Album Review – Guardian Of Lightning / Cosmos Tree (2020)

Behold the mighty sound of the ultra-heavy electric bass by a Brazilian power trio who praises the gods of thunder and metal in their excellent debut opus.

Known as the the herald of a new wave of metal music, curiously labeled as “Thunder Metal”, Guardian Of Lightning are a three-piece band based in São Paulo, Brazil featuring lead bassist Iron King, his father Marco Fino on vocals and rhythm guitar, and Lord Drum on drums, with their unique sound being a fresh take on the metal genre, replacing the typical lead guitar role with that of an ultra-heavy thundering electric bass. Lead bassist Iron King (yes, that is his real name) grew up surrounded by music, inspiring him to follow in the footsteps of bass legends such as Cliff Burton, Joey DeMaio and Lemmy Kilmister and, therefore, leading him to form Guardian Of Lightning back in 2017. Produced by Eurico Tavares at Stage Record Power Audio Studio, the band’s debut opus Cosmos Tree makes it clear from the very first second that the electric bass is front and center throughout the entire album, but each individual song will also bring to you a wide variety of sounds, an undeniable sync and dynamism between the band members, and of course, the magic of our beloved Heavy Metal.

The album’s atmospheric Intro will certainly invite you to the heavy world of Guardian Of Lightning, setting the tone for the epic title-track Cosmos Tree, which reminds me of the mighty sound blasted by Grand Magus infused with the rockin’ elements from the music by Motörhead, with Lord Drum dictating the rhythm with his pounding beats while Iron King shreds his bass in great fashion.  In the superb Raise Your Sword, the Mark Tornillo-like vocals by Marco walk hand in hand with the thrilling Power Metal beats and bass punches fired by Lord Drum and Iron King, respectively, also bringing hints of 70’s Progressive Rock and Metal through their intricate and thunderous bass sounds, followed by the also epic Sound of Thunder, exactly what Iron King delivers from his rumbling bass, showcasing an accelerated pace and classic riffs and lyrics, therefore resulting in an ode to all things rock and metal tailored for fans of the music by Manowar and other bands that love to add endless epicness to their creations. And once again inviting us all to bang our heads in the name of metal, the trio masterfully smashes their instruments in Aligned With the Stars, where the riffage by Marco provides an amazing support to Iron King’s metallic bass.

Then adding elements from Blues to their core sonority, the trio brings forward the beautiful Follow Your Silver Shine, where Iron King is once again majestic with his visceral and electrifying bass jabs and solos, while his father Marco showcases a fun and vibrant vocal performance from start to finish, whereas Inside of Us presents another solid fusion of Stoner, Sludge and Southern Metal with more epic styles such as classic Heavy and Power Metal, not to mention that what Iron King does with his bass is truly impressive, making our heads tremble with awe. Lord Drum begins hitting his drums harder than usual in the also rockin’ Another Place, where it’s a pleasure to witness the sonic synchronicity of father and son crushing their strings with power and dexterity, and they keep jamming with passion until the very end. Lastly, slowing things down a bit the band offers the more serene and classic Be Like the Moon, where Iron King once again showcases all his skills armed with his bass, and albeit this song is not as creative or inspiring as its predecessors, it still provides the listener a very good reason for having a cold beer and headbanging nonstop.

After taking a few detailed listens at Cosmos Tree, you’ll see it’s easy to understand what Guardian Of Lightning mean with the expression “Thunder Metal”, because that’s exactly what you’ll get throughout the album’s over 30 minutes of music, pure and mighty thunder in the form of our good old Heavy Metal, consequently paving an interesting path ahead of Iron King and his loyal henchmen for the coming years. Hence, don’t forget to follow such promising band on Facebook and on Instagram, to listen to more of their music on Spotify, and above all, to purchase your desired version of Cosmos Tree by clicking HERE, proving to the gods of thunder and metal you deserve a place right by their side in Valhalla.

Best moments of the album: Raise Your Sword, Sound of Thunder and Follow Your Silver Shine.

Worst moments of the album: Be Like the Moon.

Released in 2020 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:09
2. Cosmos Tree 5:00
3. Raise Your Sword 3:41
4. Sound of Thunder 4:17
5. Aligned With the Stars 3:29
6. Follow Your Silver Shine 3:58
7. Inside of Us 3:15
8. Another Place 4:55
9. Be Like the Moon 3:29

Band members
Marco Fino – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Iron King – lead bass guitar
Lord Drum – drums

Album Review – Ice War / Defender, Destroyer (2020)

Spelling a shift in its musical direction with a faster and more aggressive sound, this Canadian one-man army will rock your world with his classic fusion of Speed and Heavy Metal.

After the dissolution of his previous band Iron Dogs in 2015, the unstoppable Ottawa, Canada-based metaller Jo “Steel” Capitalicide (also known for his contribution to some amazing underground bands such as Aphrodite, Dexezon and Expunged) has been on a roll with his solo project entitled Ice War, releasing a stream of demos, EP’s and full-length albums at full force, culminating with the release of his fourth full-length opus now in 2020, the fulminating Defender, Destroyer. Featuring a beyond classic artwork by Canadian artist Didier Normand, the album is Jo’s personal tribute to all things Speed, Heavy and Thrash Metal with a Punk-ish, Hardcore twist, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Savage Grace, S.D.I., Razor and Iron Angel, among others, to the very first Helloween EP from 1985, spelling a shift in the project’s musical direction with a faster and more aggressive sound.

Jo begins slashing his stringed ax in great fashion in the opening track Power from Within, an ode to 80’s Thrash and Speed Metal infused with Punk Rock elements, while at the same time he pounds his drums nonstop and fires his raspy, rebellious vocals with a lot of power, followed by the thrashing title-track Defender, Destroyer, where Jo sounds even more berserk and mental, showcasing flammable riffs and rumbling bass punches while inviting us all to slam into the circle pit to the sound of his unstoppable beats. And Soldiers of Frost is even faster and more electrifying than its predecessors, with Jo giving a lesson in feeling and passion for old school metal music, resulting in the perfect composition for singing along with our talented lone wolf, not to mention how incendiary his riffs and solos are.

