Album Review – Centrilia / In The Name Of Nothing (2019)

An amazing album of modern-day metal music by four unstoppable Scotsmen, focusing on the meditation of modern humanity, morality and our existence in challenging times of uncertainty.

Following the release of their debut EP You Are in Error in 2013 (the same year the band was born) and Memento Mori in 2015, and after a rabid response from fans of heavy music to their live shows while sharing the stage with renowned acts like Rob Zombie, Soulfy, Behemoth and Arch Enemy, among others, Glasgow, Scotland-based Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore unity Centrilia is ready to crush your skull with their debut full-length album entitled In The Name Of Nothing, showcasing eight tracks of unadulterated crushing heaviness, galvanized with intense veracity, courtesy of Gavin Marshall on vocals, David Sandford on the guitar, Gareth Ellis on bass and Andy Brown on drums. Mixed by Terry Date (Pantera, Deftones, Slayer), recorded by Steven Jones (Bleed from Within, From Sorrow to Serenity) and mastered by Pelle Henricsson (Meshuggah, Refused, Cult of Luna), In The Name Of Nothing focuses on the meditation of modern humanity, morality and our existence in challenging times of uncertainty, with the Glaswegian quartet demonstrating a lot of creativity, groove and aggressiveness throughout the album’s 40 minutes of ferocious metal music.

The opening track Symptoms Of Betrayal is modern and piercing from the very first second, with the music growing in intensity until it becomes a headbanging feast led by David’s metallic riffs and Andy’s unstoppable beats, being tailored for fans of Pantera and Lamb of God. Furthermore, Gavin doesn’t stop growling like a maniac not even for a brief moment, getting us all pumped for the following song, named Splitting Hairs / Spitting Teeth, uniting the most thunderous and visceral elements from the music by Gojira and Lamb of God in a hurricane of contemporary metal music where Gareth is bestial with his bass punches. Needless to say, get ready to have your skull completely smashed into the circle pit to this ode to violence. Then dealing with our modern-day society issues (“t’s just a matter of time / Neck deep but you keep digging / Guilty by association / Lost yourself from the beginning / Don’t think, don’t talk, don’t fucking speak / Suspicion haunts you / And you tell yourself”), the excellent Imposters brings forward first-class Groove and Melodic Death Metal spiced up by tons of progressiveness and rage, with once again the bass by Gareth sounding absolutely menacing.

The Fool On The Hill is more melodic than its predecessors but still violent and neck-breaking, being spearheaded by Gavin’s deep, enraged roars and with David and Gareth being in total sync, while Andy can’t stop hammering his drums in the most Metalcore of all songs. The title-track In The Name Of Nothing leans towards classic Metalcore, offering the listener those high-pitched, desperate screams amidst a chaotic but very harmonious atmosphere, and albeit I prefer their more violent side shown in the previous songs, this is still very enjoyable and heavy, of course; whereas once again bringing austere words (“Hail to the parasite / Holding court with the sycophants / Snared by the antagonist / The unified are ripped asunder”) and the rumbling bass lines by Gareth, the band offers us Those Possessed By Devils, a devastating Groove Metal tune more-than-perfect for banging your head like there’s no tomorrow together with this skillful four-piece act from Scotland.

The second to last explosion of their pulverizing metal music comes in the form of Let The Fire Burn, sounding very dense and cohesive and being perfect for jumping up and down with the band at metal festivals. Moreover, the band’s stringed duo boosts Gavin’s screams in great fashion with their incendiary axes, not to mention how brutal Andy sounds on drums. Last but not least, Centrilia offer our avid ears the multi-layered Tamám Shud, a very introspective creation by the quartet which starts in an Alice In Chains-inspired vibe, with Gavin delivering his most anguished vocals of the entire album while David keeps the ambience as eerie as possible with his riffs, turning the mystery and sadness of the Tamám Shud case (also known as the Mystery of the Somerton Man), an unsolved case of an unidentified man found dead at 6:30am on December 1, 1948 on the Somerton Park beach (just south of Adelaide, South Australia), into first-class metal music. By the way, the case is named after the Persian phrase “tamám shud”, meaning “ended” or “finished,” which was written on a scrap of paper found months later in the fob pocket of the man’s trousers. Isn’t this a sensational topic for a dark and melodic metal song?

In The Name Of Nothing, available for a full listen on Spotify, definitely positions Centrilia as one of the most interesting new names not only of the Scottish metal scene, but of the entire Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore universe, sounding intense, violent and thunderous from start to finish, just the way we like it. Hence, in order to show your support to those four talented Scotsmen, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of their excellent new album from their BandCamp page, where you can by the way find several top-of-the-line, exclusive bundles and merch, as well as from your usual Apple Music, Amazon or Google Play. This is an amazing album of straightforward and aggressive music made in the beautiful Scotland, my friends, not in the name of “nothing” as the album name itself states, but in the name of our good old Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Splitting Hairs / Spitting Teeth, Imposters and Those Possessed By Devils.

Worst moments of the album: In The Name Of Nothing.

Released in 2019 233 Records

Track listing
1. Symptoms Of Betrayal 5:27
2. Splitting Hairs / Spitting Teeth 3:23
3. Imposters 4:42
4. The Fool On The Hill 5:02
5. In The Name Of Nothing 6:03
6. Those Possessed By Devils 4:01
7. Let The Fire Burn 4:48
8. Tamám Shud 7:19

Band members
Gavin Marshall – vocals
David Sandford – guitars, backing vocals
Gareth Ellis – bass, backing vocals
Andy Brown – drums

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Album Review – Uncured / Epidemic (2019)

Witness the evolution of the music crafted by the Cox Brothers with their pulverizing new album of Progressive Death and Groove Metal.

Founded in New York City by brothers Rex Cox and Zak Cox, who share the band’s vocal and guitar duties, American Progressive Death/Groove Metal unity Uncured has been making a name for themselves since their inception in 2016 when they released their debut EP Spontaneous Generation, followed by their first full-length opus Medusa, released in 2017, which attracted international attention for its combination of technical musicianship, brutal riffs and melodic interludes. After witnessing Uncured opening for renowned acts like Soulfly and the almighty Cradle of Filth last year while promoting their 2017 album Medusa, I’m happy to say those guys stepped up their game considerably with their brand new album, the powerful Epidemic, proving that although they might still be young faces in the scene, they already play and sound like veterans.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by their father Mitch Cox at Conclave Studios, in New York, Epidemic has everything a fan of modern and technical extreme music can ask for, with its crystal clear production enhancing the impact of each song thoroughly played by the aforementioned Zak and Rex on vocals, guitars and bass (as their current bassist Spencer Metela only joined the band after the recording of the album) and Liam Manley on drums.​ The only thing I don’t understand is why they left the excellent 2018 single Terminal out of the album, but that’s just me. And besides, who said Epidemic needed that song to be brutal? I’m pretty sure the boys know what they’re doing, and based on the feedback provided by their fans so far they’re undoubtedly on the right path to stardom with Epidemic.

