Album Review – Carcass / Heartwork (1993)

Wake up and listen to this Melodic Death Metal wonder.

Rating3

carcass_heartworkWhen a band or artist changes their musical direction towards something more commercial or mainstream, in order to become more famous and consequently make more money without worrying about their morality or principles, their old diehard fans start calling them a sellout. We have seen this type of thing happening hundreds of times with different bands from a wide range of musical styles, especially in Heavy Metal which always tends to be a more conservative genre than any other. Who doesn’t remember all the negative reaction of the fans and the specialized media to Metallica’s Load or Judas Priest’s Turbo? However, sometimes this change is for better, and that’s exactly what happened to Liverpool’s Extreme Metal masters Carcass when they “abandoned” their old Splatter/Grindcore to show the world a more polished material with the album Heartwork, released in 1993, becoming the pioneers of what we call today as Melodic Death Metal.

Although Heartwork was considered a radical change by lots of their old fans, and as I mentioned before a sellout by many, the album is far from sounding commercial or any shit like that. This is a milestone in the world of extreme music, quickly becoming the source of inspiration for hundreds of bands all over the world due to the quality and complexity of its music. The first track, Buried Dreams, already shows a much “cleaner” Carcass than ever before, but it’s still very extreme and violent. That new Carcass, a lot more melodic, offer us then Carnal Forge, which is pure Melodic Death Metal with amazing vocals, especially the initial scream, and beautiful solos by both Bill Steer and Michael Amott.

Can we call the unique No Love Lost a Melodic Death Metal ballad? This song is a classic with its perfect riffs and lyrics (“Without emotion you heartstring’s played / Strummed and severed to the tune of a tragic serenade”), and as one of the album’s singles it got a pretty cool video too. Then comes the best song of all, the title-track Heartwork,  a heavy music masterpiece with incredibly fast riffs, awesome solos, an addictive chorus (“A canvas to paint, to degenerate / Dark reflections – degeneration / A canvas to paint, to denigrate / Dark reflections, of dark foul light”), and Jeff Walker being absolutely fantastic on vocals, sounding like an (extremely) evil version of Dave Mustaine. This is a Death Metal anthem with flawless synchronicity of all band members, and a mandatory track in any music selection for a heavy workout at the gym.

carcassAfter an impeccable start, the album loses a little momentum with Embodiment, which is not as amazing as all previous tracks. Moreover, this song reminds me a lot of what Arch Enemy do today, clearly due to Michael Amott’s influence, but not as cohesive. This Mortal Coil is an excellent song with awesome guitars, making it one of the best in the album and a great song for any live performances. The next song is fantastic too, albeit it has a very weird name: Arbeit Macht Fleisch is a derivation of “arbeit macht frei”, the famous German phrase found over the main gates of many Nazi concentration camps during World War II (including Auschwitz I) that means “work makes (you) free”. In this case, the meaning would be “work makes (you) meat”, a more suitable expression for the gruesome heavy music played by Carcass.

The last part of Heartwork begins with Blind Bleeding the Blind, a very technical song with lots of groove and electricity, followed by Doctrinal Expletives, which is a more straightforward, traditional metal song. The last track of the album, Death Certificate, has an amazing start and very interesting lyrics, but in my opinion it’s its fast and heavy rhythm what makes it so great. This is the end of an outstanding album, with Bill Steer and Michael Amott kickin’ ass from start to finish (what those two guys did with their guitars together in Heartwork was glorious) and Jeff Walker adding a creepy touch to it with his guttural, raspy voice. In addition, we can see here one of the most extraordinary front covers in the history of heavy music, called “Life Support 1993”, designed by the deceased Swiss artist H. R. Giger.

The band released Swansong in 1996, and 17 years later they got back with the amazing Surgical Steel, in 2013, but Heartwork is still their biggest work so far and something quite impossible to be beaten (and if I were you, I would definitely go for the Full Dynamic Range Edition with its four amazing bonus tracks). Carcass might have changed their musicality, with an almost complete shift in their vocal style and more diversity in their music and lyrics, but instead of a sellout they became a reference in Melodic Extreme Metal. If you love truly heavy, violent music with a solid melody in the background and insanely gory words, well, let’s just say that you must “wake up and smell the carcass”.

Best moments of the album: No Love Lost, Heartwork, This Mortal Coil and Arbeit Macht Fleisch.

Worst moments of the album: Embodiment.

Released in 1993 Earache Records

Track listing
1. Buried Dreams 3:58
2. Carnal Forge 3:54
3. No Love Lost 3:22
4. Heartwork 4:33
5. Embodiment 5:36
6. This Mortal Coil 3:49
7. Arbeit Macht Fleisch 4:21
8. Blind Bleeding the Blind 4:57
9. Doctrinal Expletives 3:39
10. Death Certificate 3:38

Full Dynamic Range Edition bonus tracks
11. This Is Your Life 4:09
12. Rot ‘n’ Roll 3:51
13. Carnal Forge (live in Tokyo) 4:25
14. Heartwork (live in Tokyo) 5:01

Band members
Jeff Walker – vocals, bass guitar
Bill Steer – lead guitar
Michael Amott – lead guitar
Ken Owen – drums

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Album Review – Helslave / Divination EP (2017)

Prepare yourself for a grim and murky fusion of old school and modern Swedish-inspired Death Metal by five Italian troopers in their path of destruction and killing.

Formed in 2009 by guitarist Jari, Italian Death Metal act Helslave is a Rome-based band taking its influences from the 90’s Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal Swedish scene, adding their personal twist to generate a mix of old and modern school metal music. After releasing a self-titled demo in 2010, followed by the EP Ethereal Decay in 2013 and their first full-length album An Endless Path in 2015, the band started playing shows all over Italy and Europe, sharing the stage with acts such as Grave, Asphyx, Havok, Hideous Divinity and Destroyer 666, also appearing at Metaldays in 2014, keeping themselves busy and always charged up to continue their path of destruction wherever they go.

In the beginning of the year, Helslave entered the studio to record a brand new EP titled Divination, comprised of four brand new tracks leaning towards darker and heavier sounds, playing their already traditional Swedish-inspired Death Metal in the vein of Grave, Entombed and Desultor, all embraced by the devilish artwork designed by Misanthropic Art. Prepare yourself for grim and murky old school Death Metal, the kind of stuff that doesn’t rely on triggered blast beats, light-in-the-loafers warbling, or anything but the crudest building blocks to construct its killing art. Hence, although Divination lasts for only around 16 minutes, that’s more than enough for Helslave to crush your spine mercilessly.

In the opening track, beautifully titled Summoning The Eternal Eclipse, an ominous intro morphs into sheer devastation by Jari and his henchmen, with drummer Francesco Comerci dictating the song’s demented rhythm in a solid display of Swedish Death Metal. In addition, newcomer Diego Laino and his Unleashed-inspired vocals keep the song’s ferocity at an extremely high level, perfect for declaiming the song’s menacing lyrics (“Silence falls, it freezes all around / the arrival of divine / ancestral ritual summon
/ Blinding lights, no human eye can see
/ let the plague fall on the weak”). And there’s no time to breathe, as the band rises from the pits of hell with another brutal carnage named Lord Of Lies, presenting old school, visceral Death Metal with hints of other extreme genres such as Black and Thrash Metal to add more dynamism to the musicality. The guitar duo Jari and Lorenzo Fabiani are simply fantastic, blasting scorching, darkened riffs through their instruments, not to mention the intricate beats by Francesco in this ode to obscurity.