And there’s no sign of slowing down at all, as Jo keeps hammering our heads with his high-octane fusion of Thrash and Speed Metal with Hardcore elements in Rising from the Tomb, where it’s impressive how he sounds like a full-bodied band even being absolutely by himself. Then it’s time for a mid-tempo, headbanging metal extravaganza titled Mountains of Skulls, where Jo keeps vociferating like a beast and shredding his strings beautifully, reminding me of the early days of bands like Exodus, Metallica and Megadeth, whereas in Crucified in Fire he ventures through more traditional Heavy Metal lands, bringing forward high-pitched screams amidst his always thrilling riffage and blast beats, never letting the level of adrenaline go down and, therefore, inspiring us to keep raising our fists to his ass-kicking music. After such high-speed exhibit we’re treated to another round of classic thrashing sounds and tones in Demonoid, where Jo focuses on his strident riffs and the song’s old school lyrics, resulting in pure Speed Metal made in Canada tailored for metalheads who enjoy having a cold beer while crushing their skulls into the circle pit.

It looks like Jo is never tired of delivering tons of electricity and rebelliousness through his music, which is also the case in the Punk Rock-infused tune Skull and Crossbones, presenting a rumbling atmosphere due to his metallic bass punches and reverberating drums, and in Running Out of Time, with his vocals getting more and more enraged and inebriate, sounding as one of his biggest personal tributes to metal from the 80’s, bringing to our ears vicious riffs and solos while the rhythm remains as insane as possible thanks to his hellish blast beats. Finally, there’s nothing better to properly close an album then with a groovy and insurgent hymn the likes of Breakaway, where Jo generates a rowdy ambience with his unstoppable guitars, bass and drums, building the perfect atmosphere for delivering his classic roars, ending Defender, Destroyer in a very melodic and epic way for our vulgar delectation.

You can show your support to this talented one-man army hailing from Canada by following Ice War on Facebook and on Instagram, by listening to more of his classic metal music on Spotify, and above all that, by purchasing your copy of Defender, Destroyer from the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page or from the Xtreem Music webstore sooner than you can say “Speed Metal”, keeping the unrelenting Jo “Steel” Capitalicide pumped up and ready to rock wherever he goes. Defender, Destroyer has no artificial elements, no special effects, nor any kind of innovation; it’s a straightforward, in-your-face album of classic Speed Metal deeply rooted in the 80’s, and that’s precisely what Jo needed to bring forth in his new album to truly shine. Well, let’s say that he more than succeeded in that, taking us all on a frantic and vibrant journey to the 80’s and, consequently, putting a huge smile on the faces of everyone who loves the music from that glorious decade from the bottom of their metal hearts.

Best moments of the album: Defender, Destroyer, Soldiers of Frost and Demonoid.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. Power from Within 3:00
2. Defender, Destroyer 3:31
3. Soldiers of Frost 4:09
4. Rising from the Tomb 4:02
5. Mountains of Skulls 4:23
6. Crucified in Fire 3:56
7. Demonoid 3:58
8. Skull and Crossbones 3:27
9. Running Out of Time 3:21
10. Breakaway 4:40

Band members
Jo “Steel” Capitalicide – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Grave Digger / Fields of Blood (2020)

One of the most influential and pioneering bands of the German scene celebrates 40 years of their undisputed Heavy Metal on a journey back to the vastness of the Scottish Highlands.

Standing tall as one of the most influential and pioneering bands of the German Heavy Metal scene since their inception in the early 80’s, Gladbeck’s own Power Metal institution Grave Digger is celebrating their 40th anniversary in great fashion with the release of their 20th studio album, entitled Fields of Blood, the logic consequence of a legendary trilogy which started in 1996 with the breathtaking Tunes of War and an auditory battle of unique traditional metal, continuing their epic Highlands story. One thing I must say is that although most fans of the band had a very good time with their latest albums Return of the Reaper, Healed by Metal and The Living Dead, it’s when the band comprised of the iconic frontman Chris Boltendahl and his henchmen Axel Ritt on the guitars, Jens Becker on bass and Marcus Kniep on drums takes us into the vastness of Scotland on a journey through explosive sound landscapes that they truly thrive. Featuring a classy, old school artwork by Russian artist Alexander Tartsus, Fields of Blood even had some of its parts recorded in the Scottish Highlands, giving an extra touch of epicness to their no-frills, traditional brand of metal with unwavering pure steel, which nevertheless offers surprises, celebrating such a special anniversary of one of the most successful German Heavy Metal acts in the most glorious style.

Featuring very special guests Les Tambours du Bronx, the intro The Clansman’s Journey showcases a stunning combination of their tribal beats with the strident sound of the bagpipes, resulting in one of the most inspiring intros I’ve ever heard in my life, therefore warming up our senses for a feast of classic, warlike Grave Digger tunes starting with All for the Kingdom, where Marcus dictates the rhythm with his fierce beats while Axel and Jens slash their strings majestically, all of course spearheaded by Chris and his trademark raspy vocals. Then we’re treated to Lions of the Sea, the battle of the Scots against the Vikings translated into fist-raising Power Metal made in Germany, a song that should sound amazing when played live especially due to its catchy, rebellious chorus, not to mention the crisp riffage by Alex, who also kicks some serious ass in the inspiring tune Freedom, an ode to William Wallace’s famous speech where the whole bands speeds things up providing us all we need to head into the battlefield, with Chris delivering a superb vocal performance supported by the song’s spot-on backing vocals.

And Les Tambours du Bronx are back to add an extra kick to the already piercing sound of the bagpipes in The Heart of Scotland, where Chris declaims the song’s words with tons of feeling (“Raise your voices – raise your fists / For the king – the pride of our nation / Praise him and kneel – a will strong as steel / He carries the heart of Scotland / Praise him and kneel – a will strong as steel / He carries the heart of Scotland”) while the music remains slow, steady and dark from start to finish. After such imposing composition, the band brings forward Thousand Tears, a gentle and melancholic ballad that only Grave Digger can offer us featuring the unrelenting Finnish she-wolf Noora Louhimo, and as Chris and Noora have a sensational vocal duet I personally hope she can join the band on stage for a few concerts in the near future. In Union of the Crown they get back to their traditional (and I would even say their most traditional) sonority, with Chris singing with a lot of rage and power while Markus continues to pound his drums mercilessly, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Jens, whereas it’s impossible to stand still to the beer-drinking battle hymn entitled My Final Fight, where Chris screams and shouts the song’s lyrics flawlessly (“The battle began in the morning light / Five thousand gathered for the fight / Tired, exhausted we stood side by side / Welcomed the English with brave and pride”). Put differently, it’s time to prance around the fire, raise your swords and praise our beloved Heavy Metal together with those Teutonic metallers.