The opening track Desecration is fast, furious and heavy from the very first second, with the Cox Brothers showcasing all their refined skills with their sick riffs and solos while Liam smashes his drums beautifully in a powerful display of modern Progressive Death Metal, sounding at the same time very technical and visceral. If that was not crazy enough for you, in Choke they take their progressiveness to the next level, and let me say both Zak and Rex are growling and screaming a lot better than in their previous releases, adding tons of rage and insanity to the song’s lyrics (“Tear your throat out / Reject everything from within / This is imperative, all will go black / The problem lies in the silence / There will be nothing that remains, only desolation / As our civilization reverts to dust / This will surely desecrate honor”), whereas in Conquistador the band drinks from the same fountain as modern-day bands like Trivium, delivering flammable riffs and intricate beats and also exploring new grounds by adding acoustic passages and distinct nuances from other metal and even non-metal genres to their music.

Eradicate is another feast of incendiary riffs and solos by Uncured highly recommended for slamming into the pit during their live performances, blending Melodic Death Metal with Groove Metal and an endless amount of progressiveness; followed by Death Valley, where after a serene intro the band comes crushing once again with their groovy and heavy-as-hell sounds, sounding perfect for cracking your neck headbanging and remaining as complex and vibrant as it can be until the very end. And in Resist The Infection all instruments sound absolutely pulverizing and metallic, with Zak and Rex screaming and roaring together like maniacs while Liam keeps the rhythm flowing smoothly with his beats. Put differently, although it might be the shortest of all songs, it still brings tons of stamina, feeling and rage to our avid ears.

The last batch of songs from Epidemic will crush you mercilessly, starting with Sacrifice, a classic Groove Metal tune infused with Death Metal nuances where its guitars and bass penetrate deep inside our minds, making our heads tremble. Furthermore, it feels like a hybrid of the music by Meshuggah, Tool, Dream Theater and other iconic bands, showing once again how talented those guys are. Albeit not as exciting as its predecessors, Stone Fortress is still a very good song, overflowing progressiveness, heaviness and groove, not to mention the usual crisp and piercing guitar lines by the band’s frontmen, while in Blinded By Demise the level of aggressiveness goes through the roof in another metal feast full of breaks and variations where all three band members display their refined skills in great fashion. And last but not least, after a somber, almost tribal intro Uncured attack us all one last time with more of their Progressive Death Metal in Nothing But Disease, with the music alternating between dark passages and extreme rage like the soundtrack to a psychological horror movie, ending in a creepy and captivating way.

There’s no excuse to not listen to Epidemic, as the album is available in full on YouTube, on Spotify and on the band’s official website, and after taking a good listen at it you can purchase your copy from their own BandCamp page or from their webstore in CD or vinyl format, as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. In summary, the Cox Brothers, together with Liam and Spencer, are definitely going places based on the high quality of the music found in Epidemic, presenting a huge step forward in terms of creativity, feeling and overall production after the also good Medusa. Having said that, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, as we might be in front of the next big name from the modern extreme music scene with a long (and prosperous) way to go yet in their promising career.

Best moments of the album: Desecration, Eradicate and Resist The Infection.

Worst moments of the album: Stone Fortress.

Released in 2019 Seek & Strike

Track listing
1. Desecration 4:12
2. Choke 4:19
3. Conquistador 4:45
4. Eradicate 5:07
5. Death Valley 4:47
6. Resist The Infection 2:51
7. Sacrifice 4:04
8. Stone Fortress 4:07
9. Blinded By Demise 4:45
10. Nothing But Disease 4:26

Band members
Zak Cox – vocals, guitars, bass
Rex Cox – vocals, guitars, bass
Liam Manley – drums

Guest musician
Spencer Metala – bass (live)

Album Review – Be Under Arms / Red Wave Is Coming (2019)

A red wave of first-class Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore is coming to crush your senses, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

It’s time for the Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore squad known as Be Under Arms to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their razor-edged and modern sonority in Red Wave Is Coming, their fourth full-length effort and an amazing follow-up to their previous releases, those being Let Shots Will Be Your Music (2014), Doomed to Life (2016), and more recently Evil Tales Of The Northern Country (2017). If you have never heard of Be Under Arms before, get ready to be stunned by the uniqueness of their music, instantly feeling the urge to join their army of unstoppable metal insurgents.

Combining Metalcore with Groove and Melodic Death Metal since their inception in 2013, this Moscow-based unity now comprised of the dynamic duo Anna “White Queen” Logacheva and Vladimir “Szandor” Nasonov on vocals, Stanislav Shtrih on the guitar, Dmitriy Kashirin on bass and Denis “John Doe” Vinitskiy on drums is on absolute fire in Red Wave Is Coming, always loyal to their foundations and still presenting their trademark military attire, dystopian atmosphere and austere lyrics about controversial social topics. Featuring a classic, rebellious album art by Estonian designer Darius Alas (Midiankai Arts), Red Wave Is Coming is not only a highly recommended album for admirers of modern metal music, but it also cements the band’s name as one of the biggest new exponents of the scene.

Bizarre, captivating sounds suddenly morph into a darkened intro entitled The Tsar, led by Stanislav’s metallic riffs, sounding not only slow and creepy, but also entirely sung in Russian by both Anna and Vladimir to give it a rawer taste, before all explodes into the band’s modernized Melodic Death and Groove Metal in the title-track Red Wave Is Coming, where Denis and Dmitriy smash their respective instruments nonstop. Furthermore, pay good attention to the song’s acid lyrics dealing with the most obscure side effects of having too much power (“I feel how darkness grows around me / This crown has become my burden, a sign that I’m not free / It presses like a crown of thorns / And blood pours from my eyes / All this gold and beauty / Such a good disguise”). And Rasstrel, another song fully sung in their mother tongue, is in my opinion one of the most fun tracks of the album showcasing amazing performances by all band members, in special Anna and Vladimir, not to mention it’s simply perfect for jumping up and down to the crushing and thunderous riffs and punches by both Stanislav and Dmitriy.

The Untouchables is another classic tune by Be Under Arms, alternating between faster and more aggressive passages and more melodic, headbanging moments, keeping the album at a high level of electricity, whereas Road to the Scaffold is a lot more introspective and obscure, almost sounding like a dark ballad, with Anna and Vladimir attacking us all with both their clean vocals and harsh roars while Denis add a touch of Doom Metal to the musicality with his beats. Then we have another one of my favorites, the violent No-Go Zone, bringing that classic Be Under Arms sounding closer to all of their previous releases, with Stanislav being ruthless with his scorching riffs while Dmitriy’s bass sounds as hammering as it can be. In other words, this is a top-notch warlike-inspired Groove Metal composition that will please all fans of the band without a shadow of a doubt, while New Crusader is a mid-tempo song that blends the heaviest elements from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal, being perfect for slamming into the circle pit while Denis dictates its rebellious rhythm.

