Album Review – SynlakrosS / Malice Murder (2018)

Get ready to be transported to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion in the brand new ass-kicking album by one of the most prominent names of the underground metal scene.

Formed in 2008 in the stunning city of Valencia, Spain by bassist Pablo “Roro” Fuentes and drummer Tiko Martínez, the unstoppable female-fronted Melodic Death Metal outfit that goes by the stylish name of SynlakrosS has just taken another amazing step in their (r)evolutionary career with the release of their third full-length installment, the creative, incendiary and utterly fun Malice Murder, cementing their name as one of the best bands in the Melodic Death Metal, Nu Metal and Metalcore scene all over the world, therefore being highly recommended for fans of bands such as In Flames, Slipknot, Butcher Babies, Arch Enemy and Lamb Of God, among several others. Injecting a considerable dosage of energy into our hearts and minds with their music and thematic lyrics, SynlakrosS will transport you to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion in Malice Murder, always moving forward but at the same time always loyal to their foundations and, of course, to their already huge fanbase.

In my humble opinion, what really stands out in Malice Murder, apart from its top-of-the-line production and endless electricity, are the insanely metallic and piercing sounds extracted by Pablo from his infernal bass, and especially all the experimentations and different vocalizations blasted by the band’s stunning frontwoman Patricia Pons. She sounds vile, demented, passionate and defiant with her wicked growls, roars and screams, taking her vocals to a whole new (and previously unexplored) level that will certainly please all fans of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Add to that mix the crushing riffs and solos by the band’s axemen Iván Muñoz and Aarón Hidalgo, not to mention the sensational album artwork designed by Patricia herself, and there you have not only the perfect follow-up to their 2016 opus Death Bullets for a Forajido, but also a gargantuan avalanche of breathtaking metal sounds that will blow your senses mercilessly.

The opening track, titled Angel on Fire, sounds modern, electrified and vibrant right from the very first second, with its futuristic sounds and Patricia’s hypnotizing whispers kicking off a Melodic Death Metal party led by Pablo’s infuriated bass punches. Then in the fast-paced, heavy-as-hell extravaganza named Fatal Frame the band puts the pedal to the metal showcasing furious riffs and tones by the band’s stringed triumvirate, with Patricia growling and gnarling like a she-wolf while Tiko smashes his drums beautifully; followed by Dark Seed, not only the first single of the album but also the epitome of modern-day Metalcore, exhaling sheer madness and rage and with Patricia stealing the spotlight once again with her rabid growls and demented vociferations, as well as Aarón and Iván with their heavy and aggressive shredding. Put differently, this is the type of song that’s absolutely perfect for setting the crowd on fire during their live concerts. And let me remind you that the party is just starting, as in Alone in the Dark, spearheaded by Pablo and his thunderous, hammering bass, melodic guitar lines are flawlessly intertwined with moments of sheer lunacy, living up to the legacy of renowned Nu Metal acts like the iconic Korn.

Eternal Darkness showcases a classic song name for an explosive fusion of Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal and Groove Metal, breaking your neck in half to the precise beats by Tiko (which means it might become a fan-favorite if they add it to their setlists, of course), while Killing Diablos gets closer to their sonority from Death Bullets for a Forajido, but with a 2018 twist if I might say that. In addition, its background effects and tones nicely add an extra touch of madness to the music, while Patricia alternates between her rabid roars and demented clean vocals. Resurrection is another solid and well-crafted metal chant by SynlakrosS where the razor-edged guitars by Aarón and Iván shine brighter than the sun, also presenting a futuristic vibe and atmosphere and, as a consequence, being tailored for jumping up and down with the band; whereas in Morrígan it’s time for total devastation with this steampunk Spanish army, as the “Morrígan” is a figure from Irish mythology that represents a “great queen” or “phantom queen”, being mainly associated with war and fate, especially with foretelling doom, death or victory in battle. Does that remind you of someone? Anyway, I simply love how Patricia screams the song’s name from the bottom of her heart, making it impossible to stand still to this groovy and rumbling tune.

The last batch of songs from Malice Murder begins with Bloody Waltz, a dark an eerie “waltz” of contemporary Alternative Metal presenting elements from the wicked music by Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, such as its uncanny background keys, sounding and feeling very theatrical, which means it’s perfect for Patricia to showcase all her skills as the amazing singer and performer she is. Then the number of the beast, the famous 666, names another furious and ominous hymn by the quintet where Pablo slams his bass strings manically, extracting beyond lancinating sounds from it and, therefore, supporting Patricia’s screams flawlessly; whereas in Under the Ice there’s absolutely no sign of the band slowing down or getting any softer. Quite the contrary, it’s time for total anarchy with highlights to the perfect sync between Pablo’s bass and the guitar duo’s crisp riffage, sounding even more modernized than all previous songs. In the short and sweet semi-acoustic bridge Undying, we’re treated to some sort of futuristic western-like sonority, before SynlakrosS come crushing one last time in Siren’s Bloody Curse, the perfect conclusion to such powerful album, feeling more melancholic and obscure than all previous songs, transpiring melody and displaying an amazing performance by Pablo on bass and Iván with his fiery guitar solo. Needless to say, Patricia once again slays our senses with her potent growls and gripping clean vocals throughout the entire song.

In case you’re not a “curly wolf” yet, you should definitely start following SynlakrosS on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase your copy of Malice Murder (available for a full listen on Spotify) from their own webstore in regular CD format or as a CD + T-shirt bundle (with the T-shirt also being designed by the unstoppable Patricia), as well as from iTunes, Amazon, or CD Baby. And if you’re already a diehard fan of SynlakrosS, you know the band is going places with their hard work, talent and extreme dedication, with the incendiary Malice Murder beautifully representing what their music is all about and pointing to an even brighter future for what’s in my humble opinion the best metal act hailing from Spain from the past decade and one of the best new names of the current metal scene worldwide.

