Album Review – Hiss From The Moat / The Harrier (2019)

A first-class album of Black and Death Metal made in Italy, inspired by the true harriers of our society such as politics, religion and dictatorship.

In case you’re not familiar with the brutality and rage of Italian Black/Death Metal horde Hiss From The Moat, the band was founded in 2006 by drummer James Payne (Vital Remains, Hour of Penance) with two Italian friends, bassist Carlo Cremascoli and guitarist Giacomo Poli, delivering a stream of very interesting releases since their inception, starting with their debut EP The Carved Flesh Message, in 2009, followed by their first full-length album Misanthropy, in 2013, eventually adding vocalist and guitarist Massimilano Cirelli to their lineup, and now their sophomore full-length opus The Harrier, in 2019. Regarding the album’s title, Mr. Payne says, “The Harrier refers to he who devastates. It’s not intended as someone whom we created to destroy, but rather to indicate everything that has devastated our history, like politics, religion and dictatorship etc. That’s why we used extracts of religious and political scripts in the lyrics.”

Based in the cities of Los Angeles (United States), London (England) and Milan (Italy), this multinational entity has recently issued a series of videos through their YouTube channel showing the band working on the recording of The Harrier in the city of Milan, therefore demonstrating their passion for what they do and a desire to be as honest and transparent as possible with their fans. Furthermore, regarding the album’s artwork designed by Stefano Bonora, Mr. Payne said that “the artwork of the album is defined by three elements: a head of a statue that represents the blind and apathetic attitude of mankind; the mechanical mask on top of the head that represents the institutions that oppress people (similar to the belt on the statue’s mouth and the crosses as blinders); and the alchemical circles that have the meaning of improving mankind through the mind and the body, to promote self-improvement without looking for external help,” just to give you an idea of how obscure and austere their music is.

The cryptic and serene intro The Badial Despondency suddenly explodes into the bestial title-track The Harrier, where the quartet begins pulverizing everything and everyone that crosses their path. Furthermore, James is unstoppable on drums, while Massimiliano roars the song’s dark lyrics manically from start to finish, and brutality and rage keep flowing from all instruments in I Will Rise, a beyond electrifying Melodic Black Metal tune where the guitars by both Massimiliano and Giacomo sound infernal, not to mention how fast, precise and ruthless James is on drums. Then some sort of “dark poem” is recited by Massimiliano before all hell breaks loose in The Passage To Hell, bringing not even a single second of peace for us to breathe, only sheer devastation in the form of classic Black Metal, with James once again hammering our heads with his hellish and intricate drumming.

Slaves To War is just as demonic as its predecessor, showcasing sick guitar riffs, endless violence and a sulfurous atmosphere only modern Black Metal can offer you, keeping the album on fire before the band comes ripping our hearts out with the magnificent Sine Animvs, a lecture in modern-day Melodic Black Metal infused with Death Metal nuances, close to the Blackened Death Metal blasted by the iconic Behemoth. Hence, it’s absolutely impossible to stand still to the incendiary riffs by the band’s guitar duo. In the interlude titled The Abandonment, acoustic guitars work as the “calm before the storm”, warming up our senses for The Allegory of Upheaval, another straightforward creation by those Italian metallers alternating between very complex and interesting moments and less inspired passages. It’s still a very good song though, proving how powerful the band always sounds.

Then we have another one of my favorite tracks, God Nephasto, and James himself had a few nice words to say about it. “The song is one of the most intense of the album as far as rhythm and atmosphere,” explained our talented drummer. “It has several parts of blast beats and breakdowns that combined with the dark atmosphere of the notes keep the song pretty nervous. This is to support the lyrics that have been taken from parts of the Enuma Elish and the Old Testament that talk about when the Gods mentioned in these scripts, ordered sacrifices in their honor.” Musically speaking, it’s a visceral sonic havoc that will please all fans of the genre, sounding crisp, thunderous and menacing, with highlights to Massimilano’s infernal growls and obviously to James’ demolishing beats. Their second to last Black Metal extravaganza, entitled Unperishing, is just as demonic and violent as the rest of the album, with its classic riffs and beats bringing endless heaviness to the overall musicality, while Carlo not only extracts thunder from his bass, but he also supports Massimiliano’s vociferations flawlessly with his backing vocals. And there’s still time for one final onrush of blackened sounds for our total delight, named The Decay of Lies, less frantic but as heavy as hell, working at times as a marching outro to such vile album. Needless to say, Massimiliano and Giacomo are absolutely demonic with their guitars from start to finish, ending the album on a high and obscure note.

There are several places where you can get your copy of such amazing album of Black and Death Metal, like the band’s own BandCamp page or Big Cartel, the M-Theory Audio’s webstore in regular CD or limited edition vinyl format, the Napalm Records’ webstore, iTunes, Amazon, and so on. Don’t forget to also follow Hiss From The Moat on Facebook, and to worship darkness to the sound of their crushing extreme music, always keeping a very good distance from all types of religion and from politics, the true destroyers of our decaying society. and that’s how you craft first-class extreme music, my friends. Music that not only makes you bang your head and raise your horns, but that above all that also makes you think.

Best moments of the album: I Will Rise, Sine Animvs and God Nephasto.

Worst moments of the album: The Allegory of Upheaval.

Released in 2019 M-Theory Audio

Track listing
1. The Badial Despondency 1:24
2. The Harrier 4:00
3. I Will Rise 3:56
4. The Passage To Hell 3:44
5. Slaves To War 4:35
6. Sine Animvs 3:48
7. The Abandonment (Interlude) 3:26
8. The Allegory of Upheaval 4:33
9. God Nephasto 4:12
10. Unperishing 4:46
11. The Decay of Lies 4:48

Band members
Massimilano Cirelli – vocals, guitar
Giacomo Poli – guitar
Carlo Cremascoli – bass, backing vocals
James Payne – drums

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Album Review – Derdian / DNA (2018)

Get ready for over one hour of top-of-the-line Symphonic Power Metal, courtesy of one of the most prominent and skillful bands from the Italian scene.

