Album Review – The Promise Of Plague / The Tomb Of Lost Lovers (2019)

The debut album by this American quartet is an obscure fusion of black, industrial, punk and electronic, and you’ll simply love this style known as “Electro Black”.

Featuring members and ex-members of bands like Abominant, Fatal Step, Astrum Empyrean Asunder, Absence of Faith, Märcoda and Assisting Sorrow, the Louisville, Kentucky-based four-piece Industrial Black Metal entity known as The Promise Of Plague is back in 2019 with their debut full-length opus entitled The Tomb Of Lost Lovers, a huge step forward for the band in terms of creativity, strength and overall sound production compared to their 2016 demo Sleepwalking Into Armageddon. Comprised of Jim Higgins and Ashley Vega on vocals, Jerry Barksdale on guitars, keys and programming, and Chris Dalton on bass, The Promise Of Plague play an obscure and piercing fusion of Black and Industrial Metal infused with Punk Rock and electronic elements, or as some people like to say, they play a fairly new style called “Electro Black”.

And their Electro Black becomes already crystal clear in the opening track You Became My Noose, ignited by cutting guitars and electronic beats intertwined with whimsical keys, with Jim alternating between demonic roars and clean, anguished vocals and also presenting symphonic nuances in the background as a welcome add-on. Tim keeps gnarling in great Black Metal fashion in The Quiet, while Jerry slashes his guitar and Ashley brings some finesse to the music with her vocals in a short and sweet display of modern Industrial Black Metal; followed by These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown, where its imposing and rockin’ vibe reminds me of the primeval days of the unparalleled Cradle of Filth. Furthermore, Jerry and Chris are ruthless with their stringed weapons, while Jim and Ashley make an amazing duet once again exhaling anger, passion, melancholy and darkness from their vocal lines, sounding at the same time furious and doomed. And what can I say about their cover version for Venom’s Warhead? It’s just as raw and infernal as the original one released in 1984 (check it out HERE), showcasing a great job done by Jerry with his scorching hot riffs and the hints of Doom Metal added to the musicality to make it more demonic.

Then leaning towards the classic Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost we have Insolent, sounding and feeling considerably different from the previous songs of the album and presenting another spot-on performance by both Jim and Ashley on vocals. In other words, it’s dark, heavy and damned, ending in the most melancholic and beautiful manner you can think of. Chris’ low-tuned bass lines fill every empty space in the somber Mine Is A Place Called Hell, where Ashley’s clean vocals make a very interesting paradox with Jim’s hellish screeches in what’s perhaps the most electronic of all songs, perfectly depicting what Electro Black is all about. And lastly, the title-track Tomb Of Lost Lovers is a rumbling and dancing hybrid of classic Black Metal with electronic music, with Jerry bringing tons of epicness with his keys. Not only that, it should work really well at a dark electro party, with all band members delivering sheer aggression and electricity form their respective instruments.

I guess after reading this humble review of The Tomb Of Lost Lovers you got really curious about what Electro Black is, right? If your answer is yes, go check what The Promise Of Plague are up to on their official Facebook page, and grab your copy of the album directly from the band’s own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, The Promise Of Plague might not be reinventing the wheel with their fusion of metal and non-metal styles, but they have certainly unleashed an interesting and entertaining beast of heaviness, fury and darkness with their debut album, pointing to a very healthy future for the quartet and, who knows, inspiring more underground musicians who are starting their careers in heavy music to venture through the realms of Electro Black, a subgenre of metal that will never go mainstream without any doubt, and we’ll always love it that way.

Best moments of the album: These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown and Insolent.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. You Became My Noose 3:54
2. The Quiet 1:53
3. These Stones Were Meant To Be Thrown 4:38
4. Warhead (Venom cover) 3:03
5. Insolent 5:44
6. Mine Is A Place Called Hell 3:18
7. Tomb Of Lost Lovers 3:50

Band members
Jim Higgins – vocals
Ashley Vega – vocals
Jerry Barksdale – guitar, keys, electronics
Chris Dalton – bass

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Album Review – [P.U.T] / We Are [Br]others (2019)

An amalgamation of sludge, industrial and punk noises at their finest, brought forth by three brothers who have been delivering first-class music for over 20 years.

Blasting our eras with a raw and dirty fusion of Industrial and Sludge Metal since 1998, Brussels, Belgium and Paris, France-based brothers Loïc Beyet (guitar, voice, programming), Lionel Beyet (bass, programming, voice) and Nicolas Beyet (guitar, voice), collectively known as Industrial Sludge Noise beast [P.U.T], are unleashing upon humanity their sixth full-length opus entitled We Are [Br]others, highly recommended for fans of the noisy music by acts like Sonic Youth, Killing Joke, Godflesh and Neurosis, among several others. Self-recorded between Paris and Brussels, mixed by Loïc at garlic.lab between November 2017 and May 2018, mastered by Alexandre Vitrac, an ex-[P.U.T] member, at Studio CBE in June 2018, and featuring a classy and obscure artwork by French artist Alexis Horellou, We Are [Br]others is the first [P.U.T] album to feature the three Beyet Brothers in the lineup, offering the listener the band’s trademark amalgamation of machine sounds, guitars, noise, sludge, industrial and punk at their finest, overflowing madness, heaviness and anger over the span of 50 minutes.

Their first onrush of distorted sounds, titled In Control, is a metallic fusion of the Industrial Metal played by bands like Rammstein and Nine Inch Nails with the sluggish and “polluted” riffs from classic Sludge Metal where the Beyet Brothers vociferate from the depths of the underworld, and with Lionel also delivering some powerful jabs from his bass. Following such eerie start we have Nothing, even more disruptive and grim than the opening track, a perfect option to be part of the soundtrack to a psychological thriller. Moreover, its guitars sound as raw and venomous as they can be, bringing all the heaviness and madness found in the music by the iconic Ministry, for example. Then putting the pedal to the metal [P.U.T] offer a high-octane mix of modern-day Rock N’ Roll with classic Industrial Metal titled In Conflict, where Loïc and Nicolas are in absolute sync with their riffs while all background voices and sound effects add a touch of lunacy to the music; and the roaring bass lines by Lionel ignite the dark and devilish Down, showcasing pugnacious gnarls and steady, fierce beats that live up to the legacy of Sludge and Stoner Metal the likes of Down (and I dare to say this is not a coincidence at all), all embraced and spiced up by additional orchestral elements. Closing the first half of the album, Opressed is perhaps the most electronic and weird of all tracks, presenting elements from contemporary Electronic Pop and Rock à la Daft Punk and Kraftwerk such as robotic voices and a dancing rhythm, all without forgetting the fury of rock music flowing from its guitars.