Best moments of the album: Fatal Frame, Dark Seed, Morrígan and 666.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Angel on Fire 4:24
2. Fatal Frame 3:26
3. Dark Seed 4:03
4. Alone in the Dark 3:46
5. Eternal Darkness 4:33
6. Killing Diablos 3:50
7. Resurrection 3:54
8. Morrígan 3:38
9. Bloody Waltz 3:56
10. 666 3:18
11. Under the Ice 4:05
12. Undying 2:24
13. Siren’s Bloody Curse 4:26

Band members
Patricia Pons – vocals
Iván Muñoz – guitar
Aarón Hidalgo – guitar
Pablo Fuentes – bass
Tiko Martínez – drums

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Album Review – Zarraza / Necroshiva (2018)

These Kazakh corpse gods of Thrash Metal take no prisoners in their quest for extreme music, infecting us all and spilling our blood into the circle pit to the sound of their new pulverizing album.

Formed in 2010 in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis set in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, Kazakhstan Thrash Metal maniacs Zarraza have just released their long-awaited debut album Necroshiva, following up to the band’s 2013 EP Cutting Meat. Fast & Loud. And one of the hardest working metal bands in Central Asia, having already played in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, takes no prisoners in their quest for extreme music, with each of the eight groovy and pulverizing songs in Necroshiva crushing your minds mercilessly like a runaway train of evil.

Comprised of Nick Khalabuzar on vocals and guitar, Alex Filatoff on bass and Ruslan Konon on drums, Zarraza’s only concern in Necroshiva is how their lyrics would be translated into Kazakh or Russian. “Anti-religious songs full of sarcasm and quotes from Giordano Bruno and Pierre-Simon de Laplace are not welcomed in a country where there is a significant Muslim population,” said the band, but that seems to be only a minor issue for them in the end. Displaying a beyond devilish and somber cover artwork by Russian artist V. Smerdulak (Katalepsy, Melancholy, Semargl, Arkona), Necroshiva is everything we love in Thrash and Groove Metal, being highly recommended for all mandatory thrashing activities such as slamming into the pit, headbanging like a beast and raising your horns to the band’s infuriated music.

Abyss Above Me kicks off the album with an explosion of brutal and austere Thrash Metal, a fantastic welcome card by this Kazakh squad led by the demented drumming by Ruslan and the raspy, choleric vocals by Nick, bringing elements from Groove, Death and Black Metal, and their furious onrush of extreme music goes on in the also belligerent Shadows, with Nick sounding bestial with both his growls and riffs, while Alex adds tons of groove to the musicality with his rumbling bass. Then we have the title-track Necroshiva, an insanely demolishing display of Thrash Metal with a strong progressive vein, where Ruslan is even more impressive with his intricate beats and fills and its modern-day lyrics go along extremely well with the music (“War’s for gods… Slaughter of lambs / It’s hecatomb we made for thousand years / Immortal rites of human sacrifice / Transformed into modern way of life”); followed by another complex and infuriated tune titled More Than Hate, an almost-Death Metal creation by the quartet led by Nick’s spot-on riffs and solos, with the level of adrenaline being exactly what you need to crush your skull into the circle pit.

Dark waves permeate the air in the melancholic and apocalyptic bridge Echo Of The Future, setting the stage for the modernized thrashing feast named Dead Star, displaying hints of Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy and the early days of In Flames. Furthermore, Nick managed to sound even more boisterous on vocals, as well as the metallic bass lines by Alex which will punch you in the head mercilessly. After such beautiful exhibit of extreme music, get ready for a Progressive Thrash Metal voyage in Voice Of The Forgotten, with the music flowing in some sort of demonic Dream Theater-ish mode, but of course with Nick bringing rage to the sound with his roars, all spiced up by some electrifying guitar solos. And ending the album on a high and violent note we have 150 Words, with its lyrics reeking of malignancy (“Serpent – you crawled inside my world / To steal – affections of my soul / To brew your bile words of hate / And sting me in back to weaken / Your only way to live is betrayal / Soaking dirt to digest”). Musically speaking, it’s a frantic, violent Thrash and Death Metal attack by Zarraza, leaving us eager for more of their devastating music.

I’m not sure if you have already realized you’re in front of a metal band from the distant land of Kazakhstan playing top-notch Thrash and Groove Metal that only the finest bands from the United States, the land of thrash, are capable of reproducing, which means you should definitely show your total support to Zarraza by buying Necroshiva (available for a full listen on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page, CD Baby, iTunes or Amazon, and by following them on Facebook, VKontakte and YouTube. The corpse gods from Kazakhstan are among us to stay, and you better be prepared to spill your blood into the pit in the name of Thrash Metal.

Best moments of the album: Abyss Above Me, Necroshiva and Dead Star.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Abyss Above Me 5:00
2. Shadows 3:48
3. Necroshiva 3:13
4. More Than Hate 3:28
5. Echo Of The Future (instrumental) 1:29
6. Dead Star 5:38
7. Voice Of The Forgotten 4:39
8. 150 Words 3:27

Band members
Nick Khalabuzar – vocals, guitar
Alex Filatoff – bass
Ruslan Konon – drums

Guest musician
Evgen Hablack – bass on “Necroshiva”

Album Review – The Black Swamp / Witches EP (2018)

Australia’s own five-headed creature from the swamp is back with a short and slimy album of Sludge and Southern Metal that celebrates the riff-driven sound they’ve become known for.

For the love of the riff, Australian Southern/Groove Metal group The Black Swamp was formed as a live act in 2012 in the Gold Coast, in South East Queensland, soon evolving to a full-bodied band and releasing their debut EP Foulness in 2014, followed by the full-length I Am, in 2016, not to mention a handful of unofficial releases on their way to support slots with Hellyeah, Black Label Society and Sebastian Bach, as well as their own national tours. Always playing a sludge sound reminiscent of the 70’s and 90’s, “the swamp” is back in 2018 with a short and slimy EP titled Witches, a celebration of the riff-driven sound they’ve become known for, also marking their first release with new frontman Luke Hosking (from Australian Groove/Thrash Metal band Azreal). Hence, the quintet comprised of Luke on vocals, Grant Scott and Jesse Kenny on the guitars, Rohan Downs on bass and Brendan Woodley on drums again focuses their energy and creativity on raw sounds, highly inspired by Heavy Metal pioneers Black Sabbath and Doom/Sludge Metal masters Crowbar.