Putting the pedal to the metal those Russian metallers deliver the frantic and visceral Breathe This, where Stanislav, Dmitriy and Denis generate a flawless atmosphere for Anna and Vladimir to growl and gnarl like two rabid beasts, followed by The Chosen One and its hypnotizing rhythm where Anna’s vocals truly represent her “White Queen” monicker, while Vladimir is responsible for bringing darkness to the music with his deep roars. Slightly different from their usual sound, which doesn’t mean it’s a bad song, this interesting tune would have worked better if a little shorter, I might say. Anyway, back to a more enraged sonority, the band offers us the insanely heavy The Death Instinct, presenting an amazing balance between melody and sheer aggression, and with its guitars and drums sounding bestial from start to finish for our total delight while Anna growls the song’s lyrics manically (“You are my brothers and I bear the burden for you / And every day I lift a Sisyphus stone / For prosperity but not for conviction / Hoping for the future without pain”), building an instant connection with the somber Bloody Shores, where acoustic guitars are intertwined with electrified and vile tones, resulting in a multi-layered creation by Be Under Arms that puts a melancholic and mesmerizing ending to the album.

In summary, as aforementioned Red Wave Is Coming (available for a full listen on Spotify) is undoubtedly a fantastic entrance door to the world of Be Under Arms if you know nothing about those Russian metalheads yet. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and VKontakte, listen to more of their music on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and purchase your copy of such entertaining album from Be Under Arms’ own BandCamp page or webstore (in digibook format or digibook + “Helmet” shirt combo), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. As the destructive red wave by Be Under Arms approaches, there’s nothing better than a good dosage of their ass-kicking Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal to serve as the soundtrack to the apocalypse, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: Rasstrel, No-Go Zone and The Death Instinct.

Worst moments of the album: The Chosen One.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Tsar 2:45
2. Red Wave Is Coming 4:44
3. Rasstrel 3:55
4. The Untouchables 4:19
5. Road to the Scaffold 5:11
6. No-Go Zone 3:58
7. New Crusader 4:26
8. Breathe This 3:53
9. The Chosen One 4:04
10. The Death Instinct 3:56
11. Bloody Shores 3:24

Band members
Anna “White Queen” Logacheva – vocals
Vladimir “Szandor” Nasonov – vocals
Stanislav Shtrih – guitar
Dmitriy Kashirin – bass
Denis “John Doe” Vinitskiy – drums

Interview – Anthony Kaoteon

In this exclusive interview, Lebanese vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Kaoteon talks about his brand new project Death Tribe, his already established band Kaoteon, and his always delicate connection to the Middle-East.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

The Headbanging Moose: Let’s begin with a very simple question, and that is who’s Anthony Kaoteon? When did you begin your life in metal music, and who influenced you the most to follow that path?

Anthony Kaoteon: I am a Lebanese kid who grew up at the end of Civil War, witnessed the Syrian occupation, the religious hatred of my countrymen, the bombs in the streets of Beirut, the Israeli mass airplane attacks on the country to mention a few big events that scarred me as a child and made me realize that the world is blind and needs someone loud enough to hear the truth.

THM: What’s your goal with Death Tribe, and what’s the main difference from your already established band Kaoteon? Can you tell us more about the story behind Death Tribe and the reason for the band’s name?

AK: Death Tribe is more of a personal project where I am experimenting with Metal genres. It is not a side project but it has no restrictions or limitations as it has no genres, not one vocalist or one sound. The only restriction is me as the only fixed member in the band but working with new musicians opens my mind and allows me to explore areas I would have never explored otherwise. If I was a polyamorous guy, then KAOTEON would be my lover and Death Tribe my date.

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

THM: Regarding your brand new album Beyond Pain and Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, how was the recording process of the album? Did everything go as planned, and do you think the final result sends the message you had in mind to the listener?

AK: The recording process was very lengthy, expensive and time consuming especially that it was recorded in several regions and studios around the world. The biggest impact on sound were the mixing engineer – namely Karim Sinno from The Audioloft in Lebanon. He brought everything together and kept it crystal clear.

THM: Beyond Pain and Pleasure features an array of excellent guest vocalists such as Walid Wolflust, Serge the Slave, Adnan Mryhij, Youmni Abou el Zahab and JM Elias. Apart from Walid Wolflust, who sings for your other band Kaoteon, are they all your personal friends? How did you invite each one of them to sing in the album?

AK: They are all personal and close friends of mine who have their great bands and I wanted to promote their sound through mine while promoting my sound through theirs. We come from a very talented region that is undiscovered and deserves much more support.

THM: My favorite songs from Beyond Pain and Pleasure are the title-track Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate. I personally think they’re very powerful and rebellious, which I believe is what you want the listener to feel while listening to the album. Having said that, what song from the album better represents yourself and your never-ending fight for freedom?

AK: That is the beauty of an album like BP&P, every person will have a different favorite. I enjoy Hollow, BP&P and Implode Explode a lot but this varies every now and then. The overall sound of the album is rebellious so I surely wanted that but what I really wanted is to deliver an eclectic album that brings all genres together under one record.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

THM: I’m pretty sure the metal scene in the Netherlands, your current home, is a lot more developed than in your homeland Lebanon. Are there any bands you would recommend from the Dutch underground scene?

AK: I am still not very active in the scene due to a lot of shit happening in my personal life that I will not discuss but the bands here are very talented. I see a huge stoner metal movement. I cannot chose one band top of mind as it wouldn’t be just but there is definitely a lot of bands to check that won’t disappoint.

THM: Now talking about your connection to Lebanon and the Middle-East, how harmful do you think the combination of religion and politics is in that region not only to metal and non-metal music, but to all forms of art? And do you see an end to that in the future?

AK: It is detrimental and I am afraid I don’t see an end to it anytime soon. It is a deeply rooted plague that is still being nourished by the west to control its masses and use it when and where needed.

THM: Do you think one day you’ll be able to return to Lebanon and start making metal music again there? And what do your family and friends that are still in Lebanon think of the type of music you play?

AK: Most people don’t know what is metal unless they like it and play it. We live parallel lives so that we don’t get judged. I don’t see myself returning to Lebanon to play music any time soon.

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

THM: What’s next for Anthony Kaoteon? Can we expect a new Kaoteon or Death Tribe album in a not-so-distant future, and do you have any plans for touring with any of your bands around Europe or in North America? I would love to see either Kaoteon or Death Tribe performing in Canada.

AK: For touring, KAOTEON is the horse of choice and we are releasing the 3rd album soon hopefully as we finished the recording with Adrian (Erlandsson) from At the Gates on drums and Linus (Klausenitzer) from Obscura on bass again. The mixing and mastering were finalized by Tue Madsen in Denmark at Antfarm Studios and the artwork is getting ready with Vincent Fouquet in France.

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, Anthony! It’s always a pleasure interviewing relentless musicians like you who keep the underground metal scene alive and kicking. Please feel free to send a final message to our readers, and anything else you would like to say to all fans of heavy music out there.

AK: Thanks a million for the opportunity to speak and promote the music Gustavo. People like you keep the dream alive and I hope you will keep it up. As for the readers and music lovers, if you want bands to keep making music – support them!

