Album Review – Bolu2 Death / Spiral (2018)

Aiming at becoming a reference in the Spanish underground scene, this up-and-coming “Flamencore hate crew” returns with their most ambitious release to date.

Born in 2009 as a side project based on Heavy Metal and Hardcore with electronic music and flamenco influences, to the point their music can also be labeled as “Flamencore”, Spanish quartet Bolu2 Death has been making a name for themselves in their homeland since the release of their 2011 debut album, titled Aviate, becoming a reference in the Spanish underground scene. Following the success of Aviate, the band continued to pave their path with a series of steady releases, those being Mastica Tus Dientes in 2013, Dualitas in 2016 (which by the way was elected “Album Of The Year” by Metal Nacional, a Spanish written metal webzine), and their brand new album Spiral now in 2018, their most ambitious release to date which aims at establishing this “Flamencore hate crew” comprised of Mario Lérida on vocals, Jose Luis Corrales on the guitar, Juan Miguel Ramírez on bass and Francisco Llévenes on drums as one of the most important bands in modern-day Spanish Metal.

The alternative, futuristic intro (0) sets up the stage to the electrifying Nace, Crece y Muere (which would translate from Spanish as “all is born, grows and dies”), a high-end Alternative and Nu Metal tune made in Spain where the demented growls and distorted noises blasted by the band will darken your mind and inspire you to break your neck headbanging, with Francisco simply crushing his drums. We Bleed, We Fight is a rebellious anthem of Alternative Metal, showcasing rumbling and metallic sounds extracted by Juan Miguel from his bass while Mario delivers some truly enraged words (“No, I don´t wanna be like you, never / I don´t wanna be like you / We must look at the past but never look back / We bleed, we fight / Create the path of your life / We will try again, come on, come on”); whereas Smells Like 90´s Spirit is a tribute to all bands from the 90’s that helped shape up the band’s musicality (“It´s the time when we grew up / Music came into our lives / We will never forget the smell / Que nos hizo amar / Nothing will ever be the same / But it in my heart the world doesn’t change / I give thanks for all”) in the form of another feast of extreme and modernized sounds, this time led by the sharp guitar lines by Jose Luis.

Todo y Nada could easily be used as the soundtrack to a wicked underground movie, where the band turns their instruments into noise-making machines and with Mario shaping his vocals in an inhuman, eerie way, being perfect for fans of both modern Industrial Metal and the Nu Metal played by bands like Korn. Then we have Forgiveness, a slower and more introspective creation by Bolu2 Death that sounds too “30 Seconds to Mars” to me, lacking the band’s usual violence and speed, and the whimsical instrumental bridge (vortice), warming up our senses for  the low-tuned, thunderous Korn-inspired chant I Am Doomed, where the entire band brings forward a high level of aggressiveness, dementia and heaviness, especially Jose Luis and Juan Manuel with their strings, while Mario vociferates sheer insanity from start to finish.

I like how they mix English and Spanish throughout the entire album, and they do it in great fashion in what’s perhaps the best depiction of what they call “Flamencore”, the fun and fresh Los De Arriba, followed by Statues, less belligerent but still very melodic and modern, becoming a great choice for banging your head together with the band and displaying a strong performance by Mario with both his clean and harsh vocals. Bury Yourself is another introspective composition by the Spanish quartet led by the thunderous riffs and bass lines by their stringed duo, losing its grip after a while despite their solid job done to keep it heavy and vibrant; while A.R.R. is a melancholic, cinematic bridge with a dark narration guiding us to the obscurity and rage blasted in the title-track Spiral, featuring guest vocalist Juan A. Soler “Kantz” (Tenpel, De la Cuna a la Tumba, Delobos, The Holy), presenting a fantastic balance between clean vocals during the darkest parts and harsh gnarls during the heaviest and most visceral moments, offering the listener over six minutes of modern and thrilling metal music that flows into a wicked downward spiral ending.

In summary, Bolu2 Death, who can be found on Facebook and on YouTube, sounds more mature, modern and experimental than ever in Spiral, proving the band is not exaggerating when they say they want to become a reference in contemporary metal in their homeland. And if you want to show your true support to such distinct group, go buy your copy of Spiral from their own BandCamp or webstore, as well as from the Necromance Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and from iTunes. Bolu2 Death offer music that inspires us to bang our heads and dance at the same time in Spiral, and they do it in such great fashion they truly deserve the recognition they’ve been gaining in Spain and in the rest of the world.

Best moments of the album: Nace, Crece y Muere, We Bleed, We Fight, I Am Doomed and Spiral.

Worst moments of the album: Forgiveness and Bury Yourself.

Released in 2018 Necromance Records

Track listing
1. (0) 0:52
2. Nace, Crece y Muere 3:58
3. We Bleed, We Fight 3:57
4. Smells Like 90´s Spirit 4:34
5. Todo y Nada 4:41
6. Forgiveness 4:12
7. (vortice) 2:00
8. I Am Doomed 3:19
9. Los De Arriba 3:43
10. Statues 4:07
11. Bury Yourself 4:02
12. A.R.R. 2:10
13. Spiral (feat. Kantz) 6:21

Band members
Mario Lérida – vocals
Jose Luis Corrales – guitar
Juan Miguel Ramírez – bass
Francisco Llévenes – drums 

Guest musician
Juan A. Soler “Kantz” – vocals on “Spiral”

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Album Review – Preludio Ancestral / Oblivion (2018)

A magnificent opus of epic-painted Power Metal with symphonic arrangements and amazing guitar work, where various guest musicians help give form to an album that will be a delight for any lover of the genre.