And “the swamp” needs only a few seconds to blow our ears with their ruthless and heavy-as-hell Stoner Metal in the opening track Headless, with Luke delivering sheer rage through his Phil Anselmo-inspired deep, crude vocals, while Grant and Jesse are simply bestial with their crushing riffs. If that’s not heavy enough for you, just keep banging your head nonstop to another soulful and aggressive Sludge Metal creation by The Black Swamp, named Event Horizon, where the bass lines by Rohan feel like if he was rubbing metal to metal so piercing and thunderous they sound. Put differently, this is a drinking-smoking-slamming-headbanging tune, bringing a classic rhtythm tailored for lovers of the genre. Then we have 1487 C.E., a short and serene bridge that sets the stage for to the demolishing title-track Witches, showcasing the heaviest and most whimsical elements found in Sludge, Stoner and Doom Metal, with Brendan pounding his drums mercilessly while Luke continues his musical rant à la Pantera, not to mention the always crisp and furious riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

In a nutshell, it’s quite impressive the amount of heaviness and rage found in each one of the four tracks of the EP in a littles less than 17 minutes, proving The Black Swamp are not joking around when displaying their admiration and passion for Sludge and Doom Metal. If you want to show your support for this resonant quintet, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and buy your copy of Witches (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) directly from The Black Swamp’s BandCamp page, as well as from iTunes or from CD Baby. After this brief “attack” by Australia’s own five-headed creature from the swamp, I’m sure you’ll get curious to know what comes next in their career, getting more and more addicted to their sluggish, vile and totally awesome music.

Best moments of the album: Headless and Witches.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Headless 4:32
2. Event Horizon 6:46
3. 1487 C.E. 1:00
4. Witches 4:13

Band members
Luke Hosking – vocals
Grant Scott – guitar
Jesse Kenny – guitar
Rohan Downs – bass
Brendan Woodley – drums

Album Review – Dogmathica / Start Becoming Nothing (2018)

Delivering a clear message that only with the annulment of ego we can be reborn as a species, here comes a ruthless Italian squad and their austere fusion of Groove Metal and Metalcore.

Aiming to resume a path interrupted in 2003, Italian Groove Metal/Metalcore act Dogmathica was born in 2006 in Cagliari, the capital city of the island of Sardinia, from the ashes of another Italian band named L’Ego to deliver what’s called by the band itself as “Groovy, Claustrophobic, Polyrhythmic Metal from Cagliari”. The band has faced some significant changes through the years, until in 2017 they finally reached a stable lineup comprised of vocalist Stefano Pilloni, guitarist and founder Sergio Boi, guitarist Matteo Spiga, bassist Gianni Farci (The Blacktones), and drummer Alessandro Castellano (Acts of Tragedy), culminating with the release in 2018 of their brand new album Start Becoming Nothing.

Featuring a somber artwork by Sergio Boi himself and Elena Delogu, where the leafless tree represents the human condition within modern society, a society that slowly absorbs and consumes our vital energies making us dependent on material possession of objects and people, and with the annulment of ego (“start becoming nothing”) being the only way that leads to rebirth as a species, Start Becoming Nothing is a heavy and bold album of modern-day Metalcore highly recommended for admirers of the genre, inspiring you to slam into the circle pit while at the same time making you think about the awful condition our society is currently going through.

The guitars by Sergio and Matteo generate a heavy and rumbling ambience in the opening track Praghma, before Stefano begins declaiming the song’s austere words (“My fists-the only shots I have / Glass splinter plated knuckles / To blast mirrors and their lies / To fuck fake people / And their doll eyes / From today on I’ll trust / Just my scars”) in a solid display of contemporary Metalcore perfect for cracking your neck headbanging. If that heavy-as-hell start wasn’t enough for your ears, in Chanel N°0 we face bassist Gianni and session drummer Elia Altea (who by the way recorded the drums in the whole album) crushing their instruments mercilessly, making the ground tremble while the band’s stringed trio blasts a potent fusion of classic Melodic Death Metal with American Metalcore, not to mention how beastly Stefano keeps growling and yelling, and consequently inspiring you to headbang like a maniac as well. And led by the groovy and thunderous bass punches by Gianni, Decadancers presents a darker and heavier side of Dogmathica, incorporating the most aggressive and primeval elements of Groove Metal into their Metalcore, with the final result sounding beyond awesome.

Those talented Italian metallers keep hitting us hard in the head with their heavy and groovy sounds in the title-track Start Becoming Nothing, with the guitar duo Sergio and Matteo once again delivering sharp and metallic riffs while Stefano bursts his lungs screaming; and get ready to break your spinal cord in half in another brutally heavy Metalcore tune named Rise Up, also showcasing hints of Groove and Progressive Metal, therefore being recommended for fans of bands like Meshuggah and Gojira, with highlights to the pounding drumming by Elia. After such destructive hymn we have Screaming In The Darkness, a well-balanced blend of the heavier and slower sounds of Groove Metal with the more frantic approach of Metalcore, with all band members bringing tons of progressiveness to the music and with its lyrics being perfect for shouting along with Stefano (“I’m awake, sitting in the middle of nowhere / Feeling your hands around my neck / I feel the cold inside me / I hold the iron of my cage / I perceive all my suffering / And I screaming in empty space / Screaming in the darkness”).

The last pair of unrelenting Metalcore tunes blasted by Dogmathica close the album on a high note, leaving you eager for more of their music. First we have Hatred, another good sample of how aggressive and intricate their music always sounds and feels, being full of breaks and variations, where Gianni and Elia continue to build a massive wall of rumbling sounds with their bass and drums, respectively, followed by Burnum, sounding more modern, belligerent and electrified than all previous tunes. Furthermore, it’s Elia with his complex, progressive beats and Stefano with his sick screams who dictate the rhythm, while Serigo and Matteo don’t get tired of slashing their strings.

