Album Review – Dommin / Beautiful Crutch (2016)

Not only another step forward in the musical growth of this passionate Alternative Rock band from the United States, but also a highly recommended album for admirers of dark, lovesick music.

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dommin-beautiful-crutch-artworkTouching hearts and minds by making music that matters since their inception in Los Angeles, California in 1999, American Alternative/Gothic Rock quartet Dommin are releasing today their brand new full-length album Beautiful Crutch, following the great success achieved with their previous releases, the pain-ridden Love Is Gone (2010) and especially the darker Rise (2015). Overflowing romance, lust and hope, Beautiful Crutch is highly recommended for fans of the dark, lovesick music by renowned acts such as Type O Negative, Depeche Mode, Danzig, The Cure and HIM, among others, as well as the heavier Rock N’ Roll played by Volbeat and Bullet For My Valentine.

“Beautiful Crutch is another step forward in the band’s musical growth. While this is an expansion of the band’s soundscape, some of the moods will be familiar to those that fell in love with our first album”, stated the band’s enigmatic frontman and guitarist Kristofer Dommin. In Beautiful Crutch, Kristofer and his bandmates Billy James on bass, Konstantine on keyboards and Cameron Morris on drums deliver 11 beautiful, classy compositions blending elements from all the aforementioned bands with their own twist and personal experiences, making this a very personal and special album for them, and consequently a great addition to the collection of lovers of heartwarming rock music.

Dommin are ready to melt the hearts of the ladies with their Blues-ish Alternative Rock in Desire, a fiery declaration of love from Kristofer to a very special woman in his life (“I hunger and thirst / Naturally cursed / Never satisfied / Until the day I die / It’s you I desire / Whether it’s lose or win / It’s you I desire / And I can’t help but give in / It’s you I desire”), with drummer Cameron Morris keeping the passion flowing in the music through his slow and steady Goth beats. Show Me is an upbeat Rock N’ Roll tune with hints of Rockabilly, reminding me of some songs by Volbeat, where Kristofer and Billy do a great job with their respective guitar and bass, in special during the song’s kick-ass guitar solo; whereas The Scene is a radio-friendly rock song with the keyboards by Konstantine adding melancholy to the sonority. Furthermore, Kristofer might have a soft voice compared to almost all singers reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose, but he truly knows how to exhale strong emotions with his passionate performance.

Highly inspired by the pleasant sounding crafted by The Smiths, the soft rock chant This World blends an 80’s atmosphere with modern rock elements, showcasing a precise connection between the heavy bass sounds by Billy and the rhythmic drumming by Cameron. The next song, the title-track Beautiful Crutch, is a feast of opposite emotions, alternating between calm and introspective passages and electrified peaks, with the guitar lines by Kristofer leading all those beautiful changes; followed by I Die, where smooth piano notes and the mellow voice by Kristofer make this serene and pensive ballad an amazing listen to anyone. In addition , elements from Gothic Rock from the 80’s and its dark ambience set the perfect stage for another soulful guitar solo by Mr. Dommin. And in Vulnerable, another ballad offered by the  quartet to the Rock N’ Roll ladies all over the world, albeit there’s a strong focus on vocals and lyrics, all instruments end up bringing their share of passion to the overall result.

domminThen Dommin deliver what can be called alternative rockin’ Waltz in the excellent The Flame, with the Volbeat-like vocals by Kristofer and the enchanting keyboards by Konstantine being the song’s main ingredients. In my humble opinion, this is by far the song with the highest amount of creativity in the album, with its rhythm getting more and more addictive the more you listen to it. Madly sounds like a fusion of Smiths, Danzig and Depeche Mode (which could only result in music excellence), with its guitar solos being exactly what the song needed to be even more gripping. To be fair, why songs like this one are not getting played nonstop at rock stations everywhere is beyond my knowledge. Anyway, The Saddest Dream is a somber and modern creation by Kristofer and his crew where Billy and Konstantine generate a fantastic ambience with their instruments, flowing to a very alternative and peculiar form in the end. And lastly, the band offers us Van Halen-like keyboards and a strong feeling of hope in Outer Space, where Alternative Rock and Blues are nicely combined by all instruments. Cameron and Billy once again provide Kristofer all the support he needs for another emotional vocal performance, a constant throughout the entire album.

You can get a sneak peek of each song in Beautiful Crutch by clicking HERE, but of course I suggest you go grab your copy of the album at different online stores such as iTunes and Amazon. I’m sure that, after Beautiful Crutch, the realm of meaningful and passionate music created by Dommin will only get stronger, giving even more stamina and inspiration for the band to keep writing all those love rockin’ songs, keeping the hearts of their fans warm even during the coldest nights of winter.

Best moments of the album: Desire, This World, The Flame and Madly.

Worst moments of the album: Vulnerable.

