Album Review – Puta Volcano / AMMA (2020)

A highly enterprising and unusual release by four Greek rockers who definitely know how to blend 90’s Seattle Grunge with Stoner and Southern Rock.

Athens, Greece-based Hard Rock/Post-Grunge quartet Puta Volcano has been building up their legacy and fanbase one gig, one album and one song at a time since their inception in 2012, having released their debut EP Represent Victory Below Eye that same year, their first full-length installment The Sun in 2015,  and more recently another EP titled Harmony of Spheres, in 2017, gaining notoriety in their homeland for their heavy mixture of Seattle Grunge with Stoner and Southern Rock, all with a Southeastern European twist. Already acknowledged in the Greek heavy rock scene, the band comprised of Anna Papathanasiou on vocals, Alex Pi on the guitar, Bookies on bass and Steve Stefanidis on drums is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their brand new opus AMMA, a highly enterprising and unusual release full of heft and verve, combining elements from the music by Alice In Chains, Melvins, Hole, A Perfect Circle, Kylesa and Baroness and, therefore, creating a tantalizing and electrifying sound.

Produced by Johnny Tercu, recorded by Alex Ketenjian, Nick Dimitrakakos and Alex Bolpasis and mixed and mastered by Alex Ketenjian and Johnny Tercu, all at Unreal Studioz in Athens, and featuring a classy artwork that’s the collective effort of artists Anna Papathanasiou herself and Laura Bricta, with an inner sleeve photo by Chrysalena Antonopoulou and logo and layout by Fuzz Ink., AMMA is a multi-layered and very entertaining album of rock music, bringing forward a collection of songs reflecting the whereabouts of a band who illustrates the well documented character of their craft, while simultaneously branching out to new territories using bits and pieces of novelties, making the exploration of each and every track of the album a detailed nit-picking adventure for the listener.

The inspiring an cinematic intro R-Entry prepares our ears and minds for the groovy Entropica, showcasing poetic lyrics declaimed by Anna (“Back from an endless slumber / Across event horizons / Silence where once was thunder / Ashes and rust surround me / I’m breaking / Having seen too many ends / I’m choking / Struggling to let go”) while Steve blasts some sluggish and potent beats accompanied by Bookies’ low-tuned bass, resulting in a lecture in Post-Grunge. Then again drinking from the same fountain as iconic bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden we have Venus Lullaby, presenting a beautiful sonority led by Alex’s distortions and Anna’s charming vocals, driving you absolutely addicted to her passionate performance, not to mention the song’s electrifying vibe; and venturing through more aggressive and harder lands the band offers us all First Light, a true headbanging Rock N’ Roll anthem with hints of classic Heavy Metal where Alex and Bookies are on fire with their stringed weapons, while Anna continues to shine on vocals.

Then a somber intro morphs into a Hard Rock and Grunge extravaganza titled Black Box, with Steve and Bookies hammering their instruments ruthlessly, therefore providing Anna all she needs to fire her Alice In Chains-inspired vocals and inspiring us all to bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow, followed by Sugar Cube, a more introspective creation by the quartet showcasing crisp and delicate guitar lines and beats, bringing to our ears that trademark Seattle sound with a nice Greek twist. The atmospheric bridge Echoing Icons sets the stage to the exciting Primitive Data, another explosion of Post-Grunge with gorgeous lyrics (“Like raindrops on the sea / Break stillness and riple the veil / I fall from blackest space / A flailing newborn / Heliacal rising again / More shadows in my head / I left my center back home / A lifetime ago”), also showcasing the ass-kicking shredding by Alex and the fierce drumming by Steve.

Wicked guitars and deep, dark vocals permeate the air in Apnea, again exploring 90’s Grunge grounds with metallic nuances, flowing smoothly until its crisp ending, whereas Torus sounds groovier than all previous songs thanks to the potent bass jabs by Bookies, presenting stunning performances by all band members with Steve slamming his drum kit mercilessly, living up to the legacy of the Seattle sound. After such enfolding sonority it’s time for Puta Volcano to enhance their heaviness and rage in Space Blanket, a very melodic, sinister and vibrant song where Anna sounds as dark and devilish as possible and with Alex having another amazing performance with his riffs and solos, while ethereal sounds ignite the closing tune titled Kassandra’s Gift, led by Anna and her whimsical voice before the entire band comes crushing our senses one last time in a lesson in modernity and progressiveness.

The excellent AMMA is available for a full and detailed listen on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to Puta Volcano you should definitely purchase the album from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can grab a copy of the album or simply stream it. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, with AMMA working as the utmost representation of everything the band stands for, their talent and their strong focus on what they do, leaving us all eager for more of their music and pointing to a fantastic future for such distinguished Greek quartet with their Seattle-inspired sound.