In summary, if you love modern Metalcore with a strong Groove Metal essence, then Start Becoming Nothing (which you can listen in full on Spotify) is perfect for your avid ears, presenting all the heaviest and most rumbling elements from those metal styles. And if you want to show your support to Dogmathica, simply like them on Facebook, listen to more of their music on SoundCloud, and purchase Start Becoming Nothing directly from their BandCamp page or from CD Baby. Our society might be heading to its inevitable doomsday sooner than we can imagine, so why not at least banging our heads to the acid music by Dogmathica until the end?

Best moments of the album: Chanel N°0, Decadancers and Screaming In The Darkness.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Praghma 5:04
2. Chanel N°0 4:22
3. Decadancers 4:23
4. Start Becoming Nothing 4:53
5. Rise Up 4:25
6. Screaming In The Darkness 4:07
7. Hatred 3:50
8. Burnum 5:12

Band members
Stefano Pilloni – vocals
Sergio Boi – guitar
Matteo Spiga – guitar
Gianni Farci – bass
Alessandro Castellano – drums*

*Drums recorded by Elia Altea

Concert Review – Slayer (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/29/2018)

And Slayer said goodbye to Toronto in the most pulverizing (and best) way you can imagine.

OPENING ACTS: Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God

I don’t know what to say about the absolute devastation that happened at the always perfect (and I dare you to name one place in this planet that’s better than that for a live concert) Budweiser Stage yesterday in Toronto. When it was announced that there was going to be a Slayer Farewell Tour, I guess they forgot to say it was going to be a farewell to their diehard fans, brave people who lost their lives while crushing their heads and spines into the nonstop, infernal mosh pits that took over the entire venue (and I believe I saw some smaller ones even in the seated areas) during the more than SIX HOURS of brutal Thrash and Death Metal blasted by some of the best bands in the history of heavy music. As a matter of fact, whoever had the initial idea of putting together on the same day/night the great Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax, Lamb Of God and Slayer deserves a huge prize and our utmost respect forever. It was totally and amazingly insane from start to finish, on a beyond beautiful and sunny day in the city. My neck hurts and I’m as tired as hell, so I’ll try to be brief in writing a little about what was supposed to be the last fulminating performance by the almighty Slayer in Toronto (and I really, really hope it was not the last time we saw those guys here).

It was past 4pm when the gates finally opened and the fans could enter the venue for some beer, for getting a little shade away from the scorching sun, and for a few curious ones to enjoy the official pre-show party with Canadian Black Metal horde Panzerfaust at the River Bar at 4:30pm. As I was dying for a beer and pumped up already for TESTAMENT at 5pm, I unfortunately couldn’t attend that mini-gig, but I guess the band won’t be mad at us for doing that, right? Anyway, at 5 o’clock high there they were Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Alex Skolnick, Steve Di Giorgio and the demonic stone crusher Gene Hoglan for a short and demolishing lecture in Thrash Metal, still promoting their latest installment, the flawless Brotherhood Of The Snake, from 2016. It was insanity in the form of seven faster-than-a-bullet songs (who doesn’t love the thrashing classic Into the Pit?), with the bestial drums by Gene sounding like he was hired by TTC to help with the excavations for a new subway station, making our chests and even hats tremble with his beats. Yes, as awesome as that.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
Practice What You Preach
The Pale King
Into the Pit
The New Order
Disciples of the Watch

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

After a short bathroom break, it was time for Poland’s most iconic metal band of all time to darken the stage with their blasphemous and sulfuric music. Polish Blackened Death Metal institution BEHEMOTH lived up to the expectations even playing a shorter setlist than usual (and at daylight, something they might not be used to), mixing classics with kick-ass songs from their latest album, their 2014 opus The Satanist, plus a brand new song named Wolves ov Siberia. Mr. Adam “Nergal” Darski was on fire throughout the entire performance, proving why he’s one of the most respected metal artists of the past decade, leaving the fans eager for more of their obscure music in a not-so-distant future. One funny thing is that Behemoth were the only band to not throw to the fans any guitar picks or drumsticks, but instead they were spitting blood on the people at the front row. If that doesn’t tell you how dark their music is, I don’t know what would.

Setlist
Ov Fire and the Void
Demigod
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Another bathroom break, another beer, and at 6:55pm sharp (don’t you feel amazed with how punctual all events are in Toronto?) it was time for the old school, slamming, riff-oriented Thrash Metal by the one and only ANTHRAX, who (guess what?) delivered a sequence of seven ass-kicking, frantic songs, including Evil Twin, from their 2016 album For All Kings, and beautiful classics such as I Am the Law, Madhouse and Indians. Scott Ian and Frank Bello were in their usual “I’m playing on stage but I’m also moshing up here together with you guys in the pit” mode, while Joey Belladonna was beyond happy with the warm reaction of the fans to each one of their songs. The low point of the show was that unfortunately Charlie Benante couldn’t play with the band as a result of an ongoing battle with carpal tunnel in his wrists, but the good thing is that he was replaced by the monstrous Gene Hoglan. Do I need to say more? In addition, Mr. Belladonna said that the concert yesterday was Anthrax’s biggest crowd ever in Toronto, and I’m sure everyone who was there banging their heads to their music was more than happy to have been part of such important day to the band.

Setlist
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
I Am the Law
Madhouse
Evil Twin
Antisocial (Trust cover)
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Gene Hoglan – drums*

*Replaced Charlie Benante due to illness.

