Album Review – Be Under Arms / Red Wave Is Coming (2019)

A red wave of first-class Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore is coming to crush your senses, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

It’s time for the Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore squad known as Be Under Arms to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their razor-edged and modern sonority in Red Wave Is Coming, their fourth full-length effort and an amazing follow-up to their previous releases, those being Let Shots Will Be Your Music (2014), Doomed to Life (2016), and more recently Evil Tales Of The Northern Country (2017). If you have never heard of Be Under Arms before, get ready to be stunned by the uniqueness of their music, instantly feeling the urge to join their army of unstoppable metal insurgents.

Combining Metalcore with Groove and Melodic Death Metal since their inception in 2013, this Moscow-based unity now comprised of the dynamic duo Anna “White Queen” Logacheva and Vladimir “Szandor” Nasonov on vocals, Stanislav Shtrih on the guitar, Dmitriy Kashirin on bass and Denis “John Doe” Vinitskiy on drums is on absolute fire in Red Wave Is Coming, always loyal to their foundations and still presenting their trademark military attire, dystopian atmosphere and austere lyrics about controversial social topics. Featuring a classic, rebellious album art by Estonian designer Darius Alas (Midiankai Arts), Red Wave Is Coming is not only a highly recommended album for admirers of modern metal music, but it also cements the band’s name as one of the biggest new exponents of the scene.

Bizarre, captivating sounds suddenly morph into a darkened intro entitled The Tsar, led by Stanislav’s metallic riffs, sounding not only slow and creepy, but also entirely sung in Russian by both Anna and Vladimir to give it a rawer taste, before all explodes into the band’s modernized Melodic Death and Groove Metal in the title-track Red Wave Is Coming, where Denis and Dmitriy smash their respective instruments nonstop. Furthermore, pay good attention to the song’s acid lyrics dealing with the most obscure side effects of having too much power (“I feel how darkness grows around me / This crown has become my burden, a sign that I’m not free / It presses like a crown of thorns / And blood pours from my eyes / All this gold and beauty / Such a good disguise”). And Rasstrel, another song fully sung in their mother tongue, is in my opinion one of the most fun tracks of the album showcasing amazing performances by all band members, in special Anna and Vladimir, not to mention it’s simply perfect for jumping up and down to the crushing and thunderous riffs and punches by both Stanislav and Dmitriy.

The Untouchables is another classic tune by Be Under Arms, alternating between faster and more aggressive passages and more melodic, headbanging moments, keeping the album at a high level of electricity, whereas Road to the Scaffold is a lot more introspective and obscure, almost sounding like a dark ballad, with Anna and Vladimir attacking us all with both their clean vocals and harsh roars while Denis add a touch of Doom Metal to the musicality with his beats. Then we have another one of my favorites, the violent No-Go Zone, bringing that classic Be Under Arms sounding closer to all of their previous releases, with Stanislav being ruthless with his scorching riffs while Dmitriy’s bass sounds as hammering as it can be. In other words, this is a top-notch warlike-inspired Groove Metal composition that will please all fans of the band without a shadow of a doubt, while New Crusader is a mid-tempo song that blends the heaviest elements from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal, being perfect for slamming into the circle pit while Denis dictates its rebellious rhythm.

Putting the pedal to the metal those Russian metallers deliver the frantic and visceral Breathe This, where Stanislav, Dmitriy and Denis generate a flawless atmosphere for Anna and Vladimir to growl and gnarl like two rabid beasts, followed by The Chosen One and its hypnotizing rhythm where Anna’s vocals truly represent her “White Queen” monicker, while Vladimir is responsible for bringing darkness to the music with his deep roars. Slightly different from their usual sound, which doesn’t mean it’s a bad song, this interesting tune would have worked better if a little shorter, I might say. Anyway, back to a more enraged sonority, the band offers us the insanely heavy The Death Instinct, presenting an amazing balance between melody and sheer aggression, and with its guitars and drums sounding bestial from start to finish for our total delight while Anna growls the song’s lyrics manically (“You are my brothers and I bear the burden for you / And every day I lift a Sisyphus stone / For prosperity but not for conviction / Hoping for the future without pain”), building an instant connection with the somber Bloody Shores, where acoustic guitars are intertwined with electrified and vile tones, resulting in a multi-layered creation by Be Under Arms that puts a melancholic and mesmerizing ending to the album.

In summary, as aforementioned Red Wave Is Coming (available for a full listen on Spotify) is undoubtedly a fantastic entrance door to the world of Be Under Arms if you know nothing about those Russian metalheads yet. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and VKontakte, listen to more of their music on YouTube and on SoundCloud, and purchase your copy of such entertaining album from Be Under Arms’ own BandCamp page or webstore (in digibook format or digibook + “Helmet” shirt combo), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. As the destructive red wave by Be Under Arms approaches, there’s nothing better than a good dosage of their ass-kicking Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal to serve as the soundtrack to the apocalypse, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: Rasstrel, No-Go Zone and The Death Instinct.

Worst moments of the album: The Chosen One.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Tsar 2:45
2. Red Wave Is Coming 4:44
3. Rasstrel 3:55
4. The Untouchables 4:19
5. Road to the Scaffold 5:11
6. No-Go Zone 3:58
7. New Crusader 4:26
8. Breathe This 3:53
9. The Chosen One 4:04
10. The Death Instinct 3:56
11. Bloody Shores 3:24

Band members
Anna “White Queen” Logacheva – vocals
Vladimir “Szandor” Nasonov – vocals
Stanislav Shtrih – guitar
Dmitriy Kashirin – bass
Denis “John Doe” Vinitskiy – drums

Album Review – Gottwut / Konglomerat (2018)

Delivering first-class music as a modern reinterpretation of sound canons declared in the mid-90’s, this Russian quartet is ready to stimulate your senses with their thrilling Industrial Metal.

