Album Review – Stabbed / Long Way Down (2017)

A beautiful step further in the promising career of a Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal act that presents to the listener a slightly different sounding, showcasing a mad balance of Progressive and Groove Metal.

Following the release of their ambitious 2016 EP Submerge, Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal act Stabbed returns now in 2017 with their first full-length installment, entitled Long Way Down, a beautiful step further in their promising career that presents to the listener a slightly different band, tipping the balance in favor of dominating, heavy grooves, overwhelming raw energy over dark ambience and Post-Rock elements, also showcasing a mad balance of Progressive and Groove Metal.

In addition, Long Way Down is not only the debut of bassist Marcell Demeter with Stabbed, replacing Dávid Roskó (who left the band by the end of 2016), but it also features a welcome surprise in the album closer performed by guest vocalist Tadeusz Rieckmann, primarily known as the drummer of Týr and Dalriada, and the artwork by longtime collaborator Zénó Farkas (Artphetamin), who returned for this album to represent the band visually and artistically. Throughout the album’s eight tracks, this Budapest-based group aimed at materializing through their cryptic lyrics and sharp sounds a portrait of a world full of angst ridden people running in circles, blinded by their fears and apathy, bringing a stronger taste to their musicality.

A modern intro grows into electrifying contemporary Sludge Metal with elements from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal in the title-track Long Way Down, opening the album on a higher-than-usual note. Furthermore,  frontman Alex Karamuskó sounds bestial with his demented screams, while the guitar duo Attila Kecskés and Gergely Kovács are simply lancinating with their riffs, not to mention the amazing European melody supporting the song in the background. In the vicious Becoming, the whole band is in their most aggressive mode, sounding like an enraged hybrid of Sepultura from the Roots-era with Caliban, with Márk Potkovácz with his potent beats together with newcomer Marcell and his rumbling bass enhancing the song’s ravenousness considerably. Whereas in Tides a somber beginning led by Márk is gradually accompanied by both guitars and bass, before Alex comes with his blend of demonic growling and obscure clean vocals. In other words, this great display of their vibrant Post-Sludge Metal couldn’t sound more modern, metallic and consequently perfect for their live performances.

The following tune, titled Nyctalopia, brings forward more violent sounds with a precise harmonious base, becoming one of the band’s most progressive creations to date with all its breaks and variations, as well as its acid and darkling lyrics (“Descending from the coruscating lights / Into intangible doom / Chimerical phantoms tearing away / The spark from my weakened soul / Complacent proprietor in the house of lies / Leading my rendition to a Blind idiot God”). Then we have Lataris, which just like all of their songs is very cohesive and energetic, showcasing fierce riffs by both Attila and Gergely while Alex keeps hitting us with both his smooth, clean lines and his sick gnarls; and Mute, a song that clearly draws influences from bands like Pantera and Lamb of God in an aggressive mix of Sludge and Groove Metal, with Alex and Márk leading the musicality with their screams and beats respectively, sounding dark and gripping from start to finish.

In Devoid,  Stabbed slow down a little after all their usual display of anger, providing the listener a more melodic and alternative sonority where a solid instrumental with some spot-on guitar solos keeps the momentum going for the band, despite not being one of their best creations. And finally, featuring guest singer Tadeusz Rieckmann, Vessel displays an epic vibe in its intro, morphing into an obscure Post-Sludge Metal anthem with a Groove Metal twist,menacing guitars and bass, and poetic lyrics (“You have to spit to see the shine / Wallow in mud / Look all your demons in the eye / Killing your mind / We have not built this ship to wreck / On promised lands / Take nothing, fuck the test / All that you’ve bled”), as well as the raging guttural by Alex, flowing into an abrupt but climatic ending.

In order to follow Stabbed on their upward journey to success in heavy music with Long Way Down, simply visit their Facebook page for new and tour dates and their YouTube channel for more of their groovy and mordant music. And if you want to buy Long Way Down (which is available for a full listen on Spotify), you can get it at Stabbed’s BandCamp page or on Amazon. After Long Way Down it’s hard to imagine the world of Post-Sludge Metal without Stabbed, a band that has been building a solid reputation since their genesis and that’s becoming a synonym of modern metal music not only in their homeland, but anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Long Way Down, Tides and Vessel.

Worst moments of the album: Devoid.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing 
1. Long Way Down 3:52
2. Becoming 4:47
3. Tides 4:24
4. Nyctalopia 3:10
5. Lataris 4:33
6. Mute 5:32
7. Devoid 4:10
8. Vessel (feat. Tadeusz Rieckmann) 5:07

Amazon bonus tracks
9. Long Way Down (Instrumental) 3:52
10. Lataris (Instrumental) 4:33

Band members
Alex Karamuskó – vocals
Attila Kecskés – guitar
Gergely Kovács – guitar
Marcell Demeter – bass
Márk Potkovácz – drums

Guest musician
Tadeusz Rieckmann – additional vocals on “Vessel”

Album Review – Body Count / Bloodlust (2017)

Controversy, acidity and hatred are just some of the main ingredients in one of the heaviest and most complete albums in the career of the bloodthirsty Ice-T, Ernie C and Co.

