Metal Chick of the Month – Thalìa Bellazecca

I was raised by the storm and I’m living to serve my own pride!

Amidst one of the worst crisis the world has ever been through, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing nothing but fear, anger and darkness to our hearts, let’s pay a humble tribute to the beautiful Italy, where the virus has had so far the most devastating outcome, by providing you, our dear readers, with an overview of the life and career of the gorgeous, skillful and unstoppable Thalìa Bellazecca, the young and restless guitarist for Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown, bringing some joy to our hearts and souls during such difficult times. If you, like almost all of us here, are quarantined and getting bored due to the lack of things to do, perhaps this short and sweet homage to Thalìa and all her countrymen, and of course her razor-edged riffs and solos, can help you enjoy your time of confinement a lot better.

Born on April 19, 2000 in Cantù, a city and commune in the Province of Como, located at the center of the Brianza zone in Lombardy, Italy, Thalìa Bellazecca is of Italian and Cuban origin, which explains her undeniable talent, groove and passion for music, and that’s exactly what we are going to focus on in this humble tribute to such distinguished shredder, as Thalìa seems to be a very reserved woman who lives and breathes music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Furthermore, it’s impossible not to talk about Italian Power Metal band Frozen Crown, the band where we have all been able to witness Thalìa kicking some serious ass with her incendiary guitar since 2017.

Formed back in 2017 by guitarist and vocalist Federico Mondelli in the Italian metropolis of Milan, one of the global capitals of fashion and design, and fronted by the powerful singer Giada Etro (already known for her work in Ashes You Leave), Frozen Crown are a Power Metal band infused with classic Heavy Metal and Melodic Death Metal vibes, having released since their inception the singles The Shieldmaiden and Kings, in 2017, and Neverending, in 2019, and the full-length albums The Fallen King, in 2018, and Crowned in Frost, in 2019, where the band minimized their  Symphonic Metal side and amplified their core Heavy and Power Metal considerably. As a matter of fact, although you can enjoy Thalìa’s refined technique and stunning looks in pretty much all of Frozen Crown’s official videos, all guitars in both of their albums were recorded by Federico (except for the guitar solo in Kings, which was recorded by our metal lady Thalìa), who was also responsible for all keyboards and artworks as well. You can enjoy all of their albums and songs directly from their BandCamp page (where you can obviously buy their music, as well as from their Big Cartel page) and also stream everything on Spotify.

However, as aforementioned, who said we cannot have a blast with Thalìa in all official videos released by Frozen Crown through the years? You can definitely enjoy Thalìa shredding her strings in great fashion while she bangs her head like a maniac in amazing Power Metal anthems such as  Neverending, Kings, Everwinter, I Am The Tyrant, Forever and The Shieldmaiden, and if live performances are your cup of tea how about taking a shot at some of the band’s live footage playing their ass-kicking metal music to the masses like in the songs Kings, Fail No More, The Shieldmaiden and I Am The Tyrant live at C.G. Busto Arsizio in 2018 in Varese, Italy; Kings live in Toulouse in 2020; Arctic Gales/Neverending and Winterfall live at Dagda Retorbido in 2019 in Pavia, Italy; To Infinity live at Arci Tom in 2018 in Mantua, Italy; or simply enjoy this live footage of Frozen Crown taking the German cities of Munich, Augsburg and Aschaffenburg by storm in 2019.

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Apart from her career with Frozen Crown, we can also witness Thalìa embellishing the airwaves with her riffs and solos in a few other very interesting projects and bands; for instance, during part of 2018, Thalìa was one of the live guitarists for Russian Thrash Metal female-fronted band Pokerface, whose music can be described as a fusion of the music by Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom and Kreator. Also, Thalìa is one of the guitarists for a sensational Megadeth tribute band called Nuclear Winter, formed in 2015 by vocalist and guitarist Paolo Ingianni and active in the best Lombard and Piedmontese rock clubs since 2016. You can check their official Instagram and YouTube channel for more information on the band, such as this incendiary cover version for Tornado of Souls live in 2019 at Rock’N’Roll Milano.

In addition to all that, our dauntless left-handed shredder plays the guitar for the Italian Women Tribute, a music project that was born in 2016 from an idea by Andy Rox and is the first and only rock tribute to Italian female voices existing in Italy (and you can also find more information about it on their Instagram besides their official website), and was recruited to record a solo on one of the songs for a Syrian project called Storm of Death, of Adnan Al Hamdan, his third album featuring a selection of over 120 guest musicians from over 44 countries, which you can take a better look on the project’s official Facebook page. The song where we’ll have the pleasure of listening to Thalìa slashing her strings is not available yet, but I’m sure soon enough we’ll hear more from Adnan or from Thalìa herself with a link to listen to it.