In The Spawn Of Astaroth, the band slows things down a bit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fire truly dismembering riffs and beats, with Diego growling like a beast while Francesco and bassist Luca Riccardelli maintain a dense ambience in the background. Moreover, the final guitar lines exhale pure Black Metal, not to mention the song’s insurgent lyrics (“The fate of a great battle / has to be faced / an indomitable army has to be defeated / We are the ones who walk the left hand path / As written in the blood of the prophecy / The only way to conquer this land”). And Desecration, their last spawn of vicious Death Metal, is fast, demonic and amazingly neck-breaking, again presenting traditional piercing riffs and solos by Jari and Lorenzo as well as the complex and vibrant drumming by Francesco, being highly recommended for fans of Unleashed and Obituary.

You can take a full listen at Divination on YouTube, and follow Helslave through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, ReverbNation and SoundCloud. And if you want to show your true support to high-end underground Death Metal, you can purchase the EP at Helslave’s BandCamp or Big Cartel, at the Black Market Metal’s Big Cartel, or at Discogs. The only “issue” with Divination is that it’s only 15 minutes long, but as aforementioned that doesn’t stop Helslave from shining and destroying with their unrelenting Death Metal, leaving us eager for more kick-ass extreme music by this hardworking Italian squad.

Best moments of the album: Summoning The Eternal Eclipse.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Black Market Metal

Track listing
1. Summoning The Eternal Eclipse 4:08
2. Lord Of Lies 3:32
3. The Spawn Of Astaroth 3:43
4. Desecration 4:35

Band members
Diego Laino – vocals
Jari – lead guitars
Lorenzo Fabiani – guitars
Luca Riccardelli – bass
Francesco Comerci – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Patricia Pons

I am a mecha, eternal live. Everything dies while I’m still alive.

The summer might be almost over on the Northern Hemisphere, but here at The Headbanging Moose we’ll help you keep things warm with the fiery and multi-talented Spanish singer Patricia Pons, the frontwoman of Valencia-based Melodic Death Metal squad SynlakrosS, and obviously the chosen metaller to be our Metal Chick of the Month. Owner of a powerful voice and displaying a wild and flammable look by blending several styles such as Gothic and cyberpunk in her attire, Patricia is ready to conquer the world of Heavy Metal together with her bandmates through the uniqueness of their music, and I’m sure you’ll love to read about how she does that, how she prepares for the band’s live performances, among other fun topics. Are you ready to enter the cyberworld of Patricia and her SynlakrosS?

Born on December 10, 1984 in Valencia, a port city located on Spain’s southeastern coast and the third-largest Spanish city after Madrid and Barcelona, Patricia loves metal music, anime and arts from the bottom of her heart, and if possible she wants to have them all at the same time, just to give you an idea of how creative and talented our multi-colored hair growler is. Also a proud vegan, Patricia makes sure she spreads the word of veganism and its benefits anywhere she goes, again connecting that philosophy to her music and arts whenever possible. First, let’s talk about her career as the frontwoman of Spanish act Synlakross, which basically represents her life in heavy music since she entered the band in 2010. Actually, before SynlakrosS, she was part of a band named Kakuseisha, a project that didn’t last long (due to the departure of its Italian guitar player) where she played keyboards and was also responsible for the melodic and guttural backing vocals.

According to the band itself, SynlakrosS (stylishly spelled with capital S at the end) is a “storytelling” Melodic Death Metal band formed in 2008 in Valencia, Spain “whose proposal seeks to inject a good dose of energy through songs that transport your mind to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion.” Although the band was conceived in 2008 by bassist Pablo “Roro” and drummer Tiko Martinez (who by the way played together with Patricia in Kakuseisha), it was only after 2010 when the band reached its desired shape and form that things started to take off for those Spanish metallers, having already released a self-titled demo in 2011, their first full-length album Melodichrome in 2013 and more recently the full-length Death Bullets for a Forajido, in 2016. In 2015, SynlakrosS won the metal award at the Granitorock Festival, receiving national recognition and opening the doors for the band to share the stage in 2016 with Canadian metallers The Agonist. Patricia herself describes the music by SynlakrosS as “Passionate Metal”, or even “Killer Metal Music”, because they simply love what they do. If you want to see and listen to Patricia kicking ass with SynlakrosS, there are several official videos and fan-filmed footage from their live performances. For instance, you can enjoy the official videos for the songs Billy The Kid and Paper In A History, the audio for their excellent cover version for Nightwish’s classic Wish I Had An Angel, the playthrough video of the song Beauty From The Deep, as well as excerpts from their amazing live performance at Granitorock Festival in 2015 with the songs On The Bridge TV and Dragon Egg.

Apart from SynlakrosS, Patricia has already lent her powerful voice to a song named The Great Heresy, featured on the 2015 album Fuck Your God by Canadian Black Metal one-man army Episcopal Holocaust, sounding very different from her regular work with SynlakrosS, as Melodic Death Metal and Black Metal, despite being both part of the overall concept of extreme music, are not usually associated and have very little in common musically speaking. And, by the way, it’s amazing for The Headbanging Moose to see she has some sort of connection with Canada. In addition to that, she’s also more-than-ready to join Spanish Melodic Thrash Metal band Keldark as a guest vocalist on the song Fear the Fear, which will be part of their upcoming album The Brotherhood, to be released later this year.

Patricia’s main influences in music might sound very different from one another, but if you pay good attention to the details of each one of her favorite artists you’ll see her own voice is some sort of amalgamation of all their styles with her own personal twist. Among her biggest influences, we’ll find names such as Floor Jansen (After Forever, Nightwish), Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth), Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Anders Friden (In Flames), Dez Fafara (DevilDriver, Coal Chamber), Jonathan Davis (Korn), Sandra Nasic (Guano Apes), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and Liv Kristine (Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eyes), and their respective bands, as well as other bands like Nobuo Uematsu, Koji Kondo and Dream Theater. For instance, the first album she bought with her own money was the classic Fallen, by Evanescence, and the first concert she’s ever attended as a fan was In Flames. In one of her interviews, Patricia made sure she explained a little about her main influences, saying she never listened to them singing just as men or women, she focused on the voice itself and enjoyed every part from their performances.

She’s also influenced and inspired by a ton of other non-music stuff, including books, videogames, films, anime and manga, with her favorite movie being The Matrix, her favorite book being Clive Barker’s 1988 horror novel Cabal, and her favorite writers being Edgar Allan Poe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, H. P. Lovecraft and Mary Shelley, among others, all present not only in her music but also in her stunning looks. In addition, Patricia mentioned in one of her interviews that her personal visual trademark is also highly influenced by the fact that she’s a woman proud of being in Heavy Metal (and proud of being a woman, of course), and she wants people to see that when looking at her. That’s also visible in her hair style, always showcasing unique, vibrant colors by Manic Panic España, the iconic hair coloring company that works with 100% vegan dyes with zero ammonia, such as Siren’s Song and Psychedelic Sunset, two of her favorite colors.

