Album Review – Lamb of God / Lamb of God (2020)

Re-energized and unrelenting, Richmond, Virginia’s own Groove Metal titans are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.

At long last, five years after the release of the excellent VII: Sturm und Drang, Richmond, Virginia-based Groove Metal titans Lamb of God are finally back with a brand new album self-titled Lamb of God, the band’s eighth studio effort, for our vulgar delectation. Produced by Josh Wilbur (Korn, Megadeth, Gojira, Trivium), the fact that their new effort is self-titled is a testament to the band’s pride and satisfaction with these songs and this period in their creativity, showcasing a true and healthy collaboration between frontman Randy Blythe, guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell and newcomer Art Cruz on drums, a re-energized and unrelenting lineup that’s more than ready to lay claim to the metal throne. “Putting only our name on it is a statement,” Mr. Randy Blythe said. “This is Lamb of God. Here and now,” expressing in words all the rage, groove and darkness found in each of the album’s ten original and extremely acid songs.

An eerie start evolves into a pounding Groove Metal feast in the opening track Memento Mori, where Willie and Mark and infernal with their riffs, inspiring us all to slam into the pit like true metal maniacs while Randy darkly vociferates the song’s psychological lyrics (“The hardest hour, the cruelest sign / I’m waking up from this wretched lie / I fight it the same, don’t waste this day / Wake up, wake up, wake up / Memento mori”), whereas in Checkmate we’re treated to more of their modern-day, austere words (“Watch the gears grind off their teeth / The screeching halt machine digging heels in disbelief / Two reactional identities, opposing policies / A bait and switch routine”), while Art brings forward all his fury and dexterity on drums, proving why he was chosen to take the band’s drumming duties. And in Gears, my favorite song of the entire album, Randy sounds inhumane with his enraged roars accompanied by Art’s pounding beats and the groovy and thunderous bass by John, resulting in a very intricate, multi-layered and thrilling aria from start to finish.

Speeding things up a notch, the quintet fires the neck-breaking, pulverizing tune Reality Bath, bringing an amazing shredding blasted by the band’s guitar duo while Randy alternates between his trademark growls and dark, eerie clean vocals, followed by New Colossal Hate, keeping the album at an insane level of wrath and violence. In other words, it’s another song perfect for jumping up and down with the band, with John and Art making the foundations of the earth tremble with their hellish kitchen, and they continue to crush our heads with the wicked and visceral Resurrection Man, one of the heaviest and most obscure of all tracks, with Art hammering his drums fiercely while Rady fires deep, vicious roars nonstop. Then featuring guest vocalist Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), the band delivers more of their hybrid of Groove and Thrash Metal in Poison Dream, with the sick riffage by Willie and Mark adding an extra kick to the overall result, not to mention the song’s vibrant and aggressive vibe.

The one and only Mr. Chuck Billy (Testament) lends his thunderous vocals to the high-octane Groove and Thrash Metal hurricane entitled Routes, sounding very melodic and at the same time as vile and caustic as possible, offering our avid ears their usual frantic beats, rabid screams and strident guitar solos, and you better get ready for another round of insanity and heaviness spearheaded by Randy and his demented screams in Bloodshot Eyes, also bringing some introspective moments while John and Art deliver endless groove through their unstoppable weapons. And last but not least, Lamb of God fire one last breath of first-class, demolishing metal music entitled On the Hook, with all of its crisp and thunderous riffs and bass jabs being nicely spiced up by Art’s rhythmic beats, uniting the heaviest elements from Thrash and Death Metal to the band’s core essence and, therefore, putting an amazingly heavy and explosive end to the album.

You can follow Lamb of God on Facebook and on Instagram (if you haven’t done so yet, of course) to stay up to date with everything that surrounds the band, including their tour dates, new songs and videos, news and other nice-to-know details, but I highly recommend you invest a small amount of your hard-earned money into their brand new album by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of it, as this is among the best metal albums of the year hands down. It might have taken a little longer than expected for Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen to released their new album due to all this horrifying and tedious COVID-19 pandemic, but at least the wait is over and, if you look on the bright side of life, all the wait was relatively worth it, making us insanely eager to see what Lamb of God had to offer us all in such obscure times. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint at all, with their self-titled installment certainly fueling their inner selves to keep composing and delivering more of their unique Groove Metal for many years to come. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for metal concerts to be back on, buy your tickets to see Lamb of God live, and witness them kicking some serious ass with both their classics and the new fulminating songs from their new album, just the way we like it.

Best moments of the album: Memento Mori, Gears, Reality Bath and Routes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Epic Records/Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Memento Mori 5:48
2. Checkmate 4:30
3. Gears 3:55
4. Reality Bath 4:32
5. New Colossal Hate 4:30
6. Resurrection Man 4:59
7. Poison Dream 4:57
8. Routes 3:04
9. Bloodshot Eyes 3:57
10. On the Hook 4:30

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

Guest musicians
Jamey Jasta – vocals on “Poison Dream”
Chuck Billy – vocals on “Routes”

Album Review – From Hell / Rats & Ravens (2020)

Are you ready for an excellent album of Horror Metal set in mid-13th Century Eastern Europe that weaves an eerie and epic tale of witchery?

