Album Review – Nemesis / The War Is On (2020)

Waging war on mankind, this all-female Melodic Death Metal unity from Serbia will pulverize your senses with their astonishing debut album.

If you’re a fan of female-fronted Melodic Death Metal and old school Death Metal bands the likes of Arch Enemy, The Agonist, Nervosa and Abnormality, you’ll undoubtedly have an absolute blast with Belgrade, Serbia-based all-female Melodic Death Metal unity Nemesis, who has recently released their debut full-length installment entitled The War Is On. Mixed, mastered and produced by Luka Matković at Citadela Sound Production, and featuring a modern artwork and a sharp design by Serbian artists Vladimir Milovanović and Branislav Crvenkovic, The War Is On offers us all a superb balance between sheer brutality and melodious passages, captivating our senses from start to finish and presenting all the ability and passion for heavy music by frontwoman Sanja Drča, guitarists Aleksandra Petrović and Tijana Milivojević, bassist Biljana Sovilj and drummer Selena Simić, therefore proving it might have taken a while for those unrelenting women to release their first album since their inception in 2013, but the final result is grandiose, vibrant and absolutely honest and fresh.

The quintet doesn’t waste a single second and begin their feast of extreme and melodic sounds in Wake Up, led by the razor-edge, heavy-as-hell riffs by Aleksandra and Tijana while Selena smashes her drum set with tons of rage and power, followed by Uprising, bringing forward thrashing lyrics growled by the talented she-wolf Sanja (“Do you see the fire that burns in our eyes / Give us the truth, stop feeding us with your lies / Time is for persecution / No more this mass confusion!”) supported by the Arch Enemy-inspired sounds form her bandmates in an awesome fusion of harmony and violence. And a dense and imposing ambience will put you to bang your head nonstop in Oppression, a Melodic Death Metal tune infused with the more visceral elements from Thrash and Death Metal with Sanja and Selena kicking some serious ass with their respective roars and thunderous beats, not to mention the beautiful groove brought forth by Biljana’s bass punches.

Once again showcasing the band’s unstoppable guitar duo firing their Michael Amott-inspired riffs and solos, the band brings forth Divine Retribution, with the additional vocals by guests Stefan Tomić and Milica Jovanov providing a phantasmagorical support to Sanja’s demonic screams, whereas in Living Dead People we’re treated to almost six minutes of ass-kicking Melodic Death Metal tailored for pulverizing our ears and minds with an insane amount of electricity and rebelliousness. Moreover, Biljana and Selena will shake the foundations of the earth with their rumbling bass and drums, making it impossible to stand still to such thrilling composition. And it’s time for more of their adrenaline-fueled metal music in the form of Savages, where Aleksandra and Tijana display all their skills and addiction to heavy music with their refined riffage, keeping the album at a humongous level of savagery for our vulgar delectation.

In Dead End we face grim, poetic lyrics darkly gnarled by Sanja (“I cannot hold it, I’ve had enough / Watching the world becoming rough / Headless beasts, stripped of the skin / New generation, new king!”), while Selena offers her heavy artillery on drums, being therefore perfect for cracking your neck headbanging, and less infernal and more melodious than the previous songs, Pandemonium has an obscure vibe that’s beautifully complemented by the stunning solos by Aleksandra, resulting in the epitome of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Back to their trademark berserk mode, the girls pulverize everything and everyone with their endless groove, aggressiveness and dexterity in Born Worthless, with Selena dictating the pace with her vicious beats while the guitars sound truly venomous and piercing. And last but not least, the title-track The War Is On will fuel the listener with the utmost depiction of the band’s hellish musicality, sounding and feeling bold, dense and austere from start to finish, with Sanja providing our ears a lesson in female harsh growls.

This precious gem of contemporary extreme music made in Serbia can be streamed in its entirety on Spotify, but as usual you should obviously grab a copy of the album from the Grom Records website, from Amazon or from Discogs to show those skillful Serbian women your true respect and appreciation for their music. In addition, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram to keep up to date with all things Nemesis, including their tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their crushing music and apocalyptic videos. I honestly hope Nemesis can continue to pave their path of destruction with their Melodic Death Metal for the following years and even decades, going against all odds and crushing all the barriers and hassles they might find on their way due to the fact they’re a pure underground band. And if they succeed in their quest for metal, I’m sure we metalheads will all have some awesome reasons to smile and bang our heads to the sound of their sensational creations, just like what we can find in one of the best underground albums of the year, the breathtaking The War Is On.

Best moments of the album: Uprising, Oppression, Living Dead People and The War Is On.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Grom Records

Track listing
1. Wake Up 3:07
2. Uprising 3:22
3. Oppression 3:28
4. Divine Retribution 3:55
5. Living Dead People 5:37
6. Savages 3:36
7. Dead End 3:51
8. Pandemonium 3:26
9. Born Worthless 3:52
10. The War Is On 4:06

Band members
Sanja Drča – vocals
Aleksandra Petrović – lead guitar
Tijana Milivojević – rhythm guitar
Biljana Sovilj – bass
Selena Simić – drums

Guest musicians
Stefan Tomić – additional vocals on “Divine Retribution”
Milica Jovanov – additional vocals on “Divine Retribution”

Album Review – Mazikeen / The Solace of Death (2020)

A beastly album of Symphonic Death and Black Metal from Australia that proves death can be comforting when enfolded by first-class extreme music.

