Album Review – Sepultura / Quadra (2020)

A sensational concept album based on Quadrivium embraced by a fusion of Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal, masterfully crafted by the best Brazilian metal band of all time.

In case you’re form another dimension and haven’t listened to Quadra yet, let me tell you that the fifteenth studio effort by Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal titans Sepultura is much more than just another metal album. With a concept based on Quadrivium, which are the four subjects or arts (namely arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy), taught after teaching the trivium, Quadra, meaning “four ways” from Latin, is a 12-track album divided into four sections of three songs each. The first being Thrash Metal songs based on the classic Sepultura sound; the second section is inspired by the groove-percussion oriented sound the band explored in Roots; the third part has more progressive songs inspired by the track Iceberg Dances from Machine Messiah, albeit not all are instrumental tracks; and side four features slow-paced and melodic tracks similar to the song Machine Messiah. Add to that the undeniable talent by the band’s four horsemen Derrick Green on vocals, Andreas Kisser on the guitars, Paulo Jr. on bass and Eloy Casagrande on drums, and there you have the band’s most successful record since 1998’s Against.

Recorded and produced by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden, and featuring a bold artwork by Christiano Menezes from Darkside Books revolving around the meaning of the number four, Quadra is also the Portuguese term for sports court. “We all come from different Quadras. The countries, all nations with their borders and traditions; culture, religions, laws, education and a set of rules where life takes place. Our personalities, what we believe, how we live, how we build societies and relationships, all depends on these set of rules that we grew up with. Concepts of creation, gods, death and ethics. Money, we are enslaved by this concept. Who’s poor and who’s rich, that’s how we measure people and material goods. Regardless of your Quadra you need money to survive, the prime rule to play this game called life. Hence the coin. The coin is forged with the senator skull, who represents the set of rules and laws we live by; the world map on his head delimiting the borders of all nations, imaginary lines separating people by concepts of race and the sacred,” explained Andreas about the concept behind the album art.

Tribal beats and futuristic sounds ignite the brutal and groovy Isolation, an old school Thrash Metal chant with Sepultura’s unique twist, where Derrick already tells us all this album is going to be fantastic through his enraged roars, whereas Means to an End is another ass-kicking, trademark creation by the quartet with the talented Eloy bringing tons of progressiveness and fury to the musicality, while Paulo continues to be precise and groovy as usual on bass. And there’s no sign of slowing down in Last Time, where Derrick and Eloy represent the brutality in the music while Andreas showcases his infinite talent as a shredder as well as with his fantastic solos; and adding primeval elements and beats from the band’s cultural background it’s time for one more round of savagery and groove united in the name of metal in Capital Enslavement, with Andreas slashing his strings beautifully accompanied by the unstoppable Eloy on drums. Back to a more traditional sound blending Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal, Andreas, Paulo and Eloy generate a bold and reverberating atmosphere in Ali, sounding beyond perfect for Derrick to fire his beastly growls.

Raging Void is a mid-tempo, neck-breaking tune led by Eloy and his pounding drums where Derrick is effectively supported by all backing vocals, while Andreas keep stunning us all with his whimsical guitar. Then  a sensational acoustic intro by Andreas sets the stage for an austere and multi-layered metal feast entitled Guardians of Earth (which has one of the best and most touching official videos of the past decade), with all choirs and orchestrations making the whole song even more impactful and thrilling; followed by The Pentagram, bringing to our ears a classic Death Metal sonority infused with endless progressiveness and rage. Furthermore, Andreas is superb on the guitars as usual, while Paulo brings the groove with his minimalist but precise bass jabs, resulting in an excellent instrumental composition. After that we have Autem, uniting the past, present and perhaps the future of Sepultura by alternating between old school thrashing moments and the obscurity and hatred from Death and even Black Metal. Needless to say, Eloy and Andreas are in absolute sync throughout the entire song, and after the brief but beautiful acoustic intermission Quadra, it’s time for a darker, more introspective side of Derek in Agony of Defeat, where once again all background choirs and orchestrations bring a touch of finesse to the overall result, albeit not as majestic as the rest of the album, though. And last but not least, the delicate, sexy vocals by guest Emmily Barreto make a superb paradox with the raspy growls by Derrick in Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering, with the music sounding grim, melodic and vibrant form start to finish, or in other words, a great composition showcasing the band’s endless creativity and passion for heavy music.

After all is said and done, it’s more than fair to give such amazing album of heavy music four of our rating skulls, especially as the album revolves around the various meaning of the number four, right? In addition, in case you haven’t done so yet, I recommend you follow the best and most influential band of the Brazilian metal scene of all time on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their unique and heavy-as-hell songs and videos, and of course purchase or stream Quadra by clicking HERE. When Derrick was asked during an interview with BraveWords “Which Sepultura album are you most proud of?”, he replied, “Definitely Quadra. It’s the latest album, and we really worked so hard on it. We have so many different elements from the past that have helped us get to here – where we are at right now. So, without a doubt in my mind, this is the strongest album that we’ve done together. And I’m extremely proud of it.” I guess we must all agree with Derrick that Quadra is hands down the most detailed, diverse and electrifying album of his era fronting Sepultura, raising the flag of Brazilian metal higher and higher for the delight of all of their loyal and diehard fans.

Best moments of the album: Isolation, Capital Enslavement, Guardians of Earth and Fear and Pain, Chaos, Suffering.