Released in 2016 DNRecords

Track listing
1. Desire 3:32
2. Show Me 3:31
3. The Scene 4:14
4. This World 3:47
5. Beautiful Crutch 4:07
6. I Die 5:25
7. Vulnerable 3:36
8. The Flame 3:55
9. Madly 3:25
10. The Saddest Dream 6:36
11. Outer Space 5:23

Band members
Kristofer Dommin – vocals, guitars
Billy James – bass
Konstantine – keyboards
Cameron Morris – drums

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Metal Chick of the Month – Heidi Shepherd & Carla Harvey

heidi_carla

Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages… Step right up and get your tickets to the greatest show on earth!

Love them or hate them, we all must admit that the two female metallers chosen to celebrate the third anniversary of The Headbanging Moose have a strong influence on contemporary Heavy Metal due to their unique (and aggressive) attitude, which obviously includes their sexy looks and fiery and chaotic music. They deal with their sexuality more naturally than we prepare a simple orange juice, and although some people might consider their work futile or even too obscene, let’s not forget that heavy music is above all things a form of art where artists can freely express their thoughts, ideals and beliefs through their compositions and, in many cases like for example in Black Metal, through their image. Besides, their music is a billion times better than anything Lady Gaga does, a woman who calls herself a true metal fan but in reality keeps playing second-class meaningless pop stuff. With that said, let’s raise our horns to frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, the dynamic duo responsible for the amusing blend of violence and rebelliousness bred by American Metalcore/Groove Metal band Butcher Babies.

Before we talk about each “butcher baby” in more details, let me provide you a short and sweet overview of this Alternative Metal band from Los Angeles, California in case you have never heard of them in your life. Formed in 2010, Butcher Babies probably have one of the most solid lineups in the history of heavy music despite being just a few years old. Apart from Heidi and Carla, the band is also made up by guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner, all still playing together since the band’s inception and, based on how healthy their relationship is, that’s the way things are going to be for many years to come. The name of the band came from the song Butcher Baby by American Punk Rock band Plasmatics, spearheaded by the iconic singer, songwriter and actress Wendy O. Williams. Both Heidi and Carla acknowledge how important Wendy O. Williams was (and still is) for the increasing acceptance of women in heavy music, which is one of the reasons why they wear such eccentric attire during their live performances including wearing nothing but black tape over their nipples (albeit they’ve ditched it in recent years).

Despite their short period of existence so far, the band has already released the single Blonde Girls All Look The Same in 2011, the EP Butcher Babies in 2012, their first full-length album Goliath in 2013, another EP entitled Uncovered in 2014 and finally their most recent full-length album, Take It Like a Man, in 2015. You can have lots of fun with their music and sexiness in songs such as They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!, Igniter, Magnolia Blvd, Mr. Slowdeath, Dead Man Walking, I Smell a Massacre, Gravemaker and The Butcher, or you can simply enjoy their entire 40-minute performance at the always superb Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belguim in 2015. There are also tons of cool interviews with Heidi and Carla on YouTube, such as backstage interviews at Knotfest in 2014 and at Rockstar Mayhem Tour in 2013; their explanation for abandoning the nipple tape and covering up; a nice interview for Metal Hammer at Soundwave 2015 where they talk about hugging koala bears, fighting kangaroos and their adventures in Australia; an interview to German channel BunchTV in 2011 still with the nipple tapes; and a very relaxed interview to FeMetalTV in 2015.

HEIDI SHEPHERD

heidi01

Enough said already, now it’s all about the girls. Let’s begin with the sometimes blonde, sometimes red-headed hurricane Heidi Shepherd, the woman accountable for the high-pitched screams and growls for Butcher Babies. Born on April 17, 1985 in Utah, United States, Heidi is more than “just” a metal singer, being also a radio DJ, actress and casting director best known for the 2008 thriller Animals and the TV series MANswers, as well as minor parts and uncredited appearances in different shows such as My Name Is Earl, Ghots Whisperer and CSI: NY.

Heidi, who by the way is the oldest of 6 kids, grew up in Provo, Utah, the third largest city in the state and located around 43 miles south of Salt Lake City, where she attended Provo High School, graduating in 2003. Still in high school, believe it or not Heidi was an accomplished track and field athlete, even traveling to Russia to participate in the Junior Olympics. She also graduated from Southern Utah University, where once again she showcased all her athleticism participating in competitions such as high jump and long jump. Also, as a girl raised in the Mormon religion, Heidi has a very interesting view of the concept of Heaven and Hell, stating those are things the human being made up to make ourselves feel comfortable about the afterlife, something to give people a purpose and life goals.

In regards to her passion for music and how it helped her become a better person, our unrestrained vocalist said music was basically the only thing she could relate to in her childhood, having as her personal heroes distinct names such as Slipknot, Wendy O. Williams, Gwen Stefani and Joan Jett, most of them being females that defy the male dominance in music as you can see. However, it’s Slipknot, a top to bottom male band, who had the strongest influence on her vocal style and stage performance, saying when she saw a picture of them for the first time (she was around 12 or 13 only) it really scared her but intrigued her at the same time. Once a girl who developed an intense fear of the dark, Heidi learned to embrace fear and use it in her creative process through the years, something we can definitely connect to what Slipknot aim with their unique approach.

