Album Review – Forte Ruin / Rebuilding the Machinery EP (2018)

A talented six-piece Melodic Death Metal act from Finland returns with a brand new EP where they step up their game in terms of quality, intricacy and professionalism.

If you’ve been following The Headbanging Moose for a few years already, you might remember a Finnish Melodic Death Metal band from the city of Lahti named Forte Ruin, who released in 2015 their debut self-titled EP comprised of three original compositions filled with memorable melodies, powerful riffs and catchy choruses. Now in 2018 that talented six-piece metal act returns with a brand new EP entitled Rebuilding the Machinery, where not only they step up their game in terms of quality and intricacy, but the band formed by Arttu Ruusunen on lead vocals, Saku and Samu Aaltonen on guitars and backing vocals, Arto Viitanen on bass and backing vocals, Veli-Matti Kyllönen on keyboards, and Jere Aaltonen on drums sounds a lot more professional and ready to spread their music throughout the four corner of the earth.

And the EP kick off in full force with Down in Perdition, a very melodic and pounding creation by the sextet showcasing clean and rumbling sounds, spiced up by the futuristic keys by Veli-Matti while Arttu growls the song’s poetic lyrics rabidly (“All these revelations and present / Are finally align so that we’ll understand / Our time here has come to an end / In perdition we could meet again perchance”). Furthermore, Saku and Samu not only deliver excellent riffs during the whole song, but their solos are also beyond thrilling. Then deeply rooted in classic Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal we have the title-track Rebuilding the Machinery, faster than its predecessor and presenting a great balance between visceral growls and clean vocals, as well as a great job done by all band members with their instruments, in special Jere with his fierce and rhythmic beats.

Displaying hints of American Alternative and Nu Metal (and once again with the keys by Veli-Matti bringing a whimsical aura to the musicality), Colony Collapse Disorder exhales sheer electricity, with Arto delivering thunder through his menacing bass lines while the guitar solos elevate the song’s impact and taste considerably. In Electric Frames, just like what they did in their previous EP, Forte Ruin add nuances of Jazz and electronic music to their Scandinavian Metal, and the the final result couldn’t sound more fantastic, all boosted by the song’s lyrics which seem taken from a song from the 70’s (“Great illusion within’ electric frames / We can see the integration / While we process all the traveling light / Of electric frames”). And Saturation Point, featuring guest vocals by Jules Näveri from Profane Omen, is tailored for banging your head nonstop or playing some ass-kicking air guitar, with the bass lines by Arto bringing tons of groove to the musicality while the keys by Veli-Matti keep adding a touch of delicacy to the overall result.

Featuring a modern and sinister artwork by Finnish artist Marianna Maaninka, Rebuilding the Machinery not only has all the elements we search for in Melodic Death Metal, but it also brings additional layers of intricacy and feeling thanks to all other music styles Forte Ruin incorporate in their music, and in order to show your proper support to this Finnish squad go check their Facebook page, YouTube channel and Spotify for news and more of their music. You can purchase Rebuilding the Machinery from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Record Shop X or CD Baby, and add such distinct collection of Scandinavian Metal songs to your personal playlist, courtesy of a band that might be taking their initial steps in the world of heavy music, but that at the same time already sounds like veterans due to the high quality of their compositions and their utter professionalism.

Best moments of the album: Rebuilding the Machinery and Electric Frames.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing  
1. Down in Perdition 4:18
2. Rebuilding the Machinery 3:57
3. Colony Collapse Disorder 4:29
4. Electric Frames 4:24
5. Saturation Point (feat. Jules Näveri) 6:27

Band members
Arttu Ruusunen – lead vocals
Saku Aaltonen – guitars & backing vocals
Samu Aaltonen – guitars & backing vocals
Arto Viitanen – bass & backing vocals
Veli-Matti Kyllönen – keyboards
Jere Aaltonen – drums

Guest musician
Jules Näveri – guest vocals on “Saturation Point”

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Album Review – Terror Universal / Make Them Bleed (2018)

Behold the rise of the masked fearsome foursome of modern American metal and their bloodthirsty, action-packed debut album.

Comprised of current and former members of rock and metal renowned acts such as Machine Head, Ill Niño, Soulfly and Upon A Burning Body, here comes American Horror Metal masked supergroup Terror Universal, who have been unstoppable since the band’s inception back in 2014, having released their debut EP Reign of Terror in 2015 and shared the stage alongside heavy hitters including Korn, Asking Alexandria, Papa Roach and Fear Factory, among others. Now in 2018 those masked marauders are set to release their debut full-length album Make Them Bleed via minus HEAD Records, an album that can undoubtedly be considered the musical equivalent of a slasher film due to its aggressiveness, tension, lunacy and obviously the distinctiveness and eccentricity of each of the band’s bizarre members.

Snapping from moments of intense sonic bloodletting into menacing melodic mayhem, before creeping back into the shadows to do it all over again, the fearsome foursome Plague on vocals, Thrax on the guitar, Diabolus on bass and Massacre on drums live up to the legacy of modern-day American Alternative and Groove Metal the likes of Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Five Finger Death Punch, Deftones, Disturbed and so on. Produced by the band’s own members and mixed by Eddie Wohl (Smile Empty Soul, Fuel, Ill Niño, 36Crazyfists), Make Them Bleed will become the soundtrack to your most wicked nightmares, blasting your senses with its avalanche of heavy and metallic sounds and noises.

And the monstrous quartet kicks off their freak show of metal with a ferocious tune titled Passage of Pain, where Diabolus and Massacre make sure the ambience remains as heavy, menacing and obscure as possible with their rumbling bass and drums, respectively, while Plague screams and shouts like a true beast. Then in Welcome to Hell (which you can also watch as a guitar playthrorugh and as a bass playthrough on YouTube) Plague sounds utterly enraged, while Thrax transforms his guitar into a bloodthirsty weapon, resulting in the perfect depiction of modern extreme and alternative music made in the USA; followed by Spines, where an electronic-ish intro quickly evolves into a very dark and melodic sonority that could easily be played on any radio station, but still feeling extremely heavy. Featuring guest musician John Moyer (Disturbed) on bass, this can be called “a love song crafted by monsters”, sounding somehow romantic and violent at the same time.

Taking their animosity to a much higher level, Terror Universal bring forth the title-track Make Them Bleed, with the amazing low-tuned punches by Diabolus making the whole song more impactful. Moreover, its neck-breaking rhythm is effectively boosted by Plague’s demented growls, turning it into their personal hymn of sheer rage against everything and everyone, perfect for “spreading the violence” and “fucking the world” as Plague himself screams during the song. Then in Through the Mirrors they engage in their most Slipknot/Stone Sour-inspired mode, with the sick beats by Massacre guiding the musicality while Plague fires his crisp, acid vocals, not to mention Thrax and his cutting riffs; followed by the excellent Dig You A Hole with its gripping pace and vocal lines, enhanced by the fierce circus-like beats by Massacre and the song’s spot-on backing vocals. This is definitely one of the best new Alternative/Nu Metal songs you can find out there, making us bang our heads like maniacs without even noticing together with those four masked beasts.