If you’re a fan of the mechanized and eccentric music by renowned acts such as Megaherz, Oomph!, Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, I highly recommend you turn your attention to the Russian capital Moscow, where since 2015 an Industrial Metal squad known as Gottwut has been delivering first-class music as a modern reinterpretation of industrial sound canons declared in the mid-90’s. After the release of the maxi-single Oil, in 2016, Gottwut are ready to stimulate your senses with their debut full-length album, the thrilling and melodic Konglomerat. By the way, the name of the band is made up of two German words, “gott” (god) and “wut” (rage), symbolizing the creative and destructive forces embodied in human nature, an essential part of the music found throughout the entire album.

Taking as a basis energy and rage, the band comprised of Pavel Chaban on vocals, Fedor Artemenkov on guitars and samples, Vyacheslav Dmitriev on bass and Dmitry Kahatkin on drums aims at developing the genre in their own manner, paying strong attention to the visual component by designing special costumes, additional props and theatrical performances, all with the main objective of creating a unique atmosphere for the audience. Featuring a wicked, avantgarde cover art by Russian artist Denis Shoomov, Konglomerat is a feast of Neue Deutsche Härte with a more melodic Russian twist, and I’m sure each song in the album will put you to bang your head and dance like there’s no tomorrow.

Modernized sounds blended with the heavy beats and riffs from Heavy Metal are the main ingredients in the opening track My Duty, sounding even symphonic at times. Moreover, Fedor does a pretty good job with his guitar lines and samples, while Pavel delivers a poetic mix of Rammstein and Marilyn Manson through his vocals. Then we have Sin, a 90’s-inspired Industrial Metal and Rock tune where Dmitry pounds his drums in a precise manner, generating a mechanized ambience where background keyboards once again add a touch of delicacy and modernity to the music; followed by the title-track Konglomerat, sounding and feeling as industrialized as it can be and highly inspired by the golden years of Neue Deutsche Härte, something latent in the vocals by Pavel and the slashing guitars by Fedor.

Fuck Machine brings forward one of the funniest lyrics of the entire album, and Pavel makes sure he sings them in the weirdest possible way together with the song’s crushing instrumental parts, making the final result quite entertaining. Snowman reminds me of some classic songs by Rammstein, being the perfect soundtrack for a Gothic and eccentric rock party with Fedor and Vyacheslav generating an enfolding atmosphere with their strings (and you’ll definitely feel the urge to dance in the dark to this song), whereas Cycle showcases a well-balanced mix of the modernity of Industrial Metal with symphonic elements and the catchy beats of pop music, with all band members being in total sync and with highlights to the smashing performance by Dmitry on drums. And heavy riffs and whimsical keys walk hand-in-hand in the upbeat Bi-Sides, an assembly line of Industrial Metal led by the pounding drums by Dmitry, keeping the level of electricity in the album truly high.

The band’s first single Oil brings more of their crazy sounds and the wicked vocalizations by Pavel, being tailored for fans of Neue Deutsche Härte searching for alternative bands from the independent scene, and with Fedor adding tons of adrenaline to the music with both his riffs and keys. In Angerlove we’re treated to another overdose of Industrial Metal made in Russia where Dmitry is an unstoppable crushing machine behind his drums while Pavel keeps roaring manically in our faces, therefore turning it into a mandatory song for any good Industrial Metal playlist, and closing the album we face more cutting guitars and rumbling bass lines infused with mechanized background elements in Heretic, where the band will keep hammering your head with their industrialized music until you’re completely wasted on the ground.

In a nutshell, the metallic party called Konglomerat (available for a full listen on Spotify) is a beyond awesome start for the Russian quartet, leaving a fantastic first impression for all fans of modern Industrial Metal. Hence, in order to show your support for Gottwut, go check all news and other shenanigans at their official Facebook page, VKontakte page and YouTube channel, and buy the album directly from their BandCamp page as well as from iTunes or Amazon. And now will you please excuse me, because I have a Industrial Metal party to enjoy, courtesy of four Russian metallers with genuine, mechanized German hearts.

Best moments of the album: Konglomerat, Cycle and Angerlove.

Worst moments of the album: Sin.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. My Duty 4:12
2. Sin 3:34
3. Konglomerat 3:52
4. Fuck Machine 3:40
5. Snowman 4:25
6. Cycle 3:43
7. Bi-Sides 3:14
8. Oil 3:24
9. Angerlove 3:19
10. Heretic 4:04

Band members
Pavel Chaban – vocals
Fedor Artemenkov – guitar, samples
Vyacheslav Dmitriev – bass
Dmitry Kahatkin – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Margarita Monet

I wanna lose myself in you…

Attention, metalheads! It’s time for another metal chick of the month here on yours truly The Headbanging Moose, and this month let’s pay our humble tribute to an up-and-coming singer, pianist, composer and actress that truly knows how to blend the heaviness, madness and rage of Heavy Metal with the delicacy and feeling of classical music. Known for her powerful voice and incredible range, she’s the frontwoman and founder for American Hard Rock/Symphonic Metal band Edge Of Paradise. I’m talking about Margarita Monet, or Margarita Martirosyan if you prefer, born on February 15, 1990 in Yerevan, the capital and largest city of Armenia as well as one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, but who has been living in the United States since she was 11 years old.

