Album Review – Nexion / Seven Oracles (2020)

Behold the indomitable seven-headed best of Black Metal summoned by an up-and-coming, infernal horde hailing from Iceland.

The nature of existence and human value and meaning are central themes in every religion, every spirituality and countless philosophies. It is thus fitting that Reykjavík, Iceland-based Black Metal horde Nexion’s first full-length opus, entitled Seven Oracles, concerns itself with these subjects, working as a revelatory “proclamation” of mythic proportions. Formed in 2016, the band comprised of Joshua Hróðgeir Rood on vocals, Jóhannes Smári Smárason and Óskar Rúnarsson o the guitars, Kári Pálsson on bass and Sigurður Jakobsson on drums offers in the follow-up to their 2017 self-titled EP a collection of the seven “oracles”, with each one addressing the nature of existence from a different angle, revealing and tearing away upheld “truths” like the serpent who gnaws the roots of Yggdrasil. Each song is a dagger, each chord is poison, and each utterance is fire, destroying the receiver’s sense of existential belief until there is nothing left. Mixed and mastered at Studio Emissary in Iceland, and featuring a cryptic artwork by José Gabriel Alegría Sabogal portraying a seven-headed beast appearing before a figure who offers it up a libation in exchange for wisdom within a self-conflating world, Seven Oracles has everything we love in extreme music, leaving us all completely disoriented after its 46 minutes of scorching and austere music are over.

Arising from the depths of the underworld, this Icelandic horde generates a Stygian wall of sounds in the title-track Seven Oracles, exploding into a raw and vile sonority led by Sigurður’s infernal drums while Joshua roars like a true demonic entity, not to mention the strident riffage by the band’s guitar duo, building an instant bridge to the also occult and ritualistic extravaganza titled Revelation of Unbeing, bringing elements from Blackened Doom and Doom Metal to make the overall result even more uncanny, with Jóhannes, Óskar and Kári being on absolute fire with their stringed weapons from start to finish. Then we have Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds, a lesson in modern-day Black Metal made in Iceland that’s even more disturbing and grim than its predecessors, spearheaded by Joshua and his Death Metal-inspired growls and also presenting the trademark epicness of Scandinavian Black Metal; and there’s no time to breather as those ruthless metallers blast another sulfurous aria entitled Sanctum Amentiae, where the razor-edged riffs by both Jóhannes and Óskar are in perfect sync with the rhythmic, pounding beats by Sigurður.

In the fantastic and fulminating Utterances of Broken Throats the entire band hammers their instruments mercilessly, bringing to our ears a piercing and dense hybrid of classic Black Metal and contemporary Melodic Black Metal, or in other words, get ready to be utterly stunned and smashed by those talented marauders. And the tribal beats by Sigurður are gradually accompanied by the hellish guitar lines by Jóhannes and Óskar until all hell breaks loose in The Spirit of Black Breath, another feast of Icelandic Black Metal that will put you in a darkened trance throughout its over six minutes of devilish sounds and tones, followed by the climatic closing aria The Last Messiah, named after the eponymous book The Last Messiah, in honor of Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zappfe, sounding as demolishing and detailed as all previous songs from such intense album of extreme music. Furthermore, Joshua’s growls get deeper and more berserk as the music progresses, all embraced by crisp guitar riffs, rumbling bass punches and a gargantuan amount of evil and obscurity for our vulgar delectation.

This seven-headed best of Black Metal summoned by Nexion is waiting for you at the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp page or at the Sound Cave’s webstore in different formats such as the regular digipak CD version or the awesome orange/black marble LP + shirt bundle, and you can also get to know more about such distinct act of the underground Black Metal scene by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by listening to more of their music on Spotify. This is Icelandic Black Metal at its finest, and we must all thank Nexion for bringing to us all mere mortals such breathtaking and compelling display of extreme music, setting the bar really high for the band’s five evil minds in the upcoming releases, always sounding sulfurous, always extreme, and above all that, always loyal to the foundations of Black Metal and to their Scandinavian roots.

Best moments of the album: Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds and Utterances of Broken Throats.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Seven Oracles 6:22
2. Revelation of Unbeing 5:35
3. Divine Wind and Holocaust Clouds 5:52
4. Sanctum Amentiae 6:05
5. Utterances of Broken Throats 7:08
6. The Spirit of Black Breath 6:25
7. The Last Messiah 9:05

Band members
Joshua Hróðgeir Rood – vocals
Jóhannes Smári Smárason – guitar
Óskar Rúnarsson – guitar
Kári Pálsson – bass
Sigurður Jakobsson – drums

Album Review – Wardaemonic / Acts of Repentance (2020)

Hailing from Western Australia, an infernal horde returns with more of their ancient and inscrutable Black Metal in the form of the mightiest album of their career.

Back from the hellish pits of Perth, Western Australia with the mightiest album of their career, the excellent Acts of Repentance, a ruthless Black Metal horde known as Wardaemonic has gone from strength to strength in their new album, incorporating slower, dissonant parts that work brilliantly when contrasted with their trademark “ancient and inscrutable Black Metal”. Furthermore, the band comprised of Maelstrom on vocals and drums, Anharat and Lord Bane on the guitars and Blitz on bass and synths offers fans of the music by iconic names such as Immortal, Marduk, Watain and Dark Funeral, among others, everything we crave in classic Black Metal, feeling uncompromising and steely in its approach while backed with enough experience to make the entire album memorable and also intriguing for the listener to keep coming back to it for more. Featuring a sulfurous artwork by French artist Leoncio Harmr (Eternal Storm) and layout by Finnish artist Turkka Rantanen (Paganizer, Demilich), Acts of Repentance is not only a fantastic addition to the band’s discography, marking their fourth full-length opus and the follow-up to their 2015 installment Obsequium, but also a must-have release for anyone who respects and admires underground Black Metal from the bottom of their (evil) hearts.

