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

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
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Streema
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Streamitter.com

Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Metal Chick of the Month – Viktoria Viren

She’s armed… and she’s dangerous…

There isn’t a lot of personal details about our metal chick for this month, but I don’t think you’ll really care that much about it as our chosen one kicks some serious ass with her devilish growls, stunning looks and a badass attitude. Furthermore, if you’re a diehard fan of Swedish Melodic Death Metal titans Arch Enemy, nurturing a special admiration for their almost 15 years with the unparalleled screaming queen Angela Gossow on vocals, you’ll certainly have a blast listening to the ravishing singer Viktoria Viren, the frontwoman of Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Evil Drive, bursting her lungs and delivering high-voltage Heavy Metal with her bandmates, proving once again that the importance of women in extreme music is only growing more and more through the years. So keep your eyes and ears open, because whenever you see a “double V” in Melodic Death Metal, you know it’s going to be brutal, thrilling and, obviously, awesome.

Born on November 11, 1988 (I guess) somewhere in Russia (but also Finnish at heart), Viktoria started her career in heavy music at an early stage of her life, singing in various bands from when she was only 14 years old, with her first major festival happening a couple of years later, when she was 16, performing with a Death Metal band at the Vyborg Castle, a Swedish-built medieval fortress originally constructed in the 1290’s and one of the three major castles of Finland, around which the town of Viborg (today in Russia) evolved. You won’t find many videos of Viktoria from her early metal days, except for this 2012 footage of our diva (at that time part of a band named Alistaja, which I couldn’t find any information about) singing Megadeth’s neck-breaking all-time classic Symphony of Destruction, and this one with a band named Soulcrypt at the Vyborg Castle in 2010; however, based on this sole sample of what Viktoria can do with her voice, it’s easy to understand how she quickly progressed in music until reaching her status today with Evil Drive.

“It was 2004 and the only woman in a metal band that I knew of was Angela Gossow”, said Viktoria in one of her interviews, and that’s one of the main reasons why she decided to follow the path of guttural singing in heavy music. She mentioned that she really likes the growling and screaming, that it makes the music more powerful and energetic, and that she feels stronger when doing guttural. Viktoria also said that, although she could be doing some clean singing with Evil Drive, she doesn’t think that can properly transmit the power of their compositions to their fans. We saw something similar happening with Alissa White-Gluz when she left The Agonist and joined Arch Enemy, when she completely ditched her clean vocals and began doing only guttural for Michael Amott’s iconic band due to the nature of their songs and their musical direction. Maybe we’ll see Viktoria doing some clean singing one day, but for now let’s keep enjoying her beastly roars (as if that wasn’t awesome enough for us metalheads).

In regards to her band Evil Drive, I think we might say Viktoria and the band are one single entity. There’s no Viktoria Viren without Evil Drive, and vice-versa. Founded in 2013 in Kotka, a city located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, by Viktoria, her husband and guitarist Ville Wiren (who by the way also plays for Finnish Symphonic Power/Gothic Metal band Domination Black), and drummer Juha Beck, the aim was to set up a band which has not been previously heard. All the musicians in the band have a history in a number of different bands and different genres, therefore incorporating many distinct musical styles into their compositions, sounding like a traditional Melodic Death Metal band with a twist of 80’s style Thrash Metal. When asked about the origin of the name “Evil Drive”, Viktoria mentioned the fusion of those two words has a strong influence on the band’s music, as everything they do and try to achieve is characterized by this name. The word “drive” connects to her love for motorcycles, energy and freedom, while “evil” was a wicked combination found by Viktoria, becoming a simple but powerful name in the end.

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In November 2013, Viktoria and her bandmates Ville Wiren (guitar), Niko Huusari (guitar), Marko Syrjala (bass) and Juha Beck (drums) released their debut self-titled EP, getting a lot of attention not only from the Finnish media, but from critics and fans all over the world. The EP consisted of four original songs that would later become part of their first full-length album, entitled The Land of the Dead, released in January 2016. In the official video for one of the tracks from the EP, the excellent Bullet, you can have a very good taste of what Evil Drive are capable of, providing a clear view of the musical direction the band was going to follow with their upcoming releases. The Land of the Dead, released in the beginning of 2016, contained the four songs from the Evil Drive EP plus six original belligerent tunes that helped cement the name of the band in the metallic scenario worldwide, in special in the world of Melodic Death Metal. You can check their two official videos recorded for the album, one for the song War, and the other for the title-track The Land of the Dead (which can be seen at the end of this essay), showcasing the evolution in their musicality and how their looks and the use of military imagery became a crucial part of the whole concept behind their music. Well, Viktoria and the rest of the band don’t need to worry too much about maintaining their warlike visual always fresh and renovated, as they have a healthy partnership with the highly acclaimed Finnish army supply store Varusteleka, making it easy for them to keep the war going.