What started in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia as a solo project by guitarist Andrew Shiells with the help from Chris Meyer (from Australian Black Metal act Aberration Nexus), who recorded some drums and synths for the project’s first demo tracks, has evolved to a much bolder and multi-layered beast in recent years, blasting a crushing hybrid of Symphonic Death and Black Metal with other extreme styles such as Melodic Death Metal and old school Black Metal. I’m talking about Mazikeen (based on the Hebrew word “mazzikim”, meaning “harmful spirits”), an infernal horde comprised of the aforementioned Andrew Shiells and his henchmen James Edmeades (Claret Ash) on vocals, Kris Marchant on the guitars, Aretstikapha (Plasmodium, Klavierkrieger) on piano and synths, and Marco Pitrruzzella (Six Feet Under, Sleep Terror) on drums, who are unleashing upon us their first full-length opus titled The Solace of Death, featuring eight original songs and four insane cover tracks throughout impressive 67 minutes of music, all embraced by the stylish and sinister artwork by Australian artist Jamie Ludbrooke.

An eerie, phantasmagorical intro evolves into a feast of symphonic and dark sounds in the opening track The Solace Of Death, where Marco is absolutely infernal with his blast beats while James delivers his Dani Filth/Shagrath-inspired roars and gnarls, supported by the imposing synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha, whereas in Apostate it’s time for ten minutes of Symphonic Black Metal infused with Doom and Melodic Death Metal nuances where the guitars by Kris and Andrew sound sharp and very harmonious just the way we like it in extreme music. Brutal and enthralling form start to finish, this great composition lives up to the legacy of bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Carpathian Forest, which can also be said about Vexation Through The Golden Sun, even more obscure, violent and epic than its predecessors, spearheaded by the insane drums by Marco while his bandmates make sure every empty space in the air is filled with darkness and evil, resulting in a lecture in modern-day Symphonic Black Metal full of breaks and variations, Stygian passages and even some serene, acoustic moments for our total delight. And featuring guest vocals by Josh Young (Astral Winter, Atra Vetosus), Mazikeen go full Scandinavian Black Metal in Fractricide, inspired by the trailblazers of the genre such as Mayhem and Emperor, blasting a demolishing sonority that will make your head tremble nonstop.

Josh returns with his wicked gnarls in the melancholic and somber Psychotic Reign, starting in a Gothic Metal-ish vibe while also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal in its core essence. Moreover, I personally love the paradox created between Marco’s stone crushing beats and all background keys and symphonic elements, giving the whole song and extra touch of eccentricity, flowing into the cryptic and atmospheric instrumental bridge Harrowing Cessation, which also develops into a romantic instrumental ballad entitled MORS VINCIT OMNIA, or “death conquers all” from Latin, where the strength and depth of the piano notes take the lead and guide the music until its inevitable and grim ending. And in the last original song from the album, Cerulean Last Night, Mazikeen get back to a more ferocious and visceral mode, uniting the most piercing elements from old school Black Metal and contemporary Symphonic Black Metal spiced up by the visceral guest vocals by Ian McLean (The Maledict).

The last batch of songs in The Solace of Death is the band’s own tribute to their biggest idols and influences, starting with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, originally released in the 1994 cult album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (check the original version HERE), with Mazikeen’s version featuring the vicious vocals by guest Ashahalasin (Inhuman Remnants, Somnium Nox) infernally complemented by the pulverizing drums by Marco, followed by Disection’s Night’s Blood, from the 1995 album Storm of the Light’s Bane, as bestial as the original song with Kris and Andrew delivering sheer electricity and rage through their scorching riffs. Then we have a cover for Dimmu Borgir’s Mourning Palace, from the 1997 album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (you can listen to the original one HERE), where James does a fantastic job on vocals accompanied by the whimsical keys and synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha. And finally, Ashahalasin returns for their cover song for Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger, from the 1994 album Transilvanian Hunger, as raw and malevolent as the original tune, with Marco once again taking the lead firing endless dementia and wrath from his blast beats.

You can enjoy this precious gem of Australian Black Metal in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and also grab your copy of the album from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from the Iron, Blood & Death Corporation’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music, or click HERE for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mazikeen can also be found on Facebook, where you can know more about the band, their tour dates, their music and plans for the future, proudly carrying the flag of Black Metal wherever they go. In a nutshell, Andrew and his horde from Mazikeen nailed it in The Solace of Death, showing us all that death can be indeed comforting, especially if enfolded by a good amount of first-class Black Metal like the sonic devastation blasted by such distinct band hailing from the always inspiring Australia.

Best moments of the album: Vexation Through The Golden Sun, Fractricide and Night’s Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Harrowing Cessation.