Dragging our souls to their Stygian Australian lair, the quarter begins their devastating Black Metal onrush in the first of the album’s five acts from hell, Act I – Introspection, where Maelstrom sounds beyond infernal with both his blast beats and devilish vociferations, resulting in a lecture in old school Black Metal clearly inspired by the genre’s infamous Scandinavian sound. Not only that, Anharat and Lord Bane will penetrate deep inside your psyche with their crushing riffage, and if you survive such demented and vicious display of extreme music you better get ready for another ass-kicking tune titled Act II – Admission, offering the listener nine minutes of blackened sounds and cryptic passages where those four black metallers from Down Under don’t stop hammering their instruments for our total delight. Moreover, Blitz makes the earth tremble with his bass lines and diabolical synths, helping the music flow as darkly and aggressively as it can be until the very end.

Then an absolutely atmospheric and phantasmagorical intro ignites the 12-minute aria entitled Act III – Castigation, morphing into a disruptive and evil sonic feast led by Maelstrom and his unstoppable blast beats and also bringing elements of primeval Doom Metal and Blackened Doom to our avid ears, not to mention the strident riffs and endless rage flowing from Maelstrom’s inhumane gnarls, sounding multi-layered, dense and utterly impactful. Another grim and captivating ambience brought forth by Wardaemonic is suddenly replaced by an avalanche of violent Black Metal titled Act IV – Sufferance, where the somber vocalizations by Maelstrom make an interesting paradox with his trademark deep roars while the band’s guitar duo continues to breathe fire from their stringed weapons. And ending the album in the most brutal and demolishing way we have Act V – Repentance, an unrelenting display of traditional Black Metal infused with Melodic and even Atmospheric Black Metal nuances. Your mind will be destroyed by the stunning riffs by both Anharat and Lord Bane accompanied by Blitz’s thunderous bass punches, concluding the album’s five acts on a truly high note.

Wardaemonic Acts of Repentance Autographed CD Boxset

The gates to the underworld of Australian metal are open once again thanks to Wardaemonic and their wicked new opus Acts of Repentance, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and in order to join those talented metallers in their quest for Black Metal simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and purchase your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in CD format or as an amazing autographed CD boxset, or from Apple Music. After such pulverizing opus of Extreme Metal, I bet you’re eager for more of the music by Wardaemonic, and I’m quite sure we won’t have to wait for another five excruciating years to hear again from one of the most talented and solid metal acts coming from Australia, darkening the skies and our souls with their undisputed Black fuckin’ Metal.

Best moments of the album: Act I – Introspection and Act III – Castigation.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Act I – Introspection 7:15
2. Act II – Admission 8:58
3. Act III – Castigation 12:09
4. Act IV – Sufferance 9:01
5. Act V – Repentance 8:14

Band members
Maelstrom – vocals, drums
Anharat – lead guitars
Lord Bane – guitars
Blitz – bass, synth programming

Metal Chick of the Month – İlkim Oulanem

Doomsday is not so far… See you in hell, İlkim!

Every single time we at The Headbanging Moose decide to honour a woman in Black Metal in our metal chick of the month segment, we have a really hard time finding most details about that specific woman most probably due to all the secrecy, mystery and obscurity that are inherent to such distinct subgenre of heavy music. Having said that, it couldn’t have been any different with our metal lady on the month of March, as almost everything related to İlkim Oulanem is about her career in Black Metal, with very few, rare interviews and other articles being available about her personal life. However, thanks to my superior “detective” skills, I managed to find a very interesting side of our Turkish Valkyrie that might be a surprise to most people that have already had any contact with İlkim’s work in the Black Metal scene, and as any good journalist I’ll save that distinct side of our metal lady for the end of this tribute, how about that? I’m sure you’ll love both her more aggressive and infernal Black Metal side, and her more recent endeavours in music.

Born in the year of 1989 in Ankara, Turkey’s cosmopolitan capital, sitting in the country’s central Anatolia region, İlkim began her career in Black Metal around 2005, when she formed a pure Black Metal band called Messershmit in Ankara. After performing as a vocalist and bassist for Messershmit until 2008, with whom she recorded a split album titled Split Way of Life in 2005 together with Turkish Black Metal band Satanic Verses, as well as an unlisted demo entitled Beyond the Wall of Sleep, İlkim formed her own one-woman Black Metal project self-titled İlkim Oulanem back in 2008, recording all vocals and instruments (and being also responsible for all lyrics) in all of her releases under the now defunct project. In addition, if you’re not familiar with the music by İlkim Oulanem, let me tell you that her sound suffered a few changes through the years, evolving from a raw Black Metal sonority to what can be called Melodic Black Metal or even Black n’ Roll.

