring an obscure cover artwork by Bahrull Marta (Abomination Imagery) from Indonesia, and with lyrical themes based on the constant anger borne from injustice, human stupidity and religious bigotry, Pyres is the result of the band’s dedication and hard work, powerfully representing their passion and devotion to extreme music.

A song that starts with a crazy voice barking the sentence “PEOPLE ARE CANCER!” has to be violent and austere, and Martyr is all that, igniting the intricate and piercing devastation by the quartet with Sebastian Unić showcasing all his skills behind his drum kit, before Christoph starts firing his Barney Grimway-inspired growls in an entertaining exhibit of modern and aggressive Progressive Death Metal. And their sonic demolition goes on in You Will Kneel in Piss and Blood, a Death Metal tune with some Black Metal nuances where Lars sounds pulverizing with his metallic riffs. Moreover, it’s impossible not to love the breaks and variations presented by the band throughout the song, while Christoph keeps blasting furious gnarls and screeches nonstop. And the band offers another explosion of their scorching Death Metal in Saviour, which also sounds melodic and extremely vile at the same time, showcasing a beastly Sebastian on drums while Lars and his flammable guitar add an extra touch of dementia to the musicality. And in Ouroboros, it’s impressive how they master the art of blending the aggressiveness and rage from Death Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, with Christoph sounding like a vile creature on vocals while the rest of the band will inspire you to crush your head into the circle pit.

Cleanse the Flesh presents razor-edged riffs and nonstop annihilation flowing from start to finish, with bassist Matthias “Mick” Figura together with Sebastian creating a dense background perfect for the rabid screams by Christoph; whereas in Zealot a brutal and electrifying intro morphs into ass-kicking Progressive Death Metal, with Sebastian and his blast beats adding a touch of darkness to the music. In addition, pay good attention to the interesting narration about going to a Death Metal concert and its connection with Satan, as it brings a pinch of comedic relief to their crushing music. A demonic screech ignites another circle pit-catalyst titled I.M.T.R.M., a great tune by this demented German squad with both Lars and Matthias grinding their axes like there’s no tomorrow. And last but not least we have Gutter´s Filth, perhaps the most intricate and wicked of all songs in Pyres, where all four band members are smashing and pounding their instruments mercilessly. Moreover, the level of complexity flowing from the guitar lines by Lars is outstanding, not to mention the demented performance by Christoph on vocals.

The fury spawned by Pestilent Reign can be better appreciated by following them on Facebook, and if you want to carry all the rottenness of old school Death Metal fused with the complexity of progressive music from Pyres (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) with you wherever you go, you can buy a copy of the album at the Rising Nemesis Records BandCamp or Big Cartel, at the Rebirth the Metal Productions BandCamp or Big Cartel, as well as on iTunes, Amazon or City Disc, and keep supporting the always fun and always exhilarating underground Extreme Metal scene.

Best moments of the album: You Will Kneel in Piss and Blood, Ouroboros and Gutter´s Filth.

Worst moments of the album: Saviour.

Released in 2018 Rising Nemesis Records/Rebirth the Metal Productions

Track listing
1. Martyr 4:20
2. You Will Kneel in Piss and Blood 3:34
3. Saviour 5:28
4. Ouroboros 4:02
5. Cleanse the Flesh 3:08
6. Zealot 6:59
7. I.M.T.R.M. 4:58
8. Gutter´s Filth 6:07

Band members
Christoph Sauner – vocals
Lars Hägele – guitar
Matthias “Mick” Figura – bass
Sebastian Unić – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Amanda Somerville

I hide you, I find you, I catch your fall…  I’ll be there when the lights go out…

She has already been involved with so many distinct bands and projects it feels like she’s a 100-year old veteran in heavy music, when in fact she’s just about to turn 39 years old. I’m talking about the unstoppable American vocalist Amanda Somerville, our metal chick of the month who’s not only a singer and songwriter, but also a vocal coach, being known primarily for her work with several renowned European Symphonic Metal bands such as Edguy, Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot and After Forever, and having also produced two solos albums and two solo EP’s so far, as well as a wide range of more underground acts like Aina, Trillium and Exit Eden. also, there are countless albums and songs from other artists in the world of heavy music where you can find the stunning Amanda delivering her beautiful vocal notes, only proving how professional she is and how much other musicians admire her talent and skills as a vocalist. Having said that, are you ready to get delightfully “lost” in the world of Amanda Somerville?

Born on March 7, 1979 in Flushing, a city in Genesee County in the U.S. state of Michigan, Amanda Somerville, whose full name is Amanda Somerville-Scharf, attended Flushing Senior High School, graduating a full year early and winning a scholarship for graduating with high honors to the University of Michigan in Flint, Michigan, where she majored in psychology. In 1999 she moved from the United States to Wolfsburg, Germany, working mainly in Germany and in the Netherlands. Her voice has a wide range, but she has said herself that her tessitura is in the alto range, and if you have no idea of what that means you can take a quick look at this short and sweet explanatory video HERE. On August 19, 2013, she announced that she was engaged to be married to After Forever’s former guitarist Sander Gommans, and the pair were married in July 2014; less than one year after their marriage, on January 8, 2015, the couple announced they were expecting their first child, who was born on July 17, 2015 and named Lana Elise Gommans, and now in January the couple and little Lana were joined by the identical twins Anya Jayne and Juliet Marlies (and you can expect to hear more from Amanda and her new babies through her official blog).