We as human beings all got a deranged sickness deeply rooted inside our minds, a will to kill for sport and for revenge, an inner desire to make the ones who disagree with us or who hurt us suffer in pain, and that’s exactly what the iconic Ice-T and his henchmen, collectively known as American Thrash/Groove Metal band Body Count, have to offer us in their new installment, the excellent Bloodlust. Since their inception in 1990 in Los Angeles, the band has been delivering a high quality hybrid of Groove Metal and Hip Hop, but in Bloodlust they managed to increase the heaviness of their compositions significantly, resulting in what can be considered their most metal album of all time.

Not only Bloodlust is the sixth studio album in their solid career, but the controversy, acidity and hatred flowing from each one of the album’s 11 tracks puts it almost side by side with their cult self-titled debut album, from 1992. That only shows how passionate Ice-T and the other are about heavy music, always playing it with a lot of energy, trying to send a clear message to their fans and showing the bitter truth of the lives of the less fortunate people in the United States and all over the world. Besides, when you have guest musicians the likes of Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Sepultura), you know the music will hit you in the face like an uncontrolled bulldozer.

Loud sirens and the more-than-special guest Mr. Dave Mustaine himself declare martial law, before Body Count begin delivering sheer heaviness, chaos and groove in the opening track, the awesome Civil War, with Ice-T having a fantastic performance with his hostile rap-like vocals, resulting in one of their darkest compositions to date; and keep banging your head to the always boisterous riffs by Ernie C and Juan of the Dead while Ill Will smashes his drums mercilessly in this Groove Metal anthem The Ski Mask Way. Needless to say, the song’s lyrics are as aggressive as hell (“I’m in your rear view, when you leave the club / How cold could I be, you look like food to me / All on instagram, showin’ that cash off / What you really hope, is I don’t take this mask off don’t make me punish you don’t want to hurt your wife / Come up off that watch, it ain’t worth your life / I gotta crew of wolves, life has no meaning / We roll late night and hunt human beings”). Slowing the pace down a bit and increasing the groove considerably, This Is Why We Ride is a song where Ice-T is nicely supported by the excellent job done by Vincent Price on bass and Ill Will on drums, not to mention that the sounds of the shots and the sirens of the cops together with the insane heaviness blasted by the band will crack your neck mercilessly.

If you’re already feeling that pain in your neck after such intense headbanging music, All Love Is Lost will terminate it for good. Featuring the unparalleled growls by guest Max Cavalera, the vocals in this song burst with acidity while the instrumental pieces are a work of anger. Moreover, Ernie C and Juan sound like two serial killers slitting throats with their bestial riffs. Then the band offers us a fantastic version of two all-time classics by Slayer, Raining In Blood / Postmortem 2017, with Ice-T kicking ass on “Raining Blood” while Vincent Price takes care of the vocal duties on “Postmortem”. Furthermore, the intro to the song is already a lot of fun, with Ice-T explaining the origins of Body Count saying he wanted to have a Heavy Metal and Hip-Hop band by blending the music by Black Sabbath, Suicidal Tendencies and, of course, Slayer. God, Please Believe Me works as a poetic bridge by Ice-T and his crew to the fulminating Walk With Me…, one of my favorite songs of the album where guest singer Randy Blythe vociferates like a beast, while Ill Will sounds insane on drums and Ice-T is just as rabid as Randy. This is a flawless hybrid of Thrash, Groove and Rap Metal, showcasing even hints of Death Metal, perfect for stage diving, mosh pitting and sick headbanging due to its beyond brutal rhythm.

Here I Go Again, a re-recording of a demo track from Ice T’s Return of the Real sessions, brings a somber ambience with Ice-T delivering some darker-than-usual vocals, with its instrumental being pretty solid which results in an effective support to the craziness flowing from the song’s lyrics and the demented screams in the background. Then we have the controversial No Lives Matter, another high-end explosion of Groove Metal by Body Count which blends their heavy music with an austere discussion about the issues surrounding the “Black Lives Matter” initiative. Put differently, it’s an extremely politicized tune with insane bass lines by Vincent and a great performance by Sean E Sean with his samplers, paving the track for the title-track Bloodlust, a song about our attraction for death and brutality, about the inner desire of mankind for killing, portraying it as a sickness inside our hearts and minds. While Ernie C and Juan fire fierce and melodious riffs, Ill Will continues his technical and groovy attack on drums, showing how amazing this song will sound when played live.

And if you think Ice-T and his henchmen would give you a break from all their sonic havoc, they come crushing one last time with the best song of the album as their closing act, the flammable Black Hoodie, an amalgamation of their past, present and future where poetry and violence are powerfully united (“Got on a black hoodie, its hood up on my head / I didn’t have a gun so why am I dead / You didn’t have to shoot me and that’s a known fact / And now I’m laying face down with bullets in my back”), with all instruments exhaling metallic and belligerent sounds while Ice-T keeps rapping nonstop.

It deosn’t matter if you are a metalhead that’s not very fond of rap or a rapper that doesn’t get too excited to the sound of a heavy riff, when you have an album like Bloodlust (which by the way you can find in different bundles at the Control Industry webstore) on your hands it’s almost mandatory that you start banging your head to Body Count, acknowledging they are indeed the biggest exponent in the history of Rap Metal and one of the most fun acts from the 90’s that’s still alive and kicking without sounding Jurassic. And I’m pretty sure the counting of bodies done by Ice-T, Ernie C and Co. is far from being over.