Regarding her live performances with SynlakrosS, as aforementioned they had the pleasure of opening for Canadian metallers The Agonist during their Spanish dates in Sevilla, Madrid and Bilbao in 2016, but they’ve also played in several other locations in Spain like Avilés, Barcelona, Valencia, A Coruña, and so on. However, Patricia wants the music by SynlakrosS to reach new heights, allowing them to play all over Europe as well as in many other parts of the world. In order to provide the audience the best experience possible with the music by SynlakrosS, Patricia said she not only does a series of vocals warm-ups, just like any other vocalist, but she also works on all types of physical warm-ups and stretching, as she’s a very dynamic musician with a flammable stage performance.

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When asked about the metal scene in Spain, Patricia believes that, although Spanish Metal is underrated, the only thing musicians and bands like SynlakrosS can do to change this situation is to work hard, creating high-quality music and touring as much as possible until people see the true value of their music, as well as understand the importance of learning English, as in Spain that’s their pending subject. In addition, she mentioned that the support underground bands have from the media is almost nonexistent, as big magazines and radio stations only talk about international (and sometimes national) big old bands, also saying that unfortunately if you’re a small band and you want promotion, you have to pay for it no matter how amazing and well-done your music is. When specifically asked about the Valencian Metal scene, Patricia said that although they have some amazing bands in the region, the scene is not a popular one. In her opinion, bands and metalheads in Valencia aren’t united and there’s some sort of competition between them. Lastly, when asked where the music style by SynlakrosS is more accepted, if it’s in the north or south of Spain, she said the reception from metal fans has always been great in both regions, mentioning cities like Bilbao and the whole region of Galicia as good examples of places where their experience was very positive in the north, and Seville in the south as having a very warmth and welcome attitude from the fans towards the band.

One topic that’s always discussed in heavy music is the growing presence and importance of women in heavy music, and of course Patricia has been doing her part in opening more space for women in a style usually dominated by men. She thinks that, although most women in metal are vocalists, there are more and more excellent female guitarists, bassists, drummers and other instrumentalists appearing in the scene every single day, all linked to the increasing interest of the society for metal music. However, one of the biggest problems for her is that, no matter how talented a female musician might be, there’s always an unsuitable question or comment from a sexist male fan directed to that female artist, such as “take off your shirt!” or “do you have a boyfriend?”, things that are completely off topic and add nothing to the music being presented. Even when she’s facing that type of situation, she keeps the atmosphere light by saying that when a man screams she’s beautiful, it’s because he hasn’t seen her at 8am with no makeup. That’s a very polite way to say “fuck off” to those inconvenient guys, don’t you think?

Patricia also said that instead of pointless questions like that, she would love to be asked why she became a vegan and why she doesn’t drink or smoke. She said that becoming a vegan was a spiritual change for her, while stopping drinking, smoking and using drugs started when she decided to focus on her voice and on being more professional as a musician. She said there was a case in her family where a person had issues with drugs, and that made her think about it, that it wasn’t what she wanted for her life. Regarding alcohol, she said no one in the band drinks before going out or playing live, being an example to other metalheads that you can still be crazy and have a great time without being drunk or high.

If you’re already a fan of SynlakrosS, what I’m about to say won’t be a surprise to you, but if you’re a newcomer to their world of Alternative Metal I’m sure you’ll be impressed by the fact that Patricia is a professional illustrator and designer, having graduated from EASD Valencia (or Escola d’Art i Superior de Disseny de València) in 2009 in Fashion Design, and doing merch for different metal bands and her own art with manga style with macabre, Gothic and fantastic inspiration. She’s, for instance, the designer responsible for all the graphic art found in SynlakrosS’ 2016 album Death Bullets for a Forajido, including the cover art, inspired by the Wild West concept mixed with the band’s metal essence. You can check a few pieces designed by Patricia on her own DeviantArt page, such as this amazing “Demon Girl”, and who knows, maybe if you have a band she can be the next artist to provide her lines and colors to represent your music.

Last but not least, it doesn’t matter if you understand Spanish or not, there are several interviews on YouTube with Patricia and the other guys from SynlakrosS where they talk about the band’s current status and future plans, their inspirations in music, the metal scene in Valencia and in Spain in general, the evolution of women in metal, among other topics. You can check for example the videos Keep Calm And Listen Synlakross con Entrevista!, 2 Rockeros Entrevista con SynlakrosS, and Tertulia con Synlakross, all showing a very relaxed and uncompromised side of the band, and all a good inspiration for lovers of rebellious and electrifying metal to learn one of the most important languages worldwide. In other words, wouldn’t you love to understand what the charming and skillful Patricia has to say about all kinds of topics?

Patricia Pons’ Official Facebook page
Patricia Pons’ Official Twitter
Patricia Pons’ Official Instagram
SynlakrosS’ Official Facebook page
SynlakrosS’ Official YouTube channel
SynlakrosS’ Official Instagram
SynlakrosS’ Official SoundCloud page

“In Spain, if you want promotion, in general, you have to pay, no matter how amazing and well done is your music.” – Patricia Pons

Album Review – Stabbed / Long Way Down (2017)

A beautiful step further in the promising career of a Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal act that presents to the listener a slightly different sounding, showcasing a mad balance of Progressive and Groove Metal.

Following the release of their ambitious 2016 EP Submerge, Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal act Stabbed returns now in 2017 with their first full-length installment, entitled Long Way Down, a beautiful step further in their promising career that presents to the listener a slightly different band, tipping the balance in favor of dominating, heavy grooves, overwhelming raw energy over dark ambience and Post-Rock elements, also showcasing a mad balance of Progressive and Groove Metal.

In addition, Long Way Down is not only the debut of bassist Marcell Demeter with Stabbed, replacing Dávid Roskó (who left the band by the end of 2016), but it also features a welcome surprise in the album closer performed by guest vocalist Tadeusz Rieckmann, primarily known as the drummer of Týr and Dalriada, and the artwork by longtime collaborator Zénó Farkas (Artphetamin), who returned for this album to represent the band visually and artistically. Throughout the album’s eight tracks, this Budapest-based group aimed at materializing through their cryptic lyrics and sharp sounds a portrait of a world full of angst ridden people running in circles, blinded by their fears and apathy, bringing a stronger taste to their musicality.

A modern intro grows into electrifying contemporary Sludge Metal with elements from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal in the title-track Long Way Down, opening the album on a higher-than-usual note. Furthermore,  frontman Alex Karamuskó sounds bestial with his demented screams, while the guitar duo Attila Kecskés and Gergely Kovács are simply lancinating with their riffs, not to mention the amazing European melody supporting the song in the background. In the vicious Becoming, the whole band is in their most aggressive mode, sounding like an enraged hybrid of Sepultura from the Roots-era with Caliban, with Márk Potkovácz with his potent beats together with newcomer Marcell and his rumbling bass enhancing the song’s ravenousness considerably. Whereas in Tides a somber beginning led by Márk is gradually accompanied by both guitars and bass, before Alex comes with his blend of demonic growling and obscure clean vocals. In other words, this great display of their vibrant Post-Sludge Metal couldn’t sound more modern, metallic and consequently perfect for their live performances.

