Album Review – Mindead / Mindead (2019)

Playing a gritty kind of Melodic Groove Metal, this German squad is ready to put Stuttgart on the world map of modern metal music with their brand new album.

Hailing from the beautiful city of Stuttgart, capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state, Thrash/Groove Metal five-piece act Mindead plays a gritty kind of modern metal music with lots of passion and a unique flavor, having quickly established themselves in the local scene surrounding Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart since their inception in 2001. After the release of their debut EP Still Empty in 2004, followed by their first full-length album Abandon All Hope in 2008 (re-released in 2016, by the way) and more recently their sophomore opus Controlling The Tides in 2015, it’s time for Mindead to strike once again with their third installment, self-titled Mindead, a solid statement showing the band has become aware of their own self and that they are proud of what they currently stand for.

And the band comprised of frontman Timo Fielker, guitarists Pablo Mateo and Chris Lohrmann, bassist Benedikt Wagner and drummer Benjamin Hölle had a strong and clear idea of what they wanted to do in their new album, translating that into nine solid and vibrant compositions where the quintet never repeats themselves. “Let’s do something different, deeper, more intense, heavier. We’ll still sound like us, no matter what others may say,” commented Mindead about what the listener can expect to find in the album, an amalgamation of heavy and melodic styles highly recommended for fans of bands like Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage, Tool, Machine Head and Deftones, just to name a few.

An atmospheric intro is gradually “invaded” by the classic beats by Benjamin and the crushing riffs by Pablo and Chris in The Edge, evolving into a modern-day Melodic Groove Metal feast and sounding neck-breaking and very harmonious from start to finish; whereas Killing The Flame is as groovy as it can be thanks to the rumbling bass by Benedikt, while frontman Timo alternates between deranged screams and darker, more serene vocals, also bringing elements from more contemporary styles like Metalcore and Deathcore. The band’s electrifying party goes on in One Last Time, presenting a similar sound as the current American metal scene and feeling a lot more introspective and melodic than its predecessors. Moreover, pay attention to the amazing job done by Benedikt with his metallic bass lines, adding more stamina to the overall result.

And the dark clouds from the previous song keep blocking any sunlight in At The Borderline while the band blasts minimalist sounds and a female voice sends an obscure message, before Timo begins roaring with a lot of anguish and rage. In the even more modern and melodic Every Second, Timo sounds absolutely enraged on vocals while the rest of the band keeps the ambience grim and pensive with their razor-edged riffs and rhythmic beats, generating a catchy musicality full of interesting breaks and variations. Then drinking from the same ravenous fountain as Lamb Of God the quintet fires the excellent The Narcissist King, an ass-kicking Groove Metal tune with Timo stealing the spotlight with his growls while Pablo and Chris continue to slash our ears with their riffage.

All That’s Left is a touching and gripping ballad by Mindead where Benjamin adds some punch to the acoustic guitars with his precise beats, while Timo delivers his most passionate vocal performance of the whole album, and distorted lines permeate the air in To Fight A Demon, igniting the most Slipknot-inspired song of the album and presenting classic and heavy-as-hell riffs by the band’s dynamic guitar duo, which provide Timo all he needs to thrive with his Black Metal-ish vocals. Lastly, closing the alum we have the obscure and groovy Tired, where Pablo, Chris and Benedikt sound at the same time aggressive and gentle with their stringed weapons. In my humble opinion, the only issues with this song is that it goes on for a little too long, albeit still dense and entertaining. Moreover, in most versions of the album you’ll also be treated to an acoustic version of All That’s Left, a beautiful rendition of what’s already a damn good song, enhancing the reach and all  other details of Timo’s vocals considerably.

In summary, the talented Mindead are more than ready to put their hometown Stuttgart and the entire Germany on the map of modern metal music with their new album, breaking free from the confines of local stardom by effectively blending classic and modern-day elements in their inspiring creations and pointing to a bright future ahead of them. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to listen to more of their music on Spotify and, of course, to purchase their self-titled opus from your favorite location by clicking HERE. In case modern and very melodic Groove Metal is your cup of tea, simply give Mindead a chance and you won’t regret at all; quite the contrary, I bet you’ll end up at a concert venue in Stuttgart having a beer and raising your horns to such up-and-coming Teutonic squad.