I Am Here is a cinematic and very experimental track by [P.U.T], with its wicked noises and futuristic atmosphere invading our senses before the disruptive Angry comes crushing, and that’s exactly how they sound, firing crude, unfiltered riffs from their flammable guitars and grunting rabidly nonstop. Furthermore, this is another interesting hybrid of the vicious music by acts like Ministry and Rob Zombie with the band’s own demented twist. And sounding like unstoppable machines from an assembly line, the trio delivers another vicious song entitled Possesed, where once again the guitars by Loïc and  Nicolas exhale rage while the low-tuned bass lines by Lionel bring even more insanity to their music; it just goes on for a little too long, though, but nothing that hurts the overall quality of the album.  In Not Your Dog the brothers are back to a more rockin’ sonority, bringing forward their trademark raspy vocals and visceral riffs and leaning towards old school Sludge Metal with a doom-ish vibe, offering the listener some piercing guitar solos as a “bonus”, whereas their coup de grâce comes in the form of a neck-breaking, eccentric creation titled Pain, with the sound of guitars being boosted by Lionel’s menacing bass in a good balance between mechanized, ethereal sounds and sheer aggression, flowing wickedly until its Stygian ending.

In a nutshell, [P.U.T] (or the Beyet Brothers, if you prefer) worked as hard an united as the family they are in We Are [Br]others, generating a must-have album for admirers of this more eccentric and experimental side of alternative music commonly referred to as Industrial Sludge Noise. Hence, if all their noises and distortions are your cup of tea, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook, and buy your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page or from the Cursed Monk Records’ BandCamp page. Much more than just regular brothers, Loïc, Lionel and Nicolas are extremely talented musicians, channeling all their energy and creativity into a very entertaining rock and electronic party, and therefore keeping underground alternative music relevant, vibrant and fresh.

Best moments of the album: Nothing, In Conflict and Angry.

Worst moments of the album: Possesed.

Released in 2019 Cursed Monk Records

Track listing
1. In Control 6:10
2. Nothing 3:15
3. In Conflict 3:15
4. Down 4:27
5. Opressed 5:41
6. I Am Here 2:53
7. Angry 6:04
8. Possesed 7:20
9. Not Your Dog 4:32
10. Pain 6:58

Band members
Loïc Beyet – guitar, voice, programming
Lionel Beyet – bass, programming, voice
Nicolas Beyet – guitar, voice

Album Review – Rammstein / Rammstein (2019)

A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.

Since the band’s inception in 1994 in the stunning German city of Berlin, Neue Deutsche Härte six-man institution Rammstein has been shaking the foundations of the earth with their unparalleled fusion of classic Industrial Metal and contemporary Heavy Metal, all spiced up of course by their controversial lyrics (most of the time in their mother tongue German), their industrial-inspired attire and their incendiary live performances. And it was just like that from their debut album Herzeleid, released in 1995, until their 2009 release Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, before the band went on an unprecedented hiatus that left their fans wondering if the band would ever get back in action to crush our senses with their wicked creations.

Fortunately for all of us, fans of the crazy and electrifying music blasted by lead vocalist Till Lindemann, lead guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe, rhythm guitarist Paul Landers, bassist Oliver Riedel, keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz and drummer Christoph Schneider (a lineup that has remained unchanged throughout the band’s existence, by the way), Rammstein have just returned now in 2019 better than ever with their untitled seventh studio album, also known by many as Rammstein, their first studio album in a decade, bringing to our avid ears everything we’ve learned to love in their music through the years and more. Featuring a minimalist and captivating artwork by Rocket & Wink, the band’s brand new masterpiece offers an amalgamation of their past, present and future, with elements from all of their albums such as Sehnsucht and Mutter, without sounding repetitive or outdated; quite the contrary, the entire album simply rocks.

The album couldn’t have started in a more brilliant way than with their newborn anthem Deutschland (or “Germany” in their mother tongue), bringing forward the perfect fusion of electronic and metal music right from the very first second. Its backing vocals will definitely mesmerize you, while Mr. Lindemann leads his industrial horde in this passionate ode to their homeland. Moreover, Christian is also sensational with his keys and synths, and I’m not even going to talk about the song’s official video, which is in my opinion one of the best videos ever made in the history of music. Radio is another classic and powerful depiction of what Neue Deutsche Härte is all about, with Richard and Paul slashing their strings beautifully and putting us to dance together with the band, also featuring a chorus perfect for singing along with them even if your German is extremely rudimentary. Then it’s time for The Academic Choir and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Television and Radio Company of Belarus, Minsk to add a touch of epicness to the bold and violent Industrial Metal tune Zeig Dich (“show yourself”), where Richard, Paul and Oliver are on fire with their stringed weapons, while Christoph pounds his drums just the way we like it and Mr. Lindemann is once again flawless with his demented vocals.

Ausländer (“foreigner”) is by far the most disco-dancing song of the album, boosted by the band’s trademark riffs and beats and its acid and fun official video (which is another work-of-art). As a matter of fact, Rammstein are so good in what they do they’re capable of making metalheads enjoy dance music, and pay good attention to the song’s lyrics as they’re sung in several languages like French, Italian and English. It’s time to get heavier and more immoral than ever (something those German guys know how to do to perfection) with Sex, with Oliver and Christoph dictating the song’s violent rhythm. In the end, you’ll either crack your neck banging your head or have some wild sex while listening to it, both being highly recommended activities, of course. And the Belarusian orchestra returns for another round of majestic sounds in Puppe (“doll”), the most obscure and vile of all songs, with the vocals by Mr. Lindemann exhaling anger, fear and anguish while Christoph shows no mercy for his drums.

The romantic and enfolding Was Ich Liebe (“what I love”) is another great song showcasing rumbling bass lines, rhythmic beats and the always whimsical keys by Christian, and by far the one with the most melodic guitar lines of the entire album; whereas in the touching Diamant (“diamond”) the music remains utterly ominous while Mr. Lindemann darkly recites its lyrics, feeling as melancholic, beautiful and dense as it can be, or in other words, it’s absolutely awesome. Then Christian takes the lead in the modern Industrial Metal song Weit Weg (“far away”), where a delicate but at the same time potent background provides all Mr. Lindemann needs to thrive on vocals, with the riffs and solos by Richard and Paul bringing even more electricity to the overall result, followed by Tattoo, which kind of sounds taken from one of their previous albums. Put differently, it’s pure Neue Deutsche Härte tailored for the band’s diehard fans, with Christoph hammering our heads violently with his unstoppable, mechanized beats, while the song’s guitar riffs will cut your skin deep. Hence, I would simply love to listen to those Teutonic metallers playing this neck-breaking tune live. And lastly, Oliver makes the earth tremble with his bass punches in Hallomann (“Helloman” / “Announcer”), closing the album on a high note with the music flowing smoothly until its climatic and serene ending.

In a nutshell, anything I say about the brand new opus by the one and only Rammstein won’t be enough to describe its density, depth and energy. We’re facing the best rock and metal album of the year, my friends, there’s no doubt about that, and you can enjoy each and every song from such distinct release directly from the band’s official YouTube channel or on Spotify, and of course buy your copy of this multi-layered feast of top-of-the-line Neue Deutsche Härte from your favorite retailer by clicking HERE. As a matter of fact, I guess the best words that can be used to depict the music found in Rammstein are the ones already sung by Mr. Lindemann & Co. in the opening track of the album. “Deutschland / Mein Herz in Flammen / Will dich lieben und verdammen / Deutschland / Dein Atem kalt / So jung / Und doch so alt / Deutschland!”