In addition to that, the band even had some extra fuel to release the single Anti-Genocide on October 12, 2016, to be featured on their upcoming album which is scheduled to be released sometime this year. The new single, which features the band’s new guitarist Juha-Pekka Pusa (replacing Niko Huusari), offers the listener a different theme and feeling compared to The Land of the Dead, which was all about the current world politics and war, according to Viktoria herself. “The new track is about the history of the American Indians and about the fate they had to face when the white men came and took over their land”, said our gorgeous screamer, and as per the official video for the song you’ll be able to see the band truly immersed themselves in the topic, especially Viktoria with her awesome Indian attire.

As every metal band in the world, it’s when the musicians are performing live on stage that we finally know if the band is worth a place in Valhalla among the metal gods, right? Well, there’s a lot of good quality footage on YouTube where you can check Viktoria kicking fuckin’ ass with her Evil Drive, such as two videos from their first year as a band playing in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 22, 2013 (just click HERE and HERE); playing the song Screaming Soul at the now closed PRKL Club in Helsinki, Finland  on July 17, 2015; paying an awesome tribute to the iconic Lemmy and his Motörhead by playing a cover version of the classic Killed By Death at the traditional pub On The Rocks, also in Helsinki, on January 23, 2016; performing at the Finnish winter festival known as Metal Bath on March 4, 2016 in Hämeenlinna, Finland, as you can see in the songs War and again the Motörhead cover Killed By Death; and more recently playing their newest hymn Anti-Genocide live at Bar Bäkkäri in Helsinki on December 10, 2016.

When questioned if the presence of a frontwoman affects the career of a band, Viktoria said that in the past having a female band member attracted more attention because it was a world dominated predominantly by men, but today that’s not the case anymore. We see more and more talented women taking the stage on par with any male musician, and not only on vocals but in any other instrument. Viktoria also mentioned that over the years women have mastered the art of guttural singing, becoming more prominent in metal and, as a consequence, being more accepted in extreme music than before. She said the combination of factors such as the beauty, the strength and the unpredictability turn a female guttural singer into something mesmerizing, and we must agree with her it’s always astonishing to see a woman that looks delicate at first sight start screaming like a beast and headbanging like a maniac on stage, just like we got used to see with Angela Gossow, Alissa White-Gluz and many other exceptional growlers, don’t you agree?

Lastly, there couldn’t be a better place for Viktoria to live than Finland, a land that breathes Heavy Metal. When asked about how hard it is to find the right musicians in her homeland, our red-haired metaller said it’s actually quite easy to put a band together in Finland, as every other person is a guitarist, a bass player or a drummer, but that’s also extremely challenging to keep the band members working side by side in a productive and friendly way, as everyone has different ideas and visions on writing and making music. As long as Viktoria and her band members are able to keep working as a single powerful unity like what we’ve been witnessing with Evil Drive, the world of heavy music will remain happy and energized for more of her impactful demonic growls, no doubt about that.

Viktoria Viren’s Official Facebook page
Evil Drive’s Official Facebook page
Evil Drive’s Official Twitter
Evil Drive’s Official YouTube channel
Evil Drive’s Official Instagram

“Over the recent years females have shown to master the throat singing just as well as men. I think the interest in us is caused by many different factors: the beautiful, strong and the unpredictable – this is mesmerizing.” – Viktoria Viren

Album Review – Nighon / The Somme (2017)

Inspired by cinematic music and all extreme forms of metal, this up-and-coming Finnish squad presents their new concept album with stories from World War I, World War II and the crisis we see in our world today.

Greatly inspired by cinematic music and all extreme forms of metal, blending darkness with light in a unique and aggressive sound, Finnish Symphonic Shock Metal troopers Nighon are releasing their second full-length opus, entitled The Somme, a concept album with stories from World War I, World War II, the similarities between those events and the crisis we see today in our world. Sounding much more extreme than Nighon’s 2014 debut album Cor Oblivionis, The Somme is supposed to be heard in its entirety without any pauses or breaks, in order to provide the listener an in-depth, detailed view of the whole concept behind the music.