The following tune, titled Nyctalopia, brings forward more violent sounds with a precise harmonious base, becoming one of the band’s most progressive creations to date with all its breaks and variations, as well as its acid and darkling lyrics (“Descending from the coruscating lights / Into intangible doom / Chimerical phantoms tearing away / The spark from my weakened soul / Complacent proprietor in the house of lies / Leading my rendition to a Blind idiot God”). Then we have Lataris, which just like all of their songs is very cohesive and energetic, showcasing fierce riffs by both Attila and Gergely while Alex keeps hitting us with both his smooth, clean lines and his sick gnarls; and Mute, a song that clearly draws influences from bands like Pantera and Lamb of God in an aggressive mix of Sludge and Groove Metal, with Alex and Márk leading the musicality with their screams and beats respectively, sounding dark and gripping from start to finish.

In Devoid,  Stabbed slow down a little after all their usual display of anger, providing the listener a more melodic and alternative sonority where a solid instrumental with some spot-on guitar solos keeps the momentum going for the band, despite not being one of their best creations. And finally, featuring guest singer Tadeusz Rieckmann, Vessel displays an epic vibe in its intro, morphing into an obscure Post-Sludge Metal anthem with a Groove Metal twist,menacing guitars and bass, and poetic lyrics (“You have to spit to see the shine / Wallow in mud / Look all your demons in the eye / Killing your mind / We have not built this ship to wreck / On promised lands / Take nothing, fuck the test / All that you’ve bled”), as well as the raging guttural by Alex, flowing into an abrupt but climatic ending.

In order to follow Stabbed on their upward journey to success in heavy music with Long Way Down, simply visit their Facebook page for new and tour dates and their YouTube channel for more of their groovy and mordant music. And if you want to buy Long Way Down (which is available for a full listen on Spotify), you can get it at Stabbed’s BandCamp page or on Amazon. After Long Way Down it’s hard to imagine the world of Post-Sludge Metal without Stabbed, a band that has been building a solid reputation since their genesis and that’s becoming a synonym of modern metal music not only in their homeland, but anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Long Way Down, Tides and Vessel.

Worst moments of the album: Devoid.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing 
1. Long Way Down 3:52
2. Becoming 4:47
3. Tides 4:24
4. Nyctalopia 3:10
5. Lataris 4:33
6. Mute 5:32
7. Devoid 4:10
8. Vessel (feat. Tadeusz Rieckmann) 5:07

Amazon bonus tracks
9. Long Way Down (Instrumental) 3:52
10. Lataris (Instrumental) 4:33

Band members
Alex Karamuskó – vocals
Attila Kecskés – guitar
Gergely Kovács – guitar
Marcell Demeter – bass
Márk Potkovácz – drums

Guest musician
Tadeusz Rieckmann – additional vocals on “Vessel”

Metal Chick of the Month – Melissa Bonny

Feel the fire dancing with your soul, now you’re alive…

I honestly find impressive the huge amount of excellent metal bands hailing from the glamorous Switzerland, a country of only around 8 million inhabitants, but that has already provided the world remarkable acts such as Celtic Frost, Eluveitie, Gotthard, Hellhammer, Krokus, Sybreed and my favorite Swiss band of all time Triptykon, as well as tons of amazing underground groups already reviewed at The Headbanging Moose like Voice of Ruin, Henriette B, Way Of Changes and Black Diamonds. We already had a while ago the absolutely stunning Vanja Šlajh as our Metal Chick of the Month, and now it’s time to get back to the “Land of Milk and Honey” to pay a tribute to another fantastic Swiss metaller, a rising star named Melissa Bonny, lead singer of the up-and-coming Swiss bands Rage Of Light and Evenmore.

Born in Montreux, a traditional resort town on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, on January 23, 1993, Melissa started her life in music when she was only 6 years old by singing in a school choir for several years.  When she finished school, she spent most of her free time making music by herself or with some friends and took part in several events in her area, singing on stage, alone or accompanied. She also mentioned that one of her favorite pastimes was to make parodies of famous songs, and that the unexpected success of those parodies convinced her that she should move forward with her music career. That was when she started looking for a band, singing during a short time with a cover band from Valais, a canton in southern Switzerland, in 2012 before being recruited that same year by Symphonic Folk Metal band Evenmore as their lead vocalist, which gave her the opportunity to release her creativity while writing music and the chance to broaden her horizons and perform on great stages before well-known bands such as Lacuna Coil, Eluveitie and Xandria.

Owner of a potent and versatile voice, which allows her to sing as a mezzo-soprano or to do guttural growls the likes of Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, Melissa is highly influenced by several amazing metal acts, in special female-fronted groups like Delain, Eluveitie, Arch Enemy, Nightwish, Within Temptation, The Agonist, Amaranthe and Epica, as well as bands with a very epic and melodic sonority such as Kamelot and Sonata Arctica. For instance, among her favorite albums you’ll find several classic releases that perfectly represent her passion for dark and imposing metal music, including the albums The Black Halo by Kamelot, Origins and Helvetios by Eluveitie, and Shadows Of The Dying Sun by Insomnium. As you can see, Melissa nurtures a profound admiration for more contemporary Melodic Metal, where the music is joined by an exciting theatrical piece that became a trademark of almost all bands from her playlist.

Her list of favorite songs obviously includes many compositions found in her favorite albums, and you’ll notice that all of those songs have an epic vein, a potent punch and a detailed focus on the overall harmony. You can bang your head together with our dark-haired muse and feel the energy flowing from modern classics such as Kamelot’s March of Mephisto (featuring the one and only Shagrath, from Dimmu Borgir, as a guest vocalist) and The Haunting (featuring the stunning Simone Simmons, from Epica); Epica’s Storm the Sorrow; Arch Enemy’s You Will Know My Name; Sonata Arctica’s Only the Broken Hearts; Delain’s Get the Devil Out of Me; After Forever’s Energize Me; and my favorite from this list, The Agonist’s kick-ass hit Thank you Pain. We have to admit this is a damn good playlist of modern-day metal music, don’t you agree?

Although Melissa is already working on her own solo material, which had been left aside for several months, let’s focus on her two bands, Evenmore and Rage of Light, as those are already a reality in the world of heavy music and also where Melissa has been shining bright with her fantastic vocal range and mesmerizing looks. Let’s begin with Evenmore, a Symphonic Folk Metal band from Romont, a municipality and capital of the district of Glâne in the canton of Fribourg in Switzerland, formed in 2011 which, since its creation, has for ambition to offer its audience intense moments while listening to its musical creations. Apart from Melissa, the band is composed of guitarist Landry Pernet, bassist Frederic Jorand, drummer Florian Bard and pipes/whistles player Matthieu Bopp.

It was in June 2014 that Melissa and her bandmates from Evenmore relased their first EP, titled The Beginning, comprised of four distinct songs, including the excellent The Black Knight. Welcoming new instruments and aiming at creating a beautiful balance between metal and traditional music, Evenmore worked hard on developing their Celtic vein, culminating with the release of their first full-length album in 2016, named Last Ride, which received many positive feedback thanks to the versatility and the quality of its compositions, transporting the audience into a story that evolves song after song. From that album, you can enjoy Melissa’s unique vocals in the songs The Ride Begins, Eleana and Breaking The Silence. Furthermore, if you prefer watching the band live to actually confirm if they have what it takes to succeed in the world of metal, I recommend you go to YouTube to check some good quality footage from their live concerts, such as the songs Winter is Over at the Grande Salle de Cojonnex in Montreux in 2014, The Ride Begins at the famous Z7 in Pratteln in 2015, and also Last Breath at the Rocking Chair in Vevey in 2014. Hence, after listening to such powerful tunes, you’ll see why Evenmore already had the pleasure of sharing the stage with renowned acts like Lacuna Coil, Eluveitie and Xandria in their short but solid career.