Hailing from the always fun and vibrant Italian city of Milan, a global capital of fashion and design, here comes one of the most important and most consistent metal acts from the European scene, Symphonic Power Metal squad Derdian, back with another vibrant and well-balanced album titled DNA, the seventh full-length release in their beyond prolific and interesting career. In an era where most renowned bands tend to release only a handful of songs per album, Derdian go against the tide by offering fans of their fusion of symphonic elements and Heavy Metal nothing more, nothing less than over one hour of first-class music split into 13 original songs, proving once again how much they love what they do.

Comprised of Ivan Giannini on vocals, Enrico Pistolese and Dario Radaelli on the guitars, Marco Banfi on bass, Marco Garau on keyboards and Salvatore Giordano on drums, which is the same extremely talented and focused lineup from their previous releases such as their 2014 album Human Reset and their 2016 release Revolution Era, Derdian keep blasting their usual sonic extravaganza full of symphonic layers, epic passages and endless electricity in DNA, all embraced by a crystal clear overall production that enhances the impact of their music even more, turning the experience of listening to DNA a musical orgasm for admirers of the genre.

Abduction, a symphonic-cinematic intro that sounds and feels very serene, sets the stage for Derdian to kick some serious ass with the title-track DNA, a fast and very melodic Power Metal feast inspired by the golden days of Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius, with Ivan showcasing a superb performance on vocals while Marco Garau and Salvatore have a healthy “duel” of delicacy versus stamina with their instruments. After such powerful start the band offers a top-notch Melodic Metal tune for the masses titled False Flag Operation, with its conspiracy theories-inspired lyrics (“It flies along the blue skies / No one knows what’s gonna happen / New York city will have / The right punishment to be / A nest of worms without a faith / Greedy hawks vultures and jackals / Soon the west will got a / Nice surprise to share with me!”) and sheer epicness flowing from the guitars by Enrico and Dario, followed by Never Born, where a smooth start evolves to a feast of harmonious and delicate sounds, but still bringing the traditional electricity of Melodic Power Metal. In addition, this is a great song to sing along with Ivan and the guys, with Enrico, Dario and Marco Banfi giving a lesson in intricacy, melody and feeling with their stringed weapons.

The next track in DNA, called Hail to the Masters, presents a fun fusion of Symphonic Power Metal with Epic and Folk Metal, considerably different from their traditional sonority, with Ivan singing like a true minstrel and with Marco Garau dictating the rhythm with his whimsical keys; while in Red and White, a perfect example of what Melodic Metal is all about, the band gets back to their old school musicality, which means fast and melodic riffs, nonstop drums and another great vocal exhibit by Ivan, flowing smoothly form start to finish. Then we’re treated to a prancing mid-tempo composition entitled Elohim, led by the rhythmic beats by Salvatore and feeling almost a hundred percent Folk Metal at times, before morphing into a Jazz-infused feast of bass punches, keyboard solos and an upbeat vibe. It’s indeed a fantastic and unique side of Derdian, but if that is not entertaining enough for you, we have another powerful tune named Nothing Will Remain for your avid ears, blending elements from classic and symphonic music with modern Progressive Metal, with highlights to the spot-on guitar solos by both Enrico and Dario.

While Fire from the Dust brings what’s perhaps their most aggressive lyrics (“Like a snake crawls out from the rocks / We go out from …this fucking hole / Let the hate becomes a fire / Fire from the dust! / Take the weapons, annihilate them / They are not machines! / Like a snake crawls out from the rocks  / Fire from the dust!”), musically speaking it’s a Symphonic Metal extravaganza tailored for diehard fans of the genre, with the solos by the band’s guitar duo and especially by Marco Garau adding even more electricity to the overall result. Then in Destiny Never Awaits a gentle piano intro evolves into a decent power ballad by this Italian six-piece squad, presenting pleasant guitar lines and potent vocals, but unfortunately never reaching the same electrifying vibe of the rest of the album; whereas in Frame of the End the band delivers a heavier version of their Symphonic Power Metal (it can even be considered a more symphonic and metallic version of the music by Dream Theater in my opinion) spearheaded by Ivan and his passionate and flammable vocal lines, with Stefano also having a precise and groovy performance on drums, not to mention all of the song’s nice breaks and variations. Marco Garau once again kicks things off in a vibrant feast of Melodic Metal titled Part of This World, where not only Enrico and Dario are in total sync with their riffs, but you should also pay attention to how they meticulously add several elements from classical music to their Power Metal. And lastly, as a “bonus” the band offers us a Spanish version for “Nothing Will Remain”, translated to Ya Nada Cambiara, bringing an extra dosage of epicness and an fresh kick to their Symphonic Power Metal.

If you’re not familiar yet with the symphonic and electrifying world of Derdian, you can get more details about the band, their tour dates and their music on Facebook and on YouTube, and purchase a copy of DNA directly from their webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. In a nutshell, DNA is more than just another ass-kicking, thrilling album by this Italian squad that lives and breathes Melodic and Symphonic Power Metal, but a beyond recommended option for anyone who admires some good old Heavy Metal with a precise amount of symphonic elements and an epic aura. Some bands are comprised of talented musicians while others work their asses off to provide good music to the listener, but in the case of Derdian we can say they combine the best of both worlds, with DNA being the perfect depiction of the beautiful thing that happens when you put undisputed talent together with endless amounts of hard work.

Best moments of the album: DNA, Never Born, Elohim and Frame of the End.