As the one-woman band İlkim Oulanem (which you might also find under the name İlkim2), she released the two-track demo The Alarm, in 2005, gathering considerable interest from critics and fans in her homeland (which led her to tour around İstanbul, Gaziantep and Eskişehir), the EP Iblisbilim, in 2009, and her only full-length opus Girdap, in 2011, not to mention the split albums Pentagram, Legions of the Black Ice Fires, Unholy Culture and Sixth Hell of the East IV, all released in 2009, and BPMTh and International Black Scene Vol.1, both from 2010, with some amazing underground bands such as Storm of Darkness, Lux Serpent of Eden, Oculus Sathanas, Solus, Diabolis Interriym, Sirannon, Moderix and Ambient Fabric, among others. Hence, if you want to have a very good taste of the rawness and obscurity flowing from her music under her İlkim Oulanem moniker, you can listen to songs like Asil Varoluş, Hey Kukla and İblisbilim, all sung in her mother tongue Turkish, by the way, and always about controversial topics such as war and destruction.

Apart from her work with İlkim Oulanem, our talented metaller has also been involved with a band named Karabudun (albeit there’s nothing from this band available anywhere online), played drums for Mexican Black Metal band Demonic Forest in 2008, participated as a guest drummer in the 2009 demo titled 191919…, by Turkish all-female Death/Black Metal band Ancestry (previously known as War Ancestry), and was a guest vocalist and lyricist in the song Screams of Lost Horrors, from the 2010 album The Dark… the Withered…, by Colombian Depressive Black Metal band Asbel. Furthermore, after the end of her one-woman Black Metal project, she started playing pop and rock music under the name İlkim, but the only material you’ll find anywhere from that project is the official video for a song titled Melekler Hatırına.

Highly influenced by underground Black Metal, Death Metal and Grindcore bands, with Immortal being one of her biggest idols in extreme music, İlkim sees (or at least used to see) Black Metal as more than just music, being an essential part of her life it doesn’t matter if she’s simply walking down a street or drinking a cup of coffee. When asked about the Norwegian Black Metal scene and all the events that took place in the 90’s involving the infamous members of Mayhem and Burzum, she said that although she considers Norway the birthplace and a great nation for Black Metal, you can be a successful Black Metal musician anywhere in the world despite your age, sex or anything else, complementing by saying she doesn’t like to label different strands of Black Metal such as National Socialist Black Metal, Christian Black Metal (also known as Unblack Metal) or Anti-Human Black Metal, saying that for her there’s only one type of Black Metal, period. Moreover, she also mentioned in one of her interviews that she considers the Satanic imagery commonly used by Black Metal bands as a metaphor for individualism and personal freedom as the best option indeed, much better than any God imagery.

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As a one-woman Black Metal band in a country like Turkey, where extreme music is the underground of the underground, İlkim said the Turkish metal scene is very active and robust despite all the hassles that the Turkish society might impose to the musicians from the scene, also saying there’s a lot of room for creativity and that there are several underground venues where bands share their expertise, their stories and music. Regarding her writing process, İlkim mentioned that she doesn’t follow a strict or structured process to compose her music and write her lyrics, as everything comes straight from her heart and personal experiences and struggles, complementing by mentioning that although she has already used and consumed alcohol, cigarettes and even drugs in her life, she enjoys writing and recording her songs with a clean mind and a healthy body, without any external substances impacting her train of though.

Last but not least, as mentioned in the beginning of this tribute, there’s a very distinguished side of İlkim that I’m sure most people know nothing about, especially due to her “departure” from the Black Metal world back in 2011. As a matter of fact, while she was still playing Black Metal, İlkim mentioned in an interview that she loved listening to underground Black Metal and classical music, and it’s classical music what might have influenced her the most in her decision to step away from extreme music and venture through the realms of rock and pop music. However, even that pop period of İlkim seems a little shady, with nothing truly solid happening from 2011 until more recent years, and after searching and searching online for more information on her current career it was with great surprise that I found out İlkim is now known as İlkim Yılmaz, a music director and the chief orchestral conductor for Bilintur Women’s Chamber Orchestra and Muzed Music Teachers’ Orchestra during the 2019-2020 season. Unless she has an identical twin, a clone or there’s someone out there that looks exactly like her and uses her exact same name, our underground black metaller became a classical musician. Interesting, isn’t it?

If İlkim Yılmaz is indeed our İlkim Oulanem, and I’m pretty sure she is, she graduated from the Department of Composition and Music Theory at Başkent University State Conservatory in 2017 with  High Honor Degree and Secondary Degree, continuing her studies between 2017 and 2019 with the distinguished conductor Işın Metin. In addition, during her bachelor degree, she attended Burak Tüzün and Rengim Gökmen’s lessons at Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory between 2015 and 2017 as a guest, also conducting during that same period the youth chamber orchestra as a guest conductor. Furthermore, right after her graduation in 2017, İlkim became the assistant conductor for the Middle East Technical University Fine Arts Ensemble Choir, and in the spring of 2018 she served as the music director and conductor for the Middle East Technical University Fine Arts Orchestra, performing four concerts with them, three of which at the famous METU Kemal Kurdaş Hall. There are several other concerts, workshops and events she has already participated through the years in the classical and orchestral music scene in Turkey (and you can always know more about her work and events by following her on Facebook), and perhaps that’s exactly where she should be in spite of her undeniable contribution to Black Metal in Turkey. I’m quite sure she’s not ashamed of her past as a metalhead, and that deep inside her heart she still nurtures a great passion for Black Metal. And who knows, maybe one day İlkim Oulanem will arise from the ashes like a Black Metal phoenix for our total delight, right?

Album Review – The Spirit / Cosmic Terror (2020)

The soundtrack to the fear of vast nothingness in the form of melodic and progressive Black and Death Metal made in Germany, beautifully dragging the listener into a musical catharsis.