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In regards to Swiss Trance Metal act Rage of Light, this hybrid project was actually conceived several years before our ebony growler joined the band in 2015. Rage Of Light was born in 2007 from the desire of its creator, multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Pellet, to combine two music styles that he loved for a long time, those being metal and trance, inspired by the Swiss trance scene of the early 2000’s and by the sound crafted by Melodic Death Metal bands. However, due to his duties with the bands Dysrider and Nodafreth, Jonathan had to put Rage of Light aside for a few years, until reigniting it again between 2011 and 2015 by writing new material and recruiting Melissa for the vocal duties and his bandmate from Nodafreth, Noé Schüpbach, for the guitars. The trio released in 2016 their debut EP, titled Chasing a Reflection (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE), comprised of four original songs, Beautiful Slave, Deception, Sick and Requiem, and a cover version for Lollipop (Candyman), a hit single from the 90’s originally recorded by Danish Dance-Pop group Aqua. You can compare Rage of Light’s version with the original one by clicking HERE, but I guess I don’t even need to point out that the new version by the Swiss power trio is a billion times better.

And it seems that Rage of Light truly enjoyed giving a new arrangement and taste to a classic hit, as earlier this year they released a stunning version for Amon Amarth’s unparalleled hymn Twilight of the Thunder God, which you can take a shot at the end of this tribute to Melissa. In my humble opinion, this is the perfect example of a cover song that’s already fantastic musically speaking, but that its official video makes it even more majestic thanks to the alluring solitude and passion exhaled by Melissa up in the Swiss Alps. If I were you, I would definitely keep an eye on Rage of Light’s BandCamp page, as I’m pretty sure this very entertaining project will soon publish more of their excellent material and maybe even another vibrant cover song for an old classic.

As aforementioned, Melissa is also working on a solo project which hasn’t taken its final shape and form yet, but that doesn’t mean you cannot have a good time watching her videos from her own YouTube channel, where she covers some of her favorite bands and artists, such as these versions for Kamelot’s March of Mephisto, Hozier’s Take Me To Church and Epica’s The Second Stone. If any of these cover songs are an indication of what’s her solo project is about to be, I guess we can be more than excited for her original material then, don’t you agree?

Melissa is obviously a very normal woman with more-than-usual habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes, just like any of us. In one of her interviews, she stated that among her favorite activities besides making music and her bands we’ll find travelling, hanging out with her friends, cooking, and watching several TV shows such as Vikings, The 100 and Game of Thrones. Well, let’s say those TV shows are indeed a great source of inspiration for Melissa when writing her music and obviously when performing live, as you can see in the official videos as well as all the unofficial footage of Evenmore playing live. Who knows, maybe one day the guys from Vikings or even Game of Thrones will get to watch her amazing performances with Evenmore and Rage of Light, and we can then enjoy our Swiss Valkyrie kicking ass on one of those shows with her stunning looks and magnificent voice.

Melissa Bonny’s Official Facebook page
Melissa Bonny’s Official Twitter
Melissa Bonny’s Official Instagram
Melissa Bonny’s Official YouTube channel
Evenmore’s Official Facebook page
Evenmore’s Official Twitter
Evenmore’s Official YouTube channel
Rage of Light’s Official Facebook page
Rage of Light’s Official BandCamp
Rage of Light’s Official YouTube channel

“Boredom follows me but I’m too fast!” – Melissa Bonny

Album Review – Karkaos / Children Of The Void (2017)

As we’re all the children of the void, let’s raise our horns and bang our heads to the superb new album by one of the most reputable and celebrated metal acts hailing from the beautiful province of Quebec.

Founded by guitarist Vincent Harnois in the year of 2003 under the name Sinister Vengeance, Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore outfit Karkaos soon evolved into one of the most reputable and celebrated metal acts hailing from the stunning city of Montreal, located in the province of Quebec, in Canada. Melodic yet heavy, this unstoppable female-fronted band is unleashing upon the earth their brand new full-length installment, titled Children Of The Void, which features new frontwoman Viky Boyer, drummer Justine Ethier (Blackguard) and lead guitarist Samael Pelletier (Aeon’s Fall), and let me tell you that all these lineup changes were extremely positive to the band and to their sound, especially if you’re a fan of the music by bands such as Epica, In Flames, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth.

Featuring an elegant artwork by the immensely talented Colombian artist and designer Marcela Bolívar, as well as collaborations with guest artists Lindsay Schoolcraft from Cradle of Filth and Morgan Lander from Kittie, Children Of The Void offers the listener a considerably different sonority from the band’s previous albums, the 2011 EP In Burning Skies and the 2014 full-length release Empire, sounding more symphonic, imposing and polished than before. “We have been working hard for a long time to be able to give you an album that combines beautiful melodies to our own symphonic signature, groovy and brutal riffs to intensity as well as catchy choruses”, comments the band’s mastermind Vincent about Children Of The Void, and let’s say his “summary” of the album was spot-on to depict all the beauty and aggressiveness found in its 12 amazing compositions.

The cinematic intro Babel leads us to the symphonic and metallic world of Karkaos before the explosive Skymaster hits us with heaviness and might from its very first second in a perfect fusion of the music played by Arch Enemy with Dimmu Borgir and Nightwish. Furthermore, pay attention to the precision of Justine behind her drums and to the song’s powerful chorus (“All hope is gone, I scream at heavens / This is not yet the end! / Brothers and sisters moan, I howl / Truth will prevail!”), as well as to the amazing Viky, who steals the show with her superb vocal performance. The following tune, Kolossòs, is a song tailored for breaking your neck in half due to the passionate vocals by Viky, its thunderous riffs and bass lines, and the infinite epicness that permeates the atmosphere. This is a newborn underground Melodic Death Metal classic showcasing mighty lyrics (“Kolossòs! The earth has spoken! / To the sun, you were reaching! / Kolossòs! The earth has shaken! / On the ground eternally, you’ll be laying!”) and the awesome guest vocals by Kittie’s Morgan Lander, as previously mentioned.

Let The Curtains Fall ventures through the realms of Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir, but with a more melodic twist thanks to the potent keys by Sébastien Belanger-Lapierre while Vincent and Samael add their share of heaviness to the overall musicality; whereas Pale, one of the fastest and heaviest of all songs, is a brutal composition by Karkaos where the colorful-haired Viky is absolutely on fire while the other band members deliver amazing metal music, in special Justine with her potent beats and once again Sébastien and his cinematic keyboards. And their onrush of epicness goes on in the title-track Children of the Void, which will inspire you for some intense headbanging due to its accelerated pace, with Vincent, Samael and bassist Eddy Levitsky (who recently left the band) blasting sheer electricity through their strings, all spearheaded by the unstoppable Justine.

Then it’s time for Rêverie, an epic bridge that rises in intensity and mystery until it reaches the form of the sensational Tyrants, a first-class Melodic Death Metal hymn with tons of symphonic elements to increase its obscurity and potency flawlessly delivered by all band members, with Viky beautifully growling like a she-demon, not to mention her also amazing clean vocals during the more melodic parts of the song.  And changing a bit their style and sonority, they offer a very interesting and gripping song named Where Mushrooms Grow, sounding very harmonious, melancholic and dense, perfect for singing along its catchy chorus with the band (“Fields of sorrow / Where mushrooms grow / All trees, all hollow / We reap what we sow / Fields of chaos / Where mushrooms grow / Fading as we cross / Forgetting what we know”). This is indeed a side of Karkaos I would love to see them exploring more in their future releases so captivating it sounds.