Labeling themselves as a Horror Metal concept band in which each recording is intended to be its own horror story, San Francisco, California-based Thrash/Death Metal act From Hell are unleashing upon humanity the second chapter in their horror anthology since their inception in 2010, the dark and sinister Rats & Ravens, an album set in mid-13th Century Eastern Europe that weaves an eerie and epic tale of witchery throughout its ten original tracks. Produced by Greg Wilkinson (High on Fire, Necrot, Autopsy) and mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Faith No More, Annihilator, Cynic), Rats & Ravens is not only the natural follow-up to their 2014 effort Ascent From Hell, but an evolutionary step in the career of the quartet currently comprised of the band’s mastermind and founder Aleister Sinn (also known as George Anderson) on vocals and guitar, Steve Smyth also on the guitar, Stephen Paul Goodwin on bass and Wes Anderson on drums. “The story is about a witch who desires children of her own and steals them from the villages nearby,” Aleister explains. “When she kills them, she traps the ravens who come for their souls. She keeps the children on this earth, reanimates their corpses with rats and calls them ‘Lilium.’”

Right after a short and sinister intro entitled Dark Heart, From Hell come crushing in the modern-day Thrash Metal tune They Come At Night, with its dark lyrics being manically vociferated by Aleister (“Running through the forest as daylight starts to dim / Following close behind I hear them closing in / Demons of the forest. Spirits in the wind. / Whispering in the darkness. Whispering, ‘She comes again!’”) while Stephen brings the groove with his wicked bass, followed by Lilium, a song about the proclamations from the witch as to what she has done, where the band blasts a thunderous fusion of Thrash and Groove Metal the likes of Lamb of God and Overkill, and with Aleister and Steve being merciless with their venomous riffs. And after a brilliant drum intro by Wes it’s time to slam into the pit together with From Hell in the infernal The Witch, an old school thrashing extravaganza showcasing fulminating riffs and rumbling bass punches, or in other words, the whole package diehard fans of the genre are always searching for.

Venturing through darker and more demonic lands, From Hell brings to our ears a mid-tempo, spine-chilling tune titled Don’t Cry For Help, led by the rhythmic beats by Wes while the band’s guitar duo kicks some serious ass with their riffs and solos; whereas Three And Nine is a ritualistic Thrash and Groove Metal chant where the entire band makes the skies darker and the fires form the netherworld stronger and brighter with their refined techniques, therefore keeping the level of horror in the album extremely high, and with Wes once again smashing his drums in great fashion from start to finish. Then in Forest Of The Screaming Trees a sinister, uncanny background is gradually accompanied by acoustic guitars before all hell breaks loose, morphing into a movie score-inspired Thrash Metal beast where Aleister, Steve and Stephen are in absolute sync with their hellish strings.

In the excellent Room For One those four metallers deliver a classic thrashing riffage together with vicious, pounding beats, generating the perfect ambience for Aleister and his high-pitched, devilish roars and, as a result, living up to the legacy of bands like Exodus and Testament. It’s a true headbanger, I might say, and it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and blast our ears and skulls with the frantic Body Rats, a classic Thrash Metal composition for the masses where Aleister leads his horde with his inhumane screeches while Stephen and Wes keep the earth trembling with their respective weapons. Lastly, there’s nothing better than a straightforward, in-your-face thrashing tune with some good amount of shredding, soaring screams and intricate beats like Am I Dead to properly close the album, with Wes being once again insane on drums, providing his bandmates all they need to darken our hearts and souls in the album’s climatic finale.

If you’re a fan of horror movies and at the same time a longtime admirer of Thrash and Death Metal, I highly recommend you go grab a copy of Rats & Ravens either by clicking HERE (where you can also stream it in full on Spotify) or by visiting the Scourge Records webstore, and don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for an additional share of horror, blood and mystery by keeping up to date with their news, releases and tour dates. From Hell did a fantastic job uniting their scorching metal music with witchcraft in Rats & Ravens, an album that doesn’t get tiresome nor bland at any given moment; quite the contrary, this is how heavy music should always sound. Heavy, dark, intricate and, above all that, absolutely evil.

Best moments of the album: Lilium, The Witch and Room For One.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Scourge Records

Track listing
1. Dark Heart 0:54
2. They Come At Night 5:49
3. Lilium 4:16
4. The Witch 5:50
5. Don’t Cry For Help 5:43
6. Three And Nine 5:29
7. Forest Of The Screaming Trees 5:49
8. Room For One 5:38
9. Body Rats 8:42
10. Am I Dead 6:56

Band members
Aleister Sinn – vocals, lead guitar
Steve Smyth – lead guitar
Stephen Paul Goodwin – bass guitar
Wes Anderson – drums

Album Review – Serocs / Vore EP (2020)

Bang your heads to the new EP of brutal and technical Death Metal offered by a rising force from the international extreme music scene.

What began in 2009 in Guadalajara, a metropolis in western Mexico and the capital of the state of Jalisco, as a Brutal Technical Death Metal one-man project by guitarist Antonio Freyre under the name of Serocs later transformed into a full-blown international band with members from Mexico, France and Canada, exploding to its full capacity with the release of their 2018 opus The Phobos/Deimos Suite. Now in 2020 the band comprised of the aforementioned Antonio together with vocalist Laurent Bellemare (Sutrah), guitarist and bassist Antoine Daigneault (Chthe’ilist) and drummer Kévin Paradis (Benighted) returns with the next step in their evolutionary career, the five-track EP entitled Vore, offering fans of Cryptopsy, Severed Savior and Gorguts, among others, an excellent sample of what Serocs mean when they say they play “Death Metal from all over the world”. Reamped, mixed and mastered by Hugues Deslauriers at Roarrr Sound Studio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Vore is “a very important release for me. It has all the elements of classic Serocs at first but then it transitions into something new and exciting,” commented the band’s mastermind Antonio about the album, inviting us all to know more about his project and his passion for brutal and technical music.