Margarita moved from Armenia to Moscow, Russia at a very early age with her family, where she lived for about 10 years, starting music lessons at the age of four and quickly accelerating into a competitive and performance-ready pianist, competing and winning awards in numerous piano competitions. When she was 11 years old, her father (who is a scientist) got a job offer in Houston, Texas, in the United States, meaning her life was going to have a huge impact in regards to lifestyle and mindset. In Houston, she attended The High School For The Performing and Visual Arts, for musical theater, moving to New York shortly after where she got accepted into New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts, majoring in Theater at the Meisner Studio and minoring in Music. While living in New York, she acted in off Broadway plays, independent short and feature films, and sang with local bands at the city’s clubs. In addition, as a teenager, Margarita used to go back to Russia during the summer seasons and did some performing and recording with concertos, being known within the community of people who follow classical mostly from competitions in the country.

It was in 2010 when our red-haired diva had another significant move in her life, heading to Los Angeles after getting interest from various acting agents in the city. Just a week after arriving in Hollywood, Margarita already joined a singing and dancing group and recorded on their album Angels De Amor, going solo after various live shows with that group. After going solo and starting working on original material for her first solo album, she met guitarist Dave Bates, who was in search of a singer who could replace Irish rock vocalist Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group, Survivor) in their project named BLEED. Soon their music partnership created tremendous results and solidified the band that took up the new name, Edge Of Paradise.

With Edge Of Paradise, which by the way is the official band of Nashville Knights, a women’s American football team of the Legends Football League (LFL) based in Nashville, Tennessee, and part of Rockers Against Trafficking (a foundation created by Kevin Estrada to raise awareness about human trafficking), Margarita released their debut album Mask, in 2011, featuring a rhythm section consisting of Gregg Bissonette on drums and Tony Franklin on bass (coming in at #6 most added on national CMJ radio, right behind Machine Head and Five Finger Death Punch), the EP Perfect Shade Of Black, in 2013, the full-length Immortal Waltz, in 2015, co-produced by Bob Kulick (Kiss, Motörhead) and  Michael Wagener (and coming at #12 on national rock and metal radio charts), and the six-track EP ALIVE, in 2017. If you want to get a fun and pleasant overdose of the gorgeous vocals by Margarita, go to their official YouTube channel (or their VEVO channel as well) for songs such as Mistery, Dust To Dust, Shade Of Crazy, Rise For The Fallen, In A Dream, Break Away and Perfect Shade Of Black, or even for some treats such as their cover versions for Darlene Love’s 1963 song Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally’s Song Black Sabbath’s masterpiece Children of the Sea, Margarita’s voice-and-piano version for Scorpion’s all-time classic ballad Still Loving You, or the band’s live performance of the song Ghost at the Soultone Cymbals Studio in 2016. Thus, after listening to her stunning voice in all those songs, you’ll quickly understand why she was featured in Metalholic’s “Top 25 Women in Hard Rock and Metal” in 2012.

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Furthermore, as aforementioned, apart for her music career Margarita also has an acting and screen background going back to her New York days, including a part as a dancer in the 2009 short drama Alicia, playing a character called Amy in the 2010 action movie No Leaf Clover, and portraying an illegal prostitute in the 2011 documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, all under her birth name Margarita Martirosyan. Now with Margarita dedicating a huge share of her time to Edge Of Paradise, it’s uncertain if we’ll see her again on screen, but at least we can rest assured the band will keep shooting videos for their songs, which means more Margarita for our avid eyes and ears.

When asked about her biggest idols in beauty, fashion and music, Margarita provided some interesting and beyond awesome names in all fields. Her inspirations in the modelling and fashion business are first Audrey Hepburn, who she has admired since she was a kid due to her feminine, classy and effortless look and style, and also Doro Pesch and Joan Jett due to their edgier styles. When it comes to music, her list of icons is even more impressive, with unparalleled names such as Ronnie James Dio, Robert Plant, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury being her favorite ones due to their distinct and timeless sound, as well as their emotion, attitude and conviction when singing and performing.

Margarita doesn’t see herself as a fashion and make-up junkie, but more like a “creative junkie”, meaning that because of her role with Edge Of Paradise she always strives to create something different and attractive for the fans, leading her to experiment with different looks, and having the freedom to express herself through music and while performing on stage. Having said that, Margarita’s typical makeup and style signature can be considered a mix of Rock N’ Roll with a bit of Gothic fashion, blending leather and lace with bold accessories such as belts and chains, always wearing black with accent colors like red, silver and gold. And, of course, her trademark blood-red lips. All those strong colors and accessories are complemented by Margarita’s endless energy when she hits the stage, being very expressive and putting her heart and soul into each song played, and by her creativity, as she simply loves experimenting with different chains, spikes, fabrics and other material when creating her stage outfit. When asked about how she prepares herself for a concert, Margarita said she tries to rest as much as possible and stay hydrated, and that she doesn’t take too long to get dressed and put on her makeup as she always knows what she’s going to wear. She also said being in a band is a lifestyle she truly loves, and although it’s not an easy one she has a lot of fun and pleasure while working on new material, creating new visual arts for the band and rehearsing, always aiming at moving forward with the band.