Best moments of the album: First Light, Black Box, Primitive Data and Space Blanket.

Worst moments of the album: Sugar Cube.

Released in 2020 The Orchard

Track listing
1. R-Entry 0:42
2. Entropica 4:28
3. Venus Lullaby 3:45
4. First Light 3:41
5. Black Box 4:20
6. Sugar Cube 3:18
7. Echoing Icons 1:41
8. Primitive Data 4:32
9. Apnea 2:43
10. Torus 4:15
11. Space Blanket 4:15
12. Kassandra’s Gift 5:47

Band members
Anna Papathanasiou – vocals
Alex Pi – guitar
Bookies – bass, backing vocals
Steve Stefanidis – drums

Album Review – Lady Beast / The Vulture’s Amulet (2020)

The Heavy Metal beasts from Pittsburgh return with another sensational round of soaring vocals, incendiary riffs and classic drums in their fourth full-length opus.

After hundreds of concerts, festivals, tours, three full-length albums, one EP and one compilation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Heavy Metal machine Lady Beast is more than ready to celebrate over 10 years kicking ass and spreading their fulminating music all over the world with their fourth full-length opus entitled The Vulture’s Amulet, an ode to all things metal highly inspired by behemoths the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Mercyful Fate and Motörhead. Featuring a beyond stylish and sexy artwork by American artist Adam Burke (Nightjar Illustration), The Vulture’s Amulet has everything it takes to conquer the hearts of any diehard metalhead, from soaring vocals to breathtaking riffs and blast beats, showcasing all the talent, energy and passion flowing from frontwoman Deborah Levine, guitarists Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler, bassist Greg Colaizzi (who has just left the band, being replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Adam Ramage and, above all, proving once again heavy music is still alive and kicking inside our hearts forever and ever.

Classic, razor-edged riffs ignite the frantic and electrifying ode to heavy music titled Metal Machine, filling every single space in the air with electricity and rage before Deborah comes ripping with her powerful and piercing vocals, or in other words, an 80’s classic metal hymn released a few decades later, in 2020. And get ready for another metal storm led by Andy and Chris with their incendiary riffage in Runes of Rust, a Judas Priest-inspired hymn where Adam smashes his drums with tons of precision and groove, sounding as old school as it can be; while the sick bass lines by Greg generate a thunderous atmosphere perfect for the band’s guitar duo to pierce our ears with their riffs in The Gift, a beautiful fusion of the music by renowned Teutonic bands like Grave Digger, Running Wild and Accept, giving you all you need to bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

Then phantasmagorical guitars à la Mercyful Fate are one of the main ingredients in Sacrifice to the Unseen, while Deborah continues to kick us in the head with her feminine and ferocious vocal lines, also bringing the most electrifying elements from classic Hard Rock to the overall result, followed by the even more metallic and inspiring Betrayer, reminding me of some of the best songs from Judas Priest’s 1978 classic album Killing Machine (or Hell Bent For Leather), with Deborah being simply fantastic on vocals accompanied by the NWOBHM-like riffs by Andy and Chris. And drinking from the same fountain as Iron Maiden in their instrumental classics “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)” and “Transylvania”, but of course with Deborah’s ass-kicking vocals embellishing the airwaves, we have The Champion, an epic Heavy Metal anthem filling our hearts with hope, fire and, of course, Heavy Metal.

It’s time to put the pedal to the (heavy) metal in the absolutely furious, high-octane tune entitled Transcend the Blade, this time a fully instrumental track with Andy and Chris spearheading their sonic onrush, firing beautiful riffs and solos for our total delight, whereas slowing things down a bit (while at the same time getting darker) the band offers us all the title-track The Vulture’s Amulet, a mid-tempo tune where Greg and Adam are ruthless with their thunderous bass and drums, respectively, with Deborah returning in full force declaiming the song’s stylish lyrics. and last but not least, the closing tune Vow of the Valkyrie is an exciting and flammable feast of old school riffs and solos, blast beats and the always killer vocals by Deborah, resulting in a true born-to-be-an-underground-metal-classic bringing forward an amazing guitar “duel” by Andy and Chris tailored for lovers of the seven-stringed ax.

In a nutshell, as already mentioned, The Vulture’s Amulet has everything one might ask for in traditional Heavy Metal, plus of course the mesmerizing touch added by Deborah with her she-wolf vocals, and if you want to show Lady Beast your true support you can buy the album directly from their BandCamp page, from the Reaper Metal Productions webstore (in both vinyl and cassette formats), from Apple Music or from Amazon, as well as stream it in full on YouTube and on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, proving to Deborah and her henchmen you’re worth joining their metal den and with The Vulture’s Amulet being the perfect soundtrack for enjoying a cold beer deep down there together with those heavy music beasts.