After all the havoc generated by Testament, Behemoth and Anthrax, there was still more to come with Groove Metal titans LAMB OF GOD, still promoting their 2015 album VII: Sturm und Drang, and let me tell you the show was so heavy and insane I think some people went missing after the demented circle pits ignited by Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen. Playing a solid mix of songs from all of their albums, with all of them of course being as brutal as hell, Lamb Of God put a huge smile on the faces of their diehard fans, with Randy also praising all the bands of the “mini-festival”, requesting everyone to pay a humble tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair with a few WOOOOO’s, and jumping up and down like a maniac on stage nonstop. Well, everything a Redneck loves in life, right? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but was Randy wearing some sort of ankle monitor still due to the manslaughter case he was involved and arrested for a few years ago? If that’s the case, well, that’s what I call a badass frontman, ladies and gentlemen.

Setlist
Omerta
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
512
Engage the Fear Machine
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Laid to Rest
Redneck

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

SLAYER

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” It’s with these classic words that I want to introduce you to the end of all days in the form of the Satanic Thrash Metal blasted by the heaviest, the most awesome and the most destructive band in the world, the all-powerful SLAYER. Actually, I should say FUCKIN’ SLAYER, or even SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR, as this is the right way to refer to the unrelenting Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and the second stone crusher of the night, the barbaric Paul Bostaph (another guy that probably got some money from TTC to speed up the subway excavations yesterday). Playing at least one song from each one of their crushing albums, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy to their 2015 opus Repentless (with the exception of their 1998 controversial album Diabolus in Musica), Slayer put on a flammable performance (and I’m not using the word flammable in vain, as there was A LOT of fire during the whole concert), turning the entire floor section into one supreme, hot-as-hell, motherfuckin’ savage circle pit.

And that mix of classic Slayer with their more contemporary albums workd extremely well, creating a hellish balance of sounds for the total delectation of all admirers of their undisputed Thrash Metal. It was fantastic watching them performing faster, newer tunes like Repentless, Disciple, Hate Worldwide and Jihad, while at the same time delivering their classic infernal melodies in Mandatory Suicide, Postmortem and Black Magic. For instance, in my humble opinion the sequence comprised of Payback (one of the most pulverizing songs of the night), Seasons in the Abyss, Dittohead and Dead Skin Mask simply proves how timeless their music is, and how important they’ll always be to the world of heavy music. Then from Hell Awaits until the grand finale with the all-time classic Angel of Death it was an absolute chaos, with the circle pit getting bigger and bigger, people screaming at the top of their lungs and crowd surfing nonstop like if there was no tomorrow, and sweat and beer flowing everywhere. And I’m not going to say how cataclysmic the metal hymn Raining Blood was. If you were not there, you don’t deserve to know.

One thing I’ll never understand is how Mr. Paul Bostaph managed to play drums at that insane speed and intensity with all those blistering hot fires burning almost all the time all around his drum set. I think that proves he’s not human, as none of the guys from Slayer are. As a matter of fact, Slayer are a four-headed, rabid beast that would make even the “hound of Hades” Cerberus put his tail between his legs and run away, and if this was in fact their farewell tour, well, they’ll be beyond missed by all of us, diehard Slayer fans who consider Dead Skin Mask one of the best “ballads” ever composed by any band. Let’s wait and see if we’ll be treated to at least one more Slayer apocalypse in Toronto in the coming years as a second, third or whatever leg of their farewell tour, I don’t care, as long as they return. Now it’s time to take some rest from all madness from yesterday, do the body count (and maybe there are even some bodies floating in Lake Ontario near the venue), take a deep breath and keep doing what we all know how to at home, at school, at work or anywhere else where some good and reverberating screaming in required. And you know what word you need to burst your lungs screaming, right?

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Blood Red
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Jihad
When the Stillness Comes
Postmortem
Black Magic
Payback
Seasons in the Abyss
Dittohead
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Chemical Warfare
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Album Review – Kaos Reign / Epiphany (2018)

This American Groove Metal power trio returns with a brand new album showcasing more of their crushing guitars, gritty vocals and thrash and groove drumming.

Norwalk, Connecticut-based Groove Metal power trio Kaos Reign is here to assault your senses with their unique mix of Death, Doom, Groove And Thrash Metal, drawing influences from early Sepultura, Slayer, Death and Pantera. Formed in 2013 by lead singer and guitarist Bill Klopfer and drummer Chris Anderson, the band has been on a roll since their inception, having already released the full-length albums Embrace the Fire, in 2014, Screaming for Salvation, in 2016, and now in 2018 their brand new opus Epiphany, an album that continues to follow Kaos Reign’s path of crushing guitars, gritty vocals, and thrash and groove drumming, but at the same time showing an evolution in their music.

More refined and dynamic than its predecessors, and featuring a straightforward, dark artwork by the band’s own Bill Klopfer, Epiphany brings a band that’s in absolute sync, with Bill’s vocals sounding versatile while his riffs are memorable and captivating. Bassist Matt Duggan rounds out the sound with the execution of his distinctive bass lines, whereas Chris Anderson’s extreme drumming portrays confidence and style. With its lyrics touching on themes of inner struggle, determination to overcome, and societal issues, encouraging us to proceed with caution and understand the chaos that consumes us, Epiphany will certainly please fans of fast and extreme music who are also searching for gripping background stories that effectively spice up the music being played.

Wicked, dark sounds ignite a belligerent Groove Metal onslaught by Kaos Reign titled Selfish Backstabber, displaying a solid instrumental, endless electricity, and Bill screaming the song’s acid lyrics like there’s no tomorrow (“I watch your actions and learn / You preach your belief, you don’t believe / You taste so sour I yack / The aftertaste, post nasal burning”). Following such sharp start we have a hybrid of Thrash Metal and Hardcore named Dispatch the Threat, where Chris keeps smashing his drums, therefore inspiring us to slam into the pit, with the song’s cleaner vocals sounding like a metal version of Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha; and Lethal Injection, bringing more rumbling and groovy sounds blasted by Bill and Matt while Chris continues to add intricacy to the band’s violent music. Put differently, this is an excellent choice for their live concerts and a fantastic addition to the playlist of anyone who loves modern Groove Metal. And the title-track Epiphany presents darker elements in its intro, suddenly morphing into another crushing metal attack and also displaying hints of Southern Metal, with all instruments together generating a hurricane of heavy sounds and tones.