Featuring the unstoppable Tony Campos (Fear Factory, Ministry, Soulfly, Static-X) on bass, who ends up giving the overall sound an Industrial Metal-like vibe with his crushing bass lines, Dead on Arrival is an excellent option for the band’s live performances to make everyone jump up and down together with them, whereas Into Darkness offers the listener another blast of their modern-day Horror Metal, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. Let’s say that it’s not a bad tune, but those freaks of nature sound way too “docile” in this case. On the other hand, their most savage and bestial mode arises in a great explosion of Groove and Thrash Metal named Your Time Has Come, with Thrax and Diabolus leading the carnage with their razor-edged strings, before Piece by Piece concludes the album like a bulldozer, with its metallic sounds penetrating deep inside our ears while Plague alternates between growling like a demon and firing his keen clean vocals.

In summary, if you enjoy modern American metal with an extra dosage of insanity and fury, all wrapped up by the grim and monstrous faces of Terror Universal, you’ll certainly have a good time listening to the music from Make Them Bleed. You can face those four creatures from hell anytime through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of the album through their BandCamp page, through their Pledge Music page, on iTunes or on Amazon. Just make sure you’re in good shape and ready to rock to the sound of Terror Universal because, you know, you won’t be dealing with regular people, but with rabid monsters of modern metal eager to taste your blood.

Best moments of the album: Welcome to Hell, Make Them Bleed and Dig You A Hole.

Worst moments of the album: Into Darkness.

Released in 2018 minus HEAD Records

Track listing    
1. Passage of Pain 3:57
2. Welcome to Hell 3:41
3. Spines (feat. John Moyer) 3:18
4. Make Them Bleed 3:32
5. Through the Mirrors 4:10
6. Dig You A Hole 4:35
7. Dead on Arrival (feat. Tony Campos) 3:34
8. Into Darkness 4:17
9. Your Time Has Come 3:21
10. Piece by Piece 3:06

Band members
Plague – vocals
Thrax – guitars
Diabolus – bass
Massacre – drums

Guest musicians
John Moyer – bass on “Spines”
Tony Campos – bass on “Dead on Arrival”

Metal Chick of the Month – Fallon Bowman

Then we lay there… Embracing our last stare… On a moonlit afternoon…

As The Headbanging Moose is based in Toronto, Canada, probably the most multi-cultural city in the world, there’s nothing better than having as our last metal chick of the year of 2017 a woman of Dutch and Indonesian descent that was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but that currently resides here in Toronto, playing an also diverse range of musical styles such as Alternative Metal, Nu Metal, Rock, Industrial and even Electronica. This woman, who’s a skillful vocalist and guitarist, goes by the name of Fallon Bowman, known for her involvement with the bands Kittie, Pigface and Amphibious Assault, as well as a solo career which she’s been pursuing since around 2011. Having said that, are you ready to bang your head to the electrifying music by the exotic Fallon?

Born on November 16, 1983 in Cape Town, a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain, Fallon has been active in the world of alternative and heavy music since 1996, when at the age of fourteen years old she helped to form Canadian Alternative Metal act Kittie with classmate Mercedes Lander and Mercedes’ sister, Morgan Lander, playing guitar and performing backing vocals for the band from their inception in 1996 until August 2001, when she left the band. As a matter of fact, her passion for music actually started a few years before Kittie, when she was around 10 years old, when she was fascinated with a guitar her grandfather had at his home in South Africa. However, she mentioned the guitar was not her first choice, as at first she wanted to be a drummer when she was around 12, but her parents were against it and she ended up getting a guitar from them after they saw her performance playing the song Violet, by Hole, at a school assembly with a friend using a friend’s guitar. Getting back to Kittie, Fallon has already explained several times in different interviews why she left the band, saying she was unhappy with some things in the band so she felt that maybe it was time for her to depart. Our dauntless guitarist recorded two albums with Kittie, those being the full-length Spit, in 1999, and the EP Paperdoll, in 2000, comprised of a remix of Spit’s song Paperdoll and five songs from Spit recorded live on June 15, 2000 at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden.

Regarding the writing and meaning of the song Choke in Spit, Fallon said that it is “about someone telling you that they love you so much, and they put you up on a pedestal and make you feel great, then they turn around and say “screw you”, and you can sense that feeling while listening to the song (which you can do HERE). Furthermore, just to give you an idea of the impact of the release of Spit, right after that Kittie went on tours with bands such as Chevelle, Slipknot, Suicidal Tendencies, and Shuvel, also performing at Ozzfest and at the 2001 SnoCore festival. Hence, if you want to listen to Fallon playing her flammable guitar with Kittie, I recommend the songs Brackish and Charlotte, both taken from Spit.

Right after her departure from Kittie, Fallon experienced a period of stress due to splitting up with her friends from the band, but she managed to overcome that difficult situation after a while and got involved with her two next endeavors, the distinct bands Pigface and Amphibious Assault. Pigface is an industrial music supergroup formed in 1990 by Martin Atkins (Ministry, Killing Joke) and William Rieflin (Ministry, KMFDM, R.E.M., King Crimson), featuring tons of guest musicians such as our metal babe Fallon. She ended up recording several tracks with Pigface for their 2003 album Easy Listening…, which led her to begin writing music again due to the enjoyment she had during the recording process. She then purchased a sequencer and began exploring the industrial music genre that she admired but had never actively pursued, also filling her basement in the following months with drum machines and synthesizers, which in the end led to the writing of the songs for District Six, the debut album by her upcoming industrial project Amphibious Assault, mixing lots of heavy elements and aspects with her passion for industrial music. The name of the project was chosen during a flight from Toronto to New Jersey, when Bowman, at the age of seventeen, was skimming through a Tom Clancy novel when she came upon the term “amphibious assault”, with the whole project being, according to our talented musician herself, her personal “homage” to her KMFDM days, when she was obsessed with them. Amphibious Assault went on for a few years, from 2003 until 2007, with two full-length albums released, the aforementioned District Six in 2003 and On Better Days and Sin-Eating in 2006. If you want to take a listen at this more electronic side of Fallon, I recommend you check the songs Tears In Rain, District 6, The Importance Of Finding Narcissism, Mistakes, Breaks, Way Too Lates, and Benedictine, among many others.

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After the end of Amphibious Assault, Fallon mentioned that a new project was about to become a reality, tentatively named “Oh No, Torpedo!”, but that in the end became her solo project Fallon Bowman & The Grace Dynasty (with The Grace Dynasty being a five-piece band that included Rhim of The Birthday Massacre on drums), playing a series of live shows before announcing their forthcoming debut album, titled Human, Conditional, from 2011. However, right after the recording of the album was done, it was decided that the project would drop “The Grace Dynasty” from its name, being then just known as Fallon Bowman. You can take a detailed listen at Human, Conditional at Bowman’s own BandCamp page, with songs like the title-track Human, Conditional and Rio de Janeiro being a good sample of how her latest project sounds like.