Formed in 2008 in Pietarsaari, Finland, this up-and-coming sextet not only delivers high-end music to metalheads all over the world, but they also host their own podcast called Nighon Propaganda-cast, where the idea is to provide uncensored content and a free flow of information, discussing themes such as literature, politics, several different types of music, nature and arts in general, among others. The diversity of topics found in their podcast will give you an idea of how creative the band is, and how much they’re all willing to explore new ideas and transform everything into good heavy music. Furthermore, if you’re ready to war, The Somme might be the perfect soundtrack for you to rise up, bringing a precise balance between heavy, melodic sounds and a more-than-meaningful content.

The album starts with the ominous intro Marseille 1914, narrating the tragic event that happened on June 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie were shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I by early August that same year. After that history lesson, The Greatest Of Catastrophes (a blend of the outbreak of World War I and the Ukraine crisis) brings forward modern Symphonic Metal with hints of Industrial and Melodic Death Metal, exploding into a thrilling musicality led by the potent clean vocals by Alva Sandström and showcasing a great balance between mechanized sounds and more melodic, powerful lines, therefore enhancing the song’s impact. The Dirge goes straight to the point, being utterly ferocious through the growls by Nico Häggblom and the brutal riffs by Michael Mikander and Björn Johansson, not to mention how potently the bass by Mats Ödahl will hit you in the face, with Alva once again bringing  light to all darkness blasted by the rest of the band. And just as symphonic and rampant as its predecessor, Lest We Forget presents all instruments exhaling a truly metallic vibe, in special the bass lines by Mats and the nonstop beats by Mika Paananen. However, in my opinion the only problem is that the song never decides if it’s a power ballad or a traditional heavy tune, getting a bit confusing at times.

Medic works as an eerie bridge to the vicious Blow Them To Hell, an aggressive composition tailored for fans of Dimmu Borgir where Nico growls deeper than ever, while Mika continues to deliver his arsenal of blast beats, not to mention the elements from Black Metal added to the musicality which end up increasing the song’s overall darkness even more. During World War II, there was a German naval base along the Kåfjorden, which branches off the main Altafjord, another short, ominous bridge to Scharnhorst, inspired by a battleship from Nazi Germany and displaying a well-balanced fusion of modern metal music and old school Death and Black Metal. Michael, Björn and Mats make sure our necks break in half with the headbanging sounds coming from their strings, with the musicality also presenting a good amount of epicness to help the band tell the desired story during the song’s almost nine minutes.

Leaning towards traditional Melodic Death Metal with hints of Industrial Metal (which ends up giving it a more menacing aura), Reclaiming Ravenpoint presents an amazing vocal duo by Nico and Alva, with their harsh growls and clean vocals complementing each other’s performance beautifully. Even weirder than the other instrumental passages and bridges, You Do Not Know What The Night May Bring consists of a phantom voice repeating the song’s name like a mantra, before the neck-breaking chant Minor Secundus comes crushing with its amazing guitars, bass and drums. However, what seems to be pure heaviness evolves into a more melodic sonority thanks to the vocals by Alva and the song’s electrifying vibe, which only makes the whole experience of listening to such excellent tune even better.

Tragédie reminds me of some of the best songs by Lacuna Coil, being one of the fastest and most dynamic of all songs with Nico firing his hellish screams in contrast with Alva’s delicate but potent voice. This full-bodied creation by Nighon not only feels like a movie score, but Mika’s precise performance once again on drums deserves our humble appreciation. And their dark symphony of war goes on in I Fear For Tomorrow, featuring Mathias Lillmåns (Finntroll, Magenta Harvest, Chthonian), with the extremely aggressive vocal lines and heavier-than-hell riffs being the highlights of the song. Nevertheless, despite being a good composition with a decent pace, it lacks more creativity to ignite the spark inside us metalheads. Lastly, the title-track Somme, inspired by the Battle of the Somme, a battle of World War I fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire, showcases a touching beginning with the mournful sound of the bagpipes signing to the end of the conflict, morphing into a power ballad with Alva leading the music while Michael delivers the most beautiful solo of the entire album, with the music smoothly flowing into an impactful ending.