Amanda has started singing from a very early age in her life, having grown up in a very musical family where music was a very basic and essential part of life. Furthermore, not only she had that influence and inspiration at home, but she mentioned she also had very good music mentors at elementary school, learning how to read music and play the piano at a rather young age. In addition, she said she has always dreamed about becoming a musician, and that’s all she ever wanted to do. For instance, throughout her life she has always performed in talent shows, competitions and concerts, hosting karaoke, singing in cover bands and jazz combos to earn money while she was in university, and even doing some appearances as a DJ. However, albeit being famous worldwide for her participation in several metal bands and projects, Amanda said that when she started her career she was a solo artist directed to the Pop Rock genre with some American folk elements. It was only when she decided to record a single with her bass player and drummer years ago that she met German guitarist, bassist and musical producer Sascha Paeth, who at that time was related to her bass player and owned a recording studio. Both Sascha and German keyboard player and musical producer Michael “Miro” Rodenberg were at the spot, helped them set up everything and listened to them performing, until they asked Amanda if she wanted to do something together with them, opening the doors of heavy music for our stunning diva. And regarding her education in music and arts in general, she said she never really studied music in a formal way, nor was she classically trained in singing. Amanda mentioned that it was her grandmother who taught her how to read music and gave her the basic foundation that she still uses for composing until today. Furthermore, as a vocal coach she was able to work with several distinguished musicians, always being open to learn from her students and to face new challenges they might bring her, therefore growing as a musician and as a person.

Trying to list every single band and project Amanda was or is still involved in Heavy Metal might be one of the toughest tasks one can try to accomplish, as she has already written and recorded with several renowned acts like the ones mentioned in the beginning of this essay about our gorgeous American vocalist, as well as her solos releases (which by the way were primarily soft and elegant Pop Rock with some Hard Rock, folk and soul music influences) and a rock opera, among other distinct endeavors. Let’s start with her solo career, with the releases of the albums In the Beginning There Was… (2000) and Windows (2008), and the EP’s Blue Nothing (2000) and Never Alone (2003), with her upcoming album Conformity Challenged to be announced soon. You can have a listen at her softer and more graceful side in songs like I Miss America and Puzzling Rapunzel, from her debut album, and Inner Whore and Sometimes, from Windows, but that’s the lightest music you’ll find in this tribute to Amanda, as from now on it’s going to be pure heavy music flowing through her veins and vocals.

Her first venture in metal was her collaboration with German multi-instrumentalist Robert Hunecke-Rizzo (Heavens Gate, Luca Turilli, Kamelot, Rhapsody of Fire), co-writing the rock opera Aina, a Symphonic and Progressive Heavy/Power Metal project featuring a number of guest appearances including Glenn Hughes, Michael Kiske and Candice Night, where the concept and lyrics were written by Amanda herself. There was only one album released under the project, the 2003 opus Days of Rising Doom (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), and don’t expect to see anything new from Aina in the short or even long-term. After Aina, she made a similar collaboration with her husband-to-be Sander Gommans, providing vocals and lyrical concept for HDK (the acronym for Hate Death Kill), a Melodic Death/Gothic Metal project with whom she released the albums System Overload, in 2009, and Serenades of the Netherworld, in 2014. Do you want to bang your head to the music by HDK? Try the songs System Overload and Mortal Zombie, one from each release by the project, and see if you like this more ferocious side of Amanda.

Perhaps her most remarkable project to date is her partnership with the iconic German vocalist Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic) on a musical project entitled Kiske/Somerville, also featuring Primal Fear’s own Mat Sinner on bass and Magnus Karlsson on guitars (who by the way are the two main songwriters of the project), and Czech drummer Veronika Lukešová. In 2010, the project released their debut self-titled album, followed by another full-length release named City of Heroes, in 2015. From their debut installment, you can enjoy on YouTube songs such as Silence and If I Had A Wish, and from City of Heroes you should take a listen at Walk on Water.

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Another very interesting project by Amanda goes by the name of Trillium, a Symphonic Metal band formed in 2011 in the Netherlands (where she currently resides), featuring some of her longtime fellow musicians Sander Gommans, Sascha Paeth and Michael “Miro” Rodenberg, having released in 2011 the full-length album Alloy. She described the music by Trillium as “more like an expedition with my musical family to explore and celebrate the metamorphosis I’ve gone through as an artist over the past several years”, while the name of the band “symbolizes a trinity because things are always showing up in 3s in my environment and there are a number of triads occurring in this project, as well”. And she went on saying that “the name of the album, Alloy, is symbolic and metaphorical. An alloy is a substance composed of two or more metals, or of a metal or metals combined with a non-metal, intimately mixed. It also means standard; quality; fineness and is an admixture, as of good with evil. I’m a Pisces, so I’m all about duality and combining known elements – sometimes opposing each other – to create something different. Though I’ve been working myself further and further into the metal scene, I still always feel the need to add an extra element to make it shine, bling, stand out”. From Alloy, you should check the song Coward, and if you like what you hear you can enjoy the full album HERE.

In 2017, Amanda joined a new project entitled Exit Eden, featuring four female singers from the rock and metal scene from four different countries, those being Clémentine Delauney (Visions of Atlantis, Serenity) from France, Marina La Torraca (Highlight Kenosis, Phantom Elite) from Brazil, newcomer Anna Brunner from Germany, and obviously Amanda Somerville. The band was conceived with the plan “to show the world that almost every classic song can be transformed into a solid metal-rock song”, a concept similar to Finland’s Northern Kings, releasing in 2017 the album Rhapsodies In Black, comprised of 11 metallic versions for some of the biggest pop and rock classics like Rihanna’s Unfaithful, Depeche Mode’s A Question Of Time, Shontelle’s Impossible, Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, Backstreet Boys’ Incomplete, and Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart, with the stunning Dutch goddess Simone Simons also appearing in two songs of the album, Madonna’s Frozen, Adele’s Skyfall.

Apart from all those bands and projects, Amanda has also been involved with several iconic acts either live or as a guest musician in some of their studio albums. For instance, in 2008, she toured America with Dutch Symphonic Metal icons Epica, while Simone Simons recovered from a staph infection; she was also one of the live guest vocalists for Tobias Sammet’s metal opera Avantasia world tours in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2016, where she performed both backing vocals and lead vocals for a few songs; she was featured on Douglas R. Docker’s space metal opera Docker’s Guild in 2012 in a duet with Goran Edman on the debut album The Mystic Technocracy – Season 1: The Age of Ignorance, and again in 2016 in the Flash Gordon Suite on the album The Heisenberg Diaries – Book A: Sounds of Future Past; and also played the part of the “Queen of the Nile” in an album titled The Book of Gates, by a metal opera project from the Middle-East named EON, produced by Lebanese guitarist Amadeus Awad. And the list goes on and on with Amanda lending her beautiful voice to several interesting songs recorded by bands like After Forever, Edguy, Lunatica, Serenity, Wolfpakk, Shaman, DesDemon, Hollow Haze, Sebastien, Soulspell, and many, many others.