A wicked intro explodes into brutal and extremely technical Death Metal in Anthropic, where Kévin dictates the rhythm with his vicious beats while Laurent blasts inhumane, gruesome gnarls for our total delight, with the band’s guitar duo also showcasing all their rage and dexterity with their scorching riffage. More intricate and absolutely visceral sounds invade our senses in Building a Shrine Upon Vanishing Sands, a lesson in Technical Death Metal spiced up by Groove Metal nuances where Antoine is on fire with both his guitar riffs and utterly metallic bass punches, not to mention the fiery guitar solos by guest Phil Tougas, whereas we’re treated to a few moments of peace in the instrumental bridge Shallow Vaults before the quartet comes crushing once again with their rumbling, venomous music in The Temple of Knowledge, with Kévin once again sounding very technical but at the same time berserk on drums while Laurent continues to vociferated deeply and rabidly in great Death Metal fashion. Then venturing through darker and more progressive lands the band brings forth To Self Devour, leaning towards pure Progressive Death Metal with Antonio and Antoine extracting sheer electricity from their guitars nonstop, providing Laurent all he needs to thrive with his vicious screeches. In addition, as bonuses to fans of Serocs’ music the band offers two demos recorded in 2011 for the songs Nihilus, from the album The Phobos/Deimos Suite (check the official and infernal studio version HERE), and Anthropic, both raw and demented, and both presenting even sharper and more thunderous bass lines and drums compared to their final, lapidated shape and form.

As mentioned by the band’s mastermind Antonio Freyre, Vore is more than “just” an excellent EP of Technical Death Metal, but a solid step in the career of a band that has been on a constant rise since their inception. Hence, you can follow Serocs on Facebook and listen to more of their music on Spotify to show Antonio and his henchmen all your support to the underground, and purchase your copy of Vore from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp page or webstore in regular MCD format or as a stylish MCD and shirt bundle, as well as from Apple Music, keeping the flames of brutal and technical extreme music burning bright and, consequently, fueling bands like Serocs to keep providing us all amazing options for banging our heads like maniacs, for practicing our musician skills, and for disturbing the peace of our quiet neighborhoods.

Best moments of the album: Anthropic and Building a Shrine Upon Vanishing Sands.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Anthropic 5:17
2. Building a Shrine Upon Vanishing Sands 3:51
3. Shallow Vaults 1:22
4. The Temple of Knowledge 4:47
5. To Self Devour 4:40

Bonus tracks
6. Nihilus (2011 Demo) 3:18
7. Anthropic (2011 Demo) 3:09

Band members
Laurent Bellemare – vocals
Antonio Freyre – guitar
Antoine Daigneault – guitar, bass
Kévin Paradis – drums

Guest musician
Phil Tougas – guitar solos on “Building A Shrine Upon Vanishing Sands”

Album Review – Senescere / Alive But Somewhere Else (2020)

Focusing on struggling with the pain of loss, the new album by this Maryland-based metal band reflects all the dynamism and difficulties faced during all stages of grief.

Originally formed as an instrumental and acoustic solo project by vocalist and guitarist Alden Bradstock (Seventh Seal) in 2014, Westminster, Maryland-based Melodic Death Metal act Senescere grew into a full band with the addition of three new members in 2016, Nathan Heavel on bass, Andy Stark on drums and Josh Clark on additional vocals (all from bands such as Seventh Seal and Vestascension), allowing Alden to expand the band’s musical reach to a more aggressive and abrasive sound in their brand new opus Alive But Somewhere Else. Produced by Alden and Josh themselves, engineered and mixed by Josh at Dark Hollow Studio, mastered by Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studio, and featuring a stylish cover photograph by Mandy Martz Chappell, the album focuses on struggling with grief, turning to unhealthy sources of comfort and creating a false sense of happiness to deal with a loss. As stated by Alden himself, “loss and aging have been the central theme of this project since the beginning. I think I’ll always find some inspiration there, and new ways of looking at the pain and struggles it can bring. There are all kinds of faces and stages of grief. It’s dynamic, it isn’t always dark and miserable. It’s deceptive and difficult to categorize. I wanted the music to reflect this somehow, and I think that’s why I enjoy mixing multiple styles and varying intensity in the songwriting. It’s allowed to be extra melodic and catchy at times, just as it’s allowed to dive into blasting drums and tremolo picking if the song calls for it.”

And the smooth guitar lines by Alden ignite the atmospheric intro Freezing Of The Hillside, setting the stage for the band to stun us all in Lost In The Cold, where Alden’s deep guttural roars walk hand in hand with the classic beats by Andy, blending elements from Groove and Progressive Metal with their trademark Melodic Death Metal. Then speeding things up and enhancing their rage the quartet blasts the thrilling The Low Clouds, bringing forward dark and pensive lyrics (“Here I, as a loner / Do feel the texture of the edge / Tracing paths for days on end / A crisp and jagged line / So easy to step over / So welcoming to fall from”) and the usual strength and fury from Scandinavian metal, followed by Alive, clearly inspired by the modern and melodic metal music played by bands like Insomnium and Amorphis, with Alden growling with tons of anguish while Nathan and Andy give a lesson in groove and intricacy with their respective instruments, not to mention Josh’s spot on backing vocals.