Regarding her vocal range and her skills as a musician, Fallon mentioned in one of her interviews she’s highly influenced by R&B (thanks to her sister and parents), which allows her to do more than “just” scream and yell while singing, and that she hadn’t taken any singing lesson until she left Kittie. She said that her vocal teacher taught her all sorts of essential lessons about maintaining pitch while moving, and that she incorporated those into her performances to give it a more theatrical vibe. In addition, she also mentioned the emotion she transpires during her live performances is something that just happens, it’s very organic and it arises from the same place her lyrics and pain come from. And even in the middle of that sea of emotions, Fallon has time to sharpen her playing skills, being able to play guitar, keyboards, bass and sing (and getting there in regards to the piano), all helping her become a better composer. And did you know she has a degree in archeology? Well, that’s something almost no one actually knew until she was the subject of a prank for an episode of the short-lived Animal Planet series Freak Encounters a few years ago.

Fallon’s influences in music are just as diverse as her own background, with our talented multi-instrumentalist being highly influenced by R&B when it comes to her vocal style, but of course she also draws a lot of inspiration from electronic and rock music, saying that she loves the contrast between angelic singing and harder music. In terms of names, she said her taste for music varies from Whitney Houston to Deftones, from Calvin Harris to VNV Nation to Nirvana, and so on, mentioning that there’s beauty in all types of music. When asked about a band that she would have loved to tour with from the past, she promptly mentioned Nirvana, saying that meeting Kurt Cobain would have been a mind-blowing experience and that Nirvana, alongside with Hole, were the bands that made her want to be a musician. Furthermore, Fallon still had time to create her own dream band, that being David Gahan from Depeche Mode on vocals, Danny Carey from Tool on drums, Ryan from Mudvayne on bass, and Jimi Hendrix on guitar. How awesome do you think that supergroup would sound?

When asked about all changes that have impacted the music industry since she started her career back in 1996, she said when Kittie started they had almost no focus on the internet, as there wasn’t Facebook or anything like that at that time, saying it was all about street teams made up of fans that would spread the word about each band, something that doesn’t happen anymore nowadays. Fallon has been trying to learn about new apps and platforms to promote her music, and you can find her in several places, as for example you can buy her music on BandCamp, something that didn’t exist at all in the 90’s. Well, she’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, so let’s say she has adapted to this new reality in the music business as much as her taste in music has changed and evolved, right? Well, now let’s wait and see what the future holds for this young and restless musician, hoping that she keeps “invading” all current and new types of social media sites and music apps with her uniqueness and electricity.

Fallon Bowman’s Official Facebook page
Fallon Bowman’s Official Twitter
Fallon Bowman’s Official Instagram
Fallon Bowman’s Official YouTube channel
Fallon Bowman’s Official BandCamp

“I didn’t consciously think of what I was doing as a step for me as a woman of colour – it was more simple than that – being a teenager wanting to be a rockstar. In retrospect however, no one besides maybe Skin was doing that style of music and was also a woman of colour. It’s a bit mind blowing really. There was really no one else doing that at that level.” – Fallon Bowman

Album Review – Motograter / Desolation (2017)

Get “motograted” by the thrilling fusion of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock blasted by this tenacious American outfit.

Do you know what a “motograter” is? If you’re familiar with the fusion of Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock crafted by a relentless American squad known as Motograter, you already known that the “motograter” is a homemade musical instrument designed with industrial cable and guitar pieces that creates a unique bass sound, and by that you can imagine how thunderous their music sounds. Formed in 1995 in Santa Barbara, California, United States, the band (which by the way displays a tribal style body paint for their live concerts) has suffered considerable lineup changes and a few split-ups since their inception, but that didn’t stop the band from keeping on rocking, being reunited once again a few years ago and releasing this year their second full-length album after their 2003 debut self-titled release (featuring Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch on vocals), the hard and heavy Desolation, now with James Legion (Deadform, The Breathing Process) on the vocal duties.

As aforementioned, the reinvigorated Motograter, comprised of the talented James Legion on vocals, Matthew “Nuke” Nunes and Jesse Stamper on guitars, Mylon Guy on bass, Noah “Shark” Robertson on drums and Dustin “Skunk” Anderson on the motograter, will hit you in the face with a feast of alternative and metallic sounds found in their new album, with the artwork designed by Mister-Sam Shearon (who has already worked with renowned bands such as Iron Maiden, Ministry, Rob Zombie and Rammstein, among several others, and also created covers for comic books and graphic novels including Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Judge Dredd and The X-Files) effectively representing the energy and aggressiveness you’ll find throughout the entire album. With that said, are you ready to be “motograted” by this insane metal tribe?

You’ll experience modernity and electricity flowing from the very first second of the opening track Parasite, where Mylon, Noah and Dustin provide their welcome card in the form of thunderous and vibrant background sounds, giving all the necessary support for James to thrive with his vocals in an awesome blend of Hard Rock with Alternative and Nu Metal. Gripping guitar lines kick off another born-to-be-a-hit composition by Motograter, titled Dorian, with Matthew and Jesse slashing our ears with their riffs while Noah keeps the musicality as heavy as it can be with his pounding drums, not to mention the song’s completely addictive chorus that won’t leave your head for a few weeks; and their galvanized, rumbling sounds continue to permeate the atmosphere in Victim, another great sample of their contemporary Alternative Metal led by the ominous vocals by James.

In the excellent Paragon it becomes clear that those American metallers will never get tired of piercing our brains with their rumbling tones and roars, with the motograter going along really well with the song’s guitar riffs and the potent voice by James, being perfect for banging our heads nonstop together with the band due to its modern and thrilling rhythm. Slowing down a bit and sounding less metallic, Bleeding Through is a semi-ballad by this skillful sextet recommended for some radio play, albeit not as dynamic and fun as the rest of the album, followed by Misanthropical, which despite feeling like it’s going to be another ballad, it slowly morphs into an obscure metal chant with the motograter shaking the foundations of the earth, while the infernal duo Noah and Mylon continue to set fire to the music, and with the song’s guttural vocals adding some good amount of fury to the overall result. Daggers keeps the album at a great level of intricacy and stamina in an interesting mix of what’s almost a dark ballad with the heavier sounds of Alternative Metal, with Mathew and Jesse being fantastic on guitars, delivering both smoother and more electrified riffs during the whole song.