You can get more details on the music by Nighon at their Facebook page and SoundCloud, and purchase The Somme at the Inverse Records’ webstore, at Record Shop X or on Amazon. It seems that our leaders and rulers never learn the lesson, with the threat of a new war always haunting the innocent in our modern-day society, and if you want to learn a little more about the wars from the past and their outcomes, The Somme might be an interesting source of information for your studies, with the advantage of being loud, fast and heavy, of course.

Best moments of the album: The Greatest Of Catastrophes, The Dirge, Minor Secundus and Tragédie.

Worst moments of the album: Lest We Forget and I Fear For Tomorrow.

Released in 2017 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Marseille 1914 1:24
2. The Greatest Of Catastrophes 4:01
3. The Dirge 4:43
4. Lest We Forget 5:11
5. Medic 0:52
6. Blow Them To Hell 6:03
7. Altafjord 0:44
8. Scharnhorst 8:36
9. Reclaiming Ravenpoint 5:32
10. You Do Not Know What The Night May Bring 2:09
11. Minor Secundus 4:47
12. Tragédie 4:29
13. I Fear For Tomorrow (feat. Mathias Lillmåns) 5:47
14. Somme 7:09

Band members
Nico Häggblom – harsh vocals
Alva Sandström – clean female vocals
Michael Mikander – lead guitar
Björn Johansson – guitar
Mats Ödahl – bass
Mika Paananen – drums

Guest musician
Mathias Lillmåns – additional vocals on “I Fear For Tomorrow”

Album Review – Ritual of Odds / Ritual of IX (2017)

Join the wrathful and mordant ritual spearheaded by the Melodic Death Metal masters of underground Greek music.

Formed in the year of 2003 in Patras, Greece’s third-largest city and the regional capital of Western Greece, Melodic Death Metal quartet Ritual of Odds (known as Existence Edge until 2005) is unleashing upon us their third full-length installment, peculiarly titled Ritual of IX, taking influences from renowned bands such as At The Gates, In Flames and Carcass. Forging a unique sound by infusing elements of Thrash, Horror and Epic Metal into their own musicality, Ritual of Odds will show you with Ritual of IX why they’ve been called the “Melodic Death Metal Masters of Greece”, blasting a high-quality fusion of harmony and havoc throughout the album’s ten unrelenting compositions.

One curious fact about the band is that, before Ritual of IX, their two previous full-length albums were released on the same year, in 2010, those being Underverse and God is an Atheist (not to mention their highly acclaimed demo entitled Building Up the Underverse, from 2008). In addition, the band has already toured Europe and the United States to support the release of their albums, sharing the stage with important names like Paul Di’Anno, Septicflesh and Nightrage. With such a strong background both inside the studio and on the road, it isn’t a surprise to anyone that the music found in Ritual of IX would sound so cohesive and energetic, reinforcing the band’s importance in contemporary Melodic Death Metal.

Tailored for fans of the modern metal played by Arch Enemy blended with old school In Flames, the title-track Ritual of 9 offers a constant and aggressive drumming by Petros Haritos, while the vocals by Kostas Fotopoulos lean towards a more visceral fusion of Death and Black Metal, inviting the listener to the band’s own ritual (“Deteriorated in agony – Screw it all and gone with me / There’s no escape / Insanity / The limitless eternity / A life infected with vanity? / Welcome to a new reality / Wither and die? – Ritual of 9 / This is the ritual of 9”). In Hunt You Down, a somber beginning flows into an atmospheric, dark composition where a possessed Kostas leads his bandmates in an extremely vile onslaught, with guitarist Nikolas Perlepes delivering some classic melodic and headbanging riffs; followed by Feargas, bringing elements from Progressive and Groove Metal while singing about modern-day topics (“Who do you think you are? / Your nations look like herds of sheep / Intoxicated souls with lies and fear / Lethal frequencies radio, TV / Twisted minds tell me how I should be / For fuck sake I’m not a part of your army of zombies”). Moreover, the infernal gnarls by Kostas are powerfully supported by the rhythmic and heavy beats by Petros during the entire song.

Displaying a great name for a metal tune, Hate at First Sight presents a weird intro with excerpts from different TV and radio news, quickly turning into more pounding music by these talented Greeks. In a nutshell, this is the type of song made to lacerate your neck headbanging, with its drums sounding like a machine gun. Sirens in the background warn Ritual of Odds are coming to crush with their violent metal music in A Part of Me, showcasing a modernized sonority thanks to the guitar lines by Nikolas, but of course without losing the essence of Melodic Death Metal. And following almost the same tone and pace as its predecessor we have Digital Hell, a fantastic song to make people jump up and down during their live concerts with the bass lines by Marios Kanellopoulos emanating those thunderous, groovy sounds that beautifully increase the song’s impact.