As far-reaching as the literary, philosophical and psychological meanings behind the term Cosmic Terror might be, for German Black/Death Metal trio The Spirit naming their sophomore full-length album with this title opens up a world of its own. They do not want to explain anything nor to analyze their lyrics, characterized by misanthropy and social criticism, having only one simple goal in mind, which is to let their music speak for itself. The result is a bold and breathtaking album containing seven raging tracks that blend and bend Black and Death Metal, extensive instrumental passages and some of the most face-ripping riffs you’ll hear, which apparently even attracted nearby snakes to the studio’s terrace during the recording according to the band members themselves.

Formed in 2015 in Saarbrücken, the capital and largest city of the state of Saarland in the always beautiful and vibrant Germany, The Spirit are currently comprised of MT on vocals and guitars, AT on bass and MS on drums, a talented and unrelenting trio of fairly anonymous musicians who have been making a name for themselves in the underground scene since the release of their debut opus entitled Sounds from the Vortex, in 2017, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Dissection, Satyricon and Naglfar, among others. Finalized with a unique cover artwork by French artist Valnoir (Metastazis), Cosmic Terror tears the listener into a musical catharsis, with the band once again crafting their own soundtrack to the fear of vast nothingness.

The trio wastes no time and begin blasting their crisp and incendiary Black Metal in Serpent As Time Reveals, offering over six minutes of classy and vicious extreme music for our avid ears where MS is a true beast on drums, while MT growls the song’s beautiful lyrics in great fashion (“The ability to spread agony / A sick craft you truly master / The enduring thirst for power and dominion / Poison, obsessional voracity / Dangerous strength to the perverted insane / Unleash hell to enhance pathetic egotism”); and they continue their obscure and melodic attack in Strive For Salvation, with MT’s heavier-than-hell riffs and AT’s fulminating bass lines generating the perfect ambience for the enraged gnarls by MT while MS keeps pounding and smashing his drums manically. Then drinking form the same infernal fountain as renowned acts like Marduk, Immortal and Mayhem, the trio explodes our senses with the fantastic Repugnant Human Scum, a lesson in Black Metal infused with Death Metal and Melodic Black Metal nuances.

A melancholic and somber intro morphs into a mid-tempo headbanging feast titled The Path Of Solitude, where all band members are in absolute sync and with MT sounding diabolical with both his roars and riffs, resulting in an ode to darkness and solitude in the form of ass-kicking Black Metal. After such dense tune, it’s time for more disruptive and Stygian sounds by The Spirit in Pillars Of Doom, where MT sounds possessed with his demonic riffage while AT and MS make the earth tremble with their respective weapons of mass destruction. In The Wide Emptiness the band doesn’t stop hammering their instruments and consequently our heads, showcasing classic Black Metal with more contemporary nuances, not to mention how impressive it is that only three guys can generate such bold and hellish sound, with MT’s soulful solo serving as the icing on the cake. Lastly, the title-track Cosmic Terror comes as an arrow piercing our ears and minds, concluding the obscure Black Metal journey by the trio that started “long time ago” with the opening track. However, despite being an amazing display of extreme music, the fact that it’s only an instrumental song takes away a little of its rawness and energy, but that’s just my opinion as I truly enjoy MT’s harsh vocals.

In a nutshell, the excellent Cosmic Terror, which is available from the AOP Records’ BandCamp page, from the EMP webstore, from IndieMerchstore.com in CD or 12” vinyl format, as well as from several other locations which you can check by clicking HERE, not only points to a bright future for The Spirit, positioning the band as one of the most promising names of the German extreme music scene, but it’s also a mandatory listen for fans of the more contemporary wave of Black and Death Metal bands with a huge focus on progressiveness, melodies and atmospheric passages. Hence, don’t forget to give The Spirit a shout via their official Facebook page, and let the cosmic terror flowing form their wicked creations penetrate deep inside your damned soul.

Best moments of the album: Repugnant Human Scum, The Path Of Solitude and The Wide Emptiness.

Worst moments of the album: Cosmic Terror.

Released in 2020 AOP Records

Track listing
1. Serpent As Time Reveals 6:38
2. Strive For Salvation 4:34
3. Repugnant Human Scum 5:18
4. The Path Of Solitude 8:07
5. Pillars Of Doom 5:51
6. The Wide Emptiness 6:13
7. Cosmic Terror 6:32

Band members
MT – vocals, guitars
AT – bass
MS – drums

Album Review – Crest of Darkness / The God of Flesh (2019)

Expanding the feel, variety and depth of their music, this talented Norwegian Black Metal triumvirate returns with the heaviest, darkest and most personal album of their undisputed career.

Conceived in the mid-nineties, more specifically in 1993 in the city of Gjøvik, Norway, by vocalist and bassist Ingar Amlien (when his former band Conception was still at its peak) as a product of his own passion for sheer sonic brutality and devotion to the satanic ideology according to Anton LaVeys’ Church Of Satan and the Satanic Bible, Atmospheric Black Metal horde Crest of Darkness is moving barriers once again with their brand new opus entitled The God of Flesh, expanding the feel, variety and depth of their music, showing to be as much at home with more progressive elements as they are with the aggressive and dark, brutal side for which they are known. In other words, get ready to be dragged into pitch black darkness together with Ingar and his henchmen Rebo on the guitar and Berhard on drums, not to mention guest keyboardist Kristian Wentzel, in what’s the heaviest, darkest and most personal album of their undisputed career.