The last part of the album begins with Portrait of Decay, a hybrid of the more visceral music by Slipknot with the melody found in bands such as Alter Bridge, therefore becoming another strong candidate to become a radio favorite due to its catchy pace and vocals. Locust sounds and feels more aggressive than most of the album’s previous tracks, with Noah smashing his drums flawlessly while Mylon and Dustin make sure the music remains vibrant at all times (and let’s not forget about its harsh growls, one of the main ingredients that make this tune so amazing). Rise (There Will Be Blood), the second to last tune in Desolation, is one of those songs to jump up and down with the band during their live performances, bringing elements of more alternative bands like Linkin Park to their already potent sonority, followed by Shadows, a decent dark ballad that’s slightly below what Motograter can offer us despite the great job done by James on vocals. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re into modern metal ballads.

In case you feel you’re more than ready to be “motograted” by Motograter, simply follow them on Facebook and listen to their music on YouTube or on Spotify. And if Desolation brings forward all you enjoy in modern metal music, you can buy your copy at the EMP Label Group webstore as a regular CD or as a CD + t-shirt bundle, as well as on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs. Not only Desolation has all elements needed to be a must-have album for admirers of contemporary Alternative Metal, but above all it will definitely help Motograter in solidifying their path in heavy music, and let’s hope the band’s lineup is finally stabilized once and for all and that they keep delivering high-end albums like this one for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Parasite, Dorian, Paragon and Locust.

Worst moments of the album: Bleeding Through and Shadows.

Released in 2017 EMP Label Group

Track listing
1. Parasite 3:46
2. Dorian 3:46
3. Victim 3:30
4. Paragon 4:03
5. Bleeding Through 3:28
6. Misanthropical 3:41
7. Daggers 4:21
8. Portrait of Decay 3:35
9. Locust 3:42
10. Rise (There Will Be Blood) 3:40
11. Shadows 3:18

Band members
James Legion – vocals
Matthew “Nuke” Nunes – guitar
Jesse Stamper – guitar
Mylon Guy – bass
Noah “Shark” Robertson – drums
Dustin “Skunk” Anderson – motograter

Guest musicians
Aleksi Oksa – samples
Justin Fowler, Ahrue Luster & Jon Berrier – additional samples

Album Review – Project Renegade / Cerebra EP (2017)

Presenting a solid fusion of dark, modern and gothic elements in their compositions, this newborn Hellenic entity has all it takes to become one of the biggest exponents in European Alternative Metal.

Presenting in their music a solid and dynamic mix of Alternative, Nu, Industrial and Gothic Metal, with the addition of modern sounds, ambient, groove and electronic elements, here comes Greek Alternative Metal quartet Project Renegade, formed earlier this year in the Greek capital Athens by frontwoman Marianna and drummer Ody, who were later joined by Tasos on guitar and Makis on bass to complete the band’s lineup. After the band’s inception, those talented Greek metallers quickly put together an EP titled Cerebra, comprised of three original compositions that not only represent the essence of their music, but that are also a very good indication of what to expect from them in their soon-to-be-released debut full-length album.

Engineered, recorded and mixed at Matrix Recording Studio Athens by Dimitris Misirlis, known for his collaborations with bands like Nightstalker, Agatus and Rosewood Brothers, and mastered at Grindhouse Studios Athens by George Bokos (Stone Cold Dead, Rotting Christ, Nightfall), who has worked with names such as George Kollias, Contrarian and Unearthly, Cerebra is a very promising start to this up-and-coming four-piece act from Greece, a land that has always provided amazing bands to the world of heavy music, and after listening to its three complex and catchy tracks you’ll be more than eager to see what the band has to offer in the future and, if you’re lucky, to check them out kicking ass live.

Futuristic notes kick off the first track of the EP, entitled Pressure, a modern and symphonic blend of Alternative and Gothic Metal led by the heavy, headbanging riffs by Tasos and the smooth but piercing vocals by Marianna, while Makis and Ody make sure the atmosphere remains dense and dark with their respective bass punches and potent beats. In other words, this is an excellent sample of the fire power by Project Renegade. Following a similar metallic and modernized pattern, Project Renegade enhance their aggressiveness and obscurity in the excellent tune Natural Born Killer, where Tasos once again does an amazing job with his riffs, as well as Makis with his thunderous bass. In addition to that, Marianna makes sure her vocals transpire passion and energy, in order to properly tell the desired story through the song’s lyrics. And lastly, a wicked narration ignites another impactful and upbeat Alternative Metal feast by this Greek quartet, named One of the Crowd, where Marianna turns up the heat with her high-pitched, rebel vocal lines while Ody smashes his drums mercilessly, with all madness and wild reverberation crafted by the band smoothly flowing into a whimsical and groovy ending.

In a nutshell, Project Renegade is such a promising band that they’re capable of composing 6-minute songs (which would be considered an “atrocity” for radio exposure in modern days) that sound as if they have only three minutes or even less in duration so cohesive they are, showing how melodic and captivating their music is. If you want to know more about the band and stay tuned for their upcoming full-length album, simply visit their Facebook page and keep an eye on their YouTube channel, ReverbNation and SoundCloud for new songs to come. And if you want to show your support to Alternative Metal made in Greece, purchase Cerebra (which is available for a full listen on Spotify) through the band’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. This newborn Hellenic entity has all it takes to become one of the biggest exponents in Alternative Metal in Europe based on what they have to offer in Cerebra, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in their career when their debut full-length album is finally released.

Best moments of the album: Natural Born Killer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Pressure 6:02
2. Natural Born Killer 6:11
3. One of the Crowd 6:27

Band members
Marianna – vocals
Tasos – guitar
Makis – bass
Ody – drums

Album Review – Dirty Machine / Discord (2017)

Enjoy the debut album by a tenacious Nu Metal outfit that has all it takes to successfully spread their metallic and groovy wings all over the world.

Hailing from the rockin’ Los Angeles, California, a city that never sleeps, Nu Metal outfit Dirty Machine has been proudly carrying the flag of Alternative and Nu Metal since their inception in 2012, pulling major influences from bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Linkin Park and Sevendust, having already shared the stage with renowned acts like Ghost, Sixx AM, Disturbed and Trivium. The band has quickly built a rabid underground following, especially in the Kansas City area due to getting regular airtime on the leading Kansas City rock station 98.9 The Rock and headlining the Jägermeister Stage at the 2016 Kansas City Rockfest.

Now in 2017 the band has joined forces with Zombie Shark Records to release their debut album, entitled Discord, featuring eight uproarious composition (plus three bonus songs) blending the most electrifying elements from Groove and Rap Metal that will inspire you to jump up and down and have a very good time with your friends. Moreover, Dirty Machine’s music is so cohesive and catchy that you’ll find yourself singing the songs along with the band and tapping on your desk even if you’re not a fan of Nu Metal at all, and that says a lot about a band that has all it takes to successfully spread their metallic and groovy wings all over the world.