Best moments of the album: The Edge, The Narcissist King and All That’s Left.

Worst moments of the album: Tired.

Released in 2019 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. The Edge 4:30
2. Killing The Flame 3:48
3. One Last Time 5:25
4. At The Borderline 4:37
5. Every Second 3:53
6. The Narcissist King 3:44
7. All That’s Left 3:13
8. To Fight A Demon 5:26
9. Tired 6:07
10. All That’s Left (Acoustic) (Hidden track) 3:06

Band members
Timo Fielker – vocals
Pablo Mateo – guitar
Chris Lohrmann – guitar
Benedikt Wagner – bass
Benjamin Hölle – drums

Album Review – Corrosive Sweden / Blood and Panic (2019)

An electrifying fusion of an old school feeling twisted and coated perfectly with a modern sound, hailing from the beautiful (and corrosive) Sweden.

Described as a hybrid between old school Thrash Metal and Melodic Death Metal, Swedish five-piece unity Corrosive Sweden has recently released a brand new opus entitled Blood and Panic, dealing with personal issues and changes faced by all band members. “The album has really been worked through and is a pure reflection of our personal lives. It is probably the best material we have done so far,” said the band in an interview, with the music found in Blood and Panic, recorded over a few years by the members themselves in their own studio Dark City Sounds, being a well-balanced mix of an old school feeling twisted and coated perfectly with a modern sound, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Metallica, In Flames and Soilwork, among others.

Formed in the distant year of 1997 in Hudiksvall, Sweden, the band comprised of Johan Bengtsson on vocals, Christer Ulander on the guitar and keyboards, Peter Forss also on the guitar, Magnus Nordin on bass and Daniel Hedin on drums has already released a number of recordings and played at several clubs and festival in Sweden through the years, bringing their Heavy Metal infused with a wide range of elements from classic Hard Rock to Punk Rock and Power Metal to the ears of metalheads from all over the world. Now with Blood and Panic the band continues to pave their metallic path, sounding unique but at the same time offering recognizable fragments from their musical influences in each of the nine songs from the album.

The riffs by Christer and Peter will pierce your skin until Daniel comes crushing with his beats in Fire from a Gun, a fusion of modern-day Heavy Metal with Groove Metal showcasing an amazing balance between clean vocals and harsh roars, followed by the title-track Blood and Panic, just as electrifying as the opening track. Both guitars are on absolute fire, providing Johan all he needs to vociferate manically in a hard-hitting, straightforward display of Melodic Death Metal by the quintet, also delivering some sick guitar solos to our avid ears. And it seems like they want to slash our faces in half with their vicious riffs in Speed, even more modern and melodic, and with its backing vocals providing a powerful support to Johan while Daniel pounds his drums just the way we like it in heavy music.

Venturing through more aggressive and darker lands, Christer and Peter kick some ass with their Iron Maiden-inspired riffs and solos in Angry Me, whereas Angel or a Beast sounds like a bastard hybrid of Pantera, Rob Zombie and Godsmack, which obviously translates into awesomeness. Once again the band’s dynamic guitar duo shreds their axes nonstop, extracting sheer rage and groove from their stringed weapons while Johan delivers one of his best vocal lines of the entire album; and bringing forward elements from more alternative styles of heavy music, Terrified as I Die showcases Magnus’ thunderous bass and Daniel’s hammering beats adding a lot of stamina to the overall result (despite not being as exciting as the rest of the album).

Dirtier-than-usual vocals and riffs are the main ingredients in Parasite, a great option for hitting the road or slamming into the mosh pit, as long as you don’t stop banging your head to their neck-breaking riffs and beats, of course. At the Top is another high-octane extravaganza by Corrosive Sweden, bringing forward a solid instrumental led by Daniel’s classic drums while Johan keeps screaming and shouting with a lot of energy and precision, before more rage and despair flow from Johan’s vocal lines in the closing tune Black Paint, with the music remaining absolutely heavy and groovy from start to finish, putting a vibrant ending to Blood and Panic.

