Metal Chick of the Month – Kayla Dixon

Death falls so heavy on my soul… Death falls so heavy, makes me moan…

Things are about to get doomed, heavy and extremely sexy here at The Headbanging Moose with our metal chick of the month of May. Trained in classical, jazz and musical theatre vocals, as well as acting and dance, the talented and stunning Kayla Dixon, frontwoman for Doom Metal institution Witch Mountain and for Alternative Metal outfit Dress the Dead, is among us to prove once again that black girls do have a place in the world of heavy music, and she has been doing that in great fashion with her beyond powerful vocals since joining Witch Mountain in 2015. Hence, after listening to Kayla singing for the very first time you’ll get absolutely addicted to her voice and performance, no doubt about that, therefore going after everything she has already recorded in her career, it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not.

Born on March 20, 1995 in Glendale, California and raised between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland (as you can see, she moved a lot when she was a kid), Kayla has been singing since the age of five, joining a Jazz band at the age of 13, when she began to hone her vocal skills and discovered her passion for performing. Having studied ballet, modern and contemporary techniques at the American Dance Institute, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Maryland Youth Ballet, among others, not to mention she’s a trained actor of Stanislavski and Meisner techniques (which contributed to her deep understanding of the importance of storytelling on stage), Kayla has already participated in several projects in her career, such as productions at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Levine Music, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, also making an appearance in in the Sundance award winning movie I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, on Netflix, as well as in the TV series Portlandia, Grimm and Outlaw. In addition, she said in one of her interviews she doesn’t sit at a keyboard or think about intervals or scales, unless she’s writing harmonies. She usually writes the melody first, thinking about “what words match this melody and how can I put this melody into words?”

Kayla got her first contact with heavy music during her teens due to her sisters, who used to listen to bands like Marilyn Manson, Tool and Nine Inch Nails, and she fell in love for that type of music. After straying away from that for a while, she said it was when she was in the ninth grade that she rediscovered all those bands, later turning her attention to other heavier and more complex bands such as Meshuggah. She mentioned in one of her interviews that it was the intensity of metal music that really caught her attention at first, as she feels she can express all her emotions and feelings through metal. In addition, she also said that the energy coming from the audience while you’re on stage is also what makes heavy music so special for her.

Regarding her career with both Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, everything started back in 2015 when Kayla, who had recently discovered the music by Witch Mountain, saw on their Facebook page they were auditioning for a new vocalist after the departure in 2014 of the amazing Uta Plotkin, prior to the release of the album Mobile of Angels. She then decided to take a shot at that by submitting a video audition, admitting she was a little nervous as she loved Uta’s lyrics and the vocal melodies, but fortunately for all of us fans of rock and metal Kayla became the band’s new frontwoman (and let’s not forget she was only 19 years old at the time). Four years later, this excellent Portland, Oregon-based band formed back in 1997 released their first full-length album with Kayla on vocals, self-titled Witch Mountain (which by the way she was responsible for all lyrics), not to mention their 2016 single Burn You Down, impressing not only the band’s diehard fans with her potent voice and her ability to easily switch between clean and harsh vocals,  but also her own band members. “When she laid down a scratch track in the studio and was going back and forth between the cleans and the dirties, our producer Billy and us were just sitting there laughing with joy,” recalls guitarist Rob Wrong. “For her that was just a scratch track, and we’re just like ‘most people in the world can’t do this.’ For Dixon, the possibility to cross styles and alternate between clean and screaming vocals is ‘a breath of fresh air.’”

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Then in 2018, one year after parting ways with former The Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving, Dress the Dead announced a new lineup with our goddess Kayla on vocals in an unexpected move by many. “A mutual friend reached out to me about Dress the Dead.  One of my first thoughts was, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready or even at an appropriate talent level to be replacing someone like Peter Dolving for these guys.’  I’d battled with the idea in my head for several months before finally reaching out.  I had listened to and loved 1969, but what really hit me hard was when I heard the other songs that are still unreleased that they sent me.  I had no idea how musically diverse this band would turn out to be,” said Kayla about joining her second major band, but as what happened with Witch Mountain her vocals matched Dress the Dead’s music flawlessly, as you can enjoy in the excellent songs 1969, There Goes The Sun and Promises & Kisses. In addition to that, just to give you an idea of how healthy her relationship with her new bandmates is, take a look at this fun YouTube video titled “Dress The Dead – Crappy Comments”, where Kayla and the rest of the band read and discuss about the most ridiculous comments they received from fans via social media.