Best moments of the album: Metal Machine, The Gift, Betrayer and Vow of the Valkyrie.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Reaper Metal Productions

Track listing
1. Metal Machine 3:15
2. Runes of Rust 4:26
3. The Gift 5:09
4. Sacrifice to the Unseen 5:09
5. Betrayer 3:29
6. The Champion 5:24
7. Transcend the Blade 3:42
8. The Vulture’s Amulet 5:14
9. Vow of the Valkyrie 5:03

Band members
Deborah Levine – vocals
Andy Ramage – lead guitar
Chris Tritschler – rhythm guitar
Greg Colaizzi – bass
Adam Ramage – drums

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

Metal Chick of the Month – Thalìa Bellazecca

I was raised by the storm and I’m living to serve my own pride!

Amidst one of the worst crisis the world has ever been through, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing nothing but fear, anger and darkness to our hearts, let’s pay a humble tribute to the beautiful Italy, where the virus has had so far the most devastating outcome, by providing you, our dear readers, with an overview of the life and career of the gorgeous, skillful and unstoppable Thalìa Bellazecca, the young and restless guitarist for Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown, bringing some joy to our hearts and souls during such difficult times. If you, like almost all of us here, are quarantined and getting bored due to the lack of things to do, perhaps this short and sweet homage to Thalìa and all her countrymen, and of course her razor-edged riffs and solos, can help you enjoy your time of confinement a lot better.

Born on April 19, 2000 in Cantù, a city and commune in the Province of Como, located at the center of the Brianza zone in Lombardy, Italy, Thalìa Bellazecca is of Italian and Cuban origin, which explains her undeniable talent, groove and passion for music, and that’s exactly what we are going to focus on in this humble tribute to such distinguished shredder, as Thalìa seems to be a very reserved woman who lives and breathes music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Furthermore, it’s impossible not to talk about Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown, the band where we have all been able to witness Thalìa kicking some serious ass with her incendiary guitar since 2017.

Formed back in 2017 by guitarist and vocalist Federico Mondelli in the Italian metropolis of Milan, one of the global capitals of fashion and design, and fronted by the powerful singer Giada Etro (already known for her work in Ashes You Leave), Frozen Crown are a Power Metal band infused with classic Heavy Metal and Melodic Death Metal vibes, having released since their inception the singles The Shieldmaiden and Kings, in 2017, and Neverending, in 2019, and the full-length albums The Fallen King, in 2018, and Crowned in Frost, in 2019, where the band minimized their  Symphonic Metal side and amplified their core Heavy and Power Metal considerably. As a matter of fact, although you can enjoy Thalìa’s refined technique and stunning looks in pretty much all of Frozen Crown’s official videos, all guitars in both of their albums were recorded by Federico (except for the guitar solo in Kings, which was recorded by our metal lady Thalìa), who was also responsible for all keyboards and artworks as well. You can enjoy all of their albums and songs directly from their BandCamp page (where you can obviously buy their music, as well as from their Big Cartel page) and also stream everything on Spotify.

However, as aforementioned, who said we cannot have a blast with Thalìa in all official videos released by Frozen Crown through the years? You can definitely enjoy Thalìa shredding her strings in great fashion while she bangs her head like a maniac in amazing Power Metal anthems such as  Neverending, Kings, Everwinter, I Am The Tyrant, Forever and The Shieldmaiden, and if live performances are your cup of tea how about taking a shot at some of the band’s live footage playing their ass-kicking metal music to the masses like in the songs Kings, Fail No More, The Shieldmaiden and I Am The Tyrant live at C.G. Busto Arsizio in 2018 in Varese, Italy; Kings live in Toulouse in 2020; Arctic Gales/Neverending and Winterfall live at Dagda Retorbido in 2019 in Pavia, Italy; To Infinity live at Arci Tom in 2018 in Mantua, Italy; or simply enjoy this live footage of Frozen Crown taking the German cities of Munich, Augsburg and Aschaffenburg by storm in 2019.

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Apart from her career with Frozen Crown, we can also witness Thalìa embellishing the airwaves with her riffs and solos in a few other very interesting projects and bands; for instance, during part of 2018, Thalìa was one of the live guitarists for Russian Thrash Metal female-fronted band Pokerface, whose music can be described as a fusion of the music by Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom and Kreator. Also, Thalìa is one of the guitarists for a sensational Megadeth tribute band called Nuclear Winter, formed in 2015 by vocalist and guitarist Paolo Ingianni and active in the best Lombard and Piedmontese rock clubs since 2016. You can check their official Instagram and YouTube channel for more information on the band, such as this incendiary cover version for Tornado of Souls live in 2019 at Rock’N’Roll Milano.