The album loses its grip a little with the not-so-inspired tune The Criminal Inside, despite all aggressiveness showcased by the band and the always rhythmic beats by Chris, but fortunately in Parasite the band gets back on track with their flammable Groove Metal, with highlights to the thrilling guitar lines by Bill and to more of their austere and aggressive words (“Leeching off society / A parasite sucks the blood / Right from / the eye of the storm / The side effects / are visible”). Under the Knife is the most visceral and destructive of all songs, and therefore one of the top moments of the album, with all three band members extracting crushing sounds form their instruments, presenting a great sync between Bill’s riffs and Chris’ drums, not to mention the metallic bass lines by Matt, whereas in Everyone is Offended they slow down their dementia, but still sounding heavier than hell. In a nutshell, this is a mid-tempo, groovy creation by Kaos Reign where Bill keeps sending a not-so-happy message through his demented vocals.

And their slamming party goes on with another melodic and fierce song titled How Do You Sleep at Night?, where Chris doesn’t stop pounding his drums and Bill even brings forth some thrashier riffs the likes of Slayer and Testament. Punish Myself is perfect for headbanging like a maniac, blending the thunderous sounds of Groove Metal with the slashing insanity of Thrash Metal, with Bill smashing his strings mercilessly without forgetting to add harmony to the music; followed by Placebo, a lot less groovy and venturing through Southern Metal grounds, singing about the dangerous market of addictive legal drugs (“I am on a big dose / I feel so comforted and relaxed / Why live life sober? / When you can be prescribed happiness”). However, despite being a relatively good song, it definitely lacks the band’s characteristic speed. And Isolation Chamber, the most somber and wicked of all tracks, closes the album on a high (and obscure) note, even presenting elements from Doom Metal (especially on Chris’ beats and Bill’s vocals).

If you want to show your support to this talented and unrelenting American power trio, you can purchase Epiphany (which by the way is available for a full listen on Spotify) from the band’s own BandCamp page, from CD Baby or from Amazon, but as you already know the world of Kaos Reign is not limited to Epiphany only, which means you can get an overdose of their belligerent music by visiting them on Facebook, on YouTube, on ReverbNation and on SoundCloud. And I believe you might be asking yourself what will be the next step in the evolving path crafted by Kaos Reign, right? Well, let’s hope it doesn’t take too long for us all to have an answer to that and get more of their sharp metal music sooner than expected.

Best moments of the album: Selfish Backstabber, Lethal Injection, Parasite and Under the Knife.

Worst moments of the album: The Criminal Inside and Placebo.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Selfish Backstabber 5:12
2. Dispatch the Threat 4:11
3. Lethal Injection 4:45
4. Epiphany 4:09
5. The Criminal Inside 4:21
6. Parasite 4:54
7. Under the Knife 3:53
8. Everyone is Offended 4:39
9. How Do You Sleep at Night? 4:35
10. Punish Myself 5:26
11. Placebo 4:32
12. Isolation Chamber 4:53

Band members
Bill Klopfer – vocals, guitar
Matt Duggan – bass
Chris Anderson – drums

Album Review – Sebastien / Act Of Creation (2018)

One of the biggest exponents of modern-day Czech metal returns with the next chapter in their always-evolving and exciting career.

One of the biggest exponents of modern-day Czech metal is back with a brand new album that will certainly please and entertain all fans of the most electrified form of Melodic Power Metal you can think of. After the releases of their debut album Tears Of White Roses, in 2010, and the critically acclaimed Dark Chambers Of Déjà-Vu, in 2015, it’s time for Brno-based metallers Sebastien to unleash their third full-length installment, titled Act Of Creation, continuing their evolution as a band and, as a consequence, cementing their name as the finest metal act you can find in the entire land of beer.

With its cover artwork designed by Hans Trasid (Dis-Art Design), and featuring an entourage of very special guests the likes of Swedish vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind) and Slovak vocalist Mayo Petranin (Signum Regis), Act Of Creation will bring to your avid ears fourteen exceptional compositions by skillful musicians who are at their prime, from passionate power ballads to those fast and crisp Melodic Metal anthems that will accelerate your heartbeat in an exciting and fun way. Furthermore, it’s very important to emphasize the fact that Sebastien maintained the same lineup from their previous album, which obviously translated into pure cohesiveness, precise timing and a powerful dynamism among all band members.

The title-track Act of Creation kicks off Sebastien’s metallic feast with a heavier-than-usual sonority, bringing elements from modern-day Groove Metal to their traditional Power Metal. Moreover, frontman George Rain has (as expected) an amazing performance showcasing a wide range of vocal styles in the same song, while Pavel Dvorak brings epicness to the overall sound with his keys. Then we have No Destination, a fast-paced, aggressive tune that will please even non-metal fans due to its thrilling rhythm, presenting the always flammable vocals by George supported by Czech guest vocalist Kristýna Dostálová and endless energy flowing from all instruments; and Wake Up, an imposing tune where Lucas R. leads the crew with his pounding drums, with all orchestral and choir-like elements in the background enhancing the song’s already potent vibe. But it obviously wouldn’t be a Sebastien album without a classic power ballad like Amy, displaying spot-on riffs by George and his bandmate Andy Mons while bassist Petri Kallio not only delivers some powerful bass punches, but his 80’s Hard Rock-inspired backing vocals also add a lot of feeling to the final result.

Venturing through the realms of Symphonic and Melodic Metal, the band delivers a futuristic metal chant titled Evermore, presenting a pleasant paradox between clean and harsh vocals, not to mention how determined Pavel is to arouse our senses with his fiery keyboards. My Empire reminds me of some of the latest creations by Sonata Arctica (which unfortunately is not a good thing these days), with an interesting work done with all background elements but nothing that truly connects in the end, whereas Queen from the Stars is a melancholic, serene ballad with passionate performances by George on vocals and Andy with his acoustic and electric guitars. Put differently, simply hold your lighter high and wave it together with Sebastien to this beautiful song. And featuring guest vocalist Mayo Petranin, Winner is a song where the sound of keyboards is considerably higher than the one of the guitars, therefore uniting in a pleasant way the classic sounding of the 80’s with Sebastien’s contemporary metal.