Their modern fusion of the Nu Metal by Limp Bizkit and the Rap Metal by Bodycount is crystal clear from the very first second in the exciting title-track Discord, showcasing great sync between the aggressive rapper lines by lead singer David Leach and the clean vocals by guitarist and vocalist Darren Davis, as well as endless heaviness boosted by the song’s solid melody. The next tune, titled Seeds, is ready to be played on any radio station, where not even the harsher vocals by David make it too aggressive for some air time, while the guitars by Darren and his bandmate Arnold Quezada bring the right amount of fire to their musicality. And taking their pugnacity to a whole new level, Self Made Hero feels like an alternate version of Slipknot led by the song’s blazing guitars thoroughly blended with the wicked samples by DJ Ecusa. Put differently, this is one of those songs to keep jumping up and down nonstop during their live concerts.

Social Recoil is another excellent display of fresh and thrilling Nu Metal, with Mike Weekley smashing his drums while Arnold and Darren follow him with their crushing riffs, not to mention the insane amount of groove coming from the low-tuned, metallic bass by Nathan Young. Now, are you ready for a “fight” with DJ Ecusa? That’s what you’ll get in Ecusa’s Nightmare, a three-minute whimsical party full of weird noises and voices, with the rest of the band effectively supporting this talented DJ and his “stunts”; and connecting instantly with the wicked feast led by DJ Ecusa we have Built, bringing more of Dirty Machine’s Limp Bizkit-Korn-Sevendust-inspired sounding, where the duo David and Darren keeps delivering amazing vocal lines, powerfully complementing each other, while Nathan and Mike sound as thunderous as possible with their bass punches and beats, respectively.

Although C4 is as heavy and groovy as the rest of the album, for some reason it doesn’t click to me, with its vocal lines being a bit disconnected from the instrumental pieces. Not only that, the guitars don’t sound as inspired as in the rest of the album, which makes me agree with the funny message sent by David at the end of the song saying not-so-nice things about the song itself. Fortunately, everything gets back on track with Wonka, where the band sounds faster, crazier and heavier than ever. This is what Dirty Machine need to do to really pump us up, providing a balanced mix of heavy riffs from Alternative Metal and witty vocals from Rap Metal and Hardcore. Not only this is a wise choice to close the album, but the demented screams by Darren add a lot of anger to the overall result, turning it into one of my favorite compositions in Discord.

If you want to know more details about the music and career of Dirty Machine, go to their Facebook page and YouTube channel for an overdose of high-end Nu Metal, and you can also support this dirty sextet by purchasing Discord at the Zombie Shark Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes or on Amazon. As Dirty Machine are a very active band, who knows, you might even get them in action in LA or any other city in the United States blasting their Nu Metal in one of your visits to their homeland, and I bet you’ll get addicted to their catchy and groovy music without even noticing.

Best moments of the album: Discord, Seeds, Self Made Hero and Wonka.

Worst moments of the album: C4.

Released in 2017 Zombie Shark Records

Track listing
1. Discord 3:18
2. Seeds 4:15
3. Self Made Hero 3:22
4. Social Recoil 3:42
5. Ecusa’s Nightmare 2:55
6. Built 3:32
7. C4 2:45
8. Wonka 3:47

Bonus tracks
9. Refuse To Follow 3:46
10. Victory 3:47
11. J-Dead 3:58

Band members
David Leach (Dirty Davo) – vocals
Arnold Quezada (Hedge) – guitar
Darren Davis – guitar, vocals
Nathan Young (Youngblood) – bass, backing vocals
Mike Weekley (Nightmare) – drums
DJ Ecusa – turntables & samples

Album Review – Crossbones / WWIII (2017)

The most longstanding and influential metal act from Albania returns with a brand new opus, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities.

When vocalist Olsi Ballta grabbed an Albanian-English dictionary in 1996 and picked the first word on the page he randomly opened, he had no idea he would be founding the most recognized metal act in Albania and the only band from the mid 90’s that kept going. That’s how everything started for Tirana-based Heavy/Thrash Metal band Crossbones, the first Albanian rock band to have released a genuine full-length album on CD (their debut album called Days Of Rage, from 1997), who led them to play several concerts and festivals in the local scene, as well as within the region comprised of Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and Kosovo, and to perform alongside major names such as Ian Paice (Deep Purple’s legendary drummer) and Rotting Christ.

After the release of a few singles, demos, a live album, a compilation and a stylish box set in the following years, Crossbones are finally back with new material, the full-length record entitled WWIII, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities in order to provide the listener a full-bodied metal attack that effectively represents not only the name and the artwork of the album, but also the core essence of the band. Perhaps due to the fact that Crossbones have been active through a couple of decades already, the music found in WWIII will provide you a voyage through old school and modern metal music, which only brings more flavor to the entire album. And let’s be honest, for a band that comes from a country where metal has absolutely (and unfortunately) zero support, what these guys do with their music is beyond fantastic.

The high amount of heaviness and groove emanating from all instruments from the very first second in I’m God, a potent mid-tempo Groove Metal composition with blazing guitar solos and neck-breaking riffs, will punch you in the face mercilessly, with lead singer Olsi Ballta delivering classic and melodious Thrash Metal vocal lines. And that’s only the beginning, as the straightforward tune Gates of Hell, led by guitarist Ben Turku and his slashing riffs, will please all fans of heavy music, with drummer Theo Napoloni and bassist Klejd Guza adding tons of groove to the musicality with their pounding beats and thunderous notes, respectively. In the slightly more atmospheric (but still as heavy as hell) Gjallë, or “alive” from Albanian, Theo and Klejd once again become the dynamic duo of fierceness, setting the perfect tone for Olsi to growl the song’s lyrics (which by the way are in Albanian).

The interesting WTF, which obviously means “what the fuck”, is more alternative than all previous tracks, focusing on the cutting strings by both Ben and Klejd while Olsi fires anguished and acid vocals, therefore increasing the song’s obscurity, with its ending being a sheer Groove Metal feast; whereas Messing with the Masses is a lot more introspective and somber, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. The dissonant and macabre guitar solo by Ben halfway through it is very effective though, while its second half sounds like a completely different song, being a mix of Alternative and Nu Metal. Schizo gets back to a more direct metal sonority thanks to the high dosage of harmony coming from the guitars by Ben, with Olsi also singing in his mother tongue and sounding more aggressive and demented, in sync with the theme proposed by the song’s name.

Rise offers thrilling Heavy Metal the way we headbanging bastards like it, also bringing elements from Sludge and Stoner Metal (therefore showing the band’s versatility) while Klejd simply kicks ass with his bass lines, supporting the song’s old school metallic lyrics (“I’m taking my chances / Roaming the streets / A wild stab in the dark / And over the fences / A million of thoughts / And fresh blood in the heart”). After a short eerie intro, the band delivers a dark version of Groove Metal with elements from Gothic Rock and Metal in You Fool, where Olsi steals the spotlight with his melancholic growls, supported by the heavy, obscure sounds blasted by all other bands members; followed by That Kind of Feeling, a dark semi-ballad by Crossbones featuring melodic elements from contemporary metal music blended with traditional vocal lines and the punch of Groove Metal, adding more taste to the album. And the second installment of the opening track, simply titled I’m God, Pt. 2, closes WWIII, beginning in a very sorrowful and pensive manner and being a lot more atmospheric than any other song of the album. In other words, a beautiful ending for WWIII, with Olsi having a truly passionate performance on vocals.