Links
Kaoteon Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp
Death Tribe Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp

Metal Chick of the Month – Kayla Dixon

Death falls so heavy on my soul… Death falls so heavy, makes me moan…

Things are about to get doomed, heavy and extremely sexy here at The Headbanging Moose with our metal chick of the month of May. Trained in classical, jazz and musical theatre vocals, as well as acting and dance, the talented and stunning Kayla Dixon, frontwoman for Doom Metal institution Witch Mountain and for Alternative Metal outfit Dress the Dead, is among us to prove once again that black girls do have a place in the world of heavy music, and she has been doing that in great fashion with her beyond powerful vocals since joining Witch Mountain in 2015. Hence, after listening to Kayla singing for the very first time you’ll get absolutely addicted to her voice and performance, no doubt about that, therefore going after everything she has already recorded in her career, it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not.

Born on March 20, 1995 in Glendale, California and raised between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland (as you can see, she moved a lot when she was a kid), Kayla has been singing since the age of five, joining a Jazz band at the age of 13, when she began to hone her vocal skills and discovered her passion for performing. Having studied ballet, modern and contemporary techniques at the American Dance Institute, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Maryland Youth Ballet, among others, not to mention she’s a trained actor of Stanislavski and Meisner techniques (which contributed to her deep understanding of the importance of storytelling on stage), Kayla has already participated in several projects in her career, such as productions at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Levine Music, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, also making an appearance in in the Sundance award winning movie I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, on Netflix, as well as in the TV series Portlandia, Grimm and Outlaw. In addition, she said in one of her interviews she doesn’t sit at a keyboard or think about intervals or scales, unless she’s writing harmonies. She usually writes the melody first, thinking about “what words match this melody and how can I put this melody into words?”

Kayla got her first contact with heavy music during her teens due to her sisters, who used to listen to bands like Marilyn Manson, Tool and Nine Inch Nails, and she fell in love for that type of music. After straying away from that for a while, she said it was when she was in the ninth grade that she rediscovered all those bands, later turning her attention to other heavier and more complex bands such as Meshuggah. She mentioned in one of her interviews that it was the intensity of metal music that really caught her attention at first, as she feels she can express all her emotions and feelings through metal. In addition, she also said that the energy coming from the audience while you’re on stage is also what makes heavy music so special for her.

Regarding her career with both Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, everything started back in 2015 when Kayla, who had recently discovered the music by Witch Mountain, saw on their Facebook page they were auditioning for a new vocalist after the departure in 2014 of the amazing Uta Plotkin, prior to the release of the album Mobile of Angels. She then decided to take a shot at that by submitting a video audition, admitting she was a little nervous as she loved Uta’s lyrics and the vocal melodies, but fortunately for all of us fans of rock and metal Kayla became the band’s new frontwoman (and let’s not forget she was only 19 years old at the time). Four years later, this excellent Portland, Oregon-based band formed back in 1997 released their first full-length album with Kayla on vocals, self-titled Witch Mountain (which by the way she was responsible for all lyrics), not to mention their 2016 single Burn You Down, impressing not only the band’s diehard fans with her potent voice and her ability to easily switch between clean and harsh vocals,  but also her own band members. “When she laid down a scratch track in the studio and was going back and forth between the cleans and the dirties, our producer Billy and us were just sitting there laughing with joy,” recalls guitarist Rob Wrong. “For her that was just a scratch track, and we’re just like ‘most people in the world can’t do this.’ For Dixon, the possibility to cross styles and alternate between clean and screaming vocals is ‘a breath of fresh air.’”

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Then in 2018, one year after parting ways with former The Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving, Dress the Dead announced a new lineup with our goddess Kayla on vocals in an unexpected move by many. “A mutual friend reached out to me about Dress the Dead.  One of my first thoughts was, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready or even at an appropriate talent level to be replacing someone like Peter Dolving for these guys.’  I’d battled with the idea in my head for several months before finally reaching out.  I had listened to and loved 1969, but what really hit me hard was when I heard the other songs that are still unreleased that they sent me.  I had no idea how musically diverse this band would turn out to be,” said Kayla about joining her second major band, but as what happened with Witch Mountain her vocals matched Dress the Dead’s music flawlessly, as you can enjoy in the excellent songs 1969, There Goes The Sun and Promises & Kisses. In addition to that, just to give you an idea of how healthy her relationship with her new bandmates is, take a look at this fun YouTube video titled “Dress The Dead – Crappy Comments”, where Kayla and the rest of the band read and discuss about the most ridiculous comments they received from fans via social media.

Our hardcore vegan (yes, she’s a vegan) had also been involved with several other bands and projects before joining Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, each one offering Kayla a chance to showcase all her highly developed vocal skills. For instance, she was (apparently) the vocalist for a Cleveland, Ohio-based Groove/Death Metal band named Demons Within during an unknown period of time, and the lead singer for Sacramento, California-based Power Metal act Helion Prime from 2016 until 2017, with whom she recorded the sensational single Remnants of Stars, in 2017. Apart from that, she also started lending her unique voice now in 2019 to a British/Romanian Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band named Clouds during some of their live performances, and she also appeared as a guest vocalist in the song Buried In Sand, from Clouds’ 2018 release Dor – Bonus Album;  in the electrifying title-track Terminal, from the 2017 album Terminal, by British Melodic Progressive Metal band Divinity Compromised; and more recently in Living Light, from the 2019 album Divided by Darkness, by Phoenix, Arizona-based Doom Metal act Spirit Adrift, to be released later this month.

Touring is always one of the most difficult and demanding tasks in the life of a musician, and as a talented vocalist that Kayla is she obviously warms up her voice (and mind) properly before going on stage, sometimes meditating for a few minutes to reach her desired state of mind prior to performing. As a matter of fact, Kayla mentioned that meditation was one of the main activities she discovered through the years to fight her childhood traumas, to work on her spirituality and to remain strong when facing any type of adversity. She also said that, to keep her body and mind healthy while touring with Witch Mountain, who by the way have a very aggressive touring agenda, she tries to eat well and work out whenever she can, avoiding things like partying and drinking. Even with all those precautions to stay in shape, Kayla said that due to her incendiary performances each show ends up being fairly exhausting for her but energizing at the same time, saying it’s another form of “meditation” for her. “Music is a way for me to express that negativity and get it out. There’s also a positivity about it. So, it’s very energizing. Music is what makes me happy and I believe it is my life’s purpose,” commented Kayla, and if you take into account the fact that when she’s not on tour she can be giving vocal lessons or acting (albeit she hasn’t being doing a lot of that lately due to her busy schedule), it’s the utmost proof she was born to be an artist.