Formed back in 2005 by guitarist Leonardo Gatti in San Miguel, a city in the northwest region of Greater Buenos Aires located around 30km from the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Symphonic Power Metal band Preludio Ancestral has been making a name for themselves since their inception with a steady flow of high-quality releases, starting with the EP Silencio and the full-length album Hacia lo Inmortal, both in 2012, followed by the 2013 EP Putrefaction, the 2015 album Kybalion, and the 2016 album El Misterio de la Pasión Divina, gaining strong recognition not only in their native country, where they even opened for acts like Rhapsody of Fire and Stratovarius, but also everywhere where the epicness and electricity of Power Metal are admired.

Now in 2018 the band comprised of the aforementioned Leo Gatti on the guitars and keyboards, Ari Katajamäki on bass and Diego Camaño on drums are set to release a brand new album titled Oblivion, a magnificent opus of epic-painted Power Metal with symphonic arrangements and an awesome guitar work, where various guest musicians hailing from different parts of Argentina and Europe give form to an album that will be a delight for any lover of the genre. As a matter of fact, due to the fact that almost every song of the album has a different lead singer, Oblivion feels like three or four album in one, with the music always remaining fresh and captivating throughout its 10 distinct songs (or 12 if you purchase the special Japanese edition of the album).

Presagio is a cinematic intro that takes you to the world of Preludio Ancestral, where the flammable sound of the guitar by Leo and the unstoppable beats by Diego are joined by Alessio Perardi on vocals in King of Silence, a classic Melodic Power Metal tune the likes of Dragonforce and Stratovarius; followed by Storm, a Power Metal extravaganza led by the intricate drums by Diego with Enzo Donnarumma taking the vocal duties, while Leo and Ari bring tons of melody and feeling to the musicality. And Alessio is back on vocals for a fast and harmonious exhibit of modern-day Melodic Metal named Fear of Falling, showcasing all elements we love in this type of music. Furthermore, Ari is simply fantastic with his bass, smashing his strings mercilessly while guest keyboardist Gabliel Crisafulli embellishes the overall sound with his kick-ass solo.

With Fran Vázquez on vocals, Preludio Ancestral offer a mid-tempo, melodic tune titled Ready to Rock, leaning towards the darker and deeper metal crafted by icons such as Dio and Saxon. Moreover, can you feel those beats pounding inside your mind? Moving on with the album, the title-track Oblivion, featuring Juan Pablo Kilberg on vocals, could be part of a concept album due to its initial narration and pace, morphing into straightforward Power Metal the likes of Helloween and the early days of Sonata Arctica, with Juan Pablo also delivering a crisp guitar solo to make things even more epic. Then it’s time to slow things down a bit with a power ballad titled Universal Love, presenting more of the voice of Alessio Perardi, passionate solos by Leo and a dense background, but unfortunately with the overall result falling flat after a while.

In Reflection in the Wind they get back to a faster and more slashing musicality, presenting a solid instrumental base by Leo, Ari and Diego that sets the perfect stage for Kimmo Perämäki to thrive on vocals. This is one of those songs to sing along with the band wherever you are, not to mention another spectacular keyboard solo by Gabliel Crisafulli. In Dust World, a classic mid-tempo tune led by the powerful riffs by Leo, Alessio Perardi returns for one last breath of his potent vocals, while Ari and Diego keep the atmosphere as thunderous as it can be, before the closing act in Oblivion, titled Metal Walls, brings Daniel García on vocals in what can be considered the most modernized of all tracks, displaying elements from distinguished styles such as Alternative, Industrial, Dark Metal and Hard Rock, and let me tall you that the final result is above all expectations, in special due to the amazing job done by Leo on keyboards.

In summary, Oblivion (available for a full listen on Spotify) will not only cement the name of Preludio Ancestral as one of the best and most professional bands from this new wave of Symphonic and Power Metal in their homeland, but it will also help the band spread their wings and reach higher grounds in the world of heavy music. And if you wan to show your honest support to such up-and-coming act, simply go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for news and other shenanigans, and purchase Oblivion through the band’s own BandCamp page, through the Xtreem Music webstore, through the Spiritual Beast webstore, or on Amazon. May the power of Heavy Metal be with Preludio Ancestral anywhere they go, and may other bands from Argentina and South America follow their steps and deliver more metal music to fans tired of having bad and fake music shoveled down their throats by their local TV shows, radio stations, and websites.

Best moments of the album: King of Silence, Fear of Falling and Reflection in the Wind.

Worst moments of the album: Universal Love.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records/Spiritual Beast

Track listing
1. Presagio 1:04
2. King of Silence 3:49
3. Storm 4:02
4. Fear of Falling 4:30
5. Ready to Rock 3:45
6. Oblivion 5:07
7. Universal Love 4:24
8. Reflection in the Wind 3:31
9. Dust World 4:49
10. Metal Walls 5:35 

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Like A Star (New Version) 3:31
12. No Man’s Land 3:27

Band members
Leonardo Gatti – guitars, keyboards
Ari Katajamäki – bass
Diego Camaño – drums

Guest musicians
Alessio Perardi – vocals on “King of Silence”, “Dust World”, “Fear of Falling” and “Universal Love”
Fran Vázquez – vocals on “Ready to Rock”
Daniel García – vocals on “Metal Walls”
Juan Pablo Kilberg – vocals on “Oblivion”
Raffaele Raffo Albanese – vocals on “No Man’s Land”
Kimmo Perämäki – vocals on “Reflection in the Wind”
Enzo Donnarumma – vocals on “Storm”
Gabliel Crisafulli – keyboards solos on “Oblivion”, “Reflection in the Wind” and “Fear of Falling”
Juan Pablo Kilberg – guitar solos on “Oblivion”
José Paz – keyboards on “Presagio”

Album Review – Terror Universal / Make Them Bleed (2018)

Behold the rise of the masked fearsome foursome of modern American metal and their bloodthirsty, action-packed debut album.