The kick-ass neck-breaking tune Why So Serious is their personal tribute to the iconic Joker played by Heath Ledger (R.I.P.), with its intro (and chorus) being inspired by one of the most memorable scenes in the history of action movies, while the music itself is as violent and demented as the Joker, especially through the deep growling by Kostas. Put differently, how not to enjoy this smashing creation by Ritual of Odds? And there’s more of the band’s stabbing musicality, as the riffs in the fast and berserk Greed exhale pure metal, also presenting very harmonious guitar lines and nonstop beats, which altogether will work really well when the song is played live, whereas The Dual Substance of Man, also sounding modern and old school at the same time, is perhaps the closest one to traditional Death Metal, with Nikolas having a great performance with his riffs and solos. Lastly, in the eerie and obscure What I’ve Become, a psychological song about violence, death, hatred and all other “nice things” that transform the human being into a beast, a solid instrumental provides Kostas exactly what’s needed for his vocals to get more deranged and pugnacious.

After listening to the potent music by Ritual of Odds, I’m sure you’ll be more than eager to be part of the band’s melodic and vicious ritual, and that’s why I’m going to be very helpful by providing you the links to their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation. And, as usual, you can support Greek metal and heavy music in general by grabbing your copy of Ritual of IX at the Swimming With Sharks Records’ BandCamp page (which includes as a more-than-amazing bonus a free download of the band’s 2010 album God is an Atheist) or on Amazon. These guys are not called the “Melodic Death Metal Masters of Greece” in vain, and you’ll certainly start referring to them as that after adding Ritual of IX to your private collection of underground metal.

Best moments of the album: Ritual of 9, Digital Hell and Why So Serious.

Worst moments of the album: The Dual Substance of Man.

Released in 2017 Swimming With Sharks Records

Track listing
1. Ritual of 9 3:15
2. Hunt You Down 5:38
3. Feargas 3:54
4. Hate at First Sight 4:09
5. A Part of Me 3:20
6. Digital Hell 3:36
7. Why So Serious 4:12
8. Greed 3:40
9. The Dual Substance of Man 3:23
10. What I’ve Become 5:49

Band members
Kostas Fotopoulos – vocals
Nikolas Perlepes – guitars
Marios Kanellopoulos – bass
Petros Haritos – drums

Album Review – Scenario II / A New Dawn (2017)

There’s a new dawn rising in the world of melodic extreme music thanks to a talented Dutch sextet who will guide you through dark scenarios of a post-apocalyptic world in their new album.

Rating4

s2_and_front_hrOriginating from Eindhoven, a city in the province of North Brabant in the south Netherlands known as the birthplace of Philips electronics, Melodic Dark Death/Thrash Metal act Scenario II aims at crafting distinguished heavy music for fans of the genre, always bringing spherical melodies fashioned with the frequent use of female vocals, grunts, twin guitars, quick riffs and killer drums. Inspired by bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir and Amorphis, the band will guide you through dark scenarios of a post-apocalyptic world in their new album, titled A New Dawn, comprised of eleven full-bodied compositions showcasing all the refined skills of each musician involved.

Since their inception in 2006 from the ashes of another Dutch band named Aura, Scenario II have acquired excellent recognition in the underground of metal music, with very positive reviews stemming from their debut album Uniforms of Death, released in 2009. That considerable success led the band to share the stage with renowned acts such as Volbeat, Dark Tranquillity, Anathema, Testament, Trail of Tears and Moonspell, among others, energizing the band to keep moving forward and keep writing new material for their fans, therefore culminating with the release of A New Dawn. In addition to that, Scenario II might be one of the most democratic bands in the world of heavy music, having three men and three women in their lineup, proving once again that it doesn’t matter your gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation, you are always welcome in heavy music.