Released in 2020 Satanath Records/Iron, Blood & Death Corporation

Track listing
1. The Solace Of Death 6:57
2. Apostate 10:05
3. Vexation Through The Golden Sun 10:46
4. Fractricide 4:54
5. Psychotic Reign 7:00
6. Harrowing Cessation 2:30
7. MORS VINCIT OMNIA 2:59
8. Cerulean Last Night 7:34
9. Freezing Moon (Mayhem cover) 6:36
10. Night’s Blood (Dissection cover) 7:10
11. Mourning Palace (Dimmu Borgir cover) 5:36
12. Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone cover) 5:36

Band members
James Edmeades – vocals
Kris Marchant – guitars
Andrew Shiells – guitars, synths
Aretstikapha – piano, synths
Marco Pitrruzzella – drums

Guest musicians
Josh Young – vocals on “Fractricide” and “Psychotic Reign”
Ian McLean – vocals on “Cerulean Last Night”
Ashahalasin – vocals on “Freezing Moon” and “Transilvanian Hunger”

Album Review – Re-Armed / Ignis Aeternum (2020)

A modern, melodic and entertaining album of heavy music about positivity, about constant change and seeing life as it is in every level, directly from Finland into your heart and soul.

Mixing their trademark Melodic Death Metal with classic Death and Thrash Metal and symphonic influences in order to bring to the scene a more vibrant and modern sound, Kerava, Finland-based unity Re-Armed has been on a constant evolution since their inception in 2001, moving from what’s usually known as the Gothenburg sound to their current shape and form, culminating with the release of their brand new album Ignis Aeternum, the fourth full-length opus in their solid career. Produced and recorded at Studio UG and mixed at ShedStudios in Kerava,  mastered at Audiamond in Niinikoski, Finland, and featuring a caustic and grim artwork by Brazilian artist Romulo Dias, Ignis Aeternum is about positivity, about constant change and seeing life as it is in every level. It is a trip, a breathtaking view about life’s diversity, and an ode to life, all embraced by the slashing metal music blasted by frontman Jouni Matilainen, guitarists Allan Välimaa and Oskari Niekka, bassist Juhana Heinonen and drummer Iiro Karjalainen with tons of precision, dexterity and feeling, just the way we like it in Melodic Death Metal.

It’s time to put the pedal to the metal together with the guys from Re-Armed in the epic and insurgent Dive Within, with Iiro sounding absolutely bestial on drums, providing his bandmates all they need to kick some serious ass with their respective sonic weapons, spiced up by a beautiful ending featuring a stanza taken from Eino Leino’s poem “Hymni Tulelle”. Then we’re treated to more of the melodic and electrifying sounds crafted by the quintet in Beyond the Horizon, sounding futuristic and extremely sharp while Allan and Oskari fire some Arch Enemy-inspired riffs accompanied by the whimsical keys by guest Sami Tiittanen; and the rumbling bass jabs by Juhana kick off the vibrant Melodic Death Metal extravaganza titled Ode to Life, featuring guest guitarist Euge Valovirta (CyHra, Godsplague), a song perfect for breaking your neck headbanging where their razor-edged guitars are nicely complemented by all epic background elements.

Gentle piano notes quickly explode into violent and atmospheric Melodic Metal in Eager to Collapse, with Iiro and Juhana bringing thunder and groove to the music while Jouni keeps vociferating rabidly, whereas Resistance is even darker and more epic than its predecessors, led by the vile riffage by Allan and Oskari while their bandmates add an extra touch of progressiveness, rage and heaviness to the overall result, inspiring us all to slam into the circle pit. Spiced up by futuristic background keys and tones, the band offers the thrilling The Hollow Lights, blending their trademark Melodic Death Metal with the most venomous elements from Death and Thrash Metal, flowing majestically until its climatic ending, while in Remain Unbounded the band’s guitar duo shreds their strings mercilessly until Iiro comes crushing with his Black Metal-inspired beats, keeping the song at a high level of violence and alternating between vicious, high-speed moments and more intricate, mid-tempo passages.

Get ready to bang your heads like there’s no tomorrow with Re-Armed in Words Left Unsaid, where the bass punches by Juhana will make your skull tremble while Jouni’s growls and roars sound as heavy as hell from start to finish. Following this vicious onrush of sounds the band brings forward Voyager, another solid composition showcasing all their talent and passion for Scandinavian metal, with Jouni and guest vocalist Micko Hell (Denigrate, Gloomy Grim) making a thrilling metallic duet on vocals while Iiro once again shines with his spot-on drumming. Lastly, Re-Armed conclude such great album of heavy music with another sample of their endless energy and firepower in the form of Built to Last, where Allan and Oskari are in absolute sync with Sami’s keys, therefore building the perfect setting for Jouni to thrive with his wicked gnarls until the song end’s in sheer melancholy.

In order to show your utmost support to those talented metallers from the land of ice and snow, simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel and search for them on Spotify for more of their music, and above all that, purchase your favorite version of Ignis Aeternum from several locations such as the Black Lion Records’ BandCamp page and Big Cartel, from Record Shop X, from the EMP store, from IndieMerchstore or from Apple Music. The title of the album translates from Latin as “eternal fire”, and there’s nothing better to represent life as a fire that never ceases to exist no matter what, giving the entire album an even stronger meaning and purpose and, consequently, keeping Re-Armed’s inner fire also burning for many years to come in their homeland and anywhere else where modern and captivating metal music is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Dive Within, Ode to Life and The Hollow Lights.

Worst moments of the album: Eager to Collapse.