As curious as this might sound, Kayla always mentions in her interviews that she considers herself an introvert, although she’s not actually afraid of talking to people. Despite having introverted tendencies, she confronts that inner fear by working really hard on it, saying that fear doesn’t have to be who she really is or her story. And even more curious than that, she mentioned that one thing she loves doing for relaxation and fun is watching horror movies, with her favorite one being the 1982 cult movie Poltergeist and also mentioning Suspiria as another movie she enjoyed a lot (I just don’t know if she’s talking about the 1977 original one or the 2018 version). She said Poltergeist really freaked her out, that it was extremely scary in her opinion, so how can this be a relaxing activity, right? Anyway, still talking about ghosts and paranormal activities, she said she had a few paranormal experiences in her life, as her mother was really into that kind of thing and would tell her about ghosts she saw. She mentioned that when she was seven years old she was sitting in the living room around Christmas time watching the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and when she went to her room there was this white figure of an old man standing. In addition, her dad, who’s by the way a pastor, also claims he’s seen a ghost in his church, which used to be an old-fashioned one-room school house back in the 1900’s, describing the appearance of the ghost in great detail. If ghosts truly exist or not, no one knows for sure, but if Kayla channels those encounters and experiences into her music, and we all know the unknown has always been a magnificent inspiration for all genres and subgenres of heavy music, we can rest assured she’ll keep providing us first-class rock and metal for decades to come.

Kayla Dixon’s Official Facebook page
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“When I get on stage, I lose control and there’s not much I can do about that.” – Kayla Dixon

Album Review – Voidnaut / Nadir (2019)

A thrilling and very detailed album of Melodic Groove Metal made in Greece, overflowing heaviness, punch and electricity.

Hailing from the always vibrant city of Athens, Greece, Heavy/Groove Metal act Voidnaut was formed in 2015 by guitarist Kostas Krikos and vocalist Stavros Benardo as a small project, gradually evolving into a much bolder and violent beast with the additions of drummer Kostas Alexakis (Acid Death) and bassist Kostas Tasakos (Double Square) not long after. With influences ranging from Disturbed to Pantera and the overall sound of American Heavy Metal, Voidnaut are unleashing upon us their debut full-length album, entitled Nadir, mixed and produced at Devasounds Studios by Fotis Benardo (SixforNine, Septic Flesh), mastered by Steve Lado (Tardive Dyskinesia), and featuring a modern artwork by Giannis Nakos (Remedy Art Design). And overflowing heaviness, punch and electricity, of course.

The acoustic guitar by Kostas Krikos in the intro Nadir works as the “calm before the storm”, warning us all there’s a demolishing feast of Groove Metal coming entitled Back from the Grave, a straightforward and catchy tune where Kostas Alexakis provides those traditional pounding beats we love in heavy music, while its lyrics remind me of some of the most interesting creations by bands like Dream Theater and Trivium (“I shut off the engine of light and in darkness I reigned / To another dimension,My redemption… / All I need is a sign-an unknown sacrifice I’m the keeper of light. / In my hour of pain wicked forces I gained for I’m back from…”). Then get ready to bang your head to a fusion of Southern and Groove Metal named Hunted, where Stavros does a great job with his raspy, angry vocals while Kostas Tasakos extracts pure metallic lines from his bass; and Stavros kicks off the flammable This Pain of Mine with a demented scream, while the rest of the band fires modern-day Alternative and Groove Metal lines, sounding perfect for jumping up and down during their live performances.

Control is another smashing tune by Voidnaut led by Kostas Alexakis’ thunderous beats and spiced up by Kostas Krikos’ electryfing riffs and solos, with all four band members being on fire from start to finish in an awesome display of modern metal music. Then more modernity and contemporary sounds invade our ears in Porcelain Lady, displaying a great sync between Kostas Tasakos and Kostas Alexakis with their rumbling bass punches and beats, respectively, while Stravos keeps roaring like a pro on vocals; and putting the pedal to the metal the band offers us Damage Done, blasting sheer rage and groove from their sharp instruments, with highlights to Kostas Alexakis’ incendiary performance on drums, not to mention the amazing guest vocals by Fotis Benardo and guest guitar solo by Bob Katsionis (Firewind, Outloud).

Kostas Krikos keeps cutting our skin deep with his razor-edged riffs in Scarred for Life, highly inspired by the music crafted by icons like Killswitch Engage, Light The Torch and other exponents of the Metalcore and Alternative Metal scene, with Stravos simply kicking some serious ass with his screams, followed by Road to Nowhere, probably the most commercial track of the album (which doesn’t mean it’s bad at all, though, just less electrifying), presenting solid instrumental pieces spearheaded by Kostas Krikos and his in-your-face riffs. Lastly, closing the album Voidnaut deliver tons of aggression in Savage World, drinking from the same fountain as bands like Trivium, sounding groovy, heavy-as-hell and vibrant, with Kostas Alexakis once again stealing the spotlight with his rhythmic and furious drumming. They’re definitely on beast mode in this great song, which obviously puts a climatic ending to the album, therefore leaving us eager for more of their modern-day Melodic Death and Groove Metal.

It’s quite easy to feel all of Voidnaut’s groove and punch from Nadir, as all you have to do is listen to the album in full on Spotify, or purchase it from iTunes or Amazon. You can also keep updated with all things Voidnaut such as tour dates and new releases by following the band on Facebook, and enjoy more of their music (and videos) by subscribing to their YouTube channel, showing your true support to another excellent Hellenic band that will surely keep fighting for metal music for years to come with their talent, passion and energy. Needless to say, we should all thank them for that by banging our heads nonstop to their powerful music.

Best moments of the album: This Pain of Mine, Control and Damage Done.

Worst moments of the album: Road to Nowhere.

Released in 2019 7hard/7us Records

Track listing
1. Nadir 1:17
2. Back from the Grave 4:16
3. Hunted 3:20
4. This Pain of Mine 4:15
5. Control 3:38
6. Porcelain Lady 4:26
7. Damage Done (feat. Fotis Benardo & Bob Katsionis) 4:36
8. Scarred for Life 4:26
9. Road to Nowhere 4:15
10. Savage World 3:52

Band members
Stavros Benardo – vocals
Kostas Krikos – guitars
Kostas Tasakos – bass
Kostas Alexakis – drums

Guest musicians
Fotis Benardo – vocals on “Damage Done”
Bob Katsionis – guitar solo on “Damage Done”

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

Inspired by the suffering of warfare, spirit breaking oppression and the refusal to submit to either, behold the debut album by Anthony Kaoteon’s newborn spawn of Extreme Metal.

“Come confess your mortal sins,
Sadistic violence, the trademark of kings”

Inspired by the suffering of warfare, spirit breaking oppression and the refusal to submit to either, Extreme Metal project Death Tribe is the sound of vociferous rebellion and defiant resistance spearheaded by Anthony Kaoteon, the mastermind behind Death/Black Metal band Kaoteon, who released in 2018 the excellent Damnatio Memoriae. And if you’re already familiar with Kaoteon’s insurgent music, you’ll certainly have a blast with Death Tribe’s first installment, entitled Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, Anthony’s personal monument to independence and his eternal tribute to every man, woman and child that refuses to bend the knee and submit.