When asked about her experience working with several renowned artists such as Alice Cooper, Ian Gillan and Eric Martin due to her role in projects like Rock Meets Classic and Avantasia, Amanda answered that working with all those metal icons is always a pleasure for her, as she always enters a new situation or project with a very open mind and loves to be surprised by those artists, not to mention she also said most of them are amazing human beings. In addition, when asked which musician or artist she would love to work with in the future, Amanda mentioned some important names in music such as John Fogerty, the mastermind behind Creedence Clearwater Revival; Grace Slick, an American musician and former model, widely known in Rock N’ Roll history for her role in San Francisco’s burgeoning psychedelic music scene in the 60’s, being the voice of bands like Jefferson Airplane and Starship; and as a solo artist she would also love to work with Paul Simon and Tori Amos. As you can see although those musicians listed by Amanda are not your regular metal icons, they do have a huge influence on countless metal artists and bands from different styles, proving once again heavy music is not and can never be isolated from the rest of the world of music.

Regarding her inspirations for her music and lyrics and her full creative process, Amanda said she doesn’t really have a “normal process” as far as songwriting goes, with her songs beginning sometimes as a chorus or a verse, sometimes as just the lyrics with the body of the composition coming later, and sometimes the song will come to her from start to finish in its entirety. She complemented by saying that as a songwriter, the lyrics are of extreme importance to her, and that her songs are always very emotional because she doesn’t believe in writing or performing anything that can’t make people feel along with her. All her songs are personal-based, talking about human struggles and relationships, whether it was something she went through, a dream, or inspired by someone or something, and all being “little windows” into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville.

Last but not least, apart from all her projects and adventures in music in general, Amanda still found some time in June 2014 to be part of a German television show named Keep Your Light Shining, which aired from the end of May to June 2014 by ProSieben, singing the song Addicted To You by Avicii (and you can also see her personal message about the show HERE). She said she accepted the challenge because she enjoys getting out of her comfort zone, pushing herself to her own limits. However, the show had to make some special arrangements for her due to her touring schedule and other details, as she was only able to join their third show. Many people asked her why she was doing that, because she didn’t need it, but she said she actually wanted to participate on the show as a new experience for her. Moreover, despite the final result not being very positive for her, she said she wasn’t sad or anything like that as in the end she was the only member with a career while some of the others went backstage and cried their hearts out. What’s next for Amanda Somerville? Now with the twins she will probably take some time off from all her endeavors in heavy music, but I’m sure it won’t take long for us metalheads to have the pleasure of listening to her beautiful voice once again accompanied by some flammable guitar riffs and headbanging beats in another ass-kicking song, band or project.

Amanda Somerville’s Official Facebook page
Amanda Somerville’s Official Twitter
Amanda Somerville’s Official Instagram
Amanda Somerville’s Official YouTube channel

“I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads.” – Amanda Somerville

Concert Review – Helloween (Espaço das Américas, São Paulo, Brazil, 10/29/2017)

What we once thought was unlikely to happen became reality and, my friends, it was one HELL of a night!

Have you ever imagined seeing Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen and Andi Deris together on the same stage? Yes, I know, we have seen Kiske and Hansen together with Unisonic before, we have seen Kiske singing HELLOWEEN classics beautifully, we have seen Hansen as a special guest on Helloween concerts, but the three pieces together feel so right that it is hard to think how it hasn’t happened before. The Pumpkins United World Tour is real now, it’s a huge celebration to the band’s legacy and I am not afraid to say that this is one of the most amazing tours of this year!

This tour was announced a year ago and the first date confirmed was in São Paulo (although the tour actually started in Mexico). I have got to say Brazilians love Helloween, tickets were sold out in a blink of an eye and the band announced a second date – again sold out. We were also informed that these two concerts were going to be recorded to a near future release in DVD, so we couldn’t be more excited. Unfortunately, guitarist Roland Grapow wasn’t invited to join the band on this historical moment (according to himself), which is really a shame.

Without an opening act, Helloween went straight to the point and got the party started at 7:30pm at the Espaço das Américas venue with the iconic Halloween, with Deris and Kiske singing together. This was enough to make 8,000 grown adults sing loud, smile, cry, jump, put their hands in the air, fall on their knees and thank for being there (I am not exaggerating, Brazilian fans are really this passionate and intense). After the song, both vocalists thanked all the fans and Deris remembered that 10 years ago they recorded a live album and DVD in São Paulo (Keeper of the Seven Keys – The Legacy World Tour 2005/2006) because Brazilian fans were the loudest in the world, so they wanted to do it again. The duo also introduced us to their two friends, Doc and Seth, the funny animated pumpkins on the screen who were responsible for “choosing” the night’s setlist, focusing on classics but also giving a space to songs released after the 2000s.

Photos by Leandro Anhelli – http://www.anhelli.com.br/

It was incredible to see Kiske and Deris singing side by side but the night wasn’t only about them. Kai Hansen, Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner were playing heavier and louder than ever, and in perfect harmony. Weikath was in his usual “low profile mode” on his corner of the stage, but as technical and impressive as always, while Hansen and Gerstner were moving all the time along the stage and interacting with the fans in the front row. Markus Grosskopf smiled all the time and alongside Dani Löble didn’t miss one beat at all. The whole team was clearly happy and connected.

When it was time for Hansen to take over the microphone on a medley of Starlight, Ride the Sky, Judas and Heavy Metal (Is the Law), the PA system died not once, but twice. On the first time, the musicians took some minutes to notice as the crowd kept singing in support as if nothing wrong was happening, until a sound technician came in to the stage and asked them to stop. They left and after some minutes Hansen apologized and said they were going to start over. When the sound failed for the second time, they left the stage for a little longer, 20 minutes or so, which made us think of a worst case scenario like a cancellation or something. Luckily, the team managed to fix everything and the band could hit the stage for Kai’s moment to shine.