Best moments of the album: Civil War, Walk With Me…, Bloodlust and Black Hoodie.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Century Media

Track listing   
1. Civil War (feat. Dave Mustaine) 4:23
2. The Ski Mask Way 3:36
3. This Is Why We Ride 5:26
4. All Love Is Lost (feat. Max Cavalera) 3:36
5. Raining In Blood / Postmortem 2017 (Slayer cover) 4:31
6. God, Please Believe Me 1:23
7. Walk With Me… (feat. Randy Blythe) 3:07
8. Here I Go Again 3:32
9. No Lives Matter 4:23
10. Bloodlust 3:34
11. Black Hoodie 3:29

Band members
Ice-T – vocals
Ernie C – lead guitar, backing vocals
Juan of the Dead – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Vincent Price – bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Postmortem”
Ill Will – drums
Sean E Sean – sampler, backing vocals
Little Ice – backing vocals

Guest musicians
Dave Mustaine – spoken word and lead guitar on “Civil War”
Max Cavalera – additional vocals on “All Love Is Lost”
Randy Blythe – additional vocals on “Walk With Me…”

Album Review – Dirty Machine / Discord (2017)

Enjoy the debut album by a tenacious Nu Metal outfit that has all it takes to successfully spread their metallic and groovy wings all over the world.

Hailing from the rockin’ Los Angeles, California, a city that never sleeps, Nu Metal outfit Dirty Machine has been proudly carrying the flag of Alternative and Nu Metal since their inception in 2012, pulling major influences from bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Linkin Park and Sevendust, having already shared the stage with renowned acts like Ghost, Sixx AM, Disturbed and Trivium. The band has quickly built a rabid underground following, especially in the Kansas City area due to getting regular airtime on the leading Kansas City rock station 98.9 The Rock and headlining the Jägermeister Stage at the 2016 Kansas City Rockfest.

Now in 2017 the band has joined forces with Zombie Shark Records to release their debut album, entitled Discord, featuring eight uproarious composition (plus three bonus songs) blending the most electrifying elements from Groove and Rap Metal that will inspire you to jump up and down and have a very good time with your friends. Moreover, Dirty Machine’s music is so cohesive and catchy that you’ll find yourself singing the songs along with the band and tapping on your desk even if you’re not a fan of Nu Metal at all, and that says a lot about a band that has all it takes to successfully spread their metallic and groovy wings all over the world.

Their modern fusion of the Nu Metal by Limp Bizkit and the Rap Metal by Bodycount is crystal clear from the very first second in the exciting title-track Discord, showcasing great sync between the aggressive rapper lines by lead singer David Leach and the clean vocals by guitarist and vocalist Darren Davis, as well as endless heaviness boosted by the song’s solid melody. The next tune, titled Seeds, is ready to be played on any radio station, where not even the harsher vocals by David make it too aggressive for some air time, while the guitars by Darren and his bandmate Arnold Quezada bring the right amount of fire to their musicality. And taking their pugnacity to a whole new level, Self Made Hero feels like an alternate version of Slipknot led by the song’s blazing guitars thoroughly blended with the wicked samples by DJ Ecusa. Put differently, this is one of those songs to keep jumping up and down nonstop during their live concerts.

Social Recoil is another excellent display of fresh and thrilling Nu Metal, with Mike Weekley smashing his drums while Arnold and Darren follow him with their crushing riffs, not to mention the insane amount of groove coming from the low-tuned, metallic bass by Nathan Young. Now, are you ready for a “fight” with DJ Ecusa? That’s what you’ll get in Ecusa’s Nightmare, a three-minute whimsical party full of weird noises and voices, with the rest of the band effectively supporting this talented DJ and his “stunts”; and connecting instantly with the wicked feast led by DJ Ecusa we have Built, bringing more of Dirty Machine’s Limp Bizkit-Korn-Sevendust-inspired sounding, where the duo David and Darren keeps delivering amazing vocal lines, powerfully complementing each other, while Nathan and Mike sound as thunderous as possible with their bass punches and beats, respectively.

Although C4 is as heavy and groovy as the rest of the album, for some reason it doesn’t click to me, with its vocal lines being a bit disconnected from the instrumental pieces. Not only that, the guitars don’t sound as inspired as in the rest of the album, which makes me agree with the funny message sent by David at the end of the song saying not-so-nice things about the song itself. Fortunately, everything gets back on track with Wonka, where the band sounds faster, crazier and heavier than ever. This is what Dirty Machine need to do to really pump us up, providing a balanced mix of heavy riffs from Alternative Metal and witty vocals from Rap Metal and Hardcore. Not only this is a wise choice to close the album, but the demented screams by Darren add a lot of anger to the overall result, turning it into one of my favorite compositions in Discord.

If you want to know more details about the music and career of Dirty Machine, go to their Facebook page and YouTube channel for an overdose of high-end Nu Metal, and you can also support this dirty sextet by purchasing Discord at the Zombie Shark Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes or on Amazon. As Dirty Machine are a very active band, who knows, you might even get them in action in LA or any other city in the United States blasting their Nu Metal in one of your visits to their homeland, and I bet you’ll get addicted to their catchy and groovy music without even noticing.

Best moments of the album: Discord, Seeds, Self Made Hero and Wonka.

Worst moments of the album: C4.