In addition to all that, our dauntless left-handed shredder plays the guitar for the Italian Women Tribute, a music project that was born in 2016 from an idea by Andy Rox and is the first and only rock tribute to Italian female voices existing in Italy (and you can also find more information about it on their Instagram besides their official website), and was recruited to record a solo on one of the songs for a Syrian project called Storm of Death, of Adnan Al Hamdan, his third album featuring a selection of over 120 guest musicians from over 44 countries, which you can take a better look on the project’s official Facebook page. The song where we’ll have the pleasure of listening to Thalìa slashing her strings is not available yet, but I’m sure soon enough we’ll hear more from Adnan or from Thalìa herself with a link to listen to it.

Highly influenced by a vast array of guitar heroes such as Kiko Loureiro, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker and Yngwie Malmsteen, among countless others, our stunning guitarist manages her own YouTube channel, uploading several videos on a regular basis showcasing all her skills and passion for heavy music and rock in general. You can enjoy Thalìa and her inseparable ax playing cover versions for Kiko Loureiro’s Moment Of Truth, Frozen Crown’s Queen Of Blades, Joe Satriani’s Headrush and Satch Boogie, and Megadeth’s Conquer or Die, or simply watch her doing some guitar improvisation showing how talented she is. And last but not least, I believe I don’t need to say Thalìa also ventures through the realms of modeling, right? Just by looking at her gorgeous photos you probably guessed that yourself, and if you’re curious to know more about that distinguished side of our guitar hero you can check her work (and of other models) on the official Instagram of PERSONA, from Milan. Having said all that, I think we must all admit that Thalìa has it all, a ravishing look and style, an undeniable talent armed with her guitar, endless stamina and a deep and healthy addiction to Heavy Metal. If that’s not the perfect combination for a true headbanging woman, I honestly don’t know what could be.

Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Facebook page
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Instagram
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Twitter
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official YouTube channel
Frozen Crown’s Official Facebook page
Frozen Crown’s Official Instagram
Frozen Crown’s Official Twitter
Frozen Crown’s Official BandCamp page

Album Review – Ani Lo. Projekt / A Time Called Forever (2020)

May your heart and soul be filled with the timeless Heavy Metal blasted by Ani Lo. and her henchmen forever and ever in their sophomore full-length opus.

Brought into being in 2010 in Sofia, the capital of the Balkan nation of Bulgaria, when well-known Bulgarian singer Ani Lozanova (also known as Ani Lo.) and her long-term musical partner, drummer Konstantin Dinev (also known as Kossy D.) decided to join forces to create a project of their own, Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal act Ani Lo. Projekt will bring to your ears a powerful and metallic sound in their sophomore album, entitled A Time Called Forever, the follow-up to their 2011 opus Miracle presenting 12 breathtaking creations composed by Jens Faber (Dawn Of Destiny), who also played guitar, bass and keyboards on the entire album, as well as some growls and clean vocals. Recorded and mastered by Markus Teske at Bazement Studio, featuring an array of guest musicians the likes of Eric Dow (Helsótt), Michael Thionville (Voodoma) and Ani Lo.’s own husband Lachezar Stefanov, and displaying a classy artwork by Bulgarian artist Deliana Stoyanova, A Time Called Forever will undoubtedly please all fans of the music played by bands such as Lords Of Black, Almanac, The Unity and Within Temptation, blending the most symphonic, epic and harmonious elements form classic Heavy and Power Metal.

Kossy begins hammering his drums in the epic and symphonic opening track Break My Chains, with Jens providing Ani all she needs to shine with her potent vocals by blasting crisp background keys and wicked growls, followed by the title-track A Time Called Forever, a beyond mesmerizing tune showcasing Arabian elements and the piercing vocals by Ani, inspiring you to bang your head nonstop while the band smashes your senses with their kick-ass Symphonic Heavy Metal. Featuring guest vocals by Lachezar Stefanov, Bleed is an upbeat composition where the keys by Jens and the beats by Kossy generate an incendiary paradox perfect for admirers of the very melodic but still ferocious and high-octane side of Power Metal, and even more epic and imposing than its predecessors, End Up in Sorrow is a song where Ani steals the spotlight with her enfolding vocals, sounding as if Nightwish and Epica had the mighty Doro on vocals, not to mention Jens’ stunning keys.