Released in 2020 Black Lion Productions

Track listing
1. Dive Within 4:31
2. Beyond the Horizon 5:12
3. Ode to Life 4:10
4. Eager to Collapse 3:47
5. Resistance 4:34
6. The Hollow Lights 4:27
7. Remain Unbounded 5:17
8. Words Left Unsaid 4:37
9. Voyager 5:22
10. Built to Last 4:57

Band members
Jouni Matilainen – lead vocals
Allan Välimaa – guitars
Oskari Niekka – guitars, backing vocals
Juhana Heinonen – bass, backing vocals
Iiro Karjalainen – drums

Guest musicians
Euge Valovirta – guitars on “Ode to Life”
Micko Hell – additional vocals on “Voyager”
Sami Tiittanen – keyboards
Aapo Salo – orchestra, symphonic arrangements

Album Review – Senescere / Alive But Somewhere Else (2020)

Focusing on struggling with the pain of loss, the new album by this Maryland-based metal band reflects all the dynamism and difficulties faced during all stages of grief.

Originally formed as an instrumental and acoustic solo project by vocalist and guitarist Alden Bradstock (Seventh Seal) in 2014, Westminster, Maryland-based Melodic Death Metal act Senescere grew into a full band with the addition of three new members in 2016, Nathan Heavel on bass, Andy Stark on drums and Josh Clark on additional vocals (all from bands such as Seventh Seal and Vestascension), allowing Alden to expand the band’s musical reach to a more aggressive and abrasive sound in their brand new opus Alive But Somewhere Else. Produced by Alden and Josh themselves, engineered and mixed by Josh at Dark Hollow Studio, mastered by Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studio, and featuring a stylish cover photograph by Mandy Martz Chappell, the album focuses on struggling with grief, turning to unhealthy sources of comfort and creating a false sense of happiness to deal with a loss. As stated by Alden himself, “loss and aging have been the central theme of this project since the beginning. I think I’ll always find some inspiration there, and new ways of looking at the pain and struggles it can bring. There are all kinds of faces and stages of grief. It’s dynamic, it isn’t always dark and miserable. It’s deceptive and difficult to categorize. I wanted the music to reflect this somehow, and I think that’s why I enjoy mixing multiple styles and varying intensity in the songwriting. It’s allowed to be extra melodic and catchy at times, just as it’s allowed to dive into blasting drums and tremolo picking if the song calls for it.”

And the smooth guitar lines by Alden ignite the atmospheric intro Freezing Of The Hillside, setting the stage for the band to stun us all in Lost In The Cold, where Alden’s deep guttural roars walk hand in hand with the classic beats by Andy, blending elements from Groove and Progressive Metal with their trademark Melodic Death Metal. Then speeding things up and enhancing their rage the quartet blasts the thrilling The Low Clouds, bringing forward dark and pensive lyrics (“Here I, as a loner / Do feel the texture of the edge / Tracing paths for days on end / A crisp and jagged line / So easy to step over / So welcoming to fall from”) and the usual strength and fury from Scandinavian metal, followed by Alive, clearly inspired by the modern and melodic metal music played by bands like Insomnium and Amorphis, with Alden growling with tons of anguish while Nathan and Andy give a lesson in groove and intricacy with their respective instruments, not to mention Josh’s spot on backing vocals.

After such powerful display of metal music, simply sit down, relax and let the enfolding lines from the instrumental piece Melted penetrate deep inside your mind before a wall of sounds smashes your senses in the fantastic Resonate, where Alden’s crisp riffs are beautifully complemented by the low-tuned bass by Nathan, exhaling progressiveness and feeling and all spiced by Alden’s piercing guitar solo; whereas Alden and Josh make a fantastic vocal duet in Aging Affinity, blending the visceral and violent sounds of classic Death Metal with the harmony and complexity of more modern styles, ending in a cryptic and atmospheric way. Heartspace is perfect for slamming into the circle pit while at the same time enjoying the sharp and intricate beats by Andy and the thunderous bass lines by Nathan, resulting in another ode to contemporary Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal that ends up warming up our senses for almost ten minutes of Senescere’s wicked music in Moon And Sun, where the band’s razor-edged riffs, pounding drums and obscure vocals invite the listener to an exciting metal voyage in what’s by far the most progressive and detailed of all songs, even bringing hints of Black Metal and putting an introspective and climatic ending to the album.

Highly recommended for fans of the melodic and pensive heavy music played by renowned acts the likes of Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis, Opeth, Katatonia and Insomnium, among several others, Alive But Somewhere Else can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to Alden and his henchmen you should definitely purchase a copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for news, tour dates and more of their classy music, helping you cope with loss and pain to the sound of our beloved Heavy Metal and, therefore, keeping Alden and his Senescere beyond inspired to create more of their multi-layered and meaningful music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Lost In The Cold, The Low Clouds and Resonate.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Freezing Of The Hillside 2:54
2. Lost In The Cold 4:12
3. The Low Clouds 5:36
4. Alive 3:36
5. Melted 2:13
6. Resonate 3:54
7. Aging Affinity 4:26
8. Heartspace 3:55
9. Moon And Sun 9:34

Band members
Alden Bradstock – guitars, vocals
Nathan Heavel – bass
Andy Stark – drums
Josh Clark – additional vocals

Album Review – Deified / Anthrobscene EP (2020)

Playing dark, angry, philosophical and downright nihilistic Groove Metal, this UK-based outfit is ready to discuss everything that’s wrong in our society with their brand new EP.