Best moments of the album: Deutschland, Radio, Zeig Dich, Puppe and Tattoo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Universal Music

Track listing
1. Deutschland 5:23
2. Radio 4:37
3. Zeig Dich 4:15
4. Ausländer 3:51
5. Sex 3:56
6. Puppe 4:33
7. Was Ich Liebe 4:29
8. Diamant 2:34
9. Weit Weg 4:20
10. Tattoo 4:11
11. Hallomann 4:11

Band members
Till Lindemann – lead vocals
Richard Z. Kruspe – lead guitar, backing vocals
Paul Landers – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Oliver Riedel – bass guitar
Christian “Flake” Lorenz – keyboards, samples, synthesizers
Christoph Schneider – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
The Academic Choir and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Television and Radio Company of Belarus, Minsk – strings, choir on “Zeig Dich” and “Puppe”
Meral Al-Mer – backing vocals on “Deutschland” and “Tattoo”
Carla Bruhn – backing vocals on “Hallomann”

Album Review – Rifftera / Across the Acheron (2019)

Let’s brave the waters of the Acheron to the sound of the brand new opus by this talented Melodic Death and Thrash Metal squad from Finland.

If in 2015 a Finnish Melodic Death Metal band that goes by the stylish name of Rifftera stunned us all with their  aggressive and futuristic debut opus Pitch Black, now in 2019 it’s time for this talented Vaasa-base squad comprised of Janne Hietala and Mikko Kuoppamaa on vocals and guitars, Jupe Karhu on bass, Antti Pöntinen on keyboards and newcomer Ville Härkönen on drums to take another amazing step in their more-than-promising career with Across the Acheron, which is not only their sophomore release but an album that exhales harmony, electricity and rage, bringing a well-balanced and thrilling fusion of Death and Thrash Metal for both fans of what the band presented in their previous album as well as newcomers to their whimsical realm of modern-day metal music.

Featuring once again a beautiful cover art by Petri Lampela, who besides Rifftera has already worked with other excellent bands like  Vinide and Ratbreed, Across the Acheron might have taken longer than expected to be released, but the wait was definitely worth it as each and every song of the album is an absolute feast of first-class Melodic Death Metal. “The aim was basically to take steps forward from our debut in every aspect and we are really happy with the result. In my honest and not at all biased opinion I think that clear improvement was achieved musically, lyrically and production-wise,” commented lead singer and guitarist Janne, complementing his thought by saying that “when it comes to comparing the music between Across the Acheron and Pitch Black, I would say that our expression has reached new levels on both ends of the spectrum; some parts on the new album are more brutal than anything that what we had on Pitch Black and then again some songs are more straight forward and melodic than before. Overall it could be described that the building blocks are the same but writing and performing skills have evolved.”

The opening track Burning Paradise already showcases an epic start led by the always cinematic keys by Antti, being gradually joined by all other instruments until all hell breaks loose to a deep, enraged roar by Janne, becoming an almost Blackened Death Metal tune infused with Melodic and Industrial Metal elements where both Janne and Mikki slash their guitars in a piercing manner. Then we have the 8-minute extravaganza Two Sides of the Story, sounding very close to what they did in Pitch Black, with Ville simply demolishing his drums while Jupe and Antti generate a captivating background sounding with their instruments, also delivering tons of harmony and ethereal vibes for our total delight; followed by Eye of the Storm, a rhythmic, imposing and thrilling display of contemporary Scandinavian metal, showcasing pounding drums, epic keys and a dark and menacing atmosphere. Furthermore, Janne and Mikko have a very healthy “duel” of vocal styles, and as they sing during the entire song, it’s indeed beautiful to enjoy their ass-kicking metal music when you’re “in the eye of the storm”.

And those Finnish metallers keep invading our senses with their fusion of futuristic sounds and endless harmony in Cutthroat Game, with both guitars sounding as sharp as a knife while the bass punches by Jupe get even more thunderous then before, accompanied by Ville’s nonstop drums. After such crushing tune, it’s time to speed things up a bit in the superb Cry Wolf, led by Janne’s deranged growls and with Antti bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the sonority through his keys, resulting in what’s the most metallic and visceral of all songs; whereas Warmonger is another brutal composition tailored for cracking your neck in half headbanging, with Mikko’s clean vocals and Antti’s spot-on keys bringing some peace and hope to all devastation blasted by their bandmates. Not only that, the song’s main riff will entice you to keep bang your head nonstop, which obviously means this is an amazing option to be added to their setlist during their live concerts. Things slow down a bit in Deep Waters, getting more melodic, delicate and introspective than its predecessors but still exhaling the band’s characteristic rage, with the always inspiring keys by Antti stealing the spotlight and, therefore, keeping the level of electricity high, setting the stage for the 11-minute aria Across the Acheron, a very detailed and cinematic exhibit of their Melodic Death and Thrash Metal where you’ll be enfolded by inspiring passages, melodious riffs and solos, powerful vocals and violent growls. Moreover, this song has an amazing vibe and a touch of delicacy that only a band like Rifftera can bring you directly from the stunning Scandinavia, ending the album on a high, ominous and majestic mode.

It’s always a pleasure watching a hardworking and honest group of skillful musicians like Rifftera evolving like what they did from Pitch Black to their new album Across the Acheron, and in order to show them our true support don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to listen to their music on Spotify, and of course purchase your copy of Across the Acheron from the Inverse Records webstore, from Record Shop X, from iTunes, or from Amazon. In ancient Greek mythology, the Acheron was known as the “river of woe”, and was one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld. Having said that, I guess it’s time for all of us fans of Melodic Death Metal to brave the waters of the Acheron together with Rifftera, and face all the perils the underworld might bring us to the sound of their brand new and excellent album.

Best moments of the album: Eye of the Storm, Cry Wolf and Warmonger.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Burning Paradise 6:12
2. Two Sides of the Story 8:04
3. Eye of the Storm 6:34
4. Cutthroat Game 6:12
5. Cry Wolf 5:08
6. Warmonger 6:29
7. Deep Waters 4:50
8. Across the Acheron 11:20

Band members
Janne Hietala – guitars, harsh vocals
Mikko Kuoppamaa – guitars, clean vocals
Jupe Karhu – bass
Antti Pöntinen – keyboards
Ville Härkönen – drums

Album Review – Soilwork / Verkligheten (2019)

One of the biggest exponents of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene returns in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.

Although most people consider Helsingborg-based metal masters Soilwork to play a fusion of Metalcore and Melodic Groove Metal nowadays instead of the Melodic Death Metal we got used to from their early albums, I personally still see them as one of the biggest exponents of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene, having influenced (and still inspiring) countless bands worldwide, like for example Trivium. And to prove how relevant and ass-kicking the band is after all these years on the road, frontman Björn “Speed” Strid and his henchmen David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret on the guitars, Sven Karlsson on the keyboards and newcomer Bastian Thusgaard on drums are releasing upon humanity the superb Verkligheten, the eleventh studio album in their undisputed career.