After the album is over, just keep raising your horns for Corrosive Sweden as those guys deserve it for their hard work and deep passion for heavy music, and of course don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel. As mentioned in the beginning of the review, Blood and Panic, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify and on sale from several locations like Apple Music and Amazon, is a solid and thrilling amalgamation of styles and subgenres of heavy music, beautifully celebrating the band’s devotion to all things metal and showing the world once again why (corrosive) Sweden has always been one of the most important and prolific countries in the history of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Fire from a Gun, Angry Me and Angel or a Beast.

Worst moments of the album: Terrified as I Die.

Released in 2019 BMP Records Sweden

Track listing
1. Fire from a Gun 3:31
2. Blood and Panic 3:13
3. Speed 3:39
4. Angry Me 5:24
5. Angel or a Beast 3:40
6. Terrified as I Die 5:04
7. Parasite 4:21
8. At the Top 3:57
9. Black Paint 3:37

Band members
Johan Bengtsson – vocals
Christer Ulander – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Peter Forss – guitar, backing vocals
Magnus Nordin – bass
Daniel Hedin – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Māra Lisenko

Label me insane… My madness is not my enemy!

Get ready to be absolutely stunned by the sick growling, screaming and roaring blasted by our metal lady of the month of September, a true metalhead who loves all types of extreme music from the bottom of her Latvian heart, with her music being highly recommended for diehard fans of renowned acts like Aborted, Cryptopsy, Cattle Decapitation, Decapitated, Bloodbath and Hideous Divinity, among several others, who are always in pursuit of new names in the scene and who also love a feminine touch amidst such level of devastation. Hailing from Riga, Latvia’s capital, set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava, but currently residing in the metal heaven known as the Federal Republic of Germany, here comes the ferocious she-wolf Māra Lisenko, the indomitable growler for some of the best bands of the past few years coming from the Baltics, those being Ocularis Infernum and MĀRA.

Having studied vocals at Vocaltech – Thames Valley University (currently known as University of West London) in 2007 in the UK, as well as with some of the most prestigious vocal coaches worldwide such as rock and metal vocal coach Melissa Cross, rockstar vocal coach Mark Baxter, and “Death Metal Phoniatrician” Dr. Enrico H Di Lorenzo (Hideous Divinity), Māra is an extremely versatile vocalist, being able to sing from the most brutal and gory growls to fragile, emotional clean vocals. In addition, although she started to sing in bands and tour around Europe in 2003, her singing career started way earlier than that, when she was still a three-year old girl, mainly because her own mother was a choir leader and inspired her to follow a similar path. A self-starter and an autodidact, our dauntless growler is also a vocal coach, having taught several aggressive as well as melodic vocal techniques and training since 2011, and also offering studio session work for bands who need professional sounding vocals for their recordings (and you can get more details about her services by clicking HERE or HERE). In one of her interviews, she said all the energy in her singing and screaming is driven by her real-life experiences and emotions, never about fictional topics, which in her opinion makes it a lot easier for her to transform those feelings into ass-kicking vocals.

During hear early years as a professional vocalist, she was part of two distinct Latvian bands named Defame (which I couldn’t find any information online) and Karmafree, with whom she won a couple of awards, those being Best Vocalist in a band contest named “Rīgas Dzintars” with Karmafree in 2011, and a Grand Prix with Defame at Sinepes Un Medus in 2005. Karmafree, which is still active by the way, is an alternative bass and vocal duo comprised of Māra on vocals and her husband Dmitry Lisenko on bass formed in 2010 in London, England, playing many festivals and releasing a self-titled demo and video entitled Fresh Millionaire before the duo returned to their homeland Latvia. In 2012 they released their first EP, named Illusions, along with a music video for the song Fragile; after their debut album, Karmafree released a series of singles, with songs like InvisibleValidate Me and #SSDD beautifully representing the evolution of the project, their social and political fights, and of course Māra’s fantastic vocal range. You can listen to a lot more of the music by Karmafree on their official YouTube channel, as well as on their BandCamp page.

