Album Review – Absolva / Side By Side (2020)

Celebrating the great tradition of British Heavy Metal with huge riffs and massive hooks, this young and restless Manchester, UK-based unity returns with their breathtaking fifth full-length album.

If you’re a fan of the most recent solo albums by the indomitable Blaze Bayley, more specifically with his  Infinite Entanglement Trilogy, you’ve probably heard the names of vocalist and guitarist Christopher Appleton, bassist Karl Schramm and drummer Martin Mcnee, who together with Chris’ brother, guitarist Luke Appleton (of Iced Earth), have been making a lot of noise since 2012 with their Manchester, England-based Melodic/Heavy Metal band Absolva. Each member has a wealth of experience with an impressive pedigree recording and touring with their other above-mentioned associations with Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley, and have also toured as support artists with the likes of Saxon, Michael Schenker and Y&T. Now in 2020 it’s time for Absolva to strike again with Side By Side, their fifth studio album following on from Flames of Justice (2012), Anthems to the Dead (2014), Never a Good Day to Die (2015) and Defiance (2017).

Recorded at Rocksector Records headquarters in Manchester, produced by Chris Appleton himself, mastered by Ade Emsley at Table of Tone Mastering Ltd. in London, and featuring a classic artwork by Brazilian artist Alberto Quirantes of Akirant Illustration (Blaze Bayley, Iron Maiden, Star Wars), Side By Side undoubtedly celebrates the great tradition of British Heavy Metal with huge riffs and massive hooks. However, Absolva have never been scared to mix things up, and fans will discover light and shade across the ten original songs (plus two very special bonus tracks) found in such entertaining album that transpires metal music, showcasing an exceptional performance by all band members and, therefore, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Helloween and several other metal giants.

The strident guitars by Chris and Luke bring thunder to the opening track Advocate Your Fate, accompanied by the band’s heavy kitchen of Martin and Karl in a pure traditional Heavy Metal feast, with their guitar solos being absolutely incendiary; and blasting a Judas Priest-inspired mega-riff the band embellishes the airwaves with the high-octane Burning Star, where Chris’ soaring screams are beautifully supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals, sounding perfect for headbanging nonstop in the name of Heavy Metal. Then keep banging your heads and raising your horns to the sound of The Sky’s Your Limit, where the bass punches by Karl will reverberate inside your brain, feeling very melodic from start to finish and being obviously recommended for enjoying it while on a road trip, whereas the title-track Side by Side brings forward an inspiring, upbeat atmosphere showcasing the union among the band members, with both Chris and Luke taking the lead with their refined riffs and solos and, of course, living up to the legacy of the biggest exponents of the genre.

After such amazing first batch of songs, it’s time to speed things up and slam into the pit together with the boys in Living a Lie, another lesson in traditional Heavy Metal where Martin is unstoppable on drums while its guitars will pierce your ears and Chris powerfully declaims the song’s austere lyrics, followed by Legion, presenting a “Stranger in a Stranger Land” vibe generated by Karl and his menacing bass, alternating between heavier moments spiced up by Chris and Luke’s shredding and more serene, melodic passages. And more metallic sounds permeate the airwaves in Eternal Soul, a galloping tune led by Karl and Martin armed with their thunderous instruments, feeling like a metal classic from the 80’s with a catchy chorus that will put you to sing along with the band, not to mention their trademark electrifying solos.

Chris leads his metal army in the rebellious anthem End of Days, a more epic and imposing tune where Martin’s beats dictate the pace and the band’s stringed trio doesn’t stop firing sheer electricity from their axes, and setting fire to the world the band brings forth the frantic, melodic and absolutely awesome Heart Let’s Go, where Chris keeps blasting his sharp vocals accompanied by the razor-edged sound of the guitars and the groovy bass by Karl. Finally, a serene Hard Rock-inspired intro ignites the melodic From This World, the last original song of the album where the quartet showcases a lot of passion and feeling, led by the pounding beats by Martin (albeit going on for a little too long, though), before we’re treated to two metallic and vibrant bonus tracks by Absolva showing their respect and admiration for the undisputed metal titans Iron Maiden, with 2 Minutes to Midnight, and Black Sabbath, with Heaven and Hell, with their Iron Maiden version sounding and feeling beyond stunning.

The guys form Absolva are waiting for you on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify, ready to invade your senses with their refined old school Heavy Metal, and with Side By Side being the perfect representation of everything they stand for and what we can except from such talented band in a not-so-distant future. Hence, don’t forget to purchase your copy of the album from their Big Cartel page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, standing side by side with one of the youngest and most promising bands of the UK scene and, as a consequence, living and breathing metal music together with a band that proudly carries the flag of NWOBHM wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Burning Star, Eternal Soul, Heart Let’s Go and 2 Minutes to Midnight.

Worst moments of the album: From This World.

Released in 2020 Rocksector Records

Track listing
1. Advocate Your Fate 4:39
2. Burning Star 4:02
3. The Sky’s Your Limit 5:22
4. Side by Side 4:39
5. Living a Lie 3:07
6. Legion 3:42
7. Eternal Soul 5:37
8. End of Days 6:07
9. Heart Let’s Go 4:21
10. From This World 5:51

Bonus tracks
11. 2 Minutes to Midnight (Iron Maiden cover) 5:49
12. Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath cover) 7:01

Band members
Christopher Appleton – lead vocals, lead guitar
Luke Appleton – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass
Martin Mcnee – drums

Album Review – Burning Witches / Dance with the Devil (2020)

The witches are back to mesmerize us all and put us to dance with them forever and ever to the sound of their incendiary Heavy Metal.

Swiss Heavy/Power Metal outfit Burning Witches is by far one of the hottest exports from the Alpine Republic since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2017, receiving a very positive feedback from fans and critics from all over the world. Formed in 2015 in Brugg, a Swiss municipality and a town in the canton of Aargau, the band currently comprised of Dutch newcomer Laura Guldemond on vocals (replacing the band’s original singer Seraina Telli in 2019), Romana Kalkuhl and Sonia Nusselder on the guitars, Jeanine Grob on bass and Lala Frischknecht on drums is ready to show the world everything they got once again with their third full-length installment Dance with the Devil, the follow-up to their highly acclaimed sophomore album Hexenhammer, released in 2018, and a lesson in Heavy Metal by five talented ladies who have always loved and breathed heavy music that will certainly inspire you to raise your horns and bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

An eerie, mesmerizing intro titled The Incantation captivates our senses for the infernal Lucid Nightmare, with Romana and Sonia blasting sheer adrenaline through their sick riffage. Put differently, it’s classic Heavy Metal from the 80’s with Laura kicking some serious ass with her witch-like, soaring vocals, setting the bar really high for the rest of the album. Then it’s time to dance with our beloved Swiss witches in the title-track Dance with the Devil, a Hard Rock extravaganza led by Lala’s spot-on beats and Laura’s stunning vocals while the band’s stringed trio fills every single space in the air with adrenaline and electricity; followed by Wings of Steel, originally released in their 2019 EP Wings of Steel, a pure Heavy Metal tune showcasing the band’s dexterity and passion for what they do, all spiced up by Romana’s and Sonia’s classy guitar solos.