Our hardcore vegan (yes, she’s a vegan) had also been involved with several other bands and projects before joining Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, each one offering Kayla a chance to showcase all her highly developed vocal skills. For instance, she was (apparently) the vocalist for a Cleveland, Ohio-based Groove/Death Metal band named Demons Within during an unknown period of time, and the lead singer for Sacramento, California-based Power Metal act Helion Prime from 2016 until 2017, with whom she recorded the sensational single Remnants of Stars, in 2017. Apart from that, she also started lending her unique voice now in 2019 to a British/Romanian Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band named Clouds during some of their live performances, and she also appeared as a guest vocalist in the song Buried In Sand, from Clouds’ 2018 release Dor – Bonus Album;  in the electrifying title-track Terminal, from the 2017 album Terminal, by British Melodic Progressive Metal band Divinity Compromised; and more recently in Living Light, from the 2019 album Divided by Darkness, by Phoenix, Arizona-based Doom Metal act Spirit Adrift, to be released later this month.

Touring is always one of the most difficult and demanding tasks in the life of a musician, and as a talented vocalist that Kayla is she obviously warms up her voice (and mind) properly before going on stage, sometimes meditating for a few minutes to reach her desired state of mind prior to performing. As a matter of fact, Kayla mentioned that meditation was one of the main activities she discovered through the years to fight her childhood traumas, to work on her spirituality and to remain strong when facing any type of adversity. She also said that, to keep her body and mind healthy while touring with Witch Mountain, who by the way have a very aggressive touring agenda, she tries to eat well and work out whenever she can, avoiding things like partying and drinking. Even with all those precautions to stay in shape, Kayla said that due to her incendiary performances each show ends up being fairly exhausting for her but energizing at the same time, saying it’s another form of “meditation” for her. “Music is a way for me to express that negativity and get it out. There’s also a positivity about it. So, it’s very energizing. Music is what makes me happy and I believe it is my life’s purpose,” commented Kayla, and if you take into account the fact that when she’s not on tour she can be giving vocal lessons or acting (albeit she hasn’t being doing a lot of that lately due to her busy schedule), it’s the utmost proof she was born to be an artist.

As curious as this might sound, Kayla always mentions in her interviews that she considers herself an introvert, although she’s not actually afraid of talking to people. Despite having introverted tendencies, she confronts that inner fear by working really hard on it, saying that fear doesn’t have to be who she really is or her story. And even more curious than that, she mentioned that one thing she loves doing for relaxation and fun is watching horror movies, with her favorite one being the 1982 cult movie Poltergeist and also mentioning Suspiria as another movie she enjoyed a lot (I just don’t know if she’s talking about the 1977 original one or the 2018 version). She said Poltergeist really freaked her out, that it was extremely scary in her opinion, so how can this be a relaxing activity, right? Anyway, still talking about ghosts and paranormal activities, she said she had a few paranormal experiences in her life, as her mother was really into that kind of thing and would tell her about ghosts she saw. She mentioned that when she was seven years old she was sitting in the living room around Christmas time watching the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and when she went to her room there was this white figure of an old man standing. In addition, her dad, who’s by the way a pastor, also claims he’s seen a ghost in his church, which used to be an old-fashioned one-room school house back in the 1900’s, describing the appearance of the ghost in great detail. If ghosts truly exist or not, no one knows for sure, but if Kayla channels those encounters and experiences into her music, and we all know the unknown has always been a magnificent inspiration for all genres and subgenres of heavy music, we can rest assured she’ll keep providing us first-class rock and metal for decades to come.

Kayla Dixon’s Official Facebook page
Kayla Dixon’s Official Instagram
Kayla Dixon’s Official Twitter
Kayla Dixon’s Official YouTube channel
Witch Mountain’s Official Facebook page
Witch Mountain’s Official Instagram
Witch Mountain’s Official Twitter
Witch Mountain’s Official BandCamp page
Dress the Dead’s Official Facebook page
Dress the Dead’s Official Instagram

“When I get on stage, I lose control and there’s not much I can do about that.” – Kayla Dixon

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Album Review – High Reeper / High Reeper (2018)

Reeper, deadly reeper, it’s time to rumble to the flammable fusion of Stoner Rock and Doom Metal by this up-and-coming five-piece act from Philadelphia.