Verkligheten, which by the way is the Swedish word for “reality”, is not only the first Soilwork album to feature Bastian on drums as the replacement of longtime member Dirk Verbeuren (who left the band to join Megadeth a couple of years ago), but it also marks the longest gap between their studio albums to date, with their previous installment, The Ride Majestic, having been released nearly three and a half years earlier. Well, at least the wait was absolutely worth it, because if there’s one word that can be used to describe the music found in Verkligheten is “addictive”. You won’t skip any song from the album, and as soon as it’s over you’ll go back to the first track and listen to everything all over again, which in other words means we’re undoubtedly facing a very strong candidate to be elected one of the best albums of 2019.

The title-track Verkligheten, a Western movie-Tarantino-inspired instrumental intro, flows smoothly and serene, inviting us all to join Soilwork in the realm of Melodic Death Metal with the crushing Arrival, presenting some pulverizing elements from Black Metal added to their core musicality, in special the demonic blast beats by Bastian, all enhanced by its classic lyrics beautifully declaimed by Björn (“The sky reflects in my hands / You took my world ’cause you can / Is it just me or is the light / Oh read me, you dust ridden seer / And prepare for the night”). The album couldn’t have started in a more thrilling and vibrant way, I might say. Moving on with the music, speed and violence are replaced with heaviness and an enfolding melody in the headbanging Bleeder Despoiler, where both David and Sylvain are on absolute fire with their scorching riffs, not to mention how the background keys by Sven and Bastian’s rhythmic drums complement each other flawlessly, and the band keeps blowing our speakers with their very melodic and fierce music in Full Moon Shoals, where once again all instruments are thoroughly connected, resulting in a dense and visceral sound complemented by another shot of their pensive and poetic words (“Anyone would cure it with blindness / There were moments where I thought I could be / A man who’s aching for the hour of closure / Darkness clearly kept on covering my needs / But it’s not what it seems / It’s just an inner endless shriek”).

Blending the most slashing elements from Rock N’ Roll, Melodic Death Metal and even Industrial Metal, Soilwork offer us an amazing composition titled The Nurturing Glance, perfect for banging your head, singing along with the band or simply enjoying Björn’s flawless vocal performance accompanied by the precise beats by Bastian, whereas in When the Universe Spoke  a serene intro explodes into top-notch Melodic Death Metal infused with Metalcore and Groove Metal nuances, with both Björn’s clean vocals and harsh growls being potentialized by the strident riffs by the band’s guitar duo (as well as the insane drumming by Bastian). Futuristic waves ignite what feels like a hybrid between contemporary Arch Enemy and Soilwork entitled Stålfågel (or “steel bird” from Swedish), featuring the stunning Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy as a guest vocalist. Björn and Alissa vigorously kick some serious ass together, while David and Sylvain hypnotize us with their riffs and solos in one of the top songs of the album without a shadow of a doubt, and putting the pedal to the metal this Swedish institution fires more of their razor-edged metal music in The Wolves Are Back in Town, showcasing headbanging beats, extremely melodic and sharp guitar lines, and yet another demolishing performance by Björn, spearheading his skillful horde like the true frontman he is.

Verkligheten Digipak CD Cover

Witan also presents a nice balance between harmonious and aggressive sounds, with Björn focusing slightly more on his clean vocals, flowing like a fast arrow until The Ageless Whisper comes ripping our hearts and minds in a solid display of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Moreover, Bastian pounds his drums like there’s no tomorrow, while the band’s guitar duo continue to grind their axes with a lot of precision and energy. Then featuring guest vocals by Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis), Needles and Kin is classic Melodic Death Metal presenting a vibrant fusion of rage, electricity and harmony with the intricate beats by Bastian dictating its rhythm and pace, all boosted by David’s superb guitar solo, before the closing tune You Aquiver, with guest Dave Sheldon (Exes for Eyes, Annihilator) on the guitar, brings to our ears a good mix of their more ferocious side with the whimsical and ethereal sound of the keys by Sven, with best metal (and even non-metal) albums of 2019. Furthermore, what Mr. Björn “Speed” Strid & Co. did in their new album might not be a revolution in music (as some very demanding fans always expect from their favorite bands), but it’s indeed a solid statement that Melodic Death Metal is still alive and kicking, and that Soilwork will continue to be a reference in the genre no matter what happens to the band. Fortunately for us fans of heavy music, the band is far from calling it quits, which means we’ll certainly have the pleasure of enjoying more of their crisp and vibrant metal with their future releases, and if they’re just half as good as Verkligheten we’ll have a very good reason to celebrate and to keep banging our heads together with those Swedish metal icons.

Best moments of the album: Arrival, The Nurturing Glance, Stålfågel and The Wolves Are Back in Town.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Verkligheten (instrumental) 1:44
2. Arrival 3:47
3. Bleeder Despoiler 3:36
4. Full Moon Shoals 4:46
5. The Nurturing Glance 5:24
6. When the Universe Spoke 5:22
7. Stålfågel (feat. Alissa White-Gluz) 4:25
8. The Wolves Are Back in Town 3:24
9. Witan 3:48
10. The Ageless Whisper 5:01
11. Needles and Kin (feat. Tomi Joutsen) 4:57
12. You Aquiver (feat. Dave Sheldon) 4:03

Band members
Björn “Speed” Strid – vocals
David Andersson – lead guitar
Sylvain Coudret – rhythm guitar
Sven Karlsson – keyboards
Bastian Thusgaard – drums

Guest musicians
Alissa White-Gluz – guest vocals on “Stålfågel”
Tomi Joutsen – guest vocals on “Needles and Kin”
Dave Sheldon – guitars on “You Aquiver”
Taylor Nordberg – bass (live)

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018

“Chasing a dream as I go higher
Playing it mean, my heart’s on fire
Living my life, ain’t no pretender
Ready to fight with no surrender.” – No Surrender, by Judas Priest

Another year goes by and, as usual, we lost a lot of good people, including family and friends. In heavy music, 2018 was the year several amazing musicians passed away, such as Dave Holland (former drummer of Judas Priest), Ralph Santolla (former guitarist of Iced Earth, Deicide, Death and Obituary), Vinnie Paul (the talented drummer of Hellyeah, Pantera and Damageplan), Jill Janus (the stunning vocalist of Huntress), and “Fast” Eddie Clarke, one of the meanest guitarists in history and the last of Motörhead’s “Three Amigos”, signaling the definitive end of Motörhead’s classic lineup. Not only that, we also saw the one and only Glenn Tipton, the iconic lead guitarist for Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest and one of the most influential guitar players in the history of metal, opening up about his ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and, as a consequence, having to pull out of the 2018 tour due to his health issues. However, as the Metal Gods themselves sing in their new ass-kicking song No Surrender, we can’t surrender and should keep on fighting with our heads high, always listening to our good old Heavy Metal to inspire us to face our daily struggles.

Enough said already, how about we show the world that we metalheads are still here, always ready for a fight, and that metal music is alive and kicking with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums? From classic bands like Judas Priest, Behemoth and Immortal, to underground bands from all four corners of the earth like Ukraine’s 1914, Australia’s Rise of Avernus and Canada’s Altars of Grief, we can say that 2018 was a damn good year for our beloved Heavy Metal, pointing to a promising future for all its genres and subgenres and proving once again that metal unites us all it doesn’t matter where we live, our culture, language, race or religion. So, get ready to raise your horns and bang your heads nonstop to our selection of best metal albums of the year, and always remember… NO SURRENDER!