Photos by Leandro Anhelli – http://www.anhelli.com.br/

Right after that, Deris and Kiske returned to the stage. Kiske joked that in all these years they have seen many things on the road, but never a PA that failed twice. Then, they gave the fans a moment to calm down a bit. Deris said it was a moment for a ballad, especially for the girls (he said the same thing before when they played If I Could Fly) and they made a beautiful duo singing Forever and One (Neverland); however, Kiske mentioned guys also love ballads, and all the fans shouted a loud “YEAAAH” in response.

There is no such thing as an ordinary concert for Helloween and they even know how to make a drum solo an emotional moment. Lights out on stage, Dani started with some beats and then images of a happy and precise Ingo Schwichtenberg – the original drummer, dead in 1995 at the age of 29 – were projected on the screen. Dani started to follow Ingo’s beats as if they both were on a very technical drums battle. It ended up with Ingo “playing alone” and many of us crying, clapping and shouting his name in a very loving tribute. It’s worth to mention that on the previous night the screen didn’t work for some time and unfortunately the fans couldn’t see such beautiful moment.

Power, How Many Tears, Eagle Fly Free, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Future World and I Want Out made a killer final sequence, with KOT7K being the highlight of the show undoubtedly. After 3 amazing hours the show was over, but we had energy left for more. Some great songs were left out of the setlist, including the recently released single Pumpkins United, but well, that’s okay. And despite the technical difficulties, I did not see one single person complaining; quite the contrary, everybody went back home with a big smile on their faces, and that feeling of being part of something really awesome and unique. To finish this review, if I can leave a piece of advice for you all, my metalhead friends, I’d say: please go see this concert if Helloween come to your town/country on this very special tour! You will remember this amazing night forever with a smile on your face and possibly tears of joy in your eyes.

Setlist
Intro: Let Me Entertain You (Robbie Williams song)
Halloween (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Dr. Stein (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
I’m Alive (with Michael Kiske)
If I Could Fly (with Andi Deris)
Are You Metal? (with Andi Deris)
Rise and Fall (with Michael Kiske)
Waiting for the Thunder (with Andi Deris)
Perfect Gentleman (with Andi Deris)
Starlight / Ride the Sky / Judas / Heavy Metal (Is the Law) (with Kai Hansen)
Forever and One (Neverland) (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
A Tale That Wasn’t Right (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
I Can (with Andi Deris)
Drums Solo (Dani Löble & Ingo Schwichtenberg ‘battle’) – Ingo Tribute
Livin’ Ain’t No Crime / A Little Time (with Michael Kiske)
Why? (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Sole Survivor (with Andi Deris)
Power (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
How Many Tears (with Andi Deris, Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen)
Eagle Fly Free (with Michael Kiske)
Keeper of the Seven Keys (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Future World (with Michael Kiske)
I Want Out (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)

Band members
Andi Deris – vocals
Michael Kiske – vocals
Kai Hansen – vocals, guitars
Michael Weikath – guitars
Sascha Gerstner – guitars
Markus Grosskopf – bass
Dani Löble – drums

Album Review – Misanthrope Monarch / Regress To The Saturnine Chapter (2017)

Be prepared for 35 minutes of ruthless and crushing music offered by a German act that has all it takes to become the next big name in the underground Death Metal scene.

It brings me a lot of joy to see that one of the first independent acts reviewed at The Headbanging Moose over three years ago has kept growing as a band since then, evolving to a much stronger, thrilling and boisterous entity through the years. The band in question goes by the imposing name of Misanthrope Monarch, who after the release of their self-titled mini-album in 2014 are finally back with their first full-length installment, the bold, technical and absolutely devastating Regress To The Saturnine Chapter. It doesn’t matter if you like a more modern and technical version of Death Metal or that traditional old school havoc brought forth by bands such as Cannibal Corpse and Deicide, as Misanthrope Monarch offers you all of that and more during the album’s 35 minutes of extreme brutality.

Supported by the Wacken Foundation and featuring a menacing artwork by the band’s ex-guitarist Chris Salmen (Combat Colour) as well as Sami Yli-Sirniö of Kreator as a guest guitarist, Regress To The Saturnine Chapter is the epitome of European underground Death Metal, not only representing to perfection what this Oberhausen-based quintet is all about, but also what you can expect from any other German band that knows how to beautifully blend the gore and heaviness of Death Metal with tons of melody and devotion to extreme music. Furthermore, the album also marks the debut of lead singer Cristoph “Chris” Mieves, a Death Metal bulldozer who also growls like a beast for German acts Grind Inc. and Resurrected, and if you know those bands I’m sure you have a very good idea of how savage the music by Misanthrope Monarch shall sound now.

The short, dissonant intro Towards The Utopian Kingdom Of Fire warns the listener there’s a first-class metal tempest coming entitled Usurping The Throne, where drummer Max Scheefeldt decimates his drum set while Chris provides those old school Death Metal deep guttural, menacing growls we all love in this type of music, not to mention the song’s insane main riff and the kick-ass solo by guest musician Sami Yli-Sirniö. Put differently, this is an absolutely fantastic display of what Misanthrope Monarch are capable of doing, pumping us all up for a lot more of their crushing Death Metal, which is what we end up getting in Crushing The Unbeliever, a re-recording from their 2014 mini-album (you can check the original version HERE). The bands gives a new shape and form to the song, with the new version sounding more destructive due to the cavernous screams by Chris. Moreover, the guitar duo comprised of Kristian Gøbels and Richie Zubek will burn your ears and pierce your mind with their lancinating riffs. And the insanely heavy and thrilling The Brotherhood Of Destruction has the perfect name for the chaotic music presented, sounding old school and modern at the same time. Furthermore, if you love the music by Cannibal Corpse you’ll have a blast with the infernal gnarls by Chris and the rhythmic and precise drumming by Max, as well as the intricate bass lines à la Alex Webster by Pat Fleischmann.