Worst moments of the album: Agony of Defeat.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Isolation 4:56
2. Means to an End 4:39
3. Last Time 4:27
4. Capital Enslavement 3:40
5. Ali 4:12
6. Raging Void 3:57
7. Guardians of Earth 5:11
8. The Pentagram 5:20
9. Autem 4:06
10. Quadra 0:46
11. Agony of Defeat 5:51
12. Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering 4:09

Alive in Brazil Digipack and Earbook bonus disc (recorded live at “Audio” in São Paulo, Brazil on June 20, 2015)
1. Choke 3:46
2. Convicted in Life 3:31
3. Sepulnation 4:41
4. Apes of God 3:22
5. Sepultura Under My Skin 3:45
6. Manipulation of Tragedy 4:19
7. The Vatican 6:34
8. Cut-Throat 2:55

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

Guest musicians
Bruna Zenti – violin
Kadu Fernandes – percussion on “Capital Enslavement”
Renato Zanuto – keyboards, orchestrations on “Isolation”, “Means to an End”, “Capital Enslavement” and “Guardians of Earth”, choir arrangements
Francesco Ferrini – orchestrations on “Last Time” and “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”
Robertinho Rodrigues – acoustic bass
Chorus Mysticus – choir vocals
Jens Bogren – backing vocals
Paulo Cyrino – effects on “Ali”
Gunnar Misgeld – choir arrangements on “Isolation”, “Last Time”, “Guardians of Earth” and “Agony of Defeat”
Emmily Barreto – female vocals on “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”

Album Review – Reternity / A Test Of Shadows (2020)

Just one year after the release of their debut album, this German Melodic Heavy Metal outfit returns in full force with a worthy and stronger successor in every way.

Just one year after the release of Facing the Demon and after several successful club shows and festivals, the creative duo consisting of frontman Stefan Zörner and guitarist Carsten Sauter, together with guitarist Oskar Schmidt, bassist Didi Schenk and drummer Suat Gören, collectively known as Heilbronn, Germany-based Melodic Heavy Metal outfit Reternity, are back in full force with their sophomore album entitled A Test of Shadows, a worthy and stronger successor in every way. Produced in cooperation with Jonas Kümmerle at Analog Mixing Studio, A Test Of Shadows brings forward compact songs without unnecessary lengths, always spiced up by the melodic and expressive vocals of Stefan as well as the powerful and original riffs of Carsten, with a musical spectrum ranging from homages to the Speed and Thrash Metal scene of the blissful 80’s to heavy and danceable mid-tempo hymns and neck-breakers, resulting in a sound that should quickly grow on the heart of every friend of melodic, varied metal.

A creepy version to an excerpt from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony NO. 9 in D Minor, OP. 125: IV. Finale: Presto – Allegro Assai – Rezitativo – Allegro Assai sets the stage for Sniper’s Death, where Suat begins crushing his drums in great fashion, offering Stefan all he needs to shine on vocals in a thrilling and heavy-as-hell Melodic Heavy Metal feast, also showcasing Thrash Metal-infused guitars. There’s more of their groovy and smashing riffs in This Is the End, courtesy of the band’s infernal guitar duo Carsten and Oskar supported by Didi’s rumbling bass, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and exhaling pure metal, and it’s interesting to see how the band has invested a lot more on the thrill and heaviness of classic Heavy Metal this time rather than the melody of their previous release as in My Crush, with Stefan doing a great job declaiming the song’s passionate lyrics. In the title-track A Test of Shadows, a very progressive and dark creation by Reternity, Carsten’s and Oskar’s riffage sounds as razor-edged as possible, with Suat dictating the pace with his intricate beats and fills. Needless to say, this should sound amazing when played live; and  starting with elements from Groove Metal and from the heavier-than-usual rock blasted by Volbeat and Godsmack they offer us all A Grave Called Home, alternating between more introspective, serene moments and obscure, pounding guitars and drums.

Time to put the pedal to the metal once again in (We Were) the Gods, with Stefan’s precise vocal lines being amazingly supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals in a hybrid of classic Heavy Metal with contemporary Melodic Metal, not to mention Suat’s old school beats, and they keep hammering our heads with their fusion of harmony and aggressiveness in Falling Shadows, where Didi once again blasts metallic sounds form his bass while the band’s guitar duo offers our ears Iron Maiden-inspired riffs. In You’ll See the Sun they tried to sound a little bit more stoner or alternative than usual; however, it didn’t work as well as expected, with even Stefan’s vocals sounding uninspired and bland, feeling disconnected from the rest of such amazing album. Fortunately, in No Deeper Hole the boys get back to a more frantic and berserk mode thanks to the smashing drums by Suat and the always incendiary riffs and solos by Carsten and Oskar, and the sheer electricity flowing from all instruments will surely generate some nice circle pits during their live concerts. Lastly, obscure piano notes kick off the somber and melancholic Stranded, created in collaboration with Jazz musician Aljoscha Crema, by far the most personal of all songs where Stefan has another superb performance on vocals, putting a gentle and introspective ending to A Test Of Shadows.

In summary, if you consider yourself a diehard fan of melodic and classic Heavy Metal, I highly recommend you take a shot at A Test Of Shadows, first by streaming the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and then, even more important than that, by purchasing the album from your favorite retailer, including the MDD shop, Nuclear Blast, Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Reternity on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about Stefan, Carsten & Co., as I’m more than sure those German metallers will keep embellishing the airwaves with their refined and extremely pleasant creations for many years to come, just like what they have to offer us in A Test Of Shadows, an album that explains why not only the big German bands like Scorpions and Helloween have conquered the world of heavy music, but also why the underground scene in Germany is by far one of the best in the entire world.