It was back in 2015 when Māra was able to present herself to a much broader audience after joining a Riga-based Melodic/Symphonic Death/Black Metal band named Ocularis Infernum, who have been on the road since 2002 but who had released only one demo and one EP before she became their frontwoman. Under the stage name of Māra Sekhmet, she released in 2017 together with the band’s founders Andris and Magnuss the excellent Expired Utopia (which you can purchase from their own BandCamp page or listen in full on Spotify), exploring themes like darkness, occultism and paganism, always embraced by a symphonic and Stygian aura inspired by renowned acts such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth. I personally loved listening to every single second of Expired Utopia, and if you’re also a fan of this fusion of extreme and symphonic music you can have a taste of the band’s darkness and of Māra’s refined gnarls and powerful clean vocals by listening to the songs A Confession Of Defeat and Lost Forest. There’s nothing on the band’s official Facebook page about an upcoming album, concerts nor anything like that since the end of 2018, but let’s hope they’re just taking a break and that the world can enjoy more of the music by Ocularis Infernum in a not-so-distant future.

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Right now, Māra’s main project is her own solo band named MĀRA, a Latvian/German four-piece outfit established in 2018 that plays a modern and sharp amalgamation of Death, Thrash, Alternative and Groove Metal. Currently based in two countries – Germany and Latvia – MĀRA have already played tours and summer festivals all across Europe since their inception, visiting countries like Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany, France and obviously Latvia, and opening for some of the biggest exponents of Extreme Metal such as Sepultura, Krisiun and Satyricon. So far Māra and her henchmen, including her aforementioned husband Dmitry on bass, released in 2018 their debut EP entitled Therapy For An Empath, which you can purchase from their BandCamp page or listen to in full on YouTube, and three music videos for the songs Sell Your Soul, Label Me Insane and Blameshifter, having already won Album Of The Year (with Therapy For An Empath, of course) and Best Vocalist at the  Latvian Metal Music Awards 2018. Moreover, you can enjoy MĀRA’s incendiary performance at the Latvian Metal Music Awards 2018,  which was held at an underground extreme music club in Riga named Melnā Piektdiena, playing the song Label Me Insane live during the event. As you might have already noticed, the name of the band was taken directly from her own name Māra, a very traditional Latvian girl name and, according to Māra herself, in Latvian folklore it’s also the name of a goddess, carrying a lot of strength rooted very deep in where the band comes from, also using Māra’s cross as their logo, a powerful Latvian magic sign.

Regarding her main idols in music, you just need to think of most classic Death, Thrash, Black and Groove Metal bands like Sepultura, Morbid Angel, Slayer, Carcass, Aborted, Cryptopsy and so on, with Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy) being perhaps her biggest idol as a vocalist. Māra even mentioned during an interview that one of her dreams as a musician would be to sing either Territory or Roots Bloody Roots together with Max as a very distinct and powerful duet, showing her total admiration and respect for a man that has undoubtedly revolutionized the way extreme vocalists sing all over the world. Not only that, you can also check all her passion for extreme music and vocalists on her official YouTube channel, where she uploads her own vocal covers for some of the heaviest and most awesome songs of all time, as for example Slipknot’s Psychosocial and The Heretic Anthem, Lamb Of God’s Laid To Rest and Sepultura’s Territory, with Slipknot having a huge influence on her vocal style and taste for music according to Māra herself, in special their 2001 masterpiece Iowa. As a matter of fact, she released her cover version for The Herectic Anthem on the same day Slipkont launched their brand new album We Are Not Your Kind this year, proving how much she loves and follows the band led by Corey Taylor. On a side note, our skillful vocalist also said that all metalheads from Latvia who dedicate a lot of their time to keep the local metal scene going, doing it just for their love for metal with basically no financial reward, also inspire her a lot in life, once again showing Māra has and will always have a beautiful connection with her homeland.