Arising from the pits of the underworld, Crest of Darkness comes crushing our souls in the opening track The God Of Flesh, where Bernhard slams his drums manically while Ingar fires his Marduk-inspired demonic gnarls in a pulverizing display of old school Norwegian Black Metal. If that wasn’t infernal enough to you, it’s time for The Child With No Head with its psychological, grim lyrics (“Forever it will stay alive / This memory has filled your mind / Forever it will drag you down / Happiness you cannot find / Selfish greed / Religious views / The smell of death / The sound of thunder / No forgiveness / No escape / You know your world is going under”) and absolute madness and evil flowing form all instruments, with Rebo sounding absurdly satanic with his riffs, followed by Endless Night, where a more serene, melancholic atmosphere evolves into a mid-tempo ode to hell, with Ingar vociferating the song’s Stygian words while blasting his bass chords at the same time, supported by the rhythmic drumming by Bernhard.

Enhancing their aggressiveness and rage with hints of classic Death Metal added to their crude sonority, the band offers our avid ears the disturbing The Spawn Of Seth, a full-bodied creation by Crest of Darkness where Rebo is on fire with his razor-edged riffs and solos, also showcasing demonic lyrics as usual (“You are walking the earth as ghosts / You are flying on the wings of death / The human race is your host / As long as it can draw its breath”). And blending obscurity, despair and sadness, the ominous and ethereal bridge Forgotten sets the tone for Euthanasia, a neck-breaking, incendiary tune led by Rebo’s hellish riffage and Ingar’s Mephistophelian roars, perfect for headbanging like a bastard in the name of darkness while Bernhard’s pounding drums bring even more violence to the overall result.

Blood, one of their most ritualistic creations, unites the sulfurous blasphemy of traditional Black Metal with the harmony and intricacy of contemporary Melodic Black Metal, sounding at times as if Danzig went full extreme, and after such fantastic exhibit of extreme music, the trio from the netherworld captivates our senses once again with more of their Stygian sounds in Godless Evil Eyes, again presenting cutting riffs and classic beats, spearheaded by Ingar and his harsh, crude vocals. And last but not least, Salvation In Hell brings forward total devastation in the form of Black Metal to close the album on a high note, with all band members demolishing their instruments mercilessly, in special Bernhard with his complex and vibrant beats and fills.

Featuring a profane, cult-like artwork by Norwegian artist Marius Engli Andersson, and available for a full listen on Spotify, The God of Flesh is another solid and electrifying pillar in the satanic church of Black Metal built by Ingar and his horde, pointing to a bright (or maybe I should say completely dark) future for such amazing traditional act hailing from the beautiful Norway. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, to purchase The God of Flesh from their own BandCamp page (or click HERE for all options available in the market), and also to watch Ingar himself commenting about each and every track from the album on YouTube in three special videos (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). In a nutshell, darkness is upon us thanks to this bloodthirsty, talented Norwegian triumvirate, proving once and for all evil always results in first-class extreme music.

Best moments of the album: The Child With No Head, The Spawn Of Seth and Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Endless Night.

Released in 2019 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. The God Of Flesh 4:08
2. The Child With No Head 3:45
3. Endless Night 5:40
4. The Spawn Of Seth 5:06
5. Forgotten 2:24
6. Euthanasia 5:40
7. Blood 4:13
8. Godless Evil Eyes 3:47
9. Salvation In Hell 4:24

Band members
Ingar Amlien – vocals, bass
Rebo – lead and rhythm guitar
Bernhard – drums

Guest musician
Kristian Wentzel – keyboards

Album Review – Kaamos Warriors / Shadows Of Northern Chaos (2019)

All hail the Finnish warriors of the eternal night and their brand new album of Dark Metal, beautifully reflecting the coldness and melancholy of the North.

Formed as a duo by vocalist and guitarist Mikko Ojala (Crowned with Black, Dark the Suns, The Beauty of Darkened Hearts) and guitarist Jani Moilanen (R2JBros) in the beginning of 2018 in Kempele, a municipality just south of the city of Oulu in Northern Finland, the sinister Dark Metal unity known as Kaamos Warriors is unleashing upon humanity their second full-length opus entitled Shadows Of Northern Chaos, a follow-up to their debut album Ikuisen Talven Sarastus (or “the dawn of eternal winter” in English), released earlier this year. Now a three-piece band with the addition of bassist Jyri Moilanen to their lineup, Kaamos Warriors once again reflect the coldness and melancholy of the North in the eight dark and somber compositions found in  Shadows Of Northern Chaos, combining the bitterly cold elements from Atmospheric and Doom Metal to their core Black Metal essence. As a matter of fact, the word “kaamos” means “the polar night”, or the period of darkness north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle when the sun does not rise over the horizon, perfectly summarizing what the music by those Finnish metallers is all about.

Mikko and Jani generate a frosty and raw ambience with their riffs in the opening track Wolves in Storm, an ode to the North blending classic Black Metal with contemporary Blackened Death Metal and with Mikko’s vocals sounding deep and obscure just like the music demands. Then we have Chaos Walks the Earth, even darker and more demonic than its predecessor, with its guitars bringing the most visceral tones from classic Death Metal while Jyri’s bass lines sound absolutely ominous, therefore adding an extra dosage of malignancy to the music, all spiced up by spot-on blast beats and strident guitar solos. And get ready to crack your neck headbanging to the boisterous Chaos & Mayhem, where the brutal sounds of guitars and bass fill every single space in the air, resulting in a dense and violent atmosphere that leans towards Melodic Black Metal; whereas Ruined by Plague is a mid-tempo hellish hymn blasted by the trio with a huge focus on the very detailed work done on the guitars, which complemented by Jyri’s thunderous bass turns it into a storm of heavy music.