1. Judas Priest – Firepower (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Firepower

2. Blaze Bayley – The Redemption of William Black (REVIEW)
What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Enjoy the dramatic conclusion to Blaze’s stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.
Best song of the album: The Dark Side of Black

3. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (REVIEW)
Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before.
Best song of the album: Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica

4. Dragonlord – Dominion (REVIEW)
Exploring themes of darkness, here comes Eric Peterson’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.
Best song of the album: Northlanders

5. Primal Fear – Apocalypse (REVIEW)
The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity and melody.
Best song of the album: The Ritual

6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (REVIEW)
The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Mighty Ravendark

7. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind (REVIEW)
It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these Ukrainian Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen.
Best song of the album: Passchenhell

8. Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau (REVIEW)
Here come Australia’s own Rise of Avernus with their most symphonic, heaviest and darkest opus thus far.
Best song of the album: Eigenlicht

9. Altars of Grief – Iris (REVIEW)
A superb album of Canadian Blackened Doom narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.
Best song of the album: Broken Hymns

10. Marduk – Viktoria (REVIEW)
A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound.
Best song of the album: Viktoria

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

11. Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory (REVIEW)
12. Motorjesus – Race to Resurrection (REVIEW)
13. Borgne – [∞] (REVIEW)
14. SynlakrosS – Malice Murder (REVIEW)
15. Xenoblight – Procreation (REVIEW)
16. Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (REVIEW)
17. Tamerlan Empire – Age of Ascendancy (REVIEW)
18. Coiled Around Thy Spine – Shades (REVIEW)
19. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura (REVIEW)
20. NovaReign – Legends (REVIEW)

In addition, how about another round of awesome albums released this year, this time presenting to you our Top 10 EP’s of 2018? Those shorter-than-a-regular-album but still heavier-than-hell releases are like going to a fancy restaurant, where you might not get a humongous amount of food, but what’s served on your plate is more than enough to please your palate (or your ears, in this case). And, of course, you leave the place eager for more of that tasty and exquisite metal music.

1. Violent Life Violent Death – Come, Heavy Breath (REVIEW)
2. Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad (REVIEW)
3. Godless – Swarm (REVIEW)
4. The Black Swamp – Witches (REVIEW)
5. Progenie Terrestre Pura – starCross (REVIEW)
6. Lebowskii – Liquidators (REVIEW)
7. Geisterwald – Geisterwald (REVIEW)
8. Soul Dissolution – Nowhere (REVIEW)
9. Dark Archive – Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon (REVIEW)
10. Forte Ruin – Rebuilding the Machinery (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2018? Once again don’t forget to check Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Editorial Staff), tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a sensational fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of the underground and independent metal scene!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2019!

And last but not least, if you want to support Glenn Tipton and everyone else on their personal battles against Parkinson’s, you can purchase the official Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation Charity T-shirt by clicking HERE or make a direct donation following the instructions found HERE. You can always help your family, friends and fellow metalheads, as simple as that, and who knows, maybe we can make this world a better place to live.

Metal Chick of the Month – Lilith Astaroth

Kneeling at my feet, encased in black sheaths of ecstasy… Fulfill your deepest desire to submit to me…

It’s time to set fire to The Headbanging Moose with a woman that’s perhaps the most eccentric, distinct and explosive of all metal chicks who have already embellished our pages through the years. She’s not only a professionally trained actress, dancer, singer, performer and an internationally recognized model in the Gothic and fetish genres, having been featured in several publications and websites, but also an activist and the frontwoman for an American metal act that blends the heaviest and most obscure elements from Gothic, Black and Death Metal. If you have absolutely no idea who that woman is, I bet you’ll be stunned by her talent, beauty and passion for music and arts in general. Having said that, let’s cut to the chase and begin our humble tribute to our last metal lady of 2018, the unstoppable and dauntless Lilith Astaroth (also known as Goddess Lilith), lead singer for Boston, Massachusetts-based metal entity Sorrowseed. In other words, are you ready for total chaos and anarchy with Lilith?

Born on October 31, 1997 in Cambridge, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, Lilith loves music from the bottom of her heart, having started her musical pursuits at the age of five when she learned to play the piano. At the age of fourteen, she began to teach herself how to play the guitar, and in the following year she started her first band, curiously named Satan’s Kids, a Grunge and Rock N’ Roll project inspired by the music from icons like Marilyn Manson, Nirvana and Pantera. And Lilith received a lot of criticism in her early days as a singer, as people kept saying she sounded “like a guy” and that she should start singing “like a normal person”. However, despite that continuous criticism, including being kicked out of a band for “screaming too much”, she refused to change her vocal style and kept working hard for several years, until Sorrowseed came along in 2009 after numerous failed band attempts.

Her style of singing combines low guttural growling and high-pitched shrieking, being often compared to famous extreme vocalists like Dani Filth and Angela Gossow, but also exploring after 2010 a more operatic style in the soprano range, like in her 2011 cover version for the classic Christian Woman, by Type O Negative (I guess all women who succumbed to the dark side of music are admirers of the deceased Peter Steele). A true lover of cybergoth, steampunk and latex fashions, Lilith explores her sexuality while creating music at the same time, offering her fans a full-bodied experience during her live performances and on her videos. Using a combination of inhalation and exhalation screams, she is able to produce a vast array of sounds with her voice, turning each live show into a ferocious display of intensity. Since the beginning of her career, she has released several solo works and has lent her voice and performed live with many different projects throughout New England including Sorrowseed, Mostri and Pandora’s Toybox, always loyal to the Doom, Death, Industrial and Gothic Metal styles. Her biggest inspirations when writing and composing music are quite straightforward and interesting. Lilith was very clear and honest when saying that hatred, or unbridled hatred for humanity and its ignorance, always inspire her to write music, as her day-to-day experiences with other human beings gave her plenty of reason to be angry much of the time. Obviously all that hatred and anger couldn’t be better represented than the flammable fusion of Extreme Metal styles from all her bands and projects.

In regards to her most famous project, American Melodic Doom Metal band Sorrowseed, Lilith formed the band in 2009 in Boston highly influenced by bands like Amorphis, Behemoth, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Satyricon and Therion, singing about controversial topics like the Apocalypse and anything related to the total annihilation of mankind, as well as spreading stories of madness, death, destruction, dark mythology and horror to the masses, all embraced by the band’s obscure musicality.  As a matter of fact, the band started in 2008 by Josh Carrig, of Pandora’s Toybox, evolving to its desired shape and form only in 2010, with the concept behind the band being based on the story of two characters, the Reaping Willow and the Scarab Prophet. Lilith obviously portrays the Reaping Willow, who was once the nature Goddess, Demeter.  Over time, she watched humankind’s pollution, ignorant destruction and environmental abuse overcome the earth. She wept for the ignorance of mankind, becoming enraged with madness and, as a consequence, transforming into the Reaping Willow who, along with the Scarab Prophet, is set upon the destruction of mankind, unleashing apocalyptic terror onto humanity. The band has already released one EP titled Portents, in 2009, and four full-length albums since their inception, those being The Extinction Prophecies (2011), Descent of the Scarab Prophet (2012), Dread Sylvan Summonings (2012), and Nemesis Engine (2013), including incendiary songs like Ocean Scorn (and you can always listen to their albums and obviously purchase them from their own BandCamp page). Working as a way for Lilith to channel her powerful feelings into something creative and non-destructive, as she’s always been very much about vengeance, wrath, and destruction, Sorrowseed kick some serious ass live as you can see in their performance during the Damsels of Darkness Tour playing the song Arcana (of the Lich Queen), with their first ever concert happening at the launch party of 420Mass.com during the 2010 Boston Freedom Rally.