And Laura keeps blasting her high-pitched, piercing vocal lines in Six Feet Underground, another solid tune where Jeanine and Lala make the earth tremble with their low-tuned, metallic weapons, whereas in Black Magic we’re treated to an introspective, melancholic intro where Laura beautifully declaims the song’s words, evolving into a stunning ballad presenting passionate guitar solos and an ethereal atmosphere, showing a more delicate side of the band. Less visceral than the previous songs but still heavy-as-hell, Sea of Lies is a good composition bringing to our ears a great performance by Lala on drums, providing her bandmates a solid base for them to effectively slash their strings, while a Judas Priest-inspired riff kick off the metallic anthem The Sisters of Fate, perfect for banging your head nonstop with the girls or for hitting the road with your loved ones. This is the epitome of the band’s killer Heavy Metal with a Rock N’ Roll twist, with their guitar riffs and solos penetrating deep inside our minds.

Necronomicon is one of the darkest and most devilish of all songs, with Laura impersonating a true witch with her raspy, demonic vocals while Jeanine doesn’t stop hammering her bass strings, also presenting more of the band’s razor-edged riffs and solos, and bringing forward Helloween-inspired riffs blended with the classic Hard Rock by bands like Europe and Survivor we have The Final Fight, another lesson in charisma and vocal potency by Laura, therefore highly recommended for singing along with the band. Then taking their heaviness to a new level the quintet blasts the battle anthem Threefold Return, presenting an old school shredding infused with rumbling bass punches and rhythmic drums which will please all fans of classic Heavy and Power Metal without a shadow of a doubt, and lastly we have their cover version for Manowar’s classic Battle Hymn, featuring guest guitarist Ross the Boss (Manowar, Ross the Boss) and guest bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X, Ross the Boss). This is a sensational rendition by the witches with a welcome feminine touch, and still as strong and insurgent as the original version (which you can take a listen at HERE).

If you consider yourself a true metalhead and you think you have what it takes to face the stunning metal witches from Switzerland, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course go grab your copy of the breathtaking Dance with the Devil (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the Nuclear Blast webstore in different formats by clicking HERE or HERE. Hence, after putting your hands on such entertaining album of heavy music, you’ll quickly realize the unrelenting Burning Witches have taken over your mind for good, inspiring you to dance with them forever and ever to the sound of their undisputed Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Lucid Nightmare, Dance with the Devil, The Sisters of Fate and The Final Fight.

Worst moments of the album: Sea of Lies.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Incantation 0:57
2. Lucid Nightmare 4:50
3. Dance with the Devil 4:26
4. Wings of Steel 4:29
5. Six Feet Underground 4:31
6. Black Magic 5:06
7. Sea of Lies 4:56
8. The Sisters of Fate 3:31
9. Necronomicon 4:12
10. The Final Fight 4:35
11. Threefold Return 3:56
12. Battle Hymn (Manowar cover) 6:55

Band members
Laura Guldemond – vocals
Romana Kalkuhl – guitars
Sonia Nusselder – guitars
Jeanine Grob – bass
Lala Frischknecht – drums

Guest musicians
Ross the Boss – guitars on “Battle Hymn”
Mike LePond – bass on “Battle Hymn”

Album Review – Eulogy / Memento Mori EP (2020)

Showcasing a multitude of influences and musical variations, this Hard Rock three-piece unity from Wales is ready to rock with their brand new EP.

Remember (that you have) to die. This is the meaning of the famous phrase Memento Mori, the title of the brand new EP by Welsh Hard Rock three-piece act Eulogy and the follow-up to their wildly popular EP Back To Life, released in 2017. Performing original music with a dark lyrical twist, Eulogy were formed back in 2017 in Cardiff, Wales by lead singer and bassist Neil Thomas, guitarist Mike Williams and drummer Darran Goodwin, aiming at showcasing a multitude of influences and musical variations, with the four track from their brand new EP being written and refined over a period of five months before being recorded, mixed and mastered at Coda Recordings by Neil Garland. “We wanted to create something heavier and darker while maintaining our melodic sound,” stated Neil Thomas about Memento Mori, featuring the band’s most dynamic writing to date throughout its 18 minutes of classic Hard Rock.

And the band kicks things of with Cross To Bare, a song about losing someone close and dealing with loss, presenting a flammable fusion of the music by classic hard rockers like Motley Crüe with the heaviness of Judas Priest and the Rock N’ Roll by Volbeat. Moreover, Darran dictates the pace with his spot-on beats while Neil fires rage and electricity through his vocals and bass, sounding and feeling like a rockin’ hit from the 80’s, whereas You’ll Die Alone, a song that focuses on the consequences of treating someone badly, is a mid-tempo Hard Rock feast of slashing riffs and tons of melody flowing from Mike’s guitar, while Neil and Darran keep the atmosphere dense and sinister with their respective weapons. Then its time to get faster, heavier and more aggressive in Corvid, dealing with the moment before death when your soul is taken. Led by Mike’s razor-edged riffs and Darran’s trademark beats, this is an awesome option to bang your head nonstop or dance with yourself (especially now while quarantined in your place during the coronavirus pandemic). And closing the EP the power trio fills every single space in the air with their melodious and classic rock music in Blood Red Skies, a song of hope presenting the trademark riffs and soulful solos by Mike while Neil passionately declaims its inspiring lyrics.

In summary, Memento Mori, available for a full listen on Spotify, not only points to a bright future for those Welsh hard rockers, but it also positions Wales as a very interesting source of old school Hard Rock for admirers of the genre. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to Neil, Mike and Darran by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and above all that, by purchasing your copy of Memento Mori from their official BandCamp page, from CD Baby or from Google Play, helping Eulogy to proudly carry the flag of British Hard Rock wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Corvid.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 One Eyed Toad Records

Track listing
1. Cross To Bare 3:44
2. You’ll Die Alone 4:18
3. Corvid 5:48
4. Blood Red Skies 4:08

Band members
Neil Thomas – vocals, bass
Mike Williams – guitars
Darran Goodwin – drums

Album Review – Scarlet Aura / Stormbreaker (2020)

Join the stunning Aura Dănciulescu and her henchmen in their quest for heavy music with the breathtaking second volume of their conceptual “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy.

My fellow metalheads, it’s time to visit the charming and vibrant Romania, more specifically the country’s capital Bucharest, to have an absolute blast with Stormbreaker, the breathtaking fourth studio album by a Heavy and Power Metal unity that has been making a name for themselves since their inception in 2014 under the name Aura, but currently known by the stylish moniker of Scarlet Aura, marking the official release of the second fantasy book volume from the conceptual “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy after their 2018 installment Hot’n’Heavy, and showing the entire world who they are through the album’s musical and lyrical parts. And let me tell you that Stormbreaker is even more powerful than its predecessor, putting the band comprised of the stunning frontwoman Aura Dănciulescu, guitarist Mihai Dănciulescu, bassist Rene Nistor and drummer Doru Florin Gheorghita in the spotlight of not only the Romanian metal scene, but anywhere else in the world where people live and breath our beloved Heavy Metal.