In the next track, titled Dispelled, metallic guitars and bass pound our heads violently, while Chris keeps vociferating like a demonic creature. Kristian and Richie bring a lot of melody to the musicality with their solos, never letting the energy level go down. The title-track Regress To The Saturnine Chapter is amazingly brutal and obscure, presenting a more progressive side of the band, in special the intricacy brought forth by Pat and Max on bass and drums respectively; whereas Father Sin And The Hollow Spirit is the second old song to be redesigned (enjoy the original version HERE). I personally love both versions of it, with the new one having as its strongest elements the gory growls by Chris and the more polished and thunderous overall production, making each instrument more aggressive and therefore more enjoyable.

Black Sirens Lurking presents another side of the band, showcasing an atmospheric, acoustic beginning that suddenly explodes into an imposing sonority led by the beautiful guitars by Kristian and Richie, setting the tone for the technical The Omega Embrace, which keeps the violent aura of the album burning through the demonic riffs, beats and growls bred by the entire band, despite losing some of its grip after a while. On the other hand, Trail Of The Heretic (Maleficium) is brutal Death Metal from start to finish, living up to the most gruesome icons of the genre. Max sounds bestial on drums as well as Chris on vocals, with the riffs and solos blasted by the band’s dynamic guitarists being the song’s icing on the cake. And lastly, their final onrush of demonic sounds comes in the form of a more complex and eerie song titled Cosmic Maze, sounding and feeling more somber than all previous tunes, with the guitars exhaling darkness and despair while Chris sends a not-so-happy message through his devilish vociferations, ending in a melancholic and beautiful way.

In a nutshell, with the ruthless Regress To The Saturnine Chapter (which can be listened in its entirety on YouTube or Spotify), Misanthrope Monarch are accrediting themselves as one of the strongest names in the underground scene when the style in question is Death Metal, and who knows, maybe we’re facing the actual future of Death Metal with those guys. I guess I don’t need to say that they need our full support to turn that future into an exciting reality, right? In order to do that, go visit their Facebook page for news and other info, enjoy their music on YouTube, and purchase Regress To The Saturnine Chapter through their own BandCamp or Big Cartel (where you can choose between the regular CD version or the CD + T-shirt bundle), on iTunes, on Amazon or at CD Baby. I was going to say that I’m eager to see what’s next for Misanthrope Monarch, but their new album is so damn good I guess for now it’s better if we simply enjoy it as much as we can without thinking about the future, and let the band follow their natural path and keep smashing us all with their impeccable Death Metal for the coming decades.

Best moments of the album: Usurping The Throne, The Brotherhood Of Destruction, Father Sin And The Hollow Spirit and Trail Of The Heretic (Maleficium).

Worst moments of the album: The Omega Embrace.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Towards The Utopian Kingdom Of Fire 0:44
2. Usurping The Throne 3:21
3. Crushing The Unbeliever 3:12
4. The Brotherhood Of Destruction 3:50
5. Dispelled 3:35
6. Regress To The Saturnine Chapter 3:22
7. Father Sin And The Hollow Spirit 2:43
8. Black Sirens Lurking 2:31
9. The Omega Embrace 3:15
10. Trail Of The Heretic (Maleficium) 3:25
11. Cosmic Maze 5:29

Band members
Chris Mieves – vocals
Kristian Gøbels – guitar
Richie Zubek – guitar
Pat Fleischmann – bass
Max Scheefeldt – drums

Guest musician
Sami Yli-Sirniö – lead guitar on “Usurping The Throne”

Album Review – Accept / The Rise of Chaos (2017)

Let total chaos and destruction rise to the sound of the brand new album by the unstoppable Teutonic masters of Heavy Metal.

I guess I might have already said that with different words in my review for the excellent Blind Rage, from 2014, but I can guarantee you that you can buy any album by German Heavy Metal institution Accept from the Mark Tornillo-era without even listening to a single second of it, and you won’t regret your decision at all. Quite the contrary, you’ll always be treated to the cream of Teutonic metal music, just like what happens with pretty much every new release by traditional German acts such as Rage, Grave Digger, Kreator, Primal Fear and Helloween, and that trend goes on in 2017 with another sensational release by Wolf Hoffmann, Mark Tornillo & Co., titled The Rise of Chaos, the fifteenth studio album in their unparalleled career.

The Rise of Chaos, which by the way was released just one day after their memorable performance at Wacken Open Air this year, is their first album with guitarist Uwe Lulis (Grave Digger, Giftdwarf) and drummer Christopher Williams (War Within, Blackfoot), replacing Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann, respectively. The album is also the first of their career to feature the amazing art by Hungarian artist Gyula Havancsák, from Hjules Illustration and Design (who has already worked through the years with iconic bands like Grave Digger, Destruction and Annihilator), perfectly representing the chaotic and desperate situation our society has been through lately, as well as all the power and electricity flowing from the top-tier Heavy Metal played by Accept.

The initial guitars by the flammable duo Wolf and Uwe already send a clear message of the old school feast that’s about to start in Die by the Sword, showcasing classic kick-ass Accept with a modern twist to avoid sounding outdated. It’s simply impossible not to raise your fists and sing its blackened, catchy lyrics together with the band (“We’re sinking deeper in a world of darkness / It’s kill or be killed from the day we are born / We’re an evil seed from the soul of a serpent / An evil breed in a valley of thorns”), I should say. In Hole in the Head the whole band keeps blasting sheer awesomeness in the form of our good old Heavy Metal, with Christopher being precise and groovy on drums while Mark sounds, as usual, fantastic with his raspy, melodic vocals in this mid-tempo dark tune. And the title-track The Rise of Chaos, an apocalyptic hymn poised to become a classic, could be considered the epitome of the new Accept that was reborn with the superb Blood of the Nations, from 2010, bringing fast and thrilling riffs, spot-on bass and drums, and a classy performance by Mark on vocals.