Back to a more frantic and very sharp sonority, The Letter presents Kossy kicking some serious ass with his Helloween/Stratovarius-inspired beats, with Jens once again sounding bestial with his guitar riffs and solos; whereas again investing in more melodious and fiery sounds the band offers the gorgeous ballad Back to You, where the passionate vocals by Ani are boosted by Jens’ souful riffage while Kossy keeps the pace very pleasant with his beats. Then we have Cold Death, a galloping and fierce aria of Power Metal by the trio with Ani’s vocals sounding even more captivating, feeling like a song form the Middle Ages turned into modern-day metal music, and Feel Inside, perhaps the most generic of all songs despite its positive message and another solid performance by all band member, especially Jens with his guitar solos, never really taking off (but nothing that causes any damage to the album).

Featuring guest vocals by Michael Thionville, who by the way makes a flammable duo with Ani, Fly with Me is another passionate ballad by Ani and her henchmen, showcasing epic keys and spot-on drums, being therefore perfect for enjoying it with your significant other in your arms. Then again venturing through the realms of Symphonic Power Metal the band explodes our senses with the fantastic Don’t Leave (This World), where Ani hypnotizes us all with her potent, high-pitched lioness roars while guest Eric Dow delivers sheer rage through his growls, making it impossible not to raise your fists to such epic tune; and it’s time to put the pedal to the metal in a Melodic Metal extravaganza titled My Misery, where again we’re treated to the awesome Ani-Eric duet, living up to the legacy of renowned acts like Stratovarius and Kamelot, sounding absolutely fast and thrilling thanks to the unstoppable beats by Kossy. And the last blast of heavy music by Ani Lo. Projekt comes in the form of the ballad Walk Alone, where Ani’s deep vocals are accompanied by gentle piano notes and an embracing atmosphere until the very end.

The multi-talented Ani Lo., Kossy D. and Jens Faber are waiting for you on Facebook, and if you want to show your utmost admiration and support for such distinguished group of musicians you should definitely purchase A Time Called Forever from countless locations such as the Season of Mist webstore, Record Shop X, HMV, Apple Music and Amazon, as well as stream it in its entirety from YouTube and from Spotify. And may Ani and her awesome Ani Lo. Projekt keep reigning forever and ever not only in the metallic Republic of Bulgaria, but anywhere else in the world where our good old Heavy Metal is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: A Time Called Forever, End Up in Sorrow and My Misery.

Worst moments of the album: Feel Inside.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Break My Chains 4:52
2. A Time Called Forever 5:47
3. Bleed 4:27
4. End Up in Sorrow 5:16
5. The Letter 3:53
6. Back to You 3:23
7. Cold Death 4:07
8. Feel Inside 3:13
9. Fly with Me 5:13
10. Don’t Leave (This World) 3:19
11. My Misery 3:53
12. Walk Alone 4:15

Band members
Ani Lo. – vocals
Kossy D. – drums
Jens Faber – guitars, bass, keyboards, growls, clean vocals

Guest musicians
Eric Dow – vocals on “Don’t Leave (This World)” and “My Misery”
Michael Thionville – vocals on “Fly With Me”
Lachezar Stefanov – vocals on “Bleed”

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 – 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

Album Review – Thrashera / Não Gosto! (2020)

Blasting thrashing anthems about devious behavior, sex, alcohol and drug abuse, this Brazilian horde delivers an ode to all things metal in their band new (and rebellious) opus.

With nearly 20 releases under their bullet belts, Brazilian Thrash Metal horde Thrashera is a veritable institution in the underground in their homeland, blasting thrashing anthems about devious behavior, sex, alcohol and drug abuse, horror films, war, massacres, nuclear disasters, violence, underground counterculture, punk issues and the headbanging way of life since their inception in the year of 2010 in the city of Rio de Janeiro by three maniacs deeply into the 80’s wave of Satanic metal and primitive Rock N’ Roll. It’s that lattermost element which has endeared the band to so many across the international underground, and their brand new full-length album, rebelliously titled Não Gosto!, is definitely going to launch Thrashera onto an ever wider stage, which the band will promptly destroy.

Currently comprised of vocalist Chakal, guitarists Madcrusher and Bode de Sade, bassist Anras Vardamir and drummer Surtur Impurus, Thrashera are not just about partying, with the album title, translated to English as “I don’t like it!”, depicting the band’s distrust in the current political and religious scenario in their homeland. “The name of the album stands as a denial manifest towards the present political and religious ideologies in Brazil responsible for ‘killing’ – oppressing – all artistic forms of expression. It’s a reinforcement of our lyric approach in the last decade as a band, in an era where the individual liberty for the underground movement and its followers is in serious danger. Expressing Não Gosto! as a mantra, it’s probably the only reasonable path! Não Gosto! synthesizes all the refusal towards the hypocrisy that commands the world, guiding our masses into the abyss with an unconscious grin. This is also a shout-out and a wakeup call to all the underground forces to organize, react, and unite themselves in order to avoid the extinction of the most marginalized culture in the planet. Metal always said No! And always will!”, commented the band about the album.