Born into the chaos and conflict of Beirut, Lebanon, but currently residing in Utrecht, Netherlands, Anthony refuses to accept the strictures of others in his day-to-day life as well as in music, always determined to shape his own destiny. Conceived over a few years and drawing on sounds from different periods of metal’s development, Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment features an array of guest vocalists such as Serge the Slave (Aramaic) and Youmni Abou el Zahab (Ascendant), who together with Anthony and his henchmen Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Alkaloid, Kaoteon) on bass and Mattias Landes (Dark Fortress, ReVamp) on drums generate a massive wall of violent and austere sounds recommended for fans of renowned acts like Revocation, Gojira and Skeletonwitch.  “I dedicate this album to those who keep chasing their dreams, to every person that was born with a tag on his forehead and defied the world to make his own statement heard – I will die soon but the music stays to remind those who listen of a man who didn’t obey,” said Anthony about his newborn spawn, inviting us all to join him in his musical rebellion.

Featuring Anthony himself on lead vocals, the opening track Hollow offers the listener an explosion of Groove Metal from the very first second, with Anthony barking like a beast while Mattias smashes his drums manically, or in other words, a straightforward, in-your-face tune tailored for admirers of rabid and pulverizing music. Following such demented start, Walid Wolflust (Kaoteon) lends his visceral roars to Beyond Pain and Pleasure, giving life (or I should say death) to its acid lyrics (“Are you delighted from others pain? / Are you distressed by another’s pleasure? / Come confess your mortal sins, / Sadistic violence, the trademark of kings”) in a brutal fusion of Black and Death Metal where Linus and Mattias are in an infernal sync; whereas in Implode Explode Anthony not only vociferates manically, but his scorching riffs add an extra touch of dementia to the overall musicality, inspiring us to slam into the circle pit to Death Tribe’s frantic fusion of Groove, Death and Thrash Metal.

It’s time for Death Tribe to go full Death Metal in Neurotic Breakdown, sounding gory, virulent and putrid from start to finish, with guest vocalist Serge the Slave (Aramaic) doing an amazing job by almost vomiting the song’s lyrics. Needless to say, the violence and hatred flowing from Anthony’s riffs and Mattias’ darkened beats is simply outstanding. Adnan Mryhij (Svengali) is the designated guest growler in Psychopathetic, a hybrid of Groove and Progressive Metal infused with the violence of Thrash Metal, sounding like a more demented version of Mastodon and also presenting a beyond infuriated Linus with his intricate bass punches; followed by Death Blues, where Youmni Abou el Zahab (Ascendant) brings a Hard Rock and Power Metal twist to the band’s crushing sonority with his high-pitched screams, with the overall result sounding as if classic 80’s metal has met the insanity and rage of modern-day extreme music.

Walid is back on vocals in the demolishing Narcissist Bastard Nation, where Linus and Mattias make the earth tremble with their respective instruments, sounding closer to Kaoteon’s sound from their 2018 album, also carrying obscure lyrics that are nothing but a sad reflection of our reality (“Money and Power is what they seek / Blinded by Hatred and their love of creed, / Sinners as saints covered by shame, / Killing each other’s and no justice to blame, / Narcissist Nation – Clueless bastard marionettes”). Then JM Elias (Damage Rite, Svengali) brings sheer hate and violence to the onrush of demented sounds titled Nuclear Hate, with Anthony slashing his strings in a very melodic but fierce manner while Linus keeps extracting thunderous tones from his bass nonstop. And Anthony and Serge bark and scream together in the closing tune named Face the Facts, a groovy extravaganza spiced up by elements from Southern Metal delivering lots of shredding and deranged growls for your avid ears, ending the album in an absolutely berserk way.

If you want to know more about this newborn beast known as Death Tribe, their music, their goals, principles and tour dates, simply go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to grab your copy of the flammable Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment from the project’s own BandCamp page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from CD Baby. Because, in the end, it doesn’t really matter if Anthony incarnates his Kaoteon or his Death Tribe form, as he will keep being the voice of the voiceless until his final breath. Having said that, it’s time for all of us to join Anthony’s newly founded tribe of extreme music, always fighting for freedom of speech, and never kneeling to anyone.

Best moments of the album: Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate.

Worst moments of the album: Psychopathetic.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Hollow 4:10
2. Beyond Pain and Pleasure 3:41
3. Implode Explode 4:25
4. Neurotic Breakdown 5:25
5. Psychopathetic 3:09
6. Death Blues 3:41
7. Narcissist Bastard Nation 4:14
8. Nuclear Hate 3:52
9. Face the Facts 3:35

Band members
Anthony Kaoteon – guitars, lead vocals on “Hollow”, “Implode Explode” and “Face the Facts”
Linus Klausenitzer – bass
Mattias Landes – drums

Guest musicians
Walid Wolflust – vocals on “Beyond Pain and Pleasure” and “Narcissist Bastard Nation”
Serge the Slave – vocals on “Neurotic Breakdown” and “Face the Facts”
Adnan Mryhij – vocals on “Psychopathetic”
Youmni Abou el Zahab – vocals on “Death Blues”
JM Elias – vocals on “Nuclear Hate”

Album Review – The Wandering Ascetic / Crimson (2019)

Drawing influences from the Hellenic Black Metal scene, here comes a Singaporean squad armed with their brand new album of dissonant and hypnotic sounds.

Formed in 2011 in Singapore by Kathir, vocalist and bassist for Rudra, an iconic Death and Black Metal act from the local scene, The Wandering Ascetic are making a name for themselves in the underground of heavy music by blasting a more exemplary black and thrash sonority without the Indian classical instruments seen in the music by Rudra, but still retaining their trademark spiritual fervor. Accompanied by guitarist Vinod (also from Rudra), bassist Jayakumar and drummer Kannan K, Kathir and his The Wandering Ascetic draw their influences from the Hellenic Black Metal scene (as well as obviously from Rudra), generating dissonant, hypnotic sound s infused with crushing riffs and grooves, elevating their music and art to a whole different level.

After the release of their debut EP titled Manifest Destiny, in 2013, it’s time for The Wandering Ascetic to smash our senses once again with their first full-length opus, the excellent Crimson, featuring a life-transforming artwork by Mark Riddick (Fetid Zombie) and layout by Turkka Rantanen (Demilich, Demigod). Comprised of 10 unrelenting songs ranging from pure old school Black Metal to modern-day Southern Rock and Groove Metal, Crimson is a solid and very entertaining statement by The Wandering Ascetic in a scene that seems stagnant at times, showing how powerful Singaporean metal can be and, as a consequence, opening several doors in the international market for the band.