“As an artist I’m not afraid to dig into the unknown by approaching sensible subjects in our songs, subjects like the difficulty of being honest with others but also with yourself regarding your own feelings, the need of overcoming a huge sufferance that troubles you, the lack of courage when it’s about doing the right thing, the lack of love or the crying for it… Subjects that make ourselves human, subjects that are in each one of us and that make us who we are and maybe throughout our music, we get recovered, healed or better, we discover ourselves for who we really are because with any doubt music heals the spirit, metal heals the heart,” commented the band’s front lady Aura about their brand new opus, with Mihai adding that “Stormbreaker continues the heavy metal statement we started with Hail To You and although “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy takes these albums into a fantasy world of discovering Scarlet, I think we’ll all realize after listening that actually Scarlet is in each one of us. Stormbreaker comes rough, it comes straightforward, it comes in your face with the powerful rhythms, edgy guitar riffs, almost psychedelic guitar solos, hard crunchy bass lines, modulations and surprises at every step not giving you the time to get bored but to want more after every song, all of us exceeding even our own expectations.”

The cinematic intro The World Is Not Enough (perhaps inspired by the James bond movie of the same name released in 1999) welcomes the listener to the magic world of Scarlet Aura, setting the stage for the infernally heavy Metal Hell, spearheaded by the soaring vocals by Aura and exhaling epicness and rage from start to finish. Furthermore, Mihai is bestial with his riffage while Rene and Doru keep the atmosphere as dense and thunderous as it can be. And the band keeps the momentum going by firing a high-octane, melodic and absolutely demolishing hymn title Battle Cry, where Mihai and Rene are superb with their stringed weapons, not to mention Aura’s enfolding vocals as usual. Needless to say, this metal anthem will work majestically when played live, which can also be said about the title-track Stormbreaker, where the band presents their more melodic side, leaning towards classic Hard Rock at times and with Rene kicking some serious ass with his rumbling bass while Doru keeps pounding his drums in great fashion.

Loose Cannon has a delicious vibe à la Iron Maiden’s classic “Stranger in a Strange Land” thanks to the thunderous job done by both Rene and Doru, but it’s Aura who steals the spotlight with her potent voice. Put differently, simply bang your head nonstop to the band’s classy and rebellious Heavy Metal. And Mihai ignites the also thrilling and vibrant I Am The One with his razor-edged riffs, again flirting with Hard Rock but keeping the band’s metallic core essence intact, therefore sounding and feeling like it was originally recorded in the 80’s; whereas it’s time to slow things down and enjoy a passionate and flammable performance by Aura in the ballad High In The Sky, showcasing an ethereal and serene ambience while Mihai blasts his precise riffs and solos throughout the entire song. Then incendiary guitar lines take the lead in the upbeat, insurgent anthem The Heretic, where Aura is yet again fantastic with her deep and potent roars, resulting in a lesson in Heavy Metal with a darker twist, all spiced up by Doru’s crushing beats.

Adding hints of Punk Rock and Hardcore to their classic Heavy Metal, the band brings forward the dancing tune Daddy’s Lil Monster, displaying an amazing sync between Rene and Doru in the background while Aura leads her henchmen with her enthralling voice. Back to a more classic sonority the band offers our ears the good (but not as exciting as the rest of the album) A Blast From The Past, presenting a decent job done by all band members despite losing its grip after a while, and closing the album Aura and the boys bring forth their own fast-and-furious metal hymn titled Scarlets United, blending elements from bands like Helloween, Judas Priest and Primal Fear into their already electrifying musicality, with Mihai putting the pedal to the metal with his wicked guitar solos and, consequently, leaving us eager for more of Scarlet Aura’s beautiful metal music as soon as the album is over.

The Book Of Scarlet is open and Scarlet Aura are more than ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with its sensational second chapter Stormbreaker, and if you want to know more about this up-and-coming Romanian squad, listen to more of their music and keep an eye on their tour dates, simply follow them on Facebook, on VKontakte and on Instagram, listen to more of their music on Spotify and, above all that, purchase your copy of Stormbreaker from the band’s official webstore in CD or LP format, as well as from other locations like Apple Music and Amazon. Aura and the boys are united in their quest for metal, ready to head into the battlefield and armed with their newborn spawn Stormbreaker, positioning the band as one of the most promising new names of the scene. Having said that, what are you waiting for to officially become a “Scarlet” in the name of Heavy Metal?

Best moments of the album: Metal Hell, Battle Cry, Loose Cannon and The Heretic.

Worst moments of the album: A Blast From The Past.

Released in 2020 Silver City Records

Track listing
1. The World Is Not Enough 1:56
2. Metal Hell 6:03
3. Battle Cry 4:33
4. Stormbreaker 4:27
5. Loose Cannon 6:06
6. I Am The One 3:55
7. High In The Sky 6:15
8. The Heretic 5:46
9. Daddy’s Lil Monster 4:48
10. A Blast From The Past 5:29
11. Scarlets United 5:09

Band members
Aura Dănciulescu – lead vocals
Mihai Dănciulescu – guitars, backing vocals
Rene Nistor – bass, backing vocals
Doru Florin Gheorghita – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The year of 2019 might be reaching its inevitable end in the blink of an eye for most of us, but if there’s one thing we must admit is that it has been indeed a year of countless events, episodes and changes with a huge impact on how pretty much everything works in our Heavy Metal universe. For instance, 2019 was the year where we unfortunately witnessed the ultimate campaign by Thrash Metal titans Slayer, who at the same time left an undisputed and brilliant legacy to Heavy Metal and a giant hole in our hearts and in the global Thrash Metal scene. Do you think there’s any band that can fill that gap created by the end of Slayer? In my humble opinion, although I love bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, I doubt anyone can claim Slayer’s throne as the meanest, most demonic and most pulverizing band of all time, but that doesn’t mean Thrash Metal is dead and gone. Quite the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking, with many of the underground bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose contributing to keep the flame of such distinct subgenre of heavy music burning bright.

In addition, 2019 was also the year we lost many of our rock and metal icons, including André Matos (vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper), Larry Wallis (former guitarist of Motörhead), and Timi Hansen (former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond), as well as several talented musicians from non-metal styles like Marie Fredriksson (lead singer and keyboardist of Roxette), Keith Flint (frontman of The Prodigy), and the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Mr. Dick Dale. However, even with all those significant losses, we can say 2019 was a productive year for rock and metal music, with many iconic and underground bands delivering some fantastic albums for our total delectation, and that’s why here we are again with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, to prove once and for all that heavy music will never, ever die. Having said that, enjoy our list of top metal albums for this year that’s coming to an end, and keep raising your horns high together with us in 2020!