Playing a dark, angry, philosophical and downright nihilistic fusion of Groove Metal, Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal since their inception in 2013, reflecting on some of the worst parts of today’s status quo and always targeting key political figures, nuclear annihilation and conscious degradation, Merseyside, England-based outfit Deified is unleashing upon humanity their third EP and fourth official album (taking into account their 2015 full-length opus Ascension), entitled Anthrobscene, following up on their critically acclaimed 2018 EP Inhuman Manifesto. A time capsule discussing modern times, Anthrobscene doesn’t hold back with its commentary on social media, the digital revolution, mental health, climate change, politics and more, showcasing all the talent and rage from frontman Jamie Hughes, guitarists Matthew Pike (who also produced, mixed and mastered the album) and Alistair Blackhall, bassist Tom Simm and drummer Jordan Stanley-Jones and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of the caustic metal blasted by renowned bands like Lamb Of God and Sylosis.

The cinematic intro Prelude heightens our senses for the acid Dark Desires, a visceral Lamb Of God-inspired tune where Jamie roars demonically accompanied by the razor-edged riffs by Matthew and Alistair, resulting in a high-speed dirty extravaganza overflowing madness and wrath, not to mention how Tom and Jordan give a lesson in groove with their respective bass and drums. Then it’s  time to bang our heads to the strident and melodic Broken Matrix, a modern-day Melodic Death and Groove Metal for the masses showcasing an ass-kicking shredding and classic beats, providing Jamie all he needs to bark like a beast, whereas sounding like a stone crusher on drums Jordan dictates the rhythm in Enemies Within, while Jamie declaims the song’s austere lyrics and Matthew and Alistair once again demolish our minds with their unrelenting guitars, all spiced up by Tom’s rumbling bass lines.

Following such electrifying display of modern metal music, a brief, futuristic Intermission sets the stage for Deified to kill once again in the frantic and sharper-than-a-knife Apotheosis/Rebirth, where the entire band sounds furious and vile from start to finish, with Jamie taking the lead with his maniacal vocals while Tom and Jordan make the earth tremble with their avalanche of low-tuned and thunderous sounds. The second to last blast of Deified’s well-balanced music comes in the form of Blood Under the Bridge, where the band’s stringed trio is on absolute fire with their riffage and thunderous bass jabs, sounding absolutely perfect for headbanging nonstop or crushing your skull into the pit, consequently keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline, before the closing song An Ode to Armageddon comes ripping with its epic start and its explosion of fulminating Groove Metal, or in other words, it’s an instrumental outro showcasing crisp riffs, piercing solos and endless stamina flowing from its bass and drums for our total delight.

In a nutshell, it’s impressive how dynamic, versatile and meaningful Deified were able to sound in only 28 minutes of music in Anthrobscene, proving how skillful the band is and why they’ve been on a roll since they started back in 2013, having already being crowned the winners of Bloodstock M2TM in 2015 and having already toured with iconic bands the likes of Cattle Decapitation, Exodus, Incite and Krysthla. Hence, don’t forget to show the guys from Deified your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel and, above all, to grab your copy of their brand new EP from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Anthrobscene is about everything we fear the most, and at the same time about everything we can’t live without, showing how rotten our minds are and, of course, how heavy music is yet again one of the best ways to represent all that’s wrong with the society we live in, and we must thank the guys from Deified for offering us metalheads such high quality and honest music with each and every single one of their albums.

Best moments of the album: Dark Desires and Apotheosis/Rebirth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Prelude 1:01
2. Dark Desires 4:33
3. Broken Matrix 4:05
4. Enemies Within 3:49
5. Intermission 0:48
6. Apotheosis/Rebirth 5:18
7. Blood Under the Bridge 5:40
8. An Ode to Armageddon 3:04

Band members
Jamie Hughes – vocals
Matthew Pike – guitars
Alistair Blackhall – guitars
Tom Simm – bass
Jordan Stanley-Jones – drums

Album Review – MĀRA / Self-Destruct. Survive. Thrive! EP (2020)

It’s time to self-destruct, survive and thrive together with the most dynamic, hardworking and promising unity of the Latvian metal scene.

If you’ve never heard of any metal bands hailing from the Republic of Latvia, a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, you should definitely take a shot at Riga-based Death, Thrash and Groove Metal unity MĀRA, who has just unleashed upon humanity the excellent EP entitled Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, the follow-up to their highly-acclaimed 2018 debut EP Therapy For An Empath. Formed in 2018, the group spearheaded by the ravishing Māra Lisenko together with her bandmates Denis Melnik on the guitars, Dmitry Lisenko on bass and Alberts Mednis on drums has been making a name for themselves since their inception, having already played in several summer festivals and toured all across Europe, also supporting renowned metal acts the likes of Sepultura, Krisiun and Satyricon. In their newborn spawn Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, the quartet offers more of their trademark metallic and industrialized sounds, with each one of the album’s songs bringing a true and self-experienced storyline, therefore inviting us all to find out more about the band and, above all, about ourselves, all embraced by the stylish artwork by Latvian artist Gundega Bārzdaine (Mad Meow Art).