Māra also seems to be crazy four touring and performing live, as she mentioned in an interview that she could simply live out of touring. She enjoys visiting different countries, meeting and playing for different people, and learning about metal scenes everywhere she goes. She has already played in several European countries, and I’m pretty sure she can’t wait to expand her horizons to places like North and South America, Japan and Australia. As aforementioned, Māra and her husband Dmitry are currently residing in Germany (while the other band members, guitarist Denis Melnik and drummer Alberts Mednis, still live in Riga), and the reason why they decided to do that was purely due to music. She said that while metal in Latvia is considered underground and the opportunities for metal bands and artists there are very limited (albeit the internet can be very helpful in terms of worldwide exposure), even taking into account the metal scene in Latvia is healthy and friendly, Germany is the place to be for any type of metal band, complementing by saying that the fact her band is located in two different countries ended up helping them book gigs in more than one country. In addition to that, she said there are no metal radio stations in Latvia, and there are only 4 or 5 metal-oriented pubs in the entire country where local and touring bands can play. Well, let’s say that Māra is one of the most hardworking metal musicians (if not the most) hailing from Latvia that’s trying to change that, putting her beloved homeland on the global metal map even living in Germany.

Last but not least, when asked if she also sings and writes in her mother tongue Latvian and in any other language rather than English, she said although English is her preferred language because she wants her lyrics and messages to be understood by as many people as possible, she also sings and writes lyrics in Latvian and Russian depending on the project she’s working on, as sometimes she feels she wants to communicate only with Latvian and Russian speaking people. In case you want to enjoy about one hour of Māra talking about her career, her goals, her personal life and many other topics in English, I highly recommend you take a shot at an interview she gave to Dani Zed Extreme Music Reviews & Liveshows via Skype a couple of months ago. How lucky is Dani Zed for having the utmost pleasure of talking to such nice and talented metal woman for an extended period of time like that? We need to thank him for uploading the interview on YouTube, and obviously keep supporting Māra on her quest for extreme music in Lativa, in Germany, and anywhere else in the world where powerful and visceral female roars like hers are truly appreciated.

Māra Lisenko’s Official Facebook page
Māra Lisenko’s Official Instagram
Māra Lisenko’s Official YouTube channel
MĀRA’s Official Facebook page
MĀRA’s Official Instagram
MĀRA’s Official YouTube channel
MĀRA’s Official BandCamp page

“I love touring, I could live like that. I love visiting different countries, meeting and playing for different people, learning about metal scenes everywhere I go. It’s very exciting.” – Māra Lisenko

Album Review – He Who Seeks Vengeance / They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became (2019)

A high-octane fusion of classic Metalcore with Hardcore, Deathcore, Death and Thrash Metal made in Australia, inspired by the biggest names of the current rock and metal scene.

Highly inspired by some of the biggest names of the modern rock and metal scene such as As I Lay Dying, Of Mice & Men, Parkway Drive, Bring Me The Horizon, Thy Art Murder and Trivium, Australian Metalcore outfit He Who Seeks Vengeance is unleashing upon humanity their debut full-length album beautifully entitled They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became, blasting a high-octane fusion of classic Metalcore with Hardcore, Deathcore, Death and Thrash Metal for the masses. Formed in 2016 in Frankston, a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, the band comprised of lead singer Scott Masson, guitarist Kye Bradbury-Flint, bassist Joel Petry and drummer Adam Vousden sounds a lot more cohesive, polished and focused in their new album than in their 2017 debut EP The Kid’s Got Alligator Blood, proving the quartet is on the right path in their promising career and explaining why they’ve already become a reference in the underground scene in their homeland.

Distorted sounds and crushing beats invade our ears in Death Mountain before Scott begins roaring deeply for our total delight in a feast of fast, furious and vicious Metalcore infused with classic Death Metal elements, or in other words, an ass-kicking welcome card by the quartet. And keep banging your heads to the band’s demolishing sound in I Know You’re out There, Demon, where we’re able to enjoy the first stint of clean vocals of the album while Kye showcases his refined guitar skills, adding a lot of groove and electricity to their musicality; whereas Screw Feet presents a rumbling sonority led by Joel’s bass jabs and Adam’s vile beats. Furthermore, this is the type of modern metal music I enjoy a lot, being violent, melodic and progressive all at once, not to mention the incendiary riffs fired by Kye from start to finish. Slowing down and getting more obscure, Ghosts brings forward a solid instrumental that lacks the same energy and impact from the previous songs, despite the great job done by Scott with both his growls and clean vocals, followed by Nothing Lasts Forever, where an enraged intro explodes into a fusion of Metalcore with Groove Metal and Deathcore and with Joel’s thunderous bass powerfully complementing the song’s crisp, razor-edged guitar riffs.