Comprised of current and former members of rock and metal renowned acts such as Machine Head, Ill Niño, Soulfly and Upon A Burning Body, here comes American Horror Metal masked supergroup Terror Universal, who have been unstoppable since the band’s inception back in 2014, having released their debut EP Reign of Terror in 2015 and shared the stage alongside heavy hitters including Korn, Asking Alexandria, Papa Roach and Fear Factory, among others. Now in 2018 those masked marauders are set to release their debut full-length album Make Them Bleed via minus HEAD Records, an album that can undoubtedly be considered the musical equivalent of a slasher film due to its aggressiveness, tension, lunacy and obviously the distinctiveness and eccentricity of each of the band’s bizarre members.

Snapping from moments of intense sonic bloodletting into menacing melodic mayhem, before creeping back into the shadows to do it all over again, the fearsome foursome Plague on vocals, Thrax on the guitar, Diabolus on bass and Massacre on drums live up to the legacy of modern-day American Alternative and Groove Metal the likes of Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Five Finger Death Punch, Deftones, Disturbed and so on. Produced by the band’s own members and mixed by Eddie Wohl (Smile Empty Soul, Fuel, Ill Niño, 36Crazyfists), Make Them Bleed will become the soundtrack to your most wicked nightmares, blasting your senses with its avalanche of heavy and metallic sounds and noises.

And the monstrous quartet kicks off their freak show of metal with a ferocious tune titled Passage of Pain, where Diabolus and Massacre make sure the ambience remains as heavy, menacing and obscure as possible with their rumbling bass and drums, respectively, while Plague screams and shouts like a true beast. Then in Welcome to Hell (which you can also watch as a guitar playthrorugh and as a bass playthrough on YouTube) Plague sounds utterly enraged, while Thrax transforms his guitar into a bloodthirsty weapon, resulting in the perfect depiction of modern extreme and alternative music made in the USA; followed by Spines, where an electronic-ish intro quickly evolves into a very dark and melodic sonority that could easily be played on any radio station, but still feeling extremely heavy. Featuring guest musician John Moyer (Disturbed) on bass, this can be called “a love song crafted by monsters”, sounding somehow romantic and violent at the same time.

Taking their animosity to a much higher level, Terror Universal bring forth the title-track Make Them Bleed, with the amazing low-tuned punches by Diabolus making the whole song more impactful. Moreover, its neck-breaking rhythm is effectively boosted by Plague’s demented growls, turning it into their personal hymn of sheer rage against everything and everyone, perfect for “spreading the violence” and “fucking the world” as Plague himself screams during the song. Then in Through the Mirrors they engage in their most Slipknot/Stone Sour-inspired mode, with the sick beats by Massacre guiding the musicality while Plague fires his crisp, acid vocals, not to mention Thrax and his cutting riffs; followed by the excellent Dig You A Hole with its gripping pace and vocal lines, enhanced by the fierce circus-like beats by Massacre and the song’s spot-on backing vocals. This is definitely one of the best new Alternative/Nu Metal songs you can find out there, making us bang our heads like maniacs without even noticing together with those four masked beasts.

Featuring the unstoppable Tony Campos (Fear Factory, Ministry, Soulfly, Static-X) on bass, who ends up giving the overall sound an Industrial Metal-like vibe with his crushing bass lines, Dead on Arrival is an excellent option for the band’s live performances to make everyone jump up and down together with them, whereas Into Darkness offers the listener another blast of their modern-day Horror Metal, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. Let’s say that it’s not a bad tune, but those freaks of nature sound way too “docile” in this case. On the other hand, their most savage and bestial mode arises in a great explosion of Groove and Thrash Metal named Your Time Has Come, with Thrax and Diabolus leading the carnage with their razor-edged strings, before Piece by Piece concludes the album like a bulldozer, with its metallic sounds penetrating deep inside our ears while Plague alternates between growling like a demon and firing his keen clean vocals.

In summary, if you enjoy modern American metal with an extra dosage of insanity and fury, all wrapped up by the grim and monstrous faces of Terror Universal, you’ll certainly have a good time listening to the music from Make Them Bleed. You can face those four creatures from hell anytime through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of the album through their BandCamp page, through their Pledge Music page, on iTunes or on Amazon. Just make sure you’re in good shape and ready to rock to the sound of Terror Universal because, you know, you won’t be dealing with regular people, but with rabid monsters of modern metal eager to taste your blood.

Best moments of the album: Welcome to Hell, Make Them Bleed and Dig You A Hole.

Worst moments of the album: Into Darkness.

Released in 2018 minus HEAD Records

Track listing    
1. Passage of Pain 3:57
2. Welcome to Hell 3:41
3. Spines (feat. John Moyer) 3:18
4. Make Them Bleed 3:32
5. Through the Mirrors 4:10
6. Dig You A Hole 4:35
7. Dead on Arrival (feat. Tony Campos) 3:34
8. Into Darkness 4:17
9. Your Time Has Come 3:21
10. Piece by Piece 3:06

Band members
Plague – vocals
Thrax – guitars
Diabolus – bass
Massacre – drums

Guest musicians
John Moyer – bass on “Spines”
Tony Campos – bass on “Dead on Arrival”

Album Review – Fear Factory / Demanufacture (1995)

A “cyber-masterpiece” by the unstoppable American Industrial Metal trailblazers.

DemanufactureIn 2010, after a 5-year hiatus and some controversial releases, Los Angeles-based Industrial Metal band Fear Factory got back with two amazing albums, Mechanize (2010) and The Industrialist (2012). However, it was in 1995 with all the energy, creativity and dynamism of their second album, Demanufacture, that the band reached the status of masters of Industrial Metal, always adding some hints of Death and Thrash Metal to their music, sometimes even being called “Cyber Metal” by their fans. Demanufacture is considered a concept album inspired by the most badass movie of all time, The Terminator, obviously focusing on the constant and horrible war between man and machine, with each song being some kind of episode of this fight, and the final result couldn’t be any better.