Released in 2017 Zombie Shark Records

Track listing
1. Discord 3:18
2. Seeds 4:15
3. Self Made Hero 3:22
4. Social Recoil 3:42
5. Ecusa’s Nightmare 2:55
6. Built 3:32
7. C4 2:45
8. Wonka 3:47

Bonus tracks
9. Refuse To Follow 3:46
10. Victory 3:47
11. J-Dead 3:58

Band members
David Leach (Dirty Davo) – vocals
Arnold Quezada (Hedge) – guitar
Darren Davis – guitar, vocals
Nathan Young (Youngblood) – bass, backing vocals
Mike Weekley (Nightmare) – drums
DJ Ecusa – turntables & samples

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
Facebook
Twitter
Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden
Streamitter.com

Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Bellator / I EP (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best moments of the album: Petit Orc and Bellator.

Worst moments of the album: None.

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

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

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

Concert Review –Testament (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/27/2017)

When you have two of the best and most iconic Thrash Metal bands of all time playing together in the city, you know exactly where you have to be.

OPENING ACTS: Prong and Sepultura

As much as I enjoy the Phoenix Concert Theatre and obviously the bands that were going to play last night, I truly and deeply hate the weekdays rush hour traffic to get from my town, the suburban Oakville, to Toronto whenever there’s a good metal concert I want to attend. At least the weather was fantastic (even with a short storm that happened at around 7pm), with the temperature being above 20 degrees, which means no one had to carry their burdensome jackets like what always happens when a concert is in the middle of the winter.

Anyway, due to traffic (and because I had to eat something before heading to the venue), I completely missed the performance by American Crossover Thrash power trio PRONG. I have absolutely no idea if it was a good concert or not. Well, probably yes as the group spearheaded by Tommy Victor has all it takes to deliver great music to the audience, but unfortunately I can’t say a word about what they did last night, not even write down their setlist.

Band members
Tommy Victor – lead vocals, guitar
Jason Christopher – bass guitar, backing vocals
Art Cruz – drums

Fortunately, I got to the Phoenix Concert Theatre just in time to see the always amazing show by Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal masters SEPULTURA, who are currently promoting their latest album, the very experimental and exciting Machine Messiah.  Derrick Green, Andreas Kisser, Paulo Jr. and Eloy Casagrande put on an electrified performance on stage from start to finish, blending several songs of their new album like the excellent Phantom Self and Sworn Oath with all-time classics such as Desperate Cry, Inner Self (my favorite of the night) and Refuse/Resist, and of course the song most fans at the venue wanted to hear, their ritualistic hymn Roots Bloody Roots. The sound was very clear, cohesive and powerful, just like what the band offers us in their studio albums, proving Sepultura are a band that always provides their fans the same high level of quality found in their studio versions when they transport those compositions to the stage. As usual, the highlights of their performance were the insane riffs, solos and other awesome tricks done by Andreas with his guitar. That guy is one of the most gifted guitarists in the history of heavy music, which means if you’ve never seen him playing live, don’t miss that chance the next time “Sepultura do Brasil” visit your city.

Setlist
I Am the Enemy
Phantom Self
Choke
Desperate Cry
Sworn Oath
Inner Self
Alethea
Resistant Parasites
Refuse/Resist
Ratamahatta
Roots Bloody Roots

Band members
Derrick Green – lead vocals
Andreas Kisser – guitars
Paulo Jr. – bass
Eloy Casagrande – drums, percussion

TESTAMENT

After a short bathroom and beer break, it was time for American Thrash Metal behemoths TESTAMENT to create a sonic Armageddon in Toronto with their unparalleled aggression and refined technique. I guess I always say the same thing about Testament, but all band members are extremely talented and way above average, in special the guitar virtuoso Alex Skolnick and the human earthquake Gene Hoglan. Those two are not simple musicians, they’re demonic beasts when armed with their instruments, delivering the best of the best when it comes to heavy music.

Blasting some of their newest creations from the best metal album of 2016, the superb Brotherhood Of The Snake, especially the kick-ass tunes Brotherhood of the Snake, The Pale King and Stronghold, with old school songs and newer classics, they delivered a flawless performance for the delight of all metalheads at the venue. A few songs from their setlist deserve some special attention, like the brutal and sensational Rise Up for its enhanced mighty power when played live, the high-octane Centuries of Suffering for the insanely intricate magic Gene does behind his drums, and Electric Crown for the amount of groove and feeling flowing from the band’s instruments.

My only complaint about the concert was the excessive amount of solos, one for each band member. As much as I love each guy from the band, I personally prefer regular songs than solos. If they replaced those solos with newer songs like “The Number Game” or “Native Blood”, or with classic like “D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)” or “Burnt Offerings”, it would have been just perfect, but that’s just my opinion. The whole concert was fuckin’ awesome anyway; not even all those solos were able to cool down the audience, mainly because whenever there was a solo there was also a demolishing classic right after it, like when they played the circle pit-generator First Strike Is Deadly after Gene’s drum solo.

Before playing the encore, the iconic Chuck Billy, who by the way is singing better and better as time goes by, therefore being able to perfectly replicate his sensational deep growls live without making any extra effort, told the fans a story about when they were in Texas hanging out with the guys from one of the most respected, energized and violent bands of all time, the one and only Pantera, drinking Jack Daniel’s (and probably taking other stuff as well) with them. Can you imagine that? Testament and Pantera together? The 90’s were definitely the best period for Thrash Metal, no doubt about that. Chuck said that after a lot of drinking, something hit his head (maybe a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, or maybe it was the alcohol itself) and he told the other guys he had the name for their new album. It was going to be called Practice What you Preach, one of their biggest hits, and one of the best of the night as well.