Inspired by the November 1978 Jonestown deaths, in which over 900 members of the Peoples Temple, who were followers of Jim Jones, died, many of whom committed suicide by drinking a mixture of a powdered soft-drink flavoring agent laced with cyanide and prescription drugs Valium, Phenergan, and chloral hydrate, while the rest of the members, including 89 infants and elderly, were killed by forced ingestion of the poison, the rockin’ tune Koolaid is a beyond fun composition by Wolf and his crew, perfect for their live performances or to sing by yourself while driving on the highway (“Running through the jungle / Way back in ’78 / Here’s the story of the people’s temple / And my great escape / Communing with a madman / The promise of utopia / White nights, suicide drills / Shades of things to come”). Perhaps the most important message in the end should be: don’t drink the Koolaid, no matter what the preacher says! Anyway, back to the album we have No Regrets, one of the heaviest songs of all where Christopher speeds up the pace while bassist Peter Baltes keeps his bass rumbling in the background. This is traditional and straightforward German metal the way we like it, with highlights to the excellent guitar solo face-off between Wolf and Uwe; followed by Analog Man, a song that’s not only an ode to the 80’s, but it definitely feels it was actually written in the 80’s. What a fun metal hymn to sing along with those “old school sons of bitches trapped in this digital hell”, with Mark’s amazing vocals being effectively supported by the song’s traditional backing vocals. There’s no way not to get addicted to its cheesy lyrics (“I was born in a cave, when stereo was all the rage / Gatefold vinyl and eight tracks ruled the world / Now there’s flat screens in 3D / My cell phone’s smarter than me / I can’t keep up, my brains are beginning to burn”), and what to say about the dial-up internet sound at the end?

And Wolf, Mark and the rest of the guys are absolutely on fire, delivering another powerful tune full of electrified riffs, potent drums and a true headbanging rhythm, titled What’s Done Is Done, which can be described in short as four minutes of top-notch Accept for our avid ears, whereas the trademark guitar lines by Wolf ignite one more blast of awesome Heavy Metal named Worlds Colliding, with Mark putting his heart and soul into delivering the message from the song’s lyrics in the most beautiful way possible. Moreover, the guitar solos provided by Wolf and Uwe throughout the song are just superb, adding a lot of electricity to this already kick-ass composition. But if you’re a fan of their faster creations, then Carry the Weight is tailored for you, with Christopher keeping the energy level really high while Wolf and Uwe continue their slashing attack, resulting in a more-than-recommended alternative to cheer you up when facing tough times and situations (as Mark says during the song, don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders). And closing another flawless album by this iconic German institution we have more old school Heavy Metal in the form of the solid tune Race to Extinction, where an imposing intro turns into a dark and harmonious display of classic metal sounds led by Mark’s vigorous voice and the sharp riffs by Wolf and Uwe.

What else can be said about Accept and their unstoppable Heavy Metal killing machine that hasn’t been said yet? They have delivered to us, crazy metalheads, four first-class albums of old school metal music in a row since Mark joined the band back in 2009, and based on the amount of passion they put on creating each one of their electrifying songs it doesn’t seem that they’re planning to call it quits anytime soon. If you want to add The Rise of Chaos to your Accept collection (and you certainly should), there are several awesome options available at the Nuclear Blast webstore, all of them bringing to you the best soundtrack imaginable to watch all the chaos and destruction caused by mankind rise. And if the world as we know it is indeed coming to an end, can we ask it to “wait” until Accept release at least one more album of superior Heavy Metal like this one?

Best moments of the album: Die by the Sword, The Rise of Chaos, Koolaid, Analog Man and Worlds Colliding.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Die by the Sword 5:00
2. Hole in the Head 4:01
3. The Rise of Chaos 5:16
4. Koolaid 4:58
5. No Regrets 4:20
6. Analog Man 4:10
7. What’s Done Is Done 4:08
8. Worlds Colliding 4:28
9. Carry the Weight 4:33
10. Race to Extinction 5:24

Band members
Mark Tornillo – lead vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – guitar
Uwe Lulis – guitar
Peter Baltes – bass guitar
Christopher Williams – drums

Album Review – Eli van Pike / Welcome to My Dark Side (2017)

Welcome to the dark and melodic world of Gothic Metal, Neue Deutsche Härte and Industrial Metal ruled by three outstanding musicians who will certainly fuel your inner passion for industrialized sounds.

Combining the best elements of Gothic Metal, Neue Deutsche Härte and Industrial Metal, creating their own identity and remaining true to a tougher musical line, German-American Industrial Metal entity Eli van Pike is releasing its debut album Welcome to My Dark Side, comprised of ten unique compositions with its lyrics being in both German and English, often representing a mirror of the abysses of the human psyche. Not only is this new project highly recommended for admirers of the music played by renowned acts such as Rammstein, Eisbrecher, Oomph! and Lindemann, but it’s also a very interesting option for newcomers who are always seeking for darker sounds with a strong melodic vein.

Formed in 2016 by German musician Thorsten Eligehausen (Schandpfahl, Cradle Of Haze) together with German multi-instrumentalist Marc Vanderberg (Devil May Care) and American singer Ken Pike (Firesphere), therefore the name Eli van Pike, composed of parts of the names of the band members, the project debuted in 2016 with the singles Even Heros Fall and Tears of War, getting in the focus of the Gothic and Industrial Metal scene. In 2017, after releasing an EP titled Herzschlag, it’s time for Thorsten and his crew to reach new heights with their debut full-length album, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself singing, dancing or simply banging your head to most of the songs of the album due to its high level of electricity and feeling.

And the eccentric Eli van Pike begin their industrialized attack on a high note with the Teutonic hymn Made in Germany, with the keys by Thorsten together with the brutal riffs by Marc forging a fierce and pleasant Industrial Metal sounding, also presenting a great balance between the clean vocals by Ken and the deeper growls by Thorsten. Herzschlag, or “heartbeat” in German, a powerful Neue Deutsche Härte hymn with the heaviness from guitars and drums being boosted by the song’s old school keyboards, transpires a Rammstein-inspired vibe, in special through the obscure vocals by Thorsten, but it’s in the next song that their metallic vein gets to a whole new level of insanity. Faster and crazier (but still very melodic), the thrilling 1-2-frei is pure Neue Deutsche Härte, with the addictive guitar lines by Marc being the icing on the cake of such industrialized hymn.