Best moments of the album: (We Were) the Gods, Falling Shadows and No Deeper Hole.

Worst moments of the album: You’ll See the Sun.

Released in 2020 Black Sunset

Track listing
1. Symphony NO. 9 in D Minor, OP. 125: IV. Finale: Presto – Allegro Assai – Rezitativo – Allegro Assai (Intro) 0:19
2. Sniper’s Death 4:08
3. This Is the End 3:21
4. My Crush 4:12
5. A Test of Shadows 4:29
6. A Grave Called Home 5:07
7. (We Were) the Gods 4:11
8. Falling Shadows 4:06
9. You’ll See the Sun 4:29
10. No Deeper Hole 2:47
11. Stranded 5:18

Band members
Stefan Zörner – vocals
Carsten Sauter – guitars
Oskar Schmidt – guitars
Didi Schenk – bass
Suat Gören – drums

Guest musician
Aljoscha Crema – piano on “Stranded”

Album Review – Chaoseum / Second Life (2020)

After taking their first step to hell, it’s time for those Swiss metallers to stun us all with their sophomore album, showcasing a thrilling fusion of Metalcore and Nu Metal with a theatrical twist.

Founded in 2018 by Loïc Duruz and Valery Veings, both former guitarists of Symphonic Metal band Elferya, the up-and-coming Lausanne, Switzerland-based Metalcore act Chaoseum is back in action in 2020 with their sophomore album entitled Second Life, presenting the band’s trademark amalgamation of styles including Metalcore, Power Crossover and Nu Metal, among others. Recorded at both Chaos Studio and Conatus Studios, mixed by Gwen Kerjan from Slab Sound Studio, and featuring a beautiful artwork by Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes, Second Life brings forward a new (and more theatrical) era in the career of Chaoseum, with its 11 original compositions thoroughly crafted by Loïc and Valery together with fontman CK Smile and drummer Greg Turini appealing to all fans of the modern metal music played by bands such as Lacuna Coil, Korn, Trivium, Killswitch Engage and Slipknot, among others.

The creepy, cinematic intro XXV-IX-MMXX (or September 15, 2020, the official release date of the album) will send shivers down your spine before the quartet comes crushing with their vicious Metalcore in Hell Has No Way Out, with Greg sounding like a machine gun on drums while Loïc and Valery fire melodious riffs for our total delight and CK roars and sings with tons of anguish. The melodic and aggressive title-track Second Life starts in an atmospheric way before exploding into a visceral fusion of Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal, with the rumbling sounds of the bass by Loïc punching us hard in the head, followed by Into My Split, a fulminating Alternative Metal tune tailored for banging our heads nonstop or simply enjoying the gentle guitars and beats by the band, all spiced up by CK’s introspective performance. Then we have the excellent Smile Again, clearly inspired by Nu Metal masters Korn, with CK doing his best Jonathan Davis impersonation while Loïc and Valery keep delivering pure metallic lines through their riffs and bass punches; whereas it’s time to speed things up and offer the listener the sinister and alternative Scream, with Loïc, Valery and Greg bringing tons of progressiveness to their wicked sonority, and with its futuristic and modern vibe being all CK needs to shine on vocals.

Stick Under My Skin is another song with a cryptic, mesmerizing intro, evolving into a feast of Alternative, Groove and Progressive Metal where CK’s clean and harsh vocals are nicely supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals, while Burn My Eyes is a solid rock and metal creation by Chaoseum, albeit a bit generic if compared to the rest of the album, with both Loïc and Valery doing a great job with their flammable guitars. And you better get ready as there’s still a lot more of the music by Chaoseum, starting with Feel, a modern, industrialized party perfect for their live performances where the quartet enhances their rage, punch and insanity. Put differently, this is a heavier version of traditional Alternative Metal led by the classic beats by Greg, while things can’t get more alternative nor groovier than in Sex In Hell, a suggestive song name that matches perfectly with the heavy but sexy music played by the band, resulting in a dark ballad where CK steals the spotlight with his devilish vocals. Lastly, there’s more of their groovy bass punches and rhythmic beats intertwined with futuristic background elements and the raspy vocals by CK in Frozen, a song which fans of Korn, Lacuna Coil and other modern metal bands will surely love.

In a nutshell, it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of Alternative and Nu Metal or if you’re taking your first steps in this more modern side of heavy music, you should definitely add Second Life to your daily playlist (and you can do so by streaming the album in full on Spotify). Chaoseum put their hearts and souls into the making of their new opus, and you can sense that passion and hard work in each and every track of the album, proving those Swiss metallers are o the right path to stardom. Hence, don’t forget to show them your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and, above all that, by purchasing their new album from their own BandCamp page or webstore (where you can by the way find tons of ass-kicking merch as well), from Apple Music or from Amazon. Chaoseum’s “first step to hell” was already solid and vibrant, but it’s under this new era, or maybe I should call it their “second life”, that the band is ready to show the world what their music is all about.

Best moments of the album: Hell Has No Way Out, Scream and Stick Under My Skin.