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If you think she’s a party girl who doesn’t sleep at all and drinks every alcoholic beverage in sight, you’re absolutely wrong. Well, of course she always has her share of fun, but Heidi mentioned already in different interviews that if she doesn’t get enough sleep every night her live performances suffer a truly negative impact. On top of that, Heidi said that despite loving whiskey she can’t drink it on the road anymore, as the effect of the alcohol hurts her vocal chords, so she saves it for when she gets back home. If you’re a singer I’m sure you can relate to that, because you can be tired and drunk and still play a guitar, for example, but the impact alcohol can have on your vocals can be devastating without any doubt.

Lastly, as a lover of horror flicks and a believer of supernatural and paranormal forces, which in my opinion is an excellent source of inspiration for the type of music played by Butcher Babies, Heidi mentioned that among her favorite recent movies we can find titles like the new Evil Dead, V/H/S and V/H/S/2, You’re Next and The Purge, all pretty decent films with interesting storylines, don’t you think? And who knows, maybe it’s time for a slasher movie with a main female character named “Heidi the Butcher”, who not only chops and dismembers her victims, but does that screaming like a maniac while listening to some vicious heavy music. Or maybe it should be a sanguinary duo of Heidi and Carla? Read the rest of this essay and take your own conclusions.

Heidi Shepherd’s Official Facebook page
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Twitter
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Instagram

“There’s no reason why girls can’t get up there and rock just as hard as, if not harder than, the boys. And I’m so happy to say that I’m seeing a movement.” – Heidi Shepherd

CARLA HARVEY

carla01Of course Butcher Babies wouldn’t be complete without the charisma of the daredevil vocalist, author and actress Carla Harvey. Born on October 4, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan, United States, Carla is what we can call a very successful “experiment” as she is of Ethiopian, Finnish, Irish and Italian background, and her contribution to Butcher Babies comes in the form of hellish growls deeper than the screams by Heidi, endless energy on stage and some of the weirdest faces you can think of. Put differently, when Carla is performing with the band, she becomes a true female demon like Lilith, for example.

Carla attended Glenn Levey Middle School in Southfield, Michigan, before going to Mercy High School (an all-girl private Catholic school) and Harrison High School, both in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her first job in Hollywood was as an Entertainment Reporter for the Playboy Channel, also taking part in several movies such as Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove (2005), Happy in the Valley (2009) and Dry Run (2010), and other TV shows like Root of All Evil, Sex Chronicles and, just like her partner Heidi, MANswers. In addition, she took a break from the entertainment world to earn a degree in Mortuary Science from Cypress College in California, and worked as an embalmer and funeral director before forming Butcher Babies.

Our raven-haired (with some blue nuances) brawler said she’s been into music since she was a little kid, playing instruments like guitar and bass but always knowing she was born to be a singer. Her first appearance in a band happened when she was around 17 years old, but it wasn’t until Butcher Babies were born that she reached true stardom. Among her main influences, we can find kick-ass names like Slayer and Slipknot, with Slash and Jimi Hendrix being her personal heroes especially due to their roots. As a biracial girl growing in Detroit, seeing musicians that were also of African-American descent playing the music she loved was essential for her to keep pursuing her dreams and overcoming the odds imposed by society on her. Another huge influence on her vocal style and onstage performance in the one and only Phil Anselmo, the iconic frontman from Pantera and Down, who she has admired since she was a kid, highlighting how humble and easy-going he is as a person after finally being able to meet him on the road.

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Heavily influenced by horror movies such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects (these two directed by another one of her idols, Rob Zombie), Carla is also passionate about writing, drawing and reading comic books since she was a kid, something that helped her cope with loneliness as an introverted child, and from that fusion of horror flicks, comics and Heavy Metal she became a “comic book mastermind” according to Hustler Magazine. Her first comic book, entitled Butcher Babies (illustrated by Anthony Winn from Deepcut Productions), was released at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, followed by her first full-length novel Death and Other Dances in 2014, and more recently the comic series Soul Sucka, the story about an African-American vampire, in 2015. Carla is always drawing “naked girls” and other stuff, and if you’re interested in taking a look at her work you can visit her Big Cartel page.

And finally, just like what was written about Heidi in terms of drinking and partying while on tour, Carla also said drinking lots of water and hot tea is what truly helps keep her vocal chords moist, together with the obvious and necessary amount of sleep per night. However, she mentioned she also enjoys drinking Jägermeister as it coats her throat rather than drying it out. Although I’m a beer guy, I’m an admirer of Jäger too and I understand perfectly what she’s trying to say about the effect of this exquisite German digestif on your throat. If your job requires you to cut off alcohol, all you have to do is improvise and find other alternatives. And it looks like being creative and always trying new stuff doesn’t scare our roaring metal babe at all.

Carla Harvey’s Official Facebook page
Carla Harvey’s Official Twitter
Carla Harvey’s Official Instagram

“I wish, some day people stop using the female fronted this, female fronted that, because it always takes the focus away from the band itself, because you know, we are all just Heavy Metal bands, we are all doing the same thing.” – Carla Harvey

Butcher Babies’ Official Facebook page
Butcher Babies’ Official Twitter
Butcher Babies’ Official Instagram

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 03/06/2016)

As Toronto turned 182 years old yesterday, nothing better than celebrating the anniversary of our beautiful city with a gargantuan amount of fuckin’ “filth”.