There was still time for one last sick mosh pit with Over the Wall, and after all was said and done you could see how happy all fans of Testament were with their amazing performance. As Chuck said, I hope all promoters in Canada turn their eyes to Testament more often aiming at having more concerts all over the country, not only two or three cities. Let’s hope that those promoters listen to the deep voice by Chuck and we have more of the brotherhood of Thrash Metal in our currently not-so-cold country, because after such brilliant performance last night I’m sure all Torontonian fans of Testament are eager for more of their music.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
The Pale King
Centuries of Suffering
Alex Skolnick’s Guitar Solo
Electric Crown
Into the Pit
Low
Throne of Thorns
Stronghold
Eric Peterson’s Guitar Solo
Eyes of Wrath
Gene Hoglan’s Drum Solo
First Strike Is Deadly
Steve DiGiorgio’s Bass Solo
Urotsukidôji
Souls of Black
Seven Seals
The New Order

Encore:
Practice What You Preach
Over the Wall

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Gene Hoglan – drums

Album Review – Mastodon / Emperor of Sand (2017)

Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in the brand new excellent album by the trailblazers of Progressive and Sludge Metal.

Anything I say about the music by American Progressive/Sludge Metal trailblazers Mastodon won’t be enough to describe the amount of madness, intricacy and feeling flowing from the instruments from this unique Atlanta-based quartet. Now with the fantastic Emperor of Sand, the seventh studio album in their remarkable career, Troy Sanders (bass), Brent Hinds (guitar), Bill Kelliher (guitar) and Brann Dailor (drums) add an extra layer of complexity to their music by revolving the entire album around the concepts of death and survival, inspired by experiences they had when members of their families and friends were recently diagnosed with cancer.

Featuring a beautiful artwork by Alan Brown (Medusawolf), the concept and story in Emperor of Sand follows a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence. “At the end of the story, the person simultaneously dies and is saved,” said Brann. “It’s about going through cancer, going through chemotherapy and all the things associated with that. I didn’t want to be literal about it. But it’s all in there. You can read between the lines.” Troy also had a few words to share about the whole concept behind Emperor of Sand. “We’re reflecting on mortality,” mentioned Troy. “To that end, the album ties into our entire discography. It’s 17 years in the making, but it’s also a direct reaction to the last two years. We tend to draw inspiration from very real things in our lives.”

Percussion sounds ignite pure heaviness in the form of music, titled Sultan’s Curse, where it’s impressive to see how those four guys can sound so polished and raw at the same time in a perfect fusion of Progressive and Sludge Metal. Furthermore, not only Brann has a superb performance on drums, but their already famous rotation of vocals only makes things even more entertaining. Despite sounding a bit too commercial at first, Show Yourself is a damn good song, being electrified and upbeat with the awesome vocals by Brann leading the musicality, while Brent and Bill deliver classic, sharp riffs and solos. In addition, if you want to see how awesome this tune sounds live, simply watch this excellent video of the band performing it at Jimmy Kimmel Live. Precious Stones is the type of song fans will love to see them playing live, offering another high-speed metallic voyage and showcasing more of their beautiful guitar lines and a rumbling performance by the unstoppable Troy on bass; whereas Steambreather starts with a dark, low-tuned sonority thanks to the guitars and bass sounds, keeping a blackened aura throughout the whole song but with faster passages to maintain the overall result very interesting (not to mention the once again excellent vocals from start to finish).

The next track, named Roots Remain, sounds heavier than all previous songs, with Brann smashing his drums while Troy fires his more aggressive vocals, also providing tons of progressiveness flowing from all instruments in a display of classy and modern Sludge Metal with hints of Groove Metal. In my humble opinion, Word to the Wise is the best of all songs in Emperor of Sand, with the poetic lyrics emanating from the harsh vocals by Troy matching the music flawlessly (“Diamond in the wishing well / Fallen underneath its spell / Save me from the wicked ways / Pulling me with all its weight”). Moreover, I love when they speed up their music without losing their progressive touch, maintaining a beautiful pace while at the same time firing some flammable guitar solos. Ancient Kingdom is another composition with a solid and intricate instrumental supporting the amazing vocal work done by all band members, and what Brann does with his beats is like a lecture in drum playing; followed by Clandestiny, which to my ears sounds like a less commercial and consequently heavier version of “Show Yourself”. It’s one of the songs with the strongest Progressive Metal base of all, and it’s impossible not to feel its energy flowing inside your mind.

With guest musician Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth on vocals, Andromeda, a great tune to break your neck headbanging, also presents a darker side of Mastodon. Brann is absolutely on fire throughout the whole album and it couldn’t be different in this amazing chant, which makes me wonder how powerful it should sound during their live concerts. And featuring another guest vocalist, this time Scott Kelly of Neurosis, we have Scorpion Breath, the second to last track of the album, being very rhythmic with the bass lines by Troy bringing thunder to the musicality, while the guitars by Brent and Bill will cut your skin like a razor-edged blade. Last but not least, if someone asked me to summarize the music by Mastodon in two words, those would definitely be Jaguar God. This is a complex, detailed and very creative creation by the band, presenting amazing guitar riffs and solos, an intricate and groovy drumming, smoother passages, and beyond whimsical lyrics (“Terrestial fire, ascending from underground / Godspeed divine, so we control our mound / Shape shifter, spirits whisper / Guide me through this black sorcery”), not to mention that when the music gets really heavy, it becomes the best Progressive Metal you can think of.