Worst moments of the album: Destiny Never Awaits.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Abduction 1:12
2. DNA 5:27
3. False Flag Operation 5:00
4. Never Born 5:43
5. Hail to the Masters 4:27
6. Red and White 5:04
7. Elohim 5:26
8. Nothing Will Remain 5:31
9. Fire from the Dust 6:21
10. Destiny Never Awaits 5:41
11. Frame of the End 5:00
12. Part of This World 6:05
13. Ya Nada Cambiara 5:31

King Records Edition bonus track
14. Never Born (Japanese version) 5:41

Band members
Ivan Giannini – vocals
Enrico Pistolese – guitars
Dario Radaelli – guitars
Marco Banfi – bass
Marco Garau – keyboards
Salvatore Giordano – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Cristina Scabbia

Follow me, follow me… As I trip the darkness…

If you write her name with an “h”, she will kick your ass mercilessly. That’s probably the most fun way to introduce you to our beyond special Metal Chick of the Month, the electrified Italian rocker Cristina Scabbia, one of the most influential and reputable women in the entire world of heavy music and the perfect choice for celebrating four metallic and totally awesome years of The Headbanging Moose webzine this October. Owner of a distinct and very potent voice, Cristina Scabbia, whose full name is Cristina Adriana Chiara Scabbia, was born on June 6, 1972 in the cosmopolitan city of Milan, a metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region and a global capital of fashion and design. Best known as one of the two vocalists for Italian Alternative Rock/Metal band Lacuna Coil, Cristina is not only an accomplished singer and lyricist, but also a writer, a fashion model and, above all, a true headbanger who loves what she does and who has already devoted a good part of her life to Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Cristina was not even 20 years old when she began singing professionally as a touring musician for other bands and providing backing vocals, in 1991. Later that year, she met vocalist Andrea Ferro and bass player Marco Coti Zelati, who would be the future founding members of Lacuna Coil, in Milan’s Midnight Club, and there’s no way of talking about Cristina without talking about her unique connection with Lacuna Coil. Actually, when the band started it was called Sleep of Right, having recorded a song called Bleeding Souls for the Noise of Bolgia compilation in 1995. The band soon changed its name to Ethereal, playing an interesting mix of Gothic and Doom Metal, with Cristina being initially employed only as a session singer, being asked to record backup vocals for the choruses of their demo tape, but the band members liked the way the male and female vocals sounded together and they asked her to be a permanent member then. After several lineup changes and after releasing a two-track demo in 1996, Ethereal were signed by Century Media Records at the end of 1997 and had to change their name to Lacuna Coil (which means “empty spiral”), as Ethereal was already taken by a band from Greece.

After the name change in 1997, Lacuna Coil became a reference in Alternative Rock and Metal worldwide, having already released eight studio albums, those being In a Reverie (1999), Unleashed Memories (2001), Comalies (2002), Karmacode (2006), Shallow Life (2009), Dark Adrenaline (2012), Broken Crown Halo (2014), and more recently Delirium (2016), as well as the EP’s Lacuna Coil (1998), Halflife (2000), Shallow Live: Acoustic at Criminal Records (2010) and The House of Shame / Delirium (2016). In addition to that, the band also released a DVD in 2008, titled Visual Karma (Body, Mind and Soul). Each album by Lacuna Coil is very unique, presenting a different sonority from the others, with the band always adding new elements to their music and experimenting with new sounds. If you want to have a journey through the various phases of the band, paying a detailed attention to the evolution of Cristina (whose highest note ever hit is claimed to be an A7) as a singer and a performer, you should definitely check their songs Falling Again (from In a Reverie), Senzafine (from Unleashed Memories), Swamped (from Comalies), Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence (from Karmacode), I Like It (from Shallow Life), Trip to Darkness (from Dark Adrenaline), Nothing Stands in Our Way (from Broken Crown Halo), and Blood, Tears, Dust (from Delirium). As a matter of fact, there are so many official videos as well as bootlegs online with Cristina and Lacuna Coil you can literally spend hours or even days just watching everything nonstop.

Apart from her solid career with Lacuna Coil, Cristina can be seen in several distinct projects from the most diverse bands and genres, and in all of them she adds her personal touch of rebelliousness, passion and electricity. First let’s talk about her participation in metal-related bands and projects, and then let’s show what she can do when she’s not in her metallic mode. In 2007, Cristina lent her voice to the song S.O.S. (Anything but Love), from the album Worlds Collide by Finnish Symphonic Heavy Metal band Apocalyptica, and the result was so interesting she ended up playing several live concerts with them in the coming years. And it seems the year of 2007 was very fruitful for her career outside Lacuna Coil, as she also recorded what’s probably her biggest non-Lacuna Coil hit, the revamped version of the all-time classic power ballad “A Tout le Monde”, this time named A Tout le Monde (Set Me Free), by American Speed Metal titans Megadeth, featured on their excellent album United Abominations. Needless to say, every time Megadeth and Cristina were in the same city or festival, they ended up playing that amazing song together for the delight of the fans at the venue, as I was able to enjoy during the 2012 version of Gigantour with Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil here in Canada.

You can also find Cristina in unique metal projects such as the character “The Mother” on the 2013 album The Theory of Everything, by Dutch Progressive Metal/Rock band Ayreon, and as a guest vocalist on the song Scars, by Thrash/Groove Metal project Metal Allegiance, from their 2015 self-titled album. In addition, Cristina is also one of the musicians interviewed on the 2007 documentary Over the Madness, a DVD that follows the career of British Doom/Death Metal icons Paradise Lost, including interviews from present and past band members, plus a host of others such as the aforementioned Cristina, Martin E. Ain, Aaron Stainthorpe and Alex Skolnick, presenting the band’s history from its formation up to 2006, in chronological order.