Grave Digger Fields of Blood Wooden Box

Then more of their trademark metal music comes in Gathering of the Clans, a song about the unity of the Highland clans and their will to fight for their freedom until the very end, with Alex sounding infernal with his razor-edged riffs and solos while the atmosphere is spiced up by the rebellious bagpipes by guests Hans Grothusen, Paul Grothe and Florian Bohm. After that, be prepared to bang your heads like dauntless highlanders in the rockin’ extravaganza titled Barbarian, where Alex’s riffs are beautifully complemented by the thunderous kitchen by Jens and Marcus, sounding as if the whole song was taken from one of their epic albums from the 90’s, followed by the title-track Fields of Blood, where a sensational bagpipe-infused intro evolves into ten minutes of pure Grave Digger with Chris, Alex, Jens and Marcus being on fire with their respective sonic weapons, guiding the music smoothly and with an endless amount of epicness and fire until the very end. By the way, the song’s closing moments are not only climatic, but also somber, captivating and as metallic as they can be, putting a pensive ending to the battle before the symphonic and cinematic outro Requiem for the Fallen embraces us all and provides us moments of peace in the aftermath, allowing us to grieve for the countless fallen bodies of all brave Scotsmen who died fighting for their freedom.

If you have what it takes to join Grave Digger in their quest for freedom in the Highlands, you can enjoy Fields of Blood in it entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, watch Chris and his loyal bandmates talking about each and every track from the album on a special series on YouTube by clicking HERE, HERE and HERE, and of course purchase your desired version of this grandiose album of metal music by clicking HERE, such as the insanely awesome Wooden Box strictly limited to 300 units including the digipak CD version of the album, a bonus live DVD titled “Live in Japan”, a special Highland flask and a black 7″ single. Also, don’t forget to follow Grave Digger on Facebook and on Instagram, staying up to date with everything that surrounds the band such as their new releases, live concerts and other nice-to-know details. I’m absolutely thrilled this unstoppable Teutonic army decided to return to the Highlands once again in celebration of their 40th anniversary, filling our hearts and souls with their inspiring tunes of war and freedom, and I can’t wait to see what Chris Boltendahl & Co. will offer us in their future albums if they decide to stay in Scotland for a little longer, hopefully bringing to our avid ears more of their undisputed Heavy Metal for many years (and decades) to come.

Best moments of the album: All for the Kingdom, Freedom, My Final Fight and Barbarian.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. The Clansman’s Journey 1:27
2. All for the Kingdom 4:10
3. Lions of the Sea 3:58
4. Freedom 4:53
5. The Heart of Scotland 5:19
6. Thousand Tears 4:57
7. Union of the Crown 3:58
8. My Final Fight 4:09
9. Gathering of the Clans 3:57
10. Barbarian 3:43
11. Fields of Blood 10:10
12. Requiem for the Fallen 3:00

Band members
Chris Boltendahl – vocals
Axel Ritt – guitars
Jens Becker – bass
Marcus Kniep – drums

Guest musicians
Noora Louhimo – female vocals on “Thousand Tears”
John Jaycee Cujpers, Olaf Senkbeil, Andreas von Lippinski & Hacky Hackmann – backing vocals
Les Tambours du Bronx – percussion on “The Clansman’s Journey” and “The Heart of Scotland”
H.P. Katzenburg – keyboards on “Thousand Tears”
Hans Grothusen, Paul Grothe & Florian Bohm – bagpipes, uilleann pipes

Interview – Silver Nightmares

It’s time to dive into the progressive dreams of Italian rockers Silver Nightmares in this exclusive interview where they talk about their debut EP The Wandering Angel, their biggest challenges as a band and their main influences in music.

Alessio Maddaloni and Gabriele Esposito (Silver Nightmares)

The Headbanging Moose: First of all, thank you guys for the interview. Let’s start with a very simple question, which is who is Silver Nightmares? Could you please talk a little about the band, your origins and your mission?

Alessio Maddaloni: It’s a real pleasure for us! Thank you for the interview and for your support!  The band was formed in Palermo in 2018 by bassist Gabriele Esposito, keyboardist Gabriele Taormina and me on drums. It was a “strange meeting” ’cause we were involved in another band! We had “different views” with the leader of the band, we were quite unsatisfied, so we decided to split and to create a new band. We know it’s impossible to make something “unique” in music but we wanted to mix our various influences to create a “recognizable trademarked sound”. This is our mission 😉

THM: Why has the band gone through so many lineup changes in such a short period of time, as Silver nightmares was just formed a couple of years ago? I mean, what was the main reason for having an unstable lineup until now?

AM: Here in Palermo there are a lot of great musicians but it’s difficult to meet someone interested in creating unreleased music. We, the founders, coexist harmoniously but we were searching for motivated and “enthusiastic people” to play with. We went through several configurations (that’s why we turned our first moniker from “Silver Dreams” to the new one “Silver Nightmares”) until arriving at our current line-up with Mimmo Garofalo (guitars), who some years ago played with Gabriele Taormina in a prog band called Bright Horizon, and Michele Vitrano (vocals) and Tody Nuzzo (guitars), who played with me and Gabriele Esposito in a heavy metal cover band (HM80).

THM: You’ve just released your debut album, entitled The Wandering Angel. Can you give us more details about the album? What’s the main idea or theme behind it, and how happy is the band with the final result?

Gabriele Esposito: Our concept album is about the loss of the human spirituality. Being spiritual to us is more than being religious. Whereas the word “religion” generally refers to organized forms of worship and a wider faith community, “spiritual” often describes people’s private individual beliefs. “Our wandering angel” is coming from a distant star, the star of life. He falls down from heaven and begins its path on earthly contamination. Between heroes of the past and shrewd characters nowadays the real meter of his research will be the journey into the universe. We’re really happy of the result we achieved! We would like to thank all the magazines, fanzines, radio broadcasting for their support.

THM: As a fully independent band, what were the main issues you faced during the recording of The Wandering Angel, and what went better than expected? I’m sure you have a ton of “lessons learned” to share with us.

GE: Well said! It’s not easy for fully independent artists to make the most of every recording session and it is very important to make the right choices. For the pre-production of the EP, we worked out as much as we could before stepping into the studio. Fortunately, we contacted some professionals for the recording, mixing and for the mastering of our work. We didn’t want a “prefabricated sound” (I mean no drum triggers). Of course, there were some mistakes too but as a first studio experience, we think our final result was pretty good.