Formed in 2016 in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, in the United States by Zach Thomas on vocals, Pat Daly and Andrew Price on the guitars, Shane Trimble on bass and Napz Mosley on drums, Hard Rock/Doom Metal act High Reeper originally started as a studio band, but it rapidly became apparent that their music was meant to be heard live and loud, making their debut in the Philly stoner rock scene in early 2017 with success and, as a consequence, being followed up by the release of their self-titled debut album now in 2018. Deeply rooted in modern Stoner Rock but still giving a nod to the early days of Black Sabbath, the band’s first offering is driven by pounding rhythms, thick guitars and soaring, screeching vocals, meant to be played loud and to be played often.

In other words, High Reeper is an unapologetic punch in the face for fans of early 70’s proto-metal, with the sound and smell of leather, weed, boozing, gambling and death permeating the record from start to finish. Produced, engineered and mixed by bass player Shane Trimble at TTR studios in Philadelphia as well as his home studio Delwood Sound in Delaware, the sound is laced with old school elements while still maintaining the focus of a modern-sounding release, being highly recommended for fans of the aforementioned Black Sabbath, as well as other noisy and obscure bands like Saint Vitus and Orchid. Throughout its 42 minutes of music split into nine unique tracks, each one with its own purpose and soul, High Reeper will take you on a psychedelic and stoner musical journey, running from up-tempo straight-ahead rock, to slowed down, heavy, early doom.

Otherworldly riffs kick off the flammable Doom Metal feast titled Die Slow, a fun tune that will certainly put you into a trance where Shane with his rumbling bass and Napz with his rhythmic beats set the stage for the Ozzy-inspired vocals by Zach; and enhancing their electricity and stamina to a whole new level, the quintet delivers a rockin’ hymn titled Chrome Hammer, showcasing a great riffage by the guitar duo comprised of Pat and Andrew in what’s in my humble opinion the best song of the entire album. Keep in mind the party is just starting, as in Soul Taker we’re treated to another excellent Black Sabbath-like anthem by High Reeper, with Napz smashing his drums and Pat and Andrew delivering pure feeling with their strings.

The title-track High Reeper is sluggish and somber as expected in good old Doom Metal, ignited by the low-tuned bass by Shane before it becomes a drum feast by Napz, flowing into a thrilling, metallic ending; whereas in Reeper Deadly Reeper a dark and menacing intro evolves into a hard rockin’ Stoner and Doom Metal mass, with Zach putting his heart and soul into his performance, therefore enhancing the song’s already powerful vibe considerably. Then we have Weed & Speed, where the name says it all, with the weed part coming in the form pure Stoner Metal flowing from their instruments, while the speed appears every now and then amidst the most sluggish and soulful riffs you can think of. However, the final result doesn’t feel as cohesive as the other songs, falling flat after a while.

In the fantastic Double Down And Let It Ride, simply let their doomed sounds and noises invade your senses, led by the always thrilling guitars by Pat and Andrew. This is what I would call the perfect depiction of a hybrid between old school Doom Metal with modern Stoner Metal and Southern Rock, and a path High Reeper should definitely keep exploring in their future releases. Black Leather (Chose Us) is an ode to the 70’s lifestyle where heavy rockers used to wear black no matter what, translated into top-tier Stoner Rock full of crisp riffs and solos, rhythmic beats and the inebriate vocals by Zach. And last but not least, closing this feast of witchcraft and psychedelia we have another solid tune titled Friend Of Death, where we’re able to enjoy all the dexterity by the band’s guitar duo as well as the precision and feeling of Napz on drums for over six minutes, not to mention Shane with his blackened low-tuned punches, with its last part being a thing of beauty for fans of the genre.

You can easily enter the psychedelic world ruled by High Reeper by visiting their Facebook page and by purchasing their incendiary album through the Heavy Psych Sounds BandCamp or webstore (as a regular version or as a bundle that includes the album plus a T-shirt and a patch), as well as on iTunes, on Amazon, and on other retailers like Saturn and Best Buy. Because, you know, it’s time to rumble to the flammable fusion of Stoner Rock and Doom Metal by this excellent band from Philadelphia, and once you get into their vibe there’s no way out.