Regarding being an artist, our red-haired muse mentioned that she’s always been determined to become an artist since her childhood in Russia, where she was surrounded by art. Her mom used to take her to theaters, concerts and ballets, inspiring her to start performing at a very young age. So far, it has been a thrilling and rewarding ride to her (despite being a very demanding way of life), with honesty, hard work and creativity being some of the most important elements in her career, not to mention her life motto which is “do it because you love it and enjoy every part of the journey, it goes by fast!’’ In addition, singing metal music in front of a huge crowd and recording vocals for Edge Of Paradise were initially a brand new experience and a challenge for her, despite her previous experience as an artist and her passion for classic voices like Dio and Freddie Mercury. Furthermore, Margarita said that coming up with melody ideas and finding her own style were very rewarding steps for her, and of course she’s always interested in evolving as a singer and as an artist in general.

Last but not least, when asked about the importance of image in her life and career, and how social media has had an impact on those, she said that as we live in a digital world where everything is over saturated, social media ends up working as a double-edged sword because we have the tools to reach people, but if you don’t have the best content (both visually and musically) you won’t be able to attract people’s attention. She complemented by saying you really have to create a world that people will want to be part of, inspiring people to follow you, and therefore boosting your creative process. Well, I guess Margarita is absolutely right about that, because if you think about it, who doesn’t want to be part of the unique and whimsical world created by Edge Of Paradise?

Margarita Monet’s Official Facebook page
Margarita Monet’s Official Instagram
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Facebook page
Edge Of Paradise’s Official YouTube channel
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Instagram

“Your music has to speak for itself, invest in your content, in the quality of your sound, if you have a great product you will get your foot in the door! Of course it’s important to promote, and that takes a lot of money too. If you’re an independent band you gotta hire your own publicity, but if you don’t have great content to promote you won’t go very far, so I would say make the music that’s authentic and you’re really proud of and you’ll find your way!” – Margarita Monet

Album Review – Big Guns / Six Shooter EP (2016)

After the six shots of visceral Death N’ Roll fired by these dynamic duo of Russian outlaws, you’ll be pretty much dead.

Rating5

coverSome people might agree that whenever you face a really big trouble, all you need is a really big gun to solve that once and for all. With that insurgent idea in mind, two experienced Russian metallers from Moscow teamed up earlier this year to fight stagnancy in music and decided to shoot some traditional Rock N’ Roll music spiced up by the brutality of Death Metal, giving birth to the quick-draw, high-speed Death N’ Roll project Big Guns and releasing their debut EP entitled Six Shooter for the delight of all headbanging gunslingers all around the world.

Big Guns are comprised of multi-instrumentalists Postie (Conflict) on guitars, bass, drum programming, backing vocals and mixing, and Vaarwel (Frozen Ocean, Goatpsalm, Smothered Bowels) on vocals, lyrics and mastering, and based on the music found in Six Shooter, featuring a gory Wild West-inspired cover art by Anton Baskin (Contrast Arts), the synergy between these two outlaws of heavy music is beyond amazing. Postie and Vaarwel fire together six short, violent tunes perfect for getting piss drunk at an old saloon and have a pistol duel with that gunman that wants to steal your sexy lady from your arms.

Although Postie and Vaarwel have only six bullets locked and loaded in their first stint as Big Guns, the final result is truly devastating. Hard as Tin brings forward a minute and a half of madness, with the blast beats blending Death and Thrash Metal by Postie together with the deep guttural by Vaarwel turning this demolishing tune into the epitome of badassness. In Nightmares of Tomorrow, a pub-fighting Rock N’ Roll tune the likes of Chrome Division tailored for drinking a beer or slamming into the pit, simply enjoy its gentle lyrics (“I sang about entrails and gore / I extolled splattered women / I praised mutilation and deeply adored / Dead bodies choking on semen / Hate! Exsanguinate! / Hate! Eviscerate!”) while bass and drums burst sheer electricity into your ears. And in the metallic Natural Attraction, another brutal Rock N’ Roll creation by this explosive Russian duo, Vaarwel sounds like if the Devil went full Western.

big-gunsOur Moscow outlaws add a lot of gunpowder to their instruments and fire a high-octane tune perfect for some sick mosh pits titled Grammar Guerillas, with highlights to the amazing riffs by Postie and its berserk rhythm; whereas in Pearl Jammed an eerie love story is narrated in a very obscure way (“I met her at the Bon Jovi gig, she was pretty delightful / Long leather boots, violet wig, talking so happily sprightful / Word by word we felt this, chemistry burst like a blast / Pelvis dreamt of pelvis, lust language was unsurpassed”), leaning towards sheer Death Metal with hints of Sludge and Doom Metal just to make things more tasteful. Their last shot of aggressiveness, Dragon Hedge, gets back to their Death N’ Roll core essence, offering the listener deep, enraged growls enhanced by sharp guitar lines and heavy beats. When it’s over, I’m sure you’ll be eager for more of Big Guns’ immoral fusion of Death Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Are you ready to face the most wanted duo of Russian bandits in the world of heavy music? If you have the guts to challenge them for a duel, all you have to do is visit their Facebook page and purchase Six Shooter through their BandCamp page. Six Shooter might be extremely short in duration, but that doesn’t mean this cool EP doesn’t have the devastating effect of a bazooka, all thanks to the intensity and dexterity of two musicians that have an insane amount of lead and gunpowder flowing inside their veins.

Best moments of the album: Nightmares of Tomorrow and Grammar Guerillas.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Hard as Tin 1:37
2. Nightmares of Tomorrow 1:55
3. Natural Attraction 1:43
4. Grammar Guerillas 1:48
5. Pearl Jammed 2:10
6. Dragon Hedge 1:53

Band members
Vaarwel – vocals
Postie – guitars, bass, drum programming, backing vocals

Album Review – Be Under Arms / Doomed To Life (2016)

Do you think you’re worthy of joining this Russian army of Alternative Metal? If your answer is yes, then it’s time to get armed to the teeth with their uproarious and ruthless music.