A cinematic, eerie and anti-religious intro evolves into a feast of old school Thrash Metal led by Surtur’s frantic beats in Intro Víbora Resistente / Não Gosto!, featuring guest vocals by Luiz Carlos Louzada (Vulcano) and Armando Exekutor (Flageladör), and I must say all vocal lines couldn’t have sounded more demonic than this, with its raw and primeval sound making the whole thing even more entertaining. Then acoustic guitars permeate the air in Maré 669 before all hell breaks loose and Madcrusher and Bode de Sade begin slashing their stringed weapons beautifully, resulting in over six minutes of nonstop electricity and blasphemy blasted by Thrashera with Chakal sounding absolutely demented and wicked on vocals; followed by Rei dos Excessos, a song that begins in full force with Surtur and Anras being in an infernal sync with their respective instruments. Put differently, it’s pure old school thrash with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, where once again the band worships Satan and all that’s considered immoral or forbidden. And Sangue ao Metal is a fast and furious ode to all things metal led by Chakal’s vicious, deep roars while Surtur keeps hammering and pounding his drums manically, inspired by the classic sonority from the early days of the almighty Slayer.

Sounding heavy-as-hell and utterly aggressive just the way we like it, it’s time for the band to fire a new (and hard) version for their 2012 song Trapped in the 80’s (you can check the original one HERE, released in the split album Guerreiros do Álcool), with the 2020 version sounding more polished and thrashier, leaning at times towards Speed Metal. After such demented onrush of sounds, guess what the band has to offer us all? Well, those guys love metal music more than anything, which becomes beyond clear in the high-octane Metal!, where both Madcrusher and Bode de Sade decimate our ears with their hellish riffs, while Chakal keeps vociferating the song’s boisterous words in the name of Heavy Metal. Mysterious female voices praising the power of women and their fight against sexism ignite another bestial tune titled Correntes Não Prendem Serpentes, where Chakal (together with an uncanny female guest vocalist) barks the song’s lyrics about witches and other female characters, followed by Igreja, the band’s personal  tribute to a cult album titled Cabeça Dinossauro, released in 1986 by an amazing Brazilian band called Titãs (check the original song HERE), with Thrashera’s version sounding and feeling amazing with its raw and visceral Thrash Metal vibe, once again against all that’s wrong with religion and the church.

You can join Thrashera in their cult to Thrash Metal and everything that’s considered evil (and therefore good) by following the band on Facebook, and grab your copy of their rebellious soundtrack to the end of our days from the Hellprod Records’ BandCamp page or webstore. I must warn you, though, that once you enter their realm of depravity, blasphemy and violence, there’s no way back, which in the end is a good thing as you’ll be against all that’s wrong in their homeland right now. This is what first-class old Thrash Metal is all about, always against religion and politics, always fast, furious and infernal, and always perfect for having a beer while slamming into the circle pit with your friends. That’s all that we really like in our lives, and always will.

Best moments of the album: Maré 669, Sangue ao Metal and Metal!.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Helldprod Records

Track listing
1. Intro Víbora Resistente / Não Gosto! 5:46
2. Maré 669 6:19
3. Rei dos Excessos 3:09
4. Sangue ao Metal 4:08
5. Trapped in the 80’s (Hard version) 4:22
6. Metal! 4:08
7. Correntes Não Prendem Serpentes 5:17
8. Igreja (Titãs cover) 2:51

Band members
Chakal – vocals
Madcrusher – guitars
Bode de Sade – guitars, backing vocals
Anras Vardamir – bass, backing vocals
Surtur Impurus – drums

Guest musicians
Luiz Carlos Louzada – vocals on “Não Gosto!”
Armando Exekutor – vocals on “Não Gosto!”

Album Review – Lutharö / Wings of Agony EP (2020)

Bringing a fresh take on Heavy Metal to listeners around the world, this up-and-coming Canadian band returns with a darker yet still very melodic sound in their brand new (and excellent) EP.

Founded in 2014 under the name Incarnadine in Hamilton, a Canadian port city on the western tip of Lake Ontario, the Melodic Heavy/Death Metal powerhouse now known as Lutharö aims at bringing a fresh take on Heavy Metal to listeners around the world with their unique and diverse sound loaded with catchy riffs, blazing solos and vocals ranging from vicious growls to clean passages that will send a chill down your spine, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the music by iconic bands like Arch Enemy, Unleash the Archers, Amon Amarth and Behemoth. Over the years, Lutharö have grown into their distinctive sound, emerging with a heavy and dark formula that gets fans moving, culminating in 2018 with the release of their debut EP Unleash The Beast and now in 2020 with the release of their sophomore opus Wings of Agony.