In regards to her contributions to non-metal acts, you can enjoy the charming and powerful vocals by Cristina on different songs such as Beautiful Lie, as a duet with Italian singer Emiliano Audisio (Line 77) to be part of the soundtrack for the 2013 Italian film Passione Sinistra; Nell’acqua, with Rezophonic; an alternate version of Watch Over You, with Alter Bridge; Basta!, with L’Aura and Rezophonic; Can You Hear Me?, also with Rezophonic; and I’m That, with Franco Battiato. By the way, when Cristina sang with L’Aura it was in 2008 at Festival di Sanremo, one of the most important pop festivals in Italy (if not the most important one). And you can also find some nice videos online of Cristina singing together with a Queen tribute band called Queenmania, such as in the all-time classics Bohemian Rhapsody and Under Pressure. And in addition to all that, she also used to write an advice column in the popular rock magazine Revolver, alongside the iconic American drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah).

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If you follow The Headbanging Moose you might have seen Cristina’s name as an inspiration for several of our previous metal chicks, just showing how important she is to the expansion of the presence of women in heavy music, but of course as any normal person she also has her idols and favorite bands in music. Among her main influences and names who contributed to her becoming a singer and pursuing a career in Heavy Metal, Cristina mentioned legendary bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Motörhead, as well as darker bands like Paradise Lost and Type O Negative. By the way, some of her favorite songs, those that really make a good amount of adrenaline rush through her body, are Motörhead’s Ace of Spades and Type O Negative’s My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, which despite being very distinct songs I have to agree that they surely put a smile on the face of anyone who enjoys some good old rock and metal. Of course Cristina as any other talented and professional artist listens to a lot of non-metal music, in special music from her homeland Italy, which in the end helps her diversify her vocals from song to song, explore new horizons and remain vibrant and relevant to the world of heavy music.

Slightly changing the focus to her personal life, many of you might think it’s a dream to date a woman like her, but as in any relationship there are always some hurdles and barriers to be overcome in order to keep the passion and love going on. Cristina has been in a relationship with Slipknot and ex-Stone Sour guitarist Jim Root for over 10 years already, but keeping that relationship fresh is not an easy task due to distance between them as they’re both very busy musicians who are always on tour (not to mention the fact that Root lives in Florida while Cristina resides in Italy). “Well, my lifestyle is challenging already,” Cristina explained. “Because I travel a lot and I work very hard. So you have to learn to live your life in a different way, but in a way that works for you. So for me to even think about a normal relationship would be something weird.” Before dating Root, she was in a relationship with Lacuna Coil’s own bassist Marco, and when they broke up let’s say it wasn’t easy for them to keep working together as a band, but fortunately as decent adults they overcame that “issue” and now they’re very good friends, loving each other in a different level.

Another interesting topic discussed by Cristina in one of her interviews was related to the recent deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, where she expressed her opinion about mental illnesses, from depression to dementia to other types of mental conditions, saying we should never judge the others’ decisions as there’s so much to understand about the whole situation before reaching any conclusion. That was also explored on Lacuna Coil’s latest album Delirium. “When we did Delirium, it was really important for us to treat it in the most respectful and delicate way possible,” said Cristina. “Because you can try to send a positive message and to try to tell people, ‘Oh, you should be positive all the time, you should be happy, you should overcome depression,’ and everything, but it’s not as easy as you speak. It’s way deeper than that and more complicated than this.”

As any good Italian woman, in special if that woman is born in the city of Milan, Cristina loves stylish clothes, trying on new make-up, taking care of her dark hair and everything else that’s a synonym to fashion. For instance, she considers her beauty and make-up signature the one she herself calls a “raccoon look”, or as described by Cristina, “a heavy sort of smokey eyes style with carbon black eyeshadow surrounding both whole eyes and heavily in the lower part of the eye as well.” She also mentioned that, because she likes to combine styles and to work with contrasts, she likes to observe everything around her and go to runway shows in Milan, listing as some of her style icons the always trendy Madonna and the very elegant and dark British and Irish designer Daphne Guinness. Furthermore, she said her make-up and outfit behavior is in constant change due to new products, styles and techniques that are always appearing in the market, stating that while thinking about a new look for her concerts she always takes into account several important factors such as if the clothes are easy to carry around, if they’re washable, and if they allow her to move a lot onstage. Also in the fashion world, American photographer Jeremy Saffer (an old-time friend of Cristina) invited her to be her calendar girl for the Halloween 2015 Special Edition of XPRESSIONS magazine, with the final result being beyond stunning, of course, being sold out in a really short time.

Regarding her preparation for getting onstage and spending a long time on the road during Lacuna Coil’s extremely busy agenda worldwide, Cristina said she doesn’t exercise a lot, saying she’s some sort of “lazy bum”, and that concentration is the most important part of the process for her together with some warming up exercises to keep her voice in good shape. She said travelling all the time and managing everything is definitely not for everyone, but it can be very rewarding if you love what you do. One funny thing connected to that hectic lifestyle is that Cristina collects all her flight boarding cards, saying that one day it will be nice to see and to show others how much she’s traveled in her life. And, in terms of the apps she uses regularly, apart from Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Twitter, she’s also been using an app named Master Tour, which she considers very helpful for whoever does her type of job, keeping you updated on tours and schedules like a tour book in your smartphone. Hence, if you’re a touring musician, why not trying the same app as the successful Cristina Scabbia, right?

Lastly, when asked if she considers herself a role model for young girls, she said she doesn’t see herself as one but that all the love she gets from fans when she’s on the road makes her sometimes believe she might be indeed an inspiration for all of them. She always tells them that they have to believe in themselves because, no matter what, it is impossible to make everyone happy, so the key is to make ourselves happy and conscious of our own unique potential, with her motto in life being “live in the present and make it beautiful. I never think too much about the past or the future. The past is… gone and we will never be able to plan the future the perfect way.’’ What do you think about Cristina and her way of life? Do you agree with what she does and thinks in music and life in general? Well, there are tons of interesting interviews and videos of Cristina online to help you know more about her, such as this one from Loudwire called Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?, where she even tells if her highest note being an A7 is true or not. It seems that the world of heavy music and also the whole cyberworld can never get enough of the one and only Italian stunner Cristina Scabbia (without an “h”, per favore).