With Czech guest guitarist Djordje Erič (Citron) slashing us all with a gripping, flammable guitar solo, Heal My Soul goes back to a more traditional musicality, albeit still presenting hints of heavy music from the 80’s, and consequently pleasing both fans of the classic metal by Sebastien as well as the ones who prefer more modern Melodic Metal. In Promises, Kristýna Dostálová returns with her charming vocals in another symphonic ballad by Sebastien, with Andi and Pavel being in total sync with their respective riffs and keys, therefore boosting the electricity of the whole song; and featuring guest Apollo Papathanasio on vocals, it’s time for our Czech squad to put the pedal to the metal in the electrifying hymn Die in Me, where the whole band fires pure Melodic Power Metal for our total delight. Displaying a beyond catchy chorus and endless adrenaline, this metal hymn should sound absolutely fantastic during their live performances.

And Act Of Creation might be considered a long album with its over 60 minutes of music, but every song has its purpose just like Full Moon Child, portraying a classic name for a straightforward and very cohesive Power Metal sonority boosted by the precise beats by Lucas, with highlights to the spot-on riffs and solos extracted by Andy from his unstoppable guitar. The second to last metallic act by those Czech rockers comes in the form of a semi-acoustic ballad entitled Hero, with another powerful performance by George on vocals, before the bonus track V Síti Štěstí (or “in the network of happiness” from Czech) closes the album in sublime fashion. It’s not a secret to anyone that Sebastien never get tired of delivering soulful ballads to our ears; however, this is a fresh one, being fully sung in Czech, which seems to have provided George some additional room for adding never-before-seen nuances to his vocal lines.

It’s always a pleasure to see a talented and hardworking band like Sebastien evolving in their already solid career, and if you want to know more about the best metal band hailing from the enchanting Czech Republic you should definitely go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for news, tour dates (and they do tour several other countries if you ) and, of course, more of their awesome Power Metal. Act Of Creation, which can be purchased from the Pride & Joy Music webstore, from the band’s own Facebook, from iTunes or from Amazon, is one of those albums that will put a smile on your face no matter how hard your day has been, proving once again Sebastien are here to stay and to keep bringing top-tier heavy music to our never-resting metal hearts.

Best moments of the album: No Destination, Evermore, Promises and Die in Me.

Worst moments of the album: My Empire.

Released in 2018 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Act of Creation 4:27
2. No Destination (feat. Kristýna Dostálová) 3:02
3. Wake Up 4:11
4. Amy 5:38
5. Evermore 4:32
6. My Empire 3:48
7. Queen from the Stars 4:34
8. Winner (feat. Mayo Petranin) 4:01
9. Heal My Soul (feat. Djordje Erič) 3:47
10. Promises (feat. Kristýna Dostálová) 3:29
11. Die in Me (feat. Apollo Papathanasio) 4:54
12. Full Moon Child 4:52
13. Hero 5:25

Bonus track
14.V Síti Štěstí 4:34

Band members
George Rain – vocals, guitars
Andy Mons – guitars
Petri Kallio – bass, backing vocals
Pavel Dvorak – keyboards
Lucas R. – drums

Guest musicians
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals on “Die In Me”
Mayo Petranin – vocals on “Winner”
Kristýna Dostálová – female vocals on “No Destination” and “Promises”
Djordje Erič – lead guitar on “Heal My Soul”
Vendula Skalová – backing vocals

Album Review – Lebowskii / Liquidators EP (2018)

Presenting a fast, groovy and electrified fusion of 80’s and 90’s Thrash Metal with traditional Heavy and Death Metal sounding, please welcome a promising new act from the French underground scene.

It’s time for The Headbanging Moose to take a short and extremely fun and heavy trip to Nantes, a city on the Loire River in the Upper Brittany region of western France, to slam into the pit to the flammable Thrash Metal blasted by a brand new group in the French independent scene that goes by the name of Lebowskii. If you’re a diehard fan of bands such as Slayer, Death, Megadeth, Cannibal Corpse, Metallica and Tool, you’ll have a great time listening to the music by this four-piece act comprised of Damien on vocals and guitar, Jonathan on vocals and bass, Boris on the guitar and Laurent on drums. Together those four French horsemen are releasing their debut EP, titled Liquidators, presenting a high-octane, groovy and electrified fusion of 80’s and 90’s Thrash Metal with traditional Heavy and Death Metal sounding.

In the opening track, titled Why Are We Falling Down?, we already get to know who Lebowskii are, as we face four metallers crushing our heads with their fiery mix of Thrash and Groove Metal. Moreover, Laurent shows all his fury through his fierce beats in this great composition highly recommended for banging your head and cracking your spine, while Damien leads the battle with his enraged screams. Then we have Haunting A Shell Of Flesh, slightly slower but heavier than its predecessor due to the smashing drums by Laurent, also presenting hints of the Thrash Metal by Slayer and Testament, with Boris bringing a welcome balance to the song’s neck-breaking core rhythm with his precise guitar lines. And leaning towards modern Thrash Metal (without losing its old school vibe) the band offers us all the title-track Liquidators, bringing forward a great riffage by Boris while Damien effectively screams and shouts the song’s violent lyrics,supported by Jonathan and his backing vocals, who also delivers groovy, solid bass lines during the entire song.