Vinod begins his slashing attack accompanied by Jayakumar’s thunderous bass in Eva Braun, with Kathir roaring demonically for our total delight in a Black and Death Metal attack spiced up by hints of Progressive Metal, flowing darkly until its eerie end; then the tribal beats by Kannan K ignite another obscure composition named I Sing the Body Electric, showcasing an obscure rhythm inspired by old school Black and Doom Metal tailored for fans of the genre where the guitar lines by Vinod sound as flammable as they can be. Bringing elements form the music by Gojira, Mastodon and Tool we have the beautifully titled The Exorcism of Mrs. Doe, a very intricate and sulfurous tune where Jayakumar and Kannan K generate a dense and disturbing atmosphere with their weapons, followed by The Gods Bleed!, a song perfect for breaking your neck headbanging spearheaded by Vinod’s devilish riffs, while Kathir continues to vociferate like a demonic entity, not to mention how metallic and impactful Jayakumar’s bass punches sound and feel.

Beast of Burden presents more melody blended with sheer darkness in the form of modern-day Death and Black Metal, with Vinod being on absolute fire with his riffs and solos while the gnarls by Kathir only get more and more infernal, and The Wandering Ascetic keep hammering our heads with their crushing sonority in The Will to Live, where all four band members make sure we don’t stop banging our heads to their vicious music, with highlights to Kathir’s enraged growls and Vinod’s ass-kicking guitar solo. After such high level of devastation, it’s time to dive deep into the crypts of Hades with those Singaporean metallers in To Hell, Back and to Hell Again, a classic, straightforward metal extravaganza with elements from the dirty Rock N’ Roll played by bands like Motörhead and Chrome Division, which obviously means it kicks some serious ass.

Here for the Good Things keeps the album at a very good level of malignancy and hatred despite sounding a bit generic (or I should say less inspired than the other songs), with Vinod slashing his guitar in a very precise and aggressive manner; and the cutting sound of his guitar is once again the main ingredient in the visceral Assassins, displaying some hypnotizing instrumental parts, in special Vinod’s guitar solo, while Kannan K doesn’t let the energy go down by smashing his drums nonstop. Finally we have Orang Laut, an ominous and grim blast of extreme music highly inspired by classic Doom Metal, with Vinod and Jayakumar extracting the most Stygian sounds from their strings and with the music ending as dark as anyone can imagine.

It’s not always that we have the pleasure of facing high-end metal music from such distinct country, completely out of the North American and European markets, and we metalheads should not only thank The Wandering Ascetic for that by following them on Facebook, but mainly by purchasing their new album Crimson from their own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity webstore, or from other retailers like Target. Crimson might not be considered a true revolution in music, but the four guys from The Wandering Ascetic definitely put on a lot of energy, creativity and passion in the writing, composing and recording of the album to ensure they were not just playing “more of the same”. Quite the contrary, Crimson does sound very unique and compelling, elevating the name of Singapore in the world of heavy music and paving a very interesting future for the quartet.

Best moments of the album: I Sing the Body Electric, The Gods Bleed! and To Hell, Back and to Hell Again.

Worst moments of the album: Here for the Good Things.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Asia

Track listing
1. Eva Braun 5:18
2. I Sing the Body Electric 4:46
3. The Exorcism of Mrs. Doe 4:28
4. The Gods Bleed! 4:42
5. Beast of Burden 4:01
6. The Will to Live 3:15
7. To Hell, Back and to Hell Again 3:10
8. Here for the Good Things 4:10
9. Assassins 5:04
10. Orang Laut 3:12

Band members
Kathir – vocals
Vinod – lead & rhythm guitars
Jayakumar – bass
Kannan K – drums

Album Review – Soilwork / Verkligheten (2019)

One of the biggest exponents of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene returns in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.

Although most people consider Helsingborg-based metal masters Soilwork to play a fusion of Metalcore and Melodic Groove Metal nowadays instead of the Melodic Death Metal we got used to from their early albums, I personally still see them as one of the biggest exponents of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene, having influenced (and still inspiring) countless bands worldwide, like for example Trivium. And to prove how relevant and ass-kicking the band is after all these years on the road, frontman Björn “Speed” Strid and his henchmen David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret on the guitars, Sven Karlsson on the keyboards and newcomer Bastian Thusgaard on drums are releasing upon humanity the superb Verkligheten, the eleventh studio album in their undisputed career.

Verkligheten, which by the way is the Swedish word for “reality”, is not only the first Soilwork album to feature Bastian on drums as the replacement of longtime member Dirk Verbeuren (who left the band to join Megadeth a couple of years ago), but it also marks the longest gap between their studio albums to date, with their previous installment, The Ride Majestic, having been released nearly three and a half years earlier. Well, at least the wait was absolutely worth it, because if there’s one word that can be used to describe the music found in Verkligheten is “addictive”. You won’t skip any song from the album, and as soon as it’s over you’ll go back to the first track and listen to everything all over again, which in other words means we’re undoubtedly facing a very strong candidate to be elected one of the best albums of 2019.

The title-track Verkligheten, a Western movie-Tarantino-inspired instrumental intro, flows smoothly and serene, inviting us all to join Soilwork in the realm of Melodic Death Metal with the crushing Arrival, presenting some pulverizing elements from Black Metal added to their core musicality, in special the demonic blast beats by Bastian, all enhanced by its classic lyrics beautifully declaimed by Björn (“The sky reflects in my hands / You took my world ’cause you can / Is it just me or is the light / Oh read me, you dust ridden seer / And prepare for the night”). The album couldn’t have started in a more thrilling and vibrant way, I might say. Moving on with the music, speed and violence are replaced with heaviness and an enfolding melody in the headbanging Bleeder Despoiler, where both David and Sylvain are on absolute fire with their scorching riffs, not to mention how the background keys by Sven and Bastian’s rhythmic drums complement each other flawlessly, and the band keeps blowing our speakers with their very melodic and fierce music in Full Moon Shoals, where once again all instruments are thoroughly connected, resulting in a dense and visceral sound complemented by another shot of their pensive and poetic words (“Anyone would cure it with blindness / There were moments where I thought I could be / A man who’s aching for the hour of closure / Darkness clearly kept on covering my needs / But it’s not what it seems / It’s just an inner endless shriek”).

Blending the most slashing elements from Rock N’ Roll, Melodic Death Metal and even Industrial Metal, Soilwork offer us an amazing composition titled The Nurturing Glance, perfect for banging your head, singing along with the band or simply enjoying Björn’s flawless vocal performance accompanied by the precise beats by Bastian, whereas in When the Universe Spoke  a serene intro explodes into top-notch Melodic Death Metal infused with Metalcore and Groove Metal nuances, with both Björn’s clean vocals and harsh growls being potentialized by the strident riffs by the band’s guitar duo (as well as the insane drumming by Bastian). Futuristic waves ignite what feels like a hybrid between contemporary Arch Enemy and Soilwork entitled Stålfågel (or “steel bird” from Swedish), featuring the stunning Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy as a guest vocalist. Björn and Alissa vigorously kick some serious ass together, while David and Sylvain hypnotize us with their riffs and solos in one of the top songs of the album without a shadow of a doubt, and putting the pedal to the metal this Swedish institution fires more of their razor-edged metal music in The Wolves Are Back in Town, showcasing headbanging beats, extremely melodic and sharp guitar lines, and yet another demolishing performance by Björn, spearheading his skillful horde like the true frontman he is.