Best moments of the album: Chrome Hammer, Reeper Deadly Reeper and Double Down And Let It Ride.

Worst moments of the album: Weed & Speed.

Released in 2018 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Die Slow 5:28
2. Chrome Hammer 2:53
3. Soul Taker 3:27
4. High Reeper 4:37
5. Reeper Deadly Reeper 6:09
6. Weed & Speed 5:37
7. Double Down And Let It Ride 4:40
8. Black Leather (Chose Us) 3:28
9. Friend Of Death 6:07

Band members
Zach Thomas – vocals
Pat Daly – guitar
Andrew Price – guitar
Shane Trimble – bass
Napz Mosley – drums

Album Review – Burial in the Sky / Persistence of Thought (2016)

An album that effectively unites the devastation of Death Metal with the intricacy of Progressive Metal, brought into being by an American band that knows exactly how to create beautiful extreme music in a compelling and atmospheric way.

Rating5

burial-in-the-sky-album-artI guess I sometimes tend to overuse the word “atmospheric” in some of the reviews done here at The Headbanging Moose, but in the case of Persistence of Thought, the first full-length album by American Atmospheric Tech-Death Metal act Burial in the Sky, there’s no better word to describe the technical and whimsical assault of extreme music brought forth by the band, always interspersed between tranquil and at times psychedelic passages. And although you’ll find hints of the musicality by bands such as Nihil and Fallujah spread all over the creations by Burial in the Sky, they’re far from being a copy of either.

Formed by multi-instrumentalists William Okronglis and James Tomedi in the year of 2013 in Mount Carmel, a small city located in the state of Pennsylvania, United States, Burial in the Sky already released two EP’s prior to Persistence of Thought, those being Psychosis (2013) and Transcendence (2014). Joining them on Persistence of Thought is world class drummer Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Abigail Wiliams), whose expert skills perfectly complement each song created by the duo. Add to that recipe the otherworldly album art by American artist Nathan Lee, and there you have an excellent option for lovers of the aggression found in Death Metal with the subtlety and finesse of progressive music.

In the opening track, entitled Entry I, serenity invades our ears and smooth piano notes bring peace to our souls, but suddenly all that calmness turns into an avalanche of Technical Death Metal led by the intricate drumming by Samus, changing completely the course of action in a very solid way. The band blends sheer brutality with melodious lines and a beautiful ambiance, going from total devastation to psychedelic passages (like what happens for instance at around four minutes) and back to their Dream Theater-sish extreme music, captivating the listener from start to finish. The second part of what can be called their “Entry Trilogy”, Entry II, follows a similar pattern, with William providing deep growls and interesting riffs while James fires his soulful guitar solos. Furthermore, the last part of the song is an outstanding sonic onslaught led by the unstoppable Samus on drums, including even hints of Black Metal in his beats and, therefore, increasing the album’s musical range. And closing the trilogy we have Entry III, a dark tune transpiring melancholy, where delicacy is found in the form of subtle guitar lines amidst all desperate screams and hellish drums blasted by the band, with highlights to the pleasant guitar duo at the end of the song.

burial-in-the-skyThe second part of the album begins with Anchors, where Burial in the Sky hypnotize us with a whimsical rhythm and a touch of finesse before charging our minds with their brutal musicality, with James delivering more of his amazing solos whereas Samus continues to display a high level of complexity on drums. This is a song highly recommended for banging your head with your eyes closed to properly enjoy the sound from every single instrument, until it reaches its climatic ending. Galaxy of Ghosts is the first song of the album to start in full force, already exhibiting the violence and anger found in the music by Burial in the Sky from the very first second. Not only this is a very technical composition presenting interesting tempo changes and guitar lines, but also pay attention to the awesome synchronicity between guitars and drums, and to how the band gradually increases the song’s electricity before ending it in a pensive way. And Dimensions Divide, the last blast of technical and furious Death Metal in Persistence of Thought, maintains the overall quality of the album really high, with its blazing guitars and top-notch drumming guiding the musicality, which once again fades into atmospheric sounds and pure melancholy.