Their feast of contemporary metal blended with traditional riffs and beats from Bay Area Thrash goes on in Your Brain Is Just Insane, another song tailored for headbanging nonstop with the band where Damien and Jonathan once again make a great duo on vocals, pumping up the listener to scream and shout together with them. Lastly, closing the EP the band blasts more aggression in the form of music in Narrow Minded, a song where you’ll be able to enjoy Lebowskii in their most Groove Metal mode, with the sound of bass and drums being truly thunderous. In addition, when you reach this point of the EP you’ll realize that although all five songs are longer than your usual Thrash Metal tune (mainly due to the progressiveness added by all band members with their refined techniques), that doesn’t mean they get tiresome or boring. Quite the contrary, Lebowskii are a band that knows how to captivate our attention for an extended period of time, no matter how long their compositions might be.

If you are a fan of straightforward heavy music with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, then you should definitely give Lebowskii a try by liking their Facebook page, and obviously by buying your copy of the ass-kicking EP Liquidators through their BandCamp page or through the M.U.S.I.C. Records webstore. This is the type of music that once it gets into your day-to-day playlists, it will stay there forever, and you’ll find yourself banging your head to the flammable riffs and hardcore attitude by Lebowskii over and over again. As a matter of fact, remember we’re talking about a five-track EP only, which makes me wonder how insane a full-length album by such promising band shall sound like (and I hope Lebowskii deliver that sooner than later, for our total delight).

Best moments of the album: Why Are We Falling Down? and Liquidators.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 M.U.S.I.C. Records

Track listing
1. Why Are We Falling Down? 5:50
2. Haunting A Shell Of Flesh 5:58
3. Liquidators 5:12
4. Your Brain Is Just Insane 5:47
5. Narrow Minded 6:26

Band members
Damien – guitar, vocals
Jonathan – bass, vocals
Boris – guitar
Laurent – drums

Album Review – Xenosis / Devour and Birth (2018)

Behold the next step in the remarkable musical evolution by one of the biggest new names of the Progressive Death Metal scene.

Hailing from New Haven, a coastal city on Long Island Sound, in Connecticut, American Progressive Death Metal legion Xenosis set out from their formation in 2010 with a precise goal in mind: To create Death Metal that blurs the lines, that draws from the past and present equally, and to continually evolve as a band from release to release. To date, they’ve lived up to that aim, and have continued to up the ante with each new musical effort put forth. After the releases of their self-titled debut EP in 2010, followed by the full-length albums Haunted Skies, in 2012, and Sowing the Seeds of Destruction, in 2015, it’s time for Xenosis to strike again with their third full-length opus, titled Devour and Birth.

On Devour and Birth, Xenosis offer the listener their characteristic Progressive Death Metal that blends old school-inspired Death Metal with a fair bit of more modern Technical Death Metal ideas, rounding out there sound with a lot of groove and some thrashy Melodic Death Metal influences as well. Given the eclectic style of Progressive Death Metal that Xenosis play, their list of influences, which includes names such as Death, Meshuggah, Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Testament, Gojira and Emperor, among others, serves as a guide of sorts that the music on Devour and Birth does not fit neatly inside one mold or style of Death Metal, and after taking a detailed listen at the entire album you’ll certainly get addicted to their intricate fusion of extreme sounds.

In the opening track, named Night Hag, a brutal wall of heavy and groovy sounds comes crushing our senses mercilessly, led by the demonic drumming by Gary Marotta and the gruesome roars by frontman Sal Bova, resulting in an extremely technical but at the same time crude sonority highly recommended for fans of the genre. Then in Army of Darkness we face total devastation with a demented level of complexity flowing from all instruments, with guitarists Kenny Bullard and Mark Lyon firing some Dream Theater-ish riffs and solos while Sal keeps growling deeper and deeper; and their onrush of Death and Groove Metal continues in full force in Delirium (Death of a God), where the bestial and utterly complex beats by Gary are flawlessly complemented by the wicked bass lines by Dave Legenhausen in a prefect representation of modern-day Progressive and Technical Death Metal.

I guess I don’t need to say Concave also sounds insanely aggressive and harmonious at the same time, with Dave and Gary making a dynamic duo from the underworld, therefore generating a fierce and vile background for Kenny and Mark to go mental with their riffs and solos. Then we have Oxidation, a mechanized bridge that reminds me of some of the weirdest tracks by Industrial Metal titans Fear Factory, revving up the engines for the heavy-as-hell Ominous Opus, full of breaks and variations to give its Death Metal core essence a demented twist, uniting the words “progressive” and “aggressive” in a fantastic manner. Put differently, simply go break your neck headbanging to the brutish riffs delivered by the band’s guitarists while Sal keeps growling like a beast.

The amazing title-track Devour and Birth takes their ferocity to a whole new level, sounding exciting form start to finish with the whole band displaying all their skills, in special Gary, Kenny and Mark, blasting sheer havoc through their sick beats and very technical shredding respectively. And the last track of the album, titled The Projector, is another hurricane of Death Metal masterfully executed by Xenosis, a circle pit-catalyst that sounds and feels very complete and detailed, being absolutely perfect for slamming into the pit during the band’s live performances.

Featuring a futuristic and menacing artwork by Brazilian graphic designer Caio Caldas (CadiesArt), Devour and Birth, which can be purchased through the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as on iTunes or on Amazon, not only cements Xenosis as one of the most interesting exponents of the current independent Progressive Death Metal scene, but it is also an album of extreme music that’s utterly recommended for all metalheads who are searching for a monumental amount of intricacy and progressiveness amidst all the chaos and destruction usually delivered in Death Metal. You can find more details about Xenosis and their elaborate music at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and keep witnessing (and of course supporting) for years to come the remarkable musical evolution this talented five-piece act has been enjoying since their beginnings.

Best moments of the album: Night Hag, Concave and Devour and Birth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing   
1. Night Hag 6:45
2. Army of Darkness 5:14
3. Delirium (Death of a God) 5:51
4. Concave 5:15
5. Oxidation 0:54
6. Ominous Opus 5:59
7. Devour and Birth 4:28
8. The Projector 5:56

Band members
Sal Bova – vocals
Kenny Bullard – guitar
Mark Lyon – guitar
Dave Legenhausen – bass
Gary Marotta – drums