OPENING ACTS: Ne Obliviscaris and Butcher Babies

COF_Inquisitional Torture 2016What a lovely day in our stunning, charming and multi-cultural city of Toronto. It might not be Summer (and not even Spring) yet, but sunny Winter days with temperatures above the freezing mark like this Sunday are such a thing of beauty they make us completely forget how harsh Winter can be sometimes. Perhaps that was Mother Nature giving her “birthday gift” to all Torontonians who were celebrating the 182nd anniversary of their beloved city. And what could have been better than hosting one of the most influential Extreme Metal bands of all time at the Phoenix Concert Theatre to properly commemorate the date? Finally, after five long years, the iconic Cradle of Filth returned to the “Land of the Moose”, as Dani Filth himself stated during the show.

This metallic feast started at around 7pm, when Australian Extreme Progressive Metal band NE OBLIVISCARIS hit the stage with their fusion of Symphonic Metal, Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Folk Metal and several other subgenres of heavy music blended in their sound. It took a few minutes for those guys from Melbourne, Australia to actually warm up and start entertaining the crowd, but once their concert took off it was indeed a nice experience, especially due to the amazing performances by Tim Charles with his violin and left-handed guitarist Benjamin Baret with his wicked riffs and solos. I confess I didn’t know much about the band before this gig, which means I’ll obviously go after their music to truly understand what they’re all about. And, of course, it’s good to know there’s more high-quality metal music coming from Down Under.

Setlist
Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes
Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
Xenoflux
Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
Pyrrhic
And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope

Band members
Xen – harsh vocals
Tim Charles – clean vocals, violin
Benjamin Baret – lead guitar
Matt Klavins – guitar
Cygnus – bass
Dan Presland – drums

When their concert was over and we all had a few minutes to rest and have a beer before the next attraction, I have to say it’s always nice when people come to talk to you about anything without being too wasted or high. That happened to me when a guy from Oshawa wearing a Bad Religion T-shirt approached me to say he liked my Pantera T-shirt, and from then we started chatting about music in general, focusing on bands such as Anthrax, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Volbeat. So kids, next time you go to a concert try not to be so wasted, falling like a bag of potatoes on everyone around you, or too “Justin Bieber-ish” that no one else can touch you or talk to you. There’s always somewhere in between that works a lot better for everybody, got it?

IMG_1117Getting back to the concert, it was then time for the dynamic duo comprised of Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, known as the BUTCHER BABIES, to kick some serious ass on stage and make everyone in the audience go absolutely mental before the main attraction of the night. It was also my first time seeing them live, and I must say those girls know how to put up an entertaining show. Armed with their demonic voices and supported by very competent musicians, especially bassist Jason Klein, those two girls from Los Angeles, California (dressed like an evil version of Babymetal) didn’t stop banging their heads and screaming for a single second, showcasing their deep passion for heavy music while playing every song of their setlist, which was mostly based on their 2015 album Take It Like a Man. There were a few technical issues with their sound, but no one seemed to care about that. All people wanted were more “excuses” to slam into the pit and do some stage diving, and both Heidi and Carla knew exactly how to ignite that fire with their Alternative Metal, playing some high-octane songs such as National Bloody Anthem, The Butcher and, my favorite of the night, Monster’s Ball. Girls, Toronto loves you and we can’t wait to have you back in the city!

Setlist
National Bloody Anthem
Blonde Girls All Look the Same
The Butcher
Gravemaker
Igniter
Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine
Monster’s Ball
Magnolia Blvd.
The Deathsurround/Goliath/I Smell a Massacre
Axe Wound

Band members
Heidi Shepherd – vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Henry Flury – guitar
Jason Klein – bass
Chris Warner – drums

CRADLE OF FILTH

IMG_1144It was around 9pm when the diabolical intro Humana Inspired to Nightmare announced the gates of Hades were open wide, therefore releasing the devil’s favorite dark angels to spread hell on earth with their unparalleled Extreme Metal. Promoting their latest opus Hammer Of The Witches under their current tour entitled Inquisitional Torture 2016, British titans CRADLE OF FILTH began to mercilessly discharge a flawless mix of classics with brand new chants, driving all fans at the venue utterly crazy. When a concert starts with Heaven Torn Asunder and Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, you know it’s going to be a fuckin’ massacre.