After such powerful display of metal music, simply sit down, relax and let the enfolding lines from the instrumental piece Melted penetrate deep inside your mind before a wall of sounds smashes your senses in the fantastic Resonate, where Alden’s crisp riffs are beautifully complemented by the low-tuned bass by Nathan, exhaling progressiveness and feeling and all spiced by Alden’s piercing guitar solo; whereas Alden and Josh make a fantastic vocal duet in Aging Affinity, blending the visceral and violent sounds of classic Death Metal with the harmony and complexity of more modern styles, ending in a cryptic and atmospheric way. Heartspace is perfect for slamming into the circle pit while at the same time enjoying the sharp and intricate beats by Andy and the thunderous bass lines by Nathan, resulting in another ode to contemporary Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal that ends up warming up our senses for almost ten minutes of Senescere’s wicked music in Moon And Sun, where the band’s razor-edged riffs, pounding drums and obscure vocals invite the listener to an exciting metal voyage in what’s by far the most progressive and detailed of all songs, even bringing hints of Black Metal and putting an introspective and climatic ending to the album.

Highly recommended for fans of the melodic and pensive heavy music played by renowned acts the likes of Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis, Opeth, Katatonia and Insomnium, among several others, Alive But Somewhere Else can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to Alden and his henchmen you should definitely purchase a copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their classy music, helping you cope with loss and pain to the sound of our beloved Heavy Metal and, therefore, keeping Alden and his Senescere beyond inspired to create more of their multi-layered and meaningful music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Lost In The Cold, The Low Clouds and Resonate.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Freezing Of The Hillside 2:54
2. Lost In The Cold 4:12
3. The Low Clouds 5:36
4. Alive 3:36
5. Melted 2:13
6. Resonate 3:54
7. Aging Affinity 4:26
8. Heartspace 3:55
9. Moon And Sun 9:34

Band members
Alden Bradstock – guitars, vocals
Nathan Heavel – bass
Andy Stark – drums
Josh Clark – additional vocals

Album Review – Deified / Anthrobscene EP (2020)

Playing dark, angry, philosophical and downright nihilistic Groove Metal, this UK-based outfit is ready to discuss everything that’s wrong in our society with their brand new EP.

Playing a dark, angry, philosophical and downright nihilistic fusion of Groove Metal, Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal since their inception in 2013, reflecting on some of the worst parts of today’s status quo and always targeting key political figures, nuclear annihilation and conscious degradation, Merseyside, England-based outfit Deified is unleashing upon humanity their third EP and fourth official album (taking into account their 2015 full-length opus Ascension), entitled Anthrobscene, following up on their critically acclaimed 2018 EP Inhuman Manifesto. A time capsule discussing modern times, Anthrobscene doesn’t hold back with its commentary on social media, the digital revolution, mental health, climate change, politics and more, showcasing all the talent and rage from frontman Jamie Hughes, guitarists Matthew Pike (who also produced, mixed and mastered the album) and Alistair Blackhall, bassist Tom Simm and drummer Jordan Stanley-Jones and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of the caustic metal blasted by renowned bands like Lamb Of God and Sylosis.

The cinematic intro Prelude heightens our senses for the acid Dark Desires, a visceral Lamb Of God-inspired tune where Jamie roars demonically accompanied by the razor-edged riffs by Matthew and Alistair, resulting in a high-speed dirty extravaganza overflowing madness and wrath, not to mention how Tom and Jordan give a lesson in groove with their respective bass and drums. Then it’s  time to bang our heads to the strident and melodic Broken Matrix, a modern-day Melodic Death and Groove Metal for the masses showcasing an ass-kicking shredding and classic beats, providing Jamie all he needs to bark like a beast, whereas sounding like a stone crusher on drums Jordan dictates the rhythm in Enemies Within, while Jamie declaims the song’s austere lyrics and Matthew and Alistair once again demolish our minds with their unrelenting guitars, all spiced up by Tom’s rumbling bass lines.

Following such electrifying display of modern metal music, a brief, futuristic Intermission sets the stage for Deified to kill once again in the frantic and sharper-than-a-knife Apotheosis/Rebirth, where the entire band sounds furious and vile from start to finish, with Jamie taking the lead with his maniacal vocals while Tom and Jordan make the earth tremble with their avalanche of low-tuned and thunderous sounds. The second to last blast of Deified’s well-balanced music comes in the form of Blood Under the Bridge, where the band’s stringed trio is on absolute fire with their riffage and thunderous bass jabs, sounding absolutely perfect for headbanging nonstop or crushing your skull into the pit, consequently keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline, before the closing song An Ode to Armageddon comes ripping with its epic start and its explosion of fulminating Groove Metal, or in other words, it’s an instrumental outro showcasing crisp riffs, piercing solos and endless stamina flowing from its bass and drums for our total delight.

In a nutshell, it’s impressive how dynamic, versatile and meaningful Deified were able to sound in only 28 minutes of music in Anthrobscene, proving how skillful the band is and why they’ve been on a roll since they started back in 2013, having already being crowned the winners of Bloodstock M2TM in 2015 and having already toured with iconic bands the likes of Cattle Decapitation, Exodus, Incite and Krysthla. Hence, don’t forget to show the guys from Deified your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel and, above all, to grab your copy of their brand new EP from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Anthrobscene is about everything we fear the most, and at the same time about everything we can’t live without, showing how rotten our minds are and, of course, how heavy music is yet again one of the best ways to represent all that’s wrong with the society we live in, and we must thank the guys from Deified for offering us metalheads such high quality and honest music with each and every single one of their albums.

Best moments of the album: Dark Desires and Apotheosis/Rebirth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Prelude 1:01
2. Dark Desires 4:33
3. Broken Matrix 4:05
4. Enemies Within 3:49
5. Intermission 0:48
6. Apotheosis/Rebirth 5:18
7. Blood Under the Bridge 5:40
8. An Ode to Armageddon 3:04

Band members
Jamie Hughes – vocals
Matthew Pike – guitars
Alistair Blackhall – guitars
Tom Simm – bass
Jordan Stanley-Jones – drums

Album Review – MĀRA / Self-Destruct. Survive. Thrive! EP (2020)

It’s time to self-destruct, survive and thrive together with the most dynamic, hardworking and promising unity of the Latvian metal scene.