But the band obviously has more of their fast-paced metal to offer like what we see in Lightbearer, another solid composition showcasing beautiful vocal lines, thunderous riffs and bass lines and a rhythmic drumming. In my humble opinion, this song would sound simply superb with a full orchestra accompanying the band in the background, don’t you agree? Anyway, in The Beast, Vincent and Samael fire their cutting riffs while Sébastien is responsible for the epicness in the background, sounding highly inspired by contemporary Arch Enemy and The Agonist and also highlighting the excellent job done by Justine on drums, adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. Closing this amazing album of contemporary metal we have Bound by Stars, which sounds a bit generic and doesn’t keep up with the rest of the album, despite its purpose being to sound more complete and introspective than the other tracks. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to enjoy in the song, such as the perfect vocal lines by Viky and the powerful performances by Justine and Sébastien with their instruments.

If you also consider yourself a “child of the void”, you can join Karkaos in their quest for Melodic Death Metal by following them on Facebook, listening to their fiery music on YouTube, and buy Children Of The Void at their BandCamp page, on Amazon or on CD Baby. Children Of The Void is undoubtedly going to be among the best releases of 2017 not only in Canada but also worldwide, and the band more than deserves that due to their commitment to their work and passion for melodic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Kolossòs, Pale, Tyrants and Where Mushrooms Grow.

Worst moments of the album: Bound by Stars.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Babel 1:13
2. Skymaster 3:50
3. Kolossòs 4:32
4. Let The Curtains Fall 4:34
5. Pale 4:04
6. Children of the Void 4:45
7. Rêverie 0:59
8. Tyrants 4:26
9. Where Mushrooms Grow 4:19
10. Lightbearer 4:20
11. The Beast 4:20
12. Bound by Stars 6:49

Band members
Viky Boyer – lead vocals
Vincent Harnois – guitars, vocals
Samael Pelletier – lead guitars
Eddy Levitsky – bass
Sébastien Belanger-Lapierre – keyboards
Justine Ethier – drums

Guest musicians
Morgan Lander – additional vocals on “Kolossòs”
Lindsay Schoolcraft – backing vocals

Album Review – Divine Element / Thaurachs Of Borsu (2017)

In the hostile lands of Borsu, witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war, human society and the fabric of the cosmos itself, all embraced by the fury and epicness of Melodic Death and Black Metal.

A comeback that has been slowly brewing since a few years now. Formed in 2002 in the city of Athens, Greece, Melodic Death/Black Metal act Divine Element was the first band of Spectral Lore’s multi-instrumentalist Ayloss and vocalist Antonis, releasing their self-titled debut album back in 2010. After a hiatus of almost seven years, Divine Element are finally back with the stunning Thaurachs of Borsu, the first chapter in many future ones to come under a new and ambitious conceptual undertaking, the combination of metal with fantasy literature and world-making. Featuring a classy artwork by Chilean artist Matias Trabold Rehren, Thaurachs of Borsu is based on the same-titled novel written by Ayloss, which will be unveiled not long after the album release (to be followed by short stories from Antonis), set on a medieval fantasy universe envisioned by the band.

Thaurachs of Borsu chronicles the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war, human society and the fabric of the cosmos itself, as the gritty and daring warriors of his nation, Borsu, fight to regain their ancestral homeland from a much more powerful enemy. Musically speaking, the album ties together several styles of metal to serve the higher purpose of epic storytelling, albeit taking notice to never fall into the typical clichés of “soundtrack metal”, keeping an old-school approach mostly centered around Death and Black Metal of the heavy, melodic variety. Put differently, after hitting play you’ll find yourself wandering through the lands of Borsu, ready for battle and eager for some blood, banging your head nonstop to the majestic heavy music played by Antonis and Ayloss, with the precise and masterful support of German drummer Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, Hannes Grossman, Shapeshift) to make their sound even more enthralling.

A Realignment With Destiny is a fantastic epic intro to the battle that’s about to come, the title-track Thaurachs Of Borsu, where Antonis and Ayloss begin their crushing onslaught in total sync with the Amon Amarth-inspired beats by Hannes. In other words, this is superb metal music, dense and profound, with all instruments filling all spaces with sheer aggression and might. In addition, how not to fall in love for those monumental lyrics (“The valley folk to the mountains’ slopes withdrew / Surrounded only by unwrought stone / The sea lords to the dry desert driven / Οswan roams frenzied in a soundless plain / Mestyr hangs discouraged with a rusting blade / And all hearts bellow in a silent wailing / A resignation to oblivion”)?

In Onto The Trail Of Betrayal, Antonis’ potent deep growls keep rumbling the earth while the instrumental pieces invest in a more Black Metal sonority. Moreover, the intricate beats by Hannes go along flawlessly with the cutting riffs by Ayloss, resulting in eight minutes of the best underground Melodic Death and Black Metal you can get anywhere, where they not only play superior music but the story being told is also a work-of-art. Then in Beyond This Sea we’re treated to a calm and melancholic start before the sound of the sea and the guitar lines blend in a beautiful manner, creating a potent atmosphere for the metallic sounds that are about to come. Adding elements of Blackened Doom and Folk Metal to their menacing Melodic Death Metal, the result couldn’t sound more imposing and appealing, with highlights to how vocals and guitar follow the exact same lines.

The movie-inspired bridge Interlude (The Point Of No Return) sounds even more majestic than the album’s intro, warming up your fighting soul for the crushing Call Of The Blade, a gripping fusion of the music played by Amon Amarth with traditional Folk Metal, with Antonis sounding like a beast on vocals, enhancing the impact of the song’s already powerful lyrics (“The land speaks to me in an alien tongue / Though my blood was born in these shores / What will I find, if I dig to unearth these roots / The echo of old thoughts faints quickly here / As the collective energy rises triumphant / Powered by the fiery will of a few”). Traitor’s Last Stand is another belligerent tune by Divine Element, showcasing almost eight minutes of heavier-than-hell riffs, electrifying passages and enlivening breaks. Furthermore, Hannes brings a high dosage of intricacy to the overall musicality with his drumming, while Antonis keeps telling the story with precision and passion through his anger-fueled growls. The last part of the song exhales epicness, gradually morphing into the cinematic outro Augury For A Shapeless Future, where the gorgeous sound of a rough ocean, together with the orchestrations in the background, make it the perfect climatic ending for the album.

No words can describe with the right amount of detail how amazing Thaurachs Of Borsu is, which is why I highly recommend you go take a listen at the album in its entirety HERE, and also visit the band’s official Facebook page for more information and their YouTube channel for more awesomeness in the form of heavy music. Also, there are several locations where you can purchase Thaurachs Of Borsu, such as Divine Element’s BandCamp, the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and the Season of Mist’s webstore, as well as on Amazon and at Discogs. And while we wait for the next chapter in the career of Divine Element, we have plenty to enjoy and absorb in this superb album where heavy music and a thrilling story-telling couldn’t be more connected, impactful and vibrant.