Although it’s hard to “accept” a ballad in an Industrial Metal album, World on Fire kind of works well: it might not the best ballad in the world, but its solid instrumental and decent lyrics make it a lot more enjoyable. Back to a much harder and more obscure sonority, Tears of War is exciting from start to finish, with the German words vocalized by Thorsten darkening the music even more while Marc keeps kicking ass with his riffs and Ken once again brings epicness to the overall result with his passionate vocals. Slowing down a bit, the band offers us One Last Rose, a fusion of Industrial Metal with 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal, hence presenting all the elements of a dark hit, with highlights to the song’s melodic vocals in sync with its piercing synths, followed by Peter, 41,  another industrialized composition that will rock the hell out of you. Moreover, Thorsten sounds simply amazing with his cryptic, deep voice, while Marc continues to add electricity and groove to the music with his strings.

The title-track Welcome to My Dark Side is a fantastic display of modern and fresh Neue Deutsche Härte, offering the listener heavy sounds mixed with gentle vocals and sharp keyboards, also showcasing a Dark Metal aura in the background the likes of Moonspell. After such amazing display of dark music, Eli van Pike’s blackened, mechanized attack goes on with a frantic creation entitled Amen, bringing forward three minutes of Stygian vocals by Thorsten supported by the slashing riffs by Marc. In other words, this is another one of their songs that will certainly put people to dance at an underground metal party. However, instead of closing the album with such magnificent tune, the trio ventures through the realms of acoustic ballads in Valentine’s Day, and let me be honest with you, in my humble opinion acoustic guitars should never be used in any Industrial Metal album under any circumstances. It’s not that the song is bad, but it’s completely disconnected from the rest of the album, sounding like filler in the end. Maybe with some electronic elements in the background this western-ish ballad could have been more enjoyable, or at least more in line with the concept behind Eli van Pike.

Anyway, despite this slight lapse of electricity, overall Welcome to My Dark Side is a damn good album taking into account the fact that the band has been together for just a short period of time. In case you want to know more about the project, go check their Facebook page and listen to their music on YouTube or Spotify, and buy Welcome to My Dark Side on BandCamp, at the darkSIGN-Records’ webstore, on iTunes, on Amazon or on Qobuz. And always remember, you’re welcome to join the dark side of Industrial Metal created by Eli van Pike any time, a project so compelling it will definitely fuel your inner passion for industrialized sounds.

Best moments of the album: 1-2-frei, Tears of War, Welcome to my Dark Side and Amen.

Worst moments of the album: World on Fire and Valentine’s Day.

Released in 2017 darkSIGN-Records

Track listing 
1. Made in Germany 4:10
2. Herzschlag 3:45
3. 1-2-frei 2:54
4. World on Fire 4:02
5. Tears of War 4:57
6. One Last Rose 3:40
7. Peter, 41 3:34
8. Welcome to My Dark Side 3:17
9. Amen 2:59
10. Valentine’s Day 2:28

Band members
Thorsten Eligehausen – vocals, keyboards
Marc Vanderberg – guitars, drum & bass programming
Ken Pike – vocals

Album Review – Resist The Ocean / Heart Of The Oak (2017)

This fine German quintet doesn’t bring us just good heavy music with their new album, but an organic and aggressive explosion of high-end Metalcore with marching riffs, hearty breaks and that unparalleled melody only found in European metal.

Fans of the heavy music played by bands such as As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Trivium and All That Remains should turn their eyes (and ears) to Nuremberg, a city on the river Pegnitz and on the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal in the German state of Bavaria, where Metalcore five-piece act Resist The Ocean has been delivering high-quality metal since their inception in 2012. After the release of their debut EP Weather the Storm in 2014, those German metallers are back in perfect shape with their first full-length endeavor, titled Heart Of The Oak, an album of old school Metalcore without stereotypes that transpires sheer aggression through its ten very cohesive and electrified songs.

Composed of Jochen on vocals, Kevin and Konsti on guitars, Art on bass and Adrian on drums, Resist the Ocean craft an absolutely stunning sonority with marching riffs, hearty breaks and that unparalleled melody only found in European metal. In addition to that, Jochen is the type of frontman that doesn’t really care about clean vocals, growling almost nonstop during the whole album, which in the end has a huge impact on the band’s music and style as it increases their overall ferocity way above the average Metalcore level. The obscure and stylish cover art for Heart Of The Oak also plays an important part in the message the band wants to send to the listener, being thoroughly connect to each song of the album and to the sharp sounds emanating from all instruments.

And they need only a few seconds to take the adrenaline level to the limit with their crisp, two-fisted sonority in the opening track Oceanlung, where the amazingly heavy and melodic riffs by Kevin and Konsti guide the listener to the acid world of Resist The Ocean. In Long Road Home the whole band gets more melodic, faster and sharper, led by the pounding beats by Adrian and the once again blazing guitars by Kevin and Konsti, with Jochen’s raspy growls creating a nice paradox with the song’s polished and upbeat rhythm; while in Cauterize the band’s aggressiveness only increases as the music progresses, with Jochen reaching pure dementia with his sick screams, also presenting excellent guitar solos to give more balance to the overall result. In other words, this is one of those songs fans of modern Metalcore will have a blast listening to without a shadow of a doubt.

Adrenaline keeps flowing from all instruments in the title-track Heart Of The Oak, showcasing another superb job done by Kevin and Konsti who, supported by the solid base crafted by Adrian and bassist Art, deliver top-tier European Metalcore. Furthermore, I personally recommend you pay good attention to the official video for this song and see if you recognize who has a cameo at 1 minute and 47 seconds of the video. Yes, it’s the German tank himself, Mr. Udo Dirkschneider, who co-produced the video by the way. Getting back to the album, we have Ambers, drawing influences from modern Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal with highlights to the song’s potent beats and neck-breaking rhythm, and Handcarved Coffins, a song that could be played on any radio station due to its smoother pace and melody but that also presents that anger and violence from underground Metalcore, not to mention its electrifying chorus and guitar solos.