The music in Demanufacture sounds like if it’s coming directly from a giant industry or foundry, with all the violence of metal clanging sounds and mechanized instruments, but that doesn’t mean it sounds fake like many other metal or pop bands. It is high-quality Heavy Metal played by some incredible musicians, especially Dino Cazares with his brutal riffs and Burton C. Bell with his exceptional vocal range. In my opinion, he’s one of the only guttural singers in Heavy Metal that doesn’t sound lame when using his clean vocals. Quite the contrary, his clean voice is also fantastic and a very important part of the whole album. And although the band is officially composed by four members only, Demanufacture wouldn’t be the same without the contributions from Rhys Fulber and Reynor Diego, both responsible for the electronic tones and sounding and the robotic atmosphere with their samples, keyboards and mixes.

Fear Factory 1995The title-track, Demanufacture, is an awesome start with its great intro, heavy riffs, a strong chorus (“I’ve got no more goddamn regrets / I’ve got no more goddamn respects”) and the band’s characteristic electronic atmosphere. The song sounds clean but brutal, a great example of Industrial Metal. The second track, Self Bias Resistor, is as heavy as hell with a great job done by Raymond Herrera, while Zero Signal has excellent eerie keyboards in the beginning, turning into a damn heavy feast. Then comes the best track of the album and one of Fear Factory’s greatest hits (if not the greatest of all), Replica,  a masterpiece of Industrial Metal with its extremely austere intro, acid lyrics (“I am rape / I am hate / I am rape / I am hate”), and Burton’s voice sounding incredible at all times.

The band keeps smashing our brains with the superb New Breed, a “mechanized” song like a terminator itself, probably due to its lyrics, and an awesome choice for their live performances. The next track is Dog Day Sunrise, a cover song quite similar to the original version by British band Head of David, with an amazing touch of Heavy Metal but preserving all its elements from the 80’s. Then comes Body Hammer, which in my opinion is an outstanding musical representation of an industry’s assembly line, and Flashpoint, the perfect soundtrack for a terminator to walk in your direction ready to kill you. The last part of the album starts with another brutal song, H-K (Hunter-Killer),  with its intense drums and fast riffs; it’s a fantastic pure Industrial Metal song and one of the best of the album. Pisschrist  reminds me a lot of some Ministry classics, while A Therapy for Pain is one of those crazy long songs that became a band’s trademark in almost all albums, although I personally think this one goes on for way to long time.

Fear_Factory-Remanufacture

Remanufacture – Cloning Technology

Due to the originality and quality of Demanufacture, Fear Factory started featuring in the soundtracks of a variety of PlayStation and PC games and action movies, as well as becoming part of the lineup for some editions of the famous Ozzfest and touring with bands such as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Moreover, two years after Demanufacture, the band released a full remix album of it called Remanufacture – Cloning Technology, which despite its original idea didn’t result in something as memorable as the regular album, of course, and in 2005 a remastered edition with six fuckin’ amazing bonus tracks as bonus disc 1 (including a cover for Agnostic Front’s Your Mistake) and the whole Remanufacture album as bonus disc 2 was released to celebrate ten years of the album.

In summary, a mandatory item in the collection of any headbanger that loves heavy music with lots of creativity and power, and also an excellent choice for your workout playlist. Fear Factory showed the world how Heavy Metal and electronic music can get along really well when there’s an interesting concept and great musicians behind everything, and let’s hope they keep on kickin’ ass for many years to come with new furious albums (which based on their latest releases that’s exactly what’s been happening already). It doesn’t matter how long it takes between their albums, as the Terminator himself would say, THEY’LL BE BACK.

Best moments of the album: Demanufacture, Replica, New Breed and H-K (Hunter-Killer).

Worst moments of the album: A Therapy for Pain.

Released in 1995 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Demanufacture 4:13
2. Self Bias Resistor 5:12
3. Zero Signal 5:57
4. Replica 3:56
5. New Breed 2:49
6. Dog Day Sunrise (Head of David cover) 4:45
7. Body Hammer 5:05
8. Flashpoint 2:53
9. H-K (Hunter-Killer) 5:17
10. Pisschrist 5:25
11. A Therapy for Pain 9:43

2005 Remastered Edition bonus tracks
1. Your Mistake (Agnostic Front cover) 1:30
2. Resistancia! 2:55
3. Concreto 3:30
4. New Breed (Revolutionary Designed Mix) 2:59
5. Manic Cure 5:09
6. Flashpoint (Chosen Few Mix) 4:09

Band members
Burton C. Bell – lead vocals
Dino Cazares – guitar, backing vocals
Christian Olde Wolbers – bass
Raymond Herrera – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Reynor Diego – samples, keyboards
Rhys Fulber – samples, keyboards, programming, mixing

Album Review – Clawfinger / Use Your Brain (1995)

Use your brain and listen to the cult album by this distinct Swedish act, presenting an austere and impactful fusion of Rap and Heavy Metal.

Rating4

use-your-brainA few years before Limp Biskit, Slipknot or any other band considered part of the Nu Metal scene from the 90’s/2000’s started, there was already a Swedish band called Clawfinger playing a very original mix of Rap Metal, Hardcore, Rapcore, Funk Metal and even Industrial Metal in a very aggressive, politicized and anti-racist way. Although the band was formed back in 1989, it was just in 1993 that they launched their debut album called Deaf Dumb Blind (which included a very controversial song called “Nigger”, but again, in the most anti-racist way possible), and a couple of years later, in 1995, they launched their most interesting album in my humble opinion, titled Use Your Brain. If you hate Rap by all means and/or if you’re too narrow-minded to accept it mixed with Heavy Metal, don’t even bother listening to it. However, if you enjoy heavy music no matter what, then Use Your Brain might be an amazing addition to your day-to-day playlist.