In the title-track Shadows of Northern Chaos this talented Finnish triumvirate goes full Black Metal, blasting our ears with an infernal sonority led by Mikko’s Stygian, guttural roars while its riffs add hints of melancholy and hopelessness to the overall result, and they keep slashing their strings in Where Shadows Grow, another classic Black and Death Metal composition showcasing spot-on beats, harsh gnarls and a perturbing, winter-like vibe, offering the listener a fusion of sheer aggressiveness and obscurity with a very pleasant melody. Ruins of Hope sounds as if Unleashed met Marduk and Behemoth for a jam session, with Mikko and Jani firing incendiary riffs from their axes while Jyri keeps delivering rumbling bass punches nonstop, and lastly the band fires Moon and Stars, one of the most melancholic and darkest of all tracks where you can feel the bitterly cold epicness of the North flowing from its riffs and beats, flirting with Doom Metal and remaining truly grim and dark until the very end.

If you enjoy this fusion of extreme music with the chilling, melancholic landscapes from the North crafted by Kaamos Warriors, you should definitely follow the band on Facebook, listen to more of their music on Spotify, and purchase their music from different locations such as Apple Music and Amazon. Shadows Of Northern Chaos might not be a masterpiece nor a revolution in Black and Death Metal, but it’s definitely a very good, cohesive and well-balanced album by those warriors of the never-ending northern night highly recommended for fans of the genre, and if in their first year of existence they were already capable of delivering two really entertaining full-length albums, I can’t wait to see what’s next in their promising (and wintry) career.

Best moments of the album: Chaos Walks the Earth, Chaos & Mayhem and Shadows of Northern Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Wolves in Storm 2:28
2. Chaos Walks the Earth 2:28
3. Chaos & Mayhem 2:06
4. Ruined by Plague 2:35
5. Shadows of Northern Chaos 3:06
6. Where Shadows Grow 3:28
7. Ruins of Hope 2:28
8. Moon and Stars 4:00

Band members
Mikko Ojala – vocals, guitars
Jani Moilanen – guitars (lead/acoustic)
Jyri Moilanen – bass

Album Review – Gorebringer / A Craving For Flesh (2019)

A gory fusion of Melodic Death Metal with more extreme styles blasted by a bloodthirsty trio from the UK, eviscerating your ears and minds ruthlessly.

Proudly carrying the flag of Melodic Death Metal everywhere they go, but always venturing through more aggressive and gory lands, London, England-based triumvirate Gorebringer has just unleashed upon us their debut full-length opus entitled A Craving For Flesh, highly recommended for admirers of the fusion of speed, violence and melody blasted by bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and At The Gates. Formed in 2017 by vocalist Blööd Wörm (also known as Gorebringer himself), guitarist and bassist Stench, and drummer Carrion, Gorebringer offer in A Craving For Flesh everything we love in traditional Swedish Melodic Death Metal, but of course with their own British (and utterly putrid) twist. Mixed and mastered by TsunTsun Productions, and featuring a demonic, parasite-inspired artwork by Kumislizer Design, A Craving For Flesh will eviscerate your ears and mind ruthlessly, showing Gorebringer are not among us to make new friends, but instead to pulverize us with their bloodthirsty onrush of sounds.

An ominous intro featuring the dark keys by guest B.ulugüney ignites the demolishing The Fog, where Carrion showcases all his technique and fury from the very first beat while Blööd Wörm’s hellish gnarls sound a lot more Black Metal than Melodic Death Metal, therefore bringing a humongous amount of obscurity to the music. Then deep guttural growls and nonstop blast beats permeate the air in Meatporn, showcasing classic Death Metal-like lyrics (“Rotten breath fills the air / As the eyes rolling back, / Sweat drops on smelly-sexy / Corpse of your beloved one.”), as well as some sick Carcass-inspired riffs and solos and demented bass punches powerfully delivered by Stench; and it’s time to slam into the circle pit to the high-octane and extremely vile Rivers Of Blood, with its strident, metallic guitars adding more balance to the overall devastation brought forth by the trio, resulting in a lesson in modern Melodic Death Metal with a truly devilish vibe.

In My Sweet Knife, a crisp and austere fusion of Melodic and Blackened Death Metal tailored for admirers of the darkest forms of metal music, we’re treated to over four minutes of nonstop action where the vocals by Blööd Wörm overflow adrenaline and rage, whereas in The Cabin a movie-inspired beginning evolves into a to a dark, raw and neck-breaking sonic extravaganza where Carrion is absolutely precise and violent on drums, with the overall musicality flirting with classic Black Metal at times. And back to a more Arch Enemy/Carcass-inspired mode, the trio fires sheer hatred and madness in Shattered Sanity, with Stench continuing to slash his strings mercilessly while the infernal roars by Blööd Wörm get even more piercing and menacing than before.

Bloodsoaked Chapel is a sonic havoc blending the most visceral elements from Melodic Death Metal and modern-day Hardcore where its bass couldn’t sound more metallic, also presenting demented, controversial lyrics (“Oh sodomized slaves of my mine / Stop whining, surrender and have fun / My rage will grow faster, darker / Digging your holes is my absolute pleasure / Your flesh is my most precious toy / Your skin decorates my den perfectly”). After such high level of aggressiveness, the trio slows things down a bit and offers us a darker, more introspective composition titled The Hollow, clearly inspired by the music by Arch Enemy. It’s not that this is a bad song, but in my humble opinion Gorebringer sound a lot more cohesive and vibrant when they play at the speed of light. Lastly, Carrion accelerates the band’s wicked pace in the closing tune, the instrumental beast named The Restless Forest, once again flirting with Melodic Black Metal, while Stench gives a lecture in electricity and groove with his guitar shredding and bass jabs.