Highly influenced by a vast array of guitar heroes such as Kiko Loureiro, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker and Yngwie Malmsteen, among countless others, our stunning guitarist manages her own YouTube channel, uploading several videos on a regular basis showcasing all her skills and passion for heavy music and rock in general. You can enjoy Thalìa and her inseparable ax playing cover versions for Kiko Loureiro’s Moment Of Truth, Frozen Crown’s Queen Of Blades, Joe Satriani’s Headrush and Satch Boogie, and Megadeth’s Conquer or Die, or simply watch her doing some guitar improvisation showing how talented she is. And last but not least, I believe I don’t need to say Thalìa also ventures through the realms of modeling, right? Just by looking at her gorgeous photos you probably guessed that yourself, and if you’re curious to know more about that distinguished side of our guitar hero you can check her work (and of other models) on the official Instagram of PERSONA, from Milan. Having said all that, I think we must all admit that Thalìa has it all, a ravishing look and style, an undeniable talent armed with her guitar, endless stamina and a deep and healthy addiction to Heavy Metal. If that’s not the perfect combination for a true headbanging woman, I honestly don’t know what could be.

Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Facebook page
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Instagram
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official Twitter
Thalìa Bellazecca’s Official YouTube channel
Frozen Crown’s Official Facebook page
Frozen Crown’s Official Instagram
Frozen Crown’s Official Twitter
Frozen Crown’s Official BandCamp page

Album Review – Coldflesh / Phantasmagoric Realms EP (2020)

Enter the phantasmagoric realms of Death Metal ruled by four skillful and ruthless musicians from the underground Norwegian scene.

Forged in 2014 in the fires of Oslo, the capital of the always alluring country of Norway, when guitarist Audun Melbye brought in some songs from his former band Pieces, the up-and-coming Death Metal squad known as Coldflesh started recording their first studio album back in 2016 (when they settled on the band name, by the way), but after several vocalists and inadequate conditions to record it (resulting in tracks that were not showing the band’s full potential), the album was reduced to a four-track EP entitled Phantasmagoric Realms and postponed to a March 2020 release. However, the band now comprised of vocalist and guitarist Robin Berg Pettersen, guitarist Audun Melbye, bassist Magnus Slettebø and drummer Laszlo Juhos nailed it in their debut endeavor, delivering a high-end fusion of old school Death Metal with more contemporary Extreme Metal sounds and, therefore, pointing to a bright future for this Norwegian horde.

The opening track Deficiency already begins in full force, with Robin and Audun’s heavy riffage together with Laszlo’s pounding beats generating a reverberating atmosphere, blending classic Death Metal with the Melodic Death Metal from the Gothenburg scene, not to mention Robin’s demonic, deep growling. Then we have the title-track Phantasmagoric Realms, a solid tune full of classic beats, soulful guitar solos and endless rage that keeps inviting us all to slam into the mosh pit, with Robin and Audun, supported by the massive bass punches by Magnus, slashing our ears mercilessly; followed by Aeons Absorbed, another crushing Death Metal extravaganza led by Laszlo’s rhythmic drums and Robin’s wicked roars, sounding perfect for banging your head nonstop and reminding me of some of the creations by the mighty Unleashed (but with a darker twist). And the final act by Coldflesh comes in the form of Eradicate The Futile, a mid-tempo, hammering tune where the bass by Magnus sounds infernally heavy, with Laszlo bringing forth a warlike ambience perfect for the band’s guitar duo to kick ass with their shredding, effectively ending such short but very entertaining album of extreme music.

In summary, although Coldflesh were forced to shorten their debut installment due to unforeseen reasons, those Norwegian metallers managed to do a really good job in Phantasmagoric Realms, showcasing all their talent, dedication and passion for Death Metal in the 18 minutes of music found in the EP. Hence, go check what this new name from the underground Norwegian scene is up to on Facebook, and of course go show your true support to independent metal by purchasing your copy of Phantasmagoric Realms from the band’s own BandCamp page. As aforementioned, Coldflesh have a promising future ahead of them based on this short and sweet sample of how crushing their Death Metal can be, and it’s only a matter of time until we hear form those guys again, hopefully with an absolutely demolishing full-length spawn.

Best moments of the album: Phantasmagoric Realms.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Deficiency 5:18
2. Phantasmagoric Realms 4:36
3. Aeons Absorbed 4:28
4. Eradicate The Futile 3:50

Band members
Robin Berg Pettersen – vocals, guitar
Audun Melbye – guitar
Magnus Slettebø – bass
Laszlo Juhos – drums

Album Review – Lutharö / Wings of Agony EP (2020)

Bringing a fresh take on Heavy Metal to listeners around the world, this up-and-coming Canadian band returns with a darker yet still very melodic sound in their brand new (and excellent) EP.

Founded in 2014 under the name Incarnadine in Hamilton, a Canadian port city on the western tip of Lake Ontario, the Melodic Heavy/Death Metal powerhouse now known as Lutharö aims at bringing a fresh take on Heavy Metal to listeners around the world with their unique and diverse sound loaded with catchy riffs, blazing solos and vocals ranging from vicious growls to clean passages that will send a chill down your spine, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the music by iconic bands like Arch Enemy, Unleash the Archers, Amon Amarth and Behemoth. Over the years, Lutharö have grown into their distinctive sound, emerging with a heavy and dark formula that gets fans moving, culminating in 2018 with the release of their debut EP Unleash The Beast and now in 2020 with the release of their sophomore opus Wings of Agony.