Best moments of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu, Beyond This Sea and Call Of The Blade.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing   
1. A Realignment With Destiny 2:13
2. Thaurachs Of Borsu 4:52
3. Onto The Trail Of Betrayal 7:45
4. Beyond This Sea 4:54
5. Interlude (The Point Of No Return) 1:30
6. Call Of The Blade 6:34
7. Traitor’s Last Stand 7:36
8. Augury For A Shapeless Future 2:39

Band members
Antonis – vocals
Ayloss – guitars, bass, synths

Guest musician
Hannes Grossman – drums (session)

Album Review – Crucify the Faith / New Breed EP (2017)

Enjoy this short and sweet display of excellent Deathcore, brought forth by a promising squad of young and restless metallers from Finland.

Combining several distinct genres of heavy music into their compositions, Helsinki-based five-piece Melodic Deathcore group Crucify the Faith has been making a name for themselves as one of the new faces of modern Metalcore in their homeland Finland since their inception in 2014, with their sound being compared to renowned acts such as Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold and Suicide Silence. For instance, after the release of the band’s debut single “The World is Mine” in 2015, the band won second place in Finland’s largest band competition named Emergenza Festival, and that was when the band members were still only 16-18 years old, to make things even more impressive.

Fast forward to 2017 and here we have Crucify the Faith delivering the world their debut EP entitled New Breed, fully recorded and produced by the band itself. With each band member having a different musical background, from Hip Hop to Deathcore, and adding their personal touch to the music, New Breed ends up displaying a very cohesive musicality full of melody, feeling and electricity, therefore representing the heart and soul of Crucify the Faith in great fashion. Of course the band still has a long way to go in their quest for fame and recognition, but based on the quality of the music found in New Breed I should say they couldn’t have started their journey in a better way.

The opening track Make It Through already offers the listener an explosion of Melodic Death Metal led by the intense riffs by Jermu Laine and Jere Kontiainen, while Aki Juvonen screams manically with all his strength. Furthermore, his clean vocals might not be as impactful as his growls, but they’re still effective and positive to the music, not to mention the additional female vocals by guest musician Roosa Ahonen which bring even more balance to the overall melody. In The Strong Will Survive we face more of the band’s melodic lines the likes of Arch Enemy, with its lyrics being a straightforward display of modern Melodic Death Metal (“And the sky above you will fall / Before I’ll give up my dream! / I wish you could see it all / See what I’m trying to reach for! / I will not let my pain break through, / I will stand through it all. / I wish you would stand beside me help me / Pay the price of the cause.”). In addition, drummer Valtteri Estola seems to truly enjoy slamming his drum set, while Jermu and Jere show they not only kick ass with their riffs, but their solos are also flammable as hell.

The title-track New Breed bursts with sheer heaviness and aggression, with high dosages of anger and hatred flowing from Aki’s growls, from its neck-breaking riffs and from its imposing atmosphere, while the calmer break halfway through it gives time for the listener to breathe before the band gets back with more metallic sounds. Despite its melancholic intro, This Generation Falls quickly morphs into more of the belligerent Deathcore by Crucify The Faith, with bassist Lauri Kurkela making sure the song’s background is as heavy and groovy as possible, consequently building the desired ambience for Aki to powerfully blast his demented growls. And in the last track of the EP, named Unreal, Aki invests into deeper growls, with the music being a frantic fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore. Furthermore, Valtteri and Lauri are on fire with their beats and rumbling strings, respectively, with the whole music matching perfectly the song’s lyrics about the war between science and religion inside our minds (“You created madness and desire. / You are the god that controls the fire. / And still you think, / That above I control and give the signs, / That are the work of your over developed mind.”).

Do you want to give a shot at the excellent Deathcore brought forth by this squad of young and restless metallers from Finland with their brand new EP? First, go to YouTube or to Spotify where you can listen to the full EP and get more familiar with the music by Crucify the Faith. Then visit their Facebook page and follow them to be the first to know about their projects and tour dates. And last but not least, buy their music on iTunes and show your honest support to another promising band from the usually cold but always as-metal-as-hell Republic of Finland.

Best moments of the album: The Strong Will Survive and New Breed.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Make It Through 5:19
2. The Strong Will Survive 4:33
3. New Breed 4:27
4. This Generation Falls 4:40
5. Unreal 4:02

Band members
Aki Juvonen – vocals
Jermu Laine – guitar
Jere Kontiainen – guitar
Lauri Kurkela – bass
Valtteri Estola – drums

Guest musician
Roosa Ahonen – additional female vocals on “Make It Through”

Album Review – Resist The Ocean / Heart Of The Oak (2017)

This fine German quintet doesn’t bring us just good heavy music with their new album, but an organic and aggressive explosion of high-end Metalcore with marching riffs, hearty breaks and that unparalleled melody only found in European metal.

Fans of the heavy music played by bands such as As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Trivium and All That Remains should turn their eyes (and ears) to Nuremberg, a city on the river Pegnitz and on the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal in the German state of Bavaria, where Metalcore five-piece act Resist The Ocean has been delivering high-quality metal since their inception in 2012. After the release of their debut EP Weather the Storm in 2014, those German metallers are back in perfect shape with their first full-length endeavor, titled Heart Of The Oak, an album of old school Metalcore without stereotypes that transpires sheer aggression through its ten very cohesive and electrified songs.

Composed of Jochen on vocals, Kevin and Konsti on guitars, Art on bass and Adrian on drums, Resist the Ocean craft an absolutely stunning sonority with marching riffs, hearty breaks and that unparalleled melody only found in European metal. In addition to that, Jochen is the type of frontman that doesn’t really care about clean vocals, growling almost nonstop during the whole album, which in the end has a huge impact on the band’s music and style as it increases their overall ferocity way above the average Metalcore level. The obscure and stylish cover art for Heart Of The Oak also plays an important part in the message the band wants to send to the listener, being thoroughly connect to each song of the album and to the sharp sounds emanating from all instruments.

And they need only a few seconds to take the adrenaline level to the limit with their crisp, two-fisted sonority in the opening track Oceanlung, where the amazingly heavy and melodic riffs by Kevin and Konsti guide the listener to the acid world of Resist The Ocean. In Long Road Home the whole band gets more melodic, faster and sharper, led by the pounding beats by Adrian and the once again blazing guitars by Kevin and Konsti, with Jochen’s raspy growls creating a nice paradox with the song’s polished and upbeat rhythm; while in Cauterize the band’s aggressiveness only increases as the music progresses, with Jochen reaching pure dementia with his sick screams, also presenting excellent guitar solos to give more balance to the overall result. In other words, this is one of those songs fans of modern Metalcore will have a blast listening to without a shadow of a doubt.

Adrenaline keeps flowing from all instruments in the title-track Heart Of The Oak, showcasing another superb job done by Kevin and Konsti who, supported by the solid base crafted by Adrian and bassist Art, deliver top-tier European Metalcore. Furthermore, I personally recommend you pay good attention to the official video for this song and see if you recognize who has a cameo at 1 minute and 47 seconds of the video. Yes, it’s the German tank himself, Mr. Udo Dirkschneider, who co-produced the video by the way. Getting back to the album, we have Ambers, drawing influences from modern Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal with highlights to the song’s potent beats and neck-breaking rhythm, and Handcarved Coffins, a song that could be played on any radio station due to its smoother pace and melody but that also presents that anger and violence from underground Metalcore, not to mention its electrifying chorus and guitar solos.