As we face the intro titled Mīļā Māra, or “Dear Māra” in English (as if she was going to start writing a letter to herself), a shamanic and enfolding atmosphere sets the stage for Leaking Guilt, starting in a serene manner guided by gentle piano notes before morphing into visceral and futuristic Melodic Death Metal. Furthermore, Denis is infernal with his riffs, accompanied by the thunderous beats by Alberts and of course by Māra’s sharp fusion of clean vocals and demented roars; followed by Beauty Of Humanity, featuring the iconic Björn Strid (Soilwork) as a guest vocalist and presenting lyrics about the decay of mankind (“Brutal truth / Smashes your face against the wall / Cut enough wounds open / To feast on your blood / You’re dragged behind a car / Barely alive / Still asked to smile and hide all your pain”). It’s indeed an electrifying hybrid of Death and Groove Metal, with Dmitry extracting sheer savagery from his rumbling bass.

Then putting the pedal to the metal the quartet pierces our minds with their Arch Enemy-inspired extravaganza titled Religionipulation, by far my favorite track of the EP where Māra is on fire with her enraged growls and gnarls while Denis and Dmitry smash their stringed weapons in great fashion. And an eerie atmosphere ignites the dark and heavy Life Kills (Fear), bringing forward psychological words blasted by Māra (“Eternity passes / Me, blood and the ground / Thoughts of the existence / Rhetoric questions echo / Silence suppresses / Voices in the head scream / Begging for a help / Voice never follows”) while Dmitry adds endless groove and energy to the music with his bass punches. Lastly, featuring guest bassist Jeff Hughell from Six Feet Under, Don’t Look Back In Grief sounds perfect for breaking your neck headbanging, with Māra’s she-demon vocals being once again captivating from start to finish in their fast, furious and modern Death Metal feast.

MĀRA have already been rated #1 for “Brutal Female Fronted Metal” and have scored in the top 6 best EP releases of 2018 with their debut album, which also won the “Album of the Year” award at the 2018 Latvian Metal Music Awards, not to mention that their relentless frontwoman has topped many “Best Female Metal Vocalists” polls in the past couple of years as well as won the “Best Vocalist” award at that same 2018 ceremony. Having said that, it’s more than obvious that the band will continue to pave their path to stardom with Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive!, which you can stream in full on Spotify and purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, an album that might be short in duration with only 21 minutes of music, but that carries an endless amount of energy, feeling and groove spiced up by meaningful and clever lyrics. Hence, don’t forget to follow MĀRA on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, proving you have what it takes to self-destruct, survive and thrive together with Māra and the boys.

Best moments of the album: Religionipulation and Life Kills (Fear).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Intro (Mīļā Māra) 1:01
2. Leaking Guilt 3:44
3. Beauty Of Humanity 4:06
4. Religionipulation 3:44
5. Life Kills (Fear) 4:30
6. Don’t Look Back In Grief 4:14

Band members
Māra Lisenko – vocals
Denis Melnik – guitars
Dmitry Lisenko – bass
Alberts Mednis – drums

Guest musicians
Björn Strid – additional vocals on “Beauty Of Humanity”
Jeff Hughell – additional bass on “Don’t Look Back In Grief”
Artur Georgadze – synths and audio effects

Album Review – Deathing / All Hail The Decay EP (2020)

All hail the classic and straightforward Death Metal crafted by this talented Finnish quartet in their fast, violent and technical debut EP.

Hailing from the small city of Valkeakoski, Finland, not too far from Tampere and the capital Helsinki, a vile and raw Death Metal unity that goes by the straightforward name of Deathing is set to release their debut EP entitled All Hail The Decay, showing all their passion for extreme music through five solid and electrifying compositions. Having their building blocks taken from the ruins of a band named Ruindom in 2014, Deathing are currently formed of Marko Mäkinen on vocals and guitars, Aleksi Tossavainen also on the guitars, Rami Vartiainen on bass and Mikko Kivimäki on drums, highly influenced by Death Metal bands from the 80’s and 90’s while also creating their own style. Hence, the band made it clear that they have never intended to reinvent the wheel of Death Metal or to please everyone with their music, and All Hail The Decay is the perfect example of what they’re capable of doing and the path they are willing to follow with their future releases.

Marko and Aleksi begin to frantically smash their strings in the opening tune Kings of Terror, evolving into a solid Death Metal extravaganza recommended for fans of Death, Unleashed and other iconic bands, not to mention how technical and at the same time violent Mikko sounds on drums. Then a sinister intro revs up our engines for another brutal assault titled Crash & Burn, reminding me of the visceral Melodic Death Metal blasted by At The Gates and early Arch Enemy, with Marko’s furious and demented screams bringing even more adrenaline to the overall result; followed by Dead World Alive, another fast and furious feast of derange roars, slashing riffs and blast beats by Deathing, presenting a great job done once again by Mikko on drums while Marko, Aleksi and Rami are in absolute sync with their stringed weapons. In the excellent Sickness they need a little less than two minutes to pulverize our skulls ruthlessly, sounding perfect for slamming into the circle pit while their guitar riffs penetrate deep inside your skin. Needless to say, it will certainly work fantastically during their live concerts. And lastly, we have a cover version for Blinded By Fear, their personal tribute to one of their biggest idols At The Gates, with their amazing version bringing the rawness and rage of the original one (from their 1995 classic album Slaughter of the Soul) while also displaying the band’s own Finnish twist.