I personally recommend that before (or maybe after) listening to the album in its entirety you go check the band’s outstanding series of videos on YouTube titled The Making of Emperor of Sand, as those will make a lot of difference to your own view of the music found in Emperor of Sand, giving additional details and even new meanings to what you think you know about Mastodon. You can also check what the band is up to at their official Facebook page, and get ready for their always fun visit to your city in a not-so-distant future. Some will say Emperor of Sand is their strongest work to date, and some that the band lost their touch, just like what happens with every renowned band nowadays. All I know is that Emperor of Sand is a bold, cohesive and inspirational metal album, and that it will hit you hard no matter what, proving Mastodon are not among the biggest and most influential names in contemporary heavy music in vain.

Best moments of the album: Sultan’s Curse, Precious Stones, Word to the Wise and Jaguar God.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Reprise Records

Track listing
1. Sultan’s Curse 4:09
2. Show Yourself 3:03
3. Precious Stones 3:46
4. Steambreather 5:03
5. Roots Remain 6:28
6. Word to the Wise 4:00
7. Ancient Kingdom 4:54
8. Clandestiny 4:28
9. Andromeda (feat. Kevin Sharp) 4:05
10. Scorpion Breath (feat. Scott Kelly) 3:19
11. Jaguar God 7:56

Band members
Brent Hinds – lead guitar, lead and backing vocals
Bill Kelliher – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Troy Sanders – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals
Brann Dailor – drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals, bass on “Jaguar God” intro 

Guest musicians
Kevin Sharp – additional vocals on “Andromeda”
Scott Kelly – additional vocals on “Scorpion Breath”
Mike Keneally – keyboards

Album Review – Of the Sun / Before a Human Path EP (2017)

Exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination and finding balance within while embracing chaos, this high-skilled power trio is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about with their brand new album.

Self-describing their wicked music as “Southern Progressive Metal”, American power trio Of the Sun are releasing their new EP titled Before A Human Path, a highly recommended album for fans of Gojira, Pantera, Mastodon and Between The Buried And Me, among other iconic groups, exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination, finding balance within while embracing chaos in each of its five unique compositions. While Of the Sun’s sound is firmly rooted in Groove and Thrash Metal, it also contains elements of Progressive Metal, creating a distinct atmosphere exactly like what you’ll be able to experience in Before a Human Path.

Hailing from Austin, the state capital of Texas, in the United States, the band formed by Patrick Duvall (lead vocals, guitar), David Duvall (bass, vocals) and Johnny Reed (drums) released their debut album AM Radio in August 2009, taking some good years for them to finally come back with new material. Fortunately, the wait is finally over for the delight of admirers of innovative and groovy music, and the final result will definitely bring a positive outcome for the band’s career. “With Before a Human Path, we pulled from personal extremes to convey a more colorful and varied storyline within the span of each song. Ultimately shunning conventional songwriting formula, we really dug in to unearth something we felt isn’t currently being done”, the band commented about the album.

The Tightrope Mile already begins in full force, sounding like a more progressive and groovier version of Pantera where Patrick has an amazing performance on vocals, reminding me of the old days of Phil Anselmo, while David blasts pure metallic lines through his bass guitar. Moreover, all its psychedelic and heavy passages make it sound like three or four songs in one, an always positive attribute in progressive music. In the kick-ass Nebulamorphous we have the perfect example of what the band calls Southern Progressive Metal, bringing the most electrifying elements from Southern Rock and Progressive Metal together while Johnny is responsible for the intricacy found in the music with his sick drumming. At the same time, Patrick takes care of the song’s deranged side with his sick growls, effectively complementing all this sonic feast of craziness and rumbling sounds.

Featuring guest musicians Phil Davidson on violin and viola, and Kullen Fuchs on vibraphone, Cantos offers the listener an exciting doomed sonority, with its clean vocals being exactly what the music demands. Furthermore, this dark and introspective creation by Of The Sun gets even better as time passes by due to the amazing guitar lines by Richard together with the low-tuned bass by David. The intricate and aggressive tune A Soliloquy brings forward Groove Metal with a lot of progressiveness and hatred flowing from its vocals and bass lines, reaching a whole new level of insanity (and don’t forget to pay attention to the excellent drumming by Johnny throughout the entire song); whereas in the sharp Southern Metal chant The Limbless God we face more demented metal music to pierce our ears mercilessly. Their fusion of anger and creativity couldn’t sound more thrilling, with highlights to the great sync once again between Richard and David, not to mention all tempo changes and endless heaviness which end up adding an extra dosage of adrenaline to the final result.

To sum up, despite being only an EP technically speaking, Before a Human Path brings to the listener a full-flavored adventure in experimental heavy music thanks to the refined skills of each one of the three musicians from Of the Sun. If you want to show your support for Patrick, David and Johnny, go check what they’re up to at their Facebook page, listen to their music at ReverbNation, and don’t forget to buy your copy of Before a Human Path at their official BandCamp page. This creative and energetic trio of musicians is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about, and you’ll be more than pleased with what they can do to your ears with their music.

