Album Review – Meathook / Crypts, Coffins, Corpses (2019)

Terror is coming in the form of an absolute ode to all things brutal by this ruthless and demented Death Metal squad from Arizona.

The very first album review of 2019 is an absolute ode to all things brutal, and I’m sure you’ll feel completely disoriented after listening to its 31 minutes of pulverizing and gruesome extreme music. I’m talking about Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, the third full-length installment by American Brutal Death Metal unity Meathook, released on January 1 via Unmatched Brutality Records. Formed in 2007 in Phoenix, Arizona by the Gonzales Brothers, Meathook are ready to strike again six years after the the cruel assault of their 2012 album, Facing Deformity, and their depraved inclinations have only become more sickening with the passage of time.

If the dreams of the deranged could be captured in music, if the tales of their sleeping journeys through kingdoms of the unspeakable and grotesque were vomited out from the mouths of demons, then you would have the sound found in Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, comprised of nine crushing hymns of old school, unrelenting Brutal Death Metal highly recommended for fans of Devourment, Skinless, Ingested and Terrordrome, among other utterly vicious and demolishing metal bands. As the new year begins, a new age of dark dreams and devastation will dawn with the new opus by Meathook, so simply say goodbye to quiet nights and untroubled sleep because terror is coming in the form of the most extreme type of music you can think of.

Wicked noises explode into sheer brutality led by the demented beats by drummer Johnny Gonzales in the opening track Awaiting Torment, while lead singer Mars Gonzales barks like a rabid demon in a feast of violent, gory and visceral sounds just the way we like it; and their onrush of crushing noises goes on in Cauldron of Dead Bodies, a lesson in Brutal Death Metal where guitarists Robin Mack and Aaron Gonzales decimate their strings beautifully, delivering classic Death Metal riffs while the roars by Mars get deeper and deeper. Then Mars once again leads his horde of sick bastards in Purification Through Pain, almost vomiting the lyrics (and therefore making it quite impossible to follow them) while Johnny pulverizes everything and everyone with his bestial drumming, followed by the fulminating title-track Crypts, Coffins, Corpses, perfect for braking your spinal cord in half headbanging, with Robin and Aaron being in total sync with their axes supported by the low-tuned punches by bassist Elliot Thomas in a lecture in gore and dementia. And in Placed Upon the Altar we’re treated to a high-octane devastation bringing the most disturbing and gruesome elements from Brutal Death Metal such as inhumane growls, incendiary guitars and nonstop blast beats, or in other words, another sensational creation by this devilish Death Metal squad.

Leaning towards old school Cannibal Corpse but at the same time presenting a more contemporary vibe, Temples Made From Flesh is a song perfect for slamming into the pit, with Mars sounding absolutely monstrous on vocals, whereas in Disseminated Remains an operatic intro morphs into an ass-kicking display of savagery led by Johnny’s potent and rhythmic beats, hammering our heads mercilessly from start to finish. If you’re still alive after such gargantuan level of havoc blasted by Meathook up until now, you better get ready because the album’s second to last bloodthirsty extravaganza, titled Awakened by the Stench, is just as perverse and vile as the rest of the album, with Mars and Johnny complementing each other’s demonic roars and beats respectively. And last but not least, closing their Death Metal coffin the band offers our avid ears the insanely heavy and brutal Coils of Entrails, presenting hints of the most devastating form of Grindcore, not to mention Mars’ spine-tingling screeches and gnarls as well as Robin’s and Aaron’s razor-edged riffs.