THM: The entire album carries a very pleasant and cohesive vibe, with each song maintaining pretty much the same level of electricity and a polished yet raw sonority. How did you guys manage to reach such high level of quality and professionalism in your debut album?

Album Review – Silver Nightmares / The Wandering Angel EP (2020)

GE: Thanks indeed for your compliments! We tried to do our best. Well, as I said before, our EP is a concept album so all the songs are interconnected. For us this was achieved through our central lyrical theme. It was very natural to keep a cohesive vibe and quite the same level of electricity. I mean it was not a deliberate choice… Music guided our journey 🙂 I think this could be our trademark in the future: Let the music guide you and everything will be fine!

THM: One of the songs of the album, D.D. (Dick Dastardly), is obviously your personal tribute to one of the greatest villains in the history of cartoons. How did you come up with the idea of paying a tribute to such unique character, and when and how did you decide it was going to be an instrumental track?

AM: Such is my passion for this cartoon!! 🙂 As you said, Dick is one of the greatest villains in the history of cartoons. He is dishonest, selfish and unsportsmanlike. He definitely wants to win! In life there are a lot of people like him… who fail from the start… About the track… we decided it was going to be an instrument track following the advice of Mimmo Garofalo. We had already written the lyrics but we liked his suggestion and we changed our minds.

THM: How’s the current rock and metal scene in your hometown Palermo and in the entire Sicily? I’m pretty sure that now with all this COVID-19 situation not only the bands but also the venues all over Italy might be struggling to survive. Are you guys experiencing the same issues right now, and how are you dealing with that?

GE: Yep 😦 Fortunately the curve has started to descend and the death toll is also starting to drop. Here in Italy all the venues were closed and there was no chance to rehearse. We stand waiting for better times. During this period of lockdown we began writing new stuff for a full length album and we tried to promote our EP the best we could.

THM: What your main inspirations in music and in life in general? Also, which bands do you dream of sharing the stage one day in Italy, or which rock and metal festivals do you dream of playing anywhere in the world?

Gabriele Taormina: We are music addicted! We have a lot of different influences and tastes. Alessio likes a lot bands like Testament, Judas Priest, Savatage, Annihilator, Marillion, Transiberian Orchestra, Anvil, Jethro Tull. Gabriele Esposito loves fusion but also bands like Supertramp, Toto, Beatles, Iron Maiden, King Crimson, Triumph, Peter Gabriel. I’m mostly into the Prog/A.O.R scene I love Kansas, Queensryche, Ten, Asia, Anathema, Dream Theater, Katatonia, Rush, the Swedish prog etc… I think it could be interesting to share the stage with some of the Italian prog bands. As you know, there is a great “progressive rock” tradition here in Italy. It would be awesome too to play our music in ENGLAND. The homeland of progressive rock 😉 Well, about metal festivals…Progfest, Wacken, Hellfest? 🙂 Why not? 🙂 I have many things to say and write but I’ll stop here, even because dreaming doesn’t cost anything! 🙂

Gabriele Taormina (Silver Nightmares)

THM: How was your agenda before the lockdown began due to COVID-19? Was the band being scheduled to play all over Sicily, Italy and anywhere else? And what are your plans for after this crisis is over?

GT: We were starting to rehearse with a stable line-up in view of some dates/festivals here to play all over Sicily. We hope this crisis will be over soon! As Gabriele Esposito said, during the lockdown we also began writing songs for the new Cd. We already have some interesting stuff 🙂 We hope to rehearse soon. Time will tell 🙂

THM: Once again, thank you very much for spending some time with us. Please feel free to share anything you want with our readers, including where they can buy your music, and I hope to hear more from Silver Nightmares in a not-so-distant future!

GT: Thank you for the opportunity you have given us today to discuss and to introduce Silver Nightmares! Our EP is available on all the digital stores and CD format (but it’s a special limited edition, 300 copies). We’re also on Bandcamp. If some of your readers is interested in our EP. It’s quite simple to order it! You just need to contact us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Bandcamp or to check the site of the italian label Artewiva. Prog on! 😉

Links
Silver Nightmares Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music | BandCamp

Album Review – Senescere / Alive But Somewhere Else (2020)

Focusing on struggling with the pain of loss, the new album by this Maryland-based metal band reflects all the dynamism and difficulties faced during all stages of grief.

Originally formed as an instrumental and acoustic solo project by vocalist and guitarist Alden Bradstock (Seventh Seal) in 2014, Westminster, Maryland-based Melodic Death Metal act Senescere grew into a full band with the addition of three new members in 2016, Nathan Heavel on bass, Andy Stark on drums and Josh Clark on additional vocals (all from bands such as Seventh Seal and Vestascension), allowing Alden to expand the band’s musical reach to a more aggressive and abrasive sound in their brand new opus Alive But Somewhere Else. Produced by Alden and Josh themselves, engineered and mixed by Josh at Dark Hollow Studio, mastered by Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studio, and featuring a stylish cover photograph by Mandy Martz Chappell, the album focuses on struggling with grief, turning to unhealthy sources of comfort and creating a false sense of happiness to deal with a loss. As stated by Alden himself, “loss and aging have been the central theme of this project since the beginning. I think I’ll always find some inspiration there, and new ways of looking at the pain and struggles it can bring. There are all kinds of faces and stages of grief. It’s dynamic, it isn’t always dark and miserable. It’s deceptive and difficult to categorize. I wanted the music to reflect this somehow, and I think that’s why I enjoy mixing multiple styles and varying intensity in the songwriting. It’s allowed to be extra melodic and catchy at times, just as it’s allowed to dive into blasting drums and tremolo picking if the song calls for it.”

And the smooth guitar lines by Alden ignite the atmospheric intro Freezing Of The Hillside, setting the stage for the band to stun us all in Lost In The Cold, where Alden’s deep guttural roars walk hand in hand with the classic beats by Andy, blending elements from Groove and Progressive Metal with their trademark Melodic Death Metal. Then speeding things up and enhancing their rage the quartet blasts the thrilling The Low Clouds, bringing forward dark and pensive lyrics (“Here I, as a loner / Do feel the texture of the edge / Tracing paths for days on end / A crisp and jagged line / So easy to step over / So welcoming to fall from”) and the usual strength and fury from Scandinavian metal, followed by Alive, clearly inspired by the modern and melodic metal music played by bands like Insomnium and Amorphis, with Alden growling with tons of anguish while Nathan and Andy give a lesson in groove and intricacy with their respective instruments, not to mention Josh’s spot on backing vocals.