In a nutshell, Deathing are ready to take the world of Death Metal by storm with their honest and solid music, not trying to revolutionize the genre, as already mentioned, but working hard to keep their most beloved type of music alive in their homeland and anywhere else in the world where violent music is appreciated. And in order to show them your personal support and admiration, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, follow them on Instagram, listen to more of their music on Spotify and, above all that, purchase All Hail The Decay from their own BandCamp page (and soon from other retailers like Apple Music). Because you know, whenever a band like Deathing starts playing, we shall all hail Death Metal and bang our heads to the sound of the most violent and austere form of music in the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Crash & Burn and Sickness.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Kings of Terror 3:48
2. Crash & Burn 4:08
3. Dead World Alive 3:39
4. Sickness 1:40
5. Blinded By Fear (At The Gates cover) 2:35

Band members
Marko Mäkinen – vocals, guitars
Aleksi Tossavainen – guitars
Rami Vartiainen – bass
Mikko Kivimäki – drums

Album Review – Trivium / What The Dead Men Say (2020)

It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.

Three years after the release of the excellent The Sin and the Sentence, the unrelenting Matt Heafy on lead vocals and guitar, Corey Beaulieu on guitar and backing vocals, Paolo Gregoletto on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Alex Bent on drums and percussion, collectively known as Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal unity Trivium, return with another round of their always cohesive and breathtaking heavy music in What The Dead Men Say, the ninth studio album and another awesome addition to their undisputed career. Recorded at Studio 606 West in Northridge, Los Angeles, California, engineered, mixed and produced by Josh Wilbur, and mastered by Ted Jensen, What The Dead Men Say brings forward a myriad of styles and sounds that will please fans of all phases of the band, from Melodic Death Metal to Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Thrash Metal and Deathcore. “We’ve found a really great place to exist in this world. We love Melodic Death Metal, we love Death and Black Metal, and we love Hardcore. What the Dead Men Say is everything we do on one record,” commented Matt about their newborn spawn.

Furthermore, like The Sin and the Sentence, the lyrical content on What The Dead Men Say was inspired by modern aspects of life, with the album’s title being taken from a science fiction novella of the same name written by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in Worlds of Tomorrow magazine in June 1964. For instance, “Catastrophist” deals with the theme of humanity in a crisis, “Amongst the Shadows & the Stones” is about the horrors of war, “The Defiant” was inspired by R. Kelly’s documentary and abuse-enabling, “Bending the Arc to Fear” talks about the surveillance aspect of modern society, and so on, with the closing song “The Ones We Leave Behind” being about “running over” people to succeed in life, delivering a powerful message and portraying a whole new meaning in the wake of the 2019–2020 COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, it was more than obvious that the fusion of a precise and powerful music with meaningful lyrics would result in another future classic by Trivium, leaving us eager for more of their always-evolving and never-repetitive music in the years yet to come.

As soon as you hit play, the cinematic instrumental intro IX (a clear reference to the fact that What The Dead Men Say is their ninth full-length album) sets the stage for Matt & Co. to kick some ass with the title-track What the Dead Men Say, where Alex begins crushing his drums with tons of precision and fury accompanied by the scorching riffs by Matt and Corey. Bringing elements from the Progressive and Groove Metal by bands like Lamb Of God added to their core musicality, this is indeed an excellent way to start their new opus, followed by Catastrophist, one of the previously released singles of the album, keeping the groove and electricity flowing from start to finish. Moreover, its razor-edged riffs remind me of some of their compositions from their 2013 album Vengeance Falls, while Paolo makes the earth tremble with his sick bass jabs.

Then it’s time to go absolutely mental to the sound of Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, by far my favorite of all songs, presenting their trademark riffage and solos, intricate beats, tons of breaks and variations and an endless amount of violence in a hybrid of Groove, Heavy and Thrash Metal, with Matt rabidly roaring the song’s lyrics (“Bloodied corpses, broken bones reveal / A throng of clashes crushed, our nightmare sealed / Amongst the shadows and the stones”), whereas the semi-ballad Bleed Into Me, despite the solidness of the instrumental pieces (in special Paolo’s somber bass lines), doesn’t really click and falls flat after a while, but there’s nothing to worry about as this is the only low (or maybe I should say less intense) point of the entire album. And back to their usual high-octane mode the quartet fires the also amazing The Defiant, showcasing Iron Maiden-inspired guitars walking hand in hand with the vicious beats by Alex while at the same time presenting a great balance between Matt’s clean vocals and harsh screams. As a matter of fact, could this be an “alternate” version or a sequel to their classic “The Deceived” due to the sonic similarity between both songs? That’s a question only Matt, Corey, Paolo and Alex can answer, of course.