If you’ve never heard of any metal bands hailing from the Republic of Latvia, a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, you should definitely take a shot at Riga-based Death, Thrash and Groove Metal unity MĀRA, who has just unleashed upon humanity the excellent EP entitled Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, the follow-up to their highly-acclaimed 2018 debut EP Therapy For An Empath. Formed in 2018, the group spearheaded by the ravishing Māra Lisenko together with her bandmates Denis Melnik on the guitars, Dmitry Lisenko on bass and Alberts Mednis on drums has been making a name for themselves since their inception, having already played in several summer festivals and toured all across Europe, also supporting renowned metal acts the likes of Sepultura, Krisiun and Satyricon. In their newborn spawn Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, the quartet offers more of their trademark metallic and industrialized sounds, with each one of the album’s songs bringing a true and self-experienced storyline, therefore inviting us all to find out more about the band and, above all, about ourselves, all embraced by the stylish artwork by Latvian artist Gundega Bārzdaine (Mad Meow Art).

As we face the intro titled Mīļā Māra, or “Dear Māra” in English (as if she was going to start writing a letter to herself), a shamanic and enfolding atmosphere sets the stage for Leaking Guilt, starting in a serene manner guided by gentle piano notes before morphing into visceral and futuristic Melodic Death Metal. Furthermore, Denis is infernal with his riffs, accompanied by the thunderous beats by Alberts and of course by Māra’s sharp fusion of clean vocals and demented roars; followed by Beauty Of Humanity, featuring the iconic Björn Strid (Soilwork) as a guest vocalist and presenting lyrics about the decay of mankind (“Brutal truth / Smashes your face against the wall / Cut enough wounds open / To feast on your blood / You’re dragged behind a car / Barely alive / Still asked to smile and hide all your pain”). It’s indeed an electrifying hybrid of Death and Groove Metal, with Dmitry extracting sheer savagery from his rumbling bass.

Then putting the pedal to the metal the quartet pierces our minds with their Arch Enemy-inspired extravaganza titled Religionipulation, by far my favorite track of the EP where Māra is on fire with her enraged growls and gnarls while Denis and Dmitry smash their stringed weapons in great fashion. And an eerie atmosphere ignites the dark and heavy Life Kills (Fear), bringing forward psychological words blasted by Māra (“Eternity passes / Me, blood and the ground / Thoughts of the existence / Rhetoric questions echo / Silence suppresses / Voices in the head scream / Begging for a help / Voice never follows”) while Dmitry adds endless groove and energy to the music with his bass punches. Lastly, featuring guest bassist Jeff Hughell from Six Feet Under, Don’t Look Back In Grief sounds perfect for breaking your neck headbanging, with Māra’s she-demon vocals being once again captivating from start to finish in their fast, furious and modern Death Metal feast.

MĀRA have already been rated #1 for “Brutal Female Fronted Metal” and have scored in the top 6 best EP releases of 2018 with their debut album, which also won the “Album of the Year” award at the 2018 Latvian Metal Music Awards, not to mention that their relentless frontwoman has topped many “Best Female Metal Vocalists” polls in the past couple of years as well as won the “Best Vocalist” award at that same 2018 ceremony. Having said that, it’s more than obvious that the band will continue to pave their path to stardom with Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, which you can stream in full on Spotify and purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, an album that might be short in duration with only 21 minutes of music, but that carries an endless amount of energy, feeling and groove spiced up by meaningful and clever lyrics. Hence, don’t forget to follow MĀRA on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, proving you have what it takes to self-destruct, survive and thrive together with Māra and the boys.

Best moments of the album: Religionipulation and Life Kills (Fear).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Intro (Mīļā Māra) 1:01
2. Leaking Guilt 3:44
3. Beauty Of Humanity 4:06
4. Religionipulation 3:44
5. Life Kills (Fear) 4:30
6. Don’t Look Back In Grief 4:14

Band members
Māra Lisenko – vocals
Denis Melnik – guitars
Dmitry Lisenko – bass
Alberts Mednis – drums

Guest musicians
Björn Strid – additional vocals on “Beauty Of Humanity”
Jeff Hughell – additional bass on “Don’t Look Back In Grief”
Artur Georgadze – synths and audio effects

Album Review – Aborted / La Grande Mascarade EP (2020)

Belgium’s own Death Metal trailblazers return with a three-track EP that will take you on a frantic journey through the realms of brutality and violence.

Forged in the fires of Waereghem, a municipality in the Belgian province of East Flanders, in the distant year of 1995, but currently featuring members from Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States, the unrelenting Brutal Death Metal trailblazers Aborted have just released a pummeling new three-track EP entitled La Grande Mascarade, containing two brand new tracks plus one previously unreleased song from the recording sessions of their 2018 album TerrorVision. Produced, mixed and mastered by Kristian ‘Kohle’ Kohlmannslehner at Kohlekeller Studio and featuring  a cadaverous artwork by Mitchell Nolte, La Grande Mascarade will take you on an 11-minute infernal journey through the realms of Death Metal and Grindcore ruled by Aborted, showcasing all the talent and fury exhaled by frontman Sven De Caluwe and his henchmen Harrison Patuto and Ian Jekelis on the guitars, Stefano Franceschini on bass and Ken Bedene on drums, leaving us all eager for more of their extreme sounds in a not-so-distant future.