You can also find Lilith lending her beautiful and devilish voice to several distinct bands and projects in the world of heavy music, such as doing vocals for Chilean/American Thrash/Death Metal band Angor from 2014 to 2015, and for American Blackened Death Metal band Coffin Birth starting in 2016. She also worked as a guest vocalist in the song Bloodborne Penance, from the 2016 album The Bowels of Chaos, by Coffin Birth; in the song Halle Ravine, from the 2017 album The Sachem’s Tales, by American Atmospheric Black Metal band Dzö-nga; and in the song The Black Feathered Vixen, from the 2013 EP Unleash the Inferno, by American Death Metal one-man band Eric Pellegrini. There are other projects which are not as “clear” as the ones listed above, such as her involvement as the lead singer of Nemesis Engine, a hybrid of ex-Sorrowseed and ex-Theogonia members which was actually a code name used for the revamped Sorrowseed lineup, as well as her participation with other bands including a Melodic Death Metal band (with use of electric violin) with former bandmate Chris Adamcek and Rachel Zuckerman named Akashic Shadow, in 2012, and an upcoming collaboration with Melodic/Progressive Death Metal act Solemn Vision, from New York.

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As aforementioned, Lilith is not only a regular vocalist and musician, but also an actress focused on the underground and independent scene. It was in 2009 when she began exploring the world of acting, starting with taking courses from Harvard University, doing extra work for major films, and landing minor roles in independent films such as God of Vampires, Nun of That, Heaven and Hell, Legless and Scrooge in the Hood. She has also appeared on NESN as a ring girl for Boston Boxing, has done several interviews in the cosplay documentary Cosplayer Nation, appeared on NBC’s The Dr. Keith Show to talk about safety as a public figure on the internet, and appeared several times in the reality-based web series Quiet Desperation. You’ll also find Lilith in many different music videos as an actress, such as When Steel and Bone Meet, by Goatwhore; Misbegotten Candy, Down in the Mire, and Slaves to the Sleigh, by Pandora’s Toybox; Runnin From Jesus, by Matalon; and Babylon Train, by Desar.

Furthermore, you can take a look at her her IMDb profile to see in detail all B-movies, shorts and TV series she’s been featured, like playing a character named Petunia Pete Sawyer in the 2017 comedy-horror movie Groundhog. In addition to that, Lilith has also attended a good amount of public events through the years, like doing public speaking in different editions of the annual Boston Freedom Rally and the Philadelphia Freedom Festival Benefit, as well as constantly improving her acting skills by taking several training sessions and courses like Introduction to Acting and Advanced Acting from Harvard University, in 2009, Acting Shakespeare and Introduction to Public Speaking also from Harvard University, in 2010, and private classes in C.O.R.E. Acting, in 2013. Do you think that’s already a lot for just one person? Well, you better be prepared, because there’s still a lot more to come.

If you haven’t noticed yet, Lilith is also an internationally recognized professional model, having shot in different exotic locations ranging from Iceland to Montreal, Ireland, Costa Rica, London, Germany and Italy, as well as all over the United States, with some of her favorite runway events being the Montreal Fetish Weekend Fashion Show, and the New Designer’s Fashion Show of New England. A versatile model with 8 years of experience and a wide variety of looks, ranging from classic pinup, swimsuit, Gothic, cosplay, fantasy, fetish, sci-fi, horror, among many others, Lilith has already done event hosting, art modeling, spokesmodeling, living art, bodypainting, being a Ring Girl, Go-Go dancing, and modeling for some of the edgiest latex designers emerging in the fetish fashion scene. However, when asked which career out of music, modeling, dancing and acting she would like to pursue the most, our devilish goddess said music is what she’s really focused on (as we all know, screaming is something that has always been very natural to her), but she also truly wants to pursue professional acting to the fullest. Acting is according to Lilith herself the most challenging of all activities because there’s always room for improvement with anyone, but finding appropriately paying work in modeling and dancing is the most challenging thing she’s been facing on a regular basis. In addition, maintaining a healthy balance of all those activities and responsibilities is not an easy task at all (by the way, she’s also a LMT – Licensed Massage Therapist, an activist for cannabis legalization, animal rights, and preservation of nature, and a reiki master), but as a great and very efficient multi-tasker she is, nothing stops Lilith from always moving forward in her life and career.

One very important topic to Lilith is her utmost support to the legalization of marijuana, and she has a very strong opinion about what should be done in this case. In one of her interviews, she said that people need to focus the war on drugs against the real problems, like pills, which originate with drug companies, and crime which is funded in large part from marijuana. In her own words, Lillith said that “no one is making pills at home – they come from drug companies with bad policies, operating under bad laws with bad inventory and bad control, they have huge lobby groups that let them get away with this and pills have become one of the most major problems in America.” She complemented by saying that she personally would rather not put any chemicals in her body or take the risk of becoming addicted to a chemical, and she has found that she doesn’t need to take those risks, because marijuana helps alleviate her health issues. “We need to take ‘the money’ out of the illegal marijuana equation; by legalizing and regulating we would lower the prices by lowering the value (the price is artificially propped up by its illegal status), and this would take a big bite out of the pocketbook that funds guns and harder drugs, and open the door to affordable, safe and legal medical marijuana.”

When asked in one of her interviews about the current music scene in the United States and what has changed since she started her career in 2009, Lilith said that it actually hasn’t changed much, despite an increase in the number of metal bands in her area, New England, which according to Lilith herself is at the same time a good and a bad thing because some of those bands are very talented, but others are just terrible. She also said there are some bands she’s a good friend of, such as Faces of Bayon, Matalon, Abnormality, AbSynthe, Necrophiliac Meat Circus, Fever Vein and Voices of the Dead, among others, and that she loves to meet and work with bands that play a similar style to hers because those are not only easier to keep in touch, but to also play more shows together. And last but not least, when asked how important her fans are to her, she was pretty straightforward saying that without fans there would be no one to perform for. She does her best to treat her fans well and hook them up with good prices and merch, and communicate with them every day through her website and all her social media. That being said, I guess no one can complain at all that Lilith is a lazy or an arrogant person; quite the contrary, although we all know how unique she is, the world of metal music definitely needs more women with the same attitude, stamina and passion as the multi-talented Lilith Astaroth.

