Album Review – Butcher Babies / Lilith (2017)

The most dangerous and relentless demons of heavy music return with another crisp, visceral and fun album of present-day Metalcore.

As I said in our Metal Chick of the Month dedicated to the Butcher Babies in October 2016 celebrating three years of The Headbanging Moose, frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey definitely know how to properly rumble, and now with the release of Lilith, their third full-length album, this Los Angeles-based Metalcore act spearheaded by those two gorgeous growlers more than cements their name in modern metal music. And don’t get fooled by their stunning looks, as Heidi and Carla can rip your heart out in the blink of an eye, just to show you how visceral and vibrant their music is.

After the release of the excellent Take It Like A Man, in 2015, an album that’s utterly entertaining from start to finish, fans of the Butcher Babies kept wondering if Heidi and Carla, together with Jason Klein on bass, Henry Flury on guitars and newcomer Chase Brickenden on drums would be able to deliver the same amount of aggressiveness and electricity that led them to play alongside giants like Marilyn Manson, Danzig, Rob Zombie and Cradle of Filth since the band’s inception, and for our total delight Lilith not only kicks some serious ass, but it also brings a more melodic side of the Butcher Babies that add an extra layer of intricacy and quality to their always fun compositions.

Now simply hit play and feel the metallic riffs by Henry crushing your skull before the dynamic duo Heidei and Carla begin their growling feast in Burn the Straw Man, not only a circle pit-generator with a catchy chorus and pure rage flowing from all instruments, but also a fantastic choice for opening their live concerts in full force. Following that flawless start we have the title-track Lilith, bringing their trademark ferocity infused with more melodic lines (mainly found in their cleaner vocals), with Chase proving why he was chosen to be the band’s new drummer; and Headspin, an almost-radio-friendly tune presenting a heavy but extremely sexy rhythm that will put you to dance and sing along with the band. Moreover, as a “bonus” the song got a lustful official video that deals with virtual reality (aka virtual sex) that’s definitely worth a watch. And in Korova the band gets back to a more underground Metalcore sonority, with Henry, Jason and Chase doing a solid job by supporting the screams by Carla and Heidi, all boosted by the song’s absolutely addictive chorus.

The beyond electrified #Iwokeuplikethis offers pure madness blasted by the entire band, with Chase sounding beastly on drums while our charming screamers fire some demented gnarls and deep growls nonstop. Things slow down a bit in The Huntsman, a dark Metalcore semi-ballad with hints of Alternative and Groove Metal which never really takes off despite the awesome rumbling bass lines by Jason, but everything returns to normal (if the Butcher Babies can be called “normal”) in Controller, a song that can be considered “old school Butcher Babies” by presenting all elements that made them famous in heavy music. Furthermore, its groovy and metallic tones are tailored for jumping up and down and breaking our necks headbanging with the band. And Oceana is another shot of insanity by Heidi and Carla, with the first firing her more strident screeches while the latter keeps growling deeper and deeper. In addition, Henry nails it with his crisp riffs, increasing the impact of the song to our ears.

In Look What We’ve Done we have more of their more melodic and commercial version (which means it should receive some decent air play in several radio stations), with both girls kicking ass with their potent clean vocals. And although they’re also great when singing smoother songs, I personally prefer their more enraged mode like what happens in POMONA (Shit Happens), a song that will cause some serious bruises inside the circle pit. Both girls sound demented throughout the entire song led by the frantic riffs and beats by Henry and Chase, respectively, turning it into one of the best songs of the whole album. And Underground and Overrated, the closing tune in Lilith, will pierce your ears with Henry’s cutting guitar riffs and solos and Heidi and Carla’s hellish screams. This is what I would call a “festival song”, being more than perfect for those open air festivals that happen all over Europe and North America during the summer.

Lilith might be known as a dangerous demon of the night who is sexually wanton (and who steals babies in the darkness), but from now on she will also be known as the Butcher Babies’ bitch, because no woman in metal can top Heidi and Carla in terms of stamina, fury and passion for the more alternative side of Heavy Metal. If I were you, I would certainly keep an eye on their Facebook page for their tour dates to promote Lilith (which by the way can be purchased through several different platforms, and if you’re lucky enough you might be able to find the Japanese edition with five sick bonus tracks), because as a guy that has already seen Heidi, Carla & Co. live I can assure you their concerts are insanely enjoyable. And needless to say, the Butcher Babies will keep on rocking and showing their love for heavy music until the end as true metalheads that they are.

Best moments of the album: Burn the Straw Man, Headspin, #Iwokeuplikethis and POMONA (Shit Happens).

Worst moments of the album: The Huntsman.

Released in 2017 Century Media

Track listing
1. Burn the Straw Man 4:05
2. Lilith 3:27
3. Headspin 3:32
4. Korova 4:05
5. #Iwokeuplikethis 3:01
6. The Huntsman 3:06
7. Controller 3:04
8. Oceana 3:32
9. Look What We’ve Done 3:35
10. POMONA (Shit Happens) 3:13
11. Underground and Overrated 3:59

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
12. Beer Drinker & Hell Raisers 2:54
13. They’re Coming To Take Me Away 3:16
14. Don’t Give A Fuck 2:22
15. Crazy Horses 2:55
16. Pussy Whipped 2:32

Band members
Heidi Shepherd – vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Henry Flury – guitar
Jason Klein – bass
Chase Brickenden – drums

Album Review – Angelwings / The Edge Of Innocence (2017)

Let the Gibraltarian angels of Symphonic Metal spread their wings and fly as high as the sun to the sound of their dense, melodic and absolutely amazing debut album.

Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, might be home to only around 35,000 people, but it surely has its importance in the world of heavy music since 2013 when the excellent female-fronted Symphonic Metal act Angelwings was born. Originally conceived as a cover band for Finnish Symphonic Metal icons Nightwish by a group of experienced musicians that had been in the Gibraltar local music scene for some time, and who had played in different bands a wide variety of musical genres, Angelwings soon evolved to a much bolder and interesting project, becoming then the first ever Symphonic Metal band hailing from the small but stunning Gibraltar (you can even get some nice-to-know details about the band and each one of its members on this special article from The Gibraltar Magazine).

It didn’t take long for Angelwings to start working on their own original material, with their first demo track titled “Wonderland” being posted on YouTube in January 2015, consequently attracting attention from local and international media. Two more demos have followed since, “Memories” and “Forbidden Love”, increasing the band’s exposure in places like Argentina, Spain and the UK, which led the band to support Heavy Metal legends Saxon at the Hard N’ Heavy festival in Gibraltar in June 2015 and to perform at the Gibraltar Music Festival in September 2015. Now in 2017 the world has just witnessed the birth of Angelwings’ debut full-length opus, titled The Edge Of Innocence, an album that beautifully represents their deep passion for symphonic music, their undeniable capacity of creating captivating songs, and their extreme dedication to the band as a whole, paying a very detailed attention to everything that surrounds them, from the intricate songwriting to the band’s logo, the album’s cover art and design, their outfits and their live performances. In other words, Angelwings can be considered a role model to underground metal bands, and after listening to The Edge Of Innocence you’ll see why the sky is the limit for the band’s aspiring wings.

The band’s skillful keyboardist Glenn Cano ignites the symphonic journey titled Wonderland with his melodic keys, being joined by the rest of the band until the smooth vocals by lead singer Divi Cano bring sheer joy to our hearts. Furthermore, this amazing born-to-be-a-hit composition will please all fans of Symphonic Metal the likes of Nightwish and After Forever, as well as fans of the more alternative sounds by Evanescence, with its singalong chorus sticking deep into your mind so catchy it is (“Empty castles / In a foreign land out / In the darkness / My dark bliss / Empty castles / A never ending thrill / In the darkness / My dark bliss”). As symphonic and epic as the opening track, but showcasing heavier riffs by guitarist Paul P. Cano and stronger beats by drummer Mark Brooks, Game of Life has a somewhat Pop Rock vibe without losing its metallic essence, making it perfect for some good radio exposure; while Forbidden Love is a gripping power ballad where Divi steals the spotlight with her delicate but potent vocals, always supported by the solid instrumental crafted by the rest of the band (in special by Glenn and his spot-on keys), not to mention Paul’s soulful guitar solo.

Then a melancholic, serene intro led by the smooth piano notes by Glenn evolves into an enfolding ballad named Memories, which will undoubtedly touch your heart, with Divi once again showcasing all the beauty in her vocals while the atmosphere remains dense and captivating from start to finish. Following that comforting moment we have Lilith, bringing forward traditional Symphonic Metal with a passionate performance by Divi, intensified by the excellent job done by Paul on the guitar and the song’s epic vibe, and The Fallen, where the band enhances the progressiveness of their already well-engendered Melodic Metal, also bringing hints of modern Hard Rock added to their pleasant musicality and with bassist Darren Fa together with Mark and Glenn generating a dark and dense ambience with their respective instruments. And epicness and melancholic walk hand in hand in the full-bodied creation entitled Nile Goddess, where Glenn is once again the one responsible for the music’s initial shape. Moreover, the duo Divi on vocals and Darren on bass creates an interesting paradox of sounds, both being effectively supported by the song’s thrilling guitar lines and intricate beats.

Eerie sounds kick off the longest of all songs, the title-track The Edge of Innocence, a symphonic journey through the realms of fantasy and madness where the whole band is in absolute sync, providing Divi all she needs to shine with her emotional vocals. Simply enjoy the song’s majestic aura led by the charming Divi and the beyond talented Glenn, before being stunned by another kick-ass traditional Symphonic Metal aria titled Embracing Fantasy, which offers the listener an outstanding marriage of guitars, bass and keyboards, while Mark keeps the song’s pace as epic and emotive as possible, culminating in a atmospheric ending. And closing this exquisite and enthralling album the band brings forth more of their characteristic melody and feeling in The Legend & the Myth, a “half ballad-half waltz” creation presenting once again a mesmerizing performance by Divi, leaving the doors open for another round of high-end Symphonic Metal by Angelwings in the near future.

If you want to know more about this promising quintet from Gibraltar, go check what the band is up to on their Facebook page, listen to their music on YouTube, SoundCloud and Spotify, and grab your copy of The Edge Of Innocence at the Pride & Joy Music webstore at the MBM webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. I’m sure that, after The Edge Of Innocence, the Gibraltarian angels of Symphonic Metal will spread their metallic wings and fly higher and higher in their career, becoming one of the most important and inspiring names in modern symphonic music.

Best moments of the album: Wonderland, Memories, Lilith and Nile Goddess.

Worst moments of the album: The Fallen.

Released in 2017 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Wonderland 4:35
2. Game of Life 3:57
3. Forbidden Love 4:09
4. Memories 4:44
5. Lilith 4:19
6. The Fallen 5:15
7. Nile Goddess 6:34
8. The Edge of Innocence 8:29
9. Embracing Fantasy 6:02
10. The Legend & the Myth 5:46

Band members
Divi Cano – vocals
Paul P. Cano – guitar
Darren Fa – bass
Glenn Cano – keyboards, orchestrations
Mark Brooks – drums