Worst moments of the album: Burn My Eyes.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. XXV-IX-MMXX 0:58
2. Hell Has No Way Out 4:07
3. Second Life 4:18
4. Into My Split 4:18
5. Smile Again 4:27
6. Scream 3:38
7. Stick Under My Skin 4:51
8. Burn My Eyes 3:31
9. Feel 4:39
10. Sex In Hell 5:41
11. Frozen 4:41

Band members
CK Smile – vocals
Loïc Duruz – guitars, bass
Valery Veings – guitars
Greg Turini – drums

Album Review – Agony Atlas / Retrogression Part I: Egomania EP (2020)

Bang you head to the debut EP by this newborn German band, combining elements of Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore and Groove Metal in their thrilling compositions.

Formed in 2019 in Koblenz, a German city on the banks of the Rhine and of the Moselle, a multi-nation tributary, female-fronted Progressive Metalcore unity Agony Atlas is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with their debut EP entitled Retrogression Part I: Egomania, featuring three original tracks combining elements of Arch Enemy, Jinjer and Architects, among other renowned acts. Mixed and mastered by Aljoscha Sieg at Pitchback Studios, with vocals recorded at Airstream Studio Koblenz, and showcasing a modern logo designed by Jan Hilken, Retrogression Part I: Egomania might be really short in duration, with only 11 minutes of music, but that’s more than enough to prove frontwoman Liane Walter, guitarists Christoph “Smi” Fuchs and Andreas Nieratschker, and drummer Markus Möwis are on the right path to stardom, bringing forward all of their talent, hard work and passion for heavy music in their newborn spawn.

Just hit play and futuristic sounds will permeate the air in the Groove Metal feast titled Economy Class, where Christoph and Andreas extract metallic, austere sounds from their guitars nonstop, offering Liane all she needs to thrive with her enraged roars. Then you better get ready for another round of their fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore with modernized sounds in Egomania, where we’re all inspired to bang our heads to the crushing drums by Markus, living up to the legacy of the genre and, of course, with Liane once again sounding infernal with her she-demon screams. And last but not least, closing such short but extremely fun EP it’s time to jump up and down with Liane and the boys in Hymn Of Hatred, with the band’s guitar duo being in total sync with the blast beats by Markus, while the song’s lyrics exhale anger, hatred and obscurity, just the way we like it in extreme music.

Although Retrogression Part I: Egomania might represent only the very first step in the career of Agony Atlas, they already sound like true veterans throughout the entire EP, again pointing to a bright future ahead of them anywhere their music takes them. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to listen to their creations on Spotify, and obviously to purchase the EP (as well as other high-quality merch) from their own webstore, and soon from other retailers such as Apple Music and Amazon. As the name of the album already says, Retrogression Part I: Egomania is just the first part of something bigger Agony Atlas are planning on unleashing upon us sooner than later, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in the career of those German metallers based on the amazing music found in their debut effort.

Best moments of the album: Egomania.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Economy Class 3:25
2. Egomania 4:31
3. Hymn Of Hatred 3:28

Band members
Liane Walter – vocals
Christoph “Smi” Fuchs – guitars, keys
Andreas Nieratschker – guitars
Markus Möwis – drums

Album Review – Null Positiv / Independenz (2020)

A fantastic hybrid of Melodic Death Metal with Alternative Metal and Neue Deutsche Härte brought forth by one of the best new names of the underground German scene.

Forged in the fires of Lübbenau, Germany back in 2015 by the multi-talented frontwoman Elli Berlin, the up-and-coming Alternative/Nu Metal army known as Null Positiv has been on a constant and healthy rise in the underground scene releasing an array of electrifying albums since the band’s inception, starting with their 2016 debut EP Krieger until their brand new opus titled Independenz, or “independence” in English, brought into being earlier this year. Currently comprised of the stunning Elli Berlin on vocals, Bene Gugerbauer on the guitars, Manu Altendorfer on bass and Flo Schnablo on drums, Null Positiv are definitely one of the most interesting bands hailing from Germany from the past few years, not only presenting a fantastic hybrid of Melodic Death Metal with Alternative Metal, but singing all of their songs in their mother tongue German (just like their countrymen Rammstein), giving their music an organic and powerful vibe, with their new album Independenz beautifully representing their amalgamation of styles, their passion for heavy music and, therefore, pointing to an even brighter future for Elli and the boys.

In a truly Neue Deutsche Härte-inspired mode, Null Positiv begin their industrial feast with the excellent Freiheit (“freedom”), where Manu sounds bestial with his metallic bass jabs while Elli roars and screams rabidly from start to finish, followed by Insomnia, bringing forward a thrilling fusion of Alternative and Industrial Metal that reminds me of some of the best creations by Korn, led by the whimsical riffs by Bene and the pounding drums by Flo. Moreover, the music flows smoothly until the very end, setting the tone for the title-track Independenz, where you don’t need to speak a single word in German to understand and feel deep inside your soul what Elli passionately declaims, evolving into a dark ballad showcasing rumbling bass lines, melodious riffs and an empowering atmosphere. And growling like a demonic entity Elli steals the spotlight in the Melodic Death Metal tune Armageddon, infused with modern-day Groove Metal elements while Bene and Manu make a dynamic and incendiary duo with their thunderous strings.