Best moments of the album: Nebulamorphous and A Soliloquy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Tightrope Mile 7:09
2. Nebulamorphous 5:34
3. Cantos 7:22
4. A Soliloquy 7:22
5. The Limbless God 5:31

Band members
Patrick Duvall – lead vocals, guitar
David Duvall – bass, vocals
Johnny Reed – drums

Guest musicians
Phil Davidson – violin and viola on “Cantos”
Kullen Fuchs – vibraphone on “Cantos”

Album Review – Crossbones / WWIII (2017)

The most longstanding and influential metal act from Albania returns with a brand new opus, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities.

When vocalist Olsi Ballta grabbed an Albanian-English dictionary in 1996 and picked the first word on the page he randomly opened, he had no idea he would be founding the most recognized metal act in Albania and the only band from the mid 90’s that kept going. That’s how everything started for Tirana-based Heavy/Thrash Metal band Crossbones, the first Albanian rock band to have released a genuine full-length album on CD (their debut album called Days Of Rage, from 1997), who led them to play several concerts and festivals in the local scene, as well as within the region comprised of Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and Kosovo, and to perform alongside major names such as Ian Paice (Deep Purple’s legendary drummer) and Rotting Christ.

After the release of a few singles, demos, a live album, a compilation and a stylish box set in the following years, Crossbones are finally back with new material, the full-length record entitled WWIII, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities in order to provide the listener a full-bodied metal attack that effectively represents not only the name and the artwork of the album, but also the core essence of the band. Perhaps due to the fact that Crossbones have been active through a couple of decades already, the music found in WWIII will provide you a voyage through old school and modern metal music, which only brings more flavor to the entire album. And let’s be honest, for a band that comes from a country where metal has absolutely (and unfortunately) zero support, what these guys do with their music is beyond fantastic.

The high amount of heaviness and groove emanating from all instruments from the very first second in I’m God, a potent mid-tempo Groove Metal composition with blazing guitar solos and neck-breaking riffs, will punch you in the face mercilessly, with lead singer Olsi Ballta delivering classic and melodious Thrash Metal vocal lines. And that’s only the beginning, as the straightforward tune Gates of Hell, led by guitarist Ben Turku and his slashing riffs, will please all fans of heavy music, with drummer Theo Napoloni and bassist Klejd Guza adding tons of groove to the musicality with their pounding beats and thunderous notes, respectively. In the slightly more atmospheric (but still as heavy as hell) Gjallë, or “alive” from Albanian, Theo and Klejd once again become the dynamic duo of fierceness, setting the perfect tone for Olsi to growl the song’s lyrics (which by the way are in Albanian).

The interesting WTF, which obviously means “what the fuck”, is more alternative than all previous tracks, focusing on the cutting strings by both Ben and Klejd while Olsi fires anguished and acid vocals, therefore increasing the song’s obscurity, with its ending being a sheer Groove Metal feast; whereas Messing with the Masses is a lot more introspective and somber, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. The dissonant and macabre guitar solo by Ben halfway through it is very effective though, while its second half sounds like a completely different song, being a mix of Alternative and Nu Metal. Schizo gets back to a more direct metal sonority thanks to the high dosage of harmony coming from the guitars by Ben, with Olsi also singing in his mother tongue and sounding more aggressive and demented, in sync with the theme proposed by the song’s name.

Rise offers thrilling Heavy Metal the way we headbanging bastards like it, also bringing elements from Sludge and Stoner Metal (therefore showing the band’s versatility) while Klejd simply kicks ass with his bass lines, supporting the song’s old school metallic lyrics (“I’m taking my chances / Roaming the streets / A wild stab in the dark / And over the fences / A million of thoughts / And fresh blood in the heart”). After a short eerie intro, the band delivers a dark version of Groove Metal with elements from Gothic Rock and Metal in You Fool, where Olsi steals the spotlight with his melancholic growls, supported by the heavy, obscure sounds blasted by all other bands members; followed by That Kind of Feeling, a dark semi-ballad by Crossbones featuring melodic elements from contemporary metal music blended with traditional vocal lines and the punch of Groove Metal, adding more taste to the album. And the second installment of the opening track, simply titled I’m God, Pt. 2, closes WWIII, beginning in a very sorrowful and pensive manner and being a lot more atmospheric than any other song of the album. In other words, a beautiful ending for WWIII, with Olsi having a truly passionate performance on vocals.

If you want to show your support to Crossbones and Albanian metal, simply visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and buy your copy of WWIII on iTunes, Amazon, Target, CD Universe, Walmart, hbdirect.com and several other retailers. We might not be ready for a real-life World War III, but we should all be more than happy with the music presented by this longstanding Albanian squad in WWIII, an album that will certainly cement the legacy of such important band for metal in Albania, in Eastern Europe and anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Gates of Hell, Gjallë and Rise.

Worst moments of the album: Messing with the Masses.

Released in 2017 Nadir Music

Track listing
1. I’m God 6:55
2. Gates of Hell 5:52
3. Gjallë 4:39
4. WTF 6:32
5. Messing with the Masses 5:23
6. Schizo 6:05
7. Rise 4:41
8. You Fool 4:38
9. That Kind of Feeling 5:58
10. I’m God, Pt. 2 3:39

Band members
Olsi Ballta – vocals
Ben Turku – guitars
Klejd Guza – bass
Theo Napoloni – drums

Album Review – The Sun Through a Telescope / Black Hole Smile (2017)

Brave the psychedelic sludge waters of Doom and Drone Metal brought forth by this inventive one-man band from Canada, and have your musical boundaries pushed further in a unique way.