The ominous and cinematic intro The Darkest Hour introduces us to the post-apocalyptic landscape proposed by the band, with the title-track A New Dawn and its metallic guitars a la Terminator by Mark van Doren and Simone van Straten, together with the harsh growls by Bas de Kruyff and the angelic voice of Myrthe van Beest, generating a modern Melodic Death Metal feast with Symphonic and Black Metal elements that will please all types of metalheads in the world. Supremacy begins in an atmospheric way, with the growls by Bas de Kruyff giving a nice touch of aggressiveness to the musicality while bassist Liza Hoek and drummer Bas van den Boom maintain a thunderous sound in the background; followed by the heavy Awake, a visceral Melodic Death Metal tune with the gentle vocals by Myrthe bringing harmony to the music.Moreover, both Mark and Simone have excellent performances with their sharp riffs, which together with the electronic and symphonic elements, as well as the song’s hellish atmosphere, make it one of the best of the album.

scenarioii_largeRapture follows the aggressive path of its predecessor, being a dense composition showcasing elements of Melodic Death Metal, Symphonic Black Metal and sheer Black Metal, in special its guitar lines, with Bas van den Boom being once again very technical behind his drums, never letting the energy level go down. Then we have the serene, atmospheric instrumental bridge The Promised Wasteland, building a direct link with Hysteria, an epic and symphonic creation by Scenario II, bursting despair and anger through the potent screams by Bas de Kruyff, with the vocals by Myrthe bringing yet again peace to our souls. And flirting with old school Death Metal we have Endgame, again displaying a solid performance by Bas van den Boom on drums, who together with Mark and Simone fire tons of progressiveness through their instruments, enhancing the song’s taste and electricity, not to mention all its breaks and variations which help turn it into the best of all songs in my opinion.

The whole album exhales rage and hopelessness, and in Disclosure it couldn’t be different than that, with Bas de Kruyff and Myrthe being in great sync complementing each other’s vocals, while Liza blasts her bass guitar in a delicate but powerful way. In Nocturnal, we face a heavy and flammable sonority thanks to the guitars by Mark and Simone, as well as the rhythmic and blast beats by Bas van den Boom; and it doesn’t matter how fast or slow the music is, the band always keeps a sinister and obscure atmosphere in the background. Last but not least, the ferocious but very melodic Stand Ablaze, a climatic ending to a very professional and exciting metal album, blends the harmony of Melodic Death Metal with the potency of Epic Metal, with Bas de Kruyff leading the musicality with his precise growls.

There’s a new dawn rising in the world of melodic extreme music thanks to this talented Dutch sextet, and if you want to know more about Scenario II you can visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud. You can grab your copy of A New Dawn at the band’s official webshop in digital or physical format, as well as through their BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. The post-apocalyptic music blasted by Scenario II in A New Dawn keeps up with the legacy of Dutch metal, being harmonious, heavy and gripping at the same time, and it will surely maintain their inner fire burning for more amazing music in the following years, which is always what we want to see when the band in question is as talented as this up-and-coming squad.

Best moments of the album: A New Dawn, Awake and Endgame.

Worst moments of the album: Supremacy.

Released in 2017 Hysteria Music

Track listing
1. The Darkest Hour 2:09
2. A New Dawn 5:16
3. Supremacy 4:12
4. Awake 4:06
5. Rapture 4:46
6. The Promised Wasteland 1:48
7. Hysteria 5:11
8. Endgame 5:19
9. Disclosure 5:32
10. Nocturnal 4:30
11. Stand Ablaze 4:04

Band members
Myrthe van Beest – female vocals
Bas de Kruyff – vocals
Mark van Doren – guitars
Simone van Straten – guitars
Liza Hoek – bass
Bas van den Boom – drums

Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio Promo Hour Of The Day – From Monday To Friday @ 8pm GMT

http://midnight-madness.is-a-rockstar.com/Great news for all of you metalheads!

FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8pm GMT, one of our kick-ass partners, Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, broadcasting directly from London, England, will blast the best of underground metal music reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose during the PROMO HOUR OF THE DAY!

So remember, FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8PM GMT tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to get your daily shot of the cream of the underground metal music crop, from Hard Rock to Black Metal, from Folk Metal to Thrash Metal, from Doom Metal to Metalcore, and so on! You’ll have the unique pleasure of listening to the superb music by bands like Charm Designer, Neverworld, Majesty Of Revival, Nervosa, False Coda, Atonismen, Diabolizer, The Silent Rage, Terrifier, Gaerea, and tons of other amazing metal acts from all over the world!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
Twitter
Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Gothic / Demons (2017)

One of the most respected bands in the history of Romanian metal powerfully unleashes their “demons” upon mankind with their heavy and melodic new album.