If you have what it takes to face the disturbing and thunderous Death Metal by Meathook, you can take a detailed listen at Crypts, Coffins, Corpses on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you’re already a longtime member of the Death Metal underworld you can purchase your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Unmatched Brutality Records webstore, or from the Comatose Music webstore. As aforementioned, the first review of 2019 was going to be a total carnage, and we have to thank the guys from Meathook  for kicking off this new year on such a high, apocalyptic and barbaric mode for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Cauldron of Dead Bodies, Crypts, Coffins, Corpses and Placed Upon the Altar.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Unmatched Brutality Records

Track listing
1. Awaiting Torment 3:28
2. Cauldron of Dead Bodies 3:39
3. Purification Through Pain 3:09
4. Crypts, Coffins, Corpses 3:38
5. Placed Upon the Altar 3:19
6. Temples Made From Flesh 3:04
7. Disseminated Remains 3:56
8. Awakened by the Stench 3:32
9. Coils of Entrails 3:37

Band members
Mars Gonzales – vocals
Robin Mack – guitar
Aaron Gonzales – guitar
Elliot Thomas – bass
Johnny Gonzales – drums

Album Review – Ghost Horizon / The Erotics of Disgust EP (2017)

Four distinct compositions that will pierce into your mind and soul in a beautiful way, brought forth by a musician that definitely knows how to transform his deepest feelings into great music.

If you’re an admirer of the most obscure and melancholic forms of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal, I have some very good news for you. Critically acclaimed Post-Black Metal act Ghost Horizon is back with a brand new EP, titled The Erotics of Disgust, a follow-up (but with a considerably different sounding) to the band’s previous EP Astral Possessions, released in 2016.  This time around, this Phoenix-based project consists of founder Dan Stollings on vocals and all stringed instruments, and newcomer “Frog” Magus (Norse) on drums, who together brought into being four distinct compositions that will pierce into your soul and crush your feelings in a beautiful way.

Dan commented that the EP “has been waiting in the darkness for quite a while now – it’s been completed for months. It’s been hard to let this EP into the world, because in a lot of ways, I’m sharing some pretty deep emotions that I would never talk about otherwise. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in the process of its creation, and I think that’s reflected pretty heavily in the music. The decision to do the vocals myself was also a part of this realization that in order to portray exactly what I’m thinking, I need to use my own voice. Nothing on this album is perfect. I didn’t want it to be perfect. At first I went into writing with the mentality that this will be the best produced thing I’ve ever done, but after finishing the vocals, I realized this thing needs to be raw. And so it was.” After reading such powerful words by Dan, I’m sure you’re more than curious to listen to The Erotics of Disgust, but once again let me warn you that the music might be too dark for the average listener.

Radiant Eyes presents an introspective beginning for this new phase of Ghost Horizon, gradually morphing into a dark amalgamation of Blackened Doom and Post-Black Metal with hints of progressiveness enhancing the song’s depressive sonority. Moreover, “Frog” Magus does an amazing job on drums, maintaining the song’s dense rhythm flowing smoothly. In So Hollow, not only Dan surprises us with his clean vocals supported by a gentle ambience, but the song’s lyrics also prove that he’s definitely a skillful poet of darkness (“You can take it all / Everything we know / You can break it all / You chose a path I cannot follow / You left a heart in me so hollow / Changing skies above / Breaking hearts below / On again / True love / Off again / Bruised love”). This is modern and gripping Atmospheric Black Metal that brings at the same time peace and hopelessness to our hearts, making us eager for more of the music by Ghost Horizon.

Following a similar pattern to the previous song, This Forever Flow also presents delicate guitars and bass lines together with the Doom Metal-inspired beats by “Frog”, with its last piece getting heavier due to the harsh growls by Dan without losing its core subtlety. Besides, how not to get touched by its profound lyrics (“Fading from my heart is the will to be one / Fear in my words – last words to my love / Fire fading quickly, your lips have left me cold / The ending of a romance with the ending left untold”)? Lastly, featuring guitarist and composer Tyler Allen on guest vocals, Ghost Horizon deliver a full-bodied darkened composition bursting with anguish, despair and melancholy entitled Whispers, with its Black Metal riffs and blast beats bringing an extra dosage of obscurity to the overall musicality. In my humble opinion, it’s the best and most complete of the four songs of the EP, the type of music I would like to see Dan explore even more with his future releases.