If you want to show your support to Crossbones and Albanian metal, simply visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and buy your copy of WWIII on iTunes, Amazon, Target, CD Universe, Walmart, hbdirect.com and several other retailers. We might not be ready for a real-life World War III, but we should all be more than happy with the music presented by this longstanding Albanian squad in WWIII, an album that will certainly cement the legacy of such important band for metal in Albania, in Eastern Europe and anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Gates of Hell, Gjallë and Rise.

Worst moments of the album: Messing with the Masses.

Released in 2017 Nadir Music

Track listing
1. I’m God 6:55
2. Gates of Hell 5:52
3. Gjallë 4:39
4. WTF 6:32
5. Messing with the Masses 5:23
6. Schizo 6:05
7. Rise 4:41
8. You Fool 4:38
9. That Kind of Feeling 5:58
10. I’m God, Pt. 2 3:39

Band members
Olsi Ballta – vocals
Ben Turku – guitars
Klejd Guza – bass
Theo Napoloni – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Elena Vladi

elena01

I’m coming down to feel you, to touch you, to be you, to kill…

Ladies and gentlemen, the heavy music scene in Hollywood, one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world located in the central region of Los Angeles, California in the United States, has recently crowned a new queen, and we all shall bow to her beauty, to her loveliness, and in special to her kick-ass music. Hailing from Mother Russia, here comes the multi-talented artist Elena Vladimirova, better known as Elena Vladi, the lead singer of Nu-Metal act Red Queen and a woman that knows better than anyone else how to provide a fiery fusion of stunning looks and electrifying music, making the work from such distinguished woman even more delectable. The Russian Red Queen is among us, and your life will never be the same again after being infected by her scrumptious venom.

Like any true queen of darkness and lust, there’s little to none information available online about the personal life of Elena, which makes perfect sense for a woman that wants to keep mystery as one of the main ingredients in her promising career. All we know is that she relocated from Russia to the United States in a not-so-distant past and joined her partner in crime Patrick Crisci in order to form what used to be known as Experimental Hybrid Black Metal project Demona Mortiss, but that gradually morphed to Nu-Metal band Red Queen. Let’s say that the band, which used to play a dark fusion containing elements from Gothic, Doom and Death Metal the likes of Tristania and Dimmu Borgir, is now highly recommended for fans of Slipknot, Korn, Deftones and Lacuna Coil, just to give you a better idea of the remarkable change in their sonority through time.

Before we talk about Elena Vladi in more detail, let’s take a quick look at the history of Red Queen. Previously known as Demona Mortiss, the project was created by Elena in 2009 as an Experimental Hybrid Black Metal project as already mentioned, obtaining a significant amount of followers in a short span of time, especially in Europe, before officially changing the name in 2013 to Red Queen. Demona Mortiis were Elena on vocals and synths, Patrick on guitars and Trent Gouveia on drums, and although there are no official albums under the name Demona Mortiis you can still enjoy some of their blackened compositions on YouTube like Lost, Inverted Heaven and Phasmophobia, this one live at the Viper Room in Los Angeles in January 2013.

Not only the name of the project and music direction changed in Red Queen, but the lineup also suffered a few changes. Red Queen are now only Elena on vocals synths and lyrics, and Patrick on guitars, synths, bass and drums, also being responsible for the overall production of the band, with guest musician Grey Soto playing some guitar parts in a couple of songs. This dynamic duo released back in April 2016 their debut EP entitled Star Blood, containing five classy and sexy songs (Asyphyx, Naked, Star Ruby, Insidious and Alchemy), as well as an amazing cover version for Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, the classic 1995 single by Irish Rock icons U2 from the Batman Forever soundtrack album. If you want to take a better listen to Star Blood and purchase it, you can go to Red Queen’s official webstore or BandCamp page, and also find it on iTunes. When asked about what inspired her to write the music found in Star Blood, Elena said she gets her inspiration from movies and books, from the cosmos and a variety of “conspiracy theories”, and from her own emotions, always aiming at intriguing people. Well, let’s say she succeeded in that hands down, and if you want to know more details about Red Queen you can check this short and sweet 2015 Q&A interview with Elena Vladi and Patrick Crisci, and also listen to their music at their YouTube channel and ReverbNation page.

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Apart from her career with Demona Mortiis and Red Queen, our Russian bombshell can be seen as a guest musician in distinct projects that have almost nothing to do with the musicality bred by Red Queen, showcasing her versatility as an artist and her will to go beyond any boundaries that she might face in terms of creativity and experimentation. For instance, her stunning voice embellishes the chaos found in the song You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying, from the 2012 album Vanitas by British Industrial Black Metal/Grindcore band Anaal Nathrakh, as well as in two composition from the 2012 albums Evolution and (R)Evolution, by American Electronic duo Blood on the Dance Floor, those being Love Conquers All and La Petite Morte (The Little Death), respectively.

Albeit music might be the primary focus in her life, our Gothic diva also extends all her talent to fashion modeling and graphic and web designing for living, also being proficient at tarot, rune and aura reading, as well as other forms of divination, chakra balancing and necromancy. In addition to all that, Elena lets her geek side flourish through her admiration for Astronomy, String Theory and Quantum Physics, not to mention she also excels in guidance to Spiritual Ascension. And as many other female metallers such as Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, our voluptuous queen doesn’t eat meat and considers veganism a part of human evolution. In case you’re curious to see Elena modeling instead of singing, click HERE to watch a short clip of when Elena was invited to participate in a cover shoot for volume 34, issue #33 of LA Weekly (released on July 5, 2012), for a special article entitled “Everything You Wanted to Know About Metal” (which is obviously not true, but as that’s not our main goal in this essay let’s simply ignore that). Pay attention to the music in this video, as it’s Elena and her Demona Mortiis playing a beautiful cover version for Confide in Me, by Australian singer Kylie Minogue. The great success achieved by the cover with Elena translated into this specific issue being the best-selling one of 2012. You can enjoy the read by clicking HERE and going directly to page 55, titled ALL HAIL “Metal subgenres explained, from thrash to pornogrind”.

Her passion for modeling can also be seen in the underground publication Gothic Beauty, as for example in their issue #42 when Elena was the cover girl of the magazine, and in tons of pictures modeling for Heavy Red, a Los Angeles-based fashion company established in 1999 by lead designer Tyler Ondine specialized in Gothic fashion and sexually sophisticated clothing, always aiming at being the cutting edge of Gothic clothing including corsets, dresses, gowns, shirts, skirts, coats, hoodies, club wear, lingerie and jewelry. Elena has been one of the faces of the company since relocating to the United States, helping Heavy Red achieve a new level of elegance and darkness in line with the company’s vision of Couture Noir.