Once again venturing through more alternative and modernized lands, Flo dictates the rhythm with his classy beats supported by the strident guitar lines by Bene in Gib Mir Ein Zeichen (“give me a sign”), while Elli “raps” the song’s lyrics. Then it’s time to be stunned by the gorgeous performance by Elli in the delicate but somber Blutdiamant (“blood diamond”), a stylish semi-ballad where its vicious bass and drums make an amazing paradox with its piano notes and all gentle background elements, whereas Phantomschmerz (“phantom pain”) sounds even more metallic and aggressive than its predecessors, with Elli singing and growling in great fashion while Flo shows no mercy for his drums (and consequently for our necks). After such amazing display of savagery by Null Positiv, grim vocalizations, a sense of hopelessness and endless electricity will penetrate deep inside your soul in Ich Fühl Nichts Mehr (“I don’t feel anything anymore”), one of their most atmospheric tunes while keeping their core Alternative Metal vibe intact.

Let’s keep banging our heads to their groove and melody in the exciting aria titled Fall Out, perfect for jumping up and down with Null Positiv in a fusion of contemporary Melodic Death Metal and alternative music, with Bene kicking ass with his riffs, and the quartet never seems tired of smashing our heads with their heavy-as-hell but very harmonious music as we can all witness in Schwarzes Labyrinth (“black labyrinth”), a very pleasant composition where Manu and Flo bring thunder and groove to our ears with their rumbling weapons. In Deine Haut (“your skin”) we’re treated to a rising metal intro where the guitars by Bene are intertwined with Elli’s striking vocals, resulting in a solid creation by Null Positiv (albeit not as flammable as the rest of the album), followed by Kommen Und Gehen (“come and go”), their last breath of insanity in the form of music with a welcome 80’s and 90’s vibe, bringing forward a great paradox between riffs and drums while Elli continues to hypnotize us all with her piercing clean vocals and evil gnarls.

In a nutshell, if you’re a fan of the Neue Deutsche Härte crafted by Rammstein and at the same time of female-fronted metal bands the likes of Arch Enemy, The Agonist and Infected Rain, you should definitely take a shot at Independenz, which is by the way available for streaming in its entirety on Spotify, as the new installment by Null Positiv might be exactly what you’re craving in heavy and alternative music. Hence, don’t forget to give Elli and the guys a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for all of their breathtaking videos, and of course to purchase Independenz from the band’s own webstore, as well as from Apple Music, from Amazon or from Discogs. Null Positiv not only reached new heights with Independenz, but as the name of the album already suggests, any band in the world can be one hundred percent independent (Triplebase Records is their own label, by the way) and still be successful and deliver first-class music to the masses, proving to all critics that heavy music might not be the exact same thing as decades ago, but it’s still alive and kicking.

Best moments of the album: Freiheit, Armageddon and Phantomschmerz.

Worst moments of the album: Deine Haut.

Released in 2020 Triplebase Records

Track listing
1. Freiheit 4:09
2. Insomnia 4:05
3. Independenz 5:29
4. Armageddon 2:55
5. Gib Mir Ein Zeichen 3:37
6. Blutdiamant 3:27
7. Phantomschmerz 3:55
8. Ich Fühl Nichts Mehr 3:37
9. Fall Out 4:00
10. Schwarzes Labyrinth 4:06
11. Deine Haut 5:02
12. Kommen Und Gehen 3:37

Band members
Elli Berlin – vocals
Bene Gugerbauer – guitars
Manu Altendorfer – bass
Flo Schnablo – drums

Album Review – Eight Lives Down / Humans (2020)

Four distinct musicians from four different countries united in the name of metal, bringing to us all a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable.

Originally founded by Greek-Kiwi vocalist and lyricist Aliki Katriou in 2016 together with British guitarist James Scott (replaced by French guitarist Paul Allain in 2017), bassist Marcin Orczyk from Poland, and Brazilian drummer Rodrigo Moraes Cruz, London, UK-based Extreme Metal act Eight Lives Down has its roots in Groove and Thrash Metal, but constantly branches out stylistically incorporating influences from Progressive, Death and Black Metal, as well as various other musical genres such as Punk Rock, Blues, and traditional folk music, while vocals range from low growls and high screams to clean and even operatic phrases, creating a truly unique sound, unmistakably heavy and angry, yet refreshingly different and unpredictable. Now in 2020 the quartet is ready to invade our senses with their debut full-length opus, entitled Humans, showcasing all their versatility, dynamism, creativity and rage, all enhanced by the album’s top-notch mixing and mastering done by Dan Baune at Noise Foundry Productions, while embraced by a modern, stylish artwork by Dylan Sutton.

The blazing guitar riffs by Paul kick off the sick and groovy Opening Shots, bringing forward a fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more modern and alternative styles, with Aliki growling like a true she-demon for our total delight, followed by Misguided, where the metallic bass jabs by Marcin will hit you in the face while Aliki blasts her wicked mix of clean vocals and harsh gnarls, leaning towards contemporary Thrash and Groove Metal while Rodrigo dictates the pace with his classy beats. Then the mesmerizing vocalizations by Aliki accompanied by tribalistic sounds and tones ignite the heavy and experimental Angela, with Paul, Marcin and Rodrigo bringing sheer progressiveness to the music with their refined techniques, whereas From The Cradle is a lot more introspective, grim and atmospheric than its predecessors, starting in a semi-acoustic manner while Aliki declaims the song’s dark lyrics, sounding at the same time like a 90’s Groove and Funk Metal tune and a modern-day thrashing tune, something a wicked band like Faith No More would definitely do.