In summary, although many people have a lot of difficulties to talk about their deepest feelings, it seems that Dan has simply mastered how to express his own feelings through the music by Ghost Horizon. However, you have to be very open-minded and absorb each second of The Erotics of Disgust in order to fully understand the whole message delivered by Dan this time, letting your mind and soul minutely merge with the music found on this fine album. And you can always get to know Ghost Horizon in more detail through their Facebook page and listen to their music on Spotify, as well as purchase your copy of The Erotics of Disgust on BandCamp, at the Tridroid Records’ webshop, on Cd Baby, on Amazon or on iTunes. The Erotics of Disgust is certainly not Dan’s last stint with his Ghost Horizon, which means there’s still a lot to come from such distinct act, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Best moments of the album: Whispers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Radiant Eyes 4:11
2. So Hollow 4:05
3. This Forever Flow 5:01
4. Whispers 4:34

Band members
Dan Stollings – all stringed instruments, vocals
“Frog” Magus – drums

Guest musician
Tyler Allen – additional vocals on “Whispers”

Album Review – Eths / Ankaa (2016)

One of the most prominent and innovative French bands of all time returns with a true masterpiece of complexity, darkness and heaviness, shining brighter than the main star of the Phoenix constellation.

Rating2

CoverThere’s a thin line between change and evolution several bands worldwide can’t or simply just don’t know how to walk without losing their balance and, consequently, damaging their core essence. Fortunately, this is not the case with French Neo-Metal adventurers Eths, who in my humble opinion have just released their boldest and most innovative album to date, the splendid Ankaa, but still being the Eths we all learned to love. Although I had been preparing myself for quite a while for another blast of creativity by Mr. Staif Bihl and his bandmates, I must say I was blown away by the level of intricacy, darkness and heaviness found throughout the entire album. This beautiful work-of-art crafted by this distinguished group hailing from the city of Marseille, France is the perfect depiction of what evolution in music is all about, and it will surely help spread the electricity and emotions flowing from the music by Eths to the entire world.

Ankaa, which features a unique selection of guest musicians such as Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Sarah Layssac (Arkan), Jon Howard (Threat Signal), Faustine Berardo and session drummer Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork), not to mention it is also Eths’ first full-length album with the stunning Rachel Aspe on vocals, shines brighter than the main star of the Phoenix constellation, which by the way was the inspiration for the album name. “This album is linked to the cosmos and the concept of rebirth for the band as well as personally”, said Staif, and that’s indeed what you’ll experience while listening to each one of its twelve jaw-dropping multi-layered songs, all beautifully and meticulously connected to tell a bigger story to the listener. Again, Eths might have changed their musicality in Ankaa considerably, but it was a change towards evolution that no one in their right mind should ever complain about.

One of the best compositions in the history of Eths, entitled Nefas (the Latin word for “atrocity” or “wrong”), kicks off Ankaa in a very impactful way, being insanely heavier, faster and darker than anything the band has ever done before. It’s a feast of Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal, Alternative Metal and many other subgenres of heavy music perfectly put together, and pay good attention to what our screaming diva Rachel does with her “voix incroyable”, it sounds beyond astonishing. Nihil Sine Causa (or “nothing happens without a cause”, from Latin), featuring Sarah Layssac and Jon Howard, is yet another obscure and thunderous composition where the band’s mastermind Staif showcases his always solid guitar lines, with the addition of the Arabic words by Sarah as well as the electronic effects during the song’s second half bringing a fresh taste to the music. And in Amaterasu, part of the Japanese myth cycle seen as the goddess of the Sun and the Universe, Dirk (who sounds like a beast behind his drums) makes a great duo with newcomer Damien Rivoal and his low-tuned and heavy as hell bass lines. Moreover, it’s impossible not to love this brutal Groove Metal aria, and I don’t recall coming across such a powerful triumvirate of songs like these starting an album in recent years.