1. Rammstein – Rammstein (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.
Best song of the album: Deutschland

2. Necronomicon – UNUS (REVIEW)
Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their career.
Best song of the album: Infinituum Continuum

3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics (REVIEW)
It’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Fire God and Fear

4. Soilwork – Verkligheten (REVIEW)
Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters return in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.
Best song of the album: Stålfågel

5. The Agonist – Orphans (REVIEW)
Canadian juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.
Best song of the album: Blood as My Guide

6. Helevorn – Aamamata (REVIEW)
Embrace darkness and melancholy with the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the current Spanish scene.
Best song of the album: Aurora

7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (REVIEW)
The world’s most famous masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.
Best song of the album: Unsainted

8. Amon Amarth – Berserker (REVIEW)
Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with Amon Amarth.
Best song of the album: Shield Wall

9. Target – Deep Water Flames (REVIEW)
Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by this amazing band from Chile.
Best song of the album: Oceangrave

10. Singularity – Place of Chains (REVIEW)
The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Ritual of Regret

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Grand Magus – Wolf God (REVIEW)
12. Hiss From The Moat – The Harrier (REVIEW)
13. Lucifera – La Caceria De Brujas (REVIEW)
14. Alunah – Violet Hour (REVIEW)
15. Dö – Astral Death Cult (REVIEW)
16. Rifftera – Across the Acheron (REVIEW)
17. Rage Of Light – Imploder (REVIEW)
18. Rexoria – Ice Breaker (REVIEW)
19. HerezA – Death Metal Drunks (REVIEW)
20. Aephanemer – Prokopton (REVIEW)

Also, let’s not forget about some of the best albums which, although might be short in duration, they did bring to our ears an endless amount of heaviness, speed and harmony this year, accrediting them to be part of our Top 10 EP’s of 2019. As you can see, those EP’s were recorded by the most diverse types of bands and artists from all over the world, becoming some sort of “tasting sample” of what we can expect from those metallers in a not-so-distant future.

1. Eleine – All Shall Burn (REVIEW)
2. Quilombo – Itankale (REVIEW)
3. Master’s Call – Morbid Black Trinity (REVIEW)
4. Violent Life Violent Death – Sadness Rains (REVIEW)
5. Angra Demana – Triptych Of Decay (REVIEW)
6. Vorga – Radiant Gloom (REVIEW)
7. Shuulak – Citrinitas (REVIEW)
8. Moanaa – Torches (REVIEW)
9. Exuviated – Déliquescence (REVIEW)
10. Sophist – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2019? And, as usual, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2020!

And before The Headbanging Moose takes a well-deserved break to recover our energies and return in full force in 2020, how about we enjoy what’s probably one of the best and most detailed “Christmas” songs of all time, the fantastic Valhalleluja, recently released by Italian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Nanowar of Steel? This is the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas night with your loved ones, especially if you give someone anything from IKEA as a Christmas gift. Well, simply watch the official video below and follow the lyrics to understand what I’m talking about. Having said that, let’s all pray to Odin, drink beer and sing Valhalleluja together with Nanowar of Steel, my friends!

Metal Chick of the Month – Aura Dănciulescu

Let’s go fucking wild, Aura!

The year of 2019 might be coming to an end, but not before we fill the airwaves with the stunning vocals by Aura Dănciulescu, the winged frontwoman for Romanian Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal band Scarlet Aura and our awesome metal chick of the month of December. Born Aura Gabriela Danciulescu on October 28, 1985 in Fălticeni, a city in Suceava County, north-eastern Romania, situated in the historical region of Moldavia, Aura is a multi-talented singer, lyricist and songwriter, always passionate about music and writing. Of light brown hair (but currently dyed blonde) and brown eyes, Aura has all the attributes fans of heavy music look for in a vocalist, and I’m sure after reading a little about our gorgeous metalhead you’ll get addicted to her music and be quite impressed with her skills, transparency and deep love for our good old Heavy Metal.

Aura, who by the way has a famous sister, Mihaela Pohoaţă, a Romanian aerobic gymnast who won five world championships medals (three gold and two bronze) and three European championships gold medals during her career, started singing when she was just a little kid, and her initial performance was so bad her parents actually decided to put her in vocal lessons to improve her skills. By the way, her parents have always supported her decisions, letting her be free, believe in herself and have her own goals. She then naturally decided to become a singer after the vocal lessons when she was around 10 years old, developing her voice through the years until reaching the superb level she sings nowadays. Although she’s always been a rock and metal fan, it was when she met her now husband, Mihai Danciulescu, lead guitarist and backing vocalist for Scarlet Aura, that she really started to adore it, with Mihai explaining to her all the different styles of rock and metal music and introducing her to some of his biggest idols. Furthermore, before dedicating her life to music from the year of 2011 onward, Aura went to University of Bucharest and studied political science and law school, also holding a few extra courses on diplomacy and national defense and having worked for a few years at the Romanian Senate.

After numerous music projects and her first rock band Steelborn, having recorded with the band the EP’s Un Nou Inceput and Intr-Un Vis, both in 2010, and the full-length album Trup De Apa, in 2012, all in her mother tongue Romanian (and if you want to listen to Aura beautifully singing the band’s pleasant Rock N’ Roll you can check a couple of YouTube videos with the songs Orice Ar Fi & Suflet Furat live and Ratacire), it all eventually led to creation in 2014 of Scarlet Aura, the exotic rising metal star of the East that quickly got the attention of promoters and fans worldwide. By the way, if you would like to enjoy a very interesting “fusion” of Aura’s past and present, Scarlet Aura recorded in 2018 a heavier version of one of Steelborn’s oldest songs, Un Nou Inceput, the title-track to their 2010 debut EP. Having already toured with renowned acts like Tarja Turunen, Beast in Black and Soto, the band comprised of our unstoppable Aura on vocals, the aforementioned Mihai on the guitars and backing vocals, Rene Nistor on bass and backing vocals, and Doru Gheorghita on drums are on a roll since their inception, positioning them as one of the most promising names in the current European scene.

As a matter of fact, the name scarlet Aura was only adopted in 2015, with the band’s original name AURA being used only during their first year of existence, having released under their old name the album The Rock Chick. In addition, as you might have noticed, Aura and Mihai met in 2010 while playing with Steelborn, and after a few years they fell in love, got married and decided to pursue a career together as Scarlet Aura. Under their new and powerful name, Aura and the boys have already released the full-length albums Falling Sky in 2016, Memories in 2017, and Hot’n’Heavy in 2018, as well as the EP The Beast Within Me in 2017 and the CD/DVD box set Scarlet Aura in Concert (recorded live at Quantic Pub in Bucharest on April 27, 2017) in 2018. Moreover, Scarlet Aura are set to release in 2020 their fifth album, entitled Stormbreaker, and the second one in the trilogy The Book Of Scarlet, once again combining metal music with fantasy literature, and if you want to show your true support to Aura and the boys you can help them make the album come true by participating in their Indiegogo campaign. also, the band’s official YouTube channel is and endless source of awesomeness, providing us metalheads several first-class videos for the best songs form all of their albums, such as Hail To You!, High in the Sky, Hate is Evanescent, Violence is Forever, My Own Nightmare, You’re Not Alone, Immortal In Your Eyes and Fallin’ to Pieces, not to mention other interesting videos from the band playing songs like In The Name Of My Pain at a Romanian TV show called  Antena 1, and their full performance at Transalpina Rock Fest in 2018.