Lilith Astaroth’s Official Facebook page (music)
Lilith Astaroth’s Official Facebook page (acting & modeling)
Lilith Astaroth’s Official YouTube channel
Lilith Astaroth’s Official Twitter
Goddess Lilith’s Official Instagram
Goddess Lilith’s Official Twitter
Sorrowseed’s Official Facebook page
Sorrowseed’s Official YouTube channel
Sorrowseed’s Official Twitter

“Since I was young, I’ve always been the center of attention. My parents were always sticking a camera or video camera in my face, so I got used to it early. It wasn’t until I was 15, however, that I decided I wanted to front a band. Oddly enough, it was Nirvana that inspired me to find this path. I taught myself how to play guitar and formed my first band shortly thereafter.” – Lilith Astaroth

Album Review – Down To The Heaven / [level -1] (2018)

Bringing forth complex arrangements combined with a large dose of modern electronic music, here comes a metal unity from Poland ready to smash our senses with their debut album of incendiary Metalcore and Djent.

Electronicore, also known as Trancecore or Synthcore, is a fusion of Metalcore and Djent with elements of various electronic music genres, such as trance, electronica, and dubstep, with bands and artists like Attack Attack! in the United States and Enter Shikari in the UK having contributed to the development and the dissemination of the genre all over the world. Furthermore, it looks like the style has been expanding in a healthy and interesting way in recent years with the rising of bands like Switzerland’s own Rage Of Light and Polish Metalcore/Djent unity Down To The Heaven, who are releasing this year their debut album curiously titled [level -1].

Formed in 2013 in the city of Bielsko-Biała, Down To The Heaven have all it takes to become one of the references in Eletronicore and Djent. Comprised of Rusty on vocals, Shaun and Majster on the guitars, Grzela on bass, Cyfrowe Zło on keys and electronic noises, and Hoomer on drums, the band brings forth a style characterized by complex arrangements with heavy guitar playing combined with a large dose of melody and modern electronic music. In [level -1], which was mixed and mastered at Seeker Studio in Wrocław, Poland in 2017 and which features a modern and captivating artwork by Sztuczny Horyzont, this Polish six-piece act showcases all they got, being ready to smash your senses with their vicious and rumbling sounds and noises.

As if a wicked horror flick was about to begin, a creepy intro titled Down to the… gets heavier and heavier as time goes by, generating a metallic and embracing atmosphere for the demolishing Catharsis, where frontman Rusty barks deeply like a beast while the whimsical keys by Cyfrowe Zło make a vibrant contrast with the furious beats by Hoomer, resulting in a fantastic and modern hybrid between Metalcore, Industrial Metal and Melodic Death Metal. Then Shaun and Majster ignite another crushing feast of sounds named Lost in Memories with their cutting riffs, while Grzela will make your head tremble with his sick bass lines. Moreover, the music remains bold and thunderous from start to finish, proving how talented and heavy Down To The Heaven are. And putting the pedal to the metal the band blasts sheer madness and aggression in Unbroken, an excellent sample of contemporary Djent infused with elements from heavier styles where Rusty is once again demented on vocals, while Cyfrowe Zło brings insanity to the music with his keys and special effects.

Even more modernized and eccentric than its predecessors, No Vision is a movie-inspired instrumental extravaganza where its beautiful piano notes go along really well with the guitar solos and the mesmerizing atmosphere, whereas in Kingdom of Delusion it actually feels we’re “entering” a movie, with the rhythmic and tribal beats by Hoomer setting the stage for Rusty and his deranged, lunatic growls. In addition, the music evolves to a potent industrialized sounding, with both Shaun and Majster firing sheer electricity through their crisp riffs. In Tyrant’s Fall we’re treated to an explosion of modern-day Metalcore with an electronic and demented twist, led by Cyfrowe Zło and his piercing keys while Hoomer keeps pounding and smashing his drums and Rusty growls the song’s rebellious lyrics (“Arise in rage! / Image of madness / Dripping from rusty chains / Like deadly poison inside our brains / Blood under feet / Groan of tormented souls / Who’s lurking behind the Throne / BURN THEM ALL!”), before We Are, the last track of the album, continues to punch you in the head with the violent sounds extracted from all instruments, being effectively complemented by the most electronic noises of the entire album. Moreover, the song also presents clean vocals at times, making the whole experience of listening to it even more tasteful and, therefore, ending the album on a high and wicked note.

In summary, Down To The Heaven nailed it in [level -1], creating something truly unique by adding their own twist and electricity to the already innovative Eletronicore, and if you want to know more about this skillful act from Poland simply pay them a visit on Facebook for news, tour dates and other shenanigans, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and purchase [level -1] directly from their BandCamp page or from iTunes. Put differently, if it’s fresh and modern music you’re craving, but without giving up that raw and aggressive vibe from heavy music, it’s time you get “down to the heaven”.

Best moments of the album: Catharsis, Unbroken and Tyrant’s Fall.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Down to the… 3:25
2. Catharsis 5:02
3. Lost in Memories 3:48
4. Unbroken 4:10
5. No Vision 6:07
6. Kingdom of Delusion 5:51
7. Tyrant’s Fall 3:32
8. We Are 3:02

Band members
Rusty – vocals
Shaun – guitar
Majster – guitar
Grzela – bass
Cyfrowe Zło – electronic noises, keys
Hoomer – drums

Album Review – Ritual Aesthetic / Wound Garden (2018)

One of Denver’s most promising metal outfits returns with a hard-hitting album of terrifying digital aggression, blending melodic dance rhythms, harsh metal guitars and dark experimental noise atmospheres.

Formed in 2013 in Denver, Colorado, in the United States by Sean Ragan (also known as Sean Von Helvete), who was drumming for Los Angeles-based Industrial/Melodic Black Metal band Dawn of Ashes at that time, Industrial Metal outfit Ritual Aesthetic returns in 2018 with their second full-length installment titled Wound Garden, not only a follow-up to their 2014 debut release Decollect, but more important than that, a highly recommended album of terrifying digital aggression for fans of the most demented form of industrial music, blending melodic dance rhythms, harsh metal guitars, aggressive EBM styled vocals and dark experimental noise atmospheres.

What was born as a solo project by Sean quickly evolved into a full-bodied mechanized beast, now featuring the aforementioned Sean on vocals, Grant Nachbur on the guitar, Daniel Combs on bass and Jeremy Portz on drums, delivering high-quality, berserk Industrial Metal through their sharp instruments. Written by Sean and Jeremy together with Alex Crescioni and Ron Hutchinson, engineered by Sean in Denver, and mixed and mastered by Alex Crescioni at Stygian Sound in Los Angeles, Wound Garden is a step forward in the career of Ritual Aesthetic, showcasing a focused and talented band that definitely knows how to effectively travel between the worlds of electronic and metal music, always sounding fresh, vibrant and insane for our total delectation.

An ominous and mechanized intro named Stasis kicks off the album by setting the stage for the sonic onrush entitled Life Amnesia, where the quartet gives a lesson in lunacy, blasting piercing, industrialized sounds spearheaded by Sean and his eccentric roars. Furthermore, the song’s background electronic effects help boost its impact even more, not to mention Jeremy’s assembly line-like pounding beats. And The Analog Flesh feels almost like an ode to the thunderous music by giants like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and Fear Factory, blending the most powerful elements from Industrial Metal and Neue Deutsche Härte, with the guitar lines by Grant being at the same time very subtle but as venomous as hell.