eths 2016All the craziness, occultism and darkness found in Ankaa keep growing with each and every song, and in Seditio (or “rebellion”, from Latin) that couldn’t be any different. It amuses me how Rachel can sound like a beauty and a beast at the same time, showcasing all her vocal skills and contributing to the song being heavier than usual but still innovative and progressive, just like we expect from such a talented group of musicians. Then we have the startling Nixi Dii, a general term applied by the Romans to those divinities who were believed to assist women at the time when they were giving birth to a child, where its eerie background effects, demonic drumming, choir-like backing vocals and lots of breaks and variations, together with Rachel growling like an evil queen, are all the ingredients you need for awesomeness. In other words, it offers you eight minutes of the best modern metal music you can find in the entire world. And just when you think things couldn’t get more alternative we’re treated to Vae Victis (Latin for “woe to the vanquished”), with Staif providing an amazing piano base for Rachel to shine once again, this time with a mix of clean vocals and visceral growls. As a side note, the production of the album is so brilliant you can clearly hear every single note coming out of each instrument, enhancing the overall experience even more.

The next song, named HAR1 (the acronym for human accelerated region 1, a short DNA region identified recently to have evolved the most rapidly among highly constrained regions since the divergence from our common ancestor with chimpanzee) and featuring Björn “Speed” Strid, gets closer to traditional Melodic Death Metal thanks to the contribution of Björn, but of course with Eths’ own touch added to it; while in Sekhet Aaru, the Egyptian reed fields considered the heavenly paradise where Osiris rules in ancient Egyptian mythology, your soul will be transported to those fields in a flawless fusion of alternative and occult music. Sarah is back with her gorgeous voice as a guest vocalist in Kumari Kandam, which refers to a hypothetical lost continent with an ancient Tamil civilization (located south of present-day India, in the Indian Ocean), perhaps the closest song to Eths’ old musicality with Damien and Dirk providing all the uproar while Rachel takes care of the song’s tranquility, sorrow and anguish.

eths-ankaa-digibox

Ankaa Deluxe Digibox

Last but not least, Eths bring forward a spine-tingling trilogy inspired by the Orion constellation, accurately representing the idea of rebirth. The first piece of this trilogy is named Alnitak, a multiple star (also known as “Zeta Orionis”) that’s part of the famous Orion’s Belt, which Staif effectively translated into an epic and vibrant chant overflowing his deepest emotions. The second piece, entitled Alnilam, a large blue supergiant star also known as “Epsilon Orionis” estimated to be 275,000 to 537,000 times as luminous as the Sun and around 34 times as massive, is an extremely powerful and aggressive tune led by a relentless Rachel, with Dirk yet again pounding his drums mercilessly. And finally, the climatic end to this trilogy comes in the form of another violent chant with esoteric passages and a pleasant ambience named Mintaka, from منطقة (“manṭaqa”), which means “the belt” in Arabic.

As aforementioned, calling Ankaa simply as a “change” in the music direction by Eths is an understatement of the actual evolution Staif, Rachel and the others reached with their musicality, as well as of the brilliant destiny that lies ahead for them. Ankaa is not just another regular metal album, and I’m sure it will shortly become a reference in contemporary heavy music. Thus, if you want to join Eths in this exciting path they are taking towards the future of Heavy Metal, I suggest you go grab your copy of Ankaa (which can be listened to in its entirety HERE), in special its top-notch deluxe digibox including a CD and an exclusive DVD “Live at Hellfest 2015” in digisleeve with a 24 page booklet, an Eths metal key ring and a pyramid folding card, at the Season Of Mist webshop or at the Napalm Records webshop. After listening to such a masterpiece like Ankaa, you will quickly realize it is no wonder Eths are considered by many the most prominent and innovative French band of all time.