After such powerful display of metal music, simply sit down, relax and let the enfolding lines from the instrumental piece Melted penetrate deep inside your mind before a wall of sounds smashes your senses in the fantastic Resonate, where Alden’s crisp riffs are beautifully complemented by the low-tuned bass by Nathan, exhaling progressiveness and feeling and all spiced by Alden’s piercing guitar solo; whereas Alden and Josh make a fantastic vocal duet in Aging Affinity, blending the visceral and violent sounds of classic Death Metal with the harmony and complexity of more modern styles, ending in a cryptic and atmospheric way. Heartspace is perfect for slamming into the circle pit while at the same time enjoying the sharp and intricate beats by Andy and the thunderous bass lines by Nathan, resulting in another ode to contemporary Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal that ends up warming up our senses for almost ten minutes of Senescere’s wicked music in Moon And Sun, where the band’s razor-edged riffs, pounding drums and obscure vocals invite the listener to an exciting metal voyage in what’s by far the most progressive and detailed of all songs, even bringing hints of Black Metal and putting an introspective and climatic ending to the album.

Highly recommended for fans of the melodic and pensive heavy music played by renowned acts the likes of Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis, Opeth, Katatonia and Insomnium, among several others, Alive But Somewhere Else can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to Alden and his henchmen you should definitely purchase a copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their classy music, helping you cope with loss and pain to the sound of our beloved Heavy Metal and, therefore, keeping Alden and his Senescere beyond inspired to create more of their multi-layered and meaningful music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Lost In The Cold, The Low Clouds and Resonate.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Freezing Of The Hillside 2:54
2. Lost In The Cold 4:12
3. The Low Clouds 5:36
4. Alive 3:36
5. Melted 2:13
6. Resonate 3:54
7. Aging Affinity 4:26
8. Heartspace 3:55
9. Moon And Sun 9:34

Band members
Alden Bradstock – guitars, vocals
Nathan Heavel – bass
Andy Stark – drums
Josh Clark – additional vocals

Album Review – Sven Gali / 3 EP (2020)

The time is now for one of the pioneers of Canadian Hard Rock to strike again with their first studio release in 25 years.

Formed in the distant year of 1987 in Niagara Falls, a Canadian city at the famous waterfalls of the same name, the old school unity that goes by the name of Sven Gali is known in for bringing the 80’s and 90’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal wave to Canada, with their 1992 self-titled debut album leading them to play from coast to coast and across the United States and Europe for the following decade. Now in 2020, after a long recording hiatus that lasted from their 1995 album Inwire until the release of their 2018 single Kill The Lies, the band comprised of founding members Dave Wanless on vocals, Andy Frank on the guitar and Shawn Minden on bass, as well as newcomers Sean Williamson on the guitars and Dan Fila on drums, is ready to rock our world once again with a brand new EP simply titled 3, presenting a slightly new musical style flirting with modernized and edgy rock music while at the same time remaining loyal to their Hard Rock roots.

Those hard rockers don’t waste a single second and begin blasting a contemporary version of their classic sonority in Kill The Lies, with Shawn’s bass punches and Dan’s beats providing Dave all he needs to shine on vocals, followed by another straightforward Heavy Rock tune titled You Won’t Break Me, released as a single in 2019, with the guitars by Andy and Sean overflowing heaviness and groove, also feeling like a hybrid between the music by Motley Crüe and Alice In Chains while sounding a lot more alternative than their usual songs. Then it’s time to scream and shout with the boys in the electrifying Now, where Dave sounds amazing with both his high-pitched roars and his deeper vocals while his bandmates generate a dense and captivating ambience, also presenting sharper-than-a-knife guitar riffs and solos for our total delight; whereas the excellent Hurt is another groovy and melodic composition where Andy, Sean and Shawn smash their strings in great fashion accompanied by the pounding beats by Dan, also showcasing Dave’s heaviest vocal performance of the EP. Needless to say, as a longtime metalhead this is by far my favorite song of their comeback (and hopefully a path they will follow in the coming years). In addition, depending on what version of the EP you get, you might still be treated to an edited version of the song Now made to be played on any Rock N’ Roll radio station worldwide.

As a Canadian webzine that’s truly proud of all the amazing rock and metal bands from the Great White North, we at The Headbanging Moose are beyond thrilled with the return of Sven Gali not only to the stages in Canada and anywhere else in the world where good rock music is truly appreciated, but in special with the fact the band is writing and recording new music like what they have to offer us all in their new EP 3, marking the beginning of a new and exciting era for such important band of the Canadian rock and metal scene. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram to keep updated on all things Sven Gali, including their tour dates, subscribe to their YouTube channel and visit them on Spotify for more of their music, and keep an eye on the RFL Records webstore because sooner than later the entertaining EP 3 will be available for purchase. The time is now for Sven Gali to rock our world once again, with their short and sweet brand new EP being a solid statement that although the band might have been gone for a while, they still have a lot of fuel to burn in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Now and Hurt.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 RFL Records

Track listing
1. Kill The Lies 3:39
2. You Won’t Break Me 3:40
3. Now 4:59
4. Hurt 3:10

Bonus track
5. Now (Radio Edit) 3:32

Band members
Dave Wanless – vocals
Andy Frank – guitars
Sean Williamson – guitars
Shawn Minden – bass
Dan Fila – drums

Album Review – Axel Rudi Pell / Sign of the Times (2020)

Time doesn’t seem to be an issue at all for this German guitar virtuoso, as he keeps on rockin’ the nation with another round of his first-class fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock.

It looks like the one and only guitar virtuoso Axel Rudi Pell and his henchmen Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Volker Krawczak on bass, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards and Bobby Rondinelli on drums will keep on rockin’ the nation for many decades to come based on the electrifying fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock found in Sign of the Times, the 19th studio album in the band’s impressive career, keeping up with their own stream of one studio album every two years and always delivering first-class music like what they did in 2018 with Knights Call, in 2016 with Game of Sins, in 2014 with Into the Storm, and so on. As a matter of fact, you’ll need to go back over 30 years to fully appreciate the entire work of such talented Bochum, Germany-based guitarist, not to mention the over 1.7 million albums sold worldwide as the perfect indicator of how awesome his music is. Hence, his consistency enjoys more and more respect and appreciation within the hard and heavy community as the years go by, with Sign of the Times proving once again why he has (deservedly) become a true legend among guitar players and all types of metalheads from all over the world, even without accepting such honorable title.