The most interesting fact for me about their setlist was that it was divided in two “acts”, like a theatre play. There was an intro for each act, followed by a sequence of blasting classics (covering almost all of their albums) that put a huge smile on the face of this guy here, a longtime fan of Dani and his crew. I simply love songs like Lord Abortion, Honey and Sulphur, Her Ghost in the Fog and my top Cradle of Filth song of all time, the insane From the Cradle to Enslave, but their newer stuff such as Right Wing of the Garden Triptych and Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess work so well when played live I’m sure they’ll become a constant part of their future tours. In addition, Dani (who was the demon himself last night), as a treat to all fans for waiting patiently for the band’s return to Toronto, dedicated to all of us For Your Vulgar Delectation, from their previous album (which unfortunately could not have a Canadian tour due to visa issues).

dani_toronto2016_02The whole band was on fire and Dani’s performance was epic, screaming like a rabid demon and wearing his Stygian attire and corpsepaint the way we all love, but I have to say last night belonged to the adorable keyboardist and singer Lindsay Schoolcraft. Although she’s not exactly from Toronto (technically, she’s from Oshawa), she was so excited and pleased to play together with Dani and his crew in her hometown she couldn’t stop smiling, waving to the fans and headbanging like a maniac during the entire concert. I guess I don’t need to say how memorable the night was for our talented Canadian girl, right? The only band member I couldn’t really watch well was drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka, who was “hiding” not only behind his drums, but also behind some kind of aquarium/glass cell to the left of the stage. That was a weird stage setup, by the way, as if they were keeping Marthus caged before he could escape and kill someone, but nothing that would make the whole concert less memorable.

dani_toronto2016And can you guess why Dani, Lindsay, Marthus and the other band members played so well and were so electrified last night? That’s exactly it, because of us, loyal and demented Cradle of Filth fans. I don’t remember seeing a crowd so insane and in sync with the band like that. What the fans did during Gilded Cunt, growling the lyrics together with Dani, and the furious mosh pits during Nymphetamine (Fix), which is in fact a heavy ballad and not a sick blasting tune, was truly outstanding. Even Gimli, the brave dwarf from Lord of the Rings, was among us weating a Testament T-shirt! If you were there, you know who I’m talking about. Anyway, Cradle of Filth provided us fans another memorable metal night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, and I’m pretty sure we also made the night memorable to the band as well, especially to Lindsay. I just hope Mr. Dani Filth and his horde of darkness do not take another five years to return to the Land of the (Headbanging) Moose. Actually, how about celebrating each and every anniversary of this distinct city together with the band? That’s the type of “filth” I’m sure no one would complain to have around all the time.

Setlist
ACT I
Humana Inspired to Nightmare (Intro)
Heaven Torn Asunder
Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
Blackest Magick in Practice
Lord Abortion
Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
Malice Through the Looking Glass
Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
Gilded Cunt

ACT II
Walpurgis Eve (Intro)
Yours Immortally…
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Honey and Sulphur
For Your Vulgar Delectation
Her Ghost in the Fog
From the Cradle to Enslave
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Born in a Burial Gown
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Album Review – Megadeth / Dystopia (2016)

And the dystopian world portrayed in the brand new album by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is beyond awesome.

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megadeth_dystopiaDys·to·pi·a
\disˈtōpēə\
noun. An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.

It’s this hopeless but unfortunately actual view of our decaying society that inspired the one and only metal lord Dave Mustaine and his Thrash/Speed Metal infantry Megadeth to compose Dystopia, the fifteenth studio album in their magnificent career and, in my opinion, their absolute best since their 2009 album Endgame. The reason behind that? Well, Dystopia is a rip-roaring feast of lancinating riffs, crushing beats and spectacularly austere lyrics, all led by one of the most influential, unrelenting and technical musicians in the history of Heavy Metal. In other words, Mr. Dave Mustaine nailed it once again for our total delectation.

Let’s say that this remarkable achievement also comes partially from the band’s  two new members, the awesome Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro (Angra), who took the six-strings from the also amazing Chris Broderick, and especially the insane American drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God), replacing longtime drummer Shawn Drover. While Kiko added a lot of feeling to Megadeth’s distinct guitar lines, Chris simply came smashing everything and everyone with his groovy and bestial technique, and the final result is what every single “MegaFan” in the world was expecting from this iconic band from the United States.

The smooth vocals by Jordanian singer Farah Siraj kick off Mustaine’s dystopian world in the magnificently trenchant chant The Threat is Real, a killer traditional Megadeth song with the trademark piercing riffs by Dave and his always politicized lyrics (“See the burnished images / Of a crest fallen nation see / Violent conditioning, cause the nature of the enemy / You’re terminal lack of vision / Blinded, I see no light / A chronic lack of perspective / Their cancer now eats us alive”). I can’t wait to see this played live, and don’t forget to check its awesome animated video because Vic Rattlehead gets his revenge in the official video (including references to some of their old albums) for the following tune, the superb Dystopia, with highlights to its strong feeling of desolation and its thoughtful lyrics (“Demoralized and overmastered people think / The quickest way to end a war is lose / Dictatorship ends starting with tyrannicide / You must destroy the cancer at its root”). Not only its initial riff is outstanding, but its chorus is so catchy I’m sure it will be one of the best moments of their future live performances.