More of their rumbling sounds permeate the air in the also heavy and furious Sacrifice, a lecture in Groove Metal by Eight Lives Down where Aliki’s roars get deeper and more enraged while Rodrigo sounds pulverizing on drums, supported by Marcin’s menacing bass; and in Organize Your Mind the quartet offers us all a hybrid of the rebelliousness of Alternative Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, with Paul being on absolute fire with his demented riffage, while also presenting interesting atmospheric passages and endless heaviness. After that it’s time to break our necks headbanging together with Aliki and the boys in Colder, adding hints of Heavy Rock to their already crushing sonority while Paul and Marcin have a fun duel with their strident riffs and solos and low-tuned bass punches, respectively. Lastly, you better get ready for nine minutes of introspection, groove and heaviness in the form of Why, starting in a serene way with Aliki declaiming the song’s cryptic words, evolving into a thunderous metal feast led by Rodrigo’s visceral beats, not to mention the incendiary solos by Paul as the icing on the cake.

This precious gem of Extreme and Experimental Metal can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to show your support to Aliki and her loyal henchmen you should definitely buy a copy of Humans from their own BandCamp page, from their webstore or from Amazon, as well as follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about such up-and-coming metal band, and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their idiosyncratic creations. It will certainly be more than just interesting to see what the future holds for Eight Lives Down with their upcoming releases, if they’ll keep experimenting like crazy or if they’ll set a defined shape and style for their music. Until then, while we wait for the creative mind of Aliki to provide us more insanity in the form of music, we can keep banging our heads nonstop to Humans, by far one of the best alternative albums of the year.

Best moments of the album: Opening Shots and Sacrifice.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Cult Of Parthenope

Track listing
1. Opening Shots 3:50
2. Misguided 4:01
3. Angela 3:56
4. From The Cradle 7:40
5. Sacrifice 3:52
6. Organize Your Mind 4:21
7. Colder 4:20
8. Why 9:02

Band members
Aliki Katriou – vocals
Paul Allain – guitar
Marcin Orczyk – bass
Rodrigo Moraes Cruz – drums

Album Review – Intercepting Pattern / The Encounter (2020)

A free-flowing 30-minute long composition ebbing and flowing between heavy syncopated grooves, Jazz fusion flourishes, ethereal synth-layered passages and cybernetic Death Metal.

Formed in 2016 in the city of Berlin, Germany, a distinguished Progressive Metal unity known as Intercepting Pattern is comprised of vocalist Daniel Sander, guitarist and keyboardist Marte Auer, bassist Clemens Engert and drummer Lille Gruber, all seasoned musicians known for their time in projects such as Defeated Sanity, Infecting the Swarm and Cerebric Turmoil. Produced, mixed & mastered by Tom ‘Fountainhead’ Geldschläger at FountainheadHQ and featuring a stunning artwork by Niklas Sundin (Mitochondrial Sun, Dark Tranquillity), Intercepting Pattern’s debut effort, entitled The Encounter, was created and designed as one free-flowing 30-minute long genre-bending composition, ebbing and flowing between heavy syncopated grooves, Jazz fusion flourishes, ethereal synth-layered passages and cybernetic Death Metal with seamless ease, appealing to fans of groups such as Meshuggah, Cynic and Panzerballett, among others. For release purposes, The Encounter is split into 10 “song” sections, although it is strongly suggested to listen to it in one session as it was intended when being created.

Clearly inspired by classic TV shows and movies that dealt with alien forms of life, the opening track Extragalactic Radio presents Lille and Clemens bringing endless groove and intricacy to the music with their beats and bass punches while Marte adds a touch of finesse to the overall result with his riffs and solos, flowing into the Progressive Death Metal feast titled Signal-to-Noise, where Daniel fires anguished, raspy roars accompanied by the always blazing guitars by Marte, resulting in an excellent option for breaking your neck headbanging. And their mysterious, otherworldly story goes on in Interlude I, an atmospheric and futuristic creation by Intercepting Pattern that will certainly send shivers down your spine before Eigenlicht offers us all Jazz and Blues united with the band’s hybrid of Progressive and Groove Metal, or in other words, a complex and extremely enjoyable tune where Marte and Lille are in absolute sync with their incendiary riffs and beats, whereas Hypnagogia is another wicked instrumental creation by the quartet with Clemens’ bass jabs making your head tremble in awe, all spiced up by background voices and ethereal keys, and running smoothly until its whimsical conclusion.

Interlude II is a cinematic bridge created to keep the listener hypnotized and eager for what’s next, as Daniel returns in full force with his rabid growls in Rebiogenesis, with the band’s razor-edged guitars and rumbling bass together with the sick drums by Lille generating a multi-layered wall of sounds for our total delectation. Then featuring guest Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End, Eynomia, NorthTale, NYN, The Fractured Dimension) on keyboards we have Fuga Finalis, an explosion of Progressive Groove Metal infused with Jazz and other idiosyncratic sounds and tones. Not only that, can you feel the anger bursting from Daniel’s roars? It’s sick and amazing at the same time, of course. And the music makes an instant bridge with the also demented and progressive Asmodeus, sounding as bold and weird as possible while led by the jamming beats by Lille, being therefore highly recommended for musicians who love the fusion of metal and Jazz, before the outro Epilogue ends the album in a cryptic and again atmospheric manner, with its instrumental pieces exhaling melancholy and heaviness until all is said and done.