Best moments of the album: Nefas, Nihil Sine Causa, Amaterasu, Nixi Dii and, from the Orion-inspired trilogy, I would say Alnilam is the most entertaining composition.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Season Of Mist

Track listing
1. Nefas 3:50
2. Nihil Sine Causa (feat. Sarah Layssac and Jon Howard) 4:53
3. Amaterasu 3:57
4. Seditio 6:36
5. Nixi Dii 7:58
6. Vae Victis 5:05
7. HAR1 (feat. Björn “Speed” Strid) 4:04
8. Sekhet Aaru 4:09
9. Kumari Kandam (feat. Sarah Layssac and Faustine Berardo) 4:15
10. Alnitak 4:04
11. Alnilam 3:40
12. Mintaka 5:07

Band members
Rachel Aspe – lead vocals
Staif Bihl – guitars, keyboards, programming, vocals
Damien Rivoal – bass
R.U.L. – drums (live)

Guest musicians
Dirk Verbeuren – drums (studio recording)
Sarah Layssac – additional vocals on “Nihil Sine Causa” and “Kumari Kandam”
Jon Howard – additional vocals on “Nihil Sine Causa”
Björn “Speed” Strid – additional vocals on “HAR1”
Faustine Berardo – additional vocals on “Kumari Kandam”

Album Review – Ghost Horizon / Astral Possession EP (2016)

An excellent Black Metal release exhaling agony, torment and depression, crafted by a promising American duo that has all it takes to succeed in the world of extreme music.

Rating5

Album CoverStraight from the city of Phoenix, located in the southwestern state of Arizona, in the United States, comes a band that aims at bringing pitch-black darkness not only to their precious Valley of the Sun, but also to the rest of the world with their unconditional rage and hopelessness. This wrathful band is called Ghost Horizon, and the quality of the music they offer us metalheads during the 12 minutes of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal found in their debut EP, entitled Astral Possession, is undoubtedly beyond what anyone could expect from such a fresh new act.

Formed in 2015 by ex-Severed Receptors and Psychobliss guitarist Dan Stollings, the obscurity crafted by Ghost Horizon will definitely please fans of bands such as Wolves in the Throne Room, Woods of Ypres and Alcest, among other eccentric Extreme Metal groups. Moreover, when you listen to the music in Astral Possession, you can rest assured you’re listening to truthful music and not to any type of shenanigans many bands tend to deliver just to sound badass or evil. “Ghost Horizon, to me, is everything I ever wanted in a band. I can express both my anger/depression and happiness to whatever degree I wish, while also allowing the two opposite emotions to marry.”, commented Daniel on the direction of the band.

Ghost Horizon pic2The ominous intro in Pale Apparition warms up the listener for a brutal fusion of Doom and Black Metal effectively fired by the duo, with the desperate vocals by Uræus being exactly what the music needs to be more imposing. In addition, string-man Daniel keeps delivering flammable guitar and bass lines until the music flows into a melancholic ending. Spectral Threnody gets even more somber, sounding like Blackened Doom with deeper growls and a sorrowful ambience where Uræus does a superb job on drums with all his tempo changes and blast beats. And lastly, the demonic composition Astral Possession (The Cold Years Unearthed) closes the EP  in a powerful way, bringing forward modern but at the same time raw Black Metal perfect for fans of old school extreme music who are looking for something new in their lives. It’s indeed a feast of classic Black Metal riffs by Daniel which do not sound outdated at all, while Uræus keeps spreading electric darkness through his devilish vocals.

All the agony and torment provided in the form of extreme music by Ghost Horizon can be relished at their Facebook page and SoundCloud, and Astral Possession can pretty soon be purchased through their BandCamp page or on Amazon. Put differently, if you love extreme music exhaling anger, depression, anguish and sorrow all at the same time in a solid and convincing way, don’t waste your time and go check the high-end Black Metal by this dynamic American duo right now.

Best moments of the album: Astral Possession (The Cold Years Unearthed).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Pale Apparition 4:31
2. Spectral Threnody 3:08
3. Astral Possession (The Cold Years Unearthed) 4:08

Band members
Uræus – vocals, drums, additional instruments
Daniel Stollings – guitars, bass