Rating3

be under arms_doomed to lifeDon’t you just love when completely independent bands are capable of delivering to the world music that sounds a lot more entertaining and well-crafted than many of the already established and famous groups that have a lot of support from their record labels? Maybe that’s simply a statement of how many magnificent musicians are out there just waiting for their chance to shine to a bigger audience, or maybe that only proves how much the passion for heavy music can push the musician even further in their creative process. In the case of Russian Groove/Alternative Metal act Be Under Arms I would say it’s both, and after listening to their excellent new album Doomed To Life you’ll understand how this solid balance between technique and feeling will take this band to stardom.

Despite being a fairly new band, formed in 2013 by the dynamic duo Anna “White Queen” Logacheva and Vladimir “Szandor” Nasonov in Moscow, Russia, Be Under Arms already released a full-length album in 2014 named Let Shots Will Be Your Music, displaying what would be perhaps the most “Americanized” sounding you might ever find on Russian soil. Now with Doomed To Life their main influences coming from bands like Slipknot, Stone Sour and Five Finger Death Punch become even more noticeable, which combined with their unique concept, blending the atmosphere of old westerns with steampunk and our modern and urbanized world, makes their music even more electrifying. Even the dystopian album art transpires rebellion and anarchy. Put differently, are you ready for a neck-breaking experience offered by these talented Neo-Metal troopers?

Be Under Arms kick off the album with the theatrical and contemporary Armed & Defenseless and its Slipknot-inspired intro in an interesting blend of Alternative and Symphonic Metal, where Vladimir is responsible for the deep guttural growls while Anna takes care of the clean (and almost operatic) passages and high-pitched screams, followed by Lord Of The Bomb, a polished onslaught full of elements from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal. Vladimir pays a tribute to the most gruesome Death Metal singers such as Chris Barnes and Jeff Becerra, with bassist Dmitriy Kashirin and drummer Denis “John Doe” Vinitskiy adding tons of groove to the musicality, therefore enhancing the song’s punch. And their working single, Burn For This, is an breathtaking fusion of the high-speed and intricate music by Arch Enemy with the straightforward aggressiveness of the Butcher Babies, with the final result sounding beyond entertaining. Moreover, pay good attention to the metallic riffs by guitarists Viktor Gostemilov and Dmitriy Solo and to the passionate performance by Anna, they truly deserve that.

The whole band demands we keep banging our heads nonstop in March Of The Iron Hearts, a tune that leans towards pure Groove Metal with nuances of Death Metal, and as aforementioned it amazes me how a Russian band can sound so American and consequently ready to conquer the Western side of the world. And yet again inspired by the Butcher Babies, Keep This World provides the listener a violent ambience where Vladimir sounds as bestial as possible on vocals, with the song’s guitar riffs penetrating our heads and piercing our brains mercilessly. Then out of nowhere Be Under Arms morph their musicality from brutal Death Metal to modern Alternative Metal and back again within a short span of five minutes in the thrilling Locked And Bound, where Anna once again steals the spotlight with her deranged screams and also with her potent clean vocal lines.

be under armsDon’t even think about taking a break, because there’s a lot more to come in this awe-inspiring album, starting with To Rise From The Ashes, which presents that characteristic riffage from bands such as Slipknot by Viktor and Dmitriy, helping Vladimir and Anna in offering a great vocal duo to the listener. Be Under Arms then put the pedal to the metal in a hurricane of Melodic Death Metal full of anguished growls, fast beats and tons of groove entitled No Place Like Home, a short and sweet tune perfect for putting the audience to “dance” (or, in other words, slam into the circle pit). Surprisingly, after that we’re treated to a distinct chant named Spit On Your Grave, which is in fact a thoughtful power ballad despite its demented name (who doesn’t love that movie franchise?). While Anna’s vocals work extremely well during the whole song, Vladimir sounds a little weird with his clean vocals, somewhat like a gothic singer from the 80’s, but in the end when all is put together the result is very pleasant indeed.

The last part of the album gets back to sheer brutality, as you’ll be able to enjoy in Human Testing, which due to being slightly rawer than the other songs will surely cause a strong pain in your neck and maybe some bruises when played live. Then we have the title-track Doomed To Life showcasing the best riffs of the whole album by far (Viktor and Dmitriy were remarkably inspired when they composed them), with all other instruments being boosted by that energy flowing from the guitars and consequently turning this into another top moment of the album. On the other hand, in Kings Of Wasteland they tried to be even more alternative than usual, and despite not being a bad song it sounds a bit over the top. That doesn’t harm the overall quality of the album at all, but it’s surely the weakest chant in Doomed To Life. Lastly, we have the vile Metalcore chant Becoming A Monster, where we can enjoy a more introspective side of the band with highlights to the outstanding performances by Anna and Denis (not to mention its short but effective guitar solo), perfectly depicting the name given to it.

Do you think you’re worthy of joining this uproarious cyber army of Alternative Metal from Russia? If your answer is yes, go check their Facebook page, VKontakte and YouTube channel, and in order to get armed to the teeth with their ruthless music, you can find Doomed To Life on sale at the band’s official webshop or BandCamp page, as well as on iTunes. As aforementioned, based on what you will be able to witness in Doomed To Life, you’ll quickly realize this talented sextet from Moscow is actually “doomed” to awesomeness.

Best moments of the album: Lord Of The Bomb, Burn For This, No Place Like Home and Doomed To Life.