Stepping out of their comfort zone for their new album, the Canadian quintet comprised of Krista Shipperbottom on vocals, Victor Bucur and John Raposo on the guitars, Chris Pacey on bass and Duval Gabraiel on drums (although the drums in the EP were recorded by session musician Cale Costello) promises to be more innovative and imaginative than in Unleash The Beast, being the perfect introduction to the new era of Lutharö that, albeit darker than before, still sounds and feels very melodic and embodies the same amount of energy their fans have learned to enjoy. Featuring a stylish cover art designed by Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu (twilight13media.com), Wings of Agony will bring to your metallic ears 25 minutes of classic yet at the same time modern metal music, positioning Krista and the boys as one of the most promising and interesting names of the current Canadian underground scene.

Ominous, ethereal sounds kick off the opening track Barren, before the band’s guitar duo Victor and John start slashing their strings beautifully and Krista begins blasting her high-pitched, enraged screams, bringing forward elements from a myriad of styles such as Thrash, Death and even Black Metal. Needless to say, the EP couldn’t have started in a better way, and things get even better in Diamond Back, leaning towards the Melodic Death Metal played by some of their biggest influences such as Arch Enemy and The Agonist. The intricate and flammable beats by Cale are effectively complemented by the crisp riffs fired by both guitars, all embraced by another brutal performance by Krista with both her strident clean vocals and she-wolf roars. And a touch of epicness spices up the intro to the also high-octane Blood Lightning, where the quintet puts the pedal to the metal in a hybrid between classic Thrash Metal and modern-day Melodic Heavy Metal, also featuring awesome guitar solos delivered by Victor as the icing on the cake.

Will to Survive is a brilliant headbanging tune by Lutharö where the guitars sound furious just the way we like it in extreme music, while Chris’ rumbling bass and Cale’s frantic beats keep the atmosphere dense and thunderous from start to finish. In addition, Krista is once again superb on vocals, and in my humble opinion this is a beautiful and exciting path I would love to see Lutharö follow in their future releases. Last but not least, closing the EP we have the title-track Wings of Agony, more melodic and modernized than its predecessors, offering the listener another feast of razor-edged riffs, blast beats and menacing bass punches, not to mention the song’s catchy chorus powerfully declaimed by Krista (“Go on and wake from this sleep / Let distant light unbind your wings / Go on and soar / Forever more / Into a journey of pain”), with the music flowing into a dark and serene ending.

When I saw Lutharö live for the very first (and so far the only) time in 2018 opening for the almighty Canadian metal heroes Striker and Unleash The Archers here in Toronto, I instantly knew I was witnessing the rise of a future beast of Canadian metal, with Wings of Agony, which is available from the band’s own BandCamp page (and soon from other locations and platforms), cementing their name in the local scene. Hence, if you want to know more about Lutharö and listen to more of their music, simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and stream their previous and new releases on Spotify  as much as you want. Krista and her henchmen are undeniably talented, crazy for metal music and extremely focused on what they do, spreading their wings all over Canada and soon the world with their breathtaking music for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Diamond Back and Will to Survive.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Barren 5:21
2. Diamond Back 4:31
3. Blood Lightning 4:41
4. Will to Survive 5:09
5. Wings of Agony 6:02

Band members
Krista Shipperbottom – vocals
Victor Bucur – guitars, backing vocals
John Raposo – guitars
Chris Pacey – bass
Duval Gabraiel – drums*

Guest musician
Cale Costello – drums (session)

*Drums recorded by Cale Costello.

Album Review – Hyperia / Insanitorium (2020)

Are you crazy enough to enter the “insanitorium” together with one of the most promising names of the current Canadian Thrash Metal scene?

Are you crazy enough to enter the Insanitorium, the debut full-length opus by Canadian Melodic Thrash Metal unity Hyperia? If your answer is yes, you better get ready for over 40 minutes of wailing and harsh vocals, melodic guitars, intricate bass lines and hard hitting drums, ranging from traditional Thrash Metal to Power Metal and even Death Metal, highly inspired by a myriad of bands such as Havok, Overkill, Running Wild, Hypocrisy and Gojira,  among others, with the album’s lyrical themes being based around the concept of being stuck in an insane asylum for committing evil crimes and having no way out. Put differently, after listening to Insanitorium, you’ll quickly understand why the band comprised of Marlee Ryley on vocals, Colin Ryley and David Kupisz on the guitars, Scott DeGruyter on bass and Jordan Maguire on drums was one of the nominees for “Metal Recording of the Year” at the 2019 YYC Music Awards and “Music Video of the Year” at the 2019 Stinger Awards, hosted by the CSIF – The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers.

Recorded and mixed by Colin Ryley himself at Singularity Sound Studios in Calgary, Canada, mastered by Mika Jussila (Finntroll, Children of Bodom, Ensiferum) at Finnvox Studios in Helsinki, Finland, and featuring a beyond classic cover art by Belarusian illustrator Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust), Insanitorium perfectly represents what Hyperia are all about, proving that despite the fact the band was only formed less than two years ago, more specifically in September 2018, they can already be considered one of the most interesting and hardworking names of the Canadian underground scene, thrashing venues and taking the metal community by storm since their inception. Put differently, who doesn’t enjoy some old school shredding accompanied by soaring female vocals, right?