In addition to all of the band’s original material, I would also recommend you take a very good listen at their 2017 album Memories, which is pretty much a tribute to all of their idols and influences in music, mixing some of the biggest metal hits in history with non-metal cover songs as well. For instance, you can enjoy Aura giving her own feminine twist to all-time Heavy Metal and Hard Rock classics like Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law, Blind Guardian’s A Past and Future Secret, Europe’s The Final Countdown, Iron Maiden’s Wasting Love, Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It, Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford’s If I Close My Eyes Forever, and Dio’s Don’t Talk To Strangers, or maybe you fancy listening to her personal interpretation of hits by female-fronted bands from the most diverse styles like Skunk Anansie’s My Ugly Boy, Doro’s All We Are, and The Cranberries’ Zombie. You can obviously find these and all of their own original songs by directly visiting their Spotify profile, bringing to your metallic ears hours of first-class metal music made in Romania.

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Apart from her life with Scarlet Aura, was also a guest vocalist in a song called Plecăciune Zăului, from the album Zăul Moș, released in 2017 by Romanian Symphonic Black Metal band Syn Ze Șase Tri (with the name of the band translating as “I Am With Triple Six”, just to give you an idea of how dark their music is). Not only that, Aura has also been working as a moderator at Wacken Radio since April this year, spearheading the first ever English show of the radio called Go Wild. “I was invited to give an interview on Scarlet Aura in the S.T.U.N.T.S. metal show, for Wacken Radio, held by TinU and SlayerOfMadness. We connected immediately and the invitation to join them as host came naturally and I couldn’t be more honored and happy to say Yes! And soon I discovered that Wacken Radio supports radio hosts applicants that can join the family by applying and going through some tests and if they pass, they can be also part of Wacken Radio! I passed the tests too so here I am!”, said Aura about her new experience as a show host. Furthermore, this is not the first connection with Wacken organization for Scarlet Aura, as the band was supported by Wacken Foundation in 2018.

Aura doesn’t use only her voice as her instrument of work, as her brain also seems to be a nonstop source of great ideas and projects. For example, Aura is the managing director for a Tallinn, Estonia-based record label named Silver City Records, founded by Aura herself together with her husband and bandmate Mihai and Tatyana Shubina (from Outlanders Productions), exclusively for rock and metal bands, and if you have a band looking for an up-and-coming label you can contact them directly via Facebook or by e-mail at contact@silvercityrecords.com. She was also a guest speaker at an event held by Mastering the Music Business, the leading Romanian music conference and showcase event, where she talked about her music, her business and her vision as a a successful performing artist, manager and record label CEO that she is, and you can also hire Aura for marketing and advertising purposes as a voice actor through a website called Voices.com, where you can see our multi-talented diva has already worked for Vodafone România, real estate companies and other local advertising companies, being able not only to sing classical, rock and metal music, but also to impersonate voices from all ages in English, Romanian, French and Italian for an array of projects like animations, documentaries, movie trailers and video-games, among others. Well, in the end I think the question should be “is there something she CAN’T do?”

A lover of the simple things that make our lives more fun such as pizza, red wine, yoga, cats, writing, reading, carpentry and painting, with her favorite movie of all time being the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind and her favorite books being from English author Terry Pratchett, Aura has among her biggest idols some of the most iconic names in the history of Heavy Metal, including the one and only Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.), the unstoppable Mr. Bruce Dickinson, and Slayer’s own roaring engine Tom Araya, as well as bands like German institution Helloween, and on a more feminine side she always mentions names like the unparalled Tarja Turunen and Doro. However, Aura mentioned in one of her interviews that she always searches inside herself for the power she needs to print her own convictions, her own beliefs and of course her own voice, also mentioning her own mother as her biggest idol of all, which is just fantastic, don’t you agree? She also considers scarlet as her favorite color (which makes total sense to me),  My Own Nightmare as her favorite Scarlet Aura song, and the day she married Mihai, on September 22, 2012, as the best day of her life.

Just like any other true metalhead, our Romanian bombshell simply loves touring and performing live, always eager to promote her music to the four corners of the earth and to inspire all girls out there to join her in her female-fronted metal movement. When asked about her experience sharing the stage with her idol Tarja Turunen in 2016, considered by many as the most influential woman in modern-day metal music, she said that meeting her was really overwhelming at first, and that she was able to learn a lot from her during that tour. One funny (and somewhat stressful) episode during the tour with Tarja happened when Scarlet Aura’s crew crew lost their stage clothing luggage, forcing the band to improvise by borrowing belts, T-Shirts and make up. Moreover, Aura also has very good memories of other conerts with renowned acts of the metal scene like Accept, Doro, Nazareth, Gotthard, Helloween and Europe, showing how much all members of Scarlet Aura are connected to metal and how much they admire and are influenced by their music idols. And last but not least, when Aura was asked about the current metal scene in her birthplace Romania, she said that it has been continuously growing, getting bigger and shinier as the years go by, and that she expects it keeps getting more and more important to the world of heavy music. She complemented by saying that growth, especially her own band’s rise to stardom, wouldn’t be possible without the support of metalheads in Romania and worldwide, always praising fans like us for all support and passion we have for our good old Heavy Metal.

Aura Dănciulescu’s Official Facebook page
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Scarlet Aura’s Official Facebook page
Scarlet Aura’s Official VKontakte
Scarlet Aura’s Official Instagram
Scarlet Aura’s Official Twitter
Scarlet Aura’s Official YouTube channel

“As an artist I’m not afraid to dig into the unknown by approaching sensible subjects in our songs, subjects like the difficulty of being honest with others but also with yourself regarding your own feelings, the need of overcoming a huge sufferance that troubles you, the lack of courage when it’s about doing the right thing, the lack of love or the crying for it… subjects that make ourselves human, subjects that are in each one of us and that makes us who we are and maybe throughout our music, we get recovered, healed or better, we discover ourselves for who we really are because with any doubt music heals the spirit, metal heals the heart.” – Aura Dănciulescu

Album Review – R.U.S.T.X / Center Of The Universe (2019)

Deeply rooted into 70’s and 80’s rock and metal music, three brothers and one sister from Cyprus are unleashing upon us their sensational third full-length album.

Formed in Agioi Trimithias, a village located in the Nicosia District of Cyprus, in the year of 2003 under the name Flames In Ice, and known as R.U.S.T. from 2004 until 2014, Heavy Metal/Hard Rock four-piece act R.U.S.T.X is ready to take the world of rock and metal by storm once again with their third full-length album entitled Center Of The Universe, bringing to our avid ears truly from-the-heart and no bullshit melodic Heavy Metal with classic rocking passages highly inspired by renowned bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Warlord, Savatage, Stormwitch and Riot, their absolute passion as one can easily determine with just one listen. Comprised of three brothers and one sister, those being Peter Pan Xanthou on the guitars, George Xanthou on bass, Katerina Xanthou on keyboards and John Xanthou on drums, all four members share the vocal duties in the album, giving it an even more unique taste.