Cristina Scabbia’s Official Facebook page
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Twitter
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Instagram
Lacuna Coil’s Official Facebook page
Lacuna Coil’s Official YouTube channel
Lacuna Coil’s Official Instagram

“You have to sing with your heart, you have to sing with passion, you have to be sincere in what you’re singing, and you have to be totally convinced of what you’re doing. Most of all, you have to realize that this is a hard job that not everyone can take, so don’t look at the shiny part only, because there is a lot of work involved and a lot of sacrifice, so be ready for that as well..” – Cristina Scabbia

Album Review – Extirpation / Wings of Decadence (2015)

If the sonic cataclysm brought forth by this demented Italian band doesn’t wake you up, you should definitely go see a doctor.

Rating5

extirpation_wings of decadenceIn case you’re having one of those sluggish and monotonous days that seem to last for the whole eternity, I have the perfect remedy to cure your boredom and make you feel so electrified you’ll even start banging your head against the wall in exultation. Open up some space in your room or wherever you are, take a deep breath, do some good stretching and finally hit play and enjoy Wings of Decadence, the brand new music havoc by Italian Black/Thrash Metal act Extirpation.

Bred in the darkest catacombs of Milan, Italy in July 2009, Extirpation have been growing in the underground scene with each of their releases, gaining some considerable recognition internationally and therefore leading them to start playing outside the Italian territory in countries such as Switzerland, France, Belgium and Romania. Judging by the speed and heaviness found in Wings of Decadence (including the sick old school artwork designed by their own vocalist/bassist Darak), I believe we can all have a very good idea of how cataclysmic their concerts around Europe might be.

Extirpation open the album with a merciless massacre entitled Controlled By Rage, where its razing riffs build a raw and obscure sounding enhanced by the harsh vocals by Darak (who actually sounds like an enraged goblin) and by drummer Elia smashing his drum set like there’s no tomorrow with a Punk Rock/Hardcore vibe added to his beats. If you don’t go into shock after listening to this ode to dementia, you’ll have your spinal cord smashed by Thrash The Enemy, a visceral Thrash Metal tune straight to your face where Eros and Magikk make sure their riffs and solos keep puncturing your ears without rest, followed by Sick Life, a brutal Thrashcore/Goregrind feast darkened by its deranged vocals, perfect for slamming into the most insane mosh pits you can imagine.

extirpationOath Of The Death, with its amazing infernal intro, offers the listener sheer devastation blending Black, Death and Thrash Metal with the meanest and most disturbing form of Punk Rock possible, not to mention the hot streak of destruction Darak and Elia are on; while Desires of Dust, despite slowing things down a bit, is still dark and putrid, with highlights to another devilish performance by Darak. And get ready for humongous dosages of hardcore riffs and bestial beats and growls in Consumed System, which not only keeps up with the musical consistency found in all previous tracks, but also presents guitar lines that are perhaps the closest to the purest form of Black Metal you will find in the whole album.

Not a single moment of peace or tranquility is present in Fall in The Dark: it’s violence taken to the extreme, where Elia continues his belligerent onslaught on drums while the rest of the band keeps breathing fire through their instruments and harsh vocals. The same can be said about Daily Struggle, an unrelenting display of Blackened Thrash Metal blended with Hardcore and Death Metal highly recommended for the soundtrack of the apocalypse, which makes me wonder how many people will have serious injuries if they slam into the pit whenever this immoderate tune is played live. In the short and sweet Eternal Moments, they truly sound like a band formed by evil entities like orcs or trolls shredding everything to pieces so inhuman it feels, maybe one of the most carnivorous tunes I’ve ever heard, before the title-track Wings of Decadence closes the album sounding as if the music is coming from the pits of hell, with Darak barking like a demon while the entire band is simply destroying whatever crosses their path with a mix of heaviness, feeling and anger.

In summary, the music in Wings of Decadence might be too harsh or pugnacious for the majority of the society we live in, but for fans of old school Black and Thrash Metal it’s indeed a bundle of joy with its ten hellish chants. You can get more details about the music by Extirpation at their Facebook page, and you can find their new album for sale at their BandCamp page or at the Nightbreaker Productions webstore. And if even after taking a listen at Wings of Decadence you still find yourself yawning of tiresomeness, I’m sorry but you should desperately see a doctor.

Best moments of the album: Thrash The Enemy, Oath Of The Death and Daily Struggle.

Worst moments of the album: Desires of Dust and Wings of Decadence.

Released in 2015 Nightbreaker Productions

Track listing
1. Controlled By Rage 3:35
2. Thrash The Enemy 2:43
3. Sick Life 4:08
4. Oath Of The Death 3:24
5. Desires of Dust 2:48
6. Consumed System 3:45
7. Fall in The Dark 4:03
8. Daily Struggle 2:50
9. Eternal Moments 1:58
10. Wings of Decadence 4:42

Band members
Darak – vocals, bass
Eros – guitars
Magikk – guitars
Elia – drums

Album Review – Rockstar Frame / Rock ‘N’ Roll Mafia (2015)

This distinguished Italian mafia is here to stay with only one objective in mind: spreading their rousing Rock N’ Roll music all over the world.

Rating4

RSF_RNR MafiaInspired by the rock music his family played him while he was in a coma after falling from a cliff years ago, which by the way he believes helped bring him back, drummer Max Klein formed Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band Rockastar Frame in 2012 in Milan, Italy. Now, after many live performances and after winning several contests such as the national Rock on the Road in 2014, the band is ready to spread their electrifying music all across the world with their debut album, the excellent Rock ‘N’ Roll Mafia.

Obviously, that wouldn’t have been possible without all the talent, hard work and passion for music that have accompanied each band member for years. For instance, frontwoman Faith Blurry recorded vocals for her first commercial on Italian TV when she was only 6; keyboardist Ace Wave holds a summa cum laude degree in classical piano from the Academy of Music, where bassist Andy Di Bella is also finishing up his electric bass studies; and band founder Max and guitarist Morris Steel have been professional session musicians for the past ten years. In other words, all that energy and willpower translates into pure top-notch Rock N’ Roll.