As soon as you hit play, get ready to have your senses invaded by The Black Serenade, a cinematic intro that’s always part of their albums, warming us up for the incendiary Gunfire, where Axel begins slashing his strings in great fashion as usual accompanied by Ferdy’s 70’s-inspired keys and the potent beats by Bobby. Needless to say, Johnny is absolutely superb on vocals, yet again showing us all that their best songs always burn such as “Burning Chains”, “Fire”, and now this amazing composition. Then we have Bad Reputation, a lesson in classic Hard Rock led by Axel’s trademark riffs and the always crisp vocals by Johnny, also bringing a very pleasant pace and vibe and a beyond catchy chorus, all spiced up by the sharp and precise guitar solos by Axel; followed by the title-track Sign Of The Times, where an atmospheric intro is gradually boosted by metallic riffs, classic drums and the rumbling bass by Volker. Put differently, simply relax and enjoy over seven minutes of top-of-the-line Hard Rock that’s at the same time slow, steady and always great to listen to.

Speeding things up a bit the quintet fires the solid The End Of The Line, showcasing Bobby’s old school drumming while Axel and Johnny complement each other’s incendiary performances flawlessly, resulting in another amazing choice for their live concerts, whereas in As Blind As A Fool Can Be it’s time for one of their trademark, classy ballads, where we’re all invited to hold our loved ones tight and enjoy their smooth and gentle musicality while Johnny gives a lesson in passion and reach with his unique voice. And Ferdy takes the energy of his magical keys to a whole new level in Wings Of The Storm, a mid-tempo tune where Johnny tells a thrilling story through his soaring vocal lines while his bandmates generate a well-balanced and captivating ambience in the background, maintaining the album at an absurd level of quality, groove and feeling.

How about one more thrilling Rock N’ Roll ride with the boys? That’s what you’re going to get in Waiting For Your Call, utterly loyal to their own traditions and living up to the legacy of bands such as Bon Jovi, Heart and Journey, with Volker, Ferdy and Bobby being spot-on with their fiery instruments, providing Johnny all he needs to shine on vocals. Following such fun tune, a Reggae-inspired intro beautifully spearheaded by Johnny and Axel soon morphs into a 70’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal extravaganza à la Rainbow titled Living In A Dream, bringing to our avid ears amazing performances by all band members, in special Ferdy with his whimsical keys, and showing a more alternative side of Axel while at the same time keeping his core essence intact. And last but not least, a fusion of epicness and dexterity concludes the album in Into The Fire, where Axel’s riffs sound insanely mesmerizing, therefore showcasing all his talent and skills as the fantastic guitarist that he is. Furthermore, this is such a gorgeous tune that I wish it was even longer and more atmospheric than its final shape and form just to provide us more time to enjoy Axel’s stunning music.

Sign of the Times Vinyl Boxset

I don’t think I need to tell you that if you consider yourself a diehard fan of classic rock and metal, you definitely need to purchase Sign of the Times, right? And you can do so by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of the album, with the deluxe vinyl boxset (which comes with a wall clock, a digipak CD version of the album, a double-LP gatefold in different colours, a magnet, a button, an A1 double sided poster, an A5 photo card and a sticker, all strictly limited to 1000 copies) being undoubtedly your go-to version of it. Also, don’t forget to give Mr. Axel Rudi Pell a shout on Facebook showing your respect and admiration for the amazing music he always brings to us fans, with Sign of the Times keeping the flames of such unparalleled guitarist and his loyal bandmates burning bright for the next couple of years until we see more of his stylish metal music. And as you might have already noticed, saying he’ll stun us once again with his captivating creations is not just a simple desire or a dream, but the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Best moments of the album: Gunfire, Bad Reputation, The End Of The Line and Living In A Dream.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 SPV/Steamhammer

Track listing
1. The Black Serenade (Intro) 1:40
2. Gunfire 5:21
3. Bad Reputation 5:41
4. Sign Of The Times 7:10
5. The End Of The Line 5:22
6. As Blind As A Fool Can Be 6:14
7. Wings Of The Storm 5:48
8. Waiting For Your Call 5:34
9. Living In A Dream 5:59
10. Into The Fire 6:01

Band members
Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – guitar
Volker Krawczak – bass
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli – drums

Album Review – Trivium / What The Dead Men Say (2020)

It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.

Three years after the release of the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, the unrelenting Matt Heafy on lead vocals and guitar, Corey Beaulieu on guitar and backing vocals, Paolo Gregoletto on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Alex Bent on drums and percussion, collectively known as Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium, return with another round of their always cohesive and breathtaking heavy music in What The Dead Men Say, the ninth studio album and another awesome addition to their undisputed career. Recorded at Studio 606 West in Northridge, Los Angeles, California, engineered, mixed and produced by Josh Wilbur, and mastered by Ted Jensen, What The Dead Men Say brings forward a myriad of styles and sounds that will please fans of all phases of the band, from Melodic Death Metal to Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Thrash Metal and Deathcore. “We’ve found a really great place to exist in this world. We love Melodic Death Metal, we love Death and Black Metal, and we love Hardcore. What the Dead Men Say is everything we do on one record,” commented Matt about their newborn spawn.

Furthermore, like The Sin and the Sentence, the lyrical content on What The Dead Men Say was inspired by modern aspects of life, with the album’s title being taken from a science fiction novella of the same name written by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in Worlds of Tomorrow magazine in June 1964. For instance, “Catastrophist” deals with the theme of humanity in a crisis, “Amongst the Shadows & the Stones” is about the horrors of war, “The Defiant” was inspired by R. Kelly’s documentary and abuse-enabling, “Bending the Arc to Fear” talks about the surveillance aspect of modern society, and so on, with the closing song “The Ones We Leave Behind” being about “running over” people to succeed in life, delivering a powerful message and portraying a whole new meaning in the wake of the 2019–2020 COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, it was more than obvious that the fusion of a precise and powerful music with meaningful lyrics would result in another future classic by Trivium, leaving us eager for more of their always-evolving and never-repetitive music in the years yet to come.