Enthusiastic and passionate about everything they do, their brand new opus will unquestionably convince old school lovers that they do mean serious business, with their outstanding positive energy and originality being accurately reflected by each of the album’s ten magnificent songs deeply rooted into 70’s and 80’s Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal. Featuring guest appearances by Paolo Nipa (Dark Quarterer) and Andrea Ramacciotti (Deadly Tide), recorded and mixed at Woodstock Recording Studio in Piombino, Italy by Andrea Ramacciotti, and displaying a magical artwork created by the amazing Chris Achilleos, known for his unique interpretation of stunning amazons, epic dragons and paintings inspired by ancient civilizations and mythology, Center Of The Universe will put you in a trance from start to finish, showing how powerful and gripping the music by R.U.S.T.X can be. “With this album we really pushed ourselves to the limit and the result is like something out of this planet. A comeback to the 70’s and 80’s era of Rock and Metal music that we so much adore,” commented the band, giving you a very good idea of the insane rock n’ roll party that’s about to begin as soon as you hit play.

Uniting the classic rock by AC/DC with the progressiveness of Rush, the Xanthou Brothers and Sister embellish the airwaves with the opening track Defendre Le Rock, showcasing a healthy and beautiful balance between the heavy riffs and piercing solos by Peter and the whimsical keys by Katerina, whereas in Running Man the quartet speeds things up and delivers sheer adrenaline in the form of music, with John taking the lead with his frantic drums while Katerina continues to blast her Deep Purple and Axel Rudi Pell-inspired keys, resulting in a true Cypriot Metal hymn. And in Black Heart the band takes us all to a journey back to the 70’s, blasting high-end Progressive Rock with George shaking the foundations of the earth with his bass. Not only that, it’s definitely very interesting how their vocal lines are always more enraged than the usual Progressive Rock and Metal acts throughout the entire song.

Then an eccentric intro grows in intensity until pure Rock N’ Roll hits us in the head in I Stand To Live, spearheaded by Katerina’s powerful vocals, and again it’s amazing how they can offer so many vocal styles in one album, not to mention their superb job on the guitars and bass (especially the flammable solos by Peter Pan); followed by Endless Skies, an upbeat composition by the band displaying classic Hard Rock infused with 80’s and 90’s elements, as well as numerous breaks and variations, presenting an amazing job done by both George and John with their rumbling instruments. And the sounds of nature and gentle voices ignite the title-track Center Of The Universe, feeling like the overture of a sonic ritual and sounding absolutely unique and experimental. Get ready for over ten minutes of complex guitar lines and classy keys, enfolding vocalizations and all of the band’s other magical sounds and tones until the song’s grand finale, turning it into a must-listen for admirers of the genre.

The electric guitars by Peter Pan dictate the rhythm in the dancing rock tune Widow’s Cry, sounding like a Hybrid between the early days of Nightwish with Doro where Katerina once again steals the spotlight with her gorgeous vocal lines, while Peter Pan’s slashing riffs and solos and George’s Iron Maiden-inspired bass lines are the icing on the cake. In Wake Up, an excellent Progressive Rock extravaganza, they sound like a younger and European version of Rush, bringing forward a fantastic work done by John with his intricate beats, and keys and riffs in total sync that will certainly warm up the listener’s heart and soul. And last but not least, the CD version of the album contains two awesome bonus tracks, starting with the headbanging rock tune Dirty Road, where the entire band breathes fire from their tuneful instruments, and Band On The Run, a sensational cover version of the song by Paul McCartney & Wings released in 1973 (check the original one HERE), where R.U.S.T.X give the song a more progressive and psychedelic vibe.

You can find Center Of The Universe available for a full and detailed listen on Spotify, but of course in order to show your utmost support to this talented family I recommend you purchase your desired version of the album from the band’s own webstore, from the Pitch Black Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and from several other locations such as Saturn.de, Apple Music, Amazon and Discogs. Also, why don’t you give them a shout on their Facebook page and also subscribe to their YouTube channel? Those are excellent ways to keep in touch with what’s certainly one of the best and most exciting bands hailing from Cyprus, and without any doubt the most united and passionate family from the underground Rock N’ Roll scene.

Best moments of the album: Running Man, I Stand To Live, Widow’s Cry and Band On The Run.

Worst moments of the album: Black Heart.

Released in 2019 Pitch Black Records

Track listing
1. Defendre Le Rock 4:51
2. Running Man 3:25
3. Black Heart 4:29
4. I Stand To Live 5:26
5. Endless Skies 4:32
6. Center Of The Universe 9:09
7. Widow’s Cry 5:38
8. Wake Up 4:45

CD bonus tracks
9. Dirty Road 4:17
10. Band On The Run (Paul McCartney & Wings cover) 5:18

Band members
Peter Pan Xanthou – guitars, vocals
George Xanthou – bass, vocals
Katerina Xanthou – keyboards, vocals
John Xanthou – drums, vocals

Guest musicians
Paolo “Nipa” Ninci – drums, percussion
Andrea Ramacciotti – guitars

Album Review – Grand Magus / Wolf God (2019)

It’s time to worship the almighty Wolf God together with one of the most talented and hardworking bands of the Swedish metal scene.

Hailing from the stunning city of Stockholm, Sweden, Heavy/Doom Metal three-piece act Grand Magus has been delivering a powerful and thrilling amalgamation of styles such as Blues, Hard Rock, Heavy and Doom Metal since their inception in the now distant year of 1999 (or even 1996 if you consider their years under the name Smack as part of their current career), gathering a respectable fanbase through the years around the entire world of heavy music. For instance, their self-titled debut album Grand Magus, released in 2001, stirred up the underground to the point it is now considered to be a cult favorite, and now in 2019 the band comprised of Janne “JB” Christoffersson on lead vocals and guitars, Mats “Fox” Skinner on bass and backing vocals, and Ludwig “Ludde” Witt on drums returns in full force with Wolf God, the ninth album in their solid career and undoubtedly one of the most interesting and epic albums of the year. Drawing influence from bands such as Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Manowar, Grand Magus are absolutely focused, sharp and heavy-as-hell in Wolf God, blasting hymn after hymn for the delight of all lovers of the golden years of classic metal music.

With the majority of the songs being recorded on the first take at The Sweetspot Recording Studio in Sweden together with producer Staffan Karlsson (Arch Enemy, Firewind, Spiritual Beggars), Grand Magus achieved an honest, diverse and yet down-to-earth sound that envelops the trio’s true power, letting the music flow naturally throughout the album’s almost 40 minutes of undisputed Heavy Metal. “We decided to let go of the current philosophy to record drums first and then bass and then guitar etc. This time, we met up, jammed and created together during the last six months with the goal to record basic tracks live,” said the band about their newborn opus, and by enfolding it with the old school, aggressive artwork by American artist Anthony J. Roberts (Blackmindseye) the trio finally reached a new level of epicness that will certainly save a spot for them among the gods of metal.