Stepping out of their comfort zone for their new album, the Canadian quintet comprised of Krista Shipperbottom on vocals, Victor Bucur and John Raposo on the guitars, Chris Pacey on bass and Duval Gabraiel on drums (although the drums in the EP were recorded by session musician Cale Costello) promises to be more innovative and imaginative than in Unleash The Beast, being the perfect introduction to the new era of Lutharö that, albeit darker than before, still sounds and feels very melodic and embodies the same amount of energy their fans have learned to enjoy. Featuring a stylish cover art designed by Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu (twilight13media.com), Wings of Agony will bring to your metallic ears 25 minutes of classic yet at the same time modern metal music, positioning Krista and the boys as one of the most promising and interesting names of the current Canadian underground scene.

Ominous, ethereal sounds kick off the opening track Barren, before the band’s guitar duo Victor and John start slashing their strings beautifully and Krista begins blasting her high-pitched, enraged screams, bringing forward elements from a myriad of styles such as Thrash, Death and even Black Metal. Needless to say, the EP couldn’t have started in a better way, and things get even better in Diamond Back, leaning towards the Melodic Death Metal played by some of their biggest influences such as Arch Enemy and The Agonist. The intricate and flammable beats by Cale are effectively complemented by the crisp riffs fired by both guitars, all embraced by another brutal performance by Krista with both her strident clean vocals and she-wolf roars. And a touch of epicness spices up the intro to the also high-octane Blood Lightning, where the quintet puts the pedal to the metal in a hybrid between classic Thrash Metal and modern-day Melodic Heavy Metal, also featuring awesome guitar solos delivered by Victor as the icing on the cake.

Will to Survive is a brilliant headbanging tune by Lutharö where the guitars sound furious just the way we like it in extreme music, while Chris’ rumbling bass and Cale’s frantic beats keep the atmosphere dense and thunderous from start to finish. In addition, Krista is once again superb on vocals, and in my humble opinion this is a beautiful and exciting path I would love to see Lutharö follow in their future releases. Last but not least, closing the EP we have the title-track Wings of Agony, more melodic and modernized than its predecessors, offering the listener another feast of razor-edged riffs, blast beats and menacing bass punches, not to mention the song’s catchy chorus powerfully declaimed by Krista (“Go on and wake from this sleep / Let distant light unbind your wings / Go on and soar / Forever more / Into a journey of pain”), with the music flowing into a dark and serene ending.

When I saw Lutharö live for the very first (and so far the only) time in 2018 opening for the almighty Canadian metal heroes Striker and Unleash The Archers here in Toronto, I instantly knew I was witnessing the rise of a future beast of Canadian metal, with Wings of Agony, which is available from the band’s own BandCamp page (and soon from other locations and platforms), cementing their name in the local scene. Hence, if you want to know more about Lutharö and listen to more of their music, simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and stream their previous and new releases on Spotify  as much as you want. Krista and her henchmen are undeniably talented, crazy for metal music and extremely focused on what they do, spreading their wings all over Canada and soon the world with their breathtaking music for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Diamond Back and Will to Survive.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Barren 5:21
2. Diamond Back 4:31
3. Blood Lightning 4:41
4. Will to Survive 5:09
5. Wings of Agony 6:02

Band members
Krista Shipperbottom – vocals
Victor Bucur – guitars, backing vocals
John Raposo – guitars
Chris Pacey – bass
Duval Gabraiel – drums*

Guest musician
Cale Costello – drums (session)

*Drums recorded by Cale Costello.

Album Review – Hyperia / Insanitorium (2020)

Are you crazy enough to enter the “insanitorium” together with one of the most promising names of the current Canadian Thrash Metal scene?

Are you crazy enough to enter the Insanitorium, the debut full-length opus by Canadian Melodic Thrash Metal unity Hyperia? If your answer is yes, you better get ready for over 40 minutes of wailing and harsh vocals, melodic guitars, intricate bass lines and hard hitting drums, ranging from traditional Thrash Metal to Power Metal and even Death Metal, highly inspired by a myriad of bands such as Havok, Overkill, Running Wild, Hypocrisy and Gojira,  among others, with the album’s lyrical themes being based around the concept of being stuck in an insane asylum for committing evil crimes and having no way out. Put differently, after listening to Insanitorium, you’ll quickly understand why the band comprised of Marlee Ryley on vocals, Colin Ryley and David Kupisz on the guitars, Scott DeGruyter on bass and Jordan Maguire on drums was one of the nominees for “Metal Recording of the Year” at the 2019 YYC Music Awards and “Music Video of the Year” at the 2019 Stinger Awards, hosted by the CSIF – The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers.