I’m pretty sure the guys from Gorebringer are beyond satisfied with the outcome of their collective efforts in A Craving For Flesh (available for a full listen on YouTube), and they definitely should be, as their debut album is indeed an amazing work of contemporary Melodic Death Metal infused with the goriest elements from traditional Death Metal the likes of Cannibal Corpse. Hence, if you want to show your true support to this talented trio from the UK, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to purchase your copy of A Craving For Flesh from the Gate Of The Silver Key Records’ BandCamp page or from Discogs, helping Gorebringer spread their visceral, acid and absolutely sanguinary creations to the four corner of our rotten and evil world.

Best moments of the album: Meatporn, Rivers Of Blood and Bloodsoaked Chapel.

Worst moments of the album: The Hollow.

Released in 2019 Gate Of The Silver Key Records

Track listing
1. The Fog 5:54
2. Meatporn 3:17
3. Rivers Of Blood 3:46
4. My Sweet Knife 4:34
5. The Cabin 6:29
6. Shattered Sanity 4:42
7. Bloodsoaked Chapel 3:30
8. The Hollow 4:30
9. The Restless Forest 4:41

Band members
Blööd Wörm – vocals
Stench – guitars, bass
Carrion – drums

Guest musician
B.ulugüney – keyboards

Metal Chick of the Month – Māra Lisenko

Label me insane… My madness is not my enemy!

Get ready to be absolutely stunned by the sick growling, screaming and roaring blasted by our metal lady of the month of September, a true metalhead who loves all types of extreme music from the bottom of her Latvian heart, with her music being highly recommended for diehard fans of renowned acts like Aborted, Cryptopsy, Cattle Decapitation, Decapitated, Bloodbath and Hideous Divinity, among several others, who are always in pursuit of new names in the scene and who also love a feminine touch amidst such level of devastation. Hailing from Riga, Latvia’s capital, set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava, but currently residing in the metal heaven known as the Federal Republic of Germany, here comes the ferocious she-wolf Māra Lisenko, the indomitable growler for some of the best bands of the past few years coming from the Baltics, those being Ocularis Infernum and MĀRA.

Having studied vocals at Vocaltech – Thames Valley University (currently known as University of West London) in 2007 in the UK, as well as with some of the most prestigious vocal coaches worldwide such as rock and metal vocal coach Melissa Cross, rockstar vocal coach Mark Baxter, and “Death Metal Phoniatrician” Dr. Enrico H Di Lorenzo (Hideous Divinity), Māra is an extremely versatile vocalist, being able to sing from the most brutal and gory growls to fragile, emotional clean vocals. In addition, although she started to sing in bands and tour around Europe in 2003, her singing career started way earlier than that, when she was still a three-year old girl, mainly because her own mother was a choir leader and inspired her to follow a similar path. A self-starter and an autodidact, our dauntless growler is also a vocal coach, having taught several aggressive as well as melodic vocal techniques and training since 2011, and also offering studio session work for bands who need professional sounding vocals for their recordings (and you can get more details about her services by clicking HERE or HERE). In one of her interviews, she said all the energy in her singing and screaming is driven by her real-life experiences and emotions, never about fictional topics, which in her opinion makes it a lot easier for her to transform those feelings into ass-kicking vocals.

During hear early years as a professional vocalist, she was part of two distinct Latvian bands named Defame (which I couldn’t find any information online) and Karmafree, with whom she won a couple of awards, those being Best Vocalist in a band contest named “Rīgas Dzintars” with Karmafree in 2011, and a Grand Prix with Defame at Sinepes Un Medus in 2005. Karmafree, which is still active by the way, is an alternative bass and vocal duo comprised of Māra on vocals and her husband Dmitry Lisenko on bass formed in 2010 in London, England, playing many festivals and releasing a self-titled demo and video entitled Fresh Millionaire before the duo returned to their homeland Latvia. In 2012 they released their first EP, named Illusions, along with a music video for the song Fragile; after their debut album, Karmafree released a series of singles, with songs like InvisibleValidate Me and #SSDD beautifully representing the evolution of the project, their social and political fights, and of course Māra’s fantastic vocal range. You can listen to a lot more of the music by Karmafree on their official YouTube channel, as well as on their BandCamp page.

It was back in 2015 when Māra was able to present herself to a much broader audience after joining a Riga-based Melodic/Symphonic Death/Black Metal band named Ocularis Infernum, who have been on the road since 2002 but who had released only one demo and one EP before she became their frontwoman. Under the stage name of Māra Sekhmet, she released in 2017 together with the band’s founders Andris and Magnuss the excellent Expired Utopia (which you can purchase from their own BandCamp page or listen in full on Spotify), exploring themes like darkness, occultism and paganism, always embraced by a symphonic and Stygian aura inspired by renowned acts such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth. I personally loved listening to every single second of Expired Utopia, and if you’re also a fan of this fusion of extreme and symphonic music you can have a taste of the band’s darkness and of Māra’s refined gnarls and powerful clean vocals by listening to the songs A Confession Of Defeat and Lost Forest. There’s nothing on the band’s official Facebook page about an upcoming album, concerts nor anything like that since the end of 2018, but let’s hope they’re just taking a break and that the world can enjoy more of the music by Ocularis Infernum in a not-so-distant future.