Interminable displays a more melodic and less aggressive side of the band led by the metallic, low-tuned bass by Joel, while Scott declaims the song’s lyrics in a Punk-ish/Hardcore-inspired way, sounding perfect for fans of this less bestial side of Metalcore. Then the flammable guitar lines by Kye ignite the also groovy and rhythmic Money Is God, where Scott sounds truly deranged and insane and with Adam pounding his drums just the way we like it in modern-day metal, before the band blasts a rebellious circle pit-generator spearheaded by Adam and Kye titled Mark Me with an X, with both being armed to the teeth with their respective instruments. Needless to say, it should work really well if played live, with the deep guttural roars by Scott being the icing on the cake. In Strychnine the band sounds as modern and metallic as they can be, especially Adam with his crushing beats and fills, also showcasing the band’s trademark neck-breaking rhythm and pace in a solid display of what contemporary Metalcore truly means, while in 80-20, a song tailored for being played live at rock and metal festivals, we’re all invited to jump up and down with He Who Seeks Vengeance, presenting a blazing main riff that will rip your spinal cord out, unstoppable drums and endless stamina.

Once again bringing hints of classic Death Metal and even some Thrash Metal influences to their core sonority, the band offers us Shrapnel, alternating between groovier, more melodic moments and sheer insanity. Moreover, Scott doesn’t stop screaming and roaring, bursting his lungs with his deep guttural lines. Into the Shape of a Heart keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline (which by the way is kind of a tough job as we’re talking about fifteen songs in total), bringing to our ears a great riffage delivered by Kye while Joel continues to hammer his bass mercilessly, followed by Defeatist, offering the listener a more rumbling, dense sonority infused with Djent and Hardcore nuances while its guitar riffs are in total sync with the sound of drums, generating a vibrant atmosphere perfect for Scott’s sick vociferations. Lastly, closing the album we have two very distinct songs, starting with This Is My Day, which despite not being a bad song is slightly generic if compared to the rest of the album, albeit still presenting the band’s characteristic style and vibe and with Adam delivering another great performance on drums, while Blackwater is a very unique, dark and pensive ballad, not as devastating as their usual sound but, in the end, it works extremely well, closing the album on a somber note as if it is some sort of “aftermath”.

What are you waiting for to show your support to this talented four-piece act from Down Under? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of They Will Speak Of The Ghosts That We Became (available for a full listen on Spotify) by clicking HERE or from CD Baby. Those guys definitely want to put Australia on the map of contemporary Metalcore and Hardcore, and based on the high quality of the music found in their brand new album there’s no doubt they will succeed, which means we can expect to hear more from He Who Seeks Vengeance in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Death Mountain, Screw Feet, 80-20 and Shrapnel.

Worst moments of the album: Ghosts and This Is My Day.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Death Mountain 3:33
2. I Know You’re out There, Demon 4:08
3. Screw Feet 4:36
4. Ghosts 5:12
5. Nothing Lasts Forever 4:30
6. Interminable 5:43
7. Money Is God 3:30
8. Mark Me with an X 4:24
9. Strychnine 4:51
10. 80-20 4:40
11. Shrapnel 3:51
12. Into the Shape of a Heart 3:50
13. Defeatist 3:31
14. This Is My Day 4:04
15. Blackwater 4:27

Band members
Scott Masson – vocals
Kye Bradbury-Flint – guitar
Joel Petry – bass
Adam Vousden – drums

Concert Review – Slipknot (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/20/2019)

An awesome night of heavy music spearheaded by the world’s most beloved and rebellious masked horde, showing everyone that if you’re 555, then Toronto is 666.