In the top-of-the-line Sickness Unto You a mellow and melancholic start gradually morphs into a violent metal feast by Trivium, with sheer rage flowing form Matt’s vocals while he and Corey demolish our ears with their razor-edged riffs, both supported by the always thunderous bass by Paolo, whereas Scattering the Ashes can be considered a good example of how diverse their new album is by blending the music from Silence In The Snow with In Waves, once again presenting a solid instrumental and spot-on backing vocals overflowing pure anguish. Then we’re treated to more of their always cryptic lyrics (“A strain of vigilance / Deep roots that all connect / We wait so diligent / Watching you / Watching you”) in Bending the Arc to Fear, starting in a Black and Thrash Metal-ish vibe and sounding perfect for slamming into the pit to the sound of the bestial drums by Alex. On a side note, I personally love the strident and metallic sound of their stringed axes throughout the entire album, enhanced by its crisp and polished overall production. Lastly, closing the album the quartet offers us all the melodic and vibrant The Ones We Left Behind, featuring the rumbling bass by Paolo accompanied by the stunning beats and fills by Alex while Matt and Corey give a lesson in riffs and feeling, concluding the album in a powerful and effective manner.

After listening to What The Dead Men Say in its entirety for a few times, you’ll quickly notice how not only the band’s technique and professionalism, but also their synchronicity, have been growing stronger and stronger through the years, pointing to an even brighter future for Matt and his bandmates in a near future and, therefore, positioning Trivium as one of the driving forces of modern-day metal music, never sounding tiresome nor predictable at all with each one of their releases. Hence, go check what the boys are up to on Facebook and on Instagram (especially because they’re all very active users of most social media platforms), subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, grab your copy of such entertaining album from the Warner Music webstore or click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album (and if you have some extra money go for the Japanese Edition of the album, as it contains two very special acoustic versions for the songs “Bleed Into Me” and “Scattering the Ashes”), raising your horns, banging your head and listening to what the (un)dead men from Trivium have to say through their unparalleled music.

Best moments of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, The Defiant, Sickness Unto You and The Ones We Left Behind.

Worst moments of the album: Bleed Into Me.

Released in 2020 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. IX 1:59
2. What the Dead Men Say 4:45
3. Catastrophist 6:28
4. Amongst the Shadows & the Stones 5:40
5. Bleed Into Me 3:49
6. The Defiant 4:29
7. Sickness Unto You 6:14
8. Scattering the Ashes 3:25
9. Bending the Arc to Fear 4:46
10. The Ones We Left Behind 4:57

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Bleed Into Me (Acoustic version) 3:45
12. Scattering the Ashes (Acoustic version) 3:04

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Album Review – Nuclear Winter / Stormscapes EP (2020)

Taking on a new twist of an already unique blend of Melodic and Industrial Death Metal, a one-man outfit from Zimbabwe descends upon us all again with an exciting new EP.

After only a few short months, Zimbabwean Melodic/Industrial Death Metal one-man outfit Nuclear Winter descends upon us all again ready to blast the world with his fourth release, a relatively short but very enjoyable four-track EP entitled Stormscapes. After the collaboration on his 2019 album Night Shift, Nuclear Winter’s mastermind Gary Stautmeister decided to strike out on his own and mold the four tracks in Stormsacapes alone, taking on a new twist of an already unique blend of Melodic and Industrial Death Metal with Alternative Rock, proving with his new opus that not only can this Harare, Zimbabwe-based multi-instrumentalist create a rare twist on the tried-and-true Melodic Death Metal formula, but he can push his own envelope in new directions and make excellent new material in the process, undoubtedly making Zimbabwe’s metal scene (and Melodeath in general) truly proud of Gary’s project.

After hitting play you’ll be treated to an imposing and industrialized sonority permeating the air in the opening track Hearts of Stone, with Gary crushing his drums and firing incendiary riffs nonstop, therefore living up to the legacy of Industrial Death Metal and also bringing tons of epicness and obscurity to our avid ears. Then shredding his guitar strings in great fashion Gary delivers the even more atmospheric and dense The Wide Water, leaning towards the Symphonic Black Metal played by Dimmu Borgir at times mainly due to all the song’s phantasmagorical background elements, not to mention how devilish and grim his gnarls are. And Gary somehow managed to get even darker and heavier in The Northern Winds, getting closer and closer to traditional Black Metal infused with symphonic and industrial nuances, barking rabidly while at the same time mercilessly smashing his drums and bass, followed by his personal rendition of Frank Sinatra’s biggest hit of all time New York, New York (check the original version HERE). I must admit Nuclear Winter’s version is not only heavy-as-hell, but it also maintains the energy and thrill of the original version, showcasing Gary’s undisputed talent, his passion for the music he plays, and his utmost respect for the classics.

In a nutshell, it’s truly impressive how Gary is capable of generating such bold sound all by himself, and in order to show your support to what’s most probably the most interesting metal project coming from Zimbabwe you should definitely go check what he’s up to on Facebook, on Twitter and on YouTube, and visit his official BandCamp page to listen to and purchase Stormscapes soon, as well as his 2019 effort Night Shift. The only “problem” is that you’ll have to wait until the end of May to listen to the new creations by Gary and his Nuclear Winter, unless of course he releases one of the songs as a single in the coming weeks to give you a better taste of what to expect from Stormscapes, but believe me when I say you’ll instantly get addicted to his music after listening to his upcoming EP, no doubt about that, opening your eyes (and ears) to the rich but yet unexplored Zimbabwean metal scene.

Best moments of the album: The Wide Water and New York, New York.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Hearts of Stone 3:51
2. The Wide Water 3:33
3. The Northern Winds 4:00
4. New York, New York (Frank Sinatra cover) 3:20

Band members
Gary Stautmeister – vocals, all instruments