The “Russian Queen of Nu-Metal” also focuses her efforts in improving the merch store at the official Red Queen website, working on getting more skirt and other clothing designs for the fans of the band. Furthermore, Elena is also planning on opening her own jewelry shop, named Vladi Fashion Jewelry, where she’ll sell her trial collection of royal necklaces and will expand into rings and more jewelry options later. She thinks every woman (including herself) loves jewelry, and therefore she wants to share her vision of beautiful designs with other women through her new store. And if you think that’s already a lot coming from only one woman, let me tell you that she is also trying to find time for her side project under her name, which according to Elena would be quite mellow and electronic, and fully written and produced by herself. I guess we can never get enough of our stunning queen, don’t you agree? And sorry to say that, Elena, but it looks like the less free time you have for yourself, the better it is for us fans.

Elena Vladi’s Official Facebook page
Elena Vladi’s Official Twitter
Elena Vladi’s Official Instagram
Red Queen’s Official Facebook page
Red Queen’s Official Twitter
Red Queen’s Official VKontakte page

“I am a full blooded Russian… Russians are crazy, we all know that, I expect respect and you shall receive the same in return…” – Elena Vladi

Concert Review – Disturbed & Breaking Benjamin (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, 08/08/2016)

The city of Toronto got awesomely “infected” by David Draiman and his horde on a warm and beautiful night of alternative music.

OPENING ACTS: Saint Asonia and Alter Bridge

Disturbed_Breaking Benjamin_2016Due to my hectic working schedule yesterday and the distance from my place to the fantastic Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, I wasn’t able to see the performances by the two special guests of the night, Canadian Nu Metal/Hard Rock band SAINT ASONIA and American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band ALTER BRIDGE. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited to watch Saint Asonia, despite the fact they’re portrayed as a “supergroup” based in Toronto formed by lead singer and guitarist  Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace), lead guitarist Mike Mushok (ex-Staind), bassist Corey Lowery (ex-Stuck Mojo) and drummer Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven). I’m not sure how many people were actually able to watch their concert, nor if they were a good warm-up for the following bands. All I can say is that the music they play is not my cup of tea and I don’t really regret missing their performance.

What I do feel slightly sad about was missing the excellent singer Myles Kennedy and the talented guitarist Mark Tremonti (together with bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips) playing their straightforward and honest rock music with Alter Bridge. We all know Myles and Mark are awesome musicians, and even considering the music by this Orlando-based group a bit too soft for me I’m sure that might have been a kick-ass concert. Well, that’s the price to pay when there are too many bands in such a short period of time, fans end up missing a good chunk of what they paid for unless they arrive REALLY early to the venue, which was not the case for most fans last night.

BREAKING BENJAMIN

IMG_1585The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre got packed only a few minutes before American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band BREAKING BENJAMIN began their show, with frontman and guitarist Benjamin Burnley leading his competent band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania formed by Jasen Rauch on lead guitars, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar, Aaron Bruch on bass and Shaun Foist on drums. The band got back in action a couple of years ago after Benjamin was finally able to overcome his phobias and addictions, with all members being completely new to the band (except for Benjamin, of course), and based on the warm reaction from everyone at the venue I believe fans truly missed Benjamin’s melodious mix of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock during the band’s hiatus.

As a fan of the darkest side of music who’s always listening to the most visceral forms of Thrash, Death and Black Metal, I must admit their music didn’t excite me despite being extremely well-crafted and played to perfection by all band members. Except for the brief moments when they played an excerpt of the superb Walk, by one of my favorite bands of all time, Pantera, as well as another excerpt from the classic Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, I couldn’t really connect to the band’s music. One thing I enjoyed a lot though was the vocal range by Aaron, going from clean and melodic lines to furious growls whenever he was responsible for the vocal parts, and for me that was the best ingredient of their concert. Please don’t think I hate Breaking Benjamin with all my strength or that it was a horrible concert, let’s simply say it’s hard to pay some decent attention to a band you’re not a fan of their music or style when you’re anxious for the following act.

Setlist
So Cold
Angels Fall
Sooner or Later
Blow Me Away
The Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk
Polyamorous
Ashes of Eden
Believe
Breath
Failure
Until the End
I Will Not Bow
The Diary of Jane

Band members
Benjamin Burnley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jasen Rauch – lead guitar, electronic strings, programming
Keith Wallen – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Aaron Bruch – bass, backing vocals
Shaun Foist – drums, electronic percussion, programming

DISTURBED

IMG_1592Only one day after playing at Heavy Montréal, Mr. David Draiman and his Alternative Metal horde DISTURBED hit the stage at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to do what they do best, which is playing electrifying razor-edged modern metal music. Still promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (which by the way was awarded gold in Canada as well as platinum to the single The Sound of Silence, as informed by Draiman during the show), this iconic band from Chicago, Illinois not only revolutionized music with their inception back in the 90’s, but they also keep bringing different generations to their live concerts like what happened yesterday, something only traditional bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica do nowadays.

Blending classics such as the opening song Ten Thousand Fists and the classy Stricken with new songs like the kick-ass The Vengeful One, Draiman and his crew conquered all from the very first notes of their powerful performance. Draiman might not be moving around like before, but it looks like that’s a task he’s leaving for guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and especially bassist John Moyer to do, with those three guys being unstoppable on stage while Draiman focused on his unparalleled vocals (including his classic “monkey screams”) and leading gestures. They even invited the guys from Saint Asonia and Breaking Benjamin to sing the classic Who Taught You How to Hate with them, although it felt a bit weird seeing two bass players on stage at the same time.

IMG_1602One of the most anticipated moments of the show was their beautiful version for Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, and I have to say that lived up to all expectations and beyond. The drumming by Mike was incredible, as if he was pounding our hearts, and the piano notes embellished the entire ambience, but of course the main ingredient in such a unique ballad were Draiman’s vocals. He sang each and every note to perfection together with the fans, a memorable moment in a warm Torontonian night that will stay fresh in our minds and hearts for many years to come. Another great example of how Draiman flawlessly captivated and commanded the audience throughout the whole gig occurred during their new song called The Light, where he asked everyone to raise their lighters and mobiles during the chorus of the song and every single person obviously attended his demand, creating a sensational view of brilliant dots all over the venue.

My only complaint is that their setlist was way too short, with only fourteen songs being played in total. They could have played a few more tunes like the title-track “Immortalized” or even their version for “Land of Confusion”, which has been part of their recent setlists. Anyway, the icing on the cake came in the form of their biggest hit Down With the Sickness, with all fans jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics together with Draiman, especially the ones in the floor section like myself. The heat of the fire coming from the stage might have been strong, but the heat coming from their music was even stronger, leaving all fans happier than usual on a Monday night on their way back home. When introducing Down With the Sickness, Draiman said Toronto was “infected” by their music. I can’t think of a better definition to their concert than that.