Fatal Illusion, which brings lyrics about a person who is a misfit in society and ends up getting taken before the judicial system (“Lost inside the system, locked away without a key / No one will ever miss a menace to society / A gross lack of potential, bad decisions made in spite / A touchy hairpin trigger and such a wasted life”), clearly showcases the enormous positive impact Kiko and Chris had on the overall result of the album in terms of groove and complexity; while Death from Within, another dark and bitter composition by “MegaDave”, gets closer to what he did in albums such as The System Has Failed and United Abominations. Moreover, Chris is simply pounding his drums with endless anger, in a classy exhibit of how good heavy drumming is supposed to be. And in Bullet to the Brain, an eerie intro morphs into a heavy and psychological tune, blending old school and modern Megadeth while focusing on the guitar riffs and solos by Dave and Kiko, with Dave providing an excellent chorus to be screamed along with him.

megadeth 2016Post American World is perhaps the darkest of all songs, with many elements from their classic “Symphony of Destruction” added to its musicality. Dave sends a strong message to his countrymen, whereas bassist David Ellefson keeps delivering his precise and thunderous bass lines, just as expected from such an amazing musician. Then guest singer Farah Siraj returns with her gentle voice in Poisonous Shadows, a pensive and melancholic aria that will please most fans of the band where Kiko Loureiro displays some of his abilities on the piano, and guest musician Charlie Judge takes care of the orchestrations amidst the song’s gripping riffs.

The beautiful instrumental tune Conquer or Die! sets the stage for the heavy as hell Lying in State, my favorite of all tracks by far. This kick-ass chant will penetrate your mind and soul and crush you mercilessly, with Chris and David demolishing everything that crosses their path with their boisterous drums and resonant bass lines, respectively. Needless to say how violent and acid the lyrics are in this awesome Thrash Metal anthem, right? Anyway, in the high-octane thrashy tune The Emperor, the biggest question is who the lucky person being “honored” by its lyrics is (“You look so perfect, but everybody knows / Their petrified to say the emperor has no clothes / So bloody perfect, but everybody knows / Their just so petrified, the emperor has no clothes”). Even if you have no clue about the answer, just enjoy this straightforward Megadeth tune, where Dave steals the spotlight with yet another intense performance. And closing Dystopia in solid fashion, Megadeth offer us their flawless cover version for Foreign Policy, one of the biggest hits by Fear, a Hardcore Punk band from Los Angeles, California (take a listen at the original version HERE).

In a nutshell, if there were any fans still a bit skeptical about the direction the music by Megadeth was taking after the good but controversial Super Collider was released in 2013, I’m pretty sure their fears are completely gone with Dystopia. As aforementioned, Dave Mustaine didn’t disappoint at all, providing his legion of loyal admirers another marvelous chapter in the band’s history. Thus, it’s sad to realize we’re actually living in a dystopia, where everything surrounding us seems to be tending towards a tragic ending. However, at least the dystopian world created by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is indeed beyond awesome and will surely make our lives less miserable for years to come.

Best moments of the album: The Threat is Real, Dystopia, Lying in State and The Emperor.

Worst moments of the album: None, of course. This is Megadeth at their finest.

Released in 2016 Universal Music

Track listing
1. The Threat is Real 4:22
2. Dystopia 5:00
3. Fatal Illusion 4:16
4. Death from Within 4:48
5. Bullet to the Brain 4:29
6. Post American World 4:25
7. Poisonous Shadows 6:02
8. Conquer or Die! (Instrumental) 3:33
9. Lying in State 3:34
10. The Emperor 3:54
11. Foreign Policy (Fear cover) 2:28 

Japanese edition bonus track
12. Me Hate You 3:44

Spotify bonus track
12. Melt the Ice Away (Budgie cover) 3:28

iTunes & Best Buy edition bonus tracks
8. Look Who’s Talking 4:14
12. Last Dying Wish 3:49

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, piano on “Poisonous Shadows”
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Chris Adler – drums

Additional musicians
Farah Siraj – guest vocals on “The Threat is Real” and “Poisonous Shadows”
Charlie Judge – orchestral arrangements on “Poisonous Shadows”
Miles Doleac – voice-over in “Conquer or Die!”
Steve Wariner – steel guitar
Chris Rodriguez – backing vocals

Album Review – Fear Factory / Genexus (2015)

Once again, it’s time to enter the machine and surrender to the mechanized reign ruled by the undisputed masters of Industrial Metal.

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fear factory_genexusI honestly don’t understand why the music by American Industrial Metal masters Fear Factory has never been part of any of the Terminator movies. I mean, ANY of their songs are powerful, metallic and atmospheric enough to provide the perfect background for all the destruction and chaos caused by the one and only Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is also the case with the music found in their brand new automaton entitled Genexus, the ninth studio album in their exceptional career and the first to feature drummer Mike Heller (Malignancy, System Divide).

However, it’s not only the density and strength of the music by this Los Angeles-based nonstop machine that amazes me every single time they release a new album, but also the whole futuristic concept surrounding their work. For instance, the new artwork, designed by American artist Anthony Clarkson, reminds me a lot of three iconic movie characters that have everything to do with what the music proposes: the unstoppable killing machine known as the Terminator; the brainy and rebel hero Iron Man; and the mesmerizing but extremely dangerous Ava (from the cult flick Ex Machina). Put differently, Fear Factory marvelously know how to give life and emotion to cold metal.