And otherworldly voices kick off the brutal and visceral opening tune Gloom and the Art of Tribulation, exploding into a feast of modern-day Death Metal infused with Deathcore and Grindcore elements where Sven roars and barks like a true beast while Harrison and Ian are venomous with their riffs. Needless to say, this will undoubtedly be a fantastic addition to their live performances, not to mention the impact of its psychological lyrics on our minds (“Trauma sets in / Mesmerized by the hell I created / Swallowed whole by the darkness that lives within me / Architect of my spiritual undoing / Lover to misery”). Following such beautiful start they offer more of their trademark progressiveness and rage in another grim and cryptic song titled Serpent of Depravity, with Ken’s intricate and fulminating beats being perfectly complemented by the scorching riffs fired by the band’s guitar duo in a hybrid of Groove and Progressive Death Metal. And lastly, we’re treated to Funereal Malediction, a pure, hellish Death Metal and Grindcore devastation where Stefano and Ken make the foundations of the earth tremble with their respective weapons while Sven sounds absolutely berserk and demented on vocals. This amazing composition couldn’t have sounds more infernal than what it already does, with the complexity of their riffage and drums being beyond amazing and, therefore, resulting in a vile conclusion to the album.

This short but very entertaining (and obviously demolishing) display of Brutal Death Metal can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course, as we’re all living through such difficult times, we metalheads must stay together and provide the bands we love our true support by purchasing their music and merch, which in the case of Aborted can be done by clicking HERE or HERE. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram (in case you don’t do that already), letting them know how much you enjoy their sonic devastation and inspiring them to provide us more and more albums and EP’s like La Grande Mascarade, keeping the fires of extreme music burning and, consequently, keeping us all with a huge smile on our faces (and a lot of pain in our necks due to some brutal headbanging).

Best moments of the album: Funereal Malediction.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Gloom and the Art of Tribulation 4:38
2. Serpent of Depravity 3:21
3. Funereal Malediction 3:50

Band members
Sven De Caluwe – vocals
Harrison Patuto – guitar
Ian Jekelis – guitar
Stefano Franceschini – bass
Ken Bedene – drums

Album Review – Klendathu / Ad Nauseam EP (2020)

Bang your head to the debut EP by an Australian one-man band with a huge focus on artistic expressionism, animal rights, veganism and the inevitability of the planet’s decline.

The name Klendathu, which means means “triangular” in the Zulu language, is the homeworld of the creatures known as the Arachnids from the 1997 cult movie Starship Troopers, while the expression “ad nauseam” is a Latin term for argument or other discussion that has continued to the point of nausea. However, when you put those two together the result is a Melbourne, Australia-based Blackened Death Metal/Dark Metal one-man project entitled Klendathu, formed in the beginning of 2020 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Scott Masson, the lead singer for Metalcore/Deathcore act He Who Seeks Vengeance and more recently for Death Metal band Apocalyptian, both already reviewed at The Headbanging Moose. With a huge focus on artistic expressionism and with its lyrical content inspired by our ecological footprint, environmental issues, animal rights, veganism and the inevitability of the planet’s decline, the project’s debut EP Ad Nauseam will surely please fans of the music by Behemoth, Gorgoroth, Cannibal Corpse, Sylosis, Six Feet Under and Sepultura, among many others, while at the same time sending a strong message to everyone who still thinks our decaying world is doing just fine.

Scott, who’s by the way a very proud vegan and animal rights activist and environmentalist, has already hinted at that theme in his previous records with He Who Seeks Vengeance (They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became, released in 2019) and Apocalyptian (Citizens Of The Apocalypse, released earlier this year), but it’s with Klendathu that Scott finally has all the freedom to be himself and express how he feels about the current state of things. In addition, just to give you an idea of how personal the album is, everything in the album was recorded by Scott himself, with the exception of the mixing part which was done by an electronic producer named Kibosh, and the final result is indeed very personal, heavy and dark.

An ominous intro grows in intensity until dark and damned sounds invade our senses in Denying The Birth, where Scott fires Doom Metal-inspired riffs and infernal blast beats while screaming like a rabid beast, reminding me of old school Behemoth with some phantasmagorical background elements to add an extra kick to it. Then once again demolishing everything and everyone with his insane beats and riffage, Scott vociferates and barks nonstop in Anger Awakening, presenting hints of the Thrash and Groove Metal by Sepultura from their Roots-era while keeping Klendathu’s core obscurity intact, followed by Bargaining The New Revelation, the most vicious and devastating of all songs, with Scott doing a great job with his harsh roars and thunderous bass and drums, therefore  generating a reverberating sound that will crush your skull mercilessly, all spiced up by teen activist Greta Thunberg’s famous one-liner “How dare you!” and other parts of her speech during the UN climate summit in New York on September 23, 2019. After such bold and dense tune, Scott adds nuances of devilish Blackened Doom to his already scorching sonority in The Prelude Depression, where you can easily feel all the anguish and hatred flowing from his demented screams while the song’s keys and piano notes give the overall result a touch of finesse. And last but not least, more groovy and enraged sounds permeate the air in Accepting The End, with Scott going full Death Metal on vocals and firing crisp guitar riffs and solos. Moreover, its modern-day Black Metal-like drums are the ultimate proof that this incendiary song couldn’t have sounded more austere than what it already is.