In the opening track Mad Trance, a movie-inspired intro morphs into ass-kicking Thrash Metal with a Melodic Death Metal twist, with both Colin and David showing what they got with their incendiary riffs before Marlee comes crushing with both her clean vocals and she-wolf gnarls, and a demented scream by Marlee sets fire to the also berserk Starved By Guilt, where the whole band puts the pedal to the metal spearheaded by Jordan’s frantic and vile beats. In other words, it’s simply perfect for slamming into the circle pit like a true metalmaniac, whereas in Asylum it’s time to break our necks headbanging, blending the ferocity of Exodus with the melody of Arch Enemy and showcasing an amazing sync between Colin and David, providing all Marlee needs to vociferate the song’s psychological words (“My dead lover under a cover / Screaming, trapped in monomania / They cringed as I unhinged / I’m drowning, set me free / Straight jacket because of a hatchet / Bewitched, lost in compulsion / I’m banished, mind vanished / Fixated, please help me!”).

Then eerie noises are quickly joined by the band’s strident guitars in Unleash The Pigs, evolving into another sonic onslaught where Jordan brutally smashes his drums supported by the rumbling bass by Scott, while Marlee once again delivers a superb performance on vocals; and fasten your seat belts as Hyperia flirt with old school Death Metal in the high-octane tune Nullified,  a very detailed and dense creation that lives up to the legacy of extreme music, sounding as frantic, aggressive and demented as it can be, and with Colin being unstoppable with his riffs and solos. And bringing elements from the music by Metallica, Megadeth and other fast and furious thrashing masters we have Fish Creek Frenzy, where Marlee’s wicked vocals are beautifully complemented by Colin’s and David’s flammable riffs, not to mention all the energy flowing from the song’s spot-on backing vocals.

Dystopia is another awesome composition bursting with rage, madness and heaviness, all embraced by the insurgent lyrics blasted by Marlee in a mix of Black and Thrash Metal styles (“War, bloodshed, slavery, hypocrisy / Everywhere, everyday it’s all you see / Take a look at yourself and your plight / It won’t end unless we STAND UP AND FIGHT”). Well, do you think they still have energy for more violence and bloodshed after so many thrashing hymns in a roll? Their answer comes in the form of the metallic hurricane entitled The Scratches on the Wall, with the sick growling by Marlee being flawlessly boosted by the bestial shredding by the band’s guitarists, as well as Jordan’s nonstop beats and fills, while pure, unrelenting riffage is the main ingredient in Contagion, sounding at the same time very old school, inspired by 80’s Heavy Metal, but also bringing a fresh, modern vibe thanks to the polished production of the album. Lastly, how about more undisputed, deranged Thrash Metal to close the album? That’s what Hyperia have to offer us all as infernal riffs and fast and rhythmic drums permeate the air in Evil Insanity, and when it’s over you’ll feel absolutely disoriented just the way we love it in extreme music.

The nonstop metal thrashing madness blasted by Hyperia in Insanitorium can be fully appreciated on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would definitely show my true support to such promising name of the current Canadian metal scene by purchasing their sensational debut album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Dead Pulse webstore or from Apple Music. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and all other things Hyperia, because you know, you have to be absolutely insane not to support those Canadian metallers, and even more “insane” to slam into the circle pit to their melodic, furious and utterly entertaining creations.

Best moments of the album: Starved By Guilt, Fish Creek Frenzy, Dystopia and The Scratches on the Wall.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Mad Trance 4:36
2. Starved By Guilt 3:55
3. Asylum 4:08
4. Unleash The Pigs 4:56
5. Nullified 4:18
6. Fish Creek Frenzy 3:41
7. Dystopia 4:14
8. The Scratches on the Wall 3:57
9. Contagion 4:09
10. Evil Insanity 4:01

Band members
Marlee Ryley – vocals
Colin Ryley – lead guitar, backing vocals
David Kupisz – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Scott DeGruyter – bass, backing vocals
Jordan Maguire – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The year of 2019 might be reaching its inevitable end in the blink of an eye for most of us, but if there’s one thing we must admit is that it has been indeed a year of countless events, episodes and changes with a huge impact on how pretty much everything works in our Heavy Metal universe. For instance, 2019 was the year where we unfortunately witnessed the ultimate campaign by Thrash Metal titans Slayer, who at the same time left an undisputed and brilliant legacy to Heavy Metal and a giant hole in our hearts and in the global Thrash Metal scene. Do you think there’s any band that can fill that gap created by the end of Slayer? In my humble opinion, although I love bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, I doubt anyone can claim Slayer’s throne as the meanest, most demonic and most pulverizing band of all time, but that doesn’t mean Thrash Metal is dead and gone. Quite the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking, with many of the underground bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose contributing to keep the flame of such distinct subgenre of heavy music burning bright.

In addition, 2019 was also the year we lost many of our rock and metal icons, including André Matos (vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper), Larry Wallis (former guitarist of Motörhead), and Timi Hansen (former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond), as well as several talented musicians from non-metal styles like Marie Fredriksson (lead singer and keyboardist of Roxette), Keith Flint (frontman of The Prodigy), and the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Mr. Dick Dale. However, even with all those significant losses, we can say 2019 was a productive year for rock and metal music, with many iconic and underground bands delivering some fantastic albums for our total delectation, and that’s why here we are again with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, to prove once and for all that heavy music will never, ever die. Having said that, enjoy our list of top metal albums for this year that’s coming to an end, and keep raising your horns high together with us in 2020!