Do you want to know why Rock N’ Roll with piano and keyboards sounds so cool? The opening track, entitled Guilt, has the answer to that question. This is radio material, as catchy as it can be, with the rocking vocals by the red-haired diva Faith matching perfectly with the band’s music. She’s Hot also has all the ingredients to become another instant radio hit, sounding even more powerful than the opening track. Moreover, Ace and Max keep delivering some exciting notes and solos while Faith is totally on fire, and what to say about the song’s chorus? It’s undisputed sexy rock music.

After that kick-ass old school Rock N’ Roll start, the band shows their Alternative Rock side in Addictions, full of background effects and a more atmospheric rhythm thanks to the job done by Ace on keyboards, but quickly returning to their roots in the title-track Rock ‘N’ Roll Mafia. Of course it’s not Deep Purple per se, and it’s not the band’s intention to be so, but this song has a strong Purple-ish vein that makes it truly gripping. It’s not only fast and groovy, but there’s also so much adrenaline in it I believe there might even be some mosh pits when this song is played live. In Song for You, it’s time to slow down and enjoy a nice Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock ballad where Faith has another beautiful performance while Ace oce again nails it with his piano notes, followed by the heaviest of all songs, This Burning Song, a Hard Rock tune with stronger riffs. It’s a good example of how their “catchy-chorus machine” doesn’t seem to stop for a single second, being highly recommended for fans of straightforward rock music.

RSFWith hints of Blues and its provocative lyrics, the awesome tune Poison has the perfect name and rhythm to qualify it as a hot strip-tease theme, while Cherry Boobs might not be a bad song, but it’s below average, getting a little repetitive after a while. It’s still enjoyable and a good option for a TV ad that needs some rock music, though. The next track, Lie, which is also closer to Alternative Rock than old school Hard Rock, has a very cohesive and creative instrumental with the final guitar solo by Morris being really good, but unfortunately the same can’t be said about Years Gone,  a generic rock semi-ballad that’s too commercial (even if that’s what the band wanted with this song). It doesn’t really harm the overall quality of the album, but it’s just unnecessary filler in my opinion.

That minor “incident” is followed by a sequence of outstanding songs that put the album back on track, starting with RSF (the acronym for Rockstar Frame), a heavy tune with a nice melody and a crucial punch to make it stand out among so many good rock songs in the album. Then we have second song with elements found in the music by Deep Purple (especially in regards to the keyboards), I Don’t Give a Fuck, a very soulful song which old school lyrics fit Faith’s voice nicely; Twisted Double Nature, a modern rock music song that focuses on the passionate vocals by Faith, which ends up enhancing its final result; and finally the last regular track of the album, a fantastic piano ballad entitled Fairytale, where Faith steals the show with her strong but smooth voice. Besides, its lyrics go really well with the music, with kudos to Ace for another amazing performance on keyboards. And if you think 14 hymns of pure rock music are not enough, there’s also an excellent bonus track called Limitless for Life, strongly influenced by 80’s and 90’s Hard Rock.

I personally prefer the first half of the album as I’m more of a metalhead than a rocker, but it’s undeniable that the music by this one-of-a-kind Italian mafia is way above your average rock music (well, the album art says it all). You can check more of their music at their SoundCloud page, give a shout to them on their official Twitter, and of course purchase Rock ‘N’ Roll Mafia at the Musicarchy Media webstore. If you feel you’re ready to join the Rockstar Frame mafia, don’t think twice and succumb to their action-packed rock music. You’re going to love it.

Best moments of the album: Guilt, She’s Hot, Rock ‘N’ Roll Mafia, Poison and Fairytale.

Worst moments of the album: Cherry Boobs and Years Gone.

Released in 2015 Musicarchy Media

Track listing
1. Guilt 3:20
2. She’s Hot 3:24
3. Addictions 3:46
4. Rock ‘N’ Roll Mafia 3:52
5. Song for You 4:22
6. This Burning Song 3:22
7. Poison 3:26
8. Cherry Boobs 3:42
9. Lie 3:49
10. Years Gone 4:08
11. RSF 3:54
12. I Don’t Give a Fuck 3:34
13. Twisted Double Nature 4:03
14. Fairytale 3:22

Bonus track
15. Limitless for Life 4:16

Band members
Faith Blurry – vocals
Morris Steel – guitars
Andy Di Bella – bass
Ace Wave – keyboards
Max Klein – drums

Album Review – Gory Blister / The Fifth Fury (2014)

It’s time for these talented Italian Death Metallers to unleash the Fifth Fury upon humanity.

Rating4

03. Gory Blister - ArtworkThis year has been more than amazing for Death Metal so far, as there have been tons of kick-ass albums, lots of shredding, huge doses of violence, and thousands of excellent reasons to bang our heads and slam into the circle pits. Joining that demented “2014 Hall of Rage” we welcome The Fifth Fury, the fifth full-length album by Italian Technical Death Metal band Gory Blister.

Formed in the 90’s in Milan, Italy, Gory Blister has recently been through some lineup changes, which includes vocalist John St John (Statica Nera, Orthodox) teaming up with the band in 2012 and more recently the addition of Emi Dattolo (Faust, Illogicist, Eternal Tragedy) as their new bassist. Those changes seem to have had a very positive effect to the band’s musicality and energy, which together with their usual lyric themes such as psychology, poetry and outer space result in some very entertaining extreme music, especially for fans of more technical and melodic Death Metal.