OPENING ACTS: Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat

Blackened Death Metal, Progressive Groove Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Alternative Metal. What at first it might look like the distinct styles you usually find at an European metal fest during the summer is actually the lineup of the 2019 edition of the highly-acclaimed Knotfest Roadshow, and fortunately for us Torontonians the one and only Slipknot and their friends from Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat brought that amalgamation of very different but utterly electrifying genres to the always great Budweiser Stage on another hot summer day in the city. It was a Tuesday, just the beginning of the week, which means most people who attended the show still had an entire week of work after around six intense hours of loud beats, unstoppable riffs and demented circle pits. Well, who cares, right? It’s all in the name of our good old Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Just by arriving at the venue you could see it was going to be a very special day for longtime fans of Slipknot, with several of them being properly dressed as their idols, including some wicked (and a few weird) masks, showing how much those people love and respect a band that revolutionized metal music 20 years ago and that are still alive and kicking. If you had the opportunity to arrive to the Budweiser stage right when the gates were opened, you were able to enjoy a lot of different attractions such as a special Slipknot exhibition right beside where 2018 Wacken Metal Battle Canada winners Centuries of Decay (you can see more details about their 2018 win HERE) where blasting their first-class Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal, enjoy one or more of the several food trucks available, test your knowledge of metal music by taking a fun quiz at the Monster Energy truck (needless to say, I had all six answers correct and got myself a nice Monster Energy bandana), or even take a picture with that crazy dude who tried to swim back to the Slayer concert in 2018 at that same venue. He was wearing a personalized shirt about his 2018 incident and two arm floats. Yes, he’s that crazy.

However, when the clock hit 5:30pm sharp, it was time for the gods and demons of heavy music and all fans that were already at the venue (and I was surprised by the huge number of people that managed to get there in time for the very first concert) to witness another blasphemous, theatrical and absolutely heavy-as-hell performance by Poland’s own BEHEMOTH. Still promoting their awesome 2018 opus I Loved You At Your Darkest, the iconic Nergal and his henchmen Seth, Orion and Inferno delivered a short and sweet concert for fans of their darker version of Death Metal, literally spitting fire, blood and blasphemy on our faces for around 40 minutes, with songs like Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,  Bartzabel and Chant for Eschaton 2000 proving why they became one of the most beloved extreme bands of the past decade, and also one of the most hated and abhorred by any type of church (which in the end is a very positive thing).

Setlist
Solve
Wolves ov Siberia
Daimonos
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Bartzabel
Conquer All
Sabbath Mater
Chant for Eschaton 2000

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

After a quick break the stage was ready with all of its lights aiming at our faces to warn us the pulverizing concert by French Progressive/Groove Metal institution GOJIRA was about to begin, and let me tell you it was simply fantastic and insanely heavy from start to finish. The Duplantier Brothers Joe and Mario, together with Christian Andreu on the guitar and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass delivered a neck-breaking performance for our total delight, leaving us all eager for more of their music in Canadian lands. I loved how heavy, dense and thrilling songs like Stranded, Flying Whales (my favorite of their setlist) and Silvera sounded last night, and we must thank Mr. Mario Duplantier for that. The guy is an untamed beast on drums, crushing his drum set flawlessly and throwing almost all of his sticks to the fans throughout his bestial performance. After such devastating concert by Gojira, I must say once again there’s only one thing I hate about festivals, and that’s the fact bands like Gojira do not have enough time to show the crowd everything they got.

Setlist
Toxic Garbage Island
Backbone
Stranded
Flying Whales
Love
The Cell
Silvera
The Gift of Guilt

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums

After two demolishing concerts of extreme music, it was time to cool things down a bit with the heavier-than-usual Rock N’ Roll by Danish institution VOLBEAT, who are just beginning to promote their newest album Rewind, Replay, Rebound. As a big fan of Volbeat, I was a little worried about how the most berserk Slipknot fans would react to their fusion of lighter styles like Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock, and during the first few songs let’s say most fans weren’t impressed with their music. However, after Sad Man’s Tongue (preceded by a snippet of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”) and Black Rose, featuring Toronto’s own Danko Jones on vocals together with Michael Polsen, things started to pick up and the more than 13 thousand fans at the venue who were already anxious for Slipknot had a great time with the band, especially when they played their heavier stuff like A Warrior’s Call, Dead But Rising and Seal the Deal. In a nutshell, it might not have been the best slot to add Volbeat, right after Behemoth and Gojira and right before Slipknot, but you know what? In the end it all worked really well, something only talented bands like Volbeat can do even against all odds.