The opening track, Autonomous Combat System, is Industrial Metal at its finest from the very first second, a violent and harmonious tune just like we always expect from this amazing band, and when the sick riffs by the unparalleled Dino Cazares and the band’s famous industrial drums begin the energy level goes through the roof. And their futuristic awesomeness goes on in Anodized, another masterful lesson in shredding (who doesn’t love riffs like these?) supporting its meaningful lyrics from a not-so-impossible future for all of us (“A transhuman state / Will liberate man’s evolution / A singularity / Maintains the peace / Machined solution / Lacerate, eviscerate / My body to redefine / My design”). The performance by Mr. Burton C. Bell with both his harsh screams and clean vocals is superb, and if you’re a fan of Alternative Metal or Nu Metal let me tell you this is an awesome example of how everything started. In Dielectric, you can feel the electricity flowing nonstop, especially through its drums that sound like a machine gun, with its background effects being so important I cannot imagine this amazing tune without them.

Then it’s time to bang your fuckin’ head to the low-tuned bass lines by Tony Campos and the vicious riffs by Mr. Cazares in Soul Hacker, where its great chorus will stick inside your mind for sure, followed by the dynamic and thrilling rhythm of ProtoMech, enhanced by its excellent lyrics (“Take everything away from me / Replace my skin with circuitry / All that I have bleeding from me / To feed the machine”) and an amazing feeling provided by its mechanized atmosphere. In my humble opinion, this is the best song of the whole album, proving once again how skillfully Fear Factory are capable of feeding the Heavy Metal machine we all love so much.

fear factoryThe superb title-track, Genexus, is like a journey to a desolated world ruled by machines, exactly like what the future shows in the Terminator franchise, showcasing all the elements that took Fear Factory to stardom, with Burton sounding enraged and ready to confront the machine for his freedom. Church of Execution also provides that mechanic and industrialized sounding and an eerie ambience with lots of groove, despite not being as kick-ass as the others due to the lack of a more violent chorus; while Regenerate, with its weird robotic effects in the background, is perhaps one of the best examples of traditional Thrash Metal modernized by Industrial and Groove Metal. Moreover, I love the energy of its chorus, and how can we not bang our heads to it?

Battle for Utopia is intended to represent the march of the machines with its furious and imposing sonority, including lots of special effects to create the atmosphere desired by the band, before Expiration Date closes the album in a very traditional way, which in the case of Fear Factory means in the form of a melancholic music voyage. Pay good attention to the beauty of its lyrics, gently declaimed by Burton (“Under the surface we’re not machines / Under the surface we’re living dreams / Death lives just one breath away / Somewhere my heart beats in silence / I made my way through the violence / Nobody lives forever”), close your eyes and let yourself be absorbed by the music and its message, the final result is outstanding.

And finally, on a side note, the bonus tracks that come with the limited edition of Genexus keep up with the rest of the album in terms of complexity, violence and electricity, with highlights to the ominous atmosphere in the smooth Enhanced Reality. In summary, if you’re ready to enter the machine engendered  by Fear Factory for the first time, or if you already surrendered to their mechanized reign a long time ago, Genexus is definitely a must-have album to your collection of extreme and melodic music.

Best moments of the album: Autonomous Combat System, ProtoMech and Genexus.

Worst moments of the album: Church of Execution and Battle for Utopia.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Autonomous Combat System 5:28
2. Anodized 4:47
3. Dielectric 4:19
4. Soul Hacker 3:12
5. ProtoMech 4:56
6. Genexus 4:48
7. Church of Execution 3:21
8. Regenerate 4:02
9. Battle for Utopia 4:14
10. Expiration Date 8:48

Limited Digipak bonus tracks
11. Mandatory Sacrifice (Genexus Remix) 5:43
12. Enhanced Reality 5:36

Band members
Burton C. Bell – vocals
Dino Cazares – guitar
Tony Campos – bass guitar
Mike Heller – drums

Guest musicians
Deen Castronovo – drums on “Soul Hacker”
Laurent Tardy – piano on “Autonomous Combat System” and “Protomech”
Mister Sam – spoken words on “Autonomous Combat System” and “Expiration Date”
Damien Rainuad – programming, keyboards
Giuseppe Bassi – samples, keyboards

Metal Chick of the Month – Ashley “Ellyllon” Jurgemeyer

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Fall for the love of me… Crawl for the love of me.

If you’re a fan of Cradle Of Filth, Abigail Williams or Orbs, you must have already heard of the red-haired diva Ashley “Ellyllon” Jurgemeyer, Ashley Ellyllon or Ashley Jurgemeyer, a very talented pianist, keyboardist and songwriter involved in so many different projects and bands, including scoring for film and television, that it’s quite hard to list all of them here without missing anything.

Born on July 30, 1984 in Scottsdale, Arizona, but currently residing in Los Angeles, California, Ashley started her music career at the age of six by taking classical piano lessons, finally earning some years later her Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and Composition from Arizona State University in 2006. During her years at the Arizona State University, she studied with John Metz, Jody Rockmaker, and James DeMars, and was granted the Louis Kerr Grant in composition. After her graduation, she began her career in Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal in New York, where she was able to combine her background in classical music with the more modern musicality of genres such as Experimental Rock, Symphonic Black Metal and Extreme Metal.