With its blazing guitar duo intro, the opening track Psycho Crave sets the tone of the whole album: a total fuckin’ music madness full of insane blast beats by Joe Laviola, which together with some interesting riffs provide an eerie atmosphere to the listener. Besides, its technical shredding sounds like a heavier version of Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy, which in my opinion is always a good thing. Thresholds, a more brutal but very melodic tune, showcases what John St John is capable of doing with his voice, switching from deeper growls the likes of Krisiun and Deicide to more harsh vocals similar to Jeff Walker from Carcass.

gory blisterFollowing those two sonic tornadoes, the band keeps the momentum going with the fast drumming and ghastly vocals in Toxamine, which disturbing lyrics (“Stomach ulceration, hate perceived / Your blood doesn’t clot / In full clarity of mind / killing is your only wish / Your skin turns red”) turn it into one of the best songs of the album; and Devouring Me, another shredding attack led by Raff with a very melancholic intro. By the way, it’s amazing how an extreme band like Gory Blister can create such atmospheric music without keyboards or synths, don’t you agree?

The dark title-track, The Fifth Fury, narrates the story of “all furies”: First Fury (Tisiphone), Second Fury (Megaera), Third Fury (Alecto), Fourth Fury (Nemesis), and of course, the Fifth Fury created by the band. In Greek mythology, the Furies (or Erinyes) were female chthonic deities of vengeance, sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses”. By that you can have an idea of how obscure and heavy this song is, also perfectly represented in the album art. Right after all that darkness, comes one of the best songs of the album, if not the best of all, named Prometheus Scars, with its ferocious instrumental, diabolic vocals and great guitar lines. In addition, it has  a meaningful storyline too, as “Prometheus is a Titan who sided with Zeus and the ascending Olympian gods in the vast cosmological struggle against Cronus and the other Titans.”

The last part of the album is not as awesome as all previous tracks, but that doesn’t mean it’s not badass too, starting with (Meet Me) In the Mass Grave, a decent track focusing on a more traditional Death Metal with highlights to the strong bass lines by Emi, followed by the very technical The Grey Machinery, with its hints of Black and Thrash Metal and potent guitar riffs and solos, and finally the bonus track Heretic Infected Orchestra, which starts with a somber piano before becoming a 100% orchestral song with no vocals at all, totally different from the rest of the album and something I would only expect from bands such as Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir.

To sum up, The Fifth Fury, which is available on iTunes and at the official Sliptrick Records online store, ends up being an absolutely fun and fresh heavy music album, especially due to the good distance kept from pedestrian Death Metal, and for offering us all some intelligent content to make us think and learn more about the topics “discussed”. May the Fifth Fury be unleashed upon us!

Best moments of the album: Psycho Crave, Toxamine and Prometheus Scars.

Worst moments of the album: (Meet Me) In the Mass Grave and The Grey Machinery.

Released in 2014 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Psycho Crave 4:26
2. Thresholds 3:30
3. Toxamine 4:15
4. Devouring Me 4:18
5. The Fifth Fury 4:47
6. Prometheus Scars 3:32
7. (Meet Me) In the Mass Grave 3:52
8. The Grey Machinery 3:37

Bonus track
9. Heretic Infected Orchestra 3:34

Band members
John St John – vocals
Raff – guitar
Emi – bass guitar
Joe Laviola – drums

Album Review – Derdian / Human Reset (2014)

Do you think contemporary Symphonic Power Metal is outdated? Just listen to the excellent new album by this Italian squad and you’ll see how biased you are.

Rating4

Derdian-Human_Reset_front_coverRhapsody Of Fire, Stratovarius, Symphony X and Angra are just a few of many excellent Symphonic Power Metal bands from different parts of the world, and among them there’s another name that also deserves to be recognized as one of the biggest contemporary exponents of this genre of heavy music due to the quality of their work. I’m talking about Italian Symphonic Power Metal band Derdian and their brand new album Human Reset, a highly recommended option for anyone that loves seeing the words “symphonic” and “metal” together.

Born in 1998 in Milan, Italy, Derdian have always offered us lots of heavy and fast riffs from traditional Power Metal and beautiful symphonic orchestrations, without sounding repetitive as even some well-established bands sound nowadays. They somehow managed to keep their sound unique, and add to that the fact that their lyric themes moved from only fantasy, a constant in their “New Era” albums, to more direct (not to mention more important) issues our society has always faced. I’m not saying fantasy is boring, it’s just that being able to write and sing about a wider variety of topics helps any type of band in their creative process, which in the case of Derdian worked really well.

Right after the video game-ish symphonic intro Eclipse, the energetic and vibrant title-track Human Reset makes us think we’re listening to an “Italian Angra” from the Angels Cry-era, with its very traditional drums and keyboards perfect for fans of fast-tempo songs blended with symphonic elements. The symphonic extravaganza goes on with the awesome In Everything, with highlights to its guitar solos, fast drumming and a chorus that should put a smile on the faces of the fans while they sing it together with the band. Moreover, it’s easy to notice all the melody present in most European bands, and the part of the lyrics sung in Italian complements the song in a very pleasant way.

The following track, Mafia, has a totally different approach with a more modern sonority and truly melodic and enjoyable vocals, and its music variations kind of interestingly “break” the traditional metal from previous tracks; while These Rails Will Bleed, the shortest song of the album, has that “Symphonic Power Metal” formula with nothing really new to offer, albeit it’s far from being boring. In Absolute Power, the band focus on stronger Power Metal riffs similar to what Manowar used to do in the past (maybe due to the name of the song), and the band’s talented musicians were able to add some hints of progressive music to it to make the song even better. This is the type of song you’ll start headbanging and beating your feet nonstop without even noticing.

derdian_01Human Reset continues with a song that is mandatory in your playlist if you’re hitting the road soon: Write Your Epitaph is an outstanding symphony full of awesome Hard Rock riffs and another thrilling vocal performance by Ivan Giannini, turning it into the best song of the whole album without a shadow of a doubt. Then we have the good Music is Life (I couldn’t agree more with the name of this song), with its intro that seems to be inspired by Helloween’s all-time classic “Future World” and all its beautiful Power Metal moments, especially the keyboards and piano passages by Marco Garau; Gods Don’t Give A Damn, where the bass guitar, guitars, drums and everything else sound somewhat like Dream Theater, keeping the energy level really high and the song truly interesting; and After The Storm, a symphonic and emotive ballad that is excellent for the listener to breathe for a while after so many powerful tracks.