“Having played in various metal bands before, we were kind of drawn to modern jazz and fusion records at the time and wanted to challenge ourselves with a more complex and improvisational approach to music. Of course, being the metal kids that we are, we couldn’t totally hide from our roots, but overall we tried to emphasize extended harmonic concepts and recurring rhythmic motives common to a Jazz/Fusion context”, commented the band about their newborn spawn, and after listening to the album in its entirety it’s easy to understand exactly what they wanted to accomplish in The Encounter. Needless to say, they more than succeeded in their quest, and if you want to give Intercepting Pattern a try you can grab your copy of The Encounter from the Rising Nemesis Records’ BandCamp page, and soon also from the Rising Nemesis Records’ Big Cartel and from IndieMerchstore. You can also get to know more about the band by following them on Facebook, showing your appreciation for their wicked hybrid of Heavy Metal and Jazz, and inspiring them to keep exploring the outer space and alien life with their refined music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Signal-to-Noise, Rebiogenesis and Fuga Finalis.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Rising Nemesis Records

Track listing
1. Extragalactic Radio 3:26
2. Signal-to-Noise 1:56
3. Interlude I 1:38
4. Eigenlicht 3:07
5. Hypnagogia 3:56
6. Interlude II 1:46
7. Rebiogenesis 4:48
8. Fuga Finalis 2:34
9. Asmodeus 4:35
10. Epilogue 2:15

Band members
Daniel Sander – vocals
Marte Auer – guitars, synths
Clemens Engert – bass
Lille Gruber – drums

Guest musician
Jimmy Pitts – guest keyboards solo on “Fuga Finalis”

Album Review – Manticora / To Live to Kill to Live (2020)

Let the Progressive Power and Thrash Metal by this Denmark-based unity mesmerize you during the 63 minutes of music found in the second part of their horror novel-inspired concept album.

Hvidovre, Denmark’s own Progressive Power/Thrash Metal unity Manticora is back in action in 2020 with their ninth full-length opus, entitled To Live to Kill to Live, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed To Kill to Live to Kill, released in 2018. This is the second part of a grandiose concept based on their 334-page horror novel (which by the way can be purchased HERE), mixed by Jacob Hansen (Primal Fear, U.D.O., Destruction) and featuring guest musicians form bands like Allegiance Reign, Defacing God and Withering Surface, all embraced by a comic book-inspired artwork by Danish artist David Troest. To Live to Kill to Live offers the listener 63 minutes of undisputed metal music, showcasing not only all the dexterity by frontman Lars F. Larsen, gutarists Kristian Larsen and Stefan Johansson, bassist Kasper Gram and drummer Lawrence Dinamarca, but also their creativity and precision in uniting Heavy Metal with a thrilling storytelling. “It all started out as a crazy and almost impossible idea… A book and two albums… I mean… come on? Today I’m so proud of the final result and I still can’t understand that we actually did it,” commented Kristian about the band’s newborn spawn, inviting us all to join them in this breathtaking adventure in the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

A cinematic intro ignites the 14-minute aria entitled Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud, quickly exploding into modern and electrifying Heavy Metal where Lawrence is absolutely bestial on drums, sounding like a hybrid between the music by Trivium and Stratovarius, and with Kristian and Stefan delivering sheer stamina from their riffs and solos. Furthermore, the storyline progresses flawlessly together with the massive wall of sounds and all breaks and variations blasted by Manticora, building an instant connection with the Japanese-inspired bridge To Nanjing, bringing peace to our minds and soothing our souls before those Danish metallers explode our senses with the imposing The Farmer’s Tale, Pt. 3 – Eaten by the Beasts, where Kasper and Lawrence bring tons of groove and intricacy to the music while Lars keeps declaiming the song’s dark words in great fashion, not to mention the guitar duo’s wicked solos. Then it’s time for a Groove and Heavy Metal feast entitled Slaughter in the Desert Room, where both guitars and Kasper’s bass jabs generate a rumbling atmosphere perfect for Lars to fire more of his trademark vocals. In other words, this amazing song couldn’t have sounded bolder nor more epic than what it already is.

Following such insane composition, phantasmagorical keys give an extra touch of evil and darkness to Through the Eyes of the Killer – Filing Teeth, a true Metal Opera where Kristian and Stefan take the lead with their sinister guitars while Lawrence blasts sluggish, Doom Metal-inspired beats; followed by Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life, leaning towards classic Scandinavian Melodic Death and Power Metal and at the same time sounding as thunderous as it can be, with Lars giving a lesson in passion and feeling while his bandmates don’t stop crushing their instruments not even for a single second for our total delectation. And Tasered/Ice Cage is another explosion of modern-day Melodic Death Metal with both Kristian and Stefan kicking some serious ass with their strident, piercing guitar lines, always in absolute sync with Lawrence’s intricate beats.

Then serene, acoustic guitars intertwined with crisp riffs in a Dream Theater-ish style ignite the pleasant Goodbye Tina, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline and with tons of harmony flowing from Lars’ vocal lines, before Manticora come ripping once again with Tasered/Removal, a heavy and rumbling tune where Kasper does a superb job with his metallic bass, being perfect for cracking your neck headbanging to their solid fusion of Groove and Power Metal; whereas the atmospheric instrumental bridge Stalin Strikes will expand your senses and gently flow into a Japanese-spoken narrative titled Ten Thousand Cold Nights, advancing the storyline into the closing tune Katana – Beheaded, sounding and feeling imposing and vibrant form the very first second, therefore putting a climatic end to the album with all band members being on fire, in special the band’s unstoppable guitar duo and the talented Lawrence, while Lars continues to give life to the story through his soaring vocals.