Use Your Brain starts at a high note with my favorite song from the album, Power, which talks about exactly the opposite of most songs with the word “power” in their names: power can be really harmful to anyone who doesn’t know how to use it properly, which happens to the majority of the people that have it anyway. “Power to the one who doesn’t want it / Do you want it why do you want it”, screams lead singer Zak Tell, accompanied by some excellent heavy riffs by Erlend Ottem and Bård Torstensen and keyboards by Jocke Skog. The song is followed by Pay the Bill, which keeps the energy level up, and Pin Me Down, a more rhythmic track with strong lyrics that ended up becoming one of the band’s biggest classics.

ClawfingerThe next song is called Wipe My Ass, a good example of how the band was able to unite Rap and Metal in a very solid way. The only thing I don’t understand is why sometimes I find this song with a different name, “Waste My Time”. Well, it’s probably due to the “beautiful” expression used in the original name, but honestly, who cares about that? Anyway, the next two tracks, Die High and It, are just average songs, especially the second one which is quite bland compared to the rest of the album. Fortunately the next song, called Do What I Say, takes the album back on track with its simple but strong riffs and amazing lyrics about the emotional and sometimes physical (and endless) war between parents and their kids, acidly declaimed by Zak Tell and his hostile vocals. I normally don’t add a huge chunk of any lyrics in my reviews, but this one is so good that deserves to be appreciated almost in full. Besides, although this song might have been recorded over 20 years ago, it still sounds fresh and contemporary, just to show you how parenting will never, ever be an easy task to anyone.

“I‘ve paid to raise you good
Done everything I could so don’t you dare to say
That I ever cared about you anyway
I gave you good food to eat
I kept you on your feet
I gave you all my good advice
Not once did I hear you
thank me for all that I’ve done
You don’t know anything
About my suffering
I went through a lot of pain
Just to get you where you are today
If I ever hit you
It’s because I have to
You have done something wrong
And you deserve the punishment, you’ll have to pay”

The rest of the album doesn’t have anything too special: Undone is considerably tasteless, while What Are You Afraid Of doesn’t do any good but at the same time it doesn’t harm the album. Things get a lot better with Back to the Basics, especially the eerie sound the band created with the guitars and keyboards working together; Easy Way Out with its addictive chorus and the groovy drums by Ottar Vigerstøl; and Tomorrow, a very good Rap Metal track that powerfully ends this very original and catchy album, with highlights to the rumbling sounds generated by Ottar and bassist André Skaug. In addition, the front cover is absolutely precise in summarizing the content of the music in the album (despite being fairly simplistic), and that “less is more” type of art is most probably the reason why I love it so much.

Use Your Brain_remastered

Use Your Brain 2004 Remastered Edition

The 2004 remastered version of the album also includes 3 bonus tracks and 3 bonus videos, so if you’re interested in buying it I suggest you go after the remastered one (which by the way is a lot easier to find in any webstore). Clawfinger released a statement around August 2013 saying they split up, which was a bummer at that time based on the quality of their music, but fortunately it seems those Swedish metallers are back in action and ready to deliver us another blast of their venomous music, going against the sea of boredom that dominates the scene nowadays. Hence, Use Your Brain (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE) is far from being a true masterpiece, but it’s an extremely enjoyable album with meaningful lyrics crafted by talented musicians and, above all, an excellent option to expand your horizons in the world of heavy music and a lot better choice than most of the crap the media makes us swallow every single day. In other words, use your goddamn brain at least once and enjoy the austere music by this unique band hailing from Sweden, alright?

Best moments of the album: Power, Pin Me Down, Do What I Say and Back to the Basics.

Worst moments of the album: It and Undone.

Released in 1995 WEA/MVG (Warner Music Group)

Track listing
1. Power 3:14
2. Pay the Bill 4:20
3. Pin Me Down 4:10
4. Wipe My Ass 3:13
5. Die High 2:34
6. It 5:21
7. Do What I Say 4:25
8. Undone 4:11
9. What Are You Afraid Of 3:47
10. Back to the Basics 2:27
11. Easy Way Out 2:39
12. Tomorrow 4:09

2004 Remastered Edition bonus tracks & videos
13. Better Than This 3:36
14. Three Good Riffs 3:56
15. Armageddon Down 3:36
16. Pin Me Down (Video Clip) 4:10
17. Tomorrow (Video Clip) 4:09
18. Do What I Say (Video Clip) 4:25

Band members
Zak Tell – lead vocals
Jocke Skog – keyboards, vocals
Erlend Ottem – lead guitar
Bård Torstensen – rhythm guitar
André Skaug – bass
Ottar Vigerstøl – drums

Album Review – Graveyard Strippers / Crawling (2017)

This creepy Canadian quartet brings to you the perfect soundtrack to your next party, an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal with elements from rock, pop and electronic music.

A phoenix reborn from its ashes. That’s how Canadian Industrial Metal critters Graveyard Strippers call themselves, being born in Montreal, Quebec in 2013 with guitarist Riff (Projekt F), vocalist Holy Decay (Gotherfall, Magnum Stallion) and bassist Carl Puzzle (Sade Slavey). Since their creation, Graveyard Strippers recorded three excellent EP’s, those being Burn My Soul in 2013, Free The Monsters in 2015, which was by the way when the band recruited Dany Burton (Projekt F) as their new permanent drummer, and Burn The Monsters in 2016, culminating with the release of their first ever full-length spawn, the idiosyncratic and rousing Crawling, now in 2017.