Dreamwalker gets back to a more straightforward formula, presenting solid instrumental and vocal lines, albeit not as creative as the rest of the album (which doesn’t mean it’s not going to work well during their live concerts, though), whereas Black Rust brings forward a thrilling and refreshing fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, with Jochen firing his enraged growls while the other band members deliver sheer awesomeness through their riffs, rumbling bass lines and fast-paced beats, turning it into one of the best songs of the album hands down. And there are two more metallic tunes to go, starting with the brisk and melodic The Last Of Our Kind, with its backing vocals providing Jochen an extra dosage of energy to blast his growls, not to mention the amazing solos by the unstoppable duo Kevin and Konsti, before the classy Metalcore chant Gilded Cage closes the album, displaying crisp guitar lines and powerful drums. Moreover, the iTunes bonus track is a radio-friendly acoustic version of this song, with the female vocals from guest musician June (Nicki and June) instead of the growls by Jochen, and a pleasant atmosphere to go along with that tenderness.

You can brave the untamable waters of Resist The Ocean by visiting their Facebook page for news about the band (including their tour dates), enjoy their music on YouTube and SoundCloud, and purchase Heart Of The Oak through the band’s Big Cartel as a digipak or a digipak + shirt bundle, as well as several other locations such as the EMP webstore, Nuclear Blast, Amazon and iTunes. As mentioned before, this fine German quintet doesn’t just deliver good heavy music to our ears, but an organic and rampant explosion of European Metalcore that will definitely catch your attention even if this type of music is not among your favorite metal genres.

Best moments of the album: Long Road Home, Heart Of The Oak and Black Rust.

Worst moments of the album: Dreamwalker.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Nose Records

Track listing
1. Oceanlung 3:47
2. Long Road Home 3:06
3. Cauterize 3:23
4. Heart Of The Oak 4:29
5. Ambers 3:07
6. Handcarved Coffins 3:54
7. Dreamwalker 3:07
8. Black Rust 4:23
9. The Last Of Our Kind 3:46
10. Gilded Cage 4:18

iTunes Exclusive bonus track
11. Gilded Cage (acoustic version) 2:23

Band members
Jochen – vocals
Kevin – guitars
Konsti – guitars
Art – bass
Adrian – drums

Guest musician
June – vocals on “Gilded Cage (acoustic version)”

Album Review – Hammerdrone / Dark Harvest (2017)

Mixing up intense aggression, a dark atmosphere and elegant melodies, this Canadian quintet brings forth a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization known as the Dark Harvest Commando.

Formed back in 2010 in the city of Calgary, known as the center of Canada’s oil industry, Melodic Death Metal act Hammerdrone mixes up intense aggression, a dark atmosphere and elegant melodies to deliver songs that are both epic and catchy, being highly recommended for admirers of the musical creations by bands such as Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquility and early Soilwork. After receiving an enthusiastic response from the metal press in countries across the world with the release of their debut EP A Demon Rising in 2012 and the full-length Clone of Europa in 2014, this Canadian quintet returns with their second full-length installment, entitled Dark Harvest, a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization the Dark Harvest Commando.

The Dark Harvest Commando of the Scottish Citizen Army was a militant group which in 1981 demanded that the British government decontaminate Gruinard Island, a site which had been used for anthrax weapon testing during World War II, by distributing potentially anthrax-laden soil on the mainland. Enfolded by a menacing artwork by Brazilian artist Caio Caldas of CadiesArt (DragonForce, Raven Lord, Soulspell), Dark Harvest has all the elements needed to effectively portray the ominous actions of such terrorist organization, including demented vocals, blazing riffs and frantic drumming, therefore enhancing the impact of the music (and also of the story being told) on the listener.

The atmospheric intro Echoes prepares the listener for the carnivorous but very melodic Karakoram, with its lyrics explain “who” the savage mountain Karakoram is (“I am the slate of lost emotion, I am the face of blank despair / That which crushes your spirit and body / In this cold and rarified air.”). Not only the lyrics are meaningful, but the amazing job done by both Rick Cardellini and Curtis Beardy on guitars provides lead singer Graham Harris the exact ambience needed for his deep guttural vocals to thrive. In Ancestral Weight, which begins with a soulful solo by Rick while drummer Vince Cardellini blasts pure heaviness through his beats (sounding like a machine gun), we’re treated to modern and versatile Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth.

The title-track Dark Harvest takes you to the secret lair of the Dark Harvest Commando, with the band’s Melodic Death Metal presenting a warlike vibe. The overall violence emanating from their riffs and drums is insanely high, while Graham works as the “leader” of such vile terrorist organization with his deranged growls. And continuing his momentum, Graham canalizes the size and strength of a bison on his deep vocals in the excellent Black Bison, boosting the song’s hostile lyrics even more (“I see my God as he floods the plains of destiny / With the bile of intent. / I see my God and his hooves are stained with mortal men, / Malice hangs in the fog of his breath. / No lunar eclipse is half this dark – / It crushes your will and seeps into your heart.”). Showcasing elements from Thrash Metal, in special in its drums, this full-bodied, menacing and powerful composition is tailored for admirers of the heaviest form of Melodic Death Metal, being perfect for cracking your spine headbanging; whereas in The Wasting Throne, another pounding tune by Hammerdrone, both guitars dictate the rhythm together with the lowering bass by Teran Wyer, resulting in a robust song where all spaces are filled with heavy sounds and melodic touches, while its second part offers more of the band’s neck-breaking metal music.

After the album’s intro, Harvest The Void is the first (and only) serene moment you’ll find in Dark Harvest, working as a gentle bridge to the deep and melodic Collapse Of Reality, with highlights to the dynamic guitars by Rick and Curtis and the intricate beats by Vince, while Graham keeps growling like a beast. It’s a good quality tune despite going on for too long, losing a bit of its punch after a while. However, in the last of all tracks, titled Lost In An Instant, the whole band is fuckin’ roaring, with Graham and his bandmates delivering high-end Melodic Death Metal through their beautiful guitar solos, solid beats and endless stamina.

You can listen to Dark Harvest in its entirety HERE, and also show your support to Hammerdrone (and consequently to independent metal in general) by grabbing your copy of this excellent concept album at their BandCamp page. Hammerdone, who can be found on Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, not only bring us metalheads high-end underground heavy music made in Canada, as melodic and catchy as it can be, but they also tell a sinister and noteworthy story in Dark Harvest that will show you that many (if not all) terrorist attacks do not come out of nowhere, but that they’re always connected to classified actions taken by all governments worldwide. We obviously do not condone any of those actions and reactions by governments or terrorist groups, but it’s clear that when metal bands like Hammedrone are inspired by such controversial topics, the final result is always amazing musically speaking.

Best moments of the album: Ancestral Weight, Black Bison and The Wasting Throne.

Worst moments of the album: Collapse Of Reality.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Echoes (Intro) 1:09
2. Karakoram 4:37
3. Ancestral Weight 3:51
4. Dark Harvest 6:17
5. Black Bison 7:48
6. The Wasting Throne 6:07
7. Harvest The Void 3:32
8. Collapse Of Reality 5:34
9. Lost In An Instant 5:35

Band members
Graham Harris – vocals
Rick Cardellini – lead guitars
Curtis Beardy – rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Teran Wyer – bass, vocals
Vince Cardellini – drums