And it looks like their wicked party has no time to end, as they blast another dense and disruptive Industrial Metal tune titled Divided, where the guitars and background keys create an interesting paradox of sounds while Sean continues his ode to madness through his raspy growls; followed by the slower, darker and more demonic Dread, showcasing creepy guitar lines and vocalizations, as well as a heavy as hell atmosphere, cutting our skin deep from the very first second just like what happens in Malefaktor, a modernized wall of industrial and robotic sounds and noises. Throughout this insane tune, Daniel and Jeremy beautifully generate a rumbling and Stygian base for Sean and his demented vocals.

If you think their regular music is not weird enough for your twisted mind, you’ll have a sonic orgasm with the rest of the album, where Ritual Aesthetic offer the best of the metal and electronic worlds combined. The first remixed tune of this wicked combo is called Mechanism Of Desire (Electronic Substance Abuse Remix), being highly recommended for lovers of pure industrial and electronic music, sounding as crazy and eccentric as it can be with the help of their friends from British Industrial Noise project Electronic Substance Abuse. Then it’s time for American Industrial Metal act Seraphim System to experiment with Ritual Aesthetic’s music in Chemical Weapons (Seraphim System Remix), also bringing forth a metallic, industrialized extravaganza of sounds, almost like the soundtrack to a horror movie. And last but not least, it’s American Dark Electro entity Xentrifuge who adds huge dosages of electricity to the song Amnesiac (Xentrifuge Remix), with Sean’s vocals matching perfectly the music proposed.

In a nutshell, if you’re searching for a crisp and heavy alternative in the world of Industrial Metal, Ritual Aesthetic are among us to offer you exactly what you’re craving in the form of Wound Garden, which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to such distinct entity from the always fruitful underground Industrial Metal scene by paying a visit to their official Facebook page, and grab your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Cleopatra Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. And then, as soon as you have Wound Garden on your hands, let your soul be embraced by its hard-hitting mechanized sounds. You won’t regret having that wicked experience at all.

Best moments of the album: The Analog Flesh and Divided.

Worst moments of the album: Dread.

Released in 2018 Cleopatra Records

Track listing 
1. Stasis 1:29
2. Life Amnesia 4:27
3. The Analog Flesh 3:32
4. Divided 4:33
5. Dread 3:12
6. Malefaktor 4:33
7. Mechanism Of Desire (Electronic Substance Abuse Remix) 6:58
8. Chemical Weapons (Seraphim System Remix) 3:23
9. Amnesiac (Xentrifuge Remix) 5:11

Band members
Sean Ragan – vocals
Grant Nachbur – guitar
Daniel Combs – bass
Jeremy Portz – drums

Album Review – Progenie Terrestre Pura / starCross EP (2018)

Embark on an exciting journey across the stars with the new concept album by this Italian Atmospheric Black Metal act, representing a further evolutionary step in their distinct career.

Initially announced as a complementary EP to last year’s album oltreLuna, the new album by Italian Atmospheric Black Metal act Progenie Terrestre Pura (which translates as “Pure Terrestrial Progeny”), entitled starCross, turned out to be an even more powerful and impressive opus than this Veneto-based band comprised of Emanuele Prandoni on vocals, Davide Colladon on guitars, drum programming and synths, and Fabrizio Sanna on bass could have imagined. Featuring a classy artwork by visual artist Kuldar Leement, starCross uses its 30 minutes to tell a precise story, as the EP is an all-round concept release based on a tale written by the band’s mastermind Davide Colladon.

In order to make the release fully understandable beyond the Italian borders, the band decided to use English for the first time in their career. The music, either, is very different from what could be heard on everything Progenie Terrestre Pura (also known as “q[T]p”) ever released since their inception in 2009. “starCross represents a further evolutionary step for qTp”, says Colladon, “its sound is extremely connected to the story it tells, which is pretty dark. My intention was to recall thrilling sci-fi masterworks such as Ridley Scott’s Alien, Grant Morrison’s Nameless and the Dead Space videogame saga.” In other words, get ready to embrace fear, madness and despair in the darkest Progenie Terrestre Pura release to date, and prepare yourself for what might be your last trip across the stars.

The band wastes no time in starCross by offering us Chant of Rosha, an atmospheric, futuristic intro from outer space, enfolding us and taking us to the whimsical world of Progenie Terrestre Pura, warming up our senses to the breathtaking Toward a Distant Moon, an explosion of the most disruptive elements from Black Metal led by the razor-edged guitar lines by Davide, with Emanuele’s enraged growls creating an electrifying paradox with the excellent background choir, remaining vibrant, ethereal and aggressive from start to finish for our total delight. And that electricity keeps permeating the air, as the music builds a cinematic connection with the also impactful Twisted Silhouette, starting in an eerie manner with a dark narration before all hell breaks loose, with the song’s demolishing beats together with Davide’s crisp riffs and Fabrizio’s thunderous bass building the perfect stage for Emanuele to fire his harsh growls, also adding tons of progressiveness to its core. In the end, you’ll get deliciously lost in all the madness, wicked noises and flammable sounds blasted by the band throughout the entire song.

Progenie Terrestre Pura starCross A5 Digipack Edition

The Greatest Loss also showcases a modern and creepy intro that morphs into a blend of Atmospheric Black Metal with Industrial Metal, with all mechanized elements and nuances bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the overall result. Furthermore, Davide does a superb job with his guitar and synths by generating a menacing ambience perfect for Emanuele’s growls, with the last part of the song being a heavier version of the industrial music played by bands like Ministry and KMFDM. And finally, q[T]p’s last blast of obscure, futuristic movie-inspired music comes in the form of a bizarre outro named Invocat, where future meets past with electrified and cold, mechanic sounds being complemented by a background Gregorian chant.

Do you have what it takes to join q[T]p in their metallic space odyssey? If the answer is yes, you can get to know more about the band, their tour dates and future plans on their official Facebook page, and purchase starCross (available for a full and detailed listen on YouTube and on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel as a very, very special A5 Digipack CD, showcasing a brand new  artwork (courtesy of Italian artist Ballak., who gave a face and a spaceship to the main character of the starCross concept, Robert I.C. Cross) and including the storyline of the EP in its entirety. You can also buy it from other regular retail places such as iTunes, Amazon and discogs (in vinyl or CD format), but if I were you I would certainly go for the A5 Digipack edition of the album, because if you’re going on a musical voyage through the stars, you better be armed with the best weapon and soundtrack available at the same time, right?

Best moments of the album: Toward a Distant Moon and The Greatest Loss.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Avantgarde Music

Track listing 
1. Chant of Rosha 2:22
2. Toward a Distant Moon 6:41
3. Twisted Silhouette 8:02
4. The Greatest Loss 7:50
5. Invocat 4:31

Band members
Emanuele Prandoni – vocals
Davide Colladon – guitars, drum programming, synths
Fabrizio Sanna – bass