I love when a band challenges our senses and pushes our musical boundaries further and further, which is exactly what you’ll face in Black Hole Smile, the brand new album by Canadian Drone/Doom Metal one-man project The Sun Through a Telescope, led by Ottawa-based multi-instrumentalist Leigh Newton (also known as Lee Neutron). In nothing less than 17 (yes, seventeen!) distinct tracks, Lee offers the listener an unconventional fusion of several styles and genres that will blow your mind, or as he likes to say, his music is where “Blackened Doom meets Ambient Drone, soaked in psychedelic sludge water.”

Lee has been very active with his The Sun Through a Telescope since 2011, having released a few EP’s that year before his first full-length album, titled I Die Smiling, came to light in 2013. The following year saw the birth of a new EP named Unnatural Cruciform on a Moss Covered Rock, paving the path for Lee to go even further with his creativity and bring forth Black Hole Smile. Each song will sound different than the others, each one being a distinct experiment by Lee, creating a parallel universe of music that might not make a lot of sense at first, but that will certainly get you entranced from start to finish.

In the very atmospheric, psychedelic and experimental Never Pray, Lee’s clean vocals sound as if he was in a different dimension, with the song’s background being only a distant, smooth noise, becoming an interesting warm-up for Living Every Single Hell, where alternative and distorted guitars are complemented by slow, sharp beats before an explosion of rage and anger with elements of Black and Death Metal invades our ears. Furthermore, Lee goes from maniac growls to desolated clean vocals and back to his demented mode à la Mike Patton, guiding us in a 10-minute voyage through the world of The Sun Through a Telescope. With such an impactful name, I couldn’t expect anything less visceral and experimental than Worm(hole)s, where Lee offers more of his hypnotic guitars and doomed beats, as well as his sick gnarls blending Drone and Doom Metal in a very gripping manner; followed by The Inverted Cross Of A Sunday Funday, a fun and solid instrumental piece by this one-man army displaying less than two minutes of demonic sounds inspired by the meanest forms of Industrial and Drone Metal.

“More Light” continues with Lee’s movie score-inspired extravaganza, being somehow epic and building an instant connection to Every Single Living Hell (note the word play with the second track of the album), with the crow in the background giving it a funereal vibe before becoming a hellish hybrid of Blackened Doom and Drone Metal, also presenting wicked sounds usually found in Alternative and Groove Metal. Focusing on its choir-like vocals and gentle guitar lines, the purely atmospheric composition Dead Dies, New Born gets to a more Alternative Rock and Metal sonority halfway through it, giving even a sense of hope to the whole song, whereas Something Witchy offers 40 seconds of a demented devastation full of distortions and wicked growls before peace returns in No Way Home. However, that peaceful ambience lasts only until half of the song, when Lee beings firing his blast beats and atmospheric vocals again.

Black Hole Bile and “Oh No, This Is Mine” are two similar but somehow unique one-minute deranged instrumental tunes, while A Prolonged Vegetative State presents a more violent side of The Sun Through a Telescope, showcasing deeper guttural and heavier sounds as if Faith No More was “poisoned” with the darkness of Drone and Doom Metal. And never tired of experimenting with different sounds, Lee delivers the Ambient Black Metal tunes Burn Everything and No More Light, with things only getting weirder and more experimental as the album progresses, so alternative it’s impossible to label what’s happening. If I try to explain the music in Caught, Drugged, Trial, Exile, one more atmospheric creation spawned by Lee, I would say there’s an inner fury in this song that never fully comes out, increasing its anxiousness and despair, while the melancholy and the sounds of birds in the background in Dead Tomorrow flow into the pleasant sonority with smooth vocals and the delicate instrumental from Whitehole / Brighthell, with moments of anger meticulously inserted at specific parts of the song, building a suffocating and climatic conclusion to this extravagant album.

If you want to know more about Lee and his The Sun Through a Telescope, simply visit his Facebook page for the most up-to-date news, with Black Hole Smile (which can be streamed in its entirety HERE) being available for purchase on BandCamp, CD Baby, iTunes and on Amazon. After swimming in the psychedelic sludge waters of Doom and Drone Metal proposed by The Sun Through a Telescope, I’m sure your view of the current state of heavy music will change considerably, proving how important independent artists like Lee are for music and arts in general.

Best moments of the album: Living Every Single Hell, Every Single Living Hell, A Prolonged Vegetative State and Whitehole / Brighthell.

Worst moments of the album: “Oh No, This Is Mine” and No More Light.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Never Pray 2:55
2. Living Every Single Hell 9:57
3. Worm(hole)s 6:20
4. The Inverted Cross Of A Sunday Funday 1:39
5. “More Light” 1:35
6. Every Single Living Hell 7:50
7. Dead Dies, New Born 4:06
8. Something Witchy 0:38
9. No Way Home 3:14
10. Black Hole Bile 1:06
11. “Oh No, This Is Mine” 1:17
12. A Prolonged Vegetative State 2:59
13. Burn Everything 1:04
14. No More Light 2:05
15. Caught, Drugged, Trial, Exile 5:38
16. Dead Tomorrow 0:51
17. Whitehole / Brighthell 7:08

Band members
Lee Neutron – vocals, guitars, bass, drums, programming, samples

Guest musician
Ava – additional vocals