In a nutshell, Persistence of Thought might not be an album for the masses due to the intricacy and heaviness of the music present in each one of its tracks, but that doesn’t mean all types of fans of heavy music can’t have a good time listening to it. Simply sit down, relax and absorb the music by Burial in the Sky, or you can also stand up and slam into the pit if that’s your cup of tea. You can purchase Persistence of Thought at their BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon and other different locations, and by doing that you will show your support to this up-and-coming band that knows exactly how to unite the realms of devastation and complexity in a compelling and atmospheric way.

Best moments of the album: Anchors and Galaxy of Ghosts.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Entry I 6:02
2. Entry II 5:47
3. Entry III 4:40
4. Anchors 7:29
5. Galaxy of Ghosts 5:52
6. Dimensions Divide 4:42

Band members
William Okronglis – vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, keys, percussion
James Tomedi – lead guitar, bass, keys, mandolin, slide guitar, percussion
Samus Paulicelli – drums (session)

Guest musician
Danny Greene – additional synths

Album Review – Skáphe / Skáphe² (2016)

Embrace the psychotic and dissonant uproar pouring from the satanic Black Metal crafted by this implacable duo, and you’ll definitely shorten your descent to the netherworld.

Rating5

skhape2_coverBorn in 2014 as a new project from American multi-instrumentalist A.P., also known as Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Esoterica, Krieg), and having released their self-titled debut full-length album that same year, Chaotic Black Metal band Skáphe return with their disturbing music and nightmarish vibe in Skáphe², an album that not only will keep haunting your soul just like their first installment, but that also consolidates this talented American duo as one of the most promising Black Metal acts in the world of heavy music.

The addition of Icelandic singer D.G., or Dagur (Misþyrming, Naðra), added a lot of dark power to this band from Philadelphia, located in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States, enhancing the obscurity, impact and malignancy found in their music. In other words, the macabre passages and enigmatic vociferations in Skáphe² will simply bring your deepest fears to light (or maybe I should say to darkness), a usually desired effect of Black Metal on people. Moreover, the hypnotizing artwork by Icelandic musician and artist H.V. Lyngdal, exhibiting an eviscerated devil devouring a human being, is the perfect depiction of our mental insanity and of our souls poisoned by the same fears exposed in the music by Skáphe.

Instead of regular song names, Skáphe simply numbered their creations from 1 to 6 in Roman numerals. The first track, entitled I, offers a darkling psychedelic start followed by a turmoil of dissonant growls and blast beats that will lacerate your soul, proving why they don’t label themselves “chaotic” in vain. In addition to that, D.G. provides his business card as the demonic voice of Skáphe in this bestial Black Metal chant with lots of Atmospheric Doom elements added to increase its infernal aura. II continues right where the opening track stopped, which means more satanic passages and cavernous screams with A.P. putting all his demons and anger into the music, resulting in sheer darkness. Needless to say, the anguished grasps by D.G. will make you feel very uncomfortable (in a good way, of course).

skhape_apIII, the third installment, is even sharper and more mesmerizing. It’s fast and sludgy at the same time thanks to the excellent job done by A.P. with all instruments, resulting in an ode to Black and Doom Metal represented by four minutes of despair with absolutely no hope in sight. In the Stygian tune IV, D.G. howls like a werewolf during its obscure start, and its eight minutes of extreme music are definitely not suitable at all for the faint at heart. Moreover, after an eerie break in the middle of the song, brutal Black Metal nicely explodes from all instruments for our total delight.

Obviously, the fifth chant, named V, keeps the fires of hell burning bright, showcasing a tormented performance by D.G. enhanced by the reverberating riffs and the doomed drumming by A.P. The tone of the guitar throughout the whole song is amazing, sounding like a downward spiral to Hades. And finally, the last tune VI reminds me of the most obscure songs by Triptykon at first, evolving to an extremely disturbing form of dark music. A.P. has an enraged performance, while D.G. continues his demented path to the underworld. And when the blasting Black Metal music stops, we’re treated to about two minutes of wicked background noises, meaning we’ve finally reached the gates of hell.