You can follow Scoot and his very interesting Klendathu on Facebook, showing your appreciation not only for his music but also for his fight for animal rights and his efforts against all environmental issues we’ve been facing in the past few decades, and of course purchase his debut opus Ad Nauseam directly from his BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music and from Amazon, or stream the EP in full on YouTube and on Spotify. In the end, as long as you bang your head to Klendathu’s flammable music while doing your part in trying to make this world a better place, I’m sure guys like Scott will feel utterly inspired to keep crafting meaningful heavy music for many years to come. That, of course, if the world as we know it doesn’t come to an end first.

Best moments of the album: Bargaining The New Revelation and Accepting The End.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Denying The Birth 6:19
2. Anger Awakening 4:52
3. Bargaining The New Revelation 5:27
4. The Prelude Depression 5:52
5. Accepting The End 5:02

Band members
Scott Masson – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Trivium / What The Dead Men Say (2020)

It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.

Three years after the release of the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, the unrelenting Matt Heafy on lead vocals and guitar, Corey Beaulieu on guitar and backing vocals, Paolo Gregoletto on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Alex Bent on drums and percussion, collectively known as Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium, return with another round of their always cohesive and breathtaking heavy music in What The Dead Men Say, the ninth studio album and another awesome addition to their undisputed career. Recorded at Studio 606 West in Northridge, Los Angeles, California, engineered, mixed and produced by Josh Wilbur, and mastered by Ted Jensen, What The Dead Men Say brings forward a myriad of styles and sounds that will please fans of all phases of the band, from Melodic Death Metal to Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Thrash Metal and Deathcore. “We’ve found a really great place to exist in this world. We love Melodic Death Metal, we love Death and Black Metal, and we love Hardcore. What the Dead Men Say is everything we do on one record,” commented Matt about their newborn spawn.

Furthermore, like The Sin and the Sentence, the lyrical content on What The Dead Men Say was inspired by modern aspects of life, with the album’s title being taken from a science fiction novella of the same name written by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in Worlds of Tomorrow magazine in June 1964. For instance, “Catastrophist” deals with the theme of humanity in a crisis, “Amongst the Shadows & the Stones” is about the horrors of war, “The Defiant” was inspired by R. Kelly’s documentary and abuse-enabling, “Bending the Arc to Fear” talks about the surveillance aspect of modern society, and so on, with the closing song “The Ones We Leave Behind” being about “running over” people to succeed in life, delivering a powerful message and portraying a whole new meaning in the wake of the 2019–2020 COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, it was more than obvious that the fusion of a precise and powerful music with meaningful lyrics would result in another future classic by Trivium, leaving us eager for more of their always-evolving and never-repetitive music in the years yet to come.

As soon as you hit play, the cinematic instrumental intro IX (a clear reference to the fact that What The Dead Men Say is their ninth full-length album) sets the stage for Matt & Co. to kick some ass with the title-track What the Dead Men Say, where Alex begins crushing his drums with tons of precision and fury accompanied by the scorching riffs by Matt and Corey. Bringing elements from the Progressive and Groove Metal by bands like Lamb Of God added to their core musicality, this is indeed an excellent way to start their new opus, followed by Catastrophist, one of the previously released singles of the album, keeping the groove and electricity flowing from start to finish. Moreover, its razor-edged riffs remind me of some of their compositions from their 2013 album Vengeance Falls, while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his sick bass jabs.

Then it’s time to go absolutely mental to the sound of Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, by far my favorite of all songs, presenting their trademark riffage and solos, intricate beats, tons of breaks and variations and an endless amount of violence in a hybrid of Groove, Heavy and Thrash Metal, with Matt rabidly roaring the song’s lyrics (“Bloodied corpses, broken bones reveal / A throng of clashes crushed, our nightmare sealed / Amongst the shadows and the stones”), whereas the semi-ballad Bleed Into Me, despite the solidness of the instrumental pieces (in special Paolo’s somber bass lines), doesn’t really click and falls flat after a while, but there’s nothing to worry about as this is the only low (or maybe I should say less intense) point of the entire album. And back to their usual high-octane mode the quartet fires the also amazing The Defiant, showcasing Iron Maiden-inspired guitars walking hand in hand with the vicious beats by Alex while at the same time presenting a great balance between Matt’s clean vocals and harsh screams. As a matter of fact, could this be an “alternate” version or a sequel to their classic “The Deceived” due to the sonic similarity between both songs? That’s a question only Matt, Corey, Paolo and Alex can answer, of course.

In the top-of-the-line Sickness Unto You a mellow and melancholic start gradually morphs into a violent metal feast by Trivium, with sheer rage flowing form Matt’s vocals while he and Corey demolish our ears with their razor-edged riffs, both supported by the always thunderous bass by Paolo, whereas Scattering the Ashes can be considered a good example of how diverse their new album is by blending the music from Silence In The Snow with In Waves, once again presenting a solid instrumental and spot-on backing vocals overflowing pure anguish. Then we’re treated to more of their always cryptic lyrics (“A strain of vigilance / Deep roots that all connect / We wait so diligent / Watching you / Watching you”) in Bending the Arc to Fear, starting in a Black and Thrash Metal-ish vibe and sounding perfect for slamming into the pit to the sound of the bestial drums by Alex. On a side note, I personally love the strident and metallic sound of their stringed axes throughout the entire album, enhanced by its crisp and polished overall production. Lastly, closing the album the quartet offers us all the melodic and vibrant The Ones We Left Behind, featuring the rumbling bass by Paolo accompanied by the stunning beats and fills by Alex while Matt and Corey give a lesson in riffs and feeling, concluding the album in a powerful and effective manner.