Worst moments of the album: Kings Of Wasteland.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Armed & Defenseless 4:39
2. Lord Of The Bomb 3:53
3. Burn For This 3:53
4. March Of The Iron Hearts 2:57
5. Keep This World 3:43
6. Locked And Bound 4:57
7. To Rise From The Ashes 3:29
8. No Place Like Home 2:24
9. Spit On Your Grave 2:36
10. Human Testing 3:19
11. Doomed To Life 4:27
12. Kings Of Wasteland 3:06
13. Becoming A Monster 4:28

Band members
Anna “White Queen” Logacheva – vocals
Vladimir “Szandor” Nasonov – vocals
Viktor Gostemilov – guitar
Dmitriy Solo – guitar
Dmitriy Kashirin – bass
Denis “John Doe” Vinitskiy – drums

Album Review – Frozen Ocean / The Prowess Of Dormition EP (2016)

Open your ears and your heart, and follow the ear-splitting sound of a frozen ocean of Atmospheric Black Metal hailing from the almighty Russia.

Rating4

hi-res coverSince the year of 2005, Russian multi-instrumentalist Vaarwel (who’s also a member of the excellent Russian bands Goatpsalm and Smothered Bowels) has been crafting music of incredible power, imagination, diversity and depth, releasing his creations under the banner of  Frozen Ocean. Hailing from the city of Moscow, Russia, this unstoppable metaller seems to have an endless fountain of creativity inside his blackened mind, always expressing his unique view of obscure themes such as winter, death and depression, and always avoiding any labels or preset formulas (let’s simply call his music Atmospheric Black Metal for you readers to understand the whole concept a little better). For instance, he was capable of delivering nothing less than 7 (seven!) Frozen Ocean albums in 2011, five of those being full-length ones. And now, in 2016, he has already started spreading his starless arias all over the world with a brand new EP entitled The Prowess Of Dormition.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of bands such as Moonsorrow, Borknagar and Sigh, or if you prefer rawer Black Metal acts like Dark Funeral and Immortal, the music found in The Prowess Of Dormition will definitely leave a (good) scar on your metallic soul due to its beauty, heaviness and complexity. Featuring an absorbing artwork by British artist/photographer Kieran Wakeman (Divine Chaos Art), who has already worked with bands such as Cadaveria, The King is Blind and Terror Universal, the EP has a lot to offer us metalheads in its 25-minute journey through gelid landscapes and dark thoughts, split in four distinct harmonious tunes.

The atmospheric intro in No Blizzard promptly invites the listener to the cold and desolated realms of Frozen Ocean, with Vaarwel making sure the harmony and pace of the song generate the necessary ambience for his harsh growls. In addition, Doom Metal elements are brought forth especially by the song’s gentle keyboard notes and constant beats delivered by Vaarwel, luring us to go even deeper into his dark world. And this doom-ish vibe goes on in the very somber and melodic Once Aglow, where there’s a lot of melancholy and sorrow flowing from Vaarwel’s growling. Moreover, the nice break halfway through it provides the listener some well-deserved peace of mind, before obscurity returns in this flawless fusion of Atmospheric and Symphonic Black Metal.

Frozen Ocean 3Det Siste Snøfallet (Norwegian for “the last snowfall”) begins at full force with its relentless beats and riffs, which aim at representing the harshest snowfall in the history of mankind. It’s a captivating instrumental tune where Vaarwel showcases all his abilities as a musician (and as a lover of dark music), working as an “extended” intro to the title-track, The Prowess Of Dormition, an amazing composition that offers the listener Frozen Ocean’s trademark Black Metal with hints of Folk and Viking Metal. Its keyboards get even more prominent and sinister, yet again providing a smooth break with endless amounts of feeling and melancholy until the music flows into a climatic ending, therefore concluding the album brilliantly.

In a nutshell, although The Prowess Of Dormition has been released as “just” an EP, it’s substantially more intricate and intense than most full-length records you might find anywhere, proving how talented Vaarwel is and providing hints of what this Russian one-man army might breed next. And in order to keep updated with everything happening with Frozen Ocean, go check their Facebook, VKontakte, YouTubeSoundCloud and BandCamp, and also buy your copy of The Prowess Of Dormition at the Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings’ official BandCamp and Big Cartel pages or at CD Baby. Just open your ears and your heart, relax, and follow the ear-splitting sound of this frozen ocean of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: The Prowess Of Dormition.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings

Track listing
1.No Blizzard 6:06
2.Once Aglow 7:10
3.Det Siste Snøfallet 5:19
4.The Prowess Of Dormition 6:15

Band members
Vaarwel – vocals, all instruments

Metal Chick of the Month – Masha Scream

masha01

Славься, Русь, Земля моя!

We all agree that pretty much any Russian girl could be one of Victoria’s Secret’s best top models. What some of us don’t know is that many of those сексуальная women are also very talented artists, such as our Heavy Metal babe this month, the awesome Masha Scream, the founder, vocalist and main songwriter of Russian Epic Pagan Metal band Arkona (or Аркона, in Russian).

Born on January 9, 1983 in the Russian capital Moscow, Masha Scream’s real name is Maria Arkhipova (or Мари́я Архипова, in Russian). Although her musical influences and background come mainly from Pagan Metal, Black Metal and Folk Metal, Masha has mentioned in many interviews that Arkona is not just a music band, especially in regards to her creative process. There’s a lot of experimentation and development in the music created by Masha, in order to present to people her view of the world and what is in her soul, which means that basically nothing limits her in this process. According to Masha herself, “I’m inspired by life and all depends on the situation around me. Every my song is an emotional flash or pain about something.”