You can get more details on the apocalyptic loudness engendered by Skáphe at their Facebook page, and if you really want to add more affliction and pandemonium to your everyday life, you can buy a copy of Skáphe² at the band’s official BandCamp page, at the I, Voidhanger Records’s BandCamp page, at the Fallen Empire Records’ webstore (LP version) or at the Vánagandr’s Big Cartel page (cassette version). Embrace the psychotic and dissonant noises pouring from the satanic Black Metal crafted by this implacable duo, and you’ll consequently shorten your descent to the netherworld.

Best moments of the album: III and V.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 I, Voidhanger Records/Fallen Empire Records/Vánagandr

Track listing
1. I 6:32
2. II 4:40
3. III 4:11
4. IV 8:16
5. V 5:42
6. VI 6:34

Band members
D.G. (Dagur) – vocals
A.P. (Alex Poole) – all instruments

Album Review – Dendritic Arbor / Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden EP (2015)

Follow the exploratory path of madness by a talented five-piece band whose main objective is to provide us distinct extreme music from multiple perspectives.

Rating5

“Different music from multiple perspectives.”

Dendriticarbor_Svog_cover-page-001If you visit the official Facebook page by American Progressive Black Metal quintet Dendritic Arbor, that’s the short and sweet description you’ll find about the eccentric music by this band hailing from the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States, and let me tell you there couldn’t be better words to describe their challenging and lunatic creations and experimentations. I myself consider labeling them as “just” a Progressive Black Metal band a limitation to their unique scope and creativity,  but that’s something I’ll leave up to you to decide after you take a listen at their brand new EP entitled Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden.

Formed in 2012, the band composed of Maxwell Beehner (guitars, vocals), Adam Henderson (guitars, vocals), Thomas Bittner (bass), Chris McCune (drums) and Kyle Lambert (responsible for the “noise”, or whatever that’s supposed to mean) is on a hot streak since their inception, releasing high-quality extreme music no matter if it’s just a single, a full-length album or an EP like Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden. Featuring a more-than-unusual album art designed by Hannah MacAulay and Maxwell Beehner (Ageless Christian Records), this avant-garde four-track album will demolish you like a wrecking ball in its 20 minutes of psychedelic rage.

The weird noises in the beginning of Cotard Delusion (a rare mental illness in which an afflicted person holds the delusion that they are dead, either figuratively or literally) might deceive you a bit, making you think the music by Dendritic Arbor is not as heavy as promised, but as soon as the sonic carnage arises with an explosion of blast beats, absurdly demented guitar riffs and disgruntled howls and barks by both Maxwell and Adam, sounding like there’s a horde of hideous trolls making noises behind the band, you’ll realize these guys are not fooling around. However, things get even more demonic (and therefore better) in Failed Manifestations, a top-notch mix of Black, Death and Thrash Metal, all at once in a powergrinding turmoil, not to mention the “trolls” who keep vociferating their evil spell against mankind. In other words, it’s a complex, progressive and totally destructive nightmare for the faint of heart.

Dendritic Arbor band pictureKeratoconus, which by the way is the name of a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than the more normal gradual curve, offers the listener brutal slamming Black Metal with no shenanigans, with drummer Chris McCune simply crushing everything with his inhuman beats. And what the hell are those wicked lyrics about (“Ruby moonlight harvesting the growth. / golden fishbone, lodged into the throat. / guess whose eating from the trash again?”)? Anyway, Latex, the most progressive of the four tracks, is an eldritch canticle forged in the pits of hell, where the whole band focuses all their strength and vileness to generate an idiosyncratic sonority until it becomes just a fading eerie noise to put an end to the album.

In a nutshell, Dendritic Arbor are not among us to provide us relaxing or charming songs, but a disquieting tsunami of Extreme Metal aiming at your ill-fated soul and your filthy heart. And with Sentient Village // Obsolescent Garden, available at their BandCamp page, they continue their exploratory path of madness that will send to your ears, as aforementioned, distinct heavy music from multiple perspectives.

Best moments of the album: Failed Manifestations.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Cotard Delusion 3:44
2. Failed Manifestations 3:25
3. Keratoconus 6:08
4. Latex 7.37

Band members
Maxwell Beehner – guitars, vocals
Adam Henderson – guitars, vocals
Thomas Bittner – bass
Chris McCune – drums
Kyle Lambert – noise

Album Review – Chip DiMonick / Uncaged EP (2015)

Everybody break out and raise your fists and glasses to this electrifying mix of Hard Rock and Punk Metal.