1. Rammstein – Rammstein (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.
Best song of the album: Deutschland

2. Necronomicon – UNUS (REVIEW)
Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their career.
Best song of the album: Infinituum Continuum

3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics (REVIEW)
It’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Fire God and Fear

4. Soilwork – Verkligheten (REVIEW)
Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters return in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.
Best song of the album: Stålfågel

5. The Agonist – Orphans (REVIEW)
Canadian juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.
Best song of the album: Blood as My Guide

6. Helevorn – Aamamata (REVIEW)
Embrace darkness and melancholy with the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the current Spanish scene.
Best song of the album: Aurora

7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (REVIEW)
The world’s most famous masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.
Best song of the album: Unsainted

8. Amon Amarth – Berserker (REVIEW)
Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with Amon Amarth.
Best song of the album: Shield Wall

9. Target – Deep Water Flames (REVIEW)
Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by this amazing band from Chile.
Best song of the album: Oceangrave

10. Singularity – Place of Chains (REVIEW)
The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Ritual of Regret

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

11. Grand Magus – Wolf God (REVIEW)
12. Hiss From The Moat – The Harrier (REVIEW)
13. Lucifera – La Caceria De Brujas (REVIEW)
14. Alunah – Violet Hour (REVIEW)
15. Dö – Astral Death Cult (REVIEW)
16. Rifftera – Across the Acheron (REVIEW)
17. Rage Of Light – Imploder (REVIEW)
18. Rexoria – Ice Breaker (REVIEW)
19. HerezA – Death Metal Drunks (REVIEW)
20. Aephanemer – Prokopton (REVIEW)

Also, let’s not forget about some of the best albums which, although might be short in duration, they did bring to our ears an endless amount of heaviness, speed and harmony this year, accrediting them to be part of our Top 10 EP’s of 2019. As you can see, those EP’s were recorded by the most diverse types of bands and artists from all over the world, becoming some sort of “tasting sample” of what we can expect from those metallers in a not-so-distant future.

1. Eleine – All Shall Burn (REVIEW)
2. Quilombo – Itankale (REVIEW)
3. Master’s Call – Morbid Black Trinity (REVIEW)
4. Violent Life Violent Death – Sadness Rains (REVIEW)
5. Angra Demana – Triptych Of Decay (REVIEW)
6. Vorga – Radiant Gloom (REVIEW)
7. Shuulak – Citrinitas (REVIEW)
8. Moanaa – Torches (REVIEW)
9. Exuviated – Déliquescence (REVIEW)
10. Sophist – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2019? And, as usual, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2020!

And before The Headbanging Moose takes a well-deserved break to recover our energies and return in full force in 2020, how about we enjoy what’s probably one of the best and most detailed “Christmas” songs of all time, the fantastic Valhalleluja, recently released by Italian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Nanowar of Steel? This is the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas night with your loved ones, especially if you give someone anything from IKEA as a Christmas gift. Well, simply watch the official video below and follow the lyrics to understand what I’m talking about. Having said that, let’s all pray to Odin, drink beer and sing Valhalleluja together with Nanowar of Steel, my friends!

Album Review – Hyperomm / Transcendence (2019)

Dealing with otherworldly, cultural ideas, thoughts and systematic overviews of postmortem life, the sophomore album by this one-man Russian army will teach you a lesson in Melodic Death Metal.

Founded in 2016 in Moscow, Russia by multi-instrumentalist, sound producer and designer Anton Trubin, Melodic Death Metal one-man project Hyperomm has just unleashed upon humanity his sophomore full-length album entitled Transcendence, a follow-up to his 2017 full-length opus From Nothing to Eternity and his 2016 debut EP …Death, once again highly influenced by iconic names of the scene such as Children Of Bodom, Kalmah, Omnium Gatherum and In Flames, but bringing to our avid ears Anton’s own fresh and more technical twist. Featuring a dark cover art created by Anton himself, and with lyrics written by Demether Grail (from bands like Arcanorum Astrum, Grailight, Skylord and Zmey Gorynich), Transcendence is about otherworldly, cultural ideas, thoughts and systematic overviews of postmortem life, thematically devoted to various forms of life after death and dealing with the eternal existence of the soul.

“Transcendence was recorded in my home studio. The process itself was different from traditional bands because I use MIDI drums. The sound of drums is the foundation of a good metal mix, so sampling drums is one of the most important parts of my work on the overall sound. I start by recording one track and mixing it at once. First I get a sound that suits me, after that, when I compose and record songs, I hear almost the final result at the same time. It helps me with the arrangements,” commented Trubin on his creative process, also adding a few comments about the overall sound of the album.  “I tried to achieve a more aggressive sound than on the first album. The sound of drums is leaning more towards a modern metal sound, but there is still a lot of classic melodic death metal in the guitars and melodies. Many use the drop tuning, but I’m playing in standard tuning. I’m trying to do the hard sound without using any low tuned guitars, but by composing good riffs.”

Portal is in fact an intro that’s not just an intro, but a short and sweet display of modern and melodic metal music by Anton presenting his piercing shredding and roars, setting the stage for Weighing of the Heart, where Anton definitely feels like a full-bodied band right from the start, with his scorching riffs and damned beats living up to the legacy of bands like In Flames and Soilwork, not to mention the whimsical keys in the background bringing more balance to the music. And an epic and symphonic intro explodes into sheer speed, rage and progressiveness in Metempsychosis, an amazing display of Anton’s dexterity as a multi-instrumentalist showcasing poetic lyrics darkly vociferated by our one-man army (“On dying the soul flies off / Into the original world / Into the aerial trough / And then reborn on the mold”).