Our redhead pianist was one of the founding members of American Symphonic Black Metal band Abigail Williams in 2005, with whom she recorded one EP called Legend, in 2006, and two full-length albums: In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns, in 2008, and more recently Becoming, in 2012, this time just as a guest musician. During her years with the band, where she was always responsible for all piano, synths, and orchestration parts, and sometimes also for some background vocals, she was able to go on tour and share the stage with Extreme Metal icons Emperor, Dark Funeral, Enslaved, among many others. If you want to know more about her contribution to the music of Abigail Williams, my suggestions as a start are the awesome songs FloodsInto the Ashes and Acolytes, all three from the album In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns.

Between her departure from Abigail Williams in 2009 and her return in 2012, Ashley became the new keyboardist for English Extreme Metal band Cradle Of Filth, replacing English keyboardist Rosie Smith. She toured with the band for a while, even taking part of the music video for The Death Of Love (watch it at the end of this text), from the album Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder (which she didn’t record), and then recorded her only album with the band, the excellent Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa, in 2010. Her beautiful keyboard and piano lines can be enjoyed in powerful and heavy songs such as The Cult of Venus Aversa, Retreat of the Sacred Heart, and especially Lilith Immaculate (although she’s not in the official music video for this song). However, she mentioned her favorite Cradle Of Filth song to play live was not from her album with the band, but the sonic massacre Cthulhu Dawn, from the masterpiece Midian (2000).

She’s also part of American Experimental Rock supergroup Orbs, together with Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me) and Adam Fisher (Fear Before), with whom she recorded the album Asleep Next to Science, in 2010, the single These People Are Animals, in 2014, and now in 2015 the band will be releasing a new full-length album entitled Past Life Regression. The music here is completely different from Abigail Williams and Cradle Of Filth, as you’ll notice in the songs Sayer of the Law, Megaloblastic Madness, Something Beautiful, and The Northwestern Bearitories B – Kid Cancer, which is something mentioned by Ashley in one of her rare interviews like this one for PunkWorldViews.com.

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Besides those bands and projects, Ashley was also responsible for the programming and string arrangement in the album Until I Feel Nothing (2011) by American Deathcore band Carnifex, and helped American Shock Rock singer Ryann Donnelly with the songwriting for her Girl EP (2012), which can be seen for example in the song Bang.. But hold your breath, because there’s still a lot more to go: our gorgeous “ginger” musician is also working on a solo classical piano album; composed the song Sunday Sundress for the Handmade Hostess Official Book Trailer; played keyboards and composed Casting The Circle, a very interesting song by a project called The Dreadful Hours; and was named “Best Keyboardist of 2010” by Alternative Press.

Are you tired already? Well, Ashley is definitely not, and it looks like she’s always ready for more when it’s about music, as she’s also featured on a video called Antiquity Music Sessions – Ep. 1 – The Baldwin Solid Body Harpsichord, where she beautifully plays the Baldwin Solid Body Harpsichord and, although we cannot see her pretty face, we can enjoy some of her abilities as a musician (and her perfect red hair, of course). And don’t forget to check all her other contributions, compositions and projects on her official website. In addition, one can imagine how much time Ashley has to spend on the road with all her bands and projects, and what she likes to do to spend free time on tour. She mentioned she loves exploring any city she’s in, reading, writing new music, connecting to her family through the internet, and of course playing her keyboards.

Ashley’s list of idols in the world of music is very eclectic, including many classical masters such as Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, French composer Claude Debussy and Russian classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, as well as more contemporary artists like English musician Matt Bellamy (Muse) and American keyboardist Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater). Moreover, her top 5 albums simply corroborate her broad music taste, as the list is composed by Muse’s Origin of Symmetry, Darkest Hour’s Undoing Ruin, Dimmu Borgir’s Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, Radiohead’s OK Computer, and Sigur Rós’ Agaetis Byrjun, which means she’s a fan of Alternative/Experimental Rock, Melodic Death Metal, Symphonic Black Metal, Post-Rock, and remember we’re only talking about her favorite albums, not everything that she listens to while performing her day-to-day activities!

In regards to her personal life, Ashley loves yoga, running, cooking, traveling, and curiously one of her favorite hobbies is making comic books. I tried to find anything she’s already produced in terms of comics on the web, but nothing came up. Maybe it’s just a personal thing for her, in other words, something she’s not willing to share with anybody else? Anyway, talking about her likes and dislikes, among her top places are Greece and New Zealand, her favorite movie is the unparalleled classic Silence of the Lambs, her favorite books are “Mozart in the Jungle” by Blair Tindall and “Still Life With Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins, and finally her favorite food and drink are, respectively, Thai food and Blood Mary. Why am I not surprised our redhead rocker loves a drink that has BLOOD in its name and is completely RED?

Equipment
Roland Fantom G8
Yamaha S90 ES
Roland Juno
Nord Stage 2 88

Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official website
Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official Facebook page
Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official Twitter