Setlist
Born to Raise Hell (Motörhead song)
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Lola Montez
Sad Man’s Tongue
Black Rose (with Danko Jones)
The Everlasting
Slaytan
Dead But Rising
A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
Last Day Under the Sun
Doc Holliday
Seal the Deal
Still Counting
Sawdust in the Blood (Rob Zombie song)

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar
Jon Larsen – drums

SLIPKNOT

It was already past 9pm when the speakers began playing AC/DC’s rock anthem “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”, getting our engines revved up for a storm of heaviness, insanity and explosions by American institution SLIPKNOT. It was total chaos and anarchy from start to finish, with the first few songs from their setlist, those being the classics People = Shit, (sic) and Get This, already inspiring all their fans to go absolutely mental into the pit. The temperature at the Budweiser Stage was just going up, with their new songs Unsainted, Solway Firth (both from their brand new, ass-kicking album We Are Not Your Kind) and All Out Life working even better than expected. As a matter of fact, I was more than sure those three songs would sound fantastic on stage, first because they’re already damn good songs, but mainly due to the fact Slipknot on stage always take their heaviness to the next level.

Corey, Mick, Jim and all others were on fire during their long and incendiary performance, with all their stage paraphernalia (and the Budweiser Stage is just perfect for that type of concert) adding a very welcome touch of insanity to the night. Not only that, it was visible how Corey was extremely happy to be back in Toronto after a long time, letting all the energy coming from the crowd penetrate deep inside his mind and helping him growl and scream like a beast until the very end. “We’ve been at this for 20 years! It hasn’t always been easy, but looking at all of you here tonight, I can safely say we’ll be doing it for another 20,” said a more-than-excited Corey to his fans before crushing their heads once again with their venomous music. I honestly have no idea if they can keep that level of violence on stage for another two decades, but if they keep going and delivering top-of-the-line heavy music like what Slayer have been doing until now, we can rest assured rock and metal will never die.

Although the fans at the floor section were out of control inside some killer circle pits, I must say the most demented guy from the entire night was the band’s newest member Tortilla Man. How deranged and talented is that guy? He kept pounding his drums, screaming, jumping up and down, dancing and hitting his beer kegs as hard as possible without showing any signs of fatigue for almost two hours; now I fully understand why the rest of the band is so happy and excited to have Tortilla Man in the band. The only field where he wasn’t number 1 in madness and precision was dancing, because that’s Mr. Sid Wilson’s undisputed title. I don’t know for sure what exactly he does behind his turntables, but when he’s there dancing and having fun around the stage it’s a whole new thing. That guy is just as sick as his music, no doubt about that. Anyway, after the all-time hits Spit It Out (including their famous “get down/jump the fuck up” interaction with the crowd) and Surfacing, it was time for Slipknot to say goodbye, to promise us all they will return to Toronto, and for the fans to breather a little and try to recover their energies to try to get home safe and sound. And as one final message after such amazing night of metal music, all I have to say to you is that if you’re 555, then I’m 666. As simple as that.

Setlist
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) (AC/DC song)
(515)
People = Shit
(sic)
Get This
Unsainted
Before I Forget
Solway Firth
The Heretic Anthem
Psychosocial
The Devil in I
Prosthetics
Vermilion
Custer
Sulfur
All Out Life
Duality

Encore:
Spit It Out
Surfacing
‘Til We Die

Band members
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables, keyboards
(#4) Jim Root – lead and rhythm guitars
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – samples, media, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – custom percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – lead and rhythm guitars
(#8) Corey Taylor – lead vocals
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Jay Weinberg – drums
Tortilla Man – custom percussion, backing vocals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Released in 2019 233 Records

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

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

Album Review – Uncured / Epidemic (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: Stone Fortress.

Released in 2019 Seek & Strike

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

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

Guest musician
Spencer Metala – bass (live)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: The Chosen One.

Released in 2019 Independent

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

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

Interview – Anthony Kaoteon

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

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Metal Chick of the Month – Kayla Dixon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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