If you haven’t got in touch with the music by Manticora yet, go check what those Danish metallers are up to on Facebook and on Instagram, listen to more of their music (including the first part of the story released in 2018) on Spotify, and grab a copy of To Live to Kill to Live from their own BandCamp page, from the Sound Pollution webstore, from the ViciSolum Productions’ BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In summary, we must all admit Manticore have definitely outdone themselves in their new album, sounding tighter and even more melodic and incendiary than in their previous album, and concluding their epic Japanese saga on a high and utterly metallic note. After setting the bar so high with To Live to Kill to Live, what’s next for Manticora? Well, that’s something only time will tell, but until then we have a lot of high-end metal music to enjoy thanks to one of the best bands hailing from the Danish scene.

Best moments of the album: Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud, Slaughter in the Desert Room and Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life.

Worst moments of the album: Goodbye Tina.

Released in 2020 ViciSolum Productions

Track listing
1. Katana – The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud 14:40
2. To Nanjing 1:57
3. The Farmer’s Tale, Pt. 3 – Eaten by the Beasts 4:23
4. Slaughter in the Desert Room 6:11
5. Through the Eyes of the Killer – Filing Teeth 4:59
6. Katana – Death of the Meaning of Life 5:25
7. Tasered/Ice Cage 5:45
8. Goodbye Tina 5:54
9. Tasered/Removal 3:16
10. Stalin Strikes 2:36
11. Ten Thousand Cold Nights 0:51
12. Katana – Beheaded 7:26

Band members
Lars F. Larsen – vocals
Kristian Larsen – guitars
Stefan Johansson – guitars
Kasper Gram – bass
Lawrence Dinamarca – drums

Album Review – Vesicarum / Reign Of Terror EP (2020)

Follow the story of a serial killer from his beginnings through stages of murder and torture in the form of crushing and visceral Death Metal made in the UK.

Formed in 2016 as a solo project by vocalist Glynn Neve and growing in early 2018 to include guitarists Martin Shipton and James Thompson, bassist Orla Blue Reed and drummer Donal McGee, Vesicarum are a visceral five-piece Death Metal band from Kent, UK bursting at the seams with brutal energy, featuring frantic, technical riffing topped off with Glynn’s signature vocal style, unleashing upon us now in 2020 their debut EP Reign Of Terror. By the way, the name “vesicarum”, meaning “to fester” in Latin, is an ode to the sinister nature of the band’s music and lyrical content. Featuring darker subjects including serial killers and The Ankou (The Graveyard Watcher), the central lyrical theme is hatred, while the band describes their music as an adrenaline rush that is a great escape from the stresses and strains of life. “The EP tells a story of a serial killer from his beginnings through stages of murder and torture,” states Glynn, complementing by saying that “The first four songs on the EP are about the killer and his development – however the last track [Undivine End] switches to the victim’s point of view – it was written to give the listener the impression of a victim tied up in the killer’s torture chamber awaiting his demise.”

Bringing to our ears a fusion of Groove and Death Metal, the sick bass punches by Orla match perfectly with the deep roars by Glynn in the opening track Reign Of Terror and its horror flick-inspired lyrics (“Using my nails to tear at the skin / My ghastly life is about to begin / I’m in a frenzy my head starts to spin / My patience in these scum is wearing real thin / Committing murder is a pleasurable sin / Always giving me a sinister grin / Acts of horror, such a beautiful thing / Pure fucking evil, pure fucking grim”), whereas The Sick And The Depraved sounds even groovier and more imposing from the very first second, with Glynn growling manically accompanied by the slashing riffs by James and Martin, also presenting elements from the Death Metal by renowned acts such as Obituary and Unleashed. Then it’s time for Donal to crush his drum set in Midnight Slasher, a true headbanger where the guitars by James and Martin are spitting fire while Orla generates a rumbling atmosphere in the background, feeling modern and at the same time loyal to classic Death Metal. Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer brings forward more insanity and fear in the form of extreme music, showcasing another bestial kitchen work by Donal and Orla while Glynn continues to distill his venomous, guttural vocals. In other words, simply crack your neck headbanging to this sick tune until the disturbing outro Undivine End captivates your senses, offering us all eerie instrumental passages that sound as if the whole song was taken form an actual horror movie.

The psychological terror blasted by Vesicarum through their undisputed Death Metal in Reign Of Terror can be better appreciated in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course you can show your deep passion for extreme music by purchasing the EP from Vesicarum’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, and also by following the band on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, filling your ears with all the wrath, violence and heaviness flowing from the band’s crushing music and, therefore, leaving us all curious to witness the next chapter in the career of this up-and-coming UK-based squad in their reign of violence, insanity and metal.

Best moments of the album: The Sick And The Depraved and Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 One Eyed Toad Records

Track listing
1. Reign Of Terror 6:23
2. The Sick And The Depraved 3:30
3. Midnight Slasher 4:33
4. Early Warning Signs Of A Serial Killer 3:20
5. Undivine End 2:14

Band members
Glynn Neve – vocals
James Thompson – guitars
Martin Shipton – guitars
Orla Blue Reed – bass
Donal McGee – drums

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Epic Records/Nuclear Blast

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

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

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