Recorded and mixed by Colin Ryley himself at Singularity Sound Studios in Calgary, Canada, mastered by Mika Jussila (Finntroll, Children of Bodom, Ensiferum) at Finnvox Studios in Helsinki, Finland, and featuring a beyond classic cover art by Belarusian illustrator Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust), Insanitorium perfectly represents what Hyperia are all about, proving that despite the fact the band was only formed less than two years ago, more specifically in September 2018, they can already be considered one of the most interesting and hardworking names of the Canadian underground scene, thrashing venues and taking the metal community by storm since their inception. Put differently, who doesn’t enjoy some old school shredding accompanied by soaring female vocals, right?

In the opening track Mad Trance, a movie-inspired intro morphs into ass-kicking Thrash Metal with a Melodic Death Metal twist, with both Colin and David showing what they got with their incendiary riffs before Marlee comes crushing with both her clean vocals and she-wolf gnarls, and a demented scream by Marlee sets fire to the also berserk Starved By Guilt, where the whole band puts the pedal to the metal spearheaded by Jordan’s frantic and vile beats. In other words, it’s simply perfect for slamming into the circle pit like a true metalmaniac, whereas in Asylum it’s time to break our necks headbanging, blending the ferocity of Exodus with the melody of Arch Enemy and showcasing an amazing sync between Colin and David, providing all Marlee needs to vociferate the song’s psychological words (“My dead lover under a cover / Screaming, trapped in monomania / They cringed as I unhinged / I’m drowning, set me free / Straight jacket because of a hatchet / Bewitched, lost in compulsion / I’m banished, mind vanished / Fixated, please help me!”).

Then eerie noises are quickly joined by the band’s strident guitars in Unleash The Pigs, evolving into another sonic onslaught where Jordan brutally smashes his drums supported by the rumbling bass by Scott, while Marlee once again delivers a superb performance on vocals; and fasten your seat belts as Hyperia flirt with old school Death Metal in the high-octane tune Nullified,  a very detailed and dense creation that lives up to the legacy of extreme music, sounding as frantic, aggressive and demented as it can be, and with Colin being unstoppable with his riffs and solos. And bringing elements from the music by Metallica, Megadeth and other fast and furious thrashing masters we have Fish Creek Frenzy, where Marlee’s wicked vocals are beautifully complemented by Colin’s and David’s flammable riffs, not to mention all the energy flowing from the song’s spot-on backing vocals.

Dystopia is another awesome composition bursting with rage, madness and heaviness, all embraced by the insurgent lyrics blasted by Marlee in a mix of Black and Thrash Metal styles (“War, bloodshed, slavery, hypocrisy / Everywhere, everyday it’s all you see / Take a look at yourself and your plight / It won’t end unless we STAND UP AND FIGHT”). Well, do you think they still have energy for more violence and bloodshed after so many thrashing hymns in a roll? Their answer comes in the form of the metallic hurricane entitled The Scratches on the Wall, with the sick growling by Marlee being flawlessly boosted by the bestial shredding by the band’s guitarists, as well as Jordan’s nonstop beats and fills, while pure, unrelenting riffage is the main ingredient in Contagion, sounding at the same time very old school, inspired by 80’s Heavy Metal, but also bringing a fresh, modern vibe thanks to the polished production of the album. Lastly, how about more undisputed, deranged Thrash Metal to close the album? That’s what Hyperia have to offer us all as infernal riffs and fast and rhythmic drums permeate the air in Evil Insanity, and when it’s over you’ll feel absolutely disoriented just the way we love it in extreme music.

The nonstop metal thrashing madness blasted by Hyperia in Insanitorium can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would definitely show my true support to such promising name of the current Canadian metal scene by purchasing their sensational debut album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Dead Pulse webstore or from Apple Music. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and all other things Hyperia, because you know, you have to be absolutely insane not to support those Canadian metallers, and even more “insane” to slam into the circle pit to their melodic, furious and utterly entertaining creations.

Best moments of the album: Starved By Guilt, Fish Creek Frenzy, Dystopia and The Scratches on the Wall.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Mad Trance 4:36
2. Starved By Guilt 3:55
3. Asylum 4:08
4. Unleash The Pigs 4:56
5. Nullified 4:18
6. Fish Creek Frenzy 3:41
7. Dystopia 4:14
8. The Scratches on the Wall 3:57
9. Contagion 4:09
10. Evil Insanity 4:01

Band members
Marlee Ryley – vocals
Colin Ryley – lead guitar, backing vocals
David Kupisz – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Scott DeGruyter – bass, backing vocals
Jordan Maguire – drums