Setlist
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
The Vengeful One
Prayer
Liberate
Who Taught You How to Hate
Stupify
The Sound of Silence
Inside the Fire
The Light
Stricken
Indestructible
Voices
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

Album Review – Ancesttral / Web Of Lies (2016)

A top of the line Thrash Metal album by a passionate and all fired up quartet that wants to show the entire world Brazil has a lot more to offer than just samba and MPB.

ancesttral_frontcoverWhen my good friend Jorge Diaz, host of the awesome Brazilian radio show Timão Metal, asked me if I wanted to write a review for Web Of Lies, the brand new album by Brazilian Thrash/Heavy Metal band Ancesttral, I obviously accepted the task right away. First and foremost, it’s always a pleasure to show the world that “terra brasilis” has a lot more to offer than just samba and MPB in regards to music. Furthermore, Jorge brought to my attention that two members of Ancesttral are huge supporters of our favorite soccer team (and obviously the team that inspired the creation of Timão Metal), the almighty Sport Club Corinthians Paulista. And do you want to know how Web Of Lies sounds? Well, let me tell you it’s goddamn good, just like scoring a beautiful and pivotal goal against your worst archenemies in a decisive soccer match.

Formed in 2003 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, Ancesttral have been on an exciting upward spiral of success since the band’s inception, having already released an EP named Helleluiah in 2005, their debut full-length album The Famous Unknown in 2007, and more recently another EP entitled Bloodshed and Violence in 2012. Now in Web Of Lies not only the band’s old school influences the likes of Metallica, Anthrax, Pantera, Slayer and Testament continue to shine in their music, but there’s also the addition of modern elements from artists such as Godsmack, Disturbed and Rob Zombie, contributing to a fresher sounding while remaining loyal to our good old Thrash Metal, their biggest passion in life (together with Corinthians, of course).

There’s a lot of electricity flowing from the very first second in the opening track, the fantastic What Will You Do?, which sounds like an awesome fusion of Fight, Metallica and Anthrax. Even before lead singer and guitarist Alexandre Grunheidt (who’s by the way absolutely nuts for Corinthians) joins the music with his blazing vocals, lead guitarist Leonardo Brito already fires a flammable mini-solo as the band’s welcome card, leading up to a difficult question: can it get any better than this? The solid and sharp headbanging composition Massacre, inspired by the Carandiru massacre, one of the most hideous slaughters in Brazil’s history, answers that question with its endless aggressiveness and dark lyrics (enhanced by an enfuriated Alexandre on vocal), sounding like a hybrid between some of the classics by Fight and the heaviest tunes by Disturbed; followed by Threat to Society, more modern than the two previous tracks due to the additional elements from bands such as Godsmack and System Of A Down. Furthermore, drummer Denis Grunheidt blasts groovier-than-usual beats, providing the perfect atmosphere for Alexandre and Leonardo to bring forth also more contemporary riffs and solos.

Megadeth-like riffs by Leonardo and more tuneful growls by Alexandre are the main ingredients in the well-crafted chant (and a good choice for their live performances) named You Should Be Dead, where its backing vocals are very effective in increasing the song’s impact on the listener, whereas in the excellent Fight a somber intro led by the obscure bass sounding by Renato Canonico suddenly becomes a merciless neck-breaking tune, presenting elements from old school Thrash Metal as well as from Alternative Metal. Not only that, albeit the vocal lines get more melodious (and consequently less violent), Ancesttral do not give up their usual brutality, being driven in this case by their heavier than hell riffs. And in Nice Day to Die, a Speed Metal composition with hints of Alternative and Nu Metal, the band definitely puts the pedal to the metal in terms of pugnacity, in special the demented vocals by Alexandre (and all backing vocals as well) and the frantic drumming by Denis.

After such amazing devastation, it’s time to slow things down in Pathetic Little Liars, focusing on a darker sounding, something that could have been recorded by Metallica in any of their albums after the 90’s (except of course for the horrendous St. Anger). The only minor issue with this song is that, in my opinion, nothing changes in its four minutes, being quite repetitive after a while. Also groovy and as heavy as hell, Subhuman is another high-quality composition with highlights to the burning riffs and solos by Leonardo, its nonstop beats and an awesome Rob Zombie-inspired performance by Alexandre, all translating into modernized metal music tailored for old school metallers.

ancesttral_2016Then we have one of the most thrilling songs of the album, the title-track Web of Lies, another awesome tune where hints of the sonority by Disturbed become manifest one more time, showcasing how much Ancesttral looks into the future when composing their material, and despite being less thrashy than their customary sounding it’s still awesomely vibrant and resonant. Before the wondrous sonic extravaganza in Web Of Lies is over, Ancesttral show us what happens when Pantera meet Anthrax in the deranged Fire, where metallic riffs build the necessary ambience for Alexandre to spit fire through his incandescent vocals. In addition to that, I bet you’ll start screaming “FIRE!” together with the band while slamming into the pit to the sound of this belligerent tune, and that says it all when the music in question is Thrash Metal. As a bonus, What Will You Do? returns with the same punch as its original version, but this time with a special alternate solo by guest guitarist Rodrigo Flausino, concluding the album almost exactly like it started, which is evidently on a very high note.

The guys from Ancesttral are true workhorses, having invested a shitload of money, time and energy into the making of the album, and playing exhaustively everywhere in Brazil where first-class Heavy Metal is demanded. For instance, take a look at their outstanding performance at Manifesto Rock Bar, in São Paulo, on August 23, 2014 playing three of the new songs (“What Will You Do”, “Threat to Society” and “Web of Lies”) before they were even launched, and you’ll be able to notice how much they nurture a profound passion for all things metal. And in order to provide your honest support to this sensational Brazilian band, go check their Facebook, YouTube, ReverbNation and SoundCloud, and buy your copy of Web Of lies through their online store, the Shinigami Records’ webshop, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and many other locations. Just like Ancesttral do, simply respect your past, live the present, look into the future… E VAI CORINTHIANS!

Best moments of the album: What Will You Do?, Massacre, Fight and Web of Lies.

Worst moments of the album: Pathetic Little Liars.

Released in 2016 Shinigami Records

Track listing
1. What Will You Do? 5:23
2. Massacre 5:10
3. Threat to Society 3:52
4. You Should Be Dead 3:50
5. Fight 5:32
6. Nice Day to Die 2:38
7. Pathetic Little Liars 4:06
8. Subhuman 3:42
9. Web of Lies 3:14
10. Fire 2:52
11. What Will You Do? (Alternate Solo Version) 5:23

Band members
Alexandre Grunheidt – vocals, guitars
Leonardo Brito – lead guitars
Renato Canonico – bass
Denis Grunheidt – drums

Guest musician
Rodrigo Flausino – guitar solo on “What Will You Do? (Alternate Solo Version)”