Verkligheten Digipak CD Cover

Witan also presents a nice balance between harmonious and aggressive sounds, with Björn focusing slightly more on his clean vocals, flowing like a fast arrow until The Ageless Whisper comes ripping our hearts and minds in a solid display of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Moreover, Bastian pounds his drums like there’s no tomorrow, while the band’s guitar duo continue to grind their axes with a lot of precision and energy. Then featuring guest vocals by Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis), Needles and Kin is classic Melodic Death Metal presenting a vibrant fusion of rage, electricity and harmony with the intricate beats by Bastian dictating its rhythm and pace, all boosted by David’s superb guitar solo, before the closing tune You Aquiver, with guest Dave Sheldon (Exes for Eyes, Annihilator) on the guitar, brings to our ears a good mix of their more ferocious side with the whimsical and ethereal sound of the keys by Sven, with best metal (and even non-metal) albums of 2019. Furthermore, what Mr. Björn “Speed” Strid & Co. did in their new album might not be a revolution in music (as some very demanding fans always expect from their favorite bands), but it’s indeed a solid statement that Melodic Death Metal is still alive and kicking, and that Soilwork will continue to be a reference in the genre no matter what happens to the band. Fortunately for us fans of heavy music, the band is far from calling it quits, which means we’ll certainly have the pleasure of enjoying more of their crisp and vibrant metal with their future releases, and if they’re just half as good as Verkligheten we’ll have a very good reason to celebrate and to keep banging our heads together with those Swedish metal icons.

Best moments of the album: Arrival, The Nurturing Glance, Stålfågel and The Wolves Are Back in Town.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Verkligheten (instrumental) 1:44
2. Arrival 3:47
3. Bleeder Despoiler 3:36
4. Full Moon Shoals 4:46
5. The Nurturing Glance 5:24
6. When the Universe Spoke 5:22
7. Stålfågel (feat. Alissa White-Gluz) 4:25
8. The Wolves Are Back in Town 3:24
9. Witan 3:48
10. The Ageless Whisper 5:01
11. Needles and Kin (feat. Tomi Joutsen) 4:57
12. You Aquiver (feat. Dave Sheldon) 4:03

Band members
Björn “Speed” Strid – vocals
David Andersson – lead guitar
Sylvain Coudret – rhythm guitar
Sven Karlsson – keyboards
Bastian Thusgaard – drums

Guest musicians
Alissa White-Gluz – guest vocals on “Stålfågel”
Tomi Joutsen – guest vocals on “Needles and Kin”
Dave Sheldon – guitars on “You Aquiver”
Taylor Nordberg – bass (live)

Album Review – Orchid / Miasma (2019)

Immerse yourself in the debut full-length opus by four Indian metallers who are not afraid to experiment with the new and the unknown, always ready to push their own boundaries in heavy music.

Formed in late 2011 in Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru), the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, Avantgarde/Progressive Metal entity Orchid is a four-piece band comprised of Kaushal on vocals, Vinay on the guitar, Rahil on bass and Mayur on drums that plays a dense and very distinct blend of Heavy Metal with several other genres and styles such as Progressive Rock, Hardcore and Psychedelic Rock leanings (as well as Mathcore), pushing the boundaries of heavy music in the subcontinental underground and remaining one of the most original bands to emerge from the region.

In 2016, Orchid released their much-awaited self-titled debut EP to critical acclaim with Rolling Stone India calling it “one of the best cult classics of 2016” and “one of the most intriguing metal releases of the year”, inspiring the guys to keep moving forward and keep spreading their distinguished music to all four corners of the earth with their debut full-length opus Miasma, an album tailored for fans of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Gorguts and Frank Zappa, among others. Unlike their previous EP, which touched upon themes of techno-surrealism, Miasma is more straightforward with sociopolitical themes, with the artwork, done by the band’s own drummer through Copycat, containing elements from every song on the album.

An enraged scream by Kaushal kicks off the low-tuned, sluggish and heavy-as-hell opening track Obsolescence, with Vinay delivering lancinating riffs while Mayur brings tons of intricacy and dementia to the musicality with his beats, remaining crazy, vibrant and unique from start to finish, whereas in Solipsist we’re treated to two and a half minutes of top-notch Progressive Metal where Kaushal growls and roars manically while Vinay and Rahil give a lesson in progressiveness and heaviness with their stringed weapons. Then we have Master Supreme, a short and sweet headbanging tune led by the crushing drums by Mayur, bringing to our avid ears the most insane elements from Progressive and Groove Metal. “The song is about the pervasive influence and the growing epidemic of gurus/godmen and their cults in Indian society as well as abroad. Religion and spirituality is the biggest scam in the world; and because we live in India, we have a front-row seat to the circus,” commented the band about this austere and captivating song.

After the shortest song of the album, it’s time for the longest one, titled Dead End, offering seven minutes of insanity, rage and eccentricity. In other words, a full-bodied sonic extravaganza full of breaks and variations, not to mention the beautiful Jazz-inspired passage featuring guest Aadarsh Subramaniam and his old school keyboard solo, building an instant bridge to the also pulverizing Identoid, where Rahil extracts truly thunderous roars from his bass while Mayur and Kaushal “duel” to see who’s the most aggressive and demented one, maintaining the album at a high level of ferocity and intricacy. Following such fun tune we have Sugar Pill, showcasing the most progressive of all starts but quickly morphing into a sonic onrush of crisp guitar riffs, Hardcore-inspired drums and raspy growls, fading into a very alternative and sluggish outro, before Zero-Sum Game comes crushing like a thunderbolt, already beginning in full force and bringing a violent Kaushal on vocals, while Vinay keeps firing his classic and slashing guitar lines in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Metal with Avantgarde Metal and Mathcore nuances. Lastly the band offers us all Disassembly Line, not as vibrant and crushing as all previous songs but still a good sample of all the madness the quartet can blast through their music, with highlights to the once again amazing job done by Mayur on drums.

In a nutshell, the guys form Orchid were able to condense all their skills, influences and rage in a very intricate and solid way throughout Miasma, placing their brand new album as a fresh option for fans of heavy music who are always in pursuit of bands that think outside the box and that are not afraid to experiment with the most distinct music styles and genres. Having said that, what are you waiting for to show your support to those Bangalore-based metallers? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and purchase Miasma directly from their BandCamp page as well as from Instamojo. I bet you’ve never thought metal music made in India could sound so insane and eccentric like this, right?

Best moments of the album: Obsolescence, Dead End and Zero-Sum Game.

Worst moments of the album: Disassembly Line.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Obsolescence 5:54
2. Solipsist 2:34
3. Master Supreme 1:10
4. Dead End (feat. Aadarsh Subramaniam) 6:59
5. Identoid 2:47
6. Sugar Pill 4:22
7. Zero-Sum Game 4:32
8. Disassembly Line 3:48

Band members
Kaushal – vocals
Vinay – guitars
Rahil – bass
Mayur – drums, percussion

Guest musician
Aadarsh Subramaniam – keyboard solo on “Dead End”