To date, Masha has already recorded with Arkona seven full-length studio albums and one EP, which are Vozrozhdeniye (2004), Lepta (2004), Vo Slavu Velikim! (2005), Ot Serdtsa K Nebu (2007), Goi, Rode, Goi! (2009), Stenka Na Stenku EP (2011), Slovo (2011), and Yav (2014), as well as three live albums called Zhizn Vo Slavu (2006), Noch Velesova (2009) and Decade of Glory (2013). A very curious fact happened on March 11, 2010, when a short clip of the song Yarilo, from the album Goi, Rode, Goi!, was featured on the St. Patrick’s Day episode of the U.S. version of the TV series The Office. The scene shows three janitors, who are probably Russian, entering the office with the song playing while the workers were still there, forced to work late.

Apart from Arkona, Masha has also recorded one full-length album with Russian Black Metal band Nargathrond, named Inevitability (2004); and was also the lead singer for Russian Doom/Power Metal band Slavery, that time as Masha Arhipova, during the year of 2000.

Masha has also appeared as a guest musician in many different bands and projects, and that was not only in Russia. To name a few, her powerful voice can be enjoyed on Russian Folk Metal band Svarga‘s first two albums (Ogni na Kurganah, from 2005, and There, Where Woods Doze…, from 2007), on Slovakian Folk Black Metal band Ancestral Volkhves‘ second studio album Perun Do Vas!!!, from 2008, on Russian Folk/Pagan Metal band Alkonost’s album The Path We’ve Never Made, from 2006, and on Russian Folk/Black Metal band Rossomahaar’s album The Reign of Terror, from 2010, among others.

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All that creativity and passion for music is also represented in Masha’s life by the incredible amount of different music instruments she can play. She doesn’t only sing extremely well, but she also plays keyboards, percussion, tambourine, komuz, acoustic guitars, shaker, and since 2002 she’s been also playing the Shaman’s drum. Our Russian diva also mentioned in one of her interviews that despite not being into politics at all, she truly loves the long and very complicated history of her country, especially its nature. This can be seen in any of Arkona’s videos, such as Slavsia, RusLiki Bessmertnykh Bogov and Zov Pustyh Dereven, where she’s in total contact with the four classical elements of nature, and in her lyrics always full of passion for all Russian and nature things. In my opinion, these are the key points that make Masha and her music so unique and captivating in the world of Heavy Metal, and something very few people are able to imitate or replicate in such a sublime (and aggressive) way.

Thereat,  not even the fact that Arkona’s music is totally sung in Russian has stopped Masha and her bandmates from conquering the world: the band has already been to different parts of the world to show their mighty music, including countries such as Germany, Sweden, Belgium, USA, Canada, Brazil, England, Italy, Portugal and many others. Among all of their tours and concerts, Masha mentioned that one of Arkona’s craziest experiences happened in the beginning of 2013 when the band went on the amazing 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise to the Caribbean, as one of the 40 attractions playing during the four-day cruise. “There were 4,000 people on board, a buffet and so many interesting things! We had a cabin with access to the ocean, and I was even lucky enough to see flying fish through the window.”, she said.

Of course nothing is perfect: Masha is married to her fellow band member Sergei “Lazar” Atrashkevich, with whom she has two children, so you can already stop dreaming about winning her heart and be satisfied by just admiring her beauty and her stunning music.

Masha Scream’s Official Facebook page
Masha Scream’s Official Twitter
Masha Scream’s Official VKontakte
Arkona’s Official Facebook page

“You don’t need to regret about what you have done because it’s part of your life and also part of you. You just need to remember your mistakes and to not make them again in the future!” – Masha Scream

Album Review – Aethyr / Corpus (2015)

A “lecture” in Occultism crafted by a very competent band from Russia that will satisfy your craving for freakish heavy music.

Rating4

AETHYR - Corpus cover artAethyr, a reference for the fifth element (or spirit) in various forms of Metaphysics and Occultism, is already a magnificent name for any heavy music band simply due to its meaning and pronunciation. However, it gets even more suitable when the band is capable of transferring all those mystical principles to their music, which is the case with Russian Doom Metal band Aethyr and their brand new album, the dense and ominous Corpus.

On their first full-length since their 2010 album Messio, this talented quartet from Moscow goes beyond the boundaries of darkness, with exceptional doses of heaviness loaded with a spine-chilling ambience not recommended for the faint-hearted. Just take a look at the album art, designed by Rotten Fantom, and you can have a very good idea of the level of despair Aethyr offer us all in this excellent release.

The obscure sonority found in the opening track, Nihil Grail, with its slow and somber riffs and drums, epitomizes the dark side of Doom Metal. In addition, the demonic vocals by Mr. D give this “polished wickedness” a touch of Black Metal, with its last part being at the same time mesmerizing and disturbing. I’m pretty sure Tom G. Warrior, the mastermind behind Triptykon, would love this song. Following this amazing tune, it’s impossible not to bang your head to the heavy riffs found in Sanctus Satanicus: whatever Mr. D is singing he sounds possessed by an evil entity, and when the band speeds up the music it becomes almost pure raw Black Metal so harsh it sounds.

AETHYR band photoThe epic 10-minute eerie track ATU showcases deeper guttural vocals maximized by cryptic riffs in the background, with a melancholic break at around four minutes. There’s a lot of progressiveness, tempo changes and mysterious passages skillfully played by all band members which are definitely worth our attention. Then we have the awesome CVLT, a song that’s Doom Metal at its finest, with sludgy riffs, strong beats and, more important than that, a depressive feeling that’s essential for good dark music.