Sounding closer to what In Flames are doing nowadays, but of course with Anton’s own personal touch, Patala is another feast of classic riffs and pounding beats perfect for breaking your neck headbanging, followed by the excellent Eternal Feast, where it’s interesting to witness how the keys make the whole song sound and feel very futuristic and experimental, while the other instruments bring forward traditional metal elements, resulting in what’s perhaps Anton’s closest creation to classic Progressive Metal. In Charnel Wraith, a shredding extravaganza supported by old school drums and ethereal keys, we face more of Anton’s wicked lyrics (“Without goodness your black life was dwelled / You die in torment, eaten by demons / And thrown into the grave without farewell / Tormented self-gnawing genie”), whereas Illusory State is very vibrant and groovy from start to finish thanks to the amazing job done by Anton on bass and drums, exhaling melody and intricacy and exploding into a sonic havoc at times, all spiced up by a beautiful keys solo by guest Sergey Shulzhenko (from Sunless Rise).

In Vortex of Hell, Anton shreds his stringed axe in great fashion while at the same time hammering his drums mercilessly in a fusion of old school and modern-day Melodic Death Metal that will certainly please all fans of the genre; then after the wicked instrumental bridge Transcendence, Anton returns for one final blast of his hybrid of modernity and rage in The Story, once again presenting a solid balance between heavy riffs and stylish keys, with the music flowing as smoothly and detailed as possible until the very end. In addition, some versions of the album will contain two sick bonus tracks, the first being Living in a Cage, offering the listener over five minutes of Hyperomm’s trademark sound, while in 3000 we’re treated to a pop song by Ukrainian singer and DJ Ivan Dorn, from the 2014 album Randorn (check out the original one HERE), turned into ass-kicking metal music.

It’s truly impressive how only one musician was capable of crafting a multi-layered and thrilling album like Transcendence, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and on sale from the project’s own BandCamp page or from several other locations by clicking HERE, all by himself, and such humongous amount of hard work, focus, talent and tenacity must be praised by all of us metalheads by following Anton and his Hyperomm on Facebook and on VKontakte. Having already released two outstanding albums and one EP, there’s nothing but a brilliant path ahead of Anton armed with his multiple instruments, positioning him not only as an example of what DIY is really all about, but also as a role model for any musician from the underground metal scene, with Transcendence being the perfect depiction of how powerful the music by lone rangers like Anton can sound.

Best moments of the album: Metempsychosis, Eternal Feast and Vortex of Hell.

Worst moments of the album: The Story.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Portal 1:53
2. Weighing of the Heart 4:30
3. Metempsychosis 3:20
4. Patala 3:53
5. Eternal Feast 4:04
6. Charnel Wraith 3:49
7. Illusory State 5:01
8. Vortex of Hell 5:19
9. Transcendence 1:30
10. The Story 4:15

Bonus tracks
11. Living in a Cage 5:11
12. 3000 (Ivan Dorn cover) 2:56

Band members
Anton Trubin – vocals, guitars, sampling, drums

Guest musician
Sergey Shulzhenko – keys solo on “Illusory State”

Album Review – The Agonist / Orphans (2019)

Montreal, Quebec-based juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.

I guess one of the most important details in Orphans, the sixth full-length album in the career of Montreal, Quebec-based Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore juggernauts The Agonist, is the fact that the band took their time to write and record it without rushing things up, and the final result is truly breathtaking. Featuring a minimalist but captivating artwork by Canadian artist Mikio Murakami (Silent Q Design), Orphans is a huge step forward in the band’s musical path compared to their previous album Five, released in 2016, a bland and uninspired album that seemed to have been released way too fast as if their record label was trying to capitalize on the huge success of their 2015 opus Eye of Providence. Fortunately for all of us, the band comprised of the stunning Vicky Psarakis on vocals, Danny Marino and Pascal “Paco” Jobin on the guitars, Chris Kells on bass and Simon McKay on drums learned their lesson, putting a lot of effort, focus and time on the creation of the amazing Orphans and, consequently, getting back on track for our total delectation.

Vicky’s mesmerizing vocalizations ignite the furious and wicked opening track In Vertigo, my favorite song in Orphans showcasing lyrics clearly inspired by Alice in Wonderland (“A little too big and a little too small / The thing is that life isn’t one size fits all / So take a sip and a couple of bites / And lay back to feast with your own eyes / Down down down the rabbit hole!”). Danny and Pascal are on fire with their riffs and solos, not to mention the brutal, guttural growls blasted by Vicky during the last part of the song, resulting in a full-bodied anthem that represents what The Agonist are all about to perfection. They continue their journey to the past without sounding outdated in As One We Survive, a modern and fresh version of their classic sonority where Melodic Death Metal meets Progressive Metal, with Simon crushing our heads mercilessly with his intricate beats; and get ready to slam into the pit with Vicky and the boys in The Gift of Silence, another frantic creation by the band overflowing rage and madness where Chris and Simon generate a rumbling ambience with their bass lines and beats, also presenting very melodic pieces led by Vicky and her piercing clean vocals.