The music by Graveyard Strippers might be considered an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal, spiced up by hints of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and even electronic and pop music. And let me tell you that those four rockers do it almost to perfection, sounding at the same time sexy and gruesome, gentle and aggressive, straightforward and progressive. You’ll notice that each one of the twelve songs featured in Crawling, which by the way portrays a fantastic artwork by renowned Canadian illustrator Felix LaFlamme, are independent from each other, presenting a unique sonority, but that they need each other for the whole album to make sense to your ears. Well, as you can see it’s not an easy task to summarize the work by Graveyard Strippers in just a few lines, and that’s why I recommend you hit play and enjoy their industrialized and sensual sounds in your own way.

The eerie and dark intro Filth invites us to the demented world ruled by Graveyard Strippers, before an industrial and metallic feast begins in full force with Broken, a song highly recommended for fans of Rammstein and Ministry where Holy Decay bursts his lungs by screaming in an insane and rabid way. After that frantic hurricane of industrialized sounds the bands offers us a more melodic tune titled Pretty, blending Gothic and Industrial Rock with elements from Neue Deutsche Härte. Moreover, Riff lives up to his monicker by delivering truly catchy riffs, while Dany keeps the song’s pace and speed at a very pleasant level with his precise beats. And then we have the title-track Crawling, which begins in a dark 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal-inspired way, gradually evolving into an imposing musicality led by the deep and lunatic vocals by Holy Decay, remaining vibrant until its climatic ending.

Featuring the seductive Natasha Nebula as guest vocalist, Freak Show sounds a lot more mechanized and sexier than its predecessors, presenting the darkest and most depraved form of Industrial Metal you can think of. In addition to that, Riff and Dany do a great job with their samples and electronic sounds, turning it into the perfect soundtrack for a real-life freak show. And if you think that after such amazing song you’ll be free from Natasha’s devilish voice, you’re absolutely wrong, as she’s back with the band in Deadsex, an ominous blast of Neue Deutsche Härte with Gothic Rock where the deranged screams by Holy Decay create a gripping paradox with the smoother but still diabolical moans by Natasha, not to mention the song’s first-class official video which perfectly epitomizes what Graveyard Strippers are all about. The “piercing assembly line from hell” titled Apocalypse Now brings forward another eccentric intro that morphs into a fantastic Industrial Metal extravaganza, showcasing rabid growls mixed with heavy-as-hell riffs and tons of wicked elements in the background in what sounds as a hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Ministry; whereas their electronic vein arises stronger than ever in Walking Dead thanks to the excellent job done by Riff and Dany once again, while Carl Puzzle adds his share of heaviness to the song with his sick bass lines, keeping the album at a high level of eccentricity.

Savior is another modern Industrial Metal composition led by the somber vocals by Holy Decay, despite not feeling as crushing and vibrant as the rest of the album, sounding a bit repetitive at times. On the other hand, Krash This Up is one of the weirdest and most fun creations by this talented quartet that should work really well if played live. Dany is simply amazing with his beats, being flawlessly accompanied by the rest of the band during the song’s two minutes of insanity. Then in King Me the band gives a lesson in how to blend Industrial Metal with Punk Rock, offering the listener a neck-breaking, electrified tune where Riff steals the show with his sensational guitar lines. Needless to say, this is another serious candidate to be part of their live performances. And lastly, madness takes control of the band in the closing tune of the album, named Serial Killer, where symphonic elements from Gothic Metal are added to create an even crazier atmosphere. Furthermore, Holy Decay sounds like a demonic entity with his Stygian gnarls, while Riff and Carl keep bringing thunder to the musicality in this top-notch ending to such electrified album.

The somber and bewitching realm of Graveyard Strippers can be further explored through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can listen to and buy Crawling on Spotify, at their own BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon or at the Onkyo Music webstore. Let’s say that, if you were desperately looking for the best and darkest soundtrack to your next Halloween, Gothic, Dark Electro or any other type of party not recommended for the ordinary person, I believe your hunt is finally over, as Graveyard Strippers are more than ready to put you and your guests into a lustful and mechanized trance with the high-end music found in Crawling.

Best moments of the album: Broken, Freak Show, Apocalypse Now and Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: Savior.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Filth 1:04
2. Broken 3:09
3. Pretty 3:40
4. Crawling 4:08
5. Freak Show (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:29
6. Deadsex (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:51
7. Apocalypse Now 4:07
8. Walking Dead 3:50
9. Savior 4:02
10. Krash This Up 2:07
11. King Me 2:46
12. Serial Killer 4:48

Band members
Holy Decay – vocals
Riff – guitars, programming, backing vocals
Carl Puzzle – bass, backing vocals
Dany Burton – drums, programming, backing vocals

Guest musician
Natasha Nebula – female vocals on “Freak Show” and “Deadsex”

Album Review – Project Renegade / Cerebra EP (2017)

Presenting a solid fusion of dark, modern and gothic elements in their compositions, this newborn Hellenic entity has all it takes to become one of the biggest exponents in European Alternative Metal.

Presenting in their music a solid and dynamic mix of Alternative, Nu, Industrial and Gothic Metal, with the addition of modern sounds, ambient, groove and electronic elements, here comes Greek Alternative Metal quartet Project Renegade, formed earlier this year in the Greek capital Athens by frontwoman Marianna and drummer Ody, who were later joined by Tasos on guitar and Makis on bass to complete the band’s lineup. After the band’s inception, those talented Greek metallers quickly put together an EP titled Cerebra, comprised of three original compositions that not only represent the essence of their music, but that are also a very good indication of what to expect from them in their soon-to-be-released debut full-length album.

Engineered, recorded and mixed at Matrix Recording Studio Athens by Dimitris Misirlis, known for his collaborations with bands like Nightstalker, Agatus and Rosewood Brothers, and mastered at Grindhouse Studios Athens by George Bokos (Stone Cold Dead, Rotting Christ, Nightfall), who has worked with names such as George Kollias, Contrarian and Unearthly, Cerebra is a very promising start to this up-and-coming four-piece act from Greece, a land that has always provided amazing bands to the world of heavy music, and after listening to its three complex and catchy tracks you’ll be more than eager to see what the band has to offer in the future and, if you’re lucky, to check them out kicking ass live.