But the maleficent aura created by Aethyr gets even stronger in The Gnostic Mass, which is not exactly a song but just weird sounds from what seems to be a black mass; and then in the title-track CORPUS, another 10-minute badass song that kind of continues with the weirdness from the previous track for over a minute, before the low-tuned guitars by Mr. D and Mr. W evoke all the hopelessness and sorrow of Funeral Doom while drummer Mr. S and bassist Mr. Y dictate the song’s wonderfully wretched rhythm. You can get a sense of how lugubrious this track is just by the fact that there are very few vocals lines in it, only after six minutes of music and not for too long. Finally, in order to darken your mind and your heart even more, Aethyr offer us lots of traditional Doom Metal elements in Templum, where the band gets “infuriated” halfway through it, generating chaos and havoc to close the album on a high note.

Take a shot at the album trailer HERE and at the band’s official BandCamp page for a taste of Aethyr’s music, and of course visit their Facebook page for more details about the release of Corpus and the band’s upcoming concerts. More than just a Doom Metal album, Corpus is a “lecture” in Occultism that will satisfy your thirst for creepy and deranged heavy music, and you will get addicted to it without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Nihil Grail, CVLT and CORPUS.

Worst moments of the album: The Gnostic Mass, but only because it’s not an actual song.

Released in 2015 Cimmerian Shade Recordings

Track listing
1. Nihil Grail 7:03
2. Sanctus Satanicus 4:28
3. ATU 10:21
4. CVLT 5:23
5. The Gnostic Mass 6:11
6. CORPUS 10:05
7. Templum 6:29

Band members
Mr. D (Denis Dubovik) – vocals, lead guitar
Mr. W (Vladimir Snegotsky) – rhythm guitar
Mr. Y (George Meshkov) – bass
Mr. S (Anton Sidorov) – drums

Album Review – Terratomorf / Я – легенда EP (2014)

This independent Russian Power Metal band goes straight to the point with 20 minutes of professional, honest and traditional heavy music, just the way we like it.

Rating5

Ya LegendaI must admit “Mother Russia” has been positively surprising me in terms of heavy music in the past few years. It seems that those dark days when Heavy Metal or even the most simple form of Rock N’ Roll were non-existent in the biggest country in the world are long gone and now day after day many high-quality metal bands are born there, which is the case with Russian Power Metal band Terratomorf.

Founded in 2013 in Moscow, and after a few lineup changes, this promising band has recently released their first EP entitled Я – легенда (Ya – Legenda), or “I am Legend” in English, which can be easily summarized as 20 minutes of pure “straight to the point” Power Metal. And by that I mean Terratomorf play a nice and vigorous Power Metal without exaggerating on vocals, guitar solos or on anything else, sounding so professional (especially for an independent band) and honest that it makes the listener eager for a full-length album.

The opening track of the EP, the title-track Я – легенда (Ya – Legenda), begins with a excellent Megadeth-ish intro that flows smoothly into strong and melodic vocals, which by the way remind me sometimes  of the powerful voice of J. Ahola (Teräsbetoni, Ahola), complemented by clean heavy riffs and a catchy chorus even for non-Russian speakers. Not only that, this song already showcases an above-average quality in the production of the EP. The following song, Судьба (Sudba), or “Fate” in English, follows more traditional Power Metal lines the likes of Teräsbetoni and Manowar and keeps the overall quality of the EP really high, with highlights to its galloping drums, a pleasant guitar solo, and Artur Berkut, who was the lead singer for traditional Russian Heavy Metal band Aria from 2002 to 2011, as a guest vocalist.

TerratomorfThe nice rhythm in Призрачный мир (Prizrachniy Mir), or “Haunted World” in English, gains an extra dose of energy with a more modern American riff and its melodic drumming, while the headbanging tune В небеса (V Nebesa), or “In Heaven” in English, is perfect for some air guitar due to its very traditional riffs, and the Thrash Metal elements the band added to the song to give it a special “kick” especially during the second half of it. Last but not least, we have Город души (Gorod Dushi), or “Soul City” in English, where you can notice a huge influence of German Power Metal in their musicality, and once again it’s very enjoyable to follow the vocal lines by Nikita Salischev (mainly during the chorus) and the excellent job done by drummer Alexandr Dmitriev.

One might ask where Terratomorf will go with their music. Well, that’s something only time will tell, but based on the quality of their first EP and the talent of the musicians involved, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing those Russian guys touring around different countries and reaching even some markets overseas where the Russian language is not present at all. For now, we can at least rest assured Heavy Metal is getting stronger and stronger thanks to many independent bands all over the world, with Terratomorf being a very welcome addition to the increasing list of excellent bands representing the Russian Federation.

Best moments of the album: Я – легенда (Ya – Legenda) and В небеса (V Nebesa).

Worst moments of the album: As I’ve mentioned a couple of times in this website, it’s not fair to select a bad moment from a relatively short EP like this one (the same reason why it didn’t get more than a 3.0). Let’s wait for a full-length Terratomorf album to do that.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Я – легенда (Ya – Legenda) 3:21
2. Судьба (Sudba) 4:22
3. Призрачный мир (Prizrachniy Mir) 4:15
4. В небеса (V Nebesa) 4:18
5. Город души (Gorod Dushi) 4:56

Band members
Nikita Salischev – vocals
Sergey Gviniashvili – guitar
Vladislav Balashov – guitar
Alexandr Dmitriev – drums

Guest musician
Artur Berkut – additional vocals on Судьба (Sudba)