Dreamwalker gets back to a more straightforward formula, presenting solid instrumental and vocal lines, albeit not as creative as the rest of the album (which doesn’t mean it’s not going to work well during their live concerts, though), whereas Black Rust brings forward a thrilling and refreshing fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, with Jochen firing his enraged growls while the other band members deliver sheer awesomeness through their riffs, rumbling bass lines and fast-paced beats, turning it into one of the best songs of the album hands down. And there are two more metallic tunes to go, starting with the brisk and melodic The Last Of Our Kind, with its backing vocals providing Jochen an extra dosage of energy to blast his growls, not to mention the amazing solos by the unstoppable duo Kevin and Konsti, before the classy Metalcore chant Gilded Cage closes the album, displaying crisp guitar lines and powerful drums. Moreover, the iTunes bonus track is a radio-friendly acoustic version of this song, with the female vocals from guest musician June (Nicki and June) instead of the growls by Jochen, and a pleasant atmosphere to go along with that tenderness.

You can brave the untamable waters of Resist The Ocean by visiting their Facebook page for news about the band (including their tour dates), enjoy their music on YouTube and SoundCloud, and purchase Heart Of The Oak through the band’s Big Cartel as a digipak or a digipak + shirt bundle, as well as several other locations such as the EMP webstore, Nuclear Blast, Amazon and iTunes. As mentioned before, this fine German quintet doesn’t just deliver good heavy music to our ears, but an organic and rampant explosion of European Metalcore that will definitely catch your attention even if this type of music is not among your favorite metal genres.

Best moments of the album: Long Road Home, Heart Of The Oak and Black Rust.

Worst moments of the album: Dreamwalker.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Nose Records

Track listing
1. Oceanlung 3:47
2. Long Road Home 3:06
3. Cauterize 3:23
4. Heart Of The Oak 4:29
5. Ambers 3:07
6. Handcarved Coffins 3:54
7. Dreamwalker 3:07
8. Black Rust 4:23
9. The Last Of Our Kind 3:46
10. Gilded Cage 4:18

iTunes Exclusive bonus track
11. Gilded Cage (acoustic version) 2:23

Band members
Jochen – vocals
Kevin – guitars
Konsti – guitars
Art – bass
Adrian – drums

Guest musician
June – vocals on “Gilded Cage (acoustic version)”

Album Review – Through Chaos & Solitude / The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun EP (2017)

A classy and meaningful Melodic Black Metal project aiming at opening our eyes and show us that we, mankind, are our own blessing and our own curse.

“The thawing winds of the morning sun is us. Mankind. We are our own blessing and our own curse. We are the stroke of wing which causes these winds to blow. We try to become god ourselves while declaring him for dead and still we deny our nature. We subdue the earth and its children and still we strive for more. By now we already realized our purpose and we willingly choose to neglect it. We’re flying directly into the sun and still we’re accelerating…”

These dark, poetic words perfectly summarize the music you’ll find in The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun, the debut demo by German Melodic Black Metal project Through Chaos & Solitude, led by multi-instrumentalist Tim Rule (Forward to Eden) with the help of Sebastian D. (Castigator) on drums. Featuring a serene cover art by Pottriot Illustrationen, and written, recorded and mixed by Tim himself during this past winter in the city of Ruhrpott in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state of Germany, The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun brings beautiful, melancholic and dark music in the vein of bands like Woods Of Ypres, Agalloch and Falls Of Rauros, with each one of its three songs sending a thoughtful message about life and death, our souls, our existence and our struggles.

The initial sound of the howling wind in the first song of the demo, titled The Intransigence Of The Soul, is suddenly joined by an onrush of heavy guitars and blast beats, with the demonic gnarls by Tim giving life (or I should say death) to the song’s poetic lyrics (“Constant struggle of the mind and the heart / Constant suspense of the body and the mind / Persistency in the thought – restlessly moving on / Intransigence of the soul…”). Furthermore, anguish, despair and loneliness are just a few of the emotions explored by Tim in this piercing Black Metal chant, ending in an acoustic and pensive manner before we face the second piece of the demo, A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth), which builds a direct bridge to the opening track, beginning in a slow-paced rhythm inspired by the obscurity of Doom and Gothic Metal, also showcasing acute Black Metal blast beats by Sebastian D. and a somber ambience. Tim’s phantasmagoric vocals embrace us in darkness at first, shifting to his hellish growls and back to melodic clean vocals and, therefore, creating a nice paradox of voices inside our minds.

Also connected to its predecessor, If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed brings forward obscure acoustic guitars and once again the haunting sound of the wind while Tim darkly grasps the song’s austere lyrics, which present his personal view of mankind (“Evolution has brought us so far / And still – look where we are / Creating life and taking life / All in the same conceited breath / We are appointing ourselves to gods / Whereas declaring him for dead / If this is the best we can be / Then please let it end with me / Evolution has brought us so far…”). In addition, this composition is another excellent sample of the clash of distinct sounds Tim enjoys putting together, displaying slow and steady beats à la Doom Metal during its first half, whereas the second part of the song brings an explosion of heavy and dissonant sounds that lives up to the legacy of Scandinavian Black Metal, until it finally reaches its lugubrious ending.

In summary, Tim and his Through Chaos & Solitude are not only offering us well-crafted, harmonious and dark heavy music, but he also discusses important topics about the dangerous direction mankind is taking, pointing to our dread but inevitable extinction. If you’re a metalhead that’s always in pursuit of high-end music coming from independent artists and bands who also care about the content and message transmitted through their creations, Through Chaos & Solitude might be exactly what you’re craving, and obviously don’t forget support this brand new project by purchasing The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun at the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore (in tape or CD format), at the Mark My Words Records’ BandCamp or webstore, or at Discogs. Let’s hope Tim goes on with Through Chaos & Solitude, a classy project with a meaningful message that only brings more energy to his already excellent Melodic Black Metal, and that mankind finally opens their eyes for all the wrongful things that are happening in our world before it’s too late.

Best moments of the album: The Intransigence Of The Soul.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bound By Modern Age Records/Mark My Words Records

Track listing
1. The Intransigence Of The Soul 7:58
2. A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth) 5:10
3. If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed 6:37

Band members
Tim Rule – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Sebastian D. – drums