Futuristic notes kick off the first track of the EP, entitled Pressure, a modern and symphonic blend of Alternative and Gothic Metal led by the heavy, headbanging riffs by Tasos and the smooth but piercing vocals by Marianna, while Makis and Ody make sure the atmosphere remains dense and dark with their respective bass punches and potent beats. In other words, this is an excellent sample of the fire power by Project Renegade. Following a similar metallic and modernized pattern, Project Renegade enhance their aggressiveness and obscurity in the excellent tune Natural Born Killer, where Tasos once again does an amazing job with his riffs, as well as Makis with his thunderous bass. In addition to that, Marianna makes sure her vocals transpire passion and energy, in order to properly tell the desired story through the song’s lyrics. And lastly, a wicked narration ignites another impactful and upbeat Alternative Metal feast by this Greek quartet, named One of the Crowd, where Marianna turns up the heat with her high-pitched, rebel vocal lines while Ody smashes his drums mercilessly, with all madness and wild reverberation crafted by the band smoothly flowing into a whimsical and groovy ending.

In a nutshell, Project Renegade is such a promising band that they’re capable of composing 6-minute songs (which would be considered an “atrocity” for radio exposure in modern days) that sound as if they have only three minutes or even less in duration so cohesive they are, showing how melodic and captivating their music is. If you want to know more about the band and stay tuned for their upcoming full-length album, simply visit their Facebook page and keep an eye on their YouTube channel, ReverbNation and SoundCloud for new songs to come. And if you want to show your support to Alternative Metal made in Greece, purchase Cerebra (which is available for a full listen on Spotify) through the band’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. This newborn Hellenic entity has all it takes to become one of the biggest exponents in Alternative Metal in Europe based on what they have to offer in Cerebra, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in their career when their debut full-length album is finally released.

Best moments of the album: Natural Born Killer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Pressure 6:02
2. Natural Born Killer 6:11
3. One of the Crowd 6:27

Band members
Marianna – vocals
Tasos – guitar
Makis – bass
Ody – drums

Album Review – Eli van Pike / Welcome to My Dark Side (2017)

Welcome to the dark and melodic world of Gothic Metal, Neue Deutsche Härte and Industrial Metal ruled by three outstanding musicians who will certainly fuel your inner passion for industrialized sounds.

Combining the best elements of Gothic Metal, Neue Deutsche Härte and Industrial Metal, creating their own identity and remaining true to a tougher musical line, German-American Industrial Metal entity Eli van Pike is releasing its debut album Welcome to My Dark Side, comprised of ten unique compositions with its lyrics being in both German and English, often representing a mirror of the abysses of the human psyche. Not only is this new project highly recommended for admirers of the music played by renowned acts such as Rammstein, Eisbrecher, Oomph! and Lindemann, but it’s also a very interesting option for newcomers who are always seeking for darker sounds with a strong melodic vein.

Formed in 2016 by German musician Thorsten Eligehausen (Schandpfahl, Cradle Of Haze) together with German multi-instrumentalist Marc Vanderberg (Devil May Care) and American singer Ken Pike (Firesphere), therefore the name Eli van Pike, composed of parts of the names of the band members, the project debuted in 2016 with the singles Even Heros Fall and Tears of War, getting in the focus of the Gothic and Industrial Metal scene. In 2017, after releasing an EP titled Herzschlag, it’s time for Thorsten and his crew to reach new heights with their debut full-length album, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself singing, dancing or simply banging your head to most of the songs of the album due to its high level of electricity and feeling.

And the eccentric Eli van Pike begin their industrialized attack on a high note with the Teutonic hymn Made in Germany, with the keys by Thorsten together with the brutal riffs by Marc forging a fierce and pleasant Industrial Metal sounding, also presenting a great balance between the clean vocals by Ken and the deeper growls by Thorsten. Herzschlag, or “heartbeat” in German, a powerful Neue Deutsche Härte hymn with the heaviness from guitars and drums being boosted by the song’s old school keyboards, transpires a Rammstein-inspired vibe, in special through the obscure vocals by Thorsten, but it’s in the next song that their metallic vein gets to a whole new level of insanity. Faster and crazier (but still very melodic), the thrilling 1-2-frei is pure Neue Deutsche Härte, with the addictive guitar lines by Marc being the icing on the cake of such industrialized hymn.

Although it’s hard to “accept” a ballad in an Industrial Metal album, World on Fire kind of works well: it might not the best ballad in the world, but its solid instrumental and decent lyrics make it a lot more enjoyable. Back to a much harder and more obscure sonority, Tears of War is exciting from start to finish, with the German words vocalized by Thorsten darkening the music even more while Marc keeps kicking ass with his riffs and Ken once again brings epicness to the overall result with his passionate vocals. Slowing down a bit, the band offers us One Last Rose, a fusion of Industrial Metal with 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal, hence presenting all the elements of a dark hit, with highlights to the song’s melodic vocals in sync with its piercing synths, followed by Peter, 41,  another industrialized composition that will rock the hell out of you. Moreover, Thorsten sounds simply amazing with his cryptic, deep voice, while Marc continues to add electricity and groove to the music with his strings.