Then it’s time for the band to head into the battlefield in Blood as My Guide, a fantastic composition showcasing thrilling vocal lines, powerful drums and an absolutely inspiring vibe, resulting in what’s by far one of the best creations of the Vicky era. Moreover, it’s impressive how Danny and Pascal can sound so violent and at the same time so harmonious on the guitars, with Vicky’s gorgeous Greek words bringing an extra touch of epicness to the overall result. After such imposing tune, let’s meet Mr. Cold together with The Agonist in another solid tune where all band members deliver some of the most progressive lines of the whole album, in special the stringed trio Danny, Pascal and Chris, whereas in Dust to Dust they venture through the lands of classic Rock N’ Roll and even Soul, but always loyal to their Metalcore essence, of course. Needless to say, Vicky is flawless with both her clean and harsh vocals, enhancing even more the song’s headbanging rhythm led by Simon’s beats. And back to a more aggressive and infuriated sonority we have A Devil Made Me Do It with its straightforward, in-your-face lyrics roared by our she-wolf Vicky (“Catch me if you can / I am faster than your mind can fathom / Armed with the element of surprise / I slither through the corners of your eyes”), while the band’s guitar duo keeps blasting flammable riffs and solos from start to finish.

The Agonist Orphans Limited Deluxe Box Set

Those talented metallers continue to hammer our heads in The Killing I, bringing to our ears groovy bass punches delivered by Chris while Simon goes berserk on drums, or in other words, this song should work beautifully if played live, and I have no words to describe Vicky’s demented performance on vocals where she proves once again she can easily and seeminglessly fluctuate between gorgeous clean vocals and deep, enraged roars. The title-track Orphans is perhaps the darkest of all songs, a voyage through the realms of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore infused with Progressive Metal, with Vicky effectively telling the story behind the music with tons of emotion while the rest of the band offers an avalanche of groovy and thunderous sounds nonstop. Then closing the album The Agonist smashes our senses one final time in Burn It All Down, where Vicky sounds as insane and violent as she can be while Simon and Chris build a solid stage perfect for Danny and Pascal to slash their stringed axes, leaving us all disoriented and eager for more of this version of the band in a not-so-distant future.

As mentioned in the beginning of this review, I’m glad The Agonist took their time to compose Orphans, which is by the way available in full on Spotify, delivering a beyond dense and potent album of metal music that will certainly please all diehard fans of the band as well as newcomers to their metallic world. You can grab your desired copy of Orphans from several different locations by clicking HERE, like for instance the limited deluxe box set containing a jewel case CD, a flag, a logo pendant, a patch and an autographed card. The investment in this box set is definitely worth it, mainly because Orphans kicks some serious ass, of course, and also due to the fact it’s been three long (but productive) years since their last installment. Orphans is undoubtedly a serious contender to feature among the best metal albums of 2019, proving once and for all great bands like The Agonist don’t need to release album after album just because their labels think it’s a good idea. We, metalheads from all over the world, are more than happy to wait for a while for new material as long as it’s as extreme, melodic and exciting as Orphans.

Best moments of the album: In Vertigo, The Gift of Silence, Blood as My Guide and The Killing I.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. In Vertigo 5:04
2. As One We Survive 3:40
3. The Gift of Silence 4:38
4. Blood as My Guide 4:27
5. Mr. Cold 4:40
6. Dust to Dust 3:17
7. A Devil Made Me Do It 3:38
8. The Killing I 4:17
9. Orphans 5:39
10. Burn It All Down 3:36

Band members
Vicky Psarakis – vocals
Danny Marino – guitar
Pascal “Paco” Jobin – guitar
Chris Kells – bass
Simon McKay – drums

Guest musician
Lefteris Germenlis – electronic and string arrangements

Concert Review – Amon Amarth (Rebel, Toronto, ON, 10/09/2019)

A night of epic battles, endless circle pits and heavy-as-hell anthems offered by a horde of Swedish bands to all of us “Vikings” in Toronto, spearheaded by one of the biggest names of the current metal scene.

OPENING ACTS: Grand Magus, At The Gates and Arch Enemy

What a fun night, my fellow Vikings! The Swedish invasion that took the city of Toronto by storm last night at Rebel was beyond entertaining, and I can’t find the right words to describe the heaviness and power from all four bands of the night, Grand Magus, At The Gates, Arch Enemy and the almighty Amon Amarth (all hailing from Sweden, of course). There was a lot of beer drinking, endless mosh pits, lots of screaming, horns in the air, the encounter (although playing at different times with their respective bands) of the talented “Erlandsson Brothers” Adrian and Daniel, and a humongous dosage of our good old Heavy Metal.

The first band of the night was Stockholm-based Heavy/Doom Metal power trio GRAND MAGUS, which I confess I didn’t know much before last night. And let me tell you they kick some serious ass with their fusion of classic doom with Nordic themes, setting the stage on fire with their crisp and thunderous performance. Currently promoting their new album Wolf God, the band comprised of vocalist and guitarist JB Christoffersson, bassist Fox Skinner and drummer Ludwig Witt thanked all fans that were able to arrive early at Rebel to witness their fantastic concert, with their closing song, the battle hymn entitled Hammer of the North, being the icing on the cake to their flawless performance. I hope they return to Toronto soon for another killer concert, and if I were you I would search for their music right now on Spotify or on YouTube as it’s definitely worth it.