As soon as you hit play, the cinematic instrumental intro IX (a clear reference to the fact that What The Dead Men Say is their ninth full-length album) sets the stage for Matt & Co. to kick some ass with the title-track What the Dead Men Say, where Alex begins crushing his drums with tons of precision and fury accompanied by the scorching riffs by Matt and Corey. Bringing elements from the Progressive and Groove Metal by bands like Lamb Of God added to their core musicality, this is indeed an excellent way to start their new opus, followed by Catastrophist, one of the previously released singles of the album, keeping the groove and electricity flowing from start to finish. Moreover, its razor-edged riffs remind me of some of their compositions from their 2013 album Vengeance Falls, while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his sick bass jabs.

Then it’s time to go absolutely mental to the sound of Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, by far my favorite of all songs, presenting their trademark riffage and solos, intricate beats, tons of breaks and variations and an endless amount of violence in a hybrid of Groove, Heavy and Thrash Metal, with Matt rabidly roaring the song’s lyrics (“Bloodied corpses, broken bones reveal / A throng of clashes crushed, our nightmare sealed / Amongst the shadows and the stones”), whereas the semi-ballad Bleed Into Me, despite the solidness of the instrumental pieces (in special Paolo’s somber bass lines), doesn’t really click and falls flat after a while, but there’s nothing to worry about as this is the only low (or maybe I should say less intense) point of the entire album. And back to their usual high-octane mode the quartet fires the also amazing The Defiant, showcasing Iron Maiden-inspired guitars walking hand in hand with the vicious beats by Alex while at the same time presenting a great balance between Matt’s clean vocals and harsh screams. As a matter of fact, could this be an “alternate” version or a sequel to their classic “The Deceived” due to the sonic similarity between both songs? That’s a question only Matt, Corey, Paolo and Alex can answer, of course.

In the top-of-the-line Sickness Unto You a mellow and melancholic start gradually morphs into a violent metal feast by Trivium, with sheer rage flowing form Matt’s vocals while he and Corey demolish our ears with their razor-edged riffs, both supported by the always thunderous bass by Paolo, whereas Scattering the Ashes can be considered a good example of how diverse their new album is by blending the music from Silence In The Snow with In Waves, once again presenting a solid instrumental and spot-on backing vocals overflowing pure anguish. Then we’re treated to more of their always cryptic lyrics (“A strain of vigilance / Deep roots that all connect / We wait so diligent / Watching you / Watching you”) in Bending the Arc to Fear, starting in a Black and Thrash Metal-ish vibe and sounding perfect for slamming into the pit to the sound of the bestial drums by Alex. On a side note, I personally love the strident and metallic sound of their stringed axes throughout the entire album, enhanced by its crisp and polished overall production. Lastly, closing the album the quartet offers us all the melodic and vibrant The Ones We Left Behind, featuring the rumbling bass by Paolo accompanied by the stunning beats and fills by Alex while Matt and Corey give a lesson in riffs and feeling, concluding the album in a powerful and effective manner.

After listening to What The Dead Men Say in its entirety for a few times, you’ll quickly notice how not only the band’s technique and professionalism, but also their synchronicity, have been growing stronger and stronger through the years, pointing to an even brighter future for Matt and his bandmates in a near future and, therefore, positioning Trivium as one of the driving forces of modern-day metal music, never sounding tiresome nor predictable at all with each one of their releases. Hence, go check what the boys are up to on Facebook and on Instagram (especially because they’re all very active users of most social media platforms), subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, grab your copy of such entertaining album from the Warner Music webstore or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album (and if you have some extra money go for the Japanese Edition of the album, as it contains two very special acoustic versions for the songs “Bleed Into Me” and “Scattering the Ashes”), raising your horns, banging your head and listening to what the (un)dead men from Trivium have to say through their unparalleled music.

Best moments of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, The Defiant, Sickness Unto You and The Ones We Left Behind.

Worst moments of the album: Bleed Into Me.

Released in 2020 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. IX 1:59
2. What the Dead Men Say 4:45
3. Catastrophist 6:28
4. Amongst the Shadows & the Stones 5:40
5. Bleed Into Me 3:49
6. The Defiant 4:29
7. Sickness Unto You 6:14
8. Scattering the Ashes 3:25
9. Bending the Arc to Fear 4:46
10. The Ones We Left Behind 4:57

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Bleed Into Me (Acoustic version) 3:45
12. Scattering the Ashes (Acoustic version) 3:04

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Funeral Radio (2020)

Turn up the volume to 666 on your (funeral) radio and let one of the best Italian covens of all time embrace your soul with their undisputed rock and metal music.

It has been truly exciting to witness the rise and evolution of Rome, Italy-based Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal outfit Witches Of Doom since their inception in 2013, starting with their 2014 debut album Obey, followed by their 2016 sophomore installment Deadlights, and now with their third full-length opus titled Funeral Radio, by far their most cohesive and strong album to date. Currently comprised of frontman Danilo “Groova” Piludu, guitarist Federico “Fed” Venditti, and newcomers Saiax on bass and Francesco Ciacciarelli on drums (although the bass and drums in the album were recorded by Jacopo Cartelli and Luca Iovieno, respectively), the band offers in Funeral Radio everything a fan of the music by renowned acts like Danzig, Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, Joy Division and Moonspell can ask for. Recorded and mixed at Hombre Lobo and DaBox Studios in Rome, featuring a stylish artwork by Italian artist Carlo Muselli and keyboards by guest Fabio Reeks Recchia, Funeral Radio will paint new dark scenarios standing at the deep heart of each listener, showcasing all the passion this Italian institution nurtures for somber and heavy music.

Jacopo ignites the band’s doomed party with his rumbling bass in Master Of Depression, accompanied by the piercing riffs by Federico and the always mesmerizing and groovy-as-hell vocals by Danilo, exhaling the essence of everything the Witches Of Doom stand for, whereas the sluggish Doom Metal beats by Luca dictate the rhythm in the sexy and inebriate Coma Moonlight, spiced up by the stunning keys by Fabio and, consequently, living up to the legacy of amazing bands like Type O Negative and HIM, not to mention Fed’s awesome guitar solo as the icing on the cake. Then venturing through the realms of Gothic and Stoner Metal we have Queen Of Suburbia, where Fed leads his bandmates with his heavy and precise riffage while Danilo showcases another deep and vibrant vocal performance, with the keys by Fabio taking you back to the glory of the 90’s. And a Tarantino-inspired intro evolves into a damned and dark feast in the title-track Funeral Radio, where Danilo’s cryptic vocals match perfectly with the scorching riffs by Fed and the thunderous bass punches by Jacopo.