The title-track Welcome to My Dark Side is a fantastic display of modern and fresh Neue Deutsche Härte, offering the listener heavy sounds mixed with gentle vocals and sharp keyboards, also showcasing a Dark Metal aura in the background the likes of Moonspell. After such amazing display of dark music, Eli van Pike’s blackened, mechanized attack goes on with a frantic creation entitled Amen, bringing forward three minutes of Stygian vocals by Thorsten supported by the slashing riffs by Marc. In other words, this is another one of their songs that will certainly put people to dance at an underground metal party. However, instead of closing the album with such magnificent tune, the trio ventures through the realms of acoustic ballads in Valentine’s Day, and let me be honest with you, in my humble opinion acoustic guitars should never be used in any Industrial Metal album under any circumstances. It’s not that the song is bad, but it’s completely disconnected from the rest of the album, sounding like filler in the end. Maybe with some electronic elements in the background this western-ish ballad could have been more enjoyable, or at least more in line with the concept behind Eli van Pike.

Anyway, despite this slight lapse of electricity, overall Welcome to My Dark Side is a damn good album taking into account the fact that the band has been together for just a short period of time. In case you want to know more about the project, go check their Facebook page and listen to their music on YouTube or Spotify, and buy Welcome to My Dark Side on BandCamp, at the darkSIGN-Records’ webstore, on iTunes, on Amazon or on Qobuz. And always remember, you’re welcome to join the dark side of Industrial Metal created by Eli van Pike any time, a project so compelling it will definitely fuel your inner passion for industrialized sounds.

Best moments of the album: 1-2-frei, Tears of War, Welcome to my Dark Side and Amen.

Worst moments of the album: World on Fire and Valentine’s Day.

Released in 2017 darkSIGN-Records

Track listing 
1. Made in Germany 4:10
2. Herzschlag 3:45
3. 1-2-frei 2:54
4. World on Fire 4:02
5. Tears of War 4:57
6. One Last Rose 3:40
7. Peter, 41 3:34
8. Welcome to My Dark Side 3:17
9. Amen 2:59
10. Valentine’s Day 2:28

Band members
Thorsten Eligehausen – vocals, keyboards
Marc Vanderberg – guitars, drum & bass programming
Ken Pike – vocals

Album Review – OHHMS / The Fool (2017)

Spanning the course of 60 minutes and focusing on corporate and personal politics, the first full-length album by this British quintet is not only a huge step forward in their career, but also a lesson in Sludge and Progressive Metal.

Armed with the thickest riffs and fieriest will, Sludge/Progressive Metal act OHHMS was formed in 2014 in Kent, a county in South East England, aiming at blowing our minds with their monolithic, doomed music. After the release of their debut EP Bloom in 2014, followed by another EP title Cold in 2015, OHHMS started to build a strong reputation in their homeland’s underground scene, playing big festivals such as Desertfest and Temples, and also sharing the stage with acts like The Skull, Conan and Rolo Tomassi. Now, three years after their thunderous beginnings, the band is back with their debut full-length album, the heavy and sludgy The Fool, another step forward in their short but solid career.

Spanning the course of 60 minutes of hard-hitting, progressive music, The Fool delivers five thunderous songs that focus on corporate and personal politics, all wrapped up in an elegant tarot-inspired packaging designed by Black Sails Design. With two of its songs going over the barrier of 10 minutes (one of them having over 20 minutes in duration, by the way), something inconceivable for any regular radio station or TV show, The Fool won’t provide any sort of “music for the masses” to you, but an introspective and very peculiar journey through the minds of the five talented musicians behind OHHMS, and that’s in my opinion what makes this album so distinct and impactful.

The acoustic intro Shuffle, Cut and Reveal slowly introduces us to the sluggish and heavy The Magician,  which after a fast-paced beginning smoothly flows into traditional Stoner Metal, with Max Newton smashing his drum set while lead singer Paul Waller blasts sheer anguish through his vocals. The Hanged Man is a top-notch musical voyage, flowing from an ominous intro into 13 minutes of progressiveness, slow-paced passages and a somber ambience. Max adds endless intricacy to the music with his beats, while guitarists Daniel Sargent and Marc George alternate between heavier riffs and gentle lines, with the overall result being so compelling you won’t notice the length of the song at all. Even more progressive than its predecessor, The World is a song that combines in a potent way the heaviness of Stoner Metal with the experimentations of Progressive Metal, not to mention its hints of several other styles such as Industrial and Doom Metal, with Max and bassist Chainy Chainy building a more-than-thunderous atmosphere with their respective instruments.

The superb The Lovers is beautiful and thrilling from start to finish, with all instruments creating the perfect ambience for Paul and a mysterious (and wonderful) female voice to complement each other’s lines flawlessly. It’s a slow and serene ballad recommended for true lovers, or in other words, simply close your eyes and feel your significant other’s embrace while listening to this awesome composition. And as the icing on the cake OHHMS present to us The Hierophant, a bold, complex and mind-blowing 21-minute extravaganza, where the whole band is able to display all their skills as great musicians they are. After over two minutes of initial dissonant noises, Paul arrives with his somber vocals, and this eccentric atmosphere goes on until at around six minutes the rest of the band joins him, becoming a sonic experimentation through the realms of Sludge and Stoner Metal, with highlights to the bestial, crushing riffs by both Daniel and Marc (in special during the song’s final part).

One might say The Fool is not an album for the average listener, but in my humble opinion I think this album is a great opportunity for newcomers to the world of the lengthy and sluggish sounds of Stoner and Doom Metal to explore the uniqueness of this subgenre of heavy music. Well, newcomer or not, you should definitely go check what OHHMS are up to at their Facebook page and, if you’re already hooked on their music, purchase The Fool through their BandCamp page, at the Holy Roar Records’ webshop, on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs.

Best moments of the album: The World and The Lovers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Holy Roar Records

Track listing
1. Shuffle, Cut and Reveal 1:15
2. The Magician 8:10
3. The Hanged Man 13:24
4. The World 6:42
5. The Lovers 8:03
6. The Hierophant 21:49

Band members
Paul Waller – vocals
Daniel Sargent – guitars
Marc George – guitars
Chainy Chainy – bass
Max Newton – drums

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

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