Setlist
I, the Jury
Dawn of Fire
Like the Oar Strikes the Water
Iron Will
Hammer of the North

Band members
JB Christoffersson – vocals, guitar
Fox Skinner – bass
Ludwig Witt – drums 

After a very short break it was time for Gothenburg’s own Melodic Death Metal institution AT THE GATES to bring to Toronto all their rage and darkness, inspiring the fans that were already filling up all the spaces at the venue to ignite some serious circle pits. Also, although the band has recently released two EP’s named The Mirror Black and With the Pantheons Blind, it felt like they “ignored” that and kept playing the same setlist used during their tour to promote their 2018 album To Drink from the Night Itself, with songs such as To Drink From the Night Itself and The Colours of the Beast being among my favorite ones of their solid performance. Needless to say, Tomas Lindberg was amazing with his harsh, desperate vocals throughout the entire concert, as well as Adrian Erlandsson, who was perhaps trying to “set the tone” for his brother Daniel with Arch Enemy right after that. A great warm-up concert as usual, and a great band for anyone who loves violence and mosh pits from the bottom of their blackened hearts.

Setlist
Der Widerstand
To Drink From the Night Itself
Slaughter of the Soul
At War With Reality
The Colours of the Beast
Cold
Heroes and Tombs
El Altar del Dios Desconocido
Death and the Labyrinth
Blinded by Fear
The Night Eternal

Band members
Tomas Lindberg – vocals
Martin Larsson – guitars
Jonas Stålhammar – guitars
Jonas Björler – bass
Adrian Erlandsson – drums

The venue was already packed when the one and only ARCH ENEMY hit the stage and began their high-octane, incendiary concert, and within a few seconds the entire floor section was already turned into a massive circle pit for our total delight. The multi-talented frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz was absolutely brutal and unstoppable, reminding us all she was the only Canadian in this tour and, consequently, asking us all to show those Swedish guys how awesome Canadian metallers are. Their setlist was quite solid for the time they had available, mixing a few songs from their latest album Will to Power, released in 2017, with some of their older classics. Also, I guess I don’t need to say how brilliant both Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis were with their axes, right? And if you were there last night, I bet you know what the words Ravenous and Nemesis mean to your neck, elbows and throat.

Setlist
Set Flame to the Night
The World Is Yours
War Eternal
My Apocalypse
Ravenous
The Eagle Flies Alone
First Day in Hell
Saturnine
As the Pages Burn
Nemesis
Enter the Machine

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

AMON AMARTH

After all those insanely heavy and electrifying bands warmed us up really well on a not-so-cold Torontonian night, we were more than ready to join the berserkers from AMON AMARTH on their musical journey to Valhalla, and that journey was perfect from start to finish, no doubt about that. Playing a good chunk of songs form their 2019 opus Berserker, which by the way worked really well live as the whole album kicks ass, such as Raven’s Flight, Crack the Sky, Fafner’s Gold and one of my favorites of the night, the battle hymn Shield Wall, the Swedish horde spearheaded by Johan Hegg showed us everything they got, including a Viking ship, a Viking battle, a demonic entity that looked like a skeleton version of Loki, and their traditional beer drinking horn during the party anthem Raise Your Horns.

Not sure if you noticed what I’m about to say, but all my photos of the concert are really bad, and that’s solely because it was impossible to stand still and try to take any decent pictures in the floor section due to the never-ending, gigantic and brutal circle pits happening. There was a bit of everything into the pit, from giant Viking guys to tiny (but still violent) Chinese girls, proving how big Amon Amarth are getting and how their theatrical performance combined with their powerful music is attracting more and more people to their concerts. And what can I say about what the fans did during a good part of their all-time classic Twilight of the Thunder God? I would say more than half of the floor section simply sat down on the floor and started rowing all together, as if they were true Vikings on a Viking ship sailing towards battle! That was a memorable and extremely fun moment of the night (and I don’t recall seeing that happen anywhere else, unless it’s a new thing during Amon Amarth concerts that I’m not aware of), and something that only proves how strong the band has become since their inception.

The entire band was more than happy with the reception they got from us here in Toronto, smiling back to us and banging their heads nonstop, and only stopping all that devastation to say THANK YOU, TORONTO! a thousand times. If that wasn’t a statement that they’re coming back to our city again and again, and every single time with a bigger and better concert, I don’t know what would be. Would Amon Amarth be the next “metal giant” after dinosaurs like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica and Slayer call it quits? Will those classic bands pass the torch to our beloved Swedish Vikings? Well, only time will tell, but based on the quality of their discography and, above all, the high energy and epicness of their live performances, they more than deserve that place among the metal gods. All hail Amon Amarth, and may Toronto witness their epic, heavy-as-hell metal hymns and onstage battles countless more times in the coming decades!

Setlist
Raven’s Flight
Runes to My Memory
Deceiver of the Gods
First Kill
Fafner’s Gold
Crack the Sky
The Way of Vikings
Shield Wall
Guardians of Asgaard
Raise Your Horns
The Pursuit of Vikings
Twilight of the Thunder God

Band members
Johan Hegg – vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Ted Lundström – bass guitar
Jocke Wallgren – drums

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