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Right now, Māra’s main project is her own solo band named MĀRA, a Latvian/German four-piece outfit established in 2018 that plays a modern and sharp amalgamation of Death, Thrash, Alternative and Groove Metal. Currently based in two countries – Germany and Latvia – MĀRA have already played tours and summer festivals all across Europe since their inception, visiting countries like Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany, France and obviously Latvia, and opening for some of the biggest exponents of Extreme Metal such as Sepultura, Krisiun and Satyricon. So far Māra and her henchmen, including her aforementioned husband Dmitry on bass, released in 2018 their debut EP entitled Therapy For An Empath, which you can purchase from their BandCamp page or listen to in full on YouTube, and three music videos for the songs Sell Your Soul, Label Me Insane and Blameshifter, having already won Album Of The Year (with Therapy For An Empath, of course) and Best Vocalist at the  Latvian Metal Music Awards 2018. Moreover, you can enjoy MĀRA’s incendiary performance at the Latvian Metal Music Awards 2018,  which was held at an underground extreme music club in Riga named Melnā Piektdiena, playing the song Label Me Insane live during the event. As you might have already noticed, the name of the band was taken directly from her own name Māra, a very traditional Latvian girl name and, according to Māra herself, in Latvian folklore it’s also the name of a goddess, carrying a lot of strength rooted very deep in where the band comes from, also using Māra’s cross as their logo, a powerful Latvian magic sign.

Regarding her main idols in music, you just need to think of most classic Death, Thrash, Black and Groove Metal bands like Sepultura, Morbid Angel, Slayer, Carcass, Aborted, Cryptopsy and so on, with Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy) being perhaps her biggest idol as a vocalist. Māra even mentioned during an interview that one of her dreams as a musician would be to sing either Territory or Roots Bloody Roots together with Max as a very distinct and powerful duet, showing her total admiration and respect for a man that has undoubtedly revolutionized the way extreme vocalists sing all over the world. Not only that, you can also check all her passion for extreme music and vocalists on her official YouTube channel, where she uploads her own vocal covers for some of the heaviest and most awesome songs of all time, as for example Slipknot’s Psychosocial and The Heretic Anthem, Lamb Of God’s Laid To Rest and Sepultura’s Territory, with Slipknot having a huge influence on her vocal style and taste for music according to Māra herself, in special their 2001 masterpiece Iowa. As a matter of fact, she released her cover version for The Herectic Anthem on the same day Slipkont launched their brand new album We Are Not Your Kind this year, proving how much she loves and follows the band led by Corey Taylor. On a side note, our skillful vocalist also said that all metalheads from Latvia who dedicate a lot of their time to keep the local metal scene going, doing it just for their love for metal with basically no financial reward, also inspire her a lot in life, once again showing Māra has and will always have a beautiful connection with her homeland.

Māra also seems to be crazy four touring and performing live, as she mentioned in an interview that she could simply live out of touring. She enjoys visiting different countries, meeting and playing for different people, and learning about metal scenes everywhere she goes. She has already played in several European countries, and I’m pretty sure she can’t wait to expand her horizons to places like North and South America, Japan and Australia. As aforementioned, Māra and her husband Dmitry are currently residing in Germany (while the other band members, guitarist Denis Melnik and drummer Alberts Mednis, still live in Riga), and the reason why they decided to do that was purely due to music. She said that while metal in Latvia is considered underground and the opportunities for metal bands and artists there are very limited (albeit the internet can be very helpful in terms of worldwide exposure), even taking into account the metal scene in Latvia is healthy and friendly, Germany is the place to be for any type of metal band, complementing by saying that the fact her band is located in two different countries ended up helping them book gigs in more than one country. In addition to that, she said there are no metal radio stations in Latvia, and there are only 4 or 5 metal-oriented pubs in the entire country where local and touring bands can play. Well, let’s say that Māra is one of the most hardworking metal musicians (if not the most) hailing from Latvia that’s trying to change that, putting her beloved homeland on the global metal map even living in Germany.

Last but not least, when asked if she also sings and writes in her mother tongue Latvian and in any other language rather than English, she said although English is her preferred language because she wants her lyrics and messages to be understood by as many people as possible, she also sings and writes lyrics in Latvian and Russian depending on the project she’s working on, as sometimes she feels she wants to communicate only with Latvian and Russian speaking people. In case you want to enjoy about one hour of Māra talking about her career, her goals, her personal life and many other topics in English, I highly recommend you take a shot at an interview she gave to Dani Zed Extreme Music Reviews & Liveshows via Skype a couple of months ago. How lucky is Dani Zed for having the utmost pleasure of talking to such nice and talented metal woman for an extended period of time like that? We need to thank him for uploading the interview on YouTube, and obviously keep supporting Māra on her quest for extreme music in Lativa, in Germany, and anywhere else in the world where powerful and visceral female roars like hers are truly appreciated.

Māra Lisenko’s Official Facebook page
Māra Lisenko’s Official Instagram
Māra Lisenko’s Official YouTube channel
MĀRA’s Official Facebook page
MĀRA’s Official Instagram
MĀRA’s Official YouTube channel
MĀRA’s Official BandCamp page

“I love touring, I could live like that. I love visiting different countries, meeting and playing for different people, learning about metal scenes everywhere I go. It’s very exciting.” – Māra Lisenko