Rating4

ChipDiMonick-Uncaged-CoverI’ve been receiving some feedback on the material added to The Headbanging Moose, saying this webzine is getting too “evil” with all the Death and Black Metal bands recently reviewed. As this is a very democratic webzine (and to avoid becoming “The Demonic Moose”), it’s time to soothe the mood a little with the top-notch Hard Rock by Pittsburgh-based band Chip DiMonick and their brand new party-all-the-time EP entitled Uncaged, the fifth release in their career. However, that doesn’t mean things are not going to get loud or nasty, so you better be ready to break out and enjoy the music by Chip Dimonick and his notorious crew.

Formed in 2005 and being voted “Best Punk Band” in the Iron City Rocks Pittsburgh Music Awards for the past three consecutive years, this Pennsylvanian quartet is back with two new members (DJ Carothers on lead guitar and Gregg Livengood on drums) and, of course, more of their Hard Rock/Punk Metal music, offering us all catchy tunes talking about love, hate and revenge, among other bitter topics. “Uncaged is all about breaking down the barriers that restrict who you are, whether imposed by yourself, society, or whomever”, said Chip DiMonick, founder of the band.

From the very first notes of the title-track, Uncaged, you can already get a sense of how interesting the mix of Hard Rock and Punk Rock in their music is. It’s gripping “pub” music, perfect to be played on any radio station, where Chip commands the festivities with the song’s sing-along chorus (“Hey, tonight we’re uncaged / You can’t hold us down / Hey, forever uncaged / Everybody break out”) while the rest of the band delivers solid Rock N’ Roll lines. And they keep rolling on with You Ain’t Punk, a message to their haters due to their aforementioned awards as “Best Punk Band” in Pittsburgh (“You ain’t punk, you ain’t punk, I bet you never saw the Misfits once…”). Talking about the music itself, it sounds like if Green Day (especially the riffs found in the classic “Welcome to Paradise”) met Motley Crüe: they managed to stay heavy even adding that specific Punk Rock sounding we’re used to listen on the radio, leaning towards fresh and exciting Punk Metal with highlights to the strong bass lines by Joe P.

ChipDiMonickPressPhotoThe band gets heavier and slower in That’s How Much I Hate You, a pure Rock N’ Roll tune thanks to DJ Carothers for his awesome guitar riffs and solo which would definitely be an excellent song for a strip-tease, despite its acid lyrics. Actually, I guess the lyrics would also be perfect for that special “presentation”, don’t you agree? Anyway, the following track, Lightning Bolt, is a smooth Hard Rock ballad that seems to have been crafted in the 80’s or 90’s so classic it is, with the great vocal performance by Chip adding the emotion the song demands. Girls will fall in love for this ballad, no doubt about that.

The last two songs in Uncaged are just as good and catchy as everything else, starting with Hand Grenade (check out the acoustic version HERE), another incredible radio-ready tune where all band members are throwing their “hand grenades” in the form of fast and heavy riffs in total sync with the drums by Gregg, boosted by huge doses of energy. Let me say that the fact it’s the heaviest of all songs has nothing to do with it being my favorite of all tracks. Or maybe yes? Well, the last track of all, Dig Deep, is yet again a melodic display of pure Hard Rock enhanced by hints of Rap Metal. And how not to feel inspired by these simple but very effective lyrics (“You gotta dig deep, you gotta have faith / Put all those doubts right in their place / When you’re dead and gone, you can finally sleep / But you’re alive right now so you gotta dig deep”)?

In a nutshell, pick any song from Uncaged, play it on the radio and you have an instant hit. As simple as that. And if you like what you see, go check their official Facebook page and also grab your copy of Uncaged on CD Baby, Amazon or iTunes. Let’s break out and raise our fists and glasses to the heartening music by this awesome American band.

Best moments of the album: Uncaged and Hand Grenade.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Uncaged 4:09
2. You Ain’t Punk 3:47
3. That’s How Much I Hate You 4:02
4. Lightning Bolt 3:39
5. Hand Grenade 3:04
6. Dig Deep 3:01

Band members
Chip DiMonick – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Joe P. – bass, backing vocals
DJ Carothers – lead guitar
Gregg Livengood – drums