Finally, it’s time to speed things up again with the powerful Alone, with great synergy among all instruments, the quick and fun instrumental track Delirium, which sounds a lot like many songs by Stratovarius, and My Life Back, a song that starts as a semi-acoustic piano ballad that turns into another very symphonic tune to close the album as traditionally as possible. In addition, the less fanciful and more distressful album art for Human Reset, which in my opinion is by far the most beautiful in their career, also supports this more serious path Derdian decided to take and perfectly summarizes what to expect from the album and, of course, from the band.

And last but not least, remember to support Derdian by purchasing their music at their official website or in other places such as iTunes or Amazon, because this band is here to prove us all once again our good old Symphonic Power Metal is not obsolete at all and can be as exciting as any new genre of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: In Everything, Mafia and Write Your Epitaph.

Worst moments of the album: These Rails Will Bleed and My Life Back.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Eclipse 1:14
2. Human Reset 5:53
3. In Everything 6:16
4. Mafia 6:41
5. These Rails Will Bleed 2:49
6. Absolute Power 5:26
7. Write Your Epitaph 4:08
8. Music is Life 6:25
9. Gods Don’t Give A Damn 5:44
10. After The Storm 4:58
11. Alone 7:24
12. Delirium 1:15
13. My Life Back 6:34

Band members
Ivan Giannini – vocals
Enrico Pistolese – guitars
Dario Radaelli – guitars
Marco Banfi – bass
Marco Garau – keyboards
Salvatore Giordano – drums

Album Review – Lacuna Coil / Broken Crown Halo (2014)

Milan-based Heavy Metal icons are back with another good album that will please their fans for sure.

Rating5

lacuna_coil_bchSome like to call them Alternative Metal, some Gothic Metal, and some even Alternative Rock. No matter which definition you believe suits them better, Italian band Lacuna Coil have always been recognized as one of the most creative and influential bands in heavy music from the past two decades, and now Andrea Ferro, la bella ragazza Cristina Scabbia & Co. return with another good album, Broken Crown Halo, which according to the band was in part influenced by classic Italian horror movies, and it’s also the last to feature drummer Cristiano “Criz” Mozzati and guitarist Cristiano “Pizza” Migliore.

We must admit it might be pretty hard for the band to stay relevant and generate innovative material after all those years on the road, but this Milan-based band always manages to provide us something that’s at least enjoyable, which is the case with this new album. I don’t know how much the departure of Criz and Pizza might have impacted the recording of Broken Crown Halo, nor how this will affect the band’s live performances, but one thing we can rest assured: the album is not disappointing at all.

Nothing Stands in Our Way opens the album in a very traditional “Lacuna Coil” way, with some good riffs and keyboards together with Cristina’s potent voice, making it one of the best tracks of the album. Then we have a more Heavy Metal track called Zombies, in which Andrea and Cristina do a very good job, with highlights also to the pretty cool and strong bass lines, followed by Hostage to the Light, which gets the album back to a more gothic atmosphere (especially due to its beautiful vocal lines).

Victims follows almost the same line as the previous track, although not as good and sometimes too generic, while Die & Rise sounds very alternative with some electronic elements. Can it be considered some kind of “heavy dance music”? Anyway, the next track I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name) reminds me a little of Within Temptation, albeit too repetitive and even too pop for a heavy music album.

lacuna_coilBroken Crown Halo goes on with another alternative semi-ballad called Cybersleep, which is not engaging at all; Infection, a heavier track with Nu Metal bass lines and an interesting chorus; and one of my favorites, I Burn in You, with its vocals, harmony and rhythm inspired by some good old 80’s Gothic Rock mixed with the musicality of bands like Paradise Lost and The Gathering. I wish they had added more of this to the album, as it’s really pleasurable to listen to and avoids that “generic” feeling we’re all afraid of finding in our favorite bands’ material.

The last two tracks of Broken Crown Halo are the good In the End I Feel Alive, especially because of its heavy riffs and bass lines (which I really enjoyed) and another very cohesive vocal duet, and the melancholic ballad One Cold Day, the longest track of the album totally focused on piano passages, beautiful lyrics and Cristina’s delicate vocals. By the way, what else can be said about Cristina that hasn’t been said yet? She’s totally awesome.

In summary, Broken Crown Halo will please almost all fans of the band, because although it’s not a masterpiece it’s far from being a “schifo” (as the band members would say), and the talent and professionalism of the whole band is always remarkable. Besides, in my opinion it’s slightly better than its predecessor, Dark Adrenaline, or at least less pop, which is a good thing for Heavy Metal fans like myself that prefer the heavy riffs found in this album than any overproduced videos or excessive cheesiness done just to make more money, and therefore it will help the band keep their fire burning for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Nothing Stands in Our Way, Hostage of the Light, I Burn in You and In the End I Feel Alive.

Worst moments of the album: Victims, I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name) and Cybersleep.

Released in 2014 Century Media

Track listing
1. Nothing Stands in Our Way 4:07
2. Zombies 3:47
3. Hostage to the Light 3:56
4. Victims 4:31
5. Die & Rise 3:44
6. I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name) 3:56
7. Cybersleep 4:26
8. Infection 4:23
9. I Burn in You 4:15
10. In the End I Feel Alive 4:21
11. One Cold Day 6:09

Band members
Cristina Scabbia – vocals
Andrea Ferro – vocals
Marco Coti Zelati – bass
Marco ‘Maus’ Biazzi – guitars
Cristiano ‘Pizza’ Migliore* – guitars
Cristiano ‘Criz’ Mozzati* – drums

*Retired from the band in February 2014