Enhancing their heaviness and leaning towards 90’s Gothic Rock and Metal, the band blasts the insanely catchy and fun Sister Fire, where Danilo and Fed are in absolute sync with their respective vocals and riffs, resulting in the perfect choice for an incendiary Rock N’ Roll party; and sounding like the soundtrack to an underground cult movie, mellow vocal lines and classy guitars dictate the rhythm in Ghost Train while Fabio keeps embellishing the airwaves with his keys, bringing an extra touch of melancholy to such dark and hypnotizing tune. November Flames offers the listener another blast of obscure and grim sounds inspired by the golden years of Gothic Rock, with Luca delivering a mix of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll through his beats accompanied by the slashing riffs by Fed, sounding fast and melodic just the way we like it. Lastly, an atmospheric start led by Jacopo’s metallic bass gradually morphs into another hybrid of Gothic and Doom Metal titled Hotel Paranoia, putting a climatic and thrilling end to the album and flowing darkly and powerfully until its Stygian finale.

As already mentioned, Funeral Radio, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, is undoubtedly the strongest and most diverse album to date by the Witches Of Doom, and in order to show your appreciation for such talented and obscure Italian coven don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course to add the album to your goth-rock collection by purchasing it from their official BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy and/or stream the album). In other words, put on some Witches Of Doom on your (funeral) radio, turn up the volume to 666, and let their delicious and dark music embrace you like there’s no tomorrow.

Best moments of the album: Coma Moonlight, Queen Of Suburbia and Sister Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. Master Of Depression 4:42
2. Coma Moonlight 4:45
3. Queen Of Suburbia 4:45
4. Funeral Radio 6:54
5. Sister Fire 4:55
6. Ghost Train 4:16
7. November Flames 5:59
8. Hotel Paranoia 7:29

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitars
Saiax – bass
Francesco Ciacciarelli – drums

Guest musicians
Fabio Reeks Recchia – keyboards
Jacopo Cartelli – bass (session)
Luca Iovieno – drums (session)

Album Review – Bakken / This Means War (2020)

Are you ready for a fast and epic fusion of Thrash and Power Metal? That’s exactly what those UK-based headbangers have to offer us all in their brand new album.

Formed in 2011 in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, the unstoppable Thrash/Power Metal quintet known as Bakken has quickly amassed a loyal following thanks to the incredibly positive press attention gained worldwide since the release of their 2012 debut album Death Of A Hero, describing their sound as “combining the visceral edge, gruff vocals and choppy riffing of early Thrash Metal with melodic sensibilities and complex song structures of German Power Metal and NWOBHM”, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the incendiary music by renowned acts like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Dio, Helloween, Gamma Ray and so on. Now in 2020 the band comprised of Frank Levi on lead vocals, Simon Pickett and Shaun Nelson on the guitars, Thomas Alford on bass and Niall McGrotty on drums returns with the follow-up to Death Of A Hero and to their 2014 EP Worldwide Genocide, the full-length metal extravaganza titled This Means War, featuring eight powerful original tracks enfolded by an old school artwork by UK artist Isaac Levi, aiming at cementing Bakken as one of the driving forces of the new Northern Irish metal scene.

Imposing, cinematic sounds kick off the opening track This Means War, exploding into first-class classic Power Metal led by Niall’s crushing beats while Frank delivers his trademark high-pitched screams supported by his bandmates’ spot-on backing vocals, resulting in the best possible start to such fun album. Then drinking from the same metallic fountain as classic German acts such as Helloween, Primal Fear and Gamma Ray the band offers us all Cold Blooded Murder, where Simon and Shaun are on fire with their pure Heavy Metal riffs and solos; whereas Star Machine brings to our ears a galloping rhythm spearheaded by Niall and Thomas with their rumbling beats and bass jabs, respectively. It’s indeed a great option for banging your head nonstop, also presenting a high dosage of Thrash Metal in its flammable riffs, and putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for a high-octane Power and Thrash Metal attack titled Evil Walks This Way, a groovy and vibrant composition where Thomas is ruthless with his thunderous bass, providing Frank a strong base for his piercing vocal lines.

Sinister sounds and notes ignite the Dio/Queensrÿche-inspired semi-ballad In Requiem, where Frank displays a potent vocal performance while Simon and Shaun keep the atmosphere utterly dark with their classic riffs, despite the fact that the song goes on for a little too long, though. Back to a more aggressive and thrilling sonority the band blasts the epic Two-Edged Blade, another tune showcasing pounding and rhythmic beats, incendiary guitars and the always soaring vocal lines by Frank, all spiced up by their razor-edged guitar solos, making it impossible to stand still to their personal “tribute” to all things NWOBHM. After such breathtaking tune it’s time for We Fight, a rebellious anthem by Bakken exhaling pure Melodic Metal, as fast and electrifying as it can be with Niall obviously sounding like a machine gun on drums accompanied by the band’s inspired stringed trio. It will surely put you to heabang like a maniac and raise your horns in the name of metal, before an 80’s Hard Rock-inspired intro ignites the closing tune Storm Angels, with its smashing drums and crisp riffs generating a captivating ambience during its almost six minutes of potent and dense sounds masterfully delivered by the quintet, flowing smoothly until its climatic finale.

In a nutshell, if fast and classic Heavy Metal is your cup of tea, don’t waste a single second and go take a good and detailed listen at This Means War in its entirety on Spotify, and of course grab your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Also, don’t forget to follow those Northern Irish metallers on Facebook to keep informed about their news, releases and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their traditional metal music. Bakken might not be reinventing Heavy Metal with This Means War, and that has never been their goal anyway, but they’re indeed providing us metalheads a very enjoyable option for hitting the road with your loved ones, working out at the gym or simply for staying home and savoring our beloved Heavy Metal, showing all your admiration and respect for one of the most important (and most captivating) genres in the history of music.

Best moments of the album: Cold Blooded Murder, Two-Edged Blade and We Fight.

Worst moments of the album: In Requiem.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. This Means War 5:09
2. Cold Blooded Murder 5:10
3. Star Machine 3:34
4. Evil Walks This Way 4:10
5. In Requiem 6:09
6. Two-Edged Blade 5:54
7. We Fight 5:30
8. Storm Angels 5:57

Band members
Frank Levi – lead vocals
Simon Pickett – guitar, vocals
Shaun Nelson – guitar
Thomas Alford – bass
Niall McGrotty – drums