Rating4

gothic-demonsEstablished back in 1992 by guitarist and singer Alin Petrut in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, Romania, Melodic Death Metal band Gothic has quickly become one of the most respected metal bands in the country, having played alongside giants like Manowar, Dimmu Borgir, Europe, Korpiklaani, Gojira and Napalm Death, among many others. Even after changing the band’s name to Ali(e)n and then to Innerfire in 2003 when Alin re-located the band to Belgium, the band kept building a strong reputation among metalheads all over Europe, returning to their hometown Petrosani in 2005 again under the name Gothic (as a separate entity from the still-active Innerfire) and culminating with their participation in the 2012 edition of Wacken Open Air after winning the Romanian finals of Wacken Metal Battle that year.

Exactly 25 years after the band’s inception, Alin and his Gothic are back with Demons, their first full-length album since their 2013 release Expect the Worst. Displaying a darkly beautiful artwork by the band’s own bassist Csaba “Taly” Talpai, and featuring for the first time George Lazar on harsh vocals and Vlad Golgotiu on drums, Demons is definitely Gothic’s most professional and multilayered album to date, blending the classic sonority from the band’s extensive career together with fresh new elements from modern metal music. After listening to this cohesive and melodic album, it won’t be hard for you to understand why Gothic play such an important part in the history of Romanian metal.

In the opening track Shadow Man you’ll quickly notice their musicality is not really “Gothic” as the band’s name states, but fast, melodic and aggressive music, a great mix of traditional Death Metal with contemporary Melodic Death Metal where Alin delivers some sick, heavy riffs while George blasts pure fury through his guttural growls; followed by the excellent Disillusion, also exhibiting a similar Heavy/Death Metal hybrid vibe. This song presents a good headbanging pace with neck-breaking riffs by Alin, getting symphonic and futuristic at times due to the spot-on keyboards by Florian Lysy, not to mention its vengeful lyrics (“We grew apart / Betrayed our hearts / Our souls are black / Our minds are flack / You wanted that / Now take it back in your face”).

gothicIn the first single of the album, the title-track Demons, Alin, Taly and Vlad add a lot of groove and heaviness to the musicality, setting the stage for George to growl even deeper, feeling like a mix of Hard Rock with Gothic, Doom and Melodic Death Metal ideal for the song’s lyrics (“I feel their breath inside my dream / The darkness stains around me / A web of black, surrounding scent / The night is growing senseless.”). In Catacombs, which starts in a pleasant, harmonious and exciting way with Taly blasting a thunderous sound from his bass guitar, we face a magnificent balance between the havoc generated by all band members and the extremely melodic guitar solos and keyboards, whereas in Time, an upbeat composition by Alin and his henchmen, Vlad delivers precision and anger through his beats, and despite losing a bit of its electricity in the end it’s still a very enjoyable song.

Destroying the Masses, a powerful chant where Gothic displays their darkest side, brings forward a menacing atmosphere and deep guttural vocals closer to old school Death Metal, while modernity comes from the metallic riffs by Alin. And it seems the band really wants to crush our necks with their sick riffs and beats in From Within, with elements from traditional Heavy Metal added to its Melodic Death Metal sonority to make it even more harmonious. Last but not least we have A New End, a melancholic and passionate composition sung entirely in Romanian (which in my opinion is an interesting variation from the rest of the album) and featuring guest vocalist Klaus Pardos, offering the listener the heaviest version of modern Hard Rock you can think of.

Are you ready to face the heavy music engendered by these talented Romanian demons? If your answer is yes, you can follow all things Gothic at their official Facebook page and check their latest videos (including some fun tour diaries) at their YouTube channel, as well as purchase Demons at Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webstore. Gothic are unleashing their high-end Melodic Death Metal upon mankind with their brand new album, and if I were you I wouldn’t miss this great opportunity to get in touch with the music by such respected underground band.

Best moments of the album: Disillusion, Catacombs and Destroying the Masses.

Worst moments of the album: Time.

Released in 2017 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. Shadow Man 5:01
2. Disillusion 5:42
3. Demons 3:53
4. Catacombs 6:04
5. Time 4:55
6. Destroying the Masses 4:34
7. From Within 4:04
8. A New End (feat. Klaus Pardos) 5:13

Band members
Alin Petrut – guitar, clean vocals
George Lazar – harsh vocals
Csaba “Taly” Talpai – bass
Vlad Golgotiu – drums

Guest musician
Florian Lysy – keyboards
Klaus Pardos – vocals on “A New End”