After listening to What The Dead Men Say in its entirety for a few times, you’ll quickly notice how not only the band’s technique and professionalism, but also their synchronicity, have been growing stronger and stronger through the years, pointing to an even brighter future for Matt and his bandmates in a near future and, therefore, positioning Trivium as one of the driving forces of modern-day metal music, never sounding tiresome nor predictable at all with each one of their releases. Hence, go check what the boys are up to on Facebook and on Instagram (especially because they’re all very active users of most social media platforms), subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, grab your copy of such entertaining album from the Warner Music webstore or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album (and if you have some extra money go for the Japanese Edition of the album, as it contains two very special acoustic versions for the songs “Bleed Into Me” and “Scattering the Ashes”), raising your horns, banging your head and listening to what the (un)dead men from Trivium have to say through their unparalleled music.

Best moments of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, The Defiant, Sickness Unto You and The Ones We Left Behind.

Worst moments of the album: Bleed Into Me.

Released in 2020 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. IX 1:59
2. What the Dead Men Say 4:45
3. Catastrophist 6:28
4. Amongst the Shadows & the Stones 5:40
5. Bleed Into Me 3:49
6. The Defiant 4:29
7. Sickness Unto You 6:14
8. Scattering the Ashes 3:25
9. Bending the Arc to Fear 4:46
10. The Ones We Left Behind 4:57

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Bleed Into Me (Acoustic version) 3:45
12. Scattering the Ashes (Acoustic version) 3:04

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Album Review – Prismeria / Requiem (2020)

Behold the rise of one of the most promising acts of the current French underground scene armed with their new album of undisputed Deathcore.

Forged in the fires of Lyon, France in 2017, Thrash/Deathcore outfit Prismeria is back in action with their first full-length album Requiem, following up on the very positive feedback received for their debut effort, the 2018 EP Lost Individual Thoughts. Bringing forth a fusion of the different influences of each one of its five members, ranging from Thrash and Death Metal to more modern sounds such as Deathcore, the band comprised of frontman Cyril Weinbrenner, guitarists Benjamin Lamy and Leny Garcia, bassist Alexandre Gros and drummer Nicolas Voydeville put a lot of effort and heart into the creation of Requiem, resulting in nine original and electrifying songs that perfectly represent all the modernity and rage proposed by the band. Produced by Convulsound Productions, Requiem also showcases a crystal clear sound quality which enhances the band’s punch considerably, again proving why they’ve been recruited for so many gigs throughout France since their inception, including opening for renowned acts like Nervosa and Nervecell.

The opening track North is frantic and furious form the very first second, or in other words, a thrashing Deathcore tune where Cyril begins his growling attack accompanied by the bestial beats by Nicolas, resulting in an amazing welcome card by the quintet to newcomers to their metal realm. Then we have Native Spirit and its rebellious lyrics (“Bang your fucking head / The battalion of mad / Crossing the swamp of the fetish / Bringing the cornerstone from the underground / The shrine of their incarnate God, was set… to become”), while Benjamin and Leny bring forward a mix of insanity, melody and industrialized sound through their wicked guitars, followed by The Ceremony, a headbanging, galloping tune by Prismeria where Alexandre adds thunder and groove to the musicality with his metallic bass while Cyril keeps barking and growling like a beast.

Blending their Deathcore essence with Progressive and Groove Metal the band fires the high-octane and violent Irkalla, with its razor-edged guitar riffs walking hand in hand with Nicolas’ blast beats and fills in a lesson in modern metal music; whereas Life is an instrumental extravaganza where the band accelerates the speed and invites us all to slam into the pit together with them, showcasing classic, incendiary riffs that live up to the legacy of Metalcore and also reminding me of the sonority blasted by Danish act Xenoblight. And Nicolas kicks things off in the high-speed Passenger with his insane drums before Benjamin and Leny come crushing our heads with their sick guitars, also presenting groovy passage where we have the pleasure of listening to the band uncompromisingly jamming, while Cyril darkly vociferates the song’s cryptic words (“Born in the nuclear explosion / Raised as nothing from the nothing / Your time here is just a perception / Stand up right now and act like a king”).

Deep Into Dementia sounds and feels like a ritualistic call to arms by Prismeria, displaying a scorching riffage by the band’s guitar duo and of course endless aggressiveness flowing from Cyril’s demented roars in an awesome feast of Metalcore infused with Thrash Metal nuances. After such demolishing song it’s time for Low Hopes of Men, a serene instrumental bridge featuring crisp acoustic guitars setting the stage for The Groovy Snake, even more progressive than its predecessors with both Benjamin and Leny firing sheer dementia through their riffs while Nicolas’ beats bring forward a huge amount of intricacy, ending the album on a dense and visceral way just the way we like it in Thrash, Death and Metalcore.

You can take a full and very detailed listen at Requiem on Spotify, but of course in order to show your support to those French metallers and to properly bang your head to their modern and vibrant Deathcore you should definitely purchase the album from their own BandCamp or Big Cartel, as well as from Amazon. In addition, keep up to date with all things Prismeria by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by subscribing to their official YouTube channel, witnessing the rise of one of the most promising acts of the current French underground scene, and with Requiem being another solid step forward in their musical journey.

Best moments of the album: North, Irkalla and Passenger.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. North 4:58
2. Native Spirit 3:19
3. The Ceremony 3:13
4. Irkalla 3:09
5. Life (Instrumental) 3:46
6. Passenger 4:38
7. Deep Into Dementia 3:32
8. Low Hopes of Men (Instrumental) 4:16
9. The Groovy Snake 4:12

Band members
Cyril Weinbrenner – vocals
Benjamin Lamy – guitars
Leny Garcia – guitars
Alexandre Gros – bass
Nicolas Voydeville – drums