Featuring orchestrations by Swedish musician Nico “Dyngwie” Elgstrand (guitarist for Entombed A.D.), who has already played acoustic guitars in a couple of tracks from their previous albums, Gold and Glory is a classy and epic intro to the howling title-track Wolf God, where Ludde pounds his drums in great Manowar-inspired fashion while JB delivers his trademark potent vocals, resulting in an old school metal song perfect for banging our heads while worshiping the Wolf God itself. And Fox’s thunderous bass take the lead in the also majestic A Hall Clad in Gold while Ludde continues to smash his drum set vigorously, not to mention all the passion and energy flowing from JB’s vocals, especially during the song’s absolutely catchy chorus.

Traditional, utterly metallic lyrics (“Ancient forces / Sleeping deep within my heart / Been searching / Through the ages in the dark / A secret / That will put me to the test / And guide me / So much stronger than the rest”) are the main ingredient in the headbanging tune Brother of the Storm, where JB fires pure electricity from his riffs while the beats by Ludde get more rhythmic and imposing, and you better keep banging your head like there’s no tomorrow in the incendiary Dawn of Fire, another classic, stylish Heavy and Doom Metal hymn led by JB’s crisp riffs and Fox’s rumbling bass. On a side note, I saw those guys playing this excellent tune live when they opened for Amon Amarth  here in Toronto, and it sounded beyond powerful and inspiring. Then putting the pedal to the metal the trio offers the circle pit-catalyst Spear Thrower, where we can enjoy Ludde’s berserk beats supporting the always pleasant vocals by JB, being tailored for fans of classic Heavy Metal while all is spiced up by JB’s piercing solos; whereas To Live and to Die in Solitude, one of the best songs in Wolf God with highlights to JB’s passionate performance and the unstoppable drums by Ludde, couldn’t be any more epic, vibrant and electrifying, or in other words, simply close your eyes and savor each and every note of such distinct ode to metal music.

A cryptic, semi-tribal intro evolves into another riff-fest titled Glory to the Brave, a beer-drinking, headbanging creation by the trio with Fox filling all spaces in the air with his bass jabs, perfect for raising your horns in the air together with Grand Magus, whereas in the thrilling He Sent Them All to Hel the skillful JB declaims the lyrics about a hero dealing with death and darkness in the aftermath (“First light in the morning – Foul smell of decay / He stands in silence – Nothing to say / Black ravens are calling / Flying high over head / Their wine is served by the dead / Once they rode together / Now he’s alone / Filling his soul with rage”), boosted by spot-on instrumental parts, endless stamina and the classic beats by Ludde, resulting in what’s in my humble opinion one of their best battle hymns of all time. And there’s nothing better than the pure Heavy Metal flowing from Untamed to close the album on a high note, showcasing a classic riffage and wild guitar solos by JB, while Fox and Ludde are on absolute fire on bass and drums, with the music flowing smoothly and powerfully until its epic finale.

It’s time for us all to praise the Wolf God, and we can do that by enjoying one of the best albums of 2019 in full on Spotify or by purchasing a copy of it from the Hamburg Records webstore or from the Nuclear Blast webstore. At this point of their career, we can all happily rest assured Grand Magus will never sell out, which means they’ll keep offering us all, lucky metalheads, precious gems of the underworld like Wolf God, bringing all their passion and respect for the gods of metal with each and every song of their albums and, more important than that, continuing to fight for Heavy Metal no matter what, always in the name of the almighty riff.

Best moments of the album: A Hall Clad in Gold, Brother of the Storm, To Live and to Die in Solitude and He Sent Them All to Hel.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Gold and Glory 2:18
2. Wolf God 3:49
3. A Hall Clad in Gold 5:02
4. Brother of the Storm 3:16
5. Dawn of Fire 5:12
6. Spear Thrower 2:55
7. To Live and to Die in Solitude 3:41
8. Glory to the Brave 5:15
9. He Sent Them All to Hel 3:37
10. Untamed 3:46

Band members
Janne “JB” Christoffersson – lead vocals, guitars
Mats “Fox” Skinner – bass, backing vocals
Ludwig “Ludde” Witt – drums

Guest musician
Nico “Dyngwie” Elgstrand – orchestrations on “Gold and Glory”

Album Review – Rexoria / Ice Breaker (2019)

One of the most promising names of the Swedish metal scene returns with an inspiring new album that will bring you right into the dark forests and up on high mountains.

Creating an inspiring sound with various folk and power influences which will bring you right into the dark forests and up on high mountains, Jönköping, Sweden-based Melodic Metal outfit Rexoria is back in action in 2019 with a brand new opus entitled Ice Breaker, the follow-up to their 2018 installment Queen of Light and, more important than that, an album that will undoubtedly put a huge smile on the faces of fans of the music played by renowned acts like Doro, Battle Beast, Imperia, Aldaria, and several other bands that beautifully unite the electricity of traditional Heavy Metal with melodic and epic nuances. Mixed and mastered at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden by Fredrik Nordström, and featuring an epic artwork showcasing a fearless valkyrie designed by Brazilian artist Jobert Mello from Sledgehammer Graphix (who has already worked with bands like Sabaton, Primal Fear and Grenouer), Ice Breaker is the perfect depiction of everything the music crafted by vocalist and keyboardist Frida Ohlin, guitarist and bassist Jonas Gustavsson, guitarist Cristofer Svensson and drummer Martin Gustavsson represents, being at the same time heavy, fast, melodic and exhilarating, paving a very promising path for these extremely talented musicians.

The electrifying riffs by Jonas and Cristofer permeate the air in the magical Velvet Heroes, a pure Hard Rock tune taken from the 80’s with a metallic touch brought forth by Frida’s soaring vocals, making it impossible to stand still to its inspiring rhythm and pace. Drinking from the same metal fountain as the iconic Doro, Frida delivers strident, sharp vocal lines in Fight the Demons, while her bandmates blast their instruments with tons of precision and feeling, sounding like a Swedish version of Accept with a feminine vibe; then it’s time to slow things down a bit to a passionate performance by Frida and the boys in Endless Nights, where Jonas and Cristofer are on fire with their guitar solos, resulting in a beautiful power ballad to warm up our hearts before the winter arrives. And if you consider yourself a courageous person, simply head into the always dangerous wilderness with Rexoria in Into the Wild, a mid-tempo tune where the galloping bass by Cristofer together with the rhythmic drums by Martin take the lead, being tailored for admirers of the golden years of Heavy Metal.

There’s more Melodic Metal flowing from their razor-edged guitars and pounding drums in Reach for the Heavens in Time, bringing an endless amount of electricity that will inspire you to prance and sing together with the band, whereas the title-track Ice Breaker is a lesson in Melodic Metal with an important message about the dangers of climate change, with its powerful backing vocals and galloping rhythm (that bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest made famous) supporting Frida in her quest for a better world. A screaming eagle and gentle piano notes are the main ingredients in the classy instrumental bridge Wind and Rain, before Rexoria embellish the airwaves once again with their charming metal music in The Rise of the Phoenix, leaning towards the Symphonic Metal played by bands like Nightwish and Epica. Needless to say, Jonas and Cristofer have another solid performance with their guitars, not to mention the song’s epic aura crafted by Frida’s keys.

Putting the pedal to the metal the band salutes the gods of heavy music in Brothers of Asgaard, a song that has all it takes to become a fan-favorite where Frida ventures through more aggressive lands with her high-pitched vocals, also showcasing thrilling guitar solos and unstoppable beats, followed by The Raging Thunder, another song that blends the heaviness of classic metal music with the band’s ethereal and touching vibe, being highly recommended for banging your head nonstop or simply savoring Frida’s powerful vocal lines. The second to last track in Ice Breaker, titled Roaring, is by far one of the best songs of the album, a rockin’ extravaganza led by Martin’s crushing beats where it’s truly entertaining to witness Frida roaring like the she-wolf she is, alternating between rampant moments and high-octane passages. And closing the album we have Vår Verklighet (or our reality” in Swedish), featuring Swedish vocalist Niklas Isfeldt (Dream Evil), an epic composition by the band where Frida and Niklas make a fantastic vocal duet while the rest of the guys keep the music flowing nicely and powerfully, also bringing a soulful guitar solo as the icing on the cake.

In summary, the excellent Ice Breaker, which is available in full on Spotify and on sale from several locations such as the band’s own webstore, the Pride & Joy webstore, the Nuclear Blast webstore, Apple Music and Amazon, represents a huge step forward in the career of those four Swedish metallers, helping Rexoria emerge as one of the most promising names in the Melodic and Symphonic Metal scene worldwide. Hence, you can also show your support to Frida and the boys by following them on Facebook, getting connected to a band that’s not only going places, but that showcases a limitless potential to shine brighter and brighter as the years go by and, above all, with an honest and deep passion for our beloved heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Velvet Heroes, Brothers of Asgaard and Roaring.

Worst moments of the album: The Rise of the Phoenix.

Released in 2019 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Velvet Heroes 3:28
2. Fight the Demons 4:07
3. Endless Nights 4:38
4. Into the Wild 3:52
5. Reach for the Heavens in Time 5:08
6. Ice Breaker 5:38
7. Wind and Rain 1:26
8. The Rise of the Phoenix 5:04
9. Brothers of Asgaard 3:45
10. The Raging Thunder 4:12
11. Roaring 3:47
12. Vår Verklighet 4:31

Band members
Frida Ohlin – vocals, keyboards
Jonas Gustavsson – guitar, bass
Cristofer Svensson – guitar
Martin Gustavsson – drums

Guest musician
Niklas Isfeldt – vocals on “Vår Verklighet”

Album Review – Dark Station / Down in The Dark (2019)

Get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds and soaring vocals by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

In the spring of 2018, five Southern California musicians (Nathan Spades on vocals, Kyle Ort and David Bruno on the guitars, Eric Sinful on bass, and Dylan Roy on drums) came together to form a new band with the ability to seamlessly transition from crushingly heavy riffs to unforgettably haunting melodies and lyrics, leaving their respective project behind. That band is Hard Rock/Alternative Metal unity Dark Station, who are ready to unleash upon us their debut album entitled Down in the Dark, poised to cement the band’s name as a commendable force in the rock world. Put differently, get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds, soaring vocals and electrifying passages by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

A futuristic intro explodes into modern-day Alternative Metal in Ryse, where the groovy bass punches by Eric will make your head tremble while Nathan begins his enraged vocal attack amidst screeching guitar noises, resulting in a beyond solid welcome card by the band. Then drinking form the same fountain as icons like Nine Inch Nails, Marylin Manson and Korn, the quintet fires Heroes, a dark and melodic tune where Kyle and David once again pierce our ears with their riffs, not to mention its ominous aura, followed by New Age, with another wicked intro morphing into rumbling metal music, sounding very atmospheric and heavy. Moreover, Eric and his menacing bass are on fire throughout this headbanging song that perfectly depicts what modern American metal is all about. And Villain is even more alternative than all previous songs, showcasing a great job done by both Kyle and David on the guitars with their flammable riffs while Nathan’s vocals get more obscure and wicked, bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality.

No Life sounds like the music from all bands from that period where we got Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and so on, and although it might not be as vibrant as the other songs, its lyrics match perfectly with the music (“Summers eyes / Frienemies / Car exhaust  / I can’t believe / Something else was inside me / yeah  / You’ve gotta fight it alone now / It’s out of control”), whereas the born-to-be-a-radio-hit Obvious brings to our ears the utterly melodic bass punches by Eric while Nathan darkly declaims the song’s words (“We take the pain / Every day / Could we be the same / On the other side / I’ll try my luck again / Again / You know it’s not enough / For me”).After that awesome display of rock music we have Hollow, another somber, pensive creation by Dark Station where Nathan exhales melancholy from his vocals and with Dylan pounding his drums with tons of precision, also bringing crisp guitar solos and a huge dosage of anger for our total delight.

Leaning towards the most contemporary form of American Alternative Rock and Metal, Misery is a great option to be part of a soundtrack for hitting the road, with all instruments filling every single space in the air, therefore providing Nathan all he needs to thrive on vocals. Ghost keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline, flirting with Industrial Rock and Metal but keeping the band’s core essence intact. Not only that, Eric and Dylan make a very effective dynamic duo, bringing thunder to the music with their instruments; and modernized, metallic sounds keep permeating the air in Locked On, with its background futuristic touch helping enhance the impact of each instrument considerably, especially the guitars by Kyle and David alternating between more serene moments and razor-edged sounds. As their final blast of Alternative Metal, we’re treated to more of the band’s radio-ready rockin’ music in the form of Visions, where slashing riffs are powerfully complemented by the crushing bass by Eric and Dylan’s rhythmic beats, ending in a desperate and captivating way.

What are you waiting for to show those talented Southern Californians your support and appreciation? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, bang your head to their music on Spotify, and get ready to rock to the sound of Down in The Dark sooner than you think by pre-ordering your copy of the album from the band’s official website or from Apple Music. There’s a new age of American Alternative Rock and Metal coming, and based on the quality and electricity flowing from Dark Station’s debut album I’m more than certain we’ll see those guys spearheading that very welcome movement in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Ryse, Hollow and Misery.

Worst moments of the album: No Life.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Ryse 3:37
2. Heroes 4:19
3. New Age 3:09
4. Villain 3:55
5. No Life 3:09
6. Obvious 4:01
7. Hollow 3:13
8. Misery 3:00
9. Ghost 4:20
10. Locked On 3:23
11. Visions 4:34

Band members
Nathan Spades – vocals
Kyle Ort – guitar
David Bruno – guitar
Eric Sinful – bass
Dylan Roy – drums